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- 11/21/14--08:07: _House Republicans s...
- 11/21/14--09:07: _Some colleges recon...
- 11/21/14--09:19: _WATCH LIVE: hear fr...
- 11/21/14--10:04: _Auction brings reco...
- 11/21/14--10:42: _Jonathan Gruber: Su...
- 11/21/14--12:15: _Internet TV startup...
- 11/21/14--13:30: _How to support stud...
- 11/21/14--13:44: _Uber’s boys club is...
- 11/21/14--15:20: _In changing publish...
- 11/21/14--15:22: _House Intelligence ...
- 11/21/14--15:25: _Article on brutal s...
- 11/21/14--15:30: _Syrian cleric who l...
- 11/21/14--15:35: _Slim chances for a ...
- 11/21/14--15:40: _How immigrants are ...
- 11/21/14--15:45: _News Wrap: Buffalo ...
- 11/21/14--15:50: _Republicans insist ...
- 11/22/14--08:43: _Holder urges calm a...
- 11/22/14--09:20: _‘Above the law’: Re...
- 11/22/14--09:47: _Obama quietly broad...
- 11/22/14--10:55: _Poll: Should retail...
- 11/21/14--08:07: House Republicans sue Obama administration over health care law
- 11/21/14--09:07: Some colleges reconsider ties to Cosby
- 11/21/14--09:19: WATCH LIVE: hear from the authors at Miami Book Fair International
- 11/21/14--10:04: Auction brings record for O’Keeffe and women artists
- 11/21/14--12:15: Internet TV startup Aereo files for Chapter 11 banktuptcy
- 11/21/14--13:30: How to support students on the brink of deportation
- 11/21/14--13:44: Uber’s boys club is what’s wrong with Silicon Valley
- 11/21/14--15:35: Slim chances for a full Iran nuclear deal by the deadline?
- 11/21/14--15:40: How immigrants are reacting to Obama’s action
- 11/21/14--15:45: News Wrap: Buffalo races to clear several feet of snow before rain
- 11/22/14--08:43: Holder urges calm ahead of Ferguson decision
- 11/22/14--09:47: Obama quietly broadens US mission in Afghanistan
- 11/22/14--10:55: Poll: Should retailers remain open on Thanksgiving?
This story was updated on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 3:18 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans sued the Obama administration on Friday over its implementation of President Barack Obama’s health care law, saying he had overstepped his legal authority in carrying out the program.
GOP lawmakers filed the lawsuit in federal district court in Washington the morning after Obama announced unilateral executive actions to expand protections for millions of immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally. While Republicans complained that Obama had unconstitutionally exceeded his powers with those actions, the suit filed Friday did not address immigration.
One Republican official said party leaders are considering amending the suit to include Obama’s actions on immigration, a change that would require approval by the GOP-controlled House. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal Republican deliberations.
“If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a written statement announcing the lawsuit. “The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi criticized Republicans for spending taxpayer money to use a private attorney to bring a “meritless” case.
“This lawsuit is a bald-faced attempt to achieve what Republicans have been unable to achieve through the political process. The legislative branch cannot sue simply because they disagree with the way a law passed by a different Congress has been implemented,” said Pelosi, D-Calif.
She accused the GOP of “prioritizing the special interests and the howls of impeachment-hungry extremists before the needs of the nation.”
Within hours of the case being filed, a Democratic group blasted a fundraising email to supporters, calling it “an obvious political stunt to rile up Boehner’s Tea Party allies.” The House Majority PAC called on contributors “to stand with President Obama before it’s too late.”
The House authorized the lawsuit in a near party-line vote in July as congressional re-election campaigns were heating up. Democrats said Obama had acted legally and said the GOP measure was a political stunt aimed at motivating conservatives to vote and distracting them from calls by some to go even further and impeach the president.
The lawsuit was filed Friday against the departments of Health and Human Services and the Treasury.
It accuses Obama of unlawfully delaying the 2010 health care law’s requirement that many employers provide health care coverage for their workers.
That so-called employer mandate requires companies with 50 or more employees working at least 30 hours weekly to offer health care coverage or pay fines. Businesses with fewer than 50 workers are exempt.
The requirement was initially to take effect this year. Now, companies with 50 to 99 employees have until 2016 to comply while bigger companies have until next year.
The suit also accuses Obama of illegally planning to make an estimated $175 billion in payments over the next decade — plus $3 billion already paid this past year — to insurance companies, even though Congress hasn’t provided money for that purpose.
According to the suit, insurance companies offering coverage under the health law are supposed to offer reduced rates to policyholders.
The law established a fund to reimburse insurers for some of those lower rates. Congress hasn’t put any money into that fund but the administration has started making payments to insurance companies anyway, the suit says.
Congressional Republicans have all opposed the health care overhaul. The GOP-led House has voted over 50 times to repeal it or pare it back.
The case was assigned to Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, who was appointed to her post by President George W. Bush in 2003.
The post House Republicans sue Obama administration over health care law appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
At least one college is distancing itself from Bill Cosby, the once-family-friendly comedian who has been accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen women.
Cosby’s involvement in higher education is extensive. He has been among the most prominent and generous donors to historically black colleges, especially with a $20 million donation to Spelman College. He was leading the capital campaign at Lincoln University of Pennsylvania until a few months ago.
Cosby has also been a trustee at his alma mater, Temple University, since 1982.
That’s where Cosby met one of his accusers, the former director of operations for the Temple women’s basketball team. Cosby settled a civil lawsuit brought by the woman, Andrea Constand, after she accused Cosby of drugging her and then sexually assaulting her in January 2004.
Her lawyer told a judge that 13 women were prepared to testify about similar incidents of sexual assault involving Cosby.
Cosby was attempting to resurge as an entertainer when old allegations gained new traction and new allegations of older incidents became public, including one by model Janice Dickinson, who accused him of sexually assaulting her in 1982.
In an unusual retrospective remark, a former prosecutor has since said he believes Cosby did something “inappropriate” to Constand, even though the prosecutor didn’t bring charges at the time.
Temple is standing behind Cosby. “Dr. Cosby continues to be a member of the Temple University Board of Trustees,” a Temple spokesman said in a statement.
Cosby has previously denied Constand’s and others’ accusations. His lawyer said recently that “decade-old, discredited allegations have resurfaced,” but their being now repeated “does not make them true.” At least one new alleged victim has come forward in recent days, putting Cosby’s total number of accusers at 15, including more than a half-dozen whose names are public.
A new biography of Cosby was just released. NBC, which aired his long-running, immensely popular “The Cosby Show,” was planning a new series with him. Netflix was set to post a Cosby special.
The author of the biography has been questioned over its failure to mention the longstanding allegations against Cosby. NBC canceled production of the new Cosby project. Netflix postponed releasing the special. Even TV Land, the channel that shows reruns of classic television shows, stopped airing the original “Cosby Show.”
The Berklee College of Music is following the lead of those companies in distancing itself from Cosby. The college named a scholarship for Cosby after he appeared several years ago at its 60th anniversary bash; on Wednesday, it decided to take his name off the scholarship, said Berklee spokesman Allen Bush.
Bush said college officials should be aware of the perception that campuses are unsafe – even if that isn’t true for their particular college – and that awareness should include partnerships and how they are perceived by students.
Another college, High Point University, announced a temporary shift on its ties to Cosby, who had been named to its National Board of Advisors in July. The university removed his name and photograph from the webpage of board members, and a spokeswoman told the Associated Press that “we are removing his name from our board of advisors until all information on this matter is available.” When High Point named Cosby to the board in July, the university’s announcement hailed him as “one of the most influential performers of our time.”
Cosby’s most important contributions to higher education may be at historically black colleges – which Berklee and Temple are not – and those colleges are, so far, sticking with Cosby or at least declining to say they are not.
In 1988, Cosby gave $20 million to Spelman College, the women’s college in Georgia, which is the largest donation ever made to a historically black college by an African American. Endowed chairs and a building are named after Cosby and his wife. Cosby even filmed part of a short-lived TV show at Spelman.
Spelman did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Cosby was also leading the capital campaign at Lincoln University of Pennsylvania. The university’s president has recently come under fire for being dismissive of female students’ rape accusations. A video on Lincoln’s homepage that featured Cosby was apparently removed in recent days.
Lincoln representatives said Cosby’s relationship with the university had ended this summer, as planned.
The university said Cosby was recruited to be part of the first phase of its “Student First” capital campaign. That started in summer 2013 and ended this June, though Cosby performed at a July concert to mark the end of that phase.
“Mr. Cosby has no current association with the University’s Student First campaign,” the university said in a statement.
