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

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    Nearly a century ago, some 1 million lions roamed the wild across Africa and Asia.

    Today, due to a combination of poaching, disease and habitat loss, the species is teetering on the brink of extinction, numbering about 30,000, according to a conservation group called Panthera.

    In light of the shrinking population and in the spirit of awareness and conservation efforts around the globe, Sunday is World Lion Day.

    “It is these beasts that shape our history and cultures worldwide,” the campaign posted on its Facebook page, noting that “on the plains of Africa and in the forests of India, the lions of flesh and blood are vanishing, leaving our world with only those of marble and bronze.”

    In an article for National Geographic, conservationist and filmmaker Dereck Joubert wrote, “There have never been as few lions on the planet since 3.5 million years ago, when we think that lions evolved from the early saber-toothed cats.”  

    In 1950, there were about 400,000 lions across the continent of Africa. Less than two decades later, the species’ population dropped by nearly half to 250,000.

    In West Africa, where there are about 400 lions, a study by a conservation group in January said action was needed if the lion is to avoid extinction.

    In 1907, there were an estimated 13 lions left on the entire continent of Asia, according to the World Lion Day website. But conservation efforts in recent decades, including the banning of hunting lions in 1975, have replenished the population to more than 400 today. 

    “The lion is an enduring symbol across the nations and has fascinated man throughout the millennia,” World Lion Day posted. “To lose such a species would be to lose a significant part of our global heritage.”

    The post On World Lion Day, a call to action to save ‘our global heritage’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    kurdistan

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: For more about this we are joined once again tonight from Washington by Douglas Ollivant. He is a Senior and National Securities Studies Fellow at the New America Foundation and a partner at Mantid International.

    So this might be a semantic question, we’ve referred to them as militants, as fighters, as jihadists, but considering some of the brutality that we are hearing reports of essentially burying people alive in mass graves and indiscriminately shooting them, it seems that these people are different.

    DOUGLAS OLLIVANT: They are different. They are Islamist terrorists, they are Islamic fighters, but there is this core brutality to them, their tactics, their terror, the destruction of cultural heritage, the rape, the slave markets we hear, the burying alive.

    We haven’t heard any stories of crucifixions in Iraq but certainly we’ve seen it in Syria by this group. The Islamic State of Iraq in Syria, or ISIL or the Islamic State, whatever you prefer to call them, they are something very different than what we’ve seen before.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And they’ve been very clear about exactly who they want to target and even the geographic area of what they want, I mean, this is the caliphate and empire that they want to resurrect.

    DOUGLAS OLLIVANT: Right, well they declared the Islamic State a few weeks ago so now evidently they think they rule all Muslim areas from the west end of East Africa and Spain all the way to Indonesia.

    But even before that they were the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and when you look at a map of the Levant, they’re very clear: they want Jordan, they want Lebanon, they want Israel, the northern part of Saudi Arabia, the southern part of Turkey. They’re very clear about their war aims.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And you know the French foreign minister had a quote that was in the press release he said “We’re not fighting a terrorist organization we’re fighting a terrorist state.” So does that change how the international community responds to this?

    DOUGLAS OLLIVANT: I think it absolutely has to, that’s absolutely right. This is no longer a terrorist safe haven within a state, it’s a de facto state that is a terrorist safe haven.

    And again, given the brutality of this group and their clear, long-term aims, we do need to take this seriously. Now right now they’re focused on what they call the near enemy–the Maliki and the Assad regimes but this turn up to the Kurds in the northeast demonstrates that that’s not all they’re focused on.

    Today it was Kurdistan, if I were Jordan or Lebanon, I’d be very concerned.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s say even if the politicians are able to agree in Baghdad what’s to keep the forces on the ground from turning away and running like they did in the North in previous occasions.

    DOUGLAS OLLIVANT: Well, one I think now they’ve seen what ISIL is and the threat it represents to their country so hopefully that puts some more backbone into the forces. We still don’t entirely understand what happened in the North, some combination of infiltration, desertions, ghost soldiers, lots of corruption, poor leadership, lots of things happened in the dissolving of the forces in the North.

    What we can hope for now is more reliable units to come from the South from the Iraqi Army, for the Peshmerga to come from the Northeast, a more reliable force though perhaps not as reliable as we once hoped that may be because of lack of ammunition and weapons, and for the Sunnis themselves to essentially act as a fifth column on behalf of the Iraqi government inside these areas that are going to be the battlegrounds as some fierce fighting will have to take place in Mosul, Fallujah and other cities if the Iraqis are going to retake this land from the Islamic State.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And where do the Kurds or the Peshmerga get that reinforcement or ammunition if they are to launch a fight?

    DOUGLAS OLLIVANT: They’re going to have to cut a deal with Baghdad.

    It’s very, very difficult to arm the Peshmerga directly, for the United States to do that, because our laws as I understand them don’t allow us to give military equipment to a sub-state group it has to come through a state and go to their Ministry of Defense or Interior.

    So Baghdad will have to play a crucial role in facilitating the arming of the Kurds. Fortunately, it looks like they see that may well be in their interest.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Alright, Douglas Ollivant joining us from Washington, thanks so much.

    DOUGLAS OLLIVANT: Thanks so much, Hari.

    The post Beyond Iraq, what’s next for the Islamic State? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Illustration by Getty Images

    Watch Video

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A story published earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal got our attention. It described a Gallup poll measuring how student loan debts undermine the happiness and well-being of borrowers years after they graduate college.

    Yesterday, I interviewed the author of the piece, Douglas Belkin, who joined us from Chicago. I began asking him how Gallup defined well-being.

    DOUG BELKIN: Gallup came up with this well-being index thirty years ago and they have a series of questions that looks at sense of purpose in life, whether or not you are connected to your job, how well you feel physically, if you have a lot of energy, if you’re connected to your community, if you have good social relationships, a lot of soft qualitative questions like that.

    Then they asked them and they correlated with how much debt you have and they did this for, they asked thirty thousand college graduates these questions in March and it turns out that even twenty-five years after you’ve graduated the more debt you carry when you graduated the more poorly you scored on those questions later on.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So these people said that they felt what, less physically fit, less connected to their job, their family, how bad is it?

    DOUG BELKIN: It’s worse than you think. The interesting part about this to me was that it carries on so much longer. The real question is why I think.

    But you’re talking about a difference of fifteen points in terms of the number of people the percentage of people who feel physically fit for instance or have a purpose in their job so folks don’t have a strong answer for what exactly is happening, except that if you get out of school and you owe a whole lot of money your choices are going to be limited.

    So, maybe you owe five or six hundred bucks a month when you graduate school and you want to get a job in the helping services or helping people but you’re drawn toward a job that pays better that you like less. These sort of things influence decisions you know for years.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there a tipping point number of student debt that makes people feel worse? Is it twenty-five thousand dollars, is it fifty thousand dollars?

    DOUG BELKIN: Around twenty-five thousand dollars the numbers start to look a little bit bleaker. The average debt right now for a graduate of college is thirty-three thousand, a little more than thirty thousand dollars and that’s for the seventy-odd percent of kids, who graduate with debt.

    This survey looked at college graduates for decades, because people who graduated before 1990 took out so little debt, this survey looked at just at 1990 forward.

    Right now the numbers that were worse at fifty thousand dollars, plus, thirty-three-six for where kids are graduating now has almost doubled in ten years and it’s probably going to hit fifty thousand eventually.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s talk a little bit about correlation versus causation. These are subjective answers that these people are giving, what about the possibility that the people who didn’t take out debt were maybe wealthier and happier to start with?

    DOUG BELKIN: Yes, it’s entirely possible. This survey doesn’t look at that, it can’t look at that, it isn’t known if it is causal or correlational, whether or not you’re happier if you’re just more engaged in life, if you’re more upbeat, you do better these things carry on, it’s not clear if that’s because, it’s not clear how that stands later on in life.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What about the idea of the things that the debt might compromise in your life? If you have a huge student debt maybe you are putting off buying a house or another major purchase and maybe that gives you some sort of tension ten years, fifteen years down the line.

    DOUG BELKIN: Yes, so, if you have big debt and you can’t save up for a house, right now kids who are graduating are putting off buying houses much longer than they were a decade or two ago and they’re putting off marriage and children as well.

