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

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    A U.S. Geological Survey simulation shows how quickly the Washington landslide liquefied.

    The U.S. Geological Survey released a computer simulation Thursday of the mile-wideWashington state mudslide, which left dozens dead and devastated at least 30 houses in March.

    In USGS’ simulation, an entire hillside near the town of Oso, Wash. collapses as about 10 million cubic yards of mud, trees and other debris slide down the slope and cover a neighborhood and parts of State Route 530 in 60 seconds.

    Scientists estimate that the landslide was traveling as fast as 60 mph when it reached the Stillaguamish River, The Seattle Times reports.

    As of Wednesday evening, Snohomish County officials confirmed 36 dead, 32 of which have yet to be identified. Ten people remain missing.

    The post USGS simulation shows how quickly the Washington landslide liquefied appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newswrap

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: A wave of selling hit Wall Street today. Technology and biotech stocks were especially hard-hit. The Nasdaq fell more than 129 points to close at 4,054, its worst day since November 2011. The Dow Jones industrials — industrial average lost nearly 267 points to close at 16,170. And the S&P 500 was down 39 at 1,833. The drop came despite a report that new claims for jobless benefits are now the lowest in nearly seven years.

    A federal judge in New York has sentenced SAC Capital in a major insider trading case. The hedge fund will pay a record fine as part of a plea deal totaling $1.8 billion. Eight SAC employees have already been convicted of insider trading, but founder and owner Steven Cohen has not been charged.

    Investigators in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, tried today to understand why a teenager stabbed 21 people at his high school. Sixteen-year-old Alex Hribal was tackled and arrested after yesterday’s attack. He faces multiple counts of attempted murder and aggravated assault.

    Today, one of the victims, Brett Hurt, told of being knifed in the back as he walked with a friend.

    BRETT HURT, Stabbing Victim: There were so many people in the hallways, and then when someone said they saw blood or something, everyone just started screaming. And that — but when I got hit, everyone noticed and just started running in different directions. Gracey was screaming and asking me if I was all right, and I was just trying to keep pressure on my back and take me into a safe room.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The defense lawyer for Alex Hribal said he had no history of mental illness and that the attack seemed to come out of nowhere. Three of the wounded remain in critical condition.

    Searchers looking for the missing Malaysian airliner are now analyzing a possible fifth underwater ping. The Australian air force detected the sound today using sonar buoys in a section of the Indian Ocean that’s about the size of Los Angeles.

    In Perth, Australia, the head of the search effort said they’re listening for more pings before sending down a robotic vehicle.

    ANGUS HOUSTON, Air Chief Marshall, Search Coordinator: Bear in mind that the time spent on the surface, we’re covering six times more area in any given time than we will be able to do when we go underwater. So, with the batteries likely to fade or fail very shortly, we need to get as much positional data as we can, so that we can define a very small search area.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The hunt for debris on the surface has already narrowed to just over 22,000 square miles. That’s about a quarter of the previous search area.

    The United Nations Security Council is ready to send close to 12,000 peacekeepers to the Central African Republic. Today’s council vote means the U.N. force will take over from 5,000 African Union troops in September. The mission is to quell violence between Christians and Muslims across the country.

    NATO warned Russia today to pull back its 40,000 troops along the border with Ukraine. Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen spoke in Prague and said any further Russian intervention could have grave consequences.

    ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, Secretary-General, NATO: You have a choice to stop blaming others for your own actions, to stop massing your troops, to stop escalating this crisis and start engaging in a genuine dialogue.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Rasmussen also said NATO is considering its own deployments within Eastern Europe. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shot back that even talking of deploying troops near Russia is a violation of existing agreements.

    Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued his own warning over natural gas. He said Ukraine must start paying in advance or deliveries may be halted.

    In Washington, there’s word that enrollment under the new health care law has now hit 7.5 million. The announcement today is an increase from 7.1 million last week. Open enrollment officially ended March 31, but many people were given extra time.

    House Republicans have pushed through a nonbinding budget that promises to wipe out deficits in 10 years. Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan wrote the plan, including large cuts in health programs, food stamps and grants for college students.

    REP. PAUL RYAN, R, Chair, House Budget Committee: We are offering a balanced budget that pays down the debt. We are offering patient-centered solutions.

    (APPLAUSE)

    REP. PAUL RYAN:
    We are offering patient-centered solutions so patients are the nucleus of the health care system, not the government. We’re offering a plan to save Medicare now and for future generations.

    (APPLAUSE)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Democrats decried the bill, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at her weekly briefing.

    REP. NANCY PELOSI, D, Calif., Minority Leader, House Minority Leader: The persistence of Ryan in doubling down and making matters worse with the budget he has now make it totally a moral imperative for us to make that fight the center stage.

    We — we always talk about jobs, but seeing it through the prism of what the Ryan budget does, it’s not, as I said, a path to prosperity. It’s a road to recession.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The bill is not expected to advance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

    You can pencil in a new host for “The Late Show” on CBS. The network named Stephen Colbert today to take over when David Letterman retires sometime next year. Colbert has done a parody of a conservative talk show host on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” since 2005.

    The post News Wrap: Hedge fund SAC Capital to pay $1.8 billion in plea deal for insider trading appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    lbj

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    GWEN IFILL: Now, a key moment in the fight for equality that still resonates half-a-century later.

    FMR. PRESIDENT LYNDON JOHNSON: Let us lay aside irrelevant differences and make our nation whole.

    (APPLAUSE)

    GWEN IFILL: President Lyndon Johnson speaking as he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.

    The landmark legislation outlawed discrimination based on race, ethnicity and sex. Today, at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, Georgia Congressman John Lewis, one of the surviving heroes of that era, said, the presidential pen strokes on that July day, nearly 50 years ago, changed everything.

    REP. JOHN LEWIS, D-Ga.: Without the leadership of President Lyndon Johnson and involvement of hundreds and thousands and millions of people in the civil rights movement, there would be no President Jimmy Carter, no President Bill Clinton, no President Barack Obama.

    Lyndon Johnson, using his skills and his power, made this possible. When people say nothing had changed, I say come and walk in my shoes, and I will show you change.

    (APPLAUSE)

    GWEN IFILL: Just getting the bill passed was a momentous struggle. President John F. Kennedy proposed it the summer before his assassination. It didn’t become law until the following year, in 1964, when Johnson and a bipartisan group of lawmakers overcame what turned into a two-month Senate filibuster led by Southern Democrats.

    In the decades since, that part of his legacy has often been overshadowed by the Vietnam War, but this week’s anniversary summit at the Johnson Library sought to change that.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Because I have lived out the promise of LBJ’s efforts.

    GWEN IFILL: In his keynote address today, President Obama’s remarks turned personal.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Because of the civil rights movement, because of the laws President Johnson signed, new doors of opportunity and education swung open for everybody. They swung open for you, and they swung open for me.

    (APPLAUSE)

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: That’s why I’m standing here today, because of those efforts, because of that legacy.

    (APPLAUSE)

    GWEN IFILL: Mr. Obama was one of four living presidents to address the three-day summit and praise the Texas Democrat who fought his own party.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And he knew that he had a unique capacity, as the most powerful white politician from the South, to not merely challenge the convention that had crushed the dreams of so many, but to ultimately dismantle for good the structures of legal segregation. He’s the only guy who could do it. And he knew there would be a cost, famously saying the Democratic Party may have lost the South for a generation.

    GWEN IFILL: The president wasn’t the only one to caution that challenges remain.

    Former President Jimmy Carter spoke Tuesday.

    FMR. PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: We kind of accept self-congratulations about the wonderful 50th anniversary, which is — which is wonderful, but we feel like, you know, Lyndon Johnson did it; we don’t have to do anything anymore.

    GWEN IFILL: Former President Bill Clinton took on voting rights, criticizing last year’s Supreme Court decision that allowed states to impose new restrictions without federal approval.

    FMR. PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: And all of a sudden, there are all these new barriers to voting to make it harder to vote. Is this what Martin Luther King gave his life for? Is this what Lyndon Johnson employed his legendary skills for?

    GWEN IFILL: Former President George W. Bush, addressing the crowd this evening, is the summit’s final speaker.

    The post 50 years on, honoring the Southern Democrat who spearheaded the Civil Rights Act appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    On Thursday’s program, PBS NewsHour Co-Anchor Judy Woodruff talks with Gordon Brown, the former U.K. prime minister who is now the United Nation’s special envoy for global education. Brown was in Washington, D.C. to announce an international campaign to get 57 million more children into school by 2015.

    After discussing that initiative, Woodruff and Brown turned to efforts to educate nearly 500,000 of the 3 million Syrian children displaced by that country’s on-going civil war. Brown is seeking funds to support a program in Lebanon where refugee students share existing schools with local children.

    Brown believes the plan could revolutionize education for refugees around the world. A 2011 United Nations study estimated 76 percent of elementary school-aged refugees and only 36 percent of secondary school-aged refugees attend school.

    The post Gordon Brown plans to send 400,000 Syrian refugee children back to school appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    276-10-WH64

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    GWEN IFILL: Earlier this week, I traveled to the site of the summit for this conversation.

