May 24, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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May 24, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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05/24/2023 | 56m 45s | Video has closed captioning.
May 24, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Good evening.
I'm William Brangham.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz in Uvalde, Texas.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: Families mark one year since the mass shooting at Robb Elementary, as they wrestle with still-unanswered questions about the police response and where their community goes from here.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Then: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announces he's running for president.
How his bid could shape the Republican race.
AMNA NAWAZ: And NGOs push the Taliban to lift restrictions on employing women, so they can deliver vital aid to Afghans amid the worsening humanitarian crisis.
JAN EGELAND, Secretary-General, Norwegian Refugee Council: It's beyond catastrophic, really, because we are probably having the highest number of people in acute need of humanitarian aid anywhere in the world.
(BREAK) WILLIAM BRANGHAM: One year ago, today, a gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 21 people, including 19 children.
It was one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history.
AMNA NAWAZ: Here in Uvalde, those 21 families are still mourning their loss.
The survivors are living with trauma.
And a community is still searching for answers.
Among those we spoke to here is Javier Cazares.
His 9-year-old daughter, Jackie Cazares, was among those killed today.
And Javier says, one year later, he's struggling to move on.
AMNA NAWAZ: How often do you think about that day?
JAVIER CAZARES, Father of Shooting Victim: Every day.
AMNA NAWAZ: Every day.
JAVIER CAZARES: It's nonstop.
It's a nightmare we can't -- I can't wake up from.
AMNA NAWAZ: One year ago, Javier Cazares frantically waited with other parents outside Robb Elementary as gunshots rang out.
Trapped inside, his 9-year-old daughter, Jackie, who loved dancing, and dogs, and dreamed of one day going to Paris.
JAVIER CAZARES: She was the light of our life, sassy, funny, a little jerk sometimes.
She just had that spark in her life where she touched people.
AMNA NAWAZ: Jackie was one of 19 fourth-graders and two teachers killed by an 18-year-old gunman with an AR-15-style rifle in one of the worst mass shootings in Texas history.
You dropped her off that day.
JAVIER CAZARES: Yes, ma'am.
AMNA NAWAZ: Do you remember the last thing you said to her?
JAVIER CAZARES: I blew her a kiss goodbye.
And she did the same.
And that was the last time I saw her.
AMNA NAWAZ: Dr. Roy Guerrero was at the hospital that day as children were brought in.
DR. ROY GUERRERO, Uvalde Pediatrician: I still don't believe it.
I still can't believe what I saw.
These are 9- and 10-year-old little kids ripped apart, that they had to in some instances smear blood on themselves to survive.
AMNA NAWAZ: Dr. G, as he's known, is Uvalde's only pediatrician.
Five of the victims were his patients.
Many of the survivors still are.
DR. ROY GUERRERO: By no means are any of these children back to normal.
I have kids that are terrified to even step back in the classroom again.
I have kids that are in full-blown PTSD, having nightmares and being paranoid and seeing the killer and feeling that he's coming after them.
And, so, yes, I don't think there is true healing from this, even in the long term.
AMNA NAWAZ: In the year since the shooting, residents and media have fought for more information like security camera and body camera footage to be released.
Questions remain about why it took nearly 400 officers on the scene an astonishing 77 minutes before they confronted the gunman, even as emergency calls poured in, some from students stuck inside.
MAN: He's inside the school shooting at the kids!
EMERGENCY DISPATCHER: Uvalde County 911.
STUDENT: There's a school shooting, Robb Elementary School.
STUDENT: Send help.
Some of my teachers are still alive, but they're shot.
AMNA NAWAZ: Days after the shooting, the head of the state's Public Safety Department admitted waiting was a mistake.
STEVEN MCCRAW, Director, Texas Department of Public Safety: From the benefit of hindsight, where I'm sitting now, of course, it was not the right decision.
It was the wrong decision, period.
AMNA NAWAZ: An investigation by Texas lawmakers later found systemic failures.
But families of those killed want answers and accountability.
They have packed school board meetings, demanding officers be fired and security improved.
They filed a class-action lawsuit against the city, school district, and multiple law enforcement agencies.
PROTESTERS: Raise the age!
AMNA NAWAZ: And they have pushed for gun violence reform, like raising the age to purchase a semiautomatic weapon in Texas from 18 to 21.
That effort failed in the state legislature.
BRETT CROSS, Uncle and Guardian of Shooting Victim: Why do these people who sit in power sit there and do absolutely nothing while our children are slaughtered?
AMNA NAWAZ: Brett Cross' 10-year-old son, Uziyah Garcia, was killed that day.
BRETT CROSS: I'm not a political person.
All I want is justice and accountability for my son, his classmates and teachers.
That's all I want.
And I don't want any other child to go through what my son did.
I don't want any other parent to have to have a funeral for their child.
AMNA NAWAZ: Robb Elementary is shuttered.
Officials plan to demolish it.
Last fall, Uvalde students returned to other classrooms, but not all of them.
Do you ever miss being in school, in a classroom?
ZAYON MARTINEZ, Student: Kind of.
AMNA NAWAZ: Nine-year-old Zayon was at Robb in second grade during the shooting.
Since that day, he's refused to return to a classroom, and only attends virtually.
