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

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The United States insisted today it is undeniable that Syria's rulers gassed their own people last week just outside Damascus. That was coupled with new warnings of repercussions yet to come.

    A warning: Some of the images in this report may be disturbing.

    SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: Make no mistake. President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: From Secretary of State John Kerry, a warning that the Syrian government must answer for using chemical weapons and he insisted there is no doubt that it happened.

    JOHN KERRY: The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. For five days, the Syrian regime refused to allow the U.N. investigators access to the site of the attack that would allegedly exonerate them. Instead, it attacked the area further, shelling it and systematically destroying evidence. That is not the behavior of a government that has nothing to hide.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Kerry spoke hours after a U.N. vehicles rolled out of a Damascus hotel's garage, braving sniper fire along the way to get to a West Nile suburb. The team finally made it to a makeshift hospital in a rebel-held area, where they met with doctors and took blood and tissue samples from survivors.

    Local officials said it all came too late, since those killed have already been buried. But in an interview with a Russian newspaper, Syrian President Bashar Assad denied using chemical weapons. He said: "This is nonsense. First, they level the accusations and only then they start collecting evidence."

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon rejected Syrian denials speaking in Seoul, South Korea.

    BAN KI-MOON, United Nations: We have all seen the horrifying images on our television screens and through social media. Clearly, this was a major and terrible incident. We owe it to the families of the victims to act.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, U.S. Navy destroyers and fighter jets were positioned in the Mediterranean region amid growing talk of U.S. military action. Over the weekend, President Obama met with his military and national security advisers to hash out a response.

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel weighed in today as he visited Indonesia.

    DEFENSE SECRETARY CHUCK HAGEL: If there is any action taken, it will be in concert with the international community and within the framework of legal justification.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Republican Senator John McCain led congressional calls for a strong response during a trip to South Korea.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-Ariz.: If the United States stands by and doesn't take very serious action, not just launching some cruise missiles, then, again, our credibility in the world is diminished even more, if there's any left.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Other lawmakers were more cautious in their tone.

    Democratic Senator Jack Reed on CBS' Face the Nation yesterday:

    SEN. JACK REED, D-R.I.: I think we can't let ourselves get into a situation where this becomes a springboard for general military operations in Syria to try to change the dynamic. That dynamic is going to be, long term, very difficult and ultimately established and settled by the Syrians.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Overseas, Australia's prime minister joined other leaders in pressing for action.

    PRIME MINSTER KEVIN RUDD, Australia: We will do all within our power, all within our power to act with the international community to bring those responsible to justice.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Jerusalem, the French foreign minister said there's been no decision on military intervention, but:

    LAURENT FABIUS, French Foreign Minister (through interpreter): We must respond strongly to these events. All the leaders must reach the appropriate response, but it is unthinkable that once what happened is proven and those responsible identified, there will not be a strong response by the international community.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: From Moscow, one of Syria's main allies, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the international community to tread carefully.

    SERGEI LAVROV, Russian Foreign Minister (through interpreter): The use of force without the approval of the United Nations Security Council is a very grave violation of international law. If anybody thinks that bombing and destroying the Syrian military infrastructure and leaving the battlefield for the opponents of the regime to win would end everything, that is an illusion.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, Britain suggested that even without the U.N. Security Council's approval, a military response is still possible.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: To discuss what U.S. actions against Syria might look like and the strategic objectives behind them, I'm joined by Richard Haass, a former top State Department and National Security Council official. He's now president of the Council on Foreign Relations. And Jeffrey White, formerly a senior analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, currently, he's a defense fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

    Welcome back to the NewsHour the both of you.

    Richard Haass, to you first. If there has been undeniable use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime against its own people and if the U.S. is saying, we're going to hold them accountable, what then is the administration waiting for?

    RICHARD HAASS, Council on Foreign Relations: Well, what they're waiting for is to essentially put into place the international political context.

    That means there's some kind of a coalition of the willing, a number of the NATO allies, possibly NATO more formally, any number of Arab states, Australia, you heard from, essentially a fairly broad-based international coalition essentially that would back the action and in a couple of cases would actually participate in it, and would also talk about what to do if there's various forms of retaliation from either Syria or any of the countries that is backing Syria.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what would the purpose be, Richard Haass, of an action the administration would take?

    RICHARD HAASS: It would really be twofold.

    Principally, it would be to underscore the norm that chemical weapons, like any weapon of mass destruction, including biological and nuclear, cannot become a normal weapon, cannot be used. The taboo, the barrier cannot in any way be diluted. This far transcends Syria.

    Secondly, the United States made clear that there was a so-called red line. The president basically threw down the gauntlet over the last, what, year or so telling the Syrians that if they were to use chemical weapons it would be a game changer, it would change his calculus and so forth.

    Well, the Syrians have now used chemical weapons apparently twice, last June and now. And it's important, not simply to discourage them from using chemical weapons again, but to send a message to Iran, where the United States has also put down red lines, to North Korea, where again the United States has made real threats, that the word of the United States is to be taken seriously.

    So the stakes, as large as they are in Syria, Judy, actually far transcend what is going on there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Jeff White, if there were to be an attack, what would the targets be? What would the weapons likely be?

    JEFFREY WHITE, Washington Institute for Near East Policy: Well, it really depends upon how expansive the administration wants to be in punishing the regime.

    It could be anything from a small strike with cruise missiles alone, up to a very large military operation, including aircraft. In all likelihood, they will focus, at least initially, on targets that are associated with the chemical warfare operation, with command-and-control of Syrian forces, with the units that probably were involved in firing the weapons.

    But it could also be broader than that and to include attacks on surface-to-surface missile units and air force units.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But you don't mean -- when you talk about chemical weapons, command-and-control, you're not talking about the storage locations, the stockpiles of chemical weapons, are you?

    JEFFREY WHITE: I don't think those will be attacked.

    There's the potential there for release of agents into the air or into the ground or whatever, and that would leave the U.S. open to accusations that we're actually causing the chemical warfare problem in Syria.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But it sounds like you're saying there's a pretty wide range of what the allies, the U.S. and any allies, would choose to hit. You're saying from command-and-control to, what -- I mean, what size targets are we talking about?

    JEFFREY WHITE: I think we're talking about a target set, right, made up of various types of targets ranging from ground force units, artillery units and so on, to command-and-control nodes, to the headquarters of units in the Damascus area, and maybe to the Ministry of Defense and Syrian army headquarters.

    So, I think the -- it's up to the administration and its allies to decide exactly what target set they want to hit. But they have got a wide variety to choose from. They have got the means to do it. So it's a matter of an internal decision.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Richard Haass, you talked about consulting with others. What allies are you -- is it your understanding the U.S. would do this in concert with? Would there need to be a United Nations involvement?

    RICHARD HAASS: There wouldn't need to be United Nations involvement, Judy.

    Quiet honestly, we couldn't get it. The Russians and possibly the Chinese would prevent it. But the United Nations is not the sole locale of legitimacy. It's not the only form of multilateralism. There's lots of precedents historically for so-called coalitions of the willing to give this a degree of international support and considerable legitimacy.

    Could I just make one other point, though? I also whatever it is we're going to do here, Judy, there's going to be a ceiling on it. What the United States I believe is going to try to do is react to Syrian use of C.W., of chemical weapons. But it's going to stop short of anything open-ended.

    This is going to be a punitive attack. There's going to be limits to it. There's going to be an end to it, because the administration, while wanting to respond, wants equally to avoid becoming a protagonist in any open-ended fashion in this civil war in Syria.

    So, my hunch is they're going to look for a way to split the difference, to thread the needle, to use another saying, doing enough to make the message on chemicals, but without again getting involved in any open-ended fashion in what could be a long, expensive, and in the end very difficult undertaking.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you're saying, in other words, get involved, but not change the balance of the power equation right now in Syria?

    RICHARD HAASS: If we wanted to change the balance of power, I would argue a better way to do it, rather than using U.S. military forces directly, would be to provide significant help to those members of the opposition we could work with, to give them the kind of anti-armor and anti-aircraft capabilities we have so far at least been unwilling to provide them.

    Over time, that would make a difference without bringing the United States into what quite honestly could be a long-term quagmire in ways that could be reminiscent of Afghanistan and Iraq.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Jeffrey White, what about concerns about a retaliation on the part of the Syrians?

    JEFFREY WHITE: I think there's some possibility of that, but I don't think it's very likely.

    My sense is, the Syrian government will roll with the punch, as they have with the Israeli strikes, the putative the Israeli strikes that have occurred.

    (CROSSTALK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Why do you think that?

    JEFFREY WHITE: Because I don't think they want to commit suicide by retaliation.

    Attacks against the United States or its allies or its interests would lead to I think even greater strikes against the Syrian government.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What about Iran? What about Hezbollah, which is very much their partners and backers?

    JEFFREY WHITE: I think, for Hezbollah, sort of the same logic applies. They're not interested in getting into it with the United States.

    And Iran I think will be very cautious in kind of its traditional -- traditional way. There's always the possibility for some kind of covert act against U.S. interests, a terrorist type attack or so on. Hezbollah and Iran could certainly mount those, but I don't think we're talking any kind of large-scale in direct retaliation against anybody.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Richard Haass, just a few minutes ago, the office of House Speaker John Boehner issued a statement saying that they have let -- that he, in conversation with the White House -- they didn't say with the president, but the White House -- said that, "Any military action

    has to be preceded by consultation with Congress, clearly to find objectives, broader objectives for stability."

    What does this statement introduce? Is this now going to be an element in consulting with Congress?

    RICHARD HAASS: Well, the consultations have already begun.

    I don't believe the administration will require or slow down for any formal congressional authorization, but it would be foolish not to consult with Congress. And I think what these consultations will do will reinforce the idea that the United States does need to respond to the use of chemical weapons, but there needs to be a ceiling on that response.

    There's just as much concern in Congress of doing too much as there is too little. And I thought Senator Reed in your prepared piece got it about right, that we -- it's important that we underscore this norm, this taboo against the use of chemical weapons. It can't go without reaction.

    But this shouldn't be the beginning, if you will, of an open-ended American participation in the Syrian civil war. And I think that's what the -- any consultations with Congress would reinforce.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Richard Haass, Jeffrey White, we thank you both.

    JEFFREY WHITE: Thank you.

    RICHARD HAASS: Thank you, Judy.


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    KWAME HOLMAN: The leaders of two former militant groups in Egypt are offering a truce to end the violence. The Islamist organizations called today for supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi to halt their street protests if the military government -- military-backed government ends its crackdown.

