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

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    Exterior photograph of the Stockton Gurdwara printed in the January 1916 issue of The Hindusthanee Student.

    For the first time, the Rose Parade will feature a Sikh float, which will be modeled after the Stockton Gurdwara, pictured here in January 1916.

    The 2015 Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, will feature a flower encrusted Sikh float for the first time in the parade’s 126-year history.

    It’s estimated that 700,000 Sikhs live in the U.S.. According to NBC News, Rashpal Dhindsa — founder of the United Sikh Mission — believed that participation in the famous New Year’s Day parade would help Americans across the country to better understand Sikh culture.

    The float will be modeled after Stockton Gurdwara, a 100-year-old place of worship located in Stockton, California.

    The post Rose Parade to include Sikh float for first time in history appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user the justified sinner

    Photo by Flickr user the justified sinner

    WASHINGTON — The for-profit college sector filed a lawsuit Thursday that seeks to halt new regulations of its industry.

    The lawsuit is in response to a rule the Obama administration announced last week that requires career training programs to show their graduates make enough money to pay back their loans. Programs that don’t pass its new “gainful employment” standard risk losing the ability to receive federal student aid. The administration estimated that about 1,400 programs serving 840,000 students won’t pass.

    “This regulation, and the impact it will have on student access and opportunity, is so unacceptable and in violation of federal law that we were left with no choice but to file suit,” said Steve Gunderson, president of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities.

    Gunderson’s association filed the lawsuit against Education Secretary Arne Duncan. It says the new rule is “unlawful, arbitrary, and irrational” and will needlessly harm millions of students who attend these schools.

    An Education Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit.

    For-profit colleges offer training in areas such as auto repair and nursing and have been popular with nontraditional students, including veterans. About 1.3 million students enrolled last spring at a for-profit school, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

    The industry has among the highest student loan default rates and lowest graduation rates in higher education, and critics say taxpayers bear too much of a burden to keep them afloat.

    The Obama administration has waged a yearslong fight to improve outcomes and end aggressive recruiting at for-profit colleges.

    The rule was the second time the administration attempted to implement such regulations. The first attempt was halted by a judge’s 2012 ruling that said the regulations were too arbitrary.

    The new lawsuit alleges that instead of correcting problems identified by the judge, the new rule “repeats and exacerbates” them.

    It is asking the court to set aside the regulations, which go into effect July 1.

    To meet the new standards, a program will have to show that the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate does not exceed 20 percent of his or her discretionary income or 8 percent of total earnings. The administration said about 99 of the training programs that will be affected come from the for-profit sector, although affected career training programs can come from certificate programs elsewhere in higher education.

    The regulations also didn’t satisfy some critics of for-profit colleges who say the new rule doesn’t stop colleges that offer poor quality programs where most of the students drop out.

    The post For-profit colleges aim to fight regulation with new lawsuit appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Getty Images.

    Photo by Getty Images.

    In a cover story in this month’s The Atlantic, Hanna Rosin tackled the question of “Why Kids Sext.” According to Rosin’s article, surveys have found that approximately one-third of children in their upper teens have “sexted,” that is sent naked or provocative pictures of themselves using a cell phone or electronic device.

    In many states, this act is considered a felony under child pornography laws, regardless of the circumstances under which the sext was sent and whether or not it was consensual. Further clouding the issue, the “victim” appearing in the photograph is often also the “perpetrator,” seen by the courts as guilty of distributing child pornography for having taken and sent the photograph.

    Rosin explored these issues in a recent interview with PBS NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff, the first in an ongoing series of collaborations between The Atlantic and the PBS NewsHour. We took the conversation to Twitter. Should all teen sexting be treated as a crime? If not, under what circumstances does it cross the line? Who is accountable in a teen sexting case? The sender? The recipient? Both? Should law enforcement be responsible for disciplining teens who engage in sexting, or should this duty fall to parents and educators?

    Hanna Rosin (@HannaRosin) and Amy Hasinoff (@amyadele), author of the forthcoming book “Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent” shared their perspective on these questions and more. Read a transcript of the discussion below.

    The post Twitter chat: Should teen sexting be a felony? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user Bright Vibes

    The Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced its largest-ever single donation Thursday. Photo by Flickr user Bright Vibes

    The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has announced its largest-ever single donation: 47 pieces of art valued at $500 million. The generous benefactor is Jerry Perenchio, the former CEO of the Spanish language television network “Univision.” The artwork includes 19th and 20th century masterworks by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Rene Magritte. Many of the paintings, works on paper, and sculpture have rarely been seen in public.

    At a news conference today in Los Angeles, the entertainment executive said he was inspired to make the huge donation as a way to give back to the city that made his life’s work possible. Perenchio began his Hollywood career as an agent to stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando before entering the world of film and television production.

    “Gifts of this magnitude are incredibly rare, especially in the fields of Impressionist and Modern art,” said Michael Govan, the museum’s CEO and director. “Mr. Perenchio’s generous gift is a cornerstone of our future. Without this collection LACMA could not tell the story of Impressionism and the birth of Modern art. Mr. Perenchio’s artworks will become some of this museum’s greatest highlights.”

    LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, boasting a diverse permanent collection of over 120,000 objects from antiquity to the present day.

    “A museum’s heart and soul is the art that resides there,” said Lynda Resnick, LACMA Trustee and Chair of the museum’s Acquisitions Committee. “This amazing gift gives us a reason to rejoice as our 50th anniversary approaches next year.”

    The unexpected bequest will happen after the 83-year-old billionaire’s death. But there’s one caveat: The museum must first finish construction on a new building scheduled to be completed in 2023. Construction on the $600 million project has yet to begin.

    In the meantime, LACMA will display select works from Perenchio’s pledged collection beginning in the spring of 2015 as part of the museum’s anniversary celebration.

    The post Los Angeles art museum celebrates historic donation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    ballet3

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    GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight: A renowned ballerina raising the bar for young dancers will soon be honored by the Kennedy Center for her lifelong devotion to her work on stage and off.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: “The Four Temperaments,” a dance choreographed by George Balanchine in 1946. At the Charlotte Ballet recently, Patricia McBride taught it to her dancers.

    For 28 years, McBride herself performed the work of Balanchine as a principal dancer for the New York City Ballet. Often, the master choreographer created dances specifically for her.

    PATRICIA MCBRIDE, 2014 Kennedy Center Honoree: We would jump off a bridge. If he said to jump off that bridge, we’d all jump.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Really?

    PATRICIA MCBRIDE: Because we had so much trust in him.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In December, McBride, now age 72, will follow in the footsteps of her mentor as a Kennedy Center honoree for her life as a dancer and co-director of a vibrant ballet company.

    Patricia McBride’s story began as a young girl in Teaneck, New Jersey, when her mother, raising two children on her own, put her in a dance class.

    PATRICIA MCBRIDE: I think my mom and my grandma just thought it would be nice for little girls to do. It seemed like all little girls at that time, ballet was one of the things that they would do. And they bought me a pair of ballet slippers, and there I went.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You went along.

    PATRICIA MCBRIDE: And my mom just drove me every week, first once a week, then twice, then three times, and then every day. And it started getting more serious as the years went on.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And it became a life.

    PATRICIA MCBRIDE: And it became a wonderful life, a wonderful life.

    JEFFREY BROWN: She joined Balanchine’s School of American Ballet at 14, and at 18 became his company’s youngest ever principal dancer. Over the years, she debuted many roles and partnered with leading male dancers of the era, including Edward Villella, here in “Tarantella.”

    The New York City Ballet is also where she met her husband, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, a Frenchmen who had danced at the Paris Opera before coming to New York to work with Balanchine.

    JEAN-PIERRE BONNEFOUX, Artistic Director, Charlotte Ballet: I just love that gesture.

    JEFFREY BROWN: They were already a couple, but had never danced together, when one night his partner fell ill and McBride had to step in.

    PATRICIA MCBRIDE: We were in love, and we were together, but I had never done a pirouette with him.

    (LAUGHTER)

    PATRICIA MCBRIDE: He had never laid his hands on me, and we had five minutes for intermission. And there we were dancing, and it was wonderful, you know? But then later on, we started, and we had some ballets together. And it wasn’t working too well, because we’d have a little — you know how it is. But we found…

    (CROSSTALK)

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: You know how it is between a couple…

    (CROSSTALK)

    PATRICIA MCBRIDE: Husband and wife, a couple, you know, it’s — and, usually, ballerinas like to tell their partners, oh, just lift — push me a little more this way or get me on my leg.

    JEFFREY BROWN: They worked it out and married in grand fashion in Paris. McBride retired from the New York City Ballet in 1989 at age 46…

    (APPLAUSE)

    JEFFREY BROWN: … in a farewell performance that ended in ovations and flowers.

    The couple then turned to teaching, first at Indiana University and then, since 1996, running the Charlotte Ballet.

    PATRICIA MCBRIDE: That’s beautiful. That looked so good.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Becoming mentors to a new generation of dancers.

    ANNA GERBERICH, Charlotte Ballet: She’s kind of like my ballet mom, in a way. She’s really raised me.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Twenty-five-year old Anna Gerberich means it. She began working with McBride at age 15.

    ANNA GERBERICH: Patty is an amazing woman. And we would always watch her videos, so it was something — she was this goddess on this TV screen to me. She’s the most humble, down-to-earth person. And I have to say, she’s always right when she coaches you. And it’s just incredible to learn under her.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Twenty-three-year-old Pete Leo Walker, who told us he was first into hip-hop break dancing in his native Brooklyn, before taking up ballet, says that McBride and Bonnefoux are models in another way as well for him and Anna, who are partners both on stage and, yes, off as well.

