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- 07/16/13--06:01: _Senators Look to De...
- 07/16/13--08:40: _Extreme Runners Rac...
- 07/16/13--09:37: _Ask The Headhunter:...
- 07/16/13--13:58: _Goldman Profits Dou...
- 07/16/13--15:02: _Leader of Brutal Ze...
- 07/16/13--15:06: _Will Mexico Drug Vi...
- 07/16/13--15:12: _News Wrap: Police M...
- 07/16/13--15:15: _'Sadist' Los Zetas ...
- 07/16/13--15:16: _Senators Strike a D...
- 07/16/13--15:27: _Deep Division Persi...
- 07/16/13--15:36: _Entrepreneur Offers...
- 07/16/13--15:46: _Can You Distill Fee...
- 07/17/13--06:25: _From 'Friends' to O...
- 07/17/13--11:07: _China's Focus on GD...
- 07/17/13--11:46: _How the Newest Moon...
- 07/17/13--12:28: _Chinese Couples' Lo...
- 07/17/13--12:38: _New Organisms Shine...
- 07/17/13--14:11: _China's Zero-Sum Game
- 07/17/13--14:40: _Chinese Factories B...
- 07/17/13--15:02: _Lawmakers Push Back...
- 07/16/13--06:01: Senators Look to Defuse 'Nuclear Option' Ahead of Tuesday Votes
- 07/16/13--08:40: Extreme Runners Race 135 Miles Through Death Valley
- 07/16/13--13:58: Goldman Profits Double, but How Does It Make Its Money?
- 07/16/13--15:02: Leader of Brutal Zetas Drug Cartel Captured Near Texas Border
- 07/16/13--15:06: Will Mexico Drug Violence Spike in Wake of Cartel Boss Arrest?
- 07/16/13--15:15: 'Sadist' Los Zetas Cartel Set Brutal Standard in Drug War
- 07/17/13--11:07: China's Focus on GDP Growth Overlooks Plight of Average Citizens
- 07/17/13--11:46: How the Newest Moons Get Their Names
- 07/17/13--12:28: Chinese Couples' Love on the Line
- 07/17/13--12:38: New Organisms Shine a Light on 'Microbial Dark Matter'
- 07/17/13--14:11: China's Zero-Sum Game
- 07/17/13--14:40: Chinese Factories Build Troubled Relationships
- 07/17/13--15:02: Lawmakers Push Back on Scope of NSA Surveillance Programs
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Old Senate Chamber for the Senate's joint conference on the filibuster Monday. Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call.
Senators remained in search of a deal Tuesday with the goal of avoiding a showdown over proposed changes to the chamber's rules that would allow a simple majority vote on several of President Barack Obama's stalled appointees.
Nearly all 100 members of the Senate met for more than three hours Monday night in the Old Senate Chamber, but despite reports of progress from Democrats and Republicans alike, party leaders said no agreement had been reached.
"We've had a very good conversation," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters afterwards. "The conversation is going to continue tonight."
Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said in a statement: "A clear bipartisan majority in the meeting believed the leaders ought to find a solution. And discussions will continue."
The Washington Post's Paul Kane and Ed O'Keefe highlight some of the reaction from other members:
"There's no deal but there's a much better understanding," said Sen. John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), one of his party's most senior senators. Rockefeller said there was a framework for a possible deal before the showdown votes on Obama's current picks to run the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Some exited more grim, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who spent the previous week in shuttle diplomacy with Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the White House.
Asked whether Reid had come around, McCain said simply: "Yes, sort of." He said the talks were now firmly between Reid and McConnell, predicting a long night ahead.
Politico's Manu Raju, Josh Bresnahan and Burgess Everett report on some of what was said inside the senators-only meeting:
According to several sources familiar with the matter, McConnell floated the possibility that Reid could essentially get what he wanted: Enough votes to confirm seven presidential nominees awaiting action by the Senate. But there was a catch: Reid must drop his threat to employ the nuclear option that would allow him to change the filibuster rules with just Democratic votes. Reid would not agree to the condition because McConnell refused to forgo filibustering future presidential nominees.
Yet, Senate insiders cautioned late Monday night that there was still time for a bipartisan deal before the fight comes to a head on Tuesday morning.
The leaders are pushing up against a 10 a.m. ET deadline, when the Senate is scheduled to come into session, and soon thereafter begin voting on seven presidential nominees that Reid set up last week.
Earlier in the day Monday it appeared the Senate was headed toward a full-scale fight over nominees, with Reid delivering remarks at a left-leaning Washington think tank defending his push to curb the use of the filibuster.
"My efforts are directed at saving the Senate from becoming obsolete, to remain relevant and effective as an institution," Reid said in a speech at the Center for American Progress.
The Obama administration also weighed in, urging senators to find a solution that would allow the president to fill his second term roster.
"The president believes that the Senate ought to function and hopes the Senate will figure out a way that the nomination process is appropriately streamlined," said White House press secretary Jay Carney at Monday's briefing.
Other Democrats were more forceful in their calls for the rules to be changed.
"We have a system here where 41 senators decide what we do here," said five-term Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin.
But Arizona Republican Jeff Flake warned that altering the rules of the Senate could have serious long-term consequences. "The rule change that is being considered this week is more far-reaching and more significant than has been advertised," Flake said. "It has the potential to change this institution in ways that are both hazardous and unforeseen."
And while the filibuster talk has dominated the conversation in Washington of late, the Pew Research Center's Drew DeSilver notes that the procedural measure is a bit of mystery to people outside the nation's capital.
DeSilver also provides this interesting factoid about the filibuster:
A "filibuster" originally was a military adventurer, usually American or European, who tried to take over a Latin American or Caribbean country (William Walker being the best-known); the term derives from the same Dutch word that gave us "freebooter."
While the action taking place in the Senate is hardly an adventure, by pushing forward with changes to the chamber's rules on Tuesday lawmakers could be venturing into uncharted territory.
For some background, the NewsHour explained how the filibuster works and why it's become a point of contention in the Senate. Watch that segment from last November here or below:
President Obama paid tribute to former President George H.W. Bush at the White House on Monday, praising the 41st president for his work in establishing the "Points of Light" charitable foundation, which celebrates volunteerism. "Mr. President, I'm one of millions of people who've been inspired by your passion and commitment," Mr. Obama said. "You're such a gentleman, such a good and kind person, and we are surely a kinder and gentler nation because of you."
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she'll use her political connections with heads of state to help stop the poaching of African elephants, Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post writes.
The trial that will test a controversial voter ID law in Pennsylvania began Monday.
The California Supreme Court on Monday denied a request from supporters of Proposition 8 to reinstate the 2008 voter-approved measure that banned gay marriage in the state. Last month the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling that paved the way for same-sex marriages in California to resume.
Politico's Byron Tau reports the president's re-election campaign still carries $3.5 million in debt.
The Washington Post's Dan Balz explores whether Texas Gov. Rick Perry might make another run for president in 2016.
The left-leaning Public Policy Polling found that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's approval ratings have dropped in the last month amid disclosures he and his family received money and gifts from a campaign donor.
Terry McAuliffe's campaign announced Monday that the Virginia Democrat raised nearly $2 million in June and has more than $6 million cash on hand for his gubernatorial bid. Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli hauled in $1.1 million and had $2.7 million in the bank.
The Texas Tribune reports Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis raised nearly $1 million in the last two weeks of June after her filibuster of a restrictive abortion bill. If Davis decided to run for governor she would have a long way to go to catch the front-runner for the GOP nomination, Greg Abbott. The Texas Attorney General has more than $20 million cash on hand.
Stu Rothenberg explains how the decision by former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer not to run for the Senate in 2014 will impact the Democratic Party's hopes of holding on to the seat.
NBC News' Alexa Dragoumis looks at the legacies of Senate appointments, often serve brief stints on Capitol Hill.
A Quinnipiac University survey released Monday found former Rep. Anthony Weiner leading the Democratic primary for New York City mayor with 25 percent of the vote. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn received 22 percent support in the poll. In the Democratic primary battle for city comptroller, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer leads Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer by 15 points, 48 percent to 33 percent.
An aide to Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., was arrested for thefts in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill.
WNYC notes a secretive February 2012 meeting between President Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the White House that may have meant the presidential incumbent candidate was courting an endorsement.
United Football League franchise employees and coaches are suing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul, who owns the now-defunct league. They claim he owes them payments.
Former CIA Director David Petraeus will earn $1 for teaching at City University of New York after a dust-up over his initial much-higher salary, the New York Times reports.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan plans to run for re-election instead of launching a gubernatorial bid.
The Chicago Tribune has an incredible amount of detail packed into their interactive map of gun violence in the city.
NewsHour reporter-producer Joshua Barajas looks to the distant past and finds three New York politicians who survived scandals to stage comebacks.
The NewsHour looked at reactions to the Zimmerman verdict and how race may factor into the criminal justice system. Judy Woodruff spoke with four analysts: Christina Swarns of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Jelani Cobb of the University of Connecticut, Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School and Carol Swain at Vanderbilt Law School.Watch Video
Correspondent Jeffrey Brown got an update on efforts to improve factory conditions in Bangladesh from Avedis Seferian of Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production and Scott Nova of Worker Rights Consortium.
Gwen Ifill spoke with USA Today's Christine Brennan about the doping revelations from U.S. track star Tyson Gay.
NewsHour reporter-producer P.J. Tobia reports on the Israeli government's decision to release 14 Eritreans from a detention facility and send them back to Eritrea. And if you missed it when it was published last month, be sure to check out ["Unpromised Land"],(http://www.pbs.org/newshour/unpromised-land/) Tobia's in-depth look at Eritrean refugees in Israel.
New behind-the-scenes photo: 44 gets a new pair of socks from 41 pic.twitter.com/eO5R9eUth2— petesouza (@petesouza) July 16, 2013
Inside the big Senate meeting, most senators are thinking ... boy I wish i were watching the HR derby.— Jonathan Cohn (@CitizenCohn) July 16, 2013
Breaking Rand Paul quote upon leaving meeting: "I just have to go the restroom." #journalism— daveweigel (@daveweigel) July 16, 2013
Keep us posted! "@JohnCornyn: In old Senate Chamber with full Senate meeting on "nuclear option""— carl hulse (@hillhulse) July 15, 2013
I'm imagining this closed-door, all-Senators #NukeOption meeting as a Mel Brooks movie.— David M. Drucker (@DavidMDrucker) July 15, 2013
New art at Foggy Bottom Trader Joe's, featuring Barney Frank, Bachmann, Boehner, Holmes Norton pic.twitter.com/48WVwWJCEQ— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) July 15, 2013
SPOTTED on the 235: Rand Paul for President bumper sticker. #iacaucus— Tim Albrecht (@TimAlbrechtIA) July 15, 2013
@pareene This is all a Bloomberg plot to get a fourth term.— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) July 15, 2013
For more political coverage, visit our politics page.
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Oswaldo Lopez of Madera, Calif., is cooled by his crew as he runs in the AdventureCORPS Badwater 135 ultra-marathon race on July 15, 2013 in Death Valley National Park, Calif. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.
Update: 2:30 p.m. EDT | Carlos Alberto Gomes De Sá of Portugal has been named winner of the the 2013 Badwater Ultramarathon. He finished in 24 hours and 38 minutes.
Monday morning. 6 a.m. Death Valley. A group of runners line up along an asphalt road. The road cuts through 200 square miles of salt flats, where delicate salt crystals have formed a thin crust over layers of mud in the valley's Badwater Basin. The temperature is already 93 degrees Fahrenheit and expected to peak to 118 degrees by 3 p.m.
These runners don't look like your average marathoner. They are clad in wide-brimmed hats, some with flaps that cover their ears and necks, and white, long-sleeved, paper-thin shirts. Some have hand covers, arm stockings and knee-high socks.
It is the start of the AdventureCORPS Badwater 135, an ultramarathon, which begins in Badwater and ends halfway up Mount Whitney, where the road ends and the trail to the peak begins. The qualifying 96 athletes have 48 hours to run 135 miles through desert, valleys and three mountain ranges, in some of the most extreme conditions of any race in the world.
"Most human bodies aren't designed to operate effectively and efficiently at 120 degrees, says Chris Kostman, organizer of the race and president of AdventureCORPS. "The distance is certainly challenging, but the heat really [is] the biggest factor -- and it's not just the air temperature. It's also the road surface temperature, because the road will hold the heat in and then radiate up to 200 degrees up their feet and legs."
Last year's winner was 40-year-old Floridian Mike Morton, who finished in 22 hours 52 minutes.
Key to the athletes' survival are the race's 500 crew members. Most runners choose between two to six people, including friends, family and fellow ultrarunners, to join them on the race route. Some runners get paired up with volunteers the weekend before the race.
Temperatures in Death Valley are some of the hottest in the world. July 10 marked the 100-year anniversary of the all-time hottest world record temperature of 134 degrees, set in Death Valley where the average high in July is 116 degrees. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.
There are also a dozen medical staff and 40-50 race officials and volunteers, assigned to a variety of tasks from monitoring the course for environmental hazards such as fires or floods (both of which have occurred during previous races), informing racers and crews of changes to the route, alerting medical staff of health risks, and keeping time.
This is writer Marshall Ulrich's 19th time running Badwater. His crew includes his next door neighbor, 72-year-old Roger Kaufhold; firefighter and EMT Jill Andersen; his editor Karen Risch; and Perry Gray, a Canadian runner that attended a running camp conducted by Ulrich.
