JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff. On the "NewsHour" tonight: FBI under fire. We explore the threats of violence against FBI agents following the search of former President Trump's Florida home. Then: at the court. Florida judges rule that a 16-year-old girl is not mature enough to have an abortion, meaning she will continue with an unwanted pregnancy. And it's Friday. David Brooks and Ruth Marcus weigh in on the results of critical primary elections and the many investigations surrounding Donald Trump.
All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour." (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: New blasts of extreme weather are taking a toll around the globe tonight. The latest in a series of fierce heat waves has moved into the U.S. Northwest, and violent storms and drought are ravaging parts of Europe and Asia. William Brangham has our report. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In cities across France, sheets of rain and hail pound the streets, trees are uprooted in backyards, and people wade through stormwaters overflowing onto sidewalks. These extreme events, which climate scientists say are increasingly being driven by a warming world, are spreading wider and wider. In Germany, it's been the opposite. An extreme drought has shrunk some of the nation's major rivers, snarling cargo traffic, as ships struggle to navigate increasingly narrow channels.
New satellite images show the before-and-after of a nearly dry Rhine River. The storms inundating France are expected in the coming days. And while those rains could help the Rhine, they have already taken seven lives in France and Italy; 140 mile-an-hour winds hit the island of Corsica just off the coast of those two nations. While experts say the storms are something of a reprieve from drought, this volume is too much to handle. ERIC SAUQUET, French National Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (through translator): We were waiting for precipitation, but not with this much intensity.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Over 4,000 miles away, in China, another drought is under way. Facing months of heat waves, residents of Chongqing in the Sichuan province say the wind now just blows heat. WOMAN (through translator): I feel like I'm standing on a gas stove. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The Yangtze River has shrunk to half its normal width. Farmers that rely on the river for their crops say the heat and drought are destroying their harvest.
CHEN XIAOHUA, Farmer (through translator): Those scorched, you see. It certainly cannot grow, the high temperatures slowly roasting sweet potato leaves to death. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: These extremes are seen most clearly in the Arctic. New research shows parts of that region are warming four and in some places seven times faster than previously known. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham. JUDY WOODRUFF: There is a new move in Congress to minimize online threats against the FBI. The problem has surged since agents searched former President Trump's home in Florida. Now The Washington Post reports that Democrats on the U.S. House Oversight Committee have written to eight social media companies. They are seeking information on the problem and on what's being done about it. We will return to the overall threat situation after the news summary.
A British man was sentenced today to life in a U.S. prison without parole in the Islamic State killings of four Americans. El Shafee Elsheikh had been convicted last April in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. Families of the victims gathered after today's sentencing. They included Diane Foley, whose son, journalist James Foley, was beheaded. DIANE FOLEY, Mother of James Foley: Let this sentencing make clear to all who dared to kidnap, torture or kill any American citizen abroad that U.S. justice will find you wherever you are, and that our government will hold you accountable for your crimes against our citizens. JUDY WOODRUFF: Elsheikh was extradited from Britain with the understanding that he would not face the death penalty. Fires burned today at a Russian munitions depot just outside Northeastern Ukraine after explosions overnight. One fire forced two villages in Russia's Belgorod region to be evacuated. The incident appeared to be the latest in a series of attacks on Russian military sites. Meanwhile, the U.S. pledged a further $775 million in military aid for Ukraine, including armored vehicles and surveillance drones.
The total is now $10 billion since the war began. The former Roman Catholic cleric — or, rather, archbishop of Quebec, Canada, denied today that he sexually assaulted a woman. Vatican Cardinal Marc Ouellet has been named in a class-action lawsuit in Quebec that accuses 88 clerics of sexual assault and abuse. Just yesterday, the Holy Sea said that its preliminary investigation found no reason to pursue the matter. Back in this country, the U.S. Transportation Department is urging airlines to do more for delayed travelers. Federal officials blame airlines staffing shortages for thousands of flight disruptions this summer. The carriers have blamed air traffic control staffing. The department today asked for meal vouchers for passengers who are delayed three hours or more and hotel lodging for overnight delays. And on Wall Street, tech stocks retreated again and the market broke a four-week winning streak. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 292 points to close at 33706. The Nasdaq fell 260 points, the S&P 500 slipped 55.
And, for the week, the Dow lost a fraction, the Nasdaq fell 2.6 percent, the S&P 500 dropped 1 percent. Still to come on the "NewsHour": David Brooks and Ruth Marcus weigh in on the week's political headlines; the bestselling Afghan novel "The Kite Runner" is adapted for Broadway; a camp in Arizona teachers foster children cowboy skills; plus much more. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and its agents have become targets of threats in the days since the agency carried out a court-approved search of former President Donald Trump's estate.