    We are joined now at KLRU studios in Austin, Texas, by four guests who bring different perspectives to the upcoming anniversary.

    Shirley Franklin, former two-term mayor of Atlanta, was the first African-American woman to be elected mayor of a major Southern city. She is the Barbara Jordan visiting professor of ethics and political values at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Robert Kimball is the former legislative aide to Republican Congressman John Lindsay of New York. As director of the Republican Legislative Research Association, he served as the chief aide to the House Republican leaders in the lead-up to the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

    Ranjana Natarajan is director of the Civil Rights Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law. And Lynda Bird Johnson Robb is the daughter of President Lyndon Johnson and board director of the LBJ Foundation.

    Welcome to you all.

    Lynda Johnson Robb, was the Civil Rights Act your father’s most significant achievement as president?

    LYNDA BIRD JOHNSON ROBB, Daughter of President Lyndon Johnson: Well, I would have to say all of the civil rights acts, because there were three, and even, say, the Immigration Act, which I think also is a civil rights act, maybe on a global perspective, that he cared very, very much about it.

    He wanted to emancipate the whites as much as people of color, because he knew how, particularly in the South, but not only in the South, we were so restricted. And he wanted everybody to live up to the best that God gave them and use those tools of education and have good health care, to be able to do the things to make America great.

    GWEN IFILL: I know, 50 years later here in Austin, one of the concerns of the LBJ Library is to try to reorder people’s memories of your father’s term in office. And do you wonder that Vietnam in many ways overshadowed that?

    LYNDA BIRD JOHNSON ROBB: No question about it.

    He hated the war. He hated having anybody put in harm away. But he believed that what we were doing is what we had to do for our commitments with SEATO, for many reasons. And he was carrying forth a policy that he had inherited. And he tried and got us to the peace table in 1968.

    And then, as you know, the South Vietnamese were told that they could get a better deal under Richard Nixon, and they left the peace table.

    GWEN IFILL: So much drama involving Vietnam, so much drama involving the Civil Rights Act.

    Robert Kimball, you were 24 years old…

    ROBERT KIMBALL, Former House Republican Aide: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: … an aide to John Lindsay, who went on to become mayor of New York, but at the time was a Republican congressman from New York.

    People don’t remember that what happened in the House Republican Caucus determined the outcome of this act in many ways.

    ROBERT KIMBALL: The Republicans played a crucial role. And it’s hard to believe today. But they were positive. They worked very closely with the administration, and we participated in the negotiations that led to the compromise three weeks before Kennedy’s death.

    GWEN IFILL: What’s interesting to me is that in some ways the people who drove this act, a Southern president, and Republicans in the House and ultimately the Senate, wrote this, and it is counterintuitive to the politics we understand now.

    ROBERT KIMBALL: Yes, it’s very…

    GWEN IFILL: So, how did it happen?

    ROBERT KIMBALL: First of all, there were many more moderate and liberal Republicans back then. The Democratic Party still was split.

    You had the Southern group, who were going to vote against the bill, and the Northern people who would support it. And we needed a coalition between both parties. We all knew that. And we knew also that it had to be a massive coalition, and not just a one-vote victory. So we strove for that. And it was passed through the House at 290-130, which is a big margin. And that was very important for the future of it.

    GWEN IFILL: And in the Senate, that was — those were the days when a filibuster was a real filibuster.

    ROBERT KIMBALL: It was a real filibuster.

    GWEN IFILL: How long did that go on?

    ROBERT KIMBALL: Several months.

    GWEN IFILL: Several months, and finally passage.

    So I want to ask Shirley Franklin, at that period of time, you were obviously just a gleam.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: But enough to be aware of who the sung and the unsung heroes were at that period of time then, in a sense.

    SHIRLEY FRANKLIN, Former Mayor, Atlanta: Well, I went to college in ’63.

    And I was in Washington, D.C., at Howard University. So I was very much aware of what was going on in terms of the debate. There were students who were organizing across the South, white and black students. And some of my classmates were actually some of the organizers of SNCC.

    I was curious, but not brave enough to join, and really didn’t have any idea how fast the changes would come to America from that period, but was really proud of the country for — and the president for stepping up.

    GWEN IFILL: There is so much conversation as we look back about the heroic members of Congress and people in the White House who drove this. But there were a lot — you mentioned SNCC. You mentioned the civil rights organizations. They were almost on the sidelines in some way in argument, in this discussion.

    SHIRLEY FRANKLIN: Well, they may have been on the sidelines in a way, but they were very much active in the streets, the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the march from Selma to Montgomery.

    I recently went to the 49th Bridge Crossing, and it’s just as inspirational today, not nearly as dangerous as it was in the ’60s. But there was a lot of activity in the streets and the churches. It wasn’t unusual for the minister in my church to talk about the civil rights movement as part of his sermon and for there to be dinner table conversation about it.

    And so I would say that most of us who were young people were included, because we were included in the so-called adult conversations at one level. And then, in college and in high school, there was lots and lots of discussion.

    GWEN IFILL: And in a place like Atlanta, changing public accommodation laws had an immediate impact.

    SHIRLEY FRANKLIN: Absolutely. And my generation of young people in the South grew up in the segregated South, something that I didn’t experience, but everyone almost 70, between 60s and 70s, had that direct experience.

    And it’s really hard to talk about that today to young people because they can’t imagine there were places had in Atlanta you couldn’t go or shop or try on clothes or colleges and universities. And I talk about that at the University of Texas as well. I mean, Barbara Jordan wasn’t able to come to University of Texas at that point. And so there was a huge change in American culture, as well as in the law.

    GWEN IFILL: Ranjana Natarajan, there was an immediate effect of the Civil Rights Act and then there was an eventual affect. How would you measure those two?

    RANJANA NATARAJAN, University of Texas School of Law: I think the Civil Rights Act was a tremendous achievement. And what it did was, it dismantled the racial hierarchy that had existed through slavery, through Jim Crow.

    It is undoubtedly not just one of the hallmark pieces of legislation, but arguably one of the most constitutional moments of our nation’s history, because it made the 14th Amendment whole again. It made it vibrant.

    In terms of its eventual legacy, I think, of course, in addition to eliminating racial hierarchy, it set the stage for a truly integrated society. And there’s obviously progress that we have made, and a lot of progress that we still have left to make on that front. So we find that there are racial disparities, ethnic disparities still in many areas of life.

    And many children in our country still grow up today, and maybe college or their first job is the first time that they interact with people of another race. And so, with respect to integration, we still have a long way to go.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, you know, Lynda Johnson Robb was saying this wasn’t only a civil rights bill, but there were a series of them. Do you think that then what happened was, we began to see fallout on gender equality and sexual equality and gay equality, all of that as a result?

    RANJANA NATARAJAN: That’s absolutely right.

    The Civil Rights Act was the pioneer legislation, and what followed afterward knocked everything down, from age discrimination, gender discrimination, disability discrimination. And it really ended all of those sort of formal categories of discrimination, subordination and hierarchy.

    And I think that what — if you take the package of litigation — all of that legislation together, it really opened up the American dream to most Americans in a way that had not been before.

    GWEN IFILL: When you think about what happened in 1964, how much of this was driven, Robert Kimball, by insiders, and how much of this was driven by agitation from outsiders or public opinion?

    ROBERT KIMBALL: It was both.

    The civil rights groups were under the Leadership Conference and were many organizations, including church groups. And they were all very active. And they were constantly on the Hill talking to us. The key event, of course, not so well-remembered as others, was the Birmingham church bombing on September the 15th.

    The conscience of the country was aroused. People were horrified. And that clearly was the event that led to the passage of the bill, more than any other. The march was very important, but it was more symbolic. It was so peaceful and so impressive, but it was the church bombing that frightened America, and led to what happened, which was very important.

    GWEN IFILL: And it also seems, Lynda Johnson Robb, that the assassination of President Kennedy was also — the bill was moving along and it was making its way through the House.

    But when the president was assassinated, and your father became president, the very first thing he said when he went to the well of the House was, we have to pass this now.

    LYNDA BIRD JOHNSON ROBB: Absolutely. I think he shamed a lot of people into voting for it.

    GWEN IFILL: Including Southern Democrats?

    LYNDA BIRD JOHNSON ROBB: Well, you found people who were not in favor of it who were not just in the South. And that’s why he had to work so hard on Everett Dirksen to explain to him that, we all needed to do this, no matter where we lived, whether we were in Peoria or whether we were in Montgomery, that this was something that would help fulfill that American dream, and that it was really holding us all back, not just people of color, but all of us.

    And part of it is shaming. You know, how could we call ourselves this great country, and we are still these little — little black girls are being killed while they’re going to church? And shame, shame.

    GWEN IFILL: Shirley Franklin, programs you wouldn’t have been mayor of Atlanta without the passage of this and other voting rights acts, other acts along the way. But there is a difference between passing a law like this and getting it enforced.

    Do you feel like that the U.S. policy, that the government follow-through on the promise of that passage…

    SHIRLEY FRANKLIN: Well, it took a time. It took a while.

