Articles on this Page
- 05/09/13--10:34: _Read an Excerpt Fro...
- 05/09/13--11:25: _Songwriters Draw Mu...
- 05/09/13--14:43: _Champion of Militar...
- 05/09/13--15:03: _As Bipartisan Immig...
- 05/09/13--15:14: _News Wrap: Boston P...
- 05/09/13--15:17: _Ariel Castro Appear...
- 05/09/13--15:19: _For Cleveland Victi...
- 05/09/13--15:29: _Congress Sorts Thro...
- 05/09/13--15:37: _In Senegal, a Campa...
- 05/09/13--15:46: _An Inside Look at B...
- 05/09/13--16:24: _Judy's Notebook: Th...
- 05/10/13--06:10: _Bipartisan Immigrat...
- 05/10/13--06:14: _The Daily Frame
- 05/10/13--07:10: _In South Africa, Us...
- 05/10/13--09:29: _White House Spokesm...
- 05/10/13--09:48: _In 'Other Desert Ci...
- 05/10/13--11:00: _As Rios Montt Trial...
- 05/10/13--11:39: _On the PBS NewsHour...
- 05/10/13--11:40: _Republicans Stoke 2...
- 05/10/13--13:30: _The One Safe Invest...
- 05/09/13--10:34: Read an Excerpt From 'The Roberts Court' by Marcia Coyle
- 05/09/13--11:25: Songwriters Draw Musical Inspiration From Immigration
- 05/09/13--15:17: Ariel Castro Appears in Court to Face Charges of Rape, Kidnapping
- 05/09/13--16:24: Judy's Notebook: The Me Me Me Generation Can Be Anything But
- 05/10/13--06:10: Bipartisan Immigration Plan Tweaked on Border Security
- 05/10/13--06:14: The Daily Frame
- 05/10/13--09:48: In 'Other Desert Cities,' a Family History Lush in Secrets
- 05/10/13--11:39: On the PBS NewsHour Tonight
Marcia Coyle, author the "The Roberts Court," explains how she reports on the Supreme Court. "It's also a very heavy reading beat, and that's what I spend a lot of my time doing. You have to do that in order to understand the arguments." Watch the video for a behind-the-scenes look at the nation's highest court.
Justice Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings before the Senate in 2010 marked an early peak of recent interest in the Supreme Court. Since then, blogs, Twitter, traditional print media and broadcast outlets have demanded extensive coverage of the justices and their decisions -- from the Citizens United and the Affordable Care Act cases to this year's arguments on same-sex marriage. And with Kagan's appointment, the court had seen rapid change with four new justices in five years.
The time was right. Marcia Coyle needed to write a book.
Coyle had been a longtime newspaper reporter, earned a law degree and has written for the National Law Journal for a dozen years. When a Simon & Schuster editor contacted her during Kagan's confirmation hearings, the opportunity wasn't one Coyle had long desired, she said. But she felt it would offer a professional challenge.
"The book presented another chance to dig into a subject and, of course, it was a subject that I love and an institution that I deeply respect," Coyle told the NewsHour.
Coyle began work on the "The Roberts Court" in January 2011. She finished 19 months later.
She interviewed six justices, mostly on background so she could include nuggets of candid insight into the court. For instance, one unnamed current justice is quoted near the end of the book about his or her colleagues: "There are only eight people in the world I can talk to about politics, about a lot of things ... To a large extent on a large number of subjects, we are the only choice of friends we have, so you find a way to get along."
When the Supreme Court is in session, Coyle regularly appears on the PBS NewsHour. She walks viewers through the finer points of cases and decisions of the high court, and provides overviews of terms at the beginning and end.
Rarely do we hear sweeping multi-year perspectives about the court from Coyle. But in "The Roberts Court," out May 7, she examines how Chief Justice John Roberts has influenced the justices and major, controversial cases' outcomes. She includes case studies on disputes in Seattle and Jefferson County, Ky., over school segregation; a case regarding gun rights in the District of Columbia, known commonly as Heller; the Citizens United campaign finance case; and the challenge to the Affordable Care Act in 2012.
You can watch Coyle explain many of the major cases this term on our Supreme Court page. And here she explains common questions about how the court works and how the justices interact with each other.
We'll see her again this month and next, as the court closes its 2012-2013 term and issues decisions on topics including the Voting Rights Act, affirmative action and same-sex marriage. Be sure to tune in to the NewsHour Thursday, when senior correspondent Jeffrey Brown discusses with Coyle "The Roberts Court."
Coyle provided this correction to the above text: The former chief justice's name on the first page is Melville Fuller.
The wall dividing the United States and Mexico stands to prevent illegal immigration between the two countries, but it doesn't stop musicians from crossing art and politics. Photo from the "Border Songs" CD booklet, courtesy of Shawn Skabelund.
While "Gang of Eight" may sound like the next new pop sensation, this band of political leaders is not the least bit concerned with Billboard hits. Instead, they've taken on the task of producing bipartisan harmony on the issue of immigration reform.
But music does have a place in the national dialogue on immigration. "Music is used for political purposes all over the world and has been since the beginning of politics," Robert Neustadt told PBS NewsHour.
Director of Latin American Studies at Northern Arizona University, Neustadt has spent much of his career researching and writing about the role of music in Latin American political movements. Most recently, he co-produced "Border Songs," a two-disc compilation album of immigration songs, including tunes that focus on fatalities and other tragedies that occur in the desert at the border between the United States and Mexico. The album includes an eclectic mix of songs in both English and Spanish, spoken word, blues, folk and Americana and everything in between. Contributing artists include Amos Lee, Michael Franti, Spearhead and Tom Russell. Ninety-four-year-old folk music legend Pete Seeger even lends his song "My Rainbow Race" to the collection.
Listen to "Are We A Nation" by Sweet Honey In The Rock, the first track from disc one of "Border Songs."
"Border Songs" makes clear its goal to end what Neustadt calls a "humanitarian disaster" occurring on the border, where hundreds of migrants perish each year. All of the money made from its sale goes towards No More Deaths, a charity that works to provide water, food and medical aid for migrants in dangerous parts of the border desert.
On the other side of the political spectrum, artists like Grammy winner Ray Stevens have sung about amnesty. Stevens' 2010 country tune "Come to the USA" mocks what he calls the "ridiculous things that have been allowed to happen because some politicians think they're gonna get votes from illegal aliens."
Watch Ray Stevens' music video for "Come to the USA."
Stevens has sung about other political topics, including global warming and the economy, and the artist has also recorded a great deal of non-political work. His more than three dozen studio albums offer sounds that span musical genres.
PBS NewsHour spoke with both men about why they turned to music to make a political statement.
"These songs can wake people up and make them aware of what's happening, and also can make them feel more compassionate," Neustadt said.
"I have to speak out whether it does any good or not..." said Stevens. "Somebody might hear your point and be in a position to do some good."
You can listen to both of the interviews below.
Robert Neustadt reflects on the humanitarian crisis occurring at the U.S.-Mexico border and his hope that "Border Songs" will inspire compassion.
Conservative Ray Stevens discusses U.S. immigration policy and why he produced his tongue-in-cheek single "Come to the USA."
Related Content:Gang of Eight Senators Say Immigration Bill Is 'Common-sense Approach'VIDEO: Geography and Immigration Inspire Calexico's Road SongsWeekly Poem: 'Immigrant Picnic'
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif. Photo by Chris Maddaloni/ CQ Roll Call.
Tuesday should have been a good day for Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif. Her signature issue in Congress -- reducing sexual assaults in the U.S. military -- had just been forcefully endorsed by President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.
But Speier was not optimistic that major change is coming.
"We are building momentum and I want to believe this is a tipping point," Speier told me from Capitol Hill that afternoon. "But I guess I've been around politics for too long."'
The president, Hagel and Levin spoke out after front-page treatment of the longstanding and intractable problem of sexual harassment and attacks on women and men in the military services by their fellow service members.
On Tuesday, the Defense Department released a survey that said the problem was getting worse. Reports of unwanted sexual contact rose by more than 35 percent from 2010 to 2012, to an estimated 26,000 incidents.
The survey estimated 12,100 of the 203,000 active duty women and 13,900 of 1.2 million men on active duty were sexually assaulted. But fewer than 3,400 incidents were reported to the military chain of command.
And that, says Speier, is the problem -- commanding officers who have sole responsibility to take action against perpetrators often don't. And victims know it.
"It's a closed universe. There is a mentality of 'Oh, boys will be boys.' The lack of prosecutions and convictions sends a message to the victims of 'Oh, don't bother because you're not going to get the justice you deserve,' and to the perpetrator, that as long as you're a good soldier, you've got a free pass," Speier told the NewsHour.
"Imagine an environment where if you've got good military character -- that's the term of art used -- if you are what's called a water-walker, that's a mitigating factor in terms of being punished for any crime," she said.
Speier says it's now clear commanders can't police their own ranks.
"The time is now. Stop tinkering around the edges. Stop with the nice talk about 'zero tolerance.' Stop with the ask-her-was-she-sober type of training and do what has been done in other countries that we mimic," Speier said.
"Our [military justice system] is based on the British system and in the British system and Australia and in Canada, they have taken the reporting out of the chain of command and placed it in a separate office within the military that evaluates whether or not there's evidence to move forward and prosecute the case."
The Pentagon report on sexual assaults set off a flurry of declarations from members of Congress on both sides of the Capitol and from both parties to push the military to fulfill its promises -- also contained in the report -- to crack down.
Speir on Thursday attended a bipartisan White House meeting on the issue with members of Congress and top presidential aide Valerie Jarrett, her office said.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One that the meeting "reflects the level of concern that you heard from the president the other day at his press conference with the president of South Korea."
"He has zero tolerance for sexual assault in the military and he was clear that as commander in chief, he believes that anyone who engages in sexual assault is dishonoring the uniform that they wear," Carney said.
But neither the president, the defense secretary nor any of the top military policy leaders in Congress has endorsed the call by Speier and fellow Democrat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York for a separate investigative and prosecutorial body within the military. And Speier admits it's a difficult sell.
"This is going to be a sea change. This is going to require the military to internally do some soul-searching and it's going to require a whole conduct shift. And that's not easy," she said.
And she says she's also seen the intensity of members wane before.
"You know, there's so many issues that are bombarding members. This is an issue today. There'll be another issue tomorrow. We all suffer from A.D.D.," said Speier. "So I don't know if we can count on it. But that's why I've been beating this drum. I've talked about this issue for two years now."
The next big test begins next week when Gillibrand introduces her bill to take sexual assault adjudication and all serious crime out of the hands of unit commanders.
Tune in to the NewsHour in the coming weeks for a full report on the issue of sexual assault in the military and the legislative push to address it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A comprehensive immigration reform plan faced its first major tests today in the U.S. Senate, and emerged pretty much intact.
For supporters, it was a hopeful beginning to the drive to pass the first major immigration overhaul bill since 1986. The front line of the immigration fight is now the Senate Judiciary Committee, where markup began this morning on a bipartisan bill.
Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin:
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN, D-Ill.: And this is our chance, in this hearing room, to write an immigration bill for the 21st century for America and its future. We have come together. We have reached an agreement, and we have compromised, and I think we have come up with a good work product.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Durbin is one of so-called Gang of Eight senators who wrote the bill. In its current form, it runs 844 pages, and would provide a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented people now in the country.
The process would take up to 13 years and applicants would have to pay a fine and pass a criminal background check, among other things. But the committee's ranking Republican, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said the bill merely revisits past mistakes.
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY, R-Iowa: It falls short of what I want to see in a strong immigration reform bill, so you will hear me say many times that we shouldn't make the same mistake that we made in 1986. You will hear me say many times that we want to move ahead with a bill that does it right this time.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Many of the 300 amendments submitted so far are focused on border security.
The bill already calls for improvements to the existing border fence and other so-called triggers, before the revamped immigration system takes effect. But Grassley said the triggers are too weak. He wanted the government to demonstrate effective control of the border for six months before considering anyone for legal status.
Texas Republican John Cornyn joined in.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN, R-Texas: This is really a confidence-building measure, border security. And if it doesn't work as advertised, then we will have failed in our responsibility. We will not have solved the problem.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Opponents of that amendment said, in reality, such strict additions to the measure would mean denying citizenship indefinitely. In the end, Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona, both members of the Gang of Eight, voted with majority Democrats to defeat the amendment 12-6.
Democrats did accept other changes. One calls for 90 percent of would-be border jumpers to be stopped along the entire Mexican border, not just in high-risk sectors. But bill supporters said some of the amendments clearly amount to poison pills, including a proposal allowing members of same-sex couples to sponsor foreign spouses and others increasing visa eligibility for high-skilled workers.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: There are many who will want to kill this bill. I would ask my colleagues, if you don't agree with everything -- no one does -- be constructive. We are open to changes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The markup could go on for two weeks, shifting the Capitol's focus away from gun control and fiscal battles, and putting the fight over immigration reform front and center.
JEFFREY BROWN: And we walk through some of the contentious debate now with two reporters following the action.
Carrie Budoff Brown is a White House and policy reporter for Politico. Brian Bennett covers homeland security for the Los Angeles Times.
But, Carrie, I want to start with you. Battle lines being drawn today? What jumped out at you about the first days, first day of this?
CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN, Politico: Well, the first day here was clearly an attempt by the Gang of Eight, the bipartisan negotiating group, to show that they are willing, that it is willing to accept changes to the bill.
They agreed to some key changes on border security. That is an attempt to show that -- again, that they want Republicans on board, that they are open to changes, and that this is a committee process that can be trusted.
However, at the end of the markup, I spoke with some of the Republican senators on the committee, and they said they are not persuaded, that these were minor changes, in their view, and there are still a lot of problems with the bill with the border security measures. So, even though there are bipartisan changes here, not enough, it looks like, at this point to bring undecided Republicans on board.
JEFFREY BROWN: And just to say with you for a moment, Carrie, how important is this amendment process to this particular reform motion? It seems -- or I should say, why is it more important this time than usual?
CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN: Well, it's so important because the last time the Senate took up immigration reform, it was in 2007 and the negotiating group literally came to a massive deal behind closed doors, and then put it on the Senate floor within hours, maybe a day or so, asking colleagues to vote for a very complex bill.
And senators felt cut out of the process and as if they didn't have enough time to review the bill before supporting it. So Republicans were very clear with the group, the Gang of Eight this time, saying, you need to put this through regular order or you're not going to get even consideration from us, unless the process is fair and open.
So that's why in this case, just because of history on immigration, the way things were done several years ago, that's why it's so important to the process now that it's conducted through regular order.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, so, Brian Bennett, as we have seen, the main focus of the debate is over security at the border. Explain the key ways that are being raised here about how that should be dealt with.
BRIAN BENNETT, Los Angeles Times: Well, so the Gang of Eight came together and they put together what they consider to be a strong border security package that has to go into place within 10 years for any of the people who are legalized to be able to become citizens.
And that border security package would spend about $4.5 billion, maybe up to $6.5 billion on the border security. And it would increase surveillance and do a number of things like that.
So Republicans on the committee who oppose those measures have decided to try to change those. Sen. Grassley, for example, he wanted a change to be put into place where those border security measures would have to be met before anyone was legalized under the program.
JEFFREY BROWN: When they talk about effective control of that border, is that well-defined?
BRIAN BENNETT: It is and it isn't.
The Border Patrol currently has its own definition of effective control. And they award percentages to different sectors. And the Border Patrol has said that in some of the high-risk sectors on the Southwest border, they have between 80 and 85 percent effective control. But that definition is up for debate.
And what Sen. Grassley successfully amended in the bill today was that he was able to have the effective control measure, which to -- a goal was to achieve 90 percent effective control.
JEFFREY BROWN: Which means now patrolling more of the border, more areas?
BRIAN BENNETT: Yes. Instead of just three sectors, as was initially put into the deal, he successfully had the bill changed to include all sectors along the Southwest border.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, Carrie, when you look at this going forward here, how set in place are -- are senators? Where's the real -- we're talking about specific issues, but what about senators? How -- where's the focus of the action?
CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN: Well, on the committee, if we're just to look at this sort of narrow group right now, there's Sen. Hatch, who is viewed as a persuadable senator, someone who could possibly come on board and support the bill out of committee.
The Democrats are very focused on him and wanting to get him, as well as, of course, the other two Republicans who are in the Gang of Eight who sit on the Judiciary Committee. So I think we're going to see a lot of attention paid to Sen. Hatch. He voted with -- with the Gang of Eight, with Democrats on some amendments, which show that he's maybe a little bit more amenable to it.
And then after the committee, you really do have a group of about two dozen Republican senators who break into sort of different tiers in terms of their likelihood of supporting it that the Gang of Eight is focused on trying to get. They want 70-plus votes. And that means as many as two dozen senators could come on board if they lose a couple Democrats.
So there's a big pool of people here, but a lot of the senators who are in the Senate right now didn't vote or were not here in the Senate six years ago. So this is a new group and could be unpredictable.
JEFFREY BROWN: So, Brian Bennett, you're looking at all these other issues as well.
The issue really is how many of these amendments might peel away votes, right? What other key issues should we be looking for?
BRIAN BENNETT: Well, they're looking closely at how many people qualify for this program, and there are efforts on the Republican side to try to reduce the number of people who would qualify for the legalization program.
And really the members of the Gang of Eight are going to try to beat that back and make sure it -- enough people are able to qualify for the program. Other things to look at are how it defines the workplace visa programs.
So you have a requirement in the bill right now that lifts the number of high-skilled visas, but there are some senators that would like to have even more. And so that's going to be a point of contention as well.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, Carrie, we mentioned in Judy's piece the same-sex couples matter that may come up. What else? What other things are you watching?
CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN: I'm certainly watching that, that amendment. If the chairman, Sen. Leahy, chooses to offer it, it could come up as early as Tuesday.
And Sen. Schumer, another leader of the Gang of Eight, told reporters today that that is the one amendment that keeps them up at night. So, clearly, he is worried. A lot of Democrats are worried about this, because they're being caught between sort of two interests, one making the bill as bipartisan as possible and getting it through the Senate, and then gay rights advocates, who are very intent on trying to get this. And they believe it's an equality issue. And they want it in there.
But they're sort of being forced to choose, because Republicans are saying, if that amendment is attached, they will walk and that will certainly hobble immigration, if not derail it.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, we will continue to follow.
Carrie Budoff Brown and Brian Bennett, thank you both very much.
BRIAN BENNETT: Happy to be here.
CARRIE BUDOFFBROWN: Thank you.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The Boston police commissioner told Congress today that the FBI never passed along Russian warnings about Tamerlan Tsarnaev before the Boston bombings. Edward Davis testified at a House hearing that police didn't know the bureau checked out Tsarnaev when he visited Russia last year. The investigation was later closed. Davis said he would like to have known, but he conceded it might not have changed anything.
POLICE COMMISSIONER ED DAVIS, Boston: If we knew everything that we know now, absent the blast, or before the -- without the blast being involved in it, but if we knew all of these things that have come out since then, we would have taken a hard look at these individuals. But at this point in time, I can't say that when we knew things that we would've done anything differently.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Tamerlan Tsarnaev ultimately died in a shoot-out with police. Today, there was word that he's been buried at an undisclosed location near Worcester. That followed a weeklong search for a community near Boston that would accept the remains.
Federal prosecutors in New York have announced what may be the biggest ATM heist ever, affecting dozens of countries. Cyber-criminals drained $45 million dollars from cash machines around the world, after they hacked a database of debit cards. Prosecutors described the gang as a virtual criminal flash mob and said some took pictures of themselves waving wads of cash in Manhattan. Seven people are under arrest in the U.S.
Gunmen in Pakistan attacked a political rally today and abducted the son of a former prime minister, the latest violence before Saturday's nationwide elections. Ali Haider Gilani is running for a provincial assembly seat for the ruling Pakistan People's Party. He's the son of ex-Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was forced out of office last summer. The attack and abduction happened in Multan, in the southern Punjab province. Two of Gilani's bodyguards were killed during the abduction.
In neighboring Bangladesh, another fatal accident hit the country's troubled garment industry overnight. A fire broke out at a factory in the capital city of Dhaka, killing eight people, including the factory director. The fire engulfed the lower floors of the 11-story factory which had closed for the day. People still inside suffocated on poison gases as they ran down the stairs. The fire came two weeks after a garment building collapsed in Dhaka. The death toll there grew to nearly 1,000 today.
For the first time in more than five decades, Americans are spending less on prescription drugs. That finding came today from a pharmaceutical market research firm, the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. The institute pointed to a surge of new cheaper generic drugs. It also said consumers have been putting off doctor visits and drug refills to save money.
First-time claims for unemployment benefits have hit a new five-year low. The Labor Department said today that layoffs are now back to pre-recession levels. Despite that news, Wall Street took a break from its ongoing rally. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 22 points to close at 15,082. The Nasdaq fell four points to close at 3,409.
Those are some of the day's major stories -- now back to Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we turn again to the shocking story in Cleveland of three women held captive and abused for a decade. Today, the man accused in the case appeared before a judge.
Ray Suarez has the latest.
MAN: Ariel Castro.
RAY SUAREZ: Ariel Castro kept his head bowed and buried throughout his early morning appearance in Cleveland Municipal Court. It was his first public appearance since he was arrested Monday in the kidnapping of three women, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight.
All had been held captive in Castro's Cleveland home since their separate disappearances between 2002 and 2004. Prosecutors said today the former school bus driver repeatedly beat and sexually assaulted the women.
TIMOTHY MCGINTY, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Prosecutor: This child kidnapper operated a torture chamber and private prison in the heart of our city. The horrific brutality and torture that the victims endured for a decade is beyond comprehension.
RAY SUAREZ: The New York Times reported today that, according to a police document, the women were chained in the basement for years before finally being moved to the second floor.
It also said Knight told police she'd been impregnated by Castro on multiple occasions and that each time, he starved and punched her until she miscarried. Castro didn't enter a plea today to the four counts of kidnapping, one for each of the women, plus Berry's six-year-old daughter conceived in captivity, and to three counts of rape.
