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

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    shieldsbrooks

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The terrorist attacks in France overshadowed the Republican takeover of Congress this week.

    But we cover both these developments and more as we turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    And welcome, gentlemen, both of you.

    So we have been transfixed this week by the awful events in France. And just a few minutes ago, we reported the State Department putting out a worldwide alert to Americans traveling abroad.

    David, what are we — what do we learn from all this?  What do we take away from this?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, the story has so many facets.

    The thing about war is your enemies define — remind you who you are. And so we are reminded of our belief in pluralism and our belief in multiculturalism. But there are just a range of issues. How is Europe going to react from this?  Will they go to Le Pen?  Will they not?  How do we think about our security issues?

    When I think back home, I think of how we think about tolerance. And the point I try to make that everyone was saying, I am — Je suis Charlie, or I am with Charlie Hebdo. But if Charlie Hebdo, the magazine, newspaper tried to open up on any college campus in this country, they would be shut down in 30 seconds. They would run afoul of every political correctness, every hate speech code, because they are offensive in some ways.

    And so my point for this country is that if we are going to tolerate offensive talk, or if we’re going to expect, frankly Islamist radicals to tolerate offensive talk, then we have to tolerate offensive talk. And we have to invite people to speak at our campuses who are offensive some of the time. And we have to widen our latitude in that area.

    And this should be a reminder that we have cracked down on that and we have strangled debate. And if you are going to stand up and say I’m with Charlie, then you should also stand up at home and say, I protect people even if they offend me.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, should the Americans think about making — taking a stand on freedom of expression based on what happened?

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

    No, I think David’s point about the campuses and how debate and controversy and speakers are banned or disinvited and so forth is absolutely legitimate and valid.

    I do think, Judy, that this story, not simply because of the brutality, but because of the targets — it was journalists. And journalists cover journalism. If it had been 12 teachers, 12 bankers, it wouldn’t have had the same worldwide or national impact.

    It is attacking the basic — the basic freedom of expression. But I think the reaction — you ask what the takeaway will be. I think that it will be predictable. And that is, the terrorists will prevail, in the sense that they will change the terms of the debate. We will become less welcoming. We will become less open. We will become more…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean not just in Europe, but here in the United States?

    MARK SHIELDS: No, I just think that’s the reaction.

    And I think that it probably invites copycat attempts, given the level of attention that this has received, and legitimately so. And it is a fundamental question. Do we then villainize an entire people, religion, which is a terrible consequence, but a possible one, from actions like this, given who the villains and the killers were?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it inevitable, David, that there is just more suspicion now of people who are or look Muslim because of something like that?

    DAVID BROOKS: I think it’s too early to tell.

    Say, France — there have been a few things rising in France, so, obviously, through European history, through French history, there has been a suspicion of the other, like in most parts of the world. And so there may be a turn to the extreme right, to the Le Pen party or whatever.

    I’m not sure we should assume that will happen. There is going to be a big march President Hollande has called for this weekend. There could be a rallying. And it is certainly possible for most human beings and most people to make the distinction between regular Muslims and the radicals.

    I was in Israel for the last two weeks. And I frankly went to Israel expecting that the country, over the many years I have been going there, 20 years or so, had turned a little more racist, a little more anti-Arab in general. And I guess, in the conversations I had, I was surprised that people are still completely able to make the distinction between the good, honest, respectful Arabs, respectful Muslims that are the vast majority and the small Islamists. That’s the distinction I found constantly in Israel.

    And Europeans are completely capable of making that distinction, as most Americans are. So, I’m hopeful it will not turn into some blanket group label and that we will be able to make that distinction, as we did pretty much after 9/11.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Where do you come down on that, Mark?

    MARK SHIELDS: I think it strengthens — an act like this strengthens the hand of those who are not welcoming, who are less inclusive, who are suspicious. I don’t think there’s any question.

    If you were picking political futures right now, in France, where President Hollande has the lowest ratings in the history of the Fifth Republic, that, you know, you would say that Le Pen is — I think he’s handled it well, all the rest of it, reaching out to his predecessor, with whom he’s not at all close.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Hollande, yes.

    MARK SHIELDS: It has — and to Le Pen as well.

    But I just think that there’s a natural closing-down. A concern for safety, and a concern for security means that I’m willing to surrender some of those freedoms. That is what — the predictable reaction. I hope it doesn’t result in villainizing and in demonizing an entire group of people by their faith.

    We wouldn’t want to do that to Christians, of whom I am one, by the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church or the Ku Klux Klan, who operated with a cross as their symbol. But I’m just — I’m fearful of this, and especially where ignorance and not — lack of knowledge and openness with each other leads to such suspicions.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: When there’s this alert that goes out to Americans wherever they are outside the country to be much more watchful.

    DAVID BROOKS: Right.

    Well, I do think one of the other things it underlines is why the NSA exists, why — we have had so many stories on overreach by the NSA and then the whole Edward Snowden thing.

    And yet, if — as we heard earlier on the program, we are less likely to see sustained terror organizations, but a series of lone wolves who are sort of self-motivated at least, then you just need to use some of the technology that we have to supervise and try to intercept their communications.

    And if — we all understand the costs of that. We are all a little freaked out about it. And yet if that’s a way to prevent an event like this, maybe to intercept some communications from these brothers, that’s a price a lot of us would be — well, at least we would consider.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But civil libertarians, Mark, are out there saying no.

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, the NSA has been, in many respects, its own worst enemy. When you start following Quaker meetings and the rest of it, it just sort of raises the question of where their priorities are.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s talk for a minute. We want to save a few minutes to talk about Congress opened up a new session. The Republicans have taken over.

    Mark, are we looking for something different in the Senate?

    MARK SHIELDS: We have already found it. We found it, Judy.

    Senator McConnell, the new majority leader of the Senate, has already told us that the biggest growth in jobs in the past 15 years, which has occurred this year, 5 percent economic growth in the third quarter, occurred because of Americans anticipating the Republicans taking over the Senate.

    And, you know, so I don’t know what more difference you could ask for, that we had 59 consecutive months. There was a long period of gestation and anticipation of the Republicans taking over that has led to this economic recovery.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tongue in cheek.

    (LAUGHTER)

    MARK SHIELDS: No, I think what we saw this week is that they’re getting their sea legs.

    We are going through Groundhog Day. We’re passing again what we passed before, whether it’s in Obamacare, or we’re going to limit the number of people who are covered by Obamacare that employers have to cover for those working 40 hours, rather than 30 hours. And turns out it’s going to cost $42 billion to the Treasury, which is not funded.

    So, the Republicans at some point are going to have to conclude, they need a record to stand on for the next two years. They are going to have to do something. I think they will be some meeting with the president on some issues that most Democrats, rank-and-file Democrats are not totally comfortable with, such as the trade proposals that — fast track, that the president and Republicans endorse.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What should we look for?

    DAVID BROOKS: I have been spending in advance of the Republican Congress, drilling oil, shale oil, my Democratic friends taking Prozac.

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAVID BROOKS: A lot of spending going on.

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAVID BROOKS: I think a couple of things to really look for — they need to pass stuff.

    I don’t know if they need to pass stuff. They need to get stuff to President Obama’s desk. So, a couple things they need to think about. They can’t do it without moderate Democrats. They have got to go to Mark Warner of Virginia. They have got to go to people like that, and even if it means losing some people on the right of their own party.

    And so that is just the strategy. And this is the strategy you have been waiting for from President Obama or somebody else to try to craft a governing majority. Whether Mitch McConnell wants to do that, whether he can do it, if he wants to get stuff to President Obama’s desk, he has to do it.

    And so I will be curious to see if he’s creative enough to do it. He has a different sort of Senate than we’re used to seeing; 53 members of the Senate have now served in the House. That’s a record. And so they bring a different set of manners into the body. It’s an incredibly young Senate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Manners meaning better, or worse?

    DAVID BROOKS: Worse. Worse.

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAVID BROOKS: The House operates in a certain way. And it operates in the way where the majority just pummels the minority.

    And so if they bring that over, then that’s not good. It’s — I don’t know if this is hopeful or not. It is an amazingly young body. Marco Rubio is now like the eighth from the bottom in age. And that guy is like 16. I think 10 members of the Senate are now born in the 1970s.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Whoa. We’re really getting young. We’re really getting young.

    DAVID BROOKS: I’m covering the baby corps here.

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAVID BROOKS: So I don’t know what that will mean, but it’s a different sort of body. And we will see what kind of leadership McConnell brings.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of Marco Rubio, there are a few people who have already — it’s only January the 9th, Mark. And we’re already — this week, we not only heard from Jeb Bush that he is seriously looking at running for president, put out a — I guess he has announced a political action committee, Right to Rise.

