tv PBS News Hour PBS November 25, 2021 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> brangham: good evening and happy thanksgiving. i'm william brangham. judy woodruff is away. on the "newshour" tonight, hunger in america: this holiday, many americans face food insecurity amid the ongoing pandemic and rising prices. >> we live on top of a whole foods that we can't afford to shop at, so we feel the weight of food inflation and insecurity on us every day. >> brangham: then, california burning-- the state's largest utility company faces questions over whether its aging equipment sparked this year's biggest wildfire. and, america divided-- how the culture wars engulfing the country are finding their way into nearly every facet of political conversation.
>> there's a sense now that each side sees the other as an existential threat, and that intensifies our, our public discourse. it intensifies the anger and the fear. >> brangham: all that and more on tonight's "pbs newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has bn provided by: that's fidelity wealth management. >> johnson & johnson. >> bnsf railway. >> consumer cellular. >> financial services firm
>> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brangham: millions of americans have celebrated this thanksgiving day with a return to traditions after the pandemic pause last year, and with infections rising once again. in new york this morning, thousands gathered to watch git inflated balloons and marching bands in the macy's thanksgiving day parade. and in nantucket, massachusetts, president biden and mrs. biden met with u.s. coast guard members, thanking them for their service. meanwhile, native american activists held an annual day of mourning at plymouth, where the pilgrims first landed. they said it marks t disease and oppression inflicted on them by european settlers. the covid surge across europe raised new alarms today, as germany became the fifth european nation to pass 100,000 deaths from the virus.
the czech republic declared a 30-day emergency, and france announced stricter mask mandates. meanwhile, the european commission warned against growing travel restrictions, and called for all 27 e.u. members to observe the same rules on vaccinations. >> ( translated ): in today's recommendation, we are saying that anyone who has received a booster should be considered fully vaccinated. there is an obvious risk that differing approaches between countries could endanger confidence in the covid certificate system, and harm free movement in the union. >> brangham: europe now accounts for nearly two thirds of new covid infections globally, with around a million new cases reported every two days. russia is insisting it's had no involvement with the so-called“ havana syndrome” that's been affecting u.s. diplomats overseas. the kremlin's denial followed a "washington post" report that c.i.a. director william burns has warned moscow of potential consequences. u.s. officials and family members have reported
unexplained brain injuries, hearing loss and other ailments, with the first starting in havana, cuba, back in 2016. a fire inside a coal mine in russian siberia triggered a major tragedy today. the "tass" news agency reports 52 people were killed. emergency crews arrived in snowy conditions, to try to reach those trapped underground, but three of the rescuers died, and operations were halted. there was no word on the cause of the fire. in sudan, thousands of protesters marched today, renewing their demands for a full civilian government. they rallied in khartoum, opposing a deal with military leaders that let prime minister abdallah hamdok return to office. instead, they demanded a complete end to military rule. >> ( translated ): hamdok came back without any power and without any decisions. why did you come back, hamdok? the sudanese people are on the street. the sudanese people don't want
the army chief in charge. >> brangham: the armed forces staged a coup in october, but top generals have promised new elections. and, australia is sending troops and diplomats to the solomon islands amid violent protests there. two days of unrest have rocked the islands' capital city, about 1,000 miles northeast of australia. demonstrators burned chinese- owned stores amid criticism of their nation's closer ties with beijing. they also breached the national parliament building. australian forces say they'll help guard key sites, but their mission is limited. >> our purpose here is to provide stability and security to enable the normal constitutional processes within the solomon islands to be able to deal with various issues that have arisen. it is not the australian government's intention in any way to intervene in the internal affairs of the solomon islands. >> brangham: the two countries have a security treaty, and australian forces helped restore
peace in the solomons after ethnic violence from 2003 to 2017. still to come on the "newshour," a new book explores the origins of the fraught state of american politics; the former head of saudi intelligence discusses his country's decades-long involvement in afghanistan; a new exhibit displays a collection of titian paintings not seen together in hundreds of years; plus much more. >> brangham: on this day when americans traditionally gather with friends and family to celebrate the bounty of food, there are still many in this country struggling to feed themselves. according to the u.s.d.a, almost 15% of families with kids in the u.s. suffer from what's known as