ADAM MARTINEZ, Father of Zayon Martinez: Imagine if you were a child, an 8, 9, or 10-year-old child, and you know that your friends got slaughtered, to where you couldn't even identify them.
AMNA NAWAZ: His father, Adam, raised in Uvalde, has become an activist and a leading voice for parents whose children survived that day.
ADAM MARTINEZ: You will see a lot of survivor's guilt.
People hold it in because they're like, well, my son survived, my daughter survived.
So a lot of times, they're afraid to speak out.
But it hurts when you hold it in.
And, sometimes, you just got to say what you feel, because he was there and he's not the same child anymore.
JAVIER CAZARES: It catches her eyes beautifully.
AMNA NAWAZ: Every week, Javier visits Jackie's mural downtown.
He's on a mission to remember and fight for change.
JAVIER CAZARES: And it hasn't happened.
And it is saddening, because, I mean, what more does it take?
I mean, it's our babies.
AMNA NAWAZ: He checks on her cross at the town square memorial.
That's the same photo that you have on your shirt, right?
JAVIER CAZARES: Yes, ma'am.
AMNA NAWAZ: What's that from?
JAVIER CAZARES: from her first communion.
She had her first communion on Mother's Day of last year.
And that's actually what we buried her in as well.
AMNA NAWAZ: And back home, he's kept her room exactly as she left it that day.
You haven't touched it in the last year?
JAVIER CAZARES: No.
AMNA NAWAZ: Why not?
JAVIER CAZARES: Well, I mean, that's how she had it.
And then she was particular, but, I mean, she had her things nice and neat.
She had her shirt and shorts folded up nice and neat.
And so I didn't want to bother that.
That is something that, if I change it, I'm going to miss.
AMNA NAWAZ: Do you go in the room?
JAVIER CAZARES: I go in there maybe twice, three times a day.
Of course, and then, before we go to bed, I pray like when she was there.
Sometimes, on a certain day, I just go and talk.
I just walk around and just look at everything in there.
I'm sure fathers say this about their daughters all the time, but she was special.
AMNA NAWAZ: The pain is still so fresh here for these families.
But last year opened up new divides here in this community over how to move forward, not just on accountability, but also on gun violence prevention -- William.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And, meanwhile, back here in Washington, President Biden also marked the anniversary of this tragedy, and he again appealed for congressional action.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: How many more parents will live their worst nightmare before we stand up the gun lobby to establish universal background checks, establish a national red flag laws, require safe storage of firearms, and end immunity from liability for gun manufacturers, the only -- the only major corporate entity that doesn't have this immunity to liability?
Even a majority of responsible gun owners support these commonsense actions to save lives and keep our communities safe.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This concern about guns and the violence that I done with them is growing in this country.
Our latest "NewsHour"/NPR/Marist poll finds that four in 10 Americans believe schools in their own communities are not safe from gun violence.
Half of all U.S. parents with kids under 18 know someone who has experienced gun violence, and six out of 10 Americans now say it's more important to control gun violence than to protect gun rights.
That's up 11 percent since the Sandy Hook massacre.
But Republicans and Democrats have long had very different views about what practically can be done.
And that brings us back to Amna in Uvalde.
AMNA NAWAZ: Former Republican Congressman Will Hurd is one of just a few in his party calling for meaningful gun reform.
He represented Uvalde for six years in Congress serving Texas' 23rd Congressional District.
And I spoke with him just moments ago.
Thanks for joining us here.
REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): Of course.
AMNA NAWAZ: You heard some of the frustration from those families about the lack of action after their children and loved ones were killed.
What's your message to them as you're here today?
REP. WILL HURD: Well, the message to the families is, I'm sorry, and keep fighting, and keep telling the stories, right, because that's what's going to ultimately get these elected officials to come around.
I can't even begin to imagine what the loss of a child, right, and it's the worst -- it's the worst pain that anybody can ever have.
And, unfortunately, I saw that at a young age, when I was at Texas A&M University, when a bonfire collapsed, different story, different issue, right, but having a talk to parents when I was 22.
They say -- parents asked me, don't let this happen to anybody, I just don't know how any elected official that is talking to a parent who has suffered the worst loss that they will ever have just is not willing to do some of these commonsense things that could solve this problem.
We know, if you move -- if you turn the age to have a high-caliber rifle to go from 18 to 21, which is -- it's -- you have to be 21 to get a handcuff -- that alone would have changed Uvalde, and would have changed the lives of 21 families.
And so, to the parents, that I know it's hard for them to wake up during the day.
I know it's hard for them to sit in the room of their child, their 9-year-old child who is gone.
But it's going to be -- it's going to be their efforts and telling their stories that is going to see some change.
We saw it here in Texas at the Statehouse.
AMNA NAWAZ: Yes.
REP. WILL HURD: Now, that piece of legislation didn't become signed into law.
AMNA NAWAZ: That's right.
REP. WILL HURD: But it was movement.
And it was because of the parents of Uvalde.
AMNA NAWAZ: Let me ask you about some of the things you have been calling for specifically, because, as you have mentioned in a recent piece you wrote for "The Atlantic," some of those measures, like raising that age from 18 to 21, or criminal background checks, red flag laws, those have broad support in among the American public.