Johnny Taylor, the president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which represents public HBCUs, said neither he nor the organization’s members were preparing to back away from Cosby without independent evidence of Cosby’s guilt or a verdict. Last year, Cosby hosted a black-tie gala for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
Taylor said he had been at Lincoln on Thursday and spoken with some male students who were concerned they could be wrongly accused and the entire world could turn on them without evidence.
“We just don’t have the basis to know if this is true or not,” Taylor said of the allegations against Cosby. “And thus it would be horribly unfair to turn on someone who has been very generous with his time and his money based purely upon accusations that are, at this point, unfounded.”
If independent evidence emerged that proved Cosby’s guilt, Taylor said, “we absolutely would not condone that behavior and we would have to officially take a different position.”
On the historically black college scene, Cosby is a major presence: he speaks frequently at campus events and helps with fund-raising. At a Tuskegee University last year, donors paid $5,000 or $10,000 to speak with Cosby and get a souvenir photo.
When Norman Francis of Xavier University of Louisiana announced his retirement in early September, Cosby called him. Francis got off another call with a reporter to speak with Cosby.
Xavier and Tuskegee did not respond to requests for comment.
Cosby is also still expected to be the speaker at a fund-raising dinner Dec. 5 for Freed-Hardeman University, a Christian institution in Tennessee. The university’s website says of its speaker that Cosby is “one of the most influential performers of the last half-century.”
Berklee’s decision to take Cosby’s name off one of its scholarships was first reported by the International Business Times.
Inside Higher Ed is a free, daily online publication covering the fast-changing world of higher education.
PBS NewsHour coverage of higher education is supported by the Lumina Foundation and American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The 31st year of the annual Miami Book Fair International is underway, with hundreds of thousands of book lovers browsing the stalls set up along the streets of the coastal city in southern Florida.
It’s an eight-day literary festival in November where more than 450 authors read and discuss their work. Every genre is represented, including children’s books and graphic novels. It’s one of the most diverse literary events in the U.S.
The book fair started on Nov. 16, but the heart of the event is the Street Fair, which takes place starting today through the end of the festival on Sunday.
Throughout the weekend Street Fair, PBS will be live streaming interviews and special segments with distinguished authors. NewsHour’s senior arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown will anchor the live-stream and a 30-minute highlight show that will appear on PBS World Channel at 6:30 p.m. EST Nov 22-24.
Brown will be joined by co-host Kelly Corrigan, New York Times bestselling author of “Glitter and Glue” and host of Medium’s “Foreword,” and Kalyn Chapman James from Miami’s WPBT. Coverage is produced by Detroit Public Television.
During the live stream, you can hear from authors like Richard Ford, Norman Lear, Judy Blume, Walter Isaacson, Anne Patchett, Emma Straub, poet Mark Strand, as well as actor Jason Segel, director John Waters, rapper Questlove and so many more. The stream will be available from 4-9 p.m. EST today and from 12-6 p.m. EST Saturday and Sunday. A schedule of the live stream events can be found here.
Watch the live stream above or check out segments on-demand using the playlist below.
The post WATCH LIVE: hear from the authors at Miami Book Fair International appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) November 20, 2014
A painting of a white blossom on a Jimson weed is now the most expensive work of art by a woman, and a record-setter for the late American artist Georgia O’Keeffe. Her 1932 “Jimson Weed, White Flower No. 1″ made history at a Sotheby’s auction in New York on Thursday, selling for $44.4 million. That’s three times more than the previous record for a female artist and more than three times what auctioneers expected it to fetch. Seven initial bidders were narrowed down to two, with the winning bid made over the phone by an anonymous buyer.
The painting was sold by the museum that bears O’Keeffe’s name in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a means of bolstering its acquisitions fund. The museum holds 1,149 of O’Keeffe’s works but made the decision earlier this year to sell three paintings in order to acquire more. “The museum holds half the artist’s output throughout her life,” the museum’s director, Robert Kret, explained. “But still there are gaps that need to be filled.”
This particular painting has a storied history. For 6 years of President George W. Bush’s presidency it hung in the private dining room of the White House. To learn more about the painting, and O’Keeffe, watch this video from Sotheby’s.
The post Auction brings record for O’Keeffe and women artists appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
For 29 years now, Paul Solman’s reports on the NewsHour have been trying to make sense of economic news and research for a general audience. Since 2007, our Making Sen$e page has striven to do the same, turning to leading academics and thinkers in the fields of business and economics to help explain what’s interesting and relevant about their work. That includes reports and interviews with economists affiliated with the esteemed National Bureau of Economic Research.
Founded in 1920, NBER is a private nonprofit research organization devoted to objective study of the American economy in all its dazzling diversity, combining data with rigorous analysis to describe and explain the material world in which we live long before data analytics became fashionable. “Why Some Women Try to Have It All: New Research on Like Mother Like Daughter” and “Why Does the First Child Get the Gold? An Economics Answer” have been among our most popular posts on Making Sen$e, both of them largely based on NBER research. We thought our readership might benefit from a closer relationship.
Each month, the NBER Digest summarizes several recent NBER working papers. These papers have not been peer-reviewed, but are circulated by their authors for comment and discussion. With the NBER’s blessing, Making Sen$e is pleased to begin featuring these summaries regularly on our page.
The following summary is written by NBER and does not necessarily reflect the views of Making Sen$e. Note that Making Sen$e talked to Gruber last year about Massachusetts’ health care law, and the NewsHour discussed Gruber’s recent comments about the Affordable Care Act with Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News and Louise Radnofsky of The Wall Street Journal.
– Simone Pathe, Making Sen$e Editor
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) introduced dramatic reforms to the health insurance industry, including the creation of online marketplaces for the purchase of insurance, a key element in the effort to expand insurance coverage.
The success of these health insurance marketplaces (HIMs) will depend on their ability to attract multiple insurers to strengthen price competition. However, insurer participation in these marketplaces in the first year was limited. In the 34 states served by federally-facilitated marketplaces (FFMs), half of the population had three or fewer choices of insurers.
In “More Insurers Lower Premiums: Evidence from Initial Pricing in the Health Insurance Marketplaces” (NBER Working Paper No.
The authors focus on the 34 federally-facilitated marketplaces, and they investigate whether the top three insurers in the pre-ACA individual health insurance market in each of these states — a total of 102 insurers — participate in the marketplace. They find that 55 of these insurers, or 54 percent, participated in the relevant FFM. States are subdivided into ratings areas, and insurers need not participate in all ratings areas within a state. The population-weighted average number of insurers per ratings area was 3.9; this includes insurers who were not in the top three.
Because insurers may prefer to participate in markets where medical costs are lower or incomes are higher, the degree of concentration in an FFM may be related to other market characteristics. To identify the effect of competition without such potentially confounding factors, the authors exploit quasi-experimental variation in marketplace concentration generated by the decision of United Healthcare, the nation’s largest insurer, to forgo participation in all FFMs. United’s individual insurance market share varies widely across states, so the decision differentially affected competition across markets. The authors construct a measure of the change in market concentration resulting from United’s nonparticipation decision and model its effect on the premium of the second-lowest-price silver plan (2LPS), a premium directly linked to federal subsidies.
The results suggest that additional competitors can have a large effect on premiums and federal subsidies. Premiums are highest in marketplaces where United’s participation would have had the largest effect in increasing competition. On average, the population-weighted 2LPS premium would have been 5.4 percent lower had United entered all markets. And if all insurers present in a state in 2011 had entered the exchanges, FFM premiums would have been 11 percent lower. In turn, this would have translated into estimated savings in federal subsidies totaling $1.7 billion in 2014, and as much as $105 billion over the next ten years if non-participation were to persist.
Comparing these results to previous work, the authors conclude that the competitive dynamics characterizing these early exchange markets are akin to those of the mature, but imperfectly competitive, large-group markets. However, future entry (such as the large increase in insurers entering in the second year of the exchanges) and greater plan standardization may change this assessment.
– Claire Brunel, National Bureau of Economic Research
The post Jonathan Gruber: Success of insurance marketplaces hinges on competition appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Following an unfavorable U.S. Supreme Court ruling that sided with TV networks, startup Internet company Aereo said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
“The U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively changed the laws that had governed Aereo’s technology, creating regulatory and legal uncertainty,” CEO Chet Kanojia said in a statement on the company’s homepage. “And while our team has focused its energies on exploring every path forward available to us, without that clarity, the challenges have proven too difficult to overcome.”
Nearly five months ago, the justices ruled that the online streaming service, which enabled users to watch live broadcast television programming through portable devices, such as tablets, laptops and smartphones, violated copyright law. The ruling required Aereo to pay licensing fees for transmitting programming from broadcast networks, including ABC, NBC and Fox.
