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Analysis, background reports and updates from the PBS NewsHour putting today's news in context.

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    JEFFREY BROWN: The nation's capital was alive with talk of scandal today, starting with the revelations about the Internal Revenue Service. Questions grew over reports of overzealous enforcement aimed at groups on the political right.

    The day began with new disclosures about what the IRS had done and who knew about it. The Washington Post reported the targeting of conservative groups was not limited to the agency's Cincinnati office, as the IRS initially said. Instead, The Post said agency officials in Washington and at least two other offices were also involved.

    That prompted new calls by Republicans for more information. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell demanded full transparency.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky.: So this morning, I'm calling on the president to make available completely and without restriction everyone, everyone who can answer the questions we have as to what's been going on at the IRS, who knew about it and how high it went, no stonewalling, no more incomplete answers.

    JEFFREY BROWN: President Obama on Monday said singling out conservative groups for tax scrutiny would be -- quote -- "outrageous."

    And at the White House today, Press Secretary Jay Carney said again the president is determined to get to the bottom of the scandal.

    JAY CARNEY, White House Press Secretary: If what we're seeing in some of these reports about specific targeting and actions taken by personnel within the IRS turns out to be true, then people should be held accountable. And what that means in concrete action, we will have to see, based on the information and the facts that are gathered, principally, at least at first, by the inspector general.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The acting commissioner of the IRS was heard from, too, for the first time. In a USA Today op-ed column, Steven Miller acknowledged agency workers reported to -- quote -- "shortcuts" because they had so many applications for tax-exempt status. Miller conceded the actions demonstrated -- quote -- "a lack of sensitivity to the implications of some of the decisions that were made."

    Yesterday, the IRS said Miller had learned last year that groups with “tea party,” “patriot,” or “9/12 Project” in their names were targeted, but he did not notify Congress, despite inquiries by some lawmakers.

    This afternoon, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said that failure raises serious questions.

    SEN. ORRIN HATCH, R-Utah: He purposefully misled me, because I wrote a letter. I had other senators on the letter. I got a letter back from him basically saying that's no problem, when he knew. According to the information I have right now, he knew that that wasn't true.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Another Republican, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, said if the reports about Miller are true, he should resign or be fired.

    But the chamber's Democratic majority leader, Harry Reid, said such talk is premature.

    SEN. HARRY REID, D-Nev.: The person who was working on this at the time it happened was a Republican appointee during the Bush years. The man acting now is temporary. He's acting. And there's work being done now to get a permanent person there. So to act -- to have some temporary guy resign -- his name is Miller -- as far as I know, he's done a good job.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Lawmakers will have the opportunity to question Miller on Friday, when he testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee.

    Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder said he's ordered the FBI to see if any laws were broken.

    ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER, United States: Those were, I think, as everyone can agree, if not criminal, they were certainly outrageous and unacceptable, but we are examining the facts to see if there were criminal violations.

    JEFFREY BROWN: A full report on the matter by a Treasury Department inspector general is expected to shed further light on the matter.

    And that report has, in fact, just been released a short time ago.

    Joining us now with the latest, Juliet Eilperin, White House reporter for The Washington Post, and Eliza Newlin Carney. She covers campaign finance issues for CQ Roll Call.

    Well, Juliet, I guess you have been doing some fast reading over there. What can you tell us about the I.G. report? What does it say?

    JULIET EILPERIN, The Washington Post: So the most significant new information coming from the I.G. report is essentially saying that because of this screening criteria that they applied to conservative groups, there was virtually no work done in terms of approving these groups for 13 months.

    And over a period of 18 months, they had criteria that, again, singled out groups with names such as “tea party,” “patriot,” and “9/12.” So that's the most interesting new information. It also points out that some groups faced considerable delays, including in some cases more than three years, spanning two election cycles.

    So it gives you a sense of what was the real-world impact of this effort by the IRS to categorize all of these conservative groups in one place.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Does it tell us anymore about who is making these decisions, what the -- name names or anything within the IRS?


    In fact, of course, it does raise some questions. There's a great deal that's redacted, including the fact that there is event at the very beginning of the timeline in February 2010 which is completely blacked out. So it still does raise some real questions about who knew what when and really what was the instigation for this program in the first place.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Eliza, what about the announcement of the FBI starting a criminal investigation? What do we know about what they're looking at?

    ELIZA NEWLIN CARNEY, CQ Roll Call: Well, it is, in fact, a violation of law for the IRS to engage in discrimination in the enforcement of the tax code.

    So there could have been criminal violations here. And I think, to some degree, this reflects the Obama administration trying to get a little bit ahead of this controversy.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And what do you see? You have had a chance to look at some of the I.G. report. What does it tell you about the workings of the IRS here?

    ELIZA NEWLIN CARNEY: Well, the IRS has long been subject to complaints from groups on both sides of the aisle that its enforcement of this area of tax law, namely, political activity by tax-exempt groups, is vague and inconsistent.

    And everything we see in this report and in the reports about this so far suggest that the IRS to some degree really didn't know what it was looking for, what it was trying to accomplish. The officials were said first to look for one set of criteria, then to look for another set of criteria. The criteria kept changing from year to year.

    So it creates an impression of an agency that, frankly, didn't know what it was doing.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And when, as we saw, the acting director today said -- wrote today that the agency took short cuts because of so many applications coming. The context there is the changes in the campaign finance laws?


    And we should say that in the IRS' defense, they had literally thousands of applications for tax exemption. These had more than doubled since the Citizens United ruling in 2010, which deregulated political spending, and which to some degree invited these groups to play a bigger political role.

    So, at the same time, the IRS had cuts in its budget, cuts in its staff. So they clearly were overwhelmed. But it doesn't take away from the fact that they have long been criticized for having subjective and vague criteria for how to regulate these groups.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Juliet Eilperin, one thing we do know from your story this morning is that this did go beyond the original reports, beyond the office in Cincinnati. Right? So where's the focus that you see for all of these questions right now?

    JULIET EILPERIN: Well, I think still ultimately these are questions that people like Steven Miller will have to answer, the acting commissioner.

    It's obvious that while, again, Cincinnati played the central role because that was the division charged with considering these applications for tax-exempt organizations, you had other field offices as well as headquarters involved in it, and really they're going to have to answer some key questions about to what extent did people beyond Lois Lerner make decisions about what was the approach that IRS rank-and-file employees were taking when they were targeting these groups.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And what do you see -- Juliet, staying with you, what do you see as the White House response so far? Can you tell? We can see what they're saying publicly. Can you tell what's going on behind the scenes?

    JULIET EILPERIN: Well, it's a little unclear, though, I think. And as the clip that you played from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid indicated, I wouldn't be surprised if they're working very quickly to get a new nominee for commissioner of the IRS in place, so that, for example, they can at least address that one aspect now that Steven Miller is coming under fire.

    It wouldn't surprise me if they were trying to come up with a new replacement who wouldn't be associated with these activities. So -- but, publicly, they have been very tentative. They said they wouldn't comment in detail until the I.G. report was released. Now that it is, we haven't got our comment yet, but we're hoping that they will be a little more forthcoming.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, Eliza, last word, what do you see behind the scenes?

    ELIZA NEWLIN CARNEY: I think this is just going to escalate. This problem of how the IRS regulates political groups isn't going go away. There aren't easy answers. It is somewhat difficult to draw bright lines around political activity.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You mean the larger picture?

    ELIZA NEWLIN CARNEY: The larger picture. And this is going to continue. And I think it is going to continue to be a political problem for the administration.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    Eliza Newlin Carney, Juliet Eilperin, thank you both very much.


    JULIET EILPERIN: Thank you. 

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    KWAME HOLMAN: A Philadelphia abortion doctor will serve life in prison without parole for murdering three babies. Dr. Kermit Gosnell was convicted Monday of killing the babies moments after they were born alive at his grimy clinic. Today, the 72-year-old Gosnell forfeited his right to appeal in a bid to avoid the death penalty.

    The death toll in the civil war in Syria may be far higher than reported so far. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in London, estimated today that at least 94,000 people have died in the two-year conflict. That exceeds the U.N.'s numbers by more than 20,000. The human rights group drew its information from sources across Syria. It said the death figure could be as high as 120,000.

    In Bangladesh, a prayer service today honored the 1,127 people who perished in last month's garment factory collapse in Dhaka. Thousands of mourners returned to the site of the disaster to pay tribute to the victims and to those survivors who remain hospitalized. The search for bodies ended yesterday. In a related development, Walmart joined other retailers today in pledging in-depth safety inspections at the Bangladesh factories it uses.

    The U.S. Defense Department now plans to furlough more than 600,000 civilian employees for 11 days through September. Secretary Chuck Hagel announced it today at a town hall with Pentagon workers. Thousands of workers at shipyards will be exempt, and there won't be as many furlough days as originally feared. But Hagel said he could not avoid furloughs entirely under mandatory budget cuts from sequestration.

    DEFENSE SECRETARY CHUCK HAGEL, United States: I can't run this institution into the ditch. This will go until the end of the fiscal year. We have taken it as close to the line as we can, and still capable of protecting this country and this country's interests around the world.

    KWAME HOLMAN: The furloughs are set to begin in early July.

    Three U.S. troops were killed in Southern Afghanistan today. NATO said they died when a roadside bomb struck their convoy in the Zhari district of Kandahar province. A day earlier, a truck bomb killed three Georgian soldiers in the NATO force. So far this year, 58 foreign troops have died in Afghanistan, including 44 Americans.

    Authors of a sweeping U.S. immigration bill defeated new efforts today to make major changes to the measure. The Senate Judiciary Committee spent a second day voting on some of the hundreds of proposed amendments. Supporters turned back a Republican proposal for eye scans and fingerprints to track those entering and leaving the country.

    The Oscar-winning actor and director Angelina Jolie has announced she had preventive -- a preventive double mastectomy. She says she underwent the surgery after learning she was strongly predisposed to getting breast cancer. Jolie told her story in an opinion piece in The New York Times. She said she hopes it will help other women in similar situations. A genetic test found Jolie had an 87 percent chance of getting breast cancer. Her mother died of the ovarian cancer at age 56.

    We have more online about the gene that increased Jolie's risk of developing the disease. That's on our Health page.

    There may be no benefit to sharply restricting salt intake. And it may actually do harm. The Institute of Medicine reports today that Americans do eat far too much salt, and says some reduction is good. But researchers found no evidence that drastically cutting back helps overall heart health. The panel called for more and better research to find the best level.

    The National Transportation Safety Board called today for states to cut the threshold for drunken driving by nearly half. The board recommended lowering the maximum allowed blood alcohol level from .08 to.05. It said that standard has substantially reduced highway deaths around the world. The new recommendation translates to about one drink for a woman weighing less than 120 pounds and two for a man weighing around 160 pounds.

    On Wall Street, stocks rose to fresh highs, partly on news that small business owners are a bit more optimistic about their prospects. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 123 points to close at 15,215. The Nasdaq rose more than 23 points to close at 3,462.

    Those are some of the day's major stories -- now back to Judy.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn to the other story the Obama administration is being criticized for, the collection of journalists' phone records in the name of tracking down classified leaks.

    The Associated Press says it was notified Friday that the Justice Department secretly subpoenaed records for more than 20 of its phone lines. The AP's Kathleen Carroll says they listed outgoing calls from April and May of 2012.

    KATHLEEN CARROLL, Associated Press: They haven't told us what they're looking for, and nor have they explained why we got no prior notice, which our lawyers tell us is not only customary, but required.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: AP's president and CEO, Gary Pruitt, sent a letter of protest to Attorney General Eric Holder. In it, he wrote: "There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications.”

