PBS NewsHour full episode, Dec. 23, 2022

PBS NewsHour full episode, Dec. 23, 2022

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff. On the "NewsHour" tonight: the final report. The January 6 Committee urges Congress to consider barring former President Trump from again holding office because of his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): It's not forever that we just get to benefit from our democracy because of all who came before us. We need to act, so that it is protected for those who come after us. JUDY WOODRUFF: Then: view from the border. Frigid temperatures create dangerous conditions for migrants gathering near El Paso, while a key immigration policy remains in legal limbo. And it's Friday.

David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart consider whether Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's visit to Washington could boost American support for the fight against Russia. All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour." (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: It is a storm of epic proportions, and one of the most treacherous holiday travel seasons that the United States has seen in decades. So far, there have been seven weather-related deaths. More than 5,000 flights were also canceled across the U.S. today.

Nicole Ellis has our report. NICOLE ELLIS: As winter weather slams much of the United States, the safety of homeless people, an already vulnerable group, is a growing concern. TAYLOR BAILEY, Portland Resident: When I was biking home yesterday, saw somebody just on like a doorstep in just sweatpants. And I was thinking, like, I hope they get inside, because this is -- this is the kind of weather that you would die in. It's absolutely freezing.

NICOLE ELLIS: In much of the Pacific Northwest, temperatures have plunged to zero or below. That coupled with blistering winds is a life-threatening scenario. Some in Portland, Oregon, are sleeping outside. STEVEN VENUS, Portland Resident: I was out in the cold and freezing my toes off. NICOLE ELLIS: Meanwhile, down in Southeast Texas, authorities are doing what they can to help, passing out blankets and filling cups with hot liquid. It's just one of many problems spiraling from an intensifying storm that the National Weather Service is now classifying as a bomb cyclone.

That's due to the rapid drop in pressure over the last day. Winter weather advisories are affecting most of the Lower 48 states and more than 200 million people. Power outages are piling up, creating a precarious situation as temperatures dip. More than 1.4 million homes and businesses across the country were in the dark this morning.

PAULA POITRAS, Andover, Massachusetts, Resident: We're still without power. Went out about 5:00 this morning. I got up early, around 4:30. I'm said, I'm making my coffee. I think we're going to lose power. NICOLE ELLIS: Meanwhile, thousands are still trying to make it to their final destinations before the fast-approaching holiday weekend.

Drivers are also being warned to take heed. This social media video shows extreme winds and icy roads in Central Iowa, where windchill temperatures are plunging as low as negative-40. In the Northeast, coastal flooding consumed streets in parts of New York and Maine.

MAN: They're not testing it. These big guys, they just turned around. They're going the other way. NICOLE ELLIS: Rescuers in New York went looking for stranded passengers whose cars were submerged. Governor Kathy Hochul today calling the storm an epic hazard. GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): It is throwing everything at us but the kitchen sink.

We have had ice, flooding, snow, freezing temperatures, and everything that Mother Nature could wallop at us this weekend. NICOLE ELLIS: A country blanketed in a historic number of winter weather advisories is leaving many Americans with canceled holiday plans and cold homes. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Nicole Ellis. JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the $1.7 trillion federal spending bill, sending it to President Biden to sign into law. It passed mostly along party lines ahead of the midnight government shutdown deadline, with just nine Republicans joining the Democrats.

The massive bill will fund federal agencies through next September and also includes aid to Ukraine and disaster relief. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is back home in Kyiv now. His trip to Washington for a joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday helped secure a new $1.8 billion military aid package for his country. Zelenskyy said that he's back at work and optimistic that assistance will help Ukrainian forces. VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, Ukrainian President (through translator): Good morning, all.

As you can hear, phones are working here. I am in my office. We are working toward victory. We will defeat them all. JUDY WOODRUFF: Russian missile strikes overnight hit the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine.

Officials reported at least six civilians died. North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters, the latest show of force amid rising tensions. It comes just days after the U.S. and South Korea's warplanes conducted joint drills. Japan lodged a diplomatic protest and strongly condemned the North's provocation. TOSHIRO INO, Japanese Vice Defense Minister (through translator): North Korea's series of rapidly escalating provocations threatens the peace and security of Japan, the region and the international community and must not be tolerated.

It violates the United Nations' relevant Security Council resolutions. And Japan has launched a strong protest. JUDY WOODRUFF: North Korea has conducted an unprecedented number of missile tests this year. The South has called the latest launches a -- quote -- "grave provocation." Health officials in China are warning that COVID-19 infections will likely peak their next week. That comes as the country's hospitals are already flooded with patients.