Kanojia had told Bloomberg that Aereo didn’t have a contingency plan should the Supreme Court side with broadcasters. The bankruptcy, Kanojia said recently, would allow the company to maximize the value of its business “without the extensive cost and distraction of defending drawn-out litigation in several courts.”
When it launched in 2012, Aereo offered an alternative for cord cutters who didn’t own a TV or pay for cable:
“Aereo represented a future where we can divorce ourselves from the cable TV model that forces us to pay for a bunch of stuff we don’t want to watch,” Business Insider said. “Instead, the long-term promise of Aereo was a system where TV networks could unbundle themselves from cable and let you subscribe to what you want individually.”
Although Aereo is no longer a threat to the traditional broadcast model, a tide has turned in the entertainment world. In October, HBO and CBS announced similar cord-cutting options that would make previously subscription-only content available on stand-alone online streaming services in 2015.
The post Internet TV startup Aereo files for Chapter 11 banktuptcy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Editor’s Note: While President Barack Obama’s executive action last night will bring deportation relief to millions of undocumented immigrants, deportation remains a concern for thousands of children who entered the U.S. illegally. Lauren Markham addresses the question of how to best educate students undergoing the legal process.
“I didn’t want to come here, but I had no other choice,” Ricardo told me earlier this fall.
Ricardo, a tenth grade student at Oakland International High School, left his home country of Guatemala last spring, making his way up through Mexico and crossing into the Arizona desert. His father left when he was a baby in Guatemala and a few years later, his mother passed away. He had lived with his grandparents for several years, but in 2013, they died too.
Gang violence had increased in his hometown and because he was an orphan, he was an easy target for gang recruitment. So he left. There was nothing to go back to, he thought as he walked through the desert in Arizona. But after he got separated from his group, he spotted a border patrol car and turned himself in.
After four months and three different detention shelters in Arizona and Texas, Ricardo arrived in Oakland to temporarily live with a sponsor — a friend of a friend of the family — while he waited for his day in court. Meanwhile, he enrolled at Oakland International High School, a public school for recently-arrived immigrants, where I coordinate non-academic services and partnerships for our students and families.
Naturally, students like Ricardo and the 94 other unaccompanied minors in my school have a hard time concentrating in class. There are the effects of the trauma they’ve almost all experienced impacting their ability to focus, remember and synthesize information.
There’s also the very real preoccupation with their legal case. Unaccompanied minors all have upcoming immigration court dates; if they cannot prove that they have legal grounds to stay, they will be sent home. It’s nearly impossible to apply for any kind of immigration status without a lawyer, but lawyers are expensive and hard to come by. For students like Ricardo who face the possibility of deportation back to serious danger, it’s hard to focus on algebra or biology — on anything, really, besides their upcoming court date.
But school is critical to their future. School provides a safe, structured and supportive environment for these youth who have experienced so much instability, and they need to learn English to survive and thrive here should they be granted permission to stay. Moreover, judges tend to look favorably on children who are attending school, and are often more likely to grant asylum or special immigrant juvenile status to youth who show a commitment to becoming positive, educated, engaged residents of the United States.
So how can we keep unaccompanied youth in school?
I think we need to focus on supporting their non-academic needs. At Oakland International High School, this has meant building partnerships with legal organizations and private attorneys to setup legal clinics and intakes for our students. Local legal agencies Legal Services for Children, Centro Legal de la Raza and East Bay Sanctuary Covenant have teamed up to provide mass screening and intake days at our school. During the school day, teams of attorneys flock to our school to meet individually with students and see for what kind of relief they might qualify. More than 45 students have received lawyers this fall alone, and thus have a shot at winning their case to stay.
But legal needs are just the tip of the iceberg for students like Ricardo. We connected him with counseling services at our school so he has a trusted adult in which to confide, and our social work intern checks in with him each week to make sure his basic needs — food, clothing, shelter — are being taken care of. He joined our school’s soccer team, run by Soccer Without Borders, and now has a family of friends and positive activities in which to engage during the weekend.
But OIHS is just one of many schools nationwide grappling with how to best support the high needs of unaccompanied minors. If we really want students like Ricardo to succeed in life and in school, we need to ensure that they are connected to the services they need and deserve.
Lauren Markham is the community school manager at Oakland International High School in Oakland, California.
The post How to support students on the brink of deportation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Editor’s Note: On Thursday’s broadcast, Paul Solman reported on the Uber controversy stirred by one of its executives when he suggested — thinking he was off the record — that the company should investigate reporters critical of the company. “Might that be a P.R. problem?” he was asked. “Nobody would know it was us,” he replied. (Read more from BuzzFeed reporter Ben Smith, who broke the story.)
But as industry analyst Jan Dawson told Gwen Ifill, there’s more than one story casting the ride-sharing company in a poor light. “There’s this consistent picture emerging of a sort of frat boy culture at Uber.”
Meanwhile, as we’ve reported on Making Sen$e, some Uber drivers are disgruntled about rate cuts and their inability to make ends meet driving as a full-time gig.
That’s not unusual for Silicon Valley, says Making Sen$e regular contributor Vivek Wadhwa, who’s written widely about the importance of diversity in the high-tech industry. Here’s what he told Fox Business News’ Deirdre Bolton Tuesday:
This is symptomatic of what’s wrong with Silicon Valley. This level of arrogance. You’ve got this money that’s coming through the system, and regular people who lucked out and made it big. They think they’re God and can mistreat anyone they want to mistreat….
This is the type of behavior you see here, too often…. Every step of the way, women have a disadvantage over here [in Silicon Valley]. It’s disgusting to see the way they’re treated at conferences; the way men talk about them. We’re back in the 1950s over here, before the Civil Rights era. This is how Silicon Valley is, and this is why I’ve been battling it so much and arguing it needs to be fixed because you see it manifesting itself all over the place. If there were women on Uber’s board, and on its executive team, they would not have behaved this way. It’s these arrogant guys who get away with this… This happens all the time. Except in this case it blew out of all proportion because it was directed at journalists.
An Uber spokesman released the following statement, attributed to Michael after his comments were made public:
The remarks attributed to me at a private dinner — borne out of frustration during an informal debate over what I feel is sensationalistic media coverage of the company I am proud to work for — do not reflect my actual views and have no relation to the company’s views or approach. They were wrong no matter the circumstance and I regret them.
But as Vivek writes in the following column, he would have expected more from a company revolutionizing ground transportation, because ultimately, they’re hurting themselves. This essay originally appeared on the Washington Post’s Innovations blog and is reprinted here with permission from Wadhwa. He is an entrepreneur and academic at Stanford, Duke, Emory and Singularity Universities.
– Simone Pathe, Making Sen$e Editor
Uber, the leading ridesharing company, has earned the distinction of becoming one of the most hated companies in the technology industry.
One of its executives, Emil Michael, recently suggested to a large dinner gathering that his company should allocate $1 million to dig up dirt on reporters who were criticizing it. Last month, it tried to entice riders in Lyon, France, with ads pitching free pickups from attractive female drivers. In an interview with GQ earlier this year, Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick referred to his $18 billion company as “Boober” because it gained him “skyrocketing desirability” with women. The company has also received widespread criticism for treating its drivers as disposable entities.
The irony is that Uber may actually be doing humanity a service — by paving the digital trails. Uber and its CEO are doing the same work as the industrialists who built the railroads and core infrastructure that catapulted the United States into global, economic and industrial dominance in the 19th century. They exploited labor, corrupted governments, and built monopolies. They were so despised that they were called robber barons. Uber is also exploiting labor to some extent, but its disrepute is largely because of its arrogance and frat-boy behavior—not only its business practices. And this behavior is only slowing the company down.
What Uber is building is not a tangible asset such as a steel mill, railroad or oil pipeline, but their digital equivalent. It is creating an economy of scale that can connect people to transportation networks via smartphones — a new form of “frictionless transactions.”
MORE FROM MAKING SEN$E
Uber’s first innovation was in the immediate availability of transportation. Uber’s new carpooling feature has accomplished in a few months what cities, states and companies have struggled to accomplish for decades — functional shared private car usage. And now we are getting a glimpse of what is possible with Uber’s announcement of delivery services for medicines and essential goods. It can create all sorts of new economic efficiencies.
Equally important, Uber is changing the way people think about cities, transportation, and ownership and is laying a psychological foundation — a mental infrastructure — for a post-ownership society. My son Tarun lives in a region of San Francisco that is poorly served by public transportation. Buses take forever, and cabs are unreliable. So, last year, after using Uber, Lyft, and other on-demand ride-sharing services, he sold his car. These services have made it much easier for him to get around and eliminated the hassles of finding a parking spot.