    He said it amounts to -- quote -- "a serious interference with AP's constitutional right to gather and report the news."

    Pruitt demanded that DOJ return the records and destroy any copies. But this afternoon, Attorney General Holder said he had recused himself at the start of the probe. Instead, he said Deputy Attorney General James Cole authorized the subpoena for the AP records.

    ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER, United States: I don't know all that went into the formulation of the subpoena. This was a very serious -- a very serious leak, and a very, very serious leak. I have been a prosecutor since 1976, and I have to say that this is among -- if not the most serious, it's within the top two or three most serious leaks that I have ever seen.

    It put the American people at risk. And that is not hyperbole. It put the American people at risk. And trying to determine who is responsible for that I think required very aggressive action.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Holder suggested the focus is on government officials who did the leaking more than on reporters.

    ERIC HOLDER: We have investigated cases on the basis of the facts, not as a result of a policy to get the press or to do anything of that nature. The facts and the law have dictated our actions in that regard.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And in a written response to the AP's Pruitt, Cole cited a May 2012 investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of classified information. He also wrote that call records subpoenaed covered only a portion of that two-month period, and include personnel involved in the reporting of classified information.

    On May 7th of last year, the AP reported that a CIA operation in Yemen had foiled an al-Qaida plot to bomb an airliner bound for the U.S. That same day, AP reporter Adam Goldman spoke to the NewsHour's Kwame Holman about the decision to publish.

    KWAME HOLMAN: You had been in discussions with the U.S. government about holding the story and decided to go with it today. The government didn't want this story reported.

    ADAM GOLDMAN, Associated Press: Last week, my colleague Matt Apuzzo and I learned about this plot as it was unfolding. And we agreed for national security reasons that we wouldn't publish. Once those concerns had passed, we decided today that the public had a right to know that the U.S. had thwarted what we consider to be a very serious plot against aviation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Justice Department has not confirmed that story is the focus of the investigation. And at the White House today, Press Secretary Jay Carney wouldn't give specifics.

    JAY CARNEY, White House Press Secretary: I can't comment on the specifics of that, but I can tell you that the president feels strongly that we need a -- the press to be able to be unfettered in its pursuit of investigative journalism.

    He is also mindful of the need for secret and classified information to remain secret and classified in order to protect our national security interests. So there are -- there is a careful balance here that the must be attained.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Politicians from both parties warned, the Justice Department may have gone too far. Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairing the Judiciary Committee, said he is very troubled. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called for Attorney General Holder to resign. 

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: More on all this now from an attorney representing the Associated Press. He is David Schulz. He specializes in First Amendment issues and is a partner at Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz.

    We invited the Department of Justice to appear on the program, but officials declined.

    David Schulz, welcome to the NewsHour.

    First of all, why does the Associated Press consider this a violation of their constitutional rights?

    DAVID SCHULZ, Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz: Well, Judy, this is a really serious issue, because without sources, there isn't the news. Reporters need sources to figure out what's going on in the government.

    And this was really a very large-scale intrusion into AP's news-gathering activities. The subpoena sought, as you mentioned, 20 phone lines in a number of bureaus around the country where 100 or more reporters -- 100 or more different reporters work. So it was extremely broad.

    And the impact on that is really devastating, because it gives the government kind of an ability to see what the AP was doing, how it goes about its business, who it was talking to not on any particular story, but on every story that was being covered during that period of time. And it's just overreaching in a fundamental way that has an adverse impact on the press.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We heard the attorney general, though, say -- he said, this was a leak of classified information. He said it was one of the most serious he's ever seen in the damage it did to U.S. national security.

    Why doesn't that justify a full-fledged investigation?

    DAVID SCHULZ: Well, there always are issues and balances, I think, as the White House said today, between national security and the free press.

    But this sort of action should be taken in very, very rare circumstances. And I don't think that the Department of Justice has demonstrated that what it did was appropriate here. Certainly, there's a lot of unanswered questions; 20 journalists involved in the story? We also know that the leak that we think that they were investigating was a story that was held by the AP. It was handled responsibly.

    When they understood the government had concerns about the timing of the story, it wasn't broadcast or released by the AP. So there was a responsible effort by the press here. Now, whether the government has a right to go after classified information, it does.

    But, bear in mind, if the government can get from the press any time it wants to information about who its sources are, pretty soon the only thing we are ever going to know about the government is what the government wants to tell us. This just really is not how things work. And it's a tremendous adverse effect on a free press.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I hear you, and -- but I also heard the attorney general say that this -- what happened. He said this leak put the American people at risk, and he repeated that.


    And if that's the case, there are things that can be done. We have had a sad experience with this. It grew out of the Watergate era. And there are regulations in place that were put in to rein in the excesses of the Justice Department in going after reporters in the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate era.

    And there are a number of those things in those regs. One is that the attorney general is supposed to personally sign off on a subpoena before it's issued. But, more importantly, before a subpoena goes out for this sort of information, they're supposed to be able to verify that the information is critical to a successful investigation and that it's not available from any alternative source, and then they have an obligation to be sure that it's narrowly drawn.

    And we would like an explanation from the Justice Department of what they did to assure themselves that they couldn't get what they needed from other sources and how they can justify this terribly broad subpoena as narrowly drawn.

    And there's one other safeguard that I just want to mention, because I think it's important. The way the regulations are written, when the Justice Department wants this information, this type of information, they're supposed to come to the press first and tell them what they want and negotiate so that they can narrow it and get what they need.

    They're only authorized to do this in a secret way, as was done here, where they can demonstrate that disclosing in advance would undermine the integrity of the investigation. And it's really hard to understand on these facts how telephone logs from over a year ago that were sought in connection with an ongoing investigation that had been publicly disclosed -- we knew there was a special prosecutor looking at this -- how advising the AP in advance would have jeopardized that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well ...

    DAVID SCHULZ: And that's important, because if they had advised us in advance, a court would have been allowed an opportunity to review that. That didn't happen.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, all we have to go -- all we have to go on at this point of course are the words of the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, because the attorney general recused himself.

    But we know in that letter from Mr. Cole, the deputy attorney general, he said this was only done -- and I'm quoting him -- "after all other reasonable alternative investigative steps had been taken." He said there had been 550 interviews, tens of thousands of documents they had looked at before they turned to the phone records.

    DAVID SCHULZ: And, again, that's not all in the letter. I'm not sure where you're getting some of those numbers.

    But one of the key points here is, Judy, is if they had followed the procedures and notified the AP ahead of time, AP would have had the opportunity to ask a judge to review the situation and determine whether it really satisfied the criteria. And that's an important safeguard that was just short-circuited here. It was a unilateral action.

    And it has a huge impact. The reason I think that there's been such a reaction in the press is, it really cripples the ability of the press to do its job. What source is going to talk with a news organization that's viewed as being some sort of investigative tool of the Department of Justice? And if their records can freely be obtained in this manner, then there's really a problem. This is a big step.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I was just going to say, that description I was using, I was quoting the attorney general as saying there had been an exhaustive search. And then I guess there were some other anonymous quotes from others.

    But I guess my final question, David Schulz, is where does the Associated Press, where should others in the media draw the line? Because if the administration is saying classified information shouldn't have been leaked, it put people's lives at risk, and the journalists are saying, but we need to be able to do our jobs, where is the -- where should that line be drawn?

    DAVID SCHULZ: It's a difficult question. And I won't deny that there are circumstances where that line -- where the government may need to cross that line, but it should be very, very rare.

    I mean, bear in mind in the 35 years I have been practicing law, I only know of one other instance where the Department of Justice went after a reporter's records without giving them advanced notice. And that was just a single reporter for his home records and his office records. This is 20 different phone lines and not of individual reporters, but of bureaus.

    It's just massively overbroad. And I think that's part of the problem here. It's not to say the government doesn't have some legitimate rights here, but it just overreached dramatically and it short-circuited the procedural safeguards that should exist so that we know that the sensitivities, the First Amendment rights, the need of the public to have information about the government is being protected.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: David Schulz, attorney representing the Associated Press, we thank you.

    DAVID SCHULZ: Thank you. 

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    JEFFREY BROWN: Next, Fred de Sam Lazaro reports from India on a group that's put together perhaps the world's largest campaign to improve remedial education.

    His story is part of our Agents for Change series.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Madhav Chavan is trying to revolutionize the way India's children learn and the way they are taught, starting as early as possible. As these preschoolers identify the first letter in Hindi for the word mango, he egged them on.

    MADHAV CHAVAN, Founder, Pratham: So what kind of face do you make when the mango is sour?

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Unfortunately, Chavan says, as they get older, most of these children will be bound for schools that are failing their students on many levels, beginning with rigid, outdated methods of instruction.

    MADHAV CHAVAN: This regimentation, rote learning, learning by heart, tell me the answer, that is what kids -- kids are being taught.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Chavan founded a group 19 years ago called “Pratham,” or “First,” aimed at generating a love of learning. It has trained about 120,000 young tutors and community volunteers to run learning centers and camps.

    So far, three million children have been tutored in rented rooms, houses of worship and in schools themselves in low-income communities across India.

    Pratham's goal is to change the way school has long been perceived here: a solemn temple of learning.

    MADHAV CHAVAN: The kids think to be in school is to stand like that. And the whole informality, non-formality of the learning process is completely lost.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It takes the fun out of learning, basically?


    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: With profound consequences. Aside from an elite system that serves about 10 percent of India's 140 million schoolchildren, Chavan says education, largely the domain of central and state governments, is in deep crisis.

    MADHAV CHAVAN: After spending five years in a primary school, barely about 50 percent of kids can learn to the level of second grade. We have an old system of going from first grade to post-graduation for a certain number of kids, and others sort of fall by the wayside.

    See, the complaint of the employers at the very entry-level positions is that the product of the schooling system is not even trainable -- forget about employable.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It's easy to see the problem unfold in the poorly equipped and crowded classrooms. A student-teacher ratio of 80-1 is not uncommon.

    Rukmini Banerji is the author of Pratham's Annual Status of Education Report.

    RUKMINI BANERJI, Pratham: You're a fifth grade teacher, and this is a typical classroom in India. You have kids there that are not even at first grade level. You're a committed teacher. Who are you going to teach and with what?

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: You have 80 kids.

    RUKMINI BANERJI: You have 80 kids. So you end up teaching the kids who are easiest to teach.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Under Banerji, a University of Chicago Ph.D., Pratham has developed programs to boost student achievement. It works with hundreds of schools like this one in the small town of Jehanabad in the populous eastern Bihar state.

    Instead of clustering students by age and grade, they are tested, then grouped by skill level in math and reading, those able to read at a one-word level, for instance, a sentence, or a paragraph. Several months into the program, Principal Rizwana Parveen says there is marked improvement.

    RIZWANA PARVEEN, School Principal: Children who could only read a letter are now almost reading paragraphs. And children who were reading paragraphs are now reading whole stories.

    WOMAN: Now, what we're going to do here is, we're going to read these sentences carefully.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The next step is to get children to think and write about what they're reading, as a Pratham tutor did with children in the small Bihar village of Supan Chak. Typically, students are required to memorize the text, whether or not they understand it.

    WOMAN: Read it and understand it. After you have finished reading it, write what you think, OK?

    RUKMINI BANERJI: You're reading a story, so that you can then chat about it. Now, this chatting about it often doesn't happen in our schools. We have very traditional notions about writing. Writing has to be correct, not writing has to be from your heart. So we often encourage kids to say -- say what you feel.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Pratham begins its work in communities like this by testing children's reading and math. Those with the lowest scores then attend an intense seven-day learning camp. This one was held just outside the village school.

