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

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    The Simpsons

    After 25 years of doughnuts, D’ohs and drunken nights at Moe’s, Homer Simpson is just as charming as ever. As are Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie. And Krusty. And Patty and Selma and … you get it.

    On Wednesday “The Simpsons” will celebrate a quarter century on air, so we asked the die-hard fans on staff to contribute the most memorable and hilarious quotes from some of their favorite episodes. Can you guess which character said these? Take our quiz below:

    The post Quiz: How well do you know ‘The Simpsons’ characters? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell declared Tuesday that approving the Keystone XL pipeline will top the Senate agenda in January, potentially setting up an early veto confrontation with President Barack Obama.

    Congressional Republicans have been pushing for approval of the pipeline for years. Obama has resisted because of environmental concerns.

    “People want jobs and this project will create well-paying high-wage jobs for our people,” McConnell told reporters. “We’re optimistic we can pass it and put it on the president’s desk.”

    The $8 billion pipeline would carry oil from Canada into the United States and eventually to the Texas Gulf Coast. It has become a symbol for divisions over the country’s energy and environmental policy.

    Environmentalists say the issue is a significant test of Obama’s commitment to address climate change. Republicans and other supporters say the project would create jobs and promote energy security, reducing U.S. reliance on oil from the Middle East.

    The 1,179-mile project is proposed to go from Canada through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.

    The Republican-led House has repeatedly passed legislation approving the pipeline. But the bills have died in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Last month, a bill fell one vote short of advancing in the Senate.

    Republicans will take control of the Senate in January, and McConnell is to become the new majority leader. The Kentucky Republican said the pipeline will be “the first item up in the new Senate.”

    It could be a lively debate. McConnell promised to allow unlimited amendments, meaning senators could try to force votes on all kinds of unrelated issues.

    Such debates have become rare in the Senate in recent years. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., often uses parliamentary procedures preventing amendments on most bills.

    The post Keystone pipeline top priority for Senate in 2015 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    word-search2

    Can you find these words hidden in the puzzle above?
    Mark Shields, David Brooks, Judy Woodruff, Gwen Ifill, Hari Sreenivasan, Jeffrey Brown, PBS NewsHour, Marcia Coyle, Margaret Warner, Steve Goldbloom, Culture at Risk, Making Sen$e, Agents For Change, Robert MacNeil, Jim Lehrer, The Rundown, Art Beat, WETA, Paul Solman.

    12DaysBanner_FinalBy now you’ve probably solved the NewsHour-themed crossword puzzle we released on Sunday. Luckily, there are a few days left in the 12 Days of NewsHour, and we still have a few tricks up our sleeves. Our gift for Day 9 gift is plenty tricky — a NewsHour word jumble. You’ll need to look backwards and forwards, up, down and diagonally to find the names of your favorite NewsHour anchors, guests, recurring segments and more hidden in the puzzle above. Once you’ve solved the jumble, check your answers here.

    Looking for something to do after uncovering all the hidden words in today’s gift? Create some homemade gifts using the NewsHour logo cross stitch pattern from Day 2 or stencil from Day 6. Or bake some tasty treats for your friends and family with recipes provided by Judy and the rest of the NewsHour staff. Don’t forget to download this voicemail message from Gwen and Judy, along with this NewsHour theme ringtone for your cell phone. Once your finished, curl up by the fire and let us know what you think of each gift on social media using #12DaysofNewsHour.

    The post 12 Days of NewsHour: Unscramble this word jumble appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks during the Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington, DC, Dec. 1, 2014. Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

    Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks during The Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington, DC, Dec. 1, 2014. Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

    After a series of recent actions that signaled his political intentions for the executive office, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced Tuesday his plans to “actively explore” a 2016 run for president.

    Bush, whose father and brother have previously served as president, has yet to formally pursue a 2016 candidacy. But on a Facebook post posted Tuesday morning, Bush said he plans to start a leadership political action committee at the beginning of 2015 to “support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.”

    The PBS NewsHour spoke with Washington Post’s Dan Balz on Bush’s potential quest for the White House, the first steps politicians take to jump start a presidential campaign, and the possibility of another Bush-Clinton bout.

    NewsHour: How serious is Bush’s announcement? Is this a sure sign he’s serious about running?

    Dan Balz, Washington Post: I think it’s a very serious sign. He’s been moving in this direction for some time, and I think for him to do what he did today is the clearest indication to date that he’s likely to become a formal candidate.

    What steps does a politician take before making an announcement like this? How much exploration (polling, etc.) was done before his announcement?

    Dan Balz: He’s been doing a lot of what you would call “due diligence” over many months. He has been moving around the country; he did some campaigning for people during the midterm elections and, therefore, he was able to, kind of gauge sentiment in different states and gauge the kind of reaction he got as he went into different places.

    We know he’s been in contact with contributors, potential donors, and we also know that he’s been trying out some campaign themes. He was at a conference with The Wall Street Journal a week ago or two weeks ago. He talked about some of the issues that are important to him and also talked more openly about how he would approach the campaign. And I think all of that was, in one way or another, designed to give him some sense of the reaction to a campaign. So, he’s spent a lot of time gauging sentiment and I think, thinking about what this would mean for himself and for his family.

    What do you think of Jeb Bush’s announcement that he’ll “actively explore” a run for president in 2016? Check out what voters in New York and Colorado had to say. Video by PBS NewsHour

    Bush plans to release 250,000 emails from his two terms as governor. Was that unprecedented?

    Dan Balz: It is and it isn’t. My understanding of this is that Florida has very strong what you would call sunshine laws. And I think these emails, some of them have been looked at before by members of the Florida press when he was governor. So, I think all of this probably would be available. It’s seems as though by saying he’s going to put them all out at once is a way to kind of clear the decks. But it’s another sign that he’s, you know, he knows that people are going to start exploring his background and his record. And he’s prepared to put those out proactively.

    What about the fatigue already expressed with a potential Bush-Clinton run, pitting Bush against presumptive 2016 Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton?

    Dan Balz: It’s one of the great unanswered questions. I mean, on the one hand, both of them are very credible presidential candidates given their experience. And even without the names, somebody who served two terms as the governor of one of the biggest states in the country, and somebody who’s been first lady, Senator from New York and Secretary of State would have credentials to run for president.

    The fact that they happen to be named Clinton and Bush adds to it. But it adds to it in both a positive and potentially negative way. I mean, the positive is they’re very, very well known and so they start with bigger networks and bigger fundraising capacity than some of the other candidates. The negative, of course, is people would say, “Are we back to Clinton and Bush?” And I think only until we see both of them out on the campaign trail, if that’s what we’re gonna see, can we really gauge the degree to which there is fatigue over either Clinton or Bush, and particularly about the combination of a Bush-Clinton race in 2016.

    Watch a full discussion on what’s shaking up the 2016 presidential campaign, on tonight’s PBS NewsHour.

    PBS NewsHour reporter Joshua Barajas contributed to this report.

    The post How serious are Jeb Bush’s first steps toward a 2016 presidential campaign? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Tyanna Buie turned her childhood spent in foster care into an artistic exploration, using screen-printing and collage to reinterpret old photographs and memories. Wisconsin Public Television profiled Buie for its Wisconsin Life project. Video produced by Zac Schultz, shot by Wendy Woodard and Ryan Ward and edited by Wendy Woodard of Wisconsin Public Television

    Tyanna Buie grew up with her father out of the picture. Her mother and other relatives were often in jail. With no adult relative able to care for her, Buie entered the foster care system at the age of 4.

    Buie turned to art as an escape, but, with the transient nature of the foster care system, she was moved to a variety of foster homes, her art work thrown away with each move.

    Buie’s childhood experiences inspired her to reinterpret old photographs and memories, using the techniques of screen-printing and collage. She’s now a popular Milwaukee artist and a lecturer at the Milwaukee Institute for Art and Design who uses her collage-style art to explore her past.

    Local Beat is a weekly series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member stations around the nation.

    The post Milwaukee collage artist layers memories from a volatile childhood appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

    Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

    When Dolores Acevedo-Garcia and Pamela K. Joshi set out to study the racial and ethnic equity of federal policies impacting child health, they didn’t expect it to be terribly difficult. After all, they figured, there are federal mandates that require agencies to collect data on race and ethnicity.

    But finding the data that the researchers from Brandeis University wanted to analyze was difficult. It was buried in reports or tied up in semantics.

