Skip to main content

tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  January 26, 2022 3:00pm-4:01pm PST

3:00 pm
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: a major retirement. justice stephen breyer will announce he is stepping down from the supreme court, setting up a senate confirmation battle for his replacement. then, confronting inflation. the federal reserve signals it will soon raise interest rates to counteract surging prices across the economy. and, postal problems. pandemic-induced staffing shortages and delivery delays plague the already-beleaguered u.s. postal service. >> we don't have enough people to be able to process and deliver the mail. in my area, they're actually making deliveries on sundays, in order to try to keep up with the demand. >> woodruff: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour.
3:01 pm
>> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> fidelity wealth management. >> consumer cellular. >> johnson & johnson. >> financial services firm raymond james. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- >> the lemelson foundation. committed to improving lives through invention, in the u.s. and developing countries. on the web at >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation.
3:02 pm
committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: this is a day of three jor news developments, from word of justice stephen breyer's plan to retire from the u.s. supreme court, to coming interest rate hikes, and a nato rebuff of russia. but first, the breyer news, and questions about who will succeed him. president biden said today that he will wait for breyer's formal announcement. senate majority leader chuck schumer cited the president's past words. >> during the campaign, biden
3:03 pm
stated that he would choose a black woman as his choice for the supreme court, and i expect he'll follow through on that. in the senate, we want to be deliberate. we want to move quickly. we want to get this done as soon as possible. >> woodruff: senate minority leader mitch mcconnell said it's too soon to comment. he said republicans will respond once there's a nominee. but first, breyer stl has to make his retirement official. that could come as soon as tomorrow. john yang looks back now at his long career. >> yang: for 27 years, justice stephen brey haseen a moderate liberal, on a supreme court that has moved increasingly to the right. >> judge stephen breyer. ( applause ) >> yang: nominated by president bill clinton in 1994, he sits on a court with a solid conservative majority, secured by three selections by president donald trump. the most senior of the remaining three justices appointed by democratic presidents, he defends positions he has
3:04 pm
long championed, like abortion rights. in oral arguments last december, he quoted an earlier decision to say that the landmark ruling "roe v. wade" should not be overturned. >> to overrule under fire in the absence of the most compelling reon, to reexamine a watershed decision, would subvert the court's legitimacy beyond any serious question. >> yang: and gun control, here in the 2008 case that led to the precedent-setting ruling that the second amendment protects an individual's right to keep a gun in the home. breyer was in the minority. >> why isn't a ban on handguns, while allowing the use of rifles and muskets, a reasonable or a proportionate response on behalf of the district of columbia? >> yang: breyer also argues that the death penalty is unconstitutional.
3:05 pm
here he is in 2015 on boston pbs station gbh. >> the way it's administered is sufficiently arbitrary, cruel, unusual now, that we should reconsider the matter. >> yang: through it all, he's interpreted the law by looking at its everyday effects on people. in a virtual talk for the national constitution center last year, he described his approach. >> when you have a statute, and the statute has some words in it, and these words could be interpreted in two or three different ways, and the issue is how to interpret them, what do they mean? you look at the history and you look at the purposes, and you'll look at the consequences, too, and you'll try to evaluate them. >> yang: he also seeks common ground in cases of competing rights, what he's called“ the play in the joints.” here's breyer in 2011, speaking at the kansas city public library. >> in many of our cases, the
3:06 pm
most difficult ones are not about right versus wrong. they are about right versus right. >> yang: in oral arguments, his questions are marked by humor, spirited give-and-take with lawyers, and often whimsical hypotheticals-- like this one from a 2000 case about whether trademark law prohibits knock-offs. >> i mean, you could have a weird situation-- imagine you made a hairbrush in the shape of a grape... >> yang: those characteristics were also on display in a series of appearances with the conservative icon justice antonin scalia, before his 2016 death. >> ah! we're making progress. ( laughter ) >> he had unbridled optimism. >> yang: federal judge vince chhabria, a former breyer clerk. >> when i was clerking for him, he was of the view that he would be able to convince justice scalia that the death penalty was unconstitutional. >> yang: former clerks like chhabria remember breyer as a considerate, though sometimes absent-minded, boss.