    There's no shortage of enthusiasm among children we visited, who said they much preferred learning here than from their regular school. A peek inside may explain.

    This is the village's one-room schoolhouse. And it doesn't look like it sees very much academic activity. It's more like a storage shack. There's cow dung cakes, which are fuel for cooking. There's some pots and pans. There's some iron rebar. And even if it were mostly used as a school, there's just 400 square feet of space and 109 enrolled children.

    STUDENT: I like the way Didi teaches us. I like school also.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: These shy 10- and 11-year-olds dared not criticize their schoolteachers, who are, after all, addressed as master. But it wasn't hard to pry out a preference for the Pratham tutor called “Didi,” or "big sister."

    STUDENT: I like Didi better.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: You don't like the masters as much? Why?

    STUDENT: It's easier to learn. They tell stories, and we have questions and answers after that.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Perhaps the most telling answer came when I asked how often their teachers showed up to school.

    STUDENT: One of them comes daily, the other two, not so much.

    STUDENT: They are here about once in a week.

    RUKMINI BANERJI: Now, accountability is a big word, and you know, many things need to happen. I think we're at a pre-accountability stage.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Banerji says the hope is that the marked improvement children show after just a week at learning camp will spur communities to begin taking responsibility for their schools, long considered the domain of a distant government bureaucracy.

    RUKMINI BANERJI: We are big into blaming. You know, we often start from blaming the British, then the prime minister, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah. Somebody else is always at fault. So how do you get away from this fault business and let's do something?

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Pratham's founder, Chavan, feels momentum is building across Indian society to do something about education.

    MADHAV CHAVAN: We are in East Delhi standing in sort of a slum community.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He says it's especially true in places like these, closer to India's prosperous, mostly urban new economy. Here, he says, parents willingly pay nominal tuition for Pratham's services.

    But most of the group's $16.5 million dollar budget comes from individual, corporate, and foundation donors in India and overseas. For its part, India's government passed a right to education law in 2009, and has managed to enroll 96 percent of all children. That doesn't address the quality of education, Chavan says, but does show a willingness to entertain new ideas and different ways to run school systems.

    MADHAV CHAVAN: By 2018, '19, 50 percent of India's children will be paying for their own education in private schools.

    But on the other hand, the governments are also playing with different models, public-private partnerships, like charter schools, if you will. So India could come up with its own system of education as we go forward.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And what do they want to be when they grow up? We took that as an undecided.

    STUDENT: A math scholar.

    STUDENT: A doctor.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It's not clear how their ambitions could ever be realized. But for perhaps the first time, these children, whose parents never went to school, can dream of something other than subsistence farming. That's been the lot of such children for generations.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Fred's reporting is a partnership with the Under-Told Stories Project at Saint Mary's University in Minnesota. 

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn to Moscow, where a U.S. Embassy officer was detained and accused of spying in a story that sounds right out of the Cold War.

    Margaret Warner reports.

    MARGARET WARNER: The announcement came in Moscow from Russia's federal security service, the FSB.

    Releasing these photographs and video, it said U.S. diplomat Ryan Fogle in a blond wig and hat had been detained in Moscow overnight. Officially, he's a diplomat at the U.S. Embassy, but the Russians said he works for the CIA and was caught trying to recruit a Russian intelligence agent to work for the U.S.

    Later today, the Russians handed him over to the embassy and ordered him expelled from the country. In Washington, the State Department's Patrick Ventrell confirmed a U.S. diplomat had been detained, but declined to elaborate. The incident came as the U.S. is seeking Russian cooperation in two key areas, the investigation of the Boston bombing suspects and efforts to end the Syrian civil war.

    Secretary of State John Kerry was in Moscow last week announcing a joint effort to bring about Syrian peace talks. 

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    MARGARET WARNER: For more on this, I'm joined by Washington Post Moscow correspondent Will Englund.

    And, Will, welcome.

    This does sound like something out of a spy movie. How did this all unfold?

    WILL ENGLUND, The Washington Post: Well, the FSB certainly came prepared.

    They detained Ryan Fogle last night in a residential street in southwest Moscow. They brought cameramen. They brought video. They had a -- they made a pretty extensive record of their detention of him and then of him back in the FSB office. And then some American diplomats were called in to be there with them.

    They say they caught him as he was trying to recruit a Russian agent and he had with him the tools of spycraft, and they were very keen to display these tools on a table in the FSB quarters in photos and videos that were released to the Russian press very quickly.

    Kind of an amazing bunch of stuff. We had two wigs, kind of fright wigs, almost, three sets of eyeglasses, a compass, a street atlas of Moscow, what appears to be a canister of pepper spray, a knife and then the letter which you mentioned that he was apparently, supposedly, allegedly prepared to deliver to this Russian agent he was trying to recruit, the letter addressed to "Dear Friend," and promising that if he cooperated, over the years, he could expect to make as much as a million dollars a year from the U.S. government for the information he would provide.

    And then it goes on to instruct him on how to set up a Gmail account at an Internet cafe and without revealing personal details of himself.

    MARGARET WARNER: Who was he accused of trying to recruit?

    WILL ENGLUND: Well, one report has it that he was looking to recruit a officer in one of the Russian special services, a counterintelligence service based, interestingly, in the North Caucasus, not in Moscow, although the meeting took place in Moscow.

    And, obviously, the North Caucasus is of great interest to American intelligence these days. This is the region in Russia where Tamerlan Tsarnaev of the Boston Marathon bombings lived for six months last year with his -- eventually his father and his mother.

    MARGARET WARNER: Why would the Russians release him so quickly?

    WILL ENGLUND: Well, he is a diplomat. He was here as third secretary in the political section.

    He's not a spy. We don't know if he's a spy at all, actually. But he's not someone running a private business and working as a spy. That kind of work outside of diplomatic protection can get you in a lot of trouble if you're caught. Typically, with diplomats, they are caught, they're exposed, they're expelled.

    These kinds of things do happen with some frequency.

    MARGARET WARNER: It's 30 years since the end of the Cold War, yet every few years, we have these spying exposes. What kind of information is the U.S. looking for now?

    WILL ENGLUND: Well, both countries are clearly still looking for classified military intelligence pertaining to the other country. You know, they're still two big military powers and they want that kind of information.

    Russians for many, many years, going back at least to the 1930s, have also been involved in industrial espionage in the United States. And as we were talking, American intelligence agencies now are under a great deal of pressure to come up with more information about radical extremist groups, particularly Muslim groups, some of which have roots and connections here in Russia.

    MARGARET WARNER: And, finally, what are the Russians saying about whether this will affect cooperation on issues that the U.S. hopes to work with the Russians on?

    WILL ENGLUND: There's a feeling that it won't have a tremendous effect.

    The -- Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the lower House of Parliament, tweeted tonight that the bad effect of this would be fleeting, but, of course, this doesn't do anything to improve relations. Typically, in cases like this, someone wants to send a message, and they're not really trying to derail relations altogether.

    I think that's what this was about. Maybe someone didn't like the idea of the U.S. agencies, the FBI and the FSB, the Russian FSB cooperating that closely on the Boston investigation. Maybe it was some other thing that bothered somebody higher up the chain and they wanted to send a message to Washington.

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, Will Englund of The Washington Post, thank you.

    WILL ENGLUND: Thank you. It's a pleasure. 

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    JEFFREY BROWN: Now: how technology has made the world a smaller place, and, arguably, opened up new opportunities for the little guy in politics, business and entertainment.

    Political editor Christina Bellantoni has our book conversation.

    CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: Forty-eight hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. This photo of the president and first lady was shared by more than 800,000 people on Twitter.

    Technology has allowed us to spread vast amounts of information at lightning speed. But how has that changed the way we interact with our friends, family, society, and government?

    That's the subject of a new book, "The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath" by Nicco Mele. He teaches about the Internet and politics at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and joins me now.

    Thanks for being here.

    NICCO MELE, "The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath": It's my pleasure, Christina.


    So, you write that we're in the midst of an epic change, a global transformation that gives us the opportunity to reimagine society, put the power back in the hands of the people. How so?

    NICCO MELE: Well, there's been this tremendous transformation over the last 35 years.

    Our technology keeps getting smaller and faster and even more connected. You know, in 1969, a Cray supercomputer would have filled an auditorium and would cost five million bucks. It was really inaccessible to most Americans. And, today, two-thirds of Americans carry around smartphones in their pockets that are almost -- they're actually slightly more powerful than those Cray supercomputers. That's a tremendous transformation.

    CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: And what does that mean for society? How is it changing the way we interact?

    NICCO MELE: It's really about a transfer of power from our big institutions, the big hierarchical systems that have organized our world, our society, all parts of it, from big companies to big governments to big media to big news.

    And these institutions were organized around a hierarchical flow of power. And with everyone walking around with this power in their pockets, that power is now distributed out to individuals all over the world.

    CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: And you can apply it to politics, culture.

    NICCO MELE: Well, to really almost every institution we're looking at is facing some kind of transformation.

    It's no longer a passive audience in news or in entertainment. It's -- the audience has a lot of power when they're carrying around these smartphones, constantly connected, able to capture video and photos and share things, and distribute information with zero cost globally.


    And the core premise of this book is that we're experiencing what you have dubbed radical connectivity. So what exactly is radical connectivity?

    NICCO MELE: One of the hallmarks of the end of big is we don't really have good language to describe what's going on.

    The Internet doesn't quite capture what's happening, because it's also mobile. We're carrying around with us. But mobile phones still is like a little too much about phones. And so I coined the term radical connectivity to try and describe how anyone with a mobile smartphone is connected at enormous speed with complete mobility at practically zero cost.

    CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: And the heart of government is in our local communities, you write in the book. And I would love to have you explain where you see people having the power in their cities and towns, how technology makes that possible.

    NICCO MELE: So, I will tell you a story about that.

    In my town -- I have two little boys. And I live at the playground, right? Got to keep those boys exhausted. And one of the playgrounds that I frequent has a very big, long slide. And in -- a couple years ago in Hurricane Irene, the slide got damaged. And the local town said it was going to be $25,000, $30,000 dollars to replace the slide, and that wasn't in the budget for a couple of years.

    And so I don't know who. Some local parent made a PayPal page, photocopied fliers, stuck them to the trees all over the playground, and said, you know, if every parent who visits here gives $100 bucks to the PayPal account, we will raise the money to replace the slide overnight.

    And, sure enough, it happened in just a few weeks. And when I started to look at that, I could see how this radical power, this incredible connectivity that individuals are carrying around, it's reshaping the balance of power in our communities, in both good ways and bad ways. You know, there's some very exciting things happening.

    CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: Basically, you prevent this as mostly a positive thing, an opportunity. But isn't there a flip side, too, an area where there could be some danger in this new society?

    NICCO MELE: Well, sure.

    The founding fathers spent a lot of time thinking about the balance of power and how to build a system of government that you could balance between the monarch and the mob, that you wanted deliberation. You wanted responsible leadership and responsible public policy.

    And our institutions are really designed around that and carry a lot of checks and balances and considerations. I mean, the money we raised for slide, was that really the most pressing need and the best way to spend that money for the town? Question mark.

    It all happened outside the existing structures of the local government, and so there wasn't any way to negotiate that. And so while it's very exciting that a group of parents can quickly raise the money to replace the slide, it also happened outside the process of government that was designed to really make this all work.