    Health Affairs“We thought this would be a relatively easy project,” Pam Joshi, a senior research scientist at Brandeis’s Heller School for Social Policy and one of the author of the study, said. “And three years later, here we are.”

    To study the data, they created the Policy Equity Assessment, which questions how the policy works in relation to race and ethnicity. Their results showed multiple gaping holes — in the data on policy impact and racial/ethnic inequalities in access to benefits.

    “It’s hard to put together the picture across ethnic groups and across geographies,” said Dolores Acevedo-Garcia. “Everyone should be on top of this — it shouldn’t be on an individual project to do.”

    Joshi explains their primary goals as getting data into the hands of policymakers, using research evidence to help policymakers adopt “reasonable, policy-based decision to reduce gaps,” and to find room for states to work on these issues on their own.

    To make the data more accessible, and, hopefully as a result, to lead to more effective policy, they created the website datadiversitykids.org, which they will continue to maintain after the paper is published.

    The NewsHour recently spoke with Joshi and Acevedo-Garcia about their study, which was published in Health Affairs’ December issue. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

    NEWSHOUR: What surprised you about the process or results of the study?

    PAMELA K. JOSHI: First, the lack of data was very surprising. The lack of data in terms of gaps and reporting on disparities, considering that it’s a part of the mandate in Healthy People 2020. Ideally, you’d think they would also be reporting on disparities.

    For Hispanic kids, we saw lower participation in all programs. So that was really surprising to see the differential access for Hispanic parents and kids in these three landmark policies that address child health.

    “Some of the potential solutions are well within existing policy tools. It’s moving toward knowledge from a lack of information…. It’s getting a smarter way of reaching these populations.”
    DOLORES ACEVEDO-GARCIA: There are underlying issues that should be explored further. There is this unequal or differential access. We found that across all the groups, there is limited access to coverage. That’s the first thing we want to emphasize. Secondly, the group that has the least access is Hispanic.

    Hispanics are 25 percent of the child population today and the only group which the majority of households today is raising kids in. If we want to invest in children’s health, obviously an important investment is what we do for Hispanic families.

    NEWSHOUR: Because of recent events, race is a big national conversation right now. How does your study figure into that?

    DOLORES ACEVEDO-GARCIA: Given the climate of a littler more openness to talk about these things, the mission of our project is to put the mission of equality in the [spotlight] of the country and to make sure we are raising kids with equal access to good outcomes. It’s a really stark example of how there are inequalities by race. They start much earlier in life, even if you only see it when they are teenagers or young adults. The mission of our project is when we have the chances to invest: When do we meet these opportunities across life and geography?

    Of course, this very important event [in Ferguson] is what we’re talking about, but about 50 percent of the African-American kids in the St. Louis metropolitan area live in neighborhoods that are high-poverty and don’t have quality early childhood education centers. In white neighborhoods, that number is only 8 percent. A lot of investments could be made in early and middle childhood. Some of the issues are injustice in the criminal justice system, but there are preventative measures that could be taken with early childhood education and adult time off. A lot of these inequalities could be corrected if we address some of these underlying issues. We need to be paying a lot of attention to how all kids are going to develop.

    NEWSHOUR: Why did you chose to apply the Policy Equity Assessment to Head Start, the Family and Medical Leave Act and Section 8?

    PAMELA K. JOSHI: We take a social determinative health perspective on how politics affect child health. We have an ecological approach where we look at different places where children live, where they go to school, what their family is like, where their parents work and the health care system — the environments that kids interact with. From there, we think about politics. For this particular paper, we looked at non-health policies that have health components. That’s how we got Head Start, the Family and Medical Leave Act and Section 8.

    NEWSHOUR: Are there parallels between your paper’s recommendations and affirmative action?

    PAMELA K. JOSHI: This policy, this website, is really looking at differential access to existing policies. It’s just access to the policy. We don’t consider this at all affirmative action. We do know when programs target vulnerable populations, and the racial and ethnic makeup of those population. There is, for example, a targeting of migrant and seasonal worker parents. We know that these are mainly hispanic kids. It has to do with how we serve migrant kids.

    DOLORES ACEVEDO-GARCIA: Some of the potential solutions are well within existing policy tools. It’s moving toward knowledge from a lack of information. It’s not getting preferential treatment. It’s getting a smarter way of reaching these populations.

    NEWSHOUR: How people are using the data already?

    DOLORES ACEVEDO-GARCIA: One New York advocacy group, the Child Neighborhood Opportunity Index, has been using it. Someone in New York took the data from the website, created their own maps, and are using it to show the disparities children are facing at the neighborhood level. We heard about that just as we heard about the no indictment decision in the New York case

    PAMELA K. JOSHI: Another example is state paid leave for families. We met a group called Family Values at Work at the White House [during] a Working Families Summit this summer. We asked them, is this data helpful to what you’re doing? That group has been using our data to push change because a lot of the family leave, if it’s unpaid, prices the families out of the market. If you’re trying to help the most disadvantaged workers, this data helps make this case at the state policy level. Our data is meant to be useful to the people who go and do the advocacy work for improving access to coverage.

    The post Can government policies correct race and ethnicity disparities in child health? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    drkim

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now an update on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

    As of yesterday, the World Health Organization reported nearly 18,500 confirmed cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, with more than 6,800 deaths. And while a newly published study finds that the number of unreported, and therefore undercounted, cases may not be as high as once feared, health officials say that, to halt the outbreak, every infection must be traced to its source.

    Here to talk about that and more is the president of the World Bank Group, Dr. Jim Yong Kim. He is a medical doctor, and he has just returned from West Africa.

    Dr. Kim, thank you for being here.

    DR. JIM YONG KIM, President, World Bank Group: Thank you, Judy. Thanks for having me.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So you wrote while you were there that this is the worst epidemic you have ever seen. Of course, I guess, to many, that wouldn’t be surprising, considering the numbers, but what did you see in West Africa?

    DR. JIM YONG KIM: Well, when I say it’s the worst, I spent a lot of my life fighting AIDS in Africa. And that was pretty bad, and drug-resistant tuberculosis.

    The reason this is so bad is because it is so deadly, and we have to get to zero. There’s no getting almost to zero. Each one of the epidemics in the three countries started with a single case. And what we now know is — especially in this epidemic, is that if you leave a single case untreated and then if you let that transmission continue, it could explode again.

    I’m very, very worried about this, because we still don’t have in place plans to get to zero in each of the three countries.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So what is it going to take? You wrote — in the column that you wrote the other day, you said it’s not just money, it’s more local control over what’s happening there.

    DR. JIM YONG KIM: Right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you see that needs to get done that isn’t getting done?

    DR. JIM YONG KIM: Well, let me tell you about two countries, Senegal and Nigeria. And I had a chance to talk with the presidents of both of those countries.

    In Senegal, they had one cross-border case. It was a Ghanaian student. And it took just about everything they had, at a cost of $1.3 million, and they had to do contact tracing; 78 people had contact with him. They had to provide food for them. They had to take their temperatures twice a day. And it was $1.3 million for the one case.

    In Nigeria, same thing, more than 200 physicians, more than 600 other health workers, 19,000 home visits for 19 cases. Now, just get that in your head, $13 million. We’re going to have to do that in each of the three countries for all the cases in order to get to zero.

    That’s a level of rigor and discipline that is very hard to get even in the United States. To do it in those three countries is going to be a challenge, but we have no choice. We have got to do it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It sounds impossible.

    DR. JIM YONG KIM: It’s not.

    And it’s because the Senegal and Nigeria examples really gave us a sense that it is possible. But the health systems in those two countries are much more developed. So we now have to bring in experts who can on a day-to-day basis make the judgments. These are really virus hunters. These are the people who shut down the SARS epidemic.

    We now have them on board. And they’re in these countries working. And they have to work with local people. We’re hoping that one of the things we can do is to hire local people to be the contact tracers.

    And so while, on the one hand, we’re doing all the work that you need to do from a public health perspective, we hope that it will also be an employment program and put some badly needed cash into the economy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What about the organization, just the idea of pulling it all together and making sure it happens, the follow-through? Is that in place in these countries?

    DR. JIM YONG KIM: Not yet, but especially the U.S. and the U.K. have done a lot of fantastic work in putting some of the infrastructure in place.

    So, up until now, the idea has been, is there anything we can do to just take some of the heat out of the epidemic? Can we knock down in any way the rapid increase in the number of cases?