Much of the heated rhetoric has come from Trump himself and his allies. And, already, one man was killed by law enforcement after attempting to storm a field office in Cincinnati, Ohio. Here with me now to discuss all of this is retired Special Agent Frank Montoya, who served 26 years in the FBI. Frank Montoya, welcome back to the "NewsHour." We have been planning to talk to you for a couple of days based on threats that we saw out there. But I just have to share that, just in the last hour or so, on this Friday afternoon, former President Trump has posted on social media strong comments And I'm just going to quote from some of them. He refers to what he calls atrocities being perpetrated by the FBI and the DOJ. He says: "The law enforcement of our country has become that of a Third World nation and I do not believe that people will stand for it.
Never in our country's history has there been a time where law enforcement has been so viciously and violently involved in the life and times of politics in our nation. They have no shame. They are destroying our country." Has there been anything like this before in the history of the FBI? FRANK MONTOYA JR., Former FBI Official: Never. I cannot think of any instance in my lifetime or even before then in the history of the FBI where something like was so egregiously foisted upon them. JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you account for what's happened here? Because there was the search of former President Trump's estate in Florida, Mar-a-Lago. There was a court-approved warrant for that search. And yet the president and his allies, his supporters have ever since then come down with a steady stream of attacks and threats on the FBI. FRANK MONTOYA JR.: Well, I think what it reveals is that there's a lot of concern amongst his inner circle and amongst — with him, in particular, about how close this investigation is getting to the truth.
The things that he's been saying all along, whether there was planted evidence, or that he had this unequivocal, unadulterated ability to declassify, or to just outright attack the men and women of the FBI, who are doing their jobs, who are responding to allegations from outside, reacting to it with a search warrant, and then, again, doing their jobs, collecting the evidence and removing that documentation. And it really suggests that he's worried about what they're what they're finding, not what they will find, what they are finding, and what will happen next as far as potential prosecution.
So, yes, he's running scared. That's what it sounds like. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the language has become, I mean, just — I mean, to say over the top is an understatement. There are — we have seen quotes where they have written about killing the enemy. Steve Bannon, who's a longtime adviser to the former president, has talked about the FBI is like the Gestapo and talking about, we're at war. How do — I mean, you have been in contact, I know, with — you have many friends in the bureau. How are they seeing all this? How are they — how do they — how are they taking it in? FRANK MONTOYA JR.: Well, it ticks them off. I mean, they're trying to deal with it, take it in stride. Addressing threats, dealing with threats on a daily basis is what they do. But what really concerns them is the input, the possible or potential impact that this can have on family members, especially with their kids getting ready to go back to school, and with their colleagues, the intelligence analysts and the support personnel, who don't carry weapons for a living.
It really is making for a difficult work environment. Now, they're going to continue to do what they do. They're going to press forward. They're going to uphold their oath to support and defend the Constitution, to uphold the rule of law. But, at the same time, we are in — I don't like to use this word. I don't think many people do. But we are in unprecedented times, because they truly are. We're looking at words coming out, not just out of his mouth, but other so-called responsible leaders in this country, who are constantly bashing individuals, professionals who are doing their jobs on a daily basis to the best of their abilities, following the rule of law. And in addition to the threats that those words pose to them, it also undermines the very efforts that they're supposed to that — that they're attempting to uphold. It really — it's an attack on the Constitution, as much as it is on these agents that are really working hard to uphold it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And that's a question I wanted to get to, because how is it possible for the agency to do its job when you have more and more of the American people who the FBI and DOJ, Department of Justice are serving not having confidence in the — not just not having confidence in them, but thinking they are the enemies of the people? FRANK MONTOYA JR.: Yes. So, that's a really terrible side effect of all of this nonsensical rhetoric, that people are questioning the very reasons that the FBI exists.
It's not just about questioning their honesty and integrity, but their reason for existing. And there was a time when most Americans, many Americans, they looked at the rule of law and they looked at the Constitution as something worth upholding, as something that could be upheld. And, right now, with all of this negative language that's out there, all this negative rhetoric is really causing even normal, regular people, my neighbors, to question whether or not the FBI is doing what it's supposed to do, as opposed to acting like a rogue agency. And the fact of the matter is, nothing could be farther from the truth about that rogue nature, about the adjectives, the words and descriptions that the former president is using to describe really good people, who are just like your neighbors, your — the folks that live in your community, whose children go to your schools, where they're just doing their jobs, reacting to the circumstances of our current environment, and doing it in the best way possible, at the same time, taking care of themselves and, more importantly, their friends and families.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, well, we are going to leave it there. We certainly are continuing to watch this as it develops, and, again, with these new comments today from the former president. Frank Montoya, who served in the FBI for 26 years, thank you very much. FRANK MONTOYA JR.: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: A 16-year-old's request to have an abortion in the state of Florida has been denied by the courts in a decision that upheld a lower court ruling. A state appeals court this week said that she was not — quote — "sufficiently mature" to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy. John Yang has more details on case and what it reveals about state abortion laws requiring parental consent. JOHN YANG: Judy, the teenager in this case is identified in court documents only as Jane Doe 22B.