Stakes are high for the crews, and the constant monitoring in the Death Valley heat can be grueling work. Crew members are usually divided into two shifts, to allow them a few hours of sleep here and there. As the race unfolds, they leapfrog their runners to meet up with them at every mile, and they do everything they can to help make sure their runner stays hydrated and fueled. They replenish water bottles, hand off small amounts of food and salt tablets, spray the runners with water and replace the ice packets they wear around their necks and heads. They exchange shoes when a runner's feet swell or get too hot from the searing heat radiating off the road. And all of their duties are logged and monitored, so they can think ahead and anticipate the next bout of hunger or thirst.
Don Meyers has been at nearly every AdventureCORPS Badwater since 2000. He completed the race himself in 2001, has been a crew member for several years and is now a race official. He explained that one of the most important tasks of a crew member is ensuring that runners are urinating every 30-60 minutes: a sign of hydration.
"If someone is not urinating, it means either you are not putting enough [water] in or there is something going on," Meyers said. "If that is not happening, it's not a matter of if, it's when that you are going to have a problem."
The crew also provides mental and emotional support. For Ulrich, even though he has successfully completed the course 18 times, there is always a point where he starts questioning himself, he says: "Mentally, there are times that I will be out there and think, 'What am I doing this for?' So, I'll ask someone to hang out with me [so I can] express those feelings. We have very intimate conversations out there."
Meyers echoed Ulrich's comments. "Your crew is everything. You can be the toughest guy in the world, and you are 20 percent of the equation. The crew is 80 percent."
The mental strength required may partly account for why ultramarathons tend to attract an older demographic, Kostman said. This year, for example, the average age of the qualifying competitor for Badwater is 46 years old. That's compared to a standard marathon, in which runners average 38.4 years old, according to Running USA's "2013 Annual Marathon Report."
Ulrich says he considers running in Death Valley to be more dangerous and difficult than climbing to the top of Mount Everest (which he has also done).
"If you were to freeze to death, there would be signs that it was happening," he said. "Out in Death Valley, the temperatures are reaching 130 degrees, and things can happen very quickly. Without water, in a matter or two or three hours, you can be dead."
Double amputee Chris Moon of the U.K. runs in the AdventureCORPS Badwater 135. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.
Staying hydrated in the heat of Death Valley is the biggest challenge for runners and crew members alike. Aside from the 48-hour time limit, dehydration is the primary reason runners will quit midway through the trek. About 15 percent of runners don't finish of a typical Badwater race, Kostman said.
Dr. Michael Joyner, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and exercise researcher, says the human body is extremely adaptable, and unlike many other mammals, humans have exquisite evaporative cooling mechanisms.
Increasing the amount of sweat, he said, helps a runner prepare for the extreme heat.
"Humans can double and sometimes triple their sweat rate through training," Joyner said.
Competitors spend hours in hot, dry saunas, until their kidneys eventually begin to retain more salt and their sweat becomes more dilute, which also helps them to retain their electrolytes. Plus, sweating keeps your skin cool, which means less blood flowing to your skin and more to your muscles.
"The sweat ... has more fluid and less salt; the salt stays in your bloodstream, and when you drink, the fluid that you drink is able to dilute that salt and restore your blood volume," he added.
Despite the many challenges, the desire to finish, Meyer said, can be overwhelmingly powerful.
"You want it so bad, and you are out there so long," he said. "It's unlike anything else in your life. Your feet are torn up. Your toenails fall off. But you still keep moving."
The payoff on reaching the finish line is a phenomenal sense of satisfaction -- and not just for the runners.
Says Meyer of the race he completed in 2002: "I remember the picture they took at the finish line. My crew guys were crying."
By Nick Corcodilos
Engineering hiring often creates other jobs and boosts the economy, but even, and perhaps especially, in a field like engineering, wowing employers is about controlling the interview and showing what you can do. Photo courtesy of Eva Serrabassa/the Agency Collection via Getty Images.
In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards, or salary negotiations. No guarantees -- just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.
Question: I'm an electronics design engineer. I'm in a situation in which my technical skills are not what they ought to be. The computer-aided design (CAD) tool capabilities have moved further along than those I am familiar with. Taking a course from one of the CAD vendors doesn't seem beneficial since I'd need my own full-blown workstation with licensed software if I wanted to practice at home. The question then becomes, how can I enhance my skills in this area? How do you get a job in a new company if you don't have these skills, especially if you are at a senior level? In other words, how do you overcome the constant struggle between employers demanding experience to hire you and your needing the job to gain the experience?
Nick Corcodilos: I wrote my first paid "Ask The Headhunter" Q&A columns for Electronic Engineering Times in 1997. As a Silicon Valley headhunter, engineers were my first real advice audience. You'd think in today's ultra-high-tech world, engineers would be in even more demand than they were in those days, but according to a recent Computerworld article, "Electrical Engineering Employment Trending Down," "The number of electrical engineers in the workforce has declined over the last decade." It's no higher than about 350,000. One engineer quoted in the article said, "The employers are very fussy. They are really only interested in a perfect match to their needs. They don't want the cost to develop talent internally."
The trick is this: You can't tackle the kind of situation you describe head-on. You must control it instead.
The head-on approach would be to first, pay for the CAD course, second, buy your own workstation, and third, spend any extra time in your day learning the new CAD system in enough depth that you can wow an employer. Then, when you can't get the job you want anyway, you're out lots of time and money. So I don't recommend that.
I think you handle this situation by controlling the interview. This involves getting beyond the employer's frantic need to hire the "exactly right CAD skills," and focusing instead on what really makes you a valuable worker. Knowing a particular CAD system is important, but that's not what makes anyone a valuable employee. To paraphrase an over-used invective that more employers would do well to heed: It's the engineer, stupid. Your challenge is to prove this to the employer and smarten him up.
Work your way past the employer's frenzy by taking that course and learning all you can about the CAD system that you're convinced is necessary for success in your next job, but don't buy the workstation or devote your life to it. Go as far in the training as is reasonable. Staying up-to-date on skills is your responsibility. Employers should make the investment, but few do any more.MORE FROM NICK CORCODILOS: Ask The Headhunter: Beating Age Discrimination -- Hired at 63!
You're a smart engineer because you realize CAD is a tool, not a job. The job is good design. So, in the interview, sell what you have lots of: engineering talent. Having proved your willingness to invest in the appropriate training, you need to focus your interview on what the employer is really paying for: good designs.
When the employer asks you to sit down at the workstation and show off your expertise, ask to see the concept for the design. Then ask about the product and manufacturing plans.
Demonstrate your more important engineering abilities first by saying, "Let me show you how I review a design before I get started. I'm a big believer in understanding the design and working out any bugs before I park myself in front of the CAD system. That's where good design work starts, and it's how costs are reduced."
Now you're controlling the interview, and you're helping the manager focus, too. (For more about how to control job interviews, see "The New Interview.")
Will some managers react negatively to that? Sure, some might, and they're fools. You cannot change them. But a smart manager will recognize talent and initiative, and unless you take steps to demonstrate both, you'll be lumped in with your competition as mediocre.
Having other experience with CAD and having taken the training, your learning curve will be fast. What you're demonstrating in the interview is your engineering acumen. Whether the manager realizes it or not, that's also what the manager is really buying. So explain it to him bluntly:
"You might find someone who has used this particular CAD system more than I have, but you'll be hard pressed to get profitable work as quickly as I'll be able to deliver it. Any tool is only as good as the engineer using it. I can ride a fast learning curve without falling off. With the extensive training I've already taken, I'll have a clean design done for you on this system within a week (or however long you think it will take)."
I know this sounds pretty blunt. That's intentional. An employer needs to hear the truth, so "Tell 'Em What They Need to Hear."
I think you'll avoid the catch-22 if you ante up the CAD training and show a strong engineering hand. That's control. I wish you the best.
I think engineers are the canary in our economy's coal mine. When engineers' ranks decline, we're in trouble. The Computerworld article goes on to say, "Electrical engineers are often employed in the development of technologies that can generate new jobs and even industries." If American companies are going to undermine our nation's engineering assets by playing naïve games with hiring and staffing, they will pay for it first -- and our society will pay much, much more in the long run.
Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth "how to" PDF books are available on his website: "How to Work With Headhunters...and how to make headhunters work for you," "How Can I Change Careers?", "Keep Your Salary Under Wraps" and "Fearless Job Hunting."
Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!
Copyright © 2013 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark. This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown -- NewsHour's blog of news and insight. Follow Paul on Twitter.Follow @PaulSolman
By Simone PatheWatch Video
In a 2010 two-part Making Sen$e report, the first of which you can watch above, Paul Solman explored how Goldman Sachs makes its money. In the second segment, which you can watch below, Paul looked more closely at Goldman's use of taxpayer money.
Goldman Sachs' second-quarter profits doubled this year compared to last, they announced Tuesday. Beating expectations of a $2.82-per-share haul, Goldman pulled in $3.70 a share in 2013's second quarter compared to $1.78 a share in the second quarter of 2012. Net income rose from $962 million to $1.93 billion.
This graph from Quartz shows that this year's net income is still far below its peak after the financial crisis.
"The firm's performance was solid, especially in the context of mixed economic sentiment during the quarter," Goldman chairman and chief executive Lloyd C. Blankfein said in a statement.
As Bloomberg notes, throughout the first half of 2013, Goldman Sachs has devoted proportionately less of its revenue to staff compensation than over the same period last year, and in the second quarter, they eliminated 300 positions.
But just how did Goldman increase their profits so dramatically? The bank reaped major returns from investing its own money. As Reuters reports, "The biggest source of growth was the investing and lending division, where revenue surged to $1.42 billion from $203 million a year earlier. JMP Securities analyst David Trone had expected the segment to produce revenue of $850 million."
With Goldman's investing and trading segment producing nearly seven times the profit this quarter as the same period last year, we decided to revisit our two-part Making Sen$e report from 2010 on how Goldman Sachs makes its money. After watching the two segments, consider this defense of Goldman that we received from a viewer.
But first, here's an excerpt of a conversation from our first segment between Paul Solman and Nomi Prins, a former Goldman Sachs trading strategist, about how Goldman posts such extraordinary profits:
Paul Solman: But consider how they're making those bucks, says Nomi Prins, on inside knowledge that comes in, as when she was there, with every trade a client asks Goldman to make.
Nomi Prins: And just by evidence from the profits that they make and where they make them and what divisions they make them in, they're not sitting on that knowledge. They have to be -- they are trading on that knowledge.
Paul Solman: So, they know somebody is going to buy a commodity or a currency, so they either buy that commodity or currency first or a commodity and currency very much like it?
Nomi Prins: Any information that you get, particularly if it's going to move the markets a lot, is -- is -- is going to filter into the trading positions you take.
But, we asked in 2010, isn't that front-running, trading ahead of your clients to profit from the price changes that will come from the clients' trades, but for your own firm's benefit? And isn't that, strictly speaking, illegal? Paul put the question to David Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget under Ronald Reagan and no stranger to the Making Sen$e Business Desk, as you can read here and here.
David Stockman: The long and ancient secret of Wall Street is they have always been front-running their clients. In other words, when you're in the customer trading business, and then you're in the proprietary business, which trade are you making first? I don't know. And, if it's in milliseconds, how's anybody going to figure it out?
So, I don't know if you ought to get all exercised on that or not, but the fact they make all this money in proprietary trading is clearly part and parcel of being a massive player, dealer, in the markets for both customer trades and house trades.
Last week, we dove deeper into the milliseconds' advantage trading firms enjoy with high-frequency trading.
After Goldman reported the most profitable year in Wall Street history in 2010, we wanted to investigate claims that taxpayer money -- funneled through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) -- was supporting most of its trades. Check out that report below.Watch Video
In his second report, Paul Solman looked more closely at the role taxpayer money plays in Goldman's profits. You can read the full transcript here.
And in other Goldman-related news, the Securities and Exchange Commission began Monday its civil fraud case against former Goldman Sachs trader Fabrice Tourre, "whose emails about the mortgage crisis became a symbol of Wall Street hubris," the New York Times wrote. Read Susanne Craig's and Ben Protess' fascinating profile of Tourre and his globe-trotting here.
JEFFREY BROWN: The reputed leader of one of Mexico's most vicious drug gangs was behind bars today. But it was unclear just how much that will do to ease drug violence that has raged for years.
A warning: Some of the images in our story are disturbing.
A Mexican newspaper headline this morning said it all: "Intelligence Action Decapitates the Zetas," a macabre play, no doubt, on one of the gang's grisly murderous methods.
The man named Z-40 was captured early Monday without a shot being fired, in the violence-wracked border city of Nuevo Laredo, just across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas.
EDUARDO SANCHEZ, Mexican Interior Ministry spokesperson (through translator): Members of Mexico's armed forces detained Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, 40 years old. He's accused of organized crime, homicide, crimes against health, torture, money laundering, and importing firearms normally used exclusively by the armed forces.
JEFFREY BROWN: In a trade marked by its brutality, the Zetas have earned a special reputation. Beyond the wanton killings of police, military, judges, politicians and civilians, Zetas have left a bloody trail of dead bodies, scattered in town squares or strung from bridges, and often left with profane "narcomantas," messages to their rivals and to the Mexican public.
Last summer, the NewsHour's Margaret Warner interviewed relatives of some of the 52 killed in a casino torched by the Zetas in 2011. One woman wouldn't even utter the word Zetas.
SAMARA PEREZ, family member of victim: If I tell you on an international network the name of the criminal organization, it's going to cost me my life.