"food insecurity." as the pandemic continues and prices rise, amna nawaz has a closer look at the toll all of this is taking on americans. >> reporter: on a recent morning in virginia, dozens of people bundled up against the november chill to wait for a thanksgiving turkey. the line at the arlington food assistance center was orderly and socially distanced. and in the middle was cynthia anthony, a 73-year-old grappling with how to make ends meet. she moved through the line... checked in... greeted volunteers she's come to know over the past year she's been a regular visitor... and collected her food items. >> food stamps is not enough to hold me throughout the month. $20 on food stamps don't get you nothing, and that's what i get. >> reporter: what do $20 in food stamps get you these days? >> a half a gallon of milk and like a pack of hot dogs and $1,
man as one loaf of bread. i might be able to get a dozen eggs if i don't i get a half a dozen? that's where the $20 stop at. that's for a few days. i got 28 or 29 more days to go. >> reporter: anthony is not alone. 55-year old ana dheming started coming here after she injured her wrist and couldn't work her hotel job anymore. here, she's able to pick up the essentials. >> they give me tomato, or some onion, potato, then say, i don't have to buy. >> reporter: and then there's 23-year old jax garnett, a military spouse and mom of five who's currently looking for work. >> we live on top of a whole foods that we can't afford to shop at, so we feel the weight of food inflation and insecurity on us every day. >> reporter: a recent survey found that the pandemic made it harder for nearly one out of
every three americans to access food. and of those who responded that they had fewer financial resources, nearly half said they were eating less. >> you know, the minimum wage is still $7.25. so, that that really is impossible to live on. >> reporter: charles meng is the head of the arlington food assistance center. he says since the pandemic started there's one group they've been seeing more of. >> the typical profile is really the working poor. that's the group that changes the most. and you know, yes, we have seen an increase very significantly in that particular group >> reporter: one reason: rising costs at grocery stores across the country. $1 just doesn't go as far. a pound of ground beef is up nearly 18% over last year. bacon is up 28%. eggs, 29%. >> for low income households, about a third of their total income is spent on food. so, this makes it really difficult to have any, any
margin right now for them to, to be able to feed their families. >> reporter: katie fitzgerald is the president of the non-profi“" feeding america,” that coordinates a network of 200 food banks nationwide. >> so, we're seeing, you know, skyrocketing transportation costs, labor challenges at food banks still a challenge to get enough volunteers in and then just the price of food itself is really pricing out some products that food banks otherwise would normally be procuring for their communities. >> reporter: at the arlington food assistance center, director charles meng said they bought 2,400 turkeys to hand out ahead of thanksgiving-- but that came at a cost. >> last year, we paid a $1.05 per pound for turkeys. we're now paying a dollar, almost $1.42 per pound. so, there has been a tremendous increase in that cost. and if you're one of our clients, you see that cost in your daily grocery store bill. >> reporter: part of what's at play in higher grocery bills begins in backed up container
ships in ports around the world. a lack of truck drivers to transport goods. higher gas prices. it all adds up to sticker shock on grocery store shelves. and food banks aren't immune. >> the safety net is subject to those same pressures, right? so, on one hand, if you think about the supply chain backups, we have orders that food banks have for canned fruit and vegetables in particular, that that's right now a major problem that are just not being fulfilled and are delayed weeks, sometimes months. the challenges for the supply chain are not sustainable for us because they're impacting food donations as more food that would otherwise come to us is going to the secondary market. >> reporter: another issue facing hungry america: more than 54 million americans live in areas with poor access to healthy food. >> that's why food insecurity in the united states looks like obesity. you know, we have an abundance,
but it's the wrong food. >> reporter: in arlington, they've made it part of their mission to help people get more nutritious foods that often come at a higher cost into their diets. with five children, jax garnett says it's a big reason she started coming. >> you know, sometimes you're like, okay, i don't want to make macaroni again, even though they like it, that's not nutritious. i need substance. there's a lot of other great resources that are food drives or easy pickup options, but a lot of them don't have fruits and vegetables. so, to get something fresh, to get milk, eggs, fruits and vgetables, this is one of the few opportunities in arlington that offers that. >> reporter: and with a turkey in her backpack, garnett headed off-- better prepared to feed her family this thanksgiving. for the pbs newshour in arlington, virginia, i'm amna nawaz.
>> brangham: unlike last thanksgiving, which fell in the depths of the pandemic, the creation of vaccines means many of us can gather more safely with our loved ones this holiday. we heard from people across the country about the ways they're celebrating this year and what they're most grateful for. >> hi, my name is greg tanner, and i live in rockville, maryland. i think this year, given everything that's happened during the pandemic, we want to take even the smallest things that give us joy and really realize how important they are to us. >> i'm michelle delgado. i'm from aurora, colorado. i'm grateful for the response from my family, how we've reached out to each other. >> my name is jean darnell and i'm a middle school librarian and pflugerville, texas. i'm thankful to have a job. last thanksgiving, i didn't. i was out with current quarantine and whatnot, and so, i am eternally grateful to be here in a library again.
