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- 02/05/14--15:09: _Considering the eth...
- 02/05/14--15:16: _Has the Catholic Ch...
- 02/05/14--15:40: _Will various milita...
- 02/05/14--15:55: _Enhanced hearing in...
- 02/05/14--17:52: _Wednesday, February...
- 02/06/14--13:47: _Jay Leno to take hi...
- 02/06/14--14:46: _Iraqi security forc...
- 02/06/14--14:49: _Filmmaker Greg Whit...
- 02/06/14--15:02: _News Wrap: Senate G...
- 02/06/14--15:03: _Two loves: An adjun...
- 02/06/14--15:08: _U.S. Olympic hopefu...
- 02/06/14--15:11: _Athletes prepare to...
- 02/06/14--15:15: _Der Spiegel journal...
- 02/06/14--15:18: _UN says children ca...
- 02/06/14--15:24: _Is academia sufferi...
- 02/06/14--15:26: _TSA bans toothpaste...
- 02/06/14--15:32: _As Leno exits ‘Toni...
- 02/06/14--15:38: _Outside groups star...
- 02/06/14--15:45: _Seeing the Partheno...
- 02/06/14--18:24: _Thursday, February ...
- 02/05/14--17:52: Wednesday, February 5, 2014
- 02/06/14--13:47: Jay Leno to take his final bow on ‘Tonight Show’
- 02/06/14--14:46: Iraqi security forces ‘abusing women,’ report says
- 02/06/14--14:49: Filmmaker Greg Whiteley goes backstage with the Romneys in ‘Mitt’
- 02/06/14--15:02: News Wrap: Senate GOP blocks renewal of long-term jobless benefits
- 02/06/14--15:03: Two loves: An adjunct’s journey from the classroom to the racetrack
- 02/06/14--15:11: Athletes prepare to prove their medal at Sochi
- 02/06/14--15:26: TSA bans toothpaste, liquids aboard flights from U.S. to Russia
- 02/06/14--15:32: As Leno exits ‘Tonight,’ late night TV seeks younger viewers
- 02/06/14--15:45: Seeing the Parthenon through ancient eyes
- 02/06/14--18:24: Thursday, February 6, 2014
JUDY WOODRUFF: Today’s announcement by CVS that it will stop selling tobacco products this fall resounded quickly and loudly in the world of business and public health. CVS, which has 7,600 stores nationwide and is creating more in-store health clinics, said that it will lose about $2 billion annually.
But, in making the decision, the company’s chief executive, Larry Merlo, said — quote — “We have come to the conclusion that cigarettes have no place in a setting where health care is being delivered.”
For more on the significance of this decision and what was behind it, we turn to Dr. Ronald DePinho. He’s the president of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas. And Stephanie Strom, she’s a reporter with The New York Times.
Welcome to you both.
Let me start with you, Dr. DePinho. How significant do you think a move this is?DR. RONALD DEPINHO, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: I think this is quite significant.
In isolation, it may not have a specific impact, but it send a very strong message to all retailers that tobacco is a dangerous product. It extracts a very significant social, economic, toll on our society that is responsible for about 20 percent of deaths in the United States and about 30 percent of cancer deaths. So it’s a very important problem.
And I greatly applaud CVS’ bold move in this direction. They have placed people before profits.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Stephanie Strom, how long has CVS been thinking about doing this, and why do they say they’re doing it?
STEPHANIE STROM, The New York Times: Well, it’s really unclear, Judy, how long this has been going on internally in discussions.
My own guess is that Larry Merlo, the CEO, who is himself a pharmacist, started with the company 20 years ago as a pharmacist, he may have been sort of thinking in this direction before he even got into the CEO’s chair. And I suspect that they have thought about it long and hard and finally came to the conclusion that now is the time to do it.
They are determined to become a health care services company, if you will, more so than just a retail drugstore chain. And they believe that this is one more step in their plan to evolve that way.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, in connection with that, how much of a risk are they taking from a business standpoint?
STEPHANIE STROM: Well, you know, the company said that they would — it would reduce their sales by about $2 billion. That’s not all cigarettes. That’s cigarettes, plus the other things tobacco buyers might purchase at the same time they’re buying their cigarettes.
So, that’s off the top line. They did estimate that, on an annual basis, it would cost them about 17 cents per share. So it will deal a blow to their profits, if they don’t find a way to replace those revenues. They said that they would probably try to replace some of those revenues with a new smoking cessation program that physicians, care groups, hospitals, and others might refer their patients to, which would, of course, add revenues to CVS.
But they were kind of unclear about that, and I think that’s why the stock took a little bit of a hit today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Dr. DePinho, we know CVS has, what, about 7,600 stores around the country, but we’re told there are something like 250,000 stores across this country where people can buy tobacco products.
So how much of a dent is this really is going to make in the availability of cigarettes?
DR. RONALD DEPINHO: Well, in isolation, it may not make that significant an impact in itself. But if it gains momentum, it will have an impact.
Scientific literature has shown that if you reduce access to tobacco products, you actually reduce usage. So if this gains momentum, and other retailers, like Wal-Mart and others, also follow this very courageous path forward, it can have a significant impact on access to tobacco products and their use.
JUDY WOODRUFF:So, Stephanie Strom, is it expected that these other stores that sell cigarettes, tobacco products are going to follow suit?
STEPHANIE STROM: Well, both Walgreens and Rite Aid today issued statements saying the they were always reevaluating the mix of products that they sell, and they would do what was best for their consumers by answering their consumers’ demands.
It is really unclear, I think, at this point whether others will follow suit. There will be, however, pressure on them, because, of course, health care advocates are going to use this as leverage.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me…
DR. RONALD DEPINHO: Also, I think…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, go ahead.
DR. RONALD DEPINHO: … one point that might be worth making here is that when you have these signal events — look at what Mayor Bloomberg did in New York City when he took the courageous act to ban tobacco use, smoking in restaurants and other public places and bars and so on.
That had a tremendous ripple effect across many other cities around the world, and other mayors, other legislative officials felt that they had the cover needed to also pursue because of the leadership of New York City in this regard. So, while in isolation, it may not be that impactful, symbolically, it may inspire and galvanize many others, particularly those in health care, such as other pharmacy chains and so on, to really take a step towards becoming involved in health care, as opposed to disease care.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of that, Stephanie Strom, what does CVS do now in the way of health care, being a health care provider? And what more do they want to do?
STEPHANIE STROM: Well, CVS has gone further than almost anyone else in establishing these they things they call minute clinics, which are mini-clinics inside of their stores. They’re typically staffed by nurses, physician’s assistant, a nurse practitioner.
And you can go in there, and if you have pink eye, they can tell you, you have pink eye, and here’s what you need to take for it. Also, their pharmacists are becoming much more advisers to people. The U.S. has lost a great number of primary care physicians over the years.
And so these kind of mini clinics in places like CVS are stepping in to that role, if you have a cold, if you have strep throat…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
STEPHANIE STROM: … you know, the basic medical ailments we all have from time to time.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Dr. DePinho to you, finally, just quickly, you’re the head of a major hospital, major cancer center. Do you see health care delivery changing in the way we hear CVS thinking about doing it?
DR. RONALD DEPINHO: Well, if you look at the Affordable Care Act and the emphasis today, there is a major shift towards prevention and early detection of disease.
In the case of cancer, about 50 percent of cancers are preventable, and tobacco plays a major role in that impact. So, I think the entire health care system is moving towards, as I mentioned before, more of a health care system, as opposed to a disease care system, where we can be far more interventive in disease, as opposed to dealing with the problems of advanced disease.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we want to thank you both, Dr. Ronald DePinho and Stephanie Strom.
STEPHANIE STROM: Thank you.
The post Considering the ethics and economics of CVS stores ending tobacco sales appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
GWEN IFILL: The Vatican has long been criticized for its handling of sexual abuse cases, but today’s report from a United Nations panel was especially harsh.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child said the Vatican had not adequately acknowledged past crimes, and cultivated a code of silence that provided immunity for perpetrators. The Vatican calls the report distorted and unfair, in that it ignores corrective actions taken by the church.
Here to flesh out those arguments are Reverend Thomas Rosica, chief executive officer of Canada’s Catholic Salt and Light Television Network and an English-language spokesperson for the Vatican, and Katherine Gallagher, a senior staff attorney at the center for constitutional rights.
Reverend Rosica, how does this report, in your opinion, differ from what we have heard before?REV. THOMAS ROSICA, Catholic Salt and Light Television Network: First of all, let me address the question of sex abuse, and that this report has a central mission to address that.
It is criminal. It is evil, and the church is doing everything possible to address the issue, particularly since 2001, when all of this exploded in Boston and other places in the United States. What I find disturbing about the report, basically three areas. It’s a great deal of ignorance that the committee reveals in the report, first of all, ignorance of what the church has already done, and what the church is doing, especially under the pontificate of Pope Benedict, and now under Pope Francis.
Secondly, there is gross mis-ignorance — gross ignorance, I should say, of the understanding of the reality of the church. How is the church structured? One could read the report and get the impression that the church is this huge monolithic structure, the headquarters, if you will, dictating to all the branch offices.
That’s not the reality of the church. And a very serious point of the report is its ability to meddle in the internal life of the church, in the basic tenets of our faith, what some would call the doctrinal issues. And the report is contradictory in a couple areas.
My first reaction in reading this really calls into question the United Nations and some of its committees, which really are noisy gongs and clanging cymbals in many regards. They’re fueled by special interest groups. And by focusing on so many different things, they’re doing a great injustice to the victims of sexual abuse and to the efforts that the church has taken to address this crisis.
GWEN IFILL: Well, Katherine Gallagher, that gives you a lot to chew on.
What is your thought about — and is there anything especially significant that an international body weighed in like this?
KATHERINE GALLAGHER, Center for Constitutional Rights: Well, we see today is quite a historic day.
We at CCR represent of Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests. And for survivors who have been working for decades to bring to global attention the scope and scale and the severity of sexual violence against children, we are very gratified by the U.N.’s report today. It’s notable that the U.N. calls out not just the perpetrators, the individual perpetrators, but also the higher-level officials whose own practices and policies have enabled the continuation of sexual violence by covering up instances of violence — violence, by requiring confidentiality, by shifting priests from one jurisdiction to another without any warning, where they again commit more acts of sexual assault.
