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

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    Tiananmen Square Anniversary

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    GWEN IFILL: Jeffrey Brown picks up the story from there.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, how are the events of 25 years ago viewed today in China? And how have those events helped shape today’s China?

    For that, we turn to Louisa Lim, who’s covered China for the last decade, first for the BBC and now for NPR. She’s the author of “The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited.” And Xiao Qiang is an adjunct professor at the University of California at Berkeley. He’s the founder and editor in chief of China Digital Times, a bilingual China news Web site.

    Louisa Lim, let me start with you.

    You used the word amnesia. You have a very telling story in your book about taking an image, that famous photo we just saw of the man standing in front of the tank, and showing it to a bunch of university students. Most of them who didn’t know what it was.

    LOUISA LIM, NPR: Tiananmen Revisited”: That’s right, I took that picture and I took it around four Beijing universities, those that had been most instrumental in the protests in 1989, and I showed it to 100 students.

    And I was really surprised at the level of ignorance. Most of them just looked at it with completely blank faces, no flicker of recognition whatsoever. People asked me questions like, is it Kosovo? Is it South Korea? One person said, it looks like Tiananmen, but it can’t be.

    Out of 100 students, only 15 recognized that image. So, I think that really shows the success of the Chinese government in enforcing amnesia, especially amongst young people.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, Xiao Qiang, how much is Tiananmen still a memory or important for dissidents in China? And how strong is that dissident movement today?

    XIAO QIANG, University of California, Berkeley: Well, I would even say the Tiananmen generation is now simply using the word dissidents, because, remember, 25 years ago, that was an entire generation of Chinese. Even just college students alone, nationwide, participating in the pro-democracy demonstration.

    And Beijing, there’s millions and millions of citizens, too, and nationwide. So all of these people, most of us, are alive, and bearing the real remembrance. But it’s been suppressed, been brutally suppressed. And then, the 25 years later, this trauma and this memory, where did it exactly go?

    It’s a question of to answer many questions — it’s a question that needs to be answered, but it’s also the answer will tell us where China is going to go tomorrow.

    Let’s say Louisa’s question. Many young generations doesn’t know about Tiananmen Square. That is quite true. If you go to China and then you visit a lot of people, you will find the Chinese Communist Party did a very well job — good job on that.

    But, on the other hand, on the Internet, you will see the fear of the party, the over 155 keywords being banned relating to the Tiananmen massacre June 4, including — starting from yesterday, including the word, Chinese word today.

    It means, if you will search the Chinese today, on the Internet, will surface lots of memorial discussions and articles. Therefore, the censor has to ban that search word.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, let me ask.

    Louisa, you use the term pivot. You talk about Tiananmen as kind of a key pivot leading from one China to today’s China. In what way does it still live on, reverberate and shape what China is today?

    LOUISA LIM: Well, I think the party’s post-Tiananmen strategy was absolutely instrumental in shaping the China that we see today.

    You know, the decision was made to allow economic liberalization without political reform. And that is the path that China follows to this day. Deng Xiaoping, who was the paramount leader at the time, also made the decision that more patriotic education was needed among the youth.

    That was his only regret. He thought that was the big lesson of Tiananmen, that they needed to know more about the country, what it had been in the past and what it was now, at that time. And that has really — there’s been this enormous patriotic education campaign which has really produced this generation of young nationalists that we see today.

    And then, of course, the other big legacy from 1989 was the birth of this security apparatus, whose tasks include, as Xiao Qiang mentioned, monitoring the Internet and censoring it, as well as putting dissidents under house arrest or constant surveillance just to try to stop any more mass incidents like Tiananmen from ever happening again.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Xiao Qiang, we offer the term grand bargain, as in young — especially for young people, younger generation, of being offered a kind of economic prosperity in exchange for, in essence, giving up a kind of political freedom.

    Is that how all this has felt or worked out for younger generation today?

    LOUISA LIM: That is a part of story, if you look at China in the past 25 years.

    But I must say, Tiananmen is an unfolding story. We have not seen the real ending yet. The — the grand bargain could only work so much. Where is increase in economic and social freedom? Where is the new individualistic generations growing up and that became mature and becoming more middle-class?

    And the more demand for political participation and more demands for freedom of expression and freedom of association is growing in China, and especially through the Internet and the cell phones that — to facilitate such demand and voices. And I can see that as a trend over the past decade clearly.

    So even there is a party’s effort that — to erase the memory, but there is another trend which is counter that and eventually will prevail, which is the people, including Chinese people, has to live in the truth. They cannot make the — completely forget this part of history, because it’s right in the heart of the nation’s soul.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Louisa, did you see that in your reporting for this book, that the economic aspirations are leading to more political aspirations as well?

    LOUISA LIM: Yes.

    I mean, there is certainly — we are seeing a great deal more mass incidents, as the Chinese euphemistically call protests, bursting out all over China. The last for which there were official figures was 2010, and there were 180,000 protests in China.

    And, I mean, the issues, some of them are different from the issues back in 1989. Nowadays, there are a lot of protests about land seizures, about environmental problems. But then some of the issues are the same, for demands for more political participation, protests against local corruption, against abuse of power, and against official profiteering.

    And I think that is one reason why the Tiananmen and the events of 1989 remain so potent today, that the demands of those protesters marching in 1989 are still unrealized, and they are more pressing than ever today.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right. We will leave it there.

    Louisa Lim and Xiao Qiang, thank you both very much.

    LOUISA LIM: Thank you.

    LOUISA LIM: Thank you.

    The post Tiananmen Square massacre resonates in China despite enforced ‘amnesia’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Manufacturing apprenticeship programs put young workers on the path to a career, whereas college graduates can languish without a job. Photo by Bloomberg via Getty Images.

    Manufacturing apprenticeship programs put young workers on the path to a career, whereas college graduates can languish without a job. Photo by Bloomberg via Getty Images.

    Editor’s Note: Dustin Reid may not have a four-year college degree, but he’s hoping to have a job for life. The 29-year-old former Marine worked in a scrapyard for two years, and then a poultry plant. At BMW’s only U.S. plant, in Spartanburg, South Carolina, he’s been part of the Scholars Program, an apprenticeship program that was the subject of Wednesday’s Making Sen$e segment, which you can watch below. He likes it so much, he’s wooed his friends from the poultry plant to BMW, too. In this extended conversation with Paul Solman, he explains why manufacturing is growing in the United States, and why the American dream is about a lot more than attaining a college degree.

    Simone Pathe, Making Sen$e Editor


    Paul Solman: So my main question is, what’s the difference between learning through the Scholar’s program and learning at school?

    Dustin Reid: The biggest difference, I’d have to say, is the amount of knowledge you get at the workplace and how you get to apply it. At school, you’re gaining knowledge, which is wonderful, but here you get to apply what you learn on the job. You’ve got many mentors to hear you and help coach you along the way. That’s a great opportunity.

    Paul Solman: I remember when I was at school, I was looking at the clock all the time because I couldn’t wait for the classes; I just couldn’t sit still for that long.

    Dustin Reid: I enjoy the classroom, I enjoy the instructors, I enjoy the small classes through the technical colleges and so, I don’t really struggle with that too much.

    Paul Solman: So what were you doing in school?