inspiring kids. >> i'm kevin reid from seattle, washington, and i'm thankful for shelter food. i live in seattle, so we have a lot of homeless around and you're reminded constantly how fortunate you are just to have a home and food. >> my name is jessie shapley. i'm 35. i live in houston, texas. this year, we're really looking forward to being together as a family. now that my five year olds are vaccinated and we're all vaccinated. >> my name is silvia garcia- livelli. i live in bethesda, maryland. i think that we all have felt the stress of knowing how fragile life is and how important it is that we are not isolated entities. we are required of a group that shared responsibility support. >> my grandchildren have sent me artwork. my grandson, he and his mom traced his arms and his body on tissue paper and sent me a hug, which i still have hanging on my wall. >> and i go out in the morning
and i could see the stars and the planets and the moon and everything. i'm just aware of being there, we're on this ball of rock in space. i'm just thankful for the life and everything that's on there and being a part of it and being on the cutting edge of billions of years of evolution, that's always kind of exciting. >> my plans this thanksgiving is to get in the kitchen with my sons. im going to teach them what goes into their favorite dishes, whether it's sweet potato pie or bacon, mac and cheese. those, "mama, this is so good. how did you make recipe online?" you're going to make it this thanksgiving. i'm going to sit on a stool somewhere in the kitchen to supervise, delegate. >> i'm an only child, so it's going to be my mom, my dad and i are spending thanksgiving just that they're home. i love to cook. i order out a lot, but there's nothing like a home cooked meal. >> i am going to just breathe, be present and be happy and just enjoy the warm there that comes from interaction from family and friends. >> i know my daughter's really looking forward to hugging my mom.
they haven't seen each other in person for a little over a year. and i know we're all really excited for that. just hugs, lots and lots of hugs again. >> brangham: this year marks the humidity and high winds increased the risk of starting dangerous wildfires. while a record drought is driven by climate change, the initial spark often comes from utility equipment and their power lines. fire investigators are looking into whether another utility, pg&e, was behind the nation's largest fire so far this year. from from kqed and the california newsroom, lily jamali reports
how their findings could have ramifications for the victims of past fires caused by the utility company. >> reporter: after 3 months, firefighters in california have contained the dixie fire, which this summer engulfed almost a million acres-- an area bigger than rhode island. it's the second largest fire in california history, and has left at least 1,000 people homeless. it may have been started by equipment belonging to california's largest utility, pacific gas & electric-- or pg&e. pg&e has been implicated in several devastating fires, including the deadly camp fire, which destroyed the town of paradise in the sierra nevada foothills almost three years ago. it was sparked when this hook that kept a power line suspended snapped after a century of use, causing sparks to fly onto dry brush below. the company ultimately pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the residents who died in the camp fire. last year, bill johnson, pg&e's
then-c.e.o., entered the company's pleas: >> i wish there was some way to take back what happened or to take away the impact, the pain that these people have suffered, but i know that can't be done. >> reporter: among the tens of thousas of people who lost homes in that blaze is: teri lindsay. since the fire, she and her family have been crammed into one trailer after another. >> there were five people, x dogs2 guinea pigs, all living in this mobile home. >> reporter: teri escaped with her daughter erika, who was just seven when they fled for their lives. erika still struggles to talk about what happened. >> she was really affected. she sees a little campfire in a pit, and she gets scared of the smoke. she hears sirens, she gets worried. she is so traumatized by this.
>> reporter: this past summer, the lindys were on the long list of pg&e fire survivors waiting to get paid from a controversial settlement set up as the company left bankruptcy last year. 70,000 people who lost homes, businesses, and loved ones to fires caused by the company were promised $13.5 billion, but the settlement has never been worth that amount. and so far, most fire victims haven't received a dime. pg&e set up a compensation fund for these victims with $6.75 billion in cash, and in a highly unusual outcome, almost 500 million shares of pg&e itself. that's left pg&e fire survivors collectively holding almost a quarter of the company's shares through a special trust, whose value fluctuates with the price of pg&e stock. >> reporter: william abrams was
one of several fire survivors who objected to those terms. his family lost their sonoma county home in 2017. he says the deal has tethered the victims compensation to pg&e's performance. >> here's this company that burned down your house. they are forcing you to take an investment in their company. >> reporter: this past spring, more than 100 fire survivors organized a march in the fire- ravaged town of paradise. >> come on through. >> reporter: making it known they're unhappy. after more than a year, just 12% of even the cash portion of their settlement has made it to them. this, as independent administrators have racked up at least a $100 million in fees, with no end in sight. >> it's a trust that's set up for fire victims. yes, so many months and years down the line, many fire victims haven't seen much. everybody is frustrated.
