Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel

Embed this content in your HTML


Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Channel Catalog


Channel Description:

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

older | 1 | .... | 250 | 251 | (Page 252) | 253 | 254 | .... | 1175 | newer

    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JEFFREY BROWN: And now, from California, prisoners held in isolation for years and sometimes decades are mounting protests.

    Special correspondent Michael Montgomery with the Center for Investigative Reporting and KQED San Francisco has the story.

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: Pelican Bay State Prison in Northern California is designed to hold some of the most dangerous inmates.

    Inside is a bunker-like security housing unit, where hundreds of men have been held for more than a decade. Earlier this month, inmates at Pelican Bay launched a statewide hunger strike over conditions in the security units. They are seeking an end to what they call indefinite solitary confinement and an easing of restrictions.

    PROTESTER: End torture now!

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: Advocates and family members took to the streets in support of the action, which drew in thousands of inmates from more than 14 prisons.

    PROTESTERS: End torture now!

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: Before the hunger strike got under way, I was allowed to visit Pelican Bay's security unit. I wanted to find out more about the isolated conditions and the lives of the prisoners held here, prisoners like Jeremy Beasley.

    JEREMY BEASLEY, inmate: Conditions back here are horrible. You don't get no sunlight. I haven't had any human contact with anybody without being in chains since 2004.

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: Beasley is serving a life sentence for murder. Once behind bars, he joined a violent white power prison gang. And that's when officials sent him to Pelican Bay.

    Before recently agreeing to leave the group, Beasley spent nearly 10 years confined 22-and-a-half-hours each day alone in a small cell.

    JEREMY BEASLEY: I wasn't a saint before. I believe that certain people should be isolated, but without no sunlight, without -- going years with no sunlight. It would be nice to look out a window and see the outside. That would be nice.

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: When was the last time you saw the moon?

    JEREMY BEASLEY: The moon? Oh, I don't even know. It would have to have been back in '98.

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: For an hour-and-a-half each day, Beasley is allowed into a small pen with 20-foot-high concrete walls partially covered with Plexiglass. And that is his day every day.

    Pelican Bay is one of dozens of supermax prisons around the country. They're built to minimize contact between inmates often described as the worst of the worst. But what distinguishes Pelican Bay is the extraordinary length of time some inmates have been held inside. Some 500 men have been imprisoned at Pelican Bay for more than a decade, according to a federal lawsuit filed last year by a coalition of civil rights groups.

    The suit alleges that years of solitary confinement causes severe physical and psychological damage and violates a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Pelican Bay inmates launched the hunger strike on July 8. The strike has sparked protests throughout California led by inmates' families, their demands, limits on the time that inmates can be held in solitary. They also want more family visits, phone calls and rehabilitation programs.

    Marie Levin's brother Ronnie Dewberry is locked up at Pelican Bay and is one of the strike organizers. MARIE LEVIN, hunger strike supporter: The United Nations has declared that 15 days is the maximum amount of time that any one person should be in solitary confinement, but yet they have allowed my brother to be in solitary confinement for 29 years.

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: Levin had to wait nearly 25 years to get a new picture of her brother. That's because restrictions at Pelican Bay included a ban on inmate photographs. The ban was eased last year.

    MARIE LEVIN: The first one, in the late '80s, I see a strong, vibrant young man. The second photo, I see an older man weary, but still yet holding on.

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: Pelican Bay warden Greg Lewis rejects charges of abuse. He says the units are humane and that inmates leading the hunger strike, like Marie Levin's brother, are powerful prison gang members who run criminal networks behind bars and on the streets.

    GREG LEWIS, Pelican Bay State Prison: Everybody's seen the movie "The Godfather." Everybody's seen how the godfather himself never pulled a trigger, never strangled anybody, didn't run the rackets, didn't run the booze. These are those men.

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: Lewis alleges that all the inmates here are in the upper echelon of dangerous gangs, and would operate with impunity if they weren't locked up at Pelican Bay.

    GREG LEWIS: These are not your burglars. They're not your street corner drug dealers. These men are highly violent, and it provides for the safety of my staff, which is paramount.

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: But not all the men fit this profile.

    I met Lonnie Rose at his home in Stockton. He was just recently released from Pelican Bay.

    And so when you look around at all this, you know, the trees, what do you think? How does it feel to you?

    LONNIE ROSE, former inmate: I think it's good to be home.

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: Rose was sent to prison for a nonviolent drug offense. But following a riot, officials sent him to Pelican Bay, saying he was active in a violent prison gang. Rose was then held in isolation for nine years based on two pieces of evidence, a drawing, supposedly with gang symbols, and a puzzle book inscribed with the name of another inmate, an alleged gang member.

    So, tell me about this book.

    LONNIE ROSE: This is "Match Witnesses With Mensa." And little did I know it would cost me six more years in the Pelican Bay SHU.

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: So the officers came into your cell, they found this book, they saw another inmate's name in it, and that was enough?

    LONNIE ROSE: That was enough.

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: Rose says he didn't know the other inmate, but prison staff concluded that he was actively associating with a known gang member. Earlier this year, Rose petitioned for release from prison following changes to California's sentencing laws. A judge determined he wasn't a danger to society and granted Rose freedom.

    LONNIE ROSE: The courts saw it for what it was. I went to prison on a drug case. I haven't been that big of a problem. And I don't pose a threat to public safety.

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: Lonnie Rose isn't an isolated example. We found other inmates locked up in the security units under a policy that allows tattoos, drawings and books to be used as evidence of gang affiliation.

    Pelican Bay's former warden, Steve Cambra, said cases like Rose's suggest the prison security unit is not being used the way it was intended.

    STEVEN CAMBRA, former warden, Pelican Bay State Prison: Those cells are departmental high-value cells, expensive cells that should be for the current violent predator that's causing problems in your prison system. They should be reserved for those guys.

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: Cambra oversaw many inmates placed in isolation and he sees another problem. Once in the security units, most inmates are held indefinitely.

    Until recently, the surest way out was to divulge information about the gangs. Inmates say this leaves them with a stark choice: Snitch on other prisoners or remain locked in isolation.

    STEVEN CAMBRA: So, yes, it troubles me. I think there should be a light at the end of the tunnel for almost all inmates.

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: I went to Sacramento to speak with corrections officials about the security units. Associate director Kelly Harrington says the department has already made the changes that the hunger strikers are calling for.

    KELLY HARRINGTON, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: The department's view is that we have -- we have met those demands.

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: Harrington cites a new department program implemented following a 2011 hunger strike that has transferred more than 200 men out of the security units and into regular prisons.

    Men still held in isolation can work their way out by refraining from gang-related activity and participating in special classes.

    KELLY HARRINGTON: Hopefully, the men that are in the security housing units will see that as an incentive to go out.

    MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: But protesters say the department's new policy doesn't go far enough. They want men held in the security units for more than 10 years to be let out of isolation within six months.

    The next round of settlement talks in the federal lawsuit are scheduled for the end of the month. But with both sides digging in, inmates say they are prepared to starve themselves to death.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    A handful of Western journalists were permitted to enter the usually closed country and given access to events marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.

    Among them was John Sparks of Britain's Channel 4 News, who filed this story from Pyongyang.

    JOHN SPARKS: Channel 4 News, along with other international media, were shuttled through the city's barren streets in a six-bus convoy. No time to stop and chat, though. The North Koreans go to great lengths to avoid accidental conversations with ordinary citizens.

    This week, the authorities will hold events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. And they included the opening of a brand-new cemetery this morning, although our arrival wasn't universally welcomed.

    MAN: Sir, please follow...

    JOHN SPARKS: Journalists are assigned state minders with particular ideas about what can and can't be filmed.

    MAN: Hello.

    JOHN SPARKS: Security was tight. Even the veterans with the medals were subjected to checks.

    "It's necessary," said our minder. "Important officials are attending."


    JOHN SPARKS: But we were you all surprised when this man turned up, North Korea's 20-something leader, Kim Jong-un.

    The great marshal, as he's known, cut the red ribbon, made an inspection of the cemetery, then left in his stretch Mercedes. Kim Jong-un wasn't here for long, but a large group of specially invited guests is now touring the facility, which was created for this week's commemorative events. Grave sites around North Korea were dug up and relocated here in the center of Pyongyang.

    The Korean War was a deeply traumatic event, and Ms. Choe isn't over it. She lost her father in the conflict.

    What feelings do you have towards your neighbors to the south?

    CHOE U HYE, North Korea: There's no change in feelings. I can't forget the feeling of hatred. My son and daughter will take revenge for what they have done.

    JOHN SPARKS: Is the Korean War over? Is it finished?

    KIM TAE YONG, North Korea (through translator): It's not over. The war's not over. We won't put down our guns until the Americans surrender.

    JOHN SPARKS: It seems then the North Koreans are sending us a message. Their nation may be poor and isolated, but the people are steadfast and their rulers aren't going anywhere.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Among those attending today's ceremonies were two decorated U.S. veterans of the Korean War. They were on a mission to find the remains of a fellow aviator killed at the Chosin Reservoir in 1950. But flooding prevented them from visiting the site of one of the war's deadliest battles.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JEFFREY BROWN: And finally tonight, in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting and the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a conversation about being a black man in America today.

    Last Friday, President Obama spoke about the issue bluntly and emotionally.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: 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.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Speaking a day before planned protests over the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the president said the circumstances of Trayvon Martin's death at just 17 years old played to a larger issue.

    BARACK OBAMA: 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?

    JEFFREY BROWN:  His words have become part of a larger conversation about the challenges faced by black men in American society. Yesterday, Trayvon Martin's father, Tracy, thanked the president at a forum brought together by the Congressional Black Caucus.

    TRACY MARTIN, father of Trayvon Martin: It sparks the conversation in every household over the dinner table. And that conversation is, what can we do as parents, what can we do as men, what can we do as fathers, what can we do as mentors to stop this from happening to your child?

    JEFFREY BROWN:  That discussion will continue tomorrow, as members of the caucus travel to Chicago for a summit on the issue of urban gun violence.

    And we have our own discussion now. Nathan McCall is professor of African-American studies at Emory University and author of “Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America.” Khalil Gibran Muhammad is executive director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. Bishop Harry Jackson is a Pentecostal bishop who serves as the senior pastor at Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland. And Michael Melton is an attorney president of 100 Black Men of Greater Washington, a group of businessmen and professionals who mentor middle- and high-school-aged African-Americans.

    And welcome to all of you.

    Khalil Muhammad, I will start with you.

    Did the president frame the issue well? What did he get right? Where, if at all, did he fall short?

    KHALIL GIBRAN MUHAMMAD, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library: Well, I think he did get three things right.

    He articulated that race matters, that history matters, and that our black children matter in this country. And those are three things that are incredibly important, given the high stakes in this matter. We have seen in just the past few days a huge racial divide on the question of justice in this country, with a Pew Research poll showing that 86 percent of white Americans when asked about the verdict agree with the verdicts -- I'm sorry -- 86 percent of African-American are dissatisfied with the verdict, as compared with 30 percent of whites.

    That is a gigantic divide. And it calls us to the importance of the speech. It may be fifth year into his term, a term that has not been characterized by a lot of presidential leadership on the question of race in this country. He's spoken to the NAACP. He's spoken to the Congressional Black Caucus at key moments.

    So I think what we see here is for the first time is really important, timely presidential leadership, and it matters because the divide about how the criminal justice system has stigmatized and criminalized an entire generation of young people is growing and is significant and must be addressed.

     JEFFREY BROWN:  All right, Nathan McCall, same question to you. What did you hear? What did the president get right? Where might he have fallen short?

    NATHAN MCCALL,  Emory University: Well, yes, I think the president did a great job of providing a nuanced, heartfelt view of the experience that many Americans, especially African-American males, experience in this country on a daily basis.

    It was important, I think, that he spoke from the heart. I notice he didn't have -- it wasn't a prepared speech. And he was sincere. So, I think it meant a lot to many people to hear the president of the United States validating the experiences of African-American males, whose experiences are often dismissed.

    On the flip side, one of the things that I wish that he had talked about a bit more is the other side of the coin. Trayvon Martin didn't kill himself. And so the discussion that we should be having is -- shouldn't be restricted to African-American males. I think it needs to be -- there's a broader discussion to be had, and I look forward to talking about that.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  All right, Bishop Jackson, I will try to ask a difficult question as simply as possible. What is the problem for or of black men in this society? How do you define the problem?

    BISHOP HARRY JACKSON JR., Hope Christian Church: Well, I think there is cultural rejection. There are still racism that exists.

    And I think that we as the church -- I don't want to be pejorative or negative -- we haven't stepped up at the level that we should. The civil rights movement was led by the church, changed hearts, then laws. Today, we're trying to get politicians to do what only the church can do, and more or less, that's what the president said: I don't want to get into political speech.

    So I think black young men with broken homes need surrogate families, instead of gangs. And I think churches and groups like the 100 Black Men are prepared to take up the slack, but one little organization can't do it. We need multiple churches. In my view, we need black, white, Hispanic churches working in tough urban areas together, and we can't let this thing called racism divide us.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  And you're speaking here as a -- socially conservative.


    JEFFREY BROWN:  Most issues with the president, you don't agree, because we have talked about this on the program before.

    HARRY JACKSON, JR.: Yes. Yes, but I think he did a great job.

    In this thing, I think he spoke to blacks. I, too, wish he had spoken more also to whites. I was a program today, radio program, where whites were all upset because they see this as divisive, as opposed to giving a little bit of a balm of healing to black people who feel left out.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Let me ask Michael Melton, what part of this can be addressed only within the black community? And what part must be addressed by the nation as a whole?

    MICHAEL MELTON, 100 Black Men of Greater Washington: Well, I think, within the black community, we need to teach our children to stop being afraid of the police.