    PETE LEO WALKER, Charlotte Ballet: They’re very caring for one another. You know, Jean-Pierre will still put an umbrella over her head if it’s raining outside. It is very beneficial for us to kind of see their maturity in their relationship. I think they have an incredible chemistry.

    JEFFREY BROWN: For her part, McBride, a mother of two, now a grandmother of three, says she’s enjoyed the transition from dancer to teacher, though in some ways finds it even more nerve-racking than being on the world’s grand stages as a dancer.

    PATRICIA MCBRIDE: Everybody has to be different. I don’t want you to do it like me. I want you to be yourself.

    I’m more nervous when I do a performance for my students or for the company members. When I stage something, I get more nervous for them because I want them to feel really good about themselves.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In addition to performances, the company has an academy that offers classes for adults and children, including a so-called Reach program that provides scholarships to lower-income youth.

    It also hosts Charlotte Ballet 2, featuring younger dancers who perform in local schools. We went along to a morning performance for elementary school children in Kannapolis, North Carolina. And when volunteers were needed to come on stage to dance, this wasn’t a shy bunch.

    Three years ago, the company moved into a new building named for its two leaders. And this year, it changed its named from North Carolina Dance Theatre to Charlotte Ballet, reflecting both its focus and, more importantly, its attachment to this rapidly growing city.

    Both ticket sales and donor gifts are up dramatically in recent years, as artistic director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux says there are plenty of challenges, but also plenty of pleasures.

    JEAN-PIERRE BONNEFOUX: There’s really exceptional choreographers and there’s exceptional dancers. So it’s a good time in America to see dance. It’s like anything. Dance can also be very boring. And — but when it’s good and when people are committed to that, it can be sensational.

    JEFFREY BROWN: These days, banners reflect the pride in the upcoming honor for McBride, a celebration of her life’s work.

    PATRICIA MCBRIDE: I was astonished, and moved. It’s such a wonderful thing. It’s been a dream, you know? I don’t know how to describe it. It’s just so amazing. I never in a million years would have thought that this was going to happen to me.

    Thank you, girls. Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: McBride says she remain eager to keep passing on her passion for many years to come.

    PATRICIA MCBRIDE: Thank you. Good job.

    The post Ballet icon Patricia McBride comes full pirouette as mentor to young dancers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A member of the CG Environmental HazMat team disinfects the entrance to the residence of a health worker at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who has contracted Ebola in Dallas

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In West Africa, Ebola has had a fatality rate of nearly 50 percent. In the U.S., there have been only a handful of cases so far, and the death rate has been far less. Nine people have been treated. Seven have recovered. One died, Thomas Eric Duncan, and one remains hospitalized in New York in stable, but improving condition. He’s Dr. Craig Spencer.

    What helps explain what’s working differently in the U.S., and is it replicable?

    Dr. Bruce Ribner has overseen the care of four Ebola patients at the Emory University School of Medicine.

    Dr. Ribner, thank you very much for joining us.

    And, first, just quickly, is it accurate to say that the recovery rate at this point in the U.S. far better than it is in West Africa?

    DR. BRUCE RIBNER, Emory University Hospital: The recovery rate in the United States is substantially better than in West Africa or the cases in Central Africa, yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And why is that?

    DR. BRUCE RIBNER: Ebola virus disease basically ravishes every organ in the body. And what the patient needs is aggressive support until the body can control the virus and the functions of the various organs can recover.

    Unfortunately, the infrastructure in most of Africa is such that our colleagues over there are not capable of aggressive supportive measures. We have the luxury of very good infrastructure. And so we would anticipate that, while our fatality rates in the U.S. wouldn’t be zero, they would be substantially less than the rates we see in Africa.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what do you mean by infrastructure?

    DR. BRUCE RIBNER: In other words, when we receive our patients from Africa, more often than not, they have had no blood testing at all, no chemistries, no hematology tests, no platelet counts, any of that.

    They just don’t have the capability of doing those tests in their facilities. At the other end of the spectrum, we have enormous support structure. And we can do a lot of testing that they are unable to do and manage the different organs failing much better than they’re able to do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, is it just a matter of sophisticated medicine? Or are we talking about hydration? Are there medicines available here that aren’t available there? We know blood plasma of former Ebola patients has been used in the U.S.

    DR. BRUCE RIBNER: It’s really all of those. In many of those facilities, the nursing support is such that they can give a limited amount of fluid.

    And as we have seen in our patients, patients during the most extreme form of illness are losing five to 10 liters a day, and they just can’t keep up with that. In addition, because we have the ability to measure the patients’ chemistries and fluid levels, we’re much more capable of replacing those fluids exactly to the extent that the patient is losing them.

    And then, finally, blood banking in the United States, whether it be platelets, whether it be plasma, whether it be transfusion, is just dramatically more sophisticated than what our colleagues in Africa have access to.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And so my question then is, what is done in the United States right now, to what extent is that — can that be replicated in places like Sierra Leone and elsewhere in West Africa where Ebola is still raging?

    DR. BRUCE RIBNER: Our colleagues in West Africa have enormous hurdles to try and reach the level of sophistication that we have in the United States.

    Many of their facilities are not even air-conditioned. And in the heat and humidity that exists in many of their facilities, even if we bring some of our instrumentation over there, it rapidly fails within a few weeks to a couple of months.

    And so they have enormous hurdles in terms of creating the type of infrastructure that we take for granted in the United States.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We are going to leave it there, but we thank you very much, Dr. Bruce Ribner at Emory University. Thank you.

    DR. BRUCE RIBNER: Thank you.

    The post How U.S. ‘aggressive support’ for Ebola patients saves lives appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    yesmeansyes

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    GWEN IFILL: There’s been mounting pressure on college and university campuses to take new steps to curb sexual assault. One approach, to redefine the way sexual consent is given through an affirmative form of consent that shifts the focus from no to yes. But that premise has jump-started its own debate.

    Hari Sreenivasan has our look.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: California recently made affirmative consent the law. And other states are considering similar moves, while many schools have made it a part of their policy.

    Here to discuss this are Jaclyn Friedman, editor of the book “Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape,” and Shikha Dalmia of the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank. She is also a columnist for the magazine “The Week.”

    So, Ms. Friedman, I want to start with you.

    Explain what exactly affirmative consent means, and why do you think it’s necessary?

    JACLYN FRIEDMAN, Editor, “Yes Means Yes!”: Affirmative consent is the basic principle that all people participating in a sexual act or experience with each other have to make sure that their partner is not only not objecting, but that they’re actually actively into whatever is happening.

    It’s really that simple. And if you can’t tell, you have to ask. It’s necessary because no means no, which we have all learned, is not adequate, right? There are a lot of situation where, if a person feels threatened or overpowered, they may freeze up and not protest, even though they don’t want anything to happen to them, or that they might be incapacitated from drugs or alcohol and can’t protest.

    And, oftentimes, these are used as defenses by rapists, and they get away with it, and are left free to re-offend. And so we really need to move to a standard that says it’s on all of us to make sure that our partners are actively enjoying whatever is happening between us, which seems also like a pretty basic human principle.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.

    Ms. Dalmia, that seems fairly logical. What’s wrong with it?

    SHIKHA DALMIA, Reason Foundation: It does, except that the consent is required under current law, too. No means no also means consent, that you cannot have sex with somebody who has not consented.

    The difference between no means no and yes means yes is that it puts the burden of proof on the person who has been accused to prove that they obtained consent, not on the person who was objecting or not giving consent.

    So, essentially, it changes the presumption in a very essential way, that the person who is accused will no longer be sort of assumed innocent until proven guilty. It will be the other way around.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Ms. Friedman, what about that switch, that the presumption has switched from guilt to — or innocence to guilt?

    JACLYN FRIEDMAN: Well, we don’t say that when we say that a kidnapper, when we ask a kidnapper, like, did you have permission to take them somewhere, right? So that doesn’t create presumption of guilt. So I don’t know see why it would be different in sexual assault.

    What it does is, it changes the default assumption that if you’re encountering someone sexually, currently, under current rules and regulations, the default is the assumption is that you can do whatever you want to their body until they stop you. And this just changes the default assumption, which is, you can’t do anything to anybody else’s body without their enthusiastic consent.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. So?

    SHIKHA DALMIA: Well, if you notice what Jaclyn was saying, it shifted from consent to enthusiastic consent, which is kind of what the problem is.

    It kind of mistakes how human sexuality actually works. People don’t — the way the yes means yes standard will work is that you have to give your enthusiastic consent, not just at the very beginning or at one point in the act. It has to be ongoing consent.

    So, you move from kissing to fondling to other acts, it has to be achieved at every step. That’s just not how human beings have sex. And, yet, this particular standard will put the burden of proof on the accused to prove that they somehow obtained enthusiastic consent, when that’s just not how things work in the bedroom.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Ms. Friedman, without even the word just enthusiastic, how practical is the implementation of it? Do couples have to have written consent, or have a text, or how do they prove this in court if things go back in their relationship?

    JACLYN FRIEDMAN: Look, the point of this — first of all, there are no courts. The affirmative consent law in California applies to college judicial boards, right?

    So, the question is, can you remain part of the campus community or not? There’s no courts involved. There are no jails involved. That’s not what we’re talking about. A campus community is a voluntary community that nobody has a right to join or remain in. So, I just want to clear that up.