>> reporter: teri lindsay told fellow survivors she needs cash in her hands and a roof over her head. >> i'm angry. my daughter can't heal until we can go home! >> reporter: these victims have watched as pg&e comes under scrutiny for more fires and faces charges for more deaths. the company is facing criminal prosecution for a 2019 wine country fire, and was charged last month with its second round of manslaughter charges for a 2020 fire in shasta county. >> their failure was reckless and criminally negligent and it resulted in the deaths of four people. >> reporter: pg&e acknowledges that fire was caused when a tree fell onto its lines but disputes the claim that it's criminally liable. a tree striking its lines also caused the dixie fire, this year's largest, which pg&e is being investigated for now. >> that tree-- that tree that
fell on our line is one of eight million trees that are in strike distance to our lines. this is an extraordinary problem. >> reporter: pg&e declined our request to interview c.e.o. patti poppe for this story. but the company sent us a statement, saying that it is“ hardening its system, piloting new technologies, and taking other aggressive action to increase system safety.” the safety plan pg&e has submitted to state regulators lays out just how tall an order that is. more than 30,000 miles of pg&e's power lines run through “high threat fire districts.” places like this neighborhood in the city of fremont just outside san francisco. it's ringed with high voltage pg&e power lines. >> these houses-- they're right up against the hillside. so, if there was to be a fire, it's right up against people's homes. >> reporter: nathaniel skinner is a manager at the internal watchdog agency of california's
utility regulator. he says pg&e has stepped up work on its system in recent years, but adds the goal posts are constantly changing amid relentless change at the top. >> we've been through a never ending cycle of c.e.o.s at the company, and yet we still keep seeing the same kinds of problems at the utility. missed inspections. delayed inspections. falsified inspections. >> reporter: for 2021, of those 30,000 miles of power lines in high risk zones, just 1,800 miles are slated for pg&e's stepped-up tree trimming program, and less than 200 miles are set to undergo major upgrades. the company is behind on those goals, but even at its planned pace, advocates like skinner say it would take pg&e up to 100 years to address those risks across its system. teri lindsay's temporary home is in the fire zone. she worries about what's ahead. peak fire season isn't over. with climate change, these fires
aren't going away. >> it gets really windy through here. >> reporter: this fall, she learned how much she's owed for her losses, but she'll get just 30% for now as pg&e stock flounders. and they'll never get back all that they lost-- including their town. >> to see all this-- everything gone. ashes. it's not something i would wish on anybody. >> reporter: for fire survivors, promises of a safer pg&e have come too little, too late. for the pbs newshour, i'm lily jamali in northern california. >> brangham: families gather on thanksgiving hoping every year that politics is not on the menu.
no more so than this year. amna nawaz is back with a look at why it seems that cultural and political polarization seems to be getting worse in this country, and what might be done to lower the temperature just a bit. >> reporter: we're witnessing the newest evolution of the culture wars, a term first popularized nearly 30 years ago in a book by james davison hunter. he's also the executive director of the institute for advanced studies and culture at the university of virginia. and he joins me now. james davison hunter welcome to the newshour. thank you for making the time. so, it was 30 years ago, you use this phrase, "culture wars," you were trying to capture sort of the national divides and debates over issues like abortion rights and l.g.b.t.q. rights and the role of religion in schools. how have the culture wars from 30 years ago changed? what's different today? >> one of the most important differences is the ways in which the culture wars have now become class culture wars. progressives tend to be, tend to predominate in the upper middle
class, highly educated professionals and managers. and traditionalists, conservatives tend to cluster in the middle, lower middle and working classes. the class differences are highlighting real differences in life chances and opportunities, the horizons of, of the future, that means so much to everyday life. >> reporter: so, i guess definitionally too, maybe i can ask you to help us understand how you look at the phrase, what culture wars even mean today because it feels almost as if the term is applied reflexively to any issue that people disagree on that's not purely a matter of policy. you can talk about science or sports or education or anything, and it becomes a culture war ise. so, how do you see it? >> so, culture wars can be understood in two different ways. the main way in which people think about culture wars is in terms of the politics of culture. it's essentially about politics,
but around cultural issues. so, it's the politics of abortion, it's the politics of, of gay rights, lesbian rights, it's the politics of race and the like. the second way in which the culture wars plays out is in terms of the culture of politics. it's the symbolic environment within which politics and our democracy unfolds. this is the difference between weather and climate. they're related to each other, they feed on each other, but they're ultimately reinforcing the same kinds of divisions in our society. >> reporter: you've also written about and talked about this idea of fear of extinction being sort of a central issue in some of these culture war issues as well. and polls actually show messaging like that really resonates among the american public. in one recent poll, 52% of americans agree with the statement "today, america is in danger of losing its culture and identity."
