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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  April 6, 2022 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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judy: good evening. on the newshour tonight, the war grinds on. russia refocuses its attacks on ukraine's east as western nations announce more sanctions in response to the atrocities against ukrainian civilians. then, pain at the pump. lawmakers grill oil executives about the sharp rise in gasoline prices that is squeezing americans' wallets. and banning books. multiple states across the country advance legislation prohibiting certain literature, highlighting the nation's widening cultural divide. >> you start saying that you can't read this book, i don't want this book in the library. in essence, that book is being banned. there are politicians that's threatened to pull funding if i
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put a book on a shelf. that's banning. judy: all that and more on tonight's "pbs newshour." ♪ >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by -- ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf. the engine that connects us. >> supporting social
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entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most resting problems -- pressing problems. >> the lemelson foundation. on the web at supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. coitted to building a more just, 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. judy: russian military forces have almost completely left the region surrounding ukraine's capital, kyiv, according to american officials.
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they are now turning towards ukraine's east, and a new and brutal fight to come. meantime, evidence of possib atrocities committed by russian forces mounts throughout newly freed areas of northern ukraine. in brussels, european union leaders met to consider a ban on russian coal, while secretary of state antony blinken met with alliance leaders at nato. our nick schifrin traveled to brussels with blinken and he begins our coverage of the war . and a warning, some images in this report are disturbing. [dog barking] nick: the apocalyptic aftermath of bucha remains an unaltered hellscape. survivors walk past entire city blocks that no longer exist, clutching water that a month of horror made precious. today was the first time in four
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weeks 57-year-old vladym zaborylo and his wife left their basement shelter. they pass discarded russian uniforms, russian ammunition, and the ukrainian soldiers who helped saved them. >> honestly, it's the first time i've seen something like this. i served in the army. but something like this, i have never witnessed it. why do they need to kill civilians? i d't get it. nick: those who died in bucha are still being buried. serhii lahovksyi and another bucha resident lost their closest friend, igor. and in war, friends try to provide the dead some dignity. they bury igor in a dirty carpet in a hastily dug hole on the side of the road. but they gave him a final resting place, even if friends, and parents, will never understand. >> his father came and asked where his son was. he went to his mother's to bring some food, and disappeared. what for? why have these beasts shot him? nick: ukrainian president
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volodymyr zelenskyy said russia should bear proportionate punishment. >> after what the world saw in bucha, sanctions against russia must be commensurate with the gravity of the occupiers' war crimes. >> authoritarians cannot trample on the rights of democratic people. nick: in brussels today, secretary of state antony blinken met with australian and european counterparts -- >> it's good to be back, it feels like we never left. nick: for a two-day meeting at nato headquarts, as t u.s. announced more economic measuremt -- a ban on all new investment in russia additional sanctions on russia's largest private bank sberbank, blocking any transaction with us institutions, a restriction on russian debt payments and sanctions on president putin's eldest two daughters, as well as foreign minister sergey lavrov's wife and daughter. at the european parliament today, leaders discussed blocking russian coal imports, the first time it has targeted russia's energy sector. eu commission president ursula von der layen predicted more energy sanctions would follow. >> now we have to look into oil and we will have to look into the revenues that russia gets
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fr the fossil fuels. nick: but eu leaders have been divided over an embargo on russian oil and gas. germany is resisting immediate moves. eastern flank allies such as lithuania and poland have already announced to stop importing russian natural gas. >> we cannot continue feeding the russian war machine. [7.0] regardless of the eu decisions, we're going to phase out russian oil very soon too, russian coal immediately, and we are ready to phase out russian gas by the end of the year. nick: we spoke to polish ambassador to nato tomasz szatkowski today in brussels. >> we are calling on our partners and allies to do the same. and i mean, unity is absolutely key when it comes to nato's strength, but unity should not be, you know, going down to the lowest common denominator. nick: that lowest common denominator meant nato mbers decided not to send arms to ukraine as an alliance, and instead sent arms as individua counies. the argument was nato didn't want to antagonize russia. szatkowski says that fear was overblown.