    Meanwhile, former President Hosni Mubarak appeared in court Sunday for the first time since being released from prison last week. He's being retried for the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising that drove him from power. A separate trial also opened for three Muslim Brotherhood leaders accused of inciting violence.

    The United Nations said today it expects all member states to respect the privacy of diplomatic communications. That came after the German magazine Der Spiegel reported the U.S. National Security Agency hacked into internal communications at U.N. headquarters in New York. The magazine cited documents obtained from NSA leaker Edward Snowden. They claimed the NSA also bugged the European Union's offices in Washington.

    In China, disgraced political figure Bo Xilai now awaits the verdict in his corruption trial. In closing arguments today, Bo denounced the two main witnesses against him. He charged his wife is deranged and his former police chief is dishonest. Prosecutors argued Bo made millions of dollars illegally and interfered in a murder investigation. He was a rising star in the ruling Communist Party before the scandal broke.

    The school year is just getting started in most of the U.S., and already the weather has intervened. Severe heat in the Midwest today forced schools in at least six states to end classes early. Readings reached nearly 100 degrees in much of the region, including Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Illinois. Many of the affected schools have sections that are not air-conditioned.

    On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 64 points to close at 14,946. The Nasdaq fell a fraction of a point to close at 3,657.

    Those are some of the day's major stories


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    GWEN IFILL: Thousands of firefighters pushed today to make headway against one of the largest fires in California history.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  By air and by land, an all-out assault on the enormous Rim fire is raging in the Western Sierra Nevada mountains.

    MAN: It's pretty impressive. It's look like a really coordinated effort.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  The fire has consumed some 235 square miles of California forest since it flamed into life more than a week ago. The big blaze is burning at the Northwestern edge of Yosemite National Park.

    KEN PIMLOTT, Cal Fire: We are facing record dry fuel conditions across this state. That has led to well above average the number of fires since the beginning of May, and with this fire and others, we're certainly in -- stretching the number of acres in record that we have burned.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Some 360 firefighters managed today to extend containment lines to 15 percent of the fire. They face the challenges of rugged, parched terrain, as well as high winds that whip the fire from ground to treetops, created so-called crown fires.

    MAN: Knowing exactly where it's going to go with the wind is a little unpredictable.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Another unpredictable factor, whether the fire could reach out to affect San Francisco, nearly 200 miles away.

    On Friday, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency after flames damaged transmission lines that route electrical power to the city. Also at risk, the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, source of 85 percent of the city's water supply.

    The fire crept to within one mile of the facility today, but despite ash flakes raining down, officials maintained water quality has not been affected. Still, Governor Brown warned today the effects may show up when the winter rainy season comes.

    GOV. JERRY BROWN, D- Calif.: When you burn down everything, you have got a moonscape out there that -- where floods can contaminate the waters.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  In terms of property damage, the fire has destroyed relatively few buildings and several small towns are under threat. One exception, the Tuolumne Family Camp near the town of Berkeley. The 90-year-old refuge for tourists and local residents burned to the ground over the weekend.

    MAN: The fire climbed up into the trees and made a run into the camp. The camp was pretty overgrown. There was of lot of flammables in there. There's a lot of summer tents flammable with fabric and stuff like that. So, it was -- I would imagine they had their hands full.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Elsewhere, residents made their way to Red Cross evacuation centers.

    WOMAN: You know, you just cry and laugh with everybody else. It's sad. You never think you're going to be here in the situation, and when you watch other people on TV that you can't help that are in it, and then when it hits home, wow.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  As for Yosemite, the majority of the park with its majestic vistas and waterfalls remains relatively unaffected.

    While some back country hiking has been closed, the popular Yosemite Valley area to the south remains open to visitors and campers. Some of the firefighters working to contain the blaze are trying to protect two groves of the park's famous giant sequoias estimated to be 2,000 years old.


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    JEFFREY BROWN:  And we get two updates on the situation this evening from officials dealing with the fire, first, Captain Mike Mohler. He's the public information officer with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and has been in the Rim fire area since Thursday. I talked to him a short time ago.

    Captain Mohler, thanks for joining us.

    We hear about slightly more containment today. What does that mean? What's your assessment of the latest situation?

    CAPT. MIKE MOHLER, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection: Well, yes we're up to 15 percent contain on the Rim fire.

    What that means to us right now is, yes, we have increased our containment, but this is a 150,000-acre fire. We have had extreme weather conditions. So, we still have a difficult firefight in front of us.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  What are the biggest problems that the firefighters are facing at this point?

    MIKE MOHLER: Well, right now, we are experiencing extreme wind shifts.

    What is happening is, this fire is building up into what we would call almost a column which creates erratic winds. Not only that, but we have very dry fuel moistures, critical fuel moistures, and also the steep rocky terrain that makes it difficult to get our firefighters on the ground in some of these areas.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Are these kinds of things, are you going to predict them to get ahead of it or you just have to react as they happen?

    MIKE MOHLER: Well, you know what? We do look at the weather.

    That's a key factor in us fighting these fires. But Mother Nature, we have to work with her. We have to adjust. And we have do, do that on a daily basis with our operations, which is we have to be dynamic and ready for these fire fronts.

    And we do predict it. And that's what -- we go out in front of it, place containment lines, what we call contingency plans, and hopefully we are ready when that fire comes to us.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  What kind of resources do you have? Do you have enough in terms of equipment and firefighters themselves?

    MIKE MOHLER: We do.

    This fire not only is the number one fire in the state of California, but it is also the number one fire in the nation. So resource orders are come to the Rim fire. We have about 4,000 ground troops and several aerial resources, not only helicopters, but also fixed-wing. And we have also activated the California National Guard, who is a big resource for us in fighting these fires.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Tell us about protecting the power and water sources. How do you go about doing that?

    MIKE MOHLER: Well, we're working very closely -- the incident command team from the U.S. Forest Service is working very closely with the city of San Diego public utilities, also with the city of San Diego Fire Department.

    But I can tell you that that is a very important structure and infrastructure, so firefighters and crews are out there protecting that area.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  There were reports late today that the fire is getting quite close to the reservoir.

    MIKE MOHLER: That is correct.

    But, in anticipation of that fire, again, we have put in what we call dozer lines, hand crew lines. We have also surrounded that with engine companies in preparation for that fire front. We have been monitoring it since the start of this fire, and we will continue to monitor it and protect that critical infrastructure for the city of San Francisco.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  I think this summer with a lot of fires, everybody has been aware of safety, especially what happened in Arizona. What kind of -- does that change the way you fight fires now?

    MIKE MOHLER: Well, yes.

    The tragedy in Prescott, Arizona, it weighs heavy on all the firefighters out here. Yes, safety is our priority concern. Escape routes, safety zones -- all these people out here are trained professionals. Do we look at those type of incidents and learn from them? Absolutely. And we will. That is going to be an extensive investigation.

    But I can tell you, heavy hearts out here. We have even taken a moment of silence here at the Rim fire to remember those firefighters. But, yes, it's in the back of our minds and we have to monitor that on a daily basis.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  What about the other -- another thing that's being closely watched is those major sequoia groves. What kind of steps or prevention measures are you taking?

     

    MIKE MOHLER: Well, the National Park Service has a very aggressive fire team and fire preparation.

    They have evacuated those groves, and they also have protection measures, not only sprinklers, but they have prepared and prepped around those groves. I know that obviously Yosemite is not only a national treasure, but a worldwide treasure, that that is an important part not only for the command team from the U.S. Forest Service, but also the National Park Service, to protect those sequoia groves.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  And, briefly, do you know any more about the cause of this at this point?

    MIKE MOHLER: I do not know the cause. Right now, we have it under investigation and it's an ongoing investigation as we speak.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  But for you in terms of historical perspective, this is pretty serious?

    MIKE MOHLER: It's very serious.

    This community throughout this area, not only Yosemite, but all the communities involved, they are not foreign to wildfire. This area has a lot of fire history. These communities are prepared with home clearance, defensible space. They have seen this before.

    But this is one of the largest fires in California history, and unfortunately right now it continues to grow. But with the troops that we have, we hope to turn the corner on this quickly, but, again, we're cautiously optimistic, dynamic situation.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  All right, Captain Mike Mohler, thanks so much and good luck to everyone out there.

    And now to the general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Harlan Kelly.

    Mr. Kelly, thanks for joining us. I know you were also out by the fire area today. What is your assessment of the current situation?

    HARLAN KELLY, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission: Yes, I was just out there earlier today.

    Where I was, was at Moccasin, which is a town about 45 miles away from the face of our Hetch Hetchy Dam. I tell you, I definitely want to give the women and men out there fighting the fires a lot of respect and whatever support we can do for those brave men and women out there fighting the fires.

    Also, I wanted to really focus on our staff to really focus on our infrastructure, and really look at assessing our infrastructure, when we are able to get in and examine our water lines, and also our power lines.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Well, tell us a little bit about that. What kind of problems are you having with the power stations right now?

    HARLAN KELLY: Well, currently, there are two power stations that are not up and running. We have one. Typically, we produce about 160 megawatts of power to meet the municipal load in San Francisco.

    And, currently, we have one power station which is producing about 50 megawatts. So, for the balance, we are working with a bank that we have with another utilities company, Pacific Gas and Electric, where when we have excess power, we put it in the bank. We're now withdrawing that now, and then we go onto the spot market and purchase power.

    So, as of Monday, from Monday until today, we spent about $600,000 in additional power purchases.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  And with the reservoir, the issue is contamination. Right? So, what kind of steps can you take to prevent that at this point because the fire is getting quite close to that reservoir?

    HARLAN KELLY: Yes, so I just wanted to make sure that we are clear that we feel very comfortable that we're being able to deliver clean, fresh water, high-quality water like we always have done.

    What we're concerned about is the future impact of the water from the ash that will fall into our reservoirs. And so what we're doing is we're looking at contingency plans. And so currently one of the contingency plans that we are currently doing is, we are taking more of the water out of the reservoir and we are putting it into local storage, because, right now, the turbidity is the same as it was before the fire.

    Turbidity is a measure of cloudiness. And so, right now, we feel very comfortable and confident to bring that water into our local reservoirs. And if the turbidity exceeds that, then we will start treating the water from our Hetchy system, which we typically do not have to do.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Just very briefly, if you would, so how vulnerable is the city of San Francisco to something that happens hundreds of miles away?

    HARLAN KELLY: Well, we have a large water source. It is 85 percent of 2.6 million citizens that enjoy our Hetchy water. And so we wanted to do everything that we can in our powers to protect our water source.

