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- 05/13/13--15:06: _Understanding Tax L...
- 05/13/13--15:15: _News Wrap: Obama Re...
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- 05/13/13--15:18: _Supreme Court Unani...
- 05/13/13--15:25: _Still Counting Vote...
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- 05/14/13--07:00: _Is China 'Pivoting'...
- 05/14/13--07:34: _The Tuesday Cutline...
- 05/14/13--07:49: _Charles Henry Rowell
- 05/14/13--09:26: _How Sequestration C...
- 05/14/13--09:45: _Feline Fans Unite a...
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- 05/14/13--11:02: _Internet Cat Video ...
- 05/14/13--11:35: _The Day Doctors Beg...
- 05/14/13--14:14: _Jolie's Decision Sh...
- 05/13/13--15:15: News Wrap: Obama Rejects Republican Claims of a Benghazi Cover-Up
- 05/13/13--15:18: Supreme Court Unanimously Rules to Uphold Monsanto's Soybean Patent
- 05/13/13--15:43: New Anthology Celebrates 'Ascent' of African-American Poets
- 05/14/13--06:25: Obama Ponders Time Left in Office as Probes Pile Up
- 05/14/13--06:57: Ask The Headhunter: Am I Getting Stiffed on Salary?
- 05/14/13--07:34: The Tuesday Cutline...a Contest
- 05/14/13--07:49: Charles Henry Rowell
- 05/14/13--09:26: How Sequestration Could Affect US Flood-Warning System
- 05/14/13--09:45: Feline Fans Unite at Internet Cat Video Festival
- 05/14/13--10:00: Commander Hadfield Reports to Ground Control
- 05/14/13--11:02: Internet Cat Video Festival
- 05/14/13--11:35: The Day Doctors Began to Conquer Smallpox
JUDY WOODRUFF: And late today, the House Ways and Means Committee announced that it will hold a hearing this Friday.
To help us understand the tax law and what the groups are charging, we are joined by Duke University Law School professor Richard Schmalbeck. He's a former tax attorney. And former IRS attorney Jay Sekulow, as chief counsel at the American Center for the Law and Justice, he is representing tea party organizations. He also hosts a conservative talk radio program.
Gentlemen, welcome to you both.
And, Jay Sekulow, let me start with you. Let's go back to the applications that these groups made for tax-exempt status. What sort of tax treatment exactly were they asking for?
JAY SEKULOW, American Center for Law and Justice: Most of them were asking for -- our clients were asking for (c)(4) status, which is -- allows for the -- money given is not taxable. It's not tax-deductible by the donor, but it's not a taxable event to the organization.
So it was a 501(c)(4) legal status. And the application actually is very straightforward. And the first series of questions were not terribly intrusive. It was the second round of questions that were very intrusive and has caused the problem here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you Professor Schmalbeck.
Why -- if they were seeking this status, which is tax-exempt, as we just heard him say, why then are they eligible for tax exemption?
RICHARD SCHMALBECK, Duke University School of Law: Well, there are a number of organizations that are eligible. And I think in many cases, the primary explanation is that they are simply not activities that are engaged in for profit.
And so the normal course of things wouldn't be that they would generate profit. They spend their funds on activities that advance some purpose. In the case of (c)(4) organizations, they're considered social welfare organizations. And they are presumed to advance social welfare.
So it includes things like volunteer fire departments. It includes organizations -- I believe the ACLU is a 501(c)(4). I think the National Rifle Association is a 501(c)(4).
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Jay Sekulow, I just want to pursue this very quickly to help people understand because some people are confused about the term “tax-exempt.”
They get this status, they're seeking this status even though they pursue a very strong set of beliefs, as we just heard, whether it's the National Rifle Association or another group. For example, today I got an e-mail from a group that is a 501(c)(4), but they are, they said, strategically partnered with a Republican group.
But that's OK, right?
JAY SEKULOW: Well, you can't be part of the national Republican Party or the Democratic Party, per se, and that's not allowed.
But it's exactly what was just said. The ACLU is a 501(c)(4). They advance a particular agenda. That agenda is deemed to be beneficial to the social welfare. That includes their educational activities and their litigation activities. My clients were engaged in mostly educational activities. They had civic forums. They had discussions on issues. They were not involved with a particular political party.
That's where the line gets different. The standards are different. It's a facts and circumstance test. But, Judy, at the outset I think it's important to understand the 501(c)(4)s have been around for a long time. The ACLU has been one for decades. And they're entitled -- I believe they're completely entitled to it.
The fact is that what has happened here is, as the IRS has admitted, they engaged in targeted discrimination in picking out the groups with the name “tea party” or “patriot” and then broadening it out to groups that were concerned about the Constitution. The IRS has admitted that, but that doesn't prevent what's happened here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Then, Professor Schmalbeck, what normally should happen or would happen? If a group is applying for this status, what does the IRS -- what are they supposed to do? What kinds of questions would they ask?
RICHARD SCHMALBECK: OK.
So, in this case, there is another type of organization also tax-exempt called political organizations. And they're exempt under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code. And the IRS position on this has long been that if you want to be a (c)(4) social welfare organization, you cannot engage primarily in political activity.
And they define primarily as essentially more than 50 percent of your activity. So I think the concern on the part of the IRS -- and I think this is a legitimate concern, a concern that they have an obligation to act on -- is that organizations that are probably more accurately considered 527 political organizations prefer to be social welfare organizations under 501(c)(4).
And the primary reason for that is that 527 organizations have to disclose publicly the names of their donors. And no such obligation exists for 501(c)(4) organizations. So ...
JUDY WOODRUFF: Jay Sekulow, does that sound like the principal distinction there, is these groups, these tea party groups ...
JAY SEKULOW: Well, that's exactly the law.
But the difference here is that the questions that were asked by the Internal Revenue Service in their subsequent follow-ups, which is where the questions and the problems started, as the IRS acknowledged, were outside the scope of a 501(c)(4) question. They weren't relative to 527 questions, for that matter. These were questions that were inappropriate under any circumstances.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What is an example of a question?
JAY SEKULOW: Well, how about conversations you had with members of your family and what they may have said to members of Congress, or your membership lists?
The -- if you're applying for (c)(4) status, those membership lists are off-limits. And the professor is right. And that's the difference between a 527 and a 501(c)(4). The (c)(4) organizations can engage in activity that is deemed political as long as that's not their primary purpose. That wasn't the question, though, that was asked, Judy.
And that's the problem here. It's the IRS intrusive nature of their questions, which has created their own problem. And the only reason we know about it now, besides the fact that our organization objected to those questions when they were raised, is that the inspector general acknowledged that that was a problem. That report is about to be made public.
And that's the only reason that this is out today is the IRS tried to get ahead of it. They asked the wrong questions to the wrong organizations. So, they weren't looking at the 527 applications. These were 501(c)(4)s. The IRS could have said, well, they didn't qualify. But that was never what they asked. These were intrusive questions, nothing to do with 27s.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Professor Schmalbeck, what is the limit if the IRS would be asking if they're determining legitimate tax-exempt status?
RICHARD SCHMALBECK: Well, I think one of the problems here is that these questions do seem to me, at least in some cases, relevant to the question of whether they are more accurately considered political organizations or social welfare organizations.
So, for example, if you knew that the primary donors ...
JAY SEKULOW: Your membership data?
RICHARD SCHMALBECK: ... to an organization were the Democratic Senatorial Committee, that would incline you to think that it was more of a political organization, rather than a social welfare organization.
So things like names of donors are not irrelevant. I am sympathetic to the tea party in this respect, though. It is true that if you are awarded (c)(4) status, your application must be made public. And application is defined in such a way that it includes all communications with the Internal Revenue Service.
So there is a bit of a catch-22 here. The IRS says basically that you are entitled to privacy as to your donors if you qualify for (c)(4) status, but we're not going to approve your (c)(4) application unless you disclose your donors. And once you disclose them to us, they will be disclosed to the public.
JAY SEKULOW: Right.
RICHARD SCHMALBECK: So, there is a problem. And that's largely a problem of Congress' making. There is a statute, Section 6104 of the Internal Revenue Code, that requires that public disclosure of the application materials.
That could be amended to permit redaction of some of the information that I think they regard as most sensitive.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In less than a minute, Jay Sekulow, so what questions remain to be answered to get to the bottom of this?
JAY SEKULOW: Well, I think we don't -- number one, need to find out who authorized this, because this did not come from -- this idea that these were low-level agencies, where tax law, tax-exempt specialists -- I was -- as you said, I in chief counsel's office of the IRS -- that we were their lawyers. So these were not low-level people. These were well-trained revenue agents specializing in tax-exempt.
We need to decide who determined to coordinate these audits, why they picked names to go after, and find out who is responsible. At the end of the day, the president said today, if this in fact happened -- well, his own staff, his own team has acknowledged this has happened. And, as I said, the White House counsel was notified of this in late April.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, very quickly, Professor Schmalbeck, what would you add? What questions need to be answered to get to the bottom of this?
RICHARD SCHMALBECK: I don't disagree with the list that Jay just offered very much.
I guess the one thing that I would say in conclusion is that when people hear that organizations with the name “tea party” in them have been targeted, it's hard to imagine an explanation for that that isn't rooted in political bias.
But there is an explanation, possibly, that is rooted in a legitimate effort to try to distinguish political organizations from social welfare organizations. And I think if you asked 100 people on the street what the tea party is about, I think most of them would say that it's a political organization. So this is at some level a legitimate inquiry, even though the IRS may have bungled it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, gentlemen, we hear you both. And this story continues.
Professor Schmalbeck, Jay Sekulow, we thank you both.
