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- 01/19/14--08:32: UAE to require military service for Emirati men
- 01/19/14--10:06: Lawmakers question proposed U.S. surveillance changes
- 01/19/14--11:33: NewsHour Weekend is LIVE at 5
- 01/19/14--12:05: New accusations may embroil New Jersey governor in second scandal
- 01/19/14--12:10: Program teaches cybersecurity students how to think like hackers
- 01/19/14--12:19: Iraqis continue fight against Al Qaeda in Anbar province
- 01/17/14--13:19: How does health care in America differ from that of other countries?
- 01/20/14--02:00: Lost speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. surfaces in New York
- 01/20/14--07:36: Poco progress in Mexico drug war
- 01/20/14--07:55: Obama on marijuana legalization: 'Important for it to go forward'
- 01/20/14--08:29: Sherlock 'Curly Fu' Holmes finds large, devoted audience in China
- 01/20/14--09:14: The case for a kidney marketplace
- 01/20/14--09:56: Avoid the Social Security Nightmare That Doomed This Couple
- 01/20/14--13:08: World powers dispute whether Iran should attend Syrian peace talks
- 01/20/14--13:22: How does political uncertainty affect Afghanistan's security?
The Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, took to Twitter on Sunday to announce the Gulf state's plans to implement mandatory military service for Emirati men between 18 and 30 years of age.
The new law adds another layer to the national defense force to further protect our nation, secure its borders & preserve its achievements.— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) January 19, 2014
The UAE cabinet has endorsed the law, according to the state's WAM news agency.
Emirati men with high school degrees will serve nine months in the country's armed forces, while those who have not completed high school will serve for two years. Military service for women will remain voluntary.
The Associated Press reports the announcement appeared to be an attempt to get more Emirati nationals to serve in the armed forces. The UAE currently relies on foreigners, who make up 90 percent of the population, to fill out its military.
This measure could also be a response to instability and threats in the region, including a territorial dispute with Iran over three islands in the Gulf.
WASHINGTON -- A chief element of President Barack Obama's attempt to overhaul U.S. surveillance will not work, leaders of Congress' intelligence committees said Sunday, pushing back against the idea that the government should cede control of how Americans' phone records are stored.
President Barack Obama announced changes to the U.S. surveillance program in a widely anticipated speech Friday.
Obama, under pressure to calm the controversy over government spying, said Friday he wants bulk phone data stored outside the government to reduce the risk that the records will be abused. The president said he will require a special judge's advance approval before intelligence agencies can examine someone's data and will force analysts to keep their searches closer to suspected terrorists or organizations.
"And I think that's a very difficult thing," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Sunday. "Because the whole purpose of this program is to provide instantaneous information to be able to disrupt any plot that may be taking place."
Under the surveillance program, the NSA gathers phone numbers called and the length of conversations, but not the content of the calls. Obama said the NSA sometimes needs to tap those records to find people linked to suspected terrorists. But he said eventually the bulk data should be stored somewhere out of the government's hands. That could mean finding a way for phone companies to store the records, though some companies have balked at the idea, or it could mean creating a third-party entity to hold the records.
Feinstein, D-Calif., said many Americans don't understand that threats persist a dozen years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "New bombs are being devised. New terrorists are emerging, new groups. Actually, a new level of viciousness. And I think we need to be prepared," Feinstein said.
Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Obama had intensified a sense of uncertainty about the country's ability to root out terrorist threats. Obama didn't say who should have control of Americans' data; he directed the attorney general and director of national intelligence to find a solution within 60 days.
"We really did need a decision on Friday, and what we got was lots of uncertainty," Rogers, R-Mich., said. "And just in my conversations over the weekend with intelligence officials, this new level of uncertainty is already having a bit of an impact on our ability to protect Americans by finding terrorists who are trying to reach into the United States."
The lawmakers did praise the president for his defense of the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. "First, I thought it was very important that the president laid out no abuses, this was not an illegal program, it wasn't a rogue agency," Rogers said.
The surveillance programs have been under fire since former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden absconded with an estimated 1.7 million documents related to surveillance and other NSA operations, giving the documents to journalists around the world. Revelations in the documents sparked a furor over whether Americans have been giving up privacy protections in exchange for intelligence-gathering on terrorism.
Congress will have a lot of say in how and whether Obama's ideas are carried out.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has proposed to end the NSA's bulk data collection program, putting him at odds with his fellow Democrat Feinstein on the issue. Leahy said senators would have many questions for Attorney General Eric Holder when he comes before the Judiciary Committee next week.
Yet Leahy suggested Sunday he might not fight the president on allowing the NSA's surveillance programs to continue.
"No, I think we have a way that we could do this, but it's not a question of fighting the president," Leahy said on Fox. "The question is, what is Congress going to do on this? ... I just think that there should be an oversight.
"I mean, I was a prosecutor for eight years; I believe in going after the bad guys," Leahy said. "And I realize this is an entirely different level of the bad guys that I went after, but you still have to have some checks and balances, or you have a government that can run amok."
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul, said on ABC that Obama was moving in the right direction.
"I think what gave most Americans heartburn was that this data was being stored under the NSA and warehoused under the government," said McCaul, R-Texas.
But McCaul allowed, "I think it's very difficult to decide who has the capability to store and use this data."
Sen. Mark Udall, another critic of the NSA surveillance program, praised the president's ideas and said the limitations Obama proposed mean that "we won't collect every Americans' phone records almost every day."
Udall, D-Colo. and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Congress has a real motivation to make meaningful changes to the program because authority to conduct the spying under post-9/11 laws expires next year. "So we have real motivation to get it right and to work together," Udall said on CBS.
Feinstein and Rogers appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press." Rogers also appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" and CBS' "Face the Nation." Leahy appeared on "Fox News Sunday." Udall appeared on CBS.
Associated Press reporter Libby Quaid wrote this report.
It's 5 p.m. EST -- where are you getting your news? PBS NewsHour Weekend is streaming live on our UStream channel and in the player above.
HARI SREENIVASAN: New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, will be inaugurated for a second term Tuesday, but questions persist about his staff's involvement in this so-called Bridgegate scandal. This weekend there were new allegations that members of his team threatened to hold relief funds to the town of Hoboken, unless its mayor supported a development plan favored by Christie aides. For more about all of this we are joined by Michael Aron, the chief political correspondent for NJTV. So, explain these new allegations and why they matter.
MICHAEL ARON: If you are Chris Christie this is like a second front in the war being opened against you. The mayor of Hoboken says that two, high-level members of the Christie Administration basically strong-armed her into approving a development project. She did not go along with it, but they said you are not getting your Sandy relief money in Hoboken - a town that was very hard hit by Sandy - unless you approve the Rockefeller Group's development plan for a three-block area of Hoboken. The Rockefeller Group was represented by David Sampson, one of Christie's closest confidants, the Chairman of the Port Authority in New York and New Jersey - this has nothing to do with the bridge other than this looks like another strong-arm tactic.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, to put this in perspective for a national audience, how bad was Hoboken hit? How much was she asking for? How much did Hoboken get?
MICHAEL ARON: Eighty percent of Hoboken was underwater. Hoboken sits right on the Hudson River, right across from Manhattan. It is one mile square. 50,000 people within that one mile - it is very densely populated. It was really badly, badly flooded by Sandy. She claimed yesterday on television that she asked for $100 million dollars, that she got $342,000 dollars. The Christie Administration, which is sending out statements discrediting her and disputing everything she says, says Hoboken is in line to get $70 million dollars. Some reporting I've seen says that’s money from insurance companies to homeowners. That’s not the federal money that Chris Christie fought so hard to get a year ago, so that’s where we stand at the moment.
HARI SREENIVASAN: One of the reasons we are talking about him is because he is such a national figure, and on the short list for a possible presidential candidacy. He is the head of the Republican Governors Association. He is even in Florida this weekend raising money for fellow Republicans. How does this play? How do his supporters think about one scandal or another scandal after another?
MICHAEL ARON: They are worried. His brother was on Facebook this morning echoing what his press secretary said yesterday. This is Democratic, partisan game playing, and the media is buying into it. It is Democratic media piling on and they are really concerned. I think this second front - as much as it is just politics as usual; we are not going to give you this unless you do that - it does not look good because it plays into this notion that Chris Christie is a bully and uses strong-arm tactics.
HARI SREENIVASAN: This was almost supposed to be a victory lap, heading into his inauguration coming up on Tuesday. Instead, he has to start out his State of the State Address defending himself about this. Is his popularity in New Jersey suffering at all?
MICHAEL ARON: Not according to the polls. His poll numbers are still high, but I think everything about Chris Christie is hanging in the balance here. Depending on how this plays out - there are some who think he is toast already as a presidential candidate, I don't. I think he can explain - if awareness of the bridge closures do not rise much above where it is right now, I think he can ride this out. There are some who even think he is looking strong, and firm, and tough in dealing with the crisis. But if that rises further, or if other mayors, like the Hoboken Mayor, started coming out of the woodwork saying, "he punished me in this fashion… he punished me in this fashion…" this could all be the end of Chris Christie's national ambition.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Michael Aron from NJTV. Thanks so much.
MICHAEL ARON: Thank you, Hari.
RICK KARR: The bad guys stole more than three million Social Security numbers from the State of South Carolina. As many as seventy million credit card numbers from Sony PlayStation. They got access to all of the personal details of some customers of a nationwide mortgage lending firm. But cybercriminals aren’t just looking to steal personal information and credit card numbers when they break into corporate computers -- they’re looking for other valuable information.
STEWART BAKER: Everything about your business is accessible to an attacker.
RICK KARR: Stuart Baker is former general counsel of the NSA who’s now a computer security consultant.
STEWART BAKER: They can steal your designs. They can steal your-- knowhow. They can steal your customer list and your internal analysis of what the biggest problems are in your product. This is pretty scary.
RICK KARR: The bad guys are mostly working from China and former Soviet states. They’re well-trained. Some of them are protected by -- or even working for -- their governments, so they don’t care about getting caught. And they might be able to do even more that steal information from businesses. Security experts worry that they could cripple the banking system ... or shut down parts of the electric grid. Baker says ... American businesses need a new mindset if they’re going to defend themselves.
STEWART BAKER: I'm a big believer that-- the best defense is an offense. And-- if we're going to have an offense-- we've got to have people who are really talented drawn to that field.
RICK KARR: People like these college undergraduates, who just might be able to save America’s corporations and governments from the bad-guy hackers: They’re students at Carnegie Mellon University, one of the nation’s top computer science schools ... and they’re learning to fight off the bad guys ... by thinking the same way they do. They’re learning to be the good guy hackers.
