February 23, 2022 - PBS NewsHour full episode
02/23/2022 | 56m 41s | Video has closed captioning.
February 23, 2022 - PBS NewsHour full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
Get extended access to 1600+ episodes, binge watch your favorite shows, and stream anytime - online or in the PBS app.
Already a WNED PBS member?
You may have an unactivated WNED PBS Passport member benefit. Check to see.
02/23/2022 | 56m 41s | Video has closed captioning.
February 23, 2022 - PBS NewsHour full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: a tense moment.
The U.S. warns Russia is prepared to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, as Ukrainian forces mobilize for a possible war.
Then: the climate crisis.
New reports indicate wildfires will drastically increase in coming years, while dangerous methane emissions from the energy sector are being significantly underreported.
And the great retirement.
Millions of older Americans decide to leave the work force early in the wake of workplace changes wrought by the pandemic.
COURTNEY COILE, Wellesley College: The pandemic has interrupted what was a decades-long trend towards later retirement in the United States.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
(BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: The Pentagon said today that Russia is poised to carry out a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
That word came as Ukraine put in force a state of emergency and as Moscow said that the separatists that Russia backs in Eastern Ukraine had asked for Russian military help to fend off what they claim is Ukrainian aggression.
Meantime, in Washington, President Biden announced new sanctions on the company that owns the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline that runs from Russia to Germany and on the company's corporate officers.
Nick Schifrin again begins our coverage.
NICK SCHIFRIN: In Kyiv today, all rise for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
This is Ukraine's National Security Council.
And, today, they seemed to all rise to the challenge and possibility of war.
OLEKSIY DANILOV, Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary (through translator): The state of emergency will be introduced across the entire territory of the country, except the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
NICK SCHIFRIN: National Security Adviser Oleksiy Danilov announced a new war footing that could increase checkpoints and curfews, allow the government to seize property and billet soldiers in homes, and ban demonstrations and strikes.
OLEKSIY DANILOV (through translator): We have said many times that the main task of Russia is to achieve its goal of internal destabilization.
This decision was taken to prevent these actions.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The decision taken by Zelensky.
Up until now, he has downplayed the threat.
But, last night, he called up some reservists, and, today, alongside Polish and Lithuanian counterparts, said the military was prepared.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, Ukrainian President (through translator): I know clearly, without any forecasts how our army will act.
And, believe me, we are ready for everything.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The U.S. fears he needs to be ready for imminent invasion.
A senior defense official says 80 percent of the more than 150,000 Russian troops deployed near Ukraine's borders are now in forward positions, some within two miles of the border and -- quote -- "uncoiled."
A Ukrainian official says the U.S. briefed Kyiv on new intelligence yesterday that action could start within hours.
Russia is already targeting Ukraine online.
This is Kyiv's newest cybersecurity facility, its job, investigate and respond.
VICTOR ZHORA, Deputy Head, Ukrainian State Service for Special Communication and Information Protection: These are the very people that deal with cyberattack.
NICK SCHIFRIN: It's led by Victor Zhora.
He gave a tour to "PBS NewsHour" producer Volodymyr Solohub and showed a chart of a recent spike in attacks.
VICTOR ZHORA: You can see the significant growth of critical cyber incident.
NICK SCHIFRIN: That's a reference to denial of service attacks that crippled the Web sites of Ukraine's largest banks and the Foreign and Defense ministries.
The U.S. and Kyiv blamed Russia.
Today, several government Web sites went dark again.
We spoke to Zhora before today's attacks.
VICTOR ZHORA: We are facing a hybrid aggression, and cyber aggression is a part of it.
That means that, in case of a military invasion, it can be supported with the cyberattacks.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Attacks with which Ukraine is far too familiar.
In 2017, the U.S. says Russian intelligence used the malware NotPetya to disable much of Ukraine's banking system, before spreading around the world.
And in 2015 and 2016, Russia targeted the Ukraine's electricity.
The West has spent millions to try and make power companies more resilient.
VICTOR ZHORA: The level of protection of energy companies now much higher than five years ago.
I don't believe in full blackout on a country scale.
NICK SCHIFRIN: And he says he has backups if Kyiv itself comes under attack.
VICTOR ZHORA: Of course, we have these plans B, and we have business continuity plans, which will allow our team, our specialists in cybersecurity to continue doing their work, which is so important in these challenging times.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The man creating the challenge today commemorated soldiers killed in World War II.
This is Defender of the Fatherland Day.
Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to continue the tradition.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russian President (through translator): Our country is always open to a direct and honest dialogue and is ready to search for diplomatic solutions to the most complicated issues.
But I want to repeat that Russia's interests and the security of our people are an indisputable priority.
NICK SCHIFRIN: But it's not Russia's priority to remain honest.
This week, the government claimed Ukraine's military crossed into Russia, and even released a video of the offending invading tank.
Kyiv called the claim fake.
And Russian media highlights supposed car bombs and attacks inside self-declared separatist Republicans that injure civilians.
The U.S. and Ukraine accuse Russia of staging videos to justify an imminent invasion.
And joining me to discuss Russian disinformation is Nina Jankowicz, a global fellow at The Wilson Center.
Nina Jankowicz, welcome back to the "NewsHour."
This evening, we have heard requests from the heads of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk republics for Russian military help - - quote -- "against Ukrainian aggression."
Is that an obvious pretext for a Russian invasion?
NINA JANKOWICZ, The Wilson Center: You know, Nick, in short, it is.