    Furthermore, if you may pay off the debt and you may get into a house but you didn’t start saving up for retirement because you were focused on trying to pay off your debt, so that adds financial stress to you, to your life, even into your forties and fifties

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, is there a takeaway lesson here? Let’s say I’m a parent of a child about to go to college, or about to entire college myself, is there some way that I should structure my debt thinking forward and saying this might make me more or less happy?

    DOUG BELKIN: I think it goes, it’s an antecedent to structuring your debt, it’s how you structure your college experience. Twenty years ago the conventional wisdom was you take out as much debt as you need or you go to the best school you got into and that’s sort of where the thinking stopped.

    Now it’s more about how you go to college, so what this survey has found is that if you are connected to a professor, if you have a mentor at school, if you sort of have experiential learning in school, you’re much more engaged in work as you go.

    So, how you go to school, what you do while you’re there is as important or more important than where you go to school, there is no relationship to being much more happy in life or engaged in work, according to the prestige of the school that you went to.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Alright, Doug Belkin of the Wall Street Journal, thanks so much.

    DOUG BELKIN: Thanks very much.

    The post Poll: Student loan debt cripples graduate happiness appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among the U.S. military. Three studies look at how past trauma influences those suicide rates. Photo by Karen Gleier/Getty Images

    Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among the U.S. military. Three studies look at how past trauma influences those suicide rates. Photo by Karen Gleier/Getty Images

    Military members who experience trauma prior to enlisting are more at risk for suicide than those who have not, according to three studies released this week.

    The studies, presented at an American Psychological Association convention in Washington, D.C., explored the connection between premilitary suicide attemptssexual abuse and the risk for future suicidal behavior, the second-leading cause of death among U.S. military personnel, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

    Soldiers who reported childhood abuse were three to eight times more likely to report suicidal behavior, said one study conducted by the National Center for Veterans’ Studies at the University of Utah. 

    “Experiencing abuse early in life in the home may lead to a tendency to perceive and experience stressful events as catastrophic and insurmountable,” said the study’s author James Griffith, Ph.D., in an APA statement.

    “A child experiencing abuse has little opportunity to effectively cope when stressed, being in a powerless position with no recourse,” Griffith said. “This may lead to less ability to handle future stressful circumstances.”

    Griffith analyzed data from surveys completed in 2010 by 12,567 soldiers in the Army National Guard, which saw an uptick in suicide by its members — even when overall military suicides dropped by 15 percent in 2013.

    In the study, Griffith found that the initial rates of suicide were highest among groups engaged in ground combat and were attributed to the stress of fighting.

    The post Study: Past trauma increases risk of suicide among U.S. military members appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    What if a website could spot a global health crisis before health researchers could? 

    One may be up to the challenge.

    HealthMap is an open-source network that is constantly collecting  information from news reports, health officials, social media and governments around the world to deliver real-time intelligence on a broad range of emerging infectious diseases.

    The site, which has been around since 2006, actually pinpointed early signals that helped the World Health Organization determine the West Africa Ebola virus outbreak was occurring. 

    “In many parts of the world, we’re dealing with limited public health infrastructure, so in many cases, some the information coming from these social networks, from local news stories is the first time that we know about an event that’s unfolding,” HealthMap co-founder John Brownstein said. And so these sources, what we call “informal surveillance,” are actually helping us understand events on the ground very early on — sometimes earlier than public health can identify these things.”

    Watch NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan’s full interview with HealthMap co-founders Clark Freifeld and John Brownstein below. 

    With the aggregated content passed on to libraries, local health departments and international travelers, Brownstein and fellow co-founder Clark Freifeld hope that HealthMap can lead to better response and management of future health crises.

    “Our goal is to give governments and epidemiologists the most accurate and exact information as early as possible, so governments can respond better to infectious diseases,” Brownstein said.

    To see health alerts in your area, see the site’s outbreak map here.

    The post How mapping the Ebola outbreak may ease future health crises appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Wikimedia user Moritz Wickendorf

    Photo by Wikimedia user Moritz Wickendorf

    An Israeli-based counterfeiting ring produced and circulated over $77 million of mostly fake $100 bills for more than a decade without being discovered, until now.

    During the 1990s, Bloomberg reported, ringleaders Itzhak Loz and Ronin Fakiro were able to develop over 17 different $100 bills that were so well manufactured that “they were often discovered only after they reached a bank or the Federal Reserve.” The sophistication of the technology that the ring possessed was second-to-none; mimicking the many nuances of modern U.S currency.

    For law enforcement this was a unique case, due to the printing presses’ ability to emulate or closely recreate the detailed security features of U.S. currency, including the $100 bill’s 3-D security ribbon. “When a bill’s so good that it’s not discovered until it’s in the banking system that separates the passing of the note to its detection,” said Secret Service Director Julia Pierson. “It allows these people to operate more anonymously.”

    The operation that led to the successful discovery of the ring began in May 2012. Secret Service agent Adam Raab discovered four of the fake bills attempting to be passed in a Northern Virginia Loan Max. Through an investigation, the agency was able to track down the suspect and convinced him to locate his supplier.

    After a two year investigation, the Federal authorities discovered that much of the operation had moved to a New Jersey printing plant where they were able to seize over $2.5 million worth of counterfeit bills, while arresting both Loz and Fakiro at the site. “It’s rare to see that here in the United States,” said Special Agent Ed Lowery, who helped lead the investigation. “I mean you hear about it in training. We see them overseas. But not here.”

    The post Secret Service brings down decade-old counterfeit ring appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user Aranami

    Photo by Flickr user Aranami

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service lost $2 billion this spring despite increasing its volume and charging consumers more money to send mail, officials said Monday.

    The loss for the spring quarter, which ended June 30, was significantly higher than the $740 million loss for the same three-month period last year. The agency blamed increases in compensation and benefit costs for the red ink and said it would be unable to make a congressionally mandated payment of $5.7 billion this September for health benefits for future retirees. The loss came despite a 2 percent increase in operating revenue compared to last spring.

    “Due to continued losses and low levels of liquidity, we’ve been extremely conservative with our capital, spending only what is deemed essential to maintain existing infrastructure,” said Joseph Corbett, the Postal Service’s chief financial officer.

    The Postal Service is an independent agency that receives no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control. It has asked to end most Saturday deliveries, a request that is languishing in Congress amid opposition by postal unions. The agency also is seeking to eliminate the congressionally mandated $5.7 billion annual payment for future retiree health benefits.

    Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, agrees that Congress should get rid of the 2006 mandated payment but says it would be “irresponsible to degrade services to Americans and their businesses” just as postal delivery is rebounding with the economy. Because more people are shopping online, “the Internet is now a net positive for USPS, auguring well for the future as e-commerce grows,” Rolando said in a statement.

    The Postal Service has defaulted before on federally mandated annual payments to cover expected health care costs for future retirees. Corbett said the agency also needs $10 billion to replace old vehicles, buy new package sorting equipment and make other infrastructure upgrades.

    Other findings from the latest quarterly report compared to the same time period last year:

    • Shipping and package revenue was up 6.6 percent, while standard mail revenue increased 5.1 percent. The increase was attributed both to higher volume and prices charged to consumers.
    • First-Class mail volume declined by 1.4 percent, but revenue climbed 3.2 percent because of price increases.
    • Operating revenue increased by $327 million to $16.5 billion.
    • Operating expenses increased by $1.5 billion to $18.4 billion.

    The post U.S. Postal Service announces $2 billion spring loss appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Lt. Sean Flood, Ranger Deb McNamara, Ranger Ted Fusco and Capt. Stephen Owens, who help provide security at the Massachusetts State House, participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Aug. 7. Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

    Lt. Sean Flood, Ranger Deb McNamara, Ranger Ted Fusco and Capt. Stephen Owens, who help provide security at the Massachusetts State House, participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Aug. 7. Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

    Scores of people are filming themselves dumping buckets of ice on their heads, posting the video to Facebook or Twitter, then challenging their friends to do so, too. The chilly action is intended to raise awareness of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

    Over the weekend, even 86-year-old Ethel Kennedy, widow of Robert F. Kennedy, got in on the action, challenging President Obama from her Hyannis Port, Massachusetts compound. He is set to vacation on the island this week. “Welcome to Cape Cod, Mr. President. I nominate you,” she said, after dousing herself with 19 family members.

