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

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    Watch the Virginia candidates for governor debate in the live stream player above beginning at 11 a.m. EDT July 20. Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe will field questions from moderator Judy Woodruff.

    The Morning Line

    This fall the eyes of the political world will be fixed on Virginia, with the state playing host to the most competitive race of 2013, as businessman and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe faces off against Ken Cuccinelli, the state's Republican attorney general.

    With the Old Dominion having served as a hotly-contested battleground state in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, the result of this year's gubernatorial contest, just like the 2009 battle won by Republican Bob McDonnell, will be looked at for national implications heading into the 2014 midterms.

    A trio of polls released this week ahead of Saturday's first debate between the two candidates reveal a close race. McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli by four points in two of the surveys. He has a 43 percent to 39 percent advantage in a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, and a 41 percent to 37 percent lead in the one done by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling.

    A Roanoke College poll found Cuccinelli out front with 37 percent and McAuliffe with 31 percent. More than a quarter of respondents in the Roanoke survey said they were undecided.

    One of the interesting trends to watch going forward will be how the candidates split the support among women voters. President Barack Obama won female voters in Virginia by seven points over John McCain in 2008, and by nine points over Mitt Romney last year. But in his decisive victory over Democrat Creigh Deeds in 2009, McDonnell flipped the score, winning women by eight points, 54 percent to 46 percent.

    Democrats have attacked Cuccinelli for being outside the mainstream of Virginia voters when it comes to his views on women's issues, including the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women's Act, and limiting abortion rights.

    Cuccinelli, meanwhile, has attempted to soften his image with women voters. His first television ad of the campaign, released in April and featuring his wife as narrator, focused on his work on women's issues and human trafficking.

    For the moment, at least, it appears that McAuliffe has the edge when it comes to the gender gap. The Democrat leads by 16 points among women according to the Quinnipiac poll, while Cuccinelli has an eight-point advantage among men.

    Outside forces could also play a role in the race, with the ethical cloud surrounding McDonnell that has consumed much of the oxygen in the Virginia political scene right now.

    The current GOP governor has come under intense scrutiny for failing to disclose $145,000 in cash and gifts he and his family received from a wealthy campaign donor in 2011 and 2012.

    The scandal does not seem to have impacted Cuccinelli, with 70 percent of voters saying the developments make no difference in their decision this November, according to the Quinnipiac survey.

    On Thursday, a state prosecutor found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on Cuccinelli's part for failing to report stock holdings he had in Star Scientific and gifts from the company's chief executive, Jonnie Williams Sr., the individual at the center of the McDonnell controversy.

    Heading into Saturday's debate, Politico's Alexander Burns notes that Democrats have their own concerns about McAuliffe's campaign:

    Despite all the breaks their candidate has caught this year, what still keeps Democrats awake at night is chronic uncertainty over whether McAuliffe can rein in his showman's instincts, hit his marks and present himself as, you know, gubernatorial.

    McAuliffe's friends and allies freely acknowledge that's not necessarily an easy sell for a man who once waved a bottle of rum around on national television, while clad in a floral shirt, on the day of Puerto Rico's 2008 Democratic presidential primary. The same expansive personality that helped McAuliffe bank nearly twice as much cash as Cuccinelli last month is also a big fat target for his opponent to bait, prod and attack.

    PBS NewsHour senior correspondent Judy Woodruff will moderate Saturday's debate, which is sponsored by the Virginia Bar Association and is being held at The Homestead in Hot Springs.

    The VBA and the NewsHour will live-stream the debate beginning at 11 a.m. ET.

    LINE ITEMS

    Politico's Josh Bresnahan and Manu Raju examine the splintering of the Senate Republican Conference.

    The city of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy Thursday, making it the largest U.S. municipality to do so ever and marking the rock bottom of a long fall for a city that was once the crown jewel of American industry. The Detroit Free Press reported leaders say the city can't pay its bills and has $20 billion in liabilities. And Daniel Howes of the Detroit News writes the move could have wide, negative implications for city retirees, the municipal bond market and localities across the state.

    The Senate confirmed leaders of the Labor Department and Environmental Protection Agency Thursday, further finalizing President Barack Obama's second-term cabinet. Labor Secretary Tom Perez earned a 54 to 46 party-line vote, and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy received a vote of 59 to 40.

    Baby Veronica will return to live with her adoptive parents, a South Carolina court ruled. The case involving the toddler, heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this year, had been a closely watched test of the Indian Child Welfare Act. Here is Marcia Coyle's analysis of the case on the NewsHour in April.

    The National Review's Robert Costa reports that Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will headline a Republican dinner in Iowa this fall to mark the birthday of Hawkeye State Gov. Terry Branstad.

    National Journal offers a detailed portrait of where Mr. Obama's top advisers and officials grew up and went to college, and asks: "Is the Obama administration elitist?"

    Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report dubs 2014 "The Cross-Wind Election."

    New York GOP Rep. Peter King told the New York Observer that he's looking at a run for president.

    The House is considering a bill that would rewrite No Child Left Behind, President George W. Bush's signature education policy.

    Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer went on the Colbert Report Thursday to explain his bid for New York City comptroller.

    Matt Waite published on Poynter's site an explainer on how local journalists can map political relationships and campaign donations.

    Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., explains on Buzzfeed why he's "a hip hop conservative."

    The American Mustache Institute, the world's foremost facial hair research and advocacy group, is relocating from St. Louis to Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey released a joint statement applauding the news. "The American Mustache Institute's decision confirmed what we already knew -- that Pittsburgh is not only one of the country's most livable cities but one of the most stylish. From the Handlebar to the Horseshoe, Pittsburghers can do it all," Casey said in the statement.

    Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., have been hosting burgers and beer luncheons at Kelly's Irish Times on Capitol Hill so they can discuss tax policy with colleagues from both parties.

    BuzzFeed gives seven reasons why Harry Reid is a guy you don't want to mess with.

    NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

    Politics Desk Assistant Mallory Sofastaii looks at the bipartisan group of legislators No Labels.

    Ray Suarez discussed the conviction of Alexei Navalny and its significance with Fiona Hill of the Brookings Institution.

    Special correspondent John Tulenko reported on a Connecticut school district using a unique approach to bilingual education.

    Watch Video

    TOP TWEETS

    My very first #tbt. Which my staff members are enjoying way too much. pic.twitter.com/6iqNuF4cpk

    — Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) July 18, 2013

    Hey hey hey... RT @theatlanticwire: Rahm Emanuel dance party! http://t.co/FAMpfO0ryshttp://t.co/xPKfKnvPwO

    — Rahm Emanuel (@RahmEmanuel) July 18, 2013

    "Called it!" - Mitt Romney RT @joshledermanAP DETROIT (AP) -- Detroit emergency manager files largest municipal bankruptcy in US history

    — daveweigel (@daveweigel) July 18, 2013

    We love you, Detroit.

    — Detroit Symphony (@DetroitSymphony) July 18, 2013

    I've been called out for wearing my AllStars, laceless. @PressSec now doing fashion tips... pic.twitter.com/WNKwQSE9Kd

    — Jessica Yellin (@JessicaYellin) July 18, 2013

    .@JessicaYellin Called out with admiration, Jessica, for your excellent choice in footwear. AllStars, even laceless, are classic.

    — Jay Carney (EOP) (@PressSec) July 18, 2013

    Come to NY RT @politicalwire: Just 19% of NC voters say they would ever consider voting for John Edwards again http://t.co/fVw94sEwlc

    — Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) July 18, 2013

    Happy Birthday John Glenn! @nasa@USNatArchivespic.twitter.com/9fRYTUoNB1

    — JFK Library (@JFKLibrary) July 18, 2013

    This @Buzzfeed take on my life is entertaining. I remember that match, it was my first KO. http://t.co/PrDHA7suTI

    — Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) July 18, 2013

    For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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

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

    Follow the politics team on Twitter:

    Follow @cbellantoni

    Follow @burlijFollow @kpolantzFollow @elizsummersFollow @tiffanymullonFollow @meenaganesanFollow @ljspbs

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    White House hosts Google+ Hangout

    At 12 p.m. EDT, the White House will host a Google+ Hangout on "The Stuff Superheroes are Made Of," the latest in their "We the Geeks" series that focuses on the future of science, technology and innovation. Experts who are working to develop impenetrable liquid armor, self-healing, touch-sensitive synthetic skin and, wait for it, invisibility cloaks will all be on hand to discuss their research.

    The Hangout is lead by White House innovation adviser Tom Kalil and includes:

    James Kakalios, Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Minnesota, and author of "The Physics of Superheroes", Nathan Landy, graduate student at Duke University who's working on an invisibility cloak, Zhenan Bao, Professor of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University, focusing on self-healing and touch-sensitive synthetic skin, Norman Wagner, Alvin B. and Julia O. Stiles Professor of Chemical Engineering at University of Delaware, researching liquid armor, and Nate Ball, co-founder of Atlas Devices and inventor of Batman-like Ascender and host of PBS's Design Squad Nation.

    How realistic are these inventions outside of the realm of a comic book or "Harry Potter"? More likely than you might think. In October 2012, Hari Sreenivasan spoke with Jim Kakalios, physics professor at the University of Minnesota and a science consultant for film, about the science and physics behind superheroes:

    And science reporter Rebecca Jacobson rounded up some of Kakolios's best examples of superheroes -- like Batman, The Flash and The Invisible Woman -- whose superhuman powers rely on science.

    Support Your Local PBS Station


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    This picture of Earth from space was taken in June 2001 from the International Space Station orbiting at an altitude of 211 nautical miles. Photo by NASA.

    Okay, so it's kind of gimmicky, but it's all in the spirit of planetary science -- or more accurately interplanetary science. So let's give it up for NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which is planning a historic photo of Earth from deep space at 5:27 p.m. EDT Friday evening.

    It's the perfect picture for the camera shy, because at 898 million miles away, you'll never be spotted -- Earth itself will only appear as slightly more than a pixel, a tiny speck of blue light. Still, NASA is nonetheless encouraging the public to look out at the sky at that precise moment and wave. (Find event times for around the world here.)

    The image will mostly focus on Saturn and its giant rings, and it will take place during the planet's eclipse of the sun. In fact, the reason that Cassini will be able to see Saturn so well this evening is because the planet is blotting out the sun, making for a lovely backlit portrait.

    Cassini's imaging team has been busy preparing for this moment. Carolyn Porco, leader of that team and an imaging scientist on the 1980s Voyager mission, wrote this post on the project last month, calling people's involvement in the photo "a full-throated, cosmic shout-out." Our moon will also photobomb the shot.

    The Earth portrait will be part of a mosaic of images taken over about a 15-minute span. Filters will be used to simulate natural color "that looks like what human eyes would see," Porco wrote.

    This will mark only the third time that a photo of the Earth has been taken from our outer solar system. The first and most distant was captured 23 years ago by NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft from a nearly 4-billion-mile distance -- the famous Pale Blue Dot. Cassini also snapped an image in 2006 from 926 million miles away.

    This panoramic view of Saturn was created by combining a total of 165 images taken by the Cassini wide-angle camera over nearly three hours on Sept. 15, 2006. Photo by NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

    NASA, by the way, is planning to make a "special collage" of people smiling at Saturn. To take part, join the Flickr group Wave at Saturn, add them to the Wave at Saturn Facebook event page or tag pictures on Twitter #waveatsaturn.

    QUICK BITES

    At this Boston museum, kids take part in research in what's called the "Living Laboratory." Miles O'Brien reports for the National Science Foundation's Science Nation.

    Why do we drink lemonade when it's hot out? Slate examines how acidity quenches thirst.

    From Smithsonian.com: Scientists believe that all the gold in the universe could have been created by collisions of Neutron Stars -- a rare event that happens only once every 100,000 years.

    Researchers at University of California at Berkeley think they have figured out the origin of the fear of heights in humans ... by sticking babies in go-carts.

    Half longhorn bull, half triceratops. Wired reports that scientists discovered a new dinosaur in southern Utah with 2.5-foot horns that extend over its nose.

    A group of South American countries have mobilized to stop ".amazon" from becoming a new suffix for Internet addresses. The online retailer Amazon lobbied for the new domain name at a meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN,) the agency that must approve new addresses. But Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Peru, among others, argued that the name was "too intrinsically connected to their region to allow Amazon to use it," the New York Times reports.

    A San Francisco Bay Area startup has created an engineering-focused toy aimed specifically at little girls, Tech Crunch reports.

    NOT SAFE FOR LUNCH

    "In French Revolution-style, researchers decapitated flatworms -- then did something that would give even Madam Defarge the creeps," National Geographic reports. "The scientists let the worms' heads grow back and found that their memories returned along with the new noggins, according to a new study in the Journal of Experimental Biology."

    For the record, the National Science Foundation is an underwriter of the NewsHour.

    Patti Parson, David Pelcyger and Justin Scuiletti contributed to this report.

    We invite you to participate in our ongoing science content assessment. Help us continue to improve our program by taking this survey.

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    By Benn Steil

    John Maynard Keynes revolutionized economic theory to show that government intervention can stabilize economies. Photo courtesy of Tim Gidal/Picture Post/Getty Images.

    Paul Solman: It is the anniversary of the fateful Bretton Woods monetary conference that took place in New Hampshire in July 1944. The Allies of World War II, all 44 of them, increasingly confident of victory, met to discuss and lay the plans for a post-war global economy, cognizant of how their predecessors had royally screwed up the economic aftermath of World War I.

    The chief economic protagonists of the conference were the legendary artistocratic Englishman John Maynard Keynes and the feisty American Harry Dexter White, who was later drummed out of government for being overly sympathetic to, if not collaborative with, one of those Allies, the Soviet Union.

    Benn Steil, senior fellow and director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, has recently written a book about Keynes, White and the conference: "The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order."

    He was gracious enough to post here recently on the subject: "Would a New 'Bretton Woods' Save the World Economy." I asked him to return for an anniversary post.

    Benn Steil: The most renowned and revolutionary economist of his age, and the first-ever of the now-common celebrity variety, John Maynard Keynes spent a remarkable and colorful life as a scholar, journalist, polemicist, speculator and diplomat dedicated to one great intellectual challenge above all: unraveling the mysteries and combating the menaces (as he saw them) of the economic and social phenomenon of money.

    Keynes' first academic article, "Recent Economic Events in India," published in 1909 when he was 26, marked the true beginning of his enduring intellectual love affair with matters of money. Generating "statistics of verification" linking Indian price movements with gold flows put him into a "tremendous state of excitement," he wrote to painter Duncan Grant. "Here are my theories -- will the statistics bear them out? Nothing except copulation is so enthralling."

    His first experience in government, as an official in the U.K. India Office, led to the publication of his first book, "Indian Currency and Finance," in 1913. Two broad themes emerged that would become constants in Keynes' thinking.

    The first was that progress in global monetary reform consisted in the progressive diminution of the role of gold. Those who insisted that a reserve currency need take the form of a physical commodity were misguidedly backing "a relic of a time when governments were less trustworthy in these matters than they are now, and when it was the fashion to imitate uncritically the system which had been established in England and had seemed to work so well during the second quarter of the nineteenth century."

    Today, of course, popular debate is often heated over whether governments are insufficiently trustworthy in monetary matters or, alternatively, overly hidebound in their response to financial market breakdowns.

    If "gold is at last deposed from its despotic control over us and reduced to the position of a constitutional monarch," Keynes pronounced with his trademark acerbic wit, "a new chapter of history will have opened. Man will have made another step forward in the attainment of self-government."

    The second theme was that London was the natural hub upon which global monetary reform could and should be built. Half the world's trade at the time was financed by British credit, owing to the global reach of the empire and the reliably gold-backed pound sterling. London had thereby long thrived as the epicenter of world banking.

    Unfortunately for Britain, however, World War I changed everything. Though America's entry into the war in April 1917 seemed to ensure an ultimate Allied victory, it would clearly be one in which the old financial and monetary order, with Britain at its head, would not survive. The United States, Keynes fumed, seemingly delighted "in reducing us to a position of complete financial helplessness and dependence . . . In another year's time, we shall have forfeited the claim we had staked out in the New World and in exchange this country will be mortgaged to America."

    In the immediate aftermath of the war, Keynes turned his attention to combating what he saw as the wretchedly misguided financial terms imposed on defeated Germany, which he was convinced would lead to war again in due course. These ideas were developed in his trenchant 1919 international bestseller "The Economic Consequences of the Peace." Never one to be satisfied with mere commentary on financial affairs, however, Keynes dissipated much of the early profits from his book in his new hobby of currency speculation.