We have already seen more veiled attacks, as you have just noted, to create this pretext, from the shelling of a kindergarten in Ukrainian-held territory that Russia attempted to blame on Ukraine, to allegations of improvised explosive devices in cars containing cadavers.
And along with the recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk to their historical borders, that is, to the borders of Ukrainian-held territory right now, the letters from the leaders of these so-called republics build on those allegations to formally request this help to beat back Ukrainian aggression that simply does not exist.
The Ukrainian side has been remarkably disciplined in holding their fire, despite these provocations.
We have no evidence of Ukrainian aggression or, as Putin talked about in his speech the other day, of -- quote, unquote -- "genocide" by the Ukrainian army.
There's just no evidence that any of this exists.
And it strains credulity that, after eight years of war, the Ukrainian army would choose this moment, with 190,000 Russian troops on its borders, to pick up a new aggressive offensive.
NICK SCHIFRIN: And those Russian troops on the borders that you just mentioned, you and your team are also tracking the movement along the borders.
What's the latest that you're seeing?
NINA JANKOWICZ: Yes, since January, with the Center for Information Resilience, which is a U.K. nonprofit, we have been mapping out open source evidence of these troop movements from citizens in Belarus and Russia and Crimea along the border with Ukraine.
And, for the past several weeks, we have been seeing them moving closer and closer to the border, moving off of convoys on railroads, getting kitted out, getting set up, with soldiers getting painted and moving closer to the border.
And we saw similar -- similar movements today.
We would agree with Secretary of Defense Austin's statement that the Russian army is ready to strike.
And that's corroborated also by cyberattacks by SMS psychological warfare and by other evidence that we have seen circulating on social media over the past couple of hours.
It's going to be a grim night for Ukraine, I think.
NICK SCHIFRIN: It -- there's a lot of fear in Ukraine that is going to be a grim night.
And, today, we heard from the Zelensky, from Ukrainian officials declaring a state of emergency.
That is not the message that Ukrainian officials have been giving over the last few days and weeks.
How significant is it to see that state of emergency go into effect tonight?
NINA JANKOWICZ: Well, I think it's a marked change in thinking from the Ukrainian administration, which has sought to kind of maintain calm, sort of a grin-and-bear-it attitude that Ukrainians have had over this past several days.
But, with Putin's extremely aggressive speech two days ago, along with this renewed intelligence from the U.K. and the U.S., as well as this open source evidence that things are moving closer and closer and closing in on Ukraine, I think the leaders had no choice but to make that announcement to prepare civilians and hope for the best at this point, which is, again, as somebody who has lived and worked in Ukraine, for a country that has never done anything to provoke Russia, it's a very sad evening.
NICK SCHIFRIN: And we have seen, of course, disinformation from Russia for years, and certainly in the last few weeks and months during this crisis, but it shifted in the last -- just in the last few days.
How has the Russian disinformation effort shifted right here, what seems to be right at the end?
NINA JANKOWICZ: Well, at the earlier part of the crisis, we saw a lot more about NATO aggression, about NATO's broken promises to Russia and kind of categorizing this entire crisis as something that NATO could end if it kowtowed to Russia's demands.
And now, along with these kinetic actions that we have described before, these provocations and staged video incidents, et cetera, we have seen from Putin, from his close officials and from Russian=state-sponsored media, as well as influencers online, this idea of Ukrainian aggression again bubbling up.
And as I have already laid out, there's just nothing to those claims.
We have so much documentation of the Russian forces moving in, of that aggression preparing to occur, and very, very little on the Ukrainian side.
And, believe me, people there have cell phones and are documenting things too.
There just isn't evidence for any of these claims.
And that's how the narrative has changed over the past couple of weeks, to pin responsibility on Ukraine and create a pretext for war.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Nina Jankowicz, thank you very much.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And now we will take a look at how other leaders in Washington are reacting to this escalating crisis in Ukraine.
For more on all this, I'm joined by our congressional correspondent, Lisa Desjardins.
So, hello, Lisa.
Let's start with the president's own party, the Democrats.
What are they saying about the president's actions?
LISA DESJARDINS: It's important to talk about these other leaders, because they're hearing from their voters, hearing from their constituents.
And, today, we some members of both parties actually agree on one thing, that the president's new sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, essentially waiving -- getting rid of the waiver that he had for those, that's a good thing.
That's where everyone agrees.
But talking about Democrats, they really are in two camps.
First, the one that you hear about publicly, leaders like Nancy Pelosi, supporting President Biden as mainly getting through the world - - getting the world through a very tricky navigation of these issues.
Here's what she said today, talking about President Biden as someone who has unified allies, even as some of the sanctions he's imposing could harm some of our European allies.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The steps that the president are taking -- is taking appropriate.
The Europeans feel the pain more than we do of sanctions.
It is not without any collateral impact in their countries.
LISA DESJARDINS: Now, there is no Democrat who is publicly criticizing President Biden.
But speaking to senior Democratic aides and Democratic members of Congress, I can tell you this.
There are many Democrats who believe President Biden should be doing even more and that he should do it now.
One of those -- one Democrat who we should be watching is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
That's Bob Menendez.
He said yesterday, for example, that he thinks this should not be the end to sanctions.
I also spoke today to another important Democrat, Adam Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
He supports what President Biden has done so far.
But he says nothing else needs to happen, that Russians are occupying Ukrainian territory, and that the U.S. should impose sanctions, more sanctions at any time.
