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

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    WASHINGTON — When the CIA sought permission to use harsh interrogation methods on a captured al-Qaida operative, the response from Bush administration lawyers was encouraging, even clinical.

    In one of several memos forming the legal underpinnings for brutal interrogation techniques, the CIA was told that Abu Zubaydah could lawfully be placed in a box with an insect, kept awake for days at a time and slapped multiple times in the face. Waterboarding, too, was acceptable because it did not cause the lengthy mental anguish needed to meet the legal standard of torture, the 2002 Justice Department memo says.

    The lectern stands empty as reporters await the arrival of Director of Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan for a press conference at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, December 11, 2014.   The head of the Central Intelligence Agency acknowledged Thursday some agency interrogators used "abhorrent" unauthorized techniques in questioning terrorism suspects after the 9/11 attacks. CIA director John Brennan said there was no way to determine whether the methods used produced useful intelligence, but he strongly denied the CIA misled the public. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON        (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

    The lectern stands empty as reporters await the arrival of Director of Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan for a press conference at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, December 11, 2014. Credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

    The release last week of a Senate report cataloging years of such interrogation tactics has revived debate about legal opinions since discredited and withdrawn and about the decision to not prosecute the program’s architects or officers who used the methods. Civil rights groups in the United States and abroad are renewing calls to prosecute those who relied on techniques that President Barack Obama has called torture.

    “How can we seriously use the phrase `rule of law’ if crimes of this magnitude go uninvestigated and unprosecuted?” said Jameel Jaffer, the American Civil Liberties Union’s deputy legal director.

    The Justice Department, which spent years looking into the matter, says it lacks sufficient evidence to convict anyone and found no new information in the report. It also is far from clear that any international case could be brought.

    Department officials said they will not revisit their 2012 decision to close the investigation, citing among other challenges the passage of time and the difficulty of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that crimes were committed, especially in light of government memos that gave interrogators extraordinary latitude.

    “Our inquiry was limited to a determination of whether prosecutable offenses were committed. Importantly, our investigation was not intended to answer the broader questions regarding the propriety of the examined conduct,” the department said in a statement after the Senate report was released.

    That conclusion followed an investigation led by special prosecutor John Durham that begun in 2009 as an outgrowth of a probe into the destruction of videotapes of CIA interrogation tactics. The inquiry into interrogation tactics came amid the release of an internal CIA inspector general’s report that said CIA interrogators once threatened to kill the children of a Sept. 11 suspect and suggested that another suspected terrorist would be forced to watch his mother being sexually assaulted.

    Durham specifically looked for potential crimes in the deaths of two detainees, including one who was shackled to a cold concrete wall in a secret CIA prison, while in custody in Iraq and Afghanistan. In closing the investigation, the department said it had “reviewed a tremendous volume of information” about detainees alleged to have been in U.S. custody but did not find enough evidence to convict anyone.

    The investigation focused on instances in which interrogators went beyond what was approved in memos from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. The Obama administration had said interrogators would not face charges if they followed legal guidelines set forth in the memos, which have been rescinded.

    In great detail, the Bush administration memos explored the legality under the federal torture statute of varied interrogation methods contemplated by the CIA. The analysis established parameters for conduct, largely assuring the agency that actions now characterized by Obama as torture were legally permissive. The guidance was sought in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, as the country feared another attack, and CIA Director John Brennan said Thursday at a news conference that he was confident the overall interrogation program saved lives.

    One argument in the memos held that certain aggressive interrogation practices were permitted so long as they stopped short of producing pain equivalent to experiencing organ failure or death. Another said they were permissible provided the interrogator’s primary objective was to not “inflict severe pain or suffering.”

    Sleep deprivation, though uncomfortable, was judged acceptable because it did not cause severe physical pain, one memo states. Facial slaps were fine since they did not conjure fears of imminent death. Waterboarding was more problematic but did not result in the requisite “prolonged mental harm.”

    The government gave itself permission to use the techniques by defining torture “in such a way that almost any action could fall short of that definition,” said William Aceves, a national security law expert at the California Western School of Law.

    After the Senate report was released, United Nations officials said U.S. officials and interrogators who authorized or carried out torture must be prosecuted. They said the actions violate the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which the U.S. ratified in 1994 and which bars American personnel from engaging in torture or “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment of detainees.

    Lawyers say government officials could, theoretically, be at risk of prosecution in foreign countries where the interrogations occurred. A case also could be referred for prosecution by the U.N. Security Council to the International Criminal Court. But the U.S., which is not a member of the court, holds veto power.

    State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki would not discuss whether the U.S. would block other nations from prosecuting American individuals involved in the interrogation program. The Justice Department said if a foreign court takes action, it would raise “jurisdictional and other legal defenses to prevent unwarranted prosecution of U.S. officials.”

    American University law professor Stephen Vladeck said that while calls for prosecution were understandable, it’s not necessarily the most effective approach.

    “This was an orchestrated governmentwide campaign, and so unless you’re going to prosecute the entire government, what’s the best way to actually learn the right lessons?” he asked.

    The better question, he said, “is whether our goal is to punish those responsible or whether our goal is to build an unassailable historical record to ensure that this never happens again. And I don’t know that those two are consistent.”

    The post CIA report revives legal debate on harsh interrogation methods appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Chris Carlson/AP Photo

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Joining us now from Cusco, Peru, is William Mauldin. He has been covering the climate talks in Lima for The Wall Street Journal.

    So, what did they actually agree on?

    WILLIAM MAULDIN: Well, they agreed on a mechanism that will allow them to put forth their climate plans next year, their plans to cut greenhouse emissions well in the future, after 2020.

    For some of them, it might be 2030 or later. They agreed on this mechanism for the first time. And this has got all the developing countries really, really happy.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. So, what are the developing countries going to do and how do we verify that?

    WILLIAM MAULDIN: The developing countries are going to participate in making cuts someday.

    And the verification, that’s a matter of contention. That will be debated until the final text is worked out.

    But it looks like there will be some program where the countries put forth international targets and plans.

    And those will be reviewed by some international body, if not the United Nations, then perhaps nongovernmental organizations or climate groups or think tanks or something else, that will give us a baseline, comparing the cuts that one country are making to those of another country, perhaps a developed or a richer country.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: At the end of these talks, we saw this tension, this familiar tension reemerge between rich and poor countries.

    What was the argument — argument about?

    WILLIAM MAULDIN: Yes, it exploded in the early hours of Saturday, after they were already supposed to have finished.

    And that is just about, who is responsible for doing the — for doing the heavy lifting for climate change?

    Who has to make the painful emissions cuts?

    And, historically, in the Kyoto Protocol, it’s been the developed countries, like the U.S. — well, the U.S. intended to under the Kyoto Protocol, but it never ratified it — the European Union or other developed countries.

    Also, the question is, who is to finance all these changes and who is to pay for poorer countries to get ready for climate events in the future?

    So, that exploded out into the open. We had Venezuela and China opposing the text that was out there.

    It took some last-minute edits from the U.S., the European Union and the developed countries’ side to get to a point where they were — they were ready to let this go forward to negotiations next year that are supposed to finish up in Paris.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what happens in Paris now? It seems like, if you kick the can down the road, at some point, you’re going to have to do more hard work in Paris.

    WILLIAM MAULDIN: That’s right.

    Well, they will have some meetings before Paris.

    That is just a final summit where they hope to hammer out a deal that will cut emissions after 2020 and beyond.

    But, before that, there is a lot of work to be done figuring out exactly how it’s going to work, who is going to pay for it, where the money is going to come from, how much countries are going to cut.

    They have to voluntarily say how much carbon dioxide they want to cut well in the future.

    The rest of the world has to look at that and say, hey, that makes sense or, hey, you need to come back to the table.

    It’s a sort of a name and shame, though the people in the talks don’t like to call it that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, is there agreement on what that level should be, on whether trying to prevent the Earth from warming past a certain temperature is an agreed-upon goal?

    WILLIAM MAULDIN: Well, the idea is that all of the carbon dioxide cuts should add up to a level where we will be on track to keep the world from warming two degrees Celsius under the main scientific models out there.

    We’re probably not going to hit that, judging by what the European Union, United States and China have committed so far.

    Unless all the other countries really go overboard, we’re probably not going to be on that two degree goal.

    Environmentalists are very upset. Some in the U.S. aren’t quite as upset, perhaps in the energy industry or in the Republican Party, which has opposed some of President Obama’s cuts.

