Articles on this Page
- 08/14/14--15:32: _Is Ferguson a bellw...
- 08/14/14--15:42: _Soaring hazelnut pr...
- 08/14/14--15:49: _Maliki resignation ...
- 08/14/14--17:37: _Attorney General Ho...
- 08/14/14--19:13: _Inspired by Ferguso...
- 08/15/14--12:40: _How has social medi...
- 08/15/14--13:19: _Beyond Einstein: Ex...
- 08/15/14--13:23: _Art Everywhere pain...
- 08/15/14--14:22: _A look back at the ...
- 08/15/14--15:02: _News Wrap: Mob atta...
- 08/15/14--15:07: _A year after scathi...
- 08/15/14--15:10: _Why it’s so difficu...
- 08/15/14--15:18: _Brooks and Marcus o...
- 08/15/14--15:29: _This isn’t Obama’s ...
- 08/15/14--15:30: _Triumph of 100-year...
- 08/15/14--15:32: _How the Panama Cana...
- 08/15/14--15:34: _Amazing engineering...
- 08/15/14--15:47: _Fighting, waterborn...
- 08/15/14--15:59: _Watch: Harvard scie...
- 08/15/14--16:02: _Texas Gov. Rick Per...
- 08/14/14--15:42: Soaring hazelnut prices drive sweets-lovers nuts
- 08/14/14--17:37: Attorney General Holder promises Brown family a full investigation
- 08/15/14--12:40: How has social media changed the way we talk about race and justice?
- 08/15/14--13:19: Beyond Einstein: Exhibit challenges scope of genius
- 08/15/14--13:23: Art Everywhere paints American landscape with favorite masterpieces
- 08/15/14--14:22: A look back at the week’s events in Ferguson in photos
- 08/15/14--15:02: News Wrap: Mob attacks convoy of Pakistan opposition figure
- 08/15/14--15:10: Why it’s so difficult to retain a diverse police force
- 08/15/14--15:29: This isn’t Obama’s first foray into a racially charged situation
- 08/15/14--15:30: Triumph of 100-year-old Panama Canal came with dangerous costs
- 08/15/14--15:32: How the Panama Canal helped make the U.S. a world power
- 08/15/14--15:59: Watch: Harvard scientists develop tiny robots that can swarm
- 08/15/14--16:02: Texas Gov. Rick Perry indicted for abuse of power
GWEN IFILL: Today’s pleas for restraint, safety, peaceful protests, and justice rippled far beyond Missouri. As one official put it this afternoon, “The eyes of the world are on us.”We explore how some of these issues and images are resonating around the country.
Eric Liu is an author, educator, former White House speechwriter, and founder of Citizen University, which promotes civic activism. And Jelani Cobb is an associate professor of history and director of the Institute for African-American Studies at the University of Connecticut. He is also a contributor to “The New Yorker.” He joins us from Saint Louis.
Jelani Cobb, I want to pick up from something that the former mayor of Ferguson told Judy a few moments ago, which is, this could happen anywhere.
You have been on the streets of Ferguson for the last few days. Do you agree with that?
JELANI COBB, University of Connecticut: Well, I think recent history shows that not only that it could happen anywhere, that it has happened in several other places.
There are some really terrible overlaps here, one of which is a striking irony that Tracy Martin, the father of Trayvon Martin, who was slain two years ago under circumstances I think we’re all familiar with, he was scheduled to actually be in this area for an event that will take place on August 24 promoting nonviolence called Peace Fest.
And he agreed to attend this program weeks before Michael Brown was killed. He’s now entering — coming here under very different circumstances. So we have seen all these things happen before.
That notwithstanding, I think it’s very troubling to say, in the context of a community that’s grieving, that’s devastated and that certainly feels a great deal of resentment about the way in which it’s being policed, that there is nothing atypical about what’s going on here, that this is just something that could have alighted anywhere, but it just happened to be here.
GWEN IFILL: Eric Liu, I want you to pick up on that. Why would it not be atypical? And does that explain some of the depth of the anger we’re seeing?
ERIC LIU, Co-Author, “The Gardens of Democracy”: Well, I think one of the questions that protesters have been chanting in Ferguson is very simple: What if it was your town?
And I think a lot of people all across the country watching things unfold over the last few days are beginning to really reckon with the fact that this is not only the product of the extraordinarily segregated and charged circumstances that you might find in Ferguson, but that in every town in this country right now, there is alienation.
In every town in this country, there are young people who, because of the color of their skin, are receiving brutal mistreatment by law enforcement. And there are communities all across this country right now where people across lines of race and class simply do not see each other, do not — they may pass each other, but they don’t really see one another.
And I think, in that sense, we’re all reckoning with the possibility or the reality that in every town in the United States right now, the potential for this kind of understanding and this kind of tragedy exists. And part of our responsibility, I think, is to figure out what we can do, whatever town we live in, to ensure that what’s unfolded in Ferguson doesn’t unfold again where we live.
GWEN IFILL: Jelani Cobb, it seems almost like that, in the last 24 to 48 hours, this has gone beyond the simple question of what happened to Michael Brown to something else. It seems to have touched another cord.
And I wonder whether it feels that way to you too, or whether the anger seems very, very focused around that singular event?
JELANI COBB: No, no doubt this became a very different story just even in the 48 hours that I have been here.
Initially, this was very much focused on the circumstances around the death of Michael Brown. But now it’s expanded into, you know, bigger questions about policing, questions about militarization of police, as you talked about in your early segment — earlier segment.
I had a conversation with community activists and people who live in the area where Mr. Brown was killed, and they talked about economic disenfranchisement and a whole array of other things that touch upon what’s really going on in this community.
And, if I can, I will say one thing in addition to this. One of the things that I have heard over and over again when I talked to people out in this community, and I said, you know, what exactly do you want in the short-term, what do you want immediately, what do you think would pacify some of the anger that you see happening in these communities?
And they said, we would like for the officer to be named, and we would like for there to be transparency in the process in which he is being investigated. And I have heard that again and again.
And so I think what the police department may not have recognized or maybe recognized too late was the steadfast insistence that they wouldn’t name the officer was going to fuel another set of problems that, based upon what I have heard, even people who are activists and people who are police officers have all been taken by surprise at the extent to which there has been a kind of durable anger, that people were not satisfied just to go out and protest for one day, but they came out the next day and the next day and the next day, and have pledged to continue to do so for the amount of time the officer remains anonymous.
GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about this idea of durable anger, Eric Liu.
One of the things that has been making the rounds of social media is pictures of people putting their hands up in the air and saying, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” We heard a gentleman say that in one of our earlier pieces tonight.
Does that speak to people beyond who is in the street, this idea that you can be — say, I cede all my power to you, and still become a victim?
ERIC LIU: I want to be specific.
That image that is circulating on the Internet is of African-Americans with their hands up. “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
And I look at that picture and I am both stirred and shamed. I’m stirred because I feel a deep sense of connection that, in the United States in 2014, this is happening. But I feel shamed as well that we’re not able to have a conversation about this and about the conditions of unequal justice that unfold without it becoming quickly polarized and quickly partisan.
And the reality that’s interesting right now and part of why this has become a national story and a national phenomenon is that, as Jelani Cobb was just saying, the response of the police in Ferguson to the protesters, the ways in they have, in heavy-handed manner, run roughshod over freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, over the right simply of young people to be African-American and out in public has been shocking to the conscience.
And it raises a very simple question of, what country is this? There is something deeply striking about how un-American these images seem. And I think one of the challenges that we face right now is that it’s only un-American if we stand up and do something and say something about it. If we just turn away, avert our gaze and say, wow, that’s something awful that is happening in that part of the country or that weird community, then, in fact, norms set in where we tolerate this.
And I just want to take a moment. That image of people saying, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” today, 50 years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act into law, 49 years after the Voting Rights Act, the fact that this is still happening is an abomination. And I say that, of course, as an American. You don’t have to be an American to say that, just as an American.
GWEN IFILL: Jelani Cobb, where does — where does political leadership come in, in this? We have waited and saw the governor speak today. The mayor has spoken, the attorney general, the president.
Has it been sufficient, and does it matter?
JELANI COBB: I think, you know, again, I don’t live in this community, but based upon what I have heard from people in the interviews, I have talked to a couple of dozen people at this point, and, you know, the thing that I heard very frequently is that they felt that the political leadership was ineffectual, that people had come too — it had been too little, too late.
There were questions yesterday about whether or not the governor would be involved, whether or not they would bring the National Guard in. There were all kinds of things people were wondering about how this would be handled.
And it also seemed that, you know, on the ground, there was a kind of ad hoc quality. So, out there, people kind of saw the kind of line of defense, where there were lots of officers who were blocking the area where the QuikTrip stood. But what you couldn’t see unless you were up close was that there were officers from different municipalities.
There were state people. There were local people. And it seemed as if there was a kind of overlap. You could kind of wonder what the central command was, who was calling the shots and what the real strategy was.
Now, that said, I think there is another thing to be added, two quick things.
GWEN IFILL: Briefly.
JELANI COBB: One, this has not solely been black. There have been people of — black and white people who have been out there protesting about what happened. And people are very for them — it was very important to them to convey that.
The other is that the people who were in riot gear, I don’t think that was what incensed people. People were — and there were many people in the community who didn’t want to see more rioting. But the idea that there were police officers who were on top of armored vehicles with assault rifles mounted on tripods and pointed at the crowd did nothing to convey that this was a group of people who were interested in preserving law and order. It seemed much more like a group of people who were there to intimidate.
GWEN IFILL: Jelani Cobb and Eric Liu, thank you both for your observations.
JELANI COBB: Thank you.
ERIC LIU: Thank you.
GWEN IFILL: We continue our coverage on Ferguson, Missouri, online.
How does race affect how we portray victims like Michael Brown? Historian Craig Steven Wilder offers his take on the national significance of Brown’s death. Plus, we look at the way social media has helped shape the story.