DAVID BRUMLEY: You have to understand and be able to anticipate how attackers are going to come at you. 'Cause if you're only doing defense, if you don't look at offense at all, you're always reacting and you're always one step behind.
RICK KARR: Is that different? Is that a change in the way computer science faculties have approached this?
DAVID BRUMLEY: Traditionally, yeah. Traditionally, there hasn't been a lot of expertise in offensive computer security. And it really hasn't been taught at the university level.
RICK KARR: Computer security professor David Brumley says ... it’s tough stuff to teach ... because the brand-new, cutting-edge cyberattack of today will be available to anyone with a web browser by next week.
DAVID BRUMLEY: For example, my courses in computer security? We don't have textbooks. Everything's so new. We have to go out and look at websites, we have to go look at-- the latest things from conferences, and really teach from that. Every year it's a significant update.
RICK KARR: Is it ever the case that you actually have a student discover something that nobody knew about, in the middle of a semester?
DAVID BRUMLEY: Oh, that's actually a course requirement. One of the things we ask students to do is go out and find a vulnerability that no one else has found, figure out if it's exploitable, and then report it ethically.
RICK KARR: Which means what?
DAVID BRUMLEY: It really means they're going and finding something they could use to break into someone's computer. And then they go tell the programmer, look, here is a flaw; fix it.
RICK KARR: All those flaws that Carnegie Mellon’s undergrads find every semester ... don’t necessarily mean that the software on your P-C or your bank’s web site is badly written. Almost every piece of software, every computer system has vulnerabilities that can be exploited -- it’s virtually impossible to make anything that’s connected to the internet perfectly secure. And today -- compared to 10 or 20 years ago, all of us have just so many more computers and smartphones and tablets -- all of them connected and vulnerable. So we’re vulnerable, too.
Carnegie Mellon’s students are so good at exploiting those vulnerabilities ... that the NSA enlisted them to create a game that teaches hacking skills to high-school-aged students -- and paid for the job. Cylab, the university’s cybersecurity institute, is home to the to-ranked competitive hacking team in the world: the Plaid Parliament of Pwning -- “pwn” is hacker-speak for “own”, as in the hacker takes a computer over and owns it. For third straight year, the team won top honors at international contests that pit teams of hackers against one another ... and utterly demolished the competition at a prestigious contest in Las Vegas.
DAVID BRUMLEY: It's a little bit like a little, mini-cyber-war that's going on. And you get points by how well you find exploits in your adversaries and how well you can defend against their attacks. They're-- secure from the normal internet and they're set up specifically for this purpose.
RICK KARR: How stiff is the competition here? I mean, who's on your heels in terms of the top ten rankings.
MALE STUDENT #3: Man, so, you know, who's not? There's all sorts of government contractors who have, you know, teams that we compete with. And, you know, they do this professionally.
RICK KARR: “Hacker” is a label the students embrace. The word has a long history in computer science circles -- where it was originally meant as praise. The students say ... it still can be.
MALE STUDENT #2: We don't think of it as bad. We think of it as-- getting a deeper understanding for how something works in order to make it do something that maybe it wasn't intended to do but it's capable of doing.
ANDREW CONTE: It's often the people who as young high school students they started goofin' around with-- electronics or computers, and they started figuring out, you know, how to do simple attacks, how to get inside of-- machines.
RICK KARR: Andrew Conte is an investigative reporter at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review who’s written dozens of articles about hackers and cybersecurity.
ANDREW CONTE : And at some point they make the decision. You know, "Am I going to be-- a good hacker or a bad hacker? And there's not that much difference between them in terms of-- their abilities. Huge difference in terms of their motivations.
RICK KARR: That raises the question of how wise it is to teach these abilities to students barely out of their teens ... with unknown motivations. Cylab graduate student Peter Chapman says not to worry.
RICK KARR: If you're figuring out how to attack things, isn't it possible that somebody who comes outta here isn't going to do it for the right reasons?
PETER CHAPMAN: If that person's motivated, they can certainly find it out on their own. This isn't hidden information. Someone who's determined to break into a system, they can take normal courses and just add this, "How am I going to ruin the world mindset" to it. It's the same way a locksmith who knows how to fix locks can probably also break into them.
RICK KARR: Cybersecurity consultant Stewart Baker says ... sometimes it makes sense for a company that’s been the target of bad-guy hackers to engage in a little digital breaking and entering of its own -- to hack back, in other words. He thinks it could be an important weapon in the cybersecurity arsenal. But it isn’t always so clear-cut ethically. Or legally, because in can violate federal computer security laws.
STEWART BAKER: I have been making a very public-- argument that we should allow this and we should read the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to permit it.
RICK KARR: What if the machine in question is outside the U.S.? I mean, is that still a violation of the act?
STEWART BAKER: Unfortunately, it is.
RICK KARR: Baker says good-guy hackers who have “hacked back” have learned that cybercriminals aren’t always as clever as they seem to be. Take the example of a hacker who broke into law-enforcement computers, copied personal information about officers ... and posted it online. He also left a ... provocative ... picture of his girlfriend as a calling card, which turned out to be a mistake.
STEWART BAKER: They took the picture with an iPhone. And that meant that somebody had helpfully included the-- geographic coordinates where the picture was taken. So the F.B.I. finds the girlfriend of the hacker, and went and busted the guy in Texas. So these digital clues are everywhere.
RICK KARR: The hacker pleaded guilty to accessing a protected computer without authorization; and received a sentence of twenty seven months in prison. Stewart Baker says ... that’s the kind of outcome he’d like to see from good-guy hackers, like the students at Carnegie Mellon.
HARI SREENIVASAN: We want to return now to the battle waged against Al Qaeda forces in Ramadi. For more we’re joined now via Skype from Baghdad by Loveday Morris of the Washington Post. Loveday, I know it’s about 60 miles away. What’s the scene in Ramadi and Fallujah and those areas now?
LOVEDAY MORRIS: Well, from talking to people on the ground there today, what we’re hearing this morning was that Ramadi, which is the provincial capitol, was put under a curfew. This morning people were told not to leave their homes. The city was on lock-down and then a large assault was launched to retake pockets of the city that are still under control of rebel groups and fighters affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, which is the local Al Qaeda affiliate. Most Ramadi already was under control of pro-government tribesmen, but there were some pockets that were out of their control. So this was a large offensive backed by helicopters trying to regain parts of the city.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And these are mostly Sunni tribesmen?
LOVEDAY MORRIS: Yes, Anbar is a largely Sunni province. Iraq is majority Shia, but the western province of Anbar is majority Sunni. So these are Sunni tribesmen and not naturally pro-government really. The tribesmen in Anbar have been leading protests against the government for the past year or so. But when Al Qaeda came into the cities and took control, a lot of them see the government as probably the lesser of two evils. So they’ve been almost forced to side with the government to rid their towns of these militants.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So you said helicopters. Are we talking full gun ships, machine guns and there are troops on the ground working with these tribesmen as well in this attack?
LOVEDAY MORRIS: Well, the army’s very much staying out of it. The army is seen by a lot of the tribes as being sectarian force. It’s quite inflammatory for the army to go in and try to take these towns. So the tribesmen are the ones doing the fighting but they are backed up by air power from the Iraqi military. The Iraqi military took delivery of some Russian helicopter gunships so those are the ones being used.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And has Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ruled out all out assault?
LOVEDAY MORRIS: Ramadi is looking very much under control and the tribesmen I talked to there today actually said this offensive has been quite successful. And they’re claiming that the city is now entirely back in their control. Fallujah is a completely different question. There we really haven’t seen any real engagement to rid Fallujah, the center of Fallujah, of these militants. there has been pockets of fighting on the outside. But there, yes, Maliki’s ruled out the army getting in. At the moment, he’s saying he’s leaving it up to the tribes to rid the town of these militants. But at the moment they’re not actually engaging militarily. It’s very much negotiations
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Loveday Morris of the Washington Post, joining us from Baghdad via Skype. Thanks so much.
LOVEDAY MORRIS: No problem, thank you.
George Halvorson, former CEO and chairman of Kaiser Permanente, spoke with Judy Woodruff about his new book, "Don't Let Health Care Bankrupt America."
George Halvorson has seen a lot of what works -- and what doesn't -- throughout his career in the American health care system. Most notably, he's been the CEO and chairman of Kaiser Permanente, the huge not-for-profit insurance plan that includes its own hospitals and clinics, for more than a decade. Throughout his tenure at Kaiser Permanente, which just ended in December, Halvorson talked bluntly about the deficiencies of the U.S. model, particularly with its costs, its "perverse incentives" for providers and whether those incentives lead to bad choices -- and sometimes worse outcomes -- for patients.
Halvorson is known for trying to put into practice what Kaiser and its leadership preach: He put an emphasis on prevention (with a special focus on the epidemics of obesity and diabetes), coordinated care for some 9 million consumers, electronic medical records, and limiting patients to seeing doctors and specialists only within the Kaiser network HMO plan (which includes 37 hospitals and 17,000 doctors in more than half a dozen states). It's the largest plan in California with 40 percent of the employer market and it's earned revenues of $50 billion a year.
In many ways, Kaiser has been seen as a pioneer in the battle over health reform -- and a model for some of those very reasons. But Kaiser has also been the subject of serious criticism with some who have been worried about their limits of choice (including for specialists) and, more recently, for the costs of its premiums. And it, too, has not been able to hold its overall costs down as low as executives had hoped.
Halvorson's new book "Don't Let Health Care Bankrupt America" examines the health system and tries to offer solutions based on what's he's seen over the years. In this extra online conversation with Judy Woodruff, Halvorson discusses some of the big differences he sees between the U.S. and other countries around the world. Halvorson also wrote about this topic in his book with sections like "We Pay Primary Care Doctors Half as Much Money" and "We Have the Highest Hospital Costs in the World." You can watch that conversation here.
In November of 2013, an intern at the New York State Museum in Albany uncovered the only known recording of a speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Sept. 12, 1962, at the Park Sheraton Hotel in New York City.
For decades, state officials believed the only remnant of King's remarks was an annotated copy, marked up by an audio engineer.
The speech is notable in that it captures King at a critical moment in the civil rights movement. He and his allies had launched an unsuccessful campaign to integrate the city of Albany, Georgia -- and in the three weeks before the speech, three black churches in Georgia had been burned to the ground.
Having an audio recording of King's speech offers new perspective on his intentions and delivery. "Having read it, it's very different to hear it," said New York Education Commissioner John King, who oversees the museum.
"You get to hear ... the powerful way in which King approached the speech as a speaker. You also could see where he and his choice of words departed from the written text. And you also get much more of a sense of Dr. King as a speaker and author."