    So far, the campaign has raised $168,000, a jump in the $14,000 raised during the same 10-day period last year, according to ALS Association estimates. Started by Boston College baseball player Pete Frates several months ago, the movement has gone viral with the hashtag #icebucketchallenge or #StrikeoutALS. Frates was diagnosed in 2012, and has since become paralyzed, only able to eat through a tube.

    “It just proves the goodness of human beings and the power of people. The power of positivity,” John Frates, Pete’s dad, told ABC Boston. “All we needed, really, was a bucket and a bag of ice to create all the awareness we ever needed.”

    Matt Lauer of NBC’s Today Show helped propel the movement in mid-July when he was the recipient of an ice bucket himself on-air, and then challenged Martha Stewart, who accepted.

    The post What’s the deal with the ALS ice bucket challenge? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Obama spoke about political developments in Iraq on Friday.

    Updated at 5:35 p.m. EDT

    CHILMARK, Mass. — President Obama is giving his approval to the appointment of a prime minister to replace Nouri al-Maliki and urging the formation of a new government in Iraq as soon as possible.

    In brief remarks delivered at his vacation spot in Martha’s Vineyard, Obama said he and Vice President Joe Biden had spoken with Haider al-Ibadi, who was designated prime minister by the new president.

    Obama also said the United States had successfully carried out targeted air strikes to support Kurdish fighters in their battle against Islamist extremists, and conducted humanitarian relief missions to aid thousands of stranded women and children on a mountain in Iraq.

    He said the only lasting solution in Iraq is the formation of an inclusive government.

    The post Obama calls for new Iraqi government appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    South Korean Kim Sa-Moon (left) meets with her North Korean older sister Kim Tae-Un, 78, during a family reunion after being separated for 60 years on Feb. 23 in Mount Kumgang, North Korea. Photo by Yoon Dong-Ju-Korea Pool/Getty Images

    South Korean Kim Sa-Moon (left) meets with her North Korean older sister Kim Tae-Un, 78, during a family reunion after being separated for 60 years on Feb. 23 in Mount Kumgang, North Korea. Photo by Yoon Dong-Ju-Korea Pool/Getty Images

    South Korea on Monday proposed a second high-level meeting this year with North Korea to discuss arranging another reunion for the separated elderly in the Koreas.

    South Korea suggested holding the talks on Aug. 19 at the same village on the border where both countries signed the armistice to put a hold on the Korean War six decades ago.

    According to the New York Times, South Korea hopes to arrange the new round of reunions in time for the South Korean Thanksgiving holiday around the beginning of September. The last tearful reunion held in February at the South-North Korean border was the first in three years.

    Seoul also pledged $13.3 million in humanitarian donations to North Korea on Monday, the Times reported. The money will go to the World Food Program and the World Health Organization to provide nutrients and health services to impoverished mothers and infant care in North Korea. There are currently about 2.4 million people in need of regular food assistance in North Korea, with 28 percent of children under the age of five suffering chronic malnutrition, according to the United Nations.

    Despite the increased interaction between the two Koreas this year, there are still high tensions and hostility fueled by North’s missile tests, the dispute over the Yellow Sea maritime boundary and the North’s demand for Seoul to halt the regular military drills with the U.S. military.

    North Korea has not yet responded to the proposal.

    The post South Korea proposes new round of family reunions with North Korea appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newswrap

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    GWEN IFILL: A political storm is breaking in Baghdad. Efforts to form a government ran into strong opposition today from the sitting prime minister. That, in turn, prompted new warnings from Washington. It all follows an announcement that raised hopes for change.

    After months of political deadlock in Iraq, a potential breakthrough today. The new president, Fuad Masum, a Kurd, tapped Deputy Parliament Speaker Haider al-Abadi, a Shiite, to form a government and become prime minister.

    Abadi, who belongs to the same party as current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, quickly called for unity against a Sunni insurgency led by the Islamic State group.

    HAIDER AL-ABADI, Prime Minister – Designate, Iraq (through interpreter): I have confidence that, with the people and political blocs, we would be able to overcome this barbaric and savage attack on the Iraqi people and provide a good environment for the Iraqi people to live in.

    GWEN IFILL: But Maliki has spurned calls from the U.S. and other Shiites to step aside in favor of a less polarizing figure. Today, he deployed loyal security forces across Baghdad. And he insisted he is the only legal choice for prime minister because his party won a plurality in the April election.

    NOURI AL-MALIKI, Prime Minister, Iraq (through interpreter): We assure Iraqi people and the political groups that there is no importance or value to this nomination because it runs against constitutional procedures. We will not accept this violation of the constitution.

    GWEN IFILL: Vice President Biden and President Obama, interrupting his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, both called Abadi to congratulate him and called for a political solution.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This new Iraqi leadership has a difficult task. It has to regain the confidence of its citizens by governing inclusively and by taking steps to demonstrate its resolve.

    The United States stands ready to support a government that addresses the needs and grievances of all Iraqi people.

    GWEN IFILL: The political turmoil came amid a new American effort to stem the Islamic State’s surge in Northern Iraq. Senior U.S. officials said today the Obama administration, in concert with the central Baghdad government, is now directly providing weapons to Kurdish Peshmerga forces, who retook two towns near Irbil on Sunday.

    Meanwhile, U.S. airstrikes continued through the weekend. Speaking at the Pentagon today, Lieutenant General William Mayville cautioned the campaign, so far, is limited.

    LT. GEN. WILLIAM MAYVILLE, Operations Director, Joint Chiefs of Staff: Look, I think in the immediate areas where we have focused our strengths, we have had a very temporary effect. And so I in no way want to suggest that we have effectively contained or that we are somehow breaking the momentum of the threat.

    GWEN IFILL: The administration also announced it’s sending a disaster response team to Iraq to distribute humanitarian aid. Much of it will go to thousands of Yazidis, who’ve fled to the top of Sinjar Mountain to escape the militants.

    Already, the U.S. and Britain have airdropped thousands of gallons of water and hundreds of meals to the refugees.

    We will have more news and analysis on the situation in Iraq right after the news summary.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed indirect talks in Egypt today, as a new 72-hour cease-fire began. At the same time, Israel called for an international effort to provide relief to Gaza. It would be conditioned on the Palestinian Authority resuming control of Gaza, something Hamas is likely to reject.

    GWEN IFILL: Turkey’s president-elect, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, began working today on the next phase of consolidating power. On Sunday, the three-term prime minister won Turkey’s first direct presidential election. Now he needs a stronger majority in parliament to convert the presidency from a ceremonial post.

    Last night, in a victory speech, Erdogan struck a conciliatory tone toward his critics.

    PRESIDENT-ELECT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkey (through interpreter): Brothers, I say this from the heart. Let’s start a new social reconciliation period today, and let’s leave the old discussions in the old Turkey. Let’s leave tensions, culture of clashes and virtual problems in old Turkey.

    GWEN IFILL: Erdogan’s critics have charged he’s becoming increasingly autocratic and transformed Turkey from a secular to an increasingly religious state.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:
    The Russian government announced today that it’s sending a humanitarian aid convoy into Ukraine. The convoy would travel in cooperation with the International Red Cross. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced he’s agreed to the plan, after speaking with President Obama.

    Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen that there’s a high probability that the Russians actually plan military action.

    ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, Secretary-General, NATO: We see the Russians developing the narrative and the pretext for such an operation, under the guise of a humanitarian operation. And we see a military buildup that could be used to conduct such illegal military operations in Ukraine.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Ukrainian officials claimed that Russia has amassed even more troops on the border, some 45,000. Meanwhile, rockets slammed into a high-security prison in the rebel-held city of Donetsk, letting more than 100 prisoners escape. At the same time, Ukraine’s military declared it’s in the final stages of retaking the city.

    GWEN IFILL: Amnesty International is charging the U.S. military has not pursued troops who tortured or killed civilians in Afghanistan. The group reported that finding today based on data from 2009 to 2013.

