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

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    kurdishforces

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News filed this view of the intensified fighting from Irbil.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN, ITN: Outside Kirkuk, Iraqi troops from the 12th Division were filmed trying to halt the Islamist advance.

    But it seems they didn’t try for long. Somebody filmed the Iraqi soldiers fleeing, many of them in civilian clothing, and apparently leaving behind this military base as a playground for jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

    Some playground. From this footage, we could count 14 abandoned tanks. And so it was that Kurdish peshmerga fighters moved in to occupy Kirkuk, they said to stop it from falling, Kirkuk, the city that Kurds have long claimed as their historical capital.

    The Kurdish fighters here argue that they are the only force for stability in this region because so much of the Iraqi army has collapsed. But the temptation for the Kurds is to hold on to Kirkuk come what may, not just because of its oil wealth, but because they have always wanted it as part of a future Kurdish state. And a Kurdish state is what might eventually happen here if Iraq does indeed collapse.

    At this checkpoint north of Kirkuk, we found Kurdish forces inspecting the cars of refugees for jihadist weapons and bomb-making equipment. One of their commanders had earlier survived a roadside bomb attack, but one of his men didn’t.

    Rajab Ali says he was a refugee from Aleppo in Syria. He had fled to Kirkuk to safety and now he was fleeing again, he and his family struggling to stay ahead of the jihadists’ lightning advance.

    And from Tikrit, Omar Gazi, a restaurant owner, he took these photographs of the jihadists before he packed up and left town, fearing that his throat would be cut if he stayed.

    OMAR GAZI: When he see I have money, I have big restaurant, he take me outside and calling my family, I need $1 million. And when he take this million dollars, he kill me, you know?

    JONATHAN RUGMAN: That’s what you thought might happen?

    OMAR GAZI: Yes, because all these people, they don’t have…

    JONATHAN RUGMAN: Did you see any foreign fighters?

    OMAR GAZI: … don’t understand everything.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN: Did you see any foreign fighters, people from outside Iraq?

    OMAR GAZI: Yes, yes, yes. I’m seeing maybe Afghanistan men and Syrian men.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN: But how could you tell?

    OMAR GAZI: Because the face is different, you know? And when he say hello, like, language — language of Pakistani not the same language Iraqi.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN: In this footage from Mosul further north, you can hear what sounds like a jihadi with a British accent reveling in the city’s capture yesterday.

    MAN: We are celebrating. It’s a big achievement.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN: And there’s no doubt, from an audio message to its followers, that ISIS believes it now has in its sights Baghdad itself.

    MAN (through interpreter): We have a score to settle.

    The post Kurdish troops take Kirkuk after Iraqi forces flee appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    POLARIZED AMERICA  MONITOR

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    GWEN IFILL: A huge new Pew Research Center study of 10,000 American adults finds us more divided than ever, with personal and political polarization at a 20-year high.

    The number of people identifying themselves as either consistently liberal or consistently conservative has doubled in the last decade. They are less likely to compromise and often decide where to live, who to marry, and who their friends should be based on what they already believe.

    Joining us now to talk about the new American extremes are Michael Dimock, vice president of research at Pew and the lead author on the survey, and Amy Walter, national editor at The Cook Political Report.

    Let’s start with the self-labeling question, Michael Dimock, 10 percent in 1994, 2004 — 11 percent in 2004, 21 in 2014. People said they were either consistently liberal or consistently conservative.

    MICHAEL DIMOCK, Pew Research Center: Right, and we’re not even going by what people call themselves.

    We’re actually asking you a series of questions about major political values, the role of government, social issues, are immigrants a benefit to our society or a harm to our society, and what we’re finding is more and more people consistently answering all of those questions in a liberal or a conservative direction, still a minority, at 21 percent, but doubling over the last 20 years.

    GWEN IFILL: And still people like each other a lot less, growing partisan antipathy. It’s gone from, 1994, Democratic attitudes about the Republican Party from 16 percent all the way to 38 percent as very unfavorable now, same thing for Republicans, from 17 percent in 1994 to 43 percent in 19 — in 2014.

    MICHAEL DIMOCK: Right.

    I mean, it’s not unusual to kind of dislike the other party, but now the very unfavorable, from pollster-speak, is up. And we asked a follow-up question. We said, well, would you so far as to say the other party poses a threat to the well-being of the nation, or wouldn’t you go that far?  Most of those people would go that far. You have more than a third of Republicans saying the Democratic Party is a threat to the nation, more than a quarter of Democrats saying the same thing about the Republicans.

    GWEN IFILL: Amy, what is the chicken and what is the egg here?

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: Is it that people choose to live among people like themselves and therefore they become like that, or because they decide that they believe — have this set of beliefs and they choose to only associate with people like themselves?

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Well, so I think there’s probably a little bit of both. Right?

    And that — technology has only helped to exacerbate this. So, there was a time in which it’s not just that you choose to live in communities where people think a lot like you. And this study definitely showed that, that people who are more liberal live in urban areas. People who are more conservative live in rural areas.

    They cite things like diversity, if you’re liberal, as the most important value for them. Out in the rural areas, where Republicans are, they cite religious issues, having an ability to connect on religious issues, as their most important value.

    And then it gets exacerbated by the fact that you can literally isolate yourself now in a bubble thanks to our technology. On the Internet, on cable television, you never, ever now have to see or hear anything that disagrees with your world view or your ideological point of view.

    GWEN IFILL: Anecdotally, we kind of knew this. It’s kind of stunning to see the numbers.

    AMY WALTER: Right.

    GWEN IFILL: It is just about politics, Michael, or is it about everything that we are?

    MICHAEL DIMOCK: Well, it goes further, picking up on what Amy said.

    Some of the choices that may lead to those, what some people call echo chambers, where your own views just get rebounded, they made not be choices made on political grounds.

    They are choices that you’re making for other priorities in your life, but they’re correlated with politics and they lead you to be around other people who share your views, whether it’s preferring to live in a big house that’s far from things, even if you have to drive, which 75 percent of conservatives tell us is important to them, or living in a small community, where you can walk to things, even if you have to live in a smaller house, which 75 percent of liberals say would be their preference.

    GWEN IFILL: What happens to the middle? Do they fall into the chasm? We have a number here on political compromise, right? Thirty-four percent who are consistently liberal don’t really much believe in compromise; 33 percent who are consistently conservative don’t much believe in compromise, but in the middle, there are 54 percent who are neither chicken nor egg, just to stick with our poultry comparison…

    GWEN IFILL: … who say, you know, maybe.

    AMY WALTER: So here’s the problem.

    And the study points this out, too. Those people are the majority, but they’re not the majority of voters. They don’t show up to vote, especially in primaries. The people who are the most engaged voters are also the most ideologically partisan and they’re also the ones who dislike the other party the most.

    What’s driving them to the polls in most cases is not love for their party, but the dislike for the other side.

    GWEN IFILL: Is that part of what of what we saw in this week’s big political surprise in Virginia?

    AMY WALTER: Absolutely. Absolutely.

    The people who are the most motivated to go out and vote are the people that fit into this consistently liberal/consistently conservative category. And the people in the middle, they stay home.

    And so we talk about government — you get the government that you elected. Well, we have gotten that we have elected, that 10 to 20 percent of the electorate has voted for. And so those folks in the middle, their voice isn’t heard. In some cases, it because they haven’t put their voice out there. They haven’t voted.

    GWEN IFILL: Is partisanship the same thing, Michael, as polarization? Are we mixing terms?

    MICHAEL DIMOCK: You’re mixing a little bit.

    The political scientists would want us to hold those things apart. And we tried here to be true to that. Ideology, the way you think about the world, your priorities, what the role of government is, that’s one element of this. And we’re seeing this sorting out, as some would call it, into these wings, so to speak.

    But partisanship, I think, is more about this us-vs.-them mentality, idea that the other side is a threat, idea that the other side is really, really wrong, but there’s no middle ground in this thing.

    So the compromise figures for most Americans, when they say, where should Obama and Republicans end up when they disagree, most Americans, 50/50. It’s just natural. Split the difference. But to the folks on the left and the right, that’s not the natural meeting point. That’s not where they should end up.

    They should — the liberals tell us that Obama should get two-thirds of what he wants in any deal with the Republicans. And the conservatives say the same thing the other way.

    GWEN IFILL: So, on specific issues, the most partisan of the issues we debate all the time, gun rights, or abortion, or immigration reform, this doesn’t bode well.

    AMY WALTER: Right, because of what we’re saying in a — what we, as a broader electorate, are saying, we want people to compromise.

    When we look at the people who are turning out and voting, those people have no desire to compromise. In fact, that is the absolute opposite of what they would like to see. So, it’s not even so much about the policy itself. It’s the idea that the — that they could be in a room with somebody from a different party actually coming up with an agenda where both sides have to give in.

    GWEN IFILL: So, it’s policy-specific, Michael?

    MICHAEL DIMOCK: It is and it isn’t.

    I mean, one of the interesting things that we also wanted to tease out is just because you’re consistently liberal on views or consistently conservative doesn’t necessarily make you extreme. It doesn’t mean that you hold really hard-line views.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    MICHAEL DIMOCK: And, in fact, one of the challenges of finding a center that can create a countervailing force is, the center is really fragmented. It’s all over the place, and they’re not necessarily moderate in their views. They’re not always looking for the middle ground.

    Many of them hold very, very strong views on issues like abortion or homosexuality or the role of government. It’s just that they don’t fit cleanly into ideological categories. They’re a little bit all over the map, and, therefore, really hard to gather into a new force in politics.

    AMY WALTER: That’s right.

    GWEN IFILL: Michael Dimock of the Pew Research Center, Amy Walter of Cook Political Report, thank you. This is an amazing piece of study work.

    MICHAEL DIMOCK: Thank you.

    GWEN IFILL: Thank you.

    The post Pew study finds more polarized Americans increasingly resistant to political compromise appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The host nation's fans expect nothing less than a World Cup championship. Photo by Flickr user Ronnie Macdonald

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The biggest tournament on the planet got under way today. Police and protesters clashed again in Sao Paulo earlier in the day about six miles away from the stadium. There were protests in Rio as well.

    But most of the attention on the opening day of soccer’s World Cup was focused on the first contest featuring the host country, Brazil.

    Brazil breathed a sigh of relief after defeating Croatia 3-1 in a win that included two goals from its star striker, Neymar.

    Jeffrey Brown has a preview, starting with some background, followed by a conversation recorded before today’s match.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Soccer fans from around the world flocked to the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo today, as celebrations kicked off the 20th edition of the FIFA World Cup.

    Supporters of the host team were out in force, revving up for the opening match of the competition, Brazil against Croatia.