One Shanghai hospital estimate that half of that city's 25 million people will be infected by the end of next week. People also lined up to receive anti-epidemic drugs like ibuprofen to treat their symptoms and to lessen the burden on hospitals. Back in this country, the FDA now clearly states that morning-after pills like Plan B do not cause abortions. Anti-abortion advocates have erroneously claimed that they qualify as abortion pills. Now product packaging will include new language explaining that they work before fertilization and don't prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. And stocks closed higher on Wall Street on this day before Christmas Eve.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 176 points to close at 33204. The Nasdaq rose 22 points, and the S&P 500 also added 22. Still to come on the "NewsHour": migrants camp at the U.S. Southern border amid freezing

temperatures; the country of Jordan battles an influx of illegal drugs from neighboring Syria; David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart analyze this week's top stories; and much more. The committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol released its final report late last night. Over the 845 pages, the committee lays the blame squarely with former President Donald Trump, writing -- quote -- "None of the events of January 6 would have happened without him." After an 18-month-long investigation, the members conclude with 11 recommendations to prevent a similar attack, among them, to reform the Electoral Count Act, which Congress approved today, and to consider barring Trump from holding public office again. Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren of California serves on the January 6 Committee, and she joins me now.

Congresswoman Lofgren, welcome back to the "NewsHour." So, 18 months, thousands and thousands of hours' worth of work? Was the committee able to answer all the questions it had about January 6? REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, not every single one. Some witnesses refused to come in, as you know. The president himself refused to come in, along with his chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

But we were able to fill in and really to answer the central question, which was, why did this happen? It happened because of the ex-president. And he engaged in a very wide-ranging plot with multiple threads to overturn the lawful election and stay in power illegally. That, we know. JUDY WOODRUFF: And so what would be the -- what's the main message you want the American people to take away from this? REP.

ZOE LOFGREN: Well, I think we need to listen to what people say. And he said that he would not, he might not respect the election results way before the election. And we now know that he never intended to abide by the results of the election. We -- people need to realize that our democracy is not inviolate.

It's not impossible to overturn. We need to be vigilant. The protection of our democracy is up to us. And it's not a given. It's not forever that we just get to benefit from our democracy because of all who came before us.

We need to act, so that it is protected for those who come after us. JUDY WOODRUFF: And you do place the blame squarely on former President Trump. But, as you know, a number of Republicans are asking, why not focus more on failures in the intelligence community, in the national security community, and on political leaders who could have done something ahead of time to head off of what happened? REP. ZOE LOFGREN: Well, we did have -- there were intelligence failures. And we have covered that in the report. They did not adequately communicate the threat that the president's supporters posed to the peaceful transfer of power.

But that doesn't mean that the president wasn't trying to illegally overturn -- and he came close. He came very close. The vice president at the time refused to go along with the scheme.

But, really, the rioters came within minutes, really, of capturing the vice president and probably doing harm to him. Probably, if the police had not been as tremendously heroic as they were, there would have been a lot more bloodshed. And so that's a serious matter. And it disturbs me when some of my Republican colleagues try and pooh-pooh this whole thing. It was the most serious breach of the Capitol.

I mean, in the Civil War, we didn't have the attack on the Capitol as we had on January 6. It was a very sad and dangerous day for America. JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think, Congresswoman, there's enough evidence here for the Justice Department to pursue criminal charges against former President Trump? REP. ZOE LOFGREN: We do think so.

That's why we referred it to the Department of Justice for possibilities for prosecution. But, having said that, they have to reach their own conclusions. They have to, as prosecutors, make a judgment whether they have evidence sufficient to prove beyond reasonable doubt that these crimes were committed.

We think they do. But they have got to make up their own judgment on that. JUDY WOODRUFF: And if their final judgment is not to pursue criminal charges, does that mean the committee's work in any respect was in vain? REP. ZOE LOFGREN: No, I don't think so.

We have already today made amendments to the Electoral Count Act. It's not everything the House wanted, but it is better than the current state, so it will be much more difficult for someone to try and steal the election in the future through the arcane mechanisms of the Electoral Count Act. We're going to take a look at a number of other legislative opportunities. But I think the other thing is that the American people now, I think, realize that there is a threat to our democracy and are making their judgments politically with that in mind.

You can see that most of the election deniers were not successful at the polls. People know that we are lucky here in this country that we have a democracy. And, ultimately, the power rests in the hands of the American people, as voters, not in the hands of politicians who want to keep their jobs. And that is the biggest victory of all.

I started this -- someone asked me nearly two years ago now, what would be a success? And if the American people realize how important their democracy was, that would be part of that success. And I think we achieved that. JUDY WOODRUFF: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who is a member of the House January 6 Select Committee, thank you very much. REP. ZOE LOFGREN: Thank you very much. Happy holidays.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And to you. Just days before Christmas, the future of the United States pandemic era immigration policy known as Title 42 remains uncertain. That is after the U.S. Supreme Court put a hold on its expiration date this week.