    But the bottom line is, right now, we are providing water, safe drinking water to all our citizens of San Francisco and the Bay Area.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Harlan Kelly, thanks so much and good luck.

    HARLAN KELLY: Thank you very much.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn now to our commemoration of the March on Washington.

    First, a few words from Charmaine McKissick-Melton of Durham, North Carolina. Her father, the late Floyd McKissick, then national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, or CORE, spoke at the original event.

    CHARMAINE MCKISSICK-MELTON, daughter of civil rights leader: My father, as one of the leaders, was told they didn't want children at the march in case something might happen.

    When we turned on the TV, we were really, really disappointed that we weren't there, because we saw lots of kids there. My father wasn't supposed to be a speaker at the march. It was supposed to be a CORE person. And, of course, that was the director, who was James Farmer. We call him Jim Farmer.

    So -- but Jim was arrested, and he was in Louisiana, so therefore my father was called on, as the second in command of CORE, to be a speaker at the march.

    I remember that he was probably more staged than normal, I felt. He tended to be a little fierier, not quite a gospel -- excuse me -- not quite a Baptist minister, but I think he pretty much kind of stuck to script it seemed to me more than normal.

    "To Charmaine, my lovely daughter, the future is yours. Your generation will have to continue the struggle for change. It is my faith in you and other youth that I rely on. Your daddy, Floyd McKissick."

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That was Charmaine McKissick-Melton from Durham, North Carolina. You can find her story and other firsthand accounts for the Web series Memories of the March produced by public television stations around the country on the PBS Web site Black Culture Connection.

    GWEN IFILL: Now to our own coverage of the anniversary. Thousands gathered Saturday to mark the occasion on the National Mall, the site of the original march. Elected officials, activists and civil rights leaders addressed the crowd, calling for a more expansive interpretation of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream. 

    ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: As we gather today, 50 years later, their march is now our march, and it must go on.

    And our focus has broadened to include the cause of women, of Latinos, of Asian-Americans, of lesbians, of gays, of people with disabilities, and of countless others across this great country who still yearn for equality, opportunity and fair treatment.

    AL SHARPTON, civil rights activist: I keep hearing people talking about Dr. King's dream. When I was younger, I said to my mother, my friends say, why are we dreaming? You need to be awake to fight.

    Well, my mother said to me, you got to understand what dreams are for. Dreams are for those that won't accept reality as it is. So they dream of what is not there and make it possible.

    GWEN IFILL: Also speaking Saturday, the slain civil rights leader's son, Martin Luther King III.

    MARTIN LUTHER KING III, son of Martin Luther King Jr.: I, like you, continue to feel his presence. I, like you, continue to hear his voice crying out in the wilderness. The admonition is clear. This is not the time for a nostalgic commemoration, nor is this the time for self-congratulatory celebration. The task is not done. The journey is not complete.

    GWEN IFILL: The passage of 50 years has altered the way we consider the march, especially for those who marched and those not yet born.

    I spoke recently with civil rights leader Cleveland Sellers, who was there in 1963 and was active in the movement, and his son, South Carolina State Representative Bakari Sellers, who is now running for lieutenant governor in their home state.

    Cleveland Sellers, Bakari Sellers, thank you both for joining us.

    Since age brings wisdom, I'm going to start first with Cleveland Sellers, who went through so much in your career as a civil rights activist. You were arrested after the Orangeburg massacre. You were part of Freedom Summer. And you marched on Washington in 1963 -- so many turning points that happened during that time.  

    What about the march was different for you?

    CLEVELAND SELLERS, civil rights activist: Well, the march occurred in 1963. And at that point, I was an 18-year-old sophomore at Howard University.

    And I had been keeping up with all of the activities of young people across the South, primarily in their efforts to sit in and Freedom Rides. And then you had the students in Birmingham who faced the water hoses and the dogs.

    And later that summer '63, you had the murder of Medgar Evers. And so we began to feel, young people, like we were beginning to make our point known, and that is that we were experiencing a unique time in our lives where we wanted to say that we wanted our freedom and we wanted it now.

    And so we had an opportunity to be involved in the March on Washington. And I had an opportunity to be a volunteer there in Washington, D.C. And the night before the march, I spent a lot of time making posters and making sandwiches, cheese sandwiches.

    (LAUGHTER)

    CLEVELAND SELLERS: I think some 70,000 posters and I can't remember how many cheese sandwiches we actually made.

    But I was there the very next morning, and it was a thrill seeing all of these buses and cars and masses of people coming to Washington with different objectives in mind.

    GWEN IFILL: Bakari Sellers, you were barely a gleam in your parents' eye. Your mother's name is Gwen. I kind of like that.

    So, tell me, what -- how did you first learn about that day? How did you first learn about the march?

    REP. BAKARI SELLERS, D-S.C.: Well, my upbringing was a little bit different than most, in that I didn't necessarily have to go and open up a library book. I didn't have to wait for my third or fourth grade teachers to educate me on Briggs v. Elliott or Brown vs. the Board of Education or Sarah Mae Flemming or the March on Washington.

    For me, growing up the son of Dr. Cleveland Sellers and Gwendolyn Sellers, I understood that they really felt those prison floors. They understood what the smell of gun smoke smelt like. It wasn't anything that they actually had to dream up or read about in the history book, but for them it was real life.

    Growing up and hearing stories about the March on Washington, I think the most unique thing that stood out and still stands out to me this day about that journey was that it was sparked by young people. It was young people that were 14, 15, 16 years old, 21, 22, 23 years old.

    And, you know, I got this little basic understanding that, if not me, then who, and if not now, then when? And without those young people, without those young visions, those young hearts, those young people who were filled with courage, and some oftentimes radical sense of invincibility, I wouldn't have the opportunities I have today.

    So for me, the March on Washington was a moment in time, a moment in history that we look back on and we learn from.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let me ask your dad this question.

    Because I wonder if this is something that set out to do as a parent. You decided that it was important that your children take this in not just from the history books, but in reality.

    CLEVELAND SELLERS: Yes, but I thought that it was important for us to transfer many of those experiences and that knowledge to young people in general.

    And I just had the opportunity to carry my children around with me as I was engaged in other kinds of civil rights-oriented activities. I had an opportunity to meet many of the legends of the civil rights era. You know, the Andy Youngs and the Stokely Carmichaels and the Diane Nashes and the John Lewis.

    And the list goes on and on and on. But I thought that that was so important for young people, and I should start with my own in terms of making sure that they understood that history and understood that struggle.

    GWEN IFILL: Bakari, why did you decide, after watching your father's and your mother's example, why did you decide elective politics? Why was that the path?

    BAKARI SELLERS: My father and mother both, they always taught us, one, that education was the gateway to the American dream. And I always had this insatiable desire to learn as much as possible.

    But I will always remember growing up my dad used to just drill in our head to make sure you're a change agent. No matter what field you going into, whether or not you're in medicine like my sister, or the ministry like my brother, or where I am now, make sure you're a change agent.

    And for me, I had an opportunity to work for United States Congressman Jim Clyburn. And I had an opportunity to work for Mayor Shirley Franklin. But I understood that it's not about politics. It's about public service. And I had the audacity to run for office when I was 20 years old, announced I was going to run when I was 20, 21 years old, and win.

    And now we're running for lieutenant governor all because my father and others like him have given so much to the state of South Carolina. And I really feel it's my responsibility to give as much as I have to make sure that people have access. And they fought for access during the March on Washington. And although our goals have changed, I still believe my mission to be true.

    GWEN IFILL: Cleveland Sellers, when you look back now 50 years later, do you think that the goals of the march were accomplished?

    CLEVELAND SELLERS: Well, I think we have to start with what happened 2.5 weeks after the march, and that was the bombing of the Birmingham -- 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, where reality set in.

    And that was, was that your freedom wasn't going to be just given to you, and that that struggle was going to be a lifelong struggle for many of us who were very young at that particular period of time. And as we have gone through, we have seen that there were achievements beyond the March on Washington.

    I think the march actually mobilized people and gave you an opportunity to talk about specific issues. But you have to do the grunt work. And that is the organizing. So, you began to see young people go across the South and beginning to organize. You saw Selma and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. You saw the Mississippi Summer Project and the 1964 civil rights bill.

    You saw affirmative action. You saw all of these things grow out of that. You saw an effort to empower marginalized people across the country who used the model that we were using in terms of organizing for a kind of self-determination and pulling people together so they could take control of their own lives.

    Those models were actually those things that grew out of the movement. I think that the March on Washington is one of those epic points, but there are a number of other epic points that actually pulled this whole process together. And I think it's important that we understand the struggle that even went on in the March on Washington to get the message out.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me flash-forward, and staying with you, Cleveland Sellers, to the present.

    CLEVELAND SELLERS: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: We are still having big national conversations, as they say, about race. We're still -- we're just coming out of the Trayvon Martin episode.

    And I wonder, as you look back, you wonder whether it's leadership that's missing, whether we're just not honest as a people in discussing these issues, or whether we have come much farther than we give ourselves credit for?

    CLEVELAND SELLERS: I think we have come a long ways.

    But what you have to recognize is that you have to have committed people who are constantly being vigilant and making sure that things that happen are not happening to undue the progress that has been made. I look back at the rollback of affirmative action. I look at the attack on the Voting Rights Act just recently.

    I look at the unemployment and those kinds of issues. It's ironic that, in 2013, looking back 50 years, that the message march on Washington for jobs and freedom are applicable even today.

    GWEN IFILL: Bakari Sellers, the same question to you. What is your sense of how far we have or have not come in the 50 years since?

    BAKARI SELLERS: For me, we brought up the Trayvon Martin case.

    And one thing that I have learned to do is kind of look at things from a 50,000-foot view. And for me, it's much larger than that. We have a generation of African-American young men who are growing up hopeless and full of despair.

    And we have figure out why that is. You know, on a larger scale, my father recently talked about the Voting Rights Act and voter I.D. and some of the attacks that have been made against the Voting Rights Act. And you can't help but to believe we are on the brink of chaos in this country.

    But the challenge for me and my generation is still to build community, and I think we have made progress. But I think when you look at where we are today, you understand we still have yet a ways to go.

    And my challenge -- and I task a lot of people in my generation -- is to understand the nuances of what we're dealing with. For me, it's no longer black and white. The issue of my father's generation are still very much prevalent today, but it's not as much black and white, as it is the haves vs. have-nots, and ensuring that everybody, no matter their race, creed or color or socioeconomic level or where they grow up, in the state of South Carolina or the United States of America, has access and the ability to attain the American dream.