JEFFREY BROWN: The Zetas were formed by former Mexican special forces as the security arm of another cartel. From there, they muscled their way to the top of the lucrative drug business and now control the trade in 11 Mexican states.
They are perhaps most active in Tamaulipas, where Trevino Morales was captured, Coahuila, and Nuevo Leon, home to Monterrey, Mexico's second largest city and its business capital.
Indeed, the gang's influence is so widespread that many Mexicans caution today against expecting immediate improvement.
RICARDO CAMARGO, Mexico (through translator): I don't think it will be over by catching one, because they arrest one and 20 crop up. On the other hand the government also knows who they are and I imagine know where they are.
JEFFREY BROWN: It's believed that Trevino Morales' younger brother, Omar, will assume the Zetas' leadership. As such, he will largely oversee the eastern drug corridors into the United States.
Zetas' only real rival now in terms of strength and breadth of operation is the Sinaloa cartel, which controls much of the Western Mexican routes into the U.S. The arrest of Trevino Morales marks a victory for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, but the challenge remains daunting.
His predecessor, Felipe Calderon, militarized the war against the cartels in 2006. But since then, at least 60,000 people have been killed. When the number of disappeared and presumed dead is added, that figure is more than 100,000.
JEFFREY BROWN: And for more, we're joined once again tonight by Alfredo Corchado, Mexico bureau chief for The Dallas Morning News.
So, how significant is this arrest? How big a figure is he?
ALFREDO CORCHADO, author of "Midnight in Mexico": This is a huge deal.
I mean, I think few people -- I can't think of anyone else who defines the decade like Trevino Morales.
As far as the violence, the headlines that we have gotten accustomed to in the United States and in Mexico this man was largely responsible, he and his cohorts, the Zetas, a paramilitary group, all along the U.S.-Mexico border, but also some of the violence in the Southwest, I mean in the state of Texas.
JEFFREY BROWN: So no shots were fired. What do we know so far about exactly how he was captured?
ALFREDO CORCHADO: This was I think the most surprising thing.
He had told several people, associates and friends, that he would never be caught alive, that he would -- in fact it was known that he carried a bullet just in case they ever surrounded him -- he would take that bullet and kill himself.
What we know is that there was a chase. A helicopter did a maneuver over the vehicle, stopped and then suddenly other vehicles showed up. It was I think a months-long investigation headed by the Mexican marines with some help of U.S. intelligence.
JEFFREY BROWN: So tell us a little bit more about this particular cartel. What kind of activities and as you were starting to say, how deep a reach into the United States?
ALFREDO CORCHADO: Well, he was -- I mean, it was much more than just a Mexican drug cartel. He was in charge of the piracy, prostitution, human smuggling, anything that had that made money through the illicit route.
Mr. Trevino Morales and the Zetas were in charge. He came of age as a criminal in Dallas in North Texas beginning in the early 1990s, went back to Nuevo Laredo, where he worked for a drug cartel leader, washing cars and later he cleaned chimneys.
And then his brother was a truck driver who would haul marijuana from Nuevo Laredo on to West Texas. And Cuarenta, as he's known, was the one who was one of the guys who was hauling the marijuana from Tamaulipas into the Texas market.
JEFFREY BROWN: As to the key question about what happens now and how much this impacts the cartel's ability to operate, what do we know about the cartel, its structure, its leadership? Can somebody like his brother step right in and things go on, or does this have an impact?
ALFREDO CORCHADO: I think it's been significantly weakened, but I think that it's expected that Omar known as number 42 would try to fill in the void.
But it is also known that other cartels, the Beltran Leyva, who the Zetas were associates with, closely associated with, Hector Beltran Leyva, and the Gulf cartel.
The Gulf cartel I think would be the ones that are more interested to watch in the coming months, because they're the ones who recruited the Zetas as enforcers and there's been a big rivalry.
It's expected and it's feared that in the next weeks to come or the months to come the violence will spike, as the Gulf cartel tries to retake what they still claim is their own distribution route, which is the Nuevo Laredo-Laredo route. I mean, it is one of the most lucrative in the entire U.S.-Mexico border.
People expect things to get bloody before they get calm again.
JEFFREY BROWN: That's what I was wondering, because how does this particular cartel fits in? There are others. We mentioned the Sinaloa constantly in competition I assume and how does what happened today fit into the rest of that overall picture?
ALFREDO CORCHADO: I think the hope if you talk to Mexican authorities and U.S. authorities is that whoever takes over in the end -- because as long as you have U.S. demand for drugs there will be a flow.
But the hope is that whoever takes over is much more of a business-minded leader and not a vicious person like Trevino Morales has been over the years.
JEFFREY BROWN: This was also the first big arrest or killing under the still relatively new administration of President Pena Nieto. He has promised -- he came into office promising a different strategy and not so much a warlike approach. Does this tell us something about that?
ALFREDO CORCHADO: Well, you know, he has been in office six, seven months. It's too early to tell.
What people keep insisting is that this is not necessarily an administration victory, but more the Mexican marines. But it also says that Pena Nieto promising to lower violence and the capture of Trevino Morales I think will go a long ways to achieving that goal at least in the short term.
Again they are expecting a lot violence in the weeks to come, months to come, but I think this arrest has captured long term people hope will -- will somehow will calm things along the U.S.-Mexican border and things will resume at a slower pace, the bloodshed will come down.
And for a lot of journalists, it's also a big victory, because he was he able to control so many regions that he basically forced them into silence and censorship.
A lot of people are breathing a sigh of relief but they also know there is still a lot more to go before they can actually claim and sing victory.
JEFFREY BROWN: Let me just ask you very briefly, if you could, the president had put some limitations -- Mexico's president had put some limitations on U.S. operations. Is there anything known about whether the U.S. played any role in providing information or otherwise in this arrest?
ALFREDO CORCHADO: Well, we have been told that the U.S. did play a role in the intelligence. And I think we can also kind of see that the 12 years under the opposition party that they were able to -- that a lot of the contacts in the regional level at the local level continue, in spite of trying to limit the role of the United States.
I mean, from everyone that we talked to today, there was a role of the U.S. government, although it's understandable I think at least on the U.S. -- on the United States' side that they're trying to downplay that as much as possible.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Alfredo Corchado of The Dallas Morning News from Mexico City, thanks so much.
ALFREDO CORCHADO: Thank you, Jeff.
KWAME HOLMAN: Negative reaction to a Florida jury's finding that George Zimmerman broke no law when he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin continued today.
There were more rallies around the country.
PROTESTERS: No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!
KWAME HOLMAN: For a second day and neither there were protests against the verdict. Most were peaceful. In Washington, crowds rallied outside the White House against the acquittal of Zimmerman. And in Houston activists staged a mock funeral in the streets. But as night fell demonstrations in California turned violent.
Protesters in Oakland blocked major roadways and attacked bystanders. Police made nine arrests and used flash grenades to disperse crowds. And in Los Angeles there were 13 arrests after some demonstrators broke away from a prayer rally and smashed windows.
L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck:
CHARLIE BECK, Los Angeles, Calif., police chief: We want to let people speak up in a lawful and a peaceful way to honor the ideas of which they wish to protest. But we cannot allow that activity to infringe on the property rights and the physical safety of the residents of this community.
KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, one of the six jurors who returned the not guilty verdict told CNN's Anderson Cooper the panel was split at first and getting to a decision was painful.
WOMAN: I want people to know that we put everything into everything to get this verdict. We didn't just go in there and say, we're going to come in here and just do guilty/not guilty. We thought about it for hours and cried over it afterwards.
KWAME HOLMAN: In the end, the juror known only as B-37 says she believes Zimmerman did fear for his life, but that he should have stayed in his car and that Trayvon Martin should have kept walking.
WOMAN: I think both were responsible for the situation they had gotten themselves into. I think both of them could have walked away. It just didn't happen.
KWAME HOLMAN: For his part, George Zimmerman remained out of sight today but new demonstrations began in Houston and elsewhere.
This afternoon, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder charged that stand your ground laws in Florida and elsewhere encourage violent situations to escalate. He addressed the NAACP convention in Orlando.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force, if -- and the if is important -- if no safe retreat is available.
But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the commonsense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely.
KWAME HOLMAN: Holder gave no indication when the Justice Department will decide whether it will charge George Zimmerman with any federal civil rights violations.
The man who leaked information on U.S. surveillance programs, Edward Snowden, formally asked today for temporary asylum in Russia. He's been in the Moscow airport's transit zone for the last three weeks. If he's granted asylum, Snowden could work and travel in Russia for at least a year.
A North Korean-flagged ship is being held in Panama after authorities there apparently found ballistic missile equipment. The ship had sailed from Cuba on its way to the Pacific via the Panama Canal. President Ricardo Martinelli says his government originally was tipped off that the vessel carried drugs, hidden beneath bags of sugar. Instead, they found weapons.
PRESIDENT RICARDO MARTINELLI, Panama (through translator): It's extremely sophisticated. It appears that these are aerial or defense missiles. We don't know what's in the other containers but we will have to take out all the sugar to determine what's in this ship.
KWAME HOLMAN: Martinelli said the ship's North Korean crew 35 in all resisted efforts to divert the vessel into port. They were taken into custody.
On Wall Street today, investors turned cautious a day before the chairman of the Federal Reserve gives his latest report on the economy. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 32 points to close below 15,452. The Nasdaq fell nearly nine points to close at 3,598.
Those are some of the day's major stories.
Map by Stratfor.
Drug lord Miguel Angel "Z-40" Trevino Morales was arrested early in the morning Monday on a country dirt road after a Mexican Marine helicopter intercepted the pickup truck he was riding in. Besides carrying $2 million in cash and eight guns, Trevino Morales, the alleged kingpin of the feared cartel Los Zetas, was wanted for a spate of crimes in the U.S. and Mexico, ranging from the mundane to the horrific.
There are a handful of drug cartels in Mexico, most of which run almost like corporations. But Los Zetas stands out.
"The Zetas were involved in 20 different criminal activities," George Grayson, an expert on the Zetas and professor of government at the College of William & Mary, said. "Extortion, smuggling, torture, possible harvesting of human body parts. You name it, the Zetas did it."
Photo taken from a screen of Miguel Angel Trevino Morales by YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images.
These types of brutal dealings by Los Zetas -- originally a bodyguard group for another cartel -- upset the status quo.
"The traditional cartels buy off politicians, establish traffic routes for smuggling and make money. Then come the Zetas, with no background in narcotics, and they start chopping peoples heads off," Grayson said. "That's bad for the bottom line."
Drug cartels have famously eluded capture by the Mexican government as the problem has crossed the border and headed north: 1,000 U.S cities reported the presence of a Mexican cartel in 2010, according to this graphic by the National Post. So how does Morales, who came into power just last year after his predecessor was shot and killed by authorities and his Los Zetas fit into the underworld that is Mexican cartels? (Watch our piece Mexican Marines Kill Drug Lord Known as 'The Executioner'.)
Graphic from NDIC.
Mainly, Clayson notes a "Zetalisation" starting to occur among the other cartels.
"Sadism was their brand. Even the Sinaloas are now decapitating people," he said. "You have to keep up with the Joneses. You have to have cartel cred -- being known as the meanest, most savage criminal organization in the Americas."
In 2009, the Mexican government identified the country's 37 most wanted criminals. About two dozen have been captured or killed, including some from Los Zetas:
Ivan Velazquez Caballero (aka "El Taliban") Cartel: Los Zetas Captured: Sept. 26, 2012 Velazquez started out stealing cars in his hometown of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, and was jailed there. Upon his release, he was put in charge of the cartel in Nuevo Laredo but then relocated to Zacatecas and rose through the ranks of Los Zetas. He was arrested by the Mexican Navy in 2012.
Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano (aka "The Executioner") Cartel: Los Zetas Killed: Oct. 7, 2012 Lazcano was the leader of the Los Zetas cartel. Earlier in life, he was trained in a Mexican Special Forces unit to fight drug-trafficking organizations. He was recruited to Los Zetas, where he rose to commander. Lazcano died in a shootout with the Mexican Navy. His body was stolen from the funeral home.
Miguel Angel Trevino Morales (aka "Comandante 40") Cartel: Los Zetas Captured: July 15, 2013 Trevino Morales became head of the Los Zetas cartel after the death of long-time leader Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano in October 2012. Known for his brutality, one technique he allegedly favored was the guiso, or stew, in which enemies would be placed in 55-gallon drums and burned alive.
Mexican government security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez (C) speaks during a press conference, accompanied by Mexican Navy General Jorge Victor (L) and Mexican Army General Martin Terrones (R) to present details of the military operation in which Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, the alleged drug lord behind the cartel Los Zetas, was arrested. Photo by YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images.
Reporter producer Larisa Epatko contributed to this report.
GWEN IFILL: With a mid-morning deadline looming, Senate leaders reached an agreement today to avert a showdown over changing the chamber's rules.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid emerged from days of tense negotiation to declare the Senate has achieved a new normal.
SEN. HARRY REID, D-Nev.: I think it is going to be something that is good for the Senate. It is a compromise. And I think we get what we want. And they get what they want. Not a bad deal.
GWEN IFILL: A compromise which cleared the way for Senate confirmation of five White House nominees and the replacement of two others ended a partisan standoff that could have ground the Senate to a halt.
Senators moved to confirm Richard Cordray, President Obama's pick to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. His nomination has been in limbo for two years. An early procedural vote cleared the way.
