tv PBS News Weekend PBS May 21, 2022 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
♪ geoff: good evening. i'm geoff nnett. tonight on "pbs news weekend"... president biden seeks to strengthen america's influence in asia amid increasing reats from north korea. then... a new wave of covid infections and hospalizations are on the rise across the country. we hear from the white house covid response coordinator. and... a remarkable new investigation reveals why haiti's fight for freedom from slavery hundreds of years ago is still costing the country today. >> a battalion of french ships arrived with a message from the king basicallyaying, either you give us money or prepare for war. geoff: those stories and the day's headlines on tonight's "pbs news weekend." ♪
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this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. geoff: it is good to be with you. we begin tonight in south korea, where president biden continued his first presidential trip to asia today, as he aims to bolster ties with one of america's strongest allies in the indo-pacific region. in seoul today, president biden committed to strengthening a decades-old alliance, meeting for the first time with his new south korean counterpart, yoon suk-yeol. in bilateral talks, the two presidents agreed to expand joint military exercises on and around the korean peninsula. at a news conference later in the day, president biden pledged to deter the threat posed by a nuclear-armed north korea. pres. biden: today, president
yoon and i committed to strengthening our close engagement and work together to take on challenges of regional security, including addressing the threat posed by the democratic people's republic of korea. geoff: but president biden also said he would consider meeting with north korea, and potentially provide vaccines to the country as it reports yet another 200,000 cases of what it calls "fever." pres. biden: would i provide vaccines for north korea, would i be prepared to meet? the answer is yes, we've offered vaccines, not only to north korea, but to china as well. and we're prepared to do that immediately. we've got no response. geoff: president biden is halfway through a 5-day trip to south korea and japan. it's an attempt to strengthen american influence and rebuild economic ties in a region where china and north korea's power remains significant. and joining us now to discuss president biden's trip to asia and more, i'm joined by anne-marie slaughter. she's ceo of new america, and
she's also the former director of policy planning at the state department during the obama administration. it's great to have you with us. and president biden's trip is aimed at making strides in countering china's military advances, countering china's saber rattling and its economic influence in the indo-pacific region. so what are some of the biggest challenges he'll face and how should he address them? anne-marie: the biggest challenge he's facing probably right now is that whatever we do in ukraine, which we have to do to help ukraine push the russians back, that is pushing russia closer to china. and that is not actually what we want in terms of the configuration of power in asia. the second big challenge is that our asian allies actually don't want to choose between us and china. and it was very striking in the vote to suspend russia from the
human rights council that singapore and malaysia and indonesia all abstained. so we have this double situation where we don't want china and russia closer togeth. we do want our allies closer to us. but actually, they really don't want to have to choose between china and us. geoff: i want to draw you out on that, because i've been talking to white house officials who make this point that after four ts ye fruofgnmp china, those two splashy summits with kim jong un that failed to really rein in his nuclear program, the ditching of the iran deal and so on, that that left a leadership vacuum that china quickly filled. and i hear you say that the region isn't really willing to have america back in a leadership position. is that the case? anne-marie: not quite. the region is perfectly happy to have america leading. indeed, they want the united states engaged in the region.
what they don't wa is a united states that essentially says it's us versus china. you really have to line up with us. that's changed somewhat with australia, which has had its own issues with china and has moved closer to us. but by and large, those countries want to be able to pursue their interests. they want us to balance china. but they are not going to line up with us against china. geoff: got it. i also want to ask you about sweden and finland pursuing nato membership, which was a major headline this past week. president biden said that both countries have the full, total, complete backing of the u.s. turkey, as you know, opposes nato membership for both countries and could use its vote to really torpedo their bid. i've also heard from white house officials who say that turkey really is in this for some concessions. anne-marie: well, i definitely think that turkey undersnds leverage and that it has a moment where it can extract things. and turkey has been on the outs
with nato in terms of being much closer to russia than and particularly around arms deals that make many nato members comfortable. i doubt though that turkey will actually block the accession of sweden and finland. geoff: what does sweden and finland being nato members mn for vladimir putin? anne-marie: well, it is a pretty clear sign of a massive strategic mistake if you believe putin, that part of the reason he went into ukraine was because of nato's expansion. i think we could we could debate that. but what he's now gotten is not only finland and sweden joining nato, but, and i actually think this is a potential problem for nato, it's now going to be very hard for nato to say yes to sweden and finland, but no to ukraine.