    But just this afternoon, Mitt Romney, we reported, has told some donors, it’s OK to go out and tell people I’m thinking about running.

    Are we — do you see the shape of the 2016 list of candidates?

    MARK SHIELDS: I think that Jeb Bush had a superb week, I mean, by announcing early, forcing the hand of several other people, including Governor Romney, by — especially by…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you think that is what happened?

    MARK SHIELDS: … saying he revealed — he’s going to reveal his taxes, the taxes he’s paid for the last 10 years. That puts a lot of pressure on everybody else to do the same.

    Mitt Romney is at this position. He has a chance, Judy, to rewrite the first line of his obituary. The first line of the obituary now is, Mitt Romney, who was governor of Massachusetts and Republican nominee who lost for the presidency in 2012, died in Ogden, Utah, yesterday.

    He has a chance, he feels, to win, and to run and to win. He leads in the polls, so it’s awfully tempting.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Twenty seconds.

    DAVID BROOKS: I don’t think so.

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAVID BROOKS: You can tell what kind of a conservative somebody is by what year they want to go back to. And I don’t think they want to go back to Romney.

     

    I have a feeling he wants to run. People like him. They always tell him, oh, you should run, you should run. When he actually goes to the donors, will they actually give him actual green money?  I’m skeptical.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Green money, that’s going to be the test.

    (LAUGHTER)

    MARK SHIELDS: That’s truly green money.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you.

    MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

    The post Shields and Brooks on Paris terrorism and tolerance, GOP takeover in Congress appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney told several donors on Friday that he’s seriously considering a third run for the White House, a change for the 2012 GOP nominee after months of insisting his career in politics is over.

    Romney attended a private gathering of donors at the New York offices of Woody Johnson, a leading Romney donor in 2012 and owner of the New York Jets, two people with direct knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press.

    Romney, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2008 and 2012, has repeatedly insisted he would not run again. Both spoke under condition of anonymity, because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the private discussions. The meeting was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

    The news from Romney comes as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush marches swiftly toward a 2016 bid of his own, which threatens to win much of the support from the Republican establishment that fueled Romney’s last campaign. Some donors who gave to Romney have already privately committed to Bush, who has spent recent weeks hosting private fundraising meetings across the country.

    While the first primary contests in the 2016 race are roughly a year away, and no one has formally declared their candidacy, more than a dozen high-profile candidates are considering getting into the race.

    In addition to Johnson, Friday’s meeting with Romney included Emil Henry Jr., an assistant treasury secretary in Bush administration; Alexander Navab, of the financial firm KKR; Patrick Durkin, a managing director at Barclays; Clifford Sobel, managing partner of Valor Capital Group; and Edward C. Forst, CEO at Cushman & Wakefield.

    Romney, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2008 and 2012, has repeatedly insisted he would not run again.

    At a political rally in New Hampshire last summer, Romney said he would “get behind the one who I think has the best chance of winning.”

    “We’ll get someone who can win,” he added.

    The post Mitt Romney tells donors he’s considering a run for the White House appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    communitycollege

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama was back on the road previewing some of his new proposals for his State of the Union speech. He unveiled an ambitious plan to offer two years of free tuition for community college.

    But there are questions about the details and whether it even has the right goals.

    Again to Hari Sreenivasan for that story.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Thank you so much. Thank you.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The president spoke at a community college in Knoxville, Tennessee, where a state program on which the president’s federal proposal is partially modeled will be available to students who graduate high school this year.

    Nearly 90 percent of Tennessee’s high school seniors have already applied for that plan. The federal plan would cover full- and half-time students who maintain a 2.5-point grade average, and apply to colleges that offer credit toward a four-year degree or occupational training in high-demand fields.

    The president said all students should have similar opportunities, but have to work for it.

    BARACK OBAMA: Students would have to do their part by keeping their grades up. Colleges would have do their part by offering high-quality academics and helping students actually graduate. States would have to their part too. This isn’t a blank check. But for those willing to do the work, it can be a game-changer.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The federal government would fund 75 percent of tuition costs, estimated at $60 billion over 10 years. Participating states would pick up the remaining 25 percent. The administration says its plan could cover as many as nine million students over a decade if all 50 states participate.

    Several Republicans said they were not ready to support it. Senator and former Education Secretary Lamar Alexander, who was in attendance at the president’s event today, wrote that states should follow their own path, not a federal one. With Republicans now firmly in control in the Congress, the president’s proposal may be a hard sell.

    Two views now about this proposal and what it could mean for access and affordability.

    Josh Wyner is the executive director of the College Excellence Program at the Aspen Institute. Andrew Kelly is the director of the Center on Higher Education Reform at AEI, the American Enterprise Institute.

    Josh, when you hear about the idea of free community college for all, how happy are you about this?

    JOSH WYNER, Aspen Institute: Well, I think the president’s proposal recognizes that we have to do something bold about higher education in our country.

    The fact of the matter is that we’re projected within the next decade to need an educated work force that — where 60 percent of Americans have a college degree. And, today, just over 40 percent have one.

    The second dynamic I think this addresses is that we have got a gap between rich and poor that’s growing in our country. And we still have lots of Americans, low-income Americans, African-American folks in the country, who don’t get access to higher education. This is dealing with both of those.

    It offers promise both to meet the need for a more educated citizenry and to start to give people an opportunity to enter the middle class who otherwise might not have that opportunity.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, Andrew, will free increase the success rate of students?

    ANDREW KELLY, American Enterprise Institute: Look, the truth of the matter is, community college is already exceptionally affordable.

    If you look across the country, the average net price of tuition after subtracting out grants and scholarships is essentially zero for most students, meaning that they don’t pay a dime to go to community college. Yet, their graduation rates tend to hover around 30 percent.

    Assuming that just making college tuition free at these institutions is going to somehow automatically increase student success rates, I think, is really naive.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Josh, what about the argument that this is not the place of the federal government, that is perhaps something that states should decide?

    JOSH WYNER: Well, first of all, on the ground, community college students are in fact working full-time jobs, a third of them, and 75 percent some jobs, in order to make ends meet.

    Even though tuition is covered by current federal policy, federal grants for low-income students, the full cost of attendance is not. So, on the ground, the reality is that community college students are struggling to make ends meet.

    And, sure, it’s important that states do their part and roll up their sleeves. But, throughout history, the federal government has taken bold steps to increase equality of access to education and to ensure that all Americans get access to what our country needs as a whole to drive forward, again, economic mobility, as well as drive economic competitiveness of the country.

    So I think, absolutely, there is a role for a partnership here, which is what this is. The dollars would be funneled through states to colleges to serve students. And the federal government needs to play a role and states need to play a role.

    And I think that, given the public good that can come from much higher education access and attainment, both should be making an investment.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Andrew, what about that idea, that this is the role of the federal government, to take these big leaps forward for societal goods?

    ANDREW KELLY: I think, when you really dig into this proposal, it actually reads a lot more like a federal reform agenda for community colleges dressed up as free tuition.

    When you look at the fact sheet that the White House released today, what you see is a laundry list of policies and reforms that states and community colleges would have to adopt, all in the hopes of fixing community colleges from Washington.

    I’m skeptical that that’s something that the federal government is well-suited to take on. And I think there are ways that we can encourage colleges to do better, without necessarily making college free and governing them in a top-down fashion from inside the Beltway.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Josh, this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The Republicans now control Congress. What is the political possibility that this gets through?

    JOSH WYNER: Well, this is a bold proposal. And I have to think — I think we have to think about this as a long-term prospect.

    I think, fundamentally, we are changing the idea. Once upon a time, a century ago, high school wasn’t universal for our country. I think this is putting a marker down and saying, in today’s society, in order to have a chance to get into the middle class, in order to fuel economic growth for our country, we need more people with a college credential.

    And whether this gets through in this Congress and with the gridlock, I think it’s going to be tough, or is a part of the next election cycle or a future Congress, I think the idea that is being put forth here, which is that we need to take a bold step to fundamentally reset our expectation for what it means to be prepared to contribute to our economy and to move forward into the middle class.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Andrew Kelly, you get the final word here. The political likelihood of taking this bold step?

    ANDREW KELLY: Well, I think Josh is actually right on this.

    And the broader point here is that, the political realities aside and the technical details of the proposal, this is something that we will now debate because it is on the national agenda. It is highly likely that it becomes a plank in the Democratic platform, frankly. So, it’s something we will be talking about for the next decade at least, I would imagine.

    So it is really time now to have a full debate about the right way to spend our dollars and the right way to make sure that all students have access to an option that fits their needs.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK, Andrew Kelly, Josh Wyner, we will have you back over the next decade to continue this debate.