One other group of Democrats to watch, Judy, progressives.
They are watching the war footing of this country.
Look at this statement from Representative Barbara Lee of California.
Even as she also is supporting President Biden in general, she wrote this.
She says: "It's important to stress that any new military deployments must be done in full compliance with Congress' constitutional war powers."
Of course, what she's saying there is, we don't want another war.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, meanwhile, Lisa, Republicans are being publicly more critical of the president, but we know they too are divided.
Tell us what you're seeing and hearing from them.
LISA DESJARDINS: We see in all of this the complicated nature of this situation.
And there is a different kind of divide among Republicans.
First, the ones we're hearing from the most, those who again say President Biden has not done enough, that he waited too long to do what he has done.
I want to play sound from Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina speaking on this theme yesterday.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): President Biden, you said a couple of years ago that Putin does not want you don't win, because you're the only person that could go toe to toe with him.
Well, right now, Mr. President, you're playing footsie with Putin, and you're losing.
He is walking all over you and our allies.
LISA DESJARDINS: It is notable that some Republicans in press releases have criticized President Biden more than they have criticized President Putin in terms of what's been happening.
However, again today, President Biden's decision to fully deploy those sanctions against that Russian pipeline, that is something that Republicans, even his strongest critics, like Ted Cruz of Texas, are praising.
They're saying that is something, the direction they want things to go in.
Now, what is the divide in the Republican Party?
It is with others, like former President Trump, who are saying things that seem to be more positive, in fact, are more positive, about President Putin.
Here's some words from President Trump, former President Trump, yesterday.
He was speaking on a talk show.
And he said: "Putin says, you know, I'm going to declare a big portion of Ukraine independent."
In President Trump's words, he said: "You got to say that's pretty savvy."
There are a few other Republicans who are indeed echoing this idea that perhaps President Putin isn't so bad, maybe he's smart.
But talking to a wide spectrum of Republican lawmakers today, they see that as an outlier position and even dangerous.
What are they getting phone calls about today, Judy?
They say they are getting calls insisting that there should not be any troop movement, the U.S. should not send troops into Ukraine, that there are concerns about domestic policy.
Where is everyone united, Republicans, Democrats?
That the U.S. should send more aid to Ukraine.
And we should be watching the next week or two to see if, in fact, we do get a new aid bill, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars more for Ukraine.
Congress is waiting on President Biden to say exactly what he thinks is needed.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Interesting.
And we will see how that evolves as events move along.
Lisa Desjardins talking to members of both parties.
Thank you, Lisa.
LISA DESJARDINS: You're welcome.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: New warnings surfaced about potential causes and effects of climate change.
Environment Program projected intense wildfires could increase 50 percent by the end of the century.
And the International Energy Agency said energy sector emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas, are 70 percent higher than governments claim.
We will examine both reports after the news summary.
A new tropical cyclone battered storm-ravaged Madagascar today.
It blasted the southern coast of the island nation in the Indian Ocean in the early morning hours, with winds gusting nearly 120 miles an hour.
Initial reports indicated extensive damage.
Madagascar is still recovering from three other powerful storms in the last month that killed nearly 200 people.
Drug makers Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline will seek U.S. and European approval for a new COVID vaccine.
They say two doses proved 75 percent effective at preventing moderate to severe sickness.
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revoked emergency police powers today, now that trucker protests over COVID restrictions have ended.
A jury in Louisville, Kentucky, has begun hearing the only criminal case stemming from Breonna Taylor's fatal shooting by police.
Former Officer Brett Hankison fired 10 shots, but none hit Taylor.
Instead, he's accused of endangering neighbors when bullets tore into their apartment.
Today's opening statements offered sharply different takes on Hankison's actions.
BARBARA WHALEY, Kentucky Assistant Attorney General: You will hear that the defendant claimed that he saw into the doorway, the front door, and he claimed that he saw a shooter in there with an AR rifle.
You will learn that there was no AR rifle in apartment four.
There was one pistol, a Glock 43X .9-millimeter.
STEWART MATHEWS, Attorney For Brett Hankison: He was attempting to defend and save the lives of his brother officers, who he thought were still caught in what they call the fatal funnel in that doorway.
Brett Hankison was justified in what he did.
And everything he did on that scene out there before during and after the shooting occurred was logical, was reasonable, was justified, and made total sense.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Police burst into Breonna Taylor's apartment on a no-knock narcotics search in March of 2020.
Her boyfriend opened fire, thinking they were intruders, and two officers shot back, killing Taylor.
The city paid $12 million in a civil settlement.
New government data shows deaths of pregnant women in the U.S. rose during the pandemic's first year.
The decades-long trend might have worsened as women delayed health care due to COVID.
The National Center for Health Statistics Reports that the death rate for pregnant Black women was nearly triple that of whites.
A pair of prosecutors investigating former President Trump and his business dealings resigned today in New York.
The Manhattan district attorney's office confirmed it.
The New York Times reported that they quit because their boss, the new DA, questioned pursuing a case against Mr. Trump.
The prosecutors have already brought tax fraud charges against the Trump Organization.
The U.S. Justice Department has discontinued its so-called China initiative.
A top official said today that efforts to fight Chinese cyber-crime will no longer be grouped under that name.
Opponents claimed that the Trump era initiative unfairly targeted Chinese academics in the U.S. and fostered anti-Asian bias.
And on Wall Street, stocks retreated again on fears that a Russian attack on Ukraine is imminent.
