Articles on this Page
- 08/24/14--10:25: _Dwelling atop the d...
- 08/24/14--12:58: _Man who served 24 y...
- 08/24/14--13:10: _U.S. journalist fre...
- 08/24/14--13:11: _Atlantic Ocean coul...
- 08/24/14--13:34: _Can online courses ...
- 08/24/14--15:04: _British actor Richa...
- 08/24/14--15:18: _Shift in U.S. attit...
- 08/24/14--15:33: _Ebola tensions ease...
- 08/25/14--11:45: _Competing college r...
- 08/25/14--12:20: _Citing ‘disruptive’...
- 08/25/14--13:26: _Weekly Poem: Ellen ...
- 08/25/14--13:37: _Facebook continues ...
- 08/25/14--14:40: _North Carolina Sen....
- 08/25/14--14:56: _Life in a New Mexic...
- 08/25/14--14:59: _Reporter’s notebook...
- 08/25/14--15:02: _News Wrap: Baghdad ...
- 08/25/14--15:07: _After funeral, how ...
- 08/25/14--15:12: _E-cigarettes an opt...
- 08/25/14--15:21: _Wine country reside...
- 08/25/14--15:25: _What should the U.S...
- 08/24/14--12:58: Man who served 24 years released after arson-murder case thrown out
- 08/24/14--13:10: U.S. journalist freed from captivity in Syria
- 08/24/14--13:11: Atlantic Ocean could be behind global warming’s ‘hiatus’
- 08/24/14--13:34: Can online courses replace a campus education?
- 08/24/14--15:04: British actor Richard Attenborough dies at 90
- 08/25/14--11:45: Competing college rankings take different views of what matters
- 08/25/14--13:26: Weekly Poem: Ellen Bass wants you to eat that strawberry
- 08/25/14--13:37: Facebook continues to battle click-bait
- 08/25/14--14:40: North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan braces for Obama’s visit to her state
- 08/25/14--15:02: News Wrap: Baghdad mosque bombed in wave of attacks
- 08/25/14--15:07: After funeral, how does Ferguson begin repair?
- 08/25/14--15:21: Wine country residents pick up after 6.0 earthquake strikes Napa
- 08/25/14--15:25: What should the U.S. do about the Islamic State?
The Philippine capital of Manila is now one of the most densely-populated urban areas on earth.
The city, the second-most populous city in the country, is so congested that its nearly 1.7 million inhabitants occupy just over 9,500 acres.
And with one of the fastest-growing populations in Southeast Asia, some people are forced to seek refuge in local cemeteries as squatters where they eat and sleep on top of tombs and mausoleums.
Watch our full broadcast report from the Philippines below:
The post Dwelling atop the dead: With no room to live, some Filipinos sleep in graveyards appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
— Chris Knight (@phojoknight) August 22, 2014
A New York man was freed on bail this week, after serving 24 years of a life sentence in a maximum-security prison in Pennsylvania.
Convicted of arson and murder, Han Tak Lee, 79, a native of South Korea who lives in Elmhurst, NY., was imprisoned in 1990 for intentionally setting a fire a year earlier at a religious retreat in the Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania. The fire killed his 20-year-old mentally ill daughter, Ji Yun Lee.
While Lee maintained that the fire was started accidentally, his conviction was based on the belief that arson fires burn at a higher intensity than accidental ones. Scientific advances since his conviction have shown that evidence to be faulty.
“It is now understood that the principal determinant of the heat and intensity of a fire is a natural element, the oxygen, and not artificial accelerants,” court documents said.
Lee was released on Friday after a federal magistrate granted him $50,000 bail.
“I don’t know how to express my happiness now to finally put this behind me and become a normal U.S. citizen,” Lee said through an interpreter outside the courthouse in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on Friday.
“Our obligation is to find the truth and reach a prompt and fair adjudication of the issues before us,” Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson told Reuters.
Last week, U.S. District Judge William Nealon, threw out Lee’s murder conviction, but the judge gave Monroe County prosecutors 120 days to decide if they would retry Lee, who is not permitted to travel outside of New York, New Jersey or Pennsylvania.
According to the National Registry of Exonerations, there have been 1,409 exonerations since 1989, when the first exoneration by DNA occurred. Twenty-two percent of those exonerations were due to false or misleading forensic evidence.
The post Man who served 24 years released after arson-murder case thrown out appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The U.S. State Department has confirmed an American hostage held since 2012 was freed by his kidnappers on Sunday in Syria.
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) August 24, 2014
The release of the writer and journalist, Peter Theo Curtis, came just days after journalist James Foley was brutally killed by his Islamic State group captors.
Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement that the U.S. was using “every diplomatic, intelligence and military tool” available to secure the release of other American hostages being held in Syria.
Kerry said Curtis had been held by an al-Qaida-linked group fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Curtis’ cousin, Viva Hardigg, told the Associated Press that Curtis was held by the Nusra Front, an al-Qaida affiliate in Syria.
Hardigg told the AP:
We are deeply relieved and grateful for his return and the many people who have helped us secure his freedom. At the same time, we are thinking constantly of the other hostages who are still held and those working to help them be freed. We want to do everything we can to support their efforts.
Read the full statement from Sec. Kerry:
Particularly after a week marked by unspeakable tragedy, we are all relieved and grateful knowing that Theo Curtis is coming home after so much time held in the clutches of Jabhat Al-Nusrah.
For two years, this young American has been separated from his family. Finally he is returning home. Theo’s mother, whom we’ve known from Massachusetts and with whom we’ve worked during this horrific period, simply refused to give up and has worked indefatigably to keep hope alive that this day could be a reality.
Over these last two years, the United States reached out to more than two dozen countries asking for urgent help from anyone who might have tools, influence, or leverage to help secure Theo’s release and the release of any Americans held hostage in Syria.
Every waking hour, our thoughts and our faith remain with the Americans still held hostage and with their families, and we continue to use every diplomatic, intelligence, and military tool at our disposal to find them and bring our fellow citizens home.
Reuters reports Curtis was handed over to a United Nations representative in Syria.
The Atlantic Ocean may be storing much of the atmospheric heat that global warming has produced in the last 15 years, new research says.
In a phenomenon that has puzzled scientists for years, the rate of rising global air temperatures has slowed significantly since around 1998, despite an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
Now, in a study published last week, scientists at the University of Washington and the Ocean University of China say this global warming “hiatus” is due to much of the atmospheric heat produced by global warming sinking into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.
The study says that in the year 2000, an Atlantic current that runs north from the tropics increased in speed, brining warm surface waters down to depths of 5,000 feet.
The warm tropical waters with high salt content reach the less salient waters of the North Atlantic, where they sink due to their greater density.
When the warm tropical salt water reached the less salient waters of the North Atlantic
“When [the water] sinks, it goes straight down, and the sinking carries heat along with it,” Ka-Kit Tung, a co-author of the study and adjunct professor of applied mathematics at the University of Washington told Scientific American.
Scientists behind the study say that the speeding up of this Atlantic current is natural and a part of the Earth’s warming and cooling cycles.
The Earth is currently in a cooling cycle, but according to the study, by 2030 much of the Atlantic’s stored heat will be released and “another episode of accelerated global warming should ensue.”
But the idea that global warming’s missing heat is being stored in the ocean is not a new one.
Another recent study searching for for the cause of the global warming hiatus, asserts that the heat is being stored in the Pacific Ocean.