    And campuses have an obligation under Title IX to provide a safe environment for all students, regardless of gender. And the Supreme Court ruled a long time ago that that applies to addressing rape and sexual violence on campus.

    Of course we are not talking about written consent, or you don’t need a notary in the room to touch my left breast. It’s very practical. I can tell you that I practice it all the time, and so do plenty of people. All it requires is that you pay attention to your partner. You can be enthusiastic about trying something. You can be enthusiastic about finding out how something goes.

    It’s not like you have to be at a peak sexual appearance the whole time. You just have to — if you’re unsure whether or not your partner is actively into whatever is happening, you just have to make sure. Whether that’s verbally, if you feel confident that you can read their body language, that’s — feel confident.

    You can say, you know, these are — this is the body language that I would point to. It’s just about staying present and in communication with your sexual partner, which is something that is going to make all of our sex lives better anyway.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, Ms. Dalmia, are you concerned that it impacts life beyond campuses?

    SHIKHA DALMIA: Yes.

    I mean, you know, feminists have made no secret about this. The campus yes means yes law is just a precursor to how they actually want to deal with rape cases in criminal settings, which is essentially changing the burden of proof from the person who is accusing to the person who is accused, which is actually very, very fundamental.

    We can claim that, well, you know, on campuses, you’re not actually throwing people in jail, so it’s OK. But the fact of the matter is that you are ruining lives. The problem, the central problem with yes means yes standard is, in my view, is that it will actually not do all that much to snag real rapists.

    It will go after people who actually didn’t, you know, mean any harm. They were not intending to rape or they’re not savvy enough to beat the system. They will essentially — people who are predators and savvy enough to rape are also savvy enough to lie in campus investigations.

    And the problem with yes means yes is that it doesn’t really essentially get over the he said/she said problem. So that problem remains the same. On the other hand, it will make it very, very difficult for innocent people to actually prove that they are innocent. So you will create a lot of victims in the course of actually solving a problem that isn’t quite the way it should be solved.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.

    Shikha Dalmia and Jaclyn Friedman, thanks to you both for your time.

    SHIKHA DALMIA: Thanks for having me.

    JACLYN FRIEDMAN: Absolutely. Thank you.

    The post Will saying yes to affirmative consent curb college sexual assault? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    tsunami

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    GWEN IFILL: We turn now to Indonesia and the remarkable recovery of a community that was nearly wiped out by natural disaster.

    NewsHour special correspondent Kira Kay reports.

    KIRA KAY: On a Sunday morning, the villagers of Lampuuk gather for a feast, celebrating the start of the harvest season. But Lampuuk is also celebrating the life that has returned to it, a decade after a wall of water swept the village away.

    Misran Yusuf is the village’s imam. He recalls a scene eerily like this one on December 26, 2004.

    MISRAN YUSUF (through interpreter): There was a wedding that day. We were preparing food, and, all of a sudden, an earthquake hit. It was so strong, people fell. We had no idea that the seawater would rise. We had never heard of a tsunami.

    KIRA KAY: The quake that hit offshore was a 9.1 on the magnitude scale. Within 20 minutes, waves 60 feet high hit the region at hundreds of miles per hour.

    MISRAN YUSUF (through translator): It sounded like thunder. I held my breath and the water came over the rooftops. When I surfaced, I saw people clinging to a tree trunk. They pulled me on board and we floated until we reached the next village.

    KIRA KAY: One hundred and thirty thousand people died, and whole communities vanished. Lampuuk’s lone standing mosque became an iconic image of the disaster. Ten years later, it is hard to picture that destruction on the streets of the capital city, Banda Aceh.

    The once shattered downtown is now firmly back in business. The riverside, choked with debris, is a thriving waterfront again. People overall seem happy. The tsunami had carved a new shoreline, disappearing whole blocks of the community of Ulee Lee. But now it is a favorite beach destination for families. Only small hints remain of what happened here.

    Mayor Illiza Sa’aduddin says the region has built back better.

    MAYOR ILLIZA SA’ADUDDIN DJAMAL, Banda Aceh, Indonesia (through interpreter): The economy has improved. Our poverty level has decreased to a rate that is below the national average. Our infrastructure is better than even before the tsunami. Roads are now reaching remote villages. There are a lot of lessons that Aceh can share about how we got back on our feet and how we were able to cooperate with many institutions.

    KIRA KAY: The international disaster response was a massive $7 billion in aid and reconstruction. While not entirely corruption-free, the process was overall transparent and responsive to actual need.

    The biggest challenge was to provide housing for half-a-million newly homeless. But, 10 years on, nearly everyone who needed a permanent home has gotten one.

    MURNI NASIIR (through interpreter): The tsunami feels like it was only a month ago. But, thank goodness, we have rebuilt our lives.

    KIRA KAY: Murni and Sakinah both lived in Ulee Lee and managed to outrun the waves. After living in a displacement camp, they were given houses in a sprawling community overlooking Banda Aceh, known as Jackie Chan Hill. The action star helped fund the construction.

    SAKINAH ABDULLAH (through interpreter): We’d prefer to stay here, rather than in Ulee Lee, where it’s so close to the sea. I get frightened even where’s wind like this, let alone an earthquake.

    KIRA KAY: In Lampuuk, 800 of the 1,000 residents died, but survivors chose to return to their ancestral land. And they now have an action plan.

    MISRAN YUSUF (through interpreter): If a quake is strong, we rush to the nearby hill. We also have people on lookout by the sea. If the level changes, they will rush here and alert us. I’m so grateful for the help from other countries. A lot of countries came. Even George Bush and Bill Clinton came to my village.

    KIRA KAY: Aceh’s gratitude to the world is clear. Banda Aceh’s central park has been turned into a monument of thanks, each donor country acknowledged individually. A world-class museum to the tsunami is a huge weekend draw. Most of the visitors are Acehnese, many too young to remember what happened here.

    The walls describe in detail the global response. And there are displays teaching the science at the root of the disaster. And, nearby, a startling sight, a massive electricity barge that was carried three miles inland by a wave and dropped in the middle of a neighborhood. Authorities decided to leave it in place.

    Lina Herlena is a certified tour guide.

    LINA HERLENA: It shows our strength. It shows our strength that after the tsunami, our lives have not stopped. Our lives have not ended. It also teaches our generation how to take the lessons from what has happened in the tsunami.

    KIRA KAY: These lessons extend to new emergency response procedures implemented by the city’s tsunami center.

    Dr. Ella Meilianda manages the program.

    ELLA MEILIANDA, Program Manager, Tsunami and Disaster Mitigation Research Center: The road is wider now. And the coastal road has been designed in a way that it is quite far away from the coastline. And then they have clear marks of evacuation routes.

    KIRA KAY: Tsunami sirens dot the skyline. They warn citizens when an earthquake of seven or higher is detected out at sea. When they sound, residents should make their way to a vertical evacuation site, water-resistant high-rises with a helipad pad on top.

    ELLA MEILIANDA: We have 17 junior high schools under our program. And for these schools, they know what to do. They have built their own evacuation route, where the meeting point for all these children, and how the parents should pick them up.

    KIRA KAY: But the first activation of the system didn’t go very well. In 2012, an 8.6 earthquake hit the area and people panicked, not following evacuation procedure and jamming the streets with vehicles.

    Meilianda agrees that more public training is still needed, but says the psychological legacy of 2004 is also to blame.

    ELLA MEILIANDA: Suddenly, it happened again, and they got really traumatized, and they don’t know what to do. It’s just like blank. What we have learned also throughout almost 10 years now is that the recovery is more toward the physical recovery, reconstruction, but not really on the trauma healing itself. It still needs to be done in a more sustainable way.

    KIRA KAY: Tour guide Lina is also a survivor. She finds a form of therapy through her work.

    LINA HERLENA: At the beginning of working here, I felt like it was very hard to talk to other people, to answer the same questions about what happened to me at the time. I feel like I experienced flashbacks. But as the time goes on, it has really helped me to recover from the trauma.

    KIRA KAY: Perhaps most startling in Aceh’s story of recovery is the perspective Acehnese share: that the tsunami, for all its destruction, also had a silver lining. It ended 30 years of civil war that had already torn apart society, leaving thousands dead and many people tortured by the occupying Indonesian military.

    DR. ELLA MEILIANDA: It was kind of like almost endless. I mean, we never thought that it would end at some point. But because of the tsunami, then everybody stopped and think, OK, we have to stop this conflict. So this is really like a blessing in disguise for the Acehnese community.

    KIRA KAY: Within months of the tsunami, the Indonesian government and separatist rebels signed a peace deal. The presence of aid organizations at the time kept Aceh open to the world and ensured the peace would hold.

    On a beach that 10 years ago was littered with the debris of people’s lives, the palm trees sheared off at the stump, Acehnese families today are enjoying a feeling of normality for the first time in decades, free from war, more prepared for disaster if it comes again, and grateful for the time they have now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Another result of the tsunami in Aceh was the implementation of Sharia law in the province.

    You can watch Kira’s earlier report, where she gained special access to the area’s religious police force, on our website. The stories were produced in partnership with the Bureau for International Reporting.

    The post Devastating 2004 tsunami cleared the way for better infrastructure in Indonesia appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Militant Islamist fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Joining me to help explain how the U.S.-led effort to destroy the Islamic State is affecting dynamics on the ground are Joshua Landis. He’s director for Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma. And Andrew Tabler, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

    And welcome to both of you back to the program.