She was 11 weeks pregnant as of Monday. She told the court she wasn't ready to have a baby, didn't have a job and that the father of the baby wasn't able to help her. Court documents describe her as parentless. So she asked a judge in the Florida Panhandle for permission to end the pregnancy without the consent of a parent or guardian. Florida is one of 36 states requiring parental consent for a minor to have an abortion. Jeri Beth Cohen is a retired Miami-Dade child welfare judge.
She retired in 2020, after 28 years on the bench. The question a lot of people are asking is that the law says she has to be mature enough to make this decision, and this judge said no. But if she's not mature enough to make the decision, how is she mature enough to carry this pregnancy to term? JERI BETH COHEN, Former Florida Circuit Court Judge: Well, that's really the problem with all these notification and consent statutes, isn't it? If you can't make the decision, you're not mature enough to do that, should you be bringing a child in the world — into the world? And I think what the courts are saying is, look, you got to go back and tell a parent, we're not going to allow you to do this without the consent of your parent or your guardian.
Most of these minors, I would say nearly 100 percent of them, who feel they can go to a parent, that a parent will be receptive to helping them, will go to their parent. But it makes no logical sense. And, in fact, wasn't this minor showing incredible maturity by getting herself to court, by saying, look, I don't have the financial ability, I'm doing a GED right now, I'm parentless, I don't have the emotional strength or the physical strength to do this, and I am making this decision for myself, I am empowering myself to have a better life, isn't that really showing extraordinary maturity? JOHN YANG: As you say, you handled these cases when you were on the bench.
Does the law give you any guidance on a standard for determining maturity? And how would you — how did you approach these cases? JERI BETH COHEN: Well, there's three conditions under which you can grant a waiver. One is that the minor is mature enough to make the decision. In those cases, I used to ask a series of questions. Have you spoken with a trusted family member or a friend or a school counselor? Have you received information on any medical consequences that may result from both a pregnancy or an abortion? Have you spoken to the father if that father was around? Why do you feel that this is not an appropriate pregnancy to carry to term at this point in your life? And you can sort of get a very good feel for whether or not the minor has considered the pros and cons, what her family situation is, and whether or not she's mature enough to make this decision.
A lot of the — some of this is just common sense. There's no particular standards laid out in the statute. JOHN YANG: This is getting a lot of attention, obviously, because it comes after the Supreme Court has overturn Roe vs. Wade. But this really doesn't have anything to do with that. This has been the case, these have been the challenges — or highlights the challenges that adolescents seeking abortions have been facing all along. JERI BETH COHEN: This has been the law in Florida for quite a while. It started with parental notification and then it went to parental consent. So this is — does not have anything to do with the recent overturning of Roe v.
Wade. What I found in all those years is, when a minor can go to a parent and feels that that parent will help her make the decision, will not be judgmental, will not kick her out of the home, will not be physically abusive, that minor will go to her parent. I was a minor who needed an abortion in 1970. This was before Roe v. Wade. It was legal in New York. I was able to go to my mother, and she took me to New York. Was I frightened to tell her? Yes, I was. But I knew that I wouldn't be kicked out of the home, I wouldn't be physically abused. I knew that I had an understanding parent. And most minors, when they can, will go to their parent. These are minors that do not feel they can. And, in this case, this young woman didn't have any parents. She was under the jurisdiction of the state. And her caseworker and her guardian, in fact, supported her decision.
JOHN YANG: What options does she — are left to her now, both in the courts? And could she, as you did, travel out of state? JERI BETH COHEN: Right. Well, the first thing is, she can go back into this trial court because the judge left that open. And, hopefully, she will get herself an attorney, her guardian ad litem will help her get an attorney, and she will go back into court and re-plead her case. Now, this can be very traumatizing. But that's one thing she can do. If she runs up against the 15-week abortion ban in Florida, she will have to travel out of state. And there are numerous funds around Florida that will fund that travel and help her get an abortion.
Keep in mind, she will have to get the permission of the Department of Children and Families to travel because she's under their jurisdiction. And her window of opportunity to obtain a medical, instead of a surgical abortion, will have passed. And that drives up the cost significantly. JOHN YANG: Retired Florida child welfare Judge Jeri Beth Cohen, thank you very much. JERI BETH COHEN: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: This week's primaries once again demonstrated the strength and the limits of former President Donald Trump's influence over the GOP. To discuss that and much more, we turn to the analysis of Brooks and Marcus. That's New York Times columnist David Brooks and Ruth Marcus, deputy editorial page editor for The Washington Post. Jonathan Capehart is away. It's so good to see both of you on this Friday night. But the subjects are a little — a little tough to talk about. I do want to start, David, with what I interviewed the former FBI agent Frank Montoya about a few minutes ago, and that are this ongoing, this flood of not just strong comments, but threats against the FBI, the Department of Justice since the search of former President Trump's home.