    It concluded — quote — “In numerous cases in which there is credible evidence of unlawful killings of civilians, the military has failed to conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations.”

    The Pentagon denied ignoring civilian casualties.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Nigeria now has 10 confirmed cases of Ebola. The announcement today said two patients have died. All had been in contact with a Liberian who brought the virus in on a plane in late July. Meanwhile, in Charlotte, North Carolina, three missionaries have returned from West Africa after working with Ebola patients. They’re healthy, but will stay quarantined for at least three weeks as a precaution.

    GWEN IFILL: On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 16 points to close just short of 16,570; the Nasdaq rose 30 points to close at 4,401; and the S&P 500 added five to finish near 1,937.

    The post News Wrap: Iraq’s president taps Abadi to replace Maliki as prime minister appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    IRAQ-UNREST-SHIITES

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: We return now to the political and the military struggle at hand in Iraq.

    Brett McGurk is the deputy assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, where he focuses on Iraq.

    Thank you for joining us, Mr. Deputy Assistant Secretary.

    What role did the United States have in forcing Maliki’s hands? There are reports that you personally may have had a role in that.

    BRETT MCGURK, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State: I can assure you, Gwen, that those reports are not true.

    In 2010, I think we were — it was said that we somehow maneuvered Maliki into power. Now it’s being said we’re somehow maneuvering him out of power. The political dynamics in Iraq have really their own dynamic, which the Iraqis sort through very much on their own.

    We do play a very active facilitating role between all the political blocs. We encourage them, as does the United Nations and other partners in Baghdad, to try to keep to the constitutional timeline and keep things moving forward, because this is an extraordinarily complex and difficult situation, particularly on the security side, but also on the political side.

    It’s very complicated. And we serve as neutral brokers when useful. When we can provide an idea to bridge two different ideas or proposals, we certainly do that. But it’s not our job to pick who should be in power or who shouldn’t be in power.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, in your role as neutral brokers, are you persuaded that Mr. Abadi is going to be what the U.S. or any other person in the region, any other country in the region needs now for Iraq to get back on its feet?

    BRETT MCGURK: Well, he’s someone we have known for some time. And we have known all these leaders for some time.

    We have very deep relationships with a host of Iraqi leaders on — really on all sides. But, Gwen, I think it’s important to just focus on where we are in this process. The first — as the president just said in his statement, the first step was to choose a speaker of the parliament. And that happened about a month ago.

    And that set a 15-day timeline for naming the president of the state. And that took place on time. And that then set a new timeline for naming the prime minister. And that happened today. The prime minister-designate, Haider al-Abadi, now has 30 days to present a new cabinet and to present a national program to the parliament, and the parliament will have to ratify that cabinet and program.

    And if they do, Haider al-Abadi will then lead a full four-year-term government. But what happened today was, Haider al-Abadi was named the prime minister-designate. We have obviously embraced that decision because it is a very critical milestone in the process of forming a new government. And the Iraqis have been working very hard at this.

    And now over the next — over the coming days, he will begin the process of pulling together coalition partners and forming a new government. And we want that government to be broad-based, inclusive, and to develop a national program that can harness the resources of the state to pull the country together over the next four years. And if they do so, we will be a very willing partner.

    GWEN IFILL: That’s the political part of this equation. There is also a military part. We have heard of new airstrikes today. The Kurds are hoping that you expand those airstrikes.

    Can you imagine that being able to happen, that is, the U.S. stepping up its military action in the — in Iraq, as long — if Maliki were to continue what he’s doing now, which is trying to hold onto power? Can you imagine doing this with him there?

    BRETT MCGURK: Well, Gwen, on the security side, we’re focused — in terms of U.S. direct action, we are focused on two limited missions. One is the mission around Sinjar Mountain. And that is about breaking the siege of that mountain.

    And that is why we have been doing airstrikes there over the last four or five days, including another series of airstrikes that were conducted today from ISIS locations near the mountain who are threatening the civilian population that is under siege on that mountain.

    And, secondly, we’re committed to protecting the regional capital of Irbil. And we have done a number of airstrikes to make sure that ISIS forces cannot encroach on Irbil. And those strikes have also been quite successful.

    South of the Kurdistan region, we are focused with the Iraqis through — we have a joint operation center in Baghdad, which we set up in June, and we are working hard, in coordination with the Iraqis, about coordinating how they might begin to push back against ISIS, working with their Iraqi air force in terms of how they can do targeting.

    GWEN IFILL: But if I could interrupt you just for a moment, I guess my question is whether all that would still go on if Maliki stays in power.

    BRETT MCGURK: Well, Gwen, I don’t want to get ahead of the process. We just have a new prime minister-designate today. He has 30 days to form a new government. And we’re going to continue.

    But the — Prime Minister Maliki is still the prime minister of the state, and we’re going continue working closely with him over the next 30 days, obviously. And we will be working with all the leaders to pull together a new government. So there’s multiple strands here that we have to do — we have to kind of pull all of them at once.

    It’s a very complicated situation, obviously. But we’re focused on the ISIS threat from north to south. We are particularly focused on Baghdad. We’re focused on Anbar Province. We’re focused on Diyala Province. And in each front, there’s different dynamics and different elements.

    But we’re not going to slow down any of our support. But the president has said and he repeated again tonight, in the context of a new and inclusive government, we will be in a very active conversation with the leadership about what they need, and we will be prepared to come behind them if they have a plan to pull the country together and unite the country against — against this very serious threat.

    GWEN IFILL: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Brett McGurk, thank you for joining us.

    BRETT MCGURK: Thank you.

    GWEN IFILL: For more now, we turn now to Zalmay Khalilzad. He was U.S. ambassador to Iraq during the George W. Bush administration. He now has his own consulting firm. And Laith Kubba is senior director for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy.

    What can you tell us about Haider al-Abadi?

    ZALMAY KHALILZAD, Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq: I know Mr. al-Abadi.

    He was a member of parliament when I was in Baghdad. He has a very distinguished background. He was from Baghdadi family, a very well-known family. He’s a member of the Dawa Party, the party that Mr. Maliki also is a member of. But he spent a lot of time in the United Kingdom, got a Ph.D. there. And so he knows the West and may be more open to alternative ideas.

    He’s got a big and difficult task ahead, not only dealing with the challenge of Mr. Maliki, but also to bring Iraqis, Shia, Sunni, Kurds together, form a government in this very difficult and challenging time.

    GWEN IFILL: Laith Kubba, how — what can he accomplish that Nouri al-Maliki could not or cannot?

    LAITH KUBBA, National Endowment for Democracy: Well, number one, he is less threatening now to all other political blocs. They see him as less threatening because…

    GWEN IFILL: Even though he’s from the same party?

    LAITH KUBBA: He’s from the same party, but the party has been fragmented now a little bit.

    And Maliki has disowned him in a way. So that might play to his advantage. He has a weaker hand. But on the other hand, I think he is going to — he’s in a better position to negotiate with others.

    GWEN IFILL: As we just heard at the State Department, at least for the next 30 days, technically, Maliki is not going anywhere. And he says that this is all legally worthless, that he is still in power. Can this move forward as long as he continues to hold on?

    ZALMAY KHALILZAD: I think there is a potential for serious problems. But the more likely scenario, in my view, is that, during the 30 days, some sort of a deal will be worked out, where some of the concerns that Mr. Maliki may have about his own future might be addressed, whether it has to do with a possible position, whether it has to do with some form of immunity, protection.

    I would — I think while the risks of confrontation and perhaps the use of military, of security forces is there, and I think the president’s message today was loud and clear in support of Mr. al-Abadi, without mentioning Maliki, but the message actually was for Mr. Maliki.

    And I suspect that a lot of maneuvering going on in Baghdad and — will intensify to work out something between the two.

    GWEN IFILL: Laith Kubba, do you agree that this is just a deal waiting to be cut?

    LAITH KUBBA: I’m a bit cautious. I think Maliki surprised everybody in the way he’s been indifferent to the whole world around him and so fixated on power.

    I think the fact that the country is falling apart, bit sway of territory is under ISIS, Baghdad itself is under threat, yet Maliki is not thinking of the country, and he’s not thinking that the whole world has endorsed Mr. Abadi, and that all political blocs want to work with him, he’s indifferent to all that and insisting to play hard politics.

