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

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    Watch President Obama speak on Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation.
    U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will be stepping down from his position at the Justice Department.

    President Barack Obama made the announcement at a press conference at the White House on Thursday afternoon.

    A White House official has announced that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will resign Thursday. Photo by Alex Wong and Getty Images

    A White House official has announced that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will resign Thursday. Photo by Alex Wong and Getty Images

    Holder, the nation’s first black attorney general, has handled several high-profile cases, most recently launching a full-scale investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri police department after the shooting of an unarmed man. He also was active in civil rights and immigration during his six-year tenure.

    On July 31, Holder sat down with Gwen Ifill to discuss immigration, death penalty reforms and voting rights in an exclusive interview:

    Holder, 63, has served as the fourth longest attorney general in history.

    His term was marked with some controversy, especially for comments he made in 2009, calling America a “nation of cowards” when discussing race. Lawmakers also lashed out at his decision to try the 9/11 plotters in New York City. Instead, the terror suspects’ cases were taken up by a military court at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba.

    We will have more about Holder’s departure on Thursday’s broadcast.

    The post Eric Holder to resign as U.S. attorney general appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy from 2011. Photo by Flickr user Diego Crespo

    File photo of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy from 2011. On Tuesday, Rajoy announced that the Spanish government was abandoning a controversial bill that would have outlawed nearly all abortion procedures in Spain. Photo by Flickr user Diego Crespo

    The Spanish government has abandoned a bill that would have outlawed nearly all abortion procedures in Spain, one that a wide majority of the country opposed. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced the news at a press conference on Tuesday.

    Abortion has been legal in Spain since 1985. As of 2010, under José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s socialist government, the law allowed termination of pregnancies up to 14 weeks along, or up to 22 weeks along in cases of fetal abnormalities or danger to the mother’s life.

    The conservative People’s Party government approved a draft bill in December that would have allowed abortion only if the pregnancy had resulted from a rape that was reported to the police, or if two physicians swore that the fetus would put the mother’s life at risk.

    The law also would have required women to meet with government social workers and undergo a one-week “reflecting” period to consider alternatives to abortion, according to Newsweek. It also would have eliminated a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy based on fetal abnormality.

    The party, which later won a majority in the government in 2011, had promised during campaigning to toughen Spain’s abortion laws, NPR reported.

    Critics of the law said it would have put Spanish women at risk by driving them to perform the procedure without a doctor. France’s Social Affairs Minister Marisol Touraine said it would “take women back to the Stone Age,” according to Global Post.

    If the law had passed, it would have been one of the toughest abortion restrictions in Europe. Malta is the only European country that currently has a ban on abortion. Polls showed that a large majority of Spaniards opposed the bill–80 percent of the population, included 50 percent of those who identified as Roman Catholic, said they were against the law.

    Rajoy said that he made the right decision in abandoning the law.

    “As president of the government I have taken the most sensible decision,” Rajoy said at the press conference. “We can’t have a law that will be changed when another government comes in.”

    Alberto Ruiz Gallardón, the Spanish Justice Minister who had strongly supported the law, resigned after Rajoy announced the decision.

    The post Spain abandons law that would have banned abortion appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Irish 16-year-olds Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy-Thow and Emer Hickey won Google’s 2014 Science Fair with their project “Combating the Global Food Crisis: Diazotroph Bacteria as a cereal crop growth promoter.”

    Three 16-year-old high school girls hailing from Ireland claimed the top prize for Google’s 2014 Science Fair with a project that aims to solve the food crisis — with the help of bacteria.

    The teenagers, Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy-Thow and Emer Hickey, found that by infecting crops with a certain type of bacteria, the plants would grow more quickly and therefore be able to yield more food. The bacteria, known as rhizobia, prove beneficial to the plants by converting nitrogen in the air into ammonia, which aids in the plants’ development.

    After 11 months testing more than 10,000 seeds, the three found that exposing the seeds to the bacteria halved the time for the plants’ germination, or process in which the plant grows from the seed.

    From the Google Science Fair page, the young microbiologists described their project:

    We investigated the use of diazotroph bacteria as a cereal crop germination and growth aid. Using naturally occurring Rhizobium strains of the Diazotroph bacteria family, we carried out an extensive study of their impact on the germination rate and subsequent growth of the cereal crops wheat, oats and barley. Detailed statistical analysis of our results indicated that these bacterial strains accelerated crop germination by up to 50%, and increased barley yields by 74%. Such a cereal crop performance improvement could significantly assist combatting the growing global food poverty challenge and reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture by reducing fertilizer use.

    Taking the top prize from the science fair awarded each of the girls, according to Google, “a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands with National Geographic Expeditions, an incredible experience at the Virgin Galactic Spaceport and $50,000 in scholarship funding.”

    The post Irish teens win Google science fair with bacteria-enhanced plant growth appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Watch an online exclusive from senior correspondent Jeffrey Brown’s interview with Darrell West, author of the new book, “Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust.”

    Darrell West, the vice president and director of Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, has a new book that examines the increasing political activism of very rich donors. PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown sat down with West this week to discuss the book, “Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust.”

    In a conversation that will air on tonight’s NewsHour, West talked about well-known billionaires, such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Charles and David Koch, who spend large amounts of money on campaign ads and direct donations to candidates.

    It’s not just an American phenomenon, he said, in the interview above, an online exclusive. He points to Italy, for example, where Silvio Berlusconi, one of the world’s richest people, funneled huge amounts of his own money into his campaigns.

    Tune in to tonight’s broadcast of the PBS NewsHour for the rest of Jeffrey’s interview with Darrell West. You can watch on our Ustream Channel at 6 p.m. EDT or check your local listings.

    The post Billionaires’ influence on politics not just an American phenomenon appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    billionaires

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    GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight: How has big money come to dominate politics? And who is writing the checks? It can be hard to tell.

    For instance, The New York Times discovered a glitch in the website run by the tax-exempt wing of the Republican Governors Association that revealed the names of prominent corporate donors. Large political contributions are perfectly legal, and both parties solicit them. But corporate donors’ identities are usually kept secret.

    In this book conversation, Jeffrey Brown looks at a group of very rich donors who’s names are already well-known.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The numbers keep growing and the dollars keep flowing. This midterm election has already seen more spending by outside interest groups than any in history, some $230 million and counting, more, in fact, than any election, other than the last one for the presidency in 2012.

    Under campaign finance laws, much of this funding is not required to be disclosed, but a lot of it comes from a relatively small number of the very wealthiest Americans.

    Darrell West, the director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, writes of their influence on politics in his new book, “Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust.”
    And welcome to you.

    DARRELL WEST, Brookings Institution: Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The argument first is that billionaires and their money are big players in politics, right? How big and how much influence?

    DARRELL WEST: Very big.

    The Koch brothers are estimated to be spending $125 million just on this election year, much of it focused on those key Senate races, but then liberal and moderate billionaires also are amping up their resources. Michael Bloomberg has put $50 million into fighting the NRA and gun violence. Tom Steyer is very concerned about climate change. He’s spending $50 million of his own money.

    So, 2014 is shaping up as the battle of the billionaires.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You write and you document that today we’re seeing people, these people, pioneer new activist models. What exactly does that mean? How do they use — how are they using their money in new ways?

    DARRELL WEST: Well, the old model was just buying ads and trying the influence the election.

    And we’re certainly seeing a lot of that, especially in those close Senate races. But we’re also seeing a lot of issue advocacy, not just at the national level, but billionaires are contesting state referenda all across the country. They’re forming nonprofit organizations and having them try and influence the process. And much of that influence takes place in secret.

    And then a number of them have foundations who are very politically active. So we’re seeing a much greater increase in types of tactics that are being used this year.

    JEFFREY BROWN: One pushback would be, yes, there’s a lot of money, but we see an Eric Cantor lose, right, in a primary to a fellow who nobody ever heard of and didn’t have much money. Money doesn’t buy every race, in that kind of sense.

    DARRELL WEST: That’s absolutely true.

    And billionaires have a mix of successes and failures in terms of their political activities. You know, Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg and Rupert Murdoch have been trying to push immigration reform. They have gotten nowhere on this. Bloomberg is trying to get Congress to adapt some measures in terms of fighting gun violence. That has not been successful.

    But we’re seeing billionaires really spend a lot of money to try and influence public discourse. In many cases, they’re setting the terms of the debate. And certainly at the state level, where you often have one-sided types of campaigns, they have been very successful in a number of areas.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Another question that I had looking at this was, hasn’t it arguably been worse in the past? I was thinking, just this summer, I was reading a book about the American West in the early 20th century, where the timber industry, you know, had so much control over what was happening, the oil, wealthy oil magnates of the time, power in politics through their money.

    DARRELL WEST: Well, this is certainly not the first time wealthy interests have been influential. When you think about the Carnegies, the Rockefellers, the other barons of 100 years ago, they were very influential and in some cases dictated public policy.

    But, after Watergate, we made a serious effort to clean up the political process. There were caps on spending. People had to disclose the sources of their contributions, but over the last 30 years, there have been gaping loopholes in these rules.

    And so now we have essentially returned to the pre-Watergate era of big money and great secrecy. And this is also taking place at a time when the news media are much weaker. And so the oversight organizations are having a difficult time keeping track of all the money.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You write there are, of course, the ideological splits that you were just referring to earlier.

    But you also find, interestingly, a lot of places where it looks as though the super wealthy as a group are sort of coherent — cohere and have different views than the majority of many Americans.

    DARRELL WEST: We certainly have liberal billionaires, conservative billionaires and even libertarian ones.

    But the one issue that united a lot of these people was their opposition to raising taxes on the wealthy. Obama in 2012 actually had a rough time getting liberal billionaires to support him, in part because some of these people didn’t like his rhetoric on raising taxes on the wealthy. So there are sometimes class interests that trump ideology.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The classic idea of the American dream is that Americans believe that we can all become billionaires, and, therefore, do not envy the very rich.

    Do you see enough movement, public attitude in what’s going on that there might — that that might change, that there might in fact be an anger and a desire to do something?

    DARRELL WEST: There certainly is a lot of anger among the general public, but the public can’t decide whether they should be angry at big government or big money and corporations and the billionaires who are behind them.

    And so that division diffuses the public anger. It’s kind of divide and conquer. And so we often end up with public policies that don’t promote opportunity in terms of education. I’m particularly sensitive to this because I grew up in a small town in Ohio, was raised on a dairy farm.

    But through education, I had a lot of opportunities. I want to make sure the next generation has the same type of opportunity that I had.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So what do you want to see happen with campaign spending laws? What do you think needs to be done?

    DARRELL WEST: Well, the biggest thing is, we really need to improve the transparency of the process.

    I don’t really have that big of a problem with all the money that’s coming into the political process. It’s the secrecy that is most toxic. And so we need to improve campaign disclosure. In the digital era, we should have daily disclosure of campaign contributions, instead of the quarterly numbers that we see today. There are technology solutions that can improve the level of information that’s available to the average voter.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right. We’re going to continue this discussion online.

    For now, the book is “Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust.”

    Darrell West, thank you very much.

    DARRELL WEST: Thank you.

    The post Are billionaires dictating American political debate? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    OCEAN SANCTUARY_Monitor 01

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: A region of the Pacific Ocean three times the size of California will now be off-limits to commercial activity. President Obama signed an order today expanding protection for what scientists say is one of the most pristine remaining ocean ecosystems.

