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

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    John Kerry with Kurdish regional government president Massud Barzani

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary of State John Kerry pushed ahead again today to help save Iraq from collapse, returning to the country and pleading with a major political figure to help keep the state intact.

    It was Kerry’s first trip to the Kurdish regions of Iraq as secretary of state.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: Good to see you again.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: An emergency visit in the face of the military onslaught by ISIL, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

    Kerry met with Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, urging him to support efforts in Baghdad to form a new government.

    JOHN KERRY: In recent days, the security cooperation between the forces here in the Kurdish area has been really critical in helping to draw a line with respect to ISIL and also to provide some support to the Iraqi security forces.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But Barzani made it clear the century-old idea of a single unified state of Iraq might be a thing of the past.

    PRESIDENT MASSOUD BARZANI, Kurdistan Regional Government (through interpreter): Your visit comes at a very important time, and this is important for us to exchange views about the current developments that the entire region is facing, especially Iraq. This needs the support of all concerned in order to find a proper solution for the crisis that Iraq is witnessing today. After these changes, we are facing a new reality and a new Iraq.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That new Iraq, in the eyes of many Kurds, will not include them: They have had autonomy since the 1991 Gulf War and the ensuing U.S. air campaign to protect them from Saddam Hussein.

    Barzani reiterated today he plans an independence referendum that could have major regional implications. Kurds live not only in Iraq, but in southeastern Turkey, northern Syria and in Iran. In the meantime, the Kurds’ formidable military force, the Peshmerga, are acting as a bulwark against ISIL insurgents in Northern Iraq. They have also cemented their control of Kirkuk, a vital oil-producing center.

    Elsewhere, Iraqi armed forces claimed today to have retaken from ISIL Iraq’s largest oil refinery at Baiji and two posts on its western border.

    MAJ. GEN. QASSEM ATTA AL-MOUSSAWI, Iraqi Armed Forces (through interpreter): We affirm that the refinery is now under complete control of the security forces and have regained full control over Turaibil and al-Walid border crossings. And we have reinforced our troops there. The great thing was the support and backing of the tribes of Anbar province.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Fighting has raged around Baiji for a week, and the Sunni tribes have become interlocutors between the Sunni ISIL forces and the largely Shiite-led Iraqi government forces.

    But, as chaos spreads, neighboring Jordan has reinforced its border with Iraq with armored vehicles and troops. And the first of 300 U.S. special forces advisers began arriving on Monday.

    Meanwhile, the United Nations estimated more than 1,000 people have been killed in two weeks of fighting, but it warned that number is very much a minimum.

    The post Kurdish leader: ‘We are facing a new reality and a new Iraq’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Iraqi Security Forces Face Increasing Challenges

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: For more on the situation in Iraq, we turn to two former Army officers who served in that country. Retired Colonel Derek Harvey was an intelligence officer and special adviser to the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus. He’s now a professor of practice at the University of South Florida. And retired Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Ollivant had two tours in Iraq. He was also the director for Iraq on the National Security Council during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He’s now a managing partner in a consulting company which does business in Iraq.

    And we welcome you both to the NewsHour.

    LT. COL. DOUGLAS OLLIVANT (RET.), U.S. Army: It’s good to be here.

    Colonel Harvey, let me begin with you. Just give us your understanding of what the strengths and weaknesses are of the Iraqi army, who’s in it, roughly speaking, and why has it been having so much difficulty?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY (RET.), U.S. Army: Well, the current situation, the deterioration began with the problems in Mosul, and the problems in Mosul and Nineveh province, they had poor commanders.

    They had a sectarian agenda. It was viewed as Maliki’s militia by most of the Sunni Arabs in the province. And poor training, poor practices — and over the past year, importantly, I think we need to keep in mind that ISIL had a campaign to undermine the strengths of the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police in the northern province.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: These are the extremists.

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: These are the extremists.

    And they set the stage for what became this campaign, this offensive that we saw start a couple of weeks ago.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What would you add to that?

    LT. COL. DOUGLAS OLLIVANT: I think Derek has it more or less right. The simplest explanation is that the Iraqi army just isn’t very good in this particular region.

    But, if we look a little closer, there were a lot of Sunni soldiers in these divisions that were in the north. There’s two flavors of why that could go wrong. There’s a conspiratorial version that says they were paid off. I suspect that probably happened at lower levels, but isn’t the big explanation.

    But, just at a sociological level, if you are a Sunni member of the Iraqi army and you see members from your extended family or your tribe or from your mosque fighting against you, you are more likely to just decide you should go home and not participate in this conflict.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, but what about what Colonel Harvey said, that ISIL started planting the seeds of this some time ago, as long as a year ago?

    LT. COL. DOUGLAS OLLIVANT: Well, he’s — he has different information than I do. But that’s not implausible. It’s certainly possible that they have done that. And that would fit in with the idea that they have been buying off the right commanders over time.

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: If I could add also the prime minister’s centralization of command-and-control and the management of the operational level of war for the Iraqi army didn’t allow the operational commanders to have the flexibility and agility to respond.

    And, in fact, they were, in effect, blind to what was going on once this began to unravel. So the inability to have a command-and-control system, to synchronize a response to the ISIL offensive was a major factor.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it sounds like a number of things were going wrong at the same time.

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Absolutely.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, right now, as we have reported, Colonel Ollivant, U.S. military aides are just now arriving on the ground. What — who are they? What are their skills? How will they change what’s going on there?

    LT. COL. DOUGLAS OLLIVANT: Well, they’re out of Special Operations command.

    And I suspect — while the details haven’t been released, I suspect we have a combination of Delta Force and SEALs and regular Green Beret types who will give advice. But I think, more importantly — Derek and I were talking earlier — I think we would more call them observers than advisers at this point.

    They’re there to essentially gather information for us both about how ISIL is doing on the field. They will be in the brigade headquarters of the Iraqi army.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But on the front lines…

    LT. COL. DOUGLAS OLLIVANT: Well, no, in the brigade headquarters. That is a little further back, usually in offices, not close to the battle lines, but they will be able to talk to the people who are talking to the people who are fighting ISIL, get a secondhand version of what’s going on at the front lines and I think, even more importantly, look around as at the Iraqi army units that they’re with and determine what their capabilities are and what we can expect from them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And so the idea of doing that is what? What does that bring to the U.S. in terms of decision-making?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Well, it brings — for us, it brings information and awareness about what is going on there at this point in time.

    But, Judy, my major concern with this is that the Iraqi army and Iraqi police are being augmented by a mobilized Shia militia and they’re being integrated into these commands of the Iraqi army divisions and police brigades. And that is of concern, I think, because behind those Shia militias, Iran’s General Qassem Suleimani is managing and orchestrating this integration.

    And he’s the same commander that managed the campaign in Syria against the Free Syrian Army and other Sunni resistance movements there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you see a strong hand by Iran in all of this?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: They are clearly helping coordinate and shape the defense of Baghdad in the region and integrating the Shia militias.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see the two sides facing off against each other?

    LT. COL. DOUGLAS OLLIVANT: I was last in Baghdad in March.

    And you could certainly see this already happening then. Certainly, Iraq, because of this offensive, has been forced to lean more on Iran. I think I’m a little less concerned than Derek is for this immediate crisis. The United States has two national interests, and one is in defeating ISIL and the other is in preserving the territorial integrity of Iraq.

    And between us and the Iranians, there’s really no white space on these issues. Now, once we get past this immediate crisis, our interests will diverge.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And I want to ask about Jordan, because we mentioned that now there are troops in Jordan mobilizing on the border. They’re worried about what’s going on inside their country on behalf of ISIS. What do we know — what is known about that?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Well, I think the first thing we have to understand is that ISIL is a multistate problem. It’s in Syria, it’s Iraq, and it is trying to build its capability in Jordan.

    And in Jordan, they have recruiting videos out, they have propaganda, and they are saying that Jordan is next, that the Hashemite kingdom is going to fall and that they’re going to liberate the people of Jordan.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And how does that affect — Colonel Ollivant, how does that affect what’s happening in Iraq? Does that spread ISIL more thinly? What does it mean?

    LT. COL. DOUGLAS OLLIVANT: Well, regrettably, I think they’re doing so well that they’re probably attracting more recruit than they’re losing in terms of casualties or having to occupy this new territory.

    ISIL is a new thing. This is not just a terrorist group now. This is kind of a proto-state. They control territory. They have an army, they have a political form. They’re still figuring it out. It’s all very primitive, mind you, but it’s a real thing.

    And even if we could wave a magic wand and fix Iraq tomorrow, they still have designs on Jordan, on Lebanon, on Israel, and eventually on Saudi Arabia and Turkey. We have a real national interest here in countering this threat.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But to clarify here at the end, Colonel Harvey, you’re more concerned about the Iran influence on behalf of the Iraqi leadership?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: I am more concerned about ISIL and its effect on the region and its long-term aspirations against the United States, Western interests, and the more stable countries in the region.

    The complicating factor for us is the mobilization of the Shia and Iran’s presence there. If we’re going to get engaged, how do those issues get worked out?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All very good questions and reminding us just how complicated this is.

    Colonel Harvey, Colonel Ollivant, we thank you both.

    LT. COL. DOUGLAS OLLIVANT: Thanks very much, Judy.

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Thank you very much.

    The post How ISIL capitalized on vulnerabilities of Iraq’s security forces appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    levinmica

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The political fight over the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups got a lot more heated over the past few days. The IRS says it lost two years’ worth of e-mails from a former official at the heart of the scandal.

    In two congressional hearings over the past four days, Republicans on Capitol Hill have lashed out at IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, alleging a cover-up at the highest levels. Koskinen joined the agency six months ago after it found itself embroiled in the controversy.

    Jeffrey Brown has our report.

    REP. DARRELL ISSA, R-Calif., Chair, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: Would you please rise to take the oath? Raise your right hand. A little higher. Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Even the oath-taking seemed contentious last night, as IRS Commissioner John Koskinen appeared before the House Oversight Committee.

    REP. DARRELL ISSA: We have a problem with you and you have a problem with maintaining your credibility.

    JEFFREY BROWN: At issue, lost e-mails from former IRS official Lois Lerner. She resigned last year after disclosures that her division targeted Tea Party and other groups for reviews before the 2012 election.

    The controversy revived this month when the IRS reported thousands of Lerner’s e-mails vanished when her computer crashed in 2011. California Republican Darrell Issa chaired last night’s hearing.

    REP. DARRELL ISSA: So, you told us that all e-mails would be provided. When you discovered that all e-mails wouldn’t be provided, you didn’t come back and inform us. Is that correct?

    JOHN KOSKINEN, Commissioner, IRS: All the e-mails we have will be provided. I didn’t say I would provide you e-mails that disappeared. If you have a magical way for me to do that, I would be happy to know about it. I said I would provide all the e-mails. We are providing all the e-mails.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Koskinen had an equally testy exchange with Ohio Republican Michael Turner, who pressed for an FBI investigation.

    JOHN KOSKINEN: I reject the suggestion that my integrity depends upon my calling the FBI. The inspector general will issue a report. We will all get the benefit of that report. And then we can determine what the appropriate action is…

    REP. MICHAEL TURNER, R, Ohio: I have always believed that what happened in your agency with Lois Lerner is a crime. I believe that there were others involved. I believe the e-mails that are missing are the ones that would probably give us an ability to establish that. And I believe that somebody undertook criminal act in its destruction.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Things were even more heated Friday at a Ways and Means Committee hearing, when Republican Paul Ryan accused Koskinen of lying.

    REP. PAUL RYAN, R, Wis.: This is a pattern of abuse, a pattern of behavior that is not giving us any confidence that this agency is being impartial.

    JOHN KOSKINEN: I have a long career. That’s the first time anybody has said they do not believe me. I am…

    REP. PAUL RYAN: I don’t believe you.

    JOHN KOSKINEN: That’s fine. We can have a disagreement. I am willing to stand on our record.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Democrats charge Republicans are simply out to score political points.

    This was Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings last night.

    REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, D, Md.: Republicans have been trying desperately and unsuccessfully for more than a year to link this scandal to the White House.

    Rather than continue on this path, I sincerely hope that we will turn to constructive legislation with concrete solutions to help federal agencies run more effectively and efficiently.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The Oversight Committee reconvened this morning with the government’s top archivist, David Ferriero. Michigan Republican Tim Walberg cited a law requiring the IRS to report the lost e-mails much earlier.

    REP. TIM WALBERG, R, Mich.: Did they break the law?

    DAVID FERRIERO, Archivist of the United States: I’m not a lawyer.

    REP. TIM WALBERG: Well, you administer — you administer the Federal Records Act.

    DAVID FERRIERO: I do.

    REP. TIM WALBERG: If they didn’t follow it, can we safely assume they broke the law?

    DAVID FERRIERO: They didn’t follow the law.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The panel also heard from Jennifer O’Connor, a White House counsel who worked at the IRS for six months last year. She appeared after being subpoenaed.

    Away from the hearing, House Speaker John Boehner said it’s clear the White House is not cooperating. He told reporters — quote — “They haven’t done a damn thing to help get to the truth.”

    And with us now are two members of Congress who’ve taken part in these hearings, Sander Levin, a Democrat from Michigan and the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, and John Mica, a Florida Republican who serves on the House Oversight Committee.

    Well, Congressman Mica, let’s start with you and let’s start with the e-mails. Do you and other Republicans believe they were intentionally destroyed? Is there solid evidence to that effect?

    REP. JOHN MICA, R, Fla.: We honestly don’t know, and that’s the reason we called in the commissioner, called him back.

    When he testified in March to Government Reform and Oversight, he never cited any technical problems. And everyone, Republican and Democrat, said we just want the e-mails from Lois Lerner. They hadn’t been produced. I think everyone was equally shocked, both in Congress and across the country, that that information was either destroyed or missing. We don’t know how it occurred.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Congressman Levin, were you shocked? Because you said this was a — you said it was an equipment failure. But what about the questions about the timing and when we learned about it and why there were no backups?

    REP. SANDER LEVIN, D, Mich.: I’m not sure what the issue is regarding backups, what the IRS had at the time.

    I think it’s clear there has to be a better job within IRS, but throughout this government. There’s zero, zero evidence that there was any intentional effort by Lois Lerner or by anybody else. And at our hearing, there was dragged out a letter from Dave Camp going back to 2011, and the claim was that she was tipped off and therefore the implication is that she destroyed her computer.

    It turned out that letter had nothing to do with the inappropriate criteria that were being used. They were inappropriate, and I said right at the beginning when we found out about it that they should be, Lerner and Miller, relieved of their duties.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, John Mica, this has become very personal. And John Koskinen came in just six months ago. Why is — why is he the target and to what extent is much of this, as Democrats would have it, an attempt to tie the White House to the IRS?

    REP. JOHN MICA: Well, first of all, we don’t know. And we just learned within a matter of days again about the destruction of the tapes.

    It’s not 18 minutes, like in the Nixon White House with Rose Mary Woods. This is 27 months. We have learned in the last few days, a matter of hours, too, that there was a backup system. I don’t know how much information they have. Unfortunately, that backup system which was in place I think from 2005 to what we have learned to about 2011, I believe, in the time frame that, again, some of this came down, that company was terminated right at about the time that some of this all, again, occurred.

    So we’re going to see if there is backup information. We’re going to find out who, if anyone, was responsible for what happened to the tapes. We don’t know. Again, I think the whole country was stunned just a few days ago to find out that this information had crashed or disappeared.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Sander Levin, for your side, the charge has been that the IRS, including John Koskinen, as well as the administration, have never really addressed the larger matter behind all this, the question of targeting conservative groups, that it’s been treated as a minor matter.

    REP. SANDER LEVIN: That’s not true at all.

    By the way, you mentioned the efforts to tie this to the White House. That’s what Mr. Mica, Dave Camp, Senator Hatch and others, they have talked about. Dave Camp at the hearing, this first hearing, talked about a culture of cover-up within the administration. Zero evidence of that, and there never has been such evidence.

    And we never said that the use of these inappropriate criteria, that that use was minor. Indeed, as I said earlier, I was among the first to say that those in responsible positions should be relieved of their responsibilities.

    No, there were inappropriate criteria. They applied both to liberal and conservative organizations, more to conservative organizations, because they had filed many more applications for 501(c)(4). And there is a legitimate concern about the use of 501(c)(4)s, because they’re supposed to relate to social welfare predominantly, and you have today out in the public the use of 501(c)(4)s for essentially political purposes.

    From 2006 to 2012, in 2006, there was a million dollars used reported to the FEC for political purposes by 501(c)(4). That jumped to $250 million by 2012. Half of it came from Karl Rove and Koch brother organizations.

    So there’s a legitimate concern, but we never said that the use of these criteria, inappropriately so, was minor. We never said that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Let me ask Congressman Mica briefly, if you could, is that larger issue being lost in all this, the question about which organizations should qualify for tax-exempt status?

    REP. JOHN MICA: Well, that’s a question for the Ways and Means Committee and our tax code.

    But the question here was the targeting. An independent review was done by the inspector general of Treasury, independent, and he found that they were targeting here conservative groups. Now, whether you’re targeting conservative or progressive or liberal groups, that’s not right, and that’s part of what I think the investigation has boiled down to.

    People hold IRS in trust because it’s our chief financial revenue agent, and everybody wants to be treated fair by them. And to have them close down some political groups, no matter what their persuasion, before the election and drag out, again, the processing them, and then going after them — just on Mr. Levin’s point about the White House, the only thing I have said on the White House is the different inconsistencies.

    The commissioner at the time told us he only was at the White House for the Easter egg roll, and then we found out he had gone over a hundred times.

    REP. JOHN MICA: We also know, again, that the White House counsel and certain people in the White House were aware with what was going on.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    REP. JOHN MICA: So, we’re not — again, we don’t have any clear evidence because we haven’t completed the investigation.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Mr. Levin, a brief last word from you, very brief, please.

    REP. SANDER LEVIN: They say there’s no evidence and then they make charges.

    They talk about a culture of cover-up. They talk about a White House enemies list. There’s been zero, zero proof of that. And they continue this desperate effort to connect this to the White House.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    REP. SANDER LEVIN: And they should stop. This shouldn’t be an inquisition, these hearings.

    REP. JOHN MICA: … stop a long time ago.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Sander Levin and John Mica, thank you both very much.

    REP. SANDER LEVIN: Thank you.

    The post Missing IRS emails prompt cover-up allegations from Republican lawmakers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    freedomsummer

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In a ceremony on Capitol Hill today, congressional leaders commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act by bestowing the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King.

    Now we remember another pivotal moment that year in the struggle for civil rights in the United States. The events that took place that summer that changed not only the place where activists converged, but the entire country.

    Gwen has our look back.

    GWEN IFILL: For 10 weeks in the summer of 1964, well over 1,000 college students, black and white, from around the country volunteered to go to deeply segregated Mississippi to register black voters, teach young people and create a new political party.

    Along the way they encountered hostility, violence, arrest, and even murder. Fifty years later, “Freedom Summer,” a new American experience documentary airing on most PBS stations, tells their story.

    Stanley Nelson wrote, produced and directed “Freedom Summer,” which also features two key players from that time, Robert Moses, then a leader in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the organizer of Freedom Summer, and Rita Schwerner Bender, an organizer whose husband, Michael Schwerner, was one of three civil rights workers killed when they went South to investigate the burning of a black church.

    Stanley, when you got — when the organizers got to Mississippi, 90 percent of eligible black voters weren’t able to vote, and you were drawn to the story, even though you kind of knew about it. Why?

    STANLEY NELSON, Director, “Freedom Summer”: Well, I kind of had heard the story a little bit, but I didn’t know it.

    And I think, you know, it was the opportunity to really take one piece of the civil rights movement and really just get into it. And I also think it was just a really important story, because it was about voting rights, which is now doubly important in this country.

    GWEN IFILL: Stanley, I want to take you back to the beginnings of this movement through the eyes of your documentary, a portion of which deals with Robert Moses and how he came to be involved in this. Let’s take a look.

    JULIAN BOND, Former Chairman, NAACP: The common theory about Mississippi was that you could not attack Mississippi from the inside. It had to be attacked from the outside. You had to stand away and say, this is an awful place and it ought to fix itself.

    But Bob Moses and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee said, no, that’s not true. We can do it ourselves.

    BRUCE WATSON, Author, “Freedom Summer”: Bob Moses was a high school teacher in New York City. He went South in 1960, originally just feeling he had to go, had to get involved. SNCC sent him to Mississippi. He started going around on his own in the rural areas, where people simply didn’t go and challenge the status quo.

    DEL. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, D, Washington, D.C.: What made him stand out was only his sheer courage, but his calm courage. I can’t tell you that Bob Moses was afraid, because he never showed it. He just went about his work, and there was this — this calm sense of mission.

    IVANHOE DONALDSON, Organizer, Freedom Summer: Bob went over there by himself in 1961, and by the end of ’61, maybe there were five or six people in the state. In ’62, maybe there were 18, 19. And in ’63, maybe there was 23, 24. When we would have a staff meeting, we would all fit in one little room.

    ROBERT MOSES, Coordinator, Freedom Summer: Young people working with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, as we call it, are characterized by restless energy. They seek radical change in race relations in the United States. Their world is upset. And they feel that if they are ever going to get it straight, they must upset it more.

    GWEN IFILL: Bob Moses, aside from being incredibly young in those old photographs, looking back on it now, did you have any idea what you were getting into?

    ROBERT MOSES: No, in the sense that I didn’t have a real sense of history. So, I had no idea that we were getting into what I think of as a constitutional era and a turning point in the constitutional eras of this country.

    GWEN IFILL: So, why did you do it?

    ROBERT MOSES: Actually, I just followed my footsteps. When the sit-ins broke out, I knew I had to get involved.

    GWEN IFILL: But why Mississippi? That seemed to be the most dangerous possible place to go.

    ROBERT MOSES: Well, Mississippi had set itself up, right, throughout the country’s history.

    It set itself up the next year, when the Freedom Riders went through. Mississippi said, you can come in, but you can’t get out. So, Mississippi kind of charged itself with being the real obstacle to overcome. It has done that.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, certainly, one of the most attention-getting in the pall that was thrown over the movement was the murder of the three civil rights workers, Mickey Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney. And that drew Rita Schwerner Bender into this. Let’s take a look a little bit about her involvement.

    MAN: In Meridian, the wife of missing Mickey Schwerner, Rita Schwerner, flew from Oxford.

    JULIAN BOND: Rita Schwerner plays an important role here. This is her husband, after all, who is the leader of the three missing men. And she puts a face on them. And she plays an enormous role in making this seem like these are real people and we need to pay attention to these real people whom something terrible has happened to.

    RITA SCHWERNER BENDER, Volunteer, Freedom Summer: They’re being held somewhere or something happened. And I am going to find the answer. If this means driving every back road, every dirt road, every alley in the county of Neshoba, I will do it.

    DOROTHY ZELLNER, Organizer, Freedom Summer: The press swarmed all over her. And I think they wanted her to cry and they wanted her to be a new widow, that they would capture her at the moment of her widowhood. And she wouldn’t play.

    RITA SCHWERNER: I personally suspect that if Mrs. — Mr. Chaney, who is a native Mississippian Negro, had been alone at the time of the disappearance, that this case, like so many others who have — that have come before, would have gone completely unnoticed.

    GWEN IFILL: Rita Schwerner Bender, I have to ask you the same question I asked Bob Moses, which is, did you know what you were getting into?

    RITA SCHWERNER BENDER: I don’t know, on one level, that any of us quite knew what we were getting into.

    Mickey and I had gone down to Mississippi in January of 1964. I think that — that the people who really knew what this was all about were the people who lived in that state and had put up with or not put up with, but experienced, the violence and the threats and the brutality and the murders in all the years since Reconstruction.