The post Is Ferguson a bellwether for racial and economic tensions nationwide? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
A spring frost in Turkey destroyed hundreds of thousands of hazelnut flower buds and is responsible for an expected global deficit of the nut. Prices of hazelnuts are expected to increase 60 percent.
Turkey produces around three-quarters of the world’s hazelnuts.
Hazelnuts have a unique flavor and few substitutes are available for confectioners. Ferrero, maker of highly popular Nutella spread, is the largest global purchaser of the nut. The crisis prompted the company to buy Turkey’s biggest hazelnut producer in July in a deal which aggravated competitors.
Hazelnut harvests begin in the next few weeks. Based on bud count, an anticipated 800,000 metric tons has been reduced to 520,000 metric tons, according to Brijesh Krishnaswamy, senior vice president at Olam International, a global agricultural trader.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to more on Iraq, the United States’ involvement there, and the surprising announcement by the country’s prime minister.
I’m joined by our chief foreign affairs correspondent, Margaret Warner, who’s heading to the country on a reporting trip tonight.Margaret, so we’re glad to have this chance to talk to you.
MARGARET WARNER: Great.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So big developments from Baghdad this week.
MARGARET WARNER: Huge.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The announcement of a new prime minister, and then just late today, the surprise word from Prime Minister Maliki he’s stepping down.
What does the administration see the state of play is?
MARGARET WARNER: Well, for them, Judy, this is the second pleasant surprise on the political front they have had in a week.
First of all, I’m told they were surprised at how quickly, relatively quickly, the Shiite parties recognized that Maliki had to go and coalesced around somebody else. They really thought it was going to take longer, even though there was a deadline of last Sunday. And so you had both Sistani, you know, the grand ayatollah, weigh in and be critical of Maliki. You had Iran and Saudi Arabia both endorsing this new fellow.
So, — so there was — there was relief at that. But, secondly, then, to have Maliki actually resign after, as you probably pointed out in the setup, he had originally called the army out into the streets, and there was a fear that there would either be that kind of a coup.
Or even after he withdraw that, he talked about challenge it in a court. So it does clear the way for the formation of a new government. That said, as an administration official said to me, look, there are huge differences within the Shiite coalition, not to mention among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.
And you just take Abadi, the new P.M.-designate. Even though he spent most of his exile in the West during the rule of Saddam Hussein, not in Iran, as Maliki did, he comes from the Dawa Party, and he comes from a history of being repressed. Two of his brothers were executed by Saddam Hussein.
So, the fissures run deep. And, as some have said, we’re not — they’re not going to get all together and sing kumbaya just because it’s not Maliki.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s turn — and let me ask you about this ethnic minority group the Yazidis.
MARGARET WARNER: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: They were trapped on the mountain in Northern Iraq.
How did the administration come to conclude, after originally saying they were going to have go in and rescue them and have a major operation, that that wasn’t going to be needed?
MARGARET WARNER: It is — it is kind of amazing, Judy, because I believe, though I don’t know for sure, they were only on the mountain about 24 hours.
There were apparently 18 to 24…
JUDY WOODRUFF: The advisers.
MARGARET WARNER: The advisers.
Well, there were special forces — special operations forces and also some AID people. This is a big, long mountain of 60 miles long. And it’s very, very rugged terrain. And at least they were on the more — the northern side, where a lot of these Yazidis have been escaping.
They found, as you no doubt reported, 4,000 to 5,000, and half of them are herders. I have to say that some Yazidi spokesmen are questioning that and saying, ah, but they couldn’t have possibly gotten to the south side, where people are in much more desperate shape. And most of the ISIL, or ISIS, positions are more along the south rim.
So — but this was very much the conclusion, and, again, a pleasant surprise, because the White House, which had already — was looking at a lot of different options, from bringing in large U.S. military aircraft.
I mean, I talked to people on Wednesday, when they were really looking at these options. So, this wasn’t a feint at all. And the fact that the president will not have to do that, as well as the fact that, in their view, these people aren’t as in desperate shape, was — was a relief.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And just, finally, another big question, and that is the rest of Iraq.
MARGARET WARNER: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: ISIL, the Islamic State, this group that is threatening big chunks of the country, what does the administration think that it needs to do?
MARGARET WARNER: Yes.
Well, it holds a third of the country, a huge chunk of the country.
And the administration you know, the president has essentially promised that if this new government coalesces, and everyone buys in, Sunnis and Kurds as well as Shiites, that the U.S. is ready to support an Iraqi Peshmerga an Iraqi-led military operation on the ground.
So, they are looking at airstrikes. They are looking at even increased intelligence cooperation, which they’re already doing, more training, more weapons. A Kurdish leader said to me yesterday, ah, but the airstrikes can’t be totally effective unless the U.S. puts some special ops, intelligence people, whatever, on the ground to call in the airstrikes.
The official I talked to late today said, well, that’s certainly on the table, but no decision has been made on that yet, because that of course runs can be seen as running afoul perhaps of the administration of the president’s promise not to put American combat boots on the ground.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, you have done a lot of reporting, and you’re going to be doing a lot more.
MARGARET WARNER: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You are going to be on the ground. You’re going there, as we said, tonight.
MARGARET WARNER: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You will be reporting for us all next week, Margaret, and we look forward to that. Thank you.
MARGARET WARNER: I hope I hope I can say the same.
The post Maliki resignation clears way for new government, but doesn’t eliminate huge differences appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday promised the family of an unarmed black teenager shot by police in Missouri a full, independent civil rights investigation of his death.
Holder’s promise came in a telephone call with the family of 18-year-old Michael Brown. A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that Holder spoke to the Brown family while they visited the U.S. attorney’s office in Missouri. The official was not authorized to be identified by name and requested anonymity to discuss Holder’s call.
Brown was shot by a police officer on Saturday in Ferguson, Missouri. The St. Louis suburb is 70 percent black but is patrolled by a nearly all-white police force. Protests have followed the incident, some of them violent and involving clashes between demonstrators and police in riot gear.
In his call to the Brown family, Holder expressed his personal condolences for the teenager’s death and said that the Justice Department was investigating.
Earlier Thursday, Holder said in a statement that says he’s concerned that the use of military equipment by police in Ferguson was sending a “conflicting message” and that the response by law enforcement to protests “must seek to reduce tensions, not heighten them.”
Ferguson law enforcement authorities accepted the Justice Department’s offer of crowd-control help as it continued to investigate the shooting, Holder said. Representatives from the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service, which works to mediate race disputes, has been sent to Missouri.
The FBI and Justice Department were conducting a civil rights investigation into the shooting. Holder said eyewitnesses had already been interviewed.
The post Attorney General Holder promises Brown family a full investigation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Communities across the country gathered in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old who was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 10.
A crowd gathered at Meridian Hill Park in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C., Thursday night to honor what organizers describe as victims of police brutality.
Attendees’ signs read “Don’t shoot,” reportedly the last words Brown said before he died.
Other signs read “Film the police” and “Stop the purge of black lives.”
Demonstrators read the names of people of color who have died by police followed by a moment of silence.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 15, 2014
Speakers in D.C. urged the group to organize to work for change.
“We cannot surrender ourselves to a system that has never cared,” one woman said to the crowd.
The vigil became a peaceful protest as a group marched from the park to the Smithsonian, chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot.” Police drove alongside the protest.
The event follows a week of protests and unrest after police shot and killed Brown. The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting.
Protests heated up Wednesday in Ferguson as police used tear gas and smoke bombs against protesters and arrested two reporters.
On Thursday afternoon President Obama called for calm among protesters and police.
“Now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson,” Obama said. “Now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done.”
The post Inspired by Ferguson, groups across country hold vigils for victims of police brutality appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
In a press conference Friday morning, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson identified Darren Wilson as the officer who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown on August 9. Jackson also released documents that claim Brown was killed following a robbery, in which he was suspected of stealing a box of cigars from a convenience store.
The Associated Press reported that some members of the Ferguson, Missouri, community who gathered to watch the press conference responded to the report of the robbery with anger and incredulity. Brown’s uncle, Bernard Ewing, also questioned whether Wilson truly suspected his nephew of the robbery, adding that, even if Wilson did believe Mr. Brown stole the cigars: “It still doesn’t justify shooting him when he puts his hands up. You still don’t shoot him in the face.”
“Because he was unarmed at the time of the shooting … we don’t even really need to know whether he had any sort of criminal background,” said Stacia Brown of ColorLines, in a conversation Thursday with the PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan about the social media response to the shooting.
Many have turned to Facebook and Twitter to criticize the mainstream media’s coverage of the shooting, and in particular the use of photos that make the 18-year-old victim appear threatening.
Social media has changed the conversation on issues of race and justice, according to Stacia Brown (no relation to Michael Brown). She claims that the visual nature of platforms such as Twitter allows users to document instances of racism and injustice, providing evidence that such incidents occur more often than mainstream media coverage might suggest.
Brown says the accessibility of the internet empowers individuals to speak out, while its anonymity emboldens them to share experiences they may not be comfortable sharing with their immediate community.
“Social media is a great way to amplify voices that would not otherwise be amplified.”
View PBS NewsHour’s complete coverage of situation in Ferguson, Missouri, on our YouTube channel:
The post How has social media changed the way we talk about race and justice? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
ZACHARY GREEN: When we think of the word “genius”, we may think of towering figures like Shakespeare or Isaac Newton—or of seminal works of art, like Handel’s “Messiah” or the Indian epic, the Bhaghavad Gita. Now these works and dozens of others can all be seen in one room.
They’re part of a new exhibition called “Marks of Genius”, which is on display at the Morgan Library in New York City until September 28th. On loan from the Bodleian Library at Oxford University in England, the exhibit features priceless manuscripts and artifacts: a copy of the First Folio of Shakespeare. Fragments containing the work of the Greek poetess, Sappho. A 12th century Arabic manuscript on the constellations. Even a copy of the Magna Carta. All of them intended to reflect the idea of genius throughout world history.
JOHN MCQUILLEN: The sort of inspiration or genius of creation goes across all formats, all levels of human creativity. So you’re able to see that through putting a printed book from the 20th century next to a medieval manuscript from the 15th. Through something from Western Europe next to something from Persia.