3:07 pm
>> one time, he walked into the clerk's office, and he started talking about a case and he said “okay, here are and i'd like you guys to research this and that.” and then, the-- the judicial assistant looked up and said,“ justice, none of your clerks are in the room right now. they're all outside having lunch.” and he said, “oh, okay.” and he came out and joined us, and sat down with us to talk about the cases. but i want to emphasize that, you know, when it came to writing opinions, you didn't see the absent-minded professor quality in the opinions he wrote because he was always so careful to make sure that his opinions were widely accessible. >> yang: and they remember his commitment to diversity. >> when you go to his law clerk reunions now, you see a group of people in the room that looks a lot like america. plenty of women, plenty of black and brown faces. justice breyer has launched all of those people to the highest levels, and that's a contribution-- diversity-related contribution that will last far longer than his time on the
3:08 pm
bench. >> yang: former clerk risa goluboff, dean of the university of virginia law school, says part of his legacy is his humanity. >> one time i brought my little children, my nieces, my brother, my sister-in-law to meet him and to go on a tour of the court. and my son at the time was about four or five years old, and he immediately climbed under justice breyer's coffee table-- which is not what you want to happen when you bring your family to the chambers. and justice breyer just sat down on his couch and for some reason had a children's book sitting on his coffee table, and he opened it up and he just started reading it. and my son crawls back out from under the coffee table and sits up on the couch, and my niece sits there, too, and they both just were enthralled by him. and he just-- he was going to meet my son where he was, right? >> yang: a graduate of stanford and oxford universities and harvard law school, where he was an editor on the "law review," breyer was chief counsel on the senate judiciary committee in 1980 when president jimmy carter
3:09 pm
named him to the federal appeals court. in 1993, clinton picked ruth bader ginsburg over breyer, in his first opportunity to name a supreme court justice. clinton picked breyer for the next vacancy. the day the president introduced his nominee, the two jogged along the national mall. >> who's faster, the judiciary or the executive? >> oh, no, he's much faster. >> yang: the senate confirmed his nomination, 87 to 9. after president biden took office, and with democrats holding a slim senate majority, progressives pressed breyer to retire. last september, judy woodruff asked him about his plans. >> woodruff: after 27 years on the court, what time frame are you talking about? in the coming year, are you saying? >> of course, there are many different considerations, and i haven't made up my mind definitely just exactly when, but i don't want to die on the court, and before then, i would like to retire.
3:10 pm
and just when that will be, i have not fully decided, and i think this isn't the place or the time-- ( laughs ) when i want to go too in-depth. >> yang: university of virginia law school dean risa golubof. >> i think justice breyer takes really seriously his role as a protector and a champion of the court. and i think he thinks that in order for the people to have trust and faith in the court, the kind of trust and faith that lets the court do its job, he has to continue to be a neutral judge. and i could imagine that, for him, taking a step that might appear to be political, in a small-"p" politics kind of way, would have felt anathema to his stewardship of the court and its legitimacy in the eyes of the people. >> yang: on the day he spoke in the rose garden to mark his nomination, brer talked
3:11 pm
about what it meant to him to be a judge. >> i have been given quite a few labels, but i hope no one would mind if i'm particularly proud of one label, that of judge. a judge of whatever court is honored by that name, and so too by the name of public servant. >> yang: labels he has held for almost 50 years-- nearly 30 of them on the nation's highest court. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang. >> woodruff: joining us to discuss justice breyer's legacy, and the future of the nation's highest court, is marcia coyle from the national law journal. hello to you, marcia. you cover this court, you've covered it for a long time. i know it's hard to condense 28 years into just a few setences, but what would you say justice breyer's main legacy is? >> well, judy, i think it would have to be in his approach to
3:12 pm
judging where he, whenever possible, was making decisions, would try to make decisions that would work for the people and work for democracy. he believed not just in deciding a case on the basis of facts and law, but he had a broader vision that the constitution was more than a structural document, it was meant for the ages and it was meant to work for the people. so i think tat's one. and i think the second one would be his concern for the institution itself and how it is perceived by the public, and as you know, because i know you've spoken with him, that he has recently been concerned about the perception of the court in the eyes of the public and what reforms might do to the court as well as whether the court would be perceived as a partisan body because of certain decisions that it might make, some of which could come this very term.
3:13 pm
>> woodruff: and in connection with that, he has made a point of speing about how the court is not driven by partisan concerns. the last time i interviewed him in september 2021, there was a lot of speculation about whether and when he might retire. i asked him about the effect that it might have on his decision, which party was in power. here's just a quick excerpt of that conversation. justice breyer justice breyer, do you think it makes a difference, when you step down? >> yes, probably. i mean, i don't know for sure. no one ever knows. and to what extent you take that kind of thing into account, it's a personal decision. justice scalia, justice rehnquist have said, you do take that kind of thing into account. others have been more reluctant to do it. so it's in the mix.
