Quantcast
Loading...
Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)
Loading...

More Channels


Showcase


Channel Catalog


Loading...

Channel Description:

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

older | 1 | .... | 432 | 433 | (Page 434) | 435 | 436 | .... | 1175 | newer

    0 0

    IRAQ-UNREST-KURDS-DAM

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The NewsHour’s foreign correspondent, Margaret Warner, and producer Morgan Till are now in northern Iraq, and Margaret joins us now via Skype from the biggest city in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Irbil.

    So Margaret, we’ve been reporting this morning and throughout the day that there have been air strikes near the Mosul Dam to try to help the Kurdish or the peshmerga recapture that area. What have you been hearing on the ground?

    MARGARET WARNER: Just as we speak Hari, the BBC is reporting that, in fact, with this combination of heavy U.S. airstrikes, U.S. special forces calling in the locations of the strikes and peshmerga, not only fighters but their special forces, they have retaken the dam.

    That is a critical, critical facility it controls a big part of the water that flows down from the Tigris River. It could ultimately threaten Baghdad if that dam were destroyed as in fact the ISIS or ISIL fighters did to that dam as they did to another which was to destroy it.

    So that is a huge, strategic and not just tactical but I would say strategic victory for the Kurdish, Iraqi and American forces.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So Margaret you were out on the front lines today in the 115 degree heat, what was it like, what did you see?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, Hari, we went about an hour south of here to this town of Makhmour, which the Kurdish peshmerga have boasted of taking over with the help of U.S. airstrikes.

    But only 5 percent of the people in the town have dared to return mostly men to look after their property, like one man had had all his bakery and electronic shop bombed out. So he said he didn’t bring his wife and children. All the men standing around him said the same thing.

    And that they would not feel safe until peshmergas drove ISIS farther south. So we went to the frontline in fact we talked to the commander there and then he told us you have to leave now cause new strikes are about to begin.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Considering that there are so many people displaced are you seeing the impacts like that in cities like the one that you’re in?

    MARGARET WARNER: Absolutely, Hari. I think this is the untold story of this Kurdish region, having been here just 30 hours. And that is that finding the world’s attention was captured by the tens of thousands who fled from Sinjar, this Christian community farther west, and then they’re making their way into this province, Irbil province, because this is the only place they feel safe and we’ve had this dramatic footage.

    The fact is, since early January when ISIS first really entered Iraq in force in Anbar Province, you know, Falluja, Ramadi and so on, you’ve had tens and then hundreds of thousands of Iraqis fleeing to the north, fleeing here to the Kurdish region, because it’s the only place they feel safe. And we’ve talked to the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, and the man who is a senior advisor to the Kurdish humanitarian agency who both said they think it’s about 1-1.2 million new IDP’s they’re called because they’re not refugees, they’re within the same country (internally displaced people) just since January.

    This whole region is only 5 million people, so today for example we met a woman who wasn’t sure of her age, she had fled Makhmour which is where we had been before, she’d come to Irbil with nothing but the clothes on her back with her three sons, two daughters in law, four grandsons and all they could do was live in concrete out buildings in the compound of a relative. They had nothing. I mean they had pallets on the floor that was it.

    Now they were given food and water and power, but she was devastated and she’s afraid to go back, and she’s afraid to go back even now that her town’s been retaken. So it’s a heart-wrenching story and it’s also a huge strain of course on the resources of the Kurdish Regional Government.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Alright, Margaret Warner joining us from Irbil via Skype, thanks so much.

    MARGARET WARNER: Thanks you, Hari.

    The post Kurdish forces retake key dam from Islamic State in ‘strategic victory’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    WASHINGTON — Taking a two-day break from summer vacation, President Barack Obama met with top advisers at the White House Monday to review developments in Iraq and in racially charged Ferguson, Missouri, two trouble spots where Obama has ordered his administration to intervene.

    Obama planned to issue a statement on the two crises later Monday afternoon.

    The president made a brief return to Washington from Martha’s Vineyard to confer with advisers about the military and political situation in Iraq, where he recently authorized airstrikes, and in the St. Louis suburb that erupted in protests over the police shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old man.

    The day appeared aimed in part at countering criticism that Obama was spending two weeks on the Massachusetts island in the midst of multiple crises.

    After a week of photos depicting the president golfing or riding his bike with his family, the White House permitted press photographers to get pictures of Obama meeting with national security aides in the White House Roosevelt Room Monday morning and discussing the Ferguson shooting with Attorney General Eric Holder in the afternoon.

    Still, Obama’s brief return to Washington was planned even before the U.S. military began striking targets in Iraq and before the standoff between police and protesters in Ferguson. The president was scheduled to return to Martha’s Vineyard Tuesday night.

    The meetings came as conditions in Ferguson deteriorated. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon lifted a curfew but ordered the National Guard to step in to help restore order. Holder over the weekend ordered a federal medical examiner to perform a third autopsy on the teenager, Michael Brown. Among those joining Obama in his meeting with Holder was White House Counsel Neil Eggleston and Lisa Monaco, Obama’s assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism.

    In Iraq, a new round of U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq on Monday aimed to help Iraqi forces regain control of the Mosul dam and averting a potential dam failure. An Iraqi Army spokesman in Baghdad said Iraqi and Kurdish forces had regained control of the dam from the Islamic State militants who captured it earlier this month, but the Pentagon said it was too early to reach that conclusion.

    The strikes against the militants drew praise from Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, two of Obama’s most vocal foreign policy critics.

    But in a joint statement, McCain and Graham urged Obama to expand the military strikes to go after the Islamic State militants in both Iraq and Syria. Obama has described the strikes as a narrow mission aimed at protecting U.S. personnel and facilities and preventing humanitarian disasters.

    “We have to do it hard and we have to do it in ways that are not pin-prick strikes that are gradual escalation,” McCain said while campaigning for Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown in New Hampshire. “The object of conflict is to break the enemy’s will. If (the Islamic State) is a threat to the United States of America, we have to do what is necessary to destroy them without sending American combat troops over.”

    While Obama has had plenty of downtime since arriving in Martha’s Vineyard a week ago, he also made two public statements about the situations in Iraq and Ferguson. The president had ordered the Iraq strikes days before leaving for vacation, while the tensions in Ferguson that stem from the shooting death of an unarmed teen boiled over during his vacation.

    “I think it’s fair to say there are, of course, ongoing complicated situations in the world, and that’s why you’ve seen the president stay engaged,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

    Associated Press writer Rik Stevens contributed from Derry, New Hampshire.

    The post President Obama cites progress in Iraq, announces Holder is heading to Ferguson appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Caption:FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 14: People listen as residents and faith and community leaders discuss unrest in the town of Ferguson following the shooting death of Michael Brown during a forum held at Christ the King UCC Church on August 14, 2014 in Florissant, Missouri. Seakers included Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, has experienced four days of violent protests since the killing. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

    The start of school in Ferguson, Missouri has been delayed by three days. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

    School was supposed to start last Thursday for the kids of Ferguson, Missouri.

    But when rioting escalated Wednesday night, Ferguson-Florrisant School District officials made the decision to cancel classes for two days due to safety concerns. On Sunday night, when riots continued to ensue, officials made the decision to cancel classes for a third time.

    The school district includes more than 11,000 students, from pre-school to high school. Under USDA’s community eligibility program, the district is able to provide free breakfast and lunch for all students. Over the summer, meal programs were set up to continue providing nourishment to students. But summer break has ended, and without school, those who rely on this meal plan must find another way to eat.

    Jana Shortt, director of communications for the Ferguson-Florrisant School District, said that individual Ferguson residents and community organizers, like Reverend Willis Johnson and the Wellspring Church, have taken it upon themselves to provide students with lunch in the wake of the school closures.

    Johnson said his church has offered “educational respite” for students around town, and has given residents a place to pray and talk. It is his hope to put a plan in motion that over time will help “rebuild our community.”

    The needs of the city’s youngest residents have struck a chord with people, even outside of Ferguson. Julianna Mendelsohn, an elementary school teacher at Mangum Elementary School in Durham, North Carolina, started a money-raising campaign on Fundly.com to collect monetary donations for the St. Louis Food Bank to buy food for Ferguson students. It began as something she thought only her friends and family would contribute to, with the intention of raising a couple thousand dollars at most.

    “Then Twitter happened,” said Mendelsohn in a phone interview.

    The campaign has raised over $61,000.

    Aside from students’ most basic needs, Shortt says the school district is concerned about addressing potential emotional and social problems that may arise from the events in Ferguson.

    All Ferguson-Florrisant public schools have counselors on staff. But to ensure that all students will get necessary mental help following the riots in Ferguson, Shortt said they’ve “reached out to outside groups that are providing therapists” from St. Louis’s Great Circle Community Agency.

    At this point, the school district is canceling school on a day-by-day basis. The hope right now is for class to be back in session Tuesday.

    RELATED: “With School Canceled, Parents Give Children A Life Lesson” via St. Louis Public Radio

    The post How schools’ delayed start in Ferguson is affecting kids appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Keep up with the latest developments in Ferguson, Missouri, by following these journalists, local officials and individuals on the ground.