REP. WILL HURD: Right.
AMNA NAWAZ: But so did universal background checks.
REP. WILL HURD: That's right.
AMNA NAWAZ: And when you were in Congress, you were one of just a handful of Republicans to vote for that.
REP. WILL HURD: Right.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, if your Republican colleagues couldn't vote for that back then, what makes you think they'd vote for something the majority of Americans support today?
REP. WILL HURD: Well, look, it's a good question.
And I wish I had the answers, right?
And I think I was one of eight maybe back then, when that happened.
And the reality is, responsible gun owners believe in background checks, right?
Like, I don't know anybody who owns a gun who hasn't been through a background check.
People that, whether this is their livelihood, or they do it for sport or whatever, like, responsible gun owners believe people should have a background check.
That's that simple.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, what is keeping the majority of Republicans from supporting that?
REP. WILL HURD: Look, lot of Republicans are concerned that they're going to have people on Twitter or social media criticize them, and be like, oh, this is going to impact you in an election in the future, and you're going to potentially lose a primary.
That's ultimately the fear.
And... AMNA NAWAZ: Is that a valid fear?
REP. WILL HURD: I don't think it's a valid fear, right, because I always tell people, like, listen, I have, as -- the similar problems and a primary that anybody else had, right?
And I was still able to survive, because you have got to be willing to go and explain why these things matter.
And I'm sorry.
Like, you just can't look a parent in the eye and feel like there's nothing you can do.
And if somebody says, there's nothing you can do, they're lying, right, because there are several commonsense steps that are supported by Republican primary voters, that are supported by Democratic primary voters that prevent this metamorphosis of someone into a mass murderer.
AMNA NAWAZ: I want to ask you about the mental health piece of this too.
REP. WILL HURD: Yes.
AMNA NAWAZ: You have called for that.
A number of others have as well.
As you know, after the Uvalde shooting, there was a bipartisan congressional bill, had some gun control measures, also had a billion dollars in school funding for mental health staff.
REP. WILL HURD: Sure.
AMNA NAWAZ: The majority of Republicans did vote against that.
So how do you see the actions of your Republican colleagues matching up with the calls for more mental health resources?
REP. WILL HURD: Sure.
Well, look, I think the proof is in the pudding, right?
People always want to talk a big game, but it depends on -- it depends on your actions.
And when we look at -- well, first off, we need to start treating mental health in the United States as health, because it is.
Do people know who to call?
If somebody are -- today, this afternoon, gets -- sees something on social media that someone they know are going to -- are exhibiting a dangerous behavior, do they know what to do and who to call?
And if they do find the right person to call, does that -- do they have the resources to respond to that to prevent that action from happening?
And these are some of the basic infrastructure that's not in place, also some of the basic training that you don't have in schools and in businesses on how to -- on how to respond when you have this.
So, look, a lot of people talk a big game.
It's in their action.
But here's ultimately what's going to have to happen.
For people that care about this, more than half of our teenagers are worried about going to school because they think they're going to get shot.
That's 25 million kids.
And then add the parents on top of that, right, who are equally as concerned.
If you don't think that is a problem, right - - or if you're one of those people that are concerned, then you need to get involved.
You need to go vote and not just vote in November.
You have got to vote in primaries .You got to get more -- and I don't care what your political affiliation is.
You got to say, hey, this -- enough is enough.
And there's always people in those primaries that probably are a little bit better than what our options are in November.
That's the kind of activism that we're going to need in order to see and change abilities.
AMNA NAWAZ: In the few seconds I have left, speaking of primaries, you were asked recently if you would join the Republican primary presidential field.
You said you would make a decision by Memorial Day weekend.
That is this weekend.
REP. WILL HURD: Sure.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, are you running?
REP. WILL HURD: So, actually, I said I'd make a decision soon, right?
And if I have the opportunity to serve my country, I will.
And I plan on making a decision real soon.
AMNA NAWAZ: OK. Former Congressman Will Hurd, thank you for joining us.
REP. WILL HURD: Thank you.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In the day's other headlines: Talks on raising the nation's debt limit and Republican demands to curb federal spending in exchange shifted to the White House, but there is no deal yet.
This morning, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said negotiators remained far apart.
But both sides said they're still hopeful.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I am not going to give up.
We're not going to default.
We're going to solve this problem.
I will stay with it until we can get it done.
But let's be honest about this.
We have to spend less than we spent last year.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, White House Press Secretary: They remain to be productive.
We believe that, if it continues to work -- if they continue to work in good faith and recognize that neither side is going to get what they want, we can get this done.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Later, Speaker McCarthy said things went better in this afternoon's talks.
If there is no agreement, the nation could begin defaulting on its debts around June 1.
A super typhoon pounded Guam today with sustained winds of 140 miles an hour and torrential rains.
It crawled across the island's northern tip as the most powerful storm there in decades, and then it headed west.
Forecasters warned that Guam could get as much as 25 inches of rain, on top of a storm surge that's four to six feet high.
Many communities lost power, and at least one hotel was wrecked.
There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.
Germany's government has launched a crackdown on climate protesters who have blocked roads and glued themselves to various artworks across Europe.
