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

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    The day after Andy Warhol died, photographer Karl Baden posed against a white background and snapped a photo – of himself. That was February 23, 1987. In the 27 years since, he has captured the same self-portrait every day. The background and lighting never changes. Neither does his expression. But a time lapse film of the photos shows his hair grow and recede and his face fill out as he ages.

    Since a video of his portraits surfaced in 2010, Baden, now 61, has been hailed “king of the ‘selfie,’” a self portrait usually snapped by a smartphone and shared on social media. Hillary Clinton has indulged in quick selfies. So has Kim Kardashian. And during Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, host Ellen Degeneres used a celebrity-stacked selfie to break the record for the most retweets on Twitter. The practice has spawned think pieces on pride, self image, beauty and power and was even crowned 2013’s “Word of the Year” honor by Oxford Dictionary. But is this an entirely new phenomenon or a reinvention of an old one?

    “In some ways, it is a new phenomenon and in some ways it’s the same old thing over again,” Baden said. “The actual impulse to take the picture and the way the picture looks are visual strategies that have been used for a long time, for decades. But [today's] technology makes it easy and virtually foolproof to get something that you’d want to share.”

    vice-week

    The distinction can also be quite subtle,” said Baden, who also teaches photography at Boston College.

    “It’s really a sociological and generational difference,” he said. “The act is very similar and sometimes identical. But the difference lies in how it’s used and disseminated.”

    Wendy Wick Reaves, curator of prints and drawings at the National Portrait Gallery, says the selfie has been around for centuries, even if the smartphone hasn’t.

    “[The selfie] is very much of its generation,” Reaves said. “But like all self portraits, selfies are a way of asserting identity in a manner that you control. It’s both different and similar to what artists have done with self portraiture for years.”

    While the abundance of selfies in pop culture may induce eyerolls (Baden can’t say the word without cringing), Reaves doesn’t think there’s anything necessarily vainglorious about wanting to document oneself.

    BWVBELLIABAVEEB.20140221080600

    Self portraits exhibit pride in different ways. Thomas Hart Benton’s “Self-Portrait with Rita” celebrates youth through physicality. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jack H. Mooney

    “There might be a kind of one-upmanship when you depict yourself in certain places with certain people or certain celebrities,” Reaves said of selfies. “But there’s also a search for identity.”

    “You’re putting forth your identity as a particular member of a certain community,” she continued. “It could be ethnic, racial, sexual preference or gender. Whatever you’re projecting, there’s often pride involved in that.”

    Artists of all generations have found strength in exhibiting idiosyncrasies when they create images of themselves. Unlike taking a photograph of someone else, the artist can be more experimental when capturing oneself.

    The celebrity posing with an exaggerated pout, or “duckface,” isn’t employing quite the same strategy as Vincent Van Gogh, who painted himself with a severed ear. But there’s a challenge inherent in both. The art invites the viewer to stare boldly in the face of the artist without shame, and the artist can stare boldly back.

    Alice Neel Self-Portrait

    Celebrating both her age and her body, painter Alice Neel bared all just weeks after installing a pacemaker. Estate of Alice Neel, 1980. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

    “Even with ‘ugly selfies,’ you’re exhibiting pride in your sense of humor,” Reaves said. “It’s not that different from showing yourself in a new bikini. You’re still sharing something you’re proud of.”

    While self portraits have evolved over centuries of art movements, the more recent popularity of the selfie speaks to their longevity.

    “I’m doing the same thing I’ve always been doing,” said Baden, who plans to continue his daily portraiture. “Whether it’s an 8×10 view camera, a 35mm film camera, a DSLR or an iPhone.”

    To Reaves, the spread to digital mediums underscores its “universal impulse.”

    “We thought it was just for artists, but it’s for everybody,” said Reaves. “Selfies show there’s a lot to work with in positioning oneself, questioning and asserting identity. It brings out such rich themes.”

    And ultimately, Baden, who plans to continue his daily portraits, doesn’t care what you call his work.

    “This project is about mortality, obsession and incremental change,” he said. “It’s about the difference between trying to be perfect and trying to be human.”

    The post What would Warhol, Van Gogh think of today’s selfies? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Updated 3:00 p.m. EST:

    Amid his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Barack Obama made several remarks on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, calling Russia’s advances in Crimea a violation of international law and Ukrainian sovereignty. Mr. Obama added: “My interest is seeing the Ukrainian people being able to determine their own destiny.”

    Video by PBS NewsHour

    Adding that Russia’s “on the wrong side of history,” Mr. Obama said that Russia had two paths going forward:

    “The facts on the ground in Crimea are deeply troubling, and Russia has a large army that borders Ukraine.

    But what is also true is that over time, this will be a costly proposition for Russia, and now’s the time for them to consider whether they can serve their interest in a way that resorts to diplomacy as opposed to force.

    I’ve heard a lot of talk from Congress about what should be done, what they want to do. One thing they can do right away is to work with the administration to help provide a package of assistance to the Ukrainians, to the people and their government …

    At this stage, there should be unanimity among Democrats and Republicans that when it comes to preserving the principle that no country has the right to send in troops into another country unprovoked, we should be able to come up with a unified position that stands outside of partisan politics.”

    Updated 2:00 p.m. EST: In the latest in a string of criticisms against the Obama administration, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blamed President Barack Obama’s “feckless” foreign policy for the mounting tensions in Ukraine.

    “The president of the United States believes that the Cold War is over,” McCain told the pro-Israel group American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, on Monday. “That’s fine, it is over, but Putin doesn’t believe it’s over.”

    Video by the Associated Press

    McCain continued: “Look at Moldova, look at the occupation of Georgia, look at the pressure on the Balkan nations. Look at what (Russians are) doing in assisting (Syrian President) Bashar Assad slaughter tens of thousands of innocent people in cities and towns and countryside all over Syria. It is an outrage.”

    Updated 1:45 p.m. EST: Prior to his trip to Kiev, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he was looking forward to a “very constructive conversation” about the situation in Ukraine.

    Video by PBS NewsHour

    Accompanied by Moldovan prime minister Iurie Leanca, Kerry said, “I regret to say that Russia, in some of the challenges we’re seeing right now in Ukraine, has put pressure on Moldova” in regards to the country’s energy sources and ability to trade.

    Moldova shares a border with southern Ukraine.


    Original post follows:

    The military standoff between Russia and Ukraine continued to raise tensions Monday in the peninsula of Crimea, as Russian troops and supporters blockaded Ukrainian army and naval forces and threats of ultimatums were levied.

    Ukraine’s defense ministry spokesman Maksim Prauta said that two Ukranian ships were blocked from leaving the dock in Sevastopol harbor by four Russian navy ships Monday. Prauta, according to the Associated Press, accused Russia of issuing an ultimatum to the two naval vessels which stated that the ships needed to immediately surrender or be stormed and seized.

    Russian defense ministry spokesman Vladimir Anikin called the reports of an ultimatum “total nonsense.”

    On land, Russian troops currently control all Ukrainian border posts, in addition to all military facilities and a ferry terminal in Crimea. In an interview with the LA Times, Col. Sergei Stashenko, commander of Ukrainian forces at an army base in the city of Bakhchisarai, said that Russian officers have proposed that Ukrainian soldiers should take a Russian military oath, leave their weapons, surrender the base to Russian forces and travel home.

    In a phone call with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden Monday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev defended the presence of Russian troops in Crimea. Medvedev’s press secretary said that during the call, which was initiated by the U.S., the prime minister stressed to Biden the need to “protect Ukrainian citizens, including in Crimea, as well as citizens of the Russian Federation located on the territory of Ukraine.”

    Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov Monday defended the presence of troops in Crimea, saying that they were necessary “until the normalization of the political situation” in Crimea.

    The U.S. and allies are currently >weighing sanctions on Moscow and deciding whether to increase defense preparations in Europe. Earlier Monday, the U.S. also pulled its presidential delegation to the Paralympic games in Sochi, Russia.

    The post Standoff between Russian and Ukraine troops spark traded accusations, threats appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    If you married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years, you can qualify for divorced spousal or survivor benefits. Photo by Altrendo Images/Stockbyte via Getty Images.

    Larry Kotlikoff exposes yet another peculiarity of our nation’s Social Security system that allows a spouse to live off the largest benefits package of multiple ex-spouses. Photo by Altrendo Images/Stockbyte via Getty Images.

    Larry Kotlikoff’s Social Security original 34 “secrets”, his additional secrets, his Social Security “mistakes” and his Social Security gotchas have prompted so many of you to write in that we now feature “Ask Larry” every Monday. Find a complete list of his columns here. We are determined to continue it until the queries stop or we run through the particular problems of all 78 million Baby Boomers, whichever comes first. Kotlikoff’s state-of-the-art retirement software is available here, for free, in its “basic” version.


    I thought I’d provide this outrageous tale of William Cooper Caldwell Gigolo to illustrate another peculiarity of our Social Security system.

    William Gigolo worked not a day in his life, but instead lived off the relatively high earnings of three lovely wives — Sarah, Sally and Suzie. William is now 62 and has been single for two years. He’s a handsome devil (looks like Paul, actually). He refers to the three “S” gals as “My S exes.”

    William’s very happy to have lived off of each S ex and to have helped himself to half their assets when they divorced. In each case, William waited until their 10th anniversary, chose a romantic restaurant, and over dessert, announced he was filing, not for Social Security, but for divorce.

    Why wait 10 years? Because William knew that he had to be married 10 years, and not a day less, to qualify for divorcée spousal benefits and, when an S ex died, divorcée survivor benefits, on his spouse du jour (well du decade).

    Since your ex has to be at least 62 for you to collect spousal benefits, William was careful to marry at least one S ex older than himself. This wife is Sarah, who is 64 and was the lowest earner. The next highest earner was Sally, who is 60. Suzie is the baby at only 56, but she earned more than the other S exes.

    To maximize his lifetime Social Security benefits, William files for a divorced spousal benefit at 62 and starts to collect half of Sarah’s full retirement benefit, but reduced by 30 percent because he takes it early. Then, after two years, when Sally is 62, William files for a divorcée spousal benefit based on Sally’s earnings record.

    And why not? Since he’s now eligible to collect on two S exes, he can file for benefits on both. He won’t get two divorcée spousal benefts — just the larger of the two. But Sally’s full retirement benefit is larger than Sarah’s, so he flips to hers. And here’s the lovely thing from William’s perspective: he’ll be able to collect half of Sally’s full retirement benefit, but reduced by only 13.3 percent, not 30 percent! Why? Because the reduction of benefits based on one spouse’s earnings record doesn’t carry over to collecting on another’s.

    William’s cash-out plan is working. But there’s a part three. In six years, when Suzie reaches 62 and William is 68, he flips onto Suzie’s earnings record and starts collecting a completely unreduced divorcée spousal benefit since he doesn’t start collecting this particular benefit (which exceeds the other two) before he reaches his full retirement age.

    Is William done with his optimization? No. Let’s fast forward to William’s 70th birthday, which is also the day that Sally, who waited until full retirement age to start collecting her benefit, dies. Sally’s full retirement benefit, while lower than Suzie’s, exceeds half of Suzie’s. So now William files for and begins collecting an unreduced spousal benefit on Sally’s record equal to 100 percent of Sally’s full retirement benefit.