    For example, if Trayvon Martin had called 911 and said, I am being stalked by someone as I'm walking home, then they would have had a recorded record of himself trying to defend himself. But since there was a fear of, we don't want to get the police engaged in our business, he didn't make that simple call. And I think that would have been something that we individually could teach ourselves.

    In the bigger community, I think if each one of us just takes the example, look, am I being subtly racist or overtly racist, black, white, Hispanic, whatever, am I having a problem with this person because of race or just because of something that happened, and if we just all retreat a step and just think openly about what we're doing, I think that will help the country.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Khalil Muhammad, what is your answer to that? What must be addressed in just the African-American community? What part is for the nation as a whole?

    KHALIL GIBRAN MUHAMMAD: Well, I think that there's always room for teaching values, right?

    This has often been a question of personal responsibility. And, frankly, that's been the most consistent message within the black community. It comes from the pulpit. It comes from teachers. It comes from mentors. But the fact remains that Trayvon Martin's behavior had nothing to do with personal responsibility.

    And we must realize that what happened to Trayvon and what happened in the Zimmerman acquittal are the same coin as the problem of stop, question, and frisk in New York or racial profiling in general. In other words, we have completely legitimized in this society the presumption of guilt among young and adult black men in this country, essentially saying it is OK to be fearful, that that fear is a reflection of the statistics in our society, and their individuality is completely subsumed.

    And that is a problem for -- that is an educational problem. It is a cultural problem. It is a problem that essentially black people can't fix, either in the political system or in the white homes and Latino homes and Asian homes that have tremendous ambivalence about whether a black person's individuality actually counts and matters in this society.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Let me ask -- I want to bring back Bishop Jackson here, because you talked to us earlier today on the phone to one of our prosecutors. You mentioned a culture of grievance in the black community that you have seen at times.

    HARRY JACKSON JR.: Yes, I think, unfortunately, President Obama's statements to many kind of fit into that politics of grievance category, which means, we cry out about something, then we don't follow through.

    I think we need to honor his message to us and take decisive action. Sooner or later, with the first black president and secretaries of state and others who are black, folks are going to say, hey, you black folks have your own problems. Solve it yourself. I think it's time for to us take aggressive action.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And what does that mean?

    HARRY JACKSON JR.: Well, what it means for me is in Sanford, Fla., this past year, many don't know 65 pastors met together about a year ago. There was no riot in Sanford itself. I think we have got to get the church involved.

    Other groups can do their thing. But I think we have the after-school programs. We need to engage kids from broken homes, give them a vision and incentive for their lives. And we have got to do it and take action now.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Nathan McCall, what would you like to see? It occurs to me all -- I think all four of are you parents. You all work with young people. What do you tell them?

    NATHAN MCCALL: Well, if I may, I would like to address that phrase the culture of grievance.


    NATHAN MCCALL: I have a bit of a problem with that because I think, again, we're going back to blaming the victims.

    And you can't tell people who are hurt, people who are in pain how to suffer or how to grieve. This -- this murder of Trayvon Martin has been one of a number of murders that have happened over the years that have -- and the outcome has been grievous. And so I think we have to be very, very careful with regard to that, though I agree that there are things that we can do within the black communities.

    Again, I don't think the problems that exist in the black communities exist in a void. I think they were created by a larger reality which relates to white America and our history in this country. So there are a lot of things that we need to talk about. But it's not only black people that need to do self-evaluation and thinking about how we're going to approach problems with us.

    The problem doesn't lie exclusively with us as African-Americans.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Michael Melton, you are in the mentoring business, right?

    MICHAEL MELTON: Yes, I am.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Your organization -- so you're working with young African-American men and women, but what do you tell them? How do they -- what's the key, the most important thing for them to negotiate their way through all the things we have talked about?

    MICHAEL MELTON: Well, I try to tell them to be aware of your surroundings and how other people are perceiving you, and that you don't need to be defensive, but you need to actually think more than a normal person would about, can this be perceived incorrectly, and be nonaggressive just naturally, and just try to think about that, because people are going to sometimes see you incorrectly.

    But a conversation -- hey, who are you? What do you want? I'm just trying to walk home. Was there something that could have defused it? But on the other end, I think that self-defense in this case shouldn't have been applicable at all. For example, if you incorrectly approach someone because you think they're doing something wrong, and then whatever ensues after that, it should be your fault.

    And that could be a modification to the law that will make it more justice.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  All right, a big, big subject that we have just started, but we will end it there.

    Michael Melton, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Nathan McCall, and Bishop Harry Jackson, thank you, all four, very much.

    MICHAEL MELTON: Thank you, sir.

    HARRY JACKSON JR.: Thank you.



    0 0

    The Morning LinePressure to reach an agreement on how to fund the U.S. government lingers while Congress prepares to go on a month-long recess next week.

    Congress is a week away from a month-long summer recess, and appears to be on a collision course for a September spending showdown.

    Lawmakers will have little time left to deal with the issue of funding the government upon their return, and tension is escalating while President Barack Obama goes after Republicans as promoters of gridlock in a series of campaign-style speeches.

    The Washington Post's Zachary Goldfarb and Paul Kane looked at the Obama administration's strategy and noted that the White House is prepared to aggressively push back on attempts by congressional Republicans to make deeper cuts to domestic programs than were made through the sequester earlier this year.

    They also write that the president could demand that Congress undo the automatic, across-the-board spending reductions enacted in the spring:

    White House officials also are discussing a potential strategy to try to stop the sequestration cuts from continuing, the lawmakers and Democrats said. Under this scenario, the president might refuse to sign a new funding measure that did not roll back the sequester. No decision has been made.

    But some of Obama's top economic advisers fear that they may not be able to stop what they consider damaging cuts without a sharper confrontation, the sources said. Other advisers are urging a more cautious course, saying it would be better for Obama to seek a more targeted agreement that would increase funding for a smaller set of priorities.

    Obama would still prefer to replace all the domestic and defense cuts with a long-term budget deal and avoid talk of a shutdown, according to the people familiar with the discussions. But some White House officials consider the Sept. 30 date the last chance to cancel a portion of the sequestration cuts before the 2014 midterm elections.

    The Post duo also notes that White House officials "are all but resigned to any potential budget agreement lasting just a year or two -- not the long-term fiscal pact they have sought." That comes as voters are telling pollsters about their deep dissatisfaction with Washington and the lack of getting much accomplished on Capitol Hill.

    The task of reaching an agreement on funding the government could be complicated by GOP divisions over funding of the president's health care overhaul. A group of Republican lawmakers want to cut off money for the program as part of any spending deal, but others in the party are wary of the potential public backlash of a government shutdown.

    Politico's Manu Raju and Jake Sherman explain:

    The debate is happening behind closed doors and over Senate lunches, as well as during a frank meeting Wednesday with House leaders in Speaker John Boehner's suite where fresh concerns were aired about the party's strategy. On Thursday, the dispute began to spill into public view, most notably when three Senate Republicans -- including Minority Whip John Cornyn -- withdrew their signatures from a conservative letter demanding defunding Obamacare as a condition for supporting the government funding measure.

    Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) called the push to defund the law through the continuing resolution the "dumbest idea" he had ever heard.

    "Defunding the Affordable Care Act is not achievable by shutting down the federal government," Burr said. "At some point, you're going to open the federal government back up, and Barack Obama is going to be president."

    Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) have circulated letters in the Senate and House to push their colleagues to unite behind the anti-Obamacare effort. The proponents of the push argue that if the government shuts down over Obamacare, it will be the president's fault -- not theirs.

    The president took aim at the tactics of Republicans during a visit to Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday, the latest stop in an effort to promote his economic principles.

    "Shutting down the government just because I'm for keeping it open, that's not an economic plan,'' he said. "Threatening that you won't pay the bills in this country when we've already racked up those bills, that's not an economic plan. That's just being a deadbeat."

    The president's campaign spinoff, Organizing for Action, refashioned clips of one of his speeches for a new 60-second cable television ad pushing his ideas.

    With Congress back home for almost the entire month of August and first week of September, little dealmaking is expected on any of the major issues Washington is grappling with. And with the spending debate expected to be the immediate focus for lawmakers when they get back to town, it could mean even further delay for one of the president's top second-term priorities: comprehensive immigration reform.

    Editor's note: For the rest of the summer, the Morning Line will only publish once a week, on Mondays. Visit our home page for news and show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.


    The New York Times' Charlie Savage details how Chief Justice John Roberts has reshaped the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

    The Federal Election Commission decided that gay couples will be treated the same as straight couples when it comes to campaign finance rules.

    Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner told reporters Thursday there are a few more women with whom he sexted, saying he wasn't sure of the exact number because it depended on how you defined his behavior.

    Four more women are accusing San Diego Mayor and former Democratic Rep. Bob Filner of sexual harassment, prompting members of his party to call for him to resign.

    A new automated survey from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling found Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul leading a pack of potential 2016 GOP presidential contenders, with 16 percent. He's followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, each at 13 percent. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had led in the poll as recently as March, but dropped to sixth in this most recent survey.

    Someone splattered green paint on the Lincoln Memorial overnight.

    Jezebel has a handy guide for ... well, just read it.

    Matt Bevin, the tea party-backed challenger to Mitch McConnell, told Bloomberg News on Wednesday that he was prepared to use his personal wealth to defeat the Senate Minority Leader in next year's Kentucky GOP primary. "I'll be the biggest nuisance he's ever had in his political career," Bevin said.

    The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg explores the National Popular Vote interstate compact and how it could revolutionize the process of electing future presidents.

    Check out this Civil Rights interactive from the Tennessean.

    Bloomberg's David Glovin reports on the fraternity industry's political arm known as "FratPAC" and its lobbying against anti-hazing bills.

    The Washington Post has the details of a tentative deal in place for a new D.C. United soccer stadium in Southwest Washington.

    Need a pick-me-up? Look at this picture of a baby zonkey, and that should do the trick.

    NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

    NewsHour hosted a live Twitter chat on gun violence Thursday. We'll be hosting similar chats regularly on Thursdays. Join the conversation with #NewsHourChats.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid watches the show every night when he's home. Watch Judy Woodruff interview him and don't miss his remarks about a 2016 Hillary Clinton candidacy.

    We examined the fallout from the Justice Department's decision to force Texas to go through a pre-clearance process with The Heritage Foundation's Hans van Spakovsky and Nina Perales of MALDEF.

    Following up on Mr. Obama's remarks at the White House last Friday, Jeff Brown hosted a NewsHour discussion about being a black man in America.

    America needs more foreign workers to stay innovative and economically competitive, argues Silicon Valley guru Vivek Wadhwa on Making Sen$e.

    Wadhwa responds to a trio of academic researchers who argued Wednesday on Making Sen$e that granting H-1B visas to more guest workers depresses domestic workers' wages in the high-tech industry.

    Are you a young adult impacted by the health care reform law? NewsHour wants to hear from you.


    WH official just said Cabinet Day at Camp David will be much more like a company field day than government business.

    — Mark Knoller (@markknoller) July 26, 2013

    Hm ... Twitter might want to check it's "who to follow" algorithm. pic.twitter.com/u4e7mGDao4

    — Christina Bellantoni (@cbellantoni) July 26, 2013

    RT @richtpau: Obama taps fundraisers and political allies to be ambassadors almost twice as often as predecessors http://t.co/aLlaXaDVXX

    — Byron York (@ByronYork) July 26, 2013

    My band, O'Malley's March, is playing two shows Friday night in Annapolis. Watch a video and get your tickets here: http://t.co/LEfAWGsX9f

    — Martin O'Malley (@GovernorOMalley) July 24, 2013

    They planted some new white pom-pom flowers since yesterday in the Rose Garden. Pretty. pic.twitter.com/TNCo1AE2a0

    — Mark Knoller (@markknoller) July 25, 2013

    Simone Pathe contributed to this report.

    For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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

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

    Follow the politics team on Twitter:

    Follow @cbellantoni

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

    Support Your Local PBS Station


    0 0

    Dr. Howard Markel revisits moments that changed the course of modern medicine, like the advent of antiseptic surgery, in a monthly column on the PBS NewsHour. Photo by Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images.

    Today, every patient reasonably expects that before going "under the knife," the surgeon will ensure that all the necessary instruments, as well as every other aspect of the operating room and those in it, will be scrupulously clean and sterile.

    Yet well into the 19th century, scalpels, retractors and other tools of the surgical trade were rarely cleaned between operations. The result was often a rip-roaring infection, gangrene and even death, making that old adage "the operation was a success but the patient died" a macabre reality.

    British surgeon and founder of antiseptic surgery Joseph Lister as a young man.

    Although physicians such as Ignaz Semmelweis and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. admonished their colleagues as early as 1847 to wash their hands between examining patients to reduce the spread of infection, most doctors ignored such sage advice. These 19th century practitioners prided themselves on operating in bloody, frock coats tainted with the detritus of operations past.

    This decidedly dirty practice all changed thanks to an enterprising British surgeon named Joseph Lister (1827-1912). Fascinated by the discoveries made by the French microbiologist Louis Pasteur, Lister became convinced that the post-operative infections he contended with on a daily basis might be reduced if instruments and wounds were cleaned with a solution that killed germs before they had a chance to wreak havoc.

    Beginning in the mid-1860s, Lister began experimenting with the use of a powerful antiseptic called carbolic acid. Before each operation, he would dutifully spray his instruments with the stuff as well as apply it to the surgical incisions he made and the dressings he applied after the procedure.

    Diorama in the Lower Wellcome Gallery, Science Museum, London, representing an operation being undertaken in antiseptic conditions. Photo by SSPL/Getty Images.