ZACHARY GREEN: John McQuillen is the curator in charge of the “Marks of Genius” exhibition at the Morgan Library. An expert in medieval art history, McQuillen has also had to familiarize himself with the nearly 60 pieces from different time periods and from all over the world.
McQuillen says that one of the exhibition’s goals is to challenge some of the more modern ideas about what genius is and who possesses it.
JOHN MCQUILLEN: In Western civilization over the centuries– genius did become something that was– a divine gift given to only a few. But I think now we are sort of returning to an idea that– everyone is capable of this and that genius is something that we all possess, whether we– it comes to fruition and we show it or not.
And it now even could be getting a little bit overused. “This book is genius. This blog is genius. This Facebook post is genius.”
ZACHARY GREEN: I mean, a that’s kind of like a democratization of the–
JOHN MCQUILLEN: Yes–
ZACHARY GREEN: –word genius, this idea that it’s a quality that everybody possesses in one form or another. But you can also look at an exhibition like this and say, “Everyone might have a spark of genius within them, but these are the works that we’ve kind of chosen to, to set up on high as the–the truer works of genius.”
JOHN MCQUILLEN: I think some of it is completely by chance, what we decide is a work of genius and what is not. I think part of what genius is that there is an afterlife to it. You have created, or made something, written something that has an impact, that has influence even for ten years, 50 years– 500 years, 1,000 years. If it still speaks to generations later, they might consider it an act of genius.
ZACHARY GREEN: So genius in that sense isn’t necessarily linked to your IQ score or how well you do in school.
JOHN MCQUILLEN: Yeah. We tend now to sort of think of genius as– kind of a synonym for Einstein– as just someone who was brilliant usually in math or science. But you have aspects of artistic and literary genius, genius in problem solving, in fashion design–choices that are inspired somehow that you can equate to being a mark of genius.
ZACHARY GREEN: McQuillen says that one way of discovering how genius is inspired is by going back to an original source—such as the pieces in the exhibition. And one thing they show is that genius is not always created in a vacuum. Take this original handwritten manuscript of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”.
McQuillen says that its backstory shows how genius is often the product of place and circumstance. The novel might not even exist, were it not for a vacation in Switzerland that Mary Shelley took in 1816 with her future husband, the poet, Percy Shelley, and their friend, Lord Byron.
JOHN MCQUILLEN: Lord Byron proposed that they have a competition to write the best ghost story, one evening, Byron and Shelley were having a conversation about the reanimation of people and if you can bring something or someone back to life.
And after that, she had a very sleepless night and this sort of waking dream, where she saw Dr. Frankenstein with this creation. And from this sort of vision, she, you know, had the idea for the novel, “Frankenstein”.
ZACHARY GREEN: Since the story’s conception, “Frankenstein” has been popularized in many different forms—including multiple film adaptations.
DR. FRANKENSTEIN: It’s alive! It’s alive! It’s alive!
ZACHARY GREEN: But what appeared on screen was not necessarily what Mary Shelley originally envisioned. In fact, her companions’ influence went beyond the inspiration for the story we all know today.
DR. FRANKENSTEIN: It’s alive!
ZACHARY GREEN: As the manuscript at the Morgan’s exhibition shows us, Mary’s lover, Percy Shelley, helped to edit her novel. One alteration he made, in particular, stands out.
JOHN MCQUILLEN: One of the main things that he did change was the last sentence of the work.
ZACHARY GREEN: The last sentence of “Frankenstein”—
JOHN MCQUILLEN: The last sentence. He—he had to get that in. The way Mary wrote it, the Creature—Dr. Frankenstein’s creation—leaps from a ship onto an ice flow and pushes away from the ship and sort of sails off into the distance. But you’re left with this idea that he is going on to live somewhere else.
In Percy Shelley’s revision of that, the Creature jumps off onto the ice flow and the ice flow takes him away, but you’re left really unsure whether the Creature is alive or dead, and he just falls off into the darkness. So that’s really one of the major changes in how that novel ends and what happens to the creature.
ZACHARY GREEN: McQuillen says that this story is indicative of the way that the Shelleys and many artists and thinkers throughout history have influenced each other.
ZACHARY GREEN: So, this idea of genius, sitting alone in a room, working furiously—not necessarily true in all cases—
JOHN MCQUILLEN: No, I think, uh, genius always needs a little bit of help.
ZACHARY GREEN: McQuillen says that details like this might make the process of genius more understandable—and help all the rest of us appreciate it.
The post Beyond Einstein: Exhibit challenges scope of genius appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
An ambitious new initiative across the U.S. is sneaking works of American art into subways, onto billboards and the sides of buses, and into view for a greater audience, without charging admission.
The Art Everywhere U.S. project was organized by five American museums — the Art Institute of Chicago, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York — in collaboration with the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. It was inspired by a similar public art program that launched in the United Kingdom in July.
Dubbed the “world’s largest outdoor art show,” it includes as many as 50,000 digital and static displays in all 50 states. The installations feature 58 different classic and contemporary works of American art spanning 230 years that were selected by the public in an online vote this past spring. They range from Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” (the top vote-winner) and Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Can,” to Mary Cassatt’s “The Boating Party” and Grant Wood’s “American Gothic”.
— Art Institute (@artinstitutechi) August 5, 2014
Maxwell L. Anderson, the Eugene McDermott director of the Dallas Museum of Art, hailed the project.
“A vast new audience is now starting to encounter masterpieces of American art, free of charge, as part of their everyday landscape,” Anderson said. “In many ways, American art tells the story of our country.”
“It is a project that situates extraordinary images by great American artists in the unique cultural landscape that is the United States,” said Donna De Salvo, the chief curator and deputy director for programs at the Whitney Museum of American Art. “It’s always exciting to think about encountering art in the course of everyday life, whether inside or outside.”
Rebecca Baldwin is the director of public affairs at the Art Institute of Chicago, home to a dozen of the pieces included in “Art Everywhere.” Baldwin says the project uniquely seeks to “put America’s artistic heritage out in the public sphere, mak(ing) it easier for people to view great art even when they don’t have a great museum close by.” She added, “we’ve just gotten very consistent enthusiasm for the idea of taking it outside of the museum.”
The artwork is on display now through August 31. Visit the project’s interactive map to learn where to spot “Art Everywhere” masterpieces near you. The campaign is also encouraging people to post images of the displays in their communities using the hashtag #ArtEverywhereUS.
View more displays from the Art Everywhere initiative below:
— Hilary-Morgan Watt (@bluelikechagall) August 11, 2014
— Nancy Fletcher (@nfletcherOAAA) August 9, 2014
— Harvard Art Museums (@harvartmuseums) August 6, 2014
— Piper Severance (@PSPublicSquare) August 9, 2014
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In Gwen Ifill’s column Friday, “The optics of a national crisis,” she writes about how national events become remembered by the images that define them.
Twitter and Vine, she said, “were consumed this week with videos of tear gas, arrests and college students with their hands raised over their heads. Sen. Claire McCaskill realized the power of optics when she got herself to a black church in Ferguson to speak to her constituents about the violence breaking out all around them.”
Here are some of the images from Ferguson, Missouri, this week.
On Friday morning, people gathered in the lot of the Quick Trip gas station — which was burned during rioting — as Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson released the name of the Ferguson police officer responsible for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9.
Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the police department, is the officer being investigated in Brown’s death, Jackson said on Friday, breaking a weeklong silence on the officer’s identity.
Jackson also said that Michael Brown was believed to have been involved in a robbery at a nearby convenience store earlier that day, though he later added that he Wilson was likely not aware of the alleged robbery.
This announcement came after days of demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, and a police response that included shooting rubber bullets and firing tear gas to force protesters from Ferguson’s business district into nearby neighborhoods. In this photo, an Al Jazeera television crew scrambles for cover as police fire tear gas into their reporting location.
And here a child uses a rag to shield her face from tear gas being fired by police.
The events in Ferguson have drawn attention to the degree in which local police are becoming more heavily armed. For days, police in the St. Louis suburb carried assault rifles and ammunition…
…and wore camouflage, helmets and riot gear.
Protesters responded with arms raised, chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” words that have become symbolic of this week’s events.
President Barack Obama, wearing an American flag pin, called for peace and calm during a press briefing Thursday afternoon while on vacation with his family on Martha’s Vineyard.
And later that day, Capt. Ronald Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, who was appointed by the governor to take control of protest security operations in the city of Ferguson, also pleaded for calm.
The atmosphere in Ferguson changed on Thursday after police toned down their response to demonstrators. In a symbolic move, officers — including Johnson — marched alongside protesters.
Meanwhile, crowds rallied in other cities, including New York, Washington, D.C., and Boston. In a rally in Boston on Thursday, Camila Carpio, 18, held a sign with names of people killed by police officers.
And in Baltimore on Thursday, Amelia Vitek, 6, watches protestors and signs outside of the Clarence Mitchell Jr. Courthouse.
The post A look back at the week’s events in Ferguson in photos appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The violence in Ferguson, Missouri abated overnight, and, today, the focus returned to Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager killed by police seven days ago.
The Ferguson police chief made the announcement that many in the town had demanded, after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead last Saturday.
THOMAS JACKSON, Chief, Ferguson Police Department: The officer that was involved in the shooting of Michael Brown was Darren Wilson. He’s been a police officer for six years, has had no — no disciplinary action taken against him. He was treated for injuries which occurred on Saturday.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Wilson has been on administrative leave since the shooting. Police said he initially confronted Brown about walking down the middle of a street, but Wilson didn’t know that Brown was a suspect in a robbery.
They released this security video from a convenience store and said it apparently shows Brown, in the red baseball cap, and a friend stealing a box of cigars and pushing away a clerk. A lawyer for the friend told MSNBC today that he confirmed the theft to investigators.
Later, an attorney for Brown’s family acknowledged the man in the video appears to be Brown, but that police are trying to divert attention from an unjustified shooting.