    MAN (through interpreter): I feel a lot of emotion, a lot of joy. It’s a pleasure to see all the world here. It’s very good.

    JEFFREY BROWN: That, of course, comes after a mostly bad lead-up, featuring construction delays and accidents, and protests over the costs of hosting the World Cup.

    Even as demonstrations continued today, the main event got under way, with 32 countries participating in the world’s most watched sporting event. Five-time champion Brazil is one favorite to take this year’s Cup. Another top contender, Spain, warmed up for the competition with a so-called friendly match last weekend in Washington, D.C., against El Salvador. That match and others around the U.S. drew large crowds, part of what soccer fans here hope is a continuing and growing trend to connect this country to the rest of the world’s intense love for the sport.

    MICHAEL RAMIREZ: So much of the world plays. I think it’s a really important way to connect with somebody, with the — in the rest of the world in a way that the United States really hasn’t. The more we can connect on any level, I think it’s great. So I think soccer is just another way.

    JEFFREY BROWN: For its part, the U.S. team, led by its new coach, former German star Jurgen Klinsmann, will play its first match on Monday, taking on Ghana. The World Cup will continue through July 13, when the championship match will be played in Rio.

    And we get our own viewers guide from the Cup. It comes from Tommy Smyth, soccer analyst for ESPN, who will be featured on a nightly show during the matches called “ESPN FC.” And Matthew Futterman is a special senior writer covering us this for The Wall Street Journal. He joins us from Sao Paulo.

    And, Matthew, let me start with you.

    And with the host team, which is of course always a powerhouse, we’re talking before the first match. What are the expectations this time for Brazil?

    MATTHEW FUTTERMAN, The Wall Street Journal: Well, for a country like Brazil, there’s only one expectation, and that’s to win the World Cup. That’s the way they go into these big tournaments. That’s what’s expected of them. That’s what hoped for, and anything less will be considered a failure.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Tremendous pressure on them, right, as always, especially in their own home nation?

    MATTHEW FUTTERMAN: Absolutely, tremendous pressure.

    And with Brazil, what’s unique is that there’s not just tremendous pressure to win the games, but it’s to win them beautifully. It’s to play a style of soccer that comes with sort of acrobatics and heel passes and all sorts of fanciness that has enthralled generations of Brazilians. So they have to win and they also have to win with style.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, so Tommy Smyth, broaden it out a bit. What other teams should people be watching? What are you — who are you watching?

    TOMMY SMYTH, ESPN: Well, I’m going to be watching — I mean, Argentina certainly are a team that you’re going to have to watch.

    They’re playing in South America. They have one of — arguably the best player in the world on it, Messi. You have got Portugal, who has arguably the second best player, or some people say the best player in the world, Ronaldo.

    You have got the Italians, who are always there. The Germans are star-studded. Some people think the English are going to do it. So, there’s a host of teams to watch. There’s no shortage of good teams in this World Cup, believe me.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Tommy, you mentioned all the great and good teams. Are there any dark horses, any nontraditional powerhouses that might win this or might do really well?

    TOMMY SMYTH: Well, I say just mark on your little notebook the name of Belgium, because Belgium has really come through qualifying in Europe. They were unbelievable. They’re an incredible team.

    If the pressure and all the hype doesn’t get to them, Belgium could be your very, very dark horse for this World Cup. I fancy they are going to go a long way.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, so, Matthew, then there’s the U.S., of course, right?

    And I know you have been following them here and down there. A new coach, he took some dramatic action, leaving off the squad one of the most famous — the most famous players, perhaps. What’s the situation for the U.S. team?

    MATTHEW FUTTERMAN: I think the U.S. is feeling very good about themselves right now.

    I was just with them on Wednesday. Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the German you spoke about, he seems very relaxed, very excited. He has a very positive outlook. They’re going up against Ghana in their first game on Monday. Ghana eliminated the U.S. the last two World Cups. They’re determined to make that not happen for a third time.

    This is an interesting team. It’s got several German-Americans on the team. But they have really sort of come together. They’re on a bit of a roll lately. They have won three games in a row, their three pre-tournament matches before they came here, and they’re really feeling good about themselves.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Tommy Smyth, what do you think about the chances for the U.S. team?

    TOMMY SMYTH: Well, the key is how they do against Ghana.

    If they lose against Ghana, I have a feeling they will be home before the postcards, because Portugal and Germany, I don’t see them getting anything out of it. So, my key for the U.S. is you have got to get — it’s a cliche, I know, but this is a must-win game. The first game to me is a must-win game.

    And, you know, maybe third time is the charm, because Ghana has already knocked them out twice, so the U.S. certainly owe them one.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And it’s funny, Tommy, because the coach, Klinsmann, is even telling everyone that the U.S. has no chance to win this thing, right?

    So that’s a little unusual psychology going into a World Cup or any match.

    TOMMY SMYTH: Yes, I’m not sure I ever played under a coach who told me I couldn’t go out and that he didn’t think I was going to win. Even when he didn’t think I was going to win, he told me I was going to win.

    I don’t quite understand what Klinsmann is doing, but I will tell you one thing. If he wins, he is going to be a hero. But if he loses, I would hate to be walking in Mr. Klinsmann’s shoes afterwards.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: Matthew Futterman, just tell us the sort of general themes of this World Cup and of the world of football, soccer these days. One certainly is globalization, that these players, this is sort of a national competition. But these players, they play all over the world, don’t they?

    MATTHEW FUTTERMAN: Yes, they do play all over the world, although there is a little bit of a trend among the Brazilians, strangely enough, that since there’s more money in Brazil now, they actually play — some of the best Brazilians actually play in the domestic league.

    But, yes, it used to be for years the South American players were sort of the magic, creative players, but Europe had these great powerhouse teams that were sort of technically more sophisticated in terms of strategy and that was what prevailed.

    That is sort of — they have each drawn from each other in recent years, where the Europeans have become very sort of skilled with their feet and very technical in that sense, and the South American teams have gotten much more disappointed and much more organized, and I think you’re going to see here on South American soil some of those teams do very well.

    Tommy mentioned Belgium as a dark horse. I would keep an eye on Chile and I would also keep an eye on some of the other South American teams, because they all feel very comfortable here, it’s very close to their home, and, remember, the Europeans have never lifted the World Cup trophy in this part of the world.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Tommy Smyth, what would you add to that just in terms of how the game itself has changed in terms the globalization and the nature of where players play these days?

    TOMMY SMYTH: Well, they do call it the world game.

    And they have taken it to another level. Believe me, all you have to do now is find a grandfather or a grandmother that actually came from one country, and you can play for another country. There’s a great example of a player, Diego Costa, who is playing for Spain. Now, keep in mind Spain already won the World Cup the last time around.

    Diego Costa is a Brazilian who has signed to play with Spain, so the Brazilian is actually going back home to his own country to play for another country. So that in itself is just so unique, and I have never seen it happen before.

    JEFFREY BROWN: That’s a little head-spinning, isn’t it, as we start this World Cup?

    TOMMY SMYTH: It certainly is.

    I mean, I know people out there are saying, yes, but you Irish guys did it for a long time. Look at all the English guys you took in and had play for them. But this is something different and I think it’s much more major. Believe me, it’s a different trend. And I don’t know. I think it’s one that’s going to continue. You are not going to see the end of it very soon.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, all to unfold over the coming weeks.

    Tommy Smyth and Matthew Futterman, thank you both very much.

    TOMMY SMYTH: Thank you very much.

    MATTHEW FUTTERMAN: Thanks for having me.

    GWEN IFILL: Today on Twitter, we asked you: What do you find most beautiful about the game? Tweet us your response @NewsHour.

    The post For Brazil, it’s not just about winning World Cup, it’s winning with style appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    ECONOMIC DIVIDE WORLD  MONITOR

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: a conversation about the scope of growing inequality, not only in the U.S., but in other countries around the world.

    It’s the focus of new research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD.

    Among its findings: Income inequality has been rising over the past three decades, in the U.S. most of all, but also in other countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and France. The OECD also said the share of income going to the richest citizens grew in many countries, with the wealthiest 1 percent of the population in the U.S. more than doubling their share since 1980 to nearly 20 percent of all income.

    Secretary-General Angel Gurria is the head of the OECD. He was in Washington today for a speech on the subject.

    And he joins me now.

    Welcome to the NewsHour.

    ANGEL GURRIA, Secretary-General, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, the first thing I have to ask you is, this OECD, an organization founded in Europe, principally around European countries, interested in inequality in the U.S. Why?

    ANGEL GURRIA: Well, first of all, the organization was founded by the United States because it’s a successor to the Marshall Plan. The United States are heavily invested in the organization and heavily invested in Europe, of course.

    And, second, it happens to be based in Paris, but it has 34 members, 20 of which are European. The rest are non-Europeans. They’re from all over the world, and of course the United States is a very important member.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, tell me, what did you find in terms of inequality that disturbed you so much? This is a big focus for you.

    ANGEL GURRIA: Before the crisis, inequality had been rising already.

    In 2008, after three years of research — we started 10 years ago — and then in 2008, we issued a report “Growing Unequal?” — with a question mark.

    Well, a little later, we removed the question mark because it was very obvious that we were growing unequally and that the differences in fact were growing very fast. In 2011, after three years of crisis, we found that inequality had grown faster in those — 2009, 2010 and 2011 than the 12 years before.

    It accelerated, to the point where it was becoming a very serious social, political and practical issue, besides the ethical and moral underpinning. So it is a problem to which no country is alien, but the speed and the situation today makes it a formidable obstacle for the recovery, for the economic recovery.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, quickly explain why that is. Why is that a worry for people who care about economic growth? And what do you think needs to be done about it?

    ANGEL GURRIA: Because, for every 1 percent that inequality grows, you will have a drop in growth of about 0.2, 0.3 percent.

    That means a more unequal society will grow less, and inequality becomes an obstacle to growth in and of itself. Second, the problem is not just a question of income. It’s also a question of inequality of opportunities, inequality of access to health services, inequality of access to education, inequality to access to employment opportunities.

    And these have been also growing, and they have been polarizing. They have been concentrating on the wealthiest. And you have been left now with a legacy of a very large group of people with lower, dropping wages, and that are also missing opportunities. And the problem is they’re going to also leave their children a legacy with lower possibilities.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So what do you see as the main remedy?

    ANGEL GURRIA: Main remedies are activation policies, meaning get services in the governments that will get the people who are unemployed or seeking for employment with the job opportunities.

    This is not being done enough. The United States spends one-fourth of what the rest of the OECD countries spend on this particular service, getting the unemployed or seeking employment with the employment opportunities.