The study, published in “Nature Climate Change” last February, says that the heat has been pushed under the Pacific by intensified trade winds as a result of the El Niño-La Niña cycle.
While scientists disagree about the source of the cooling cycle that is stalling the effects of global warming, they all fear what the end of the hiatus could bring.
“The frightening part,” Tung told National Geographic, is “it’s going to warm just as fast as the last three decades of the 20th century, which was the fastest warming we’ve seen. Only now, we’ll be starting from a higher average surface temperature than before.”
While the rate of the atmosphere’s warming has slowed since around 1998, 13 of the planet’s 14 hottest years on record have occurred this century according to the U.N.
The post Atlantic Ocean could be behind global warming’s ‘hiatus’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
British actor and film director Richard Attenborough died Sunday, his family said. He was 90 years old.
Attenborough rose to fame as an actor with roles in films, including “Brighton Rock,” “The Great Escape,” “10 Rillington Place,” “Miracle on 34th Street” and “Jurassic Park.”
His critical achievement as a director came in 1983 when he won the Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards for the film, “Ghandi.”
Between 2001-2010, he served as the president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
Attenborough had been wheelchair-bound, and in 2013, he moved into a nursing home to be with his wife, British actress Sheila Sim, the BBC reported.
He is survived by his three children and wife, who are expected to make a full statement on Monday.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Joining us now from Washington D.C. is Dion Nissenbaum of The Wall Street Journal.
It seems the pace of change here and the U.S. attitude in involvement in Syria or in airstrikes has changed dramatically just in the last 24-36 hours.
DION NISSENBAUM: Yes there’s no question that the beheading of James Foley changed the calculus for the administration here and the rhetoric ramped up almost immediately.
You heard Secretary of State John Kerry saying that their wickedness, it has to be destroyed. The pentagon is really escalating its efforts to identify targets inside Syria.
They’re looking at expanding the air campaign in Iraq. I think militarily they could expand this fairly quickly.
I think what we need to see in the coming week is whether there’s the political will to move in this direction and you’ll probably remember it was a year ago that we were having a similar conversation after president Assad was accused of the chemical weapons attack in Damascus that killed hundreds of people and President Obama was seeking support for military strikes in Syria at that point as well.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The narrative seems to be now in Washington on whether or not the Islamic State is a threat to the homeland.
DION NISSENBAUM: Well, and there’s no question they’re a growing threat to Americans. From the Islamic State’s perspective, they’re saying that the airstrikes in Iraq that President Obama authorized are an attack on them and now they’re turning their focus on us.
Now, the question is are they a threat on the continental United States and that’s very much open for debate.
Martin Dempsey, the top general for America said as recently as this week that he believes they are a regional threat, that they are a threat to the region but that they couldn’t stage any kind of 9/11 type attack on the United States.
Now as you’ll hear a lot of people say the enemy has a vote in this and they’re clearly turning their focus now towards us and we don’t know what that means.
The biggest concern for them are these foreign fighters like the man who apparently beheaded James Foley who had a British accent is believed to have ties to England, and whether those people could come back in ones or twos or threes and carry out attacks in Europe and the United States.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there any concern or thought being given to the fact that if you do launch airstrikes in a sovereign nation, I mean would that be declaration of war?
DION NISSENBAUM: Well this is the debate that I think we’re going to have to see play out this week and I think the administration is trying to figure out what their rationale would be.
The initial signals from the administration are that they might use the broad self-defense argument that they would be attacking Islamic State fighters that they believe are an imminent threat to Americans.
But there are those in Congress that believe that the president can and should come to them for support for authorization for a broader war and the president himself has indicated that he’s willing to do this and he’s thought about doing this in the past but we need to see what he’s thinking and we’ve seen him change his thinking on this in the past and we don’t know exactly where they will come down.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Alright, Dion Nissenbaum from The Wall Street Journal joining us from Washington, thanks so much.
DION NISSENBAUM: Thank you, Hari.
The post Shift in U.S. attitude over involvement in Syria after Foley execution appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: As we reported yesterday there are now more than 2600 confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola and more than 1400 deaths resulting from the virus.
All of the cases had originated from West Africa. For the latest on the health crisis we are joined via Skype from Accra, Ghana by Drew Hinshaw of The Wall Street Journal. So earlier this week we saw some disturbing images out of Liberia, a neighborhood there, West Point, had been quarantined and people were starting to fight back against the police. Have tensions eased?
DREW HINSHAW: Right, tensions right now are a little bit easier than they were a few days ago but the fundamental problem in Liberia, which is really one of government mistrust is still there. This is a country that fought a 14 year civil war, one of the most horrific in modern memory.
There’s a real gulf between the governed and the government. The fundamental problem which is that people think that Ebola is a conspiracy or a government started rumor is still there and right while there’s not a clash right now, there’s a high probability that there will be more in days to come especially as people get hungry in that quarantined neighborhood.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Right, I mean this is a neighborhood of 75,000 people and fear spreads a lot easier than the virus does.
DREW HINSHAW: This is a really easy disease to contain. What happens is people panic and when people panic they start believing people they’ve trusted all their lives, their priest, their traditional healers, their community leaders and a bureaucrat from the Liberian Health Industry doesn’t have as much sway when the virus pops up their neighborhood.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Do the governments there have a plan for it established yet ? Are they calling for outside assistance?
DREW HINSHAW: They’re the first ones to tell you that they’re making this up as they go along. I think what happened was in April, there was a dip, and everyone thought oh ok this virus is burnt out and then it just came out of nowhere and just swamped these governments in June, July.
What you’re supposed to do is trace person to person. You’re supposed to say if I have it, who have I touched while contagious, you monitor them, if they catch it you find out who they’ve touched while contagious and you isolate it like that. We’re way past that point where Liberia and Sierra Leone can easily do that. They’re having to pull out this last ditch thing.
HARI SREENIVASAN: You’ve been going in and out of Liberia I mean the health care workers, their story seems even more compelling. You’ve got nurses who haven’t been paid, they’ve been walking off the job, doctors in Nigeria for example who are trying to strike out of some fear and out of concern for themselves. So in populations in Sierra Leone or Liberia who’s there to care for these patients?
DREW HINSHAW: Exactly, I mean you brought up a good example. Doctors were on strike in Nigeria before Ebola got there.
They were already on strike over a different issue and in Liberia and Sierra Leone doctors were both not fantastically trained and they didn’t have a lot of equipment like rubber gloves. So the healthcare system was gutted beforehand and now it’s completely collapsed. Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) are really pulling a lot of weight here and they’re the first to say that they can’t do this by themselves.
What they were wondering is where other aid groups are. When you look at other calamities like the Haitian earthquake or things like that you get so many aid groups sometimes that there’s a jam at the airport. When you land at the Monrovia airport in Liberia you don’t get that since. You get a sense that this is acountry that’s been abandoned by the same aid groups who had had long standing relationships with LIberia.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Alright, Drew Hinshaw of The Wall Street Journal joining us via Skype from Accra, Ghanna, thanks so much.
DREW HINSHAW: Thank you too.
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The country’s best known college rankings are probably those published every year by U.S. News and World Report. While the rankings sell magazines and advertising, their influence is often criticized as pushing colleges to drive up admissions criteria and drive down acceptance rates.
