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

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    Domestic violence affects a “staggering” number of women around the world, President Bill Clinton said when asked about the national reaction to the recent Ray Rice video in an interview with PBS NewsHour on Friday. “The reaction to the Rice incident shows we’re still moving on it here,” Clinton told Judy Woodruff. “I don’t know that you’ll ever eliminate it all since an enormous amount of violence in every society is within home, sadly.”

    The Clinton Global Initiative, Clinton’s global philanthropy effort organized by his foundation, is focused on stopping institutional violence against women, he said.

    Clinton spoke to Woodruff in Washington on Friday, where he had just finished an event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the launch of Americorps with President Barack Obama. Watch our full interview with President Clinton tonight on the PBS NewsHour.

    Former President Jimmy Carter spoke on the PBS NewsHour in March about women’s rights around the world, and singled out abuse on university campuses as a major personal concern.

    The post Clinton: I’m not sure that we’ll ever eliminate domestic violence, but America is making headway appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Bill Clinton thinks that Vladimir Putin won’t be able to deny the hit that U.S. and European sanctions will have on Russia, but his control of the media will enable him to hang on. In an interview with PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, the former president said that sanctions will be felt because, especially because of the extreme concentration of wealth and power at the top. But, he said, the state media won’t reflect the damage.

    “Putin controls the media,” he said. “So by the time they get through whipping everybody up, he can maintain popularity longer than he should.”

    Mr. Clinton spoke to Woodruff in Washington on Friday, where he had just finished an event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the launch of Americorps with President Barack Obama. Watch our full interview with President Clinton tonight on the PBS NewsHour.

    The post Bill Clinton: Putin’s media control enables him to hang on to power appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Obama administration faced growing questions today about the coalition it’s trying to build against Islamic State militants.

    Secretary of state John Kerry met with Turkish leaders in Ankara, hoping to win their support.  Later, he said the roles of Turkey and other potential allies have yet to be determined.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: It is entirely premature and, frankly, inappropriate at this point in time to start laying out one country by one country what individual nations are going to do.  More than 40 countries had already offered assistance of one kind or another before I left Washington.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande was in Iraq meeting with the new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi.  Afterward, Abadi said France agreed to join in airstrikes against Islamic State fighters.

    Secretary Kerry also announced nearly $500 million in humanitarian aid today for Syrian refugees and the countries where they have fled.  Some three million Syrians have taken refuge in neighboring states.  More than twice that many remain inside Syria.

    The World Health Organization has issued an urgent new appeal for health workers to fight Ebola in West Africa.  The agency announced today that the death toll in the outbreak has now topped 2,400, out of nearly 48 hundred cases.  Cuba, meanwhile, announced plans to send 165 health specialists to Sierra Leone to help in the effort.

    The United States and the European Union both formally imposed new economic sanctions on Russia today for fomenting unrest in Ukraine.  The U.S. measures target Russia’s largest bank, plus energy and defense companies.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian state TV that the moves could jeopardize the cease-fire in Ukraine.

    SERGEI LAVROV, Russian Foreign Minister (through interpreter): There was already commentary.  And our position is that making this type of decision at the very moment when the peace process is gaining stability, it means choosing the path of disrupting the peace process.  We’re going to respond calmly, adequately and, most of all, from a need to protect our interests.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Kremlin said later that it will issue its own retaliatory measures.

    In South Africa, double-amputee Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide, akin to manslaughter, in the shooting death of his girlfriend.  The judge acquitted him of murder charges.  Afterward, police and bodyguards led Pistorius through a mob of television cameras and supporters.  He could get as many as 15 years in prison.

    The embattled mayor of Toronto, Canada, Rob Ford, has dropped his run for reelection, after discovering he has an abdominal tumor.  Ford had previously insisted he’d stay in the race, despite drug and alcohol scandals.  In a statement today, he said he will run for a seat on the city council instead.  His brother, who now holds a council seat, will run for mayor in his place.

    The fiery longtime leader of Northern Ireland’s Protestants, the Reverend Ian Paisley, died today.  For decades, he rejected compromise with Catholics, and demanded the defeat of the Irish Republican Army.  After the IRA disarmed, Paisley stunned the world in 2007 by forming a unity government.  The Reverend Ian Paisley was 88 years old.

    Deportations of undocumented immigrants from the U.S. have fallen 20 percent this fiscal year to the lowest level since 2007.  The Associated Press reported today it’s partly because Border Patrol agents have been swamped by a surge of Central American children crossing into the country.  President Obama has postponed any official immigration policy changes until after the midterm elections.

    On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 61 points to close at 16,987.  The Nasdaq fell 24 points to close at 4,567.  And the S&P 500 slipped nearly 12 points to finish at 1,985.  For the week, the Dow and the S&P lost about 1 percent.  The Nasdaq fell a fraction of a percent.

    The post News Wrap: Kerry seeks Turkish support against Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: They celebrated at the White House today, 20 years after a landmark law that enshrined a domestic version of the Peace Corps.

    And the man who signed that law was on hand.

    With the stroke of his pen, President Bill Clinton made the AmeriCorps national service program a reality in 1993. A year later, the first class was officially sworn in.

    BILL CLINTON, Former President of the United States: Would you all raise your right hand and repeat after me?  I will get things done for America.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the 20 years since, more than 900,000 participants have spent in excess of 1.2 billion hours working on projects across the U.S. Today, that spirit of service was celebrated at the White House, as former President Clinton and hundreds of current and past AmeriCorps members joined President Obama to mark the anniversary.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: AmeriCorps has changed the life of our nation. And now it’s up to us to make sure it continues, because we’re not just here to celebrate what’s already been achieved. We’re here to rededicate ourselves to the work that lies ahead.

    WOMAN: Please raise your right hand.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A new class of some 75,000 volunteers was sworn in today at the White House and around the country. Members must be at least 17 years old and commit to volunteer for a year or two in exchange for a modest living allowance, as well as an education stipend.

    Over the years, they have tutored and mentored children in underserved communities and helped rebuild after natural disasters. Volunteers have also worked to combat hunger and on environmental conservation projects.

    Matthew Little joined AmeriCorps shortly after its inception. He worked with the service organization City Year at an inner-city school in Boston.

    MATTHEW LITTLE, Former AmeriCorps Volunteer: This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that people don’t typically get to have. You get to serve your community. You get to serve the nation. And you get to serve these individuals. And it’s just something that makes you a better person for having done it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But the program is not without its critics. Some Republicans have objected to giving a monetary incentive for civic service.

    BILL CLINTON: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: At today’s ceremony, former President Clinton called it a wonderful investment in America’s future.

    BILL CLINTON: AmeriCorps works because all of you who went before kept your promise to get things done. And I hope that Congress will on this occasion reconsider its opposition to his budget request and give us a chance to grow AmeriCorps some more.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I sat down with the former president this afternoon to talk about AmeriCorps and other matters.

    Former President Bill Clinton, thank you for talking with us.

    BILL CLINTON: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: As we just saw, you’re celebrating the 20th anniversary today of AmeriCorps. You have said this is one of the proudest things you did as president of the United States.

    But from the very beginning, many Republicans have said, this is something that should be done in the nonprofit sector, the government shouldn’t be funding it. It’s been difficult to get it fully funded. Why do you think it’s been so hard to get bipartisan buy-in?

    BILL CLINTON: Well, I think it violates their ideology.

    But if you think about it, it costs us less to hire an AmeriCorps person on basically a living stipend and give them college credit like the G.I. Bill than it does to pay a year’s worth of unemployment. And every dollar we spend on AmeriCorps generates a dollar spent in a local community. Every dollar, according to an independent study, provides almost $4 worth of benefits.

    And every dollar spent that way saves governments, federal, state and local, more than $2 they would have to spend otherwise because of all the free labor. And the AmeriCorps people also — like Joplin — when the tornado hit Joplin, we sent AmeriCorps volunteers down there, and they were adept at generating and organizing large numbers of other volunteers, something not everybody knows how to do.

    It’s just been a great thing. And, you know, we still have to fight it, but I guess we will just keep doing it. But President Bush supported it. And I appreciated that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    BILL CLINTON: So we have had three presidents in a row that have really been in here for it.

    And I think, with 900,000 people having served in AmeriCorps now, I think it’s part of the fabric of our national life.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But even some big supporters of the program have said that it’s been harder than you had expected to get young people interested in this. Last year, there were half-a-million young people who applied, but that’s out of 32 million in this 18-to-24 cohort. What do you — how do you explain that?

    BILL CLINTON: Well, first of all, they were applying for 75,000 slots. So they knew that there was — I mean, that’s like trying to get in an Ivy League school. That’s the first thing.

    Secondly, I think a lot of young people still don’t know about it. And — but I believe, if we had 250,000 slots, which is what we wanted to have by 2017, I believe there would be millions of people applying for it.

    I’m amazed. I think whatever we can provide, the demand will exceed the supply of AmeriCorps slots.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Clinton, you’re not only involved in AmeriCorps and all of its programs. The Clinton Global Initiative has now become a big annual happening in New York City. It’s coming up in a few weeks.

    BILL CLINTON: Our 10th one.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you raise tens of millions of dollars every year for a variety of causes. Again, one of your major focuses this year is women and girls.

    In the wake of the Ray Rice incident and other domestic abuse incidents, and after all the education that’s been done in this country on domestic abuse, why do you think that this is still such a problem in our country?

    BILL CLINTON: Oh, I think it’s a problem around the world. You know, there was just a recent survey released sometime in the last couple of weeks by the U.N. I wish I could remember who did it.

    But the number of women and girls who have been physically and sexually abused, the percentage around the world is staggering and far greater than it is here. I think the reaction to the Rice incident shows that we’re still moving on it here, but I don’t know that you will ever eliminate it all, since an enormous amount of violence in every society is within the home, sadly, where people live in proximity and are under pressures and have lives that they don’t show to the outside world.

    But I actually think America is making headway here. And it’s a big issue to me. I have lived with it. And Hillary has spent a lifetime fighting against it. And it’s a big issue.

    But I think what we would like to do primarily with the CGI is to keep trying to empower women and girls around the world, and to work against much more institutionalized violence against women and girls that exists all over the world.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me turn you to some news of the week, the big story, President Obama’s announcement of his plan to go after, in his words, to degrade and destroy the terrorist Islamic State group.

    How confident are you that this is going to be successful?  And how long do you think it’s going to take?

    BILL CLINTON: Well, this group, I think they can be degraded and eventually destroyed, if and only if the people they are abusing are willing to fight.