His bond was set at $8 million dollars, $3 million more than the prosecution requested. After the proceedings, Castro's public defender said her client will likely be kept isolated.
KATHLEEN DEMETZ, Public Defender: I would imagine he will be in a single cell, and I would imagine he probably will be under a suicide watch observation unit.
RAY SUAREZ: Castro's brothers, Pedro and Onil, also appeared in court on unrelated misdemeanor charges. They were later released from custody. Authorities say the two men knew nothing about the women allegedly being held captive in their brother's home.
RAY SUAREZ: The county prosecutor also said this afternoon he may seek the death penalty against Castro for his alleged role in the multiple miscarriages.
Matthew Dolan is covering this story for The Wall Street Journal, and he joins us from Cleveland.
Does Ohio law specify in all cases that if you are actively ending a pregnancy in this way, you might be open to charges of murder, or is that a matter of prosecutorial interpretation?
MATTHEW DOLAN, The Wall Street Journal: I think it's unclear at this point.
The prosecutor read us a detailed statement today, but he declined to take any questions from reporters. This is certainly a sensitive issue. The entire issue of the miscarriages really had not been released by police before. We obtained a confidential police report that you cited earlier last night and published some of those details that had talked about the miscarriages that allegedly came at the hands of Mr. Castro.
RAY SUAREZ: Also in this afternoon's news conference, the prosecutor indicated that they were sort of going to back off the family for a while. Does that indicate to you that they have got what they need for the time being and simply don't want to bring the pressure to bear of that kind of deposing that it might cause?
MATTHEW DOLAN: It's a very difficult and delicate situation, both for authorities and the families.
They were initially debriefed after they escaped from the home. And it looks as though prosecutors and police were able to establish some initial information about the conditions of their captivity and even about how they were first ensnared, allegedly, by Mr. Castro.
But they are convinced that, because of the length of the captivity, that they really need time to heal on their own. And so both public officials and law enforcement authorities have asked the media really not to make repeated attempts to interview these women while they spend some time with their families.
Some of them have been away from their families for a decade. So just getting to know family members again and feeling safe is critically important.
RAY SUAREZ: Details have come to light over the past day that are said to come from the contents of a letter written by Ariel Castro.
In your reporting, have you been able to substantiate the existence of this letter or its contents?
MATTHEW DOLAN: No, we have not been able to substantiate those reports.
So far, we know that some 200 items were taken from the home during a search by both the FBI and local authorities. But so far, police have not detailed what was taken from the home. And so we really don't know much about this alleged letter, other than what some news reports have said. We will certainly see more as the search warrants and the inventory of what investigators found are returned to the courts.
RAY SUAREZ: Police have made up -- say they have made up much of the timeline and the story in their charging documents from statements from the women. And alongside them are stories from the neighborhood. Have we been able to substantiate whether and when those three women were able to move about, were able to leave the building at all?
MATTHEW DOLAN: Well, we do know this.
At least according to the women's accounts to authorities, they were only allowed out of the home twice, and that was only to go to the garage in the rear of the property. Only two of them were allowed to go at a time. It's unclear who exactly went to the garage. And when they did go to the garage, they had to wear disguises that included wigs.
So there are other reports out there from neighborhood residents and other witnesses that say that they may have seen very suspicious activity, including women in the yard at various points over recent years. But police insist that they only had two calls to the house over the last decade and neither of those calls were related to calls supposedly from witnesses describing women in distress.
RAY SUAREZ: And, Matthew, finally, before we let you go, do we know when Ariel Castro will be back in court?
MATTHEW DOLAN: Well, what we do know is that it's typical that within about 30 days or so, Mr. Castro typically would be returned to court for an official arraignment. At that period, he may offer to enter a plea, which he did not do today.
But what happens also is that the city prosecutor's office that handled the case initially will eventually turn that over to the county prosecutor who spoke today. And he will take the case to the grand jury. So we expect that, within some period of time, either before the actual arraignment or shortly after, that the grand jury will act in some way and decide whether or not to act on these more severe charges that the prosecutor said that he's exploring today.
RAY SUAREZ: Matthew Dolan of The Wall Street Journal, thanks for joining us.
MATTHEW DOLAN: Sure. My pleasure.
RAY SUAREZ: Now more about the victims and what we may be able to learn from past cases and abuses.
Dr. Frank Ochberg is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University. He's a former associate director of the National Institute of Mental Health and an expert who has written extensively on the effects of trauma, including post-traumatic stress.
And, Doctor, as we have heard, these women were not only kept confined, but physically abused, sexually abused over the years. What do they need right now? In the short term, how do you treat a patient like this?
DR. FRANK OCHBERG, Michigan State University: One thing also is they have been denied a mother all that time.
And I don't know who their therapists are going to be, but the therapist would not dig right into the worst that we have heard about, would establish some comfort, a chance to take these young women as they are. And I think it's very important for them to have a maternal presence.
RAY SUAREZ: Now, as horrific as Elizabeth Smart's story was, she was only gone nine months. We're talking about up to 10 years in these cases, and, in the case of two of the women, missing major life transitions, finishing high school, moving from teenagerhood to adulthood.
When a captivity has been this long, are there particular differences that arise when treating a case like that? It's almost half their lives.
FRANK OCHBERG: That's right, Ray. And it's through important formative periods. It's times when you develop a chance to know who you are as a student, to create friends, to be in a normal give-and-take family.
So it's important to restore that kind of a milieu and trust. So far, some of the things that we have seen are encouraging: laughter, joy at being reunited, a sense of what freedom means. But we're also hearing that we don't want to over-interview them. We don't want them to define their lives as those women who were captured for that period of time.
They have their own personalities, their own positive attributes. They have to interact. And I think we, the public, have to have a sense of leaving them alone, but also rooting for them, and hoping for the best for them. Remember, there are a lot of kids who have been raised in war-torn countries, who've gone through tremendous changes. They have seen parents killed.
Me and my colleagues live in a world of extreme trauma. You do also, Ray, as a journalist who covers from these kind of events.
RAY SUAREZ: I'm glad you mentioned children, Doctor, because, in this case, we also have a child who was born into this captivity and almost imprisoned in the house in which she came into the world. Does that offer special challenges?
FRANK OCHBERG: It certainly does.
And I wonder what kind of mothering that child received from her teenage mother. Now, she could have gotten the milk of human kindness, literally and figuratively. There could have been a bond. And that bond might be a positive thing for all of them. We don't know.
We have to hope for the best. Ray, I want to make a point also -- and if I can make it now -- it's that we pay so much attention to a case like this because it's unusual. It involves children being taken out of their homes. But, Ray, and the people who are listening, there are millions of children who are living in their homes, and they are subjected to repeated rape in their home.
We have an incest story that is staggering. And we don't like to look at it. But, when I saw this case, I thought, oh, my goodness, a lot of my patients are going to be watching, and they're going to be saying, that's me. That's what happened to me. And it happened in my own house.
RAY SUAREZ: And, very briefly, Doctor, do their family members also need some advice, a toolkit to proceed from now on? They are their primary caregivers, but they're also not professionals. Are there things that they have to know?
FRANK OCHBERG: Well, there are, Ray.
And in the world of going back and helping to undo trauma, it's good for a family member to meet with a trauma expert. I mean, for example, one of the saddest things that you see in seriously traumatized people is they lose the volume of their feeling of joy and love. They're numb. And they may give the impression that they don't really care about other people who are in their family or their friends.
They do. They do. But those feelings are masked and diminished. So, if everybody knows that, they can help coach and elicit these feelings. I have been impressed by how soldiers who have faced all kinds of difficulty on the battlefield and are religious can lose their sensation of the love of God.
And therapists can help get the sensation restored. And that means a lot to people to have the feeling of their faith, the feeling of the love for their families. And thank goodness now we have a science and we have clinicians who can help.
RAY SUAREZ: Dr. Frank Ochberg, thanks for joining us.
DR. FRANK OCHBERG: You're welcome, Ray.
JEFFREY BROWN: Online, Ohio Public Media's Ideastream is following the story. You can see their reports on our home page.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We return to last September's attack on U.S. installations in Benghazi, Libya.
House Speaker John Boehner demanded today that the White House order the State Department to release e-mails related to whom the agency thought was behind the attack. Yesterday, amid a steady flow of partisan arguing by members of Congress, three State Department officials testified that senior government officials withheld embarrassing facts and didn't take responsibility for security at the Benghazi facilities.
One of the witnesses, former U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya Gregory Hicks, said he was effectively demoted after he questioned and criticized the State Department's handling of the attack.
To help us sort out some of the facts in the story, I'm joined by Adam Entous of The Wall Street Journal.
Welcome back to the NewsHour.
ADAM ENTOUS, The Wall Street Journal: Thank you very much.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, first of all, Adam, do we know what e-mails Speaker Boehner is looking for?
ADAM ENTOUS: Right.
At this point, we don't know really specifically what e-mails he's seeking. Thousands of e-mails have already been turned over to the State Department. Some of those e-mails have been provided only to certain committees, particularly the Intelligence Committees, and those may be the ones that he's referring to.
And those e-mails focus on the 94-word talking points that were given to Susan Rice to deliver on the talk shows after the attack.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So that's still unclear at this point.
Well, let's talk about some of the disputes that clearly are still out there after yesterday's testimony. What do we know in terms of what security was requested for the installation in Benghazi before everything happened on Sept. 11th?
ADAM ENTOUS: Right.
So there were a series of security incidents in Benghazi in the months leading up to the attack, including an IED attack on the consulate itself. And there was a lot of calls from within the mission, so within Tripoli, from the security officers there to beef up security. The issue was the Libyans have restrictions on the number of security officers, armed security officers that they will allow in.
And, plus, the Americans wanted to keep a low profile at the consulate in Benghazi. And so that put some strain on the ability of the U.S. to really increase those numbers.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, there were requests made and the response was what?
ADAM ENTOUS: The response was, as far as we can tell, that they're going to look into it, but no commitments were made about increasing security.
And, you know, there was a brief plus-up in the number of guards at the consulate for a one-week period after this IED attack on the consulate. This was months before Sept. 11th.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But then that went away?
ADAM ENTOUS: And then it went back to -- back to the low number.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And just very quickly, not to get into ancient history, but there had been requests for additional funding for security at this installation, other diplomatic installations? That -- those requests were voted down by Congress, including both parties, including Republicans, right?
ADAM ENTOUS: Correct.
And you also had a larger -- a larger special forces contingent that was at the Tripoli Embassy, which was reduced in the months before the attack. And the Pentagon explains that that was done because their mission had been completed, and so it went back down to a lower number.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So on the night of the attack, Sept. the 11th, 2012, there's a dispute about whether or not there could have been a military rescue. What are the facts of that?
ADAM ENTOUS: Right.
Well, Mr. Hicks during his testimony yesterday provided us with a lot more detail than we had previously had about his role and about what they were doing in the embassy in Tripoli. He describes a conversation he had with the defense attaché in which the defense attaché explained that he had -- was on the phone with Africa Command and the joint staff. So these would be the military commanders that are responsible for security in Libya.
And they explained to the defense attaché that there were fighter planes. The closest were in Aviano, Italy. It would be a two- to three-hour flight to get there, but that there were no air tanker refuelers that were capable of servicing them.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, either too far away or -- and not the ability to make the trip?