But the speech also marked a unique occasion: the 100-year anniversary of a little-known historical document called the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
It's a handwritten warning from President Abraham Lincoln, cautioning that he intended to free slaves in all states that wouldn't leave the Confederacy in the midst of the Civil War. King's speech was part of a commemoration event hosted by then-New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller.
And by coincidence, the parchment in Lincoln's hand is held at the same museum and library complex that's home to the 1962 King recording.
Lincoln heavily cited the Second Confiscation Act as part of his legal rationale to release slaves in the Confederacy. He cut and pasted sections of July 17, 1862 legislation that "forever freed" the slaves of civilian and military Confederate officials, but only applied to areas occupied by the Union Army.
Like King's speech, there are also visible annotations on the document, including those of Secretary of State William Seward. State historians also believe Lincoln's fingerprint is visible.
The New York State Museum launched an online exhibition Monday to mark the recording's discovery and showcase the museum's holdings of two critical pieces of Americana.
We'll have more on the speech and the document that inspired it on the PBS NewsHour Monday evening.
Mexican federal police patrol during a march for peace in Apatzingan, Michoacan state, Mexico, on Jan. 18. Photo by Hector Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images
At a recent Washington power point presentation, a Mexican security analyst put up a slide reading: How Do You Say Quagmire in Spanish?
The answer: Michoacan.
If any one place symbolizes the continuing frustration facing the Mexican government dealing with drug gangs, it is this western state of 4.3 million, which might have suffered as many as 1,000 homicides in the past year. The fight there is not merely between law enforcement and criminal gangs but with the added element of locally organized and increasingly well-armed vigilantes. The violence has reached such a point that the central government is taking over law and order responsibility from local and state authorities.
In December 2012, a new Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto took office, promising a focus on reducing violence in a country riven by tens of thousands of killings in a five year war against drug cartels waged by his predecessor Felipe Calderon.
An assessment of Pena Nieto's new focus came from Alejandro Hope, director of Security Policy at the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO). Speaking to an overflow auditorium at Washington's Woodrow Wilson Center, Hope headlined his presentation: "Not Quite at War, Not Quite at Peace".
The homicide rate has declined from its May 2011 peak and from 22,856 that entire year to 19,726 in 2013. The totals are still way above their level of 2007, before Calderon opened his campaign against the cartels. But even those numbers are a bit deceptive, Hope added, with substantial drops in the death tolls in Ciudad Juarez and Monterrey, where civil society and business have assumed a larger role in crime prevention but not much change in other states.
While Pena Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) government have made some changes in Calderon's strategy, especially centralizing both national authority and intelligence cooperation with the United States, many elements remain the same, Hope said. Spending on security keeps growing, cartel kingpins are still top targets and Mexican ministries are still dealing with the U.S. government, albeit with more flowing through the Interior Ministry. And Pena Nieto's plan to create a 40,000-strong National Gendarmerie has been pretty well stymied by opposition from the military, whose role in the drug fight remains a constitutional issue for the country.
The basic assessment, Hope said, is that the situation is better than in 2011, "but we are clearly not out of the woods."
As daunting as crime and violence appear to be, they are not factoring in the decision of thousands of Mexicans to return to their country after years of living north of the border. That was one conclusion of a recent survey of returning migrants and one that seemed to confirm analyses of the past two years that Mexican immigration to the U.S. had peaked at slightly more than 12 million and that the number going back exceeds the number leaving.
A nonprofit group, based in San Antonio and Mexico City, called Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together (MATT), surveyed 600 returnees and presented its findings recently at another Wilson Center forum. An estimated 1.4 million Mexicans left the United States for their home country between 2005 and 2010.
According to the survey, most of the Mexicans never intended to remain permanently in the United States, and that 89 percent returned voluntarily and not under threat of deportation. The three major reasons for their return were family issues, nostalgia and trouble finding jobs in the United States. Although more than half said they had a very positive view of the U.S. and the fairness of its legal institutions, more than half said they have no plans to go back north.
Speaking ahead of the presentation, Mexico's Ambassador to the United States Eduardo Medina Mora cited other factors in the migration shift, especially a large drop in the Mexican birthrate to levels just above those in the U.S., the development of a stronger manufacturing sector and the chance for returning Mexicans to apply entrepreneurial skills learned in the U.S. to growing business opportunities in their own country.
Michael D. Mosettig, PBS NewsHour foreign affairs and defense editor emeritus, watches wonks push policy in Washington's multitude of think tanks. From time to time, he writes dispatches on what those scholars and wannabe secretaries of state have in mind for Europe, Asia and Latin America.
President Obama said that he didn't think marijuana is "more dangerous than alcohol" in a magazine interview. Photo by David Pelcyger/PBS NewsHour
President Obama spoke in favor of marijuana legalization in comments recently published in The New Yorker, although his support came with a number of caveats.
"I don't think (marijuana) is more dangerous than alcohol," the president told editor in chief David Remnick, adding that smoking pot is less dangerous than drinking "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer." He expressed approval for the recent efforts to legalize the drug in some U.S. states, citing the disproportionate arrests for marijuana-related crimes among minorities and lower-income groups and calling for a uniform regulatory policy.
Regarding the legalization of pot in Colorado and Washington, Obama told Remnick "it's important for it to go forward because it's important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished."
However, Obama called the drug "a bad habit and a vice," comparing it to his own previous cigarette habit, and said that he told his daughters that using it is "a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy."
He also dismissed the notion that marijuana is a wonder drug: "(T)hose who argue that legalizing marijuana is a panacea and it solves all these social problems I think are probably overstating the case. There is a lot of hair on that policy."
Obama's remarks, which were recorded last fall, come just a few weeks after the sale of recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado.
Hari Sreenivasan explored the new world of retail marijuana at the beginning of this year, when people lined up in the hundreds to buy legalized pot in Colorado.
Find the rest of Obama's comments in Remnick's article, and see previous broadcasts of the NewsHour for our full coverage of the changes in laws concerning marijuana.
"You can't separate Martin Luther King from the fact that he was an extraordinary writer and orator who was a writer and orator in a very, very mighty black tradition," said Elizabeth Alexander. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking in January 1965. Photo by Julian Wasser/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
As a professor of African American studies, poet Elizabeth Alexander can't reflect on Martin Luther King Jr. Day without taking into account the full context of the man and his vision.
"I can't untether myself from history," Alexander told Art Beat.
"I think that you just can't understand an extraordinary leader like Martin Luther King and all the people that he inspired in a vacuum. You can't understand Martin Luther King apart from the ways in which he pushed people and the ways in which people didn't think he went far enough. You can't separate Martin Luther King from the fact that he was an extraordinary writer and orator who was a writer and orator in a very, very mighty black tradition. The way that he spoke and the way that he wrote did not come from nowhere."
When Alexander offered her own work in commemoration of the MLK holiday, she pulled together a series of poems that contemplate a range of history.
"I wanted to let us think about him in place and over time in hopes that that would give us a little bit more to chew on in thinking about what this day means."
And thus, Alexander begins with "Emancipation."
Corncob constellation, Oyster shell, drawstring pouch, dry bones.
Gris gris in the rafters. Hoodoo in the sleeping nook. Mojo in Linda Brent's crawlspace.
Nineteenth century corncob cosmogram set on the dirt floor, beneath the slant roof, left intact the afternoon that someone came and told those slaves
Before Alexander continued reading, she brought up some famous words from Dr. King, which he spoke a few days before his death in April 1968: "I may not make it with you. I may not make it to the mountaintop."
"There are other leaders, flawed and imperfect, who didn't get there with us, if you will, but who tried to envision freedom," she said.
And so, contemplating "charismatic leadership and how sometimes it fails," Alexander read another poem that takes place, still, before the slaves were emancipated. The poem, "Nat Turner Dreams of Insurrection," includes an epigraph from his 1832 confessions.
... too much sense to be raised, and if I was, I would never be of any service to any one as a slave. The Confessions of Nat Turner, 1831
Nat Turner Dreams of Insurrection
Drops of blood on the corn, as dew from heaven. Forms of men in different attitudes, portrayed in blood. Numbers, glyphs, on woodland leaves, also in blood.
Freedom: a dipperful of cold well water. Freedom: the wide white sky. Dreams that make me sweat.
Because I am called, I must appear so, prepare. I am not a conjurer. Certain marks on my head and breast. Shelter me, Great Dismal Swamp. A green-blue sky which roils.
Although Alexander doesn't have poems written directly about Martin Luther King, she considers him an artist in his use of language.
"He said it himself. I'm not trying to do more with that, but what I can write about and what I did write about was different ways that his vision was made manifest by different people at different points in time."
Alexander also brings in her own life and her own experience to contemplate King's vision. She was a child in Washington, D.C., at the time and her father was active in the civil rights movement. In her poem, "Fugue," Alexander brings in that personal perspective, bringing us up to and through the time when King was assassinated and "how startling and strange and frightening that was."
after the painting by Charles Alston
You tell me, knees are important, you kiss your elders' knees in utmost reverence.
The knees in the painting are what send the people forward.
Once progress felt real and inevitable, as sure as the taste of licorice or lemons. The painting was made after marching in Birmingham, walking
into a light both brilliant and unseen.1964
In a beige silk sari my mother dances the frug to the Peter Duchin Band.
Earlier that day At Maison Le Pelch the French ladies twisted
her magnificent hair into a fat chignon while mademoiselle watched,
drank sugared, milky tea, and counted bobby pins disappeared into the thick-
ness as the ladies worked in silence, adornment so grave, the solemn toilette,
and later, the bath, and later, red lipstick and later, L'Air de Temps.
My mother without glasses. My mother in beige silk. My mother with a chignon. My mother in her youth.1968
The city burns. We have to stay at home, TV always interrupted with fire or helicopters. Men who have tweedled my cheeks once or twice join the serial dead.
Yesterday I went downtown with my Mom. What a pretty little girl, said the tourists, who were white. My shoes were patent leather, all shiny, and black. My father is away saving the world for Negroes, I wanted to say
Mostly I go to school or watch television with my mother and brother, my father often gone. He makes the world a better place for Negroes. The year is nineteen-sixty-eight.1971
"Hey Blood," my father said then to the other brothers in the street. "Hey, Youngblood, how you doin'?
"Peace and power," he says, and "Keep on keepin' on," just like Gladys Knight and the Pips.
My stomach jumps: a thrill. Sometimes poems remember small things, like "Hey, Blood." My father still says that sometimes.
When Alexander reflects on this holiday and the progress we as a country have made, it's clear that she takes into account the generations and generations of leadership that have fought for the ideals that King stood for.