    But that is the goal. We won’t reach it this time, but every five years or so, they’re going to have a plan where they let countries raise their commitments to a higher level, so that they can eventually reach that goal.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right.

    William Mauldin of The Wall Street Journal joining us via Skype from Cusco, Peru, thanks so much.

    WILLIAM MAULDIN: Thank you.

    The post Climate talks in Lima: What did the global community actually agree on? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    German Court Bans Uber Service Nationwide

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: It’s both the darling of Wall Street and the bane of local regulators across the country and around the world.

    Uber is the on-demand car-sharing service which faces legal challenges in Portland, Oregon, while it is banned from operating in some cities entirely.

    Acknowledging the competition, New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., are trying to fight back with their own cab apps.

    At the same time, Uber is valued at $41.2 billion, easily outpacing every other private startup. It’s worth more than publicly traded companies like Delta Air Lines, Charles Schwab, or Kraft Foods.

    Joining us now to discuss the Uber boom is Liz Gannes, a senior editor at Re/code from San Francisco.

    Thanks for joining us.

    LIZ GANNES: Sure.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, so the most recent problem and perhaps the worst problem that Uber has faced was a recent situation in India, where a passenger says the Uber driver turned off the meter, took her someplace else, and raped her.

    I mean, while this is a technology that is disruptive and it’s a software company in some senses, really, the core of it is a level of trust and security that a user has to have that they’re safe when they’re in the car.

    So, how does this company deal with that challenge?

    LIZ GANNES: Well, Uber needs to step up its background checks.

    And, in India, it doesn’t look like the local systems were that great to — to authorize this particular driver.

    But that’s an issue all over the world, because, as you say, I mean, this is an app on your phone, but it’s an app that connects you as a passenger in — putting yourself in a car out in the real world.

    So, you really need to trust that that is a situation that you will be safe in.

    Compared to traditional taxis, though, there is a level above and beyond once you’re in the car and once someone is in the system.

    I think the issue leading up to this is the background checks.

    Once you’re driver or a passenger on Uber, at the end of every ride, you rate the other one on a scale of one to five stars.

    And if you don’t get much below five stars, you’re not really welcome in the system any longer.

    So, that is an improvement, I think, on traditional taxis, but it’s — it doesn’t get — doesn’t get the bad guys out from the beginning.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Mm-hmm. So, while we have said that it is banned in some cities, it is working in like 250 cities.

    And the company’s modus operandi seems to be that they ask forgiveness more than permission.

    They go into a market, and then that’s why we’re seeing some of these legal tussles.

    LIZ GANNES: That’s why they’re growing so fast.

    I mean, I cover fast-growing technology companies. That is specifically my beat.

    And we have never seen anything like Uber come out like this.

    The company is five years old, and they’re in 250 cities, and there’s no way that they would be that big if they’d gone around and asked regulators and incumbents if it was OK if they joined as well.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, let’s talk a — part of the — part of the reason that we’re talking about this company is its valuation, right?

    It’s hard for someone at home to wrap their heads around the fact that this company is worth more than an entire airline.

    What do investors see in it, beyond just the car-sharing that we’re talking about today?

    LIZ GANNES: Investors are hopeful that Uber, because it is so good at connecting someone who has a need to get around town and a car that is already nearby, will be good at extending that kind of logistics to all sorts of other things, for instance, getting you your groceries or your online shopping purchases within an hour, perhaps.

    That is not something that is Uber is doing as its main business today, though it is doing a lot of experiments around that.

    But that idea of kind of instant gratification that is powered by smartphones, both on the part of consumers, but maybe even more importantly drivers, is this big technological opportunity.

    And versus a lot of these companies, especially Internet companies, Uber has a significant amount of revenue.

    They don’t — they’re private, so they don’t disclose it. But it’s up in the billions, for sure.

    And so this is a company that is actually making money that wouldn’t be going out to Wall Street, if it ever does go public — which we expect it would do — that wouldn’t go out saying, we will figure out the business model later.

    It’s — the business model is already encoded to what — into what they do.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Liz Gannes of Re/code joining us from San Francisco, thanks so much.

    LIZ GANNES: Sure. Thank you.

    The post Legal challenges cause woes for Wall Street darling Uber appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Police are responding after at least one gunman reportedly took hostages at a cafe in Sydney on Monday morning.

    The “armed incident” is ongoing at a Lindt cafe in the city’s central business district, Reuters reported.

    A black flag with Arabic script in white was displayed in the cafe window, according to multiple media reports.

    Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a press conference that it was unclear whether the attack was politically motivated, but said “there are some indications that it could be.”

    Abbott urged Australians to go about their daily lives as the police respond to the “unfolding situation.”

    “Australia is a peaceful, open and generous society. Nothing should ever change that, and that’s why I would urge all Australians today to go about their business as usual,” he said.

    Watch live coverage of the Sydney siege from the BBC in the player above.

    The post Reports: Hostage situation unfolding in Sydney cafe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Sony is threatening legal action against any news organizations that publish details released in a massive data hack. Original photo, which has been cropped, by Flickr user bachmont

    Sony is threatening legal action against any news organizations that publish details released in a massive data hack. Original photo, which has been cropped, by Flickr user bachmont

    WASHINGTON — A lawyer representing Sony Pictures Entertainment is warning news organizations not to publish details of company files leaked by hackers in one of the largest digital breaches ever against an American company.

    The Sony materials include studio financial records, employment files and what already has been revealed as salacious gossip by Hollywood executives about President Barack Obama and some of the industry’s big stars and upcoming films.

    Attorney David Boies, a prominent lawyer hired by the company, demanded Sunday that Sony’s “stolen information” — publicly available on the Internet by the gigabytes — should be returned or destroyed immediately because it contains privileged, private information. Boies said the studio could sue for damages or financial losses related to Sony’s intellectual property or trade secrets.

    Sony “does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading or making any use of the stolen information, and to request your cooperation in destroying the stolen information,” according to one letter sent to the Hollywood Reporter newspaper and obtained by the website Gawker, which also received a letter.

    Boies hinted at legal action if organizations “used or disseminated” the material “in any manner.” The New York Times also received a letter, the newspaper reported Sunday.

    Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet said on the newspaper’s website Monday that it was a “disservice” to pretend the Sony documents weren’t revealing and public. But he nonetheless said their newsworthiness didn’t rise to the level of the Pentagon Papers or WikiLeaks affairs. Both resulted in disclosures of classified documents about U.S. government activity.

    Boies did not immediately return emails requesting comment Monday.

    Other highly sensitive material from the Sony hacking is being leaked almost daily, including exchanges between Oscar-winning producer Scott Rudin and Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal that contained a frank assessment of Angelina Jolie’s talent and racially offensive jokes about Obama’s presumed taste in movies.

    The leaks also included an early version of the screenplay for the new James Bond movie “SPECTRE.” The producers at Britain’s EON productions said Saturday they are concerned that third parties who received the screenplay might seek to publish it, and they warned the material is subject to copyright protection around the world.

    Associated Press writer Danica Kirka contributed to this report from London.

    The post Sony warns news organizations not to publish details unveiled in hack appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    12DaysBanner_FinalTo show our appreciation for our audience, PBS NewsHour will be unveiling 12 gifts over the next 12 days. Check back here each day, from Dec. 8-19, for a new gift that you can easily download or print out right from our site. Each day’s gift will also be posted on our Facebook page.

    Share photos of yourself, your family and your friends enjoying the gifts on social media using the hashtag #12DaysofNewsHour. Who knows, your photo might be selected to be shown on air during on of our evening broadcasts!

    Dec. 8: First up, the first longplay 4K video of a crackling fireplace on Youtube. Despite its realism, our 4K video doesn’t actually generate heat, so it won’t dry your mittens. But it will give you cred if you hook it up at your holiday office party.

    Dec. 9: Snowed-in? Curl up by the fire and fight-off cabin fever while creating your very own NewsHour logo cross stitch. The pattern we’ve provided was created by former NewsHour staffer Justin Myers. Make one yourself and share a picture of it on social media using #12DaysofNewsHour.

    Dec. 10: The holidays are a busy time of year. But don’t be that guy who brings store-bought baked goods to your holiday party. Instead bake these! From a recipe enjoyed by our very own Judy Woodruff.

    Dec. 11: While there is no way to prevent the disappointment of those nearest and dearest to you when they call and you are not there to answer the phone, their feelings of disappointment may be assuaged ever so slightly by this unexpected and delightful voicemail greeting from Gwen and Judy.