3:14 pm
>> woodruff: so, marcia, what would you say is the main reason he's doing this right now? >> reporter: i'm not sure, knowing him, he was really ready to go wholeheartedly because i think he truly loes the job and loves the challenges, but, you know, he's 83, he is alert, active, involved in many different things, so probably that ao was in the mix that there are other things he wants to do, as well as his family. he has a number of grandchildren and perhaps he wants to spend more time with them. >> woodruff: what does the court lose with his departure? >> i think they lose somebody who truly tried to be a consensus-maker, someone, who, as he once told me, listens very hard when the justices talk in their private conferences for what he called the play in the joints -- was there some room there to bring them together or
3:15 pm
closer together. and there was one term, the term in which justice scalia died, in which he and three other justices formed this group that worked very hard to find consensus and were successful in achieving narrow decisions that brought the court together. so i think they lose that very much. and they lose someone who brought humor to the bench. there aren't that many that are very funny, to be honest with you, judy, but he could be, and it was his self-deprecating sort of way. as i said, he's known for his incredible hypotheticals. i remember one he gave to an advocate named canon shamigan that, staff the hip thetical was written up in the transcript, it ran for three pages. i'm sure shamigan had to bite his lip to say at the end to the justice, uh, could you repeat that question? so that's going to be missed as well. >> woodruff: marcia, tension turning, very quickly, to who
3:16 pm
president biden will nominate to succeed him. as we heard earlier, were reminded, the president spoke about this during the camign, during the one to have the early debates, primary debates and here's what he had to say about it. >> i'm committed if i'm elected president and have an >> i am committed that if i'm elected president and have an opportunity to appoint someone to the courts, i'll appoint the first black woman to the courts. it's required that they have representation now. it's long overdue. >> woodruff: marcia, what's the significance of that? >> reporter: i think it's very significant. one, it could be another woman and, certainly, women are underrepresented on the court. also, it would be a black american, and they are very underrepresented on the court. she would bring a certain type of diversity beyond her color, and the court needs that as well. so just a reminder, when thurgood marshall was on the bench, justice o'connor often
3:17 pm
said that it was the stories he told in their private conference meetings that opened eir eyes to a lot of what race mea in amica, so it can't but help this court to have a black female on the bench. >> woodruff: marcia coyle with the "national law journal," thank you so much. >> reporter: my pleasure, judy. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, the federal reserve is ready to ratchet up interest rates in a bid to beat back inflation. the central bank reaffirmed that stance today, and it signaled that the first in a series of rate hikes could come in march. we will get details after the news summary. wall street rallied for much of the day, and then gave it all back, as the fed acknowledged that inflation is ill getting worse. the dow jones industrial average lost 129 points to close at 34,168. the nasdaq rose about three points.
3:18 pm
the s&p 500 slipped six. the u.s. and nato have rejected russian security demands, amid moscow's troop buildup along ukraine's border. the formal responses came today in official letters. u.s. secretary of state antony blinken said there will be no concessions regarding ukraine. wel return to this, later in the program. the secretary genel of the united nations sounded a dire warning today about afghanistan. antonio guterres told the u.n. security council that millions of afghans face extreme hunger in the dead of winter. >> six months after the takeover by the taliban, afghanistan is hanging by a thread. for afghans, daily life has become a frozen hell. we need to jump-start afghanistan's economy, through increased liquidity. we must pull the economy back from the brink. >> woodruff: most foreign aid to afghanistan dried up after the taliban took control in august.
3:19 pm
guterres appealed today for action to free up $1.2 billion in world bank funds. kurdish-led forces, backed by u.s. coalition air strikes, have retaken a prison in northeastern syria. they had battled islamic state fighters, who attacked the prison last week. kurdish officials said the militants had used child detainees as human shields. this was the biggest isis attack since 2019. new covid-19 infections reached 21 million worldwide last week, the most since the pandemic began. the world health organization reported the new data today. it also said that the global rate of increase in infections is slowing. back in this country, the search is still on for 38 migrants believed missing off florida's atlantic coast, after their boat capsized. on tuesday, authorities found a lone survivor. he said a storm swamped their
3:20 pm
boat as they tried to cross from the bahamas on saturday night. later, the coast guard found one body, and officials said today, time is growing short. >> it is dire, the longer they remain in the water, without food, without water, exposed to the marine environment, the sun, the sea conditions. it is e-- every moment that passes, it becomes much more dire andnlikely that anyone could survive in those conditions. >> woodruff: federal agents are treating the incident as possible human smuggling. they opened a criminal investigation today. a texas man is now charged with selling the gun used in a hostage standoff at a dallas-area synagogue. a british man held four people for 10 hours earlier this month. they finally escaped, and he was shot and killed by the f.b.i. the alleged seller is accused of possession of a firearm by a felon. and, the city of san jose,
3:21 pm
california hasdopted the nation's first law to make gun owners carry liability insurance. the city council overwhelmingly approved the ordinance last night. gun owners say it would violate their second amendment rights, and they sued today in federal court. still to come on the newshour: what the united states' latest response to russia's military build-up means for ukraine. the postal service struggles with staffing shortages an delivery delays. a children's book author connects holocaust history to the present. plus, much more. >> woodruff: the federal reserve is shifting its approach to the economy and monetary policy. it is a major change, after holding interest rates at near-zero levels. and given the pandemic, it's not without its own risks.