MAN: On this vote, the yeas are 71, the nays are 29.
GWEN IFILL: Next up, labor secretary nominee Thomas Perez, Gina McCarthy, the president's pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency, Fred Hochberg as head of the Export Import Bank, and Mark Gaston Pearce slated to step at the National Labor Relations Board.
As part of today's deal, the White House agreed to withdraw two other NLRB nominees, Richard Griffin and Sharon Block. Partisan rancor heated up in recent days as Reid vowed to change Senate rules and quash threatened filibusters over the executive branch nominees.
Today, some distrust remained.
SEN. BOB CORKER, R-Tenn.: But I do hope that members on the other side will note this good-faith effort. I don't think it's healthy for this body to constantly have potential rules changes hanging over the issues of our nation.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, I-Vt.: While this agreement addresses the immediate need for the president of the United States to have his Cabinet and his senior staff confirmed, this agreement today only addresses one symptom of a seriously dysfunctional Senate.
GWEN IFILL: A showdown was averted only after senators gathered last night for a rare bipartisan closed-door meeting in the old Senate chamber. Today, leaders from both parties said the crisis was avoided only after the other side gave in.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky.: The understanding is that none of our rights will be waived. I mean, for example, 60-vote thresholds on controversial nominees will still have to be achieved. So in a sense, that's the regular way that we handle business here in the Senate.
SEN. HARRY REID: There's a feeling around here. Now feelings don't last forever. And I understand that. But we're not -- they're not sacrificing their right to filibuster and we damn sure are not filibustering our right to change the rules if necessary.
GWEN IFILL: A supermajority, or 60 votes, will still be needed to overcome future filibusters. And today's agreement doesn't apply to judicial nominees.
But, for now, the Senate plans to continue voting on President Obama's being choices, breaking a logjam years in the making.
For more on today's compromise and what it means for the Senate and the White House, we are joined by Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley and Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker.
Gentlemen, thank you both for joining us.
Why did it take for a closed-door bipartisan meeting, one that happens so rarely, for the Senate to come to some accommodation on this, Sen. Wicker?
SEN. ROGER WICKER, R-Miss.: Well, I think it's a matter of listening to each other.
And I made the point on the Senate floor last Thursday to Leader Reid, a lot of times it's just the leaders on the floor oftentimes speaking to an empty chamber and rank and file members like Jeff and I don't talk enough.
I think it's a matter of listening, learning what the grievances were, the perceived grievances, and seeing if we could find common ground.
GWEN IFILL: Let's talk about the common ground, Sen. Merkley. Usually, in a compromise, both sides get something. What did each side get in this case?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY, D-Ore.: Well, in this case, we get seven up-or-down votes on some very important nominations.
And it's our hope that this will be a model for returning to the norms and traditions of the Senate, where filibusters on executive nominations are very rare.
And, certainly, neither side gave ground on the future, neither the Republicans saying that they won't filibuster, nor the Democrats saying if there are filibusters outside of the norm that we won't come back to this conversation again.
GWEN IFILL: All of the Americans watching the way the Senate functions might ask a question. Senator Reid put it this way earlier today.
And I will start with you, Sen. Merkley, and then I want to hear from you, Sen. Wicker.
He said that this is the new normal? Is it the new normal or a variation on the old?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: We certainly hope that it will be the new normal because, essentially, as a way to summarize the Senate, it's supposed to be a deliberative body, sometimes characterized as being a cooling saucer, in the words of President Washington.
But it's not supposed to be a deep freeze. And that's where we feel we have been. And we have also adopted these new traditions -- and I say that in the best context -- things that just weren't the way the Senate acted in the past. In the period of time from President Eisenhower to President Ford, there wasn't a single filibuster of an executive nomination.
And so trying to return to that period where the power of advise and consent wasn't obstruct and destroy is very important.
GWEN IFILL: Is that where we are today, Sen. Wicker, with obstruct and destroy, instead of advise and consent?
SEN. ROGER WICKER: I think filibusters are sometimes in the eye of the beholder.
Oftentimes, the leader will call a bill up, fill up the amendment tree, and then file cloture, and he will call that a filibuster. Let me make this point about the appointments. President Obama has appointed some 1,500 executive and agency nominations. He's gotten all of them through except for four.
If he were a Major League batter, he'd be batting .999. So it's one thing to say we have had a lot of filibusters. I think the result has been protection of the right of the minority to get some information, to have some face-time with nominees. But in the long run, the vast overwhelming majority of them get confirmed, and we have still protected the executive's prerogative and the right of the minority, and we still have a Senate that reaches consensus and conciliation.
GWEN IFILL: Sen. Wicker, you're not including judicial nominations in your figures, are you?
SEN. ROGER WICKER: There's never -- as a matter of fact, since the gang of 14 back in 2005, there have been only two judicial nominations stopped through the filibuster.
So I think our record is pretty good. Oftentimes, we use that to get extra information, to give us a little extra time for more consideration. But in eight years' time, only two judicial nominations stopped by this filibuster, but it actually was a practice begun by the Democrats. Still a pretty good record of confirmation overall.
GWEN IFILL: Sen. Merkley, at a distance, it looks a little bit like the well is pretty well poisoned often between Republicans and Democrats in Senate and in the House. What do you think that this agreement for portends for that?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Well, I do feel that this represents a moment where Democrats and Republicans sat down, listened to each other and formed a compromise.
It's an effort to make the Senate more functional. And, certainly, as you indicated in your previous question, we have a big challenge with judicial nominations. My colleague's numbers don't really capture the fact that we only bring a nomination to the floor once the Republican leader has assured us there won't be a filibuster in order to save the Senate time.
So, there's a vast amount of delay and obstruction that is taking place, in addition to the numbers that he represented. And here we are, we can't even start a conference committee on a budget, even though the House has passed a budget and the Senate has passed a budget, because it is being filibustered.
And certainly that's strange, because why shouldn't you be able to start a conversation with the House to try to reach common budget numbers? We can't get a bill to the floor on sequestration because it's being filibustered. We can't get a bill to the floor on background checks.
So, I think we need to pause in this moment and say Democrats and Republicans did listen to each other. We worked out a deal. We hope it will be a model for a better path forward, but we have got a lot more conversations to work on.
And that's critical, because, right now, the Senate's dysfunction not only is a disservice to the country. It's breeding vast cynicism about the ability of government to be able to take on the challenges that we face in America.
GWEN IFILL: Sen. Wicker, I do want you to respond to that especially about the part about whether you agree that the Senate is actually dysfunctional.
SEN. ROGER WICKER: I think the Senate is dysfunctional for a number of reasons.
There are a lot of frustrations on the part of Democrats and Republicans. Look, but let me speak, for example, to the budget issue. We didn't have a budget for three years.
Now instead of moving to go to conference, the Democratic majority is asking for unanimous consent to go to Congress, because they know if they moved to go to Congress, our side would have an opportunity to send some motions to instruct to the floor.
So there's two sides to this issue. And frankly if the chairman of Budget and the leader of the Democrats want to go to conference, they can simply offer a motion to go to conference.
We would have an opportunity to offer our amendments and go forward. Instead, they have made it more difficult by making it where 100 of us have to agree.
GWEN IFILL: I guess my final question for you both is whether there always has to be a nuclear option, as this is called, in order for movement to happen on any issue, Sen. Merkley and then Sen. Wicker.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Well, I would say at this point there's so much in partisan divide, and we don't have the three networks pulling us together from the 1970s and '80s.
We don't have the relationships that come from being in the foxhole together, as the senators did when I first came here in 1976 as an intern. We don't have that framework. And, therefore, we either need to find ways to reconstruct a new social contract, or we need to change the rules.
And that option of changing the rules is the option we don't want to go to. It's why Sen. Reid started in January 2011 with a gentleman's agreement. It's why he reached a bipartisan agreement with minor changes in January 2013.
But if we cannot find that social contract, then we have the responsibility to the American citizens to make the Senate work and that means changing the rules and that probably means using a nuclear option.
GWEN IFILL: Sen. Wicker, it doesn't sound like anything much has changed.
SEN. ROGER WICKER: No, actually, I feel a lot better than -- I think we are in much better shape than we were at this time yesterday.
We had a session in the old Senate chamber and we actually listened to each other. Almost 100 senators were in there. We listened for three hours and 15 minutes. And I think this idea of a social contract where rank and file members like Jeff and like Roger Wicker are able to talk to each other and actually air grievances apart from the leaderships talking past each other, I feel a lot better and I think we're on a better track because of what we have gone through.
GWEN IFILL: Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, thank you. Democrat-Republican, Republican-Democrat, always good to see. Thank you both very much.
SEN. ROGER WICKER: Thank you, Gwen.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: You're welcome. Thank you.
GWEN IFILL: And this evening, the Senate did easily confirm Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
JEFFREY BROWN: And now to the volatile situation in Egypt.
After a week of relative peace in the country, violent clashes returned last night.
Ray Suarez reports.
RAY SUAREZ: Supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi poured into Cairo streets last night calling for his return to power. They marched onto one of the capital's busiest bridges. And that's where tensions boiled over.
A crew from PBS's FRONTLINE captured the scene, as police fired tear gas and demonstrators threw rocks, burned tires, and blocked the roadway. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood claimed police fired live ammunition and bird shot. At least seven people were killed, more than 260 were hurt and more than 400 arrested.
This morning, relative calm returned, but Morsi supporters promised it's not over.
MAN (through translator): What happened yesterday is part of the military's plan to play around with people's nerves. But we would like to send a message to the military that even if they kill hundreds of thousands of people, we will not leave until legitimacy is restored.
RAY SUAREZ: Still, the country's interim leaders, including newly named Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, insists there's no going back. Fahmy spoke recently with "Frontline."
NABIL FAHMY, interim Egyptian foreign minister: The major intervention is an exceptional circumstance, there's no question. But what are your options?
As I said previously, the ballot box is a license to govern. It's not a mandate to rule. So you can govern. That means governing your constituency and the other constituencies. It doesn't give you a right to impose your vision of Egypt on us all.
RAY SUAREZ: The military leader who ousted Morsi, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, was named deputy prime minister today in a new interim cabinet. The Muslim Brotherhood refused to take any post in the government.
One of the group's leaders, Essam el-Erian says he blames the United States for what has happened in Egypt. He spoke with GlobalPost's Charles Sennott, who is working with the "Frontline" team.
ESSAM EL-ERIAN, Muslim Brotherhood: A green light came from Washington to those militants, to the leaders of the army to support this revolution, anti-revolution, the military. And I hope that Americans can understand they lost time and lost power in this region when they are against the will and choice of the people in a democratic process.
RAY SUAREZ: But Deputy Secretary of State William Burns was in Cairo yesterday insisting that the U.S. is not taking sides.
WILLIAM BURNS, U.S. deputy secretary of state: We know that Egyptians must forge their own path to democracy.
We know that this will not mirror our own, and we will not try to impose our model on Egypt. What the United States will do is stand behind certain basic principles, not any particular personalities or parties.
RAY SUAREZ: For more on all of this, I spoke to GlobalPost editor at large Charles Sennott a short time ago.
Charles Sennott, welcome.
Since the confrontations that we saw in your footage, Egypt has sworn in a new government. The interim president has installed new cabinet ministers. Is it a calmer day and night in Cairo?
CHARLES SENNOTT, GlobalPost: It was a bit calmer today.
I would say it felt very much like a Ramadan day, in which people are fasting here for the holy month of Ramadan. I think last night's clashes were so violent, so intense that today seemed to be a day where everyone was regrouping on some level, maybe reflecting on where this is headed.
RAY SUAREZ: Which are the different factions that are out on the street? With Egyptians taking to the street to say what is on their mind, what are the main divisions?
CHARLES SENNOTT: Well, we were with the Muslim Brotherhood today at the Rab'a mosque, which has become their headquarters.
And there we talked to a lot of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership who said they organized the marches last night on the 6 October Bridge which is the central artery that runs through Cairo. And they say very openly that they are organizing these marches as a way to protest what they see as a military coup.
They say that the elected President Morsi was detained by the military, is kept in an undisclosed location, and that he is the legitimate president, and that they are going to keep up the street demonstrations until his presidency is restored and he is released.
The other side here is harder to define. It's much broader. And it's represented by millions of people who took to the streets on June 30 demanding that President Morsi call early elections or resign. That group includes people who used to be with the Muslim Brotherhood, who voted for Morsi, who are sort of a wide collection, mostly of liberals of a sort of more secular side of society.
I think it's harder to define them. They represent a lot of people. But they came out in force and they spoke. And they believe that it is a good thing that Morsi has been out ousted.
I don't think all of them would agree that it is a good thing that the military intervene to accomplish this, but I think there is a sense here of two very distinct sides brewing, Muslim Brotherhood one side saying Morsi must be restated, and the other side is a big collection of broad groupings of secular, some religious and others who believe we have to move forward with this democracy, and to do that we need new elections and we need to elect a new president.
RAY SUAREZ: You mentioned at the outset that it is Ramadan, and in much of the Arab world that means people staying up late, having dinner together late at night.
Does that create a situation where there are more likely to be people out on the street late at night and make it easier to get something going politically?
CHARLES SENNOTT: You know, I think Ramadan cuts both ways.
Ramadan is a time when people are fasting from sunrise to sunset. It's very hot here. It is a time when people are very quiet during the day. As the sun sets, they have the Iftar. They break the fast, and they gather largely as families.
One of the things we are hearing a lot about are families that are deeply divided on what was the right thing to do here.