    Dec. 12: Happy Friday! Not only have you made it to the end of another work week, you’ve arrived at Day 5 of our 12 Days of NewsHour. We hope today’s gift will keep you busy in the kitchen all weekend and satisfy your sweet tooth all week long.

    Dec. 13: Looking for a gift that is both personal and economical? Look no further. Use this stencil of the PBS NewsHour logo to create custom t-shirts, tote bags and more for everyone on your holiday shopping list.

    Dec. 14: What’s better than a Sunday crossword puzzle? A NewsHour-themed Sunday crossword puzzle. We hope you’ll find some time this Sunday to kick back and solve this 15-clue puzzle, perhaps while tuning in to NewsHour Weekend.

    Dec. 15: Imagine reliving that exciting moment when PBS NewsHour’s nightly broadcast begins to play on your television, computer or mobile screen every time the phone rings. Now you can.

    Dec. 16:

    Dec. 17:

    Dec. 18:

    Dec. 19:

    The post Celebrate 12 days of NewsHour with 12 unique gifts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Listen to Alison Powell read her poem “The Fields” from her new collection, “On the Desire to Levitate.”

    The Fields

    A boy is raised up in the fields.
    He knows his hard feet in the husks.
    He knows his mother, her bottles and naps.

    Knows his brother’s war dreams, is afraid
    to sleep next to him. His father has a way
    with the jitterbug and a whipping switch.

    There are kindnesses: the giblet-
    thick dressing of his grandmother,
    the pictures of Venice in his schoolbook—

    the gilded water. How the fathers
    look in their Sunday best and the prayers,
    like milk, around him.

    One spring day the great god of his dreams
    descends and, exploding, fills
    the new tar streets with rainwater.

    He inches out from under the table
    where he has been reading for weeks;
    he pushes out into the storm.

    All around him are the old lives of leaves.
    Oak tree sticks made lean-tos
    without being asked, school is nowhere in sight.

    Though there’s water-weight to his knees,
    he pokes on toe into the gutter. Here
    he knows there is desperation, devotion, hard

    loss. He opens his arms to the yelping sky
    and cries back Oh! Great harbor, I am
    your tin ship!
    before his mother, weak

    in her yellow slip, yanks him inside.

    Alison Powell

    On the Desire to Levitate,” published in March 2014, is Alison Powell‘s debut collection of poetry. Powell’s poetry has also appeared in Boston Review, Guernica, AGNI and Crazyhorse and in Best New Poets 2006 and The Hecht Prize Anthology, 2005-2009. Powell completed her doctorate in English at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 2014 and received her MFA in Poetry from Indiana University in 2005. She is an assistant professor of poetry at Oakland University in Michigan.

    “The Fields” was excerpted from the book “On the Desire to Levitate” by Alison Powell. Copyright © 2014 by Alison Powell. Reprinted courtesy Ohio University Press.

    The post Weekly Poem: Alison Powell reads ‘The Fields’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Flickr user Steven Depolo

    The holidays can be a time for explotmulticultural celebrations in the classroom, says educator Syd Golston. Photo by Flickr user Steven Depolo

    Editor’s note: During the holidays, teachers often grapple with finding ways to educate students on all types of traditions. Syd Golston, a former president of the National Council for the Social Studies, discusses how educators can approach the issue.

    It’s called “the December Dilemma.” As the winter holidays approach, schools are aware that the issue of separating church and state is not just something students encounter in social studies classes, but a real and present concern for teachers and administrators. Is it OK to decorate the school and the classroom for Christmas? What kinds of concerts and plays are constitutional in a public school?

    teachersloungeAccording to excellent work by the First Amendment Center and the Anti-Defamation League, the guiding principle is that no doctrinal religious belief or non-belief can be promoted by a public school and its employees, but none can be disparaged either. Over time, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed this principle, but the decisions can be hazy around the edges. There must be a clear educational purpose, not a religious one, to holiday celebrations; that is surely clear when a high school choir sings Handel or an art class studies Renaissance nativity paintings, but what about the Christmas tree?

    In Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union (1989), a court ruled that Christmas trees have the standing of cultural icons and not religious practices. And in Florey v. Sioux Falls School District (1980), the court wrote:

     “The First Amendment does not forbid all mention of religion in public schools; it is the advancement or inhibition of religion that is prohibited. … Hence, the study of religion is not forbidden “when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education.” … We view the term “study” to include more than mere classroom instruction; public performance may be a legitimate part of secular study. This does not mean, of course, that religious ceremonies can be performed in the public schools under the guise of “study.” It does mean, however, that when the primary purpose served by a given school activity is secular, that activity is not made unconstitutional by the inclusion of some religious content.”

    Cheryl Frazin, the southwest civil rights counsel of the Anti-Defamation League, says that she often hears two kinds of complaints: religious-based practices or parties in classrooms and all-school celebrations. Still, many schools have avoided the advancement of any certain religion by approaching it as an inclusive study of many holidays at once, most of which occur in or near the winter solstice anyway: the Jewish Chanukah, Hindu Diwali, Buddhist Tet, Kwanzaa, the Muslim Bayram (which occurs later in spring). Concerts include music that isn’t tied to holidays at all and multicultural selections from around the world. Tree in the classroom: yes. Crèche beneath it: no.

    The worst idea is to avoid controversy by failing to teach about religion, both at holiday times and throughout the school year. It is not just permissible, but imperative in our global society to understand the religious history and practice of world religions; it’s often cited that Americans suffer from a woeful ignorance of the difference between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims. Students in the early grades should have an age-appropriate introduction to world religions, which is particularly appropriate in December. Secondary students would benefit from thoughtful inquiry of the role that many religious traditions and holidays play in the world’s regions, historically and currently.

    In my own experience, we are getting better at separation of church and state in schools. My son John’s sixth-grade teacher assigned students essays on “The True Meaning of Christmas to Me” in 1985. Last week, I attended John’s son’s band concert, where the fifth and sixth-graders played a couple of Christmas carols, a Beatles song and the finale of the 1812 Overture.

    What does your school do about the December Dilemma? What are your thoughts?

    For more, visit the First Amendment Center’s short and clear set of directives for schools. More extensive is this guide from the Anti-Defamation League.

    Syd Golston is a former president of the National Council for the Social Studies.

    The post How ‘Christmas’ should teachers get? A guide for navigating the ‘December Dilemma’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Imagine reliving that exciting moment when PBS NewsHour’s nightly broadcast begins to play on your television, computer or mobile screen every time the phone rings. Now you can.

    As with Gwen and Judy’s voicemail message from Day 4, you can download the audio file above as an MP3. Or you can download the ringtone specific files and follow these instructions:

    For an iPhone, download the m4r file and follow these instructions from Huffington Post and start at step 8.

    For an Android phone, follow these instructions.

    1) Email yourself the m4a file from this link.

    2) Open the email and save the attachment.

    3) Go to Settings.

    4) Click on Device.

    5) Click on Sound.

    6) Click Add.

    7) Scroll to find the newshour-ringtone-android.m4a file

    Set it as your universal ringtone or save it for when your favorite friends and family members call.

    And don’t forget to fill them in on all the gifts we’ve already unveiled. In addition to the voicemail message from Gwen and Judy, be sure to take advantage of the 4k fireplace video, the cross-stitch pattern, and Judy’s recipe for Georgia Cheese Biscuits along with some other favorite recipes contributed by various members of the NewsHour staff. And in case you thought we took the weekend off, check out Saturday’s stencil of the NewsHour logo and Sunday’s crossword puzzle.

    How are you putting all these gifts to use? Tell us on social media using #12DaysofNewsHour.

    The post 12 Days of NewsHour: NewsHour ringtone appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Updated Dec. 15 at 5:47 p.m. EST

    The main suspect in a Philadelphia area shooting spree that left six dead is on the loose, the Associated Press reports.

    The suspect, identified as Bradley William Stone, broke into the Harleysville, Pennsylvania apartment of his recently engaged ex-wife Nicole Stone Monday morning around 4 a.m., investigators said, before fatally shooting her and taking their two children with him.

    Stone, a former Marine, proceeded to kill five others, all of whom had a “familial relationship” to him, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said. The two children were reported to be safe.

    Police originally surrounded a Souderton, Pennsylvania home, where two of Stone’s victims were found, for several hours believing Stone to be barricaded inside. Authorities are now reportedly searching Stone’s hometown of Pennsburg.

