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- 11/07/14--15:20: _What to watch at As...
- 11/07/14--15:22: _Brooklyn prosecutor...
- 11/07/14--15:25: _How mini sponges co...
- 11/07/14--15:30: _Behind Detroit’s ‘g...
- 11/07/14--15:35: _Positive jobs repor...
- 11/07/14--15:40: _White House meeting...
- 11/07/14--15:45: _Supreme Court will ...
- 11/07/14--15:50: _News Wrap: VA secre...
- 11/08/14--08:00: _Who’s to blame for ...
- 11/08/14--09:13: _Americans Kenneth B...
- 11/08/14--09:35: _Documentary series ...
- 11/08/14--09:39: _Obama’s plan to exp...
- 11/08/14--10:54: _Producer’s Notebook...
- 11/08/14--12:58: _More diverse emojis...
- 11/08/14--14:51: _Philippines marks o...
- 11/08/14--14:52: _ALMA telescope spot...
- 11/08/14--15:22: _‘Is this mission cr...
- 11/08/14--15:25: _Brandi Chastain: Ge...
- 11/09/14--08:15: _If the economic new...
- 11/09/14--08:47: _Beijing aims for sm...
- 11/07/14--15:20: What to watch at Asia’s APEC summit
- 11/07/14--15:22: Brooklyn prosecutor Loretta Lynch nominated as next Attorney General
- 11/07/14--15:25: How mini sponges could save lives on the battlefield and beyond
- 11/07/14--15:30: Behind Detroit’s ‘grand bargain’ to emerge from bankruptcy
- 11/07/14--15:35: Positive jobs report may not reassure Americans with part-time work
- 11/07/14--15:40: White House meeting underlines thorny political territory ahead
- 11/07/14--15:45: Supreme Court will consider new Affordable Care Act challenge
- 11/07/14--15:50: News Wrap: VA secretary to announce department shake-up
- 11/08/14--08:00: Who’s to blame for El Salvador’s gang violence?
- 11/08/14--09:13: Americans Kenneth Bae, Matthew Todd Miller released from North Korea
- 11/08/14--09:35: Documentary series probes gang violence in Guatemala and Honduras
- 11/08/14--09:39: Obama’s plan to expand role in Iraq hinges on OK from Congress
- 11/08/14--12:58: More diverse emojis coming to a smartphone near you
- 11/08/14--14:51: Philippines marks one year since Typhoon Haiyan with a pop of color
- 11/08/14--14:52: ALMA telescope spots birth of a planet in ‘milestone’ discovery
- 11/08/14--15:25: Brandi Chastain: Get rid of heading from soccer for kids under 14
- 11/09/14--08:15: If the economic news is good, why did voters say it’s bad?
- 11/09/14--08:47: Beijing aims for smog-free foreign leaders’ summit
President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other heads of state will meet in China’s capital Beijing early next week for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, or APEC. Here are some of the areas to watch.
Competing trade deals
Trade agreements will be high on the agenda at the conference. China wants a Pacific Rim-wide free-trade zone known as the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific to be in place by 2025, while other member of APEC are focusing on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which covers 12 Pacific Rim countries including the United States — but not China. The U.S. agreement is further along, but Washington is still working out terms with Japan.
Watch a report on U.S.-Japan trade discussions during President Obama’s visit to Japan in April.
Another agreement on the table is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which does include China, along with the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
Alan Bollard, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation secretariat executive director, said member nations were working to determine whether the massive trade deals would overlap, according to the South China Morning Post.
On the eve of the summit, China and Japan announced in a carefully crafted statement that one of the causes of their recent tensions was the East China Sea islands, but they still wanted to resume talks and keep the situation from escalating.
China and Japan are involved in a territorial dispute over fishing and oil and gas rights around the islands. Their late-breaking agreement marks a thawing of relations between the two countries, which haven’t had a high-level meeting for nearly two years. It also paves the way for President Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to meet at the summit on Monday or Tuesday.
The meeting in itself will be a symbol of renewed cooperation and might generate an even more concrete statement about de-escalating tensions, said Minxin Pei, director of international and strategic studies and a professor at Claremont McKenna College in California.
Chinese officials, who allegedly squirreled away money in foreign bank accounts, prefer to hide in Australia, Canada and the United States — countries that don’t have formal extradition treaties with China, said Pei.
When asked about the extradition issue at a State Department press conference on Thursday, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that without an extradition treaty, the United States handles requests on a case-by-case basis.
China might seek a statement of support at the APEC summit for cooperation in anti-money laundering operations, Pei said.
Over the past decade, APEC has developed anti-corruption initiatives. Its latest is a network of law enforcement authorities called ACT-NET to promote cooperation among agencies fighting corruption, bribery, money laundering and illicit trade.
In a call to action at the U.N. Climate Summit in September, President Obama spoke of setting aside “old divides” and urged all nations to do their part to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. China’s Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli followed up by saying China is working on meeting its own targets of reducing carbon emissions by 40-45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and will participate in the international climate conference held in Paris in 2015.
But with the Republican gains in U.S. midterm elections, Pei said, “My thought is the Chinese will be very skeptical about anything President Obama says. You will hear some political rhetoric, but no commitment.”
Human rights and a state visit
After the formal APEC summit, President Obama is staying on for a “state visit” — and China is promoting it as such to entice a return invitation, said Pei. “President Xi Jinping is very eager to visit the U.S. This is politically important for him” to show he is respected by the United States.
During that part of the trip, President Obama might broach other global issues, including China’s assistance in the fight against Ebola in West Africa and lack of involvement in the campaign against Islamic State militants in the Middle East, said Pei.
In addition, President Obama could bring up human rights matters, including China’s arrest of human rights activists and media censorship, Pei said. “If President Obama does not bring up this sensitive topic, he will face quite a bit of criticism at home.”
Updated 6:22 p.m. EDT
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has chosen a federal prosecutor in New York to become the next attorney general.
The White House says in a statement that Obama intends to nominate U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder as the head of the Justice Department.
The White House calls Lynch “a strong, independent prosecutor.”
If Lynch is confirmed, she will be Obama’s second trail-blazing pick for the post. Holder was the first black attorney general and she would be the first black woman.
Lynch is the U.S. attorney for Eastern New York, which covers Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island.
A formal announcement is planned Saturday at the White House.
The post Brooklyn prosecutor Loretta Lynch nominated as next Attorney General appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tonight, the “NewsHour” begins a new series on invention and innovation called Breakthroughs.
Over the coming months, we will explore the economic and social change invention generates both here and abroad, highlighting the passion of the inventors and the people who benefit from their creations.
The “NewsHour”‘s Cat Wise has our first report, which looks at a new device to stop uncontrolled bleeding on the battlefield and that may one day save the lives of civilians.
A warning: Some of the images may be disturbing to some viewers.
NARRATOR: The fight for terrain is up forward. Back here is the fight to save life.
CAT WISE: Throughout the history of war, from battles long ago to the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, medics on the front lines have had one main goal: keep the injured alive until they can be safely evacuated to a treatment center.
While those killed in action since the beginning of the Iraq war are almost 90 percent fewer than during the Vietnam War, due in part to better medic training and faster evacuations, one of the biggest challenges medics still face is uncontrolled bleeding. It is the leading cause of preventable battlefield deaths.
And while tourniquets can be applied to certain extremity wounds, some areas of the body, like the armpit and pelvis, are difficult to compress. For those wounds, military medics have had to rely on a very simple tool.
JOHN STEINBAUGH, RevMedx: For centuries, everybody’s used gauze to stop bleeding. Back to the earliest times, you pack material into a wound, and attempt to put pressure on it.
CAT WISE: John Steinbaugh is a former Special Forces medic who served for more than twenty years in the Army. He was on the front lines in Iraq when calls for better equipment started going up the chain of command.
JOHN STEINBAUGH: Back in 2006-2007, at the height of the war, medics were getting fed up with the standard gauze. And we started seeing wounds that were much worse than what we were seeing at the beginning of the war. Medics were having more difficulties stopping the bleeding.
And the way the medics described the device they wanted was fix-a- flat. So if you think of your tire, you inject the fix-a-flat into your tire, it finds the escaping air, it plugs it, and done.