Monday, as PBS NewsHour Weekend Anchor Hari Sreenivasan starts a week-long series examining innovation in higher education called Rethinking College, Washington Monthly is out with its own college rankings. The magazine’s rankings includes a list of “Best-Bang-for-the-Buck” colleges. Many of the familiar names in elite higher education don’t make the cut.
Washington Monthly Editor Paul Glastris spoke with On Campus, the higher education desk at WGBH in Boston, about the rankings and the White House’s push for federal college ratings.
A shortened transcript of their conversation appears below.
GLASTRIS: We try to look at colleges from the point of view of the average person, and especially first generation and lower income students who have really been struggling to afford the skyrocketing cost of college.
ON CAMPUS: Most college rankings depend on things like acceptance rates, average SAT scores, who has the best sushi bar. To top your rankings, specifically what measures are you looking at?
GLASTRIS: Our main rankings, basically look at three things. Social mobility, which is the percentage of lower income students that colleges recruit and then graduate. We look at research, the amount of Ph.D.s a college creates. We believe research is a fundamental core mission of higher education. Third, we look at service to the community. Are students being encouraged to give something back for the billions of dollars of educational support the government gives them? So we look at the percentage of a school’s graduates that go into the Peace Corps, or whether they’re involved in community service on campus.
ON CAMPUS: I hate to tell you this, Paul, but I was looking at the list and I can’t help but notice some big names are missing.
GLASTRIS: It’s sad! Usually Harvard, MIT, Yale do very well on everybody’s list of best colleges — not so much ours. The top 20 schools on U.S. News & World Report are all these private colleges. On ours the top school is the University of California San Diego, and 14 of the top 20 are state-supported schools. Harvard cracks in at number ten, but Yale isn’t even in the top 30.
ON CAMPUS: Your list does include some elite colleges, though, including Amherst College here in Massachusetts. What are those schools doing right?
GLASTRIS: Amherst is an interesting case. The previous president set a goal of increasing the percentage of students at Amherst who are low-income. Amherst has a pretty good endowment, and they decided to use the proceeds from that endowment to subsidize the cost for those students. They have consistently done well on our rankings.
ON CAMPUS: The White House is holding summits on this issue and the U.S. Education Department is preparing to unveil a method that’s going to rate colleges. Are you seeing significant change in how the public thinks about successful schools?
GLASTRIS: Once we put out our ‘Best Bang for the Buck’ ranking, the White House came out with this proposal about rating schools that are more or less the same criteria we use. So we think we’ve had some impact, on how others rate colleges and I think we’re going to have some impact on how the government rates colleges.
ON CAMPUS: Do you think the Obama administration will be successful in creating a national college rating system? Because all the college presidents I’ve spoken with say this is impossible.
GLASTRIS: I think they’re going to do it regardless of what the college presidents say. President Obama has that capacity and the data is there. The data could be better if the colleges would get behind more transparency. So we can have ratings that do a pretty good job of giving consumers and taxpayers are providing value for the money, bang for the buck, and which less so. But it would help to have the better data.
PBS NewsHour coverage of higher education is supported by the Lumina Foundation and American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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Wikipedia users logging on from the U.S. House of Representatives have been barred from editing that website anonymously for one month, following a controversial edit to the entry for a popular TV series.
An anonymous user operating from a House-linked IP address made edits to the Wikipedia page for the Netflix show “Orange is the New Black” on Wednesday that the site’s administrators deemed “disruptive,” triggering the ban.
According to Twitter account @congressedits, which tracks changes to Wikipedia made from congressional IP addresses, the user targeted a section devoted to Laverne Cox, a transgender actress and series regular.
A sentence originally describing Cox as “a real transgender woman” was changed to read “a real man pretending to be a woman.”
Wikipedia is an open-source encyclopedia, and most pages can be edited by anyone. Shortly after the page was changed, other users on the site began to track similar changes to other pages stemming from the same IP address.
In response, Wikipedia administrator Fran Rogers barred the associated IP address from editing anonymously for one month. “If you’d like to make good-faith edits, please create an account,” he wrote.
The ban is the third action taken against this Congressionally-linked IP address this summer. Administrators blocked the user twice in July, following complaints about other changes to pages on transgender issues.
The post Citing ‘disruptive’ edits, Wikipedia bars anonymous entries from Congress-linked computers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
In the first poem of her new collection, “Like a Beggar,” Ellen Bass tries to accept what she has spent her whole life avoiding: misfortune.
From the “trivial to the tragic,” including scenes of melting ice cream in your car and your son hawking your refrigerator for drug money, Bass stops fighting what she calls the unavoidable.
“This is a kind of a watershed poem for me,” Bass told Art Beat. “Of course you don’t surrender just once so the poem has become a kind of teaching poem for me. Even though I wrote it, it talks to me and reminds me what I have to keep doing over and over.”
She closes the poem with a Buddhist story about a woman trapped on the side of a cliff. The woman arrived in that precarious position because she climbed down a vine to avoid a tiger that was chasing her, only to find another tiger below. To make matters worse, the woman looks up to find two mice gnawing at the vine that got her there.
The woman is stuck in a predicament, but she notices a wild strawberry growing near her. “She looks up, down, at the mice./Then she eats the strawberry.”
During the seven years that Bass worked on “Like a Beggar,” she was going through a challenging time. As a narrative poet, her first inclination was to write the stories of her difficult experiences, but this time she couldn’t do that. The events concerned other people and she wasn’t able to write about them directly.
“At first that really threw me for a loop — what will I do? How will I be a poet?” said Bass.
“I soon realized that I had to take this as an aesthetic challenge and that it would be good for me, that it would push me to write in ways that weren’t as familiar to me, that it would push me into new poetic territory.”
What Bass found surprised her. She ended up with a lot of odes and realized “the harder the times the more important to praise.” That discovery can be seen in an epigraph from Rilke, which she uses to open the collection:
“But those dark, deadly, devastating ways, /how do you bear them, suffer them?/ –I praise.”
One such poem of praise is for repetition, a daily phenomenon that Bass uniquely sees as a privilege.
“I don’t think I’m completely alone in loving repetition, but I’m certainly in the minority in our culture. There’s a great premium places on new, adventure, variety, all of that and again, in my family i get teased a lot about my kind of mule-like inclination for repetition.”
Listen to Ellen Bass read “Ode to Repetition’” from her new collection “Like a Beggar.”
Ode to Repetition
I like to take the same walk
down the wide expanse of Woodrow to the ocean,
and most days I turn left toward the lighthouse.
The sea is always different. Some days dreamy,
waves hardly waves, just a broad undulation
in no hurry to arrive. Other days the surf’s drunk,
crashing into the cliffs like a car wreck.
And when I get home I like
the same dishes stacked in the same cupboards
and then unstacked and then stacked again.
And the rhododendron, spring after spring,
blossoming its pink ceremony.
I could dwell in the kingdom of Coltrane,
the friction of air through his horn,
as he forms each syllable of “Lush Life”
over and over until I die. Once I was afraid
of this, opening the curtains every morning,
only to close them again each night.
You could despair in the fixed town of your own life.
But when I wake up to pee, I’m grateful
the toilet’s in its usual place, the sink with its gift of water.
I look out at the street, the halos of lampposts
in the fog or the moon rinsing the parked cars.
When I get back in bed I find
the woman who’s been sleeping there
each night for thirty years. Only she’s not
the same, her body more naked
in its aging, its disorder. Though I still
come to her like a beggar. One morning
one of us will rise bewildered
without the other and open the curtains.
