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- 05/31/13--15:31: _Jordan Struggles wi...
- 05/31/13--15:40: _Shields and Brooks ...
- 05/31/13--16:06: _Shields and Brooks ...
- 06/03/13--05:54: _Will Government Pro...
- 06/03/13--07:26: _New Jersey Sen. Fra...
- 06/03/13--08:35: _Can You Take More T...
- 06/03/13--09:33: _Supreme Court Rules...
- 06/03/13--11:47: _The Daily Frame
- 06/03/13--11:56: _Weekly Poem: Charle...
- 06/03/13--12:08: _Billy Bragg, the Sh...
- 06/03/13--13:00: _Health Reform's Unc...
- 06/03/13--13:15: _From the Archives: ...
- 06/03/13--15:03: _High Court Says Pol...
- 06/03/13--15:09: _News Wrap: Fort Hoo...
- 06/03/13--15:17: _In Turkey, Police R...
- 06/03/13--15:18: _Swift Spread of Pro...
- 06/03/13--15:23: _Hezbollah's Role in...
- 06/03/13--15:34: _Trial Begins for Br...
- 06/03/13--15:45: _Writer Advocates 'C...
- 06/03/13--15:46: _Frank Lautenberg, S...
- 05/31/13--16:06: Shields and Brooks on Bachmann's Retirement, Yankee Favoritism
- 06/03/13--05:54: Will Government Probes Crowd Out Policy Debates?
- 06/03/13--07:26: New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg Dies at Age 89
- 06/03/13--08:35: Can You Take More Than One Social Security Benefit at a Time?
- 06/03/13--09:33: Supreme Court Rules Police Can Swab for DNA Upon Arrest
- 06/03/13--11:47: The Daily Frame
- 06/03/13--11:56: Weekly Poem: Charles Hood Reads 'FSA'
- 06/03/13--12:08: Billy Bragg, the Sherpa of Heartbreak
- 06/03/13--13:00: Health Reform's Uncertain Impact on HIV Patients
- 06/03/13--15:17: In Turkey, Police Response to Small Sit-in Inspires Mass Protests
- 06/03/13--15:18: Swift Spread of Protests Underline 'Wide Social Divisions' in Turkey
- 06/03/13--15:23: Hezbollah's Role in the Bloody Syrian War Comes at a Price
- 06/03/13--15:34: Trial Begins for Bradley Manning Over Leaked Classified Documents
- 06/03/13--15:45: Writer Advocates 'Clean' Start for America on Addiction
Watch Video NewsHour Political Editor Christina Bellantoni guest-hosts the Doubleheader with Mark Shields and David Brooks
Mark Shields and David Brooks made a triumphant return to the Doubleheader Friday and I filled the host chair as Hari Sreenivasan is off getting married!
The "sport of politics" kicked off with talk of one former Republican and a soon-to-be-former member of Congress. David thinks retiring Rep. Michele Bachmann is a media creation, and Mark said he thinks he over-estimated her rise when she won the Ames, Iowa, presidential straw poll in 2011.
In the "politics of sport" section, David demonstrated his Mets pride, and Mark compared the Miami Heat to the Yankees.
Relatedly, this week Team Politics went on a field trip to watch the Nationals crush the Orioles. (Woo!)
And as discussed the last time I hosted the Doubleheader, the NewsHour's No Commercials, No Mercy team met our goal for a 3-mile charity run -- to out-run a senator. Turns out we out-ran a bunch to earn our fourth-place finish in the ACLI Capital Challenge.
Finally, as you may have heard Judy Woodruff mention on the show, we're hosting a special "Doubleheader Live" version on June 21. We will be streaming live from our newsroom and you can join in: leave questions for Mark and David below, or tweet us at @NewsHour using the hashtag #Doubleheaderlive. Join us!
This video was shot and edited by Joshua Barajas and Justin Scuiletti.
Tea party activists protest against the IRS last month in West Palm Beach, Fla. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.
Official Washington begins the month of June with a massive agenda set against a backdrop of scandal politics that have kept the White House on the defensive and won't be letting up any time soon.
On the docket are major policy debates and fiscal fights, but chances are most attention will go to a trio of government probes.
As lawmakers return to the capital following a weeklong Memorial Day holiday, Politico predicts that "scandals -- the Internal Revenue Service, Benghazi, media subpoenas and the fate of Attorney General Eric Holder -- still dominate the headlines and agenda."
The Treasury inspector general for tax administration is expected to release a new report Tuesday showing the IRS spent nearly $50 million on 220 conferences from 2010 to 2013, including one Anaheim, Calif., convention that cost about $4 million and featured some rather unusual training videos.
The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe details the findings in a story that mentions both "Star Trek" and the "Cupid Shuffle." It's no hot tub but will certainly get as much attention as last year's probe of the General Services Administration.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the IRS "took the unusual step of trying to impose gift taxes on donors to a prominent conservative advocacy group formed in 2007 to build support for President George W. Bush's Iraq troop surge."
House Republicans will mount new hearings Tuesday and Thursday in an attempt to get to the bottom of who knew what and when.
At the same time, the Senate returns to consideration of the farm bill this week. Lawmakers are facing pressure over proposed cuts to the food stamp program known as SNAP, and there's little agreement between the House and Senate on the issue.
Next week, senators will turn to immigration reform. (More on that below.)
The New York Times dubs the week a "critical juncture." Jonathan Weisman writes:
For President Obama, how those competing priorities balance out could mean the difference between securing a landmark accomplishment -- the first overhaul of the nation's immigration laws since 1986 -- or becoming consumed by charges of scandal.
But for his part, the president is focusing on his own agenda, "rather than let Congress command attention," Weisman writes.
On Monday, Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will host a national conference on mental health at the White House, bringing together advocates, care providers, educators and others. On Tuesday, Mr. Obama will host President Sebastián Pinera of Chile at the White House.
The president will travel to Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday to talk about middle-class jobs and then fly to California for a summit meeting Friday with President Xi Jinping of China at Sunnylands, the Walter and Leonore Annenberg estate in the Palm Springs area. It will be their first meeting since Mr. Xi's ascension, with issues like economics, North Korea and cybersecurity on the agenda.
With some in Congress spoiling for a fight, a renewed battle for disaster relief aid following the tornadoes in Oklahoma, and an uncertain fiscal outlook with no visible prospects of agreement on the budget, it's looking to be an interesting summer.
It's immigration crunch time. The immigration reform package will see a debate in the Senate beginning June 10. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., predicted Sunday that a sweeping immigration reform measure will pass the Senate by the July 4th holiday.
Voters aren't as sure. More than 70 percent of those surveyed in a Quinnipiac University poll don't expect Congress to forge a final deal that results in immigration reform reaching Mr. Obama's desk.
That doesn't mean the leaders of the Gang of Eight, particularly Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., aren't trying. He is preparing a plan to give Congress more power on setting U.S-Mexico border security strategies, Carrie Budoff Brown and Seung Min Kim of Politico report. The plan could appease Republicans wary on the current bill. Tougher border security measures could also make it harder to keep progressives at the table.
"Rubio doesn't see how the current version of the legislation gets enough votes to break a filibuster, let alone the 70-plus votes that Gang of Eight leaders want. Republicans view border security as a threshold issue, and many have told him that the requirements must be tightened before they can even consider backing the bill, Rubio has said," they write.
USA Today addresses the pathway to citizenship measures, a keystone of the reform bill that could help legalize some of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. Another sticking point for conservatives may be allowing immigrants to seek citizenship before the country meets its border security goals.
From the story: "Immigrant rights leaders say they don't want border security requirements that are so rigid they are impossible to meet. If those requirements are tied to citizenship, then millions of people would remain here with no hope of ever becoming citizens or even legal permanent residents, immigrant rights leaders say."
Former President George W Bush, who attempted to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people during his presidency, chimed in to the debate and criticized the political climate that has made politicians more sensitive to immigration reform.
"I think the atmosphere, unlike when I tried it, is better [for a bill's passage], maybe for the wrong reason. The right reason is it's important to reform a broken system. I'm not sure a right reason is that in so doing we win votes," he told the Huffington Post's Jon Ward.
The NewsHour has hosted a series of discussions about the bill proposed in the U.S. Senate. Last week, correspondent Ray Suarez interviewed two local law enforcement officers in borderlands on what they would need to secure their sections of the U.S.-Mexico line. Although they had different perspectives on what to do generally, both sheriffs' officers said they need more resources.
Watch the conversation here or below:Watch Video
We have more features covering the debate on our special immigration page. Our series "Inside Immigration Reform" has also highlighted provisions for highly skilled workers and the situations the unskilled labor market faces.
Stay tuned for the next installment -- a debate about the cost of creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people.
Some provisions in the law will affect smaller groups of immigrants. For instance, Filipinos who are children of World War II veterans could find an easier path to the United States because of the bill, Southern California Public Radio reports.
NewsHour's Student Reporting Labs produced this video on the effect of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, on students in Texas:
The latest in the ricin investigation [has officials looking to Texas],(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/01/ricin-lettersn3372453.html) following a series of letters sent to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's gun control group and the White House.
Mr. Obama on Friday asked young people to pressure lawmakers to adopt his budget that would stop student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1. The NewsHour asked an expert on student debt and leaders of millennial generation advocacy groups on the left and right for their solutions on the student loan system. Watch that conversation.
Here is a cool timeline from the National Journal showing Rep. Michele Bachmann's career rise, right up to her retirement announcement last week. Roll Call examined what the Republican's decision not to seek re-election means for Minnesota's 6th district, especially since her Democratic rival dropped his own bid, too.
In a new ad that pushes back against Bloomberg's gun control campaign, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., says, "No one from New York or Washington tells me what to do."
The Democrat-Gazette paints the scene in the courtroom on former Arkansas treasurer Martha Shoffner, whose guilty plea for accepting cash bribes to steer official state business to a bond broker was rejected Friday. The Associated Press has more here.
New Mexico GOP Gov. Susana Martinez's former campaign manager was indicted for allegedly hacking the campaign's email.
A bill that would legalize gay marriage in Illinois was delayed by the state House of Representatives.
Bloomberg News highlights young Republicans in Tennessee who support same-sex marriage.
Longtime Democratic staffer Jesse Ferguson, now with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, goes public with his fight against cancer.
Former Rep. Majorie Margolis, Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law, will run for a congressional seat in Pennsylvania.
Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican, officially became a Democrat.