MORE FROM VIVEK WADHWA
Just as it required a major mental leap for people to imagine cities after horses, building the mental framework to imagine cities after cars is no simple task. That is why stoops (staircases to apartment buildings) in New York are so high: they were designed to remain above the horse manure, and that thinking has never changed. Uber has already changed our thinking about transportation; it has paved the way for dozens of competitors, who can see the winning formula at work on our smartphones. Flip through the various Uber competitors, and you’ll see software and user interfaces that are very similar to those that Uber has built. In that sense, Uber’s monopoly on infrastructure is not as defensible as those of the traditional robber barons.
And, frankly, that’s what mystifies me. You would think a company that has done such a great job building a digital infrastructure that’s hard to defend would care more than it does about projecting a friendly image and about assisting the people working for it. You would expect greater social responsibility and less arrogance.
True, the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, and the Vanderbilts — who were the most famous robber barons—also made few friends during their ascendancy. And, as Kalanick does, they had a “winner-take-all” attitude and went to extreme lengths to build their visions. In the case of the railroads, the oil pipelines, or the steel mills, often this meant taking land away from people who did not want to hand it over. Or it meant building things without proper political or regulatory approvals, because they figured that once the project had become a fait accompli, the laws could be changed to reflect the new reality.
MORE FROM VIVEK WADHWA
Uber has built its business without waiting to consult with government on the legality of ride-sharing. If it had waited, the business might never have gotten off the ground. But Uber has also managed, along the way, to anger many people and alienate large swathes of both drivers and journalists. Riders have not left the company to any large degree — yet. Uber’s work remains unfinished, but its mission is an important one. Let’s hope that Kalanick can recognize that this requires a bit more maturity, dignity, and tact; that by sharing his prosperity with the drivers who are helping him build this new infrastructure, he can avoid the label “robber baron;” and that he will come sooner rather than later to put the welfare of others before that of his ambitions.
The post Uber’s boys club is what’s wrong with Silicon Valley appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: the end of books?
Well, not in Miami, and certainly not this week.
Jeffrey Brown reports.
JEFFREY BROWN: It’s part street festival, part excuse to enjoy that it’s 70 degrees in Miami while blizzards blanket other parts of the country, and all celebration of that old-fashioned, hold-it-in-your hand technology, the book.
The Miami Book Fair International is said to be the largest literary event of its kind in the nation, an eight-day affair that attracts some 250,000 book lovers and more than 600 authors to the downtown campus of Miami-Dade College. But people weren’t exactly flocking downtown 31 years ago, when it all began.
EDUARDO PADRÓN, President, Miami Dade College: There was very little activity, commercial and otherwise.
JEFFREY BROWN: I have seen you describe it as a scary place.
EDUARDO PADRON: A very, very scary place, and people wouldn’t want to come downtown.
JEFFREY BROWN: Eduardo Padron is the president of Miami-Dade College and a co-founder of the book fair.
Today, this urban campus is part of a hugely diverse institution. It enrolls more than 160,000 students.
WOMAN: Violence erupted again.
JEFFREY BROWN: But in the early 1980s, this area was home to crime and drugs. Riots had devastated parts of Miami, and “TIME” magazine asked if the region was America’s paradise lost. Padron, though, saw an opportunity.
EDUARDO PADRON: I’m an avid reader, but it wasn’t my main motivation, if I’m going to be honest with you. It was to do something to bring people downtown, and have a good time and feel at ease in downtown. It was important for the city. It was important for the college.
JEFFREY BROWN: One requirement, of course, the people who write the books, the authors who give readings and are the stars of the affair. The first year, that included two young local writers who would go on to literary fame, one of them Dave Barry.
DAVE BARRY, Author: I had a — some little humor book, and they set up a card table for me. I didn’t go do a big indoor thing. Card table out on the main street there. I think it’s Second Street.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
DAVE BARRY: And my card table was on one side. Directly across from me was Carl Hiaasen with his cart.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
DAVE BARRY: So he sat behind a little pile of his books, and I sat behind a little pile of my books. And, you know, every now and then, somebody would come by and — and buy a book.
MITCHELL KAPLAN, Books & Books: And this is a book that’s being talked about.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. Yes.
The fair’s other godfather was Mitchell Kaplan, then the young owner of a fledgling bookstore called Books & Books. He recalls having to overcome the city’s reputation.
MITCHELL KAPLAN: When I would ask for an author in the early days, it was often, the publisher would often say, well, you know, we have this new nonprescription drug book out.
MITCHELL KAPLAN: We’d be happy to send that author down. And I go, no, no, no, you don’t understand. I want Richard Ford, or I want Russell Banks. I want somebody who really is going to have some sway down here.
JEFFREY BROWN: Ford and Banks eventually did come and kept coming. They’re both here this year with other leading literary lights such as Joyce Carol Oates and Ann Patchett, and hundreds of other writers in all genres and styles, with a major emphasis on writing in Spanish.
Today, the fair is supported by numerous local and national foundations and corporations. As the fair has grown, so has the city and its cultural life and, says Michael Spring, head of the Miami-Dade Office of Cultural Affairs, there’s a direct connection.
MICHAEL SPRING, Director, Miami-Dade Office of Cultural Affairs: The book fair sort of instilled in Miami a certain confidence about itself, that we could aspire to things like an international literary event here, and not just be credible, but be incredibly successful in doing it.
JEFFREY BROWN: If hundreds of thousands of locals would attend a book fair, that is, then why not a concert or the ballet? And just the last decade has seen the opening of the Arsht Performing Arts Center, several new museums, more on the rise.
EDWIDGE DANTICAT, Novelist: Every third Friday, there’s something called Big Night in Little Haiti.
JEFFREY BROWN: At the Little Haiti Cultural Center, acclaimed novelist Edwidge Danticat told us part of Miami’s cultural energy comes from its immigrant population.
EDWIDGE DANTICAT: This is where a lot of people land, whether they come by boat — and a lot of people do come by boat — or whether they come by plane. It’s a lot of people’s first homes. So that brings with it a lot of voices, but also a lot of voices — how the voices merge, how they interact, how they don’t interact. And that’s always exciting for literature.
JEFFREY BROWN: The fair this year featured an evening of Haitian music, along with authors and publishers from around the globe. Most of all, though, Danticat says, it allows passionate readers, herself included, to rub shoulders with authors they love.
EDWIDGE DANTICAT: Sometimes, it feels like a religious experience, because it’s people wait in really long lines to get in to see the writers, and it’s really one of those opportunities, also to have an exchange, I think, with the rest of the literary culture of the country.
JEFFREY BROWN: Of course, all this is happening at a time when the main narrative about books is that, well, they’re dying, aren’t they?
MITCHELL KAPLAN: Books are alive and well. I can absolutely say that.
JEFFREY BROWN: Mitchell Kaplan will have none of it. He thinks independent bookstores like his — he now has three — have learned not only to survive, but in some cases to thrive, even in the world of e-books.
MITCHELL KAPLAN: Most people who are readers read in a lot of different formats, and the preferred format seems to be the physical book.
JEFFREY BROWN: The actual book lives.
MITCHELL KAPLAN: The actual book. It’s a pretty perfect — if you think about it, the physical book is a fairly perfect little machine without a plug.
DAVE BARRY: We don’t think that much. Men don’t..
DAVE BARRY: We’re just — like, if you were to look at the brains of men, like men in this audience right now, lot of them are just going, hmm.
JEFFREY BROWN: That doesn’t mean all is rosy in the book world. And even successful authors like Dave Barry have to find new ways to gin up sales. At this year’s book fair, he bantered and joked on stage with author Sandra Tsing Loh before an appreciative audience.
DAVE BARRY: Selling your book is — turns out to be as important and lately more important than whatever the book is.
JEFFREY BROWN: So you see yourself as, what, part writer and part performer?
DAVE BARRY: I would say, in my case, more performer.
DAVE BARRY: Because, you know, you write the — honestly, see, it feels like you spend more time in the end talking about your book than writing, than actually writing your book. I don’t — I don’t think that’s the way Marcel Proust did it, but I think that’s the way I do it, yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: Proust, Barry pointed out to me, didn’t make it to this year’s fair, but thousands of others did.
I’m Jeffrey Brown for the “PBS NewsHour” in Miami.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can hear from some of the authors themselves. We’re live-streaming events all weekend from the Miami Book Fair. Those details are on Art Beat on our Web site.
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WASHINGTON — A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.
Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, intelligence about who carried it out and why was contradictory, the report found. That led Susan Rice, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to inaccurately assert that the attack had evolved from a protest, when in fact there had been no protest. But it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call, the committee found. The report did not conclude that Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people.