There will be the same shaggy redwood
in the neighbor’s yard and the faultless stars
going out one by one into the day.
The poem ends in a much darker space than where it starts, an evolution that Bass wasn’t expecting.
“Even people who don’t like repetition, we all want the kind of repetition that allows the people that we love to stay in our lives and not die and we don’t want to die. We want to wake up every morning. It surprised me that this poem that started out somewhat playful about my quirks and idiosyncrasies,” said Bass.
“I was validated in my love of repetition. You may think you don’t want repetition, but you really want it, too, because you don’t want to wake up and find your beloved one gone either. “
The title of the collection comes from one line towards the end of “Ode to Repetition,” where Bass references going to bed with her wife of thirty years, “her body more naked/in its aging, its disorder. Though I still/come to her like a beggar.”
“We are all in some way beggars in this lifetime. We are at the mercy of others and at the mercy of what will happen to us. Of course, we can chose how we respond to it, but we are always praying for something to happen or not happen in one way or another. We come with these empty bowls and there’s a great deal that is given to us … We are all vulnerable to whatever might befall us.”
It’s those vulnerabilities that Bass focuses on in “Relax,” that first poem about misfortune.
“In the poem, I was able to commit myself more to not trying to escape and instead trying to remember in any moment to eat that strawberry.”
“Ode to Repetition” from “Like a Beggar” by Ellen Bass. Published in 2014 by Copper Canyon Press. Used by permission Copper Canyon Press.
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Facebook announced in a blog post Monday that it would change its algorithm to reduce the amount of click-bait in the News Feed, and improve the experience of users.
Facebook defined “click-bait” as a link with a headline that prompts people to click without delivering information on what follows the link.
According to the blog, click-bait links have previously been prominent in News Feed because they receive a lot of clicks from users. But 80 percent of respondents to a user survey said they preferred to see posts that help them decide whether they want to see a full article.
Users navigate away from “click-bait” articles shortly after clicking, showing that they do not care about the content, the post said. Facebook will measure how much time people spend on articles they click and feature articles that receive more time from users. It will also feature more articles that people are sharing and discussing with their friends.
Facebook drives more social traffic than any other network, and this is not the first time it has announced an algorithm change in an effort to weed out low-quality content.
In December 2013, Facebook announced it would begin to feature “high quality articles about current events” over viral memes. Traffic to viral site Upworthy dropped by 46 percent within two months after the change.
RALEIGH, N.C. — Her re-election in doubt, North Carolina’s Democratic senator has an uncomfortable decision to make as President Barack Obama appears in her state before a critical audience she’s trying to woo: Veterans.
Join in the same camera shot as Obama, who lost North Carolina in 2012 and is unpopular in the state, and Sen. Kay Hagan could offer her Republican opponent fresh attack ad footage tying her to the president. Stay away from Obama while he visits North Carolina on Tuesday, and Hagan risks alienating minority voters who generally support the president.
Either way, Obama is casting a shadow on an event with the potential to boost Hagan’s credibility with veterans and military personnel. The president’s speech is scheduled about an hour before Hagan’s. Even if they don’t appear together publicly, they’ll be in the same building at the same time. Already Monday, GOP candidate Thom Tillis released a statement accusing Hagan of being a “rubber stamp” for the Obama administration.
But the American Legion National Convention is a speaking engagement Hagan cannot afford to skip in a state with some of the nation’s busiest Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard installations.
Hagan, locked in one of the country’s hottest Senate races as Republican attempt to gain six seats and a majority, is one of several struggling Democrats in the South distancing herself from Obama.
Hagan was elected in 2008 as Obama won the state. Four years later, Mitt Romney edged Obama for the state as his signature health care law drove down his popularity. Since then, Obama’s support there was further eroded by the national uproar over inadequate care at veterans hospitals.
North Carolina has four major Veterans Affairs medical centers. One in Fayetteville had some of the worst average waiting times for veterans seeking primary care treatment, according to a June report by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
And Hagan has been among the Democrats most vocal in expressing her displeasure. Calling the waiting times “appalling and disturbing,” she urged VA officials to visit Fayetteville to address the problem. She co-sponsored a $17 billion bill to improve veterans’ health care. And she called for the resignation of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who stepped down amid the scandal.
Hagan sought to distance herself anew from the president ahead of his trip, saying the administration “has not yet done enough to earn the lasting trust of our veterans.”
But the Tillis campaign on Monday sought again to associate Hagan with what it called Obama’s “failure to provide our veterans with the health care that they deserve.” Supporters of Tillis, the speaker of the state House, previously funded ads seeking to tie Hagan to problems in veterans care. Tillis isn’t scheduled to appear at the convention.
Hagan campaign spokesman Chris Hayden said Tillis was trying to use veterans as “political pawns.”
If Hagan and Obama do appear in public together, their body language will be closely gauged.
“Their strategy is respectful criticism,” said Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta. “On a lot of these issues, the president is taking positions that are unpopular with the voters these Democratic candidates are trying to cultivate.”
The situation is similar to one Republican candidates faced in 2006 as President George W. Bush’s popularity waned, noted Andrew Taylor, a political scientist at North Carolina State University.
“Presidents are smart enough to know it’s not a personal thing; it’s a political thing,” Taylor said.
Amber Moon, a spokeswoman for Hagan’s Senate office, wouldn’t say Monday whether Hagan planned to appear onstage with Obama.
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ARTESIA, N.M. -– This hot, dry, dusty town just 70 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border has been a temporary home to some of the recent influx of families that have entered the U.S. illegally.
The Artesia Temporary Facility for Adults with Children is a federal law enforcement training facility run by the Department of Homeland Security. Now the federal government has converted three former barracks to house the nearly 700 mothers and children under the age of 17.
Most of the women and children are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. They were captured after crossing the border into Texas and bussed here. Officials say most will be sent home.
In the meantime, they are given beds, clean clothes and three meals a day. The playrooms are stocked with toys and coloring books.
But Laura Lichter says that conditions in the facility aren’t always so agreeable. A Denver attorney doing pro bono work for some of the detained families, Lichter spends long days inside the secure center working with mothers. She said that many of her clients have spoken to her about issues of disrespect and name-calling from the agents on duty.
“There’s a reason why we don’t have family detention centers anymore,” Lichter said. “You don’t put mothers and kids in jail. You can’t jail families and not have fundamental problems.”
Hear more from Lichter on Monday’s PBS NewsHour and watch an excerpt of her interview where she talks about some of the conditions for the families, above.
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ARTESIA, N.M. — It’s hard to believe — given the political bantering, the economic hardships and the humanitarian crisis all swirling around the immigration issue — that crayons are cause for distress. “Crayon-gate” was the word two volunteer attorneys used to describe their day last week at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center here, about 70 miles from the U-S Mexico border.
Lawyers doing pro bono work for the detained families spend long days inside the secure center working with mothers who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. After a day’s work, they gather at a local church hall to compare notes and share stories. Going around the table on Monday, Aug. 18, they introduced themselves and offered a one-word characterization of their day.
Nat Damren of Idaho said “crayons” made his day. Then, Sarah Corstange, a lawyer from New York, picked up the tale, reporting that an asylum officer had given her Guatemalan client’s tiny daughter a restaurant-sized pack of 5 crayons. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer “fixated on” the crayons, saying “give them to me, those are contraband,” Corstange recounted. Standing up, she acted out the conversation paraphrasing the ICE officer: “If you give a kid a crayon, what are they going to do next? They’re going to want to get on the floor, they’re going to color and then what’s going to happen? Somebody is going to come along like this and bam, they’re going to kick the kid in the face and then whose fault is it?”