3:22 pm
but, as lisa desjardins reports, the fed chairman said that the state of the economy required changing course. >> desjardins: from the fed chair today, a clear message: the central bank hopes to clamp down on inflation with an interest rate hike in a matter of weeks. >> the committee is of a mind to raise the rate at the march meeting. >> desjardins: fed chief jerome powell is signaling what would be the first fed interest rate increase in three years, and the potential for more in future months. this, as rising inflation weaves into daily american life, with costs up in gas stations and grocery stores. in december, prices were up 7% over the previous year. but the fed must also balance the continued spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, and its eect on the economy. on that, powell indicated reason for optimism. >> fortunately, health experts are finding that the omicron variant has not been as virulent as previous strains of the
3:23 pm
virus. it's expected cases will drop off rapidly. if the wave passes quickly, the economic effects should as well, >> desjardins: powell noted that unemployment is low overall-- 3.9%-- arguing the job market can handle a shift from the fed. >> i think theres quite a bit of room to raisenterest rates, without risking the labor market. this is by any measure an historically tight labor market. >> desjardins: but the jobs picture is not the same for all americans. unemployment remains high for black americans, at 7.1%-- versus white americans at 3.2%. that economic concern for still- struggling americans is on the front burner at the white house, where president biden met with corporate c.e.o.s to try to revitalize his stalled "build back better" plan. >> the "build back better" plan lowers prices for families and gets people working. it creates the best educated workforce-- hopefully in the world; ensures to remain the most dynamic and productive economy in the world.
3:24 pm
>> desjardins: meantime, businesses, like this cafe just two miles from the white house, are feeling a shaky economy. >> you can see how the money flows. you can see when people are not getting the extras. you can see when they're getting coffee-- drip coffee instead of cappuccino. you can see it. >> desjardins: for the pbs newshour, i'm lisa desjardins. >> woodruff: let's break down a bit more of today's developments and how this fits into the larger economic picture going forward. greg ip is the chief economics commentator for the "wall street journal." greg, welcome back to the "newshour". so, first question -- how much do we expect the fed is going to raise interest rates and how quickly? >> well, they signaled about as clearly as they could that the process is going to get started in the month of march with a quarter point increase. now the last time they gave us detailed projections, they thought they would raise rates three times, three quarter point interest raises this year.
3:25 pm
the risk is they will do quite a few more rate increases this year and the reasons are simple, in the last two months all the data they look at has made the case for higher interest rates stronger. inflation has gotten worse since we got the bad 7% number and the job market is extremely strong with far more job openings than unemployed people. so the two things fed cares about which is strong job market and keeping inflation down, evidence on both fronts tell them rates right now are way too low. so i think there's a possibility, in fact a probability that they will raise rates at least four times this year and possibly many more times than that. >> woodruff: possibly in more times. you're referring to his body language. what made you come away with that impression? >> the last cycle where the federal reserve raised interest rates they did it every other meeting which meant every three months, which means four times a year. the reporters asked him is that going to be the same template you follow this time, and he
3:26 pm
repeatedly emphasized the difference between the economy today and in 2018, 2019 when thaip last raising interest rates. the economy is stronger today, the job market is tighter and most important inflation is a lot higher, it's around 7% instead of 2%. so the message he's trying to say is you cannot look at the low pace of rate increases last time around and believe that's an appropriate model for how we're going to behave right now. i think the fed is worried they are in the jargon behind the curve, that is to say they're facing an economy and an inflation that are just, i should say they're sitting here with interest rates way too low already for the strength of the economy and how high inflation is now and they have a lot of work to do to get rates to a more appropriate level. >> reporter: so we heard in lisa's report, obviously, reference to why they're doing it now. anything you would add to that to help us understand why they've made this major course correction? >> i think that they have a
3:27 pm
lot -- like a l of people including the biden administration, the economy is just not behaving the way they thought a year or two ago. by coming into this last year, the expectation was that the economy would, like after the global financial crisis a decade ago, be one where there was prolonged and very high unemployment, a lack of spendic, a lack of demand and just lots and lots of unused capacity, and it's really kind of the opposite. we have lots and lots of red-hot demand, shortages of everything. the problem is today is there is too much demand and not enough supply. so all the fiscal, monetary stipples we had did the job, got the economy back to a healthy state but now we're in the situation where policy is completely inappropriate for the shape of the economy. the last point which the fed and everyone is struggling with is the virus. the virus doesn't just lead to weaker spending with fewer people shopping and going to
3:28 pm
restaurants, fewer people are willing to work, so that adds to problems reopening the economy and adds to the inflation risks and makes a complicated picture for the feds. >> woodruff: talk chairman powell talked about the economy and the pandemic. if the pandemic lifts, the economy gets better? what's the thinking? >> well, in the perfect world and the world they thought -- that they were assuming until a few months ago was that as the pandemic receded, some of the distortions in the economy would go away -- supply chainz would normalize, durable goods would come back down to earth, people would shift spending from goods to services, and people who worried about going back to work because of the viruses would be willing to work, childcare issues would be fixed. the prior the virus hangs around the less the state of normalcy is likely to return. you have to come around to the
3:29 pm