CAT WISE: So, Steinbaugh and a team of experts from the military and private sector got to work. Early ideas like inserting foam or gel into the wounds didn’t sufficiently stop the bleeding, but soon they stumbled on something that did work.
JOHN STEINBAUGH: We literally went to Williams-Sonoma, brought compressed sponges out of a kitchen store, loaded them in homemade syringes that we made, and put them in a model, and they expanded and worked.
CAT WISE: Steinbaugh retired from the military and joined RevMedx, the private medical device company taking the lead on the product’s development.
There, Steinbaugh and his colleagues spent three years refining the device with the help of a $5 million grant from the U.S. Army. And earlier this year, following FDA approval, the company launched the product, now called the XStat.
Steinbaugh gave us a demo recently in the company lab.
JOHN STEINBAUGH: So, on the battlefield, at the point of injury, the medic will come up to a casualty. He will assess the casualty. He will pull out the device, lock the handle. He will inject the syringe into the wound close to the artery, and then he will depress the plunger and rapidly apply the XStat to the wound.
Because the sponges are compressed, once they make contact with blood, they expand 15 times their size. They fill the cavity and put pressure on the walls of the cavity to be able to stop the bleeding without having to apply pressure.
CAT WISE: While the XStat has yet to be used on an injured human, this is a photograph of a soldier practicing with the device on a dummy.
Steinbaugh says the company’s extensive testing on animals and cadavers shows bleeding stops after about 20 seconds, compared to three to five minutes with traditional gauze. The company, which has 12 employees, is now ramping up production of the XStat for the military at their headquarters outside Portland, Oregon.
Roughly 100 are made here a week. Each of the mini-sponges in a syringe are coated with a blood-clotting chemical, and they are embedded with special markers that show up in X-rays, in case one is accidentally left in a wound during surgery.
DR. MARTIN SCHREIBER, Oregon Health & Science University: The major issue is getting the patient alive to a surgeon. That’s really the goal.
CAT WISE: Dr. Martin Schreiber is chief of trauma at the Oregon Health & Science University and a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. He’s led trauma care for the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he’s been closely following the development of the XStat.
DR. MARTIN SCHREIBER: The key with this product, though, is it has to be placed into a fixed-size wound. If you have a penetrating injury to, say, the area under the clavicle, which creates a very fixed wound, this can be very effective.
CAT WISE: Schreiber says he’s seen a number of medical innovations start in the military that eventually make their way into civilian trauma care.
DR. MARTIN SCHREIBER: I have to say, I have never experienced anything worse in my life then war. I have never seen anything as bad as war, but there is some good that comes out of war, and that is the medical technologies that are advanced.
CAT WISE: In fact, John Steinbaugh and his colleagues are now working on a smaller XStat that could be rolled out for civilian first-responders, such as EMTs and police, as early as next year.
JOHN STEINBAUGH: Ever since the first day we started working on this, there’s been an immediate interest for other types of products, smaller shrapnel wounds, or small-caliber pistol wounds, and even in the civilian community, like law enforcement, or prison knife wounds and stabbings.
CAT WISE: They have also developed XGauze, traditional gauze embedded with XStat sponges, an everyday belt which turns into a tourniquet that was inspired in part by the Boston bombings.
And the company’s sponge technology may even one day help women in low-resource settings who are experiencing postpartum hemorrhaging. RevMedx is shipping out the first batch of XStats to the Army this month. The device currently costs about $200.
The company anticipates their military orders will keep them at maximum production for the foreseeable future.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Online, we hear more from John Steinbaugh, who answers the question: If you could invent something new, what would it be? The inventor said would make special goggles that could check vital signs. You can watch that video on our Rundown.
The post How mini sponges could save lives on the battlefield and beyond appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The plan allows Detroit to shed $7 billion of debt, reinvest more than a billion dollars into neglected public service, cut pensions of general city retirees, and cut payments to bondholders.
Hari Sreenivasan has more on the story.
HARI SREENIVASAN: One crucial component of the plan that came together in the past few months is a so-called grand bargain. It allows the city to accept more than $800 million from nonprofit foundations, the state and others over two decades. That deal protects the city from selling a noted art collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts and reduces the size of pension cuts.
The Ford Foundation has donated the most money to the grand bargain, $125 million in all.
Its president, Darren Walker joins me now.
Thanks for being with us.
So, my first question is, what are nonprofit foundations doing in what seems like a bankruptcy bailout?
DARREN WALKER, Ford Foundation: Well, we’re not in the business of solving bankruptcies, but we do solve big problems and work with leaders at the city level and the community level, public and private sectors, to help solve community problems.
And this is one example of a group of foundations coming together at the behest of Judge Gerald Rosen to help solve this challenge.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, is this a template for other cities that might be in financial straits?
DARREN WALKER: This is not a template for other cities, but there are many lessons here.
This was a complicated $20 billion bankruptcy with thousands of creditors and many contested issues. But our focus, which was on saving the Detroit Institute of the Arts and ameliorating the situation for the workers of the city, particularly those retirees under the pension fund, were — that was what we were able to help accomplish.
But this doesn’t mean that other cities are going to look to foundations to solve their bankruptcy issues. This is not a template for that.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, you mentioned the Detroit Institute for the Arts. One of the concerns is, why doesn’t the DIA sell some of this artwork to help Detroit get back on its feet, especially when bondholders, investors, even pensioners are al taking haircuts or tightening their belts?
DARREN WALKER: Well, every great American city has a great cultural institution. And the DIA is one of America’s greatest treasures. It’s unthinkable to imagine a future for Detroit without the DIA.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what would this money allow the city to do? The judge had some tough criticism of what the city is not doing well right now. In certain parts, he says the problems run deep, have for years, and some of it is inhumane and intolerable.
Does this consortium of foundations agree that a lot more needs to be done?
DARREN WALKER: Absolutely a lot more needs to be done, Hari.
But it’s important to keep our eye on the prize. Detroit is now back in the starting blocks. It is positioned well for a great future. There’s uptick in employment, small business development. Many of the indicators of economic and community well-being are improving. The question now is, what does the future hold for Detroit?
And we believe the future is very bright.
HARI SREENIVASAN: While does close one particular chapter or nearing closing a chapter, it kind of opens another section for Detroit’s life in the next 10 or 20 years.
And what are the foundations looking for as these indicators that you started to tick off that the city is on the right path? You’re not writing an unconditional check for 10 to 20 years, are you?
DARREN WALKER: Absolutely not.
We were clear our resources would be used to secure the pensions and secure the museum’s collection, but we are investing in its future, in the civic grid. Democracy needs to work in Detroit, and in order for that to happen, we need to invest in civic organizations, in cultural organizations, in health and well-being, and of course in education.
All of the foundations who are engaged in the grand bargain are deeply committed to investing in those areas. It’s going to be essential for the future of the city.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, while we’re talking mostly about Detroit’s financial struggles, there are underlying challenges about race and class. What do you think something like this grand bargain, like the solution does to begin addressing those deeper problems that the city might have?
DARREN WALKER: Well, Detroit sits at the narrative of the American city.
And, as in many American cities, there are challenges around racial issues, and we can’t put under the rug the fact that Detroit has been challenged for decades around racial issues. The city and the region must come together to solve their problems collectively. But in order to do that, the city must have great leadership. We’re all encouraged and looking forward to a new mayor, a new city council who are engaged and eager to take up the helm.
So we’re excited at the Ford Foundation to support this effort.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, 10 years from now, best-case scenario, it goes as you envision, what are we here talking about, about Detroit?
DARREN WALKER: What we talk about is a vibrant city with a growing population, an inclusive economy, schools that deliver quality education, a transportation system founded by the new M-1 line, and a recognition that in order for Detroit to be sustainable, we have to invest in its institutions and in its people.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And how do you instill a sense of cultural — or, I should say, perhaps inject energy into the culture that already exists in Detroit? Because some people say, well, this is a great plan. It kind of was cooked up by a lot of non-Detroiters.
DARREN WALKER: Well, in fact, the Ford Foundation has been in Detroit since 1936, when we were founded by Edsel and Henry Ford.
But the bottom line for Detroit’s future is that the local people do have to control it’s narrative and its future. But this doesn’t mean pitting incumbent residents against new residents. Any vibrant great city always has new people coming, but it also invests in incumbent residents.