    Fast forward again. William is now 76 and Suzie dies (of a broken heart) having also waited until full retirement age to collect her retirement benefit. What does William do? He files for an unreduced survivor benefit based on Suzie’s earnings record.

    Fast forward one last time. William is now 88. He’s met a very lovely 94-year-old named Sandra, who earned more than any of the S exes and is on her last legs. William realizes that he can marry Sandra and, after nine months, qualify for survivor benefits on Sandra’s earnings record. Presto, he whisks Sandra off to Las Vegas for a quickie marriage and, nine months to the day of their nuptials, Sandra falls, breaks her hip, and heads north by north.

    William leaves the funeral early in order to get to the local Social Security office before it closes and file for a full (unreduced) survivor benefit on Sandra’s account.

    This appears to be William’s last Social Security play, but he’s still a handsome devil and is on Match.com checking out his options.

    Post script: This is no way to run a railroad, let alone our nation’s Social Security system.

    The post Yes, you can cash in on multiple exes’ Social Security benefits appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Following his death at the hands of two Alexandrian police officers, Egyptian blogger Khaled Said became a symbol for protesters across the country. At a 2012 protest, an activist holds a sign emblazoned with Said’s image, along with the word “Retribution.”  The two officers were sentenced to ten years in jail for Said’s death on Monday. Photo by Egyptian activist Gigi Ibrahim.

    Following his death at the hands of two Alexandrian police officers, Egyptian blogger Khaled Said became a symbol for protesters across the country. At a 2012 protest, an activist holds a sign emblazoned with Said’s image, along with the word “Retribution.” The two officers were sentenced to ten years in jail for Said’s death on Monday. Photo by Egyptian activist Gigi Ibrahim.

    It could be called the match that started the blaze of Egypt’s Arab Spring uprisings. The 2010 death of activist and blogger Khaled Said by two police officers for apparent retribution in the seaside city of Alexandria sent shockwaves through a nation fed up with state corruption and police brutality.

    On Monday, Awad Suleiman and Mahmoud Salah were each sentenced to 10 years in jail for the death of the 28-year-old blogger. The two men were originally sentenced to seven years on charges of excessive brutality, but a retrial was ordered by the court after Suleiman and Salah appealed the decision. The second time around, the men were found guilty of manslaughter and torture.

    It was an online video clip Said had posted of the two officers dealing drugs that triggered the murder, according to other activists.

    Khaled Said was in an Alexandrian internet cafe in June, 2010 when the two police officers apprehended him. Eyewitnesses, including the owner of the cafe, said the officers began to beat him and dragged him into a building across the street where they tortured him. According to the owner’s testimony, Said did not make it out of the building alive. He was later declared dead at a local police station.

    Police said Said had died from choking on a bag of hashish he’d swallowed in an attempt to hide it from the police. This claim was backed up by an autopsy report by Egypt’s forensic authorities.

    However, a photo of Said’s disfigured face was snapped by his brother in the morgue. The gruesome image showed clear signs of beating and torture and went viral after it was released by Said’s family online. It was reproduced as a rallying-cry and sparked a solidarity campaign called “We Are All Khaled Said.” It would become one of the country’s largest political opposition forums.

    Continued outrage over Said’s death eventually helped fuel the Egyptian uprising in early 2011. It would result in the deposal of President Hosni Mubarak and his ruling National Democratic Party in just 18 days.

    “We thank the judges for their hard work during the trial and we thank God that the verdict was somewhat satisfying for us,” said Mahmoud Abdel Rahman, the lawyer representing Khaled Said’s family.

    The two police officers had pleaded not guilty and their lawyer said they will appeal the ruling.

    As Egypt’s current interim military government leads a crackdown on opposition forces and Islamist extremists, complaints of police torture, unlawful detention and brutality are still common.

    The post Two Egyptian police officers sentenced for 2010 death of activist appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Time Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

    Photo by Time Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

    The U.S. Supreme Court rejected requests Monday to review appeals from towns in Texas and Pennsylvania over lower court rulings that overturned local housing laws targeted towards undocumented immigrants.

    Farmers Branch, Texas and Hazelton, Penn., unsatisfied with federal enforcement of immigration law, hoped the ordinances would ensure that renters were lawfully present in the U.S. The ordinances required landlords to collect various information and “proper” identification from tenants, and for renters to obtain a renter’s license. This data could be handed over to immigration authorities and include penalties for landlords who rented to undocumented immigrants. City officials could deny licenses to anyone found to be in the town illegally.

    Groups for tenants, landlords, employers and workers challenged the ordinances in court and won. This prompted the towns to seek reviews of their appeals by the nation’s highest court. Reuters reports that the appeals courts overruled the local ordinances because they conflicted federal government’s role as the primary enforcer of immigration law.

    In the case of Farmers Branch, a Dallas suburb, the eight-year legal battles cost more than $6 million.

    The post Towns lose battle over housing laws aimed at undocumented immigrants appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Supreme CourtTwelve years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, held that the execution of mentally retarded persons violated the Constitution. On Monday when the rest of the federal government enjoyed a snow day, the justices returned to this area of the law to examine how one state determines who is “intellectually disabled” and exempt from the death penalty.

    In the last 12 years, the term “mental retardation” has fallen into disfavor with the psychological and social welfare community. Instead, “intellectual disability” is the preferred term, and the justices in oral arguments on Monday, for the most part, adopted the current phrase.

    However, after those arguments, it seemed unlikely that a majority would adopt the state of Florida’s approach to deciding who is intellectually disabled for purposes of a death sentence.

    Freddie Lee Hall, on Florida’s death row for the 1978 abduction, rape and murder of a 21-year-old woman who was seven months pregnant, has challenged Florida’s rule that intellectually disability is proved by an IQ of 70 or below. That inflexible cutoff, he contends, violates the justices’ 2002 decision in Atkins v. Virginia because it fails to include the standard error of measurement (plus or minus five points), a range that clinicians say is necessary to counter the inherent imprecision in IQ tests.

    Those five points mean life or death for Hall who, although considered “mentally retarded his entire life” by state courts, has scored above 70 on a number of IQ tests.

    In their 2002 decision, the justices did not define “mental retardation” and left the implementation of their ruling to the states. But the justices did suggest the definition had three elements, saying that “clinical definitions of mental retardation require not only subaverage intellectual functioning, but also significant limitations in adaptive skills such as communication, self-care, and self-direction that became manifest before age 18.”

    Hall’s attorney, Seth Waxman, a former solicitor general in the Clinton Administration, argued that if a state is going to rely on IQ test scores to demonstrate mental disability, it cannot ignore measurement error in those scores. “That is a feature, a statistical feature of the test instrument itself,” he said.

    But Justice Antonin Scalia, who dissented in Atkins, said that the court 12 years ago did not look to the American Psychiatric Association or other medical groups for the answer to what degree of intellectual disability exempted someone from the death penalty. “We looked to what the states did,” he said, adding that a number of them had adopted the IQ score of 70 at the time.

    Waxman countered that the court pointed out in Atkins that this is a clinical condition that can only be diagnosed properly by professionals. The justices, he said, should pay considerable deference to those professionals’ use of the standard error of measurement.

    Florida’s solicitor general, Allen Winsor, argued that the medical criteria used by those professionals was constantly changing or evolving and because of that, should not be “constitutionalized.” Justice Scalia had earlier picked up on that argument, noting that the American Psychiatric Association once said homosexuality was a mental disability “and now says it’s perfectly normal. They change their minds.”

    But Winsor faced his most skeptical questioning from the court’s more liberal justices. Justice Stephen Breyer asked “what’s so terrible” about allowing a defendant to produce an expert to testify that the IQ score was subject to error—testimony that the prosecution could counter with its own experts. And Justice Elena Kagan said the 70 cutoff seemed inconsistent with the court’s death penalty decisions which require individualized consideration of a defendant’s eligibility for that sentence. It “stops that in its tracks,” she added, and prevents a defendant from getting to the two other elements that the court suggested in Atkins: limits on adaptive skills and onset before age 18.

    Winsor argued that adopting Hall’s approach would “double the number of people eligible for exemption” from the death penalty and that would be “inconsistent” with Florida’s purposes of the death penalty.

    Death penalty scholars and mental health groups say most states have developed appropriate standards for determining intellectual disability in the death penalty context. But Florida and seven other states, they say, have imposed a hard IQ cutoff that does not comport with current views.

    Winsor told the court that those other states are Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia, and Maryland, which has repealed the death penalty.

    The justices are expected to issue a decision by the end of June.

    The post Marcia Coyle explains today’s Supreme Court arguments on IQ and the death penalty appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    UKRAINE-UNREST-POLITICS-EU-RUSSIA-CRIMEA

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: The confrontation in Crimea showed no signs of abating today, as Russia and the West faced off. President Obama and other Western leaders talked of sanctions, but there was no sign Moscow was listening.

    Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports on the day’s developments.

    MARGARET WARNER: Across Crimea, Russian forces took over border crossings and surrounded military compounds. And there were reports of a Russian ultimatum to Ukrainian forces there to surrender by 5:00 a.m. local time Tuesday. That was denied as nonsense by Moscow.

    A Ukrainian officer at an infantry base said his command remained intact:

    COL. ALEXANDER SAYANKA, Infantry Battalion Commander, Ukraine (through interpreter): We have not handed over any weapons. Our entire team is still here. We remain faithful to the Ukrainian people. We are ready to fulfill our tasks, and, should it be necessary, we are ready to lay down our lives for the oath we have taken to the people of Ukraine.

    MARGARET WARNER: There have been no overt hostilities since the Russian takeover of Crimea began Saturday. But Russian President Vladimir Putin watched war games today outside Saint Petersburg, near the Finnish border.

    Similar maneuvers continued in Southern Russia along the Ukraine border, amid fears Moscow could move into other parts of Eastern Ukraine, where ethnic Russians predominate.

    In Kiev, the new prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, spoke after meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

    ARSENIY YATSENYUK, Prime Minister, Ukraine: Those who are today in Crimea, and they present an illegal, and I would reiterate again, an illegal power in Crimea.

    They try to squeeze Ukrainian assets. They try to confiscate Ukrainian property. They try to disarm Ukrainian army. For these kind of actions, they will be prosecuted under domestic and international law. And they have to know this.

    MARGARET WARNER: No one talked of a military response. Instead, the U.S. and others sought to muster diplomatic and economic pressure.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I think that the strong condemnation it’s received from countries around the world indicates the degree to which Russia is on the wrong side of history on this.

    MARGARET WARNER: President Obama, meeting with Israel’s prime minister at the White House, warned Russia will pay a price.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: So, there are really two paths that Russia can take at this point. Obviously, the facts on ground in Crimea are deeply troubling, and Russia has a large army that borders Ukraine. But what is also true is that, over time, this will be a costly proposition for Russia.

    MARGARET WARNER: The president is dispatching Secretary of State Kerry to Kiev for meetings tomorrow with interim government leaders and parliamentarians. And he called on Congress today to act quickly on economic aid package for Ukraine.

    In Brussels today, Kerry’s European Union counterparts urged Russia to take the path of mediation. Carl Bildt is Sweden’s foreign minister.