    A man suspected of killing five people in a Philadelphia area shooting spree Monday is believed to have been traced to a house where police are currently responding.

    The Associated Press and WPVI-TV Philadelphia are reporting that SWAT teams are surrounding a home in Souderton, Pennsylvania, where police say the suspect has barricaded himself. The house, according to police, is where two of the victims were shot dead.

    Reports say that the first shooting was reported in the Lower Salford township in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania at 3:55 a.m. EST, where a woman was found shot dead. A second shooting, where two more were found killed, was called in at 4:25 a.m. EST. According to WPVI, all victims were shot at a close range.

    The post Update: Suspect in Philadelphia area shooting spree identified and on the loose appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Denmark submitted a claim to the North Pole to the United Nations on Monday, asserting that the underwater Lomonosov Ridge connects to Greenland, its protected territory and qualifies the European nation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Courtesy NOAA

    Denmark submitted a claim to the North Pole to the United Nations on Monday, asserting that the underwater Lomonosov Ridge connects to Greenland, its protected territory. Courtesy NOAA

    Denmark has claimed the North Pole. On Monday, the European nation delivered an official claim to a United Nations council in New York, part of a the race to own the Arctic that includes Norway, Canada and Russia.

    Five nations including Denmark, the U.S., Canada, Russia and Norway are vying for claim over the North Pole. At present, all five countries’ claims to the Arctic Circle end approximately 200 nautical miles off their shorelines. These countries have been diligently mapping the ocean floor over the past decade to solidify their claims to the North Pole.

    Each country must submit a claim to the Arctic within ten years of ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The United Nations considers claims based on the extent of the continental shelf from the nation’s coast.

    But early data suggests that Greenland, a Danish autonomous territory, may give Denmark the strongest claim to the North Pole. A study found that Lomonosov Ridge, a 1,118 mile-long underwater mountain range that extends off the coast of Canada to the waters above eastern Siberia, is connected to Greenland. This would make approximately 347,492 square miles of ocean off the coast of Greenland Danish territory.

    “The submission of our claim to the continental shelf north of Greenland is a historic and important milestone for the Kingdom of Denmark. The objective of this huge project is to define the outer limits of our continental shelf and thereby – ultimately – of the Kingdom of Denmark. It has been a process characterised by the very good cooperation not only between authorities within the Kingdom of Denmark but also with our Arctic neighbours,” Martin Lidegaard, the Danish minister for foreign affairs, said in a statement.

    Denmark has submitted claims over five areas through the Arctic since ratifying the convention in 2004.

    The claim would give Denmark control of potential oil and natural gas resources below the Arctic. A U.S. Geological Survey study in 2008 found that potentially 90 billion barrels of oil and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids are hiding under the unclaimed Arctic.

    Last December, Canadian foreign affairs minister John Baird announced that Canada would submit a claim to the extended sea shelf off its coast. In 2007, Russia sparked international controversy by staking a flag in the sea floor under the North Pole.

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    DEATH OF A PRESIDENT Geroge Washington monitor

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: George Washington’s final hours and the medical mystery that continues to surround the death of our first president.

    This weekend marked the 215th anniversary of his passing. We posted an essay online that garnered a lot of interest about that history.

    Jeff is back with our conversation.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In December 1799, George Washington was about two-and-a-half years into his retirement and was still very actively managing his estate at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

    In the early morning hours of the 13th, following a day on horseback in freezing rain and snow, he woke up with pain and shortness of breath. By 10:00 that night, he was dead.

    We know a lot about what happened in those hours from an account written by Washington’s chief aide, from notes by his doctors, and from later detective work by medical researchers.

    Dr. Howard Markel is the director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. He wrote the piece on our Web site and joins us now.

    So, Dr. Markel, a seemingly healthy George Washington wakes up in the middle of the night with shortness of breath. What happens then?

    DR. HOWARD MARKEL, University of Michigan: Well, first, you know, he was out overseeing his estate and developed a sore throat and some hoarseness.

    But when he woke up at 2:00 in the morning, he simply couldn’t breathe. His throat was so inflamed, he couldn’t get air in. And, of course, Martha, his wife, was very concerned. And so she sent out for his aide-de-camp, Colonel Tobias Lear, who then sent out for some doctors and a bloodletter.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes, now, bloodletting is the chief kind of treatment, right? Describe — a number of doctors came in and what did they do, what kind of treatment?

    DR. HOWARD MARKEL: Well, it was a major modality.

    Back then, humoral physiology was the key to medicine. There were four body humors, black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood. And when you had an inflammation — and his throat was so inflamed, he couldn’t get air through it — they thought that if you removed blood, you would reduce the inflammation.

    So, all told, his doctors took out about 80 ounces of blood over 12 hours, which is about 40 percent of an adult’s blood volume.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Forty percent. So is it possible or likely that what they did made his situation worse?

    DR. HOWARD MARKEL: Well, they certainly didn’t help him.

    You know, other treatments they gave him during that period were enemas and drugs to make him vomit and something called blisters, where they applied Spanish fly onto his throat, which raises a painful blister, again to remove these terrible humors that are caution the inflammation.

    But if the disease itself didn’t get George Washington, the doctors certainly did.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, speaking of that, do we know, really, in the end, what did kill him?

    DR. HOWARD MARKEL: This has been argued since about two minutes after George Washington died.

    And doctors love to argue about what the greats from the past history have died of. And it’s a great argument because you can never really prove it, so the argument goes on and on and on.

    But there’s been many different diagnoses, including peritonsillar abscess, and pneumonia, and even epiglottitis, an infection of the epiglottis at the back of the throat from a bacterium so severe that it basically strangles you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It is fascinating, as you write, to go back through the detective work from that moment and then on, even close to our own time.

    What would have happened today, when you compare what happened back then to a scenario today?

    DR. HOWARD MARKEL: Well, regardless of the cause of this blockage of the back of his throat, viral, bacterial, what you have, we would have intubated him. We would have inserted a tube through that blockage to allow him to breathe. And if that didn’t work, he would have had a tracheotomy, and that would have completely bypassed the blockage.

    And, hopefully, with some I.V. fluids, adding fluid to him, as opposed to drawing it off, that might have gotten him through the night and the day.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It is also, of course, the never-ending interest in the man himself. And as you read the account of the time, you sort of see his character coming through up to the very end.

    DR. HOWARD MARKEL: He was ever the gentleman.

    And General Washington, in extremis, took the time to thank each and every doctor personally for the care they gave him. So, he was a remarkable man.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And you — just finally, what makes this so fascinating or interesting for you?

    DR. HOWARD MARKEL: Well, first, it’s George Washington, and so of all the founding fathers, he seems to be one of the foundingest. He was the first president of the United States and the father of our country.

    But, also, that such a great man was also all too human, and death came to him in a rather gruesome way is a fascinating story to this historian.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Dr. Howard Markel of the University of Michigan, thanks so much.

    DR. HOWARD MARKEL: Thank you.

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    TECH TRENDS monitor

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s the time of the year when many people buy the latest gadgets for holiday gifts. But for all the convenience and the cool features, plenty of red flags and worries have been raised about what’s happening with all the data they collect.

    We have a look ahead at where this is heading in the marketplace.

    Hari Sreenivasan is in our New York studios with the conversation.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: As 2014 comes to a close, we’re going to take a moment to focus on some emerging trends in the tech world that you can expect to hear more about in the next year. They range from an expanding universe of wearable clothes and accessories that include electronics and technologies, to wireless networks at home that can monitor your personal health, to possibly smarter drones.

    We didn’t say you would necessarily like all of them. But we did want to take a look ahead.

    And for that we get the views tonight for Amy Webb, an entrepreneur, writer and digital strategist whose annual report of emerging trends is widely watched in this sector.

    So I mentioned wearables. Six months ago, a year ago, when I bought this watch that monitors my heart rate and my sweat and how many steps I take, I was pretty nerdy and I was kind of a small group of people that quantified their selves.

    But now, in the Christmas holiday season, you see the flyers, the Fitbit, and Force and Flex, and all the other ones that are out there, you see it at a lot more gyms. Are wearables beyond the nerd world into the mainstream yet?

    AMY WEBB, Webbmedia Group: Sure.

    Well, one of the things that happened in 2014 is that wearables jumped from being watches and Fitbits and in some cases glasses that you could wear to devices that service all different types of purposes.