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the eu is financing hundreds of millions of worth of military assistance to ukraine, and nobody is retaliating with nuclear weapons. so, i mean, i think the risks are overstated. today a senior defense official said russian units had completed their withdrawal from kyiv. western officials tell pbs newshour they expect russians to redeploy to the east, and will be ready to launch a large offensive within two weeks. the goal -- capture mariupol, where the suffering remains unending, and connect to land seized across the south. to try and prevent that, the u.s. last night announced $100 million more in military aid, for a total of 1.7 billion since the invasion. but poland and other eastern flanallies are pushing for more. >> ukraine will need more advanced weaponry, sort of systems of higher end. they've been provided by by allies with very efftive
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defensive basic level weaponry, but now they will need to replenish their stocks of, you know, artillery systems, tanks, as you have said, air defense systems. the u.s. and allies are also sending more troops to eastern europe, but their numbers are still relatively low. the eastern flank is pushing nato leaders for a more permanent presence. >> we need to see a need to bolster the defense both qualitatively and and and quantitatively, and change its nature from from trip wire into something some people call forward defense. we need to move from symbolic posture into something that is meaningful. nick: that might be more likely after the horrors of bucha. and in the meantime, there's a demand for accountability. >> we need to target those who are responsible. this is something on which we
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just cannot go back to the business as usual. otherwise, we will send a signal that this is something you can do, you can conduct and then just be treated as normal partner. so that would be basically an encouragement to repeat those actions. nick: u.s. and european officials say they are supporting ukrainian efforts to collect evidence of war crimes. accountability is always difficult, but especially when the crime scene remains a battlefield. judy: nick, do we know exactly what the foreign ministers are expected to talk about tomorrow in six hours of meetings? nick: one of the main things is the presence of the foreign minister of ukraine. he is expected to be here early tomorrow, will receive a warm welcome from the secretary-general. he will have many meetings with his foreign minister
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counterparts here in brussels. he will also hold a press conference, a where things for nato to give a mic to a nonmember. he wil also call for a ban on russian ships accessing european ports, a ban on russian trucks, and of course a gas and oil embargo, under a demand that president zelenskyy in kyiv repeated. he will also address not only nato's 30 members, but other non-nato members, including four asian allies and finland and sweden, two northern european countries that are not in nato but are currently having historic conversations about whether or not they will join nato in the coming months. finally, the foreign ministers will also talk about how to deter russia in the short-term, and that means new battle groups. new soldiers, more forces sent to south eastern europe. this is a place around the black sea around ukraine's borders
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that nato has not been focused on, at least it was not before the russian invasion. judy: beyond the short-term, based on your reporting, but are these officials expecting to think about or talk about with regard to deterring russia in the long term? nick: there are crucial questions about more forces. you heard poland's ambassador calling for more forces in eastern europe. more than a trip wire, more than just a series of western nurses who could a sickly call -- western forces who cou basically call the cavalry to respond to anything russia does. increasing readiness of those forces. what would they be able to do if russia crossed the border? how would they be able to redeploy and resupply forces from the west? questions about air defenses. a lot of needing eastern europe that does not exist to deter russian missiles.
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one of the biggest challenges will be to retain alliance ity. it is one thing for the alliance to have unity over the first five weeks or so of this war, but as officials feared this war will last months, perhaps years, that unity will become incrsingly a challenge. judy: nick schifrin, who is reporting from brussels tonight, where it is late. thank you, nick. and a note, our coverage of the russian invasion of ukraine is supported in partnership with the pulitzer cetner. and now for an official view from the european union. josep borell is the high representative for foreign policy of the bloc, a position he's held since 2019. he was also in brussels when i spoke with him earlier today. mr. borell, thank you very much for talking with us. after seeing evidence of what the russian military has done to ukrainian civilians, is the you this week going to agree to band
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buying russian coal? >> yes, a technical group is working on that. but certainly it is going to be -- in fact, it is part of our fifth package of sanctions. have already taken a lot of them on the financial side, economic sectors. these are the first sanctions on the energy side. judy: how much of a difference is this going to make in terms of decision-making by mr. putin and the people around him prosecuting this war? mr. borell: i am pretty much aware of that important issue for putin, it is not call, it is mainly gas and oil. but we have frozen the reserves of the central bank of russia into the bank of the g-7 countries, and that is why they
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have to start paying back their debts, nominated in dollars or euros. that applies to payback on bad currency in rubles. i am sure the agency would not be happy with that. judy: i do want to ask you about that, but on this question of how much russian leadership is going to change its thinking as a result of what they you is doing -- of what the eu is doing, you point out that in a way, eu companies have subsidized the russians by paying for energy, 35 billion euros just since the war began. that is contrasted with the sanctions you are trying to impose, which are much less. mr. borell: we are not subsidizing, we are paying for the gas. it is not the subsidy, it is the price we pay, and we are thinking of how to get rid of that, but certainly we cannot cut gas imports overnight.