So we see today’s report, which recognizes that the Catholic Church, the Vatican puts its reputation over the safety of children, as a very, very welcome report.
GWEN IFILL: Reverend Rosica, let me just walk you through a couple of things, as you pointed out, the doctrinal issues which the report brought up which were not about sexual abuse necessarily, the use of the term illegitimate children, the destigmatization it called for of homosexuality, the call on the church to assess the children born of priests, corporal punishment, abortion.
Is that what you are talking about when you say that the U.N. went too far?
THOMAS ROSICA: The U.N. went over the top and went too far.
The purpose of this was to call attention very specifically to the protection of children and the efforts that have been taken by the church in this regard. I believe that the church has been in the vanguard of dealing with this issue, much more than other institutions in society that have ignored it.
That being said, I agree with Ms. Gallagher, Katherine Gallagher, who is with me. The church has had an evil. It’s had a crisis. It’s had a plague. There have been all of those things that you have mentioned of cover-up, of moving people around, of doing all kinds of things to obfuscate the reality.
And, yes, we have been interested in preserving the reputation of the institution, rather than the individual victims. That has taken place, without a doubt. And we are grievously sorry for that, and we pledge to make sure that never happens again.
That being said, let the report acknowledge the information that was presented at the hearings on January the 16th in Geneva. Let the report at least acknowledge the efforts that we have taken, whereas many others in society have done nothing about this. Some of the greatest issues of sexual abuse of minors, the so-called pedophilia issues and ephebophilia, take place in families.
GWEN IFILL: Let me ask Katherine Gallagher about that …
THOMAS ROSICA: … report.
GWEN IFILL: Sorry to interrupt.
Let me ask Katherine Gallagher about that.
Has the church gone far enough in taking action, and short of scolding bishops for having participated in a cover-up?
KATHERINE GALLAGHER: No, clearly, the church has not.
And I was in Geneva when the committee was questioning the Vatican, and its growing frustration over the course of that day when it was hearing vague words, rather than clear actions that the Catholic Church has taken. And what the committee has asked for is actions that show accountability.
It has asked for cooperation with law enforcement at the national level, rather than hiding away priest priests and files. It asked for data to be brought forward and to be shared. The Vatican refused to do so. So, I don’t think that we have seen an institution at the vanguard of how to deal with sexual violence. Rather, we have seen a continuation.
And the committee makes it clear that this is an ongoing problem, a continuation of the code of silence.
GWEN IFILL: Reverend Thomas Rosica, is there anything …
THOMAS ROSICA: Let me ask you the question.
GWEN IFILL: Go ahead. Finish. Go ahead.
THOMAS ROSICA: What authority does such a committee have that is so not credible in how they have proceeded with their efforts?
I mean, does it have any jurisdiction or authority? Look at the very credibility of the United Nations and of such committees who seem to set themselves up as some kind of a watchdog over areas for which they don’t even have the proper historical background.
KATHERINE GALLAGHER: If I …
THOMAS ROSICA: And so I call into question not the serious issue of sexual abuse, but the methodology that was used, and how it was certainly fueled by some special interest groups, which produced a very distorted report.
That’s my concern, because I believe that the United Nations, at its best, could serve as something calling us all to greater integrity, to justice and to peace.
GWEN IFILL: Ms. Gallagher, final thought.
KATHERINE GALLAGHER: Yes, thank you.
The Holy See voluntarily signed on as a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. And that convention has a number of provisions, including placing the best interests of the child at the forefront. So the Vatican has taken upon itself the obligations to protect and safeguard children, to treat them with respect and with dignity.
And so it was very much within the committee’s purview to say that, we find, Vatican, that you have not been doing what you have pledged to do as a signatory to this convention.
GWEN IFILL: Katherine Gallagher and Father Thomas Rosica, thank you both so much.
The post Has the Catholic Church done enough to address sexual abuse by clergy? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
GWEN IFILL: The military has increasingly been racked by scandal, as three of its five branches face allegations of cheating and fraud.
Just as the U.S. military is winding down 12 years of high-tempo operations, three of its services are ramping up investigations into some of the most serious scandals in a generation. The latest involves charges that Navy trainers cheated on certification exams to teach at a nuclear reactor school in Charleston, South Carolina.ADM. JONATHAN GREENERT, Chief of Naval Operations: To say that I’m disappointed would be an understatement.
GWEN IFILL: The chief of naval operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, spoke at a Pentagon briefing yesterday.
ADM. JONATHAN GREENERT: We need to and we will remain vigilant. We will continue to drive home to our people the importance of integrity, the fact that it is the foundation of all that we do in the U.S. Navy.
GWEN IFILL: The Air Force, meanwhile, is conducting its own investigation in the nuclear ranks, one that grew out of a drug probe. It’s alleged that nearly 100 missile officers cheated on proficiency tests at a base in Montana.
The Pentagon’s top spokesman said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel sees a troubled road ahead.
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, Navy: I think he definitely sees this as a growing problem. And he’s concerned about the depth of it. I don’t think he could stand here and tell you that we — that he has, that anybody has the full grasp here. And that’s what worries the secretary.
GWEN IFILL: And a third scandal involving Army National Guard recruiting is among the largest in the service’s history. Senior officers and others are suspected of taking kickbacks under a program that awarded cash payments for signing up new recruits. Thousands of personnel are under investigation. The fraud is being counted in the tens of millions of dollars.
At a hearing yesterday, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill said, the misconduct went beyond those in uniform.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, D-Mo.: Because anyone could sign up to be a recruiting assistant, there are also cases of people unaffiliated with the Army stealing names and Social Security numbers of potential recruits, and receiving referral payments that they were not entitled to.
GWEN IFILL: And it doesn’t end there. The Washington Post, using Freedom of Information Act disclosures, has reported on general officers and admirals whose behavior was unethical, cruel, inappropriately sexual, or, in many cases, illegal under military law.
So how serious are all these incidents?
For that, we turn to Craig Whitlock, who covers the Defense Department for The Washington Post.
Where to begin? Let’s start with the Navy. How serious are the charges in Charleston?
CRAIG WHITLOCK, The Washington Post: Well, they are serious.
We don’t know the extent of it. Yesterday, the chief of naval operations and another admiral came out and said, we just found out about this. One sailor tipped us off that answers were being circulated among people who were operating nuclear reactors. But they don’t know the extent of it. We know there are 30 people under investigation.
But, as we saw with the Air Force, that tends to spread pretty quickly.
GWEN IFILL: And there was another case at the — involving the Navy involving silencers, contracting schemes?
CRAIG WHITLOCK: That’s right, a very bizarre case where senior intelligence officials in the Navy bought a whole bunch of silencers, unmarked ones, for a few million dollars that only cost a few thousand dollars to produce. And this is another strange case that the Navy is struggling to get to the bottom of.
GWEN IFILL: Now, the recruiting scandal, the recruiting investigation involving the Army, how much money are we talking about?
CRAIG WHITLOCK: Millions of dollars, and this is something that happened at the beginning of — had its beginning at the height of the Iraq war, when the Army was having trouble recruiting people.
And, essentially, they offered bonuses for referrals, but they didn’t check up on people who were claiming them within the Army. And, again, they have had a difficult time getting the extent of it, but it’s a lot of money, millions and millions of dollars.
GWEN IFILL: And how many people are involved, and who’s involved in that?
CRAIG WHITLOCK: Hundreds of people in the Army, and including up the chain of command, up to a two-star general.
GWEN IFILL: And maybe recruiters as well, just regular high school recruiters maybe?
CRAIG WHITLOCK: Well, it could be. I think it was also a lot of people in the Army who just had regular jobs, who were referring people who they said would be good candidates.
GWEN IFILL: And what is the status of the ongoing investigation in the Air Force involving those — the folks who had their hands on the button at Malmstrom Air Force Base?
CRAIG WHITLOCK: Well, so far, about 100 people have been implicated in that investigation, officers, who as you put it, who are in the missile silos, for cheating.
But what we know less about are the drug use allegations. The Air Force has said it’s investigating a drug abuse ring. That’s how they found out about this cheating to begin with. They have been pretty tight-lipped about how many people that involves.
And cheating is one thing, but drug use among people with their fingers on the button is really alarming.
GWEN IFILL: Haven’t all these branches of the military investigated themselves before in similar ways, especially like the recruiting scandal? This is not the first time we have heard of that.
CRAIG WHITLOCK: It’s not the first time. But the military does have its own functions for internal investigations, but it doesn’t like to air its dirty laundry.
And with the recruiting scandal, this is something that was highlighted in Congress by the Senate. Senator Claire McCaskill had a hearing on this the other day. This is not some — these kind of things are not things that many branches in the military like to expose. And they tend to come out drip, drip, drip, sometimes with reporters, sometimes with Congress, and it takes a while to figure out the scope of them.
GWEN IFILL: That’s what Freedom of Information Act requests are all about.
So, is this something that the brass, the top brass worry or the civilian brass worry is eroding public confidence in the military?
CRAIG WHITLOCK: Well, it is, and it was pretty striking today to hear the Pentagon press secretary come out and say that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is worried about the moral courage and moral character of the force.
Those are very powerful words, but especially for the military, where honor and integrity are really at the core of when they do. The public holds these commanders and enlisted people in very high esteem for what they do. So, when the top man in the Pentagon says he’s concerned about the moral courage, moral character of the force and how big of a problem it is, that’s pretty serious.
GWEN IFILL: Is this something which multiple deployments can exacerbate?
CRAIG WHITLOCK: Well, it could.
And that’s something that the Pentagon has admitted it’s asking itself. General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has wondered if the strain of war has had an effect on things, and whether the military during wartime maybe turned a bit of a blind eye towards character issues, that it was so focused on whether commanders had tactical ability, were good at war fighting, but maybe they weren’t paying as much attention to their ethical flaws.
GWEN IFILL: It sounds like the Pentagon is moving away from the notion that these were just all one-offs and more toward the notion that maybe there’s something systemic going on?
CRAIG WHITLOCK: Well, that’s right. They are questioning that. They don’t know the answer.
