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- 01/10/15--14:43: _Pencils raised from...
- 01/10/15--15:07: _‘Sense of siege’: F...
- 01/10/15--16:48: _What dangers could ...
- 01/11/15--08:33: _Attorney General Ho...
- 01/11/15--09:19: _Kerry pushes for ra...
- 01/11/15--09:34: _Sea of demonstrator...
- 01/11/15--09:58: _Child suicide bombe...
- 01/11/15--11:04: _White House plans c...
- 01/11/15--11:18: _Searchers zero in o...
- 01/11/15--12:33: _Medicare begins pay...
- 01/11/15--14:23: _Monarch butterflies...
- 01/11/15--14:27: _Former NYPD officer...
- 01/11/15--14:36: _What can be done to...
- 01/11/15--15:49: _Holder: Decision on...
- 01/12/15--12:01: _Corporation for Pub...
- 01/12/15--12:23: _Re-examined fossils...
- 01/12/15--12:37: _Report finds lack o...
- 01/12/15--12:39: _Be like poet Bill B...
- 01/12/15--14:53: _Cuba releases 53 pr...
- 01/12/15--15:15: _Investing in Americ...
- 01/10/15--15:07: ‘Sense of siege’: French citizens on edge after Paris attacks
- 01/10/15--16:48: What dangers could terror threats abroad pose to the US?
- 01/11/15--09:19: Kerry pushes for rapid expansion of US trade with India
- 01/11/15--09:34: Sea of demonstrators march for unity in Paris
- 01/11/15--11:04: White House plans conference to counter violent extremism
- 01/11/15--11:18: Searchers zero in on black box from deadly AirAsia flight
- 01/11/15--14:23: Monarch butterflies could get endangered species status
- 01/11/15--14:27: Former NYPD officers talk police-minority relations
- 01/11/15--14:36: What can be done to prevent youth radicalization?
- 01/11/15--15:49: Holder: Decision on Petraeus to come from ‘highest level’
- 01/12/15--12:39: Be like poet Bill Berkson and start kissing anyone you can find
- 01/12/15--14:53: Cuba releases 53 prisoners as part of historic deal with U.S.
- 01/12/15--15:15: Investing in America’s cultural capital
Hundreds of thousands of people rallied across France on Saturday to decry the terror attacks that left 17 dead over three days of violence, which began with an assault on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday in Paris.
Al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen claimed responsibility for the Jan. 9 attack, saying in a statement provided to the Associated Press that the act was “revenge for the honor” of the prophet Muhammad. The journal Charlie Hebdo is known for its provocative cartoons, which are often critical of religions, including Islam.
Demonstrators held up pens, pencils and placards with the words “Je suis Charlie,” meaning “I am Charlie,” expressing solidarity with the victims. At least 120,000 people marched in Toulouse, 75,000 in Nantes and 50,000 in Marseille, Reuters reported.
— JS Evrard (@JSEvrard) January 10, 2015
— Toulouse (@Toulouse) January 10, 2015
The attacks on the editorial office of Charlie Hebdo also inspired rallies across the globe, as people from Hong Kong to Barcelona, Spain, expressed support for freedom of speech in the wake of the killings.
In Morocco, a group of activists and journalists stood outside the Agence France-Presse news agency offices in Rabat, the country’s capital city.
In Spain, a group held pencils and placards outside the French consulate in Barcelona as tribute.
In Hong Kong, the International Federation of Journalists organized a vigil at Statue Square on Jan. 9.
And on Jan. 8, renowned Indian sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik created an 8-foot high sand sculpture to honor the victims of the Paris massacre. He used five tons of sand to create the sculpture, the Odisha Sun Times reported.
A unity rally planned for Sunday in Paris is expected to draw an enormous crowd. A number of world political figures have said they would attend, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters that additional security measures would be deployed in anticipation of the march.
“French people must know all measures have been taken to ensure this demonstration can take place in harmony, respect and of course safety. For those who want to attend it, they can attend in all safety,” he said.
The post Pencils raised from Barcelona to Nantes in solidarity with Paris victims appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: We want to return now to Paris to get a better sense of the mood there in the aftermath of this week’s terror attacks. For more about that, we are joined now via Skype by Rachel Donadio of “The New York Times.”
So, what is the mood there on the streets of Paris?
RACHEL DONADIO, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I would say it’s pretty (AUDIO GAP) and quiet. I walked this morning through the Marais, a quarter of area that has a large Jewish population but also a lot of shops that are normally extremely crowded on the weekend, and it was very empty. It was a little bit eerie, frankly. There were people sitting in cafes reading the newspaper, trying to take stock of what’s been happening.
Colleagues of mine who have been out to Vincennes, which is where the supermarket, the kosher supermarket had hostages taken yesterday, say that the feeling there is even worse. There’s just a sense of siege, really, and this feeling that people don’t feel at ease. I mean, obviously, there is a sense that there are these killers that could come at any time and it puts people really very much on edge.
At the same time, you are also seeing a massive amounts of solidarity. There’s huge rallies organized tomorrow. There’d be a huge rally with heads of state from across Europe, people coming out and expressing solidarity, in favor of democracy, free speech, all of these values that these radical killers were opposed to.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there a sense of anxiety that there could be more attacks, that there is a great deal –
RACHEL DONADIO: Absolutely.
HARI SREENIVASAN: — of unknown, and how do these guys get through the security system?
RACHEL DONADIO: Yes, absolutely. I mean, these are people who clearly had a lot of training, it seems. We’re at “The New York Times” have been reporting that they were probably trained in Yemen, I mean, they had been radicalized and had good training and you never know. I mean, the French security apparatus can’t monitor everybody in sight.
There is a big debate about the limits of surveillance, the limits of democracy. But there is really a sense of who knows what is going to happen next.
It’s tremendously anxious-making. People are talking to their kids about this, trying to explain their own anxieties, kids who are in school when all this happened, when the shootings happened, whether how teachers should explain it to them. I mean, everyone is very, very anxious. There’s a feeling that this is maybe the beginning of something.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Earlier, you also had written about that there is already this conversation happening about the places of immigrants in society and what their role is and how France is really changing over time.
RACHEL DONADIO: Yes, absolutely. It’s a sense where many people do not feel at home in France. Obviously, the Jews who were targeted in the supermarket yesterday, they do not feel very much at home. Maybe some of these Muslim guys who grew up in France, have French passports, went to study jihad, they probably don’t feel very much at home in France, and then a lot of other people who live in France don’t always feel at home in France.