    Dustin Reid: I’m taking a mechatronics degree right now. I’m still currently involved in it. It’s kind of like a combination of mechanical, electrical, communication, engineering, then controls and computer engineering. And then it’s pretty multifaceted with those dimensions all into one and it teaches you a whole lot. You get a little bit of everything to form one big core degree.

    Paul Solman: Did you think you were going to go into manufacturing in an automobile plant?

    Dustin Reid: I thought about it once I heard about how great BMW was up here. I always had a fascination for manufacturing and production-style work, but I never knew I’d be here at BMW. It was a great opportunity to hear about the Scholars Program and once I did, I knew it was the way to go.

    Dustin Reid is a BMW scholar in their apprenticeship program at their U.S. plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

    Dustin Reid is a BMW scholar in their apprenticeship program at their U.S. plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

    Paul Solman: Why aren’t more American young people interested in this? They don’t know about it? There’s a kind of stigma associated with it?

    Dustin Reid: I think the main reason is people associate this type of work with hard, dirty work conditions. And they really don’t know that working in a place like this is fairly clean; it’s very technologically advanced. I think there’s just a lack of knowledge and understanding of what really goes on in today’s manufacturing arena.

    Paul Solman: A number of people have suggested to me that it’s because of what happened to the textile industry in South Carolina.

    Dustin Reid: The textile industry taking a plunge really affected us in a major way, and this is a way for us to come back and really start growing again in this community and South Carolina as a whole, and the region. Manufacturing’s really, really growing right now, especially in this area, and I think if people took advantage of it and actually got more knowledge on it, they’d see how great and beneficial it is for them.

    Paul Solman: But isn’t the American dream to get a four-year college degree and then get a good job?

    Dustin Reid: I would have to agree with you there. That’s considered the American dream. Let me go to college for four years and then go see what I can find.

    I feel that what they’re offering through the tech schools and partnerships with the local manufacturing companies here really offers you that chance to go ahead and start that manufacturing career and American dream much sooner. I really don’t see what you’re missing by just getting an associate degree and coming straight into work and getting all that knowledge and experience. And you can still further your education from that point on, so I think it’s great that you can come in a little bit ahead of time, as opposed to having to wait the full four years.

    Paul Solman: Are your friends getting the message? Do your friends say, “Hey, Dustin, I never thought about it this way. Could you hook me up?”

    Dustin Reid: Yes sir, they do. I really stress to them how important an opportunity like this is. I’ve had friends move up from as far away as Georgia or Columbia, [South Carolina.] They’re former co-workers, as a matter of fact, or fellow students from Spartanburg Community College.

    Paul Solman: Is it looked down upon around here to go to a community college, as opposed to, say, Clemson, Furman, University of South Carolina?

    Dustin Reid: I wouldn’t say it’s looked down upon. It’s not considered as good as a four-year degree or a master’s degree from Clemson or USC, but as far as the community is concerned, it’s great for our community to learn and gain valuable knowledge, and go ahead and start a good career. This is the best way to go about doing it, especially if manufacturing’s your goal.

    Paul Solman:Do you think that you’re better off than the typical student who spends four years in Clemson or Furman or the University of South Carolina?

    Dustin Reid: I wouldn’t say I’m better off, but I just think that from what I’ve heard, and from what I’ve seen, there’s a lot of students nowadays that graduate with a four-year degree and can’t find work. They really struggle with finding work, but with this two-year degree, I’m able to come and get a career for the rest of my life at a premier manufacturing company. Pretty much speaks for itself.

    The post Why an apprenticeship may be a faster ticket to the American dream than a college degree appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Video by Channel 4 News

    A day before the anniversary of D-Day, 89-year-old Jock Hutton recreated the parachute jump he made into a field in Normandy 70 years ago. In 1944 he was one of thousands of British and American soldiers who led the Allied assault on the German occupied lands across the English Channel. Hutton was 19 when he made the 500-foot jump, a member of the British Army’s 13th Parachute Battalion, 6th Airborne Division. Their job was to seize or destroy any bridges they came across to prevent German forces from stopping the Allies amphibious landing at dawn. Hutton told the Telegraph, “We thought we could handle anything – we were all jacked up. I must say that I felt in command of the situation. On landing, I thought, ‘This is great’.” Two weeks later he was wounded with an inch of shrapnel in the stomach, which has never been removed. “To this day I can still feel it,” the Scotsman says. “It comes to the surface and then goes away. I’ve had it for 70 years. My wee friend!”

    The shrapnel hasn’t stopped Hutton from parachuting. Until last year, he was still making solo jumps in the Netherlands. Today’s jump was in tandem with a current member of the British Army’s Parachute Regiment.

    The post 89-year-old D-Day veteran recreates parachute jump into France appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Mathews Burwell testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health Committee May 8, 2014. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

    Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Mathews Burwell testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health Committee on May 8. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

    The Senate on Thursday confirmed Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the new secretary of Department of Health and Human Services by a vote of 78 to 17.

    As President Obama’s new health secretary, Burwell will be mainly responsible for overseeing the implementation of The Affordable Care Act. Her predecessor, Kathleen Sebelius, resigned in April after a “disastrous” launch of HealthCare.gov last year.

    Burwell has been the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget since April 2013.

    The post Sylvia Mathews Burwell confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON (AP) — Senior senators have reached agreement for a bipartisan bill expanding veterans’ ability to get government-paid medical care outside Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics.

    The framework agreement was announced Thursday on the Senate floor by Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

    Sanders, an Independent, said the country, in his words, “right now … has a crisis on our hands.”

    The bill would allow veterans who experience long waits for VA appointments or who live at least 40 miles from a VA hospital or clinic to use private doctors enrolled as providers for Medicare or other government programs.

    The bill’s goal is to address an uproar over veterans’ health care following reports veterans have died while waiting to see a VA doctor.

    The post Senators reach deal on VA health care appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Koala bear. Photo courtesy of Pixaby user PixelAnarchy

    Photo courtesy of Pixaby user PixelAnarchy


    Koalas make coo-worthy photos when they cuddle up to Australia’s trees, where they live. But trees are more than shelter to the arboreal marsupials. Scientists recently learned that koalas use trees as their personal air conditioners.

    The bears are vulnerable to dehydration and Australia’s hot climate, said Andrew Krockenberger, a researcher at James Cook University. A quarter of the koalas in one New South Wales population perished during the 2009 heatwave, he said. Koalas can pant like a dog or lick themselves to keep cool, but that can dehydrate the animals quickly, said Natalie Briscoe from the University of Melbourne.

    Trees not only provide shade, but keep a cooler temperature, even during extreme heat. Krockenberger, Briscoe and their team observed 30 koalas on French Island in southeast Australia during a heatwave. Using thermal imaging cameras, they watched the bears choose trees in the heat.

    The images showed that the animals chose to hug trees that were cooler than the air by as much as 9 degrees. Hugging the branches helped the koalas cool off.

    “Access to these trees can save about half the water a koala would need to keep cool on a hot day,” Briscoe said.

    Co-author Michael Kearney said the findings were important as climate change is bringing about more extreme heat, something already evident in Australia. Maintaining a healthy tree population will help koalas and other animals survive, he said.

    “Cool tree trunks are likely to be an important microhabitat during hot weather for other tree dwelling species including primates, leopards, birds and invertebrates. The availability of cooler trees should be considered when assessing habitat suitability under current and future climate scenarios,” he said.