RICHARD SCHMALBECK: My pleasure.
JAY SEKULOW: Thanks, Judy. Thank you.
HARI SREENIVASAN: President Obama today rejected Republican claims that his administration covered up details about last fall's attack in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, died in the assault on the diplomatic mission there. Much of the focus has been on talking points composed just after the attack.
It turns out that senior officials pushed to delete references to al-Qaida and prior warnings. But, today, the president insisted there was no intent to deceive.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The whole issue of this -- of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow.
Who executes some sort of cover-up or effort to tamp things down for three days? So, the whole thing defies logic. And the fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Republicans are seeking more details from veteran diplomat Thomas Pickering and retired Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, authors of an independent review of the Benghazi incident.
Today, California Congressman Darrell Issa requested they discuss their findings with congressional investigators in private. Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland called for public testimony.
The president also said today the U.S. is working with Britain to keep pressure on Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to force an end to his regime. In turn, British Prime Minister Cameron said there is -- quote -- "no more urgent international task than ending the Syrian civil war."
Meanwhile, in Syria, Assad's troops made new gains in a counteroffensive that began in recent weeks. A Syrian human rights group said government forces took full control of a strategic town near the highway that links Damascus with Jordan. Rebels withdrew from the area after days of fighting.
The suspect in last summer's movie theater shootings in Colorado formally asked today to change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. James Holmes appeared at a court hearing in Centennial. He's accused of killing a dozen people and wounding 70 more last July at a theater in the town of Aurora. The judge now must decide whether to accept the new plea before the next hearing in the case set for May 31st.
Minnesota's state legislature has given final approval for legalizing gay marriage, making it the third state this month to do so. The governor indicated he would sign the bill after it cleared the state Senate. All told, Minnesota joins 11 states and the District of Columbia in allowing same-sex marriage. Rhode Island and Delaware joined the list earlier in May.
Wall Street began the week on a lackluster note. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 26 points to close at 15,091. The Nasdaq rose two points to close at 3,438.
Those are some of the day's major stories -- now back to Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Philadelphia doctor who performed late-term abortions was found guilty on murder charges today. His case and the six-week trial prompted strong reaction on both sides of the abortion debate.
Ray Suarez has more on the verdict.
RAY SUAREZ: After 10 days of deliberations, the jury convicted Dr. Kermit Gosnell on three counts of first-degree murder. Prosecutors said Gosnell delivered fetuses that were alive, and then snipped their spines with scissors at his West Philadelphia office. One fetus was said to be nearly 30 weeks along.
Gosnell, seen here after the verdict, also was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the overdose death of a patient. The jury acquitted him of a fourth count of murder. And the judge threw out three other murder charges after the prosecution rested its case. Gosnell could face the death penalty.
Maryclaire Dale of the Associated Press covered the trial. She joins us now.
Was the jury out for a long time, Maryclaire?
MARYCLAIRE DALE, Associated Press: The jury was out for 10 days, which given the nature of the charges and the number of charges alone, wasn't really that long. Some people thought it was.
But when you think about it, there were five murder charges sent to the jury. And it wasn't like there was one gunman with five -- who killed five people right away. They were five distinct sets of facts in each of the deaths. And then there were more than 200 abortion law violations, as well as racketeering and other charges. So the jury worked long and hard.
But their verdict today shows that they looked at each count specifically. They threw out a few of the abortion law violations and really worked hard and did throw out one of the murder charges, as well as coming back with involuntary manslaughter in the overdose death.
So they clearly looked at the facts of each case separately and did not just come up with a generalized, one way up or down on the verdict.
RAY SUAREZ: After the judge threw out the charges in deaths of other babies, he was finally charged with causing the deaths of people called for the purposes of this trial babies A, C, D and E. Were the circumstances similar in all those cases?
MARYCLAIRE DALE: Not exactly.
All four babies were allegedly snipped with scissors after they were born alive. But the jury came back and said that -- but the evidence in each case was different. Gosnell was only said to have performed two of those deaths. And other staff members have already pleaded guilty and admitted that they killed two of the other babies.
The jury again acquitted Gosnell of one of the counts. It was a baby that a staff member said they heard whine from a room, but didn't -- and then they saw Gosnell go into the room. But nobody testified to being an eyewitness to seeing the doctor allegedly cut that baby. So, again, the jury did acquit on that case, while coming back with verdicts of first-degree guilt in the other three deaths, where again either staffers or -- that were instructed by Gosnell or Gosnell were seen to have cut the babies.
RAY SUAREZ: Women who sought these late-term abortions submitted themselves to Dr. Gosnell for this care. Were they in any legal jeopardy themselves, in violation of Pennsylvania's law? And did they testify against Dr. Gosnell?
MARYCLAIRE DALE: Two did testify, one of whom was then a 15-year-old -- I'm sorry -- a 17-year-old girl. No, they were not in any legal jeopardy.
They were -- I don't know if they were given immunity, but I believe possibly the statute would have run anyway. So there were -- we only heard from two abortion patients. Again, one was the 17-year-old who ended up getting an infection. She was the one who -- her baby was estimated to be perhaps 30 weeks old.
Staffers were so surprised at the size that they took cell phone pictures afterward. And that, once the FBI recovered the pictures, became some of the prime evidence and most disturbing evidence in the case. That woman testified that she ended up with sepsis afterward and was hospitalized for two weeks.
So, that sort of went to the idea that not only did Gosnell perform late-term abortions and kill babies afterward, but that he did not provide very good care of the women themselves.
RAY SUAREZ: Dr. Gosnell didn't take the stand in his own defense, but he has spoken of over time his motivations and his actions at the clinic. How did he explain what he did?
MARYCLAIRE DALE: He sees himself as something of a medical pioneer and also an advocate for inner-city women who lack medical care or can't access it.
He has been providing medical services and abortions in the inner city for 30 or 40 years, until his clinic was shut down in 2010. Again, he sees these women as desperate and believes that they are -- that he is perhaps helping them get on with their lives and that they're in difficult situations.
He says that he thought some -- he has said that he thought some of them were the victims of abuse or neglect and that he therefore kept DNA samples of the fetuses in case there were court cases over the pregnancies. Disturbingly, how he kept that DNA evidence was by severing the feet of some of the fetuses. And so that was quite a disturbing feature of the trial.
But we expect that we well might hear from him as he prepares next week to fight to avoid the death penalty in the case.
RAY SUAREZ: Both supporters and opponents of continued legal abortion in the United States had reactions. Quickly, what are they saying in the hours since the verdict?
MARYCLAIRE DALE: Well, it might be one of the few points on which both sides agree.
They -- most of the groups I have heard from are, of course, endorsing the verdict. People who are believers in legalized abortions say that the case really demonstrates the need for more access to legal, safe abortions, just the kind that Gosnell wasn't providing, while people who are opposed to legal abortions say that the case and the very graphic nature of the evidence show that these babies suffer whether the abortions are done in utero or whether they are killed after the fact, after they're born.
They believe that the case clearly shows that these babies are alive, you know, feel pain, and are most often viable, at least after 25 weeks or so.
RAY SUAREZ: Maryclaire Dale of the Associated Press, thanks for joining us.
MARYCLAIRE DALE: Thank you very much.
JEFFREY BROWN: And now to a legal case watched for its impact on agriculture and new technologies, as the Supreme Court today unanimously found a soybean farmer had violated a patent held by agri-giant Monsanto.
The decision came three months after an Indiana farmer, Vernon Hugh Bowman, had his day before the High Court. He ran afoul of Monsanto's policy barring farmers from saving or reusing its expensive Roundup Ready soybean seeds from one year to the next.
Seen here in promotional videos, the genetically modified plants are designed to survive being sprayed with Monsanto's herbicide Roundup. The seeds are patent-protected and the company requires that farmers buy a new batch with each season. Instead, over eight years, Bowman used grain from an elevator that was sold for animal feed and not as seed. He claimed that wasn't a violation.
VERNON HUGH BOWMAN, Plaintiff: I just looked at it that when they dumped it in there, that they had abandoned their patent.
JEFFREY BROWN: Today, the court rejected that argument with a unanimous decision in favor of Monsanto. The case had been watched for implications in a host of other so-called self-replicating technologies, such as medical research and computer software.
In a statement, Monsanto's lead lawyer said the outcome "provides assurance to all inventors throughout the public and private sectors that they can and should continue to invest in innovation that feeds people, improves lives, creates jobs, and allows America to keep its competitive edge."
In fact, though, the justices appear to limit their decision. Justice Elena Kagan, speaking for the court, said it addresses this case only.
And for more on the case and the decision, we're joined, as always, by Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal. Marcia is in Chicago tonight.
So, 9-0. The court was quite definitive. What was the winning argument?
MARCIA COYLE, National Law Journal: Well, Jeff, the winning argument really was for Monsanto, which said that the reliance on the so-called patent exhaustion doctrine by the farmer in this case just didn't carry the day.
I should tell you a little bit about the patent exhaustion doctrine. It basically says ...
JEFFREY BROWN: Please do.
MARCIA COYLE: OK.
It basically says that after an inventor authorizes the sale of his patented invention or article, the buyer can use it or sell it. But what the buyer can't do is make copies of it.
And there's a very basic reason for that, because if a buyer could make copies and then sell those copies, and somebody else would make copies of the copies, pretty soon, there would be no value to the patent that the inventor holds. And the law allows patent protection now for about 20 years.
So even though Monsanto right now has a monopoly on its soybeans, it won't have it forever. But this farmer infringed the patent by -- he thought he had a way around the agreement with Monsanto. And that was to buy soybeans from a grain elevator and then plant them. He argued that basically he was using the seeds the way they were supposed to be used.