    Lister had his "Eureka moment" shortly after the 23rd of June, 1866, when he was called to treat a seven-year-old boy whose right leg had been run over by a horse-driven omnibus resulting in a compound fracture -- the breaking of a bone so severely that it pokes through the soft tissue and skin -- of the tibia. For many, such injuries quickly ended in death in those not-so-good old days of medicine.

    Carefully applying carbolic acid during the operation and to the wounds for a full six weeks after, Lister was overjoyed to find that the boy's broken bones had joined back together without nary a trace of infection. Lister had accomplished what had heretofore been next to impossible. He saved the boy's severely damaged leg and, in fact, his life by preventing a post-operative infection.

    The surgeon knew he had a tiger by the tail and gathered his clinical data to write up a six-part article entitled "On a New Method of Treating Compound Fracture, Abscess, etc., with Observations on the Condition of Suppuration."

    Joseph Lister and Louis Pasteur receiving honors from the Sorbonne in Paris. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

    These dispatches appeared in the venerable British medical journal "The Lancet" beginning in March of 1867 and concluding 146 years ago Saturday, on July 27, 1867. It was a classic piece of scientific investigation that, literally, changed the world.

    Lister left Glasgow in 1869 for the prestigious chair of surgery at the University of Edinburgh in 1869. For the next several decades, he continued to advance his craft with his careful attention to cleanliness.

    As better and better results were observed by those surgeons practicing Lord Lister's antiseptic measures in concert with a number of striking discoveries on the germ theory of infectious disease, the surgical profession carried these techniques even further to create the sterile, aseptic environment of an operating room.

    Procedures such as donning sterilized surgical gowns and rubber gloves are still practiced to this very day. The point of these precautions is to prevent the entrance of bacteria into surgical wounds in the first place.

    And it all began with one observant surgeon electing to clean up before he made a mess.

    Dr. Howard Markel writes a monthly column for the PBS NewsHour website, highlighting the anniversary of a momentous event that continues to shape modern medicine. He is the director of the Center for the History of Medicine and the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan.

    He is the author or editor of 10 books, including "Quarantine! East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892," "When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America Since 1900 and the Fears They Have Unleashed" and "An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine."

    Related Content

    'I Have Seen My Death': How the World Discovered the X-Ray

    How a Boy Became the First to Beat Back Diabetes

    The Day Scientists Discovered 'The Secret of Life'

    How a Doctor Discovered U.S. Walls Were Poisonous

    The Day Polio Began Losing Its Grip on America

    The Day Doctors Began to Conquer Smallpox

    A Hormonal Happy Birthday

    Do you have a question for Dr. Markel about how a particular aspect of modern medicine came to be? Send them to us at onlinehealth@newshour.org.

    Support Your Local PBS Station

    0 0

    The spotted owl, which dwells in old growth forests, is facing extinction from habitat loss and threats from its cousin, the barred owl. Photo by William F. Campbell/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images.

    The spotted owl, with its big, bright eyes, sweet face and feathery eyebrows, is vanishing. In Northern Washington alone, spotted owl populations plummeted 55 percent between 1996 to 2006.

    Since the bird was listed as a threatened species in 1990, scientists have issued plans to protect them, mainly protecting their old growth forests from logging.

    But a bigger, badder bird has complicated the picture -- by bullying the spotted owls off their turf. The barred owl, is larger, meaner, breeds faster and will eat nearly anything. Plus, it's been known to physically attack the spotted owl.

    According to a recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service environmental review, over the past century barred owls have moved persistently west and south, reaching British Columbia and the spotted owl range by 1959.

    So in the latest turn of events, scientists have decided to start shooting the barred owls to save the spotted one. The "preferred" $3 million recovery plan calls for killing 3,603 barred owls in four study areas in Oregon, Washington and Northern California over the next four years. The report characterizes it as "experimental removal of barred owls to benefit threatened northern spotted owls."

    The plan has drawn heat from the timber industry and the Audubon Society, the Associated Press reports.

    "Shooting a few isolated areas of barred owl isn't going to help us as forest managers, nor is it going to help the forest be protected from wildfires, and catastrophic wildfire is one of the big impediments to spotted owl recovery," Tom Partin, president of the American Forest Resource Council, a timber industry group, told the A.P.

    But John Kostyack, vice president for wildlife conservation for the National Wildlife Federation, says controlling one species to boost another is not a radical step.

    "Managers are accustomed to having to step in to do active management -- all kinds of things that involve putting the thumb on the scale to balance things out again."

    He pointed to the Kirtland's warbler, a rare member of the wood warbler family, which depends on jack pine forests, and has been threatened by brown-headed cowbirds. The cowbirds would lay eggs in the warbler's nest, crowding out and killing the warbler chicks.

    Efforts to save the warbler go back to 1972, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began luring and killing cowbirds with traps baited with millet, water and other birds, and warbler numbers have since improved dramatically, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

    "Sometimes in order to prevent extinction, land managers need to come in to take an active step," Kostyack said.


    Brian Greene has this wonderful explainer in Smithsonian Magazine on the Higgs boson.

    Check out this full dinosaur tail excavated in Northern Mexico. The Wall Street Journal reports:

    How does the turtle get his shell? Two theories from Science Magazine.

    Study reveals mechanism behind squids' and octopuses' ability to change color

    Inspired by insect swarms and birds flying in V-formation, these robotic building blocks, designed for kids, "sense, think and act," scientists say. Miles O'Brien reports for the National Science Foundation's Science Nation:


    Researchers from the University of the West of England have found a new way to charge one's phone ... by using urine.

    Rebecca Jacobson and Patti Parson contributed to this report.

    Support Your Local PBS Station

    0 0
  • 07/26/13--09:11: Happy Birthday ADA
  • In a scene described as having "the fervor of a civil rights rally of the 1960s" supporters of the Americans with Disabilities Act climb the steps of the Capitol without their walkers, crutches and wheelchairs on Mar 12, 1990. Photo by Terry Ashe/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

    The Americans with Disabilities Act is 23 years old today. This is the law aimed at eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities and ensuring equal opportunity for them "in employment ... government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities and transportation," as described on the website of the Department of Justice.

    Sponsored by Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin and Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer and and signed by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990, the ADA was the result of years of debate over whether it would do as much harm as it would good, because of the new requirements it placed on governments, employers and people who own airlines, bus companies, office buildings, stores, restaurants and any other facility someone with a disability might want to use. In other words, just about every place you can think of, other than private homes. Not long before it was enacted, several hundred people with disabilities showed up outside the U.S. Capitol building, and those who could, let go of their wheelchairs, walkers and crutches, and crawled or pulled themselves up the 100 steps, urging members of Congress to vote for the ADA. Those who couldn't climb, yelled or held up signs.

    The Los Angeles Times was on the scene and described the crowd of supporters:

    "The demonstration at the West Front of the Capitol had some of the fervor of a civil rights rally of the 1960s as the demonstrators chanted slogans and sang songs to underscore their message to Congress.

    Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.) made the comparison, telling the crowd: "What we did for civil rights in the 1960s we forgot to do for people with disabilities."

    President George H.W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990. Photo by Fotosearch/Getty Images

    Despite lopsided votes for the law in the Senate and the House, it's hardly been a settled issue since it first came into being. Over the past couple of decades, it has been subjected to significant amendments and ongoing arguments about whether and how it should be applied and interpreted. Just since 2006, the federal government and individual citizens have taken legal action against cruise lines, hotels, sheriff's and fire departments, public school systems, colleges and local governments from one end of the country to the other, usually over the accommodations they provide to those with disabilities. Even the District of Columbia had to be legally coerced into providing accessible shelter for the homeless with disabilities. One of the prisons in the Pennsylvania State Correctional system was found in violation of the ADA for denying adequate services to inmates with mental illness and intellectual disabilities. In Arizona, the Phoenix International Raceway reached a settlement with the U.S. government only last month after a racing fan with disabilities filed a complaint that it didn't provide accessible seating and parking.

    Reading the scores of complaints filed by citizens, that were later investigated by the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department -- many of which resulted in settlements -- creates an image of a living, breathing law, rather than a one-dimensional statute that rests in bound copies on a dusty shelf. It seems to be constantly changing; it's been interpreted and re-interpreted to prevent discrimination and provide equal opportunity.

    On one of these evenings when you get discouraged thinking about today's gridlock in Washington, go to the Justice Department website for a list of ADA "Enforcement activities", legal settlements reached to require changes made in physical structures or classroom teaching arrangements, for example. Even as we recognize how many of these accommodations had to be imposed on an employer or an institution, they are a reminder of how far we've come as a nation in the way we treat those who are differently abled.

    Support Your Local PBS Station

    0 0
  • 07/26/13--11:16: Technopessimism Is Bunk
  • By Joel Mokyr

    Watch Video

    In a 2011 Making Sen$e report, we explored the slowing of innovation with "The Great Stagnation" author Tyler Cowen.

    The developed world enjoys the benefits of running hot and cold water, refrigerators and electric stoves, all of which have been around for generations. But can we innovate beyond that? Can today's inventions -- the iPod, for example -- even compete with those "low-hanging fruit" that dramatically altered our homes and daily lives? In a 2011 Making Sen$e report, which you can watch above, George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen, author of "The Great Stagnation," argued that we're in an "innovation drought" where the rate of progress has slowed.

    That's just not so, economic historian Joel Mokyr of Northwestern University argues Friday on the Business Desk: innovation has not peaked. Inventors may have already plucked the "low-hanging fruit" -- big inventions in everyday use -- but the thing about technology is that it's ever-evolving, allowing us to constantly climb even higher.

    In 2011, we also visited the MIT Media Lab for some tangible evidence that innovation is still booming. You can see some of what we saw here.

    But with innovation comes concerns that human workers will become redundant, with the profits for new inventions going only to the high-skilled few. In our 2012 report "Man vs. Machine," which you can watch at the end of this post, Singularity University's Vivek Wadhwa, who's made a reappearance on the Business Desk this week, predicted that "the convergence of these technologies will create jobs in areas we can't even think of." The workforce, he has argued on the Business Desk, has to keep adapting.

    Responding to "technopessimists," (also the subject of a story in this weekend's New York Magazine), Mokyr picks up on Wadhwa's prediction. He too foresees new technologies creating new jobs, the nature of which we cannot yet even imagine. After all, technology's double-edged sword -- that new inventions create new problems, such as labor force disruption -- is what constantly pushes us to further innovate.

    Joel Mokyr: One of the most unjust misattributions is the famous statement "everything that can be invented already has been," supposedly uttered in 1899 by Charles Holland Duell, commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office.

    In fact, Duell wrote the very opposite: "In my opinion, all previous advances in the various lines of invention will appear totally insignificant when compared with those which the present century will witness. I almost wish that I might live my life over again to see the wonders which are at the threshold."

    The true Duell turned out to be correct: the 20th century was indeed a century of huge technological progress. Indeed, only the growth of science and technology can explain how the industrialized world in the 20th century was able to survive a seemingly endless chain of man-made disasters, from two world wars, economic depressions, financial panics, inflations and the rise of totalitarianism. Many observers expected the Western world to sink into barbarism and darkness, much like had happened after the decline of the Roman Empire in Europe. Instead, despite its many economic woes, material life in 2013 is immeasurably better than ever before, not just in the industrialized rich parts of the planet, but in most economies.

    Yet today, once again, we hear concerns that innovation has peaked. Some claim that "the low-hanging fruits have all been picked." The big inventions that made daily life so much more comfortable -- air conditioning, running cold and hot water, antibiotics, ready-made food, the washing machine -- have all been made and cannot be matched, so the thinking goes.

    Entrepreneur Peter Thiel's widely quoted line "we wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters" reflects a sense of disappointment. Others feel that the regulatory state reflects a change in culture: we are too afraid to take chances; we have become complacent, lazy and conservative.

    Still others, on the contrary, want to stop technology from going much further because they worry that it will render people redundant, as more and more work is done by machines that can see, hear, read and (in their own fashion) think. What we gained as consumers, viewers, patients and citizens, they fear, we may be about to lose as workers. Technology, while it may have saved the world in the past century, has done what it was supposed to do. Now we need to focus on other things, they say.

    This view is wrong and dangerous. Technology has not finished its work; it has barely started. Some lessons from history may show why. For one thing, technological progress has an unusual dynamic: it solves problems, but in doing so it, more often than not, creates new ones as unintended side-effects of the previous breakthroughs, and these in turn have to be solved, and so on.

    THE ODDS OF DISASTER An Economist's Warning on Global Warming

    A historical example is coal. The Industrial Revolution of the 18th century increased the use of coal enormously, with steam power replacing water mills, wind mills and horses. This was more powerful and efficient, but in turn, it created new environmental problems such as London's famous smog. In our own time, the burning of all hydrocarbons has been shown to be a factor in climate change. So technological progress hopefully will make renewable energies available at costs that will slow down planetary warming.

    Or consider our war against harmful species, from malaria-carrying mosquitoes to TB mycobacteria. Science and technology came up with means to poison them, but nature has a way of pushing back, and many harmful species developed resistance.

    Does that mean that technology is powerless to fight these plagues? No, only that its progress is an ongoing project, with two steps forward and one step back, and that we cannot rest on our laurels. As we know more, we can push back against the pushback. And so on. The history of technology is to a large extent the history of unintended consequences.

    For thousands of years, people dreamed of having sex without worrying about pregnancy. The unintended consequence of widely-used contraception, however, is the relentless aging of societies. With fewer new births and higher life expectancies, there are now fewer people of working age to support a rising percentage of retirees. But technology is now responding to that consequence, developing to make mature persons more productive citizens (think knee replacements and bypass surgery). Aging is not what it used to be.