The left-leaning Public Policy Polling has a new survey of Virginia's gubernatorial contest showing Democrat Terry McAuliffe ahead of Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, 42 percent to 37 percent. But both men are unpopular.
Bolstered numbers of female lawmakers on the Hill underscore the power of the purse.
The man who had planned an armed march into Washington has scrapped the idea after all.
Reuters reports that an 8-year-old Maryland boy "who was suspended from school for nibbling a pastry snack into the shape of a gun has been given a junior membership in the National Rifle Association."
Fox News' Megyn Kelly and Erick Erickson have an epic argument about the role of female breadwinners.
Mr. Obama will honor the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday. (And yes, inclusion of this link totally shows Christina can be the bigger woman.)
Playing the washboard, drawing the U.S. map and writing about horse sex: You'll be surprised by at least one of these special talents of U.S. senators.
Bush paints cats, too!
Your latest installment of posts about the June 26 Congressional Women's Softball Game. If you're in Washington, stop by our Monday night happy hour fundraiser for the charity game to say hi to Christina and other members of the Bad News Babes press team.
NEWSHOUR ROUNDUPMark Shields and David Brooks talk with Judy Woodruff about the delicate situation in Syria, Mr. Obama's expected FBI director nomination and the state of the tea party. Watch here or below: Watch Video Christina is filling in as host of the Doubleheader with Mark and David while Hari Sreenivasan is on his honeymoon. On tap: Bachmann follies and David's love of the Mets. Watch here or below:
On Friday, the NewsHour paid tribute to our own Julian Dawkins, killed last month by an off-duty deputy sheriff. Gwen Ifill spoke at his memorial service as hundreds turned out to say farewell to someone we remember as a kind colleague.
Students from Fort Mill High School in South Carolina explored what effects new gun regulations may have on Second Amendment rights.
We're close to naming the winners of our science rap contest. Check out the finalists.
Judy Woodruff took your questions in a live chat.
Gwen remembered Haynes Johnson on Washington Week.
Last week, Christina guest-hosted for Kojo Nnamdi on WAMU. There were five segments over the two days. For Tech Tuesday the topic was travel technology, and on Food Wednesday she interviewed Pati Jinich, who hosts a PBS show on Mexican cooking. There also were segments on community-funded development, how local governments are attempting to boost turnout in municipal elections and the hidden treasures buried under D.C.'s soil.
Why is Issa releasing only partial IRS interview transcripts? When do we get the full thing? oversight.house.gov/release/issa-t...— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) June 3, 2013
NM Gov. Susana Martinez having a big DC fundraiser this week w/ Boehner, McConnell, WH'16 potentials -- abqjournal.com/main/2013/06/0...— Reid Wilson (@HotlineReid) June 3, 2013
Politico made big move last night in hiring Susan Glasser to lead long-form, opinion expansion: huff.to/18LSCOM— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) June 3, 2013
And now for something completely different...here's a video of a cat saying my name. Happy Friday! ow.ly/1WEHtH— Al Gore (@algore) May 24, 2013
Fast and Furious #ObamaScandalMovies— Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS (@RepGosar) May 24, 2013
Simone Pathe contributed to this report.
For more political coverage, visit our politics page.
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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.
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WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a multimillionaire New Jersey businessman and the last World War II veteran remaining in the Senate, has died at age 89.
His office said Lautenberg died shortly after 4 a.m. EDT on Monday at a New York hospital after suffering complications from viral pneumonia.
Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg in 2011. Official photo by U.S. Senate.Lautenberg, who had been called out of retirement for a second tour of duty in Congress, announced in February that he would not seek a sixth term. The Democrat had health problems in recent years and had missed several Senate votes in the first months of the year. He had the flu and missed the Senate's Jan. 1 (2013) vote to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff of rising taxes and falling government spending, then missed several votes two months later because of leg pain.
A chest cold kept him from attending a May 29, 2013 tribute in New York honoring him for his contributions to the Jewish community and Israel.
He had been diagnosed in February 2010 with B-cell lymphoma of the stomach and underwent chemotherapy treatments until he was declared in June 2010 to be free of cancer. He worked between the treatments. The diagnosis came just days after the death of West Virginia's Robert Byrd made Lautenberg the oldest member of the Senate.
Republican Gov. Chris Christie would appoint a successor to Lautenberg.
Lautenberg was a staunch gun control advocate and frequent critic of the tobacco industry, and he fought for greater government spending on transportation and the environment. He wrote the laws banning smoking on domestic airline flights and setting the national minimum drinking age of 21.
Along with Lautenberg's legislative accomplishments, he had a string of electoral coups, including an upset over someone he called "the most popular candidate in the country" in his first race for Senate, and a victory in a strange, abbreviated, back-from-retirement campaign 20 years later. He initially retired in 2000 after 18 years in the Senate, saying he did not have the drive to raise money for a fourth campaign. He served on the boards of three companies, two graduate schools and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
But New Jersey Democrats recruited Lautenberg out of retirement in September 2002 as an 11th-hour replacement for Robert Torricelli, Lautenberg's longtime rival, who had abandoned his re-election bid just five weeks before Election Day.
Republicans went to court to prevent what they called the Democratic Party's ballot "switcheroo." When that failed, they attacked Lautenberg as a political relic ill-suited for dangerous times.
But Lautenberg surged to an easy win over Republican Douglas Forrester and returned to the Senate in 2003 at age 78, resuming his role as a leading liberal, and he made it clear that his return to office was no mere cameo.
When Democrats regained a Senate majority in 2007, he returned to the powerful Appropriations Committee, on which he had served for 15 years.
At age 84, he beat back a Democratic primary challenge in 2008 and went on to another easy win in the November general election. It made him the first New Jersey person ever elected to five Senate terms.
"People don't give a darn about my age," Lautenberg said. "They know I'm vigorous. They know I've got plenty of energy."
RelatedFrom the NewsHour Archives: Frank Lautenberg on Drinking Age, Secondhand Smoke
Photo courtesy of Jim McGuire via Getty Images.
Larry Kotlikoff's Social Security original 34 "secrets", his additional secrets, his Social Security "mistakes" and his Social Security gotchas have prompted so many of you to write in that we now feature "Ask Larry" every Monday. We are determined to continue it until the queries stop or we run through the particular problems of all 78 million Baby Boomers, whichever comes first. Kotlikoff's state-of-the-art retirement software is available here, for free, in its "basic" version.
Sally McFarland -- Middletown, R.I.: I am a federal employee with 15 years service. I am planning on retiring at 19 years when I reach age 66. Some of my coworkers are insisting I will not get both my federal retirement and Social Security -- that I must take one or the other. Is that true?
Larry Kotlikoff: Not if you have 40 quarters of covered earnings history under Social Security, it's not: 40 quarters of a year in which you had earnings on which you and your employer paid the Social Security tax. If you did that, you're entitled to Social Security benefits. And if I am reading your numbers correctly, you're now 62 and only began working for the federal government at age 47. So you had plenty of time to accrue those 40 quarters or 10 years' worth of Social Security earnings.
Perhaps your co-workers are referring to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The WEP can reduce, but not wipe out, the benefits to which you are entitled.
This said, you appear to have started work as a federal employee after 1986. If this is true, and you have paid Social Security taxes for the requisite 40 quarters, your Social Security benefits will not be affected by the WEP.
Sherm Fairbairn -- Fairbairn, Calif.: I have been a teacher in California for 13 years and am now 62. My penalty is offset upon payment of California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) retirement of 66 percent of Social Security. Should I take it now and in full? Or wait until I retire? I'm confused. Also, how about my spousal benefit based on my wife's Social Security record? Do I lose that?
Larry Kotlikoff: You have a pension coming from work not covered by Social Security -- i.e., work earnings which were not subject to Social Security taxes. Once you start receiving your non-covered pension, your own Social Security benefit will be reduced due to the WEP. As for your spousal benefit based on your wife's, it will be reduced due to the Government Pension Offset provision (GPO). So, in order to maximize your Social Security benefits, you should probably take your retirement and spousal benefit starting immediately and wait as long as possible to take your non-covered pension.MORE FROM LARRY KOTLIKOFF: The Perils of Taking Your Social Security Benefits Too Early
Denise -- Palm Bay, Fla.: I am receiving Social Security disability for myself, but I lost my husband in 2008. Am I able to be collecting widow's benefits and my own Social Security disability?
Larry Kotlikoff: Disabled widow(er)s can get survivor benefits based on the work histories of their deceased spouses as early as age 50. If you take your survivor benefit between age 50 and 60, it will be reduced by 28.5 percent relative to what you would receive were you to wait until full retirement age.
But here's an important secret I learned from former Social Security technical expert Jerry Lutz, with whom I check over my answers, especially with respect to disability benefits. (This said, I, not Jerry, am responsible for any mistakes in my answers.)
If you take your disabled widow's benefit between ages 50 and 60, your total benefit will be calculated as your disability benefit plus .715 (the applicable early survivor benefit reduction factor) times the difference between your deceased husband's primary insurance amount (PIA) and your own PIA.
The PIA is the full retirement benefit to which a worker is or was entitled. So if your husband's PIA exceeds yours, you get this excess survivor benefit in addition to your disability benefit right through full retirement age.
And here's the secret: if you take your disabled widow's benefit between age 50 and 60, the .715 reduction factor goes away when you reach full retirement age. This means your total benefit will increase and become equal to your husband's primary insurance amount. So you don't lose anything by starting to take your disabled widow's survivor benefit as soon as you can between 50 and 60.
If you become disabled after age 60 and then your spouse dies, you can get reduced disabled widow's benefits. But the reduction doesn't go away when you reach full retirement age.
In addition, your total benefit is calculated as your own disability benefit plus the difference between A., your spouse's PIA multiplied by the relevant reduction factor and B., your PIA.
This formula is less generous. The system is treating disabled workers whose spouses die before the disabled worker reaches age 60 better than disabled workers whose spouses die after age 60.
When you reach full retirement age, the 28.5 percent reduction factor goes away, at which point you start receiving 100 percent of your survivor benefit. Hence, there is no advantage to waiting to collect your survivor benefit once you have reached age 50.
One caveat. This feature -- that you get to collect full survivor benefits starting at full retirement age -- only applies if your disability benefits began before or in the same month as you became entitled to collect a widow's benefit and you started to collect your survivor benefit sometime between ages 50 and 60.
Champak Patel -- Atlanta, Ga.: I am a 68 year-old male and my wife turned 66 this month. I can get $2,800 a month. She can, on her own, receive $175. Should we apply, and I withdraw to have her 50 percent of my benefits? I am planning to work one or two more years and pay maximum Social Security.