And so the understanding of the tension is reasonable between the many new residents who are moving to Detroit and longtime leaders, who have felt the results of this investment and who are a little beleaguered by it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, thanks so much for your time.
DARREN WALKER: Happy to be here. Thank you, Hari.
The post Behind Detroit’s ‘grand bargain’ to emerge from bankruptcy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Our economics correspondent, Paul Solman, has been looking into those trends. It’s part of his ongoing reporting Making Sense of financial news.
PAUL SOLMAN: Pittsburgh’s Dan Stillwell, one of 147 million Americans counted as employed last month.
MAN: I work around 50 hours a week.
PAUL SOLMAN: Alex Stipula is another.
MAN: I work about 40 hours a week, just about.
PAUL SOLMAN: To economist Justin Wolfers, the employment picture for workers across the country was even brighter than reported in October, for at least two reasons.
JUSTIN WOLFERS, Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics: The labor market was pretty good. Now, the headlines don’t look quite so sunny. They say 214,000 jobs were created this month, which is less than has been created in the last few months.
PAUL SOLMAN: Right.
JUSTIN WOLFERS: But once you dig into the details, you start to see the good news.
PAUL SOLMAN: What details?
JUSTIN WOLFERS: The first is, the government actually runs two surveys. The employer survey gets all the attention. It probably should. It’s a better survey. But the household survey actually said it was a monstrously good month in October. It said 650,000 jobs were created. It surely wasn’t that good. So we should discount it, but we shouldn’t throw it away altogether.
PAUL SOLMAN: And the second point?
JUSTIN WOLFERS: This was the first estimate of what happened in October. And the government statisticians are going to go back and try and figure out what really happened when they get more information. September’s pretty good number turned out to be even better. And I think that there’s every reason to think that October’s meh — meh sort of a number might actually turn out to be revised and be pretty strong.
PAUL SOLMAN: But even today’s numbers meant a ninth straight month of 200,000-plus new jobs. And growth was broad-based, gains in food and drink jobs, retail, health care, business services. Unemployment rate? The lowest since 2008.
Yet the good news doesn’t match the American mood. In Election Day exit polls, two-thirds of us said the economy was getting worse. One possible reason: wages, which grew a paltry 3 cents an hour in October, less than the rate of inflation. But another reason could be that a fifth of the work force remains employed part-time.
Look, says Wolfers:
JUSTIN WOLFERS: If you’re on for an hour, you’re counted as having a job.
PAUL SOLMAN: What’s more, the official unemployment rate excludes seven million part-timers who say they want a full-time job, but just can’t find one. And it turns out that the government actually understates the number of part-timers.
JUSTIN WOLFERS: The way we think about, do you work full time is, do you usually work more than 35 hours a week? If you work 20 hours at one job and 15 at another, that adds up to 35, let’s call you full-time, but we will call both of those jobs part-time.
PAUL SOLMAN: Take Alex Stipula.
MAN: I work three jobs. I work as a prep cook at a restaurant. I work at P.T. Crystal engraving glass and crystal, and I also work at Club Cafe, checking I.D.s and kind of like a bouncer. I don’t get any benefits. And I make $10 an hour at all three of them.
PAUL SOLMAN: Stipula is one of 1.2 million Americans working only part-time jobs, almost none of them with benefits, and yet they’re all classified as full-time because they work 35 hours a week or more in total.
MAN: I work seven days a week.
PAUL SOLMAN: Dan Stillwell works at grocery store GFS Marketplace.
MAN: I work 28 hours a week, making $8.70 an hour, and my second job is with Ikea. I work there about 19 hours a week, making nine-and-a-quarter an hour.
PAUL SOLMAN: Even Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman was surprised to learn that part-timers like Stillwell, who works almost 50 hours a week, are officially full-time workers.
PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times: OK, I didn’t know that. That makes sense actually in part of the broader context, which is that unemployment doesn’t look that high, but the labor, the situation of workers doesn’t feel anything like full employment.
PAUL SOLMAN: In fact, many young people in our own newsroom managed multiple gigs before landing one full-time position at the “NewsHour,” like multimedia editor Ellen Rolfes.
ELLEN ROLFES, PBS NewsHour: I worked at one point three different jobs that totaled about 65 hours a week. Even though I was working more than 35 hours, I didn’t think of myself as a full-time worker, because I think of full-time work as a job that has benefits, sick days, paid vacations, health care hopefully. And I didn’t get any of those with any of my jobs.
PAUL SOLMAN: Nor does Dan Stillwell.
MAN: I would like to have one job with benefits, work 40 hours, and pay my bills and be able to save up for retirement. I won’t be able to stop working until I die, you know?
PAUL SOLMAN: In the end, today’s positive news may do little to reassure the more than a million Americans in part-time jobs working 35 a week or more.
I’m Paul Solman for the “PBS NewsHour.”
The post Positive jobs report may not reassure Americans with part-time work appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The White House has just confirmed that President Obama will announce that Loretta Lynch is his pick to be the next U.S. attorney general. If confirmed, she will be the first African-American woman to hold that post. She is now a U.S. attorney in New York.
We reported a few minutes ago that this had been reported by different news organizations. Now we’re learning the White House has confirmed it.
And, meantime, for the first time since Tuesday’s elections, the president met today with more than a dozen congressional leaders from both political parties at the White House. But despite all the pleasantries, whether both sides can get anything done on tough issues like immigration remains to be seen.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), Majority Whip: If more executive actions are taken, that would make it difficult for us to always work together. We think we should start with a fresh start. We have got a lot of bills in this House that have moved to the Senate on economics, on jobs creation, and that’s really where our focus should be.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), House Minority Leader: They are saying, give us a chance to pass a bill. Well, we could take up the Senate bill next week, and that would be good, but we have been waiting a long time for that, and I hope that we do have a bill.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you’re hearing from a Republican, a leading Republican and a leading Democrat in the House.
Joining me now, more on this meeting, is our “NewsHour”‘s chief foreign affairs correspondent, Margaret Warner, and our political director, Domenico Montanaro.
So they’re talking about immigration, but, Margaret, I want to come to you first because of the news today, the White House announcement of these 1,500 additional noncombat troops, they’re saying, to go to Iraq. Why did they make this announcement today, when they had other sort of related business to talk to these leaders about?
MARGARET WARNER: Well, Judy, you saw the Pentagon spokesman say it was unrelated to the election. I will leave that to Mark and David to decide. It couldn’t have been helpful to Democrats running in Tuesday’s election.
But it’s true that it’s building for quite a while. And what we have had is about 1,500 U.S. advisers in these joint operation centers in Irbil, the Kurdish region, and in Baghdad, working with strategists and commanders of the Iraqi forces and the Peshmergas. And they came to the recognition that if they’re going to actually roll back the ISIS advance, as opposed to just stalling them, which the airstrikes have succeeded in doing, they are going to have to get out there more closely to this Sunni heartland, which is in the big area that I.S. really controls, Western Iraq and Eastern Syria.
So, it really — they also came to believe that the Iraqi troops were a little more capable and that it was now time to move to the next stage. That said, I think they’re putting U.S. troops in a more difficult and potentially dangerous position.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean — well, they’re saying noncombat.
MARGARET WARNER: Right, and they’re saying noncombat, but what’s new here is, there is going to be a whole new geographic reach.
They are going to go out. They’re calling them “expeditionary sites” — quote, unquote — where they are going to be training and advising fighters on the ground.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, this is new. This is not what they were doing…
MARGARET WARNER: This is what is new.
Not at all. Irbil and Baghdad are pretty darn safe. And all they needed — all the U.S. was doing was airstrikes. So, we can get more in that. These are going to be much more exposed areas. They haven’t chosen them yet. But one is out in Anbar province and cities like Fallujah and Ramadi, which I.S. controls.
Those were very bad for Americans back in the Iraq war. And the Pentagon made a point of saying, yes, we understand — and White House officials — that half of the U.S. forces or advisers won’t be advisers, they will be force protection units, and the same with all these other new sites they are going to establish to do training. So at least maybe as much as half of them, they may not be combat troops, but they will have to be ready for combat.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just very quickly on the question of authorization, the administration saying we have legal authorization to do this, but in the meantime, they’re having this conversation with Congress about additional authorization in Iraq and Syria.
