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tv   Alex Witt Reports  MSNBC  April 16, 2022 11:00am-12:00pm PDT

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honor humanitarian corridors mediated by turkey's president. meanwhile, the religious holidays have not stopped russia from launching new attacks on several cities in the last 24 hours. ukraine's government released this video, saying it shows moments after the attack in the city of kharkiv. it happened earlier today. ukrainian officials say their military intercepted four russian cruise missiles overnight in lviv and new attacks were reported in kherson and kyiv. >> we have made clear in the fighting now in kyiv and in kyiv, they will not be successful, and as we have defeated them around kyiv, they will be more vindictive and attacking these ways that you have seen tonight in kyiv, but again, the big battle right now is happening and continues to happen in the east. russians are trying to get some victories to present to their people. >> and new video from mariupol shows the result of unrelenting fighting there. russian military officials say they have taken control of a major steel and ironworks plant.
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footage taken near the plant shows damage as well as numerous dead bodies in the streets nearby. also new today, u.s. officials telling nbc news russia could start moving large numbers of troops back into ukraine as early as this weekend while ukraine's military is rapidly burning through its supply of artillery and artillery rounds. and new on poland's border, a huge pile-up of russian and belarusian trucks. they're trying to get out of poland before a ban on their vehicles takes effect. that happens today. some drivers report waiting in line for days now. let's bring in nbc's ali arouzi joining us from kyiv. ali, what more are you hearing about all this from your vantage point? >> reporter: hi, alex. well, you know, since the ukrainians sunk that flagship "moskva," a symbol of russian military might, the ukrainians said that the russians will almost certainly seek retribution, and they did. they hit a missile factory.
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that missile factory made those neptune missiles which hit that warship and yesterday they hit kharkiv pretty badly. they killed at least seven people in kharkiv, including a 7-month-old baby. they hit kharkiv again today with at least two dead, and you know, since that attack, alex, the air raid sirens have been going off a lot more frequently all across the country, all the way here in lviv. they hadn't been going off that often in lviv but since that battle ship was sunk, they were going off a lot more often and as you mentioned, the ukrainian authorities are saying they intercepted four cruise missiles shots from a russian su-35 plane that took off from belarus. so that's the latest attack we have had in lviv in a long time but the ukrainians are saying that they intercepted it and so their air defense systems are working well against russian attacks, at least in this area. but to your earlier point in mariupol, i mean, that place is just a disaster right now. i mean, for 52 days, they have
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been pounding that city, but they still haven't been able to take full control of it. the city council in mariupol just said the other day that the russians are trying to cover up war crimes there. they're exhuming bodies, they're not letting people bury their loved ones in their front yard because they can't even get to cemeteries there. let's take a listen to what president zelenskyy had to say about the situation in mariupol. >> 95% of all the buildings, 95% destroyed in mariupol. one of the biggest cities, not only in ukraine, in europe. 500,000 people. 500,000 people. how much people were killed there? nobody knows. what they say, that is lying. they lie. nobody knows. how much people are still there? nobody knows. nobody knows.