    It’s a story that has been at the forefront of the news, beginning with local protests Sunday, Aug. 10, the day after a white police officer in Ferguson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.

    We have been following the story through news reports from wire services like the Associated Press and from local media outlets like the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. And, like many of you, we rely on real time information from these organizations’ reporters on the ground. But a warning, this feed will be updated in real time. It may contain graphic content that we will remove if it is deemed inappropriate for readers. And although we trust this list of people, we cannot verify the reporting contained in this feed.

    Who’s who?

    Local journalists/media outlets:
    @stltoday (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
    @JesseBogan (Jesse Bogan: St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter)
    @STLsherpa (Joe Holleman: St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist)
    @joelcurrier (Joel Currier: St. Louis Post-Dispatch crime and police reporter)
    @manofsteele (Lynden Steele: St. Louis Post-Dispatch director of photography)
    @PDPJ (David Carson: St. Louis Post-Dispatch staff photographer)
    @kodacohen (Robert Cohen: St. Louis Post-Dispatch photojournalist)
    @brosepd (Bob Rose: St. Louis Post-Dispatch deputy managing editor)
    @RayFarrisSTL (Ray Farris: St. Louis Post-Dispatch president and publisher)

    @stlpublicradio (St. Louis Public Radio)
    @stephlecci (Stephanie Lecci: newscast producer, St. Louis Public Radio, personal accounts of experience in Ferguson protests)
    @durrieB (Durrie Bouscaren: covers public health and research for St. Louis Public Radio, currently covering Ferguson protests)

    @ArgusRadio (KARG Argus Radio in St. Louis: website hosts extensive live stream coverage of Ferguson protests)

    @RiverfrontTimes (The Riverfront Times, alternative St. Louis newspaper)
    @StLouisLindsay (Lindsay Toler: The Riverfront Times news blogger)
    @RayDowns (Ray Downs: staff writer, the Riverfront Times)
    @D_Towski (Danny Wicentowski: staff writer, the Riverfront Times)
    @mitchryals (Mitch Ryals- writer, the Riverfront Times)

    @StLouisAmerican (The St. Louis American, weekly paper targeting the African-American community in St. Louis)
    @chriskingstl (Chris King: managing editor, the St. Louis American)
    @JamesTIngram (James T. Ingram: columnist, the St. Louis American)
    @BridjesONeil (Bridjes O’Neil: multimedia community reporter, the St. Louis American)

    National/International Media:
    @WesleyLowery (Wesley Lowery: journalist, national politics, the Washington Post)
    @ryanjreilly (Ryan J. Reilly: justice reporter, the Huffington Post)
    @aterkel (Amanda Terkel: senior political reporter and politics managing editor, the Huffington Post)
    @BmoreConetta (Christine Conetta: producer, Huffington Post Live and Huffington Post Politics)
    @mattdpearce ( Matt Pearce: national reporter, the L.A. Times)
    @jonswaine (Jon Swaine: U.S. correspondent for the Guardian)
    @robcrilly (Rob Crilly: Pakistan/Afghanistan correspondent, the Telegraph, currently reporting from Ferguson)
    @Yamiche (Yamiche Alcindor: breaking news and criminal justice reporter, USA Today)
    @trymainelee (Trymaine Lee: national reporter, MSNBC)
    @AmyKNelson (Amy K. Nelson: journalist, Animal New York)
    @ReporterFaith (Faith Abubey: reporter/anchor WFMY- North Carolina Piedmont Triad community)

    The New York Times team on the ground:
    @juliebosman (Julie Bosman: national correspondent covering the Midwest, the New York Times)
    @alanblinder (Alan Blinder: Atlanta bureau, the New York Times)
    @jeligon (John Eligon: Kansas City correspondent, the New York Times)
    @FrancesRobles (Frances Robles: Florida, Central America and the Caribbean correspondent, the New York Times)
    @tanzinavega (Tanzina Vega: reporter covering race and ethnicity, the New York Times)

    Local Officials:
    @AntonioFrench (Antonio French: St. Louis Alderman, tweets frequent live stream coverage from Ferguson)
    @PresReed (Lewis E. Reed: president of the Board of Alderman)
    @TomShepardStl (Tom Shepard: Lewis E. Reed Chief of Staff)
    @Patricialicious (Patricia Bynes: Democratic committeewoman of Ferguson township)

    Other People/Organizations of Interest:
    @attorneycrump (Benjamin Crump, esq.: attorney representing Michael Brown’s family)
    @stlcountypd (St. Louis County Police Department)
    @jack (Jack Dorsey: Twitter founder and St. Louis native, currently tweeting from Ferguson)

    The post LIVE: News from Ferguson via Twitter appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    The_Logo_of_Sports_Illustrated

    A leaked internal spreadsheet from Time, Inc. shows that the company assigned writers different scores for various criteria, including their value to advertisers.

    Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan published the spreadsheet today with a statement from Anthony Napoli, who represents The Newspaper Guild, a union for media employees.

    The Guild has filed an arbitration demand to contest the ranking system, which Time Inc. used to lay off Sports Illustrated writers, Napoli said.

    “Writers who may have high assessments for their writing ability, which is their job, were in fact terminated based on the fact the company believed their stories did not ‘produce content that is beneficial to advertiser relationships,’” he said.

    Sports Illustrated spokesman Scott Novak released a statement on the spreadsheet.

    “The Guild’s interpretation is misleading and takes one category out of context. The SI.com evaluation was conducted in response to the Guild’s requirement for our rationale for out of seniority layoffs. As such, it encompasses all of the natural considerations for digital media. It starts and ends with journalistic expertise, while including reach across all platforms and appeal to the marketplace. SI’s editorial content is uncompromised and speaks for itself.”

    The revelation comes at a time when the traditional media-advertiser relationship is changing. As media companies adopt an online-based business model, many have increased the use of native ads and sponsored content, posting articles and videos that are backed by ad revenue.

    Buzzfeed, whose business model is heavily supported by sponsored content, announced $50 million in new funding earlier this month. The New York Times ran a native ad in June for Netflix show “Orange Is The New Black,” a move that received praise from fellow journalists. Magazine giant Hearst recently created a team to produce sponsored content across a variety of brands.

    The post Time Inc. rated writers on ad value, leaked spreadsheet shows appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    Protesters take to streets in US over teens death

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The violence plaguing Ferguson, Missouri, sparked new initiatives today. The governor deployed the National Guard, and President Obama announced he’s sending in Attorney General Eric Holder.

    It’s all aimed at restoring calm after the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman. The decision to call out the National Guard was the latest effort to quell the violence in Ferguson.

    Last night, police again used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up a crowd after reports of gunfire, firebombs and looting.

    Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson:

    RON JOHNSON, Captain, Missouri State Highway Patrol: There were multiple additional reports of Molotov cocktails being thrown. Police were shot at. Makeshift barricades were set up to block police. Bottles and rockets were thrown at police. Based on these conditions, I had no alternative to elevate the level of our response.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Hours later, in his statement deploying the Guard, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon condemned the unrest, saying: “These violent acts are a disservice to the family of Michael Brown and his memory and to the people of this community.”

    This afternoon, as Guard members arrived, Governor Nixon announced their role will be limited. He also lifted the two-day-old curfew.

    Meanwhile, attorneys for Michael Brown’s family released the results of a privately conducted autopsy.

    BENJAMIN CRUMP, Lawyer for victim’s family: They didn’t want to be left having to rely on the autopsy done by the Saint Louis law enforcement agencies, the same individuals they feel are responsible for executing their son in broad daylight.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Former New York City Chief Medical Examiner Michael Baden and forensic pathologist Shawn Parcells found the 18-year-old was shot six times.

    SHAWN PARCELLS, Forensic Pathologist: We have got one to the very top of the head, the apex. We have got one that entered just above the right eyebrow. We have got one that entered the top part of the right arm. We have got a graze wound, a superficial graze wound, to the middle part of the right arm. We have got a wound that entered the medial aspect of the right arm, and we have got a deep graze wound that produced a laceration to the palm of the right hand.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Police officer Darren Wilson fired those shots during a confrontation on August 9. Parcells could not say with certainty if the wounds indicated Brown was facing Wilson or if he had his hands raised, as witnesses have said, but he did say this:

    SHAWN PARCELLS: Dr. Baden and I do feel, because of the two gunshot wounds to the head, indicating that Mr. Brown was bending over as they were coming down, that those two shots were most likely the last two to occur to him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The autopsy also found no gunshot residue, indicating the gun was fired from more than two feet away. Police have said Brown initially struggled with officer Wilson in his police car. Later, local officials released partial results of the initial autopsy. It, too, found Brown was shot six to eight times, all this as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder met with President Obama at the White House this afternoon to discuss the situation in Ferguson.

    Later, the president spoke in the White House Briefing Room.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The attorney general himself will be traveling to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with the FBI agents and DOJ personnel conducting the federal criminal investigation and he will receive an update from them on their progress. He will also be meeting with other leaders in the community whose support is so critical to bringing about peace and calm in Ferguson.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Holder has ordered a third federally supervised autopsy as part of a civil rights investigation.