    And, certainly, it took a lot of energy on the part of people on the ground, as well as leaders. Over the years, we have seen the explosion of political figures from all walks of life. And so it opened the door for people from all backgrounds, whether gay, lesbian, people from limited means.

    There was a sense when I was growing up that you had to be from a certain side of the tracks in order to be an elected official. You had to be lucky to be an elected official. And with the passage of the Civil Rights Acts and the Voting Rights Act and all that that entailed, all of a sudden, a child like me could not be mayor of Atlanta when I was born, when I graduated from high school, when I graduated from college.

    But, some years later, I had the opportunity because of the legislative initiatives, but also because of the shift in the cultural forms and the cultural traditions.

    GWEN IFILL: Ranjana Natarajan, I just want to you bring this to today. What is left undone?

    RANJANA NATARAJAN: There’s a lot to be done still.

    So, there are still some formal categories, such as you mentioned earlier LGBT individuals and families and formal discrimination. And, obviously, we have seen that campaign for greater equality and freedom unfold over the last 20, 30 years. And it’s rapidly progressing.

    But, beyond that, there are still main problems with respect to racial equality in terms of access to public goods and public benefits. And, so, for example, whether it comes to housing, K-12 education, access to college, we see that there are racial disparities. For white families, they can get into better rental housing and they can get into the housing sale market easier than Asian families, African-American families, Latino families.

    With respect to African-American children and Latino children in our public schools, they have fewer opportunities for college readiness and for college prep education than do their white counterparts. And what we see is, even when we have eliminated intentional forms of discrimination, these racial and ethnic disparities persist.

    And so how do we get at them and how do we construct policy to really ensure equality for everyone? That’s the challenge.

    GWEN IFILL: So, say there is a 12-year-old here at the table with us who has grown up in a time in which none of this seemed to be a problem for them. How do you begin to explain to someone of that age who grew up in — with the benefits of civil rights legislation and protections that this is still important today, Shirley Franklin?

    SHIRLEY FRANKLIN: Well, I have a 14-year-old grandson who I have had to explain that to.

    There was a lot of discussion about gay rights in the Georgia legislature. And it became important for me to explain to him that, not too long ago, the integrated school that he was in wasn’t possible, that he wouldn’t have had white and Latino and Asian friends, and that, in fact, he could have been at risk of his own life if he had sought out friends.

    And in a matter of a few minutes, he got the message, because he is accustomed to having friendships and relationships across cultural and racial and ethnic backgrounds.

    RANJANA NATARAJAN: I think education is very important, as Shirley mentioned. I recently did a women’s history presentation for my son’s preschool.

    And I think we have to start early and keep educating our children about the civil rights movement. I’m a beneficiary of the civil rights movement, and I moved to the United States well after the Civil Rights Act. And so, for me, it’s a process of educating myself. There is a lot of good research out there that shows that one of the things that we need to do as a society is confront our implicit biases.

    We all work with stereotypes in our heads, no matter how hard we try to rid ourselves of them. And so there’s work that we need to do individually, as families, as communities, to think about how we work with and how we live with and interact with people of other cultures and other backgrounds.

    GWEN IFILL: I think we can all say that everyone at this table and probably everyone, we’re all beneficiaries of that Civil Rights Act.

    Thank you all for…

    ROBERT KIMBALL: Thank you. Thank you.

    GWEN IFILL: … participating in our conversation.

    Shirley Franklin, Robert Kimball, Ranjana Natarajan, and, of course, Lynda Johnson Robb, thank you.

    LYNDA BIRD JOHNSON ROBB: Thank you.

    RANJANA NATARAJAN: Thank you.

    SHIRLEY FRANKLIN: Thank you.

    ROBERT KIMBALL: Thank you.

    The post How the Civil Rights Act pioneered anti-discrimination laws in America appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    accesstoeducation

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, a pair of education stories, one about too few children around the world going to school, the other on a promising pilot high school in the U.S.

    Let’s start with a major global problem, especially pronounced in developing countries. There are more than 200 million children who should be attending school, but simply do not because of a variety of barriers. That problem is at the center of a new U.N. initiative to get 57 million more children in school by the end of 2015.

    Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is spearheading that effort as a special U.N. envoy for global education.

    I met up with him earlier in Washington today, before he spoke at the World Bank to make his case.

    What is at stake in this initiative you’re now deeply involved in?

    GORDON BROWN, U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education: I think it’s the future of a whole generation of young people.

    If we cannot provide today’s young people in Asia and Africa with the opportunity of education and then the chance of employment or starting a business or whatever, we are going to have the most discontented youth. We’re going to have a generational problem, because they know the opportunities that people have in other countries. They can learn about it through the Internet and through mobile phones.

    And they’re aware that the inequality of opportunity that they face is unfair. And I think we have seen the makings of a civil rights struggle amongst young people to get education, to stop child marriage, to stop child labor, child trafficking and sex — and discrimination against girls.

    And if we don’t do something about it, there’s a whole sort of welter of discontent that is building up in the populations of Asia and Africa.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The numbers are almost impossible to comprehend. I think you have 250 million children not getting a primary education, and then you’re trying — you put down a number 57 million you would like to get into school.

    How do you how — do you reduce that to something you can actually make a difference?

    GORDON BROWN: Well, 57 million children are the numbers of children who are not going to go to school today or any other day. Some of them are in child labor. Some of them are girl brides. Some of them have simply not got schools they can go to. Some of them are girls who the Taliban is preventing from going to school.

    But it is relatively inexpensive to pay for the education of a young child. For $6 billion, if we could find the extra funds next year, we could get almost all of these children to school. And there is no technical or scientific breakthrough that’s needed to do this. We know what it is we have got to do.

    We have got to get teachers, and have the buildings, and have the educational equipment. And, of course, we want to increase the quality of education very quickly, but, at the moment, we have set a goal that, by the end of December 2015, every child should be at school. That’s the Millennium Development Goal. Everybody promised it.

    And we could deliver it if we could provide these extra resources. So it is both manageable, and it’s also in my view necessary. If you make a promise, you should try to redeem it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But even before you talk about the money, there are the cultural, the ingrained practices in countries where child marriage, for example, is considered — young girls married off at a very young age, other countries or places where families see children as an economic necessity to have them working out in fields or doing whatever they’re doing to bring money in for the family.

    GORDON BROWN: And…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you change all that?

    GORDON BROWN: And you’re absolutely right.

    There are 10 million children who are married off before the age of 14 or 15. There are 15 million children who are working full-time at the moment, and they’re under 14. But I see great change in the attitude of young people.

    I have just been in Pakistan. And a year-and-a-half ago, I went after Malala Yousafzai, who was the young girl who was shot, and I found a population that was cowed, it was worried, it was anxious, it was fearful of the Taliban. And then I went back a few days ago, and I found girls in Pakistan, 12, 13, 14, 15, determined to fight for their education.

    And they no longer wanted Pakistan to be seen by the rest of the world as a country that was failing to get girls to school, but they want to be known by their successes and girls getting into school and getting qualifications.

    So, girls themselves are fighting for their civil rights. This is a huge change from a few years ago. And once this change happens, you can’t — you can’t hold it back, because these are girls who are aware of their rights, aware that they can stand up against the patriarchs who try to marry them off, aware that there is discrimination being practiced by the Taliban, and they’re taking it on.

    And there are many, many hundreds of courageous girls in Pakistan who are saying, we demand our right to be educated now. And that’s going to happen in the rest of world, too.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But over a long period of time, isn’t…

    GORDON BROWN: But the change in the last year-and-a-half has been, in my view, very big indeed.

    We had a petition after Malala was shot, and we had three million people signing that. And it looked as if we had support. But now you have got girls agitating for education. You have got child-marriage-free zones being created by girls themselves in Bangladesh, where they are saying, we, the girls, will refuse to married off. Even if our fathers tell us we’re going to be sold into marriage, we’re going to refuse.

    And these movements of opinion, the anti-rape protests in India, the big anti-child labor campaigns that have been mounted by young people themselves, something is changing around the world. And we are too slow to react to that and to help these children with the resources to get them into education.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You mentioned $6 billion. You said relatively a small amount of money. But how do you get governments that we see have been reducing the amount they have been spending on education, how do you get them to understand it’s a priority? And I’m talking now about the recipient countries.

    GORDON BROWN: Yes.

    I think, first of all, the governments of Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan have got to do more themselves. So, nobody is going to just throw money at a country that’s not prepared to take action itself. So I’m trying to persuade them. And I think we have been successful in persuading Pakistan and Nigeria that that they have got to spend more themselves.

    Then we can incentivize them spending more by saying, if you do this, we will do more to help you. And I think what people are looking for is results in development aid. And if we can show that we can get results, children enrolled, teachers actually turning up, the quality of the curriculum, results in terms of qualifications, I think the world will be prepared to donate the necessary sums of money to make this happen.

    It is after all incredibly small in relation to the overall budget.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But how do you — when you look at what donor countries have been spending, though, they have cut back the amount they have spent on education.

