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tv   PBS News Weekend  PBS  May 8, 2022 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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♪ geoff: good evening. i'm geoff bennett. tonight on "pbs news weekend," a russian strike kills civilians sheltering in a school, while the last ukrainian fighters in mariupol vow to fight to the death. then, as pressure builds on president biden to cancel some student loan debt, we look at the options he's considering and who would benefit. and, india's heat wave draws attention to the deadly costs of climate change. somini: at a time when global average temperatures are going up, heat waves are more intense, more frequent. and that's what we are seeing now. geoff: all that and the day's headlines on tonight's "pbs news weekend." ♪
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this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. geoff: it is good to be with you. we begin again tonight in ukraine, where first lady jill biden spent part of this mother's day making an unannounced visit, meeting with her counterpart, ukrainian first lady olena zelenska. zelenska had not been seen in public since russia launched its invaon of ukraine on february 24. a u.s. official says the two women have exchanged correspondence over the last few weeks. and today in the capital city of kyiv, america's top diplomat returned to the post for the first time since the war began. -- started. that's as russian attacks continued overnight, including one in eastern ukraine where president zelenskyy says 60 were killed. nick schifrin has our report from kharkiv.
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nick: these blown out walls, this pile of debris, all that's left of the school turned shelter. local officials say 90 people were hiding here from the very bombs that reduced the building to rubble. russia's battlefield of choice has been civilian neighborhoods, like this one. where today president zelenskyy compared russia's invasion nazi germany's crimes in ukraine >> you say "never again?" tell ukraine that. our city is that saw the occupier again. >> in a statement, russian president boudin threw -- putin threw the accusation back. he said they were working on the liberation of their native land from nazi filth. tomorrow, moscow will celebrate the anniversary of nazi germany's defeat and western officials say putin could
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declare victory in mariupol after russian forces desoyed it. this evacuation -- evacuee has been through hell. >> they bombed aside night and through the day -- bombed us at night and throughout the day. boom, boom, the whole center. nick: russia is bombarding the the resistance began as farut. right militants, now integrated into the ukrainian army. >> surrender is not an option because russia not interested in our lives. they are not interested to let us live. nick: ukrainian officials hope those fighters in mariupol can hold out a few more weeks, by which time ukraine could launch a counteroffensive. in kharkiv, they have already launched counteroffensives that have pushed russia away from the center of the city, b they fear putin could use the victory
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day parade to declare he's going to escalate this war that has already stolen so many lives and destroyed so much of this country. geoff: thank you, nick. and a note, our coverage of the war in ukraine is supported in partnership with the pulitzer center. in today's headlines senate , majority leader chuck schumer has announced that the u.s. senate will vote wednesday on legislation seeking to codify abortion rights into law. senator schumer: every senator must show where he or she stands. on something as important as this, we're not going to let anybody hide. because america is on our side." geoff: we'll have more on the fight over abortion later in the broadcast. hong kong has a new leader. a staunch beijing loyalist has been elected as the next chief executive in a rubber-stamp committee vote. john lee became known for overseeing the sometimes-violent crackdowns on hong kong's pro-democry movement back in 2019. his victory is sparking concerns that china could further tighten its grip on the region.
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lee ran unopposed after hong kong's electoral laws were changed last year to allow candidatesoyal to beijing. he will replace current leader, carrie lam, in july. in nepal this weekend, a sherpa from the mountainous country scaled mount everest for a record 26th time, according to a government official. kami rita sherpa broke his own record, sejust last year. sherpas act as guides up the mountain and have dwelled in the himalayan peaks for generations. and, in 2 minutes and 2.61 seconds, last night's kentucky derby saw one of the greatest underdog finishes in the history of the sport. at 80:1 odds, rich strike's come-from-behind win was the second-longest odds ever in the race's 148-year history. and the winning horse wasn't even in the original draw. rich strike was subbed in friday, after another horse was scratched. and still to come on "pbs news weekend," a deadly heat wave in india shows the real world effects of climate change.
