PBS NewsHour full episode, Oct. 17, 2022
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff. On the "NewsHour" tonight: brutal tactics. Russia bombs city of Kyiv the city with explosive-packed, drones, prompting European leaders to boost support for Ukraine in the form of weapons and military training.
Then: power play. President Xi Jinping outlines his vision for China at the Communist Party Congress, as he seeks to solidify his grip on authority and his nation's role in the world. And search-and-rescue. Volunteer emergency response teams are stretched thin, with more Americans than ever hitting the outdoors.
JEFF SPARHAWK, Colorado Search and Rescue: We got a huge increase in calls over the pandemic. Our trailheads were packed from sunup to sundown. People were parked all over the place just to get out in the woods. JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour." (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: Ukraine's capital city is spending a tense night after Russia unleashed a barrage of drones laden with explosives. Authorities say that at least four people were killed.
It came as the European Union approved nearly half-a-billion dollars for Ukraine to buy more weapons. John Yang reports on this day. JOHN YANG: People ran for shelter as drones descended on Kyiv. The strikes tore through buildings, sparking fires and leaving behind ash and debris. Residents were in shock. VITALI DUSHEVSKIY, Kyiv Resident (through translator): It is murder. It is simply murder. There are no other words for it. We are all so shaken, we don't even know what to do.
JOHN YANG: The strikes were carried out by explosive suicide drones appearing to be Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones. First responders recovered some fragments of the autonomous drones. "For Belgorod" was written on one of the pieces, a reference to a Russian region hit by Ukrainian shelling. At least five drones hit targets in Kyiv, including a residential building. Police and soldiers on the ground shot at least 13 others out of the sky.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned the attacks. VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, Ukrainian President (through translator): Russia stands no chance on the battlefield, and it tries to cover up its military defeats with terror. Why does it need terror? To put pressure on us, on Europe, on the whole world. Terrorists must be neutralized.
JOHN YANG: Despite the apparent Iranian origin of the drones, officials in Tehran denied all claims of involvement. NASSER KANAANI, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman (through translator): The Islamic Republic of Iran is not on any side of the war between Russia and Ukraine. The Islamic Republic of Iran has not exported any weapon to any side of the war. JOHN YANG: But Ukrainian officials still called for sanctions against Iran, a position backed by several members of the European Union. And E.U. officials in Luxembourg today said
they were investigating whether Iran was involved. In Kyiv, residents did their best to carry on after the strikes. For the people of Ukraine, attacks like these remain a daily, horrific reality. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Later, the U.S. State Department charged that Iran is violating U.N. restrictions by supplying the drones to Russia. Meanwhile, a Russian bomber crashed today in the city of Yeysk in Southern Russia. At least four people were killed and 21 hurt. The plane hit a nine-story apartment building
and left several floors in flames. Russian defense officials blamed the crash on a fire in one of the engines. In Iran, authorities now say that the death toll has reached eight in a weekend fire at a Tehran prison. It erupted Saturday at Evin prison, where political prisoners are kept. Iranian officials blamed prisoners for the fire, which came amid ongoing anti-government protests. We will return to this later in the program.
Britain's new government has reversed nearly all of an economic package announced just weeks ago. Today's decision scraps planned tax cuts and it scales back a cap on energy prices. Those measures were not paid for and that had spooked financial markets. Newly named Treasury Chief formally announced the change. JEREMY HUNT, British Treasury Chief: It is a deeply held conservative value, a value that I share, that people should keep more of the money they earn. But at a time when
markets are rightly demanding commitment to sustainable public finances, it is not right to borrow to fund this tax cut. JUDY WOODRUFF: Prime Minister Liz Truss issued the economic plan after taking office last month. This evening, she said she's sorry for the mistakes, but she said she means to continue as leader of the ruling Conservative Party. Officials in Pakistan report more than half of those who fled during recent floods in Sindh Province have now returned home. The region was inundated over the summer, when unprecedented monsoon rains sent rivers overflowing. Some 12 million people in Sindh were affected. Roughly 200,000 remain in aid camps.
Back in this country, documents show that former President Trump's hotels charged the Secret Service up to $1,200 a night during his time in office. A congressional committee obtained the records as it investigates claims that the Trump Organization profited from presidential security. The company denies the allegation. The nation's first trial over a state ban on gender-confirming care for children has started in Arkansas. The law bars such care for those under 18. Doctors who violate the ban could lose their licenses. Transgender activists say that it discriminates against
them and violates free speech rights. And on Wall Street, stocks stormed back from Friday's losses, leading major indexes to rise from 2 to nearly 3.5 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 551 points to close near 30186. The Nasdaq added 354 points. The S&P 500 jumped almost 95. Still to come on the "NewsHour": we speak to the sister of an American held at the notorious Iranian prison that caught fire this weekend; Tamara Keith and Amy Walter break down the latest political headlines; playwright Tom Stoppard discusses his latest work chronicling a Jewish family's history; plus much more.
This weekend, China's President and Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping gave what is viewed as his most significant speech of the year. He chronicled his achievements over the last decade and charted his vision for the country's future, all as the Communist Party appears set to hand him a third term and further cement his power. Nick Schifrin has the story. NICK SCHIFRIN: During the first day of the National Party Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed the importance of improving the standard of living for Chinese citizens and increasing self-reliance, especially on high-end technology.