    Second, skills, education and skills. There’s a big mismatch between the skills and what the market is demanding. Therefore, your — you have people have diplomas, but they can’t do very much with it. Third, use a tax structure and use a budget in order to support companies that may be providing jobs or better opportunities.

    And last but not least, remember, this is a problem that is affecting the capacity of the United States to get the people at the lowest revenue levels and at the lowest education levels to get up in the ladder, in the social ladder, in the ladder of opportunities.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But these are all prescriptions that involve more government involvement and spending more tax dollars or raising taxes, solutions that politically in the United States not very popular. Conservatives would push back and say some of these things would hurt growth, they would not help, to raise taxes, for example.

    ANGEL GURRIA: This is a great opportunity for bipartisan support of an agenda which maybe one or the other party, if they so choose to not support, would do at their peril, because we’re talking here about — not about government intervention, but about government doing what they were voted in to do, which is to protect the most vulnerable.

    And, second, it is about leveling the playing field, something which Republicans, Democrats and governments, socialists and conservatives in other parts of the world, in Europe, et cetera, all are supporting.

    And, last, which is a country, for example, where inequality has grown more in the last few years? Well, would you believe Sweden, a country that is reputed to be very equal in that sense? So, the problem is generalized. It’s not just in the United States. It’s just that inequality has grown faster in the United States, and also where this is now becoming very evident where we have to address it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it is an issue that is many-layered. The report is fascinating. I think it’s certainly worth discussing and debating.

    The secretary-general of the OECD, Angel Gurria, we thank you very much for talking with us about it.

    ANGEL GURRIA: Thank you very much. It’s a great privilege.

    And, right now, the bestselling book in Amazon is a book about inequality. President Obama said the defining issue in the rest of his administration would be inequality. So we seem to be focusing on the right — on the right issues.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All the more reason we’re glad to have you.

    ANGEL GURRIA: Thank you so much.

    The post How to combat the tightening grip of inequality around the globe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Seals, dolphins, whales, and other sea life that were caught in California commercial fishing boats that use drift gill nets. (Courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

    Seals, dolphins, whales, and other sea life that were caught in California commercial fishing boats that use drift gillnets. Photos by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    (Warning: this post contains graphic images)

    Photos of dead sea mammals and fish that were caught in fishing nets have outraged conservationists. Oceana, an international organization that focuses on ocean conservation, recently obtained these photos in February through a freedom of information request. The photos were taken over the last ten years or so by federal employees of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, who were monitoring by-catch: fish and other marine creatures caught by accident during commercial fishing.

    The photos show seals, dolphins, whales, and other sea life that were caught in California commercial fishing boats that use drift gillnets — one mile-long mesh nets that are intended to catch swordfish, but end up catching other sea life as well.

    DS-DN2000-12

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    “In terms of the known deaths and mortality to a lot of these iconic species, whether you’re talking about large sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, and whales, I’m not aware of a single other activity that humans are doing that is actually causing the direct death of such a large suite and number of animals,” says Geoff Shester, California Program Director for Oceana.

    Shester estimates that for every five swordfish caught, one marine mammal dies in a gillnet because it either suffocates or succumbs to wounds inflicted by the net.

    192-DN1999-3

    While the practice of using drift gill-nets was outlawed in California State Waters for most types of fishing more than two decades ago, sword fishing was exempt, only facing some restrictions. Now Oceana is supporting a new legislation in California to ban the use of gillnets for sword fishing as well.

    CC-DN2001-1

    But commercial sword fishermen in California argue that the industry is already highly regulated, compelling fishermen to lower their drift gillnets lower into the water so that air breathing marine mammals like dolphins and seals don’t get trapped.

    Kathy Fosmark, whose family owns two sword fishing vessels, says that outlawing gillnets would spell doom for the California swordfish industry.

    “Most of the fishermen would probably go out of business,” Fosmark said. But to her relief, and the disappointment of conservationists, the proposed bill to ban gill-nets failed to make it past the Water, Parks and Wildlife Assembly Committee by just one vote.

    PBS NewsHour Weekend will air a full report on Saturday.

    The post Photos of dead sea life shock and anger conservationists appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo: Getty Images

    Photo: Getty Images

    Updated June 12, 9:00 p.m. EDT | Rep. Pete Sessions dropped out of the race for majority leader Thursday evening, leaving Rep. Kevin McCarthy as the lone remaining candidate for the second most powerful post in the House of Representatives.


    “Today, it became obvious to me that the measures necessary to run a successful campaign would have created unnecessary and painful division within our party,” Sessions said in a statement released to the NewsHour. “At this critical time, we must remain unified as a Republican Conference. As always, I stand ready and willing to work with our team to advance the conservative agenda that the American people demand and deserve.”

    House Republicans will vote Thursday, June 19 to select a new majority leader.

    June 12, 6:56 p.m. EDT | A day after Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced he’d step down from his leadership post, there’s a bit of a clearer picture of who is looking to replace him in next week’s leadership election.

    Current Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California is at the moment the favorite to fill Cantor’s spot, in part because a potential rival exited the race Thursday. Jeb Hensarling of Texas announced he wasn’t running.

    “I have come to the conclusion that this is not the right office at the right time for me and my family,” he said in a statement. Hensarling declined to answer additional questions from the NewsHour about his decision.

    That now leaves another Texan, Pete Sessions, as McCarthy’s main opponent. GOP members of the Texas delegation met for lunch Thursday at the Capitol, where Sessions and and company discussed the leadership race.

    If early media coverage is any indication, Sessions has his work cut out for him. And with members already heading home for the weekend, and the House not in session Monday, there aren’t many working days left until the leadership elections a week from Thursday. Although surely campaigning via text and phone call will continue throughout the weekend.

    House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday declined to publicly endorse anyone in the race. But 2012 vice-presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., threw his support to McCarthy with Hensarling officially out.

    Fellow Texan and freshman Republican Randy Weber spoke to reporters after that lunch meeting to make the case for the Sessions camp.

    Sessions ran the National Republican Campaign Committee, which is charged with electing Republicans to the House, in the past two campaign cycles. Weber was elected in 2012, and Republicans regained control of the House in 2010.

    “Pete was demonstrably the leader in the NRCC when we came in,” Weber said. “Will that work to his advantage? I think it does.”

    But, he conceded McCarthy has an advantage because he is already the whip. And the whip – is in charge of counting votes.

    “Does he have an advantage being the whip?” Weber asked. “Yeah, that definitely gives him an advantage. He has everybody’s contact numbers. Kevin has emails, private emails, private cell phones. From that standpoint he might have a bit more communication information than the chairman does.”

    And while Sessions and McCarthy battle for votes to become the next majority leader, a post second in seniority only to the Speaker of the House, there is also a concurrent campaign to replace McCarthy at whip. That is, presuming he beats Sessions.

    The NewsHour confirmed that Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman, who was swept in with the 2010 tea party wave, added his name to the race for whip. He will face off against Deputy Whip Peter Roskam of Illinois, a McCarthy ally, as well as Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee.

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    Since 1998, more than $41 billion has been spent by companies, unions and other organizations to lobby federal agencies and the U.S. Congress. In 2013, more than 9,900 lobbyists spent $3.23 billion trying to influence law writers and policy makers. But which agencies do they target most?

    To answer that, we took a look at the 10 agencies that received the most filings per year. By law, lobbyists must file their activities four times annually. While the rules around reporting are dense, the reports must include the lobbyists’ estimated income and expenses, their client’s name and position, and the specific issues lobbied.

    “We can’t measure how much money is being spent on each issue, each agency, each piece of legislation, but looking at filings is a sign of activity,” said Russ Choma of the Center for Responsive Politics. “It’s a sign of how much effort is being put in.”

    While anyone who petitions the government or contacts their member of Congress is technically functioning as a lobbyist, professional lobbyists are mainly lawyers, often as part of a firm, who are paid to influence legislators. Lobbying activities can include researching and presenting information to congressional staff, meeting with members of Congress and agency officials, arranging testimony for congressional hearings, and creating advertising campaigns.

    The more clients a lobbyist has, the more reports they will file. And the more important an issue is, the more clients — including lawmakers and staff members — a lobbyist will see to try to influence. And while these reports don’t necessarily capture the full picture of the lobbying activity happening at of a federal agency — there’s more going on than legally has to be reported — they do give us a good idea of the trends.

    What’s the short answer to ‘which agencies get lobbied the most’? It depends on what major issues are being discussed on the Hill. Of the nearly 250 agencies tracked by the Center for Responsive Politics, it’s hardly surprising that the ones responsible for making the laws, the U.S. House and Senate, top the list at No. 1 and 2, respectively, of the 10 most-lobbied government bodies every year since 1998, according to filings.

    But after the legislature, agencies dip in and out of various rankings year after year — sometimes falling off the list entirely — as different issues come up.

    “Whenever you have any issue or situation that drives any sort of legislative activity, you’re going to have a correlating uptick in lobbying activity,” said Danielle Staudt, executive director of AGRP.

    The Environmental Protection Agency fell steadily down the list from 1998 to 2003, when it dropped off the top 10. But since 2008, it’s been climbing and is currently ranked as the No. 4 most-lobbied agency.

    “It’s not surprising during a period of time in which most environmental rules were pretty stifled, it wasn’t a good expenditure or use of time for lobbyists to go visit that agency,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. She also noted the uptick for Health and Human Services was likely due to the Affordable Care Act.

    “I don’t anticipate that going down anytime soon,” she said, referring to the fact that the law is not yet fully implemented.

    In general, the ups and downs can be attributed to major legislation and what administrations are trying to pass.

    “You’ll see general stuff, like the increase of lobbying of agencies after the Recovery Act passed in 2009, where all of a sudden the agencies had a full fiscal year of federal funding and had to get it out the door,” said Richard Gold, a partner at the firm Holland & Knight. “And you’ll see continued increases in the domestic agencies after 2010 when appropriations earmarks went away and grants became the main vehicle in town, so to speak, for federal funding.”

    A couple of notes about the data: These reports are based on registered lobbyists who are required to file. Data for 2014 is so far incomplete as it only includes the first quarter. Second quarter records will be made available sometime in July after the quarter ends June 30. The “undetermined” category that shows up in 2007 and 2008 are the result of a tagging error from the Senate Office of Public Records, despite that tag not appearing on the reports. So while not “real,” they effectively bump an agency off the top 10 list for those two years. Because only the top 10 are available, we decided to leave the undetermined category in, rather than leave those spots blank. The methodology is described here.

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    House Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is no longer the lone Republican vying for the majority leader position Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., vacated earlier this week.

    Idaho’s Raul Labrador, first elected in 2010 when the tea party wave swept Republicans into power in the House of Representatives, joined the contest Friday. Labrador declared Cantor’s primary defeat to a tea party upstart Tuesday meant “Americans are looking for a change in the status quo.”