idea that there's going to be a new normal that doesn't look like the old normal and a world where some of the shortages may be very persistent and that weighs heavily on the feds thinking and adds to the inflation risk they are now trying to tamp down with coming rate increases. >> woodruff: in a full seconds, greg ip, is this believed this is going to work, that this will wring inflation out of the economy in the right way? >> i think there are several reasons to be yeah,ly optimistic. most people still believe the prices we're seeing are indeed distorted by the pandemic and with time those things should go away. it's simply not the case used car prices keep going up 30% every year. there are good reasons to believe as the omicron variant works its way through and more people require some form of immunity the labor markets will normalize. we're not going to get another $2 trillion stimulus program from the federal government like a year ago, so the absence to have the fiscal push means
3:30 pm
demand will cool off a bit, providing some scope for inflation to return to normal. but i emphasize there is enormous uncertainty about that, that's one reason you see market behaving in such a volatile way. >> woodruff: enormous uncertainty. greg ip with the "wall street journal," we thank you. >> all right, thank you. >> woodruff: as we reported, today, the u.s. submitted a written document that responds to russian demands over ukraine and nato's future. the document rejected russia's core demand that ukraine never join nato, but suggested other diplomatic o-ramps to try and diffuse the crisis over ukraine. nick schifrin has more on the day's developments. >> schifrin: in moscow today, an effort to save diplomacy. u.s. ambassador john sullivan left the foreign affairs ministry, after delivering a written document that secretary
3:31 pm
of state antony blinken said reiterated a core u.s.-nato principle. >> i can't be more clear-- nato's door is open, remains open. and that is our commitment. >> schifrin: but that is the very commitment russia demands the u.s. break, as it deploys equipment and 100,000 troops to ukraine's border. including new video today of fighter jets in belarus, to ukraine's north, and ships o crimea, to ukraine's south. back in december, russia demanded that nato close its "open door” to other european countries, including ukraine, and roll back all its forces and weapons in europe to 1997 levels. giving into that demand would rewrite decades of u.s. and nato policy, and the map. in 1949, nato's eastern border was italy. by 1997, it had added four more countries, for a total of 16. since then, in five rounds of expansion, it's grown to 30 countries, including those on russia's border. in 2008, nato said ukraine and georgia would become future
3:32 pm
members. >> there is no change. there will be no change. >> schifrin: but what the u.s. is oering: mutual limits on eastern european exercises like these in poland, andissile deployments, by reviving the defunct intermediate nuclear forces treaty, or i.n.f., that banned an entire class of nuclear weapons. >> we also do lay out areas where we believe that together we could actually advance security for everyone, including for russia. the placemt of-- of offensive missile systems in ukraine, military exercises and maneuvers in europe, potential arms control measures. greater transparency. >> schifrin: but even before blinken spoke, foreign minister sergey lavrov suggested that wasn't good enough. >> ( translated ): if there is no constructive answer, and if the west continues its aggressive course, moscow, as president putin has repeatedly said, will take the necessary retaliatory measures. >> schifrin: the u.s. and nato are also trying to deter war, by reinforcing nato's eastern flank
3:33 pm
with european jets, european soldiers under nato command, and as many as 8,500 u.s. troops. nato secretary general jens stoltenberg. >> we have plans in place that we can activate, execute, on very short notice. so what we have done over the last weeks is increase readiness. >> schifrin: to reassure allies, the administration is working to replace russian natural gas that europe relies on, in case russia cuts exports. but the u.s. admits, ultimately, whether diplomacy lives another day will be decided by vladimir putin. >> the document is with them, and the ball'sn their court. >> schifrin: for more on the confrontation with russia, and where things stand, we turn to richard haass, president of the council on foreign relations. he's held a number of foreign policy-making positions at the state department and on the national security council staff during repubcan administrations.
3:34 pm
richard haass, welcome back to the "newshour". so the u.s. has sent its written responses today. why is the biden administration rejecting russia's key public demands? >> well, article 10 of the n.a.t.o. alliance talks about the openness of the alliance for other members, and we can't be in a situation where russia can essentially determine who gets to be a n.a.t.o. member or not. that's the province of the alliance, that's in the sovereign decision-making right of the united states and its # 29 allies. let me say one other thing, the russians know that. what we don't know is whether their positions represent an opening bid from which they're prepared to negotiate and compromised or whether this is setting up diplomacy to fail. >> reporter: so the negotiations and the the compromises the u.s. wants to talk about are limiting exercises and deployments and arms control agreements. do you think that's the approach the biden administration is
3:35 pm
taking? >> i think it's fine. you could add negotiations with the russian presence in eastern ukraine. the question is whether it's enough for mr. putin. he's manufactured the crisis, placed 100,000 troops on the border. for him to take the off ramp means he has to think there's enough in it to save face to talk to his own people to tell the world that he didn't climb down because he was pressured. so i simply don't know, i don't think any of us know whether this will be enough for him to justify a change in his behavior. >> reporter: secretary blinken today stressed allied unity and as you know there are differences. germany, for example, is blocking weapons, going to ukraine and refusing to threaten to cut off the pipeline in case russia invades ukraine. the n.a.t.o. really unified? >> no, but then it wasn't unified during the cold war either. there were always tensions within the alliance about how to
3:36 pm
deal with the soviet union, about the wisdom of going ahead or not going ahead with various military deployments. so we're seeing similar things now about how to deal with russia. the germans are obviously skittish. their dependency adds to it. there's simply lot of history and geography here and not surprisingly in an alliance of 30 countries, you have a real range of opinions, and that's part of the challenge facing the biden administration. putin knows that and it's one to have the reason he might, emphasize the word might, think about a scenario where he use as limited amount of force, the more limited the scenario, the deeper the cracks are likely to be within n.a.t.o. >> reporter: one of the challenges that putin faces also is the calendar. this morning we heard from deputy secretary of state wendy sherman who suggested vladimir putin would not launch an invasion during the olympics which start next friday because it would take away from xi jinping's big moment. due agree?