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just imagine the case of some member states, which rely on russian gas and oil for 50% of consumption. they will reduce quickly, but you cannot close it overnight. it would be impossible. judy: i understand it cannot be overnight, but how quickly can happen? the war has been going on for all these weeks. you forecast just this week that it could go for years. how does europe sustain continuing to do business with russia? how quickly can europe send the signal that it is just not going to tolerate this? >> well, business is a large word from the economic and financial point of view. we are doing everything we can. in the energy sector, we hope that in a year the consumption will be almost vanishing, but it
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will defend a lot on -- depend a lot on how quickly the u.s. will bring us gas to substitute russian gas. judy: but a year is enough time for russians to inflict unimaginable, not just death, destruction, even more than what we have already seen on ukraine. mr. borell: the capacity of the russian army does not depend on the gas they are selling. they have enough resources, enough capacity to continue. the important thing is to arm the ukrainians, and we are providing all the member states a lot of arms. i think that thanks to these arms, from the 27 member states, the ukrainians are resisting. judy: but as you know, president zelenskyy is saying he is not getting enough in the way of weapons. he is asking for more
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antiaircraft, antitank. you are going to be in kyiv in the coming days to talk to him. what do you say when he continues to make this argument? mr. borell: i would say the same thing, nothing is enough. when you are fighting a war and you see what is happening to your country. but we are doing erything we can in order to help ukraine without being part of the war. you also have limitations. there are some materials that are very difficult to provide. planes, for example. but without support, the resistance of the ukrainian army would have already reached an end. certainly, zelenskyy wants more, and we will provide more as far
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as we don't get involved in a war. judy: meanwhile, it is, as we say, inflicting unimaginable, terrible things on the ukrainian people. you mentioned currency a moment ago. i want to ask you about that. hungary is now seeing -- it's leader who has just been reelected is saying they will pay russia for energy in rubles, as vladimir putin has demanded. in other words, they are going to break away from the eu. should hungary continue to be in the you? -- the eu? mr. borell: the members of the european union is not the same thing as the united states. they have a much bigger degree of autonomy and can make decisions on their own in issues where there is not a concrete
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and binding decision taken by e union. hungary has the ability. the quantitative importance of the decision is very small. judy: when you see president zelenskyy this week, if he were to ask you is the european union doing everything it can to help ukraine, what would your answer be? mr. borell: at the level of the union, we are doing everything we can, but we are ready to do more. judy: joseph borell, thank you very much. mr. rell: thank you. ♪ sthanie: i'm stephanie sy with nehour west. we'll return to the full program after the latest headlines.
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the u.s. house of representatives voted today to hold two fmer trump advisors in contempt of congress for failing to comply with the january 6 investigation. peter navao and dan scavino have refused to testify, even though president biden has denied them the shield of executive privilege. the near party line vote will send criminal referrals to the justice department to decide whether to prosecute the pair. president biden signed into law a long-awaited overhaul of the beleaguered u.s. postal service. the bill had support from both parties. it lifts budget requirements that stretched the service's finances. it also spells out that mail must be delivered six days a week. also today, the president extended a pause on federal student loan repayments through august 31. the freeze has now been extended 6 times during the pandemic. it affects more than 43 million americans, amounting to a
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combined $1.6 trillion of student debt. the united states charged a russian media baron with spreading propaganda on ukraine, in violation of u.s. sanctions. konstantin mal'ofev is believed to be in russia, beyond the reach of u.s. justice. but justice department officials said they've seized $10 million dollars of his assets, two days after seizing another oligarch's yacht. >> we have our eyes on every yacht and jet. we have our eyes on every piece of art and real estate purchased with dirty money and on every bitcoin wallet filled with proceeds of theft and other crimes. stephanie: the justice department also said it has disrupted a "bot-net", a network of thousands of infected computers, controlled by russian military intelligence. in israel, the fragile governing coalition is in disarray after a single lawmaker's defection erased its majority in parliament. a key member of prime minister neftali bennet's party said she was leaving his coalition after a dispute over religious observances in public hospitals during passover. if it can't be resolved, israel could face new, national