Larry Kotlikoff: Yes, this is one of the most useful "secrets" I've revealed over the 10 months I've been writing this column: what I call the File-and-Suspend strategy. You should file for your retirement benefit and then suspend its collection until age 70, when you will begin to take it.
Your wife should file just for her spousal benefit and wait until 70 to collect her retirement benefit. From the sound of it, your wife has had a low earnings history. So her check, at age 70, may not increase because she takes her own retirement benefit. That's because she gets that, plus the excess spousal benefit.
Your age-70 retirement benefit will equal your full retirement benefit kicked up by a 32 percent factor reflecting the application of the delayed retirement credit. The excess spousal benefit will equal half of your full retirement benefit minus her age-70 retirement benefit. If the excess spousal benefit is positive, the total benefit she'll get will just equal half of your full retirement benefit.
This raises an issue that drives me crazy. Whenever your wife does apply for her own retirement benefit -- either now or anytime between now and age 70 -- Social Security will describe the total benefit as the sum of her retirement benefit and her assumed positive excess spousal benefit. In fact, however, her retirement benefit is completely eliminated because of the spousal benefit.
This feature of Social Security is among the nastiest of its terribly unfair gotchas. Low-earning spouses can work every day of every week or every year, pay Social Security taxes on all their earnings, and end up with absolutely nothing more as a result of all those contributions compared to a spouse who spends his or her entire life sitting at home watching the soaps and collecting the very same spousal benefit. And on top of this injustice, Social Security has the chutzpah to tell the low-earning spouse that she's getting her own retirement benefit.
Joseph Toka, Santa Rosa, Calif.: My wife is 100 percent disabled. She receives Social Security Disability and is on Medicare. I'm planning for my retirement in two years at age 62. My plan is to take Social Security at 62 to pay for our medical coverage from my employer, which is an HMO, to bridge us to my age of 65, when I can get Medicare coverage for the rest of my life. What are the consequences of my plan for our retirement? My wife is 53 and I'm 60.
Larry Kotlikoff: This is a reasonable plan, given your circumstances. When you reach full retirement age, you can suspend your retirement benefit and then start it up again at age 70 at a 32 percent higher "real" level - adjusted for inflation, that is.
As for your wife, when she reaches full retirement age, she can stop taking her current benefit -- otherwise her disability benefit will automatically turn into her retirement benefit -- and she can then apply for a spousal benefit only. Because she will have stopped taking her disability benefit, she'll get her full spousal benefit. This will equal half of your full retirement benefit.
A very important note: she'll need to pay her Medicare Part B premiums out-of-pocket to ensure that when she reaches age 70 and applies for her own retirement benefit, she'll get the delayed retirement credits that will make her retirement benefit at age 70 32 percent larger than it would have been had she taken it at full retirement age.
In a prior Making Sense Business Desk column, I discussed this option for disabled workers -- of ceasing to take their disability benefit when they reach full retirement age and then starting their own retirement benefit at 70.
Sander J. Smiles -- Skokie, Ill.: Can you explain spousal benefits? I understand my wife can take her spousal benefits when she is 62 even though I continue working. Is that right?
Larry Kotlikoff: Yes, but she can't take her spousal benefit unless you file for your retirement benefit. If you are at or are over full retirement age, you can file for your retirement benefit and then immediately suspend its collection and then wait until, say, 70 to collect a higher benefit.
Assume you either file and collect or file and suspend, your wife will have to file for both her retirement benefit and her spousal benefit if she files for either one early. This is due to Social Security's deeming provisions. Having your wife take benefits early will mean permanently lower benefits.
Also, her own retirement benefit may wipe out her spousal benefit. Having filed (or having been forced to file) for her retirement benefit, your wife's spousal benefit will be calculated as an excess spousal benefit equal to half of your full retirement benefit minus all of her full retirement benefit.
This could well be negative, in which case her excess spousal benefit will be set to zero. If she were to wait until full retirement age, she could file just for her full spousal benefit, which would be calculated as simply half of your full retirement benefit. Under this strategy, she'd wait until, say, 70 to collect her own retirement benefit, when it would be as large as possible.
Watch this discussion with Ray Suarez and National Law Journal's Marcia Coyle about the oral hearings on King v. Maryland at the U.S. Supreme Court. This piece first aired in February 2013. Read a full transcript of the interview.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that police are permitted under the Fourth Amendment to collect and analyze DNA of a person arrested and charged of a crime, but not yet convicted. In a 5-4 vote, the court reversed a decision to overturn the 2010 conviction and life sentence of Alonzo Jay King Jr.
The case was brought before the Supreme Court by the state of Maryland after King's lawyers argued that the DNA collected without a warrant had been an unreasonable search and seizure. The DNA led to his indictment and conviction for a previously unsolved rape case. King had tried to suppress the DNA swab as evidence in the case, but failed when the trial court allowed the swab as evidence.
Then, Maryland's highest court reviewed and overturned the trial court's decision, including, which resulted in the case being brought before the Supreme Court.
In an interview with Ray Suarez, National Law Journal's Marcia Coyle explained the crux of the debate behind this Supreme Court decision.
"We say that the Fourth Amendment protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures.
"And the main way that protection is enforced is through a warrant ... Maryland was arguing that the DNA swab here is not very intrusive. It's very comparable to fingerprinting, which has been around for almost a century, and also that an arrestee has a reduced expectation of privacy, which is one of the things that the court balances.
"It looks at whether there was a reasonable expectation of privacy in the things searched versus what interest is served for the government in doing this particular search.
The majority who voted in favor of the decision were justices Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.
Justices who dissented were Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
The Court, which concludes this year's term at the end of June, has yet to deliver decisions on a number of other cases, including decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act, California's Proposition 8 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Click to enlarge.
A folk artist breathes fire Sunday at Margalla Festival 2013, a celebration of national heritage and culture, in Islamabad, Pakistan. Photo by Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images.
By Charles Hood
I share a room with an ice climber and somebody from NASA. Their socks want to be with mine and I say no, no, and kick them savagely. A woman from Minneapolis sentences her soot brindle sweater to solitary confinement inside the dorm dryer, sets it on a cold cycle for three days. So much for the rest of us. I have brought ten flutters of Bounce in a quart Ziplock but when NASA pajamas asks, I say I am out. Until the down-the-hall girls finish, no point anyway. I hide the Ziplock between the pages of a book. I am sure they had Wal-Mart and Target in his town and he always forgets to lock the door. Ben Shahn the FSA photographer swore it is true because he was there: farmer was being rejected for a Dust Bowl loan. Something out of Grapes of Wrath, and things are grim but not decided yet either way. Farmer pleads. Banker says, here's a sporting offer old timer. If you can guess which one of my eyes is a glass one, you can have your loan. The farmer doesn't hesitate. "The left one." And of course he's right--the banker says, holy Joe, how did you know? Farmer, it's the one that looked the kindest.
Charles Hood is the author of "South x South" (Ohio University Press), winner of the 2012 Hollis Summers Poetry Prize. His previous books include "Bombing Ploesti" and "Rio de Dios" (Red Hen Press). He has been the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship, an Artist in Residency with the Center for Land Use Interpretation, and an Artists and Writers grant from the National Science Foundation. He teaches photography and writing at Antelope Valley College, Calif.
Billy Bragg's latest album, "Tooth & Nail," is heavily influenced by the Americana country sound. "We Brits have always had a huge appreciation for American roots music." Video edited by Joshua Barajas.
For a guy from England, musician Billy Bragg keeps a close and informed eye on America. He follows its politics, its music and, for better or worse, its eating habits, namely its obsession with bacon. He recounted how his tour bus passed a truck stop restaurant in Black River Falls, Wis., and there in the window, a banner offering maple bacon milkshakes. "It seemed to me to sum up America, which imagines that it can have everything if it wants it, whether it's a good idea or not," he said.
We sat on the bus in a hotel parking lot late in his U.s and Canada tour and talked about his latest recording, "Tooth & Nail." He reflected, with relief, on leaving the "record" business to put more emphasis on the "music" business. He produced "Tooth & Nail" and released it himself, a very different proposition from working with a record label, as the fractured and frantic business of recording and selling music struggles to cope with technological change.
For Bragg, there's a big difference between the record business and the music business. "The music industry's thriving. People want to go on gigs. Digital music is made, people want you to go out on gigs. The record industry hasn't really come to terms with the digital business model. You know they still try to bring in analog ways of doing things, which don't really make sense anymore," he said.
It's hard to know whether a big label would have ordered up "Tooth & Nail." It's a quiet collection of deeply personal, reflective and heavily country music-infused songs. As Bragg has done since his earliest days bashing out punky rock and roll, his concerns and curiosities range widely from the silence around the kitchen table as a love affair runs out of steam to the biggest questions of exploring space, a warming planet and understanding the secrets of physics. In one song, he wryly tells his wife he'll never be the handyman his own father way, and moments later he laments a world drowning in information that leaves us as confused as ever.
Listening to the album the whole way through for the first time, I was especially struck by Bragg's cover of Woody Guthrie's classic "I Ain't Got No Home." In Guthrie's own rendition, and in many subsequent covers, the lament of a man on the verge of being crushed by the Great Depression is up-tempo, an almost rollicking tune that reassures the listener that despite the lyric, our narrator is down but not out. The new Bragg version was a revelation, if only because the song's concerns seemed so fresh in an age when so many have worked so hard for so long to end up with so little.
"It is so contemporary now. 'I've mined in your mines, I've gathered in your corn, I've been working since the day I was born, now I worry all the time like I never did before.' I mean, for our generation, that's an incredibly stark reality," Bragg said. "We've always believed that we would have a better life than our children, and our children would have a better life than us. It looks like that's not going to come true now. It looks like our children are perhaps going to be poorer than us and not going to have the same outcome as we're going to have."
This year, Bragg turns 56. He still loves the road. Still loves the gigs. He says he can still imagine doing it all, sleeping on the bus, waking up in another city the next morning to play before another audience for a long time to come. But, he says, now he has to pace himself. Bragg remembers the veteran musician Steve Earle telling him back in the '80s that he would die on one of these buses. "I thought to myself, no! But you know, here I am. After 30 years of touring in the United States of America, I finally got me own big ol' bus and trailer, and maybe Steve was right. Maybe we will keep doing this 'til we peg out, which will be great if I could count on doing it because I love doing it," he said.