we have just seen the largest and most diverse nationwide calls for racial justice and people more willing to see and recognize the racist history of this country. i'm curious what role you think rae plays in all of this. >> well, my sense is that race is, for the most part, replacing abortion as the central issue of the culture war. ever since the "roe v wade" decision in 1973, abortion was really the, the main catalyst of conflict. race was never really discussed as much through the '80s and '90s, it's now center stage. >> reporter: there's also, we should point out, a really deep divide, a partisan divide on that one issue of whether or not america is in danger of losing its culture and identity. it's an, it's a 50 point gap, a 50 percentage point gap between republicans and democrats. 80% of republicans, we should say, agreed with that statement. does that surprise you? >> it doesn't surprise me. i think that there's, um, in a
way you can think about the, the interplay of our national motto of e pluribus unum. the pluribus has expanded and it is polarized. the unum has all but evaporated. there's a sense now that each side sees the other as an existential threat, and that intensifies our, our public discourse. it intensifies the anger and the fear. if there is an unum right now in our public culture, it's probably fear. it cuts across race, class, gender, the divide between conservatives and progressives. fear seems to be our common culture right now. >> reporter: you've also talked about the justification of violence that comes with some of these culture wars. i'm thinking about the violence we saw on january 6 that was
perpetuated by the lie of a stolen election and political propaganda. i'm also thinking about messaging and political violence. we just saw congressman paul gosar censured for a violent video that he shared online, depicting him causing harm, murdering a fellow congressional colleague. talk to me about that. should we have seen all this coming? >> well, you know, there was a 30-year culture war that was prior to the civil war. you never have a shooting war without a prior culture war. culture provides the justifications for violence. and you tend to see this kind of, of move when each side doesn't see any way forward, when you're at a stalemate and there's no way democratically to move it forward. >> reporter: so, where is the exit ramp in all of this? i mean, if the onus seems to be upon the people who are perpetuating these kinds of culture wars leaning into them, maybe even benefiting from them politically if it's resonating
among the american public, how does this all get tamped down? >> i think that there is a sense on both sides of just deep exhaustion that, that we're no longer part of a shared project called america. and that, and even reason or facts, each side has their own reasons and their own facts. and there's the sense of exhaustion. what's the point of talking through our differences? they're not getting us anywhere. so, we end up with a very shallow public discourse that's shouting, it's cliches. it's, it's a kind of truncated discourse that tends to, to feed off each side's base and to mobilize the base toward action. this is not healthfor democracy, and it seems to me if
we don't commit ourselves, if leaders are not censuring acts of both physical and symbolic violence, these tendencies are only going to increase. so, it's a dangerous moment, and my sense is that unless we address this, we're going to be seeing more violence in the future. >> reporter: james davison, hunter, giving us all a lot to think about, and we're grateful for it, thank you so much for your time. >> you're welcome, thank you. >> brangham: it was this same anger and fear seeping into american political culture that struck journalist and pulitzer prize winning author evan osnos when he moved back to the united states in 2013. he'd been living and working abroad for ten years-- first in the middle east and then in china. as he recently told judy woodruff, osnos set out to
understand why the country had changed. it's the focus of his latest book, "wildland: the making of america's fury." >> woodruff: evan osnos, welcome back to the newshour. >> thanks, judy. >> woodruff: so, the title of the book, "wildland," fitting many ways that the country does feel that way. i think right now, too many of us, you went back for this book to three of the places you've lived-- clarksburg, west virginia, where you worked as a as a beginning news reporter; greenwich, connecticut, where you spent time growing up; chicago where you work; and you talked to hundreds of people to try to get a sense of the trajectory of their lives. how they're experiencing this and what comes through is often the destructive forces at work out there. i'm thinking particularly that hedge fund manager in greenwich. >> yeah. well, one of the things that i was really struck by was the way that the things that were
happening in one place were impacting the politics in another place, to a degree i hadn't expected. take greenwich, for example, where i grew up and had experienced huge growth in wealth in the early years of this century. the average c.e.o. was making hundreds of times with the average frontline worker was. and when i went to west virginia and i spoke to people about how they thought about the american system, coal miner there said to me, he said, "do you know any man who was worth four or five hundred times other men?" he said, "i don't." and that, that sensation, at feeling of somehow things being off was deeply felt to a degree, i don't think we appreciated. >> woodruff: you give us the stories of these individual lives, but there's a lot of data in here to back it up. the discrepancy in wealth in this country, the role of money in politics, it gives, it gives the book a foundation i think, so that you're reading human stories, but you're also learning a lot about this country. >> well, there were statistics