"There are people before him, alongside him and after him, who are part of the movement towards justice or what we might call freedom."
That "generational transition of freedom visions and leadership" is not always so easy or so successful.
"Each generation finds its own leaders, but sometimes the older generation doesn't know how to pass on its lessons, or the younger generation doesn't know how to receive them, or new times demand new strategies. I think that generational static and how it can be overcome is a really important part of thinking about progress."
watched him glitter, watched him gleam, shook his un-rough hands with their cotton-scarred hands, cut their eyes at him, observed the ease with which he smiled,
asked, finally, what is love, and who are The People and how must we love them and what do we need, what is now, look at the lines in the corner of youngblood's eyes, lined not unlike our hands, and perhaps this is not gleam but illumination, not merely his but ours.
Alexander tries to learn more about King every year. She continues to think "more deeply about what moves us forward and what holds us back."
"If we could take each King Day as a day to meditate on justice, and to meditate on justice not only on the large scale, not only in the language of dreams and the 'mountaintop,' but also at the very, very local level."
As part of this exercise, she challenges others to join her.
"If each of us can take a measure more of responsibility to think about what makes our environs more just ... that actually goes a long way towards moving forward the dream."
Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Getty Images
A poet, essayist, playwright, and teacher, Elizabeth Alexander is the chair of the African American Studies Department at Yale University. She has published six books of poems, including her most recent "Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems from 1990-2010" (Graywolf, 2010) and "American Sublime" (Graywolf, 2005), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. For President Barack Obama's inauguration on Jan 20, 2009, she read "Praise Song for the Day," a poem she composed for the event. "Praise Song for the Day" has since been published by Graywolf Press. Alexander was raised in Washington, D.C. "Emancipation," "Nat Turner Dreams of Insurrection," "Fugue" and "The Elders" are reprinted by permission from "Crave Radiance" (Graywolf, 2010). Copyright © 2010 by Elizabeth Alexander.
Photo of Elizabeth Alexander with each audio file by CJ Gunther
The third season of "Sherlock" premiered in the U.K. on Jan. 2 and in the U.S. on Jan. 19. But one of the largest fan bases for the BBC program is far from the West, in China. Video trailer by BBC
Americans got to watch the Season 3 premiere of BBC's "Sherlock" Sunday night on Masterpiece Mystery, almost two weeks after the U.K. television premiere. But Chinese audiences got to watch the episode only two hours after the British broadcast.
Several video websites, such as Youku.com, translated the episode after the broadcast in England, and within 24 hours, more than 5 million people had watched the latest adventures of the world's only "consulting detective."
"I am always super excited to see him on the screen and murmur, 'Wow, so beautiful' every single time," Zhang Jing from Tianjin, China, told the Associated Press.
More Chinese fans watched the first episode on Youku.com in the first two weeks after the premiere (14.5 million) than the average BBC audience for first-run episodes (8-9 million), according to the AP's report.
The AP reported that video websites in China are largely exempt from most censorship applied to Chinese television broadcasters and, therefore, can show more foreign programming considered "too violent or political for state TV."
Fun fact: In China, Sherlock Holmes is known as "Curly Fu," a nickname that nods to the character's Chinese name "Fuermosi" and British actor Benedict Cumberbatch's floppy hairstyle.
Doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, conduct a kidney transplant. According to economists Gary Becker and Julio Elias, a growing supply gap for kidney donations is plaguing the nation. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/GettyImages
Paying kidney donors for their organs may help to close the growing supply gap for transplant surgery in the United States, say two prominent economists. Nobel-prize winning economist Gary Becker and colleague Julio Elias made waves Sunday in an essay appearing in the Wall Street Journal to outline their proposal.
According to statistics from the National Kidney Foundation, there were 96,645 people waiting for kidney transplants in the U.S. as of June 2013. With an average wait time of 4.5 years for a donor match and transplant in the U.S. according to the essay, a growing supply gap is plaguing Americans.
In addition to cadavers, about 34 percent of kidneys now come from live donors. The majority of those exchanges come from close family of those who need the transplants. The rest come from people who just want to help.
But many are failed by this system, say Becker and Elias. And the hardships of staying on dialysis are too much for some, with annual dialysis costs averaging $80,000.
"Paying for organs would lead to more transplants--and thereby, perhaps, to a large increase in the overall medical costs of transplantation. But it would save the cost of dialysis for people waiting for kidney transplants and other costs to individuals waiting for other organs. More important, it would prevent thousands of deaths and improve the quality of life among those who now must wait years before getting the organs they need."
The cost of a kidney? $15,000, they estimate. But the true cost could be as high as $25,000 or as low as $5,000.
The proposal is controversial. Many feel that the sale of body parts is immoral, with others expressing concern that the majority of donors would be desperate poor.
Writing for Life News, Wesley J. Smith said the proposal tackles the wrong issue, "Our fear of suffering does not justify slouching toward the creation of a market in human organs. Indeed, our real focus should be on the immorality of the buyers and the medical professionals who make it possible."
Addressing the controversy, the economists said the poor are the ones who suffer more than anyone else from the current scarcity.
"Any claim about the supposed immorality of organ sales should be weighed against the morality of preventing thousands of deaths each year and improving the quality of life of those waiting for organs," they wrote.
And they said the sale of body parts is not unheard of, with market-determined payments commonly going to surrogate mothers.
Iran currently allows for the sale of kidneys by living donors, and Australia and Singapore have recently allowed limited payments to donors for lost time at work.
By Larry Kotlikoff
Social Security expert Larry Kotlikoff's fictitious horror story about a couple who was misled about their benefit collection strategy is a cautionary tale. Photo by Flickr user John Fraissinet.
Larry Kotlikoff's Social Security original 34 "secrets", his additional secrets, his Social Security "mistakes" and his Social Security gotchas have prompted so many of you to write in that we now feature "Ask Larry" every Monday. We are determined to continue it until the queries stop or we run through the particular problems of all 78 million Baby Boomers, whichever comes first. Kotlikoff's state-of-the-art retirement software is available here, for free, in its "basic" version.
Before answering a few of your questions, I thought I'd provide a short Social Security horror story that I made up but that could happen to you.
Sally and Arthur Blackstone are a nice, hypothetical upper-middle class New York couple who contributed at the maximum level to Social Security since graduating law school.
Many people think Social Security is a big deal for the poor but not that important for the middle class. Not true. Though Social Security is progressive -- higher contributions produce less than proportional increases in benefits -- those that earn and contribute the most also stand, in absolute terms, to get the most back from Social Security.
Take Sally and Arthur, who just turned 62. They're burned out and calling it quits. Their goal is to retire in Austin, Texas, where they grew up. But housing there has gotten expensive and after putting the kids through private schools and college and paying New York City prices for decades, they aren't particularly flush.
Apart from their small, two-bedroom condo, they have $1.3 million in retirement accounts. That may sound like a lot. But it's not actually very much when it comes to financing an upper middle-class lifestyle for what may be another 35 years. Sally and Arthur were good savers, but Arthur pulled them out of the market at the bottom in 2008 and has invested everything in money market funds ever since. They are earning no income after inflation on their money and are terrified of putting it back in stocks.MORE FROM LARRY KOTLIKOFF: Do Not Take Social Security Benefits Early Just Because You Think You Can Invest Them at a Profit
Now, after decades of paying FICA taxes without much attention to what they'd get back from the system, they are greedily eyeing their Social Security benefits. Arthur's plan is to take benefits this year. He figures they are worth around $1.2 million in present value. But Sally, who could kill Arthur for losing so much money on the market, has a different view. She thinks they should wait until 70 when their retirement benefits will start, after inflation, at a 76 percent higher value. That would bring their lifetime benefits, valued as of now, up to over $1.5 million.
Making an extra $300,000 by doing nothing more than waiting eight years to collect their benefits has prompted Arthur to do his own research. He's read about a way for one of them to get a free spousal benefit starting at 66 and kick their lifetime benefits up to $1.56 million. Sally's gone one better and learned that if she and Arthur get divorced between now and age 64, they can both get free spousal benefits starting at 66, and their combined $1.56 million in Social Security wealth will grow to almost $1.62 million.
As they sit over breakfast, debating whether to live in sin or finally get free of one another (it's been a rocky road since 2008), Arthur realizes they've forgotten to value the higher survivor benefits one of them could receive between 66 and 70, were the other to die before 70, as well as the higher child benefits their disabled son would start receiving when they reached full retirement age and one of them were able to file but suspend his or her retirement benefit. They also realized that their son's child survivor benefit would be higher once the first of them passed away as a result of their waiting until 70 to collect retirement benefits.
Figuring out precisely what these extra benefits are worth is beyond Sally and Arthur's ken, but they figure optimizing their Social Security decisions over the kitchen table has raised their lifetime benefits by roughly 50 percent -- at zero risk.
But lawyers being lawyers, Sally and Arthur decide to check things out with the good folks at the local Social Security office. The Social Security lady with whom they meet, Gladys, is convinced that waiting to collect means losing benefits if you die early. She swore to her husband never to let anyone who crosses her desk make such a mistake. Even though she's not formally permitted to give advice, she repeatedly asks Sally and Arthur how they would feel were they to die before collecting a single penny of their benefits after contributing taxes for the past 40 years.
Sally and Arthur are won over and sign up for immediate benefits. But one year and one day after the day they went to the Social Security office, they realize they've made a huge mistake -- had they died without taking their benefits, they would be dead and feeling no pain, including painful regret.
Gladys, the woman from Social Security, was trying to help, but she wasn't thinking about their retirement benefits the right way. In reality, their past contributions represented insurance premiums to purchase an insurance policy against living longer than average, and the payoff from the policy was their monthly benefit. Giving up eight years of retirement benefits in order to get much higher benefits starting at age 70 simply represented another way to buy more longevity insurance from Uncle Sam. In this case, the eight years of lost retirement benefits represented the premium payments and the 76 percent addition to their retirement benefit starting at 70 represented the larger payout. And this is not to mention the free spousal and extra widow(er) and child benefits they forfeited.
With this realization now clearly in mind, Sally and Arthur rush back to the Social Security office, sit down with Gladys again, and tell her they want to pay back every penny they've received in the last year and return to their original collection plan. They bring along confirmation from a software program they've run that underscores the huge gain from following their original plan compared to following Gladys' strategy.
Gladys smiles, shakes her head, and says, "You're making a mistake in your thinking. Social Security set up the system to be actuarially fair -- so that you'd get the same deal on an expected value basis no matter when you take your retirement benefit."