As Geoff Bennett reports, this means that thousands of migrants in communities along the Southern border are caught in limbo and in the cold right now. GEOFF BENNETT: Along the U.S.-Mexico border, dreams for a new life and America suddenly delayed, thousands of migrants hoping to find asylum in the U.S. this week told to wait. VANESSA REVENGA, Migrant (through translator): We're waiting. Here, they say one thing. Then, half-an-hour later, they say something else.

That's the situation. We don't know anything. YAILIN ARGUELLES, Migrant (through translator): It's difficult because it's like having your dreams shattered.

We come here with a goal, to help our family. When I arrived and saw those soldiers, it hurt me a lot, because I felt like I had run out of possibilities. GEOFF BENNETT: This week, migrants trying to cross faced Texas National Guard soldiers setting up barbed wire to create a barrier.

At night, they lit small fires to keep warm as temperatures dropped. Migrants had anticipated the expiration of Title 42 this week after a federal judge called it unlawful. The Trump administration rule allowed officials to quickly turn migrants back to Mexico or their home countries. But, on Monday, the Supreme Court granted a request by a group of Republican attorneys general to keep Title 42 in place. In response, the Biden administration pushed the court to lift the restrictions, but not before the Christmas holiday. Conservative lawmakers like Texas Governor Greg Abbott say Title 42's exploration would overstretch the immigration system and further overwhelm border communities.

In the U.S. border town of El Paso, migrants seeking asylum are met with more hardship. Many that can't find room in shelters are left to sleep on the streets. REV.

DANIEL MORA, Sacred Heart Church: We have been seeing a humanitarian crisis. This is the first time that we see this here in El Paso. We have had migrants before, but this is the first time that this is really a little bit out of hand. GEOFF BENNETT: Local officials say they're opening more shelters to temporarily house migrants ahead of a cold stretch this weekend. For more on the situation at the Southern border, I'm joined by Pulitzer Prize winning Getty Images photojournalist John Moore, who just returned from a trip to El Paso.

John, thanks for being with us. JOHN MOORE, Getty Images: Geoff, it's great to talk with you. GEOFF BENNETT: You have spent years covering the U.S.-Mexico border, reporting the immigration story from all sides.

What role do you think photographers in particular have in covering this immigration story? JOHN MOORE: Well immigration has become such a political issue. But I think, when you see photographs, and you see that everyone coming across the border as a human being -- people aren't leaving their country and making this long journey because it's easy. They're doing it out of desperation. Everyone needs to be seen as a human being who has needs.

And photojournalist play an important role in showing what that looks like. GEOFF BENNETT: Well, let's talk more about what you saw and some of the images that you captured, starting on the Mexico side of the border around Ciudad Juarez. JOHN MOORE: Well, there's thousands of people on the Mexican side there in Juarez waiting to get in. And many of them are presenting themselves to Border Patrol agents on the border. They often sleep overnight next to the border fence.

It's very cold in Juarez and El Paso right now. And they burn trash at night to keep warm. They're bundled up. And just across the border, there's El Paso. People don't think of El Paso as a huge cosmopolitan American city, but when you're on the Mexican side of that border and you see these high-rise buildings in the background, for them, it looks very special.

And that's just beyond their grasp. And so people are very desperate to get through the gate and get in and accepted for political asylum. GEOFF BENNETT: You have said before that the pictures we remember the most are the ones that make us feel. And you have captured so many images of sheer desperation. And one that stands out to me is this photo you captured of a mother, a Venezuelan migrant, who reaches the U.S.-Mexico border with her three children, and she breaks down in tears.

What's the story behind that? JOHN MOORE: Well, I met Yaneisi Martinez and her kids after they were having a very difficult morning. I had arrived very early, in the darkness, and found that the Texas National Guard had deployed. They had set up concertina wire. They had their military vehicles, and it was a real show of force. So when she and many others walked out to the border that day, they saw this bristling American military presence.

The border was essentially closed for her and others in that sector at the time, and she had been traveling for three months, just her and her three children from Venezuela. She'd arrived to Juarez a few days before, and it was just overwhelming for her to see all this barbed wire on the other side of the river. GEOFF BENNETT: The border region has been described as a place where fear and hope collide. And for those migrants who did make it through, who did get to El Paso, you have pictures of a good samaritan handing out food, of a shelter trying to house and clothe people, even a picture of migrants watching the World Cup on a cell phone. Tell me about that. JOHN MOORE: Well, for those who are able to cross through and apply for political asylum in the U.S., their first stop there is really shelters, where they have to gather themselves.