DARYL PARKS, Lawyer for victim’s family: We heard from the chief. And we believe that, certainly, that the rest of the world sees it for what it was worth, that the pictures that were released and the video has nothing to do with what happened and how he was killed on that day. That’s very important, that people understand that and see it for what it’s worth.
GOV. JAY NIXON, D, Mo.: Nothing should deter figuring out how and why Michael Brown was killed.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Governor Jay Nixon was in Ferguson today and also cautioned against jumping to conclusions.
GOV. JAY NIXON: There’s a lot of steps between now and when justice is served. And there are going to be a lot of other bounces along the way, and there will be a lot of tension at various times. New facts are out that weren’t out yesterday. But those are not the full picture of anything.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Yesterday, the governor put the state Highway Patrol in charge of security in Ferguson after several nights of violence. Local police were heavily criticized for a heavy-handed use of force Wednesday night, including tear gas, smoke grenades, heavy weapons and military-style vehicles.
The change last night was dramatic. The atmosphere was even festive at times, with a greatly reduced police presence and no arrests. Crowds welcomed Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, who grew up in the community. He marched with demonstrators, as a small number of state troopers patrolled.
Today, he appealed for continued calm.
RON JOHNSON, Captain, Missouri State Highway Patrol: What I don’t want is us to go down and burn our own neighborhood. What point — that doesn’t prove a point. That doesn’t solve issues. That hurts this community and that’s what I don’t want.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The violence of the previous night prompted vigils around the country last evening, and demands for justice.
SHANNON TUZZIO: I don’t care if you have a badge or not. Everyone needs to be treating everyone else equally and to be tried equally for murder.
ED DORSEY, NAACP-Carbondale, Illinois: We call for calm. But we want a full and impartial investigation. We want the facts to be known. And we want to learn from this so that we can stop the violence.
PROTESTERS: Hands up! Don’t shoot! Hands up! Don’t shoot!
HARI SREENIVASAN: From New York City to Los Angeles, thousands of people also staged marches in solidarity with the people of Ferguson.
We will return to the Ferguson story and the issue of policing in minority communities after the news summary.
The man chosen to be Iraq’s new prime minister appealed for unity today. Haider al-Abadi urged his fellow Shiites as well as Sunnis and Kurds to join against the threat posed by Islamic State militants. The political stalemate was broken yesterday when Nouri al-Maliki stepped down as prime minister and endorsed Abadi.
In Ukraine, reports of a military clash with Russia fueled new tensions today.
Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News filed this report.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Russian armored vehicles at the border into Ukraine, they seem to have stopped at the customs point. One convoy reportedly crossed overnight and a much larger one today. It’s the first overt Russian incursion after months of arming pro-Russian separatists. But the Kremlin is still denying that its forces have gone over the border.
In Kiev, the Ukrainian president was visiting soldiers who’d been captured and then released by the separatists. In a phone call with the British prime minister, he claimed that Ukrainian artillery had destroyed much of the Russian armor. His defense spokesman said they’d allowed the column in before attacking. But there’s no independent confirmation.
ANDRIY LYSENKO, Spokesman, Ukraine National Security Council (through interpreter): I have to reassure you this column was followed. It was always under the surveillance of our reconnaissance forces. Appropriate actions were undertaken, and a part of it no longer exists.
LINDSEY HILSUM: For several days now, Russia has been trumpeting the progress of a 280-vehicle convoy carrying aid from Moscow supposedly for civilians in Eastern Ukraine. It’s bringing much-needed food and other supplies. But the trucks are military green covered in white tarpaulins. Some are almost empty.
And the self-proclaimed volunteers are all young men of military age in identical khaki shorts. At least one was sporting a military tattoo. And they appear to have top cover.
The Ukrainian government says the Russia aid won’t be allowed to cross the border unless it’s inspected and distributed by the Red Cross. President Putin was meeting his Finnish counterpart today, talking about trade and sanctions. Russian and Ukrainian officials also met today and further talks are scheduled for Sunday, a chance to pull back from the brink.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Russia’s Defense Ministry later denied there’d been any military clash with Ukrainian forces.
Supporters and opponents of Pakistan’s government clashed today as thousands of protesters converged on the capital. A mob attacked the convoy of Imran Khan in Gujranwala. The opposition figure is leading supporters from Lahore to Islamabad. Khan said people threw stones at the convoy as it drove past, and a spokeswoman said his vehicle was shot at. Police disputed that account.
The death toll from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has risen again, to 1145. U.N. health officials report 76 new deaths in the two days between Monday and Wednesday. In all, there have been more than 2,100 cases in four countries, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
The governing body of stock car racing will bar drivers from getting out of their cars after accidents. NASCAR’s decision follows last Saturday’s fatality during a dirt track race in New York State. Driver Kevin Ward jumped from his car after his car and Tony Stewart’s collided. On the next lap, Stewart’s car struck and killed him. The incident remains under investigation.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 50 points to close below 16,663. The Nasdaq rose nearly 12 points to close near 4,465. And the S&P 500 was down a fraction at 1,955. For the week, the Dow gained seven-tenths of a percent. The Nasdaq rose more than 1 percent. The S&P was up more than 2 percent.
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SeaWorld will build bigger and better environments for killer whales, the star attraction of the marine amusement park chain, the company said Friday. SeaWorld asserts the changes have nothing to do with animal cruelty allegations made by 2013 documentary “Blackfish.”
The Florida-based SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., claims that within four years the San Diego park will have doubled the size of its current tank. It will be enhanced to also include a “fast water current,” simulating a more natural environment. Adjustments at their other locations, namely Orlando and San Antonio, will come later.
“Blackfish” suggests that SeaWorld’s facilities and showcase program make killer whales unpredictably violent, and seeks to explain the death of multiple trainers.
The bad publicity led to proposed legislation in California that would ban the whales’ being used in commercial entertainment. It also brought about a dissolve in SeaWorld’s 26-year partnership with Southwest airlines, finalized in July, which stemmed from a 30,000-signature petition.
The Company has also pledged $10 million in research funds, vowing to focus on their threat status in the wild. Former trainer Mark Simmons lauded the move, claiming “I think it’s an enhancement, an obvious evolution of SeaWorld’s mission.”
SeaWorld Entertainment, which went public in 2012, announced a 33 percent plunge in the value of its shares on Wednesday.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Over the past week in Ferguson, there have been very different police and community reactions. One issue it has highlighted is the problems raised when police forces don’t reflect the racial makeup of their communities.Jeffrey Brown examines that angle for us tonight.
JEFFREY BROWN: The city of Ferguson, with a population of 21,000, is more than two-thirds African-American, but just three of its 53 police officers are black. It’s a factor in other communities across the country as well.
And we explore the issue Tracie Keesee, the co-founder of the UCLA Center for Policing Equity. She’s also a 25-year veteran of the Denver Police Department. And Commander Malik Aziz, chairman of the national black police association. He is deputy chief of the Dallas Police Department and has 23 years experience in law enforcement.
Tracie Keesee, let me start with you. And I do want to start with a question about today’s news, because there’s still a lot of confusion and even anger over the issue of when the officer involved in the shooting was named and the release of the video of Michael Brown.
What’s your reaction to that today?
TRACIE KEESEE, UCLA Center for Policing Equity: Well, I think there is a couple of things going on here.
First of all, if you want to have the trust of the community, transparency is always going to be key. And the faster you can get information out to the community is going to be helpful.
I think, in addition to that, you have to balance the safety of the officer at the time, before we knew his name, to make sure that they were safe, and he was receiving threats. But I think you also have to that balance, but I think you also have to be mindful of the community that you serve and that they really deserve to hear who is involved in what and what’s going on with in the investigation.
JEFFREY BROWN: Malik Aziz, is there one protocol to follow in cases like this? Do you think the information, both the name and the video, should have come out sooner?
MALIK AZIZ, National Black Police Association: I definitely believe that the name should have been released early on.
There are certain things you have to keep in mind. You want the officer to be safe. You don’t want another tragedy to follow a seemingly tragedy here that — what occurred in Ferguson. So there are no real policies that govern police departments across the nation, which proves to be the inadequacy of many police departments to develop a protocol for releasing names, and usually it just goes by the atmosphere that has been created.
In this particular case, I think it was exacerbated by the failure to release the names and be open and transparent, as they should have.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Tracie Keesee, to this larger issue of the — of police forces that don’t reflect their communities, how serious an issue is it and why do you think it occurs?
TRACIE KEESEE: Well, it’s always going to be a serious situation as far as diversifying organizations, because the pool of folks to choose from in communities of color are often dwindled by whatever hiring practices are put in place in other, you know, departments.
And that’s just a small part of it, though. When you look at what is going on in Ferguson — and I can only speak to myself and my own experience — and the concern that community members have about how they’re going to be treated, the concerns about what does that do to the person that comes on to a police department and they don’t feel comfortable in a police department that is biased or has racist tendency, it’s very hard to recruit from that perspective, and not just once you recruit them, once you retain them.
And what we’re seeing in Ferguson, early on, you saw policy decisions, the decision to bring out heavy armor, the decision to have folks on the street. Those are policy decisions that if you don’t have diversity in the ranks of command staff that can give some insight to decisions being made, oftentimes, this is the result.
So it’s not just about, how do you recruit? You have to have a big pool to recruit from, but you also — also have to be honest with those folks you’re recruiting what that experience inside the organization is going to be for them, especially if there’s only two of you or let alone one of you.
JEFFREY BROWN: Malik Aziz, in Ferguson — as we saw in our earlier report Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson was brought in to oversee the situation. He’s from the area. He’s black.
It seemed to have helped, at least in the short-term. Is that a kind of solution that you think has promise, or what else needs to be done?
MALIK AZIZ: Well, I applaud them for the decision, but it is just a short-term solution. It’s not a long-term solution.
The long-term solution is for Ferguson and places like Ferguson to actually diversify their police departments. And a 53-person police department in a city that’s 65 percent to 70 percent black, and yet they fail to meet the demographics and reflect or mirror the community in which they serve.