Laughter ensued in the meeting room. Jenna Peyton of Ohio said that the ICE officer came to her later saying, “Listen, I got kids, I’m not trying to be tough.” But she said he told her he was “going by the latest information from the higher-ups.” Still, some in the room wanted to take the crayon caper to the next level and get a ruling that crayons are indeed safe. The next day, in a move of defiance, Laura Lichter, a Denver attorney and past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, smuggled 3 large packs of 64 crayons each into the center. Also in her bag were dinosaur stickers and colorful hair ties.
There is a serious reason for the child’s play. Attorneys say the kiddie swag helps amuse the children while they counsel their moms. Lichter said there is no child care for the legal sessions. “So not only do I as a lawyer have to deal with a situation where the woman I’m interviewing is minding her three-year-old child and the seven-year-old is over there and the thirteen-year-old, who’s causing trouble back in the corner and [I’m] trying to talk to her about how many times and how often did your husband assault you,” she said, “but we have women who are appearing in interviews before asylum officers where they’re not about to talk about the fact that the gangs threatened to kill their children while their children are in the room.”
Crayons are certainly permitted in the dormitories and elsewhere. In fact, ICE has provided many new toys for the children. These crayons were handed out in an interview room separate from the living quarters. Corstange told us late Thursday evening that the crackdown on crayons and other toys has only grown stricter. Children often spend as many as six hours in the interview rooms with only a single television for entertainment. The lawyers are permitted to give them paper but no drawing implements.
So, are crayons (and stickers and hair ties) truly forbidden in some areas? We asked ICE officials in El Paso. ICE offered a statement saying the children “are provided with recreational activities, including arts and crafts materials such as crayons” but did not address whether those materials are allowed in the interview areas.
No reporters have been allowed inside the detention center since a heavily supervised and short media tour on July 11. ICE has said it plans to schedule similar visits beginning next month that will allow access while safeguarding the privacy of the families held in Artesia.
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GWEN IFILL: At least 58 people died in a wave of attacks across Iraq today. Most of the violence targeted Shiite districts. Scores of people were wounded.
The deadliest blast happened at this mosque in Baghdad. A suicide bomber detonated a vest packed with explosives as worshipers were leaving after midday prayers.
White House officials say the U.S. paid no ransom to win the release of an American freelance reporter on Sunday. Peter Theo Curtis was freed after being held for two years by the Al-Nusra Front in Syria. The group is affiliated with al-Qaida.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the government of Qatar negotiated the release.
JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: They told Mr. Curtis’ family that they didn’t pay a ransom. The United States made clear and it is clear to the Qatari government that we didn’t want them to pay a ransom. In fact, we encouraged them not to pay a ransom.
GWEN IFILL: Another American journalist, James Foley, was beheaded last week by the Islamic State group.
Egypt pressed new efforts today to broker another truce between Israel and Hamas, but there was no break in the fighting. Israeli airstrikes blasted targets in Gaza, killing at least nine Palestinians, and Hamas militants fired more than 130 rockets into Southern Israel. One person was injured by a mortar bomb.
There’s word that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have intervened in Libya, with airstrikes on Islamist militias. Senior American officials told The New York Times today that it’s happened twice in the last seven days around Tripoli. Fighting erupted in June after Islamists lost control of parliament. Today, the old parliament reconvened and voted to disband the current government.
In Ukraine, the government accused Russia of sending a dozen tanks and armored vehicles across its southeastern border. Officials said they entered the country under rebel flags, but were intercepted by border guards.
In Moscow, the Russian foreign minister dismissed those claims.
SERGEI LAVROV, Foreign Minister, Russia (through interpreter): I haven’t heard about them, but there is more than enough misinformation around about our invasions. There were reports several days ago that the Ukrainian army destroyed a military convoy from Russia, and that those vehicles contained documents about leaves of absence. Even if we could imagine this as resembling truth to some extent, who would carry a library on missions like that?
GWEN IFILL: In another development, Ukraine’s president dissolved parliament and called for early elections in October.
Tributes poured in today for Richard Attenborough, the Oscar-winning British actor and director who died Sunday. His career spanned more than 70 films.
Sejal Karia of Independent Television News looks back on his life and work.
RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH: Welcome to Jurassic Park.
SEJAL KARIA: For more than 60 years, Richard Attenborough was simply a towering presence in cinema, whether in front of the camera or behind it. He won his first leading role age just 24 as a sadistic gangster in “Brighton Rock.”
Eventually, Hollywood came calling. And he starred opposite Steve McQueen in one of the most celebrated war films ever made, “The Great Escape.” But Richard Attenborough became as revered for his off-screen talent as his on-screen magnetism. He directed “Gandhi” starring Ben Kingsley, a film which came to define his career.
BEN KINGSLEY: One hundred thousand Englishmen simply cannot control 350 million Indians, if those Indians refuse to cooperate.
SEJAL KARIA: It won eight Oscars, including for best director.
It is rare to find such successful and celebrated siblings as Lord Attenborough and his brother, the naturalist, Sir David. But his talent and his passion for filmmaking have made him one of cinema’s greats.
RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH: To work in the movies, to be allowed to express my feelings and my hopes and my aspirations is heaven on earth for me. And I would want to go on and on and on until I just fell off the twig and disappeared.
GWEN IFILL: Richard Attenborough was 90 years old.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 75 points to close near 17,077. The Nasdaq rose almost 19 points to close at 4,557. And the S&P 500 added nine points to finish just short of 1,998.
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GWEN IFILL: It’s been a little over two weeks since Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri. Since then, the area has seen daily protests, both peaceful and violent. Today, the teenager was laid to rest.
The line stretched well into the street outside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Saint Louis, where thousands turned out for the funeral of 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr. Mixed in the crowd were well-known faces, from the Reverend Jesse Jackson to filmmaker Spike Lee, to the parents of Trayvon Martin, whose own teenage son was killed in Florida two years ago.
Large photographs of Michael Brown flanked the closed casket before an overflow congregation. As she entered, Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, stood there for long minutes weeping. Other relatives offered remembrances.
His stepmother, Cal Brown, said the teenager nicknamed Mike-Mike became her best friend.
CAL BROWN: Mike-Mike is an awesome man. I have to say that because I met him three years ago and he was a boy, but he evolved into a man, a good man. And he just wanted so much. He wanted to go to college. He wanted to have a family. He wanted to be a good father. But God chose differently. And I’m at peace about that, because he’s not a lost soul. His death is not in vain.
GWEN IFILL: A cousin, Ty Pruitt, reinforced the family’s call for calm in a community that was consumed by 10 days of unrest after the killing.
TY PRUITT, Cousin of Michael Brown: Then we’re going to hit the streets again and we’re going to yell out for our freedom and our equality and we’re going to yell out Mike-Mike’s name, and it’s going to shake the heavens from the thunder that we release, but not today. Today is for peace, peace and quiet.
GWEN IFILL: Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., delivered a similar plea at a rally yesterday.
MICHAEL BROWN SR.: Tomorrow, all I want is peace while my son is being laid to rest.
GWEN IFILL: In today’s eulogy, the Reverend Al Sharpton called for reforming the nation’s justice system.