He praised China's response to the COVID pandemic, which relies on massive widespread lockdowns, and Xi emphasized the need to become more adept at deploying China's military on a regular basis and for the military to be prepared for major challenges. XI JINPING, Chinese President (through translator): We must be mindful of potential dangers, be prepared to deal with the worst-case scenarios, and be ready to withstand the major challenges of high winds, choppy waters and even dangerous storms. NICK SCHIFRIN: And for more on Xi Jinping's speech and the Party Congress, we turned to Christopher Johnson, previously a China analyst at the CIA. He now runs his own consulting
company, China Strategies Group. Chris Johnson, welcome to the "NewsHour." When Xi discusses worst-case scenarios,when he talks about headwinds, is he preparing China for a long-term confrontation with the United States? CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON, China Strategies Group: Absolutely. And, in fact, I think he's telling us that he sees war with the United States as increasingly likely. And I think we see two aspects of this in the speech that he delivered to the Congress. The first is that longstanding phraseology in these work reports, where China judged
that peace and economic development not only were the dominant global trend, but also would be an enduring one, are gone from this report. And, instead, they have been replaced by what Xi Jinping called a spirit of struggle, which is clearly a throwback to the 1960s under Mao Zedong. The other way I think he's telegraphing that is that he's showing us that the economy is moving toward what we might call a fortress economy that is less dependent on the global order and less dependent upon the United States.
He talks a lot in the speech about self-sufficiency in technology. And that tells us that he's hardening that system for -- in preparation for that possible coming war with the United States. NICK SCHIFRIN: And he spent a lot of time on military modernization. Is the vision not only perhaps some kind of regional war or confrontation with the United States over, say, Taiwan or the South China Sea, but a more global one? CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: Well, that's a great question.
And I think we see him through the defense reforms that he's been pushing in his second term and also through the type of weapons systems they're developing. They're undergoing a massive expansion of their nuclear force. They tested this hypersonic glide vehicle last year. All of those systems obviously are designed to threaten the U.S. mainland and homeland and to show that China is ready for a global contingency with the United States, if necessary.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The largest tension point, of course, between Beijing and Washington is Taiwan. It has been for a long time and is today. Let's take a listen to what Xi said about Taiwan. XI JINPING (through translator): Resolving the Taiwan issue is a matter for the Chinese, a matter that must be resolved by us Chinese people. We will continue to strive for a peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and the utmost effort. But we will never promise to renounce the use of force. And we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary. This is directed only at interference by outside forces and
the few separatists who seek Taiwan independence with their separatist activities. NICK SCHIFRIN: Outside forces and those who seek Taiwan independence. What message is Xi Jinping trying to send? CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: I think he's telling the United States primarily, stop messing around in the Taiwan issue and abide more tightly to the One China policy that has governed U.S. approach toward Taiwan since we reestablished diplomatic relations with China in the 1970s. He's clearly saying to us, as long as we continue to have a One China policy in the United States, and Taiwan doesn't move toward independence, the Chinese actually see a potential military conflict with Taiwan as a crisis to be avoided, rather than an opportunity to be seized. NICK SCHIFRIN: When it comes to domestic issues, he did not ease any of the COVID zero restrictions, which, to this day, continue to leave millions of Chinese people in lockdown.
And he reiterated his belief in a highly centralized economic control, even if that centralization leads to lower growth across the country. What does that say about his version of state control 10 years into his second term? CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: I think it tells us that he wants more state control and more centralization, whether it's in the economy and the COVID zero policy or any other policy across the board. What we're seeing is a guy who believes fundamentally in Marxism, believes that communism is a system that can have its own successes internationally, and can defeat the United States and capitalism in the longer term. NICK SCHIFRIN: About 10 days ago, the U.S. imposed its most sweeping export controls,
trying to prevent China from purchasing high-end technology with any kind of U.S. factors inside that technology. Xi Jinping today, as you have been discussing, talked about self-reliance. Can those export controls do what they're designed to do, which is set back China's military and keep the U.S. technological advantage? CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: Well, it can certainly slow them down.
And I think that's what the objective of the policies are. The key question, I think, for not only the United States government, but our companies, is that, if China eventually gets there on their own in terms of the ability to produce semiconductors -- and, let's remember, wafer fabrication is not literal rocket science. There are plenty of people out there who know how to do it. China will eventually gain this capability. And when they do, will it be a situation where our companies are left on the outside looking in, while other countries' semiconductor companies sell to China? NICK SCHIFRIN: So there's a risk in trying to constrain China's growth for U.S. companies?
CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: Absolutely, because as the risk that you run is that, what if we're partially successful in slowing them down, but they double and triple down and all these other areas of high technology, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and so on? If they're successful there and wind up in front of us in those key technologies, where the race is still very much at hand, we could have a situation where we're suddenly behind them. NICK SCHIFRIN: Xi Jinping is the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao. Has he taken even more steps in this Congress to try and erase the most powerful Chinese leader that was between Xi and Mao, Deng Xiaoping, and his reform? CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: Yes, absolutely. In foreign the policy arena, Deng's theory was always, China should keep a low profile and not raise its head internationally. Xi Jinping says, China already is a superpower
and it's time for it to start acting like one on the global stage. And that's a massive diminution of Deng's role and an effort to create a direct line between Mao Zedong and himself as China's unparalleled top leader. NICK SCHIFRIN: And, of course, that is what we expect next weekend, Xi Jinping being granted that third term.