    CARL BILDT, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sweden: I think the Russians are still impressed of — some in Russia still impressed by their military might. But I think after a while, they will see the limitations. Military might is not the way to make friends in Europe, not to make friends in the world, and I think at some point in time, they will start to see that.

    MARGARET WARNER: But, in Switzerland, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, again said Moscow was protecting Russian citizens in Crimea. And he lashed back at threats of economic penalties.

    SERGEI LAVROV, Foreign Minister, Russia (through interpreter): Those who attempt to interpret the situation as an act of aggression and threaten us with sanctions and boycotts, these are the very same partners of ours who consistently have encouraged political forces close to them to deliver an ultimatum and refuse dialogue, to ignore the concerns of southern and eastern regions of Ukraine, which has ultimately polarized Ukrainian society.

    MARGARET WARNER: Back in Kiev, rumors of war stirred differing responses. This couple, a Ukrainian woman and a Russian man, urged calm.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): We are against the conflict. We are for peace and friendship. We do not want war.

    MAN (through interpreter): We do not want people to kill each other. We want people to live peacefully everywhere, on all continents and everywhere in other countries.

    MARGARET WARNER: But others seemed ready to man the ramparts.

    LYUDMYLA SHARNA, Ukraine (through interpreter): We have no fear at all. Right now, our children are going to military registration offices. And if needed, we will create people’s emergency volunteer corps and we will protect our state.

    MARGARET WARNER: In Moscow, thousands marched Sunday in support of Putin’s move into Crimea.

    MAN (through interpreter): To give up Ukraine for the benefit of radicals would be very bad. Putin did a fantastic thing when he forced Georgia to peace. The same thing needs to be done with Ukraine too.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yet, not all Russians agreed. A small protest outside the Defense Ministry resulted in about 40 arrests yesterday.

    ROMAN KOROLYOV, Anti-War Activist (through interpreter): We don’t want the war to begin between our country and Ukraine, which we consider to be our brotherly government, because of imperial ambitions of Russian ruling elites.

    MARGARET WARNER: Global markets also reacted nervously, nowhere more so than in Russia.

    NIKITA BEKASOV, Moscow Stock Exchange spokesman (through interpreter): We see a broad, steady fall across all assets, which only confirms that macroeconomic factors do not matter here, or an isolated story in some one asset class. The whole market just gave way. It rapidly went down.

    MARGARET WARNER: The main Russian stock exchange was down 11 percent today, and the ruble traded at its lowest rate ever against the dollar and euro.

    GWEN IFILL: We will have much more on Ukraine, including some of this afternoon’s U.N. Security Council debate and an interview with a top White House adviser, right after the news summary.

    The post Obama: ‘Russia is on the wrong side of history’ in Ukraine dispute appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newswrap

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    GWEN IFILL: The situation in Ukraine shook Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 153 points to close at 16,168. The Nasdaq fell more than 30 points to close at 4,277. And the S&P 500 dropped more than 13 points to finish at 1,845. The tensions also sent oil prices sharply higher, to nearly $105 dollars a barrel.

    The winter of 2014 dealt another blow to much of the Eastern U.S. today. Ice and snow up to eight inches in places shut down much of the Mid-Atlantic, including official Washington. It also grounded thousands of flights and forced schools to close again. Meanwhile, in North Texas, an icy interstate caused a miles-long backup during the morning commute.

    Snowstorms and freezing temperatures held back the U.S. auto business again last month. General Motors, Ford, and Toyota all reported sales were down by single digits. Volkswagen saw a 14 percent decline. Chrysler and Nissan fared better, reporting double-digit gains.

    The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized new rules to dramatically reduce the amount of sulfur in gasoline. The chemical is linked to respiratory disease and can foul pollution control equipment in cars. The oil and gas industry warn the rules will drive gas prices up by six to nine cents a gallon. But the EPA says there will be virtually no effect.

    President Obama sought today to salvage hopes for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. At a White House meeting, he pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for — quote — “tough decisions,” while Netanyahu held out little hope of a breakthrough.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It is still possible to create two states, a Jewish state of Israel and a state of Palestine, in which people are living side by side in peace and security. But it’s difficult. It requires compromise on all sides.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Isreal: Israel has been doing its part, and I regret to say that the Palestinians haven’t. Now, I know this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but it’s the truth.

    GWEN IFILL: Even as the two met, Israel announced it started work on more than twice as many homes in West Bank settlements last year than the year before.

    Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law went on trial in New York today on charges he plotted to kill Americans in his role as spokesman for al-Qaida. The Kuwaiti-born Suleiman Abu Ghaith was captured last year. He’s the highest-ranking member of al-Qaida to be tried on U.S. soil since the 9/11 attack. If convicted, Abu Ghaith could face life in prison.

    The Supreme Court is set to decide whether an I.Q. score alone is enough to say someone qualifies for the death penalty. Lawyers for a man on Florida’s death row argued today he is mentally disabled, even though his I.Q. is above the widely accepted cutoff of 70. The high court banned executions of mentally disabled inmates 12 years ago, but the states decide who fits that definition.

    House Republicans opened a campaign today for a total overhaul of social programs. House Budget Chair Paul Ryan issued a 204-page critique of federal anti-poverty efforts. He argued scores of programs actually create a poverty trap that keep people from getting ahead. The report came a day before the president lays out his budget plans for the coming fiscal year.

    A slavery-era drama and a sci-fi thriller headlined the winners at last night’s Academy Awards. The best picture Oscar went to “12 Years a Slave,” which also won for best adapted screenplay and best supporting actress. “Gravity” won seven Oscars, the most of any film, including best director and most of the technical categories.

    The post News Wrap: EPA offers new rules on cutting sulfur levels in gasoline appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Protesters In Texas Statehouse Block Texas Lawmakers From Passing Abortion Bill

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: This year’s primary election season officially gets under way tomorrow in Texas, where voters will decide on a number of races, including the nominees for governor.

    While there is little doubt about the two candidates expected to win in each party, both have stumbled out of the gate.

    High-profile and high-dollar, tomorrow’s Texas primaries could pave the way for the most competitive battle for governor here in years.

    The Republican favorite, state Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is a paraplegic, has promoted his conservative views on social and economic issues.

    GREG ABBOTT, R-Texas Gubernatorial Candidate: I want to see Texas move back into the top 10. Having a low tax structure its one of the best economic incentives that will attract business here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Abbott has also taken fire for campaigning alongside Ted Nugent, even after the rock musician referred to President Obama as a subhuman mongrel.

    On the Democratic side:

    MAN: Is it still your intention to filibuster?

    WENDY DAVIS, D-Texas Gubernatorial Candidate: Yes, Mr. President.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: State Senator Wendy Davis rocketed to national prominence in June after she temporarily derailed a Republican bill to impose tough new restrictions on abortions.

    WENDY DAVIS: Laws are to create justice for all. We also received this written testimony. There is a medical necessity. Women need timely access.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Davis’s 11-hour filibuster made her an instant hit in her party. And, in October, she declared for governor. Since then, she’s faced scrutiny after parts of her personal story turned out to be inaccurate.

    Texas voters also choose U.S. Senate nominees tomorrow. Incumbent Republican John Cornyn is expected to defeat a primary challenge by Tea Party Congressman Steve Stockman. Cornyn will also be favored in the general election.

    And in the governor’s race, a recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll gives Abbott the lead over Davis in November.

    We take a closer look at the gubernatorial battle in the Lone Star State with Wayne Slater. He’s senior political writer for The Dallas Morning News.

    Wayne Slater, welcome back to the program.

    Tell us a little bit more about this governor’s contest. I guess there’s not a lot of attention about tomorrow’s primaries. People are already focusing on November.

    Wendy Davis introducing herself to the voters, how has she done that?

    WAYNE SLATER, The Dallas Morning News: Well, the campaign — Wendy Davis’ campaign decided at the very beginning that they were going to lead with her compelling personal narrative.

    The narrative was that she was a divorced mother living in a trailer who worked her way up through Harvard Law School and success — electoral success now in the Texas Senate.

    As you indicated in the setup piece, part of that story is not precisely true. And so she has stumbled coming out of the gate. By leading with that story, part of it true, part of it not precisely true, then it has, I think, confused some Democratic voters.

    And in the case of Wendy Davis, running in a state where a Democrat has not won for governor since Ann Richards in 1990, she has to have everything there right for her, and probably a few things go wrong for her Republican opponent, likely opponent, Greg Abbott.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How did she handle it when your story came out?

    WAYNE SLATER: Yes, she — they didn’t handle it well. The campaign was slow to respond. It was slow to respond well.

    It took about 10 days before she had a really compelling speech here in Austin where she took issue with some elements in the story, appeared with one of her two daughters, as if to beat back any suggestion that she was anything other than a good mother. That was the implication not that my story brought, but that some critics reading the story suggested.

    But it took 10 days, and the campaign was still in a state of flux, having some reporters not even being allowed to attend the speech, shutting out all but one group from the speech.

    So it’s not a good and a propitious way for her campaign to begin. I think they understood that they have made errors. They need to project her message more successfully, because, it’s going to be, if those are the two nominees, a very sharp distinction for Texas voters in November between the Republican and Wendy Davis, the Democrat.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk about the Republican, Greg Abbott. As we said, he’s the conservative state attorney general.

    What do voters know of him?

    WAYNE SLATER: Yes.

    Yes. He’s been — unlike Wendy Davis, who is a relative newcomer here — even people in Texas have learned about her from her filibuster last year — Greg Abbott has been on the scene for two decades. He was a member of the Texas Supreme Court and for a decade has been the attorney general, very conservative.

    As a conservative attorney general, he has touted the idea that he has stood up and fought all the way to the Supreme Court the right for the Texas — the Ten Commandments monument to remain on Texas grounds. He won that case. He is very big on Second Amendment rights.

    I just saw a tweet from him the other day in which he was with some law enforcement people holding a semiautomatic weapon. He posed on the cover of “Texas Monthly” magazine with a gun, traditional campaign tactics here in Texas.

    And, if he has one theme, frankly — it’s a theme that many Republicans this primary season have — it is that, I have — as attorney general, I have sued the Obama administration scores of times and won many of those suits, and I will stand against Obama in just about anything that the Obama administration wants to do.

    That’s good stuff in a Republican primary. I’m not sure how it’s going to play in the general.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, if he’s striking so many notes that are playing well with voters, what is the — what is — what gives Wendy Davis’ campaign some hope?

    WAYNE SLATER: A couple of things.

    One, there’s a growing Hispanic population, obviously. This has been going on for years, Judy, and you have probably watched it over the years. The problem with the growing Hispanic population, which by 2020 will be a plurality in Texas and by 2030 will be a majority — Latinos will be a majority in the state — is that they’re not a majority yet. They’re not a plurality yet. And they don’t vote in numbers that reflect their population as a whole.

    The Wendy Davis people and a group of Obama operatives from the last campaign set up shop here in something called Battleground Texas want to locate, identify, register, and turn out growing numbers of Hispanic voters. Disproportionately, these are voters who vote Democratic.

    The other thing is that if Wendy Davis can sound the message to suburban women, moderate, even Republican-leaning women in Dallas, and Houston, and San Antonio, and Austin, then women will vote for her, because of her compelling story, who she is, advocacy for health rights, women’s rights and women’s health issues. Then she can win.