    Setting out to synthesize his evolving post-war ideas on money, Keynes published "A Tract on Monetary Reform" in December 1923. The central argument of the book was that it was the demand for money, rather than its supply, that the monetary authorities should aim to stabilize. (When the proportion of their wealth people wish to hold in cash and bank accounts jumps around a lot, the economy itself becomes unstable.)

    The most important implication of his argument, Keynes explained, was that the authorities should intervene actively and continuously to vary the supply of currency notes and the ratio of bank cash reserves to bank deposits. This was in marked contrast to the gold standard, the central villain of the peace in Keynes' telling, wherein the authorities behaved much more mechanically in response to movements in the monetary gold stock across borders: when gold flowed in, they loosened credit, and when it flowed out, they tightened credit.

    Deflation was a natural periodic result of this mechanism and was more damaging to employment in an environment of growing union power and worker political participation. Central banking, Keynes believed, should now "be regarded as a kind of beneficent technique of scientific control such as electricity and other branches of science are."

    Keynes acknowledged that the gold standard had performed admirably in the late 19th century, but insisted that conditions were decidedly different now. In particular, one of the many awful effects of the war was to transfer much of the world's monetary gold to the United States. There was more than a tinge of jealous nationalism in Keynes' assertion, however justified, that attempts to restore the gold standard, a "barbarous relic," would lead to a "surrender [of] the regulation of our price level and the handling of the credit cycle to the hands of the Federal Reserve Board," which had set up "a dollar standard ... on the pedestal of the Golden Calf."

    The shift in financial power from London to New York and Washington, a threat to British financial independence and global influence, was to be a constant concern of Keynes, reflected even in his theoretical work, for the remainder of his career.

    The question of money -- its function, its history, its management and its psychology -- became an ever-deeper fascination of Keynes. This was clearly as much visceral and emotional as it was intellectual.

    In a 1928 essay titled "Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren," he famously condemned the "love of money [as] a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of the semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to specialists in mental disease."

    Reflecting views that were not uncommon among his class at the time, he also saw this love as a particular pathology of a particular group: Jews. "I still think the race has shown itself, not merely for accidental reasons," he wrote to a polite American critic of his views, "more than normally interested in the accumulation of usury."

    Keynes himself was "more than normally" partial to speculation, which would cost him dearly that year. Long on commodities such as rubber, corn, cotton and tin, he was forced to sell securities to cover margin calls when the market turned against him. His net worth plummeted from £44,000 at the end of 1927 (about $3.5 million in current dollars) to £7815 at the end of 1929 following the Wall Street crash in October, in spite of his having no holdings of U.S. stocks at the time.

    October of that year would see the publication of his first major tome: the two-volume "A Treatise on Money." A critical message of "Treatise," as Keynes saw it, was that a central bank (or, more specifically, the Bank of England, now that its dominant international role had been arrogated by the Fed) keeping monetary policy sufficiently tight so as to avoid the loss of gold reserves would wind up inflicting severe and lasting damage to domestic profits and employment owing to the endemic "stickiness" of certain prices.

    That is, prices -- particularly wages -- failed to adjust downwards, as they should under classical economic theory. This Keynes believed, was largely the result of the resistance of organized labor to nominal wage cuts.

    One of the critical differences between Keynes and the so-called classical economists is that whereas the latter believed that labor market blockages could be overcome politically, and psychological quirks through market forces, Keynes believed that it was monetary policy itself that needed to adapt to the "natural tendencies" of society and the "system as it actually is."

    This debate renewed itself with great force in the 1970s, a period of so-called "stagflation": high unemployment and high inflation, a combination which puzzled many Keynesian-schooled economists at the time. (Orthodoxy held that rising unemployment should have put clear downward pressure on prices.)

    "Treatise" ends with an important chapter on the management of international monetary affairs. Both wonky and visionary, it develops ideas that Keynes would later champion, unsuccessfully, at Bretton Woods in 1944. In particular, there was the concept of "Supernational Bank-money" (SBM): an international reserve asset to be issued by a new Supernational Bank, which Keynes hoped would, over time, come to supplant gold as the ultimate such reserve asset. Keynes would refashion SBM in the 1940s as "bancor," with the aim not just of supplanting gold but of preventing what seemed to be the inexorable march toward global dollar hegemony (a clear threat, in Keynes' eyes, to sovereign national economic decision-making).

    MORE ABOUT KEYNES AND HAYEK Late Economists' Hip-Hop Legacy

    Critical reviews of "Treatise" from the likes of Friedrich Hayek, the young, rising Austrian economist at the London School of Economics, and former student Dennis Robertson convinced Keynes not that he was misdiagnosing the problem but that he needed a radically different theoretical approach to defend his diagnosis.

    In spite of the pound's devaluation and a fall in interest rates, British unemployment reached 17 percent in 1932. Something, he was sure, was awry in the classical view of the self-correcting market, and that something, he was equally sure, had to do with the very nature of a money-based economy. But he had not yet put his finger on it. "We have been opposing the orthodox school more by our flair and instinct than because we have discovered in precisely what respects their theory is wrong," he confessed in November 1934.

    Contravening his new and now oft-quoted principle that "finance [should] be primarily national," Keynes had begun enthusiastically buying shares on Wall Street in 1932, which would more than triple in value over the next four years. U.S. stocks made up 40 percent of his personal portfolio by 1936, the year he finally published his magnum opus: "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money."

    "The General Theory" is one of the most influential works of economic thought -- and arguably the most intellectually audacious -- ever published. It is difficult to overestimate the book's impact on the economics profession, particularly in the United States. It virtually established macroeconomics as a discipline; the term, in fact, only started being used in the 1940s.

    But the unusual style of "The General Theory" also made it difficult for even expert readers to separate out its "true" substance. It is only slightly outlandish to liken the book to the Bible: powerful in its message, full of memorable, mellifluous passages, at times obscure, tedious, tendentious and contradictory, a work of passion driven by intuition with tenuous logic and observation offered as placeholders until disciples could be summoned to supply the proofs.

    As Keynes himself said of his masterwork, "I am more attached to the comparatively simple fundamental ideas which underlie my theory than to the particular forms in which I have embodied them ... if the simple basic ideas can become familiar and acceptable, time and experience and the collaboration of a number of minds will discover the best way of expressing them."

    The central argument of the book was revolutionary (at least to economists): the economy had no natural tendency towards full employment. High unemployment could persist indefinitely if governments did not intervene forcefully to boost consumption demand. Cheap money provided by the central bank was not enough.

    This was wholly contrary to classical economics, which held that protracted involuntary unemployment was a result of some interference in the workings of the price mechanism. Classical economics showed that full employment required flexible wages; Keynes showed why, with different assumptions, falling wages could actually worsen unemployment. These different assumptions were related to the nature of money, human psychology and conventions of contemporary society. Each of these on its own would do for his argument; he was not that particular.

    Such a brazen treatise would have gotten a much colder reception during the American boom years of the 1920s, but in the midst of a Great Depression, with unheard-of levels of unemployment, it was compelling even to economists who disagreed with Keynes' logical apparatus. In the United States, the book held particular appeal as an intellectual justification for controversial New Deal policies. If today it seems natural to most policymakers that governments should run deficits in recessions to stabilize the economy, it was far from a natural notion in the 1930s; it was Keynes who made the prescription intellectually respectable.

    Like another great mind of his time, Albert Einstein, Keynes had a preternatural ability to see relationships between complex phenomena entirely differently from the way generations of experts before him had. Though mathematics was the primary analytical tool for both physics and economics, neither Einstein nor Keynes was exceptionally gifted in, nor fascinated by, higher mathematics. They had an utterly rare gift of intellectual intuition. Both thought through problems which obsessed them through the vehicle of analogy, like riding on a light beam (which sparked Einstein's theory of special relativity) or living in an economy that produces and consumes only bananas (through which Keynes "proved" that thrift was deadly). A great admirer of Einstein, whom he had met in Berlin in 1926, Keynes, it would surely seem, quite consciously emulated Einstein's approach of turning on their heads eternal mechanisms the world thought it understood.

    Isaac Newton had claimed that time was absolute and fixed, and who but a madman questioned this? Einstein did. Time was relative, he believed, and he subsequently proved it. Keynes' controversial claim of having erected a new "General Theory" was a transparent mimicking of Einstein's "general" (as contrasted to his merely "special") theory of relativity.

    Classical economists -- that is, the only ones who were reputable in the 1920s -- believed in Say's Law, expressed by Keynes as "supply creates its own demand," and Keynes set out to prove that this was false. (See Paul Solman's explanation of Say's Law from 2012.) Keynes argued that Say's Law had everything the wrong way around; in fact, it was "expenditure (that) creates its own income." It was demand, not supply, that determined the level of economic activity. It was investment that called forth the requisite savings, through its boosting of income, not the other way around. The result, in Keynes' theoretical apparatus, was that demand, given the psychological factors which tended to depress it, could at any given time be insufficient to ensure full employment. Classical economics was wrong on this central issue, with terrible consequences when its prescriptions were followed.

    The most fundamental analytical question that has divided economists since publication of "The General Theory" is whether a situation of persistent mass unemployment can be characterized as an "equilibrium," meaning that it can exist even if all prices are perfectly flexible.

    This is where high theory and hard reality intersect because the answer has important implications for policy. If the answer is yes, this was indeed a revolutionary insight, as it meant that there was no self-correcting mechanism in the market -- a slump could go on forever unless government investment stepped in for what would otherwise be permanently deficient private investment. If the answer is no, however, then rather than initiate a self-sustaining recovery through the "multiplier effect," such intervention would mute the price signals calling for a shift in productive capacity toward more desired uses. The Keynesian solution addresses symptoms rather than causes, in the classical view, and thereby delays sustainable recovery.

    This debate has never been resolved, as the same evidence is cited by each side to support its position. Thus the Japanese economic malaise of the 1990s was, in the Keynesian view, the result of premature termination of "fiscal stimulus," or, in the classical view, the result of an excessive reliance on it. The same debate repeated itself following the collapse of the U.S. housing market in 2007.

    Keynes had struggled for years since his repudiation of the intellectual apparatus of "Treatise" to induce a compelling theoretical cause for his burning belief that investment could, even under flexible prices, fail to harmonize with savings in a way that would maximize aggregate income. In "The General Theory," he believed he had found it. It was the concept of "liquidity preference," or the idea that people might choose to hoard inert cash rather than consume or invest the fruits of their labor. The conviction that "money is the root of all evil," Keynes biographer Robert Skidelsky observed, "is almost a sub-text of the 'General Theory.'" Liquidity preference was the theoretical kernel that seeded Keynes' new thinking about global monetary reform. For Keynes' French nemesis during the debate on German war reparations, Jacques Rueff, who would go on in the 1960s to be a leading critic of Keynes' (and American Harry Dexter White's) World War II monetary reform blueprint, liquidity preference was not only the nub but the fatal flaw of "The General Theory" edifice.

    Critiques of "The General Theory" are many and disparate, but Rueff was surely right to see Keynes' account of the workings of the monetary system as the crux of his case against classical economics. In a Quarterly Journal of Economics article published a year after Keynes' death in 1946, Rueff showed why, logically, "the demand for additional cash holdings," or what Keynes called derisively "the propensity to hoard," had to be "equivalent in its economic effects to demand for consumption goods or investment goods." If Rueff was right, Keynes had failed in his attempt to move beyond "Treatise" and to establish a theoretical foundation for his bold policy prescriptions.

    Rueff's defense of classical economics was most readily grasped in a commodity-based monetary system, such as the pre-war gold standard, in that the demand for money was necessarily equivalent to the demand for mining, moving and monetizing gold. Yet it held just as well, Rueff argued, in a fiat money system in which central banks issued cash in return for securities -- securities representing "wealth which is either stored up or, more generally, on its way through the process of production."

    To demand money is not to demand nothingness, as Keynes would have it, but rather to demand real wealth capable of being monetized within the framework of the existing monetary system. So just as an increased demand for gold does not itself diminish the purchasing power impinging on the market, an increased demand for money does not itself do so.

    Rueff argued that Keynes' monetary and fiscal policy prescriptions had no sound basis. On the contrary, their inevitable result down the road would be inflation and a private productive apparatus less able to supply the goods and services people actually want. Hubert Henderson and others had shared this view, but it did not become widespread until the stagflation of the 1970s and the consequent anti-Keynesian blowback. At that point, the implication of "The General Theory" that government could always, and predictably, improve on the laissez-faire outcome no longer seemed tenable. The revival of the book following the 2008 economic crisis was largely based on the notion that it was a reliable tract on depression economics, if not in fact a "general theory" that could be applied in boom times as well, as Keynes had held.

    Had it not been for the re-emergence of the dark clouds of war in the late 1930s, Keynes would almost certainly have lived longer and died less notable. Though a liberal cosmopolitan like Einstein, Keynes was not a nationally uprooted one, which disposed him differently towards politics. Keynes was thoroughly British, and it was the British problems of his day that drove his theorizing -- problems of deflation and depression, paying for war and surviving the perilous transitions to peace. And when war came to Britain once again, Keynes, in spite of his delicate and deteriorating health, was ready to man the frontlines of its critical financial engagement. Back again at the U.K. Treasury in 1940, he would emerge, through his role as Britain's head of delegation to the 1944 Bretton Woods international monetary conference, as the most celebrated economist-statesman in history.

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


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    On the July 8, 1998 NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, we aired excerpts from a panel with President Bill Clinton called "A Dialogue on Race."

    Speaking from the White House Friday about the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin ruling, President Barack Obama offered very candid remarks on race relations in America and why the killing of an African-American teenager resonated with him so personally.

    Fifteen years ago, in July 1998, Jim Lehrer held a panel with President Bill Clinton called "A Dialogue on Race." Watch excerpts from the conversation above and the full one-hour version PBS aired on July 9, 1998 below. The roundtable was wide-ranging and nuanced, touching on both the roots of discrimination and the obstacles in finding solutions. President Clinton said then that economics and education were the best tools to end racism.

    PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: The point I wanted to make is to whatever extent you can have an economic approach that embraces people of all races, if it elevates disproportionately racial groups that are disproportionately depressed, you will help to deal with the race problem. But there is -- no one could look around the world -- if you forget about America, just look at the rest of the world-no one could doubt the absence of a deep, inbred predisposition of people to fear, look down on, separate themselves from, and, when possible, discriminate against people who are of different racial and ethnic groups than themselves. I mean, this is the primary factor in the world's politics today.

    JIM LEHRER: Roger Rosenblatt, how would you answer the president's question? Where do we get our attitudes about race? Where do they come from?

    ROGER ROSENBLATT, Essayist: Well, they come from fear, I guess, and they come from ignorance. And they come from a general sense of otherness, which doesn't only apply to us. It just applies to everybody perceiving something different and then backing off in some way. For the worst of those who back off it takes the form of hatred, for the best just a kind of shy retreat. But what Kay was saying about integration came back to something you were saying too, Mr. President. What can the president do on this major issue, this deep issue? I would love to see the goal of integration be boisterously set again. If the race issue is a microcosm of what the country ought to be, then the solving of racism ought to be the solving of the country. We are one place, one complicated, roiling, difficult place in which a great deal of progress has been made, and that ought to be said too. But if you could reaffirm the idea, remind us that integration is the goal, I think it would be a huge first step.

    Watch Video

    PBS aired the full one-hour roundtable on race on July 9, 1998.

    On Friday's PBS NewsHour, Jeffrey Brown hosts a discussion on what it means when the nation's first black president takes to the White House briefing room to talk race in America.

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    RAY SUAREZ: The nation's first black president came to the White House Briefing Room this afternoon, and took on the Trayvon Martin killing and race in America in highly personal terms.

    He spoke a day before protests are planned nationwide over the acquittal of George Zimmerman in Martin's death.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.

    And when you think about why, in the African-American community at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it's important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that -- that doesn't go away.

    There are very few African-American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.

    And there are very few African-American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator.

    There are very few African-Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

    And, you know, I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it's inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.

    The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

    Now, this isn't to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence.

    It's not to make excuses for that fact, although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.

    And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent -- using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

    Now, the question for me at least, and I think, for a lot of folks is, where do we take this? How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?

    Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it -- if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.

    And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these stand your ground laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?

    And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?

    And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

    We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

    I don't want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. It doesn't mean that we're in a post-racial society. It doesn't mean that racism is eliminated.

    But, you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they're better than we are. They're better than we were on these issues. And that's true in every community that I have visited all across the country.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And for some perspective the president's comments, we're joined by two guests who were part of a discussion on the Zimmerman verdict at the beginning of the week, Carol Swain, a professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt Law School, and Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University Law School. They are joined tonight by Leonard Pitts Jr., a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Miami Herald, and our own presidential historian Michael Beschloss.