    In other words, the strategy he outlined, which I strongly agree with, requires us to use airpower and people on the ground to give training and support and intelligence and to bring in equipment they need, so it will be a fair fight.

    But, ever since Vietnam, we have learned that if the United States goes anywhere in the world to fight — I hate sports analogies, but, essentially, it’s an away game. And we need to be backing a home team. And now, because of the changes in the Iraqi government, it appears that the Sunni tribal chiefs are once again, having been abused by ISIS, as they were by al-Qaida in Iraq, are willing to fight, and this time, looks like they’re going to be involved in a more unified Iraqi government.

    The Peshmerga of the Kurds has fought. We need to keep them equipped, trained, full of intelligence and give them support, and I think they can win. But it’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be quick.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I must ask you about Russia, Vladimir Putin. You know this man. His government, they have annexed Crimea. They now effectively control much of Eastern Ukraine. There have been sanctions, more sanctions announced today. They don’t seem to faze him. Is the West helpless to stop his aggression?

    BILL CLINTON: No. And I think they will faze him.

    Russia has — I’m trying to think of a delicate way to say this.

    The allocation of money and power in Russia is not as it is here. And there’s no thing that resembles a free market, and there’s a lot of politics in it. And that’s going to be felt. But Putin controls the media. Russia doesn’t have a free media.

    So, by the time they get through whipping everybody up, he can maintain popularity longer than he should. I think it’s important to recognize Poroshenko is probably the best president Ukraine can have right now. He’s a responsible, strong man. We need to make sure they have got equipment and other support.

    And they’re not NATO members. We can’t commit to put troops on the ground. We don’t want a major war, but we ought to back them and protect as much as we can and support them as much as we can.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Question about American politics.

    You have been all over the country. You are going to continue to go all over the country campaigning for Democrats. You and Secretary Clinton are going to be in Iowa this weekend. Despite that, all the experts are saying Republicans are going to take over control of the Senate this fall, including in your home state of Arkansas. What’s your assessment?

    BILL CLINTON: Can’t tell you — in Arkansas, it is a question of whether the Democrats can get over their primary disability as a political party, which is that we can produce votes in a presidential race we can’t produce in a midterm race.

    Mark Pryor would win, I think, a substantial victory in Arkansas, and I believe Mike Ross would be elected governor in Arkansas if we just had a normal turnout of African-American, Hispanic and other voters. We have too many — and lower-income white voters. We have too many of our voters in state after state after state where that’s the case.

    So, I don’t know what’s going to happen yet, but I’m going to get caught trying to help all over the country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you’re not going to predict the Democrats…

    BILL CLINTON: I think we have a slightly better than 50 percent chance to hold the Congress. I still think we got a chance to win in Georgia and Kentucky.

    We’re now competitive in Kansas. And we have to, I think — I think we have got a great chance to win in North Carolina. I think we’re now going to hold Michigan. And I believe we will win in Iowa. And I think Mark and Mary Landrieu will win, so I’m not — I’m not with the skeptics. I think we’re going to do better than people think.

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

    BILL CLINTON: Thank you, Judy.

    The post Bill Clinton celebrates 20 years of AmeriCorps, talks Islamic State strategy and midterm election outlook appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user Sean MacEntee

    The Justice Department is seeking more power to chase cyber criminals overseas where huge marketplaces of stolen credit card numbers are fed by thefts in the U.S. Photo by Flickr user Sean MacEntee

    WASHINGTON — Criminals from around the world buy and sell stolen credit card information with ease in today’s digital age. But if they commit their crime entirely outside the United States, they may be beyond the reach of federal prosecutors.

    Justice Department officials are seeking a tougher law to combat overseas credit card trafficking, an increasingly lucrative crime that crosses national boundaries.

    Authorities say the current statute is too weak because it allows people in other countries to avoid prosecution if they stay outside the United States when buying and selling the data and don’t pass their illicit business through the U.S. The Justice Department is asking Congress to amend the law to make it illegal for an international criminal to possess, buy or sell a stolen credit card issued by a U.S. bank no matter where in the world the transaction occurs.

    Though prosecutors do have existing tools and have brought international cybertheft cases in the past year, the Justice Department says a new law is needed at a time when criminals operating largely in Eastern Europe are able to gobble up millions of stolen credit card numbers and commit widespread fraud in a matter of mouse clicks. Companies and banks, too, have been stung by faraway hackers who have siphoned away personal information.

    “It’s a very simple fix, and it makes perfect sense to fix it,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, the Justice Department’s criminal division chief, said in an interview. “This is a huge law enforcement issue when it’s our financial institutions and our citizens’ credit card data that’s being stolen … by overseas people who never set foot in the United States.”

    The problem, though certainly not new, has evolved to the point that “a lot of these folks who are trafficking in these devices are overseas,” Caldwell said.

    The issue is more than hypothetical, Caldwell told a Senate subcommittee, as law enforcement agencies have identified criminals in other nations who are selling large quantities of stolen credit cards without passing the business through the U.S.

    Officials say the crime is facilitated by online marketplaces where participants, cloaked in the anonymity of the Internet and trading data with the ease of eBay commodities, advertise, buy and sell credit card information stolen in data breaches.Officials say the crime is facilitated by online marketplaces where participants, cloaked in the anonymity of the Internet and trading data with the ease of eBay commodities, advertise, buy and sell credit card information stolen in data breaches. The credit cards are valued at different prices, generally depending on the balance, and swapped on Web forums that often operate in foreign languages and are primarily hosted in non-U.S. countries.

    The cards are sometimes used to purchase valuable goods and sometimes converted into gift cards, Caldwell said. Some schemes dispatch large bands of criminals to make withdrawals from automated teller machines.

    “It’s a well built-up and sophisticated marketplace,” said Chris Wysopal, a computer security expert and chief technology officer of the software-security firm Veracode.

    The legislative request comes as prosecutors deal, more generally, with a growing cybercrime threat. Several recent cases illustrate the ease with which cybercriminals have managed to steal personal information.

    In June, prosecutors announced charges against a prolific Russian hacker accused of running an operation that infected computers with malicious software, captured bank account numbers and passwords and then siphoned away millions of dollars. The man, Evgeniy Bogachev, remains at large.

    The following month, authorities arrested the son of a Russian lawmaker on charges that he hacked into computerized cash registers and stole hundreds of thousands of credit card numbers. Roman Seleznev has pleaded not guilty in federal court in Seattle.

    The Justice Department is hardly toothless in fighting the illegal sale of credit cards and has been able to make do with current statutes. Existing law would cover, among other crimes, anyone abroad who hacks into a U.S. computer, uses a stolen credit card inside the U.S. or transfers money into the country. And prosecutors can still bring a conspiracy charge when they can prove the suspect is part of a broader operation that reaches into the U.S.

    But authorities say the loophole did surface in the case of Vladislav Horohorin, an international credit card trafficker arrested in France in 2010 for his role in the theft of more than $9 million from an Atlanta-based credit card processor. He was ultimately convicted for crimes committed in the United States, including selling stolen credit cards to an undercover agent, but the 2.5 million credit cards he had at the time of his arrest were not, by themselves, enough for a prosecution.

    “The likelihood that a hacker in Russia can be brought to prosecution in the United States is very low,” said Thomas Holt, an associate professor and cyberhacking expert at Michigan State University. “Any mechanism that can be employed to improve the potential for prosecution is absolutely a necessity at this point.”

    Caldwell laid out the dilemma in a July appearance before the Senate Judiciary crime and terrorism subcommittee.

    The panel’s chairman, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned about the problem and may address it as part of a bill targeting “botnets” — networks of computers infected with malicious software — he was drafting with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., his office said.

    Even though the criminal conduct occurs outside the country’s borders, its impact is still felt by U.S. financial institutions, Caldwell said in the interview.

    “These credit cards are basically the key to the American financial system for these people, and they can just unlock people’s accounts and take their money,” she said.

    The post One simple legal fix could help fight overseas credit card fraud, claims DOJ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: General Motors’ major series of recalls has so far been the defining consumer safety story in the auto industry this year. But now, to add to that, there are concerns being raised around air bags on the part of Honda and 10 other car manufacturers that have prompted more recalls, and a focus on disclosure, regulation and safety.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: As with GM, the problems may date back a decade or more. In this case, it’s the rupturing or explosion of air bags that injured drivers and are linked with two deaths. The air bags are supplied by Takata Corporation. Which makes them for automakers around the world.

    Honda first began recalling a few thousand as early as 2009. This year, recalls related to the air bags have grown dramatically and now exceed 14 million overall, six million of them by Honda, while Toyota, BMW, and Nissan have also recalled large numbers of cars.

    David Shepardson of The Detroit News joins us once again.

    Welcome back, David.

    First, remind us what the problem is with the air bags.

    DAVID SHEPARDSON, The Detroit News: Sure.

    These are air bags that are deploying in a frontal crash. And rather than just getting the pillow you see in a standard air bag, they are rupturing because of the high force, and in some cases sending shrapnel or pieces of metal, and causing serious injuries and, as you said, reports of two deaths.

    JEFFREY BROWN: As we reported here, it was found first a long time ago. It has taken a long time to get to this number of recalls. What’s — kind of quickly bring us up to date. What’s been happening in that area?

    DAVID SHEPARDSON: Well, it’s been a real puzzle both for Honda and for regulators, in part because you had two different plants, one in Mexico, one in Washington State, that had two different issues with these air bag inflators that prompted, you know, starting with Honda to recall these vehicles.

    Then it grew to almost a dozen worldwide. In fact, the government is still deciding whether the recalls that have been done so far are enough. And there may — still may be more vehicles to be recalled. And that goes to the issue of, is — it’s hard to figure out exactly how many vehicles and which specific air bags should be covered by this.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And that, of course, has also led to the question as to whether Honda and others have done enough to get out the word or have tried to keep it quiet.

    DAVID SHEPARDSON: Right.

    Well, as is standard procedure in the auto industry, the settlements — and Honda and some of the other auto companies have settled suits involving these air bags — but the settlements are confidential.

    The government receives reports of these settlements through something called the early warning database, but, remember, when you have got six million crashes a year, 30,000 people who die, the — and a relatively small number of people for the government investigating, it’s often hard to find a needle in the haystack, as they would say.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, that of course leads to the other side of this, questions about the regulators. How much are they looking?  How much are they able to look?

