On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Debt ceiling negotiations: Biden and McCarthy pledge more talks
President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy plan to speak again Monday on the debt ceiling. Plus, USA TODAY White House Correspondent Francesca Chambers explains a U.S. plan to assist training Ukrainian pilots, Black women looking for Black sperm donors struggle with a shortage, how ashwaghanda helps with stress, and USA TODAY Producer Callie Carmichael speaks with Netflix Executive Producer Terry Meurer on how ‘Unsolved Mysteries‘ solves cold cases.
Podcasts: True crime, in-depth interviews and more USA TODAY podcasts right here
Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.
Taylor Wilson: Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Monday, the 22nd of May 2023. Today, the latest on the debt ceiling. Plus, how the US plans to help Ukrainian pilots, and how a Netflix show is helping to solve cold cases.
Well, get ready for another week or two of negotiations on the debt ceiling, that’s even as the countdown clock gets closer and closer to a potential government default next month. Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he and Biden had a productive phone conversation yesterday as Biden flew back from Japan and the pair planned to meet again today. Speaking earlier with reporters at the G7 summit, Biden called GOP demands extreme. Republicans want to tie a number of spending cuts to negotiations. Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told the NBC this weekend that the true deadline to avoid default is up in the air and that the government could conceivably pay its bills past June 1st, but not much further. You can read more on usatoday.com and listen to a number of our episodes last week. We’ll have more in the coming days.
♦ President Joe Biden told the allied nations that the US would assist with training Ukrainian pilots on modern fighter aircraft, including American-made F-16s. He did so at a closed-door meeting at the G7 summit in Japan on Friday. Over the weekend, Biden said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky assured him personally he won’t use F-16 fighter jets to attack Russian territory. I spoke with USA TODAY White House Correspondent Francesca Chambers for more. Welcome back to the show, Francesca.
Francesca Chambers: Hello again.
Taylor Wilson: So, tell me about this plan to train Ukrainian pilots.
Francesca Chambers: President Joe Biden told other world leaders during the Group of Seven summit on Friday that the US would help with training Ukrainian pilots on modern fighter jets, which includes the American-made F-16s. Now, this is a big deal because President Zelenskyy of Ukraine has been pushing the US to provide the F-16s. The US is simply saying at this time that it will help with a joint effort to train Ukrainian pilots on the fighter jets, but this could signal that Washington is getting closer to arming Ukraine with the aircraft.
Taylor Wilson: Yeah, the US and other allies have been reluctant to supply the planes themselves. Why is that, Francesca?
Francesca Chambers: The US has said that it’s focused on helping Ukraine achieve its goals currently during a spring offensive and heading into the summer. But a senior administration official told me that this is now about helping Ukraine with longer term capabilities to defend itself against potential future threats.
Taylor Wilson: Has Ukrainian President Zelenskyy’s advocacy on the planes been effective in recent weeks?
Francesca Chambers: Well, the fact that the United States is now saying that it will help train the Ukrainian pilots on the American-made F-16s is a shift in US position, and it comes after Zelenskyy not only visited the United States in December, but as he has been visiting European countries over the last few days.
Taylor Wilson: And what other aspects of the war in Ukraine have G7 leaders been focused on this week?
Francesca Chambers: G7 leaders have heavily been focused on the war in Ukraine. In fact, on the very first day of the G7 summit, they sat down for a working session to talk about Ukraine. Another key focus of the G7 summit has been sanctions on Russia. The US unveiled a new sanctions package that includes new restrictions on the architectural and engineering sectors of Russia. The other thing that the US rolled out are sanctions on individuals, including those who have been accused of helping with the forced deportation of Ukrainian children as well as their adoption in Russia.
Taylor Wilson: USA TODAY White House Correspondent Francesca Chambers, great insight as always. Thanks so much.
Francesca Chambers: Thank you.
♦ Taylor Wilson: Black women looking for Black sperm donors are facing the harsh reality of a shortage. That was the case for Mardochée Julien-West and her wife who decided to become moms through in vitro fertilization. They knew they wanted Black children, but didn’t realize how hard it would be. She and her wife, Yevette, first looked at donors at a cryobank in 2020, but when they filtered the search for Black men, their options dwindled from hundreds of choices to just two. She told USA TODAY, “We were mind-blown. There are Black lesbians, there are Black queer people, there are straight people who have fertility issues. There’s just a huge demand so it was insane.”