Arthur screamed, "But we're not an insurance company! 'Expected this, expected that' is relevant to an insurance company, but not to us. We're only going to die once and the way it's looking, that will be damn late!"
Gladys smiles again and says, "But, in any case, you're a day late. You have one year exactly -- not a day, nay not an hour, minute, second or nanosecond longer -- to repay and start your collection strategy from scratch."
Arthur, who suffers from hypertension goes ballistic. Soon, Glady's manager, Jane, appears. Jane tells Arthur, who is now feeling chest pain, to calm down and stop shouting. "Gladys," Jane explains, "didn't advise you what to do. She just laid out your options. You decided what to do. And now you have to live with the consequences. You can't undo what you've done."
"Does this mean we can't collect spousal benefits?" asks Sally.
"Well, you can collect them, but they'll be zero," replies Jane. "The only option you have to raise your benefits is to wait until 66, your full retirement age, and suspend your retirement benefit and then start it up again at 70 at a 32 percent higher level from where you suspended it." "So we're permanently screwed?" screams Arthur.
"Not if you die young," replies Gladys, still smiling. "And there's every chance that could happen."
Sure enough, Arthur collapses on the spot and the EMTs pronounce him dead. As he's wheeled past Gladys, she pats his body. "See, aren't you glad you followed my advice? At least you got one year of benefits."
Sam Henefin: I cannot be alone in this situation -- to wit, married to a disabled spouse. For all of the articles discussing options and strategies for claiming Social Security for married couples, women, divorc ées and survivors, there is an extreme dearth of material related to claiming strategies for the disabled and their spouses.
Just a couple of the questions that might be answered (I'm sure there are plenty of others): If my wife is receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, can I file a restricted claim for spousal benefits at 66 -- even if she is younger than 62? Can my wife file for spousal benefits at 66 instead of having her SSDI automatically switch to Social Security payments?
Larry Kotlikoff: The answers are "yes" to both questions. But, for your wife at 66 to file just for spousal benefits and collect half of your full retirement benefit, she has to have withdrawn her retirement benefit right before hitting 66 (to keep her SSDI benefit from automatically converting to her retirement benefit), and you need to have filed for your own retirement benefit (but, if you do this before 70, you can suspend its collection). She and you can both start or, if you suspended, restart retirement benefits at 70, when they will be 32 percent larger than had you taken them at full retirement age (66 in your cases).
David B. -- Houston, Texas: My spouse is receiving a benefit on her own earnings record that began when she reached her full retirement age (FRA). When I reach my FRA, I intend to file and suspend so that I may earn an enhanced benefit at 70 and my spouse can begin receiving half of my primary insurance amount (PIA).
The question is, if my average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) increase due to earnings between my FRA and age 70, will my wife's spousal benefit increase each year as well? That is, will the PIA on which her spousal benefit is based be recalculated each year?
Larry Kotlikoff: Glad you wrote. Sounds like you are going to make a mistake. But before I say what I think is best (only proper software can say for sure), let me say that the answers to your two questions are yes and yes. Her excess spousal benefit will rise if you earn enough to raise your own primary insurance amount (your full retirement benefit) via Social Security's recomputation of benefits provision.
Now here's what I think you should reconsider. You should explore taking just your spousal benefit when you reach full retirement age (FRA) and then take your own retirement benefit at 70. When you reach 70, it's possible that your wife's excess spousal benefit will be positive and she can then collect some more from that source. But if she earned decently, chances are her excess spousal benefit will be small or zero. Meanwhile, you'll be giving up four free years of receiving half her full retirement benefit in the form of a full spousal benefit.
Michele -- New York, N.Y.: I am 60 years old and lost my job. My husband is 75 and collects Social Security. I am collecting unemployment but that will run out soon. My husband has a lot of medical problems and needs me to help him daily. He cannot be left alone. Is there any way he can receive additional money from Social Security for me?
Larry Kotlikoff: Very sorry to hear about this situation. When you are 62, you can start collecting your own Social Security retirement benefit and an excess spousal benefit, which could be very small or zero. It may be best for you to wait until you reach full retirement age to collect just your full spousal benefit and then wait until 70 to collect your retirement benefit.
Kevin Koekemoer -- Sacramento, Calif: I am 63 this year and my wife is 64. I have worked throughout my life and my wife has been a homemaker with our four children. I have also spent some years overseas where I worked but did not pay U.S. taxes or into Social Security. There are, therefore, some periods that are listed as zero in my Social Security history. Will my wife qualify for any kind of independent benefit payment based on my working history? If she does, does that affect the total on my own benefit payment?
I will have worked and contributed approximately 20 years when I retire. I have heard that I need to have a certain number of "quarters" -- what are these quarters and would 20 years of contribution to Social Security give me the number of quarters required?
When I first came to the U.S., I worked under a visa and paid self-employment tax. I left to work overseas again and when I returned, I was given a Social Security number. All of my payments under Social Security have been credited, but there were three years when I worked on a visa where the self-employment tax has not been credited to my history. Should I ask the Social Security office to look into this and credit my history? Would it make any difference?
Larry Kotlikoff: You need 40 quarters or 10 years (but not necessarily consecutive quarters) of covered employment. When you start collecting your retirement benefit, your wife will be able to receive half of your retirement benefit as a spousal benefit.
If she collects spousal benefits, that won't impact your own retirement benefit. By all means, try to get the extra years of covered employment that you worked while on a visa included. I'm not sure how you could have paid self-employment tax without having a Social Security number, but if you did, you will need copies of your tax returns and proof that you paid the taxes in order to receive credit.
John Carter -- Rantoul, Ill.: I'm 49 and receiving disability benefits. I'm getting married in June. How will this affect my disability payments?
Larry Kotlikoff: Your wife will be able to collect spousal benefits on your earnings record. And if you die, she can start receiving survivor benefits. Spousal benefits can begin, at a reduced level, starting at age 62. Reduced survivor benefits can begin at 60. You need to be married for nine months for your spouse to qualify for survivor benefits if you die, and for one year for your spouse to qualify for spousal benefits. Your getting married won't adversely affect your own Social Security benefit, although it could impact your means-tested Supplemental Security Income as well as eligibility for food stamps and other forms of government assistance.
GWEN IFILL: Diplomats labored today to salvage plans for getting the Syrian government and rebel forces together to talk instead of fight. Opponents of the Assad regime balked at including Iran in this week's scheduled gathering. And the U.N. secretary-general ultimately rescinded his invitation to the Iranian government. We will explore all of this right after the news summary.
Iran, the U.S. and other world powers began implementing a landmark nuclear deal today. Under the agreement, Iran announced it unplugged banks of centrifuges that enrich uranium to high levels. The move was witnessed by international inspectors and announced on state television.
WOMAN (through interpreter): The implementation of the first phase of the Geneva agreement has started. To comply with the agreement, Iran, starting this morning, stopped its 20 percent uranium enrichment. The process of oxidation and dilution of the 20 percent uranium stockpile has started.
GWEN IFILL: In return, the U.S. and the European Union announced the easing of some economic sanctions. The agreement is good for the next six months, giving the parties time to try to reach a final agreement.
In Iraq today, a wave of bombings killed at least 31 people in and around Baghdad. Most of the explosions targeted crowded markets and court buildings in the capital. In addition to the dead, scores of people were wounded. Meanwhile, heavy fighting raged west of Baghdad in Ramadi. The Iraqi army launched a major offensive there yesterday to drive out al-Qaida fighters.
A Taliban bombing in Pakistan has killed at least 13 people, the second attack on the army in as many days. The blast erupted when a suicide bomber blew himself up near the main military headquarters in Rawalpindi. On Sunday, Taliban militants killed more than two dozen troops at an army compound in the northwest town of Bannu.
Americans marked this day with tributes to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. on the national holiday celebrating his birthday.
NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman has our report.
KWAME HOLMAN: Song filled the air on the National Mall in Washington early on this holiday morning. Officials honored the civil rights leader with a wreath-laying ceremony at his memorial.
Elsewhere in the nation's capital, Vice President Joe Biden said the civil rights struggle continues. He pointed to a Supreme Court decision that struck down part of the Voting Rights Act.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Justice Ginsburg got it right when she said throwing out the existing process when it's working and continues to work is -- quote -- "like throwing away an umbrella in a rainstorm because you're not getting wet."
And now we're in a hailstorm, new attempts by states and localities to limit ballot access without the full protection of the law.
KWAME HOLMAN: The first family marked the occasion by taking part in a National Day of Service to honor King's legacy.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Very proud to be a part of it.
KWAME HOLMAN: President and Mrs. Obama and their two daughters volunteered at a community kitchen, helping to prepare meals for local shelters.
And there were events nationwide. In King's hometown of Atlanta, celebrants paid tribute with dancing, singing, and drum performances. In Denver, thousands gathered at the “I Have a Dream” monument for the Mile-High City's annual King Day Parade.
Adults and children also turned out in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to march in honor of Dr. King's life and mission.
MAN: We need to forgive what has happened bad to us in this country and look forth to making it a better place. And we all can be a part of that by pitching in and doing our part.
KWAME HOLMAN: Parades also were held in Los Angeles, Phoenix, and elsewhere.
GWEN IFILL: An American missionary held in North Korea for more than a year appealed today for the U.S. government to secure his release. Kenneth Bae was arrested in November of 2012, convicted of crimes against the state and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Today, Bae appeared at a news conference in Pyongyang. He appealed for an end to what he said was a smear campaign against North Korea.
KENNETH BAE, American prisoner in North Korea (through interpreter): I would like to plea with the U.S. government, the press and my family to stop worsening my situation by making wild rumors against North Korea and releasing materials related to me which are not based on the facts.
GWEN IFILL: Bae admitted he had broken North Korean laws and said he hopes to be pardoned.
In a new interview, President Obama says marijuana is a vice, but it's no more dangerous than alcohol. He also tells "The New Yorker" magazine that penalties for pot use are levied unfairly. He said: "Middle-class kids don't get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do. And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor."
Mr. Obama again acknowledged he smoked marijuana as a young man, but says he doesn't encourage it.
GWEN IFILL: Now the diplomatic struggle over the Syria peace talks.
The back-and-forth over the U.N.'s decision to invite Iran to participate continued all day, with the scheduled start of the talks less than 48 hours away.
In two days' time, world powers will gather at this hotel in Montreux, Switzerland, to try to negotiate an end to Syria's civil war.
Yesterday, in New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon extended an 11th-hour invitation to Iran.
BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General: I believe strongly that Iran needs to be part of the solution to the Syrian crisis.