But, clearly, it isn’t just one-offs. We’re seeing a pattern again and again and again of — a lot of it is personal misconduct, integrity issues, cheating, gambling, drinking, sleeping around, and among, again, the top brass with this.
And people, there are human frailties. There’s always going to be people who engage in this kind of conduct, but it’s rare to hear so many of these cases involving high-ranking commanders.
GWEN IFILL: It’s rare and it’s disturbing.
Craig Whitlock of The Washington Post, thank you.
CRAIG WHITLOCK: Thanks for having me.
The post Will various military scandals erode public confidence in the armed forces? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
It may sound like it came out of a comic book — gaining enhanced hearing after being deprived of sight. But the phenomenon isn’t just limited to superheroes named Daredevil.
Called the Ray Charles Effect, young, blind children have been known to develop a stronger hearing ability due to their malleable minds’ ability to rewire the sensory circuits of their brain. Now, researchers at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University think that the same could apply to adults.
An NIH-funded study, published Wednesday in the science journal Neuron, shows that the brains of adult mice could be rewired after the rodents were given temporary vision loss. The mice, each having normal vision and hearing, were placed in complete darkness for six to eight days. Once returned to a normal light-dark cycle, their vision was unchanged, but the mice were now able to hear much better than before. Upon further study, the rodents’ neurons in their auditory cortex — the part of the brain devoted to hearing — had changed, firing faster and more powerfully.
The enhanced hearing did wear off after a few weeks. But the results had the research team convinced that if an adult cortex — which is fundamentally the same in most mammals — could be changed in the adult mouse, then auditory senses, among others, could be made flexible in most mammals.
“We can perhaps use this to benefit our efforts to recover a lost sense,” said associate professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University Hey-Kyoung. “By temporarily preventing vision, we may be able to engage the adult brain to change the circuit to better process sound.”
Lee believes the research could eventually lead to future treatments for hearing loss or tinnitus in humans, though the next step for the researchers is to find a way to make the sensory changes permanent.
The post Enhanced hearing in adult ‘blind’ mice provides future hope for human sensory enhancements appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
NBC and loyal viewers alike will say goodbye to a comedy legend Thursday night.
Jay Leno, host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” from 1992 to 2014 (with a brief break in 2009), will host his final show Thursday night. The celebrated comedian is handing over the reins to Jimmy Fallon, who has been hosting NBC’s “Late Night” since 2009.
NBC hopes the transition will go more smoothly than the first time the network attempted to move Jay Leno out of the 11:30 p.m. time slot. Conan O’Brien succeeded Leno in 2009, but Leno eventually returned to the “Tonight Show” after ratings dipped.
Leno and Fallon have kept any rumors of a new late night “feud” at bay, speaking graciously about each other to the press. Leno told the Los Angeles Times that he wasn’t unhappy about leaving, but did admit that he probably would have stayed on as host of “The Tonight Show” longer if Fallon had not been “in the wings.” Fallon told New York Magazine that Leno has given him his blessing, and that he has already sought out advice from the man who sat behind the “Tonight Show” desk for over two decades.
Both Leno’s “Tonight Show” and Fallon’s “Late Night” are going out on top, with Leno seeing his best overnight ratings since Conan O’Brien’s tenure, and Fallon experiencing a 17% ratings increase to date. Leno has been winning the late night ratings battle each night, trumping the “Late Show with David Letterman” on CBS and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on ABC. NBC hopes Fallon can keep up the winning streak, attract younger viewers and keep rising star Kimmel at bay.
Leno’s finale airs at 11:30 p.m. Thursday with guests Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks.
“The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” premieres on Feb. 17. Fallon’s “Late Night” successor, Seth Meyers — who ended his “Saturday Night Live” career last week — takes over on Feb. 24.
Detained for months and years without charge, women in Iraq spoke up in a Human Rights Watch report about the country’s judicial system.
The report — released Thursday — details interviews with 27 women who alleged abuse at the hands of Iraqi security forces, cross-referenced with reports from their families, lawyers and medical service providers.
Sexual abuse, beatings and electrocutions riddled the testimonies. Many said they were questioned over the activities of their male relatives rather than crimes they themselves were believed to have committed.
“The abuses of women we documented are in many ways at the heart of the current crisis in Iraq,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “These abuses have caused a deep-seated anger and lack of trust between Iraq’s diverse communities and security forces, and all Iraqis are paying the price.”
A spokesperson for Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry called the report “over-exaggerated.”
“We have some limited illegal behaviors which were practiced by security forces against women prisoners,” he said, adding that those responsible would be held accountable. “Iraq is still working to put an end to prison abuse.”
In December of 2012, a local Iraqi NGO released a report detailing abuse against female detainees. Parliamentarians called for a government investigation into the allegations, and massive street demonstrations erupted in Sunni-majority provinces to call for justice.
In January 2013 Prime Minister Nuri al-Malaki tasked Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani to negotiate with the protesters and enact reform within the criminal justice system.
But Human Rights Watch researchers say Iraq’s still-broken judicial system only adds fuel to the fire of sectarian infighting and extremism wreaking havoc on the country.
The report includes the review of a video featuring an Al-Qaeda fighter in Ramadi addressing a crowd of onlookers.
“What are we supposed to do when the army is raping our women? What are we supposed to do when they’re imprisoning our women and children?” he charged.
The report was limited to abuses against women because they “suffer a double burden” of the social stigmatization of detention, according to the group.
The post Iraqi security forces ‘abusing women,’ report says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Filmmaker Greg Whiteley speaks to chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown about the behind-the-scenes view of former Massachusetts Gov. Romney over the course of two political campaigns depicted in the documentary “Mitt.”
When Greg Whiteley first heard about a meeting the Romney family held to discuss whether Mitt Romney should run for president in 2008, Whiteley thought it sounded like the beginning of a great documentary.
Little did he know that he would end up with “Mitt,” a Netflix original documentary that provides an intimate look at the former presidential nominee and his family over the course of two campaigns.
“I found myself in situations and places where I had to pinch myself,” Whiteley told chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown during a recent Skype conversation. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I couldn’t believe that I was allowed to have a camera rolling while these things were happening.”
Whiteley’s first documentary, “New York Doll,” was nominated for the Grand Jury prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. Two years later, he began shooting “Mitt.”
Over the course of the six years it took Whiteley to make the film, the Romneys became comfortable with his presence and his camera, but he never got the access to the campaign staff that the filmmaker desired.
“I naively assumed that would mean access to the campaign staff as well … I was told in a rather pointed way that I was just not welcome … I was always frustrated that I couldn’t get more campaign stuff.”
In this scene from “Mitt,” Romney tries to write a concession speech after losing to Barack Obama in the 2012 election.
Instead of a story about campaign strategy, “Mitt” is a documentary about a candidate and his loved ones, coping with the campaign trail, the public spotlight and the unfulfilled desire to become president. These “backstage moments,” as Whiteley describes them, are a way to get to know a public figure in a whole new light.
“At the end of the day the film is probably made more unique by the fact that I was not allowed that access to the campaign staff … I believe that the film is better for it.”
“Mitt” premiered on Netflix on January 24th.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The latest attempt to restore benefits for the long-term unemployed has stalled in the Senate again. Democrats fell one vote short of the 60 needed to limit debate, as Republicans today blocked the bill for the second time this year. An estimated 1.7 million Americans have been affected since the benefits began expiring in late December.
Prospects for passing immigration legislation appeared to dim today. House Speaker John Boehner argued the root of the problem is that Congress and the country doubt President Obama would fully implement a new law, even if one did pass.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio, Speaker of the House: The president seems to change the health care law on a whim whenever he likes. Now he’s running around the country telling everyone that he’s going to keep acting on his own.
Listen, there’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws. And it’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney dismissed Boehner’s criticism. He said the president’s trustworthiness is not in question.
JAY CARNEY, White House press secretary: The president’s record on this issue bears that out. Moreover, when it comes to executive actions vs. legislation, we have been saying from the beginning that this is a question of doing both. And immigration reform is something that needs to be done through the legislature, through the Congress.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Carney said the real problem on immigration lies in the divisions within Republican ranks.
Wall Street had its best day of the year. Stocks made up nearly all the losses from earlier this week. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 188 points to close at 15,628. The Nasdaq rose 45 points to close at 4,057.
The American Heart Association today issued its first guideline for preventing strokes in women. Among other things, it’s now recommended that women check for high blood pressure before starting on oral contraceptives, and those who have high blood pressure and become pregnant should consider low-dose aspirin after the first trimester. Stroke is the third-leading cause of death among women.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the Mid-Atlantic spent a second day in the dark after a winter storm walloped the region. Most were in Pennsylvania. There, utility crews scrambled to repair power lines that snapped after ice-coated trees and limbs fell on them.
Gov. Tom Corbett declared a state of emergency and asked for patience while crews do their work.
GOV. TOM CORBETT, R-Pa.: Any time you’re working with high-voltage electricity, these men and women have to be cautious. And I would hope that the people who are without electricity will have some understanding and some patience to understand that these individuals are really risking their lives when they get up there and they’re working among those trees, particularly with that ice and snow. And it is bitter cold for them.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The governor said the situation is worse than after Superstorm Sandy, because then at least the weather was warmer.
The Olympic competition got under way today in Sochi, Russia, a day before the official opening ceremony. Slopestyle snowboarding made its Olympic debut with qualifying runs. Team figure skating events also began, along with freestyle skiing. We will take a look at the Winter Games right after this news summary. The U.N. Security Council pressed Syria today to speed up shipping its worst chemical weapons agents out of the country. Damascus missed its latest deadline yesterday, blaming security concerns and lack of needed equipment. The U.S. has accused the Assad regime of foot-dragging. The Security Council called for expedited action by Syria to meet its obligation under a U.N. agreement.
At the same time, the U.N. hailed Syria’s announcement of a deal to let civilians leave the city of Homs and let humanitarian convoys enter. Government forces have besieged the city for more than a year. Opposition activists say 2,500 people are trapped there.
In New York, a U.N. spokesman said that relief workers are ready to help as soon as possible.