    “I want a House Leadership team that reflects the best of our conference,” Labrador said in a statement. “A leadership team that can bring the Republican conference together. A leadership team that can help unite and grow our party. Americans don’t believe their leaders in Washington are listening and now is the time to change that.”

    Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas dropped out of the race late Thursday night. For a few hours, McCarthy looked like a lock for the House’s No. 2 spot, but look for Labrador to make his case with the newer and more conservative members of the Republican conference.

    Labrador’s entrance into the race was welcomed by tea party groups like FreedomWorks. But his bid also highlights divisions in the party over immigration reform.

    Labrador was involved in bipartisan negotiations to write an immigration reform bill in the House, but dropped out of the process last year.

    Ironically, in his successful primary challenge to Cantor, college professor Dave Brat, criticized his opponent as soft on immigration.

    Meanwhile, McCarthy’s home district is more than one-third Hispanic, and the front-runner for the majority leader spot has supported a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants.

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    SAN ANTONIO — Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant who has been recovering in Germany after five years as a Taliban captive in Afghanistan, returned to the United States early Friday to continue his medical treatment.

    A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, said Bergdahl flew to Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio from Ramstein Air Base.

    While at the Texas Army base, Bergdahl “will continue the next phase of his reintegration process,” Kirby said, adding there was no timeline for the process.

    “Our focus remains on his health and well-being,” he said. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “is confident that the Army will continue to ensure that Sgt. Bergdahl receives the care, time and space he needs to complete his recovery and reintegration,” the spokesman said in a statement.

    The Idaho native was captured in Afghanistan in June 2009 and released by the Taliban on May 31 in a deal struck by the Obama administration in which five senior Taliban officials were released from detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    Officials in Washington said Bergdahl would be reunited with his family at Brooke and spend an undetermined period there in further recuperation. Early Friday, it was not clear if the family had yet arrived at Fort Sam Houston.

    A mass of journalists spent a rainy night crammed into a small parking lot outside Fort Sam Houston. Army officials said no media would be allowed onto the base or in the hospital, and a news conference was scheduled for Friday afternoon at a nearby golf course.

    Army, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had been recovering in Germany after being released from the Taliban on May 31.  Undated photo by U.S. Army

    Army, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had been recovering in Germany after being released from the Taliban on May 31. Undated photo by U.S. Army

    Officials have kept a lid on details of Bergdahl’s condition out of concern that he not be rushed back into the public spotlight after a lengthy period in captivity and amid a public uproar over the circumstances of his capture and release.

    The Army has not formally begun a new review into the circumstances of Bergdahl’s capture and whether he walked away without leave or was deserting the Army when he was found and taken by insurgents.

    In a statement Friday, the Army said that after Bergdahl’s reintegration it would “continue its comprehensive review into the circumstances of his disappearance and captivity.”

    The answers to those questions will be key to whether Bergdahl will receive more than $300,000 in back pay owed to him since he disappeared. If he was determined to have been a prisoner of war, he also could receive roughly another $300,000 or more, if recommended and approved by Army leaders.

    Before his departure from Germany on Thursday, officials in Washington said Bergdahl would not receive the automatic Army promotion that would have taken effect this month if he were still in captivity. Now that he is back in U.S. military control, any future promotions would depend on his performance and achievement of certain training and education milestones.

    Bergdahl had been at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany since June 1, the day after the prisoner exchange.

    Many have criticized the Obama administration for agreeing to release five Taliban prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl. Some of Bergdahl’s former Army colleagues have accused him of deserting his post.

    Critics also have said the five Taliban members could return to the battlefield. Administration officials have told Congress that four of the five Taliban officials likely will rejoin the fight.

    In congressional testimony Wednesday, Hagel called the former Taliban government officials “enemy belligerents” but said they hadn’t been implicated in any attacks against the United States. He said Qatar, which has agreed to keep the five inside the country for a year, promised sufficient security measures to warrant making the swap for Bergdahl.

    Hagel also said Bergdahl was early in the process of recovering from the trauma of captivity.

    “This guy was held for almost five years in God knows what kind of conditions,” Hagel said. “This is not just about `Can he get on his feet and walk and get to a plane.’”

    Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.

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    Dave Brat made sure to shake hands with everyone that walked by him at the Ashland Strawberry Faire a week before his win over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Photo by Rachel Wellford.

    Dave Brat made sure to shake hands with everyone that walked by him at the Ashland Strawberry Faire a week before his win over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Photo by Rachel Wellford.

    RICHMOND, Va. — The giant slayer isn’t quite ready for his close up.

    For the three days since Dave Brat took down House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the GOP primary Tuesday, he’s been holed up in his suburban home, avoiding the reporters and TV trucks waiting out front. While the world wants to know more about the economics professor turned sudden tea party star, Brat’s in hiding, apparently unprepared for the tempest he unleashed.

    “I need a few days to decompress after that election,” Brat told a CNN crew when he briefly emerged Thursday to get a haircut. “I need a few days to decompress after that election,” Brat told a CNN crew when he briefly emerged Thursday to get a haircut.

    In a text message to The Associated Press, Brat said he was not doing any public appearances and had “shut down for a week with the family.” On election night, the 49-year-old said he was looking forward to a steak dinner with his wife to make up for having celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary while on the campaign trail.

    Brat is set to square off against Democrat Jack Trammell, who like Brat teaches at the tiny Randolph-Macon College just north of Richmond, in the general election. Virginia’s 7th District leans heavily Republican and went for Republican Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama by 57 percent to 42 percent in 2012.

    From home, Brat has done several media interviews by phone but has mostly tried to steer clear of policy issues.

    “Hey Chuck, I thought we were just going to chat today about the celebratory aspect,” Brat said Tuesday in an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd when asked about his position on sending arms to Syria.

    Brat said he’s receiving media inquiries from all over the world, including from China and Saudi Arabia.

    The campaign brought on a new spokeswoman, Rachel Semmel, after Tuesday’s win to help manage the situation.

    “Right now, I’m only speaking off the record,” said Semmel, a former spokeswoman for Arizona Congressman David Schweikert.

    A statement sent to the media on Friday — attributed only to an unnamed campaign spokeswoman — said Brat would be spending Father’s Day weekend with his family at home and would release a schedule of events on Monday.

    Brat’s retreat from the national spotlight underscores how few people — including, apparently, the candidate — saw Tuesday’s victory coming. The father of two was viewed by virtually everyone as a longshot to dethrone Cantor, who had raised nearly $5 million for the campaign compared to $200,000 raised by Brat.

    He had only two paid campaign staffers. Campaign manager, Zachary Werrell, is a 23-year-old who had only managed a Virginia state house campaign before helping Brat win. After the election, Werrell joked that he has a better win percentage than famed GOP political consultant Karl Rove.

    “It really is a modern-day miracle, there really is no other way to describe it,” Brat said shortly after trouncing Cantor by more than 11 percentage points.

    Stephen J. Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., said as a virtual unknown Brat doesn’t have the luxury of disappearing for a few days to catch his breath.

    “This is an important opportunity to introduce yourself to the entire country and it’s important not to waste it,” said Farnsworth. “In politics, if you do not define yourself you will be defined by others, and that’s never a more favorable option.”

    Indeed, Virginia Democratic Party spokesman Ashley Bauman said Brat’s comments, both past and future, will come under heavy scrutiny.

    “For the next few months we’re going to examine his extreme rhetoric and ideology and let voters know where he stands,” Bauman said. She said the Democratic Party will emphasize Brat as a tea partyer, a label Brat has shied away from.

    Brat campaigned heavily against “amnesty” for immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally and positioned himself as a free-market champion.

    National media outlets and left-leaning publications spent Wednesday combing through Brat’s Ph.D. dissertation, academic papers and past speeches. Much of his writings focus on the intersection between economics and philosophy. A 2011 paper by Brat in which he worries about a Hitler-like dictator rising to power again received heavy attention.

    So far, it doesn’t look like Brat will be getting much help, either in terms of money or public relations assistance, from D.C.-based groups and national Republicans.

    “At this point David Brat is well-positioned to win his seat in November. Should that change, and should there be the need, we will provide support,” said ForAmerica Chairman Brent Bozell, a conservative leader who advises several tea party groups.

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    Brazil's demand for bigger televisions will drive a surge in e-waste. A man watches the 2010 cup. Photo by Flickr user Straberrymaya

    Brazil’s demand for bigger televisions will drive a surge in e-waste. A man watches the 2010 cup. Photo by Flickr user Straberrymaya

    As the World Cup kicks off in Brazil this week, plenty of Brazilians without tickets are at home watching the action on new televisions. Quartz.com reports the demand for newer and bigger TVs has spiked during the months leading up to the tournament and Brazil’s National Association for Electronics Producers expects to sell 16 million TVs this year. To compare, Brazillians bought 12.2 million televisions in 2010 to watch the last World Cup, held in South Africa.

    But all of these new TVs mean a lot of old, trashed electronics. According to a World Bank study, Brazil produced 14 lbs. of electronic waste per person in 2011 and the government expects that number to grow to 17.5 lbs. for 2015. Television sets make up the largest type of e-waste in Brazil, and with no firm laws established to recycle and handle the old sets, the country could have quite a problem on its hands as people abandon their old tube-TVs, which have some toxic components that should be properly disposed.

    Perhaps Brazil could learn from Kenya. In March, PBS NewsHour weekend profiled an innovative program in Nairobi where officials hope to build a recycling hub for thousands of tons of imported E-waste.

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    Steve Robinson, then director of veterans affairs at Veterans for America, appeared on the Feb. 21, 2007, PBS NewsHour about the problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

    The death Thursday of Army veteran and advocate Steve Robinson, who made several appearances on the PBS NewsHour, prompted words of praise from veteran advocates and others who knew him. Robinson was 51 years old.

    Paul Rieckhoff, founder and chief executive officer of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, wrote of Robinson: “He was a lion of a man. And the most important vets advocate of our time. He led the Gulf War Resource Center, mentored countless young vets, predicted most of the current VA problems, and never stopped fighting for our community.”

    From Steven Wessels, founder of the Warrior Family Foundation: “Steve was known as a leader and great(est) champion for the veteran and military cause. Steve was the ally I needed when I imagined this endeavor at WFF. He never shied from setting me straight, altering my course, dusting me off and sending me back in, perhaps a bit more focused.”

    Wessels recalled a story about Robinson’s dedication to his wife Patti. “When Steve was deployed (a decorated Ranger) he realized that a wedding ring wasn’t ideal in combat theatre. So, on his wedding ring finger he tattooed ‘Patti’. When I asked about it he answered, ‘Oh Wes, we are forever anyway, so it is actually better than a band of gold.’”