Should Morsi have been put down as the president, ousted by the military or not? Did the military do the right thing? Is it upholding sort of the greater democracy here, the sort of public sentiment on the street?
But, at night, yes, definitely, you see this sense that, you know, around 9:00 at night, there is definitely a larger presence on the street, people stay up very late, and then it cuts the other way. You have a lot of young people who are taking to the streets after breaking the fast and we saw that last night.
The streets were packed. It was very violent confrontations, as you have seen, and very much a sense from the Muslim Brotherhood that they are going to confront the military on this.
And the question is, where does this end? Will we see this continuing violence? Will it escalate or might it tone down? And right now it's very difficult to call.
RAY SUAREZ: In recent weeks, back here in the United States, President Obama has been criticized by elected officials for taking something of a hands-off attitude toward Egypt while in Egypt rival factions are complaining that the United States is too involved.
How is that happening?
CHARLES SENNOTT: You know, this is a deeply divided country, Muslim Brotherhood on the one side, the opposition to Morsi on the other.
The one thing you find unity on here is that the United States is at fault. What I mean by that is the Muslim Brotherhood will say the United States gave a green light to the military coup, as they would define it.
On the other side, they say that the United States gave too much deference to Morsi, that they were supportive of his government, even as so many here feel it was failing, it was failing on economy, it was failing on security. It was a grab for power, as so many people here feel by Morsi.
So you get this deep division, yet you get unity on criticism of the United States, a very difficult position for Ambassador Anne Patterson here, very difficult position also for the deputy secretary of state, William Burns, who is now in the country and visiting.
You know, I think most people say the United States should just stay out of it going forward, and I think it's one of those very, very difficult foreign policy questions for what is the most effective and productive way for United States to play a role here.
RAY SUAREZ: Charles Sennott of GlobalPost, your FRONTLINE documentary will be on in the fall.
Thanks for joining us.
CHARLES SENNOTT: Thank you. It's good to be with you.
GWEN IFILL: Next: bringing opportunity to a vast hidden population of aboriginal children in India.
Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro visited one school that is trying to break the cycle of poverty on a massive scale.
His report was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and is part of our series Agents for Change.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The 18,000 students at the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, only half of them were gathered in this assembly, have two things in common. They come from India's so-called tribal communities, and they're extremely poor.
The school offers grades one through 12, and is an ambitious attempt to transform their lives, the brainchild of Achyuta Samanta, a 47-year-old entrepreneur.
DR. ACHYUTA SAMANTA, Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (through translator): The children who come here to study, they are stricken with poverty and illiteracy, and their parents themselves have not had much of an education. My goal is to eradicate poverty through education and bring them into the mainstream.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Though not a tribal member himself, Samanta grew up in poverty. But he was able to use scholarships to get a college education.
In the '90s, Samanta founded a private university, offering high-demand fields in engineering, business, and medicine, just as the Indian economy took off here in Eastern Bhubaneswar and in cities across India. Revenues from the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology largely fund the school for tribal children.
Samanta lives simply and takes no salary, and he says he simply wants to give tribal children the same opportunities he got.
DR. ACHYUTA SAMANTA (through translator): The major difference between the urban poverty we see and the poverty among aboriginal people is that the aboriginal people who live in the forests are completely cut off, in terms of awareness of the outside world.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: India has about 400 distinct aboriginal tribes who number perhaps 80 million. They have lived far outside the mainstream for millennia, in forests across central and eastern India.
British colonization and in recent times corrupt or absent governance and mining activity have all displaced tribal people and helped spawn a radical Maoist insurgency, says Macalester College professor James Laine.
JAMES LAINE, Macalester College: In terms of social status, they more or less translate as similar to untouchable castes. You're completely left out, and someone comes along and says we'd like to create an egalitarian society. That might be very attractive to a young person of tribal background.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The Maoist movement is about four decades old, and has turned increasingly violent in recent years. In May, Maoist guerrillas ambushed a convoy and killed several regional political leaders and their bodyguards, the most recent of some 6,000 deaths over the years, many of innocent tribal members.
JAMES LAINE: There's a big chunk of India which is largely forested where fundamentally the government doesn't reach.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And it's in one corner of the region, eastern Orissa state, that the Kalinga school has reached out.
DR. ACHYUTA SAMANTA (through translator): Education offers the best alternative to the path of the Maoists.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Here, education begins with meeting the most basic needs on an industrial scale and free of charge to the students.
DR. ACHYUTA SAMANTA: Now they're going for lunch.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: How many students?
DR. ACHYUTA SAMANTA: It is approximately now 8,000-plus are going for lunch.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Eight thousand?
These students followed 10,000 others who have just finished. It takes four shifts of 45 minutes to get everyone their lunch, most days a staple rice and lentil curry. They will be back a few hours later for supper. With the exception of the actual cooking, students help out with almost everything: serving food, cleaning, even producing their own clothing.
DR. ACHYUTA SAMANTA: For us, the challenge is finance. If I would have more finance, I would have been able to give them more comfortable...
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: With more money, he said he'd provide better food and more comfortable living conditions. Dormitories are so crowded, some younger children must share bunks.
The academic challenge is even greater. The school has to teach students from over 60 tribes with distinct languages and customs.
DR. ACHYUTA SAMANTA (through translator): Our major concern was how to bring all these children under one roof and mold a single curriculum without sacrificing their own heritage and traits. So over the years, we have tried to strike a balance.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Students spend time in craft work and programs to help preserve and retain indigenous traditions and languages. Classes are taught in the official regional language, Oriya, until high school, when students switch to English.
We caught some of them practicing one evening.
STUDENT: And you see the students are studying.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: They marveled at what for them certainly were uncrowded classrooms and other images of everyday life in America. Both pictures and this conference room were donated by the U.S. Embassy, one of several foreign missions that have offered some support to the school.
STUDENT: There is the flag of USA flag. It shows how they love their country very much.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And on a scale not usually seen in India, this school places huge emphasis on sports, to build discipline and camaraderie. Students have all sorts of options, the Indian sport of kabaddi, basketball, and even American baseball.
But the hands-down popular sport is rugby. The game has taken many students far from their rural homes. It began with a chance visit from members of a Bombay rugby team a few years ago and caught on quickly.
DR. ACHYUTA SAMANTA: So, this is 2011, London. This is 2007 London.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Kalinga teams have participated in tournaments in Australia and England sponsored by professional rugby organizations. Almost as heady as winning this tournament over a South African team was the chance to travel abroad, to tour London, says senior Hadi Majhi.
HADI MAJHI, rugby player (through translator): We trained in Calcutta for the tournament. Prior to leaving, we were given English lessons, shown how to use the toilet, and they taught us table manners.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: His teammate and fellow senior Rajkishore Murmu says their success on the pitch reinforced a message the school tries to convey.
RAJKISHORE MURMU, rugby player (through translator): We have learned in this school to never think of ourselves as inferior to anybody else, and I think others respect us, also.
Rugby has taught me a lot of things, most importantly discipline, which is critical when you're learning the intricacies of the game. For example, I know now if I suddenly encounter a tiger, I will know how to dodge it.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: For parents, having children in school means fewer hands to help out with the daily struggle for survival. But Hadi's father, Mongola Dhangda Majhi, says he's happy to have secured his son's future.
MONGOLA DHANGDA MAJHI, father (through translator): He's already gotten more than I got in my entire lifetime. There's no going back. There is nothing in our village. Maybe in the future, my son will be able to help bring better facilities to our area, a hospital or medical clinic or some kind of school.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Hadi and Rajkishore, like other Kalinga graduates, can take advantage of seats reserved for them at the colleges founded by Samanta. He says most of these students opt to remain close to home, where they're most urgently needed.
DR. ACHYUTA SAMANTA (through translator): I don't want these children, once educated, to remain primarily in urban areas. Rather, we would like them to be agents of change in their own communities.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: To do that, he plans to open 20 branches of the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences in rural communities across the region.
JEFFREY BROWN: And finally tonight: what we talk about and don't talk about when it comes to race and identity. It's a subject again at the fore after the death of Trayvon Martin and the trial of George Zimmerman.
And it's the subject of The Race Card Project, an effort by NPR journalist and author Michele Norris to engage people in a conversation about, as her website says, their experiences, questions, hopes, dreams, laments or observations about race and identity.
And Michele Norris joins us now.
Welcome to you.
MICHELE NORRIS, The Race Card Project: Good to you with you.
JEFFREY BROWN: First, explain to us a little bit about what The Race Card is, how it works and what you're after.
MICHELE NORRIS: Well, there are very short stories, six-word stories.
JEFFREY BROWN: Six words, that is short.
MICHELE NORRIS: That is short.
And it idea was to get people to open up on a difficult subject by not asking very much of them. I asked people to share as you said their thoughts, observations, anthems, laments, whatever, in one sentence that has only six words. And the idea was to create a platform, a place where people could say perhaps difficult things, but more importantly where they could go to the website or use the exercise to listen to other people to find out what other people are saying and thinking.
JEFFREY BROWN: And something about that compactness works, just the six words? You can't go on and on?
MICHELE NORRIS: Well, what happens is, in the beginning, people would send in six words and they were often anonymous. Then they would send in six words and add their name and maybe their location.
Over time, the six words like opening up a spigot, because people send in six words and then they keep going. They are accompanied by essays and additional comments.
JEFFREY BROWN: A story and a conversation.
So, generally speaking, what have you seen happening since the death of Trayvon Martin and through to today?
MICHELE NORRIS: Well, it's been a running thread through the Race Card Project, and there are flash points.
So, when it became -- even before it became a national story, the submissions started to trickle in.
When it became a national story, big spike in submissions. When George Zimmerman was arrested, big spike in submissions, and then throughout the trial and of course with the verdict, big spike in submissions.
And you see all kinds of things. You see mothers who watched this trial and felt for their own children. They somehow felt that Trayvon Martin's experience touched their home, and they feared for their children. You saw people who would watch the trial and maybe they didn't condone what George Zimmerman did, but they understood his impulses.
When they see people of color on the street, particularly in their neighborhood, if they feel that they don't belong, that they talk openly and honestly about the fear that they feel.
And a lot of people talk about the things that they wrestle with, that they're uncomfortable with, the idea that people fear them, the idea that they make assumptions about other people based on their skin color or what they happen to be wearing.
JEFFREY BROWN: It was interesting because of course at the trial itself, there was a lot of emphasis on not seeing this through the lens of race. But, clearly, many people do in America. And that's what you're seeing on your site.
MICHELE NORRIS: That was interesting, because the lawyers, particularly the prosecutor, tried to say that this is not about race, actually said that in the courtroom.
And then we have heard from one of the jurors, who said this is not about race. And as I look at the thousands of submissions that have poured in, clearly, people who were watching this in their own homes and communities were seeing racial elements in this.
And so there is this thing that sometimes people think that just because you don't talk overtly about race that it's not there. But, nonetheless, it does appear to be in the atmosphere.
JEFFREY BROWN: So give us a few examples of the kind of thing you have been hearing.
MICHELE NORRIS: "Urban living has made me racist."
JEFFREY BROWN: "Urban living has made me racist."
MICHELE NORRIS: This is from someone who moved to the city, and she lives in a multiethnic community. And she says that some of the attitudes that she's developed over time living in that community have hardened based on what she sees, and that makes her uncomfortable.
She is sort of buying into the trope of the hardworking Asian, or the industrious Hispanic, and, unfortunately, the scary black person. And she talked really honestly about that not just in those six words, but in an essay that came along with that.
"Stop seeing my son as a predator."
"I pray for my son every day" came from a woman in Canton, Ohio. She has three children, two daughters and a son. She worries most about her son.
And when he comes home to visit -- he's an adult now -- when he comes home to visit in their multiethnic neighborhood, and he wants to go out to run, she tells him, please don't run in your own neighborhood. Go someplace else. Go in a park or where it's well-lit, because she's afraid that if he runs in the neighborhood wearing athletic gear, that people will see him and maybe see the same thing that George Zimmerman saw in Trayvon Martin.
JEFFREY BROWN: I was taking a look. And fear, of course, is one of the themes that is running through here.
MICHELE NORRIS: It runs throughout this, yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: And people being almost upset by their fear, too, right? It all comes out in various ways.
MICHELE NORRIS: Upset by the fear that they -- I was just reading one that came from an Ian Seer. He lives not far from here in Springfield, Va.
And he talked about he's a part of the Benetton generation, the generation that is supposed to be post-racial. Remember that word?
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
MICHELE NORRIS: That they grew up without all the burdens that previous generations have. And yet he talked about he still -- he really hates this implicit fear that he has. So, people are wrestling with this.
But on the other hand, black folks, black men in particular, writing about what it feels like to step onto an elevator and have to say hello really loudly to everyone, so that they understand that they're not a threat.
JEFFREY BROWN: You also had though some people thinking that we put too much emphasis on race.
MICHELE NORRIS: Yes, got a lot about that, one person in particular saying, "Stop exploiting to promote own agenda."
And the idea there is -- this is from someone who said that we talk too much about race, that the Trayvon Martin case, the George Zimmerman case was just another example for the liberal media -- that was the word that he used -- to drive up ratings.
JEFFREY BROWN: Let me just ask you briefly in our last 30 seconds or so here, coming back to the project itself, have you seen a -- what is your sense of the comfort level of people talking about these things?
MICHELE NORRIS: Well, people are comfortable talking at least in six-word snippets.
JEFFREY BROWN: In six words.