    Andrew Tabler, let me start with you.

    This is almost an alphabet-like collection of groups in Syria. So I’m going to keep it simple, for my own sake. How significant is this latest news that al-Nusra has routed the Free Syrian Army, which the U.S., at least in part, has been supporting?

    ANDREW TABLER, Washington Institute for Near East Policy: Yes, I think it’s significant, in that it’s routed two primary groups in the Free Syrian Army, both of which the United States had supported in a covert program. So, it’s a setback for those moderate rebels.

    There are moderate rebels, though, elsewhere in the country, so they’re down, but certainly not out. I think the bigger question is what the implications of this all are for a different program, which is proposed by the Obama administration, and that is the train-and-equip program that has been — that has been earmarked and is going ahead that will be organized in neighboring countries.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The same question to you, Joshua Landis.

    First of all, how significant do you see this development that al-Nusra is gaining in parts of Syria that we — the U.S. considers strategic?

    JOSHUA LANDIS, University of Oklahoma: It underlines how difficult the U.S. is going to find trying to find partners in Syria altogether.

    Our partners are not popular in Syria. Today, the broad sentiments among Sunni Arabs who support the rebellion is that the United States is trying to find hired hands. And most Syrians don’t like them. We’re bombing Nusra. We’re bombing — this is the al-Qaida groups. And we have killed a number of people with the Islamic Front who are allied with them, a very popular, broad-based group.

    So, in — the general sentiment, I think, amongst the rebels is to turning against the United States, believe that the United States is helping Assad, and this is going to make life very difficult in trying to produce a Syrian army that’s going to have any effect on the real balance of power on the ground.

    And we have only spent — we have only earmarked half-a-billion dollars. That’s less than — that’s about a third of the endowment of the University of Oklahoma.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean — he raises the question, how does this affect what the U.S. is trying to accomplish?

    ANDREW TABLER: Sure.

    The goal of training and equipping the opposition continues and will go forward. The overall allocations will depend — the initial allocation to train 5,000, that could be rapidly increased. The problem remains, what are the forces that would go into the Euphrates Valley and take care of these jihadists and jihadists in general, like Jabhat al-Nusra, that are spreading inside of Syria?

    And so far, the regime isn’t just the solution. So, that’s the reason for the train-and-equip program. And finding allies would be — I think it would be harder if all Syrians still lived inside of Syria. But half of Syrians are actually outside or in the border areas of their country. So, actually, in a way, they could harness that power going forward. But it will be difficult, and it will be part — but it will be a key part of the U.S. strategy going forward.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Joshua Landis, how clear is it then what the U.S. should be doing and who the U.S. should be helping right now?

    JOSHUA LANDIS: What we’re going to see is that the Obama policy turns into really what he’s doing in Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, which is hitting, degrading ISIS from the air, as he’s doing presently, with drones and airplanes, and not really trying to fix Syria.

    And that’s the cheap method. What Andrew is proposing and what many people are talking about in Washington is building a Syrian army that can take on ISIS and Assad and put Syria back together again. I just don’t see any resolve to do that on the part of the president or, more importantly, on the part of the American people.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And is that right? Are you — is that what you’re suggesting? And…

    ANDREW TABLER: No, I think the president’s plan is clear. The White House says it’s clear.

    Now, the speed at which they can ramp this up, I think that there’s a recognition on the part of the White House, not that they’re not paying attention to Syria. It’s just the political solution isn’t clear there. Also, the indication is that the war is going to go on for a very long time. So I think that that to me indicates we could have a divided Syria for quite some time.

    And that would be where the FSA enters first and then going forward, there could be some kind of settlement.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Again, the Free Syrian — that’s the Free Syrian Army.

    ANDREW TABLER: Yes, the Free Syrian Army could have some kind of settlement with the Assad regime going forward, but this is very far off in the future.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Joshua Landis, for Americans, for anyone watching this who is wondering what is the United States’ stake right now in Syria, how do you see that? How do you answer the question, why does this matter for the United States?

    JOSHUA LANDIS: Well, I think it matters because a few Americans got their heads chopped off, and U.S. intelligence is telling us that there are people in al-Qaida in Syria who are trying to put together bombs and teams that will bomb the West.

    Now, they’re trying to run a counterterrorism operation, and, increasingly, that looks like it’s limited to that. They want to shove ISIS out of Iraq. The president’s been pretty clear about that. But Syria, we have a muddled message. Today, the Free Syrian Army groups that America has been supporting maybe control 1 percent of Syria, 2 percent.

    I don’t know how much it is, but it’s really nothing. And to imagine that America is going to somehow transform them into conquerors of half of Syria or even the whole of Syria, it begs the imagination.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me just get Andrew Tabler for the last word here.

    Why should Americans believe there’s any U.S. stake at this point?

    ANDREW TABLER: Right.

    Well, there is the terrorist threat. That’s — you know, that’s for sure. The other problem is that this is about a regional war that’s been going on by proxy, which the president has talked about on a number of occasions, between Iranian-backed regimes in Baghdad and in Damascus, and the Sunni-backed rebels inside of Syria.

    And that’s a much larger issue, given energy prices, given a whole slew of other things, including our treaty obligations. So, unless you solve Syria, you can’t solve or eventually not only degrade ISIS, but you can’t destroy it. And without doing a deal on Syria, we’re not going to be able to deal effectively with jihadists, not only in Syria, but Iraq and throughout the region.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And it’s looking more and more complicated almost by the day.

    ANDREW TABLER: Absolutely.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Andrew Tabler and Joshua Landis, we thank you.

    The post How do gains by al-Nusra affect U.S. strategy in Syria? – Part 2 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user JWPhotowerks

    Photo by Flickr user JWPhotowerks

    The little green army men finally marched into the National Toy Hall of Fame on Thursday after being halted at the gate as finalists two other years.

    The Strong’s National Toy Hall of Fame announced the 2014 inductees today: bubbles, little green army men and the Rubik’s Cube. The trio will be joining other classic toys like Barbie, G.I. Joe, Scrabble and the hula hoop after beating nine other finalists including American Girl dolls, My Little Pony and Fisher-Price Little People.

    The miniature plastic soldiers have been around since 1938 and represent mid-20th century U.S. Army infantry soldiers. Their popularity dwindled during the Vietnam War but their sales picked up in the 1980s and 1990s, especially after they starred in Pixar’s “Toy Story” films.

    The timeless puzzle Rubik’s Cube — twenty-six cubes that are designed to interlock and rotate around an axis that can be shuffled in 43-quintillion ways — was created in 1974 by Hungarian architecture professor Erno Rubik to demonstrate spatial relations.

    More than 350 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold since it launched in the U.S. in 1980, making it one of the best-selling toys of all time. The toy celebrated its 40th birthday in April with a new exhibit called “Beyond Rubik’s Cube.”

    The cubes have been widely popular among people of all age groups and set off organized competitions in more than 50 countries, including solving it blindfolded, one-handed, underwater with one breath, and with one’s feet. According to the Toy Hall of Fame, Mats Valk of the Netherlands set the record by solving the cube in 5.55 seconds.

    But perhaps bubbles are the most classic of them all: the earliest paintings of children playing with bubbles appeared during the 17th century in Europe, and London soap maker A. & F. created ads featuring children playing with bubbles in the 19th century. The inexpensive and clean toy sells more than 200 million bottles annually and has become an icon status with children across the world.

    So far, 56 toys have made it into the National Toy Hall of Fame. In order to get through the preliminary selection committee made up of toy collectors, designers and psychologists, a toy must be timeless through generations, have profoundly changed play or toy design, encourage learning and creativity and have established an iconic status.

    The post Little green army men, Rubik’s Cube and bubbles join the National Toy Hall of Fame appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    syria1

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. air campaign inside Syria broadened again last night, going beyond the targeting of the Islamic State group.

    Tonight, we take a closer look at the shifting dynamics on the ground in that war-torn nation.

    This video, posted by Syrian activists, purports to show the aftermath of U.S. airstrikes near Aleppo overnight. Targets included the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s Syrian proxy, and the so-called Khorasan group, said to include al-Nusra elements.

    Over the weekend, Nusra Front fighters routed two U.S.-backed rebel groups in neighboring Idlib province, and seized a major weapons cache. On the other hand, Nusra has also often allied itself with so-called moderate rebels against the Bashar al-Assad regime. Nusra and the Islamic State group split with each other in February over tactics.

    The weekend losses were a blow to Washington’s effort to build up those rebels. At the White House yesterday, President Obama said the U.S. and its allies must tread carefully in the Syrian maze to find someone who will battle the Islamic State group.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There are a lot of opposition groups in Syria. They fight among each other. They are fighting the regime. And what we’re trying to do is to find a core group that we can work with that we have confidence in.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Indeed, the dizzying array of groups fighting in Syria, includes the Syrian army of Bashar al-Assad, the Islamic State group, the al-Nusra Front. In addition, there are Kurdish militia, and the Free Syrian Army, or FSA, among others.

    They control different parts of Syria. The regime holds sway in the Western-central regions, parts of Damascus and Aleppo, and the coast. The Islamic State holds a band across Northern and Eastern Syria, toward Iraq. Al-Nusra is strong along the southern border near Israel and in the northwest. And the Kurds hold territory along the border with Turkey.

    Other groups and the FSA are strongest in the south. The Free Syrian Army and its allies still hold areas in the north, including a vital crossing into Turkey called Bab al-Hawa. Vital aid passes through here, a lifeline to rebels and to thousands of internally displaced Syrians. Now al-Nusra forces are closing in on the border crossing, as alliances once again shuffle.