    GWEN IFILL: But, on some level, you knew that being — that, as a white woman from somewhere else, that you were going to be able to get attention for your cause in a way that maybe the people who lived in Mississippi could not?

    RITA SCHWERNER BENDER: I’m not sure that — I’m not sure that I thought about it quite that way.

    It’s hard, looking back, to say that was a motivating factor. I’m not sure that it was.

    GWEN IFILL: But you were able to get into the White House to meet LBJ and to tell him to look for your husband.

    RITA SCHWERNER BENDER: Yes, but that was after the three of them were missing, and there was enormous attention. And the enormous attention was because two of the three men were white. Nobody had paid very much attention, either on a national level or locally, with the murders of black men and often children who had been — Mississippi had the highest rate of lynchings in the entire country.

    I think there was something over 500 that were documented. And there were probably many more that never made any kind of recognition.

    GWEN IFILL: Stanley, as you look at this documentary, you talk a lot about, obviously, the Freedom Summer and volunteers who went South, but also the political piece of this, which was a huge piece of this, with Fannie Lou Hamer.

    And, by the way, you had a lot of really interesting footage of Fannie Lou — Fannie Lou Hamer speaking that I have never heard before.

    FANNIE LOU HAMER, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party: Eighteen of us traveled 26 miles to the county courthouse in Indianola to try to register to become first-class citizens. We was met in Indianola with — by policemen.

    GWEN IFILL: That turned into a political uprising as much as a social uprising.

    STANLEY NELSON: Yes, well, I think one of the parts of Freedom Summer that sometimes isn’t talked about was the whole challenge, yes, to the Democratic National Convention, the idea that Mississippi would send a separate delegation to the convention, that, basically, the black people would send a separate delegation that would challenge this all-white delegation at the Democratic National Convention in 1964, which was, of course, to nominate — when Lyndon Johnson was going to be kind of nominated.

    He wanted it to be a coronation. And…

    GWEN IFILL: He shut it down.

    STANLEY NELSON: Yes.

    And it’s one of the most incredible pieces of the film, because one of the things that happened that we were really shocked to find in making the film was that Lyndon Johnson recorded all his phone calls. And so there’s audiotape of him kind of wheeling and dealing behind the scenes to kind of stop this alternate delegation to the convention. And it’s just amazing.

    GWEN IFILL: Bob Moses, as you look back 50 years later, do you think that you awakened a sleeping giant? I mean, the Voting Rights Act came to be the very next year. You got certainly a level of attention paid to something that people had been ignoring for so long.

    ROBERT MOSES: So, to tell you the truth, I now think what we did as capping a constitutional era, right.

    And so it was a constitutional era in which white supremacy and black subordination ruled, not just in Mississippi, but across the country. And so we were part of the events that actually brought that constitutional era to an end. Right? I’m not going to say what era we’re in now, right, but that constitutional era is over.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let me ask Rita Schwerner Bender, then, what era are we in now?

    RITA SCHWERNER BENDER: Well, I’m not sure what title I would give it, but I would say it’s very troubling that, after all of the years of struggle, after the significant changes that occurred, the right to vote we thought was one, issues of education denial we thought were going to be dealt with, and now we have a Congress and a Supreme Court that absolutely will not pay attention to the needs of the country.

    GWEN IFILL: Stanley Nelson, as you complete this project, and as PBS viewers get to watch it, what do you hope that they take away from this moment, that there are things that we can accomplish that we don’t think we can, or that that was a nice moment that has now passed?

    STANLEY NELSON: Right.

    You know, I have made a couple of historical films. And I never want them to be this kind of nice historical…

    GWEN IFILL: Mm-hmm.

    STANLEY NELSON: I mean, the only reason to make these films and to look at them is how they inform the present. And I think that’s really important, you know, for us to understand that these people who were really young, most of them, you know, at that point, you know, made changes in this country.

    And they made changes because they took the power to change. They just did it. And it still can be done today. You know, there’s movements that exist. It’s not like there’s nothing there for people to be part of. And it really shows the power that we have and the power that young people have in this country.

    The one thing I always say is, I don’t know of any movement anywhere in the world where it’s been kind of an old people’s movement. It’s always young people. And that’s who I hope this film really influences.

    GWEN IFILL: Rita Schwerner Bender, Robert Moses, and Stanley Nelson, producer/writer/director of “Freedom Summer” that’s airing on PBS, thank you, all, very much for your contributions.

    RITA SCHWERNER BENDER: Thank you.

    ROBERT MOSES: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: “American Experience” will be airing “Freedom Summer” on most PBS stations this evening. Check your local listings.

    Online, listen to interviews from those who were there and from today’s students who are studying that struggle 50 years later.

    The post 50 years later, ‘Freedom Summer’ leaders recall pivotal fight against discrimination appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    182939502

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally, a new call to parents and others today about the need for routine reading to the youngest of children, and its potential effect on literacy, language and well-being.

    Jeff is back with that.

    WOMAN: Where’s the duck?

    JEFFREY BROWN: The nation’s largest pediatricians group is now formally urging parents to read aloud to their children daily from infancy. The American Academy of Pediatrics says doing so stimulates early brain development and helps build key language, literacy and social skills.

    According to the academy, more than one in three American children start kindergarten without the skills they need to learn to read. About two-thirds of children can’t read proficiently by the end of the third grade.

    MAN: Do you want to pick a book?

    JEFFREY BROWN: The academy is urging pediatricians to provide books to low-income families. It’s also teaming with other groups, including Reach Out and Read, a nonprofit organization NewsHour education correspondent John Merrow profiled in November 2012.

    DR. CINDY OSMAN, Pediatrician, Bellevue Pediatric Clinic: There’s solid research that shows that just that intervention of handing a family a book, giving them a couple of age-appropriate pieces of advice about how to read with their kid, and just encouraging reading, they — those kids will do better in school.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Reach Out and Read serves nearly 5,000 medical centers, and more than a third of all American children living in poverty.

    And the lead author of the new literacy promotion report joins us now. Dr. Pamela High is professor of pediatrics at Brown University and former president of the Society of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

    Well, welcome to you.

    First, start by explaining more about what you’re trying to address here and how serious an issue this is.

    DR. PAMELA HIGH, American Academy of Pediatrics: What we’re addressing is that many parents in the United States don’t seem to have the knowledge that there’s a wonderful opportunity available to them starting very early, an opportunity for them to begin building their child’s language development and to forge their own relationship with their child through reading to them on a regular basis.

    You know, I would also say talking to them, singing with them, playing with them, all of those kinds of things.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In some ways, confirming what we all knew or suspected? What is it about reading or being read to that — what does it do for kids?

    DR. PAMELA HIGH: You know, what reading does for very young children is, it gives them a time when they pretty much have the undivided attention of their parents or their caregivers.

    It’s a real one-on-one opportunity for children to communicate with their parents and parents to communicate with their children. You know, we know that the more words that are in a child’s language world, the more words they will learn, and the stronger their language skills are when they reach kindergarten, the more prepared they are to be able to read, and the better they read, the more likely they will graduate from high school.

    So, children with very poor reading proficiency by the time they enter the fourth grade are the ones at greatest risk to not graduate from high school and then not be able to be successful — successful in their own life course, economically, for example.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Those are the kinds of consequences that you outline in the report, in fact, right, is of economic and even health issues.

    DR. PAMELA HIGH: Yes.

    We frame this — we feel that the power of the experience of reading to children is really seated in the relationship between the parent and the child, that this is the way of building that relationship. And we do know from scores of information that it’s really the parent-child relationship, nurturing relationships between caregivers and children that set a positive life course.

    And this is one medium for it, by talking with them, by exposing them to language and literacy early on, so that they’re motivated, so, even if it’s hard, that the child will want to work in order to learn how to read themselves, because it’s not so easy for all children.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And what exactly are you calling on doctors, people in your profession, to do? How do they — how should they incorporate this into their practice?

    DR. PAMELA HIGH: Well, actually, many pediatricians have been incorporating this into their practice now for almost 20 years.

    It’s the reason that we have a large body of knowledge that tells us the power of this intervention. And the way that we try to do it, in particular for families of lower-income status, who are the ones at greatest risk to not have this information and potentially not to have the tools either to be able to share a book with their child, is that we try to have a high-quality children’s book available, so we can use it as part of the visit with the child.

    So you can use it for a vehicle for seeing how that child is developing. For example, a 6-month-old is likely to hold on to a book, maybe to put it in their mouth and taste it, maybe to look at the pictures for a while, not pay too much attention.

    As they get older, they start patting the pictures. By a year or 15 months, they can probably point to some of the pictures in their favorite book. As they get older than that, they may even be able to point out some letters in the alphabet or tell you the story that’s in the book.

    So the book is a vehicle for assessing how well the child is doing developmentally. It also can be a vehicle for assessing the relationship between the parent and the child. How comfortable is that child sitting in the parent’s lap and sharing that book together? And if it doesn’t seem so comfortable, it’s an opportunity to perhaps model how to do it and show how much fun it can be.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, you know what? We will continue this conversation online. And I want to ask you questions about strategies for parents. But we will stop for now.

    Dr. Pamela High, thank you so much.

    DR. PAMELA HIGH: Thank you.

    The post I is for infant: Reading aloud to young children benefits brain development appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    In a tight runoff primary, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., speaks to supporters during his victory party after a narrow victory over tea party candidate Chris McDaniel. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    In a tight runoff primary, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., speaks to supporters during his victory party after a narrow victory over tea party candidate Chris McDaniel. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — In a remarkable political turnaround, six-term Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi edged out tea party-backed challenger Chris McDaniel Tuesday night in a bruising, costly Republican runoff that pitted Washington clout against insistence on conservative purity.

    With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Cochran had 51 percent to McDaniel’s 49 percent, three weeks after McDaniel had beaten the veteran lawmaker in the initial primary round but had fallen short of the majority needed for nomination. In the three-week dash to the runoff, Cochran and his allies had highlighted his seniority while McDaniel had argued that Cochran was part of a blight of federal overspending.

    In a brief speech, Cochran credited those who helped. “It’s a group effort, it’s not a solo and so we all have a right to be proud of our state tonight.”

    The victory for a stalwart of the Senate Appropriations Committee was a fresh blow to the tea party movement, which spent millions to cast aside Cochran, a mainstream Republican who won a U.S. House seat in President Richard Nixon’s GOP wave of 1972 and has served in the Senate for more than three decades.

    In another setback for the tea party, two-term Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma won the GOP nomination in the race to succeed Sen. Tom Coburn, who is stepping down with two years left in his term. In the solidly Republican state, Lankford is all but assured of becoming the next senator. Part of the House GOP leadership, Lankford defeated T.W. Shannon, a member of the Chickasaw Nation and the state’s first black House speaker, backed by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, two stalwarts of the right.

    Despite Congress’ abysmal public approval ratings, incumbents have largely prevailed midway through the primary season – with two notable exceptions.

    Little-known college professor Dave Brat knocked out House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s Republican primary this month, and Republican Rep. Ralph Hall, 91, lost in a Texas runoff to a younger Republican.

    McDaniel declared as he voted Tuesday, “We are here, we’re going to fight for our belief system no matter what, and we’re going to reclaim Washington, D.C., one race at a time.”

    But Cochran and his allies, notably former Gov. Haley Barbour, promoted his Washington establishment credentials, focusing on the billions he funneled to his home state, one of the poorest in the nation. In a last-ditch effort, Cochran reached out to traditionally Democratic voters – blacks and union members – who could cast ballots in the runoff. That possible factor in Cochran’s victory is sure to be cited by critics in days and weeks to come.

    In predominantly black neighborhoods of Hattiesburg’s south side, an organized effort for Cochran was evident. Ronnie Wilson, a 50-year-old unemployed Hattiesburg man, said he had been encouraged by his pastor to vote for Cochran.

    “They say the other guy is trying to cut food stamps and all that,” Wilson said. “I’m trying to look after the majority of people not working.”