    Robinson lent his perspective as an Army veteran and advocate on the NewsHour. In one appearance on Feb. 21, 2007, (video above) he described efforts to get problems with the patient care and facilities addressed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

    “This issue isn’t about mold and mice. There’s a larger, systemic problem about capacity and case managers who are in the hospital addressing the individual needs of every service member and their family that come through that facility,” he said.

    Robinson also spoke about the push to create electronic health records for members of the Armed Services on the April 9, 2009, NewsHour: “The head of the snake is making sure that the Department of Defense correctly makes diagnoses with people before they send them to the V.A. If a veteran doesn’t get the correct diagnosis with this new electronic medical record, then they’re going to have problems getting into the V.A. health care system.”

    In 2010, he wrote for the Huffington Post about his experiences as an adviser on military and family issues to the PBS series This Emotional Life. He recounted his own family’s struggles when his father returned from multiple deployments to Vietnam:

    “When my father returned from war he clearly had PTSD, but they didn’t know what to call it back then. He didn’t turn to drugs or alcohol to bury the memories of war from his mind. Instead he buried himself in work, becoming rigid and intolerant of others and their ideas of the meaning of life. He turned to religion as a means to escape confronting his experience in war. He was hard on his kids, his wife and in his mind everything had life or death consequences.

    “As a military family today it’s important to read everything you can about the occupational and emotional experience of war. The more you know the better prepared you will be if problems occur and you can start building a set of resources.”

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    newswrapphoto

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is in stable condition and undergoing treatment at a military medical center in Texas. He flew there overnight from Germany, where he’d been recovering after being held captive by the Taliban for five years.

    This afternoon, an Army psychologist at the San Antonio facility said one of the key elements in Bergdahl’s so-called reintegration progress is helping him relearn how to make choices.

    COL. BRADLEY POPPEN, Psychologist, U.S. Army: Those decision making processes have been fundamentally removed from him.

    When he was told when to eat, what to eat, where to eat, where to go to the bathroom, all those sorts of things. So one of the big concepts is to get him to have a sense of predictability and control of his environment.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the decisions Bergdahl will be required to make is when to reunite will his family. So far there has been no word on when that will happen.

    The candidates in the race to become the next majority leader in the House of Representatives changed again today. Tea Party-backed Congressman Raul Labrador of Idaho entered the running hours after Pete Sessions of Texas withdrew, but Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California still appears to have the most support.

    A showdown is already under way to succeed McCarthy as the next second in command. The top contenders for the whip post are Marlin Stutzman of Indiana, Peter Roskam of Illinois, and Steve Scalise of Louisiana. The GOP’s leadership elections are set for next Thursday.

    General Motors is recalling more cars for an ignition switch problem. This time, it’s for 500,000 Chevrolet Camaros, mostly in North America. GM said a driver’s knee could bump the key fob and move the ignition switch out of the run position, causing the engine to shut off. GM says this recall is not related to its earlier recall of more than two million vehicles that had ignition switch problems.

    Oil prices edged up again today, on worries the escalating insurgency in Iraq could disrupt oil exports. Oil futures had their biggest weekly gain of the year. Tech stocks helped boost Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 41 points to close above 16755. The Nasdaq rose 13 points to close at 4310. The S&P 500 added six points to close at 1936. For the week, the Dow lost nearly 1 percent, the Nasdaq fell a quarter of a percent, and the S&P dropped less than a percent.

    In Ukraine, government forces took back the Southern port city of Mariupol from pro-Russia separatists. About 100 Ukrainian soldiers drove rebels from buildings they’d occupied in the city. An Interior Ministry aide said that at least five separatists and two soldiers were killed during clashes. Also today, the State Department confirmed that Russian tanks, rocket launchers and other heavy weapons went to separatists fighting in Ukraine.

    Thailand’s military government fully lifted a nationwide curfew today. It was put in place last month when the military seized power. But officials said there’s now no threat of violence and tourism needs to be revived. The junta’s ban on political protests and criticism of the coup remains in place.

    Elephants in Africa are under attack by poachers, with 20,000 slaughtered on the continent in 2013. International wildlife regulators reported that finding today. In the Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 68 elephants were killed in the past two months alone. The director said that’s 4 percent of the park’s entire elephant population. He said poachers shoot the elephants with rifles from helicopters and they then use chain saws to remove their tusks.

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    IRAQ ON THE BRINK monitor iraq

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Iraq spiraled closer to all-out sectarian war today.  Sunni militants of a group called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant marched toward Baghdad, while Iraq’s senior-most Shiite cleric pleaded for armed resistance against the insurgents.

    Meanwhile, Kurds consolidated their position in Northern Iraq.

    That’s where Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News begins our coverage.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN, ITN: Under heavy guard, we headed into the city of Kirkuk.  These oil and gas fields are just a few miles from the ISIS front line.

    This is the first of several vast military bases in Kirkuk which Iraq’s army abandoned overnight. Iraq’s 12th Division clearly left in a hurry, even abandoning their uniforms, so they could disappear into the crowd.

    America spent some $25 billion equipping Iraq’s armed forces. But look at how much has been destroyed here within the space of a few hours. This armored vehicle was given to the Iraqi armed forces by the Americans. But the soldiers who were in charge of it appear to have destroyed it before fleeing in the face of the radical Islamist advance, just a snapshot of the kind of chaos which is happening all over Central Iraq now, a country in danger of collapsing as a state.

    Kurdish fighters have taken control here, they say to keep the jihadists out. And we could hear gunfire nearby. Weapons are being traded on the street, as Kurds prepare to defend themselves from their Arab neighbors, the clear intent here to turn this part of Iraq into a Kurdish state.

    MAN: We can’t live with Arab. They are — should believe in that is Kurdistan, and they are living in our land.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN: These fighters from ISIS want a state as well, with Baghdad as their capital. And, today, footage emerged of this army of jihadists regulars moving closer to the city, with holy war in mind.

    They have captured heavy weapons. These were filmed leaving the city of Mosul in the north. Today, the first visual evidence emerged of Shia insurgents fighting back. These are volunteers from the so called League of the Righteous. And with Iraq’s most senior cleric promising martyrdom to all those killed, the scene has been set for intense sectarian violence.

    But in Karbala, one of Shia Islam’s holiest cities, there was cheering and shouting, as Iraq’s seemingly embattled majority announced it was preparing to defend itself, the grand ayatollah here sending out a messenger to deliver this urgent call to arms.

    SHEIK ABDUL-MAHDI AL-KARBALAI, Representative for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (through interpreter): We call on all citizens who can carry weapons and fight the terrorists in defense of the country, its people and its holy sites to volunteer and join the security forces to fulfill this sacred goal.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN: And these are those Iraqi security forces defending Shia shrines in the city of Samarra, as the men from ISIS continue their advance.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what’s happening in Iraq poses challenges and potential threats to the United States.

    Earlier today, President Obama addressed the situation, speaking from the South Lawn of the White House.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: In the face of a terrorist offensive, Iraqi security forces have proven unable to defend a number of cities, which has allowed the terrorists to overrun a part of Iraq’s territory. And this poses a danger to Iraq and its people. And given the nature of these terrorists, it could pose a threat eventually to American interests as well.

    We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces.

    We’re also going to pursue intensive diplomacy throughout this period both inside of Iraq and across the region, because there’s never going to be stability in Iraq or the broader region unless there are political outcomes that allow people to resolve their differences peacefully without resorting to war or relying on the United States military.

    Although events on the ground in Iraq have been happening very quickly, our ability to plan, whether it’s military action or work with the Iraqi government on some of these political issues, is going to take several days.

    We want to make sure that we’ve gathered all the intelligence that’s necessary so that if, in fact, I do direct and order any actions there, that they’re targeted, they’re precise and they’re going to have an effect.

    The United States has poured a lot of money into these Iraqi security forces, and we devoted a lot of training to Iraqi security forces. The fact that they are not willing to stand and fight, and defend their posts against admittedly hardened terrorists, but not terrorists who are overwhelming in numbers, indicates that there’s a problem with morale, there’s a problem in terms of commitment.

    The United States is not simply going to involve itself in a military action in the absence of a political plan by the Iraqis that gives us some assurance that they’re prepared to work together. We’re not going to allow ourselves to be dragged back into a situation in which while, we’re there, we’re keeping a lid on things, and after enormous sacrifices by us, as soon as we’re not there, suddenly people end up acting in ways that are not conducive to the long-term stability and prosperity of the country.

    The post Iraq’s top Shiite cleric pleads for armed resistance against Sunni insurgents appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    obama_on_iraq

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We take a closer look now at the military and the political options on the table.

    Zalmay Khalilzad was U.S. ambassador to Iraq during the George W. Bush administration and was an advocate for invading that country in the first place. He now has his own consulting firm. Retired Army Colonel Peter Mansoor was the executive officer to the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, during the surge in 2007 and 2008. He also commanded an Army brigade in Iraq during early days of the war. He’s now an associate professor of military history at the Ohio State University. And retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor led Army forces when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 1991. He’s the author of a number of books about the military. And he has his own consulting company.

    And we welcome all three of you to the program.

    Ambassador Khalilzad, let me start with you,.

    What do you make of President Obama’s comments today that, yes, he is considering military action, but that appears that it’s going to be — if it happens, it’s contingent on Prime Minister Maliki making some serious political reforms?

    ZALMAY KHALILZAD, Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq: I think the president’s objectives are exactly right.

    This problem will not be resolved in a lasting way unless, besides military support by the United States and military efforts on the ground by others, Iraqis largely, it’s coupled with a political deal involving Iraqi communities.

    And the situation has changed drastically after Mosul. Now not only there is a Sunni-Shia issue that has to be dealt with. That’s region-wide, but particularly focused on Iraq. The Kurds are also in a different place than they were before Mosul, so there’s a need for a new political compact among the Iraqis.

    And I think the trick is for the president, how do you sequence U.S. military action with the political deal? Do you wait until a political deal is made or do you do some things while you also work on the political deal?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you see — Colonel Mansoor, do you see the president’s approach as one that you support, that makes sense to you?

    COL. PETER MANSOOR (RET.), U.S. Army: I think it’s right on the mark, what I heard in that clip. You have got to get the politics and the policy right. And once you have an inclusive Iraqi government that doesn’t marginalize and alienate large segments of the population, then we can support them with military force, which we’re very good at doing.

    But until it’s a government worth supporting, I don’t think we should support it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you mean?

    COL. PETER MANSOOR: Well, if were to conduct airstrikes, for instance, and other actions in the current situation, we would simply be backing the Maliki government and taking sides in what’s shaping up to be a very bloody and brutal civil war.