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>> reporter: and alex, the governor of mariupol -- the governor of mariupol the other day said this was once a thriving port city, and now it's been wiped off the face of the earth. so, it's a real disaster there, but there are about 1,500 ukrainian fighters there. they're determined to keep the russians out. the russians keep saying that they're going to take that place, and look, they are pounding it pretty heavily, but again and again in this war, the ukrainians have defied the odds, so it would be early to write them off at this stage. >> let me ask you about mariupol. i mean, if it is as destroyed as president zelenskyy said, 95% of the buildings absolutely flattened and wiped out, what does russia have to gain? is it just a strategic point, you know, along the water? is it something that they just don't want to give up for future use, something about crimea? why do they want mariupol so badly? >> reporter: well, i think that there are two main reasons at this point in this war. the first and most obvious one
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is it would create a land corridor from the russian mainland to the crimea. it would make them very, very powerful in terms of moving troops, taking the whole donbas region, getting artillery and infantry into that area. and also, it's a city that's been the most bombed, the most destroyed by the russians in this war, so it looks like the biggest place in ukraine that they could possibly take, and that would be very easy for putin to sell to his domestic audience as a big victory here in ukraine. >> got you. okay. ali arouzi, many thanks as always, my friend. and coming up for all of you, retired admiral james stavridis is going to join me and give us his take about the potential use of nuclear weapons in ukraine. meantime, at this hour, millions of americans are hitting the road for the holiday weekend in the midst of a covid uptick. and health officials want to make sure travelers understand covid is still a threat. nbc's guad venegas has more from
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los angeles. hey. >> millions of americans are hitting the road or the skies today for the holiday weekend. it's a welcome relief after several years people had to be stuck at home during the pandemic, but health officials say we need to be on the lookout for covid making a comeback. a lot of vacationers telling us they are taking precautions for covid, but this can no longer stop them from traveling. this morning, americans are back on the move with millions getting ready for the easter and passover holiday weekend. >> i'm very excited. >> reporter: and despite record high gas prices, many holiday makers are still hitting the road. a year ago, americans were paying an average of $2.86 per gallon. now the average, $4.07. but nothing seems to be stopping families from getting away. >> this is our first family vacation in, like, three years. >> reporter: aaa, seeing a more than 200% increase in bookings
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for flights, hotels, and car rentals across spring break hot spots. >> plane was full. lines around the block for food. >> reporter: airports back to pre-pandemic crowds with the tsa screening an average of 2.1 million passengers every day this week. for travelers getting on planes, the mask mandate has been extended. now, that's a clear reminder that covid is still spreading, and new variants are still emerging. the highly transmission ba.2 strain now fueling a 16% increase in cases across the u.s. >> i've seen maybe five patients who have said that they think they just have a cold and they got tested and came back positive. >> reporter: but with hospitalizations hitting an all-time pandemic low, experts say this holiday won't look anything like omicron's new year surge. >> if you are vaccinated and you are boostered and you have a very low risk that there's going to be a problem, then you should just go about and enjoy the
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holiday season. >> reporter: a welcome message for americans looking to enjoy the holiday weekend. now, this week, some good news with the fda authorizing a new covid breathalyzer able to detect the virus in just minutes. this is a machine that we could soon be seeing at offices, mobile testing sites, and hospitals. >> okay. guad, that would be interesting. thank you very much. let's go now to florida where outrage is growing over a restrictive new abortion law. that bill signed by governor ron desantis, banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. it is set to take effect july 1st. let's go to nbc's stephanie stanton joining us from tampa. stephanie, welcome to you. what are you hearing on the ground today about it? >> reporter: yeah, good afternoon to you again, alex. well, i can tell you that the signing of this new law has leaders here at the local area planned parenthood very concerned, as you might imagine. that new law going into effect in july, as you said, bans abortions after 15 weeks, even
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in the case of rape or incest. the only time abortions will be allowed here in the state of florida is when the health of the mother, the life of the mother, i should say, is at risk and also in the case of some fatal fetal abnormalities. currently, you can get an abortion at 24 weeks here in the state of florida. florida is one of 26 states that have severely limited abortions rights or out and out banned them. pro-choice advocates say this new law here in the state of florida also violates the right of privacy for women when it comes to making their own healthcare decisions, and officials here at planned parenthood also tell me that women of color will be disproportionately impacted. >> now we have a world where the people who are least financially resourced are going to be forced to carry a pregnancy and give birth against their will. and again, in this country, that's so often hits the communities of color harder than
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any other community. and frankly, we know in america, black women die in pregnancy and childbirth at three to four times the rate of white women, which makes this law particularly dangerous. for black women. and we should all be appalled by that. >> reporter: now, this new law severely restricts abortion in florida, and 26 other states, among those states, we know oklahoma, texas, kentucky, and mississippi, and alex, as you know, the mississippi case, which is similar to the florida law, is going before the supreme court in june. mississippi also asking the supreme court to essentially put the hands of abortion into the states themselves. if, in fact, that happens, that would essentially nullify roe vs. wade on a federal level, kicking it back to the states, and that is what has everyone
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here at planned parenthood very concerned, because they say essentially that would make many states sort of trigger these 26 states which are primarily republican, by the way, it will trigger severe restrictions in these states and possibly overturning roe vs. wade in one half of the country. that was some stunning news that i learned, and they say that they fully expect that to happen, so they are gearing up for that. >> yeah. stunning is a good word. i'm afraid it is an understatement, my friend. thank you so much, stephanie stanton in tampa. former new york city mayor bill de blasio joins me to talk about the subway shooting and some comments made by mayor eric adams. ments made by mayor eric adams. the only thing between you and a life-changing accident. but are these lines enough? a subaru with eyesight... (kid vo) hey dad! (vo) ...watches the lines for any danger... and can automatically stop itself. (mom) is everyone ok?