    McDaniel had railed against the federal “spending sprees” by Cochran but his calls to slash the budget unnerved some voters.

    Frank McCain, a 71-year-old retired tax administrator from Mendenhall, voted for Cochran.

    “I believe he is doing a good job,” McCain said. “But mostly I’m more scared of the other candidate. He wants to do things like not taking school funding when everyone else is.”

    The Mississippi contest was the marquee race on a busy June primary day that included New York, Oklahoma, Colorado, Maryland and Utah. In a special House election on Florida’s Gulf Coast, voters chose Republican businessman Curt Clawson to replace former Rep. Trey Radel, who resigned in January after pleading guilty to cocaine possession.

    In New York’s Harlem and upper Manhattan, 84-year-old Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel, a 22-term congressman and the third-most-senior member of the House, held a slight edge over state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, bidding to become the first Dominican-American member of Congress.

    Rangel, one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus, drew criticism last month when he dismissed the 59-year-old Espaillat as a candidate whose only accomplishment was to be a Dominican in a majority Latino district.

    Two years ago, Rangel prevailed in the primary by fewer than 1,100 votes.

    In Mississippi, outside groups, from tea party organizations to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spent some $12 million on the GOP Senate runoff. Former Green Bay Packers quarterback – and Gulfport, Mississippi, native – Brett Favre called the 76-year-old Cochran a “proven and respected leader” in one Chamber ad.

    McDaniel, 41, an attorney and former radio host, had the strong backing of Palin and the tea party movement, which saw his political approach as a change from a Washington status quo of mainstream conservatives willing to compromise.

    Kellie Phipps, a 42-year-old public school teacher from Taylorsville, voted for McDaniel. “I think we need some new blood,” Phipps said.

    In November, Cochran will face Democrat Travis Childers, a former congressman, in the heavily Republican state.

    In Colorado on Tuesday, former Rep. Bob Beauprez won the crowded gubernatorial primary that included 2008 presidential candidate Tom Tancredo, an immigration opponent. That was welcome news to national Republicans who feared that Tancredo could be a drag on the GOP ticket in November. Beauprez will face Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.

    In Maryland, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown won the Democratic primary for governor as the state chose a successor to outgoing Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is considering a 2016 presidential bid. If elected in the Democratic-leaning state, Brown would make history as one of the few African-American governors; Massachusetts’ Deval Patrick is retiring.

    Pettus reported from Mississippi. AP writers Jack Elliott in Morton, Mississippi, Jeff Amy in Taylorsville, Mississippi, Alex Sanz in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Philip Elliott in Washington contributed.

    The post Thad Cochran wins Miss. runoff; edges tea party challenger appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    It takes a special kind of person to run for president.

    For Hillary Clinton, someone who would want to do it twice might just be “a little bit crazy.”

    “Well, you have to be a little bit crazy to run for president, let me just put it like that,” Clinton told the PBS NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill in an interview Tuesday night.

    The rigors of a presidential campaign can be grueling. And not only are candidates’ words scrutinized, but so is every aspect of their health, wealth and personal lives.

    “You have to be so totally immersed,” Clinton continued, “and so convinced that you can bring something to that office — that your vision about what you can do to help Americans.”

    But that doesn’t mean Clinton, who was the presumptive front runner for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination before losing to eventual President Barack Obama, won’t do it again.

    “I see them,” Clinton said of Americans who struggle. “I’ve had people come through the line who tell me their stories about losing their job, about what’s happened since they got health care that has helped them, and I hear this, so I know that my life of service is the biggest reason why I would consider doing this, because I would want to continue serving. But I also know that it’s a very hard job, and it’s a job that, you know, you have to be totally consumed by, and that’s kind of the definition of being a little bit crazy, I think.”

    You can watch the full interview on Wednesday’s PBS NewsHour.

    The post Hillary Clinton: ‘You have to be a little bit crazy to run for president’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The National Football League has reached a settlement to uncap funds for retired players suffering neurological problems due to concussions. Photo by Flickr user Ed Yourdon

    The National Football League has reached a settlement to uncap funds for retired players suffering neurological problems due to concussions. Photo by Flickr user Ed Yourdon

    The National Football League reached a new settlement Wednesday with retired players on concussion funding.

    Wednesday’s settlement expands the estimated $675 million cap required to fund the program, to being uncapped for any retired player who develops neurological problems like dementia, ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and Parkinson’s.

    “This agreement will give retired players and their families immediate help if they suffer from a qualifying neurocognitive illness, and provide peace of mind to those who fear they may develop a condition in the future,” plaintiffs’ lawyers Christopher Seeger and Sol Weiss said in a statement.

    In addition to the provided payout funds for players, expanding education on preventing concussions is next on the list of plaintiff demands. The NFL has already committed $10 million for this effort.

    “Today’s agreement reaffirms the NFL’s commitment to provide help to those retired players and their families who are in need, and to do so without the delay, expense and emotional cost associated with protracted litigation,” NFL Senior Vice President Anastasia Danias said in a statement.

    You can find out more about how concussion awareness is changing the sport of football for the more than one million elementary, middle and high school students who play every year on our Tough Calls page. The topic was also the focus of a NewsHour report in February.

    The Student Reporting Labs program is part of the American Graduate project, a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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    The GDP for the U.S. shrunk at a rate of 2.9% in the first quarter of 2014, new data shows. Photo by Flickr user 401(K) 2012

    The GDP for the U.S. shrunk at a rate of 2.9% in the first quarter of 2014, new data shows. Photo by Flickr user 401(K) 2012

    Since the recession ended in 2009, the U.S. economy has experienced mainly positive growth. But new data from the Commerce Department on Wednesday reveals that in the first quarter of 2014, the economy contracted — suffering its sharpest pullback in 5 years.

    The nation’s gross domestic product — the total output of goods and services produced — shrunk at a seasonally-adjusted rate of 2.9%. That’s a change from both the 1% decrease that the Commerce Department reported last month, and its first estimate in April of a 0.1% uptick.

    Consumer spending — which accounts for over two-thirds of the U.S. GDP — was also weaker than previously projected. Original numbers showed a rate increase of 3.1%, but new reports show only a 1% advance.

    The low first-quarter numbers are generally thought to be only temporary, and reflect the effects of the harsh winter weather that closed businesses and discouraged Americans from shopping. The trend of sluggish consumer spending is also attributed to the continued high unemployment rate and stagnant wages.

    A drop in health care spending and a trade deficit that proved larger than originally estimated further contributed to the revised, reduced data.

    For Chris Rupkey, an economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, the sag in growth only proves that the U.S. economy has a long way to go in its recovery.

    “It does not sound like the economy has reached escape velocity no matter how you try to spin it,” Rupkey said. “It’s going to take some big numbers the rest of 2014 for the economy to hit 2% growth.”

    Despite the disappointing economic reports, the U.S. stock market fared well on Wednesday — edging higher in afternoon trading.

    The post U.S. economy shrinks to a 5-year low appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    While promoting her new book, “Hard Choices,” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that she’s been enjoying traveling around the country.

    “It’s a great way to become immersed again in what’s going on in my own country, because for four years I didn’t travel around my own country,” she told Gwen Ifill on Tuesday. “I was in 112 other countries.”

    Clinton was in Denver to attend the Clinton Global Initiative.

    She told Ifill that she’s been receiving great feedback from the people she’s met along her tour, but reiterated, “I’m not running for anything right now.”

    You can watch the full interview on Wednesday’s PBS NewsHour.

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    Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel speaks at the Chatham House in London on January 13, 2014. Russel warned Wednesday that China's territorial disputes were harming the country's international standing. Photo by Chatham House

    Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel speaks at the Chatham House in London on January 13, 2014. Russel warned Wednesday that China’s territorial disputes were harming the country’s international standing. Photo by Chatham House

    WASHINGTON — China’s coercive efforts to enforce its territorial claims in disputed waters are not just raising tensions but damaging its international standing, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday.

    Top diplomat for East Asia, Daniel Russel, was speaking at a congressional hearing, two weeks ahead of high-level talks in Beijing, where he said Washington would seek to build “strategic trust” with China and economic cooperation, but would also push for the release of political prisoners.

    Appearing before lawmakers, Russel criticized China’s recent actions in the East and South China Seas which he said had left its neighbors “understandably alarmed.”

    China is locked in a standoff with Vietnam after deploying oil rigs in waters claimed by nations, and has running territorial disputes with U.S. treaty allies, the Philippines and Japan, that have increased fears of a military skirmish that could rock the region’s fast-growing economies.

    “A pattern of unilateral Chinese actions in sensitive and disputed areas is raising tensions and damaging China’s international standing,” Russel said in prepared comments for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    “China, as a strong and rising power, should hold itself to a high standard of behavior. To willfully disregard diplomatic and other peaceful ways of dealing with disagreements and disputes in favor of economic or physical coercion is destabilizing and dangerous,” he said.

    China says its expansive territorial claims have a historical basis and denies acting provocatively, and it looks dimly on Washington speaking out on the issue. While the U.S. is not a claimant itself, it says it has a national interest in sustaining open navigation and trade through those waters.

    U.S.-China relations have also been strained by U.S. accusations of cyber espionage, and Russel said the U.S. would raise its concerns over theft of intellectual property and trade secrets at next month’s Strategic and Economic Dialogue, to be attended by Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.

    Washington upped the ante last month when it charged five Chinese military officials with hacking into U.S. companies to steal trade secrets — accusations that Beijing rejects.

    The post Diplomat: China’s land disputes hurt its international standing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Most Americans who remember Henry Paulson think of him as the former Treasury Secretary to President George W. Bush and one of the government’s leading point men (for better or for worse depending on your point of view) when it came to dealing with the financial crisis that devastated the economy. But Paulson has also long been an important voice from the world of business, investment and Wall Street who talks openly about tackling the problem of climate change.

    This week he’s publicly out front on that issue in a major way. First, he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times this past weekend that made the case for a carbon tax — not a popular position with many leading figures in the Republican party — and to call for other actions to limit greenhouse gases, here, in China and elsewhere. Then on Tuesday, he, along with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, billionaire financier and Democrat donor Tom Steyer and many others issued a report with new estimates on the potential costs and risks of climate change in the U.S.

    Tonight, he’s on the NewsHour to lay out some of the findings of the analysis and the message the group is trying to send to the public, to businesses, the investment community and politicians. When he stopped by for his interview with Judy Woodruff this afternoon, she also asked him about his views on the highly debated question of whether to extend the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada down through the gulf states. Paulson said that he does favor its approval — even though many leading voices in the environmental community are worried that it could lead to even more greenhouse gases from the use of tar sands oil. But he said he sees the battle over Keystone as “more of a symbol” and, he says, “if you look at it dispassionately and say this oil is going to be produced, it’s going to travel” anyway via rail, then it makes sense to approve it and would help create jobs.

    Here’s his opinion on Keystone and we’ll have a longer interview about the climate change report tonight on the NewsHour.

    The post Hank Paulson says he supports Keystone pipeline appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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  • 06/25/14--14:34: Rangel wins New York primary
  • Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., speaks to the media after voting in the Democratic primary for the 13th congressional district of New York on June 24. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., speaks to the media after voting in the Democratic primary for the 13th congressional district of New York on June 24. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    NEW YORK — U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, the face of Harlem politics for generations, held off a strong Democratic primary challenge and moved one step closer to what he says will be his 23rd and final term in the House.

    Rangel, 84, defeated state Sen. Adriano Espaillat in what was a bruising fight that shed light on the changing face of a district that was once one of the nation’s black political power bases.

    With 100 percent of the vote counted in unofficial results, Rangel led Espaillat 47.4 percent to 43.6 percent, a difference of fewer than 2,000 votes. Nearly 47,800 votes had been counted. The Associated Press called Rangel the winner based on information Wednesday from the city Board of Elections on ballots cast that were not included in the election night tally. The number of absentee and provisional ballots was not sufficient for Espaillat to make up the difference.

    “Fired up and ready to go!” the congressman declared in a statement thanking voters for “standing with me to the very end and giving this veteran his one last fight.”