    DAVID SHEPARDSON: Well, in fact, the — the Senate Commerce Committee is having a hearing Tuesday to decide, look, the number of cars sold has grown and the complexity of cars has grown with computers and more electronics.

    And the government is — the number of people investigating these vehicles is relatively stable. And there’s a real question from a lot of senators, saying, does the agency need to be beefed up and have more tools to force auto companies to recall vehicles faster?

    JEFFREY BROWN: The company involved, the Japanese company, is supplying a lot of automakers.

    DAVID SHEPARDSON: Right. Right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Is that — that’s representative of changes we have seen in the auto industry, right?

    DAVID SHEPARDSON: Absolutely.

    We had the crisis in 2009, which caused — spurred dozens of major suppliers to file for bankruptcy. And, as a result, some of the suppliers who survived got bigger and bigger. And, therefore, you have these — this one inflator part that in the past may have only led to recalls by one or two companies, but, as a result of the market dominance of the company, you had a dozen companies in the U.S., in Germany, around the world.

    So it goes to the fact that commonality of parts is leading to much bigger recalls in some cases.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And what is Honda itself saying at this point about where things stand and its own culpability?

    DAVID SHEPARDSON: Right.

    They issued a statement today, saying, look, they investigated, they never put people’s safety at risk, but it took them a long time to figure out what the problem is. And they said they’re committed to recalling vehicles if they find they’re unsafe.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You said there’s a hearing coming up. What else happens next?  What do we look for?

    DAVID SHEPARDSON: Well, the government in June pushed the companies to recall vehicles. And, in fact, some of the automakers went ahead and did it, even though they said they didn’t need to.

    So look for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to keep up the — its investigation to determine whether Honda acted properly and whether the recalls need to be expanded. And look for Congress to grapple with an issue of, does auto safety and — does it need reforms and does the law need more teeth?

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, David Shepardson of The Detroit News, thank you again.

    DAVID SHEPARDSON: Thanks, Jeff.

     

    The post Automakers recall 14 million cars for exploding airbags appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    patientsurgery

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: the rising use of outpatient medical centers for surgeries and other procedures.

    It’s a corner of the American health care market that rarely gets public attention. But after the death of comedian Joan Rivers, who suffered from complications at one facility in Manhattan, there are larger questions being asked about those centers, as their numbers are growing. There are more than 5,000 of them performing a total of 23 million surgeries a year.

    Hari Sreenivasan fills in the picture from our New York studios.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Joan Rivers first went to the Yorkville Endoscopy Center on August 28. But she suffered complications and was rushed by ambulance to Mount Sinai Hospital that day. She never regained consciousness and died September 4. It is still not clear what went wrong or what procedure she was undergoing.

    There are no allegations of wrongdoing. But the facility is the subject of a state investigation. It also announced the departure today of its medical director. And there are questions being asked about similar facilities.

    Shannon Pettypiece is covering this for Bloomberg News. She joins me now.

    So, what exactly is the type of facility that Ms. Rivers was at?

    SHANNON PETTYPIECE, Bloomberg News: It’s actually very common.

    There’s more than 5,000 of these — they’re called ambulatory surgery centers. They’re basically a freestanding surgery facility for outpatients only. And they’re typically owned by the doctors, rather than a hospital.

    Some of them are small, like the one that Ms. Rivers was at, with just a few doctors that focuses on one or two types of procedures like endoscopy or colonoscopy, but some of them are quite big and do a whole range of outpatient procedures, shoulder surgeries, cataracts, eye surgeries, plastic surgery. Some of them even almost look like an actual hospital.

    And so it can be kind of tricky for patients to tell the difference between what is a hospital, what is an outpatient surgery center. But, essentially, these facilities don’t have an emergency room. They don’t have an ICU. And, like I said, they are owned by the doctors who are performing the procedures there, rather than a nonprofit or a large corporation.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, why are they increasing in number?  What’s creating the market for them to exist?

    SHANNON PETTYPIECE: Well, there’s two things.

    One, more and more procedures are being done outpatient because of improvements in technology. You don’t have to spend the night in the hospital for one or two days. The second is that they’re cheaper. They cost about half as much as having a procedure done in a hospital because they don’t carry that huge hospital overhead, like the emergency room or the charity care that a hospital has to provide.

    So they save insurance a lot of money. And with people having these $5,000 deductibles and co-pays now, they can save individuals a lot if it’s $1,000 at the outpatient surgery center vs. $2,000 at a hospital.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, the insurance companies would actually pay less. The patients might pay less out of the deductible.

    When we think about money, is there a different kind of conflict of interests, if the doctor tells you to go to one of their facilities where they have a stake in it vs. go to a hospital, where they make money a little differently?

    SHANNON PETTYPIECE: Yes.

    Well, the doctor is going to make more money if he sends you to a facility that he owns, rather than going to a hospital, where he’s basically just paid for his labor. So, there has been a concern and some studies that have shown that doctors who have an ownership stake in one of these facilities refer more patients, do more of a certain type of procedure.

    Why that is, is kind of hard to tell. Some people have said it’s because they think the doctors have a financial stake. It could also just be because it’s more convenient to do these procedures now. They can schedule them easily, more quickly. But that’s one of the main concerns that has been raised about these facilities.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, are there concerns about the health outcomes?  If you don’t have an emergency room on the premises and if something goes wrong, like in Mrs. Rivers’ case or in otherwise, what happens?

    SHANNON PETTYPIECE: Well, there’s no data that shows that, for the general population, an outpatient surgery center is any more risky than having it done at a hospital.

    But for that one-in-a-million case where something does go wrong, there’s not an emergency room, so there has to be a backup plan. Usually, that backup plan is just calling 911, which was the case with Joan Rivers. And then you have to be rushed to a hospital where there is an emergency room.

    So one of the big questions is, what type of emergency equipment do they have on hand and how far are they from an emergency room facility if it is one of those rare cases where something happens?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So what kind of questions should a consumer be thinking about when they might go in for one of these procedures?

    SHANNON PETTYPIECE: Well, first, there’s the stuff you should always ask before you go in for a procedure, the surgeon’s history, how many procedures they have done, what their safety record is like, is the facility accredited and certified.

    There is an accreditation process for these facilities. But the other thing to ask specifically for an outpatient center would be, what’s the backup plan if something does goes wrong? How close am I to a hospital if I do need to get to the emergency room?  And you might want to ask if the doctor has some sort of ownership stake in it, and then question, is this procedure really necessary, or is it possible the doctor is suggesting this because he does have a financial motive?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And, obviously, this particular tragedy kind of put this into light. But has this been a debate or a struggle in the health care community over the past few years now?

    SHANNON PETTYPIECE: There has.

    As these outpatient facilities have become more prevalent — there has been a 28 increase in the number of them over the past decade. There has been a lot of studies, a lot of research. Groups — physicians groups have raised concern about them. Anesthesiology groups have raised concern.

    So this is not necessarily something new in the medical debate just because of this event, though it’s getting a lot of attention.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Shannon Pettypiece of Bloomberg News, thanks so much.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: One year ago this month, a Chinese company bought America’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods.  The $4.7 billion deal is the biggest Chinese acquisition of a U.S. company to date.

    Nathan Halverson from the Center for Investigative Reporting looks into the Chinese government’s role in the takeover.  This story was produced as part of the Food for 9 Billion series, a collaboration between the Center for Investigative Reporting and Homelands Productions, with broadcast partners the “PBS NewsHour,” American Public Media’s “Marketplace” and PRI’s “The World.”

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Pork pride is everywhere in Smithfield, Virginia.

    This small town of 8,000 dubs itself the ham capital of the world.  Painted pigs line Main Street.  And at the taste of Smithfield Cafe, bacon graces nearly every plate.  The town’s museum even features the world’s oldest edible ham.  And some in town still produce ham as it was done generations ago.

    MAN: We are curing hams the same way it was done during colonial times, Jamestown, Williamsburg, right on up to now.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: The town is also home to the world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods.  This factory processes more than 10,000 pigs a day.

    MAN: We have got boneless loins, bone-in loins, butts, back ribs, spareribs, neck bone, cushions.  We have got an assortment of everything.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: And this is going all over the country?

    MAN: All over the world.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Here, every employee from secretaries to the CEO learns how to properly butcher a pig.  A year ago, news broke that stunned the town.  Chinese buyers had purchased Smithfield Foods.

    MAN: That was the issue when it was announced.  It just shocked the town.  Nobody saw it coming.

    MAN: Another foreign deal causing chatter, if not national security concerns.

    WOMAN: Smithfield agreeing to be acquired by China’s Shuanghui International.

    MAN: A Chinese company today offering nearly $5 billion.

    MAN: If approved, it would be a largest Chinese takeover of any American company.

    MAN: Questions are being raised about why China wants our pigs.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: The takeover raised concerns the Chinese government was a hidden player in the deal.  Some members of Congress wondered why Shuanghui group would pay more than Smithfield’s market value.

    SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW, (D) Michigan: The Chinese paid a 30 percent premium.  Very interesting.  Not exactly the best business deal, so what’s really going on here?  What really is it that this merger, this purchase, was all about?

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Senator Debbie Stabenow heads the Senate Agriculture Committee.  She says food is a strategic resource that should be as important to the U.S. government as oil.

    SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW: This isn’t just an acquisition of a company.  It’s 25 percent of the pork industry in the United States.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Stabenow worried that the Smithfield takeover could signal a long-term threat to the vital American food industry.

    SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW: This is a precedent-setting case.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: As the U.S. government reviewed the deal, Stabenow called a Senate hearing to take a deeper look at the first Chinese purchase of a major American food company.

    MAN: This is really all about control.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Daniel Slane, a congressional adviser who receives classified China briefings from the CIA, warned of Chinese government involvement.

    DANIEL SLANE, U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission: They have told their domestic industries, like Shuanghui, go out and find these companies and acquire them.  And, in effect, American companies are not competing with a Chinese company, but with the Chinese government, and they can’t win that competition.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Larry Pope, president and CEO of Smithfield Foods, said this was simply the case of one private company buying another.

    MAN: Would you agree that Shuanghui is a state-controlled company?

    LARRY POPE, CEO, Smithfield Foods: No, I wouldn’t agree, Senator, that it is a state-controlled company.  I think the — I think that’s fairly easy to research.  So, I would just ask Mr. Slane to do the research.  And maybe he’s just got some bad information.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Some senators even laughed off Slane’s remarks.

    MAN: Did you realize you were the victim of a Chinese communist plot?