GWEN IFILL: Ban initially said Iran accepted the goal of a transitional government in Syria that would remove President Bashar al-Assad from power. Later, though, Iran insisted it will not accept preconditions for attending.
Hours after that, a spokesman for Ban made this announcement at the U.N.:
MARTIN NESIRKY, UN spokesman: The secretary-general is deeply disappointed by Iranian public statements today that are not at all consistent with that stated commitment. He continues to urge Iran to join the global consensus behind the Geneva communique. Given that it has chosen to remain outside that basic understanding, he has decided that the one-day Montreux gathering will proceed without Iran's participation.
GWEN IFILL: The invitation had sparked a flurry of objections, starting at the U.N. with U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power.
SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: As of this morning, Iran still has yet to demonstrate its willingness to explicitly and publicly subscribe to the full implementation of the Geneva communique. That is a minimum requirement for participation in this peace process.
GWEN IFILL: NewsHour chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner has been watching all of this in Montreux.
MARGARET WARNER: The State Department was incredibly frustrated by this last-minute development over the weekend. It really threw a monkey wrench into its carefully constructed plan to get the Syrian opposition to come to this conference, which only got settled Saturday night.
GWEN IFILL: Iran and its allied Lebanese militia, Hezbollah, have continued to send arms and fighters to support Assad. The Western-backed Syrian National Council, which had agreed to participate in the talks, has insisted that must change.
ANAS ABDAH, Syrian National Coalition (through interpreter): The National Coalition gives an ultimatum to Iran to give a public and clear commitment to withdraw its militias from Syrian territory, secondly, to announce their full adherence to the results of Geneva I and a pledge to play a constructive role in implementing the results of Geneva II.
GWEN IFILL: The Council reconfirmed its plan to attend the talks once the invitation to Iran was withdrawn. But Russia, a longtime ally of Syria's, insisted Iran should be at the table.
SERGEI LAVROV, Russian Foreign Minister (through interpreter): If there is no Iran in this list, then I think the peace talks will resemble a hypocrisy.
GWEN IFILL: On the streets of Tehran, Iranians said it's only natural the Islamic republic be included.
MAN (through interpreter): Iran is a major player in Syria. Without Iran, the Geneva conference would be an unanswerable question. It would be too difficult.
MAN (through interpreter): Iran is a very important country in the Middle East. Iran must be there. And if Iran doesn't take part, the meeting will be useless. Everybody will feel Iran's influence.
GWEN IFILL: For Syrian refugees in the region, the latest turn of events and the prospects for peace have been met with skepticism.
MAN (through interpreter): They will not be able to achieve anything. As long as Russia, China, Iran, and the devil's party are supporting Assad, nothing will happen. If the United States and the Arab nations do not support us, and if the Free Syrian Army doesn't achieve victory, nothing will come out of Geneva.
GWEN IFILL: Assad himself weighed in with an interview broadcast today on Syrian state television. He made clear he is not stepping down, and accused others of interfering in an internal dispute.
PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD, Syria (through interpreter): The Geneva conference must lead to clear results regarding the fight against terrorism in Syria, more specifically, putting pressure on the countries supporting terrorism in Syria by sending fighters, money to terrorists, sending weapons, namely, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
GWEN IFILL: As the diplomatic disarray unfolded, the fighting inside Syria continued. Ten people were killed today in a double bombing near the Turkish border.
GWEN IFILL: Martin Luther King Jr. was 39 years old when he died, and during his years on earth, he gave famous and memorable speeches around the world that have been replayed hundreds of times.
There is one, however, that, until recently, had not been heard in more than 50 years.
The NewsHour’s Stephen Fee explains.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., civil rights leader: Ladies and gentlemen, I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here this evening.
STEPHEN FEE: It was September 12, 1962, a year before the March on Washington, two years before the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was grappling with the movement's next steps.
He had just spent weeks in Albany, Ga., unsuccessfully trying to integrate that city. King had been jailed twice, and three black churches in the state had been set ablaze in the past three weeks. Now King found himself at a New York City hotel delivering a speech to politicians and political donors.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: If a government building were bombed in Washington, the perpetrators would be apprehended immediately. But if violence affects a Negro church, all of the agencies of government cannot find or convict the arsonists.
STEPHEN FEE: King's speech came during a commemoration marking the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's so-called Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, a little known document that preceded by three months the proclamation itself.
It warned the South that Lincoln intended to free slaves in all states that continued to remain in the confederacy.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: If our nation had done nothing more in its whole history than to create just two documents, its contribution to civilization would be imperishable.
The first of these documents is the Declaration of Independence, and the other is that which we are here to honor tonight, the Emancipation Proclamation.
STEPHEN FEE: Until late last year, the only known record of King's speech was a copy of his remarks annotated by an audio technician that had been stored at the New York State Museum in Albany.
But, in November, as the museum digitized its audio collections, an intern discovered a recording.
Listening to the tape had a profound effect on New York state's education commissioner, John King. He oversees the museum.
JOHN KING JR., New York education commissioner: Having read it, it's very different to hear it.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: All tyrants, past, present and future.
JOHN KING JR.: And you get to here the powerful way in which King approached the speech as a speaker. You also could see where he, in his choice of words, departed from the written text. And you also get much more of a sense of Dr. King as a speaker and author.
STEPHEN FEE: The discovery of the recording here at the State Museum in Albany, New York, not only sheds new light on the civil rights era; it also emphasizes the impact that the life of Abraham Lincoln had on Martin Luther King Jr.
JOHN KING JR.: Both of them clearly wrestled with their positions in life, the individual sacrifices that they ultimately would make.
STEPHEN FEE: Khalil Gibran Muhammad directs the New York Public's Library Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. He draws parallel between King and Lincoln's strategic thinking.
KHALIL GIBRAN MUHAMMAD, New York Public Library Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: Lincoln uses legal strategy and maneuvering and says, I am going to do something that is going to fundamentally change the balance of power, and who is going to stop me? And we will deal with the consequences, the legal consequences of that when we cross that period.
I think King fundamentally admires that and wants to remind a group of politicians and decision-makers here in New York that they have the influence and potentially the power to make similar decisions in this critical moment of 1962.
STEPHEN FEE: Critical because King worried that President John F. Kennedy wouldn't push hard enough to pass the Civil Rights Act.
Meanwhile, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who intended to challenge Kennedy in 1964, invited King to speak at the commemoration ceremony, a possible bid to court black voters.
JOHN KING JR.: Dr. King was hesitant to speak at the dinner because, of course, Governor Rockefeller was a Republican. Dr. King was working to get then President Kennedy to take a stronger stand on civil rights issues, and was somewhat reluctant to attend the event.
But Governor Rockefeller helped organize donations to rebuild churches that had been burned in the South. And that was something that helped get Dr. King's attention.
STEPHEN FEE: At the dinner, King chastised politicians of both major parties for not doing enough to fulfill the promise of Lincoln's document.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: The proclamation of inferiority has contended with the proclamation of emancipation, negating its liberating force.
Inferiority has justified the low-living standards of the Negro, sanctioned his separation from the majority culture, and enslaved him physically and psychologically. Inferiority as a fetter is more subtle and sophisticated than iron chains; it is invisible and its victim helps to fashion his own bonds.
KHALIL GIBRAN MUHAMMAD: He is speaking directly to the Kennedy administration and its allies on both sides of the political aisle, saying, you can't stand in the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, call yourselves politicians, because no president befitting the office who bows before forces of injustice is befitting the office.
In this speech here, he is saying, look, this is where the country went wrong from the beginning. This is where the country didn't live up to the promises and possibilities of the emancipation period. This is what a heroic and courageous politician looks like when they -- when they act.
STEPHEN FEE: Courageous, perhaps, but despite their anti-slavery zeal, Lincoln and his closest aides had to cope with the politics of their time.
Historian James Oakes says Lincoln wanted to free all the country's slaves outright.
JAMES OAKES, City University of New York: But the Constitution protects slavery in the states where it already existed. All they could do is free slaves as a military necessity in an effort to suppress the rebellion and restore the Union, constitutionally.
STEPHEN FEE: Even so, the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation marked a major step toward abolition. And in his 1962 speech, King said it's reach extended all the way to his own time.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: All Americans must enlist in a crusade finally to make the race question an ugly relic of a dark past. When that day dawns, the Emancipation Proclamation will be commemorated in luminous glory.
JOHN KING: You really see him connecting the civil rights movement of the 1960s to the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War to the Declaration of Independence and the founding of the country.
You hear him telling a story about America as a place that aspires to greater freedom and greater equality. And I hope people will see that. And I also hope people will be inspired to work towards greater equality today.
STEPHEN FEE: As for Lincoln, he donated the handwritten preliminary proclamation to a charity ravel. Abolitionist Garret Smith won the document after buying most of the tickets, 1,000 of them at $1 a piece. It would later be sold to New York State, and the Preliminary Proclamation now sits in a vault at the state library, like that audiotape of Martin Luther King's speech, a precious piece of history now preserved under the same roof.
GWEN IFILL: The Taliban carried out a brazen attack today against a military base in Southern Afghanistan. Using a truck bomb, gunmen stormed the complex and killed an American soldier. That followed an assault Friday that targeted a restaurant frequented by Westerners in Kabul; 21 civilians were killed, 13 of them non-Afghans, in the single deadliest attack against foreign citizens since the war started.
Claiming responsibility, the Taliban said the attack was in retaliation for an airstrike last week against insurgents in the eastern Parwan province. There is little agreement on the genesis of that attack. There were a number of civilian causalities, but there are conflicting reports on how many were killed.
For more on the instability in Afghanistan, we turn to Washington Post reporter Pamela Constable. She recently returned from the country. And Omar Samad, a former Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman who also served as the country's ambassador to France and to Canada.
Welcome to you both.
What does this latest attack, Pam, tell us about how unstable things are right now security-wise in Afghanistan?
PAMELA CONSTABLE, The Washington Post: I think it tells us, number one, that the Taliban are very deliberate, very precise, very well-organized.
They target places that they know will have high symbolic value, especially to the international community. At a time of great uncertainty about things like the security agreement, about future elections, everybody's very nervous already in the country, both foreigners and Afghans. And I think an attack like this really focuses that fear and those uncertainties and crystallizes a lot of the concerns and, of course, makes them much more personal and much more -- much more emotional.
GWEN IFILL: Ambassador Samad, do you see it the same way?
OMAR SAMAD, former Afghan Foreign Ministry Official: I do.
I mean, I think that Afghanistan overall is going through a very difficult period. And there are some very hard questions on the table right now. So the timing of this attack, the target itself, the selection of this target, a soft target, but with high visibility, these are things that they must have taken into account when they decided to send three suicide bombers who created mayhem.