    “I’ve got a lot of fight in me and will not let them down,” said Rangel. He added that he hoped to begin healing the “division that was created during the course of the campaign.”

    The election pitted Rangel, the “Lion of Harlem” who has long personified the area’s role in as a center of African-American political culture, against Espaillat, a veteran state lawmaker seeking to become the first person born in the Dominican Republic to be elected to Congress.

    Espaillat, who lost to Rangel in 2012 by about 1,000 votes in results that took two weeks to finalize, has not conceded, urging that every vote be counted. He told supporters Tuesday night that the race was too close to call, and his team has said it could mount a legal challenge. His campaign declined to comment Wednesday.

    For his part, Rangel took to the stage Tuesday night for nearly an hour of what he termed “sweating it out” with supporters — his own off-the-cuff remarks, homages from prominent supporters including former Mayor David Dinkins and even a moment of danger when the stage buckled under the weight of all those gathered on it. After ascertaining that no one was injured, Rangel kept on talking.

    Finally, after a local TV station called the race, balloons dropped from the ceiling, and Rangel told supporters: “This was your victory.”

    Rangel was once arguably the most influential black elected official in the U.S., known for his gravelly voice, impeccable suits and staunch liberal views, including his outspoken opposition to apartheid and the Iraq War.

    But he was weakened after 2010 ethics violations that forced him to give up the chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, and his heavily Democratic district was then redrawn. The new lines, along with gentrification and demographic shifts in Harlem, created a district with a Hispanic majority in what was once a black stronghold.

    The shifting racial terrain was a backdrop for the race, which grew nastier as primary day approached. At a debate, Rangel said Espaillat “wants to be the Jackie Robinson of the Dominicans in the Congress,” adding that Espaillat should tell voters “just what the heck has he done besides saying he’s a Dominican.”

    That remark drew a sharp retort from Espaillat and a chiding from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who managed Rangel’s 1994 campaign yet refused to offer an endorsement this time.

    While the election reflected a changing constituency, political experts say other realities played an important part in the outcome.

    “Incumbency is a key factor,” especially in a June primary that brought out less than 14 percent of the district’s registered Democrats, said Jeanne Zaino, a political science professor at Iona College and New York University. But generational change may also have played a role, as some voters — increasingly, younger than Rangel — look for new leadership even if they respect his contributions, she said.

    Still, Rangel has seen his district through enormous transitions, and he’s had nearly half a century of experience persuading voters that he should be a constant even amid the change, Fordham University political scientist Christina Greer noted.

    “He’s weathered all of the storms, and people still come out to support him,” she said.

    Harlem pastor the Rev. Michael Walrond and Bronx activist Yolanda Garcia also ran, finishing far back.


    Associated Press writers Deepti Hajela and Michael Sisak contributed to this report.

    The post Rangel wins New York primary appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Hillary Clinton Gwen Ifill

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Secretary Clinton, thank you for joining us.

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, Author, “Hard Choices”: Thank you, Gwen, it’s wonderful to see you.

    GWEN IFILL: I want to start by talking about Iraq. There’s much debate now about what the would-haves and the could-haves and the should-haves. If we had left a residual force on the ground as some critics are now saying, do you think we’d be seeing the collapse we’re seeing today?

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: I think it’s impossible to answer that question. Certainly when President Obama had to make the decision about what to do, he was deciding based on what the Bush administration had already determined, because they were the ones who said troops have to be out by the end of 2011. And I was part of the discussions where we were putting together proposals for the Iraqi government to consider about a residual force that would be there to help train, to provide intelligence and generally support services.

    Unfortunately as we all know now, the Maliki government was not willing to do what was necessary for us to be able to do that. So the problems that we’re seeing in Iraq, I would argue are primarily political, but they are of course manifest in this very dangerous extremist group being able to gain ground and hold it. That is only possible in my opinion because the Sunnis, who had partnered with the United States and even with Maliki to drive out Al Qaeda in Iraq, feel as though they have been isolated and excluded. So I think it’s, it’s difficult to say if we had kept a residual force even for a year or two, or three, that we would have had the ability to control what Maliki did, and I think his behavior, his sectarianism, his purging of Sunni leaders, the way he stopped paying the Sunni awakening soldiers and so much else contributed to where we are today.

    GWEN IFILL: So Maliki has to go for this to work itself out?

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Well, I think it’s highly unlikely that he will embrace the kind of inclusivity that is required, but it’s up to the Iraqis to decide who they want to lead them, but of course their decision affects whether, and to what extent, we should be involved  to trying to help them.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about Ukraine , in your book you write about how skeptical you were, consistently, of Vladimir Putin’s intentions. Can you see a scenario right now in which he would step back from the border at all? In a way that you can trust?

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Well, I think you’ve asked exactly the right question, as you often do Gwen, because I can see a scenario, and I see him playing around the edges of it right now, where he is sending public messages that, the other day he said to the upper house in the Russian parliament, that perhaps we should withdraw the authority to go into eastern and southern Ukraine, he’s talking about perhaps observing a cease fire, so the rhetorical positions he’s taking look as though he is at least pausing. However, on the ground there are still worrying developments, the movement of Russian troops continues to be a quite troubling development, and the failure to close their side of the border, so even if one were to believe that the individuals coming over the border from Russia are acting independently, which I think is highly improbably, but even if one were to believe that then Putin could do a lot more to close his side of the border to prevent that.

    GWEN IFILL: You’re in Denver for the Clinton Global Initiative conference here, and your husband was forced to defend you at his own conference. He was asked about this idea, that you are now, that there’s a caricature forming of you because of a few things you’ve said, that you are wealthy and out of touch, and President Clinton said “she’s not out of touch.”  Is it your fault that the conversation has turned to that?

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Well, I shouldn’t have said the five or so words that I said, but my inartful use of those few words doesn’t change who I am, what I’ve stood for my entire life, what I stand for today. Bill and I have had terrific opportunities, both of us, you know, have worked hard, but we’ve been grateful for everything that we’ve been able to achieve, and sadly that’s just not true for most Americans today.

    So many Americans are feeling, you know, shut out, shut down, the great recession hasn’t ended for too many Americans, wages are flat, families are struggling, not enough new jobs, or new businesses are being created, and it’s important that we all try to figure out what we’re going to do, and that’s what I’ve done my entire life, fighting for a higher minimum wage, or family leave, now paid family leave which I believe in, equal pay for equal work, I have a very long record so, you know, my attitude about this, Gwen, is that if others want to, you know, take things out of context or try to create some caricature…

    GWEN IFILL: But it sticks, sometimes. Ask Mitt Romney

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: That’s a false equivalency. People can judge me for what I’ve done. And I think when somebody’s out in the public eye, that’s what they do. So I’m fully comfortable with who I am, what I stand for and what I’ve always stood for.

    GWEN IFILL: What I meant by Mitt Romney is there’s a bubble problem sometimes where you can be cut off from people in a regular way. George H.W. Bush you remember had that with the gallon of milk. How do you avoid that?

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: I think if you come from where I came from and where I have always been, I’ve always been reaching out and whether it’s talking with our neighbors or going shopping or standing, talking to people in these bookstores and hearing what’s on their minds, or even the work I did for eight years as a senator to bring new jobs to New York and stand up for the people I represented. And frankly as I travelled around as Secretary of State, as I write in the book, part of what I was trying to do was to figure out ways to create more jobs at home, by standing up against the unfair competition and the barriers to American businesses, that hurt American workers. I don’t, my husband was very sweet today, but I don’t need anybody to defend my record, I think my record speaks for itself.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about domestic politics a little bit. Because one of the things that President Obama has faced is the dilemma of trying to bring the economy back and by some measures it’s coming back. But individuals don’t seem to feel it. How do you feel that disconnect?

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: I believe that if the President had not intervened in the way that he did, we’d be even further back than we should be. It takes time to recover fully from such a dramatic break in our economic fortunes. And so we’re back to, dug ourselves out of the hill, out of the hole, we’ve got our chin up there looking around. There is still a lot to be done. The President’s the first to say that.

    GWEN IFILL: And he’s facing a midterm election dilemma.

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Yes it’s, midterms are always hard. And the midterm in a two-term president’s second term is especially hard. But I think it’s important for people to say look, what does each party and each candidate have to offer for you. If you want a better future that is going to be reliant on making smart economic policies, compare my husband’s eight years with Ronald Reagan’s eight years. 23 million new jobs, more than seven million people lifted out of poverty. We know that we have to have the right combinations of government policies and private sector energy and dynamism. Getting that balance right is what I know President Obama has tried to do, and at every turn he’s been stopped. And I want people who are making these consequential decisions about voting in November to think hard about what’s at stake for them, their families, their futures.

    GWEN IFILL: Your husband actually said to me, when we talked at an interview at the Peterson Foundation earlier this year, that he thought the Democrats should not be running away from healthcare…

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Right.

    GWEN IFILL: Obamacare, that they should be running toward it.

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Right.

    GWEN IFILL: Can you elaborate on that?

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Absolutely. First of all, there’s a lot of good news in what’s been done. There are so many examples that people can point to, and we’re now getting enough evidence so it’s not your anecdote against my anecdote, it’s the number of people who now are insured, the number of people who are on Medicaid who are getting care for the first time, the number of people with pre-existing conditions who now have healthcare for what they actually need it for, the number of young people on their parent’s policies who are now being taken care of, we could go down a very long list, and I think Bill’s advice, and it would be my advice as well, if I were a democrat running for reelection in 2014, I would be posing a very stark choice to the voters of my district, or my state, if you want us to go back to the time when your sister with diabetes, or your husband with his heart condition, couldn’t get insurance at an affordable rate, then don’t vote for me, because I think it’s great that your sister and your husband now have insurance.

    GWEN IFILL: Why aren’t Democrats making that precise argument, then? They’re not.

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Well, they need to, and you know, it’s only toward the end of June, people will kind of get organized and get out there, but I’m just saying what I would say, because I believe, and this is the point Bill was making, and maybe it’s because we’re both so battle scarred because we have fought so many battles, over so many years, on things like economic opportunity, and fighting against economic inequality, and healthcare which, you know, I certainly have scars from, that when you pass something as consequential as this, get out and defend it, and you can say, and I think people should say, look, we’re going to learn more about how it’s working, and if there are adjustments that need to be made as we go forward, wouldn’t you rather have somebody who wants to keep the good, and fix what’s not working, than somebody who wants to undermine it, and maybe throw it out. These are very stark choices.

    GWEN IFILL: You talk about your battle scars, some people would call it, more charitably, experience. You have more experience at this point in your life than George W Bush had as president, that Barak Obama had when he became president, what Bill Clinton had when he became president. Given all that, why wouldn’t you run for president?

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Well, you know, obviously I’m flattered and I’m honored that so many people are asking me what you just asked me…

    GWEN IFILL: Okay, you’re flattered, your honored, let’s move on…

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Yes, I know, and I take seriously the passion that a lot of people approach me in book lines, and events, talking to me about this. I am not going to make a decision until I have a chance to really sit down and take stock of what I want to do for the rest of my life, and what I think I could uniquely bring to a presidential race, and I have this new exciting event, I want to wait to be a grandmother, I have wanted to do this for a long time, obviously…

    GWEN IFILL: But it took your daughter…

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Well, yes, it took my daughter to make the decision, along with her wonderful husband, so I want to feel and be present in that experience. I know what high stakes politics demands, it is a twenty-four seven, totally consuming experience, and I write in the book about what it was like to end my campaign, begin talking to, then, Senator Obama, endorse him, and so forth. I have no illusions, I probably have a better idea of what it takes both to win, and to govern, than many people who might choose to seek the job, and I also know that when you make that decision, if it’s a go decision, there’s nothing else. That is what you have to do full speed. I don’t want to be looking over my new grandchild’s shoulder, wondering what’s happening in state X or Y, I want to be fully engaged, and then as I’ve said many times, you know, toward the end of the year I will sit down and try to make sense of my conflicted feelings.