ADAM ENTOUS: Correct.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And what about -- but we were also told that there was a question about special operations ...
ADAM ENTOUS: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: ... a small contingent of special operations forces who were in Tripoli.
ADAM ENTOUS: The Marines have what's referred to as FAST teams which are positioned in the region, around the region in Europe and in the Middle East.
But the Pentagon says that they can be deployed quickly, but it takes hours for them to deploy. And I think the -- what we have learned is that the Pentagon initially after reports came into Washington that the consulate had been attacked, the -- they thought it was over. They thought it was an attack that occurred, and then there was no reason to suspect that there would be a second wave, which occurred hours later, at the annex, which is the CIA facility.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, finally, Adam, what about this -- the allegation that Mr. Hicks made that -- what really emerged from that hearing yesterday, which is that the Obama administration, Secretary Clinton have not been as forthcoming as they should have been, that information -- investigators didn't have access to the people and the information they needed to get to the bottom of this?
ADAM ENTOUS: Right.
Well, I mean, that is an accusation we have also heard from many Republicans and some Democrats in Congress who were concerned that information wasn't being shared quickly enough. In the immediate run-up to the U.S. elections last year, it was a very sensitive issue. The State Department provided a lot of documentation to congressional investigators.
There was dissatisfaction on both sides. In particular, there was a lot of concern about the thing that nobody could talk about, which was the CIA's role in Benghazi. Of the 30 Americans who were evacuated after the attack, approximately only seven of them worked for the State Department. The rest of them were working for the CIA.
And that's something nobody was able to talk about in open session, and that really did make it much harder for everybody to explain what actually transpired
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, after yesterday's hearing, where does this come go from here? Clearly, there's still two or more versions of many aspects of this.
ADAM ENTOUS: Right.
I mean, I think it's pretty clear that the Republicans intend on making -- maintaining this and continuing this as an issue, and there will be more hearings for sure. And I think that yesterday's dramatic testimony, which humanized in a way that we hadn't seen before what occurred on Sept. 11th, is going to add some additional steam to this.
But I'm not entirely clear what additional information is going to be gleaned. Maybe these additional e-mails when are they passed over will provide some additional information, and we will have to wait and see.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Adam Entous at The Wall Street Journal, thank you.
ADAM ENTOUS: Thank you.
JEFFREY BROWN: Next: abandoning a widespread and painful rite of passage.
Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro visited the West African nation of Senegal. His report is part of our Agents for Change series.
And a note: Some viewers may find the subject matter troubling.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: As dusk approaches, a group called Tostan sets up a giant screen in this remote village in Senegal. To overcome language barriers, the feature will be a 1929 Buster Keaton silent film. The film is a hit, as were events put on earlier in the day by Tostan.
Its mission is to teach about human rights, specifically the right to health, but its seminars and skits will often lead to a discussion of an age-old custom: female genital cutting.
WOMAN: She needs to be cut. All girls need that. You can't have a recognized marriage if she's not cut.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: This painful rite of passage is practiced by both Muslims and Christians across a swathe of mostly African nations, from Senegal to Egypt.
Each year, the World Health Organization says up to three million girls in Africa are subjected to genital mutilation, and up to 140 million women live with its consequences. Genital cutting probably originated in the harems of ancient rulers as a means of controlling women's fidelity, or a sign of chastity among those who aspired to be consorts, according to Molly Melching, who started Tostan.
MOLLY MELCHING, Founder, Tostan: As the years went on, I mean, 2,220 years, it became very much a part of what was considered criteria for good marriage.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Melching is an Illinois native who has lived here for about four decades, first as a student, then a Peace Corps worker.
Genital cutting was rarely discussed publicly, and in fact when she began Tostan 20 years ago, her goal wasn't to end it, but instead to simply provide information that was sorely lacking.
MOLLY MELCHING: When you see a friend that you've known for several months and you've gone to her house for lunch, and then she tells you her child has some problem, that it's someone who has cast an evil spell on the child, the baby, and that she's going to take them to a religious leader to get the spell taken off, and you don't know what to say, and it turns out the baby was dehydrated.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But the more Tostan's staff and volunteers talked to local communities about health, the more the topic Melching calls FGC came up, since people began to tie it to bad health.
MOLLY MELCHING: So, suddenly, as they started learning germ transmission and the consequences of FGC and how these infections occur and why they had more problems in childbirth than other women who have not been cut, they started saying, wait a minute.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: To go from talking about an age-old cultural norm to actually changing it presented a huge challenge. Tostan's approach has been to go to local imams to get their agreement that the ritual is not a religious obligation.
MOLLY MELCHING: We share our modules with the religious leaders, so that they see that everything that we do is for the well-being of the community, the health, and all these things are things that Islam espouses. And so they're very happy in general, but first of all they're happy because we start with them.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That respect also carries over into the group's messages in general.
MOLLY MELCHING: Tostan found that using approaches that shame or blame people really was just the opposite of what would work in changing social norms.
When you say to someone, we know you love your daughter and you're doing things because you love your daughter, but let's look at this and let's try to understand together exactly what are the consequences of this practice, but you are the ones that will have to make the decision, then suddenly people are willing to listen. They don't get defensive.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It's been far more effective than the approach of many aid groups, says University of California, San Diego, Professor Gerry Mackie.
GERRY MACKIE, University of California, San Diego: When we think of an ideal way of making a change, we'd say it's democratic. We all get together and talk it over and decide what the best thing is to do, whereas some development approaches would, say, force them to do it, pay them to do it, trick them into doing it.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In Tostan's approach, local leaders and elders produce the skits and lead discussions. Their words and personal experience carry strong credibility.
Diarre Ba used to make a living as a cutter.
DIARRE BA, Senegal: I was part of this process. I felt bad. This is not right. But I didn't know anything at the time. I had no learning.
MARIAM BAMBA, Senegal: It's painful. I can never forget the pain, so painful.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Mariam Bamba is a longtime campaigner for Tostan, and she spared her 10-year-old daughter the trauma. Yet, early in her own marriage, she was determined to keep up the tradition, even though her own husband was opposed to it.
SULEYMAN TRAORE, Senegal: She insisted that she had to do it. There were so many problems if you didn't do it. If you cooked meals, no one would eat your food. It's because we didn't know.
People told us that it was our religion. If you don't do it, you'll be going against your religion. All this is false. But I alone can't do this in the village.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Doing this alone could render one's daughters unmarriageable.
So one of Tostan's most critical roles today is to lessen the stigma by getting whole communities and others into which they might marry to jointly declare an end to cutting. Public rallies called declarations have increased to include hundreds of villages who gather to celebrate the decision.
GERRY MACKIE: One part of bringing about a change like this is to get everyone to change at once, what we call coordinated abandonment. Everyone has to see that everyone else sees that everyone is changing.
MOLLY MELCHING: Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would be sitting here years later, saying that 4,792 communities in Senegal had abandoned. In the beginning, it was just unthought of, unbelievable, because it was so taboo.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Since our visit, the number of communities has grown to more than 5,000, and many have also pledged to change another tradition, the frequent practice of allowing older men to marry adolescent girls, acknowledging both the health risks and the girls' human rights.
Molly Melching says there are examples in history of this kind of sweeping shift in social norms and attitudes. She sees a very current one every time she comes home in American views on smoking.
MOLLY MELCHING: People were smoking, and nobody said anything about it much through the '50s, the '60s, and even the '70s. And as people became more and more aware of the harm that it causes, more and more people -- there was a critical mass of people who started really protesting. It was amazing for me, coming from Senegal to the United States, to see how quickly things turned around.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Tostan's efforts have now expanded beyond Senegal to seven other African nations.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A version of Fred's story aired on the PBS program "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly."
His reporting is a partnership with the Under-Told Stories Project at Saint Mary's University in Minnesota. He talks more with Molly Melching on our World page. Find their conversation about how she got her start in activism against genital mutilation.
JEFFREY BROWN: And finally tonight, a news flash: Marcia Coyle wasn't in the courtroom today, only because there were no Supreme Court arguments or decisions.
But she is with us, because, in her spare time from covering the court on a daily basis for the National Law Journal and, of course, regularly with us, she's written a book that takes a larger look at the justices and key cases since 2005, the year that John Roberts became chief justice.
It's called "The Roberts Court: The Struggle for the Constitution."
And, Marcia, welcome.
MARCIA COYLE, "The Roberts Court: The Struggle for the Constitution"/ National Law Journal: Thanks, Jeff.
JEFFREY BROWN: First, what were you trying to do here that you don't do normally with us and for the -- and in your daily job?
MARCIA COYLE: I saw the book as an opportunity to really explore the court in-depth.
I think I and many journalists today feel that we have fewer opportunities to write in-depth about just about any subject because of the Internet, where we're writing for our newspapers, we're writing for the Web, we're writing for blogs. And a book was an opportunity to really do that and also to just add to what I do on the NewsHour. And that's try to shed some light, more light on what the court does.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, when you look at the big picture, the big issue of the last years, one we have talked about and one you focus on here is the conservative shift in the makeup of the court and how that affects many of the decisions here. Right?
MARCIA COYLE: That's right.
And the court has had a conservative majority for some time. But with the Roberts court in particular, we saw the court become a little more conservative than its predecessor court, mainly because of the addition of Justice Samuel Alito, who replaced Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. She often was more of a moderating force on the court, and he is much more conservative
JEFFREY BROWN: And one of the things you're looking at -- and, again, this comes up in the sort of politicization of the court. We talk about it, is it a more -- and it's because of the times we live in, right, that everything is politicized.
MARCIA COYLE: That's true.
JEFFREY BROWN: How do the justices see that and how does that play into their work, if at all?
MARCIA COYLE: I did interview a good number of the justices.
And in the book, they -- some of them do talk about whether politics enters into their decision-making. And, obviously, they all feel that it does not. But they talk about how they approach cases.
One, they don't think in terms of a liberal bloc and a conservative bloc. As one justice explained to me, we all do the same thing. We read the lower court opinion. We read the brief. We listen to the arguments. We look at prior decisions and we make our decisions. But, as this justice also said, the results are what the results are.
We shouldn't be so naive, I think, to believe, when you have five justices appointed by Republican presidents and four by Democratic presidents, that there is going to be ideological empathy with the politics of the president.
JEFFREY BROWN: And the way you have done this is to look at four areas -- big areas, right, where very important decisions, cases, I mean, were decided by 5-4.
MARCIA COYLE: That's right, Jeff.
It's a story of the Roberts court in general, but, more specifically, it's the story of four great divides on the court in the areas of race, guns, money in campaigns and elections, and health care. And ...
JEFFREY BROWN: All very much with us still, right? Yes.
MARCIA COYLE: Oh, yes. They have -- these decisions have shelf lives. We're going to see more litigation.
And we're seeing it right now in the current court ...
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. Yes. Right.
MARCIA COYLE: ... but also in the struggle within the court and outside of the court for the meaning of the Constitution in those areas.
JEFFREY BROWN: And -- and you get to tell the backstory, which is what makes it so sort of intriguing and takes us beyond the daily news, right?