Chris Johnson of the China Strategies Group, thank you very much. CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: My pleasure. JUDY WOODRUFF: For a month now, people in Iran have been protesting against the regime after a young woman died in police custody. Over the weekend, a large fire erupted inside a prison facility in Tehran known for jailing political prisoners. At least eight people are believed to be dead.
Amna Nawaz has more. AMNA NAWAZ: The protest movement sweeping Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini spread to the notorious Evin prison Tehran. On Saturday, videos spread on social media of the prison ablaze, flames and smoke rising from parts of the compound. Gunshots can be heard in some clips. Tehran's governor later blamed a prisoner riot. Activists said prisoners were chanting anti-regime slogans and guards launched a crackdown. Later that evening, protesters
outside were seen marching to the prison chanting "Death to the dictator." American citizen Emad Sharghi is currently detained inside Evin prison. His sister, Neda Sharghi, who has been campaigning for his release, joins us tonight. Neda, welcome. Thanks for being here. NEDA SHARGHI, Sister of Emad Sharghi: Thank you for having me.
AMNA NAWAZ: So I want to ask you about your brother's detention. He's been held there for four years now in a moment. But I want to begin with this weekend. As the fires were burning, as the riots were unfolding, your brother was inside, and he called you, what did he tell you? What did you hear? NEDA SHARGHI: He -- I was actually in D.C. at an event for hostages who had come home.
So I thought he was calling at that time to see how the event went. But when he called, it was quite loud in the background. And Emad just said: "Hi. I want you to know that I'm OK." And I said: "What's going on? What's all the noises in the background?" And he said: "It's just very chaotic here."
And that's all he said his voice was incredibly heavy. And he said: "We're just staying in our room." And I said: "OK."
And he said: "Tell everyone I love them. And I hope to talk to you soon." But it really wasn't what Emad said. It was more what I could hear in the background. It sounded like he was in the middle of a riot. I could hear people shouting, and I
could hear what I now know are gunshots, because I only found out later that there had been riots in that part of the prison where he is. AMNA NAWAZ: What was it like for you in that moment, when you're seeing these videos, the fires burning, hearing the gunshots, knowing your brother's inside? NEDA SHARGHI: I try to be a very optimistic person. But I was -- I thought to myself, that could be the last time I hear from him. I imagined him in a smoke-filled room unable to get out. All the worst possible thoughts came to my head.
And then I had the responsibility of knowing that I was the last person who spoke to him. So it was terrifying. AMNA NAWAZ: Your brother has been there since 2018, wrongfully detained. He's an American citizen. He was convicted in a sham trial on some national security charges. What can you tell us about the negotiations to bring him back home? What do U.S. officials
tell you? NEDA SHARGHI: We just hear that they're trying to do their best to get them out. But Emad should have been out last year. Emad should have been out six months ago. Emad should have been out three months ago. And he's still there. I think what we learned this weekend is that time is an illusion. At any moment, something
could happen to him and he could die. AMNA NAWAZ: He did survive. We should say you were able to confirm he is OK. But what can you tell us about how he is doing? NEDA SHARGHI: He called, finally, yesterday morning. And it was a minute-long call. He just said: "I'm alive. And I'm fine. Don't worry."
I didn't ask him anything. And he didn't offer any more details. The calls are usually short and monitored. His voice was hoarse. And he was coughing. And I'm putting two and two together, thinking that he's probably inhaled a lot of the smoke from the fires, because the fires are in the -- near the ward where he -- where he is kept. And he said that they moved him late at night to Section 2-A of Evin prison, away from the fire. AMNA NAWAZ: Have you or anyone in your family been able to meet with President Biden or speak to him directly about this? We have seen the Biden administration have some success bringing home Americans who are wrongfully detained, most recently from Venezuela.
But, also, Baquer Namazi was released from medical treatment from Iran. NEDA SHARGHI: Yes. AMNA NAWAZ: Have you spoken with them directly? NEDA SHARGHI: I have not spoken -- we have not spoken to President Biden. We have made several requests to speak with him, because I think it's important to talk about the case and what we understand and our frustrations and the need for urgency.
I think it's very important for the president to know. We keep requesting and we hope to hear from him and have the opportunity to meet with him. AMNA NAWAZ: Do you believe they're doing everything they can to bring him home? NEDA SHARGHI: I believe they don't quite understand when we say to them, you need to do this quickly. I believe they think that time is on our side, and that they can just wait. So, I don't believe they understand how urgent it is to get them home. AMNA NAWAZ: This moment in time in Iran. We're seeing historic protests across the country,
right? You're also -- the nuclear talks are playing out between Iran and the U.S. Are you worried all of this impacts your brother's future? NEDA SHARGHI: Of course I am. It's hard enough to get attention for this humanitarian issue around our innocent American hostages. And it's even tougher now to get our voices heard and to urge action this very quickly. AMNA NAWAZ: Neda Sharghi, sister of wrongfully detained American citizen Emad Sharghi, who is held in Iran, thank you for joining us. NEDA SHARGHI: Thank you for having me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Across the nation, search-and-rescue teams are mostly made up of a patchwork of volunteers, often overseen by local sheriff's departments. But many of these teams are now struggling to keep up, as more American than ever are hitting the outdoors. Special correspondent Christopher Booker reports from Colorado. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: High atop Colorado's Rocky Mountains is where 46-year old Jennifer Staufer finds peace.