MARGARET WARNER: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What’s the connection to…
MARGARET WARNER: The connection is, they say — they say they don’t need congressional authorization for this, except they want that extra pot of money before the end of the year. We’re in a current budget year.
But it does point up the need for what the president has come to believe is an updated authorization for all of these operations. They have been operating under the 2001 authorization directed after 9/11 against bin Laden and al-Qaida and the 2002-2003 against Iraq, the George W. Bush authorization.
Legal scholars say it really doesn’t fit the fight against Islamic State, which after all split from al-Qaida. So, what you’re going to see, I think — and that was the purpose of this meeting originally, and I think what you are going to see, Senator Menendez — you have big differences between Republicans and Democrats in terms of what sort of limits they want to put around it and there are going to be big hearings next week about it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, that’s on the foreign front.
On the domestic front, Domenico, meanwhile, how much do we know about what was discussed? Because some of the reports coming out, it sounds like there wasn’t much agreement.
DOMENICO MONTANARO: Well, no, there wasn’t much agreement at all.
As we saw in the intro, we were talking about immigration largely again. And as Margaret brings up on foreign policy, a lot of the discussion here, we know it went on a lot longer than was thought to go because — or originally intended to go because they were talking about the Islamic State group and what we have learned later on and they were talking about Ebola.
But on — immigration is the one domestic issue where the two sides, there was a little bit of flare-up in the meeting. And this is disputed on both sides now. Republicans are saying that behind the scenes that during the meeting, President Obama cut off Vice President Biden, because Vice President Biden said, “Well, how much time do you all need?” to Republicans on — on — John Boehner, on what would — what could be done on immigration.
President Obama feels like he’s run out of time, run out of patience on this, because it’s two years that house Republicans haven’t acted on immigration. Democrats are saying, that never happened, and very much like these foreign readouts. You get very different readouts from Washington than you do from the Kremlin, right?
And we’re getting that from — a lot of times from these congressional readouts from Democrats and Republicans. It’s very similar.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, but I can assume — we can all assume reporters are going to be continuing to nose around on that.
What — anything else, Domenico? Because there were all these other subjects that — they were saying they were going to talk about trade. The administration has talked about early childhood education.
DOMENICO MONTANARO: Right.
Well, look, infrastructure, early childhood education and trade were three of the big issues that President Obama wanted to talk about going in, but a lot of it got derailed because of what happened with immigration today. And Republicans, frankly, call those stale talking points. They said, these are things the president has brought up for three years and haven’t done much on anyway and was just lumping it into this discussion.
One Republican aide on immigration told me, we’re never going to do comprehensive immigration reform, that comprehensive reform is dead, Obamacare killed that. And they said if the president does anything on executive action, not even step-by-step immigration will happen.
So the election happens, we think, oh, maybe they will come together. Not much has changed.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, in three days, it looks like it’s gone away, whatever…
JUDY WOODRUFF: … there was.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Domenico Montanaro, Margaret Warner, we thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The Supreme Court today announced that it would take up a controversial case that could have major implications for the health care law. And after the court had decided not to take up same-sex marriage, the hot-button issue could very well land before the nine justices after all because of a decision yesterday in a lower court.
Here to explain more is Marcia Coyle of “The National Law Journal.”
MARCIA COYLE, The National Law Journal: Thanks, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Always good to have you.
So, Marcia, what prompted the justices to take up this challenge to the health care law, another one?
MARCIA COYLE: Well, usually, the court waits for disagreement in the lower federal appellate courts before it takes a case. That’s one of the criteria for review. Technically, there is no division right now, but the court will also step in if the issue is of national importance or if it’s an issue that could likely recur.
And, certainly, there are other cases pending that are challenging this particular provision in the Affordable Care Act.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So what do you think prompted this? I mean, the assumption is that the four more conservative justices who were not on board with the 2012 ruling that upheld most of the Affordable Care Act were behind this. What’s the thinking?
MARCIA COYLE: Well, we really don’t know the votes, who voted how to take review of this particular case.
We do know that you only need four votes, and the speculation is that, at least among whoever did vote, there were the four dissenters, and perhaps they wanted another shot at the Affordable Care Act.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What could this — this — what this is all about is the authorization for tax subsidies for low- and middle-income folks.
MARCIA COYLE: Yes. Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And it has to do with state — the state exchanges, and the question is whether the Obama administration truly have the authorization to set up the federal exchanges, to allow these subsidies under the federal exchange.
MARCIA COYLE: The first challenge to the Affordable Care Act was a constitutional challenge, if you remember, to the individual requirement that you have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
This is a very different type of challenge. This is going to involve interpretation of the language in a particular provision of the act, which says that subsidies can be paid to certain individuals if they buy their health insurance on — and this is — on exchanges — the exact language, exchanges established by the state.
But the Internal Revenue Service issued a regulation saying those subsidies are available not only on state-created, but also federal-created exchanges. And what is, though, important here s that only 16 states have created their own insurance marketplaces. The federal government has filled the gap with 34 other exchanges. So roughly five million Americans have been able to purchase insurance on those exchanges because of these tax subsidies.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, clearly, this is one that’s going to be watched very closely. And then the other question that is before — that may be before the court now is same-sex marriage.
The court had said we’re not going go near what these appellate courts have been ruling around the country, but then yesterday you have this three-judge panel at the — what is it, the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati.
MARCIA COYLE: Sixth Circuit, right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So what’s the significance of this…
MARCIA COYLE: OK.
Well, what happened here is, this Sixth Circuit ruling, which affected four states, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, actually creates a disagreement among the lower federal appellate courts on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.
We now have one circuit saying that it’s constitutional for the states to define marriage, and four federal circuits saying it’s unconstitutional to say that marriage is only for one man and one woman. So we have that split, which does make it more likely that the Supreme Court will step in to resolve the division and have uniform law.
To me, Judy, the real question here is timing. Now, there are lawyers involved in those cases that were just decided yesterday who lost who said they are going immediately to the Supreme Court. There’s a tight time frame here. The court accepts cases for the current term until about mid-January, and then anything else is going to be pushed over to the new term.
They probably can do it, these lawyers. They’re very skilled. We will just have to wait and see if they can meet the time schedule and if the court is really ready right now to resolve the disagreement.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will know at some point pretty soon, I guess, whether they are going to take it up.
MARCIA COYLE: I believe so.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Marcia Coyle, we thank you.
MARCIA COYLE: My pleasure, Judy.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. economy created another 214,000 jobs last month. That makes nine straight months that employers have added more than 200,000 positions, the longest stretch since 1995. And the October unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent, the lowest in six years.
President Obama welcomed the news today at a Cabinet meeting.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: All this is a testament to the hard work and resilience of the American people. They have been steady and strong digging themselves out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And what we need now is to do is make sure that we build on this momentum.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The president also acknowledged that many Americans still aren’t feeling the recovery, a factor that played heavily in Tuesday’s election wins by Republicans. We will return to the economy, as Paul Solman reports on part-time workers later in the program.
Reports swirled today that the president will name the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, New York, to be the next attorney general, Loretta Lynch. Several news organizations said Lynch is the choice to replace Eric Holder, who’s stepping down after six years in the post. The White House said the president has not yet made a decision.
The U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert McDonald, is ready to announce a sweeping shakeup. In a CBS News “60 Minutes” interview, airing Sunday, McDonald says he will dismiss or demote up to 1,000 staffers. It’s a response to this year’s scandal over inadequate treatment and long wait times in the VA medical system.
The president has authorized 1,500 more noncombat troops to go to Iraq, doubling the number already there. The Pentagon said today that some of the teams will move into Anbar province to help train Iraqis fighting Islamic State militants there. A spokesman denied that the election outcome influenced the announcement. Instead, he said the overall U.S. commander, General Martin Dempsey, and the regional commander recommended the move.
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, Pentagon Press Secretary: There was no political angle to the timing here. It was really driven by a request from the government of Iraq and General Austin’s assessment about having — this being the right thing to do. And I would add that that was an assessment supported by not only Chairman Dempsey, but of course the secretary, who formally made this recommendation to the president that this wasn’t only the right thing to do, but it was the right time to do it based on where we are in the campaign.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The president is also asking Congress to authorize $5.6 billion to fund the effort.