    Their findings were published this week in the journal Biology Letters.

    The post Koalas are treehuggers because it’s cool appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Martha Bayles, a professor of humanities at Boston College, speaks to chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brow about her new book, “Through a Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy, and America’s Image Abroad.”

    According to Martha Bayles, a professor of humanities at Boston College, public diplomacy has disappeared. Her new book is “Through a Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy, and America’s Image Abroad.”

    Bayles defines public diplomacy as “any effort by a government to sway opinion or cultivate good will among a foreign public.” She says that diplomatic efforts were much more active before the end of the Cold War.

    “During the Cold War, the government sponsored jazz tours and jazz broadcasts on (Voice of America),” Bayles told chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown.

    But at the end of the Cold War, something shifted.

    “It was more or less decided that we didn’t need (public diplomacy) anymore.”

    American popular culture spread to places it hadn’t been before, including countries where the Soviet “iron curtain” had just lifted.

    “Popular culture is a commercial undertaking and it tends to go for the lowest common denominator. And since the media have been deregulated and with new technology, what happens is the lowest common denominator takes the form of, as any American can tell you, a lot of graphic sex, a lot of explicit violence, always trying to outdo the last generation of media.”

    It’s those cultural exports that Bayles believes have affected America’s image abroad. For example, the music the world hears isn’t having the same effect across the oceans as the jazz tours did during the Cold War or that of rock music at the end of the war.

    “I don’t think American popular music has the same cache that it used to have and its partially because we cranked up the sexual heat so much that it turns a lot of people off.”

    The post Is American popular culture swaying public opinion abroad? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Department of Defense

    Chinese soldiers demonstrate their capabilities, which the Pentagon says, are growing as China expands it interests and influence abroad. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Department of Defense

    WASHINGTON — China shows growing capability to project military power beyond its shores, the Defense Department said Thursday.

    In an annual report to Congress, the Pentagon said China is developing and testing new types of missiles, expanding the reach of its navy and upgrading its air force. China is also investing in military capabilities in cyberspace, space and electronic warfare.

    The report said China’s military modernization was driven primarily by potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait, but also by its expanding interests and influence abroad, and increased tensions in the East China and South China seas. In November, China conducted its largest naval exercise to date in the Philippine Sea.

    China has been engaged in territorial disputes with several of its neighbors, including U.S. allies Japan and the Philippines. China is currently locked in a tense, offshore standoff with the Vietnam.

    In a long-standing U.S. criticism of China’s military expansion over the past two decades, the Pentagon criticized China’s lack of openness about its strategy, which it said has caused concerns in Asia.

    “Absent greater transparency from China and a change in its behavior, these concerns will likely intensify as the PLA’s military modernization program progresses,” the report said, referring to China’s People’s Liberation Army.

    China’s government in March announced a 12.2 percent increase in military spending to $132 billion. That followed last year’s 10.7 percent increase to $114 billion, giving China the second-highest defense budget for any nation behind the U.S., which spent $600.4 billion on its military last year.

    The post Pentagon reports show China’s military strength is growing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Daniel Ramirez/Wikimedia Commons

    Photo by Daniel Ramirez/Wikimedia Commons

    For the first time in American history, the U.S. Armed Forces color guard will march in a gay pride parade.

    The 39th annual Capital Pride parade in Washington, D.C., is likely to attract 150,000 spectators. While there’s never been an official rule banning the color guard from participating, gay rights groups from D.C. to Hawaii have faced rejection since they began asking local military offices for their involvement in 2011, after the don’t ask, don’t tell policy was repealed.

    The Department of Defense authorized the eight-person team to march in the parade, representing each branch of the military.

    The post U.S. Armed Forces color guard to march in gay pride parade appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    realnewswrwap

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    GWEN IFILL: Two senior senators agreed today on a bipartisan bill to address long delays for veterans seeking medical care.  Those who wait longer than 30 days for appointments or live more than 40 miles from a VA facility could use private doctors enrolled in Medicare or other federal programs.

    Republican John McCain of Arizona and independent Bernard Sanders of Vermont sponsored the legislation.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, I, Vt.: You will be able to go to the doctor of your choice, under the strict supervision of the VA.  This is mostly a bill mostly for people in very rural areas who now have to travel long distances to get the health care.  This will make their lives easier.

    GWEN IFILL: Also today, Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson visited the Phoenix Medical Center, where reports of falsifying data first surfaced.  He said 18 veterans there died while awaiting treatment, but he’s not sure if that’s because they were kept off wait lists.

    And the nominee for the VA’s top health care position withdrew today.  Jeffrey Murawsky says he feared a long Senate confirmation fight.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There is no fight over Sylvia Burwell.  The Senate confirmed her today as the new secretary of health and human services.  She had been the president’s budget director.  Burwell takes over from Kathleen Sebelius, who oversaw the difficult rollout of the healthcare.gov Web site last year.

    GWEN IFILL: In Iraq, Sunni fighters stepped up attacks in the north against forces of the Shiite-dominated government.  Dozens of gunmen ambushed security checkpoints and police stations in Samarra, starting a daylong battle.  Seven police and soldiers were killed.  The militants have already seized parts of Ramadi and most of Fallujah.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron had a new warning for Russia today: Block weapons from entering Ukraine, recognize the new leader in Kiev, and stop supporting pro-Russian separatists, or face new sanctions.  The leaders met as part of a Group of Seven summit in Brussels, without Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    President Obama said Putin can choose to rebuild trust or not.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We will have a chance to see what Mr. Putin does over the next two, three, four weeks.  And if he remains on the current course, then we have already indicated the kinds of actions that we’re prepared to take.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Putin answered by wishing the G7 leaders — quote — “bon appetit” before flying from St. Petersburg to France for tomorrow’s D-Day commemorations.

    GWEN IFILL: There’s word of more mass killings in Nigeria by the Islamist terror group Boko Haram.  Witnesses said militants dressed as soldiers slaughtered at least 200 people in the country’s northeast on Monday.  Later, police said 42 more people were killed early today.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Chinese courts sentenced 81 people today on terror charges in an ongoing crackdown in the Western region of Xinjiang.  State media said they planned terrorist activities and carried out murder and arson.  They are among scores of people who’ve been arrested after a series of deadly attacks blamed on ethnic Uighurs.

    GWEN IFILL: Vietnam has released new video to prove its claims of Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.  The footage shows a Chinese ship chasing and then ramming a Vietnamese fishing boat on May 26.  The fishing boat then tipped over and sank, but all 10 people aboard were rescued.  It happened near a huge oil rig that China deployed last month in disputed waters.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The latest probe of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico concludes that a giant machine that could have prevented the 2010 disaster was riddled with defects.  The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said today the blowout preventer on the Macondo well failed because it had faulty wiring, a dead battery and a bent pipe.  It said similar devices are still being used worldwide.

    GWEN IFILL: In economic news, European banks will start paying fees on deposits with the European Central Bank.  The negative interest rate could push them to lend the money instead and stave off deflation.  The chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Jo White, proposed new rules to rein in high-speed trading.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 98 points to close at 16,836; the Nasdaq rose 44 points to close at 4,296; and the S&P 500 added 12 to finish at 1,940.