    Ann Richards won for governor in 1990 by getting 61 percent of the woman vote. Wendy needs 60-61 percent of those women, plus a growing number of Hispanics. If she can get those two, even though it’s an uphill battle, she can win.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s a contest the whole country is going to be watching.

    Wayne Slater with The Dallas Morning News, thank you.

    WAYNE SLATER: Sure.

    The post Texas primaries could pave way for high-profile gubernatorial battle appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We focus now on the United States’ response to Russian actions in Ukraine.

    For that, we turn to President Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Tony Blinken. He joined us from the White House earlier this evening.

    Tony Blinken, welcome.

    Despite a 90-minute phone call with President Obama this weekend, warnings from top U.S. officials, Russia has effectively taken control of the Crimean region. Is there anything that can be done now to get them to pull back?

    TONY BLINKEN, Deputy National Security Adviser: Judy, the president has been leading the effort to mobilize the international community in support of Ukraine and to isolate Russia for the actions that it’s taken in Ukraine.

    And we’re seeing very, very strong condemnations coming from the G7 countries, from NATO, from individual countries around the world. And that pressure, which is beginning to isolate Russia, is already having an impact. We have seen Russian markets, its financial markets, drop 13 percent today. The ruble hit an all-time low.

    And we ourselves, in coordination with partners, have pulled out of preparatory meetings for the next G8 meeting that’s supposed to take place in Sochi, Russia, of all places, and that is clearly going to have a chilling impact on the trade and commercial relations that Russia wants with the West and with the United States. So a cost is already being exacted and the president’s made it clear that if Russia continues on this path, there will be additional costs.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But is that in effect saying that the U.S. is prepared to let the Russians stay in Crimea, given the historic ties there?

    TONY BLINKEN: Now, look, there’s a clear choice and a clear path.

    The Russians can continue to pursue the course that they’re on and face growing and increasing isolation and pressure, or it’s actually very straightforward. They can withdraw their troops, and if they have genuine concerns about the treatment of ethnic Russians, which is the excuse they have given for going in, then, without violating Ukraine’s sovereignty or territorial integrity, they can engage directly with the government of Ukraine, and we can all bring in international monitors and inspectors from the United Nations, the OSCE, organizations to which Russia belongs, and it can play an active role in making sure its interests are upheld.

    That’s the way forward. And the president was very clear earlier today that that’s the choice before Russia right now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, at this point, there’s no sign the Russians are pulling back. In fact, there’s every evidence they’re digging in even deeper. How worried is the administration that the Russians will go farther into the rest of Ukraine?

    TONY BLINKEN: Judy, the longer this goes on and if Russia persists in this course, the costs are going to go up, in terms of its isolation and in terms of being able to do things that it wants to do and won’t be able to do.

    So, for example, the way that President Putin, I think, defines Russia’s power is to try to increase its global and economic influence. Everything he’s doing and everything we’re doing in response is actually gutting that influence. If the only way at the end of the way you have to influence people is by intervening militarily or coercing them or bribing them, you’re not going to have much power for a long period of time.

    So, Russia really needs to change course. And there is a way forward that can make sure that its interests, its longstanding ties to Ukraine of culture, of language, of history are protected, but that the Ukrainian people, not anyone else, get to choose their own future.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But what if President Putin has effectively decided that he’s prepared to live with those costs, that it means so much to Russia not to have Ukraine not go in the direction that it’s going, that he’s prepared to accept the financial and cultural and other costs you’re mentioning?

    TONY BLINKEN: Look, I think there are plenty of people around President Putin that who will not want to accept those costs going forward.

    We’re looking at a wide range of measures that could be taken in coordination with other countries that will increase that pressure, increase the isolation. And over time, if it takes that long, I think the costs will get to a point where they decide to change course.

    But we don’t need to go there. There’s a very clear way forward now. There’s a clear path to de-escalate this problem, to uphold the interest that Russia asserts, but to get Russian troops out, get international inspectors in, get Russia and Ukraine talking. We’re prepared to facilitate all of that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Should the U.S. hold off, though, on any further significant economic sanctions until the Europeans are together, united with the U.S. so you could present a united front?

    TONY BLINKEN: You know, we’re working on a package of measures, but we want to maximize their impact if we have to go down that route.

    And what the president has been doing in mobilizing international support, in spending the last few days on the phone virtually nonstop with leaders around the world is building that support and making sure that whatever actions we take have the greatest impact possible.

    It’s one thing for the United States to do something in isolation; it’s another thing when we bring along the rest of the world.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Can you trust President Putin’s word? Because it was just, I think, days ago that the president and Secretary Kerry had been talking with top Russian officials. In the beginning, they sent every indication that they were not going to move forward, and yet they have.

    So how are you to believe or to trust them as you talk to them going forward? Or does that even matter?

    TONY BLINKEN: It’s not about trust — it’s about — trusting anyone’s word.

    It’s about actions, determining whether they do what they say, and, if they don’t, making sure that there are clear repercussions for that. But what we’re looking for is clear action. And, again, there’s a way out of this and a way forward that involves Russia pulling back, bringing its troops back to their barracks and allowing the international inspectors to get in there.

    If they have genuine concerns about the way people are being treated, those inspectors can verify the facts and make sure that people are protected.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But my question is, do you have any sense that that message is getting through? You mentioned the people around President Putin. Who are you talking about?

    TONY BLINKEN: Oh, there are, for example, oligarchs who support him and others who support him who clearly want to be engaged in the world, want to do business around the world, want to travel around the world.

    They have to ask themselves if the course that Russia is on that leads to greater isolation will allow them to do what they want to do going forward. And over time, in the days ahead, again, I think you’re seeing the pressure mount.

    As I said earlier, we’re already seeing a profound impact on Russia’s financial markets, a profound impact on the ruble. Those are real costs, and I think they’re going to raise real questions.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, Tony Blinken, what do you say to those, in particular Republicans, who are saying that part of what is going on is that President Obama is not feared by the Russians and, therefore, they are operating with impunity?

    TONY BLINKEN: There is always a lot of talk, but what really matters is what we do.

    And, as I said, the president has been mobilizing the international community in support of Ukraine and to isolate Russia for the actions it’s taken here. That’s been very successful in recent days. And if you look at what we’re doing around the world, I don’t think that our leadership in building extraordinarily deep ties of trade, for example, in Asia and with Europe is — that’s clearly an important example of his leadership and our leadership.

    But, in this particular instance, the president is the one who is mobilizing the international community.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tony Blinken, the deputy national security adviser to the president, thank you.

    TONY BLINKEN: Thank you, Judy.

    The post Urging change of course by Russia, U.S. ‘prepared to facilitate’ talks with Ukraine appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, we turn to a classroom program designed to help young people cope with PTSD, a condition caused not by the shock of war, but by the stresses they encounter in life outside their schools.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.

    MAN: We go — we start with our mountain pose, OK? And as you breath out, lean to the right and feel that stretch along your left side.

    JEFFREY BROWN: At Cesar Chavez Academy in East Palo Alto, California, these seventh graders are part of an experiment to see if focused breathing can lead to focused learning.

    MAN: And as you breathe out, come back to the middle.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Stanford University researchers John Rettger and Michael Fu are using yoga and what is known as mindfulness practices to help students concentrate on class work.

    MAN: These practices are really designed to help us feel a little bit more awake, aware and also relaxed.

    MAN: We’re going to get into sort of our relaxed state, and we’re going to get into mindful practice. So, first of all, for mountain pose, everybody, go ahead and move your feet so that they are shoulder-width apart. And let’s take three breaths together. Let’s inhale and exhale.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Cesar Chavez is in a low-income, high-crime neighborhood, and many of these students face real-world stresses, anxieties and fears, which can impair their ability to learn.

    Principal Amika Guillaume:

    AMIKA GUILLAUME, principal, Cesar Chavez Academy: We have, by the 2010 census, as many as 50 percent of students who are homeless.

    There are some very concrete things, like a telephone, a mattress, a refrigerator with food in it, an address that you are in charge — when I say children are under stress and duress, it’s the little things. Let’s not to mention the shootings. Let’s not even go into the gang war in our neighborhoods. Just the little, simple things are very stressful.

    MAN: I want you to notice inward what you are feeling, so an emotion. And then I want to have somebody volunteer what their emotion is.

    STUDENT: Relaxed.

    MAN: Relaxed?  Good.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Dr. Victor Carrion, a professor at Stanford University’s School of Medicine and head of Early Life Stress Research Program, oversees the project at Cesar Chavez Academy.

    DR. VICTOR CARRION, Stanford University School of Medicine: We talk about adverse childhood experiences. We talk about trauma. Here, we have the words suicide, drugs, sexual abuse, starving. This is what adverse childhood experiences are. This is the constant life of these children on a day-to-day basis. And not only do they live it, but they have reminders in their own school.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Carrion and his colleagues are trying to understand how children respond to daily stress, emotionally and even physiologically.

    DR. VICTOR CARRION: With functional imaging, we actually can see what the brain is doing.

    JEFFREY BROWN: He showed us brain images of children who suffer from chronic press, revealing evidence of both cognitive impairment and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

    This link between stress and behavior actually shows up in the brain?

    DR. VICTOR CARRION: It does.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, so, when there is stress or trauma in somebody’s life, it shows up there?

    DR. VICTOR CARRION: Well, yes, what we can see is there is a deficit in the area of the middle frontal cortex in kids that have PTSD.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And in the developing brain of a child, Carrion says, PTSD can discourage learning.

    DR. VICTOR CARRION: So the issue that we have with stress and chronic stress, and when it manifests as a PTSD syndrome or disorder is that some of the areas that are affected are areas that we need for our learning. For example, brain centers that process memory, brain centers that process executive function are particularly vulnerable. So PTSD can have an effect in how children learn.

    JEFFREY BROWN: According to Carrion, up to 30 percent of children who live in low-income, high-crime neighborhoods will show symptoms of PTSD.

    AMIKA GUILLAUME: Do I think that stress of our community can get to a child? One hundred and ten percent, absolutely. For every child who acts out at our school, I can look exactly to the point in their life where things are not working. Every single time, there is a very concrete, very sad story about why this child is not getting what he or she needs.

    MAN: Bring your arms up, and then put your left leg right around your knee.

    JEFFREY BROWN: By teaching children to pay close attention to their breathing and movements, Stanford medical student Michael Fu hopes they will better prepared to concentrate.

    MICHAEL FU, Stanford University medical student: The principals of mindfulness really try to make you focus on the present moment. So whether or not you came in this morning experiencing something stressful at home or something bad happened, for you to be able to come into the classroom and really embrace it and embrace the learning, I think it really allows students to reach their potential.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The Stanford team is also encouraging students to use these practices beyond the classroom.

    MAN: This is then a tool that is available to us. So if we’re working with some challenging emotions like anger or some fear or some sadness, these are things we can do to help change how we’re feeling, right, and we can feel a little bit better.

    JEFFREY BROWN: These students were just finishing a 10-week program when we visited. Teacher Marquel Coats said that, at first, there was plenty of skepticism.