    We did that in Liberia. In Guinea, it’s — the numbers aren’t going up as quickly. In Sierra Leone, we’re still in very rapid growth. So we have to on the one hand do all the things we need to do, safe burials, and just identifying people to slow down the rapid rise in the number of cases, but then, after you do that, you take on this next stage, which is every single case has to be traced.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Talk about the World Bank’s role in all of this. People think of the World Bank as a place that looks — it’s economy-focused and you focus on developing parts of the world.

    And you have noted that, in these countries, there had been some economic advances made, but that this Ebola outbreak has set them way back.

    DR. JIM YONG KIM: Well, just as an example, Sierra Leone in 2013, its GDP grew by 20 percent, among the highest rates in the world.

    And, in 2015, we think it’s going to contract by 2 percent. So there were the discovery of minerals, for example, in Liberia. Despite the fact that the rubber industry had not come back from before a — the civil war, it was beginning to come back. There were mineral discoveries. Guinea, of course, has bauxite and iron ore.

    So, there were a lot of very positive signs. This has really set them back. But the bigger issue, Judy, is that we have to sit back and ask a deeper question: What if this weren’t Ebola? What if it were an even worse virus? What if it were a faster-moving virus? What if it was pandemic flu?

    These are fundamental downside risks to not only the local economies, but to the global economy. And we didn’t have a mechanism in place that would immediately disperse literally billions of dollars to tackle the epidemics in the way that we need to.

    So, now what we’re putting on the table, the World Bank is one of the institutions that has to protect the global economy from these downside risks that are very real, but for which we don’t have buffers. So, not only are we responding in these three countries, but we’re now looking to the future and saying, what can we do to make sure that this spiraling of an epidemic out of control never happens again?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, can you make that assurance now?

    DR. JIM YONG KIM: Not right now.

    But one of the things we’re doing now — we just had a meeting at the Institute of Medicine, where we brought the people who led the smallpox response and other responses, H5N1, and we sat down and said, what would it take to build a system that would truly protect the world from an even more devastating pandemic?

    For example, if we had a flu outbreak that was as deadly as the one in the early 1900s, percentages of global population died in that particular outbreak. We need to be ready right now to respond much more quickly and much more effectively the next time Ebola or any other virus breaks out.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But it sounds like you’re saying you think it can be done?

    DR. JIM YONG KIM: Well, we know it can be done. It is going to be extremely difficult. It’s going to take everything we know about public health. It’s going to take groups like the World Bank Group using our balance sheet.

    And the good news is that we’re a bank. And so we can actually put our balance sheet to use in putting together innovative instruments, like insurance policies almost, that, when something happens, boom, it will fall into place.

    But, you know, we have been humbled by this, every single one of us.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: As the head of the World Bank, you’re someone I have to ask about the segment we just — Jeffrey Brown just did that interview about what has happened in Russia, the collapse of their currency, the ruble, the effect of the falling price of oil.

    How worried are you and other folks who look at these issues about what’s going on in Russia right now?

    DR. JIM YONG KIM: We’re worried. But contrary to what was said before, I think that we sort of could have seen this coming.

    The supply of oil had been going up for quite some time, and these prices do go up and down. We have seen this in the past. And in this particular case, there are winners and losers. And so, for example, even the countries that are dependent on remittances from Russia who are oil importers are going to see — are going to have problems with their economies.

    So it’s a very complex picture. The currencies of Brazil, of Norway have also gone down. So it’s not just Russia. But the Russia case is a little bit more dramatic than some of the others.

    Our role is to really think about what are the macro-fiscal measures that can be taken? We’re especially concerned about the poorest countries. But if you look at other countries, for example, Indonesia, Indonesia is an importer. And, in this case, their price of oil is going to go down. They may be able to actually take off some of the fuel subsidies that they have been wanting to take off for quite some time.

    So the hope is that some good will come out of this in countries, for example, taking action now because it’s easier to do, removing fuel subsidies, which will have a positive impact, we hope, on climate change.

    Now, the other part of it is that, if the demand for renewable energy goes down, then it makes it even more complex.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tough for some, but you’re saying a possible opening for others.

    Doctor…

    DR. JIM YONG KIM: Well, we really have to watch this carefully. I mean, the situation is very worrisome right now in Russia.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Dr. Jim Yong Kim with the World Bank, we thank you.

    DR. JIM YONG KIM: Thank you.

    The post Getting ‘to zero’ in the fight against Ebola appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Nguyen Phu Trong Visit to Russia

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JEFFREY BROWN: And for more, I’m joined by Angela Stent of Georgetown University. She served in the State Department and at the National Intelligence Council. And Eswar Prasad is an international economist at Cornell University and the Brookings Institution.

    Eswar Prasad, this extraordinary move, middle of the night, what were they trying — what was the Central Bank trying to do?

    ESWAR PRASAD, Cornell University: I think they were trying to signal, but I think, in fact, it’s come across as some degree of desperation.

    The objective of raising interest rates is to try to keep Russian money in and try to bring investors from abroad attracted by higher interest rates. The problem is that the economy is tanking, and with oil at less than $60 to the barrel, it is going to be very difficult to make the economic numbers add up.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And the currency is going down because all that money is flowing out?

    ESWAR PRASAD: That’s exactly right, because Russians are taking money out and foreign investors who put money into China are also taking money out.

    And the objective of raising interest rates is to try and stem the panic. But with about a quarter of the economy’s GDP reliant on oil and natural gas and about half of budget revenue is also accounted for by the energy sector, again, the numbers just don’t add up for Russia.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Angela Stent, when you look at those causes, oil prices and the sanctions, how do you weigh each one and how vulnerable is Russia turning out to be?

    ANGELA STENT, Georgetown University: Well, I think Russia is quite vulnerable.

    So, the Russian economy wasn’t doing well even before the Ukraine crisis. The government hadn’t undertaken the kind of structural reforms, the modernization program that they should have been doing for years. Then, of course, you had the sanctions, the first round of sanctions, the second round of sanctions, and that’s really hit the financial sector and it’s hit the energy sector, too.

    Then you, of course, had the totally unexpected tanking in oil prices, which, you know, when the West imposed the sanction, they really — nobody anticipated that, and so you really have this perfect storm. Plus, I would say — and I’m not an economist — but markets obviously react to psychological factors, too.

    And the fact that President Putin and the Kremlin have been so unwilling to make a compromise, to admit what’s happening in Ukraine, and are making their neighbors very nervous, and you have these incidents now where you again had a Swedish civilian airliner that nearly crashed into a Russian military plane that hadn’t — that had turned off its transponder, all of these kind of aggressive acts, really, I think that’s fueled some of the lack of confidence in the Russian economy and in the ruble.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Eswar Prasad, you are an economist, so how much does psychology play into something like this? And how much is a currency crisis, in fact, an economic crisis?

    ESWAR PRASAD: What we have seen in the last day or two is probably panic-driven, but it’s driven largely by fundamentals at one level, because the Russian economy has not been doing too well. It’s barely growing.

    The Russian Central Bank itself has indicated that if oil remains at under $60 to the barrel, it expects the economy to shrink by about 5 percent next year. There is no room to maneuver in terms of the government policy. So, ultimately, the currency crisis is a very important indicator of lack of confidence in the Russian economy, because the only way to get out of this mess at some level is to print more money, which means more inflation. The value of the ruble will be driven down even further, so there’s a lot of pain ahead for Russia.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so, Angela Stent, when you look at the implications, the impact so far and going forward, start with the impact on Vladimir Putin. He’s been very aggressive in recent years. He’s been asserting Russia’s power. Does this somehow weaken his position?

    ANGELA STENT: In the longer run, it might, but right at the moment, I mean, he’s still — the state media is still blaming the United States and the West for Russia’s economic troubles.

    The line that people are getting from their media, from TV is that the U.S. is out to destroy Russia, to break it up. President Putin is about to give another mammoth press conference in two days’ time. We may hear something different from him.

    But so far, he sounds quite defiant. Now, having said that, his foreign minister, for instance, Mr. Lavrov, a couple of days ago made more conciliatory remarks about the possibility of a settlement in Ukraine, about the outlines for this settlement. The cease-fire is doing a little better in southeastern Ukraine. So there are small glimmers that something might work out there.

    And, obviously, if there were to be an agreement and a cease-fire that holds, then some of these sanctions might be removed. But we have not heard those words from the president himself, and I have to say, his popularity is still pretty high. It may not be 85 percent. It may be slightly under 80 percent, but so far he has not run into popular response to this, popular opposition to this.