The House Intelligence Committee report was released with little fanfare on the Friday before Thanksgiving week. Many of its findings echo those of six previous investigations by various congressional committees and a State Department panel. The eighth Benghazi investigation is being carried out by a House Select Committee appointed in May.
The attacks in Benghazi killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith, and two CIA contractors, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty. A Libyan extremist, Ahmed Abu Khatalla, is facing trial on murder charges after he was captured in Libya and taken to the U.S.
In the aftermath of the attacks, Republicans criticized the Obama administration and its then-secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is expected to run for president in 2016. People in and out of government have alleged that a CIA response team was ordered to “stand down” after the State Department compound came under attack, that a military rescue was nixed, that officials intentionally downplayed the role of al-Qaida figures in the attack, and that Stevens and the CIA were involved in a secret operation to spirit weapons out of Libya and into the hands of Syrian rebels. None of that is true, according to the House Intelligence Committee report.
The report did find, however, that the State Department facility where Stevens and Smith were killed was not well-protected, and that State Department security agents knew they could not defend it from a well-armed attack. Previous reports have found that requests for security improvements were not acted upon in Washington.
“We spent thousands of hours asking questions, poring over documents, reviewing intelligence assessments, reading cables and emails, and held a total of 20 committee events and hearings,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the committee’s chairman, and Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the ranking Democrat, in a joint statement.
“We conducted detailed interviews with senior intelligence officials from Benghazi and Tripoli as well as eight security personnel on the ground in Benghazi that night. Based on the testimony and the documents we reviewed, we concluded that all the CIA officers in Benghazi were heroes. Their actions saved lives,” they said.
Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who serves on the intelligence panel and the Benghazi select committee, said, “It’s my hope that this report will put to rest many of the questions that have been asked and answered yet again, and that the Benghazi Select Committee will accept these findings and instead focus its attention on the State Department’s progress in securing our facilities around the world and standing up our fast response capabilities.”
Some of the harshest charges have been leveled at Rice, now Obama’s national security adviser, who represented the Obama administration on Sunday talk shows the weekend after the attack. Rice repeated talking points that wrongly described a protest over a video deemed offensive to Muslims.
But Rice’s comments were based on faulty intelligence from multiple agencies, according to the report. Analysts received 21 reports that a protest occurred in Benghazi, the report said —14 from the Open Source Center, which reviews news reports; one from the CIA; two from the Defense Department; and four from the National Security Agency.
In the years since, some participants in the attack have said they were motivated by the video. The attackers were a mix of extremists and hangers on, the investigation found.
“To this day,” the report said, “significant intelligence gaps regarding the identities, affiliations and motivations of the attackers remain.”
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JUDY WOODRUFF: A chilling account of a gang rape at the University of Virginia has reignited attention over the problem of sexual assault on campus.
In this case, it is provoking new investigations and questions about the university’s response to assault cases and whether it has covered them up. The story appears in “Rolling Stone” magazine. It’s an account of what happens to an unidentified freshman who is called Jackie and is attacked at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house in 2012.
Seven men took turns raping the 18-year-old over three hours. Two others watched, according to the piece. The story also finds that faculty and friends didn’t encourage her to report the attack and that the fraternity wasn’t investigated until this year.
The University of Virginia declined our invitation to appear. It has asked the Charlottesville police to investigate. More on its statements in just a moment.
But, first, let’s turn to the reporter who wrote the story for “Rolling Stone.” She is Sabrina Rubin Erdely.
Sabrina, thank you for talking with us.
First of all, why did you want to do this story? What caught your attention? Why UVA? And what is it about this story that you think was worthy of this kind of attention?
SABRINA RUBIN ERDELY, Rolling Stone: Well, we were looking to address the problem of rape on college campuses.
This is an issue that’s being discussed everywhere and we were looking to really investigate, what does it really look like on the ground level when there’s a rape at college against the greater context of college?
So I looked around at a lot of different campuses and I interviewed a lot of different students. I was looking to set this story at a university that had a good reputation, but also felt very representative of what was going on at American colleges across the country with regard to sexual assault.
I was also hoping that it would be a college that was under Title IX investigation, and on top of that, a place where people were willing to talk to me about their sexual assault experiences. And I found all that at University of Virginia.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And the Title IX is a reference to the — is a reference, quickly, to the federal investigation that is under way in a number of colleges around the country.
Can you just give us the basic outlines of what happened to the student you’re calling Jackie?
SABRINA RUBIN ERDELY: Yes. And, in fact, Jackie is her real name.
When I first encountered Jackie, I was absolutely shocked by her story. She went to the administration and told them that she had been gang-raped at a fraternity house by seven men while two others watched. And the administration did nothing about it.
And even though a year later, she actually came to the administration again and told them that she had heard of two other women who had come to her telling them that they, too, had been gang-raped at the same fraternity, the administration also chose to do nothing about that.
So that was incredibly shocking to me, that the administration would decide not just to do nothing in her case, but nothing to warn the campus at large that there was a fraternity that was having parties and holding fraternity rush and so forth that had had numerous now allegations against it for gang rape. But nobody was ever warned.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It was also disturbing to read that her friends didn’t encourage her to report it. Did you find that this is something that is common on this campus and maybe on other campuses as well?
SABRINA RUBIN ERDELY: That was an incredibly common and very disturbing thing that emerged from this article, was that when Jackie confided in her friends, they dismissed it, they laughed it off, they told her to brush it off and get over it. Some of them called her a baby for wallowing in it. They had asked her why she was still crying about it.
And that was incredibly common among rape survivors at the University of Virginia and elsewhere, that these women are sort of shamed and blamed and they’re told to just shake it off and get back to the party culture. And, really, students see this as — sexual assault not so much as a serious crime, but as this unfortunate casualty of the party culture.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me read, Sabrina, what the university said.
When your story came out two days ago, November 19, the university put out a statement. Among other things, they said: “Many details were previously not disclosed to university officials. And the university has recently adopted new policies aimed at fostering a culture of reporting.”
So is there a change at University of Virginia?
SABRINA RUBIN ERDELY: They have been making some changes lately.
They have implemented a bystander intervention campaign that they unveiled in September. They changed some policies to create more mandatory reporters. But the idea that they didn’t know some of the details of Jackie’s case, that sounds a little disingenuous to me, only because, when I approached Jackie about this article, she was very forthcoming about all the details.
And she confided that her — her allegations in a dean a year ago and has been in very close contact with her for the last year. So it makes me think that, if this dean didn’t know the details, it’s because Jackie was just never asked.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Among other things, you write in the article the — she — the college officials gave her options of what to do. One of those options was to do nothing.
SABRINA RUBIN ERDELY: And that’s very common now at colleges. A new approach to dealing with victims is to present them with a variety of options and leave the choice up to them how they want to pursue the case.
And, in theory, it’s a really nice idea, because the idea of forcing a victim into an unwanted option is a really sensitive thing for a victim of sexual assault. But in reality, what winds up happening is that these very traumatized students are presented with all these options that are presented completely neutrally, including the option of doing nothing, and so they wind up doing nothing and are told that that is perfectly fine.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What is the status of her case right now? How is she doing? And what — is there an investigation under way? Where does it stand?
SABRINA RUBIN ERDELY: Well, as a result of my article, the university has just announced that they have asked the police to look into her case.
Jackie herself is still incredibly traumatized by her assault, and she really feels good about having spoken out. This was a very difficult for her to speak out, because she was really criticized for it by her peers and very much discouraged for it. She even had a bottle thrown at her head for having the courage to speak out.
So, the fact that she had this incredible bravery I think really says something about how strongly she feels about getting her story out and the stories of others out.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, what is your sense of what other schools, how other schools are dealing with this? Is this — did you see this as a way of letting the world know that this is going on in more than one campus?
SABRINA RUBIN ERDELY: I mean, part of the reason why I chose the University of Virginia is because I felt that it was really representative of what was going on at campuses across the country.
When I spoke to experts, they told me that this — the — really, the scary truth is that, if you dig deep enough really in any campus, this is probably what you will find, that what happens at University of Virginia is probably not the exception. It’s probably — this is the norm.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, on that very sobering note, we will thank you, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, contributing editor at “Rolling Stone.” Thank you.
SABRINA RUBIN ERDELY: Thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Earlier today, friends and family of the Islamic State’s latest Western beheading victim, aid worker Peter Kassig, said goodbye to the 26-year-old.
Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports.
MARGARET WARNER: Kassig, who converted to Islam after his capture in 2013 and took the name Abdul-Rahman, was memorialized this afternoon at an Indiana mosque.