They're allowed to get showers. People wait outside all day long in order to get this limited space. Many people have had to sleep on the streets in El Paso. El Paso has a state of emergency right now in dealing with this migrant surge.

At Christmastime, it's tough to see so many folks, many of whom are very religious, having to deal with the fundamental basic needs of survival on the street. Many people are doing things to ease the trip for these folks. But the fact is, it's cold outside. It's a tough time of year to be suffering. And with Title 42 happening right around the holiday season, it's really challenging. It's tough to see.

GEOFF BENNETT: John Moore, award-winning photojournalist for Getty Images, thanks so much for being with us. JOHN MOORE: Thank you so much. JUDY WOODRUFF: The holiday season is considered one of the hardest times of the year for anyone struggling with mental health. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness found that 64 percent of people living with a mental illness report that their conditions worsen over the holidays.

And now the recent death by suicide of famed dancer, producer and deejay tWitch has sparked another national conversation about the struggles many people face during the holiday season. We're going to explore some of those concerns with Dr. Gregory Scott Brown. He's a psychiatrist and author of the book "The Self-Healing Mind: An Essential Five-Step Practice for Overcoming Anxiety and Depression, and Revitalizing Your Life." Dr. Brown, thank you very much for joining us. I think we have long known that the holidays can be stressful for many, if not all of us, but especially so for people with mental illness. Why is that? DR.

GREGORY SCOTT BROWN, Author, "The Self-Healing Mind": There are a lot of different factors at play. We all know how challenging and stressful the gift giving and even the gift receiving process can be. Unfortunately, some people are enduring financial challenges over the holidays. And, as much as we adore spending time with family and friends, hosting them can lead to an uptick in anxiety levels for some of us.

But another idea that supported by some good science is the fact that, during the winter months, we're just exposed to less sunlight. That means that melatonin, the hormone that's released in the brain that tells us it's time to sleep, is produced earlier in the day. And that might cause some of us to feel more sluggish, tired and even depressed. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what does that mean in terms of the symptoms people have? How does it -- how does someone know that these symptoms are there, that they're coming on? DR. GREGORY SCOTT BROWN: Right. So, the symptoms of depression would consist of someone who's isolating more, if they have noticed a change in their appetite.

Sometimes, people will eat too little or overeat. If someone is sleeping more than they normally do, if someone is experiencing thoughts of death or thoughts of suicide, these are all indicators that someone may be struggling with depression, especially if the symptoms are lasting for at least two weeks. JUDY WOODRUFF: Sometimes, people can be good at hiding their symptoms. They can seem as if everything's fine.

They may be working really hard to seem as if everything is fine, when, underneath, they're really troubled. DR. GREGORY SCOTT BROWN: And I will tell you, Judy, that's something that, honestly, we're all thinking about right now, especially in the aftermath of the tragic death of Stephen "tWitch" Boss, right? Everyone is saying that he just seemed to be so happy. And my message would be that there's no one face to depression, there's no one particular way that any mental illness looks. And people who are depressed, even people who are suicidal, some of them are able to get up, they're able to go to work, they're able to smile, they're able to hide it quite well. And that's why it's so important that we're asking each other how we're doing, that we're checking in on each other.

A text or a phone call, especially this time of year, might seem like a small gesture, but it can actually go a long way. JUDY WOODRUFF: So those are some things that people who may know that a friend or a family member may be susceptible to these dark feelings are good to know. But what about for people themselves who are feeling particular emotional stress, or maybe they know they have a mental diagnosis? What should they be on the lookout for? How do they cope with this? DR.

GREGORY SCOTT BROWN: Well, I mean, especially if you're experiencing suicidal thoughts, I'd say that 988 is a really, really great resource that people shouldn't feel the shame of taking advantage of. It's available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And the thing about is, if you're meeting with a mental health professional during the holidays, it doesn't necessarily mean that you would have to continue meeting with a mental health professional for the next year or two years or three years. Some people just check in when they're struggling, and that's OK. JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it truly that easy, Dr. Brown, to find someone to talk, to confide in, kind of on the spur of the moment, if you're feeling, again, these dark feelings? DR.

GREGORY SCOTT BROWN: It's a process that is worthwhile. Sometimes, it might take a couple of days to really connect with someone. But I will tell you, someone like me, I'm accepting new patients, and many other psychiatrists and therapists are accepting new patients too. And so, again, if you're feeling like you really need a professional to speak with, don't feel ashamed to pick up the phone and at least make that effort.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, just we know that the these are things that cut -- that cut across people by age, by gender, by race. DR. GREGORY SCOTT BROWN: The suicide rate among men is actually three to four times the rate of suicides among women. And so a lot of folks might think that men don't struggle with mental illness or men are able to tough it out, but the truth is that there are over 130 suicides on average every day in the United States, and suicide and mental illness doesn't discriminate against race or gender. I mean, anyone is at risk.