    GWEN IFILL: Your husband used to say all the time, during the campaign in 1992 that I covered, he used to say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result, so put it a different way, would it be insane of you to run for office again?

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Well, I well remember that saying, because it happens to be one of our favorites. Well, you have to be a little bit crazy to run for president, let me just put it like that, because you have to be so totally immersed, and so convinced that you can bring something to that office, that your vision about what you can do to help Americans, and I see them, I’ve had people come through the line who tell me their stories about losing their job, about what’s happened since they got health care that has helped them, and I hear this, so I know that my life of service is the biggest reason why I would consider doing this, because I would want to continue serving, but I also know that it’s a very hard job, and it’s a job that, you know, you have to be totally consumed by, and that’s kind of the definition of being a little bit crazy, I think.

    GWEN IFILL: Secretary of State, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, thank you very much.

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Thanks Gwen, great to be with you.

    The post Hillary Clinton talks ‘Hard Choices’ and battle scars appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newswrap

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. economy suffered more in the first quarter than first believed. The government said today it shrank at an annual rate of almost 3 percent, due mainly to winter storms and falling health care spending. More recent data suggests a rebound since then.

    Wall Street mostly shrugged off the report. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 49 points to close at 16,867. The Nasdaq rose 29 points to 4,379. And the S&P 500 added nine to finish at 1,959.

    GWEN IFILL: The National Football League agreed today to remove a cap on payouts to former players with concussion-related problems. A federal judge had suggested the overall cap of $675 million wasn’t enough to cover as many as 20,000 retirees. The settlement is meant to last at least 65 years for former players with Lou Gehrig’s disease, dementia and other conditions.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Republicans in the House of Representatives are going to federal court with a lawsuit charging President Obama has abused his powers. Speaker John Boehner announced the move today. He gave no details of the specific legal claims, but said the goal is to protect the rights of Congress.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER, Speaker of the House:  What we have seen clearly over the last five years is an effort to erode the power of the legislative branch. And I believe the president is not faithfully executing the laws of our country.

    And on behalf of the institution and our Constitution, standing up and fighting for this is in the best long-term interest of the Congress.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Republicans have accused the president of unilaterally changing health care and immigration laws. The White House said today that congressional obstruction has forced Mr. Obama to make greater use of executive orders.

    GWEN IFILL:  Supporters of gay marriage won two new legal victories today. A federal appeals court in Denver upheld a lower court ruling against Utah’s ban on same-sex unions. The state attorney general immediately promised to appeal. And a separate federal court struck down Indiana’s ban on gay marriage.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle is the latest to settle claims that priests sexually abused children. The church has agreed to pay $12 million to 30 men who say they were assaulted as children at two Catholic schools. It happened between the 1950s and the 1980s.

    GWEN IFILL:  In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for all factions to unite against a Sunni insurgency. But he rejected appeals, from President Obama and others, to form a unity government. Maliki insisted today any such move would amount to a coup, since his Shiite bloc won the most seats in April’s elections.

    NOURI AL-MALIKI, Prime Minister, Iraq (through interpreter):  It is not a secret to Iraqis the grave intentions harbored behind the call for the formation of a so-called government of national salvation. It is an attempt to eliminate our young democracy and to ignore voters’ opinions. The call to form a government of national salvation would torpedo the constitution and the political process.

    GWEN IFILL:  Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry warned Iraq’s neighbors against intervening. On Tuesday, Syrian warplanes bombed an Iraqi border town seized by the Sunni extremist group ISIL. That same faction is also fighting in Syria.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Secretary Kerry also called today for Russian President Vladimir Putin to show he’s serious about fostering peace in Ukraine. Earlier, the Russian Parliament canceled a resolution authorizing military force to support Ukrainian rebels.

    But, in Brussels, Kerry said Putin needs to do more, if he wants to avoid tougher economic sanctions.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:  We are delighted that President Putin put to the Duma the retraction of that law which empowered Russia to take action in Ukraine. That’s important. It’s a great step. But it could be reversed in 10 minutes, and everyone knows that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Russia denies it is letting fighters and heavy weapons cross into Ukraine or that it is again massing troops near the border.

    GWEN IFILL:  Libya held parliamentary elections today, despite growing chaos, three years after the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi. Turnout was sparse, but troops deployed to protect polling stations from possible attacks. At least two cities closed their polls entirely.

    The post News Wrap: Maliki rejects appeals for a unity government in Iraq appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Supreme Court Delivers Decisions Against Aereo And Rules In Favor Of Cellphone Privacy

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    GWEN IFILL: In two closely watched technology cases, the Supreme Court placed limits on law enforcement and on streaming video services. In a unanimous decision, the court decided police officers need a warrant to search cell phones. And, separately, six of the nine justices sided with broadcast networks against an Internet startup that sought to share their signals without paying a fee.

    For more on today’s decisions, we turn as always to Marcia Coyle of “The National Law Journal.”

    That first case, Marcia, sounds a little bit like, when is a cell phone not a cell phone?

    (LAUGHTER)

    MARCIA COYLE, The National Law Journal: Well, it was a fascinating case, a very straightforward decision by the chief justice.

    Actually, it was two cases, Gwen, one from Boston and one from California. The cell phone owners had been lawfully arrested, one for concealed weapons and gang-related activity, the other for drug-related activity. One cell phone owner had a smartphone. The other had the older clip phone.

    As you know and as we have talked about, a search is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, generally, if police have a warrant, but there are exceptions to the warrant requirement that the court has recognized over the years. And that exception — one of the exceptions played out in the case today.

    Police can search you after you have been arrested, generally for two reasons, one, to look for any weapons that might endanger the officer or the public, and also to preserve possible destruction of evidence — preserve destruction of evidence — preserve evidence that might be destruction.

    Sorry about that.

    GWEN IFILL: I got it.

    MARCIA COYLE: And the chief justice today for the entire court said that that exception doesn’t apply to cell phones.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, here’s a thing that struck me about this decision, the colorful writing, I thought, from Chief Justice Roberts, being very blunt about why he thought this was different, and also the unanimity of the decision.

    MARCIA COYLE: That is unusual, especially the unanimity.

    The court split on Fourth Amendment and warrant requirements in the GPS case not too long ago.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    MARCIA COYLE: And they sometimes have very unusual coalitions when they divide on Fourth Amendment questions.

    But, on this case, it seems like it wasn’t hard for them, generally, because of, as the chief justice explained, the amount of information that cell phones contain today. He went into great lengths describing what we keep on our cell phones today. In fact, he said, a search of a cell phone is a more significant invasion than a search of your home in terms of what you can find.

    He made a funny comment at the beginning of his opinion saying that cell phones have become such a pervasive and insistent part of our daily lives that a Martian who came to the United States would probably think that it was an important part of the human anatomy.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: This sounds like a man who has teenagers at home.

    GWEN IFILL: So, tell me, getting a warrant is all that the required in order for law enforcement to still get access to these phones. And the court said that is the cost of doing business.

    MARCIA COYLE: Yes, he said privacy has a cost, and he noted that this will have an impact on law enforcement’s ability to fight crime, but he did think that the government’s counterarguments here just didn’t outweigh those privacy interests.

    He says law enforcement has technological tools that it can use, for example, if somebody locks the cell phone. They can put cell phones in these special bags now in order to keep the evidence in the cell phone and cell phone itself from remotely being wiped.

    So, you know, he just came down basically saying that the privacy interests here were so much stronger, and he even we want back to the founding of the United States, the American Revolution. He said, the seeds of that revolution were in the colonists’ hatred, antipathy for the general warrants that the British soldiers used in order to rummage through their homes.

    GWEN IFILL: Even if they had had cell phones, who knows what the patriots would have thought about this.

    MARCIA COYLE: Well, that’s true.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about the second case, which is commonly known as the Aereo case, the video streaming case, also technology, but about copyright law, not about privacy.

    MARCIA COYLE: Yes. That’s right.

    The major broadcast networks claimed that Aereo, which is a fairly recent streaming venture…

    GWEN IFILL: For the record, PBS was one of them.

    MARCIA COYLE: Yes, exactly, that Aereo had violated the networks’ exclusive right under the Federal Copyright Act to publicly perform their works. And they — Aereo did this by retransmitting the networks’ program to their subscribers for a fee.

    GWEN IFILL: And they did it with little — kind of like an antenna.

    MARCIA COYLE: Miniature antennas that they would assign to each subscriber who was requesting a certain program, and then that antenna would go up on a major board, I think in Massachusetts, where they’re based, and the subscriber then would decide, you know, what program and when it wanted to view that program.

    For the court, Justice Breyer wrote for a 6-3 majority. And he said, after examining the court’s prior decisions on copyright and technology and also Congress’ response to those decisions in the Copyright Act, that what Aereo does, its operation was very similar to what cable companies do.

    And cable companies were regulated under the Copyright Act and were required to pay license fees if they wanted that programming.

    GWEN IFILL: So the majority basically thought that Aereo, that the creators of this innovative service were trying to exploit a loophole in law?

    MARCIA COYLE: Well, they didn’t say that specifically, but that was the argument of the networks…

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    MARCIA COYLE: … that Aereo was trying to game the system by this new method of streaming to their subscribers.

    But Justice Breyer, he went step by step to look at whether Aereo actually publicly performs the work. It had a lot to do with the definition of publicly perform. And he rejected all of Aereo’s arguments that, one, it was subscribers who perform and that it was not publicly because the transmission only goes to one subscriber. He still saw it as very much similar to cable companies’ operations.

    GWEN IFILL: So, unlike the first case, this was not — the first two cases, this was not a unanimous decision.

    MARCIA COYLE: No.

    GWEN IFILL: What did the dissenters say, and who were they?

    MARCIA COYLE: Justice Scalia wrote the dissent. And he was joined by Justices Thomas and Alito.

    And he looked at just one part of the argument here, whether Aereo performed copyrighted work, and decided that they didn’t, and he accused the majority of coming up with a — looks like a cable standard under the Copyright Act that he said would only create confusion.

    He did admit, though, at the end of his opinion that he shared the majority’s sense that there was something a little wrong about Aereo’s operation here under the Copyright Act. But he said, if this is a loophole, it’s really for Congress to deal with it, not the courts.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, the court has not cut yet at least between us and our telecommunication cord cable providers, right?

    MARCIA COYLE: Not yet. Not yet.

    GWEN IFILL: Marcia Coyle, “National Law Journal,” thank you.

    MARCIA COYLE: My pleasure.

    The post Supreme Court limits law enforcement cell phone searches, TV signal streaming appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Thad Cochran Awaits Election Results After Close Run-Off Election

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Two weeks after the House majority leader, Eric Cantor, Republican in Virginia, went down to a stunning primary defeat, the establishment struck back Tuesday night.

    From Mississippi to New York to Colorado, there were plenty of close races for incumbents, but they all survived.

    The NewsHour’s political editor, Domenico Montanaro, is back with us to decipher what happened.

    So, Domenico, what did happen? This was supposed to be comeback night for the Tea Party, Mississippi.

    DOMENICO MONTANARO, Political Editor: Maybe, right?

    I mean, we were wondering whether or not the Eric Cantor race would be an aberration or whether or not it would be the start of some kind of anti-incumbent trend. And what it certainly looked like last night is that it really was just an aberration for Cantor, because there were some other issues at play where he ignored his district.

    There were plenty, like we said in the intro, of very close races, Mississippi being one of them, but Thad Cochran, the incumbent senator there, longtime senator, eked out a win by just less than 2 percentage points over his Tea Party opponent. And he did it in a very unique way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, talk about that, because there’s a lot of discussion — and you have been looking into this today — about what happened in some of these heavily Democratic parts of the state.

    DOMENICO MONTANARO: Well, if you told me three weeks ago that a Republican would wind up winning a Republican primary by appealing to Democrats and black voters, I would have said he’s done.

    And I think that’s why a lot of the political community was fairly skeptical that Thad Cochran and his team, with the Haley Barbour machine really in Mississippi, being able to pull that off. And that’s exactly what they wound up doing.