Among the speakers, prominent Syrian Sunni cleric Sheik Muhammad al-Yaqoubi. Al-Yaqoubi was among the first Syrian clerics to call on President Bashar al-Assad to step down in 2011 after government forces cracked down on peaceful protesters. He was forced into exile later that year.
But he’s also a vocal critic of the Islamic State group. Two months ago, he released an open letter to its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, telling him: “You have misinterpreted Islam into a religion of harshness, brutality, torture and murder,” which he called a great wrong and an offense to Islam.
I spoke with Sheik al-Yaqoubi yesterday.
Sheik al-Yaqoubi, thank you for joining us.
SHEIK MUHAMMAD AL-YAQOUBI: Thank you.
MARGARET WARNER: Why did you agree to speak at Peter Kassig’s funeral when the family asked you to?
SHEIK MUHAMMAD AL-YAQOUBI: Well, Peter Kassig, Abdul-Rahman, sacrificed his life for the sake of the Syrian people.
He went on a humanitarian mission as an aid worker to help save humanity, to show sympathy to the Syrian people, solidarity of the American people with the Syrian people. So it’s our duty as Syrians to stand by his family, and to stand by his community, and to stand by the American people who gave this example of bravery in this difficult time, when ISIS is slaughtering everyone.
MARGARET WARNER: Why do you think the Islamic State group is staging these violent beheadings of Westerners, even aid workers like Peter Kassig?
SHEIK MUHAMMAD AL-YAQOUBI: They carry hatred to the world, to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
You see he converted to Islam. It didn’t help him. He was an aid worker. It didn’t help him. What kind of heart kills someone who came to help the people of Syria? What kind of a man even in Islam, between rockets, kills his Muslim brother?
MARGARET WARNER: So, why are they so successful, apparently, in attracting recruits from not only all over the Islamic world, but even Western Europe and here in the United States?
SHEIK MUHAMMAD AL-YAQOUBI: It’s the Assad regime and the atrocities of the Assad regime, which still continue.
It’s a killing machine; 200,000 people have been killed over 3.5 years now. So, as long as the atrocities continue, you will find groups like ISIS succeeding in recruiting more people.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, of course, you were an early opponent of the Assad regime. There were peaceful demonstrations then.
Why is the anti-Assad movement really now apparently being led by the most extreme elements in the Muslim community?
SHEIK MUHAMMAD AL-YAQOUBI: Because the voice of the people was lost within of all of the fighting.
The Assad regime is very cunning. It opted for violence and extreme use of power from the very early days of the uprising. And it released from prison the most extremist Islamists, knowing that they will opt for carrying guns and fighting and revenge. So that is how the shape of the Syrian uprising changed from the beginning.
MARGARET WARNER: You said earlier this week that al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed ruler of this Islamic State caliphate, was going to hell. What do you mean?
SHEIK MUHAMMAD AL-YAQOUBI: He’s against Islam. He’s non-Muslim, according to the Muslim standards, because he’s allowing people to kill Muslims, referring to the Book of Allah, wrongly using religious texts.
This is anti-Islamic. He’s going against God. He’s going against the message of Islam, Mohammed, peace be upon him. If he repents and come in a court and defend himself, he won’t have any one single verse of the Koran to defend his opinion in killing innocent people.
MARGARET WARNER: What will this hell look like?
SHEIK MUHAMMAD AL-YAQOUBI: For him?
MARGARET WARNER: Yes.
SHEIK MUHAMMAD AL-YAQOUBI: Hell will — for him, God knows what type of punishment he’s going to receive for this savagery which has never been witnessed in modern history.
You know, in Islam, we have never seen any group as extremist as this group. This is the most dangerous and serious group that existed ever in the history of Islam. It constitutes a threat, not only to the Syrians or the region, but to the whole world. Muslims and Islam carried mercy to the world. And this is totally against the very nature of the message of Islam.
MARGARET WARNER: What would you say to young recruits and would-be recruits? Are they headed for the same fate?
SHEIK MUHAMMAD AL-YAQOUBI: Well, first of all, they shouldn’t be lured by any propaganda that the Islamic State is waging through the Internet especially.
So joining al-Baghdadi is an act of sin, is an enormous sin, is an act of crime. It’s a crime against humanity. You are distorting the image of the very religion and the very God you are worshiping.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, you got more than 100 Islamic scholars of some prominence to sign this letter, but do you think there has been enough significant opposition and outcry from the moderate Muslim community, the nonviolent Muslim community in general against the Islamic State group?
SHEIK MUHAMMAD AL-YAQOUBI: You’re right, Margaret, to put this question. There has not been enough, indeed. And we regret this.
We think that mainstream media in the Arab world has not been highlighting this important issue by bringing religious scholars on prime time to address our Muslim fellows across the Arab world and the Islamic world.
MARGARET WARNER: But, I mean, these are your communities. Can not the communities themselves generate this kind of counterforce in all these other countries where some of these recruits are coming from?
SHEIK MUHAMMAD AL-YAQOUBI: It is very clear that it is incumbent upon all Muslims to inform if they know of anyone traveling, because they’re doing service to God by informing of anyone who is joining this gang.
This is a group of gangsters who are distorting history, distorting the history of humanity even, not only the history of Islam.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, three years ago, when you first came out against Assad, you talked about wanting to build a tolerant, democratic Syria, where all faiths, Sunni and Shia, other faiths could live side by side. Is that dream over?
SHEIK MUHAMMAD AL-YAQOUBI: No, it is not over.
The moment Assad is toppled, you will see that 70 percent of those people who are fighting now will lay down their weapons and they will go back to their homes to reunite with their families and rebuild the country.
Syrians are — they presented a beautiful example over centuries of harmonious coexistence between all the groups. Damascus is the oldest city that has been inhabited in the world for 10,000 years continually. And they are capable of doing this again.
MARGARET WARNER: And you think, after all this violence, all this savagery, it can be put back together?
SHEIK MUHAMMAD AL-YAQOUBI: Syria can be put back together. Its long history will not be erased by someone like al-Baghdadi or a group like ISIS.
Syrians have a lot of hopes. And they seek the help of the friends of Syria and the world to get rid of both the Assad and ISIS.
MARGARET WARNER: Sheik al-Yaqoubi, thank you so much.
SHEIK MUHAMMAD AL-YAQOUBI: Thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: U.S. and Iranian negotiators intensified their efforts today to overcome divisions in talks on Tehran’s nuclear program. The deadline for a deal is Monday.
Hari Sreenivasan has the story.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif unexpectedly met for a second time this evening. Despite reservations and objections from Israel, Gulf allies and many in Washington, Kerry is hoping to reach a deal with the country to defuse a 12-year standoff over its nuclear program.
To get up to speed on the latest, I’m now joined by David Sanger of The New York Times, who is covering the talks in Vienna.
So, David, this morning, when I read the news, it seemed that both parties were sort of leaving the negotiating table. Now you’re telling us they met twice. What happened?
DAVID SANGER, The New York Times: Well, it’s been a day of high drama. It’s not been clear that it’s been a day of much progress.
Much of this right now may be sort of last-72-hours brinksmanship. The word this morning was that, after one more meeting, the Iranian negotiator was going to fly back to Tehran, presumably, Hari, to get instructions about last-minute concessions.
And then we heard that Secretary of State Kerry was going to leave to go to Paris. He wasn’t going to stay around here and wait for his Iranian counterpart to return. By the end of the evening, they were both staying. We can’t tell if that is because of progress or because there was really no reason to go back and propose anything to Iran’s supreme leader.
HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. Let’s talk a little bit about what they’re talking about. The deadline is, as you said, just less than 72 hours away. How big is the gap in what both sides want?
DAVID SANGER: Well, the big — the gap in what they want is pretty huge.
The question is, how big is the gap in what they would settle for? And we’re not entirely certain where they are on each of the main issues. But the things on which they still seem to be divided still are the following.
First, the Iranians want in any final deal to have all of the sanctions, the sanctions and Western-based sanctions, and the United Nations sanctions, basically lifted almost immediately, but certainly in the very near future by a date certain.
President Obama wants to make sure that he simply suspends these sanctions, probably through the remaining part of his presidency, while the Iranians begin to comply with the requirements of the agreement, so that he could reimpose sanctions with just the signature of a pen if, in fact, the Iranians don’t comply fully.
And that’s a major issue. And of course, with Congress, that’s a big issue because don’t — they want to vote, and many in Congress want to impose some new sanctions.