MARCIA COYLE: Yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: I mean, including how a lot of cases just get to the court, what's going on behind the scenes.
MARCIA COYLE: That was really important to me, because when we talk about cases, we briefly go through the facts, and then we deal with the law.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
MARCIA COYLE: But it's hard to get to the Supreme Court.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
MARCIA COYLE: And, in the book, you're going to meet people like a Seattle mother who sued the Seattle School District in the race cases.
And you're going to meet a political activist who was involved in the Citizens United case. And, at the same time, you're going to meet some very smart, creative, conservative and libertarian lawyers who have an eye on the court, a more sympathetic court, and push these cases up to the Supreme Court, young lawyers like Alan Gura, who argued and won the Second Amendment gun case.
JEFFREY BROWN: It's the Roberts court, right, at the center.
MARCIA COYLE: Yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: And you have -- and you have -- and you have started it with the beginning of Chief Justice Roberts.
How is he involved in these years? What -- what role do you think he plays in sort of controlling the shape of and the outcome of the court now?
MARCIA COYLE: I think he's very committed to trying to reach consensus on the court, because when the court can speak with one voice or nearly one voice, it sends a clear message to the lower courts into how they should apply and interpret the law.
And he's had some success with that. And one of the things I point out in the book is that even though I'm focusing on 5-4 decisions, more than 50 percent of the court's decisions are unanimous or by 7-2 or 8-1.
JEFFREY BROWN: That doesn't get that much attention, right, because we don't tend to look at those cases.
MARCIA COYLE: Right, not at all.
And by picking the 5-4 decisions that I do focus on, I pick them mainly because we learn, when they divide like that, the most about individual justices. And I try to show the reader that even within the five bloc or the four bloc, there are differences among those justices as to how they approach and interpret the law.
JEFFREY BROWN: And personally, do they seem to -- well, we talked about this after the health care decision, for one, which you write about here.
MARCIA COYLE: Yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: Did that leave any strains personally among the justices, or can you tell just in their working life how much they do get along?
MARCIA COYLE: OK.
Well, I did talk to two justices after the health care ruling. And they were very honest that it was a very tense, tough time. In fact, they compared it to the Seattle, Louisville school cases that I discussed that were in 2007. It was that difficult.
But they also were very confident that the emotions and the passions would be eased by the following September. And I have seen no evidence of continued strain among the justices. This is a group of justices that -- that, actually, they do like each other, and they work well. It's a very -- it's a very collegial court. It's not nine scorpions in the bottle that we know historically.
JEFFREY BROWN: And John Roberts came as a young man. He's -- he could be there for a long time. There are a number of young justices now. This is very much a work in progress, right?
MARCIA COYLE: That ...
JEFFREY BROWN: I mean in the long term, but even in the short term. As of next week, we will have some new decisions, yes?
MARCIA COYLE: That's right.
And that's another point in the book, that, by historical standards, this is a young court.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
MARCIA COYLE: And also by the age of at least four of the justices.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
MARCIA COYLE: And the changes, the turnover that's been on the court, in just five years, they had four new justices, that the justices also talk about in book how that affects their own jurisprudence and also their interpersonal relationships.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the book is "The Roberts Court: The Struggle for the Constitution."
Marcia Coyle, as always, thank you.
MARCIA COYLE: Thank you, Jeff.
JEFFREY BROWN: And we will continue this conversation online. Please join us there later. And you can also read excerpts from Marcia's book and coverage of this session's major cases -- all that on our Supreme Court page.
By now it's painfully clear the younger generation has been hit hard by fallout from the economic downturn. Almost every day another report reminds us how high the unemployment rate is among 18 to 29 year olds -- above 16 percent in April -- and raises questions of whether today's Millennials will be emotionally as well as financially scarred for life.
On the other hand, screaming out from the cover of this month's Time magazine is a young woman sprawled on the floor, taking a picture of herself with her smartphone, next to the headline "The Me Me Me Generation." (In fairness, the accompanying article explains that young people may be well-equipped to deal with the fast-changing world they're growing up in.)
But whatever makes headlines, more and more often I come across an inspired idea a young person has had in response to a problem our older generation dumped in their laps. Given today's debate around immigration reform, it's especially notable when that young person is the child of immigrants.
Take 24-year-old Chantalle Carles, a native of Miami and a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Florida, who taught special education English in the small town of Henderson, N.C., for Teach for America. Now about to wrap up two years as a fellow with the Duke Endowment, a Carolinas-based private foundation, Carles has developed a project aimed at improving the literacy of children who live in rural areas in the United States.
Inspired by the southern African term Ubuntu, Carles says she couldn't get the idea out of her head once she heard it. According to a popular translation, it means "I am what I am because of what we all are." She decided this was a perfect fit for efforts to bring together one poor community in North Carolina's Iredell County to support children aiming to do well in school. Focusing on literacy, which she argues is fundamental to a student's ability to be successful in school, Carles zeroed in on the loss in reading skills that often takes place over the summer months. That so-called "summer slide" is common to disadvantaged elementary students. Carles saw that most rural North Carolina counties didn't have nearly as many summer-based education programs for these students as urban counties did.
Working with master teachers and a Methodist church in Statesville, N.C., she developed a pilot project to provide six weeks of reading enrichment this summer for selected third through fifth graders. Titled the Ubuntu Academy, it will draw children, their parents, teachers and the church together to begin to close the gap between the reading skills of children from low-income families and those who are better off. She describes it as "data-driven" and carefully designed to frequently measure student progress.
Carles says her interest began at an early age, but it was when she taught for Teach For America that she "realized my heart belongs to my students...and those like them all over the Carolinas and elsewhere."
She grew up in comfortable circumstances in Miami, but her parents, immigrants from Cuba and Nicaragua, did not: They studied and worked hard to gain a foothold despite moving from country to country to be safe. Carles tells me, "I can't remember a day when they did not remind me of the reality of the world outside our safe home and the needs so many people have each day," adding, "I consider myself blessed to have inherited and learned from the greatness that resides within each of my parents."
Carles will be watching Ubuntu Academy from a distance this summer, as she begins law school at Duke University at the same time it starts up. But she plans to stay in regular touch with the project director and to visit whenever she can. Her goal is to see if it can be replicated in other communities.
Not a modest aspiration for someone who turns 25 at the end of May.
Author's note: I'm a member of the board of The Duke Endowment.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, makes an opening statement Thursday before the Judiciary Committee. Photo by Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call.
Thirty-three amendments down. Only 267 more to go.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday opened formal debate on the comprehensive immigration reform proposal crafted by a bipartisan group of eight senators, kicking off a process that is expected to involve several more days of hearings on amendments in the next few weeks.
The panel adopted 22 of the measures considered during the session, including a substitute bill by the Gang of Eight that made technical fixes. Eight amendments sponsored by Republicans won approval. Among them, a proposal put forward by Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley that requires border security goals in the plan to apply to all sectors of the border, not just those designated as "high risk."
Proponents of the 867-page legislation managed to block attempts to significantly alter the bill, including the completion of 700 miles of double-layer fencing and the establishment of operational control over 100 percent of the the U.S.-Mexico border. Such amendments have been dubbed "poison pills" by supporters of immigration reform, who contend the measures are designed to derail the legislation.
"There are many who will want to kill this bill," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., a Gang of Eight member. "I would ask my colleagues, if you don't agree with everything -- no one does -- be constructive. We are open to changes."
But supporters of the overhaul said attempts to strengthen the bill's border security elements must not be so onerous that they would make it more difficult for the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the country to pursue a pathway to citizenship.
Some conservatives on the committee countered that proponents of the legislation were unwilling to embrace meaningful reforms to border security plans. "The committee has consistently rejected any attempts to put real teeth in this bill to secure the border," charged Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. "And if it doesn't have real border security, in my opinion, this bill will not pass."
The changes to the bill approved Thursday drew praise from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the Gang of Eight member who has played a leading role in selling the plan to conservatives on and off Capitol Hill.
"The immigration legislation was improved in some areas today. The bill will now do more to secure our borders and enforce our laws than when the day began," Rubio said in a statement. "There's still a long way to go, but I am encouraged that we are witnessing a transparent and deliberate process to accept input to improve this legislation."
As the legislative process moves forward, questions about border security are certain to remain at the crux of the debate. Proponents of the bill face the challenge of having to toughen border security standards to attract Republican support while keeping pro-reform advocates on board with the plan. Striking that balance will only become more tricky if and when the legislation moves over to the Republican-controlled House.
On Thursday's NewsHour, we talked with two reporters tracking the issue. Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times said the bipartisan group wrote the measure to include "what they consider to be a strong border security package that has to go into place within 10 years for any of the people who are legalized to be able to become citizens." That comes with a price tag of "about $4.5 billion, maybe up to $6.5 billion on the border security," he said.
Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown identified Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah as a Republican considered "gettable" by the Gang of Eight. That said, it "could be unpredictable," she noted. Here's her story about the markup.
Watch the segment here or below:Watch Video
We have more coverage online.
NewsHour desk assistant Laura Sciuto found songwriters who were inspired by immigration reform to craft tunes on both sides of the issue. Cindy Huang will have a piece Friday on families separated by deportation.
THE ROBERTS COURT
NewsHour regular and fan favorite Marcia Coyle is out with a new book examining the U.S. Supreme Court led by Chief Justice John Roberts and some of the major decisions by the justices, from health care reform to gun rights.
Coyle, of the National Law Journal, told Jeffrey Brown this is actually a collegial group of jurists. "I have seen no evidence of continued strain among the justices," she said. "This is a group of justices that -- that, actually, they do like each other, and they work well. It's a very -- it's a very collegial court. It's not nine scorpions in the bottle that we know historically."
Reporter-producer Katelyn Polantz posted an excerpt from the book, additional video from Coyle's conversation with Brown and wrote more about her work on "The Roberts Court: The Struggle for the Constitution" here. You can follow our SCOTUS coverage here.
Watch the conversation here or below:Watch Video
Watch the second part of the conversation, on what it's like for Coyle to cover the court, here or below.Watch Video
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One Thursday that a looming new confrontation with Republicans over raising the debt ceiling is going nowhere. "We are not negotiating over Congress' responsibility to pay the bills that they incur. Period," he said. "It is remarkable to imagine that Republicans would want to hold the world economy hostage to their insistence on tax cuts for the wealthy. I am in the communications business; I don't want to be the person that has to try to sell that to the American people. That is a tough sell."
House Republicans now support a piece of President Barack Obama's budget proposal that would limit student loan interest rates.
Douglas Brinkley interviews Vice President Joe Biden for Rolling Stone.
Roll Call's Politics Editor Shira Toeplitz compares Senate recruitment timelines.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Thursday that members are voting again to repeal "Obamacare" because "we've got 70 new members who haven't had a chance to vote on the repeal of the president's health care law."
Boehner also said there would be more hearings and more information on the consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya, and lauded the work of Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., on the issue.
Politico's Juana Summers writes about a White House meeting with lawmakers and senior advisor Valerie Jarrett and reports that the Obama administration is still weighing its options on sexual assault in the military.
It wasn't simply a beer between two midwestern Irish guys. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough secretly shared a beer with Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., at a K Street bar last month as part of the White House's concerted outreach to Congress.
Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee boycotted a vote on EPA nominee Gina McCarthy, submitting more than 1,079 pre-confirmation questions. Setting a record, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., submitted 653.
Don't miss Nathan Gonzales' terrific Roll Call story about campaign moms and Washington's ever-present balancing act.
The New York Times finds Robert Mueller's tenure as FBI director with a "bitter bookend" of the Boston bombings.
Another Republican is jumping into the already lopsided field in Georgia. Tricia Pridemore, who served in Gov. Nathan Deal's administration, is expected to announce her candidacy Monday at a barbecue.
Former Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., hopes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., dismounts from his high horse enough to talk to him after Reid refused to speak with his former colleague over an affair Domenici had with the daughter of one of Reid's close friends.
Harry had a gaggle of women trailing him on the Hill Thursday. Prince Harry, that is, toured a HALO Trust exhibit in the Russell building with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., before heading to the White House for tea with Michelle Obama and Jill Biden.
Even in the 14th worst-dressed city, shoes matter.
Hipster Shakespeare? The Guardian presents five portraits of historical figures updated with modern attire.
Bad News Babes co-captain Abby Livingston continues her hazing of female lawmakers ahead of our faceoff in the Congressional Women's Softball Game. She points out here in a Famous DC post that it is, of course, all for a good cause.
In Judy's Notebook, Judy Woodruff writes about how one young teacher is making a difference in the lives of disadvantaged elementary school students in rural North Carolina.
Ahead of his upcoming big piece on the issue, Kwame Holman talks with Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., about her efforts to raise awareness about sexual assault in the military.
Yes, there's such thing as a NASCAR nurse. NewsHour's Hari Sreenivasan and Jason Kane present this blog post describing eight types of nurses you may not know existed.
How did Watergate affect you? Let us know ahead of our May 17 special looking back at the scandal that changed American politics and made the NewsHour what it is today.
Here's the NewsHour's competition for the ACLI Capital Challenge charity race Wednesday morning. Your fierce Morning Line duo is running, along with 12 others from the program. Our team is called No Commercials, No Mercy.
Spellchecker still changing "Benghazi" to "Whitewater." #rightwingmediaproblems— Ana Marie Cox (@anamariecox) May 9, 2013
Coordinating producer Linda J. Scott and desk assistant Simone Pathe contributed to this report.
For more political coverage, visit our politics page.
Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.
Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.
Follow the politics team on Twitter:Follow @burlijiFollow @kpolantzFollow @elizsummersFollow @tiffanymullonFollow @meenaganesanFollow @ljspbs
Click to enlarge.
A collector examines stamps on display Friday at the World Stamp Expo in Melbourne, Australia. The exhibition is the second largest ever held in the world. Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images.
MAMA users in South Africa receive daily text messages filled with tips and reminders about the health of their babies. Photo by Imani M. Cheers/IRP.
Memory Banda is busy. Her 10-month old son is teething and taking his first steps around her Hillbrow home, a revitalized neighborhood in Johannesburg's bustling city center.
"This is my first child so I didn't know what to do when his teeth started to show," she said. When Memory needed tips and advice about her son's teething process, she didn't need to go to her local clinic or call a doctor. Instead, she receives several text messages a week about her baby's development from the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action, affectionately known as MAMA -- a global movement that uses mobile technologies to improve the health and lives of mothers in developing nations.
According to UNICEF, 4,300 mothers die in South Africa every year due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth, 20,000 babies are stillborn and another 23,000 die in their first month of life. In total, 75,000 children do not make it to their fifth birthday.
South African women living in poverty face many challenges, specifically access to quality health care. In communities such as Hillbrow, there are high rates of unemployment, poverty and HIV prevalence is estimated at 30 percent among pregnant women. Despite these challenges, mobile technologies are providing women with access to life-saving maternal health information.
MAMA provides pregnant women and new mothers with vital information and support using their mobile phones, through five different channels, including an interactive website, text messages, social networking and voicemails. Women are charged one rand (about 10 cents) to sign up for the MAMA services.
MAMA Mobi -- the group's interactive website -- is also available to users with smartphone capabilities. Information based on specifics such as their baby's due date or age milestones are personalized for each user. MAMA SMS sends text messages and reminders to women in five different languages, including English, Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans. MAMA Voice sends pre-recorded messages in the same languages as the text messages for users who face literacy challenges.
MAMA MXit takes advantage of the 10 million-plus users on MXit, a social networking site, and has established an educational portal for South African men and women between the ages of 18 to 25 years old with important information about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting.
MAMA South Africa faces many challenges, including literacy rates among users and he high cost of text messages. As a result of the high cost, MAMA is not currently offering nationwide text-based reminders, but the goal is to offer this to moms on a national basis in the near future. The text service will consist of a weekly message reminder from five weeks of pregnancy until a child is one year old.
In addition to encouraging and empowering mothers with stage-based health information, MAMA's mobile messages provide reminders for mothers to go to the clinic. For mothers living with HIV, MAMA provides messages on the importance of taking ARV (antiretroviral), breastfeeding, and getting their baby tested for HIV.
MAMA South Africa is ending the pilot phase of the program and working on gearing up to increase the scale and reach of the mobile service with a goal of reaching 500,000 mothers by 2015.
This story is part of a series of reports on the impact of mobile technology and health in 10 African countries. For more, visit The Cheers Report.
Screen grab of White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET
In a twice-delayed press briefing, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday that requests by House Republicans to release memos about the administration's response to last year's attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, were an attempt to politicize the deadly event.
The information was provided months ago to members of Congress during the confirmation hearings for John Brennan to become CIA director in February, said Carney, and lawmakers who reviewed the documents said they had what they needed to confirm Brennan.
He attributed the resurfacing of the documents this week to "ongoing attempts to politicize a tragedy that took four American lives."
ABC News, which obtained and released the documents, said references to al-Qaida were deleted from the final version of the talking points, which U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice used on Sunday talk shows following the Sept. 11, 2012, attack. On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, asked the White House to release all documents related to the administration's response to the Benghazi incident.
Reporters asked Carney whether deleting the references to al-Qaida was an attempt to keep it from lawmakers who could use it against the State Department. Carney responded that the State Department raised concerns about preserving the integrity of the investigation, and the agencies weighing in on the talking points wanted to present only what was known at the time.
"We did not -- and the intelligence community did not -- want to jump to conclusions about who was responsible before we had a complete investigation into the facts," he said.
He said President Barack Obama did call it an "act of terror" from the beginning. "This is an effort to accuse the administration of hiding something we did not hide," said Carney.
The only talking point that was wrong, Carney continued, was attributing the attack to a demonstration, which he said was corrected once the administration knew it was a preplanned act of terrorism.
Revelations of the IRS admitting to giving conservative and tea party groups' tax records extra scrutiny also came up at the briefing. Reporters asked whether it put the tax agency's credibility at stake.
Carney said the Inspector General at the IRS is investigating the matter. It seems to be "inappropriate action that we would want to see thoroughly investigated," he said. He also pointed out that the IRS is an independent enforcement agency.
Reporters also asked about the House's vote on Thursday to overturn the president's health care law. Carney said this 40th vote by the House to repeal the act "will achieve nothing but a waste of time. Congress passed it, and the Supreme Court upheld it, and we are implementing it."
Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Tripoli, Libya, testified at a House hearing Wednesday that U.S. jet fighters should have scrambled to protect the U.S. compound in Benghazi as it was under siege. Military officials said the jets wouldn't have gotten there in time. Watch the full hearing.
Three years after the Affordable Care Act became law, a roundtable of reporters weighs in on what's changed for consumers, businesses and state governments, and what to expect next.
When Jon Robin Baitz's family drama "Other Desert Cities" closed on Broadway last June, it concluded a strong run and had been showered with high praise for showcasing its creator's talents: a seven-month stint at Lincoln Center (following a transfer from off-Broadway), five Tony Award nominations, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play.
But for all of that, Baitz and his work may be getting more attention from a wider national audience now.
The play has been produced at a number of regional theaters around the country over the past year -- there will have been at least 20 productions of the show by 2014 -- including Los Angeles, Chicago and most recently in Denver and Washington, D.C., where last week the Arena Stage production debuted to strong reviews. It's playing there until May 26.
"Other Desert Cities" tells the story of the fictional Wyeth family -- a clan led at the top by a mother and father highly regarded in old Hollywood circles and admired by Republicans for their service to and friendship with Ronald and Nancy Reagan in their heyday. The play explores the dark family secrets that threaten to destroy external and internal perceptions about the life the members lead.
Family drama is well-traversed territory, but Baitz, 51, has laced the story with humor and wit, political commentary (setting it in 2004 after the Iraq War is underway), sharp dialogue and an affecting premise: The grown daughter, Brooke, a writer who has suffered a nervous breakdown, has just written a memoir about her life, her parents and their role in the tragic loss of her brother. But she has not told her parents, Polly and Lyman, of her plans to publish the memoir until the publication date nears while on a Christmas visit back home.
Among many other questions raised in the play, Baitz asks whether Brooke has a greater obligation to her family (who saved her during her darkest moments) or to the truth and to her work as a writer.
For Baitz, writing "Other Desert Cities" turned out to be a great relief after his bad experience working in television on "Brothers & Sisters," a series he created. (He's now back at work on a miniseries for NBC, so he hasn't given up on the medium yet.)
Jeff sat down with Baitz when he came to town for the Arena Stage opening. (See video above.)
Below is a scene from the Arena Stage production of "Other Desert Cities." Daughter Brooke (Emily Donahoe) confronts her mother Polly (Helen Carey) and father Lyman (Larry Bryggman) about her memoir as they warn her about the pain she may cause for all.Watch Video
The Lincoln Center production was widely acclaimed and featured a cast that included Stockard Channing, Rachel Griffiths and Stacy Keach. Here's a scene in which Brooke explains what was behind her decision to write the book. (Thank you, Wiki and Lincoln Center archives.)
A transcript of Jeff's conversation with Baitz is after the jump.
JEFFREY BROWN: Welcome to Art Beat again. I'm Jeffrey Brown. "Other Desert Cities," the title refers to a roadside sign that directs drivers to exit at Palm Springs, Calif., or to head onto other desert cities. The play is a family drama that does indeed take its characters and audience to some other strange and dark places, with a lot of humor along the way. It's also very much set in our own time amid current events. After a Broadway run, the play has been produced in several major theaters around the county, now at Arena Stage here in Washington. Playwright Jon Robin Baitz, welcome.
JON ROBIN BAITZ: Thank you, thank you.
JEFFREY BROWN: The adult daughter of prominent parents comes home for Christmas and says, I've written a memoir, and it has some terrible secrets, right? I'm wondering right away, is this based on some -- because we live in an age of memoirs, right -- so I thought right away, where did the idea come from?
JON ROBIN BAITZ: I think it came from my sense of trying to either expiate or make sense of my life as a writer up until now and the potential damage that I've been party to or done.
JEFFREY BROWN: Really? So your sense of yourself as a writer?