    And, in fact, we’re tracking about 290 different wearables right now. One of the neat things that we’re seeing going to the next year are wearables specifically designed for children. So these are watches and different devices that parents can give to their children and those devices do different things.

    So, in some circumstances, they track, using geolocation, where children are. And that is obviously for safety purposes. There are some other devices that parents can outfit their children with to help them remember to do their homework. But the interesting thing with wearable devices is that they are still connected to something else. So it’s not possible to really wear one of these wearable devices without it connecting to your mobile phone.

    And because it connects to your mobile phone, that means you are a part of a bigger network, and the data is living somewhere else. So when you wear a wearable device, you are part of this network. And as a result, there are some concerns about privacy and security and trust.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What happens to that information and who controls it? I’m imagining that there are companies and technologies coming to fill that niche as well to try to protect that information for you.

    AMY WEBB: Sure.

    Well, one of the things that happened late this year, 2014, is that a court of law used Fitbit data in a court case. And it was discovered that Fitbit has been selling its data to third parties without the knowledge of the people wearing the device. Now, they weren’t breaking any explicit terms of service. One of the things is that when we purchase these wearable devices and all of this exciting new technology, very few people think about what happens on the other end of that tech.

    And, you know, in the case of Fitbit, it turns out that there was another company that was looking at our data, looking at where we were and how we were using the device. And Fitbit is certainly not the only player in this space doing that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So I have seen now there are cell phones with strong encryption. Is there going to be e-mail with stronger encryption and even social networks that help protect what it is that I share and who I share it with?

    AMY WEBB: So there is a device coming out called the Blackphone which launched this past summer, but it launched in very small release, and it will be much more available going into next year.

    The Blackphone is interesting because it encrypts everything. And if you are calling another person with a Blackphone, essentially, that entire conversation is untraceable. So people who are looking in — and that could change from law enforcement to run-of-the-mill hackers — they can tell that a phone call was made, but they can’t really easily pinpoint where the call was made or to whom.

    And it doesn’t just go for phone calls. It also goes for mail, which is also encrypted. Now, those in cyber-security enforcement will tell you that the best way to not be discovered is to not use anything that plugs into a wall. But these phones are certainly a harbinger of what’s to come.

    In addition to the phones, we’re seeing a big trend in ephemeral content. So, this is content that you can post either as yourself anonymously. And that content disappears. So there are some networks that gained prominence this year, Whisper, Secret, these are apps that you can use on your mobile phone, post secrets or gossip about other people, and then that content is either not traced back to you or in some cases it might go away.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: One of the more searched-for terms this holiday season is drones. And it’s not just 10-year-old boys or 14-year-old boys that are interested.

    We’re also seeing the use of drones happening more and more in the commercial space, slowly, as the permits come out. Tell us about intelligent drone. What is an intelligent drone vs. one we go and buy at the mall?

    AMY WEBB: So, you know, drones themselves are — you know, they’re mechanical devices. They’re little things that you can fly. There are actually drones that are non-flying machines. They are drones that look like bugs, drones that look like little vehicles that you can sort of control on the ground.

    And in the past, it’s always required 100 percent human intervention. So a human has to control all of the movements. The software, the processes that power decision-making and allow machines and computers to sort of think for themselves — and we call that artificial intelligence and machine learning — in that space, there have been some pretty significant advancements over the past 12 to 18 months.

    And when you marry that technology with our mechanical technologies — so, that would be the drones — what we get are autonomous vehicles that are not only able to fly or to sort of move around on the ground, but can start making inferences and decisions. And if you couple that with camera technology, oftentimes, drones are outfitted with cameras.

    And one of the really interesting things that has happened over the past few years is that the algorithms that power image recognition have gotten incredibly strong and incredibly capable, so that they don’t just recognize a face. But if that person gains weight or loses weight, changes their hair color, puts in colored contacts, the camera is still able to lock on to that person’s face and recognize them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Yes. That’s a lot to think about.


    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Amy Webb, thanks so much for joining us.

    AMY WEBB: Thanks, Hari.

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    GUNS IN AMERICA monitor us map flag

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: the change in public attitudes and state laws when it comes to gun rights and restrictions.

    It’s long been one of the most divisive issues in America. And now several families who lost loved ones in Newtown Connecticut are suing the gunmaker. The lawsuit was filed a day after the second anniversary of the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The gunman, Adam Lanza, had already killed his mother, and ultimately shot himself to death as well.

    Now families of 10 of the victims are suing the manufacturer, distributor and seller of the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle that Lanza used. The suit alleges negligence and wrongful death, and argues that the rifle shouldn’t have been available to civilians because it’s a military weapon.

    Nicole Hockley’s six-year-old son, Dylan, died in the Sandy Hook shooting. She’s now one of the plaintiffs, and spoke to PBS NewsHour Weekend.

    NICOLE HOCKLEY, Mother of Newtown Victim: Dylan was shot five times. So if we had a 10-magazine, 10-bullet limit, you know, instead of a 30, for all I know, Dylan could be alive today.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: After Newtown, the state of Connecticut did adopt some of the most restrictive gun policies in the nation. They include a ban on large-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds, background checks for all gun and ammunition purchases, and a prohibition on scores of assault-style weapons.

    Overall, a San Francisco group, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, says 37 states have passed nearly a hundred new gun laws since 2012. And some 200 lawmakers from all 50 states have formed an alliance against gun violence.

    But gun rights advocates, including Connecticut State Representative Rob Sampson, argue that even limiting magazine capacity will not prevent tragedies like Newtown.

    ROB SAMPSON (R), Connecticut State Representative: You can change a magazine in literally one second. If I was to shoot you and say, I’m about to shoot you, and I have to change magazines first, boom, I’m done, you would never get to me in time. You wouldn’t even try.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That sort of opposition has blocked congressional action on new gun legislation. And the president’s nominee for U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has been caught up in the debate for arguing gun violence is a serious public health issue.

    For more on all this, we turn to Carroll Doherty. He’s director of political research at the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. And Joseph de Avila, who has been reporting on this and related stories for The Wall Street Journal.

    And we welcome both of you.

    Joe de Avila, why are these families suing?

    JOSEPH DE AVILA, The Wall Street Journal: Well, they’re suing. They sued over this — the past weekend.

    And what they’re trying to do is basically a lot of them are asking for their day in court. What has happened is that there was a law passed in 2005 that basically has not allowed any lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

    There is one exception. There is — one of these exceptions is negligent entrustment. So what essentially they’re arguing is that these — lawsuit, in order for it to go forward, they’re saying that the manufacturer of the gun and the distributor and also the store that sold this gun are basically selling a weapon that is unfit for civilian use.

    And negligent entrustment, to give you an example, it kind of works in a way where one party gives a product to another party and trusts that product with that additional party. And if that other party commits harm to a third party, that is basically what happens under negligent entrustment.

    So this is — this act is essentially saying this is what happened here. And basically they would want to have their day in court because they feel that this weapon, this AR-15, is not fit for civilians to use.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And their lawyers are arguing they — they think they have a good case?

    JOSEPH DE AVILA: They think they have a good case.

    It really hasn’t been tested at this level before, so it’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out. It’s really going to be up to a judge to determine whether a manufacturer putting a gun into the marketplace to be purchased by the general public, whether that is included in negligent entrustment. And that’s going to have to be determined by a judge.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Carroll Doherty, you have been look at what has happened to public opinion on guns.

    CARROLL DOHERTY, Director of Political Research, Pew Research Center: Right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What have you seen since Newtown?

    CARROLL DOHERTY: Well, you saw a rise in support for gun control in the immediate weeks after Newtown. And some of that has been reversed.

    And, actually, for the first time in our polling on this broad measure of support for gun control vs. gun rights, for the first time, you see significantly more, 52 percent favoring gun rights, than gun control, 46 percent.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Are you able to drill down a little deeper and determine why that is?

    CARROLL DOHERTY: Well, deep partisan gaps remain.

    But one of the interesting things is the regional shift. In the Northeast, there is still strong support and unwavering support for gun control. In the South and the Midwest in particular, its support has dropped.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But is it — is it — I mean, it’s counterintuitive, in a way…


    JUDY WOODRUFF: … because one thinks, after Newtown, after the shooting of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, other highly publicized school shootings, despite all that?