Major indexes slumped 1 to 2.5 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 464 points to close at 33131.
The Nasdaq fell 344 points.
The S&P 500 fell 79.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": why millions of older Americans are retiring early in the wake of the pandemic; how 3-D printing could provide one solution to the lack of affordable housing; a new book details why the author fled racial prejudice in the United States; plus much more.
As we mentioned earlier in the program, there have been several alarming new reports that the climate crisis is getting worse and coming on faster.
From intensifying wildfires, to methane leaks, to rising sea levels, the news is grim.
William Brangham is here to walk us through some of the latest.
So, hello, William.
Let me start with this report from the U.N. about wildfires.
It says that we are going to see catastrophic wildfires in the coming decades.
Fill out more of the picture for us.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That's right, Judy.
This is the first time the U.N. has looked specifically at wildfires.
And, as you say, they argue that, because largely of climate change, catastrophic wildfires will be happening globally, and they will be ramping up in the next few decades.
And it's not just places that have become somewhat accustomed to them, like Australia and the United States.
It's places not accustomed to them, like Siberia and the Arctic and Tibet.
The U.N. says climate change is the main driver here.
This report said the heating of the planet is turning landscapes into tinderboxes.
We certainly see this here in the U.S.
There's this megadrought happening out West that is the worst megadrought since the medieval times.
But there's another issue that is driving this that the U.N. says, and that is the way we use land.
Agricultural practices, forestry practices have also exacerbated this, so that, when a fire does start, it's worse.
And this is also, as we know, a huge health issue.
Ask anyone that has lived anywhere near a wildfire in the last few years.
The sky turns orange.
You can't go outside.
You can't breathe.
We know that smoke is dangerous for human health.
And that smoke travels hundreds and thousands of miles.
So it is a growing, growing issue.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And part of the report, William, I understand, does address ways to deal with growing threat.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That's right, Judy.
As you might imagine, curtailing greenhouse gas emissions to reduce climate change is the single biggest thing we can do, less oil, less gas, less coal.
But, as I mentioned with these land use issues, there are better ways that you can manage the landscape, not letting people move into tinderbox areas, farming in a smarter way, managing forests in a smarter way, using prescribed burns in a smarter way.
So there are things that can be done.
It's not hopeless, but we have got to start acting.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And then the second report, William, out today from the International Energy Agency, the IEA, on methane emissions, saying that they are coming far worse, far larger than had been expected.
Why does this matter?
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It matters because methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases out there.
It is much more potent than carbon dioxide.
It doesn't last as long in the atmosphere, but it -- when it is there, it is much better at trapping heat.
And the IEA report pointed out that the countries that have been trying to track their methane emissions have been underestimating those emissions by about 70 percent, which is a huge -- it's not just a rounding error.
That is a huge amount of methane leaking into the atmosphere that these countries and companies don't seem to be aware of.
So, one of the main goals in tackling climate change is cutting our methane emissions.
But if you don't really know how much you're actually emitting, you can't do a very good job of that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And then, if this isn't enough, William, there was yet another report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration out last week about sea level rise, and saying this is happening much faster than expected.
Lay out some of that for us.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This report has got to be setting off alarm bells in coastal communities all over the world.
The -- NOAA said that, in the next 50 years, they expect, with fairly good confidence, that sea level rise will go up 10 to 12 inches.
Now, that might not sound that much.
It's about this much sea level rise.
But just here in the U.S., there are major metropolitan areas, New York, Miami, Washington, New Orleans, parts of California, that are living right at sea level rise.
And so 10 inches to a foot of sea level rise can have major impacts on infrastructure.
Streets will be flooded much more often, not just on stormy days.
Infrastructure will take a big hit.
And so there's also a concern that that report, in and of itself, is alarming enough, but a worry that that might even be a lowball projection because of this ongoing question as to how much global warming is impacting the ice sheets in Greenland and in Antarctica.
And in Antarctica specifically, there's a glacier there, the Thwaites Glacier, that is already showing signs of trouble.
That glacier is holding two to three feet of potential sea level rise in its ice.
So, if that were to go, we're talking about, as one researcher we spoke with saying, a global rewriting of the coastline all over the world.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it doesn't get any more sobering than all of this.
Let's hope people are not only paying attention, but thinking about how we do something about all this, if we can.
William Brangham reporting on these distressing reports.
Thank you, William.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Thanks, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We have been hearing for months about jobs going unfilled in the U.S., putting stresses on employers and the overall economy.
It turns out there are several reasons for this, and one of them is early retirement.
Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports on the exodus of older workers during the pandemic.
THOMAS FISHER, Retiree: COVID really pointed out to my -- to me and to my wife that life was tenuous.
It was fragile.
VERONICA PRIMUS, Retiree: In order to preserve my sanity, I needed to leave.
NORMA JASSO, Retiree: My daughter asked me early last year if I would take care of her baby.
She said: "Mom, I am going to need your help."
JOHN MANLEY, Retiree: It was like, anybody your age is liable to die if you get it.
And I just was afraid of it, I said, I'm not going to stay.
PAUL SOLMAN: You have heard plenty, especially from employers who can't find workers, about the Great Resignation.
But here's what's also happening, the Great Retirement.
Since February 2020, some 2.6 million more Americans than expected retired.
COURTNEY COILE, Wellesley College: The pandemic has interrupted what was a decades-long trend towards later retirement in the United States.