    The post News Wrap: Obama and Cameron threaten Russia with new sanctions appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo courtesy of Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: General Motors released its own internal report today about a decade-long failure to recall cars with ignition switch problems. The investigation found a dysfunctional system within the automaker that for years didn’t take enough responsibility for years. But it also absolved the very top leadership of any kind of cover-up.

    MARY BARRA, CEO, General Motors: What Valukas found in this situation was a pattern of incompetence and neglect.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: General Motors CEO Mary Barra laid out the much-anticipated report by former federal prosecutor Anton Valukas. She told GM employees in warren, Michigan, the findings are — quote — “brutally tough and deeply troubling.”

    MARY BARRA: Repeatedly, individuals failed to disclose critical pieces of information that could have fundamentally changed the lives of those impacted by the faulty ignition switch.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That long-running ignition switch defect, going back to 2002, is now linked to at least 13 deaths, and federal officials say the number may rise.

    Since February, GM has recalled 2.6 million older cars because of the problem, which caused engines to stall, air bags to fail and power steering and brakes to malfunction.

    Barra acknowledged the automaker faces public outrage that it took so long to act.

    MARY BARRA: This recall issue isn’t merely an engineering, or a manufacturing, or a legal problem. It represents a fundamental failure to meet the basic needs of these customers.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The CEO announced 15 employees found to have acted inappropriately have been fired. More than half were in senior or executive roles.

    At the same time, she maintained there was no conspiracy at the top to cover up facts and no evidence that employees made any tradeoff between safety and cost.

    Barra said it’s still not clear why engineers and others largely ignored a problem that would have cost 57 cents to repair.

    MARY BARRA: If this information had been disclosed, and I believe this in my heart, the company would have dealt with this situation much differently and appropriately.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: With GM’s findings in hand Congress is expected to announce a new round of hearings. But some lawmakers are already calling the company’s report part of a public relations campaign.

    Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut:

    SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, D, Conn.: This report leaves so many questions unanswered and fails to identify where responsibility really should be placed.

    Firing a few underlings is no substitute for acknowledging moral and legal responsibility. And this document seems more designed for the defense of the company in court than for an acknowledgement for responsibility for the deaths and certainly more than 13 deaths, which the company so far refuses to acknowledge.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Going forward, GM has created a fund to compensate victims led by lawyer Kenneth Feinberg. The names have not been officially released. But, in April, when Barra appeared at a Senate hearing, families also traveled to Washington, holding up pictures of loved ones killed or injured.

    LAURA CHRISTIAN, Mother of Victim: We are the people left behind when a loved one got into what was supposed to be a safe car, a GM car, a car that GM knew for years was dangerous and defective.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: GM has already paid a record $35 million fine, and the ignition switch recall, plus others, have cost the company about $1.7 billion so far.

    At her press conference, Mary Barra didn’t go deeply into the culture of GM that attorney Valukas described in his report, one where, he wrote — quote — “No single person owned any decision” — and there was — quote — “a phenomenon known as the GM nod. Everyone nods in agreement and the nod is an empty gesture.”

    More on all of this with two who are watching it closely. Micki Maynard is a contributor to “Forbes” magazine. She’s the new director of the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism at the Cronkite School at Arizona State university. And Erik Gordon is a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

    And welcome you both.

    Micki Maynard, to you first.

    What did you learn from this internal report that wasn’t known before?

    MICHELINE MAYNARD, Forbes: Well, what I learned is that General Motors doesn’t really have a way to explain what happened.

    It’s a very interesting read, because there is a lot of material, a lot of e-mails, slides, that sort of thing. But what we don’t find out is why these General Motors employees really didn’t push to get this matter resolved. And Mary Barra was asked about this today, was it fear, was it intimidation? And she just sort of skirted the problem.

    So that’s the answer that I’m looking for, and we don’t have it yet.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Professor Gordon, did you hear an answer to that question?

    ERIK GORDON, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan: I didn’t hear it, but I may have read a clue to it in the report.

    A GM employee named Steven Oakley says that he occasionally tried to get the attention of higher-ups by using what he calls hot words, and he gave an example: stall. He said that — but he was reluctant to push on safety issues because he thought his predecessor had been pushed out for having done just that.

    I think that might be a clue to what the problem was at GM.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, is that — Professor Gordon, staying with you, is that coming through? Is that being acknowledged by the leadership of GM?

    ERIK GORDON: No, I think they went to great pains to do the opposite.

    Right in the opening, the CEO said the real problem here is that lower-level people didn’t do whatever it took to get it to the attention of the high-level people. It’s the fault of the low-level people. They didn’t bang the drums loudly enough.

    Well, we have at least from one person some idea about why they don’t bang the drums loudly enough. And in the rest of the report, I think you get a second idea, which is it would take a lot of drum-banging, because, in fact, a lot of people at GM did know about the problem, batted it back and forth, and all of those actions apparently somehow weren’t enough to get it to the attention of the higher-up — higher-level people.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Micki Maynard, this raises the question which we mentioned, and I want to ask you about this culture where there’s a nod or a gesture. What was that all about?

    MICHELINE MAYNARD: Right.

    So, there were a couple of instances that are defined in the report. One is the GM nod. And, apparently, this is where everyone sits in a meeting. Ideas are exchanged. Solutions are suggested. Everyone nods in agreement, leaves the room, and nothing happens, which has to be absolutely maddening to a manager.

    And then the other one is called the GM salute. And I have actually witnessed this myself, where people sit with their arms crossed, sort of their elbows pointing out, almost defiantly, as if to say, this is someone else’s responsibility, the elbows pointing out, and not mine.

    And, you know, when outsiders can read the culture like that, I think you have an issue. I think you have an issue of people who maybe say they will do something, don’t do it, and that shows that either they don’t trust management or they don’t have faith in each other to solve the problem.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we should have pointed out — I meant to say this earlier — we did invite General Motors to send a representative to be part of this conversation. They declined.

    Professor Gordon, but what we want to understand, though — and the two of you are getting at this — is, what was it that stopped the information about this ignition switch that clearly people at lower levels knew about, as long as more than a decade ago, maybe 15 years ago, that didn’t move up the chain?

    ERIK GORDON: I think there are two things.

    And they are somewhat touched on in the report, if you read it carefully. One is, it’s a highly technical legal culture. For example, they said that Mary Barra really didn’t know anything, what was going on.

    Well, actually, she knew about the stalling, moving stall problem, but she didn’t know that it was caused by the ignition switch, so no problem there. So I think there is a very technical — “we win on technicalities” kind of culture.

    There’s also a don’t do anything that louses up a product launch. There’s a story about an attorney who I think is one of the people who lost his job, Bill Kemp, who somehow gets involved in a story that’s going to be run in “The Cleveland Plain Dealer” about the Cobalt, and he wants to try to do something to soften the story, and is advised by another GM attorney that it probably won’t work.

    And his comment, as related in the report, is something along the lines of, wow, if this story runs, we had better not look as if we haven’t done everything possible to support the new product launch.

    I think those two factors combined make it very difficult to expect information that’s negative about a GM product to make it up the line.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Micki Maynard, what about these 15 individuals who were fired? And I guess some others were suspended. How would you characterize the roles they have had in the company and why no one at the highest level is having to answer for what happened?

    MICHELINE MAYNARD: Well, first of all, one of the people who was fired is an engineer named Ray DeGiorgio.