FARHAN HAQ, United Nations: We welcome the report that the parties have agreed a humanitarian pause to allow civilians out of and aid into hold Homs city. The United Nations and humanitarian partners had prepositioned food, medical and other basic supplies on the outskirts of Homs ready for immediate delivery as soon as the green light was given for safe passage.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The regime said the agreement applies to — quote — “innocent civilians,” but it gave no definition of who might qualify as innocent. We will turn to the plight of Syrian children caught in the conflict later in the program.
There’s word that thousands of women have been detained illegally in Iraq. Human Rights Watch reported today that government forces seize women as part of terrorist sweeps targeting male relatives. It said the captives are subjected to torture, sexual abuse and other violence. The rights group warned — quote — “As long as security forces abuse people with impunity, we can only expect security conditions to worsen.”
In Pakistan, peace talks began between the government and Taliban insurgents. State-run TV showed negotiators at a joint news conference in Islamabad. The head of the government delegation said they have begun a journey for peace. The militants have been trying to overturn Pakistan’s elected government and establish strict Islamic rules.
The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly confirmed one of its own today, Max Baucus, to be the American ambassador in China. The Montana Democrat is 72 years old, and has been in the Senate since 1978. He currently chairs the Finance Committee. Baucus will succeed Gary Locke, who was the first Chinese-American to serve as ambassador in Beijing.
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Editor’s Note: As an 18-year-old romantic, Ingrid Steffensen fell hard for the academic life. She went on to complete a Ph.D., intending to never divorce herself from academia. But the relationship she imagined for herself – teaching and reading and writing full-time (and making a living doing it!) – wasn’t to be. Her love was unrequited.
Instructional positions in higher education are increasingly being held by adjuncts, who make an average of $2,000 to $3,000 per course. We’ve been exploring the economic realities of being an adjunct in a Making Sense series we’re calling “adjunctivitis.” Earlier in the week, we heard from Arik Greenberg, who recently briefed congressional staffers on behalf of his adjunct union. (Our broadcast segment in which Greenberg appears is slated to air Thursday on the NewsHour.) Greenberg is still at it — teaching theology part-time at Loyola Marymount University.
But Steffensen took a different course. Frustrated that she couldn’t earn a living doing what she thought was her one true love, she quit teaching. This is her story of how she found her second love. Steffensen’s book is “Fast Girl: Don’t Brake Until You See the Face of God and Other Good Advice from the Racetrack.”
–Simone Pathe, Making Sense Editor
I arrived at the University of Virginia, 18 years old and as green as you can imagine a small-town central Pennsylvania girl would be, and promptly fell in love.
The object of my affection was the charismatic professor Paul Barolsky: tall and lanky, with a wild crop of curly hair and pants that often needed hiking up because they were just a wee bit too big for him, he offered a course called “Renaissance Art and Literature” that I signed up for the moment I spotted it in the catalog.
For me, that was exactly like picking out the plumpest, juiciest ring at Tiffany’s, and I was absolutely moon-eyed about the whole experience. We read Dante’s “Inferno,” Machiavelli’s “The Prince” and Castiglione’s “The Courtier,” along with a smattering of Boccaccio and Vasari, while we looked at Botticelli and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Quartet (Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo). I listened, rapt, as professor Barolsky strode up and down the stage, ardently gesticulating and making divinest sense of this divinest of materials. So dreamy!
That’s when it first occurred to me: you can make a living doing that? I fell, and I fell hard, for this romantic Romeo of the academic life. I wanted to be just like him: I wanted to wallow in beautiful words and things, and ferret out interesting connections between them, and I wanted to be surrounded by smart, witty people, and I wanted to live and breathe the rarified air that exists in a place like the surpassingly beautiful campus designed by Thomas Jefferson.
I simply couldn’t get enough of it, so I went on for a master’s degree in literature, then a Ph.D. in art history, and I never wanted to leave the Arcadian fields of academe. I did well in the beauty pageant portion, winning a prestigious fellowship, a dissertation prize and a publisher for my work. My first gig out with my shiny new degree was as an adjunct at a highly regarded liberal arts college, and I nearly swooned with delight the first time a student referred to me — all of 27 years old at the time — as “Professor Steffensen.” Heady stuff indeed.
So I embarked on the effort to turn that lover into a husband. I entered the marriage market full of hope, thinking it was just a matter of time before one of the short-term relationships I engaged in blossomed into the long-term tenure-track job of my dreams. But, alas, what started out as an Austen novel, with the promise of marriage at the end, turned into a serial dating scenario instead.
My dates got consistently handsomer: first a community college, then a brief fling at an Ivy, then the main campus of a state school, and finally one-Seventh of the Sisters with a campus so pretty (I’m such a sucker for good looks) that I almost forgave its fickleness towards me — part-time one year, full-time the next, in an unpredictable pattern that left me in a perpetual state of anticipatory anxiety.
Would he ever get down on bended knee, offer up a ring, and make a declaration of undying devotion?
It appeared not, but I kept hanging on, waiting, hoping, thinking (delusionally): maybe this year is the year.
And then a new lover entered my life. He arrived in a most unexpected guise: wearing bright blue booties, a flame-retardant jumpsuit and a crash helmet with a mirrored visor. His name was Ike Nielson, and when he first approached my car I thought I would swoon again — not with pleasure this time, but with terror.
I found myself in the extraordinary and slightly surreal position of driving out onto a racetrack for the first time, at Watkins Glen International Raceway in upstate New York. I had married (non-metaphorically this time) a guy with an automotive obsession, and he persuaded me to try what is euphemistically termed “high performance driving” in my beloved Mini Cooper commuter car. This was far and away the most unlikely and uncharacteristic thing I had ever done in my art-and-literature-loving, sedate academic life — and I was terrified to the point of nausea.
The be-helmeted Ike, however, relieved me of my automotive maidenhead with gentlemanly courtesy, coaxing nervous and tentative me out onto the racetrack, and began the work of teaching me how to drive — in a word — fast. That first driving experience went by in a literal blur as I tried to absorb concepts I had never encountered before: how to drive the racing “line,” brake zones, apexes, track-outs — in short, all the things that are supposed to happen when you push your car to its Newtonian limits.
Full disclosure: I was awful.
Also: I hated it.
But then something funny happened on the drive home: I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and in my head, what I did played out somewhat differently from what had happened in real asphalt. In the visions I spooled out on that homeward journey I was brilliant, and the car did everything it was supposed to do, and I flew past powerful BMW M3s in my tiny little box of a car (sure, and why not throw a few whimpering Porsches into the mix?).
A new love had entered my life, and I went after it in hot pursuit. I attended as many “High Performance Driver’s Education” events as budgets and other nuisance-y real-life obligations (such as children and jobs) would allow. I was besotted.
If you are a person who is prone to metaphorical “thinkiness” (who, moi?), then the racetrack is a place just lousy with material. As I learned the basic techniques that racecar drivers use, I also thought a lot about my life. I had to learn to be more comfortable with aggression on the racetrack — and it made me see I had been kind of a doormat in real life. I was taught at the track how to keep my vision high and far — and realized I had for too long been looking with complete nearsightedness at my own path through life. And every time I drove out on the track, I had to re-conquer the fear that felt like it would swallow me whole and spit me out into the very depths of Dante’s nine-level version of Hell.
Hey, I thought, maybe I am stronger and braver than I thought I was?
And maybe, just maybe, there is more to me, and to life, than the single-minded pursuit of a career that declines to return the favor.
If not teaching, then what? The answer came in the form of a professor friend of mine who had indulgently listened to me blather on and on about what had been happening at the racetrack. Hoping to support me in my quest to find a path other than the academic one — and perhaps hoping to spare himself the endless greasy details — he said to me: “I think there’s a book in that.”
A year into my adventures in racecar driving, I was a different person from the scared ninny I was when I had begun. I was now someone willing to try something completely outside my comfort zone, to venture to assert myself as an author with a subject of my very own. For a revelatory change, it was my life that was interesting, not someone else’s.
I wrote my book “Fast Girl: Don’t Brake Until You See the Face of God and Other Good Advice from the Racetrack” at an accelerated pace suited to my new hobby, and in it I explored the liberating (and often hilarious) journey I had inadvertently embarked upon. My new high-octane bravery fueled me through the fearsome labyrinth of trade publishing — agent, editor, publicist — and even impelled me to elbow my way to a review in the New York Times.
The subject of “Fast Girl” was not really cars and racing per se, but the discovery of a new self who, as a by-product, had suddenly become bored with the endless and unfulfilling pursuit of a tenure-track position in academia. I have not fallen out of love with the art and architecture that I have taught in the classroom (I still carry the torch for you, Mr. Barolsky, though I’m a little wistful about the taming of your wonderful, electric hair), nor have I any less regard for the educational mission itself.
But I did decide it was time for a trial separation from the love I had pursued for so long, as I sought to explore the possibility that I might actually become an artist in my own right, not someone who only reports on the historic accomplishments of others.
I realized, too, that I had become psychically stunted by the endless quest for validation that the eternal adjunct is forced to embark upon. With a well-paid spouse working in business, my stints as an adjunct seemed by comparison like a charming hobby — the needlepoint of an Austen heroine or the charity work of a Kardashian. Yes, I believed in the academic mission, but in the early years of my daughter’s life, I was really only covering childcare, which meant that the return on labor made my work essentially charity work.
There are many different kinds of value, to be sure. My students were gratifyingly enthusiastic about my work, and there were always waitlists for my classes. I knew that what I was doing was ultimately for the betterment of humanity: beauty and enlightenment are to an extent their own reward. But doing highly skilled work and being paid a living wage for it suddenly didn’t seem like too much to ask.
How’s that trial separation going? My new loves — driving and writing — aren’t exactly generating the kind of financial independence I would ultimately like to achieve. The first, in fact, is a financial black hole that only the Danica Patricks of the world can fill with greenbacks.
The second is as elusive a commitment-phobe as academe: I seem to have a thing for unattainable ideals. I’m at work on several different manuscripts (one about life as a dog) that have yet to find their own match made in publishing heaven. But I am, at least, in charge of my own success, and if I am not going to get paid a lot, I may as well do something that sates my new hunger for adventure and the perils and delights of the open road.
Gimme my helmet, a fast car and a tank of gas — and I’m off for a romantic rendezvous fit for the heroine of my own life’s story.