    Hari Sreenivasan has more.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The Pacific Remote Islands Marine Preserve is farther from human settlement than any other U.S. territory. The president’s expansion of the reserve today will close 490,000 square miles of largely undisturbed ocean to commercial fishing and underwater mining.

    The area is home to thriving colonies of rare and endangered ocean life, including fish, sea turtles, and coral reefs.

    Joining me now to talk about the significance of today’s announcement is Elliott Norse. He is founder and chief scientist of the Marine Conservation Institute.

    Thanks for joining us.

    So, first off, what is in these waters?

    ELLIOTT NORSE, Marine Conservation Institute: These waters are filled with marine life.

    They have extraordinary coral reefs, extraordinary because they are among the most pristine coral reefs on earth. They still have their big sharks. Waters further from shore have large predators, including tunas of several species. They abound with seabirds, sea turtles. There’s a species of whale there that was discovered within the waters of that monument just a relatively few years ago. It’s full of life.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The area was deemed a monument by President George W. Bush. Why the need to expand it?

    ELLIOTT NORSE: Well, President Bush did something really visionary in 2009 by designating it as Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, but I don’t think all of the scientific information was taken into account at that point.

    We know now that the seabirds that feed their chicks in their nests on the islands forage out to a distance in some cases of several hundred miles, and they need to find concentrations of food so they can go back and feed their babies.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So didn’t President Obama want more of the area initially in their first proposals to be preserved? There were, I think, a couple areas that could have been expanded further today, but were not.

    ELLIOTT NORSE: Well, I don’t know what President Obama wanted. He certainly said that he was interested in expanding the boundaries of the whole Marine National Monument, but on the other hand, he got a lot of pushback from anti-environmental forces that said that they wanted these — they didn’t want protection of this area. They wanted it open to commercial fishing for tunas.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So about the concerns that the commercial fishermen or fisherwomen, people who fish had, they said that there’s already the Endangered Species Act. There’s the Marine Mammals Act. What does this kind of a preservation actually do to help these fish?

    ELLIOTT NORSE: What it means is that these fish won’t be killed within the boundaries of Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. And that’s not only important for the fishes, like tunas, but it’s also important for the seabirds, because these birds depend on things like tunas to drive the little fish they eat up to the surface, where the seabirds can get them, catch them and bring them home to their babies.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So does this also — this also prohibits drilling and commercial mining. Are those sorts of activities happening in this area now?

    ELLIOTT NORSE: No, they’re not.

    And I don’t know if oil or gas drilling will ever be an issue in these places, but deep-sea mining is a real threat to marine life and might have happened there, but for President Bush’s and now, even more, President Obama’s visionary actions.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You mentioned commercial fishing. I just wanted to come back to that for a second, because people who catch fish go where the fish are. How do you prevent them from going into these waters? How do you enforce this new boundary? We asked even the president of Kiribati recently, who had done something similar near the Phoenix Islands.

    So, how do you do the enforcement here even after these new boundaries are set?

    ELLIOTT NORSE: Well, that’s an important question.

    And I think what we need to know is that the United States has means at its disposal to make sure that fishing is not going to be happening. And if the United States decides to prevent fishing, we will watch, as a people, and make sure that there’s no commercial fishing going on there.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And what sort of a signal does this send to the rest of the world?

    ELLIOTT NORSE: I love the signal it sends, because the United States now is — has protected more of its waters than just about any other nation.

    And there are other great nations, Canada, France, Russia, China, that have not done nearly as much. This sends a signal to nations large and small that our oceans are important, that we need to protect marine life, and we need to act now for future generations, as well as our own.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: It seems like there’s also a political element to this, the president accomplishing this through an executive order. On the one hand, it seems it’s very difficult to get anything through Washington these days. And this is sort of an act of bipartisanship, in that he’s expanding President Bush’s initiative.

    ELLIOTT NORSE: This is true.

    Congress obviously is broken in many ways. It hasn’t been working. And so presidents since Teddy Roosevelt in 1906 have had the opportunity to protect places that Congress didn’t lead on. I am proud to have helped President George W. Bush do this in 2009, along with the organization that I then headed and now I’m part of, and I am proud that President Obama has dramatically expanded protections in this area.

    If Congress doesn’t do its job, thank goodness our presidents can.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Elliott Norse from the Marine Conservation Institute, thanks so much.

    ELLIOTT NORSE: Pleasure to talk with you.

    The post U.S. expands pristine national monument in the middle of the Pacific appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    SAVING LIVES ems training

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    GWEN IFILL: The police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last month cast a harsh spotlight on how a majority black city came to have so few black law enforcement officers. In fact, in many communities around the country, police, fire and paramedic services remain predominantly white, no matter what the communities they protect look like.

    In Oakland, California, a new effort is under way to change those statistics, and give young men of color new career opportunities.

    Sarah Varney of Kaiser Health News collaborated with the NewsHour on this report.

    SARAH VARNEY, Kaiser Health News: Twenty-two-year-old Dexter Harris, who lives with his aunt near Oakland, California, is getting ready for a 12-hour shift as an emergency medical technician, or EMT, an entry-level job in the paramedic field.

    Harris works full-time and supports himself and some of his family members. But when he was younger, his life was headed in a very different direction.

    DEXTER HARRIS: I just thought I could just run around in the streets and make a living off that. If you grew up like me, my house — home was kind of rocky. You didn’t have somebody telling you, oh, you can be whatever you want to be. You could be a doctor. You could be a lawyer. So you kind of start just looking up to the wrong people.

    SARAH VARNEY: Harris spent nine months in a juvenile detention center when he was 17, a common experience for many young men of color in Alameda County, which includes Oakland.

    Here, black and Latino youth account for nearly 90 percent of those detained in juvenile hall. And school dropout and unemployment rates for that population are among the highest in the country. But while he was in juvenile hall, Harris’ life took a dramatic turn when he was recruited for a new county program that not only trained him how to be an EMT, but profoundly altered what he thought he could do with his life.

    WOMAN: Come on.

    MAN: One, two, three, four, five, six.

    SARAH VARNEY: The program is called EMS Corps. And on a recent afternoon, 25 students in the current class were practicing basic life support skills under the watchful eye of instructor Maria Garcina (ph).

    MAN: Chest rise and falls.

    WOMAN: So go through. Start with verbal.

    MAN: Hello, ma’am, sir. I’m an EMT. I’m here to help you.

    SARAH VARNEY: It’s an intensive five-month EMT certification course for men between the ages 18 and 26 who have completed high school or earned their GED.

    MAN: I’m going to put it in, facing the roof of the mouth.

    (CROSSTALK)

    MAN: Turn it 180 degrees.

    SARAH VARNEY: The program seeks out students with disadvantaged backgrounds. Most are African-American or Latino. The students commit to 40 hours of training a week. They get a lot of hands-on practice, like learning how to operate ambulance equipment.

    MAN: What’s the oxygen concentration on the non-rebreather mask?

    MAN: Ninety percent.

    MAN: All right. And how many liters per minute would that be?

    (CROSSTALK)

    MAN: Fifteen.

    MAN: Ten, 15. Good.

    SARAH VARNEY: But they also have to pass rigorous anatomy tests.

    WOMAN: So, what happens with oxygen and carbon dioxide at the level of the…

    CLASS: Diffusion.

    WOMAN: Diffusion. What does that oxygen molecule diffuse into?

    MAN: Blood tissue.

    MAN: Pulmonary capillary.

    WOMAN: Pulmonary capillary.

    MICHAEL GIBSON, Director, EMS Corps: We have worked with about 90 young men so far. And out of the 90 young men, about — I want to say almost 60 or so are certified EMTs and working in the field.

    SARAH VARNEY: Michael Gibson is the director of EMS Corps. He says his own experience spending time in and out of juvenile hall helps him understand the challenges these young men face.

    MICHAEL GIBSON: They can’t get a job because of their juvenile record or they do not have enough work experience. Then they’re right back into the revolving door of incarceration. So, in our program, we wanted to be able to address those needs, to eliminate the excuses.

    You need a way to get here. Our offices are down the street from the BART station. Here’s a BART ticket. You’re hungry, here’s a $20 Safeway gift card. There’s a $10 Subway gift card. Now you can eat.

    SARAH VARNEY: Gibson says those small donations make a big difference. But what really makes EMS Corps stand out from other youth vocational programs is that students are paid to attend, up to $1,000 a month, and the education they receive goes way beyond CPR.

    VALERIE STREET, Life Coach, EMS Corps: All right. Stand for the mantra.

    CLASS: We have the courage to walk in chaos while others are running away.

    SARAH VARNEY: Every week students attend group counseling and leadership training classes. Nearly all have suffered some trauma in their lives, including drug-addicted parents and gun violence.

    Valerie Street, the Corps’ executive life coach, pushes the men not to be victims of their troubled lives, but instead to set goals.

    VALERIE STREET: We are completing the road map the manhood.

    SARAH VARNEY: On the day we visited, five weeks into the five-month program, Street was giving a lesson about persistence.

    VALERIE STREET: We don’t want to be hit coming up the field. But, see, that’s where the richness is, getting knocked down and coming back up, and knowing that you’re making five yards, five yards, five yards.

    Where is the dreaming? Where is the power of what I can become. It doesn’t exist in our communities, in our schools or anywhere else. They now know who they are and what they can do. Five weeks of coaching puts them in that status. That’s powerful, powerful. It’s the power of the mind.

    SARAH VARNEY: The men say no one expected much from them before, but now people in their own neighborhoods rely on them during an emergency.

    MAN: I’m happy I’m on the path that I’m on, because if it wasn’t for this program, I would probably be stuck in a box with a cell mate.

    MAN: I know now that it doesn’t matter where I have come from, as long as I’m the one to make the change in my family.

    SARAH VARNEY: Since the Corps began three years ago, 95 percent of those enrolled have graduated. It costs about $800,000 a year, paid for by local sales tax revenue and public health funds. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which has also been a NewsHour funder, provides additional revenue.

    MAN: Jumping jacks, go.

    CLASS: One, two, three.

    SARAH VARNEY: Those who finish their rigorous workouts and medical training still have to take a national test to become licensed EMTs. The Corps’ success rate is high. Three out of four pass the exam. And while the majority find EMT jobs, others enter firefighting, nursing or community college.

    Getting the men employed soon after they graduate in the communities they come from is a big priority, says Mike Gibson.

    MICHAEL GIBSON: When you look at the stats on the EMS work force, where it’s over 70-plus percent white here in Alameda County, then that’s not equity, right? There’s a disproportionate number of young men of color being left out.

    SARAH VARNEY: But he says, since program graduates have started working locally as EMTs and other health professionals, that’s starting to change.

    MICHAEL GIBSON: Public agencies are now looking at the community in a different light, because now once they see the young men from our program, they work — it breaks down the stereotypes that some folks may have had towards young men of color, and as well as what young men of color have toward public agencies.

    SARAH VARNEY: One of the companies where several EMS Corps graduates have landed, including Dexter Harris, is Paramedics Plus, which provides ambulance services in Alameda County. New EMTs can earn up to $49,000 a year, plus prize benefits like health insurance. The county requires Paramedics Plus to seek out job candidates from impoverished neighborhoods.

    But hiring graduates from EMS Corps isn’t a benevolent act. It improves customer service, says chief operating officer Dale Feldhauser.

    DALE FELDHAUSER, Paramedics Plus: Being part of the community they serve, it’s helpful. It puts the patient more at ease. It makes the experience significantly less traumatic on the patient, which I think has huge value.