    But I think you can see in what’s happening in the major cities like Moscow, with the panic buying, with people sending all their money abroad if they can, that, in those crucial areas, in those cities, people are scratching their heads.

    And the former finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, who is very well-respected in the West, he himself has said today they really have to come to grips with their own domestic economic problems if they’re to come out of this.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Is there, Eswar Prasad, a kind of warning here for other countries? I’m thinking specifically of the oil price factor, that other countries that are big importer — exporters of oil, that this might trigger implications for other countries?

    ESWAR PRASAD: There are many countries that are vulnerable, many of them Middle Eastern economies, Venezuela in particular in Latin America, Nigeria.

    All of these are economies that are very dependent on export revenues from oil in particular, and they’re all counting at oil prices remaining well above $60 to the barrel. Some of these countries have also borrowed from abroad in dollars. And with their currencies plunging, as oil prices plunge, the value of those debt on their domestic currencies rises.

    So, there is trouble ahead. There are some economies, like the U.S. and India, that might do better, but there are many emerging market economies that are going to hurt.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Just very briefly, so the implications of Russia’s economic troubles are more for the rest of the world in terms of oil prices, rather than its economy going weak?

    ESWAR PRASAD: That’s exactly right.

    Russia’s connection to the rest of the world is somewhat limited. What’s important is that it signals that some things can go very badly wrong if oil prices stay so low. And Russia is just an extreme example of that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    Eswar Prasad, Angela Stent, thank you both very much.

    ANGELA STENT: Thank you.

    The post Does economic turbulence hurt Putin’s power? – Part 2 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Norman Bridwell, who brought Clifford the Big Red Dog to life in a series of books and later an animated show on PBS, died in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts on Friday. He was 86 years old.

    Norman Bridwell reads from a copy of the first Clifford the Big Red Dog book he wrote in 1963.

    Norman Bridwell reads from a copy of the first Clifford the Big Red Dog book he wrote in 1963.

    The first Clifford book was published in 1963 and quickly won legions of fans. All told, there are more than 129 million Clifford books in print in over 13 languages. The series follows the runt of a litter of puppies, Clifford, and his owner Emily who showers him with love which helps him grow to enormous proportions.

    Bridwell wrote and illustrated 150 titles, and all were published by Scholastic Books, helping cement their place in the publishing world. Nine other publishers had turned down Bridwell’s Clifford before Scholastic picked them up. The books were later turned into an animated series that aired on PBS Kids from 2000 to 2003.

    To see more of Norman Bridwell and Clifford the dog, watch this Scholastic Books video produced for the 50th anniversary of the Clifford the Big Red Dog books in 2013.

     

    The post Creator of ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’ dies at 86 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    ruble1

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: why economic alarm is building inside Russia, as the country’s Central Bank made a dramatic move to stabilize the economy.

    The Russian currency, the ruble, still declined for much of this day, before recovering some in late trading.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Moscow banks nervously charted the ruble’s course, hours after an extraordinary move by Russia’s Central Bank. It hiked a key interest rate nearly seven points, to 17 percent, in a desperate bid to shore up the currency.

    ELVIRA NABIULLINA, Governor, Central Bank of Russia (through interpreter): Without a doubt, the situation is really very difficult, and it requires absolutely coordinated actions of the government and the Central Bank. And we are ready for such coordination.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Since January, the ruble has lost 60 percent of its value, fueling inflation, and leaving many on the streets of Moscow feeling the pinch.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): Prices are rising for us at a faster rate than our pensions. It is bad. It is bad for us.

    MAN (through interpreter): Look how the price of bread has risen, and I’m not talking about a little rise. The situation is very difficult.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The plunging price of oil, one of Russia’s main exports, has been a primary driver in the currency’s devaluation. Today, officials at the Moscow Stock Exchange voiced doubt that oil will turn around soon.

    ANDREY SHEMETOV, Deputy Chairman, Moscow Exchange (through interpreter): In such an unstable and volatile atmosphere, it seems to me that panic prevails, which is not good. Naturally, at some point, it could reverse with the same speed, but at this moment, the mood in the market is not very positive.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Western sanctions imposed over the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine are also weighing on the ruble and the Russian economy.

    Even so, President Vladimir Putin has sounded defiant.

    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter): The modern world is very interdependent, but this doesn’t mean the sanctions against Moscow and a sharp drop in the prices of energy commodities and the national currency devaluation will have negative results or catastrophic consequences only for us. Nothing like that will happen.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But another setback is coming. The White House confirmed today that President Obama will sign a new round of sanctions into law later this week.

    The post Sanctions, cheap oil take toll on Russia’s struggling currency – Part 1 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    oaklandpolice

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: race and justice in America.

    Tonight, we look at efforts in Oakland, California, to address bias where it exists in law enforcement.

    Special correspondent Jackie Judd has the story.

    PROTESTER: If I can’t breathe!

    PROTESTERS: You can’t breathe!

    JACKIE JUDD: The racial turmoil in the U.S. stemming from encounters between police and black men strikes a chord with Jennifer Eberhardt. The social psychologist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, has spent her career exploring racial bias and how that plays out in the criminal justice system.

    Still, it came as a shock to her how embedded biases can be, biases we’re not even aware of.

    JENNIFER EBERHARDT, Stanford University: I’m on an airplane with my son. And he looks up and he sees a black man, and he says, “Hey, that guy looks like daddy.”

    And I look at the guy, he doesn’t look anything like my husband, and I notice he’s the only black guy on the plane. And he says, “I hope he doesn’t rob the plane.”

    And I said, “Well, why would you say that?”

    And he looked at me and he said, “I don’t know why I said that.”

    And so we’re living with such severe racial stratification that even a 5-year-old can tell us what’s supposed to happen next.

    JACKIE JUDD: Eberhardt has moved from the research lab to the streets of Oakland, 35 miles north of Palo Alto and a world away, to help a troubled police department change its ways.

    Like Ferguson, Cleveland and Staten Island, the Oakland Police Department has an uneasy relationship with the minority community it serves.

    MAN: There’s times when I’m walking down the street, and I’m accosted.

    MAN: He didn’t even ask me for my name. The first thing he said, are you on probation, on parole?

    JACKIE JUDD: Only 28 percent of the population here is black, but the majority of police stops, searches and arrests involves black residents. In 2009, an unarmed black man, Oscar Grant, was shot dead at the Fruitvale BART station. Even though a transit officer killed Grant, long-simmering resentment towards city officers erupted.

    RASHIDAH GRINAGE, People United for a Better Life in Oakland: This area is known as the Fruitvale area of Oakland.

    JACKIE JUDD: Rashidah Grinage became a community organizer after a confrontation in her home 21 years ago, which led to the death of her husband, who was black, their son, and a police officer.

    RASHIDAH GRINAGE: Good morning. This is Rashidah.

    JACKIE JUDD: Today, while Grinage says there are some fine officers and progressive commanders in the department, she believes two systems of justice prevail, one for wealthy whites in the hills around Oakland and another for minority residents in the flatlands.

    RASHIDAH GRINAGE: There is an intuition that officers have about what they can do under which circumstances, depending on what neighborhood they’re in, depending on what they believe to be the socioeconomic profile, and the resources of that person or that person’s family.

    JACKIE JUDD: And the police department would probably say because that’s where most crime takes place.

    RASHIDAH GRINAGE: But we’re basing assumptions on the group someone belongs to. And that is racial or ethnic profiling.

    JACKIE JUDD: Back in 2003, the Oakland Police Department agreed to implement court-ordered reforms that grew out of the case in which several officers were accused of framing criminal suspects. To this day, leaders are still struggling to improve relations between the police and the public.

    Assistant Chief Paul Figueroa, tasked with finding ways to eliminate racial bias, as the court ordered, is teamed with Jennifer Eberhardt to help change the entrenched culture.

    ASSISTANT CHIEF PAUL FIGUEROA, Oakland Police Department: Those are the questions that I get asked quite a bit in various meetings.

    JENNIFER EBERHARDT: OK.

    PAUL FIGUEROA: Well, what’s it like in East Oakland compared to West Oakland?

    JENNIFER EBERHARDT: Right.

    One of the big things that I focused on is just what I call the race-crime association or the black-crime association.

    So it’s not surprising really that people might associate blackness with crime, but it can come up in surprising ways or it can influence us in ways that we don’t always recognize or know about.

    JACKIE JUDD: And that so-called implicit bias is what Eberhardt is sharing with department supervisors. Among the many studies of bias that she’s conducted, one in particular brought a startling discovery.