    And part of that is because the number of challenges on the front of our traditional institutions, the different ways that government is not doing as good as a job, is not as accessible as it should be, especially in this age. And that's a core thesis of my book, is that our established institutions are really threatened by technology that redistributes power, especially when they're doing a bad job.

    CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: Interesting stuff.

    Nicco Mele, "The End of Big," thanks very much.

    NICCO MELE: Thank you. My pleasure.

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    Politics editor Christina Bellantoni and social media editor Colleen Shalby, who ran with the PBS NewsHour HatCam, pose before the start of the ACLI Capital Challenge race in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Christina Bellantoni/Twitter.

    Fourteen PBS NewsHour road warriors gathered early Wednesday morning to hit the pavement in a charity race to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

    We ran 3 miles for the annual ACLI Capital Challenge, which also included members of Congress, other branches of government and reporters from print, television and radio outlets.

    Political junkies may recall that Sen. Dick Lugar ran this race every year. He lost his seat in a primary, so he won't be back this year. But seven senators and 24 members of the House will lead teams.

    That includes Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, Rob Portman of Ohio, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Democratic Sens. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Kay Hagan of North Carolina.

    "No Commercials, No Mercy," -- inspired, of course, by this scene from the movie "Anchorman" -- competed in the electronic media category. We're also hoping to win Best Name and the Best Team Spirit awards.

    The NewsHour team:

    Captain Christina Bellantoni Terence Burlij Frank Carlson Geoffrey Guray Cindy Huang Sarah McHaney Allie Morris Tiffany Mullon Alex Ozenberger Simone Pathe Ellen Rolfes Justin Scuiletti Colleen Shalby Daniel Yang

    Curious about the HatCam? Watch our promo video from its political conventions debut here or below.

    You can also keep up with the race by following #ACLI. Tweets about "ACLI"

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    Attorney General Eric Holder may be the lone witness at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight Wednesday. Watch a live stream of the hearing, which will begin at 1 p.m. EDT.

    The Morning Line

    Even when the White House says it disapproves or didn't know of the latest government action spiraling into a political scandal, it's hard to keep the president out of it.

    A trifecta of breaking stories has put President Barack Obama on the hot seat. He and his team, from inside the White House to Cabinet members, must juggle questions about the handling of a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that left a U.S. ambassador dead, a phone records subpoena by the Justice Department that surprised the national news organization it targeted, and a practice at the Internal Revenue Service that scrutinized certain political non-profit groups' tax-exempt status applications.

    Politico's Glenn Thrush reports on frustrations with how the West Wing seemed to be lacking spin control. "Our hands are completely tied" on the IRS and Department of Justice stories, one administration official said, because of legal limitations with the agencies. The communications team has been "very, very slow on the draw" a former official said.

    While a news conference with Attorney General Eric Holder and a formal report on the IRS practices provided some answers Tuesday, the continued focus on these stories is reshaping Mr. Obama's political narrative. And it's not in the way he would prefer.

    Thrush's colleagues Alexander Burns and John F. Harris sum up the arc of the story around Mr. Obama this way: "None of these messes would have happened under a president less obsessed with politics, less insulated within his own White House and less trusting of government as an institution."

    In other words, a perception of a culture of intolerance inside the White House can be a major distraction when a president wants to focus on his policy long game and legacy. It's unclear what kind of impact the week's events will have on the rest of his term -- or the press' coverage of it.

    The Associated Press, which was the target of the Justice Department subpoena, went to the heart of this idea with its first question to White House spokesman Jay Carney at Tuesday's press briefing:

    "Doesn't responsibility for setting tone and setting direction ultimately rest with the president on these matters?" the reporter asked.

    Carney insisted that the reporters treat the issues separately, and look to Mr. Obama's day-to-day work.

    Both the IRS and Associated Press scandals continued to grow Tuesday.

    First, the Justice Department and FBI opened an investigation into the IRS' special review of groups, including those linked to the tea party and conservative politics, as they sought tax-exempt status.

    Holder condemned the IRS' discrimination in a news conference and assured the government he would hold any wrongdoers accountable:

    "To the extent that we have determined that actors in government have gone beyond what they were supposed to do, broken regulations, broken rules, broken the law, we have prosecuted people. We have held people accountable. We have tried to do things according to the rules. There are going to be people, occasionally, who will not do so. It is then incumbent upon us who -- upon us who have enforcement responsibilities to make sure that we hold those people accountable, and I think our record shows that over the last 4 1/2 years we have been -- we've done that."

    The Wall Street Journal provides a full transcript of Holders' remarks here.

    The Treasury Department inspector general for tax administration also chimed in on the problem with a report Tuesday. The inspector general cited "ineffective management" as the reason the IRS caused unnecessary delays and information requests from conservative groups for more than 18 months. The IRS has now resolved the problems, the report says, yet should put measures in place to make sure it doesn't happen again. The report suggests that the IRS better track tax-exempt group applications under review and train employees before election cycles.

    The report also clears the White House and others outside the IRS from wrongdoing.

    "All of these officials stated that the criteria were not influenced by any individual or organization outside the IRS," the report states.

    The report also includes a response from an IRS official explaining how the service reviewed groups' tax-exempt status applications.

    Mr. Obama responded to the report in a statement Tuesday night, saying Treasury Secretary Jack Lew would hold responsible the accountable IRS employees and make sure the recommendations are put into practice. "But regardless of how this conduct was allowed to take place, the bottom line is, it was wrong," Mr. Obama added.

    The report and Mr. Obama's statement likely won't stop growing criticism from Republicans, much of it stemming from a senior Utah Republican's dealings with the service. Sen. Orrin Hatch had asked the IRS in June why it needed donor information from some groups seeking tax-exempt status. On Tuesday, he said the former IRS director had "purposefully misled" him. Others, such as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called for the resignation of acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller.

    Although Miller was deputy commissioner when Hatch first inquired, the focus will stay on Miller this week. He's due to testify Friday before the House Ways and Means Committee.

    On Tuesday's NewsHour, Jeffrey Brown spoke with two reporters following the IRS story. The segment, featuring Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post and CQ Roll Call's Eliza Newlin Carney, is here or below:

    Watch Video

    The IRS scandal wasn't the only one drawing political ire, especially in regard to Holder. The Justice Department's handling of the Associated Press -- seizing reporters' phone records and investigating leaks that appeared in an AP article on a foiled terrorist attack -- prompted Republicans and the media to criticize the administration Tuesday.

    Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called for Holder's resignation. Holder has come under fire before with Republicans, most recently when the House investigated the Fast and Furious gun smuggling operation.

    Like on the IRS issue, Holder held firm at his Tuesday news conference. He had recused himself from the investigation, he said, and instead said the deputy attorney general authorized the phone records subpoena. "I'm confident that the people who are involved in this investigation, who I know for a great many years and I've worked with for a great many years, followed all of the appropriate Justice Department regulations and did things according to DOJ rules," Holder said.

    Deputy Attorney General James Cole wrote to the Associated Press president, defending the investigation. "The subpoenas were limited to a reasonable period of time and did not seek the content of any calls," Cole wrote.

    Holder said the government leak that spawned the AP subpoena, however, was "within the top two or three most serious leaks that I've ever seen. It put the American people at risk."

    Watch Holder's address here or below:

    Watch Video

    Of course, Carney was pressed on both issues at his press briefing Tuesday. While he would not comment on the specifics of the AP story, Carney said, "I can tell you that the president feels strongly that we need the press to be able to be unfettered in its pursuit of investigative journalism."

    Watch that here or below.

    Watch Video

    The main event Wednesday will be Holder's testimony on Capitol Hill. We'll live-stream the hearing at pbs.org/newshour.

    Holder and the Justice Department's biggest critics may lie outside of Congress and government altogether.

    News organizations and journalism groups were unsparing in their criticism. The New York Times editorial board accused the Obama administration of having "a chilling zeal for investigating leaks and prosecuting leakers," and said the White House had "failed to offer a credible justification" for its actions.

    The editorial board of the Washington Post concluded that any national security threat in the matter was probably "outweighed by the damage to press freedom and governmental transparency."

    The head of the American Society of News Editors said the administration's "outrageous actions" were "appalling" and invited Holder to join ASNE's June convention to "explain the Justice Department's actions to our editors."

    The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, in a letter to Holder, demanded the Justice Department return or destroy the phone records, while Poynter laid out "what journalists should know."

    Meanwhile, David Carr of the New York Times compared the AP situation to Bloomberg News reporters' breach of client data and pulled both stories together with a key observation: "So many lines are being crossed in so many directions, it is tough to keep track of who are the victims and who are the perpetrators." (Bloomberg News editor-in-chief Matthew Winkler weighed in on the matter Monday.)

    Watch the NewsHour's coverage of the AP and Justice Department controversies here or below:

    Watch Video


    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday called for the retraining of tens of thousands of U.S. military recruiters and sexual assault prevention officers in the wake of a new revelation that an Army sergeant in charge of handling sexual assault cases at Fort Hood, Texas, is under investigation for alleged sex abuse crimes, according to Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post.

    A majority of civilian Pentagon employees will be forced to take unpaid furloughs of up to 11 days this summer as a result of sequestration -- a few days less than expected, reports Anna Mulrine of the Christian Science Monitor.

    Rep.-elect Mark Sanford, R-S.C., will officially be sworn-in Wednesday to rejoin the House.

    Pablo Pantoja, who was the Republican National Committee's Florida Hispanic Outreach Director, is leaving the party because a controversial Heritage Foundation study and will become a Democrat.

    At least six House Republicans are determined not to pass the Senate Gang of Eight immigration bill, reports Politico's Ginger Gibson.

    Former Rep. Joe Sestak, who in 2010 defeated Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter in a Democratic primary and then lost the Senate race to Republican Pat Toomey, is preparing for a rematch.

    CNN's Jake Tapper reports there are some contradictions about the leaked Benghazi talking points.

    Vermont will become the first state to pass legislation allowing physicians to prescribe lethal medication to certain terminally ill patients.

    Oh, Joe! No. 467: chocolate bullets.

    Upworthy crafts a completely amazing video about income distribution in America.

    Politico's Maggie Haberman says Anthony Weiner has hired a campaign manager.

    Takoma Park, Md., is the first U.S. city to allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections.

    The House will likely vote Thursday on repealing the Affordable Care Act -- for the 37th time.


    We live-streamed on the HatCam Wednesday morning. Watch the video of members of Team NewsHour -- including your Morning Line duo Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij -- running the ACLI Capital Challenge race, three miles for the Wounded Warrior Project.

    Christina interviews author Nicco Mele about his book "The End of Big." Watch that here or below -- and weigh in on the comments thread with your thoughts on whether or not technology has empowered us.

    Five families whose lives were radically impacted by U.S. immigration laws shared their stories with the NewsHour. Production assistant Cindy Huang produced the special report here.

    How did Watergate affect you? Let us know ahead of our Friday special report looking back at the scandal that changed American politics and made the NewsHour what it is today.

    Health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser looks at the BRCA gene test and what Angelina Jolie's announcement means in the bigger picture. And Ali Weinberg of NBC writes about her decision to pursue a mastectomy as a young woman.

    What more can you say? Feline Fans Unite at Internet Cat Video Festival.


    What you call "bias"--being gay, being undocumented, being Filipino w/ a Latin name--I call "my life" #BuzzFeedBrews#immigration

    — Jose Antonio Vargas (@joseiswriting) May 15, 2013

    It's looking like a great day to out-run some Senators. #aclito.pbs.org/10MOvi2twitter.com/cbellantoni/st...