But Justice Kagan, who wrote the majority opinion, said, no, no, the seeds bought from a grain elevator are supposed to be used for consumption, not for planting.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so, before we get to the implications for other technologies, just staying on this case, one reason why this got so much attention is Monsanto's very dominant position in agriculture, very ...
MARCIA COYLE: Absolutely.
JEFFREY BROWN: Particularly with threat seeds, right?
MARCIA COYLE: Absolutely.
In fact, I think it's something like 90 to 95 percent soybean farmers do buy from Monsanto, because the beans are resistant to, again, a Monsanto product that kills weeds. So they're very valuable to the farmer.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, the other reason, of course, why it got so much attention was because of the possible implications for other new cutting-edge technologies, specifically so-called self-replicating technologies.
Explain to us what that means.
MARCIA COYLE: Well, Jeff, there -- right now, there's a lot of research and development going on in a number of industries, biotechnology, medicine.
One of them has to do with self-generating cells, genetically modified cells, also, in what they call regenerative medicine that relies on self-replicating stem cells. And so the industries that are involved in this research and development are, of course, you know, very concerned about the kind of patent protection they're going to get for their inventions.
I think Monsanto spent -- spends in general over a billion dollars a year in research and development. And so these companies want to be able to recoup some of this investment. And that is -- there is this tension in patent law. Patent law protects the invention long enough so that the companies can recoup their investments. On the other hand, it doesn't last forever because we also want to encourage new inventions by others.
JEFFREY BROWN: At the same time, though, Justice Kagan went out of her way to say that this case is limited to this case, right, to this particular transaction. So where does that leave the law for all these other technologies?
MARCIA COYLE: Well, I think the other companies and other technology -- who do other types of technologies do take some comfort in the fact that the court made clear what the patent exhaustion doctrine really does.
On the other hand, it does leave open for another day whether the invention that they invent, if it is self-replicating, how the Supreme Court is going to view patent protection for that particular invention. So, the court is being cautious here and leaving the door open. On the other hand, I think that companies do take some comfort in the ruling.
JEFFREY BROWN: And the farmer involved, Vernon Bowman, what happens with him?
MARCIA COYLE: Well, Mr. Bowman was found that he had infringed Monsanto's patent. And he was -- Monsanto was awarded about $85,000 dollars for the infringement.
So, Mr. Bowman is either stuck with paying that award. We will have to see what happens when the case goes back between him and Monsanto.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Marcia Coyle, as always, thanks so much.
MARCIA COYLE: My pleasure, Jeff.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, online, you can follow our coverage of pending cases on our Supreme Court page. There, you also can watch my conversation with Marcia about her new book on key moments in the Roberts court.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Next to Pakistan, where votes are still being counted after Saturday's election, but one man is already claiming victory.
Margaret Warner reports.
MARGARET WARNER: Election night saw supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, or PML-N, pour into the streets of Lahore in triumph. And, by today, they appeared on course to win a majority in the new Pakistani parliament.
That virtually guarantees that their leader, Nawaz Sharif, will be prime minister. He served twice before during the 1990s.
NAWAZ SHARIF, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz: For the sake of the nation, for your sake, for the sake of Pakistan's 180 million people, and in order to end this wretched unemployment, poverty and inflation, I want to ask my opponents to come and sit with us.
MARGARET WARNER: Chief among those opponents was Imran Khan, a former cricket player turned founder of the reform-minded Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Movement for Justice, party. But its showing fell far short of expectations.
Khan spoke Sunday from a hospital where he's recovering from a serious fall. And he complained of vote-rigging.
IMRAN KHAN, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf: There were irregularities, and we are going to produce a white paper on how the elections were rigged in different ways through the administration.
MARGARET WARNER: This is the first time in Pakistan's history that one civilian government is poised to hand over power peacefully to another. 60 percent of eligible voters turned out, the most in more than four decades.
MOHAMMAD ASIF, Pakistan: I have come with the hope that a new and good Pakistan will emerge from this vote. God willing, Pakistan will be a prosperous country and Pakistan will be a country where people from everywhere in the world will come and invest.
MARGARET WARNER: They voted amid heavy security and in the face of violence by the Pakistani Taliban. In all, 29 people were killed in attacks on Election Day, including a bombing outside a campaign office in Karachi that left 11 dead.
The U.S. has had rocky relations with Pakistan's government when it comes to cracking down on the Taliban and other militants on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. And there are indications that dealing with Sharif might be difficult as well.
Today, Sharif said Pakistan has good relations with the U.S., but he insisted that highly unpopular U.S. drone strikes inside Pakistan must be addressed. Meanwhile, city workers in the capital, Islamabad, were taking down election posters today. Final results are expected by midweek.
MARGARET WARNER: New York Times correspondent Declan Walsh has been covering Pakistan for nearly 10 years and was planning to follow the country's historic elections from start to finish. But late last week, he was told his visa was being revoked because of his -- quote -- "undesirable activities." He was ordered to leave Pakistan by late Saturday night, election night.
And Declan Walsh joins me now from London.
And, Declan, nice to have you back.
Tell us about getting kicked out of Pakistan. What happened? Were you surprised?
DECLAN WALSH, The New York Times: I was very surprised.
This all started last Wednesday night, when I was summoned back to my home by police officers, who had a letter for me that, as you said, cited undesirable activities, ordered the immediate revocation of my visa and told me I had 72 hours to leave the country.
And we made very strenuous representations to the Pakistani government, firstly to try and understand what was the cause for the visa cancellation and secondly to have this order rescinded. And, unfortunately, that didn't happen. And after covering the elections on Saturday, early Sunday morning, I flew out of Pakistan.
MARGARET WARNER: And do you have any idea what they meant by “undesirable activities,” what they were sensitive about, about your coverage or your reporting?
DECLAN WALSH: No.
And this is the question that we asked officials at really every level of the Pakistani government, from the Information Ministry up to the ambassadors, military spokespeople. And we didn't receive an answer.
Presumably, it may have something to do with a story that I have written or that featured in The New York Times. But, really, the Pakistani authorities have not been forthcoming on this question. And that's the frustrating thing about this issue for us.
MARGARET WARNER: Well, now on to the election results. There was such a build-up, certainly in the Western press and I think even there, about this Imran Khan, the cricketer, reform-minded campaigner.
And in the -- but in the end, he got totally trounced by one of the two old-time parties. What happened there?
DECLAN WALSH: Absolutely.
Everyone, certainly, if you like, in the professional punditocracy, was surprised by this result. It caught them unawares. And there had been a very strong sense in the last weeks of campaigning that Mr. Khan was on the up. He had held a number of very high-profile rallies across the country. He had a very energetic campaign. A lot of his supporters were young people, many of them who haven't voted before.
And they came out in the streets. They were active on the media. He had a very high television presence. And, of course, he had this accident just a couple of days before the end of the campaign in which he fell from a stage, hurt himself quite badly, injured his back, and then gave rather dramatic rally appearances by video link from his hospital bed.
So, there was a very strong sense that the momentum was behind Mr. Khan. And this was seen, if you like, as a battle between old-style politics represented by Mr. Sharif and the outgoing Pakistan People's Party and this brash new incomer Mr. Khan.
But at the end of the day, when the vote -- when the results were counted, it seems that most Pakistani voters actually preferred to go with the traditional choice with Mr. Sharif, who has twice been prime minister before. And he took the majority of the votes.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, what sort of changes has Sharif said he's going to bring in, as opposed to the current government, as you said, of the Pakistan People's Party?
DECLAN WALSH: Mr. Sharif has promised to undo the damage, as critics have put it, that the previous government had done.
Over the last five years, the economy has declined quite sharply. One of the most pressing problems in the country are the electricity shortages. In some areas, the power can go out for 12, even 18 hours at a time. So Mr. Sharif campaigned very heavily on those issues. He blamed the previous government for failing to reverse course in terms of the economy.
And he says that he's got a strong record to turn the country around. Of course, the other issue that Pakistan faces almost equally pressingly is the Taliban insurgency. All the way through the elections, the Taliban attacked candidates from secular parties. That is something that Mr. Sharif was less vocal about, and critics say will be an equally pressing challenge for him when he comes to power.
MARGARET WARNER: And so what will this mean for the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, both in terms of cooperating against militants, the Taliban, and other groups, and also in terms of the U.S. plans to withdraw most of its troops, our troops, from Afghanistan next year?
DECLAN WALSH: Well, Mr. Sharif is a conservative politician. He's had dealings with the U.S. in the past.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton negotiated with Mr. Sharif to de-escalate a potential nuclear conflict with India. On the campaign trail, he had some tough rhetoric for the U.S. He said that he would try to redraw the relationship between Pakistan and the United States, where Pakistan would be less dependent on American support.
Then again, that may just have been campaign rhetoric, because it seems that Pakistan may require American support in the coming weeks or the next month to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. And on the terrorism front, Mr. Sharif has been measured in his criticism of the Taliban, but given the sort of attacks we have seen on the democratic system in the last number of weeks, it seems inevitable that he will have to face up to that problem.
Now, whether he will do so in a manner that will satisfy, if you like, American officials remains to be.
MARGARET WARNER: A stormy relationship.
Well, Declan Walsh of The New York Times, thank you so much.
DECLAN WALSH: My pleasure.
JEFFREY BROWN: Next: the verdict in a major human rights case, one we’ve been following in Guatemala.
Last Wednesday, NewsHour science correspondent Miles O'Brien reported on the forensic science being used in the genocide trial of the man who ruled that country some 30 years ago. Late last week, a judge issued a landmark conviction.