    GORDON BROWN: Some have, and some haven’t.

    There are new donors coming into the field, so, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia. There are many new donors. And China is starting to donate money into education for the first time. Korea is coming in. So, yes, I would like America to do more. And I would like the rest of the West to do more.

    But there are many potential donors in the future. And they — they begin to see that, if you back a country that is educating its children, you have got a skilled work force, as well as having met the moral requirement that every child should have opportunity.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How much of this depends on the persuasive powers of someone who’s internationally known, like, as you are, Gordon Brown…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: … and how much — and your — the force of your personality, and how…

    GORDON BROWN: Well, I wish I could be more successful.

    But the truth is that I know, from being a leader in recent years, that if there is not public pressure, and if there is not a demand from the rest of the world, then there are other priorities that you’re going to address.

    We have got to persuade these leaders that no country in the poorer parts of the world will ever be a rich country, will ever be a high-income country if it doesn’t invest in education. And I think we are getting that argument across to the leaders.

    So, on the one hand, you have got this great civil rights struggle that is now starting, in my view. On the other hand, you have got a recognition that, no matter what else you have got to do as a country, you have got to invest in education if you’re going to be a successful economy.

    And I can persuade them that this is a necessary element of their economic policy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you believe they are feeling this kind of pressure and feeling there are consequences if they don’t make these changes?

    GORDON BROWN: What I believe is, they’re going to feel more pressure in the next year, because we have just launched a campaign. And over the next 21 months, until this deadline of the Millennium Development Goal, we will be pressing governments around the world.

    We have got hundreds of youth ambassadors who were actually themselves appointed to put pressure on governments. We have got what is called youth takeovers of parliaments, which sounds quite radical, but these are young people who are agreeing that, on a particular day, they will be the parliamentarians and they will speak out for the case of education.

    We have got national petitions in individual countries. So the pressure is building. It’s not there strong enough yet, but it will become very strong over the next few months. And this is an opportunity to help countries develop their educational opportunities for children in a way that they have not done before. But it’s also an opportunity for us to show that development aid can be incredibly effective.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Special Envoy Gordon Brown, thank you.

    GORDON BROWN: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That conversation discusses online, where we discuss moves to get Syrian children displaced by the civil war into school.

    And on our World page, we spoke with two young girls who were sitting beside Malala Yousafzai when Taliban gunmen attacked their school bus about their fight for access to education for all boys and girls.

    The post UN initiative tackles inequality of educational opportunity around the world appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    PBS NewsHour education coverage is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    GWEN IFILL: Our second education story is about a Brooklyn high school that has not yet graduated its first class, but it’s being closely watched for its approach to providing lower-income students with college tuition and the special skills to get a job — one of its distinct features, a lot more time in the classroom.

    President Obama sang its praises again this week and announced two more schools like it will be opened.

    Hari Sreenivasan has the story as part of our American Graduate project, a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: When it comes to high school, should six years be the new four? It is a question that Cletus Andoh has times to think about every day as he rides New York City subway from his home in the Bronx to his school in Brooklyn, a journey that takes him an hour-and-a-half each way.

    Cletus is a junior at Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH. P-TECH is a six-year public school where students like Cletus are expected to leave with a high school diploma and a two-year associate of applied science degree, basically finishing community college for free.

    CLETUS ANDOH, Junior, P-TECH: An associate degree means a start. It’s a start to what I want to do with my future, where I want to go.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Cierra Copeland, also a junior at P-TECH, says she was ready to be challenged, and having the opportunity to take college courses as early as the 10th grade was the push she needed.

    CIERRA COPELAND, Junior, P-TECH: I came to P-TECH. They gave me not a push, but a shove. And they shoved me into it. And it’s beneficial to me. I feel like, for me, it’s been a learning experience. It taught me to grow up faster. It taught me to prioritize.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Giving students from low-income families the chance at free college tuition was the brainchild of a public-private partnership developed by IBM, the New York City Education Department, and the City University of New York.

    STANLEY LITOW, V.P. of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, IBM: The job opportunities of the 21st century require a level of skill that is far beyond a simple high school diploma.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: IBM’s Stanley Litow, a former deputy schools chancellor for New York City, helped starts Brooklyn’s P-TECH in 2011, and has since overseen the creation of seven similar schools in New York and Chicago.

    Students have longer school days, attend classes year-round, and get hands-on training in job skills that companies like IBM say their entry-level employees often lack.

    STANLEY LITOW: We need those people to have the problem-solving skills and the technical skills and the writing skills and presentation skills. If we don’t do something different about transforming high school in America, we’re going to be in big trouble. The U.S. is not going to be competitive.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Schools like P-TECH, which has only been admitting students for three years, are attracting more attention, and last year received an endorsement from President Barack Obama.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What is going on here at P-TECH is outstanding. And I’m not — and I’m excited to see it for myself.

    (APPLAUSE)

    HARI SREENIVASAN: After the president visited P-TECH last October, he announced a $100 million competitive grant program, encouraging similar partnerships between high schools, private industry and universities; 16 new P-TECH schools will open across New York in September and leverage the support of other businesses to focus on areas, including manufacturing, clean technology, and health care.

    More than 1,500 students applied to Brooklyn’s P-TECH last fall, but the school was only able to admit 144 ninth graders.

    RASHID FERROD DAVIS, Principal, P-TECH: Our kids are the everyday, average New York City student. We’re just giving them the different opportunity.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Rashid Ferrod Davis is P-TECH’s founding principal. Davis says his students are chosen entirely by lottery and come from all five boroughs of New York. The school, he says, was started with one goal in mind.

    RASHID FERROD DAVIS: It’s how do you make sure that we can diversify the work force with students who are not generally on a path to think of themselves as either college or career-ready. And so there is no academic screening. There is no type of tests for admissions.

    The idea, if you are interested, we will help make you academically strong and prepared, so, that way, you can have that pathway from high school through college to industry.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: IBM initially invested $500,000 to get P-TECH off the ground, money spent to develop the curriculum and provide teacher training. But, from now on:

    STANLEY LITOW: All IBM is investing is our time and talent.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And when it comes to paying for the additional two years built into the model, the state of New York picks up that tab.

    The first P-TECH is located in a rundown section of Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, surrounded by low-income housing. It was created as part of a federal turnaround initiative that is also phasing out of poor-performing high school in the same building.

    Principal Davis called the two years of free college tuition a game-changer for his students.

    RASHID FERROD DAVIS: Once you have the two years under your belt, you have a better foundation to complete the four-year degree. And so this becomes very, very important. So that free degree can be a great sense of motivation for families.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: P-TECH students take some of their university-level courses on the campus of New York City College of Technology, part of the City University of New York. But they’re also eased into the rigor by having professors teach at the high school.

    Bonne August is the provost at City Tech. She’s optimistic that the design is working, despite the fact that it is new and relatively untested.

    BONNE AUGUST, Provost, New York City College of Technology: I personally am waiting until we have graduated not just one group of students, but several groups of students. These are not easy programs. They’re very challenging programs.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: IBM sees the associate’s degree as a good starting point, but they believe more support is needed for students to learn about the world of work, so they offer internships and provide mentors for every P-TECH student.

    Shilpa Menezes, a product line manager for the company, was paired with Cierra Copeland three years ago. Most of their interactions are done online, and Menezes says she was initially surprised by the types of questions she received from Cierra.

    SHILPA MENEZES, Product Line Manager, IBM: What are my interests? What kind of books do I read? What do I do when I’m a little frustrated at work? Don’t you have issues at work? How do you manage? So, I have seen her grow and be very mature in her conversations with me.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Cierra, who is focusing on electromechanical engineering, says that Menezes, along with P-TECH, have opened her eyes to the possibly of a career in fields that have been dominated by men for years.

    CIERRA COPELAND: I can make something out of myself with this degree, so that I’m not just another stereotype, because that is a stereotype, that all women cook and they don’t build, and they don’t wire, and they don’t program.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: IBM’s Stanley Litow stopped short of promising jobs to P-TECH students once they graduate, but he did say they will have the skills that the company is looking for to fill entry-level positions that include software specialists and tech support representatives.

    STANLEY LITOW: Over the next 10 years, there are going to be 14 million new jobs created for students with those kinds of credentials and those kind of skills. If they’re through a P-TECH program that we are involved in, they are going to be first in line for jobs at IBM.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Cletus Andoh wants to attend MIT after he graduates, then hopefully medical school, which would please his mother.

    HELENA ASAAH: Education is very important to me because I didn’t get that opportunity.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Helena Asaah moved the family from Ghana to New York, so her children could get a better education. When her son got into P-TECH, she was thrilled the school offered free college credit.

    HELENA ASAAH: I want him to be some better person, like maybe a doctor.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But, if that doesn’t work out, Cletus already has a plan B.

    CLETUS ANDOH: I will always have that associate degree as a backup, so I can go into the technology field, get a bachelor’s or master’s and just keep going.

    RASHID FERROD DAVIS: There are two specific associate degrees.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Educators from across the globe are regularly visiting P-TECH to see if lessons learned here can be replicated.