    Study participants were shown pictures of black and white men all in very rapid-fire succession. Then they were shown fuzzy images of weapons, which slowly became clear.

    JENNIFER EBERHARDT: The black faces facilitated the detection of the crime objects, whereas the white faces inhibited the detection of those very same crime objects. So, for those objects, just being exposed really quickly to these black male faces led them to need less information or fewer frames before they could pick out what those objects were.

    JACKIE JUDD: A gun.

    JENNIFER EBERHARDT: Yes, right, exactly. So, they needed fewer frames before they said, oh, that’s a gun or that’s a knife.

    The stereotype of blacks as hostile, dangerous and criminal is one of the strongest stereotypes in American society.

    JACKIE JUDD: It is not always easy for department supervisors to hear what Eberhardt has to say, but they listen, and then try to sensitize officers.

    LT. LERONNE ARMSTRONG, Oakland Police Department: You’re not alone in this, right? You’re not the only one sitting in the classroom thinking, wow, is that me? You know, you could see the looks on everyone’s face, that they’re going, oh, OK.

    JACKIE JUDD: What kind of pushback do you get from officers when you’re asking them to do things having to do with racial sensitivity?

    PAUL FIGUEROA: Oftentimes, some of the pushback is, well, are we being called a racist? Is this — what’s all the accusations coming at us when we’re working as hard as we can to bring about safety to the community? And that’s part of the conversation.

    JENNIFER EBERHARDT: And the agenda is to look at the multiple stopgaps.

    JACKIE JUDD: Eberhardt and a team of student researchers also are in the midst of analyzing stop data and, importantly, body-cam videos from Oakland police to determine what happens in that crucial and sometimes fraught moment between officer and citizen.

    JENNIFER EBERHARDT: So you can look at things like pitch. You can look at the rate at which people are speaking, and you can look at loudness. And those things can tell you a lot about whether things are heated, whether things are going to escalate.

    PAUL FIGUEROA: Sure.

    JACKIE JUDD: It is the power of videos that brought tragedies, like those in Cleveland and Staten Island, to public attention. Eberhardt hopes the videos she is examining become tools that lead to better policing.

    JENNIFER EBERHARDT: I feel like we’re in a moment now where things can really shift. We’re in a position to actually know, to really understand and to know what happens in these interactions and why it is that sometimes they go awry.

    PAUL FIGUEROA: I really think Jennifer’s research is going to help us identify what issues are there and design some strategies to help us intervene in some circumstances and, in others, question our programs and policies that are leading to some of these outcomes.

    JACKIE JUDD: Assistant Chief Figueroa acknowledges it will take years to transform the department. Promises have been made before.

    Lieutenant LeRonne Armstrong, who leads his own racial sensitivity session, knows the department has a lot of king to convincing to do.

    LT. LERONNE ARMSTRONG: We’re as close as we have ever been to finally coming into compliance with all the requirements of the negotiated settlement agreement.

    JACKIE JUDD: Does the immunity feel it?

    LT. LERONNE ARMSTRONG: I don’t know if the community feels it, because, when you look at the climate in the community currently, it doesn’t seem that way.

    JENNIFER EBERHARDT: I think people are feeling vulnerable in different ways on both sides. I mean, you have community members who feel vulnerable around the police. And then there’s a vulnerability on the police side, where, when something happens in Ferguson or anywhere in the country, police departments all over the nation feel it.

    MAN: You’re supposed to be feeling safe because the police are there, but it’s like, whenever I do see them, it’s like I don’t feel as safe. It’s kind of like irony.

    JACKIE JUDD: This is Jackie Judd in Oakland, California, for the “NewsHour.”

    The post Oakland tries to address how deeply rooted biases affect law enforcement appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    whitehouse2016

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: A man whose family is no stranger to politics got an early start shaking up the 2016 election.

    In the first major salvo in the fight for the White House, Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, turned to social media to say he is actively exploring a run for president. If he runs, he’d follow in the footsteps of his father, George H.W. Bush, the nation’s 41st president, and his older brother George W., who was the country’s 43rd.

    The younger Bush made headlines this week after announcing he would release a quarter-million e-mails from his eight years as Florida governor. While in office from 1999 to 2007, he pushed through education and Medicaid reform, funding for the restoration of the Everglades, and tax cuts.

    It wasn’t, however, a time without controversy. In the case of Terri Schiavo, he directed doctors to resume life support, despite her being in a vegetative state and against her surviving husband’s wishes. Bush also disagreed with the Clinton administration decision to send Elian Gonzalez, a young boy brought to Miami by extended family, back to Cuba to live with his father.

    If Bush were to win in 2016, it would be historic. No family has ever had three members in the Oval Office. A Marist poll out today shows Bush a few points behind 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, who has said he’s unlikely to run again. Even without Romney in the mix, 2016 is likely to yield another crowded field on the Republican side, with as many as a dozen potential candidates.

    We asked people today from Denver to New York for their reaction to Bush’s announcement.

    WOMAN: I think he’d be great. I liked him. I liked when he was in Florida.

    WOMAN: I don’t think we need another Bush in the White House. I would be open-minded about another Republican.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: If Jeb Bush were to secure the Republican nomination, it could be two familiar families topping the tickets, as former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads on the Democratic side at this point. Another Bush-Clinton contest is sure to raise questions on the power of dynasties in American politics.

    Joining us to talk about those dynasties and what another Bush candidacy might mean are Philip Rucker. He’s a national political correspondent for The Washington Post. And Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today.

    We welcome you both back to the program.

    Phil Rucker, does this mean he’s definitely running? And what — why take this step right now?

    PHILIP RUCKER, The Washington Post: Well, it sure looks like he’s leaning that direction.

    His aide said today that he has not made a final decision, but, you know, a lot of his associates say his head is in that place, that he wants to really begin building out what a campaign might look like. He needs to start raising money. He needs to start identifying some operatives who can work with him. And we expect a final decision about a campaign some time in the next couple months.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Susan, do you expect this means he’s going for it?

    SUSAN PAGE, Washington Bureau Chief, USA Today: Yes.

    I think it’s hard to imagine why he would release 250,000 e-mails unless he thought that was necessary because he’s running for president. I think it’s less that he needs to raise money and get staff. He needs to tell establishment types, establishment fund-raisers and staffers not to go with somebody else, that he’s going to be in the race, to hold on for him. He needs to kind of freeze the race in place.

    And I think he largely succeeded in doing that today.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Susan, does he start — OK, what — let’s talk about what built-in advantages and disadvantages does he bring to this campaign, assuming he’s running.

    SUSAN PAGE: Huge — some huge advantages. Everybody in America knows his family. That’s a burden and a blessing in some ways, but he has the ability to raise money in an instant, to put together a campaign staff.

    Those are all formidable advantages. Some disadvantages, too. People don’t remember the George W. Bush presidency entirely favorably. People remember the Iraq war as being very controversial. And one other disadvantage he has, I think, is it’s been 12 years since he ran for any office. You know, the state of campaigning today is different, faster, more driven by social media than it was the last time he was out there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s right.

    I mean, Phil Rucker, it was 2002 the last time his name was on the ballot, but we noticed today he announced this on Twitter.

    PHILIP RUCKER: He did. He announced it on Twitter and in a statement on Facebook. But there were a couple typos in that statement.

    And he noticeably didn’t have any kind of campaign Web site. There is no video. There’s not the kind of full digital presence that a lot of modern campaigns have. I’m told he’s looking to try to run a digital campaign. They’re trying to hire some good talent. And I expect when he actually announces his final decision in the next few months, there will be much more of a splash.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Phil Rucker, how does this affect the field? Susan mentioned, Susan just said he’s doing this to get his name out there, to say to donors, hey, I’m serious, I’m here, you know, look at this before you make a move.

    What does it mean for the field and for these other many names who are thinking about running?

    PHILIP RUCKER: So, there are huge implications.

    He is going to freeze up a lot of these establishment donors. It basically means that there’s not much space at all for Mitt Romney. He’s basically the same kind of figure as Jeb Bush in this potential primary. And it causes a lot of complications for Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, who was counting on support from a lot of the same donors who appear to be migrating toward Jeb Bush, also Senator Marco Rubio, who is also from Florida.

    There is a lot of overlap in his donor network. And Bush is just a very attractive candidate to some of these donors, for the reasons that Susan identified.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Susan, there are so many names out there. I don’t even know where to begin. In fact, there were brand-new names. I was just reading that South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, the former New York Governor George Pataki are both saying today they’re looking at running for president.