    Well, you still see support for individual measures, these specific measures like background — tougher background checks, things like that, large support. This is the overall climate, though, and it’s quite a bit different than it was in the 1990s, when — almost 2-1 support for gun control after, say, the Columbine shooting.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You know, Joe de Avila, we — we mentioned a little while ago that the state of Connecticut passed some new restrictive gun laws.

    What has happened in other states, though, in the two years since the shooting there at the school?

    JOSEPH DE AVILA: Well, there’s been quite a few other states that have also strengthened their gun laws. Some 37 states have done something to improve the gun laws and some of the restrictions in those states.

    So, Connecticut is one example. They passed universal background checks. They expanded their ban on what they call an assault rifle. They have also banned the sale of large-capacity magazines. New York state did some similar measures, as well as Colorado.

    And you see in other states, Alabama, for example, where some of the gun laws are — have been loosened there. In Alabama, they have made it easier to get a concealed-carry permit. And in Georgia, for example, there, you are now able to take a gun into a bar or into a church or into a school.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what about the role of organizations like the National Rifle Association, the NRA, other of these national gun rights groups? What role have they played in seeing these laws get changed?

    JOSEPH DE AVILA: Well, they have been lobbying for laws such as the ones where — in some of these states where they have loosened some of the regulations. They have definitely been in favor of those types of measures to make it easier for some people to either own a weapon or in some of the areas where they can carry a weapon.

    And certainly in some of these states that have passed stricter gun laws, they have definitely been out there lobbying against these specific measures.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Carroll Doherty, when you talk to folks about why they have different views on guns and whether the laws should be stricter or looser, do they give reasons of why their views are changing? What do they say?

    CARROLL DOHERTY: Well, I mean, when we asked about the Senate bill, the failed Senate bill last year — or I guess in 2013 — and we asked people who — you know, their reactions afterward, you know, some people who said that they supported background checks generally were a little wary of legislation.

    They are worried about big government, worried about slippery slope to further control, things like that. I mean, even the objectives that get support in principle, there is a concern about new national legislation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Joe de Avila, the — we see most of the attention, though, is on the states. It’s moved away from Congress.

    JOSEPH DE AVILA: Right, because they haven’t had any luck at the federal level.

    And that’s one of the things that some of the families have mentioned why they wanted to bring this lawsuit in Connecticut, some of the Sandy Hook families, because they have had no success at the federal level, so they thought they would try it in the courts.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we are going to leave it there.

    Joseph de Avila of The Wall Street Journal and Carroll Doherty the Pew Research Center, we thank you.

    CARROLL DOHERTY: Thank you.

    JOSEPH DE AVILA: Thank you.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: For the first time in two decades, countries around the world agreed in principle this weekend to reduce their rate of greenhouse gas emissions. The accord reached in Peru breaks a long impasse and lays the groundwork for a crucial meeting next year.

    But nations have until next spring to spell out specific plans and very few ground rules have been set. Back in Peru, the conference wrapped up, but there’s now anger over what happened to an historic site in that host country, leaving potentially permanent damage.

    Jeffrey Brown was in Peru and just returned with this report.

    JEFFREY BROWN: A giant picture, called a geoglyph, of a hummingbird etched in stone and sand by ancient Peruvian peoples, it is a small part of the vast complex called the Nazca Lines, a World Heritage site that has entranced and mystified people into our own time.
    But according to Peruvian officials, this footage shot by a drone and provided to the PBS NewsHour shows something more, evidence of expense extensive damage to the site that could now become used in a legal action.

    MAN: You see in light here, over there.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The story began a week ago when, before dawn, 20 members of the environmental group Greenpeace trekked to the site, which is strictly off-limits to visitors.

    In cloth letters, they spelled out “Time for change, the future is renewable, Greenpeace.” It was a message aimed 260 miles away at the climate conference in Lima, where leaders from 196 nations were negotiating over limits to carbon emissions.

    MAURO FERNANDEZ, Greenpeace Activist: From here, from the Nazca Lines, we’re sending a strong message to political leaders. And with this, we expect that they take action urgently to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It was bold, brash and public. Greenpeace shot and released its own video of the action, the kind of big statement the group has been known for in the past.

    Greenpeace also, for example, projected a message promoting solar energy on a mountain overlooking the world-famous Peruvian site of Machu Picchu. Greenpeace may have intended one message, but this quickly mushroomed into an international message, one that Peruvian authorities here took very seriously.

    LUIS JAIME CASTILLO, Deputy Minister of Culture, Peru: To have a group of people, irresponsible, childish, to lay out a message and completely lose respect for the law, and absolutely disregard for what they were actually damaging.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I was in Peru last week as this unfolded at another of the nation’s important archaeological sites, Chan Chan, where I spoke with Luis Jaime Castillo, vice minister of culture and himself an anthropologist.

    What was your reaction to the Greenpeace action?

    LUIS JAIME CASTILLO: Well, first, I think indignation, because this happened under circumstances that are completely unacceptable, then a little bit of sadness, because Peru has really prepared for this world summit on…

    JEFFREY BROWN: The climate change summit.

    Castillo told us that a delegation from Greenpeace had come to him with an apology, but it wasn’t enough.

    LUIS JAIME CASTILLO: To tell you the truth, I don’t care for that. I mean, I care for basically one point. These things who are damaged, they have to be returned to their original status. Some people have to face criminal charges, because that is unavoidable. And the process has already started.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The Nazca Lines have long been a source of wonder, but there remains much uncertainty about their origins and meanings. They consist of hundreds of pictures that are thought to have been created over a long period from 500 B.C. to 500 A.D.

    Seen best from above, they at one point famously inspired a theory of extraterrestrial origin, but scholars believe they may have had a ceremonial or religious function. They were drawn in a sense by removing a thin patina of dark rocks covering light sand. This is one of the driest regions in the world. The lack of water and winds helped preserve the lines for centuries. But they’re still quite fragile.

    LUIS JAIME CASTILLO: When you step on it, you simply break the patina and expose the bottom surface. How long does it take for the nature to lift again all that sand and take — and expose again and create the patina? Hundreds of years? Thousands of years? We really don’t know.

    JEFFREY BROWN: When archaeologists do visit, as they did last week to assess the damage, they wear special pads on their shoes to broadly distribute their weight.

    By contrast, photos taken by Peru’s Culture Ministry showed footprints and overturned rocks, allegedly by Greenpeace demonstrators. And the drone footage captures what the ministry says is other damage, the outline of what appears to be the letter C from the Greenpeace message, these horizontal lines that show where the message was laid out and in large paths where the activists walked in and out of the site.

    KUMI NAIDOO, Executive Director, Greenpeace: I apologize personally to the people of Peru and all those around the world who were offended by our actions. This is not who we are.

    JEFFREY BROWN: After arriving in Lima over the weekend to meet with Peruvian officials today, Greenpeace head Kumi Naidoo issued a video apology acknowledging the public relations fallout for his organization.

    KUMI NAIDOO: We must now commit our full attention to making amends. I am committed to explore all options to the best of our ability for repairing any damage.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Late this afternoon, though, Peruvian Vice Culture Minister Castillo told me by phone that Greenpeace had yet to provide a full list of the international group of participants, who are thought to have fled the country. He said Peru still plans to pursue criminal and civil cases to discourage future such actions.

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    DIVIDED WE STAND monitor capitol

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Joining us now to analyze this Congress, how it performed, and the emerging political risks are two familiar faces to us at the NewsHour. Todd Zwillich is the Washington correspondent for “The Takeaway” of Public Radio International and WNYC. And Amy Walter is national editor for The Cook Political Report.

    Welcome to you both.

    TODD ZWILLICH, The Takeaway, Public Radio International & WNYC: Hi, Judy.

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So let’s talk about where — as we watch what happened in this Congress over the last few days, Amy, the role of Harry Reid, the role of Nancy Pelosi, what does it say about what the role is going to be going forward? Pelosi has already been in the minority. Harry Reid is now going to be in the minority.

    AMY WALTER: That’s right.

    Well, it seemed to be a big divide between the pragmatists and the purists. And the pragmatists were the ones like Harry Reid and the White House saying, we have got to deal. It is not the best deal in the world. but it’s better than anything we’re going to get once we’re in the minority. So let’s just all agree to push this forward.

    The purists, which are in the Nancy Pelosi category and a lot of the liberals that you saw there with Elizabeth Warren say, it’s worth having a fight over an issue, like you saw the Wall Street bank issue about riders that were inserted at the last minute. And this is not a debate though for Democrats that is necessarily going to go on in the same say as it will for Republicans, because this is it for Democrats.