There is a sense that people don’t feel at home at home, whether that means you’re Jewish, Muslim or trying to come to terms with these larger debates. I mean, you don’t know what kind of clash in civilization, whether it’s just individuals who go and do crazy things, and it causes a profound amount of anxiety here.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Rachel Donadio of “The New York Times” — thanks so much.
RACHEL DONADIO: Thank you.
The post ‘Sense of siege’: French citizens on edge after Paris attacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: We want to go much more deeply now into the extent of the terror threat overseas and examine what dangers it poses here in the United States.
For more about that, we are joined now from Washington by John McLaughlin. He was the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency for nearly four years.
So, as we continue to learn more about how this attack unfolded, the kind of training these individuals had, what should the U.S. be concerned about?
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think what we have here that should concern us is that there are a larger number of people in the extremist movement now with western passports than at any time in history.
Look at just Europe alone; there are more than 1,200 Frenchmen there. There are something like 500 Germans, 300 or 400 from the U.K., and that’s the tip of the iceberg. And we don’t know how many Americans. Perhaps 100 to 200 Americans, are the figures I have seen, somehow involved with the jihad in Syria and Iraq.
What that means is that there is unprecedented potential for movement toward the United States and, of course, into Europe as well by passport holders who can move freely among the 27 countries of the European Union and as European Union members in most cases be able to come to the United States without a visa.
So, that imposes on the United States and our intelligence services, our border controls and so forth, a very high standard for detecting movement into and out of this country.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, isn’t there – I’m sorry.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Let’s go ahead. No, go ahead.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Wouldn’t the United States know who some of these people are and sort of be able to sort of cross-check against a couple of lists saying, OK, this is a German passport holder but he’s been in an area in Yemen that is known to have terrorist training camps?
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, we’re pretty good at that. The thing I would say, though, is that we are dealing here with thousands of people.
Now, that said, I think we have probably the best — what’s called a watch listing system in the world.
That is to say, who is not authorized to get on airplanes, who should we be concerned about if not to prevent them from getting on planes, to pull them out of line if we know they are there and do some secondary questioning for them.
We spent so much time on that since 9/11 that we have a very finely-tuned system for that, as you may have noticed now.
A couple of these individuals in France were on our no-fly list, so had they gotten on an airplane and come to the United States, in many cases now, we have arrangements with airports overseas to have the manifests of planes traveling here, someone would have picked them out from those manifests as people that we needed to catch at the airport for further questioning.
So, we are pretty good at that, but what I — the caveat I would say is, we are talking here about an enormous volume of people in a field of intelligence, counter — rather, counter-terrorism, that is, in my experience, the most labor intensive part of intelligence. \
It’s not like estimating a large conventional military force.
The big change here that I would since say since, say, the Cold War is back then we had to look for very big things in the world — bombers, submarines, whole army groups.
Now, we have to look for very small things — a single person, a bomb in a suitcase, a liquid on a plane. The requirements are much higher and the potential for someone slipping through is very high.
And we have some incidents of this in our country, attempted bombing of New York — Times Square in New York and so forth.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what sorts of resources are we talking about? Is the United States equipped to try to make that net as tight as possible?
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we are. But, again, I would have to say, you know, expect someone to get through here.
I think we are now in an era where the new normal is this kind of attack, and most intelligence specialists will tell you to expect something like this to happen in the United States at some point.
Now, what we do to stop that, to minimize the chances? Well, the first requirement I think out of the events in Paris is for much closer — we already have close consultation with these intelligence services — but for much closer and tighter sharing of information among intelligence services about everything.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Isn’t that already happening?
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, it’s already happening, but you always have to look at it in the aftermath of something like this.
I did a study for the director of national intelligence after the failed Christmas bomber in 2009 and 2010, and, of course, by then our consultation with other services was dramatically better than it was at the time of 9/11, but there were still some barriers that we recommended be removed.
I suspect there are still some seams, what I would call them as seams, that is where one set of authority bumps up against another set of authorities.
The simplest example is in the United States where the CIA is not permitted to operate within the United States legally. The FBI is. That’s a seam. So, we work very hard to build bridges across that seam quite successfully.
So, you have equivalent seams that exist among foreign intelligence services, say, an intelligence service in Europe gets information from another service in Europe.
Can that service then give that information from a second service to us? Or do they first have to go back and ask the service from which they got it?
Those are the kind of seams that we ought to attack now. We are very good at this but I think in the aftermath of something like this, you always take another look and say, what happened here that we can improve? And I’m sure we’re going to do that.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. So, the head of the MI5 recently said that, you know, he is concerned with the increasingly level of threat and the decreasing amount of the capability or capacity he has to deal with those threats. That’s got to be somewhat similar in the U.S. as well.
But that sort of intel speak, break that down for a U.S. audience — how is it they see these threats and can’t seem to fight them or keep up?
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: It’s a simple matter of volume. The volume of threat has gone up dramatically in the last four years, five years, in part for a whole variety of complex reasons.
Terrorists now have the largest safe haven they have had in over a decade when you look at the area in the — essentially, the Middle East and North Africa and the large ungoverned spaces.
So, many things are behind it, but the volume of people participating in jihadist operations is much greater.
So, in order to surveil someone, and many commentaries have made this point in recent days, it takes anywhere between a dozen and 30 people to do 24-hour surveillance on an individual so that they don’t detect someone surveilling them. So, it’s a simple matter of volume, and you have so many — only so many intelligence officers. You know, I would say when you compare the numbers of intelligence officers to the numbers of jihadists for a country like Britain, they are far outnumbered.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, they have maybe 500 cases that they’re working at any given time at a very fine level of detail.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, John McLaughlin, former deputy director of the CIA — thanks so much for joining us.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: You bet.
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WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder says investigators at this point don’t have “any credible information” to determine which terrorist group was responsible for the attacks in Paris.
Al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen has said it directed the attack by two brothers against a newspaper that lampooned Islam and other religions.
And the gunman in the hostage-taking at a kosher market is seen in a new video pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group.
Holder says both terrorist groups pose a threat to the United States and its allies.
The attorney general spoke in a series of interviews with the Sunday morning news shows in Washington. Holder was in Paris, where he was attending a meeting with on fighting terrorism.
