LOS ANGELES - The Russian assault on Ukraine has entered its second week.
The march towards Kyiv momentarily stalled as Kremlin forces have overtaken three cities in the South of Ukraine, as well as a nuclear power plant - a move which has led to global fears of a nuclear catastrophe.
Meanwhile, the number of Ukrainian refugees fleeing to Poland and other nearby European countries has now ballooned to well over 1.2 million.
As the world watches, transfixed to their TV screens, a few brave volunteers have moved head first into the action.
That includes Nate Mook, CEO of the World Central Kitchen, founded by celebrity chef and philanthropist Jose Andres. Mook and the non-profit have been providing hot meals to thousands of refugees fleeing the war zone.
Speaking from Ukraine, Mook joins Elex Michaelson this week on "The Issue Is," revealing the realities on the ground, the stories he’s heard from refugees, and the power of food in unifying people regardless of the background or struggle.
Next, Michaelson is joined for a joint sit-down with Los Angeles Mayoral candidate Rick Caruso and former LAPD Chief Charlie Beck - Beck announcing his endorsement of Caruso, who once served as President of the LA Police Commission. The two also discuss curbing rising crime in California and their newfound support of the recall of progressive Los Angeles D.A. George Gascon.
Finally, on the week that President Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union address, Michaelson speaks with Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Karen Bass (D-CA), and Mike Garcia (R-CA), as well as a number of everyday voters, to assess what the state or our union actually is.
THE ISSUE IS: THE SITUATION ON THE GROUND IN UKRAINE
MOOK’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Right here in Lviv, which is a city in the western side of Ukraine, it's fairly calm, but also very tense. You know, this is not a city that right now is under bombardment. There are air raid sirens that are going off daily, but overall, this has been a peaceful side of Ukraine as it is very close to the Polish border. But in turn, it means a lot of refugees, a lot of Ukrainians that are fleeing cities in the East that are under active attack and bombings, are coming here. So, it is an overwhelmed city. It's also a city that is preparing for an attack. Every day you see people getting ready, ready for potential tanks to roll in, checkpoints being set up to make sure that everybody here is not causing problems, and so there's a lot of sort of really fear here, at the same time, there's a lot of incredible work being done, an outpouring of support for those Ukrainians that are coming into the city all this week…"
THE ISSUE IS: THE EXPERIENCE OF UKRAINIAN REFUGEES
MOOK’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It's really heartbreaking hearing some of these stories. In the train station we've been serving a lot of mothers and their children, young children, and they've had to abandon their lives. They don't know what's next. Many of them don't have any money or resources to go somewhere else, they're relying on the help and assistance of so many that are getting them through this time. There's just a lot of unknowns right now, and that's really, really sad for folks who, you know, just don't have anything, they're just what they're carrying is everything that they have…"
THE ISSUE IS: THE UNIFYING POWER OF FOOD
MOOK’S CENTRAL TAKE: "You know, our founder, chef Jose Andres, who I was just with here in Lviv, and also in Poland, along the border where many of our teams are working, you know, likes to talk about building longer tables, not higher walls, right? Food is such a powerful thing to bring people together to break bread, and you know, it's what we're seeing here, this outpouring of support, being able to provide a hot meal to somebody in a really, really difficult moment. We like to say that food doesn't just nourish the body, a hot meal also nourishes the soul, and, you know, we really believe that. The chefs that are working tirelessly, every day, to prepare the meals, and our teams and volunteers to deliver the meals, you know, the love just pours through, and I think this really shows in the food that we prepare.... This is not just about getting somebody some calories, but about a message that today is difficult, but hopefully tomorrow will be a little bit better and every day thereafter…"
THE ISSUE IS: FINDING HOPE IN DESPAIR
MOOK’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It's something that we talk about with our teams a lot because they are on the front lines of these disasters, and I think we also have to make sure that our teams are taking care of themselves because we don't take care of ourselves, then we truly can't take care of others. At the same time, it is an incredible thing, and an incredible honor, to be able to serve somebody a plate of food, and, you know, chefs and people working in restaurants see this every day at the small scale - so for us to be able to do what we do with this massive scale, it really does fill our hearts up. So even if we're in these really difficult moments, like we are now, where you just wonder what is going on with humanity and what is going on with our planet or we see these climate disasters and these hurricanes hitting... but at the end of the day, being able to serve and be of service to the communities and see people banding together fills up your heart and gives you that energy to keep going at the end of the day, and that's what we're seeing here in Ukraine, but also in neighboring countries - the amount of volunteers and amazing people from Poland and all over Europe that have come in to support - just unbelievable. And that really, I think, keeps us going at the end of the day…."
THE ISSUE IS: ELEX’S COMMENTARY ON THE CRISIS IN UKRAINE
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.
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