    — Christina Bellantoni (@cbellantoni) May 15, 2013

    If you see Jay Carney at Safeway getting a gallon of ice cream, jar of Nutella, and five Redbox movies, just leave him alone.

    — pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) May 14, 2013

    Scandal, Power, and The President. By James "Jay" Carney. time.com/time/magazine/...

    — Tim Miller (@Timodc) May 14, 2013

    Map of student loan delinquency rates by state.The lowest South Dakota (6.5%) the highest West Virginia (about 18%) twitter.com/NYFed_News/sta...

    — New York Fed News (@NYFed_News) May 14, 2013

    Leahy is just RIPPING the Dirksen building, where this #immigration hearing is being held. "The ugliest building in D.C."

    — Jordan Fabian (@Jordanfabian) May 14, 2013

    Little-known National Aquarium in the basement of the Dept. Commerce, operating since 1885, is finally closing. bit.ly/12xCqub

    — Garance Franke-Ruta (@thegarance) May 14, 2013

    House #GOP is wasting YOUR time and tax dollars on a distortion and spin campaign to #repeal#obamacare

    — Rep.George Miller (@askgeorge) May 14, 2013

    Season 44 of @sesamestreet has a new segment w/ Cookie Monster that helps him build executive function skills. #pbsam

    — PBS KIDS (@pbskids) May 14, 2013

    Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij contributed to this report.

    For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

    Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

    Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

    Follow the politics team on Twitter:

    Follow @cbellantoni

    Follow @burlijiFollow @kpolantzFollow @elizsummersFollow @tiffanymullonFollow @meenaganesanFollow @ljspbs

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    Tiny beads of green glass from the moon may hold the answers to the Earth's watery past. Photo by NASA.

    It took three years for Alberto Saal of Brown University, Erik Hauri of the Carnegie Institution for Science, and James Van Orman of Case Western Reserve University -- all friends since graduate school -- to secure a thimble-sized sample of soil from the moon for analysis.

    The precious lunar sample, which was collected by astronauts during the Apollo 15 and 17 missions, is kept in a locked case at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. It is comprised of minerals, rocks, and greenish-tinted beads of volcanic glass. All of the beads combined could fit on a pinky nail.

    It's within these tiny glass beads that Hauri and his colleagues have found signs of water. They believe that water originated on the planet Earth, and was transferred to the moon during a massive collision 4.5 billion years ago.

    "We kept checking and rechecking," said Saal, a geochemist, on finding evidence of water in 2008. "We were afraid there was contamination."

    Using tweezers and a microscope, they picked out tiny bits of green glass from the lunar dust, and then analyzed them for water. And they found water molecules-- 20 to 30 grams of water per million grams of volcanic glass -- melted into the beads.

    NASA's LCROSS Deputy Project Manager John Marmie and Jeff Petro wrote (and performed) this song about the mission to find water on the moon.

    Before 2008, many scientists believed the moon was a dry, arid rock. Then in 2009, NASA's LCROSS mission slammed a booster rocket traveling nearly 6,000 miles per hour into the moon, blasted out a hole and found ice on the surface. But no one knew where any of the moon's water came from.

    It's thought that the moon formed when a Mars-sized asteroid crashed into the earth 4.5 billion years ago, blowing hot magma into space. That hot magma coalesced to form the moon. When the lunar rocks from the Apollo 11 mission appeared totally dry, scientists assumed that the heat from the impact caused any water to evaporate and release gas into space, Hauri said. But his team found that tiny inclusions of magma trapped inside volcanic crystals had as much water as magmas from Earth. That finding was published in a 2011 paper in the journal Science.

    "At that point, people began to come to grips with the fact that the lunar interior had as much water as the Earth's mantle does today. So next was to say, 'Okay, what's the isotopic composition of this water? We can use that to trace the source of water to the moon,'" Hauri said.

    Water molecules from Earth contain a specific proportion of hydrogen isotopes (with one proton) to deuterium isotopes (a proton plus a neutron). Each object in the solar system, like a comet or an asteroid, has characteristic proportions of hydrogen and deuterium. It's kind of like looking at an atom's DNA, Hauri explained.

    That atomic DNA was analyzed in 2011 by James Greenwood, a geochemist at Wesleyan University, who studied lunar minerals called apatites. He concluded that based on the isotopic ratio, the interior water of the moon must have come from comets colliding into the moon.

    Erik Hauri, left, and Alberto Saal in the NanoSims lab where they have been studying lunar samples for signs of water.

    But Hauri, Saal and Van Orman's research showed that the isotopes found in the lunar water were much closer to the atomic DNA of water found on Earth, which, they say, rules out the comet theory. Simply, Earth was a wet planet at the time of the impact, and the water survived the moon's formation, Saal said.

    "They're pretty close, but there is a small difference that is probably due to volcanic release of hydrogen vapor. We're both blessed and cursed that we can measure these isotope ratios very precisely," Hauri said.

    Their research concludes that the moon and the Earth got their water from the same source, and that the interior water (water trapped in the rocks on the moon) originated from the Earth at the time of the moon's formation. The findings were published online in the journal Science last week.

    But Greenwood said it's not a close enough match to conclusively prove the water is terrestrial. While his data was similar, he maintains that the water arrived later and probably from a comet.

    "They are arguing that they have the same source of water and the source survived the impact event without changing the isotope signature," Greenwood said. "It's still similar to cometary water."

    And given the isotopic ranges we currently have for comets, they're pretty close to Earth's water, he added. "If comets have a deuterium to hydrogen ratio the same as the Earth's oceans, then comets could have delivered all the water."

    Saal sticks to his findings, saying that the volcanic glass samples are more representative of the primitive lunar deuterium-hydrogen ratio. The isotopic ratios are so close that water must have come from the Earth, he says, and the authors maintain that hydrogen gas release during volcanic eruptions can explain Greenwood's data.

    "Most of what we call terrestrial planets have been believed to form without water, and the water came later," Saal said. "The moon is telling us that the water that came to Earth was here from the beginning."

    Peter Schultz, a lunar scientist from the LCROSS mission says it's still not a consensus, and that there is much more work to be done. Scientists only have data from a handful of comets, so he can't rule out that comets could have placed some of the water on the surface of the moon.

    "It's still possible that the deep interior could be comet if we don't know what the ratio was way back when," Schultz said. "We need to look at more comets. We need to make more observations, and we need to peer into these samples. We left the moon so long ago, and we left behind all these unanswered questions...I'm still anxious to find out the answers."

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  • 05/15/13--07:37: The Daily Frame
  • Click to enlarge.

    A women touches "Catafalque" by British artist Sean Henry on the grounds of the Glyndebourne Opera House in Lewes, England. The piece is part of a collection of newly installed sculptures by the artist ahead of Glyndebourne's summer festival. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

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    Attorney General Eric Holder may be the lone witness at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight Wednesday. Watch a livestream of the hearing, which will begin at 1 p.m. EDT.

    Attorney General Eric Holder faces political fire this week on his department's seizure of Associated Press reporters' phone records and its inquiry into the IRS' investigations of conservative groups applying for tax exempt 501(c)(4) status.

    Watch Video

    At a press conference Tuesday, Attorney General Holder said he had no involvement in the leak probe in which the Department of Justice seized phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors. He also addressed questions about the recent investigation of the IRS' targeting conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) tax status. Watch the press conference or read a full transcript of his remarks.

    Holder told press on Tuesday:

    "I have been a prosecutor since 1976, and I have to say that this is among -- if not the most serious, it's within the top two or three most serious leaks that I have ever seen."

    At the House Judiciary Committee hearing, Holder will be forced to answer questions about the IRS controversy and DOJ seizures of journalists' phone records from House members, including critical Republicans and chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

    The committee said in a statement it also will ask about the politicization of the Justice Department, wasteful spending and the Boston marathon bombings.

    Read more in Wednesday's Morning Line.

    Follow the politics team on Twitter:

    Follow @cbellantoni

    Follow @burlijiFollow @kpolantzFollow @elizsummersFollow @tiffanymullonFollow @meenaganesanFollow @ljspbs

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    Recent law school grads face a tough job market, daunting student loans and -- if they land a job -- a demanding work environment. Steven Harper's "The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis" serves as a wake up call and warning for students disillusioned by the prestigious lawyers they watch on T.V. In the book, Harper, a Northwestern University Law Professor and former Kirkland & Ellis LLP litigator, gives an honest, sometimes grim, account about the issue of too many lawyers and too few jobs.

    While his aim is to address and educate potential law school applicants about the bubble, the book may actually offer a solution to it. By revealing the harsh realities of getting a job at a big law firm (and trying to remain happy while doing it), some prospective students may reconsider their career paths. He points out contributing factors to the lawyer surplus and assigns blame to law school deans, big law firms, the government, students, the American Bar Association and even U.S. News & World Report law school rankings.

    The PBS NewsHour spoke recently with Harper about his book and what every law professional and potential student should be aware of with this growing crisis.

    NewsHour: There's no sugar coating in this book, do you make it a point to be blunt no matter how dream-crushing it may be for future law students?

    Steven Harper: It's intended to be direct; it's not intended to be mean-spirited. So what I tried to be, at least as a matter of intent, is balanced and I think the difficulty with a lot of -- at least of the undergraduates that I've taught over the last several years who are on their way to law school -- is that for many people for a long time, law school has been the last bash for the liberal arts major who can't decide what to do next. And it becomes a pretty expensive proposition when you come out the other end with maybe only a 50-60 percent chance of getting a job that requires a degree and a six figure loan -- a mortgage but no house.

    I had a wonderful career as a lawyer, I think it's a very important and noble thing to do and a noble undertaking, but it's not for everyone and that's really the central message. If you can take a hard look at yourself and decide whether it's a good fit for you, you have a much better chance of not only enjoying the process of becoming a lawyer and being successful at it, but also not adding to the ranks of what are already too many dissatisfied lawyers.

    NewsHour: You mention your students were your inspiration for this book, what did you experience while teaching that made you want to write this for future generations?

    Steven Harper: The idea for this book and the course really started before the Great Recession. One of my particular concerns was what I was seeing in growing rates of dissatisfied, unhappy lawyers. So the course really started as an effort to bridge the gap between what I think are student expectations going into the profession and the reality of what it can become. Sometimes those expectations are formed in the same way mine were, many years ago; they're formed by the images you see on TV. I mean who wouldn't want to be Alicia Florek? You know, have a trial every week, cross-examine the key witness, and then make equity partner in a firm after four years. Oh and by the way, she dressed really well along the way, too. So what I really started out doing was trying to bridge that gap between expectations and reality.

    What ultimately drove me to write the book was that I really couldn't find something that I thought was a comprehensive and balanced treatment of what I wanted to cover. Which was what it is about the profession that makes it challenging, what it is about the profession that makes it great, how has the profession evolved, particularly in big firms where I practiced for thirty years, and those have evolved in many ways that have become hostile for a satisfied career and balanced life. So I wanted to catch younger people earlier in the process and just have them take a really hard look at themselves and the profession in what I hope is a balanced way.

    NewsHour: In terms of structure of the book, a huge chunk of it is documenting the collapses of big law firms, why?

    Steven Harper: Because for better or for worse, big law firms are several things. One, they are where the vast majority of law school students seek to get jobs. It's where they want to start their careers, it's where the money is the best, and it's where, frankly, the leadership in the profession has always been. Big law firms only comprise 10-15 percent of practicing lawyers. And the other thing about it is that big law firms really do exert a large influence that is far disproportionate to their numbers in terms of signaling to the rest of the profession where we're going. And so it just seemed to me the combination of those things, plus I suppose the obvious is it's the part of the profession that I knew the best, I lived in it for thirty years.