Hari is back with that story.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The ruling came Friday evening. Former dictator Efrain Rios Montt was guilty in the massacre of more than 1,700 Mayan Indians in the early 1980s.
He was a general when he seized power in 1982 through a military coup, ruling for just 18 months at the height of Guatemala's long civil war. Rios Montt has insisted he knew nothing of any massacres, laying the blame to his field commanders. And in closing arguments at his trial, his lawyers maintained no group was singled out.
FRANCISCO GARCIA, Attorney for Efrain Rios Montt: We sustain irrefutably that in Guatemala, there was never genocide because people were not persecuted because of their ethnicity.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But witnesses testified the dictator did in fact oversee a campaign of rape, executions and razing of Mayan villages. Rios Montt had been immune from prosecution until he left Guatemala's congress last year. Now, at age 86, he faces a sentence of 80 years in prison. His lawyers have promised to appeal.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Xeni Jardin has been following the story in Guatemala and was the producer on Miles O'Brien's earlier report.
So, Xeni Jardin, give us an idea, how significant was this trial for the people there?
XENI JARDIN, Producer, Boing Boing: This is huge.
This is the first time in modern history that a domestic court has convicted a former head of state on these kinds of charges, genocide, crimes against humanity. But for both sides in this case, for the people who support the military, who support Rios Montt, and for the nation's majority indigenous population, this is huge.
This -- you know, it's fair to state that for many people this reopens old wounds. The country's 36-year civil war is not that long ago. And literally everyone in this country is still touched by that legacy in one way or another, some people very directly.
HARI SREENIVASAN: You were in the courtroom during the verdict. And for those of us not who are following you on Twitter and other social media, what was the scene like?
XENI JARDIN: It was completely surreal, Hari.
The courtroom holds about 400 people. There are seats for 400 people. And I think there were easily 500, possibly 600 people packed into that courtroom. When the verdict was read, you know, Judge Jasmine Barrios began by explaining why Rios Montt was considered by the court to be guilty of genocide, of crimes against humanity.
But then when she actually got to the point of saying that he was guilty, there were claps. There were cheers. And then people kind of calmed down to hear the rest of what the court had to say. And then after -- after she slammed the gavel on the desk, total chaos broke out.
There was, you know, a swarm of cameramen who just encircled the defense table, and specifically Rios Montt, looking for that shot of the century of this man's reaction, this man who -- whose legacy is indelibly imprinted on this country.
And then back in the gallery, behind where I was sitting with members of the press, you know, hundreds and hundreds of people were chanting, "Justice, justice," and, "Yes, it was genocide," which was a rallying cry on Twitter and in the streets in weeks before this verdict arrived.
You could see as you looked around the courtroom, Hari, that people were weeping. There were mothers holding their children and kind of swaying to the rhythm. The Ixil grandmothers who had testified of being gang-raped by 20 soldiers at a time for weeks on end, many of these women, they weren't cheering. They were weeping. It was just such a powerful, powerful moment.
HARI SREENIVASAN: How significant is it that they were even able to reach a verdict?
XENI JARDIN: I think it's extraordinary that the trial came to any conclusion at all.
You know, the U.S. Embassy here in Guatemala issued a statement today urging the society and the Guatemalan government to respect the court's outcome. And I think that everybody -- you know, part of why this matters is because of the question of whether Rios Montt is an individual is guilty.
But part of why this trial matters is that the judicial system here is so fragile. And it's just incredible that any case of this substance could come to a completion in a country where a tiny fraction of murders, just murders of everyday citizens now are ever brought to trial, let alone convicted.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So what happens to these victims now? Is there a compensation? Who pays?
XENI JARDIN: Victims' representatives say that, look, these indigenous campesinos, they were robbed of their land. They were displaced from their land. They are subsistence farmers.
Many, many families in that region lost their breadwinners. Who should be responsible for them? Is that Rios Montt's estate who should pay that out? What about the government of Guatemala?
I almost think that this is the more contentious issue than whether or not Rios Montt as an individual can be found guilty of these crimes. The idea of reparations to victims in this case is something that many people in Guatemala are -- have a very hostile reaction to.
So, you know, I spoke with some of the Ixil observers and cariontes, which is the word for basically criminal witness in the trial. And I remember one of them said, you know, even assuming that the General Rios Montt stays in jail, "He will be fed every night," this woman said. "What about us? We still have to worry about whether we will die of hunger."
HARI SREENIVASAN: Xeni Jardin joining us from Guatemala, thanks so much.
XENI JARDIN: It's my pleasure, Hari.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And an update from Guatemala.
After Hari's interview, the court ordered reparations for victims, including official apologies by the state and a national day of remembrance. But the victims won't get the land they requested or any monetary compensation from the government.
And late today, the Associated Press reported that Rios Montt had been taken to a military hospital after fainting.
JEFFREY BROWN: And finally tonight, bringing contemporary African-American poetry into the public eye.
CHARLES HENRY ROWELL, Callaloo: I think we're going to have to omit Colson Whitehead.
JEFFREY BROWN: Meeting to plan the summer issue of the literacy journal Callaloo and editor Charles Henry Rowell finds he has an embarrassment of riches.
CHARLES HENRY ROWELL: We are going to have so much stuff. And I'm trying to hold back, so that we won't overrun.
JEFFREY BROWN: Rowell, who was raised on a farm his parents owned in Alabama, started the journal in 1975 as a home for Southern black writers who he says were mostly ignored by journals of the day in both the South and North.
CHARLES HENRY ROWELL: The purpose was to identify, nurture, and promote and publish new black writers.
We will just keep going and keep going and keep going.
JEFFREY BROWN: At age 74 and for the last 12 years based at Texas A&M University, Rowell can look back on remarkable success. His journal has helped introduce several generations of now high-profile writers, some of whom we have featured on the NewsHour.
Former poet laureate Rita Dove:
RITA DOVE, Former Poet Laureate: "Singsong."
"When I was young, the moon spoke in riddles and the stars rhymed. I was a new toy waiting for my owner to pick me up."
JEFFREY BROWN: National Book Award Winner Terrance Hayes:
TERRANCE HAYES, National Book Award Winner: "Root."
"My parents would have had me believe there was no such thing as race there in the wild backyard, our knees black with store-bought grass and dirt."
JEFFREY BROWN: And the current laureate, Natasha Trethewey.
NATASHA TRETHEWEY, U.S. Poet Laureate: "Elegy for My Father."
"I think by now the river must be thick with salmon. Late August, I imagine it as it was that morning, drizzled, needling the surface, mist at the banks like a net settling around us."
JEFFREY BROWN: These and 82 other poets are now part of Charles Rowell's latest ambitious project: "Angles of Ascent," a new "Norton Anthology."
CHARLES HENRY ROWELL: I wanted to demonstrate the infinite variety of voices and content and style and ideas in African -- contemporary African-American poetry.
JEFFREY BROWN: The anthology begins with poems from two literacy giants, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, followed by poets including Amiri Baraka and Nikki Giovanni writing at the height of the black power movement.
But the majority of the book focuses on poets writing after the turbulent civil rights era.
CHARLES HENRY ROWELL: What fascinated me about the contemporary writer is that turn from the external world into the interior world, not the obsession with -- quote -- "the struggle," not that that is not a valid subject, but that has been written about over and over. And these writers were not committing themselves to the struggle. They were committing their poetry to itself, to its craft, to its beauty.
JEFFREY BROWN: That's a good thing, right?
CHARLES HENRY ROWELL: Yes. Oh, yes, that's very positive to me, because ...
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. Yes.
CHARLES HENRY ROWELL: And I think it's terribly revolutionary. These poets use being black to write about larger subjects.
JEFFREY BROWN: He says the change has not only broadened the poetry, but the audience as well.
CHARLES HENRY ROWELL: If I'm able to get you to feel what I'm thinking about in a poem, and you start identifying with it and you proceed to quote my poem, that's revolutionary, you know, because earlier, non-African-Americans didn't go around quoting African-American poets.
This is another cover art.
JEFFREY BROWN: In addition to discovering new poets, Rowell is also always on the lookout for new black artists from around the world.
CHARLES HENRY ROWELL: Collecting art is an addiction for me. And I don't know. And I just feel that I have to have things around me that are beautiful.
JEFFREY BROWN: Many of the paintings end up on the covers of the Callaloo journals. And this fall, he will publish a special edition devoted just to art.
In both art and poetry, he says, the idea is to promote the undiscovered or ignored.
CHARLES HENRY ROWELL: I'm prepared to do battle. And that has been my whole life, to do battle with whatever I confront that is anti-me or anti-community, not with loud, screaming voices, mind you, or sounding revolutionary, but doing the work that is necessary to do.
JEFFREY BROWN: Many, many years later, you still -- still on the mission.
CHARLES HENRY ROWELL: I'm still on the battlefield.
JEFFREY BROWN: Doing the battle.
CHARLES HENRY ROWELL: That is my nature now. It's in the DNA, practically.
JEFFREY BROWN: The new anthology is "Angles of Ascent."
Charles Henry Rowell, thanks for talking with us.
CHARLES HENRY ROWELL: Thank you. Thank you for having me. I enjoyed it.
JEFFREY BROWN: Online, you can watch some of the poets included in the new anthology read from their works, including Natasha Trethewey, Elizabeth Alexander, Rita Dove, and Kevin Young. That's on our Art Beat page.
President Obama walks across the South Lawn of the White House Monday night after arriving from New York City where he attended two Democratic fundraisers. Photo by Pete Marovich/Pool/Getty Images.
"My intentions over the next three-and-a-half years are to govern."