You could listen to "Tooth & Nail" and include it in a long arc with Bragg's music going back more than 30 years, and watch the evolution of a musician with a passion for politics who also writes a damn good love song. Or maybe you have never laid eyes, or ears, on Bragg until this moment and just listen out of curiosity. Both approaches have their reward.
The North American tour is over and Bragg is back in England, posting on Facebook and sending tweets about the horrifying killing of a British soldier in a London suburb and the anti-Muslim backlash that followed. He never did try the maple bacon milkshake. He chose to simply admire it instead.
In 2014, many HIV patients who receive medication through state-based drug assistance programs will be shifted to other forms of health coverage.
It's an uncertain time for most HIV patients in the United States. A full two-thirds of them rely on government-subsidized health insurance -- or else have none -- and the health care reform law is about to shake things up.
Starting in 2014, when the major provisions of the law kick in, many of the HIV-positive patients who currently receive medication through state-based AIDS Drug Assistance Programs will be shifted onto the Medicaid rolls; others will receive subsidized coverage through their state's health insurance exchange.
As most AIDS advocates see it, that means better access to comprehensive health care for their patients, which most agree is an undeniable good thing. So why are so many AIDS program managers losing sleep over the full implementation of the health care reform law?
A new report in the journal Health Affairs shows widespread confusion among the program managers concerning the law and its implications for the services they provide.
"Many said that they were overwhelmed by the complexity of the Affordable Care Act, and some expressed fear that state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs would be eliminated entirely," the report states.
Primarily, many fear that if policymakers see the AIDS Drugs Assistance Programs as unnecessary or duplicative after 2014 -- and pull funding for the programs as a result -- patients could be left to navigate the complicated new health care landscape on their own. In states that decide not to expand Medicaid, a funding reduction for the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs could mean that some patients would lose access to affordable medications entirely.
Erika Martin, principal author of the study and assistant professor at Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at the University at Albany and fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, interviewed AIDS Drug Assistance Program managers in 22 states to assess the way the health reform law will impact their services. She joined the PBS NewsHour to discuss her conclusions about how those program managers are -- or should be -- planning for such an uncertain future.
NEWSHOUR: Erika Martin, thank you so much for joining us. Let's start broadly. How will the health reform law change coverage for patients with HIV?
MARTIN: Prior to health reform, there was a patchwork of public programs and fewer than a third of people living with HIV had private insurance. People could receive Medicaid if they were low-income and met some other categorical eligibility requirements such as disability. People with long-term disability could move to Medicare after a couple of years.
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program was a "payer of last resort" for people who were HIV-positive but not yet disabled or not low-income enough to qualify for these other programs.
Health reform will do a couple of big things, including the Medicaid expansion which will allow people whose incomes are up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify regardless of these other categorical requirements. In addition, individuals with income between 133 to 400 percent of the poverty level can access private health insurance on new state health insurance exchanges at a subsidized rate.
And then there's also some new consumer protection rules on private health insurance. People can stay on their parents' plans until age 26, which is important for young adults who are newly infected with HIV. There are no more lifetime or annual coverage limits. Previously, a health insurance company could limit the amount of reimbursed benefit. And health insurance plans can no longer deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions such as HIV. Health insurance plans that are offered on the exchanges also have to offer a minimum set of essential benefits. In addition, there are provisions to encourage primary care and preventive medicine.
NEWSHOUR: All of these changes will have major impacts for organizations currently providing services to HIV patients. What are the fears of program administrators?
MARTIN: Currently, about a quarter of all people living in the U.S. with HIV have drug coverage through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, one component of Ryan White. One fear is that Ryan White will be defunded, thereby eliminating AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. The Ryan White program gets reauthorized every three to five years, with a re-authorization scheduled this summer, the year before all these big coverage changes are set to happen. Policymakers might perceive that the "problem" of HIV care has been solved due to new coverage options.
Other fears are that clients might still continue to fall through the cracks. Although there is federal funding for new consumer assistance programs to help patients navigate the new environment, a lot of HIV patients are very vulnerable and have a lot of competing needs, and it might be very confusing to figure out what programs they qualify for, how to get on health insurance and how to use that health insurance.
Out-of-pocket costs are pretty sizable. Currently, patients who are in these AIDS Drug Assistance Programs might not need to pay large -- or any -- copays on medication. Now, as they're being moved to new sources of coverage, there might be some pretty sizable copays and deductibles, in addition to high premiums. So it's not as affordable as one might hope.
Finally , the law is incredibly complex -- over 900 pages -- and states are ultimately responsible for implementing many of the provisions. That means that program managers need to interpret federal guidance and regulations within their state context. For example, some states may have insurance regulations that are more stringent than federal guidelines, and other states may require legislative permission to enact major changes to their AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. AIDS Drug Assistance Programs in states that choose to use the federally-run insurance exchange (rather than setting up their own state-run exchanges) will need to coordinate with the federal government.
NEWSHOUR: How these programs adapt to help with these new needs?
MARTIN: In theory, many AIDS Drug Assistance Program clients should be eligible for Medicaid, which will be expanded in some states, or subsidized health insurance through insurance exchanges.AIDS Drug Assistance Programs can help people transition to different sources of coverage, and staff will work as navigators to help patients understand the new system and how to enroll in these different programs. Rather than paying directly for drugs and services for patients, now these programs can pay for health insurance premiums or copays, which will still be expensive. AIDS Drug Assistance Programs can also provide "wrap around" coverage for services not reimbursed by the primary source of insurance, as well as direct services to patients who fall through the cracks.
NEWSHOUR: How much will these services vary based upon the home state an HIV-positive patient?
MARTIN: I chatted with program managers before the Supreme Court decision in 2012, which says that states cannot be forced to expand Medicaid. Before the decision, they were talking about needing to find new ways to offer services to clients -- things like navigating the new environment, helping patients pay for health insurance, or paying for the premiums and deductibles, etc. Now, I imagine that how state programs need to adapt depends on the state.
In a state like New York, which will expand Medicaid and is thoughtfully considering how to set up its exchange, the adaptation might have more to do with thinking about what specific services are not being covered by Medicaid or private insurance, and how to assist clients with purchasing and using insurance. In contrast, in a state that's not going to expand Medicaid, the program will to continue to directly provide medications.
NEWSHOUR: Even in states that will expand Medicaid, there will still be some HIV-positive patients who aren't able to access care through health reform, correct? Theoretically, these patients would still need to rely on the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs for basic medication and treatment services.
MARTIN: Yes, that's true for immigrants and individuals who are unable to afford adequate coverage, even with the subsidies. Lawfully residing immigrants cannot receive federal benefits for at least five years and will be ineligible for key provisions of health reform.
Undocumented immigrants are also unable to access the federally funded programs. However, the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs are not prohibited from providing services to recent and undocumented immigrants. That's important for the overall fight against HIV. Unlike most other chronic diseases, HIV is also an infectious disease. Treating patients is important for reducing future infections, thereby averting future medical costs.
Some citizens may also continue to rely on AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. The price of the health insurance plans on the exchange -- even with the subsidies -- is pretty high when you consider the premiums, deductibles and copays. Some program managers that I talked to predicted that the tax penalty for not buying insurance will be less expensive than buying insurance, and that insurance will remain unaffordable for many low-income patients. And then you have some folks who might not enroll because their lives are very complex and getting insurance can be overwhelming. They may have other co-morbid conditions, have social services needs, and getting insurance might not be their top priority. So they just might not be willing or able to get insurance.
For all of these groups, AIDS Drug Assistance Programs will still be important.
NEWSHOUR: So do you think the upcoming changes and uncertainty could lead the U.S. in the wrong direction in the HIV fight?
MARTIN: But I do think that there could be one major unintended consequence. Health reform pushes us in a lot of positive directions, but it also has a lot of gaps. The law is still not going to provide perfect coverage, or reduce the cost of health insurance as much as it should, and I think the mistake would be thinking it's going to solve all problems with the health care system when it doesn't. If in 2014 -- as Medicaid expands in some states and the health reform exchanges go live -- if policymakers start to defund Ryan White and other discretionary programs for vulnerable populations, that could have major repercussions.
If all states were to expand Medicaid, I don't think it would be inappropriate if Ryan White funding would eventually decline over time. Many of these services would then be offered elsewhere. But the main concerns from program managers is that they would need to have Ryan White funding in the short-term, at least through 2016, to get people through this transition. As one of the program managers said very colorfully, "It's not like people will wake up on Jan. 1, 2014, and all of a sudden they will have health insurance and know what to do with it." It's going to take several years to transition people to different coverage sources. In addition, there's a very real concern in some states -- especially the ones that won't expand Medicaid -- that if Ryan White funds dry up, they will still need to provide the services they do now but they will have far fewer resources to do so.
NEWSHOUR: What's the takeaway here?
MARTIN: Overall, I think it's a very exciting time in the HIV fight, with great opportunities. There's a mathematical possibility that if you put everyone living with HIV on medication, you can substantially reduce the number of new infections and eventually eliminate the epidemic. But what a lot of people -- and I think many policymakers -- don't realize is that this requires a very long-term commitment. With appropriate therapy, people who are living with HIV can stay alive for nearly a full life span. Even if there are minimal new infections, there will continue to be a large number of people who need to stay on their medications for at least 40 years into the future.
My fear is that we will become over-confident that we have "solved HIV," and that, in turn, will pull funding away from Ryan White and Medicaid and other programs that provide important services to low-income patients. That would cause the number of new HIV infections to rise again in the future. We also need to continue to invest in HIV prevention programs even if new infections decline, simply because treating people alone is not going to eliminate the epidemic.
Overall, I would say that we have a lot of new tools to address the HIV epidemic and evidence that these tools are very effective when implemented well, but the main challenge is to maintain our focus and commitment to continuing to fund these important programs.
NEWSHOUR: Erika Martin, thank you so much for joining us.
MARTIN: Thank you.
Frank R. Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, five-term senator, and the last World War II veteran remaining in the Senate, died Monday morning. He was 89. He appeared on the The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on June 28, 1984
In the 1980s, Frank R. Lautenberg led his first two extraordinary fights in the U.S. Senate.
A freshmen senator in 1984, Lautenberg pushed through legislation establishing the national drinking age at 21.
From our tape library, the PBS NewsHour unearthed this interview with the New Jersey Democrat, in which he discusses with two newspaper editors who oppose the legislation his reasons for taking the "hammer" on the drinking age and sponsoring what was then referred to as "the drunk driving bill."