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elections for the fifth time in just over three years. back in this country, parts of the south are recovering from tornados and thunderstorms for the second time in 2 weeks. at least three people were killed tuesday in texas, louisiana, and georgia. gusting winds and heavy rain hit central georgia hard, and a twister struck west of savannah before veering off. farther -- before veering off farther south. another storm ripped a path near blakely. >> there was a tornado that touched down in this path, a the top of a pine tree fell into the front part of my parents' house. there's a le in the front. this can be fixed. this is, this, everybody's safe, nobody got hurt. stephanie: they tornado warning also forced the state house in south carolina to be evacuated. thousands of customers lost power across several states. prosecors in minneapolis have decided not to charge a police officer who fatally shot amir locke. the 22-year-old black man was
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killed during a "no-knock" search in february. today, prosecutors said they could not justify charges because locke pointed a gun. afterwards, his mother warned the officer that she won't give up. the state's attorney general, keith ellison, and locke's mother spoke at separate briefings. >> it would be unethical f us to file charges in a case in which we know that we will not be able to prevail because the law does not support the charges. 4:13 >> the spirit of my baby is going to haunt you for the rest of your life. i am not disappointed. i am disgusted with the city of minneapolis. stephanie: just yesterday, the mayor of minneapolis announced a new policy that requires police to knock and wait before entering a home. it takes effect friday. kentucky's democratic governor andy beshear vetoed a bill that would have barred transgender girls and women from participating in school sports matching their gender identity. bashear said the bill would have most likely violated the constitution's equal protection
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rights. the republican-dominated legislature still has the power to override the veto when lawmakers meet april3. and the early 1960's singer and teen idol bobby rydell has passed away, after complications from pneumonia. he gained stardom in the period between elvis and "the beatles," with nearly three dozen hits, including "kissing time" and "wild one." he also starred in the 1963 movie musical "bye bye birdie", can made numerous tv appearances. bobby rydell was 79. still to come on the newshour, oklahoma passes a near-total ban on abortion. the increasing partisan divide on the supreme court raises questions about ethics. multiple states across the country advance legislation banning certain books from schools. plus, much more. >> this is the pbs newshour. from weta studios in
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washington. judy: with gas prices above four dollars a gallon, democrats grilled some top oil executives on capitol hill today, and they, in turn, denied allegations of price gouging. amna nawaz has the story. >> we're here to get answers from oil companies about why they're ripping off the american people. >> lawmakers on capitol hill today laying blame for rising gas prices on executives from bp, chevron, shell, exxonmobil, and more. >> at a time of record profits, big oil is refusing to provide increases to production to provide the american people some much needed relief at the gas pump. >> since russia's invasion of ukraine, fuel prices have shot up and stayed high.
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gas prices jumped from $3.53 per gallon before putin's invasion to $4.31 per gallon three weeks later. they've since slipped slightly to $4.17 a gallon this week. meantime, the price of crude oil has fallen from a peak of $127 a barrel in early march to around $101 today. even before the invasion, oil company profits had reached record highs. last year, exxonmobil's net profits were more than $23 billion, while chevron netted $15.6 billion, its most profitable year since 2014. >> but you know something? it's not just about he shareholders. the american people who we represent provide the industry with more than $30 billion a year in subsidies while the oil and gas companies report record high profits and while american families are forced to pay record high prices at the pump. amna: oil executives pushed back on the democratic claims, saying it's all about basic economics. >> no single company sets the
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price of oil or gasoline. the market establishes the price based on available supply, and the demand for that supply. amna: while chevron ceo suggested producers don't have as much say in getting gas prices back down. >> we do not control the market price of crude oil or natural gas, or of refined products of gasoline or deisel fuel. amna: the hearing came as democrats try to show voters they're working to bring down fuel prices, amid fears inflation could mean heavy losses at november's midterm elections. in a bid to relieve pain at the pump, president biden last thursday ordered the release of 1 million barrels of oil a day from the u.s. strategic petroleum reserve. pr. biden: our prices are rising because of putin's actions. there isn't enough supply. and the bottom line is if we want lower gas prices, we need to have more oil supply right now." amna: the president also sought to put pressure on the oil companies.