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GWEN IFILL: The buildup to the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, has been fraught with tension, some fear and no small amount of debate. But Russian organizers, as well as the athletes competing, have a lot riding on the outcome.
The pageantry neared its peak in Sochi today, as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and other leaders carried the Olympic torch on a final tour. After weeks of being overshadowed by reports on Russia’s human rights record, unfinished hotels, and security worries, the Winter Games are finally set to begin — the latest, warnings from U.S. officials that terrorists could try to smuggle explosives in toothpaste tubes on flights bound for Russia.
The Russian deputy prime minister offered no details on that, today except to say this:DMITRY KOZAK, Deputy Prime Minister, Russia (through interpreter): We can guarantee security in the same way as any other government nowadays does when conducting any public event in a place where a lot of people are. We can give such a guarantee as much as we can.
GWEN IFILL: But the spotlight has already begun shifting to the competition at hand, with preliminaries today in skating, skiing and a new snowboarding event, slopestyle.
American star Shaun White pulled out of that competition yesterday, saying he was concerned about the course’s safety. Instead, he will focus on winning a third straight gold medal in the half-pipe.
SHAUN WHITE, U.S. Olympic Snowboarder: For me, I have got a list of tricks I would like to do. Usually, that list narrows down once you see the competition, and once you see the pipe, and what the conditions are like. And there’s a lot of variables, but I am hoping to take some of that training that I have had and put it to good use.
GWEN IFILL: White is one of many high-profile Olympic veterans competing for Team USA in Sochi.
BODE MILLER, U.S. Olympic Skier: You know, I think I am in a much better spot this year than I was in 2010.
GWEN IFILL: Thirty-six-year-old downhill skier Bode Miller returns for his fifth Olympics, hoping to add to his five-medal collection. And ice dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis seek to improve on their finish in Vancouver four years ago.
CHARLIE WHITE, U.S. Olympic Ice Dancer: Well, the name of the game for us is just to go out there and do what we do in practice. And if we can do that, we will be really proud. You know, we got the silver in the 2010 Games, and, this time, we’re definitely looking to come away with the gold medal.
GWEN IFILL: There are new faces in these Olympics too, including 22-year-old figure skater Ashley Wagner. Two-time summer Olympian and hurdler Lolo Jones makes her first Winter Games appearance, now as a member of the U.S. bobsled team. And the U.S. hockey team once again harbors hopes of winning gold.
The opening ceremonies are tomorrow night.
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GWEN IFILL: In a late development today on the security issue, Delta Air Lines says the Transportation Security Administration has now banned all liquids from carry-on luggage on flights bound for Russia.
This afternoon, I spoke with Steve Wilson of the Associated Press about what’s happening on the ground in Sochi. He’s covering his 14th Olympics.
Steve Wilson, thanks so much for joining us.
It seems that there’s a big question about readiness for the Games and for overall security. Let’s start with the security piece. What are you hearing about how secure people feel on the ground in Sochi?STEVE WILSON, Associated Press: Well, I think people have heard all about the security measure, which seem to be the most stringent security measures we have ever had at any Olympic Games.
We have got maybe 40,000 Russian security forces in place. There’s warships in the Black Sea. There’s U.S. warships also nearby. So there’s a sense — there was a bit of a sense of foreboding coming to these Games. But now that it’s about to start, people are on the ground, they’re at work, and they’re ready for the Games to start tomorrow, still on edge, but hoping for the best.
GWEN IFILL: Well, let’s talk about the Games particularly. I’m curious about how the venues look and how the athletes seem.
STEVE WILSON: Well, these Games are particular in that it’s been — everything’s been built from scratch, literally, in the past seven years.
So these venues are brand-new. They’re sparkling. They’re gleaming. I think the athletes seem to like them. The competitions have already started a little bit today from qualifying. And it looked great on TV. The weather was good. So, for all the money they have spent on the venues, it seems to be well spent.
It’s perhaps some of the things around the venues, outside the venues which are a little bit worrying in terms of preparation. There’s certainly a sense of last-minute preparations still going on, hotels which aren’t quite ready, rooms which are — have things falling from the ceiling, stray dogs here and there, wet paint. So there’s a bit of a feel of, let’s get this thing together at the last minute.
GWEN IFILL: So let’s move on to the Games. Who are you watching for? There are some familiar names. There are some unfamiliar names. I would like to start with Shaun White.
STEVE WILSON: Well, yes, Shaun White is maybe the biggest name of all in terms of rock star, celebrity status here.
And it was disappointment, of course, that he had to pull out of one of the events, which was slopestyle, which is a new event which he was hoping to medal in. He decided to withdraw from that. He is concentrating on his preferred event in the half-pipe, which he’s most famous for. Of course, he’s won two gold medals already in that. So he will be going for a third gold medal. So all eyes are definitely on Shaun White up there.
GWEN IFILL: In hockey, another game we watch closely during the Olympics, what do the U.S.’ chances look like?
STEVE WILSON: Well, hockey will be one of the featured sports here for sure, one reason being that it’s almost a national sport here in Russia.
And if there’s one competition, one gold medal that the host country wants the most, it’s in hockey. And they have had some disappointments in the sport. In Vancouver four years ago, they failed to even win a medal. But now that they’re playing at home, they have got their star players.
Alex Ovechkin from the Washington Capitals is going to be their top player. So look for Russia to make a big move. Then again, of course, you will always have the U.S., you will have Canada. It should be between those three teams.
GWEN IFILL: And some of the NHL players, like you mentioned, Alex Ovechkin, are in fact playing for other countries.
STEVE WILSON: Absolutely.
You know, NHL shuts down their season in order for their players to come to the Olympics. And there’s so many international players in the NHL that they’re spread out from Sweden, to Finland, to Russia, to U.S., to Canada. It’s really one of the most international events there is. And they are all professionals and household names in their countries.
GWEN IFILL: As we’re watching skiing, who are you looking at? We know some of the names, like Bode Miller.
STEVE WILSON: Well, of course, the biggest name of all is Lindsey Vonn. She’s not here. She had to withdrawn. She didn’t recover from her knee injury, from her knee surgery. And that was a big blow to the U.S. team and also probably to the TV networks who are broadcasting here.
But there’s still some skiers to watch from the American side. You have got Bode Miller going in the downhill. Of course, he’s won five Olympic medals already in his career. He’s back here after missing all of last season after a knee surgery. And he’s showing strong signs that he’s back. So you have got give him a shot in the men’s downhill coming up.
Otherwise, on the men — on the women’s side, you have got an 18-year-old superstar, Mikaela Shiffrin, who’s already the best in the world in her events, which is the slalom. So look for a gold medal for her in the — on the U.S. side.
GWEN IFILL: There are new events in this Olympics that we haven’t seen before.
STEVE WILSON: Yes. In fact, there’s 12 new medal events this time, 98 medal events in total.
And I would say perhaps the event which might get the most attention is women’s ski jumping, because we have never had women’s ski jumping in the Olympics before. They had a long battle to get in. They were refused entry four years ago in Vancouver. They even went to court to try to get in the Games. It failed.
But they have since been admitted to the Olympics. And that will be one of the premier events. And the U.S. has a star at fleet that, Sarah Hendrickson. She’s the world champion in the event. She’s coming off, however, surgery, knee surgery she had in the last few months with knee ligaments. So there’s question marks about whether she’s in good shape or not.
But — and there’s a 17-year-old ski jumper, women’s ski jumper from Japan who’s a household name back in Japan, and it should be a good battle.
Other new sports to watch, we have got slopestyle, both in the snowboarding and in freestyle skiing. It’s a fantastic event to watch, huge jumps, tricks, rails. It’s an X Games event. It’s meant to draw in newer, younger viewers. And I think we will see a lot of excitement in the that.
GWEN IFILL: I know we can’t wait for the Olympic Games to begin.
Steve Wilson, European sports editor for the AP, in Sochi, thanks a lot.
STEVE WILSON: My pleasure.
BERLIN — Just east of the old dividing line between East and West Berlin, in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate, lies Pariser Platz in what is now one of the toniest parts of the new Berlin. On its south — the huge new American Embassy, with its rooftop terrace views of the Reichstag and the German Chancellery, which opened with much fanfare in 2008. Directly across from it — the offices of a magazine whose revelations of NSA surveillance have generated more heartburn in the U.S.-German relationship than anything since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The magazine is Der Spiegel, known for investigative journalism since its founding after World War II. Beginning last June, with access to documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, a team of Der Spiegel writers and editors has unleashed a steady stream of deeply reported stories about NSA surveillance of German and European institutions, officials and citizens.
Then in October, came two blockbusters: that the NSA was monitoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ever-present cell phone, and days later, that U.S. spying on German government entities and officials emanated from “the NSA’s secret spy hub in Berlin” atop the U.S. embassy.
Merkel responded angrily, publicly comparing it to decades of spying by East Germany’s hated Stasi secret police, and calling President Obama to demand an explanation.
Although Berlin has been a hotbed of espionage for decades, the locale for dozens of spy novels and movies – “Torn Curtain,” “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” “The Bourne Identity” and “The Lives of Others” — the German public was shocked by the surveillance of their Chancellor’s cell phone.
There’s been serious economic and diplomatic fallout too — calls in Germany to restrict U.S. internet company operations there and demands by the Merkel government for a no-spy understanding between the two longtime allies.The Der Spiegel writers who’ve continued to break these stories haven’t said much publicly, preferring to let their work speak for itself. But on our last reporting day in Berlin last week, as darkness fell in the Platz, we went to the magazine’s offices to speak with two of the team’s lead journalists: 43-year-old Holger Stark and 41-year-old Marcel Rosenbach. Both have spent their careers reporting on national security, intelligence, terrorism and the internet, among other topics.
Investigative journalists can be a zealous lot, so I half-expected to find that quality in Rosenbach and Stark. After all, Der Spiegel’s editorial board is now campaigning to have Edward Snowden granted asylum in Germany.
Instead I found two journalists who appear to have thought deeply about what they’re doing. They said they wrestle constantly with how to walk the fine line between generating an informed debate about how much surveillance is acceptable in a free society, and not endangering NSA methods that they know have thwarted terrorist attacks aimed at the US, and its German and European allies.