    And welcome to everybody.

    Leonard Pitts, why don't you start us off, if you would. Generally, what is your reaction to what the president said?

    LEONARD PITTS JR., The Miami Herald: Generally, my reaction is, glory, hallelujah, and thank you that the president finally said it.

    That said, I understand why he has not spoken on these issues so much before. Politically, it's sort of a lose-lose situation for him. There is no political upside.

    But, morally and socially, I believe and I think he came to the conclusion that as the nation's first African-American president, there is no way that he could stand on the sidelines on this.

    He had to, to speak to these issues, and he had to call the nation to account, not so much in terms of what happened legally in that courtroom in Florida, but in terms of the moral implications of it, in terms of this idea that seems to be bandied about that somehow it's Trayvon Martin's innocence or guilt that is in question, or that Mr. Zimmerman had every right to stalk Trayvon Martin because of perceived danger because of the color of his skin.

    That needs to be called into account. And I thought the president did a pretty good job of doing so.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Carol Swain, you were us earlier in the week, now the end of the week and after the president. What did you think?

    CAROL SWAIN, Vanderbilt University: There were parts of his speech that I appreciated.

    I appreciated the fact that he would actually have the conversation. But as far as the content, when he talks about racial profiling, yes, black men are followed and they are looked at more suspiciously. And I speak as a mother that's raised two black males. They certainly were followed.

    But, at the same time, what the president didn't stress is the fact that it's the crime rate and it's the behavior of black youth that causes so many people discomfort, and not just white people, but black people as well.

    We may remember a few years ago, when Jesse Jackson talked about being in black neighborhoods and hearing footsteps behind him and looking over and looking behind himself and seeing a white person and having more comfort.

    So I think the president has not dealt adequately with the fact that there is a problem in the black community. The black community has to take some responsibility for addressing those problems. I think it's time to have a national conversation on race that's not politically correct, that allows all of us, white, black, brown, red, to get off our chest the things that are affecting our racial conversation.

    We will never move ahead until blacks begin to take responsibility and whites begin to express their concerns.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Jonathan Turley, you talked on Monday about the perception of the American justice system, about the stand your ground. What do you think now after hearing the president?

    JONATHAN TURLEY, George Washington University: Well, I think there was much in his remarks that were quite touching, quite moving.

    The one thing the president can't say is that I really can't do anything about -- but, in reality, that is the case. That is, you don't -- you know, neighbors have dialogues. You don't have dialogues through plebiscites or politicians.

    The fact is, we all know that we have improved, but that improvement, it has to move forward, occur on a micro level. And part of the problem I think you see here is how dangerous cases are to be narratives for a national debate.

    We're really having two different debates. You have one community that has a due process narrative and one community that has a race narrative. And they're talking past each other. We're not speaking of the same issues.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And yet the president, Michael, stepped in, felt he had to come back at the end of the week and say something. How unusual -- what struck you about this?

    MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, presidential historian: Well, the first thing unusual about it, historians always look at a president and say, what is different?

    And look how different it was that you had an African-American president talking about this issue, rather than, for instance, John Kennedy, who in 1963 was campaigning exactly 50 years ago for a civil rights bill, looked in the camera and said, who among us would like to have the color of his skin changed and live the life that African-Americans do, "us" presumably being a white difference.

    That's how different things were. Spring of '68, Lyndon Johnson, after the death of Martin Luther King, called on black Americans and said essentially, don't respond to this with violence. They quite rightly said you don't have the standing to say that to us.

    In contrast, President Obama today said that the way to dishonor Trayvon Martin's legacy would be to respond with violence and also a political motive. And I think this comes -- this coincides with what Jonathan said.

    There has been a rising expectation in some quarters in the country that this verdict might be overwhelmed by federal action. It was probably even more after what Attorney General Holder said the other day. Sort of the diamond in the chandelier I think in the speech was, don't expect that to happen.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Leonard Pitts, react to what you just heard around the table here, but also this question of the continuing conversation that the president was talking about, not necessarily national conversation, but some kind of conversation among people in their communities.

    LEONARD PITTS JR.: Well, reacting to what I just heard, I think it's rather facile to pretend that there's this discussion about African-American overinvolvement, African-American male overinvolvement in the criminal justice system that we're not having, and that these black kids are essentially running riot and we need to talk about that.

    The fact of that matter is, according to every study I have seen, African-Americans are not necessarily more criminal than their counterparts. They are forwarded into the criminal justice system at a greater rate than their counterparts.

    I would submit that when you have a situation where African-Americans account for, say, 15 percent of the nation's drug crime, but in some jurisdictions, they account for 70, 80 and 90 percent of the people doing the nation's drug time, that's not a problem of African-Americans needing to take responsibility for themselves.

    I don't disagree that there are instances where African-Americans do need to take responsibility for themselves and the things that go on in their communities, but I think that it is entirely possible and, as a matter of fact, very frequently done that we oversell that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    LEONARD PITTS JR.: In terms of the conversation that needs to happen in this country, I think that we, as African-Americans, need to have a conversation about organizing and becoming frankly more activist than perhaps we have in recent years.

    I think that our white sisters and brothers need to frankly take a little bit more ownership of understanding what's going on in these communities, as opposed to ...

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right. No, I'm sorry. Go ahead.

    LEONARD PITTS JR.: I'm sorry -- need to take more ownership for knowing what's going on in African-American communities, as opposed to just sort of relying on these abstracts and stereotypes and media-fed perceptions that seem to be the root of so much of the problem and disconnect.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, let me bring Carol Swain in to respond to that.

    CAROL SWAIN: Well, first, I want to respond to the disparities around drug incarcerations.

    And that goes back to the penalties that were different for crack cocaine vs. regular cocaine.

    And if you look at the history of how we got tougher laws that affected blacks more than whites, initially, it was the Congressional Black Caucus that pushed for those tougher laws because of the devastating impact that crack cocaine was having in black communities.

    And then later, over the years, it became all about race, that it was -- that blacks were being treated differently because they use crack, but it was the black leaders that pushed for those laws. And I'm sure that President Obama would be familiar with that history.

    And the conditions in the black community, we are not addressing those conditions.

    And I believe that this whole -- the rallies, the whole politicization of the Trayvon Martin death is a way to take people's minds off the problems that are not being addressed certainly by the Democrats.

    And I see activist leaders, I think they are stirring the pot. They are not telling the whole trouble -- the whole story. And they have set up a situation where I think that there is likely to be more violence to ensue.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    CAROL SWAIN: And in the black community among teenagers, there's been a lot of mob violence since the president's been elected, where gangs of black teenagers attack a lone person, usually a white person, and it doesn't get the news media coverage that it should.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    CAROL SWAIN: We ought to be talking about it. I think there's been a worsening of that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Jonathan Turley, where do you see -- did you hear anything in what the president said about the legal case now or what happens next?

    JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, I think that's where I think critics will not be satisfied with the remarks, because he really didn't address this due process narrative.

    When he said, look, it could have come out differently if the races were switched, for those people who view the trial in more due process terms, the result was really preordained by the lack of evidence or at least how the prosecutors presented it and it wouldn't have turned out differently from that perspective.

    But, also, talking about stand your ground laws, that's come up a lot. It came up with the president, but it had nothing to do with the trial. They didn't use that law. This was a straight conventional self-defense case. And so, once again, you're sort of left with, we're not talking about the same subjects and we're certainly not talking from the same perspectives.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, Michael, you're talking about the president sort of using the bully pulpit here that he has. Where does it go from here? Hard to say.

    MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Well, I think probably one of the truest things he said was that it's not too smart for politicians to expect to start national conversations, because they are political and they are oftentimes trivial.

    What happens is an event. And just as you said, oftentimes an event starts a conversation on a subject that is larger or different from the one that the event concerned. In the late 1950s, Sputnik happened, started a national over whether we were doing enough to educate our children, especially in science and math?

    That was not the reason why Sputnik happened, but it started a very good dialogue, and perhaps this can here as well.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Michael Beschloss, and Jonathan Turley here in Washington, Carol Swain, Leonard Pitts, thank you all very much.

    LEONARD PITTS JR.: Thank you.

    MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Sure.RAY SUAREZ: The nation's first black president came to the White House Briefing Room this afternoon, and took on the Trayvon Martin killing and race in America in highly personal terms.

    He spoke a day before protests are planned nationwide over the acquittal of George Zimmerman in Martin's death.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.

    And when you think about why, in the African-American community at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it's important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that -- that doesn't go away.

    There are very few African-American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.

    And there are very few African-American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator.

    There are very few African-Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

    And, you know, I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it's inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.

    The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

    Now, this isn't to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence.

    It's not to make excuses for that fact, although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.

    And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent -- using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

    Now, the question for me at least, and I think, for a lot of folks is, where do we take this? How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?

    Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it -- if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.

    And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these stand your ground laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?

    And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?

    And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

    We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

    I don't want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. It doesn't mean that we're in a post-racial society. It doesn't mean that racism is eliminated.

    But, you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they're better than we are. They're better than we were on these issues. And that's true in every community that I have visited all across the country.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And for some perspective the president's comments, we're joined by two guests who were part of a discussion on the Zimmerman verdict at the beginning of the week, Carol Swain, a professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt Law School, and Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University Law School. They are joined tonight by Leonard Pitts Jr., a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Miami Herald, and our own presidential historian Michael Beschloss.

    And welcome to everybody.

    Leonard Pitts, why don't you start us off, if you would. Generally, what is your reaction to what the president said?

    LEONARD PITTS JR., The Miami Herald: Generally, my reaction is, glory, hallelujah, and thank you that the president finally said it.

    That said, I understand why he has not spoken on these issues so much before. Politically, it's sort of a lose-lose situation for him. There is no political upside.

    But, morally and socially, I believe and I think he came to the conclusion that as the nation's first African-American president, there is no way that he could stand on the sidelines on this.

    He had to, to speak to these issues, and he had to call the nation to account, not so much in terms of what happened legally in that courtroom in Florida, but in terms of the moral implications of it, in terms of this idea that seems to be bandied about that somehow it's Trayvon Martin's innocence or guilt that is in question, or that Mr. Zimmerman had every right to stalk Trayvon Martin because of perceived danger because of the color of his skin.

    That needs to be called into account. And I thought the president did a pretty good job of doing so.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Carol Swain, you were us earlier in the week, now the end of the week and after the president. What did you think?

    CAROL SWAIN, Vanderbilt University: There were parts of his speech that I appreciated.

    I appreciated the fact that he would actually have the conversation. But as far as the content, when he talks about racial profiling, yes, black men are followed and they are looked at more suspiciously. And I speak as a mother that's raised two black males. They certainly were followed.

    But, at the same time, what the president didn't stress is the fact that it's the crime rate and it's the behavior of black youth that causes so many people discomfort, and not just white people, but black people as well.

    We may remember a few years ago, when Jesse Jackson talked about being in black neighborhoods and hearing footsteps behind him and looking over and looking behind himself and seeing a white person and having more comfort.

    So I think the president has not dealt adequately with the fact that there is a problem in the black community. The black community has to take some responsibility for addressing those problems. I think it's time to have a national conversation on race that's not politically correct, that allows all of us, white, black, brown, red, to get off our chest the things that are affecting our racial conversation.

    We will never move ahead until blacks begin to take responsibility and whites begin to express their concerns.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Jonathan Turley, you talked on Monday about the perception of the American justice system, about the stand your ground. What do you think now after hearing the president?

    JONATHAN TURLEY, George Washington University: Well, I think there was much in his remarks that were quite touching, quite moving.

    The one thing the president can't say is that I really can't do anything about -- but, in reality, that is the case. That is, you don't -- you know, neighbors have dialogues. You don't have dialogues through plebiscites or politicians.

    The fact is, we all know that we have improved, but that improvement, it has to move forward, occur on a micro level. And part of the problem I think you see here is how dangerous cases are to be narratives for a national debate.

    We're really having two different debates. You have one community that has a due process narrative and one community that has a race narrative. And they're talking past each other. We're not speaking of the same issues.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And yet the president, Michael, stepped in, felt he had to come back at the end of the week and say something. How unusual -- what struck you about this?

    MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, presidential historian: Well, the first thing unusual about it, historians always look at a president and say, what is different?

    And look how different it was that you had an African-American president talking about this issue, rather than, for instance, John Kennedy, who in 1963 was campaigning exactly 50 years ago for a civil rights bill, looked in the camera and said, who among us would like to have the color of his skin changed and live the life that African-Americans do, "us" presumably being a white difference.

    That's how different things were. Spring of '68, Lyndon Johnson, after the death of Martin Luther King, called on black Americans and said essentially, don't respond to this with violence. They quite rightly said you don't have the standing to say that to us.

    In contrast, President Obama today said that the way to dishonor Trayvon Martin's legacy would be to respond with violence and also a political motive. And I think this comes -- this coincides with what Jonathan said.

    There has been a rising expectation in some quarters in the country that this verdict might be overwhelmed by federal action. It was probably even more after what Attorney General Holder said the other day. Sort of the diamond in the chandelier I think in the speech was, don't expect that to happen.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Leonard Pitts, react to what you just heard around the table here, but also this question of the continuing conversation that the president was talking about, not necessarily national conversation, but some kind of conversation among people in their communities.

    LEONARD PITTS JR.: Well, reacting to what I just heard, I think it's rather facile to pretend that there's this discussion about African-American overinvolvement, African-American male overinvolvement in the criminal justice system that we're not having, and that these black kids are essentially running riot and we need to talk about that.

    The fact of that matter is, according to every study I have seen, African-Americans are not necessarily more criminal than their counterparts. They are forwarded into the criminal justice system at a greater rate than their counterparts.

    I would submit that when you have a situation where African-Americans account for, say, 15 percent of the nation's drug crime, but in some jurisdictions, they account for 70, 80 and 90 percent of the people doing the nation's drug time, that's not a problem of African-Americans needing to take responsibility for themselves.

    I don't disagree that there are instances where African-Americans do need to take responsibility for themselves and the things that go on in their communities, but I think that it is entirely possible and, as a matter of fact, very frequently done that we oversell that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    LEONARD PITTS JR.: In terms of the conversation that needs to happen in this country, I think that we, as African-Americans, need to have a conversation about organizing and becoming frankly more activist than perhaps we have in recent years.

    I think that our white sisters and brothers need to frankly take a little bit more ownership of understanding what's going on in these communities, as opposed to ...

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right. No, I'm sorry. Go ahead.

    LEONARD PITTS JR.: I'm sorry -- need to take more ownership for knowing what's going on in African-American communities, as opposed to just sort of relying on these abstracts and stereotypes and media-fed perceptions that seem to be the root of so much of the problem and disconnect.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, let me bring Carol Swain in to respond to that.

    CAROL SWAIN: Well, first, I want to respond to the disparities around drug incarcerations.

    And that goes back to the penalties that were different for crack cocaine vs. regular cocaine.

    And if you look at the history of how we got tougher laws that affected blacks more than whites, initially, it was the Congressional Black Caucus that pushed for those tougher laws because of the devastating impact that crack cocaine was having in black communities.

    And then later, over the years, it became all about race, that it was -- that blacks were being treated differently because they use crack, but it was the black leaders that pushed for those laws. And I'm sure that President Obama would be familiar with that history.

    And the conditions in the black community, we are not addressing those conditions.

    And I believe that this whole -- the rallies, the whole politicization of the Trayvon Martin death is a way to take people's minds off the problems that are not being addressed certainly by the Democrats.

    And I see activist leaders, I think they are stirring the pot. They are not telling the whole trouble -- the whole story. And they have set up a situation where I think that there is likely to be more violence to ensue.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    CAROL SWAIN: And in the black community among teenagers, there's been a lot of mob violence since the president's been elected, where gangs of black teenagers attack a lone person, usually a white person, and it doesn't get the news media coverage that it should.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    CAROL SWAIN: We ought to be talking about it. I think there's been a worsening of that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Jonathan Turley, where do you see -- did you hear anything in what the president said about the legal case now or what happens next?

    JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, I think that's where I think critics will not be satisfied with the remarks, because he really didn't address this due process narrative.

    When he said, look, it could have come out differently if the races were switched, for those people who view the trial in more due process terms, the result was really preordained by the lack of evidence or at least how the prosecutors presented it and it wouldn't have turned out differently from that perspective.

    But, also, talking about stand your ground laws, that's come up a lot. It came up with the president, but it had nothing to do with the trial. They didn't use that law. This was a straight conventional self-defense case. And so, once again, you're sort of left with, we're not talking about the same subjects and we're certainly not talking from the same perspectives.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, Michael, you're talking about the president sort of using the bully pulpit here that he has. Where does it go from here? Hard to say.

    MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Well, I think probably one of the truest things he said was that it's not too smart for politicians to expect to start national conversations, because they are political and they are oftentimes trivial.

    What happens is an event. And just as you said, oftentimes an event starts a conversation on a subject that is larger or different from the one that the event concerned. In the late 1950s, Sputnik happened, started a national over whether we were doing enough to educate our children, especially in science and math?

    That was not the reason why Sputnik happened, but it started a very good dialogue, and perhaps this can here as well.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Michael Beschloss, and Jonathan Turley here in Washington, Carol Swain, Leonard Pitts, thank you all very much.

    LEONARD PITTS JR.: Thank you.

    MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Sure.


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    KWAME HOLMAN: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was released today, after thousands of demonstrators protested his five-year prison sentence. He was set free by a court in Kirov that had convicted him of embezzling half-a-million dollars worth of timber. Afterward, Navalny said he wasn't -- he hasn't decided if he's still running for mayor of Moscow.

    ALEXEI NAVALNY, Russian opposition leader (through translator): I am not their pet kitten or their pet kitten or their pet puppy, whom they can first throw out of the elections and say, you will not take part, and then decide, OK, let him in for a month to take part in the elections. I will now return to Moscow, and we will discuss everything with my electoral campaign staff.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Navalny is to remain free pending his appeal.

    A former CIA station chief convicted in Italy of abducting a terror suspect is or soon will be back to the United States. A State Department spokeswoman announced it today. Robert Seldon Lady was detained in Panama this week, at Italy's request. He'd been convicted in absentia in the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric.

    A suicide bomber killed at least 22 people in Central Iraq today. At least 50 people were wounded. It happened at a Sunni mosque in Diyala province during Friday prayers. Police found a second bomb nearby. An estimated 200 Iraqis have died in sectarian violence since the Islamic holy month of Ramadan began last week.

    In Egypt, thousands of protesters were back in the streets after Friday prayers, in a show of support for ousted President Mohammed Morsi. They waved Egyptian flags and marched through Cairo, demanding Morsi's reinstatement. Helicopters flown by the military that pushed Morsi out flew above Tahrir Square, brandishing flags as well.

    The U.S. House voted today to reduce the federal government's power to set school standards. Republicans pushed through a bill that would eliminate testing and teacher evaluation first imposed under the No Child Left Behind law.

    Minnesota Congressman John Kline said state and local governments should have the final say over how to improve their schools.

    REP. JOHN KLINE, R-Minn.: It is time for the Congress, the House and the Senate to step up and do its job and write new law and get the administration out of the business of writing education policy.

    I would hope that Republicans and Democrats would recognize that it is not the role of the administration.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Democrats agreed on the need for education reform. But California's George Miller and others argued that the House bill simply guts federal funding for education.

    REP. GEORGE MILLER, D-Calif.: We need every one of those students to be able to be productive and successful and achieving. But that's not what the Republican bill promises. It grinds down the funding available to these school districts for poor and minority children, for students with disabilities.

    KWAME HOLMAN: The House bill is expected to hit a dead end in the Democratic-led Senate.

    Billionaire hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen now faces civil charges in connection with a major insider-trading case. The Securities and Exchange Commission charged him today with failing to prevent the illegal practice at his firm, SAC Capital Advisors. The company said the accusations have no merit. Wall

    Street ended the week on a subdued note. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than four points to close at 15,543. The Nasdaq fell 23 points to close at 3,587. For the week, the Dow gained half-a-percent; the Nasdaq fell 0.3 percent.

    Those are some of the day's major stories.


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    RAY SUAREZ: And we turn to the many questions about the potential consequences of having the city of Detroit file for bankruptcy.

    KEVYN ORR, Detroit emergency financial manager: We have to do this in some fashion, and bankruptcy will let us to achieve that in some way.

    RAY SUAREZ: Detroit's emergency financial manager, Kevyn Orr, was out today, defending the decision to file the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. With the city facing up to $20 billion in long-term debt, Orr and Mayor Dave Bing took the plunge on yesterday.

    MAYOR DAVE BING, D-Detroit, Mich.: As tough as this is, I really didn't want to go in this direction. But now that we are here, we have to make the best of it. This is very difficult for all of us, but if it's going to make the citizens better off, then this is a new start for us.

    RAY SUAREZ: It's all a far cry from Detroit's storied days as the Motor City. In the 1950s, the population topped 1.8 million, with workers lured by high-paying auto jobs. But by the 1960s, the big three, GM, Ford and Chrysler, began shifting factories to lower-cost cities and faced growing competition from Japan.

    The 1967 riots sent middle-class families rushing for the exits to ever-growing suburbs with better schools and lower crime rates. They left a city where property values and tax revenue steadily declined, as crime, decay and services worsened.

    By 2010, Detroit's population stood at just over 700,000.

    Kevyn Orr said it's long past time to do something.

    KEVYN ORR: They're citizens who don't deserve a 55-minute response time, who don't deserve endemic blight and crime, who don't deserve no hope and future and just continued debt over debt and debt and borrowing.

    RAY SUAREZ: The city's fiscal woes have been compounded by corruption run rampant under Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. He was convicted last March 11 of racketeering and other federal charges. Two days later, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declared an emergency and appointed Orr.

    The financial manager insisted yesterday the city bent over backward to work with creditors, but could not reach agreement. Still, the bankruptcy filing left residents frustrated.

    EVERETT COTTRELL, Detroit resident: Big old Detroit, they can't even handle they own business? That's sad.

    LELAND HARRISON, Detroit resident: They have had enough time to straighten it out, so I guess, as they say, if you can't handle it yourself, someone else will.

    RAY SUAREZ: Major creditors, pension boards and labor unions also grumbled.

    In Washington, Steve Kreisberg of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees put it this way.

    STEVE KREISBERG, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees: The loss of pensioning could be extremely devastating for a number of city workers in Detroit. It's simply a matter of what they have been counting on. It's their nest egg. It's really their life savings.

    RAY SUAREZ: Now, as the city waits, a protracted process begins in federal bankruptcy court. There is no immediate estimate on how long it will last.

    And we're joined by emergency manager Orr and Governor Snyder.

    Governor, you said today this is a debt that can be paid and will be paid. So what can bondholders and creditors expect?

    GOV. RICK SNYDER, R-Mich.: Well, part of this process is to address the $18 billion in liabilities.

    Detroit is broke. And so one of the benefits of bankruptcy -- and this was a very difficult decision to get to -- and we did everything possible to avoid it, but we're here now.

    So this gives the city an opportunity to present a plan to say how to adjust its debts, in terms of saying, let's treat people fairly in terms of their creditors, and give them a promise that they know will get paid, rather than having a promise that can't be paid.

    The second piece is, and very importantly, that I want to mention is it gives an opportunity to present a plan for better services to the citizens of Detroit. And that's absolutely needed. Response times for police in Detroit are 58 minutes. So in addition to just the liability question, which is a big issue on its own, we need to get better services to the citizens of Detroit.

    That's who I work for, plus the nine million people of Michigan. They deserve a better answer.

    RAY SUAREZ: Mr. Orr, you said there are no other opinions. Your annual budget is in structural deficit. Long-term debt is in the billions and you have been borrowing money to meet your budget. Was this bankruptcy inevitable?

    KEVYN ORR: Oh, I don't know if it was inevitable, Ray, but it certainly was a very difficult decision and apparent.

    When you have a $386 million operating deficit on a $1 billion general revenue budget, you can't sustain that. So, in some fashion, something had to be done. This is 60 years of deferred maintenance that's been coming our way. And we have to make a judgment call.

    RAY SUAREZ: You're talking about some really severe losses to those the city owes money. Could this have meant less pain to all the stakeholders if it had been done earlier?

    KEVYN ORR: Well, certainly, we have tried to stay away from retrospectives and wondering.

    But you can't delay these kinds of decisions and this kind of obligation and not expect it to just get worse. It just exacerbates, gets worse and worse and worse.

    And frankly that was in large part the reason that I made my request to the governor to give me the authority do so, and that the governor apparently agreed with my request that it was time to address this, because otherwise, Ray, it just gets worse.

    RAY SUAREZ: In recent months, were negotiations possible that might have restructured debt, reach some agreement, with creditors avoiding bankruptcy?

    KEVYN ORR: Well, we reached some agreements with some creditors, and those discussions are ongoing, in fact. And we hope to reach additional agreements with other creditors and stakeholders even in this process. There has to be a solution to where we are either consensually or through the court process. But we're hopeful that we can do that consensually.

    RAY SUAREZ: Governor, back to you. Will Detroit continue to weigh heavily on the finances of your state? This is not over for Michigan, is it?

    RICK SNYDER: Well, the way I view it as is, is Detroit is critically important to Michigan's future.

    Michigan is the comeback state right now, but Michigan is on a path to being a great state again. But to do that, we need to trade on the path of being a great city again. And this is a very important step in making that happen.

    To step back from simply the financial pieces of this, tremendously good things are going on in Detroit today, in terms of the business community, in terms of jobs being created in downtown and midtown Detroit, in terms of young people moving into the city.

    There's 90 percent-plus occupancy in the city. We need to look at improvements in the neighborhoods. Good things are going on there. This is about solving the city government's financial issues service issues. And that's the last obstacle to go.

    And, beyond that, when we get this resolved, I think Detroit is going to be poised for outstanding growth and a bright future, which is great for all of Michigan.

    RAY SUAREZ: You have got other distressed cities in your state and there are other distressed cities around the country. Are they watching the massive bankruptcy closely, and might it get heart harder for cities to borrow and will it drive up the cost of borrowing?

    RICK SNYDER: Yes. This is one of the questions.

    There's a lot of speculation on both sides of that question. But I would step back to say I was hired by the citizens of Michigan, including the 700,000-plus wonderful people in Detroit, to get a better answer for them.

    This can's been kicked down the street for years and years. Enough is enough. So, my focus is, is they deserve better services. And this is the way to do it. This is the way to address the debt question.

    This is the way to have Detroit grow, and that is an illustration that I hope the country can look to say, isn't it about time to see one of our great cities become great again?

    RAY SUAREZ: Mr. Orr, what will this bankruptcy mean for Detroiters? Are there some services that will simply have to go away or things that people were accustomed to that the city can just no longer afford?

    KEVYN ORR: No, actually, Ray, on the contrary.

    What Detroiters should expect is that services are going to get better. We're already focusing on lighting, blight, police services, health, safety and welfare concerns, and frankly bringing up the level of services for the 700,000 residents of the citizens -- of the city of Detroit to a level that should belie a city of this nature, a great and storied city.

    There has been so much deferred maintenance here, it's just time to get at it, Ray, and make it better for all of our citizens.

    RAY SUAREZ: But can you do that without selling off the family silver, without selling assets like the island and parks and the art collection?

    KEVYN ORR: Sure. Sure, the wedding china and grandmother's silver.

    No, we want to stay away from those concepts. I think we can fix the solution with the proposal we made on June 14.

    It addresses some of our legacy costs. It gives us an opportunity to have long-term initiatives over the next 10 years to address some of our blight, health, safety and welfare concerns.

    And that proposal was made without the necessity of looking into some of the assets of the city, if you will, that should remain for when this city is the great city that it is, and it will be even better in the years to come.

    RAY SUAREZ: Kevyn Orr is emergency financial manager of Detroit. Rick Snyder is governor of Michigan.

    Gentlemen, thank you. 


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    JEFFREY BROWN: And that brings us to the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields in his Boston Red Sox tie tonight...

    MARK SHIELDS: Absolutely.

    JEFFREY BROWN: ... and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Welcome to both of you.

    Let's go back to the top of the show, David. Start with the president's speech. What did you think of it?

    DAVID BROOKS: Great. I thought it was just great.

    It was what the president was elected to be in 2008. It was the guy who sees a lot of conflict in the country, a lot of different points of view, and is able to corral them all.

    And so he explained the context that -- the way a lot of African-Americans are responding to it. He explained realism for the way a lot of white Americans and other Americans are reacting to it.

    He brought it all together in one unified package. And then I thought he was extremely responsible of what government could actually do. He was restrained, he was responsible.

    He pointed some way down the road. And so I thought it was unifying. And when we think about Obama at his best, I think this is the sort of thing we think about. So, I just -- I just thought it was great.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Mark.

    MARK SHIELDS: The president has been criticized -- and not totally unfairly -- for being emotionally inaccessible, for being too buttoned-down, almost a remote figure at times, someone who doesn't enjoy politics.

    This was completely personal, I thought, and totally presidential at the time. He did acknowledge and address the fact that the response and reaction in the country has been more intense in the African-American community than in the country at large.

    And he explained that from his personal experience, I mean, of being followed at a department store, or watching a woman clutch her purse as he got on an elevator.

    I thought that the personal really worked in explaining that. But at the same time, he didn't paper over what the problems were.

    And I thought the way he addressed the question of stand your ground, I thought he made the case to me persuasively against that, and how it does raise the risks of confrontation, and particularly when he gave the example of what if an adult Trayvon Martin had been packing heat or carried...

    DAVID BROOKS: If I could just underline that, it's something you rarely have your mind changed in a second.

    But I was sort of ambivalent about stand your ground. I sort of admire the American ethos of protecting yourself, of strength and independence.

    But when I heard that couple sentences, I thought, oh, yes, that is a good point. And so you really -- at least myself, my mind turned a little on that issue.

    And just one element I should bring in there, because it was a very complex little symphony there, a bit of indignation. Suppose Trayvon Martin had been the white kid and Zimmerman had been the black guy. How would it have reacted? And so there was a hint of indignation and a hint of the law professor. There was a lot. All the different Obama pieces were weaved in there.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But it was a surprise, right?

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Are you surprised that he came out almost a week after the verdict and why do you think he did it?

    MARK SHIELDS: I think he was going to do it. And you have to know that there were people saying, well, let's not. And you could almost hear him saying, what's the point of being president if you can't do this?

    JEFFREY BROWN: People saying don't, you mean politically?

    MARK SHIELDS: Listen, we're working on immigration. You can hear the voices of caution.

    I didn't hear them, but I can imagine quite frankly what they were. This isn't -- what is the best forum, and shouldn't you do it? He did it without a teleprompter. That tells you how deep and personal and how much he had thought about this and how much it expressed both his thoughts and his convictions and his passion.

    But, no, I was -- the suggestion was that they had been waiting for him to be asked about it. But I thought this was a far more persuasive venue.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I had a chance to do a little reporting on this, and it was a solo decision. And I think it was made simply. It was made -- it was an instinctive decision. And maybe he should make a little more intuitive decisions.

    It was not the whole apparatus is involved. It was, I feel like doing this, and I'm going to do it, and even to the point they didn't tell the press corps that he was getting out there. And there was reaction, whoa, the guy is in the room here. And so it was a simple, personal decision.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Without political calculation, you mean?

    DAVID BROOKS: That's what I have -- that's the way I have been told and understand it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What about political consequences or continuing discussion of the kind that he talked about?

    MARK SHIELDS: I don't know if you can calculate that.

    I mean, I think the reaction to people who see that is indeed personal. I really do. And I guess if -- but I don't know where you can criticize the president on this.

    As someone who has been accused of being hypercritical about the president on occasion, I didn't think there was -- there wasn't a false note in the whole presentation.

    Maybe he shouldn't be -- he's never been the angry or emotional black man. I mean, you know, that has been part of his entire modus operandi all the way through at times when you would think he would have exploded, but the control was there.

    And this was so -- to me, it was authentic. It was authentic Obama. And I think it reminded a lot of people of the '07-'08, when he did captivate the imagination, as well as the affection of so many people, and perhaps that ardor has cooled in some precincts since.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I was curious what you think about this national conversation vs. the way he put it, because we have traumas every so often in this country and then we talk about having a national conversation. And he said, I'm not sure that's the way, but we need to have some kind of conversation.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    I'm with Turley on this one, Jonathan Turley earlier on in the program, that people aren't persuaded by politicians, and some sanctimonious conference in Washington is not really going to do anything. It's neighbor to neighbor. It's just interaction. It's interaction of people of different races. It's the normal friendships that happen.

    That's how change happens. You can't talk yourself into being a less racist person. You can't talk yourself into being a better person. It comes from action and from direct conduct. So, I think his instincts are pretty right on that one.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, let's move to our other big story of the day, which was the Detroit bankruptcy.

    Mark, your reaction to that?

    MARK SHIELDS: Reaction to it is, Detroit is a great American story.

    And I don't know if it's the postscript to or the preview of the de-industrialization of the grade Midwest of the United States. I mean, Detroit is not alone as one goes across covering presidential elections or national -- or congressional elections in these great -- these states.