Today police raided 15 properties links to activists known as Last Generation.
It's part of an investigation into the group's finances.
It came days after the German chancellor branded the group completely nutty.
The country's interior minister defended today's actions.
NANCY FAESER, German Interior Minister (through translator): Today's measures show that the rule of law does not allow to being taken for a fool.
The police and the judiciary do not accept crimes, but they act, as is their duty.
The red line in the constitutional state is quite clear.
Legitimate protest always ends where crimes are committed and the rights of others are violated.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The activists insisted they will not be cowed and will instead keep pressuring governments to do more to address climate change.
In Sudan, sporadic clashes broke out today in Khartoum and elsewhere, despite a cease-fire between the army and a rival paramilitary group.
The U.N. Migration Agency reported that these five weeks of fighting have forced more than 1.3 million people to flee their homes.
Of those, some 320,000 have crossed into neighboring countries, as the humanitarian burden spreads across the region.
Back in this country, the Texas legislature has approved new standards for letting school libraries ban books that are deemed sexually inappropriate.
The Republican bill went to the governor last night, despite objections that it is vague and could be used to target any works with LGBTQ content.
Meanwhile, Montana's Republican governor signed a bill that bans anyone in drag costume from reading to children in public schools and libraries.
The Supreme Court's chief justice, John Roberts, now says the court must do more to address ethics concerns.
That follows reports of Justice Clarence Thomas accepting expensive trips and other gifts from a Texas businessman, but not disclosing them.
Roberts addressed the issue last night in a speech in Washington.
He didn't mention Thomas or offer any specifics.
JOHN ROBERTS, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court: I want to assure people that I am committed to making certain that we as a court adhere to the highest standards of conduct.
We are continuing to look at things we can do to give practical effect to that commitment.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The justices recently signed a statement of ethics, but that has done little to quiet the demands for stronger action.
And, on Wall Street, worries about the debt ceiling talks weighed on the market again.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 255 points to close below 32800.
The Nasdaq fell 76 points.
And the S&P 500 gave up 30.
And a legendary performer in the music industry has died.
Tina Turner passed away today at her home in Switzerland.
Stephanie Sy looks back on her remarkable life and career.
STEPHANIE SY: She was the undisputed queen of rock 'n' roll, a Black woman who conquered every stage with unleashed sexuality, power, and raw emotion.
In a career spanning eight decades, Tina Turner sold more than 100 million records, won 12 Grammys and in 2021 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Born in the Tennessee Delta, Turner rose to fame with Ike Turner.
The Ike and Tina Turner Revue broke out with a bevy of hits, including "Proud Mary."
Turner's soulful rasp and stage presence enthralled fans.
But, behind the scenes, she was a victim of domestic abuse.
Turner endured more than a decade of husband Ike Turner's beatings and infidelity.
The late Ike once broke her jaw.
Years later, she explained why she stayed as long as she did in the relationship to Australian "60 Minutes."
TINA TURNER, Musician: It became a way of life.
It was on hold, I'd have to say, as far as I can remember now.
I had put everything on hold because it was just an existence of children being involved, debts.
Where is it to go?
Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
QUESTION: Thousands of women watching this program in that very situation.
TINA TURNER: Yes.
QUESTION: What advice would you give?
TINA TURNER: My advice is make up your mind, and don't go back.
I was prepared to go through whatever I had to go through with Ike Turner, even if it was death, because I would never go back.
STEPHANIE SY: She did initially struggle.
Getting a solo recording contract wasn't easy.
But when she did come back, it was by storm with the 1984 album "Private Dancer."
By then in her mid-40s, the album's song "What's Love Got to Do With It" became her best-selling single.
After her comeback, she published a groundbreaking autobiography.
"I, Tina" was adapted to the silver screen with Tina Turner played by Angela Bassett.
As a live performer, Turner was an original, inspiring the likes of Mick Jagger and Beyonce, the moves and that voice.
She was simply the best.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Stephanie Sy.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Tina Turner was 83 years old.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": how the Taliban's restrictions on women are hindering the delivery of much-needed foreign aid; and actor Rainn Wilson shares what he's learned from his journeys around the world in search of well-being.
The race for president has a new big-name candidate.
Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis officially announces his campaign today in an anticipated audio interview with Elon Musk on Twitter and on this online video.
RON DESANTIS (R-FL), Presidential Candidate: In Florida, we have proved that it can be done.
We chose facts over fear, education over indoctrination, law and order over rioting and disorder.
We held the line when freedom hung in the balance.
We showed that we can and must revitalize America.
We need the courage to lead and the strength to win.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The Republican governor is a headline-generating machine, shaping national fights over COVID policies, education, corporate speech, and immigration.
But he faces an uphill climb against his former ally, now turned antagonist, Donald Trump.
Lisa Desjardins reports.
RON DESANTIS: Florida is where woke goes to die!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) LISA DESJARDINS: He heard cheers early as a Florida kid making it to the Little League World Series.
A baseball player at Yale as well, he then went on to Harvard Law School.
From there, DeSantis chose the military.
As an officer with the Navy's Judge Advocate General, he worked at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
One former detainee alleges DeSantis oversaw beatings and forced feedings of prisoners, which he has denied.