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and, our weekend briefing, we discuss the politics of abortion, following the leaked supreme court opinion that would overturn roe v. wade. ♪ >> this is "pbs news weekend," from the home of the pbs newshour, weeknights on pbs. geoff: it was a campaign pledge that helped president biden get elected: canceling at least $10,000 of student loan debt per person. as we reported last weekend, multiple sources say the biden administration is now planning to move ahead on this, through executive action. the white house has not finalized the proposal, but plans for the relief to be tied to income. the president has also said he is not planning to waive $50,000 in loan debt per person, as some democrats have been pushing for. for more, i spoke with npr's education correspondent, cory turner. and i started bysking him who
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would benefit from the relief. cory: it's important to remember, we're talking about 45 million federal student loan borrowers, according to the latest federal data. if the president forgives $10,000, that'going to fully wipe out the debts for about 12 million people. you know, the recent review by the federal reserve bank of new york found that this plan without income caps would slightly preference higher income borrowers. it's been reported that president biden is considering pretty hh income caps of around $150,000 per indivial and between $250,000 and $300,000 per couple. you know, the timing is unclear. i was speaking with a few sources just the other day who said they feel like this is still a few weeks in the making because it's still complicated and they need to make sure they get this right, not only legally, but also logistically. you know, i don't need to remind
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borrowers that they've been in a payment and interest moratorium for more than two years. and so, doing anything of this scale at this point is going to take some time. geoff: i want to draw you out on that, because npr did some reporting recently that found that the government's income driven repayment plan has been riddled with problems that have either delayed or denied many borrowers from getting the sort of loan forgiveness that they qualify for. what more can you tell us about that? cory: yeah. we did a lengthy months-long investigation into these idr plans and found that it wasn't just one problem, it was really a constellation of problems. and these are big plans that cover millions of borrowers. we found that borrowers who were making very small payments, perhaps even $0 payments because their income was so low, weren't getting credit towards forgiveness. again, the plan promises loan forgiveness after 20 to 25 years.
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we also found that just the general record keeping for these plans was really, really poor. and the older the loans, the less likely it was to have clean, clear, understandable records of payments fo borrowers. geoff: and, cory, as we wrap up this conversation, what about restructuring the loan repayment program? i've talked to administration officials who say that the president might be open to capping interest rates, either making them low interest or no interest. there's also been some talk about allowing more public sector workers to qualify for debt relief programs. have you picked up any of that in your reporting and would any of that really move the needle in a sort of significant way? cory: i have actually spent the past week talking with folks about interest rates. you know, the interest rate for federal student loans for next year is about to go up next week, and it's going to gup probably by quite a bit. so i've been talking with folks about the possibility of capping interest rates, about scaling
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back interest. there's one possibility called an income share agreement that could work in this sort of situation. there are possibilities. it's hard to know what the education department and the government are really taking seriously at the same time that they're trying to figure out debt cancellation. geoff: it's still very much work in progress. npr's cory turner. cory, thanks so much for sharing your reporting and your insights with us. cory: thank you, geoff. ♪ geoff: it is unbearably hot in india right now. a brutal heat wave is scorching the region, evident in images like these. in some places, temperatures have surpassed 120 degrees fahrenheit. ery year, more than a billion people sweat their way through the region's dreaded heat waves, which usually start in late may. but th wave started unusually
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early, in march, a hasn't let up. the blisteringly high temperatures are responsible for school closures, landfill fires, and a crop crisis. for more, we're joined by somini sengupta, the international climate reporter for the new york times, also the anchor of the climate forward newsletter. it's great to have you with us. and you and your colleagues have been chronicling the cascading effects of the heat. help us understand what india is enduring and the consequences of it. somini: there are really two things to keep in mind. first, many parts of india are hot in the summer. but at a time when global average temperatures are going up, heat waves are more intense, more frequent. and that's what we are seeing now. they're also more dangerous for the second reason, which is that millions of people lack basic protections. they work outdoors, and if they don't work, they don't get paid. children go to school in school buses that are not air conditioned.