    GWEN IFILL: From South Carolina, each breaking through in his own way and in his own generation, Bakari Sellers, Cleveland Sellers, thank you so much for joining us.

    BAKARI SELLERS: Thank you.

    CLEVELAND SELLERS: Thank you for having us.

    GWEN IFILL: We continue our series tomorrow with Democratic Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. He's the former chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the only speaker at the 1963 march who is still alive.


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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama presented Army Staff Sergeant Ty Michael Carter with the nation's highest military award, the Medal of Honor.

    He said Carter displayed the essence of true heroism for his actions in the battle at Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan on October 3, 2009.

    Here are some excerpts from today's ceremony.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is a historic day -- the first time in nearly half-a-century, since the Vietnam War, that we've been able to present the Medal of Honor to two survivors of the same battle.

    Indeed, when we paid tribute to Clint Romesha earlier this year, we recalled how he and his team provided the cover that allowed three wounded Americans -- pinned down in a Humvee -- to make their escape. The medal we present today, the soldier that we honor -- Ty Carter -- is the story of what happened in that Humvee. It's the story of what our troops do for each other.

    And as dawn broke that October morning, with Ty and most of our troops still in their bunks, their worst fears became a reality.

    Fifty-three American soldiers were suddenly surrounded by more than 300 Taliban fighters. The outpost was being slammed from every direction -- machine gunfire, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, sniper fire. It was chaos -- the blizzard of bullets and steel -- into which Ty ran, not once or twice, or even a few times, but perhaps 10 times.

    The ferocious fire forced them inside. And so it was that five American soldiers -- including Ty and Specialist Stephan Mace -- found themselves trapped in that Humvee, the tires flat, RPGs pouring in, peppering them with shrapnel, threatening to break through the armor of their vehicle.

    And, worst of all, Taliban fighters were penetrating the camp. The choice, it seemed, was simple -- stay and die, or make a run for it.

    And then they saw him -- their buddy Stephan -- on the ground, wounded, about 30 yards away.

    And if you are left with just one image from that day, let it be this: Ty Carter bending over, picking up Stephan Mace, cradling him in his arms, and carrying him -- through all those bullets -- and getting him back to that Humvee.

    And the battle was still not over, so Ty returned to the fight and helped to rally his troop as they fought, yard by yard. They pushed the enemy back. Our soldiers retook their camp.

    Now, Ty says, "This award is not mine alone. The battle that day," he will say, "was one team in one fight, and everyone did what we could do to keep each other alive."

    And some of these men are with us again.

    As we honor Ty's courage on the battlefield, I want to recognize his courage in the other battle he has fought. Ty has spoken openly -- with honesty and extraordinary eloquence -- about his struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress -- the flashbacks, the nightmares, the anxiety, the heartache that makes it sometimes almost impossible to get through a day.

    So let me say it as clearly as I can to any of our troops or veterans who are watching and struggling: Look at this man. Look at this soldier. Look at this warrior. He's as tough as they come. And if he can find the courage and the strength, to not only seek help, but also to speak out about it, to take care of himself and to stay strong, then so can you. So can you.

    As we prepare for the reading of the citation, I will ask you, Ty, to never forget the difference that you made on that day. Because you helped turn back that attack, soldiers are alive today -- like your battle buddy in that Humvee, Brad Larson, who told us, "I owe Ty my life."

    Because you had the urge to serve others at whatever cost, so many Army families could welcome home their own sons.

    God bless you, Ty Carter, and the soldiers of the Black Knight Troop. God bless all our men and women in uniform. God bless the United States of America.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The president also recognized the other soldiers of Combat Outpost Keating, remembering the fallen from that battle and honoring their families.

     


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    Piggy bank with mask and stethoscope for healthcare cost concept Wondering how much insurance premiums will cost under the upcoming insurance exchanges? In many states, information is now becoming available. Photo by Lilli Day / Getty Images.

    One of the biggest questions about Obamacare is whether its new consumer protections might lead to higher costs for some people buying coverage on their own -- or through small groups -- when they purchase it via the online insurance marketplaces that open for enrollment Oct. 1.

    A growing number of states have released approved 2014 premiums and other details about individual and small group insurance plans that will available on the marketplaces, also called exchanges. Those rates do not take into account the federal tax credits that many people will be eligible for. In addition, the federal government must give final approval to the plans in September.

    Some states such as Arkansas, Illinois and New Hampshire have approved their rates but have not released any information about premiums and say they don't plan to do so until Oct. 1.

    States that are running their own exchanges, such as California, provide details about the benefits in each state-approved plan in each region of the state.

    States who have declined to run their own and who will have federally-run exchanges, still must have the premiums approved by the Obama administration.

    The following are links to publicly released data from states that have made their information available. KHN will add links to other states as they are published.

    State-Run Exchanges:

    California:

    Covered California brochure (PDF)

    Colorado:

    Colorado Division of Insurance website

    District of Columbia:

    D.C. Health Link chart (PDF)

    Connecticut:

    Anthem (indiv.) | Anthem (sm. grp.) | ConnectiCare Benefits, Inc. (indiv.) | Healthy CT (indiv.) | Healthy CT (sm. grp.) | United Healthcare (sm. grp.)

    Maryland:

    Maryland Insurance Administration website

    New Mexico:

    New Mexico Superintendent of Insurance chart (PDF)

    New York:

    New York Governor's Office chart (PDF)

    Oregon:

    Oregon Insurance Division website

    Rhode Island:

    Rhode Island Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner press release (PDF)

    Vermont:

    Vermont Health Connect chart (PDF)

    Washington:

    Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner website

    Federally run exchanges:

    Florida:

    Florida Office of Insurance Regulation chart (PDF)

    Maine:

    Maine Bureau of Insurance website

    Montana:

    Montana Office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance press release

    South Dakota:

    South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation website

    Utah:

    Utah Insurance Department memo (PDF)

    Do you have questions or concerns about Obamacare? Leave them in this Public Insight Network form, and the PBS NewsHour will try to answer them in the weeks ahead.

    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.

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    WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military stands ready to strike Syria at once if President Barack Obama gives the order, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday as the United States prepared to formally declare that chemical weapons had been used in the Syrian civil war.

    U.S. officials said the growing intelligence pointed strongly toward Bashar Assad's government as the culprit - a claim Assad called "preposterous."

    The U.S., along with allies in Europe, appeared to be laying the groundwork for the most aggressive response since Syria's civil war began more than two years ago. Mr. Obama has not yet decided how to respond to the use of deadly gases, officials said. The president said last year that type of warfare would cross a "red line."

    Two administration officials said the U.S. was expected to make public a more formal determination of chemical weapons use on Tuesday, with an announcement of Obama's response likely to follow quickly. The officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the internal deliberations.

    Watch Video

    In a press conference Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Obama administration plans on holding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accountable for the "moral obscenity."

    On Monday, as he sought support from allies, Secretary of State John Kerry called the evidence of a large-scale chemical weapons attack "undeniable." And he said that international standards against chemical weapons "cannot be violated without consequences."

    The Obama administration's tougher language marked the clearest justification yet for any U.S. military action in Syria, which most likely would involve sea-launched cruise missile attacks on Syrian military targets.

    Hagel told BBC television on Tuesday that the Defense Department has "moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take."

    The Navy has four destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea within range of targets inside Syria. The U.S. also has warplanes in the region.

    "We are ready to go," Hagel said.

    Hagel said "to me it's clearer and clearer" that the Syrian government was responsible, but that the Obama administration was waiting for intelligence agencies to make the determination.

    Watch Video

    During a press conference at the White House Monday, press secretary Jay Carney responded to reporters' questions about future U.S. action responding to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. While Secretary of State John Kerry called the use of the weapons "undeniable," Carney said repeatedly that the White House was still assessing the various options for a U.S. response.

    Hagel was interviewed during a visit to the Southeast Asian nation of Brunei. While there, Hagel spoke by phone about Syria with his counterparts from Britain and France. Hagel's press secretary, George Little, said, said Hagel "conveyed that the United States is committed to working with the international community to respond to the outrageous chemical attacks that have claimed the lives of innocent civilians in Syria."

    In London, Prime Minister David Cameron recalled Parliament for an urgent discussion on a possible military response. Cameron said the crisis session will be held Thursday for a clear government motion and vote on the British response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria.

    The British government said its military is drawing up contingency plans for a possible attack. Italy, meanwhile, is insisting that any strike must be authorized by the U.N. Security Council.

    Assad was defiant. In an interview published Tuesday on the website of the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency, Assad accused the U.S. and other countries of "disdain and blatant disrespect of their own public opinion; there isn't a body in the world, let alone a superpower, that makes an accusation and then goes about collecting evidence to prove its point."

    Assad warned that if the U.S. attacks Syria, it will face "what it has been confronted with in every war since Vietnam: failure."

    The international community appeared to be considering action that would punish Assad for deploying deadly gases, not sweeping measures aimed at ousting the Syrian leader or strengthening rebel forces. The focus of the internal debate underscores the scant international appetite for a large-scale deployment of forces in Syria and the limited number of other options.

    "We continue to believe that there's no military solution here that's good for the Syrian people, and that the best path forward is a political solution," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. "This is about the violation of an international norm against the use of chemical weapons and how we should respond to that."

    The Obama administration was moving ahead even as a United Nations team already on the ground in Syria collected evidence from last week's attack. The U.S. said Syria's delay in giving the inspectors access rendered their investigation meaningless and that the Obama administration had its own intelligence confirming chemical weapons use.

    The U.N. team came under sniper fire Monday as it traveled to the site of the Aug. 21 attack and on Tuesday delayed a second inspection. A U.S. official said the U.N. team's delay would not affect the Obama administration's timeline for releasing its own intelligence assessments.

    It's unlikely that the U.S. would launch a strike against Syria while the United Nations team is still in the country. The administration may also try to time any strike around Mr. Obama's travel schedule -- he's due to hold meetings in Sweden and Russia next week -- in order to avoid having the commander in chief abroad when the U.S. launches military action.

    The president has ruled out putting American troops on the ground in Syria and officials say they are not considering setting up a unilateral no-fly zone.

    On Capitol Hill, bipartisan support for a military response appeared to be building, with some key lawmakers calling for targeted strikes. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said the Ohio Republican had "preliminary communication" with White House officials about the situation in Syria and a potential American response.

    Speaking to reporters at the State Department on Monday, Kerry was harshly critical of chemical warfare.

    "By any standard, it is inexcusable and - despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured -- it is undeniable," Kerry said, confirming the attack in the Damascus suburbs that activists say killed hundreds of people.