    They are now out of power. They are in the minority. This is the last best chance they could get for stuff they wanted to see in the next year.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Todd Zwillich, watching it up close, the Democrats have a strategy for how they operate in minority in both houses.

    TODD ZWILLICH: Well, I think Nancy Pelosi sent a very clear signal as to what her strategy is going to be. It’s true she is in the minority and John Boehner is the speaker still with an even big majority.

    But John Boehner, it has been proven time and time again — it was proven with the cromnibus bill that we called the omnibus plus the C.R.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Hate that word.


    TODD ZWILLICH: Oh, well, we all hate it, but there it is.

    It was proven that he very often will not have the votes to pass these bills with just Republicans. That means he has and will need Nancy Pelosi.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You are talking about McConnell. You are talking…


    TODD ZWILLICH: Speaker Boehner.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You are talking about Speaker Boehner.

    TODD ZWILLICH: Speaker Boehner, yes, over in the House.


    TODD ZWILLICH: Now, I don’t usually revert to sports metaphors, but I will use one.


    TODD ZWILLICH: Very often, John Boehner will have to make an end-run around the conservatives in his party and run down the sideline. And Nancy Pelosi showed that she can and will stick her foot out when he runs by and trip him if he doesn’t give her some concessions.

    Now, she lost that vote. But she was able to bring a lot of people with her. And she was able to really make it close. On the Senate side, Mitch McConnell is the new majority leader. He has 54 votes; 54 is not 60. He will need some Democrats. And Mitch McConnell has already lowered the expectations.

    He did it on the very night that he was reelected in Kentucky, to say, I can agree with the president. We can pass some things that we agree on. And the bar was really very low, a trade deal, corporate tax reform, which is worth a lot of money, but not exactly an issue that rattles the national cages for politics. So he knows he needs Democrats.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And so, Amy, Todd is making a good point. Yes, the Republicans now have the majority in the Senate, but they still don’t have the 60 votes you need to get pretty much whatever you want. What is their strategy? What does their approach have to be?

    AMY WALTER: Well, and this is where Mitch McConnell is in a similar predicament to where Harry Reid was in this last year, which is Mitch McConnell is looking forward to 2016. He has a lot of his senators up in 2016 in very blue states, just as Harry Reid this year had his senators up in very red states.

    So Mitch McConnell has that balancing act where he — yes, he wants to push in a conservative agenda. But he also wants to make sure that he protects his most vulnerable members who sit in blue states. And that was a lot of the tension that we saw on the Democratic side, right, where you had Democrats who tried to distance themselves from the president, never got a chance to take those votes because Harry Reid was trying to keep everybody together.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What does all this mean, Todd, in terms of what can actually get done? I mean, you have the presidential election kicking in. We’re going to start hearing announcements pretty soon. You are talking about Mitch McConnell. He has got a number of his members who are already running or about to announce they’re running.

    How does it affect what actually can get done?

    TODD ZWILLICH: Well, like I said, the bar is pretty low for legislative efforts, I think, over the next year-and-a-half and two years. I think everybody recognizes that.

    There is a lot of bipartisan support sort of in the center for a couple of trade deals, for corporate tax reform maybe. But that brings us back to Elizabeth Warren and her moves this past weekend, because I think that sends a very important message, not necessarily to Harry Reid and Senate Democrats. It sends a big message to the president, to Barack Obama.

    The dynamics of his negotiations, such as they are — and they have been few — with Congress have shifted. Now Harry Reid is out at the center of those negotiations. It’s Speaker Boehner, Mitch McConnell and the president. Elizabeth Warren has said through her actions, Mr. President, you make a deal on trade, you make a deal on a nominee, you let Republicans slip in erosions to Dodd-Frank into some bigger bill, you are going to deal with me. You may get it passed, because I can’t stop you, but I can make you pay for it politically and I can make the left of this party, the progressive and the liberals who are upset that this party has gotten cozy with Wall Street, I can make them very, very mad at you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, do we look at these divides that we’re watching now in both parties, Amy, getting bigger or what, a frantic effort to…


    AMY WALTER: Well, yes, so I think it’s really important to understand at least where the divides are.

    I think, on the Republican side, there are some serious policy differences that are significant and I think are going to continue to dog Republicans going into the 2016 presidential, especially in an issue like immigration.

    On the Democratic side, there is much more unity around policies. Procedure, they may have differences. So that’s number one. The second part, when we talk about the polarization of Congress and why it’s getting to be as bad as it is, there just are simply no moderates left.

    There are five Democrats in the House right now, five, who sit in a district that Barack Obama didn’t carry. When we talk about, how does John Boehner find allies, how does Mitch McConnell find allies, they’re gone. The other big piece of this too is, in more than 100 years, we have never had this many House members serving in the United States Senate, which is why the House is looking — I mean the Senate — I’m sorry — is looking a lot more like the House in terms of its behavior, the all or none, the not compromising, the not working sort of behind the scenes in a clubby way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Taking it to the brink.

    AMY WALTER: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Taking it to the brink.

    AMY WALTER: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And so that’s what we have to look forward to.

    TODD ZWILLICH: Well, I think a lot of that, Barack Obama is controversial. He’s controversial on the right. He’s got two more years. He still ties House Republicans especially, congressional Republicans, in knots.

    Look, they this know how to make deals. Their base, their constituency — constituency doesn’t want any deals with Barack Obama. That’s not going to change. And that’s going to pull both Speaker Boehner as he tries to deal with the reaction to immigration and Mitch McConnell as he tries to steer his party towards a successful run in 2016, it’s going to pull them to the right. It’s not easy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Todd Zwillich, Amy Walter, we thank you.

    AMY WALTER: Thanks, Judy.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. Senate was working over the weekend and still in session tonight, as Democrats hope to push through a slate of nominees.

    NewsHour political editor Lisa Desjardins reports that the final days of this Congress are exposing some telling divides in both parties and a glimpse of what’s ahead.

    LISA DESJARDINS: In-between. Right now, everything at the U.S. Capitol is in an awkward, but pivotal in-between state. The Capitol dome is under repair at the same time as the Senate and House chambers undergo a reconstruction of power.

    SEN. HARRY REID, Majority Leader: I didn’t write this bill. The Senate Democrats didn’t write this bill alone. It’s a compromise.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Senate Democrats in their last days in power are grappling with a rare public split. Leaders like Harry Reid and Barbara Mikulski are defending the compromise spending bill that passed this weekend.

    SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI, D-Md.: It’s a monumental achievement for showing how we can work together, we can govern, and we can get the job done.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The White House joined in too at a pivotal moment, saying the administration supports passage of the bill, but that the administration objects to the inclusion of ideological and special interest measures.

    That led to a very rare split.

    REP. NANCY PELOSI, Minority Leader: I’m enormously disappointed that the White House feels that the only way they can get a bill is to go along with this.

    LISA DESJARDINS: House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi wasn’t alone. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren also rallied the left, condemning the bill’s provisions that help banks.

    SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, D-Mass.: The American people didn’t send us here to work for Wall Street banks.

    LISA DESJARDINS: In the end, the more liberal voices lost. The bill passed.

    MAN: The yeas are 56. The nays are 40.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Meantime, the right saw its own fissure exposed again this weekend.

    SEN. TED CRUZ, R-Texas: If you believe President Obama’s amnesty is unconstitutional, vote yes.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, against the wishes of GOP leadership, forced a weekend vote on immigration. His motion failed. But, notably, it forced the Senate to meet Saturday, allowing Harry Reid to outmaneuver Republicans and schedule votes on key nominees, like Anthony Blinken, who is up for deputy secretary of state.

    Many Republicans oppose him because of his role in bringing American troops out of Iraq. Such nominations will likely be Democrats’ last big wins, before they move between being in power now and how they will operate as the minority come January.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We return now to the deadly hostage standoff in Australia.

    Stuart Cohen is a freelance journalist based in Sydney. He’s been reporting the story for NPR.

    I spoke to him a short time ago via Skype.

    Stuart Cohen, thank you for talking with us.

    First of all, what more can you tell us about this incident and about the ending of it, the way police stormed it this cafe at the very end?

    STUART COHEN, Freelance Journalist: Well, it was very much a real surprise ending to this whole siege.