The last person to come in contact with Ebola patients in the U.S. came off monitoring today. They’d been around a Liberian man who died of Ebola in a Dallas hospital or one of two nurses there who contracted Ebola and were later cured. An American doctor who caught Ebola in West Africa remains hospitalized in New York, but is improving.
The Japanese air bag maker Takata now faces accusations that it hid a deadly defect going back a decade. The New York Times reports that former employees at Takata secretly conducted tests on 50 ruptured air bags in 2004, but were ordered to delete the data. Four deaths and 30 injuries have been linked to the defective air bags, and automakers have now recalled 14 million vehicles.
Japanese authorities have approved restarting a nuclear power plant under new safety rules for the first time since 2011. Nearly all of Japan’s 48 working reactors were taken offline after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi plant. With today’s announcement, two reactors at a plant in Southern Japan are expected to go back online early next year.
Ukraine charged today that Russia has sent major new military forces across the border to help pro-Russian rebels. That came amid continued fighting around the separatist strongholds of Luhansk and Donetsk.
Ukraine’s national security spokesman spoke in Kiev.
ANDRIY LYSENKO, Spokesman, Ukraine National and Security Council (through interpreter): Supplies of military equipment and enemy fighters from the Russian Federation to the anti-terrorist operation zone are continuing. In particular, yesterday, the movement of military equipment, 32 tanks, 16 Howitzer artillery systems, and 30 trucks carrying ammunition and fighters was reported.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Russia has routinely denied allegations that it is helping the rebels or that it has any forces inside Ukraine.
An art installation lit up the city of Berlin tonight, as Germany marks 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Helium-filled light balloons stretched nine miles, and traced the exact path the wall took, dividing East from West during the Cold War. The balloons carry messages and they will be released into the air on Sunday, the actual anniversary.
Back in this country, the U.S. Senate race in Virginia was finally decided today. Republican Ed Gillespie conceded to Democratic incumbent Mark Warner, who led by just over 16,000 votes, out of more than two million cast. That gives Republicans at least 52 seats in the new Senate, to 44 for the Democrats, with two independents. Races in Alaska and Louisiana are yet to be decided and could give the GOP two more seats.
On Wall Street, stocks failed to get much a boost out of the jobs report. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 19 points to close near 17,574. The Nasdaq fell about six points to close at 4,632. And the S&P added just a fraction to finish near 2,032. For the week, the Dow gained 1 percent. The S&P was up more than 0.5 percent. The Nasdaq was virtually unchanged.
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JOHN CARLOS FREY: Miguel Angel Gomez, a 30-year-old taxi driver here in El Salvador spends a lot of time looking in his rear-view mirror, worried that he’ll be the next victim of a notoriously violent street gang that already murdered Miguel’s brother.
A local news report showed the scene of the crime.
MIGUEL ANGEL GOMEZ: First they shot him and then they beheaded him. Here if they don’t like you or for any little thing, they have you killed.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: Miguel says his brother was not part of a gang and has no idea why his brother was killed. But Miguel says gang members are now after him because they believe that he’ll seek revenge.
What happens to you and your wife if you both stay here in El Salvador?
MIGUEL ANGEL GOMEZ: They will kill us.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: He and his wife are now planning to illegally cross the border into Texas, where they have relatives. Since last January more than 230,000 undocumented Central Americans, many of them children, have crossed into the United States fleeing violence perpetrated by gangs and drug cartels in countries like El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
With all the reporting about the current crisis, what’s little understood is that the mass exodus to the United States earlier this year was actually thirty years in the making. Fueled by American foreign policy decisions in the 1980’s and an act of congress in the mid 1990’s.
AL VALDEZ: There are experts who say this is all Americans’ fault and there are those who say it’s not our fault because we’re following the rules. And then there’s people like me sort of on the fence.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: It all began in the early 1980’s when El Salvador was in the midst of a brutal civil war. It was the height of the cold war and the Reagan administration, fearful of communist expansion in Central America supported the military-backed government with arms and financing. Seventy-five thousand were killed in the conflict, mostly at the hands of government forces. It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans fled their war-torn country seeking refuge in the United States.
AL VALDEZ: The mass exodus of Salvadorians to flee the conflict down there put a large population of Salvadorian immigrants in Los Angeles.
Al Valdez is a 28-year veteran of the police force in Orange County, California, who specialized in undercover field operations and headed the gang investigation unit for the Attorney General’s office there. He explains that many of these Salvadoran families lived in poverty in the rough neighborhoods around downtown Los Angeles. Some of these new immigrants joined Latino gangs like 18th street gang and Mara Salvatrucha 13, or MS 13, for both protection and a livelihood.
AL VALDEZ: Kids join gangs as a mechanism to survive. Now granted your life sucks, but at least you’re alive and you have food and water, and you have protection.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: Many of those Salvadoran gang members ended up in California prisons. And this is where that act of congress comes in. Before 1996, only criminals convicted of violent felonies with sentences of five years or more could be deported. But all that changed in 1996, when in an attempt to get tough on illegal immigration, congress passed a law allowing authorities to deport criminals if they had a prison sentence of just one year.
This led to the deportation of 10s of thousands of gang members to Central America, many to El Salvador. Once they arrived they set up shop here and recruited local Salvadorans into the gangs. Many of the new recruits were teenagers who joined for the money and for the street cred. Others because they’d been threatened that if they refused to join, they’d be killed.
AL VALDEZ: Those countries, Central America, was ripe for a criminal culture to overtake it because of its severe poverty and the lack of opportunities, the corruption involved. It was like a Petri dish that you put an Ebola virus in it and it’s going to grow like crazy.
CARLOS PONCE: We had a pretty, potentially grave crime problem represented by these gang members that are being deported and a very young police force that was going to have to deal with it.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: Carlos Ponce, a prominent Salvadoran crime analyst and former director of research for the national police force says the country was unprepared for this wave of gang members who had cut their teeth on the streets of Los Angeles. To make matters worse, Ponce says, when these deportations started U.S. authorities were providing no information about who was heading their way.
Wait a minute. So, the U.S. was deporting criminals without their criminal records?
CARLOS PONCE: Yeah. Yeah.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: You didn’t know who was coming into the country?
CARLOS PONCE: We didn’t know who was coming and you know, they were free to do as they pleased.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: While Ponce says that coordination with the United States has improved, deportations of gang members continue to this day.
So how much responsibility do you give the United States for the gang problem in El Salvador?
AL VALDEZ: I think the U.S. responsibility should’ve been, or could be, that we should advise the local officials in the countries of repatriation of exactly who we’re sending back. That this guy was arrested for murder. He did time for murder. This guy was arrested for robbery. He’s a sexual predator. We’re sending ‘em back. You need to have this data to make your country safe.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: Immigration and Customs Enforcement told us that, “The removal of known violent criminal gang members and foreign fugitives are among the agency’s highest enforcement priorities. During the removal process, ICE works closely with foreign governments to … share all relevant information about individuals being returned, to include their criminal history.”
JOHN CARLOS FREY: Were you a bad kid?
MANUEL FLORES: I was pretty bad. To this time now, I’m still bad.
32-year-old Manuel Flores, also known as “Sad Boy” by fellow gang members in Los Angeles was deported from a federal prison to El Salvador just about a two years ago. Flores recounted his days in rough South Central L.A.
MANUEL FLORES: Gangbang on the rival from a different hood.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: Are you talking about violence?
MANUEL FLORES: Uh-huh.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: Beating people up?
MANUEL FLORES: Yeah.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: Shooting people? Killing people?
MANUEL FLORES: Uh-huh.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: So you were involved with people who were killing other people?
MANUEL FLORES: Yeah. Yes.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: Flores’s story embodies this 30-year cycle of violence that led to what President Obama called a humanitarian crises along the U.S.-Mexico border this past summer. When he was only 6-months old, he and his family fled the civil war in El Salvador. He grew up in L.A., became a gang member, was imprisoned after stabbing someone in the neck and eventually deported back to El Salvador. Now he acknowledges that he is likely to resume his life of crime, crime that in part fueled last summer’s mass migration.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: You want to go back to the streets?
MANUEL FLORES: If you want to make money for you and your people, I mean, you just go ahead and gangbang all your life.