JON ROBIN BAITZ: I think so. It reached a point where I wondered about the hubris in the act of writing about people who are actually living beings in some way, and I thought so many people do this and so few people get to respond to it really. There are so many great memoirs and they're also absolutely unreliable in the fundamental sense. I think I was having a kind of low-level crisis of consciousness, but not the one where you say, I don't want to do this ever again. I just wanted to figure it out.
JEFFREY BROWN: So you figured out a way to use it.
JON ROBIN BAITZ: I did.
JEFFREY BROWN: In it's a core it's a family drama, it's well trod territory. How do you make that new or fresh?
JON ROBIN BAITZ: In this case, I sort of thought of the American family in some way. I had created this TV show, "Brothers & Sisters," and I had tried to make that a TV show about a divided family politically and their ongoing argument about what America meant. I didn't get to do that really on the TV show. I had all these notions about politics and children who have very divergent politics from their parents, and it kind of all came up as, I guess, a template in some way.
JEFFREY BROWN: So the parents in this case are Republican, friends of Nancy and Ronald Reagan.
JON ROBIN BAITZ: They're old-school, California, court of Ron and Nancy Reagan Republicans.
JEFFREY BROWN: But then we're very much in this decade or the past decade, and the Iraq War is going, so I'm interested -- I mean, here we are at a news program and we're looking at these events all the time -- but the culture goes on, arts respond. Did you want to address? Did you want to get into bigger issues?
JON ROBIN BAITZ: Well, one of the reasons it's called "Other Desert Cities" is because I am thinking about, as someone says in the play, a war going on thousands of miles away in another desert. It had occurred to me that there had a been of kind of thing that I'm most interested in the world called complacency. There had been a division politically in which the neocons very quickly supplanted older voices within the GOP, and a lot of people I knew who were more conservative had not really taken it in. And I realized though their concerns were actually about their economic well-being really. But the party was different from the one. And that's sort of the one that was in power at the time, and I think that was a big part of thinking in the play.
JEFFREY BROWN: But you are writing a play, and so you have to avoid making it a political tract in some sense.
JON ROBIN BAITZ: No, there is no lecture. I think the idea of going to the theater to be harangued, particularly liberal pieties, I'd rather drink hemlock. And a milkshake.
JEFFREY BROWN: I don't want to give the story away, the plot of what happens here. But the layers of secrets that unfold you through the course of this, where the person who has written the memoir thinks she knows the story, thinks she knows her own parents and then comes to realize that there's another whole layer here that she has no clue. That goes to what you were talking about what we think we know about memoirs.
JON ROBIN BAITZ: And what we think we know about everybody and the absolute unknowableness of things. A lot of that also has to do with -- I think as a younger writer I was interested in quietly indicting older people, but now, you know --
JEFFREY BROWN: You're more understanding?
JON ROBIN BAITZ: Yeah, well, you turn 50 and everything sort of -- I've become so much more like my father, who's this really a gentleman who grew up here in Washington, D.C. I see things from their point of view so much more often than I don't now. This thing of manners being very important. So she gets a lot of it slightly wrong and has to deal with that. It's a play in some way about humility.
JEFFREY BROWN: What is this like for you now? It was in New York, it's on Broadway, and then now it's out in the country, a lot of different productions. Does it still feel like your baby or you interested in how it gets produced in different ways, different actors?
JON ROBIN BAITZ: I try not to go very often to other productions. This is the second one I've seen, and there's been like 20 or something.
JEFFREY BROWN: And this is just the second one?
JON ROBIN BAITZ: Yeah, that I've been to.
JEFFREY BROWN: And why do you --
JON ROBIN BAITZ: Because I want A) would like to be working on new things, which is what I'm doing, but B) I don't want to get in the way of people's good time. It can be a bummer to have the playwright snooping around your production judging quietly or something.
JEFFREY BROWN: Speaking of working on other things, finally, you were referring to your television experience. You told me that earlier that it was not the best experience.
JON ROBIN BAITZ: No, it was really not. It was not fun.
JEFFREY BROWN: But you're going back to television.
JON ROBIN BAITZ: I am, but in a much more discreet way. There's only eight episodes. I'm doing a miniseries for NBC. There's only eight epodes. They're all written by me. It can't go on. It can't go on forever. I can't be like Sisyphus pushing a rock.
JEFFREY BROWN: And working in a different medium like that, is that interesting?
JON ROBIN BAITZ: TV? Doing a miniseries, yeah, it's a lot of interesting mathematics to telling a story over time, which I like. Each episode in it is told from another character's point of view about the same event. So it's sort of fun to be able to, as I like to say, shift your weight occasionally and do something else, you know, other than just write plays.
JEFFREY BROWN: Although that's not --
JON ROBIN BAITZ: I love writing plays. I do. I do. I wouldn't really know how to do many other things. I could work behind the counter of a coffee shop or GAP Kids.
JEFFREY BROWN: Keep doing it. "Other Desert Cities" is now at Arena Stage in Washington and around the country. Jon Robin Baitz, nice to talk to you. Thank you.
JON ROBIN BAITZ: Thank you very much.
JEFFREY BROWN: And thanks for joining us again on Art Beat. I'm Jeffrey Brown.
José Efraín Ríos Montt inside the courtroom where he is being tried for genocide and crimes against humanity. Photo by Xeni Jardin.
Update: 2:50 p.m. ET | After seven weeks of testimony, a verdict may be reached today on the trial of Guatamala's José Efraín Ríos Montt, who is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity, reports Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin, who co-produced a PBS NewsHour piece on the subject that aired this week. She is in the courtroom, covering the trial.
That report, by NewsHour Science Correspondent Miles O'Brien, focused on the role of science in the trial, namely how anthropologists use forensics to search for evidence of genocide committed during Rios Montt's 1982-1983 rule, a particularly violent phase of the country's 36-year civil war. The scientists' process includes analyzing skeletons from clandestine graves, grinding up teeth and bones to extract DNA and poring over satellite images of the Guatemalan countryside captured before and after Ríos Montt's rule. Watch the full report here:
Watch Video Miles O'Brien reports on the role of science in the trial of former Guatemalan leader José Efraín Ríos Montt's genocide trial.
We also have an inside look from Jardin at the reporting and wrenching interviews she and O'Brien conducted with indigenous Mayans, who say they were victims of the regime's violence.
During the production of the piece, we dug into the vault and found this in-depth MacNeil/Lehrer Report video from Oct. 25, 1982 on the violence and instability across Guatemala and the actions of Rios Montt.
Gavin Hewitt from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports from Guatemala in 1982 on violence and instability across the country under the Rios Montt regime.
We also found this MacNeil/Lehrer Report piece from Nov. 30, 1983, on the debate over the U.S. role in Guatemala. It was filmed just after the Reagan administration announced the end of a five-year embargo on military shipments to Guatemala, citing human rights progress and claiming that Ríos Montt had been given a "bum rap." You'll see in these interviews a split between U.S. administration officials and human rights organizations.
A 1983 MacNeil/Lehrer Report on the debate over the U.S. role in Guatemala.
For example, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Eliott Abrams tells Jim Lehrer that political killings in Guatemala had reduced under the Rios Montt leadership, from hundreds a month to 40-50 a month and calls that "considerable progress."
"We're not suggesting the number of 40 or 50 a month is good, but it's a lot better," Abrams says. "And we think that kind of progress has to be rewarded and encouraged."
But human rights groups, which did not support the lifting of the embargo, along with some members of Congress told a different story: one of kidnappings, refugees and massacres by government forces.
This for example, came from Robert Goldman from Americas Watch Committee.
"Rios Montt is a dictator who came in with all these promises, and yet, what did he do?" Goldman says. "He abolished all press freedom. There's less press freedom now in Guatemala than there has been for the last 30 years. No political parties are allowed. No union activity. Search and seizure without warrants are conducted. A three-man military tribunal can sentence anybody to anything, including death."
It's an interesting debate to watch in light of the trial still taking place. We'll be posting updates on the trial in the coming days and weeks and following Jardin's coverage from the courtroom.
Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million, "a long-feared milestone," the New York Times reports today, calling it "a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering." According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the rate of increase has accelerated since the measurements started, from 0.7 ppm per year in the late 1950s to 2.1 ppm per year during the last 10 years. Previous to the Industrial Revolution, the global average of carbon dioxide levels was at about 280 ppm.
This 14-year-old's science project shows that the iPad2 may pose a risk to heart patients. Gianna Chien's study found that magnets used to attach the iPad's cover may "turn off" the automatic defibrillators some patients use to restart their stopped heart. The high school freshman, whose father is a doctor, presented her results at California's San Joaquin County Science Fair in March and came in second place.
Could a massive "data hole" off the Somali coast be due to pirates? Research in anthropology, plate tectonics, plankton evolution, and climate change, among other areas, has all but stopped throughout hundreds of thousands of miles of the Indian Ocean off the Horn of Africa, National Geographic reports.
Do you think you know more about science than the average American? Take this Pew test and find out.
This animation from the Guardian shows every meteorite since 861 AD.
A record-setting blast of gamma rays from a dying star in a distant galaxy has wowed astronomers around the world. The eruption, which is classified as a gamma-ray burst, produced the highest-energy light ever detected from such an event, NASA reports.
This very simple, fascinating graphic shows where we register on the geologic time scale.
NOT SAFE FOR LUNCH
From Science News: "Human ancestors living in East Africa 2 million years ago weren't a steak-and-potatoes crowd. But they had a serious hankering for gazelle meat and antelope brains, fossils discovered in Kenya indicate."
Tom Kennedy, Patti Parson and David Pelcyger contributed to this report.
On the Friday May 10 PBS NewsHour:
A seamstress was pulled out alive in Bangladesh from the ruins of a garment factory that collapsed more than two weeks ago
Details on the $45 million dollar bank heist involving ATMs in 27 countries
The breakout of violence in Pakistan that has killed more than 100 people ahead of critical elections on Saturday
Analysis of the week's news from syndicated columnist Mark Shields and The Washington Post's Michael Gerson
The story of how one victim from the bombings at the Boston Marathon is healing from her injuries from the blast
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.
Six months after the end of the 2012 presidential election, political activity has already started to percolate in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
For Republicans, especially, it appears the 2016 field will be wide open, and some potential contenders are wasting little time beginning the process of introducing themselves to GOP activists and donors.
"The level of interest is starting to ramp up," said Juliana Bergeron, a Republican National Committee member from New Hampshire. "Republicans are over being shell-shocked from the 2012 election and are ready to start vetting potential candidates."
One figure getting an early look is Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has said he is "considering" a run in 2016, but indicated he would not make a decision until next year at the earliest. In recent months the tea party favorite has raised his national profile by leading a Senate filibuster over the Obama administration's drone policy and followed that up with a victory in the straw poll at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference.
Paul's chief of staff, Doug Stafford, said the senator's focus at the moment is on getting his message out. "Long term he obviously needs to decide if he is going to run," Stafford told the PBS NewsHour. "But whether he does or not, he wants to be part of the national conversation."
That means doing events like the ones Paul has scheduled this weekend in Iowa, Stafford said.
The freshman senator will headline the Iowa Republican Party's annual Lincoln Dinner in Cedar Rapids on Friday night. The sold-out event will be carried nationally on C-SPAN. More importantly for Paul, perhaps, it presents an opportunity to connect with likely caucus-goers.