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pres. biden: this is the time not the time to sit on record profits, it's time to step up for the good of your country and the good of the world. amna: back at today's hearing, republicans argued that president biden's climate policies are making things worse. rep. griffith: it is impossible to generate confidence or invest in production today when future production is clearly being blocked by this administration. amna: meanwhile, everyday amicans are feeling the pressure. in a recent poll, respondents listed gas prices as their top concern, with 68% saying they were "very" concerned. for the pbs newshour, i'm amna nawaz. ♪ judy: the oklahoma legislature has passed a near-total ban on abortions in the state, marking the latest in a national trend of red states implementing restrictive abortion laws. stephanie sy has more. stephanie: the oklahoma bill passed with an overwhelming majority yesterday and with
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little debate. it makes providing abortions illegal and punishable with up to 10 years of prison time and a fine of $100,000. the only exception is to save the life of the mother in what the law calls a "physical" medical emergency. for more on all this, i'm joined by adam kemp, the newshour's communities correspondent in oklahoma city. adam, you have been covering the wave of antiabortion legislation in red states. assuming that oklahoma governor kevin stitt signs the bill into law, what is the impact? kevin: that's right, stephanie. the oklahoma governor has actually said any antiabortion legislature that reaches his desk, he will sign it. this bill is interesting because it actually passed the oklahoma senate last year and was taken up by the oklahoma use yesterday while a big protest of abortion advocates was on the front steps of the capitol, protesting other legislation. the impact, advocates say, could
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be very severe. oklahoma is currently a critical access point for people from texas after the passage of sb numeral late last year, which banned abortions at six weeks of pregnancy. those texans have funneled over the borders of the adjacent states, half of them coming to oklahoma to seek out an abortion . advocates say this kind of legislation could really cripple the state in terms of providing that care for people. and there are more pieces of legislation on the way, including a possible trigger affect ban, which would eliminate abortions in the state entirely if roe v. wade were to be rolled back at all. stephanie: adam, assuming there will be court challenges to this law, what are the chances it will actually go into effect, and are abortion providers in that state -- and there are a limited number -- actually
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preparing for this band? adam: it is kind of unknown at this point. the law is fully expected to be signed by governor stitt, but three similar laws were signed last year by governor stitt, and those were all overturned by the oklahoma state supreme court, so they did not even make it out of the state. but with the possibility of roe v. wade being challenged in the supreme court, kind of everything is up in the air at this point. advocates are kind of warning where the pieces will fall. stephanie: thank you. adam: my pleasure. stephanie: oklahoma's law fits -- and now to take a look at how oklahoma's law fits into a national trend, i'm joined by mary ziegler, author of "abortion and the law in america: roe v. wade to the present." mary, thank you for joining the newshour. tell us how oklahoma's bill
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compares to other abortion legislation across the country, like sb 8 in texas. >> i think sb 8 was written for when states had to circumvent constitutional protections for abortion rights. oklahoma legislators are declaring that there are no more abortion rights in a matter of months, that states will be able to do what they want. i think other states will issue similar criminal prohibitions to this one, initially, at least, targeting doctors. stephanie: this law, though, doesn't seem blatantly unconstitutional, violating the federal statute that was established by roe v. wade. what is the intention behind passing ws like this? is i just to be ready in the hope for antiabortion advocates that roe v. wade will be overturned? mary: it is. i think it is a vote of confidence that red state lawmakers have at this supreme court will reverse roe v. wade in short order.
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they have some reason to believe this is correct. while this law will almost certainly be blocked in the short-term because it is unconstitutional, the supreme court is likely to change its interpretation to the constitution and open the door to criminal laws like the one we see a note,. -- seen oklahoma. stephanie: oklahoma is not alone in trying to pre-emptively restrict abortion in the chance that roe v. wade is overturned when the supreme court takes up the mississippi abortion law in june. according to the guttmacher institute, 12 states have drafted trigger bills in the case that the high court overturns or weakens the consitutional right. what are the potential outcomes for this battle at the state level? mary: i think one of the interesting questions is to be whether we will see three americas when it comes to abortion, which is to say that there are some states that either decide not to ban all abortions, maybe ban some abortions we don't know if that is going to happen yet.