    Thanks so much for joining us.

    JOSH WYNER: Thanks so much.

    ANDREW KELLY: Thank you.

    PBS NewsHour education coverage is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    The post Would free tuition boost student success at community colleges? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The latest jobs report, as you heard, shows the economy seems to keep building better momentum than expected. Still, more jobs is not the same thing as rising wages. And that continuing problem in the labor market leaves a big dilemma: When’s the right time for the Federal Reserve Bank to pull back further on its efforts to boost the economy?

    Our economics correspondent, Paul Solman, talked to a leading player in all of this, part of his reporting on Making Sense of financial news.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Capping off the best year of job growth since 1999, the economy added just over a quarter-million jobs in December, helping push the official unemployment rate down to 5.6 percent.

    The numbers validated our having asked a key Federal Reserve official earlier in the week the quintessential policy question: Should the Fed restrain growth before it show any signs of getting out of hand?

    So when — when will you start raising rates?

    (LAUGHTER)

    PAUL SOLMAN: That’s the question everybody like me asks that people like you never answer, right?

    JOHN C. WILLIAMS, President, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco: You know, the answer is, it is going to depend on the data.

    PAUL SOLMAN: John Williams has good reason to diplomatically dodge. He’s president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s old job, and his take on interest rates can move markets, since he now gets to vote on rates at Fed meetings.

    We spoke to him this week at the annual economics convention, where he gave a talk on the Fed’s dual mandate, keeping inflation low, while increasing employment and hopefully creating jobs.

    MERLE HAZARD, Musician (singing): It’s awfully hard to be a central banker.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Economics country crooner Merle Hazard debuted an explanation on the NewsHour recently and performed it at the convention.

    As he playfully puts it:

    MERLE HAZARD (singing): I have got a dual mandate, dual mandate. I got to keep prices stable, while giving jobs to those who are able.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Now, Fed officials usually fall into one of two avian camps, hawks, keeping a keen eye on inflation, and ready to lift interest rates to contain growth and hold prices steady, and doves, who’d prefer to keep rates low to further spur consumer and business spending, in hopes of creating new jobs.

    You’re a dove, right, because you’re more reluctant to raise rates than to keep them low, no?

    JOHN C. WILLIAMS: No, I think that I wouldn’t agree with that characterization.

    I am worried about the fact there’s still a lot of people out of work. I also take very seriously our mandate to have low and stable inflation. so I don’t think that’s dovish or hawkish. I think that’s just doing what we’re supposed to be doing.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Well, then, maybe John Williams is a quail, the state bird of California.

    But, in any case, he’s not as dovish as Fed Chair Yellen who, in October, to the dismay of inflation hawks, was photo-opped with a group of long-term unemployed, signaling her sympathies.

    Do you think Chairperson Yellen went a little overboard by having a photo-op with the unemployed?

    JOHN C. WILLIAMS: Absolutely not. Let’s remember, there are still a significant number of people who either, A, are unemployed or, B, are only working part-time, and they would like to work full-time, but the jobs just aren’t available, and there’s a lot of people out there who’ve given up looking for jobs.

    PAUL SOLMAN: In fact, our own monthly reckoning of un- and under-employment, accessible on our online Making Sense page, is still well above 13 percent, nearly 22 million Americans who say they want a full-time job, but can’t find one.

    So the obvious question to Williams:

    Do you think that the labor market may be weaker than it actually looks on paper?

    JOHN C. WILLIAMS: So, sure, I think, yes. The answer to that is yes. I think the unemployment rate might be sending a little bit rosier signal on that progress so far.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So how does this voting Fed member react to apparently rosy numbers like this morning’s?

    JOHN C. WILLIAMS: There’s nothing in one employment report that would fundamentally change my view, but I will be looking for continued signs of improvement in the labor market and continued signs of some increases in wage growth.

    PAUL SOLMAN: In December, it turns out, the signs were mixed, yes, considerable improvement in the labor market. On the other hand, wage growth actually reversed, contracting by 5 cents an hour and wiping out last month’s hopeful wage gain.

    But back to the trillion-dollar question, which anyone with a loan, or wanting one, and any investor would ask: When will the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee finally raise the essentially zero short-term interest rate?

    JOHN C. WILLIAMS: The vast majority of the committee participants viewed 2015 as the time of the first rate increase.

    PAUL SOLMAN: It’s 2015 now.

    JOHN C. WILLIAMS: It is. My own view is that around the middle of this year will be the time when, based on my forecast, it would make sense to really start seriously weighing, should we raise rates at this meeting or should we wait a little longer?

    PAUL SOLMAN: When you have conversations in the Open Market Committee meeting, where you’re deciding whether or not to raise interest rates, how political is it?

    JOHN C. WILLIAMS: It’s absolutely not political.

    I mean, the only two topics that I can think of that we spend significant amount of time are the economy and monetary policy and — and sports.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And sports, presumably, because San Francisco does so well?

    JOHN C. WILLIAMS: Yes. Apparently, I talk mostly about sports when we win, but…

    (LAUGHTER)

    PAUL SOLMAN: Well, the 49ers didn’t do that well, so…

    JOHN C. WILLIAMS: Thanks for reminding me.

    (LAUGHTER)

    PAUL SOLMAN: And, so, from the annual meeting of the world’s economists in Boston, this is Paul Solman reporting for the PBS NewsHour, while rooting for the New England Patriots this weekend.

    The post Does a stronger economy mean higher interest rates in 2015? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    New York Times reporter James Risen discusses whistleblowers with Judy Woodruff.

    New York Times reporter James Risen discusses whistleblowers with Judy Woodruff.

    WASHINGTON — Defense lawyers have issued a subpoena to a New York Times reporter to testify in the trial of a former CIA officer accused of leaking classified information.

    Edward MacMahon said Friday that journalist James Risen had been subpoenaed in the case of his client, Jeffrey Sterling, who is scheduled for trial in Virginia next week.

    The move could signal that defense lawyers don’t expect the Justice Department to force Risen to testify.

    Sterling is accused of leaking classified information about a botched operation in Iran to Risen that the journalist used in his book, “State of War.” He’s set for trial next week.

    The Justice Department earlier dropped its demand that Risen divulge his source, though prosecutors have continued to seek his testimony.

    Risen spoke with Judy Woodruff in October, 2014 to discuss the dangers of silencing whistleblowers.

    The post Defense Department subpoenas reporter James Risen in CIA leak case appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    French intervention police take up position near the scene of a hostage taking at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: There are more questions tonight about the terror attacks in France and what they mean for security in the West, and also for the radical Islam movement.

    To help us interpret today’s events, a short while ago, I spoke again to Peter Neumann, director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College in London. and Juan Zarate. He’s the former White House deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism from 2005 to 2009. He’s now a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    Juan Zarate, Peter Neumann, thank you both for joining us.

    Peter Neumann, to you first. This claim now by al-Qaida in Yemen that they are the ones who directed these attacks in France, what do you make of this?

    PETER NEUMANN, King’s College London: I think it is plausible.

    Al-Qaida in Yemen has always been the most professional al-Qaida affiliate. They have always been very focused on attacks in the West. They have always been very professional. And, of course, it is also true that al-Qaida has something to prove. Ever since last year, the jihadist movement has essentially been split into two groups, Islamic State and al-Qaida.

    The Islamic State has been on the offensive. Al-Qaida has been sidelined. And al-Qaida doesn’t like it. They want to show to the world that they still exist. And one of the things that they think they can do — that think they can do better than ISIS is to pull off spectacular attacks in the West. So, it would make sense.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Juan Zarate, a question I think on everybody’s mind is, why weren’t these men being followed, especially the two brothers? We know at least one of them had traveled to Yemen. Why weren’t authorities on top of this?

    JUAN ZARATE, Former White House Counterterrorism Official: Well, French authorities knew about these individuals.

    And, in fact, the two brothers appeared on the American no-fly list. And so they were known to authorities. They had been arrested before. The younger brother had been part of a plot, in addition to Mr. Coulibaly, who was part of the kosher market attack. And so they were known to authorities.

    The challenge for French officials, as well as Western counterterrorism officials across the board, is the volume of threats and concerns that they have. The French are monitoring over 5,000 individuals and suspects who may have a variety of contacts with terrorist organization. They are worried about over 1,000 foreign fighters who are flowing in and out of the conflict in Syria and Iraq.

    And the French have been trying to arrest and disrupt plots and cells throughout not just Paris, but throughout the country for the last two years with significant arrests. And so they have been very aggressive, but they have a hierarchy of threats to monitor. And they can’t monitor everyone 24/7 with all of their resources.