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started that wildfire. more than 150 palestinians were hurt in jerusalem after clashes broke out here at a holy site. israeli forces entered a mosque as thousands of people gathered for ramadan prayers. it is just the latest incident in a recent upsurge in violence between those two groups. and five people who went to police with crucial information about the brooklyn subway shooter, they're now going to split the $50,000 reward. frank james, of course, arrested in manhattan's east village on friday after about a 29-hour manhunt. he's accused of opening fire on a subway train during tuesday morning's rush, wounding ten people. and joining me now to talk about that and a whole lot more, former new york city mayor bill de blasio. so glad to see you, my friend. nice to have you in the studio. question. when this went through your mind, you heard the news, what did you think? >> alex, we have been there before. i mean, the city's been through some really tough times. we've been through terror attacks. obviously, 9/11, but you know,
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other horrible moments along the way. we had a pipe bomb in the times square subway station, the pressure cooker bomb on chelsea neighborhood, you know, back in 2017. new yorkers have an amazing ability to not be intimidated or scared in situations like this, even as this was happening at that subway station in brooklyn, people were helping each other. >> that was amazing. >> and that's the spirit of this place. that's part of why i love my city so much. people who could have been running, you know, we talk about the first responders and we always should, people who choose to run toward danger, god bless them. >> amazing, right. >> but let's also talk about those passengers who could have said, hey, i'm out of here, but they stayed back to help the wounded. >> and the transit workers. those guys, they say, get on this train, cross the platform, we're going to get you out of here. i mean, it's -- i always wonder about what that is about new york city and i think it may be because we all have to live so close together. >> you know, when you're in a place where everyone comes from
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all over the world, so, yeah, we, of course, see differences, but we're used to being together. i often say, a new york city subway car is like the united nations. i mean, if you stand in the subway car in rush hour, you have every faith, every nationality, all together, packed in like sardines and people figure it out. so that same spirit serves us well in times of crisis because we know we have to work it out together. we know we have to support each other, and of course, after 9/11, a heroic moment for the city. you know, we -- every day, we live that one way or another. so, when this happened, it was painful, you know? the minute you heard it, of course people were worried. they were scared. man on the loose, you know, with a gun. but the amazing thing was how folks wouldn't let it throw them off and just went right back about their business because one great thing also about this place is people do not scare easily. >> yeah, they don't. no. and you also have to give huge kudos to the new york state, the new york local police, the
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federal authorities that all got together. it was less than 30 hours before he got caught, which is a huge sigh of relief for people, but going forward, and i'm going to tell you, i mean, tell folks that we were talking about this during the commercial break, i have loved ones who live in the city and i think, okay, maybe you shouldn't take a subway. there's been incidents of crime. we're going to talk about the stats on this. but how does new york leadership now say, we don't want you to think about, you know, what if, as you walk down and descend into the subway to take a train? >> well, we're human beings so we see something like this and we get worried. and there have been some really painful incidents lately, so it's natural for it to give people pause. but you know, i'll tell you something about this whole moment we're going through, and it really refers to the spiritual time of year we're in. this, too, shall pass. this all. not this particular incident, but the atmosphere we've been living through, the uptick in violence, not only in new york city, all over the country, every major city.