What it appears to be are people who are culturally disconnected which — the communities in which they serve, so, therefore, the result is the response that was given when you have a policy that you’re not open or you’re not transparent. Therefore, you’re not accountable.
If Ferguson, Missouri, actually wants to resolve some of the issues and have a viable solution, then they would look at the policies that govern or surround the admission policies that are seemingly so subjective in places like Ferguson, that they would be able to pull from — tough enough job recruiting, but they would be able to look into the pool of candidates who reside in the city and be able to formulate a recruitment plan to give people jobs in the neighborhoods in which they serve.
And they have failed at that, and many departments fail at that. It doesn’t take the rocket science to look at the numbers and demographics and come to a conclusion that it is dominated by one group, and the group that is the majority on the other — opposite side of the fence. They have no vested interest, equity in the city that they serve.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Tracie Keesee, I know you work with police forces around the country. Are there examples where this is done better either through recruitment or through reaching out to the communities to avoid this kind of tension?
TRACIE KEESEE: Well, it depends on the community. If you have a good pool to draw from, there’s always going to be good examples of how you can engage.
And, as I stated before, if the relationship is strong and you have good trust and you have transparency, recruitment is not hard. So it really varies. In some areas, you don’t have that pool to choose from, so you would end up bringing in outsiders, which sometimes helps and sometimes makes the situation worse, especially when you’re not vested in a community, much like Captain Johnson is because he’s from that community.
So is there really one good way to do it? No. There isn’t really one good way to do it. What it requires, though, are command staff and hiring civil service organizations and the community to sit down and decide, what, one, does a good officer look like and how do they serve in an honorable way and have empathy for the community in which they serve?
And I think, going forward, these are part of the conversations that you’re going to start seeing, is, what does this look like? How do we not just recruit? How do we retain? Because, to me, it’s not getting them through the door. It’s retaining them and it’s promoting them and making sure that they have a voice and a say in policy development.
JEFFREY BROWN: Just very briefly, Malik Aziz, do you expect some lessons to be drawn from Ferguson on this wider issue?
MALIK AZIZ: Oh, yes, definitely, because I just believe that there~ are many Johnsons in that neighborhood waiting for an opportunity to serve their community. And they’re not given chances, based on subjective policy.
I think the lessons that will be learned in Ferguson should be used as a microcosm around the United States and places just like it, that this is not how you respond. You respond with transparency. You respond with openness and accountability. And you enable policies that believe in community engagement and a real proactive partnership that would quell incidents like this.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Malik Aziz, Tracie Keesee, thank you both so much.
TRACIE KEESEE: Thank you.
MALIK AZIZ: Thank you so much for having us.
The post Why it’s so difficult to retain a diverse police force appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: This week saw dramatic developments at home and abroad, with tensions rising in Missouri, in Iraq, and among politicians.To wrap it all up, the analysis of Brooks and Marcus. That’s New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus. Mark Shields is away.
So, let’s first talk about Ferguson, the thing that everybody in the country is talking about.
Dan Balz in “The Washington Post” this morning led with a story that was kind of interesting, that there’s almost this — a conversation that is happening between libertarians and liberals, agreeing on this particular issue. Rand Paul took out a column in “TIME” magazine yesterday about it.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
Well, first on this last point about Ferguson, Megan McArdle had an interesting piece in Bloomberg View pointing out the demographics of Ferguson have shifted radically. It was a couple decades ago three-quarters white. Then it became nearly three-quarters black.
And sometimes the hiring practices, it’s, you hire your friend, you hire your brother in the cops. And so they just didn’t keep up with this amazing population inversion that happened there.
As for the larger political thing, it’s almost unanimous. You look across left, right and center, people think it’s overreacting what happened in the nights subsequently. And that’s, a libertarian suspicion of really forceful and violent government. Liberals tend to I guess be suspicious of police power, especially against minority communities.
But for conservatives and especially traditional conservatives, there’s a community thing going on here. The traditional conservatives, led by a thinker named James Q. Wilson, many years ago, was to believe in community policing, getting cops out of cop cars and actually interacting with the locals.
And so that’s the traditional conservative position, that you don’t want to erect walls. You certainly don’t want to militarize things. You want to have an organic relationship between the community and the police force, and that clearly was ruptured here.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Is it…
RUTH MARCUS: Well — I’m sorry.
But it’s really been fascinating, and I thought really one of the most interesting pieces this week was Rand Paul’s piece on TIME.com, where if you had not looked at the byline, you might have thought it was written by the Reverend Al Sharpton, because he was so anti-police.
And you think back. We have been talking a lot about Missouri Governor Jay Nixon this week. But you think back to Richard Nixon and the tough-on-crime strain of the Republican Party, which stood in such good stead for so long. In fact, it was copied by Democrats like Bill Clinton who tried to show themselves to be tough on crime.
And so I think that to the extent there is this blurring of kind of liberal-libertarian lines, it’s a piece of a very interesting strain within the party. And I think you are a little bit underselling it, David, because there is this tough-on-crime aspect to your party.
And so for this, this Rand Paul — it’s…
DAVID BROOKS: My party.
RUTH MARCUS: I’m sorry. I’ll take that back.
RUTH MARCUS: You know, when we’re done, we can hug it out.
HARI SREENIVASAN: We will get to that in a minute. All right.
RUTH MARCUS: But in any event, Rand Paul’s views on things like marijuana legalization, on same-sex marriage, on other issues that might attract, bring — not to David’s party, but to the Republican Party, to attract some younger voters, I think is a very interesting thing that my colleague Dan Balz did point out in The Washington Post this morning.
DAVID BROOKS: I would just say, Mr. Republican, I have my mace and my shield and my armored vehicle afterwards.
DAVID BROOKS: You look at Rudy Giuliani, and part of what they initiated there was, A, community policing, B, the broken windows stuff, which meant you do the small stuff, and that way, you prevent the big things later on.
And I do think that has been Republican police policy.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Well, was that an effective policy? Did broken windows actually…
DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think, certainly, if you remember — go back to early Giuliani, they were getting rid of the squeegee guys. Remember, there were guys who would come out and want to squeegee your window and then demand money.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Right.
DAVID BROOKS: It was turnstile hoppers. And it was taking care of the small stuff as a way of preventing the big crimes. And I think that was completely vindicated. But it’s a model, in any case, for any sort of police force like the one we have just seen in Ferguson, which is the big, heavy, militaristic approach, as we have seen, is completely contradictory to sort of calm civil order and law and order.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Right. So, we know that certain authorities might have overstepped their bounds and been heavy-handed, but what about the state government, what about the federal government? What was their role? How would you grade them?
RUTH MARCUS: Well, the state government, in the form of Governor Nixon, very poorly.
He has been talked about a little bit as a potential national political figure. I think not. I think, if you want to nominate a national political figure as of this week, it would be Captain Johnson from the state police, who really came in and did exactly what you want a politician/public figure to do, which is to be a voice of calm and reason.
Governor Nixon was just late to the game. His state looked like it was a battlefield in Iraq or some terrible war zone someplace. He should have been in there getting the — getting these terrible SWAT team-type forces off the street, bring some calm earlier.
He sounded whiny, I thought, at the press conference today. I thought the president played a good role, a positive role in terms of not attacking the police, but expressing the horror that everybody feels about an unarmed young man being shot for no apparent reason that we have heard of yet, without going too far in prejudging the thing.
And — but I do think there is one interesting thing is wrapped up in something that David said about the federal government role. There’s a really important role here that we’re going to see going forward in terms of the Justice Department investigating this as a potential civil rights violation.
But the thing that is so fascinating is that, even though we have Justice Department investigating issues of police brutality, we also have the Justice Department and the federal government supplying these military-type, military-grade, actual military weapons as part of — it started in the war on drugs, but now it has turned into part of the war on terror.
I was reading today about the police department in Keene, New Hampshire, that had some sort of armored vehicle to protect against the threat of terrorism at the pumpkin festival.
RUTH MARCUS: And I was at the — I happened to be at the Keene pumpkin festival this year. It was lovely, but didn’t feel a great threat of terrorism.
I think, if one good thing comes out of this week, it’s going to be to dial back this militarization of police forces that would do much better off worrying about broken windows.
DAVID BROOKS: I hope there is somebody in my paper investigating why the militarization happened. Were there contracts involved, somebody was getting — making a lot of money selling this equipment to police forces?
HARI SREENIVASAN: We spoke to that guy yesterday on the program.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
And was it just people wanting to be all hyped with new toys?
RUTH MARCUS: Well, boys with toys are a dangerous thing, I’m sorry to say.
HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.
DAVID BROOKS: My party, my gender. It’s getting ugly.
RUTH MARCUS: It is ugly, but then there’s the hugs.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Do you think that — do you think that President Obama is in a difficult position because he carries the burden of being the first African-American president on, he’s criticized if he overreacts, he’s criticized if he doesn’t react enough?
DAVID BROOKS: I’m with Ruth on the way he has handled this.
I think he has a good record in general — with a couple exceptions of — not grandstanding, of saying what he needs to say, but not making it a theater about himself. And I do think — and I can think of — there have been several times where he had a little restraint about that. And I think he showed the proper restraint this time.
HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.
Let’s shift gears to Iraq. There are several layers of this conversation, first, the political situation, where Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki seemed to have defused some things by deciding to leave.
RUTH MARCUS: Finally.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Finally.
And then there was also the humanitarian crisis that caught so much of our attention, the Yazidis on the mountain. Was the administration’s position enough when it came to the path that we have taken and perhaps will take in that matter?
RUTH MARCUS: Well, it expends on what the meaning of enough is.
This was what passed for a good week in Iraq, especially for the administration, but that’s not saying very much. So the president and the military did the right thing with this humanitarian intervention. It seems to have been a less dire situation than was thought, didn’t require even more intensive intervention.
And so that’s a good thing and that’s the kind of thing that the United States should do when it can. Getting rid of Maliki was necessary, belated. We never should have supported him. The administration should never have supported him going in there in the first place.