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people come home to houses that may not be insulated well enough. certainly, hundreds of millions of people don't have access to air conditioning. this makes intense heat waves like this exacerbated by climate change deadly and dangerous to the health and well-being of hundreds of millns of indians. geoff: heat waves fueled by climate change. as you mentioned, they're more frequent, they're more intense. how is this being addressed in india, across south asia, and what more does the western world need to do? somini: so, there are really two things that can be done right now. one is to adapt to the present danger as quickly as possible. aptation could mean cool roofs, painting rooftops white. painting sidewalks white to lessen the impact of the heat or planting shade trees. but adaptation could also mean social protections, health insurance, protection for
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workers, early warning systems to get people in cool places when it gets so hot. the other thing, in addition to adaptation, is to rapidly ratchet down the greenhouse gas emissions that are heating up the planet. geoff: and so much of this seems like a race against time, somini. if global greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace, experts say heat and humidity levels could become unbearable, especially for the poor, who you mentioned earlier. do you have a sense, based on your reporting, how much time we have left? somini: you know, that is a very good question, and that is a very difficult question because, you know, the ience doesn't say after this year and this month, you know, the bus falls down the cliff. what we do know is the following. the best chance that the world as a whole has to avert the
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worst impacts of climate change and limit global temperature rise to around 1.5 degrees celsius, a little ov two degrees fahrenheit, the best chance we have is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030. geoff: somini sengupta, thank you so much for putting this all into context for us. we really appreciate it. ♪ time now for our weekend briefing. this week brings the first big test in the political fight over abortion rights. in the u.s. senate, democrats will try to pass federal legislation guaranteeing the right to an abortion. the effort will fail, though, because democrats do not have the votes. but that's not stopping the senate majority leader. sen. schumer: america -- all of america will be watching. republicans will not be able to hide from the american people and cannot hide from their role
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in bringing roe to an end. geoff: to talk more about the fallout of that leaked supreme court draft opinion overturning the landmark roe versus wade decision, we have with us kimberly atkins stohr, a senior opinion writer and columnist for the boston globe, and lee ann caldwell, anchor of washington post live and coauthor of the early 202 newsletter. it's great to have you both with us. and lee ann, we'll start with you, because senator schumer says the senate is going to take up a bill this week to codify roe versus wade. it clearly doesn't have 60 votes in the senate. my question is, does it even have 50 votes? and give us a sense of what the strategy is behind this, the showboat that he's set to hold. lee ann: yeah, it's a good question, geoff. i'm not sure if he even has 50 votes. of course, there's 50 democrats. but the senate voted on something similar to this earlier this year, and they did not get the support of senator joe manchin. now, it wasn't the actual legislation that they were voting on. it was just on a procedural motion to even open debate on
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the legislation. and that still did not get the support of senator joe manchin. now, the reason senator schumer is holding a vote right now, even though it's going to fail, is twofold. first, he wants to show the progressives, the decratic base, people who are frustrated and angry about this ruling, that the democrats are trying to do something even though they aren't able -- don't have the votes to get anything done. and the second reason is he wants to put all republicans on the record of voting against this. that is going to be a very clear cut line between the two parties, the republicans and democrats, on where they stand on this issue. and senator schumer wants to make that known. now, the difference between back in february when they had this vote and today is now it's not esoteric, it's real. there is a very good chance that roe v. wade is going to be overturned by the supreme court,
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assuming this draft decision does, in fact, become reality. geoff: and kimberly, building on the point that lee ann made about democrats viewing this now as being a real threat, i want to draw on your legal background because as you know, the idea in roe is that abortion is an unenumerated right, one that the constitution protects, even if it doesn't explicitly say that there is a right to an abortion. and the thing that we've been hearing all this past week is that if roe is overturned, that could undermine other rights, like same sex marriage, access to contraception, interracial marriage, potentially. there have been people who have said that that sort of idea is overblown. what's your sense of it? kimberly: well, i think it wl be very difficult to keep this contained to only apply to abortion. justice sam alito, in the opinion, tried to say that and tried to distinguish it by saying that abortion involves a human life. and so it's different from those other things.