3:37 pm
>> i think that's probably right. rust's too dependent on china strategically. economically, it's one of the reasons sanctions may not have the desired effect. that takes you through february 20th. after that, he probably has a month in which the weather is cooperative, the ground is largely frozen, so all things being equal, if he is thinking about something that involves an intervention, i think you're more likely to be looking in the month that follows the close of the olympics. >> reporter: i wondered if i could ask you about domestic politics. yesterday we heard from minority leader mitch mcconnell say biden was "moving in the right direction" in confronting russia and sitting ukraine militarily. but very often on the cable, channel host tucker carlson on fox urges the u.s. too soft on rust. explain the dichotomy. where is the republican party today on russia. >> it's hard to speak about the republican party as a singular
3:38 pm
entity. i think the mainstream republican party agrees with the biden administration, strengthening n.a.t.o., threatening putin with various sanctions, bolstering ukraine's ability to resist an invasion or occupation but maintaining some diplomatic offramp. i quite honestly don't fathom or understand the sympathy we're seeing on arts of the far right for mr. president. -- for mr. putin. he's repressive to his people at home, uses military force with abandon both in europe and the middle east. he gets up every morning and basically thinks about what can he do to undermine the world the united states has helped build, how to undermine american democracy. so i simply don't understand the sympathy he seems to be generating in some quarters. >> reporter: richard haass, president on of the council on foreign relations, thank you
3:39 pm
very much. >> thank you, nick. >> woodruff: a key part of the biden administration's plan to distribute free covid tests depends heavily on the united states postal service. white house officials say that effort is going well, with tens of millions of tests now being shipped. but the u.s. postal service remains under intense scrutiny for its customer service and delivery, its finances, and how its workforce is dealing with covid. geoff bennett has our report. >> reporter: diana wahl of arlington, virginia ys she went a full week without mail delivery last month. >> it was terribly frustrating. if i'm mailing checks, say for health insurance or things like that, then i begin to wonder, are those being delivered? >> for me, the medication is lifesaving. >> reporter: paul m. of atlanta, who asked we not use his last name, relies on at-home delivery
3:40 pm
of his medication. in 2021, he sayshose deliveries through the u.s. postal service started taking longer to arrive. then, one week in novemberhe says nothing showed up. >> that package that i missed, it showed that it was delivered. showed on the u.s. postal service website, on the tracking, it showed that it was dropped off at the front office in my apartment complex. it wasn't. >> reporter: he says he missed a week's worth of doses. >> i had to space out my medication, and actually ration, which isn't good for any medication. ever since then, i have not received my medication through the u.s. postal service anymore. >> reporter: he is one of scores of people nationwide who complained to the newshour about delivery delays at u.s.p.s., for everything from medication to bills and birthday cards. the u.s. postal service reported that during this past holiday season, it delivered more than 13 billion pieces of mail and packages, with an average delivery time of less than three days.