The next guy, we just have to hope will be a little bit more open and inclusive, because, otherwise, the country will not be able to stay together. That being said, so this is a good week in Iraq. A good week in Iraq is not a good week, because there is still the fundamental problem that the president, the administration and the country faces, which is that we have seen the spread of this Islamic State, with fighters that are not just wanting to establish a caliphate.
They are threatening, at least according to the attorney general, to send dangerous terrorists to Europe and to the United States, exactly the kind of thing that we were trying to prevent after 9/11. What the administration’s plan is for that, that’s a lot harder to figure out than some pinpoint airstrikes to drop humanitarian supplies on a mountain.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, I thought they were going to send in Hillary Clinton and the Rough Riders up to take the hill. She’s eager.
I do think what happened this week is that a greater U.S. role in Iraq became more likely. And, first, what we did militarily, the drops and the bombings had an effect, a positive effect. They worked. Second, we have a government — and this was always Obama’s precondition for U.S. support and involvement — we now have a government that at least in theory will be — has the potential to be a unitary government.
And that was his precondition for doing more stuff to turn back the caliphate, which we just simply have to do. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be sending 500,000 troops. But I do think the president is going to be dragged where he doesn’t want to be, which is just to be more and more involved in Iraq, because the idea of having a transnational caliphate there is a cancer. It will just spread. And I think there’s sort of global agreement on that.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And both of you have made references to Hillary Clinton and the interview that she gave to “The Atlantic” last week.
And you saw kind of a divergence in foreign policy ideas between her and the president, while she went out of her way to make sure that she wasn’t disrespect to the president, but that was the reason for them to have to hug it out.
RUTH MARCUS: First of all, I thought it was a terrific interview by our friend and colleague Jeffrey Goldberg.
I do think — and how shocking is this — that some of the differences between and the degree to which she was supposedly dissing the president has been slightly exaggerated. Now, the political reporter in me wants to say, duh. Hillary Clinton is a big girl. She is an experienced politician. She should have known that that was going to happen and be careful accordingly.
I was very — it’s — two things are clear. She’s got a lot of respect for the president’s foreign policy. She talked about how not doing stupid stuff is not a foreign policy, but she also was very clear to say, if you read the entirety of the interview, that she knows that that’s not the entirety of his foreign policy.
It’s also simultaneously clear — and this goes back to the Iraq conversation that we were just having — that she is a more leaner-in, has a more muscular view of what America’s role in the world needs to be.
And I think the question that is going to need to be asked going forward isn’t just what we should have done with the status of forces agreement in Iraq or what we should have done with arming the Syrian rebels, but what we’re going to do now and what the next president imagines we are going to do now with this ISIS state.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
I thought it was a substantive agreement — a substantive disagreement. And so I don’t think it was just she has some — tremendous respect. I do think the Clinton policy is, she is a more Truman, John F. Kennedy style of Democrat. And the Clinton people around Washington have certainly in private been very critical of the Obama foreign policy over the last two or three years, very critical.
And so she is not only more of a leaner-in. She has a much more aggressive faith in American — use of American force. President Obama has much less faith, sometimes does it, but really has to be dragged kicking and screaming.
So, the calibration seemed to me substantively different. And it came out honestly in that interview. And we saw it in 2008. We saw it when they were in the Senate. They’re just different and they think differently about it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, David Brooks, Ruth Marcus, thanks so much.
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President Barack Obama has called for peace and calm in Ferguson, Missouri, the St. Louis suburb where an unarmed black teenager was fatally shot over the weekend by a white police officer. Obama has been involved in other high-profile cases with racial overtones: the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watchman and the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates.
In the wake of the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, police from multiple departments in riot gear and with military equipment have clashed with protesters nightly. In his first public comments on the case, Obama said there is “never an excuse” for violence against police and similarly “no excuse” for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to jail protesters for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.
After the unarmed teenager was shot on a rainy night in February 2012 in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, Obama said “this could have been my son.” A jury acquitted neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman of all charges in the shooting of 17-year-old. Obama said after the verdict that “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” The case led Obama to deliver an extensive reflection on race that was all the more notable because it came from a president who largely has avoided tackling the issue, even as he is dogged by it.
Henry Louis Gates
In July 2009 Obama said police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, had “acted stupidly” by arresting the black Harvard professor in his own home after investigating a reported burglary. Amid criticism from police officers and others, Obama said he should have used different words. He then brought Gates and the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, who is white, to the White House for a beer in the Rose Garden.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: It was a century ago today when the Panama Canal first opened, the completion of an enormous engineering feat that helped grow American commerce and transform global trade.Since then, ships have transported eight billion tons of cargo from there, but the waterway’s history is a complicated one, filled with its share of tragedy and political tensions.
Gwen Ifill gets perspective on its impact in a conversation recorded earlier this week, but first her look back at what it took to get the Panama Canal built.
GWEN IFILL: From shipping vessels to cruise liners to luxury yachts, over a million ships have passed through the Isthmus of Panama since its canal opened on August 15, 1914. Spanning a strip of mountainous land between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the canal is a conduit for business and sea power, shortening the trip from New York to San Francisco by nearly 8,000 miles.
The triumph of engineering, man’s harnessing of water and moving of mountains, took over 30 years to complete.
KIM STEENTOFT, Ship captain: It’s a huge achievement they made when they produced 100 years back. If you think about the locks are nearly the same today, and it’s what they built 100 years back, it’s a huge achievement.
GWEN IFILL: The French broke ground on the project in 1881. But soaring costs, engineering problems, and a steep death toll from yellow fever estimated at 22,000 people ended French involvement.
But where the French saw failure, President Theodore Roosevelt saw opportunity, a chance to unlock America’s economic power. In 1903, Panama gained independence from Columbia, with U.S. support. In return for Washington’s backing and recognition, the new government surrendered sovereignty over a portion of the country that would become known as the Canal Zone.
The U.S. officially took over in 1904, but yellow fever, one of the major hurdles to the project’s success, remained. It wasn’t until Dr. Colonel William Gorgas targeted mosquitoes that health officials gained the upper hand.
The U.S. also came up with a new engineering approach, discarding plans for a sea level route, in favor of a series of locks that could lift ships as much as 85 feet through the complex mountain formations, before being lowered again to sea level.
But the massive excavation and construction process was still fraught with danger.
The PBS program “American Experience” recounted the campaign:
WILLIAM DANIEL DONADIO, Panama Canal worker descendent: They’d hear this tooting of the whistles blaring out, and they’d know that something went wrong, a slide. So they had to use pick and shovels to dig them out. They knew that a next slide could come down on them too and bury them too. The mountain didn’t want to be crushed the way they did it, and the mountain fought back.
GWEN IFILL: Ten months after President Woodrow Wilson used a telegraph to detonate the last dike in October 1913, the steamship S.S. Ancon became the first vessel to officially transit the Panama Canal. The U.S. then controlled the canal until 1977, when President Jimmy Carter and Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos agreed to turn it over to full Panamanian control by the end of the century.
Since then, the Panama Canal Authority has exclusively managed the nearly-50-mile-long transit route; 14,000 vessels now travel the canal each year. Next year, it is expected to double in size, with an expansion project designed to nearly triple the amount of shipping containers vessels can carry through the canal.
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Considered one of the wonders of the modern world, the Panama Canal opened for business 100 years ago this Friday, linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and providing a new route for international trade and military transport.
At the time it was built, the canal was an engineering marvel, relying on a series of locks that lift ships – and their thousands of pounds of cargo – above mountains.
But thousands of workers died during its construction, and its history has seen no shortage of controversy, including a contentious transference of authority from the US to Panama in the 1970s.
Work recently began on a substantial expansion effort that will allow the canal to accommodate modern cargo needs.
PBS NewsHour recently interviewed several regional experts to discuss the canal’s first 100 years, and to get a sense of what’s ahead.
Ovidio Diaz-Espino grew up in Panama and trained as a lawyer. He is the author of How Wall Street Created a Nation: J.P. Morgan, Teddy Roosevelt, and the Panama Canal.Richard Feinberg is a professor of International Political Economy at the University of California, San Diego, and a nonresident Senior Fellow with the Latin America Initiative of the Bookings Institution. He served as special assistant to President Clinton and senior director of the National Security Council’s Office of Inter-American Affairs.
Julie Greene is a professor of History at the University of Maryland, specializing in United States labor and working-class history, and co-directs the University’s Center for the History of the New America. She is the author of The Canal Builders: Making America’s Empire at the Panama Canal, and serves as President of the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.
Noel Maurer is an associate professor of business administration at Harvard University, and the author of The Big Ditch: How America Took, Built, Ran, and Ultimately Gave Away the Panama Canal.
Orlando Pérez is Associate Dean, School of Humanities & Social Sciences at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Political Culture in Panama: Democracy after Invasion, and a member of the Scientific Support Group for the Latin American Public Opinion Project at Vanderbilt University.
PBS NewsHour: Why did the U.S. build the Panama Canal?
Richard Feinberg: This is about Teddy Roosevelt, the great nationalist, the imperialist. The canal is built in the early part of the 20th century, right after the US-Spanish war. It was when the US was sowing its oats. They had expanded their power over Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Caribbean, but also the Philippines, so the US is becoming a Pacific power, and the Panama Canal was about linking our growing Pacific power to more traditional Atlantic relationships. It was linked to the idea of the rise of the US as a global power, with both commercial and military potential.
Also, the economic impact was massive. Now you could unite the trade between the two oceans. Starting in the 1890s, and until WWI, global trade was just as significant as it is now, so it was important to have a commute route across the continent. This is why Wall Street was very supportive and helped fund it.
PBS NewsHour: What did it take to get the Panama Canal built? What was the cost of this project?
Julie Greene: It was in incredible project, the largest public construction project in US history. The engineering, technical, medical, and scientific challenges were incredible, first having to get disease under control and then figure out whether it should be a sea-level or a lock canal. It was 40 miles long and literally cut through the continental divide, so it was extremely difficult.