AL SHARPTON: aggressive policing of low-level crimes and can’t deal with the higher level. Something strange that you get all these guns into the hood, but you run around chasing folks selling loosie cigarettes and walking in the middle of the street. There’s something crazy about that kind of policing.
GWEN IFILL: After the service, the funeral procession made its way to the cemetery, where many held their hands up in silent protest as it passed.
Ferguson regained some normalcy today, as more than 11,000 area students returned to school.
For more on where the debate over criminal justice and race goes from here, we turn to three people engaged in it.
Tracie Keesee, co-founder of the Center for Policing Equity at UCLA, she’s a police veteran with 25 years of service. Political science professor Fredrick Harris of Columbia University, who is the director of the university’s Center on African-American Politics and Society. And the Reverend Starsky Wilson, pastor of Saint John’s United Church of Christ in Saint Louis. He is also president and CEO of Deaconess Foundation, a faith-based grant-making organization for children in the Saint Louis region.
Reverend Wilson, you were at Michael Brown’s funeral today. Did it seem to you that the community is taking a deep breath?
REV. STARSKY WILSON, Saint John’s United Church of Christ: The community is, indeed, taking a deep breath. But we are sure that it’s not for the sake of ultimate relief. It is not because we feel finally relieved.
It is for the sake of catching our breath to give appropriate time for mourning, lament and grief for Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown Sr., and the family, but committing with the family to work to do the long work toward building for justice, building God’s beloved community in this realm by seeking out and reforming the respective systems that really created this challenge, particularly as it relates to community policing among African-Americans in these kinds of communities like Ferguson, with great African-American populations, but disparate numbers of police, disparate numbers in city councils, and disparate reflections of that representation in government.
GWEN IFILL: Well, let me ask Tracie Keesee to pick up on that.
Is it top-down leadership or bottom-up, kind of an organic movement that is needed here to move us to the next step?
TRACIE KEESEE, Center for Policing Equity: You know, community policing was always about a bottom-up. And that is that partnership with the community.
And I think that is something that can never be lost. And that’s going to be the one thing that moves us forward. You always have a top-down when you talk about internal or inside the organization itself about how officers on the street get their mandates. But the original community policing is about that on-the-ground-up partnership.
GWEN IFILL: Let me ask Fredrick Harris.
We have been through a couple of weeks now of grief and shock and remorse and accusation, everything you can name. Has that in a strange way — has this tragedy yielded an opportunity for discourse?
FREDRICK HARRIS, Columbia University: Well, I think it’s a great opportunity. It’s a tragedy, but it’s an opportunity to transform a tragedy into, I think, what needs to be really broad-based social change, change in the way that policing is done in the United States.
You know, Gwen, since last fall, there’s been this spate of incidents that I think have really accommodate — accumulated, rather, the sort of discontent that you see not only in Ferguson, but across the country. There was a kid who — a college kid in Charlotte, North Carolina, who was shot while he was — after a car accident trying to get help from the police.
And we had just a few weeks ago the case of a man, a black man being choked to death with a choke hold by police in Staten Island. So I think think these cumulative effects have really pushed people to really see this not as a sort of local, isolated problem, but I think I would see as a crisis in the country.
GWEN IFILL: Well, let me ask Reverend Wilson this.
How different is this episode from the ones he named, but also from Rodney King or Emmett Till or even Matthew Shepard?
REV. STARSKY WILSON: Yes, I think this episode is more akin — and I’m really kind of connecting with Dr. Harris’ piece from The Washington Post, that this piece is much more akin to Emmett Till, in that we have the same issue of community trauma that is brought to us by the visual image of a young person in tragedy.
With Emmett Till, it was the open casket. With Michael Brown, it is rather the image of his body laying out for four hours on the ground in the midst of his neighborhood, which led to trauma for his neighbors and for the children and young people of that community.
But then for the millions of us who have seen it on social media, have seen that image, this is not something that is normal for the average American to see. And so when they see that image, and they juxtapose that image to the image of young people around Michael Brown’s age going out to make their voices heard through public protest and see them being responded to by a militarized police force coming upon them, then it does raise the question about whether this is the America that we desire.
And so I think those two traumatic images juxtaposed to one another call into question our greatest beliefs about what America is, and whether this is truly the land of the free and the home of the brave. So I think this is one of those things that really give us an opportunity, to Dr. Harris’ work, to build toward a movement based upon a personal connection with the images that we have seen.
GWEN IFILL: Well, let me ask Tracie Keesee about that.
We talk about community trauma. Part of it — and we see this in a new Pew poll today, that there is widespread distrust in that police will handle many of these cases fairly, not only among — this distrust is apparently not only among black America. It’s with white Americans and Hispanic Americans too. Where does the repair begin of this breach?
TRACIE KEESEE: Well, the repair begins not just with on the ground with the community, but it also begins internally.
And I think, as both guests have alluded to, policing is one piece of that. I mean, you have social inequality of educational issues as well. But for law enforcement itself, the leadership in law enforcement is going to definitely have to step up to the plate on this and begin to have those conversations about what it is that we can do better and then what type of service do we provide our communities of color, and have that conversation with the customers.
So it’s not about this isolated conversation about trust and transparency, but what do our communities expect of us? And I think that’s where you begin. And that’s going to be a difficult conversation to have, and a lot of times a difficult conversation to listen to.
GWEN IFILL: Well, part of it — and I want to stay with you on this. Part of the conversation here is that the difficult conversation is also — it’s often about policy. You change a law, you make a law. This time, it’s about kind of a culture of distrust. That seems like it’s a little more amorphous to get its arms — get your arms around.
TRACIE KEESEE: Well, it’s always going to be a little bit more to get your arms around. It just depends on how dedicated you are to making the change.
One of the things we continue to hear is about the diversification of organizations. That is one step, but that is a small step. Once you get folks through the door and get them out of the academy, you have to get them, one, to stay. And if the organization itself is not welcoming of officers of color or women or transgendered or GBLT, then you are going to still have the same issue.
So there’s a lot of things to wrap your arm around. It’s just a matter of fact whether or not you are going to be dedicated to it after the cameras are gone.
GWEN IFILL: Fredrick Harris, Martin Luther King wrote, I believe there was a book and also a sermon, from chaos to community, where do we go from here? What is your answer to that question today?
FREDRICK HARRIS: I think where we go from here is, is that we need political organizing.
And I say this because I worry that once the marching stops, you know, once the cameras leave Ferguson, that the American people will really forget this tragedy. And so one thing that we have to keep in mind is, is that for Dr. King and others during the civil rights movement, there were peaks, there were challenges.
And it’s going to take awhile for there to be substantive change, policy change. You know, from ’55, when Emmett Till was murdered, it took a decade before we got the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. So what I would say is organizing, building allies. As the poll numbers suggest, there are folk out there who are also concerned, beyond black communities, about policing.
So this is something I think affects the gay and lesbian community. I think it’s something that affects the pro-immigration community, issues around policing. And also I think we should think about the best of the civil rights movement, which is bringing these human rights abuses to an international stage.
GWEN IFILL: Reverend Wilson, you appeared on a program on our local PBS station in which one of your fellow pastors said, what we need now is a new normal. You nodded your head. Tell me what you think that means?
REV. STARSKY WILSON: Yes, that was my good friend Reverend Traci Blackmon.