that staggered me, frankly. i mean, take, for example, the fact that if you live in mcdowell county, west virginia, if you're an adult male, your life expectancy there is 18 years less than your life expectancy over the border in virginia, in fairfax county. and the fact that these are two parts of one political community gives you a window into some of the underlying stresses that are pulling us apart. >> woodruff: and there is the theme of politics that runs through this and along the way, donald trump appears, runs for president, is elected. and, of course, so much controversy around him. but you see the forces that he's bringing out in these communities and in the lives of the people you talk to. >> yeah, in a way, i suppose i was writing about trump before he was even on the scene. i didn't know it yet. i was writing about this rising sense of fury in american politics. and when he arrived, i thought i was writing a book about somebody who was never going to be president. he became president, and i realized actually that was in
the end, the kind of confluence of all of these structural forces i'd been writing about: politics, economics, technology-- but ultimately it's also how we relate to one another as citizens. >> woodruff: do you think you came away, evan osnos, with from all of this reporting you've done, with a better understanding of why donald trump has the following that he has in this country? >> yeah, i think in the end, i was struck by the fact that fundamentally americans have broken faith with institutions at the core. i mean, these are, it applies to universities and government and the law and politics. and that's a process of restoration that takes more than just four years to get back to it. it's not just enough to get rid of one president and to put another in place. as we're seeing right now, these divisions endure. this is a generational project about restoring credibility by restoring opportunity to people, making them feel as if it's possible again to be heard and to make their way in this
country. >> woodruff: there are stories of people trying in their local communities to make a difference. so, there are some uplifting tales here, but they're not the majority of them. >> in a way, i was really struck. i didn't go out looking for either successes or failures. what i was trying to do was document the country as it really feels to be here in this period. i mean, frankly, i was writing so that later my kids could read about what it was like to be in the united states at this period. and in a way, i came away encouraged by some things, some really impressive projects to just name one. something as simple as taking kids from very segregated neighborhoods in chicago, bringing them across town to another part of town and making them feel as if the whole city is theirs that can transform them sense of their sense of themselves. and i came away quite encouraged by that. >> woodruff: but is there enough of that kind of thing going on in our local communities, in our cities, across the country? >> there is this tension going on because there is a nationalized political conversation and that grinds us down.
i mean, there's an amazing fact, which is that americans today have an easier time naming presidents and vice presidents than their own governors of their states. and it wasn't always that way. historically, you used to know your local officials better than you knew national politics. so, part of the lesson that i drew from this is it's time to reinvest in the places we know. i mean, reinvest in your local newspaper and the institutions that actually connect you to your neighbors. >> woodruff: yeah, and i, and i think many people look at that and they say it's admirable-- but is it going to be enough? but you're saying in the end, you have hope. >> i'm saying it's actually not hope, it's work. like, we have work to do, but it's not as if it's mysterious. there's very definable reasons why we ended up in this mess. and for that reason, we can also begin to address them things like fundamental income inequality of a scale that we haven't had since the gilded age. things like the decline of reliable news in a way that people feel they can go online and read something they trust. these kinds of things are not, in the end, impossible.
and part of the process of addressing them is laying it out on paper. >> one of the clear takeaways was to understand washington's dysfunction now, you have to get outside of washington. >> woodruff: evan osnos, the >> woodruff: evan osnos, the book is "wildland" the making of america's fury." thank you. >> thanks, judy. >> brangham: it's been three months since the u.s. withdrew its forces from afghanistan after 20 years of war, but america's involvement there didn't begin after september 11, 2001. it began decades earlier, after the soviet union invaded that country in 1979. the u.s. wanted to counter the russians during the cold war.
at that time, the u.s. worked with saudi arabia and pakistan to arm afghan islamist fighters known as the mujahadeen. nick schifrin recently talked with one of the key architects and partners in that effort. >> reporter: from the 1979 soviet invasion of afghanistan to the 9-11 al qaeda attacks plotted in afghanistan, few people have been focused on the country and the battles its people waged on behalf of world powers than prince turki al- faisal, whose term as saudi intelligence head coincided almost exactly with those years. he's written a new book, "the afghanistan file." your royal highness, welcome to the newshour. >> thank you, mr. schifrin. >> reporter: let's start at the beginning in 1979. the soviets invade afghanistan and the carter administration decides to fund the mujahedeen, the afghan fighters who would fight the soviet union. there's a formal decision by the middle of 1980 for saudi arabia to essentially split the cost with the united states and have
the pakistani intelligence service, the i.s.i., funnel weapons to the mujahideen. you were, of course, in the middle of that effort. how did it work? >> the recipients were picked on their ability to harm the soviets, basically. i would say that on the issue of i would say that on e issue of afghanistan, from 1979 until i left the intelligence department in 2001, there was, if you like, a good war. and then there was a bad war. the good war is when we got the soviets out, jointly. but once that happened, you know, the united states, basically, and the other countries in the world turned their back on afghanistan. and unfortunately, the mujahideen that had worked so well together to get the soviets out, they began to fight each other and there was civil war.