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oklahoma was an interesting state to see fall under the list of states planning on banning all abortions, because it had not yet done so. there are likely to be intense battles in some states about whether every red stable follow oklahoma's path, or whether we will see some states land somewhere in t middle, like banng abortion at 15 weeks. it is too early to say. stephanie: i want to talk about medication abortion, because more than half of the women who decide to have an abortion are now doing so by taking a pill, including half of the women in oklahoma seeking abortions. how does that fact change the legal landscape and the strategy for those advocates trying to stop all abortions? mary: it complicates it considerably, because it states like oklahoma have staked out two positions, one that they want to ban all abortions, except for potentially certain medical emergencies or life-threatening scenarios, and two, that they don't want to punish women, but those seem to be in direct tension with each
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other but we think about the ability of abortion medication. that is going to mean that some women in oklahoma are going to continue to get abortions even if roe is overturned, and they may do so without visiting a doctor in oklahoma. they may be getting the pills from a doctor overseas. at that point, the question for oklahoma is going to become, do they decide to punish women or other people who can get pregnant, or do they just create a loophole in the laws? i think there is going to be an arms race between people who seek abortions and states trying to impose the prohibitions they put in place. stephanie: mary ziegler, author of "abtion and the law in america," thanks for joining the newshour. >> thanks for having me. ♪ judy: the congressional committee investigating january 6 has been poring through thousands of communications around the attack.
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but it is messages between president trump's chief of staff and ginni thomas, the wife of supreme court justice clarence thomas, that have raised questions beyond the attack itself. john yang has more. john: judy, the 29 text messages and ginni thomas's outspoken support for overturning the 2020 election have led some critics to call for justice thomas to recuse himself from cases about the investigation and the election. it's also sparked a larger conversation about what supreme court justices should and should not be allowed to do. to discuss this, gabe roth. he's the executive director of fix the court, a group advocating for supreme court reforms. and john malcolm, the director of the meese center for legal & judicial studies at the heritage foundation. and we should note that ginni thomas worked at heritage before john malcom joined the undation. gentlemen, thanks to you both, and welcome to the newshour.
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in january, before these text were publicly known, the supreme court blocked donald trump's bid to keep the january 6 investigative commission from getting documents from the national archives. if -- and justice thomas was the only dissenter in that case. gabe, if justice thomas had known about those phone text messages, and we don't know that he did, or even if he did not know, do you think he should have recused himself, and should he recuse himself from future cases? >> rolling into the 2020 election and the efforts to overturn it, absolutely, he should recuse himself from those future cases, and he should recuse himself from the case that went to the supreme court in january. there is no question that the operative federal law on recusal is implemented here. it says a justice shall recuse when his impartiality might be questioned.
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a reasonable person might believe that clarence and ginny spoke about what her efforts were in terms of trying to overturn the election. they should also recuse when spouses' interests are implicated. the term interest is kind of brought it. but because this is a reasonable person standard, he should step aside. i think stepping aside would stop impugning the integrity of the supreme court, which has happened with his participation. john: john, what do you think? john m.: i completely disagree with that. ginni thomas is not a lawyer. she does not work for any organization in terms of a lawsuit. there is no reason to believe she is any legal jeopardy whatsoever. while her messages might have been unwise or perhaps hyperbolic, there was no reason
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to question the impartiality of justice thomas or other members of the court to rule on arcane legal issues such as changes to voting laws and the scope of executive privilege. this is part of an ongoing effort to intimidate conservative judges, and a long time effort into denigrating justice thomas to delegitimize the court. she has no personal interest at all they could be affected by the outcome of any litigation afcted to the election or january 6. she may have wanted donald trump to win the election over for a legal challenge to succeed, but she is not involved in any of that. john y.: there is a new poll out today from politico that shows a little more than half of those questioned say they believe justice thomas should not participate in election related cases. donalcolm, if he does decide not to recuse himself to participate in these cases, do
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you think he should explain why, if for no other reason then sort of the public integrity and legitimacy of the court? john m.: if he does recuse, it will be obvious why. it usually is when a justice recuse is himself. it is because they have a family member who has a personal, usually financial stake in the outcome of a case. justices do not typically state why they do not recuse. it is because they believe their impartiality cannot be questioned. ginni thomas has said that clarence is not involved in her political activity, and she does not get her constitutional rights from her husband, and certainly she does not dictate how she should decide legal russians or by legal theories -- legal questions or want to legal theories he should deploy in writing his opinions. john y.: gabe, what is your reaction? gabe: there is no effort to
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intimidate conservative justices. there are standards that all justices should be following. in this case, justice thomas is not following those standards. i would argue justice kagan did not follow those standards when she did not recuse from the obamacare case is about a decade ago, and i would argue that justice breyer and justice alito and justice roberts, who all own shares in publicly traded companies who sometimes forget to recuse from those cases, are also not following those standards. there is no campaign, no effort to try to intimidate anyone. it is just groups like mine, fix the court, a nonpartisan group, are trying to say there are basic ethics standards that every judge in the country should follow, and the supreme court, which has exempted itself from, even having a basic ethics code should not be exempt, and that no justice is above the law or basic at the guard rails -- or basic ethical guard rai.