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AHMEDABAD, India — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday called for a rapid expansion of U.S.-India trade and commercial ties as he attended an international investment conference ahead of visit by President Barack Obama later this month.
Kerry led the U.S. delegation to the investment summit in Ahmedabad, the main financial city in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat. Kerry said it was imperative that economic ties between the two countries grow for the sake of Indian development, reducing poverty and fighting climate change.
“We can do more together, and we must do more together, and we have to do it faster,” Kerry told the conference, which Modi opened.
Commerce and investment between the United States and India have jumped in recent years, growing nearly five-fold since 2000 with bilateral direct investment at almost $30 billion. But it still faces obstacles dues to restrictive Indian laws and regulations and concerns about intellectual property rights and protection. In addition, talks on liability issues that have kept American nuclear power operators from doing business in India have been inconclusive to date.
U.S. officials said they were working on agreements that could include a solar energy deal, a plan to improve rural electrification and potentially a carbon reduction pact that they hoped could be signed when Obama visits India to participate in India’s annual Republic Day ceremonies on Jan. 26. Modi has invited Obama to be the “chief guest” at the celebration, the first sitting American president to be so honored.
Last year, to the surprise of many, Obama was able to seal a carbon emissions reduction pact with China during a visit to Beijing. The U.S., China and India are the largest emitters of carbon.
Kerry has made fighting climate change, largely through clean and sustainable energy development and reducing emissions, a priority. He has given a number of speeches on the dangers facing the planet if urgent action is not taken, and Sunday’s address in Ahmedabad was no exception.
“There is one enormous cloud hanging over all of us which requires responsibility from leaders,” he said. “Global climate change is already violently affecting communities not just across India but around the world. It is disrupting commerce, development, and economic growth. It’s costing farmers crops. It’s costing insurance companies unbelievable payouts. It’s raising the cost of doing business, and believe me, if it continues down the current trend-line, we will see climate refugees fighting each other for water and seeking food and new opportunity.”
Kerry met separately with Modi and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, and planned talks with the prime minister of the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, marking a rare cabinet-level meeting between the two nations.
Between meetings, Kerry took time out to visit Mahatma Gandhi’s former home and ashram on the city’s outskirts, touring the site where the Indian independence champion lived from 1917 until 1930.
Gandhi organized many of his nonviolent protests against British rule from the cottage and Kerry noted in the guest book that it was “a great privilege to visit this remarkable house from which so much thought and action changed the world.”
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Over one million people poured into the streets of Paris on Sunday in a march to honor the victims of three days of violence which began with the massacre of 12 people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday.
A total of 17 people were killed in what has been described as the worst terror attack on French soil in decades.
The rally for unity is said to be the largest demonstration in French history.
A ministry spokesman said between 1.2 and 1.6 million people participated in Paris, and that 2.5 million marched in other cities across France, Reuters reported.
World leaders from across Europe as well as Israel and the Palestinian territories linked arms with President Francois Hollande of France at the head of the march, which began at Place de la République in central Paris.
“Paris is today the capital of the world. Our entire country will rise up and show its best side,” Hollande said in a statement.
The rally was held to show “the power, the dignity of the French people who will be shouting out of love of freedom and tolerance,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Saturday.
“Journalists were killed because they defended freedom. Policemen were killed because they were protecting you. Jews were killed because they were Jewish,” he said. “The indignation must be absolute and total — not for three days only, but permanently.”
Amid a heavy security presence — which included over 2,000 police officers and soldiers – marchers waving French flags and carrying oversized pencils made their way down Boulevard Voltaire in the city’s 11th district.
Police snipers were stationed on rooftops and security officials searched city sewers ahead of the march, Reuters reported. Underground subway stations were closed down along the route.
On Saturday evening a German newspaper that reprinted satirical cartoons by Charlie Hedbo in a show of solidarity was hit by arsonists, raising tensions ahead of the march.
Two people were arrested for throwing an incendiary device into the building of the Hamburger Morgenpost daily, Reuters reported. No one was in the building at the time of the firebombing.
Hamburg police said it was “too soon” to tell if there was a connection between the arson attack and the newspaper’s Charlie Hebdo tribute, Agence France-Presse reported.
Elsewhere in Europe, solidarity marches were held in cities from Berlin to Brussels. In London, iconic landmarks including the Tower Bridge and National Gallery were lit up with the colors of the French flag, as a tribute to the victims.
In the days following the terror attacks in Paris, demonstrators have gathered in city streets across the globe in defense of freedom of the press.
From Barcelona to Hong Kong, many carried signs that said “Je suis Charlie.”
Two young girls strapped with explosives in northeast Nigeria blew themselves up Sunday, killing three other people in the second apparent attack in two days using child suicide bombers.
Witnesses said the mid-afternoon blasts happened in an open market that sells mobile handsets in Nigeria’s northeast Yobe state, Reuters reported, where 26 others were wounded.
Both children appeared to be no more than 10 years old, Sani Abdu Potiskum, a trader at the market said.
“I saw their dead bodies. They are two young girls of about 10 years of age … you only see the plaited hair and part of the upper torso,” he told Reuters.
Sunday’s attack came on the heels of a deadlier bombing on Saturday when another young girl aged about ten exploded in a busy marketplace in Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri, killing 19 people and injuring more than 20, the BBC reported.
The Yobe state has been frequently attacked by the Sunni Muslim jihadist group, Reuters reported.
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WASHINGTON — The White House plans a conference next month on efforts to counter violent extremism – in light of this past week’s shootings in France, and earlier attacks in Canada and Australia.
The meeting will highlight domestic and international efforts to prevent extremists and their supporters from radicalizing, recruiting and inspiring others in the United States and elsewhere to carry out violent acts.
The White House says the Feb. 18 summit will build upon a current U.S. strategy to address the threat of violent extremism. The White House says cities such as Boston, Los Angeles and Minneapolis-St. Paul have taken a leading role as part of their approach to crime prevention and community safety.
Representatives from other countries will attend, though the White House did not identify them.
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Indonesian search teams believe they’ve located the black box flight recorders of the AirAsia flight that crashed into the Java Sea two weeks ago, officials announced Sunday.
Searchers have heard pings from the area where the plane’s tail was found Saturday, but strong winds and high waves have delayed efforts to find other parts of the wreckage, Reuters reported.
Divers hope to retrieve the recorders, which Transport Ministry spokesman J.A. Barata said are buried under layers of aircraft debris, on Monday.