    (LAUGHTER)

    LARRY POPE: Senator, I didn’t — to this moment, I’m not sure I understand I’m the victim of a communist plot.

    MAN: And the control of your company somehow…

    (LAUGHTER)

    NATHAN HALVERSON: In his written testimony, Pope said the Chinese government has absolutely no ownership stake or management control in Shuanghui.

    DANIEL SLANE: He’s either lying or he’s delusional, one or the other.  I just don’t think he understands the situation.  And you can’t expect him to be a China expert.  His job is to do what’s in the best interest of the shareholders.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: The Treasury Department approved the deal last September.  A special committee, which meets behind closed doors to evaluate foreign purchases of American companies, reviewed the acquisition to assess whether it posed a threat to national security, focusing on military defense.

    Since Treasury’s final report is classified, the Center for Investigative Reporting spent four months determining if the Chinese government played a role in the takeover.

    Carl Sanchez, the American lawyer who brokered the deal for Shuanghui, says the Chinese government’s bank, the Bank of China, approved the $4 billion loan to buy Smithfield in a single day.

    Bank of China is — it’s owned by the government.  So if the government has an initiative, and they want to go forward with it, the advantage is, is that they can support that.

    CARL SANCHEZ, Lawyer for Shuanghui: Sure.  We had our financing all lined up.  We were ready to roll.  We were ready to sign that agreement.  We were ready to provide commitment letters from the banks for about $5 billion in financing altogether.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: In its annual report, the Bank of China highlights the Smithfield takeover, calling it their social responsibility and saying it spares no effort to support Chinese enterprises in their international competition.

    We asked Sanchez directly about the Chinese government’s role in the deal.

    CARL SANCHEZ: So that part of the transaction, I’m not sure I can comment on.  I would have to check with the client first before I could comment on that.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: So, to find out more, we went to China, where a rapidly growing middle class is eating more meat every year, pushing the country’s pork production to the limit.

    At factories like Shuanghui’s, the government has established massive pork reserves, akin to oil reserves in the U.S., to store millions of pounds of frozen meat.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: In 2011, the government issued a five-year plan directing food companies such as Shuanghui to obtain more meat for their production lines by purchasing overseas businesses.  We went to Shuanghui’s headquarters in Luohe, China.

    ZHANG TAIXI, President, Shuanghui: Welcome to Shuanghui.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Thank you for having us.  It’s a pleasure.

    ZHANG TAIXI: Thank you.  Thank you.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: We got a tour of the company from Zhang Taixi, president of Shuanghui.  Zhang, like other senior management at Shuanghui, was appointed to his position by the Chinese government.

    How supportive was the Chinese government of Shuanghui’s purchase of Smithfield Foods?

    ZHANG TAIXI (through interpreter): Very supportive.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: How did the Chinese government support this deal?

    ZHANG TAIXI (through interpreter): The Chinese government has been supporting us with preferential policy, as well as investment.  For instance, the Bank of China has shown great support both financially and politically.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: And why has the government given so much support?  Because Shuanghui, according to its own documents, is required to carry out China’s five-year plan.  In effect, the Chinese government does exercise management control.

    We went back to Smithfield CEO Larry Pope, who is now an executive with the Chinese company, to ask whether he stands by his testimony to Congress.

    LARRY POPE: I have never seen a government official related to this transaction from China at all.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: We showed Larry Pope the Bank of China annual report that details their role in the Smithfield acquisition.

    This is the Bank of China document where they lay this out.

    LARRY POPE: I didn’t know they did it in 24 hours.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: You can see here — I just mark it — I mean, they’re saying that that transaction is part of the government’s plan, and they are supporting it and it’s their social responsibility.

    LARRY POPE: Wow.  “The bank performs its social responsibility.  The bank spares no efforts to support Chinese enterprises.”

    Wow.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: How do you compete with that?

    LARRY POPE: It’s hard.  I don’t think I could go out today and get the U.S. government to support making a $4 billion loan as a social responsibility for Smithfield to move forward on a foreign — on a foreign country’s territory.  No, I don’t think that’s doable in any industry that I can think of.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Sanchez, the lawyer for Shuanghui, says the Bank of China is set to fund many more Chinese takeovers.

    CARL SANCHEZ: I definitely think that the Shuanghui-Smithfield deal was a litmus test for Chinese-U.S. deals, very large Chinese-U.S. deals.

    I can tell you firsthand that this has paved the way for other deals.  We are now looking at a few other very large transactions for Chinese clients looking at other iconic brands in the United States.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Senator Stabenow said that, if the Chinese government has a global food agenda that includes purchasing American food companies, the U.S. government should provide strategic protection for its food industry.

    SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW: Food security is national security.  And I can’t imagine that the American people will feel comfortable if they wake up someday and find that half of our food processors are owned by China.  And I think there are some very, very tough questions that need to be answered.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Stabenow is now drafting legislation that would require the Treasury Department to take a much harder look at foreign takeovers of American food companies.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And one footnote:  The Chinese company Shuanghui in the story has officially changed its overall name to W.H. Group, but it still retains the name and use of Smithfield Foods for that brand of products since the deal was completed.

    Tomorrow on “PBS NewsHour Weekend,” we look at what the Smithfield deal reveals about China’s plan to modernize its food system and to feed its people.

     

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: A major presidential address to the nation and calls for congressional backing to take on the Islamic State. It was another full week of news.

    And we turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Welcome, gentlemen.

    So, we led the program tonight with Bill Clinton. He is supporting, he said, President Obama’s plan to degrade and destroy ISIS.

    Mark, he said it won’t be easy or quick, but he thinks it will be successful. But I guess my question to you is, two days after the president rolled it out, you said it needs a healthy debate. Is it getting that kind of debate right now?

    MARK SHIELDS: No, it isn’t.

    If John Kennedy were writing a postscript of profiles in courage, he wouldn’t get any material on Capitol Hill, with few inconspicuous consumptions — exceptions. Tim Kaine , Democratic senator from Virginia, and several others arguing that the Congress should accept this responsibility.

    The irony is, the Republican House members are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to sue the president for excessive abuse of power, and here’s the one power that is defined, delineated by the Constitution that resides with the Congress to declare war. And they have abdicated that responsibility, or appear to be, want to get through the election.

    Leaders now see their responsibility as to avoid difficult votes for their members, whether it’s the leadership, makes no — Mitch McConnell being the exception. He’s calling on the Republicans in the Senate for a vote. But Harry Reid doesn’t want one, and I don’t think see that John Boehner does either.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Where do you come down on that?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    No, I think in the House and the Senate, we’re probably not going to get a big debate. We will have a debate about the appropriations, about some of the backdoor funding mechanisms. It strikes me what’s interesting is it seems to me the Democrats are a little more divided on this. It’s a more troublesome issue for the Democrats than it is for the Republicans.

    The Republicans are more united. Rand Paul has come out more or less in favor of this. So the — what had been a more isolationist fringe, or however you want to say it, has — that part of the Republican Party has merged and looks more like a conventional Republican Party, the national security party.

    The Democrats are the divided ones. And Steny Hoyer, the Democratic leading congressional official, wants to push it beyond the election. But we are having a big national debate about it. People are talking about it on the streets. And what struck me is how hard it is to talk about it, because I think most people think you have no choice but to somehow — you can’t allow a genocidal caliphate in the Middle East.

    But how you do it is what has everybody scratching their heads. What kind of coalition are we going to have?  What happens if the Iraqi army is not successful on the ground?  What happens if the Free Syrian Army, the moderate Syrian opposition, is not super successful?

    So, very quickly, I have just noticed the tenor of the debate has shifted from ends for the most part to means. And people are sort of up in the air, because it’s not quite clear exactly how that is going to work.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, the president has asked Congress to support the training of Syrian rebels, assuming they identify these moderate Syrian rebels.

    MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

    They have got to be — somebody has got to find out who the moderates are.

    DAVID BROOKS: They have got to be for Sam Nunn.  They have got to be…

    MARK SHIELDS: Is there a test here, I mean, the Lincoln Chafee series?

    Yes. No, Judy, the Western — United States — the United States military, western military, has shown its ability, its capacity to come in and dominate the battlefield. But the idea of establishing order, security and peaceful government in its wake after that has eluded us.

    And there’s no way in the world — the question of coalition, who are these people?  Where are they?  Who are the troops who are going to be there to guarantee stability, order and some sense of justice in the areas?

    You can’t do that with airstrikes. I mean, airstrikes are wonderful. They’re antiseptic. They’re at a distance. The possibility of your own casualties is finite. But they don’t occupy. You can’t occupy a nation or bring order and stability by airstrikes. So who are people on the ground?  Who is the coalition?  Where are the troops coming from?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you’re saying he’s the reluctant warrior, so can the reluctant warrior lead in a situation where we don’t know what the endgame…

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think so.

    I strikes me a Syrian moderate is anybody against beheading in Syria. That makes you a moderate. But I do think he is a reluctant warrior. He doesn’t want to be there. But that has some advantages. It has the advantage he’s not going to be carried away by his own righteousness.

    He’s not going to want to dominate the ground. He — it is going to make him skeptical of everything that generals bring him because he’s not gung-ho. And it’s going to mean he is going to be realistic about our goals.

    And turning Syria into a great country is not one of our goals. It’s — and turning Iraq into a viable country is sort of one of our goals. He’s more interested in keeping Iraq stable than whatever happens in Syria. The main goal is degrading these guys, truly one of the most evil manifestation of human life on earth.

    And so simply — our goal is destructive. Our goal is not positive. It’s not make the Middle East a better place. Our goal is make sure the Middle East doesn’t get any worse. And so I do think, with that limited goal, with some buy-in from the Sunni tribes who have done it before, they have defeated this kind of army before. It should be possible to degrade this group.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Turn to something very different, politics. We talked to Bill Clinton about it. He’s going to Iowa this weekend, Mark, with former Secretary Hillary Clinton, who a lot of people think is going to run for president in 2016.

    She has not been back there since she ran for president in 2008. Is this something you’re going to be watching?  Is it a big deal?  What does it say?

    MARK SHIELDS: It’s a major deal, her first time back, obviously, in Iowa.

    Two things, Judy. Part of it, following the earlier discussion, Iowa Democrats are among the most dovish Democrats in the country. The Iowa caucuses were created in 1968. The architect of them was a fellow named Alan Barren (ph), a very political — political genius, an anti-war Democrat, so that anti-war Democrats could express their opposition to Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam policy.