Now, on the other hand, I think the Afghan people have seen such tragedies occur at times in there. And I hope this is not sort of a watershed moment for all of us, including the international presence in Afghanistan. But Afghans are very resilient as well. And I think that they have also demonstrated over the past 24 hours that they came out on the streets, right next door to this -- the place where this incident took place.
They demonstrated, they protested, and they said, we will not give up, and we will continue against terrorism.
GWEN IFILL: You talk about the soft target of this particular restaurant. Both of you have spent time there. It's a very popular place.
Pam, tell us about it.
PAMELA CONSTABLE: It was really my home away from home on my trip, my many trips to Afghanistan in recent years.
The owner was a wonderful Lebanese businessman, a friend to all of us, not only charming and a genial host, but a truly generous and kind person. And he would never let us pay for dinner because he thought of us as his friends. Every time I went to Afghanistan, I would always have a farewell dinner with my friends at his restaurant. I must have been there, you know, 50 times.
And I always felt that it was my comfort zone. I always felt that it was a place of warmth and civility, and also safety, frankly.
GWEN IFILL: And the owner, of course, is one of the people killed in the attack.
PAMELA CONSTABLE: He indeed was killed, yes.
GWEN IFILL: As you -- when you think about these soft targets in restaurants like this or places that are high-profile for Westerners, do you think the attack is geared to those places particularly to get that attention, in a way that an attack in Parwan province might not?
OMAR SAMAD: Yes, absolutely.
I mean, this is, in my opinion, part of a grand planning, grand design on the part of the Taliban, people who strategize for the Taliban. Remember, this year is a very important year, 2014. This is a year not only of the end of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, including the U.S. mission, as we have known it. It is the year of Afghan elections in just less than three months' time.
It is the year of transitions in so many ways for Afghans, who are uncertain about the future. So this is when the Taliban want to have the greatest impact possible. They are against the BSA, this bilateral security agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan. And President Karzai has made it harder than everyone because he has been reluctant to sign it for his own reasons.
So the Taliban want to send these messages. And I think that they may continue to send these messages. I have to say, 24 hours just after this tragedy in Kabul, we heard that three young Afghans, young men, were killed when the Talibs fired a rocket on a soccer field in Kandahar.
GWEN IFILL: But that is not the example that President Karzai cited, for instance.
OMAR SAMAD: No, but President Karzai didn't mention this incident. He mentioned basically this one in Parwan.
Parwan is a complex situation. We have two different versions, as you mentioned earlier, one which says that the Afghans were in the lead, that they were being -- that the joint operation was under duress and that they had to call in for air support.
The other says that, well, you know, it was a NATO operation, that there wasn't much coordination and so on and so forth. So, as far as I'm concerned, we have to get to the bottom of this, but we cannot politicize every event that takes place.
GWEN IFILL: You talk about the uncertainty.
You have been there. You both have been there in the last couple of weeks. How much does the political uncertainty, the refusal of signing the agreement, how much does that trickle down to the uncertainty on the ground, the lack -- or the sense that people are less safe?
PAMELA CONSTABLE: I think it trickles down very much.
I know many Afghans who have already left the country or are planning or trying to leave the country, people who have good jobs, people who were in good positions, not just poor people, but people who had some very strong prospects for success in that country, who are now so genuinely worried about things falling apart, which we all hope won't happen.
But there's so much fear that they will. And I'm not only talking about foreigners. I'm really talking about Afghans here who know their country and know what is at stake. So it's really -- it's almost like something in the water that I think has infected us all.
GWEN IFILL: But in order for this withdrawal to work, in order for this agreement to work, even if it were signed, doesn't it depend a lot on Westerners, on foreigners, on these non-governmental organizations who are on the ground, who can feel secure enough to stay? Do you have a sense that they are rethinking their missions?
OMAR SAMAD: I'm sure there is always rethink taking place in Afghanistan because of one reason or another.
But this incident obviously is going to make a lot of organizations, international organizations and presence rethink security arrangements. I don't think that the engagement in the mission is going to change much, unless we turn into another Baghdad, for example. And we look at what has happened in Iraq. And God forbid that Kabul becomes another Baghdad at this point.
So, Afghans themselves will do everything possible.
I think the Afghan security forces have again shown that they have the ability and the courage to go after these people and to do what is needed. I think that needs to be worked on. This is why the BSA is so important, because the BSA is the only...
GWEN IFILL: BSA.
OMAR SAMAD: The bilateral security agreement is the only way for the Afghan security forces to continue to develop and grow. And, at the same time, it's the only way to fund Afghanistan for the next few years until it's able to fund itself.
GWEN IFILL: You mentioned a few moments ago that this might be a watershed moment. You both have been in and out of the country, very connected to what is happening on the ground. Does it feel like a watershed moment to you, Pamela?
PAMELA CONSTABLE: It does, but maybe that's because I'm too close to it and it's only just happened. And, you know, friends of mine were killed, and that always makes you feel particularly vulnerable.
I hope it's not. But many people I have talked to over the past two or three days feel as if it may never be the same for them again.
OMAR SAMAD: I also hope it's not.
I think that Afghans will overcome it. It is the international community that has to realize that there is much more at stake in Afghanistan, and that tragedies such as at these that -- where our friends die and people we know need to be put in context. And I hope that's what they will do.
GWEN IFILL: Omar Samad, Pamela Constable, thank you both very much.
And my condolences to you for the loss of your friends.
PAMELA CONSTABLE: Thank you very much.
GWEN IFILL: Basic research, the less glamorous side of science, is often the most important, leading to sometimes unanticipated discoveries that pay off years later.
Tonight, we begin a series of occasional reports on air and online exploring that work.
NewsHour science correspondent Miles O'Brien starts with a report on one project trying to answer a huge question about the cosmos.
MILES O’BRIEN: It's a long ride down to pay dirt at the Creighton nickel mine in Sudbury, Ontario, the perfect place to find precious metal and, hopefully, a priceless answer to one of the biggest mysteries of the universe; 6,800 feet below the surface, at the end of a long, dusty, dark tunnel, sits a hermetically sealed warren, brimming with intent technicians working on odd-looking scientific instruments.
Welcome to SNOLAB, one of the most sophisticated particle physics observatories in the world, nestled deep underground to filter out the background radiation all around us at the surface. This is where one of the great unanswered questions in the realm of basic research may soon be answered: What exactly is dark matter?
NIGEL SMITH, SNOLAB: This is one of the longstanding contemporary problems in particle -- particle astrophysics is, what the hell is this stuff? You know, it's just -- 24 percent of the mass of the universe, we don't know what it is.
MILES O’BRIEN: While most of us marvel at the stunning beauty of the planets, stars, nebulas and galaxies, particle physicists are fixated on the seemingly empty space in between.
NIGEL SMITH: There has to be more out there than meets the eye. There has to be a significant fraction of the galaxy and a significant fraction of the universe is in a form that we don't yet understand.
MILES O’BRIEN: So, how can they be so certain? Well, without it, what you see is not what you would get.
At the edge of the Milky Way, stars move faster than they would if they were simply being tugged by the mass of the visible objects at the center of the galaxy. It is likely something else is pulling them along. Scientists may not understand what dark matter is, but they know enough about what it does to map it. And they also are pretty sure what it is made of. They are called WIMPs, generically, so, weakly interacting massive particles.
Yes, WIMPs, they are the current best theory of what dark matter might be. They superseded an earlier idea called massive astrophysical compact halo objects, or MACHOs.
MILES O’BRIEN: The WIMP is winning?
NIGEL SMITH: Everything points towards the WIMP solution being the appropriate solution. So there are many projects that are focused on trying to understand the WIMP and discover the WIMP in reality.
MILES O’BRIEN: And scientists are hunting in the blind, and it is a constant challenge to know how and where to look for the answer. But they think they have a good idea of how to find some WIMPs.
IAN LAWSON, SNOLAB: It's very critical that we actually maintain a constant temperature for the experiment.
MILES O’BRIEN: Ian Lawson works on an experiment at SNOLAB called PICASSO. It uses superheated freon droplets to try and detect dark matter. When ionizing subatomic particles collide with the freon droplet in just the right way, it creates a gas bubble.
IAN LAWSON: There actually is like a little bubble right in there that hasn't been compressed yet.
MILES O’BRIEN: Not the dark matter bubble, of course. The bubbles that have appeared so far are created by a neutron radiation source used regularly to calibrate and test the instruments.
What would the dark matter bubble look like?
IAN LAWSON: The dark matter bubble looks very, very similar to a neutron bubble.
MILES O’BRIEN: You think? But we haven't seen one, right?
IAN LAWSON: We haven't seen one, but that's what we think.
MILES O’BRIEN: Is there some disappointment that you haven't seen it yet?
IAN LAWSON: Not a disappointment that we haven't seen it, but it just means that we have to make our detectors more and more sensitive.
MILES O’BRIEN: That's what Chris Jillings and his team are working on in another vein of this mine of the mind.
The experiment they are building is called DEAP. In this case, the target medium for detecting the ghostly dark matter particles will be liquefied argon. The hope is a WIMP will act like a cue ball, striking an argon nucleus in just the right way.
CHRIS JILLINGS, SNOLAB: The argon nucleus would recoil through the liquid argon, and a little bit of interesting chemistry would happen. The energy will temporarily make some molecules, which will decay and emit a flash of light. So the irony is, although we don't -- dark matter doesn't interact with light in any way, once it hits the argon nucleus, what we will detect is a tiny flash of light.
MILES O’BRIEN: This device, a photomultiplier, is designed to see and record those tiny flashes with an array of extremely sensitive lenses and sensors.
In order to give the detectors a fighting chance of success, workers here keep SNOLAB squeaky clean to remove as much background radiation as they can. Everything that comes into the lab is thoroughly wiped down, everything, and everyone as well -- no exceptions for visiting reporters. I had to remove the clothes I wore in the dirty part of the mine, take a thorough shower, and then change into clean room clothing that stays in the lab.
SNOLAB has some deep roots in the hunt for the tiniest particles that make up our universe. The predecessor organization here, the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, in the 1990s made some very significant scientific finds in the hunt for neutrinos, tiny particles which are emitted from the fusion reaction on our sun.
For many years, physicists hoped neutrinos were the answer to the dark matter mystery, but the speedy, wispy particles only constitute 1 percent of the missing puzzle piece.
SNOLAB physicist Christine Kraus is pretty sure this time they are homing in on the right answer.
CHRISTINE KRAUS, SNOLAB: I think that we will see something very exciting, exciting within the next five to 10 years, hopefully the next five years. So, I think the next generation of experiments has a very good shot at finding dark matter.