    And I just think -- I just want to think about Detroit in this sense. We won World War II. We were the arsenal of democracy. Detroit was the arsenal of the United States, and Michigan really -- 75 percent of all the aircraft engines that were built for the Allies in World War II were built within Detroit and its environs, every -- every truck that brought troops and supplies to defeat Nazi Germany.

    It's just a remarkable story. And the Middle American working-class family, the American success story came from that Detroit and Michigan. So, I mean, I think it's a tragedy, the reality of it, all of the terrible economic reality, but it's not unique. It's not unique in the sense -- it's a terrible crisis, but it's not unique among American cities.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Do you put it in such large terms?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. It is an urban tragedy that's gone on for 60 years. It's an urban mistake in almost every facet.

    The production that Mark talks about was the beginning of the end. What is a city? A city is a combination of diverse economic zones and diverse economic sectors that are feeding off of each other. Detroit didn't have that. It had one basic industry.

    And when that industry ran into trouble, then Detroit had nothing else to feed off of. So you had a lack of economic diversity, a lack of creativity.

    You look at some of the other Midwestern cities that have done much better, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Chicago, some of the others, they immediately understood education was going to be the key, and they have done better, because they have more educational institutions.

    And it was urban tragedy Detroit in that zone. And then you look at some of the bad urban policies that were attempts at revival, fancy downtown office buildings, it's not about building -- that's not what you do. You build families. You give families a reason to build there and stay there.

    The crime, the education, it's just one thing after another, the corruption. And, then, finally, you can't give 50-year-old city employees a pension and expect to survive with those kind of promises.

    And so it's just one layer after another, and I hope they can turn it around, but it has been a long time coming.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Does it play into some national politics narrative or have some consequences that you see?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, we can't be a great country without great cities.

    And I don't know how a city goes into bankruptcy, I mean, 700,000 people. I mean, if it's a company or a corporation, you close it down, and lock down, turn off the lights. You can't do that when you have got 700,000 people with kids being raised and families.

    And we heard Governor Snyder, we heard Mr. Orr talking about a 58-minute response time for a 911 call. This is unacceptable. I mean, so, I hope it can be -- I hope we don't just regard this as some sort of a morality play and, oh, these dirty politicians did this. It is something significant, and it's something that it is not unique.

    It is a terrible crisis and it's a human tragedy, but it is not a unique American experience.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Although there are some elements of mismanagement that we have heard in this story unfolding in the years.

    DAVID BROOKS: Right.

    And the other thing that is common is the overpromising of pensions, whether it's Illinois, California.

    MARK SHIELDS: And Chicago.

    DAVID BROOKS: And Chicago. A lot of people did that too.

    MARK SHIELDS: It lost three -- ratings yesterday went down. So it is a problem.

    DAVID BROOKS: There is a possibility for rebound. You know, you never count out human beings, and Detroit has some advantages. It's got really cheap real estate and a work force, people who know how to work, history of that.

    It's got suburbs, some strength and creativity. And so, often, in capitalism, when you hit bottom, you have some perverse advantages, low costs, and people really desiring to turn around, do whatever it takes. And so there's an ebb and flow to this thing. And so it's not worth giving up.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Let's end on hope. Why not, right?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    MARK SHIELDS: Red Sox-Yankees.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Back to your...

    DAVID BROOKS: The tie has disturbed me the whole 12 minutes.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: I see that. The tie threw you from the beginning.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I don't wear a Mets tie. That would be bragging.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: David Brooks, Mark Shields, thanks very much.

    MARK SHIELDS: It would be admitting.

    (LAUGHTER)


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    RAY SUAREZ: Another look at politics now, in Virginia, where the state's race for governor is starting to heat up.

    The governor's race in Virginia this fall is being closely watched for what it says about the nation's shifting political landscape. For decades, the Old Dominion was solidly Republican, but Barack Obama carried it in 2008 and again last year. One year later, the governor's race is close.

    On the Democratic side, Terry McAuliffe, former chair of the Democratic National Committee. He helped run President Clinton's reelection effort in 1996 and Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful presidential run in 2008. McAuliffe first ran for governor in 2009, but lost the Democratic primary. Now he faces Republican State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The conservative favorite has led the push for new regulations on abortion clinics and filed a federal lawsuit against President Obama's health care law.

    His campaign for governor has been dogged by the trouble swirling around the current governor, Republican Bob McDonnell. He's under state and federal investigation for failing to disclose more than $145,000 in gifts from a campaign donor. Cuccinelli and McAuliffe face off tomorrow in their first debate in Hot Springs, Va.

    For more on the state of play in the governor's race, we're joined by two reporters, Ben Pershing of The Washington Post and Julian Walker of The Virginian-Pilot.

    Gentlemen, thank you both for joining us.

    Julian, this is a much coveted seat by both Republicans and Democrats. What is the state of play in the race today?

    JULIAN WALKER, The Virginian-Pilot: Right now , it is a pretty tight race.

    There have been three polls out this week, two of which have the Democrat in the race, Terry McAuliffe, up by four points, one of which has the Republican in the race, Ken Cuccinelli, up by six points. I think both campaigns would concede privately that they see this as a pretty tight race. It is one that is going to be expensive.

    It is one that has demonstrated that so far is pretty nasty, and I think we will see a lot more of that to come in the roughly four months before Election Day.

    RAY SUAREZ: Ben, do you agree? Are the candidates spending a lot of their time and money running each other down, instead of making a positive sale of themselves?

    BEN PERSHING, The Washington Post: I think certainly their campaigns are and also the state party apparatus on both sides.

    They're spending an awful lot of time trying to convince voters that the other candidates is unacceptable, not worthy of voting for. I think both candidates still have some work to do to convince voters that they should be governor, rather than just that the other guy shouldn't be.

    RAY SUAREZ: Julian, the party in power in the White House has often had some trouble winning the governor's race in Virginia in an off-year election because of the way the cycles line up.

    Did that give an advantage to Ken Cuccinelli, even though President Obama won last year in Virginia?

    JULIAN WALKER: Well, that has been the longstanding trend in Virginia, that the year after presidential election, the party that won the White House is not the party that wins the governorship in Virginia. It's the opposite party.

    By that trend alone, you would think that Ken Cuccinelli has an advantage. The electorate tends to be in off-year elections in Virginia more of an older, more conservative, more Republican-leaning electorate. Democrats certainly found that out the hard way in 2009.

    They insist that this time they have their troops, their ground forces motivated and they won't have the kind of drop-off that you saw between 2008 and 2009, for example, when in 2008 Virginia voter participation was 75 percent, in 2009, the last time we had a governor's election here, it was about 40 percent.

    RAY SUAREZ: Now, Ben, the incumbent Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, was one who had enjoyed both a national reputation and pretty high approval ratings in his home state. Are his recent troubles making things more difficult for his attorney general who is trying to succeed him?

    BEN PERSHING: Well, there are two answers to that.

    In terms of polls, so far we haven't seen a big hit on Cuccinelli because of McDonnell's troubles. But it certainly has affected the race simply in being a distraction. I think even Cuccinelli's own advisers will admit it's distracting when he gets asked almost every day about Bob McDonnell, about the scandal surrounding him, and about how the scandal itself also touches on Cuccinelli.

    They would rather be talking about the economy, about jobs, about anything other this scandal right now.

    RAY SUAREZ: There are recent developments, though, aren't there, Julian, in the connection between a large campaign donor, contributor, Star Scientific, and its CEO and Ken Cuccinelli, himself, the Republican campaign -- candidate for governor?

    JULIAN WALKER: Well, there have been a number of developments that have been reported across Virginia detailing the numerous gifts that both the governor and his family as well as Ken Cuccinelli has received from Jonnie Williams.

    The most recent developments came out on Thursday, when the Richard Commonwealth's attorney, which is the equivalent of a district attorney in Virginia, completed and released his report indicating that he didn't see any criminal wrongdoing or any violation of the law by the attorney general for his belated disclosures of some gifts from that donor Jonnie Williams.

    Also, the governor's office on Thursday released the results of an external audit done by a private attorney and former attorney general who has been hired to assist the governor's office during this controversy.

    And his audit reaffirmed what the governor had previously said in defense of himself and his administration, which is that Jonnie Williams nor any of his corporate interests had received any state benefits while Governor McDonnell's term has been ongoing.

    RAY SUAREZ: Isn't this the kind of thing that a rival campaign would jump into with both feet?

    Has Terry McAuliffe been restrained because of his own background as a big moneyman for Bill Clinton and some of the questions that have sometimes swirled around him?

    BEN PERSHING: I think that is one possibility.

    Republicans always respond to these criticisms by noting that McAuliffe had his own problems in the past, although many of them are older and less recent. And then the other issue that is complicated is that McAuliffe has actually embraced McDonnell in some ways, particularly on policy.

    McAuliffe made a big show of saying that he supported Bob McDonnell's major policy achievement, which was the big transportation bill in Virginia. And so in some ways, McAuliffe has embraced McDonnell and his legacy and his governing style.

    So, that might give McAuliffe some pause in attacking McDonnell directly. He sort of prefers to hang back and maybe let other people do that.

    RAY SUAREZ: Julian, the current United States senators from Virginia happen to be the last two Democratic governors of the state, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner. Are they of value to the Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe?

    JULIAN WALKER: Well, certainly, any time that you have a prominent member of your own party holding higher office, they're going to be key surrogates for you. Tim Kaine, for example, has already appeared at a kind of policy rollout, kickoff really that Terry McAuliffe did earlier this spring.

    Those folks are going to help. They also may help Terry McAuliffe in so much as they can present Terry McAuliffe as kind of heirs to their legacy.

    Successful candidates for governor in Virginia have been able to court successfully the business community, the kind of Main Street Chamber of Commerce folks. And typically in recent Virginia gubernatorial elections, you have seen the candidate that has been able to get those kind of prominent and influential business leaders and thought-makers on their sides, those tend to be the successful candidates.

    So if they can help McAuliffe make that case to that business community, that could be helpful.

    RAY SUAREZ: And, Ben, quickly before we go, this election will occur later this year. Is it closely watched in national politics? Will it set the table for 2014?

    BEN PERSHING: It certainly will in some ways because I think a lot of people see it as the only game in town.

    The only other governor's race this year is New Jersey, and I don't think anyone thinks that is as close. So, both parties are using Virginia as sort of a proving ground for strategies, for messages.

    Some of the staff in this race, you may see bounding up in the next presidential contest. So, if only because there's a vacuum everywhere else, I think a lot of eyes are turned on Virginia this year.

    RAY SUAREZ: Ben Pershing, Julian Walker, gentlemen, thank you both.

    BEN PERSHING: Thank you. 


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    JEFFREY BROWN: And, finally tonight: the waiting game in London for the royal baby, a first child for the duke and duchess of Cambridge.

    Tim Ewart of Independent Television News has the story.

    TIM EWART: This is South Wharf Road, London W2. Taxi drivers now have another name for it.

    MAN: Madness street. Crazy street.

    MAN: I have been here nine days. I feel as if I'm having the baby.

    TIM EWART: Nine days. Some camera crews have been here for more than three weeks, trapped in a world of gossip, speculation and rumor.

    The latest rumor: Kate would arrive here at the private Lindo wing to have her baby today.

    This is the moment everyone's waiting for, mother and child emerging as Diana did with the baby William in 1982. Among the assembled photographers then on the left here was Arthur Edwards -- 31 years on, he's back.

    ARTHUR EDWARDS, photographer: So, I have had my spot marked up since the 1st of July. It's incredible. I mean, no other baby in the world -- I mean, if Michelle Obama was -- expected a baby, would we be outside? No, we wouldn't.

    TIM EWART: We care, of course. It's media frenzy, but what about the general public? Are you on tenterhooks?

    Definitely not, says the man from the anti-monarchy group Republic.

    Aren't you being a bit like the sort of Grinch who spoiled Christmas?

    GRAHAM SMITH, Great Britain: No, not at all. I'm actually reflecting in -- on this occasion, I'm reflecting the majority, I think, because most people are getting on with their lives. I mean, I don't see people talking about it. I don't hear people talking about it.

    TIM EWART: Kate hasn't been seen in public since trooping the color last month. The only sighting at the Lindo wing, a look-alike in a newspaper stunt.

    There was no real news, as another day went by down on crazy street.


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    Helen Thomas questions President Ronald Reagan during a press conference at the White House March 19, 1987. Thomas died Saturday at age 92. Don Rypka/AFP/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON -- Covering 10 presidents over five decades, Helen Thomas aged into a legend. She was the only reporter with her name inscribed on a chair in the White House briefing room -- her own front row seat to history.

    Starting as a copy girl in 1943, when women were considered unfit for serious reporting, Thomas rose to bureau chief.

    Working at a news service, where writers expect obscurity, she became one of journalism's most recognized faces. Thomas embraced her role as a Washington institution, doing cameos in movies, giving lectures, writing books about her life until the spotlight landed on inflammatory remarks she made about Israel.

    The uproar pushed her out of the White House press room at age 89.

    Thomas, 92, died surrounded by family and friends at her Washington apartment on Saturday, the family said in a statement. A friend, Muriel Dobbin, told The Associated Press that Thomas had been ill for a long time, and in and out of the hospital before coming home Thursday.

    Thomas made her name as a bulldog for United Press International in the great wire-service rivalries of old, and as a pioneer for women in journalism.

    She was persistent to the point of badgering. One White House press secretary described her questioning as "torture" -- and he was one of her fans.

    In her later years, her refusal to conceal her strong opinions, even when posing questions to a president, and her public hostility toward Israel caused discomfort among colleagues.

    In 2010, that tendency ended her storied career at the White House. She told a rabbi making a video that Israeli Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Germany, Poland or the United States. The video circulated on the Internet and brought widespread condemnation of Thomas, forcing her to quit her job as a Hearst columnist.

    Months later, in January 2011, she started a column for a free weekly paper in a Washington suburb.

    In her long career, Thomas was indelibly associated with the ritual ending White House news conferences. She was often the one to deliver the closing line: "Thank you, Mister President" -- four polite words that belied a fierce competitive streak.

    Her disdain for White House secrecy and dodging spanned five decades, back to President John Kennedy. Her freedom to voice her peppery opinions as a speaker and a Hearst columnist came late in her career.

    After she quit UPI in 2000 -- by then an outsized figure in a shrunken organization -- her influence waned. The Bush administration marginalized her, clearly peeved with a journalist who had challenged President George W. Bush to his face on the Iraq war and declared him the worst president in history.

    Thomas was accustomed to getting under the skin of presidents, if not to getting the cold shoulder.

    "If you want to be loved," she said years earlier, "go into something else."

    There was a lighter mood in August 2009, on her 89th birthday, when President Barack Obama popped into in the White House briefing room unannounced. He led the roomful of reporters in singing "Happy Birthday to You" and gave her cupcakes. As it happened, it was the president's birthday too, his 48th.

    Thomas was at the forefront of women's achievements in journalism. She was one of the first female reporters to break out of the White House "women's beat" -- the soft stories about presidents' kids, wives, their teas and their hairdos -- and cover the hard news on an equal footing with men.

    She became the first female White House bureau chief for a wire service when UPI named her to the position in 1974. She was also the first female officer at the National Press Club, where women had once been barred as members and she had to fight for admission into the 1959 luncheon speech where Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev warned: "We will bury you."

    The belligerent Khrushchev was an unlikely ally in one sense. He had refused to speak at any Washington venue that excluded women, she said.

    Thomas fought, too, for a more open presidency, resisting all moves by a succession of administrations to restrict press access.

    "People will never know how hard it is to get information," Thomas told an interviewer, "especially if it's locked up behind official doors where, if politicians had their way, they'd stamp TOP SECRET on the color of the walls."

    Born in Winchester, Ky., to Lebanese immigrants, Thomas was the seventh of nine children. Her family moved to Detroit, and it was in high school there, after working on the student newspaper, that she decided she wanted to become a reporter.

    After graduating from Detroit's Wayne University (now Wayne State University), Thomas headed straight for the nation's capital. She landed a $17.50-a-week position as a copy girl, with duties that included fetching coffee and doughnuts for editors at the Washington Daily News.

    United Press, later United Press International, soon hired her to write local news stories for the radio wire. Her assignments were relegated at first to women's news, society items and celebrity profiles.

    Her big break came after the 1960 election that sent Kennedy to the White House, and landed Thomas her first assignment related to the presidency. She was sent to Palm Beach, Fla., to cover the vacation of the president-elect and his family.

    JFK's successor, Lyndon Johnson, complained that he learned of his daughter Luci's engagement from Thomas's story.