    So Hillary Clinton, who is now sort of priding herself on Barack Obama coming over to her position and arming the Syrians and her toughness, that will be an interesting fit. More interesting to me is how she handles Bill Clinton.

    Bill Clinton — think about this. We have had one balanced budget in 45 years, during Bill Clinton’s presidency, several balanced budgets, leaving a surplus. We had the lowest unemployment in the history of the United States among African-Americans and Latinos. We had the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years under Bill Clinton.

    There were 22 million jobs created in Bill Clinton’s eight years, which is more than were created in the 20 years of Ronald Reagan’s eight and the Bushes’ 12. It’s an amazing record. So there’s a temptation on her part to run a nostalgia back-to-the-future campaign, I think, because things were better.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you’re saying that’s a good idea, or…

    MARK SHIELDS: No, I don’t think you can. I think you can run — American presidential campaigns are about the future.

    And I don’t think you can run a nostalgic campaign. But she wants to remind people of just how good things were when Bill Clinton was there, even though he was there — it will be 16 years later.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    I’m struck by the same things Mark is, first that she has emerged, and even more so since she left the secretary of state job, as possibly the most hawkish Democrat, certainly hawkish presidential possibility. And she’s going to be starting in a state that is notoriously unwelcome for that.

    And so how does she play that?  How forward-leaning is she in talking about that?  And, of course, it’s worth remembering she lost there. And if you remember the tears she shed, the way her voice quivered, it happened after Iowa. She was in New Hampshire at the time, but it’s a moment of — it was a scene of maximum vulnerability for her. And one expects of the Clinton mind it will be a scene of maximum effort this time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And that raises — broaden it out. I asked President Clinton about the Senate races. And he finally — at first, he said he didn’t know, and then he said, no, I think the Democrats — Mark, he said, I think the Democrats have a slightly better than 50/50 chance of holding onto the Senate.

    MARK SHIELDS: He went on to specifically analyze the Mike Ross against Asa Hutchinson…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: He went from one race after another.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes. No, the problem, Judy, the Democrats are not in an encouraging environment right now.

    Of the seven key races, six of them, the Democrats, for control of the Senate, are being run in red states that Mitt Romney carried by more than 14 points. You have got a president who’s at the lowest job rating in his presidency right now at 40 percent.

    And you have people feeling the country is headed the wrong direction by a 2-1 margin, worse than it was in 1994, when the Democrats got swept, or 2006, when George Bush was routed. So it’s that.

     

    And add to that the interest, enthusiasm factor is higher among Republicans than it is among Democrats. You know, it’s not an encouraging picture. So the Democrats, the Mark Pryors, the Mark Udalls, the Mark Begiches are all trying to make a one-on-one race against the candidate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Marks. It’s a good name.

    MARK SHIELDS: They don’t want to mention Barack Obama.

    And the Republicans all want to say, my candidate — my opposition, my opponent went to Washington and voted 95 percent of the time with Barack Obama and forgot the people here in Centerville.

    DAVID BROOKS: I had forgotten about all the Marks. It’s a “Marksist” party.

    MARK SHIELDS: It is.

    (LAUGHTER)

    MARK SHIELDS: It is.

    DAVID BROOKS: But it’s funny how the barometric pressure, at least here among those of us who watch the polls, is a couple of months ago, it was all — it looks like a great Republican year.

    Then the tide shifted. It seems the polls were shifting on the Democratic side, Democrats doing pretty well in Georgia and North Carolina hanging in there. I would say in the last two weeks, if you look at the polls, especially as they have gone to a tighter screen where they only look at the likely voters, it has shifted a little more toward the Republican side again.

    The Democrats are still doing well in Georgia and some other places, but the momentum feels, at least at the moment, among those who pay super close attention to this, it feels back again a little more on the Republican side.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Clinton is sure saying — President Clinton is saying he’s going to be out there campaigning through the fall. He’s getting more invitations than President Obama is to campaign.

    MARK SHIELDS: He is. He is. He is the most popular political figure in the country. It’s just remarkable.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: One last thing I want to ask you both about, the announcement by the White House. They did confirm that the president is not going to announce any sort of executive action on immigration until after this election.

    Is this good for the president, good for the Democrats, David, or not?

    DAVID BROOKS: In the short term, yes.

    So it’s a short-term/long-term thing. In the short term, it means a lot of Democrats running in red states will have a little easier time. They won’t have to confront that issue. Over the long term, I understood the Democratic strategists who said, well, let’s sacrifice the short term. Let’s really lock in some loyalty among Latino groups. And that will just benefit us so much more in the long term.

    So, they have taken a hit among Latino groups among poll standing. president Obama’s poll standing among Hispanics is down. There’s certainly a lot of anger from the groups who thought they were promised this. And so they have made that long-term sacrifice for a short-term play.

    MARK SHIELDS: I think some Democrats view this long term.

    1994, Judy, when the Democrats were routed and the Republicans won the Congress for the first time in 40 years, they won the House, after that, the postscript, the narrative was the Democrats had lost because of their vote for gun control. And gun control became toxic at that point. I think Democrats are concerned that, in 2014, if they did lose and immigration was front and center, that it would kill prospects for immigration in the future.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we are going to — we will watching, because you’re right. The pro-immigrant groups are really angry right now at the president.

    MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks, we’re not angry at either one of you. Come back next week.

    MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you.

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    Undocumented immigrants on July 24, 2014 in Mission, Texas.  Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

    Undocumented immigrants on July 24, 2014 in Mission, Texas. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder is arguing publicly in favor of legal representation for migrant children arriving unaccompanied at the border — even as his department takes the opposite position in court.

    Holder said Friday in a speech to the Hispanic National Bar Association that, “Though these children may not have a constitutional right to a lawyer, we have policy reasons and a moral obligation to insure the presence of counsel.”

    Yet last week, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Leon Fresco appeared before a federal judge in Seattle to argue that providing legal representation for immigrant children facing deportation could create open borders and send the message that no one here illegally would be removed.

    “It would create a magnet effect,” Fresco said in court.

    That argument before U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly came in a lawsuit brought by a coalition of immigrant advocates on behalf of a group of migrant children. A ruling is pending.

    The contradiction emerges between what the administration argues the children are constitutionally entitled to, and what Holder says he supports as a policy. On Friday he discussed a new $1.8 million program to help legal aid organizations represent migrant children in courts, and said the department is working “to facilitate access to legal representation for these children.”

    Immigration advocates say the administration can’t have it both ways.

    “They can try to distinguish between their legal and moral obligation, but if you’re saying there’s a moral obligation to the children, you’re recognizing that in order for them to have a fair hearing, they need an attorney,” said Matt Adams, legal director at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, a plaintiff in the lawsuit in Seattle.

    In a statement, Justice Department spokeswoman Nicole Navas tried to explain the contradiction.

    “There is no question that, as a policy matter, the department would like children in immigration proceedings to have counsel. But the issue in the pending litigation is quite different and involves only whether there is a constitutional right to government-funded counsel,” she said. “While there is no constitutional right to counsel for immigrants in removal proceedings at government expense, the administration is still urging Congress to fund these attorney positions as a matter of discretion.”

    More than 60,000 children and youth have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in the last year without their parents, many fleeing vicious gangs in Central America. Although the arrivals at the border have dropped sharply, the vast majority of those admitted to the U.S. remain, their cases moving slowly through badly backlogged immigration courts.

    Under the law, migrant children who arrive from Central America are guaranteed court hearings. But unlike defendants in criminal court proceedings, immigrants facing deportation proceedings are not entitled to counsel.

    Advocates bringing the case in Seattle argue that for children who are fleeing brutal circumstances and might have asylum claims, the Constitution’s due-process guarantee requires that they should be represented.

    The government disagrees, arguing that the children already have legal protections, and that an injunction declaring they should all have legal representation would result in all their removal proceedings being stopped and draw many more children to the U.S.

    But in his public comments, Holder’s position is closer to the advocates’ side. “The way we treat those in need, and particularly young people who may be fleeing from abuse, persecution and violence, goes to the core of who we are as a nation,” he said Friday.

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    WASHINGTON — While the Islamic State group is getting the most attention now, another band of extremists in Syria – a mix of hardened jihadis from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Europe – poses a more direct and imminent threat to the United States, working with Yemeni bomb-makers to target U.S. aviation, American officials say.

    At the center is a cell known as the Khorasan group, a cadre of veteran al-Qaida fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan who traveled to Syria to link up with the al-Qaida affiliate there, the Nusra Front.

    But the Khorasan militants did not go to Syria principally to fight the government of President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials say. Instead, they were sent by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to recruit Europeans and Americans whose passports allow them to board a U.S.-bound airliner with less scrutiny from security officials.

    In addition, according to classified U.S. intelligence assessments, the Khorasan militants have been working with bomb-makers from al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate to test new ways to slip explosives past airport security. The fear is that the Khorasan militants will provide these sophisticated explosives to their Western recruits who could sneak them onto U.S.-bound flights.

    The Obama administration has said that the Islamic State group, the target of more than 150 U.S. airstrikes in recent weeks, does not pose an imminent threat to the continental U.S. The Khorasan group, which has not been subject to American military action, is considered the more immediate threat.

    Because of intelligence about the collaboration among the Khorasan group, al-Qaida’s Yemeni bomb-makers and Western extremists, U.S. officials say, the Transportation Security Administration in July decided to ban uncharged mobile phones and laptops from flights to the U.S. that originated in Europe and the Middle East.

    The Khorasan group’s plotting with al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate shows that, despite the damage that years of drone missile strikes has done to the leadership of core al-Qaida in Pakistan, the movement still can threaten the West. It has been rejuvenated in the past year as al-Qaida offshoots have grown in strength and numbers, bolstered by a flood of Western extremists to a new terrorist safe haven created by Syria’s civil war.

    That Yemen affiliate, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been able to place three bombs on U.S.-bound airliners, though none has succeeded in downing the aircraft.

    “The group’s repeated efforts to conceal explosive devices to destroy aircraft demonstrate its continued pursuit of high-profile attacks against the West, its increasing awareness of Western security procedures and its efforts to adapt to those procedures that we adopt,” Nicholas Rasmussen, deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, recently told a Senate panel.

    James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, first disclosed during a Senate hearing in January that a group of core al-Qaida militants from Afghanistan and Pakistan was plotting attacks against the West in Syria.

    But the group’s name, Khorasan, or its links to al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate, which is considered the most dangerous terrorist threat to the U.S., have not previously been disclosed.