    The post U.S. navigates complicated cast of opposition groups in search of partner to fight Islamic State – Part 1 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Speaker of the House Boehner points during news conference after midterm elections in Washington

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    GWEN IFILL: The political earthquake from Tuesday’s elections continues to reverberate. Today, it made its way to Capitol Hill, where there were new questions about whether the president and the soon to be Republican Congress can really get anything done.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER, Speaker of the House: My job is not to get along with the president just to get along with him, although we actually have a nice relationship. The fact is, my job is to listen to my members and listen to the American people and make their priorities our priorities.

    GWEN IFILL: A day after the post-election promises of cooperation, signs of sharper edges were beginning to show.

    Writing in The Wall Street Journal, House Speaker John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, the next Senate majority leader, outlined their objectives for the new Congress, among them, authorize the Keystone XL pipeline, overhaul the tax code, revise or repeal the Affordable Care Act, and rein in the federal debt.

    There was no mention of immigration reform, even though President Obama threatened yesterday to act on his own by year’s end.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If they want to get a bill done, whether it’s during the lame-duck or next year, I’m eager to see what they have to offer. But what I’m not going to do is just wait.

    GWEN IFILL: McConnell had warned that’s like waving a red flag at a bull. Boehner chose his own metaphors today to make the same point.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER: I believe that if the president continues to act on his own, he is going to poison the well. When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself. And he’s going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path.

    GWEN IFILL: As for Keystone, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the president will consider any bill Congress sends him, pending a court ruling.

    JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: That’s a process that currently is winding its ways through the State Department and one that right now is at least going to be influenced by the decision from a Nebraska judge about the proper route for that pipeline through that state.

    GWEN IFILL: The president has called congressional leaders to the White House tomorrow to discuss those issues and others directly.

    As the White House and congressional leaders retreat to their corners, we thought it might be worth taking one more look at who voted, what they thought they were voting for and whether the politicians heard.

    David Winston is president of The Winston Group, a Republican polling firm. Over the years, he has advised Republican congressional leadership. Fred Yang is a partner at the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, a Democratic polling firm.

    Examine for us, gentlemen, the 2014 electorate, and tell me what stands out for you.

    DAVID WINSTON, The Winston Group: Well, I mean, first off, it was a very traditional off-year electorate.

    And what that means is younger voters didn’t participate in the same level that they normally do in presidential years. And there wasn’t actually that much of a drop-off in terms of minority vote that was expected. African-Americans dropped off by one from an on-year to an off-year. And Hispanics dropped off by two.

    But this was actually in many ways a very typical off-year electorate.

    GWEN IFILL: An anti-Democratic one or an anti-Washington outcome?

    FRED YANG, Hart Research Associates: I think more — well, first of all, it’s hard to argue that, given what happened on Tuesday, there wasn’t some anti-Democrat voting.

    No, I think it was ultimately anti-Washington, and an electorate that had run out of patience with what they perceive as the status quo. And since the Democrats have the White House, we were the status quo.

    GWEN IFILL: This was an older — everybody agrees, an older, whiter, more male electorate, and that at least the Republican electorate was.

    And we have three examples to show you that would demonstrate that. One is nationally. Nationally, we discovered that white male Republicans are up — were up in 2012 to 64 percent from 62 percent, not a big number. But then look at the state of Georgia, where David Perdue, the senator-elect, is — got 79 percent of the white male vote, Republican there. And in Michigan, white male Republicans had grown five points since 2012 from 58 percent to 63 percent.

    So does that mean that the — we talked a lot on election night about the death of the Obama coalition. Does that mean that there should be more focus on wooing back white males?

    DAVID WINSTON: I think the challenge to Democrats at this point, after seeing their coalition fall apart, is not necessarily to start going cherry-picking groups. It’s thinking through the process of, what does a new majority coalition look like, if the Democrats are going to try to achieve it?

    I think, on the Republican side, we got there. We were certainly able to expand in terms of Hispanic vote, where we went from 29 percent to 36 percent. We did better with women this time. We did better — slightly better with younger voters as well, so we were able to grow that coalition.

    I think the challenge to Democrats, at least at this point, is think through, what does that new coalition look like? And it may include that demographic or it may not, but I think that’s the challenge.

    GWEN IFILL: That’s what the Republican tells a Democrat. So you get to get give him advice as well.

    FRED YANG: I’m — I’m taking notes, because…

    (LAUGHTER)

    FRED YANG: No.

    Look, I think the — there is an Obama coalition. It appears — and that’s — in some respects, also, David, it is a presidential turnout coalition.

    DAVID WINSTON: Yes, agreed.

    FRED YANG: And the challenge for Democrats, not just based on Tuesday, but, in 2016, President Obama won’t be on the ballot. And sort of, can we build on the Obama coalition? Can we make sure unmarried women, single women, minorities, young voters — one of the interesting statistics from the exit polls was, in presidential elections, under age 30 voters are a bigger share than over age 65 — on Tuesday night, 2-1 aged 65 over younger voters.

    So can we sustain our momentum with younger voters? But, look, ultimately, the Democrats, like the Republicans, are a national party. And I think that, as part of the post-election debriefing, I think we as a party need have, obviously, messages and priorities that resonate with the entire electorate, including white voters.

    GWEN IFILL: You’re talking about priorities.

    Both the president and Mitch McConnell and to some extent John Boehner today all said, you know, America wants us to get stuff done. Those were the president’s words. What stuff? Does it matter what stuff or just getting something done, anything?

    DAVID WINSTON: No, it matters what stuff.

    But, again, understand that the electorate here wasn’t saying, here are the 17 things we want done.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    DAVID WINSTON: To a large degree, what they’re saying is, they just ran out of patience with the president and they turned to Republicans and saying, you guys. We’re going to give you the chance to govern. This is your opportunity to do it.

    And the one thing they want done is economy and jobs. And so this is not a situation where there are seven things that are going to occur. They want kind of a reset. And that means, by the way, the president’s got to reset as well. And I think you heard, reading the piece that McConnell and Boehner did in The Wall Street Journal, they’re resetting as well.

    You’re right. They just want stuff done.

    FRED YANG: And I think that it would be a mistake for the Republicans to read Tuesday night as a mandate as some kind of economic agenda.

    I do agree with David that it was a mandate for impatience, that we sort of need to get things moving. I think the one opportunity, among many, for Democrats is, I don’t think the Republican Party articulated a positive agenda on Tuesday. It was anti-Obama, anti-this. And I do think there’s a chance for Democrats to seize on an economic narrative.

    GWEN IFILL: But are we now a center-right country, pretty much, based on those results, or is that just where we are today?

    DAVID WINSTON: No, we have been a center-right country for a while.

    And, again, the way I get to that, if you look at the exit polls, moderates are always the largest group, and then there are just more conservatives than liberals, so it’s center-right. But understand that where that center goes, both political and ideological, sets up the frame for how you build your majority coalition.

    FRED YANG: I agree with that.

    GWEN IFILL: You agree with that? You agree with him?

    FRED YANG: Look, people expect pollsters from different parties to disagree, but the numbers are the numbers.

    And, look, I think, on Tuesday night, the country might have shifted center-right. I think 2016 is a whole new ball game with a different electorate.

    GWEN IFILL: OK. Well, 2016 is going to be right on our heels any moment now.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: We will be back to talk to you about that as well.

    Fred Yang, David Winston, thank you both very much.

    DAVID WINSTON: Pleasure.

    The post Impatience with Washington drove off-year electorate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newswrap

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    GWEN IFILL: Republicans who will run the next Congress talked up their to-do list today. House Speaker John Boehner said it will include a new attempt to repeal the president’s health care law, but, if that fails, they will target individual items, including a medical device tax.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER, Speaker of the House: Listen, there are bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate to take some of these issues out of Obamacare. We need to put them on the president’s desk and let him choose.

    GWEN IFILL: We will have more on today’s events, and another look at what’s behind the election results, after the news summary.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The issue of gay marriage may be headed back to the Supreme Court after all. A federal appeals court in Cincinnati today upheld bans on same-sex unions in four states, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. That conflicts with rulings by other appeals panels, making it more likely the high court will have to issue a definitive decision.

    There’s word today that President Obama wrote last month to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, about the fight against Islamic State militants. The Wall Street Journal is reporting the letter described Iran’s shared interest in battling the militants in Iraq and Syria. The White House declined to discuss the correspondence, except to say again there will be no military cooperation with Iran.

    GWEN IFILL: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried today to quell a conflict around Jerusalem’s holiest site. It’s known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. There’s new unrest as Jewish activists demand greater access.

    But, today, Netanyahu said he telephoned the king of Jordan, who technically has custody of the site.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel: I explained to him that we’re keeping status quo on the Temple Mount, and that this includes Jordan’s traditional role there, as consistent with the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan. We have to make every effort to restore calm, quiet and security.

    GWEN IFILL: The tensions over the site have led to clashes there and elsewhere. There have also been several incidents of Palestinians driving vehicles into groups of Israelis in Jerusalem.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Libya’s high court handed Islamist militants a victory today and deepened that country’s political turmoil. The court declared that elections held in June were unconstitutional. It said the new parliament and government that’s been fighting the Islamists should be dissolved. The ruling was handed down in Tripoli, where the militants are in control.