MICHELE NORRIS: But this is what I really take heart from. A large percentage of the submissions come in, in the form of a question. People are asking. They're thinking out loud.
And that says something hopeful about the need for dialogue.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the project is The Race Card.
Michele Norris of NPR, thanks so much.
MICHELE NORRIS: Thank you.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney embraces his daughter Liz Cheney at the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images.
With Liz Cheney's announcement Tuesday that she would launch a primary challenge to incumbent Wyoming Republican Sen. Mike Enzi, residents of the country's least populous state should get ready for a large influx of political reporters.
Cheney, the eldest of former Vice President Dick Cheney's two daughters, went public with the decision shortly after Enzi said he would seek a fourth term in office.
"I am running because I believe it is necessary for a new generation of leaders to step up to the plate," Cheney said in a nearly six-minute video posted to YouTube. She added: "I am running because I know as a mother and a patriot we can no longer afford to go along to get along. We can't continue business as usual in Washington."
In a telephone interview with the Associated Press, Cheney said that Enzi's length of service in Washington was not a deterrent for making a run. "I think that part of the problem in Washington today is seniority. I think it's time for a new generation, for a new generation to come to the fore. I don't see seniority as a plus, frankly," she told the AP.
Recent intra-party fights for Senate seats have mainly been the result of questions about the incumbent's conservative credentials, such as in Indiana last year when Richard Mourdock defeated Richard Lugar, or Mike Lee's 2010 convention victory over Robert Bennett in Utah.
That task could be a much tougher sell for Cheney with Wyoming Republicans, given that Enzi is ranked as the eighth most conservative senator according to the latest list compiled by the National Journal.
Enzi told reporters Tuesday that Cheney's announcement would not affect how he approached his job, or his decision to seek re-election.
"My job is to be the U.S. senator that I was elected to be until at least January of 2015," he said. "The people of Wyoming expect me to do the job, I do it pretty much full-time. I'm in Wyoming almost every weekend, here during the time that we're voting out here. I won't be doing anything different than I've been doing, getting the opinions of the Wyoming people and traveling Wyoming and doing my job out here."
But Enzi did make clear that he was surprised by Cheney's move. "She said that if I ran she wasn't going to run, but obviously that wasn't correct," he said.
When asked about his relationship with Cheney, Enzi responded: "I thought we were friends."
Enzi's prospects for holding onto his seat will likely be buoyed by the support he maintains from the other members of the Cowboy State's congressional delegation.
Fellow GOP Sen. John Barrasso said he would back Enzi in the fight. "Senator Enzi is my friend, he is my mentor, he is a tremendous senator for the people of Wyoming, and I plan to support him for re-election. I am supporting him for re-election."
And the state's lone House member, GOP Rep. Cynthia Lummis, blasted Cheney for displaying "bad form" in entering the race the way she did. Lummis also referred to Cheney as "the shiny new pony" in Wyoming politics, according to ABC News.
Politico's James Hohmann explains why Cheney is no sure thing to defeat Enzi, raising several factors including Cheney's recent move to the state after living in Virginia.
Several operatives noted that Cheney lacks a geographic base. She moved to Jackson Hole, which is in the state's most Democratic county. The Cheney family lived in Casper when she was a kid, but they've not had a presence there for a long time.
Enzi has spent the Past 18 years traveling the state and going to town hall meetings. Neutral observers say he is very different from former Sen. Dick Lugar, who lost a GOP primary in Indiana last year in part because of revelations that he stayed at hotels when he traveled back to the state.
Regardless of who wins the primary contest between Enzi and Cheney, Wyoming is a deep red state, and will remain in Republican hands come 2015 no matter how divisive the battle between the two becomes. In the meantime, however, it makes for one fascinating political story to watch in the most unlikely of places.
STEPPING BACK FROM THE BRINK
Senate leaders reached a deal Tuesday to allow votes on several of President Barack Obama's nominees, preventing a showdown over potential changes to the chamber's rules governing filibusters.
"This must be a new normal," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters following a meeting with fellow Democrats. "Qualified executive nominees must not be blocked on procedural supermajority votes."
The compromise paved the way for the confirmation of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau later in the day on a 66-34 vote. The agreement also set up votes on the president's choices to lead the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Export-Import Bank, as well as one of his picks for the National Labor Relations Board. Two NLRB selections were withdrawn as part of the deal, and replaced with fresh nominees late Tuesday.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the pact would preserve the rights of the minority party in the chamber for future battles over nominees.
"I think it's a step in the right direction that the majority has chosen not to exercise the nuclear option. We feel good about that. I think they feel good about it. So I think that crisis has been averted," said the Kentucky Republican. "We still will be dealing with controversial nominees in a way that the controversial nominees inevitably produce, a great debate. And all the options available to the minority remain intact."
Reid also made clear that all options remained on the table for Democrats.
"There's a feeling around here. Now feelings don't last forever," Reid said. "They're not sacrificing their right to filibuster and we damn sure are not filibustering our right to change the rules if necessary."
On the NewsHour Tuesday, Gwen Ifill spoke with Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley and Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker about the Senate agreement, and what it means for the chamber going forward.
Merkley expressed the view that senators still had a lot of work to do to improve the climate of the Senate.
"I think we need to pause in this moment and say Democrats and Republicans did listen to each other. We worked out a deal. We hope it will be a model for a better path forward, but we have got a lot more conversations to work on," he said. "And that's critical, because, right now, the Senate's dysfunction not only is a disservice to the country. It's breeding vast cynicism about the ability of government to be able to take on the challenges that we face in America."
Wicker sounded an optimistic note, picking up on Merkley's call to find a "social contract" in the chamber.
"I think we are in much better shape than we were at this time yesterday," he said. "And I think this idea of a social contract where rank and file members like Jeff and like Roger Wicker are able to talk to each other and actually air grievances apart from the leaderships talking past each other, I feel a lot better and I think we're on a better track because of what we have gone through."
Watch the segment here or below:Watch Video
Mr. Obama said Tuesday the U.S. House likely wouldn't meet his August deadline for voting on the immigration reform bill.
The Affordable Care Act's implementation in New York means health insurance costs in the state will drop by about half, the New York Times reports.
Attorney General Eric Holder criticized Florida's "stand your ground" law in a speech Tuesday that responded to George Zimmerman's acquittal.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., says the U.S. should boycott the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games if Russia offers asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick says he won't run for president in 2016.
Will conservative groups launch primary challenges against Republicans who vote for immigration reform? Not likely, writes Buzzfeed's John Stanton.
South Carolina's ethics commission has fined Gov. Nikki Haley for not reporting addresses of the donors to her 2010 gubernatorial campaign, The State reports.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's approval rating in a Quinnipiac University poll dropped 3 percentage points to a new low of 46 percent as voters grow concerned with a brewing scandal over donations and gifts to the governor and his family.
The Senate will hold a hearing Wednesday on the Voting Rights Act, its first since the Supreme Court struck down its enforcement provision for the pre-clearance clause in June. The House will hold a hearing on Thursday. And Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday he's reassigning Justice Department staff to work to enforce parts of the law still in effect, such as allowing the federal government to challenge in court elections practices that may be discriminatory.
The Center for Public Integrity finds that a large majority of senators still file their campaign finance reports on paper. Only 16 filed electronically in the second quarter.
Pennsylvania Republicans are clamoring for GOP Gov. Tom Corbett to step aside before the 2014 election, Alex Roarty reports for National Journal.
This week's heat wave just got more uncomfortable for some residents in Maryland's Prince George's County. The area bordering the District of Columbia to the east has a failing water main that will cause water to be shut off in National Harbor and at Andrews Air Force Base for days, the Washington Post reports.
Congressman Andy Harris, R-Md., had some choice words for people fixated on the George Zimmerman verdict: "get over it."
Here's the trailer for the Wikileaks movie out this fall with Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange.
The United Kingdom's House of Lords passed a bill Tuesday that will allow same-sex marriage throughout the country. The measure awaits the signature of Queen Elizabeth II.
Since we're talking about the Queen, why not guess the soon-to-come Royal Baby's name, birth date and birth weight?
Too hot to run before work this morning? Elles Rolfes takes a look at the ultrarunners and their support crews who brave extreme heat to race 135 miles through Death Valley.
Goldman Sachs announced Tuesday their second quarter profits doubled from the same period last year. Simone Pathe examines just how they make that money.
You need the job to gain experience, but you can't get the job without experience. Learn to control the interview, advises headhunter Nick Corcodilos.
After drug lord Miguel Angel "Z-40" Trevino Morales was arrested Monday morning in Mexico, data producer Elizabeth Shell dove deeper into the Los Zetas cartel and rounded up some of the most-wanted criminals Mexico has killed or captured.
Watch Jeffrey Brown's conversation with Dallas Morning News Mexico bureau chief Alfredo Corchado about Morales' legacy here.
With the Trayvon Martin decision sparking racial discourse, Jeff spoke with NPR's Michele Norris about The Race Card Project, which asks people to distill their thoughts about race in six words or less.
Former Governor Eliot Spitzer and former Rep. Anthony Weiner aren't New York's first elected officials who have looked to ride their public disgrace to a political comeback. Joshua Barajas examines a few from the past.
Senate filibuster compromise comes after joint caucus mtg. I hope my fmr colleagues caucus together more often. Good things may happen.— Mo Cowan (@mocowan) July 16, 2013
Moving in on Newt's turf MT @HillaryClinton: Went to Central Pk Zoo to meet w/wildlife experts about elephants.— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) July 17, 2013
Pope: Follow me on Twitter and you'll spend less time in purgatory http://t.co/naWxTOyLUz— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) July 16, 2013
It's nice to see Senator @MarkeyMemo sworn in this morning. Welcome to the Senate-side Ed!— Chuck Schumer (@ChuckSchumer) July 16, 2013
A perfect DC day - hot, humid, stinky - like living in the mouth of a dog.— Paul Singer (@singernews) July 17, 2013
Simone Pathe and desk assistant Mallory Sofastaii contributed to this report.
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By Jesse Appell
Disposable income growth for Chinese urban households slowed over the second quarter compared to last year. Photo courtesy of Carlos Barria/Reuters via Getty Images.
Paul Solman: In economic data released Monday, China's economy grew just 7.5 percent in the second quarter of this year, down from 7.7 percent growth in the first quarter, and down significantly from the 10 percent or so growth rate it's been averaging over the past three decades.
And in a closer look at how Chinese people are faring day-to-day, disposable income growth for China's urban households slipped to 6.5 percent over the first half of this year compared to 9.7 percent growth in the first half of 2012.
The dip in growth has its leaders and economists nervous that China may fail to meet its 7.5 percent growth target for the first time in 15 years. But what of the economic fate of ordinary Chinese people, particularly those caught in the dramatically widening wealth gap?
Fulbright Scholar and comedian Jesse Appell, whose stand-up routine (in Chinese) can be seen online, is back in his role as our far-flung correspondent in Beijing. Now, he looks at the strained circumstances of the average Chinese family through a music video about a girl named "Zheng Qianhua"--a name that means, literally, "make money to spend." The Chinese, it seems, are consumed with issues of consumption, but the song suggests an undeniable economic desperation too.
Jesse is trying to help China, in however small a way, move beyond primitive capitalism by emphasizing commonality instead of "cutting down" the competition. (Check out his viral video parody of "Gangnam Style" at the bottom of the post).
Jesse Appell: As a 22-year-old American comedian in Beijing who tries to make Chinese people here laugh, I need to find common ground between cultures to use for jokes.
One area I have happened upon is economics. As a recent U.S. college graduate in China, I discovered that I share the insecurity of my generation with my Chinese peers. It's true that Americans in China like me can always make a good salary teaching English. But those of us who don't are paid local salaries to work long hours, just like local Chinese.
As in America, the income gap between "normal" Chinese people and the rich is astounding. Even someone like me, who would be considered successful for my age, makes a fraction of the money of those who invest in real estate and stocks or work for the government.MORE FROM JESSE APPELL Self-Censorship on Chinese TV: An American Comedian's Experience
Among young Chinese, as is the case among many young Americans, I sense a great degree of helplessness. This dilemma is vividly expressed by an artist called Chuanzi. Chuanzi's music has to do with the struggles of everyday people. His songs include tracks such as "House Slave," about Chinese families who feel enslaved by high rent, and "I Want to Get Married," about the difficulties of finding a suitable wife in a country with a skewed gender ratio and women looking to raise their social status by marrying up.
Chuanzi is from southern Beijing and learned to play the guitar while in prison for disorderly conduct. He runs a bar where he sings at night, and sometimes his dog Toot-toot sings as well. After Chuanzi achieved a degree of fame on the Internet, an acquaintance asked him to write a song about his daughter. The family name was Zheng. The parents dubbed her "Zheng Qianhua."
The last name here is "Zheng," while "Qianhua" is actually the first name. But the "Qian" of Qianhua is also the word for "money," and "hua" means "spend." Since the last name (Zheng) is a homonym for the verb "to make" or "to earn," the title refers to a person whose name is "Make Money to Spend."
Chinese names are meticulously picked to reflect the parents' wish for the child. In this case, it was to make a lot of money. Chuanzi was shocked, but vowed to write the song to reward Mr. Zheng for his "bravery" in naming his child so unabashedly.