He also served in Iraq and was awarded a Bronze Star.
In 2012, DeSantis rode the Tea Party wave into Congress, where he opposed Obama administration policies, but rarely stood out.
That changed in 2018.
NARRATOR: They call him a conservative's conservative.
LISA DESJARDINS: Then 39, DeSantis made his move, running for governor of the Sunshine State.
Initially trailing in the primary, DeSantis launched an all-out blitz for then-President Trump's endorsement, putting his young family in the most famous ad of the year.
RON DESANTIS: Then Mr. Trump said, "You're fired."
I love that part.
LISA DESJARDINS: He won Trump's endorsement, the primary and then a razor-thin victory in November to become governor.
RON DESANTIS: All I can promise is the sweat off my brow, a full heart, my best judgment and the courage of my convictions.
LISA DESJARDINS: Governor DeSantis made a national name for himself in the COVID pandemic, quickly ending stay-at-home orders and opposing mask and vaccine mandates.
The state saw a wave of deaths, but a boom to the economy.
RON DESANTIS: If you are trying to lock people down, I am standing in your way and I am standing for the people of Florida.
LISA DESJARDINS: That kind of cultural confrontation has become his brand.
In 2021, the state's Department of Education enacted a ban on teaching Critical Race Theory in schools, though it had not part of state curriculum.
He used state resources to fly migrants from the Southern border to places like Martha's Vineyard.
In 2022, he signed the Parental Rights in Education Act, banning talk of sexual orientation and gender identity before fourth grade.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) PROTESTER: We say gay!
LISA DESJARDINS: Critics call the law don't say gay.
When the Walt Disney Company, Florida's largest employer, openly opposed the law, DeSantis launched a new fight.
RON DESANTIS: This state is governed by the interests of the people of the state of Florida.
It is not based on the demands of California corporate executives.
LISA DESJARDINS: Disney and DeSantis have wrestled ever since, with the company recently pulling out of a billion-dollar development in the state.
This year, he signed a law banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and has questioned the U.S. involvement in the war in Ukraine.
Through it all, his policies became a blueprint for other Republicans.
But one ally has turned cold.
DONALD TRUMP, Former President of the United States: The problem with Ron DeSanctimonious is that he needs a personality transplant.
And those are not yet available.
LISA DESJARDINS: Time will tell if the governor who has driven conversation on the right can steer his way to the White House.
For more on how Ron DeSantis' campaign launch could shake up the GOP primary race, I'm joined by another Florida man, Republican Carlos Curbelo, who served in Congress with DeSantis.
Congressman, let's start with this unique announcement, audio only, on Twitter.
Why do you think it's not a rally or something more traditional?
REP. CARLOS CURBELO (R-FL): Well, I think Ron DeSantis wants to create a generational distinction between him and Donald Trump, his main rival in this Republican primary.
So this is his way of saying: I'm different.
I'm a younger, better version than Donald Trump.
I'm someone who can appeal to the rising generations of voters, which Republicans will increasingly need to rely on if they're going to win national elections.
LISA DESJARDINS: About a year ago, when I was talking to Republican voters.
The name Ron DeSantis, was echoing, but not so much now.
And even we have seen in the last few days some of those running against him, like Nikki Haley, are mocking him.
She had an ad out today where she shows his hands next to Donald Trump hands.
They're saying he's Trump-light or a fake Trump.
What is his path?
Is there one for him to beat Donald Trump?
REP. CARLOS CURBELO: Well, one of the challenges for Ron DeSantis, Lisa, is that he peaked in November of last year.
He had a big reelection here in Florida winning, nearly 60 percent of the votes, something unheard of in this perennial swing state.
And a lot of people will make the argument that he's actually pushed Florida into becoming a red state now, at least a pink state.
So DeSantis was on top of the political universe.
And, yes, a lot of people would call that peaking too early.
He had some stumbles.
Former President Trump started aggressively attacking him.
And he was kind of making the case for a long time that he was basically the same as Donald Trump, just a little better, a little more disciplined.
And it does seem that that would be a difficult argument to make.
If you want to make a compelling case for change, if Donald Trump is so popular in the Republican primary electorate, and you want to convince people that they should choose you, instead of him, that argument DeSantis was making really wasn't resonating.
LISA DESJARDINS: But he has certainly become a cultural warrior on issues like what teachers can say about race in their classroom.
He has targeted the LGBTQ community.
He's a lightning rod.
What does that mean for his campaign?
Certainly, that's helped him with some people.
But what do you think about that?
REP. CARLOS CURBELO: So, ironically, DeSantis has been telling people for a while that he needs to be the nominee because Donald Trump can't win.
And now Trump and his campaign have kind of flipped that argument, saying, DeSantis has gone so far to the right on a lot of these social and cultural issues, that he's the one who would have trouble gaining centrist voters support in a general election.
So, just to give you an idea of how far on DeSantis went to the right, Donald Trump is criticizing him on abortion.
Donald Trump is criticizing him for his brawl with Disney, which has now convinced the company - - or dissuaded the company from investing a billion dollars in the state and creating 2,000 new jobs here.
So, certainly, what Ron DeSantis did during this last legislative session to build his record for a primary electorate could end up hurting him in a general election.