He told Robert MacNeil:
I don't think the Congress is going to back off. We see a movement in this country to abolish drunk driving. We know that this group, the age 16-to-20 group, is the only group in our society who in the last 20 years haven't had an increase in their life expectancy. There's strong public sentiment against permitting this to continue, and this is one group, unfortunately, that is being singled out where we can do some good. And I don't think there's going to be a mood at all. Remember, the president of the United States, who is a prominent states rightist, changed his mind to get this going. And that tells you something about what the mood out there is.
Five years later, Lautenberg would lead another successful fight -- this time, a ban on smoking on all commercial flights.
He would again appear on The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. We uncovered this interview where he cites the perils of secondhand smoke exposure for crews, and children, on airplanes.
Watch Video Lautenberg appeared on The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on Nov. 19, 1987.
He relayed to correspondent Judy Woodruff:
The Surgeon General has said in a report very recently issued that separating smokers from nonsmokers on an airplane may reduce the exposure, but it doesn't eliminate it. They further say that involuntary smoking is a cause of disease, coughing, lung cancer. They say further that it's evidenced by the fact that children who live in smoking homes often have pulmonary, respiratory problems, develop less mature lungs in smoking households, than they do in non smoking households. And when you confine that to an airplane cabin, the problems get much worse.
Alex Ozenberger contributed to this report.
Watch Monday's NewsHour for more on the legacy of Frank R. Lautenberg.
GWEN IFILL: The Supreme Court today found police can collect DNA from people they arrest, equating the procedure to standard practices such as fingerprinting. The ruling was 5-4, but not your usual 5-4.
Joining us to explain the reasoning behind and the impact of the decision is Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal. As always, she was in the courtroom today.
So start by describing to me the circumstances of the arrest of one Alonzo King.
MARCIACOYLE, National Law Journal: All right.
Mr. King was arrested in 2009 on assault charges. While he was being booked, police took a DNA swab of his cheek and sent that out for analysis. That's allowed under Maryland law, which says if you are arrested, but not yet convicted, of a serious crime, you can take the DNA sample.
Several months later, there was a match between his DNA and evidence in an unsolved 2003 rape. He was charged with the rape, convicted, sentenced to life. Maryland's highest court reversed his conviction, finding that the Maryland DNA collection law violated the Fourth Amendment.
GWEN IFILL: But they were arguing that fingerprinting, swabbing of the cheek same sort of thing.
MARCIA COYLE: Well, that came in the decision. The state of Maryland brought an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
And today the court in dividing 5-4 analyzed the law under the Fourth Amendment, which, as you know, protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures.
GWEN IFILL: And they said this was a reasonable search.
MARCIA COYLE: Yes. Justice Kennedy said reasonableness is the touchstone of the Fourth Amendment.
And, here, someone who is arrested has a lowered expectation of privacy, and the DNA swab of the cheek is a minimal intrusion, and both are really outweighed by law enforcement's legitimate interest in safe and accurate identification of people arrested.
That's why he compared it to fingerprinting. Does the same thing. He compared it also to matching an arrestee's face to a wanted poster -- face on a wanted poster. He also said that the DNA analysis was important to ensuring the safety of the public, as well as the safety of staff and other detainees in a facility that would also be used to make decisions about bail and the risk to the public.
He said there is a limit in the Maryland law, and that is, it's only done if you have been arrested for serious crimes.
GWEN IFILL: Five to four. We have had these conversations before about a 5-4 split in the court.
MARCIA COYLE: Yes.
GWEN IFILL: But it's usually pretty predictable who is five and who is four. Not today.
MARCIA COYLE: No.
Justice Scalia led the dissenters. And he was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan, which you don't see that often. The Fourth Amendment cases tend to bring out Justice Scalia's libertarian streak. He's written before about how important it is to have warrants or individualized suspicion.
He said what the court was claiming here, that the DNA swab was really for identification purposes, was basically a smokescreen for what law enforcement really wants to do, and that's to solve unsolved crimes.
GWEN IFILL: Which is what happened in this case.
MARCIA COYLE: Absolutely. He said that's a noble goal, but the court, he said, has never suspended the individualized suspicion that would tie a person to a particular crime for an investigative purpose.
The court has done that in a very few number of cases, like you don't need suspicion to drug-test rail workers. There, the motive is safety.
GWEN IFILL: Now, this outcome could have been different if the reliable four so-called liberal justices had stayed together, but Justice Breyer went the other way.
MARCIA COYLE: Yes, he did.
And Justice Breyer is known for a very pragmatic approach to constitutional interpretation. And I don't know -- he didn't write separately, so I don't know what his reasons were, but I suspect since he joined in full Justice Kennedy's opinion, as did the other conservatives on the court, that he accepted the reasonableness of what police were doing here.
GWEN IFILL: Was there any discussion about whether there was concern about whether this DNA information could be misused?
MARCIA COYLE: Yes.
Justice Kennedy said that the Maryland law made clear that it was only for identification purposes that you are not getting the individual's total genetic profile.
GWEN IFILL: Exactly.
MARCIA COYLE: Right. But he did say that this is a new technology and that other states' laws may raise other questions that have to be answered down the road.
That wasn't sufficient for Justice Scalia. He said, if he followed the logic of the majority's opinion, then you will be able to swab somebody's cheek whenever they're arrested for whatever crime.
GWEN IFILL: Not whenever you're stopped. So, if you're pulled over by the side of the road and under suspicion of having done something, they can't swab you at the side of the road; you have to be under arrest, in custody?
MARCIA COYLE: Well, if you are arrested or if you are stopped by police on the road, the police can do a search incident to an arrest, or they can -- if they have probable cause to believe that you have committed a crime, they are usually required to get a warrant. But they also can search if they are concerned that their safety is at risk.
So it's a totally different situation. Here, somebody was under arrest, wasn't convicted. And the law allowed the DNA swab.
GWEN IFILL: Are there any states besides Maryland which has a law like this?
MARCIA COYLE: Yes, 28 states and the federal government have laws. They're not all the same. And it may well be the court's decision today will encourage other states to pass similar laws.
GWEN IFILL: Very interesting, Marcia Coyle, as always. I know you're bracing for the rest of this very busy month at the court.
MARCIA COYLE: I am -- a very, very big month.
GWEN IFILL: Thank you.
MARCIA COYLE: My pleasure.
KWAME HOLMAN: The man accused in the 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, will represent himself at his court-martial. A military judge ruled today that Army Maj. Nidal Hasan is mentally competent to act as his own defense lawyer. He's charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder. Jury selection begins Wednesday. If convicted, Hasan could get the death penalty.
President Obama called today for Americans to bring mental illness out of the shadows. He spoke at a White House conference organized after the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. The president emphasized that most of the mentally ill are not violent, and he said it's important to erase the stigma attached to their condition.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Too many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are still suffering in silence, rather than seeking help. And we need to see it that men and women who would never hesitate to go see a doctor if they had a broken arm or came down with the flu, that they have that same attitude when it comes to their mental health.
KWAME HOLMAN: According to the president, more than 60 percent of Americans with mental illness do not receive treatment.
A fire at a poultry plant in China killed at least 119 people early today. Survivors told state media that only one exit was unlocked, and the fire spread quickly.
We have a report narrated by Angus Walker of Independent Television News.
ANGUS WALKER, Independent Television News: The fire broke out just before dawn. More than 300 workers had already started their shift at a chicken processing factory in Northeast China.
Eyewitnesses say they heard explosions and then the building began to fill with smoke. Around 100 employees escaped from the plant, but others were trapped in tight corridors, leading to narrow doors or locked exits, according to firefighters. There's growing public outrage, questioning the factory's safety standards, as an investigation begins.
ZHAO XIAN, Local Government Official: We're looking into the cause of this accident. And efforts are being made to identify the injured and dead.
ANGUS WALKER: At this early stage, it's believed an ammonia leak may have caused explosions and the fire. An area of up to a kilometer around the factory was evacuated amid fears of further blasts. This is certainly one of the worst factory fires in China's history, a country where industrial accidents are common.
KWAME HOLMAN: This was the third major industrial fire reported in China in the last four days.
The death toll went up to 14 in the wake of Friday night's tornadoes in Oklahoma. Six people still were missing. One of the twisters caught people trying to drive to safety on an interstate west of Oklahoma City. It hit during the evening rush hour. Three of those killed were veteran storm chasers, Tim Samaras, his son Paul, and Carl Young.
Days of heavy rainfall in Central Europe have led to the worst flooding in centuries and at least eight deaths. In Southeastern Germany, water levels in Passau now are higher than they have been in more than 500 years. Today, with water pouring in from three rivers, emergency workers used boats to evacuate people trapped inside their homes.
In Afghanistan, nine schoolchildren and two NATO troops died in a suicide bombing today. The children were on their way home when the attacker struck close to members of a U.S. military delegation in the eastern province of Paktia. The Taliban and other militants have increased bombings nationwide in recent weeks, testing Afghan forces' ability to secure the country.
The new head of the Internal Revenue Service acknowledged today that Americans have grave questions about his agency. Danny Werfel testified at a House hearing, his first since being named acting IRS commissioner. He addressed revelations that conservative groups were singled out, and said a thorough review is under way.
DANNY WERFEL, Acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner: These failures have undermined the public's trust in the IRS' ability to administer the tax laws in a fair and impartial manner, and they must be corrected. The agency stands ready to confront the problems that occurred, hold accountable those who acted inappropriately, be open about what happened, and permanently fix these problems, so that such missteps do not occur again.
KWAME HOLMAN: The committee also heard about excessive spending by the IRS in recent years. A Treasury Department report being released tomorrow says the agency spent $50 million dollars on some 200 employee conferences between 2010 and 2012. Attendees received perks, including baseball tickets and stays in presidential suites.
President Obama is ready to name three nominees to the powerful federal appeals court based in Washington. It was widely reported this evening that the president has chosen Washington lawyer Patricia Ann Millett, law professor Cornelia Pillard, and federal district Judge Robert Leon Wilkins. The announcement is expected tomorrow. Senate Republicans say the appeals court doesn't need more judges.
Apple went on trial today on charges that it broke federal antitrust laws and conspired to drive up the price of electronic books. A federal prosecutor in New York alleged that Apple joined five publishers in a scheme that cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars. The high-tech giant insisted its actions actually helped spur competition. The publishers already have settled in the case.