    But how do you see the Bush announcement affecting some other names we have been hearing about, I mean, Rand Paul, the governor of Texas, Rick — former governor of Texas, Rick Perry?

    SUSAN PAGE: I think it makes it hard for Marco Rubio to run and maybe it makes a little bit harder for Christie to run and it affects Mitt Romney.

    But, otherwise, he’s not the field-clearing candidate that Hillary Clinton is on the Democratic side. In polls now, he’s ahead, but not my much. There are some questions about, how he will do in debates? Will Republicans, the Republicans who nominate candidates, be willing to accept his views on immigration and on Common Core, where he’s at odds with where the mainstream of the party is now?

    So, I think that a lot of these candidates we have been hearing about like Rand Paul and Scott Walker, I wouldn’t think that they would be deterred by the idea that Jeb Bush is getting in. Some candidates would be, but I don’t think this is clearing the field. I think we’re going to have a big field on the Republican side and a big fight.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Phil Rucker, already conversation about how Jeb Bush’s big challenge would be in the primaries, where you have more conservative Republican voters making decisions. And he’s certainly not seen at the more conservative end of the spectrum.

    PHILIP RUCKER: He’s not. And that’s interesting, because when he was governor of Florida, he was considered a conservative governor, but his positions on immigration and the Common Core education standards are both potentially lightning rod issues for him in Iowa and South Carolina and some of these other early voting states.

    And you mentioned earlier that he hasn’t been on the ballot since 2002. That’s really the last time we have actually seen him perform as a candidate. We know he generates a lot of enthusiasm among party leaders, among donors, among businessmen and those types of figures, but it’s unclear how he will do in a town hall meeting, for example, in Iowa, or with some of the activists that are really going to nominate the next presidential candidate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Susan, how do you see that and also effect on the Democrats, effect on Hillary Clinton? Do you think her camp is sitting around talking about this today?

    SUSAN PAGE: I think this is great news for Hillary Clinton, because she’s got some disadvantages in terms of being a dynasty, a family that’s been in power for a while. He offsets that very nicely.

    Being a fresh face — it makes her look like a fresher face in contrast to him. In that sense, I think they both — they each do, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, do each some good by minimizing some things that might otherwise be negatives.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s — we have got — here we are just a month after the midterm elections, and we’re already deep into talking about the presidential. But we love it.

    Susan Page, Phil Rucker, we thank you both.

    PHILIP RUCKER: Thank you.

    SUSAN PAGE: Thanks.

    The post What does Jeb Bush’s campaign curiosity mean for other possible candidates? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newswrap

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: This was a day of mourning in Sydney, Australia. The city and nation paid respects to two hostages killed in a daylong standoff yesterday at a downtown cafe.

    John Sparks of Independent Television News filed this report.

    JOHN SPARKS: Today, the people of Sydney found a place to meet and grieve after a terrible 24 hours in their city. This makeshift memorial, one city block from the Lindt cafe, marks the loss of two innocent lives after a self-styled sheik took 17 people hostage.

    The prime minister, Tony Abbott, also laid flowers after admitting there were difficult questions to face. Why, for example, was the hostage taker, Man Haron Monis, allowed to walk into that cafe with a gun?

    TONY ABBOTT, Prime Minister, Australia: How can someone who has had such a long and checkered history not be on the appropriate watch lists and how can someone like that be entirely at large in the community?

    JOHN SPARKS: When the spoke cleared, Man Haron Monis lay dead, as did two of his victims, Katrina Dawson, a barrister and mother or three, and the cafe manager, Tori Johnson, who reportedly tried to seize the gunman’s weapon in the final moments. The authorities said tonight it was an isolated incident, but this 16-hour siege has shocked the nation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The gunman was allowed to enter Australia as a refugee from Iran in the late 1990s. Iranian officials said today that they tried to extradite him, but were refused.

    Two suicide car bombings in Yemen killed at least 26 people today south of the capital, Sanaa. The first vehicle exploded at a Shiite rebel checkpoint as a school bus passed. At least 16 students were among the dead. A second blast struck the home of a Shiite leader. The rebels blamed Sunni militants from al-Qaida. The two factions are battling for control of parts of Yemen.

    In Syria, Islamist fighters have captured a major military base after 100 government troops and 80 militants were killed in two days of fighting. The base at Wadi al-Deif is located on the main north-south highway linking the capital, Damascus, to Aleppo. Syrian activists say the militants included members of al-Qaida’s Syrian branch called the Nusra Front.

    Back in this country, a Pennsylvania man suspected of killing his ex-wife and five of her relatives was found dead today. Iraq war veteran Bradley William Stone had been the subject of an intensive manhunt for 24 hours. His body was discovered in the woods near his home in Pennsburg, just north of Philadelphia.

    RISA VETRI FERMAN, District Attorney, Montgomery County, PA: We have not received official confirmation from the coroner as to the cause and manner of death, but based upon what we found at the scene, we believe that he died of self-inflicted cutting wounds in the center part of his body.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Stone’s killing rampage unfolded in three separate towns within a few miles of each other. Some schools in the area closed today out of caution.

    A hackers group warned Americans today to avoid a new Sony Pictures movie. The Guardians of Peace threatened a “bitter fate” — quote — for anyone who goes to theaters showing the movie “The Interview.”  It’s a comedy about a CIA plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says it hasn’t yet found credible evidence of an active plot. Last month, the hackers group broke into Sony Pictures’ computer system and released everything from financial data to embarrassing e-mails.

    The district attorney in Los Angeles will not file charges against Bill Cosby for allegedly molesting a teenager in 1974. The L.A. County prosecutor’s office said today the statute of limitations has expired. A woman had accused the comedian of forcing her to perform a sex act when she was 15. She’s one of a number of women to charge that Cosby sexually assaulted them over the years.

    This was another roller-coaster day for the price of crude oil. It was down sharply in early trading in New York, but as the day wore on, the price rallied, and ended the day about where it had begun. Wall Street also staged a rally, but it could not hold on. In the end, the Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 112 points to close below 17,069. The Nasdaq fell 57 points to close under 4,548. And the S&P 500 slipped almost 17 to finish at 1,972.

    The post News Wrap: Sydney mourns hostage victims appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    pakistanattack

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The people of Pakistan were staggered today by the worst terror attack in at least seven years. When it was over, scores of young students lay dead at the hands of Taliban gunmen.

    Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner begins our coverage.

    MARGARET WARNER: The wounded children were brought to a hospital in Peshawar, one after another, some on stretchers, others in the arms of teachers or parents, their dark green school uniforms bloody. Most of the dead were students at a military-run school for first-through-10th graders, along with nine staffers. Classes were under way when the Taliban killers stormed in.

    STUDENT (through interpreter): As soon as the firing started, our teacher made us sit in a corner and told us to lower our heads. After around an hour, army personnel came and rescued us. We saw in the corridors our friends who had been shot three or four times, some dead and some injured. Their blood had spilled all over the place.

    MAN (through interpreter): I’m the physics lab assistant. We were sitting in the canteen. We saw six people climbing from the wall. We thought it must be the children playing some game. But then we saw a lot of firearms with them. They started firing at us, so we ran into the classrooms and closed the doors.

    MARGARET WARNER: Army commandos ended the siege eight hours later. Officials said seven attackers, all wearing explosive vests, were killed.

    The Taliban attacks Pakistani schools frequently, but never on the scale of today’s slaughter. The Pakistani Taliban claimed it was in retaliation for a new government military offensive in North Waziristan. That’s a tribal area west of Peshawar used as a base by Taliban and other extremist groups to launch terror attacks in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    For years, the United States had urged Pakistan’s government to clear out the safe haven, to no effect. But, in June, after a militant assault on Karachi’s international airport that killed dozens, Pakistani forces launched a concerted campaign in North Waziristan, and recently boasted of killing nearly 2,000 militants there.

    Rushing to Peshawar today, Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, vowed, the military offensive will not falter.

    NAWAZ SHARIF, Prime Minister, Pakistan (through interpreter): This is a barbaric act, this high level of terrorism. We condemn this act strongly. Our wishes go to the families who lost their loved ones. I must say that the struggle will continue until we clean our country of this terrorism. There are no doubts about that.

    MARGARET WARNER: And, in London, Secretary of State John Kerry joined in the worldwide condemnation.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: Mothers and fathers send their kids to school to learn, and to be safe and to dream and to find opportunity. Instead, today, they are gone, wiped away by Taliban assassins who serve a dark and almost medieval vision.