    And he is probably not a household name, but he’s certainly a name that’s become well-known to us in the auto industry, because this is the fellow that apparently approved GM changing the part in 2006 for repair, but not changing the part number.

    As the sister of an engineer, I can tell you that engineers keep very careful records. And you wouldn’t modify a design without changing the part number. But that made it impossible through the years for General Motors to tell which ignitions were defective and which ones were OK.

    And that continued to be a problem until last year. So you have six years of investigation going on. The part number seems to be fine. The design seems to be fine. And they can’t find it. So he’s one of the gentlemen that was let go. The head of the Cobalt program was apparently let go, other people in legal, in engineering, in public policy, which usually means Washington.

    But one of the things I found so interesting was that the report specifically says that Mary Barra, Mike Millikin, who is the head of GM’s legal department, and Mark Reuss, who is head of global product development, all knew nothing about this.

    So, these are three very senior people at the company, people that you would think would be getting briefings on matters like this, and instead apparently the information never got to any one of the three of them at the top of the company.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, with just 30 seconds left, Professor Gordon, what are the — we can expect this is not the end of this.

    ERIK GORDON: Yes, it is certainly not going to be.

    In fact, I think, today, especially the press conference that was held today probably damaged GM. I think the lack of transparency, the almost patently self-serving approach that seems to have been taken, has fired up the critics. And I think there will be hearings. I think the hearings will be pretty nasty.

    And I think the easy pass that the CEO got because she was new will not be available the next time around.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Professor Erik Gordon, Micki Maynard, we thank you both.

    Again, we did invite General Motors. They declined to participate.

    Thank you both.

    The post Did GM’s corporate culture help obscure safety issue? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Bergdahl Being Treated At U.S. Military Hospital In Germany

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    GWEN IFILL: A White House briefing containing more information on the deal to free Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captors hasn’t quieted many lawmakers.

    So, today, the president and other administration officials launched a vigorous defense of their own of the prisoner swap that led to his release.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I make absolutely no apologies for making sure that we get back a young man to his parents.

    GWEN IFILL: After days of rising criticism over the Bergdahl deal, President Obama pushed back.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I think it was important for people to understand that this is not some abstraction. This is not a political football.

    GWEN IFILL: In Brussels, the president defended trading five senior Taliban figures and not telling Congress it was imminent.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We had discussed with Congress the possibility that something like this might occur, but, because of the nature of the folks that we were dealing with and the fragile nature of these negotiations, we felt it was important to go ahead and do what we did.

    GWEN IFILL: In fact, it was reported today, officials kept the planned exchange quiet in part because the Taliban threatened to kill Bergdahl if it became public.

    During an interview with the BBC, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, Bergdahl’s life and health were in peril.

    CHUCK HAGEL, Defense Secretary: It’s easy for us to sit here and look behind and say, well, 24 hours, 48 hours? It was our judgment — and it was unanimous, by the way, I might add — it was the secretary of defense, secretary of state, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, director of national intelligence, attorney general — and all came — we all came to the same conclusion, that we didn’t want to take any chances here.

    GWEN IFILL: The Pentagon, State Department and intelligence officials made that case to senators last night in a closed-door briefing.

    The meeting included a video that reportedly showed Bergdahl in declining health. Afterward, some senators on both sides, including Republican John McCain, said they remained unpersuaded.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R, Ariz.: We are glad that Sergeant Bergdahl is home, but the exchange of five hard-core, hardest-of-the-hard-core al-Qaida/Taliban, will pose a threat to the United States of America and the men and women who are serving.

    GWEN IFILL: But McCain and others criticizing the deal are now being accused of changing their position on a prisoner exchange.

    In February, for instance, McCain told CNN he’d — quote — “support such a thing, depending on a lot of the details.”

    The Democratic Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, accused the critics of playing political games with Bergdahl’s release.

    SEN. HARRY REID, Majority Leader: He is an American soldier. He’s been in captivity for five years. The war is winding down. Let’s bring him home. We did. We all know that the president had a very short period of time to make a decision. He made a decision to bring him home, and I’m glad he did.

    GWEN IFILL: As the political fighting over Bergdahl heats up, new details have emerged about his time in the Army and in captivity. The New York Times reported today an investigation into his 2009 disappearance found he’d left from assigned areas twice before.

    And The Daily Beast reported Bergdahl tried to escape from the Taliban twice, so his captors moved him often and added guards, making it harder to rescue him.

    Meanwhile, the Pentagon said Bergdahl’s health is improving daily at a U.S. military hospital in Germany. There’s no indication of when he might return to the United States.

    The post Obama pushes back at prisoner swap critics as new details emerge on Bergdahl’s captivity appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    bergdahl

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    GWEN IFILL: Joining me now to walk us through some of the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s time in Afghanistan is Matthew Farwell. He is a former Army soldier who served there and helped report a 2012 feature on Bergdahl with the late journalist Michael Hastings for “Rolling Stone” magazine.

    Matthew Farwell, thank you for joining us.

    MATT FARWELL, Former Soldier, U.S. Army: Thank you for having me.

    GWEN IFILL: The debate this — the debate here in Washington has been completely about whether Bergdahl was a hostage or whether he was a hero or whether he was a deserter. It seems like it is somewhere in between. It is a more complicated story than that.

    MATT FARWELL: Yes, it’s a more complicated and more nuanced story.

    But, at the end of the day, the guy was a U.S. soldier in the hands of somebody we’re fighting with. And regardless of any other circumstance, he needed to be brought home and brought back into U.S. custody and U.S. jurisdiction.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s go back for a while and tell people a little bit about who Bowe Bergdahl is, who he is. How did he come to be in the Army in the first place?

    MATT FARWELL: You know, he grew up in Sun Valley, Idaho, and joined the Army a little bit later on in life. I believe he was about 23 when he joined, which was the same age I was when I joined.

    And I think, you know, he didn’t just join the Army. He joined the infantry, and the parachute infantry at that. And so, like a lot of people, I imagine he joined for many different reasons, idealism, the sense of adventure, patriotism, you know, and, frankly, because there was a war on, and some people need to go fight it.

    GWEN IFILL: But, by the time these events came to pass, he had become disillusioned. Your story tells that.

    MATT FARWELL: Yes.

    It seems that he wasn’t happy in his platoon. He wasn’t happy in Afghanistan, apparently. And he made a very, very poor decision and, you know, really endured some consequences for that, and will for the rest of his life.

    GWEN IFILL: There is no question anymore but that he walked away from his post?

    MATT FARWELL: I mean, I didn’t think there was much question when we wrote that in the story two years ago, me and Michael, for “Rolling Stone.”

    GWEN IFILL: But this debate now is about whether he walked away to join the Taliban, to somehow connect with them or just to get away from his situation. Is there any light that has been shed on that?

    MATT FARWELL: You know, I don’t believe that he walked away to join the Taliban. And I think those Daily Beast reports that you referenced on him trying to escape twice would indicate that as well.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me talk to you a little bit about some of the e-mails that he exchanged with his parents, which are in your story, which illustrate his kind of growing disillusionment.

    And in his last e-mail, you all write the future is — he writes: “The future is too good to waste on lies.”

    He’s talking about the war itself.

    MATT FARWELL: Yes, ma’am.

    GWEN IFILL: So what was it about the war that particularly threw him off? What was it about battle, what was it about combat that disillusioned him so?