    We will return to Ferguson to hear what community leaders are saying about the situation right after the news summary.

    The post Missouri National Guard arrives in Ferguson to quell unrest appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    newswrap

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Wall Street surged ahead today on rising homebuilder confidence, falling oil prices and other factors. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 176 points to close well over 16,838; the Nasdaq rose 43 points to close at 4,508, the highest it’s been in 14 years; and the S&P 500 added 16 to finish at 1,971.

    A five-day cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was extended another 24 hours this evening. Egyptian officials mediating negotiations said that will give more time to try to work out a longer-term truce. Meanwhile, the Israeli security service said it foiled an attempt by Hamas to topple Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who rules the West Bank.

    Activists now say Islamic State fighters in Syria shot and beheaded hundreds of people after a failed uprising. The victims belonged to a tribe that battled the jihadis in Eastern Syria near the Iraqi border. The Islamic State has declared a Muslim caliphate across a swathe of Syria and Iraq.

    In Ukraine, the military reported dozens of civilians were killed in a rocket attack on a convoy of refugees. Their buses came under fire near the rebel-held city of Luhansk, where government forces advanced over the weekend. Government officials blamed the separatists for the attack.

    ANDRIY LYSENKO, Spokesman, Ukraine National Security Council (through interpreter): Terrorists committed a bloody crime. Terrorists fired at a column of civilians near Luhansk who were trying to flee the zone of military actions, from multiple missile complexes and mortars that were handed to the bandits by the Russian Federation. A lot of people died, including women and children.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Rebels denied they have the capability to carry out such an attack. Instead, they blamed the military.

    Elsewhere, hundreds of Russian trucks carrying humanitarian aid remained parked at a border checkpoint. They will undergo X-ray inspection as part of an agreement reached between Russia and Ukraine.

    Anti-government protesters in Pakistan insisted today that they will not back down until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigns. Since the weekend, tens of thousands of demonstrators have occupied two main streets in the capital, Islamabad, blocking traffic and shutting down businesses. They accuse Sharif of rigging last year’s elections.

    British police today questioned some of the 35 Afghan Sikhs found in a shipping container. The stowaways ranged in age from 1 to 72. Dockworkers heard them screaming for help on Saturday. One man was declared dead. Others suffered hypothermia and dehydration. A truck delivered the container to a Belgian port, where a ship brought it to Britain.

    Mental and developmental disabilities among American children rose slightly between 2001 and 2011. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh say 8 percent of all children were affected. Those living in poverty remain more likely to have disabilities, but the study said the rate among better-off families rose 28 percent over the decade.

    And the cost of raising a child keeps climbing. The U.S. Agriculture Department reports a baby born in 2013 will cost a middle-income family an average of more than $245,000 before reaching adulthood. That’s up nearly 2 percent from 2012.

    Former U.S. Senators James Jeffords of Vermont died today. He had been in declining health. Jeffords gained the national spotlight in 2001 when he quit the Republican Party and became an independent. The move gave control of the Senate to Democrats. He retired in 2007 after more than 30 years in Washington. James Jeffords was 80 years old.

    The post News Wrap: Refugee convoy attacked in eastern Ukraine appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Photo by Flickr user Elliott Brown

    Photo by Flickr user Elliott Brown

    McDonald’s has been battling a chronic image problem that they hope to erase with the continued introduction of healthier and more relevant menu options.

    The fast food giant, the Associated Press writes, has been trying to change its image by adding healthier items to its meals, in addition to the option to substitute healthier alternatives into current offerings.

    In the past 18 months, the chain has introduced the option to substitute egg whites in breakfast sandwiches and rolled out chicken wraps as its first menu item with cucumbers. Last fall, it announced plans to give people the choice of a salad instead of fries in combo meals. And in coming months, mandarins will be offered in Happy Meals, with other fruits being explored as well.

    “We’ve got to make sure that the food is relevant and that the awareness around McDonald’s as a kitchen and a restaurant that cooks and prepares fresh, high quality food is strong and pronounced,” CEO Don Thompson said in January.

    During a trendy Tribeca event in October 2013, the popular fast food chain laid out the red carpet for reporters and bloggers alike to a fine dining event that only included ingredients available on their menu. Celebrity chefs took basic burger patties and fries and fashioned a cuisine of gnocchi and slow cooked beef that most McDonald’s customers would not have at their disposal. They billed the experience simply as “good food, served fast.”

    For McDonald’s, they believe this is an opportunity to develop a narrative without the influence of outside groups. With recent concerns of food quality and reports that one of the company’s main suppliers was selling spoiled meat in China, the chain is hoping that they can change the public’s perception through a variety of distinctive menu changes.

    Even with the intentions to produce a product that would be more public-friendly, the restaurant has not been able to escape scrutiny. Troubles with “slow and inaccurate service,” in addition to backlash over decisions such as the scrapping of the “Dollar Menu,” have contributed to negative public perception. McDonald’s sales continue to struggle, with the chain’s July sales the worst reported since March 2003.

    The post How McDonald’s aims to tackle its image appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

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

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We take a closer look now at the situation in Ferguson, how the St. Louis, Missouri, area community is struggling to keep order and heal the divisions that continue to bring protesters out into the streets.

    A short while ago, we spoke with USA Today reporter Yamiche Alcindor, who is in Ferguson.

    Yamiche Alcindor, thank you for joining us again.

    I want to start by asking you about reaction there to Governor Nixon’s decision to ended curfew and to call in the Missouri National Guard.

    YAMICHE ALCINDOR, USA Today: The reaction here was really mixed. I talked to a lot of people who were really happy to hear that the National Guard was coming in. People say that the businesses here are losing so much money and people who live in this neighborhood are terrorized because every night there is tear gas and there’s gunshots in their neighborhoods.

    However, some people are really upset. I talked to one woman who said she feels like she’s in prison in her own neighborhood. And there, people really thought, you know, this is just even more militarizing of our neighborhoods. This is really the actual military.

    And when the National Guard comes in, there is going to be soldiers walking down the street. So I think people are kind of mixed, but I think the majority of people I talked to are worried because that they thought this might get out of hand.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We just heard President Obama say in his news conference that he wants to make sure the National Guard is used in an appropriate and he said in a limited way. So it sounds like you’re saying that would be welcomed by the people there, if it is limited.

    YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Yes, the people who are really for the National Guard and are looking forward to this are really saying, even though I’m looking forward to this, this really needs to be limited. This really needs to be people not just getting tear gas thrown at them because they are walking down the street at the wrong time of day.

    It needs to be where people that are looting, people that are really causing the violence, they need to be the ones that the National Guard are arresting and the National Guard are taking into custody. The people or the peaceful protesters, they said that they really want to be left alone and they still want to be able to voice their opinions.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yamiche, how clear is — a distinction is being made between folks who are protesting who are local residents and those who are coming in from the outside and maybe causing some of these problems?

    YAMICHE ALCINDOR: I think there are two very distinct groups.

    I think there are people that are even coming in from outside of Ferguson who are still considered protesters. There are people that are peacefully protesting, that are chanting justice for Mike Brown, don’t shoot, hands up. There are people that once — once the curfew was in effect, they would leave.

    But then there are the looters. And those are the people that actually — the protesters are actually clashing with the looters. The protesters are trying to get the looters to go home. They’re trying to get them to stay away from businesses. And those looters are the people that are picking up rocks and throwing it at the police. Those are the people that are breaking into the local businesses here.

    So there are two distinct groups and they’re actually two distinct groups that are clashing. Protesters are trying to protect the city in a lot of ways. And what I saw last night, protesters are really trying to protect the city from looters.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yamiche, we know you are talking about people all day long while you’re there. Reactions you’re hearing to the privately ordered autopsy that was — we heard a report on that today, the autopsy that was ordered by the family, and also reports that are now starting to come out about the version of what happened on the part of the police officer? What are you hearing about all that?

    YAMICHE ALCINDOR: People are very, very angry.

    I think that that autopsy really escalated a lot of people’s anger toward the police, because people are saying, OK, not only did he not — did we think that he was shot with his hands up, but six times, especially with that pathologist saying that Michael Brown could have survived the first shots, but that last shot, that shot to his head, was the one that killed him.

    So people here are really, really upset about that. There was a man here who was trying to order peace, who was trying to be a peacekeeper. And he said, you know, we really need time to digest this autopsy. So that tells just you that even the people that are trying to keep peace understand that the autopsy is really inflaming people. So, really, people are really upset here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what about the version of the story coming out from the police officer? Are you hearing any conversation about that?

    YAMICHE ALCINDOR: People are really thinking that the police officer is lying. A lot of people are saying that they think that this officer was strategically covered up by his department.

    They say that it took so long for them to release his name, it took so long for them to do all these different things, that they really don’t trust any version coming out of the police department.

    So a lot of people are saying that they really just don’t believe what the police are saying. And that’s why they are protesting. They say that that’s part of the problem, that it’s not just police brutality. It’s not just people being shot, but it’s also the cover-up, the idea that the cops are really trying to protect their own.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, so people — are they looking to the police department locally to prosecute this? Are they now — now that we know the attorney general is coming in, where are people looking now for justice, the next step?

    YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Some people trust their local community. Some people trust their local prosecutor. They say let’s start the process here and see what happens.

    So, I think some people are saying, you know, if the local prosecutor can get this done, if he can indict this officer for murder, which is what a lot of the protesters here want, then maybe we can trust the process.

    But I think a lot of people, especially the community leaders and the people that have come in from outside, Reverend Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King Jr., they’re all saying that they want to see a federal investigation and a federal prosecution. So I think that there are people mainly from the outside that I think are starting — we want to try to see if there is a way for the federal government to prosecute.

    But I think the people locally here are saying, well, let’s maybe start here, start in our neighborhood where Michael Brown was killed and then maybe we can take this federally if it gets to that point.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yamiche Alcindor, reporter for USA Today on the ground there in Ferguson, Missouri, thank you.

    And we turn now to two leaders in the community. Earlier this evening, I spoke with former Ferguson Mayor Brian Fletcher and Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal.

    Former Mayor Fletcher, State Senator Chappelle-Nadal, we thank you for joining us.

    I want to ask you first about the governor’s decision to call in the National Guard. We just heard President Obama say he wants that to be a limited use of the Guard and in an appropriate manner.

    Senator Chappelle-Nadal, what do you make of the decision to call out the Guard?

    MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL, D, State Senator: Well, what I would agree to is that we certainly need some order in this community.

    There are certain elements that have come into the Ferguson area that are not welcome. We have heard that anarchists have come from across the country to incite negativity in the community. And all Ferguson residents, all they want to do is to be able to protest in peace. And we just want to make sure there’s order and we do not have disturbances.

    We want to make sure that all businesses are safe, and that every single resident is safe as they are protesting and trying to live their lives.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Former Mayor Brian Fletcher, tell me, what is your reaction to calling out the Guard to patrol your community? And why do believe it’s been so hard to bring calm to the area?

    FORMER MAYOR BRIAN FLETCHER, Ferguson: I don’t think anyone quite knows the answer why calm is not coming, except for a lot of unanswered questions at this point. I do believe the National Guard is necessary. We do need the protection of our businesses during the evening hours.

    And I think this will help some of the destruction that’s occurring in the city.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Chappelle-Nadal, what is your sense of why it’s been so hard to get the situation calm?

    MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Well, frankly, you have to go back to what I have been saying since day one, since I have been at ground zero. Governor Nixon has not come to ground zero, one or two. And it’s concerning to the residents who are the victims in the situation.

    Most of the people here at ground zero are young people who have been intimidated and harassed at any given time. And they all see themselves as a Michael Brown. And because the governor has a disconnect with the community that is most affected, I think he just didn’t understand how to go about answering the needs of the community. And instead of leaning on the people who are affected at ground zero, he has relied on folks who have no connection to the people who are most impacted.

    BRIAN FLETCHER: Judy, I — can I respond to the same question?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes.

    BRIAN FLETCHER: All right.

    First of all, Judy, most of the individuals coming into our community disrupting it are not from Ferguson itself. Very few of the protesters are actually from Ferguson. And definitely the people causing the violence are not from Ferguson.

    What we need is, we need our children to go back to school. We don’t need the attention that we’re getting. Our city hall cannot function. We need the help of the National Guard. And, quite frankly, I don’t believe the media is helping. It is giving the opportunity for those that wish to do bad to actually show it on video.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me just in the short time we have left, what do both — the two of you believe it is going to take to restore a calm to the community and a sense of confidence that justice will be done?

    BRIAN FLETCHER: OK. I will start with that.

    What the community is doing, we have organized a group called I Love Ferguson. We have ordered 3,000 yard signs that say “I Love Ferguson” that will sprout up through Ferguson. I raised $8,000 within 24 hours of $5, little boys bringing up change, and these signs will start being up on Wednesday morning.

    MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Here’s the real deal.

    The constituents in this community, they want justice. They want to make sure that this officer is arrested, that there is a grand jury, and then that there’s justice through the justice system.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you both, Mayor and Senator Chappelle-Nadal.

    BRIAN FLETCHER: Thank you.

    The post What will it take to restore calm and justice in the Ferguson community? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    ebola1

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now the widening effects of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continue to spread.

    Jeffrey Brown has our update.

    JEFFREY BROWN: There was no sign of Ebola panic this weekend in downtown Monrovia, Liberia’s capital.

    But in a slum on Saturday night, angry residents stormed a quarantine center, stealing blood-stained sheets and spiriting away patients. Some charged those sent to the site had received little care. Others branded the Ebola outbreak a hoax. As of today, 17 patients were still missing, amid fears the attack will only spread the disease.

    Ebola has now appeared in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria, in the worst outbreak on record. It’s killed at least 1,145 people.

    Sierra Leone’s president, Ernest Bai Koroma, has appealed for more international help.

    PRESIDENT ERNEST BAIN KOROMA, Sierra Leone: This is a call we are now making to the world, because we need treatment centers. And in treatment centers, we need clinicians that require specialized training. We don’t have that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The effects of the crisis in West Africa have rippled across the continent. The government of Kenya in East Africa closed its borders today to travelers from the affected countries. But efforts to fight the outbreak are also gaining momentum. On Sunday, Doctors Without Borders opened a 120-bed treatment site in Monrovia. It’s the largest such center in history.

    And in this country, there’s word that two American patients being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta are improving.

    The post After one quarantine center is attacked in Liberia, another large Ebola medical facility opens appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JEFFREY BROWN: I spoke to John Moore, a photographer with Getty Images, a short time ago. He witnessed the attack on the quarantine center and has been documenting the outbreak in Monrovia.

    John Moore, thanks for joining us.

    First, tell us more about the event. Who was involved and why did they seem to be doing it?

    JOHN MOORE, Getty Images: Well, it was an angry crowd who had just driven away a burial team who had come to claim several bodies that were suspected of — people suspected of dying of Ebola.

    And the crowd drove away the burial teams and the police and then marched on the isolation ward, the holding center for Ebola patients. They pushed through the doors and told people that they really didn’t have Ebola after all, that they were sick of other causes, and that it was safe to come out.

    There’s a lot of people who deny the existence of Ebola here. They think that it’s a scheme, a hoax, a plot by the government to bring in international money. And they pulled these people out of the ward. And then I left the scene because it was getting difficult.

    And afterwards this crowd looted the facility, taking soiled mattresses and contaminated medical equipment, and I assume spreading the disease much more in their community.

    JEFFREY BROWN: These are patients under observation, not known to have Ebola yet. What about the center itself?  What are the conditions?  How well or poorly supplied is it?

    JOHN MOORE: The conditions were poor and the place was very poorly supplied.

    It was run by the Liberian Ministry of Health. It was a small center. It was actually a primary school that had been closed because of the epidemic, a school built by USAID funds. And they had no medicine there.

    Now, we know Ebola is not curable. However, you can treat the symptoms. And they had no aspirin to reduce the fever of these patients. All they gave them was food and water, and so the conditions were quite bad.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You’re describing one violent incident. Can you tell how widespread the anger and fear are in Monrovia now?  Is it a general sense, or is the government actually reaching most people with a call for calm?

    JOHN MOORE: The government is trying.

    And the international community — I was just with UNICEF today as they were canvassing another area of town, trying to explain to people how to prevent the disease. I wouldn’t say there’s general panic. I would expect there to be more, quite frankly. People are concerned, but they’re concerned about lots of things. There’s lots of reasons that people get sick in this country.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You have also been documenting burials and other parts of cultural life affected by what is happening.

    Give us an example of how everyday life is affected and in some cases makes it harder, perhaps, to address the disease.

    JOHN MOORE: Well, everyday life is affected, in that the schools and the hospitals and clinics are mostly all closed.

    And if you are sick from some other disease, or if you are having a baby, or if you are doing the things we do as humans, you sometimes need medical attention. And without these facilities open, people are sick and dying of things that they shouldn’t be sick and dying of.

    And so the disease is affecting the health system in other ways, the health system that has really collapsed.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And looking at the photographs you’re able to take, and how close to the situation you are, what precautions do you yourself take?

    JOHN MOORE: I came to Liberia with a full set of what they call PPE, which is personal protective equipment, which is anti-contamination clothing. And I came with many sets of coveralls, gloves, goggles, boot covers, all sorts of things, wipes, and lots of sanitizer, things to keep me healthy.

    And all these things are one-time use. They get disposed of after I go into an infected area. And I dress with teams who are going in to collect bodies. And I undress all these items with them, so they are spraying me with disinfectant the whole time. I’m doing my best to stay safe.

    JEFFREY BROWN: John Moore, do take care, and thank you again for joining us.

    JOHN MOORE: Thank you.

    The post Photographer documents effects of Ebola on daily life in Liberia appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    teacherled

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: addressing the high turnover rate among public school teachers.

    John Tulenko of Learning Matters Television, which produces reports for the NewsHour, looks at a Boston school where the teachers have taken charge.

    JOHN TULENKO: For more than 20 years, Susan Sluyter loved being a public schoolteacher. But starting around 2001 with passage of the education law known as No Child Left Behind, her feelings began to change.