That was President Barack Obama telling some of the Democratic Party's top donors how he is reflecting on a second term, barely a few months into the job.
"[Y]ou also start just thinking about history, and you start thinking in longer sweeps of time, and you start saying to yourself that the three-and-a-half years that I've got is not a lot, and so I've got to make sure that I use everything I've got to make as much of a difference as I can," he said.
It was, perhaps, Mr. Obama's way of letting his frustration over issues his administration has frequently dubbed "distractions" be known. Over the last few days, major dustups have surfaced over the handling of the September attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and the Internal Revenue Service putting additional requirements on conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
A few hours before venting at the swanky fundraiser in New York City on Monday, Mr. Obama had addressed the dual challenges of the moment, telling reporters one was a huge deal and the other was a manufactured issue.
Mr. Obama said if the IRS had placed extra scrutiny on tea party groups, "That's outrageous, and they have to be held fully accountable."
That was before reports surfaced that the Justice Department had seized phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors as part of a probe into leaked information. The government "seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012" as it investigated who gave the AP details about a foiled terror plot as outlined in this story.
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters traveling with the president in New York Monday night that questions should be directed to the Justice Department, which isn't answering questions.
"Other than press reports, we have no knowledge of any attempt by the Justice Department to seek phone records of the AP. We are not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations, as those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department," Carney said.
The trio of administration examinations is giving Mr. Obama's critics on Capitol Hill plenty of fodder for investigations that by any measure will pull the White House away from the issues it would like to see championed this spring and summer: immigration reform and another crack at gun control legislation. (Not to mention that whole government spending thing, complicated Tuesday by a new furlough decision coming from the Pentagon.)
On Benghazi, the president told reporters there is "no 'there' there" and dismissed the question of revised talking points as a "sideshow" and contributing to a "political circus" that dishonors hard-working diplomats in the middle of a tough assignment.
"What we have been very clear about throughout was that immediately after this event happened we were not clear who exactly had carried it out, how it had occurred, what the motivations were. It happened at the same time as we had seen attacks on U.S. embassies in Cairo as a consequence of this film. And nobody understood exactly what was taking place during the course of those first few days," Mr. Obama said.
"[T]he fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations," Mr. Obama said. "We've had folks who have challenged Hillary Clinton's integrity, Susan Rice's integrity, Mike Mullen and Tom Pickering's integrity. It's a given that mine gets challenged by these same folks. They've used it for fundraising."
A fresh batch of voter surveys from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling and from the Pew Research Center shows Americans are not very interested in the Benghazi probe. Pew's poll found 44 percent of Americans say they are following the hearings very or fairly closely, virtually unchanged from late January when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified.
The Washington Post's Scott Wilson looked at the president's frustration in a story Tuesday, finding, "Events and the web of questions surrounding them are forcing the president to respond, often defensively and sometimes angrily, at a time when he would rather be setting the terms of the country's political conversation." Wilson writes:
Political power ebbs more quickly for a second-term president, who usually has only until the next midterm elections to work his will in Washington. After setbacks on gun-control legislation and fiscal negotiations, that time is being absorbed by issues at the edges of Obama's ability to control.
Indeed, before a Manhattan crowd that included Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel and Tommy Hilfiger, the president also bemoaned "a sort of hyper-partisanship in Washington that I was, frankly, hoping to overcome in 2008."
He said he is "persistent," adding: "I genuinely believe there are Republicans out there who would like to work with us but they're fearful of their base and they're concerned about what Rush Limbaugh might say about them. And as a consequence we get the kind of gridlock that makes people cynical about government."
The IRS story continues to swell with new reports of potential misconduct.
The Washington Post reports that the conduct may have gone far past the Cincinnatti office tasked with handling tax-status requests.
ProPublica was out Monday night with a blockbuster story: "The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year."
Conservative blogger Mary Katherine Ham rounded up some of the over-the-top questions that IRS officials were asking the groups.
At the press availability Monday, the president said he does not want the IRS "ever being perceived to be biased and anything less than neutral in terms of how they operate."
"I've got no patience with it, I will not tolerate it," Mr. Obama said.
On Monday's NewsHour, we laid out the story in detail, and Judy Woodruff spoke with Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative talk radio host and former IRS attorney who is representing 27 tea party groups hoping to get tax-exempt status. He outlined what he found was "unconstitutional" behavior by the IRS.
We also had a Duke University law professor explaining how the tax code works and what the groups were seeking.
Watch the discussion segment here or below:Watch Video
And you can watch the president's full news conference here or below.
Minnesota Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is prepared to sign the law allowing same-sex marriages in the state, the 12th to do so.
The Washington Post profiles Lois Lerner, who has become the face of the tea party IRS scandal.
Politico's Seung Min Kim previews Tuesday's Senate Judiciary Committee immigration markup, which will focus on a newly proposed guest worker program.
The Washington Post's David Nakamura explores the monitoring of foreign students in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Democratic Sen. Al Franken remains unchallenged in Minnesota after GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen declined to run for Senate or governor.
American Bridge 21st Century's "Bridge Project" is out with a new video called "Karl Rove's Decade of Deception." It focuses on the Republican's political point-scoring on national security issues.
Well this could get awkward. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is heading to Boston next week to headline an exclusive fundraiser for GOP nominee Gabriel Gomez. The Navy SEAL veteran initially reported voting for Mr. Obama in 2008, but now says he cast his vote for McCain in the general election after donating to Mr. Obama during the primary.
Virginia GOP Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe are waging separate campaigns on the homefront and across the country as the national parties seek to use 2013 to redefine themselves ahead of the 2014 cycle.
Apparently frustrated at what she sees as the leadership's inability to get things done, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said of Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, "If he were a woman, they'd be calling him the weakest speaker in history."
New Jersey's Bergen Record reports that even though Sen. Bob Menendez "promised a year ago while running for reelection that he would donate $18,800 to two charities after a Franklin Lakes insurance broker pleaded guilty to using 'straw donors' to make illegal payments to the senator's campaign," he still hasn't gotten rid of the tainted cash.
Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio's Reclaim America PAC is out with a new ad defending Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., against attacks from Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Former Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Rick Santorum pens an essay on the occassion of his daughter Bella's fifth birthday. She has a genetic abnormality called trisomy 18.
In his weekly "Texas Straight Talk" column, former GOP Rep. Ron Paul argued that the Benghazi talking points are not a story, but illustrate why the United States should not have an "interventionist" foreign policy.
As part of her campaign's effort to soften her image, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn reached out to the New York Times to share her experience with alcoholism and bulimia.
Former Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota will not run for the Senate seat left open by Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson's retirement.
Sequestration could make it more difficult for federal agencies to fight forest fires.
The Sunlight Foundation reports almost 600 political donors gave more than the $117,000 limit for federal campaigns in the last election cycle.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin holds a slim lead in a Republican poll of potential GOP challengers to Democratic Sen. Mark Begich in 2014.
North Miami mayoral candidate Anna Pierre says she is endorsed by Jesus Christ.
Kate Hinds and Andrea Bernstein of WNYC present a thorough investigation on how planning mistakes led to more than $120 million of damage to New Jersey Transit trains during Superstorm Sandy.
Adorable, or revolting? You decide.
Nation, you can breathe easier now. Jack Bauer is coming back next summer.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., reminds us why female members of the press and female lawmakers wake up so early to practice softball.
Jeff Brown talks with Marcia Coyle about the Supreme Court's unanimous decision siding with agri-giant Monsanto.
Cindy Huang set out to tell the human stories behind immigration policy. She delivers this multimedia project filled with rich storytelling and gripping images.
Add IRS to FEC, SEC, FCC and HHS: list of agencies of this Administration trying to silence its critics fb.me/1zZbi4f4Y— JohnCornyn (@JohnCornyn) May 14, 2013
So how did people think DOJ was going to investigate classified info leaks? Reporters aren't immune from standard investigative techniques.— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) May 13, 2013
... I once had an IRS official refer in a 2012 interview to Cincy office as "our photocopy folks in exempt organizations." (2/4)...— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) May 13, 2013
Barring some unforeseen thing, Weiner is running, for those (including myself) who still had questions about that notion.— maggie haberman (@maggiepolitico) May 13, 2013
I still can't get over PPP deciding to conduct a survey about hipsters while only calling people w/landline telephones.— Nate Cohn (@electionate) May 13, 2013
Well, at least the AP got a scoop out of all this. bit.ly/13fn5x4— Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) May 13, 2013
Terence Burlij and desk assistant Simone Pathe contributed to this report.
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Headhunter Nick Corcodilos explains how to approach your employer when negotiating a raise. Image by Ojo Images.
In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards, or salary negotiations. No guarantees -- just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.
Question: I have been a debt collector for over 14 years and have worked at the same law firm for five years. I was promoted to team leader with no increase in pay. The year after that I was promoted to supervisor with a 4.5 percent pay increase.
Fast forward to last Friday, when my manager accidentally sent out an email that showed everyone's pay. I am one of the lowest paid employees even though I have more experience in the industry than 90 percent of my co-workers.
My general manager said this is always the case in business, that new people hired with less experience get paid more. I'm always in the top 5 percent of money collected, and I spend five to six hours each week coaching, training, motivating, molding four to five people who all have minimal experience -- but they make more money than I do. I have my annual review in 30 days. I want to know how to handle the conversation without sounding angry or rude.
Nick Corcodilos: That's an interesting bit of double talk from your general manager, who has already told you what the problem is. The firm pays more to get new hires, and less to seasoned employees who train new employees. In other words, they're taking advantage of you. There's nothing illegal about it. This is how employers can lose their best workers.