    GWEN IFILL: You can follow our American Graduate reporting team on Twitter, where they shared more television on P-TECH. We rounded up those resources, and you can find them on the Rundown.

    The post Students stick around for two years of college at innovative Brooklyn high school appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on health insurance exchanges on November 6, 2013 in the Dirksen Senate Office on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

    US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on health insurance exchanges on November 6, 2013 in the Dirksen Senate Office on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

    The NewsHour has confirmed that Sylvia Burwell, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, will be tapped to replace Kathleen Sebelius.
    _______________

    Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning from the Obama administration after the rocky rollout of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, a White House official said Thursday.

    Her resignation comes just one week after the end of the first enrollment period for the Obamacare law. While the opening weeks of the rollout were marred by website woes, the administration rebounded strongly by enrolling more than 7 million people in the new insurance marketplaces.

    Sebelius’ resignation following her five-year tenure in Obama’s Cabinet comes as the White House seeks to rebound from the politically damaging launch of the health care law. But it could also set the stage for a contentious election-year confirmation hearing to replace her, as Republicans seek to make the health law the centerpiece of their efforts to retake the Senate in the November midterm contests.

    The official said Obama was nominating Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace Sebelius. The official was not authorized to discuss Sebelius’ resignation ahead of the formal announcement and requested anonymity.

    Sebelius, the former governor of Kansas, has been one of Obama’s longest-serving Cabinet officials. She was instrumental in shepherding the health care law through Congress in 2010 and implementing its initial components, including a popular provision that allow young people to stay on their parents insurance plans until age 26.

    But Sebelius’ relationship with the White House frayed during last fall’s rollout of the insurance exchanges that are at the center of the sweeping overhaul. The president and his top advisers said they were frustrated by what they considered to be a lack of information from HHS over the extent of the website troubles.

    In the months before the exchanges opened, Sebelius assured lawmakers and the public that new health insurance markets would open on time in all 50 states. After technical problems crippled online sign-ups after the Oct. 1 launch, the White House sent management expert and longtime Obama adviser Jeffrey Zients to oversee a rescue operation that turned things around by the end of November.

    Sebelius dropped no hints about her resignation Thursday when she testified at a budget hearing.

    The next secretary will have to with contend with huge challenges related to the continued implementation of the health overhaul, as well as the divisive politics around it that show no sign of abating.

    On the practical side, the administration has to improve customer service for millions of Americans trying to navigate the new system. There’s also a concern that premiums may rise for 2015, since many younger, healthier people appear to have sat out open enrollment season.

    On the political front, congressional Republicans remain implacably opposed to “Obamacare,” even as several GOP governors have accepted the law’s expansion of safety-net coverage under Medicaid. Opposition by congressional Republicans means they can be expected to continue to deny additional funds for implementation.

    The post HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to resign appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    New Mexico Scenics

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. Justice Department today released a scathing report finding what it calls a pattern of unjustified force in the Albuquerque, New Mexico, Police Department.

    Jeffrey Brown has that story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The report cites incidents dating back to 2010, 37 people shot by police, 23 of them fatally. The most recent occurred just last month and was caught on videotape: the fatal shooting of James Boyd, a 38-year-old homeless man with a history of mental illness.

    That led to a violent street protest against alleged police brutality.

    Gene Grant is host of “New Mexico in Focus” on New Mexico Public Television. He has been covering this story and joins us tonight from Albuquerque.

    Well, Gene, the Justice Department cited a pattern of excessive force, so they’re seeing something that links all these shootings, right? Explain that.

    GENE GRANT, New Mexico Public Television: It’s interesting.

    As you mentioned, there were 37 incidents, 23 of them fatal. And what they were looking for, quite specifically, if there was an unconstitutional pattern of Fourth Amendment rights being violated here. And they were quite strong in their opening statement right off the bat of the hearing this morning that, in fact, their findings did find, in fact, that the Albuquerque Police Department had a number of situations that they found unconstitutional and did violate those rights.

    And what that actually did was opened up a lot of dialogue about, well, what is going on here? What is the pattern? And the big problem out here for us with the situation is folks who are mentally ill or in some crisis of some sort. And what the DOJ found was, especially in those cases, APD is coming up short. There is excessive use of force, sometimes deadly, but they mentioned also using Tasers.

    They were not — not pleased with that part of it as well, as part of a pattern. Not just deadly force, but excessive force was very much part of the situation. They laid out a whole criteria of changes they would like to see. They made it quite clear they intend to stay around the DOJ for a bit and work with APD and the city of Albuquerque and Mayor Richard Berry on some of the reforms.

    However, what we don’t have at this point and what is apparently being discussed tonight between DOJ and the administration and the Albuquerque Police Department is taking it that next step, with a possible consent degree or a possible federal monitor that would be on hand for a period of time.

    GENE GRANT: Sorry. Go ahead.

    JEFFREY BROWN: No, no, no, I was going to say, just to step back here first, because this has build — been building over a number of years, what’s been the police reaction along the way? And where are they now?

    GENE GRANT: That’s a great question.

    You know, it’s interesting. We have a new chief, Chief Gordon Eden. He came to replace Ray Schultz, where a lot of these shootings happened under his watch, under Ray Schultz. In that time, Jeffrey, what happened was the use of lapel cameras became part of the reform back a year-and-a-half ago, two years ago.

    And that is in fact what happened in this James Boyd case, as you know, where it went global. The video just took it to a whole new level. Now, the reaction from the police has been fairly muted so far, but until this point today, there’s been a bit of a circling of the wagons. There’s been a bit of everything is OK here, going back a year-and-a-half, two years ago or so.

    I think the police department now just basically has its hands tied. They know the community is not going to accept the status quo anymore. We have had three protest marches, one of which made the news globally. I went to the first march, the peaceful march last Tuesday, an enormous march by Albuquerque standards. People have pretty much had it.

    So, for the police department, it’s a difficulty. They really don’t have anything left to say now that the Department of Justice has had its say on the constitutionality of these issues.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, when I interrupted you earlier, you were starting to talk a little bit about what happens next, because that is, of course, the key question.

    GENE GRANT: Right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: As you said, in some cities, this has led to federal oversight. That’s one possibility here. What is on the table?

    GENE GRANT: You know, it’s interesting to try to figure out what is on the table, because the mayor came out about noon today, Mayor Richard Berry, and said, look, we have a lot of work to do.

    However, he also said three weeks ago that he would prefer and ask for a federal monitor for the situation. He actually came right out without being pressured to do so. So what does that mean in these negotiations with the DOJ? We don’t know. Is it going to be something in between?

    The big question is, what will the community accept, Jeffrey? You know, for a lot of folks here, there is going to be nothing less than a complete takeover, which nobody thinks is going to happen, won’t be enough. But something has to happen where folks feel like the police department is not correcting itself.

    We have been through that for 20 years now, and now it’s time for something else. And that is what DOJ is in essence saying. It’s time to turn the page and try another way.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, how big a deal — when you refer to the community, we saw some of these protests. Some of them turned violent, right, especially after the — after James Boyd was shot.

    JEFFREY BROWN: How big a deal is it? How much has it really galvanized the public there?

    GENE GRANT: You knows what’s interesting? It’s as big a deal as I can remember for anything here. I have lived here about 27 years.

    And it really — when you — when I went to the protest on Tuesday, the cross-section of Albuquerque was startling. This wasn’t, you know, a young, lefty crowd out there to cause trouble. These were single women, families, people with strollers, couples, elderly, a lot of elders. I saw a lot of elders.

    And they were just very upset with the whole situation, just saying, look, enough is enough. We’re — this is going to be stop.

    It is an enormous thing. It’s dominating the news here. It’s dominating the blogs. It’s certainly dominating talk radio and talk shows. You go around town, everybody has got an opinion. It’s amazing the amount of cross-section, by the way, on that point of folks who are not pleased with APD right now. I’m talking a lot of folks who would be naturally inclined to support the police department are now saying to themselves, OK, wait a minute, we need — we have got a problem here.

    You can’t have 23 deaths, you know, and most of them, a lot of them mentally ill, and not have a problem. So everyone is looking for a solution here. It’s an economic development issue. It’s a quality of life issue. It’s a civil liberties issue. It — it cuts across all — all constituencies here.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Gene Grant of New Mexico Public Television, as always, thanks a lot.

    GENE GRANT: My pleasure.

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    PBS NewsHour’s American Graduate team explored the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn, N.Y., a school that’s giving students the chance to earn a high school diploma and a two-year associates degree — for free.

    More than 1500 students applied to the school last fall. 144 ninth-graders were admitted.

    During Thursday’s 6 p.m. EDT showing on NewsHour’s live stream channel, the American Graduate team offered some extra insight into their report on Twitter.

    The post Should six years be the new standard for high school? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    In a bid to reduce the federal prison population, the U.S. Sentencing Commission set in motion a change of formula to determine the sentencing of low-level, nonviolent federal drug law offenders. The commission voted Thursday to reduce sentencing guidelines for about 70 percent of federal drug trafficking defenders, and should Congress rubberstamp the proposal, the change would go into effect on Nov. 1.