    MATT FARWELL: Well, you know, I don’t think it was necessarily battle or combat. And I don’t know for a fact.

    But I know that I was in the exact same area two years prior as an infantryman, and battle and combat is actually fun. But the war in Afghanistan was a massive — we would call it a Charlie Foxtrot, if I’m being polite. It was a massive cluster.

    And we didn’t know what we were doing there. And we still don’t. And that’s why we’re getting out and it has been the longest war in U.S. history.

    GWEN IFILL: His father described Bowe Bergdahl in particular as being psychologically isolated. Was that true also of a lot of the men and the women who were fighting, especially in that area of Afghanistan?

    MATT FARWELL: You know, some platoons have good unit cohesion. Some people get along. Some people don’t.

    And so I can’t necessarily make a case for anyone else but myself. And I had a good time with my platoon mates. And, you know, I love them all like brothers. But look at other soldiers like Robert Bales, for instance, who walked off his post and murdered 16 Afghan, you know, women and children in Kandahar. You know, soldiers have problems.

    GWEN IFILL: In this case…

    MATT FARWELL: Sometimes.

    GWEN IFILL: I’m sorry.

    In this case, after he walked off, your report writes that he was actually seen by Afghan villagers, that people saw him, and what was his state of mind that we know?

    MATT FARWELL: I can’t speak to that, ma’am. I don’t know.

    GWEN IFILL: OK. I’m just referencing the story that you wrote in “Rolling Stone,” which talked about the fact that he seemed kind of dazed.

    So, negotiations that went on to finally free him about this prisoner swap, this has been going on for some time.

    MATT FARWELL: Right.

    We wrote in the story that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was been debating it at that time. And McCain hasn’t just flip-flopped in the past couple of months. He was saying pretty crazy stuff back then, calling him the five worst human rights abusers in human history. And John Kerry was actually the voice of reason there, which is bizarre to me.

    GWEN IFILL: OK.

    Well, just for the record, we have invited John McCain and others to appear on the program and we will continue to do that.

    Matthew Farwell, thank you very much.

    MATT FARWELL: Thank you.

    The post A look at Bergdahl’s growing disillusionment as a soldier in Afghanistan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    nolacharterschool

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: As the school year comes to a close across the country, one of the issues that’s been grabbing major attention in a number of cities this year is the continuing growth of charter schools. New Orleans has been ground zero for this change, and the end of this school year marks a historic moment for the city.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In September, New Orleans will be home to the country’s first all-charter school district. It’s an evolution that began more than a decade ago and was greatly accelerated after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, when state officials and others seized the opportunity to overhaul the city’s troubled system.

    Special correspondent for education John Merrow reported on the effort over the years in a series of stories for us and has now produced a documentary titled “Rebirth.”

    Here’s a short clip that takes us back to early days for the charter movement in 2005.

    JOHN MERROW, Special Education Correspondent: December 14, 2005, much of the city is still deserted.

    O. Perry Walker High School, one of the few school buildings to escape serious damage, is about to reopen.

    WOMAN: Hopefully, never, ever again in the history of this country, not to mention the world, will any group of folks will be given an opportunity because of a Katrina or some other natural disaster.

    But the reality is, we have this opportunity, and we need to seize this moment.

    WOMAN: We have to be on my toes when the kids come in. And you set the stage, we all know that. If you have taught one month, you know that the first day sets the stage.

    MAN: Some us, as teachers, we’re going to want to go back the way it was done before. A lot of the children, you know, are going to be expecting things to look like they did before. And — and it’s just going to be interesting how we can create a new vision of what — who we are and what we want to be.

    JOHN MERROW: Walker was reopening as a public charter school. This meant it was no longer controlled by the local school board. Although publicly funded, it would be privately run, more like a small business. And like a business, O. Perry Walker charter school had a bottom line, to educate its students. If it failed to do that, it could lose its charter and be shut down.

    It was a far cry from the old way of running schools.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And John Merrow joins us now. Also with us is Sarah Carr of the Hechinger Report, an online education news site. She’s author of “Hope Against Hope,” a book about New Orleans’ charter schools.

    Well, John, from that time to now, help us understand all this. I think you refer to New Orleans now as a system of schools, rather than a school system? Explain.

    JOHN MERROW: Well, it’s almost all charter schools. There are still a few traditional schools within what’s the old Orleans Parish School Board.

    But there are about 88 schools and I think all but five of them are charter schools. They’re about 45,000 students. And all but maybe 2,500 go to charter schools. So it is a system of schools.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, Sarah, Sarah Carr, has it been a smooth transition? Has there been — remind us. Has there been opposition along the way? Where are we now with that?

    SARAH CARR, Author, “Hope Against Hope”: You know, you can find people who think what has happened is the greatest thing to occur in the history of urban education and people who think it’s — it’s the worst thing. I think people who — most people who are being honest will admit it’s someplace in the middle.

    And I have found in years reporting on it, that it’s really the families at the grassroots level who have the most nuanced and balanced perspective a lot of the time.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so, John, continuing, just to help us understand what is going on here, one of the big questions, obviously, is, who is in charge now? What kind of accountability is there? How much political accountability, for that matter?

    JOHN MERROW: That’s a terrific question.

    The Bureau of Elementary and Secondary Education is ultimately in charge of most of the charters. The metric is very narrow, its test scores. In fact, it’s gotten narrower. Pre-K through six, schools are judged 100 percent by their performance on state tests. It used to be 95 percent and 5 percent attendance.

    Seven charter schools — I think that’s the number — Sarah may have a better number — but seven charter schools have gone out of business because they failed to keep the promises they made in order to get the charter.

    But they have discovered they need some kind of central authority. And the charter, the Recovery School District and the old Orleans Parish have just entered into an agreement to try to have — to codify the rules so that everybody obeys the same rules. And they have set up a fund to provide extra money for very expensive special-needs kids.

    So there’s a cooperation and there’s a recognition they need some oversight.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Sarah Carr, continue on that. Tell us more about that theme. But also start us on the — sort of, what do we know so far about the results at this point of this switch?

    SARAH CARR: Yes, well, the principals really do have pretty unprecedented autonomy and flexibility to hire and fire and set their own curriculum and their own calendar.

    And they have individual boards that oversee them. But there is sometimes a conflict of interests, if those boards are appointed or picked by the principals. So I do think there is this question moving forward of how active the state board will be in overseeing the schools on a daily basis.

    The — overall, the test scores have been on an upward trend. And the data is very hotly debated, just because it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, since thousands of families didn’t come back after Katrina.

    And I think we really need to watch in the long-term to see what college graduation rates look like, and not — not arrive at sort of snap or quick conclusions based on short-term data.

    JEFFREY BROWN: John Merrow, where do you think the results point to so far, and what are you looking for in the coming years?

    JOHN MERROW: Well, I reported for us before Katrina, and they were — it was a terrible school system, an F or an F-minus.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    JOHN MERROW: It’s now, I would think, probably a C or a C-minus.

    The question is — Sarah is right — you have to keep track of the graduation records. There is a new poll that’s coming out next week from the Cowen Institute at Tulane. And they suggest that almost 50 percent of those polled say the schools are either improving or are good. And about 18 percent say they are actually worse; 25 percent say they’re about the same.