    NewsHour: It's no secret in the book that you're not a big fan of U.S. News & World Report rankings and their influence over law school deans, but who is the biggest culprit of perpetuating the bubble?

    Steven Harper: I think it's a number of different factors. I certainly wouldn't let students off the hook. I think that when you have a confirmation bias and you're reluctant to view the world in a particular way other than the way you want to view it, you have to take some responsibility for what happens. And increasingly there is greater transparency. I think a second factor, to a very large degree has been law school deans. For many years, a vast majority of them pander to the criteria that go to rankings. Some of them are very destructive to the profession and to the students involved. And then there's the third thing too that's fueling all of this, and that has to do with the free flow of government money. Don't get me wrong, I could not have gone to law school had it not been for student loans, and I had plenty of them by the time I came out, but the difficulty now is that there's no real accountability between the behavior of deans who are really determined to increase enrollments, and the outcomes for their students in terms of not being able to repay their student loans or get jobs that are sufficient to allow them to repay their student loans. If you default on a student loan, the federal government backs it up and the law school is not out a penny as a result of any of that.

    NewsHour: You say the industry is in crisis, will there ever be a catalyst or bursting of the bubble that influences big law firms or deans to change their ways?

    Steven Harper: Well some of it is already happening, there's been increased discussion especially since law schools have had to disclose for example, whether "employed" meant simply working as a greeter at a Wal-Mart or as a barista in a coffee shop, or whether it meant having a full time law firm job that actually requires a law degree. And so as a result of some of that transparency and changes, I don't know if the bubble is bursting but I think it may be seeping a little bit or leaking a little bit. Certainly law school applications have gone down dramatically, although they're still not low enough to make significant inroads compared to the few jobs that are available.

    But I think law school deans in particular are very concerned, many of them, some of the non-top law schools are very concerned about how they're going to fill their classrooms with not just bodies but with people who are going to be able to do the work, and so I think that's going to become an increasing challenge. For many law firms, it may very well be true that no change is necessary or even appropriate because as long as people continue to gravitate to a big firm environment, even if it's harsh or not what they want, they can get new lawyers in sufficient numbers, and that model will continue to survive and thrive.

    NewsHour: Knowing what you know now, and writing this book, say it was 2008 and you just graduated college, would you go into law school?

    Steven Harper: Yes I would. As I mentioned, I really had a great career. It was for me something that seemed like the right thing to do. What I would've done coming out of law school is less clear to me although frankly when I went into law school as I was going in, I wasn't sure what I was going to do coming out anyways. So I'm not sure where any of that would ultimately land now. But I certainly would be a lawyer if I had to do it over again, no question about it.

    NewsHour: What do you say to those graduated and who are in school now reading this book?

    Steven Harper: Well, first of all that would depend where you're in school because there is a dramatic difference between, for example, employment rates for those who are graduating from say the top 10 or 15 or 20 law schools compared to those who are graduating from way further down the food chain. But what I would say to them is if you really want to be a lawyer and it looks like it's the right fit for you, then by all means be a lawyer, go for it. Figure out a way to make it work for you and do the best you can and just persevere through it. On the other hand, if you're someone who's kind of gotten yourself into it and you're looking around saying 'What am I doing here? I don't even enjoy any of this,' then don't be afraid to admit a mistake. We all make mistakes. And find whatever it is you can do with your life that you're passionate about.

    This interview has been condensed and edited.

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    By Benn Steil

    Britain's chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, center right, at the start of the G7 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting on Friday, May 10 in Aylesbury, England. The role of central banks in shoring up the global economic recovery is set to be a key point of discussion among top financial officials from the world's seven leading economies when they gather in the UK this weekend.Photo by Alastair Grant - WPA Pool / Getty Images.

    A note Paul Solman: The G7 finance ministers met in England last week and had "intense discussions," said Reuters, about international monetary policy and currency exchange rates, a source of tension in the world economy for, oh, about 100 years now.

    According to the economic history books, the one great conference that resolved that tension -- for a quarter century -- was "Bretton Woods," a convocation of 44 countries in the White Mountains of New Hampshire less than a month after D-Day and the beginning of the end for the axis powers in World War II. What would the post-war world economy look like? That was the question in July of 1944. The answers were a loosely dollar-based world currency regime, the International Monetary Fund and what was to become the World Bank.

    So, do we need another Bretton Woods today? Benn Steil, editor of the scholarly journal "International Finance," has written a book that ponders this and other questions: "The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order." Paul Volcker has called it "full of lessons relevant today." Alan Greenspan said it's "a must-read work of economic and diplomatic history" and The New York Times wrote that "it should become the gold standard on its topic."

    Critics like history professor Eric Rauchway, by contrast, take Steil to taskfor for overemphasizing Bretton Woods' weaknesses and the Soviet connections of its chief American negotiator, Harry Dexter White.

    Benn Steil: In the wake of the great financial crisis of 2008, world leaders, from French President Nicolas Sarkozy to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, began calling for "a new Bretton Woods" to restore discipline and calm to world financial markets. The very words "Bretton Woods," it seemed, had become shorthand for enlightened globalization. Simply invoking the name of the remote New Hampshire town, where representatives of 44 allied nations came together 65 years earlier, in the midst of the century's second great war, was to put oneself on the side of order, stability, vision, cooperation, and peace. But was the actual 1944 Bretton Woods conference, the most important international gathering since the Paris peace talks a quarter century earlier, really such a kumbaya moment? Could we recreate it? And if we could, would we want to?

    Consider the conference itself -- the men who drove it and its goals.

    President Franklin Roosevelt told the assembled that their agenda marked "a vital phase" among "the arrangements which must be made between nations to ensure an orderly, harmonious world." He hoped it would speed the war's conclusion by sending the enemy Axis powers the message that it was America and its allies that had the compelling postwar vision.

    But FDR had little interest in the actual ins and outs of international economic affairs, and it was his Treasury -- led by Sec. Henry Morgenthau, but powered by his ambitious, temperamental deputy, Harry Dexter White -- which scripted its details.

    Morgenthau years later told President Harry Truman that his ambition at Bretton Woods had been "to move the financial center of the world from London and Wall Street to the United States Treasury and to create a new concept between the nations of international finance." That concept was given its flesh by Harry White, and its centerpiece was to be a dollar-based international monetary system overseen by a new U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund.

    With the exception of two delegations, the Soviet and the British, the governments represented at Bretton Woods bowed to this concept with only modest grumbling because they felt they had no choice. The United States controlled nearly 80 percent of the world's monetary gold stock at the time, and U.S. dollars were the only credible surrogate for gold. Without American monetary and financial support, barter was the only way to trade, and therefore to survive.

    The Soviets, whose trade with the world was entirely state-controlled, had no practical use for the American scheme, and signed on for reasons which were transparent, but to which White was willfully blind: Stalin had hoped to get cheap American loans, that he could repudiate at his convenience, and liked the idea of the world fixing currencies to a gold-backed dollar because it would boost the value of Russia's large gold stocks. (When the loans were not forthcoming, the Soviets refused to ratify the agreements.)

    The British delegation head, the storied John Maynard Keynes, tussled with White for two years in the run-up to the conference, trying with increasing desperation to sustain some remnant of an international role for the pound sterling, which functioned as the monetary foundation of Britain's fraying global empire.

    The world's first-ever celebrity economist, Keynes was an unlikely diplomat: he was eloquent and quick-witted, yet also irascible and condescending. But with war-torn Britain on the verge of bankruptcy, its colonies braying for London to start paying its way in dollars, Keynes emerged as London's last-ditch financial ambassador because he had what the Americans respected: star power.

    For his part, White had a longstanding obsession with Britain and its currency, having as early as 1935, nine years before Bretton Woods, begun working actively to undermine the sterling's status by, for example, forcing China to unpeg its currency from sterling in favor of a peg to the dollar. All this was to pave the way for an international conference at which the dollar would be enthroned as the world's unrivaled monetary standard.

    Bretton Woods was ultimately part of a Faustian bargain that Britain was obliged to make with FDR's Treasury. In return for American [Lend-Lease] (http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=71) aid to survive the war, and a transitional loan to get through the immediate post-war period, Britain was told to:

    End imperial trade preference, the arrangement by which Britain gave itself privileged access to the markets of its colonies and dominions Make the pound sterling fully convertible into dollars at a fixed rate by July 15, 1947 (a day that lives in infamy for the British, as it triggered a collapse of the country's dollar reserves) Accept the U.S. dollar as the global unit of account. It was a brutal deal, but as British economist and Bretton Woods delegate Lionel Robbins put it at the time, "we need[ed] the cash."

    The Americans triumphed at Bretton Woods. Yet, looking back nearly 70 years later, it is clear that it was a pyrrhic victory.

    There had been four pillars to White and Morgenthau's postwar vision:

    Britain's empire could be peaceably dismantled The Soviet Union could be co-opted into a permanent peacetime alliance Germany could be safely deindustrialized and dismembered (the so-called Morgenthau Plan) Short-term IMF loans would be sufficient to restart international trade. Three years after Bretton Woods, the Marshall Plan repudiated all of this.

    These beliefs, it turned out, had been based on "misconceptions of the state of the world around us." Future secretary of State Dean Acheson later reflected, "both in anticipating postwar conditions and in recognizing what they actually were when we came face to face with them ... Only slowly did it dawn upon us that the whole world structure and order that we had inherited from the nineteenth century was gone and that the struggle to replace it would be directed from two bitterly opposed and ideologically irreconcilable power centers."

    By early 1947, Britain was no longer seen as a political and economic rival but as a desperate ally that needed to be saved from communism and collapse. The Soviets could not be co-opted, and needed now to be contained (in George Kennan's famous word). West Germany had to be built into a vital bulwark against Soviet expansion -- this through rehabilitation and resurrection as the industrial engine of a new integrated Western Europe ("Western Europe" being an American conception). Finally, the IMF, together with its loan-based salvation mechanism, would be mothballed in favor of massive U.S. grants-in-aid to its allies.

    (Note to Angela Merkel, Germany's iron chancellor: do you not see parallels with your handling of today's eurozone crisis?)

    Although the quarter-century period from 1945-1971 is typically referred to as "the Bretton Woods era," the monetary regime called for in the conference agreements could not be said to have become operative until 1961, when the first nine European countries met the requirement that their currencies be convertible into dollars. By this time, however, the system was already coming under strain owing to a deteriorating U.S. balance of payments and corresponding loss of gold reserves.

    "There is no likelihood," White had insisted when urging congressional ratification of Bretton Woods in 1945. "The United States will, at any time, be faced with the difficulty of buying and selling gold at a fixed price freely." Yet this is precisely what transpired after his system entered into normal operation in the 1960s.

    On Aug. 15, 1971, President Richard Nixon made a dramatic announcement. Following on the heels of a French battleship arriving in New York to take home its gold from the New York Federal Reserve, Nixon announced the closing of the American "gold window." Facing imminent depletion of the once-vast U.S. gold stock, Nixon would remove the foundation of the Bretton Woods international monetary system - never again would the dollar be convertible into gold.