    GWEN IFILL: One of the longest-held terror detainees at Guantanamo Bay is back in his home country. Fawzi al-Odah arrived in Kuwait early today. He’d been at Guantanamo since 2002. Last July, a review found al-Odah may have fought against the U.S. in Afghanistan, but he had only low-level training and wasn’t in a leadership position; 148 prisoners remain at Guantanamo.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A retired Navy SEAL has come forward to say he fired the shot that killed Osama bin Laden. Robert O’Neill told The Washington Post he spoke out because his identity was being leaked anyway. O’Neill acknowledges at least two other seals also fired shots during the raid at bin Laden’s Pakistan home in May 2011.

    GWEN IFILL: A close adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin is now the target of a U.S. investigation involving money laundering. The Wall Street Journal reports Russian billionaire Gennady Timchenko is suspected of using the American financial system to wash money from corrupt deals in Russia. The Kremlin today condemned news of the federal investigation. A spokesman charged it’s really targeted at Putin himself.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced today that it’s received its largest gift of art today, half-a-billion dollars’ worth. Jerry Perenchio, the former movie producer and CEO of the Spanish-language network Univision, pledged to donate 47 pieces. They include masterworks by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and Edgar Degas, among others. The bequest will take place after the aging billionaire’s death.

    GWEN IFILL: A Union Army officer who served in the Civil War has finally received the Medal of Honor 151 years after he died at Gettysburg. President Obama today honored 1st the Alonzo “Lon” Cushing of Wisconsin. In July 1863, he commanded a small force that helped break the Confederate assault known as Pickett’s Charge. Cushing was wounded repeatedly, but refused to leave the battle.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Lon ordered his men to continue firing at the advancing columns. He used his own thumb to stop his gun’s vent, burning his fingers to the bone. When he was hit the final time, as a poet later wrote, his gun spoke out for him once more before he fell to the ground. And Alonzo Cushing was just 22 years old.

    GWEN IFILL: The account of Cushing’s bravery was lost in the chaos after the battle. More than a century later, a historian in Wisconsin rediscovered his story, but it took years of research and letters before Congress awarded the medal.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On Wall Street today, upbeat economic reports helped lift the Dow and the S&P to record highs. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 70 points to close at 17,554; the Nasdaq rose more than 17 points to close at 4,638; and the S&P 500 added seven to close at 2,031.

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    Inventor John Steinbaugh answers the question: If you could invent something new, what would it be?

    This week the PBS NewsHour is launching a new series of reports on inventions and innovations called “Breakthroughs.” Over the coming months, we will showcase the economic and social changes that invention can generate both here and abroad. And we’ll highlight the passion of the inventors, the pathways they’ve taken and the changed lives of those who have benefitted from their creations.

    Our first report highlights a new medical device called the Xstat that was developed to stop uncontrolled bleeding on the battlefield — the leading cause of preventable deaths for soldiers. And it may one day soon be available to civilian first responders like EMT’s and the police.

    Over the course of the series, we plan to ask all our inventors the same two questions: If you could invent something new, what would it be? And who would it help?

    Today’s answer comes from inventor John Steinbaugh.

    We’ll post their answers below, and welcome your thoughts and feedback. Who knows? Maybe the next big idea is right here.

    The post This inventor’s next big idea? Goggles that would check vital signs appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Immortality isn’t something to be desired when it comes to your body’s cells. Those that continue to divide without ever dying can lead to the development of the most malignant kinds of tumors.

    Until now, the science behind cell immortality has been relatively unknown, despite its significance to cancer. But the Cell Cycle journal recently reported that researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a new way to create and study immortal human mammary epithelial cells.

    Unlike those extracted from tumor tissues, these new immortal cells have normal genomes. Studying them could provide greater insight into how cell immortalization occurs.

    Berkeley Lab scientist Martha Stampfer said it could also lead to treatment techniques.

    “We can also begin to think about ways to target this process therapeutically in order to prevent or reverse cancer progression.”

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    US-MILITARY-VAWASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald says his agency is considering disciplinary action against more than 1,000 employees as the VA. The agency is struggling to correct systemic problems that led to long wait times for veterans seeking health care and falsification of records to cover up delays.

    In an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” McDonald said the VA is taking “aggressive, expeditious disciplinary action, consistent with the law” against more than 1,000 of its 315,000 employees.

    The VA has been under intense scrutiny since a whistleblower reported that dozens of veterans may have died while awaiting treatment at the Phoenix VA hospital, and that appointment records were falsified. Since then problems have been revealed at VA sites across the country.

    The interview with “60 Minutes” will be broadcast Sunday.

    The post Veterans Affairs taking ‘aggressive’ disciplinary action against more than 1,000 employees appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    drew1

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: On any given afternoon in Braddock Pennsylvania on the outskirts of Pittsburgh you’ll find Drew Whitley in Stambolis Meat Shop helping to clean up. It’s about all he can do now. He takes valium for an anxiety that is very real for him.

    What’s your life been like?

    DREW WHITLEY: Some days I wake up with nightmares from the night before. You know I st ill have nightmares that I’m locked up. If they locked you up for getting life without parole for somethin’ you– for something they know you didn’t do, ain’t no tellin’ what they might do, far as I’m concerned.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So you are still living in fear of the justice system?

    DREW WHITLEY: Oh, yes. I think I’ll be that way for the rest of my life.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Whitley’s fear and anxiety are based on fact. In 1989, Whitley, who had two previous convictions for theft and receiving stolen property, was convicted in the high profile murder of Noreen Malloy, a 22-year-old McDonald’s manager in Duquesne, Pennsylvania, another town near Pittsburgh. Although he always maintained his innocence.

    DREW WHITLEY: I’m hoping the judge will grant the DNA test so the whole city of Pittsburgh can see that they got another innocent man.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: He served 18 years in prison before DNA testing proved that hairs found in the killer’s ski mask did not belong to him. In 2006, he was set free.

    Eight years later, Drew Whitley’s exonerated life is anything but easy. He gets a disability check for $700 a month. Just last year at age 58 he moved out of his mother’s home into a tiny two room apartment which costs him nearly half his check.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Did people assume that as soon as you were exonerated that you would be paid money?

    DREW WHITLEY: Oh, yes. I did too. Me too. Yes, and it should be like that in every state.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But for all of his time spent wrongfully convicted in prison, all he left with was $100 that he earned working in the prison laundry. He didn’t get another penny from the state.

    While 30 states do offer compensation to the wrongfully convicted, Pennsylvania along with 19 others offers nothing.

    Exoneree Compensation 4 the web

    But even where there is compensation available, it is far from equal.

    For example, Texas pays all exonerees $80,000 for each year they were wrongfully imprisoned, and the state is one of the few that also offers some medical care, life skills, and vocational training once they get out.

    In New Hampshire, however, the maximum amount an exoneree is entitled to is $20,000, no matter how long the innocent person spent in prison.

    The federal government has its own standard, offering $50,000 for each year of wrongful incarceration.

    But while there have been efforts since at least 2009 in the Pennsylvania legislature to introduce a compensation statute, it’s gone nowhere.

    Those who oppose a proposed compensation statute in Pennsylvania say there is “lack of regard for innocent victims.” and that they have been shown “no evidence of the need for such a law.”

    BILL MOUSHEY: If anybody had any kind of morals in the government, when something like that happened, they should reach out and fix it. And that’s not what happens. They fight. They don’t fix.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Bill Moushey is a journalism professor at Point Park University in Pittsburgh and a Pulitzer Prize nominated reporter. For years he and his students have investigated cases of the wrongfully convicted in Pennsylvania. His reporting in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette helped get Drew Whitley exonerated, and he still gets upset by cases like Whitley’s.

    BILL MOUSHEY: They used to have hopeless looks in their eyes when I’d look at ‘em across the table in a prison. But now they have helpless looks. And I think the helpless is a lot worse.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Why?

    BILL MOUSHEY: Because they worked their whole lives in prison to get out of prison because they didn’t do whatever it was they were charged with. And then they get out and nothing is the way they appear– it should have been. They are just thrown on the scrapheap of life like they were the day they walked into prison. And the only difference is, is that they’re only prisoners of their own homes now and not of the state.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What kind of support services exist for them after they’re out?

    BILL MOUSHEY: None.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In fact, Moushey says that when they are released those who have been convicted are in many ways better off than those who have been convicted but are later cleared.

    BILL MOUSHEY: If you get paroled in Pennsylvania or any state, you’re put under a very restrictive series of covenants where, you know, they blood test you for drugs, they make you go get a job, they lead you to job search agencies, they show you how to build a resume, they show you a variety of other things that are supposed to help you meld back into society. When you get exonerated, they open the door and say, “See ya later.”

    HARI SREENIVASAN: There is another option to try to get compensated: suing. That’s what Jeffrey Deskovic did. Like Drew Whitley, Deskovic was also wrongfully convicted of murder, and even had an additional charge for rape in New York state, and served almost as much time in prison before he was also exonerated in 2006 by DNA.

    But he sued and was awarded more than $ 13 million dollars by the state of New York and the other municipalities involved in his conviction. And just last month, he won another multimillion dollar judgement.

    Now, Deskovic is working in his own way to make sure people don’t have to go through what he did. He set up a foundation with his settlement money to help investigate other possible wrongful convictions across the country as well as offer financial and social support to other exonerees — sometimes with something as simple as a regular karaoke night with other guys who are wrongfully convicted.

    JEFFREY DESKOVIC: It’s cathartic for me. And I feel like I’m making a difference. And I’m tryin’ to make my suffering count for something.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Even so, Deskovic says suing was an arduous process. After 16 years in prison, he spent another decade trying to make it right.