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it's all because of one core thing, covid. the total dislocation of life, and you know, we lived it, all of us, but we haven't taken stock of it. for a period of time, unlike world wars, unlike the great depression, anything we've ever seen, everything was shut down. schools were shut down. there was no work for a lot of people. there were no houses of worship even. the places you go for solace. there was no entertainment. there was no sports. all of the things that allow us kind of some balance and some calm. >> and let off steam. >> yes, and to let off steam. and so that led to more and more frustration, people were pent up, they were inside in a way they had never been. they were experiencing pain and in many cases death in their own families and friends. that led to a kind of emotional energy, and in some cases, particularly with younger folks, it turned too often to violence, and then it turned to people saying, okay, i better go protect myself, i better get a weapon, and that led to more
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violence. this is so abhorrent, and i know it's not forever. it's for a period of time. because we know right before the pandemic, here's your proof point, before the pandemic, crime in new york city was down to a point that you could only compare to the 1950s. that's how low it was. >> very true. you're right. >> and so, we know we can do it. we've been through a horrible dislocation. we got to put that genie back in the bottle and the real answer is just every little thing that gets us back to normal. i would say to employers, bring your folks back to the office, to the workplace. help us get back to normal. i would say to folks, yeah, we actually all should go out there, just go about our lives, because the more law-abiding people out and about, the more it inhibits crime. this is what the folks at the nypd i worked with as mayor would always say. the best thing that's going to happen to bring us back to safety is just more and more everyday law-abiding people being out there all over our city. >> but to the point of the increase in crime, specifically
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the latest numbers from the nypd, 48%, i believe, is the increase in the first three months of this year. pardon me, 44%. so, having said that, the nypd is offering a couple of explanations for why that might be. they're saying, repeat offenders are responsible for the uptick in crime, and they're also concerned about what they perceive as being lenient bail laws. what are your thoughts on both those issues? >> look, the bail law, thank god, there's been some improvement in just the last days in our state legislature in albany. what was missing all along was judicial discretion, and now another step has been taken to putting that in place. that's a good thing. but that's one piece of the puzzle. the absence of a functioning court system. this, to me, has really been a scandal, that in covid, when finally things started to come back, workplaces did come back, you know, sports came back, finally, over time. our court system didn't. which meant a lot of people who
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had committed crimes weren't suffering any consequences. that still hasn't been fixed. i think creating an atmosphere of consequence is absolutely necessary. on top of that, bringing back the rest of society. because you can't imagine getting back where we were if you don't recreate the good we had, right? at one point, life in this city, pre-pandemic, was going pretty well, and that was part of how we got crime down. we've got to follow that important path, you know, get things back to normal. so, it's several different factors. the other thing is to recognize the reason we got safe before the pandemic was a lot the participation of the people. >> see something, say something. >> yeah. if you see something, say something, and even deeper, what we call neighborhood policing, because when you get police and community in dialogue, when you get them on the same side, when you have the cop on the beat say good morning to folks and they say good morning to the cop and they get to know each other, that works -- we saw a real
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disruption in police-community relations in 2020, obviously after george floyd, very, very painful time. we need to rebond that consciously. so, getting, you know, the best public safety professionals i ever worked with, starting with bill bratton, would always say, let's recognize how much the police can do, but let's also recognize the police can't do it alone. get the people into it and create that relationship again. >> i want to pick up on that, because current mayor eric adams had something to say about this. relative to the spate of shootings that have happened in brooklyn, the bronx, and he makes the point that oftentimes, the victims are people of color, black, typically. and then very oftentimes as well, you're going to have people of color also pulling the trigger. and he says, look, folks, black lives matter. if you're going to walk the walk, you got to talk the talk. so let's now listen to what he had to say about all that and how he wants them getting involved. >> if black lives matter, then the thousands of people i saw on
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the street when floyd was murdered should be on the street right now, stating that the lives of these black children that are dying every night matters. it can't be hip kits. hypocrites. >> he wants black lives matter, get out there and protest this as well. successfully to the point you made did in the wake of george floyd shooting. >> i think twha what we need to see is police and community arm in arm out there protecting each other. and this really is possible because we saw it. again, we know before the pandemic, crime was at all-time lows and we know there was a sense of solidarity between police and community. once upon a time, when we were having a really tough time in this city, some community activists took an approach, folks of national action network, for example, called it occupy the corners. they would be out there patrolling. doing something to augment, in their own way, what police do. another incredibly powerful