    SUSAN SLUYTER: I started to feel deadened. I felt like I had lost inspiration. I wasn’t able to teach in the way that I had learned how to teach.

    JOHN TULENKO: Her child-centered approach fell out of favor as testing and accountability became the new buzzwords.

    SUSAN SLUYTER: Almost like a tsunami of data collection frenzy. Such a shift. You have to do this because we want this number and we want this result on the test.

    JOHN TULENKO: Gradually, her frustrations grew, and last march, Sluyter quit.

    SUSAN SLUYTER: I felt — I got to a point where I was feeling like I was contributing to — to pain for children. And I didn’t want to do that anymore. I couldn’t keep teaching and hold on to any integrity.

    TONY WAGNER, Harvard University: This is an incredibly hard time to be a teacher. I really feel very, very badly for those who are in the classroom every single day. I don’t think their work is respected or appreciated. And I think too often they feel dictated to.

    JOHN TULENKO: To education professor Tony Wagner of Harvard University, the top-down climate in many public schools is contributing to an exodus of teachers. Some 8 percent, more than 200,000 quit each year. And a national survey found dissatisfaction with the job has increased from 40 percent four years ago to nearly 60 percent today.

    But, rather than quit, some teachers are taking back their classrooms in what are called teacher-led schools, like Mission Hill School in Boston, Massachusetts.

    Kathy D’Andrea teaches kindergarten.

    KATHY D’ANDREA, Mission Hill School: We’re democratic not just in theory, but in practice. Anything that comes down the pike is a conversation, right? I can say, this is how I’m feeling. This is what is happening.

    JOHN TULENKO: Mission Hill is one of about 70 teacher-led schools that have emerged around the country in recent years. Some of them choose to operate without a school principal. Here, they have one, but the job’s different.

    When you have a decision to make in the school, do you get the final word?

    AYLA GAVINS, Mission Hill School: I don’t get the final word.

    JOHN TULENKO: Principal Ayla Gavins, who prefers to be called lead teacher, doesn’t even get the traditional private office.

    AYLA GAVINS: It’s really a joint effort. I don’t have all the skills, all the background, all the talents that this group has.

    JOHN TULENKO: Two, three, four heads are better than one.

    AYLA GAVINS: Yes.

    JOHN TULENKO: In line with that thinking, all decisions, curriculum, budget, hiring, are voted on by the entire staff. Nothing goes forward until everyone agrees.

    WOMAN: When we make decisions, we have a raise of hands. So, five, you strongly agree, four, you agree, you have some reservations, but you can live with it. But if you put a one, you disagree and we stop. We don’t go on until everyone can say they have a five or a four.

    With this authority, teachers decide the look and feel of their classrooms. There’s lots of low lighting and soothing music. Arts and crafts are everywhere, all part of Mission Hill’s personality.

    Teacher Jenerra Williams:

    JENERRA WILLIAMS, Mission Hill School: We’re not going to use a packaged curriculum. We’re going to use students’ voices to shape our curriculum, that we’re going to shape our curriculum around their interests. I think, at most other schools, it’s a lot of, you will follow this. You must follow this, and there’s never any room to breathe.

    JOHN TULENKO: But even those who favor giving teachers more say have reservations.

    Tony Wagner:

    TONY WAGNER: Too often, I think the teaching profession is kind of heads down, get the job done, you know, focus on the kids in front of you, do what’s required, without having the time to sort of look around and reflect, how is the world changing, how is what I’m teaching today different from what I taught 10 or 20 years ago, how does it need to be different?

    JOHN TULENKO: Teachers here like this model so much, there’s very little turnover. But it has its drawbacks when it comes to making hard decisions, with everyone voting and consensus required.

    What happens if you can’t agree in the end?

    WOMAN: We get someone to help us. We talk and talk and talk, and it could take months to decide.

    JOHN TULENKO: OK, fine. So that leads perfectly to my next question. Raise your hand if you agree with this statement. In this school, we spend too much time talking and too little time deciding. OK.

    WOMAN: In this school, we don’t talk and talk and talk and things don’t happen. We talk and talk and talk so things happen.

    JOHN TULENKO: Some people might find that a very frustrating way to work.

    AYLA GAVINS: I think it’s an essential thing. Every time there is a situation when we’re in disagreement and we talk and talk and talk until we are in agreement, it uncovers so many things, often many misconceptions or lack of trust or whatever, things — poisonous things that can grow in a community. Doesn’t happen here.

    JOHN TULENKO: Does putting teachers in charge result in students doing better? Here, 40 percent of the students are proficient in English, in math 26 percent. That’s on par with the rest of the district, but still low.

    The public looks at your test scores and says, it’s not working. How do you respond?

    JENERRA WILLIAMS: I think no school, no child and no teacher should be evaluated on one slice of the puzzle.

    JOHN TULENKO: So what else do you look at?

    JENERRA WILLIAMS: Come see it. See the work, right? Ask teachers in schools to put together portfolios of students’ work so that you can see their progress. But what we don’t do is change what we do so that we can only do better on this test.

    KATHY D’ANDREA: You have to trust that the people who are closest to the child are working in a capacity of excellence. You have to trust that they know children well, and are taking children where they need to go.

    JOHN TULENKO: But the conundrum is this. Must student performance improved before teachers can be trusted, or can we trust that greater independence for teachers will result in higher performance?

    Tony Wagner favors the hands-off approach, but not until we follow the lead of higher-performing countries like Finland, that do far more to prepare teachers for the job.

    TONY WAGNER: Finland said, we have got to better prepare our teachers starting 35 years ago. They closed down 80 percent of the teacher preparation programs. So the motto in Finland today is trust through professionalism, not blind trust, not trust no matter what. It is that we have prepared you to be extraordinary professionals. Now we trust you to be the professionals we have trained you to be.

    JOHN TULENKO: Here in this country, where many students fall behind, it’s likely districts will simply hand teachers the keys to school. Wagner’s train-and-trust approach may be the best way to improve their satisfaction.

    The post Would greater independence for teachers result in higher student performance? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    hunger

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: New we look at the challenge of hunger in America.

    A study released today by the nation’s largest food bank network paints a grim picture.

    Jeff is back with that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: That report by the nonprofit group Feeding America found that roughly one in seven people in the country, 46 million people, rely on food banks or other charitable organizations for basic nutrition. They included some 620,000 military households and an increased number of adult college students.

    Food bank clients come from all demographic groups, in suburbs, as well as urban areas. And many report facing the choice between buying food and paying for utilities, rent, medicine and other necessities.

    Joining us is Deborah Flateman. She’s the executive director of the MARYLAND FOOD BANK and a board member of Feeding America.

    Welcome to you.

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN, President & CEO, Maryland Food Bank: Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: On a general level first, what do we learn from this report about who is hungry in America?

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: You know, honestly, from my point of view, it verifies what we have been seeing trending over the past few years. I think one of the most significant pieces of data tells us that more than half of the people who are accessing food through the emergency feeding system, including food banks and food shelves, are people who are working.

    JEFFREY BROWN: That have jobs.

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: Exactly.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But it’s not enough.

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: That’s right, it’s not enough.

    We have been seeing that anecdotally through our agencies for several years now.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, I mean, it’s interesting to compare it to the height of the recession. Things have gotten better in some ways. People might even have jobs, but still not abating.

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: Right.

    An interesting example of that is recently the steel mills in Baltimore, for instance, closed down. And so the folks who are going to be able to find employment have to go through retraining. We’re sending tractor-trailer loads of food over to help them out on a monthly basis because even if they retrain and reenter the market, they’re not going to make the level of income that they did.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You’re in Maryland.

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: A relatively well-off state.

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: Exactly. So isn’t it shocking that, you know, some 10, 11 percent of Maryland population are people who are living on the emergency feeding assistance program?

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s also interesting and it’s something we have looked at, at the programming of the last year, that this is not in any way just an urban phenomenon anymore.

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: No, that’s very true.

    In fact, you know, we see that it’s even an added layer of difficulty for those who live in rural areas, because access to food is more difficult in those areas. If you don’t have transportation, you can’t get to your local food pantry. So, you know, we’re very concerned with that as well. JEFFREY BROWN: A couple of populations on this report really jumped out at us here and I think would surprise a lot of people. One is the number of military families.

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: Right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What do you see happening?

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: You know, I know that in Maryland, for instance, you know, we have got a high concentration of bases. We have got a lot of military in Maryland. And, you know, we’re about — over 6 percent of all of the people that we serve are people who are in active military, right?

    You know, what do I make of it? I think that, you know, people of all types are falling on hardship. And once they fall, it’s difficult to get yourself out. You know, the cost of living in Maryland is very high. It’s not surprising to me.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What kind of needs do they have? Are they similar to others?

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: Yes, they are families just like every other family that we see at our agency.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Another population is college students. Now, these are mostly adult students.

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: Yes. Yes.

    Well, you can imagine. You’re trying to go through that advanced degree. You might be married. You’re living in married housing. You know, you’re doing the work that you need to do, not necessarily making the money that you actually need to sustain. So it is not surprising.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Now, tell us how all this impacts the work that you and other food banks around the country are trying to do.