    Attorney General Eric Holder praised the commission’s shift. “It is now time for Congress to pick up the baton and advance legislation that would take further steps to reduce our overburdened prison system,” Holder said. He testified last month in support of the reduced sentencing guidelines.

    Some lawmakers have accused Holder of preempting the commission. Appellate Judge William H Pryor JR., of 11th Circuit, a member of the commission, claims Holder “disrespected” the commission’s statutory role. Pryor said, “before we voted on the amendment, the attorney general instructed assistant United States attorneys across the nation not to object to defense requests to apply the proposed amendment in sentencing proceedings going forward.”

    Holder insists such “common-sense reforms” will continue to shape and send strong statements about stiff penalties for crime.

    “It represents a milestone in our effort to reshape the criminal justice system’s approach to dealing with drug offenses. This reduction in the federal sentencing guidelines, while modest, sends a strong message about the need to reserve the harshest penalties for the most serious crimes.”

    The federal prison system holds 216,000 prisoners. With only 5 percent of the world’s population, the Unites States has nearly 25 percent of all prisoners.

    The post U.S. Sentencing Commission takes steps to depopulate federal prisons appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    LAREDO — For 12 hours a day, the waiting room at Dr. Gustavo Villarreal’s family practice is often packed with patients, people who will pay a flat $50 fee for the convenience — or necessity — of a walk-in, quick-turn doctor’s visit. Villarreal’s practice, which does not accept any form of health insurance, has thrived despite its location in a city where nearly one-third of the population lives below the federal poverty line.

    At both the state and federal level, efforts are underway to decrease Texas’ sky-high rate of residents without health coverage. But Villarreal is among a rising number of primary care practitioners who have given up on the red tape of filing insurance claims, switching to a cash-based model that is growing in popularity among Texas’ insured and uninsured patients.

    Doctors who use this model, which they call “direct primary care,” say they can keep their costs competitive by avoiding the bureaucracy of the health insurance system and the high processing costs — including additional staff — associated with accepting coverage.

    “It had always been affordable and possible to maintain a practice with what insurance and patients paid, but about 10 or 15 years ago, you started seeing a decline” in revenue, said Villarreal, who switched his traditional family practice to its current business model in 2012.

    Most doctors limit their services to basic or preventive care — treatment their patients can afford without turning to their insurance providers — such as prescribing medicine for colds and infections, treating minor lesions and overseeing long-term care for conditions like diabetes and osteoporosis.

    When patients need additional treatment for serious ailments or tests and procedures that cannot be done in-house — MRIs and X-rays, for example — physicians working under the direct primary care model refer patients to specialists and technicians who accept insurance.

    While many of his patients are uninsured, Villarreal, who has been practicing medicine for more than three decades, said he also regularly treats patients who have health insurance but are trying to avoid shelling out thousands of dollars to meet high deductibles.

    Some health care experts worry that if too many practitioners choose this path, the state could be left struggling to find doctors to accommodate patients with insurance at a time when federal health care reform is making such coverage mandatory for most Texans. So far, efforts to enroll Texans in the federal insurance marketplace — crucial to the success of the Affordable Care Act — have made a small dent in the state’s uninsured population, which has reached 6 million people, according to United States census data. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that as of March 1, 295,000 Texans had signed up for insurance coverage in the federal marketplace.

    “We have to find ways of stretching the current number of primary care doctors to meet that demand,” said Dr. Clare Hawkins, president of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians. “Direct primary care goes in the other direction.”

    Insurers say consumers should have flexibility when it comes to their health services, but they warn that not having health insurance leaves individuals unprotected from the hefty price tags associated with unanticipated medical costs.

    “Consumers should anticipate their medical needs,” said David Gonzales, executive director of the Texas Association of Health Plans. “However, when that is not possible, consumers should have financial protection from the unexpected.”

    The direct primary care model is not new. Before Congress passed legislation in 1973 that led to the expansion of managed care through pre-paid health plans, or health maintenance organizations, physicians largely operated through this fee-for-service medical model. And the percentage of doctors who have reverted to this approach in Texas in recent years is not huge: 10 percent of Texas physicians do not currently have contracts with health insurers, according to preliminary results from a 2014 Texas Medical Association survey.

    Lee Spangler, vice president of medical economics with the TMA, said Texas is seeing an increase in practices like these because they give doctors more flexibility to determine the services they provide and to cut costs for their practices.

    “A physician has very little ability to negotiate all policies and procedures that come with insurance contracts,” Spangler said, adding that some insurance companies can even dictate the business hours during which doctors can be paid. “Basically you get rid of all those shackles in terms of having a carrier dictate to the practice how to deliver medical services.”

    But it is the business model that proves most attractive to physicians, Spangler said, adding that doctors “want to get out from under what has been stacked up on them.”

    Under the current health insurance system, physicians who treat covered individuals submit claims for the services they provide and receive reimbursements to cover their costs. Private insurance providers and government-subsidized health programs like Medicare and Medicaid each have their own rules and regulations for filing claims, including specific timeframes and billing systems.

    Health providers who treat poor children and people with disabilities also face heightened scrutiny from state and federal agencies charged with rooting out possible fraud, leaving some providers on edge that they could be subject to unwarranted or costly investigations.

    Doctors who have embraced the direct primary care model have done it with a wide range of approaches. And most tout that the costs they’ve cut by forgoing insurance give them the ability to scale back on the number of patients they must see each day to turn a profit.

    In Austin, Drs. William and Mason Jones — a father-son team — practice “concierge medicine,” treating patients under a membership model in which patients pay annual fees for access to a variety of services, including unlimited office visits, routine vaccinations and round-the-clock medical assistance by phone.

    Mason Jones said his office is a “low-volume practice” that gives him the “luxury of time” to spend with patients. “This works out great for preventive medicine,” he said.

    In Corpus Christi, Dr. Coleen Madigan said she only works two days a week, during which she visits with about five patients a day and is able to make house calls. She said this gives her the opportunity to spend as much time with her patients as they require.

    In Laredo, Villarreal has had the opposite experience. His business model frees up time for him to see even more patients, he said, without the additional costs to his practice that come from filing insurance claims. He continues to see 40 to 60 patients a day, he said, 20 of whom tend to be new to his practice.

    “To me, there’s no other way I would practice medicine,” he said. “You feel like you’re a doctor again.”


    This story was produced by Kaiser Health News in partnership with The Daily Beast.

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

    The post Texas doctors offer care for cash to avoid cost of filing insurance claims appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Instead of replacing public assistance programs with a guaranteed basic income, liberal economist Barbara Bergmann argues, the United States should beef up its social welfare system to be more like Switzerland, which has universal childcare. Photo by Flickr user Tiberio Frascari

    Instead of replacing public assistance programs with a guaranteed basic income, liberal economist Barbara Bergmann argues, the United States should beef up its social welfare system to be more like Sweden, above, which has universal childcare. Photo by Flickr user Tiberio Frascari.

    Editor’s Note: As the midterm elections approach, Republicans and Democrats have fallen into a familiar debate about the role of the federal government, particularly when it comes to addressing income inequality. The fight for a higher minimum wage, for example, is pitting President Obama against unenthused Republican leaders in Congress. But the mere idea of a different kind of federally mandated income adjustment — the guaranteed basic income — is cleaving the ideological spectrum in ways you might not expect.

    In Switzerland, such a plan, if approved by the Swiss people, would give 30,000 Swiss Francs to each citizen. In the United States, one of the idea’s main supporters on the right, libertarian Charles Murray, envisions the government giving about $11,000 to each citizen over 21. But the guaranteed income can only work, Murray believes, if it replaces all other social welfare programs.

    Liberal economist Barbara Bergmann, professor emerita at American University, makes the opposite argument. She opposes the basic income not because it will make the federal government too large, but rather because she thinks the government should be larger. Instead of paying out a fixed income to all citizens, she would prefer beefing up existing social welfare programs to tackle specific human needs.

    The following extended conversation between Making Sen$e producer Diane Lincoln Estes and Bergmann has been edited and condensed for length and clarity. Watch Making Sen$e’s segment about the guaranteed basic income in Switzerland and its appeal in the U.S., in which Bergmann appears, below.

    Simone Pathe, Making Sen$e Editor


    Diane Lincoln Estes: What’s your argument against a guaranteed minimum income?

    Barbara Bergmann: Well, the problem is that people have different needs and there are programs that attack those needs directly. Let’s talk about college. There are families that have children that need college, or that would benefit from college, and that’s very expensive. And if you give everybody a relatively small income, that doesn’t take care of that problem.

    Obviously childcare is a problem for many families. We’ve partially dealt with the health care problem. So what makes sense is a series of government programs that take care of each of these problems. The model for doing that is the Swedish government. They have free college; they have free childcare; they have help with housing; they obviously give health insurance, or health care, to everyone, including mental health care. So those kinds of programs deal with people’s needs, whereas if you give everybody a minimum income, you’re still going to have a lot of people who are in trouble because they have special needs.