    We saw that if you look at the 24 majority African-American districts in the state, Cochran wound up gaining 10,000 votes out of that. His margin of victory was only 6,700 votes. So, right there, you can see where he made up that margin.

    And in one county, Hinds County, where Jackson is, which is 70 percent African-American, he wound up getting 5,700 votes he netted out of there, so that’s 85 percent of the margin that he wound up winning, so a really interesting effort by their campaign, one that really I don’t think’s been seen before.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And McDaniel picked up turnout as well, picked up his vote count as well, but as you were saying, for Cochran, it was much more.

    And McDaniel can’t challenge this, right? I mean, there’s no way he can run as an — I mean, as an independent.

    DOMENICO MONTANARO: Independent. No, he can’t, because he missed the March 1 deadline, so he can’t run as an independent. And I don’t think it would help him anyway.

    He ran as an independent. His appeal is not with independents and Democrats, who would be able to then vote in the general election. This was an open primary, which is why Democrats and independents were able to vote. But if McDaniel ran in that climate, it would be much, much more difficult for him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you were saying incumbents did well elsewhere. Oklahoma is one place, and there were other states too.

    DOMENICO MONTANARO: Absolutely.

     

    Well, we see in Oklahoma James Lankford, the incumbent there, who was running for the open Senate seat, he’s an incumbent congressman, wound up, surprisingly, blowing away the field here, with T.W. Shannon, who is the former statehouse speaker.

    And he had a lot of Tea Party support. And it really was a bad night for establishment Tea Party folks. The irony here is that Dave Brat, who wound up beating Eric Cantor, had almost no D.C. establishment, Tea Party support. That was pure grassroots. And it’s the only real win that they have had.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you mentioned Colorado and some other states.

    DOMENICO MONTANARO: Yes, in Colorado, Upstate New York, you had other incumbents who had a bit of a scare, but wound up winning their races anyhow.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, the one Democratic incumbent we want to talk about, and that’s Charlie Rangel, New York City, long time, one of the longest-serving members of the House, eked out a win.

    DOMENICO MONTANARO: Well, and a lot of us were wondering. Here is another 40-year member of the — of Congress, and would he be able to survive this time around in a district that has gotten much more heavily Latino?

    He wound up winning. Late this afternoon, they finally called it 47-44 over state Senator Adriano Espaillat. So, Rangel, though, says that this will be his last term. We will see what winds up happening in the next — in the next one, if maybe Espaillat comes back.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Primary season marches on.

    Domenico Montanaro, thank you.

    DOMENICO MONTANARO: Thank you.

    The post After Cantor’s upset, incumbents hold their ground in close primary races appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    guatemala3a

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Infant mortality rates have fallen dramatically worldwide over the past 25 years. But, even as health officials celebrate that achievement, they also warn that those who survive malnutrition frequently face lifelong problems.

    In the Americas, the situation is most dire in Guatemala, where roughly 50 percent of the children are so malnourished they’re stunted, physically and developmentally, for life.

    Now, for the first time in decades, that country’s leaders have a coordinated program to bring those numbers down.

    Hari Sreenivasan has our report, which was produced in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Each day around mid-afternoon, Maria Chamile begins a chore she knows may harm her children.

    With no meat and few vegetables, she starts cooking dinner with the ingredients available to her. Usually, that’s just beans. It’s a staple meal here in the predominantly Mayan highlands of Guatemala, one containing so few of the vitamins and minerals children need to grow properly that roughly eight in 10 of them are stunted in some communities.

    Chamile saw it with her first four children, but she is hopeful things will be different with her 1-year-old daughter, Lydia. And international observers agree the outlook for many families seems brighter today than it has in a very long time, that there’s reason for optimism.

    To find out why, I traveled to Guatemala with journalist Roger Thurow. He’s been covering chronic malnutrition and its impacts for more than a decade for The Wall Street Journal and more recently the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. We meet up with Chamile at her home near the town of Chichicastenango.

    How many kids? Six kids? Five kids?

    WOMAN: Five kids.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Five kids.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Is he one of the boys?

    WOMAN: He’s the first…

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.

    Among the first topics of conversation:

    How old are these guys?

    ROGER THUROW, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting: So, this guy is 11, 6, 13.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The startling height difference between us.

    Until recently, the assumption was that Mayans were simply shorter than other ethnic groups.

    So, when people in the Mayan highlands look around and they see everyone around them of the same height, some of them might think it’s genetic.

    ROGER THUROW: The thinking is beginning to change, some that genetics might have some role to it, particularly as they get into adulthood.

    But, basically, they’re finding that, wait a minute, there are certain standards and expectations of a child’s growth during the first years of life, kind of no matter where the child is in the world. What they find here when they chart it, it’s really — it’s really interesting, that starting already several months into the child’s life, you can start seeing the deviations begin.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Chamile has been warned of the dangers. It’s why, every four weeks, she brings her baby Lydia to be weighed at this center operated by humanitarian group Save the Children.

    The main focus here is on children within the first 1,000 days. This period between pregnancy and the child’s second birthday is a make-or-break one for brain development and physical growth. When the proper nutrients are missing, development slows, making it very difficult, if not impossible, for the kids to make up the losses, even if they’re well-fed later in life.

    Studies show that not only does malnutrition cause growth disruption; it can also lead to vastly lower I.Q. scores and increase the likelihood for heart disease, diabetes, kidney damage and anemia into adulthood.

    On this day, the health workers discover that baby Lydia is not on track for height or weight. She’s much too small. So the Chamiles are escorted to another counseling session on good nutrition, where they learn about the importance of things like adding meat, fish and vegetables to their daily diets.

    For a lucky few, there is even a small amount of Save the Children funding to help families obtain chickens for their eggs and goats for their milk. Others receive limited amounts of food straight from the government. But, so far, Maria Chamile and her family haven’t received any of that.

    So at the end of the day, they pick up an extra ration of rice, beans and oil from the United States Agency for International Development, before beginning the uphill climb home.

    Carlos Cardenas, director of Save the Children in Guatemala, says it is going to take much larger structural change here to reach all of the families who need help.

    CARLOS CARDENAS, Director, Save the Children, Guatemala: Guatemala has the largest GDP in Central America, still has the worst indicators in chronic malnutrition. So how do you explain that?

    So it’s not necessarily just economics. It’s not just necessarily poverty. It’s a combination of a number of other things that add up to make this a very, very complex scenario.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Among the biggest complexities, the agricultural paradox. The Guatemalan countryside is overflowing with fresh vegetables, but very little of those vegetables make it into local homes.

    We’re standing in this incredibly lush valley. There’s lettuce at our feet. There’s string beans, there’s cabbage. All of this food here, how can Guatemalan kids be malnourished?

    ROGER THUROW: It’s one of the remarkable paradoxes of this country, one of the sad paradoxes, that there is so much nutritious food that is growing here that you can see, that you can walk through.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Where does all this stuff that’s growing around us go?

    ROGER THUROW: People will come by in trucks. They will — the farmers will harvest it. They will load it onto the trucks, and then it’s off to export markets in the United States, in Europe, elsewhere in Central America. And very little of it stays here.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Maria Pillar is the mother of 5-month-old Blanca. She carries Blanca on her back as she weeds fields of peas by hand.

    When we asked Pillar if she would keep some of this fresh food for herself or to better nourish her baby through her breast milk, she said, no, she prefers corn and beans.

    The deep roots of the problem have led many to believe that the answer is not in the countryside at all, but rather with the government in the capital. In 2012, President Otto Perez Molina launched an effort to reduce childhood chronic malnutrition by 10 percent in the next few years.

    Among Perez Molina’s chief aims for the zero hunger campaign was more spending on health services, particularly surrounding the first 1,000 days, and a greater emphasis on education.

    So we’re here in the middle of Guatemala City. Compared to the highlands, how are they tackling malnutrition here?

    ROGER THUROW: You know, I think a big part is just a growing awareness. Two years ago, if we were standing in this square in the center of Guatemala City, and we asked people that were walking by about it, they would really have no concept about malnutrition is, the impact in the country.

    But now it’s a fairly accepted notion that it’s a really crucial issue that the country has to deal with. And when you’re here and you look around the hubbub of the city and the cars going around and the billboards and the skyscrapers and kind of the activity of life here, it’s, like, my goodness, is that a different world? Is it the same — is it actually the same country?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, there’s like two Guatemalas.

    ROGER THUROW: Exactly. But what has happened, I think, with the zero hunger program and this awareness of the malnutrition, this — this frontal attack on malnutrition and hunger, it’s bringing these two worlds together.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: There are some here who say poverty is the overarching problem, that widespread malnutrition won’t be solved until a list of cultural and economic concerns are addressed first.

    But Luis Enrique Monterroso disagrees. He’s Guatemala’s minister of food security and nutrition.

    LUIS ENRIQUE MONTERROSO, Minister of Food Security and Nutrition, Guatemala (through interpreter): Guatemala focused many years on poverty, thinking that, if there was work on that area, it would reduce malnutrition. And it didn’t work. What we are doing here is logical interventions that are proven to reduce malnutrition. In that way, we can reduce poverty in the long run.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: One of the most successful portions of the campaign was when hundreds of government officials and business leaders each spent a night in the homes of the rural poor. It’s an experience these captains of industry still discuss when they meet on the 18th floor of Alvaro Castillo’s company headquarters in downtown Guatemala City.

    They say they have a vested interest in the topic. Each day, the problem costs Guatemala $8.4 million in lost productivity, increased hospitalization and academic setbacks.

    ALVARO CASTILLO M., Director, Alliance for Nutrition (through interpreter): We reached the agreement that a country could not be competitive if its human capital was malnourished since childhood. How could we let this happen in our country? We have to do something.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, you are going to keep the pressure on whoever becomes president?

    ALVARO CASTILLO M. (through interpreter): It doesn’t matter if it’s zero hunger as a name, but everybody has to be committed to giving the problem of malnutrition the attention it deserves.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But even if they succeed, the change won’t come fast enough for Maria Chamile and baby Lydia. Just back from Save the Children center, Chamile’s head is full of information on what she should be feeding and what she wants to be feeding her, fresh vegetables, goat milk, maybe some chicken.

    But the fact is, she can’t. So Lydia will eat beans and local herbs tonight, just like everyone else in the family. And her mother will keep hoping for more.

    GWEN IFILL: Online, you can track child mortality rates around the world, learn more about Guatemala’s efforts to reduce malnutrition, and view Hari’s postcards from the field. That’s all on our Health page.

    The post Widespread childhood malnutrition is a paradox in agriculturally rich Guatemala appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    climatechange

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: new estimates on the cost of climate change and the attention it’s drawing about the potential economic effect in the U.S.

    For years, reports on climate change have largely been the province of scientists. But a new group of business and political leaders is now trying to focus on the costs.

    Called the Risky Business Project, the nonpartisan effort is led by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, a Republican, and billionaire financier and Democratic donor Tom Steyer. The group warned Tuesday that if carbon dioxide levels continue rising at their current pace, between $66 billion and $106 billion worth of U.S. coastal property will likely be below sea level by 2050, days with temperatures exceeding 95 degrees may triple, and farm production could drop 14 percent.

    In a video statement, Bloomberg says it’s time to change course.

    FMR. MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, I, New York City: If you invest in real estate, commodities, municipal or corporate bonds, these risks matter to you. Unless we get serious about managing the risk of climate change, we’re likely to see more severe losses in the future.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The group calls for a comprehensive response, but makes no specific recommendations.

    Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson joins me now. Thank you for being with us.

    HENRY PAULSON, Former Secretary of the Treasury: Judy, it’s good to be here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, this is an effort to focus on the economic impact of climate change, rather than the effect on human health. Why?

    HENRY PAULSON: Well, absolutely.

    There’s been a lot of work that’s been done in the past on the environment and the huge risks that climate pose to the way of life as we lead it here on this planet and so on.