    Another peculiar dynamic of technology is its complex relation to science. Can one build a nuclear reactor without understanding nuclear physics? Of course not. But in many cases, the technology came first, the science later. Physics learned more from the steam engine than the steam engine from physics. We don't always realize, however, how much tools and instruments from inventors affected science. The great scientific revolution of Galileo, Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton was to a large extent made possible by the invention of new gadgets such as telescopes, microscopes and vacuum pumps. Nature did not intend us to see microbes or the moons of Jupiter any more than it intended us to make petaflops of calculations. But we saw more of nature through increasingly clever tools and better and better laboratories. Once the scientific insights improved understanding of why things worked the way they did, it was possible to improve them further, thus creating a vast virtuous circle, in which science strengthened technology and technology helped create more science.

    If this kind of story applies at all to technological progress in the future, the instinctive line that comes to mind is "you ain't seen nothin' yet." Modern scientific research relies on tools and instruments that no one could have dreamed of in 1914. There are so many examples that any short list would be arbitrary. But, for instance, in 1953, the discovery of the structure of DNA would not have been possible without the x-ray crystallography provided by Rosalind Franklin. Biologists today can use automatic gene sequencing machines and cell-sorting machines called flow cytometers (one of the many applications of laser technology). Physicists can experiment with the gigantic synchrotrons, which allow them to analyze the molecular structure of almost anything. Astronomers can now choose between the images beamed back from space through the Hubble Space Telescope, the instruments on board unmanned spacecraft touring the planetary system or the adaptive-optics telescopes that automatically correct the distortions introduced by the Earth's atmosphere while looking at the stars.

    Above all, no scientific research today, from English literature to economics to nanochemistry, is even thinkable without computers. The question scientists most frequently ask about computers is not "what do they do," but "how did we ever do anything without them?" The advances in science will make it possible (among other things) to make even more sophisticated instruments, some of them foreseeable just by extrapolating what we already have, some as unimaginable as the Large Hadron Collider would be to Archimedes.

    There is one more aspect of modern research and development that makes it different from anything that came before. In the age of Aristotle, it was still possible for an exceptionally bright individual to know (almost) anything worth knowing. As the body of knowledge expanded, this became impossible given the finite capacity of even the best brains. Scientists began to practice specialization, a division of knowledge, similar in principle to the division of labor so beloved by economists. But the division of knowledge, much like the division of labor, requires organization.

    If society is going to make use of the expert knowledge that has accumulated, it needs to ensure that this knowledge can be stored at low costs and that it's accessible. Pieces of knowledge should be retrievable, not just by other scientists building on its foundations, but by engineers, industrial chemists and entrepreneurs trying to apply the science to practical use. The art of finding ever-smaller needles in ever-larger haystacks is itself a critical technology that determines how fast both science and technology can move. Search technology made a huge step forward when the alphabetical organization of knowledge became widespread in the 18th century with the emergence of alphabetically arranged encyclopedias, technical dictionaries and lexicons, as well as well-organized compilations of classified facts (think of the "Father of Taxonomy" Carl Linnaeus).

    All of these wonderful developments of the past are dwarfed by the storage and search capabilities of our own age. Throughout history, humans had to struggle with costly and perishable information storage. Some storage technology was durable but costly, such as clay tablets. Others, like papyrus, did not last. Paper and movable type, both originating in China, were huge advances, but books and articles were still expensive.

    Today, copying, storing and searching vast amounts of information is, for all practical purposes, free. We no longer deal with kilobytes or megabytes, and even gigabytes seem small potatoes. Instead, terms like petabytes (a million gigabytes) and zettabytes (a million petabytes) are bandied about. Scientists can find needles in data haystacks as large as Montana in a fraction of a second. And if science sometimes still proceeds by "trying every bottle on the shelf" -- as it does in some areas -- it can search many bottles, perhaps even petabottles.

    But as we've seen, technology is a double-edged sword: it solves problems while creating new ones. This is especially true for a technology that controls knowledge. As we are constantly reminded these days, a large body of knowledge can be abused by paranoid or totalitarian governments, overzealous law enforcement agencies and aggressively greedy commercial interests. Equally worrisome, how can users of data tell the wheat from the chaff; how can we distinguish between best-practice (peer-reviewed) science and crackpot pseudoscience, flat-earthers and climate-change deniers? Who will review billions of sites and sources, including many zettabytes of data, for veracity? And who will review the reviewers?

    Many of these issues, it will be said, do not have a "technological fix" -- they need intangibles like human trust. Fair enough -- and yet it appears that without better technology that allows us to discriminate between what is plausible (and perhaps even "true") and what is blatantly misleading and tendentious, such trust will be hard to establish. Much like the war against insects and our efforts to keep the planet's environment people-friendly, this is an ongoing process, in which we may have to run in order to stay in place.

    Unless something goes terribly wrong then, the human race is still in its technological infancy, and we may be moving toward some very different kind of life. Whether we will become "singular" and see our minds merge somehow with megacomputers, as Google's director of engineering Ray Kurzweil and his followers predict, is hard to say. (See more of Making Sen$e's coverage of Kurzweil here and here.)

    MORE FROM RAY KURZWEIL: As Humans and Computers Merge...Immortality?

    As an economist, I am especially interested in what will happen to the nature of work. Technology leads to machines replacing people, and the more capabilities these machines (whether we call them robots or not) have, the less there is for us to do. Some jobs still seem beyond mechanization as of now, but the same was said 50 years ago about many tasks carried out by machines today. If machines make certain jobs redundant, what will people do?

    Part of the answer is that new types of work will emerge that we cannot foresee. A hundred years ago, people were wondering what would happen to the workers who would no longer be able to find work farming. Nobody at the time would have been able to imagine the jobs of today, such as video game programmer or transportation security employee.

    But if the bulk of unpleasant, boring, unhealthy and dangerous work can be done by machines, most people will only work if they want to. In the past, that kind of leisurely life was confined largely to those born into wealth, such as aristocrats. Not all of them lived boring and vapid lives. Some of them wrote novels and music; many others read the novels and listened to the music. Some even were engaged in scientific research, such as the great Robert Boyle (one of the richest men in 17th century England), and a century later, Henry Cavendish, the English chemist and physicist who identified hydrogen gas.

    Aristocratic life in the past depended on servants, and the servants of the future may be robots -- but so what? More worrisome, the aristocratic life depended on a flow of income from usually hard-working and impoverished farmers paying rich landowners. The economic organization and distribution in a future leisure society may need a radical re-thinking. As John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1931 in his "Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren," "With a little more experience we shall use the new-found bounty of nature quite differently from the way in which the rich use it today, and will map out for ourselves a plan of life quite otherwise than theirs."

    But leisure opportunities in the more remote past were largely limited to a few activities, and most working people rarely enjoyed them. In the 20th century, with the shortening of the labor year, early retirement and long weekends, people have more free time, and modern technology has responded with producing a bewildering menu of enjoyable things to do.

    The other sea change that new technology is eventually going to bring about is the demise of the "factory system" that emerged during the Industrial Revolution. For intelligent contemporaries, the rise of "dark, satanic mills," bleak, ugly, noisy buildings in which people worked over 60 hours a week subject to the harsh discipline of the clock, was the most egregious consequence of the Industrial Revolution. Before 1750, there were few places in which people congregated to work together: farmers, artisans, doctors and clergymen worked mostly from home, when they felt like it. The factory introduced stringent controls on the time and space of labor.

    Modern technology is well on the way of liberating more and more work from the tyranny of the rush-hour commute to work. We may not go back to the days in which people worked from home; instead they may work from wherever they happen to be, as anyone can observe during an hour in an airline lounge. Distance may not be quite dead, as Exeter College's Frances Cairncross announced a decade and a half ago, but it is quite ill and its tyranny, one should hope, is near its end.

    What will a future generation think of our technological efforts? During the Middle Ages, nobody knew they were living in the Middle Ages (the term emerged centuries later), and they would have resented a notion that it was an age of unbridled barbarism (it was not). During the early stages of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, few had a notion that a new technological dawn was breaking. So it is hard for someone alive today to imagine what future generations will make of our age. But to judge from progress in the past decades, it seems that the Digital Age may become to the Analog Age what the Iron Age was to the Stone Age. It will not last as long, and there is no way of knowing what will come after. But experience suggests that the metaphor of low-hanging fruit is misleading. Technology creates taller and taller ladders, and the higher-hanging fruits are within reach and may be just as juicy.

    None of this is guaranteed. Lots of things can go wrong. Human history is always the result of a combination of deep impersonal forces, accidents and contingencies. Unintended consequences, stupidity, fear and selfishness often get in the way of making life better for more and more people. Technology alone cannot provide material progress; it's just that without it, all the other ways of economic progress soon tend to fizzle out. Technological progress is perhaps not the cure-all for all human ills, but it beats the alternative.

    Watch Video

    In a 2012 Making Sen$e report, Paul Solman examined the future of American workers.

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

    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JEFFREY BROWN: The defense got its final say today, for the soldier who made a massive disclosure of secret documents.Now the so-called WikiLeaks case goes to a military judge.

    As Army Private 1st Class Bradley Manning arrived at Fort Meade, Md., this morning, a handful of supporters stood by, some wearing T-shirts that said "Truth."Inside, his attorney argued that Manning wanted the world to know the truth of U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.The 25-year-old intelligence analyst stands accused of the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history, releasing more than 700,000 classified documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

    Manning was arrested in May 2010 while serving in Iraq, and charged with 21 offenses.Last February, he pleaded guilty to some of the lesser charges, including misuse of classified information.The court-martial on the remaining offenses began June 3.A conviction of the most serious, aiding the enemy, could send him to prison for life.

    In their closing arguments yesterday, prosecutors argued that Manning was no naive soldier, but a traitor.The defense insisted today he should be seen as a whistle-blower.

    Charlie Savage of The New York Times was in the courtroom for the past two days and joins us now.

    Charlie, welcome back.

    CHARLIE SAVAGE, The New York Times:Hey, Jeff.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So dueling portraits of Bradley Manning are being put forth.Tell us about the Manning you heard presented by the defense today.


    Well, so, as your viewers probably remember, Bradley Manning has already basically confessed to being WikiLeaks' source, and so most of the facts in this case are not in dispute.He is the guy who sent them all those documents about topics that vaulted them into world fame in 2010.

    The question is, how do we understand that?Was he a reckless anarchist and a traitor, as the prosecution said yesterday?And today in its closing arguments, the defense had a very different portrait to show of a young man who they said was naive perhaps, but well-intentioned, a whistle-blower, someone who was concerned about all people and wanted to select document sets that would help spread debate around the world, lead to change for the better.

    JEFFREY BROWN: They also, I gather, were arguing that he was selective in what he put out, right?He could have done a lot more.

    CHARLIE SAVAGE: That's right.

    This is another way in which the basic facts that he released, these 700,000 documents, is not really in dispute, and the question is, how do we understand that?So the prosecution says this is massive, 700,000 documents.He couldn't possibly have even known what he was sending to WikiLeaks.

    Today, we hear from the defense, but this is a guy who had access to millions, probably tens of millions of records, because he had unfettered access to the secret SIPRNet computer system as an all-source intelligence only itself.

    And so if he was really just trying to willy-nilly release everything for the fun of spreading anarchy, as the prosecution says, he would have released far more than 700,000.He would have released millions, and the fact that he didn't, the fact that he stayed away from databases like reports of confidential sources and so forth shows that he was, the defense says, in fact selective.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And the prosecution's version of this obviously quite different, but what were they pointing to, what kind of evidence were they pointing to, to say that, yes, in fact, a lot of national security had been damaged? 

    CHARLIE SAVAGE: Well, for example, one of the two largest document sets are these SigActs, significant activity reports from the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq.

    These are sort of front-line incident reports.This happened, this IED blew up, this small-scale thing happened, and you write up a report if you're in that unit and you file that, and there's hundreds of thousands of these things that present sort of a granular account of what happened in those two wars.And his release of those things brought -- shed new light on the true level of -- or at least higher levels than official estimates of civilian casualties and so forth.

    So he has said and his defense lawyers have said this is a very mild thing to release, because these are historical documents.After a few days, the incident is over, the troops have left, there's nothing in these that's going to cause harm.

    And the prosecution says, no, these things show our tactics, our protocols, how we handle responses to roadside bombings and so forth, and once the enemy can have this massive data set, they can mine that data to figure out what our procedures are and use those against us.

    So, that's another sense in which two different spins on the very same set of facts.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And what about WikiLeaks itself?Because, from the very beginning, of course, how one looks at WikiLeaks has played a big role, whether it's a news organization or what.So how much has that played into the final arguments here?

    CHARLIE SAVAGE: Well, it plays a lot into it, because the most controversial charge facing Bradley Manning is that by giving information to WikiLeaks for publication on the Internet, he indirectly aided the enemy, because when you publish information online, the whole world can see it, and the whole world includes enemies like al-Qaida.

    And that has a lot of implications for investigative journalism, because news organizations, traditional news organizations like mine, The New York Times, also take information and publish it on the Internet.And so if giving information to another entity for publication online is aiding the enemy, it's not clear what the line is between The New York Times and WikiLeaks.

    And so the prosecution was trying to draw that line as well.If he'd given the information to The New York Times or The Guardian or Der Spiegel directly, The Washington Post, that would have a crime, but that's not this.WikiLeaks was in the business of just wholesale bulk posting of documents.That's not journalism.So it's something different, so don't worry, Judge, about the notion that you -- this unprecedented aiding the enemy charge may somehow cripple investigative journalism going forward if this establishes a precedent.

    And the defense didn't want that separation in the judge's mind at all.It emphasized greatly, no, WikiLeaks is the same as The New York Times for legal purposes in this matter.It's the same as The Guardian, it's the same as Der Spiegel.They were engaged in bringing information to light, publishing it for the world to see.The fact that some enemies are also in the world and have Internet connections cannot be enough, the defense says, for the leaker to be guilty of aiding the enemy, because if it is, we're in a whole new world in terms of what investigative journalism can do with its sourcing.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And just briefly, Charlie, that aiding the enemy charge, the judge decided to keep that on the table.What happens next?Has she made clear when she's going to decide this and, in addition to that, what other charges is -- what's the most important charges?