How seriously should we be taking all this? DAVID BROOKS: I think pretty seriously. I think he made a good case. I have friends who are FBI agents, and they have been over my house for dinner. And in the middle of dinner, they get a text and they got to run. These are men and women who are — who are just responsible citizens. They take protecting this country very seriously.
And they are patriotic. And I think, in the case of Donald Trump, it's a bit of projection, that the assumption that nobody is on the level, that nobody's disinterestedly serving the country is maybe a Trump mentality, but it's not the mentality of a lot of people who work for the federal government. And it's not the mentality of most people who work in the FBI. They are disinterested. They want to protect the country. They want to be public servants. They're not particularly political. And so to portray them as some sort of partisan witch-hunt is just a distortion of reality. And then it becomes dangerous when it turns into incitement.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Ruth, how dangerous is this? I mean, the language is — I was reading some of it a moment ago, sharing it with the audience. Some of it, it is truly over the top. RUTH MARCUS: It is reprehensible, the quote that you had from the most recent comments of President Trump calling these atrocities. We know what atrocities are. And FBI agents conducting a search under the auspices of a warrant approved by a federal judge are not committing atrocities. They are actually following the rule of law. And if there's any party that should recognize this and leap to the FBI's defense, the defense of law enforcement generally, it's the Republican Party, which has been beating its chest about Democrats being soft on crime and clamoring, supposedly, for defunding the police. The FBI are the folks who have been working diligently before and after 9/11 to keep us safe from foreign terrorists. The notion that they have somehow been transformed by this or other acts into the enemy, the enemy that's being targeted by Donald Trump, is just — it's beyond the normal gaslighting that we're used to.
And it's a slur on people who, as David said, really put their lives on the line, devote their careers, upend their family lives to help all of us. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, as we say, it's something — it is something that we're watching. It doesn't seem to be dying down or slowing down in any way. I do want to bring us tonight to the primaries this week. David, Liz Cheney, there were so many — so much focus on her contest for reelection representing the state of Wyoming in the Congress. She lost by 40 points. And I want to ask you both about it. But, first, here's just a clip of just part of what she had to say in her concession speech on Tuesday night. REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I ask you tonight to join me. As we leave here, let us resolve that we will stand together, Republicans, Democrats and independents, against those who would destroy our republic.
They are angry, and they are determined, but they have not seen anything like the power of Americans united in defense of our Constitution and committed to the cause of freedom. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David, she saying that — and she went on to describe this movement that she's — or organization she's creating to try to stand up to the former president. But, I mean, what are the prospects for that effort? I mean, how possible is it to change minds? DAVID BROOKS: Well, not very. It's clear she wants to run. She made a reference to Abraham Lincoln, who served in the House and then ran for president. And she'd be a formidable candidate in some way. I think she'd get a lot of funding. She'd get a lot of media attention. The question should be, if she ran for president, is, first, should she — could she get on the debate stage with Donald Trump? The Republican National Committee would do everything possible to prevent that.
On the other hand, I don't think there's a mainstream media organization who would host a Republican debate without Liz Cheney on the stage. And so that has some power. And I assume every non-Trump candidate wants her on the stage. So, if she got on the stage, it would have power, at least in the national conversation. And so I do think she's somewhat formidable. I think the overall story the last couple of weeks is that this is once again Trump's party. I really felt that — a month or two ago, that a lot of Republicans wanted to move on. I no longer think that. I think this is now Donald Trump's party. If he wants the nomination, he can get it. He will get it. And I read an interesting interview with a guy who was consulting with Ron DeSantis, the governor from Florida.
And he said, once the FBI did the search on Mar-a-Lago, we sort of just stepped back, because it was clear there was no avenue for anybody but Donald Trump to get the nomination. And I think that's the reality right now. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Ruth, do you agree it's Donald Trump's party? And if it is, what does that say about what Liz Cheney is trying to do? RUTH MARCUS: Well, it tells us that Liz Cheney is an incredibly brave and a not uniquely brave person, but an unusually brave person, if you compare her behavior to the behavior of most of her colleagues in elective office. Look, Donald Trump has a death grip on the party. If you dare to cross him, and then don't at least apologize on bended knee, your political career, your career in elective office is over. Liz Cheney understood that. She went into this race knowing that, when she did what she did, she — despite being a Cheney here, in Wyoming, where I am right now, in Cheney country, because I'm in one of the two counties that actually voted for her, you are going to lose.
She did it anyway because she thought it was important to call him to account. And that's why she's flirting with this presidential run. She's not — and I'm going to quote Hillary Clinton, which I never thought I would do in a sentence about Liz Cheney. She's not in it to win it, as Hillary Clinton used to say. She's in it to stop him, to do what she can to stop him. Is that going to be easy? Certainly, on what David describes as his march — successful march to the nomination, no. But somebody has got to try. And I have to say, I am incredibly impressed and, quite honestly, thankful for what Liz Cheney has done and is trying to do. JUDY WOODRUFF: David, what arguments work, would work in the environment that we're in? Again, in a Republican — in a Republican Party that, as you say, Donald Trump is dominating, what arguments would work against him right now? DAVID BROOKS: I have not encountered that argument.
(LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: One of the things that I thought was that, if you had a bunch of lifelong Republicans saying, I'm a Republican, I'm a conservative, but I just don't think — I think Donald Trump is a menace to our democracy. And The Lincoln Project and lots of other people have put up ads — and Liz Cheney is a personification of this — and said, no, this guy is a menace to our democracy for X, Y and Z reason, that that would at least have some credibility with Republican voters. The evidence so far is, it does not, that Republican voters like Donald Trump. They think the election — the economy was good under Donald Trump. They think it's bad now. Their number one focus is defeating Joe Biden and the Democrats, who they think are out to get them and out to get Donald Trump.
It's just a very rare thing in American life in 2022 to go against your party and to say the focus is someone — the real threat right now is someone in my own party. That's what Liz Cheney did. And I absolutely think she's right. I think she's incredibly brave. I think the physical threats against her are real. And she's facing up to those. But there are just not a lot of Americans who are willing to go against their own party in 2022. And so, if there are arguments to persuade pro-Trump people not to be pro-Trump people, well, I would say they have not worked for six or seven years. JUDY WOODRUFF: But meantime, Ruth, a number of the Senate candidates and governor candidates, for that matter, in some states around the country that Donald Trump has endorsed are not doing well in those races.
And that was acknowledged just yesterday by the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell. Here's just a clip of what he had to say talking to an audience. I'm now told we don't have the clip. I'm just — the — just — I will just cite to you part of what he said. He said he thinks there's a greater likelihood that the House would flip to Republican than the Senate. And he said candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome. And, of course, that's being read as the Trump-endorsed candidates are the ones having difficulty. What does that say to you? RUTH MARCUS: Well, it says to me that that's a potential answer to the question that you just asked David, which is, what, if anything, could dissuade Trump voters and Trump supporters from continuing their support for him? And the only answer I can come up with is this — to have leaders of the party, if they are willing and have the fortitude to do that, to come forward and say, in more precise and straightforward language than Mitch McConnell has been willing to, this guy is taking us down.
For the second cycle in a row, this guy, the former guy, is going to deny us or, after the election, has denied us control of the Senate. This guy is going to imperil our ability to take back the White House. There are other people who embody the beliefs that — and personality traits even that you found so compelling in Donald Trump, but you could have Trump without the baggage. And that is — I'm grasping at straws here, but that's the argument I would make. I think that I took Senator McConnell's words and his political analysis to be a kind of Mitch McConnell's version of a hair-on-fire moment, that he — Mitch McConnell, more than anything else, wants to be Majority Leader McConnell again.
He thought he was going to get that last time. He didn't, largely because of Donald Trump and Donald Trump's insistence on making trouble for candidates, especially in Georgia. And he's looking at it slipping away from his grasp again. It very well could. That can fairly be tied to Trumpists and Trump-backed candidates. Republicans have been able to do this successfully in getting some of the crazier, more extreme candidates off the ballot, and — but they're risking the potential to seize control of the Senate now. JUDY WOODRUFF: So — and, David, what does it say to you that some of these Trump-endorsed candidates could cost the Republicans a majority? DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I see it a little — slightly differently. Mitch McConnell's absolutely right. Candidate quality really matters in the Senate race. And Herschel Walker in Georgia, Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania, J.D. Vance in Ohio, they're way underperforming. But I don't — I don't think this reflects on Donald Trump. The king clown somehow makes — makes himself electable.
The junior clowns have trouble. And so the people who are pretending to beat Trumpists are somehow less persuasive. I don't think this is a sign that we should think that Trumpism is not super powerful. I think it is. It's just some of the juniors, the minor league clowns, who are — who are just not running up to speed. (LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: And I do think those races are really in trouble. And, as a result, Mitch McConnell is absolutely right. The Democrats are much more likely to retain the Senate. JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, I'm keeping all those images in my head tonight and for the weekend. (LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Ruth Marcus, we thank you both. DAVID BROOKS: Thank you, Judy. RUTH MARCUS: Thanks. JUDY WOODRUFF: It's a tale that strikes at the heart of Afghan-American identity, a generation of people who fled the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to find themselves in America, starting over, watching painfully as their former homeland is torn apart. "The Kite Runner," based on Khaled Hosseini's bestselling novel, opened as a play on Broadway last month.
Special correspondent Jane Ferguson takes a look at the story behind the story for our arts and culture series, Canvas. ACTOR: Let's fly! JANE FERGUSON: It is a rare opportunity for Afghan stories to take center stage in the theater world and for actors with roots from the region to play characters who mean so much to them. ACTOR: Hassan was the greatest kite runner I had ever seen. AZITA GHANIZADA, Actress: I think having the story done right now in this specific time in history is really special.