Information obtained from the black box, the device that records voices in the cockpit and flight data, should help investigators determine what happened when Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 lost contact with air traffic control on Dec. 28 during a two-hour flight from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore.
All of the 162 people aboard the aircraft died as the aircraft crashed into the sea.
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WASHINGTON — Adjusting medications before someone gets sick enough to visit the doctor. Updating outside specialists so one doctor’s prescription doesn’t interfere with another’s.
Starting this month, Medicare will pay primary care doctors a monthly fee to better coordinate care for the most vulnerable seniors – those with multiple chronic illnesses – even if they don’t have a face-to-face exam.
The goal is to help patients stay healthier between doctor visits, and avoid pricey hospitals and nursing homes.
“We all need care coordination. Medicare patients need it more than ever,” said Sean Cavanaugh, deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
About two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries have two or more chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease. Their care is infamously fragmented. They tend to visit numerous doctors for different illnesses.
Too often, no one oversees their overall health – making sure multiple treatments don’t mix badly, that X-rays and other tests aren’t repeated just because one doctor didn’t know another already had ordered them, and that nothing falls between the cracks.
Medicare’s new fee, which is about $40 a month per qualified patient, marks a big policy shift. Usually, the program pays for services in the doctor’s office.
“We’re hoping to spur change, getting physicians to be much more willing to spend time working on the needs of these patients without necessitating the patient to come into the office,” Cavanaugh told The Associated Press.
To earn the new fee, doctors must come up with a care plan for qualified patients, and spend time each month on such activities as coordinating their care with other health providers and monitoring their medications. Also, patients must have a way to reach someone with the care team who can access their health records 24 hours a day, for proper evaluation of an after-hours complaint.
Many primary care physicians already do some of that.
“Quite honestly, I just didn’t get paid for it,” said Dr. Robert Wergin, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Wergin estimates he spends about two hours a day doing such things as calling elderly patients who have a hard time visiting his office in rural Milford, Nebraska.
Say someone with heart failure reports a little weight gain, a possible sign of fluid buildup but not enough to make the patient call for an appointment. Wergin might adjust the medication dose over the phone, and urge an in-person exam in a few days if that doesn’t solve the problem.
The new fee could enable physicians to hire extra nurses or care managers to do more of that preventive work, Wergin said. Patients must agree to care coordination; the fee is subject to Medicare’s standard deductible and coinsurance. Wergin plans to explain it as, “This is how we’re going to hopefully manage your illnesses better at home.”
But for some patients, care coordination can require a lot more work.
It’s like being a quarterback, Dr. Matthew Press wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine last summer in describing the 80 days between diagnosing a man’s liver cancer and his surgery. The internist, while at Weill Cornell Medical College, sent 32 emails and had eight phone calls with the patient’s 11 other physicians. That’s something CMS’ Cavanaugh said a doctor in private practice would find hard to squeeze in.
The chronic care management fee is one of multiple projects Medicare has underway in hopes of strengthening primary care, and in turn save money. For example, about 500 practices in a demonstration project involving Medicare and private insurers are receiving monthly payments, averaging $20 a patient, to improve care management and coordination for everyone, not just those at high risk.
Stay tuned: Medicare is tracking data on quality and costs to see if the experiment is working.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Every year, millions of North American monarch butterflies head south for the winter in one of the insect world’s most fantastic feats.
But as you’ve likely heard, their numbers have declined dramatically in the past two decades. Now the federal government is considering new steps to try to reverse the trend.
Scientists are still trying to determine just how many of the butterflies made the long trip to Mexico this winter.
Still hoping that the 90 percent decline that began in the 1990s has finally come to an end.
DIRECTOR MONARCH BUTTERFLY RESERVE, GLORIA TAVERA: Well this 2014 – 2015 season is a critical season for us after the numbers we had last season.
We hope work done jointly by the United States, Canada and Mexico will help to increase the numbers of butterflies arriving in our sanctuaries.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But even as the butterfly count continues in Mexico…in Washington, responding to a petition submitted by conservation organizations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced a year-long review that could mean the butterflies are placed on the Endangered Species list.
If that happens, there could be ripple effects, the monarch’s habitats in the U.S. could become protected under law and that, in turn, could lead to restrictions on the use of herbicides that many farmers depend on to kill weeds without harming their crops.
But the time it takes to make these decisions is consequential.
A report published by the Center for Biological Diversity, a non-profit conservation organization, found that 83 species became extinct between 1974 and 1994, at the very time the government was deliberating about whether or not to include them on the Endangered Species list.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: I’m joined now by retired officers Mike Byrd and Russell Williams.
So, not just in New York, but around the country, there are active conversations now about policing in communities of color.
Beyond that, in your opinions, what is the source of these tensions?
MIKE BYRD, Former New York Police Department Officer: It’s mostly frustration, you know?
And people are taking their frustrations out. And I blame — I blame the administrations. The police officers are just doing what they have been taught to do, which is enforce the laws of their respective city, state, or local government.
And, sometimes, yes, you do have certain officers that go above and beyond that. But, however, it’s more so government is turning their backs on a lot of the people.
HARI SREENIVASAN: When you saw these demonstrations after Ferguson here in New York, after Eric Garner here in New York, what went through your minds?
RUSSELL WILLIAMS, Former New York Police Department Officer: A lot of people took it on as being anti-police.
But I think, you know, you can be against policies without being anti-police. You can be against overuse of stop, question and frisk. And, of course, you can be against brutality. Who wants to be in favor brutality?
So, I understand their frustration that they feel. Like, they feel like they’re being targeted unfairly. So I didn’t take it personally, although I know a lot of people do –
HARI SREENIVASAN: Mm-hmm.
RUSSELL WILLIAMS: — that they feel, well, it contributes to an environment.
And a lot of officers that it was anti-police in general. And that’s why that guy came all the way from Baltimore to kill two police officers.
HARI SREENIVASAN: There is also this feeling that, when an officer does try reach out to try bridge the divide and improve relations with the community — for example, in Pittsburgh, around New Year’s, there was the chief of police there had posed for a sign in a coffee shop or something and it kind of went viral on the Internet. In the sign, he said, “I resolve to challenge racism at work, end white silence.”
And, immediately, he got a lot of pushback from some of his kind of unions, saying, look, you just labeled us, all us cops, as a bunch of racists, and that’s not fair.
Why is it that it’s such a harsh dichotomy?