    JEFFREY DESKOVIC: It took less than a year for me to get to a trial and to be wrongfully convicted on the criminal side. And in terms of getting a settlement, it took five years. And then to even get a civil rights trial, eight years. And then no social services in the meantime.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Drew Whitley sued in Federal Court alleging that his civil rights were violated. But the bar for proving misconduct is high. Even though a federal judge agreed that police were negligent, she ruled against his lawsuit saying, “A reasonable officer in 1989 would not have fair warning that conducting a reckless investigation was unconstitutional.”

    So, even though there are admissions of mistakes and of shoddy police work, Drew Whitley is unlikely to get paid by Pennsylvania.

    BILL MOUSHEY: Well, not unlikely. He’s not gonna get paid. He sued. The judge threw the case out. And there’s really no recourse, unless we had a compensation package. And we don’t.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: If all this strikes you as arbitrary that one wrongfully convicted person is paid while another is not, it’s because our criminal justice system is largely decided by each individual state.

    BERNARD HARCOURT: We’re dealing with, you know, 50 different states plus the federal government, right. And they take different views about these matters.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Bernard Harcourt is a law professor at Columbia University who studies punishment in the criminal justice system. He says that while compensation packages may be the more immediate and certain route for helping exonerees, multimillion dollar lawsuits could have a larger impact.

    BERNARD HARCOURT: One of my fears really is that if you have a too straightforward system where anyone who is wrongfully convicted gets 50,000 dollars a year, we stop paying attention. You lose the impetus to really try to make sure that no one actually goes through this.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Having been through it himself, Deskovic says that preventing wrongful convictions is even more important than compensating exonerees after the fact.

    JEFFREY DESKOVIC: It could never give me my years back. I would be willing to not only give the money back. I’d be willing to go into debt for that amount of money, maybe even double it, to have had my years back, to have had a normal– had– had a normal– life.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A normal life is all Drew Whitley was hoping for when he was exonerated.

    What were your expectations for your life when you got out?

    DREW WHITLEY: A good place to stay, food to eat and transportation. That’s all I really want outta life. Like everybody else. I don’t wanna– I don’t wanna be filthy rich or a millionaire, or whatever. I just want a place to stay. Roof over my head and transportation.

    The post Exonerated but not free: What do we owe the wrongfully convicted? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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     Photo by Hill Street Studios/Blend Images via Getty.

    Photo by Hill Street Studios/Blend Images via Getty.

    Tuesday may not have been a good day for the president’s economic record, but the month before the election was a good one for the economy. October saw payroll gains of 214,000, while the unemployment rate ticked down to 5.8 percent — the second straight month below 6 percent. That hasn’t happened since before the financial crash in 2008.

    A recent discovery Making Sen$e made about the headline payroll number of each month’s jobs report may help explain at least a little bit about the disconnect between strong economic figures and the health of the labor market as felt by the millions of Americans still looking for good jobs. But first, a recap of Friday’s report.

    A Sunny Report

    The civilian labor force increased for the first time in two months, and there were nearly 270,000 fewer people unemployed. For months, we’ve been making a distinction between the unemployment rate falling because fewer people are actually unemployed and because more people are simply dropping out of the workforce — either because they’re fed up with not finding a job (remember, you must be actively looking for the BLS to count you as “unemployed”) or because they’re ready to retire. But this month, the number of people not in the labor force declined, and the labor force participation rate ticked up. In other words, the unemployment rate fell for the right reasons.

    The number of jobs added, which comes from a separate survey of employers, was still fewer than the 235,000 or so expected. In September, the economy added 248,000 jobs — revised up in the latest report to 256,000. And although October’s payroll number is below the six-month average, it’s important to remember that it really is the average that counts, especially when the margin of error on the employer survey is as great as plus or minus 90,000 jobs. It’s not unlikely October’s number will be revised upward in the coming months, too, said economist Justin Wolfers.

    There were other signs of a healthy recovery in Friday’s report. According to the household survey, 683,000 people reported finding a job last month. We haven’t seen a boost that big since last fall. “It surely wasn’t that good,” Wolfers cautioned, suggesting we should interpret that number with a grain of salt, “but we shouldn’t throw it out altogether.” And actually, Wolfers added, if you tuned the algorithm that adjusts for pre-holiday hiring spurts in the establishment survey, payroll gains might be more like 233,000.

    The BLS’s own measure of the underemployed (the “U6”) declined to 11.5 percent, as did Making Sen$e’s own more inclusive metric of unemployment (“the U7”). At 13.97 percent, it sits as its lowest since we began calculating it in 2011.

    What’s Not to Like?

    Even if the economy’s not exactly bouncing, it’s still chugging, and with a heck of a lot more steam than just a year ago, when the unemployment rate was 7.2 percent. Why, then, did two-thirds of voters tell exit pollsters on Tuesday that the economy is getting worse?

    Politicking aside, one possibility is that there are still weak spots. Wages are flat, growing less than the rate of inflation over the year.

    And partialized employment is still a big problem, said Wolfers. “There are a lot more people looking for extra hours than should be looking at this point in the recovery.” Nearly 7 million Americans qualify as involuntary part-timers because they are, in BLS-speak, “working part-time for economic reasons.” In other words, they want full-time work but can’t find any. The BLS’s official unemployment rate excludes those 7 million people.

    Hidden Part-Time Workers

    But the number of part-time workers may actually be even higher than 7 million. As Making Sen$e has recently discovered, there’s another whole pool of part-time workers whom the government counts as full-time employees. How can that be? To count as a full-time worker, you must work 35 hours or more. But what if you work two or more part-time jobs that add up to 35 hours?

    Several months ago, when we first asked Wolfers whether those part-time workers would be counted as full-timers, he said, of course not, no, but then quickly realized that, yes, in fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics would count them as full-time employees.

    According to the BLS, in data not disclosed in their monthly report, 1.2 million workers toil at multiple part-time gigs with hours adding up to or surpassing 35 hours. On paper, they’re full-time workers. At work, at home, and shuttling between shifts, though, they’re part-timers who may not enjoy the benefits, convenience or stability that comes with holding one full-time position.

    The Real Shocker

    Even more shocking is that the BLS’s headline number of jobs added each month — the figure that can move markets and shape headlines — makes no distinction between full-time and part-time payroll gains. “So if you’re on for an hour,” Wolfers said, “you’re counted as having a job” in the survey of employers.

    We weren’t the only ones blown away by that fact. Nobel laureate Paul Krugman was surprised, too. “That makes sense, actually, in part of the broader context,” he said. “Unemployment doesn’t look that high, but the situation of workers doesn’t feel anything like full employment,” Krugman said. Case in point: if we added that extra million part-timers to our expanded pool of job-hunters, Making Sen$e’s U7 would be higher — more like 14.45 percent of Americans unemployed.

    Now, most jobs created are full-time, Wolfers suggested, based on what we know from the household survey. Only about 1.5 million Americans hold multiple part-time jobs. And the official number of involuntary part-timers included in October’s report actually fell slightly.

    But all of this is to say that while the recovery is still going strong, there are plenty of individuals, whether they’re working part or full-time or not at all, for whom finding good jobs is still a struggle.

    Learn more about the BLS’ undercounting of part-timers on Friday’s NewsHour and hear from multimedia producer Ellen Rolfes, herself a former part-timer, who helped us come upon this discovery.

    The post The startling fact you, we and Paul Krugman didn’t know about the jobs report appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Twenty five years ago Sunday, thousands of Berliners jumped on top of the Berlin Wall as a divisive era came to an end.

    Five years earlier, Kiddy Citny of West Berlin began to paint the wall with two of his friends, Theirry Noir and Christophe Bouchet.

    “The wall in the eighties was the most concrete manifestation … of the so called ‘cold-war’ East-West war games,” Citney told Art Beat in an email. “I wanted to make the grey, ugly West-side wall colorful and start painting to isolate East Berlin — die hauptstadt der DDR — with art.”

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Citny describes the experience of painting the wall as a game of cat and mouse, but he says he was never in any real danger.

    All these years later, his wall art has traveled all over the world, in private collections, in Paris and New York, in front of the U.N. Headquarters.

    “I feel honored that my paintings with the kings and hearts are strewn all over the world. It’s wonderful to be able to witness it — my wall art as a monument,” said Citny. “It’s fantastic to be part of the falling of the wall. After the unification my images were interpreted as symbols of hope and freedom.”

    His work is also exhibited in Berlin at Blaue Stunde Galerie in Prenzlauer Berg in honor of the anniversary. The exhibition runs from Oct. 25 to Nov. 30.

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    Photo courtesy Kiddy Citny

    The post Photo gallery: Berlin Wall paintings survive as symbols of hope 25 years later appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    shieldsbrooks2

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The midterm elections came and went this week, as you may have noticed, and Republicans rode the wave to control Congress.

    To break it all down, we turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Gentlemen, you have had three whole days to digest the results of this election.

    What was the main message, David?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think it was just the breadth of the Republican victory.

    We were all focused on whether it would be seven or eight seats in the Senate. But the more impressive thing, they obviously won the Senate, they won the House, they have kept the House. But just in the states, I didn’t expect the governorships in all these Midwestern states, Bruce Rauner’s win in Illinois, the win in Maryland.

    They control two-thirds of the governorships. They have never had, at least not in the last century, this many state legislators, this many legislators in all the different states. They control unprecedented levels of state legislators. They have now got a farm team across the country of rising politicians who will rise.