Rosenbach and Stark described the meticulous process they use to understand what’s really contained in a Snowden document, consulting former U.S. intelligence officials, experts in Congress and other U.S. agencies, tech wizards at internet giants like Google, former hackers, and the NSA itself. In fact, they said, before publishing any story, they run the gist of it by NSA headquarters at Fort Meade and invite comment, correction and NSA requests to not report some aspects at all.
Just last week, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper again decried the “profound damage” inflicted by the Snowden disclosures. “Terrorists and other adversaries of this country are going to school on U.S. intelligence sources, methods and trade craft and the insights they are gaining are making our job much, much harder,” he said.
In reply, Stark and Rosenbach say they take special care not to jeopardize — in their view — valuable intelligence procedures or operations in their reporting. “The question if we compromised legitimate intelligence methods is one that we have asked ourselves many times,” said Stark. “If you go through the reporting that we did you won’t find anything that is related to counterterrorism because we see the approach of the security and authorities to try to disrupt possible plots as a legitimate point.” They try to focus on where they see “the core values of a public democracy” in danger, he said, as in “if people fear that their smart phone is under surveillance … they can’t speak freely anymore.”
But it remains an open question; can the public be given enough information to debate the trade-off between privacy and security, without jeopardizing critical intelligence capabilities? That’s an issue that in this digital age affects U.S. all.
JUDY WOODRUFF: This week, the United Nations released a report on children and the Syria conflict. It found that the Syrian government is responsible for thousands of deaths, and charged that it put children as young as 11 in prisons where they suffered — quote — “beatings with metal cables, sexual violence and mock executions.”
It also accuses armed opposition groups of summary executions of children.
Joining me now is one of the authors of the report. She is Leila Zerrougui, the U.N. special representative of the secretary-general for children and armed conflict.
And we thank you for speaking with us.
Ms. Zerrougui, you describe in this report unspeakable violence against these children. What were some of the main findings?
LEILA ZERROUGUI, U.N. Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict: We were documenting — gathering information and documenting abuses committed against children since the beginning of this war.And we — as you know today, we are talking about 10,000 at least of children who have been killed. Thousands have been injured. More than a million is either displaced or fled in neighboring countries. And 70 percent of the children are not anymore going to school, and it’s the third year. Their schools have been looted, have been destroyed, used militarily.
They don’t have access to the basic health care. They don’t have access to even food. They saw their family killed. They are forced to take part in this conflict and to be recruited and used in military and other support function. And, from the other side, they are arrested, detained because of their effective or perceived association with armed groups.
So this is what we are saying, and this is what it is happening. This is what I saw myself in my two visits in Syria. And this is just not only unspeakable. It is unacceptable.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And did you find — what did you find were the differences between what the government, the Syrian government has done in the way it’s treated children, and the opposition groups?
LEILA ZERROUGUI: I think, at the beginning, as we mentioned in the report, the government was confronted to self-defense militia, and more civilian opposition, but with the access from the opposition to heavy weaponry.
So it’s become more and more a war between two parties and taking — this happening in the middle of cities, in area where — populated area. And the consequences for children is just unbearable, because the number of killed and injured is very high in this brutal war.
But if we can — what we are reporting is that government is, of course, using aerial bombardments, a lot in populated area. A lot of children have been killed and maimed, and also, as we mentioned, the detention of children and the ill treatment in detention.
But we also receive information on opposition groups, because with all these factions now operating in different areas, also, they are detaining the children, and they are — but most important when you talk about the opposition is the recruitment and use of children in this conflict.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How confident are you in your findings? We’re already hearing of denials, especially from the Syrian government, the Syrian regime. How much evidence were you able to get to back this up?
LEILA ZERROUGUI: As I said, we were gathering information from the beginning. We were documenting. I visit twice the country, Syria, and neighboring country. We are in contact with both sides.
I met with people that are — have been affected by this war that are directly victim, children, but were, for example, detained and released, and they report on what happened to them. They report on what — others still in detention. I spoke with parents that their children have been either killed or have been detained or disappeared.
I also spoke with children that have been associated with armed groups, fighting alongside with them. I met with those who left — who lost arms or legs. So, if we gather ourselves information and we also go through triangulation of information coming through our partners on the ground, we consider — we consider that what we were — you see in our report, that some information are confirmed and verified, or they are reported, and we are asking the government side and opposition to allow us to get access.
If they contest something, we would like to get the access and to verify with them. But there’s no doubt that violation is ongoing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just finally, let me ask you, is the intention — do you really — is it your hope that the two sides would change their — the kind of violence that they have been guilty of, or is this more a matter of documenting this for some sort of future accountability that these two sides will be held against?
LEILA ZERROUGUI: I think that the documentation is important, because those who are committing atrocities on both sides need to be held accountable one day. So it’s important.
The documentation is also necessary because people — because it’s the only way that you can engage with parties and bring the evidence to act — to let them act on that. It is also important because we have to push — it is my duty to continue to do what I am doing. I will not stop, and I will not give up, because it’s my responsibility.
And it’s only — it’s also the only way to see to put the pressure, not only on those who are fighting, but those who can make a difference because they are supporting them. We have to continue to reach to all parties. It’s the only way to stop this brutal war that is affecting children.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it is a disturbing report. And we appreciate your talking with us, Leila Zerrougui, who has, along with others, authored a report on violence against children in the Syrian war.
We thank you.
LEILA ZERROUGUI: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In next week’s “Frontline” on PBS, “Syria’s Second War,” gets inside the battle lines in the country’s northern fight, where al-Qaida-linked factions have joined the fight. That’s Tuesday on your PBS station.
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GWEN IFILL: Now a look at a growing trend at colleges and universities across the country, which increasingly rely on part-time adjunct instructors, and the financial struggles these professors face.
NewsHour economics correspondent Paul Solman has the story. It’s part of his ongoing reporting Making Sense of financial news.
PAUL SOLMAN: Life in academia turns out to be different than what French professor and single mother Nicole Beth Wallenbrock had in mind.NICOLE BETH WALLENBROCK, Adjunct Professor: I have been on food stamps for, I think, about six months.
PAUL SOLMAN: Arik Greenberg teaches theology at Loyola Marymount University.
ARIK GREENBERG, Adjunct Professor: We are not given any kind of benefits, no medical, no dental, no vision, no retirements, no family leave, no sick leave, nothing.
PAUL SOLMAN: To support his family, Rob Balla drives to three different Ohio universities to teach six English classes and tutors on the side. He had pneumonia last fall, worked anyway.
ROB BALLA, Adjunct Professor: We go to school under any circumstances, really, because you can’t afford to have your pay docked.
PAUL SOLMAN: These are adjuncts, part-time professors paid an average of $2,000 to $3,000 per class with few to no benefits who now make up half of college faculties, a drastic change from just a few decades ago.
ADRIANNA KEZAR, University of Southern California: In 1970, about 80 percent of the faculty were on the tenure track.
PAUL SOLMAN: But non-tenured faculty have become the rule, says education professor Adrianna Kezar.
ADRIANNA KEZAR: This trajectory started in community colleges. It spread across four-year institutions and research universities, and it’s public and private.
PAUL SOLMAN: Nicole Beth Wallenbrock got a Ph.D. in French lit to become a full-time professor anywhere.
NICOLE BETH WALLENBROCK: I had this idea that I could get a job so that I could have a good income to support my son, and it didn’t work out that way.
PAUL SOLMAN: Since graduating in 2012, she’s worked part-time and is now teaching just two courses at the City University of New York, making $2,800 a class, though she’s more highly-rated than almost all of her peers.
She’s moved to the cheapest place she could find on the outskirts of the city, a three-hour-a-day commute. But she can’t make it without public assistance and help from her family.
NICOLE BETH WALLENBROCK: I’m a precarious worker. I have no job security. So I have to accept whatever I can get. It’s depressing. It makes me feel like a failure in a lot of ways.
ARIK GREENBERG: It has gone in the direction of big business, of hiring more and more part-timers to do the work of full-timers.
PAUL SOLMAN: Arik Greenberg has been an adjunct for more than a decade. He brings in $20,000 a year.
ARIK GREENBERG: If I’m not teaching during the summer, I go on unemployment. It keeps us going for a while. It puts food on the table.
PAUL SOLMAN: And you have now met barely a handful few examples of what might be called the adjunctivitis epidemic, adding these part-timers, who are half of all faculty, to full-time professors without tenure and much lower pay. More than 70 percent of America’s college teachers are so-called contingent.
Many are unavailable to their myriad students, given their necessarily shorter office hours, says longtime adjunct Joe Fruscione, less energy in the classroom, fewer comments when grading papers or tests.
JOE FRUSCIONE, Adjunct Professor: You can race through them, but to give meaningful, concrete, detailed feedback that a lot of these students need, it’s virtually impossible.
PAUL SOLMAN: But are students really getting short shrift?
Terry Hartle is with the American Council on Education.
TERRY HARTLE, American Council on Education: In some disciplines, particularly occupationally-oriented fields, you may be ahead by having an adjunct faculty member who’s got extraordinary levels of real-world experience.
PAUL SOLMAN: But don’t adjuncts teach in all disciplines? Look, says Hartle, bottom line, schools have no choice.
TERRY HARTLE: The pressures on colleges and universities to maintain tuition, to prevent tuition hikes are extraordinarily high.
Does the use of contingent faculty like adjuncts provide more flexibility to colleges and universities as economic enterprises that need to stay in business? Yes, it certainly does that.
PAUL SOLMAN: Would you be happy if your members were paying a little more to adjuncts?
TERRY HARTLE: Nobody forces someone to become an adjunct. It is a very difficult way to make a full-time living.
PAUL SOLMAN: Peter Brown, professor emeritus at the State University of New York, New Paltz, believes colleges are exploiting adjuncts so they can spend more on non-academic niceties.
PETER BROWN, State University of New York, New Paltz: A lot of money is spent not just on coaches, on athletics, on stadiums, on fancy facilities, on climbing walls. The tuition dollars ought to go towards the instruction in the classroom, and not what happens outside.
PROTESTER: What’s outrageous?
PROTESTERS: Adjunct wages!
PAUL SOLMAN: Students and faculty across the country are now rallying for higher adjunct pay and the right to unionize.