Another big issue is how much uranium enrichment capacity Iran will be left with, and there are all sorts of proposals floating around. But two of the biggest are that Iran send a lot of its existing fuel to Russia, where it will be fabricated into some kind of fuel that they could use in one of their nuclear power plants. That would take it out of the potential for being turned into a weapon.
The other is that Iran dismantle a large number of its centrifuges, those floor-to-ceiling machines that spin at supersonic speeds and actually enrich the uranium. And that’s all part of a complex mathematical calculation about how do you get enough assurance that it would take Iran at least a year, maybe more, to race for a bomb?
HARI SREENIVASAN: That all said, how likely is a deal by Monday?
DAVID SANGER: I think the chances of a final deal on Monday are pretty slim. I would put them at well under 50 percent.
However, it’s in neither side’s interest at this point to have this entire negotiation fall apart. If that happened, Iran would have no chance of getting the sanctions lifted and would probably start producing nuclear fuel again.
So I think that the most likely outcome is some agreement in principle or some announcement that they have made some progress on some major areas, but then another extension. And that raises a lot of concerns as well, because it means that people who oppose a deal in Congress and people who oppose a deal in Tehran, which includes the Revolutionary Guard Corps, might have time to move in and sort of kill off the chances of any kind of final agreement.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Right.
All right, David Sanger of The New York Times joining us from Vienna, thanks so much.
DAVID SANGER: Thank you, Hari.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The strong response to the president’s speech went far beyond Capitol Hill. Around the country, some immigrants and their families and supporters applauded the move. Others said the president either went too far or has yet to go far enough. We hear now from some of those voices in their own words.
Some did not want to be identified, so we have chosen not to name names.
WOMAN: It’s my case. You know, it’s my parents’ case. It’s a lot of my friends’ cases.
And we feel like we’re just being stepped on, and we’re not considered human beings. We’re just seen as people who are coming to this country to do illegal things or be criminals. Now we can breathe a little bit, but continue to fight for the rest of the millions of immigrants that continue to stay behind the shadows.
WOMAN: I don’t think that this is a good way to give the community that we deserve, the community, and there will be a lot of workers, a lot of day laborers and community members who also deserve to be here, to stay in the country, because we contribute to the economy of this country, too.
WOMAN: I’m going to be able to work for this community that — and this country that it’s my country. It’s my country.
MAN: I’m undocumented, and, unfortunately, I have a criminal record, so I am not eligible for this.
WOMAN (through interpreter): It’s a step forward. Because my son graduated, he has his master’s degree, but, unfortunately, he wasn’t able to do anything. He arrived when he was 13 years old. It’s such a big fight, and there’s so much frustration among the youth who have studied and can’t do anything. But what the president just did is a big achievement.
MAN (through interpreter): He didn’t say anything, absolutely anything. It’s the same that he had said previously, the same lies. He wants to further militarize the borders. That money, they can use it for other things, at schools. They can do many more things, instead of criminalizing people, which is the only thing that they are doing.
WOMAN: This means a lot of stability for me and my kids.
WOMAN: One of my biggest fears was always losing my mom, especially because my dad’s not around as much in our lives.
WOMAN: I’m a citizen, and right now I don’t have a job and, you know, things like that. So, it’s going to be, I think, a little bit of a problem for us that have been here for a long time. You know, we have been here legal — legally for a long time, you know? And we’re not really making it. So, if we have more people, it will be worse.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Fresh off his address to the nation last night, President Obama launched an effort today to win support for his immigration moves. He headed back to a place where he has addressed the issue before.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today, we’re doing something about it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JUDY WOODRUFF: The president chose Del Sol High School in Las Vegas for his forum. It’s where he opened a drive last year for overhauling the immigration system.
BARACK OBAMA: And what we have to do is be honest that tracking down, rounding up and deporting millions of people is not realistic. That’s not who we are.
Most undocumented immigrants are good, decent people. They have been here for a long time.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JUDY WOODRUFF: The executive orders will shield nearly five million Immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally from being deported. Some four million of those have been here for at least five years and have children who were born here and are already U.S. citizens. Another 300,000 will be protected by expanding a 2012 directive covering younger immigrants. Instead, the focus of deportation efforts will shift to criminals and those who’ve entered the U.S. recently.
Republicans insisted again today that the president has gone too far. House Speaker John Boehner charged, Mr. Obama is damaging the presidency.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, Speaker of the House: We will not stand idle as the president undermines the rule of law in our country and places lives at risk. We will listen to the American people, we will work with our members, and we will work to protect the Constitution of the United States.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Boehner gave no specifics on what steps Republicans might take.
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, Maricopa County, Arizona: We are filing the lawsuit.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But an Arizona sheriff, Joe Arpaio, told a Phoenix TV station last night that he’s challenging the president’s action in court. He’s taken a tough line on immigration and been accused of racial profiling.
JOE ARPAIO: We have to understand whether this is constitutional or not, whether his going around Congress is legal. But I’m going to send a message, send a message that we’re not going to give up.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Several Republican governors have voiced support for legal action as well, including Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, North Carolina’s Pat McCrory, and Texas Governor Rick Perry.
We will return to the immigration issue and reaction from some of those affected after the news summary.
On another front, Republicans in the House of Representatives sued over President Obama’s health care law. The lawsuit charges he overstepped his legal authority in implementing the Affordable Care Act. That’s based in part on the administration’s decision to delay requiring employers to provide coverage for workers.
The death toll rose to at least 13 today from the snowstorm that blasted parts of Western New York State. The Buffalo area was buried this week under seven feet of snow, and there may be worse to come; the region is now bracing for a weekend warmup and rain that could trigger flooding.
Mayor Byron Brown said today they’re racing to clear the snow before it starts to melt.
MAYOR BYRON BROWN, Buffalo: We now have over 220 pieces of snow removal equipment in South Buffalo working as we speak, city crews, state crews, National Guard and private contractors that are all working. We have 1,600 trucks that have carted over 32,000 tons of snow out of South Buffalo.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Already, there’ve been more than 30 major roof collapses from the weight of the snow.
It’s been almost two years since 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot 20 young children and six teachers to death at a school in Newtown, Connecticut. Now a state report finds the school system, in effect, let Lanza’s parents — quote — “accommodate and appease him over the years,” rather than directing him toward the serious mental health treatment he needed. The report also pointed to the easy availability of assault weapons, which it called a critical public health issue in the U.S.
Lanza killed his mother, then attacked Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, before killing himself.
Attorney General Eric Holder called for police restraint today as a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, readies its decision in the death of Michael Brown. The panel is considering whether to indict a white police officer for killing the unarmed black teenager. There’ve been fears that the decision could spark new unrest. Holder posted a video statement today without mentioning Ferguson directly.
ERIC HOLDER, Attorney General: The Justice Department employs law enforcement officials in every jurisdiction to work with the communities that they serve to minimize needless confrontation. It is vital to engage in planning and preparation, from evaluating protocols and training to choosing the appropriate equipment and uniforms.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The attorney general also said the most successful protest movements have been those that are nonviolent.
The Japanese government has ordered Takata Corporation to begin an internal investigation into its air bag problems. The bags can inflate with so much force, they rupture and spew out bits of metal. That’s already prompted recalls of eight million vehicles. Japan’s Transport Ministry said today that it wants Takata to study whether more recalls are needed, both in Japan and the U.S.
Worries about slowing growth prompted China’s Central Bank today to make a surprise cut in interest rates. It was the first such move in more than two years. Growth in the world’s number-two economy has hit a five-year low of 7.3 percent.
The news from China went down well on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 91 points to close at 17810. The Nasdaq rose 11 points to close just below 4713. And the S&P 500 added 10 to finish at 2063. For the week, the Dow and the S&P gained 1 percent, the Nasdaq rose 0.5 percent.
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He also says in a video post by the Justice Department that protests are most effective when they’re nonviolent.
The Holder video released by Justice Friday doesn’t specifically refer to the situation in Missouri where a St. Louis County grand jury is deliberating whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
But in message, Holder does mention demonstrations over the past few months that sought to draw attention to “real and significant underlying issues involving police practices.”
STEPHEN FEE: American Indian Lisa Brunner spent her childhood on and around the White Earth Indian reservation — a huge tract of land in northern Minnesota that’s home to around 4000 American Indians.
Lisa grew up surrounded by domestic violence — and since has become a leading advocate for Native victims of abuse.
LISA BRUNNER: “It’s happening every day.”
STEPHEN FEE: Native women in the US face some of the highest levels of violence of any group. According to the Justice Department, one in three Native women has been raped. And three out of five will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes.
Lisa says she too is a victim of rape and sexual assault. She had enough, she says, when a boyfriend slapped her across the face while she cradled her nine month old child.