And that's why we all need to be not only thinking about mental health, but talking about it as well. JUDY WOODRUFF: It's so hard to think about at this time, but, as you say, really important to remember that this may be going on with someone you know well and someone you love. So, thank you so much, Dr. Gregory Scott Brown, for sharing this with us.

We appreciate it. And if you or a loved one is having emotional distress or thoughts of suicide, text or call the national hot line -- as you just heard, it's 988 -- to connect with a lifeline specialist for support. They are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In a report we aired last night, we explored how crystal meth is affecting Iraq. Tonight, we turn our attention to Captagon, a cheap amphetamine that is popular in Gulf countries. Syria has become a major producer of Captagon over the past years, sending ripple effects through the entire region.

Special correspondent Simona Foltyn reports from Syria's southern neighbor, Jordan. SIMONA FOLTYN: This is the new front line in the war on the regional drug trade, Jordan's northern border with Syria. On this side, Jordanian armed forces, with support from the U.S., are trying to stop the tide of drugs inundating the Middle East.

On the other side, drug cartels backed by the Syrian government are fueling the trade. Not far across this valley lies the Syrian town of Daraa, which is where the uprising that would eventually lead to the civil war first began in 2011. End of 2018, the Syrian government retook those areas, and, since then, there has been a steady rise in the illicit drug trade. In the first eight months of 2022, the Jordanian army recorded 170 smuggling attempts, a 50 percent increase compared to 2021. At the border security operations center, Brigadier General Ahmed Khleifat shows us footage of one assault on the border.

BRIG. GEN. AHMED KHLEIFAT, Jordanian Armed Forces (through translator): This is one of the groups, which consisted of 73 smugglers. They mostly carry Kalashnikovs, but, during this operation, they also had machine guns and hand grenades. SIMONA FOLTYN: The smugglers opened fire, killing a Jordanian officer, and prompting the army to change its rules of engagement, adopting a shoot-to-kill policy.

BRIG. GEN. AHMED KHLEIFAT (through translator): We have seen unprecedented hostility towards the Jordanian armed forces. SIMONA FOLTYN: Jordan's stability is vital to the United States presence in the region. The American government has invested more than $260 million in training and equipment to secure this border. But the smugglers have proven adaptive, their methods suggesting a high level of organization.

BRIG. GEN. AHMED KHLEIFAT (through translator): They approach in big numbers and divide themselves into groups. Some groups are distracting the border guards. Others open fire to offer cover to those attempting to cross, while the last group is in charge of smuggling the contraband inside Jordan.

SIMONA FOLTYN: The drug cartels operate under the protection of the Syrian government, providing individuals at the top echelons of Bashar al-Assad's regime with an alternative income stream as the U.S. imposed sweeping sanctions and 2020. Called the Caesar Act, that round of sanctions was the most comprehensive yet, targeting strategic industries such as construction, finance and energy, and bringing Syria's war-ravaged economy to its knees. BRIG. GEN. AHMED KHLEIFAT (through translator): The increase in the drug trade was very clear after those sanctions were implemented, which limited trade with Syria.

SIMONA FOLTYN: The Fourth Division of the Syrian army led by the president's Maher al-Assad reportedly provides the logistical backbone and protection for the drug trade, much to the frustration of the Jordanians, who had hoped to restore cooperation after the Syrian army retook control of the Southern border. BRIG. GEN. AHMED KHLEIFAT (through translator): Border security is supposed to be a mutual responsibility between the two countries. But it's obvious that there are several members in the Syrian army cooperating with the smugglers and providing assistance. SIMONA FOLTYN: This is despite Jordan's attempt to reengage with Damascus as part of a broader plan to rehabilitate the regime and bring an end to the Syrian crisis.

The two sides exchanged diplomatic visits and reopened borders, but the influx of drugs continued, including through the official border crossing. The Jaber border crossing reopened in 2018 as part of efforts to normalize ties between Jordan and Syria and to boost economic activity, but border security remains a thorny issue between the two sides. And the opening of the border has increased the burden on Jordan to stem the flow of drugs coming into the country. Customs officials carry out intensive searches on both passenger and commercial vehicles coming into Jordan using sniffer dogs, X-rays and manual checks. All cargo is off-loaded, crates unpacked, the fabric cover of this sofa removed to check if drugs might be hidden inside.