PETER BROWN: Adjuncts are the lowest paid people on campus. They get paid less than the folks who come in at night to clean the classrooms.
PAUL SOLMAN: Brown is campaigning to up adjunct compensation at New Paltz, where the average part-timer makes just $12,000 a year.
PETER BROWN: On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who make hundreds of thousands of dollars as provosts, as presidents, as chancellors. And between 1970 and 2008, the adjunct pay has gone down 49 percent. The salary of college presidents has gone up 35 percent.
PAUL SOLMAN: Brown and others throughout academia were galvanized by the death last fall of 83-year-old Duquesne University adjunct Margaret Mary Vojtko.
PETER BROWN: She had been teaching there for over 20 years and getting good evaluations. She was suddenly non-renewed. She was impoverished and basically died so poor that she had to be buried in a cardboard box.
PAUL SOLMAN: Duquesne’s response? They tried to help with shelter and other assistance in the months before her death.
But if poverty is what half of college faculty might be facing, why do schools continue to offer graduate degrees to the likes of Nicole Beth Wallenbrock?
NICOLE BETH WALLENBROCK: They keep accepting more and more Ph.D. students at American universities because they need to keep their own classes full.
PAUL SOLMAN: I put the question to college spokesman Terry Hartle.
Are universities arguably being irresponsible by turning out as many Ph.D.s into a job market where some people wind up going on food stamps?
TERRY HARTLE: People who get Ph.D.s owe it to themselves to think long and hard about the labor market that they’re entering.
PAUL SOLMAN: Former George Washington University president Stephen Trachtenberg goes further.
STEPHEN TRACHTENBERG, President Emeritus, The George Washington University: I have counseled adjunct faculty at some point, if they are not earning enough to support themselves, to not do that and go do something else with their lives. Merely because you have earned a Ph.D. doesn’t oblige you to take on a life of penury.
PAUL SOLMAN: Though he wasn’t personally counseled by Trachtenberg, adjunct Joe Fruscione is taking that advice, after 14 years teaching English at George Washington and elsewhere.
JOE FRUSCIONE: All of the experience I have gained hasn’t gotten me and won’t get me any kind of meaningful tenure track position. I have decided that my way of fixing all that is leaving the system.
PAUL SOLMAN: Entirely?
JOE FRUSCIONE: Entirely. Yes, I’m going to be doing some freelance editing and writing.
PAUL SOLMAN: We first met Fruscione last year while reporting on the graying work force in academia. He was working part-time jobs at multiple schools and leading workshops at a bookstore on the side. Since then, he’s lost one of the college gigs and says he’s had enough.
JOE FRUSCIONE: I am very, very fortunate that my wife is the breadwinner.
PAUL SOLMAN: Nicole Beth Wallenbrock says she can’t give up teaching and doesn’t want to.
NICOLE BETH WALLENBROCK: I don’t know what other place in society there is for me. I love teaching and I love researching and writing, so I haven’t given up on this dream yet.
PAUL SOLMAN: And considering all the resources she and our society have put into her education, there’s arguably an economic reason to keep on dreaming.
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Airlines have been warned to stay on the look out for explosives that terrorists might use on the eve of the Winter Olympics opening ceremonies.
On Thursday, the Transportation Security Administration temporarily banned liquids, gels and aerosols aboard any flight between the U.S. and Russia. The ban came one day after a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) bulletin that warned airlines to be on alert for explosive materials hidden in toothpaste tubes.
The word of warning comes on the eve of the opening ceremonies with concerns that terrorists may smuggle explosives on board and into the Olympic site. Currently, the only group to openly threaten an attack on the games is the Caucasus Emirate — a loose network of Islamists operating in southern Russia with suspected ties to al-Qaida. Other Chenchen extremist groups have come forward pledging revenge for attacks against Muslims in Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria.
The safety of hosting the games in and around southern Russia has been put into question by members of Congress after reports of “Black widow” terrorists and in the wake of a suicide bombing in December that killed 34 people at a train station about 400 miles north of Sochi.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY), a member of the Homeland Security Committee in the House of Representatives, raised eyebrows when he encouraged Americans not to visit the games in Sochi because the risk of an attack.
“Just as a spectator, I don’t think it’s worth the risk,” he told CNN. “Odds are nothing is going to happen, but the odds are higher than for any other Olympics.”
Thursday afternoon, Calif. Sen. Diane Feinstein — chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence committee — told CNN that she read reports from intelligence agencies and urged Americans visiting Sochi to keep up their guard.
“People going to the Olympics should be careful. I think they should watch their backs, I think they should stay out of crowds if they can. If I had a son or daughter performing in the Olympics, I would go. Now that I don’t, I probably would not,” said Feinstein.
U.S. warships have entered the Black Sea ahead of the games, in case of an attack.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: A longtime fixture and ratings champion of late-night television prepares to say goodbye, as the network aims to expand its audience in an increasingly fragmented market of viewers.
Hari Sreenivasan looks at the thinking behind the move.
HARI SREENIVASAN: After 22 years of hosting “The Tonight Show,” Jay Leno is packing it in after one last program tonight.
The 63-year-old comedian began his run as host in 1992, when Johnny Carson retired after 30 years on the job.
MAN: Jay Leno!
HARI SREENIVASAN: In 2009, NBC briefly moved Leno to a 10:00 p.m. time slot…
MAN: It’s “The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien.”HARI SREENIVASAN: … and tapped Conan O’Brien to replace him on The Tonight Show, but the ratings did poorly, and Leno returned to his late-night gig.
CONAN O’BRIEN, “Conan”: HBO, when you make the movie about this whole NBC late-night fiasco…
CONAN O’BRIEN: … I would like to be played by Academy Award-winning actress Tilda Swinton.
HARI SREENIVASAN: This time, Leno is leaving for good, and says he will play comedy clubs and do occasional TV work, replacing him, Jimmy Fallon, who’s hosted “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” since 2009. He and his hip-hop studio band The Roots promise to bring a younger, hipper air to the venerable “Tonight Show.”
Fallon formally takes over on February 17.
We’re joined now by Bill Carter from The New York Times, who’s written extensively about late-night television.
So, Bill, why is this transition so important?
BILL CARTER, The New York Times: Well, the changeover at “The Tonight Show” has always been kind of a national event.
I think this one is being watched really closely because the last one went so badly. And it is a generational shift. It is a true generational shift, like Carson to Leno, in that Leno could be Jimmy Fallon’s father. He’s 24 years older and clearly has had a long run. And Fallon has been designated as heir, and it’s getting a lot of attention because of that.
HARI SREENIVASAN: NBC has tried a younger host before, as you mentioned. Why is Jimmy Fallon different?
BILL CARTER: Well, I think they feel that Fallon is a broader performer, more of a variety-style entertainer.
He does have, I think, sort of a boyish appeal that they like. And he’s been on “Saturday Night Live.” He’s had a lot of experience with other forms of comedy. They like that idea that the show will change up a little bit from being sort of a stand-up-centric to much more of a sketch performer.
And I just — they feel like this guy is very, very likable, and they’re sort of putting all their chips on him based on his success so far.
HARI SREENIVASAN: How relevant is late-night television? How much does it matter to advertisers?
BILL CARTER: Well, it’s certainly not as lucrative as it used to be.
And part of the reason far is that the landscape is packed with these shows. There’s so many of them. If there’s only two of them, you would probably still see kind of really bigger ratings and much better advertising revenue.
I think the advertisers like the fact that the guy is on five nights a week. There’s a lot of airtime. And if you get a host that people really decide they like and they tune into regularly, it’s a pretty steady audience. And the shows are not particularly expensive. The hosts tend to be very well paid.
But, you know, for five hours of television, this is not an expensive format. However, I do think it is critical that they reach a certain amount of viewers, or if they go below it, then the show starts to fall into the red. And nobody needs that.
I think this is going to be a very interesting test. They need Fallon to broaden the younger audience and keep a good chunk of Leno’s older audience, and then they will be fine.
HARI SREENIVASAN: NBC has had a rough go of it, so how important is this show to their business?
BILL CARTER: Well, I think it’s more important to NBC’s image than it is to their business.
Comcast is an enormous organization that owns NBC. And they have fantastic profit centers on cable. But “The Tonight Show” is an institution. It’s an American cultural institution. And for NBC, it’s an enormously important part of their history and their portfolio, like “The Today Show” and “Saturday Night Live.” Those are franchises that nobody else has. NBC really wants to keep them alive and going.
It’s not — it’s going to be very difficult going forward in the future, because a lot of the time people are going to watch these guys on video, not necessarily on television. But, for NBC, the idea of “The Tonight Show” is still a very big part of their portfolio.
HARI SREENIVASAN: When a viewer looks at this genre from the outside, it’s still three guys doing pretty much the same thing. How different is this program likely to be?
BILL CARTER: Well, the basic structure doesn’t change, I think, because each time one of the hosts have tried to change it, it has failed.
So it always starts with a monologue. It always has a desk. It always has a couch. Beyond that, I think what you are going to see different from Fallon is way more variety and sketch and music-oriented material, because that’s what he’s great at. He’s an impressionist.
And he does bits with Springsteen, with music. I think he’s more an entertainer than a comic. And I think so the style of the show will be, I think, fundamentally changed from what you have seen with Jay Leno all these years.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, there are rumors out there that Jay Leno might go elsewhere. What are you hearing from your reporting?
BILL CARTER: Well, I — a lot of people are speculating about Jay, but Jay has kept his fire down.
I think he will wait until his contract is up, which is September. Then he will take calls. But he is going to be careful. I don’t think he wants to jump into something where it would really look like it’s a lame version of “The Tonight Show.”
Somebody will call him, though, because he’s been a winner. And winners always get calls. So I think he will probably turn up on television or perhaps the Internet, if he decides that there’s a format, like Seinfeld came up with a great format for him. He will do something because Jay likes to tell jokes every day. He loves that. And I think he will continue to do that as long as he finds the right forum.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Bill Carter from The New York Times, thanks so much.
BILL CARTER: OK.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Senate Democrats face a tough map in this November’s midterm elections, having to defend 21 seats, compared to 14 for Republicans.