    To me, that is worrying. He has encouraged some militias to go out in the streets. With that mind-set, I think everybody is taken by surprise and worry, would he push it to the end?

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s assume for a moment that a deal can be cut, something can be agreed on, if not in the near future, then in the eventual future, and Mr. Abadi takes over.

    What can he do to form a workable government in a country that’s falling apart, Mr. Ambassador?

    ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Well, he will have to come to an agreement with the Kurds, which will be tough for him because the Kurds are demanding even more autonomy than they have under current circumstances.

    They want essentially to replace the federal system to a confederal system, essentially to be sovereign, but in some form of association with Baghdad, so that they can control their own oil exports, they can get weapons for their own forces, they can control their own airspace.

    So it’s a tough one to do without losing ground internally for him. And with the Sunnis, similarly, he will have to agree to a devolution of authority away from the center to the provinces. The Sunnis want a region like Kurdistan of their own or several regions, again, to have their own forces for local security.

    And to bring the Sunnis and the Kurds together with him, given the demands that are there, this is going to be a tall order, a difficult challenge for him, and then to mobilize everybody against ISIS, which is knocking at the door. He’s going to have one of the world’s toughest jobs.

    GWEN IFILL: A tall order, sounds like it. How do you see it working, Laith Kubba?

    LAITH KUBBA: It is a tall order and it’s very tough.

    I think, in addition to trying to contain the demands, the increasing demands, I think he needs to reach out to Iraq’s neighbors. I think Maliki has spoiled relationships with all of Iraq’s neighbors. And he needs to reach to all of them to say a new beginning. He needs their help, not only in containing ISIS, but also in building a new momentum in the country.

    I think the endorsement he has would give him a good start. He also needs to form a cabinet that would function and deliver some services to the country, not simply to appease political blocs. I think Iraqis want to see some dividend out of their electoral processes. They vote every time, and the system is not getting any better.

    On the security front, it’s most challenging. I think that one is a head-on. He needs to work with the army, with nearly everybody in order to insurance security is delivered and Iraq gets back some order.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, one of the things we have been hearing is that the U.S., in collaboration with the Baghdad government, whoever that is these days, have agreed to arm the Kurds. Is that helpful or is that also a potential wedge?

    ZALMAY KHALILZAD: I think that’s helpful because it came in the context of a very urgent situation, with the move of ISIS into Kurdistan coming very close to Irbil and the very devastating action against Yazidis and Christians and others.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    ZALMAY KHALILZAD: So this was based on an agreement with Baghdad, although I think we also are starting our own bilateral agreement with the Kurds.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me ask Laith Kubba, briefly.

    LAITH KUBBA: Well, in the context I think of what Ambassador Khalilzad had said earlier, that the Kurds are now pushing for a confederal state, it becomes a highly charged issue, because if they have the weapons, then that would create a de facto state and will complicate things.

    I think the only way to contain the Kurdish issue is through negotiations, not through entrenched armed positions.

    GWEN IFILL: We will be watching for all of that.

    Laith Kubba of the National Endowment for Democracy, and Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, thank you both very much.

    ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Good to be with you.

    The post Can Abadi form a workable government for Iraq? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Recep Tayyip Erdogan (second from right), Turkey's president-elect, after his post-election speech at AK Party headquarters in Ankara on Aug. 11. Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan (second from right), Turkey’s president-elect, after his post-election speech at AK Party headquarters in Ankara on Aug. 11. Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    ISTANBUL, Turkey — Turkey’s governing party said Monday it will select a new prime minister at the end of August to replace Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who won the country’s first direct presidential election in a historic vote.

    The Justice and Development Party, or AKP, will hold its party congress on Aug. 27 to select the new prime minister, who will also be the new party head. Turkey’s constitution stipulates the president has to cut ties to any political party after being elected.

    No specific name for the premiership was discussed during Monday’s meeting, AKP spokesman Huseyin Celik said.

    Erdogan won Sunday’s election with 51.79 percent, according to election board figures released Monday. Challenger Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu got 38.44 percent and Selahattin Demirtas, a young Kurdish politician, got 9.76 percent. Turnout was 74.13 percent — a relatively low figure for Turkey, where voting is mandatory.

    A three-term prime minister who has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade, Erdogan has been a divisive figure.

    He was hammered by anti-government protests over a redevelopment project in Istanbul’s Gezi Park last year, as well as over a mining disaster that killed 301 people in May.

    He was also implicated in a corruption scandal, along with his son, earlier this year, but rejected the accusations as an attempted coup. The judicial officials involved have been reassigned to other posts or fired, and dozens of police have been arrested.

    His critics accuse him of an increasingly autocratic style of governance and for allegedly trying to impose his religious and conservative mores on a nation built on secularism.

    But his supporters revere him as a champion of the people who has steered Turkey to years of economic prosperity.

    “Given the anti-government protests last summer in response to Erdogan’s perceived authoritarian tendencies, political tension is likely to remain high as Erdogan seeks to extend the power of the presidency,” said the Fitch international ratings agency.

    Erdogan, 60, has vowed to transform the presidency from a largely ceremonial post into a powerful position.

    Although a bid before the election to achieve this through a constitutional amendment failed, he has said he will activate the post’s dormant powers — a legacy of a 1980 coup — including the ability to call parliament and summon Cabinet meetings.

    “Erdogan got what he wanted,” Murat Yetkin, Editor-in-Chief of the Hurriyet Daily News, wrote in an editorial Monday. “He wanted to consolidate all the executive power in his hands and now he has the chance and capacity for that.”

    Whoever replaces Erdogan as premier would hold the position until next year, when a general election is due. There is no official contender, although several names have emerged in the media, including outgoing President Abdullah Gul and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

    Gul, who co-founded the AKP with Erdogan, said on Monday he would “return to my party” after the end of his term, which expires on Aug. 28. But he refused to be drawn on whether that meant he would consider the premiership.

    Although formerly very close, Gul and Erdogan have drifted apart in recent years, with Gul sometimes questioning the government’s actions.

    There has been speculation that the newly elected president would want to appoint a pliant prime minister so he could retain the true power himself — a role Gul would be unlikely to perform.

    In his victory speech Sunday night, Erdogan struck a conciliatory tone toward critics who fear he is bent on a power grab as he embarks on another five years at the country’s helm.

    “I will not be the president of only those who voted for me. I will be the president of 77 million,” he vowed.

    Not everyone was convinced.

    “For me, he is not my president. I’m the people but he is not my president. First of all, the elections period wasn’t fair,” said Sener Gunduz, a surveyor in Istanbul.

    International election monitors who visited a limited number of polling stations said Sunday’s vote was “generally organized in a professional and efficient manner.” But they said unbalanced campaign coverage strongly favored Erdogan.

    “The prime minister’s use of his official position, along with biased media coverage, gave him a distinct advantage over the other candidates,” the OSCE said.

    ____

    Fraser reported from Ankara.

    The post Turkey to select new prime minister at end of August appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    somalia1

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tonight, we take a look at the East African nation of Somalia. The country has been plagued by war, corruption, and terrorism, but its leader says he wants to change its course.

    In September 2012, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was sworn in as Somalia’s new president in a bid to end decades of chaos, violence and poverty. After years without a central government, a new parliament elected the community activist and academic.

    PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD, Somalia (through translator): I congratulate all the Somali people wherever they are, and I can say that we have now come back from the long days of suffering, and our feet are headed in the right path.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Somalia had suffered long years of fighting, seen a failed U.N. and U.S. mission in the early ’90s, the days of Black Hawk Down, then rampant piracy and the rise of Al-Shabab militants.

    But within months of Mohamud government taking power, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the U.S. would recognize Somalia for the first time since 1991.

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, Secretary of State: We have moved into an era where we’re going to be a good partner, a steadfast partner to Somalia, as Somalia makes the decisions for its own future.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Today, security still looms large over that future. Soldiers from the African Union Mission in Somalia, or AMISOM, patrol much the country. And the U.S. military has been training troops to help fight Al-Shabab.