What she suggested was that the way we have been doing business, particularly — and I think she specified in the Saint Louis region — the way we have been doing business is not acceptable. The response of African-American leadership, that has not been unified because it is not networked or organized, is unacceptable.
The fact that young people were expressing their voice and felt disconnected from the African-American clerical leadership is unacceptable. And the fact that we continue to have police who do not respond even to the majority of their community in ways that are caring, that illustrate that they are there to serve and protect is not acceptable.
And so we have got to make some specific decisions and begin to make some moves from here. Our foundation has very specifically noted, we saw the youth energy out there and saw that it desired to express itself. So we have invested in youth organizing.
And so what — we want to put some funding, and we are, have already allocated some to organize some of those young people who are down there protesting to help them learn to map power and cut issues, to network African-American in our community, so that we have better responses and more coordinated responses in the future, and to invite through our philanthropic arm programs like My Brother’s Keeper, that this is a nice program, but it now needs to be brought into communities of need like ours, and leveraged for maximum benefit, so that we can really see those outcomes invested into young men like Mike Brown.
That must be our new normal.
GWEN IFILL: Reverend Starsky Wilson of Saint John’s United Church of Christ, Fredrick Harris of the Columbia University Center on African-American Politics and Society, and Tracie Keesee of the Center for Policing Equity, thank you all very much.
TRACIE KEESEE: Thank you.
REV. STARSKY WILSON: Thank you.
FREDRICK HARRIS: Thank you.
The American Heart Association published recommendations Monday to control the e-cigarette market. The policies, featured in Circulation, focus on the role of advertisers and clinicians in dealing with the product, as well as the vitality of more research.
In an unprecedented type of guidance, the AHA cites that electronic cigarettes “may be equal or slightly better than nicotine patches” as a smoking cessation strategy. It urges doctors not to disregard their potential value, and to educate themselves about known risks as to better inform patients.
Nevertheless, the association says proven methods should be the first line of treatment given they are FDA approved. Of particular concern is the liquid involved, which may contain toxic substances. There is no legal direction about what it can contain.
Other recommendations orbit around the fact there is very little research on e-cigs’ long term impacts. The report also vehemently attacks youth marketing. A Pediatrics study AHA refers to claims “youth exposure to e-cigarettes advertising skyrocketed over 250 percent from 2011 to 2013,” and echoed an industry-wide call for banning flavored smoke.
In May, Mitch Ziller, Director of the Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA, joined Judy Woodruff on PBS Newshour to discuss its new regulation. The legislation, which will take years to come into effect, will force manufacturers to register the ingredients they use and officially ban sale to anyone under the age of 18.
Ziller, who focused on a lack of research, warned that the industry is still “the Wild, Wild west. It’s buyers beware.”
A 2009 law regulating smokeless tobacco did not include e-cigs.
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GWEN IFILL: Businesses and residents of Northern California assessed the damage today, after the strongest earthquake in decades rocked the area over the weekend. Some analysts estimated economic losses could reach $4 billion.
“NewsHour” special correspondent Spencer Michels has our report from Napa Valley.
SPENCER MICHELS: The people of Napa picked up where they left off last night, cleaning up the mess the earthquake left behind. Chunks of bricks and broken glass were strewn across the streets. As of this morning, local officials estimated at least 90 homes and buildings, including the historic county courthouse, were deemed unsafe to occupy.
MIKE PARNESS, City Manager, Napa: Tonight, after we have looked at all of the properties, all of the infrastructure, one of the first things we will be doing in the next day or so is sitting down and trying to figure out, what does this mean in terms of infrastructure impact private-public, as well as economic impact?
SPENCER MICHELS: The earthquake, a 6.0, struck in the wee hours of Sunday in the heart of Northern California’s wine country.
CHRISTOPHER COX, California: I’m still kind of caught up in being back and how violent the shaking was. But, yes, it’s just — it’s amazing. You don’t think it’s going to happen in Napa. You hear everything is in San Francisco, Los Angeles. For an epicenter to be right here in Napa itself is kind of shocking.
SPENCER MICHELS: The shock came as the region’s famed vineyards were at the beginning of the harvesting season in an industry that generates more than $13 billion a year. Thousands of bottles of wine were shaken from their shelves and onto cellar floors. In some cases, entire barrels toppled over, spilling their contents.
Some vineyards lost power, disrupting the fermentation process for this year’s vintage. And individual wine bars and wineries reported losses ranging from $15,000 to $20,000 each.
MAN: Broke away at the other end, and I think it just rocked and rolled.
SPENCER MICHELS: Madonna Estates was one winery that suffered some significant damage.
MAN: There’s not enough space. And as it moved, jumped around, they all came to the point where they jumped off the end and then fell down. The harvest is getting ready to start this week. And I’m dealing with this.
SPENCER MICHELS: The tremor also forced many wineries and restaurants to close, at the height of the tourism season.
PARIS YILDIZ, Allegria restaurant: It was a mess. You literally have to walk over glass just to get to the main dining room. So we pretty much lost, I would say, 80 percent of our inventory. And, of course, we lost our food because we had no power.
SPENCER MICHELS: The Napa earthquake was the strongest in Northern California since the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, which killed 62 people. Before that, the strongest earthquake on record was the San Francisco quake of 1906, which essentially destroyed the city. This quake isn’t in that category, but it certainly is a reminder that San Francisco and the Bay Area is earthquake country.
Several of the damaged buildings in downtown Napa had not been retrofitted to withstand earthquakes, a process which, according to restoration worker Anthony Van Krieken, saved many other buildings.
ANTHONY VAN KRIEKEN, Architecture Fenestration & Restoration: Most of the ones that were retrofitted actually did — held up very well. In retrofitting, they do different processes, but if you go the crisscross and the heavy iron and all those applications, those seem to have held up well. There are several buildings right on Main Street that I could show you that held up perfectly with no damage at all.
SPENCER MICHELS: Schools were closed today as classrooms were inspected. Power and gas were mostly restored to thousands of homes and businesses that lost service. Around 600 properties will remain without water until later this week.
And Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa said it treated 208 people hurt in the earthquake. One person remains in critical condition.
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GWEN IFILL: Last week’s execution-style murder of journalist James Foley has intensified the debate over how the U.S. should handle the expanding Islamic State group. Officials at the White House and the Pentagon have signaled they will act against the militant group soon, perhaps striking within Syria.
Jeffrey Brown takes a closer look at the choices facing the Obama administration.
JEFFREY BROWN: U.S. jets flying off the carrier George H.W. Bush kept up airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq over the weekend. There was also growing talk of expanding the air campaign across the border into Syria.
Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said last week that’s the only way to defeat the militant group. But at the White House today, spokesman Josh Earnest was noncommittal.
JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: The president thus far has not made a decision to order additional military action in Syria.
JEFFREY BROWN: Also today, Syria’s foreign minister today rejected any airstrikes, unless Damascus is consulted. Still, he said Syria welcomes all help, despite repeated U.S. calls for President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
WALID AL-MOALLEM, Syrian Foreign Minister (through interpreter): We are ready to cooperate and coordinate with regional countries and the international community in fighting terrorism following the resolutions of the Security Council. We welcome everybody.
JEFFREY BROWN: The need for help was evident Sunday, as Islamic State forces captured the last major military base in northeastern Syria. They celebrated in the streets of Raqqa with vehicles honking horns and shots fired in the air.