U.S. auto sales rebounded in May after a dip in April. Nissan's sales jumped 25 percent. Business at Ford and Chrysler also was up by double digits. General Motors reported a gain of three percent. On Wall Street, stocks rallied late after wavering much of the day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 138 points to close at 15,254. The Nasdaq rose nine points to close at 3,465.
Those are some of the day's major stories -- now back to Jeff.
JEFFREY BROWN: And we turn to political unrest in Turkey, where violent demonstrations continued for a fourth consecutive day.
The Turkish government's show of force was on full display today, as riot police fired water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters in Ankara. The unrest initially erupted early Friday in Istanbul, after police raided a peaceful sit-in against plans to bulldoze a park.
BEYCAN TESKIREN, Protester: The resistance in one park alone has now turned into the resistance and rebellion of all the people. The park has been a symbol for the repressed and those whose voice has not been heard and then spread across the country from here.
JEFFREY BROWN: Demonstrations quickly spread to several major cities, with hundreds of people injured. The protesters are mainly secular Turks who see the government's development plans as part of an increasingly authoritarian rule.
But Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected the complaints today and said protest organizers are leading the young astray.
PRIME MINISTER RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkey: The opposition may have tricked them interest the rebellion. The extremists may have done that as well. They have networks in every city.
JEFFREY BROWN: Erdogan has been in power since 2003 and has won three landslide elections. Under his rule, Turkey has seen increasing economic growth and a heightened presence in the international community. Just last month, he visited Washington.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This visit reflects the importance that the United States places on our relationship with our ally Turkey, and I value so much the partnership that I have been able to develop with Prime Minister Erdogan.
JEFFREY BROWN: But, today, Secretary of State John Kerry questioned the Turkish government's handling of the unrest.
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY, United States: We are concerned by the reports of excessive use of force by police. We obviously hope that there will be a full investigation of those incidents and full restraint from the police force with respect to those kinds of incidents.
JEFFREY BROWN: Despite the demonstrations and the police response, there's been very little media coverage inside Turkey.
Today, hundreds of protesters descended on a Turkish television station in Istanbul, accusing the network of collusion with the government. News of the events, however, spread throughout Turkey and the world on social media. That drew the ire of Erdogan in a statement on Sunday.
"There is now a menace which is called Twitter," he said. "The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society."
But Turkey's president, Abdullah Gul, struck a more conciliatory tone today.
PRESIDENT ABDULLAH GUL, Turkey: In democracies, of course those who run a country are elected by votes and through the will of the people. But a democracy is not just about voting. If there are different opinions, different situations, different points of view and dissent, there is nothing more natural than being able to voice those differences.
JEFFREY BROWN: Meanwhile, in neighboring Syria, President Bashar al-Assad issued a ban on travel to Turkey, citing security concerns. The two governments have been at odds, with Erdogan condemning Assad's violence against his own countrymen and demanding he step down.
JEFFREY BROWN: A short time ago, I spoke to Scott Peterson of The Christian Science Monitor in Istanbul.
Scott, thanks for joining us.
So, this all started over what from the outside seems relatively small, some redevelopment plans. What do people say about why it's grown so much?
SCOTT PETERSON, The Christian Science Monitor: I think it's really kind of shocked authorities and also shocked those would have actually taken part, the fact that this gained so much speed last Friday, just three days ago.
It really started as this tiny sit-in, but this kind of progressive, powerful reaction by the police, these efforts to break up the sit-in basically caught the imagination of a lot of people who are more broadly unhappy with the -- with Prime Minister Erdogan's rule.
And so they wanted to make their point, and they did so very, very swiftly. And what I heard repeatedly during these -- during these days is how surprised people were that they came out in such large numbers, that they were able to take on the police and also, of course, in their view, reacting to a very, very strong police effort to keep them from gathering and really expending huge amounts of tear gas in the process.
JEFFREY BROWN: And tell us a little bit more about who the protesters are. What -- and to the extent you can, is it clear what they're after?
SCOTT PETERSON: Well, these are -- this is a great question.
I think, in fact, even the protesters themselves don't know. I mean, literally, in the last half-an-hour, I was speaking to some protesters, some young students. They were art students. They had construction helmets. They had protective material taped to the sides, and they had kind of workshop goggles.
And that was their protection. There was a group of them. And I said, OK, so you're making your point known. There are a lot of people here, but what are you actually after? And, of course, they said, well, we want to see the end of Erdogan and that sort of thing.
And I said, you know, you and I both know that Erdogan is not going anywhere, that, you for 50 -- you know, he's got 50 percent of the electorate behind him. He feels very strong in that. Some analysts say that he hasn't lost a single vote in the course of these events, because the people who are out there protesting are not those who voted for him.
So, I said, so what really do you expect to gain? And they really had very little sense about what they actually did want to get or what they expected. And I think it depends on the political parties. It also depends on, you know, what type. They say, we want freedom. We want more democracy. And, of course, this is already a democracy.
So, I think there's a lot to play out for here politically still before this -- before this process is over.
JEFFREY BROWN: So, Scott, then what has been the stance of the prime minister? He's rejected any comparisons to an Arab spring-type situation. What is he saying?
SCOTT PETERSON: Well, he's taken a very defiant tone and, in fact, for many of the people who have been protesting, a very threatening tone.
In fact, I think that one of the most important things to watch for in the coming days is to see what moves, what adjustments Prime Minister Erdogan actually makes in his statements. Will he sound more conciliatory, which is something that really has been against his character over the last 10 years? When you speak to people on the ground here, they don't expect any give at all from the prime minister. They're constantly speaking about authoritarian rule. They use the word dictator. They use the word fascist.
What they say is -- and one analyst described to me today that what President [Prime Minister] Erdogan sees is a majoritarian democracy. In other words, he wins most votes, and then he takes what he wants and makes all the decisions on his own, as opposed to a much more inclusive democracy that would be one that would include all those who -- Turks who also didn't vote for him and are many of those who see we see out on the streets today.
JEFFREY BROWN: I wonder, can you tell how much this is being seen there as part of a larger split within the society, of those who favor a more secular culture and those who are for more -- and including the prime minister's party -- a more religious-based society?
SCOTT PETERSON: Well, that's right.
What we're seeing here really are the very wide social divisions that already exist and have existed for decades really in Turkey kind of exposed and made clear. And it's interesting that they come now. Of course, they have especially existed over the last decade because for those, many of those who are on the streets now, more secular bent or type of people who really do adhere to the secular basis of this republic going back 75 years, you know, what they see is, they see an encroaching Islamism that is coming from Prime Minister Erdogan.
They have complained about that. And, you know, going back 10 years ago, they were always making comparisons, saying, we don't want to have an Islamic republic in Turkey. They're going to bring an Iran-style Islamic state and all that kind of thing, speaking in very extreme terms.
Now, Prime Minister Erdogan has in fact overseen a much more mercantile democracy. This would be, you know, where money really trumped most other -- most other concerns. We haven't seen so much of the religious side, but more recently people feel that the prime minister has made and his party has made many more steps toward an Islamic future.
And that's one that they really feel is being imposed upon them and that they don't want to accept.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor in Istanbul, thanks so much.
SCOTT PETERSON: Thank you.
GWEN IFILL: We turn now to the conflict in Syria and its spillover into neighboring Lebanon. Just yesterday, 12 people were killed on Lebanese soil during a battle between pro-Assad Hezbollah guerrillas and Syrian rebels.
Margaret Warner is on a reporting trip to the region, and tonight she examines the role of Lebanon's fighters engaged on both sides of Syria's bloody civil war.
MARGARET WARNER: High in the Bekaa Valley town of Machgara, Lebanon's Shiite Party of God, Hezbollah, celebrated its resistance and liberation day, complete with martial music, youth scouts, flags, and posters of iconic Shiite figures from Lebanon and Iran, the occasion, the 13th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from Southern Lebanon after nearly two decades of occupation.
The thousands who gathered here in the Bekaa today came to celebrate Hezbollah's founding ideal: resistance against Israel. But they also heard their leader make the case for why Hezbollah is now adding another front to its long war, that new front, defense of one of its chief allies, the regime of Bashar al-Assad in neighboring Syria, where a brutal civil war has killed more than 80,000 and displaced four million.
Hezbollah troops have helped turn the tide for the Assad regime in the current battle for the strategic town of Qusayr. They have also added to the conflict's ominous sectarian bent, as Assad's Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, confronts a mostly Sunni rebellion bolstered by a fervent jihadist core.
Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah, speaking by videotape, touted his fighters' role across the border, saying they were defending all of Lebanon, Shiites, Sunnis, and Christians, against the fundamentalist al-Qaida-like Sunnis within the Syrian opposition.
HASSAN NASRALLAH, Hezbollah Leader: We regard the control these groups have over Syria and parts bordering Lebanon as a grave danger to all Lebanese. And we have been promised here in Lebanon that this scourge is coming our way.
MARGARET WARNER: Given Assad's longtime supply of money, weapons and political muscle to Hezbollah, Nasrallah argued that, by defending him, his fighters also were protecting their core mission of resisting Israel.
HASSAN NASRALLAH: Syria is the backbone of the resistance. If Syria falls, the resistance will find itself under siege, and Israel will invade Lebanon.
MARGARET WARNER: 22-year-old Hasan Saad responded to that message.
HASANSAAD, Hezbollah Supporter: We support the participation of Hezbollah in Syria. Bashar al-Assad helped us win the war over Israel. All our weapons were entering from there.
MARGARET WARNER: Grandmother Soukna Hassan shared Nasrallah's fear of the Sunni extremists in the Syrian opposition.
SOUKNA HASSAN, Hezbollah Supporter: If they are not stopped in Syria, they are coming after us. We don't slaughter people. We are not savages like them.
RANDA SLIM, New America Foundation: The main element of Hezbollah's narrative to his constituency is that the fight in Syria is a preemptive war.
MARGARET WARNER: Randa Slim of the New America Foundation, author of a forthcoming book on Hezbollah, says Nasrallah is casting this as a necessary war of prevention.
RANDA SLIM: It's better for us Shias and Hezbollah to fight them inside Syria, instead of waiting for them to come to our backdoors.
MARGARET WARNER: And are Shia here buying that?
RANDA SLIM: So far, the majority of the Shias, and particularly the core constituency of Hezbollah, has bought lock, stock, and barrel into this narrative.
MARGARET WARNER: Not all, however. One of Hezbollah's founders, Sheik Subhi al-Tufayli, says Nasrallah is simply doing the bidding of his patron, Iran.