    Bigger and better assignments would follow for Thomas, among them President Richard M. Nixon's breakthrough trip to China in 1972.

    When the Watergate scandal began consuming Nixon's presidency, Martha Mitchell, the notoriously unguarded wife of the attorney general, would call Thomas late at night to unload her frustrations at what she saw as the betrayal of her husband John by the president's men.

    It was also during the Nixon administration that the woman who scooped so many others was herself scooped -- by the first lady. Pat Nixon was the one who announced to the Washington press corps that Thomas was engaged to Douglas Cornell, chief White House correspondent for UPI's archrival, The Associated Press.

    They were married in 1971. Cornell died 11 years later.

    Thomas stayed with UPI for 57 years, until 2000, when the company was purchased by News World Communications, which was founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church.

    At age 79, Thomas was soon hired as a Washington-based columnist for newspaper publisher Hearst Corp. No longer a straight news reporter, she was freer to spout her opinions, but allowed to keep her front-and-center seat in the briefing room in deference to her long service. Hers was the only chair inscribed with the name of a reporter, instead of news organization.

    "What made Helen the 'dean of the White House press corps' was not just the length of her tenure, but her fierce belief that our democracy works best when we ask tough questions and hold our leaders to account," Obama, the last president she covered, said in a statement.

    A self-described liberal, Thomas made no secret of her ill feelings for George W. Bush, a Republican. "He is the worst president in all of American history," she told the Daily Breeze of Torrance, Calif.

    Thomas also was critical of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, asserting that the deaths of innocent people should hang heavily on Bush's conscience.

    "We are involved in a war that is becoming more dubious every day," she said in a speech to thousands of students at Brigham Young University in September 2003. "I thought it was wrong to invade a country without any provocation."

    Some students walked out of the lecture. She won over others with humorous stories from her "ringside seat" to history.

    In March 2006, she confronted Bush with the proposition that "your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis" and that every justification for the attack proved false.

    "Why did you really want to go to war?" she demanded. When Bush began explaining his rationale, she interjected: "They didn't do anything to you, or to our country."

    Her strong opinions finally ended her career.

    After a visit to the White House, David Nesenoff, a rabbi and independent filmmaker, asked Thomas in May 2010 whether she had any comments on Israel.

    "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine," she replied. "Remember, these people are occupied and it's their land. It's not Germany, it's not Poland," she continued. Asked where they should go, she answered, "They should go home." When asked where's home, Thomas replied: "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else."

    White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called them "offensive and reprehensible." In a rare admonishment, the White House Correspondents Association said her words were "indefensible." Many Jews were outraged by her suggestion that Israelis should "go home" to Germany, Poland and America because Israel was settled in 1948 by Jews who had survived or escaped Hitler's attempt to kill all the Jews in Germany and neighboring conquered countries.

    Within days, she retired from her job at Hearst -- and from her famous seat in the White House briefing room.

    Not long after, Nicholas F. Benton, the owner and editor of the Falls Church, Va., News-Press approached her about writing again. Benton, who had published Thomas' column for years when she was syndicated, said Thomas was initially dubious about continuing to write for the free weekly paper, which at the time had a circulation around 25,000.

    "She said, 'You don't want me. I'm poison," he said in a telephone interview Saturday.

    He responded that he could handle any criticism, and her column started running in January 2011. She continued to write about national issues, from Social Security to the State of the Union address and the capital gains tax, which she blamed for creating "a bigger divide between the haves and the have-nots, leaving not much of a middle class in America."

    Benton said he received more positive letters than negative ones by "quite a wide margin," adding that she continued to be "sharp as a tack." She wrote for the paper for a year, until her health prevented her from continuing.

    Thomas is survived by three sisters, and many nieces, nephews and cousins, according to her family.

    "We will always remember her for the passionate way she sought the truth, for her overwhelming love and generosity, and for her unfaltering faith in mankind," her family said in a statement.

    Thomas is to be buried in Detroit, "the beloved city of her youth," the family said. A memorial service in Washington is planned for October, according Charles J. Lewis, senior editor and former Washington bureau chief for Hearst News Service.

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    President Obama speaks about Trayvon Martin and race in the United States on Friday in this televised image.

    The Morning LineAs he spoke Friday, President Barack Obama laid out in personal terms his views of race relations in American society, the progress that has been made, and the work still left to do.

    But the nation's first black president dismissed the idea that the challenges still facing the country could be resolved by launching a national conversation about race, which he predicted would "end up being stilted and politicized," with both sides refusing to move away from their entrenched positions.

    Mr. Obama called for a different approach: "On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there's the possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can? Am I judging people as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy," he said.

    By speaking out in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict, and saying that Trayvon Martin could have been him 35 years ago, the president served as the spark for a new round of dialogue about race in the country. That dialogue started with commentators weighing in on his speech.

    Talk-show host Tavis Smiley, who earlier commented that the president's comments were as weak as "pre-sweetened Kool-Aid," followed up his criticism during appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."

    "On this issue, you cannot lead from behind. What's lacking in this moment is moral leadership," Smiley said. "The country is begging for it, the are craving it. And I disagree with the president respectfully that politicians, elected officials, can't occupy this space on race. Lincoln did, Truman did, Johnson did, President Obama did. He's the right person in the right place at the right time, but he has to step into his moment."

    The National Urban League's Marc Morial responded that the duty for moving the conversation forward must not fall entirely on the president's shoulders.

    "It was great to step to the podium to be in that moment, but then it's not so much leading but continuing to inspire the conversation so that it doesn't die on the vine, that it does get life of its own, because this is a conversation, quite honestly, folks, we need to have first," Morial said on NBC.

    The president's remarks also drew praise from Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain.

    "I think that recent events have obviously highlighted the differences that remain. What I got out of the president's statement, which I thought was very impressive, is that we need to have more conversation in America," McCain said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

    McCain also suggested that "Stand your Ground" laws in Florida and other states "may be something that needs to be reviewed."

    Friday was not the first time the American people have heard Mr. Obama speak about race, but the personal framing for his comments stood apart from previous speeches, such as his address during the 2008 presidential campaign when he came under intense scrutiny over inflammatory statements made by his former pastor.

    The Washington Post's Dan Balz noted the different approaches taken by Mr. Obama in his Sunday analysis piece:

    The president was slower to speak in the wake of the verdict in the Zimmerman trial last weekend. He issued a written statement but otherwise remained silent as the rest of the country engaged in a sometimes stormy debate about whether the man who killed Martin should have gone free.

    Only the president and perhaps the first lady know the full story of how he came to do and say what he did Friday. He told advisers Thursday that he wanted to speak out but that he did not want to give a formal speech, as he had in 2008. He chose a setting that was understated in the extreme -- a surprise appearance before unsuspecting reporters on a Friday afternoon.

    Obama faced a personal political crisis when he spoke about Wright. That was not the case Friday. But his comments were far more personal than those he made in 2008. Equally important, his words were not an effort to balance the scales or to give equal weight to the views of those who believe the jury was correct to declare Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter and those outraged by the verdict.

    He barely mentioned George Zimmerman. He said he would let legal analysts and talking heads deal with the particulars of the case. Instead, his comments were all about Trayvon Martin and the black experience in America. "I think it's important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away," he said.

    Watch Mr. Obama's remarks here:

    Watch Video

    And Jeffrey Brown walked through reactions to the speech Friday with Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School, Carol Swain of Vanderbilt University, Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. and presidential historian Michael Beschloss:

    Watch Video

    LINE ITEMS

    Mr. Obama will travel to Illinois and Missouri next week to highlight the economy and a number of his policy proposals. "The president thinks Washington has largely taken its eye off the ball. Instead of talking about how to help the middle class, too many in Congress are trying to score political points, re-fight old battles and trump up phony scandals," adviser Dan Pfeiffer told the New York Times.

    Helen Thomas, who covered 12 presidents as the first female reporter in the White House press corps, died Saturday. She was 92.

    Politico's Jake Sherman and Seung Min Kim take the pulse of Republicans on the currently stalled immigration reform proposals.

    Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul shared sushi and similar itineraries on a recent trip to Iowa as their political rivalry for the 2016 presidential race grows, writes Robert Costa for National Journal.

    Former vice president and Academy Award winner Al Gore endorsed appointed Sen. Brian Schatz to keep his seat in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by the late Daniel Inouye. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will challenge Schatz.

    A New York House race could be one of the most interesting of 2014, says Katrina Trinko of National Journal. It could mean the Republican incumbent, Rep. Chris Gibson, will face "liberal darling" Sean Eldridge, whose husband, Chris Hughes, co-founded Facebook and publishes the New Republic.

    Retirees who worked for the city of Detroit as staff, firefighters and police are on edge about their pensions and health benefits as the city progresses through bankruptcy. The city's leaders appeared on multiple Sunday talk shows this weekend, the Detroit News reports.

    Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia's attorney general, met for their first debate Saturday. The two Virginia gubernatorial candidates traded personal attacks and sparred over policy differences.

    You can watch the full debate, moderated by the PBS NewsHour's Judy Woodruff, here:

    Video streaming by Ustream

    And the Charlottesville Daily Progress reports that despite the donations scandal enveloping the governor's office, current Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell faces little pressure to resign.

    The Republican National Committee raised $8 million in June, an increase from the same time last year. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee paid off its debt from the 2012 election.

    Presidential campaign statistician Nate Silver is leaving the New York Times for ESPN. The former baseball sabermetrician also will contribute to ABC News during major political elections.

    Slate Magazine reviews New York City mayoral candidate Christine Quinn's memoir, With Patience and Fortitude, with the critique that it spends large chunk of time describing her wedding planning.

    Evan McMorris-Santoro of Buzzfeed digs into the culture of unpaid interns in Washington and even inside the White House.

    NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

    Mark Shields and David Brooks both gave thumbs up to Mr. Obama's speech on race Friday. They also assessed the politics of the Detroit bankruptcy. Watch the segment below: Watch Video

    TOP TWEETS

    Happy Birthday to @newshour deputy political editor @burlij, who prefers the Founding Fathers to monarchs

    — Katelyn Polantz (@kpolantz) July 22, 2013

    For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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

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

    Follow the politics team on Twitter:

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    Students in Ghana listen to a Talking Book. All photos courtesy of Literacy Bridge.

    On a warm spring evening in 2006, software consultant Cliff Schmidt decided to take a walk near the hotel where he was staying for a conference in Atlanta, not yet knowing that what he would stumble upon would alter his life's path.

    Schmidt, who had previously worked at Microsoft and served in the Navy as nuclear engineer, wandered into an unfamiliar neighborhood. He found himself at the national historic site where Martin Luther King Jr. is buried.

    Schmidt paused before Coretta King's grave and then stepped in front of Dr. King's. "That was the moment. It was BAM!" recounted Schmidt. "In an instant, I had this feeling that if he could speak to me he would say, 'You should be doing something more with your life.' I walked way and had no idea what I would do next, but I had no doubt it would be different."

    Cliff returned to his home in Seattle and began to read everything he could about global poverty. With a background in technology, he was drawn to the international nonprofit One Laptop Per Child which provides rugged, low-cost laptops to children in low-income countries. But he soon started to wonder whether there might be a need for even more low-cost, low-tech devices to spread knowledge in poor areas of the world.

    Schmidt (on right) in Ghana.

    During a volunteer trip to Ghana, Schmidt brought along a few "gadgets" to share with the people he met. "I started thinking about greeting cards that play audio tunes," said Schmidt. "I wondered, 'What's the markup on that? Maybe $1?' I brought some of those to Ghana. And I also brought digital audio recorders, and children's audio learning books to see what worked. I was paying attention to what was working and not working."

    Schmidt said he initially considered developing an audio device that would help illiterate people learn to read and improve their vocabulary. But after meeting with a number of agricultural and health officials in Ghana, he saw a different need. They told Schmidt they could use a way to better communicate important messages to villagers, like how to improve agricultural yields and prevent diarrhea in children.

    Schmidt recalled what the officials told him; "We give them information but we can't get to them more than once a year. You can't take notes when you are illiterate. Wouldn't it be great to capture the information we're trying to share."

    A woman records a message.

    So in 2007, at the age of 36, Schmidt launched the nonprofit Literacy Bridge, and with the help of a team of technical, engineering, and financial supporters, he developed the Talking Book. It's a handheld, battery powered, audio playback and recording device -- basically a mini computer -- which is engineered to withstand harsh environments.

    Users follow simple audio prompts to listen to recorded messages from local experts on agricultural and health topics. Information is recorded in native dialects. Users, with no prior experience using technology, also can record their own messages on the device and connect two Talking Books together to transfer recordings. The target user: individuals with minimal or no literacy skills, living in rural areas without electricity or Internet access.

    Watch Schmidt operate a Talking Book.

    Schmidt says he began selling Talking Books to large NGOs in 18 countries. But he soon realized that the communities where the devices were introduced by other organizations, villagers often were left to figure it out on their own, and they weren't benefiting from the technology. "I realized that what Literacy Bridge needs to offer is not a product, but a full solution," explained Schmidt. "If you really want to affect change, you can't just depend on technology."

    Schmidt decided to refocus his efforts on the country which first inspired him to create the Talking Book -- Ghana. Working with the country's Ministry of Health and Agriculture to record important content, Literacy Bridge is now providing Talking Books to 13,000 people in the northwest region of country, Schmidt said.

    A Literacy Bridge representative demonstrates the Talking Book.

    When the devices are introduced in a new community, Literacy Bridge staff spend time to ensure villagers understand how to use them. And they return every few weeks to monitor how Talking Books are being used.

    Schmidt stressed that supplying the device isn't a one-way street; every six weeks, staff get feedback from the devices about what people are listening to, which recordings are the most popular, and how far users get through the recordings. Songs about health are particularly popular. Some of the recordings inform users about the kinds of seeds to use, and the best agricultural practices to follow during certain times of the year.

    During a trip to Ghana last November, Schmidt participated in a celebration for National Farmer's Day. "I talked with a farmer who was 26 years old," recounted Schmidt. "He harvested 15 bags of peanuts in 2011. Last year, he harvested 28 bags. He said that was just from information he got from the Talking Book."

    That farmer won a prize for being the best peanut farmer in his district, which included nearly 100 villages. And it just so happened that the farmer's wife was seven months pregnant when she got ahold of a Talking Book. She listened to a health recording that stressed the importance of breastfeeding exclusively during the first six months and delivering in a hospital. She told Schmidt that she followed the advice from the device. "That, for me, was personally very rewarding," said Schmidt.

    Kentaro Toyama is a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies the intersection of technology and development work, and serves on the Literacy Bridge advisory board. Toyama said technology can indeed help, but it is not the most critical component of development work; human relationships are.

    "Young people between the ages of 15 to 30 cannot stay away from technology," said Toyama. "There's something about the human psyche, especially at that age, that is excited about technology. But there's also sometimes resistance. Older people, even if they aren't fundamentally against it, can be worried that they'll break it. Or they don't feel they have the education to meaningfully engage with it. And many have seen other NGO programs come and go with little impact. That's why human engagement is so critical."

    Residents try out the Talking Book.

    The Talking Book is manufactured in China for about $25 apiece, but Schmidt hopes to get the cost down to $12 next year when he plans to ramp up production. He currently receives funding from private individuals, and computer chip manufacturing companies.

    Schmidt said he hopes to reach 100,000 people in Ghana by 2015 ... a goal Martin Luther King Jr. would undoubtedly have found worthy.

    The NewsHour's Agents for Change series highlights individuals helping communities solve problems, build businesses and create jobs.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Syrian rebels continued to wage a new northern offensive today, warning civilians off a road that serves as a crucial supply route for regime forces.

    Here in the United States, officials reconsidered their options for how to support the rebels against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    JAY CARNEY, White House press secretary: I have no crystal ball here to predict when Assad will go.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: At the White House today, press secretary Jay Carney reaffirmed the administration's position that the Syrian president is on his way out and that President Obama will continue to support the opposition.

    JAY CARNEY: The president's commitment will continue. And he believes we need to continue to step up our assistance because of the imperative that Assad not be allowed to essentially murder an entire nation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Talk of stepped-up assistance came after the release of a letter written by Gen. Martin Dempsey, America's highest-ranking military officer, outlining the Pentagon's options for going beyond humanitarian aid.

    Addressed to Senate Armed Services chair Carl Levin, it listed five options: training, assisting and advising the opposition forces, conducting limited air and missile strikes against Assad targets, establishing and enforcing a no-fly zone, using air and ground forces to set up buffer zones to protect the borders of Turkey and Jordan, and using a combination of special operations forces and ground forces to take control of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles.