Among the top targets for Republicans are seven seats currently held by Democrats in states that Mitt Romney won in 2012: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Democrats, meanwhile, view Kentucky and Georgia as their best pickup opportunities.
As the two parties stockpile resources for the fall campaign, outside groups have already begun spending massive sums of money. In fact, Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, has spent $27 million on ads just since August.
We examine the role that this money could play in shaping the battle for the Senate with Matea Gold. She reports on money and politics for The Washington Post.
Welcome again to the program.
MATEA GOLD, The Washington Post: Great to be here, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Matea, political fund raising has gotten so complex, I think many people don’t realize how many different ways money can flow into a campaign. Just remind us what those are.
MATEA GOLD: Sure.
I mean, at the heart of it, you have always had your candidate committees. So candidates who are running for reelection, they raise money into their reelection committees. And then you have the party committee.
But post-Citizen United — and we’re now in our third cycle.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Supreme Court ruling.
MATEA GOLD: The Supreme Court ruling which allowed corporations to spend directly on politics and ushered in some other changes as well, we now have a real explosion of activity outside those traditional structures.
So there’s been a creation of something called super PACs, which most people now have heard about, which are also political committees, but they can take in unlimited sums of money. And now we have tax-exempt groups, 501(c)(4) organizations that are set up under a section of the tax code as social welfare organizations that are permitted to do some political activity that are increasingly engaging in campaigns.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And your — some of your reporting is focusing on these particular groups, because, as we were just saying, they are raising extraordinary amounts of money. What are you finding?
MATEA GOLD: They really are.
And I think what we’re seeing is kind of an acceleration of the trends that we saw through the last two elections, which is that the money is increasingly flowing to the unregulated, undisclosed organizations outside the traditional structure. So tax-exempt groups like Americans for Prosperity are taking on really an outsized role.
And what’s so striking about their spending is not just the amount, but how early we’re seeing them jump in and trying to define the landscape for these midterms.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, by the way, this may be taking money away — we’re not sure yet completely — from these other groups that were trying to raise money.
MATEA GOLD: Yes, we’re not quite sure how it will all play out in the end.
One thing that’s been striking is some of the really big conservative super PACs from 2012, such as American Crossroads, have had really paltry fund-raising so far this year. There’s definitely a sense among conservative donors that I think they’re watching where they give their money, because so much was spent in 2012, and they obviously didn’t achieve their aims.
But (c)(4) groups seem to be very healthy, and as well as kind of candidate-based super PACs. We’re increasingly seeing specific race-based PACs set up in the states, and everyone has their own super PAC now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And just remind us again, where is this falling on the political spectrum? The nonprofit groups you have been focused on in this latest story are pretty much on the right end of the spectrum, right?
MATEA GOLD: Well, there’s no question that the most robust spending by (c)(4)s is on the right end of the spectrum. Conservatives use those vehicles more than on the left.
But we do see the same — that kind of spending on the left as well. And what’s been interesting this cycle is the Democratic super PACs that were really struggling to match the fund-raising with the Republican counterparts last time are seeing very healthy fund-raising. And Democrats seem very willing to give to these groups right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So you have been talking to a lot of people and doing your reporting. What are they saying about why they’re doing it so early? Why this much money this early?
MATEA GOLD: Well, one of the lessons from 2012, I think, was the traditional kind of flood of spending we see in the fall right before Election Day, that’s too late now. People are so bombarded with messages that you need to reach voters increasingly early to really get your point across.
And now that means the fall before. So I think one of the risks is that a lot of voters are going to start tuning out these ads way before they make up their mind about who they are going to vote for.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But it’s interesting that it’s happening before even — in all these cases, before the primaries and before one even knows who the candidate is going to be.
MATEA GOLD: Right, for sure.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So what’s their thinking in doing it before it’s known who the contestants are going to be?
MATEA GOLD: Well, each group has different motivations.
What’s interesting is Americans for Prosperity has been really focused just on hitting vulnerable Democrats, particularly incumbent Democrats that are really facing tough reelections in the fall. They’re not engaging in primary fights. And they really are kind of softening them up before some of the Republican candidates are even selected in the primaries.
And then, meanwhile, a lot of the money being spent on the right is actually being spent by conservative groups vs. establishment Republican groups that are really fighting over the direction of the party. So we’re seeing money really kind of underscore these fissures all across the political spectrum.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, working at cross-purposes with the messages they’re sending.
MATEA GOLD: Exactly.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you found, though, a common theme in some of these ads that are being aired.
MATEA GOLD: Sure.
Well, I mean, Americans for Prosperity is really just hitting Democrats on Obamacare, their support for the president’s signature health care legislation. I think another lesson from 2012 learned by groups particularly on the right was that they had too many messages, that voters were hearing too many reasons why they should vote against Obama. So there’s a lot of focus on message discipline this time around.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, what are Democrats saying to you about their hopes of being able to catch up with this amount of money and this amount of advertising?
MATEA GOLD: Well, the Democrats are very aggressively focusing on the connection between AFP and the Koch brothers. That’s a great fund-raising tool for them. And they’re making a lot out of that in each specific race.
And they’re succeeding in a lot of cases in raising healthy sums of money. And I think we’re going to see they’re not going to be able to match, I don’t think, the resources that the tax-exempt groups on the right will have. But they will probably be able to be very engaged throughout the year.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Matea Gold, it’s a lot to keep your eye on at The Washington Post.”
MATEA GOLD: It is.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you.
MATEA GOLD: My pleasure. Thanks.
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GWEN IFILL: Taking a fresh look at a timeless treasure.
Jeffrey Brown has our book conversation.
JEFFREY BROWN: It’s perhaps the most famous building in the world, the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Built in the fifth century B.C., it’s become a symbol of the very idea of democracy in Western civilization, as well as an architectural model for other important structures, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
A new book, “The Parthenon Enigma,” tells the story of the people who built it and how it’s been understood, rightly and wrongly, to our own day.
Author Joan Breton Connelly is a classical archaeologist and professor at New York University.
And welcome to you.
JOAN BRETON CONNELLY, “The Parthenon Enigma”: Thank you.JEFFREY BROWN: Your subtitle refers to the Parthenon as the world’s most iconic building. Ionic in what sense? How do you define what it’s come to mean?
JOAN BRETON CONNELLY: It stands for so much to so many generations of people.
It is a building that is instantly recognizable. It is a building that is endowed with meeting, the birthplace of democracy in particular over the ages, especially the Enlightenment onwards.
It sets the stage for everything that we regard as our highest ideals, perfection in proportion and aesthetics.
JEFFREY BROWN: But your — but your — then your argument is that, in taking all that in, from the enlightenment on, we have somehow missed something. We have missed the Greeks themselves
JOAN BRETON CONNELLY: We got it wrong.
When you’re confronted with an object of beauty, we like to see ourselves in it, reflected glory. But when we try to look at it through ancient eyes, we see a very different reality, a spiritual reality, one with a deep, dark myth behind it.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, explain that. I mean, first of all, we think of it as a temple of democracy, but what we’re missing is the temple — it was really a religious temple, right?
JOAN BRETON CONNELLY: It involves the foundation myth of Athens itself, the first king and queen of Athens and how, when the first barbarian hordes came and surrounded the Acropolis, they went to the Delphic oracle and they said, how can we save our army?
And the oracle demands that their virgin daughter be sacrificed. And so they give the ultimate sacrifice for the saving of the city. This is extraordinary against the backdrop of their own times. That is the notion that the most elite people in the city, the royal family itself, would make the sacrifice, so that their people could survive.
JEFFREY BROWN: So human sacrifice, of course, doesn’t go very well with contemporary values.
JOAN BRETON CONNELLY: Absolutely.
And it’s disarming to see that what we look to as the icon of democracy might have above its door a scene of human sacrifice. But this is a metaphor for what the Athenians valued most. And what is important here is that their notion of democracy had at its core the idea of the common good.
Individual interests were fine. We talk about them a lot today, but the building blocks, the spiritual core of Athenian democracy was this notion of a common good.
JEFFREY BROWN: Scholars like yourself have been looking at this for a long, long time, right? What’s interesting in reading here is that it’s always interpreted through our own time, anybody’s contemporary time.
JOAN BRETON CONNELLY: This is very understandable. It’s completely human to see yourselves in the past.
The most basic human question is, where do I come from? And you want to find yourself the past. So I don’t have a problem with that. It’s just that we have got new data. And when new data emerges, this data changes our old ideas and assumptions.
JEFFREY BROWN: What has changed in the last decades that we know more now?
JOAN BRETON CONNELLY: Well, for starters, for the past 30 years, the Acropolis restoration program has undertaken this complete renewal of the Acropolis, taking down the building block by block, cleaning, laser-scanning, looking at every angle of the blocks, and then putting them back up together.
So this has given us an enormous amount of new information about how the building was built. Secondly, we have the new papyrus that I set forth this book that is a lost play by Euripides, which was known, but for which we had very few lines, until the 1960s, when a mummy in Paris that had been excavated in Egypt in 1901 finally…
JEFFREY BROWN: It’s quite a detective story, actually, isn’t it?
JOAN BRETON CONNELLY: It is a real detective story…
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
JOAN BRETON CONNELLY: … building on one discovery, the discovery of a French archaeologist in 1901, and then the breakthrough of a French papyrologist in the 1960s of how to peel the layers of papyrus off of the mummy, cartonnage, that is the hard papier-mache casing around the mummy itself.
This yielded new texts. This text tells us the story of the first king of Athens and his family.
JEFFREY BROWN: There’s an ongoing debate, of course, about whether the friezes, the sculptures that are in the British museum and elsewhere should be returned to Athens, where there’s been a new museum built for them. You think they should be. Why is that important?
JOAN BRETON CONNELLY: The Parthenon sculptures were not made as stand-alone objects. They were made as part of a building, a building that still stands in the middle of Athens today.
They reflect a people. They reflect a very ancient history. They reflect a religion that can only be understood when put together as a coherent whole. There is a narrative there. It is a story. The story, to be understood deeply and completely, must be brought together again.
JEFFREY BROWN: OK. The new book is “The Parthenon Enigma.”
Joan Connelly, thanks so much.
JOAN BRETON CONNELLY: Thank you.