CARLOS PONCE: The gang members are – stroll on the streets with their rifles showing. I mean, just out of the most exaggerated movie you can see about gangs in the most savage country you can imagine. And that’s why at the end people are leaving the country, because their families and their kids don’t have a chance against this monster that has been growing and growing for the last few years.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: In a country of just 6 million, there are now a reported 7 murders a day according to the U.S. State Department and a recent survey conducted here found that one out four Salvadorans has considered leaving the country due to violence and the lack of economic opportunity.
People are fleeing the country because they are afraid of you. They’re afraid of the gangs.
SANTIAGO: It’s clear man. I accept that.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: This high-level member of the 18th street gang, who asked to be called “Santiago,” also agreed to talk with us. Santiago said he knows all about Salvadorans, many of them children, fleeing to the U.S. to escape criminals like him and he’s just fine with that.
SANTIAGO: It doesn’t bother me. You know why? Why wouldn’t I want a child that will become a gang member here to leave the country? Let him pick up and go and get reunited with his mother in the U.S. and have access to a quality education.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: The Salvadoran authorities tell us they are doing all they can to stop the violence and keep their citizens from fleeing to the U.S. But they say they are up against it. Twenty thousand officers trying to battle 60 thousand gang members. A raid on 18th street gang members in a hilltop village by the anti-gang task force illustrates the problem.
On a pitch black moonless night, we follow the officers into a wooded cliff-side area dotted with adobe homes. Using battering rams the officers raided multiple residents simultaneously. Despite meticulously planning the raid for two months, by the end of the evening police only arrested two of the ten suspected gang members they were looking for. Later they speculated that the gang members had been tipped off.
El Salvador’s inability to defeat the gangs continues to fuel migration to the U.S., despite the 10s of millions of dollars a year the U.S. is now pouring into this Central American nation for both security and economic assistance. Remember taxi driver Miguel Angel Gomez, whose brother was decapitated by gang members? Lately, he says, they’ve been following him as he drives his taxi.
MIGUEL ANGEL GOMEZ: I feel that the more time passes, the closer they get.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: Which is why after requesting and being denied asylum in the United States, he’s still planning to go to the U.S. illegally. He’s not the only one in our story heading to America. Manuel Flores, the gang member the United States sent back to El Salvador says he planning to return, too.
WASHINGTON — The two remaining Americans who had been held in North Korea have been released and are on their way home, U.S. officials said Saturday.
A spokesman for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Clapper was accompanying Americans Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller on their journey back to the United States.
Bae and Miller were the last Americans held by North Korea following the release last month of Jeffrey Fowle, an Ohio resident detained for nearly six months.
White House officials said the timing of the release was not related to President Barack Obama’s imminent trip to China, Myanmar and Australia. Clapper traveled to North Korea as a presidential envoy, officials said, and apparently is the highest-ranking administration official to visit Pyongyang.
Both Bae and Miller had previously told The Associated Press that they believed their only chance of release was the intervention of a high-ranking government official or a senior U.S. statesman. Previously, former Vice President Al Gore and former President Jimmy Carter had gone to North Korea to take detainees home.
Officials refused to provide any other details about the release of Bae and Miller or their return to the United States.
Miller, who’s from Bakersfield, California, was serving a six-year jail term on charges of espionage, after he allegedly ripped his tourist visa at Pyongyang’s airport in April and demanded asylum. North Korea said Miller had wanted to experience prison life so that he could secretly investigate North Korea’s human rights situation.
Bae, who’s from Lynnwood, Washington, is a Korean-American missionary with health problems. He was serving a 15-year sentence for alleged anti-government activities. He was detained in 2012 while leading a tour group to a North Korea economic zone.
Fowle had been detained after leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the hope that it would reach the country’s underground Christian community.
The announcement about Bae and Miller came one day before Obama leaves on his three-country trip.
The development does not mean a change in U.S. posture regarding North Korea’s disputed nuclear program, and the North still must show it is serious and ready to abide by commitments toward denuclearization and improved human rights, said a senior Obama administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss national security matters.
The official said there was no quid pro quo involved in the Americans’ release.
The U.S. notified allies of Clapper’s trip to North Korea and alerted members of the congressional leadership once his visit was underway, the official said.
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But that violence isn’t confined within El Salvador’s borders. Residents from other Central American countries, including Guatemala and Honduras, also experience similar fears in their daily lives.
Oscar Turcios Funez lost his father and brother to gang violence in Honduras and he shares his story in a new documentary series called The Crossfire Kids, produced by WPBT2 – South Florida Public Media.
Oscar’s family was being extorted by a local gang, and when the family couldn’t pay the money the gang demanded, his father and brother were murdered. Thousands of minors who are currently awaiting asylum cases in the United States have similar stories.
The Crossfire Kids tells a range of stories from people all over the world who have come to the U.S. as minors to seek a future in a country where their legal status remains uncertain.
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WASHINGTON — Congress members returning to Capitol Hill next week will face a debate over President Barack Obama’s new $5.6 billion plan to expand the U.S. mission in Iraq and send up to 1,500 more American troops to the war-torn nation.
Obama authorized the deployment of advisory teams and trainers to bolster struggling Iraqi forces across the country, including into Iraq’s western Anbar province where fighting with Islamic State militants has been fierce. His decision comes just three days after bruising midterm elections for his Democratic Party.
But the deployments hinge on whether Obama can get the funding approved in Congress’ lame-duck session, so that advisers can begin deploying to Iraq, particularly to Anbar where Sunni tribes have persistently requested help.
Obama’s plan could boost the total number of American troops in Iraq to 3,100. There are currently about 1,400 U.S. troops there, out of the 1,600 previously authorized.
The Iraqi government, members of Congress and others have called for troops in Anbar in western Iraq, where extremists have been slaughtering men, women and children.
Congress hopes to complete the defense policy bill in the postelection, pre-holiday session and will consider the Iraq funding along with the administration’s request for billions more for military operations overseas. Lawmakers are still pressing the White House for additional details on how the money would be spent.
Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the military will set up several sites across Iraq to train nine Iraqi Army brigades and three peshmerga brigades, which are made up of Iraqi Kurdish forces. The military will also establish two operations centers where small advisory teams can work with Iraqi forces at the headquarters and brigade levels.
Kirby said one of those centers will be in Anbar province, where U.S. troops fought al-Qaida extremists in brutal fighting in 2004 to 2007, costing more than 1,000 American lives and 9,000 Iraqi lives, mainly in the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi.
He added that the U.S. also is considering training of some of the Sunni tribes. In 2007, Sunni Arab tribes in Anbar joined forces with Americans – in what was called the Anbar Awakening – and dealt a blow against the insurgents that many credit with turning the tide in that conflict.
The new Iraqi leaders have pledged to be more supportive of the Sunni tribes than the previous Shiite government was, although Kirby said it’s unclear whether the Baghdad government will provide them with weapons.
Kirby said the expansion was based on a request from the Iraqi officials, the U.S. military’s assessment of Iraqi military progress and as part of a campaign plan “to defend key areas and go on the offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” another name for IS.
The U.S. troops will not be in combat roles but will train Iraqi forces in protected locations around the country. Until now, U.S. troops have largely been confined to Baghdad and Irbil, including two operations centers in those cities. Of the 1,500 troops, Kirby said that about 630 would be used for the advisory teams, including support and security forces, and the rest would be for the training mission. Troops could begin deploying as soon as this month, if Congress approves the funding, but it will take a couple months to get the training sites ready, and the actual training will take six to seven months.
The funding request followed a meeting among Obama and congressional leaders on Friday, which included a military briefing. Of the approximately $5 billion for the Pentagon, about $3.4 billion would support ongoing operations and strikes on the Islamic State, and $1.6 billion would support the training and equipping mission for the Iraqis. The remainder is State Department funding to support diplomatic efforts.
Kirby said Iraq and other coalition nations will contribute money, and other countries will also send trainers. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met with the Danish Minister of Defense Nicolai Wammen on Friday at the Pentagon, and Kirby said the minister committed to sending up to 120 trainers for Iraqi forces.
The U.S. has been launching airstrikes on Islamic State group militants and facilities in Iraq and Syria for months, as part of an effort to give Iraqi forces the time and space to mount a more effective offensive. Early on, the Islamic State group had gained ground across Iraq.