JENNIFER STAUFER, Climber: being outside is just such a mental clarifying relief for me. Like, it's just a place where I go to kind of reconnect with what fundamentally matters to me. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Raised in Colorado, Staufer began climbing more than two decades ago, and, by July of 2015, she had made it to the summit of more than 40 of the states' mountains with elevation above 14,000 feet. They're collectively known as the 14ers.
JENNIFER STAUFER: I was 10 weeks pregnant at the time. My doctor had cleared me to hike until I was 20 weeks pregnant. And I was on a mission to check off some more 14ers before I had a kid in my life.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: That mission brought her and her climbing partner, Adam, to the summit of Crestone Peak in Southern Colorado. But shortly after this photo was taken, as Staufer was making her descent, she slipped on a patch of ice, and fell headfirst down the mountain, tumbling 250 feet before coming to a stop on these rocks. What was going through your mind? JENNIFER STAUFER: The first thing is going through my mind is, I'm 10 weeks pregnant.
I'm probably not pregnant anymore. At one point in time, I even started preparing Adam with what to tell my family if I don't make it home. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: They were able to get out a call to 911, dispatching Custer County search-and-rescue. About seven hours later, this team of 14 volunteers arrived by helicopter, with some having to climb more than 1,500 feet to reach Staufer. JENNIFER STAUFER: I did have a collapsed right lung. I had three broken ribs. I had pelvic fractures. This kneecap was completely shattered in half. And then I had broken my foot in
a couple of different places. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: But, unbelievably, you were still pregnant. JENNIFER STAUFER: I was still pregnant, yes. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: While Staufer's story is harrowing, it was just one rescue in a state that receives 3,000 calls every year for search-and-rescue, a number that's been steadily increasing in recent years, as more and more people are being drawn to the wilderness of Colorado.
JEFF SPARHAWK, Colorado Search and Rescue: We have to be everywhere all at once. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Jeff Sparhawk Runs Colorado Search and Rescue, a nonprofit organization that represents the roughly 50 search-and-rescue teams across the state. He says, over the last few years, some of these teams have experienced a record number of calls. JEFF SPARHAWK: We got a huge increase in calls over the pandemic. Our trailheads were packed
from sunup to sundown. People were parked all over the place just to get out in the woods. And now there are so many more people who have moved to Colorado and don't have experience in our mountains, don't have experience in our rivers, don't have experience in our backcountry. By far, the majority of our missions get back to some kind of unpreparedness.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: After retiring in 2015, 62 year-old Jim McCoy began working for a search-and-rescue team in Park County, Colorado. This sprawling rural community southwest of Denver is about the size of Delaware. JIM MCCOY, Park County Search and Rescue: Park County, which is pretty large, 2,200 square miles, has about 80 percent public land. We do, as a team, about 60 rescues a
year. Did everybody sign in? CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: On a recent Saturday morning, much of McCoy's 38-person team was here on one of seven field trainings members must complete every year. JIM MCCOY: The purpose of today's exercise was for us to practice a high-angle rescue. So we had a climber who was stranded on a vertical face and injured.
MAN: Downslope. MAN: Downslope. JIM MCCOY: It's probably about the most difficult rescue we do, the most technical thing we do, probably requires about the most gear of anything that we do. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: What do you think people don't understand about what you do? JIM MCCOY: One of the biggest misconceptions about us is that we get paid. Everyone on the team is a volunteer, the entire team. Each individual has to provide their own gear, their own gas.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: One study found that the average search-and-rescue volunteer in Colorado spends more than $1,500 a year. And this is how it is throughout much of the country. CHRISTOPHER BOYER, Executive Director, National Association for Search and Rescue: Almost 99.9 percent of all search-and-rescue in the United States is done by volunteers, local stewards of their communities. They pay for their own equipment. They pay for their own training.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Chris Boyer is the executive director of the national association for search-and-rescue. He says that even national parks rely on volunteers in some cases. CHRISTOPHER BOYER: A few national parks have specialty teams. Like, in Yosemite, parks that have specialty environments usually have a half-dozen or so specialty rangers. But they still all rely on volunteers to do the heavy lifting.
I think, overall, at a nationwide level, we have a system that is broke. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: And, in Colorado, a state where outdoor recreation is a multibillion-dollar industry, it's especially glaring. JEFF SPARHAWK: We need to figure out a way that the outdoor recreation industry, the tourism industry, all of those who are benefiting from this are, to some degree, supporting it right? In some weird way, you can look at us as this safety net or maybe kind of an insurance policy for this entire industry. And we see this is a non-sustainable situation. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Is that the way that you frame it, that this is not sustainable? JEFF SPARHAWK: Long term, it's definitely not, right? Here in Boulder County, we have somewhere north of 200 calls, maybe 300 calls a year. And so that's -- that's really tough
for volunteers, right? How do you hold down a job? How do you maintain a family life? PAGE WEIL, Rocky Mountain Rescue Group: Did not get a second nap today. I have two young kids. I have a 3.5-year old and a 10-month-old. So unless they're in day care for the day, I'm almost guaranteed to get a call while I'm trying to do something with them. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Thirty-nine-year-old Page Weil has spent a decade with Colorado's Rocky Mountain Rescue Group in Boulder, one of the state's busiest teams. He also works as a
full-time consulting engineer. PAGE WEIL: Yes, so have I my... (PHONE RINGING) CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: On a recent Sunday, Weil got a call. PAGE WEIL: So let's just hear what comes out. But, yes, someone -- someone is hurt right
now. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Within a few minutes, he and his wife, Jess, and their two kids all were racing toward a hiking a trail just outside of downtown Boulder. MAN: All units responding. PAGE WEIL: We're responding to an 80s female who fell and hit her head. It sounds like
she's injured and can't walk. So we will probably have to carry her out. I sort of have made it a priority of my life. Once I make that decision to respond, it's -- everything is out the window. I'm going to get my gear and get it going. I text my wife. I let her know I her know.