    MARQUEL COATS, teacher: It took us out of our comfort zone to be like moving our bodies and breathing in and out in front of everyone without giggling and things like that. Once you just kind of just get in the zone on your own, you become comfortable, and it becomes something natural, as opposed to something that you’re nervous about.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Brayan Solorio, says that he uses both mindfulness and yoga at home when his mother, who works her third job at night, refuses to let Brian play outside.

    BRAYAN SOLORIO, student: When I get home, I want to play, but she doesn’t let me because it’s too dark now. And I get so mad. And then I put my yoga mat that they give me, and I start using it. The difference is that I’m angry, and then as soon as I use it, I’m not angry no more. It calms me down.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Can children learn to live with trauma? Do they learn to cope?

    DR. VICTOR CARRION: They learn to cope if we teach them. If we don’t do anything, their PTSD is not going to go away. So, by adolescence, for example, individuals may develop self-injurious behaviors or they may develop substance abuse as a way of self-medicating. So, if PTSD, if not addressed, is avoided, is just going to get worse.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Teacher Marquel Coats says she has seen positive results.

    MARQUEL COATS: I have seen tremendous, like, growth in students from being in mindfulness, from, like, kids that have attitudes are quick to get upset about something, breathing and taking it slower, and then saying, you know, I didn’t like that or please don’t do that, as opposed to lashing out.

    JEFFREY BROWN: For Principal Amika Guillaume, all of this is very personal. Her sister was murdered when, as a teenager, she got caught up in a fight. Guillaume today says keeping emotions in check can keep children safe.

    AMIKA GUILLAUME: If we can get kids to the point that they realize that, oh, I’m getting hotheaded, oh, my adrenaline is flowing, I am not thinking clearly, I need to stop, step back and reassess, then maybe we have a chance.

    MARQUEL COATS: And this last week, how often did you play with your friends, never, a little, sometimes?

    JEFFREY BROWN: The Stanford team is now gathering data from students about the effectiveness of the mindfulness program.

    The post Teaching students how to combat traumas of poverty on the yoga mat appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    RUSSIA-UKRAINE-POLITICS-UNREST

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    GWEN IFILL: With all eyes now on Russia, administration officials are trying to determine how far Vladimir Putin will or will not go.

    For that, we get two views, starting with Michael McFaul, who stepped down as U.S. ambassador to Russia just last week.

    Ambassador McFaul, you know Vladimir Putin or have been the senior official who’s known him the best recently. Are we misreading him? Is he a bully or a pragmatist in this?

    MICHAEL MCFAUL, Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia: Well, he’s a frustrated leader is what I — the way I would describe it.

    He had a vision for the Eurasian economic union, as he called it, where he would reunite in an economic union the former pieces of the Soviet Union, in parallel to the European Union. And he thought he had achieved a great victory last fall, when President Yanukovych of Ukraine decided not to sign up to an accession agreement with the European Union and instead to start negotiations with Russian.

    But that fell apart when President Yanukovych lost power a few weeks ago. And when I was just — I still was working with the government just last week meeting with senior Russian government officials. They were extremely frustrated with the weakness, in their view, of President Yanukovych and how he fled and why he didn’t stay to represent their interests.

    And so what I think you have seen from President Putin in Crimea is his counterpunch. It’s tactical. I don’t think he knows where he’s going with this in the endgame, but it’s a way to put on notice to the people of Ukraine and to the rest of Europe that he’s not just going to give away, in his view, Ukraine.

    GWEN IFILL: When the president says to him, as we’re told he said in their phone conversation — or at least he said today — that he’s on the wrong side of history, what leverage does the U.S. have to enforce that — that notion?

    MICHAEL MCFAUL: Well, you just heard Tony outline it. I think it was — he very eloquently outlined it.

    President Putin has made his move here, but there are now costs. The specter of the economic cost has already been seen in how people are responding in the market today in Moscow. I have lots of friends, business friends, who are panicked about this, because they have a different vision of Russia.

    They also want Russia to be a great power, but they want it to be a great economic power. They want it to be a country that’s respected in the world. I just spent — I just was in Sochi just a few days ago, and Russians were incredibly proud of the new Russia, as they called it, that was on display there. This action in Crimea is wiping all that away.

    So, I can’t predict how long and whatever. I do think it’s important to emphasize what Tony did, that right now is the moment for diplomacy. It’s still a time that can — Russia can back down, call the troops back, and let the Ukrainians decide how they should govern themselves as a sovereign country.

    But if it does go that other way, there will be costs. And this is different, therefore, than Soviet interventions in ’56 in Hungary or Czechoslovakia in ’68, when Russia was — the Soviet Union was isolated from the world economy. Now it’s integrated. That does create leverage.

    GWEN IFILL: From what we have seen over the past several days, the idea that they will simply pull back and send the troops back to the barracks seems more and more remote. What do you think are the chances that…

    MICHAEL MCFAUL: I agree.

    GWEN IFILL: … that Eastern Ukraine will become involved now?

    MICHAEL MCFAUL: Well, I agree analytically that it’s becoming more and more remote, but my diplomatic hat, I guess, from just a few days ago says that we need to use whatever chance there is to make that happen.

    With respect to the rest of the East, of course, President Putin has put everyone on notice that he will defend them from this alleged phantom threat that is there, because, of course, there has been no threat.

    And I’m worried. I will be very honest with you. I’m very worried that this could spiral out of control. The last thing that Russia needs, that Ukrainians need, that Europe needs, or the United States is armed conflict in a country of 50 million people in the heart of Europe.

    GWEN IFILL: Is there also a possibility that there it will be long-term damage to U.S.-Russia relations?

    MICHAEL MCFAUL: Without question.

    I mean, the damage is already done. We’re in a different phase already with Russia. And if it persists, yes, of course, especially if you talk about sanctions, because one thing that President Putin always emphasizes in every meeting that I have been listening to him, speaking with the president, speaking with Secretary Kerry, speaking with the vice president, is how we need to focus our attention on trade and investment between our two countries.

    This action over the last few days makes that virtually impossible to develop that dimension of our bilateral relationship.

    GWEN IFILL: OK.

    MICHAEL MCFAUL: And I think — I find that very tragic.

    GWEN IFILL: Of course, Secretary Kerry heads to the — to Kiev tomorrow.

    Ambassador Michael McFaul, thank you.

    MICHAEL MCFAUL: Thanks for having me.

    GWEN IFILL: And now we get the perspective of Stephen Cohen, a professor of Russian studies and history emeritus at New York University and Princeton University.

    What — why are — why are we in this position tonight, Professor Cohen? What is Putin’s endgame here?

    STEPHEN COHEN, New York University: I don’t know where to begin, because I have just listened to two statements of the official American position, the position about where we are today and how we got here.

    I think they’re fundamentally wrong. What we’re watching today is the worst kind of history being made, the descent of a new Cold War divide between West and East in Europe, this time not in faraway Berlin, but right on Russia’s borders through Ukraine.

    That will be instability and the prospect of war for decades to come for our kids and our grandchildren. The official version is that Putin is to blame; he did this. But it simply isn’t true. This began 20 years ago when Clinton began the movement of NATO toward Russia, a movement that’s continued.

    And even if we just go back to this November, just a few months ago, when the protesters came into the streets in Ukraine, Putin said to Europe and Washington, why are you forcing Ukraine to choose between Russia and Europe? We’re prepared with Europe to do a kind of mini-Marshall Plan to bail Ukraine out. Let’s do it together.

    And that was refused by Washington and Brussels. And that refusal led to the situation today. And one last point. The worst outcome, you asked Michael, and he didn’t say, but he said what he didn’t want. The worst outcome, because we hear this clamor in Washington and we hear it in Europe, is a movement in response to what Putin’s done in Crimea to move NATO forces to the Polish-Ukrainian border.

    We do that, Putin will certainly bring troops in from Russia itself. The troops in Crimea seem to be troops that were based at the naval base, not the troops in Russia. I’m not sure.

    STEPHEN COHEN: And then you will have a real confrontation.

    GWEN IFILL: Is this something that Putin has already made up his mind to do, or is there room for a negotiated settlement, a go-between, perhaps Angela Merkel from Germany?

    STEPHEN COHEN: Yes.

    I mean, Merkel is a key player in this, because Putin doesn’t trust Obama, doesn’t consider him a strong and resolute leader. He likes Merkel. They have got their problems. He speaks German together. They speak German together.

    But, I mean, the fundamental issue here is that, three or four years ago, Putin made absolutely clear he had two red lines. You remember Obama’s red lines in Syria. But Putin was serious. One was in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. NATO and NATO influence couldn’t come there.

    The other was in Ukraine. We crossed both. You got a war in Georgia in 2008, and you have got today in Ukraine because we, the United States and Europe, crossed Putin’s red line. Now, you can debate whether he has a right to that red line, but let’s at least discuss it. Let’s discuss it.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, that’s kind of the question. That’s kind of the question, isn’t it?

    STEPHEN COHEN: Well, let me turn it back to you, because it — what I hear is in the American commentary is, Russia has no legitimate national interests abroad, not even on its borders, as though we don’t care what happens in Canada and Mexico.

    I mean, if you come to that point — and we never said that about the Soviet Union, by the way. We recognized the Soviet Union had national interests. If the position is, there are no legitimate national security interests that Russia can defend, then we are where we are. If we acknowledge those interests, there are ways to negotiate out of this crisis, though I’m not sure Obama can do it.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, can Kerry do it?

    STEPHEN COHEN: No.

    GWEN IFILL: That’s the one who is headed tomorrow to Kiev.

    What should he be trying to do at the meeting?

    STEPHEN COHEN: Well, I don’t think Kerry is going to Kiev for the reason he’s giving. He says he’s going to find out what this so-called government in Kiev wants.

    It’s an extremist government with no constitutional or international legitimacy. It’s unelected. I think what Kerry is doing is going to Kiev to chill out that government, which has been issuing provocative anti-Russian statements. What Kerry and Obama should do is beg Merkel to keep talking to Putin, because he trusts her, for better or worse.

    GWEN IFILL: Why is any of this important to anyone who is not in Russia or Ukraine?

    STEPHEN COHEN: I told you at the top. I mean, you and I are old enough to have lived through divided Europe in Berlin.

    And we were lucky, they say, that we survived it. Now imagine that on the borders of Russia. I mean, just imagine what that means, the possibility of provocation, the possibility of misunderstanding.

    And let me mention one other thing. You want to talk about Russia’s ties to Ukraine? There is simply much more primary. Tens of millions of Russians and Ukrainians are married. They are married. They are conjugal. They have children together.

    You want to divide — put a new Iron Curtain or whatever you call it right through that biological reality? This is madness. It’s gone too far.

    GWEN IFILL: Professor Stephen Cohen of the NYU and Princeton, thank you very much.

    The post Debating how the U.S. should respond to Moscow’s military moves in Crimea appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Obama speaks on the proposal in a classroom at Powell Elementary School in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Video still by PBS NewsHour

    President Obama speaks on the proposal in a classroom at Powell Elementary School in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Video still by PBS NewsHour

    President Barack Obama unveiled a 2015 budget Tuesday that looks to expand on his second term goal of reducing economic inequality. Dubbed the “Opportunity for All” budget, Obama’s plan includes higher spending on employment and job-training programs and the elimination of some tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and corporations.