3:41 pm
but, reports of delays and frustrated customers are still piling up. we asked postal workers, “why?” mark dimondstein, president of the american postal workers union, says one reason is worker shortages, caused by covid. >> we have between now 15,000 and 20,000 people a day who are quarantined, officially quarantined. so, that has an impact on service. >> reporter: since the start of the pandemic, the union told the newshour, nearly 200,000 of the roughly 650,000 postal service employees have had to quarantine at some point, with more than 90,000 positive cases. kimberly karol, president of the iowa postal workers union, says she's seen a similar covid crunch. >> we don't have enough people to be able to process and deliver the mail, and we're working even more hours. in my area, they're actually making deliveries on sundays in
3:42 pm
order to try to keep up with the demand. >> reporter: the postal service says it has put in safety measures, including face mask requirements, social distancing inside facilities, and contact- tracing protocols to kp workers safe. u.s.p.s. also told the newshour that it is increasing staffing as necessary, and in most cases it has resources to ensure on- time delivery. beyond the pandemic, postal advocates point to a larger overhaul of the independent government agency-- led by postmaster general louis dejoy-- as the main reason for the issues. his plan is aimed at fixing long-standing financial problems at the u.s.p.s. >> i would suggest that we are on a death spiral. >> reporter: in early 2021, dejoy testified before congress and argued the agency needed dramatic reforms to avoid a financial catastrophe. the ten-year plan unveiled last march, among other things, opens longer first-class mail delivery windows-- from one to three days to five days, in some cases; reduces post office hours; and raises prices for
3:43 pm
postage. >> our dire financial trajectory, operational and network misalignment to mail trends, outdated pricing, infrastructure under-investment, inadequate people engagement, and an insufficient growth strategy-- all demand immediate action. >> reporter: action that's needed, he says, to avoid $160 billion in losses over thnext ten years. the postal service declined newshour's request for an interview with the postmaster general. since 2007, the u.s. postal service has reported net losses of more than $90 billion, in large part due to a 2006 law that requires it to pre-fund employee healthcare and pensions. another factor is the major drop in mail volume, which drives profits. in the last 20 years, the postal service says first class mail shipments have declined by half. to address this, one part of the ten-year plan shifts emphasis
3:44 pm
toward shipping packages, which is more profitable. veteran postal service employees, like kimberly karol, say they understand the financial challenges, but are wary of dejoy's plan and the impact on customers. >> we're seeing the impact of the change in service standards. the raising of prices and then changing in our networks, our-- our customers are not getting the deliveries that they are expecting, in the timeframe that they are expecting, and they're frustrated because they're paying more for the product. >> reporter: changes made to postal delivery under dejoy-- who is a major donor to former president trump-- sparked outrage in 2020 when critics blamed him for service slowdowns ahead of the november election. democrats accused dejoy of attempting to sabotage the delivery of mail ballots, linking him to the former president's anti-mail-in voting rhetoric. dejoy denied those allegations. democrats are now at odds over how to handle dejoy, who can only be dismissed by the postal
3:45 pm
service board of governors. i asked white house press secretary jen psaki about this recently. what's the white house position on the persistent delivery delays that the postal service seems to be experiencing, at least anecdotally, and dejoy's current place as postmaster general? >> going back to theolidays, 97% or 98% of packages from the postal service were delivered on time. so, there may be anecdotes from that 1% or 2%, but those are-- that's actual data. we have expressed concerns in the past about delays' leadership-- sorry, dejoy-- that was a little slip there-- dejoy's leadership in the past. that has not changed. >> reporter: the biden administration is relying on the postal service as a critical partner in its covid-19 strategy, tasking it with delivering rapid covid tests to any american who wants one-- deliveries that started ahead of schedule. >> we're making one billion-- one billion-- at-home tests available for you to order and be delivered to your home for free. >> reporter: mark dimondstein
3:46 pm
of the postal union says this underscores the value of the postal service. >> what's happened in the pandemic and what's happening with this test kit project, again, just fundamentally shows to the people of a country how important it ito have a public entity. there's no private entity that coulget a test kit to everybody's home, because a private entity is going to move packages based on whether they can make a profit. postal service is a service here for everybody. >> reporter: with a mission, he says, not to make a profit, but to serve the american people. for the pbs newshour, i'm geoff bennett in washington. >> woodruff: people across europe, israel, and the world are preparing to mark international holocaust
3:47 pm
remembrance day tomorrow, to commemorate the genocide of european jews by nazi germany. the day was created in 2005 by the united nations to sustain public awareness of the genocide, which studies show has rapidly declined in recent years. special correspondent fred de sam lazaro shows us one creative attempt to educate younger generations. his story is part of our arts and culture series, "canvas." >> reporter: the pen andnk drawings are his trademark: intricate, layered with meaning in thousands of dots-- dots that children's book author peter sis wants his readers to connect: >> i have almost like a third language when, between the minimal text and the picture, i can load in some symbols and things which, maybe, will make you open the door or try to think about something else. >> reporter: his books have a wi demographic target-- young readers to teens. many are profiles of heroic figures in history >> galileo galilei, who doesn't
3:48 pm
give up, and he is a genius! and it was like, the idea was like, children among you, one of you can be galileo galilei! >> reporter: he actually wrote a book titled “the wall,” but it's about his own coming-of-age story behi the iron curtain, and one of several books that have earned him a so-called macarthur genius award and scores of others. his latest, “nicky and vera,” tackles a darker subject: the holocaust, and a quiet hero, nicholas winto whose efforts saved 669 mostly-jewish children from almost certain death. >> “as a young man, nicky traveled all over europe...” >> reporter: the idea came to sís in europe, in 2009, on a visit to his native prague, ere a group of those children were retracing their long ago train journey to england. a celebration was planned there for winton's 100th birthday. >> it's wonderful that it did work out so well because, after all, history could have made it very different.