    And so there is going to be a lot of hindsight and review of what known and not known, what should have been done. But it’s a difficult task to predict who is going to attack next and who has the motivation to attack in a key Western capital like Paris.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Given that, Peter Neumann, how much should Europe, France, and the United States be concerned about future attacks by individuals like these?

    PETER NEUMANN: I think I have always said that. Unfortunately, it seems like this is the going to be the story of 2015.

    I think there is going to be more attacks like this, unfortunately. And it’s to do with the fact that I think something has happened here. People have realized, jihadists have realized you do not necessarily have to pull off — pull off an incredibly complicated, complex attack anymore in order to shock, terrorize and polarize societies.

    You can do a fairly small-scale attack. You can even do just one killing, and it can have the same effect that the London, Madrid, or even 9/11 bombings had. I think they have figured that out, and I think we will see more of these attacks in Europe in the future.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Juan Zarate, what kinds of targets? For example, the move this morning on the kosher supermarket in Paris, other Jewish targets we have seen, is this a potential target in the future?

    JUAN ZARATE: Absolutely.

    And Peter’s right that the environment has grown in part more diverse geographically and in terms of operatives, but also more dangerous in terms of the potential targets. And certainly government sites, key symbolic sites have always been in the terrorist crosshairs.

    But now you have softer targets. You have seen the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi. You have seen the Ottawa and Sydney attacks. You have now seen the attacks in Paris where not only are terrorists realizing that they can do lower-scale attacks that will have strategic impact, but they can hit targets that will have ideological meaning.

    They can attack Charlie Hebdo, which is a known target, to attack the very idea of pluralism, to defend the honor of Islam, and to force a debate around all of these issues both within Muslim communities and in the West. And so they are finding very unique targets.

    And I think Peter is right that the message from al-Qaida and the Islamic State, which has been to attack in place, to motivate and to stoke radicals to take action on their own and perhaps to facilitate if they can, is really becoming a strategy that’s taking hold.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Peter Neumann, for authorities, what do they focus on? What do we, what do Americans focus on, what do ordinary citizens in Western Europe focus on as potential targets in the future?

    PETER NEUMANN: In almost every Western European country, you’re talking about several thousand people that are considered to be potentially violent.

    Which ones of them are you going to watch 24 hours a day? The security forces know that in order to watch someone 24 hours a day, you need about between 15 and 20 police officers or 15 and 20 spies. You cannot — not even American authorities can afford that capacity level.

    So you constantly have to make choices. And that has become more difficult, because these smaller-scale attacks require less planning, fewer people. There’s less communication to pick up on and it becomes much less — difficult to predict. So, we really have to work on new indicators for where danger comes from.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, do authorities have that level of sophistication in terms of understanding who to focus on and who maybe not to focus on?

    JUAN ZARATE: You have actors that present hybrid risks.

    We have talked about sort of the large-scale directed attacks from an al-Qaida core and an Islamic State, like 9/11. We have also talked about the lone wolf attack or the deranged individuals, using the narrative and ideology as inspiration.

    What you have here is kind of an admixture. And I think the danger is you — to the extent that you have individuals who are motivated, inspired and perhaps even trained and facilitated by other groups, that creates a real challenge for authorities to figure out who they are and when they may act.

    To the extent that they have connectivity abroad, that usually is a very good sign. We can usually ferret that out. But in this case, the contacts with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula were in 2011. And the reality was, these guys seemed to have gone to ground until 2015. And the question is, why did they wait so long and what really animated them?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A lot of questions still to be answered, and, one assumes, some regrouping on the part of security.

    PETER NEUMANN: Absolutely.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Juan Zarate, Peter Neumann, we thank you.

    JUAN ZARATE: Thank you, Judy.

    PETER NEUMANN: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And this evening, the U.S. State Department urged American citizens abroad to maintain — quote — “a high level of vigilance” following the events in France.

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    newswrap_keystone

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Here in the U.S., the economy closed out 2014 on a strong note, and made it the best year for hiring since 1999. December data from the Labor Department today showed a net gain of 252,000 jobs during the month. The report also added another 50,000 positions to the totals for October and November. That made a gain of nearly three million jobs for the year as a whole.

    In addition, the unemployment rate in December fell to 5.6 percent. But the news on wages wasn’t as bright. Average hourly earnings in December fell two-tenths of a percent. That last was a concern for Wall Street today, along with slipping oil prices. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 170 points to close at 17737. The Nasdaq fell 32 points to close at 4704. And the S&P dropped 17 to finish at 2044. For the week, all three indexes lost about half-a-percent.

    The Keystone oil pipeline advanced in the courts and Congress today. In Nebraska, a challenge to the proposed route failed before the state Supreme Court. The project would complete a pipeline moving Canadian oil across Nebraska and other states to Gulf Coast refineries. After the court decision, the U.S. House of Representatives voted again to approve Keystone, as it revisited longstanding arguments.

    REP. TOM REED, (R) New York: Thousands of jobs will be created by this pipeline. This will improve consumer prices. This will bring stability to oil markets around the world. This will contribute to protecting us here on American soil, rather than relying on energy sources from hostile nations of the world.

    REP. RAUL GRIJALVA, (D) Arizona: Building a pipeline clear across the United States so that TransCanada can sell its dirty tar sands oil to the highest bidder, namely China, is not in the American people’s best interest. We take risks to our own public — to our lands. The American people face threats to their health, and TransCanada gets to reap the rewards.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Senate could vote on the Keystone bill as early as next week, but President Obama has threatened a veto.

    For the first time, the man Mr. Obama beat in 2012 says he might run again in 2016. According to The Wall Street Journal, Mitt Romney told donors in New York today that he’s pondering a new bid for the Republican nomination and said it was fine to share the news. He gave no timetable for making the decision.

    An Islamic cleric now faces life in prison on terror charges after being sentenced today in New York. Mustafa Kamel Mustafa was convicted of helping terrorists kidnap tourists in Yemen and of plotting to open a terrorist training camp in Oregon. He’d been extradited from Britain in 2012.

    There’s word that the communist government in Cuba has released 36 opposition activists from jail. A top dissident group says they were freed over the past two days. Cuba had agreed to release a total of 53 prisoners as it restores ties with the United States.

    The State Department welcomed the news today.

    JEN PSAKI, State Department Spokeswoman: I’m not going to confirm numbers or names at this point in time, but these releases are certainly consistent with the cases that we raised with the Cuban government and their decision to release the 53 prisoners.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Cuban dissidents say the government warned the newly freed prisoners not to resume their opposition activities.

    A former band member at Florida A&M University is going to prison for a hazing death that drew national attention. Dante Martin was sentenced today to more than six years. Prosecutors said he led a brutal ritual that killed drum major Robert Champion in November 2011. The judge rejected a longer sentence, saying Champion was a — quote — “willing participant.”

    This week’s severe winter weather triggered a disaster today in Michigan. Snow, wind and poor visibility caused a pile-up of more than 120 vehicles that killed at least one person. It happened along Interstate 94 outside Kalamazoo and shut down traffic in both directions after two trucks caught fire. One was carrying fireworks, and the other acid.

    Seven women from Nepal have scored a first in some of the coldest, iciest places on Earth. They’re the first all-female team to scale the highest mountains on all seven continents. They started in 2008, scaling Mount Everest in Nepal, and they ended last month, conquering Mount Vinson in Antarctica.

    Today, they arrived back in Nepal to cheering crowds at the Kathmandu Airport.

    SHAILEE BASNET, Team Leader: The big journey that started seven years ago has finally culminated in a seventh climb. So, after years of saying one done, two done, three, four, five, we can now say seven!

    WOMAN: Seven!

    Nepal is famous for its male mountaineers. The women say they hope to change that image with this climbing record.

    And legendary gospel singer and songwriter Andrae Crouch has died in Los Angeles. For more than 50 years, his songs were recorded by Elvis Presley and Paul Simon, among others. He also arranged music for Michael Jackson, for the movies “The Lion King” and “The Color Purple.”  Along the way, Andrae Crouch won seven Grammy Awards. He was 72 years old.

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    Photos of the suspects released by French police - Cherif and Said Kouachi - 8 January

    French police released pictures of two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo shootings, brothers Chérif Kouachi, left, and Said Kouachi.

    Chérif Kouachi and Said Kouachi were the primary suspects in Wednesday’s shooting at a French satirical newspaper that claimed 12 lives. Until Friday morning, the brothers were at large when a manhunt drove them to a small industrial town called Dammartin-en-Goële, about 25 miles northeast of Paris. The brothers took one hostage with them into a printing house. French TV reported the hostage to be a 26-year-old man. During two near-corresponding police raids (one in Dammartin-en-Goële and another in a supermarket in Paris), smoke and explosions were observed outside the printing house and by Friday evening, police reported the brothers dead.