And his chief rival, his former mentor and ally, Donald Trump, is making the same argument.
LISA DESJARDINS: Who do you think Democrats should be most afraid of in the Republican field for president?
REP. CARLOS CURBELO: Well, conventional wisdom is that a new fresh Republican face that can bring in new people into the Republican coalition, that won't scare away critical suburban swing voters is the most dangerous type of candidate for President Biden, because there would be a huge contrast in terms of age, in terms of generational differences.
Can Ron DeSantis be that candidate?
It did seem that way six months ago.
Now he does seem more human.
His feet are certainly on the ground.
And in these first few weeks of the campaign, it's going to be critical for him to prove himself again and to show he can be that Republican candidate that consolidates Republican support, brings all Republicans together, and can also reach to the left and bring in some swing voters and even maybe some moderate Democrats into the Republican coalition.
LISA DESJARDINS: Former Congressman Carlos Curbelo, thank you so much for talking with us.
We will keep in touch with you over this interesting election season.
REP. CARLOS CURBELO: Thank you.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Afghanistan is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.
Nearly two years since the Taliban took power, Afghans are facing extreme levels of poverty, and many are dependent on aid for their very survival.
But the Taliban's crackdown on women makes delivering that crucial help even harder.
The Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan has hurt many, but there rule has cut women the deepest.
Most of those in this Kabul factory try to earn a meager living as tailors.
But it's a far cry from what they dreamed of before.
Hafiza in the back used to be a law student at Kabul University.
HAFIZA, Former College Student (through translator): The worst situation is when your dreams are shuttered and you are punished for being a woman.
We are not even allowed to study and get educated.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What women are allowed to do in today's Afghanistan depends on the Taliban's strict interpretation of Islamic law.
They are barred from public spaces and most forms of employment.
They can't go to school beyond sixth grade.
And, most recently, they're barred from working for any NGOs, including the U.N.
This has upended their lives, but also those of the Afghans whose survival depends on the delivery of humanitarian aid.
ANTONIO GUTERRES, United Nations Secretary-General: Let me be crystal clear.
We will never be silent in the face of unprecedented systemic attacks on women and girls' rights.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But experts tell "PBS NewsHour" U.N. agencies are now divided on the best path forward.
In some cases, they have resumed male-only operations.
We spoke to one U.N. worker.
She asked to remain anonymous, for fear of losing her job.
U.N. WORKER IN AFGHANISTAN: Some females, they are the only person who financially support their families.
So, if they cannot work, so how they can support their family financially?
Everyone is worrying, and they're concerning about their jobs.
Actually, in here, I cannot express totally what we are feeling.
Every girl, every woman, they really lost their hope.
They cannot educate.
They cannot go to the courses.
Even they cannot go to the parks.
All the time, they are at home, which really depress everyone.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis in the country is worsening, fueled by drought and a cratered economy; 97 percent of Afghans now live in extreme poverty.
Earlier this year, the U.N. launched an appeal for $4.6 billion dollars, but that remains largely unfunded.
Foreign aid groups like the Norwegian Refugee Council, or NRC, are calling on the Taliban to lift restrictions so they can continue to deliver humanitarian assistance.
NRC Secretary-General Jan Egeland met with key Taliban officials this week to try and press them to reverse the ban.
I spoke with him earlier today from Kabul.
Jan Egeland, thank you so much for being here.
It has been almost two years now since the Taliban took over.
And we know that conditions are worsening in Afghanistan.
Can you give us a sense of the humanitarian situation right now?
JAN EGELAND, Secretary-General, Norwegian Refugee Council: It's beyond catastrophic, really.
And it is very strange that there is not more of the limelight on Afghanistan, because we are probably having the highest number of people in acute need of humanitarian aid anywhere in the world; 28 million to 30 million people need help.
Millions and millions are now acutely malnourished.
I'm talking about children, breast-feeding mothers.
It's beyond belief, the suffering.
And, at the same time, we have problems in accessing population because of the ban on our female workers.
And we have donors who are turning their back to Afghanistan.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Can you explain why the ban on women working for organizations like yours makes it hard to do your work in Afghanistan?
JAN EGELAND: Really, two reasons.
First is, we cannot work without our women, because, according to the Afghan tradition, long before the Taliban, many men could not really contact, work with women outside of the family.
So when they say, work with your men only, the men cannot go to the widows, to single mother-led households and so on.
We would not do good work.
The other reason is also, we will not cast aside half of our work force.
What kind of precedent with that set for Afghanistan and for other countries that may contemplate that?
We were stopped to work the day after Christmas, when this ban came.
Little by little, we have been able now to get exemptions, so now we're back to three-quarters of an operation of what we had at the end of last year.
But we really should have had a much bigger operation, because the needs are growing.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You recently met with Taliban officials, and we know the Taliban is an atomized organization.
But do you have any sense that the leadership in Kandahar or Kabul actually has control over the entire country?
JAN EGELAND: I think, yes, it's perhaps a more coherent movement than we believe.
But there is -- it is very clear that they disagree on a number of things.
Ministers here in Kabul, where I am now, disagree with the decision made by the emir in Kandahar, which was a ban on females working in our organizations, and, secondly, higher education, actually beyond primary school, for girls and women.