    The militants no longer control the capital, Mogadishu, and other cities, but they have stepped up attacks, including a recent assault on the parliament building. Last week, at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, President Mohamud blamed the militants for holding back Somalia.

    In turn, opponents accuse Mohamud of corruption. This weekend, the president drew protesters, as well as greeters, in Minnesota, where he traveled to meet members of the largest Somali population in the United States.

    I sat down with him on Friday, ahead of that trip.

    The post Stepped up al-Shabaab attacks underscore Somalia’s looming security concerns appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    somalia2_president

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Mohamud, thank you for talking with us.

    PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD: Thank you, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, as you prepare to leave Washington, have you found this week’s meetings to be helpful, useful to you?

    PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD: It was very useful.

    The meeting was meant for the African continent, of course. And we learned a lot. And there was new injections from the United States government to push the economy and the life of the people of Africa. We are very much grateful for the level of support that has been shown to us.

    And we already have moved and progressed in our cooperation between the United States government and Somalia.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How much aid would you say the United States is giving to Somalia? And how would you describe the relationship between the two countries?

    PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD: It’s only last year when the transition was ended in Somalia and the United States government recognized Somali government as a legitimate state to deal with, and then only started our cooperation.

    We signed a number of cooperation agreements. And still we are at the beginning, but we moving in a very good pace and direction.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about something that I know is of great concern to you. I assume you talked to the United States government about it. And that is the militant Islamist group Al-Shabab. They have wreaked death and destruction in your country for a long time. They have — just last week, they murdered a legislator in Mogadishu.

    They have tried to assassinate you. You have said that you believe your government will defeat them, but how long will that take? How — how difficult a task are we talking about?

    PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD: Within the next few months, there might not be a territory controlled by Shabab in Somalia.

    But that’s not the end of war. They melt down into society. And these suicide bomb, target assassinations will continue some time. But we strongly believe that it will end up soon.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do they try to infiltrate your inner circle?

    PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD: They do try everywhere. They do try to infiltrate into security institutions. They do try to infiltrate into the politician — politics, if not the politicians, the staff that works with the politicians.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you fear for your own safety?

    PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD: I was elected on September 10, 2012.

    September 14, I was attacked, long before I went into the state house. So since then, they keep continue trying. But the security forces have aborted all these. And I have a very good confidence on my security staff.

    They give me enough possibility to move around in Mogadishu and throughout Somalia. So, I’m not worried much.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You brought up piracy. This is another terrible scourge. For a while, it was around the Horn of Africa. Ships going around were frequently attacked by pirates coming from Somalia. It does seem to have slowed down. Do you have that behind you now?

    PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD: Partly, this is addressed. International partners have made a strong military presence in the seas. And they pushed back the pirates.

    And the Somali community leaders and elders also take a campaign of awareness raising among the young people, so they combat. But the issue is — the root causes is not yet fully addressed, so we are still — the challenge is still existing. And it’s — the government of Somalia is struggling with addressing those issues.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There have been serious concerns raised by the U.S. government and others over whether your government has achieved, since you came into office, sufficient stability, transparency, whether corruption has been dealt with, whether you’re on track to have a government of national unity, that you don’t just represent a part of the country.

    How do you — what do you say to those who ask that?

    PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD: Imagine a country that has been without a functioning state over two decades. And we are in the office now for two years.

    The problems that was existing more than two decades cannot be solved overnight. But we put in place all the necessary foundations to have a very democratic and strict institutions that serve the interests of all Somalis.

    For the first time in 45 years, Somalia is going to experience elections in 2016. That’s the plan of this government, to make elections happen in 2016. And you know what? When the last time Somalia went into the polls? That was 1969, 45 years ago.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The news media. I understand from reading that there is one — at least one leading independent news media group in Somalia which had been honored internationally — the name of it was Shabelle Media — that was ordered to shut down, close down its offices.

    How do you answer this? And does your country have a free media? How free is the media in Somalia?

    PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD: There are number of times when Shabab infiltration has been suspected in different organizations, not only the media, government offices, agencies, ministries.

    And these security people, they go after that. If there is a suspect in a media house, it’s not immune from that type of thing. What we know is that 90 percent of the Shabab operations and — the Shabab operations are on the media, not in the field.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Ninety percent?

    PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD: They have been given some of our media. I will not say all of them. Some of our media, they might not be — the capability and the capacity is very limited to understand between the neutrality and what to be and what not to be.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Last question. What do you want Americans to know about Somalia that they may not know?

    PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD: What we want to know, the Americans, is that Somalia is not the Somalia of 1970s and 1980s today and even 1990s.

    Somalia is different now. We have — on the road to democratic institutions to be put in place. We say the United States, come to Somalia. Help us to invest in the future, so that no more Shabaab, no more terrorists, and no more piracy in Somalia.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Mohamud, we thank you very much for talking with us.

    PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD: Thank you, Judy. Thank you very much.

    The post From piracy to al-Shabab, Somalia’s president addresses challenges to building democracy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Protests Continue In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man

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    GWEN IFILL: Now to a police shooting of a Missouri teenager that sparked racial tension, violence and looting in a Saint Louis suburb over the weekend.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It was all set in motion Saturday, when 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot repeatedly by a police officer in the Saint Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was unarmed and witnesses maintained he was an innocent victim.

    WOMAN: He was running. And then he turned around and put his arms up. He just stopped, put his hands up after he had gotten shot repeatedly.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The chief of police of Saint Louis County, who’s leading the investigation, said the incident began with a scuffle.

    JON BELMAR, Chief, Saint Louis County, Missouri: It is our understanding at this point in the investigation that within the police car there was a struggle over the officer’s weapon. There was at least one shot fired within the car.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The officer was placed on administrative leave. His identity and race were not released.

    But the killing sparked outrage and protests yesterday afternoon. And demonstrations continued into the night. Then came a candlelight vigil that began peacefully, but turned violent, as some protesters looted stores and vandalized cars in a confrontation with police.

    The mayor said a small group caused the trouble; 32 people were arrested.

    Charlie Dooley is the county’s executive.

    CHARLIE DOOLEY, Saint Louis County Executive: We’re on top of this situation. We understand their frustration. We understand their concern. We are asking that all the public be calm, be patient and be prayerful.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Another vigil and protest march were held today.

    And Brown’s parents spoke at a news conference.

    LESLEY MCSPADDEN, Victim’s mother: That’s my firstborn son. Anybody that know me knew how I felt about my son. I just wish I could have been there to help him, anything. He didn’t deserve that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And the FBI confirmed it is reviewing the shooting for possible civil rights violations.

    It’s the latest such case since the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012 by a neighborhood watch member in Florida. Last month, in New York City, another black man, Eric Garner, died after being put in a chokehold by police, according to a medical examiner.

    And in Los Angeles, onlookers videotaped Marlene Pinnock as she was beaten by a California Highway Patrol officer.

    We get reaction now from Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, and Greg Meyer, a former captain for the Los Angeles Police Department who’s written on and testified in use-of-force cases around the country.

    Well, Sherrilyn Ifill, let me start with you. It’s still early in this investigation. What do you think are the most important facts to learn and who is best to determine them?

    SHERRILYN IFILL, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund: Well, I think would be terrific if we learned the name of the officer and something about his record on the force, obviously the eyewitness accounts — and they are conflicting eyewitness accounts — between residents of the community who say they observed what happened, and what we are hearing from the police department.

    We don’t know the name of the officer or anything about him. I think we’re entitled to know that. He is a public servant. And so we’re going to know what happened during that encounter between Mike Wood (sic) and the police.

    Frankly, the account that we have heard about this struggle for the gun is all too familiar and, frankly, raises a lot of questions. And so we need an investigation to happen. I’m pleased that the FBI has joined — they have not taken over — it’s a concurrent investigation.

    But we need an investigation to happen quickly. And we need answers quickly. We are still waiting for charges in the Eric Garner case. And I think these are the kinds of things that are creating frustration within communities around the country.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Let me ask Greg Meyer.

    From a police perspective, when you have these kinds of questions over use of deadly force, what has to come out? What are the important facts that you want to see brought out?

    GREG MEYER, Former Captain, Los Angeles Police Department: Well, first of all, the investigations tend not to happen quickly. They tend to be very thorough and they take some time.