Lately, however, with the aid of the U.S. strikes, IS has suffered a number of losses in Iraq, where it is fighting government forces, peshmerga and Shiite militias aided by Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah group.
Last week, Iraqi forces recaptured the town of Jurf al-Sakher. IS also lost a string of towns near the Syrian border last month. Besieged Iraqi troops have also managed to maintain control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery outside the town of Beiji north of Baghdad, despite numerous attempts by the Islamic State group to capture it.
Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Friday that he has “long been concerned that the president has underfunded our combat operations against terrorists.”
He said he will give the funding request fair consideration, but added, “I remain concerned that the president’s strategy to defeat ISIL is insufficient. I would urge the president to reconsider his strategy and clearly explain how this additional funding supports a new direction. Such clarity is more likely to find swift congressional approval.”
ISIL is one of several acronyms for the Islamic State group.
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Before I left for El Salvador I went to my bank to get cash for the trip. The friendly bank teller asked me where I was headed. It turned out that she was born in El Salvador and still had family there.
“Why are you going there?” she said, sounding alarmed.
I had been expecting her to give me restaurant or hotel suggestions, but I went on to explain that I was going to report on why so many Salvadorans had fled the country last summer and are now seeking asylum in the United States.
“It’s dangerous and you should be very careful,” she said earnestly.
I thanked her, took my money and left. I heard a lot of comments like that before arriving in San Salvador, the country’s capital.
As a news producer, I’ve reported quite a bit from Latin America, but nothing really prepared me for the country of El Salvador.
We were reporting on the role of ultra-violent gangs terrorizing the country’s citizens, so on our first day we met with our fixer, a local who is well-connected and can help line up interviews. In his zeal to deliver on his promise, he brought two gang members and a coyote (an individual paid to help migrants illegally cross international borders) to our hotel for breakfast.
Roberto Hugo Preza, arguably the most prominent Salvadoran journalist, met us there as well. Seeing the crowd that had just walked into the Sheraton to meet us, Hugo pulled us aside.
“There are eyes everywhere … even here,” he said. Hugo warned that we didn’t want to be seen with gang members in public because rival gang members may decide to target us.
Such was our time in El Salvador, a country where walking from one side of the street to the other could be precarious because one side might be under the thumb of the 18th street gang, while the other controlled by Mara Salvatrutcha 13, or MS 13.
Our reporting centered on the 18th street gang. On our second day in El Salvador we drove about 70 miles from San Salvador to the small city of Usultan, a stronghold of the 18th street gang. We were there to meet Miguel Angel Gomez, a taxi driver whose brother had been decapitated by 18th street gang members.
Miguel, who says he’s now being threatened by gang members, wouldn’t meet us at his home because he’s in hiding. We met him at a taxi stand in the center of town and then followed him to a relative’s home.
The next day, we drove to Chalchuapa to meet “Santiago” a high level member of the 18th Street gang. Our fixer told us to wait in our car by the side of the road next to some Mayan ruins, one of the few tourist destination in El Salvador.
The street we stopped at was lined with souvenir stands, but there wasn’t a tourist in sight. After about 20 minutes, a low-riding, red Honda Civic with tinted windows rolled up. Our fixer told us to follow the car to a dilapidated home. Tinfoil covered the windows and small plastic bags used for drugs were scattered on the floor.
After the interview, one of Santiago’s men took us to a house where 18th street gang members hang out, get high and wait for orders. Inside were a handful of teenagers, stoned, and armed with loaded guns. Needless to say, I felt relieved when it was time to leave.
Two days later, our NewsHour Weekend crew was invited by the anti-gang task force, an elite group of police officers grappling with the gangs in El Salvador, to ride along on a raid.
The target: 18th street gang members who the police believed were living in a small colonial village in the hills outside of San Salvador.
We sped down mountain roads in a convoy of police pickup trucks until we reached the village.
It was not lost on any of us that just days before, we were with these same gang members; now, we were about to see them get arrested by the police.
Once at our destination, we jumped out of the convoy and followed the officers into a wooded cliff-side area dotted with adobe homes.
Using battering rams, the officers raided multiple homes simultaneously. I expected shots to ring out at any minute. But the raid wasn’t what I had expected. During the raid in the first house, I met three frightened young children and their mother, who was practically in tears.
She told us that her husband was not a gang member and panicked when police officers took him away for questioning.
“He’s an honest person looking after his life and that of his children,” she said. “Imagine now if they take him away, what am I going to do with my life what will I do with the children?”
A new father myself, the sight of these children in bed, scared and confused, hit me hard. Simple narratives are hard to come by in El Salvador.
Trips like these, as difficult and disturbing as they can be, also have lighter moments.
On the way to an interview with the police, our rental car, a rather beat-up SUV, broke down on the side of the road. We called a contact at the police to let them know we would be late. Ten minutes later, four police officers with machine guns raced up to our broken down car to protect us until a new rental car arrived.
It was quite a show of force and a rather funny image to see masked police officers carrying heavy artillery pushing our car to the side of the road.
Sometimes connections come in handy.
The post Producer’s Notebook: A look at life inside the violent gangs of El Salvador appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Some new, more diverse faces may soon be used for emoji symbols, after a push for more racial diversity earlier this year by smartphone users gained traction with developers.
— designboom (@designboom) November 5, 2014
A recent proposal draft developed by Apple engineer Peter Edberg and Unicode co-founder Mark Davis outlines how the standard model of emojis could embrace racially diverse emojis in the future. Unicode is the company that sets the standards for emojis.
The draft says users could modify the skin tone of emojis based on the six skin tones in the Fitzpatrick scale, which is a spectrum of human skin colors.
“People all over the world want to have emoji that reflect more human diversity,” a Unicode spokesman told the BBC.
An official release date has not been set, but initial estimates say the new skin tones could be rolled out by the middle of next year.
Nearly 5,000 people co-signed a DoSomething.org petition in August asking the company to diversify its collection of emojis.
Demand for more racially diverse emojis on Apple’s iOS platform originated to when the iPhone first began natively supporting emoji keyboards, NPR reported.
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To mark the one-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan that killed at least 6,300 people and displaced millions of others, Filipino artists painted murals on the outer walls of a public cemetery in Tacloban, the city hardest hit by the typhoon on Nov. 8, 2013.
They painted scenes showing the destruction caused by the typhoon, which the Government of the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) estimated affected 16 million people.
One mural featured a colorful, long, curling wave in front of homes left with only their frames. Another had an overturned red car with a baseball cap hovering above it. And there was a painting of bright blue tents, with red openings; the temporary homes survivors have been living in for months.
PBS NewsHour reported on the slow-moving reconstruction process in Tacloban in June:
According to a recent Associated Press report, roughly 3,000 people remain living in tents in Tacloban. The city government has promised to move them into permanent housing by January 2015.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Tucked away in the constellation Taurus in distance space, planets are being born. How do we know? Because scientists are observing it happen more clearly than ever before.
Using the ALMA radio telescope in Chile, astronomers were able to capture this image showing a star surrounded by a large disc made of gas and dust.
It may look like an artist’s illustration, but in fact, at the center of this image is the real HL Tauri star. And the dark rings, that’s believed to be the dust and gas coming together to form planets, meteors and asteroids.
HL Tauri is 450 lightyears from earth, and even though it’s amost one million years old, astronomers consider it quite young.
For decades, astronomers have known the existence of the star but have never been able to see it clearly.
But now, high up in Chile’s Atacama Desert, these antennae are using radio frequencies to gather emissions from gas, dust and stars to make high-resolution images of the universe; images even sharper than some of those taken from space by NASA’s Hubble telescope.
The findings have shaken astronomers’ theories.
STUARTT CORDER, ALMA Deputy Director: So, even at this young age, ALMA has discovered that we already have large, planetary cores forming, so the process of planet formation has to occur much faster and much earlier than we had ever expected.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The new picture has gotten scientists excited about the possibilities of the telescope.
PIERRE COX, ALMA Director: Image and discovery represent a milestone in the history of ALMA and it’s a dream that’s come true. I mean, people have thought about it for 20 years and now we see it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: With the new image displaying detail never before seen, astronomers are now hoping to expand our understanding of how planets form, both within and outside our own solar system.