    The U.S. assessment is based in part on the number of reported victims, the symptoms of those injured or killed and witness accounts. Administration officials said the U.S. had additional intelligence confirming chemical weapons use and would make that information public.

    Officials stopped short of unequivocally stating that Assad's government was behind the attack. But they said there was "very little doubt" that it originated with the regime, noting that Syria's rebel forces do not appear to have access to the country's chemical weapons stockpile.

    It's unclear whether Mr. Obama would seek authority from the U.N. or Congress before using force. The president has spoken frequently about his preference for taking military action only with international backing, but it is likely Russia and China would block U.S. efforts to authorize action through the U.N. Security Council.

    More than 100,000 people have died in clashes between forces loyal to Assad and rebels trying to oust him from power over the past two and a half years. While Obama has repeatedly called for Assad to leave power, he has resisted calls for a robust U.S. intervention, and has largely limited American assistance to humanitarian aid. The president said last year that chemical weapons use would cross a "red line" and would likely change his calculus in deciding on a U.S. response.

    Mr. Obama took little action after Assad used chemical weapons on a small scale earlier this year and risks signaling to countries like Iran that his administration does not follow through on its warnings.

    Officials said it was likely the targets of any cruise-missile attacks would be tied to the regime's ability to launch chemical weapons attacks. Possible targets would include weapons arsenals, command and control centers, radar and communications facilities, and other military headquarters. Less likely was a strike on a chemical weapons site because of the risk of releasing toxic gases.

    Military experts and U.S. officials said Monday that the precision strikes would probably come during the night and target key military sites.

    AP National Security Writer Robert Burns contributed to this report from Bander Seri Begawan, Brunei.

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    Summer is winding down and teachers and students heading back into the classroom, so NewsHour Extra, the NewsHour's teacher resource website, has compiled a list of need-to-have lesson plans and classroom tools to help make the transition back to school exciting and engaging.

    The lesson plans cover everything from this summer's most engrossing and controversial stories, including the role of race, justice and policy in the trial of George Zimmerman,the military crackdown in Egypt and the battle over legalizing gay marriage.

    The lessons vary in time commitment and depth, and are all aligned to the Common Core requirements. See which plans best fit the needs of your classes and start the year off on the right foot with lessons that will hook your students on current events through multimedia and articles specifically written for middle and high school students.

    Extra is also looking forward to the upcoming 50th anniversary of the March on Washington](http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/2013/08/8-resources-for-teaching-the-50th-anniversary-of-the-march-on-washington/), with [a package of lesson plans and resources. This comprehensive resource takes students from the history of the civil rights movement through the battles for equality that led up to the March on Washington, lets them experience the March itself through video and audio, and poses the question, " how far have we come in 50 years, and how far do we still have to go?" These lessons can be used in sequence as a unit or as stand-alone pieces as basic materials like a glossary or timeline are provided to give students a larger context for any lesson in the package.

    We know that teachers are always looking for extra (non-textbook) reading materials, interactive media, and quality video clips to differentiate for every style of learner. The package includes resources that will reach every student while challenging them to critically think about the March and the history of the civil rights movement.

    A good lesson plan not only informs, but engages and empowers students as they begin to understand the news and take responsibility for forming educated opinions about the world around them. NewsHour Extra is proud to bring you the highest quality resources for your class this fall.

    Welcome back and good luck on a great year ahead.

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    By Nick Corcodilos

    The job board model of hiring symbolizes the employment system's greater problems. Photo courtesy of Bubaone/iStock Vendors via Getty Images.

    Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979, and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community over the past decade.

    In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick follows up on a previous column he wrote about job boards, explaining what he thinks is wrong with America's employment system. His regular column, in which he shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, will return next week -- on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards, or salary negotiations. No guarantees -- just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.

    A recent column, "Is LinkedIn Cheating Employers and Job Seekers Alike?", triggered good dialogue on this blog and in lots of other media outlets about how companies recruit and hire people. Job seekers rightly criticized middlemen like LinkedIn, CareerBuilder and other database-driven job boards for mindless automation that does virtually nothing to help make good matches between employers and job seekers. In fact, the statistics I presented in the article strongly suggest these middlemen make it harder. Costly marketing campaigns try to convince us these systems are worthwhile and necessary, but that's just putting lipstick on the keyword-munching pig.

    Yet that's just the tip of the problem. Recruiting and hiring in America are a disaster of epic proportions -- not because there's a talent shortage, but because the employment system itself is fundamentally broken.

    A recent New York Times interview with one of Google's big data crunchers, Laszlo Bock, delivered these indictments of widely-used candidate evaluation methods. Employers can't afford to think about interviewing or hiring without considering what he has to say (emphasis added):

    MORE FROM NICK CORCODILOS: Is There a Career After Conviction?

    "Years ago, we did a study to determine whether anyone at Google is particularly good at hiring. We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how that person ultimately performed in their job. We found zero relationship. It's a complete random mess..."

    "On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don't predict anything."

    "One of the things we've seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.'s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless -- no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there's a slight correlation. Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.'s and test scores, but we don't anymore, unless you're just a few years out of school. We found that they don't predict anything."

    If I were a human resources executive, I'd be scrambling for cover, and if I were on a board of directors, I'd be voting to freeze my company's HR spending until I got some explanations for why this system persists.

    In general, employers are really bad at picking people to fill jobs. The entire employment system today is based on gathering useless big data to indirectly assess what a person might contribute to a business. "No correlation," says Google. The trouble is, the employment system starts with the wrong premise: If we define the jobs, we'll find people we can jam into them.

    Marketing guru Seth Godin once said, "Don't find customers for your products; find products for your customers."

    Employers need to adopt a similar mindset: Don't find people for your jobs; create jobs for talented people.

    There's far too much focus on jobs and matching people to them, and not enough focus on cultivating and developing the talents of capable people. There is not enough of building companies from personal interactions between managers and their professional communities, and too much of stuffing job requirements and keywords into databases.

    Companies should stop recruiting to fill jobs, and start recruiting to fill their ranks with the best, most talented people they can find. Managers need to learn how to meet and mingle with the best talent in their professional communities, and design jobs around them to produce value and profit. What a concept: Start with the people. It might even require some management effort. (In "Create Your Next Job," I discuss what people can do to present themselves as the talent that makes an employer want to create a job just for them.)

    Imagine if a company's recruiters stopped trolling the job boards for resumes whose keywords fit job descriptions. Imagine if those companies instead sent their managers out to find the very best talent in their industries -- and actually recruited those people. (Ever hear a company's chairman of the board announce to stockholders, "People are our most important asset!"? That might be true, except in the execution -- because companies behave as if jobs, not people, are profit-producing assets.)

    Today, businesses invest billions of dollars to translate complex business needs into strings of keywords to be processed by database algorithms. Job listings and resumes are bought, sold, rented and traded in a bizarre struggle to avoid actual interaction between companies and the capable people they need to hire.

    Should companies really hire people without having a specific job to match them to? Why not? True talent can ride a fast learning curve without falling off. (See "Resume Blasphemy.") Invest in improved training, give people a bit of time and pay them well, and they will amaze you. Smart, motivated people will figure out how to do profitable work -- not a narrowly defined job -- just like a skilled entrepreneur knows how to create a great new product without anyone handing over a blueprint. And that talent will probably do the "out-of-the-box" thinking that HR claims it values.

    Employers make "Ten Stupid Hiring Mistakes" that isolate them from healthy, personal recruiting. They recruit for a single position by thoughtlessly casting a net into an ocean of millions of job hunters. Godin tells us that model no longer works in marketing. But nor does it work when hiring.

    If you're a manager: Does your company invest more in automated recruiting than in meeting and building relationships with lots of smart people? Is your company building and capitalizing on the best people assets -- or is it trying to find pegs that fit empty holes?

    Rather than acquiring and deploying their most valuable asset -- talented people -- to work out the profit equation, employers are dumpster diving in job-board databases, snarfing up meaningless keywords. Then they quiz applicants, whom they don't know from Adam, with silly interview questions. Google's Laszlo Bock has sounded a warning about these candidate assessment methods: They don't predict anything. But the employment system suffers from far bigger structural failings than "Why are manhole covers round?"

    It's time to turn the employment system upside down and to focus on hiring smart people who can think, learn and work profitably -- and to let them loose. How much worse could they do than the employers who can't pick the right-shaped pegs?

    Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth "how to" PDF books are available on his website: "How to Work With Headhunters...and how to make headhunters work for you," "How Can I Change Careers?", "Keep Your Salary Under Wraps" and "Fearless Job Hunting."

    Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

    Copyright © 2013 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark. This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown -- NewsHour's blog of news and insight. Follow @PaulSolman


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  • 08/27/13--10:21: What's Your 'Dream'?
  • Photo of Dr. Martin Luther King courtesy of National Archives.

    Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Though the March was meant to focus on jobs and equal pay, it's Martin Luther King Jr.'s indelible speech that is best remembered.

    I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal."

    Was King's dream achieved? That question has been discussed throughout the past month on the NewsHour, and our Student Reporting Labs team posed it to fellow students around the country, offering fresh insight into the impact of history on our future.

    Answers vary, but a concrete truth emerges that King's speech stood as a symbol for hope in the midst of civil rights, and still acts as a reminder to dream a better future and life even if the path from dream to reality is not yet determined.

    Fifty years later and with King's sentiment in mind, we're asking you to fill in the blank: "I have a dream that ___." What is your dream? For society, for your family, for your future? Tweet @NewsHour using #50YearsOn, share a photo with us on Twitter or Instagram holding a sign with your "I have a dream" answer, or tell us in the comments below.

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    Dozens of protesters rally in front of the White House last Sunday to call on President Barack Obama to act on the reports of chemical weapons use by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in the ongoing civil war in Syria. Photo by Bill Clark/Getty Images.

    As the U.S. weighs a response to Syria, recent polling has shown Americans largely opposed to military action and few paying close attention to the ongoing conflict. But that could change with the Syrian government's use of what the Obama administration says were chemical weapons.

    No polling has been conducted on the public's views of Syria since that government was accused of using chemical weapons. But the trend lines against military action have been clear:

    Seventy percent told Pew Research Center pollsters in June that they opposed sending arms and military supplies to anti-government groups in Syria. That poll was conducted around the time the Obama administration announced it would be providing military aid to the anti-government forces.

    An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released earlier in June showed that two-thirds of Americans preferred that the U.S. provide only humanitarian assistance or take no action, compared with just a quarter who favored either providing arms or taking military action.