because finland has a thousand kilometer border with russia. certainly if you look at finland and the baltics, the other nordic states, why would you bring those countries into nato but not bring the country that you are spending $40 billion helping defend against russia in as well? geoff: thanks so much for your time and for your perspectives. anne-marie: thank you. ♪ geoff: a new covid wave is accelerating across the u.s., with cases rising in almost every state. new daily cases are up by more than 50% from just two weeks ago, while covid related hospitalizations rose by 12% over the last week. meantime, the cdc has now signed off on pfizer covid boosters for 5 to 11-year-olds. joining us for more on all of this is white house covid
response director dr. ashish jha. it's great to have you with us. dr. jha: good evening. thanks for having me here, jeff. geoff: and the white house said recently that there could be up to 100 million infections from the virus later this year. that's, of course, after the country marked 1 million deaths from this disease. where are we in the life of this pandemic? in so many places, it feels like people have moved on. is that a function of us learning to live with covid, or do you think we are becoming dangerously complacent? dr. jha: ygeoff, i think if we take a step back and look at where we are in this pandemic, obviously there's a lot of infections out there. two years in, i don't think anybody wants to hear that. it's frustrating. but we do have a lot of immunity that we have built up thugh largely through vaccinations and through boosting. people are much, much better protected. and so as infections are rising, we are seeing hospitalizations and deaths much lower than we did in preous instances where infections rose. you know, and i look out to the future.
we have got to keep up with this. i mean, the virus is not done. we've got to keep on working, on improving our vaccines, making sure we have enough treatments. i think complacency can get us into a lot of trouble. but if we stay active, we stay focused, continue to combat this virus, i think we can keep americans safe. geoff: the cdc this week, as you well know, they recommended a booster dose of the pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. but hesitancy is pretty high. and less than one third of children in that age group have actually gotten two doses of the vaccine. what's the level of concern in the white house about that? dr. jha: yeah. so the evidence, first of all, on this is really clear. kids benefit from these vaccines. they really do. vaccines make an enormous difference in keeping kids out of the hospital, preventing kids from getting sick. so that part, i think, is very, very important and we've got to get that out. obviously, there's been a lot of misinformation about children and vaccines, and particularly children and covid suggesting that somehow covid is not a big deal for kids. we know kids can get sick from this. what we have to do is both make
vaccines widely available and continue the message on the science and evidence on this issue. geoff: and of course, when that headline came out, i heard from parents of children who are younger than five who said, you know, what about the first dose for my kid? it was a couple of weeks ago, i guess three weeks ago now, where a moderna announced that it's seeking emergency use authorization for a covid-19 vaccine for kids who are six months to five years old. haven't heard much about that since then. what's what's the status there? dr. jha: yeah. i mean, i have a lot of friends who have kids under five and they are frustrated. and i understand that frustration. look, the bottom line is that for each age group, what we have done is fda has carefully reviewed the data and when it has met their standards, they've authorized it. that is what is going to happen here. so the fda scientists are going through all of that moderna data. and as soon as it meets their standards, i am confident they're going to make a decision. and my hope is it will happen soon. geoff: i want to ask you also about long covid. there are government estimates that as many as 23 million
americans already have long covid. do we have a better sense of what causes it? what is best to treat it? what's the latest? dr. jha: yeah, this is a really important issue. i mean, i think we do not spend enough time as a country talking about long covid. there are a lot of americans who continue to suffer after an infection. what we know is that if you're vaccinated and boosted have breakthrough infection, you're much less likely to get long covid. and if you do get it, you're is much milder. that said, it's clearly kind of a heterogeneous group of conditions. it's a variety of different things that people are suffering from. we need a lot more research. we are launching a series of new studies to try to understand it better, as well as trying out new therapies to try to understand both how do we prevent it and how do we treat it? geoff: looking ahead to the fa, perhaps the winter, the emergence of another subvariant, if we're in a position where we need to wear masks again indoors. do you think that there is enough political will for lawmakers, elected officials, to