It's all part of a race to keep up with the smugglers' ever-evolving tactics, explains Muayyad Habashna of the Ministry of Interior's Anti-Narcotics Department. MUAYYAD HABASHNA, Jordanian Anti-Narcotics Department (through translator): We have thwarted smuggling attempts using gas tubes, haircombs, artificial stones. They hide the drugs inside the vehicle chassis, inside cooling plates in the doors. There are so many different attempts. SIMONA FOLTYN: Even when it comes to ordinary passenger vehicles, no stone is left unturned, much to the dismay of travelers, who must endure invasive searches. Customs officials comb through personal belongings, slice open soap bars, and remove the soles of shoes.

MAN: So many times, we find the drug inside. We check everything by hand, after that, send everything and X-ray, OK? SIMONA FOLTYN: And this is what they're looking for, Captagon, a cheap amphetamine-style synthetic stimulant. We're in the capital, Amman, inside the Anti-Narcotics Department's central warehouse for drugs seized across the country. Over 25 million Captagon pills were confiscated during nationwide operations in the first quarter of 2020. COL. HASAAN AL QUDAH, Jordanian Anti-Narcotics Department (through translator): Captagon isn't expensive.

One pill cost 2 to 3 cents to make, whereas the street price in Jordan is $2.50. So it's very profitable. SIMONA FOLTYN: Captagon was first developed in the 1960s to treat depression and attention-deficit disorder.

Its production has been banned in the West, but it regained popularity among fighters in Syria and Iraq who wanted to boost their attention levels. While the bulk of the amphetamine is bound for wealthier Gulf markets, there are warning signs it is increasingly finding its way onto the streets of Jordan, where economic stagnation and youth unemployment provide fertile ground. This is one of two government-run rehabilitation centers providing free treatment without criminalizing those who voluntarily turn themselves in. We're not allowed to interview any patients on camera, but the center's director blames addiction on personal, rather than structural issues. YAZAN BARNAWI, Jordanian Government Rehabilitation Center (through translator): The main reasons are the environment, parents' pressure, weakness in the personality, or a friend who introduces him.

SIMONA FOLTYN: The view from the street is markedly different. We traveled to slumps north of the capital, Amman, an area mostly home to Palestinian refugees, who make up around half of Jordan's population, but remain shut out from its economy. Many here are afraid to speak, in fear of authorities. This young man has been arrested twice for drug use and agrees to be interviewed on condition we hide his identity.

MAN (through translator): We are all unemployed here. If I want to work as a trash collector, I must pay $2,800 as a bribe to get the job. Without connections, there's no way. SIMONA FOLTYN: For many of these men, selling drugs is the only way to survive.

MAN (through translator): The best work here is drugs. If someone has five kids, what can he do? He will buy and sell drugs, so as to feed them. SIMONA FOLTYN: Jordan has thus far tried to tackle the problem through a security approach, focusing on sealing its borders. But without addressing the structural issues fueling demand in Jordan and the Gulf, as well as supply across the border in Syria, the fight against the regional drug trade is likely to remain an uphill battle. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Simona Foltyn in Jordan.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mr. Zelenskyy comes to Washington, the January 6 Committee recommends changes and charges, and border policy remains in limbo, as communities deal with rising migration and plummeting temperatures. And to the analysis of Brooks and Capehart. That's New York Times columnist David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart, associate editor for The Washington Post. And what a full week it has been. (LAUGHTER) JONATHAN CAPEHART: Seriously.

JUDY WOODRUFF: It's so good to see both of you on this Friday night before Christmas. So, David, let's start by talking about Volodymyr Zelenskyy with a surprise visit. We only learned about it right before it happened.

What did you make of his coming? And what did you make of the remarks to Congress and to the American people? DAVID BROOKS: Well, the cameras lingered on Zelenskyy, obviously, but I was focused on the audience. I wanted to see how members of Congress would react. And I have to say, in a country that's bitterly divided, I thought, time and again, the room rose almost as one. Of course, there were dissenters in the room. But, by and large, there was whooping, there was cheering. There were women in blue dresses, guys in yellow ties.

It really struck me this is something that's touched deeply a lot of Americans of all different stripes. And I think Zelenskyy used his remarks to show that his cause is very much akin to the ancient American cause of defending freedom, defending human dignity, opposing authoritarianism. And so I thought he reminded us of what we would like to be.

And I think, in that way, it was a triumph. JUDY WOODRUFF: What did you see and hear? JONATHAN CAPEHART: I have to agree with David that I thought President Zelenskyy's speech was a reminder of who we want to be, who we are, who we are to the world, that we have grown up watching those grainy black-and-white videos of Churchill speaking before Congress. Everyone talks about Churchill.

Now we have our generation's Churchill, President Zelenskyy. And I don't think it was lost on a lot of people just how dangerous the trip was for him, to leave his country, to get to the Polish border, to get on that plane, have those meetings, give that speech, and then get back in place to help run the war, push back against Russia. It was historic. It was inspiring. And those -- and it was nice, in a town where there's so much division, to see a majority of the Congress stand up.