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: Well, you know, a couple of things, I would say.

    One is, we were concerned about the condition health wise of many of the people who responded to this study, that a large passage of people have diabetes. A large percentage had high blood pressure. A lot of that has to do with the high cost of food and spending money on cheaper, less healthy food, just so that their dollars can go farther.

    So from our perspective, if we can get a more nutritious mix out into the field, lots of fresh produce — so we have been focusing on — I know Feeding America is very focused on building our produce program, because that is going to be our answer to rounding out nutrition.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, this was one of the sadder aspects to the report, the way it looks, is that people are — they say they’re making poor choices. They know they’re making poor choices in terms of the lack of health in the food.

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: That’s right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: They’re not buying the most healthy food.

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: That’s right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Because they can’t, or because it’s not accessible, because of price? Why?

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: I think it’s because of price. I think they’re just trying to meet the immediate need of hunger in the least expensive way. And it means that — and it also has a lot to do with access.

    And so the other thing that we’re focusing on is, what are we doing as a food bank network to make sure that we’re getting adequate amounts of food into every area that we serve? I know food banks across the country are building out mobile food pantry programs. And, you know, we do a lot of things with summer feeding for youth, for instance, taking hot meals out to kids, you know, during the summertime and after school. So it is meeting people where the need is.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And what about the support that you get? Is it enough? Are you having to find new ways to raise money and to get food?

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: You know, we — yes, you always have to find new ways.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: That was an easy question.

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: To find food and funds. Yes, it was.

    But, you know, I’m just really encouraged and this study is going to help a lot, I think, bringing to light for the general public that, if we get behind this movement of ending hunger, we can actually end hunger in this country. And I truly believe it. So, let this data speak to all of us and let all of us get involved.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Deborah Flateman of the Maryland Food Bank, thank you so much.

    DEBORAH FLATEMAN: Thanks, Jeff.

    The post More emergency food assistance going to working Americans, study finds appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Photo by Flickr user Keith Allison

    Photo by Flickr user Keith Allison

    With the kickoff of NFL’s regular season less than three weeks away, CBS Sports’ lead analyst and former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms announced on Monday that he is considering calling the Washington Redskins only “Washington” when he covers the team’s game against the New York Giants in September.

    CBS Sports made headlines in July when its president, Sean McManus, decided that the CBS Sports announcers can individually choose to use the term “Redskins” or not. Simms, despite his decision, said he is not taking sides in the controversy over whether the mascot is racist or offensive.

    The nationwide debate over “Redskins” has been escalating in the past year. The University of Minnesota is trying to block the use of the team’s name at its stadium for the upcoming season, while newspapers and politicians have refused to recognize the team by the name. In June, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled 2-1 that the name is “disparaging of Native Americans” and that it must be canceled.

    The post CBS Sports’ lead analyst may avoid ‘Redskins’ on TV appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    iraq1b

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama announced this afternoon that control over a critical dam in Northern Iraq had been taken away from Sunni militants. The Mosul dam was captured by the Islamic State group earlier this month.

    But this weekend, there were conflicting reports over who was in full control over the facility, as Iraqi government troops and Kurdish Peshmerga forces advanced on the dam with the help of American air support. The dam is just one front line in the battle against the Islamic State group.

    Our chief foreign affairs correspondent, Margaret Warner is on another nearby, where Peshmerga fighters are trying to hold recently regained ground against those Sunni militants.

    MARGARET WARNER: Sixty miles due east of Mosul lies the booming city of Irbil, capital of the semiautonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, home to U.S. and foreign companies drawn by its oil wealth and development prospects. Office towers rise near high-end car dealerships, all baking in the 115-summer heat of the desert.

    Saving this city from the onslaught of Islamic State fighters was one of the two goals President Obama cited in announcing U.S. airstrikes on August 7. Though the advance of I.S., also known as ISIS or ISIL, on Irbil was halted and rolled back, U.S. airstrikes in the area continue. And beneath the bustle of daily life here, there is still a sense of foreboding.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): Of course. I’m so worried every night when I lie down on my bed.

    MARGARET WARNER: For good reason. Just 40 miles southwest, outside the town of Makhmour, Kurdish military units, the Peshmerga, man the front lines against the fundamentalist Islamic State forces.

    Makhmour was taken over by the Islamist militants just two weeks ago using sophisticated American-made weapons captured in June from fleeing Iraqi army units in the city of Mosul. But three days later, under cover of U.S. airstrikes hitting that ISIS heavy weaponry, Peshmerga retook Makhmour from the jihadi fighters.

    Peshmerga Colonel Jabar Mohi Osman now commands the operation here.

    COL. JABAR MOHI OSMAN, Peshmerga (through interpreter): The security situation is excellent. No one inside the town hears the sound of a single shot.

    MARGARET WARNER: How important were the American airstrikes?

    COL. JABAR MOHI OSMAN (through interpreter): The American role was very important, a very important psychological plus for the Peshmerga, destroyed most of the heavy weapons that I.S. had caught and made it easy for us to retake this town.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yet all is not as secure as it seems. We’re on the very edge of the front line of the city of Makhmour. Less than one-and-a-half miles south of here are ISIS forces still with some heavily artillery. But the Peshmerga fighters here vow not only to hold this line, but to advance.

    We were quickly urged to leave as the Peshmerga prepared to launch rockets at Islamic State artillery nearby. Back in Makhmour, despite the colonel’s assurances, we found a virtual ghost town. Only a few hundred of its nearly 20,000 residents who fled have returned, among them, English teacher Ziad Rafik Mohammed, who, unlike most returnees here, actually brought his family too.

    He described what happened when Islamic State forces, which he shorthanded by its Kurdish Arabic Daash, began shelling the town and then moved in.

    MAN: Daash is attacking like a savage. You see people that — but you see much more empty. Maybe the people you see here (INAUDIBLE) people much more…

    MARGARET WARNER: Why did you come back?

    MAN: Because, you see my — the building and my property from here. And I like my (INAUDIBLE) another attacking, shelling, but I don’t fear for myself, but maybe I fear for my children, for my wife.

    MARGARET WARNER: Most internally displaced Iraqis have decided the risk is too high to go home. Tens of thousands are in the Irbil area, camping out wherever they can find shelter, like these 200 families from Mosul parked temporarily in abandoned storefronts.

    KHASI SHABAN KADIR, Irbil (through interpreter): I wish I could die now.

    MARGARET WARNER: Khasi Shaban Kadir, living with her family in a relative’s outbuilding in Irbil, escaped the ISIS onslaught on her tiny village on the outskirts of Makhmour, and despite the retaking of Makhmour, she’s too afraid to return.

    KHASI SHABAN KADIR (through interpreter): If the situation remains like now, no. Where can I go back to? We don’t feel safe. We are afraid to go back because of the Arabs. They would kill us.

    MARGARET WARNER: Do you mean your own Arab neighbors would have killed you or ISIL fighters?

    KHASI SHABAN KADIR (through interpreter): Yes, we are actually very close to Arabs. Their villages are just next to ours. They have joined Daash in the fight.

    MARGARET WARNER: She and her family are among an estimated 1.5 million Iraqis who fled the ISIS advance through their country just since January. Accompanying us was Tahir Tawfik Ahmed, senior adviser to the Kurdish regional government’s human rights commission. His phone was constantly buzzing with reports of new waves of internally displaced people pouring into the Kurdish region.

    What plans are you making for the long-term care of these people here in Iraqi Kurdistan?

    TAHIR TAWFIK AHMED, Human Rights Commission, Kurdistan Regional Government (through interpreter): We know the situation may last a long time. So the government has long-term plans for that. But this is a huge burden on the government’s shoulders. This is why we the Kurds have asked international agencies to help. We have millions of IDPs and refugees. And if they don’t feel safe to go home, the Kurds cannot provide aid for all of them alone.

    MARGARET WARNER: For now, it appears the Kurdish government is on the hook. We went with Khasi Kadir’s 41-year-old son, Salim Sabah, back to a village of Palani on the outskirts of Makhmour, but we had to stop more than a mile away after Peshmerga warnings that the Islamic State forces may have booby-trapped his town.

    SALMI SABAH KADIR (through interpreter): I want to go back to breathe the freedom, but I’m not sure I can. Before we fled, we had lots of animals, sheep and goats. We couldn’t take them and they died.

    MARGARET WARNER: So if you go back, how will you support yourself?

    SALMI SABAH KADIR (through interpreter): If we get back, I’m hopeful we can sort it out. If we get to go back, I’m hopeful we can live.

    MARGARET WARNER: For now, the closest can get is within view to look yearningly at his village.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And I spoke to Margaret a short time ago.

    Margaret, thank you for talking with us. Now that we have heard President Obama say the Kurdish Peshmerga have retaken the Mosul dam, tell us about how hard a fight that was. Why so much confusion over who was in control?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, Judy, it’s a huge, a huge win for — it wasn’t just the Peshmerga, the Kurdish fighters, but also the Iraqi military with the help of the United States, to retake this dam.