>> reporter: in retrospect, do you think if the international community had stayed focused on afghanistan, the country could have looked different in the 1990s? >> i believe so. because remaining in a dysfunctional state, as it happened in the civil war that followed the soviet withdrawal, allowed for all sorts of developments to take place, including the formation of al qaeda. its roots began in the late '80s in, in the refugee camps of afghans in pakistan, with bin laden and ayman al-zawahiri, who is now the head of al qaeda. >> reporter: but is it only what happened there? saudi arabia itself has been accused of basically sowing the seeds of islamist radicalism. you write in the book, "we simply tolerated saudis to fight in afghanistan if they wished, and we had never thought when we encourage young men to go to pakistan in the 1980s, it might change their political ideas." in retrospect, do you think that was naive? >> it was naive.
but at the time, yani, during the soviet invasion of afghanistan, everybody supported the mujahedeen. when finally al qaeda established itself in afghanistan and bin laden in 1989 came to me, to, to ask me or to inform me that he would like, as he said, to bring his mujahedeen to go and fight the communist regime in south yemen at the time, and i told him that basically we don't need your mujahedeen, basically. so, don't call us, we'll call you. the same year, 1990, the iraqis invaded kuwait, and bin laden didn't come to me. but he went to another saudi official, the late minister of defense, and the late defense minister basically repeated what i had told him before. thank you very much, yani, don't interfere. that's when he began his, his enmity, if you like, to the kingdom. >> reporter: in the book, you call bin laden, "ill-informed, naive, a believer in the most simplistic solutions," but you
also admit in the book how the expansion of religious influence in saudi's education system in the media played a role in creating people like bin laden. do you believe the kingdom has a part to blame? >> yes, we're definitely and we, we rue the day afterwards when we were became even more of the targets of these people inside the kingdom, and that's why the kingdom went through a soul- searching procedure and process, not just by the government, but by the people in general, which brings us to today and the kings and crown prince mohammed bin salman's efforts to modernize, diversify the economy. for every major announcement, such as buying newcastle football club, hosting formula one, there are still condemnations from human rights groups. do you believe it would be wise for saudi arabia to change its positions on human rights if for no other reason than self-
interest? >> well, it's not a matter of self-interest, it's a matter of being human beings and, and holding high principles and high ideals. it is unacceptable for anybody, and not just saudi arabia, to stay rigid on a course and not reform and evolve. and the kingdom has chosen evolution, if you like, over evolution, and the kingdom is, i think, rightfully proud that it has managed in a very short time space to come from, i would say the 17th century until the 21st century in a period of 60-70 years. >> reporter: saudi arabia's critics say it's less a question of whether the kingdom is moving fast enough, then the motivations, frankly, of mohammed bin salman himself to persecute his critics. not only jamal khashoggi, but also with widespread detentions inside the kingdom. >> well, you know, welcome to criticism-- if it is fair.
in every case that they mention about arrests and things like that, they are taken to court and in the court with sentences and with accusations and so on. the process is done as happened with the killers of jamal khashoggi, who were identified and were brought to justice in the kingdom. >> reporter: let's end by bringing this back to afghanistan. in a speech in early november you said that the u.s. withdrawal would lead u.s. allies to contemplate "a future away from the western dominant paradigm." why? >> well, if you can't depend on your friends, who can you depend on? i don't think there is anybody that can replace the united states. it is with its military power, its economic power and its, its diplomatic capabilities and so on. so, we're not seeking to replace the united states, but definitely, i think we are seeking to have friends, more friends.