    All — they divide evenly. Would you recommend the school to a friend? Forty-five percent say they would; 43.85 say they wouldn’t. So, you know, it is an ongoing experiment. There is no question about that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so, Sarah Carr, how much stability is there in this new system? And what kind of new problems, perhaps, arise to a shift to an all or almost all charter system?

    SARAH CARR: Well, there has been a fair amount of instability, just in that you have schools that have been phased out and closed down and converted to charter operators.

    And so I have — you know, I have met families who have found sort of more structured, ambitious charter schools that they love. And I have met the ones whose children have been bounced between four or five schools just in high school alone.

    And I think one of the main challenges moving forward will be making sure that the schools are reaching the most vulnerable children and families.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, what do we know, John Merrow, so far, about public attitudes toward this?

    JOHN MERROW: Well, that’s interesting.

    There is a general level, as I said, would you recommend yes, maybe no, but 51 percent of those polled — and, as I say, this Cowen Institute poll will come out next week — 51 percent say the schools do not prepare the kids for college, and 56 percent say the schools do not prepare the kids for work.

    So there’s a real level of dissatisfaction. And one of the striking things to me is that New Orleans, which — music is the lifeblood — there’s almost — there’s no charter school devoted to art and music. There’s one that is the creative arts. And there are 88 schools in all.

    So I find it striking, because they’re so obsessed with test scores, that there isn’t the richness that you would expect in the — in charter schools. So I think the challenge going forward will be to try to figure out a new metric, so you can have a variety of schools and provide kids with more challenging experiences.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, Sarah, let me just ask you.

    Sorry, John.

    Sarah, just very briefly, if you could, this is an experiment that is being watched as a model in other places, right?

    SARAH CARR: Mm-hmm, very much so.

    And I think a lot of the tensions and changes that are happening in New Orleans are happening at a smaller scale in other cities, including the growth in charter schools and increased reliance on Teach for America and alternative teacher programs and this sort of attack on teachers unions.

    So I think that it — even though what happened in and the way it happened was very — was very unique in New Orleans, it definitely has a lot of implications as urban school systems restructure across the country.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Sarah Carr, John Merrow, thank you both very much.

    JOHN MERROW: Thank you.

    SARAH CARR: Thank you.

    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.

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    E-ticker stock market

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: A federal agency is proposing new rules for financial markets to help them address changes in the way the majority of trading takes place today, dizzying changes in technology and a lessening of transparency.

    There’s been mounting concern among some experts in particular about computer-driven high-frequency trading after a one-day market crash in 2010 and a recent high-profile book on the subject.

    Mary Jo White, who is the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, laid out new proposals to regulate the market during a speech today.

    Reporter Keri Geiger of Bloomberg News is here to fill us in.

    Keri Geiger, welcome to the program.

    KERI GEIGER, Bloomberg News: Thank you very much. Happy to be here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, give us a fuller picture of how the markets have changed and what precipitated all this.

    KERI GEIGER: Well, this really — you know, high-frequency trading has been a discussion for many years, especially after the flash crash.

    And it really quieted down. And then in March 2000 — or March 2014 of this year, just a few months ago, the New York attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, opened up a broad investigation into high-frequency trading and some of the practices behind that, including the technologies that really drive this super fast trading where, to kind of future into perspective, it’s about 1,000 trades can happen in the blink of an eye with this computer-driven trading.

    And his investigation and the New York state attorney general’s investigation coincided with the publication of Michael Lewis’ book “Flash Boys,” which, of course, brought the issue of high-frequency trading to the general public and really showed how a lot of people — and there’s a lot of critics in this market, as well as proponents — but the critics were really looking and saying that this provides a small number of traders with an enormous advantage over the general public, including retail advantage — retail investors.

    So, you know, here we are today, the A.G. investigation, “Flash Boys,” and now the SEC is likely responding to a lot of that pressure and is looking at ways that they can roll out some new rules that will essentially rein in what is considered some of the unfair practices of high-frequency trading.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what — I mean, without getting in — too much into the details, what is it that Mary Jo White, the chair, would like to see done?

    KERI GEIGER: Well, one of the most significant ones, which was highlighted back in March, when the A.G. opened their investigation, is the issue of dark pools.

    Now, dark pools are run by some of Wall Street’s biggest banks. And it’s essentially trading behind closed doors. You don’t see how the trades are done, the buying and the selling, unlike the exchanges, which just shows up on a public ticker.

    And Mary Jo White and the SEC is calling for some of the trades and the ways those dark pools are operated to have more disclosure and transparency.

    Another thing is that firms — proprietary trading firms that engage in high-frequency trading have to have registration with the SEC, which would essentially make them accountable to SEC rules and regulations. Also, order flow types — when orders are put in through certain alternative trading venues that use high-frequency trading, you don’t — they don’t necessarily tell their customers where they are being routed.

    And not to get too technical, but that is actually an issue for a lot of customers, and so they would like to actually have some transparency on that. So the big theme basically that came out of the SEC today with the proposal of rules is more transparency in the markets.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And so is — are these the kinds of changes, Keri Geiger, that are likely to be accepted in the financial market community?

    KERI GEIGER: You know, the market has surprisingly been pretty accepting of the proposal that the markets get more transparent and we kind of understand and learn more about how high-frequency trading might create unfair advantages.

    So I think you’re likely going to see — considering that the regulators, as well as the New York attorney general and other, you know, kind of government bodies are really looking at ways to kind of open this up, you are going to see the market sort of getting behind them on this.

    Also, Michael Lewis’ book has had a lot of influence on the way the public looks at this. So, there is a public perception issue with how people are going to be responding to this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And just to — quickly again to help the audience understand this, the high-frequency trading, you are saying, is often accompanied by less transparency in what is going on?

    KERI GEIGER: That is absolutely the case.

    And that is where a lot of this criticism draws. The whole market of high-frequency trading has grown up very quickly in the last few years. And a lot of people don’t understand it. We don’t see a lot of the ways that the data and the trades are processed just by the way the system is set up.

    So that is definitely a major issue for this. And it’s something that people want to see more of.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, finally, what happens next? I mean, what — who gets a chance to look at these recommendations? And when do we know whether this actually is going to take effect?

    KERI GEIGER: Well, this is going to be a process that the SEC will go through. And they will be keeping the public up to date on where they are in this process.

    Of course, there is a review period that has to go on here. So this is definitely a work in progress. We’re in a little bit of wait-and-see mode to see, one, how the market is going to react to this, and at which the speed that the SEC can put some of these changes through.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Keri Geiger with Bloomberg News, we thank you.

    KERI GEIGER: Thank you very much.

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    Photo by U.S. Customs and Border Protection

    Photo by U.S. Customs and Border Protection

    WASHINGTON — Border Patrol agents could arrest as many as 90,000 children trying to illegally cross the Mexican border alone this year, more than three times the number of children apprehended in 2013, according to a draft internal Homeland Security memorandum reviewed by The Associated Press.

    In the May 30 memo from Border Patrol Deputy Chief Ronald Vitiello to the National Security Council’s transborder security directorate, Vitiello said Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics estimates that by 2015 the number of children apprehended while traveling alone could grow to 142,000.

    The government has previously estimated that more than 60,000 children could be apprehended along the border this year. All the estimates are for the government’s fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Children apprehended with their parents are not part of this count of illegal border crossings.