MILES O’BRIEN: This is Nobel kind of work, isn't it?
CHRISTINE KRAUS: If dark matter would be discovered, I think that would be -- would be a Nobel Prize, yes.
MILES O’BRIEN: Legendary physicist Stephen Hawking came to visit SNOLAB in September of 2012. But make no mistake. This observatory is not the pre-anointed victor. The race for this Nobel is under way, underground, at competing facilities in the U.S., Europe, Russia, and Japan.
This is big, basic research, without a clear application in mind, or even conceivable. But it is completely worthwhile, according to Nigel Smith.
NIGEL SMITH: The things that we developed to observe dark matter, the things that we developed to observe these neutrinos, they will have spin-out. They will have spin-out in technology and the knowledge that is developed to understand the systems that we are building. So, you never quite know where knowledge is going to take you.
MILES O’BRIEN: Physicist Clarence Virtue believes scientists here are leaving a legacy of knowledge for future generations. He heads up an experiment designed to catch neutrinos emitted by an exploding giant star, a supernova.
CLARENCE VIRTUE, Laurentian University: We're building an ever more complete picture of what the universe is, how it came about, where it's going.
MILES O’BRIEN: So dark matter matters?
CLARENCE VIRTUE: Absolutely. It's a piece of a real puzzle. It's rather annoying to particle physicists, but it is so important, and yet we know next to nothing about it.
MILES O’BRIEN: Apparently, when particle physicists get annoyed, they don't mess around. They have dug themselves some deep holes, and the only way out may be to shed some light on some particles that don't reflect it, and yet may enlighten us all.
GWEN IFILL: The president's speech on surveillance and privacy late last week rattled cages from Silicon Valley to foreign capitals. But a new survey from the Pew Research Center and USA Today found nearly half of those polled believe there are still not enough limits placed on the government's collection of telephone and Web data.
Many of the people who produce and market the technology used to conduct the surveillance agree.
Even before President Obama outlined his proposed changes in how the NSA should collect data for surveillance, many tech giants, like Google, Apple and Facebook, were vocal in their criticism. In public and in private White House meetings, executives complained the government is using their software to vacuum up data like e-mail addresses and phone numbers.
On Friday, the president pledged additional privacy protection and to allow companies to be more transparent about how often they are required to cooperate with the government on such requests. But there were few specifics, and the president said the government is not the only one gathering and storing such information.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Corporations of all shapes and sizes track what you buy, store and analyze our data, and use it for commercial purposes. That's how those targeted ads pop up on your computer or smartphone periodically. But all of us understand that the standards for government surveillance must be higher.
Given the unique power of the state, it is not enough for leaders to say: Trust us. We Won't abuse the data we collect.
GWEN IFILL: Mr. Obama said he would look at restricting how many phone records could be collected under what is known as the 215 program. That might include turning the information over to a non-governmental third party.
Republican Mike Rogers, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said yesterday the president is trying to have it both ways.
REP. MIKE ROGERS, R-Mich.: Then he said, well, I have some concerns about moving it to the private sector. He outlined that very well. Then he said, but I don't think the government can do it, so I'm going -- we're going to conduct another 70-day review, basically, and then review it again.
GWEN IFILL: The president also didn't address another concern of the tech sector: the National Security Agency's efforts to weaken some encryption standards.
For the view from Silicon Valley, we're joined by Christian Dawson, co-founder and chairman of the Internet Infrastructure Coalition, a consortium of technology companies. And Nuala O'Connor, she's the incoming president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit public policy organization dedicated to Internet openness.
Welcome to you both.
CHRISTIAN DAWSON, Internet Infrastructure Coalition: Thank you very much for having us.
GWEN IFILL: Nuala O'Connor, did the president go far enough?
NUALA O'CONNOR, Center for Democracy and Technology: No, he didn't.
There is much to admire in the president's speech. And we're really gratified by his commitment to protect civil liberties in the war on terror. But the speech didn't go as far as we would have liked to have been in being clear about the specifics of how he plans to end bulk data collection as we know it.
Our position is that the default setting for the technology in our daily lives, our cell phones, our Internet searches cannot be that all of that data ends up in the hands of the federal government.
GWEN IFILL: Is the tech industry being treated, Christian Dawson, differently than other industries, and maybe ought it to be, considering the kind of tentacles it has in our lives?
CHRISTIAN DAWSON: Well, the tech industry is different, in that we are the economic engine who has been driving the economy for the past decade.
And it's been what is working most in this economy in the past decade. What the president was doing in this speech didn't go far enough. What we needed to do was...
GWEN IFILL: What did you need him to do?
GWEN IFILL: That's OK. You just -- you needed him to go farther? You needed them to do what, just push the envelope farther?
CHRISTIAN DAWSON: There was a -- there seemed to be a lack of understanding of exactly what the stakes are here, because what we have at risk here is the loss of the global free Internet.
We needed the president to go up there and explain to the world that we -- we think that privacy is important here. The privacy norms that we have in the United States don't meet European standards. They don't meet the standards of much of the world.
And if we don't go out with bold language to convince the world that we do believe in privacy standards, we are going to see an E.U. Internet and a U.S. Internet and a China Internet and a...
GWEN IFILL: But there this idea that the discussion about privacy, is that more of a business concern, the fact that if the U.S. has a reputation for impinging on privacy, that it hurts the bottom lines of the tech industry, Nuala?
NUALA O’CONNOR: I do see in my friends in the tech industry a real concern that their sales and their effectiveness is being hurt and damaged by the revelations of the last summer.
But we see it even more as an individual liberty issue. This is about the relationship of the individual to their information, the digital self. The fact that my transactions online, the fact that my behavior could be tracked and analyzed by NSA surveillance, without any kind of legal predicate, without any kind of suspicion about my having done something wrong, that's very concerning to us.
GWEN IFILL: Let me ask you both a question, just a kind of devil's advocate question. Why am I to believe as a consumer that the tech industry, the software producers were shocked, shocked there was drinking going on at Rick's bar, that you didn't know that this is what the government was up to, that you weren't cooperating with it all along?
I will start with you, Christian.
CHRISTIAN DAWSON: I'm a tech company, and I haven't been cooperating with it all along.
The problem here is that nobody really knows the rules of the game. These -- like sections 215, the language is very unclear and the standards by which people are -- by which decisions are being made, they're not clear to anybody. And until we have that transparency, then we don't have the world confidence.
GWEN IFILL: Is the concern that the government doesn't allow you to disclose or that there is nothing to disclose?
NUALA O’CONNOR: I think the transparency issue is a very important one, but I think it's nibbling around the edges.
What we don't want to see is the wholesale importation of data from the tech industry to the federal government prior to there being any kind of reasonable suspicion about your behavior or mine. Did some parties in the tech industry know? I can't say.
But I know that we are concerned, certainly, that the individual citizen doesn't know what is happening to their data.
GWEN IFILL: Is this a concern? But let's go back again to the -- we understand the individual citizens argument and privacy. But as far as the industry goes, is this an international concern? Is this a concern about how you are being viewed abroad, as well as how you are being viewed here?
CHRISTIAN DAWSON: I'm a business leader. And, traditionally, 60 percent of my businesses come from international sources.
There's not a tolerance for that in today's market. So, absolutely, this is an international issue.
GWEN IFILL: So what are people saying? Do you get phone calls from would-be clients saying, I don't know if I trust you anymore?
CHRISTIAN DAWSON: Well, they can move their businesses somewhere else in two clicks, and so they don't even need to bother with the phone call.
And so we are absolutely losing economic growth and seeing it go overseas due to this issue.
NUALA O’CONNOR: It is a competitiveness issue. And Christian is right that it is also a potential balkanization issue.
We are concerned about an open Internet. We're concerned about free expression. We're concerned about the sharing of information. I want engineers in one part of the world to be able to communicate with engineers in another part of the world, to share ideas and to create new technology that is going to benefit the world.
If we start siloing information because people are afraid to transact business either in the United States or in other parts of the world, we are going to lose productivity, innovation, and ingenuity, not just in this country, but globally as well.
GWEN IFILL: Here is the president's argument, the administration's argument. We have to find the correct balance between protecting our citizens and protecting their security and protecting their constitutional rights. What, in your opinion, going forward is the correct balance?
CHRISTIAN DAWSON: The correct balance is definitely to focus on the process and to make sure that everybody knows what the process is.
But we also ought to do -- we have to do that with the world watching. For instance, if we are going to have mass collection at -- if we're going to be using backdoors, technological backdoors, that needs to be something that we go through a process of engaging the government on.
We went through this process a few years ago. There was -- and we decided, as an organization -- as a world -- sorry -- as the United States people, that we didn't want these -- when they tried to pass Clipper chip legislation and decided that the Clipper chip wasn't going to be something that we tolerate. And so...
GWEN IFILL: But Americans also aren't particularly interested in tolerating the idea that they are less safe. So what is -- what is the balance there?
CHRISTIAN DAWSON: Well...
NUALA O’CONNOR: We're not asking for this country to be less safe. We want to keep our children and our homes and our neighbors safe.
But I think we can do better. We can do better with more targeted, limited searches. We can do better with technology. The technology industry is at issue here, but it can also be a solution. It can be a savior to this problem by using more legitimate means, maybe encrypted or de-identified data, maybe more targeted databases.
But we do not want to see a wholesale importation of data into the government or into the hands of a third party. That is going to raise even further concerns about privacy and security of that data.
GWEN IFILL: Where we stand tonight, has the tech industry taken a confidence hit in the wake of these revelations, the Edward Snowden revelations, and the government's involvement? Or are you just trying to get ahead of it before you can begin to measure or have measurable impact?
CHRISTIAN DAWSON: Well, of course it has. It's taken a...
GWEN IFILL: It already has? How do you measure that?
CHRISTIAN DAWSON: Well, we're in the process of measuring that.
But we see in the news every day that we have seen on a number of occasions contracts going overseas. We're collecting data on loss of business. And, absolutely, it comes directly out of these revelations.
GWEN IFILL: So what do you do about that?
NUALA O’CONNOR: I think we have got to be clear, not only as a government, but as an industry, from your side, what the rules are.
Transparency is part of it. But, again, I think legitimate limited law enforcement, national security purposes are something everyone can support. But we have got to be a lot clearer about what the rules are and about it being targeted and strategic, not wholesale data.
GWEN IFILL: Nuala O'Connor of the Center for Democracy and Technology, and Christian Dawson of the Internet Infrastructure Coalition, thank you both very much.
CHRISTIAN DAWSON: Thank you very much.
NUALA O’CONNOR: Thank you.