But those few dissenters are also people who are going to have positions of leadership and authority in the next Congress, in the next Republican majority. And that is just the one thing that I found concerning. JUDY WOODRUFF: And so, given that, David, does his -- does that visit and what he had to say, his very presence, make a difference in terms of being able to count on aid continuing to come from the United States? DAVID BROOKS: I think, if you had asked us if support would be this high back in February, I think we would have thought, oh, it'll -- some of it will drain away.

Will Europe be strong as they are? We would have thought some of it would drain away. But that really hasn't happened. Vladimir Putin has done an excellent job organizing and uniting opposition to him. I think it's also significant, first, that, of the trips he made, and this dangerous one, he came to Washington. People think we're a nation in decline, but it's still a reminder that U.S. leadership is still needed around the world.

And I think the conversations with Biden, not giving him everything he wants, but giving him something, shows that you can act with moral clarity without losing your head. American policy has had a tendency to oscillate between extreme interventionism to oppose authoritarianism, Vietnam, Bay of Pigs, Iraq, or extreme, no, let's stay behind our oceans, and we will allow genocide to happen. We won't act to shore up Ukraine when Putin was testing the waters.

I think the Biden administration has done an excellent job of finding that balance. They did not find it as we withdrew from Afghanistan. That was not idealistic enough. But the balance between ideals and practicality, saying to Zelenskyy, we're going to give you a lot of weapons, but not long-range missiles that could destabilize them.

You can dream of total victory, and we support that, but you have really got to think about making some agreement with Putin someday. And so I think the Biden administration has done a good job of finding that balance between the ideals we believe in and something that's actually practical and useful. JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that and whether Zelenskyy helped his case? JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, I think he helped his case certainly with the American people. It's rare the American people get to see a war hero standing there addressing them, reminding them, again, to what we were talking about before, about who we are and how their story, how the Ukrainians' story fits into the larger global story of democratic ideals, small-D democratic ideals, in the world. I also think, to the point about the unity that's been -- that's held here in the States, but also in Europe, it made -- when you said that, I thought about the midterm elections. That was an existential moment for the country.

Are we going to -- are we going to allow MAGA Republicans to take over, or are we going to push back? And I think that support for the war -- for Ukraine's efforts push back against Russia, it's an existential -- an existential war. And I think the president has framed it well. This is not just pushing back against Russia's invasion. It is about democracy vs. autocracy. And democracy must win.

And I think, as long as people understand that, fundamentally, that's what Ukraine's mission is, I think the support will be there. JUDY WOODRUFF: And speaking of democracy, the January 6 Committee did -- it's very near the end of the year. They did come out with their final report this week. They laid hundreds and hundreds of pages out, their recommendations. We talked to Zoe Lofgren about it tonight.

David, what statement do you think most stays with you about what they have done? And, I mean, what is their -- what is the legacy of this committee? DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think, in the eight chapters they had there, they laid out the broad scope of the conspiracy. It was not only starting the lie. It was not only sending people to Capitol Hill.

It was trying to influence the states. It was a whole -- it was a whole broad thing. And so I think they really established that. And even if people weren't always paying attention, they clearly had an effect on the political culture of the country.

The second thing, before this committee, we would have a witness, a few bloviating members of Congress, and it was good. Some of them were good. But that's not how committees are going to be held anymore. They clearly took the reins. They said, we're going to have an audiovisual lesson every time for the American people. And my newspaper has a story on that Congress had no facilities, no control room, no audiovisual.

It was just like a guy and a laptop. And so this committee hired a former ABC News executive, a whole team. They built a mock -- a control room. They did what you would do if you want to lay a case out in an audiovisual way to the American people. I imagine that every committee from now on is going to do that. And so it will change the nature of committees, in some ways good, in some ways not so good.

But they were a pioneer in how Congress does investigations. JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you take away from their final report, the end of all of this? JONATHAN CAPEHART: I am happy. We went through, what, 10 hearings, televised hearings, not all bunched together. The beauty of this report is that it puts it all in one place. It's -- yes, it's 845 pages. Most people won't go through it.

But that's not the point. Now we have a record for history that we can go back to, turn back to, to not only learn about what happened and just how coordinated this was. For a while, we all talked about the -- January 6 as this organic uprising that just happened because the president gave a speech.

And, no, what we see is, it was a multifaceted, coordinated effort to overturn a free and fair election. And to have all of that, not just the story, but the evidence, the testimony, the transcripts, everything in one place, I think, is something that, to David's point, will change the way Congress does investigations from here on out. JUDY WOODRUFF: Any way -- in any way. David, is it diminished, though, by the fact that, on January the 3rd, this new Congress comes in, Republican majority in the House, and they're going to -- not only will the committee be disbanded, but they're going to turn the tables and start investigating Democrats. DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I mean, we will see. I don't think it's diminished.