    Sweden’s a country where, I think, when you do happiness surveys, they come out the happiest, and people don’t feel need there. It’s because the needs, the most important needs, are taken care of directly.

    Diane Lincoln Estes: Why couldn’t people use their minimum income to address their own specific needs?

    Barbara Bergmann: Well, because a minimum income isn’t enough to address, for example, college expenses for two or three children. It’s just not enough. All of these programs take a lot of money if they’re done correctly.

    In every field, we have the same programs that they have in Sweden; it’s just that we’re not funding them very much. To fund them, we would need tax increases, and if you make those tax increases, and you make those expenditure increases, there isn’t enough left in the GDP to give people a minimum income. But people [wouldn’t need it] in the same way they would now [if these programs were stronger].

    Diane Lincoln Estes: You’re saying the current system is inadequate?

    Barbara Bergmann: Oh, absolutely. I’m coming at this from the more liberal point of view. I’m not against a guaranteed income because I think that it would make the government too big. I think government ought to be much bigger.

    You know, a perfect example, by the way, is elementary and secondary education. It wouldn’t make any sense to say, okay, let’s stop giving that to people and let’s instead give them the money. That income would not make any sense.

    You couldn’t give everybody enough money so that every family could afford to send three children to college. There isn’t that much money available. If you want to make college available, say, to those who need it and would benefit from it, you have to give [money] directly.

    Diane Lincoln Estes: So you’re saying that we need to beef up social welfare programs rather than replace current programs with a guaranteed income?

    Barbara Bergmann: We ought to be moving in the direction of the Swedes, of more goods and services from government to the people who need it. Now, you can say, well, that’s a crazy idea, given the current state of American politics, where tax increases are impossible to think about, but I believe that as time goes by, people will realize that filling those needs is the humane thing to do.

    It’s increasingly important for the government to beef up other programs like childcare, too. We have a program, but there are huge waiting lists. Many people who are eligible can’t get it. So as single motherhood, for example, grows — 41 percent of babies these days are born to unmarried mothers — and it’s going to continue to grow because of the decline of marriage, what you need is bigger programs of that type to help those families directly.

    There is a good chance government beefs up those social welfare programs. Maybe not in the immediate future, as our present situation suggests, but people will understand that social needs are changing, partly because of the decline of marriage and the increase in single parenthood. People are going to see that that kind of help from government is becoming more and more necessary.

    Diane Lincoln Estes: Should we worry about the cost of doing this?

    Barbara Bergmann: About 30 percent of our national income, our GDP, goes into government. And in Europe, in Sweden for example, it’s 60 percent, so there’s plenty of room for increasing taxes and putting more goods and services through government programs.

    Diane Lincoln Estes: One critique of your position is that current government assistance programs are bureaucratic and it would be better to give people a minimum income and let them take care of themselves.

    Barbara Bergmann: Well, it’s true that there are a lot of inefficiencies. It is annoying to deal with the government bureaucracy, no question. But the alternative is worse, and if you give out fairly decent sums to people, some of them are going to misspend. It makes much more sense to fill the needs of people than give them money that is not going to be used directly.

    Diane Lincoln Estes: Are you concerned that, for instance, an alcoholic would spend his or her minimum income on booze?

    Barbara Bergmann: Well, that is a problem if there are very large amounts of money given out. I think, in general, it would probably be some minimal amount.

    Diane Lincoln Estes: And would it be a disincentive to work?

    Barbara Bergmann: One of the problems with the minimum income is that it would probably result in women, more than men, leaving the labor force. And if you think about the increase in women’s stature, that has really been almost entirely due to the fact that more women are in the labor force. So I think that would be a relatively bad effect of universal cash payments.

    If, as people leave the labor force, the amount the government takes in in taxes goes down, that makes problems for giving out the money. As productivity increases, we ought to be having both fewer people working and also people working less hours.

    Diane Lincoln Estes: Some people have argued that the people who would leave the labor force are people who aren’t happy in their jobs and that a guaranteed income would liberate them from unfulfilling work. You don’t see it that way?

    Barbara Bergmann: The same thing has been said about the Affordable Care Act, “Obamacare,” that people are leaving the labor force because they don’t have to stay in the labor force to get health insurance. And it’s a good thing if you’re liberating people from bad situations. But the main issue is not really that people would leave their jobs, but that giving everybody a minimum income would not really solve societal problems. It wouldn’t allow people at the bottom to send their kids to college or secure affordable housing.

    Diane Lincoln Estes: Could a guaranteed minimum income ever become law in this country?

    Barbara Bergmann: Well, it could. But people will see it’s easier to expand the programs we already have than to institute a minimum income. … Now, after we’ve taken care of these minimal needs [through government programs], then you can imagine that we could start a small [minimum income on top of that]. Again, because less is needed. But, you know, the increase in inequality of income suggests that we ought to be redistributing money from people who are at the very top to people lower down. It makes more sense to increase Social Security payments than just universally sloshing out the cash to everybody.

    The post Why Sweden, not Switzerland, should be America’s social welfare model appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo courtesy of Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

    Photo courtesy of Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

    A group of US senators has asked the Department of Justice to stop any efforts by General Motors to avoid the financial penalties associated with its failure to promptly recall vehicles with ignition problems.

    According to Reuters, the five Democratic senators told Attorney General Eric Holder that the Justice Department should “intervene in pending civil actions to oppose any action by GM to deny responsibility for damages.”

    The senators are trying to prevent GM officials from saying they’re not responsible for the actions of the “old,” pre-bankruptcy version of the company.

    GM CEO Mary Barra spent time on Captiol Hill in early April, fielding a barrage of questions from Congress about the recall.

    The post Senators ask Justice Department to keep GM responsible for recalls appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A Daddy longlegs. Photo by Flickr user rittyrats

    A Daddy longlegs. Photo by Flickr user rittyrats

    Hey, four-eyes.

    No, not you with your glasses perched on your nose. I’m talking to Daddy Longlegs over there, hiding in the corner. Turns out, a 305-million-year-old fossil has revealed an eye-opening truth about our eight-legged friend’s ancestors: they had not two eyes, but four!

    Scientists at the American Museum of Natural History and the University of Manchester discovered the fossil in the eastern region of France, and published their research in the journal Current on Friday.

    Exoskeletons of these arachnids — whose technical name is “harvestmen,” and not the commonly thrown around “spiders” — don’t preserve well. This finding fills in some gaps of the evolutionary history of the insect.

    As embryos, modern-day daddy long-legs momentarily express the gene that grows the second pair of eyes. But by the time they hatch, they only form one set of eyes.

    Only time will tell what this web of research will reveal next.

    The post Daddy longlegs once had four eyes, research says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey reads her poem “Incident,” while in Jackson, Mississippi.

    This year, because of the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, Congressman John Lewis led the 14th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage not only to its annual destination in Selma to remember the events of Bloody Sunday, but also to my native state, Mississippi. As many times as I have traveled through Mississippi, making my own pilgrimages in order to write about the place that made me, I had never been to Money, the town where Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam (who would later publicly describe their crime), abducted and murdered 14-year-old Emmett Till for allegedly whistling at Byrant’s wife Carolyn at their grocery store.

    U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey sits in a Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church in Jackson, Miss. after visiting Medgar Evers' home and Tougaloo College

    U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey sits in a Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church in Jackson, Miss. after visiting Medgar Evers’ home and Tougaloo College

    As the buses pulled into town, someone pointed out Bryant Grocery, or what was left of it — three walls of the brick exterior overtaken by weeds. It stands now as a ruin, a marker inscribing on the landscape the traces of just one of the episodes of violence and injustice in our shared American past. Looking out the bus window, I thought of Hegel’s words: When we turn to survey the past the first thing we see is nothing but ruins. But here was a literal ruin, the imagery of it possessing the power to compel us to remember and to engage in our own private reckoning.

    U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey and the NewsHour's Jeffrey Brown retrace moments from the Civil Rights area, including the march from Selma to Montgomery.

    U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey and the NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown retrace moments from the Civil Rights era, including the march from Selma to Montgomery.

    Our sojourn in Money, MS culminated in a program of remembrance at the church down the street from the grocery. First, a cousin of Emmett Till’s who had been with him recounted the events of that day in 1955. His pain was visceral, as if he were reliving it. After he spoke we heard from Lonnie Bunch, the director of the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture. He described the decision to show Emmett Till’s casket in the museum, a decision not unlike Mamie Till Mobley’s to bury her son’s mutilated body in a glass-top casket for, as she said then, “the world to see.” Even now I can barely look at the photographs of his battered-beyond-recognition face. Still, I cleave to it for the necessary remembering of difficult knowledge that allows us not only to contend with the past, but also to grapple with our contemporary moment — how far we’ve come, how much farther we have to go. The language of poetry, its imagery and musicality — sound and sense — helps us do this too.

    And so what came to me as I sat listening in the church were the words of poets. I thought first of Cornelius Eady’s remarkable poem “Emmett Till’s Glass-Top Casket.”