    And I’m told one of the reasons for the confusion was that it really was back and forth. The U.S. airstrikes, there were some 15 just today around the dam, had to be very targeted, very pinpointed, because, of course, the risk was that this dam, which supplies so much water and electricity for all of Iraq along the Tigris River, could get destroyed by the fight over it.

    There were also — there is also an ancillary dam. There was also the problem of the fact that the Islamic State fighters left behind land mines and booby traps. So, really, there have been conflicting reports for 48 hours, and claims that were not justified.

    But it was all coordinated here in Irbil in this joint operation center set up by the United States, intelligence, special forces and so on, with both Kurdish military and Iraqi military. And it was U.S. intelligence and airstrikes that coordinated with fighters from both those other groups to take this dam.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Margaret, we also — we heard in your report that the Kurds remain scared. How much are they counting on the U.S. to continue airstrikes, to continue other kinds of support?

    MARGARET WARNER: Yes.

    Judy, I have been amazed being here in Irbil, which feels safe to me compared to a place like Baghdad. A young doctor told me today, you should have been there three weeks ago. We were all scared to death. He said, thank God for American airstrikes.

    The total message we have gotten from people is here, without the umbrella of American airstrikes and the continued threat of them — you know, there was one as recently as Friday night, and I’m told pretty reliably that that was on artillery positions that U.S. and Kurdish intelligence identified had the range to even hit here in Irbil, the strikes continue. And to people here, that means a lot.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, how much more indication is there of what the U.S. is prepared to do militarily?

    MARGARET WARNER: Judy, that’s only known by the mind of President Obama. And both U.S. and Kurdish officials here say they really don’t know.

    He’s made it clear, as he just said in his statement, that he wants to do more, that it’s not enough to have the Islamic State controlling one-third of Iraq, essentially, which they do now. The U.S. will, of course, continue to send humanitarian the effort, as he said.

    But the U.S. is prepared to do more in the way of intelligence, in the way of furnishing weapons, if there can be a political agreement among the Sunnis, the Shiites and the Kurds to work together, and not just politically, not just a nice photo-op politically, but working together militarily.

    And I can tell you that is going to be very, very hard. The Sunnis aren’t united. We were on the front lines, as you saw in our piece, just yesterday, of Kurdish Peshmerga. They’re even divided into two different Peshmergas, depending on which political party they’re part of.

    So there’s — even though there is a 30-day deadline on this, there is a long way to go before I think the president makes a decision on how much more aggressively he is going to commit U.S. firepower, airpower, military power to the effort.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Margaret Warner reporting for us from Irbil in Iraq, we thank you.

    MARGARET WARNER: My pleasure, Judy, as always.

    The post Despite military advances, displaced Iraqis fear risks of returning home appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    Photo by Flickr user Andy Melton

    Photo by Flickr user Andy Melton

    Finnish-based mobile technology giant Nokia and researchers at Queen Mary University of London are dreaming up a way to turn ambient noise into a power source for the cellphones of tomorrow. In a press release published Friday, the University describes how its team developed the experimental technology after observing performance boots in solar cells exposed to pulsing pop and rock music.

    The key to converting sound into electricity, QMUL and Nokia found, is a particular application of zinc oxide — a water soluble, inorganic compound commonly used in plastics, ceramics and glass. Fibers coated in zinc oxide are particularly piezoelectric in nature, creating voltage when pressure is applied.

    The team has manufactured a version of zinc oxide in the form of “nanorods” that can be applied to the surfaces of other materials. When exposed to the physical, vibrational energy that produces sound, the nanorods expand and contract, and that movement is converted into electricity. Researchers were able to create five volts of electricity, more than enough to charge a smartphone.

    The post Charging smartphones by soundwaves appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Photo by Mark Schierbecker, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    What questions do you have for Piper Kerman? Photo by Mark Schierbecker, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    The lauded dark comedy “Orange is the New Black” already has won three Creative Arts Emmys ahead of Monday’s Emmy Awards ceremony.

    Friday on PBS NewsHour, Hari Sreenivasan will interview Piper Kerman — the woman behind “Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Woman’s Prison,” her memoir that was adapted into Netflix’s popular series.

    What questions do you have for Kerman? Leave your suggestions for Hari in the comments below.

    The post What are your questions for ‘Orange is the New Black’ author Piper Kerman? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17:  Nautica Blanks (L), Santori Blanks (on shoulders) and Launcia Blanks pose for a portrait with their signs during a protest of Michael Brown's murder August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Tensions still run high in the Ferguson community after 18 -year-old Michael Brown was killed by a Ferguson Police Officer August 9 on Canfield Drive. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

    Nautica Blanks, left, with Santori Blanks and Launcia Blanks, right, hold signs featuring some of the trending hashtags being used on Twitter in the wake of the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager who was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images

    This past week, countless users have taken to social media to discuss the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer and the ensuing protests and violence in Ferguson, Missouri. Hashtags such as #IfTheyGunnedMeDown and #HandsUpDontShoot have spurred an online conversation about race and justice.

    Simultaneously, Twitter and Facebook users have been overwhelmed with videos of people dumping buckets of ice over their heads as they take part in the #icebucketchallenge, a now viral effort to raise awareness of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. What do these hashtags have in common (other than the fact that they are trending on Twitter)? Both are examples of hashtag activism — a term coined to describe the use of viral hashtags to raise awareness and foster discussion about specific issues and causes via social media. Other examples include #Kony2012, #BringBackOurGirls and #YesAllWomen.

    As you might deduce from this list, different instances of hashtag activism have had varying degrees of legitimacy and success. Similarly, the practice of employing social media to promote the cause du jour has received a mixed reception. Proponents of hashtag activism celebrate its ability to raise awareness and magnify voices that might not otherwise be heard. Critics claim that hashtags rise and then quickly fade from public consciousness, in part because they are often embraced by individuals who have little or no vested interest in the cause.

    Does hashtag activism foster a false sense of accomplishment, allowing Facebook and Twitter users to feel they have done something when in reality their social media post will have no tangible impact? Or is it an important method of raising awareness, one with the potential to affect real world change? We asked you to share your thoughts in a Twitter chat. Stacia Brown of ColorLines joined the discussion through her Twitter handle, @slb79. Read a transcript of the conversation below.

    The post Twitter Chat: Can hashtag activism have real impact? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Turns out this photo, taken by a monkey, is not protected under a new U.S. copyright law.

    Turns out this photo, taken by a monkey, is not protected under a new U.S. copyright law.

    In its first revision in over two decades, the U.S. Copyright Office has published a new draft update to its existing rules regarding ownership of photographs, text and art, stating that non-human beings cannot own copyright.

    The changes come in the wake of Wikimedia Commons’ controversial refusal to take down a self-portrait taken by an crested black macaque, an Indonesian monkey, that has since gone viral.

    British wildlife photographer David Slater claimed copyright of the photo because the macaque had taken the photograph with one of his cameras while on a shoot in Indonesia in 2011. His request was denied; Wikimedia claimed U.S. law supported that “copyright cannot vest in non-human authors.”

    Since the dispute, Slater has sought legal counsel and has claimed the photo has cost him thousands of dollars.

    The new rules published Thursday now explicitly supports Wikimedia’s claim that works produced by “nature, animals or plants,” and any work created by “divine or supernatural beings” cannot claim copyright.

    The rules continue to list examples such as:

    - A photograph taken by a monkey.
    - A mural painted by an elephant.
    - A claim based on driftwood that has been shaped and smoothed by
    the ocean.
    - A claim based on cut marks, defects and other qualities found in
    natural stone.
    - An application for a song naming the Holy Spirit as the author of the
    work.

    The draft will remain on review until mid-December when it will then be official law.

    The post U.S. Copyright Office rules monkeys can’t copyright their selfies appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama (R) attend the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague March 24, 2014.    REUTERS/Yves Herman

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe needs to address his country’s demographic challenges and overhaul its longstanding economic model, argues economist Milton Ezrati. Above, Abe attends the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague this spring with President Barack Obama. Photo by Yves Herman/REUTERS.

    Editor’s Note: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made reviving the Japanese economy a central part of his second stint in office. He’s been so focused on tackling his country’s deflation that his economic policies are collectively referred to eponymously as “Abenomics.”

    The Council on Foreign Relations’ Beina Xu provides a solid overview of his three-part approach:

    Abe’s Keynesian-inspired plan, dubbed “Abenomics,” takes a three-pronged approach to reflate the economy through monetary, fiscal, and structural policies. It includes a hefty stimulus package worth 20.2 trillion yen ($210 billion), of which 10.3 trillion ($116 billion) would come in government spending with a focus on infrastructure. The Bank of Japan (BOJ) also doubled its inflation target to 2 percent, and the government is aiming to create six hundred thousand jobs in a matter of two years. Lastly, structural changes—including industry liberalization, corporate tax cuts, and increased workforce diversity—aim to sustain the reforms long-term.

    As Xu wrote in June, the first two strategies, or “arrows,” seemed to have worked relatively well. And in what’s been greeted as good news, announced Wednesday, exports rose for the first time in three months, spelling a possible recovery in overseas demand.