I know you want something magical to tell your boss so that he or she will raise your salary to reflect your contributions. And I'll offer some advice about how to do that. But first you need to establish leverage. My first advice is to decide whether it's time to leave your employer. (See "The Wall Says It's Time to Go.") Then immediately start looking for another job, even if you can solve your problem at your current firm.
If your boss rejects your request, you must be ready to live with lower pay, or you must be ready to move on. Having another job to go to will make you a more powerful negotiator and it will give you control over your future, which is the real objective here.MORE FROM NICK CORCODILOS: Should Employers Pay to Interview You?
I would prepare two things for your meeting. First, a very brief outline of your accomplishments during the past year. You've already outlined these, so it should be easy. Second, outline three things you plan to accomplish in the next year. These must be easily measurable so there's no question whether you have achieved them. This demonstrates clearly what you have done, and what you commit to doing to justify your salary request. (For some added perspective, see "How to Decide how Much you Want.")
Finally, show your boss the email you received that shows the salary disparity. Now, keep in mind -- it's your boss's right to pay you anything he or she sees fit. But it's your prerogative to decline unfair pay. Now you see why you need leverage.
Another job offer will give you that. My guess is, if you can show your boss why you're worth more, you can do the same with another employer that needs the top-quality services you offer. Find another employer first, or you'll have no control over negotiations with your boss.
If your boss declines to pay you fairly, don't argue. Don't get angry. Be respectful. But be ready to resign. Just don't do it during that meeting. Take time to collect yourself and your thoughts. Plan your exit so it's on your terms and on your schedule.
The best way to negotiate for what you want is to prove what you've done, commit to what you will do next, and have somewhere else to go immediately if you can't negotiate a deal that makes you happy. This is not just about getting more pay. It's about taking control of your career and your future. I wish you the best.
Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth "how to" PDF books are available on his website: "How to Work With Headhunters...and how to make headhunters work for you," "How Can I Change Careers?" and "Keep Your Salary Under Wraps."
Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!
Copyright © 2013 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark. This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown -- NewsHour's blog of news and insight. Follow Paul on Twitter.Follow @PaulSolman
Author Vali Nasr describes China's interest in the Middle East.
As the United States eases back from involvement in the Middle East, China's influence and economic dependence there grows, author Vali Nasr recently told PBS NewsHour senior correspondent Margaret Warner in a web exclusive interview.
"For China, the Middle East is a rising strategic interest," he said. In fact, he continued to say that the Chinese don't refer to it as the Middle East but as "West Asia."
The U.S. has announced it wants to "pivot to Asia" and focus attention on China and away from the Middle East, Nasr said, but "the problem is just as we are pivoting East, the Chinese are pivoting West."
The Chinese are looking to the region -- from Pakistan to Iran to Saudi Arabia and Turkey -- to help supply their vast need for energy and products, said Nasr, author of "The Dispensable Nation," which critiques the Obama administration's foreign policy. And China considers stability in the Middle East important to its own stability, he said.
The growing relationship might develop further. While the Middle East watches the American role recede, it will look to China for economic, diplomatic and possibly even military purposes, said Nasr. So as the United States leaves the region, it must be cognizant of what it's leaving behind and why China is so interested, he said.
Nasr was a special adviser to Richard Holbrooke, who was envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2009 to 2010. Prior to that, Nasr was an adviser on Hillary Clinton's foreign policy team while she was running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. He is currently dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.
Watch for Margaret Warner's interview with Vali Nasr on the NewsHour broadcast, and view more of our foreign policy coverage.
Rubber Duckie you're cute and yellow and chubby. Way chubby. What happened? Let us know by writing a caption to the photo above, and we'll send a NewsHour mug to the author of our favorite one.
How it works: Every other Tuesday, we post a photo. You compose a caption, submit it in the comments section below or on NewsHour Art Beat's Facebook page by 5 p.m. ET Friday.
We'll announce the best caption on Art Beat the following Tuesday and send the winner an official NewsHour mug. The tiebreaker for similar or identical entries will be earliest time of submission.
Jeffrey Brown talks with longtime literary editor Charles Henry Rowell about his passion for promoting undiscovered and under-appreciated African-American poets and artists. His latest effort is a new anthology called "Angles of Ascent."Watch Video
Transcript: New Anthology Celebrates 'Ascent' of African-American Poets Watch some of the poets included in "Angles of Ascent" read their work here.
This stream gauge on the Boise River is one of several hundred in Idaho. The U.S. Geological Survey is shutting down up to 150 gauges to meet spending-cut requirements known as the sequester. Photo by Aaron Kunz/Earthfix
BOISE, Idaho -- The government's automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, are taking down up to 150 of the nation's stream gauges -- devices that provide life-saving flood warnings and help scientists track drought conditions. The first round of nationwide closures started this month.
These streamside outbuildings shelter data-gathering equipment so it can be fed to satellites. They track temperature, stream flows and pollution levels.
Stream gauges aren't getting the same sequester-cut attention as airport control towers or Headstart classrooms. But for scientists, it stings to see them swept away by spending reductions.
"To lose a gauge would be like losing a member of the family, almost," said John Clemens of the U.S. Geological Survey.
The USGS managed to avoid shutting down stream gauges in Washington state, where Clemens works. His neighboring states of Idaho and Oregon weren't so lucky. Each had to shut down three gauges due to the sequester's $85 billion in across-the-board cuts.
Scientists use stream gauges to determine how much water will be available for the hundreds of hydroelectric dams. The data helps drive decisions about when farmers should draw water from rivers to water their crops. The recreation industry uses stream-gauge information to decide when to fish and when to go rafting.
Many of the stream gauges in the West are more than 100 years old; they're known by the USGS as sentinel gauges. Even if the stream gauges being shut down are brought back online, the sequester cuts will results in gaps in data that had been continuously collected for decades.
One of the gauges that has been shut down in Idaho is on Lapwai Creek. It's one of the important streams for thousands of federally protected salmon in north Idaho. That gauge is located about 3/4 of a mile from where the Nez Perce Tribe just recently introduced 500,000 hatchery-raised salmon. Data from the stream gauge there helped the tribe determine when stream levels were sufficient to accommodate these juvenile fish.
Aaron Penney is a fishery manager with the Nez Perce Tribe. He says the tribe's fishery and its water resource managers used the information from the stream gauge on a regular basis. It collected data that helped determine if enough water was in the stream to provide for fish's needs, as required by a federal court settlement that his tribe fought for.
Lapwai Creek is home to two species of salmon, including the reintroduced coho salmon that had been listed as extinct by the federal government. The tribe has worked hard to get these salmon back. The stream is also diverted by the Lewiston Orchards Irrigation District which uses the water for crops.
Keeping enough cool water flowing in the stream keeps fish alive. If the water gets too warm, it kills the fish.
"We are a salmon people" Penney said. "Since our people have been here, salmon have been a provider."
Michael Lewis is head of the USGS in Idaho. He spent the last few weeks trying to determine which water gauges would have the least impact on the state if they had to be shut down. Lewis says that was a nearly impossible task, since the gauges work together as a system.
"These stream gauges are part of a design network," Lewis said. "So there was a stated purpose behind selecting them. So there was an importance already going into just starting these gauges up and running them."
This story first appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting's website on May 3, 2013, as a collaboration with EarthFix. EarthFix is a public media project of Oregon Public Broadcasting, Boise State Public Radio, Idaho Public Television, KCTS 9 Seattle, KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio, Northwest Public Radio and Television, Southern Oregon Public Television and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Several thousand gathered in Oakland, Calif., to watch cat videos. Photo by Cat Wise/PBS NewsHour.
My mother used to tell me the world was divided into two groups: those who love Neil Diamond, and those who don't. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest the world is actually divided between those love Lil Bub, Henri Le Chat Noir, Maru and Grumpy Cat, and those who have no clue what I'm talking about. For those of you who fall into the latter group, they are cats. Very popular cats who have millions of followers on the Internet. One of Grumpy Cat's YouTube videos has nearly 10 million views.
Last weekend I immersed myself in the world of these cat lovers at the Internet Cat Video Festival in Oakland, Calif. Around 6,000 people gathered on a late spring afternoon to celebrate all things feline and to watch nearly 70 minutes of hilarious cat web videos projected on a 10-story building after the sun went down.
Young and old donned cat costumes and enjoyed food and live music on blocked-off streets in downtown Oakland. The event, which was sponsored by the Great Wall of Oakland, also included vendors selling cat paraphernalia as well as local agencies putting cats up for adoption. Proceeds from the event -- expected to be around $50,000 -- will benefit the East Bay SPCA.View Slide Show
An appearance by Dusty the Klepto Kitty was one of the highlights of the evening. People lined up to have their photo taken with the dozing cat, who was dressed up in a prison outfit. Dusty became famous -- more than 2 million YouTube views -- for stealing things like toys and clothes from the homes of neighbors. He's even been on "Late Show With David Letterman." Dusty's owner Jean Chu says Dusty has taken nearly 1,000 different items during the seven years she's owned him. "If you want to make yourself happy, find a cat video," Chu said, adding that her favorite Internet kitty star is little Attila.
Heather Nelson, the proud owner of a 4-year-old cat named "Snickle Fritz," was also in attendance. The Berkeley grad student postponed her honeymoon by a week so she could attend the festival. "People have teased me my whole life for being a cat lover," Nelson said. "I feel like I can really be me here. I can let my cat freak flag fly and finally feel accepted."
The festival is the brain-child of Scott Stulen, who is project director at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Last summer, Stulen and his colleagues posted a request for people to nominate their favorite cat web videos. They received 10,000 submissions from all over the world, and 79 were selected to be shown at a festival at the museum. Stulen says he expected a few dozen people to attend the screening. More than 10,000 cat fans showed up, and Stulen realized he was onto something.