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WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Most of us got to know Brandi Chastain this way. Her dramatic penalty shot won the 1999 women’s World Cup for the U.S. and made her an instant star. She also helped the U.S. win gold, twice at the Olympics.
Chastain now lives in northern California with her husband and 8 year old son, Jaden. But soccer is never far away.
She helps coach Santa Clara University’s division one women’s soccer team and also her son’s youth team.
It’s perhaps this connection to younger players that has Chastain on a new mission.
In order to protect young players from the rising number of concussions and head-injuries in soccer, Chastain, who herself used to be a formidable header of the ball, now believes heading should be removed from the game for kids 14 and under.
I talked with her recently in California about this controversial position and how she sees it affecting American soccer.
BRANDI CHASTAIN: We don’t need to have heading in youth soccer, 14 and younger, for a couple reasons.
The skill of heading is not necessary at that age. One, because we should be teaching the, the basic skills of trapping, passing, moving, spatial awareness, you know, all these things that they need when they’re gonna be a little bit older that will help them have a better foundation. So those things are way more important than heading the ball.
Two, as a parent, you know, I’m very interested in my son participating in sports for all the lessons and things that I learned that are so impactful in my life as an adult, that and the thing and the joy that I got out of being on a team, but I want it to be safe.
And I don’t think when I, 30-something years ago when I started playing soccer, if not longer than 30 years, that people were talking about, you know, the safety of soccer, and, you know.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Yeah, it wasn’t, wasn’t a concern. Nobody, everyone thought soccer was safe.
BRANDI CHASTAIN: Right.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I know just a couple of years ago, you were on the national news being asked this question. And you, at the time, were saying, “I think that it can be taught to kids, and it, it should stay in the game for kids.” Now you think differently. I wonder what, what was it in particular that changed your mind?
BRANDI CHASTAIN: I, I think it was hearing the, the information that Dr. Cantu was putting out.
The more I started hearing about it, and the more research that has come out, the unfortunate stories that you’ve heard where there’s been either really terrible injuries, or, you know, unfortunate deaths due to some brain injury. And I just thought, you know, I could be an advocate for, you know, our kids being safer.
I think maybe it’s the parent in me honestly. Because as a single person before, you know, I got married and had kids, I would, I felt like I could do anything.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Invincible?
BRANDI CHASTAIN: I was. I was almost invincible, ’cause I’ve been hurt a couple times. But I felt that, you know, if I prepared, and I headed the ball properly, that I was safe. And now I think, now I know a little better. And so I think that information needs to be shared.
But I still think the technique, the teaching the technique is important. And I think if we teach the technique properly, we use a beach ball or maybe a nerf ball, so the kids start to recognize the movement before they get to 14, it’s not like we’re, we’re going to void of heading, or the movement, or the awareness or the positioning.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So you’re up for, you’re okay with the training them with software balls or gentler technique? So that when they do get to be 14, they can move into. It’s not so abrupt.
BRANDI CHASTAIN: Right, yes.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: My 13 year-old son, when I talk to him about the idea of taking heading out of the game, he was, he said, “That’s gonna ruin the game.” What do you do in corner kick?
BRANDI CHASTAIN: Yeah.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That completely blows it.
BRANDI CHASTAIN: Yeah.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I mean, what do you say to people who think that taking heading out really at any age is like taking the queen off the chessboard, it just changes the game completely?
BRANDI CHASTAIN: It, it will change the game slightly, but I think the risk of the heading isn’t worth the complaint of it changing the game.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: My three kids all play, love the game. And the club they play for, they’re concerned about concussions, and they’re really worried about the kids’ health and safety. But right now there’s no talk of getting headers out of our club, or anywhere in our state where we play. If you were me, would you still let your kids play in a league like that, where heading was still gonna go on?
BRANDI CHASTAIN: Well, the answer is yes, because my son plays in a league where heading is still going on.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Is that right?
BRANDI CHASTAIN: It’s not, you know. I think…
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Because Brandi Chastain says no heading in youth it hasn’t disappeared from the youth game?
BRANDI CHASTAIN: It hasn’t disappeared yet because I think what has to happen right now to take heading out of the game is that the bylaws of soccer have to change. And that’s US Soccer, or that’s FIFA.
I want to hopefully get to FIFA, that’s my goal, is to get to FIFA, our governing body of all international soccer and say, “We recognize that soccer has some inherent risk, and heading is one of those risks. Can we take it out of youth soccer so that we can preserve maybe a longer career in the game, a lifetime love of the game, a healthy end to a career where they become a fan?
So heading is a valuable part of soccer later when taught correctly, when you have a foundation of a stronger core and bigger muscles, and, you know, awareness of who’s around you and how to get your arms out and protect yourself. So the…
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So you think it can be done when you’re older, you can– it can be done more safely?
BRANDI CHASTAIN: I think it can be done more safely. But you know, what I’m hoping is that just this, the starting of this, starts the conversation of why we’re taking it out, and how can we make it safer when we do reintroduce it when the kids are older.
The post Brandi Chastain: Get rid of heading from soccer for kids under 14 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Economist Justin Wolfers thinks Friday’s jobs report was “sunny.” And it may actually get better thanks to monthly revisions. “I think that October’s ‘meh’ number,” Wolfers said, “might actually turn out to be revised and be pretty strong.”
And yet, voters in this past Tuesday’s elections painted a cloudy forecast for our country’s economic outlook. Seventy-eight percent told exit pollsters they were “very or somewhat worried” about the economy. Paul Solman asked Wolfers about that disconnect.
Paul Solman: Just this week, we’ve been through an election. Exit polls showed two-third of voters think the economy is getting worse. How does that economic malaise jive with these glowing jobs numbers?
Justin Wolfers: To be honest, I’m puzzled. Unemployment has come down from double digits to 5.8 percent, employment growth has been extremely strong, there’s no inflation anywhere on the horizon. The budget deficit is back below its 40-year average.
All these numbers seem to suggest the economy’s doing well, and in fact, if you ask people, and look at consumer confidence numbers, they also suggest that people think the economy’s doing fine. But for some reason, though, they’re telling exit polls something altogether different. And not just the exit polls — when it came time to being in the voting booth, they voted that way, too.
As Making Sen$e explored online and on the broadcast Friday, plenty of Americans are still feeling squeezed by partialized employment. Nearly 7 million Americans work part-time because they can’t find full-time employment. And an additional 1.2 million, not reported in the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s monthly release, are working multiple part-time jobs whose hours add up to full-time employment, but often without the stability and benefits that most of us associate with a full-time position.
Wages are flat, barely keeping pace with the rate of inflation. Average hourly wages in October saw a measly 3-cent increase. And it’s really wages that shape living standards, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez told the New York Times. Even voters who rejected Democratic candidates on Tuesday embraced ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage in Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota.
So although strong economic releases have spelled good news for some, “Sweat equity isn’t translating into financial equity,” Perez said. “Even while the C.E.O.s of those companies are reaping dramatic rewards. That’s the angst and frustration that I see across this country.”
And it’s not just a part-time versus full-time issue, said Wolfers. “The challenge is to get everyone into work where they’re going to find meaning, they’re going to get the benefits they need, and they’re able to support they’re family. That’s certainly unfinished business.”
Watch Paul’s interview with Wolfers and part-timers below:
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The Chinese government restricted traffic, closed factories and instituted public holidays to ensure foreign leaders in Beijing for this year’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit would enjoy a clear, blue sky, Reuters reports.
Traffic, considered a main source of air pollution in Beijing, was cut by 14.3 percent during the morning rush hour on Nov. 3, according to a report by the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau. The restrictions, including limiting the number of cars on the road by instituting an even-odd license plate policy, will be in effect until Nov. 12, when the summit ends.
Another effort to lessen traffic was to give six days of vacation to government employees. The unusual clearness over Beijing during the summit even got a name, “APEC Blue”.
Residents took to Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, to record and share moments of the rarely-seen blue sky in Beijing. While some accused the Chinese government of reducing pollution only for officials and business executives from foreign countries, rather than Beijing’s people, others had a more humorous take.
“Originally APEC means Air Pollution Eventually Controlled,” wrote the user below in Chinese and English at the beginning of her post. “I got it.”
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