Here on Broadway, the pinnacle of what theater is and storytelling is, never in a million years did I think I'd see a celebration of Afghan culture on Broadway. I just — I didn't grow up thinking that. I did not imagine it could happen. Most of the stories — about the culture are military-focused. JANE FERGUSON: Azita Ghanizada is an L.A.-based actor who has worked on various television series for years. Like her own character in the play, she came to America as a child when the Soviets took over Kabul in 1979. AZITA GHANIZADA: She then made her way to Hollywood 20 years later having never even owned a piece of luggage, and somehow made it onto television post-9/11 and has never played a terrorist or a refugee. That person is me. JANE FERGUSON: Azita, who is also an activist campaigning for the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan, spoke at the TED Talk spinoff, TEDx, in 2020 about life growing up here as an Afghan immigrant. AZITA GHANIZADA: I worked so hard to prove my worth that I went on to win every single award at that school, from patrol of the year, to the Daughters of the American Revolution Citizenship Award.
(LAUGHTER) AZITA GHANIZADA: That's right. This little Afghan girl won an award dedicated to preserving American patriotism. (LAUGHTER) JANE FERGUSON: To her, the impact the play is having on others who may have felt like her growing up is the greatest reward for the hard work. AZITA GHANIZADA: I have spoken to young girls that speak Farsi and Dari and Arabic, and something that many of the young girls — and I'm talking teenaged aged — do and say to me is, I have never heard my language not heard violently on television or in movies.
I have never heard it not as a threat. And they cry, because they're told that that's who they are, that's how they should feel and respond to their own language. So, for them to come and hear that and see that in a celebration and have them be outside is absolutely phenomenal. JANE FERGUSON: This is about more than cultural sensitivity. To the creative team behind the show, it's also about historical accuracy, getting the story right. HUMAIRA GHILZAI, Cultural Adviser and Script Consultant: When in history is this story set? Who are these people? What are their backgrounds, their education level, and where they live, whether it's Kabul and Herat, means completely different dialects of Farsi. JANE FERGUSON: Cultural adviser and script consultant Humaira Ghilzai also carefully considered everything, from the costumes to the set and language.
Her attention to detail reflects a standard she knows the Afghan Americans in the audience demand. HUMAIRA GHILZAI: My biggest fear is the Afghan audiences. (LAUGHTER) HUMAIRA GHILZAI: The general audience, they're, yes, they are going to be impressed. It is no problem. But they are really my target. That is who I represent, that is who I work for, and that is my responsibility as an Afghan American. While I was there for the previews, which is the time that we really look at audience feedback, I would go every day, stand outside, and then flag everyone I thought was Afghan, and then ask them what they thought. And I would encourage them, please don't be polite. We really — I really want to hear from you. JANE FERGUSON: The play was planned before Kabul fell to the Taliban last August, but with this week marking the one-year the anniversary of that date, the public display of Afghan culture is all the more poignant.
The entire play is set to live performances of traditional African drums played by California-based musician Salar Nader. SALAR NADER, Musician: The first day that happened, I was awake for probably two nights in a row. Saw the fall. OK, what can I do? Get out with your instrument and play, sing and dance as much as you can, and try to share the infectious grooves of Afghanistan. I want 1,000 people each night walking out of this theater knowing that, OK, let's be there for the Afghan people. JANE FERGUSON: Live performances, like this one of Salar in 2015 on Afghan TV, are now banned. But, he says, musicians there remain defiant and won't let this culture die. SALAR NADER: I'm in close contact with a lot of the musicians, so they still have their Facebook Messenger accounts. And I get five to 10 messages every morning and at night. And so, online, a lot of the young performers and percussionists have been training with me. And so, although they might not be able to play it outdoors or at a wedding or within a concert, there's also a mental practice we do.
And there's also hidden ways of practice that musicians and artists have done for hundreds of years. JANE FERGUSON: More than 76,000 Afghans have arrived in the U.S. since the fall of Kabul to the Taliban. Among the ranks of those fleeing are writers, actors, musicians, whose art forms are banned by the Taliban. The entertainment industry is likely to go on telling more stories of Afghanistan and the U.S.' war there in years to come. Those like Humaira hope a fresh take on that storytelling will evolve too. HUMAIRA GHILZAI: What I would like to see is that we don't portray Afghans and Afghanistan in the same monolithic way we have before in a lot of the movies that were done prior to last year. There was always Afghan women cowering in a corner. Somebody was screaming at them. Then there would be the Taliban running around with a big turban. So I would love to see more diversity in thinking and more nuance in the storytelling. ACTOR: Red, blue, and yellow kites fly and spun past each other. JANE FERGUSON: There has never been a better time for industry leaders to do that, as the community of Afghan creatives in America grows rapidly.