The YouKu video's full title is "a song dedicated to hard-working parents earning money to raise their children: Zheng Qianhua":
Little baby, when you arrived in this world Did you know how excited daddy was? We invited over many good friends And gave you this beautiful name From this day onwards, you will be called Zheng Qianhua: The "Money" character from "Make Money," the "Spend" character from "Spend Money." Your daddy is poor; from now on, you must rely on yourself. Little baby, when you arrived in this world Did you know how happy you made mommy? She knitted you a nice sweater I know it will look so pretty on you. From this day onwards, you will be called Zheng Qianhua: The "Money" character from "Make Money," the "Spend" character from "Spend Money." Your daddy wants to be a good man And give you and mommy a warm, comfy home. But, my darling, do you know? It's so hard to make money nowadays. It's so hard to raise one child, Is there even a need for a one-child policy? The great fatherland is overflowing with money What does 40 trillion Yuan (economy bailout amount) have to do with me? The GDP we're so proud of keeps growing Can I swap it for disposable diapers?
Darling, your name is Zheng Qianhua Daddy wants to help you but is powerless to do so So from now on you will need to fend for yourself Daddy can only wholeheartedly wish you well Wear plenty of clothes, don't get sick If you study well, you might get some aid When you get older you can make money to spend And then daddy will wish you the best But, my darling, do you know? It's so hard to make money nowadays....
China has pulled hundreds of millions out of poverty in the past few decades, a feat unrivaled in world history. It is catching up with the United States at a remarkable pace. But at the same time, people are discovering a large gap between the poor and the wealthy, and it's in that gap that almost all Chinese find themselves. People who now consider education, food and diapers to be basics are finding that even though they make 100 times what they did decades ago, the costs of paving the way forward for one's children are still beyond them.
This is where Chuanzi's song strikes a chord in the hearts of Chinese parents: he captures the love of the parents for their children and their desire to give them the best. But he also captures the hopelessness many parents feel -- the only way to give their children a chance to make it is if they make money themselves. And what better way to do that than to name the child, instead of "Precious Dragon" or "Beautiful Lily", something along the lines of "Make and Spend Money." Such a name says, "If I can't make your life better, then the least I can do is wish you good luck at making it yourself."
High-visibility materialism is rampant in China. Every day I nearly get hit by at least three BMWs and one Mercedes while crossing the street. (Note the similarity to upper-crust American drivers as Paul reported on here recently.) Western companies provide high-end services, and luxury goods have oversaturated Beijing and Shanghai and are now overflowing in the interior. Money is paramount in China, and everyone wants to make it.
But Chuanzi's song is not about materialism. His song is about the Chinese who don't worship money for money's sake but for how it can lead their kids to a better life. Money can hire English tutors to teach them the language of globalization. Money can get kids into better schools to score higher on tests. Money can buy instruments and instructors to expose them to the arts.
This is the China that can't help but be obsessed with money because the new opportunities in this country will be grasped by those with the money to take advantage of them. Sound familiar?
There is so much in common between Chinese and American economic culture right now. Both nations are trying to figure out their role in the global economy. Both societies openly question the role of wealth inequality and how the market and governmental systems relate to it, but neither has figured out what one might do about it. Both decry economic bailouts and wonder why the huge sums of money put forward to save the struggling economy have seemed to make little improvement in most people's personal lives.
But there is also a crucial difference between the two economies which reflects the gap that still exists between them: in China, there is no social safety net. In America, by contrast, there are food stamps, unemployment support, disability insurance (with 14 million recipients) and much greater access to public goods such as quality education and even a clean environment.
Parents in America who go through a rough stretch will have to live lean, but they will almost surely be able to eat and continue to send their kids to school. This is by no means guaranteed in China. There are no public food assistance programs. In many parts of the country, school fees for books and uniforms are still beyond the reach of many rural poor. A temporary loss of income can be disastrous.
As China's economy grows, the country becomes more and more like America and other western nations in predictable ways. But there are still devastating differences. We can all empathize with the dilemma Chuanzi lays out in his song. But seeing our similarities (from this side of the Pacific) makes the difference between us all the more poignant. The safety net that Chinese see as a reflection of our advanced state is the same safety net Americans argue about preserving.
Jesse's video parody of "Gangnam Style" went viral in China and briefly flared up here in the U.S. as well. Read about it in his post here last November and watch the video below. You can also watch him discuss it with an amateur video blogger in China.
This computer-generated montage shows Neptune and Triton, Neptune's largest moon, from January 1990. Photo by SSPL/Getty Images.
A new, far-flung moon orbiting Neptune was discovered earlier this month and announced this week, bringing that planet's cache of known moons up to 14. Now scientists are faced with the daunting process of naming it.
They can't call it just anything. The criteria is pretty darn strict. According to Mark Showalter of Mountain View's SETI Institute, who spotted the thing against all odds -- it was hidden deep in Hubble Space Telescope data -- its name must derive from a Greek or Roman deity. And it must be associated with Neptune or Poseidon or the sea. Which, he said, covers a lot more territory than you'd think -- those Roman and Greek gods had a lot of kids.
He is leaning toward naming the moon after the Cyclops, Polyphemus, the gigantic one-eyed son of Poseidon and Thoosa, a sea nymph. Polyphemus is best known for his role in Homer's epic poem, the Odyssey. You may remember that after Odysseus and 12 of his crew landed on the island of Cyclopes, Polyphemus trapped them in a cave with a boulder, devoured two of the men for dinner, fell asleep and then ate two more for breakfast. The remaining men eventually escaped after plunging the creature in the eye with a wooden spike and blinding him.
"I happen to like hideous monsters myself," Showalter told me. "That's just a personal bias."
The guidelines are laid out by the International Astronomical Union and can be found here.
But Showalter may take another route and crowdsource the moon, which is currently referred to as S/2004 N 1. That's what he did with the two newest Pluto moons, which he also discovered. He held an Internet contest for the names. The winners were Kerberos, named for the three-headed dog that guarded the entrance to Hades, the underworld in Greek mythology, and Styx, after the river that separated Earth and underworld.
Pluto's satellites and moons are named after mythological characters related to Hades and the classical Greek and Roman Underworld, according to the IAU. Moons orbiting Uranus are named for characters from Shakespeare's plays and from Pope's "Rape of the Lock." In the Saturnian system, they're named for 'Greco-Roman titans, descendants of the titans, the Roman god of the beginning, and giants from Greco-Roman and other mythologies." And in Jupiter, they're named after Zeus's lovers and descendants.
The newest moon is tiny (about 12 miles in diameter), located between fellow moons Larissa and Proteus, and it zips around Neptune every 23 hours.
And as to whether there are more, undiscovered moons around the planet?
"I would say [the likelihood is] very high," Showalter said. "It would be a foolish prediction to say, we've found the last one. At this point, it would have to be less than half as bright as M-14, or we would have seen it."
QUICK BITESA wonderfully terrifying post by the Atlantic's Megan Garber on Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano's latest spacewalk, when his helmet suddenly started filling up with water. Here's an excerpt:
Imagine you're an astronaut. Imagine you're on a spacewalk. Imagine, in other words, that you are whirling above the Earth at more than 17,000 miles an hour, the only thing between you and the deadly vacuum of space a padded suit, a hardened helmet, and an umbilical tether that you hope is really, really strong.
Now imagine that your helmet, suddenly, starts filling with liquid. At first you think it's sweat, condensing as it leaves your skin. But then more liquid starts to seep in. You think it's water. But you're not entirely sure. And there's more of it, and more of it, clinging to your face, clogging your ears, covering your eyes.
An eerie sound: A volcano screams before it erupts. You can hear the audio captured on tape here.
Astronauts need their morning coffee too. And scientists are working on the problem.Explore.org has live webcams watching the brown bears in Alaska's Katmai National Park hunt for salmon. Watch here: Weeds. Try to kill them. Just try. Barnyardgrass, for example, is particularly harmful to rice fields, where it sometimes wipes out 100 percent of harvestable crops. Even when farmers think they've removed it from a field, a plant may have already dropped up to a million seeds, which lay dormant in the soil, waiting for better growing conditions. Worldwide, weeds have never been more adaptable or harder to kill. Carl Zimmer reports.
Rebecca Jacobson, Patti Parson and David Pelcyger contributed to this report.
China's young migrant workers are the driving force behind the country's rapid urbanization, but they struggle to build families while working demanding factory jobs. Photographer Jia Daitengfei has documented these struggles with a series of portraits, taken on the very assembly lines that so often tear couples apart.
A Failed Marriage
Xue Zhang posed for this photo at Shanghai Ying Feng Industrial Co., Ltd. in Shanghai, China. That year, she was diagnosed with a tumor. Shortly afterward, her husband asked for a divorce. Zhang's child is being raised by her grandmother. Though Zhang doesn't expect to meet anybody new, she hopes to buy a house in three years. Photo: Jia Daitengfei / Getty Images
A New Family
Lizhi Jiang and his wife Qifeng were both born in Yongzhou, Hunan Province in 1987. He works as a factory accountant. Their son is two years old, and they plan to bring him to Shanghai from their hometown. They've bought a house in Yongzhou and want to buy a car. Jiang hopes they both can work in the same company. Photo: Jia Daitengfei / Getty Images
Six Months Later
Lizhi Jiang and his wife pose for a photo six months after their first portrait. They have borrowed $4000 from the company they work at to buy a car. Photo: Jia Daitengfei / Getty Images
Hong Wang, a plate worker from Zhaotong, Yunnan Province and his girlfriend Yun Niu posed for this photo at Shanghai Ying Feng Industrial Co., Ltd. in Shanghai. Despite being in a relationship for four years, their parents wouldn't let them marry due to the distance between their hometowns. Photo: Jia Daitengfei / Getty Images
Six Months Later
Six months after posing in wedding clothes, Hong Wang and his girlfriend Yun Niu are still unmarried. Photo: Jia Daitengfei / Getty Images
Six months after Yuanyuan Tang posed with her husband at Shanghai Ying Feng Industrial Co., Ltd she is seeing less of him due to his night shift schedule. The couple were married in their hometown in 2008, and have two children, whom they hope to raise in Buyang. Photo: Jia Daitengfei / Getty Images
A Loss in the Family
Guang Xia and his wife Qianqian Li posed for this portrait at Shanghai Ying Feng Industrial Co., Ltd on February 8, 2012 in Shanghai. The couple married in 2010, lost a child to pneumonia in 2011, and planned to have another child. Photo: Jia Daitengfei / Getty Images
Guang Xia and his wife Qianqian Li posed again for Daitengfei in this portrait in August, 2012. Since their first wedding photo, they are expecting another child. Photo: Jia Daitengfei / Getty Images
Plans for the Future
Guanfu Chen and his wife Zhimin Lin posed for a photo at Shanghai Ying Feng Industrial Co., Ltd on February 10, 2012 in Shanghai. The couple planned to move to Sichuan. Photo: Jia Daitengfei / Getty Images
The photographer revisited the couple six months later. Zhimin Lin's husband took a new job with a pay raise, but that meant the couple couldn't live together anymore. Prior plans to move away were scrapped. Photo: Jia Daitengfei / Getty Images
Despite little light and extreme temperatures, new microorganisms were found at "Crab Spa", a hydrothermal vent site on the ocean floor, along with eight other unusual places. Photo courtesy Stefan Sievert/ Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Massive new groups of bacteria have been found and identified in a variety of extreme environments, providing more understanding of the largest yet least cataloged group of organisms on the planet. Those unknown, unidentified species make up what biologists call "microbial dark matter."
A team of researchers led by Tanja Woyke, a microbiologist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, Calif., have been using a relatively new technique called single-cell sequencing to detect these microbes, which have been notoriously difficult to study.
New bacteria found in the sludge from a plastic-degrading reactor in Mexico. Photo by Xiangzhen Li and Wen-Tso Liu/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Over the last three years, Woyke and her team collected samples from nine diverse and extreme environments, including water from vents in the ocean floor, sludge from a plastic-degrading reactor in Mexico, groundwater from a defunct gold mine in South Dakota, sediment from a hot spring in Nevada and water from 1,000 feet below the surface in the open ocean.
Researchers used an aquatic sample collected from Homestake Mine in South Dakota, one of nine sampling sites for the Microbial Dark Matter study. Photo courtesy Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab.
The new specimens wouldn't grow inside the lab, leaving them little material to study, said Brandon Swan, a post-doctoral researcher at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and a co-author on the paper. Plus, they were working in uncharted territory.
"For bacteria and archaea, their genomes are far smaller than ours. They have less DNA per cell," he said.
For some perspective, one human cheek swab contains tens of thousands of cells, each with exact copies of your DNA. And that DNA is 6,000 times larger than what's found in a single-cell bacteria, he said.
Despite the challenges, they succeeded in sequencing 201 unique genomes from these samples. They did this using single-cell genomics, which allowed them to amplify the DNA of the individual organism and duplicate it like a copy machine, finally giving them enough material to sequence.
"We're assembling genomes that haven't been seen before," Swan said. "It's all new. It's a new genome, and it's a new combination of genes."
Scientists collect sediment samples at Great Boiling Spring in Gerlach, Nev. Photo courtesy Brian Hedlund, University of Nevada Las Vegas.
From the sequences, they classified and named 18 new phyla of bacteria and primitive microbes called archaea.
"There's this amazing diversity we can get access to -- there's so much microbial dark matter," Wokye said. "We can tag it to identify it and show that it exists, but until recently it's been really very difficult to get access to their genomes."
It's about more than just discovering new species; bacteria in different phylum are as different as lizards are from snakes, said Roger Lasken, the director of single cell genomics at the J. Craig Venter Institute, who developed the technique in 2005.