Calls for U.S. action to extend into Syria have mounted since American journalist James Foley was beheaded by Islamic State captors. Sunday, on NBC, the British ambassador to the U.S., Peter Westmacott, said investigators are close to identifying the British-accented militant in the video. He also acknowledged that some 500 Britons have joined the Islamic State.
The chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Mike Rogers, warned that Westerners in the group pose a mortal threat.
REP. MIKE ROGERS, R-Mich.: And one of the problems is, it’s gone unabated for nearly two years, and that draws people from Britain, to across Europe, even the United States to go and join the fight. They are one plane ticket away from U.S. shores, and that’s why we’re so concerned about it.
JEFFREY BROWN: Meanwhile, the U.N. human rights chief, Navi Pillay, accused Islamic State forces of widespread crimes in Iraq, including slavery, sexual abuse, and mass executions of hundreds of prisoners.
How great a threat is the Islamic State group? And what should the U.S. do about it?
We join the debate now with retired Army Colonel Peter Mansoor. He was executive officer to General David Petraeus in Iraq during the surge in 2007 and ’8. He’s now an associate professor of military history at the Ohio State University. And Stephen Walt is professor of international relations at Harvard University. He’s written extensively about security policy issues.
Peter Mansoor, let me start with you.
How do you define the threat and how urgent is the need to act?
COL. PETER MANSOOR (RET.), U.S. Army: Well, ISIS is a group that is well-funded, well-armed, and has thousands of fighters under its ranks and more joining it every day.
It’s a threat to the region. It can destabilize the Middle East, from which we get most of our oil, in terms of the global economy. And it can inject terrorism into Europe and the United States, given that it has hundreds of fighters in its ranks who hold Western passports.
So this is a group that is a threat to the United States and the global community and it needs to be dealt with.
JEFFREY BROWN: Stephen Walt, how do you respond to that? How do you define the threat first?
STEPHEN WALT, Harvard University: I think that there’s no question ISIS is a bunch of very bad guys. But it’s primarily a threat to the people in the areas they control and not a direct threat to the United States.
It’s a predominantly Sunni group which will not be able to expand into non-Sunni areas. And the potential terrorist threat there, I think, has been greatly exaggerated. There are lots of groups around the world who would like to be able to go after the United States. Most of them fail. And, in fact, the way to deal with it is primarily with intelligence and counterterrorism here at home.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, so, Peter Mansoor, what exactly would you propose? Are there — are airstrikes into Syria required? Are special forces on the ground required? Spell it out for us, what you would like to see.
COL. PETER MANSOOR: Well, if the goal is to destroy ISIS, you have to do it on both sides of what is now a nonexistent international border, because, otherwise, if you just deal with the group in Iraq, it will just move back into Syria and remetastasize.
I believe we need to wait until there’s an inclusive and legitimate government in Baghdad. But provided that happens under Prime Minister designate Haider al-Abadi, then I think we need to provide advisers and trainers to reform and retrain the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga, ramp up the equipment effort, especially to the Kurdish forces in the north, ramp up our airstrikes and provide more drone strikes and aircraft, and base them in the region, so they don’t have to be based on ships floating out in the Gulf.
And then I think — and this is probably the most controversial point of what I have to say — we need to provide special forces to embed themselves with Sunni tribes and rekindle the awakening that did so much to destroy the forerunner to ISIS, al-Qaida in Iraq, in 2006, 2007 and 2008. And they need to do that probably on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Stephen Walt, you didn’t see the same threat, so I assume you don’t see that same kind of ramp-up. What’s your response?
STEPHEN WALT: I think that, first of all, the United States should remember that we have spent the last 15 years trying to use military power, including military assistance, to try and organize the politics of this region. And we have failed miserably.
We have got a failed state in Iraq. We have a failed state in Libya, and we spent $25 billion training the Iraqi army, which then subsequently turned and ran when confronted by ISIS. So I think to believe that we can go in again with airpower primarily and some special forces and eliminate this problem is fanciful.
This is going to be ultimately a problem for locals to deal with, not for the United States to try and deal with. And because it is not a vital threat to core American security interests, it’s one we should stay away from.
JEFFREY BROWN: What about, though, Mr. Walt, the argument that if we don’t — if the U.S. doesn’t do something now, it may be too late later on if you are wrong?
STEPHEN WALT: Well, again, we have to recognize this is not the Third Reich. This is not an incredibly powerful movement. It has maybe 20,000 fighters, no air force, no navy, basically lightly armed infantry that has been able to expand in stateless area, areas that are stateless in part because we destroyed the states that were governing there.
And the idea that we are going to go in again with a few thousand special forces and reorganize the politics of that region, I think, has been tried and found wanting in the past. And it would be found wanting again if we tried it again.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, Peter Mansoor, speaking of complications in your argument, Syria has warned against airstrikes into its space. Would your — would a push toward going across the border not complicate things even more there?
COL. PETER MANSOOR: Well, it’s a simple military mission of destroying an enemy armed force.
And we send Syria a simple message: Stay out of our way or we will start bombing you as well. And I think Bashar al-Assad and his forces would be happy to watch us bomb ISIS with or without coordination with them.
I think the main difference between Professor Walt and me is, he doesn’t see ISIS as a threat to the United States. And I see it as a direct threat to the United States. It has an ideology that will eventually lead it to attack us.
JEFFREY BROWN: But, Mr. Mansoor, even if it is a threat or not to the United States, one of his arguments, as I hear it, is history doesn’t bode well. It doesn’t show us that the U.S. has the kind of power, ability, efficiency to do what you think we can do.
COL. PETER MANSOOR: Well, I beg to differ.
I just finished writing a book on the surge. And in 2007 and 2008, we did turn around a war effort that had nearly failed, and had that country on the road to stability. Unfortunately, through political missteps, most of them by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, that victory was thrown away.
So I don’t see the same military dysfunction as Professor Walt. What I do know is that, without U.S. help, Iraqi forces and Kurdish forces cannot defeat ISIS.
JEFFREY BROWN: Stephen Walt?
STEPHEN WALT: I think, first of all, if the Iraqi forces and Kurdish forces can’t defeat them, then we’re not going to be able to defeat them ourselves.
And we disagree on the success of the surge. The surge was a tactical success, but a strategic failure, because it did not produce the political reconciliation that was a requirement for strategic success there. And there’s no evidence that we have the magic formula for recreating political order in Syria or in Iraq. And, ultimately, that’s going to be a task for the residents of those areas to do, and not expect the United States to do it for them.
JEFFREY BROWN: One other brief issue, starting, Peter Mansoor. What about the allies? Does — can — should the U.S. act alone if it doesn’t have the support of other allies?
COL. PETER MANSOOR: We actually do have the support of a lot of nations around the world who have been calling for U.S. leadership in this case.
European nations would like to see ISIS destroyed. They realize that a lot of their citizens are in ISIS ranks, and could be a threat to them as well. So with U.S. leadership, I believe that we actually will have international legitimacy for this mission, unlike the war in 2003.
JEFFREY BROWN: And a brief last word for you, Stephen Walt, if the U.S. has that kind of legitimacy?
STEPHEN WALT: There’s no question that almost everyone around the world would like to see ISIS weakened, but ultimately that is going to be a task for the people who are mostly threatened. And it is the people who are living right next door to ISIS, not the United States, which is an ocean away.
JEFFREY BROWN: Stephen Walt and Peter Mansoor, thank you so much. We will continue the debate.