SHEIK SUBHI AL-TUFAYLI, Hezbollah Founder: The truth is, Hezbollah is ordered to defend the regime. The party knows and all its leadership know that this decision is wrong and destructive, and that it would put an end to the party. Despite this, the party had to accept the Iranian decision. Unfortunately, if things continue this way, we are heading towards a destructive Sunni-Shiite war.
MARGARET WARNER: Tufayli, who split from the group more than 15 years ago, said Lebanese Shiites siding with oppressors like Assad will bring disastrous consequences.
SHEIK SUBHI AL-TUFAYLI: A war this size will provoke the people and cause the deaths of millions. Going to Syria from this country to participate in the war is indirectly an invitation for others to participate in this war.
MARGARET WARNER: By others, he meant Sunnis in Lebanon and the wider Middle East. While most Shias in Lebanon and the region support Assad and Christians are divided, most Sunnis support the Western-backed Syrian rebels.
Radical Sunnis like Sheik Ahmad al-Assir in the port city of Sidon has been doing just that, urging his followers to join the Syrian rebels' fight against Assad. Friday, he cited Nasrallah's speech.
SHEIK AHMAD AL-ASSIR, Sunni: Nasrallah said, I want you to kill the Sunni, who are worse than the Jews, to go fight in Syria to fight the rebels. We consider those words launching war against Sunnis throughout the world.
MARGARET WARNER: Assir, who made a recent show of going to the front lines in Syria himself, concedes Lebanese Sunnis assisting the rebels are no match for Hezbollah's reinforcements for Assad.
SHEIK AHMAD AL-ASSIR: They have more military experience and they have much more developed weapons. We know that our people are not going to make a difference, but it is our duty to send them.
MARGARET WARNER: So do you think this is turning into a Sunni/Shia war?
SHEIK AHMAD AL-ASSIR: I consider this a war launched by those Shia groups who have always carried animosity and hatred to the Sunnis throughout history.
MARGARET WARNER: Hasan Srour of Tripoli, a Sunni, answered the call to help the Syrian rebels. But he and his comrades were attacked by Assad's forces. Most, including his brother, were killed.
HASSAN SROUR, Sunni: I went there because all the Sunnis there are being slaughtered and tortured. This is our religious duty, to go and defend our families there.
MARGARET WARNER: Syrian rebels, like 21-year-old Mayass Tayar, are getting another kind of help from Lebanese Sunnis, like space to build a shelter for his family in Sunni border towns such as Arsal, a haven for fighters from the Free Syrian army.
Fresh from the battle in Qusayr, Tayar said the Hezbollah militias there are deadly and effective.
MAYASS TAYAR, Syrian Rebel: They are wearing military uniforms and their faces are covered. They are many in number, thousands. They have very sophisticated weapons. They even have M-16s, which the Syrian army doesn't have. The Syrian army has Kalashnikovs.
MARGARET WARNER: Sunni Arsal is set in the mostly Hezbollah northern Bekaa Valley, near Shiite towns like Hermel and Al Qasr and the Hezbollah-dominated border area nearby.
We are just inside the Syrian border. And seven miles farther, through the haze, lies the city of Qusayr, where Hezbollah is fighting alongside Assad's forces to retake the town. Hezbollah popular committees used to have to operate from the fields right now, but now with gains on the ground, they have been able to move much deeper inside.
Syrian jets roared overhead as a constant thunder of artillery pounded the city. The Hezbollah escorts who brought us here wouldn't talk to us on camera. But they did take us to meet Syrian soldiers at a nearby Syrian army outpost, showing how close the two were and how to locals like this farmer, the border here is nothing but a line on a map.
Hezbollah's involvement in Syria has come at a price. Shiite towns in the Bekaa Valley have come under increasing rocket attack by Syrian rebels or their sympathizers. Among the most frequent targets, the Hezbollah-dominated town of Hermel.
Vice Mayor Issam Blabel took us to the site of last Tuesday's rocket attack.
VICE MAYOR ISSAM BLABEL, Hermel, Lebanon: The rocket fell at 4:00 in the afternoon, when people are resting in their homes.
MARGARET WARNER: Hermel has been hit with more than 70 rockets in the last month, ever since the battle for Qusayr intensified.
ISSAM BLABEL: Every house here has a Hezbollah member, and the Shia are almost all supporters of Hezbollah. They claim that this is a base for launching operations against them, but they are targeting it because it's purely a Shia village.
MARGARET WARNER: The rebels have said, a couple different groups, that if Hezbollah doesn't withdraw from Syria, that they are going to increase attacks on Hezbollah bases in Lebanon.
ISSAM BLABEL: Our bases and offices are not exposed, and nobody knows where they are.
MARGARET WARNER: Blabel said 3,000 to 5,000 Hezbollah fighters are in Syria. Whatever the number, they are battle-tested from fighting Israel to stalemate in 2006.
Do they operate, under whose command?
ISSAM BLABEL: Under the command of the Syrian army. Since 2006, the Syrian army has been helping the resistance against Israel. They have been supplying us with arms and ammunition and logistics, whatever we need.
MARGARET WARNER: What's new and increasingly routine are Hezbollah bodies being returned for burial from battles outside Lebanon.
We surreptitiously filmed this funeral procession in the Central Bekaa Valley town of Baalbek, honoring two fighters whom they call martyrs killed in the battle in Qusayr. Some 200 are thought to have died so far fighting for Bashar Assad.
Randa Slim says it's unclear how long Hezbollah leaders can sustain that among their ranks.
RANDA SLIM: It's hard to tell how many men will have to die before you have the first mother in black of the fallen standing up in public and saying, I'm not sending my second son or my third son to fight in Syria.
MARGARET WARNER: So far, that mother has yet to make her stand.
JEFFREY BROWN: Next, to a milestone in the largest leak of classified documents in U.S. history.
Ray Suarez has more.
RAY SUAREZ: Three years after his arrest in Iraq, the court-martial for Pfc. Bradley Manning began today at Fort Meade in Maryland.
Arun Rath has been covering the Manning case for our PBS partner FRONTLINE.
Arun, Bradley Manning has already pleaded guilty to several charges. What remains to be fought out in court?
ARUN RATH, FRONTLINE: Well, what he pleaded guilty to were substantially lesser charges. The most serious charges, which include aiding the enemy, which is the most serious, that would possibly involve a life imprisonment sentence, those still have to be argued through in great detail.
RAY SUAREZ: So, we got to see the broad outlines of the prosecution's case today. How are they going to go after Bradley Manning?
ARUN RATH: Well, the prosecution in their opening statement went through a very detailed, methodical, point-by-point timeline of when Bradley Manning arrived in Iraq, when he leaked, what he lead, decided to leak it.
They're going to go through point by point and show that he leaked these things and that he knew that these things could aid the enemy.
RAY SUAREZ: Well, we're in a situation where we have got a defendant who has already admitted committing the core crime. So, when his defense team gave their opening argument and the outlines of their defense, what are they going to say on Bradley Manning's behalf when they put his case on?
ARUN RATH: That's right, because essentially they're not arguing that Bradley Manning leaked confidential information.
They're saying that -- the defense said in his opening argument that Bradley Manning is -- was young, naive, but good-intentioned, the good intentions meaning that he was essentially thinking of himself as a whistle-blower. He saw things in Iraq, what he considered a disregard for Iraqi life in particular, that he found so objectionable, and he thought that there wasn't being anything done about it at the time, so that what he thought he was doing was being a whistle-blower, doing the right thing, the moral thing, even if, according to the letter of the law, it wasn't legal.
RAY SUAREZ: So, are both the defense and the prosecution going to argue a lot about both Bradley Manning's motive in turning over the documents to WikiLeaks, but also who he thought would receive it in the end, who would see what he was turning over?
ARUN RATH: Well, right.
Well, that's the key part of the government's argument with aiding the enemy, the idea that by releasing this information to WikiLeaks Bradley Manning knew that al-Qaida, our enemies, were reading WikiLeaks and therefore would get that information.
The defense is saying, no, he specifically was selective with the information he released. He wasn't releasing stuff that could damage the United States, but stuff that he wanted to do that would create a dialogue with the American public. He was thinking about American people, not about the enemy.
RAY SUAREZ: And when you say thinking about American people, what does the defense team say that ultimately Bradley Manning had in mind as a goal in releasing these otherwise secret documents?
ARUN RATH: He wanted to generate a debate in America.
He thought that if Americans knew what was going on, what was in these detailed day-to-day logs, what was going on in Iraq, the number of civilians who were being killed, that sort of thing, that it would generate a debate in America about -- about the wars, how they're being waged. His defense attorney said that he thought he was maybe naive in thinking that.
RAY SUAREZ: Today, the first wit witnesses took to the stand. Who were they and what did they have to say?
ARUN RATH: These were two witnesses. The first two were investigative officers who were there on the scene in Baghdad -- I'm sorry -- there on the scene in Iraq at Forward Operating Base Hammer, where Pvt. Manning was stationed.
They were there. They did the initial crime scene investigations. They interviewed some of the people that were there and investigated around the scenes, collected some of the digital evidence. The other witness was Bradley Manning's roommate there at Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq, who was there, stayed with him in the same room, but really didn't know Manning at all.
They pretty much led separate existences. We didn't really get much of an insight into Bradley Manning, except for the fact that he pretty much kept to his own, kept to himself.
RAY SUAREZ: And these are witnesses for the prosecution so far? It's they who will put on their case first?
ARUN RATH: Right.
The prosecution is laying out their case first. And they have over 100 witnesses they're scheduled to call. Whether or not they will all actually be called in the end will be seen. But they have a pretty extensive witness list to lay out in detail what exactly Bradley Manning did wrong and why it was so wrong.
RAY SUAREZ: This is expected -- you mentioned 100 witnesses for the prosecution. This is expected to be a fairly long trial, isn't it?
ARUN RATH: It's scheduled to go through Aug. 23rd, which is quite a long amount of time. And they're saying the reason for this is it's such a massive amount of data that was leaked and so many details to go through and/or to prove whether or not Bradley Manning caused damage, was aiding the enemy, and all these questions which are outstanding.
RAY SUAREZ: Arun Rath from PBS' FRONTLINE, thanks for joining us.
ARUN RATH: Thanks, Ray.
JEFFREY BROWN: And finally tonight, a new book argues that blaming addicts for their addictions could hurt people's chances for getting clean.