PAUL SOLMAN: Wellesley economist Courtney Coile.
COURTNEY COILE: So, if we look at the population ages 65 to 74, the share that are employed in the last three months of 2021 is 7 percent lower relative to the share that was employed in the last three months of 2019.
PAUL SOLMAN: So, why?
Well, a few main reasons.
One, workers leaving in-person jobs to avoid catching COVID-19; 65-year-old Claudia Mitchell was an instructional aide.
CLAUDIA MITCHELL, Retiree: I weighed it out, and I just thought, no.
I'm not going to take the risk.
PAUL SOLMAN: Would you have stayed on if there hadn't been the COVID pandemic?
CLAUDIA MITCHELL: I think I would have, because it made me feel really good going into work every day.
PAUL SOLMAN: John Manley drove a school bus for 25 years.
JOHN MANLEY: I just loved it.
It was like having 100 grandchildren.
PAUL SOLMAN: He hadn't planned to retire, but, at 77, he was especially vulnerable to serious illness.
JOHN MANLEY: Being cooped up in a large metal container with a whole bunch of children, 40 or 50 of them at a time, it was starting to look like a -- just not a wise thing to do.
PAUL SOLMAN: Donna Booth retired from her job managing a home for the developmentally disabled at age 74.
DONNA BOOTH, Retiree: I was frightened.
And I did have nightmares.
And it was -- it was just affecting everything about my life in terms of like, I don't want to die for this.
PAUL SOLMAN: Yes, COVID hastened her exit, but not just because of the danger.
The job had morphed into more than she could bear.
DONNA BOOTH: I became a first responder, and I had a lot of vulnerable people and staff members working for me.
And the paperwork increased.
The demands increased.
And so it became a very, very different job.
PAUL SOLMAN: Sixty-nine-year-old grandmother Veronica Primus spent 48 years working in schools.
A similar thing happened to her job.
VERONICA PRIMUS: I could have worked longer.
I feel like I'm healthy, I'm vibrant.
But it was just tearing me down.
I just couldn't handle it.
PAUL SOLMAN: Primus was working as a literacy coach, until online learning drove her over the edge.
VERONICA PRIMUS: I would go visit the Zoom classes and see children jumping up and down on the bed while you're trying to teach a lesson.
And you -- teachers can't do anything but just say, please be quiet.
PAUL SOLMAN: For some, caregiving needs drove them to retire.
Helping her daughter drew 63-year-old Norma Jasso from her 17-year job at San Diego Gas and Electric.
NORMA JASSO: I was thinking, I have lived two-thirds of my life.
I have one-third to go.
What do I really want to do with that time?
And taking care of the baby, helping my daughter is critical.
If my daughter had not asked for help, I would still be working, and I would have not have known how lovely it would have been to not have to work.
PAUL SOLMAN: In fact, we heard something like this again and again, that COVID raised the big question: What is the meaning of life?
It's something consultant Tom Fisher, age 57, and his wife asked themselves during the pandemic.
THOMAS FISHER: It really pointed out to us that, if the world were to end today and with these -- under these conditions, would we be happy that our last days potentially were spent in this manner, right, working 24 hours a day, traveling everywhere.
I think it really just catalyzed a reevaluation of what our ambitions and what our goals for ourselves were.
PAUL SOLMAN: So, Fisher retired and is writing a book about his grandfather.
THOMAS FISHER: It's a very rewarding time.
You know, it's been an incredibly satisfying endeavor.
PAUL SOLMAN: Fisher also sells parts for restoring old cars to supplement his savings.
And how are others able to afford earlier-than-planned retirement?
Well, despite the stock market's recent tumult, a long run of historic asset gains certainly helped.
Norma Jasso ran the numbers before taking the plunge.
NORMA JASSO: I looked into my retirement plan, and it turns out the market was doing great.
Even though I didn't have a financial planner, things worked out for me.
And here I am, taking care of little Rafael.
PAUL SOLMAN: Donna Booth and her husband took advantage of the booming house market.
DONNA BOOTH: Because of COVID, the housing prices just jumped up.
And so we put our house on the market.
In one day, 10 people came and offered us cash for our house higher than what we were asking.
PAUL SOLMAN: They have happily downsized to an apartment.
As for Veronica Primus... VERONICA PRIMUS: I was not a person who saved a whole bunch of money because I had four children to raise as a single parent myself.
PAUL SOLMAN: And yet Primus is also making it work.
VERONICA PRIMUS: I do have a retirement, thanks to the state of South Carolina and Social Security.
And my daughter lives with me with her daughters, and so we all sort of work together.
PAUL SOLMAN: People learned to spend less during the pandemic, says Wellesley's Coile.
COURTNEY COILE: Because they have had to live a little bit differently during the pandemic, less travel, fewer meals out, and so on, people have had more experience to figure out what kind of expenses might be more discretionary, and that might also affect their planning going forward, thinking about how much income they really need to have the lifestyle that they want.
PAUL SOLMAN: Right.
So I can continue to live on this reduced budget.
COURTNEY COILE: Because I have been doing it for two years.
(LAUGHTER) PAUL SOLMAN: But here's a problem: The Great Retirement is bad news for a labor-crunched economy.
COURTNEY COILE: Overall, it means that the economy is operating below its potential, because we could have a bigger labor force and we could be producing greater GDP with that labor force, gross domestic product.
PAUL SOLMAN: In normal times, about a quarter of retirees end up unretiring or returning to the labor force.