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john y.: this is not the first time that ginni thomas' political activism has raised these questions. it also came up with the courts were considering the affordable care act. just as was asked about spouse'' activities -- justice amy coney barrett was asked about spouse'' activities at the reagan library. >> i think the court in society has to adjust to expect that. >> do you think there should be court guidelines on what the spouses should or should not do? justice barrett: i don't think most of the spouses would be happabout those guidelines. when i try to get my husband guidelines about what to do in the house, even, that does not go over well. [laughter] john y.: should the code of conduct to be more explicit at the supreme court, or should it explicitly covers spouses' activities? gabe: it does.
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when a spouse has a personal interest that can be substantially affected by the outcome of a case, then the judge is supposed to recuse. if ginni thomas were a litigant, if she were a party or work for an organization that was a party in any of this, if she sent messages saying that she was lobbying her husband or had her husband speak to litigants, then this would be a totally different story. but that is not the case. john y.: gabe, i know your grave has proposed a code of ethics and spouses' activities under that. what do you say? gabe: with ginni thomas, it has been part of a patterning practice. a lot of folks are tired of that activism and are concerned that it could be bleeding into the conversations she has with her husband. overall, the issue is if you are a member of the public and the supreme court is going to have outsize power -- congress
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basically cannot do anything, congress and the executive are always fighting, power is a vacuum so the supreme court has become the least accountable part of our government -- we won basic guidelines that every just as follows so we have expectations -- that every justice follows so we have expectations. this was introduced by a bicameral group in the house and senate, saying this is what a code of conduct should be, what recusal laws should be in the 21st century, and we should not have this sort of, we are judges, the judiciary, we are philosopher kings of our age and you should just trust that we are above the law and above suspicion. that is not the case. as a healthy, modern democracy, we want judges and justices to follow modern and very basic rules of the road when it comes to ethics and recusal. john y.: gabe roth and john malcolm, thank you very much.
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♪ judy: a new report from the american library association shows that attempts to ban books in the u.s. surged last year to the highest level since the group began tracki book challenges 20 years o. according to the study, most of the top targeted books were by or about black or lgbtq people. it's an issue now tied up in local, state, and national politics. jeffrey brown recently wt to one epicenter, in texas, to report for our arts and culture series, "canvas." >> it's almost like she's betrayed by her own mind creating that fantasy, and also betrayed by th person she idolized for so long. jeffrey: a book club discussion
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in the library at vandegrift high school, in the leander, texas, independent school district northwest of austin. >> how far has everyone gotten? jeffrey: but this is the band book club, where the reading list is made up of books removed from classrooms. it was started by sophomores alyssa hoy and ella scott. >> i think it was really unexpected that they were taking these out of the classroom. jeffrey: unexpected? >> yeah, because these are critically acclaimed books and they're loved by so many people and they tell very powerful and engaging stories that should be told. jeffrey: have you noticed themes in the books that are being questioned? >> yeah, most of the books we read have women or women of color or people who don't have heterosexual relations or are just not white, raight people as the main characters. >> we ha noticed that is a really common theme. jeffrey: on this day, members were reading "in the dream
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house," a memoir by carmen maria machado, about an abusive same-sex relationship. the book was widely praised and on many best of the year lists for 2019. but some parents focused concern on a few brief but graphic scenes. and last year it was one of 11 oks and graphic novels removed from classroom libraries and english class "book clubs", where no specific book is required, but students choose from lists of about 15 books to read and discuss. nine of the eleven remain available in school libraries, but are under review for possible removal there as well. the banned book club members are reading in order to add their voices to the debate. what did you take from "in the dream house ?"dream house"? >> i learned a lot about abusive relationships, which is something i can't just know, unless you go through it. and it taught me how it affects the person. it teaches you, you know, how it
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affects you mentally, and it gives you insight into how it really damages a person. jeffrey: not so far away, roosevelt weeks, director of austin's public libraries, also makes it personal. >> it's still up to that parent to say, i don't want my child to read that. and i want to keep saying that, that it is a parent's responsibility of that child. but i don't want a group of people to tell my son or my daughter what to read. jeffrey: in texas, as elsewhere, the issue is deeply politicized. last october, republican state representative matt krause, then running for texas attorney general, sent schools statewide a letter demanding to know whether they had any books on a list of about 850 titles. he said he was concerned about materials that "might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex." the national free speech group "pen america" denounced the move as targeting race, sexuality, and gender. a month later, governor greg abbott called on state education officials to develop standards to prevent "pornography" and
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"other obscene content." and local school board meetings have become contentious. >> part of the problem is some parents just flat out don't realize. i never in a million years would have thought some of this material would be in a classroom with minors. jeffrey: trista parks, a parent whose two children graduated from the leander district, cites explicit, in some cases violent, passages from several books that, as she correctly points out, we can't show on television. >> i'm not sure how any kid being exposed to that kind of graphic material in a classroom can be helpful. i don't necessarily fault the author. i'm not saying that this book is bad for adults. 'm not saying that for older people -- go read what you want. you have the freedom to do that. yet it's running freely in the schools, not only running eely in the school, bought and paid for by taxpayer dollars to feed from teacher to student.