Judy Woodruff has our conversation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Drug abuse and substance addiction costs the United States nearly $600 billion dollars a year. They kill at least 320 Americans a day. And 90 percent of addicts start using drugs or alcohol before the age of 18.
That is despite a long battle launched by President Richard Nixon more than 40 years ago and decades of subsequent efforts and numerous programs to tackle the problem.
In a new book, writer and journalist David Sheff argues that many of our failed efforts stem from the wrong approaches and a misunderstanding of the disease. His book "Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy" is a follow-up to his bestselling memoir, "Beautiful Boy," which documented his own son's struggle with addiction to heroin and crystal meth.
David Sheff, welcome.
DAVID SHEFF, "Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy": Well, thank you, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So you did write this earlier book about your son. Why the second book?
DAVID SHEFF: Well, the -- when my son became addicted, we were blindsided.
And we thought -- it was such a horrible, horrible experience. My son was dying. He was on the streets. This was this great kid who every parent can relate to. He was this great student, this athlete. And suddenly he wasn't only smoking some pot, which is pretty common, and having -- drinking, but before I knew it, he was shooting crystal meth.
He was on the streets. He was breaking into our house. So, something had happened, and it was baffling. We had no idea what to do. And we tried to get help. And it took us 10 years how to figure out how to help someone with this problem. And I realized the system was a mess.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You say in the book that one in every 12 Americans over the age of 12 is addicted. That is astonishing.
And yet we're not hearing about drug addiction that much anymore. And you say the approach that this country is taking is all wrong. Explain.
DAVID SHEFF: It is all wrong.
Part of the reason -- and you're right -- we don't talk about it and we don't acknowledge it, and part of the reason is because people with this disease are judged and they're blamed, and it's seen as a moral failing. It's seen as a choice.
If you're having problems in your life because you're using drugs or you're drinking, stop. Well, people who are addicted would stop if they could. So they hide. And there's this enormous shame and this guilt and this blame around this problem, which doesn't exist with any other disease.
So, we don't talk about it. And, in the meantime, there are 20 million Americans who are addicted and 100 million family members. And part of the reason is that we look at this, and as a culture and as a society, we treat if it's as a criminal problem, as if it's a problem about morals.
And there's a stigma around it. But, in fact, this is a health problem, and it's a health crisis.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You go on and you talk about the approach that's needed, that it needs to be a much more evidence-based approach. And yet so much of what we're familiar with is programs like AA, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous.
And yet you say those programs help some addicts, but they don't help many others.
DAVID SHEFF: One of the big problems with the treatment system is not that AA is available and that it's prevalent. It saves the lives of many people.
One of my dearest friends is alive only because of AA. But it doesn't help a lot of people. And everyone is different, and everyone needs different kinds of treatments. And so what happens now is since most of the rehabs in America are based on this one paradigm, people go into treatment, it doesn't work for them. They are blamed for it. They're kicked out. They go back and they relapse.
They think -- they have this -- it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. They're not going to get well. They feel like they're not going to get well. They won't get treated. They use more drugs, and it's a cycle that ends up killing, as you said, 320 people a day.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You do make a point -- and you just said it again a couple of times -- that addiction is not a moral failing or a shortcoming.
There are reviewers of your book who say that you -- that there should be some weight put on this argument that people make a choice. When they first go, turn to drugs, turn to alcohol, they're making that choice, and, therefore, they bear some responsibility for what's happened.
DAVID SHEFF: I totally get that.
The problem with that is think about 10 kids who go out after school and they go to the playground, or wherever they go, and they all smoke a joint. One of those kids is going to become addicted. So all of those kids made that choice. That one kid didn't make the choice to become addicted.
The reason that he becomes addicted is because his brain is different. His neurological system is different. It responds to drugs. It doesn't process them the same as everybody else. So that's not a choice. And it's -- and that's the problem, is that we look at it -- many of us look at it as a choice, and, therefore, we blame people for becoming addicted, and we blame them when they don't get well.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you say to individuals who have an addiction problem or their loved ones, their family members who -- while we're waiting for the system to get better to treat them, what do they do now? Where do they turn?
DAVID SHEFF: Well, it's hard.
And, first of all, the first thing I tell people that are going through this is to get support. Just ...
JUDY WOODRUFF: Where?
DAVID SHEFF: Well, if you're a parent, there are -- there is a 12-step organization, Al-Anon.
Also, there's therapy. I -- my wife and I were in therapy, family therapy. We wouldn't have survived it. But if you need treatment for somebody, because the system is in such disarray, the one place to start is, if you had cancer, if you had heart disease, you know where to start. You go to a doctor.
Well, you need to go to a doctor here. And there are doctors who are trained in addiction medication -- in addiction medicine. That's where you have to go. There's a listing on the Web at the American Society of Addiction Medicine. That's where you go. You get assessed. Find out, is there a problem, how serious is the problem, what to do about it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Call a doctor, go to the Web, get information, get help.
DAVID SHEFF: That's right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Reach out.
DAVID SHEFF: Yes. It's a disease.
It's what you would do -- once we understand that this is a disease, it's a brain disease, then we have a -- we know what to do. When you're sick, you call the doctor.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David Sheff, author of the book "Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy," thank you.
DAVID SHEFF: Judy, well, thank you very much.
GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight: The Senate lost one of its longest-serving members and its last World War II veteran.
Flags flew at half-staff over the U.S. Capitol, honoring New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died early today of pneumonia at a New York hospital.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:
SEN. HARRY REID, D-Nev.: Few people in the history of this institution have contributed as much to our nation and to the United States Senate as Frank Lautenberg. Success story is really what the American dream is all about. He is the last World War II veteran having served in the Senate. We don't have any World War II veterans anymore, Mr. President. His death is a great loss for this institution in many, many different ways.
GWEN IFILL: Lautenberg was a millionaire businessman, first elected to the Senate in 1982 at the age of 58. He's known for pushing through a 1989 law that banned smoking on most U.S. flights. And he was also the driving force behind a 1984 law that raised the national drinking age to 21.
He discussed it that year on the NewsHour.
SEN. FRANK LAUTENBERG, D-N.J.: I don't think the Congress is going to back off. We see a movement in this country to abolish drunk driving.
GWEN IFILL: Lautenberg left the Senate in 2000 after 18 years. But two years later, he came out of retirement as a last-minute replacement for scandal-ridden Sen. Robert Torricelli, who pulled out just five weeks before Election Day. Lautenberg won easily and returned to the Senate at age 78.
Four months ago, he announced he would retire a second time after his fifth term ended in 2015. He cast one of his final votes in April, appearing on the Senate floor in a wheelchair to support a gun control bill that ultimately failed. It's now up to New Jersey's Republican governor, Chris Christie, to fill out Lautenberg's term.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: I think the best way to describe Frank Lautenberg and the way he would probably want to be described to all of you today is as a fighter. So, today is a sad day for the people of New Jersey.
GWEN IFILL: Frank Lautenberg was 89 years old.
For more on the senator's legacy and who might replace him, we turn to Herb Jackson, Washington correspondent for New Jersey's Record newspaper.
Welcome, Herb Jackson.
Five terms, the oldest senator, what would he say his legacy was?
HERB JACKSON, The Record: Well, I mean, he did talk about his legacy when he announced he was going to retire, environmental protection, the domestic violence law that prohibits abusers from getting handguns.
He fought for mass transit. There's a train station in New Jersey named after him. He was fighting very hard to get a new train tunnel under the Hudson River, and that was one of the things he and Gov. Christie fought about. So, he's got a lot of different areas, but he's an old-school liberal. He came up in that era. He didn't think government was too big. And he thought that it was supposed to be there to help the weak and the poor.
GWEN IFILL: It wasn't an accident that one of his final big votes was on that gun control background check bill.
HERB JACKSON: No.
Well, he had been ill much of the year. He had been telling the Senate leadership that if there was a close vote and they needed him to be there, he would do it. And he took that vote. It was for the background check bill, which was one of the things that he had been championing for quite a number of years since it expired from -- during the Bush administration.
So it's been around, for him, as an issue for a long time.
GWEN IFILL: I think a lot of people could probably leave the Senate and not be able to point to things that actually had an impact on people's lives, but in his case not only gun control issues, but also environmental protection and airplane -- banning smoking on airplanes, and lowering the drinking age all had a big effect.
HERB JACKSON: The speed limit, things like that. He was really one of those people who thought government should stop you from doing things that are bad.
GWEN IFILL: Now, take us back to 2000, when he decided to -- or somehow was drafted or requested to come back after he had already resigned -- 2002. What happened there?
HERB JACKSON: Well, I mean, he retired, and then immediately hated it. He didn't like not being a senator.
And he sat through two years watching his friend Jon Corzine get his feet wet in the Senate. And all of a sudden, Bob Torricelli started to implode. And party leaders needed somebody in September of the election year who could get on the ballot quickly, raise money to run, and, in fact, put his own money into running, because he was a millionaire. Lautenberg came back. Everybody thought he would be there for one term. Then he ran again in 2008, won again.
GWEN IFILL: Frank Lautenberg was a lot of things. Among them is he was a self-made millionaire. He was also -- or had a reputation of being kind of a tough politician. Is that -- was that Jersey politics or was that -- would that apply anywhere?
HERB JACKSON: He was a fighter. He liked to fight. He liked to call Dick Cheney a chicken hawk. He liked to get in and scrap with people.
He barked a lot. But he also had friends on the other side of the aisle. I don't think he was a bipartisan kind of guy in any real sense, although just a few weeks -- just a week-and-a-half ago, he did get a bipartisan agreement on one of the bills he wanted to get done before his term ended on harmful products that are in everyday household products, chemicals.
GWEN IFILL: And now we know that there is going to be some discussion that hasn't been decided tonight about his succession, what that will look like. That's up to the governor, right?
HERB JACKSON: Well, it's complicated.
The governor gets to name an appointee. How long that appointee serves, there's two conflicting statutes. Possibly -- possibly, there will be an election this year. Possibly, there will be an election in next November. Or Christie can call a special election on his own time frame. And that comes -- what comes into play there is, Christie is also on the ballot in November. Does he want a potential Senate candidate with more millions of dollars to come in and pull out Democratic votes?
But who does he appoint? Does he appoint somebody that satisfies the more moderate wing of the Republican Party that he represents, or does he appoint somebody from the right who is -- who may be making Christie more appealing if he runs for president in 2016?
GWEN IFILL: Once again, all eyes on New Jersey.
Herb Jackson of The Record, thank you very much.
HERB JACKSON: You're welcome.