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approach, the violence interrupters. the cure violence movement where neighborhood folks go and address problems before they occur. they know there's a beef happening, they know there's a gang problem, they'll intervene. i'm talking about civilians, unarmed, who have relationships and legitimacy at the community level. we funded, in new york city, these grassroots organizations, and in the areas where they were active, we saw shootings go way down, because to some extent, again, police can take you so far. to some extent, the very best solutions to violence are community-based solutions, but as a city, we've started down this path. as a country, we haven't. joe biden, to his credit, actually was trying to move this as part of build back better and i think it's an idea whose time has come, because violence, you know, the very best police leaders and police reformers i've known will all say to you, in the end, it's a series of
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communities. you can't solve the problem just with externalities. yes, sometimes, you do need to send in more cops. sometimes you need to do a very specific action to stop a trend that's going on or a pattern of crime. but really, if you want to stop it more intrinsically, you need community-based solutions, and amazingly, alex, there are community leaders and community organizations that will stand in front of someone who's threatening another person with violence and literally be the shield. and they'll stop that from happening. >> we're going to leave it on that note because that is impressive and that there are new yorkers who will do that. you're very right. bill de blasio, so good to see you. it looks like you were a little more rested than you were december 31st. >> there's something to be said for it, alex. >> i wouldn't know quite yet. need a little more time. good to see you. the urban league's report on the state of black america, mark, is going to join me next to talk about the current state of social justice. current state of social justice. and doug. ♪ harp plays ♪
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black lives matter. black lives matter. >> all too familiar rallying cries in the streets of grand rapids, michigan, and more protests are expected in the next couple hours over the fatal police shooting of patrick lyoya. video shows an unnamed officer approaching lyoya. what you are about to see next is disturbing. after a brief foot chase and struggle over the officer's taser, a video shot by a bystander shows that officer shooting lyoya in the head. >> drop the taser! >> once again, we go to nbc's liz mclaughlin in grand rapids, michigan, following this story for us. do you have any bullet points on
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the latest in terms of the investigation into his death? >> reporter: michigan state police currently interviewing witnesses, reviewing evidence, including those now infamous videos to determine if criminal charges should be brought against this officer. as of now, the officer's on paid leave and will be unidentified until or if those criminal charges are brought forward. now, we're outside of the grand rapids police headquarters and they're conducting their own internal investigation. the chief says that he is willing to review and change policies if need be. the family is pushing for the prosecution of this officer. ben crump is working with the family, well known civil rights attorney, and this family came here from -- they're congolese refugees to they came to america for a safer life and now these parents are mourning the loss of
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their 26-year-old son. let's hear what the mother had to say. >> translator: i see my heartbroken, broken, wounded, deeply for what has happened to my son. >> reporter: patrick lyoya's name has echoed through these streets in the last few days, starting with when those videos came out. about 100 protesters each night coming out to march and stopping in front of this grand rapids police headquarters, even more protesters expected tonight. now, these have been peaceful protests so far. no arrests, no safety issues according to the chief, and the city manager says they hope that trend continues. the police say that they are not putting officers on the ground, they're trying to avoid face-offs between officers and those protesters to keep them from escalating tensions here. alex? >> okay. liz mclaughlin, thank you so
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much from grand rapids, michigan. joining me now, mark, president and ceo of the national urban league. i'm awful glad to have you here. >> hey, alex, thank you. >> i want to get into and ask, really, what went through your mind when you first saw that video of the police officer shooting patrick lyoya? >> i said, not again. not again. here we have -- how does a traffic stop turn into the death of a man? how does this continue to happen in america where an innocent black man, stopped for a misdemeanor traffic violation, ends up going home dead? this video certainly raises significant questions around police actions in grand rapids, but this problem is unabated. as you know, we worked hard last
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year to pass through the congress the george floyd justice in policing bill. we will not give up on that. because congress has yet -- the house did, but the senate did not, yet to take a strong stand in favor of police accountability. and i think the senate has shirked its moral responsibility to do so because of the filibuster, but this man did not need to die. this is just an outrage once again. >> yeah. and there's going to be a lot of protests coming out there, many, many people who are sharing your sentiments here. let me ask you, overall, with the national urban league having released its annual state of black america, that report this week, before we get to the big picture, i want to just talk about social justice because this is where there is the least equality existing between blacks and whites right now. we saw this racial justice movement, to your point. it certainly took hold after george floyd's death in 2020. but where, marc, are we today?