    Most of the children caught crossing alone are from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala and have been apprehended in the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector in South Texas. That sector is the now the Border Patrol’s busiest area along the Mexican border and has seen a significant increase in the number of border crossers from Central America.

    The Homeland Security department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The spike in children trying cross the border alone has forced DHS to divert resources away from other missions, including combating human and drug trafficking, Vitiello wrote in his four-page memo.

    The increase in apprehensions has also led the government to fly some migrants who are from countries other than Mexico to other parts of the border, including Arizona, for processing by Border Patrol agents in less-busy sectors. Many families from countries other than Mexico have been released on their own recognizance in the U.S. while they await deportation proceedings in immigration court.

    Releasing those people and taking other actions such as reuniting children caught alone at the border with parents or other relatives already in the U.S. serve as “incentives to additional individuals to follow the same path,” Vitiello wrote.

    The number of children found trying to cross the Mexican border without parents has spiked in recent years. Between 2008 and 2011, 6,000 to 7,500 children per year ended up in the custody of the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. In 2012 border agents apprehended 13,625 unaccompanied children and that number surged to more than 24,000 last year.

    Vitiello’s memo was drafted just days before President Barack Obama declared the situation on the border an “urgent humanitarian situation” and appointed the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Craig Fugate, to manage the government’s response. In a presidential memo issued Monday, Obama said the government would temporarily house some of the children at two military bases.

    Last month the Office of Management and Budget said in a two-page letter to the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee that the increase in the number of children crossing alone would likely cost the government at least $2.28 billion, about $1.4 billion more than the administration had initially asked lawmakers to budget for its “Unaccompanied Alien Children” program.

    Rampant crime and poverty across Central America and a desire to reunite with parents or other relatives are thought to be driving many of the young immigrants.

    Detained children are supposed to be transferred within 72 hours to HHS to be housed in shelters until they can be reunited with parents or guardians. Officials then begin searching for relatives or other potential guardians in the U.S.

    The average stay for a child in a U.S. shelter last year was 45 days. Most are reunited with family to wait for their immigration cases to move forward. Migrant kids remain in removal proceedings even after they’re reunited with their parents here, though many have been able to win permission from a judge to stay in the U.S.

    The post Border Patrol resources stretched thin as children illegally enter U.S. alone appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Queen bees have no authority. Bee colonies are complex social systems, but they work together without a leader, says entomologist Gene Robinson at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. So how do they decide who does what if no one is in charge?

    Robinson and his colleagues Harry Dankowicz, mechanical engineer at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Whitney Tabor, a psychologist from the University of Connecticut, are studying asynchronous communication to understand how humans and bees work together without direct orders — or without words.

    In Robinson and Dankowicz’s experiments they tag bees with QR codes. Using high speed photography, they record their movements and watch how they interact. Meanwhile, in Tabor’s lab, humans have to work together on a task without talking to each other.

    Science correspondent Miles O’Brien has all the buzz on this story for the National Science Foundation’s series “Science Nation.”*

    *For the record, the National Science Foundation is also an underwriter of the NewsHour.

    The post Forget the queen: bees and humans work together without a leader appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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  • 06/06/14--12:59: CIA posts witty first tweet
  • The Central Intelligence Agency made its Twitter debut today.

    Although the @CIA handle was created Feb. 24, the intelligence agency waited until June 6 to tweet for the first time. Already the CIA has garnered more than 110,000 followers as the tweet goes viral.

    The CIA’s bio reads: “We are the Nation’s first line of defense. We accomplish what others cannot accomplish and go where others cannot go.”

    The post CIA posts witty first tweet appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    If you’ve been to a bookstore or airport kiosk in the past 20 years, you’ve likely seen one or more James Patterson novels out front, their covers emblazoned with bold lettering and edgy illustration suggesting intrigue, sex and danger.

    James Patterson has authored dozens of best-selling novels, including those from the "Alex Cross" detective series.

    James Patterson has authored dozens of best-selling novels, including those from the “Alex Cross” detective series.

    Despite having dozens of best-selling titles to his name, including crime and mystery novels and even children’s books, Patterson is very worried about the present and future of books in America, as the publishing world continues to grapple with the tectonic shifts brought about by the advent of ebooks and their major distributor, Amazon.

    “This is a period of evolution, revolution, whatever you want to call it — big shift into ebooks, and I just think that we have to slow down and make sure it’s an orderly transition,” Patterson told Jeffrey Brown. “And I think that what people need to understand that what’s at risk here is American literature.”

    Earlier this year Patterson announced he would donate $1 million of his own money to independent booksellers around the country, an effort to help them directly and to raise awareness for their struggle to stay afloat.

    Meanwhile Patterson’s publisher, Little, Brown & Co., is owned by Hachette, which is currently undergoing tense contract negotiations with Amazon. As the negotiations drag on, some Hachette titles are being delayed, while upcoming titles have had their pre-order buttons removed.

    At last week’s BookExpo America in New York — the industry’s biggest trade show of the year — Jeffrey Brown spoke to Patterson about his thoughts on the publishing world’s transition, what’s to be done about it and how Patterson went from working at a mental hospital to becoming a literary rock star.

    The interview is part of a broader look at the publishing world airing Friday on the PBS NewsHour.

    The post Digital revolution threatens American literature, says best-selling author James Patterson appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Getty Images

    Photo by Getty Images

    The nation’s largest and most intensive study of how to best prevent seniors’ injuries from falling will begin next year under a $30 million grant announced Wednesday by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

    A diverse group of 6,000 adults over age 75 or their caregivers will be recruited around the country to participate in the study.

    More than 18,000 seniors died as the result of falls in 2010, and thousands more are injured every year, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    “A serious fall that leads to a bone fracture or hospitalization has been demonstrated to be one of the most devastating events in the life of an older person, comparable to a serious stroke,” said Dr. Thomas Gill, a geriatrician and professor at Yale School of Medicine and one of the study’s three principal investigators.

    More than 18,000 seniors died as the result of falls in 2010, and thousands more are injured every year, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.While previous studies have identified those older adults most at risk for serious falls and how to prevent them in an experimental setting, Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, said this new research goes several steps further.

    “We think this study will be unique and play a very critical role in taking the research that has existed to date and translating it to a real advantage to the public,” he said.

    The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which is providing the funding for the study, is an independent organization created by the federal health law to provide strict research on the efficacy of care options to help patients and their health care providers make informed decisions.

    At New York City’s Mount Sinai Health System, one of the study sites, about 600 patients over 75 years old who are living in the community and are at risk for a fall-related injury will test a range of prevention techniques including medication management, physical therapy, home evaluation and referral to community social services, said Dr. Albert Siu, chairman of the Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Care at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine.

    After a year of preparations, the research will be launched next June, explained Dr. Evan Hadley, the NIA’s director of geriatrics and clinical gerontology. Seniors who have risk factors for possible falls, such as poor vision or gait or balance problems, will be divided into several groups at each study site. Some groups will receive the usual care for these symptoms, which could include, for example, physical therapy.

    But patients in the test groups will receive a thorough assessment of all their risk factors. A “falls care manager,” a registered nurse, will coordinate a care plan for that patient that includes a range of treatments. Participants will be observed for three years.


    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. Jay Hancock contributed to this report.

    The post New $30 million study will examine devastating senior falls appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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