    If — the only way that we should get involved is if Iraq has a government that includes all sects and ethnicities and it’s a government that all Iraqis can sign up to support.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Colonel Macgregor, how do you see this? I mean, we’re hearing essentially support for the president’s approach; there has to be a serious shift before the U.S. would consider anything militarily.

    COL. DOUGLAS MACGREGOR (RET.), U.S. Army: Well, I think that’s probably a valid idea, but I wouldn’t hold my breath while I waited for anything like that to emerge in Iraq.

    Let’s be frank. We just watched as several battalions of this army that we spent billions of dollars building essentially broke and ran away from thugs in pickup trucks, Sunni Islamist fighters, many of whom have come to Syria, but that doesn’t bode well for the use of American military power to rush in and try to rescue this.

    I don’t think it would change much on the ground. The second part, which I think Peter has just implied, we’re dealing with a Shiite, Arab, Islamist dictatorship in Baghdad that is anathema to the entire Sunni world in the Middle East, Arabs and Turks.

    The Islamist fighters are working with the Sunni tribes to try and destroy the state. They backed by the Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and the Turks, who want to see this Shiite state go away. How do you resolve that kind of conflict?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you’re saying — I hear you saying on several grounds that the U.S. has to be very careful and maybe shouldn’t intervene at all?

    COL. DOUGLAS MACGREGOR: I don’t think we should have anything to do with this fight. Both sides are dominated by people who are hostile to us, hostile to Christians, hostile to Jews, hostile to the United States, Israel and Europe.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that point, Ambassador Khalilzad, and his other point that when you have an army that is just basically melting away before these — these militants, what’s there for the U.S. to support?

    ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Two points.

    One, of course, we have a narrow national interest of our own with regard to terrorism. So to the extent to which we see this ISIL gain control of that area and nurture terrorists who will not only fight Maliki, but threaten the rest of the region, our interests, as the president said, we need to judge when and how to act. That’s one point.

    Second, I would slightly differ from my colleague, which is, if the fall of Baghdad is imminent, I think our conditionality may come under pressure and we may have to act, because Baghdad falling into hands of the ISIL will have…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think that’s a real possibility?

    ZALMAY KHALILZAD: If it is — and I don’t know the current intelligence, but you can’t dismiss it altogether.

    If it isn’t, then I think we have time for this conditionality on the political track to work. I think Maliki is trying to avoid any conditionality. He wants assistance without conditions.

    The other community leaders are saying, Maliki must go, a new government should be formed, and then the U.S. should get involved.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I want to — I want to — I do want to stick with the military point, but I also don’t want to lose the political question, and come back to you, Colonel Mansoor, on that.

    Do you think Prime Minister Maliki is prepared to make the kinds of changes to reach out to Sunni interests and leadership in the country that the president was — President Obama was outlining?

    COL. PETER MANSOOR: No.

    Two points here. One, I don’t think Prime Minister Maliki will change the way he’s conducted business over his two terms in office. He’s highly authoritarian, and he’s proven to be highly sectarian and a divisive figure.

    And I think we need, diplomatically, to work with all Iraqi parties and let them come to some sort of agreement on who should succeed him, because I really don’t think Iraq can remain a unitary state under his — his leadership.

    The other point I would make is, the fall of Baghdad is not imminent. There’s only several thousands of these ISIL fighters. Baghdad swallows up entire brigades of the U.S. Army. It would swallow up any sort of ISIL offensive. And it would be a place where Shiite militias will fight for it, the army would fight for it. And, increasingly, we’re hearing that Iranian Revolutionary Guards are entering the conflict as well.

    So Baghdad would swallow up any ISIL offensive. There’s no danger of Baghdad falling quickly.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you’re saying that there’s — there’s some time here that the U.S. has before it has to make a decision?

    COL. PETER MANSOOR: That’s precisely it. We should make the right decision, not the expedient, quick decision.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But given all this — I want to come back to you, Colonel Macgregor, on what and how — what — if the U.S. should go in, what and how it should do, given this very complex regional political situation that you just described a few minutes ago.

    You’re saying under no circumstances the United States should get engaged, just stand back and watch what happens?

    COL. DOUGLAS MACGREGOR: You know, the Israelis have an interesting viewpoint.

    Their view is that if your opponents are killing each other, absolutely do not interfere. And in my judgment, that’s what’s happening today on the ground in Iraq. And Iraq doesn’t really exist. You have a Shiite state, which is largely confined to the south, which is one of the reasons the Shiite Arab soldiers in the north ran away. It’s not their turf.

    And then you have a Sunni Arab state that doesn’t exist yet, but it is coming into existence. And then you have a Kurdish state in the north. It’s increasingly aligned with Turkey, but is still independent.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Ambassador Khalilzad, why isn’t that an argument, for the U.S. just to be hands-off?

    ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Well, if it doesn’t affect anything that was of great importance to us, that’s a great argument.

    But, given the nature of particularly the ISIL, which is a terrorist organization tied with al-Qaida, with not only Iraqi ambitions, Syrian ambitions, regional ambitions, and with some foreigners from around Europe, even some Americans involved in them, we have a concern there that is legitimate, and we need to be focused on that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: An interest?

    ZALMAY KHALILZAD: An interest there.

    So, therefore, we could do pure counterterrorism operations, rather than siding between one side or the other. But I have to — want to make one point on diplomacy very quickly, that we may need to talk, to engage the Iranians. If we and the Iranians, where the Iraqis — Maliki is trying to play them against each other, then we could find a solution to get a new leadership for Iraq. And that may be also something that we have to consider.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It sounds like there are a lot of moving parts here.

    Very quickly to you, Colonel Mansoor. What do you look for next here?

    COL. PETER MANSOOR: Well, I think there will be a lot of diplomatic maneuvering. I think there will be a lot of maneuvering among the Iraqi political parties to see if they can get to the number of votes needed to unseat Maliki and establish a new government.

    Meanwhile, I think ISIL will consolidate its gains and that it will press towards Baghdad, and the Kurds will continue to consolidate their control of the broader Kurdish region.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, no question we are all keeping a close eye on what’s going on. And we thank you, all three, for joining us.

    Colonel Peter Mansoor, Colonel Douglas Macgregor, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, thank you.

    ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Thank you.

    COL. PETER MANSOOR: Thank you.

    The post Should U.S. wait for political progress in Iraq before making a military intervention? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Elephants in Garamba National Park. Photo by Flickr user Terese Hart

    Elephants in Garamba National Park. Photo by Flickr user Terese Hart


    Sixty-eight elephants in one of Africa’s oldest national parks – Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo – have been slaughtered in the past two months by poachers who attack with chain saws, grenades and guns, according to a non-profit group managing the park on Friday.

    The slaughtered elephants make up four percent of the entire population in Garamba National Park. Elephants in the park are constantly being killed by Congolese soldiers, gunmen from South Sudan, the Lord’s Resistance Army and other militia groups, seeking valuable ivory.

    Groups are usually hunting to feed the thriving market in Asia, according to conservationists. Hunters shoot the elephants from a helicopter, then use the chain saws to cut off the tusks, as well as the animals’ genitals and brains.

    “The situation is extremely serious,” Garamba Park Manager Jean-Marc Froment told the Associated Press. “The park is under attack on all fronts.”

    Last year, 20,000 elephants were killed in Africa alone. Conservationists said that the recent poaching epidemic has been the worst in decades.

    The post 68 elephants killed in the last two months at African wildlife refuge appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: how big data is being tracked for commercial purposes.

    You may not know of or have heard much about companies known as data brokers, but a recent government report says these companies actually know a lot about you and the information you share online, billions of pieces of data, actually.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Are you a mobile mixer, an urban scrambler? Do you know what those mean or that you yourself might be characterized as one or the other?

    According to a new study by the Federal Trade Commission, large companies called data brokers use such labels as they track our online buying habits, what we do in our free time, religious affiliations and much, much more, in an industry the FTC says suffers from a fundamental lack of transparency.

    It found that one company’s database alone had information that included 1.4 billion consumer transactions and more than 700 billion aggregated pieces of data. The FTC is calling on Congress to take new steps to protect consumers.

    And its chairwoman, Edith Ramirez, joins us now to talk about it.

    Welcome to you.

    First tell us how this works. Who are these data brokers? Who are they collecting information for, and to what end?

    EDITH RAMIREZ, Chairwoman, Federal Trade Commission: Let me say, Jeff, thank you for having me here with you.

    Well, these are companies that consumers simply don’t know about, but they’re companies that collect massive amounts of information about all of us. And what is astonishing is the sheer breadth of their data collection and data practices.

    What’s happening here is that all of us, as we shop online, as we browse the Web, whenever we post to a social network, we will be leaving digital bread crumbs that these companies are scooping up and then aggregating also with also offline information, public information.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, what’s the problem, because, for many of us, a lot of this data isn’t — well, it helps us, right? It sends us to the right places. We use a lot of it ourselves for our shopping habits. So, what’s the problem?

    EDITH RAMIREZ: Well, let me emphasize that what is going on here is that these data brokers collect this information. They then share the information and sell it to other companies, who can use it for a variety of purposes.

    I want to highlight that there are some very beneficial purposes for these products, but they also raise privacy concerns. And that’s what we’re concerned about at the FTC.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, give us an example. I mean, I mentioned some — in the introduction, some of these categories and labels. How are they used, well, to harm people?

    EDITH RAMIREZ: So, again, so — just so that it’s clear, what’s happening is that these companies are aggregating billions of data points about nearly every U.S. consumer.

    So, what they do is that they compile extensive profiles about consumers, and then they also use data analytics to make certain inferences about us. They then classify and categorize consumers into these various categories, among them, mobile mixer, urban scrambler.

    And then this information is then being sold to other companies, who can use them for various purposes that would include marketing purposes. They also use these products for prevention of fraud, for instance, so beneficial use there.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But you’re suggesting it can also go to insurers, to employers, potential employers, to government?

    EDITH RAMIREZ: That’s exactly right.

    The potential risks here are various. One is, you mentioned the lack of transparency. Consumers simply don’t know that these practices are taking place. So, first and foremost, we believe that it’s important for consumers to understand what data brokers are doing.

    We would like there to be access to information about these companies and their data practices. We also want consumers to have more control over what’s taking place and to be able to have an opportunity to opt out of the data collection that’s taking place.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, before I ask you about that, you used the term potential risks. When your study came out, a spokeswoman from the industry said that it was really talking about potential risks, that you hadn’t found actual harm.

    Have you documented actual cases where people are harmed?

    EDITH RAMIREZ: So, we have not — we didn’t identify as a result of this study actual violations of law.

    But keep in mind, also, that our study was focused on nine particular data brokers that we saw as representatives of a cross-section of the industry. So we didn’t purport to document all of the data practices that the data brokers are engaged in. So, that’s one important qualification.