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how do you measure the current state of social justice in this country? >> well, there's a friction and a battle. i can assure people that there is a strong coalition of people, activists, civil rights leaders, elected officials, people in communities across the nation, fighting hard on behalf of social, economic, and racial justice. but we are faced with a white nationalist and a white supremacist movement, which is pushing back hard against progress, and one area where it is clear and most manifested is when it comes to democracy and voting. we've seen an actual assault on the ballot box and an assault on democracy, which accelerated after january 6th. hundreds of laws to make it more difficult for people to vote. sweeping racially and partisan
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gerrymandering taking place, election subversion fueled by the big lie. intimidation of voting officials in efforts to change the law to put partisans in charge of the voting process so they could overturn an election. this is a movement of significant strength, and we have to counteract it. we have to push back on it. but the public needs to understand these are not random activities. there's a connection between what is occurring in georgia and texas and north carolina. there is a connection to the refusal of senate republicans and to senate democrats to set aside the filibuster so we can pass legislation that would protect the right to vote and stand up for american democracy. >> which is also, in my mind, as i think about this and the way you're phrasing it, it's also
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creating a connection between what the big picture found in the state of black america report. because when you factor in economics, health, education, social justice, and civic engagement, the equality index of black americans for 2022, it is 73.9%, and then you assume 100% is full equity with whites. but that number there, that 73.9%, it is a 0.2% improvement from 2020. what is it about this that has created -- i mean, virtually stagnant numbers here in regards to racial disparities over the last couple years? >> alex, this differential has changed very little in 15 years since we really began to capture these numbers. >> okay. >> and it is as though we're in suspended animation. but keep this in mind. i've used the analogy, i'll use it again, and it's the caboose on the train analogy. black americans are like a caboose on a train. so, certainly, the black
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unemployment rate has come down, but it is still twice as high as the white unemployment rate. so, the differential remains the same, and that is why we talk about structural or systemic racism in america, because closing those gaps is really the necessary work that we have to do in the nation. if we're going to achieve some measure of parity. >> so, overall, the biden administration's efforts to close the racial equality gap, marc, are you satisfied with it? do you think it could be doing more, but you have to keep in mind there is gop opposition in congress to much of it. >> they've been in office 18 months, and i think it's fair to say that no administration has lifted operational equity in the way that joe biden has. both from a symbolic point of view and a substantive point of view.