MIKE BYRD: Well, I can’t speak as far as Pittsburgh is concerned, but I know the 20 years that — 20-plus years I had with police department in New York City, they’re — the New York City Police Department is so racially diverse.
You have Russian cops. You have black officers, Latino officers. You have gays. You have — I worked with people from India.
So, to label us as racist, it’s kind of hard, you know, because we’re more diverse than any other industry or any other type of profession in the world.
RUSSELL WILLIAMS: When you go to a 911 call, we don’t care who’s calling. We just go to assist. We go to help.
So, officers don’t feel like they’re — you know, don’t like to be labeled as racist, although that is a hard conversation. That is something that is very hard to hear.
HARI SREENIVASAN: There was a community activist here last week who was talking a little bit about her organization ends up having to field phone calls from people because they can’t get themselves to trust the police.
L. JOY WILLIAMS, President, NAACP Brooklyn Chapter: To be an effective law enforcement, you have to have the trust and the commitment and cooperation of a community.
Listen, I have had instances, just in this past year, where I have had a grandmother call an NAACP office with her young grandson that she takes care of at 14 years old, and that a local gang is making him keep guns in her house.
She does not feel comfortable calling the police department, because she doesn’t trust them.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, you have walked the beats before. You have figured out how to make things work.
Why is there that type of distrust in the community, especially communities of color? And what do you do to get over that?
RUSSELL WILLIAMS: Well, it helps if you do community policing, one on — you know, talk to people one on one, which is what I did when I worked in the South Bronx.
You can’t generalize. One community, they welcome you there. You know, I worked with the people, and they were glad to see me.
Another area, they actually had a neighborhood watch against the police. Whenever I came, it’s like, all the drug dealers, they had their lookouts.
Everybody was working against me because they were trying to make money.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So why do you think that distrust exists?
MIKE BYRD: Giuliani moved away from community policing, and it moved towards, we need to clean up the streets. We need more proactive.
We need to make more arrests for quality-of-life issues.
And after that was all done and we cleaned up the streets, the mistake in the New York City Police Department was not to go back to community policing.
The police department needs to go back to teaching social sciences and having the cop know how to deal with different types of people, different races, you know?
It’s not — it’s more — nowadays, it’s more robotic, and they have lost touch with the community.
HARI SREENIVASAN: You know, one of the sources of tension was the conversation that Mayor Bill de Blasio described at a press conference with — that he had to have with his biracial son.
Now, African-American communities said, that’s not really news to us. We have had to have that conversation.
In fact, an officer sitting here last week had this very difficult kind of dilemma, where he said, yes, I’m a police officer, but I had to have that conversation too.
JULIAN HARPER, Former New York City Police Lieutenant: I have a younger son who is 13 years old that is a pretty big 13-year-old.
And he’s a very innocent child. So, he wouldn’t even understand an interaction between him and the police.
He understands that his father was a policeman. He understands that he’s taken photos as a child in his father’s uniform, and he was proud of that.
But, unfortunately, the way that police respond and interact with our young black youth is problematic.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Just the mention of that conversation and perhaps the increased legitimization of it was a very sore spot for so many police officers here in New York and elsewhere in the country. Why is that?
RUSSELL WILLIAMS: Well, I blame a lot of that on Mayor Bloomberg, actually, because you got to remember that what happened was that there was a great increase in stop, question and frisk.
That’s where a lot of the tension came from, from a lot of blacks being stopped.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Mm-hmm.
RUSSELL WILLIAMS: You have 90 — out of all those stops, maybe 90 percent, they weren’t even arrested, which means that you had 90 percent of people were stopped for basically no reason.
And of course you’re going to have tension there. You have got to remember that, under Giuliani, even though we were cleaning up the city, the number of stop, question and frisks topped up at about 100,000 a year.
Under Bloomberg, that increased 600 percent to almost 700,000 a year. That’s a vast increase.
MIKE BYRD: Hari, I grew up as a child and through my teenager years, I grew up in Washington Heights in Harlem.
And I come from a biracial marriage. My father’s Irish. My mother’s Dominican. OK?
I was always taught to respect the police. If a police officer comes up to you and asks you a question, you answer him with respect.
I have given that same philosophy to my children. If they get stopped by the police, “It’s, yes, sir, what did I do wrong, sir?” not sucking your teeth and waving your hands or anything like this that you do see in certain communities in New York City.
When a police officer comes up to a group of kids on the corner, they will have an attitude. That part comes from your upbringing, you know? Respect the police.
RUSSELL WILLIAMS: I mean, I have to say that I come from a police family. My brother was a police officer before me. My father was a police officer.
So, actually, my father didn’t have that kind of talk with me. I mean, of course, I respect people, but he didn’t say, well, you have to look out — you know, you are going to have to look out for the police, you know?
He said — he told me that you just have to respect everybody, you know, and respect authority.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Do you understand that that conversation is happening places, in places beyond Mayor de Blasio’s household?
RUSSELL WILLIAMS: No, of course. I understand that conversation is happening.
And that’s because, you know, police are the enforcement arm. So, the whole system can seem kind of stacked against minorities.
I mean, if you look at the disparities between marijuana arrests, studies show that whites and blacks show — use marijuana at the same rates, right?
But, as far as arrests go, blacks are vastly over-represented. And that’s because the policing is focused on the minority community.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, then how could you have such different outcomes?
MIKE BYRD: Well, it’s just like Russell said.
Whites and blacks smoke the same amount of marijuana. I would say 90 percent of the whites are smoking it in the privacy of their home or in the privacy of a certain place, whereas, in the black communities, they’re out in public smoking it. So we — we see it, you know?
If I see a white guy smoking pot, I’m going to stop him and give him his summons or make the arrest.
It just — to me, it doesn’t matter who’s smoking it. It’s breaking the law in my presence. It doesn’t matter.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Down on the street level, what is the tip, as two retired officers, that you have for both the community, as well as the police, to stop this before it gets worse?
RUSSELL WILLIAMS: Well, it’s like Mike said earlier. You have to get back to community policing. Let the officers focus more on one-on-one.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And beyond New York, what’s your suggestion?
MIKE BYRD: The police need to get out into the community. They have to. They can’t just stay in the cars and drive around and wait for something to happen. They need to go and just walk the beat.
HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. Mike Byrd, Russell Williams, thank you both for your time.
MIKE BYRD: Thank you.