    Dempsey wrote that these operations could involve thousands of U.S. troops, cost billions of dollars and the use of force would constitute -- quote -- "no less than an act of war." And he warned, "Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid."

    The discussion of U.S. options comes as the Syrian conflict enters its third year, with more than 93,000 people already dead and millions of refugees displaced in and around Syria. Opposition forces have lost ground over the past six months and some have wondered whether lethal support may be too late in coming.

    Even so, The Washington Post reported today that the House and Senate Intelligence Committees last week approved Obama administration plans to ship weapons to the rebels through the CIA. According to reports, those arms could begin to flow to Syrian rebels in the next few weeks.

    For more on possible U.S. military intervention in Syria, I'm joined by Jeffrey White, a former senior analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and John Mearsheimer, a West Point graduate and former Air Force officer, now a professor at the University of Chicago.

    And we thank you both, gentlemen, for being with us.

    Jeffrey White, to you first. Do you get a sense from reading this letter sent by Gen. Dempsey of what the Obama administration is likely to do?

    JEFFREY WHITE, Washington Institute for Near East Policy: I think we're going to see a small-scale commitment of military resources to support the rebels, nothing large, nothing too lethal, small arms and ammunition, maybe not even anti-tank weapons.

    My sense is that is a -- you know, a slow movement towards a potentially greater commitment, but nothing really dramatic in the way of arms.

     

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Small arms and ammunition. And, in fact, this Washington Post story we just referenced, John Mearsheimer, says that that's already what's been approved. What more do you see the administration prepared to do?

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER, University of Chicago: I don't think the administration is prepared to do anything else.

    It's very clear from Gen. Dempsey's letter that the Pentagon is opposed to upping the ante in Syria. And it's very clear from the way President Obama has been dragging his feet that he has no interest in intervening in Syria either.

    And I think this is the smart policy. We have no strategic interest in what happens in Syria. It is not a vital national interest that is at stake here. And, furthermore, when you look at the different strategies that we might employ to try to fix this problem, it's quite clear that none of them work. And most of them will just make a bad situation even worse.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Jeffrey White, how do you read these five recommendations from Gen. Dempsey, I mean, ranging from very light assistance, just advising and training the rebels, all the way to going in with ground forces and securing the chemical weapons?

    JEFFREY WHITE: Well, I think he covered, you know, what is pretty much acknowledged as the spectrum of available options.

    There are some nuances to some of the things he talked about that might be worth exploring. But, basically, he laid out what it is that people have been talking about for over a year now.

    I think he stressed the downside here, the downside risks and the costs. He definitely put a negative spin on what U.S. intervention could look like, the risks, the costs, the uncertainties involved in intervention.

    So he definitely gave it a, you know, we would rather not do this kind of a spin on it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, do you think, based on what you know, the administration is any closer to making a decision, beyond these light arms that we have been talking about?

    JEFFREY WHITE: I don't think so. I think that they're very reluctant to go with any significant military effort in Syria. That's been the case for a long time. And I don't think that has changed dramatically.

    What we see is a reluctant willingness in the face of a lot of pressure to make a minimal commitment.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: John Mearsheimer, you said you think the administration doesn't want to get involved, based on what you read here, but do you learn any more from looking at this at what they may be weighing?

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER: Well, I think that the administration has weighed all the options.

    You would expect the administration to weigh all the options. And when they have looked carefully at each one of them, it's become manifestly apparent that none of them can fix the problem. I think this is a situation where, if we had a magic bullet or we had a magic formula, the administration would probably go in and try to fix the problem. This is how we ended up going into Iraq.

    Most people thought that we could go into Iraq, win a quick and decisive victory and get out quickly. But that proved to be wrong. And if you look at our track record over the past 12 years in Iraq and Libya and in Afghanistan and even in Egypt, it's hard to believe that anybody would think at this point in time that we could go in and fix the problem in Syria, which is at least as messy as those four other countries, if not messier.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Jeffrey White, what do you think the administration should be doing? What should the United States be doing?

    JEFFREY WHITE: Sure.

    I think we should be doing more. I have been an advocate of, you know, serious intervention for over a year. I think we do have strategic interests at stake in Syria. It's a huge country in the middle of the Middle East. There's an enormous humanitarian problem under way there. We see it's become the playground for Hezbollah and Iran and other forces (INAUDIBLE) to the United States.

    So we do have interests there. And we do have capabilities. To fix the problem in Syria, I think, puts too high a standard on what can be accomplished. But we can do things to change the trajectory of the war.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Like what? I mean, be specific. What could be done? What should be done?

    JEFFREY WHITE: At the low end is robust indirect military intervention in support of the rebels. That means arms, significant arms. That means training, intelligence, cooperation and help in getting them to articulate and implement a military strategy for the war, which they have yet to do that.

    And if necessary, it means direct U.S. military action, hopefully with our allies and so on.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Troops on the ground?

    JEFFREY WHITE: Not necessarily troops on the ground, but we have the capability to strike effectively at the major military assets of the regime, artillery, armor, missiles, aircraft.

    We could do a lot to change the regime's capabilities from the outside of the country with weapons fired from offshore or by flying over the country itself.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: John Mearsheimer, is that a plan that makes sense to you?

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER: No.

    And I want to make two points. First of all, there's no question, as Gen. Dempsey makes clear in his letter, that we have the military capability to shift the balance of power and topple Assad. There's no question about that. But we cannot go in with a light footprint.

    We would have to go in with a lot of military force, because Assad is backed by Iran, the Russians and Hezbollah. He has a lot of cards to play. And he will be tough to take down. So, we would have to go in, in a big way. That's point number one.

    Point number two is toppling him is the easy part. The hard part comes when we have to put the country together and create a stable system so that we can get out. This is exactly the problem that we faced in Iraq. There wasn't much difficulty knocking off Saddam Hussein. The military part of the story is the easy part.

    What comes afterwards, the political problem, that's when the trouble starts. And when you look at a country like Syria and you see the centrifugal forces at play in that country, you see how badly fractured the opposition groups are, it's hard to see how this story has a happy ending.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Jeffrey White, what about this argument that it's one thing, it's doable to topple Assad militarily, but after it gets much more complicated?

    JEFFREY WHITE: Sure. It's messy. Syria is an incredibly complex, difficult problem to analyze, to fix, to do anything about.

    I acknowledge all of those things. But here's the other side of that story is, if we don't do anything, what are we going to get?

    If we don't get ourselves involved, we're going to get a situation where the regime either fights on against the rebels for a long time, as more people die and more disruption, more Iranian influence, more Hezbollah influence, or we're going to get a regime victory.

    And does anyone in their right mind want a regime victory in this situation, a regime that's killed upwards of 100,000 people, which is supported by the enemies of the United States? Is that what we want? If there isn't effective intervention on the side of the rebels, that's very likely what we're going to get.

    The regime is winning right now. That needs to be changed. And U.S. intervention could do that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right. We are going to need to leave it there.

    Two -- all right, Mr. John Mearsheimer, a very quick response.

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER: We lived with the Assad regime for 43 years. So there's no reason we couldn't live with the Assad regime for another 43 years. The idea that it's a strategic threat to the United States, I do not believe is a serious argument.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right. We will leave it there.

    John Mearsheimer, Jeffrey White, we thank you both.


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    An estimated 120,000 people have viewed the giant "corpse flower" since it bloomed Sunday at the U.S. Botanic Garden. Photo by Justin Scuiletti.

    WASHINGTON -- After stubbornly staying closed days longer than expected, the U.S. Botanic Garden's great titan arum flower finally unfurled its leaves into a spectacular burgundy bloom on Sunday, releasing a corresponding spectacular odor. And by Tuesday, less than 40 hours after it opened, it was already cowering, wilting and poised to collapse onto itself.

    The death of the flower, often called the "corpse flower" or "stinky plant," is arguably as interesting as its bloom. First the petals, or "spathe" retreat inward. Then the spadix, the phallic looking thing pointing upward like a vertical loaf of bread keels over. Then, total collapse.

    "It's bittersweet," Ari Novy, a plant scientist and spokesman for the garden. "But a large part of the public interest I think is the awareness of that ephemeral nature."

    By Tuesday, people were already mourning that they had missed the grandeur of Monday's spectacle and bloom.

    Washington resident Judi Carmichael visited the Botanic Gardens every day last week and sat on the same bench, watching the veins on the plant protrude more, she said, waiting for the flower to unfurl. "And she wouldn't open," she said.

    Until Monday, the one day she was unable to visit. "She's so temperamental," Carmichael lamented. "The typical woman."

    By Tuesday, many viewers were expressing disappointment -- that they'd missed the full bloom, that they couldn't smell it, that it was already, only two days after the big announcement, dying.

    But some overlooked the wilt to embrace the flower.

    "I think it's so beautifully sculpted," said Aubrey Williams of Arlington, Va. "The smell, the size, the color, the fact that it comes from the deep forest of Sumatra. It's magnificent."

    Those who had see it in full bloom described the smell, which has been compared to dirty gym socks, a box of dead rabbits, skunk cabbage and "a very dead elephant."

    Novy, for example, had clearly taken time to consider the odor.

    "To me, it smelled like a dead deer in a humid environment like the Florida Everglades next to a pile of teenager's dirty laundry," he said. "It's a weird, funny mix of dead-animal smell and moldy, damp fabric."

    The roots of the titan arum, native to the tropical rainforests of Sumatra, spring from a massive underground stem called a "corm," which looks kind of like a giant potato. Most years, the plant produces a leaf that resembles a canopy of many leaves, which are actually called leaflets. That leaf lasts anywhere from 12 to 18 months and then goes into a dormant stage. But occasionally, and seemingly arbitrarily, it produces a flower. There's no rhyme or reason to when that flower will bloom and it can open up anywhere from every few years to every few decades.

    When it does bloom, it emits chemicals into the air -- that's the source of the rotting odor -- and the spadix heats up to more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat and smell attracts insects, like dung and carrion beetles and flies. And here's the trick. Some of those insects repollinate the plant by carrying pollen from another titan arum, which allows the cycle to repeat itself.

    This particular titan arum, which stretches eight feet in height and weighs as much as 80 pounds, was the size of a lima bean when it arrived at the facility in 2005. It was carefully cultivated by a man named Elliot Norman, who monitored the soil, temperature and humidity and kept it watered and fed.

    "There are a handful of people throughout the world who have learned how to steward these plants, and they use different techniques, some of them from intuition," Novy said. "These people know how to read plants and soil. It's a science, but it's an art too."

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    KWAME HOLMAN: In Washington, House tea party conservatives and liberal Democrats pushed to bar funding for any arms for Syria's rebels unless Congress approves. It's one of several proposed amendments to a defense spending bill now under debate. The same coalition also wants to rescind the National Security Agency's power for blanket collection of data and restrict the agency's phone surveillance program. A final vote on the legislation is expected late this evening.

    In Egypt, fresh street clashes killed at least nine people near the main campus of Cairo University. The latest violence between supporters and opponents of ousted leader Mohammed Morsi broke out before dawn at the site of a Muslim Brotherhood sit-in. Police said hundreds of Morsi supporters battled with local residents. The confrontations left smashed glass and a dozen charred cars. More than 30 people were wounded.

    Al-Qaida claimed responsibility today for the recent raids on two high-security prisons near Baghdad. Iraqi officials say about 500 inmates escaped, including some top al-Qaida militants. Today, the areas around the prisons were locked down as police searched for escapees.

    A suicide bombing in Eastern Afghanistan today killed three NATO soldiers and their interpreter. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in Wardak province. The nationalities of the service members were not immediately released.

    Pope Francis rested and held private meetings during his first full day in Brazil, after an event-filled arrival yesterday. Last evening, throngs of people surrounded the pope's car when he made a wrong turn, straight into Rio de Janeiro traffic. The pontiff greeted supporters through the car window as bodyguards pushed back the crowd. Vatican officials insisted there were no concerns for the pope's safety.

    Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said today he's repaid more than $124,000 in loans he and his family received from a major political donor. In a statement, McDonnell maintained the loans broke no laws, but he apologized for embarrassing the state of Virginia. Federal and state authorities are looking into thousands of dollars in gifts given to the governor's family since 2010.

    New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner apologized today for sending explicit photos and texts to a woman he met online. The gossip site The Dirty posted their correspondence online Monday. The newly revealed incidents took place more than a year after Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011 for similarly lewd behavior involving half-a-dozen women. Weiner said he plans to remain in the mayoral race.

    In economic news, stocks were mixed on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average posted a new closing high, gaining 22 points to close above 15,567. The Nasdaq fell 21 points to close at 3,579.

    Former boxing champion Emile Griffith died today in New York after suffering from dementia. Griffith was the first boxer from the U.S. Virgin Islands to become world champion. He was inducted into the sport's hall of fame in 1990. But he's perhaps best known for the 1962 title match in which he knocked out Benny Paret, who went into a coma and died. Emile Griffith was 75 years old.

    Those are some of the day's major stories.


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     JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the first look at Britain's new prince.

    Tim Ewart of Independent Television News reports.

    TIM EWART: Prince William had been presented on these same steps by his mother, Diana, princess of Wales. Today, 31 years on, there was a new prince and again the most eagerly awaited photograph in the world.

    He was barely 24 hours old and yet to be given a name. But the Prince of Cambridge, third in line to the throne, was already commanding center stage. And his parents were happy to tell us all about him.

    PRINCE WILLIAM OF WALES, United Kingdom, Duke of Cambridge: Well, he has got a good pair of lungs on him. That's for sure. He's a big boy. He is quite heavy.

    But we're still working on a name, so we will have that as soon as we can. But it's the first time we have seen him, really, so we're having a proper chance to catch up.

    QUESTION: How does it feel to be parents finally? For you both, put it into a few words for us.

    PRINCE WILLIAM OF WALES: Very emotional.

    KATE MIDDLETON, Duchess of Cambridge: Yes, it's very emotional. It's such a special time. I think any parent I think probably could have known what this feeling feels like.

    PRINCE WILLIAM OF WALES: It's very special.

    QUESTION: How was the time between the birth time and when it was announced? That was time for you, I assume?

    PRINCE WILLIAM OF WALES: It was. And I will remind him of his tardiness when he is a bit older, because I know how long you have all have sat out here, so hopefully the hospital and you guys can all go back to normal now and we can look after him. So...

    QUESTION: Who does he look like? Does he look like you or Catherine?

    PRINCE WILLIAM OF WALES: He has got her looks thankfully.

    KATE MIDDLETON: No, no, no.

    QUESTION: Have you called him George?

     PRINCE WILLIAM OF WALES: Wait and see, Peter. Wait and see.

    QUESTION: Have you changed your first nappy?

    PRINCE WILLIAM OF WALES: Oh, we have done that already.

    KATE MIDDLETON: Oh yes, we’ve changed the first nappy.

    QUESTION: Who changed the first one?

    PRINCE WILLIAM OF WALES: Good.

    QUESTION: … How much hair?

    PRINCE WILLIAM OF WALES: He's got way more than me, thank God.

    Thanks a lot, thank you.

    REPORTER: Congratulations, yes.

    TIM EWART: Earlier, the grandparents came to visit, first Michael and Carole Middleton, Kate's parents. They were the first to tell the world about the new baby.

    CAROLE MIDDLETON, mother of Kate Middleton: He is absolutely beautiful. They're both doing really well, and we're so thrilled.

    QUESTION: How are the parents doing?

    CAROLE MIDDLETON: Fabulously.

    CAROLE MIDDLETON: Amazing. It's all coming back.

    CAROLE MIDDLETON: Absolutely not.

    Thank you.

    TIM EWART: And then the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. It's the first time since the 1890s that there have been three living direct heirs to the throne. Today, they were in the same room.

    All new parents face the challenge of the car seat, but most don't have to get it secured in front of a live global television audience. William and Kate managed it well. And then, with the new baby in the back and the new father behind the wheel, they set off to start their new life.


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    JEFFREY BROWN: And we return now to our continuing coverage of issues surrounding the health care reform law.

    Tonight, the pivotal question of enrolling young adults, as deadlines approach this fall.

    Ray Suarez reports.

    RAY SUAREZ: It was a meeting behind closed doors at the White House yesterday and it included a notable group, performers and actors like Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, and Amy Poehler, all of whom offered their help in trying to sell the health care reform law.

    The meeting is part of a continuing effort to gain public support for the Affordable Care Act and make sure seven million people enroll for insurance in the first year. The White House is working on multiple fronts to persuade Americans to sign up. That includes more appearances by the president to speak out about the law as he did last week.

    David Simas is a senior White House adviser working on the effort.