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the frustration is that key legislative provisions, whether it's build back better, which would have put significant new investments in closing the housing gap, or the george floyd justice in policing bill, or, if you will, the freedom to vote act and the john lewis voting rights advancement act have been thwarted in the united states senate. and some say the president could have or should have fought harder, and of course, that's fair criticism when something doesn't get done. but i think the president's intentionality, his desire, if you compare his first 18 months with that of previous presidents, in terms of what he's focused on, our frustration is that there's not enough progress. our frustration is that these problems are so deep that there's just a passion and an enthusiasm and a need for accelerated progress, so i think it is always fair to criticize the commander in chief and the
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chief executive. but let's put some of the responsibility at the feet of senate republicans. let's put the responsibility at the feet of that -- those two senate democrats who have just, on major pieces of legislation, allowed the senate filibuster, which blocked anti-lynching legislation for a hundred years, which blocked civil rights legislation for two decades, to stand once again in the way of progress that we need as a nation. >> i always appreciate you and the big picture conversation. >> thank you. >> marc morial, thank you, my friend. >> appreciate it. meantime, putin and his nuclear weapons. next, how the u.s. will know if russia's nukes are being mobilized. will know if russia's nukes are bngei mobilized. riders! let your queries be known. yeah, hi. instead of letting passengers wrap their arms around us, could we put little handles on our jackets? -denied. -can you imagine? i want a new nickname. can you guys start calling me snake? no, bryan. -denied. -how about we all get quotes
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there's a lot of cushy desk jobs out there, but this is my happy place. there are millions of ways to make the most of your land. learn more at deere.com new reaction to comments on the potential use of nuclear weapons in ukraine from cia director bill burns. he said although he has seen no practical evidence that a nuclear attack was imminent, the u.s. cannot take lightly the threat posed by the potential use of nukes. a former obama administration defense official says the u.s. will know if nukes are being mobilized. >> there are certain moves that any military that has nuclear weapons would do in terms of pulling that nuclear weapon out of storage, whether it's going to be dropped by a plane or shot from an artillery tube, so you can bet right now, bill burns has the satellites and other
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ways in which we collect intelligence just really looking down hard on those sites to see if we can see some movement. >> joining me now, retired admiral james stavridis, former nato supreme allied commander and msnbc chief international security and diplomacy analyst and contributor. admiral, always a pleasure, sir. so, what do you read into these comments from the director of the cia? someone we expect chooses his words very carefully. >> he does, and let's also recall that he is one of the nation's leading experts on russia, specifically, a former u.s. ambassador to russia, worked with him in that capacity as well. nobody knows the russians better. he speaks almost perfect russian himself, and now he's the director of the cia with full and unfettered access to absolutely every nook and cranny in u.s. intelligence, so yes, we ought to take it extremely seriously when he gives us that kind of warning. on the other hand, alex, before we rush off on easter weekend,
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certain that the nuclear apocalypse is coming, i think the chances of that are extremely low. starting with the fact that vladimir putin is not someone who hates his life. he is someone who relishes his role. he loves his country, i'll give him that, and i don't see him reaching for that nuclear apocalypse. i think what director burns is signaling to us is, could putin use a tactical nuclear weapon in ukraine, perhaps on the battlefield for a kind of shock event or for military advantage? i think that's what the worry is. and therefore, director burns is doing the right thing, kind of sounding that alarm. >> well, you know that putin's also threatened to move nukes into baltic regions on this country, if finland and sweden are allowed to join nato. so if european countries are truly interested right now in any kind of diplomatic solution to this war, why would they be discussing nato expansion right now, or is it that just finland and sweden, they're like, we
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don't trust what putin is going to do, because we see what he has done in ukraine? >> it's the latter. your analysis is spot on as usual, alex. put yourself in the shoes of the finns and the swedes. they've got a long, bad history with russia. and by the way, go back to 1939, google winter war, finland, 1939. soviet tanks under stalin rolled into finland, much the same premise as we see going into ukraine, they carved out about 10% of finland's territory. they forced finland into neutrality. that's why finland's a neutral country. now, finland and sweden, who are neutrals, watch what's happening to ukraine, and they say, hm, that nato membership card looks pretty good to me. and i'll close here, alex, by saying, i've commanded finnish troops and swedish troops in