RUSSELL WILLIAMS: Thank you.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Yesterday, the former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency told us one of his biggest concerns is radicalized young men with E.U. or American passports entering the U.S. to commit terrorist acts like the ones in France this past week.
That got us thinking. What’s being to done to prevent them from being radicalized in the first place?
For more about that, we are joined now from Washington by Humera Khan. She’s the executive director of Muflehun, a think tank whose mission is to thwart terrorism. She’s also an adviser to several government agencies, including the FBI.
So what can be done to prevent the radicalization in the first place?
HUMERA KHAN, Executive Director, Muflehun: Well, for prevention, one of the most important things you have to deal with is raising awareness.
People need to know what they’re up against and actually raise barriers the to entry, so you don’t have youth actually wanting to engage in it in the first place.
For those people who are not caught through prevention, right, that they are — they have somehow already gone down the track, you actually have to start talking about interventions.
And that is the case where someone has been exposed to the ideas, has not committed any criminal activity yet, right? So, they’re not mobilized toward criminal activity.
And then you actually have to have an intervention to stop them from going off to fight and committing an act of terrorism, and then actually really work with them specifically.
And that’s an individual process to get them to disengage from their thoughts psychologically, as well as from the actions.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what kind of interventions are you talking about? Do you have families, do you have members of the community intervening? What do they do?
HUMERA KHAN: The spectrum. It actually depends on the case.
And intervention models have — are different depending on the country and also the neighborhood you’re talking about.
So, for example, in the U.S., we actually have models where you’re running it through imams, right? The actual clergy themselves are engaged with providing counseling.
And the counseling is not just for the individual, but also for family members, because, sometimes, in some cases, you actually have family dysfunction.
In other countries, you actually have intervention programs which are run through family — the actual family itself. Others are run through different community centers, anyone who can actually have a trusted relationship with the person.
There is an element of trust and there is an element of legitimacy, in terms of what they’re saying. That person can do it. It could be a youth director.
It could be a mentor. It could be — there’s a lot of options available. It just depends on the case.
HARI SREENIVASAN: This isn’t a process — a process that happens overnight. I mean, many of these individuals, you hear about them for year after year kind of walking down that path.
So, how do you intervene at just the right time?
HUMERA KHAN: Well, interventions are something which, the earlier you do it, the better off you are, because the further along that you leave someone and the ideas are developing without any check or balance or even a counterargument, the harder it is to pull them back.
So, in the first times when you are actually seeing something shifting, the behavior is changing, their opinions are shifting, that’s the place, that’s ideal place that you want to do it, before you have to — because once the ideas are set, it is a lot harder to try and deconstruct them.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, how do you combat, for example, the influence of social media these days, right?
Is it possible to keep someone from watching YouTube videos of speeches that might be preaching something or joining a hashtag and celebrating a specific attack?
HUMERA KHAN: Well, social media is used to recruit, which also means that social media has the power to be used for an intervention to actually pull people back.
That, in itself, is not enough, right? A hashtag is not — never going to be enough to change a person’s mind. It’s what else happens.
And social media is — is actually a very interactive platform. And we have to use that interactivity across the full spectrum of — of tools out there to actually engage people to change their ideas.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Humera Khan of Muflehun, thanks so much for joining us.
HUMERA KHAN: Thank you very much for having me.
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder isn’t saying whether he still will be on the job when the time comes to decide whether to bring charges in the investigation of former CIA Director David Petraeus.
Holder, in several television news interviews on Sunday, steered clear of commenting directly on the investigation.
But he told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he expects that “a matter of this magnitude” would be decided “at the highest level” of the department.
Holder has announced he’s stepping down as attorney general. President Barack Obama has nominated a federal prosecutor, Loretta Lynch, who awaits Senate confirmation.
Federal investigators have been looking into whether Petraeus improperly shared classified materials with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.
Petraeus admitted having an affair with her when he resigned from the CIA in 2012.
Holder said on ABC’s “This Week” that “any investigation that is ongoing will be done in a fair and an appropriate way.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, urged the government to take a pass.
“This man has suffered enough, in my view,” Feinstein, D-Calif., told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
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The PBS NewsHour is grateful for the support of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and its commitment to journalism. During this difficult week of news, CPB President Pat Harrison announced a grant of $7.5 million in honor and support of freedom of the press and freedom of expression to the PBS NewsHour, NPR, Frontline and PRI The World.
“Now more than ever it takes so much courage to be a journalist. To understand that every word you may write, every cartoon you might draw could be your last. The chilling effect this can have may result in stories not told, reports not filed, journalism watered down,” Harrison said. “We in public media are proud of our commitment to providing content that informs, educates and inspires. We invest in high quality trusted journalism and work to ensure that the firewall of independence for journalists is strong and immovable.”
At the PBS NewsHour, we grieve for the murdered journalists and staff of Charlie Hebdo as well as those who were trying to protect them, and our hearts ache for all of the victims caught up in this week’s terror in France. We are ever mindful of the risks so many journalists take to do their work. And we are grateful to CPB, PBS and all of our generous supporters for allowing us to bring that work to you.
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No, it’s not the mythical Loch Ness monster, but 170 million years ago Dearcmhara shawcrossi prowled the warm coastal waters of Scotland in pursuit of fish and other reptiles. Scientists announced the discovery of the previously unknown prehistoric marine reptile in the Scottish Journal of Geology today. An artist’s depiction shows a dolphin-like creature measuring about 14 feet from snout to tail that lived during the Jurassic Period. It’s a moderate-sized ichthyosaur, the dominant marine reptiles that lived in the time of dinosaurs. They were around for 150 million years, until they disappeared about 95 million years ago. This discovery fills in some of the information of the Early-to-Middle Jurassic timeline that has proven hard to crack for paleontologists.
Amateur fossil hunter Brian Shawcross discovered this marine reptile’s fossils on Bearreraig Bay in the northern part of the Isle of Skye in 1959. He later donated them to the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow. But it wasn’t until a consortium of scientists led by the University of Edinburgh recently re-examined the back, tail and fin pieces that they realized what they had. The new species name honors the fossil collector Shawcross. Dr. Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences said, “Without the generosity of the collector who donated the bones to a museum instead of keeping them or selling them, we would have never known that this amazing animal existed.” The genus name, Dearcmhara, (pronounced “jark vara”) is a nod to the creature’s habitat; it means “marine lizard” in Scottish Gaelic.