    *******
    Emmett Till’s Glass-Top Casket

                 By the time they cracked me open again, topside, abandoned in a tool-
    shed, I had become another kind of nest. Not many people connect possums
    with Chicago,

                 but this is where the city ends, after all, and I float still, after the
    footfalls fade and the roots bloom around us. The fact was, everything that
    worked for my young man

                 worked for my new tenants. The fact was, he had been gone for years.
    They lifted him from my embrace, and I was empty, ready. That’s how the
    possums found me, friend,

                 dry-docked, a tattered mercy hull. Once I held a boy who didn’t look
    like a boy. When they finally remembered, they peeked through my clear top.
    Then their wild surprise.

    *******

    Eady’s poem reminds us not only of the horror of “a boy who didn’t look like a boy,” but also the dangers of forgetting. It is also a powerful assertion of the role of poetry in the remembrance of and reckoning with our history.

    The words of the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley remind us that poetry is one of the best ways to contend with such difficult knowledge, how the elegant language of a poem can transform experience: Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.

    On the Pilgrimage, I was reminded that a lack of awareness of the past, forgetting, and willed amnesia are easy. The necessary work of remembering is harder. Poetry gives us a way to look at our past unflinchingly, to see it clearly. It is also transformative as it gives us a way to imagine our future, the just and humane society we continue to build—our more perfect union.

    Watch U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey read her poem “Miscegenation.”

    Watch chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown’s broadcast report on the annual Congressional Civil rights Pilgrimage on Friday’s broadcast of the PBS NewsHour. You can tune in to our Ustream Channel at 6 p.m. EDT or check your local PBS listings.

    Where Poetry Lives” is a special NewsHour series featuring reports on issues that matter to Americans through the framework of poetry. Funded by the Poetry FoundationLibrary of Congress’ Poetry and Literature Center, the reports present U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey and NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown as they explore poetry and literature in various corners of American life.

    The videos were shot by Spencer Cooper and Ryan Aubrey and edited by Victoria Fleischer. Frank Carlson contributed to this report.

    The post Poet’s Notebook: Pilgrimage, Revisited appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user William Brawley

    Photo by Flickr user William Brawley

    For many people with allergies, the arrival of spring is tempered by weeks of wheezing, sneezing, and itching. Even those with perfect immune systems can sympathize with that most tell-tale sign of spring: a nose like a leaky faucet.

    We call it the sniffles, and attribute it to stress, cold, pollution, or spicy food. And we usually just wait it out, squirreling tissues away in purses and pockets until our heads clean up seemingly of their own volition.

    Now scientists at the University of Colorado may have an explanation for these fits of “non-allergic rhinitis” — and with it, the potential for a cure.

    According to a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers from the CU School of Medicine, led by Thomas Finger, PhD, discovered “solitary chemosensory cells” (SCCs) lining the noses of mice that react to minor irritants as though they were serious threats, triggering an overblown series of defenses that include your runny nose.

    Finger and his team are now looking to see if these cells appear in human noses. If they do, this research could be the first step toward a cure for the common sniffles.

    The post Scientists may have solution for sniffles appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The White House released the Obamas’ 2013 income taxes Friday

    WASHINGTON — The White House says President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama paid just over $98,000 in taxes on income of nearly half a million dollars last year.

    The couple’s 2013 income tax returns were posted on the White House website four days before the tax filing deadline.

    The 42-page return shows the president and first lady reported donating more than 12 percent of their adjusted gross income to 32 different charities.

    Their largest charitable gift was nearly $9,000 to the Fisher House Foundation. Fisher House supports military families.

    The Obamas also released their Illinois income tax return. It shows they paid more than $23,000 in state income taxes.

    _______________

    The White House also released the income tax returns of Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden:

    The Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden also released their 2013 federal income tax returns, as well as state income tax returns for both Delaware and Virginia. The Bidens filed joint federal and combined Delaware income tax returns. Dr. Biden filed a separate non-resident Virginia tax return. Together, they reported adjusted gross income of $407,009. The Bidens paid $96,378 in total federal tax for 2013, amounting to an effective tax rate of 23.7 percent. They also paid $14,644 in Delaware income tax and Dr. Biden paid $3,470 in Virginia income tax. The Bidens contributed $20,523 to charity in 2013, including contributing the royalties received from Dr. Biden’s children’s book, net of taxes, to the USO.

    The White House also released the Bidens’ 2013 income taxes Friday

    The post Obamas’ and Bidens’ 2013 tax returns revealed appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    During the annual Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage, Myrlie Evers-Williams spoke about how Medgar Evers was killed in front of the house where he died. Watch an excerpt of her speech in the video above.

    The 14th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage recently wended its way through Mississippi, with its annual stop at the Jackson home where civil rights activist and NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers was assassinated by Byron De La Beckwith in 1963. Evers’ widow, activist Myrlie Evers-Williams, spoke of the events of that day with her daughter, Reena, by her side. Evers-Williams called the family home—now a small museum—“hallowed ground” and recalled her children in the driveway pleading, “Daddy get up, get up.” In spirit, she said, he did: “I’ve seen Medgar getting up on a continuing basis.”

    For her part, Reena Evers-Everett said she’s getting ready to move back to Jackson to “get down and do grassroots and touch all the generations and pass it on.” She urged the group to, “continue all of the fights that we have out there, because it’s about our human rights, not just the civil rights.”


    Jerry Mitchell is an investigative reporter for the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi whose dogged work—combined with the work of a new generation of aggressive federal and local prosecutors—led to the reinvestigation of Civil Rights-era killings. To date, there have been 24 convictions as a result of his reporting. The U.S. Department of Justice has re-opened more than 100 cases in all.


    During the Pilgrimage stop, Jerry Mitchell, investigative reporter with The Clarion-Ledger, speaks about the importance of returning to the house where Medgar Evers was killed and the “courage” of Evers.

    Covering the courts in 1980 when the film “Mississippi Burning” came out, Mitchell was inspired to look into the “cold cases.” (He was portrayed in the 1996 Rob Reiner film, “Ghosts of Mississippi” about the murder of Medgar Evers and the belated effort to bring his killer Byron De La Beckwith to justice.) In 1994, De La Beckwith was convicted of assassinating Evers; two previous trials in 1964 on this charge had resulted in hung juries.

    What makes Mitchell’s work at The Clarion-Ledger even more interesting is that before and during the Civil Rights era, the paper and its now-defunct afternoon sibling, the “Jackson Daily News” helped perpetuate segregation and, as some Mississippians told us, inflame it.

    The NewsHour retraced Mitchell’s work in Jackson in 2002 for this Emmy-nominated profile of the Clarion-Ledger and him.

    Watch chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown’s broadcast report on the annual Congressional Civil rights Pilgrimage on Friday’s broadcast of the PBS NewsHour. You can tune in to our Ustream Channel at 6 p.m. EDT or check your local PBS listings.

    Where Poetry Lives” is a special NewsHour series featuring reports on issues that matter to Americans through the framework of poetry. Funded by the Poetry FoundationLibrary of Congress’ Poetry and Literature Center, the reports present U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey and NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown as they explore poetry and literature in various corners of American life.

    The videos were shot by Spencer Cooper and Ryan Aubrey and edited by Victoria Fleischer. Frank Carlson contributed to this report.

    The post Medgar Evers’ wife revisits his legacy 50 years later appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Video Still by PBS NewsHour

    Video Still by PBS NewsHour

    How many hours a day do you spend on your phone or tablet? How often do you check Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or other social media sites? College students check their phones an average of 60 times a day, and send an average 3,200 text messages a month, according to a 2012 study.

    Cellphone addiction is increasingly recognized as a real problem. In 2012, two researchers studied cellphone use among people ages 19 to 38 and found that many of the excessive phone checkers and texters were highly impulsive — a component in behavior and drug addictions.

    In an essay for the site Medium, Long Jeremy Vandehey describes how his excessive phone use caused him to put off meetings, forget information and ignore his surroundings and his friends. And mobile apps are designed to become addictive, he said. He should know, because he’s a mobile app developer.

    While struggling to overcome his own addiction, he’s urging readers to turn their phones off:

    “My telling you to put your phone down is a little bit like a girl scout telling you only to buy 2 boxes. We (as app makers) want them to be addicting. Like a potato chip manufacturer, we try to put just the right crunch and the perfect amount of salt so you can’t help but have just one more. We want you to get addicted. It puts the potato chips on our table.

    There have been several great posts and humbling videos about mobile abuse so I hope I’m not beating a dead horse. I have no doubt that mobile is the future that is already here. Thousands of great apps have enriched and enhanced every aspect of our lives. As a human being, many of these triumphs are trumped by the overwhelming anxiety phones have instilled in us. We’ve trained ourselves to constantly seek refuge from boring, everyday life through our phones. We’ve grown so accustomed to this behavior that we can’t shut it out, even during truly exciting or beautiful times in our lives. We resort to the tapping (and) pecking muscle memory. The reality is 95% of each day is boring, everyday life. I had to hit rock bottom to realize I didn’t want to spend 95% of my life glued to a screen.”

    The post ‘We want you to get addicted’: App-maker overcomes his own cell-phone addiction appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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