They say, we disagree.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The U.N. secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, referred to what the Taliban is doing there as gender-based apartheid.
I wonder, do you share that characterization?
And in your conversations with Taliban leadership, do you have any sense that they're -- that they will modify those positions at all?
JAN EGELAND: Well, I agree that we call -- call it apartheid.
Call it egregious, systematic gender discrimination.
When I talk to my female colleagues here, basically, they say: They took away cultural activities for us.
They took away the education for our daughters, and now they took away our work.
The hopelessness is heartbreaking.
But, at the same time, it's possible for us little by little to operate.
So when I met with the female staff today, a majority of them have been involved now in some kind of work.
We have exemptions for education.
We have for health work.
We have for some activities in some provinces.
Some can work from home and go to the fields, but not to the office, et cetera.
What they also told me, however, was that they're very disappointed with their -- with the Western donors, who gave all of these phenomenal promises, and where are they now, they ask.
We see donors' funding dwindling.
And that is why we in NRC have had to lay off male and female staff.
It's not the Taliban.
It's the donor cuts that forced us to lay off work now.
I came out of Kandahar actually with promises of guidelines now soon that could enable the national ban to be lifted, and specific agreement in Kandahar, which is one of the most conservative places in Afghanistan, for an interim measure that would allow females to come back and work for women in need in Afghanistan.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On that issue of donors pulling back their aid to organizations like yours, when you talk to those donors, how do they justify that to you, given the extent of the need there?
JAN EGELAND: Many of these are female ministers of development who say: No, we -- how can we fund a country with that kind of a regime that systematically trample on the rights of women?
We need to hold money back.
But my point is, we are then politicizing humanitarian relief, which is not going to the well-fed Taliban soldiers or leaders.
This is going to women and children.
So, it's the misconstrued belief that you are sort of punishing Taliban, when you're really actually undermining work for very poor people.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Someone who has dedicated their career to humanitarian issues like you have, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but this has got to feel like an -- I don't know, frustrating or infuriating circumstance.
JAN EGELAND: Absolutely heartbreaking.
I was first time in Afghanistan during the previous Taliban regime, where we tried also at that time to get girls' education going, and we couldn't.
Then came the 20-plus years of NATO, American-led operations, trillions spent on a failed military campaign.
And now seeing the lack of interest, it is Ukraine morning, evening.
Of course, it's now also for all of us Sudan, et cetera.
We cannot go away from the 40 million civilians whom they left behind.
We didn't leave.
We're here still.
They left behind 40 million civilians and went for the door in August of two years ago.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Jan Egeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council, thank you so much for being here.
JAN EGELAND: Thank you.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: There's a new series out this month about traveling the wide world looking for the happiest places on Earth.
You might be surprised by the travel guide, though, a man that many know for being stuck in an office.
Geoff Bennett caught up with actor Rainn Wilson to discuss his journey.
It's part of our arts and culture series, Canvas.
RAINN WILSON, Actor: I don't want to be this cold.
GEOFF BENNETT: Wilson travels far and wide, from Iceland.
RAINN WILSON: And I'm scared.
WOMAN: Your only goal now is to go in this ocean and surrender.
RAINN WILSON: All right.
WOMAN: Do you know what you have just done?
RAINN WILSON: I put have my country away.
GEOFF BENNETT: To Ghana.
WOMAN: Very important.
RAINN WILSON: Ready to start with a clean mind, an open mind, and new experience.
GEOFF BENNETT: And beyond in a six-part series called "Rainn Wilson and the Geography of Bliss."
Wilson is recognizable to many as Dwight Schrute from "The Office," the critically acclaimed mockumentary sitcom series that ran for nine seasons on NBC.
Over the years, he has taken on other projects from films such as "Juno"... RAINN WILSON: This is one doodle that can't be undid, home skillet.
GEOFF BENNETT: To more recently "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story."
While he continued the comedic work, he also turned inward, asking bigger life questions through a media company he founded called SoulPancake and with a book released this spring, "Soul Boom: Why We Need a Spiritual Revolution."
And welcome to the "NewsHour."
Rainn Wilson joined me from a recording studio to be to explain why he literally took the plunge.
With this new series, you wanted to find the key to inner happiness and you went around the world looking for it.
What did you discover?
RAINN WILSON: Iceland, Ghana, West Africa, Bulgaria and Thailand.
And then back to Los Angeles to see if I could take what I found about bliss, joy, happiness, well-being and apply it to my life back at home.
And to boil it all down, it's not any great mystery.
The thing that I really came away with in my heart about finding bliss is, it's all about connection.
It's all about community.
It's not a big surprise.
The people that were the most vital and lived the most meaningful lives did so in relationship with others.
GEOFF BENNETT: It's interesting.
I used the word happiness and you used the word bliss.
Do you see a difference between the two things?
RAINN WILSON: I do.
I have a -- personally, I have a problem with the word happiness, because happiness is a result of certain things being in place.
You know what I mean?
Like you, you lick an ice cream cone and a butterfly lands on your shoulder and you feel happy.
Well, the next day, you can go like an ice cream cone and wait for a butterfly and maybe feel miserable and anxious and worried about the next day.