    At the same time, what we now understand is that, again, these massive profiles are being generated. We are all being classified and categorized based on our age, our income, socioeconomic status, even our political leanings, our religious affiliations.

    And the question that causes us ultimate — some deep concern is, what are the implications of being categorized in that way? There is a potential for these categories to be used in ways that could ultimately be discriminatory or could raise other sensitive concerns.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, so you were talking about allowing people to at least know what data is being shared and potentially to opt out of that system. How might that work?

    EDITH RAMIREZ: So, what we have suggested is that there be a centralized mechanism, such as an Internet portal, through which consumers could access information about the types — the names of these companies.

    So, consumers right now don’t even know where to begin, how to even understand how many companies out there are engaged in these types of practices, what information has been collected about them. So we would like to see some centralized mechanism that consumers could go to and, from there, be able to access the individual Web sites of these various companies, who in turn would then provide information about their specific data collection practices and offer ways that consumers could control that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: This is the kind of thing you’re calling on Congress to enact some new regulation.

    Congress, at least generally, has known about this for a long time, and we haven’t seen much action. Is there reason to think there would be something now?

    EDITH RAMIREZ: Well, I’m hopeful that Congress will take another look at this issue.

    There are certain members of Congress that are interested. We hope to work with them to put forward legislation that would address these issues. At the same time, we’re also calling on the companies themselves to undertake certain best practices that we recommend, do this on their own, have more regulation, self-regulation.

    And, in addition to that, we also, at the agency, at the Federal Trade Commission, will continue to monitor the marketplace, and to the extent that we see violations of the laws that we enforce, we certainly intend to take action.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, in the meantime, what’s a consumer to do? I mean, what — what — how much — and how much are we doing it to ourselves by not paying enough attention?

    EDITH RAMIREZ: That’s a terrific point.

    So, I think one thing that consumers can do is just make sure that they’re aware of the privacy controls that are available to them, but also there are also certain companies that — certain of these data brokers who have taken steps, and good first steps, in the direction of providing more transparency about their practices.

    One particular company, Acxiom, has taken some steps in that regard, and so companies — consumers can access information and then learn and get a better handle on what’s going on there, and make use of available opt-out tools.

    But, as you note, this is an area that we believe Congress should take action in, and then ultimately we hope to see companies themselves respond to concerns on the part of consumers when they learn more about these practices.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Edith Ramirez is chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission.

    Thank you so much.

    EDITH RAMIREZ: Thank you.

    The post Companies tracking our online footsteps should be more transparent, says FTC appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Preliminary results from an autopsy conducted on the Oklahoma inmate involved in last April’s botched execution bolster claims that prison officials failed to properly administer the lethal dose of drugs used in the procedure.

    The autopsy, carried out by an independent medical examiner, suggests the execution team failed on multiple occasions to insert an IV into 43-year-old Clayton Lockett’s arms. This despite the fact that the veins were in “excellent integrity… for the purpose of achieving venous access.”

    The report says officials instead chose an entry point near the groin, which was considered riskier and more painful.

    Lockett, who was convicted of murder and rape, eventually died nearly 30 minutes after the procedure began. Witnesses said he writhed in pain and struggled against his restraints shortly after the first drug was administered.

    Lockett’s lawyers say these findings disprove the state’s position that one of his veins “blew out” after the drugs were administered. Oklahoma officials did not comment on the latest results, but said they will release the findings of their own autopsy in the coming weeks.

    Meanwhile, the state has come under heavy criticism for the incident as well as its decision to use a controversial new three-drug cocktail which critics say may cause undue pain. Oklahoma opted to implement the new method after it was no longer able to obtain the drugs it used in previous executions.

    Responding to the incident, Governor Mary Fallin ordered an investigation and a stay on future executions, including that of Charles Warner, who was scheduled to die on the same day as Lockett.

    The post Oklahoma execution team failed to place IV in Clayton Lockett’s vein, according independent autopsy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Welcome, gentlemen.

    So, our lead story tonight, you heard, David, our expert guests talking about the problem, the huge problems in Iraq. How much of — first of all, we know it’s a crisis. How much of a problem is it for the United States?

    DAVID BROOKS: I think it’s a gigantic problem.

    The idea — and this has been talked about by experts the last couple of years in particular — that it just becomes one big war, that the borders get erased, that the Sunni-Shiite splits — people are watching this — the Sunni-Shiite splits transcend borders and spread all over the region.

    And so people have been watching the Syrian civil war. They have been watching what happening in Iraq on TV. And they’re getting — their sectarian anger is growing. And then you throw in some bad players who could manipulate it one way or the other, and it could slide over.

    Then you have regional powers. You got Turkey. You got the Saudis, the Iranians. Everyone’s getting involved. And I just — what I read, what I hear from the people who really are experts, it’s World War I. It’s really a very perilous, extremely perilous situation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, how does one know what the right thing to do for the United States is?

    MARK SHIELDS: I don’t think anybody knows.

    I was fascinated by — to listen to the discussion. But because nobody is sure what to do today or tomorrow, most of the debate has been about what you did wrong yesterday. Did it begin in 2003, when the United States invaded and occupied and dismantled the entire Iraqi military, the entire Iraqi government, the entire Iraqi, really, public sector?

    And there’s that. But then the other bookend becomes, well, no, we did give them a chance, we built them up, we trained them, we supplied them, but leaving in 2011, was that the problem?

    And I don’t think, Judy — it’s sort of the default position becomes, let’s bring in airpower. And you don’t just bring in airpower. You have got — we saw that in Afghanistan this week, where five Americans were killed in friendly-fire by a B-1.

    You have to have the surveillance, the reconnaissance, the information, the analytics on the ground to exactly where — especially with a shifting battlefield.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And the president has said no boots on the ground, no troops on the ground, and yet you would need — you’re saying you would need…

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, you need either Marines or special forces. You need people there to say this is — these are the coordinates. This is exactly what we do want to — and we don’t — the last thing in the world you want to do is have civilian casualties and deaths and collateral damage.

    And so it’s a Hobson’s choice of the worst kind.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, David, you have the man who ran against Barack Obama, President Obama, in 2008, John McCain, saying the whole national security team needs to be thrown out. The president needs to fire them all and bring a whole different group in.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What does the president do? How do you make a decision like this?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, I don’t know about throwing them all out, but McCain’s, I think, record has been reasonably good in the last four or five years.

    I think he — when the thing happened in 2011, we withdrew, he pretty much warned that this would happen. He warned very early on that the Syrian civil war would spill over into Iraq, which is exactly what’s happened.

    And so I do think whatever decision he made in 2003 to support the original invasion, what he predicted has come true over the last few years, and we’re in a bad situation for it.

    I do think we somehow have to get involved. As the panel said, it has to be political. I think they do have to commit to a — the Iraqi constitution is a regional constitution. It’s a federal constitution which devolves a lot of power. That didn’t happen in practice. Maliki centralized everything. And that was obviously a poisonous and terrible decision.

    But it was certainly the case that when U.S. forces were there, they, A, could block Maliki from being ultra-sectarian, and Ryan Crocker and people like that, and they could simply put tanks in the way, so when the Shiites wanted to do something oppressive to the Sunnis or vice versa, they could just get in the way.

    Now, we’re not going to go back to that world, but the idea that we can do nothing and allow this to spill over, and allow the ISIL to really — a completely rancid organization — to take over large swathes of the Middle East, that seems to me perilous in the extreme.

    So, I don’t know the practicalities of what we do with it, and how we sequence it, as Zal Khalilzad was saying, but I do think the president’s posture, which is very forward-leaning for him, I think that’s the right posture.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Mark, are you confident the president has the right people around him to make these decisions?

    MARK SHIELDS: I don’t know, Judy.

    I certainly think John Kerry and Chuck Hagel bring to him something that has been missing for most deliberations, and that is people who know combat and know the price that it involves, who aren’t armchair commandos and talk about it.

    I mean, John McCain, David can argue about his consistency. In 2003, John McCain had an enormous responsibility. And he was an uncritical cheerleader of that war.

    I mean, he could have — he could have — and let’s be very blunt about it. Democrats were cowed. An awful lot of Democrats were terrified at that time of being accused of being soft on terrorism, and they went along. So the Congress really abdicated in 2003. And that law is still on the books. The vote was actually in 2002. The invasion was in 2003. That law is still on the books. The president has that authority still.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to turn the corner to the big explosion in this country this week, David, which was Eric Cantor, House majority leader, top Republican in the House, lost. No one saw this coming. Why not? Lost nomination.

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, it teaches us a few things. First, you can’t buy elections.

    Eric Cantor outspent him by zillions to one, I think almost outspent him on steak houses alone compared to Brat’s entire combat. And so money — the limits on money were — once again, for the eighth million time, illustrated that you can’t buy elections.

    I think the core story — there are two things, the core story of what caused the defeat and then the implications people are going to draw.

    The core story that I think caused the defeat was people wanting some respect, feeling that Cantor had gotten out of touch with the district, too high and mighty, and the fact that he’s spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on steak houses maybe suggests they were right. And so I think he just lost touch with the district.

    The implication that will be drawn is a much more ideological one, which was the Republicans cannot touch immigration, the Republicans could not compromise, and it is simply a fact that — the group The Third Way did a study where they asked Republican voters to analyze their own members of Congress. And Republicans voters think their members of Congress, Republicans, are much more centrist than they are.

    Democrats line up pretty — the voters line up pretty well with their members of Congress. Republican voters do not think that. And so they’re of a mind to fire a certain number and Eric Cantor was one.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what does that say? Mark, what does all this say about the Republican Party?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, you put the question best. You said nobody predicted it. Nobody did, all the pundit class.

    And ever since, the pundit class — as soon as the polls closed, the pundit class, all card-carrying members, two of them sitting here, but, with rare exceptions, had a total explanation as to why it happened, why Eric Cantor lost, and why Brat won, Dave Brat won.

    And, Judy, it just strikes me that Mr. Churchill said it best. The winners get to write history. And Dave Brat said what his campaign was about. And he said that the principal difference between himself and Eric Cantor was immigration. He said that was what defined him.

    And the reality is that he won, Eric Cantor lost. I think David’s statement — he spent a million dollars, Eric Cantor did, advertising Dave Brat’s name, which Dave Brat didn’t have.

    MARK SHIELDS: But I think there’s one factor that comes out of this, and having been up on the Hill yesterday, and that is, every member is terrified.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In both parties?

    MARK SHIELDS: In both parties, but particularly because they know — immigration is dead. Let’s be very honest about it.