    A Gallup survey in May found 68 percent thought the U.S. should not intervene militarily to end the conflict should economic and diplomatic efforts to end it fail.

    Even with that consensus, a Washington Post/ABC News poll in December suggested that the government's use of chemical weapons against its own people could change public opinion. In that poll, just 17 percent thought the U.S. military should get involved in the conflict as it was at the time, but 63 percent said they would support military intervention if the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people.

    The Pew Research Center has tracked public attention to news about the conflict in Syria since May 2011, and has consistently found most Americans are tuned out. Each time they've asked, a majority said they were not following closely.

    So far, few have said they think the U.S. has a responsibility to intervene in Syria. A June CBS News/New York Times poll found just 28 percent said the U.S. had a responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria, while 61 percent said it did not.

    While the fighting in Syria has stretched on and escalated, Americans' views on the U.S. duty to act have changed little. Several news organizations have asked the same question about Syria, and a February 2012 CNN/ORC International poll was the first, finding just 25 percent thought the U.S. had a duty to act. That sense of responsibility peaked in May 2012 at 33 percent.

    Since the end of the Cold War, Americans have felt an obligation to get involved in just a few conflicts that did not directly involve the U.S. - about half said the nation had a duty to intervene in Somalia in 1993 and Darfur in the mid-2000s, and most said the U.S. had a responsibility to act in Kosovo in 1999.

    The pattern with Syria is similar to the public's long-standing skepticism about U.S. involvement in the Bosnian war in the mid-1990s. CBS News and The New York Times tracked public opinion on the fighting between Serbs and Bosnians in the former Yugoslavia, and from 1993 through 1995, regardless of the intensity of the conflict, those who felt no responsibility to act outnumbered those who did.

    Additional Related Polls:

    Reuters/Ipsos poll, Aug. 24: "About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria's civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act." Read the full results of the poll.

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  • 08/27/13--13:11: Syria's Fragmented Future
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    Andrew Tabler, Senior Fellow at the The Washington Institute for Near East Policy joins Hari Sreenivasan via Skype from Washington DC to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria.

    Today White House Spokesman Jay Carney made the administration’s legal case for a military attack against Syria, noting 189 countries across the globe have signed on to prohibit the use of chemical weapons. Should the administration pursue a military response, Carney said “the options that we are considering are not about regime change.”

    Andrew Tabler, a senior fellow in the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute, lived in Syria for seven years. Tabler joined Hari Sreenivasan via Skype to discuss the post-Civil War prospects for Bashar Assad’s regime.

    “It’s completely different from the old regime which was more predictable and ultimately brought stability to the country,” he said. “What we are going to have instead are three Syrias, one controlled by the regime, one with the Sunni Arab forces and one with the opposition forces and the Kurds.”

    “This war,” Tabler said, “is not going to end — no matter what happens — in the next few days.”

    Watch more NewsHour reports on the crisis in Syria.

    Editor’s note: Starting Sept. 7, the PBS NewsHour is expanding its family, adding a “PBS NewsHour Weekend” newscast on Saturdays and Sundays. The 30-minute show will be anchored by NewsHour senior correspondent Hari Sreenivasan.

    You can subscribe to Hari on Facebook, Google Plus and on Twitter @Hari.

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    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Secretary of State John Kerry at a meeting at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 9. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

    While U.S. officials appear to be building a case for possible military intervention in Syria, Russia is taking a backseat for now and letting the responsibility for any military strikes fall on the United States and its Western allies, said public policy analyst Dimitri Simes.

    Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that a chemical weapon attack last week in Syria was perpetrated by the regime and was a "moral obscenity" that "should shock the conscience" of the world.

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel followed up in a BBC interview, saying the U.S. military is "ready to go" with "whatever option the president wishes to take." And he's been coordinating with Western allies on a response to the chemical attack.

    Simes, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for the National Interest, said a U.S.-led attack, most likely precision missile strikes on Syrian targets, seems imminent unless U.N. inspectors investigating the chemical weapon sites in Syria find that the chemical agents weren't the type that Syrian forces are known to have, or that the poisonous gasses were delivered by the rebel side. Those definitive findings seem highly unlikely, he added.

    But if the United States does move forward with military action, "Russia would stay on the sidelines," said Simes. "Russia does not intend to become a part of the hostilities at this point."

    Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that Moscow had no plans to be drawn into a military intervention in Syria and that the "use of force without the approval of the United Nations Security Council is a very grave violation of international law." Russia supplies arms to the Syrian government and has a naval facility in the Syrian port city of Tartus.

    It could be a different story if Russians now living in Syria were harmed, said Simes. There are about 30,000 to 40,000 mostly Russian women who have married Syrian natives, and their children living in the troubled Middle Eastern country, he said. If the rebels were to retaliate against them, Russia would feel compelled to act against the rebels, he added.

    Russia also likely wouldn't strike back if there were some sort of targeted attack against the Syrian regime, but in the long run, there could be some security implications, Simes continued. It could lead to closer Russian cooperation with China and Iran, along the lines of helping bolster Iranian defenses against possible U.S. military action there, and possibly the degradation of joint counterterrorism efforts with the U.S.

    Elizabeth O'Bagy, a senior research analyst and the Syria team lead at the Institute for the Study of War, said since the United States has already committed itself to aiding the opposition through nonlethal means and some military assistance, any U.S. military action is likely to be a specific response to the use of chemical weapons rather than a broad-scale attack on the Syrian military aimed at benefitting the rebels. The narrow military action could include ship-launched Tomahawk missiles targeting Syria's weapons delivery systems or known chemical weapons facilities, she said.

    The biggest role Russia plays in the Syria conflict is in the United Nations, said O'Bagy. The legal justification for any sort of attack on Syria would be harder for the United States to make if Russia takes a stance against it, she said.

    In addition, Russia has been working in concert with the United States on trying to find a political solution to Syria's civil war. A possible U.S.-led military strike would complicate those efforts, O'Bagy said.

    Recent developments in Syria led U.S. officials, including Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, to postpone a meeting with a Russian delegation that was supposed to take place on Wednesday in The Hague. The purpose of the meeting was to plan a conference aimed at finding a peaceful resolution in Syria.

    Related Resources

    PBS NewsHour senior correspondent Judy Woodruff discussed U.S. options in Syria with Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations and Jeffrey White of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Monday: Watch Video

    Is Western Intervention Warranted if U.N. Confirms Syria Used Chemical Weapons?

    Syrian Regime Denies Using Poisonous Gas in Deadly Attack Outside Damascus

    On Tuesday's PBS NewsHour, senior correspondent Margaret Warner will discuss the latest Syria developments. View all of our Syria coverage.

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    As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the PBS NewsHour prepares to make some history of its own.

    Wednesday, Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will sit down with President Barack Obama. The duo will talk to the president in the White House, soon after he delivers a speech at the Lincoln Memorial that commemorates Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

    Mr. Obama will reflect on civil rights and economic opportunity in America five decades after the March on Washington, as well as on the news of the day, as tensions continue to flare up in Syria.

    The presidential interview will take place in the Blue Room and will air in full on the PBS NewsHour broadcast Wednesday evening and here on our website.

    Also on our homepage, the NewsHour will live stream Wednesday's 50th anniversary events from Washington, including speeches from Mr. Obama and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

    Find our extensive and in-depth coverage of the March at 50 here.

    Tune in Wednesday, follow @NewsHour for updates, and watch this space for excerpts, a transcript and more.

    Gwen and Judy recently were named the co-anchors and managing editors of the NewsHour. The new format launches Sept. 9.

    And don't miss the Sept. 7 debut of PBS NewsHour Weekend with Hari Sreenivasan.

    For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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

    The NewsHour's Jim Lehrer interviewed President Obama in 2009, just shy of one year into his term. Topics of the day included the health care bill moving its way through the Senate and the Copenhagen climate talks.

    Follow the politics team on Twitter:

    Follow @cbellantoni

    Follow @burlijFollow @kpolantzFollow @elizsummersFollow @ljspbs

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The eyes of the world were focused on Washington and other Western capitals today amid rising expectations that an attack on Syria is coming soon.

    The Obama administration insisted again there is no doubt the Assad regime used chemical weapons last week in a Damascus suburb. Inside the White House, the emphasis was on laying the legal groundwork for a possible military strike in Syria.

    Spokesman Jay Carney pointed out that nearly 190 nations have signed a convention opposing the use of chemical weapons.

    JAY CARNEY, White House Press Secretary: There must be a response. Kerry made that clear at the president's instruction yesterday. I echoed that here yesterday and I'm echoing it again today. There must be a response. We cannot allow this kind of violation of an international norm with all the attendant grave consequences that it represents to go unanswered.

    What form that response will take is what the president is assessing now with his team.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Whatever form it takes, Carney was quick to say the goal will be limited.

    JAY CARNEY: I want to make clear that the options that we are considering are not about regime change. They are about responding to a clear violation of an international standard that prohibits the use of chemical weapons.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: As President Obama pondered his options, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, visiting Brunei, told the BBC the U.S. military is set once a decision is made.

    DEFENSE SECRETARY CHUCK HAGEL: Our allies, our partners, leaders all over the world have said, let's get the facts, let's get the intelligence, and then a decision will be made on whether action should be taken, if action should be taken, what action, or no action.

    QUESTION: But if the order comes, you're ready to go like that?

    CHUCK HAGEL: We're ready to go like that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Syrian President Bashar Assad remained defiant. He told a state-run news agency that if the U.S. strikes, it will face, in his words, "what it has been confronted with in every war since Vietnam: failure."

    Echoing that, Assad's deputy foreign minister said his country would respond swiftly if attacked.

    FAISAL MEKDAD, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister: We know how to defend ourselves. But as the Americans, the British and the French have failed in Afghanistan and Iraq and other places, they will fail in Syria, and there will be a high price, not only for them, but for international peace and security.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Britain, there was a flurry of activity in and out of 10 Downing Street, as Prime Minister David Cameron called Parliament into session this Thursday to consider action.

    PRIME MINSTER DAVID CAMERON, Britain: Let me stress to people this is not about getting involved in a Middle Eastern war or changing our stance in Syria or going further into that conflict. It's nothing to do with that. It's about chemical weapons. Their use is wrong. And that would shouldn't stand idly by.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Paris, French President Francois Hollande said his country favors action as well.

    PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, France (through interpreter): The chemical massacre in Damascus cannot be left without a response, and France is ready to punish those who took the despicable decision to gas the innocent.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Arab League also spoke out at an emergency meeting in Cairo. It accused Syria of using chemical weapons, without directly endorsing the use of force by Western powers.