The data are still coming in, but, says William Rodgers of the St. Louis Fed: WILLIAM RODGERS, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: There is some evidence more people are staying retired.
People are doing what we teach in public policy school.
It's called benefit/cost analysis.
And, right now, the benefits do not exceed the costs.
PAUL SOLMAN: Among the costs of working, the risk of getting sick, undesirable conditions, stress.
I built this little cost/benefit scale.
It was pretty close before, if you didn't have that great a job, and, suddenly, the cost goes like that.
And now you just say, I'm staying retired.
Is that it?
WILLIAM RODGERS: Yes.
People are changing their calculus around how they want to spend their time.
PAUL SOLMAN: The scales could tilt back, right?
WILLIAM RODGERS: Yes, the scales could switch back if economic growth continues, the Omicron fades away and we don't have another significant variant in the winter.
All those feeding together could lead to a calculation that, well, the benefits exceed the cost.
I want to jump back in.
PAUL SOLMAN: As for the folks we interviewed... Are you thinking of going back to work at another job?
DONNA BOOTH: I probably will.
I just -- I love working, and I love being valuable.
I love being needed.
I don't want to play golf.
PAUL SOLMAN: But others do not plan to return.
VERONICA PRIMUS: Not full-time, because the culture has changed dramatically.
CLAUDIA MITCHELL: I don't know if I would go back to a paid position.
JOHN MANLEY: No, I don't really think I will ever be back.
PAUL SOLMAN: So, a personal decision for every retiree, but one that could result in fewer workers, and thus dampen economic growth.
For the "PBS NewsHour," Paul Solman.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It's often said that there's no place like home.
But what if that home was built with a 3-D printer?
Only a small handful of people in the U.S. currently live in these types of houses, but some believe this will soon change because of 3-D printing technology's potential to reduce construction costs, construction times and costs.
Stephanie Sy reports STEPHANIE SY: April Stringfield has been laser-focused on a single goal for much of her adult life.
APRIL STRINGFIELD, Homeowner: I used to work two and three jobs because I was determined that I was going to get a home.
From home health care, motel, I did call center at home.
I just kept my fingers crossed, kept doing what I'm doing, working hard, saving money.
STEPHANIE SY: With the help of Habitat for Humanity, Stringfield, her 13-year old son, Azayveon, and their dog, Tink (ph), moved in to a house in Williamsburg, Virginia two months ago, a house of her own.
APRIL STRINGFIELD: Getting something I always wanted and to see your dream come true, still in shock just a little bit that it is finally true.
STEPHANIE SY: The house is unique.
This is not just any ordinary home.
APRIL STRINGFIELD: Right.
It's a 3-D printed.
STEPHANIE SY: A 3-D printed home, one Stringfield saw go up before her eyes in just over a day, layer by layer of concrete efficiently squeezed out of a printing machine, preprogrammed with a digital blueprint.
APRIL STRINGFIELD: I watched it from, it was like flat land, and so building up.
It was awesome.
JONATHAN RECKFORD, CEO, Habitat for Humanity: We're really excited to be doing these vanguard moves.
STEPHANIE SY: Jonathan Reckford is Habitat for Humanity's CEO.
The nonprofit, which helps people in need build and upgrade homes, has high hopes for 3-D-printed houses, at a time when labor and material costs are skyrocketing and affordable housing is more and more scarce.
JONATHAN RECKFORD: And so our hope with 3-D printing is, this is the beginning of the curve, but will lead to learnings that could mainstream ways that could either speed up construction or lower the cost of construction for us.
STEPHANIE SY: The U.S. currently faces a shortage of about four million homes, and more than one in four renters currently pay more than half their income in rent.
JASON BALLARD, CEO & Co-Founder, ICON: I think the best way to address that problem holistically is with robotic approaches to construction.
STEPHANIE SY: Jason Ballard is CEO of ICON, an Austin-based company that built the U.S.'s first permitted 3-D-printed home in 2018.
JASON BALLARD: The more affordable and simplified supply chain, combined with an order of magnitude fewer humans, that's what gives you sort of this initial jolt of cost savings and improvements in speed of delivery.
STEPHANIE SY: But experts say it will be a while before 3-D-printed homes live up to their promise and go mainstream.
MARK STAPP, Arizona State University: I would say, with between five and 10 years, we may see more of it, if it continues to prove to be an effective, efficient means of construction delivery.
STEPHANIE SY: Mark Stapp is a property developer and the director of Arizona State University's real estate program.
He says, while 3-D printing may reduce the cost of a structure's frame, a frame doesn't make a complete house.
MARK STAPP: You have got plumbing, electrical, mechanical, so, air conditioning, heating, et cetera, that all need to be incorporated.
You have finishes to walls.
You have got windows that have to now be installed.
There's a whole bunch of other things that, one, products have to be adapted, and two, you have to train the labor.
STEPHANIE SY: Critics also say the proprietary blends of materials used to print buildings vary by project and are largely untested, compared with traditional building materials.
Cities such as Austin have approved some 3-D-printed homes under building codes.
And ICON's founder Ballard, who, in a previous career, worked with the homeless population, says it's only a matter of time before 3-D-printed housing is embraced widely.
JASON BALLARD: That's what we're after, a complete solution to the global housing crisis in our lifetimes.
That's what we're after.
I think, one day, the sort of narrative will be, how on earth can we still build with a stick frame, when we know that these resilient materials are readily available?