make that case and for the american people to actually listen? dr. jha: again, as we just started with, you know, people are tired of this pandemic. we understand that. the virus, unfortunately, is not done with its work. as we look to the fall and winter, what i paying attention am to right now is watching the virus evolve. we've got to pay very close attention to what happens if we do see a new wave of infections. we want to be ready with a new generation of vaccines, treatments. i have always believed that masking is an important part of keeping, you know, keeping infection numbers low. and i think we're going to want to get that message out to people that in areas with high infection numbers, masking is going to be an important tool to keeping infections low and getting letting us get through the fall and winter without substantial disruption. geoff: white house covid coordinator dr. ashish jha, great to speak with you as always. dr. jha: thank you, geoff. geoff: in today's headlines... president bin has signed the latest aid package for ukraine. the senate passed the bill after the president left for his overseas trip, so the bill itself was physically flown on a
commercial flight to seoul for him to sign. the package provides a massive $40 billion in military and humanitarian aid for ukraine, more than what the president initialy asked for. and the aid comes at a critical time, as russian forces have claimed full control of the southern port city of mariupol. the first military flight carrying baby formula from europe is expected to arrive this weekend. 132 pallets of nestle formula are leaving the ramstein air base in germany, and more is expect in the coming days. the shipments, dubbed "operation fly formula," are meant to relieve the deepening shortage caused, in part, by the closure of the largest domestic formula plant in february, due to safety issues. that plant could reopen as soon as next week, but officials say it will take weeks before formula will be on shelves again. meantime, australians have ousted their sitting prime minister, scott morrison. votes are still being counted, but anthony albanese of the
labour party is projected to be the country's next leader. the incumbent, mr. morrin, conceded defeat today. mr. morrison: i've always believed in australians and their judgement and i've always been prepared to accept their verdicts, and tonight, they have delivered their verdict and i congratulate anthony albanese and the labour party and i wish him and his government all the very best. geoff: australia's new prime minister is expected to attend a summit with other world leaders, including president biden, in tokyo on tuesday. israeli forces shot and killed a 17-year-old palestinian, and critically injured another, in clashes in the occupied west bank town of jenin. mourners walked with the body today, as the israeli military said the shooting occured during a gun battle with local militants. israel has stepped up military activity in the west bank in recent months in response to a series of deadly attacks inside israel. jenin is the same town where veteran palestinian journalist shereen abu aqleh was killed
earlier this month. on friday, the northern michigan town of gaylord was hit by a rare, powerful tornado. at least two people e dead, and dozens more injuries have been reported. officis describe the scene there as "catastrophic," with cars tossed and structures toppled. the national weather service has not tracked severe weather of this kind in gaylord since 1998. and, former president trump's attorney, rudy giuliani, met virtually th the january 6 select committee for more than 9 hours yesterday. that's according to two source familiar with the closed-door interview. the meeting comes as a recent court filing revealed another trump attorney, john eastman, received two handwritten notes from the president in an effort to overturn election results. still to come on "pbs news weekend"... the real price haiti paid for freedom from slavery and why it's still costing the country today. and... the painful history of native american children forced into one missouri boarding school. ♪
>> this is "pbs news weekend" from weta studios in washington, home of the "pbs newshour," weeknights on pbs. geoff: the island nation of haiti often makes headlines in the midst of crisis. but there's less attention to the factors underlying its status as the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, and one of the most unstable. "the new york times" has conducted an unprecedented investigation into those root causes, and is putting a harsh spotlight on haiti's former colonizer, france. ali rogin has more. ali: to learn more about this sweeping investition, i'm joined by catherine porter. she's the toronto bureau chief of "the new york times," and she's been covering haiti since its devastating 2010 earthquake and led the team that pored over centuries old documents and archives for this story. catherine, thank you so much for joining us. how did your team come up with this idea? catherine: well, as you ntioned, i had been in haiti
since 2010, and i think i've been back more than 30 times, and any journalist who spends any time in haiti asks the question, like, why is it like this? why is the poverty so bad? why is infrastructure so bad? and why is it so so much worse than other countries around it? and the obvious answer is often given as corruption, which is true. but reading a book on one of my trips there, it mentioned this thing called the independence debt that haiti had paid to france. after winng its independence, it had then been forced to pay in cash. and it just stirred my... like i just planted a seed way back then. and i started looking for more and more information about about this. ali: yeah. let's talk about how that independence debt came to be, because i think, as some people know, haiti was founded by former slaves. they overthrew their french colonial rulers in 1804, but not long after that, they ended up paying france. why? catherine: yeah, and they called it reparations, which is so mind boggling now.