    It all happened in the middle of the night, when it was looking like things had sort of quieted down for the night. Police were just sort of standing around holding their ground. And kind of at the middle of — at 1:00 in the morning, police released the name of the hostage taker, Man Haron Monis.

    And then that was a bit of a surprise there, because they were keeping that name under tight wraps. And then just before 2:00 in the morning, there was a scattering of hostages that suddenly made a break for freedom, came running out of the building. And then, within 30 seconds to a minute, that’s when the chaos began, stun grenades were thrown, gunshots were fired, and the police stormed the cafe, all very unexpected in the middle of the night like that.

    But as they said in the press conference, they heard shots fired within the cafe, and they decided that was the time that they need to move, that if they didn’t act then, that there was likely going to be more hostages killed.

    There was some question as to whether or not perhaps the gunman had started falling asleep at that time. And that’s when some of the hostages tried to make a break for it, and then the gunshots were fired. But that’s all going to come out in the investigation in the coming days.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, what more is known about the hostage taker? We know he’s Iranian-born.

    STUART COHEN: Yes, he is Iranian-born refugee. He has been in Australia since around 1996 and considers himself a cleric.

    There was a person on ABC television here in Australia saying that he actually was a cleric in Iran before he came to Australia. But he was sort of a self-styled cleric here in Australia. He was considered a bit of a fringe cleric. He was convicted for writing hate mail to — or sending hate mail to the families of dead Australian soldiers who were killed overseas.

    And, more recently, he was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, as well as charged as an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, so really very much a violent criminal who was out on bail.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, very quickly, how much is it believed, how wide is it believed that there are represented in Australia extreme views as those that I guess we’re lead to believe Mr. Monis had?

    STUART COHEN: Well, there are some wide views.

    As you recall, back in September, the terrorist raids across Sydney, there was concern that there were some people out there who were getting ready to carry out terrorist attacks. Tony Abbott, the prime minister, talked about the possibility of lone wolf attacks.

    But when it comes to this man, Man Haron Monis, it’s starting to come out that he was less of a lone wolf terrorist and more of just a really sort of desperate man. His lawyer told Australian television that this really was the act of a desperate man. This wasn’t a person who was carrying out a concerted terrorist attack, but a person who was out on bail for several serious crimes and was really looking at just a desperate act with nothing to lose, not so much someone who was committing a concerted terrorist attack on behalf of ISIS or any other organization.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Stuart Cohen joining us from Sydney, we thank you.

    STUART COHEN: You’re welcome, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now for a read on how U.S. intelligence officials are interpreting the Australia attack, we turn again to our Margaret Warner again.

    So, Margaret, now, we just heard the reporter, Stuart Cohen, saying his lawyer says he thinks this was the act of a desperate man. But there are still questions out there. You have been talking to top intelligence officials. What do they say?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, the U.S., Judy is deferring to Australian authorities to put together the backstory of what took this man over the edge.

    I mean, he clearly had anti-Western, pro-Islamic views. So the U.S. has very close cooperation with them. But they do consider this attack significant, this incident significant, not as brand-new, but as part of a morphing trend.

    In other words, after 9/11, for more than a decade, the thought was the threats to the U.S. would come from some kind of al-Qaida-masterminded large-scale plot. Then you had the sort of lone wolf phenomenon starting in ’09, but really starting now with the rise of the I.S. group, specifically calling on their sympathizers to carry out attacks against Westerners in their home countries.

    They see it’s just ratcheting up and it just keeps morphing. And so they may — the perpetrator may be desperate, incompetent or deranged, as they often are, but it still is considered a threat by senior intelligence and counterterrorism officials in the U.S. government.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So how much of a threat do they see here in the United States? They are looking for lone wolves all the time. We know that. What is their reading in this country right now?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, the reading in this country is that so far so good. There haven’t been many similar attacks here.

    But they point to a couple of things. In September, there was an audio speech given by a spokesman for I.S. calling specifically for attacks on Brits, Americans, Canadians, and Australians and others in the anti-U.S. coalition.

    And you have seen a number — think of those attacks in Canada in October. Think of the hatchet attack of a self — somebody who had just converted to Islam attacked four officers on the street in New York in October. So there is that.

    Secondly, you know, the FBI just two weeks ago last night issued a warning to American service personnel, especially who may be traveling back here for the holidays in their uniforms, saying they had evidence that ISIS, as they said, or ISIL, overseas was looking for like-minded individuals here in the United States to attack some of these soldiers, and warned U.S. service personnel to be very careful in their own social media postings.

    So there is definitely a feeling that, given their more sophisticated social media outreach, the fact that it has become harder and harder to track and stay on top of, that there is a threat.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, in just a few seconds, why don’t they think there have been more of these kinds of attacks before?

    MARGARET WARNER: And, very quickly, one, they do believe the U.S. Muslim community is better at alerting authorities to when a kid seems to be going over the edge.

    But two, there is incredible U.S. surveillance. We have been arguing about that for a year-and-a-half now, the tradeoff between privacy and national security. And the U.S. does collect this metadata. They do try to stay on top of who is connecting with whom. They do try to get into content when they feel they have the ability or the probable cause.

    But they — somebody said to me today, we are lacking the resources to stay on top of this kind of morphing threat.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Margaret Warner, we thank you once again.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Oil and stocks picked up today where they left off last week, going south. The price of crude sank below $56 a barrel in New York trading. It hasn’t been that low since May of 2009. And the Dow Jones industrial average lost almost 100 points to close below 17181; the Nasdaq fell 48 points to close at 4605; and the S&P 500 slipped 12 to 1989.

    In the Middle East, Palestinian officials vowed today to press forward with a new bid for statehood at the United Nations. A spokesman for the Fatah movement, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, announced the decision to try to force Israel to give up the West Bank.

    AHMAD ASSAF, Fatah Spokesman (through interpreter): The Palestinian leadership decided to go to the U.N. Security Council next Wednesday to hold a vote on a draft resolution which calls for the end of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank within two years.

    The resolution will be submitted to the Security Council after a scheduled meeting has taken place between Arab foreign ministers and Europe ministers with Secretary of State John Kerry.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A second resolution at the Security Council calls for a two-year deadline on negotiations about statehood. Israel opposes both resolutions. And, today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome. Kerry meets tomorrow with the head Palestinian negotiator.

    The death toll in Central Indonesia rose to 56 today after a Friday mudslide that flattened a farming village. Fifty-two others remained missing. More than 3,000 rescuers used dogs and excavators to comb through wreckage. teams used their hands to dig out bodies trapped under the mud before carrying them away for burial.

    Back in this country, President Obama saluted troops returning from Afghanistan, and marked the end of combat operations there. He traveled to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst told some 3,000 soldiers that their willingness to serve overseas has kept the nation safe.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: That’s the selfless character of our military. Those are the precious gifts that you give America not just this time of year, but all year, every year. You never stop serving. You never stop giving. You guys are like Santa in fatigues.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Some 13,000 foreign troops, mostly Americans, will stay on in Afghanistan to train Afghan forces and help fight al-Qaida and the Taliban.

    Back in Washington, Democrats pushed to make the most of the final days of their Senate majority. They are trying to get confirmation votes on more than 20 stalled presidential nominations, before going home for the year for good. Come January, Republicans will control the Senate.

    This was deadline day for Americans enrolling for health coverage on HealthCare.gov. Customers who want a health plan as of January 1 have to sign up by midnight tonight Pacific time. That’s 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Eastern time. The federal site covers 37 states. Other states have their own websites with different deadlines.

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    Russian shoppers were unable to purchase Apple products online Tuesday after the company took down its online store due to the fluctuating price of the ruble.

    Russian shoppers were unable to purchase Apple products online Tuesday after the company took down its online store due to the fluctuating price of the ruble.

    Russian shoppers looking to purchase an iPod or iPad online for the holidays were out of luck Tuesday as Apple halted all online sales of its products — with Russia’s volatile currency to blame.

    “Due to extreme fluctuations in the value of the ruble, our online store in Russia is currently unavailable while we review pricing,” Apple wrote in a statement. “We apologize to customers for any inconvenience.”

    The ruble dropped 11 percent against the dollar on Tuesday to a 16-year low Tuesday, Reuters reported, marking a near-20 percent drop this week alone.

    The move by Apple is the latest action by the company in response to the falling value of Russia’s currency. In November, Apple raised the price of the iPhone 6 by 25 percent in Russia’s online store to combat the fluctuations.

    The post Apple halts online sales in Russia as ruble plummets appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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