    CHARLIE SAVAGE: Well, as I just mentioned, I think that aiding the enemy charge is the most important one.That is the one that could set a precedent that changes a lot of things going forward in this country.

    Beyond that, the Espionage Act charge and several of those are the most severe ones that he's facing.He also has some theft charges and some other things that are at a more significant level than what he has offered or already pled guilty to sort of unilaterally before this trial began.

    The judge has not said when she will rule.I imagine, having observed her behavior, that she's going to write a lengthy statement of facts and law and findings that she will read aloud when she does deliver the verdict, and that may take her some time, if she hadn't already been working on it.So we will find out.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Charlie Savage of The New York Times, thanks so much.

    CHARLIE SAVAGE: Thank you.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    KWAME HOLMAN: The Cleveland man accused of holding three women captive for 10 years or more agreed to a deal today that avoids the death penalty. Ariel Castro pleaded guilty to more than 900 criminal counts, including kidnapping, rape, and attempted murder.

    Castro told Judge Michael Russo he will accept a sentence of life in prison without parole, plus 1,000 years.

    JUDGE MICHAEL J. RUSSO, Cuyahoga County, Ohio: So, finally, sir, again, do you understand, Mr. Castro, that upon entering this plea, you will never be released from prison?

    ARIEL CASTRO, defendant: I do understand that. And I stated that to Dave -- what's his last name?

    MAN: The agent.

    ARIEL CASTRO: The agent, Dave, at Sex Crimes that I knew I was going to get pretty much the book thrown at me.

    KWAME HOLMAN: The judge then accepted the pleas.

    Afterward, prosecutor Timothy McGinty talked about the outcome.

    TIMOTHY MCGINTY, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, prosecutor: By the terms of this agreement, this man is going to prison for the rest of his life, is never coming out, except nailed in a box or an ash can. He's not stepping out. He's going down broke. He's leaving his assets behind, and that's justice.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Castro's three victims, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight, have remained out of public view. They issued a statement saying they were satisfied with the plea deal. Castro's formal sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 1.

    The prosecution rested today in the federal racketeering trial of James "Whitey" Bulger, the reputed Boston crime boss. He's charged with involvement in 19 murders, extortion, and money laundering. Bulger fled Boston in 1994. He was captured in California two years ago. His defense is expected to begin its case Monday.

    The mother of Trayvon Martin is calling for action to repeal stand your ground self-defense laws. Sybrina Fulton told the National Urban League today she blames Florida's law for the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the man who shot Martin. In an ABC interview, the only non-white juror in the trial said she initially voted to convict on second-degree murder, but finally decided there wasn't enough evidence.

    MADDY, Zimmerman trial juror: I want Trayvon's mom to know that I'm hurting, and if she thought that nobody cared about her son, I could speak for myself -- I do care. I couldn't do anything about it. And I felt like I let a lot of people down. If I would have used my heart, I probably would have went a hung jury.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Another juror has said she believed Zimmerman acted to protect himself after Martin attacked him.

    National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden will not face the death penalty for anything he's done if he returns to the United States. Attorney General Eric Holder gave that assurance to the Russian justice minister in a letter released today. Snowden has spent the past month in the transit zone of a Moscow airport. He's seeking asylum in Russia. He is wanted in the U.S. for espionage.

    In Pakistan, at least 39 people were killed today when a pair of bombs exploded in a busy market. It happened in the Kurram tribal area in the north, bordering Afghanistan. Taliban militants and government forces have battled in the area for years. In addition to the dead, today's attack wounded at least 70 people.

    Police in Spain have arrested the man at the controls of a train that derailed this week, killing at least 78 people. They also began examining the train's black box today to determine why it was traveling at such high speed.

    We have a report from John Ray of Independent Television News.

    JOHN RAY: Face bloodied, shaken and shattered, he is helped from the wreckage of his own train. This is the driver now accused of causing the crash that killed and injured so many of his passengers.

    They are clearing the line and searching for clues. Investigators know it was speed that led to catastrophe. Their inquiry is leading swiftly to just one man. The crash site is now a crime scene and the prime suspect is the driver. Officially, he has been arrested. Unofficially, a very public trial is already under way.

    The man behind the controls, Francisco Jose Garzon, had been driving trains for 10 years. But when it came to the sharp bend near Santiago de Compostela, he was speeding at more than twice the 50-mile-an-hour limit. Seconds after the impact, he radioed: "I have messed it up. I want to die. I have come off the track. What am I going to do?"

    Suspicion has also been aroused by his Facebook page. In March last year, he posted a picture of a speedometer as his train reached 200 kilometers an hour. Alongside, he wrote, "What joy it would be to get level with the police and then go past them, making their speed guns go off."

    The town remains in mourning, where relatives of the missing find small comforts as they wait for confirmation of the worst. More tears will be shed. At the hospital where staff stood in silence to respect the dead, there are many still dangerously ill. The driver lies in the same hospital under police guard.

    KWAME HOLMAN: The president of the railway company said the driver had an exhaustive understanding of the rail line.

    A U.S. major hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors, pleaded not guilty today to federal criminal charges involving insider trading. The plea came a day after the firm was indicted criminally for wire and securities fraud. It allegedly earned millions of dollars on illegal trades over a 10-year period. The head of SAC, billionaire Steven Cohen, is facing civil charges of failing to prevent insider trading.

    The mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner, says he's going to start therapy, amid growing claims he sexually harassed women. Filner apologized today, after several women said he kissed and groped them and put them in headlocks.

    The former Democratic congressman said he will attend two weeks of intensive counseling.

    MAYOR BOB FILNER, D-San Diego, Calif.: I must become a better person. And my hope is that becoming a better person, I put myself in a position to someday be forgiven. However, before I even ask, before I even think of asking for forgiveness, I need to demonstrate that my behavior has changed.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Filner is less than eight months into a four-year term as mayor. He rejected calls for his resignation.

    The Swiss bank UBS will pay $885 million to settle claims that it misrepresented the safety of mortgage-backed securities during the U.S. housing bubble. When the bubble burst, the value of the securities largely evaporated. Under the agreement announced last night, UBS will make payments to the government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    On Wall Street, stocks ended the day about where they began. The Dow Jones industrial average gained three points to close at 15,558. The NASDAQ rose nearly eight points to close at 3,613. For the week, the Dow gained a 0.1 percent; the NASDAQ rose 0.7 percent.

    The Lincoln Memorial in Washington was temporarily closed today after being vandalized. Overnight, someone splashed light green paint across parts of the statue of the nation's 16th president, plus the pedestal and the floor. Crews worked throughout the day to clean off the paint.

     A spokeswoman for the National Park Service said, luckily, the damage is not permanent.

    CAROL JOHNSON, National Park Service: And these national treasures are -- need to be protected. People come from all over the world to see them and, you know, it's just really disturbing that someone would do this. And, you know, I'm not sure what else to, say except the Park Service takes great pride in taking care of these national icons, and anything like this is devastating to us.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Park police are reviewing security camera video from the scene to try to identify the vandal.

    Those are some of the day's major stories.

    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the unrest in North Africa more than two years after the Arab spring. Today, both Islamist and secular forces took to the streets of Tunisia and Egypt. At least two Egyptian protesters died in clashes outside a mosque in the coastal city of Alexandria.

    Margaret Warner has the story.

    MARGARET WARNER: Music and pro-military chants filled Tahrir Square today, and army helicopters buzzed overhead, as tens of thousands of Egyptians turned out to endorse General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the military's ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi on July 3.

    MAN (through translator): I have come to support the decision of Gen. Al-Sisi. What the Muslim Brotherhood has done has stopped us from working. We don't have any money to spend on our families. We have no work.

    MARGARET WARNER: Al-Sisi had urged a huge turnout, saying it would give him a mandate against violence and terrorism. Islamists called their own mass demonstrations too. While both were generally peaceful, fighting led to deaths and injuries in several cities.

    There was also new tension over Morsi's fate. State prosecutors announced they're investigating him on charges of murder and plotting with the Palestinian militant group Hamas in his escape in a mass jailbreak in 2011 that killed 14 prison guards. The Muslim Brotherhood accused the state of looking for an excuse to crack down on its group.

    ESSAM EL-ERIAN, Muslim Brotherhood (through translator): This is an invalid accusation. They want to stir discord in the society and to instigate violence amongst the demonstrators. But we insist that our million-person march is a peaceful protest. It is the right of every Egyptian to express their point of view peacefully and without violence.

    MARGARET WARNER: The charges and countercharges played out as an interim government works on a new constitution and plans for new elections early next year. So far, Islamists have refused to take part.

    For its part, the U.S. has not called what happened in Egypt a coup, which would force a halt to $1.5 billion in aid to that country.

    JEN PSAKI, State Department: I'm not going to give it a one-word name.

    MARGARET WARNER: Today, the State Department confirmed the Obama administration doesn't plan to rule on that question.

    JEN PSAKI: Let me just try to make this important point. The legal decision that was made was that we have reviewed and we do not need to make a public determination on whether or not a coup happened or not.

    MARGARET WARNER: But, Wednesday, the administration did halt delivery of four F-16 fighters jets to the Egyptian air force.

    Meanwhile, Tunisia, birthplace of the so-called Arab spring two-and-a-half years ago, also faced new unrest. Thousands protested overnight after leftist politician Mohamed Brahmi was assassinated. Police say he was shot 14 times with the same pistol that killed another liberal leader in February. Brahmi's widow blamed the elected government.

    MBARKA BRAHMI, widow of Mohamed Brahmi (through translator): This is an episode of state violence. This violence happening in Tunisia is not a simple street fight between two parties. This is a premeditated violence brought about by the government.

    MARGARET WARNER: Tunisia is led by the Islamist Ennahda party, in coalition with other groups. Its supporters marched today, too, defending the government.

    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Margaret is here with me for more.

    So, Margaret, first on Egypt. What -- with the government calling and the generals, the military leadership calling on people to go out on the street, stand up to the Islamists, what are they trying to accomplish?

    MARGARET WARNER: The government and military, Judy, say essentially they're trying to say to the Brotherhood, look, it's over, get with the program, join in this transition that the military's laid out, several months to a new constitution and new elections.

    Instead, what the Brotherhood has been doing almost every day is having demonstrations and rallies against Morsi's ouster, and people have been killed in the last three weeks. I saw the Egyptian ambassador this morning, who said to me: We are trying to send a political message to the Brotherhood that their support has shrunk and they need to come into this process.

    But to people in the Brotherhood and people on the outside, it looks like the military may be looking for a mandate to crack down violently on what they call violence and terrorism. I mean, and state media's been calling the Brotherhood terrorists. So I think we will know frankly in the next few days or weeks which interpretation is right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Brotherhood not backing down at this point.

    MARGARET WARNER: Not -- no sign of it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, meanwhile, military leaders also, as you just reported, conducting a serious investigation into the former president, Mr. Morsi, looking at murder and conspiracy charges. What's that all about?

    MARGARET WARNER: Judy, he's been held incommunicado for three weeks. No one's even known exactly where he was.

    So now they come out with these charges. The case is very complicated. There was a big jailbreak three days after the uprising started. There were actually many prison breaks. And, in this particular one, Morsi, who was in as a political prisoner, was freed.

    And now what's serious about the charges is he's accused of conspiring with a "foreign entity" -- quote, unquote -- namely Hamas, the radical group Hamas from Gaza and elsewhere, to pull this off, with guards killed. What it looks like to critics of the military government is this is the same-old/same-old that you saw from the Mubarak government, which is if they did level charges against political opponents, they were trumped-up charges.

    And so far, no evidence has been offered that Morsi himself was involved in planning this raid.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: This is supposed to be a new government with a new approach.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Tunisia, another part of North Africa, where there's been unrest and now there's this political assassination, what's the situation there?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, Judy, Tunisia seemed much farther along in the path to actually building an inclusive democratic government.

    Just like in Egypt, the Islamists won. This party called Ennahda won the elections, but they reached out and brought in some small secular parties to their government. In fact, the head of Ennahda was here maybe a year or so ago. I went to a small lunch for him, Rached Ghannouchi. And he said: We are going to demonstrate that Islamism and democracy are not incompatible.

    Their problem has been -- or they're accused now of holding on to power too long, being in power longer than they were supposed to, and not cracking down, in fact, coddling the more extreme radical Islamists the Salafis, who've been marauding through universities, attacking women for not wearing the veil, preaching a sort of imposition of their views.

    So this is a very -- and these -- and now, of course, accused of these assassinations, the radical Islamists. So this is a difficult point for Tunisia. The one -- another big difference though with Egypt is that the military reportedly has absolutely no taste to intervene, so that the warring political factions do have to deal with one another.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Tunisia is a place we have not been paying a great deal of attention to, until now, that is.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Margaret, just to pull it all together, to step back, two countries that were in the lead when the Arab spring began, and here we are in 2013, nothing seems resolved, all this violence. I mean, what do you -- how do you -- how should we see this?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, I think there is a connecting thread here. As you said, these were two of the countries, the ones that actually -- with the highest hopes that they could make this transition from dictatorship to democracy.

    They both have a sense of nationhood. They have enough of an educated class and so on. Instead, in both countries, what we're seeing is they have not resolved this fundamental conflict between -- over the role of Islam in government. They have not also been able to resolve how do you bring different points of view into a government.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And why not?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, my theory is that, when you have had people live under oppression for decades and decades, where no rival political parties are, if allowed to exist, not flourish, or in the case of the Brotherhood and the Islamists, they're in jail, in hiding, or in exile, and then suddenly the boot is taken off their neck, they have no experience in politics. They have no experience in governing.