LISA BRUNNER: “And I packed up and left the next day, and I never went back. And I vowed thereafter that no man will ever touch me again. I will not — my babies will not know the life that I had to survive.”
Lisa says that as an adult, she seldom went to the police — and that much of that has to do with the fact that some of the men who attacked her were non-Native, not American Indians.
STEPHEN FEE: “So why does that matter? Up until recently, non-Native people were immune from prosecution in tribal courts. That’s crucial for two reasons: one, the Justice Department says non-Native men commit the vast majority of assaults and rapes against Native women. And two, federal attorneys — who are often the only lawyers who can try non-Natives who commit crimes on reservations — often don’t prosecute them.”
LISA BRUNNER: “I knew when I had been raped and been victimized and whatnot, I never tried to report it because nothing — I knew nothing would ever happen. I knew nothing would be done”
THERESA POULEY: “When you have the combination of the silence that comes from victims who live in fear and a lack of accountability by outside jurisdictions to prosecute that crime, you’ve created if you will, the perfect storm for domestic violence and sexual assault, which is exactly what all the statistics would sort of bear out.”
STEPHEN FEE: In a 1978 decision, the US Supreme Court said Indian tribes with their own tribal justice systems and courts were not allowed to charge non-Indians — unless Congress passed a law.
But Congress didn’t act for 35 years. Then just last year, when lawmakers were reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, sometimes called VAWA, they included a new provision granting tribal courts jurisdiction over a limited number of domestic and dating violence crimes committed by non-Indians on reservations — perhaps allowing people like Lisa Brunner to see justice.
STEPHEN FEE: “While the tribal domestic violence provision doesn’t kick in until March of next year, three Indian reservations have taken part in a pilot program, where they can begin some of those prosecutions now: one reservation in Arizona, one in Oregon, and this Indian reservation, the Tulalip Reservation, a little more than an hour’s drive north of Seattle, Washington.”
Theresa Pouley has served as chief judge on the Tulalip Tribal Court since 2009. She says the responsibility to prosecute offenders on Indian reservations belongs to tribal courts.
THERESA POULEY: “The confused jurisdiction in Indian country which leaves those responsibilities oftentimes to the state and federal government — who don’t effectively prosecute those crimes — creates this place where you have a category of people on Indian reservations who are essentially above the law.”
STEPHEN FEE: “What does this tribal provision in VAWA do to help close that gap?”
THERESA POULEY: “It allows me to treat all domestic violence perpetrators exactly the same, Indian or non-Indian. So I have authority over Indians who commit that crime. This just gives me authority over non-Indians who commit the exact same crime.”
STEPHEN FEE: Since March of this year, the Tulalip tribal prosecutor has brought charges against five alleged non-Indian domestic violence defendants — as of this airing, two have plead guilty, two are awaiting trial, and one case has been dismissed.
But will this new authority actually help stop the crisis of violence against Indian women? One concern: the new law only covers domestic and dating violence — it does not include crimes like assault by a stranger or even rape.
Michelle Demmert is the Tulalip Tribes’ lead attorney.
MICHELLE DEMMERT: “Unfortunately it’s not quite gone far enough. In just three recent cases, we had children involved, and we’re not able to charge on the crimes that were committed against those children including endangerment, criminal endangerment, possibly assault, other attendant or collateral crimes.”
STEPHEN FEE: “You’re able to prosecute one crime but not the other.”
MICHELLE DEMMERT: “That’s right. That’s right.”
STEPHEN FEE: Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn was one of the original co-sponsors of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act — but from a legal perspective, he says tribes cannot extend their authority to non-Indians.
SEN. TOM COBURN, R OKLAHOMA: “You cannot cast tribal sovereignty on me. I’m not a member of the tribe.”
STEPHEN FEE: Hailing from a state with one of the highest Indian populations in the country, Coburn says Congress should have forced US Attorneys, federal lawyers, to prosecute domestic violence crimes on reservations more vigorously rather than granting authority to tribal courts.
And he feels the new law falls short and may even be overturned in court because some tribal systems may not have the resources to ensure due process.
SEN. TOM COBURN: “There’s no way you can assure and guarantee constitutional provisions under what passed. So it –this provision will eventually be thrown out, be challenged, and on appeal they’ll lose, because you cannot guarantee American citizens their constitutional rights if they’re non-tribal members in a tribal court.”
STEPHEN FEE: But the Justice Department’s Sam Hirsch says any tribe that proceeds with prosecutions must adhere to a list of Constitutional guarantees laid out in the new law.
SAM HIRSCH: “Here’s the evidence that it’s working: under the pilot project, more than two dozen non-Indians have been charged with domestic violence and dating violence crimes. They all have the right to go straight to federal court and ask to be released if their rights are being violated. And how many have done so? Zero.”
STEPHEN FEE: “So far?”
SAM HIRSCH: “So far.”
STEPHEN FEE: Hirsch concedes the law is limited — especially because it only covers domestic violence and not more serious crimes — but he says the Justice Department is stepping up its prosecution rate against non-Natives.
SAM HIRSCH: “At the same time, we have to recognize that when federal prosecutors and FBI agents are often located hundreds of miles away, many hours’ drive away, it’s very hard for them to play the role of local law enforcement, especially on misdemeanor level crimes and lower-level felonies.”
STEPHEN FEE: In the years leading up to the Tulalip Reservation’s ability to prosecute non-Indians, Chief Judge Theresa Pouley says she’s already seen one mark of success.
THERESA POULEY: “The reporting of domestic violence and sexual assault cases have gone up at Tulalip for the last three years steadily as victims know that perpetrators will be held accountable — and as they know they’re going to be listened or heard, they actually report it more often. So if you just look at the numbers, you sort of see that it changes the level of reporting and that’s really the first step towards stopping it.”
STEPHEN FEE: Back on the White Earth reservation, Lisa Brunner is still concerned about the limitations of the new law — that it doesn’t cover crimes like rape. It’s especially personal because she says one of her daughters was raped a few years ago by non-Native men who came on to the reservation.
LISA BRUNNER: “Of course they threatened her and she didn’t tell me until after the fact. But we did report it to law enforcement and um — that was it.”
STEPHEN FEE: “Nothing happened after that?”
LISA BRUNNER: “No. Nothing.”
STEPHEN FEE: Once the new law goes into full effect next year, it’s expected that only a few dozen tribes are prepared to initially take on the task of prosecuting non-Indian defendants.
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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has quietly approved guidelines in recent weeks to allow the Pentagon to target Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, broadening previous plans that had limited the military to counterterrorism missions against al-Qaida after this year, U.S. officials said late Friday.
The president’s decisions also allow the military to conduct air support for Afghan operations when needed. Obama issued the guidelines in recent weeks, as the American combat mission in Afghanistan draws to a close, thousands of troops return home, and the military prepares for narrower counterterrorism and training mission for the next two years.
Obama’s moves expand on what had been previously planned for next year. One U.S. official said the military could only go after the Taliban if it posed a threat to American forces or provided direct support to al-Qaida, while the latter could be targeted more indiscriminately.
“To the extent that Taliban members directly threaten the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan or provide direct support to al-Qaida, however, we will take appropriate measures to keep Americans safe,” the official said.
The Taliban’s presence in Afghanistan far exceeds that of al-Qaida, adding significance to Obama’s authorization. The president’s decision came in response to requests from military commanders who wanted troops to be allowed to continue to battle the Taliban, the U.S. officials said.
The New York Times first reported the new guidelines. Officials confirmed details to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss Obama’s decisions by name.
The decision to expand the military’s authority does not impact the overall number of U.S. troops that will remain in Afghanistan. Earlier this year. Obama ordered the American force presence to be cut to 9,800 by the end of this year, a figure expected to be cut in half by the end of 2015.
The president wants all U.S. troops to be out of Afghanistan a year later, as his presidency draws to a close.
Some of the Obama administration’s planning for the post-2014 mission was slowed by a political stalemate in Afghanistan earlier this year. It took months for the winner of the country’s presidential election to be certified, delaying the signing of a bilateral security agreement that was necessary in order to keep U.S. forces in the country after December.
In Kabul, officials with the Afghan Defense Ministry declined to comment Saturday, while officials with the presidency could not be reached.
However, Afghan military analyst Jawed Kohistani said the move likely would be welcomed as President Ashraf Ghani’s new administration upon taking office immediately signed a deal with the U.S. to allow a residual force of 12,000 foreign troops in the country.
“We have heard from many military officers who are involved in direct fighting with the Taliban and other insurgents that still there is a need for more cooperation, there is need for an ongoing U.S. combat mission and there is need for U.S. air support for the Afghan security forces to help them in their fight against the insurgents,” Kohistani said.
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