I will cancel meetings if I have them scheduled for work, or I'll let my supervisor know. And then, immediately, my mind is sort of in rescue mode. JESSICA WEIL, Colorado: I realized like a few years into it how much of a commitment it was for me as a partner, as a spouse, as a mom. Like, it is a sacrifice. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Like many search-and-rescue teams across the nation, the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group relies heavily upon donations to do this work. They also receive some state
and local funding. PAGE WEIL: We're a team of approximately 80 volunteers. Our annual operating budget for our group is around $80,000 for the whole team for the entire year. NARRATOR: Help protect our state with a $29 Keep Colorado Wild Pass. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Starting in 2023, Colorado residents will be asked to voluntarily buy a parks pass when they register their cars. Officials here say the legislation, which passed last year, could generate about $2.5 million in additional funding for search-and-rescue
teams. Other states like New Hampshire are trying a more controversial approach, billing individuals who are rescued. LT. JAMES KNEELAND, New Hampshire Fish and Game: We do bill when there is negligence.
We average about only 13 or 14 billed missions a year. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Lieutenant James Kneeland is a conservation officer with New Hampshire Fish and Game, which runs search-and-rescue operations in the state. LT. JAMES KNEELAND: Well, one thing I think it has helped with is, people are trying to get themselves better prepared. If they know they have the potential for getting billed,
I think they're doing a little bit of research on their hike, whether it's getting the right equipment or studying, can I do this in a day? CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: But, back in Colorado, Jeff Sparhawk says the state shouldn't start charging for rescues. JEFF SPARHAWK: If people think they are going to be charged, they're going to delay. They're going to make it more difficult for us, more dangerous for us.
But, in general, I think Colorado looks at this as, we take care of the folks who come here. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: For that, Jennifer Staufer remains forever grateful. Her son, Morgan, is now 7 years old and shares his mom's love of the mountains. JENNIFER STAUFER: Morgan, my son, just climbed his first 13er, and he was really blessed to be able to do so with Jeff, who was one of the guys who was on he my rescue and helped get me out.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Staufer says she's still climbing and hopes to one day return to the same mountain where she almost lost her life. JENNIFER STAUFER: I would love to go back and finish that climb, because I feel like its important to me to get it done under my own power and to kind of put it behind me. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Christopher Booker in Colorado. JUDY WOODRUFF: Election Day is three weeks from tomorrow, meaning this is a time when candidates and campaigns are having to focus more than ever on money. They recently faced a federal deadline to report their campaign spending and fund-raising through September. Lisa Desjardins is here to walk us through how finances are playing in this year's elections.
Hello, Lisa. LISA DESJARDINS: Hello. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, compared to other years, how much of a factor is money this year? LISA DESJARDINS: Judy, we are seeing a storm of campaign spending. Let's look at the comparative numbers here. You go back to 2018, the last purely midterm election, total spending then was itself also very high, $5.7 billion. Where do we think we will end up this year? This estimate by OpenSecrets says more than $9.3 billion, approaching twice that much
in just four years. Notably, this year, outside spending groups, super PACs, all of those kinds of ideas, they're contributing more than $1.3 billion. So that's a billion-dollar force from folks who are not candidates and not political parties.
I will say one thing we're noticing this year is that Democratic candidates seem to be raising more than Republican candidates, the candidates themselves. However, Republicans have an advantage and are raising more money with these outside groups. JUDY WOODRUFF: Who don't have to tell so much about who they are. LISA DESJARDINS: They have different requirements. That's right. JUDY WOODRUFF: Where the money is coming from.
So, how much difference does it make on the ground when one party gives so much and another gives a different amount? LISA DESJARDINS: I want to really focus on those outside groups, because Democrats especially are feeling that pressure in the Senate races right now. And I want to talk about a Senate group, the Senate Leadership -- the Senate Leadership Fund. That is a group connected to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. That is a super PAC, but it is connected to a dark money group as well. Now, I want to look at a map of where that group, Senator McConnell's group, has been spending money on ads in Senate races, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia. Those are races that they believe their money, that influx of millions of dollars that they're spending can move the race one way or the other. And let's look at some of the ads that they have actually been putting on air, the Senate leadership fund right there. Do you feel safe? This is an ad you see in Wisconsin. These
are all ads really against the Democratic candidate, dark images, negative ads, so to speak. We spoke to someone from OpenSecrets Brendan Galvin, about super PACs and dark money and this group. And this is what he told us. BRENDAN GALVIN, OpenSecrets: Both sides are raising millions of dollars within -- from these dark money groups. But, right now, what we're seeing is the -- especially in the Senate, the Senate Leadership Fund is able to outspend the Democratic -- their Democratic counterparts. And we saw this coming over the course of the cycle. LISA DESJARDINS: My Democratic Senate sources are really feeling this right now. They felt
they had so much momentum through the summer. Now this change in spending, especially from McConnell's group, is affecting them, they say. And they're also seeing a change in who's paying for this. We don't know exactly who all the donors are for Senator McConnell's group. But we know some billionaires like
Peter Thiel, the well-known kind of West Coast investing -- investment guru guy, he has been spending millions of his own dollars in specific races, including in Ohio. His candidates of choice have won in those primaries. He's a big factor. Of course, Democrats have their own billionaires. George Soros himself put in over $100 million last year.