    And it's not in their sort of social, cultural, political DNA to understand that democratic government actually involves give-and-take and trusting, that if your rival happens to be on top, he's not going to use it, he's not going to use the power to impose absolute power, because, after all, that's what they have all experienced.

    I talked to Marwan Muasher today, a former foreign minister of Jordan, a big thinker about moderation in the Arab world, and he said, what connects these two is that the commitment to pluralistic democracy is really skin-deep. Neither the seculars nor the Islamists really believe in inclusion.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Margaret Warner, I know a lot of us struggling to understand all this. This helps a lot. Thank you.

    MARGARET WARNER: Thank you.

    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JEFFREY BROWN: And now another corporate guilty plea in the Gulf oil spill, one that may have important implications for a multibillion-dollar civil trial in Louisiana.

    Hari Sreenivasan has the story.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Soon after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, three companies began a blame game over whose mistakes were most responsible for the environmental disaster. That battle, which continues to play out in court, involved BP, Transocean and Halliburton.

    BP leased the Deepwater Horizon from Transocean. It also owned much of the Macondo well that erupted and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf. Halliburton was contracted to design and build the well.

    One of the key arguments has been about whether Halliburton's work on the well may have led to the blowout that killed 11 people. Yesterday, Halliburton pleaded guilty to destroying evidence in 2010 about test simulations it did with cement in the wake of the accident.

    Paul Barrett has been following this story for Bloomberg Businessweek and fills us in.

    So, Paul, what were the test results that Halliburton allegedly destroyed?

    PAUL BARRETT, Bloomberg Businessweek: Halliburton after the disaster did computer simulations designed to see whether its cement work had been adequate and whether certain further steps that it had suggested to BP, but which BP had rejected, might have made a difference.

    What Halliburton discovered when it did these tests was basically bad news, that its work had not been up to snuff and that these additional steps that might have been taken actually wouldn't have made a difference. That reinforced BP's version of what happened, and so Halliburton has now admitted that it simply destroyed the evidence.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, let's talk a little bit about this cement. How crucial of a role does the cement play in this and what does Halliburton have to do with it?

    PAUL BARRETT: Well, cementing in one of these complex deepwater oil operations is absolutely vital. It's central to the safe operation of the well.

    And you have got cement that secures the entire well apparatus and seals the well on the ocean floor. And without the consistency of the cement being proper and without it being centralized and fixed in the right way, you open yourself up to the danger of disaster. And it now appears, in retrospect, that Halliburton's work was lacking, and that that was at least one of the major contributors to why this particular well, the Macondo well, blew, leading to the explosion of the rig up on the surface and also to the many millions of barrels that flowed from the ocean floor.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. So are BP and Transocean somewhat happier today because there's more blame to go around?

    PAUL BARRETT: Well, in the grim sorting out of liability, certainly the other parties are going to be pleased by the fact that Halliburton has to admit that it was behaving in this obviously unsavory way in the wake of the accident.

    Secondly, they have got to be happy that, in the continuing attempt to parcel out civil liability, that this is not good news for Halliburton and this can support an argument that Halliburton was grossly negligent and can support the argument that we, say, BP or Transocean, we may have made mistakes, which certainly BP has admitted, but our mistakes were not the central, proximate cause for the disaster.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, let's talk a little bit about this $200,000 fine. It seems like a pretty small amount for Halliburton and, not by coincidence, a $55 million contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

    PAUL BARRETT: Right. Yes, well, $200,000 to a company that has annual revenues of $29 billion is obviously pocket change.

    Even $55 million as a so-called voluntary contribution to an organization which will help clean up and secure the Gulf environmentally in the future is not a terrible blow at all. The reason this is significant is because it is admission on Halliburton's part that it was trying to cover something up.

    And that will play out in the continuing civil trial in which the federal government is suing all three companies, and a federal judge in New Orleans is in the extraordinary position of on his own without a jury and without anyone else telling him what to do to apportion the blame among the three companies.

    And if he determines, for example, that BP is merely negligent in an ordinary sense, you will get a small number of billions of dollars that BP will owe. If BP is determined to be grossly negligent, you're talking about $17 billion or more at the high end. And now BP has a stronger argument today than it did a few days ago that, Judge, point the finger of blame at our colleagues over here Halliburton.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what about, finally, in brief, the civil actions, the families of those rig workers that were killed?

    PAUL BARRETT: Most of the civil -- the individual actions in terms of the wrongful death actions for the 11 men who were killed and the dozens of other people who were injured, most have been resolved, and those are never the big-dollar issues. BP has already paid out $25 billion in combination of cleanup and damage claims and faces, as we said a moment ago, perhaps $17 billion or more additional liability.

    Those are the big-dollar numbers, the economic damages and the cleanup costs.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Paul Barrett, Bloomberg Businessweek, thanks so much.

    PAUL BARRETT: My pleasure.

    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JEFFREY BROWN: And next to Japan, where the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been leaking contaminated underground water into the sea more than two years after the earthquake and tsunami.

    Today, officials at Tokyo Electric Power admitted they delayed releasing that information, saying they didn't want to worry the public. Meanwhile, the area around the plant remains deserted.

    But Alex Thomson of Independent Television News got brief and rare access.

    ALEX THOMSON: Few people ever get in to the Fukushima exclusion zone. Nobody gets in without protective equipment and screening.

    Here's the radio to keep in contact, she's telling us. Monitoring equipment for radioactivity comes next, then off, out to the final police checkpoint. And we pull in just inside the exclusion zone to suit up.

    It's becoming a way of life around here. TEPCO, the company that runs the stricken plant, have given us five hours in the zone with a radio to keep in contact with us, let us know when our time's up. The regalia in which I'm now standing, including this, a dosimeter which will give my accumulated radiation dose across the time that we're inside the exclusion zone.

    We have come here with Anthony Ballard, who used to live in Futaba, the town which houses the giant nuclear plant, as did his friend and fellow English teacher Philip Jellyman. Rubble from the quake stays just where it fell, fringed now with weeds. The clock on the main street stopped at 2:46, the second the first tremors shattered this region on March the 11th, 2011.

    The town shrine lurches after the quake. Someone's been back at some point to try and save it with ropes. Good luck messages to the gods for the unluckiest of towns after a quake, a tsunami, and radiation.

    MAN: The students who were at the school that day have never seen their houses.

    ALEX THOMSON: Never seen it since the disaster?

    MAN: Never seen it. They were evacuated very early on March 12, and they have never seen their houses since.

    ALEX THOMSON: Right. Phil, why is that? Why can't the kids come back? What's the reason for that?

    PHILIP JELLYMAN, teacher: It's to do with absorption rates of radiation. Children are more vulnerable to it.

    ALEX THOMSON: Initially, Philip and Anthony were only allowed back here for an hour a month. Now we have five, and in that time, we will accumulate about one microcubit of radiation for every hour we're here.

    MAN: Point-six-seven.

    ALEX THOMSON: Our contamination adviser says that's a safe amount for a few hours, but living here would vastly increase the likelihood of cancers.

    MAN: Returning to Futaba stirs painful memories of a life brutally halted. This is the main street, basically, and just down there on the left is the butcher shop.

    ALEX THOMSON: They don't know what became of the butcher or his family. Actually revisiting his house is not comfortable.

    MAN: OK, so this is my house here.

    ALEX THOMSON: But both Englishmen are now on something of a mission for their Japanese friends.

    ANTHONY BALLARD, teacher: I like to chronicle the town. I like to record it. And some of the people from Futaba have said keep taking pictures.

    ALEX THOMSON: In here, you see why the authorities offered us rat poison, as well as radiation protection equipment, rat, dog, cat and bird feces all over the place. Animals moved in as people moved out. Nature is taking over here, the empty railway tracks turning green.

    At the ticket office, a polite notice: "Sorry we're away. We will be back here soon." That was two-and-a-half years ago.

    Arriving from this platform and, indeed, departing, absolutely no trains, of course, for well over two years now, this place, this station, like the whole town, weirdly frozen in time, right down to the newspapers on the stand on that fateful day.

    And outside the station, the unnerving silence of a radioactive town.

    What do you think, Philip? You think you will ever come back and live here?

    PHILIP JELLYMAN: In this house? No.

    ALEX THOMSON: In this town?

    PHILIP JELLYMAN: In this town? I'm still a young man. I might be able to do it at some point.

    ALEX THOMSON: Would you like to?

    PHILIP JELLYMAN: I would like to. I would like to stay with the town as long as possible, and if one day they were to come back here, I would like to come with them.

    ALEX THOMSON: You have a great attachment, haven't you, to the place and its people?

    Which is why they visit radiation hot spots in the town to gather data.

    MAN: So the last time I was here, it was a little higher than this, actually. And I walked over there and it shot up. So over there should be a hot spot if we walk up here.

    ALEX THOMSON: So literally a few yards make a difference then?

    MAN: A few yards, yes.

    ALEX THOMSON: That's extraordinary, right. OK, well, go and see what happens.

    MAN: So, up here, we're getting eight.

    MAN: Yes.

    MAN: Close to the vegetation. We're getting 16 now. Can you get that, Stuart? Right. So showing 24. Got 24 over here, Richard, 24.

    ALEX THOMSON: So the other dial is showing 24? Twenty-four what?

    MAN: That would be microsieverts, which is -- it's the reading. It's nothing frankly. So these dosimeters here are programmed to first alarm at 100 microsieverts. And that's a warning to get out. And if we stood there for an hour, that's the dosage you would receive.

    ALEX THOMSON: Right. So if you live here, and you -- what would happen?

    MAN: You wouldn't want to live here.

    ALEX THOMSON: But what if you did?

    MAN: Well, there's a chance -- there's obviously the chance of cancers, you have got to think, over time from the exposure to the radiation.

    ALEX THOMSON: It would be dangerous over time, but it's not dangerous for a few minutes?

    MAN: No, not for a few minutes. No, we're fine for a few minutes.

    ALEX THOMSON: But, even so, I think we had better maybe move somewhere else.

    MAN: Indeed.

    ALEX THOMSON: All right.

    Yards away, another alarm goes off, 69 microsieverts, the highest reading we'd encounter in our five hours here.

    A mile or so from town, screened off by thick forests and with armed guards, Fukushima-Daiichi looms, broken. Over 300,000 tons of contaminated water are already here. Tons more need storing everyday as they struggle to keep the reactors cool.

    The damage to the building is obvious, the plant owners dragged kicking and screaming to tell the truth of what's still going on here. We stand a few hundred yards up the coast from the stricken plant. And in the past few days, the company that runs it has been forced to admit that radioactivity is now leaking into the Pacific. They don't know where it's coming from.

    Not only that. Inspectors in the past few days have found hot spots of radioactive cesium, the levels of which were the highest recorded since the disaster happened more than two years ago. Drive past the slip road to the plant itself and the alarms go off again.

    So we head back through town under the archway of hope, which still reads, "Nuclear Power, Our Bright Future." 

    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Welcome, gentlemen.That was a sobering report we just saw.

    But let's turn, Mark, to what the president did this week.He's kicking off a campaign to refocus attention on the economy, talk about how many people still don't have jobs.Republicans immediately jumped on it, said it's not real.How do you interpret what he's trying to do?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, I thought the president gave a very detailed and coherent analysis, diagnosis of what the problems are in the country, and in particular that income inequality and the growing inequality of the country itself, and made the argument, I thought quite well, that it's not only bad ethics, but it's bad economics when the middle class is buffeted and shrinking, because a growing, vibrant middle class is necessary for growing the economy of the country.

    I think, on the prescription side, there wasn't anything as fresh and new and cosmic, perhaps, as you would have hoped.But I don't know if there is.I haven't heard it.And certainly I have not heard it from the Republicans.But, you know, and I have to be honest.From the middle out is as uninspiring a slogan -- I mean, power to the people, the people vs. privilege, common ground for common sense, there's a lot of things -- you keep the big boys honest.

    But building from the middle out sounded like a personal trainer.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David, the White House says he is going to keep at this message, that we're going to hear a lot more from him about this.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, they plan eight weeks of this.

    And I agree that what's nice is they're moving from the cyclical debate we have been having over for the past five or six years, which is stimulus vs. austerity, to a structural debate.And he's talking about the big issues, globalization, technological change, widening inequality, all that kind of stuff.

    And I'm glad we're having that debate.I agree with Mark.The prescriptions are -- they're not bad.They're just normal.And so they're infrastructure spending, raising the minimum wage, improving education.That's all worthy.They're incommensurate with the size of the problems.

    We have had decades where men are just dropping out of the labor force, widening inequality.These are gigantic problems.And where I wish he would go and what would be creative and I think take an interesting turn in the debate is to combine the economics and the social.

    So say you're a young woman, you're working in a factory, you're making $9 an hour, you want the job that will get you to $14 or $20 an hour.It turns out you actually need to go back to school and get some technical skills.But say you're a single mom with a kid.You can't do that.

    And so this is the way the social and the economic interact in real lives.And if you're that kid, your chances of dropping out of the labor force without a dad in the home are much higher.So having a debate where we talk about some of the social problems, the decline in marriage, some of the economic problems and how they interact, that seems to me where the debate is among economists and the academy.It would be great to see Obama merge those two.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Are there other solutions the president should be putting out there?

    MARK SHIELDS: No, I think his solutions are all sense.

    But they are -- they're not new.I mean, that's the problem, and that gives Speaker Boehner and the others a chance to take a pot shot at it.But it is -- it's an enormous -- I mean, increasing the minimum wage is good.Early childhood education.They're all good.Job training.Those are all good ideas and I think they're all important.

    But I -- I don't think -- it's not, let's march.And it's tough, Judy.Let's be very blunt about it.It's tough for a president in this environment, 24/7, all the rest of it, for a presidential speech to break through.I mean, you know, it really is.It isn't like when I was young or even when David was young.