    MARGARET WARNER: As night fell in Pakistan, families held the first of scores of funerals for the dead. Hundreds of other Pakistanis gathered to mourn at candlelight vigils.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Later, Afghanistan’s Taliban, a separate faction, condemned the attack on the Pakistani school as — quote — “against Islam.”

    For the latest on the brutal school attack, we turn to reporter Tim Craig of The Washington Post. He is in Islamabad, Pakistan. I spoke to him a short time ago.

    Tim Craig, thank you for talking with us.

    First of all, how are people reacting to this? What are they saying?

    TIM CRAIG, The Washington Post: It’s just incredibly sad. When you’re in Pakistan long enough, these are the sort of routine, violent attacks. Terrorism attacks are nothing new.

    But this took everything to a whole new level. To have the Taliban go into a school and basically have massacre of more than 100 schoolchildren, it sort of touched a very open, raw nerve with people, and it’s just very sad.

    Many people are referring to this as sort of Pakistan’s version of 9/11. I was out earlier today in Islamabad for a while, while this was transpiring. And you could just see people staring at a television sort of with that glassy-eyed stare that we remember from the U.S. on September 11, when people were just watching in shock and disbelief that this was actually happening now in their country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: This was a military-run school. Are there questions raised about why there wasn’t more security?

    TIM CRAIG: I think that’s going to be a big debate and discussion in the coming days and the coming hours as this continues to kind of unfold. It is a military-run school. It’s sort of located on the outskirts of a military containment or a base.

    And you would think there would be more security, but when you work and live in Pakistan, you often can sort of spot little things that happen that, you know, it sort of makes you wonder why the security wasn’t better. A couple months ago, there was a major attack at the Karachi Airport where the suicide bombers made it on the runway, able to bomb, you know, aircraft or try to bomb aircraft with explosive devices and caused several large fires on the runway.

    And that was another example of, like, how could this happen, where was the security? Obviously, it’s a major lapse. But, at the same time, as people in the U.S. even know and the West even know, schools generally are pretty soft targets. Thankfully, there have not been more serious major terrorist attacks targeting schools, but there are many ways into schools. They do have security in some corridors and entryways, but they generally are fairly soft targets across the world.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Why is the Pakistani Taliban targeting these schools? And they said it was in retaliation for the military’s offensive against the militants in this part of the country. Is that an offensive that’s been successful?

    TIM CRAIG: There does seem to be some indication that the offensive has pushed the Pakistan Taliban sort of out of some of their traditional safe havens in North Waziristan.

    The operation began in earnest this summer, in June. It involved airstrikes, as well as a sustained ground campaign. And they have been dislodged. Many military analysts here said this sort of shows that they’re up on their heels, that they’re now targeting softer targets. They’re looking for targets of opportunity.

    But, still, this attack was so horrific and such a — just a massacre of so many students, that many people believe this may have crossed some sort of line in terms of public opinion. You know, the Pakistan Taliban is not widely supported in Pakistan. Many people do not support them, do not agree with them, and actually speak out against them, but for years this has been going on where there has been this tolerance of the Pakistan Taliban and what they were able to do in the northwestern part of the country.

    This, many people believe, is sort of a red line that will not be tolerated. And there will be I’m sure in the coming days calls for even tougher and more stringent military action to try to deal with this one way or another finally once and for all.

    At the same time, this operation, you know, this is a multiyear struggle. It’s a multiyear war. And I don’t think anyone expects it’s going to be over soon or even in the coming three, five years. This will still be going on.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tim Craig, you’re right, such a sad, sad thing to have happened today. We thank you.

    TIM CRAIG: Thank you very much.

    The post Taliban massacre of schoolchildren shocks Pakistan 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: You’ll need to look backwards and forwards, up, down and diagonally to find the names of your favorite NewsHour anchors, guests, recurring segments and more hidden in this word jumble.

    Dec. 17: Invite your relatives, neighbors, roommates and friends to join you for a rousing game of NewsHour bingo. Break out this five card set at your annual holiday party, or save it for a rainy day in the New Year.

    Dec. 18:

    Dec. 19:

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


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    Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen, seen in this February file photo,  said . Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen, seen in this February file photo, held her final news conference of the year Wednesday. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    The Federal Reserve turned financial commentators into would-be linguists Wednesday. The Open Market Committee did not raise interest rates, but it did alter the language used to describe its willingness to wait to raise interest rates.

    Most notably, the FOMC said “it can be patient in beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy.” It’s the word “patient” that’s new here. Their previous statement, released in October, had simply said the Fed expected to keep the Federal Funds rate low “for a considerable time following the end of its asset purchase program.”

    Wednesday’s statement, released at the end of the FOMC’s last meeting of the year, did not remove the “considerable time” language; it just shifted its placement. And while the inclusion of the word “patient” — a rare in change in usually very formulaic FOMC statements — provoked confusion among commentators and the market, Chairwoman Janet Yellen emphasized in her press conference that a change in language did not signify a change in policy.

    The reason they changed the language, Yellen said, is because the asset purchase program to which they referred in October is now over. The Fed ended quantitative easing at its October meeting. “It seemed less helpful,” Yellen said Wednesday, “to continue to communicate about the possible timing of our first rate increase with reference to an event that is receding into the past.” Instead, she said, they adopted the word “patient” as a way of looking ahead to the labor market conditions and inflation measures that might cause them to raise rates in the future.

    But the FOMC doesn’t expect that normalization of rates — what Yellen repeatedly called “liftoff” — to happen for at least “a couple” of FOMC meetings. Most committee participants, Yellen said, expect to raise rates sometime in 2015.

    The Wall Street Journal’s Fed Statement Tracker highlights all of the changes between October’s and Wednesday’s FOMC releases.

    The post Federal Reserve expresses patience on rate raises appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A Shiite student of the Imamia Students Organization in Karachi, Pakistan holds a poster decrying the extremist group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan during a protest on Dec. 17 against an attack by Taliban militants at an army-run school in Peshawar the previous day. Photo by Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

    A Shiite student of the Imamia Students Organization in Karachi, Pakistan holds a poster decrying the extremist group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan during a protest on Dec. 17 against an attack by Taliban militants at an army-run school in Peshawar the previous day. Photo by Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

    A day after the Taliban in Pakistan brutally attacked a school, protesters raised their voices Wednesday against the extremist violence and held candlelight vigils to show their solidarity.

    The hours-long siege on the Army Public School and Degree College in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Tuesday by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan ended with the death of 148 people, most of them students. Some of the pupils were in classes and others were attending a seminar on first aid when the attackers burst into their rooms.

    According to witnesses, the gunmen asked the students if they were the children of army officers, said Aneela Khalid, a reporter at Khyber News in Peshawar. The children who said yes were shot in the head to make sure they were dead, she said. “They were especially after kids and teachers who belonged to military families.”

    At first the gunmen shot the students, said Khalid. But when they ran out of bullets, they used knives. And they terrorized the students by killing a teacher and lighting her body on fire in front of them.

    A view of the debris of the army-run school that was attacked by Taliban militants on Dec. 16 in Peshawar, Pakistan. Photo by Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    A view of the debris of the army-run school that was attacked by Taliban militants on Dec. 16 in Peshawar, Pakistan. Photo by Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    While walking around the streets on Wednesday, Khalid observed that many shops and schools were closed. “Everybody was sad. I saw many people crying,” she said by phone. Funerals for the dozens of students and school staff already had begun.

    The battered school remains closed and it’s unknown when it will reopen, said Khalid. People are “scared and disappointed” with how the perpetrators could have entered the school unnoticed, she said.

    The terrorist act, however, is serving as a unifying force for political leaders and people in Pakistan, who are holding protests in several cities demanding an end to the violence, according to Khalid.

    “People are confused when it comes to the Taliban. They don’t understand who these people are. But they know one thing — that these are people who want to destroy innocent people and are against humanity and against Pakistan,” she said.

    Children and their parents in Noida, India, light candles for the victims of the Taliban attack on the school in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Dec. 17. Photo by Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

    Children and their parents in Noida, India, light candles for the victims of the Taliban attack on the school in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Dec. 17. Photo by Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

    Over the summer, the Pakistani government launched a military operation to uproot extremists in the North Waziristan tribal region. Since then, people in nearby Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and its provincial capital Peshawar have been bracing for revenge attacks, said Khalid.