    What has to happen here is a realization that this officer was in this situation. You’re going to get that officer’s statement. You’re going to get witness statements. I’m not aware that there is any video or audio evidence in this case.

    If there is, all of that would be part of what’s analyzed too. Ultimately, the system will decide, through policy review, training review and legal review, was this officer’s actions reasonable under the Constitution of the United States? We’re not going to know for some time how to evaluate that.

    And I would just add briefly, about 10 percent of all officers that are murdered in this country each year in modern times are murdered with their own handgun. That’s down from 20 percent a generation ago, because I think we’re getting better at retaining our weapons.

    But the struggle over the gun is a big question in this case that will have to be answered.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Sherrilyn Ifill, you can respond to that and I want you to pick up on where you ended. What — we saw the strong response in the community and nationwide. Tell us where that’s coming from.

    SHERRILYN IFILL: Well, I think there is a local response that has to do with the relationship between the African-American community and the constabulary in Ferguson, which I think bears some investigation as well.

    If you look at the statistics involving arrests, stops and so forth in that town prepared by their police department, African-Americans are the subject of 90 percent of the stops, whether in vehicles, whether on the street, whether on local roads, whether on the highway.

    And, interestingly, however, the greatest amount of contraband that’s found happens with stops of white residents. So I think there may be a local story that needs to come out. But there’s also a national story. You just alluded to several of the incidents. I talked about Eric Garner.

    We know that a man was killed in the Wal-Mart in Ohio last week by police officers who was unarmed. We saw the disgusting video of Ms. Pinnock being brutally beaten on a highway by a California police officer. And that’s just in the last few months. These incident goes back decades.

    We could rattle off names and use up the entire NewsHour doing so of cases of police-involved attacks, shootings, assaults on unarmed African-Americans. And so I think the larger issue is about the way in which the police force in cities all over this country engage with unarmed, nonviolent African-Americans, the perception of criminality when African-Americans are seen, and the often violent and disproportionately violent response of police officers who are trained and should be trained public servants, trained in defusing situations.

    The gun should be the last resort, and, too often, we see it as the first resort.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, let me ask Greg Meyer.

    Do you sense that police forces around the country see cases like this as part of a systemic problem? And to what extent are they responding to it and retraining to respond?

    GREG MEYER: Well, I think every incident is different, whether it’s an African-American person involved or not.

    There’s more and more training going on, and more and more training programs being developed on, for example, how to handle mentally ill people. There’s more and more court oversight. I know in the Ninth Circuit out in the Western United States, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued at least one opinion where they’re looking not just at the moment that force was used, as was what was traditionally looked at, but also what’s leading up to it.

    What tactics are the officers engaging in before they go in and use force on someone? So it’s an evolving issue. We’re going to see more and more videos.

    GREG MEYER: I mean, police officers have videos on their bodies in many cities now. That’s only going to increase, in addition to all the other videos that we know are out there.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Just very briefly, in our last minute, Mr. Meyer, do you sense, though, that police forces understand the anger that this quickly arouses in communities around the country?

    GREG MEYER: Oh, sure, especially in the big places, New York, Los Angeles, other big cities.

    These things happen with more frequency than they do in the smaller jurisdictions, for sure. So, the police officers get some experience with understanding the frustration that’s out there, the anger that’s out there. Videos especially drive people emotionally. And we’re a nation of laws, not emotion.

    JEFFREY BROWN: OK.

    And, Sherrilyn Ifill, just in 20 seconds, please, a last — a last word?

    SHERRILYN IFILL: Dead children actually drive people emotionally even more than videos, people who are unarmed, watching a man be choked to death on nationwide television who clearly is unarmed.

    Those things actually arouse, and appropriately arouse, emotion. And they shouldn’t arouse the emotions just of African-Americans, but of every American. We are a nation of laws. And we want police officers to be accountable to the law, just as the citizenry should be as well.

    GREG MEYER: Absolutely.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Sherrilyn — Sherrilyn Ifill and Greg Meyer, thank you both very much.

    The post Killing of a Missouri teenager by police triggers unrest and outcries for answers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Gannett Said to Agree To Buy Rest Of Cars.com For $1.8 Billion

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally, the latest turn in the evolving business of newspapers.

    After years of being one part of the media’s broader strategy to grow and diversify, companies now are shedding print altogether. Gannett, which owns USA Today and many other papers, became the latest to spin off its print operations last week, that a day after The Tribune Company made a similar move and days after E.W. Scripps and Journal Communications announced similar plans as part of a merger.

    Ken Doctor covers media for his website, Newsonomics, and his column for the Nieman Journalism Lab.

    Ken Doctor, welcome to the program.

    And I have just named some of the spinoffs that have happened. Why is this happening now?

    KEN DOCTOR, Newsonomics: Well, it’s financial. It’s Wall Street.

    If you look at what’s happened with the newspaper industry, it’s been really a long dissent. Profits are down, work forces are down, products are thinner. And the broadcast industry is much healthier. So, on Wall Street, you want a healthy business. You don’t want the distressed business.

    Essentially, the newspaper business is being sequestered or separated out from these better broadcast assets.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, this idea of having multiple platforms with television, with print and digital, that’s just gone goodbye?

    KEN DOCTOR: It is kind of ironic now, because we heard from the CEOs of these diversified companies that synergy was very important.

    And, of course, on our smartphones and our tablets, we expect video from newspaper companies and we expect stories from broadcast companies. And one idea here was multiplatform, multidevice. But now these companies are separate.

    So, importantly, this is a financial move. It’s not a strategic one and may not really be in the best interests of the communities they serve or their readers.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I wanted to ask you about that in a minute.

    But to pin down the financial piece of this…

    KEN DOCTOR: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: … what is it that Wall Street is looking for from these companies?

    KEN DOCTOR: So, if you look at Gannett, for instance, Gannett is the largest U.S. newspaper company. Only 30 percent of all its annual revenues come from broadcast, but 60 percent of its profits come from broadcast.

    So those lines are diverging. The print operations keep on losing money year over year, no growth for Gannett or the rest of the companies in essentially seven years. So the idea is, move those assets out of the way, as Rupert Murdoch did with News Corp. in the middle of last summer, and it works.

    Wall Street values the two separate companies more highly than the one company put together with newspaper and broadcast assets.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And one of the divisions here is the division between publicly held media companies and those that are privately held…

    KEN DOCTOR: Right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: … like Jeff Bezos of Amazon buying The Washington Post. The private model seems to be doing better.

    KEN DOCTOR: Well, a lot of this is early.

    Even the private models, Jeff Bezos, Washington Post, John Henry in Boston, another one in Minneapolis, they are all a year-old. Many of these splits are a year-old. So both things are happening at the same time.

    I do think the private model is going to be better, because these companies, these newspaper companies still have another good three to five years of transition. And being in the public markets as a stand-alone public company, with quarter-by-quarter results, is very tough. They may need to keep on cutting to maintain even small profits for their shareholders.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So cutting how many? I mean, how many reporters are we talking about being cut? What is this doing to the journalism in the United States?

    KEN DOCTOR: It has been thinning for almost a decade now.

    So we have had 18,000 daily journalists lose their jobs. That’s 30 percent of all the journalists working at the about 1,400 daily newspapers. And most of them are local in our country. And we see this. A lot of the losses are veteran reporters, who really have a deeper knowledge of their communities, but they’re more expensive.

    So not only are jobs being cut, but hundreds of thousands of years of experience is being lost. It’s hard to pinpoint, because we don’t know what we don’t know. But it’s unmistakable across the United States.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And consumers of news aren’t noticing? How do you see that? Are they commenting on this? Are they speaking up about it?

    KEN DOCTOR: They are seeing it. We’re seeing some commenting, not that much, because it’s a slow phenomenon.

    And at the national level, there’s really a great flowering. And you can make the case, as a national news business, we have more than we ever had. But we’re a big country, 3,000-miles-wide. And we need these local newspapers people, because they generate most of the news.

    The brightest spot has been reader revenue, all these pay walls we talk about — and half of the newspapers now have them. The problem is, going forward, how much people are willing to pay for a product that keeps getting smaller and is put out by a smaller work force. That’s the key problem going forward into 2015.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just quickly, you see that as the way they survive?