Stafford said Paul plans to stick to familiar themes during his trip, addressing topics such as immigration reform, the ongoing fallout from last year's attacks in Benghazi, the budget deficit and his "overall view for the party" going forward.
Republicans are over being shell-shocked from the 2012 election and are ready to start vetting potential candidates. -- Juliana Bergeron, New Hampshire Republican National Committee
Paul also plans to speak Friday with the Iowa Federation of Republican Women and will attend a Saturday breakfast with Johnson County Republicans in North Liberty.
Deborah Thornton, the chairwoman of the Johnson County GOP, said her members are "very interested" in being being part of the national political debate, which means hearing not only from Paul, but other national conservative leaders. She said Saturday's breakfast, which is expected to draw between 100 and 120 people, is just the first in a series of events. Thornton named New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz among the officials the group hopes to bring in down the road.
Paul has at least one advantage: the foundation laid by his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who ran for president three times, including last year. Some Republicans believe the younger Paul's political ceiling is even higher because he has a more practical approach that could resonate with the party's establishment wing.
"Ron had more of an older profile, but he could still connect with younger folks through his campaign's use of technology," said former South Carolina GOP chair Karen Floyd. "But Rand can do both, because he has his father's message, but it's tightened up so he has greater reach."
Stafford said the elder Paul's still-active network would benefit his son because it means he's "not starting from zero" should he choose to run. "Their ideas don't overlap 100 percent, and their supporters don't overlap 100 percent, but they do for the most part."
The weekend trip to Iowa is just the first in a series of Paul's visits to states with early voting contests. Later this month he will address the New Hampshire Republican Party's first annual Liberty Dinner in Concord. He also is scheduled to attend a fundraising event for the South Carolina Republican Party in late June.
While Paul's schedule might be busier than most, he is far from the only Republican figure looking to elevate his profile at this early stage.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, another potential 2016 contender, will spend Friday night in the Granite State, speaking at a fundraising event for the Republican Senate Majority Committee, the campaign arm for the state Senate GOP.
Jindal's remarks in Manchester are also scheduled to be covered on C-SPAN as part of the cable channel's "Road to the White House 2016" programming.
The dueling Paul and Jindal events Friday come a week after Cruz, another rising star in the Republican Party, addressed the South Carolina GOP Silver Elephant banquet. The event was held in honor of former Sen. Jim DeMint, who stepped down last year to lead the Heritage Foundation.
Cruz's speech stoked speculation that he might be gearing up for a presidential run just four months into his Senate term, but the tea party favorite rejected such talk as "wild speculation."
The chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, Chad Connelly, said it was too early for people in the state to begin making "assessments" about Cruz or any of the other possible candidates. But, he indicated Cruz made a positive first impression.
"I think he was very well received. His comments were spot on. Red meat for the crowd," Connelly said. "We had a lot of people who got to hang out with him a little bit, in a little more personal setting, and they liked him a lot. So, I heard nothing but great things, that's for sure."
Connelly, who traveled with Paul to Israel last year, said South Carolina Republicans are interested in being part of a broader discussion taking place within the party about how it moves forward in the aftermath of two consecutive presidential defeats.
"From an activist's standpoint, they just want to meet people that may be in the mix. But more importantly, I think that they really just want to be around people who are having a conversation about what do we do to win nationally," Connelly said. "So I don't think it was anything bigger than that, whether it was Senator Cruz from last weekend or Senator Paul coming in. They're just testing waters, getting to know people, making the rounds."
A sampling of other political veterans from Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina agree that despite the early buzz, talk of 2016 is premature. At the same time, they acknowledge that early appearances by potential candidates do serve a purpose.
"We're not at anywhere close to a full boil yet," said Matt Strawn, former chairman of the Iowa Republican Party. "But take a visit like Senator Paul's this week. It's not just the large appearance on stage at the spring dinner but it's quiet meetings either before or afterwards with those key activists who know how to organize their counties or their precincts."
Veteran GOP consultant Rich Killion, a managing partner with Elevare Communications in Concord, N.H., said there are few drawbacks for someone to lay down an early marker by helping raise money for local and state officials.
"It's a great opportunity for national figures to come into the state and do a little bit well for themselves by doing a lot well for others," Killion said. "These state and local parties turn to national leaders as an opportunity to help keynote an event that can help raise critical resources for the local or state endeavors. And the leaders themselves certainly are not hurt one bit by being able to come in and build relationships."
South Carolina's Floyd, meanwhile, said much of the focus at the moment is on "laying the foundational structure for the party," which includes working on its message, identifying new messengers and reaching out to certain demographic groups.
"These fellows are just beginning to develop their teams," Floyd said. "It's a little early at this point. I expect you'll start to see things pick up this fall."
Kim Lehman, a former Republican National Committee member from Iowa, said that candidates weighing potential bids must strike a "delicate balance" when it comes to the timing, noting there are risks in waiting too long to get started hiring staff members, for one.
"There are only so many worker bees," Lehman said. "That's where early matters. If you're coming in after all the good people are snatched up, forget it."
And, of course, some candidates of elections past can re-activate their own staff and volunteer networks. Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who narrowly won the Iowa caucuses in 2012, recently canceled a trip to the state due to illness, but has said he plans to visit in August for the state fair.
When it comes to the early voting states, politics never really stops. That means there is not much time off for those "worker bees."
"The average New Hampshire primary voter does not have the appetite at this stage in the game to even begin thinking about, never mind focusing upon, a 2016 contest," Killion said. "The activists though, for either party, always have their eye towards people within their party who really speak towards what they feel and will fight for what they believe in. So the activists network, if you will, is always ripe for interest, even at this early stage."
Strawn contends that it is "way too early to start choosing teams" for most Republican Party activists. "Now, that's not to say they're not paying attention and kicking the tires, but I don't get the sense after a lengthy competitive caucus season and what we just went through in 2012 as one of the handful of ground zero battleground targeted states that folks are ready for another knock-down, drag-out intraparty fight right away."
If history is any guide, there will be plenty of time for that later.
For more political news, visit the NewsHour's politics page.
By Zvi Bodie
Economist Zvi Bodie, perhaps the country's foremost expert on pension finance, insists that every American at least consider an investment that financial advisors almost never mention.
Photo by Peter Gridley/Getty Images.
A note from Paul Solman: Zvi Bodie has influenced my thinking about financial economics for 20 years. He has also been my trusted -- and extremely wise -- financial advisor for most of that time. And we have featured him often in stories about America's pension crisis on PBS NewsHour: corporate pension sleight-of-hand and public pension mismanagement, though my favorite Bodie appearance came when he helped us explain the housing Crash of '08, many months before the eventual Lehman collapse.
I regularly beseech Zvi to contribute to this page. Occasionally, he deigns to do so. Today is one of those occasions.
Zvi Bodie: Recently, Paul Sullivan wrote in his Wealth Matters column about financial advisors' increasing interest in technology. He raises two questions about expanded use of technology: Will it help advisers do their job better? And will it be better for clients or confuse and frustrate them? A friend asked me how I would answer those questions. I thought Making Sense readers might be interested too.
Remember the old saw about computer forecasting models? GIGO -- Garbage In, Garbage Out. Technology can make good advice more accessible and less costly, but it cannot turn bad advice into good advice. If the technology is designed to pitch some investment service that is not in the best interest of clients, employing sophisticated technology and interactive software will only serve to deceive the client more efficiently. Fancy software is not a substitute for trustworthiness and good science.
Let me give an example to make clear what I mean. As many of you know if you've read earlier posts of mine on I Bonds or how to pick a financial advisor, I recommend that for people concerned about preserving the purchasing power of their savings, an investment program should start with the purchase of US Treasury Series I Savings Bonds, of which you can purchase up to $10,000 per year per person.
To quote the Treasury Department's write-up online, which I urge everyone to read in full:
"You can cash them in after one year. But if you cash them in before five years, you lose the last three months of interest. (If you cash in an I Bond after 18 months, you get the first 15 months of interest.)"
I Bonds provide the ultimate in long-run liquid financial security to residents of the U.S. An investor in these bonds cannot lose any money or any purchasing power for up to 30 years, despite either inflation or deflation. They provide a return at least equal to the rate of inflation and, often, have paid a "premium" of interest above and beyond inflation.
At the moment, because of historically low interest rates, that premium is zero, but it is reset every six months. If, in September (or the following March or a year from September, etc.), new I Bonds do offer a premium, you can sell the current ones and use the money to buy the new ones. The U.S. Treasury started issuing I Bonds in 1998, and over the intervening 15 years technological improvements have made it easier than ever for people of modest means to purchase them online through TreasuryDirect.gov and keep track of their increasing value, a value that by the terms of the bonds keeps pace with inflation.
You might wonder why a bond that pays, at the moment, only the rate of inflation, is a good investment. The answer is simple. Compare it to an equivalent investment, issued by the very same U.S. Treasury, that is not inflation-protected. The equivalent would be a six-month Treasury "bill." It is paying less than 1/100th of a percent at the moment. Since inflation is running at 1.8 percent right now and an I Bond automatically pays you the inflation rate, the I Bond would seem to be rather obviously the debt instrument of choice.
Yet despite their clear value as a safe and liquid anchor for any investment portfolio, few clients of investment advisors even know of the existence of I Bonds. Bona fide advisors who are truly fiduciaries serving the best interest of their clients would inform them about I Bonds, direct them to the U.S. Treasury's TreasuryDirect.gov website, and assist them in setting up accounts for themselves and their children. To the best of my knowledge, no major investment advisory firm in the U.S. does this.RELATED CONTENT:How to Find a Financial Advisor, Step by Step
When the chief financial officer of a West Coast nonprofit followed my counsel on this page (see "How to Find a Financial Advisor, Step by Step") he asked the several financial advisors he auditioned if I Bonds were part of their advice. He told Paul Solman that not one of the advisors said they were. That is not a function of their mastery -- or lack of mastery -- of technology. It can only be explained in terms of self-interest or ignorance. There is no profit margin in advising clients to purchase I Bonds. And of course, if you don't know about them, how can you suggest them?
Instead of practicing prudence, however, investment advisors tend to deploy the latest innovations in digital technology to promote the products of those with an even greater incentive to steer you wrong -- members of the financial services industry. That industry specializes in pushing the product with the highest profit margin, stocks. The content of financial services materials is often deceptive and in some cases flatly contradicts what financial economists recommend as sound.
As I have shown repeatedly on this website and Making Sense broadcasts, no matter how broadly diversified a portfolio of stocks, conventional bonds, and cash may be, it cannot offer the protection afforded by I Bonds. The proposition that the risk of stocks diminishes with the length of one's time horizon is a fallacy, as is the notion that stocks are a hedge against the risk of inflation. I figure it's about time for every American to be told -- or in the case of the Making Sense audience, told again -- about I Bonds.
Zvi Bodie appeared in this 2011 story on assumptions used for public pension funds.
Zvi Bodie is a professor of management at Boston University. His books include "The Future of Life Cycle Saving" and "Investing and Foundations of Pension Finance." For more, see his website. Zvi's videos are on his YouTube Channel.