SALAR NADER: We have been here now for 40 years. And we are here. And we are ready to actually use our voice. So it's just a matter of a little bit of investigating to see who's here, who's available. JANE FERGUSON: Azita looks forward to seeing their talents blossom here. AZITA GHANIZADA: We are storytellers, and we're poets and we're musicians. I mean, that's the beginning of culture, really. And so all of that history that lives inside of us, we just have to be willing to forge our own path, whether it's being an actor, whether it's producing, whether it's writing, whether it's joining programming. JANE FERGUSON: Tough as the business is, she is confident Afghans will thrive. AZITA GHANIZADA: You know, we're war refugees. We started over with two suitcases and no money and no community and no support system. Those people are really strong, and they have been through a lot. They can handle Hollywood. JANE FERGUSON: For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jane Ferguson in New York.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will be back shortly to see how some young people in foster care are riding out of their comfort zones and into new experiences. But, first, take a moment to hear from your local PBS station. It's a chance to offer your support, which helps keep programs like ours on the air. For those stations staying with us, guitarist Yasmin Williams has a style of her own. As special correspondent Tom Casciato found in this encore report, Williams pulls from a wide range of influences to create music as unique as the artist herself. TOM CASCIATO: At first listen, Yasmin Williams might seem just another great acoustic guitar picker. But keep your ears and eyes open, and you'll find that her approach is all her own. From The New York Times to "Rolling Stone," from music sites Pitchfork to Paste, she's been hailed as what The Washington Post called a new kind of guitar hero.
Maybe it's the piano-like hammer on the guitar strings, or maybe it's the microphone picking up her tap shoes. Maybe it's the video of her riding a train through Baltimore during a pandemic. Or maybe it is her offhand stage presence. YASMIN WILLIAMS, Musician: So like, OK, did that song sound happy or sad to you guys? Happy? Yes. No, I was like, miserable when I wrote it, like completely broken. TOM CASCIATO: Whatever the case, as Yasmin Williams' musical biography shows, you don't become a new kind of guitar hero by following an ordinary path.
YASMIN WILLIAMS: In my head, if someone were to look at me, they probably wouldn't expect me to make solo acoustic guitar music. TOM CASCIATO: She was born to Northern Virginia parents who played young Yasmin the sounds of R&B, hip-hop, smooth jazz, and the '70s brand of Washington, D.C., funk called go-go, none of which drove her toward early admiration for the acoustic guitar. YASMIN WILLIAMS: I thought it was the lamest instrument. I thought it was super corny. I thought singer/songwriters played it, and they played four chords and sang about their dog or whatever, and that was it. (LAUGHTER) YASMIN WILLIAMS: I didn't really think it could do anything substantial.
TOM CASCIATO: But, beyond that, she had no models for the kind of solo acoustic guitar music she's now known for, a genre so often represented by white male players. YASMIN WILLIAMS: I definitely still wish that I had someone to look up to who was doing what I'm doing now, just to kind of be a guiding light, someone I can point to and be like, that's really cool. I can do that. TOM CASCIATO: As for guitar music, her first love was heavy metal, first encountered in, well, the video game "Guitar Hero." YASMIN WILLIAMS: "Guitar Hero" is an experience. So, you have a guitar-shaped controller and it has five buttons that are different colors, and you have to push the corresponding colored button that shows up on the screen.
TOM CASCIATO: Like this fellow does in this YouTube demo. MAN: Red, yellow, blue tap. Red, yellow, blue tap. Orange tap. YASMIN WILLIAMS: You had to tap really quickly. And I got good at that and I beat the game. Once I got my real guitar, I wanted to, like, transfer the tapping skills onto a real guitar. And that's obviously a big part of my playing. TOM CASCIATO: Tapping on the guitar neck is just one of the percussive elements she employs to create a unique style. YASMIN WILLIAMS: So, for those who don't know, this is called a kalimba.
And do you all know Earth, Wind and Fire? TOM CASCIATO: You have mentioned Earth, Wind and Fire as an influence. YASMIN WILLIAMS: Yes, they are my favorite band. I first heard a kalimba from them. Maurice White played a very long kalimba solo. And I was a kid, I — maybe 4 or 5. And I remember hearing like the tone of his kalimba and just wondering, like, what is that? It is not a saxophone, it is not a guitar, it is not drums. What is that? TOM CASCIATO: The kalimba is a Southern African instrument with a wooden soundboard and steel keys. It's an unlikely accessory taped to the body of an acoustic guitar. But it makes sense once she's explained it. Others of her inspirations are a bit harder to explain.
One is Jimi Hendrix. You know him. The other is the Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown. What do sounds like this have to do with her music? Jimi Hendrix and Chuck Brown. YASMIN WILLIAMS: Yes. TOM CASCIATO: Hard to hear that. YASMIN WILLIAMS: Yes. (LAUGHTER) YASMIN WILLIAMS: Yes, you're not really going to hear much Chuck Brown. You're not going to hear many go-go beats in my music.