    Some people have tried to put a spin on it. There is no Republican who is going to raise this issue and say, we have to cooperate, we have to somehow accommodate the other side. We can work it out. That — if anything, Eric Cantor was accused of being squishy on that subject.

    There is — the spines are absolutely terrified on the Republican side right now. And they just — they don’t know.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    And it should be pointed out. We have been sitting here — at least I have been sitting here the last several weeks saying the establishment is winning this, the Tea Party is weaker.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Exactly. We were all saying the Tea Party was losing.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes. That’s right.

    DAVID BROOKS: And — but, nonetheless, if you take all those victories on one side and this one here, if you take in total the message, Tea Party.

    MARK SHIELDS: No question.

    DAVID BROOKS: And so, to me, it’s really a horrible outcome for the Republican Party.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Really?

    DAVID BROOKS: And I think there is overwhelming data on this, that if the Tea Party — if the Republican Party doesn’t get right on immigration, it’s a threshold issue. They really do not do well in a national election for a long, long time.

    And every day, there’s more evidence that comes out, more survey data and everything. And so I think this makes it extremely unlikely the Republicans does get right or some sort of immigration reform.

    MARK SHIELDS: Could I say, I agree with David?

    2016 should be a Republican year. You have got a president who is in a third term — second year of his second term.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean by historical…

    MARK SHIELDS: By historical — there’s no Democratic third term. His numbers are a lot closer to George Bush’s than they were to Ronald Reagan’s or Bill Clinton’s.

    And so it should be a Republican year. And yet the Republicans just gave the Democrats an enormous advantage for 2016. If they are…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: With just one congressional primary win?

    MARK SHIELDS: If immigration is going to be off the — no, Jeb Bush is no longer a hot property for 2016, because he is the pro-immigration candidate.

    And, all of a sudden, if that becomes the third rail of Republican politics, that you can’t raise that in the 2016 primaries, then you’re going to be an older, whiter, more narrow, limited, minority party, and the Democrats just got unearned grace.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But how do you know this is going to last, I mean, that this nervousness about immigration — is this something that has legs, that is going to stick?

    DAVID BROOKS: My instinct is that it will.

    Now, it’s complicated. Rand Paul, he is sort of welcoming to immigration. Christie, a lot of the leading candidates are much more pro a comprehensive — some of comprehensive reform than the vote we just had.

    Nonetheless, this vote underlines what will be evident in town halls as people are running, which is a lot of fervor on this vote side, on the anti-immigration side or anti-reform side. And it’s going to be hard for any candidate, especially a whole bunch of them, to resist that.

    MARK SHIELDS: And the message is, we come in the night, we travel night, we don’t have a big media buy, and we come upon you, and we don’t need millions of dollars.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Tea Party.

    MARK SHIELDS: The Tea Party, and we will beat you. And we just beat Eric Cantor, and the only time the House majority leader has ever lost a primary. And this was unthinkable.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Does it matter whether they elect one of their own to be a leader, to hold the leadership position in the House of Representatives?

    MARK SHIELDS: I think they’re a party — I think the Tea Party, all due respect, is a party of opposition. It identifies grievances. It’s not much of an advocate. I don’t know what…

    DAVID BROOKS: It’s very interesting.

    I read — because I’m me, I read Dave Brat’s book, political theory.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Economic — oh, oh.

    DAVID BROOKS: And it’s a very bold, very good book, by the way. He’s very smart, very — really good book.

    But it’s very intellectual. It’s very oppositional, very bold, and that’s the style we have here. If I could just make one point wrapping up, Hillary Clinton, she’s had a very mixed weak, because the Tea Party, if she’s the nominee, makes it much more likely the Democrats will win.

    MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

    DAVID BROOKS: But if she’s sort of there and Iraq is exploding, that’s really bad for her. So it’s interesting to see the world from her vantage point.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We’re postponing Hillary Clinton until next week. We were going to talk about it tonight. Too much else.

    Before we go, happy Father’s Day to both of you, David and Mark.

    MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

    DAVID BROOKS: Thank you very much.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you.

    MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.

    The post Shields and Brooks on the mounting crisis in Iraq, Cantor’s defeat appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, it is Father’s Day weekend, a good time for a conversation about the changing roles of dads in this country and why there are a rising number of them who stay at home.

    And for that, we go to Hari Sreenivasan in our New York studios.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Back in 1989, a little more than a million fathers stayed at home with their children for a variety of reasons. More than two decades later, that number has doubled. In a recent report, the Pew Research Center said it grew to its highest point, 2.2 million in the U.S. in 2010, just after the official end of the great recession.

    The number has dipped since then, but there are still more dads at home than has traditionally been the case. In fact, fathers now account for 16 percent of all stay-at-home parents.

    The reasons for this are a complex mix.

    We explore that with two people, Kim Parker who is with the Pew Research Center, and Scott Coltrane, a provost at the University of Oregon who has long studied this very subject. He recently spoke at a recent White House summit on working dads.

    So, Kim, let me start with you. What’s the reason behind this surge in the last 20 years?

    KIM PARKER, Pew Research Center: Well, there’s a variety of reasons.

    You alluded to the end of the recession and how we saw that number spike to 2.2 million in 2010, and clearly what was going on there in part was increases in unemployment, and men having difficulty, fathers having difficulty finding jobs.

    But the biggest factor in the long-term growth in the number of stay-at-home dads is the growing share of dads who say that they’re at home primarily to care for their family and for their children. And so that’s what’s been driving this long-term trend from 1989 to the present.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, Scott, have we — are we seeing a shift in perception of what it means to stay at home with your child from, let’s say, the ’40s and ’50s, when we had perhaps a particular stereotype of who should work and who should stay at home?

    SCOTT COLTRANE, University of Oregon: Absolutely.

    We used to assume that dads, to be good dads, would be breadwinners, and that moms would be the ones to stay home and care for kids. It’s now tag team parenting. And this shift has been going on for decades. But now we’re seeing the culture kind of catch up. Most young men want to be involved in the caretaking.

    Most young women want to be involved as breadwinners, and I think the two together is what we’re seeing here, people trading off who stays home, who doesn’t.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Kim Parker, how do we know that is not a cause of the recession, that unemployment is not the primary reason that these dads have chosen to stay at home?

    KIM PARKER: Well, I think we do know that that’s a major factor, and we also know that a significant share of fathers who are at home are home because they’re ill or disabled.

    But, again, the growth has come among the group that say that they’re home primarily to care for their children and their family. And in the studies that we have done at the Pew Research Center, we have found that men, just like women, are struggling with striking the right balance between family life and their work life, and about half of dads say that they find it difficult to strike the balance, and about half of dads also say that they would prefer to be home with their young children, but they need to work because they need the income.

    So, a lot of focus of this debate is normally on mothers and mothers trying to balance these things. But our surveys really suggest that, especially with this generation of younger fathers, they’re facing the same types of challenges.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Scott, is there a gap between that preference that men say, I would prefer to stay home with my kids, but then, in reality, when they’re given the choice, that they make the choice to go to work more often than women?

    SCOTT COLTRANE: Well, I think one of the things that constrains men is that they feel like they need to be breadwinners first.

    So this story is really looking at men who aren’t in the labor market at all for a whole year. And there are still two million of them. But there are millions and millions of other dads that other Pew studies and other surveys show are really pitching in more.

    So I think the combination of doing some work and doing some child care is really the norm for young families.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Kim, is there a difference in how, say, the census measures someone who stays at home and who is the primary caregiver vs. your survey?

    KIM PARKER: There is a difference.

    And the census actually comes up with a much lower number of stay-at-home dads, around a little over 200,000, but they limit it to dads with children under the age of 15 and dads who specifically say that they’re home to care for family.

    Now, we came up with a broader definition and we just wanted to cast the net a little bit wider. And we also feel like some of the dads that are home because they’re maybe looking for a job or maybe even disabled are probably also the primary caregivers in the home. So that’s why we looked at sort of this broader group.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Scott Coltrane, what about that kind of change in perception of who is the primary caregiver, and do we see that change in perception break across maybe different demographic lines, whether it’s ethnic groups or maybe different ages?

    SCOTT COLTRANE: Sure.

    Well, there’s cross-cutting tendencies because a lot of this is practical solutions to everyday demands. And we find is people’s job schedules really dictate who can be home when and who can do what kinds of work. So flexible scheduling and leaves are important, transitioning in and out of the labor force.

    We’re finding younger people are more willing to do that than older parents, but at the same time, it’s those younger parents who are really stressed to make more money just to make ends meet. So it’s a kind of practical solution to the everyday dilemma of how are you going to take care of the kids.

    But we have a whole set of doubling and tripling in the last 30 years. This study shows it. Other studies show that the number of single dads tripled. The number of stay-at-home dads doubled. The amount that all men do in terms of housework and child care doubled and tripled over the last 30 years.

    So I think we have a fundamental shift. It’s no longer stigmatized for men to do — be good caring daddies. You know, 95 percent of new dads bathe and diaper their kids. About two-thirds of most dads now do more of the cooking, certainly do more with their kids, do more homework, do more reading to their children, and it’s all good. The outcomes are really positive for the children.

    They do better in school. They’re more socially well-adjusted. It’s a win-win situation.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Kim Parker, how does this break down across ethnic lines? You saw different numbers in communities of color.

    KIM PARKER: Yes, it’s interesting.

    The share of stay-at-home dads who are — there is a disproportionate share of stay-at-home dads who are African-Americans, and they also tend to be less well-educated and have lower incomes overall. And one of the really interesting findings was that half of the stay-at-home dads, as we defined them, are actually living in poverty.

    And a higher share of stay-at-home dads are living in poverty than stay-at-home moms. And that’s because more often — it’s more often the case that stay-at-home dads have a spouse who is also not working. So, that’s sort of — it’s not necessarily the affluent opt-out dad with the wife who’s pursuing a lucrative career.

    When you look at the actual data — it is, you know, the men who are at home vs. the men who are working are maybe still struggling a little more financially.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Scott, is there a different perception among communities of color? Go ahead.

    SCOTT COLTRANE: I think so.

    I think one of the things that has been true for many decades is that the wage gap between men and women is much smaller. So if African-American families have shared parenting, provided that the couple lives together with their children, there’s always been more sharing. So that’s been adaptive. It’s been a response to practical realities.

    And so we see this in Latino families, too, that I have also studied, more sharing, not necessarily gender blending in the kinds of things that men and women do. They might do different things, but certainly more ability to step in, more willingness to step in, a more whole family system, a lot of sharing going on.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Scott Coltrane from the University of Oregon, Kim Parker from Pew Research Center, thanks so much.

    KIM PARKER: Thank you.

    SCOTT COLTRANE: Thank you.

    The post Why more American dads are choosing to stay home appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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