    DAVID SIMAS, deputy White House adviser: The first thing to do is really about raising awareness, making people clear about what the Affordable Care Act is and how it benefits them. So, that's a phase that the president really began on Mother's Day and we're going to continue to ramp up through the summer.

    RAY SUAREZ: Under the law, individuals must have health insurance or pay a penalty beginning in 2014. So far, 17 states will offer coverage through their own insurance exchanges. The rest will participate through a federally managed program.

    Younger, healthier people are critical to balance out the older enrollees, who are often sicker and keep costs down.

    DAVID SIMAS: We know that in order for us to be successful, to really make sure the marketplaces are effective, there's a smaller subset that needs to really be at the center of our focus for outreach. And that's about two million to two-and-a-half-million young and healthy 18-to-35-year-olds.

    RAY SUAREZ: The challenge now, how to convince young people, most of whom are healthy, to spend money on insurance they may not think they need or can afford. There's no recent comparable effort to the insurance campaign, but one that is frequently cited is the rollout of the prescription drug program for seniors known as Medicare Part D under President George W. Bush.

    Former Health and Human Services adviser Keith Nahigian helped implement Part D. He says the Obama administration is running behind.

    KEITH NAHIGIAN, former adviser, Department of Health and Human Services: It's not pulling a lever like in the ballot. It's not a vote. It's a very expensive personal decision. You can't just do that with a celebrity. You just can't do that with a 30-second ad. You need to built that, and it takes years and thousands of events out in the community to do that. They're starting too late. And this is a long process. And if they don't get it together, it's going to fail.

    RAY SUAREZ: The health insurance exchanges are set to open October 1.

    We get two views on getting young adults into the insurance market and how that may work under the new law.

    Jen Mishory is deputy director of Young Invincibles, a group seeking to enroll more Americans in their 20s and 30s. And Evan Feinberg is the president of Generation Opportunity, a group of younger adults opposed to the law.

    And, Jen, what do we know? What are the main reasons up until now before the Affordable Care Act that young people haven't bought health insurance?

    JEN MISHORY, Young Invincibles: Well, Ray, there's a variety of reasons, one of which is really looking at access to insurance through your employer.

    So we actually saw through the last decade that insurance rates and the offer of insurance to young people through their employer, the traditional way that we think of people getting coverage, dropped significantly. You saw actually a 13 percent drop in the last decade.

    And so when young people don't have offers of coverage through their employer and you have an individual market that frankly was too expensive, then you really do see really high rates of youth uninsurance.

    RAY SUAREZ: Evan, in your view, does the Affordable Care Act answer any of those things that were keeping young people out of insurance?

    EVAN FEINBERG, Generation Opportunity: Absolutely not. If anything, it exasperates those problems significantly.

    Look, premiums for young Americans are going to nearly triple under Obamacare. And so it's going to make health insurance that much more expensive for my generation. It's a terrible deal. That's why they're having such a hard time getting young people to enroll, because young people know a bad deal when they see it.

    RAY SUAREZ: So, Jen, give me your best pitch for people who are going to be faced with this new marketplace starting October 1 for why they should get in.

    JEN MISHORY: Well, one thing I would add, Ray, is that there are about 19 million uninsured young adults. And of that population, about eight million of those could get Medicaid if all states expanded Medicare. Medicaid. And certainly we're hoping that all states will.

    Another nine million could get access to subsidies, so access to tax credits that you could get every month to bring your insurance cost down. And so you're actually looking at rates that are going to be much lower. Take somebody who is, say, a 21-year-old going to community college who is working part time. He is maybe making $18,000, $19,000, $20,000 a year as he's trying to put himself through school at night.

    He's going to be looking at premiums that are going to be $40, $50 a month with these subsidies. So, he is going to have new options that he never saw before.

    RAY SUAREZ: Are you urging that student, the one that Jen just posited, to stay out of the marketplace and just take the fine or play with all the shortcomings that you identified with the Affordable Care Act as it is?

    EVAN FEINBERG: Oh, he should absolutely stay out.

    I mean, I looked at eHealthInsurance before I came over here. My hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, there were 27 health care plans available to me that were under $100 a piece. The individual market is still going to be the better option for that person.

    Look, young people are going to be used under Obamacare. Our generation is being asked -- that's the only way it works -- to subsidize an older, wealthier generation's health care. It's simply not a good deal for us at all. We can continue to get affordable options if we pay the penalty and stay outside these Obamacare exchanges and just pay for our own health insurance.

    RAY SUAREZ: Jen, even the law's strongest supporters note that the numbers work when you get younger, healthier workers into the pool. So, is Evan wrong when he concludes that younger rate payers will help subsidize the care of older Americans?

    JEN MISHORY: Well, I would actually add that young people will be buying their own health insurance.

    And they will be buying individual insurance. The exchange is a free marketplace. They're just going to be -- for those who are lower income, they're just going to be getting subsidies to actually purchase insurance, bringing those rates down.

    Now, that is -- it's a new system. And it's going to be a new day in health insurance. And that's why we know that there's a lot of work to be done to educate people on what's coming.

    RAY SUAREZ: Those plans that Evan has referred to as being much cheaper than the ones being offered under the Affordable Care Act, do they include all the same kind of coverage as you're going to get in these state exchanges?

    JEN MISHORY: Absolutely not. So, the state exchanges, the federal exchange, they are going to have a broader base of coverage.

    They're going to cover things like preventive care.

    RAY SUAREZ: They're required to under the requirements of the bill, right?

    JEN MISHORY: They are. And they're required to cover certain essential health benefits.

    But, again, when you're looking at a system where you get tax credits based on your income to actually purchase those plans, you can really see affordable options for the first time for a lot of young people who -- a lot of young uninsured people are pretty low-income.

    RAY SUAREZ: Evan, aren't you making kind of a bet as a young worker that nothing terrible is going to happen to you if you are in a less-than-comprehensive plan because it's cheaper?

    EVAN FEINBERG: I don't think so at all.

    If you have got far lower premiums, you might have some exposure to some costs in the individual market, but, look, those insurance plans are good insurance plans that meet our budget and our needs. We don't see the doctor as often. We don't have as many prescriptions as our parents and grandparents do.

    It's not a bad deal at all for us to buy an insurance plan that doesn't have all those gold-plated benefits that are meant for older, sicker people, when we're -- honestly, we're younger and healthier. And the notion that within the exchanges that that's not a bad deal for us, Young Invincibles themselves actually pushed back against the secretary during the Obamacare debate because they were looking for less of an age rating -- or I should say less -- a looser age rating ban.

    They knew that young people were going to be charged more than their fair share to subsidize a health insurance plan for older, sicker Americans. It's unfair and it's bad policy. And it crushes us in our leanest years by taking more of our hard-earned wealth in order to subsidize those that have more than us.

    RAY SUAREZ: The market opens in several months. That October 1 day is looming.

    JEN MISHORY: Right.

    RAY SUAREZ: Are you starting from square one with a lot of people in this age range about what is out there, what it means for them and what's available to them now?

    JEN MISHORY: Ray, I see two challenges.

    The first challenge I see is making sure that young people who have never -- or a lot of them have never actually experienced the insurance market, again for a variety of reasons -- traditionally, there weren't low-cost options available -- really beginning to understand what insurance means, what a deductible is, what a co-pay is, how that impacts their choices and what choices they decide to make.

    So, that's one piece of it. And then the other piece of it is really making sure that young people really know their options. So, young people actually have a range of options and a range much different types of plans that all meet some of the baseline standards. So they're going to have to be able to go in and decide what makes sense for them. And so we need to make sure that we're educating young people on all of those things.

    RAY SUAREZ: And if they decide they want to be in the marketplace, they don't have to pull the trigger right away, right?

    JEN MISHORY: That's right.

    So, open enrollment this year will start October 1. And it will run through the spring. So we do have a six-month period -- and we're starting now -- but we have a six-month period to really make sure that we're educating the population as a whole and certainly young people on new options and what's going to happen.

    RAY SUAREZ: So, where does that leave you? I mean, do you enter that same information marketplace and just tell people, don't do it?

    EVAN FEINBERG: Sure.

    They're trying to dupe young Americans into saying, well, this is going to be a good deal for you, because somehow that's the crux. That's how Obamacare works. If young people take a bad deal and enter the exchanges, well, then maybe older individuals can get health insurance.

    RAY SUAREZ: But, Evan, isn't that how insurance works, that people who don't use benefits are in effect helping pay for those who do?

    EVAN FEINBERG: No, no, that's not how health insurance works at all.

    Health insurance works by covering you in the event that you need health care services that you wouldn't normally necessarily need.

    RAY SUAREZ: But if pay $10,000 in premiums and get into a $50,000 accident, the money comes from somewhere, the people who weren't in a $50,000 accident.

    EVAN FEINBERG: Absolutely.

    And that's why we would encourage young Americans to buy an insurance policy that would protect them against those kinds of costs. But insurance doesn't work by having prepaid health care for everyone and having young people pay a greater portion than they would otherwise use, so that older people who are necessarily going to use it.

    That's not insurance. That's just a wealth redistribution scheme, where young people pay for older, sicker people. So, no, that's not at all what young Americans should be interested in. They should be interested in real health insurance that meets their needs, that reflects their choices what's best for them and their families.

    RAY SUAREZ: Evan Feinberg, Jen Mishory, thank you both.

    JEN MISHORY: Thanks, Ray.

    EVAN FEINBERG: Thank you.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now the second in our series of stories this week on efforts to reduce gun violence.

    Tonight, Spencer Michels reports on a California program to take guns away from those who no longer should legally have them.

    AGENT: Hey, partner, what's your name?  

    MAN: William.

    AGENT: William, you on probation right now?

    MAN: Yes, sir.

    AGENT: OK. You live here right now?

    MAN: Yes.

    AGENT: OK. Which one is your room?

    MAN: I don't have a room.

    AGENT: You don't have a room? Where do you stay?

    MAN: I'm temporarily here. I sleep in the living room.

    AGENT: You sleep in the living room?

    MAN: Yes, sir.

    AGENT: OK. Do me a favor. Just while you are here right now, just take your hands out of your pockets for me, OK?

    MAN: Oh, sure. I'm sorry

    AGENT: That's all right. Do you have anything here that is illegal?

    MAN: No, sir.

    AGENT: OK.

    MAN: No, sir. I just got out of jail. No, I ...

    AGENT: When did you get out of jail?

    MAN: March.

    AGENT: In March.

    MAN: Yes, sir.

    AGENT: OK. What were you in the county for?

    MAN: Felony possession of a firearm.

    AGENT: Is that right?

    MAN: Yes, sir.

    SPENCER MICHELS: On a residential street in Sacramento county, Kisu Yo supervises a team of nine agents from California's Department of Justice looking for guns state records tell them are in the hands of those forbidden from having them.

    KISU YO, California Department of Justice: We're going to go talk to people that have a domestic violence restraining order, people who have been convicted of a felony, people who have mental health commitments.

    So, these are the people that have legally acquired and purchased firearms legally at one time or another in their life, and since then, they have become prohibited from possessing firearms.

     

    SPENCER MICHELS: California, which has the country's most comprehensive records of firearm purchases, is the only state sending agents door-to-door, confiscating legally purchased guns from people who later became barred from owning them.

    Garen Wintemute, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of California at Davis, specializes in violence prevention, and he helped the state develop the Armed Prohibited Persons system.

    DR. GAREN WINTEMUTE, University of California, Davis: We spend a great deal of time trying to prevent people who are prohibited already from buying guns.

    The smart new idea was this:

    What about the other way around? What about somebody who's bought a gun before, legally, and now they're a prohibited person? And the smart new idea was, let's go take them back.

    SPENCER MICHELS: The goal of the program, which began in 2007, is to prevent gun violence, like the case of Roy Perez, a mentally ill man in Los Angeles who shot to death three people in 2008, despite being on the state's armed prohibited persons list.

    KISU YO: It's a great program. Whenever you take out one firearm off the street, you're making a difference. But when we go out, we're taking out five, 10, 20, 30, 40 guns, depending on the night.

    This right here is an AK-47-style assault rifle with a 100-round drum magazine that was confiscated last night in Napa County from a mentally health committed person. The bottom line is, they're prohibited from possessing them, so we end up confiscating them and then taking them to jail.

    SPENCER MICHELS: Over the last six years, agents have seized more than 10,000 guns from around the state, and records show there are 40,000 more still out there.

    Agents use an automated system which compares the state's massive database of people who have purchased guns legally with other databases that record every felony and violent misdemeanor conviction, involuntary mental illness confinement, or temporary restraining order. The results can be impressive.

    KISU YO: All the firearms here on this table have been confiscated within the last -- past six months. This is a .500-caliber revolver. It's the most powerful handgun known to us.

    SPENCER MICHELS: But it's tricky work. Since law enforcement isn't sure where the guns are today -- many people on the list purchased their guns years ago -- the agents usually don't have the probable cause needed to obtain search warrants, so they use persuasion to gain access. If firearms are discovered that are registered to the person, an arrest can be made.

    Gun enthusiast Gene Hoffman, chairman of Calguns Foundation, says he supports the aim of the gun confiscation program, but he has serious problems with the ways agents go about looking for the weapons.

    GENE HOFFMAN, Calguns Foundation: I think they should be able to convince a judge that there's reasonable suspicion or probable cause, because firearm possession in the home is one of those protected fundamental rights.

    SPENCER MICHELS: He also thinks the program is simply ineffective because agents can't force people to let them search their homes.

    GENE HOFFMAN: You need a warrant to search someone's house, so the people who most have something to hide can simply say no thank you and close the door in the face of these agents.

    SPENCER MICHELS: Despite such skepticism, California's program has been cited as a possible model for other states seeking to prevent gun violence in the wake of recent national tragedies.

    Statewide, the program employs 33 agents, but this spring it got a big boost when the legislature approved an additional $24 million to more than double the number of agents looking for guns. California attorney general Kamala Harris had lobbied for the additional money because the backlog was growing, and the agents couldn't keep up.

    KISU YO: We're going to eliminate the backlog within the next three years.

    AGENT: Hey, guys, can you do me a favor? Can you guys all go inside?

    SPENCER MICHELS: Agents search for prohibited guns almost every day throughout California. It's a time-consuming and expensive operation. Sometimes, they find guns. Sometimes, they don't.

    On a recent evening, we rode along as agents went to 13 residences. No guns were found. Most of the people they were looking for had moved away, some several years ago.

    KISU YO: We do the best we can to find the most current addresses. Sometimes, that -- we find that they have given us false addresses. So, a lot of times, we have to do a lot of follow-ups on the back end to obtain or locate the subjects.

    WOMAN: Sounds like she moved to Arkansas. Got a cell number on her husband.

    KISU YO: Copy that. Moved out of state, Arkansas.

    SPENCER MICHELS: Some guns rights advocates, like Northern California gun store owner Roman Kaplan, don't oppose the concept of getting guns out of the hands of criminals or the mentally ill, but he's skeptical the program will do much good in preventing shootings, as in Connecticut.

    ROMAN KAPLAN, gun store owner: It's always hysterical reaction. It's always knee-jerk reaction. After anything happens, there's always knee-jerk reaction. It usually doesn't lead to anything; it's just a way for politicians to show that we do something.

    SPENCER MICHELS: Kaplan is annoyed that people who want to purchase a gun legally at his store are saddled with a $25 background check fee, which is being used to pay for the new agents.

    ROMAN KAPLAN: With all the limitations put by California legislation on legal gun owners, it doesn't make any sense. It doesn't make anyone safer.

    SPENCER MICHELS: Calgun's Hoffman, a high-tech entrepreneur, says he has concerns about the accuracy of the databases used by the state. But his main problem is who is not being targeted: criminals in high-crime areas.

    GENE HOFFMAN: I don't necessarily think that these raids are capturing the types of criminals that are most likely to cause problems with firearms. It would be far more valuable for these folks to be following up on straw purchases in places like East Oakland and Compton. This is where most of the firearms are getting into the hands of the truly violent.

    SPENCER MICHELS: But violence prevention expert Wintemute says the state is now targeting individuals who are more likely to commit a crime.

    DR. GAREN WINTEMUTE: The risk for doing another crime is highest immediately after that first crime has been committed, and it goes down with the time thereafter.

    We need to go after everybody, the new felons, and the new violent misdemeanants, and the people who've just been served with domestic violence restraining orders, and the people who've just been hospitalized because a mental health professional has determined that they are a danger to themselves or to somebody else, and now they have been released.

    SPENCER MICHELS: Experts say it is impossible to know exactly how many guns in California have been purchased illegally or brought in from out of state.

    Still, the agents who put on their flak jackets and walk up to unfamiliar doorways contend they are making a difference, getting guns out of the hands of those they know shouldn't have them.


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