    The $3.9 trillion proposal follows on the bipartisan budget deal reached by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., last December, but includes $56 billion in additional funding to agencies, offset by $28 billion in alternative spending cuts and tax hikes to generate revenue.

    The proposed outlays are $250 billion higher than in last year’s budget. But less than a third of that new spending goes to discretionary programs, for which the president and Congress control spending levels.

    To benefit working class Americans, Obama proposes an enhanced and expanded earned-income-tax-credit (EITC), projecting it would benefit an estimated 13.5 million Americans. The budget also includes new spending for infrastructure, research and preschool programs.

    To offset the $60 billion cost of an expanded EITC, the White House has proposed eliminating two tax loopholes employed by the wealthiest Americans: the “carried interest” and “Gingrich” loopholes. Currently, hedge fund and private-equity firms can treat income from managed investments as capital gains — also known as capital interest. Instead, the budget proposes treating capital interest as ordinary income, which will raise the tax rate on billions of dollars paid out to firm managers.

    And by closing the so-called “Newt Gingrich/John Edwards” loophole, under which some self-employed individuals can avoid paying taxes on Social Security and Medicare, Obama’s budget hopes to extract more revenue from the wealthiest Americans. The White House has claimed that both of these loopholes, “do not promote work or growth.”

    Obama’s budget also pledges to reduce the deficit by lessening America’s borrowing needs. The White House projects that as a result, the deficit will fall to 1.6 percent of the economy in 2024, which would be the smallest deficit since 2007.

    The plan carries forward the economic inequality theme that Democrats are making central to this year’s midterm elections, even if Democrats are not planning to bring the proposal to the floor this year.

    Senate Democrats welcomed Obama’s budget with what National Journal describes as “an awkward embrace.” They recognize that the president’s proposal is not likely to go anywhere in Congress, and they are not eager to reopen budget negotiations after Murray and Ryan reached a spending deal in December.

    Budget Committee chair Patty Murray responded to the president’s budget release with a statement acknowledging the existing deal. “While the American people have a budget in place and the certainty they deserve that there won’t be another budget crisis through the end of 2015, we in Congress owe it to them to work together to build on that bipartisan foundation.”

    Rep. Paul Ryan dismissed Mr. Obama’s budget as a “campaign brochure” and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said it was his “most irresponsible budget yet.”

    House Republicans are expected to release their budget in the coming weeks.

    The post Obama unveils 2015 budget proposal appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    LUBIMOVKA, UKRAINE

    Soldiers under Russian command look on from a military vehicle at the Russian occupied Belbek airbase as Russian-led troops blockaded a number of Ukrainian military bases across Crimea, on March 4, 2014 in Lubimovka, Ukraine. Ukrainians troops, stationed at their garrison nearby, confronted the Russian soldiers unarmed today. The Russian-led troops fired their weapons into the air but then granted Colonel Yuli Mamchor, commander of the Ukrainian military, negotiations with their commander. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

    President Barack Obama addressed the situation in Ukraine at the end of his budget proposal talk Tuesday in Washington. Obama said that Russia’s presence would push countries further away from them and that there was an ability for Ukraine to be both a friend of the West and of Russia.


    Update 12:53 p.m. EST

    Secretary of State John Kerry speaks in Kiev on the crisis.


    Update 12:13 p.m. EST
    Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev Tuesday to show support for the new Ukrainian government, pledging $1 billion in loan guarantees and assistance.


    Update 11:09 a.m. EST

    Video by Associated Press

    Russian troops fired warning shots into the air at the Belbek air base in the Crimea region of Ukraine Tuesday as around 300 Ukrainian soldiers, demanded their jobs at the field back.


    Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Russia reserves the right to use force in Ukraine in order to protect Russian compatriots in the country. Such actions, he said however, were not yet necessary and would be a “last resort.”

    Putin, speaking for the first time on the situation since Russian forces entered the Crimean peninsula, defended the presence of troops there as a measure to defend Russia’s military installation that houses its Black Sea Fleet. Calling the collapse of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s government an “unconstitutional coup,” Putin said the further use of force in Ukraine would be allowed under international law, as Yanukovych — who Putin referred to as Ukraine’s only legitimate leader — had requested the aid.

    Putin also brushed off threats of economic sanctions from Western powers, saying such action would be “mutually harmful.”

    The post Putin defends right to use force in Ukraine, says military action would be ‘last resort’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Don't trick employers to hide who you are; that's a waste of time for you. Concentrate your efforts on showing how you will be a productive employee. Photo by KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images.

    Don’t trick employers to hide who you are; that’s a waste of time for you. Concentrate your efforts on showing how you will be a productive employee. Photo by KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images.

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

    In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards, or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


    Question: I discovered your advice columns on the PBS NewsHour site. I liked your disruptive advice so I went to your website, read several pages, signed up for the newsletter and bought “Fearless Book 3.” As an immigrant female POC [Person of Color], I think some of your advice is too much because our communities lack those ties, and the Anglo community is largely biased and resistant to sharing.

    I also think that POC would be taken to task harder if they implemented some of your more radical advice. That is, they’d be seen as scary rather than persistent. Overall, however, I did enjoy your advice and I think it would be be interesting to hear specifically from POC that followed your process, so please consider a series of posts, and please consider addressing bias and ways to overcome it. Thank you.

    Nick Corcodilos: Thanks for your note — you’re raising an important topic. I’ve grappled with questions about discrimination since I started publishing Ask The Headhunter. I think there are two clear options, and a bunch of tricks.

    The first option is to sue the company that discriminates. Like it or not, that can be costly, but it’s the main remedy available under the law. You can also file complaints with regulatory agencies. But these approaches won’t help you land a job.

    The second option is to make your value to the employer a higher priority than the company’s biases against you. This takes a bit of work, but I think it’s a better plan. I won’t get into details about how to do this here because virtually all of Ask The Headhunter addresses the “how to.”

    Option one forces the employer to comply; option two convinces the employer that hiring you is the best thing to do. Of course, success in getting hired does not mean the employer will stop discriminating otherwise.

    Then there are the tricks: Avoiding letting the employer see your skin color or guess your race until you get the interview. Coloring your hair to remove the grey. Using an initial for your first name to avoid disclosing you are female. Changing your last name to hide your origins. When you finally face a bigot in the interview, you’re still toast — except you’ve wasted your time, too. None of this will really help you.

    I don’t agree that the methods I teach are “too much” or that communities of people of color lack ties that help their members get ahead. (Don’t say, “I don’t know anybody.” That’s bunk.) Nor do I agree that the Anglo community is largely biased and resistant to sharing — that’s like saying people of color are largely one way or another. In “Fearless Job Hunting, Book 5: Get The Right Employer’s Attention” (available in the Ask The Headhunter Bookstore), there’s a section titled “Don’t walk blind on the job hunt,” where I offer this important suggestion:

    Know who you’re calling, or don’t call them. If you don’t know the person you want to call, first call someone who does and get introduced.

    I think the only way to be successful at job hunting is to take everyone and every situation individually and personally, and to make judgments and choices accordingly. Learn to live like an exception.

    Of course, discrimination is real, and so are cultural and personal attitudes. You’re showing a bit of bias against Anglos, and I’m sure some people have revealed their biases to you. I’m not in a position to change any of that, except to tell people to stop doing it.

    To me, the fundamental truth is that our society tends to favor productivity and people who can produce what others need and are willing to pay for. (See “Hiring Manager: HR is the problem, you are the solution.”) There’s nothing easy about it. You’ll be ignored and rejected even if you’re quite productive. But it’s even less likely that you’ll be hired (or start a business) and become successful if you are not highly productive.

    So learn to show how you will be productive for the employer in question. Lead with that. Don’t lead with your past; don’t lead with a chip on your shoulder. (If the chip is big, then sue the bastards.)

    Not all people start out equally in their efforts to be productive and successful. Some must surmount incredible obstacles, including racism, discrimination, sexism, ageism and more “isms” than we can count. But in the end, our society craves and rewards productivity and profit. (See “What did you pull off?”) If you can take something and add your skills, acumen, insights, hard work and persistence, you’ve got a chance at success. That’s what I try to teach with Ask The Headhunter, and it’s what we discuss on the blog every day: How to do it.

    You seem to like the ATH approach, but you doubt it can work for you and other people of color. All I can suggest is that you bend and shape some of these methods into something you think you can try on your own. This is not “all or nothing.” And your good judgment must temper it to suit your goals.

    Now let’s get to your final request: How have people of color — and people who are discriminated against for other characteristics — used Ask The Headhunter effectively? How has ATH failed them? What’s the best way to use these methods? These are questions for this community, and my guess is there are some great ideas and tips forthcoming.

    Dear readers: How have you used Ask The Headhunter to overcome discrimination? Or, maybe you tried and it didn’t work. If you’re a manager, and you’ve been a bit biased, did anyone ever overwhelm you with reasons to hire them anyway?


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

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

    Copyright © 2013 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

    The post Ask the Headhunter: How to overcome employers’ biases against you appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Sigrid Kaag, head of the joint Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations mission for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons, said the Syrian government plans to accelerate the weapons removal and destruction in order to complete the process on schedule. Photo by Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images

    Sigrid Kaag, head of the joint Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations mission for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, said the Syrian government plans to accelerate the weapons removal and destruction in order to complete the process on schedule. Photo by Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images

    The Syrian government is recovering from delays in reliquishing its chemical weapons and can still meet the deadline for their entire removal, an official said on Tuesday.

    Sigrid Kaag, who heads the joint Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations mission, said Syria agreed to a 60-day timeframe to accelerate the weapons removal and destruction. “But of course our message is always one of continued expectation to achieve more, to do more and to do it safely and securely,” she said.

    The international community is working in coordination to destroy about 1,300 metric tons of chemicals. Kaag said about one-third of the stockpile has been removed to date.

    Syria had missed deadlines in December and February to turn over its chemical weapons, including mustard gas. The country has until the end-of-June to get rid of its entire stockpile on time. Under its revised proposal, Syria would hand over all chemical weapons by the end of April to have other countries destroy them by the June deadline.

    “Given delays since the lapse of the two target dates for removal, it will be important to maintain this newly created momentum,” OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu told delegates at the group’s meeting on Tuesday.

    View all of our World coverage and follow us on Twitter.

    The post Syria speeds up chemical weapon removal to meet June deadline appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Revelers with cameras crowd Bourbon Street on February 20, 2007.

    Revelers with cameras crowd Bourbon Street on February 20, 2007. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    It was Mardi Gras 2011. Beads rained down on Claire and her friends as they pushed through the Bourbon Street crowds. Men lined the balconies with barrels of beads and women danced down the center of the boulevard. Swept up in the energy, Claire lifted her shirt.

    Claire, 24, who had driven with friends to New Orleans from her Midwestern college, became one of countless out-of-town revelers who has flashed a body part on the French Quarter streets in exchange for an important currency: beads.