Orlando Pérez: The idea of an interoceanic canal dates back to the Spanish colonial period. The French attempted to do this and failed. After that failure, the US came in. The American ingenuity was of building, rather than a sea level canal, a lock canal. The way the terrain is, a sea-level canal would flood, it was prone to landslides and the terrain was not stable enough. You had to accommodate different levels. It was lower on one side than on the other side, with mountains in between. The systems of locks is what made it possible.
Ovidio Diaz-Espino: The construction itself was so significant that at one point one-third of the city of Pittsburgh was working to build the canal. Every lock of the canal, and there are four, has more steel, more concrete, and took more work than the Empire State Building. Something like six Empire State Building constructions are here. There was massive steel, provided by US Steel. Massive concrete provided by Portland Cement. GE had to invent new type of machineries to be able to move the ships, these huge tankards that only had a few inches on either side needed to be controlled. Railroad had to be developed with minute precision. Dredging techniques used to dredge the Port of New York had to be much more precise.
With such a massive body of work it probably employed one-third of Central America and the Caribbean, and the US was heavily influenced by it and by the money that was flowing through Wall Street, the banks, the insurance companies.
Richard Feinberg: Congress was raising questions of, “Do we need this, is it worth it?” So in 1906 when it was under construction, Teddy Roosevelt travelled down, the first time a sitting US president ever left the continental United States while in office. He staged a successful PR stunt: he sat in a big earth moving machine wearing a Panama hat, made a speech that America could and needed to do this, and when he returned to the US the Senate supported its construction.
Julie Greene: But on top of that had to do with the human challenges involved. The chief engineer said at one point that the real challenge of this canal, and what allowed the US to succeed, was in figuring out how to manage and discipline the humans. “That was my contribution,” he said. By that, he meant they had to build a whole society: a police force, dorms, cafeterias, a judicial system. Forty-five thousand women and men, mostly men, came from dozens of different countries, and then thousands of women and children came to be with their menfolk. To create a world for them and then to keep it orderly was a challenge.
PBS NewsHour: What was the human toll?
Julie Greene: The United States built the Canal between 1904 and 1914, picking up the ball from the disastrous efforts by the French. The loss of life during the French era was much greater because disease was more widespread. The US managed to get yellow fever completely under control, and malaria largely under control. By the official US statistics, the mortality rate was about 10,000 people, maybe a little less. But it’s hard to gauge: one historian who looked more closely argued that the death rate was probably 15,000 – or 1/10 of all men who worked on the project.
Ovidio Diaz-Espino: 27,000 people died building the Panama Canal during those two periods. Can you imagine an infrastructure project today that cost 27,000 lives?
PBS NewsHour: What were some of the controversies surrounding its construction? How was it seen on the ground in Panama and by its neighbors?
Julie Greene: The chief engineer had extensive powers thanks to an executive order. Anyone in the Canal Zone not productive could be deported. Many were. Workers who refused to show up would be, if not deported, sentenced to jail time. They had a massive police force, and did not allow strikes. Workers who might try to organize could be and were quickly deported. In the end, this kind of careful system of rules and regulations allowed order.
The US relied on a vast system of racial and ethnic segregation, the Gold and Silver Rolls. American, white workers were paid in gold, and they had better housing and conditions. Most workers of African descent in the Caribbean were on “silver rolls.” They lived in hovels and ate outside or under porches during the torrential rainfalls. It’s not surprising they’d rely on segregation, but the demographics of the Canal Zone weren’t black and white. Thousands of Spaniards came in and found that they were referred to as the “semi-white Europeans,” and excluded from the white hotels and cafeterias. They were pretty ticked off, and built up a vast network of anarchist politics and would go on strike even though they weren’t allowed to. So the US found it constantly had to manage problems resulting from its own policies.
Noel Maurer: Bringing in all these black laborers created a bit of a stink in Panama, and contributed to racial tensions that lasted a long time. A big chunk of the country today is descended from those workers, creating tensions.
PBS NewsHour: In 1977, President Carter signed a treaty with General Omar Torrijos, then Commander of the Panamanian National Guard, ceding control of the Canal to Panama beginning in 1999. What impact did this shift in authority have?
Ovidio Diaz-Espino: The Canal was administered exclusively by Americans for the interest of American military and geopolitical concerns. Panamanians felt they were not benefitting from the canal. And there was a fence. As a child growing up, I could not go into the Canal Zone because I was Panamanian. It was pure American land. This was the most valuable piece of land in the country, and it was being exploited by somebody else. There was a lot of conflict leading to massacres, students killed by soldiers because they tried to raise a Panamanian flag at the Canal. It was an unstable situation.
Richard Feinberg: I wasn’t in the Clinton administration during the handover but I was part of the negotiations leading up to it, and I was also in the Carter administration for the treaty. The treaty was a huge political debate. Reagan enhanced his reputation as a strong nationalist by opposing the treaties, and it cost Carter dearly, in terms of creating a narrative that he was somehow retreating from American power abroad, which was later compounded by crises in Iran and elsewhere. But it was extremely important for relations with Panama and Latin America.
Noel Maurer: By the time the treaty came along, the US benefits from the Canal were almost gone. This wasn’t charity, it wasn’t Carter being nice to the Latin Americans. This was strategy. By the 1970s, American farmers shipping food to Asia could railroad to Seattle and ship from there because railroad costs was much cheaper post-WWII. Militarily, the Canal turned out to be strategically useless, and totally indefensible. Truman tried to hand it over the UN. It was losing money under Johnson. The only reason for the political opposition to the Carter treaties was that it was a symbol of American national pride, especially after Vietnam.
Ovidio Diaz-Espino: The political consequence in Panama was felt immediately. Within two years, the Canal Zone came down. The Americans were still managing it, and the military bases were still here, so the security was still in the hands of the Americans, but it was now Panamanian land. That defused a lot of tensions not just in Panama but throughout Latin America, as it had been the poster child of American colonialism in Latin America.
Ovidio Diaz-Espino: Beginning in 1999, the effect for Panama has been massive. It was as if we suddenly discovered oil, except it’s a more stable commodity than oil, and it will become even more stable as there is more dependence on the Canal as a result of the expected growth in global trade between Asia and America. And it’s not just the revenues, but everything around it: 3 major ports creating thousands of jobs. A whole industry devoted to shipping services as a result. Sixty percent of all world cargo has a Panamanian flag. There’s a burgeoning residential market in the former Canal Zone, and a huge part around the canal is this untouched rainforest, a watershed, so it’s becoming is a hotbed of ecotourism. Now they’re planning for cruise ships to drop off in Panama City. This is all because of the canal.
And there’s something more important, which I call the peace element. The canal gives us something no neighbor has, and that’s political stability. The neutrality clause in the Torrijos-Carter treaty says that the US has the right to intervene in Panamanian internal affairs if the security of the canal is ever threatened. Why is there no corruption, why does the canal operate with the precision of a Swiss watch factory? Because Americans always have their eyes on it. You know it’s not going to be ruined.
PBS NewsHour: Expansion of the Panama Canal is due to begin soon. What should we know about this project?
Richard Feinberg: It’s a modernization. As container ships have gotten bigger and bigger, the canal needs to be larger. There’s no doubt that commercially the expansion is important and it will pay off over time with the increased traffic that will result, as more and bigger ships pass through.
Julie Greene: It’s a huge undertaking being run efficiently. It’s behind schedule, but that’s not surprising. What they’re doing is building another set of lock basins, and they’ve designed it in a very green, environmental way. Instead of using fresh water every time the locks have to be filled, because that would have been stressful on water supply, they devised an engineering system that allows them to recycle the water.
There are nonetheless challenges even though green ideals were in mind. For ships to go through quickly, that will put pressure on the Gatun Lake and hurt its environment a bit, so there’s some debating going on as to whether they should slow down the speed to protect the lake.
Orlando Pérez: The expansion project has generated a huge amount of employment, and has been the catalyst for high economic growth. Some Panamanians see a problem with this growth, that it’s not well shared across the nation. Panama is still a dual economy. Economic growth is centered mostly in the urban areas, tied to commercial enterprises, tied to tourism and to the Canal. But if you go to rural areas, poverty is much higher.
Julie Greene: Certainly it’s an important part of the US political economy, and will be more so with the expansion once it’s complete in 2015. In fact lots of changes are happening across the US as different port cities prepare for the larger ships that will be able to come through.
Ovidio Diaz-Espino: The expansion is important for Panama, but it’s much more important for the United States. I can’t imagine how much is being invested in the US. No port was ready to take those ships, so every major port has to expand. So New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Miami, Galveston, New Orleans, all have to do major dredging. Then you need to expand the highways, and you’ll need more container space locally. The expense is massive, and all are racing to prepare. The delay in finishing the project means the US has more time to get ready.
The other thing is that it is going to change patterns of trade. Right now, most Asia-US trade comes through Long Beach. That will change. Most trade by water will go to southern and northeastern ports. That has implications for railroad companies, truck companies, and entire cities. Joe Biden said this may make inflation go down, which will make the US more competitive in its exports to China.
These interviews have been edited for clarity and brevity.
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GWEN IFILL: For more on the engineering and economic marvel that is the Panama Canal, we turn to two who have written extensively about its 100-year history.Noel Maurer is author of “The Big Ditch: How America Took, Built, Ran, and Ultimately Gave Away the Panama Canal.” He’s an associate professor of business administration at Harvard University, but is joining us from Stanford University. And Orlando Perez is author of “Political Culture in Panama: Democracy After Invasion.” He’s associate dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Millersville University in Pennsylvania.
Noel Maurer, you say America took, built, ran and ultimately gave away the Panama Canal. Let’s start with the “took” part. What do you mean?
NOEL MAURER, Co-Author, Harvard University: The Panama Canal was created in act of force.
The United States helped the Panamanian government declare independence from Panama. That was not a made-in-the-U.S. creation, but the treaty that set out the terms of building the canal was entirely written for the old French Panama Canal Company and representatives of the American government.