"What's so great about Tanja's paper is the scope of it. They show how to use this technology in a large scale project that finds a lot of new organisms," he said. "To the public, all germs look alike ... but phylum 20 and phylum 21 [for bacteria] may be tremendously different."
The new bacterial genomes have been added to the Joint Genome Institute'sIntegrated Microbial Genomes database, which is cataloging the genomes of microorganisms. And the team has already found some radical new behaviors among them. Some relied on hydrogen to breathe, while other organisms appeared to feed on sulfur.
These new organisms, especially ones that thrive in toxic waste and the deep ocean, may hold important answers to cleaning up reactor meltdowns or tackling climate change, Lasken said. Looking at their DNA tells us how they do what they do and how many are out there, he added, something that biotechnology companies will want to know.
"All of these the bacteria are a huge part of that ecosystem. They make up the food chain, they affect the diseases that affect fish, they metabolize CO2 and nitrates," he said. "You need to understand how many species are out there...how do they live, what they eat and what role they play in diseases."
But while the new microbes are an exciting find, they are just a "drop in the bucket" compared to what's out there, Woyke said.
"If you look at how much diversity there is, we have a long ways to go. This is the first step on very daunting, yet exciting, journey," she said. "There are many remaining branches in the tree of life we don't know anything about."
By Paul Solman
China's economic focus on consumption has ill effects for its society. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
That the Chinese are consumed with consumption is hardly news, but as reported Monday, efforts to boost domestic consumption are languishing as China's second quarter GDP registered at 7.5 percent.
But even has growth ebbs, China remains as consumed with consumption as it has been for years now. Back in the summer of 2005, in an interview for our video series "China on the Rise," businessman Handel Lee raised the issue of China's obsession with money, typical of capitalism in its early stages, and how it was making people desperate and "rapacious" -- making competition more a matter of "cutting down" than building up. I was interviewing him in a blues club of his in Shanghai.MORE ON CHINA'S ECONOMY: Jesse Appell: Chinese Willing to Trade GDP for Disposable Diapers
"What might a competitor do?" I asked.
"Instead of trying to make his place better," said Lee (I'm quoting from the transcript), "he'll find a way to have my electricity cut off or find a friend who says I have a fire violation."
"That's the kind of thing that actually happens?" I asked.
"It happens a lot," said Lee. "It happens in the United States too. But it happens to a larger extent here."
You can see more of wealth's effects in the United States in our two-part look at "Money on the Mind" and "What Makes Us Happy?" Earlier Wednesday on the Making Sen$e Business Desk, Jesse Appell, an American Fulbright scholar and stand-up comedian in China, examined how popular song lyrics reveal similarities between the U.S. and Chinese economies.
The consequences of China's single-minded focus on money continue to be felt. A Chinese friend of mine and her husband, who moved to America "temporarily" to work as managers and learn the ways of business before returning to China, have now resolved to stay here -- because, she says, they don't want their young son to grow up in such an every-man-for-himself society.
The most horrifying evidence may be the infamous (and for many, unwatchable) 2011 video of a two-year-old girl being run over on a Chinese back street and then ignored by one passerby after another.
Here is a bit more of the interview with Handel Lee from 2005. He had talked off-camera about Chinese "rapaciousness." With the camera rolling, I asked him if he'd mind explaining:
Handel Lee: The rapaciousness has a lot to do with the unfettered pursuit of money. Now obviously you have that in the United States too, but in the United States, there's a softer underbelly to it -- despite the 1920s, '30s and all that...
Paul Solman: Or the '80s or, more recently, Enron.
Handel Lee: Right. But here, that very primal pursuit of conquest, of devouring or eating, of consuming, of just getting ahead of cutting your competitor down is everybody.
Paul Solman: What do they do? What's an example? You don't have to use names, but what's an incident that would epitomize what you're talking about?
Handel Lee: China has been very, very poor for a long time. The pie is very small relative to the number of people who would eat it. And in order to get a piece of that pie, I have to achieve my position, protect my territory and vision, and I have to take out people who are also trying to get into that pie. So I need to wedge in there and really, really elbow other people out. And that's been what China's been doing most over the past 30 years.
In terms of competition in China compared to the West, in America you can just be better and go off on your own, go beyond. And that's, that's actually a very luxurious place to be. A lot of opportunity, a lot of resources.
China has very few opportunities and is a very poor place and so competition didn't necessarily mean that you just overachieved. You surpassed your competitors, pulled them down.
Paul Solman: A zero-sum game.
Handel Lee: Yes, and that's a huge problem in China, I think.
Paul Solman: Because people still have that mentality.
Handel Lee: Yes, yes.
Paul Solman: And an example of that would be what? You're opening this blues club (where I was interviewing him in the summer of 2005), for example. What might a competitor do?
Handel Lee: Instead of trying to make his place better, he'll find a way to have my electricity cut off or find a friend who says I have a fire violation.
Paul Solman: That's the kind of thing that happens.
Handel Lee: It happens a lot. It happens in the United States too. But it happens to a larger extent here.
Paul Solman: So it's a more primitive stage of capitalist development.
Handel Lee: Yes. I do believe the rapaciousness is similar to the way perhaps the United States was like when capitalism was primitive and fresh.
Paul Solman: And then we developed a huge government, funded by the income tax (which didn't come in permanently until the 19-teens) to police ourselves.
Handel Lee: Right.
Paul Solman: Will that happen here?
Handel Lee: I think so. I don't know.
Paul Solman: But you're willing to stick around and see.
Handel Lee: Yes, I am. China is a great place to be right now. There's so much movement and vitality and I believe what I'm doing here, in a small way, affects a redirection of attitude from the way things are to the way they might be.
Lizhi Jiang was born in Yongzhou, Hunan Province in 1987. His wife, Qifeng Jiang, was born in Yongzhou, Hunan Province in 1987 and works in as a factory accountant. Their son is two years old, and they plan to bring him to Shanghai from their hometown. The family bought a house in Yongzhou and want to buy a car. Jiang hopes they both can work in the same company. Photo by Jia Daitengfei/ Getty Images.
China's new generation of migrant workers has been the driving force behind the country's rapid urbanization, but while the 240 million-strong workforce has aspirations for an urban lifestyle, they struggle to balance demanding jobs and family relationships. And they hesitate to call the city "home."
For his project, 'Love on the Assembly Line' photographer Jia Daitengfei documented the lives of several young suburban Shanghai factory workers -- most of whom were born after 1990. A few days before Valentine's Day, he asked them how difficult it was to maintain a relationship. He then returned six months later to see how each worker's lives had changed.
According to the South China Morning Post, China's migrant workers feel like "outsiders," despite working in a city for years. As non-local residents, migrant workers don't have access to affordable housing and certain basic needs. Reuters also reported a slowdown in the average monthly wage for migrant workers, dropping from 21.2 percent in 2011 to 11.8 percent in 2012. And with 60 percent of the workforce born after 1980, the low wages and long hours also limit oppportunities for young workers to make romantic connections.
"[Young migrant workers] feel they are at the bottom of the society and lack security," Daitengfei said, "but they hope to make their own efforts to gain a foothold in the city and live a decent life."
Xue Zhang poses for a photo at Shanghai Ying Feng Industrial Co., Ltd. on February 9, 2012 in Shanghai, China. She was diagnosed with a tumor in 2012. Her husband asked for a divorce shortly afterward. Zhang's child is being raised by her grandmother. Though Zhang doesn't expect to meet anybody new, she hopes to buy a house in three years. Photo by Jia Daitengfei / Getty Images.
Daitengfei was taken aback because most of the workers he initially interviewed were already partnered.
"It was amazing because there was a pop word in China now called 'leftover singles,' which means men and women who remained singled in their 30s," he said. "But those neotenous workers had fallen in love, got married and had kids at such a young age."
Six months after posing in wedding clothes in Shanghai, Hong Wang, a plate worker from Zhaotong, Yunnan Province, and girlfriend Yun Niu are still unmarried. Despite being in a relationship for the past four years, their parents won't let them marry as there is a great distance between their hometowns. Photo by Jia Daitengfei/Getty Images.
Daitengfei said rural Chinese culture pressures young workers to marry early, without careful thinking. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend, much less a family, can be financially demanding for a migrant worker living in a mainland city. Reuters reported that Chinese migrant workers earn about 1,748 Chinese yuan ($277) a month, which is half the average urban salary.
Also, paying for housing on that salary proves difficult, Daitengfei said, which is why a few of the married couples he interviewed couldn't afford to raise their children on their own. They sent their children back to the countryside to live with their parents. According to the Morning Post, one of the main sources of happiness for migrant workers was close proximity to their children.
And although senior leaders have promised to look after their welfare, migrant workers face a rigid household registration system -- known as 'Hukou' -- that denies them access to social benefits such as health care, unemployment and access to better local schools for their children. Daitengfei said the government is slow to act to safeguard migrant workers' rights and interests.
With all that in mind, six months later, Daitengfei returned to stories of separated families, love lost and loneliness. But why shoot wedding portraits in an environment that reminds these workers of their alienation?
Zhimin Lin pose for a photo on August 23, 2012 in Shanghai, China. Her husband Guanfu Chen has started a new job with an increased salary, but it means they can no longer live together. Photo by Jia Daitengfei/Getty Images.
For one, Daitengfei said it was a matter of convenience. Factory workers couldn't devote too much time away from the factory. Otherwise, it would have affected their hourly pay. And since wedding portraits are too expensive for a migrant worker's salary, Daitengfei shot them for free. Ultimately, Daitengfei saw the factory as the perfect setting for lives that are "like products on the assembly line."
Amid urban estrangement, "the young migrant workers see marriage just like a mission," Daitengfei said, making some of life's more important decisions in such a short time.
But Daitengfei hopes that the photos also reveal a better understanding about their dreams. On Valentine's Day he gifted the photos to the workers.
"I still remember their smiles clearly now," he said.
JEFFREY BROWN: Edward Snowden was back in the news today, from the U.S. House of Representatives to the Russian far east. His disclosures of sweeping U.S. surveillance and his continued presence outside Moscow prompted a series of new warnings.
The day's developments began with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a military exercise in Siberia, offering his most expansive comments to date on Snowden.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through translator): Mr. Snowden, as I understand it, never intended to stay here in Russia forever. He has even said so himself. He is a young man, I even don't quite understand how he plans to live his life in the future. But it is his fate and his choice.
JEFFREY BROWN: But Putin insisted again those choices will not be allowed to harm relations with the U.S.
VLADIMIR PUTIN (through translator): Bilateral relations, in my opinion, are far more important than squabbles about the activities of the secret services.
JEFFREY BROWN: Snowden formally applied yesterday, in a handwritten letter, for temporary asylum in Russia.
For now, he remains holed up at an airport outside Moscow. And despite Putin's statement, an attorney for the former NSA contractor said today he expects that petition to be granted.
ANATOLY KUCHERENA, attorney for Edward Snowden (through translator): He will in the next few days because some legal papers are still required to be formalized. Therefore, I think this issue will be resolved within a week.
JEFFREY BROWN: In Washington this afternoon, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called again for Snowden to be sent back to the U.S. to face espionage charges.
JAY CARNEY, White House press secretary: Mr. Snowden should be expelled and returned to the U.S., where he is -- has been charged with serious felonies. We share President Putin's view, expressed again, that we don't want this matter to do harm to our bilateral relations.
JEFFREY BROWN: Snowden has defended his leaks to Britain's Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post about surveillance efforts at the National Security Agency. They include massive collection of so-called telephone metadata, numbers called, times and locations of calls and duration.
Snowden also disclosed an Internet-monitoring program that mines data for users outside the United States. In addition, from his original temporary refuge in Hong Kong, he revealed major cyber-penetration of China, especially its universities.
The statutes enabling those activities were the subject of a House hearing today with the Justice Department, Directorate of National Intelligence, NSA and the FBI.
Deputy NSA Director John Inglis warned that Snowden's revelations have the potential to do great damage.
JOHN INGLIS, National Security Agency: The impact associated with Mr. Snowden's disclosures can be very, very harmful. It's too soon to tell whether in fact whether adversaries will take great note of the things that he's disclosed, but those capabilities, sensitive capabilities, gives them a playbook as to how they would avoid, right, the time and attention of the U.S. foreign intelligence or for that matter domestic intelligence organizations.
JEFFREY BROWN: But lawmakers complained that too many innocent Americans are caught up in the process.
Republican Jim Sensenbrenner told Deputy Attorney General Tom Cole that part of the Patriot Act, underpinning the metadata collection, is in danger of not being renewed in 2015.
REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, R-Wis.: It's got to be changed, and you have to change how you operate Section 215. Otherwise, in the year-and-a-half or two-and-a-half years, you're not going to have it anymore.
JEFFREY BROWN: California Democrat Zoe Lofgren agreed there is great skepticism on both left and right.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN, D-Calif.: I share with Mr. Sensenbrenner the belief that this will not be able to be sustained. But I think that very clearly this program has gone off the tracks legally and needs to be reined in.
JEFFREY BROWN: Deputy A.G. Cole argued that use of the material is severely restricted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler wasn't reassured.
REP. JERROLD NADLER, D-N.Y.: The fact that a secret court unaccountable to public knowledge of what it is doing, for all practical purposes, unaccountable to the Supreme Court, may join you in misusing or abusing the statute is of no comfort whatsoever.
JEFFREY BROWN: The Judiciary Committee said it will soon take closed-door, classified testimony on the NSA programs.