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jeffrey: leander school board member aaron johnson believes the turmoil over books stems from changes in the culture, the publishing world, and public education, but that some material goes too far for many, including his family. >> i think they're a domain that parents should primarily address at home with theirhildren. and because of the sensitivity and because of differing values in different homes in our community, it's difficult to do this well across an entire spectrum of public education in the classroom. jeffrey: johnson worked with two other board members to recommend updates to the district's policy for adding and removing books to curriculum last fall. while acknowledging that books in the classroom book clubs aren't required, he says the overall list shows what he calls a "leftward bias." >> when we approach those themes with similarly situated
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materials or materials with similar points of view, we're not really getting much balance. we're shifting, i think,we are creating bias in materials that should be neutral. jeffrey: the argument is that there is no neutral, that what you call the pre-ideological days had its own ideology that left out these voices. >> i don't know that i subscribe to that. if we're talking about stories from, you know, new and different voices, that's great. i'm okay with that. but the question i will ask is, are they going to fundamentally challenge what i'm trying to do from a moral perspective at home? and if they do, then we're violating trust with our community. jeffrey: to johnson, this is about choosing, not banning books. austin public libraries director roosevelt weeks sees something else. >> you start saying that you can't read this book, i don't want this book in the library, in essence, that book is being banned. and that's what's happening. they ask them to pull these books from the shelves, and
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that's what's happening. that's real. there are politicians that's threatened to pull funding if i put a book on a shelf. that's banning. jeffrey: weeks is a member of the texas library association, which represents public and school librarians. the group recently unveiled a campaign called "texans for the right to read" in the face of what it sees as attacks that could potentially hold librarians themselves legally liable for supplying books others deem inappropate. >> libraries, i believe, are one of the last bastions of democracy, and that's being attacked. you trying to tell me what i shouldn't read or what i should read, that's being attacked. and when i can't critically think for myself, then that's where we are, and that's what causing a lot of the issues in this country. >> there is a war being waged on youth in texas right now and education is the battlefront. jeffrey: such sentiments were heard from speaker after speaker at a recent rally at the texas capitol put on by "voters of
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tomorrow," a youth activist group. >> your libraries, librarians, teachers, and school boas are being attacked in this current culture war. jeffrey: one of them, carolyn foote, a retired school librarian and co-founder of "freadom fighters," misspelled to emphasize "read." she sees a chilling effect underway, with political attacks from the right causing school districts to take books off shelves to avoid potential problems, with librarians caught in the middle, some even leaving the profession. >> they are having pressure from the parents, from within their administration sometimes to do things they don't think meet their professional ethics. and then they're getting pressure from students to keep materials on the shelf or to do something about it, and to support their stories. and so they're really in this really pressure-cooker situation that's very difficult.
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believes-- there's more to come, -- jeffrey: one thing everyone we spoke with believes -- there's more to come, as this story about stories and books themselves continues to play out in homes, schools, and the public arena. for the pbs newshour, i'm jeffrey brown in austin, texas. judy: thank you, jeff. on the newshour online, climate watchers are sounding the alarm about disappearing coastline in louisiana, brought on by rising sea levels and exacerbated by intensifying hurricanes. you can read about how the changing conditions could force thousands of residents from their homes. that's at p-b-s dot -- that's 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. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.] >> major funding has been provided by -- >> for 25 years, consumer cellular's goal has been to help
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>>'s program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> this is pbs newshour west. ♪
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