They laid out a strong case. They persuaded skeptics like me. (LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: And they -- as I say, they had an effect on the country. So, now we move to a different arena, whether the Justice Department will do anything with it or somebody else.

So, that -- it's not like this suddenly ends because the Republicans took over the House. The one thing I didn't like about the committee is the suggestion that we use the disqualification act of -- the piece of the 14th Amendment. I just think -- I understand why you would want to disqualify Donald Trump from being -- ever being president again. I just think, in a society so full of distrust, where people think the Washington game is rigged, the people who need to disqualify Donald Trump are the voters. And if we try to do it anyway, it will have a negative consequence of a severe form, in my view.

JONATHAN CAPEHART: You're wrong. (LAUGHTER) JONATHAN CAPEHART: When you have -- when you have an example of Donald -- as extreme as Donald Trump, absolutely, that should be in there. We have never seen anything like him, anyone like him before. And so it applies to -- if it applies to him, if he's the only one who is gutsy enough to try to overthrow a free and fair election, and it only applies to him, great.

I don't know if anyone would have the guts to do that again. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it is just a matter of hours before Christmas. (LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: And whether you observe Christmas or not, I have to ask a question about, OK, yes, there's a stocking hanging by the chimney.

Who are some people, who is somebody, David, who you think should get something nice from Santa on Christmas, and who's somebody who you think maybe needs some coal? (LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: Well, for the nice -- I will stick with the nice. Maybe I will leave off the coal. (LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: But the White House chief of staff, presidential chief of Staff, Ron Klain, everyone dumps on the White House chief of staff. They blame him for everything.

They can't blame the president, so they blame the chief of staff. They have had a good year. The White House has had a good year.

I assume Ron Klain has had something to do with that. And so I -- the long-suffering, neglected Ron Klain, and I hope Santa, not even a stuffing stocker, a whole model train set. (LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: Thomas the Tank Engine, whatever he wants to do. JUDY WOODRUFF: Thomas the Tank. DAVID BROOKS: I think he deserves a train set. JUDY WOODRUFF: Do we think he likes trains? DAVID BROOKS: I have no idea.

(LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: And what about the coal? DAVID BROOKS: Well, this will be a little more serious. I just look at the schools and the effect that the long and overly, overly, overly long school closures during COVID had on school -- student attainment and the lifelong prospects of a generation of young people. And I do blame a lot of different people for that, but I think the teachers unions blame -- bear a share of the blame for really widening inequality, hurting social mobility, and hurting a lot of students. So, they get my coal. JUDY WOODRUFF: They get your coal.

All right, only a little over a minute. That's my fault, but... JONATHAN CAPEHART: OK, so I'm going to start with coal as groups of people. JUDY WOODRUFF: OK. JONATHAN CAPEHART: First, the IRS for not auditing President Trump's taxes, as they were supposed to do under law, when he was president of the United States.

That was one of the many breaking news stories that hit last week, this past week. And, also, the members of Congress who did not comply with the subpoenas from the January 6 Committee to do what I think is their patriotic duty, to talk about what they knew and what happened during January 6. As for nice, another -- another group of people, the Democrats, the independents and the Republicans who came out in record numbers in the midterm elections to push back against MAGA Republicans who were seeking office, people who believed in the big lie, people who were supported by former President Trump. And the -- I mean, it worked.

Those groups of people getting the nice -- getting on the nice list, they made sure that Democrats held onto the Senate, and the Republican red wave turned out to be less than a trickle in the House. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, they get Thomas the Tank Engine. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Yes, they get the train set. (LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: It's great. Well, it's so great to see you both on this Friday before Christmas.

Jonathan Capehart, David Brooks, thank you both. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thanks, Judy. DAVID BROOKS: Thank you, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, we bring you a classic Christmas carol, "What Child Is This?" sung by military service personnel from around the world. It was produced by a little-known unit at the Defense Department called the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. (SINGING) JUDY WOODRUFF: Just spectacular.

Thank you to each one of these service members for joining us in that way. And we thank you, each and every one, for the service you give to our country. And on the "NewsHour" online -- this is important -- we explore the chemistry behind the flavors in your leftovers. Why does that holiday meal taste even better a few days later? And at what point does leftover food pose a health risk? All that and more at PBS.org/NewsHour. And tune into "Washington Week" tonight for more analysis of the January 6 Committee's final report and its historic criminal referrals of former President Trump.

And tomorrow on "PBS News Weekend": a look at the controversial facial identification technology used at some airports this holiday season. And, with that, that is the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff. For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe this holiday weekend, and have a very, very merry Christmas.

2022-12-25 04:56

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