"Yes, it is cat videos. But there are other things going on," said Stulen. "What is the role of a museum today? You can shoot a video on a phone, put it up on the Internet, and millions can see it. You don't have to have a curator even touch it. How institutions are responding to things happening in popular culture is interesting."
Stulen admits he's often asked if what he has organized is "art."
"I jokingly say who cares?" Stulen sad. "But the more serious answer is, some of it is. On one end, you have the Henri video. It is very thoughtfully done. The guy who made it is a filmmaker, and he gets it from an artist perspective. On the other end of it is a 12-second [cellphone] video from six years ago with 30 million hits. There are a lot of things happening within this. It is reflective of what people are looking at, and what they are sharing. I think for a museum it is interesting to be a part of that dialogue."
Stulen and his colleagues have received requests to screen the Internet Cat Video Festival from 200 cities around the country and abroad. So far, in addition to Oakland, they've taken it to Boston, San Diego, Memphis, Tenn., and Austin, Texas. In August, the Walker Art Center will host a second festival at the Minneapolis Fair Grounds with all new cat videos.
"I thought this would fade away," Stulen said, "but just the opposite. It keeps growing. It is fun and playful. We're doing this with a sincere interest and joy about the content. We're not doing it ironically; we're not an institution looking at this and saying 'ha ha.' We're saying, 'It's ok to like this.' And people have responded to that beyond my highest expectations."
As the sun set Saturday night, the festival kicked-off with two cats playing patty-cake. The crowd roared with laughter. As an Internet cat videos noob, I found myself laughing and awww-ing with everyone else. My favorite video: Stalking Cat.
Astronaut Chris Hadfield performs David Bowie's "Space Oddity" in microgravity.
Commander Chris Hadfield is a great many things: a photographer, an educator, a social media maven -- did I forget to mention astronaut? And it's with great delight that we add troubadour to the laundry list.
That his music video -- a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" -- has already scored 6.9 million hits is a testament to his success as a great popularizer of science and space. Complete with slow blinks, a floating guitar and some liberties taken with the lyrics, it is also the first music video ever made in zero gravity -- that's no small feat.
Lesser known, but just as fun to watch, is this song Hadfield performed with hundreds of students at Canada's Ontario Science Centre. It's called "Is Somebody Singing," a play on the International Space Station letters, and co-written by Hadfield and the Barenaked Ladies' front man Ed Robertson.
From the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield performs a song with students at the Ontario Science Center.
Early Tuesday, Hadfield emerged from a few days of rare Twitter silence to inform his 915,000 Twitter followers that he is now "back on Earth, happily readapting to the heavy pull of gravity," and we thought we'd use this opportunity to highlight some of his extracurricular activities in space.
He sent thousands of tweets, often multiple times a day. Many of them showcased various parts of the world from space -- "the southwest corner of Africa," "a mining town in northern China" or "Belfast, at the mouth of the River Lagan." And many many shots of his homeland: Canada.
Some of them read like poetry, like this:
Clouds swoop in on Crimea, a white bird on the Black Sea. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/...— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) May 13, 2013
Mississippi delta - heartland topsoil flowing relentlessly into the Gulf of Mexico. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/...— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) May 7, 2013
He gave nearly hourly updates during this week's spacewalk to fix an ammonia leak. He posted photos of the station's "refrigerator art." And there was the time he "secretly" told his 900,000 Twitter followers that he'd ordered flowers for his mom. She wouldn't know, he said. She's not on Twitter.
Two days ago, he posted a final picture on Twitter, a "spaceflight finale," he called it. The caption was fitting for his final hours moments on the ISS.
Spaceflight finale: To some this may look like a sunset. But it's a new dawn. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/...— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) May 13, 2013
On Monday, at 10:30 p.m. EDT, Hadfield and flight engineers Tom Marshburn and Roman Romanenko landed safely in Kazakhstan after spending five months -- 146 days -- in space. You can watch the landing here:
As Hadfield has said, "time sure flies at 8 km a second."
A fascinating and scary post by New York Times science writer Andy Revkin about the stroke he suffered in 2011, how he anticipated it and what he's done since.
Speaking of celebrities and managing your health care, Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy and told the world about it.
Turns out pot isn't so green after all. A study in the journal Energy Policy, says the carbon footprint required to produce 2.2 pounds of marijuana equals driving across the country five times. Researchers singled out the indoor grown varieties for their energy intensive lamps, fans and other appliances used to stimulate growth, the Seattle Times reports.
NOT SAFE FOR LUNCH
The United Nations urges people to eat insects to fight world hunger, BBC News reports.
David Pelcyger and Ellen Rolfes contributed to this report.
At the Internet Cat Video Festival in Oakland, Calif., around 6,000 people gathered on a late spring afternoon to celebrate all things feline and to watch nearly 70 minutes of hilarious cat web videos projected on a 10-story building after the sun went down.
Internet Cat Video Festival
Organizers of the Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival said more than 6,000 people showed up to watch 70 minutes of cat videos projected onto the side of a building in downtown known as “The Great Wall of Oakland.” Photo: Cat Wise
Dusty the Klepto Kitty
Dusty the Klepto Kitty, an Internet sensation, gets his photo taken with several fans at the Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival. Dusty is known for stealing items such as clothing, toys and garbage from neighbors’ yards at night and bringing them back to his owners’ house. Photo: Cat Wise
Jean Chu, owner of Dusty the Klepto Kitty holds up one of the many items Dusty has snatched from neighbors’ yards over the last seven years. Photo: Cat Wise
Cat fan Heather Nelson dressed up for the Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival. Photo: Cat Wise
Scott Stulen is project director at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Stulen came up with the idea for an Internet cat video festival, which drew 10,000 cat fans to the Walker Art Center’s outdoor plaza last summer. Photo: Cat Wise
Superhero cats and other feline artwork were for sale at the Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival. Photo: Josh Norem
Two festival-goers hold cutouts of their favorite internet cat video stars in a photo booth at the Internet Cat Video Festival in Oakland. Photo: Josh Norem
Fans in cat costumes pose for photos at the Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival. The festival-goer wearing the “no” T-shirt was dressed up as “Grumpy Cat,” a kitty who has been viewed millions of times on YouTube. Photo: Cat Wise
Take Me Home
A kitty up for adoption by the East Bay SPCA hangs out during the Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival. Photo: Josh Norem
One of the youngest feline fans at the Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival. Photo: Josh Norem
Drag Queen Cat Lover
Drag queen and cat lover Little Miss Hot Mess performs at the Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival. Photo: Cat Wise
Vendors sold all kinds of cat paraphernalia, like these catnip treats, at the Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival. Photo: Cat Wise
'Cat Video Chat' Founders
Rachel and Denis Sirringhaus are developing a website called “Cat Video Chat,” which connects cat owners and their cats around the world via webcams. The husband and wife team signed up several hundred people at the Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival, which “exceeded our wildest expectation,” Denis Sirringhaus said. Photo: Cat Wise
Puking Kitty Saucy Boat
Local artists demonstrate how to use their $75 Puking Kitty Saucy Boat at the Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival. The couple recently raised nearly $15,000 dollars in a KickStarter campaign to fund the mass production of their ceramic cats. Photo: Cat Wise
Sixteenth century Aztec drawing of smallpox victims. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
One of the most celebrated medical anniversaries concerns a country doctor named Edward Jenner (1749-1823) who lived in the tiny village of Berkeley in Gloucestershire, Great Britain. Like every general practitioner of his day, Dr. Jenner attended to too many patients struck down by smallpox. For millennia, it was humankind's deadliest foe -- that is, until Jenner figured out a means of preventing it entirely.
As with any great medical discovery, Jenner was hardly alone in his quest for a safe smallpox vaccine. For centuries, healers around the globe introduced their patients to a technique called inoculation (from the Latin inoculare, to graft; its other name was variolation, from the Latin for variola, the formal name of smallpox virus). The procedure entails lancing open a wound and implanting dried scabs or fresh pus containing variola under the skin of a healthy, uninfected person.
Dr. Edward Jenner. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Said to have originated in China, smallpox inoculation was commonly practiced across the Orient and Ottoman Empire. It typically caused a milder form of smallpox but conferred lifelong immunity. Still, inoculation had the power to make many people incredibly ill and a few died as a result of it. Fueling the debate were fears that those inoculated would infect and harm others.
What especially made Dr. Jenner the right man at the right moment was his passion for natural history. His acclaimed studies, ranging from the habitats of cuckoo birds to the dormouse, as well as a deep appreciation of the intersecting lives (and ills) of humans and animals, led him to contemplate how infectious diseases traveled among and between species.
As the story goes, some time in the 1770s, Dr. Jenner was making his appointed rounds when he came across a loquacious milkmaid. Jenner reported an outbreak of smallpox along the countryside and the milkmaid boastingly replied: "I shall never have smallpox for I have had cowpox. I shall never have an ugly pockmarked face."
Jenner thought long and hard about that woman's observation during every case of smallpox -- and cowpox -- he saw thereafter. He hypothesized that the pus in the milkmaid's cowpox blisters were the result of an infection that was similar to smallpox. This infection, he believed, may have originated in horses before spreading to cows and humans but appeared far less virulent and dangerous to human beings when compared with smallpox. Over the years, Jenner observed that people who encountered cowpox became immune to future encounters with the smallpox virus. But how to scientifically prove such a claim without causing any harm?