So what are actions that you can take in your life, what are initiatives that you can take, what's an outlook that you can shift, a perspective to tweak in order to achieve what experts in that field really call well-being, you know, that sense of being connected, grounded, joyful, and alive and vibrant on the inside?
GEOFF BENNETT: In this series, you lay bare your personal challenges publicly.
How did you feel about that initially?
Was there any reservation?
RAINN WILSON: You know, maybe I have just been in therapy for too long.
I have no problem talking about my struggles and my issues, my traumas, difficulties that I have had.
And I talk about my anxiety disorder and depression and other issues.
And so, for me, this journey was a personal journey, as well as anything else.
I wanted to find out some of these answers that -- we Americans, we can be a little arrogant sometimes.
Maybe we have got something to learn from the people of Ghana and the people of Thailand and the people of Iceland.
And I was excited to try that out both on myself as kind of a guinea pig and to share my findings.
GEOFF BENNETT: Traveling to find contentment or bliss is not something that most people can do.
Based on your travels, how can people find that closer to home or within?
RAINN WILSON: What we're trying to do on the show is not that travel is going to make you happy, but what can we learn from other cultures that we can apply at home?
And I think that there is of a wealth of evidence out there for all kinds of the things that we're discovering.
For instance, in Iceland, I did a cold plunge in the Arctic Ocean with a group of powerful, amazing Viking women that every morning they sing songs and hold hands and they walk into the Arctic Ocean.
Well, cold plunge therapy is something that you can do at home.
You can do it in your shower.
You don't need to have a fancy cold plunge in order to do it.
And the Vikings have been doing it for thousands of years.
GEOFF BENNETT: There is a spiritual thread throughout your recent work, Rainn.
You also have a book calling for a spiritual revolution.
The book is called "Soul Boom."
And you write that we as a culture have discounted spirituality, that we have moved away from faith, we have moved away from the sacred, and that we need to return to it.
Tell me more about that.
RAINN WILSON: Well, the thesis of the book is that we have kind of thrown the spiritual baby out with the religious bathwater.
In Western culture, especially in big city America, we have so uniformly rejected religion, for -- a lot of times for very good reasons.
You know, we have suffered a lot of trauma at the hands of religion.
Some terrible acts of barbarity have been done in the name of an all-loving God.
And I understand why people have left.
But there are spiritual tools at the foundation of all of the world's great faith traditions that we can draw from that can transform our lives, and, more importantly, that we can use to help transform our society.
GEOFF BENNETT: How does being spiritual, being faithful translate to the work you do in Hollywood?
RAINN WILSON: Well, that's a great question.
They're often at odds.
But I do feel that, in the spirit of the divine creator, the creative force that pulses through every molecule in this physical plane and an infinite other number of planes past this one, that the act of entertaining can be a service.
And I think people that have loved and watched "The Office" for decades now feel a great sense of peace and calm and serenity in the watching of the show.
And it uplifts their hearts and souls.
And I get to be a part of that.
So there's a service element.
And that essential element of creating something where there's nothing, being an artist, there's a blank page, there's a blank stage, there's a silent room, and you get to be a part of creating something beautiful, rich, and magical.
I think that is a divine process.
I think there's a sacredness and a sublimity to it.
GEOFF BENNETT: I'd never thought of it in that way, that the work you do as an actor in some ways is a ministry.
On the other hand, to lots of people, you will forever be associated with your standout character on the office, Dwight Schrute.
As you see it, is that a blessing or a burden?
(LAUGHTER) RAINN WILSON: A little bit of both.
I mean, I played dozens of roles before I played Dwight, and I have played a good dozen or more since I finished playing Dwight.
That's the one that has found a nerve with audiences, and they love me for it.
And, listen, I'm so grateful.
I wouldn't have been able to write a book.
It has opened so many doors for me.
GEOFF BENNETT: Rainn Wilson, a real pleasure to speak with you.
Thanks for your time.
RAINN WILSON: Thanks for having me.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: When we talk about climate change, one major issue that's often overlooked is agriculture.
Science correspondent Miles O'Brien is focusing on that topic in a special livestream on our Web site.
Miles is here with a quick preview, joining us from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Tell us a little bit about what we can expect tonight.
MILES O'BRIEN: Yes, William, we are at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
We're sitting on some of the most productive soil in the world.
And we're going to take a deep dive looking at what agriculture can do to adapt to climate change, how it might be able to mitigate climate change, and all the while continue its production.
We are expecting 10 billion people on the planet by 2050.
And it will be a warmer climate.
How can they thread the needle on all those problems?
It's extremely complex.
We're going to take a deep dive with experts, and including the head of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Debbie Stabenow.
We're in the midst of the farm bill.
So, join us on the livestream after the broadcast - - William.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Thanks, Miles.
You can join that stream right now at PBS.org/NewsHour.
And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm William Brangham.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz in Uvalde, Texas, where a community will gather later tonight to remember the 21 lives lost in a mass shooting right here one year ago.
We want to thank the residents and the families of Uvalde for welcoming us back to town and for speaking with us, even as they grieve.
They have asked us to ask you not to forget what happened here.
For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you for joining us.