    But this is the first serious look on an industry-sector-by-industry-sector basis, region-by-region basis to try to quantify the economic impacts, because those are every bit as real as the environmental impacts.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So we just heard about some of the data that you — that’s in this report. But let’s try to get a clearer understanding. I mean, when it comes to the coastal areas of the United States, when it comes to temperature change in the center of the country, what are you finding?

    HENRY PAULSON: Well, Judy, first of all, we look at the most likely cases. We look at best cases. We look at worst cases, because this is about insurance and taking out an insurance policy, so this is about understanding the risks and managing the risks.

    Now, what we see in some ways shouldn’t be surprising, because areas that are hardest-hit are the coastal areas. Let’s start with the coastal areas. You know, you look out even, you know, to just mid-century, you will have somewhere between $75 billion and $120 billion of infrastructure underwater.

    You know, so there’s serious damage there. I grew up on a farm in Illinois. And if you look at what we call the I-states, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, you know, they get hit pretty hard in terms of agriculture as the — as time moves on.

    If you look out, you know, 15, 25 years, agricultural production goes down 10 percent. If you go out farther, it goes dramatically down as these states which benefited from being a temperate zone become arid states and farming goes farther — farther north or to Canada.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And your concern is that these economic impacts have not really been focused on before now?

    HENRY PAULSON: Yes, it’s — that’s absolutely right, and because what you are going to increasingly see, and what we’re seeing right now, is that when Mother Nature acts, and you have these natural disasters, whether they’re tornadoes or hurricanes like Sandy or floods or forest fires, that what happens is, the government comes in.

    That’s the role of government. People expect to government to come in. We all pay. These are big economic costs that go along with these. And what you find is, if you look at it carefully, if there was spending today, relatively small amounts of spending, to harden infrastructure, be smart about where you build plants, that we could avoid a fair amount of these costs.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk about that. I mean, one of the things you specifically have said you think should be done is a tax on carbon, a tax on companies that emit carbon dioxide.

    You have already acknowledged that members of your own Republican Party aren’t going to like this idea, so how do you persuade them that it’s the right thing to do?

    HENRY PAULSON: Judy, just to step back for one minute and make a huge point about this study, this study is bipartisan, Republicans, Democrats…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    HENRY PAULSON: … Treasury Secretary George Shultz, Bob Rubin, et cetera.

    So what we do is, we don’t focus on solutions in the study. I will get to me and the carbon tax in a minute. But — but we’re starting in the middle here. We’re — what we want to do is just understand the risks, use business-type methodologies, start a fact-based discussion on the science and on the economics. And I think that there are — I know many, many Republicans, CEOs of companies, political leaders that are ready for a fact-based discussion.

    Now, in terms of the carbon tax, which is a fee on — you know, that companies pay that emit carbon, this is, I think, the most efficient way to change the behaviors and creates incentives for new clean energy technologies.

    But the reason I am suggesting that is because, as you look at these risks, you see that some of the risks — you know, some of the costs are already baked in.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But in terms of the carbon tax, there’s already pushback from conservatives. You’re not surprised to hear that. They are saying, first of all, they don’t believe the climate change threat is as serious as you say it is. And, secondarily, they say a tax is the last thing Americans need, another levy on business owners.

    HENRY PAULSON: Right.

    And that was why the tax proposal was one I made in an op-ed I wrote. In terms of this study, the study is going to be one that’s a lot harder to attack. And I think that people are going to welcome it, because it’s very rigorous. We look at best cases. We look at worst cases. We use very standard business risk analysis methodology.

    And, so, one of the things we’re calling on — and we’re focused on business here. And there’s three things that I think businesses need to do. And, first, when they make investments, they need to, I think, be very conscious of the climate risks, in terms of the kinds of facilities they build, where they build them, and because these are long-term investments and it makes a — it makes a big difference.

    Secondly, I think investors need to call on businesses. And businesses, in my judgment, need to start making disclosures of the CO2 emissions, of where they’re — you know, possibly stranded assets, so that investors can look at these risks, and I would like to see the SEC do something there. And, then, thirdly…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Securities and Exchange Commission.

    HENRY PAULSON: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s the government proposal again.

    HENRY PAULSON: Yes, in terms of requiring that, because that, again, would really start a very serious discussion about this.

    And then, thirdly, working on policies that will help us avoid these really adverse risks. So, when I say to people, and they say, well, we don’t — why should we do something so dramatically? We want more facts. And I’m saying that’s radical risk-taking, taking this cautious approach, because if you wait until you have all the facts, it will be too late.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But my question is that if a group like this that believes that climate change is coming and is very serious can’t come together on a group — a set of solutions, how do you expect policy-makers and others to come together on solutions?

    HENRY PAULSON: Well, we didn’t try to come together on solutions. That wasn’t even a thought. The idea was, let’s come together and really put facts out there.

    I bet you would find everybody in this group, although we may differ to a degree, everyone would like to see strong action. I’m not saying this is going to bring everybody to the table or that this is going to solve the issue. But business executives play a significant role. And if you get leadership from them, and they’re talking seriously about it, and they’re taking the kinds of steps they need to take, this will be — this will advance the discussion, and I think make it easier for, you know, federal government to do some of the things they need to do, and harder not to.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, getting the debate started, thank you very much.

    HENRY PAULSON: Thank you.

    The post Former treasury secretary urges business world to heed climate change risks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A saline solution shortage has U.S. hospitals on edge. Photo by Wikimedia user Matanya

    A saline solution shortage has U.S. hospitals on edge. Photo by Wikimedia user Matanya

    Hospitals across the country are struggling to deal with a shortage of one of their essential medical supplies. Manufacturers are rationing saline — a product used all over the hospital to clean wounds, mix medications and treat dehydration. Now drug companies say they won’t be able to catch up with demand until next year.

    That leaves San Francisco General Hospital’s materials manager, Reid Kennedy, in a fix. Kennedy is in charge of managing all the gloves, bandages, bedpans and IV solutions for all the medical floors, emergency room and operating room.

    He first got a call last year from his vendor telling him they might not be able to deliver his full order.

    “We were put on notice that it was going to be tight,” he said.

    Then things got worse in January. The flu season hit much harder than expected, and sick people flooded into hospitals. Saline bags flew off the shelves to treat dehydration, and demand far outstripped supply.

    “The flu season knocked us out as an industry,” Kennedy said. Though hospital administrators say the shortage hasn’t affected the quality of patient care, Kennedy uses the word “crisis” to describe the shortage.

    It’s Harder to Make Than You Think

    But can salty water really be that hard to come by? Kennedy pays $1.57 per bag. Why can’t drug companies just whip up some more?

    “To make one of these drugs is very complex, even though the drug itself is simple,” said Valerie Jensen, the director of the drug shortage program at the Food and Drug Administration. “It takes about three weeks to make one batch of normal saline from start to finish.”

    She says the key challenge is making sure saline products are sterile. More than 30 steps and a range of supplies are involved in producing sterile saline. Jensen says FDA inspectors have reason to keep a close eye on any drug injected intravenously. She says they’ve found some nasty things in IV drugs: bacteria, mold, glass particles.

    “These are issues that absolutely would be a safety risk for patients,” she said.

    That’s why the FDA sets strict quality standards for the facilities that manufacture saline and other IV drugs. But the agency has to find a delicate balance between safety and supply.

    “A lot of variables came together to create this,” said Scott Crandall, director of medical supply contracts at Novation, a group buying organization in Texas that manages contracts for San Francisco General and 2,000 other hospitals across the country. He’s been hearing from manufacturers that increased FDA scrutiny is interfering with drug production.

    “During the last year, all suppliers had issues in their facilities where they had to correct certain things the FDA found,” Crandall said.

    Some of those corrections were serious. Hospira, one manufacturer of saline, issued a recall earlier this year because of leaks in its saline bags. Before that, Baxter, another manufacturer, found particles in its saline vials and had to recall four lots. Both companies say the recalls had no bearing on the current shortage.

    Flu Season Causes Headaches

    But Crandall says inspections and maintenance require shutting down machines. And when machines aren’t operating, less saline is getting shipped. Last winter, he says maintenance closures “slowed production down, 10 to 20 percent.”

    So the industry was already behind when the flu season hit.

    The procurement director for a group of dialysis centers says his supplier, Baxter, told him the main problem was winter weather. Snow and ice storms in the Midwest were delaying trucks headed for California.

    “As the weather got worse, we began to see more and more back-order issues,” said Colin Carthen of Satellite Healthcare, which runs 70 dialysis centers across the U.S. Each patient comes in three or four times a week, and each time goes through one to two liters of saline to clean the blood and prevent clotting. At the worst of the shortage, Carthen realized the health of 6,000 patients depended on the administrative magic tricks he could perform behind the scenes.

    “I called up a clinical person that I knew, and said, ‘Well, what happens if we run out of saline?’ Because I was really afraid,” he remembers. “And they were just like, ‘Yeah, it gets ugly, fast.’”

    Carthen says he’s lucky that didn’t happen. Every day, he spent hours on the phone with suppliers and clinical staff, juggling and rerouting supplies so everyone had enough.

    Keeping the Supply from Drying Up

    Hospitals have developed new clinical protocols to conserve supplies during the shortage. Nurses at San Francisco General are using smaller saline bags when possible, and transitioning patients who still need hydration to drink water from cups a little sooner than they did in the past. Kennedy has spent hours talking with pharmaceutical and clinical staff about when to use these conservation measures, to make sure there is enough saline to go around.

    “Pie is a good analogy. Now I’m going to use 16 slices of pie instead of eight slices of pie, and I’ll be able to feed 16 people instead of eight,” he said.

    The FDA is trying to mitigate the shortage by importing saline from Spain and Norway. But FDA economist Marta Wosinska says that’s not a sustainable solution, since those countries have to supply their own hospitals.

    “There is no spot market. You can’t buy it like pork bellies or grains or oil. You cannot go on a marketplace and order a certain amount,” she said.

    U.S. companies also don’t have the capacity to ramp up production. They only have so many machines, and a lot of them are tied up producing other essential drugs. Building new facilities is hardly an option.

    “We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars and it would take three to five years,” Wosinska said.

    The drug companies don’t face any real penalties if they don’t come through with saline supplies. Contract loopholes release them from paying any fees to their customers if a drug shortage is industry-wide, as this one is.

    Both Baxter and Hospira, the top two saline producers in the country, say they are doing all they can to maximize production. Each points a finger at the other for contributing to the shortage.

    “We saw increased demand amid decreased product availability from competitors as the main driver,” a Baxter spokesman wrote in an email.

    A Hospira spokesman countered: “Hospira began seeing stronger demand for its saline products in late 2013 when another manufacturer began to experience manufacturing issues.”

    Hospira reported a 20 percent increase in U.S. net sales of its injectable drugs between January and March, citing “increased volume due to competitor supply issues,” in its latest quarterly financial report.

    “The Most Expensive Drug Shortage in History”

    The burden ultimately falls on hospitals, clinics, and dialysis centers to come up with their own workarounds. And all that staff time adds up. Hospitals spend $216 million a year on the labor costs of managing drug shortages, according to Erin Fox, a professor at the University of Utah College of Pharmacy.

    Now that the industry has indicated the saline shortage will extend through the end of the year, Fox estimates this will be the most expensive drug shortage in history.

    “IV fluids impact almost every single patient and every single floor. That means you have to educate and get a message out to multiple groups of people rather than a selected group, like for an anesthesia drug or a cancer drug,” Fox said.

    For now, the actual cost of saline is steady. Hospitals are protected under contracts that keep prices locked through next year. But Novation’s Scott Crandall says that is very likely to change when those contracts expire.

    “The suppliers have already signaled to the market that they plan on increasing price significantly,” he said. “And when I say that, it could double and triple in some aspects.”

    Fox says that would be far better than the current situation.

    “It is far cheaper for hospitals to pay $3 a bag for saline and have a consistent and quality product — not recalled due to contaminants, or leakage,” she said, “than it is to potentially delay elective surgeries or make workarounds that change weekly or daily due to inconsistent supply.”

    The post Saline shortages create troubles for U.S. hospitals appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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