    One strange and fascinating legacy of the 1940s that lives on at the IMF today is one which no one present at Bretton Woods could ever have imagined. My archival research uncovered some remarkable new evidence that the Fund's architect, Harry White, despite being a staunch American monetary nationalist, was a passionate believer in the success of Soviet socialist economics, and was bitterly critical of what he saw as western hypocrisy towards Soviet Russia. President Truman was certainly unaware of this when he nominated White to be the first American executive director of the IMF in 1946. He was also on the verge of nominating him to be the first head (managing director) of the Fund when he received a long memorandum from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover warning him not to. Hoover charged that White was actually a Soviet spy.

    Truman did not trust Hoover, but knew he had a political problem on his hands. In order to avoid the questioning that would follow appointing another American above White at the IMF, he had his Treasury secretary, Fred Vinson, tell Keynes that, despite White being a "natural" for the Fund's top post, the administration had decided to back an American for the top World Bank post instead. And it would not be "proper," they had concluded with uncharacteristic fair-mindedness, "to have Americans as the heads of both bodies."

    In 1997, after exhaustively reviewing a trove of recently declassified Soviet intelligence cables from the 1940s, intercepted and decrypted by wartime U.S. military intelligence, a Senate commission headed by the late Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan declared that "the complicity of Alger Hiss of the State Department seems settled. As does that of Harry Dexter White of the Treasury Department."

    To this day it is a European, and not an American, who runs the IMF.

    Bretton Woods was truly a fascinating saga, but it was most surely not the triumph of economic thinking and international comity it is often painted to be. An ascendant anti-colonial superpower, the United States, used its economic leverage over an insolvent allied imperial power, Great Britain, to set the terms by which the latter would cede its dwindling dominion over the rules and norms of foreign trade and finance. Britain cooperated because the overriding aim of survival seemed to dictate the course.

    The monetary architecture that Harry White designed, and powered through an international gathering of dollar-starved allies, ultimately fell of its own contradictions: The United States could not simultaneously keep the world adequately supplied with dollars and sustain the large gold reserves required by its gold-convertibility commitment. The IMF, the institution through which it was launched, though, endures -- however much its objectives have metamorphosed -- and many hope that it can be a catalyst for a new and more enduring "Bretton Woods."

    Yet history suggests that a new cooperative monetary architecture will not emerge until the United States, the world's largest creditor nation in the 1940s, but now the world's largest debtor, and China, today's dominant creditor nation, each comes to the conclusion that the consequences of muddling on, without the prospect of correcting the endemic imbalances between them, are too great. Even more daunting are the requirements for building an enduring system; monetary nationalism was the downfall of the last great effort in 1944.

    Benn Steil is Director of International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

    This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown- NewsHour's blog of news and insight. Follow @PaulSolman

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    Photo by Jon Lowenstein/NOOR Image Collective.

    For the past 10 years photographer Jon Lowenstein has turned his lens to the slow-moving forces shaping daily life for the people of Chicago's South Side, chronicling the demolition of some of the nation's largest housing projects, the closure of crumbling schools and some of the deep bonds built in a changing community amid ongoing violence.

    Last year more than 500 people were killed in Chicago, a sad marker the city hadn't met since 2007. Lowenstein decided to focus on the scourge of gun violence in a project called "Chicago's Bloody Year." In it he attempts to contextualize the deaths by showing the somber, quiet moments of reflection, complicating the simple picture many have of the South Side.

    As the country continues to debate what should be done about guns, Ray Suarez talked to Lowenstein about his project from his home in Chicago:

    Watch Video

    A transcript is after the jump.

    Lowenstein's now working on a short film about violence in Chicago and on a book about his decade-long project documenting the South Side. To see more of his work, visit his page at the NOOR image collective or his homepage, www.jonlowenstein.com.

    RAY SUAREZ: Welcome to Art Beat, I'm Ray Suarez.

    In 2012, Chicago saw more than 500 homicides, the vast majority of them gang-related. As part of a decade-long look at the people of Chicago's South Side, freelance photographer Jon Lowenstein spent last year documenting the violence in a project called "Chicago's Bloody Year."

    Lowenstein's a longtime Chicago resident who's spent his career focusing on issues of social justice, poverty and violence, both at home and abroad.

    Jon Lowenstein joins us now. What attracted you to this project? Not an easy thing to do, Jon.

    JON LOWENSTEIN: Well, I've been working on this project for about 10 years, so violence has always been something that I've had to witness within the community. When I taught at the school -- I taught for five years at a school called Paul Revere Elementary School -- some of the students were affected by the violence, and it's something that kind of runs across generations and impacts the community in really significant ways.

    SUAREZ: I spent a big part of my career covering crime on the South Side of Chicago and it's always there, like a low-grade fever, but now with these latest years has it broken out -- is it something that more people are worried about, more people want to know about?

    LOWENSTEIN: There's now a spotlight on the South Side, and this is due to a variety of factors. One: The land is now -- people are interested in developing the South Side, so the land is seen as valuable right now. Two: Barack Obama and his rise to presidency, and the fact that he came out of the South Side makes a big difference. And three: It's just gun violence in general is a big issue now and so people really want to know, why is this happening so much in Chicago?

    SUAREZ: Well, when you hit a scene, sometimes they are somber, heartbreaking, shocking, sometimes they have almost a circus atmosphere as crowds of passersby just wait to see what happened by standing behind the police lines. What's your process? What do you want to show people about what it's like to be there?

    LOWENSTEIN: I try to show the direct impact and then how the space looks and what is the overall impact, the quiet moments that happen afterwards, after the news cameras leave and the police tape gets pulled up. And you come back to the scene the next day and often you find people mourning, people just hanging out next to the memorial scenes where the people, their loved ones have been killed.

    I really try to make that connection between the violence, the community, the generations and the impact it has across generations, because every time you have somebody who was killed, someone loves that person. And even if they're involved in the street life, there's still someone that loves them and cares about them and there was somebody who really connected to them. And that was somebody's son or nephew, uncle or cousin. So I really try to show, how does that work?

    SUAREZ: Tell us some of the technical details. What kind of equipment do you use? What kind of film?

    LOWENSTEIN: So I use a Polaroid camera. It was built around 1968, 1969. And the idea being is to be able to give people a photograph on the street. So if I take a picture -- if someone says, hey, man, take my picture -- I'm able to actually give them the print right there, and it's a really collaborative way of working.

    SUAREZ: Do you let people know you're taking their picture? Do you approach them and introduce yourself or is this after the fact?

    LOWENSTEIN: People are always aware you're taking their picture. You can't hide, especially with this camera, which is big. It's a big camera so you can't hide from it. So people -- a lot of the time I take a lot of portraits and people really like the portraits because they get to have the picture right there. They get to decide where they want me to take the picture with them.

    The violence is only one part of what I'm doing. You know, I take pictures of families, of family events, of school, of life on the street, portraits, houses coming down, projects coming down -- all the different things going on that are impacting this city that's being built and changed in the South Side. So the photography I do with the camera I use is definitely a part of that, it's a part of my commitment to the community and a way of working that's more collaborative than just simply popping in, taking a picture and then leaving.

    SUAREZ: I think the passersby, the bystanders, the people that are mirroring the action on the street when you take their picture remind us that on any given day most people are just trying to get over, just trying to live their lives. And then there's a few moments of convulsive violence and the end of a life. And most people aren't involved in it, most people have nothing to do with it. They may be the downstream victims of it, but it's not really what their lives have been about until just a few seconds ago.

    LOWENSTEIN: That's the scary thing about violence. It happens quick. It happens really fast, but the repercussions are long lasting. And they tear at the fabric of the community, the social fabric, so when you have, swhen someone gets shot, that creates distance within the community.

    So that's what I try to do. I try to show the impact of political policy, economic policy on individuals and what it looks like to live in a place like this, which is a great community. The South Side has a whole lot of great communities, a lot of great people, but it also has a lot of really heartbreaking and tough things going on.

    SUAREZ: Well, Jon, good to talk to you, and thanks for giving us a peek into your process.

    LOWENSTEIN: Hey, thank you so much, I really appreciate it. I hope we can make the world a little better.

    SUAREZ: Good to talk to you.

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    Homes in the Rockaways, N.Y., were severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Photo by Spencer Platt/ Getty Images.

    Last fall Hurricane Sandy crippled sections of the East Coast of North America. It left New York City and cities in New Jersey with damages totaling in the billions of dollars. And the fallout from that super storm continues, as displaced residents are still looking for housing, according to a recent report from The Huffington Post.

    Wednesday on the PBS NewsHour, Judith Rodin of the Rockefeller Foundation and Tomas Regalado, mayor of Miami, discuss how major cities are preparing for future disasters -- not just hurricanes, but floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, snowstorms, droughts and even blackouts.

    Recently the Rockefeller Foundation announced a $35 million grant program to help cities develop disaster preparedness plans and to ensure resilient cities that can bounce back.

    As part of the NewsHour's Coping with Climate Change series, we've followed how extreme weather events are already affecting communities. Here's a look at some of those reports:

    Protecting New York From Future Superstorms as Sea Levels Rise

    Watch Video

    When Hurricane Sandy barreled through New York, the city had no protective barriers to keep the water out. Engineers are going back to the drawing board, looking at plans to prevent another flood.

    Battleground Dispatches -Norfolk, Va Prepares for Rising Seas

    Watch Video

    Hurricane Sandy left the city of Norfolk, Va., wondering, is rebuilding worth it? NewsHour's Mike Melia asks Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim about how the city should rebuild, keeping an eye on the rising sea levels on the Virginia coast.

    Will Your City Be Underwater? There's a Map for That

    Climate Central drew a map of the United States, looking at where rising sea levels and extreme flooding put communities at risk. You can explore the map here or view the report below:

    Watch Video

    Louisiana Fishermen Pioneer Floating Architecture

    Watch Video

    Fishermen on the vulnerable Louisiana coast are designing homes to keep on top of rising sea levels.

    From Rooftop to Alleyway, Chicago Fights Extreme Urban Heat With Greener Ideas

    Watch Video

    After coping with deadly heat waves, Chicago is designing green roofs to cool the city and prepare for intense summers in the future. You can also check out our conversation with urban planner Peter Calthorpe on how trees are the key to keeping cities cool:

    Watch Video

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    Photo courtesy: Flickr user Josiah Mackenzie

    There's new evidence out today that being fit reduces your risk for getting cancer.

    The study, released at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting, looked at the link between fitness in middle-aged men and the likelihood of a cancer diagnosis later in life.

    Doctors focused on the top three cancers in men: prostate, colorectal and lung. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 400,000 men were diagnosed with one of these cancers in 2007.

    The study tracked 7,000 healthy, 45-year old men. Their fitness was assessed during their regular preventive health exam by putting them on the treadmill. How far -- and how well they were able to tolerate increases in the speed and grade of the treadmill -- determined how "fit" they were.

    Two decades later, when the men were 65, doctors looked at who had developed cancer and compared that to their previous fitness levels. They saw a link -- "fit" individuals were less likely to develop cancer, and if they did develop it, they generally had better prognoses.

    "That's what's really sort of amazing is that there's really no other population where we have the assessment back in time, when they were in their middle age," according to Dr. Susan Lakoski, the study's primary author. "We followed them all the way to past the age of 65 and beyond to track whether or not they've developed cancer to see what this relationship was between fitness and cancer risk."

    The study began in 1970 at the Cooper Center Longitudinal Studies in Dallas. The participants were predominantly Caucasian.

    Dr. Lakoski focuses on cardiovascular health among cancer patients. She spoke with PBS NewsHour earlier this week.

    PBS NewsHour: In a nutshell, what did the study reveal?