On May 14, 1796, Dr. Jenner finally found his chance. That morning, a milkmaid named Sarah Nelmes consulted him about a rash of blisters that suddenly appeared on her arms. Jenner was certain he was examining a case of cowpox and drained some of the pus collecting in Sarah's blisters. Legend has it that Sarah contracted cowpox from a proper Gloucester dairy cow named Blossom, whose leathery hide hangs in the library of the St. George's Medical School of London (Jenner's alma mater) to this very day.
Edward Jenner vaccinating James Phipps, a boy of eight, on May 14, 1796. Lithograph by French artist Gaston Mélingue from the late 19th century.
Armed with the miraculous elixir, Jenner wanted to try it out on an 8-year-old Berkeley boy named James Phipps. An Institutional Review Board would never approve such a potentially perilous experiment today. Yet in the late 1700s, smallpox represented a clear and present danger. So when Dr. Jenner promised the boy's parents that the risks were minimal compared to the powerful gift of immunity to the dreaded smallpox, they readily agreed.
Taking no chances, Jenner made inoculation scars on each of Jimmy Phipps' arms and, the next day, nursed the boy through a course of mild fever and some generalized discomfort. Six weeks later, Jenner exposed Phipps to the real smallpox virus and ... nothing happened! As Jenner later declared, "the cowpox protects the human constitution from the infection of smallpox." The Latin word for cow is vacca, hence the Latin name for cowpox virus, vaccinia, and, more famously, the word "vaccine".
Jenner combined his collection of patients who had contracted cowpox and developed immunity to smallpox as well as those he vaccinated with cowpox to form the body of his 1798 treatise, "An Inquiry into the Cause and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae, a Disease Discovered in Some of the Western Counties of England, Particularly Gloucestershire, and Known by the Name of the Cow-Pox." And because Jenner's vaccine has prevented hundred of millions of deaths over the past 217 years, his Inquiry may well be the most important book in the history of medicine.
Within months of publication, Jenner's cowpox vaccine became the major means of preventing smallpox, especially across Europe and in the United States. In 1801, President Thomas Jefferson declared vaccination one of the nation's first public health priorities. Two years later, he instructed Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to bring vaccine on their expedition to the Pacific and encourage those they met "in the use of it." In 1806, Jefferson predicted to Jenner that smallpox would be someday eliminated from human experience. Jefferson was right, of course, but that noble goal was not accomplished until 1979.
In recent years, several armchair historians have questioned the primacy of Edward Jenner's discovery. To be sure, the inoculation of variola, or smallpox, virus predates Jenner by centuries and was famously recommended on both sides of the Atlantic by such luminaries as Cotton Mather, during the Boston smallpox epidemic of 1721, and Lady Mary Wortley Montague who imported the technique from Istanbul to London that same year. During the late 18th century, several people considered cowpox as a means of preventing smallpox, including John Fewster, a London physician, in 1765, and Benjamin Justy, a remarkably observant farmer from Dorset, in 1774. Nevertheless, it was Edward Jenner who published the most authoritative medical investigation first and it is Jenner who we most consistently celebrate as the smallpox vaccine's parent.
Alas, such contretemps over "who was first" is a common one in the history of science and medicine. When attempting to accommodate the long list of others who contributed to Jenner's historical victory, one is reminded of that great line from John Ford's 1962 film, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance": "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
Dr. Howard Markel writes a monthly column for the PBS NewsHour website, highlighting the anniversary of a momentous event that continues to shape modern medicine. He is the director of the Center for the History of Medicine and the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan.
He is the author or editor of 10 books, including "Quarantine! East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892," "When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America Since 1900 and the Fears They Have Unleashed" and "An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine."
Do you have a question for Dr. Markel about how a particular aspect of modern medicine came to be? Send them to us at email@example.com.
Angelina Jolie announced that she has undergone a double mastectomy after she learned she was strongly predisposed to developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images
The news went viral right away.
Movie star Angelina Jolie announced Tuesday she has undergone a double preventative mastectomy. Jolie's mother died from breast cancer at age 56. She inherited the same gene, called BRCA1, which her mom had. Her doctors said that gave her a very good chance of developing breast and possibly ovarian cancer as well.
In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, titled "My Medical Choice", Jolie described the procedures she underwent in graphic detail saying that at one point it "does feel like a scene out of a science fiction film."
The op-ed is striking in its honesty and bravery coming from a woman whose body has been celebrated all over the world, a woman who once was shown on the cover of a magazine joyfully breast feeding one of her newborn twins.
Jolie said she does not "feel any less of a woman" since having her breasts removed and urged women everywhere to be vigilant about assessing their risk for the disease.
According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer cases result from inherited mutations, including those in the breast cancer susceptibility genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. These mutations are present in far less than 1 percent of the general population. Women with BRCA1 mutations, like Jolie's, are estimated to have a 44 to 78 percent risk for developing breast cancer by age 70, though Jolie's doctors estimated that she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.
The 37-year old actress is not the first celebrity to go public with having had a double mastectomy. Actress Christina Applegate, Sharon Osbourne and a recent contestant in the Miss America Pageant have all spoken about their experiences.
But in this case, as one of the most famous women in the world, Jolie brings a new dimension to public understanding of breast cancer -- and its prevention -- which still kills more than 450,000 women around the world each year.
We wondered what experts in the breast cancer field were thinking about all of this today.
We talked with one of them, the President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Dr. Sandra Swain.
Betty Ann Bowser: Dr. Swain what did you think when you heard the news early this morning that a star of the magnitude of Angelina Jolie had undergone a preventative double mastectomy?
Dr. Sandra Swain, ASCO President: I was really surprised because obviously I had no idea, like everyone else in the country. But I have to say the way she has handled it I think is a great model for everyone because she's really done it so carefully, done it thoughtfully and she's speaking out which will really help a lot of other women.
Betty Ann Bowser: Explain what it is about the gene that she has inherited and why it's so devastating.
Dr. Sandra Swain: She inherited the BRCA gene, which is abnormal. We all have those genes, but this one was abnormal or what we call "mutated," making it likely for her to get both a breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The reason it's so difficult is because there's really no treatment for it, so to get the best outcome, what needed to be done was she had to have her breasts removed.
Betty Ann Bowser: If a celebrity makes the decision to go public like this and has handled it the way she has, what good does that do in terms of public awareness? I don't think most people know about the BRCA gene unless a doctor has told them they inherited it.
Dr. Sandra Swain: I think what's most important is that women be very thoughtful about it. If you have a mother who's 70 and has breast cancer, that doesn't mean you have a likelihood of having a BRCA gene. If a woman's relative is younger when they get breast cancer, that's usually in a mother or sister, a first degree relative, then the woman herself would have a higher likelihood of having this breast cancer gene that's abnormal. So I think the key message is that we all need to be vigilant, but it's not everyone that has a relative that has breast cancer that's going to give you this gene.
Betty Ann Bowser: And that's important for people to understand?
Dr. Sandra Swain: It's very important. She did it very thoughtfully. She knew about the history of her mother and from what she said she talked to physicians. She had genetic counseling, which I think is extremely important for that to be done. And I personally don't order these gene tests myself, I refer all women that I think have a likelihood of having it ... to a genetic counselor. I'm at the Washington Cancer Institute at Medstar Washington Hospital Center and we have a genetic counselor that works with us. There's one at Georgetown. So always refer to this person and let that person take a very good (look at) family history and decide whether the gene testing should be done.
Betty Ann Bowser: In related news today, CNN anchor Zoraida Sambolin announced that she has also decided to have a double mastectomy. Unlike Jolie, she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. We do not know if she has the BRCA gene, but when is opting for a double mastectomy a good decision if, say, it doesn't have anything to do with genetic predisposition?
Dr. Sandra Swain: If the woman doesn't have the breast cancer gene, the BRCA gene, then the decision to have both breasts removed is really a personal one and we don't usually recommend that because there's really no reason to do it based on the cancer that you have. There is some increased likelihood of having breast cancer in that second breast, but it usually can be picked up with imaging with mammography or MRI. So we usually don't recommend that the second breast be removed without a genetic predisposition.
Betty Ann Bowser: I'm sure that almost any woman that faces this decision is also asking the question, "What are the chances that I will look like myself again with reconstructive surgery?" What are the options most people have with that?
Dr. Sandra Swain: I heard that Angelina Jolie chose the implants, and now the implants are usually silicone, which feel much more like normal tissue. Some women choose saline implants. So those are available. There's also actually your own tissue, using the fat around the stomach area or some muscles in the back, those kinds of reconstructions. So there're lots of options for reconstruction and they really look very, very good.
Betty Ann Bowser: Where do we stand today in terms of breast cancer as opposed to where we stood with it as a cancer, say 50 years ago?
Dr. Sandra Swain: We've seen definite decrease in mortality from breast cancer, that's very clear over the past few years. We've made great advances as far as that's concerned and we think a lot of that's due to screening, picking up early cancers, and also the fact that our treatments are very good. Our hormonal treatments and chemotherapy treatments are very good. So we've made great advances. We have the huge advance in targeted therapy with herceptin or trastuzumab (two breast cancer therapies), which has really changed the whole outcome for patients who have this HER2 gene (HER2-positive breast cancers tend to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer) in their tumors.
Betty Ann Bowser: Is there anything else you think the public should know?
Dr. Sandra Swain: Well I think over the past 25 or 30 years, so much has changed over breast cancer and I think having someone like Angelina Jolie speak out on something so personal -- so potentially devastating and freighting and scary -- is incredibly important because so many people can relate to the emotions and things she's gone through. I just think it's wonderful that she did it and the way she did it, and, again, the thoughtfulness of it. She talked to the genetic counselor and took her time to make the decision. This was really important for everyone to see.
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