3:49 pm
>> reporter: winton was a stockbroker in london when he heard of disturbing developments in czechoslovakia, which had come under german occupation in the months leading up to world war ii. he went to prague, hing to evacuate children whose parents were willing to let them go to england for what they hoped would be temporary safe have >> so he himself immediately sets up a little office, writes the lists of the children, and manages to get trains, visas, places in england where they would stay with foster families. >> reporter: urgency drove creativity. sometimes winton faked documents or bribed gestapo officials, doing whatever it took to get as many children out quickly before war would shutter borders. >> "if i bribe the train people, they will give me train. if i bribed the gestapo pers, he will be looking the other side." so i appreciate that he was creative in this trible situation. >> reporter: nicholawinton's efforts were not the only
3:50 pm
so-called “kindertransport” or child rescue program in the period leading up to world war ii. what's different here is that, once done, he just went on with life, and didn't tell a soul about it. >> he helped open a school, he got married, he founded an old people's home. he never told anyone about the children. >> reporter: until nearly 50 years later, when winton's wife, gretchen, found his scrapbook in their attic, and passed it on to researchers, who tracked down some of his “children.” >> and all of a sudden, adults-- >> reporter: that led to a meeting on a bbc broadcast. >> can i ask, is there anyone in our audience tonight who owes their life to nicholas winton? if so, could you stand up, please? >> reporter: it was this video that drew sís to one of those children: vera gissing. and, "nicky and vera" began to take shape. >> “vera was the queen of cats”" >> reporter: sís illustrated vera's idyllic life before the war; people and things she
3:51 pm
would leave behind: her parents and grandparents, horse, and of course, her cats. but vera's mother feared the nazis, and joined hundreds of desperate parents in lines outside winton's office in the prague hotel. sís draws this in muted black, white, and blue. >> "he took their photographs, he found train connections. spies kept watch." >> reporter: three days before r 11th birthday, vera boarded a train with 76 other children, including her sister. for almost all, it would be the last time they saw their parents. >> little vera finds a family which is very poor, but the husband says, i cannot beat hitler, but i can at least help one child who will-- who will-- who will survive this-- this whole time. >> my biggest takeaway is how incredibly fortunate we were. >> reporter: 87-year-old eva paddock was just three
3:52 pm
when she boarded the last of winton's trains. >> first of all, that my mother would allow us to go. giving up a child, or children, is amazingly difficult-- it stops mright there, even now... >> reporter: paddock was one of very few children whose parents survived the war, and reunited with her in england. she moved to the u.s., and a career in education and later, mental health care. she has no worries that sis' book is too dark for young children. >> every child has understood being left out of a group, being meanly treated, and having to me, the book-- and when i talk about it, is really a message of altruism, actually-- >> reporter: the book is filled with illustrations that she says encourage readers to dig deeper, even at older ages. >> children will ask questions, and then you go in their direction, and in as much depth as they can; but the story, you
3:53 pm
know, simply can't die. and it's going to die, unless we starwith children. >> reporter: nicholas winton died in 2015, aged 106. vera gissing, whose own memoirs that informed so much of this book, suffers advanced dementia. e's 94. i reached her daughter, nicola gissing, in bristol, england. >> i think on some kind of deeper level, she realizes that there's something about her and something's been made and her story's still being told. >> reporter: a story both she and peter sis say is very relevant today, a time when millions of children find themselves in migrant journeys in search of safe haven. >> i realize these are all human beings who have dreams. who, how impossible it is for the parents-- what parent would even put the children on the train and tell the children, "go, you have to go now, this is the only solution to survive?" all of a sudden, all these children who were crossing the borders, were trying to live
3:54 pm
somewhere else, who were immigrants like me, it all connected. >> reporter: "nicky and vera" has been translated into italian,hinese, korean, and, starting on this international holocaust remembrance day, it is ailable in german. for the pbs newshour, i'm fred de sam lazaro in irvington, new york. >> woodruff: it grabs your heart. and fred's reporting is in partnership with the under-told stories project at the university of st. thomas in minnesota. and on the newshour online, if you are immuno-compromised or otherwise medically vulnerable to covid, what do you do if you test positive? we look at treatment options that may help keep eligible patients out of the hospital. you can find that at and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
3:55 pm
>> for 25 years, consumer cellular's goal has been to provide wireless service that helps people communicate and connect. we offer a variety of no-contract plans, and our u.s.-based customer service team can help find one that fits you. to learn more, visit >> fidelity wealth management. >> johnson & johnson. >> financial services firm raymond james. >> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions anindividuals.
3:56 pm
>> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station fr viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh >> you're watching pbs.
3:57 pm
3:58 pm
3:59 pm
4:00 pm
♪ ♪ hello, everyone. welcome to "amanpour & company." here's what's coming up -- >> there will be severe consequences for russia if they once again use force against ukraine. >> a message to vladamir putin from the nato alliance. the secretary-general joins me about the rising tensions in ukraine and how to avert war. then -- >> the two big engines of growth, the u.s. and china, are slowing down. >> the global economy starts the year with a wimper. she tells me why she's downgrading prospects for growth. and -- finally free after more than 900 days in an egyptian jail. he joins me on the condions


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on