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combat. they were part of the in addition alongside nato troops to afghanistan. these are highly professional militaries. they can muster hundreds of thousands of combat trained troops. their defense budget combined, the two nations, is about a fourth the size of the russian defense budget, so i would gladly welcome them to nato. i think it's a good signal to send to putin. >> okay. one more question about that, which the u.s. is sending right now, which is 800 million bucks in military aid to ukraine. it's a long list of weapons. there's the drones, defense systems, and the like. but what prompted the diplomatic note from russia that warned the u.s., stop supplying ukraine? is it because of the addition of the offensive weapons, and does that really change things for ukraine by getting these? >> the shopping list that we have fulfilled here for president zelenskyy is very, very much matched to the coming
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battle on the plains of ukraine. we've seen russia having failed in plan a to do a blitzkrieg across the country, they've fallen back to plan b, which is consolidate the forces, improve their thus far terrible logistics, and use that enhanced combat power to go at the heart of the ukrainian army in central ukraine. the weapons systems we are giving them are lethal, but they are not the kind of systems that would permit an invasion of russia. this is the right set of weapons to put in the hands of the right set of fighters, the ukrainians. i think they will be able to blunt a russian offensive. that's the point here. >> i'm loving the reassurance that you're giving us and the viewers as well, particularly on this holiday weekend. he may be the democrats' only hope. next, why a pollster says only biden can beat trump in 2024. biden can beat trump in 2024
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in a surprising reversal, the biden administration announced it is restarting the selling of leases to drill for oil and gas on federal lands. that word came on late friday. joining me now, geoff bennett, anchor of nbc news weekend and our really good friend. here we go, geoff. what's behind this move, and why the -- i'm just going to call it a late friday dump on a holiday weekend. >> because it is unpopular among the president's base, alex. that's why you got this late friday announcement. but president biden ran for office, calling for an end to drilling on federal lands, but this announcement reflects the degree to which the white house realizes they have to do something or i would say, more to the point, be seen doing something to try to bring down the cost of gas by ramping up u.s. energy production. so, this announcement has something for everyone to hate in it. environmentalists, of course, say this would be a disaster for the planet. they say that president biden,
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this is just a huge handout to big oil. the oil companies don't like the fact that there is a limited number of acres that is now available to them, and they have to actually pay more to drill. but in many ways, this is a symbolic move for a couple of reasons. because i covered this a lot during the trump era, when president trump opened up federal lands to drilling. most domestic energy production happens on private owned lands and state-owned lands, so i've talked to industry experts who say that this really won't move the needle much, and there's also the issue of timing. it takes anywhere between six months to a year for a new rig to produce enough energy where you would actually see the prices coming down at the pump. but look, it's april 16th. six months from now is october 16th. that's a couple of weeks right before the midterm elections. so i think that really speaks to what the administration is trying to do here. >> how about this. the candid interview from the president's campaign pollster. he essentially said, joe biden
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is the only one who could beat donald trump in 2024. first up, geoff, what is the strategic reason for this big interview? and then why is he declaring biden as being the only one who can beat trump? what's behind all this? >> i would suspect that they are trying to get out in front of the number of national polls that have shown president biden with declining numbers. there was a gallup poll out this past week that showed him down with young voters, gen x, millennials and gen z, down 20 points since the day that he took office. so, i think the white house, the administration clearly wanted to have somebody from the biden camp making the point that elections are really a matter of contrast, so it's not just president biden's standing with the electorate in a vacuum. it's who he would be up against, and it looks as if donald trump is going to run again and you have this pollster making the point that this has been proving once in 2020, that the only
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democrat known to us right now to be interested in running, that joe biden is the only one who was able to dethrone donald trump. >> yeah. can you answer in about 15 seconds why the freakout inside the beltway over the prospect of elon musk buying twitter, whether, you know, they accept it or would be a hostile takeover or whatever it is? why the freakout? i have one idea, but what's yours? >> it's because he is a successful yet erratic entrepreneur and the idea of a billionaire controlling the thing that we journalists use the most really set a lot of people on edge, and so elon musk has a lot of ideas for how to change twitter. some of his ideas, i think, a lot of folks say are good, having an edit button, having an open source algorithm, but people just don't think that he is the guy to do it. >> okay. well, you're the guy to come and chat with me any time you want to, my friend. thank you, geoff. that's going to do it for me on "alex witt reports." i'll see you tomorrow at noon eastern. my friend, yasmin vossoughian, continues our coverage. my frien, continues our coverage and we gotta do it fast.
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♪♪ welcome, everybody, i'm yasmin vossoughian. we have a lot to cover this afternoon. new attacks on ukraine, the russians taking aim once again at kyiv in a show of power for vladimir putin after suffering a humiliating loss at sea. we are following reaction to newly revealed texts from two prominent republicans regarding january 6th. and the former president's big lie. new protests

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