we should not turn our back on afghanistan. we should hold the taliban to, to task to see that they perform on what they said, that they will do an ilusive government, you know, issues of human rights, women's rights, education, et cetera, et cetera, and that they're not going to allow anybody to use afghan soil to harm others. all these things have the, the, the taliban have to account for, and i don't think we should offer them diplomatic recognition until and unless they do that. >> reporter: prince turki al- faisal, thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. schifrin. >> brangham: it's an exhibition many have already said is "the art show of the year." it's on view at the isabella it's a collection of paintings by titian, and these masterworks have not been seen together in more than 400 years. it's on view at the isabella stewart gardner museum in boston. special correspondent jared
bowen of gbh reports as part of our arts and culture series, "canvas." >> reporter: at first blush there is so much to absorb. a master painter working at his most majestic. skin bared to carnal extremes. but also an atmosphere of terror. and then there is this. seeing these six titian paintings reunited for the first time since the italian renaissance. >> it's huge. they haven't been back together since they left the royal collections in spain over the course of several centuries. >> reporter: it was spain's young and soon-to-be-king, philip ii who commissioned titian to paint this series in 1550. hiring the venetian painter was akin to landing picasso as your interior designer says curator nathaniel silver. >> titian was the celebrity painter of europe. he painted for popes. he painted for princes. he was the personal painter to the holy roman emperor, who was philip ii's father. everybody who was anybody wanted to meet titian.
>> reporter: titian painted the works over ten years. in that time philip became king and the world's most powerful ruler, but the monarch gave the artist free reign. >> usually it was you ordered the work of art, you signed the check and that was it. this is really the artist having quite a big voice. >> reporter: the series depicts ancient mythological stories as written by the roman poet ovid, but titian distilled the writer's epic text into jam- packed paintings teaming with symbols. >> titian calls these paintings the "poesie." and the word literally translates as "painted poetries." he is putting his own stamp of originality on them. you could say he's challenging the written word with the painted image, is challenging the pen with the brush. >> reporter: they reflect on and telegraph a world of violence. in the painting, "danaë," the god jupiter transforms himself into gold dust, descending on the nude princess to impregnate her. in "diana and callisto," jupiter
is again a perpetrator, having assaulted one of the goddess diana's nymphs. >> diana is pointing out her finger of judgment at callisto, casting her out of her sacred spring. callisto is lying here. and if you look carefully at her eyes, you see she's crying. the whims of the gods leave so much of the fates of mortals out of the hands of mortals themselves. >> reporter: how do you begin to it's a hard painting. a very hard painting. it's hard to reconcile the beauty of the ways in which it's painted with the horror of its subject. >> reporter: the works are metaphors for war and conquest and a world often consumed with violence. it's titian offering commentary while also working at the height of his career.
>> he's a painters' painter. he's a virtuoso of the brush. he knows how to apply the minimum of paint to create a particular figure. >> one of the things that i love about the installation is how intimately they converse with each other. >> reporter: peggy fogelman is the director of boston's gardner museum-- the last stop on what has been an international tour of the works. one stalled, but not derailed, by a global pandemic. >> it's not an easy undertaking, and took a couple of years of negotiating, actually. >> reporter: the works remained in philip's madrid palace only for about 20 years before being scattered throughout europe. but this one, titled "the rape of europa," came to the u.s. 125 years ago by way of the museum's shrewd founder and collector, isabella stewart gardner. here, jupiter appears again-- as a bull this time-- stealing away with the princess europa to
crete where he impregnates her and she ultimately gives birth to the first of european civilization. it was gardner's prized masterpiece, if not a fraught one. >> it made quite a splash when it came to boston. she talks about men sort of bowing down before europa and women averting their gaze. she was very much enamored of the emotional responses to works of art. >> reporter: the purchase was so monumental, gardner's friend, the writer henry james, wondered if the pope would sell her one of the vatican rooms next. and she loved the painting enough to give it a singular space in her museum built to resemble a venetian palazzo. >> she named the whole gallery after this painting. the colors in that fabric really evoke europa's drapery. >> reporter: at the exhibition's
end, "europa" returns to the empty space on this wall. the other five paintings return to their european museums, but, says curator nathaniel silver, this once-in-a-lifetime reunion has made them more relevant than ever. >> we see horrifying things every day. and we're forced to reckon with these forces outside of our control. and that's exactly what titian was forcing philip to do. >> reporter: for the pbs newshour, i'm jared bowen in boston. >> brangham: and online right and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm william brangham. join us on-line and again here for all of us at the pbs part. newshour, thank you for being a part. good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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hello, everyone, and welcome to "amanpour & company." here's what's coming up. >> our main goal is to defend and keep the sovereignty of ukraine from the seat. >> ukraine on the edge and on alert. we take you on patrol in some of the rld's most contested waters as ukraine prepares for a possible russian invasion. plus, "justice on the brink"? the united states supreme court under the microscope like never before. pulitzer prize-winning journalist linda greenhouse joins me. then -- >> when i realized i had a chance to live, i promised that if i did survive, i would dedicate my life to public service. >> congresswoman jackie speier on her remarkable life.