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but when you look at that, that analysis, it's called substantive due process. that's that right that you're talking about, the rights that are not expressly in the constitution, but that the court has recognized as fundamental. it'the privacy right that the right to abortion was based upon. that underscores the rights to access contraception, the right to have privacy to do what you please in your own home and extendto other things. it could include the same sex marriage right, depending on the way that it's interpreted. i think those and interracial marriage and other things are also based on equal protection, which may make those a little harder to attack. but certainly there are a number of rights that we think about in terms of liberty that are protected by the constitution, or at least have been until they, too, are challenged. and if it's thrown out the same way that this privacy right was essentially thrown out by justice alito, it could be -- they could be on shaky ground. geoff: and lee ann, ere has been this interesting dynamic where republicans who have
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worked for decades, for generations to get to this moment, and yet they don't want to talk about it. take a look at what mitch mcconnell, senator mcconnell, said. senator mcconnell: this laws act ion should be investigated and punished to the fullest extent possible. the court should tune out the bad faith noise and feel completely free to do their job. geoff: what's the issue here? are they concerned about voter backlash? is that why they're notalking about the substance of the opinion, the draft opinion, and more about the leak? lee ann: yeah, it's pretty incredible, geoff, that conservatives, social conservatives have been working on this issue for decades. and now they have done it, and they are not talking, as you mentioned, about the substance of the case. they're talking about the leak. now, the reason is, i'm told by republican operatives, by republican sources, is that because there is a lot of uncertainty in how the public is
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going to view this. the midterms are just six months away. and now, like we were talking about before, this is not just something -- this is reality now. and so voters could very well punish republicans. geoff: yeah. kimberly, on the democratic side, there is some liberal frustration that democrats in washinon don't seem to be fighting hard enough. here's what california governor gavin newsom said this past week. gov. newsom: where the hell is my party? where's the democratic party? this is a concted, coordinat effort. and, yes, they're winning. they are. they have been. let's acknowledge that. we need to stand up. where's the counteroffensive? geoff: and there have been democrats who've said, you know, it's been no secret that republicans have been trying for generations to overturn roe. where's the fight? where's the strategy? how are washington democrats responding to that? kimberly: well, we do see this vote that is set up to put everyone on record. but you're absolutely right. this is not something that
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happened overnight. this draft decision is the result of a more than decades long, sustained campaign by him -- sustained campaign by conservative groups, members of the christian right, well-funded, well-coordinated task to put conservatives in office so that they can appoint conservative judges and justices and lead up to this decision. if democrats are turning to this issue now, they're really far behind the starting line. they're really far behind the finish line, essentially at this point. and so i think that's what u're seeing now, a scramble by democrats on the national and state levels to see extly what they can do to fight this off now, and it may be too late. geoff: kimberly atkins stohr and lee ann caldwell, thank you both for your reporting and your insights. it's great to see you. ♪ finally tonight, a new animated
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story from our partners at storycorps for mother's day. lourdes villanueva's parents worked as migrant workers, picking fruit across the country. she spoke with her son roger about what it was like going to school while her family was constantly on the move. lourdes: everywhere we went, even if we were ing to be there for four weeks, six weeks picking the crops, my mother would make sure that they enrolled us in school. and spanish was not allowed in the school systems, even out in the playground. i mean, they used to have the lile playground patrols, which were our friends that were supposed to turn you in if you were speaking spanish out in the playground, which of course i was always in trouble because i was speaking spanish. then of course in the ninth grade is when you started working for credits to graduate. and we never stayed in one place long enough to get any credits. so, why even bother? i thought i knew everything that i needed to know at that time and got married at 18 and had you. you pretty much grew up in the
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back of the pickup truck. i was picking crops, and in my breaks, i had to change your diaper and do whatever needed to be done and continue on working. and i always thought that you need to do what i didn't do, which is finish your education first. roger: you always said that you were going to lead by example. i remember when you got your ged. you were in the fields and, instead of having lunch, you would have your books and you'd be studying. after that i remember you said, , you know, i'm going to go to the community college at night. and i remember you taking one class and you started off like that. and then dad was the one to take care of us, to cook for us. and we hated the beans and eggs because that's all he ever knew how to cook for us. i can remember stuffing it into the refrigerator and then we would act like our plates were done. he used to make us eat everything, because he wanted us to appreciate everything that we had. because i know that both of you came from basically nothing. i was just so proud the day that yograduated.
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lourdes: i had to hurry up and graduate before you guys did because i knew you guys were coming right behind me and. roger: yeah, well, i really thought there was something special. if i was to have the choice to choose another mother, i would never choose anybody else but you. and when i look for my partner, i always said, if my wife can be half the woman that my mother is, i will be ok. and i know i've never told you that, but that's the way i feel. geoff: it's quite a story. for more stories like that you , can go to storycorps.org. that's "pbs news weekend"or tonight. tomorrow, russia commemorates its victory over nazi germany in -- germany even as it escalates , its own brutal war against ukraine. that's monday on the "pbs newshour." i'm geoff bennett. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at "pbs news weekend," thanks for spending part of your sunday with us. >> major funding for pbs news weekend has been provided by -- and with the ongoing support of these individuals and institutions.
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[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.] >> this program was made possible by the corporation or public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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-funding for this program provided by... ...by the following funders and others. a complete list is available from pbs. -the congress is so polarized. the american public is so polarized on certain issues. and you wonder, how are we gonna er get the different voices to come together to get something done? -there was a symbolic impact of being the first asian-american cabinet member. -i tried to depoliticize my cabinet. and there's no better public servant for america than norm mineta.

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