    NABIL ELARABY, Arab League Secretary-General (through interpreter): I condemn the attack and I call upon the international inspectors from the United Nations who are present in Damascus to go immediately to the area of the attack to find out the truth behind these crimes. It is an international violation of human rights. And the ones who committed the crime must be dealt with according to the international justice system.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But at a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, many who have been forced to flee their homeland said the West cannot act soon enough.

    ABU YASSER, Syrian refugee (through interpreter): We totally support an American military strike against Bashar al-Assad. We hope -- the Syrian people hope that a military operation will start soon. What are they waiting for?

    UM MOHAMMAD, Syrian refugee (through interpreter): We all support such a decision because countries have not supported us. The Arab and Western countries have failed us and let us down. But if they decide to interfere militarily against Bashar's regime, God bless them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, U.N. inspectors remained at a Damascus hotel, a potential complication for Western military planners. The team postponed visiting the site of the alleged gas attack today, citing security concerns.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Margaret Warner has been covering today's developments on this story and she joins me now.

    And, Margaret, before we begin, we should tell our audience that the NewsHour will have an exclusive interview with President Obama on tomorrow's program.

    So, what are you hearing behind the scenes, that the president will wait to make a decision until these U.N. inspectors finish their work?

    MARGARET WARNER: No, Judy, he will not. That is what I am told, that, as one U.S. official, one White House official said, they are not going to be held hostage to the timetable of the U.N. inspectors, especially if it appears the Assad regime is trying to delay them.

    That said -- and it's unclear when those inspectors will be done, though I'm told by the U.N. that they're going to -- once they have concluded their report about what happened last week, they are going to issue that, before they go on to other sites they were to look at.

    However, what the U.N. inspectors find is important to the administration in terms of building an international case, because they are looking not only at whether C.W. was used, but what type, how widespread and potentially the delivery vehicles. That is, they want to build a narrative.

    And so if you can determine what kind of weapons were used and say fragments of rockets, for example, that only the Assad regime has, that helps build an international case.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, if they're not waiting for that, what has been going on behind the scenes?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, behind the scenes, you know, Judy, you noticed today in the public statements they didn't advance the ball at all.

    But, behind the scenes, I'm told what they are really debating is what course of action militarily needs meets the defined objectives, but limited objectives, which is not to get involved in the civil war, as we have heard everyone say, but to punish, also deter and prevent the Assad regime from being able to use C.W., chemical weapons, again.

    Now, that sounds easy, but as it's described to me, it's not so easy, because if you are really going to prevent future use of chemical weapons, that means attacking some of the military assets involved in this. Is it command-and-control? Is it the units that delivered them? Is it the kind of delivery sites, rocket sites that were involved?

    That naturally will degrade Assad's ability on the battlefield. So it's really trying to walk that fine line. And to that end, they are consulting with allies, military and political allies and also to some degree on the Hill.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, a lot of consulting. Do they have a timetable at this point?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, I think -- these are straws in the wind, but Jay Carney, the spokesman, said today the timetable for the president to issue -- or the White House issue the U.S. intelligence assessment is by the end of the week.

    And a diplomat in one of America's allied countries said their understanding was it would come in the next day or two, and before British Prime Minister Cameron has his special meeting of the Parliament on Thursday, where they are going to debate this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So they are paying attention to what the British Parliament does?

    MARGARET WARNER: Oh, yes. But you can see this is a whole one-two step. You had William Hague, the British foreign secretary, coming on The Today Show and you had Hagel going on the BBC. They are very much working in tandem.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we also know, Margaret, there is a rising crescendo of members of Congress saying it's not enough for the president to consult with Congress. He needs congressional authorization. What are they saying about that?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, from what I hear, Judy there are not many call for authorization. Speaker Boehner didn't say that. Senator Cornyn today talked about appropriate consultation.

    There is one congressman from Virginia, a Republican, who talked about authorization. But what they have been doing is stepping up their calls. I'm told Senator Kerry has talked to, for instance, the Senate Foreign Relations chairman, Menendez, and Carl Levin, the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, though I'm told that Congressman Mike Rogers, Republican head of the House Intel Committee, has received only a kind of sketchy briefing, not really a full phone call not from a senior member of the administration like Senator Kerry and doesn't feel he has been really consulted.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So the consultations are ongoing.

    MARGARET WARNER: I think they are still ongoing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Margaret, what about -- tell us a little bit more about what the allies are saying. Will there be -- if there is U.S. action, which allies will be on board? Who won't? What about the Arab nations?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, Judy, if you start with the premise -- which I think the administration is -- that a U.N. resolution authorizing this is unlikely, then they have to build an international coalition, which is the way they did going into Kosovo many, many years ago.

    I think they are counting on the British and French. We could hear their leaders say that today. But the question is, can they get some regional actors involved? The Arab League, as you just pointed out, said this was reprehensible and that Assad did it, but didn't endorse military action.

    The Gulf states are certainly behind this. Neighbor Turkey is very much behind this, probably will be part of a coalition as a NATO member. But there are other states in the region who are nervous. For example, Egypt, no love lost with Assad there with the new Egyptian military regime, but said it is a very sensitive subject for us with our public. So the case really has to be laid out internationally, which is why the U.N. inspection report is important.

    Israel, of course, is getting ready for some kind of retaliation, so they have done everything from cancel...

    JUDY WOODRUFF: From the Syrians, from Hezbollah.

    MARGARET WARNER: From the Syrians or from Hezbollah.

    I mean, they don't know that it will happen, but they are prepared, so they have canceled military leaves, upgraded gas masks.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, just quickly, Margaret, no waiting for the U.N. to discuss this and debate?

    MARGARET WARNER: No.

    What I do not know -- and I don't know if it's unclear, undecided or just not known to us -- is whether the administration will feel it needs to make at least the effort, go to the U.N., propose a resolution, get voted down, and then act.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Margaret Warner, some great reporting once again. Thank you.

    MARGARET WARNER: Thanks.

     


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    KWAME HOLMAN: Talk of U.S. military strikes on Syria rattled Wall Street. Stocks sank on fears of even more instability in the Middle East. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 170 points to close at 14,776. The Nasdaq fell 79 points to close at 3,578. In addition, the price of oil in New York topped $109, the highest in a year-and-a-half.

    Firefighters in California claimed advances today against a huge fire near Yosemite National Park. It's now charred an area larger than the city of Chicago, but is 20 percent contained. The battle against the expanding blaze entered its 11th day, as fire crews worked to grow the containment lines around more of its perimeter.

    Even with that progress, the enormous wildfire burned more of the Stanislaus National Forest overnight, spreading to a total of 280 square miles.

    MIKE DUEITT, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: It's not growing like it did in the earlier days. But it is still active. It's still moving. It's still giving them fits. It's spotting.

    KWAME HOLMAN: NASA satellite images released today showed smoke plumes reaching for miles.

    Officials hoped the forecast cooler temperatures and higher humidity starting tomorrow will allow crews to get the upper hand.

    LEE BENTLEY, U.S. Forest Service: We are starting to get a little bit ahead on this thing. It's been a real tiger. It's been going around trying to bite its own tail, and it won't let go. But we will get there.

    KWAME HOLMAN: The wildfire has expanded steadily eastward in recent days, moving deeper into Yosemite National Park's backcountry, but most of the park remains open and unaffected.

    Flames also have come within a half-mile of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which supplies 85 percent of San Francisco's drinking water. But officials today were more confident the fire wouldn't disrupt hydroelectricity made by the reservoir's dam. And the danger of ash tainting the water supply was avoided by a new gravity-operated pipeline that moved water to holding basins closer to the city.

    Elsewhere, the fire has consumed stands of thick oak and pine as it closes in on Tuolumne City west of Yosemite.

    PAT BUCK, Tuolumne city resident: Going up and down the canyons, and we don't know where it's coming up, and we don't know from day to day which community is threatened, so a little spooky, a little spooky.

    KWAME HOLMAN: The Rim fire now is the largest on record in California's Sierra Nevada mountains. Investigators still are trying to determine how it started.

    The U.S. secretary of homeland security says her agency is better prepared now to respond to natural disasters and to terrorism. Janet Napolitano gave her farewell speech today and touted the department's handling of Hurricane Sandy, the Gulf oil spill and the Boston Marathon bombing.

    JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary: Each of these challenges tested us in new ways. They presented new opportunities for us to learn, grow and get better at what we do as a department and as a nation.

    I'm proud of our accomplishments and the men and women across DHS who made them possible. I'm proud of how far we have come over the past four-and-a-half years. And I'm proud to have played a role in guiding the department to a more mature and stable state of operations.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Napolitano departs Washington next week. She is leaving to become president of the University of California system.

    A former J.P. Morgan Chase trader was arrested in Spain today for allegedly covering up $6 billion in losses. Javier Martin-Artajo turned himself in to police in Madrid and said he will fight any attempt to extradite him. He and another trader face U.S. criminal charges of falsifying bank records. Both men have denied wrongdoing.

    For the first time, the public can see then President Gerald Ford describe an attempt on his life. It happened in Sacramento, Calif., in September 1975. Two months later, Mr. Ford testified privately against the would-be assassin, Lynnette "Squeaky" Fromme, a follower of Charles Manson. Yesterday, a federal court released the videotaped deposition and The Sacramento Bee newspaper posted it online.

    In it, the president calmly tells how Fromme tried and failed to shoot him.

    PRESIDENT GERALD FORD: The weapon was large. It covered all or most of her hand as far as I could see. And I only saw it instantaneously, because almost automatically one of the Secret Service agents lunged, grabbed the hand and the weapon, and then I was pushed off by the other members of the Secret Service detail.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Fromme was convicted and ultimately released from federal prison in 2009. Mr. Ford passed away in 2006. His testimony was made public at the request of a Sacramento historical group.

    A Philadelphia hospital today released Sarah Murnaghan, the child who sparked a national debate about the organ transplant system. She suffers from cystic fibrosis and was at the bottom of the priority list for new adult lungs because of her age, until a federal judge intervened. Today, she arrived home. Her parents, Fran and Janet Murnaghan, said they hope their story serves as an example for others.

    FRAN MURNAGHAN, father of Sarah Murnaghan: You can really make change and you can really -- the most important thing is, always advocate for your child, always. And if there are things that you don't think can be accomplished, they can. They can. And people will come behind you and support you to do that.

    JANET MURNAGHAN, mother of Sarah Murnaghan: Yes. There are a lot more amazing people out than...