    MARK SHIELDS: When a president spoke, I mean, it kind of commanded the attention of the nation.And I think it's tough to do that.

    DAVID BROOKS: I remember when I was young and George W. Bush was speaking.


    MARK SHIELDS: That's right, that's right, as opposed to Woodrow Wilson.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: But is it a matter of not having a solution or of not getting cooperation from the other party?Where -- where is the -- what's missing?

    DAVID BROOKS:  Yes.Well, I don't blame the president for this.

    If you go back to -- there are moments of big economic transitions.So the progressive era in the 19th century, beginning in the 20th was a similar moment of transition.And you had this concentration of power in certain trusts and corporations.

    It took the progressive movement really to come up with an intellectual solution to that, which turned into progressivism, a whole chain of legislation.We're at similar moment with these big shifts in technology and globalization.I wouldn't say there's been a movement like the progressive movement which even has a solution, which has an adequate description.

    And so it's tough to ask a president and his staff to come up with that which economists and academics have not done.And part of the problem, as I tried to indicate earlier, it's not simply an economic problem.It's a social problem.It has to do with social structures and family structures.

    So, until those answers come up from the world of ideas, it's really hard for a president to come up with them on his own.He's too busy.

    MARK SHIELDS:  And, look, being very blunt, the other side would prefer to say more often than not, oh, it's all a cultural problem.It's all morality.

    And it isn't.There's a -- the median family income, household income in this country is 9 percent below what it was in 1999.And that was the highest it's ever been.And we're just seeing a greater concentration in the top 1 percent.This is the inequality.

    But what we have learned is the top 1 percent can't drive the economy and the national economy without a middle class that is vital and vibrant and growing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just one thing I noted.The president did take some shots at the Republicans.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: He said they're not cooperating.And I happened to be interviewing the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, this week...

    MARK SHIELDS:  I saw that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: ... who said that he's optimistic that the mainstream Republicans are going to start cooperating, that they're just -- they're going to be able to work through their difficulties with the tea party.

    How do you see that?

    DAVID BROOKS: Right.I wouldn't -- he was quite optimistic, and maybe that's his job and he wants to talk himself into being -- waking up in the morning and going into the Senate.

    I would be moderately or a little optimistic.I do think there has been a recoil in the Senate among Senate Republicans away from what's happening in the House and away from a little of the direction the Senate Republicans were moving in, in more of a House, more tea party direction.

    I think some of the conservative Republicans who are not tea party, are not inclined to be that confrontational do want to preserve what the Senate is, which is a more bipartisan, a little more conversational body.And so I do think they are pulling back from some of the trajectory it was in.And there's a lot more cooperation than there was probably two years ago.

    The absence of people like Jim DeMint probably helps.And so I do think there's some cause for at least a little optimism.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And it is different over in the House.


    But it's interesting.This week, Mark, you have the conservative -- a conservative congressman, Justin Amash from Michigan, leading the charge to cut back on the NSA surveillance, the sweeping spying or collection of phone data, joined by a lot of Democrats, so that he was almost successful...

    MARK SHIELDS:  He was.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: ... with that amendment to...

    MARK SHIELDS: Just one P.S. on David's thing.I'm not optimistic.

    I mean, 70 percent of the Republicans in the Senate voted against the immigration plan.And David's right that there are rumblings, but, as long as they have got the House caucus, where the speaker says he won't bring anything out without a majority of the caucus voting for it, that means 117 Republican House members hold a veto over anything that's going to happen.

    So I think the optimism of David and Leader Reid, you know, is wonderful and admirable, but I think it may be a little unrealistic.This was a phenomenal moment.Justin Amash is considered unpopular in his own caucus.The leadership has gone after him.And here he is a 33-year-old outlier from Michigan, and he brings this up.

    And who's he stand shoulder to shoulder with?John Conyers, the octogenarian liberal Democrat from Detroit.And it not only shows the division of the House.It shows the division within the two parties, which I thought was fascinating.I thought it was a good debate.It should have been longer.

    But, Judy, it's -- there's a catch-22 at work here.And that is the president and all -- everyone says, we need a debate about this NSA thing.But we can't debate it because that would compromise our national security.

    It's a little bit like saying, you can have this job if you get some experience, but you can't get experience unless you can get this job.And I think this was healthy.And I think it was encouraging.And I think it was an interesting debate.

    Nancy Pelosi saved the White House's bacon.She saved...

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Because the amendment almost -- almost passed.

    MARK SHIELDS: It almost passed.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It was, what, 205-217.

    MARK SHIELDS:  Yes, 94 Republicans.

    DAVID BROOKS: Right.

    And I sort of have some sympathy.I do think we need to re-debate what the national security state has been up to.You have got a lot of people who have no incentive to compromise in their desire to prevent another terrorist attack.And they're willing to do incredibly silly things sometimes in order to prevent that.

    And so I do think there has to be some balance.What I would like to see is a debate from the authority side.What you see is this movement on both parties and really in the culture at large, a movement toward libertarianism.And this is bred by the Internet.It's bred by a lot of things, distrust of authority, distrust of anything that is secret, and say we distrust those guys.

    And I think, if you're fighting a war, if you're in the world, you do need authority structures.You do need to trust people.And -- but having a debate about where we should trust and where we should not trust, I give them credit for at least starting that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But it says a lot about where Congress is in both political parties on this.

    MARK SHIELDS:  I'm a big fan of Bob Mueller, the FBI retiring director, but you can see the loss of confidence in the FBI in the Whitey Bulger case, what we're seeing in Boston.

    The FBI was a criminal enterprise in that case.They were collaborators.So the skepticism and even the cynicism is based in fact as well.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, though I do think it exaggerates it.

    Most federal workers are really quite impressive and are doing quite good work.And the debate that, you know, Chris Christie may have with Rand Paul, where he said, you know, there is libertarianism on the...

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The governor of New Jersey.

    DAVID BROOKS:  The governor of New Jersey.

    I want him to run against Rand Paul and have that debate.

    MARK SHIELDS: I agree, but we're talking about secrecy here.

    And I'll tell you, secrecy is narcotic.If I -- the more information I have that you don't have, it is narcotic to the person who holds it.

    DAVID BROOKS:  Well...

    MARK SHIELDS:  And that's not liberal.That's not conservative.That's human nature.And that's why there has to be a check and a debate about it.

    DAVID BROOKS:  That's true, but you can't fight a war without secrecy.And you probably can't do a lot of things in government without secrecy.

    And the more transparency we have had, the less trust in government we have had over the last 40 years.

    MARK SHIELDS: Oh, I could not disagree with you more about the transparency and openness.

    I think we don't have it in our -- the financing of our campaigns.That contributes to the paranoia and the distrust.We don't have it where the money comes from.And -- go ahead.Excuse me.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right.

    DAVID BROOKS:  Well, one quick -- I have to quote my friend Bill Galston from the Brookings Institution that the government should have some secrecy for the same reason middle-aged people should wear clothes.You don't want to see all that stuff.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I don't know what I can say after that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But I do -- I was going to ask you very quickly about Anthony Weiner, but we're just not going to go there.

    I'm going ask you both to comment on something really kind of wonderful.It's a -- I want to show you a picture that was released this week from Kennebunkport, Me.It's former President George H.W. Bush, who shaved his head in solidarity with the 2-year-old son of one of the agents in his Secret Service detail.

    This young man has leukemia.He's being treated.He's lost his hair.And we know that President and Mrs. Bush lost a 4-year-old daughter, I think, 50-some years ago.

    MARK SHIELDS:  Sixty.Sixty.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sixty years ago.

    Look at that.I mean, what do you -- there's nothing more to say, other than that is an amazing man and an amazing picture.

    MARK SHIELDS: He's an exceptional man.

    And Tom Rosshirt, who was a speechwriter for President Clinton, made the long trip on Air Force One and interviewed the navigator across the Pacific.And he asked him -- in the course of it, he said, of all the presidents, which one did you like?Oh, that's no question, George H.W. Bush.He said, he knew every one of us.He knew our children's names.That's who he was.And that's how special he is.And those are his values.

    DAVID BROOKS:  Yes, he is an exceptional man.

    But we always emphasize the negative in this business, but all those other people also shaved their heads.

    MARK SHIELDS:  That's right.

    DAVID BROOKS:  And you go to towns, and people do that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Thank you both, David and Mark.

    MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

    0 0

    Watch Video

    Political analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks chat with Hari Sreenivasan in the NewsHour newsroom.

    Welcome back to the Doubleheader. You remember us? This is the space where talk about the sport of politics and politics of sport with syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Today, we take a high level view of the Filner Files (see our friends at KPBS for excellent coverage of what is happening to the San Diego mayor), what's happening in New York with Anthony Weiner's campaign, and the Mets' drubbing of the Washington Nationals.

    Mark referenced a particularly moving image of former President George H.W. Bush in a classy act of solidarity with the Leukemia stricken son of one of his secret service agents. Here's a nice shot of him with 2-year-old Patrick.

    Have a great weekend.

    Cindy Huang shot this video. You can subscribe to Hari on Facebook, Google Plus and on Twitter @Hari.

    Support Your Local PBS Station

    0 0

    Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images.

    The Morning Line

    "I'll worry about my legacy later or I'll let historians worry about my legacy."

    President Barack Obama struck a defiant tone in an interview published this weekend in the New York Times, insisting he will keep at his economic push and highlighting Republican roadblocks on Capitol Hill. But he also indicated that compromise seems possible.

    Following a speech on the topic in Illinois, the president conducted a 40-minute interview with Jackie Calmes and Michael Shear, suggesting his economic prescriptions will work over time.

    "[W]hat I want to make sure everybody in Washington is obsessed with is how are we growing the economy, how are we increasing middle-class incomes and middle-class wages, and increasing middle-class security," Mr. Obama said. "And if we're not talking about that, then we're talking about the wrong thing. And if our debates around the budget don't have that in mind, then we've got the wrong focus."

    The reporters pressed him on how he can move his agenda given a divided Congress and ongoing feuds with the House GOP. Mr. Obama echoed hopeful-sounding comments Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made last week on the NewsHour.

    The president said:

    [W]e also have a number of very thoughtful and sensible Republicans over in the Senate who have said that we should not play brinksmanship, that we should come up with a long-term plan. I met with a couple of House Republicans over the last several weeks who would like to see that happen. They're not the loudest voices in the room at the moment.

    And part of what I'd like to see over the next several weeks is, if we're having a conversation that's framed as how are we growing the economy, how are we strengthening the middle class, how are we putting people back to work, how are we making college more affordable, how are we bringing manufacturing back -- the answer to those questions I think force a different result than if we are constantly asking ourselves how can we cut the deficit more, faster, sooner.

    Mr. Obama added that some of his conversations with conservative Republicans about the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester and the need for deficit reduction have been encouraging. His focus will remain on long-term investments, he said.

    "I've been in Washington long enough now to know that if once a week I'm not talking about jobs, the economy, and the middle class, then all manner of distraction fills the void," Mr. Obama said.

    Mr. Obama also weighed in on his health care law's implementation and the Keystone pipeline.

    Congress has just a few days left before a long recess, and it's unlikely any of these fiscal fights will be resolved before members head back to their homes. With Mr. Obama pledging to keep up the pressure, expect spending to be on the top of the agenda when lawmakers return to Washington.

    Editor's note: For the rest of the summer, the Morning Line will only publish once a week, on Mondays. Visit our home page for news and show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.


    The president will have lunch with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the White House on Monday.

    The New York Times' Jonathan Weisman writes that momentum is building among lawmakers in both parties to rein in the National Security Agency's surveillance activities.

    More than 150 House Democrats sent a letter to the president on Friday calling on him to "work with Congress to examine the operations of the NSA and consider amendments to existing law that strengthen the balance between our national security and Americans' civil liberties."

    The Washington Post's David Fahrenthold profiles Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who has been an outspoken critic of the NSA's practices for years.

    New York GOP Rep. Peter King criticized the national security views of Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday, comparing the Kentucky Republican to 1972 Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern. "This is the anti-war, left-wing Democrats of the 1960s that nominated George McGovern and destroyed their party for almost 20 years," King told CNN. "I don't want that to happen to our party."

    Anthony Weiner said Sunday he would remain in the New York City mayor's race despite the resignation of his campaign manager following new revelations last week that the former Democratic congressman had continued to send sexually explicit messages to women even after leaving office in 2011.

    Christine Quinn, one of Weiner's rivals in the race, said during a Sunday appearance on "Meet the Press" that Weiner was not qualified to lead the city.

    The Denver Post reports on an immigration forum that GOP Rep. Mike Coffman attended Sunday in Aurora, Colo.

    Two Senate Democrats will hold an immigration forum Friday in the home district of Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, the Associated Press reports. The aim is to pressure King following remarks he made about young immigrants.

    The House Ethics Committee announced it will investigate retiring Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota for possible campaign finance violations.

    Democratic San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is taking a few weeks off for therapy following multiple accusations of sexual harassment. He's under pressure to resign, with top Democrats including Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz suggesting he leave office.

    The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald will testify on Capitol Hill Wednesday about leaks and surveillance programs.

    The wife of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell spent thousands of dollars from her husband's Political Action Committee on clothing and other items, the Washington Post's Laura Vozzella reported over the weekend.

    The Union Leader editorializes against Gov. Chris Christie's stance on surveillance.

    In a Washington Post essay, Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz opened up about the sweet and sad experience of bringing her father's ashes home from Israel after his untimely death.

    NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

    Judy Woodruff looks at the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Mark Shields and David Brooks analyzed the week's news. Mark suggested the president's "middle out" slogan makes him sound like a personal trainer.