    Dr. Susan Lakoski, University of Vermont College of Medicine: The study shows that cardiorespiratory fitness predicts cancer risk and prognosis after a cancer diagnosis in men. This is a new finding, because traditionally patients self-report their physical activity. But in our study, we measured it with an objective exercise sonar test.

    This is the first study that really addresses the issue of fitness being a prognostic marker of cancer risk in men, and then a marker of prognosis after a cancer diagnosis. We specifically looked at if "fitness," or the ability to get on a treadmill and go as far as you can, predicted whether or not you'll develop cancer. And it did predict it. So people who had lower fitness, or went less time on the treadmill, were more at risk for developing cancer later in life.

    NewsHour: What's the difference between physical activity and fitness?

    Dr. Susan Lakoski: Physical activity is one part of fitness, and so when you are being physically active and you're working out, you're contributing to your overall fitness. When we ask the participants to get on a treadmill, we're measuring their cardiorespiratory or cardiopulmonary fitness. That's the efficiency of oxygen consumption during maximum exercise. Fitness from a clinical standpoint is really, we're going to see how far you can go on this treadmill, and how well you do -- that tells us whether or not you're going to live longer after a cancer diagnosis, or whether you'll develop cancer in the first place.

    There are lots of different activities that go into what someone's fitness is -- your exercise training, whether it's running or walking, all are contributing to your fitness. So there's lots of different physical activities you could do to improve your fitness.

    NewsHour: How did you measure their fitness?

    Dr. Susan Lakoski: One of the real strengths of this study, because we did it in more than 7,000 men, at baseline, instead of asking them, "How much did you exercise?" We didn't do that, we actually got them on a treadmill and increased the grade on the treadmill, the speed of the treadmill, over time to see how far they could go. So it was a very accurate way to look at exercise exposure instead of just asking them, "How much do you exercise?"

    NewsHour: Is there any way to know what causes this reduced link of cancer from exercising?

    Dr. Susan Lakoski: Your fitness is your ability to be efficient at getting oxygen to all of your organs. And we know that being efficient and getting oxygen to all of your organs is very important in modulating different pathways involved in inflammation, hormone levels, immune surveillance, oxidative damage. All of these things play into reducing cancer risk. We did not assess those pathways in this particular study, but what we did show was that fitness does reduce the risk of cancer.

    NewsHour: Have there been other studies looking at, generally, exercise and cancer?

    Dr. Susan Lakoski: Yes, there have been some studies done on physical activity and cancer risk. In those studies, there's been supportive data to show that physical activity reduces risk for breast cancer, colorectal cancer, there's some controversy on prostate cancer risk.

    NewsHour: Explain the controversy.

    Dr. Susan Lakoski: It's very hard to measure someone's physical activity. I can ask you, how active were you in middle age? What were you doing? How often were you doing it? What intensity were you doing it? You would get a lot of different answers and a lot of different recall bias, because people don't remember or they might tweak a little what they're actually doing in terms of physical activity. And because of that, the measure of physical activity is a little bit messy, and we can't see the signal between physical activity and cancer risk as powerfully because our measure, our questionnaire, is not that great.

    So that's why fitness, where we're actually measuring someone's exercise exposure, with a treadmill test is a much more powerful predictor because it's not based on someone's recollection of their physical activities. It's based on how well they do on a treadmill test, which is highly determined by their past physical activity exposure.

    NewsHour: Can you tell if it's the fitness that is reducing their cancer risk, or some other factor like weight, or smoking?

    Dr. Susan Lakoski: When we did the study, we adjusted and accounted for other factors. We accounted for smoking, we accounted for body weight, so that it wasn't just if something's related to an outcome and we put BMI in the model and that relationship goes away, we can see with confidence that fitness is not really related to the outcome of interest. But when we accounted for those things - or things that might be related - we saw that fitness was equally predictive of outcomes. And so, that's the best we can do in an epidemiological study.

    NewsHour: Bottom line, what would you tell your patients or other patients to do?

    Dr. Susan Lakoski: In terms of what patients and clinicians should do, I feel that our focus should be on not only on our standard predictors, but we now know that being fit is very important in reducing risk for chronic illness, specifically for cardiovascular disease and now for men. So the focus should also be fitness, irrespective of your body weight. And that you can get your fitness assessed by seeing your primary care doctor and/or a doctor that specializes in cardio-oncology, which is what I am. So the message is, be fit.

    NewsHour: What's next?

    Dr. Susan Lakoski: We need to determine what specific pathways are associated with fitness and cancer risk, and we need to do this study across all different cancers in men and women.

    I'm also a very big proponent of bringing exercise tolerance testing to assess fitness in a broader range of populations. We do it very well in the cardiovascular population, but now every cancer patient that comes to see me, I'm putting them on the treadmill and assessing their fitness. Because I know that fitness is an important tool to assess your ability to get through their cancer treatment, and also their prognosis after a cancer diagnosis. And so I think this is going to be a very useful tool as we go forward in the cancer setting, but it's not really utilized at this point. That's our goal down the road.

    This conversation was lightly edited for clarity. Photo of Dr. Lakoski courtesy of ASCO and the University of Vermont College of Medicine.

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    GWEN IFILL: Twin political storms gathered more force today over potential misdeeds at the IRS and the seizure of reporters' phone records.

    The attorney general faced questions before the House Judiciary Committee, and the administration came under new criticism.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio: Now, my question isn't about who's going to resign. My question is, who is going to jail over this scandal?

    GWEN IFILL: House Speaker John Boehner led the way this morning, as Republicans stepped up demands for action in the scandal at the Internal Revenue Service.

    JOHN BOEHNER: There are laws in place to prevent this type of abuse. Someone made a conscious decision to harass and to hold up these requests for tax-exempt status.

    GWEN IFILL: That followed last night's release of a report from a Treasury Department's inspector general. It found “the IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review tea party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions.”

    And there was more. USA Today reported that during the same period, the IRS approved perhaps dozens of applications from similar liberal and progressive groups.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky.: Mr. President ...

    GWEN IFILL: On the Senate floor, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pressed the White House to make sure the IRS cooperates fully with congressional investigators.

    MITCH MCCONNELL: These allegations are very serious, that there was an effort to bring the power of the federal government to bear on those the administration disagreed with in the middle of a heated national election. It actually could be, could be criminal. And we're determined to get the answers.

    GWEN IFILL: McConnell and the other 44 Republicans in the Senate signed a letter to President Obama demanding full compliance.

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today the president is committed to getting to the bottom of what happened.

    JAY CARNEY, White House Press Secretary: He expects people to be held accountable if they engaged in inappropriate activity, inappropriate conduct. He expects the Treasury Department and the IRS to take all the necessary actions to ensure that this kind of thing cannot happen again.

    GWEN IFILL: Attorney General Eric Holder has already begun a criminal investigation into the IRS matter, but some lawmakers see larger patterns at work.

    Republican Congressman Steve Chabot of Ohio:

    REP. STEVE CHABOT, R-Ohio: I believe there has been a pattern by this administration in not taking responsibility for failures, avoiding blame, pointing the fingers in somebody else's direction. Would you agree with that?


    STEVE CHABOT: I thought you might say that. I think a lot of people do, including myself, and I think a lot of members of this committee. And we might be divided, obviously. But these are very significant things which have occurred here. And I would strongly encourage this administration to get out front, get all the facts out, let the chips fall where they may. ERIC HOLDER: I would agree with that last -- the last part of your statement. It is one of the reasons why I ordered the investigation last Friday.

    And I can assure you and the American people that we will take a dispassionate view of this. This will not be about parties. This will not be about ideological persuasions. Anybody who has broken the law will be held accountable.

    GWEN IFILL: Still, House Republicans have frequently accused Holder of stonewalling their investigations, even citing him for contempt. That bad blood was on sharp display when Holder's leading critic, California Congressman Darrell Issa, complained the department failed to hand over e-mails in another matter involving the Civil Rights Division.

    ERIC HOLDER: I will certainly look at the request. It's not something I have personally been involved in, but I will look at the request and try to be as responsive as we can. I'm sure there must have been a good reason why only the to and from parts were provided.

    REP. DARRELL ISSA, R-Calif.: Yes, you didn't want us to see the details. Mr. Attorney General, in knowing the to and from -- knowing the to and from ...

    ERIC HOLDER: No, no, that's what you typically do. No, I'm not going to stop talking now.

    You characterize something as something ...

    DARRELL ISSA: Mr. Chairman, would you inform the witness as to the rules of this committee?

    ERIC HOLDER: ... that is inappropriate and is too consistent with the way in which you conduct yourself as a member of Congress. It's unacceptable, and it's shameful.

    GWEN IFILL: Holder also faced criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle about the Justice Department's decision to subpoena phone records from the Associated Press.

    It's part of an investigation into leaks about a failed terror plot last year. The attorney general says he recused himself from the probe early on, because he was one of the officials who had access to the information that was leaked.

    Instead, he named his deputy, James Cole, to handle the matter, and Cole, in turn, made the decision to seek the phone records.

    California Democrat Zoe Lofgren pressed him on that decision.

    ERIC HOLDER: Well, this is both an ongoing matter and an ongoing matter about which I know nothing. So I'm not in a position really to answer that question.

    But here's what I do think. I do think that at the conclusion of this matter, and when I can be back involved in it, that given the -- the attention that it has generated, that some kind of after-action analysis would be appropriate.

    REP. ZOE LOFGREN, D-Calif.: But it seems to me the damage done to a free press is substantial and will continue until corrective action is taken.

    And I would hope that we might be able to further pursue this, Mr. Chairman, and get some clarification on future action either through legislative efforts or through further revision of the code of federal regulation by the administration, because I think this is a very serious matter that I think concerns all of us, no matter our party affiliation.

    GWEN IFILL: White House officials, meanwhile, said the administration will support new efforts to pass a media shield law.

    And on the IRS scandal, the agency's acting commissioner, Steven Miller, is due to testify before the House Ways and Means Committee Friday. 

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    KWAME HOLMAN: The White House has released 100 pages of e-mails and notes on the fatal attack on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya. The documents describe how officials developed talking points about the attack.

    Last week, it came out that State Department officials and others lobbied to remove references to al-Qaida and previous warnings. White House officials deny there was any intent to deceive the public.

    The U.N. General Assembly called again today for a political transition in Syria, but with less support than before. An Arab-backed resolution condemned President Bashar Assad and his troops for using heavy weapons during the more-than-two-year-long conflict; 107 of the 193 member nations approved the declaration. Last year, 133 nations supported a similar resolution.

    A series of bombings across Iraq today killed at least 33 people. It started in the northern city of Kirkuk, where two car bombs exploded in the same area an hour apart. Seven people were killed, including two children. Later, bombs exploded in a Shiite -- in Shiite sections of Baghdad. Two dozen Iraqis died there. Scores more were wounded.

    Palestinians today marked the 65th anniversary of the Nakba, or Catastrophe, the name for the displacement of Palestinians during the 1948 war over Israel's creation. Tens of thousands marched in rallies across Gaza and the West Bank. In East Jerusalem, Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli police officers. A police spokesman said 19 demonstrators were arrested.

    NASA may be losing one of its stars, the Kepler orbiting telescope. Kepler searches the heavens for other planets, but the space agency said today the telescope has lost the ability to control its position. If the problem can't be fixed, Kepler's planet-hunting days will be over. Since 2009, the telescope has discovered 132 planets and spotted signs of another 2,700 possible planets.

    Wall Street kept up its forward progress today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 60 points to close at 15,275. The Nasdaq rose nine points to close at 3,471.

    Those are some of the day's major stories -- now back to Gwen.


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