    KEN DOCTOR: That is the key one, I think.

    You look at The New York Times now, 62 percent of its revenue comes from readers. The other companies, it’s about 30 to 40 percent. But readers are going to have to pay more, but, of course, we want a better product. There are other things they’re doing in terms of the advertising end, diversifying their businesses.

    And these will help, but they will take three to five years to really make a difference in the marketplace.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Ken Doctor, Newsonomics, we thank you.

    KEN DOCTOR: Quite welcome.

    The post Why media companies are ditching their newspaper operations appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Comedian and actor Robin Williams at "The Crazy Ones" press conference in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Oct. 8, 2013. Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage

    Comedian and actor Robin Williams at “The Crazy Ones” press conference in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Oct. 8, 2013. Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage

    Comedian and actor Robin Williams was found dead Monday morning at his Northern California home from an apparent suicide, according to the Marin County Sheriff’s Office. He was 63.

    The cause of death is under investigation, but a statement from the sheriff’s office said the coroner division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.

    The statement said someone called 911 reporting a male adult had been found unconscious and not breathing inside his residence in Tiburon, Calif., at 11:55 a.m. PDT. Emergency personnel arrived at noon and pronounced the man dead at 12:02 p.m. He was identified as Robin McLaurin Williams.

    Williams was last seen alive at his residence, where he lives with his wife, at about 10 p.m. Sunday.

    A forensic examination is scheduled for Tuesday, along with toxicology tests, the sheriff’s office said.

    Williams delighted audiences with his quirky and often over-the-top comedic style since appearing as a space alien in the 1978-1982 television show “Mork and Mindy”. He played serious roles as well. His movies included “Good Morning, Vietnam”, “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “The Birdcage”. He won the Academy Award for best supporting actor for “Good Will Hunting”.

    Williams played the role of radio DJ Adrian Cronauer in 1987's 'Good Morning, Vietnam.'

    Williams played the role of radio DJ Adrian Cronauer in 1987′s ‘Good Morning, Vietnam.’

    Williams’ latest television endeavor was “The Crazy Ones”, in which he starred as an advertising executive with Sarah Michelle Gellar. CBS aired the series from Sept. 26, 2013, to April 1. In May, CBS cancelled the series after one season.

    In November, he appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and talked about his return to the small screen. “I’m back!” he said. “Sometimes when they let me try stuff, I’ll push the envelope. That’s part of the deal.” Watch an excerpt of their interview:

    The post Comedian-actor Robin Williams dies appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    St. Louis County Law Enforcement Officers stand in riot gear during a protest of the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, outside Ferguson Police Department Headquarters August 11, 2014. Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

    St. Louis County Law Enforcement Officers stand in riot gear during a protest of the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, outside Ferguson Police Department Headquarters August 11, 2014. Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

    New clashes between police and citizens broke out Monday night in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb in St. Louis County. Reports of tear gas and rubber bullets filled the social media feeds of journalists and onlookers on the scene.

    St. Louis County police reportedly took stronger measures than the night before to disburse the crowds and stem potential looting and vandalism. Crowds gathered at a burned QuickTrip gas station which was sacked by protesters Sunday night. Arriving in an armored vehicle and backed by SWAT units, the police urged residents to return to their homes and clear the streets. The militarized appearance of the police appeared to unnerve many residents. By 9 p.m the crowd had begun to clear the area, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

    Earlier, Attorney General Eric Holder said the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in a St. Louis suburb deserves a full review.

    Holder’s statement Monday comes as the Justice Department dispatched its Community Relations Service to the scene to try and help calm the area’s racial tension. The service helps communities resolve conflicts and tensions arising from racial differences.

    The FBI is looking into possible civil rights violations in the shooting of the unarmed 18-year old. Police said Brown was shot multiple times Saturday after an altercation with an officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

    Nearly three dozen people were arrested Sunday after crowds looted and burned stores and taunted officers.

    Holder says aggressively pursuing these types of investigations is “critical for preserving trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

    St. Louis Alderman Antonio French Tweeted regular updates throughout the evening, capturing video and photos of the events:

    The post Police again disperse crowds in Ferguson with tear gas, rubber bullets appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A colorized, magnified electron microscope image of the Ebola virus growing out of an  infected VERO 46 cell. Image by NIAID

    A colorized, magnified electron microscope image of the Ebola virus growing out of an infected VERO 46 cell. Image by NIAID

    WASHINGTON — An experimental Ebola drug has been used to treat two American aid workers and a Spanish missionary priest. Could Liberian doctors be next?

    The Liberian government said Monday that it will receive doses of the drug to treat two doctors in the country. They would be the first Africans to receive it.

    The manufacturer, Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., said in a statement posted Monday afternoon on its website that the supply of the drug is now exhausted.

    The announcement came as the World Health Organization considered ethical questions about who should get access to an experimental drug in an emergency.

    Some questions and answers about the Ebola drug:

    Q: What is this drug?

    A: Called ZMapp, it is a cocktail of specially engineered antibodies designed to target and inactivate the Ebola virus.

    Q: What do we know about whether it works?

    A: Very little. Various antibodies have been tested in small numbers of monkeys, but not people. In one study, 43 percent of treated monkeys survived when the drug was given after the animals showed symptoms.

    Mapp Biopharmaceutical now is developing a combination of three antibodies that seemed most promising in those animal studies.

    Q: Why isn’t ZMapp being tested more widely to find out if it works in people?

    A: There’s not enough available. The antibodies are grown inside tobacco plants, and then extracted and purified, a slow process. U.S. officials have estimated that only a modest amount could be produced in two or three months, unless some way to speed production is found.

    Q: What does it mean that the two American aid workers who received the drug are reported to be slowly improving?

    A: Top U.S. health officials stress that there’s no way to know if the drug really helped, or if those two patients would have been among the 40 percent of people who are surviving this outbreak anyway. Without human studies, there also isn’t any way to know if the drug might harm instead of help.

    There is no proven treatment for Ebola. But basic supportive care — things like keeping patients hydrated, maintaining their blood pressure and treating any complicating infections — can make a difference in survival, says Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The two U.S. patients, both infected in Liberia, are being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

    Q: How were the Americans and Spanish priest chosen to get some of those limited doses, rather than Africans?

    A: The international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse and Emory University Hospital requested that the manufacturer provide some of the drug for the two Americans, and the manufacturer agreed. As for the Spanish missionary priest, it wasn’t clear exactly how Spanish officials obtained a dose that apparently was in Geneva. The priest also was infected in Liberia and is in isolation at a Madrid hospital.

    Typically, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate shipments of unapproved drugs for emergency use in individual patients outside the U.S.

    The World Health Organization is debating if any further limited supplies of experimental drugs should be used during the outbreak, and under what conditions. But the agency cannot force a manufacturer to go along. Indeed, using an experimental drug outside of a research study isn’t just a gamble for patient safety. What if a drug might benefit patients early in the disease, but doctors can’t tell because it was given only to the most gravely ill?

    Q: How is Liberia getting the drug?

    A: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it had helped connect Liberia with the manufacturer. “Since the drug was shipped for use outside the US, appropriate export procedures had to be followed,” the statement said.

    Q: Are any other drugs in the pipeline?

    A: Canada’s Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp. is developing a drug that targets Ebola’s genetic material. The FDA had halted a small safety study with questions about a reaction in healthy volunteers. Last week, Tekmira announced that FDA had modified its restriction, clearing a roadblock to possible experimental use in infected patients; the company said at the time that it was “carefully evaluating options.”

    A handful of other companies are in earlier stages of drug development; a possible vaccine to prevent the disease is expected to begin first-stage safety studies sometime in the fall.

    Q: If experimental drugs won’t stop the outbreak, what will?

    A: Frieden and other experts say old-fashioned public health measures: rapidly finding and isolating the sick, quarantining those exposed and educating the public on how to avoid the risk of infection. Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of sick patients. Frieden said the two main drivers of the outbreak are improper infection control during patient care and traditional but risky burial practices that have mourners handling bodies that are still infectious.

    The post 8 questions about the experimental Ebola drug headed to Africa appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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