    But nothing happened for awhile, she said, so people began moving around freely. The school that came under attack on Tuesday didn’t have extra security.

    “Ultimately, the people from this area face trouble with the insurgency,” so they are the ones who want peace the most, she said. And they don’t want terrorists living among them, whether they agree with the extremist agenda or not.

    The post School attack drives Pakistan protests on extremism appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The wealth gap between upper and middle-income Americans is at a 30-year high. Photo by Flickr user Noël.

    The wealth gap between upper and middle-income Americans is at a 30-year high. Photo by Flickr user Noël.

    An unemployment rate that’s the lowest since 2008 and 321,000 jobs added in Novemberwith wage growth? On top of average monthly job gains of 224,000 for the past 12 months? Sounds like an economy on the mend.

    But for whom? Middle class incomes have been essentially flat during the so-called recovery, while the wealth gap between middle-income and upper-income families in 2013 was the largest it’s been in 30 years of consumer finance surveys. That’s according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data released by the Pew Research Center Wednesday.

    Upper-income families enjoyed a median wealth in 2013 of $639,400 — seven times the median wealth of middle-income families, which has remained at about $96,500 since 2010 — and 70 times the median wealth of America’s lower-income families.

    Although more Americans than in the recent past admit to hearing good news about the job market, according to a Pew report released earlier this week, it’s no secret that there’s a disconnect between the headlines and a middle class that’s feeling squeezed. Voters this fall overwhelmingly reported being worried about the economy, and even in red states, they backed liberal ballot initiatives (like a higher minimum wage) that might expand their pocketbooks.

    Perhaps that’s because although all wealth groups saw a decline in their net worth during the 2007-2009 recession, only the richest have made up many of their losses in this recovery. Plus, their wealth didn’t decline by nearly as much to begin with. That’s made for an economic recovery with a widening wealth gap.

    Pew - wealth gains

    As a result, Pew reports, the recovery “has yet to be felt” by Americans on the lower end of that gap. But just who exactly are those Americans?

    Americans, especially politicians, throw around the term “middle class” fairly loosely these days, but Wednesday’s Pew analysis provides a helpful breakdown of America’s classes.

    Their methodology relies on income to stratify Americans, but remember that what they (and the Federal Reserve) are looking at is wealth. Often used interchangeably, the two are not the same. Wealth, sometimes called net worth, is the difference between a family’s assets and debts. Assets could be financial or more tangible, like a house or car. Household income refers to earnings, income and wages. So a house you just own — that’s wealth. A house you collect rent on — that’s income.

    Just 21 percent of us are upper-income families. Middle-income families made up the largest proportion of American families at 46 percent. That’s actually slightly higher than the 44 percent of Americans who self-identified as middle class in the beginning of 2014. Thirty-three percent of American families were lower-income in 2013.

    Pew - class

    So where does your family fit? If your family of three makes $114,300 or more a year, you’re part of the upper-income distribution. That’s significantly higher than the $38,100 a family of three needs to be considered middle-income. Keep in mind that the federal poverty line for a family of three is $19,970. And as the University of Washington’s Diana Pearce told Paul Solman last year (watch below), it takes more than that — much more — to even get by in most American cities.

    The post Why the middle class is not feeling a recovery appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    12DaysBanner_FinalAre you worried about missing out on time with friends and family during the hour you set aside each night to watch PBS NewsHour? Then today’s gift is for you. Invite your relatives, neighbors, roommates and friends to join you for a rousing game of NewsHour BINGO. Break out this five card set at your annual holiday party, or save it for a rainy day in the New Year. Let us know how the game turns out on social media using #12DaysofNewsHour.

    This gift marks Day 10 in our 12 Days of NewsHour. So far, we challenged you to solve this crossword, and this word jumble. We invited you to download a new voicemail message and cell phone ringtone. We offered up several recipes to satisfy your cravings for baked goods both sweet and savory. We also presented you with two NewsHour-themed crafts, seen here and here. And don’t forget our very first gift, the first ad-free, longplay 4K video of a crackling fireplace on Youtube.

    12 Days Bingo: Card 1

    12 Days Bingo Card 5

    12 Days Bingo Card 2

    12 Days Bingo Card 3

    12 Days Card 4

    The post 12 Days of NewsHour: Let’s play BINGO appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    capitol_scaffolding

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: At 11:25 p.m. Eastern time last night, the gavel came down on the U.S. Senate, ending the 113th Congress, the least productive in terms of bills passed in the modern era.

    Tonight, we look at the many longtime members of Congress who have just left office in their own words.

    Politics editor Lisa Desjardins brings us what we can learn when politicians say farewell.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The building that is seen by many as a symbol of dysfunction, but, in the past month, those leaving the Capitol behind have made final arguments for its strength.

    WOMAN: Madam President, it is with great honor and gratitude.

    MAN: It has been a true honor.

    SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS, (R) Georgia: To represent almost 10 million Georgians, who are the most wonderful people God ever put on this earth.

    SEN. TOM HARKIN, (D) Iowa: Now, now the leaving becomes hard, and wrenching, and emotional. And that’s because I love the United States Senate.

    MAN: I love the intensity of the work, the gravity of the issues. I love fighting for West Virginia here.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Many, most, in fact, defended the institution.

    SEN. CARL LEVIN, (D) Michigan: Now, I have been asked many times if I am leaving the Senate out of frustration with gridlock. The answer is no.

    SEN. TOM HARKIN: The Senate’s not broken, oh, maybe a few dents, a couple scraps here and there.

    LISA DESJARDINS: But a few went out railing against one thing: the influence of money.

    MAN: The cruelty of perpetual campaigns destroys our ability to fulfill our oath of office.

    SEN. TIM JOHNSON, (D) South Dakota: Days after the 2014 election, you could walk into the call center for either party and find members dialing for dollars for 2016. Tonight, there will be fund-raisers across D.C. where members will discuss policy not with their constituents, but with organizations that contribute to their campaigns.

    Mr. President, we have lost our way.

    SEN. MARK PRYOR, (D) Arkansas: The Republicans have a great opportunity in 2015 and 2016. They convinced the voters that they are the party that can govern. Now it’s time for them to turn off the rhetoric and turn on the governing.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Not just farewells, but think of these words as perhaps the most unfiltered look at each lawmaker’s top priorities.

    SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, (D) Louisiana: There has never been a time when America has been closer to energy independence, and what that means to our country is just beyond description.

    SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS: It is imperative that the issue of the debt of this country be addressed. Just last week, our total debt surpassed $18 trillion. Hard and tough votes will have to be taken, but that’s why we get elected to the United States Senate.

    SEN. CARL LEVIN: This growing gulf between a fortunate few and a struggling many is a threat to the dream that has animated this nation since its founding.

    REP. HOWARD “BUCK” MCKEON, (R) California: Remember the great sacrifice that our troops and their families and loved ones at home are making around the world.

    SEN. TOM COBURN, (R) Oklahoma: Your whole goal is to protect the United States of America, its Constitution and its liberties. It is not to provide benefits for your state. That is where we differ. That is where my conflict with my colleagues has come.

    LISA DESJARDINS: One bipartisan theme, gratitude.

    SEN. MARY LANDRIEU: I’m not the least bit sad and I’m not the least bit afraid, because it’s just been a remarkable opportunity to serve with all of you.

    REP. MIKE ROGERS, (R) Michigan: This is my chance to really say thank you. And I had a heck of a good ride.

    MAN: I think, first and foremost, of course, God.

    REP. HOWARD “BUCK” MCKEON: My family.

    People say, boy, we love you, your Christmas card.

    SEN. TOM COBURN: A great thank you to the wonderful staff I have had.

    SEN. CARL LEVIN: My mentor, my big brother, Sandy. Congress is keeping the better half of team Levin.

    SEN. MARY LANDRIEU: Senator Ted Stevens, who was as grumpy as can be, but really did take me under his wing.

    WOMAN: God bless you. God bless our fabulous country. Thank you, Madam President. I yield the floor.

    MAN: President, I yield the floor.

    MAN: Thank you, Madam President, I yield the floor.

    SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS: Mr. President, I yield the floor.

    SEN. TOM COBURN: Yield the floor.

    SEN. TOM HARKIN: For the last time, I yield the floor.

    (APPLAUSE)

    LISA DESJARDINS: Lisa Desjardins, “PBS NewsHour.”

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Some words worth listening to and worth remembering from departing members.

    The post Exiting lawmakers yield the floor, but not before saying farewell appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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