    Watch here or below:

    Watch Video

    Hari Sreenivasan was back in the newsroom for the Doubleheader with Mark and David Friday. They discussed misbehaving politicos. Watch here or below: Watch Video

    Is the world running out of innovations that revolutionize our everyday lives? Joel Mokyr picks apart technopessimism on Making Sen$e.


    Psyched @DavidChalian is joining the @CNN Team as supervising producer for Crossfire. Great guy, great journalist.

    — Mark Preston (@PrestonCNN) July 29, 2013

    Want to know what Paul Ryan is up against on immigration? Read the 2,000 comments on this story: http://t.co/dEvCwEspBU

    — Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) July 29, 2013

    Pope Francis, asked on papal plane about gays, tells reporters: "Who am I to judge them if they're seeking the Lord in good faith?"

    — Rachel Donadio -- NYT (@RachelDonadio) July 29, 2013

    ABOARD THE PAPAL AIRCRAFT is kind of an amazing dateline.

    — Lizzie O'Leary (@lizzieohreally) July 29, 2013

    Getting my pitching arm ready for tomorrow, when I get to throw out the first ball at the Nats game. #CoolJobPerk#NatsVsMets#Natitude

    — Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) July 26, 2013

    By time you finish this sentence, Halliburton will generate enough revenue to pay fine for destroying evidence in history's worst oil spill.

    — Robert Reich (@RBReich) July 26, 2013

    Simone Pathe contributed to this report.

    For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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

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

    Follow the politics team on Twitter:

    Follow @cbellantoni

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

    Support Your Local PBS Station


    0 0

    The Affordable Care Act says that insurance companies "shall not discriminate" against any state-licensed health provider, which could lead to better coverage of chiropractic, homeopathic and naturopathic care. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

    Jane Guiltinan said the husbands are usually the stubborn ones.

    When her regular patients, often married women, bring their spouses to the Bastyr Center for Natural Health to try her approach to care, the men are often skeptical of the treatment plan -- a mix of herbal remedies, lifestyle changes and sometimes, conventional medicine.

    After 31 years of practice, Guiltinan, a naturopathic physician, said it is not uncommon for health providers without the usual nurse or doctor background to confront patients' doubts. "I think it's a matter of education and cultural change," she said.

    As for the husbands -- they often come around, Guiltinan said, but only after they see that her treatments solve their problems.

    Complementary and alternative medicine -- a term that encompasses meditation, acupuncture, chiropractic care and homeopathic treatment, among other things -- has become increasingly popular. About four in 10 adults (and one in nine children) in the U.S. are using some form of alternative medicine, according to the National Institutes of Health.

    And with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the field could make even more headway in the mainstream health care system. That is, unless the fine print -- in state legislation and insurance plans -- falls short because of unclear language and insufficient oversight.

    One clause of the health law in particular -- Section 2706 -- is widely discussed in the alternative medicine community because it requires that insurance companies "shall not discriminate" against any health provider with a state-recognized license. That means a licensed chiropractor treating a patient for back pain, for instance, must be reimbursed the same as medical doctors. In addition, nods to alternative medicine are threaded through other parts of the law in sections on wellness, prevention and research.

    "It's time that our health care system takes an integrative approach ... whether conventional or alternative," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who authored the anti-discrimination provision, in an e-mail. "Patients want good outcomes with good value, and complementary and alternative therapies can provide both."

    The federal government has, in recent years, tapped providers like Guiltinan, who is also the dean at the Bastyr University College of Naturopathic Medicine, to help advise the federal government and implement legislation that could affect the way they are paid and their disciplines are incorporated into the health care continuum. In 2012, Guiltinan, based in Kenmore, Wash., was appointed to the advisory council of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health.

    Proving that alternative medicine has real, measurable benefits has been key to increasing its role in the system, said John Weeks, editor of the Integrator Blog, an online publication for the alternative medicine community. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, created by the health law, is funding studies on alternative medicine treatments to determine their effectiveness.

    Weeks said both lawmakers and the general public will soon have access to that research, including the amount of money saved by integrating other forms of medicine into the current health system.

    But the challenges of introducing alternative care don't stop with science.

    Because under the health care law each state defines its essential benefits plan -- what is covered by insurance -- somewhat differently, the language concerning alternative medicine has to be very specific in terms of who gets paid and for what kinds of treatment, said Deborah Senn, the former insurance commissioner in Washington and an advocate for alternative medicine coverage.

    She pointed out that California excluded coverage for chiropractic care in its essential benefits plan, requiring patients to pay out of pocket for their treatment. Senn thinks the move was most likely an oversight and an unfavorable one for the profession. Four other states -- Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon and Utah -- ruled the same way in the past year.

    "That's just an outright violation of the law," she said, referring to the ACA clause.

    Colorado and Oregon are in the process of changing that ruling to allow chiropractic care to be covered, according to researchers at Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care.

    Some states, like Washington, are ahead of the rest of the country in embracing alternative practitioners. The Bastyr University system, where Guiltinan works, treats 35,000 patients a year with naturopathic medicine. Sixty percent of the patients billed insurance companies for coverage.

    Guiltinan said a change in the system is not only a boon for alternative medicine doctors, but helps families of all income levels access care normally limited to out-of-pocket payment. That's why some alternative medicine aficianados like Rohit Kumar are hoping the law will increase the ability of his family -- and the larger community - to obtain this kind of care.

    Kumar, a 26-year-old business owner in Los Angeles, said his parents and brothers have always used herbs and certain foods when they get sick, and regularly see a local naturopath and herbalist. He's only used antibiotics once, he says, when he caught dengue fever on a trip to India.

    While the Kumar family pays for any treatments they need with cash -- the only payment both alternative providers accept -- they also pay for a high-deductible health plan every month to cover emergencies, like when his brother recently broke his arm falling off a bike.

    Paying for a conventional health care plan and maintaining their philosophy of wellness is not cheap.

    "We pay a ridiculous amount of money every month," Kumar said of the high-deductible insurance. "And none of it goes toward any type of medicine we believe in."

    Even so, he said the family will continue to practice a lifestyle that values wellness achieved without a prescription -- a philosophy that Guiltinan also adopted in her practice.

    As a young medical technician in a San Francisco hospital, she decided that the traditional medical system was geared more toward managing diseases and symptoms rather than prevention. Naturopathic medicine, on the other hand, seemed to fit her idea of how a doctor could address the root cause of illness.

    "The body has an innate ability for healing, but we get in its way," Guiltinan said. "Health is more than the absence of disease."

    Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

    Support Your Local PBS Station

    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JEFFREY BROWN: The verdict was not guilty today on the one charge that could have sent Private 1st Class Bradley Manning to prison for life.

    After a trial at Fort Meade, Maryland though, he was convicted of numerous lesser crimes involving the release of more than 700,000 classified documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. The verdicts ended Manning's two-month court-martial and came more than three years after his disclosures rocked the U.S. government.

    The former Army intelligence analyst listened attentively as the judge, Colonel Denise Lind, acquitted him of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, usually reserved for direct provision of assistance of an enemy. She also found him not guilty of one other espionage charge.

    But the judge convicted Manning of 19 other charges, including six counts under the Espionage Act, five counts of stealing U.S. government property, namely, the databases that contained files he disclosed, and computer fraud.

    Defense attorney David Coombs hailed the acquittal on aiding the enemy, saying, "Today is a good day, but Bradley is by no means out of the fire."

    His supporters have argued Manning is a whistle-blower who exposed official malfeasance for the public good.

    MAN: Roger. Engage.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Among the most incendiary of his disclosures, a 2007 video that WikiLeaks called collateral murder. It showed the crew of a U.S. helicopter gunship in Iraq it machine-gunned a group of men suspected of being Iraqi insurgents. Instead, those killed included a Reuters News Service cameraman and his driver.

    The 25-year-old Manning had already pleaded guilty to several lesser charges. The sentencing phase on today's convictions begins tomorrow and the penalty could add up to 136 years in prison.

    And we will have more on the Manning verdict after the other news. 

    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    KWAME HOLMAN: Pakistan's leaders faced new questions today about their ability to safeguard the country after Taliban fighters stormed a prison and freed more than 250 inmates.

    We have a report narrated by Kylie Morris of Independent Television News.

    KYLIE MORRIS: Local television excitedly relayed glimpses of what was a sophisticated midnight attack by jihadis on the prison, so sophisticated that booby traps were set to thwart reinforcement who came to the aid of the embattled few guarding it.

    An injured police sergeant emblematic of the fight that was lost to what is thought to have been dozens of Pakistan Taliban. In the full light of morning, survivors gave vivid detail of the onslaught.

    HIDAYAT ULLAH, injured policeman (through translator):When they started shooting, we parked up in front of the main gate in an armored vehicle to fight back. Then the gate exploded. We opened fire. Then our vehicle was hit by a rocket launcher or a mortar. Two of my men were killed on the shot.

    KYLIE MORRIS: Six policemen died in all, as well as a number of Shiite Muslim prisoners unfortunate enough to have been identified by the Sunni fighters.

    Rather than liberation, they faced execution, their throats slit. But behind these walls, the real objective was fellow Talib fighters held prisoner. Eyewitnesses spoke of some attackers with loud hailers calling out the names of those they most sought to liberate. But KPK province had been warned with suggestions the threat of a jailbreak was known to the authorities in the days before the attack. Still, they had no answer when the Talib fighters wearing police uniforms roared out of the darkness on motorbikes.

    The Pakistan jailbreaks repeat a pattern established in Yemen, Libya, and most recently Iraq. Only last week, al-Qaida claimed responsibility for an assault that led to a mass breakout of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

    KWAME HOLMAN: The leader of the Pakistani province where last night's attack took place said he'd been told this week that prison security was good. He vowed to investigate, and said, heads will roll; no one will be spared.

    Israelis and Palestinians have agreed to try to work out a final status peace agreement within nine months. Secretary of State John Kerry gave that word today, after two days of initial talks in Washington. The lead negotiators for each side shook hands after the first talks in nearly three years, and Kerry said he's convinced peace is possible.

    SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: While I understand the skepticism, I don't share it and I don't think we have time for it. I firmly believe the leaders, the negotiators and citizens invested in this effort can make peace for one simple reason, because they must. A viable two-state solution is the only way this conflict can end, and there is not much time to achieve it, and there is no other alternative.

    KWAME HOLMAN: The two sides will hold substantive talks again some time in the next two weeks, either in Israel or the West Bank. The military group Hamas, which rules in Gaza, has refused to join the negotiations.

    In Egypt, the European Union's foreign policy chief was allowed to meet with ousted President Mohammed Morsi at an undisclosed location. Catherine Ashton was the first outside official to see Morsi since the military forced him from power earlier this month. Ashton said Morsi is well and that they had an open and frank discussion.

    FOREIGN MINSITER CATHERINE ASHTON, European Union: We talked for two hours. We talked in-depth. He has access to information in terms of TV, newspapers. So, we were able to talk about the situation. And we were able to talk about the need to move forward.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Ashton also met with the country's interim leaders, including the army chief, as well as officials of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood. Also today, France called for Morsi to be released from custody.

    The driver of the train in last week's deadly crash in Spain was talking on the phone when the train derailed, killing 79 people. Investigators said today he had taken a call from a railroad controller, and apparently was consulting a document. They also reported the train was doing 95 miles an hour, nearly twice the speed limit. The findings were taken from the train's black box recorders.

    President Obama today tried to rally support for a plan to cut corporate tax rates if Republicans agree to spend more on job creation. It was his latest bid to get action on his economic policy initiatives.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I came here to offer a framework that might help break through some of the political logjam in Washington.

    KWAME HOLMAN: The backdrop was a sprawling distribution facility for Amazon.com in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The company announced Monday it's adding 7,000 jobs. The president said it's time to create even more jobs by cutting corporate tax rates to 28 percent from the current 35 percent. At the same time, he'd spend more on public works and other jobs programs paid for by one-time changes in the tax laws.

    BARACK OBAMA: I'm willing to work with Republicans on reforming our corporate tax code, as long as we use the money from transitioning to a simpler tax system for a significant investment in creating middle class jobs.

    BARACK OBAMA: That's the deal. Now it's time for Republicans to lay out their ideas.

    BARACK OBAMA: If they have got a better plan to bring back more manufacturing jobs here to Tennessee and around the country, then let me know. I want to hear them.

    KWAME HOLMAN: But Senate Republicans complained Mr. Obama has given up on the idea of overhauling both corporate and individual tax rates.

    SEN. PAT TOOMEY, R-Penn.: Sometimes, it just seems that this administration never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to grow this economy.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey said he hoped for an agreement to simplify the overall tax code.

    PAT TOOMEY: I thought we might be able to make some progress on that. I'm losing confidence that we can when Senator Reid insists that tax reform has to start at about a trillion dollars of tax increases and the president says today that even corporate tax reform, the part where I thought we were close to a consensus, has to be another opportunity to raise taxes on the American people.

    KWAME HOLMAN: The opening bids on tax action come as Congress makes ready to start a five-week summer recess on Friday.

    There was strong new evidence today of a recovering housing market. The Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller index showed home prices in May surged more than 12 percent from the same month last year. It's the largest gain since March of 2006.

    But on Wall Street, stocks mostly marked time, ahead of tomorrow's policy statement from the Federal Reserve. The Dow Jones industrial average lost one point to close at 15,520. The NASDAQ rose 17 points to close at 3,616.

    The Senate moved this evening to confirm five presidential nominations to the National Labor Relations Board. The independent agency helps resolve labor disputes, but delaying tactics in the Senate have stalled confirmations of new members for years. The impasse was resolved in a deal two weeks ago to allow votes on nominees for executive branch positions.

    Those are some of the day's major stories.


older | 1 | .... | 250 | 251 | (Page 252) | 253 | 254 | .... | 1175 | newer