    DEXTER HARRIS: What hospital do you normally go to?

    WOMAN: Summit.

    DEXTER HARRIS: Summit Hospital?

    SARAH VARNEY: For his part, Mr. Harris says his new career and the program have changed him in fundamental ways.

    DEXTER HARRIS: Just knowing that you’re helping people makes you feel good. Doing it 12 hours a day habitually, you know you’re going to change. You’re going to want to help people on and off the job.

    SARAH VARNEY: Harris is doing just that now. He’s a volunteer EMT teacher at Oakland’s Juvenile Hall, and he’s looking the take next step to become a paramedic.

    The post Lifesaving training changes outlook for young men in Oakland appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    LIBERIA-HEALTH-EBOLA-WAFRICA

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: For a closer look at recent calls for increased urgency in addressing the Ebola outbreak and at conditions on the ground in West Africa, we turn to Dr. Joanne Liu. She is president of Doctors Without Borders, an organization at the forefront of the effort to contain the epidemic.

    Dr. Liu, welcome.

    First of all, I have to say the number that jumped out at me today, this morning, was that 18 percent of the patients in Liberia infected with Ebola, only 18 percent of them are in hospitals or places where they can be quarantined. If that’s the case, how do you hope to get control of this?

    DR. JOANNE LIU, President, Doctors Without Borders: Well, we do hope if this can happen, only through mobilization and hands on in the field.

    That’s the reason why, on September 2, in my new U.N. remark, I have asked for people to jump in and come with assets in terms of big work force trained, or ably trained, with chain of command who can work in isolation center.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we heard President Obama, and we referred to this last week — he said the U.S. military, he said, is going to build 17 new treatment centers in the region, 1,700 new beds. He’s going the train, they said, 500 health workers a week. Does all that sound realistic to you?

    DR. JOANNE LIU: Well, I must say that I have some reservations on those statements.

    I think that right now it’s really difficult to find staff to be trained. The reality in the region — and these are very conservative figures, but there’s 240 health care staff that have been infected. Half of them died. We know it’s much more than that. So where will we find those personnel who will be willing to come? That’s another question.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And where — where are those personnel coming from? Where are you looking for them, the health care workers?

    DR. JOANNE LIU: Well, the work force right now is quite, I would say, dispersed.

    And many of them have, I would say, fled from health care centers because they are completely collapsed. We know that most of the hospitals, for example, in Monrovia are not working, except some small emergency facility for obstetrics. So, right now, the health personnel is not working. Some have been infected. And we don’t know how many of them have been affected by Ebola so far.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So are you saying this pledge coming from the United States may not be something that can be fulfilled?

    DR. JOANNE LIU: I think it’s going to be a real challenge, to say the least.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So what needs to be done? If it’s not military — the U.S. is sending military in to do this work of building these centers. What is needed?

    DR. JOANNE LIU: Well, what is needed, it’s more than only building isolation centers, and then running away from it. It’s to build isolation centers and then have a work force, an outside work force for the time being to come and staff those isolation centers.

    And this is why we asked for hands-on today in my remark, because if we don’t staff new isolation centers, they will not work. They will not be able to welcome patients.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And so what kind of skills are you talking about? What are the skills that the people who would stay would need to have?

    DR. JOANNE LIU: Well, basically, you need to have the skills of, I would say, a health care worker that can work with highly contagious diseases.

    So we’re not talking about anything fancy. There’s a routine. And this is why we talk about being rigorous and disciplined. But if you follow the rules, that’s fairly easy. So anyone who can follow rules and be a bit psycho-rigid about it will manage.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So you’re saying this is — it doesn’t take extensive training to learn how to do these jobs?

    DR. JOANNE LIU: It doesn’t learn — extensive training in terms of — we’re not talking about going to med school for five years. We’re talking about a few days of getting, I would say, a training.

    And after that, what we should invest on is sort of what we call a more intense training inside, in an Ebola center or a simulation Ebola center.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The question I think on a lot of people’s minds, though, Dr. Liu, is how do you persuade these workers to come and assure them they’re going to be safe, that they’re not going to get Ebola themselves?

    DR. JOANNE LIU: Well, it depends about which type of worker you are talking about.
    But, locally, national staff, when you talk to our staff in our centers, they always say, please, keep Ebola out of my country, and this is why. That’s the key motivation to continue and work and be at the front line.

    So I think that we have to appreciate, you know, that motivation from them. Regarding to international staff, the reality is, we don’t need a specialist in virology. We need health care worker, nurses, doctors, but as well logistician, water sanitation staff, who will be able to run an Ebola center with safety, because the paramount, I would say, thing about running a center is protection of our staff.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But for those who come in contact with these patients, of course, there is some risk?

    DR. JOANNE LIU: There is a minimal risk, but the thing is, if you are following the rules, you will decrease, I would say, dramatically the risk. But it’s like anywhere where we go as MSF in the 67 countries, there is always a bit of a risk.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Medecins Sans Frontieres being the French name for the organization you head, Doctors Without Border.

    Dr. Joanne Liu, we thank you.

    DR. JOANNE LIU: Thank you very much.

    The post More hands-on help needed on front lines of Ebola outbreak – Part 2 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: how to contain the Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa. That was the main question world leaders addressed at today’s meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There’s still a significant gap between where we are and where we need to be.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: From President Obama, a grave appraisal today that the world has not done enough to stop Ebola.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If we move fast, even if imperfectly, then that could mean the difference between 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 deaths vs. hundreds of thousands or even a million deaths.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The president last week unveiled a billion-dollar plan to send U.S. medical and military support to West Africa. Today, at the U.N., he warned fellow heads of state that they have to commit as well.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Do not stand by thinking that, somehow, because of what we have done, that it’s taken care of. It’s not. And if we don’t take care of this now, we are going to see fallout effects and secondary effects from this that will have ramifications for a long time, above and beyond the lives that will have been lost.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The warning came as the World Health Organization announced Ebola has now killed more than 2,900 people, out of more than 6,200 confirmed to be infected. The agency also said the spread of the virus now appears to be stabilizing in Guinea, where the outbreak first began. From there, Ebola has since spread to nearby Sierra Leone and Liberia. Senegal and Nigeria have also reported cases, but it appears the disease has been contained there.

    In Sierra Leone today, the government sealed off three new districts where Ebola outbreaks are flaring. That means one-third of the country’s six million people are now under quarantine. The WHO said today that Liberia alone needs another 1,500 beds for Ebola patients.

    And, in Omaha, Nebraska, Dr. Rick Sacra was released from a hospital after recovering from Ebola. He’s the third American aid worker to contract the virus in Africa.

    The post World leaders focus on Ebola threat and support at U.N. – Part 1 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A White House official has announced that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will resign Thursday. Photo by Alex Wong and Getty Images

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    GWEN IFILL: Attorney General Eric Holder tendered his resignation today after six years at the helm of the Justice Department. When he officially steps down, he will be one of the longest serving and most controversial members of President Obama’s Cabinet.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Hello, everybody. Please have a seat.

    GWEN IFILL: The president and his top law enforcement officer entered the White House state dining room late this afternoon.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: As younger men, Eric and I both studied law, and I chose him to serve as attorney general because he believes, as I do, that justice is not just an abstract theory. It’s a living and breathing principle.

    ERIC HOLDER, Attorney General: In good times and in bad, in things personal and in things professional, you have been there for me. I’m proud to call you my friend.

    I’m also grateful for the support you have given me and the Department as we have made real the visions that you and I have always shared.

    I have loved the Department of Justice ever since as a young boy I watched Robert Kennedy prove during the civil rights movement how the Department can and must always be a force for that which is right. I hope that I have done honor to the faith that you have placed in me, Mr. President, and to the legacy of all those who have served before me.

    I, Eric Holder…

    GWEN IFILL: Eric Holder became the nation’s first African-American attorney general in 2009. He quickly became a lightning rod for criticism, first over Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind. Holder wanted a civilian trial in New York, but was forced to leave it with a military commission at Guantanamo.

    The attorney general also drew heavy partisan fire over Operation Fast and Furious, a botched gun-running investigation in the Southwest. House Republicans cited him for contempt of Congress for allegedly withholding documents. And Holder clashed publicly with House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa.

    REP. DARRELL ISSA, Chair, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: Yes, you didn’t want us to see the details, Mr. Attorney General, in knowing the to and from…

    (CROSSTALK)

    ERIC HOLDER: No, no. I’m not going to stop talking now.

    When you characterize something as something…

    (CROSSTALK)

    REP. DARRELL ISSA: Mr. Chairman, would you inform the witness as to the rules of this committee?

    ERIC HOLDER: It’s inappropriate and it’s too consistent with the way in which you conduct yourself as a member of Congress. It’s unacceptable and it’s shameful.

    GWEN IFILL: Holder rejected demands that he resign, and told the “NewsHour” today in a phone interview: “To those who think that they forced me out, I hate to break their hearts, but that’s totally untrue.”

    The attorney general has focused instead on major civil liberties issues, including gay marriage. Earlier this year, he told his state counterparts they are not obligated to defend bans on gay unions.

    ERIC HOLDER: I believe that we must be suspicious of legal classifications based solely on sexual orientation. And we must endeavor in all of our efforts to uphold and advance the values that once led our forbearers to declare unequivocally that all are created equal and entitled to equal opportunity.

    GWEN IFILL: The attorney general also vowed to find new ways to protect minority voters, after the Supreme Court invalidated part of the Voting Rights Act last year.

    ERIC HOLDER: We cannot allow the slow unraveling of the progress that so many, throughout history, have sacrificed so much to achieve.

    GWEN IFILL: More recently, Holder pushed to shorten prison terms for many nonviolent offenders. He singled out drug sentencing in a “NewsHour” interview this past summer.

    ERIC HOLDER: If you are basing a sentence on something other than the conduct of the person who was involved and the person’s record, if you’re looking, for instance, at factors of what educational level the person has received, what neighborhood the person comes from…

    GWEN IFILL: Which, to be clear, some states are doing already.

    ERIC HOLDER: They are, right. And using that as a predictor, though, of what — how likely this person, this individual is going to be a recidivist, I’m not at all certain that I’m comfortable with that.

    GWEN IFILL: And last month, Holder announced a full-scale investigation of the police in Ferguson, Missouri. That followed violent clashes over the death of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, at the hands of a white officer.

    ERIC HOLDER: I promised that the United States Department of Justice would continue to stand with the people there long after the national headlines had faded.

    GWEN IFILL: Holder leaves undone a promised update of racial profiling rules for FBI agents. It’s expected to include religion, gender and sexual orientation, also unresolved, a request for more immigration judges at the border. So far, Congress has balked at funding the idea.

    We examine Eric Holder’s tenure now and his legacy with Tony West, who served as Holder’s associate attorney general, until stepping down earlier this month, and Hans Von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation and co-author of the book “Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department.”

    Tony West, he was your boss for a long time there. What is his legacy?

    TONY WEST, Former Associate Attorney General: Well, I think his legacy will definitely include civil rights, making historic gains in civil rights, as well as reforming our criminal justice system, particularly when it comes to defending our voting rights at a time when those rights are under attack.

    I think it will also include looking at the criminal justice system, where we have a criminal justice system that too often manifests divisions along race and class lines. Eric Holder is someone who has not been afraid to take those on and to try to change that. And I believe that will be part of his long-term legacy.

    GWEN IFILL: Hans von Spa — I always do this when I have you on.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: Hans von Spakovsky, what is your idea of his legacy?

    HANS VON SPAKOVSKY, The Heritage Foundation: Well, frankly, I welcome the resignation today, and so would anyone else who believes in the rule of law.

    He has politicized the department to an extent never seen before. In fact, one of the career lawyers that we interviewed for the book, who was hired during the Clinton administration, told us that he thought Eric Holder was the worst attorney general since Mitchell under Nixon, and that’s quite a statement coming from a career lawyer.

    GWEN IFILL: What does he base that on?

    HANS VON SPAKOVSKY: He bases it on the fact that the decision-making on prosecutions, rather than being made on the objective and fair administration of justice, has often been made on ideology and politics.

    And a great example of that is in the Civil Rights Division, where, according to an I.G. report issued last year, the race neutrality, which has always been the policy of the Justice Department when it comes to enforcing the Voting Rights Act, was ended because Eric Holder didn’t believe in the race neutrality of enforcing the voting rights.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me ask Tony West to respond to that.

    TONY WEST: Well, actually, as someone who was there in the Justice Department, that just doesn’t seem to comport with the facts.

    The fact is, is that when you look at where the department has had to be very aggressive in defending voting rights after the Supreme Court struck down part of that act, the Voting Rights Act, Eric Holder has led. He’s led in Texas. He’s led in North Carolina with innovative legal — legal arguments based on the Voting Rights Act, Section 2.

    We have also been very active in Ohio and in Wisconsin in participating in lawsuits there as well. So I think it’s almost comical to think that, of any Attorney General Eric Holder, has not stood very strong to protect the voting rights of all Americans. I think that is what the record shows.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about another issue, which is the prosecution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the 9/11 plotters.

    HANS VON SPAKOVSKY: Right.

    GWEN IFILL: There was much pushback when the attorney general wanted to prosecute them in a federal court in downtown New York in the shadow of the Towers, or where the Towers had once stood. He told me today when I talked to him on the phone that, if this had happened, if he had not been forced to reverse himself and send Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to a military commission, he would be on death row by now, and that he was right to do what he wanted to do the first time.

    HANS VON SPAKOVSKY: Well, certainly, Democrats in Congress didn’t agree with that, because, remember, it was a bill that they passed and also agreed to that prevented him from doing that.

    I actually think that’s another example of what he’s done wrong. He has brought back the Clinton era idea of treating terrorism as a criminal act. We saw how successful that was in 9/11. And I don’t think that’s been good for national security.

    In the same vein, he’s opened up more leak investigations of classified information than any prior attorney general combined. But there’s been a distinct pattern to those. Whenever a low-level individual could be found to be prosecuted, they have done that.

    But when leaks have been directly traced to coming out of the White House, leaks clearly intended to make the president look like he was tough on terrorism, those leak investigations have not been pursued and have not been prosecuted.

    GWEN IFILL: Tony West?

    TONY WEST: Well, certainly, when it comes to whether or not our Article 3 courts, our criminal justice system, is well-equipped to deal with terrorist cases, I think Eric Holder has been vindicated by history.

    We saw just this week the conviction and the sentencing to life of Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law. That was in an Article 3 court, in Manhattan, no less. We have seen it with Abu Hamza earlier this year.

    I think it’s quite clear that one of the great principles of our justice system is that our courts can handle cases like this. It is something that Eric Holder believed in back then when KSM was the issue of the day. And I think history has vindicated him.

    GWEN IFILL: But there has been bad blood with Congress, including some members of his own party, as Mr. Von Spakovsky points out. Did that hurt his ability to get his job done?

    TONY WEST: You know, I don’t — I don’t think so ultimately.

    And I think oftentimes, when you think about these types of tenures, really in the fullness of time are you able to really appreciate exactly how effective an attorney general or president has been. And I think that will also be the case here.

    But the fact is that controversy is often the laboratory of greatness. And I think when you look at some of the controversial steps that other attorneys general have taken, when Attorney General Kennedy integrated the University of Alabama, that was controversial, but it was also right.

    And I think if there’s anything you can say about this attorney general, he’s never shrunk from doing what he believed was right.

    GWEN IFILL: The attorney general identified to me two things where he thinks that the next incoming attorney general can work with Republicans, and that’s on reforming or reviving the Voting Rights Act and also on sentencing reforms.

    And we have heard some cross-party agreement on those issues. Do you see movement coming on those issues, no matter who the attorney general is?

    HANS VON SPAKOVSKY: Well, there’s no reason to revive the portion of the Voting Rights Act that was thrown out by the court. That was an emergency provision that was originally only supposed to last five years.

    The rest of the Voting Rights Act, Section 2, is an effective tool against discrimination. And, in fact, that’s the tool that he’s been using in lawsuits around the country, although he has been phenomenally unsuccessful so far in many of those lawsuits because he doesn’t have the evidence there to actually show that, for example, voter I.D. is discriminatory.

    GWEN IFILL: So you don’t see movement happening on that?

    HANS VON SPAKOVSKY: I don’t.

    On criminal justice reform, I actually agree with him. And the Heritage Foundation actually believes that there are many instances of people being sentenced for crimes criminally that shouldn’t be, that should, for example, just have civil fines. Some of the sentencing lengths are too long. And, there, actually, there is an area I think that both parties can work together on.

    GWEN IFILL: Tony West, Mr. Von Spakovsky earlier compared this attorney general, this outgoing attorney general, to an attorney general who was brought — who was — left, departed under a cloud, shall we say.

    TONY WEST: Mitchell.

    GWEN IFILL: Mitchell.

    Who would you — I noticed today that one of the first calls he made notifying about his retirement was to — or his stepping down was to Ethel Kennedy. Is that who he identifies with?

    TONY WEST: Well, I’ll tell you, he’s certainly earned the comparison, because when you look at the major issues, and if you just take the cause of LGBT rights in this country, Eric Holder was on the right side of history.

    And he was on the right side of history in a way that not only allowed the department to comport with its traditional role, but in a way that allowed us to move forward and in a way that has transformed this country ever since.

    So I think, when we look back — and, again, in the fullness of time, when we consider his tenure, we consider what he’s done in criminal justice reform, when we consider what he’s done in voting rights, when we consider what he’s done for civil rights, I think there’s no question that Eric Holder will be one of the greatest attorneys general that the country has seen.

    GWEN IFILL: Will he outlast his critics, Mr. von Spakovsky?

    HANS VON SPAKOVSKY: I don’t think so.

    I think, going down the road, the legacy that he is going to be considered to have is not going to be a good one and not one that’s very complimentary to him.

    GWEN IFILL: Final word.

    TONY WEST: Well, I think only time will tell.

    But the one thing I like to remember is that when you think of the most controversial attorneys general we have had in history, the fullness of time shows that, oftentimes, they were on the right side of history, they were right. There are many reasons to believe that this attorney general will have that — will be able to be in that type of company.

    GWEN IFILL: OK.

    Well, we’re going to wait and see who the president nominates and when he nominates someone to succeed him.

    Hans von Spakovsky, the author of “Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department,” and Tony West, former associate attorney general, thank you both very much.

    HANS VON SPAKOVSKY: Thank you.

    TONY WEST: Thank you, Gwen.

    The post Understanding Eric Holder’s legacy for the Justice Department appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GWEN IFILL: The Pentagon tallied the damage today from U.S. and Arab airstrikes that blasted oil installations held by Islamic State forces in Syria. They represent a key source of funding for the militants, up to $2 million a day in black market oil sales.

    At the Pentagon, Rear Admiral John Kirby said the strikes were successful, but there’s much more to do.

    REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, Pentagon Press Secretary: They still have financing at their fingertips. They still have plenty of volunteers. They still have plenty of weapons and vehicles and the ability to move around. They still control a wide swathe inside Iraq, no question about it. This is just, as I said the other day, and I think — I want to state it again. This is just the beginning.

    GWEN IFILL: Syrian activists reported civilians were killed in last night’s attacks, but Admiral Kirby said there is no credible information to support that claim.

    Meanwhile, FBI Director James Comey said the U.S. may have identified the Islamic State militant in video beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker. The man has a British accent, but Comey wouldn’t give his name or nationality.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Iraq now says it has intelligence of an alleged plot by Islamic State militants to attack subways in the U.S. and France. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said today he believes there is an active threat. Senior U.S. and French officials said they had no evidence of a plot. But New York City’s police department added more officers on subways and streets after the Iraqi warning.

    GWEN IFILL: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani charged today that outsiders bear the blame for the rise of Islamic State and other extremists. He told the U.N. General Assembly that certain intelligence agencies helped fund and support such groups. That was taken as a reference to the U.S. and Israel. Rouhani also challenged U.S. leadership of a coalition.

    PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI, Iran (through interpreter): It is a strategic mistake if some countries under the pretext of the leadership of the coalition are in fact trying to continue their hegemony in our region. Obviously, since the pain is better known by the regional countries, better together they can form a coalition to shoulder the responsibility and the leadership of the fight.

    GWEN IFILL: The Iranian leader also said a deal on his country’s nuclear program is possible by a November deadline if the West is flexible.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A cruise liner in the Mediterranean rescued more than 300 people from a small boat off Cyprus today. They’re believed to be refugees fleeing Syria. The packed vessel had been stranded about 50 miles off southwestern Cyprus and the coastal town of Paphos. Hundreds of people have already died at sea this year trying to sail from the Middle East or North Africa to Europe.

    GWEN IFILL: A woman beaten by a California State Trooper is getting $1.5 million in a settlement. The incident involving Marlene Pinnock was captured on video last July 1. Pinnock is bipolar. Court documents say the trooper tried to pull her from oncoming traffic on a Los Angeles freeway and she resisted. The officer has agreed to resign.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Wall Street hit the skids today, driven partly by Apple. The tech giant sank nearly 4 percent after it had to pull a troubled software update for iPhones. Overall, the Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 258 points to close at 16,952; the Nasdaq fell 88 points to close at 4,466; and the S&P 500 dropped nearly 32 points to finish just under 1,966. The decline came amid talk that the market may be overdue for a correction.

    The post News Wrap: Airstrikes damage key income source for Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    “Cindy,” a very slight young woman with long brown hair, sits on a bench looking out at Miami’s Biscayne Bay. The serenity here is profoundly different from the violence she left behind in Honduras. Cindy, who asked the NewsHour not to use her real name, said she fled an abusive home at 14 and lived on her own for the next three years.

    “There are problems in my country, a lot of bad things, a lot of crime,” she said. “People killing for the sake of killing.  Many kids are alone because their parents are dead.”

    "Cindy" fled violence in Honduras last year and waited for months as her claim for asylum went through Immigration Court in Miami, Florida. Photo by Mike Fritz/PBS NewsHour

    “Cindy” fled violence in Honduras last year and waited for months as her claim for asylum went through Immigration Court in Miami, Florida. Photo by Mike Fritz/PBS NewsHour

    Honduras is one of Latin America’s poorest nations,  according to the U.S. State Department, and has the highest homicide rate in the world.

    “The crime, the abuse, these are some of the reasons that I’m here,” said Cindy.  “It’s very different down there, there are no laws to protect us.”

    Cindy felt that her life would be in danger if she stayed, so last year at the age of 17, she left her hometown in the Olancho Department municipality in Honduras with only her birth certificate and the clothes she wore and started her journey to the United States.

    Cindy traveled north with a group of six men she didn’t know. “I was the only woman,” she said. “I thank god that they didn’t do anything to me, they treated me like a sister.”

    The group started the journey on a bus, but eventually reached the Mexican desert. By then, more men had joined the group and they crossed on foot with little food and one bottle of water each.

    “If you drank it all up you might die. When it ran out you’d fill it with water from puddles or any other way possible,” Cindy said.

    After days in the desert, Cindy and her traveling companions made it to the Rio Grande, which separates Texas and Mexico. They crossed the river in two rafts.

    “If you fell off, you drowned,” Cindy said.

    Eventually the group made it into the U.S. and was caught by the Border Patrol. Cindy described being held in a very cold detention facility before being transferred to a shelter in Pennsylvania. Later she was released to a sponsor, a distant cousin in Miami. She now lives in South Florida as her case makes its way slowly through immigration court.

    Even though she lived on her own for three years from the age of 14, Cindy was able to work during the day and take enough classes at night to earn her high school diploma in Honduras. She is now taking an English class for adults at a Miami high school and eventually wants to become a doctor.

    Earlier this week, the government issued Cindy a lawful permanent visa, also known as a green card.

    She is thankful she has the opportunity to finish grow up here, but still wants to caution other children who may be thinking about making the same trip.

    “Kids don’t know how dangerous the journey is, they could be abused or die,” she said.

    Making the case to stay

    Cindy is among tens of thousands of unaccompanied migrant children who have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in the past year. In July, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that more than 52,000 children had been apprehended there as of mid-June of its fiscal year. About three-quarters told authorities they came from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

    Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security reported that the number of unaccompanied children detained at the border has declined over the past few months. But that still leaves thousands of children like Cindy making claims to stay in this country.

    Many apply for relief under terms provided in the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (or TVPRA). The law was designed to enhance measures to combat all types of human trafficking and made it harder to quickly deport children from non-contiguous countries.

    But no matter their age, the minors asking for asylum in this country are not provided a lawyer free of charge, which concerns Cheryl Little, executive director of the non-profit legal services organization Americans for Immigrant Justice.

    “The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued a report in March of this year,” Little said. “I think that over 400 children have been interviewed, and the UNHCR determined that roughly 60 percent of those children had potential claims for a relief there. They are not entitled to a free attorney, so unless groups like ours are able to step up to the plate … these children have little to no real opportunity to make their case to stay here.” In many cases, she says, being deported is a virtual death sentence for these kids.

    According to Little, the children her lawyers meet with usually don’t speak English, don’t understand the legal system and haven’t brought with them evidence that might help prove their case.

    “Immigration proceedings are intimidating for adults, so you can only imagine the difficulty for a child to be sitting there before an immigration judge,” said Farah Jamette, a staff attorney with Americans for Immigrant Justice who also represented Cindy.

    “There is a government attorney who has been trained, has gone to law school, and their effort is to deport these children, or at least explain us to the reasons why they shouldn’t be allowed to stay,” Jamette said. “So it’s very difficult for these children to sit there in immigration court…

    “I think the judges that do have dedicated juvenile dockets try to do a good job of making the children comfortable and the judges that we have here in South Florida do a great job of making the children, of attempting to make the children comfortable. But the children are still visibly anxious and nervous.”

    The sheer number of children seeking relief in immigration court has not only been daunting for the relatively few lawyers representing these children pro bono. In July, the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ) sent letters to leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, calling the “unprecedented surge in the numbers of unaccompanied minors who have presented themselves at our southern border seeking shelter” a “complex and urgent situation.”

    The NAIJ letters stated there were only 228 full-time immigration judges dealing with more than 375,000 cases nationwide. The average time to reach a decision is now 587 days — more than a year and a half — according to the letter.

    The letters also referred to the special needs of children and juveniles in the legal system, and that the 2008 TVPRA law created special provisions for minors seeking to stay in the country under the law, including creating a non-adversarial atmosphere in the courtroom and helping children access legal service as often as possible.

    But some believe the law may often be used by children who don’t actually qualify.

    “The terms of the trafficking law apply to people who are unaccompanied,” said Jon Feere, a legal policy analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies. “By definition, an unaccompanied alien child is a person who has no lawful immigration status in the U.S., has not attained 18 years of age and does not have a parent or legal guardian inside the U.S. What has been determined, though, is that most of these kids do have parents with them, and those who don’t, have parents or legal guardians in the United States, overwhelmingly.”

    Feere said that some children who come here unaccompanied do have legitimate claims under the law. But the majority don’t fit the federal legal definition of “unaccompanied alien child” or have technically been “trafficked,” he said.

    “In the instance where we are talking about some sort of coercion, where the kid is somehow actually without his parents, his parents never called upon smugglers, the kid was maybe kidnapped, kids being used for sex trafficking — that’s when this law would apply,” Feere said. “When it’s shown that it’s not that case, these cases should be treated just as any other case of illegal immigration.”

    It turns out that Feere, Carol Little of Americans for Immigrant Justice and the NAIJ agree on one point — there is a very serious backlog in the immigration courts. Feere recently sat in on proceedings in Arlington, Virginia.

    “The judges there are pencilling in asylum hearings for 2018,” said Feere. “One of the judges said ‘you think 2018 is bad, I’ve heard some of these cases are not slated until 2020.’”

    Carol Little admits her group is also swamped.

    “Last year we provided services to over 1,600 children, [and by] the end of July we’d almost reached that mark of this year,” Little said. “We had two judges for a number of years who were assigned to the children’s docket here in Miami and between them they heard about 150 cases a month. As of end of July we had three judges hearing 150 cases a day. We are now up to five judges. I could go on and on, I mean, the numbers are overwhelming.”

    A challenging education

    The backlog of immigration cases means thousands of children who’ve crossed alone illegally wait months or even years for their cases to be adjudicated. And that means many are here long enough to enroll in school.

    Most children who come across the border unaccompanied have not finished high school and don’t speak much English. Oscar was 12 when he came to the U.S. from Honduras with his 17-year-old sister earlier this year.

    He’s now enrolled in a middle school in Miami. The Miami-Dade County Public Schools have recently received a large influx of students from Central America, like Oscar. More than 2,000 have enrolled since June — more than 900 come from Honduras alone.

    Riverside Elementary School in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood is one of the most affected schools in the district. More than 70 new students from Central America have enrolled there since June, and a majority came from Honduras.

    And it’s not just a lack of English language skills, or that these new students may be behind academically, that the school has to be concerned about, according to principal Erica Paramore-Respress.

    “The most pressing need that these students may have a lot of times is the social-emotional component that comes along with whatever these kids may have been exposed to,” said Paramore-Respress. “So that in of itself is traumatic, to come over, and then you are very young and now you are in a totally different country where you may or may not know anyone else. So once you get here, we try to establish a nurturing environment with our teachers but we also have our counselors on board.

    Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the district’s experiences may be helpful to other areas dealing with similar problems.

    “Identify and collaborate with social agencies both in your community as well as statewide; they are responsible for the accommodation of children coming in,” Carvalho said. “Secondly, develop relationships with the federal government to accelerate the pipeline of federal funding, specifically Title 3, funding that addresses the needs of English language learners.”

    Not all schools and districts around the country have been as welcoming.

    In May, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education sent a joint “Dear Colleague letter” to districts around the country, following reports that some schools may have discouraged or even excluded children from registering, based on their actual or perceived immigration status.

    The letter, from the Civil Rights offices of both departments, sought to “…remind [schools] of the Federal obligation to provide equal educational opportunities to all children residing in your district and to offer our assistance in ensuring that you comply with the law.”

    For the Miami-Dade schools district, this is not the first time it has dealt with large numbers of foreign-born children enrolling in a relatively short period of time.

    “Whether we are talking about the Mariel boatlift, particularly involving Cuba, the arrival of thousands of Cuban children or Nicaraguan children after the civil war in that nation, or more recently after hurricanes or earthquake destruction in Haiti, the fact is that we pick up hundreds if not thousands of children,” said Carvalho. “So we know how to do this, we are adept at this type of challenge.”

    This story and PBS NewsHour education coverage is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    The post Backlog of children’s immigration cases challenges judges, lawyers and schools appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    NEW YORK, NY — NATO says many Russian troops have left Eastern Ukraine, but Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk — leading his country’s delegation to the UN General Assembly in New York — voiced deep doubt that Russian president Vladimir Putin has abandoned expansionist designs on the former Soviet republic.

    Asked about his President Petro Poroshenko’s comment that he saw a “transformation” in Russia’s attitude toward Ukraine, Yatsenyuk grimaced in my interview with him late yesterday. ”I’m very skeptical about Russia and the Russian president. I just don’t trust them,” said the 40-year-old premier. “Their ultimate goal is to recreate the Soviet Union, something that resembles the Soviet style empire,” which he described as “a brand of evil.”

    Yatsenyuk doesn’t believe Putin will carry out the September 5 cease fire plan agreed in Minsk in good faith. “Knowing them, they will just try to pick the cherry, what they want, but not what’s needed.” What’s required, he said, is to pull all Russian troops out of Ukraine, restore Ukraine’s control over its side of the border crossings, and stop pouring weapons and operatives into Ukrainian territory.

    Heartened by President Obama’s denunciation of Russian aggression in his UN General Assembly speech, the premier urged the U.S. and European Union to maintain sanctions on Russia until it abandons all of Ukrainian territory, including Crimea. President Obama has not made that a public litmus test, but Yatsenyuk said, “As far as I understand, that’s what he’s thinking about.”

    Yatsenyuk did agree with Poroshenko’s observation yesterday in Kiev that “the most dangerous phase” of the war against Russia and its protégé separatists may have passed. But he says any change in Putin’s tactics is being driven by growing public unhappiness over Russian casualties there. “In pulling back forces, Russia got coffins from Ukrainian territory of Russian soldiers. These severely affected the Russian population, and the approval rating of the Russian president,” he said.

    There are unconfirmed reports on social media and elsewhere of scores or hundreds of soldiers being returned in zinc-lined coffins or dumped in coal mines. Moscow has refused to release casualty figures. All this has aroused anger among families, especially the activist Committee of Soldiers Mothers.

    Yatesenyuk also thinks US and European sanctions are squeezing Russia, though Putin has dismissed them. “I don’t trust that he doesn’t care,” the wiry economist said. “Sanctions definitely have a tough and huge negative impact on the Russian economy.”

    But he said economic imperatives also drove his own government to sue for peace, so Kiev can get on with the urgent job of revamping its inefficient and corrupt economy, and aspire to apply for EU membership in 2020 as Poroshenko said yesterday he wants to do. “It’s difficult to find any economy in the world that can flourish having a war,” he noted. “I can hardly imagine how to attract international investors, having Russian tanks and soldiers on your soil.”

    The hyper-kinetic Yatsenyuk, who has been nicknamed “The Rabbit” for his uncanny resemblance to the Soviet version in Winnie the Pooh, saved his best line for last — when I asked him what he thought it would take for Ukraine to prevail against the Russian bear. He leaned back and took a breath. “In my childhood, my mom told me a number of fairy tales. And the bear is a very good animal in Ukrainian fairy tales,” he mused. “But in reality, it’s better to have a bear somewhere in the zoo.”

    “In a zoo?” I asked, not sure I’d heard him right. “The zoo,” he said. He needed say no more.

    Margaret Warner’s full interview with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk will air on tonight’s PBS NewsHour.

    The post Ukraine prime minister doesn’t trust Putin to implement peace plan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The U.S. has not yet identified which units will be deployed to Liberia to help battle the Ebola outbreak. Photo by Getty Images

    The International Monetary Fund has approved $130 million in emergency aid to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Photo by Getty Images

    The International Monetary Fund has approved $130 million in emergency aid to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to help these West African countries respond to the Ebola outbreak.

    The Washington-based lending institution said Friday the amount will cover part of the immediate balance of payments and budget needs of the three countries but added more help was needed from other donors.

    Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, said the organization “is working hard with the authorities of the affected countries and their development partners to ensure that the outbreak is quickly brought under control and to assist the economic rebuilding that must follow.”

    Under the outlay, Liberia gets $49 million, Guinea $41 million and Sierra Leone $40 million. The IMF said these countries need an additional $170 million.

    The post IMF approves $130 million for Ebola stricken countries appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A White House official has announced that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will resign Thursday.

    Press secretary Josh Earnest hinted at a possible fall nomination of Attorney General Eric Holder’s successor. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Could the White House be hinting at when President Barack Obama might nominate a new attorney general?

    The White House won’t give away Obama’s timeline. But press secretary Josh Earnest pointed out Friday that there is precedent for the Senate confirming nominees in a lame-duck session, the weeks in Congress between the midterm elections and the new lawmakers are sworn in and seated.

    Some Republicans are urging Obama to delay a nomination until after a new Senate is sworn in next year. Democrats control the chamber now, but the majority is up for grabs in November.

    “Rather than rush a nominee through the Senate in a lame-duck session, I hope the president will now take his time to nominate a qualified individual who can start fresh relationships with Congress so that we can solve the problems facing our country,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, which will hold hearings on the nominee.

    In response to those GOP calls, Earnest raised the example of President George W. Bush’s nomination of Robert Gates as defense secretary the day after the 2006 midterm election in which Republicans lost their Senate majority.

    “In less than a month, December 6, Secretary Gates was confirmed to his post, with strong bipartisan support,” Earnest recalled. “So there is a precedent for presidents making important Cabinet nominations and counting on Congress to confirm them promptly, even in the context of a lame-duck session, if necessary.”

    Earnest also pointed out that Attorney General Eric Holder’s predecessor, Michael Mukasey, was confirmed by a Senate led by the opposition party seven weeks later. “So there is a pretty clear precedent for attorneys general and for other prominent Cabinet officials to go through the process of being nominated and confirmed quickly and with bipartisan support,” Earnest said.

    Obama can’t officially nominate a new attorney general until the Senate returns to session on Nov. 12. That leaves only seven calendar weeks until a new Senate in sworn in, including the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Obama, however, could announce his intent to nominate a new attorney general any time.

    The post Obama may nominate next attorney general this fall, White House suggests appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    shieldsbrooks

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama spoke out at the U.N. General Assembly this week for support in the fight against the Islamic State. And Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation.

    For that, and a little more on Derek Jeter, 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, another word, Mark, about Derek Jeter. What — what else should be said about him?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, Judy, I think sports is and rightly described as a mirror of our society at large.

    And beyond the unspeakable wife beating reports by some pro football players, conduct on football fields is just unacceptable, I mean, the showboating, the self-congratulatory dancing after a single tackle, the beating of the chest, and aren’t I terrific, and the attempts to humiliate and embarrass your opponent.

    Derek Jeter, the Yankee shortstop, was the consummate professional. He showed up every day. He did his job. He never complained. He was never on TMZ. He never taunted an opponent. He was respected by them, and he respected them.

    He was — there’s only two teams I root for, the Boston Red Sox and the team that is playing the New York Yankees.

    (LAUGHTER)

    MARK SHIELDS: But let me say this as a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan. He, Derek Jeter, was class. He is class in everything he’s done. And he’s a man of public modesty. And I just think that is so needed and missing in our society.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Class act, David?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, and sort of a story about the limits of big data.

    And so Keith Olbermann has this rant, which you can — if you go on YouTube, you can see it. And he takes down Jeter’s stats. And they’re good. Look, by any Major League standards, they’re good. They’re probably Hall of Fame, but they are not great. The stats are not great. His range as a shortstop wasn’t great.

    And so, by the statistical measure, he wasn’t a superstar. He was a great — he was a very good player, but he was not a superstar. And yet he was clearly a superstar. And he was a superstar in part because of his clutch performances, and the volley and the throw to home plate from the World Series, and his attitude there, but mostly he’s a superstar because of the team cohesion that he built and the way he symbolized the team, the effect of one team player on a team culture.

    One of my colleagues said, the biggest number for him was the number on the back of his jersey. And that does symbolize it, that that was the number that truly measured his performance as a player, not so much the batting average, which was good, but not stellar.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Does it somehow override the other news, bad news that seems to come out of the world of sports?

    MARK SHIELDS: It does — it stands in stark contrast and welcome contrast.

    And I would just add the good point David made. And that is that the data — and Keith Olbermann — which baseball now lives on, I mean, we’re drowning in information, but we’re thirsting for wisdom, as somebody said. And I think the wisdom is that Derek Jeter is a great baseball player. He’s on his way to Cooperstown, to the Hall of Fame, as he should be, even though, statistically, he — he’s got more hits than anybody but five people who played the game, so…

    DAVID BROOKS: I would just say, it’s always hard to know how seriously to take sports.

    Like, we — I have a friend who says the front clause of every sports story should be, not that it matters, but…

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAVID BROOKS: Because I can’t remember who won the World Series or the Super Bowl a couple years later. But we get caught up in it. And we debate it like we just saw them debating there because it’s where we rehearse our moral stories and debate morals and things like that.

    MARK SHIELDS: Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey, the desegregation of baseball before we desegregated society, I mean, that’s — that’s sports.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we want to turn away from sports for a minute to talk about something that happened this week.

    President Obama, Mark, went before the United Nations, talked about defeating the network of death, the Islamic State, appealed for the world to come support the United States. Is that speech going to make a difference in the success of this effort?

    MARK SHIELDS: I don’t know, Judy.

    I mean, it certainly was a speech seeking allies and making the case and making it, I thought, far more assertively certainly than the president did when he spoke to the nation. And there obviously was a different constituency that he was seeking.

    But the White House is frank that this is a — seeking a reset of the president’s leadership credentials, or burnishing his credentials. And I do think that it was a more muscular speech or a less conflicted speech.

    But, Judy, when you talk about destroying an ideology, I mean, Lee Hamilton, the former chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House, I was talking to this week, and he said, who writes this stuff? You know, you don’t destroy an ideology. You defeat an ideology with another ideology, with another philosophy, another point of view, in addition to content.

    And these people are the ideal villain, the ideal adversaries. They are the worst of humankind in their actions. But it sort of hearkens back to the end of tyranny in the world, which his predecessor, George W. Bush, spoke of. There is a rhetorical overreach, I think, to the speech.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You think the president advanced his case?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think so. I think it was mostly revelatory about his own mind.

    And so he had been half-measures, ambivalent, oh, I don’t want to do this, reluctant. Well, clearly, he took off the reluctant cape this time. He was — people have accused him, and he has been sensitive to being called professorial and wan. And he was un-wan. He was whatever the opposite of wan is.

    MARK SHIELDS: W-A-N.

    DAVID BROOKS: W-A-N.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

    DAVID BROOKS: So, he was bold and forthright and simple.

    And he spoke — he gave a speech in West Point a few months ago where he said military force is not the answer. Well, when you’re fighting a military effort, military force is actually the answer. He has been stepping back some of the emphasis on democracy. He stepped that up. And so he was just more aggressive, more assertive

    And I think, as revelatory of his mind, I think, one, he really thinks these guys are evil, that you just can’t allow them to exist. Two, he does feel the responsibility to rally a coalition. You can’t do it with an uncertain trumpet.

    And I do think there — mixed within the high rhetoric is a pretty realistic goal. We’re not going to reshape the Middle East. We’re not going to bring peace to Syria and Iraq. We just want to make sure the worst that could happen will not happen. And the worst is an ISIS caliphate in the middle of the Middle East.

    MARK SHIELDS: What happened today in the House — in Parliament…

    (CROSSTALK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s what I wanted to ask.

    MARK SHIELDS: OK. Well…

    (CROSSTALK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: They had a debate and a vote.

    MARK SHIELDS: They had a debate. They did something that we are supposed to do.

    I mean, Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky, I give him credit. When they were going through that sham debate before they fled the city, the Congress did, encouraged by the White House — all they wanted to do is talk to the leaders and kind of get a wink and a nod and we’re all aboard — on board.

    Rand Paul said, if you’re debating going to war, I would think every senator would be at his or her desk. And they aren’t. And that was really refreshing and encouraging and sort of semi-inspiring to see the British today going through that, and the prime minister himself fielding questions and all the rest of it.

    Now, let it be noted that they — the British agreed to go and bomb in — only in Iraq, not…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Iraq, but not in Syria.

    MARK SHIELDS: … not in Syria.

    But, Judy, the absence of a debate in this country is a shame. Every member of Congress ought to be ashamed of himself or herself that the Congress left this town without debating the most serious decision that any legislator ever makes. And that is sending other Americans into war, into possible death.

    And I just think it’s — and I think the White House is following the lead of every president since. They want a free hand and the Congress to go away.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Did they show up, the United States, in the way they handled this?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, I’m pro-debate. They didn’t have an election coming up, at least for a little while. And they do have a bipartisan agreement.

    But we have a bipartisan agreement here. And I think to me what’s interesting about the debate, it’s less about whether than how. And so there is a big majority in the country and in the Congress and in Washington that there should be an effort. The question is how.

    And that’s very hard to debate because we don’t know if they’re going to — if ISIS is going to collapse. We don’t know if they’re going to hang in the cities, not hang in the cities, but hang in the country. So, the question is how and the methodology.

    And that unfurls as the war unfurls. And so now what we’re doing is, we’re bombing their oil refineries to try to cut off some of their financial supplies, bombing some of the convoys. And we — the country will have to react. And having running debate as the war essentially widens, which it’s going to do, having that debate as the war widens, that seems to me the crucial…

    (CROSSTALK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it’s OK to wait?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, I’m pro-debate. This is what I do for a living, so why should I mind?

    And I agree with all — with Mark’s points. I’m just saying it’s very hard to have the debate about how, what’s effective, what’s ineffective until we actually see some evidence.

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, you can figure out, first of all, how you are going to pay for it.

    General Dempsey today admitted, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said, we’re not going to have — we’re going to run out of money on this, the Pentagon is going to run the money. And the bombing is antiseptic. But Barry Goldwater, God bless him, said, when you’re thinking about bombing — this was in Vietnam, and it’s true today — you have got to forget this thing the civilian, because — the civilian, because when you bomb, you kill civilians.

    The idea that you’re just hitting oil installations, there are human beings who work at that — oil installations who aren’t members of al-Qaida or ISIL or anybody else. So, I mean, these are acts that have long-term repercussions.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in fact, Dempsey made it sound like they’re making more progress than we realized.

    I do want to reserve the last few minutes to ask you about the attorney general.

    Eric Holder, David, surprised, I think, most people announcing he’s going to step down. What’s the legacy? He’s been — he’s had his detractors, he’s had his admirers.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    He’s got detractors and admirers on both left and right, more admirers on the left, obviously, and more dislike on the right. But what has been said about him, which I think is the essential truth, is that he was quite strong on civil rights and not so strong on civil liberties.

    And so, if you look at the record, especially in terms of incarceration, sentencing, Voting Rights Act, very, very aggressive. And I would like to especially highlight the incarceration, which I think is out of control in this country. And so his efforts there are much appreciated.

    On the civil liberties, on the national security, he was very heavy on national security and not as respectful of civil liberty — liberties, and if you’re worried about terrorism and if you’re respecting the Bush administration, he followed a lot of the precedents and took them further.

    And the one thing I really do object to — and this is parochial — is his incredibly aggressive assault on the press, the Associated Press reporters, the FOX News commentators.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Going after…

    DAVID BROOKS: Going after the records and the phone records. That seemed to me appalling. And so — but that was of a piece of his national security approach.

    MARK SHIELDS: I agree in great part.

    The — I mean, I do commend him for the civil rights, not simply for gay and lesbian people, which he did champion, but also the attempts, quite frankly, by new Republican administrations and states after the 2010 sweep to suppress voter turnout in minority communities. And he took them on, and I commend him for that.

    I think that the — he will be held accountable in history’s judgment for big to jail, the — after the Wall Street collapse.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Wall Street.

    MARK SHIELDS: That after the Savings & Loan crisis in the late ’80s, Judy, 1,000 bankers and directors were indicted; 100 of them did time in jail.

    Not a single one of these CEOs or these people who brought the country to its knees, who destroyed people’s futures — and so it was always going to be a fine, but you will do no time. And I really do think — you know, corporations don’t serve time. Corporations don’t go away. And I really think that was a failure.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A thought on the Wall Street piece of his…

    (CROSSTALK)

    DAVID BROOKS: I think so. You would have to figure out who did what. That was always the challenge.

    It’s possible it was stupidity more than crime. There was clearly fraud in the banking sector. But picking out the executives who did something wrong, a lot of it was just stupidity and ignorance.

    MARK SHIELDS: Immunity leads to impunity, and that’s exactly, I think, the attitude of the financial community.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right.

    We thank you both, Mark Shields, David Brooks. Have a great weekend.

    MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

    The post Shields and Brooks on Islamic State as ‘ideal’ villains, retirement for Holder and Jeter appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Linda Winslow holds and Emmy Award in 2010 after the PBS NewsHour received the Chairman's Award.

    Linda Winslow holds an Emmy Award in 2010 after the PBS NewsHour received the Chairman’s Award.

    On Friday night, PBS NewsHour’s executive producer Linda Winslow will produce her final NewsHour episode from the control room. With her honest, decisive and thoughtful leadership style, and unparalleled sense of humor, she will guide the program through its various highlights and battles of the night. And when the show ends, it will mark the end of an era.

    Linda was one of the original producers of the 30-minute MacNeil/Lehrer Report, founded by Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil. She worked on Jim and Robert’s Watergate coverage in 1973, along with the network’s live coverage of the House Judiciary Committee’s Presidential Impeachment hearings, which was anchored by Jim.

    On her watch, the show has won numerous awards and transitioned from the MacNeil/Lehrer Report to the MacNeil Lehrer NewsHour to the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer to the PBS NewsHour and finally, to its latest iteration under co-anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff.

    In this video, Linda talks to Judy and Gwen about her philosophy on news, her role as a mentor, the future of journalism and the anchors’ now iconic “fist bump” from the 2012 Republican convention.

    She is, according to Judy, “the heart and soul of who we are and what we do.”

    “Your spirit infuses this place,” Gwen said.

    We will miss her.

    The post NewsHour’s first female executive producer retires after 40 years in public media appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: It was an emotional night in the Bronx, as one of baseball’s biggest stars delivered an inspired farewell, coming at a time when professional sports and athletes have been in the headlines for troubling or even criminal behavior.

    Jeffrey Brown has our look.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It was the fairy tale ending to a career that’s brought universal acclaim and admiration. On his last at bat on his home field at Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter drove in the winning run against the Baltimore Orioles.

    MAN: With a walk-off single, Derek Jeter!

    JEFFREY BROWN: Jeter began his career in 1995 and has played 2,745 games, all as a Yankee. He holds the sixth highest hit total in baseball history, won five World Series rings, and was selected as an All-Star 14 times, an incredible record that he discussed at the end of the game.

    DEREK JETER, New York Yankees: I would say a little prayer before every game. And I basically just said thank you, because this is all I have ever wanted to do. And not too many people get an opportunity to do it. And it was above and beyond anything I have ever dreamt of.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Tributes to his clutch play have poured in throughout his final season. Commercials like this one showed fans, rival players, and celebrities paying their respects. Jeter’s final game will be on Sunday against the Red Sox in Boston.

    Quite a night in New York, but also other kinds of continuing drama in the world of sports this week.

    We’re joined by Christine Brennan, national sports columnist for USA Today and commentator for ABC News, and Mike Pesca, host of Slate’s daily news and discussion podcast The Gist. He’s also a contributor to NPR.

    Well, to Derek Jeter first.

    Mike, it’s funny that he’s ending his career in Boston. As a Red Sox fan, I know that he’s destroyed our hopes perhaps more than anyone. And yet he’s respected there and everywhere. Why?

    MIKE PESCA, National Public Radio: Yes, because, amidst the morass of immorality that sports is — oh, I was just unintentionally maybe poetic there — but Derek Jeter is just solid. He just is reliable.

    And, you know, he’s a little bit boring. That was his advice to Gary Sheffield when he became a Yankee, be boring. But he’s boring in kind of the great ways that fathers will nudge their sons, and say, look at this guy. Look at how he runs it out on every play. Look at how he inspires his teammates.

    And, yes, the commercials have gotten a little bit crazy, and the hype about Jeter, just like everything with the Yankees and sports these days, has gone over the top. But, fundamentally, there he is delivering a game-winning hit in the only game he has ever played in Yankee Stadium when the playoffs weren’t a possibility.

    So the guy’s a winner and the guy does it the right way, and it’s a necessary tonic, given everything else we’re going to talk about.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Christine, you do sort of have to see it against the everything else, right? What do you think is the key?

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN, USA Today: Oh, absolutely, Jeff.

    And that finish, it’s a storybook finish. People will talk about that as long as they talk about the New York Yankees, that last — that hit, single, win the game, walk off, done, leave Yankee Stadium and never return. That’s — Ted Williams did that at Fenway Park in 1960. With his last at bat, he hit a home run. That is still the stuff of legend in baseball.

    And you’re right. At this time, with the NFL domestic violence story raging, and the utter disgust that so many of us have for the behavior not only of the — the alleged behavior, in some cases, of some of these athletes, but also the league, the NFL, and where are other leagues on this, to think that there’s a feel-good story, a 40-year-old guy spent his entire career with one team, and he ends that way, that’s pretty good stuff, and comes at the exact right moment in sports in this country.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You know, Mike, there’s always the other issue in this when you have a major, aging star, when to quit. When is the right moment, right? Some stay too long.

    MIKE PESCA: He nailed it. He had a terrible year this year statistically. The Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs early. And he got paid $12 million, and people criticized him.

    I just want to do the math on this. The ticket brokers say the average ticket price was $850 to his last game. Yankee Stadium holds 50,000 seats. Guess what, $43 million worth of tickets. So he went out on this great note. The guy’s timing — they don’t call him captain clutch by accident.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, I want to move to another subject that’s out there. It’s really from the sublime to something quite else.

    And this follows the suspension of football star Ray Rice after a video became public of him punching his then fiancee. On Wednesday night, this Wednesday night, Bill Simmons, a popular columnist for ESPN, speaking on his podcast, accused NFL commissioner Roger Goodell of lying about whether he’d seen or known of the video previously.

    Let’s listen to part of that.

    BILL SIMMONS, ESPN: I just think not enough is being made out the fact that they knew about the tape and they knew what was on it.

    Goodell, if he didn’t know what was on that tape, he is a liar. I’m just saying it. He’s lying. I think that dude is lying. If you put him on a lie-detector test, that guy would fail.

    (CROSSTALK)

    BILL SIMMONS: And for all these people to pretend they didn’t know is such (EXPLETIVE DELETED). It really is. It’s such (EXPLETIVE DELETED). And for him to go in that press conference and pretend otherwise, I was so insulted.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so, after that, ESPN, his employer, suspended Simmons three weeks.

    Christine, what’s your reaction?

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: You know, Jeff, if I were to launch into some profane tirade, I would expect that USA Today or whoever my employer was on that broadcast, I would expect to have them tell me that it’s time to take some time off.

    What a missed opportunity for Bill Simmons. You know, this conversation is so important in our country. And here, he’s got his podcast, and instead of having an intelligent conversation about Roger Goodell, about whether he does belong in the NFL and should keep his job or not, which is a valid point to be bringing up — so many of us are talking about that issue — instead of having this conversation in an intelligent manner, he goes off and does that?

    I’m sorry. I just think that’s a huge missed opportunity for him. And he knows better. And I would expect to have the same thing happen to me if I did something like that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And yet, Mike, a lot of reaction against ESPN, and people pointing out that the suspension of Simmons was three weeks, which was longer than the original suspension of Ray Rice.

    MIKE PESCA: Yes, I think I disagree with Christine, because I think that Bill Simmons — OK, first of all, let’s not weep for him. I’m sure he’s going to be paid. He runs the Grantland imprint. Like a publisher might have an imprint, he runs Grantland. He’s quite well-compensated.

    He’s not just popular. I would say he’s the most popular sports opinion invoice out there. And I think this brandishes his credentials as an outsider. And I also think he knew exactly what he was doing. The clip you didn’t play, he dared the bosses to suspend them. And they did.

    And I think it makes them look bad, because it’s not as if — profanity aside — and, by the way, podcasts are a different form than the medium. And you’re right. USA might not like that as much as ESPN does. ESPN allows a little bleeping in their podcasts.

    But I just think that ESPN has reported many facts that seem to indicate that Roger Goodell is being much less than truthful in this matter. And if he states it like that, a little bit raw, a little bit emotional, I think that’s kind of in keeping with the forum of a podcast and the brand of Bill Simmons.

    I think it was an overreaction with ESPN, who is in leagues with the NFL, who gets paid. They have a $15 billion contract with the NFL. And without the business considerations, I don’t see him getting suspended for that long.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, just in our last minute, Christine, I mean, one thing, whatever you think about this, one thing it does show certainly is the fraught relationship between a media company like ESPN and the NFL, so much money involved, the partnership,and yet trying to report on it at the same time.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: That’s right, Jeff. And we better get used to it, because it’s here to stay.

    And these crossed and these blurred lines, that’s where we are in media, not just obviously sports media, but all of us. And I do think that we’re going to be dealing with these issues from now on. I think Bill Simmons made it really easy for ESPN to sit him out for a few weeks.

    And bottom line is, ESPN can control who they have on their air. But it does lend to those questions about the decision-making and when you’re in business with the league and then you also have journalists.

    I will say ESPN, who I have worked with over the years and for over the years, has done a pretty good job of keeping that separate. A few examples come to mind, and maybe this another one. But it’s a conversation we are going to have as long as there’s sports television and issues in sports. There’s no doubt about that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, we will continue.

    Christine Brennan, Mike Pesca, thank you both very much.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Thank you.

    MIKE PESCA: Welcome.

    The post Jeter’s feel-good ending is ‘necessary tonic’ for sports fans appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GWEN IFILL: As tens of thousands of children have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, many of them fleeing violence and poverty in Central America, there have been a lot of questions about what will happen to them.

    But, even as they wait for their day in immigration court, many have enrolled in school.

    The NewsHour’s April Brown looks at the challenges schools and districts are facing. Her report is part of our American Graduate project.

    APRIL BROWN: At the beginning of the school year, Miami’s Riverside Elementary was already beyond capacity, and then, says principal Erica Paramore-Respress, more and more students kept showing up to enroll.

    ERICA PARAMORE-RESPRESS, Principal, Riverside Elementary School: Every day, literally, we have students that are registering. And some are from the neighborhood and some are from other places outside of the state that, but more recently outside of the country, specifically Central America.

    APRIL BROWN: More than 70 new students from Central America signed up here over the summer and during the first two weeks of school. Officials assume many of them arrived in the wave of unaccompanied minors that recently washed over this country and are awaiting a hearing in immigration court. While they wait, they go to school.

    And, according to federal law, schools are not allowed to ask about students’ immigration status. That makes it tough to plan ahead.

    WOMAN: How many of you are from Honduras? Please raise your hands.

    APRIL BROWN: Many of the new arrivals from this school may have fled drug gangs and violence in Honduras. Belkis Arias arrived from that country a couple of month ago.

    BELKIS ARIAS (through interpreter): It’s a little difficult to understand the people who speak English, but I like it here.

    APRIL BROWN: Like many other kids who just started at Riverside, Belkis doesn’t speak English. And that makes teaching lessons more time-consuming. All Riverside instructors know how to teach English as a second language. That’s not true at all schools here, but a district-wide problem is finding space for all the extra students.

    ERICA PARAMORE-RESPRESS: We have utilized every single space imaginable here in the building. And the only other way that we can continue to grow at this rate is to implement a co-teaching model which puts two teachers in one classroom. And even that has limitations because there are some classrooms that it’s just not physically possible to house two teachers in one classroom.

    APRIL BROWN: Miami-Dade is the fourth largest district in the country, and it estimates it costs an extra $2,000 per year to provide additional help to each foreign-born student.

    This year, the federal government gave Miami-Dade a $3.4 million grant to address those costs. But Superintendent Alberto Carvalho says it’s not enough to fund special services for the thousands of new arrivals from Latin America.

    ALBERTO CARVALHO, Superintendent, Miami-Dade County School District: They’re all arriving poor, facing English language limitations that are very serious, and many of them arriving are facing social and psychological needs, no doubt because of the conditions they left behind in their countries, as well as the very harrowing and traumatic journey through Mexico before crossing the border.

    APRIL BROWN: Oscar is one of the children. He was 12 when he made the journey from Honduras to the United States with his 17-year-old sister, Melissa. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world and is among the poorest countries in Latin America. Criminal gangs had threatened them both.

    STUDENT (through interpreter): He threatened to rape me or hurt us or do other terrible things if we didn’t cooperate with them.

    STUDENT (through interpreter): I also came for a reason, the drug traffickers, the crime. The traffickers were looking for kids to smuggle drugs into other countries.

    APRIL BROWN: Melissa and Oscar have asked us not to use their real names and they say the decision to flee their country was an easy one.

    STUDENT (through interpreter): I had to do it because I had no other option. If I didn’t leave my country, I don’t know what would have happened to me or my brother.

    ALBERTO CARVALHO: Whether we’re talking about the Mariel boatlift particularly involving Cuba or more recently after hurricanes or earthquake destruction in Haiti, the fact that we pick up hundreds, if not thousands of children. So we know how to do this.

    APRIL BROWN: That experience will help Miami-Dade cope with the latest influx of children, but time may test its endurance because the kids may be here quite a while.

    Melissa and Oscar, for example, were quickly apprehended when they crossed the border into Texas and were eventually released to a family member in Miami. They were fortunate to find a pro bono attorney to help them make the case for staying in the U.S. But even that may not speed things up.

    Cheryl Little is the executive director of the South Florida nonprofit Americans for Immigrant Justice.

    CHERYL LITTLE, Americans for Immigrant Justice: Cases have been backlogged for years. I mean, I think that the number now is something like 375,000 backlogged cases. We have clients who have waited years and years for their day in court. Obviously, that has to change.

    APRIL BROWN: Back at Riverside, the mood is upbeat, as the school for more students to arrive. They are trying to manage larger class sizes by having teachers become specialists.

    ERICA PARAMORE-RESPRESS: So, we have one teachers who is responsible for the reading and social studies and writing, and then the other responsible for the science and the math. So you become an expert in fewer subjects, even though you have a larger amount of students.

    APRIL BROWN: And, sometimes, they have children lead discussions. But the principal says that before anything can be taught:

    ERICA PARAMORE-RESPRESS: We need to make sure that everybody’s safe, that there is a place that is for learning. And that sets the tone, that sets the groundwork. And when these kids come in, they need to know we’re not really concerned about your immigration status. It matters not. We want you to come in and we want to teach you.

    APRIL BROWN: And she says that the school will continue to welcome new students, no matter where they come from.

    GWEN IFILL: American Graduate is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    On Saturday, most PBS stations will mark American Graduate Day with a special broadcast, featuring Education Secretary Arne Duncan, celebrities like Tony Bennett and actress Allison Williams, and many others making a difference in the lives of young people.

    This story and PBS NewsHour education coverage is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    The post Wave of child migrants pose challenges for Florida schools appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: There were signs of hope for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine today.

    But, as chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports, Ukraine’s prime minister has reservations.

    MARGARET WARNER: Relative calm now prevails across much of Eastern Ukraine, after months of heavy fighting that claimed more than 3,000 lives.

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko highlighted the turnabout yesterday.

    PRESIDENT PETRO POROSHENKO, Ukraine (through interpreter): It is the first day in many, many weeks and months when Ukrainians have not had a single person killed.

    MARGARET WARNER: On September 5, Kiev signed a cease-fire blueprint with pro-Russian separatists, including granting more autonomy to Ukraine’s eastern regions. It also calls for a buffer zone. Ukraine’s military says it met with Russian and separatist officers near Donetsk today to outline it. But the Russians deny being involved.

    They also deny supplying the separatists, nor sending Russian troops to assist, though, this summer, NATO estimated thousands of Russian combat forces were in Ukraine. This week, the alliance reported a significant drawdown of those troops.

    Meanwhile, a war of words continues. On Wednesday, President Obama told the U.N. that Russian aggression in Ukraine threatens world order.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is a vision of the world in which might makes right, a world in which one nation’s borders can be redrawn by another.

    MARGARET WARNER: In his speech, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk urged the U.S. and Europe to maintain sanctions on Russia until his country regains all its territory, including Crimea.

    I spoke with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk late yesterday in New York yesterday.

    Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for having us.

    ARSENIY YATSENYUK, Prime Minister, Ukraine: It’s a privilege for me.

    MARGARET WARNER: President Poroshenko, your president, said Thursday in Kiev that he thought the worst part of the war was behind you, that he thought actually there had been a transformation — that was his word — in Russia’s attitude toward Ukraine. Do you think so?

    ARSENIY YATSENYUK: I’m very skeptical about Russia and the Russian president. I just don’t trust them.

    I do understand their ultimate goal…

    MARGARET WARNER: Which is?

    ARSENIY YATSENYUK: … is to recreate Soviet Union to do something that resembles the Soviet-style empire.

    But we had limited options on the table. And I do understand the decision that was made by President Poroshenko to stop talks in Minsk and to unfold a cease-fire and peace plan. The thing is that whether Russia is ready to execute and to implement this plan, because, knowing them, they will just try to pick the cherry, what they want, but not — but not what’s needed.

    But, again, I am very skeptical, but it’s better to have cease-fire, rather than fire.

    MARGARET WARNER: NATO officials said this week that they had seen significant numbers of Russian troops crossing back into Russia. Does that give you confidence?

    ARSENIY YATSENYUK: We do understand that Russia, at this particular period of time, probably is interested in pulling back some forces, because Russia faced another problem.

    Pulling back forces, Russia got coffins from the Ukrainian territorial of Russian soldiers. And these severely affected Russian population and then approval rate in the Russian president. So, if it’s true, this is the good news. But, again, let’s be very cautious.

    To restore the control over the border, to pull back forces, to stop to support terrorists, these are the three preconditions for further talks.

    MARGARET WARNER: Now, do you think that President Putin, despite what he says, is feeling the squeeze of the economic sanctions, the sort of multiple sanctions by both the U.S. and the E.U., that this is one of the reasons, in addition to the body bags coming back, that he has decided to pull back?

    ARSENIY YATSENYUK: He says that he doesn’t care.

    I will say that I don’t trust that he doesn’t care. Sanctions definitely have a tough and huge negative impact all with the Russian economy. So, in the long-term prospective, we do understand that sanctions will severely squeeze the ability and the capability of Russian economy, but we need to find a short-term and quick-time solutions.

    MARGARET WARNER: President Poroshenko was in Washington late last week last week and he said — and I quote — “In the condition of war, the economy of Ukraine cannot survive.”

    Now, you’re really the man in charge of getting this economy on its feet. Do you agree with that?

    ARSENIY YATSENYUK: It’s difficult to find any economy in the world which can flourish having the war. And I can hardly imagine the way — how to attract international investors having Russian tanks and soldiers on your soil. The war is very expensive.

    MARGARET WARNER: For you?

    ARSENIY YATSENYUK: Absolutely.

    MARGARET WARNER: Now, the latest sanctions that were imposed a couple weeks ago, the U.S. and E.U. made very clear that, if President Putin carried out the 12-point peace plan, which really has to do with the situation in the east, that those particular sanctions could be lifted.

    Would you support that?

    ARSENIY YATSENYUK: Let me elaborate over the definition what does it mean for me to change the course.

    It means that we restore the control over Ukrainian territory, that we take back Crimea.

    MARGARET WARNER: That’s a big one. President Obama didn’t mention taking back Crimea.

    ARSENIY YATSENYUK: But, as far as I understand, that’s what he is thinking about.

    MARGARET WARNER: Now, let me ask you about what your parliament passed a couple of weeks ago, which was a kind of limited autonomy for these eastern regions. Is that a prelude to the dissolution of part of Ukraine?

    ARSENIY YATSENYUK: That’s what Russia wants, to get another frozen conflict in Europe. We are not allowed to legitimize this frozen conflict.

    MARGARET WARNER: But, if we look ahead, is that the first step to essentially unsettling that whole part of Ukraine, making it impossible for you to have a unified state that would be attractive, say, to the E.U.?

    ARSENIY YATSENYUK: Well, this is the Russian target. This is the Russian aim.

    Our aim is to de-escalate the situation, to empower these regions with an additional authority, but to have these regions as an integral part of Ukraine. Not an easy job, but doable.

    MARGARET WARNER: So, as a student of Ukrainian history and Russian history, what do you think it will take for Ukraine to be able to stand up to the Russian bear?

    ARSENIY YATSENYUK: Usually, in my childhood, my mom told me a number of fairy tales. And the bear is a very good animal in Ukrainian fairy tales.

    But, in reality, it’s better to have bear somewhere in the zoo.

    MARGARET WARNER: To have them in the zoo.

    Mr. Prime Minister, thank you.

    ARSENIY YATSENYUK: Thank you.

    The post Ukraine’s prime minister on obstacles to meaningful peace with Russia appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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