    While the Kouachis have been linked to al-Qaida, few details about the brothers are known. Here’s what has been reported:

    Chérif Kouachi, 32

    cherif1Chérif Kouachi also went by the name Abu Issen.

    Born in France, Chérif was raised in an orphanage in Rennes in western France. He prepared for a career as a fitness coach but in the early 2000s, was reported to have moved closer to Paris working as a pizza delivery man.

    He was a member of the “Buttes-Chaumont network,” a group that reportedly sent men to fight against U.S. forces in Iraq on behalf of al-Qaida.

    In 2005, he was detained before boarding a plane bound for Syria.

    While serving time, Le Monde reports that Chérif met Djamel Beghal, also known by Abu Hamza, who became his mentor. Beghal was serving a 10-year sentence for his role in a 2001 plan to bomb the U.S. embassy in Paris.

    In 2008, he was sentenced to three years in prison for associating with extremist fighters but half his sentence was suspended.

    In 2010, he was investigated for a jail-break plot that Amedy Coulibaly, a gunmen who took several hostages in a kosher grocery store in Paris today, participated in. Coulibaly was the man suspected of murdering a French policewoman on Thursday with the help of another suspect, Hayat Boumediene, who is still at large.

    wanted

    Said Kouachi, 34

    saidWhen Chérif moved near Paris in the early 2000s, his older brother was already living there.

    Said was also named in the prison break plot in 2010 but was not charged due to lack of evidence.

    French authorities report that in 2011, the elder Kouachi brother traveled to Yemen sometime before Sept. 30, 2011, when Anwar al-Awlaki, a senior al-Qaida leader and U.S. citizen was killed by a U.S. drone strike. The length of time he stayed and his actions are unknown.

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    hayat boumediene

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Later, a Paris prosecutor said the hostages who died at the kosher grocery were killed by the gunman early on, not during the rescue.

    Moments ago, I spoke to Mark Austin of Independent Television News, who is on the ground in Paris.

    Mark Austin, thank you for talking with us.

    What’s the latest you’re hearing about authorities trying to find out how these men were able to pull this off?

    MARK AUSTIN, ITN: Well, there’s a great deal of effort going on tonight to find that out.

    I mean, the main issue at the moment is finding this woman who may have been involved in the supermarket siege, Hayat Boumeddiene. The police have said they thought she was in there. She is now missing. And there is a hunt going on for her, although the information I’m getting is that it’s not at all clear the role she has played in this, though they do believe that she played some sort of role.

    And that in many ways, you know, Judy, indicated just how little intelligence the authorities had got on these people. They were on their radar some years ago. One of them was in prison for terrorist offenses some years ago. But they seemed to have fallen away in the minds of the police.

    And I think that’s causing a great deal of frustration and maybe even embarrassment in the security services here, although, of course, the security forces themselves have brought this thing to an end quite successfully today.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there a sense, Mark, on the part of people you’re talking to in Paris that they’re worried still, that they’re still on edge, or is it more a sense of relief that this is over?

    MARK AUSTIN: I think there’s a sense of huge relief tonight, to be honest.

    I think there was a feeling yesterday that the one — that the hunt for the two Charlie Hebdo killers could go on. And they were searching a forest. And that could have taken quite some time. And of course it came to quite a dramatic conclusion today.

    But then you had this second siege, not one, but two terrorist sieges going on, unprecedented in this city, unprecedented in most cities, to be honest. The security forces were stretched to their limit, so I think a good deal of relief tonight that it’s come to an end, but also an edginess that this was allowed to happen, first of all, and also that one of these terrorists appears to be still on the run tonight.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, attitude toward police, toward security forces right now is what? What would you say?

    MARK AUSTIN: Look, I think there is a general satisfaction here with the way things were dealt with today. It’s a great shame. There is great sadness here. Four more innocent lives were lost.

    You only have to look behind me here at this shrine for those who died in the Charlie Hebdo killings. I mean, we have had hundreds of people come here throughout the day, thousands of people come here throughout the day. So there is a great sadness here and huge relief.

    And — but there will be questions, no doubt, of the intelligence services over why these men and perhaps a woman was allowed to do this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Austin with Independent Television News, we thank you.

    MARK AUSTIN: Thank you very much, indeed.

    The post Paris police hunt for woman tied to supermarket siege appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    hostagedrama1

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Three days of terror that gripped France are finally over. Police assaults in and around Paris this evening killed a trio of gunmen and freed 16 hostages. Several other captives died, making a total of 20 lives lost in a week of violence and bloodshed.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The beginning of the end came in a blaze of gunfire and explosions just northeast of Paris. Two brothers suspected of killing a dozen people on Wednesday came out shooting after taking a hostage at a printing plant.

    Said and Cherif Kouachi had vowed to die as martyrs, and were cut down by police. Their hostage made it out alive and safe. They had holed up after a high-speed car chase as helicopters buzzed overhead. Schools evacuated children, and convoys of police swarmed to the scene, warning the locals to lock their doors.

    MAN (through interpreter): This morning, I was woken up around 9:00 a.m. by the noise of helicopters. There were a lot of police there, and they told me that I needed to go home immediately and I needed to stay indoors.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: That was in Dammartin-en-Goele, near Charles de Gaulle Airport. The raid there followed a nearly simultaneous police assault, 25 miles away, at a kosher supermarket in Eastern Paris.

    Another gunman, identified as Amedy Coulibaly, took at least five hostages in the store, hours before the Jewish Sabbath, and threatened to kill them if police attacked the Kouachi brothers. Coulibaly died when a SWAT team stormed in, as did four of his hostages.

    Afterward, the French interior minister praised both operations.

    BERNARD CAZENEUVE, Interior Minister, France (through interpreter): I have come to express my gratitude to the men and women who have risked their lives to save, in very difficult and complicated conditions, the lives of hostages. And, here, I would like to express the gratitude of all French people and the whole nation, who tonight are feeling relieved.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Amedy Coulibaly, it turned out, was also the suspected gunman who killed a policewoman yesterday in Southern Paris.

    Authorities said his wife, Hayat Boumeddiene, acted as his accomplice. But her whereabouts today were unclear. All of this followed Wednesday’s massacre at the French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo, blamed on the Kouachi brothers. A French TV news network, BFM, reported Cherif Kouachi claimed during today’s standoff that they acted at the behest of al-Qaida in Yemen.

    And the group later said it had, indeed, directed that attack. All had been on watch lists, and there were growing questions about France’s overall security efforts.

    But French President Francois Hollande called for unity in the wake of this week’s events.

    PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, France (through interpreter): We must mobilize to answer to these attacks through force when we have to, but we must also do that through solidarity. This is a solidarity that must be demonstrated in its efficiency. We are a free people, a people that is not afraid, that can resist pressures.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In this country, President Obama joined in voicing condolences to the French today, and again promised American support.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: That the United States stands with you today, stands with you tomorrow. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who’ve been directly impacted. We grieve with you.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And members of the House of Representatives held a moment of silence to honor those killed in France this week.

    I’m Hari Sreenivasan in New York for the PBS NewsHour.

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    A large tent covered in insulating foam stands waiting to be demolished on the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan January 2, 2015. The base is being shrunk by demolishing large swaths of housing in order to hold roughly 13,000 foreign troops, mostly Americans, who will remain in the country under a new two-year mission named "Resolute Support" to train Afghan troops. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A large tent covered in insulating foam stands waiting to be demolished on the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan January 2, 2015. The base is being shrunk by demolishing large swaths of housing in order to hold roughly 13,000 foreign troops, mostly Americans, who will remain in the country under a new two-year mission named “Resolute Support” to train Afghan troops. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Late last month, United States and NATO forces watched as Gen. John Campbell rolled up the green and white flag of the International Security Assistance Force, a symbolic gesture that represented the end of America’s 13-year combat mission of peacekeeping and reconstruction in Afghanistan.

    Calling it the longest war in American history, President Barack Obama said that the ISAF was coming to a “responsible conclusion.” After spending nearly $1 trillion on the effort, many Americans are relieved the U.S. armed forces are pulling out, while others argue the U.S. is leaving Afghanistan at a particularly weak moment.

    At December’s small ceremony in Kabul, Campbell expanded upon the president’s words, saying that the day marked “the end of an era and beginning of a new one.” He then unfurled another green flag of the new U.S.-led mission, called “Resolute Support.”