    Discussing a Brookings Institution paper on Abenomics’ preliminary outlook this spring – before the release of Abenomics’ most recent plank, Justin Wolfers agrees that there are some signs Abenomics is working, but that the progress observed so far is not going to be enough.

    “There’s a great deal of uncertainty, really, whether what we’re seeing is a slow adjustment to a policy that will have large, long-run effects, or a small initial effect because it’s only going to be a small long-run effect,” Wolfers says.

    But economist Milton Ezrati feels strongly that Abe isn’t doing enough to help Japan’s economy and that the current plan is hardly adequate to deal with the country’s needs. In the following column, he argues that the “three arrows” offer little that hasn’t been tried and failed before, and that instead, Abenomics needs to confront the reality of an aging population and outdated economic model.

    Ezrati is senior economist and market strategist for Lord, Abbett & Co. and an affiliate of the Center for the Study of Human Capitol at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He’s written a book about Japan’s economic and cultural transformation, “Kawari,” and previously written for Making Sen$e about how America can overcome the challenges of an aging population.

    – Simone Pathe, Making Sen$e Editor


    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will have to do more to revitalize his country’s economy, or Japan will remain mired in the stagnation that has plagued it for more than 20 years now. He’s recently added to his revitalization plans, but they’re not enough.

    Abe describes his policies, commonly called Abenomics, in terms of three “arrows.” The first is a massive infusion of financial liquidity into the economy. The second is a huge program of government spending on roads, bridges, ports, and economic infrastructure generally. The third arrow would address much-needed structural reform. That would include actions to cope with an aging population and to adjust to a world economic order that has changed radically from the one that shaped Japan’s current economic structure.

    Abe shot his first two arrows almost immediately after outlining his program last year. His third arrow, the most important of the three, remained in his quiver for months until unveiled with the recent announcement of his economic revival plan this summer. Now that the whole package is out in the open, it is clearly neither as novel as he claims nor adequate to Japan’s needs.

    The first two arrows are, in fact, little different from the policies that have long failed Japan. The easy monetary policy may sound new — like a Japanese version of the quantitative easing used by the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and the European Central Bank — but at base, it is little different from the policies used by Tokyo for over half a century to promote exports by depressing the foreign exchange value of the yen. Monetary stimulus of this sort can have other uses, but in Japan’s case, the currency link is unmistakable. Abe emphasized it during his election campaign. Decades ago, such policies worked well to propel Japan’s economy, making it an unbeatable export machine. Now that aging demographics have disproportionately enlarged the country’s retired population, the effectiveness of these monetary stimulus policies is questionable. Other versions of this tactic have, after all, failed for the last two decades.

    “Japan has relied on such fiscal stimulus measures for so long now that the country shares a standing joke about how all its rivers have concrete beds.”

    Infrastructure spending even more closely resembles the failed policies of the past. Japan has relied on such fiscal stimulus measures for so long now that the country shares a standing joke about how all its rivers have concrete beds. Reliance on such spending and its attendant financing burdens are why Japan’s outstanding public debt has risen to over 250 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), more than twice the relative size of public debt in the United States and by far the highest of any major nation. Meanwhile, the economic stagnation of the last 20-plus years speaks loudly to the policy’s ineffectiveness.

    Perhaps even less appealing is the questionable motivation behind such spending. The Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled Japan for most of the last 60 years and of which the current prime minister is leader, has notoriously used infrastructure spending to reward firms and regions that support the party. There is no reason to believe that today’s party leaders are behaving any differently. Indeed, the party’s willingness to raise consumption taxes, and then offset the ill effects on the economy with spending on roads and bridges, is of a piece with past practices – using taxpayer monies to pay off political debts.

    Abe’s third arrow, delayed and only just announced under the heading, “Strategy for Reviving Japan,” does have encouraging features. At least it recognizes some of Japan’s underlying problems, which is more than any other Japanese prime minister has done. But it is clearly too limited and too narrowly conceived to deal with Japan’s huge fundamental reform needs. These fall broadly under two headings.

    Number one is the acute demographic pressure facing the nation. Increased longevity and low birth rates have already brought Japan’s population to the point where the country has fewer than three working-age people to support each retiree, a relative shortage of working hands and minds that will only become more acute in coming years. By 2030, Japan’s government estimates, the country will have fewer than two working-age people for each retiree. Such a lopsided mix of producers and consumers threatens to bankrupt Japan’s pension system. According to officials of Japan’s Social Security System, the overhang of retirees will, if policies remain unchanged, absorb almost half of the country’s GDP by 2040, an impossible financial burden. Meanwhile, the relative shortage of workers will sap Japan of raw labor power, with obvious implications for the economy’s growth potential and future prosperity. It certainly raises questions about Japan’s continuing efforts to remain a broad-based export powerhouse.

    Against this huge challenge, Abe’s new proposals look more like a gesture than a policy. He would supplement Japan’s supply of labor by bringing in a small number of workers from abroad — “trainees” his strategy document calls them. The object is to let in foreigners with needed skills. The press release accompanying the announcement mentioned “housekeepers.” While Japan may have a need in this area, there are surely other fields that can offer the economy more of a lift. Even if Tokyo were more willing on this front than it appears to be, Japan’s notoriously xenophobic culture would raise questions about how much help immigration can offer. The proposals also mention plans to exempt higher paid “white collar” workers from over-time rules. Squeezing more hours out of existing workers would fill some of the gap left by a shortage of working-age people. But there are surely limits on how much this measure can help too.

    Abe’s strategy shows more promise by seeking to encourage women to participate in the workforce in greater numbers. Here there is potential. Less than 50 percent of working-age Japanese women work outside the home. (The figure for women with children under 18 working outside the home in the United States is close to 70 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). To encourage mothers to seek gainful employment, Abe’s new proposals would create after-school programs for 10,000 children and increase the number of day-care centers. They would also modify tax and pension rules that presently favor stay-at-home moms. While this is clearly a useful direction for policy, the prime minister could do more. At the very least, Tokyo could aid child care on a grander scale. Ten thousand children is a lot, but even in a country with a remarkably low birth rate, it is only a beginning. It would surely encourage more women if Tokyo were also to change Japan’s labor laws so that they could command pay equal to men and if workplace rules were to become flexible enough to allow parents time during the day to ferry children from school to other supervised activities.

    Nor do the proposals even touch on the potential for encouraging longer careers for older workers. Such an effort would help in two ways: by increasing the number of people available for work and by reducing the proportion of dependent retirees in the population. Yet the Japanese, who are the longest living people on earth, can retire with full benefits from their public pensions at only 60 years. Surely a change in pension law and more flexible workplace rules to allow elders part-time status could add 10 or more years to the average career. Yet Abe’s strategy for reviving Japan ignores all this potential.

    The prime minister’s new proposals also ignore ways to alleviate the country’s demographic pressures by re-orienting its economy. Instead of relying on exports as an engine of growth, Japan could turn to consumer spending as an economic driver. Its superabundance of retirees would certainly tend to fuel such an engine. They may no longer produce, but they still consume. Of course, such an economic re-orientation would force Japan to import more, but the country can use that change to its advantage as well. By leaving to China and other emerging economies the output of simpler products that require a lot of labor in their production, Japan could tap youthful, eager workers abroad, even as those workers stay at home.

    To trade for these needed, labor-intensive goods, the country could use its advanced technology and well-trained, if limited, workforce to best advantage by re-focusing its domestic production on more complex, high-value-added processes and products. The change, of course, would require an increased emphasis on innovation, training and capital spending. Renewed focus on these areas might gain marginally from a separate, recent decision to reduce the corporate tax rate gradually from 35 percent today to 30 percent in the next several years, but otherwise, Abe has said little about any of this, much less done anything.

    A push for innovation and training is that much more desirable because of the country’s second broad reform need: a revamp of its general economic model. Japan’s existing economic approach relies on what the Japanese call the “iron triangle” – a close cooperation between politicians, bureaucrats and big business. In the distant past this arrangement effectively marshaled Japan’s economic resources to meet clear goals based on developments in the United States and other more developed nations of the time. The approach did wonders to bring the country up from the devastation of World War II and then promote decades of development. The problem is that Japan has caught up with the West. Instead of the iron triangle with its singular direction, Japan now needs a more innovative culture, one that encourages hundreds and thousands of economic and technological experiments and then capitalizes on those that work. But because innovation almost always comes from startups and firms that challenge existing business hierarchies, the iron triangle, particularly its big business side, has remained hostile to such a culture. Abe has made no mention of the iron triangle’s ill effects, much less proposed anything to modify or break it.

    Perhaps it is too soon to dismiss the prime minister and his program. Perhaps he is well aware of what needs to be done. It is not as if people outside the government – academics, business managers, financial experts, and even some politicians – have not written and discussed these fundamental needs for years. Perhaps Abe recognizes that this last aspect of his plan requires more political and social groundwork before he can implement it fully. There is always hope, but until he does commit himself and his country to a convincing and concrete policy of basic reform, it is impossible to raise much optimism about Japan’s prospects.

    The post Mr. Abe, Japan’s economy needs more appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...

older | 1 | .... | 432 | 433 | (Page 434) | 435 | 436 | .... | 1175 | newer


Loading...