25 years at -- 1825, 21 years after the first black nation of the americas was formed, a battalion of french ships arrived with a message from the king, basically saying, either you give us money or prepare for war. and at that time, haiti had been completely frozen out. america, the united states would not deal with it. britain wouldn't acknowledge it. so facing war and desperate for international recognition, the president of haiti at the time agreed. ali: right. and you dove into how much those so-called reparations would equal in today's money. you also looked into the value that was lost to the haitian economy because of so much of this money and the interest on these payments going out of the haitian economy, not going to haitians. tell us about those figures. catherine: after we did all that research, we collected the figures and we were able to extrapolate what the opportunity cost was to haiti. so if haiti hadn't grown, if its economy had stayed as stagnant as it had been throughout the
1800s, it would have meant it would have added $21 billion u.s. dollars to the economy today. if t economy of haiti had been boosteand grown at the same rate as the average rate of latin american countries around it, it would have been a staggering $115 billion. ali: of course, the united states also has a long and sordid history with haiti. what did you find out about that relationship? catherine: well, you know, what was really ieresting is that first you had these french colonial masters and they held a tight grip on haiti long after independence. and finally, the way that they held on to the financial strings of the country was through the haitian national bank. and soon enoh, american banks took an interest in the haitian national bank because, as we saw, increasingly more and more bankers from around the world saw that this was a place that despite how poor it was, they could get rich. so we discovered that one of the
reasons the united states, you know, invaded haiti and occupied it for a very long time, starting in 1917, was because a bank that is now known as citigroup had really prodded the state department to go in and secure its interests in the haitian tional bank. and that then quickly developed into a full fledged occupation. so part of the impetus was financiainterests of wall street bankers. ali: catherine porter with "the new york times," thank you so much for joining us. catherine: thank you so much for having me. ♪ geoff: for the first time, the u.s. government released a report this month detailing the abuse and mistreatment of native children who were forcibly sent to boarding schos in the 1800s. our st. louis community reporter gabrielle hayes has been reporting on one school in missouri that fits into this
painful history. and gabrielle joins us now. so tell us more about this boarding school. the st. regis seminary opened in 1824. what did your reporting uncover? gabrielle: yeah, so we learned at the school, as you said, opened in 1824 and it later closed in 1831. so it wasn't open for that long. but what we do know is that, you know, what was promised, the idea from the beginning was that these schools were "going to provide an education." but the research shows what's reflected in this report from the department of interior, that wasn't the case. that these children were specifically at st. regis worked long hours in fields. they did manual labor. and that also many of them were also abused physically. violence. there was violence in these schools and one here in missouri. and so we kind of worked to piece together what happened in those seven years as much as we could. and for the most part, from
letters. geoff: and this was a jesuit school. so how have the jesuits responded and how are they reconciling with their past? gabrielle: yeah. so it was the society of jesus that opened this school and they actually opened more than one across the country. and so we've been in communicatn with the jesuits and we know that they released a statement, i believe, last year, kind of acknowledging what happened at these schools. but recently, more recently, i believe in january, they brought in a researcher that's going to beased here in saint louis. and that person is supposed to take a look at the history of the jesuits' involvement and kind of piece together that story. and so we've worked with them in some of that work, but it will be important to see what they are able to uncover and sort of release, because we were able to piece together the story through records and things that they kept. and so we're waiting to kind of see what else they have and what else we can learn. geoff: so put this into the
larger context for us, because the department of the interior, as you well know, it says native american children were forced into assimilation at 408 boarding schools, federal boarding schools in the 19th and 20th centuries. gabrielle: yeah. and i think it's important also to note that that report makes it clear that there are 408 that they have included, but that number could possibly grow. and so i think that that's important. you know, reading that report was so striking because so many of the things that we were able to uncover, whether it was assimilation tactics or the promises that were made or the experience of the children, were some of the lauage that was used in these letters to justify what happened in schools. we could see in that letter, the reading that report, what happened in saint louis, what happened in florissant. it wasn't just our story. it was a story that happened across several states. and so st. louis has a chapter, but it's a much bigger story.
geoff: our st. louis community reporter, gabrielle hayes. gabby, thanks so much for being with us. gabrielle: thank you. geoff: you can read that. i on our website, -- you can read that and more on our website, pbs.org/newshour. and that's "pbs news weekend" for tonight. i'm geoff bennett. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at "pbs news weekend," thanks for spending part of your saturday with us. >> major funding for "pbs news weekend" has been provided by -- ♪ and with the ongoing support of these individuals and institutions -- ♪ this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you.
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