It's very much early days, but I think it's going to proceed like all revolutions, like, slowly at first and then all at once.
STEPHANIE SY: Back in Virginia, April Stringfield is busy making her house feel more like a home.
Are there any other things about the concrete home that feel different?
APRIL STRINGFIELD: No, it's only really the outside of it, you know how it was built, but the inside is just like a regular home.
The home is great.
STEPHANIE SY: Her favorite part?
APRIL STRINGFIELD: I love my kitchen.
I wanted lemons, so I have lemons sort of there, here, towels and stuff.
STEPHANIE SY: Lemon-themed kitchen?
APRIL STRINGFIELD: Lemon-themed kitchen, mm-hmm, something bright, I guess, happy color, yellow.
STEPHANIE SY: A happy color for a happy 3-D-printed home.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Stephanie Sy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Jury deliberation began today in the trial of three former officers involved with the killing of George Floyd.
The verdict is being closely watched in the ongoing conversation around police violence, accountability and treatment of people of color.
Those larger questions have led some Black Americans to question whether America is the right home for them.
Amna Nawaz has a conversation with an author about how she grappled with this very question.
It's part of our series Race Matters.
AMNA NAWAZ: Judy, even before the murder of George Floyd, Black Americans have considered moving abroad, and some have done so, emigrating to countries around the world.
Tiffanie Drayton has had her own experience, one she documents in her new memoir, "Black American Refugee."
And she joins me now.
Tiffanie Drayton, welcome to the "NewsHour."
Thanks for joining us.
I want to get to all the details in your book and the whole story, but I want to ask you first about the title, because the use of the word refugee for a lot of Americans conjures a very specific story.
And I'm curious why you chose that word.
TIFFANIE DRAYTON, Author, "Black American Refugee: Escaping the Narcissism of the American Dream": I think the word refugee evokes the sense that somebody is running away from violence, trying to escape desperate circumstances.
And that's precisely what my life had come to at that moment when I decided I could no longer stay here.
As a Black woman that has fought her way through dealing with poverty, violence, being in neighborhoods and environments that are constantly under policing that you watch claim the lives of people who look like you, you start to feel and recognize your life is under threat.
Even as you live in one of the most -- in one of the richest countries in the world, you can still be under threat.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, let's start at the beginning for a moment in your story.
You were very young when you came to the United States, right?
You were about 4 years old.
Your mother had come previously from Trinidad and Tobago.
She left in search of better work and opportunities, saved up and brought you and your siblings over.
So you settle into American life as a young child.
Tell me what you remember about that time.
What was it like?
TIFFANIE DRAYTON: Oh, the first memory I really have of the United States of America is landing in JFK Airport and flying over the -- seeing the New York City skyline, like just the bright lights and all of these -- like, the Statue of Liberty.
And my brother was like: "Look, they're lighting up for us."
He swore it was our personal invitation to the country.
And that really is that moment that asserted for me that, yes, America was the place where dreams come true.
And my first experiences with America pretty much showed that.
I lived in this little, tiny bustling immigrant town.
It was a very safe environment, one of those go out and play until dark and come back in environments for kids.
And it was just so freeing.
And I was enamored really with my first experiences with the United States.
AMNA NAWAZ: Your very first chapter has the title "Love Bombing," which is a very specific phrase.
Why did you choose that?
What does that mean?
TIFFANIE DRAYTON: My book compares the relationship that a victim has with an abuser to the relationship Black people have with the United States of America.
My thesis is that Black people are enthralled in an abusive relationship with America.
And love bombing is the first part of the cycle of abuse, where the abuser will sell you this narrative that everything is perfect, you're meant for me, I'm meant for you, and we are on our way to realizing the ideal dream of this perfect union.
And that's precisely how many Americans, especially immigrants, kind of come to the country with these grand ideas of how amazing and how many opportunities they're going to have.
AMNA NAWAZ: There's a pivotal moment in your story.
That is the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
Tell me about what impact that had on you.
TIFFANIE DRAYTON: By the time the shooting of Trayvon Martin was a national discussion and there was this outcry over George Zimmerman's verdict specifically, I had already, through my own experiences and research, come to the conclusion that, hey, look, listen, I cannot live here.
I can't deal with this racism.
And it was something I was trying to navigate for myself and help other people understand.
But, in that era, people were not open to the idea that racism was a problem, right?
The Trayvon Martin murder and verdict really forced people to grapple with the reality that they were looking at a child being killed, and, subsequently, his murderer not facing any charges.
And, for me, it was just really, truly heartbreaking.
But, simultaneously, it affirmed what I had known for so long, and it felt affirming for other people to finally see and come to the same conclusion.
AMNA NAWAZ: You make the decision that you have to leave.
But I'm curious, what would you -- what would you worry what have happened if you would stayed?
TIFFANIE DRAYTON: Well, at the time that I explicitly decided I could no longer stay, my family financially, we were just really struggling to get by.
And my mother purchased a home, which was the only home she could really afford, in this impoverished, crime-filled area.
And there were many times I walked down the street and there were drug raids.
There were oftentimes I went to sleep to the sound of men screaming up and down the street that demons are chasing them, because they're on drugs.
So, quite frankly, I was literally fleeing for my life, because I couldn't move again.
I couldn't afford a safe neighborhood anymore.
And I recognized very quickly that could mean danger.
AMNA NAWAZ: Tiffanie, where do you live now?
Where do you call home?
What is life like for you now?