    Khorasan refers to a province under the Islamic caliphate, or religious empire, of old that included parts of Afghanistan.

    Many U.S. officials interviewed for this story would not be quoted by name talking about what they said was highly classified intelligence. Some lawmakers who have been briefed on the Khorasan group threat were willing to discuss it in general terms. One congressman who declined to be identified in order to discuss intelligence matters used the group’s name in conversations with a reporter.

    The CIA refused to confirm the group’s name or any details in this story.

    Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, declined to name the group. But he described concerns among intelligence officials about “an unholy mix of people in Iraq and Syria right now – some who come from AQAP, some who come from Afghanistan and Pakistan, others from the Maghreb” in North Africa.

    “They can combine in ways that could pose a greater threat than their individual pieces. And that’s something we worry about,” said Schiff, D-Calif.

    U.S. officials have identified some members of the Khorasan group, but would not disclose the individuals’ names because of concerns they would hide from intelligence-gathering.

    Intelligence officials have been deeply concerned about dozens of Americans and hundreds of Europeans who have gone to fight for various jihadist groups in Syria. Some of those Westerners’ identities are unknown and therefore they are less likely to draw the attention of intelligence officials when they purchase tickets and board a crowded jetliner heading for European and American cities.

    AQAP’s master bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, is believed to have built the underwear bomb that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to detonate on a passenger jet over Detroit in December 2009.

    Al-Asiri is also believed to have built two bombs hidden in printer cartridges placed on U.S.-bound cargo jets in 2010, and a body bomb that was acquired in a 2012 operation involving Saudi, British, and U.S. intelligence agencies.

    U.S. intelligence suggests al-Asiri and his confederates are constantly trying to tweak their bomb designs so that the explosives can get past airport security and also detonate successfully.

    The TSA ban on uncharged laptops and cellphones stemmed from information that al-Qaeda was working with the Khorasan group to pack those devices with hard-to-detect explosives, a U.S. official said.

    The post Syrian extremists may pose more direct threat to US than Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    meat

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    NATHAN HALVERSON: Li grows crops on a few acres of land about 300 miles south of Beijing. Farmers like Li produce the bulk of China’s food.

    LI: It has been the same way — wheat in the spring and corn in the fall. Always this way, it has never changed.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: But change is coming. Farmers like Li can no longer produce enough food to satisfy China’s growing demand. The country is in the midst of the largest agrarian reforms in world history.

    LESTER BROWN: China is roughly the same size as the United States. The cropland area is similar. The grain harvest is similar. The difference is, in the U.S. we have 300 million people and there, they have 1.4 billion people.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Lester Brown is a food economist and author of “Who Will Feed China?” He says China must now make the most of its limited farmland.

    LESTER BROWN: They’re feeling very vulnerable at this point. They know that they can’t feed themselves anymore.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: That fear has rattled the Chinese government. In 2011, it announced a five-year plan to radically overhaul China’s farm system and relocate 250 million farmers to cities.

    LESTER BROWN: Keep in mind that most of the leaders in Beijing today can remember the great famine in 1959, 61 when 37 million people starved to death.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Today the government is no longer worried about starvation, but satisfying an affluent and growing middle class that wants to eat like Americans. The government needs to keep people happy, says the former head of Goldman Sachs in China, Fred Hu, now an advisor to the Chinese government.

    FRED HU: The political system we have in China. We have a one-party state, and the party, the legitimacy depends on its ability to deliver economic prosperity and consumer satisfaction, if you will.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Hu, a Chinese citizen, says that what consumers want to eat, increasingly, is meat. And meat is so resource intensive, it puts even more pressure on China’s strained farms.

    FRED HU: It seems highly unlikely for China to be self-sufficient, so China will have to import a large quantity of foods from all over the world.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Last year’s takeover of Smithfield Foods – the largest-ever Chinese acquisition of an American company – was a significant part of the government’s effort to acquire resources from outside its borders. Smithfield CEO Larry Pope is now an executive with the Chinese firm.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: China consumes 50 percent of the world’s pork?

    LARRY POPE: Half of all the world’s pork is eaten in that one country and growing, and growing steadily. Every two or three years, China’s consumption demand grows by the whole size of the U.S. market.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Pope says Smithfield is already gearing up to ship more pork to China.

    LARRY POPE: In many respects, this is carrying out the government’s five-year plan, which is to improve the quality and the security of their food supply.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Chinese consumers view American brands, like Smithfield pork, as safer than domestic products. After years of food scandals, they have become wary of Chinese brands.

    FRED HU: The last couple of years, there has been a string of food safety accidents. Baby formula or meat products, so that has caused a big scare and a concern among Chinese consumers.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Officials are now taking a closer look at where the food is coming from.

    WANG: My name is Wang, I’m a pig farmer.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Wang is a typical hog farmer, raising about 100 pigs in a barn attached to his house. Two hundred million small farmers scattered across the countryside raise most of China’s livestock. The government knows food safety isn’t always a priority on these farms.

    WANG: Raising pigs is actually easy. They can eat whenever they want. You just throw the food in the pen. When they’re hungry, they will come to eat. If not, whatever.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: I noticed some open vials on a dirty table. Some farmers have been caught using illegal growth hormones. I asked Wang about the vials.

    WANG: A while ago, the pigs got sick and were coughing.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Keeping tainted pork off Chinese plates has been a struggle in China’s fragmented farming system. Scott Rozelle is an agricultural economist at Stanford.

    SCOTT ROZELLE: You have all these hogs coming from everywhere. They have hoof and mouth disease. They could have other pork diseases. You may have been giving the injections of hormones to make them grow faster and you don’t know what you’re getting. There’s absolutely no way you can retrace any food safety from there.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Modern facilities provide an easier way to monitor food safety, a key goal of the government’s five-year plan. China is pushing to replace family farms with large-scale operators, like Shuanghui, the company that bought Smithfield Foods.

    We received a tour of a Shuanghui plant from its president, Zhang Taixi.

    ZHANG TAIXI: The current technologies of this factory are a little outdated. The new factories we are building will be state-of-the-art.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: With the takeover, China’s largest meat processor acquired Smithfield’s food safety technology. Zhang told us the government is rapidly overhauling China’s meat industry, closing half of its slaughterhouses in the next year.

    ZHANG TAIXI: The number of slaughterhouses will be reduced from 20,000 to 10,000 by 2015 in order to meet the standards of food safety as well as environment protection.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: The rapid increase in meat production has resulted in devastating environmental damage, another issue rattling the Chinese government. It estimates that three-quarters of its waterways are polluted, and nearly half of that pollution comes from agriculture.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Here in China small pig farms like this still account for about 70 percent of production. Each farm will have maybe about 100 pigs. Each pig producing about 10 pounds of manure every day. The downside of these operations are that the manure has nowhere to go except for in the local culverts like this.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: All the agricultural waste makes its way down China’s rivers, into its lakes, and out into the ocean, leading to widespread and toxic algae blooms, affecting fisherman like Jin Tao.

    JIN TAO: It’s got algae. A lot of the water has algae. It’s scary. If you drink the water, you will get sick.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Shuanghui hopes that Smithfield’s modern waste management technology will help tackle pollution.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Shuanghui says it is committed to building more environmentally friendly facilities like the one behind me, where the 28,000 head of hogs that are raised every year have their manure running off into the lagoons, capturing it and preventing it from going into the nearby river.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: How China deals with all these issues — from food shortages to the environment — will have a global impact. The Smithfield purchase included hog farms in Poland, Mexico, and the United States.

    PATRICK WOODALL: Over the long term, more hogs will be produced in America, but that would be more hogs produced in order to ship pork to China.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Patrick Woodall is the research director at Food and Water Watch, an environmental advocacy group.

    PATRICK WOODALL: They get the meat, we get the manure. We export the best part of what rural America has to offer and we keep the waste.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Protecting the environment is one of the challenges facing the U.S. as it supplies food to China.

    LESTER BROWN: No other country has ever had a billion people moving up the food chain consuming more livestock products, grain-intensive livestock products.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: In addition to shipping more meat to China, American farmers are sending it more livestock feed than ever. Two years ago, China became the largest importer of U.S. farm products.

    JIM CALL: When you’re driving through the country right now, and you see these big fields out there, one out of four rows goes to China. So this is a huge market, and it’s a market that I think is going to get even bigger their middle class hasn’t stopped growing.

    NATHAN HALVERSON: Feeding China’s middle class, which is now larger than the population of the U.S., is a growing challenge for the entire world.

    The post How will China feed its growing middle class? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    picasso

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    STEPHEN FEE: The nearly century-old tapestry depicts resting bull fight spectators — and for 55 years adorned the wall of one of New York City’s most iconic Park Avenue lunch spots.

    And this September, after more than 12 hours of careful maneuvering, workers removed the final staples and screws holding the 19 by 20 foot curtain to the wall of the Four Seasons Restaurant.

    PEG BREEN, THE NEW YORK LANDMARKS CONSERVANCY: I was really concerned that by the time it got to the top, it might tear. And I’ve had many sleepless nights thinking of this curtain.

    STEPHEN FEE: Throughout the night, workers rolled the curtain from bottom to top using a 23-foot-long tube — then lowered it to steel rig, affording upside down views of two bullfight fans.

    Last fall, the building owners decided to move the canvas curtain, saying they needed to repair the wall behind it. But the curtain belongs to the New York Landmarks Conservancy. It was donated to the group by the building’s former owner. And the Conservancy sued to keep the work in place.

    The parties settled this June, with the building agreeing to front moving costs and the New York Historical Society agreeing to display the work permanently.

    PEG BREEN, THE NEW YORK LANDMARKS CONSERVANCY: By going to the Historical Society, it will continue to be New York’s Picasso. And thanks to all the fighting, it’s now New York’s best-known Picasso.

    STEPHEN FEE: The tapestry emerged unscathed, shrouded in bubble wrap. It now heads to Massachusetts for a bit of cleaning. The New York Historical Society hopes to raise the curtain once more early next summer.

    The post ‘New York’s Picasso’ removed from iconic eatery after legal dispute appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    MIAMI — Two years ago, immigration activist Gaby Pacheco got a call from Marco Rubio. The Florida senator wanted advice as he tried to develop a plan to help people like her: immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.

    Now, Pacheco is aghast that Rubio is taking a harder line on illegal immigration. The potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate has abandoned the sweeping bill he helped write and is calling for an end to the Obama administration program that lets Pacheco stay in America.

    PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifill sat down with Sen. Marco Rubio to talk about the latest developments for overhauling immigration reform. Video still by PBS NewsHour

    PBS NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill talked earlier this year to Sen. Marco Rubio about the latest developments for overhauling immigration reform. Video image by PBS NewsHour

    “It’s another Marco Rubio that I just don’t know,” she said.

    After the first-term senator saw his political standing fall among conservatives who balked at his immigration advocacy, Rubio is now focusing on border security – more in line with the GOP activists who wield great influence in how a White House nominee is picked.

    Last month, Rubio urged President Barack Obama not to take actions that would shield from deportation millions of people who entered the U.S. illegally. Congress, Rubio said, should first “make real progress on stemming the tide of illegal immigration.”

    Rubio’s aides say the senator always has stressed border security and that he insisted on tougher enforcement measures as a condition for his Senate vote last year. But immigrant advocates contend that in emphasizing only border security and dismissing his own bill, Rubio is effectively switching sides in the heated debate.

    The shift comes as potential 2016 rivals such as Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who voted against the overhaul that Rubio helped write, take hard-line stands on immigration.

    Rubio has begun visiting South Carolina and Iowa, early-voting states in the 2016 nominating calendar where immigration is an important test for White House hopefuls.

    Rubio was the only potential GOP candidate who helped write the immigration bill, which would strengthen border security while also offering a way to citizenship for many of the 11.5 million people who are in the U.S. illegally.

    Now, in a sign of how much the political climate has changed, the party committee that’s working to elect Republicans to the Senate is using that bill, which more than a dozen Republicans back, in ads to attack Democrats as pro-”amnesty.”

    The bill remains poisonous among some in the Republican base, and Rubio’s popularity has plummeted in public polls.

    But last month, Rubio won applause from conservatives in South Carolina when he scolded immigration activists for interrupting his speech at a Republican fundraiser. “You’re doing harm to your own cause,” he told the protesters, who identified themselves as immigrants brought illegally to the country as children. “You don’t have a right to illegally immigrate to the United States.”

    In a series of appearances on Fox News and conservative talk radio, Rubio has embraced GOP calls to bolster security and deploy the National Guard along the Mexican border to respond to the arrival of tens of thousands of Central Americans.

    On a recent tour through central Florida, an important swing-voting region with a fast-growing Latino population, Rubio told reporters in English and Spanish that his emphasis on border security is an acknowledgement that House conservatives do not support a comprehensive immigration bill.

    “The votes aren’t there,” Rubio said. “You’re going to have to deal with the border first. Otherwise we’re going to continue to beat our head against a wall here for another decade without any changes or any progress being made.”

    At the Orange County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day dinner, that argument resonated with many activists who propelled Rubio to the Senate four years ago.

    “Leaders need to step up, and he stepped up to the plate,” said Bertica Cabrera Morris, who chaired Rubio’s campaign along Florida’s Interstate 4 corridor, a crucial stretch of swing counties. “I think he did as much as he could.”

    But the tough talk also threatens to undercut Rubio’s credibility with Hispanic voters, a critical factor for the Cuban-American lawmaker in a country that has yet to elect a Latino president.

    Rubio has often felt the competing pressures from the Hispanic community and the conservative activists who elevated him to the national stage.

    As a state lawmaker, he supported legislation to protect field workers and to extend in-state tuition to college students who entered the U.S. illegally. But in 2010, as he surged toward a Senate seat as a tea party favorite, Rubio derided a path to citizenship as “code for amnesty.”

    Two years later, he softened his stance, floating a proposal to give legal status to children of some living in the U.S. without legal permission. “No one’s making the argument that these kids have a legal right to be here. They don’t have a legal claim,” he told The Miami Herald. “I would make the argument, however, that they have a claim on our conscience.”

    Rubio spent months meeting with Pacheco and other immigrant advocates. Obama pre-empted those efforts by announcing an executive action to temporarily defer deportations and grant work permits to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children.

    Rubio recently said he never formally introduced his own legislation because he could not figure out how to “address the challenges that those children are facing without creating that incentive for more people to come.”

    While the Obama program is only open to certain young immigrants who entered the country before June 15, 2007, Rubio argued that the administration should stop accepting new applicants to “prevent that sort of message and ambiguity from getting back to Central America or any other country.”

    When asked whether he supported a House bill that would effectively phase out Obama’s executive order, however, Rubio cited concerns about the “unintended consequences” for youths who have already come forward and obtained work permits.

    Nevertheless, he said, “I certainly think at some point that will have to end too.”

    The post Sen. Rubio takes harder line on illegal immigration appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    france

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    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Jewish tradition is strong here. This is one of many synagogues in France. Jews have been in this country for centuries — numbering 500 thousand today. France has the largest Jewish population in Europe.

    But for the first time in their living memory the Jews of this Synagogue in central Paris are talking about leaving France — fearing what they call a ‘new anti-Semitism.’

    Lohan Layane says he is afraid that anti-Israeli sentiment has morphed into a wider, more dangerous anti-Semitism.

    LOHAN LAYANE: If you have a David star over here, you can have a problem, or if you wear a kippa, some people come to you and say you are bad Jews, ‘we are going to kill you and put you in the sea.’ It’s frightening.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: In July, during Israel’s war with Hamas, the Synagogue was targeted by demonstrators who reportedly chanted ‘death to Jews’ as they attacked. These are images from inside the Synagogue — a show of force from police ended the protest.

    This is the result: Constant police protection. Jews have been coming here to worship at this synagogue for 50 years, but now they say they won’t come unless the police are outside.

    And it’s not just in Paris. In Sarcelles, a small community with a large Jewish population north of Paris, a peaceful pro-Palestinian march degenerated into violence against anything Jewish. Attacks like these have had a profound impact on the Jewish community.

    At the Jewish Agency in Paris there has been a surge in applications for assistance to emigrate to Israel. The agency estimates 5,000 will leave this year — the highest ever.

    The Melloul family of Paris is just days away from moving to Israel. Gabriel Melloul is a dermatologist and is giving up his successful practice.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: You think it’s going to get worse, not better?

    GABRIEL MELLOUL: Yes.

    YOEL MELLOUL: I’ve grown up with people from all different backgrounds. Its always been all right, but I feel it’s changing.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Sixteen-year old Judith is leaving many friends behind but she says it’s time.

    JUDITH MELLOUL: In Israel we are free to live our religion and to show that we are Jewish. In France we have to hide the fact we are Jewish.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: The situation has been deteriorating over the past few years. In 2012, three children and an adult were shot and killed at the Jewish School in Toulouse. And in May, killings at the Jewish Museum in Brussels by a shooter later identified as French raised the anxiety level higher.

    Anti-Semitism isn’t new in France. In 1894, Alfred Dreyfus, a French Jew in the French army, was falsely accused of passing military secrets to the Germans. He was jailed four years and eventually cleared, but not before ant-Semitism exploded. During World War II, the Vichy French government collaborated with the Nazis deporting over 75 thousand French Jews to concentration camps.

    MAREK HALTER: To listen today in France, people crying “death to the Jews” for a child of Warsaw ghetto, this was a shock.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Marek Halter is a respected Jewish author and peace activist. In spite of his shock, he is urging Jews who remember the 1930’s and 1940′s not to leave.

    MAREK HALTER: You are afraid, I understand. But it’s not the same. It’s not the same because at that time the governments were anti-Semitic. Today, you only have small minorities that are anti-Semitic.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Despite the rise of the far-right in France, there is agreement that the ‘new anti-Semitism’ people talk about is largely driven by radical Islam. Those killings in Toulouse and that Brussels attack both involved Muslim extremists.

    Yossi Gal is Israel’s Ambassador to France.

    YOSSI GAL: It is those extremists that guise this new anti-Semitism, this anti-Israel. But this anti-Zionism, anti-Israel is the new anti-Semitism here.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian feelings are strong among French Muslims. The majority come from North African countries, like Algeria and Morocco. Muslims account for as much as 10 percent of the French population.

    MAN IN THE STREET: Those demonstrations were to show support for our Palestinian brothers, because of the bombs and because they are being killed.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: But according to published reports, it is estimated that only a small percentage of France’s estimated 6.5  million Muslims harbor extremist views. And the people we spoke to in this predominantly Muslim area of Paris said there is a difference between being critical of Israel’s actions and being anti-Semitic.

    MAN IN CAFE: I have nothing against the Jewish community because everyone has their religion, but what’s happened in Gaza is appalling.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Easy to see then how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stoked tensions over the summer. That Paris suburb of Sarcelles is still trying to come to terms with what happened here. Sarcelles has always been defined by peaceful co-existence between Jews and Muslims, so what happened here shocked both communities.

    Sarcelles Mayor Francois Pupponi has been very outspoken against the violence.

    FRANCOIS PUPPONI: It’s a catastrophe for this country. If Jews leave it’s a sign of the republic’s failure. We have to fight this.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: In his role as peacemaker, Marek Halter delivered a letter to the vice president of Sarcelles Synagogue from the Muslim Association here offering solidarity and support, condemning the violence.

    MAREK HALTER: He’s saying it’s very good, but how many are there? The good people? He’s waiting for the big demonstration of thousands and thousands of Muslims in the street to show they are against the extremists.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: In the face of all of this France has taken steps to quell anti-Semitism. There are tough laws forbidding any kind of communication that might incite hatred, or discrimination.

    Governing Socialist party spokesperson Corrine Narassiguin:

    CORRINE NARASSIGUIN: The law on freedom of speech is very clear and very strict, so there are certain things you cannot say.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: The government wants to reassure the Jews of France that they are safe here, that there is some hope.

    So you’re prepared to wait it out, to stay?

    MAN IN SYNAGOGUE: I’ll see. For now, I think wait and see, wait and see because it’s not easy to leave. It’s very brave to leave.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: But four days after we met with the Melloul family, they went ahead with their plan to leave France for good.

    SONIA MELLOUL: I am very happy to leave. No, I’m not sad, but there is something in my heart. It’s difficult.

    The post A new anti-Semitism? Why thousands of Jewish citizens are leaving France appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Baghdad Operations Command center in Iraq, where the Iraqi army plans offensives against the Islamic State group. While the U.S. has helped Iraq push back the extremists, gathering support from other nations has been difficult. Photo by Scott Nelson for the Washington Post

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: For more about the war on the Islamic State, we’re joined now by Austin Long, he’s a professor at Columbia University’s School of International Public Affairs — previously he was an advisor to the multinational force in Iraq.