    Flashing for beads is a ritual with murky roots. Exactly when it first appeared at Mardi Gras is unclear, but it is believed to have become widespread in the mid-80s. So how did this phenomenon originate? And is it simply an expression of sexual indulgence on a holiday known for the stripping away of behavioral norms, or is there more to it?

    vice-week

    A cross-section of European, African and Caribbean heritage, New Orleans has long been associated with “libertine exceptionalism,” particularly in Protestant American communities where public nudity is forbidden. Vicki Mayer, a communications professor at Tulane University, writes that tourists can experience the “primitive and exotic within this space that is neither the U.S. nor the Caribbean.”

    New Orleans Mardi Gras rituals like flashing may offer tourists, especially women, a reprieve from the repression they face at home, according to Robin Milhausen, associate professor at the University of Guelph, who has studied sexual behavior among tourists at Mardi Gras.

    “Society regulates our behavior so thoroughly, in so many contexts, that it’s wonderful that we have a place where we can express ourselves and be more free than we normally would be able to be in our day-to-day life,” Milhausen said. “So I guess it’s a consequence of how our society is generally around sexuality that these little pockets spring up where people can skirt all of the normal rules.”

    For Claire, who asked that her last name not be used, this theory rings true.

    “Needless to say, not much compares to the feeling of being able to let go like that, knowing there won’t be any consequence to showing the world my body,” she said.

    (Note: Louisiana state law prohibits exposure “with the intent of arousing sexual desire or that which appeals to prurient interest or is patently offensive.” However, on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras, officers tend to prioritize crowd control.)

    Back in the mid-90s, Wesley Shrum, sociology professor at Louisiana State University, took an academic look at flashing for beads, which he considers a “ceremonial ritual.” Shrum and fellow researcher John Kilburn filmed 700 instances of disrobement from three camera locations, and then observed how revelers used the beads to negotiate. The ritual, they concluded, was less about the debauchery, or even the nudity, than it was a celebration of the free market economy.

    “That’s what ceremonies like Mardi Gras do. They allow you to take something that’s important in your lives and to transform it into a symbolic version of that same thing,” Shrum said. “As Americans and in Western societies generally, the market is not just one way of organizing yourself — it’s more than that. Its something that we feel is good and right and magical.”

    Like money, Mardi Gras beads come in different denominations, he pointed out: They range in size, color and degree of elaboration. Shrum compared the circulation of a $5 bill to the journey of a single Mardi Gras bead:

    “Guys, especially, will go down Bourbon Street during the day, and they’ll drop their trousers, and they’ll get girls on the balcony throwing them beads, and so they’ll accumulate a bunch of good beads,” explained Shrum. “And then at night, they’ll be throwing those beads up to the balcony to get girls to show their breasts. So the beads themselves circulate.”

    He says the practice has numerous origins. Among them, a group of nudists at a 1975 festival who held up signs offering to bare one body part in exchange for another, and later incorporated beads into the mix.

    Mayer has another explanation. She links flashing for beads to the rise of soft-core porn like “Girls Gone Wild” — the video series featuring mainly college-age women exposing themselves and kissing in public at Mardi Gras and other “Spring Break” locations.

    According to Mayer, the earliest videographers of such films made a conscious decision in the 1980s to take the beads from the local parades on St. Charles Ave., and bring them into the French Quarter to exchange for the nudity already prevalent among exotic dancers. “[The cameramen] looked like walking shopping malls — just covered in hundreds of beads,” Mayer said.

    She argues in a 2007 article on the subject that these videos commodify and distort female nudity.

    Close-ups of breasts, butts and vaginas replace the complete female form in these soft-core Mardi Gras videos, Mayer writes. The technique of zooming in on these parts, she says, “reduces the distance between the spectator and the sex object to its limits. Through these close-ups, Mardi Gras becomes a production site of the grotesque, as ordinary bodies are made extraordinary through their manipulation by camera technology.”

    As for the revelers, many of them shrug off the scholarly explanations.

    “It is exhilarating.” Claire said. “I didn’t really want a reward for it. I didn’t want to be that typecast girl that wants to collect shiny things. It was just my way of being on parade that year.”

    The post Stripping off inhibitions in the ‘free market’ of Mardi Gras appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    putin-ukraine

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The president of Russia spoke out today on the Ukraine crisis, for the first time since effectively taking over Crimea.

    Vladimir Putin alternately defended his country’s actions, and tried to ease international concerns on a day of conflicting signals.

    In Crimea, Russian forces occupying an air base fired warning shots today to disperse unarmed Ukrainian servicemen. In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the situation is gradually stabilizing. He insisted that local self-defense forces, not Russian troops, had seized Ukrainian bases. And he announced an end to military exercises in Western Russia.

    Still, he insisted his government reserves the right to use force to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine.

    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter): If we see that lawlessness starting in the eastern regions too, if people ask us for help, we reserve the right to use all options at our disposal to protect those citizens.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On politics, the Russian leader said Viktor Yanukovych is the legitimate president of Ukraine, but acknowledged he has no political future. And Putin suggested Moscow might reject the results of any new elections.

    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, (through interpreter): It depends on how they will be held. If they are held in the same terror that we see now in Kiev, then we won’t recognize.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Washington, President Obama flatly rejected Putin’s justifications for Russia’s actions.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: President Putin seems to have different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations. But I don’t think that’s fooling anybody. I think everybody recognizes that, although Russia has legitimate interests in what happens in a neighboring state, that doesn’t give it the right to use force as a means of exerting influence inside of that state.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Ukraine’s new prime minister, speaking in Kiev, also demanded the Russians back off, while announcing the two sides are now talking.

    ARSENIY YATSENYUK, Prime Minister, Ukraine (through interpreter): We are once again calling on Russia to stop military aggression on the territory of Ukraine. Ukraine is ready to renew and moderate a new style of relations. We have begun consultations at the ministerial level between the governments of Ukraine and Russia.

    PROTESTERS: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All of this as Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev’s foggy Independence Square, paying tribute to protesters who died in sniper attacks. He condemned what he called Russia’s act of aggression.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: It is not appropriate to invade a country and, at the end of a barrel of a gun, dictate what you are trying to achieve.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Kerry also met with Ukraine’s interim leaders, and announced a $1 billion economic package for the new government.

    Meanwhile, there was more talk in the West of imposing sanctions on Russia, even as Moscow warned it would retaliate.

    Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke during a visit to Tunisia.

    SERGEI LAVROV, Foreign Minister, Russia (through interpreter): On our sanctions, we have always opposed unilateral sanctions. They never lead to anything good, and I hope that our partners understand that this is counterproductive to political activity.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Russia did agree to meet with NATO representatives tomorrow to discuss Ukraine. And Russian and world markets rose on those developments and Putin’s words.

    The post Putin insists Russia will reserve the right to use force in Ukraine appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Amid the tensions over Ukraine, Russia announced today that it successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile. It said the dummy warhead hit its target at a proving ground in Kazakstan. We will hear much more on the day’s developments right after the news summary.

    Wall Street did rebound today as jitters over Ukraine eased. The Dow Jones industrial average gained almost 228 points to close near 16,396. The Nasdaq rose 74 points to close just short of 4,352. And the Standard & Poor’s 500 was up 28 points to finish near 1,874.

    President Obama has rolled out his budget proposal for the next fiscal year, totaling almost $4 trillion. It includes new tax hikes to offset additional spending for education and job training. But Republicans say it does nothing to address the nation’s fiscal challenges. We will discuss its approach to helping low-income Americans later in the program.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is warning the U.S. and the world against letting Iran go ahead with any part of its nuclear program. He spoke in Washington, a day after meeting with President Obama.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel: The leading powers of the world are talking about leaving Iran with the capability to enrich uranium. I hope they don’t do that because, that would be a grave error. It would leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Netanyahu also said that, far from easing sanctions on Iran, the world should increase them. He also urged the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state if they really want peace.

    The process of removing Syria’s chemical weapons is picking up pace. The Dutch diplomat overseeing the operation said today the Assad regime has handed over six shipments of toxic agents. She spoke in Amsterdam, at the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

    SIGRID KAAG, The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons: The Syrian authorities have revised — submitted a revised plan with a timetable of around 60 days in order to accelerate and to intensify their efforts to ensure timely removal for onward destruction. As of today, nearly one-third of Syria’s chemical weapons material has been removed or destroyed inside of the country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sigrid Kaag said it’s still possible to finish destroying all of the material by the end of June, under a U.N. agreement.

    The court-martial of a U.S. Army general for sexual assault opened today at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Brigadier General Jeffrey A. Sinclair is believed to be the most senior officer ever to face trial for sexual assault. He’s charged with forcing a female captain to perform sex acts. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

    A deep freeze gripped the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and parts of the Southern United States today. Temperatures hit the single digits, with some areas reporting record lows for the month of March. Schools and government offices up and down the East Coast remained closed or delayed for another day. The arctic chill also triggered a rare sight: Parts of the cascading waters at Niagara Falls, between the U.S. and Canada, froze over.

    Brazil’s Carnival season came to a close today after days of extravagant parades and celebrations. In Rio de Janeiro, costumed performers danced below massive floats through Monday night and well into this morning.

    Meanwhile, in New Orleans, Mardi Gras was a cold, wet, gray day, but revelers gathered in the French Quarter just the same.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Russia did agree to meet with NATO representatives tomorrow to discuss Ukraine. And Russian and world markets rose on those developments and Putin’s words.

    Amid the tensions over Ukraine, Russia announced today that it successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile. It said the dummy warhead hit its target at a proving ground in Kazakstan. We will hear much more on the day’s developments right after the news summary.

    Wall Street did rebound today as jitters over Ukraine eased. The Dow Jones industrial average gained almost 228 points to close near 16,396. The Nasdaq rose 74 points to close just short of 4,352. And the Standard & Poor’s 500 was up 28 points to finish near 1,874.

    President Obama has rolled out his budget proposal for the next fiscal year, totaling almost $4 trillion. It includes new tax hikes to offset additional spending for education and job training. But Republicans say it does nothing to address the nation’s fiscal challenges. We will discuss its approach to helping low-income Americans later in the program.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is warning the U.S. and the world against letting Iran go ahead with any part of its nuclear program. He spoke in Washington, a day after meeting with President Obama.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel: The leading powers of the world are talking about leaving Iran with the capability to enrich uranium. I hope they don’t do that because, that would be a grave error. It would leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Netanyahu also said that, far from easing sanctions on Iran, the world should increase them. He also urged the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state if they really want peace.

    The process of removing Syria’s chemical weapons is picking up pace. The Dutch diplomat overseeing the operation said today the Assad regime has handed over six shipments of toxic agents. She spoke in Amsterdam, at the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

    SIGRID KAAG, The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons: The Syrian authorities have revised — submitted a revised plan with a timetable of around 60 days in order to accelerate and to intensify their efforts to ensure timely removal for onward destruction. As of today, nearly one-third of Syria’s chemical weapons material has been removed or destroyed inside of the country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sigrid Kaag said it’s still possible to finish destroying all of the material by the end of June, under a U.N. agreement.

    The court-martial of a U.S. Army general for sexual assault opened today at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Brigadier General Jeffrey A. Sinclair is believed to be the most senior officer ever to face trial for sexual assault. He’s charged with forcing a female captain to perform sex acts. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

    A deep freeze gripped the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and parts of the Southern United States today. Temperatures hit the single digits, with some areas reporting record lows for the month of March. Schools and government offices up and down the East Coast remained closed or delayed for another day. The arctic chill also triggered a rare sight: Parts of the cascading waters at Niagara Falls, between the U.S. and Canada, froze over.