(LAUGHTER) YASMIN WILLIAMS: But I mean more I'm influenced by how a musician carries themselves or expresses themselves in their music. For example, Chuck Brown, a go-go legend, is an influence on me, because he basically changed the musical landscape of an entire region, Washington, D.C., by himself. The same thing with Jimi Hendrix. He played the guitar masterfully. No one knew what he was doing. No one knew how he was doing it. He didn't really care what critics had to say in terms of him playing — quote, unquote — "wrong." He played what he wanted to play. TOM CASCIATO: Yasmin Williams makes music without lyrics, but not without meaning.
Her latest album is called "Urban Driftwood." YASMIN WILLIAMS: Urban, meaning me. I come from an urban background. My family comes from an urban background. And that is really important to me. Driftwood, I feel like the Black community was treated like driftwood as such. Lots of people love our culture and love what we do, but they don't particularly treat us with the respect that we deserve a lot of the time, considering how significant our influence has been for centuries. And driftwood is, a lot of the times, seen as trash or something that's not really needed, even though it houses tons of marine life, it is very beautiful. TOM CASCIATO: You say that, when you were young, you didn't see somebody who looked like you playing solo acoustic guitar. Do you ever think about how somebody now, who's a kid, is going to see Yasmin Williams and say, she looks like me? YASMIN WILLIAMS: Oh.
That's enough to make me cry. I mean, I hope that happens. That'll be incredible. (LAUGHTER) YASMIN WILLIAMS: That's just like… TOM CASCIATO: You know, people are now watching… YASMIN WILLIAMS: Give me a second. I'm actually crying. (LAUGHTER) TOM CASCIATO: For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Tom Casciato. JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, we take you to cowboy camp. There are more than 14,000 kids in Arizona's foster care system, and every summer, a few get to spend time at the Flying E Ranch riding horses, shooting arrows and making new friends out of the city and under the stars. From our student report labs, Giovanni Soriano explains.
GIOVANNI SORIANO: There are many kids who feel disconnected. There is an organization that that reaches out to kids and gives them the opportunity to be cowboys. GARY WEBB, Founder, OCJ Kids: So my name is Gary Webb, and my wife and I are the founders of OCJ Kids. It stands for Opportunity, Community and Justice for Kids. And we partner with kids in the foster care system. So, as they journey through the foster care system, we want to make sure they have resources, mentors, support systems along the way. And then we partner with foster group home kids to send mentors into the group homes to just create family to create a support system, again, with the kids. STEPHEN BALLARD, Cowboy Camper: I was moved in and out of foster homes because of the problems that my parents ran into. But I have always made it back to them.
BLAKE SPARKS, Cowboy Camper: Sometimes, you can feel, like, special once you like find a family, or sometimes you just feel like a disconnect because you don't have your actual family with you. GIOVANNI SORIANO: The staff not only get to help the kids, but they get to build relationships and connect in a positive environment. JASON BARRERA, Behavioral Health Technician: My father flew the coop when I was 8 years old. My mom was in and out of my life. I didn't really have a positive person to communicate with, which is why I do what I do, is because I grew up in a broken home. GARY WEBB: I love just coming out here watching these kids who have been in the city their whole life come up here, and they just have a new experience.
And they get a chance to experience the Western life and get out of town. BLAKE SPARKS: I like what they're doing here. They're really helping a bunch of people out, experiencing things they haven't experienced before. Favorite activity is probably the horseback riding, because it's a fun way to just get out of your head. GIOVANNI SORIANO: This experience gives these kids a feeling of acceptance, creating a turning point in their lives. GARY WEBB: I had a kid that was afraid to ride horses. And he came out here, was just petrified. And we really encourage the kids to get on the horses, because it gives them the whole, complete experience of camp. They took care of him. They just had special attention that one kid, and he got on the horse, just rode the arena.
And it just — it was life-changing for him. He will never forget it. When they see somebody cares about them and believes in them, beyond just staff or people being paid, it lets them know, hey, you can speak into my life. And when you just start saying, I see who you are inside, just that message to these kids is so important, because, again, they don't have somebody as a parent to infuse them with that message of, you can do it. We believe in you. You're not worthless. You're not discard. You're valued in this life. BLAKE SPARKS: You have more support than you think you do in life. When you think you're alone, you have still got people. You just got to find them. GIOVANNI SORIANO: For the "PBS NewsHour"'s Student Reporting Labs, this is Giovanni Soriano in Wickenburg, Arizona. JUDY WOODRUFF: Wonderful to see that story. It was produced during the "NewsHour"'s Student Reporting Labs' Summer Academy, where teens from around the country come together to hone their journalism, film and storytelling skills. And you can watch more of their stories at StudentReportingLabs.org.
For more discussion of the fallout from the search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump's impact on the midterms, and Biden's legislative wins, don't forget to join moderator Yamiche Alcindor and her "Washington Week" panel. That's tonight on PBS. And tomorrow on "PBS News Weekend": As school districts across the country face a teacher shortage, Geoff Bennett speaks with two educators about why they decided to call it quits. And with that, that's the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff. For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon..