Articles on this Page
- 10/30/14--16:21: _Vatican sheds new l...
- 10/31/14--13:33: _What’s in a name? P...
- 10/31/14--13:57: _If high inflation i...
- 10/31/14--13:58: _Why street harassme...
- 10/31/14--14:40: _Is Burkina Faso sub...
- 10/31/14--15:08: _WATCH LIVE: Minneso...
- 10/31/14--15:10: _Taylor Swift shake,...
- 10/31/14--15:15: _Shields and Brooks ...
- 10/31/14--15:20: _Case of the missing...
- 10/31/14--15:25: _Unsolved mystery of...
- 10/31/14--15:30: _CIA and Senate batt...
- 10/31/14--15:35: _Will Burkina Faso i...
- 10/31/14--15:40: _Washington watching...
- 10/31/14--15:45: _Go inside a U.S. ho...
- 10/31/14--15:50: _News Wrap: Space to...
- 10/31/14--17:27: _Q&A with former CIA...
- 11/01/14--08:27: _Stand by your fam: ...
- 11/01/14--09:01: _Education issue com...
- 11/01/14--10:02: _Louisiana charity o...
- 11/01/14--13:24: _Federal court rulin...
- 10/30/14--16:21: Vatican sheds new light on Sistine Chapel’s masterpieces
- 10/31/14--13:57: If high inflation is not here yet, why should the Fed change course?
- 10/31/14--13:58: Why street harassment happens, and why most people just ignore it
- 10/31/14--14:40: Is Burkina Faso sub-Saharan Africa’s version of the Arab Spring?
- 10/31/14--15:08: WATCH LIVE: Minnesota Senate Debate
- 10/31/14--15:10: Taylor Swift shake, shake, shakes up a slowing music industry
- 10/31/14--15:15: Shields and Brooks on the midterm mood
- 10/31/14--15:25: Unsolved mystery of missing Mexican students sparks protest – Part 1
- 10/31/14--15:30: CIA and Senate battle over a report on interrogation tactics
- 10/31/14--15:35: Will Burkina Faso inspire more power shifts around Africa? – Part 2
- 10/31/14--15:40: Washington watching political turmoil for ally Burkina Faso – Part 1
- 10/31/14--15:45: Go inside a U.S. hospital preparing for more Ebola cases
- 10/31/14--15:50: News Wrap: Space tourism rocket crashes, killing co-pilot
- 10/31/14--17:27: Q&A with former CIA lawyer John Rizzo
- 11/01/14--08:27: Stand by your fam: Will political kin mean ballot box win?
- 11/01/14--09:01: Education issue comes to the forefront in several state races
- 11/01/14--13:24: Federal court ruling allows NYC to implement stop-and-frisk reforms
The Sistine Chapel just got a makeover. Vatican officials unveiled new state-of-the-art energy-efficient lighting and air purification systems to protect Michelangelo’s more than 500-year old frescoes. The three-year-long installation cost roughly $3.8 million.
The masterpieces have seen their fair share of deterioration over the years from the throngs of tourists who visit. The Vatican is now capping the chapel’s visitors to 6 million each year, its current level. The preservation efforts are designed to help shield the chapel from the dust and carbon dioxide those crowds leave behind.
The high-tech illumination — installed by the German firm Osram — is comprised of some 7,000 LED lights that will better highlight Michelangelo’s work as well as the chapel’s lesser-known frescoes by Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino and Domenico Ghirlandaio.
“It’s an emotional experience,” said Osram’s project leader, Mourad Boulouednine. “It’s difficult to talk in words but if you see it, many details in the frescoes, nice and wonderful colors, the plasticity and the three dimensional effect that Michelangelo has used in his figures is really outstanding.”
The head of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci, told Reuters, “I got to see the Sistine Chapel like I had never seen it before. This light allows you to see every little detail of the paintings and at the same time it allows you to grasp and experience the Sistine Chapel as a whole, in its entirety.”
As an added benefit, the modernized lighting is also expected to cut the Vatican’s energy bills by more than 80 percent.
As for the new air-conditioning system, it will direct airflow slowly through the hallowed room to avoid damaging the frescoes. The air temperature and humidity levels can also be adjusted based on data from 70 sensors in the Sistine Chapel’s walls as well as cameras monitoring visitors.
“This chapel is a unique structure so we spent a great deal of time understanding how air flows here in order to map the technology,” said John Mandyck, the chief sustainability officer for United Technologies unit Carrier which developed the air purification system. “Air flows differently here than it does, say in an office building or even another church.”
The previous air-conditioning system was installed 20 years ago, back when the chapel received only 1.5 million visitors each year.
If a trip to Vatican City isn’t in your future, you can also take a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel from the comfort of your home by visiting the Vatican’s website.
The post Vatican sheds new light on Sistine Chapel’s masterpieces appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JEFF GREENFIELD: It is a very different place. Its terrain. Its architecture. Its food. Its music. How it celebrates. How it mourns.
But for all that is unique about Louisiana, its U.S. Senate race is strikingly similar to contests from one end of the country to the other. In so many of these states, Democratic incumbents with a strong history of family political success find themselves in grave peril in good measure because of the president of their own party.
Mary Landrieu, seeking her fourth term in the United States Senate, has been in elective office for almost 35 years – more than half her life. She’s part of a family that’s been in office in this state for more than half a century.
Her father Moon was first elected to the legislature in 1960. He later served as mayor of New Orleans and as HUD Secretary under President Carter. Her brother Mitch – who entered politics more than 25 years ago – is now mayor of New Orleans.
MITCH LANDRIEU: Mary got elected when she was 23 years old. I got elected when I was 27. I think collectively everybody in my family served for about 100 years.
JEFF GREENFIELD: But her political future is in jeopardy. She’s in a very close race with physician-turned-U.S. Congressman Bill Cassidy, whose campaign seeks to tie Landrieu to a member of her political family.
CLANCY DUBOS: She is the last statewide-elected Democrat in Louisiana.
JEFF GREENFIELD: Clancy DuBos has been covering the state’s politics for more than 40 years.
CLANCY DUBOS: And she’s got Barack Obama on top of that. And it’s not impossible for her to win, by any stretch, but this is by far the toughest election she’s ever had.
JEFF GREENFIELD: It’s exactly what’s happening to Democrats in state after state. As with George W. Bush back in 2006, the president’s unpopularity – he’s barely above 40 percent nationally and well below that in key senate battlegrounds – is proving to be a very heavy burden.
In Alaska, Senator Mark Begich – son of a congressman – is being hammered by Dan Sullivan for his votes supporting President Obama. In Colorado, Senator Mark Udall – son of a congressman, nephew of an interior secretary – is trailing Cory Gardner in the polls. In Arkansas, Senator Mark Pryor – whose father was governor and senator – is struggling against Congressman Tom Cotton.
What links these campaigns is the same question: Can the family ties of these incumbents help define them as local champions, rather than as allies of an unpopular president? They also point to a striking fact about American political life. To a remarkable extent, it is and always has been a family business. It’s not just these endangered Democratic incumbents.
Andrew Cuomo, cruising to a second term as New York’s governor, is the son of a former governor. So is California’s Jerry Brown, heading for a comfortable re-election 56 years after his dad Pat first won the job.
Shelley Moore Capito, the likely next Republican senator from West Virginia, is the daughter of ex-governor Arch Moore. Georgia’s Michelle Nunn, daughter of ex-Senator Sam Nunn, is fighting for a senate seat against David Perdue, cousin of a former governor. While Jason Carter, grandson of the ex-president, is in a close race to be that state’s next governor.
All told, at least three dozen members of Congress have had family members who’ve held political office before them.
This may seem at odds with one of America’s founding ideas. The United States was born in part in rebellion against family privilege; our Constitution forbids titles of nobility, but in fact, America has had a class of political nobility almost from the beginning.
From the Adams, to the Harrisons, to the Roosevelts of New York, to the Tafts of Ohio, to the Longs of Louisiana, to the Kennedys of Massachusetts, to the Bushes of Connecticut, Texas and Florida. One generation of politicians seems to beget another. Maybe, says Moon Landrieu, it’s simply like any other business.
MOON LANDRIEU: Well, I think it’s not too different from that of any profession. I’m not trying to raise politics to a profession, but if you’re a doctor or dentist or a lawyer, your kids mostly incline that way. When I ran, my children were young so we didn’t hesitate to take them on door knocking, and they got into that posture.
JEFF GREENFIELD: But maybe, says NYU professor of political campaign management Jeanne Zaino, it’s more than that.
JEANNE ZAINO: On the one hand we celebrate the old Horatio Alger myth that if you work really hard you can make it in the United States regardless of who you are and regardless of where you came from.
But by the same token we have, you know, for a long time, embraced these kind of political families. The family name is something of a brand name, and it really helps you in the electoral process to have the name Kennedy, to now have the name Clinton, to have the name Bush.
JEFF GREENFIELD: One key advantage: There’s nothing like a well-known name to cut through the clamor of competing candidates. And at a time when campaigns are more expensive than ever – these midterms are estimated to cost some $4 billion – a familiar family name may help open not just doors, but wallets.
JEANNE ZAINO: In a process which takes a lot of money and a lot of connections, certainly today, it helps to be able to say to a donor you’re gonna need to rely on that, you know, “I’m a Kennedy. I’m a Clinton. I’m a Bush.”
JEFF GREENFIELD: That’s clearly how the embattled Democrats see it. Ad after ad features family members in Alaska, in Georgia, and in Louisiana.
Like so many of her endangered Democratic Senate colleagues, Landrieu wants to turn the argument away from Washington and back home – specifically to her clout.
As chair of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, she says, she can do more to protect Louisiana’s critical oil and gas industries. Bill Cassidy has a different view, which includes another pointed reminder of his favorite target.
BILL CASSIDY: Senator Landrieu as chairman of the energy committee has been unable to get a floor vote on a single piece of legislation. For eight months she’s been ineffective at anything but waving through Barack Obama’s appointees who attempt to regulate our jobs.
I will say, when republicans control the senate, any republican as chair of the energy committee is better for our jobs than Harry Reid and Senator Landrieu.
MARY LANDRIEU: It’s not about who the president is. It’s about who your senator is. It’s who can fight for you even when you know with a president who may not be as broadly popular, even when Katrina hits, even when Rita hits, even when the right-wing Tea Party comes at you and wants to tear the government down.
So I feel very, you know, yes, it would be wonderful to have you know a party and a president that was more popular but this is not my toughest race.
JEFF GREENFIELD: There is one distinctive Louisiana twist to this campaign that could prove highly significant. Alone among the 50 states what Louisiana will hold on November 4th is actually a primary – an open so called jungle primary in which every senate candidate regardless of party appears on the same ballot.
If no one gets 50 percent then the top two finishers compete in a December 6th runoff. And a runoff is all but certain. Retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness – running as another Republican in the race – is likely to get close to 10 percent of the vote, which means that it would take a month to find out who is Louisiana’s next senator and maybe who controls the United States Senate.
Meanwhile ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – son of one president, brother of another – mulls a possible presidential bid of his own, as his son George P. Bush heads toward likely election as Texas Land Commissioner.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul – son of a former Texas congressman – is also eyeing the White House as is the spouse of another former president. And Robert Kennedy’s 34-year-old grandson Joseph Kennedy III is on his way to another term in the U.S. House.
So whatever the fate of Landrieu and the other embattled second generation Democratic incumbents, the family business of American politics is very much alive and well.
The post What’s in a name? Political family ties may nudge wins in battleground states appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Editor’s Note: With all eyes on the Federal Reserve this week as they ended their bond-buying program, we’ve been highly attuned to their decision making process, and in particular, how their expectations as a central bank are different from those of other central banks.
The Fed has to fulfill two mandates — maintaining stable prices and full employment — while the European Central Bank, for example, and the Bank of Japan, which just increased their quantitative easing purchases Friday, only have to worry about one: Keeping inflation in check.
The damned-if-we-do, damned-if-we-don’t pressure that comes along with the Fed’s two, often divergent goals, is the subject of econo-crooner Merle Hazard’s latest central bank ballad, “Dual Mandate.”
Merle’s lyrics, which you can read in full here, illustrate the left-right split coloring this monetary debate.
The right says I should tighten up on credit
To keep the risk of inflation nice and low
But the left, and many economic scholars, are urgin’ me to print more dollars
I’m torn between the two ways I could go
On the left is New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who doesn’t think the Fed is achieving either of their mandates and would have liked to have seen them continue their bond buying last longer since employment rates and wages are still depressed.
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“The average Joe’s not overjoyed if he’s destitute, and unemployed,” Merle sings.
“That’s correct,” Columbia professor Charles Calomiris tells Paul Solman, “But we have to ask: How is he benefiting from the current environment of high stocks, high bond prices?” Some economists have argued that loose monetary policy has simply created a bubble on Wall Street (and indeed, stocks plunged in the summer of 2013 when the Fed hinted it was ending quantitative easing), while leaving Main Street out in the cold. “If he has a savings account in the bank,” Calomiris continues about the average Joe, “he’s earning very little interest.”
Easy monetary policy, monetary hawks fear, can contribute to rising inflation, which, if above the Fed’s 2 percent target, would violate their mandate. “Ultimately,” Calomiris continues, “inflation is a very regressive tax that mainly harms low income people.”
But as Paul Krugman would argue, we haven’t seen dangerous inflation — it’s still below the Fed’s target. So what’s all the huff about inflation, especially when employment is still not where it needs to be?
Yes, employment is important, Calomiris says. In fact, he argues, it’s all conservatives really care about. The trade-off between policy mandates that Merle’s “Dual Mandate” bemoans doesn’t actually exist, Calomiris thinks, because controlling inflation is really just a means to achieving maximum employment.
The danger, Calomiris fears, is that the Fed’s bloated balance sheet will lead to inflation, and the Fed won’t be able to deal with it in time, and then where will the unemployed be? “Look at where inflation’s gotten out of control,” he says, pointing to Brazil in the 1980s. “You’ve actually seen some revolutionary responses by low income people to it.”
Calomiris makes his point about easy money to Paul Solman in Wednesday’s broadcast, which you can watch below:
To understand more about why we should fear inflation, read Calomiris’ edited conversation with Paul Solman below.
– Simone Pathe, Making Sen$e Editor
Paul Solman: So the philosophy of the Federal Reserve is to have a dual mandate: worry about unemployment on the one hand, and worry about inflation on the other. Makes sense doesn’t it?
Charles Calomiris: You might say it would make more sense to only worry about employment in the long run. That’s all we really care about. But the reason we focus on inflation, and should focus more on it, is because it’s a tool, a tactic, to achieve full employment.
All that we care about, ultimately, is employment and production. But the point is that if the Fed were focused on employment and production too much, it would end up not achieving, in some long-run sense, its goals in employment and production.
People like [former Fed chair] Paul Volcker and myself, and many others who’ve called for the Fed to focus much more on inflation as a targeting variable, are arguing that by doing so, they’ll achieve more employment in the long term. So it’s really a strategic question, not a question of what the objectives should be.
But even in the short run, when we’re targeting inflation, which is the right thing to be focused on to achieve long-run employment and production maximization, we might want to not so aggressively target inflation that we cause unnecessary short-term volatility in the labor markets.
Paul Solman: So the idea is you keep inflation low to keep the economy humming, and then there’ll be more employment, more production, yes?
Charles Calomiris: Absolutely. Long-term low inflation has been clearly shown to maximize employment and production.
But if you start doing things that are very unpredictable, you also can cause more instability and unemployment and inflation as a result of the confusion you create. So part of the story is not just that we want to actually have prices fairly stable, but we also want people to understand what the monetary authority’s doing.
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Right now, many people, including myself, have a hard time figuring out what the Fed’s really thinking and what their short-term objectives are. The Fed has been changing its views about whether unemployment is an adequate measure of the condition of the labor market. Now it’s not just unemployment – it’s labor participation – it’s like it’s whatever seems convenient.
You can take any piece of economic news and spin it one way or the other. Oil prices are low – that sounds like great news. But then people say: Oh, that means the oil market’s worried about things. It could be. Or the dollar’s high – that means our exports are going to fall. But the problem, of course, is that you can tell the story the opposite way too.
What’s worrying is when the Fed seems to go back and forth and say, “Oh, today we’re going to look at the dollar. Tomorrow we’re going to look at consumer confidence. The next day we’re going to look at the… you name it.” You get the feeling that they don’t really have a clear objective that I can rely on, or that other people can rely on, to plan our lives.
Paul Solman: But why in the world should the Fed worry about inflation now? Inflation is going down, actually, in the last producer price index report, and it’s been hovering at 1.5 percent or so for a year or more.
Charles Calomiris: I don’t think that the Fed should be worrying about inflation as something that’s likely to change a lot over the next six months or year at all. And, by the way, inflation forecasts are pretty stable going out about 10 years at around 2 percent. So the Fed, at least currently, has the market’s confidence that it is going to achieve somewhere between 1.5 and 2 percent inflation for the foreseeable future.
The problem is with the Fed’s balance sheet, how much stuff it has bought…
Paul Solman: And created new money to buy it.
Charles Calomiris: Exactly. The Fed has purchased something like $1.7 trillion of mortgage-backed securities and a very large amount of long-term Treasury securities. It’s grown its balance sheet from under a trillion to four times that, just in a few years. This is a pretty unprecedented change.
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The reason that hasn’t caused inflation yet and might never cause inflation is because the private sector hasn’t multiplied that Federal Reserve money creation by creating deposits and loans as it normally would. There’s normally a ratio of the private sector’s money creation relative to the Fed’s. But that relationship has temporarily broken down, as it has sometimes in the past.
When we go back to that ratio or get closer to it, all of a sudden we have a major risk of inflation. And then the question is: Well, can the Fed move quickly enough to shrink its balance sheet or do something else to prevent that inflation?
Now, the problem here is the Fed has recognized, I think, that it’s going to be difficult to shrink its balance sheet. In fact, it’s announced that the $1.7 trillion mortgage-backed securities that have over 20-year maturities, it’s not planning to sell at all. So that makes you kind of wonder: How is the Fed going to react to the normalization of that ratio between the private money and the Fed’s money?
Paul Solman: In other words, how’s the Fed going to react if suddenly there is inflation and they aren’t going to try to lower the money supply by selling those mortgage-backed securities they’ve got in the market?
Charles Calomiris: Precisely. Now, the Fed has said it has some other tools up its sleeve – like paying interest on reserves – these are things that haven’t been really tried before.
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There are two questions. One is a technical question of whether, given how the Fed has loaded its balance sheet, it’s going to be able to really shrink that balance sheet as needed, or come up with some alternative fancy new methods that are going to substitute for that. And then the other question that I think is really very germane is in this highly politicized Fed environment, will the Fed really be willing to do that?
Janet Yellen was just pictured with some unemployed people, by the way. What message is she sending out? And why would a Fed chairman do this – it’s unprecedented. And I think this is a symbol, an indicator, of how highly charged the political environment is right now that could weigh against the Fed doing the right thing.
Yellen selfie pic.twitter.com/MkI0lXzVJR
— Pedro da Costa (@pdacosta) October 29, 2014
But Where’s the Inflation?
Paul Solman: I’ve been waiting for you to say: What do you mean, there’s no inflation? There’s inflation in the stock market, or in the commodities market, or in the real estate market. There is inflation, but we just don’t see it in prices.
Charles Calomiris: Absolutely, asset prices have been inflated. For example, farm land is probably 30 percent, on average, overvalued. I think the stock market was overvalued, which is why it has come down. Some elements of the bond market, too, variable annuity pricing, real estate, especially some commercial real estate.
There’s research looking at the effect of monetary policy on asset price bubble formation, and it’s completely conclusive. The evidence is when the Fed expands the money supply, the behavior toward risk becomes much more forgiving. People are willing to bear risk for less compensation. The riskiness of loan portfolios and the quantity of lending tends to go up.
The quantity of lending hasn’t really gone up because regulation, especially capital requirements on banks and other things, have kept lending back so far. But that’s a temporary phenomenon and when that phenomenon reverses, you’re going to get the private money creation relative to the Fed’s balance sheet restored to its more average historical relationship.
Paul Solman: But right now, the bond market is forecasting an inflation rate of less than 2 percent over the next 10 years in this country. Are you suggesting that the bond market is wrong and you’re right to be worried?
Charles Calomiris: Being worried isn’t the same as forecasting a higher average inflation rate. I’m worried that inflation could go higher than 2 percent if the Fed doesn’t, on a timely basis, exit from this very loose monetary policy when it needs to. My own feeling is this is a big risk. Doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to happen.
My view was that QE3 was actually not a good bet, precisely because it raised the possibility of a big inflation risk for a very small payoff. But that’s not the same as saying that I know or even am willing to forecast that the Fed will definitely let us down.
Paul Solman: I wasn’t talking to you a few years ago, but I’m betting that you were predicting a significant rise in inflation could be right around the corner, no?
Charles Calomiris: Yes, and it could have been right around the corner. The question is when will we get back to that growth in bank lending? I wasn’t forecasting whether it was going to happen in two years or four years or six years. The point is, it hasn’t happened yet. When it happens, that’s when the Fed gets tested.
Paul Solman: So do you feel a little contrite, perhaps, about having been a fiscal Chicken Little?
Charles Calomiris: No, I don’t feel contrite because the Fed has justified in its behavior and it statements exactly what I predicted would happen; that is that the Fed is not able to shrink its balance sheet and they say they have other tools. The point is the risk is there, which was my point all along.
Calomiris graded Ben Bernanke’s tenure at the Fed on the NewsHour in January.
The post If high inflation is not here yet, why should the Fed change course? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
A viral video thrusted the issue of street harassment into the spotlight this week. Viewed more than 23.5 million times on YouTube since being posted four days ago, the video, by the activist group Hollaback!, shows one woman being harassed more than 100 times in 10 hours while walking in New York City:
Shoshana B. Roberts was harassed more than 100 times during a 10-hour walk through New York City. Video by Hollaback!
According to a nationally representative survey commissioned by the advocacy group Stop Street Harassment, 65 percent of U.S. women said they have experienced this form of harassment, which takes place in public spaces and can involve anything from catcalls to forced sexual interaction. Among U.S. men, one-quarter said they have experienced street harassment. The survey also showed that non-white individuals and people who identify as gay, lesbian or transgender are more likely to say they have experienced street harassment.
What compels people to harass others on the street?
While few people actually admit to committing street harassment, the act is often done with the intent to frighten or dominate the targeted individual, said Laura Beth Nielsen, a sociologist, lawyer and Northwestern University professor who explores the role of street harassment in society.
For example, when a stranger on the street comments on a woman’s appearance, it is often done quietly and is “designed to be invisible to other people around,” she said. “The experience of the woman is that you don’t know where that’s going, and a lot of times, you may feel violated or threatened.”
Typically, people who are targeted by street harassment do not respond, as if ignoring the behavior. Comparable harassment on the Internet receives similar responses, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, which found that 60 percent of those who have faced online harassment “decided to ignore their most recent incident.”
As with online harassment, street harassment is about “crossing boundaries,” says Holly Kearl, founder of the advocacy group, Stop Street Harassment.
Much as parents advise their children to ignore school bullies, people choose to avoid confronting street harassment because “that’s what we’ve learned to do, and we don’t know how else to respond,” she said.
Fear that a response might escalate the situation often keeps the targeted individual quiet. Of women who said they have been harassed in the Stop Street Harassment survey, more than two-thirds said they were at least somewhat concerned that the harassment would become more aggressive. Time of day, location and the presence of other people also make a difference in how people respond, Nielsen said.
In her research, Nielsen said those targeted by street harassment often say that they modify their behavior as a result of the harassment: wearing headphones, changing how they dress, walking a different path or altering their modes of transportation.
“There are real-life consequences, excluding women from certain areas of the public,” Nielsen said.
Grassroots social movements have been organized to stem the behavior that leads to street harassment through education programs and public service announcements, she said.
The Hollaback! video is one manifestation of that effort. However, the video has been criticized for focusing on incidents of street harassment committed by non-white individuals. This led to the group issuing an apology that said they “regret the unintended racial bias in the editing of the video that over represents men of color.” Kearl said more research is needed to understand the role of race and location in street harassment.
At its essence, street harassment is a cultural norm, Kearl said, something that children grow up seeing in cartoons and in media.
“No country has achieved gender equality to date,” she said. “This is one more symptom of that, one more manifestation.”
The post Why street harassment happens, and why most people just ignore it appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore stepped down Friday to massive celebrations after his failed attempts to extend his 27-year reign. Hard economic times and youth unemployment were factors in his overthrow, but the upheaval doesn’t mark the beginning of Africa’s Arab Spring, two analysts say.
“I think what has happened in sub-Saharan Africa is entirely different from what has been happening in the Arab world,” said Ambassador Johnnie Carson, senior adviser to the president of the U.S. Institute of Peace and former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African Affairs.
In sub-Saharan Africa, he said, there’s more of a pre-existing institutional desire for democracy — dating back to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 — that didn’t exist in most Arab countries, which were starting from scratch.
“You have seen the introduction of new constitutions, many of them with term limits,” said Carson. “We have seen multiparty elections, we have seen an opening up of a political space for opposition groups, for civil society and for the media” in sub-Saharan Africa.
In Burkina Faso specifically, people want democratic institutions and their leaders to adhere to them, he said. “Compaore’s attempt to roll back the constitution is seen as an attempt to further empower himself and change himself from an elected African president to an inherited chieftainship.”
It’s true that people in Burkina Faso wanted the same things as the Arab Spring countries in North Africa, including basic services, access to education, health care and jobs, good infrastructure, security and peace, said John Mukum Mbaku, a nonresident senior fellow with the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative and an economics professor at Weber State University in Utah.
But the revolution in Burkina Faso, dating back to 2000, was different because religion didn’t play a role as it did in the Arab Spring, said Mbaku. Religion is a “complicating factor” in places like Egypt, he said, where President Mohammed Morsi and his religious-oriented government were overturned.
If Burkina Faso wants to learn from the Arab Spring, he continued, it will have to construct institutions so the government is guided by the rule of law, rather than an individual.
Compaore believed that without him the country would fall apart, Mbaku said, but if you have good institutions that are functioning and strong, no matter who is in office, democracy will survive, he said.
“This is a test case for democracy not only in Burkina Faso but across Africa,” said Carson. Other African leaders who have been in power for several decades will see how Burkina Faso’s people reacted when Compaore tried to extend his rule, and they might think twice about doing the same, he said.
Burkina Faso’s next elections are planned for 2015.
The post Is Burkina Faso sub-Saharan Africa’s version of the Arab Spring? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Minnesota’s U.S. Senate candidates will meet for one last debate at 8 p.m. EST (7 p.m. CT) on Sunday, Nov. 2, just two days out from Election Day.
Incumbent Sen. Al Franken (DFL) will defend his record against opponent Mike McFadden (R) live from Minnesota Public Radio’s Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minn. Kerri Miller and Cathy Wurzer, two program hosts for MPR, will moderate.
Franken, a former comedian and writer for Saturday Night Live, squeaked into office by 312 votes in 2009, after a lengthy recount and court battle. He has since taken up a classically progressive stance within the Senate, notably writing provisions into the Affordable Care Act.
McFadden is a businessman and political newcomer. Since winning handily in the primaries, he has focused on Franken’s record of backing President Obama’s policies, calling his opponent “the most partisan Senator in the Democratic Party.”
Until recently, that tactic didn’t appear to be working: in September, McFadden was still down by 13 points. But a new poll out this week shows Franken’s edge has narrowed to single digits, with McFadden gaining among independents.
It’s relatively unusual to debate the weekend before Election Day. Many voters have made up their minds by now, and campaigns typically conduct their final outreach efforts now, to ensure high turnout.
But if the candidates’ most recent meeting in Minneapolis is any indication, there are still plenty of issues to discuss out in the Gopher State. Sparks flew at that debate, with both men interrupting and occasionally shouting at one another over health care, tax policy, and negative campaign ads.
McFadden later paid to replay the debate in its entirety as a campaign ad of sorts.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: how to achieve platinum status in the ever-changing music business and at a time when the album as we once knew it no longer sells.
Pop superstar Taylor Swift and her team have found a successful formula. But can it be duplicated? And what does it say about the industry and how we consume music now?
Once again, we turn to Jeffrey Brown, who has the story.
JEFFREY BROWN: This week, Taylor Swift is back on top. Her new album, “1989,” named for the year she was born, debuted Monday and is on track to sell a million copies in its first week.
It’s not just the only record to do so this year, but it’s triple the mark of the second bestselling album by the band Coldplay. And the million sales in the first week is a feat not accomplished since Swift’s last platinum album, 2012′s “Red.”
For the music industry as a whole, which has seen a 14 percent drop in album sales just from last year, it’s a shot in the arm heading into the big holiday season.
Zack O’Malley Greenburg covers the industry for “Forbes.”
ZACK O’MALLEY GREENBURG, Forbes: For the music business, it’s always important to have these kind of tentpole albums going into the holiday season, ones that you can point to and say that this is the big seller of the year and this is going to be a hot kind of gift item.
JEFFREY BROWN: Swift has always held crossover appeal, but “1989″ marks her official move from Nashville darling to New York pop queen, a move that has its own risks, says Washington Post music critic Chris Richards.
CHRIS RICHARDS, The Washington Post: This came as a big declaration that she was now going to be a pop artist with a capital P.
I think it’s shrewd as a business position to try to appeal to that larger audience, but part of what made her such a superstar is the fact that she was both a massive pop star and someone that people thought they could relate to personally.
JEFFREY BROWN: And while she has vocal critics, and addresses them head on, few dispute Swift’s mastery of today’s music and marketing. She first teased this new album’s release during a Yahoo! live event in August, appeared on “Rolling Stone” magazine’s September cover, and this week has shown up all over TV and online, at all hours, for interviews and live performances for huge crowds.
She’s also spurned music-streaming sites like Spotify and instead partnered with retail giant Target to distribute the C.D.
NARRATOR: There’s only one place to get more Taylor.
ZACK O’MALLEY GREENBURG: I think the strategy that Taylor Swift and her team are using by not releasing the album onto streaming sites yet is one that we have seen other superstar acts use before, which is to make sure they get every opportunity to get actual unit sales, instead of, you know, kind of fractions of pennies per stream.
JEFFREY BROWN: In many ways, it’s a very traditional marketing campaign, contrasting the more recent trend of releasing albums without any advanced promotion.
CHRIS RICHARDS: You can see artists like Beyonce and U2 which in the past year have both used really bold sort of stunt-like album release tactics. Taylor Swift used a totally old-school music biz, old-fashioned promotion-publicity cycle to promote this new album, and it’s working. And I think it’s working because of the intimacy that she’s formed with her fans over the years.
JEFFREY BROWN: Very new-school, though, is Swift’s use of social media in all its various platforms, engaging with her fans on a very personal level via her own Web site, Facebook page, Tumblr and Instagram, as well as her Twitter feed, replete with photos of fans who have bought the new album.
She’s enlisted other popular young stars to help her promote it, with musician Lorde and actor, writer and producer Lena Dunham both tweeting their endorsements to their many followers.
But Swift’s success comes amid enormous upheaval for the music industry as a whole, with a continuing move away from album sales, to downloads and now to streaming services like Spotify and others, where musicians and labels say they earn far less.
Zack O’Malley Greenburg’s “Forbes” article suggested that “1989″ could be the last platinum album ever, at least the way things are measured now.
ZACK O’MALLEY GREENBURG: And as long as platinum is measured as the total actual albums sold, as opposed to streamed, the numbers are just going to keep down and down and down, as more and more people move the bulk of their consumption to services like Spotify.
JEFFREY BROWN: In the meantime, while Taylor Swift and a few others sing their way to the bank, music writer Chris Richards says other artists have a hard time breaking through.
CHRIS RICHARDS: If you’re not a Taylor Swift, life is very, very difficult.
But, at the same time, I do — I’m a believer in the access to the Internet. And in a lot of ways, it’s amazing. Anybody can put their music online, it can be heard around the world. It’s getting attention that is the issue now. And access is unprecedented, but how musicians can sort of corral attention is the great mystery of our time.
JEFFREY BROWN: The official designation of “1989″ as platinum would come from the industry sales tracker Nielsen SoundScan by the middle of next week.
The post Taylor Swift shake, shake, shakes up a slowing music industry appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And to politics now and the final stretch of campaigning, with Election Day just four days away.
Plenty of heavy hitters were on the trail this week, from former President Bill Clinton in Kentucky, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Iowa, Mitt Romney in Kansas, Jeb Bush in Colorado, and lots of others.
So what should we be watching heading into this final weekend?
Joining us now are Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
We can’t wait. We’re almost there.
Mark, we’re heading into the last few days.
MARK SHIELDS: What?
JUDY WOODRUFF: What does your gut…
MARK SHIELDS: Don’t tell me it’s over.
MARK SHIELDS: I — can we have another week, please?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that what you’re thinking?
MARK SHIELDS: Can we stay up late tonight, Judy? Can we stay up late?
JUDY WOODRUFF: What are your sources and what does your gut does tell?
MARK SHIELDS: My gut — and when my gut speaks, I listen to it.
MARK SHIELDS: It’s a — I would say Republicans have to feel better than Democrats do heading into Tuesday.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Senate races.
MARK SHIELDS: Senate races. The governor’s races, I think, are races that stand far less on partisan grounds and more mano a mano, if I can use the sexist term, on individual records, and incumbents’ judgment.
But the Senate, it’s not only the terrain. The Republicans are playing on a home field with a big advantage politically. But it’s the mood and it’s for the Republicans and against the Democrats.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What’s your instinct?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. My gut is with Mark’s gut.
DAVID BROOKS: I have the same feeling.
All the models say the Republicans are likely to take over the Senate. A couple of things, one, ticket-splitting. There used to be a lot of people ticket-splitting. They would vote for a Democrat up here, Republican down there, vice versa. That just happens less.
One of the reasons is, the electorate is more educated. The more educated a person, the less likely their ticket splits.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Interesting.
DAVID BROOKS: College apparently teaches people to think less.
No, they’re more ideological. They give themselves ideological labels. Obama’s a drag. If you look at his numbers in a lot of these states, where he was with groups like women and Latinos, he’s come down a lot, and so it’s just a big drag. There are a lot of undecided voters out there.
And my newspaper had a story today suggesting the early voting, there are some good signs for Democrats, so it’s not a lock. But when the country’s unhappy, the president is in a sixth year, it doesn’t take — it’s not brain surgery that the out party is going to do OK.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What are you watching for here at the end, Mark?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, the first two in — I’m looking at New Hampshire and North Carolina, Jeanne Shaheen, Democratic incumbent in New Hampshire, and Kay Hagan, Democratic, embattled in North Carolina.
Obama carried New Hampshire twice. Jeanne Shaheen has been favored. Scott Brown, the transplant from Massachusetts, has narrowed that race. It’s a tossup. I would say if Jeanne Shaheen and Kay Hagan win, the two Democrats in those two states, then the Republican sweep is nonexistent in 2014.
But, beyond that, Judy, I have to look at the states that the president did carry where Democrats are running, Iowa, Colorado. If the Democrats lose those, I think that’s significant and it will indicate that the Republicans are having a very good evening.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that what you’re seeing?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I actually was hoping to give the same answer.
You know, the Republicans will do well in the red states. They’re probably going to do well in Arkansas, places like that, West Virginia, obviously, probably Louisiana, but if the victory — winning over your own people is good. It’s not a huge victory.
So they could do that and still even win the Senate, but if they can get in these purple states, then they’re really showing — they’re breaking out of their pattern, and their pattern has been, especially over the last four years, is they’re toxic. People, even some traditional Republicans, are unhappy with the Republican Party.
But has the party detoxified themselves? Have they returned from sort of a Tea Party, which generates intensity, but scares a lot of people? Are they now seen again as sort of a business party that maybe will get the economy going? And if they start winning some of those purple states, the North Carolinas of the world, or even if Scott Walker wins in Wisconsin in the governor’s race there, then you begin to think, OK, they have improved their image with some of the swing voters.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David kind of began to answer this question a minute ago, but, Mark, I want to turn on its head.
A lot of talk about how much trouble the Democrats are in. But as both of you point out, they are fighting on territory that is pretty red. These are states, many of these states, that Mitt Romney won by double digits, some 23, 27 points in West Virginia a couple of years ago.
So you — if you turn the question on its head, you could say why aren’t Republicans running away with some of these races in the states where Democrats…
MARK SHIELDS: It’s a good question.
And my only answer would be that the first time I was on Capitol Hill, an old-timer took me aside and was looking at some kind of down-at-the-heels congressman. And he said, see that guy? And he said, he knows more about pork belly futures than anybody in his state.
And he went on and said, everybody that’s in this body, House or the Senate, has something going for them, and it’s up to you to figure out what it is, because there are at least 1,000 or maybe 5,000 people in the state of ability and ambition who would like to have that seat.
So the Democrats who are holding those seats are gifted political operatives. They have survived in hostile territory, Mary Landrieu and Mark Pryor. They have managed to do it. And the fact that their — that time and tradition and trends are running against them makes it even tougher for them.
But, I mean, you have got to acknowledge that these are skilled, able people who have performed satisfactorily to the voters of those states.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
DAVID BROOKS: Landrieu in particular has pulled rabbits out of the hat on numerous, a couple of occasions. Coming up, it might be too uphill.
I would say the other thing — and here’s a substantive point — the Republicans don’t have a growth agenda. The Democrats don’t have it either. But if you look at where the polling is on issue by issue, people still think the Democrats are more like them.
They do like the Republican positions on spending. They do like the Republican positions on Obamacare, but the number one issue is who can create jobs and who can create growth.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
DAVID BROOKS: And you would not say that the Republicans have come forward with some agenda to do that. I’m not sure Democrats have either. But without that positive agenda, it’s hard to get a big wave going.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of growth, we’re looking at an economy now that is — what, they put out GDP numbers the other day. It’s growing at 3.5 percent, more than it has in years. The unemployment, the rate is the lowest, Mark, it’s been in years. Wages are finally showing some life. They’re started to come up, consumer confidence up.
And yet none of this is translating into good news for the party in power.
MARK SHIELDS: No.
There’s an irony. The stock market, just take the Dow Jones average, is up 10,000 points since Barack Obama has been in the White House. And you’re right. The last six months have been the best six months of growth in the past 11 years. So it really is good news.
The problem is, Judy, that’s big picture. And people don’t feel it. The median income, family income, has been down every year since 2006. It is lower now than it was in 2000, in the year 2000. The share of wealth that goes to the top, 1 percent in the country has doubled.
And so there’s a sense that the rising tide has lifted all yachts. But it hasn’t lifted all boats. And that’s really what it is. It’s not a knock on the overall big economy. It’s what my life is, where my own chances of success and providing for my children or my family are, if anything, more threatened than they were.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Because you have all these statistics on the one hand. But, David, on the other hand, two-thirds of voters are saying they don’t like the direction the country is headed in.
DAVID BROOKS: Right.
Well, first of all, there’s an economic lag here. The growth rate really has to be going in August, September, July for people to notice in an election. Historically, there’s been a period. It has to — you have to get a bunch of months where the confidence is going up.
Second, do people feel, well, I can leave my — the job which I’m kind of unhappy with and there will be other opportunities around? They don’t feel that, not at the same wages. So, until that happens, they are going to feel bad, because they know their own personal experience.
Third, I think there’s a feeling that we’re weak abroad. I think there’s more foreign policy in this election than recent elections. And there’s a sense we’re not strong on the world. There’s a lot going on in the world that we are not controlling.
And then finally, the president — and this feeds into that — doesn’t seem to be shaping agendas. And maybe it’s impossible. Maybe it’s an unrealistic expectation to expect him to, but the Obama drag really is the core thing here. People are seeing the president, 38 approval on the economy and foreign policy. That’s the core thing, disappointment.
MARK SHIELDS: I disagree. I think it’s more of an economic election than a national security election.
And I’m not arguing that that question of certainly lack of confidence or doubt has increased in the White House, but the basic concern is that of the economy. And I think that that’s the irony, is that these big, good numbers you have cited don’t translate into support for the president.
I mean, 10 million more people have health care than had it a year-and-a-half ago. It’s a — really, the great legacy you can make, a great statement about transformational presidency, but it’s not much of a help if you’re a Democrat running in a — any kind of hostile area.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Because it makes you want to ask, do statistics lie? Do they just not mean anything for people?
DAVID BROOKS: The ones I disagree with lie.
DAVID BROOKS: No, a lot of it is everything is pros and cons, but there is an overall feel.
And maybe the country is wrong. Maybe they should be more cheered up. I could easily make that case. If you compare the way we were in the ’70s, the ’30s, the ’40s, worse problems than now, but there’s a general sense our institutions are not working. And that may be a mood, it may be a perception. I think there’s some substance to it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s a — we have talked a lot in this campaign over the last few months about how negative the campaign is. Ads are just over the top, negative, mudslinging just about everywhere in the contested states.
So, my last question to both of you is, what do you see out there that’s uplifting and makes you feel better about the country, Mark, as we go into this midterm election?
MARK SHIELDS: That lieutenant governor’s race in Montana.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s a long silence.
MARK SHIELDS: Judy, it’s a good question, and I wish I had a good answer for it.
I’m not charged up or encouraged by what I have seen. The negative commercials which, we’re careful now, and uncoordinated between the independent groups and the candidates, where I savage you through the independents group, and then I can talk about fields and what a wonderful person I am in my own campaign contributions, that to me is a creation of the devil.
And the final cost of negative commercials is, it depresses turnout. It depresses — it says there really is nothing that you are going to do to change. It erodes confidence in our public institutions and ourselves. And I just really think that the consequences are enormous.
So I should be cheered. There was one bumper sticker I saw in Harrisburg — no, that. But go ahead.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Nothing uplifting?
MARK SHIELDS: I can’t — I can’t see — Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado, the fact that he’s not running any negative commercials, if he wins, then maybe that will be encouraged.
Politics is a very imitative and derivative business, I can tell you. And if somebody wins not running negative commercials, then that’s a positive. It really is.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Hickenlooper has gone from very positive to like neck and neck.
MARK SHIELDS: I know. That’s right.
DAVID BROOKS: We will see.
I would think in general — I can’t pick you a great race, because they’re all doing the same thing. TV stations’ owners are getting really rich, but the governor’s races are better than the Senate races.
I’m struck that we are polarized in the country, but there are still so many states where you really have close governor’s races.
MARK SHIELDS: Very close.
DAVID BROOKS: Florida, even Wisconsin. Illinois even is kind of close.
And so that shows there is still some political competition, as Mark said.
MARK SHIELDS: Georgia.
DAVID BROOKS: Georgia.
These are races being fought more on policy than the national races.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s always uplifting having the two of you here on Friday night.
MARK SHIELDS: I’m sorry. I feel like I let you down.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You did let me down, Mark.
MARK SHIELDS: I did. Thank you, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you.
And a reminder, finally: Tune in Tuesday night for our election coverage. It will include a special report at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.
HARI SREENIVASAN: For more on all this, we turn now to Wall Street Journal Dudley Althaus in Mexico City.
So, we have heard that there have been a number of arrests. What’s the latest?
DUDLEY ALTHAUS, The Wall Street Journal: Well, latest is there have been a number of arrests in the past few days.
They’re up to about 57, according to officials. Most of them are local police from Iguala and the nearby town of Cocula. And then some local officials of the Guerreros Unidos gang.
The latest today is the interior minister of Mexico has announced that they are still looking for the students alive. That was a demand from the parents of the students two days ago when they met with President Pena Nieto.
Today in Iguala, there was a banner that appeared near the army base near the police headquarters saying that those students were indeed still alive and that the entire investigation has been a sham.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Human Rights Watch estimates that there have been some 20,000 disappearances over the last eight years. Why are these particular kidnappings of these students resonating across Mexico?
DUDLEY ALTHAUS: Well, I think, for one, the number, the sheer numbers.
And, besides, these kids had a reputation for kind of troublemaking, political agitation. But they’re basically innocent. They’re apart from the drug war, as far as anyone knows. And the sheer number of these students disappearing. Plus, in the past few years, President Pena Nieto has been saying — been assuring the country that basically the worst of the violence is behind it and that they’re basically moving on.
He’s been really trying to promote a message of economic development, investment and stability. This kind of just shook everybody up.
HARI SREENIVASAN: We have also heard that the mayor of the town and his wife are on the run, that they may be in on this. What does this say about how difficult it is to root out the corruption that might be inside these small towns and also working with the cartels?
DUDLEY ALTHAUS: Well, really, that’s the most important backstory of all of this.
The government — and the past government as well, but the current government as well has been really trying to take down major drug lords. Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa cartel — the head of the Juarez cartel was just arrested.
But what’s happened was, there is a lot of smaller gangs, smaller groups that still exist all throughout the bad areas of Mexico. And they have just been kind of lying low and really dominating local towns. It doesn’t take much to dominate a small city or a small town in areas like Guerrero or even up along the border, along the U.S.-Mexican border.
So that’s been kind of ignored in the past two years. And I think this underscores the fact that these are very dangerous situations in a lot of parts of Mexico.
HARI SREENIVASAN: As you said, this has escalated into a national situation, so what’s next for the federal government? What’s the Mexican president likely to do?
DUDLEY ALTHAUS: It’s been five weeks now since these students disappeared. Something’s got to give, or it starts working against — badly, working badly against the government.
So, I think they’re going to redouble their efforts. I think they’re trying to, as far as it goes. But, I mean, you know, it’s — they have 57 people in custody. It’s a relatively small area, although Guerrero is a big state.
Most of Mexico, I think, thinks it can’t be that hard to find these students. So, the government has got to come up with something very quickly, or it’s losing credibility every day, I think.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, The Wall Street Journal Dudley Althaus in Mexico City, thanks so much.
DUDLEY ALTHAUS: Thank you.
The post Case of the missing student activists underscores dangerous corruption in Mexico – Part 2 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn now to Mexico for a disturbing story of dozens of college students gone missing and the hunt to find what happened to them.
Hari Sreenivasan reports.
HARI SREENIVASAN: It’s become an increasingly common sight across Guerrero province in Southern Mexico: police searching for the possible mass grave of 43 college students who vanished more than a month ago. Their case has grabbed nationwide attention, but so far has yielded more questions than answers.
Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam:
JESUS MURILLO KARAM, Attorney General, Mexico (through interpreter): We have been very careful about giving precise information, to not speculate, to work with facts and not imagination. And this is why the information that we give is exactly at the stage that it’s at and the conditions that it’s at.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What is known is that the students were last seen in the town of Iguala, roughly 80 miles south of Mexico City. They’d been raising money to protest funding cuts at their teachers college, when they disappeared on the night of September 26.
Investigators say local police opened fire on the group, at the mayor’s orders. Then, they allegedly handed over the students to a drug gang with ties to the mayor, who has now gone into hiding.
The gang’s leader and several members have since been arrested, but the case remains unsolved and the fate of the students unknown. The lack of results has sparked public outrage and increasingly violent protests. Just last week, demonstrators in Iguala set fire to the town hall.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto insisted Wednesday that he shares the outrage, as he met with the students’ families for the first time.
PRESIDENT ENRIQUE PEÑA NIETO, Mexico (through interpreter): The president of the republic is indignant before these incidents. And I also became very impatient. The ongoing investigations will soon allow us to determine the whereabouts and broaden the search to find the missing students.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Pena Nieto pledged to improve communication, starting with a panel to act as liaison between investigators and the families.
The post Unsolved mystery of missing Mexican students sparks protest – Part 1 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn now to a battle over making public a Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation tactics.
In 2009, the Intelligence Committee launched its investigation. Three years later, the 5,000-page classified report was finalized. The CIA disputed some of the conclusions. Earlier this year, senators learned the CIA searched Senate computers without notifying the committee. And in April, the committee voted to release a summary of the report.
But the CIA has insisted on more redactions to protect agency assets and secrets.
We will hear from a former CIA official in a moment.
But we begin with a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He is Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.
Senator, welcome to the program.
SEN. RON WYDEN, (D) Oregon: Thank you, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Why is it you want this report released?
SEN. RON WYDEN: Judy, the CIA leadership maintained for years that torturing prisoners was essential to obtaining information, that we weren’t able to get the information we needed to protect our country without torture.
What this report shows is that a number of the claims that the CIA leadership made about the value of enhanced interrogation simply was untrue. And, regrettably, it looks like the culture of misinformation at the CIA leadership is still going strong.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But isn’t the reluctance to release it, doesn’t that have to do with making public the identity of agents, methods, operations that the CIA and others believe needs to be secret?
SEN. RON WYDEN: Judy, I don’t take a backseat to anybody in terms of protecting our agents who are undercover.
In fact, a number of years ago, I wrote legislation with Senator Bond on a bipartisan basis to increase the penalties for outing one of our agents. What the CIA is doing here is trying to obscure key facts and trying to keep the real story from coming out. Of course I would be in favor of redacting any specific identifying information about our very valuable undercover agents.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, one of the key facts — just give us a sense of what is a key fact that you think must come out that the CIA and the administration, whoever is making this decision, is saying no?
SEN. RON WYDEN: Well, this report is about misdeeds, mistakes and utter falsehoods.
And the reality is, is the CIA is asking for something that is unprecedented. For 40 years, since the days of the Church Committee, we have used pseudonyms in order to protect our undercover agents. But if you don’t allow pseudonyms, for example, you can’t even tell whether we’re talking about different people or the same people, and you’re obscuring what the narrative and what the public accounting is really all about.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s my understanding that the concern — one of the concerns expressed is that even using pseudonyms could be traced to particular individuals and places.
SEN. RON WYDEN: I don’t believe that stripping out the specific identifying information will cause a problem.
Judy, the reality is, for 40 years, we have never seen a demand like the CIA is making now. The CIA is asking that all pseudonyms, all of them be stripped out. That wasn’t done with the Church Committee. That wasn’t done with Iran Contra. That wasn’t done with Abu Ghraib.
What the CIA is asking for is unprecedented. And it’s very clear what they’re interested in obscuring the facts and covering up a really accurate narrative.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Ron Wyden, member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, we thank you.
SEN. RON WYDEN: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And for perspective from the CIA side, joining us now is John Rizzo, who spent 34 years in the agency’s Office of General Counsel. He’s also the author of the book “Company Man” about his time in the CIA.
So, John Rizzo, you heard what Senator Wyden is saying. He is saying, this is unprecedented, what the CIA is asking for.
JOHN RIZZO, Author, “Company Man”: Well, first of all, I should make clear that I have not seen the report, not for a lack of trying.
Several weeks ago, I and former CIA officials who were deeply involved in the program asked for the opportunities to at least read it before it’s released to the world. So I have no idea, as we sit here today, anything about the content of that report.
As for the use of pseudonyms, again, it’s all context. But…
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we should clarify, again, we’re talking about substituting pseudonyms, other names for the names of actual people who provided information.
JOHN RIZZO: That’s correct.
And I also should make clear that we’re not talking here about deleting the names of senior people, like myself, who are public figures. I mean, all of us, I assume, are going to be named by name in the report, and that’s fine.
What we’re talking about here is about the names of undercover operatives, many of whom are still operating in secret around the world performing dangerous assignments.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, as you heard Senator Wyden say, in all that years — that in the modern era, he said, going back to the Church report, back in the 1970s, this is not something that the CIA has done, has insisted on. Why is it different now? Why is it so important to keep this report back until this name issue gets resolved?
JOHN RIZZO: Well, again, it’s all context.
But I can certainly see — foresee a situation — this report is, what, the executive summary is 600 pages’ long. If these pseudonyms, if the same pseudonym for the same person appears at various parts in that report describing the circumstances, what he or she was doing and what country he or she was in, those who are willing to take the time — and, believe me, there are people out there willing to take the time — can piece together the two identities, or at least there’s a possibility.
And if there’s even a possibility of that, I honestly don’t see — I mean, this report is about the program. The agency ran the program. The people who carried it out in the trenches, you know, why should their safety be potentially compromised?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just last question, do you think a compromise is possible here? This has been going on for months.
JOHN RIZZO: Look, I and many of my colleagues would like to see this report come out. It’s been hanging fire for a long time and it’s been drip, drip of leaks. We all want to see it come out.
I hope an arrangement can be made. I would note finally that it’s not the CIA that’s driving this process. It’s the White House, the administration, the Obama administration, the president’s — the president’s chief of staff. So to characterize this as purely a CIA machination to hold up the report is simply unfair and doesn’t reflect reality.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, John Rizzo, former general counsel for the CIA, we thank you for talking with us.
JOHN RIZZO: Thank you, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.
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JEFFREY BROWN: For more on this, I’m joined now by Nii Akuetteh of the African Immigrant Caucus, an organization aimed at increasing political influence of the African diaspora. His career has focused on fostering relationships between the U.S. and African nations.
And welcome to you.
NII AKUETTEH, African Immigrant Caucus: Thank you.
JEFFREY BROWN: How important is this for the people of Burkina Faso, and why?
NII AKUETTEH: It is very important to them.
They have been pushing for — to have democracy in their country for years. The president who just departed has actually proved very agile. So, frankly, yesterday, I wasn’t sure that he would not be able to ride this out as well. So that they have removed him, and with street protests, I think the military just came in to stabilize the situation. This is a people’s revolution and it’s really important.
JEFFREY BROWN: We have seen in a number of countries, of course in Libya, but also elsewhere, where a strongman goes, but there isn’t the infrastructure, there isn’t the civil society in place, and turmoil ensues.
Are there comparisons to be made here?
NII AKUETTEH: I think a little bit.
I seriously doubt that it will get as bad as Libya, for one thing because of the influence of the African Union and the regional organization ECOWAS. They say, if you come to power by unconstitutional means, you are out of the club, but we will help you hold elections.
And then the military, they have the examples of Mali and other places to look at and Guinea. So, I expect they will hold their elections and quickly leave, but there are no guarantees.
JEFFREY BROWN: What about the U.S. interests? We referred to it in our setup piece. How — how — this has been an ally of the U.S. What now?
NII AKUETTEH: I think the U.S. is watching the situation carefully.
In fact, when Mr. Compaore tried to change the constitution and stay a few days ago, the U.S. was not happy. When he decided to withdraw that bill, they issued a statement supporting that. So I think they are trying to hang on to a situation in which they have lost an ally, but they want to have more democratic processes, so to deal with whoever comes in. Burkina is very indeed strategically placed in the — a turbulent region, so I think the U.S. will try to help work with those who come, who take power next.
JEFFREY BROWN: This is a region that doesn’t get a lot of attention here for the most part.
What does something like this tell us about the potential for change in other countries in the region, if anything at all?
NII AKUETTEH: I think what it does say is that there are people, frankly, the ordinary people in many African countries, yearning to have the power to throw out their leaders if they don’t like them.
Usually, these leaders are allies of powerful countries outside. So, for me, it says that such other countries such as Rwanda, Uganda, DRC, they bear watching, because you never know when the people will gain the upper hand.
JEFFREY BROWN: And do you see people in all of these countries gaining a new voice?
NII AKUETTEH: I think they do, but what might happen is that the presidents in those countries are pretty wily at holding onto power.
So it wouldn’t surprise me if they suppress news of what’s happening in Burkina Faso, if they put their security forces out there to hold on more tightly to power.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, briefly, you mentioned Mali as one example, but where there are countries with Islamist groups, in Burkina Faso and — or in elsewhere in this region, are there groups potentially there to step in?
NII AKUETTEH: Yes. Yes, there are.
So I think it has to be watched carefully. Mali has not really been pacified, even with the French help. Niger has done a pretty good job on its own. But it’s still not out of the woods. And, of course, Nigeria is pretty powerful and has been competent, but they have not contained Boko Haram. So there are things to watch out for and be concerned about in West Africa.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Nii Akuetteh, thank you very much.
NII AKUETTEH: Pleasure.
The post Will Burkina Faso inspire more power shifts around Africa? – Part 2 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There was a major shift in power today in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, as that country’s strongman leader, a U.S. ally who had been in power almost three decades, fled the country.
Jeffrey Brown has the story.
JEFFREY BROWN: There was cheering on the streets of Burkina Faso’s capital, after President Blaise Compaore agreed to step down, 27 years after he seized power in a coup.
In a written statement, he called for free and transparent elections within three months. Then, he left the city, apparently heading toward neighboring Ghana. Mass demonstrations had erupted in recent days against Compaore’s attempt to seek another term.
Yesterday, mobs stormed the parliament building and set it aflame, leaving windows shattered and burned-out cars. With word of the resignation today, the head of the military announced he would assume power, for now.
NABERE TRAORE, Transitional President, Burkina Faso (through interpreter): People of Burkina Faso, today, the armed forces have noted the resignation of the head of state. It has been decided that I will take on the responsibilities as head of state. We expect to hold without delay consultations with all the vital forces and the components of the nation, with a view to return to normal constitutional life.
JEFFREY BROWN: The turmoil is being closely watched in Washington because Burkina Faso holds a strategic place in a turbulent region. It’s been a U.S. military ally hosting a base used by American drones to track insurgents. To the north lies Mali, a hub for al-Qaida-linked militants, and to the east Nigeria, where the Islamist Boko Haram is creating havoc.
The ultimate outcome in Burkina Faso may also raise questions about the durability of other longstanding rulers in Africa.
The post Washington watching political turmoil for ally Burkina Faso – Part 1 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: how hospitals are preparing for possible Ebola cases in this country.
A judge in Maine ruled today against state officials who sought to quarantine nurse Kaci Hickox, who returned from West Africa after working with Ebola patients. Hickox has no symptoms and has refused to observe a voluntary quarantine. But the judge did say she must continue to be monitored for symptoms and must coordinate any travel with state officials.
The debate over that case comes as hospitals are scrambling to prepare for any future Ebola patients.
In New York state, Governor Andrew Cuomo designated eight hospitals that need to be ready.
The “NewsHour”‘s Megan Thompson visited one of those hospitals in Manhattan.
MEGAN THOMPSON: On Wednesday afternoon, staff was buzzing at the Mount Sinai Hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. In a special ward, doctors, nurses and security were prepping at top speed for a dreaded scenario: someone with Ebola walking through their doors.
Dr. David Reich is the hospital’s president.
So, you have been at this hospital for 30 years. Have you seen anything like this before?
DR. DAVID REICH, President, Mount Sinai Hospital: There’s really nothing like this that’s ever been dealt with at this hospital before. And, in fact, I would say that, of all the hospitals in New York City, there really is nothing — there has really never been anything quite like this.
MEGAN THOMPSON: New York’s first case of Ebola last week, at nearby Bellevue Hospital, only added to the pressure. Mount Sinai is a top-notch hospital, but Ebola represents a whole new challenge.
The first thing that greets you when you walk in the door, big new signs in 13 languages. They say, “If you have symptoms and have traveled, tell us immediately.”
MAN: So, this is an isolation room in part of the emergency department.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Possible Ebola cases can be isolated here. Luckily, the only patient today is a mannequin used for training. So far, there have only been a handful of false alarms in the entire Mount Sinai system. But, until now, this hospital didn’t really have another place outside of the E.R. to provide long-term care for an Ebola patient.
Last week, this section of the hospital was part of the cardiac critical care unit. But, in just a matter of days, Mount Sinai has transformed it into a brand-new unit to care for possible Ebola patients. They’re still finishing it up, but they say that if somebody walks into the hospital today who might have Ebola, they’re ready for them.
DR. DAVID REICH: And we have completely walled it off.
MEGAN THOMPSON: The new unit is sealed off. And while Ebola is not an airborne disease, a negative pressure system and heavy-duty air filters are in place as extreme precautions.
Special protocols are followed to get rid of all waste. And this new communications system will allow staff to monitor and talk to patients without having to get close.
DR. DAVID REICH: The facility is in some ways only the smallest part of this. Creating a team that is competent and confident in their skills to care for a patient with this deadly disease that provides extreme risk to health care workers, that is the real challenge for us.
MEGAN THOMPSON: So, Mount Sinai conducts training regularly to make sure the staff is prepared. An expert from the CDC is here to consult. One of the most important and new procedures to learn is how to put on the protective personal equipment.
WOMAN: I’m going to read out the safe work practices.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Nurses train with a coach and a checklist. There are special coveralls and thigh-high plastic booties, a respirator, hoods, goggles, a second gown, two sets of rubber gloves, and a face shield. Every detail is rehearsed, down to the type of knot securing the smock.
WOMAN: We have to make sure we’re hydrated before we suit up, if you need to use the bathroom, because it’s going to take time for us to do that again.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Plus, it’s just hard to work draped in all that plastic and rubber.
DR. DAVID REICH: We did a simulation last Thursday with the CDC watching us. After about 45 minutes, they were exhausted, they were soaked in sweat. It’s very clear that anything that we take for granted in terms of normal functions in an intensive care setting is so much more difficult.
MEGAN THOMPSON: So staff practice maneuvering around in all the gear.
MAN: Spray everything with bleach.
MAN: Keep everything nice and calm and stable.
MEGAN THOMPSON: And during simulations, they troubleshoot to find holes in their systems. Here, a doctor pretends to be an Ebola patient who accidentally tore off the nurse’s gown.
MAN: She comes out on her own.
MEGAN THOMPSON: The team must figure out how to react.
MAN: The patient needs to understand that they cannot pull on you.
MEGAN THOMPSON: And then there’s taking off the protective gear. What might seem like a simple act could actually be the most dangerous, because this is when exhausted nurses and doctors could accidentally contaminate themselves.
The hospital is constructing another isolation unit outside that will eventually be the primary Ebola care center. But all in, the new units will only be able to handle about three patients at a time. And that could pose a problem if the outbreak grows dramatically worse.
Hospital officials wouldn’t provide specific numbers, but it’s clear the costs for all this will be considerable.
Dr. Kenneth Davis heads the entire Mount Sinai system.
DR. KENNETH L. DAVIS, CEO and President, Mount Sinai Health System: This is expensive. The drill — the drilling, the equipment, the construction, it’s all not been budgeted. And in hospitals like ours, which have a very large percentage of patients who are largely Medicare or Medicaid, the margins are very narrow. So, we’re ultimately going to be looking for federal, state, local help.
MEGAN THOMPSON: While all of this might look like something out of a sci-fi movie, Dr. Davis says, everyone needs to remember to stay calm.
DR. KENNETH L. DAVIS: What separates this from anything else we have ever seen is the degree of anxiety, almost hysteria, that’s in the population about this. Let’s remember, there is one case in New York. There are less than a handful of cases in the United States. And the cases are, by and large, health care workers.
MEGAN THOMPSON: For weeks to come, Mount Sinai’s health care workers will continue to practice the new procedures, procedures they hope they will never have to use.
For the “NewsHour,” this is Megan Thompson reporting from New York.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The space industry suffered a new catastrophe today. A Virgin Galactic space tourism rocket crashed during a test flight in Southern California. The co-pilot was killed, and the pilot was badly injured.
The wreckage of SpaceShipTwo landed in the Mojave Desert. Witnesses described an explosion after the rocket was released from a plane that carries it to a high altitude. On Tuesday, a rocket owned by another private company, Orbital Sciences, blew up just after lifting off from a launch site on Virginia’s Atlantic Coast.
JUDY WOODRUFF: People across Northeastern Pennsylvania were finally able to relax today with news that a seven-week manhunt is over. The suspect in a shooting that terrorized the region was captured last night and appeared in court this morning.
MAN: Eric, are you sorry?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Shouts from the crowd went unanswered, as a battered-looking Eric Frein stood waiting after his hearing at the Pike County Courthouse.
District attorney Raymond Tonkin:
RAYMOND TONKIN, District Attorney, Pike County: Today, we find some comfort as a community that we are taking these next steps towards justice.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Frein is accused in the sniper ambush of a state police barracks in Blooming Grove, Pennsylvania, on September 12. The attack left Corporal Bryon Dickson dead, critically wounded trooper Alex Douglass, and it triggered a grueling 48-day manhunt across the Pocono Mountains for Frein, an expert marksman and survivalist.
The search took law officers through woods, caves and vacation homes, closed schools, canceled football games, and hurt area businesses.
LT. COL. GEORGE BEVINS, Pennsylvania State Police: He was able to get into cabins, into other unoccupied structures, find food. In other cases, he had things hidden, but he was able to get shelter, and get in, out of the weather, much as we suspected was occurring.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally, last night, Frein surrendered peacefully to U.S. Marshals, who came upon him in an abandoned airport hangar, about 30 miles from the state police barracks.
He entered no plea at today’s hearing, but faces first-degree murder and other charges and a possible death penalty.
For area residents, it’s the end to a nightmarish time.
WOMAN: I can’t even explain what I’m feeling right now. This is awesome. We are so proud of our Pennsylvania State Police, their hard work. There have been many, many sleepless nights.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And with Frein’s capture, local officials announced that neighborhood trick-or-treating is back on tonight’s schedule.
In Florida, a former college band member was convicted today in the death of a drum major at Florida A&M University. Dante Martin was found guilty of manslaughter and felony hazing. The victim, Robert Champion, died after running a gauntlet of fists, drumsticks and mallets. Afterward, the school’s nationally known band was suspended for more than a year.
There’s word today that more than 1,000 foreign fighters are flowing into Syria each month, despite American airstrikes. That’s according to a report today in The Washington Post, citing unnamed U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials. The account says it’s estimated the total number of foreign fighters inside Syria now exceeds 16,000.
Israel reopened a contested holy site in Jerusalem today. There had been clashes a day earlier, when police killed a Palestinian suspected of shooting a Jewish activist. Today, entrance to the site known as Temple Mount to Jews and Noble Sanctuary to Muslims was watched closely by an extra 1,000 security personnel. Israeli authorities continued to deny access to Muslim men under the age of 50.
Japan’s Central Bank made a surprise move today to jump-start its economy by expanding stimulus efforts. The head of the Central Bank said there’s a risk of deflation that will hurt wages and stock values.
HARUHIKO KURODA, Governor, Bank of Japan (through interpreter): If the real inflation rate continues to be sluggish, there’s a possibility of a turnaround toward a deflationary mind-set. In that sense, our nation’s economy is now at a critical moment, a crucial stage in the process towards escaping deflation. Our decision to go ahead with additional easing this time is based on such reasoning.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Japan has been plagued by deflation and anemic growth for much of the past 20 years.
Also today, Russia’s Central Bank boosted its key interest rate to 9.5 percent, hoping to stop the ruble’s decline in value. The Russian currency has been hurt by Western sanctions over Ukraine and by falling oil prices.
Wall Street shot higher on the moves to stimulate Japan’s economy. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 195 points to close at 17,390, a new record. The S&P 500 added 23 to finish at 2,018, also a record. And the Nasdaq rose 64 to 4,630. For the week, the Dow and the Nasdaq gained more than 3 percent. The S&P rose more than 2.5 percent.
The post News Wrap: Space tourism rocket crashes, killing co-pilot appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The Senate, the CIA and the White House are still negotiating over the delayed release of a Senate Intelligence Committee report examining the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program for al-Qaeda detainees. John Rizzo served as either the CIA’s Deputy or Acting General Counsel between 2001 to 2009, the first nine years of the Bush Administration’s War on Terror, and became a controversial figure due to his role in approving some of the CIA’s most controversial programs. He is the author of Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA. We spoke to Rizzo about the ongoing debate surrounding the publication of the report.
NEWSHOUR: What makes this report so important?
JOHN RIZZO: Having not seen it, I’m just speculating. But it is a four-year effort, $40 million. I would like to think it will be a comprehensive look at the entire history of the program. I am pessimistic, however, given the way this report was prepared by only the Democratic side of the Senate Intelligence Committee. No one from CIA — including me — current or former who was involved in the program, none of us were ever interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee. It could be a worthwhile and valuable product, but by all indications it is going to be a political product with a distinct point of view that I honestly believe the seven Democrats on the committee had in mind from the beginning.
NEWSHOUR: How do you respond to people saying the CIA is trying to run out the clock or block a report that may damage its reputation?
JOHN RIZZO: To be clear, I have not seen the report. I asked to have access to it and was denied by Chairman [Dianne] Feinstein. So I have no idea what’s in it. All I know is what I’ve been reading in media reports. It does appear, however, that it is the Obama White House who have taken the lead in negotiations with Chairman Feinstein. Also playing a role is the Director of National Intelligence. So, the notion that it’s the CIA that is dragging its feet, if that’s what the allegation is, seems to me misleading at best. The White House could support the report coming out in any sort of form, and it would basically be declassified tomorrow. So I just don’t think their complaint reflects the reality.
NEWSHOUR: Senator Ron Wyden raised the issue of redacted names and says he would like to see pseudonyms used so that citizens can identify how many agents were involved in actions documented in the report. Why would the CIA want to totally black out names in the report?
JOHN RIZZO: We’re talking about undercover operatives, CIA agents. Not senior officials of the CIA, which would include myself. I assume my name, wherever it appears, will appear with my true name, and that’s fine. What we’re talking about are people, many of whom are still at CIA undercover and carrying out assignments around the world. Clearly, a pseudonym is a better protection than just having their real names, but even pseudonyms can become a problem. I’ve found in my experience, for those who are really intent in uncovering identities, if pseudonyms appear in a certain pattern in the report in certain contexts it is not that difficult to discern who exactly is being talked about. It would therefore put them in potential jeopardy. Do you think it’s certain death for these people? No. The point is, why take any sort of risk along those lines?
NEWSHOUR: Some in the senate, including Senator Wyden, have raised balance of powers concerns here. How do you respond to those who say the CIA is overstepping its authority here?
JOHN RIZZO: In terms of separation of powers, the executive branch has classification control over executive branch information. That power ultimately rests with the White House and with the President of the United States, himself. Again, this is not a dispute between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is a dispute apparently between the executive branch and the legislative branch. Honestly, from the outside, I think both sides are acting in good faith, and hopefully this can still be worked out.
NEWSHOUR: Senator Wyden is threatening to push for a Senate override to declassify the report. What do you think that would mean? Knowing the politics here, do you think that’s likely?
JOHN RIZZO: The chances of that effort being successful is minimal in the extreme. Again, there is a process for that sort of thing. So he’s free to pursue it. If, by chance, the senate prevails and does override, then so be it. That will never happen. There should be a way to reach an accommodation on this. I can’t believe there isn’t.
NEWSHOUR: What would an accommodation look like?
JOHN RIZZO: The issue here is the CIA interrogation program. It’s wisdom, it’s efficacy, morality and legality. It took four years to generate. It took $40 million. I have no objection to the report coming out. Personally, I think the report should come out. But I don’t see how potentially jeopardizing or compromising the identities of undercover operatives is necessary or appropriate in order to have that debate about the substance of the program. Why bring up names of people doing very difficult work in good faith? The senior officials like me, our names should be in the report. I have no problem with that.
NEWSHOUR: What are the report’s implications for national security?
JOHN RIZZO: Part of national security is protecting intelligence sources’ identities. So anything that would compromise identities of undercover personnel would negatively affect national security.
NEWSHOUR: What is significant about the ongoing debate surrounding this report?
JOHN RIZZO: I went through a lot of battles when I was at CIA between the executive branch and congress about congressional oversight and access to information and declassification. This, from my perspective, is nothing more than that. In all of those previous cases, there was an accommodation reached that perhaps neither side was totally happy with but it was reached and everyone moved on. That’s my hope that that’s what will happen here. I don’t know anyone at CIA who object to this report being released after all this time and all this money.
Hopefully there will be new insights, new details. The debate and discussion that could be generated by all this is not a bad thing. It could be a useful thing and a valuable thing in a democracy. How does the US government react? What are the limits and extent to which you can take aggressive actions to combat terrorist acts? That’s a valuable dialogue to have. So hopefully the report, as large as it seemingly is, will have that effect.
NEWSHOUR: What do you hope to see happen?
JOHN RIZZO: In terms of identities and pseudonyms of CIA agents, that’s important for people that are involved. It’s important to their potential safety. As for the report itself, it should come out, along with the CIA’s rebuttal, and the rebuttal of the senate Republicans on the Intelligence Committee. All of it should come out, and the American people should make their own judgments about it.
If you happen to be running for political office, your family name can be an asset.
And during this year’s election season when standing alongside President Obama can be seen as a liability, some Democratic candidates are instead campaigning with other political figures close to home: Parents, brothers, sisters, uncles and anyone who has served elected office before them.
One popular way for politicians to stand by their families has been to hit the airwaves.
Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn is new to the political arena. So who else better to vouch for her than her father? Sam Nunn spent more than two decades in the Senate and was chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Alaska Sen. Mark Begich evokes the memory of his deceased father Nick Begich, who disappeared in plane crash while en route to a campaign fundraiser for a second term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Sen. Begich was only 10 years old when he lost his father.
Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu has rolled out three campaign ads where she playfully banters with her father, Moon Landrieu, who was the mayor of New Orleans and then went on to serve as secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Carter Administration.
And It’s not just Landrieu senior who’s hitting the campaign trail for his daughter. Mary’s younger brother Mitch is currently the mayor of New Orleans and has headlined several of her campaign events.
These are just a few of the contemporary examples of family legacies. Prominent political families in American politics reach as far back as the late 1970s with the Adams then the Harrisons – each family produced two presidents. And don’t forget the Roosevelts of New York; the Tafts of Ohio; the Kennedys of Massachusetts; and the Bushes of Connecticut, Texas and Florida.
In today’s noisy campaign season of multiple debates, round-the-clock news coverage, and unrelenting campaign ads – a family name can cut through the clutter and the competition.
“It really gives you a leg up on the competition. It really tells voters what they can expect; who you are; where you may stand or sit on various issues,” said Jeanne Zaino, a professor of professor of political campaign management at NYU. “As you try to break through and as you try to connect with voters, connecting in almost any way you can is important, and that name is going to matter. It’s a brand name.”
Zaino says for voters who haven’t done their homework, a familiar family name is a valuable nudge at the polling station.
“We ask an awful lot of voters in the United States today. We ask them to go to the polls several times a year. We ask them to vote for an awful lot of candidates,” said Zaino. “When you do that, people naturally look for clues, and a famous political last name is a really important clue.”
The name nudge can also help open wallets, says Zaino. “In a process which takes a lot of money and a lot of connections, certainly today, it helps to be able to say to a donor you’re gonna need to rely on that, ‘I’m a Kennedy. I’m a Clinton. I’m a Bush.’”
However, coming from a well-known political family doesn’t always guarantee success. A strong family name isn’t enough to buffer against political winds.
Last year, Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, mounted a primary challenge to become Wyoming’s senator. After a public dispute about same-sex marriage with her gay sister Mary as well as questions about her short residency in the state, Liz dropped out of the race.
In Colorado, Republican congressman Cory Gardner went after Sen. Mark Udall’s family legacy by tapping into the anti-Washington sentiment. Rep. Gardner says in his campaign ad about Sen. Udall, “He’s a nice guy who will never change the Senate. He is the Senate. Eighteen years in politics, and he’s got two cousins who are senators, too. Mark Udall’s dad even ran for president.”
And while Sen. Mary Landrieu’s last name helped get her elected to the state legislature at the age of 23, her later run for governor did not translate into a victory. Landrieu’s father Moon said there’s only so much a political parent can do.
“When my daughter ran the first time and with each of my children, what I told them is, ‘I will walk with you. I will help you. I will try to open doors for you,” he said. “But you got to walk through that door yourself, and it’s what you put forth that’s going to elect you. Not me.’”
The post Stand by your fam: Will political kin mean ballot box win? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
MADISON, Wis. — Middle school art teacher Cynthia Bliss laced up her sneakers, grabbed a jacket and spent most of a recent Saturday asking strangers to help her oust Republican Gov. Scott Walker from office.
“We’re teachers in the area and this election is very important to us,” Bliss told one voter on the front steps of a house.
“You don’t even have to talk,” the older woman at the door replied. “We’re the choir you’re preaching to.”
Bliss, who teaches in Fort Atkinson, wrote down the answer and marched back to the sidewalk, where autumn leaves crunched underfoot. For her – and hundreds of other Wisconsin teachers – booting Walker from the Capitol has been a priority.
“If Scott Walker wins re-election, he will keep his current policies and put them on steroids,” Bliss said as she walked to the next house. “That’s not acceptable to me.”
It’s a scene playing out across the country, as fed-up teachers are working to oust Republican governors.
Walker is the chief target, but Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett face similar, educator-led campaigns against them. Those first-term Republicans all took steps to stabilize state budgets with dramatic shifts in how many tax dollars go to schools and teachers.
Now, the teachers want to stop them in their tracks.
The 1.6 million-member American Federation of Teachers plans to spend $20 million on this year’s elections – a record for it. The 3 million-member National Education Association has sent almost $8 million to political allies such as the Democratic Governors Association.
Walker defends his moves, saying they saved taxpayers $3 billion and allowed school districts, city and county governments to hire – and fire – employees without worrying about union contracts or benefits. Walker won praise from administrators; Milwaukee’s public schools slashed more than $1 billion off its long-term pension obligations.
“It’s about empowering people to do what they were elected to do,” Walker said. “Instead of worrying about grievances, they can focus on curriculum.”
It isn’t swaying the teachers. Like most residents in this highly polarized state, few lack for an opinion of Walker.
“If Scott Walker wins another term, he will rule with a machete,” said Kelly Sullivan, a high school teacher in Monona Grove.
Sullivan’s frustration with Walker’s policies moved the 39-year-old mother of three from a ho-hum voter to one of the first people to sign up to volunteer.
“He’s not interested in us,” Sullivan said. “We’re just pawns in his plans to get to Washington, D.C.”
Walker’s presidential ambitions drive much of national unions’ interest in Wisconsin. He became a national figure when he rolled back workers’ collective bargaining rights and balanced his state’s budget with deep cuts, including to schools. Other governors took notice and started down a similar path.
“He’s an icon for the right,” said Marty Horning, a 61-year-old retired Milwaukee teacher who led a voter-registration drive during recent parent-teacher conferences. “They’re going to do whatever it takes to help his career.”
Spending on the Wisconsin governor’s race now tops $18 million, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity. Spending on ads slightly favors Walker in his race against Democratic nominee Mary Burke, a former Trek Bicycle executive and a school board member in Madison.
That’s why teachers are mobilizing, hoping to persuade voters to support Burke.
Education is typically one of those issues that voters say they care about, but they seldom cast ballots driven by the subject. But this year, schools have roared to the forefront in a handful of races.
Nowhere is that more evident than Wisconsin.
The left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently reviewed changes in per-student spending since the economic recession in 2008. Wisconsin had the second-biggest cut, adjusted for inflation, with each student receiving $1,000 less than in 2008.
Walker was elected in 2010 and almost immediately started cutting budgets – and unions’ power. He’s been a target since, becoming in 2012 the first governor to survive a recall attempt. That doesn’t mean teachers have given up.
Take Rachel Meyer, a 55-year-old special education teacher in Merton, Wisconsin. On a recent Saturday, she helped Milwaukee teachers go door to door to remind likely supporters of the stakes.
“These kids deserve better. With the governor we have, they’re not going to get it,” said Meyer, who has seen her teaching assistants downgraded to part-time workers without benefits.
It’s a similar complaint from Bliss, the 50-year-old art teacher who dedicated her Saturday to knocking on doors in Madison. In her school, she’s seen class sizes increase from about 20 students to 29 in recent years. She has scrapped some lessons and traded in pricey supplies for cheap paper plates during others.
“I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind at this point,” Bliss said as she flipped through her clipboard looking for the next door to visit. “It’s about getting our allies to vote.”
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SHAUNA SANFORD, LOUISIANA PUBLIC BROADCASTING: Here in the capitol city of Baton Rouge, Catholic Charities Diocese has mobilized to help a few thousand children who crossed the Southwestern U.S. border and end up in Louisiana.
DAVID AGUILLARD, CATHOLIC CHARIRIES DIOCESE: I think that the children and their families are just caught in a power struggle between Republicans and Democrats competing over the Hispanic vote. It makes me want to do something about it.
SHAUNA SANFORD: David Aguillard is the executive director of the diocese.
Is it a moral obligation?
DAVID AGUILLARD: We have a particular gospel mission to reach out based on our Christian beliefs, our Christian values. And we want to do that within the confines of the law.
SHAUNA SANFORD: In response, the diocese has established the Louisiana Esperanza project.
DAVID AGUILLARD: Unlike other court systems and legal processes in our country when a person’s life is at stake like in criminal court there is a right to a public defender. For these children there is a right to access the system but there is not a right of being supplied legal representation.
SHAUNA SANFORD: The program, funded to the tune of about $1 million per year, provides attorneys and other legal assistance to the children and their families for free or at a reduced cost.
But it’s very slow going. There aren’t enough attorneys to represent all of the children whose cases have to be heard in federal immigration court. And that court has been without a judge for months now, so the only time cases can be heard is when an immigration judge comes to Louisiana from another state. But some prominent politicians don’t believe the children should be in Louisiana in the first place.
Louisiana’s Republican governor Bobby Jindal has blasted the Obama Administration for the recent influx calling it a failure to secure the U.S. border. Like Jindal, some Louisiana lawmakers also believe that the children should be sent back to their home countries.
VALERIE HODGES, LOUISIANA REPRESENTATIVE: We have our own problems to deal with here with poverty and these kinds of issues. It’s incumbent on those governments to take care of their citizens.
DAVID AGUILLARD: Our country has recognized and has passed laws to protect children from Central America who flee here because of the violence and because of the situations in their home countries.
SHAUNA SANFORD: In keeping with its gospel mission, the diocese says it will keep working to resolve the children’s cases.
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The New York City Police Department is free to begin implementing reforms to its stop-and-frisk policy, following a federal court ruling Friday.
“We hold that the police unions’ motions to intervene are untimely and do not assert an interest that the law seeks to protect,” said a three-judge panel in its ruling on an appeal of Floyd v. City of New York.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the City of New York and other police unions filed the motions as a way to breathe new life into an appeal originally filed by the city, under ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Reuters reported.
Bloomberg’s administration filed the original appeal to U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin’s ruling in August 2013, which found stop-and-frisk policies, as practiced, were unconstitutional and unfairly targeted minorities. Scheindlin ordered several reforms to the practice, including appointing an independent monitor.
The city’s appeal was dropped by current mayor Bill de Blasio shortly after he took office. And it was the opinion of the court concerning the police unions’ appeal that it was too late.
“We have serious reservations about the prospect of allowing a public‐sector union to encroach upon a duly‐elected government’s discretion to settle a dispute against it,” the panel wrote.
While the courtroom arguments played out, the NYPD began implementing some of the court-ordered reforms. According to the Associated Press, the department started developing a pilot program of body-worn cameras in five of its precincts.
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