    FRAN MURNAGHAN: You can ever imagine.

    JANET MURNAGHAN: ... you could ever imagine.

    KWAME HOLMAN: The 11-year-old child had been hospitalized since February. She received her new lungs over the summer.

    Those are some of the day's major stories.


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    GWEN IFILL: Next, we turn to another in our continuing series of conversations about the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

    Leon Dukes, now from Upstate New York, was a student at Virginia's Hampton University in 1963.

    LEON DUKES, participated in March on Washington: It was just amazing that 200,000-plus people was just in -- just in unity and harmony.

    And listening to the people who were doing the speeches and the singing, it was just -- it was just awesome. We talked about it. And everyone was lifted up. And we're coming back on the bus. We were singing. We were laughing. We were talking about the events. We were talking about the future. We were talking about, things are going to change, you know?

    And people were saying, one day, we are going to have a president who is going to be an African American. And people were just fore -- just foretelling the future because of the excitement of what took place.

    I think, when we scattered and left, you could feel the vibration that America now is being infused with all of these change agents. We didn't know what, but something was going to happen and something good was going to happen. We didn't know when, where and how, but something was going to happen.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That was Leon Dukes from Latham, New York. You can find his story and other firsthand accounts recorded for the Web series Memories of the March produced by public television stations around the country on the PBS Web site Black Culture Connection.

    GWEN IFILL: John Lewis was the youngest to address the crowd of more than 200,000 people that day. He remembers the experience now like it happened yesterday. Now a Democratic congressman from Georgia, Lewis' Capitol Hill office is a living museum, its walls covered with photographs and memorabilia from the civil rights era.

    We talked about his experience as one of the so-called big six leaders in the movement.

    Congressman, thank you for joining us.

    I want to take you back 50 years to the day the March on Washington. You were 23 years old. And you are now the last living speaker from that day. What was that day like? You were on the stage with your heroes.

    REP. JOHN LEWIS, D-Ga.: On that day, I was blessed.

    I felt like I had been tracked down by some force or some spirit. I will never forget when A. Philip Randolph said, "I now present to you young John Lewis, the national chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee."

    And I went to the podium. I looked to my right. I saw many, many young people, staffers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, volunteers. Then I looked to my left. I saw all these young people up in the trees, trying to get a better view of the podium.

    Then I looked straight ahead. And I saw so many people with their feet in the water trying to cool off. And then I said to myself, this is it, and I went for it.

    GWEN IFILL: You were standing on that same spot. If you go to the Lincoln Memorial today, there is an actual disk that shows where the speeches were given, looking all the way down the Mall to the Capitol.

    And -- but that was a moment in time. It was what led up to that which brought some of the drama. Your speech wasn't universally embraced, what you planned to say that day.

    JOHN LEWIS: Well, all over the American South, there had been hundreds and thousands of arrests. People had been beaten, jailed. Some people had died in the struggle.

    We had met with President Kennedy, six of us, the so-called big six.

    GWEN IFILL: And who were the big six?

    JOHN LEWIS: A. Philip Randolph was one of the big six. He was the dean of the group, unbelievable man, principle of a man. He was so gifted, so smart, labor leader, spokesperson for civil rights, had organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, born in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to New York.

    And then you had Whitney Young of the National Urban League, who was born in Kentucky and later became a social worker and head of the School of Social Work at Atlanta University and just a beautiful human being.

    Then it was James Farmer, who had attended Little Wiley College in Texas and Howard University, worked for the NAACP, and later became the head of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality. Roy Wilkins, head of the NAACP, grew up in Minnesota. He was a warrior. He was a fighter. And then young Martin Luther King Jr., born in Georgia, a man that I admired, I loved. He was my inspiration.

    GWEN IFILL: And then you?

    JOHN LEWIS: And myself.

    GWEN IFILL: The youngster.

    JOHN LEWIS: I was young. I was very young.

    So I grew up very poor in rural Alabama. And growing up, I saw those signs that said, white men, colored men, white women, colored women, white waiting, colored waiting.

    And I would come home and ask my mother, my father, my grandparents, my great-grandparents, why? And they would say, that is the way it is. Don't get in the way. Don't get in trouble. Well, when I was 15 years old in 1955, I heard of Rosa Parks. I heard the words of Martin Luther King Jr. on our radio.

    The action of Rosa Parks, the words and leadership of Dr. King inspired me. I was deeply inspired. I wanted to do something. I wanted to bring down those signs.

    GWEN IFILL: John F. Kennedy wasn't -- he was not a fan of this march originally.

    JOHN LEWIS: He didn't like the idea of a March on Washington.

    When we met with him, A. Philip Randolph spoke up in his baritone voice we met with the president. And he said, "Mr. President, the black masses are restless. And we are going to march on Washington."

    And you could tell by the movement of President Kennedy -- he started moving and twisting in his chair. And he said, in effect, that if you bring all these people to Washington, won't it be violence and chaos and disorder?

    Mr. Randolph responded and said, "Mr. President, there's been orderly, peaceful, nonviolent protests."

    And President Kennedy said, in so many words, I think we are going to have problems. So we left that meeting with President Kennedy. We came out on the lawn at the White House and spoke to the media and said, we had a meaningful and productive meeting with the president of the United States. And we told him we're going to March on Washington.

    And a few days later, July 2, 1963, the six of us met in New York City at the old Roosevelt Hotel. And in that meeting, we made a decision to invite four major white religious and labor leaders to join us in issuing the call for the March on Washington.

    GWEN IFILL: And that is why, when you look at the pictures of the march now, it's remarkable how diverse it was, how many white faces there were, how many black faces there were all mixed in.

    JOHN LEWIS: The march was a march for all of America. It was all-inclusive. It was black, and white, Latino, Asian-American, and Native American.

    It represented the best of America. People came from all over the place. You saw hundreds and thousands of religious leaders and church people, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish. They came from places like Idaho, Wyoming. All over, they were there carrying their signs.

    GWEN IFILL: When you gave your speech that day, you were considered to be a radical. Everybody remembers the "I Have a Dream" speech as being this uplifting speech about togetherness and brotherhood, but yours was a little tougher.

    JOHN LEWIS: I felt that we had to be tough.

    I had to deliver a speech that reflected the feeling, the views of the young people, and also the views and feelings of the people that was struggling in the Black Belt of Alabama, in Southwest, Georgia, in the Delta of Mississippi.

    GWEN IFILL: There was a line in it about marching through the South like Sherman which had to be exercised before you delivered it; isn't that right?

    JOHN LEWIS: It is true that I did have a line in the speech which said, in effect, if we do not see meaningful progress here today, the day will come when we will not confine our marching in Washington, but we may be forced to march through the South, the way Sherman did, nonviolently. The archbishop of Washington, D'Arcy -- Archbishop O'Boyle threatened not to give invocation...

    GWEN IFILL: Oh, really?

    JOHN LEWIS: ... if I didn't delete that part of the speech.

    And we had some discussion the evening before the march. And, later, someone came to me and said, that's their problem with your speech. And they said, we have got to make some changes. You have got to delete something.

    And I remember having a discussion with Mr. Wilkins, Roy Wilkins. And I said to Mr. Wilkins, in so many words, I said, Roy, this is my speech. I'm speaking for the young people, speaking for people fresh from jails.

    And he sort of dropped it. And then A. Philip Randolph and Martin Luther King Jr. came to me. And we met right on the side of Mr. Lincoln. The music was already playing. Someone had a portable typewriter.

    And Dr. King said to me: "John, that doesn't sound like you."

    And Mr. Randolph said, "John, we have come this far together. Let's stay together."

    I couldn't say no to A. Philip Randolph or Martin Luther King Jr. Mr. Randolph had been dreaming of a march on Washington since the days of Roosevelt and the days of Truman. So we made those changes. And I deleted all the references to Sherman and sort of suggested that we would be forced to march through some cities, including cities in the North, as well as the South.

    GWEN IFILL: So, after the speech was over, you went back to the White House, and this time, the president was a little happier.

    JOHN LEWIS: After Dr. King had delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, President Kennedy invited us back to the White House.

    He was standing in the door of the Oval Office. He was just smiling, almost grinning. He was so pleased. He was so up. It was almost like a father proud of his children. And he stood in the door, and he greeted each one of us. "You did a good job. You did a good job."

    And when he got to Dr. King, he said, "And you had a dream."

    GWEN IFILL: As people celebrate the 50th anniversary in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on voting rights and in the wake of the turmoil this summer over the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case, should people be feeling -- not just black people, all Americans -- be feeling optimistic or a little bit depressed about the state of race relations right now?

    JOHN LEWIS: I think all Americans should be hopeful, and try to be optimistic.

    But the American people, people who believe in justice, believe in fairness, believe in equality should be concerned. The decision of the Supreme Court was a major setback. I truly believe that the Supreme Court put a dagger through the heart and soul of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    The decision in the Zimmerman case reminded me when I was very young, when Emmett Till was lynched on August 28, 1955. I was 15 years old. I was out in a cornfield working when we heard about what happened.

    It brought about a lot of pain and hurt. And I think what we have in America today, pain and hurt. People say, how can something like this happen? How can the Supreme Court do what it did?

    But you have to have hope. You have to be optimistic in order to continue to move forward.

    GWEN IFILL: Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.

    JOHN LEWIS: Well, thank you for having me.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Powerful interview.

    A new documentary on the March on Washington airs tonight on PBS. Narrated by Denzel Washington, it explores the grassroots efforts leading up to the event, the fears of violence that never came to pass, and the music that was everywhere that day.

    Here is an excerpt.

    CROWD: Freedom! Freedom! Freedom! 

    MAN: The long-awaited march for jobs and freedom on Washington, D.C., has started, and it started early, without its scheduled leaders. About 10 minutes ago, the march began.

    MAN: I will tell you, when I began to really feel good was when Joan Baez sang, "We Shall Overcome." You just felt, this is it. This is OK. This has got it. And you could feel everybody going, yes.  

    JOAN BAEZ, musician: He was in some ways my best contribution to the civil rights movement, this -- making what I call salt-and-pepper audiences.  

    People would come to me years and years later saying they were standing next to somebody from the school and holding hands singing "We Shall Overcome." Those stories are so moving to me.

    (SINGING)

    DENZEL WASHINGTON, narrator: By 9:30, 40,000 people were at the meeting point of the march. Cars and buses had arrived from Alabama, Mississippi, and every other Southern state.  

    By 10:00, 972 chartered buses and 13 special trains carrying 55,000 people had left New York. By 10:30, 100 buses an hour would be arriving in Washington.


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