    Brazil’s Carnival season came to a close today after days of extravagant parades and celebrations. In Rio de Janeiro, costumed performers danced below massive floats through Monday night and well into this morning.

    Meanwhile, in New Orleans, Mardi Gras was a cold, wet, gray day, but revelers gathered in the French Quarter just the same.

    The post News Wrap: Netanyahu says sanctions on Iran should be increased appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Concerns Grow In Ukraine Over Pro Russian Demonstrations In The Crimea Region

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: The standoff in Ukraine and the tension it has triggered between the U.S. and Russia has become the central foreign policy challenge in Washington, in Moscow and in European capitals.

    Here to take us behind the scenes, chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner.

    Margaret, welcome again.

    So, this war of words we saw amped up today, especially between John Kerry, the president spoke, and especially Vladimir Putin, what does it signal?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, I can tell you what the administration thought Putin had to say signaled, on the one hand — and the press reports really emphasize — his tough talk about how Russia had a right to go into Ukraine to protect Russians and they also felt he was out of touch with reality, as many have said, in terms of denying that Russian troops are there.

    On the other hand, as they read underneath the bluster, they did see a couple of glimmers of encouragement. One, he talked about elections coming up in May, which is what the U.S. is talking about. Two, he — though he said Yanukovych was the legit president, he also admitted that Yanukovych had walked away from power and said he told him on the phone the other day you will never win another election.

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    MARGARET WARNER: And…

    GWEN IFILL: Seemed to be in conflict.

    MARGARET WARNER: In conflict.

    And then he also talked about wanting to engage, though apparently last night, when there was a meeting between the Russian and German foreign ministers, Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, had no give, no interest in any — taking any real steps to start the Russians and Ukrainians talking.

    GWEN IFILL: There’s been a lot of discussion in this country about sanctions. This is something the president or Secretary Kerry mentioned every single time. Secretary Kerry showed up with a billion dollars in loan guarantees today. Are those sanctions moving any closer to reality?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, they are, Gwen.

    In fact, an official traveling with Secretary Kerry talked about the fact that there could be something coming as early as late next week. This week, I talked to Senator Corker — an aide to Senator Corker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today. There’s a movement on the Hill to impose some sort of sanctions, though they’re trying to work with the administration on that.

    The most interesting word I heard on sanctions came actually from German officials today, who said despite all the stories about how Chancellor Merkel is more reluctant on sanctions than some of the Europeans, they said the E.U. has this foreign ministers summit — in fact, heads of state summit on Thursday, and if there is no movement, if there is no change from Putin, sanctions will be on the table.

    So I think the administration would like to have the Europeans have a concerted front, not, one, because they’re more effective, economic sanctions are, but, two, also for the political signal it sends.

    GWEN IFILL: Are the Europeans in lock step with the U.S. on these kinds of things?

    MARGARET WARNER: No, no, quite to the contrary.

    I mean, as we know, the — Europe has much closer trade ties, they are more dependent for energy on Russia. Russia is a very near neighbor, if not a direct neighbor. It’s — one — one European official said to me today, it’s a little different for you all sitting in the U.S. Russia doesn’t really look like a direct threat. But if you’re in this neighborhood, you know, there are both positive benefits to engaging with Russia and there’s also the hostility that exists there.

    So, no, they’re not on the same page. But I heard Secretary Kerry say today he was quite sure they would work it together, in other words, that they would be in agreement. Now, what we don’t know is, does that mean the administration thinks they can bring the Europeans along to where they are?

    Or does it mean that President Obama is willing to slow his pace down to stick with the Europeans?

    GWEN IFILL: How much of this is — you alluded to this in the answer to the first question. How much does this depend on their confidence in Putin’s motives, whether they truly believe, as Merkel has been quoted as saying, that he has lost it?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, the German officials wouldn’t confirm that he used — she used those words, but said that does reflect the German view, and, in fact, it was obvious from what Putin said today.

    American officials, when I say, well, how do you read Putin, I mostly hear sighs.

    GWEN IFILL: Sighs?

    MARGARET WARNER: Like, we can’t read Putin, and — other than knowing he’s an ultranationalist who wants to retain or in fact enlarge the Russian sphere of influence in his neighborhood.

    They really don’t know how to read him, and they have given up. What is concerning to them and also to Europeans is, he has the bit between his teeth on this issue. So, for example, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, on whom Secretary Kerry has spent a lot of time developing a relationship with on Iran, on Syria to some limited degree, they’re supposed to meet tomorrow, though that’s not 100 percent set, in Europe.

    They — there is a concern in the administration that Lavrov may not have much room to maneuver. This is Putin’s baby. And I heard that also from Europeans today.

    GWEN IFILL: Is the — how far is the U.S. in particular prepared to push on this?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, see, that is the question.

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    MARGARET WARNER: Is — let’s say — and this is a hypothetical, so I couldn’t get anyone to engage on it. Let’s say Putin basically says, look, I’m not going to move into Southeastern Ukraine, short of some incredible provocation, which he sort of hinted that today, but he — he retains the status quo in Crimea, in which the Russian troops, he may call them irregulars, but there are Russian troops outside of those bases that they’re allowed to under treaty.

    Does the world say, well, Crimea used to belong to Russia and it’s sort of a de facto — it’s happened and we have to accept it, or does the United States and the Europeans continue to then say, well, we are — we’re not going to send troops in, but we’re going to exact a price? And I think that remains to be decided.

    GWEN IFILL: Margaret Warner, thanks so much. So many questions to answer.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: Among them, is this — is this a standoff the U.S. should have seen coming? And what are the options now?

    For that, we get two views. John Mearsheimer is a professor at the University of Chicago and has written extensively on strategic issues. And Amy Knight has authored several books about Russian politics and history. She also writes for “The New York Review of Books.”

    Welcome to you both.

    Now, John Mearsheimer, as you see it now, what are the options that are available for the U.S. or Europe or Russia?

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER, University of Chicago: Well, the fact is that we have remarkably few options.

    We have no military option at all. Even John McCain and almost every hawk has said that there’s no military option here. And when you look at the economic options, they do not look attractive at all either. People talk about sanctions. I think it’s going to be very difficult to get the Europeans to go along with meaningful sanctions.

    And even if they do go along with meaningful sanctions, the fact is that the Russians have ways of countering us. The Russians will put enormous pressure on Ukraine, and they will even put pressure on the Europeans. They have a second strike, so to speak, here. So we don’t have really good options, which is why we should have never gotten into this mess to begin with.

    GWEN IFILL: Amy Knight, what is your take on that?

    AMY KNIGHT, Author, “How the Cold War Began”: Well, I think clearly the U.S. is in a difficult position. And I do agree that we can’t count on the Europeans to back all the economic sanctions.

    But, nonetheless, I think that Putin and his colleagues in the Kremlin probably are nervous about the possibility of having visas denied to Russian businessmen, possibly having assets frozen. And I think another thing is, Putin showed by the effort that Russia put into the Olympics — they spent over $50 billion — that they — that the image of Russia and of Putin himself in the West was very important, and now that is pretty much gone down the drain because of this recent incursion into Crimea.

    GWEN IFILL: John Mearsheimer, as you look into this situation as it’s unfolding today, we heard John Kerry use the word de-escalate. Is it too late too late for that?

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER: No, I don’t think it’s too late at all.

    And, in fact, I think everybody has a deep-seated interest in trying to de-escalate this crisis and go back to the status quo ante. We certainly don’t want a war and we don’t want to see Ukraine partitioned or anything like that. What we would like to do is have an election this coming May in that country, get a government in place that is neither anti-Russian or terribly pro-Russian, and create a situation where we don’t have any significant differences with the Russians over Ukraine.

    And I think, in addition to that, what we also have to do is, we have to stop talking about NATO expansion. I think it’s an important backdrop to this whole crisis. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States and the West Europeans have been pushing NATO further and further eastward, and this just drives the Russians crazy. It’s what precipitated, in my opinion, the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia.

    And I think what’s going on here is that the Russians are basically saying — and here we’re talking about Putin — that there’s no way that they’re going to tolerate a situation where the United States installs a pro-Western regime in Ukraine and then eventually brings Ukraine into NATO. This is simply unacceptable.

    GWEN IFILL: That’s a basic question, Amy Knight. Has the U.S. miscalculated, overreached in supporting NATO expansion and Ukrainian independence?

    AMY KNIGHT: Well, I don’t think so, particularly with regard to Ukraine. I don’t think the U.S. installed a government in Ukraine.

    Ukrainians were very emphatic that they were unhappy with the Yanukovych government. It’s terribly — it was terribly corrupt. And they — a good number of Ukrainians wanted tighter ties, economic ties with Europe. So I don’t think the U.S. can be blamed for that.

    And I think that Russia and the Kremlin really underestimated the reaction that would come from their moving into Crimea. I don’t think it was such a wise thing, even though it’s quite clear that Putin’s motivation was to show that Russia doesn’t tolerate easily what it perceives of as the West and the U.S. in particular trying to influence events in states that were formerly a part of the Soviet Union.

    GWEN IFILL: Most Americans, John Mearsheimer, who were watching the Olympics and the shiny Sochi spectacle only a few weeks ago are puzzled that Putin would make this effort to tarnish his reputation so quickly. Is there something behind this that made this inevitable?

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER: Well, it’s not only most Americans who have been shocked by what has happened. It’s quite clear that the White House and most experts in Washington have been shocked.

    I don’t understand why they have been shocked. The fact is that Putin and the Russians more generally have made it clear that they will not tolerate on their borders a Ukraine or a Georgia that is pro-Western and is leaning towards joining NATO. They’re very clear on this. And we didn’t, by ourselves, engineer the coup in Kiev, that’s for sure, but there’s no question that the Americans — the Americans were giving encouragement to the rebellious forces, and that helped topple the government.

    And from a Russian point of view, this is simply unacceptable. Ukraine is a core strategic interest, and the fact that most Americans don’t understand that is amazing to me.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me ask you this, Amy Knight. Is it too late at this point, if there is de-escalation that is possible, is it too late to return to some sort of status quo place for Ukraine, where, indeed, Vladimir Putin steps back, a new government is in place, and we go back to where we were before this latest hostility?

    AMY KNIGHT: Well, I’m not sure whether it’s possible in the near future to have Russia withdraw its troops from — that were brought in recently to Crimea.

    But it seemed pretty clear to me from Putin’s press conference that he is clearly backing down from the idea of further incursions in Eastern Ukraine, for example. And I think that’s really been the main concern of the U.S. and its European allies. That would — would really start a bloodbath and a civil war. And I think, right now, for the time being, we can be pretty much assured that Russia won’t be taking those kind of steps.

    When and if it will be for conciliatory and step out of Crimea, that’s another question, and I think, as we see, nobody really knows whether that’s going to happen or not and how far the United States will press Russia in that direction.

    GWEN IFILL: Amy Knight, John Mearsheimer, thank you both so much for your insights.

    AMY KNIGHT: Thank you.

    The post Reviewing U.S. options for responding to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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