    Despite a drawdown of U.S. troops, America’s military presence in the war-torn country wasn’t over. About 18,000 foreign troops — nearly 11,000 of them American — will remain in Afghanistan to advise and assist the country’s security forces and help them counter insurgent attacks, which have increased in recent months. 2014 was the war’s deadliest year, with Taliban attacks claiming more than 4,500 Afghan soldiers’ lives.

    Sign posts declaring the distance from Bagram Air Field to various U.S. bases across the world are seen on the base in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Sign posts declaring the distance from Bagram Air Field to various U.S. bases across the world are seen on the base in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Going forward, “Resolute Support” is meant to be a two-year mission of shrinking support. The U.S. has planned on halving the number of troops to 5,000 by the end of 2015 and then reducing to a “normal” embassy presence in Kabul by 2016.

    At its peak, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan swelled to 140,000 in 2010 when Obama ordered a “surge” to counter the growing insurgency. Now, the U.S. is tasked in dismantling its operations throughout Afghanistan to house the incoming foreign troops chosen for “Resolute Support.”

    Reuters’ Lucas Jackson photographed the many unused Army trucks, tents and other detritus that are waiting to be removed at America’s biggest base in Afghanistan, the Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province.

    Burned Afghan National Army trucks wait to be demolished on the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Burned Afghan National Army trucks wait to be demolished on the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A door rests on the floor of a tent that has been dismantled as part of areas being demolished on the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A door rests on the floor of a tent that has been dismantled as part of areas being demolished on the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Cases of water bottles cascade out of shrink wrap in an area waiting to be cleared in order to shrink the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Cases of water bottles cascade out of shrink wrap in an area waiting to be cleared in order to shrink the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A view of sand bags filled with earth stand stacked around concrete shelters to protect from mortars and rockets inside of Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A view of sand bags filled with earth stand stacked around concrete shelters to protect from mortars and rockets inside of Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A stack of concrete barriers are stored in a yard after being removed during work to dismantle vast swaths of the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A stack of concrete barriers are stored in a yard after being removed during work to dismantle vast swaths of the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Tents stand waiting to be dismantled as part of areas being cleared in order to shrink the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Tents stand waiting to be dismantled as part of areas being cleared in order to shrink the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A stack of concrete barriers are stored in a yard after being removed during work to dismantle vast swaths of the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A stack of concrete barriers are stored in a yard after being removed during work to dismantle vast swaths of the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Russian guns are displayed in front of debris left over from temporary housing demolished during work to dismantle vast swaths of the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Russian guns are displayed in front of debris left over from temporary housing demolished during work to dismantle vast swaths of the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Doors of deserted containers made into housing stand waiting to be demolished on the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Doors of deserted containers made into housing stand waiting to be demolished on the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A massive field of demolished concrete lies inside of Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A massive field of demolished concrete lies inside of Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A message is scrawled on debris left over from temporary housing demolished during work to dismantle vast swaths of the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A message is scrawled on debris left over from temporary housing demolished during work to dismantle vast swaths of the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    U.S. Army MRAP vehicles stand loaded onto local trucks before being shipped to Kuwait during work to shrink Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    U.S. Army MRAP vehicles stand loaded onto local trucks before being shipped to Kuwait during work to shrink Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Shipping containers waiting to be either shipped back to the United States or disposed of stand stacked inside of Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Shipping containers waiting to be either shipped back to the United States or disposed of stand stacked inside of Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    The post Photo essay: Remnants of the trillion-dollar war in Afghanistan rust in the desert appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 6.59.40 PMWASHINGTON — The United States has issued a global travel warning after recent terror attacks in France, Australia and Canada.

    The alert comes hours after French police killed three hostage-takers in a pair of incidents. Two of the men are believed responsible for Wednesday’s attack on a satirical magazine in Paris. Twelve people were killed in that assault, France’s deadliest terror incident in decades.

    The State Department’s warning says attacks against Americans are becoming increasingly prevalent. It also cites an increased risk of reprisals against U.S. and Western targets for the U.S.-led intervention against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

    The warning also cited last month’s hostage standoff at a Sydney cafe and the October killing of a soldier near Canada’s parliament.

    The post U.S. State Department issues global travel warning after terror attacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Joint Intel HearingThe F.B.I. and prosecutors at the Justice Department have recommended bringing felony charges against former Gen. David Petraeus for providing classified information to Army Reserve Officer Paula Broadwell, his former mistress.

    After their affair became public Nov. 9, 2012, investigators found classified documents on Broadwell’s computer and the bureau began investigating the time Petraeus and Broadwell spent together while she was writing his biography in 2011. The bureau sought to determine whether Petraeus gave Broadwell access to his C.I.A. email as well as other highly classified information. 

    Attorney General Eric Holder has delayed his decision to bring charges against Petraus –a move that frustrated officials at the Justice Department and F.B.I., according to the New York Times.

    Petraeus resigned from the C.I.A. in November 2012, saying little publicly after his affair became known.

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    WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress and a state supreme court have thrown the political hot potato known as Keystone XL straight back onto President Barack Obama’s lap.

    So loath is Obama to making a decision about the proposed oil pipeline that deliberations have entered their sixth year – a period nearly as long as Obama’s time in office. He’s blamed the seemingly endless delays on bureaucratic formalities and parochial issues in Nebraska, even when skeptics claimed that the politics of the next election were giving the president cold feet.

    Now the election is over, the Nebraska issue is resolved, and a bipartisan bill forcing the pipeline’s approval may soon be heading to Obama’s desk. Forces on all sides of the debate, for once, have the same demand for Obama: Just make the call.

    “It’s time for the State Department and the president to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline – however they decide – because six years is beyond long enough,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, part of the minority of Democrats supporting the pipeline.

    In April, just as the State Department’s review of the pipeline was nearing an end, Obama indefinitely suspended it. Facing a difficult political climate, many Democrats had been anxious about Obama making a decision before the November midterm elections. Still, the White House said it was uncertainty about the pipeline’s route, spurred by a Nebraska court challenge, that prompted the delay.

    That rationale expired Friday. The Nebraska Supreme Court tossed out the lawsuit, clearing the way for the pipeline to snake through Nebraska as previously envisioned. The State Department, which has jurisdiction because the pipeline would start in Canada, said it would pick up its review where it left off, but it was unclear how long that review will take to finish.

    Republicans and some Democrats don’t want to wait for that review to play out. Wielding their newfound control of both chambers of Congress, Republicans are speeding a bill through Congress authorizing construction of the 1,179-mile pipeline, which would carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.

    The House approved the bill Friday – one of the first bills taken up by Congress in 2015. The Senate planned a test vote on an identical bill Monday, with plans to deliver the final bill to Obama in short order.

    Obama has threatened repeatedly to veto that bill, arguing that Congress must not circumvent the executive branch’s authority. So far, Republicans haven’t shown they have the votes to override Obama’s veto. On Saturday, a group of Keystone opponents, organized by the advocacy group 350.org, planned to rally outside the White House to insist Obama make good on his veto threat.

    Obama has long bemoaned that the proposed pipeline has taken on a political life of its own, becoming a proxy battle for the broader debate over global warming.

    “A vote against Keystone sends the signal that our government is taking the science of climate change and risk analysis seriously,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.

    Environmental groups have waged protests and acts of civil disobedience, arguing the project would unravel U.S. progress in combatting climate change. The energy industry and business groups have say Obama is jeopardizing an $8 billion project that could create thousands of jobs.

    In his public comments, Obama has said he’ll only allow the pipeline if it won’t lead to increased carbon dioxide emissions. Yet he has also voiced skepticism about claims by supporters that the pipeline will create jobs or lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil, in what environmentalists hope is an attempt by Obama to lay the groundwork for an eventual denial of the pipeline’s permit.

    “I think that there’s been this tendency to really hype this thing as some magic formula to what ails the U.S. economy,” Obama said in his end-of-2014 news conference.

    Even after the Nebraska court ruled Friday, the White House said little to suggest a decision was imminent. But White House officials warned that Obama’s veto threat was still good.

    For Obama, the GOP’s attempt to force his hand on Keystone is just one example of his diminished leverage over Congress in his final two years. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., who is sponsoring the Keystone bill in the Senate, said approving the pipeline would be a good-faith measure that would make it easier for Obama and Republicans to compromise on other fronts.

    “That would show some willingness on his part to start working together,” Hoeven said, citing tax reform and support for the military areas for potential cooperation. “He’s got to start working with Congress.”

    The post Decision on Keystone XL back on Obama’s desk appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — In a move that surprised his most loyal supporters and former staff, Mitt Romney told several donors Friday he is seriously considering a third run for the White House.

    It’s a dramatic shift for the 2012 Republican presidential nominee after months of insisting his career in politics is over.