Experts say there are many reasons why sperm banks don’t have more Black donors. For one, they’ve been historically run by white people targeting white donors and white clients. Black people also have a long history of mistreatment in the name of medicine and science. The Tuskegee Study, for instance, involved the US government denying treatment to hundreds of poor Black men who had syphilis so that researchers could study its ravages on the human body. You can read more with a link in today’s show notes.
♦ Americans are stressed, and they’re turning to conventional therapies for help, things like improving sleep and breathing exercises. Others find that food and the nutrients they put in their bodies can be helpful. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats have all been known to reduce stress. And there’s another plant-based product known for its stress relieving properties, ashwagandha. Also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry, it’s an evergreen shrub found in India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. It can be used as a supplement in powder, capsule or liquid form, and has been used for thousands of years. They can fight against anxiety, boost energy levels, and reduce stress. Arizona State Nutrition Professor Dr. Carol Johnston said, “It is not surprising that this botanical has health benefits. Plants produce highly sophisticated compounds to protect them from environmental insults, and many of these protective properties extend to human tissues when ingested.” You can read more with a link in today’s show notes.
♦ A few months ago, Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries briefly featured a photograph of Kayla Unbehaun, a young girl who had been missing for years in Illinois. Six months later, that photo was seen by a viewer who recognized the girl at a clothing store in North Carolina. Just over a week ago, that little girl, now a teenager, was back with her family all because of this viewer’s tip. Today, we do a deeper dive into how the Unsolved Mysteries team is leveraging its viewers’ interest to help law enforcement solve cold cases across the country. My colleague on the video team, producer Callie Carmichael, recently sat down with the show’s executive producer Terry Meurer to learn more.
Callie Carmichael: Hey, Terry. Thank you so much for joining us.
Terry Meurer: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.
Callie Carmichael: Can you tell me a little bit about the Kayla Unbehaun case?
Terry Meurer: Kayla was featured on one of our Unsolved Mysteries episodes that aired on Netflix. She wasn’t featured as a full episode, but at the end of one of the episodes that we did about parental abductions, we did what we call a “roll call,” which shows the faces of a number of different children who had been abducted by parents for about five or six seconds, and Kayla was one of those faces. So, that’s why it’s so incredible that somebody could actually recognize her and bring about a a resolution to this case. We present the roll calls because we want to get more cases solved, we want to get more faces out there. So, this episode we did about parental abductions aired on Netflix in November of 2022, so it’s been six months. It just goes to show that cases can get solved at any time. Unsolved Mysteries has been on the air for 35 years, and we continue to get cases that are solved. It’s just amazing.
Callie Carmichael: Tell me, what was the tip that came in for Kayla’s case?
Terry Meurer: So, from what I understand, Kayla and her mother were shopping at a store in Asheville, North Carolina. They had disappeared six years earlier from Elgin, Illinois. They were just shopping in a clothing store, and one of the employees there had a connection to Kayla from when she lived in Elgin and recognized her. It must have been immediate because she went to the store manager, the store manager called the local Asheville Police Department, and they showed up and they were taken into custody.
Callie Carmichael: How many credible tips have your producers received because of the show? Ballpark?
Terry Meurer: We’ve produced and aired 21 Unsolved Mysteries episodes for Netflix, and out of those episodes, we’ve received a total of about 7,000 tips to unsolved.com, and about 1,400 of those we’ve passed on to law enforcement. Some of those tips are people submitting stories, some of them are just airing their opinion. But, we don’t know how many tips have actually come in on any of the cases because, at the end of the episodes, we often put up the phone number for the Sheriff’s Department or the law enforcement agency that’s handling the case, and a lot of people contact those agencies directly, and we never hear quite what the results of those tips were.
Callie Carmichael: How would you say you deem a tip credible? Tell me a little bit about the relationship you have with law enforcement, FBI. How does that work?
Terry Meurer: Ever since Unsolved Mysteries has been on the air, we have had a very close relationship with all agencies of law enforcement, whether it’s the FBI or local police, local sheriffs. I think they see us as a helping hand when it comes to solving some of these cases because a lot of the cases we do are cold cases, there’s no leads coming in. So, what Unsolved Mysteries has always tried to do is to stir things up and get some more leads in. So, we often reach out to law enforcement and they often reach out to us to present a case. So, we work very closely with law enforcement.
Callie Carmichael: Thank you so much for joining us, Terry. I really appreciate your insight.
Terry Meurer: Oh, thank you for having me.
Taylor Wilson: Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us every day of the week wherever you get your audio. If you have any comments, you can reach us at [email protected]. I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.