Skye is known as Scotland’s Dinosaur Isle — one of the few places in the world where dinosaur fossils from the Middle Jurassic period can be found. During the Jurassic period, much of Skye was underwater.
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After a Staten Island grand jury did not indict an NYPD officer for the chokehold death of Eric Garner, the Office of the Inspector General launched an internal review.
“A chokehold shall include, but is not limited to, any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air.”
Despite the prohibition, the report detailed 10 circumstances of police using chokeholds and found that disciplinary action taken against officers who broke this rule were inconsistent with the Civilian Complaint Review Board’s (CCRB) recommended punishment.
According to the report, “CCRB recommended Administrative Charges in [six cases], but none of these substantiated chokehold cases ever went to trial before a NYPD Trial Commissioner.” In each of the six instances, the “Police Commissioner rejected the disciplinary recommendation of CCRB, imposing a less severe penalty than that recommended by CCRB or deciding that no discipline was warranted at all.”
The report outlined four recommendations for future occurrences including an increase in “coordination and collaboration between NYPD and CCRB” and a provision of transparency when it comes to Police Commissioner’s disciplinary decisions.
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A few years ago, poet Bill Berkson was at a friend’s dinner party where the conversation steered towards romantic movies. The poet began musing about the climactic kiss in Hollywood films and the concept of happily ever after. When he went home that night, he wrote his thoughts down in a poem called “Reprise,” which appears in his collection “Expect Delays,” published in November.
“Just as I’m happy to sit down and quote other people, you take your lines and poems wherever you can get them,” Berkson told Art Beat.
Berkson’s poetry isn’t known for one particular style, and “Expect Delays” captures that variety. He describes it as a “sense of scatter.” The collection showcases different approaches and writing styles, varying between abstract and concrete, related experiences and unrelated.
It’s his first book since his 2009 “Portrait and Dream,” which collected 50 years of work. Through the process of editing that collection, Berkson pored over five decades of his poetry and began to see the full range of his writing. For the first time, he says he let himself take pleasure in it.
“I used to worry about not having a signature style or central subject matter or a fixed character of poetry and at some point the worry ceased,” he said. “I gave myself permission to do what I’ve been doing all along without worrying about it. In one way, I’m too old to worry — I’ve been doing this for nearly 60 years — and so it’s really that I learned to enjoy that I could write pretty much anything that came my way, that I would be given to write or inclined to write.”
Listen to Bill Berkson read “Reprise” from his new collection “Expect Delays.”
“Happily ever after”—you don’t know that feeling? After many difficulties
the two stars are kissing with their eyes closed, and the music swells.
The screen says THE END in big block letters. Happy ending: you’re
set for life. In the seats everyone is choked up, crying for the happiness
such prolonged kissing promises. Meanwhile, kissing itself is amazing.
I got completely lost in it. I went out and started kissing anyone I could find.
Who? I always had good taste in women.
For Paul & Isabelle, January 13, 2012
at Mary Valledor & Carlos Villa’s
“Expect Delays” is divided into four sections. One section includes acrostic poems Berkson wrote for friends’ birthdays and weddings, and for his wife on Valentine ’s Day. He debated whether to include this section in the book. “Most of them would come under the heading of light verse and very occasional and person-to-person,” he said. “In one way would they be taken seriously and, in another, they were too private, but then I thought, not at all…. It gives a wider sense of what I do as a poet.”
Another section offers three “arrangements” that vary from prose to poetry to stray lines and aphorisms. Berkson wrote these starting in 2005 in one long document on the computer.
“As I was adding things to it, I began to see that some of these things are connected, but not necessarily one after the other in chronological order. Not like a diary, not like a journal or daybook, but I began collaging them, really.”
Berkson thanks his “good editorial imagination” for his ability to organize his work. It’s the same skill, he says, that helps him strengthen poems that give him trouble.
Berkson recalls another poet’s musing on the art form as a way “to keep the language from going insane.”
“I think that is something very useful for poets to keep in mind these days,” he said. “There’s also that little insanity in poetry that does everybody some good.”
“Reprise” from “Expect Delays” by Bill Berkson, courtesy of Coffee House Press.
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HAVANA — Cuba has completed the release of 53 political prisoners that was part of last month’s historic deal with the United States, the Obama administration said Monday. The move clears a major hurdle for the normalization of ties between the two countries after more than five decades of estrangement.
The prisoners had been on a list of opposition figures whose release was sought as part of the U.S. agreement last month with the Cuban government. They had been cited by various human rights organizations as being imprisoned by the Cuban government for exercising internationally protected freedoms or for their promotion of political and social reforms in Cuba.
The Obama administration provided the list of released Cuban dissidents to prominent members of Congress. A copy of the list was obtained by The Associated Press. One former prisoner is referred to as “on probation.”
In the accompanying letters to lawmakers, Secretary of State John Kerry writes of his concern about “short-term detentions of Cubans peacefully attempting to express their opinions.”
“We do not expect that the changes to U.S. policy will effect a transformation of Cuban society overnight,” Kerry writes. “We are convinced, however, the old policy of isolation did not achieve its objectives, and that a new policy will more effectively promote our values and help the Cuban people help themselves as they move into the 21st century.”
Speaking in Louisville, Kentucky, President Barack Obama’s U.N. ambassador said the prisoners were released in recent days. “Welcome as that step is, and heartening as it is for their families, (it) does not resolve the larger human rights problems on the island,” Samantha Power said, according to prepared remarks.
Power was speaking Monday at an event hosted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. She outlined issues which the administration and the Republican-led Congress could work together on and issues they remained further apart on.
Both sides want to advance freedom in Cuba, she said, but they disagree on strategy.
“Some of the embargo’s staunchest defenders are Democrats and Republicans with deep ties to the island — people whose families came to America fleeing the Castros’ repression,” Power explained. “These are men and women who are completely dedicated to doing all they can to ensure that Cubans on the island get to enjoy true freedom. So it is important to acknowledge that while there may be disagreements on the best way to get there, we share a common goal of advancing the rights of the Cuban people.”
Power said changes already are occurring in Cuba. When Cuban artist Tania Bruguera and other activists were detained after announcing an anti-government event in Havana’s historic Revolution Square, she said, nearly 300 Cuban artists signed a letter supporting her freedom.
“In spite of genuine fear, Cubans were speaking out,” Power said. “And the Castro government was forced to explain why it would rather arrest a woman than let her speak freely in a public square.”