    Should Romney follow through and enter the race, the former governor of Massachusetts who made millions in private equity would hardly be a lock to win his party’s nomination for the second time. He would join a field expected to feature more than a dozen Republicans with legitimate White House resumes, sitting governors and U.S. senators among them.

    “Mitt has been a terrific leader for the Republican Party, but if he runs again, he’ll have to earn it again,” said veteran Republican operative Phil Musser, a former Romney supporter. His firm is already handling preliminary campaign work for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, but Musser says he has not committed to a candidate.

    Romney attended a private gathering of donors Friday at the New York offices of Woody Johnson, a leading Romney donor in 2012 and owner of the NFL’s New York Jets, several people with direct knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press.

    All spoke under condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to speak publicly about the private discussions. The meeting was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

    A spokesman for Romney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The news from Romney comes as Bush marches swiftly toward a 2016 bid of his own, one that threatens to win much of the support from the Republican establishment that fueled Romney’s last campaign. The son and brother of former presidents has spent recent weeks hosting private fundraising meetings across the country and is courting top talent to staff a potential campaign.

    While the first primary contests in the 2016 race are roughly a year away, and no one has formally declared his or her candidacy, Republicans strategists suggested Friday that Bush’s moves – coming so quickly after a year in which he avoided questions about running for president – may have led to Romney’s decision to share his thought process with the donors.

    “Jeb Bush forced everyone’s hand,” said Barney Keller, a Republican strategist. “If he’s serious, Romney needs to start rounding up support, sooner rather than later.”

    Romney isn’t alone. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who had said he planned to discuss his future with his family over the holidays and announce his decision on whether to run sometime this year, has scheduled a meet-and-greet with potential supporters in South Carolina for next week.

    Two people at Friday’s meeting, which included a conference call and was attended by roughly 15 of Romney’s most generous and loyal past donors, said the gathering was meant to be an open-ended discussion among old friends. Several donors in the room had already privately committed to other 2016 contenders but wanted to hear from their one-time favorite.

    Some were caught by surprise when Romney suggested he was considering a 2016 campaign after months of public denials. Others asked Romney what he would do differently after a 2012 campaign in which he struggled at times to connect with middle-class voters.

    Toward the end of the hour-long session, Romney told his one-time allies they should tell their friends that a Romney 2016 campaign is under serious consideration, according to two people in the room.

    He also acknowledged he needs to act quickly should he decide to run, said a top GOP donor briefed on the meeting.

    Were Romney moving to join the 2016 field, many who served in senior roles in his previous campaigns assumed they would have been given a heads-up about an announcement. Those contacted by The Associated Press Friday evening had not been notified of Romney’s intentions.

    While Romney is among the best known Republicans in the nation, he has never been a favorite of hard-line conservatives. He was the overwhelming establishment favorite in a weak 2012 field, finding little competition for the party’s elite donor class in financial centers such as New York, Florida and Texas during his second run for the White House.

    That wouldn’t be the case in 2016, with Bush and Christie among those with solid bases of donors ready to support their campaigns. And while Romney overwhelmed his 2012 competition with a superior effort to get out the vote, would-be 2016 candidates such as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson have been building nationwide networks for several months.

    In addition to Johnson, Friday’s meeting with Romney included Emil Henry Jr., an assistant treasury secretary in the Bush administration; Alexander Navab, of the financial firm KKR; Clifford Sobel, managing partner of Valor Capital Group; Edward C. Forst, CEO at Cushman & Wakefield; and Patrick Durkin, a managing director at Barclays.

    Durkin was among those surprised by Romney’s comments. He now strongly supports Bush and last Wednesday co-hosted a private fundraiser in Greenwich, Connecticut, for the former Florida governor.

    Romney, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2008 and 2012, has repeatedly insisted he would not run again. At a political rally in New Hampshire last summer, he said he would “get behind the one who I think has the best chance of winning.”

    “We’ll get someone who can win,” he added.

    Peoples reported from Atlanta. Associated Press writers Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, and Jill Colvin in Newark, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

    The post Romney strongly considering third run for the White House appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    George Zimmerman, the Florida man who was acquitted in the shooting death of an unarmed black teen in 2013, was arrested Friday, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said.

    George Zimmerman was arrested and booked into jail at the John Polk Correctional Facility January 9, 2015 in Sanford, Fla., for aggravated assault and domestic violence with a weapon. (Photo by Seminole County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images)

    George Zimmerman was arrested January 9, 2015 in Sanford, Fla., for aggravated assault and domestic violence with a weapon. (Credit: Seminole County Sheriff’s Office)

    The 31-year-old former Neighborhood Watch volunteer was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly throwing a wine bottle at his girlfriend while she was at his home earlier this week in Lake Mary, Fla., his lawyer, Don West, told the Orlando Sentinel.

    Police found out about the incident when they pulled the woman over for a routine traffic stop, Lake Mary Police spokeswoman Officer Bianca Gillett told the Sentinel.

    Zimmerman is being held at the James E. Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford, Fla. He is due back in court on Feb. 17.

    Since his acquittal of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges for the Feb. 2012 death of Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman has had several run-ins with the law, including a previous arrest on charges of aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief.

    He has also been pulled over on three separate occasions for traffic violations.

    While at a Central Florida gun show in September, Zimmerman said he was homeless, jobless and in debt from legal bills, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

    The post George Zimmerman arrested for aggravated assault with a weapon appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    More than 7,000 people fleeing deadly attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria have spilled over the border and into neighboring Chad, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Friday.

    In response, Chad’s Prime Minister Kalzeubet Pahimi, pleaded to the international community for support in handling the influx of refugees, Reuters reported. Chad’s President Idriss Déby has increased security in the border region due to the violence and also supports peace talks between Nigeria and the militants.

    Since last weekend, Boko Haram has razed more than a dozen villages in the northeastern region of Nigeria, including the town of Baga, where it seized control of a military base. Thousands are unaccounted for and feared dead, in what could be the militant group’s deadliest attacks on record.

    Nigeria’s northeastern region has been the scene of a five-year battle by insurgents to establish an Islamist state, The Guardian reported.

    In September, the U.N. refugee agency called on donors for $34 million to help fund protection and life-saving aid to more than 75,000 refugees in Chad, Cameroon and Niger, who have fled the escalating violence in Nigeria’s Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.

    In Borno state’s capital and largest city, Maiduguri, a bomb worn by a young girl killed at least 16 people when it exploded in a busy market on Saturday, Reuters reported.

    “The explosive devices were wrapped around her body and the girl looked no more than 10 years old,” a police source told Reuters.

    The post Thousands flee Nigeria for Chad after Boko Haram attacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A banner reading 'Wall of friendship without borders' can be seen in the foreground as thousands of people take part in a rally in Dresden, Germany. (Credit: Getty Images)

    A banner reading ‘Wall of friendship without borders’ can be seen in the foreground as thousands of people take part in a rally in Dresden, Germany. (Credit: Getty Images)

    Around 35,000 people turned out to rally on Saturday in the eastern German city of Dresden against an anti-Islamic movement and in remembrance of the recent terrorist attacks in France.

    Dresden has become the center of weekly anti-immigration protests organized by a grassroots movement called Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, which drew a record number of 18,000 people last Monday, Reuters reported.

    Saturday’s rally was to promote tolerance against the movement’s xenophobic message.

    “We won’t permit that hate will divide us,” Dresden Mayor Helma Orosz said at the rally, which was organized by the state government of Saxony and the city of Dresden, Reuters reported.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the anti-Muslim demonstrations, calling their organizers racist and full of hatred, Reuters reported. 

    Participants of the rally held signs displaying messages of peace and acceptance. They also observed a minute of silence to remember the 12 people killed earlier this week in the assault on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France’s deadliest terror attack in decades. 

    The post Tens of thousands rally in Dresden against racism, xenophobia appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man on cell phone outside of the JPMorgan Chase headquarters

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    Editor’s note: This is an updated segment that originally aired on PBS NewsHour Weekend and online on November 23, 2013.

    ANNOUNCER:  “Tonight’s Mega millions jackpot is an estimated annuitized $149,000,000…”

    KARLA MURTHY: it’s a moment that millions of Americans wait for each week.

    ANNOUNCER: “Now, let’s see if we can make you a millionaire tonight…”

    KARLA MURTHY: The chance to win a huge, life-changing amount of money.

    ANNOUNCER: “A check for $10,000 dollars”

    KARLA MURTHY: But now some states are experimenting with a different kind of lottery. One where you won’t necessarily win, but you can’t lose.
    It’s something called a prize-linked savings account.

    And twenty-eight year old Crystal Rose Hudelson was intrigued by a poster for one when she walked into her local credit union in Seattle in 2013.

    CRYSTAL ROSE HUDELSON: It had this girl– she was really cute, too, cute clothes and cute hair, and she had this sign up and you just need $25. And I thought to myself, “Well, what is this?”

    KARLA MURTHY: It was for a savings program called ‘Save to Win.’ for every $25 dollars a member puts into their account, he or she is entered to win a small monthly prize of $50, but also the chance to win one of four bigger prizes of $4,000.

    Even if you don’t win, you get to keep the money, plus interest.

    The prize money is put up by the credit unions and their regional association as an incentive to get members to save.

    The idea is new to the U.S, but it has been around for decades all over the world. At least eighteen countries have prize-linked savings options, including the U.K.

    COMMERCIAL: “They’d found they’d won five thousand smackers. And gleefully did shout, ‘that’s mine…’ ‘It’s mine’ ‘no mine’ ‘no mine  the moral: buy premium bonds, win something worth really arguing about.”

    KARLA MURTHY: Back in Washington State, Crystal signed up for Save to Win.

    CRYSTAL ROSE HUDELSON: I’m not going to lose anything, so why not?”  And I keep telling everybody it’s my version of gambling.

    KARLA MURTHY: What Crystal found in Washington State is also offered in three other states. In Nebraska, more than 1,400 savers are competing for $25,000 in annual prize money. In North Carolina, 1,900 savers are vying for 3 grand prizes of $10,000. And in Michigan – where the program has been around since 2009 – 11,000 savers are entered into a chance to win six grand prizes of $10,000 each.

    Starting this year credit unions in Connecticut and New York will also be offering save to win and seven other states have laws that would allow prize linked savings programs.

    It’s all meant to remedy America’s dismal savings rate, which has declined by nearly two thirds over the last four decades. In fact today, more than a quarter of all Americans have no savings at all.

    But Derek Kilmer has been working to change that.

    REP. DEREK KILMER:  The problem with not savings is it can often mean you’re– a crisis away from, as we’ve seen in some cases, living in your car or losing your home or– having your lights shut off.

    KARLA MURTHY: As a Washington State Senator, Kilmer sponsored legislation in 2011 to allow credit unions, which are regulated by the state, to offer ‘Save to Win.’

    KARLA MURTHY:  Why isn’t just the reward of compounding interest enough to make people save?  I mean, why do you actually need this prize to get people to save?

    REP. DEREK KILMER: Why do people play the lottery or why do people gamble, period?  You know, it’s with the hope of winning something more. There’s a sense that this actually makes savings fun.

    KARLA MURTHY: Crystal Rose Hudelson, who recently graduated from a program to become an aircraft mechanic, had struggled to save. She paid her own way through school and is working full-time while also doing a mechanical internship program.

    But since starting save to win, Crystal is convinced that she’s been able to save more money, especially after she got some surprising news a few months after her first deposit.

    KARLA MURTHY: So have you won anything yet?

    CRYSTAL ROSE HUDELSON: Yes, I won $50.  I was so excited about it.

    KARLA MURTHY: What did you do with the money that you won?

    CRYSTAL ROSE HUDELSON: I reinvested it. ‘Cause every $25 increment you get your name put back into the drawing.  And I would be an idiot if I didn’t put it back in to get my name put back in the drawing two more times.  So it went straight back in.

    KARLA MURTHY: Sharon Hall is the CEO of Express Credit Union, where Crystal is a member. They are one of six credit unions offering ‘Save to Win’ in Washington.

    KARLA MURTHY: When you first heard about this whole idea, what was your reaction?

    SHARON HALL: My reaction was yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, I want to play.  I want to play.

    KARLA MURTHY: Since launching in April of 2013, express has signed up more than 100 ‘save to win’ accounts, which are structured as 12 month certificates of deposit – or CDs. Hall says even though the accounts aren’t profitable for the credit union, she’s encouraged by the results so far.

    The save to win accounts average $358, which is more than 20% higher than the average savings balance at the credit union.

    KARLA MURTHY: Do you really think this is going to change behavior or teach people the value of having a savings account?

    SHARON HALL: I think its forced behavior which is really– I hate to say that, but the reason why they’re CDs is because you have to keep it in there for 12 months.  So if you’ve learned that you can live without that $25 for 12 months, it’s a behavioral change.

    KARLA MURTHY: Do you think the prizes are big enough to draw people in?

    SHARON HALL:  Yeah, I think that the grand prize is.  And the more financial institutions that participate, the bigger the prize is. You know, it’s not going to be a million dollars, but you know, it’s enticing enough to draw– new– people into your financial institution.

    KARLA MURTHY: Most members at Express Credit Union are low income.

    And Melissa Kearney thinks that prized linked savings accounts will particularly appeal to low income Americans – who spend a disproportionately high share of their income playing lotteries.

    MELISSA KEARNEY: It’s often thought that people are irrational when they play the lottery.  But I would challenge that assumption.  If you’re a low income individual, how else can you potentially win enough money to buy a house, or really change your life?

    KARLA MURTHY: Kearney is an economist at the University of Maryland and director of the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution. She’s thinks these lottery-based accounts help people save by leveraging their desire to win big.

    MELISSA KEARNEY: If you have low savings deposits, which many low and moderate income individuals do, you’re only accumulating a few dollars every month, or even every year.  And it will take those ten years to accumulate enough interest payments on,let’s say, a low deposit checking account, to make any sort of down payment or big purchase.  And this changes that.

    KARLA MURTHY: But does prize-linked savings actually help people save more money? Kearney helped design an experiment to find out.

    MELISSA KEARNEY: The results were quite striking. What we’re able to say at the end of the day is that for a given amount of interest payment, they can actually entice a lot more deposits, and more savings, if they structure the interest to have some lottery or prize link component to it.

    The results were consistent with what’s been seen in Michigan, where the average amount saved with ‘save to win’ has grown dramatically since being launched in 2009.

    KARLA MURTHY: So why haven’t prized linked savings swept across the us? Turns out, the biggest obstacle to expanding these types of savings accounts was federal law. Unlike state-regulated credit unions, banks, which are federally chartered institutions, could not participate in lotteries.

    But that changed last fall, when a bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Derek Kilmer, who is now a US Representative, passed Congress. The legislation, called the American Savings Promotion Act, was signed by President Obama in December and announced in a White House press release.

    Advocates are hopeful that the passage of the bill will lead to dramatically more access to prize-linked savings programs across the country and in turn, help boost savings rates.

    KARLA MURTHY: At the end of the day is it really teaching people to be better savers?  Or is it just teaching them to do this just because you might get a prize?

    DEREK KILMER: So, to some degree this is– you know, this is basically intermittent positive reinforcement.  As someone saves more money, they earn more chances and that’s positive reinforcement to save more money.

    And I think that’s a good thing. I mean, we’ve just gone through some of the most difficult financial years a nation can go through, and so I think there’s an appreciation for the value of a tool like to help people save.

    The post Savings programs tied to prizes to become more widely available appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Credit: Flickr user fauxto_digit

    Credit: Flickr user fauxto_digit

    People who look at a glass of water and see it as half-full are two times more likely than their ‘glass-half-empty’ counterparts to be in good cardiovascular health, according to findings recently published in the journal Health Behavior and Policy Review.

    “Individuals with the highest levels of optimism have twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts,” said the study’s lead author Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois, in a university news report. “This association remains significant, even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health.”

    Between 2002 and 2004, Hernandez and fellow researchers from Northwestern University, Chapman University, Harvard University and Drexel University, examined the relationship between optimism and cardiovascular health in more than 5,100 adults aged 52 to 84.

    Researchers looked at participants’ physical activity, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, body mass index, dietary intake, blood pressure and tobacco use, the same seven factors used by the American Heart Association (AHA) to determine good heart health.

    For each factor, participants were given a rating of 0 (poor), 1 (intermediate) or 2 (ideal). Those ratings were added up to come to a total cardio health score. The higher the score, the better the heart health of the individual.

    Participants were also asked to complete surveys on mental health, optimism and physical health, including informing researchers on any existing medical conditions like arthritis, liver and kidney disease.

    The study’s most optimistic individuals were 50 percent more likely to have an intermediate total health score and 76 percent more likely to have an ideal score, reported ScienceDaily.

    The study sample was 38 percent white, 28 percent African-American, 22 percent Hispanic/Latino and 12 percent Chinese. These individuals form part of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a broader, ongoing examination of asymptomatic cardiovascular disease that includes 6,000 people throughout six regions in the United States.

    In July 2014, another MESA study found an association between middle-aged and older adults who reported high levels of hostility and feelings of hopelessness and an increased risk of stroke.

    The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health sponsors MESA.

    The post Study: Optimists twice as likely as pessimists to have healthy hearts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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