There wasn’t even a Spanish copy of it, and in no uncertain terms, Secretary of State Hay made it clear that the Panamanians had to sign it or get nothing. So I think taking it, which is what Teddy Roosevelt called it — he took the canal — it’s not my words — is a pretty accurate summation of what happened.
GWEN IFILL: But, Orlando Perez, it was really quite an amazing engineering marvel at the time, and even now.
ORLANDO PEREZ, Author, “Political Culture in Panama: Democracy After Invasion”: Oh, absolutely.
If you think about the fact that this was built 100 years ago and operates nearly in the same way that it did 100 years ago, when it opened, it — there is an expansion project to make the canal more viable for bigger ships, but this is an engineering marvel of historic proportion.
And it really ushered in the American century.
GWEN IFILL: Can I ask you, Noel Maurer, what was the human toll here? Ushering in the human — century was huge, but a lot of people, including my parents’ parents, who came from the Caribbean and went to Panama, lost a lot in that.
NOEL MAURER: So, the human toll was immense, mostly because of tropical diseases.
One of the unsung wonders of the canal was the sanitation program that reduced the death rates from malaria and yellow fever. That said, there was an amazing ratio differential between death rates among black employees of the canal, mostly bring in from the Caribbean, mostly from Barbados eventually, and the white Americans who came down to work on the canal.
And that actually didn’t close at all over the entire construction period. Death rates were also amazingly high. There was some positives, which was a huge amount of money sent back, particularly to Barbados, which actually transformed Barbadian society and the Barbadian economy, but that came at a very high human toll among the workers themselves in the Canal Zone.
GWEN IFILL: Well, so let’s talk about the policies of this, Orlando — Orlando Perez, because it seems that not only was — when there’s a lot of money and there’s a lot opportunity and there’s a loss of sovereignty, as some Panamanians felt, but also there are some politics involved.
ORLANDO PEREZ: For Panamanians, it was really a bittersweet event.
They had — they had reached the — the zenith of what they wanted for Panama as a commercial hub and at the center of a global commercial system, but they did so in circumstances in which they had given up sovereignty over large parts of their territory.
And that fact shaped U.S.-Panama relations and U.S.-Latin American relations really for the remainder of the 20th century.
GWEN IFILL: So, Noel Maurer, how would you say the canal worked after the handover to the Panamanians, as opposed to how it was working as the U.S. controlled it in the last several decades?
NOEL MAURER: One of the big surprises is how much better run the canal has been under Panamanian administration.
In the last few decades of American control of the canal, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the inmates had taken control of the asylum and that the organization was run almost completely for the benefit of the Zonians, the employees, and their families in the Canal Zone, rather than either the American or the Panamanian national interests.
Accidents rose dramatically. Efficiency dropped through the floor. You had problems with drunkenness among canal pilots. You had jobs staying within families. All the terrible stereotypes of a government-run organization were multiplied five-fold.
When the Panamanians took it over — and it was actually a slow process — it didn’t just happen overnight in ’99 — you had a couple of really important management reforms. Getting serious about drunkenness was one of them, installing higher-intensity halogen lights, trimming canal traffic, so that instead of having it be two ways, where ships could collide, you had to go one way for 12 hours and one way for another 12 hours.
So efficiency started to rise and has actually been rising quite dramatically since 1999. Profitability has also risen quite dramatically since 1999. And now the canal is run like a really well-run business, as opposed to a really poorly run public utility.
GWEN IFILL: Orlando Perez of Millersville University and Noel Maurer of Harvard University, thank you both very much.
ORLANDO PEREZ: Well, thank you.
NOEL MAURER: Thank you, Gwen.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Online, you can see a photo gallery of the canal, learn much more about its history, and a link to watch the documentary that aired on “American Experience.”
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HARI SREENIVASAN: After a lull of several weeks, fighting broke out again in the world’s newest nation today.South Sudan declared independence from Sudan just three years ago, but has been gripped in a civil war among rival ethnic groups since last December. The conflict has sent more than a million-and-a-half people fleeing from their homes. And even those who are living in United Nations shelters endure desperate living conditions.
This week, members of the U.N. Security Council visited the nation to get a firsthand look at the situation.
Journalist Nick Harper, on assignment for the NewsHour, has an on-the-ground report from the town of Malakal.
NICK HARPER: Incredibly, despite appearances, this is a place of hope, a new start for 17,000 people who fled here when the fighting started in December.
Nearly everything they have has been given to them by aid agencies. But it doesn’t amount to very much. And now the rainy season has waterlogged much of Malakal’s U.N. compound, making already chaotic conditions almost unlivable.
MAN: I didn’t come here with my packages, just only the clothes that I wore. It is too difficult eventually here. A lot of rain. Where am I staying, sometimes, when the rain comes, it’s almost taking my tent.
NICK HARPER: Everywhere you look, there are similar stories of lives turned upside down, like Angelina, whose husband and teenage son were killed. She walked for several days to get here with her baby and the clothes they were wearing.
Veronica Kai is trying to move to higher ground after the waters flooded her shelter.
VERONICA KAI, Displaced resident (through interpreter): As you can see, life here is not good. We are moving to another place because it’s flooded here.
NICK HARPER: For now, the rain is holding off. This brief dry spell has allowed the waters to recede, revealing the wreckage beneath.
You only need to spend a few minutes here to realize how desperate the situation is. It’s as if the people living here have swapped one hell for another. Yes, they have escaped the fighting, but the camp has its own dangerous and difficulties to deal with.
The overcrowding has led to fighting, the flooding to waterborne diseases. The U.N. is hosting nearly 100,000 civilians inside compounds like this around the country. Even in the relative calm of the capital, Juba, 10,000 have sought shelter in Tomping camp. Land formerly used to park peacekeepers’ vehicles is now crowded with families.
Officials admit they can barely cope. But even still, with violence continuing, the U.N.’s representative in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, says people would rather stay here than risk returning home.
TOBY LANZER, UN Deputy Special Representative, South Sudan: There is still a palpable sense of fear.
In the absence of peace, people are unlikely to choose to go home. Should they wish to go home, we’re there to help them to do so. But as long as the fighting rages, as long as there really is an absence of a tangible peace process, I fear that people will want to stay in these sorts of sites for some time to come.
NICK HARPER: In December, fighting broke out, with the president, Salva Kiir, accusing his former vice president, Riek Machar, of attempting a coup. It’s created an ethnic divide, with Kiir from the Dinka community, Machar from the Nuer.
Since then, they have signed two peace agreements, but both have been broken. And neither seems willing to accede the second-in-command position in a new transitional government.
The U.N. Security Council came to Malakal to see for themselves the conditions in the camp. A meeting with community leaders revealed the anger and frustration that people here feel with their leader’ procrastination.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power says the leaders need to break the deadlock.
SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. Ambassador to the UN: I don’t think South Sudan has been forgotten. I think the whole region is focused on this crisis. There’s no shortage of attention to South Sudan. There’s a shortage of political will to bring peace to South Sudan on the part of the leaders.
NICK HARPER: And now the U.N. is warning the fighting is tipping the country towards famine. South Sudan is now on the brink of being unable to feed its population. The problem is, much of the country relies on homegrown food. But the violence means crops have not been planted.
In some areas, the U.N. can only airdrop supplies. In the town of Nida, the U.N.’s World Food Program has managed to deliver hundreds of tons of emergency aid, really just the most basic of human needs. But the odds are not in their favor. Four million people are already starving and the children are the hardest-hit.
One million under the age of 5 need treatment for acute malnutrition, and the U.N.’s children agency, UNICEF, estimates, this year, 50,000 will die for it.
Yet, still, the U.N.’s appeal for South Sudan remains chronically underfunded. Of the $1.8 billion needed, only half of that total has been met. Many, like this parent, simply can’t wait.
WOMAN (through interpreter): We have no food, and we survive on wild berries and roots. That is why my child is very sick.
NICK HARPER: Until South Sudan’s leaders come to a compromise, all of this will continue. For now, the displaced and dispossessed can only wait for the fighting and the rainy season to end.
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Borrowing a page out of nature’s handbook, a team of researchers at Harvard University have developed a fleet of miniscule robots that can arrange themselves into complex configurations without the use of a core artificial intelligence. Equal parts automaton and swarming hive, each of the Kilobots the team used to demonstrate their research, are a little larger than a penny.
In February computer science professor Radhika Nagpal lead a team that engineered a smaller, proto-hoard of machines based on termites. Algorithmically the TERMES robot groups were limited to about 100 units and building a larger group was cost-prohibitive. Nagpal’s advance however, detailed in this month’s issue of “Science,” has created a swarm of more than 1,000.
Every tiny member of “the Borg,” to borrow a Star Trek term for a collective body, is composed of three parts designed to facilitate the only three pieces of information it needs to know. An infrared sensor, motor and microprocessor allow the Kilobots to follow a swarm’s edge, understand its current position versus its original position and to recognize their distance from one another.
The programming developed by the University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering is modeled after the organizational mechanisms that allow social organisms to function as a single unit, despite their being discrete. Similar to the ways that schools of fish maneuver and reorganize themselves in response to obstacles or danger, a Kilobot swarm is able to configure itself nearly instantaneously simply by paying attention to one another. Unlike bees or ants, which rely on pheromonal direction from a queen to act, the team’s Kilobots would be able to continue to carry out their prime directive even if the mass was attacked.
The applications for automated swarms of robots are manifold, according to the researchers. With the proper programming similar machines could form barriers in response to danger, coordinate to repair structures in dangerous areas or assist in the transportation of goods.
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AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been indicted for abuse of power after carrying out a threat to veto funding for state public corruption prosecutors.
The Republican governor is accused of abusing his official powers by publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit at the Travis County District Attorney’s office. He was indicted by an Austin grand jury Friday on felony counts of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. Maximum punishment on the first charge is five to 99 years in prison. The second is two to 10 years.
Perry said he’d veto the funding if the district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg, didn’t resign. Lehmberg had recently been convicted of drunken driving. When Lehmberg refused, Perry carried out his veto.