    And so they have become, with two-thirds control of all these states, these governorships and now majority control in both houses of Congress, the governing, the dominant governing party in the country.

    And what they do with it remain to be seen, but a lot of people have said, oh, the Republican is so extreme, it’s a dinosaur, and I have even said some of that, over-relying on some of the demographics. But they are the dominant party in this country right now. And how can you be out of the mainstream if you dominate that much?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What was your main takeaway 72 hours later?

    MARK SHIELDS: Thrashing, trouncing.

    (LAUGHTER)

    MARK SHIELDS: You used wave.

    No question about it, it was a repudiation of Democratic governance. And I — like David, I was particularly struck and impressed by the Republican victories in deep blue states, in states that Barack Obama carried twice, and deep blue states like Massachusetts, Illinois and Maryland in particular, but the reelection of controversial Republican governors like Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Rick Scott in Florida.

    Beyond that, there were 256 Democrats in the House of Representatives the day that Barack Obama took oath of office in 2009. There will be about 185 six years in. So the Senate goes from 60 Democrats to 45. I mean, those are numbers that are just of hemorrhage, dimensions and proportions. And it’s a real rejection of Democrats.

    The president, I thought, was rather cavalier in his press conference when he said, the Republicans had a good night. The Republicans have had a good six years at the polls, with the exception of the president’s election and reelection.

    I just think it’s — for Democrats, it’s a terrible, terrible, crushing defeat, and one that leaves them, I hope, engaged in serious introspection, because they went through a campaign where they had no economic message.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, something else the president said was that, yes, he hears what the people who voted said, but he also notices the two-thirds who he said didn’t vote.

    So, is this — David, is this a diminished result? Does it mean less because you had a lower turnout, I guess the lowest turnout in decades?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I don’t think so. First of all, you win. You get the power. You have control of the office.

    Second thing is, not turning out is a vote. The president failed to mobilize, the Democrats failed to mobilize their people. And the Republicans succeeded in mobilizing their people. And that’s because there was so much disappointment and dispiritment even on the Democratic side with the Obama administration.

    And so I don’t think it invalidates what happens. And even in states where the turnout was pretty good, like Colorado, Republicans did quite well. Now, if they had a presidential year, turnout, would it look different? Obviously. But an election result is an election result. That’s an excuse.

    The core problem for the Democrats is that they have — they’re intellectually exhausted. They have a diagnosis of a big problem of inequality. They have — they’re on the heels of a financial crisis caused in part by Wall Street. This should be a golden left-wing moment. This should be a progressive moment in this country.

    And they don’t have even the twinkle of a big agenda. And they don’t — the instrument they rely on, government, is mistrusted. And so it’s not a progressive era, but this should be a big left-wing era, if they had a set of ideas.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, just an excuse that the turnout was low and you didn’t really hear — you didn’t hear from as many voters as you needed to, to understand what the American people really want?

    MARK SHIELDS: Judy, you only get to complain in democracy if you vote. I mean, it’s that simple.

    Now, I’m not talking about efforts to suppress people or make it difficult for them to register. I’m talking about — which I think we all abhor, and I know everybody on this panel does. But I’m talking about people who just don’t disturb themselves.

    But you have to give people a reason. It’s great to have the mechanics and slice and dice the electorate and to find out that this voter likes foreign movies and is a vegan and goes to church every other Sunday, but unless you have got a message for them — now, I don’t — I, quite frankly, don’t see what the Republicans — the Republicans who won don’t come with any cohesive message themselves.

    All 14 of the ones who were running and the ones who won, with the exception of Shelley Moore Capito…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean in the Senate.

    MARK SHIELDS: In the Senate — all want to repeal, are on record wanting to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
    Every one of them is against any legal status, citizenship, path to citizenship under immigration. So Domenico’s observation and report earlier that there would be nothing on immigration reform is just borne out. I mean, these are not people who came on a — running on a platform of, we’re going to cooperate with the president, we want to work closely with the White House.

    Quite the opposite. And they going to take the party — I think Mitch McConnell and John Boehner right now realize that, as David has pointed out, that the Republican Party has to show some governing capability, and — but these are people who didn’t come here to establish a record of collegiality.

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think I disagree a little on those big issues that Mark mentioned, obviously. I mean, I agree with Mark that, on the big issues of immigration, on whether they are going to repeal health care, there’s going to be no cooperation.

    I do think those opportunities — and I think the Republicans, especially Boehner and McConnell, have done a reasonably good job in the days since the election of indicating a willingness to cooperate on at least on some things. There are some things for which there is bipartisan support, the Keystone pipeline, patent reform, trade policy, the medical devices tax.

    There is maybe a half-dozen medium and small things to be done. And it seems to me that — it is possible at least to get something passed, which we haven’t had in the last four years. And that’s endangered either if the Ted Cruz of the Republican Party takes over, which wants maximum confrontation, or it’s endangered if the president pushes this immigration thing, in which he grants a lot of people effective amnesty, millions of people, if he redefines their status.

    That would be regarded by Republicans as extremely confrontational and that would end any hope of compromise.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But why…

    (CROSSTALK)

    DAVID BROOKS: … slightly willing to compromise on a few things, at least

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But why is that any more confrontational than the Republicans saying, we’re going to go after and try to kill health care reform again?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I think if they lead with health care repeal, I do think that would be. And if the president leads with that immigration reform, that would be as well. But start with the small stuff.

    MARK SHIELDS: They — repealing taxes is not controversial.

    And gridlock and dysfunction…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The medical device…

    (CROSSTALK)

    MARK SHIELDS: Medical device taxes. I mean, you have got to come up with $29 million — billion dollars to make up for it.

    And I think every Republican I heard this year is on record against any tax increases. So, that’s one thing. The second thing, Judy — and I think it’s awfully important to point out that Mitch McConnell now is against gridlock and dysfunction.

    There were 458 times during Barack Obama’s six years in office that there had been a filibuster or the threat of a filibuster to stop the Senate from acting. During Dwight Eisenhower’s eight years, there were two. During Ronald Reagan’s, there were 75 in eight years.

    This is in six years. So it’s going to be a total — it’s going to be a 180 if, in fact, this does happen. And the Senate is tough, because all it takes is one person to stop it. And you can talk about it’s not being a Ted Cruz caucus or a Mike Lee caucus. But I really think it’s going to be a problem for the Republicans. And I think that’s where the action is, is to watch that dynamic.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So you’re saying you don’t take Mitch McConnell at his word when he says, I’m looking for ways to cooperate? I’m first going to look for areas of agreement with the president, is what he said.

    MARK SHIELDS: I think he understands it’s important for the — if the Republicans are going to be a governing party and seen as responsible and an alternative in 2016 to national leadership, they have to demonstrate, now that they’re in charge, that they can pass something besides a motion to adjourn or a Mother’s Day resolution.

    And I think that he understands that. I think the trade authority is a natural one, because it divides Democrats and it unites Republicans, and with the president, who wants that trade authority. I think the — and probably the medical device taxes.

    But I think, once you start to get into issues like immigration and what we do with the environment, you have got candidates who want to abolish EPA. You have got — who just got elected. You have got a senator from Iowa who wants to not raise the minimum wage, wants to abolish the minimum wage.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David, you’re saying you still see that there is some space here to get…

    (CROSSTALK)

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Let’s not go from nursery school to graduate school. Let’s try kindergarten.

    And we can get some legislative kindergarten, some small things. And some of the things can be economic. I think you can get some proposals, to maybe even early childhood, though that may be a stretch. But there are some — there may be some things, some infrastructure. There has certainly been bipartisan support for that, lowering the tax rate, something to get more people a little happier about the economy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to come back though to the president, because both of you referred to not a message.

    And yet, when we heard from the president, he was saying, again, you know, he said, I hear you, and he also seemed — I mean, he’s insisting, Mark, on immigration reform, which is what we’re talking about.

    It’s that if he doesn’t get it, then he’s going to act. Do you think the president got a message from this election, I guess, is my question.

    MARK SHIELDS: I’m not sure.

    I will say this, Judy. If you were a Republican who lost in 1982 in Ronald Reagan’s first midterm, you had the comfort and the consolation of having voted for something big, even though you lost, or the same thing if you were a first-term Democrat with Bill Clinton or even a first-term Democrat in Barack Obama. You had voted for affordable care. You had voted for stimulus. You had voted for Dodd-Frank. You had really taken some tough stands.

    You lose in 2012 and you lost because of the climate of this administration has created because of Veterans Administration, because of Ebola, because of the Secret Service, because the sense that they — of ineptitude of governing, not because of tough heroic stands or votes you have cast. And so there is a certain resentment, and I’m not sure the president has gotten that message.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    Well, politically, they obviously made a mistake by thinking demographics could carry them along the way and they didn’t actually need issues. And that was a consultants’ fantasy. And that hurt the Democrats.

    On President Obama, the immigration thing is important. I support the idea of giving all these people this new status. But doing it by executive functioning — function, executive action, redefining the status of millions of people without a law, without going through the normal process, that strikes me as an extreme abuse of executive power, whether you support it on policy or not.

    And that is why that particular action that he’s talking about is so confrontational, because it’s not only policy a lot of Republicans object to it. But as members of Congress, they object to it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right. Well, we never object to the two of you. We’re so glad you’re here.

    David Brooks, Mark Shields, thank you.

    The post Shields and Brooks on Republican victory, immigration confrontation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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