    There seems to be in public opinion polls support for airstrikes but not for ground troops and that seems to be the plan the president is following at the moment. How effective can airstrikes be without intelligence on the ground that can verify what’s happening and gather more intelligence on the ground to verify what’s happening and gather more intelligence on whether you’re going to do the right thing or not.

    AUSTIN LONG: It’s very difficult to conduct effective airstrikes without some ground presence. Fortunately, at least in Iraq, the U.S. has some ground presence in the form of advisors, there’s probably also intelligence officers, thing like that.

    And you can also collect a lot of intelligence with assets of drones. There can be some effectiveness, but the big question is who are going to be the boots on the ground that take the territory that airstrikes sort of open up opportunities to seize.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: That record has been mixed at best when it comes to Iraqi forces staying through the fight.

    AUSTIN LONG: Absolutely. The Iraqi security forces particularly are very mixed. Their special operations units are actually quite effective and have fought very well within the limitations that they have. But there is only a few thousand of them.

    The vast bulk of the Iraqi military suffers from a lot of weaknesses and the Kurdish Peshmerga, who have fought better, still have their own weaknesses as well. There are real questions as to who’s going to be the effective boots on the ground.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So ISIL, ISIS, the Islamic State, they still control major cities. How do you from the air try and clear some of those cities when these guys can go just back into the civilian population?

    AUSTIN LONG: It’s very challenging. Even with the United States having tens of thousands of troops in Iraq at the height of the surge, we weren’t able to completely eliminate al-Qaeda in Iraq, which is sort of the predecessor of the Islamic State.

    They hung on and had a presence in Mosel throughout the entire time the U.S. was there – even if it was a much lower-level presence. It’s very challenging to clear that kind of presence out.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: One of the longer term concerns is the training that we would provide, or especially the equipment that we would provide in this fight. I mean sometimes the equipment is used against us – a backlash when it falls into the wrong hands. How do we protect against that?

    AUSTIN LONG: It’s extremely challenging. People talk about training up the Iraqi security forces. We had a big endeavor to do that for years in Iraq and yet we saw the collapse in Mosel and the seizure of a lot of equipment.

    The key is to build up the capabilities of the organization before you just dump a lot of weapons on it. And that’s also, I think, a risk across the border in Syria with trying to arm Syrian rebels is you have the possibility that without building up the organization, you dump weapons on them, the Islamic State can just take them from them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Speaking of Syria, when you go across that border, who is left to be the ally there? Because it seems that they’ve been on the one hand degraded by president Bashar al-Assad’s forces, on the other hand they’ve been degraded by ISIL.

    AUSTIN LONG: Yeah. There’s really just a fragmented selection of militias there that will have to be rebuilt into something that resembles an army.

    So whatever the challenges in Iraq are in terms of providing support to potential local ground forces, I think the challenge is much greater in Syria.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s talk about timeline here, I mean the president said let’s brace ourselves for a long-term engagement. How long is this going to take?

    AUSTIN LONG: It’s going to take a very long time. I think years would be pretty generous. Now, years would be to completely defeat the group. I think you can make real progress in taking some of these key cities back in a much shorter timeline, but it’s still not going to be days or weeks. It’s going to be probably months to years.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And that’s in both Iraq and Syria?

    AUSTIN LONG: I think Syria even more challenging. I mean, the Islamic State is much stronger in most of the rebel groups there. Rebuilding them into something like a functioning army, I think, will take a very long time.

    You can launch strikes in Syria without rebuilding those forces, but then you’re at least indirectly going to benefit president Assad’s regime.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Austin Long from Columbia University’s School of International Public Affairs, thanks so much.

    AUSTIN LONG: Thank you for having me.

    The post How effective will airstrikes be against the Islamic State? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The owner of a wedding photo lost during the Sept. 11 attacks was identified thanks to a Boston woman who has been posting the image online for years.

    Elizabeth Stringer Keefe held on to the wedding photo after a friend found it buried in the rubble at the World Trade Center site.

    After more than 73,000 re-tweets on Twitter, Keefe’s 13-year search finally came to an end when Fred Mahe, the owner of the photo, responded to her tweet on Friday.

    Mahe’s initial response got lost in Keefe’s Twitter feed and the two only connected after he sent her a message on the networking site LinkedIn, Keefe said in a phone interview with PBS NewsHour Weekend.

    The photo had been pinned on Mahe’s cubicle wall on the 77th floor of the second World Trade Center tower, according to ABC News.

    Keefe has posted the image on different blog sites for years, but “it never caught on” until now, she said.

    The two are set to meet this week in New York, where Keefe will return the photo to Mahe, Keefe said.

    “It was extremely overwhelming,” she said. “It’s emotional, it’s joyful, it’s happy.”

    The post After 13 years, woman finds owner of wedding photo buried at WTC site appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Islamic State militants released a video on Saturday which purports to show the beheading of British aid worker David Cawthorne Haines, the Associated Press reports.

     

    Haines, a 44-year-old from Perth in Scotland, was kidnapped last year while working for the French agency ACTED in Syria.

     

    British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted that Haines’ murder is an “act of pure evil.”

    “We will do everything in our power to hunt down these murderers and ensure they face justice, however long it takes,” Cameron tweeted.

    According to the New York Times, the video shows Haines reading from a script in which he blames British leaders for his death.

    Political correspondent for the BBC Tim Reid tweeted that the Foreign Office is working urgently to verify the video’s authenticity.

     

    An online video showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff was circulated earlier this month. In August, James Foley, a freelance journalist who contributed to the GlobalPost, NBC News and the PBS NewsHour was also killed by the Islamic State group. The video showing Foley’s beheading was posted by militants on Aug. 19.

    After the second video depicting Sotloff’s execution was released, President Barack Obama vowed the U.S. would not forget the “terrible crime against these two fine young men.”

    “We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists,” Obama said. “And those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.”

    The post Video purports to show beheading of British aid worker by Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    bordersecurity

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The Department of Homeland Security is contemplating the most significant restructuring since it was created after the September 11th attacks, in order to better secure the border with Mexico. Devlin Barrett of The Wall Street Journal wrote about it on Thursday, and he join us now from Washington.

    So, what’s the stake here? I mean, the recent crisis, if you will, with a bunch of young migrants crossing the border, shed some light on the fact that there are at least two big agencies, the Custom and Border Protection folks and the Immigration and Custom Enforcement folks, all tackling this.

    DEVLIN BARRETT: Right. And what speaks to is really two forces play here. One is immediate crisis of all the children crossing, and they are starting to see some improvements, some, some reductions in the numbers there.

    But there is the broader issue of what pretty much both sides agree is kind of a broken immigration system in this country, and the border is part of that. And so you have these two forces, both the long-term structural problems that people feel exist, and the short-term immediate problems of so many children crossing the border.

    And they are both pushing the Department of Homeland Security to consider some pretty significant changes in how they organize and how they police that border.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So how would it change?

    DEVLIN BARRETT: Well, what they are talking about doing is creating a Southern command, essentially taking a military model of leadership and structure, and combining these two agencies operationally for a lot of law enforcement work.

    So that you essentially have a more streamlined chain of command and you have more coordination between these two groups of people, who both have a big part in this, but don’t always work in the same room together.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So if you didn’t merge the two agencies and had a chain of command, would you have two chains of command and essentially codify the turf battles?

    DEVLIN BARRETT: Right. Well, that’s the concern that if you — one of the concerns expressed by some of the folks I talked to is if you create this military style chain of command, you could end up with actually two reporting chains — two, two sets of bosses essentially, and how will that work.

    Now, the people that think this is a good idea say that “look, the military has shown you can do that, and do it effectively and efficiently.” There is obviously some skepticism in some quarters; the one thing that people do say is that there — they have a manpower, this is a constant manpower challenge on the border.

    And this is one of the ways they are considering, one of the things they have on their drawing board, as they try and come up ways to address that manpower issue.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Are there significant inefficiencies now? Or the agencies aren’t working together as best they could?

    DEVLIN BARRETT: You know, there’s been a disagreement about that. What this is really about is the notion of policing the border and going after sort of the large smuggling organizations, both human smuggling and drug smuggling.

    And the view some people believe that if you actually got these guys doing more joint operations together, like the military often does in its Southern command structure, that you will actually do bigger cases, get, get better results.

    You know, there are skeptics who say we are already doing this work, you know, moving the chairs around creating a new title doesn’t necessarily fix, you know, the challenge as we have.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: This is on the drawing board phase now. How long before something like this could get implemented or proposed to Congress, work its way through?

    DEVLIN BARRETT: You know, it’s a tricky thing. They’re talking to Congress in little bits and pieces about this. It sounds as if no one is gonna try and put anything forward before the election — I think that’s just probably too difficult.

    And I think frankly people want to see what the election results are and if that points away towards some sort of, you know, agreement as to something you can do on border security. Politically, you know, the Republicans have been arguing for a while that you should do any major immigration reform without doing border security first.

    This could become a piece of that discussion, but I’d be surprised if that discussion happens before the election.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Alright, Devlin Barrett of The Wall Street Journal joining us from Washington, thanks so much.

    DEVLIN BARRETT: Thank you.

    The post To better secure US border with Mexico, DHS considers significant restructuring appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Saturday condemned as a “barbaric murder” the slaying of British aid worker David Haines by Islamic State extremists.

    Haines was abducted last year in Syria, and extremists released a video on Saturday showing his beheading.

    In a statement issued Saturday night, Obama said the hearts of Americans go out to Haines’ family and the people of the United Kingdom.

    “The United States stands shoulder to shoulder tonight with our close friend and ally in grief and resolve,” Obama said.

    “We will work with the United Kingdom and a broad coalition of nations from the region and around the world to bring the perpetrators of this outrageous act to justice, and to degrade and destroy this threat to the people of our countries, the region and the world,” he said.

    In his statement, Obama repeated the pledge he made Wednesday night in a nationally televised address in which he laid out a strategy to respond to the threat from the Islamic State group, which is referred to at times as ISIL. “Our objective is clear,” he told the nation earlier this week. “We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”

    The U.S. began attacking the extremist group with airstrikes in Iraq last month. Since then, the extremists have beheaded two American journalists held captive in Syria, James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

    As part of the effort against the Islamic State group, Secretary of State John Kerry formally announced Saturday that retired Marine Gen. John Allen was joining the State Department as a special presidential envoy to coordinate the international coalition. Allen worked with international allies as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan from 2011-2013.

    The post Obama condemns Islamic State group killing of British aid worker appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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