TIFFANIE DRAYTON: I live in Trinidad and Tobago, but in Tobago specifically.
The pandemic has changed everything around the world.
But one thing that hasn't changed is this sense of home, just being able to go out into your neighborhood and walk around freely, and nobody's looking at you or your children because you're people of color, saying, you don't belong in this neighborhood, being able to go to the park and allow my children to run around and not be afraid of stares of people who think that they shouldn't be there.
It's just one of those really freeing, affirming experiences for me as a Black woman to be around other Black people who themselves are comfortable and safe and secure, and creating that environment together.
AMNA NAWAZ: We should note this book grew from a piece, an essay you wrote, right, for The New York Times back in 2020.
That was called: "I'm a Black American.
I Had to Get Out."
I'm curious what kind of response you got to that?
Did you hear from other people who were considering the same thing or other Black emigres who had done the same thing before you?
TIFFANIE DRAYTON: There was an explosive response, people firstly affirming my decision, because it was not only -- at that point, not only Black people were having that conversation, but everybody was afraid of Trump.
Many white people even were like, can I live here?
Am I safe here?
What's going to happen with this country?
So it was a very affirming moment, again, where I was able to feel finally like the world understood my position.
And it was -- it continues to be something that really haunts me, because it's not something that you want to be right about.
You don't want to be right that maybe America's not safe for many people.
You want to be proven wrong.
And I'm still open to being proven wrong.
AMNA NAWAZ: The very final line of that piece stuck with me.
You wrote: "I admire the strength of Black people who remain in America and continue to endure.
I hope and pray that one day they too will find freedom."
Do you believe that that's possible in America?
TIFFANIE DRAYTON: I have learned to believe in the impossible, because, you see, when you recognize that your ancestors came to a land or to a region of the world in the belly of a ship, and yet you still remain, and yet here I am, educated, publishing a book, these are things that, perhaps if I went 300 years ago and told my ancestors that I would be doing it, they would say, impossible.
And yet here it is, right?
So I believe in what other people may believe is impossible.
There is absolutely nothing that we cannot do if we put our collective energy in that direction.
AMNA NAWAZ: The book is "Black American Refugee."
The author is Tiffanie Drayton.
Tiffanie, thank you so much for your time.
TIFFANIE DRAYTON: Thank you so much.
It was a pleasure.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Peter Kahn has taught English and spoken word poetry to thousands of students at Chicago's Oak Park and River Forest High School since 1994.
Now, in collaboration with his current and former students, Kahn is releasing the anthology "Respect the Mic: Celebrating 20 Years of Poetry from a Chicagoland High School."
Tonight, he offers us his Brief But Spectacular take on spoken word poetry.
It's part of our arts and culture series, Canvas.
PETER KAHN, Teacher and Poet: One of the things I love about teaching is seeing kids who didn't believe in themself develop that self-confidence and then go on to do big things with it.
I definitely consider myself a teacher first, poet second.
I use poetry as a vehicle to reach young people and adults.
Thirty students look at me and 45 minutes later, look to me, and I'm hooked.
And I'm floating and anchored at the same time, for the first time.
And I'm whole and broken open, and I'm spinning and stunned still.
I used to hate poetry.
I hated it as a student.
I hated it as a teacher.
I was inept at teaching it.
And in the mid-'90s, I brought in a former student, Jonathan Vaughn, to help me out.
And he came in.
And he mentioned the idea of a poetry slam.
And my students asked if we could do that.
So, we went ahead and did a poetry slam.
And the student with the lowest grade in my class ended up winning it.
And everybody looked at the kid differently after that.
And he looked at himself differently, more importantly.
And a light bulb went on.
And I met up with some sophomore English teachers, and we redesigned the curriculum to make it focused on contemporary poets, musical artists, and getting kids writing and sharing their own poetry.
We teach them some basic skills and some more advanced skills, but it's really about their voice.
And it's about personal narrative and sharing with them some contemporary poets they might not be familiar with, particularly writers of color, and giving them ways into their own narrative and the tools that they can write poems that they're proud of.
And then, on the last day of the week, it's very nerve-racking for most kids, because it's public speaking and poetry that they don't think they're good at, but we get them up in front of their classes and they share one of the poems that they wrote during the week.
STUDENTS: All the girls whose bodies are in question, whose skin is open-ended be a bleeding Bible, be the breast milk, and the Britney.
Be the Brandy, and Beyonce.
Be the bad, and the booty and the brain cells.
Aren't you glad that you're a -- mmm -- 'cause knock, knock, who is there?
Not me no more.
STUDENT: I'm still breathing.
I'm still breathing.
PETER KAHN: I think it's tragic how little investment there is in poetry and other arts in schools.
We are so fortunate that our school has made this big investment.
And one of my life goals is to get this kind of programming in other schools.
Poetry is having quite a heyday now, in part because of Amanda Gorman.
And spoken word poetry is becoming the mainstream as a result.
Because we're going through so much as a society, as a world, writing about what you're going through is a really healthy way of doing that.
So, I think poetry has a primary place in the world at the moment.
And I think it's going to keep expanding, and that more and more people take to writing it and reading it.
My students teach me every single day.
They teach me about humanity, about empathy, about courage, about standing up for themselves.
They're as much of a role model to me as I am to them.
My name is Peter Kahn, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on how spoken word poetry amplifies student voice.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So uplifting.
And you can watch all our Brief But Spectacular episodes at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.
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.