Last month, Cuba and the U.S. agreed to work to restore normal diplomatic relations as part of a deal in which Cuba freed an imprisoned U.S. aid worker along with an imprisoned spy working for the U.S. and the imprisoned dissidents. The U.S. released several Cuba intelligence agents.
“Certainly, for those 53 prisoners, it’s a great deal,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in an appearance Monday on “CBS This Morning.”
Rubio said he supports improving ties with Cuba but said he’s worried that Cuban officials are getting virtually everything they want from the United States for “these minimal changes.”
He said he wants to be certain that improved relations between Washington and Havana provides equal benefits to the U.S.
“My interest in Cuba is freedom and democracy,” he said. Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who’s considering a run for the presidency, said there is “no current example” around the world where a “government of resistant tyranny” has moved to greater freedom and democracy as a result of changes in international relations that are based on economic incentives.
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GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight: The government released new data today showing that arts and culture contribute more to the U.S. economy than previously thought.
Jeffrey Brown recently sat down with the heads of the two government agencies tasked that promote the arts and humanities. They discussed the state of the arts in 2015.
JEFFREY BROWN: Jane Chu was born in Oklahoma to parents who had immigrated from China and spoke only Mandarin at home. When her father died when she was 9, it was music that helped her through.
JANE CHU, National Endowment for the Arts: I didn’t have enough words to articulate the grief of a loss of a parent, and certainly in my situation, having Mandarin at home and English in school. But music for some reason gave me a way to express myself, and I realized the power of it.
JEFFREY BROWN: Chu would become a leading arts administrator, heading the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City. Seven months ago, she was confirmed as the 11th chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.
William “Bro” Adams, born in Michigan, served as an Army lieutenant in Vietnam and later, his hair longer, got a Ph.D. in philosophy. He would eventually rise to become president of Colby College in Maine. Six months ago, Adams became chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
WILLIAM “BRO” ADAMS, National Endowment for the Humanities: The issues and the challenges we face today, Jeff, are not fundamentally scientific and technical problems. The big challenges we face as a country revolve, again, around our history, our culture, our ideas and values.
PRESIDENT LYNDON JOHNSON: And where there is no vision, the people perish.
JEFFREY BROWN: The two agencies — and, for the record, the NEA helps support the “NewsHour”‘s arts coverage — are turning 50 this year. They were signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson at a Rose Garden ceremony in September 1965, where he added this:
LYNDON JOHNSON: We in America have not always been kind to the artists and the scholars, who are the creators and the keepers of our vision. Somehow, the scientists always seem to get the penthouse, while the arts and the humanities get the basement.
JEFFREY BROWN: Fifty years later, I talked with Chu and Adams about their biggest challenges today.
JANE CHU: There is sometimes a perception that the arts are off in a silo, that they are elitist, that they are only used in one way.
But they really are attached to all we do, everything from the economy to human development, education, and our ability to simply live a quality of life. So we want to make sure that people understand how effective the arts can be for them.
JEFFREY BROWN: New data released by the NEA suggests that whether or not people see or understand the arts that way, they certainly are participating in them.
In 2012, for example, 120 million people, more than half the country’s adults, saw a show, attended a live performance, or viewed an art exhibition, together producing nearly $700 billion in economic activity, more than 4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
For its part, the NEH, which gives grants for research, education and programs in the humanities, is also trying to make a stronger case for its place in the national life. In that vein, it’s launched the Common Good Initiative, designed to engage scholars and the public on a variety of issues, like the balance between liberty and security and how to better incorporate veterans back into civilian life.
Is it a critique of the university to say that you need to connect them better, that scholars need to connect their work more to the general public?
WILLIAM “BRO” ADAMS: In a way, I think it can be, or it is.
I do think there are ways in which academic humanities have become too inward-looking and too inwardly focused and preoccupied with very professional concerns. I understand where that’s the case. And, sometimes, it’s essential to certain kinds of disciplines.
But I think we have lost touch with a more public-facing understanding of the humanities and practice of the humanities. I think humanists have a lot to say to the challenges that we’re all facing.
JEFFREY BROWN: Like what? I mean, can I push on what? For example?
WILLIAM “BRO” ADAMS: For example, we all live with this extraordinary explosion of technology now. And we all sense that that technology is changing our lives in very considerable ways.
But we’re not good yet at thinking about what those ways are and understanding the impact that those technologies are having on our lives. One of the impacts that it’s having on our lives is this very important, very difficult tension between liberty and security, which is being played out in the government, in the press, and in the country and the world generally every day.
So there are a whole series of very public issues about which humanists have a great deal to say. And I want, we want at NEH to encourage them to talk about it.
JEFFREY BROWN: Of course, since the culture wars of the ’80s and the Contract With America budget battles of the ’90s, these two agencies have often found themselves under siege with threats to zero out their funding.
Today, their annual budgets are $146 million each, a number that has held fairly steady for several years. But that’s far below what it was in the ’70s and ’80s, when adjusted for inflation.
WILLIAM “BRO” ADAMS: I understand the pressure that is on the federal government, and I’m sympathetic to the need to be very, very careful with our resources and to justify those resources.
But the amount of money that is spent on our agencies is relatively small, compared to the problems that we have financially. And I think to lose this final part of the investment the country’s made in culture, in the cultural capital of the country would be a huge mistake. So it’s making that argument in a compelling way that we have to do.
JANE CHU: Indeed, and when you — that’s right.
And, indeed, when we are talking about our leverage opportunities, that aligns perfectly with what Bro is talking about in terms of a little goes a long way. One plus one doesn’t equal two. Certainly, when it comes our NEA grants, it equals seven.
JEFFREY BROWN: In terms of the amount of money that flows from that or grows from that.
JANE CHU: That grows from that, but that touches people as well all across the nation. That is a very cost-effective way to use an agency.
JEFFREY BROWN: Do you, though, feel the political pressure? I mean, does it in some ways constrain what you think you can do or the grants that you can give out?
JANE CHU: We are — I feel the same way that Bro has expressed. The people that we have met, members of Congress, do understand, especially when you tell them about the activities and the programs that are going on at the NEA, at the NEH.
They see firsthand how it touches their areas. And they have been very receptive. So we have been very appreciative of being able to hold steady.
JEFFREY BROWN: Holding steady, but leveraging the power they do have to advance what are clearly passionately held ideals. All that will be tested further in the coming year, as a new Republican-led Congress takes hold.