What we're seeing, Judy, here is, small donors, regular folks, they're tapped out. They have nothing more to donate. They have been asked so many times. Billionaires, however, are continuing to give. And they are really controlling a lot of the spending right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And a lot of that's going to Republicans, it appears. LISA DESJARDINS: From those largest donors, yes, at this moment. JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. So you have also, Lisa, looked at these races. That was mostly about Senate and the House, federal races.
LISA DESJARDINS: Right. JUDY WOODRUFF: You have also been looking, though, at state and local races and the money they are raising. LISA DESJARDINS: This is important, because, as much as we're talking about billions, historic amounts of money for control of Congress, we're also seeing historic numbers for many of the races across the United States.
We have 46 state legislatures up on the ballot this year. And let's look at what we know about this. We are seeing record spending for control of those state legislatures by both parties across the country. And just secretary of state races alone -- we know
that's such an important race right now, as we talk about our democracy -- those candidates have raised $50 million, which really is an unheard-of figure for that kind of what used to be seen as a government process office. And just one example, the Arizona secretary of state race, in which we have unknown election denier on the Republican side running, that race alone right now is well over $10 million. And that could be even more.
I know it's millions, not billions. It's easy to lose track. But in secretary of state races, that's a massive amount of money. And what's happening here is, those election deniers, so-called election deniers on the ballot, when we talk to the Brennan Center for Justice, they say they're having an effect on just bringing in money for both sides. Here's Dan Weiner from the Brennan center.
DANIEL WEINER, Brennan Center for Justice: Those candidates raise a lot of money nationally, and, actually, so do their opponents, because of the sense that the stakes are incredibly high for democracy in those elections. But I think that this is the wave of the future in some sense, that we're going to see a lot more money and a lot more corresponding ideology in elections that were previously considered somewhat sleepy. LISA DESJARDINS: This is a shift, he's saying, in how elections work.
But one other thing I want to say. This money obviously is very important. People -- voters are going to be getting the effects of it. They will be seeing the ad, but it's not the only thing. Both sides, sources are telling me they think the election atmosphere, they
think the candidates themselves are just as important right now. But it is sort of like a nuclear buildup on both sides that certainly voters will feel. JUDY WOODRUFF: Right in these final weeks, when people are paying more attention to these races.
Lisa Desjardins, thank you. LISA DESJARDINS: You're welcome. JUDY WOODRUFF: Speaking of politics, more than two million Americans have already cast their ballots in the midterm elections. And a new poll shows some good signs for the GOP in the final weeks; 49 percent of likely voters say they plan to vote for a Republican for Congress, compared with 45 percent who say they plan to vote for a Democrat. That is a five-point swing toward Republicans compared
with the same New York Times and Siena College poll conducted last month. Here now to analyze this and more our Politics Monday team, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report With Amy Walter and Tamara Keith of NPR. Hello to both of you. Are you getting nervous? It's three weeks away.
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: I can't wait. It's my favorite day of the year, Election Day. JUDY WOODRUFF: Always. AMY WALTER: Always. JUDY WOODRUFF: Bigger than birthdays.
AMY WALTER: Absolutely. JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, so we are three weeks away. And as you just saw in that poll, Amy, in New York Times/Siena, shift toward the Republicans, but not only that. Interesting. One of the questions in that poll asked people, what is your top issue? Back in July, 36 percent of respondents said it was the economy. Now it's 44 percent. That
is an 8 percentage point shift. What should we take away from that? AMY WALTER: With the obvious caveat, as we always do, this is one poll, et cetera... JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes. AMY WALTER: ... this is what we're hearing as well when I talk to campaigns and strategists,
that the bump that Democrats felt over the summer, I think it was a combination of the decision Roe vs. Wade, the so-called Dobbs decision, the fact that gas prices were going down a little bit, the intense focus on Donald Trump, Mar-a-Lago, January 6, et cetera, gave a really big boost to Democrats. It increased enthusiasm and it took the focus, at least the media focus, off the economy for a little while. But folks who are now tuning in, which there are a lot of voters
who have not been paying attention over the summer. They're tuning in, now three weeks until the election. It shouldn't be that surprising, when we have 40-year high inflation, that the issue of the economy is what's really driving these voters. It's what they're really, really focused
on. The other thing you will notice in that number is that it's not that the Democrats have lost ground. It's just that they haven't really gained ground. So they were at 45 percent earlier now, or at 46. Now they're at 45 percent, something like that. So, basically, what we're -- what I'm hearing from -- again, from sources in the campaigns is that Democrats may have maxed out that enthusiasm gap they got over the issue of abortion and that growing beyond that is going to be the challenge. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, this focus, Tam, on the economy, it comes as President Biden is out on the campaign trail several times a week. And I want to play for everyone. This is something that Senator Bernie Sanders has said in the
last few days about what Democrats ought to be doing. I'm going to come to you after this. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): I think Democrats have got the fight to make sure that it is women who control their own bodies, not the government. So I think this is a very important issue. But I don't believe it can be the only issue. It goes without saying that we have got to focus on the economy and demand that we have a government that works for all of us, and not just wealthy campaign contributors. JUDY WOODRUFF: So you have Senator Sanders saying, don't go out and just talk about the abortion -- about. Address what's on people's minds.
TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: Right. And I have to say, I don't know what campaign Senator Sanders is watching, because the campaign that I'm seeing out in the field traveling this last week with President Biden, looking at campaign ads from Democratic campaigns, what you have is, yes, their primary negative message about Republican candidates in a lot of these races is that they are against choice, that they could restrict abortion, that they want a national ban on abortion. That is the leading negative message from Democrats in a lot of races. However, they have a positive message. And their positive message is, we just passed the Inflation Reduction Act. They say that they are focused on kitchen table issues that Americans care about, like
the price of prescription drugs and the cost of energy. The Democrats, President Biden are talking -- President Biden, he is giving a speech tomorrow about abortion, but I just spent four days with him, and I don't think he publicly even mentioned the issue. It was all about the economy again and again and again. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Amy, he's talking about the economy. But what -- what's coming across to voters? AMY WALTER: Well, I was talking to a Democratic pollster today who said, look, the policies themselves, if you break it out and ask about the specifics in these pieces of legislation that Democrats have passed, specifically, the Inflation Reduction Act, they're popular. This sounds very familiar. It's like Obamacare. The individual pieces of Obamacare are popular,
but, overall, voters still give low ratings to the president and to Democrats on, who do you trust on inflation and who do you trust on the economy, which is why you're seeing as many ads, especially in these big battleground swing districts, where Democrats are talking about what Republicans would do if they got in charge. So we're hearing things about Social Security and, in the case of Arizona, a candidate, Republican candidate there, who has mentioned wanting to privatize Social Security, or the issues of, as Senator Sanders talked about, trying to make Republicans the party of the special interests and big business, so not necessarily -- I think they appreciate, we're the party in charge. We're going to get the blame when things are going wrong. It's hard to make people feel the economy's better if they don't think it. But the risk -- what Democrats are saying is, the risk of change is more dangerous than sticking with the status quo that you're disappointed in. TAMARA KEITH: And I will say, just as I was on the road with President Biden, on a couple of occasions, he was asked by reporters economic questions, and he was a bit dismissive.
He said the economy is really strong when asked if he had any concerns about the economy. And I asked him about gas prices in Southern California, which are around $7 a gallon. JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. TAMARA KEITH: And he said, oh, well, gas prices are always high in California.
They're not always that high. JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, so talking about it, but making the case is something else. Something else we have seen in the last few days -- and, Tam, I'm going to come to you first on this. TAMARA KEITH: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: Former President Trump on his -- one of his favorite social media platforms made this statement. This is after he looked at a recent poll about where American Jewish voters are, and his support among American Jewish voters, very low.
But here's his reaction. He said: "No president has done more for Israel than I have. Somewhat surprisingly, however, our wonderful evangelicals are far more appreciative of this than the people of the Jewish faith, especially those living in the U.S. U.S. Jews have to get their act together and appreciate what they have in Israel before it is too late!" TAMARA KEITH: This is not the first time that he has accused American Jews of disloyalty or of sort of tiptoeing around the antisemitic trope of dual loyalty, that they should be loyal to Israel, or that they are loyal to Israel.
And President Trump -- former President Trump, he's someone who just feels like everyone should support him if he's ever done anything for them. AMY WALTER: Yes. It's transactional. His politics have always been transactional: I did something for you. You should support me. I don't understand why this is a problem for you. But -- and he also -- he also touches into the issue of the fact that he does believe that he deserves support from voters simply because he has delivered on one piece of...
JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, delivered on a... AMY WALTER: On a policy. JUDY WOODRUFF: On a -- that affects Israel. But, just quickly, is this the kind of thing, quickly, Amy, that could change or affect vote? AMY WALTER: I think, with so many things that Donald Trump says, much of the reason he does it is because he wants us to talk about him, and he wants us to make sure that -- he wants to still be in the conversation. I think that, for so many voters, they hear this, they either choose to not process it and leave it be or it reinforces feelings they already have about this president. JUDY WOODRUFF: And here we are talking about it.
AMY WALTER: And here we are. TAMARA KEITH: Here we are. JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, see you next Monday.
In a new Broadway play, one of the world's greatest writers grapples with his own hidden past and its implications for our time. Jeffrey Brown talks with playwright Sir Tom Stoppard for our arts and culture series, Canvas. ACTOR: You are not looking.
(LAUGHTER) JEFFREY BROWN: The year is 1899, Vienna. ACTRESS: It is a beautiful star, darling, but it's not the star we put at the top of our Christmas tree. JEFFREY BROWN: The members of the Merz clan, an assimilated Jewish family in which a confused grandchild can put a Star of David atop a Christmas tree, feel themselves full members of our highly cultured Viennese society and Austro-Hungarian empire. Over the coming years and generations, they will learn how wrong they are. ACTOR: To a Gentile, I am a Jew. There isn't a Gentile anywhere who at one moment or another hasn't thought Jew.
JEFFREY BROWN: Nearly every family member we meet in the play "Leopoldstadt" will be killed or die as a result of the Holocaust. It's a devastating story of a family tree cut down, one that's impacting audiences and playwright Tom Stoppard himself in ways he hadn't expected. SIR TOM STOPPARD, Playwright: I came out very dry-eyed and quite happy with the show. A woman approached me. And she was drenched in tears. And I suddenly started crying with
her. I just went -- I just switched straight into her state of mind. And, actually, this is new with me. I have shed more tears over watching "Leopoldstadt" than the rest of my work put together. JEFFREY BROWN: Stoppard, now 85 and often described as the greatest living English playwright, has written some 37 plays and earned four Tony Awards. ACTOR: That woman is a woman! JEFFREY BROWN: He also won an Oscar for the screenplay of the movie "Shakespeare in Love."
"Leopoldstadt" is different and more personal, a kind of coming to terms with what he saw as the charmed life he'd lived and all that it concealed. We talked recently at famed Broadway restaurant Sardi's. SIR TOM STOPPARD: And by the time I was an English schoolboy, then an English journalist, and then an English playwright, the idea of having a kind of charmed life was familiar to me, until it turned and bit me, because, finally, I felt rebuked by the attitude. JEFFREY BROWN: Tom Stoppard, the English playwright, was born Tomas Straussler in 1937 in Czechoslovakia. His parents, Jewish on both sides, took him and his brother to Singapore to escape the Nazi invasion. His father was killed by the Japanese, and his mother fled again, taking her sons to India, where she later married an Englishman.
At age 8, young Tom was brought to England, his Jewish past and family left behind. Was it a question of knowing, or a suppressed past, or a lack of desire to know about it? SIR TOM STOPPARD: All of the above. My mother was very relieved to have found sanctuary for herself and her two sons when the war ended. She didn't want to look back, and she never spoke about the past, except just very casually occasionally. And I also have to own up to not really having sufficient curiosity about it, partly because my mother didn't want to talk about it.
ACTOR: There are thousands leaving every month. The Office of Jewish Immigration can't get rid of the Jews fast enough. JEFFREY BROWN: "Leopoldstadt" is the result of years of reckoning with a history Stoppard only learned about in full in his 50s, when a Czech relative told him that all four of his Jewish grandparents and three of his mother's sisters had been murdered by the Nazis. The play's family is not his, but their experiences would have been similar. ACTRESS: By miracle, Hermann has kept the business going through war, revolution, inflation and now Anschluss, and saved it for Jacob. Why give it all away now?
ACTOR: The Nazis will take it. JEFFREY BROWN: The Nazis do take, all of it, the business, the home, and most of their lives. And then Stoppard gives us a final scene set after the war in 1955.
ACTRESS: No more family business. ACTOR: And not much family, a New Yorker, an Austrian, and a clean young Englishman. JEFFREY BROWN: With three survivors, one of them a young Englishman, who'd come to his new country at age 8 and was oblivious to the Holocaust horror and toll on his own family. ACTOR: I'm sorry you had a rotten war.
ACTOR: A rotten war? ACTOR: Yes, I'm sorry. JEFFREY BROWN: A stand-in for Stoppard himself. SIR TOM STOPPARD: The boy in the play is rebuked in the woods, you live as if without history.
And that was rather me. JEFFREY BROWN: The specific line is: "You live as if without history, as if you throw no shadow behind you." That was you? SIR TOM STOPPARD: Yes. Yes. And I guess this play "Leopoldstadt" is the shadow behind me.
JEFFREY BROWN: The play also, he knows, has a new relevance and force to it... MARCHERS: Jews will not replace us! JEFFREY BROWN: .. as overt antisemitism has been on the rise around the globe. SIR TOM STOPPARD: There's a line in the play where the young man says to the Jewish survivor, he says, it can't happen again. And it feels such a clunky line. It's a line plucked from the clunkiness of how long people have been in the past. But it's inescapable now.
JEFFREY BROWN: It's resonating again. SIR TOM STOPPARD: It's certainly resonating. And all kinds of things are now happening in America, as in Europe, which you would not have anticipated a generation ago, half-a-generation ago. JEFFREY BROWN: After "Leopoldstadt" premiered in London just before the pandemic began, Stoppard caused tremors in the theater world by suggesting this could be his final play.
Now, as it stuns audiences on Broadway, he's resolved to continue. SIR TOM STOPPARD: I don't know what the thing is that I'm going to be turned on by. And it could be anything. And that is my situation as I sit here talking to you, Jeff. It could be anything. And I'd like to get back to my desk and write another play.
JEFFREY BROWN: "Leopoldstadt" is scheduled to run through March 12. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown on Broadway. JUDY WOODRUFF: A new film on PBS focuses on another group that has been the target of discrimination here in the U.S. Later this evening, "Rising Against Asian Hate: One Day in March" explains how the killing of six women in Atlanta in March 2021 became a watershed moment in addressing violence against Asians and Pacific Islanders. The documentary chronicles the troubling escalation of hate and spotlights the movement to turn grief and anger into action. NARRATOR: The shootings in Atlanta revealed that prosecuting hate crimes aimed at Asian Americans presents unique challenges compared to other targeted groups.
MAN: We had a lot of instances where there were nooses found in a workplace. We know what that means. It was geared towards intimidating Black workers. In the Jewish community, there is the Nazi symbol. But towards the Asian American community, we don't have one symbol or multiple symbols that really solidify the ideology against Asian Americans. So, it makes it a little bit tougher, so you have to really look and dig to find evidence of that motive. JUDY WOODRUFF: The film "Rising Against Asian Hate" premieres at 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight
on PBS. And that's the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff. Join us online and again here tomorrow evening. For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon.