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

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    GWEN IFILL: The Republican-controlled Congress is back in session, preparing to do battle with the Democrat who controls the White House. But does a divided government have to be a partisan government?

    We listened in last week as Democratic pollster Peter Hart gathered a focus group in Aurora, Colorado, to talk about whether the divide in Washington can be bridged. The event was sponsored by the Annenberg School of Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Here’s a sampling of what the voters had to say.

    SUSAN BRINK, Consultant: With a Democratic president and a Republican Congress, I’m afraid there is going to more of a stalemate than anything else.

    MILDRED FREENEY, Retired Sociology Professor: If nothing was being done before, changing the cast of characters probably won’t create any big dramatic change, because there will be that infighting that we can’t go across the aisle, we can’t smile or touch or talk to someone that looks different, walks different, talks different.

    MAN: I don’t know. I think you’re going to actually get more done.

    PETER HART, Hart Research Associates: OK. How many agree?

    I think this new Congress, Congress and president may get more done. How many say I agree with Rick’s statement?

    WOMAN: I’m right in the middle of that.

    (LAUGHTER)

    PETER HART: So I’m not getting a lot of people jumping up and saying, there’s going to be more done.

    CHARLIE LOAN, Program Manager: They’re politicians. They’re out for their own agenda, it seems like.

    From what I have seen the last several years, I feel like we’re in kind of a do-nothing mode for at least the next two years, because anything that the president wants to do, Congress is going to disagree with, and vice versa.

    GWEN IFILL: A do-nothing mode, indeed.

    So, for a deeper look at what’s causing the gridlock, Judy Woodruff sat down recently with two former lawmakers from opposite sides of the aisle.

    Democrat Martin Frost and Republican Tom Davis are the authors of a new book, “The Partisan Divide.”

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Former Representative Martin Frost, former Representative Tom Davis, we thank you both for joining us.

    MARTIN FROST, co-author, “The Partisan Divide”: Our pleasure.

    TOM DAVIS, co-author, “The Partisan Divide”: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So there’s been so much already said and written about what’s wrong with Congress, how divided it is, how polarized it is.

    What made the two of you think you had something to add to this debate that we feel like we’re hearing every day?

    Martin Frost?

    MARTIN FROST: Well, we’re a disappearing breed. We’re — I was a moderate Democrat. He was a moderate Republican.

    Tom and I have always seen eye to eye on a number of things, not on every substantive issue. But we thought we had something to say. And somebody needed to say it.

    TOM DAVIS: I don’t think anybody has talked about why it’s the way it is.

    We know it’s been dysfunctional, but nobody has looked at really what the root causes for that are, that there are really external factors that are affecting members’ behavior. So, we went into the roots of that, which have really just transpired over the last 15 years.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what would you say the main…

    TOM DAVIS: The single-party districts. And it’s — that’s three factors that go into that, clearly gerrymandering, residential sorting patterns in the Voting Rights Act.

    And then complementing that are now a very ideological media. These are business models where people now cater to certain audiences and feed them what they want to hear. And they have taken the message away from political leaders and carry the messages in many cases, and the Internet, too. And, finally, the maybe now has moved away from the parties after campaign finance reform.

    And then, with Citizens United, it’s on steroids. The money is now out on the wings on the right and the left and not with the parties.

    MARTIN FROST: And, Judy, what has happened too is that because of one-party districts, people are looking over their shoulder.

    Republicans are worried about someone running from the far right in the primary. Democrats are worried that they might have a challenge from the far left in the primary. And so it’s not that they lose a primary, but they change their voting pattern to prevent a primary opponent. And that makes it hard to compromise.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. And you do write a lot about redistricting, so-called gerrymandering.

    I’m interested in a number of things. One is, Tom Davis, you write a chapter about the parliamentary effects, the nationalizing of American politics. We’re used to hearing Tip O’Neill say all politics is local. So what do you mean by this?

    TOM DAVIS: Right.

    Well, in legislative races today, basically, it is parliamentary. People are voting the party, not the person. You have very few individuals are now who are in a constituency that is not in their party’s safe or marginal areas. We used to have lots of it in districts.

    We have a chart in the book showing how many Democrats were holding districts that were 70 percent or better for Reagan and Bush. Now there are none that are over like 52 percent. And the worst part is that not only are the voters acting in a parliamentary fashion, not splitting their tickets, voting straight party.

    But when members get to Congress, they’re acting like it’s a parliamentary system, which means, instead of being the minority party, being a minority shareholder in government, you’re the opposition party, and you’re no one else.

    MARTIN FROST: And, Judy, we saw this in the last election, last November, in that you had Democrats who were running red states who tried to sell, they have really been good for their state, this is what they have done for the state.

    And voters could have cared less. They went in and they just voted straight ticket.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Some of the remedies you suggest I think would surprise some people.

    Martin Frost, for example, you talk about bring back earmarks. These are ways individual members of Congress can insert something in a spending bill that would benefit some project that is important to them. Why is that a good thing?

    MARTIN FROST: Judy, as long as they are transparent, as long as you put your name on it and it affects your district or your state, not something in another part of the country, it makes you a player, and it makes it possible then for the leadership to work with you and to help you and for you to then help them on a consensus piece of legislation.

    I mean, I was very proud. I got an earmark to build a mass transit system in Dallas called DART. If I hadn’t gotten that earmark, we wouldn’t have mass transit in Dallas today. I put out a press release about it, saying — and the business community loved it. That’s what they wanted for the city.

    These had a lot of intrinsic value. They permitted members to not pass the buck on to an administration — to someone in the administration to make those decisions. They got the make the decisions. And it gave the leadership the opportunity then to work with members on critical issues.

    And perhaps that member then would find it in his or her heart to come to the middle and vote for some kind of consensus legislation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You spend a fair amount of time in the book also talking about money, about the influence of money, the changes that have happened with the reform of campaign finance laws.

    And one of the things you recommended is wanting to go back, basically, to donors being able to give money directly to the political parties. You’re saying it was transparent before, we need to go back to that.

    But, you know, I have talked to folks about that who say the fact that the federal office holders or seekers could go to wealthy donors and say, give me lots of money, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, even if it is transparent, why doesn’t that invite corruption, is the question.

    TOM DAVIS: Well, what do you think you have now?

    But, right now, you have interest groups that put out lists and target members who don’t vote a certain way. The only reason you only had 70 members vote for aid after Hurricane Sandy was because several groups, Club for Growth, Heritage Action and the like, FreedomWorks, said we’re rating this vote, basically threatened to go after members that voted for that kind of aid.

    It’s worse today than it’s ever been. And parties have been a centering force in American politics for 200 years. That money is going to go somewhere. And if you don’t give it to parties in a transparent fashion, it’s out on the wings in dark money that is not transparent.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And yet…

    MARTIN FROST: The money going to (c)(4)s right now…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: This is an outside group.

    MARTIN FROST: Outside group — is not reportable. You don’t have to — those groups don’t report their donors.

    So we have the worst of all worlds now. Big money is going to forces that are not controlled by political parties that have their own agenda, whereas, if contributions went to parties, it would be fully disclosed.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Don’t any of these solutions, though, whether it’s on the money side or redistricting, don’t they all call for the kinds of changes either in the courts or the part of Congress that are just not politically realistic right now?

    MARTIN FROST: Well, they do require Congress to act. That’s correct.

    And the question is, will the public get so fed up with the current system that the public demands that Congress make some changes? We can’t change the courts. You can’t — to override a court decision, you need to amend the U.S. Constitution in most cases in this area. And you can’t get two-thirds of both houses to amend the U.S. Constitution.

    TOM DAVIS: And the courts — by the way, the Congress just spoke on this and added more money to the parties.

    In this last appropriation bill that passed at the end of the year, in the cromnibus, they added more money to the parties from individuals. They recognize this has to happen.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We hear you both.

    The book is “The Partisan Divide: Congress in Crisis” from two former members.

    Tom Davis, Martin Frost, we thank you.

    MARTIN FROST: Thank you. 

    The post How can Washington bridge its ‘Partisan Divide’? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    NEW WHEELS auto show MONITOR 2015

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    GWEN IFILL: One year ago, when automakers held their big show in Detroit, a gallon of gas went for an average of $3.31. Now, as the auto show gets under way again, it’s dropped by a third, all the way down to $2.13 a gallon.

    And that presents some intriguing challenges this year. On one hand, manufacturers like GM are creating more fuel-efficient cars, like the Volt, a new electric-powered concept car which is designed to get 200 miles from a single charge.

    But on the other end of the spectrum, big new SUVs and sedans are rolling off production lines for buyers now less worried about gas prices.

    John Stoll is the global auto editor for The Wall Street Journal, and he joins me from Detroit.

    After all the bright, shiny things at the auto show, John, what are the trends you’re seeing?

    JOHN STOLL, The Wall Street Journal: Well, the trend is definitely back toward big trucks and SUVs, in terms of the conversation right now that we’re having about the immediate environment.

    The economy is doing well. Gas prices, as you mentioned, are down to $2 a gallon or less, and there is a lot of what a lot of automakers think is a natural progression toward the SUV and truck body style in most of America. So they’re catering to that right now.

    At the same time, you have this tension. While dealers want more and more trucks and SUVs, regulators want more vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt or the Nissan Leaf, or the Tesla Model S, vehicles that can run on electricity or batteries and — or can get significantly better fuel economy.

    So that is really — sort of that tension is defining this auto show more than anything else at this point.

    GWEN IFILL: So, when you walk the floor of the auto show, are the things that are most exciting the great, big luxury SUVs or are these new little cars that you can plug in, or is it a little bit of both?

    JOHN STOLL: Yes, I think it’s somewhere in between.

    I think most exciting project that you see on the show floor — or I should say products — you have some super cars. It’s back to — these are the first cars that are sort of taken out of the product lineup when things get bad. These super cars are back.

    I will give you an example. Ford has the G.T. or they’re calling it the Phoenix is back, and this is a super car made from carbon fiber. What is important about this car is, it has a 3.5-liter turbo engine. It’s built for good gas mileage, which is a whole new conversation in that sort of vehicle. But it kind of shows exactly where the automakers are going.

    Even in the high-end, super luxury, super performance, they know that fuel economy is important. The regulators are going to start asking them in two years and then another decade down the road, where are you at on a lot of the mandates that we put into place? And even super cars and pickup trucks have to get more fuel-efficient.

    GWEN IFILL: So those mandates will stay in place even if it turns out — with the understanding that gas prices could bounce back?

    JOHN STOLL: Yes, I think the midterm review that the government is going to have with the auto industry up here in 2017 is going to be very — it’s becoming more and more important.

    Obviously, with $2 a gallon, it’s very hard to get customers to buy into the proposition that hybrids and electric vehicles make, which is you pay more up front. You pay for the battery. You pay for the capability. You pay for the engineering. You pay a little bit more weight in the car.

    But the payoff is at $4 a gallon, you start getting that money back. At $2, it takes a lot longer to get that money back. And consumers understand that and want capability and want to buy the vehicles that, you know, aren’t as expensive to fill up in an era like this.

    So a lot of this depends on how long the gas prices last. Somebody like Mike Jackson, the head of the AutoNation, the largest dealer in the U.S., says this could last a sustained period of time, more than a year. And a lot of the automakers are being much more cautious and saying, hey, we could see a bounce-back very quickly, that they’re prepared for something nearer-term.

    But, regardless, regulators and automakers are going to have to have a discussion about what they want for the long term. Do they want a more predictable higher gas price or do they want an economy that is rolling with a lower gas price?

    GWEN IFILL: Well, that’s the dilemma. How does a company or who does an auto buyer plan for the long term? What kind of strategy do you employ in trying to decide what kind of choices to make?

    JOHN STOLL: I think it puts both in a bind.

    I think the auto — the buyer right now is saying, hey, is it time to for me to buy an SUV? And you’re filling up a vehicle that maybe right now is $40 to fill up, let’s just say, if it’s a 20-gallon tank. Two years from now, if it goes up to $4 per gallon, that doubles. Right?

    It’s hard to make that decision. And right now, the buyer is speaking and saying, about a year ago, we had about 45 percent of the mix were trucks and SUVs. Now it’s about 55 percent. You’re seeing what they’re saying.

    The automakers have to spend far more than they ever did before. Ten years ago, they were designing cars with a guess on where gas prices were going. They would say, well, maybe it will be $2, maybe it will be $4 down the road. Most of them were projecting that prices were going up.

    Now regulation is the rule of the day. The regulators are the ones that are determining where the automakers are innovating toward. That’s why you see vehicles like the Chevy Volt. Yes, it’s innovative. Yes, it takes on Tesla. And most people agree that this is what the auto industry should be doing. But the near-term reality is, it doesn’t make sense in a $2-a-gallon gasoline environment.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, it’s going to be interesting to watch everybody decide what choices to make.

    JOHN STOLL: Right.

    GWEN IFILL: John Stoll, the global auto editor of The Wall Street Journal, thank you.

    JOHN STOLL: Thanks, Gwen.

    The post How automakers and car buyers are responding to low gas prices appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    TRAFFICKING 3 MONITOR

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    GWEN IFILL: Now to India, and a crusade to end child sex trafficking.

    Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro traveled there recently to take a closer look at the issue and the often unsuccessful efforts to combat the practice.

    Tonight, we have the first of his two reports. They are part of our Agents for Change series.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: There was an unusual demonstration recently in this small town near India’s border of India, Nepal, unusual because these women, most with backgrounds in prostitution, are rarely seen in public. They protested social evils, from gender bias to the caste system, India’s age-old social ladder in which they’re at the very bottom.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA, Apne Aap Women Worldwide: In Bombay, in Delhi, in Calcutta, whichever red light area you go to, the girls and women are all low caste. Prostitution is passed on from mother to daughter and pimping from father to son.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Ruchira Gupta is a former journalist who started a group called Apne Aap, or On Our Own, which organized the rally. The group has rescued many of these women, found them new work in crafts and micro-enterprises, and put their daughters in school.

    Apne Aap was also part of a protest movement that followed the fatal gang rape of a Delhi college student two years ago, a campaign that got lawmakers to act against what many called a culture of rape and misogyny.

    WOMAN: I am not going to allow this incident to become another statistic.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The law was changed to penalize traffickers, instead of the women they traffic, recognizing the women as victims.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA: And it also said beautifully that the consent of a victim to her own exploitation will still put the blame on the perpetrator who used her consent to traffic her.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Marchers distributed flyers to inform people of the new laws and a victory by Apne Aap in a recent court case in the regional capital, Patna.

    The court ordered that citizen committees be set up in every community in this region. These committees would gather data on every child up to 18 years old in these communities and essentially keep tabs on the welfare of these children, all this to ensure that no child is trafficked.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA: When I started work here eight years ago, women could not look up. They used to cover their head and they were terrified of the traffickers beating them up. And now, with the Patna high court judgment, they feel they can change the whole system and eradicate trafficking from the roots.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Laws are only as good as their enforcement, however, as we would see just hours after the rally.

    Ruchira Gupta and a couple of Apne Aap staffers have come to this police station inside that is just inside India along the Nepal border. They have learned that there are at least two young women who have been trafficked and they’re making final arrangements with the police to conduct a raid tonight to try and rescue them.

    The team met up with the police at 6:00 p.m. They hadn’t told the police beforehand where they were going, for fear the traffickers would be tipped off. But once they shared that information, they were asked to wait, because the female officers who were to accompany them had been delayed.

    When the women still hadn’t arrived two hours later, the raid proceeded anyway, hours after the planned start, three women from Apne Aap and six policemen.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA: This will be the front room where the customers are brought in.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: A few minutes later, they were in the local red light area and in a three-room hovel, where they suspected one young woman was being held. It was dank, dark and deserted.

    Ruchira, what’s going on?

    RUCHIRA GUPTA: I think the girls have been (INAUDIBLE) when we were kept waiting at the police station for two hours.

    We suspect that they sent the information to the traffickers here, because, as you can see, there’s not a man in sight, which is very unusual in the red light area. But where are the pimps? Where are the customers? Where have they all gone? It’s very, very odd.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Same thing a few yards away next door, a deserted home, evidence that this too was a brothel whose occupants had left in a hurry.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA: And it’s almost as if something has just run from here. Look here at the beer bottles. Here is a crumpled blanket still on the bed like just now.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Further in the courtyard, a door was padlocked on the outside of another home used as a brothel.

    The police were armed with big rifle, but they had no means to break the lock open. The task fell finally to a man said to be related to the building owner. Gupta suspected the occupants fled over the wall in the back when they heard the group arriving in the front, and she mildly admonished the policemen.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA (through interpreter): Going forward, when you do such raids, you should think about circling a home like this, so that people don’t have the opportunity to run away. And you folks are not gathering any evidence. Could you please tape some of this? Let me show you.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: An officer duly followed Gupta, but didn’t record anything.

    With the lock finally broken, they found a framed picture of one of the young women they were looking for. The man who let them in initially denied knowing her, but then relented and said he knew where she was being held.

    The police ordered him to produce her in one hour at the police station.

    So he’s gone off to bring the girl, ostensibly.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA: Yes.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Do you think you will see her this evening?

    RUCHIRA GUPTA: We’re at the mercy of the cops, because if the cops want, we will see her. If the cops don’t want, we won’t see her.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Back at the police station, I asked supervisor Ajit Kumar Singh the obvious question.

    The suspicion immediately is that somebody, maybe from your own police force, has tipped them off.

    He was more comfortable in Hindi, less comfortable with the question. He said he didn’t have enough information, but promised to investigate. The young woman never showed up at the station, but the female police officers finally did, too late to have any effective role in the attempted rescue. There were no police vehicles available to get here from their base at another station, they complained.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA: I am once again reminded why slavery still exists, because the laws are on paper and they are never implemented. And this is like — is back to ground zero, where I realize that the police, come what may, do not want to implement the laws on behalf of women and girls.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: She says part of the job of activists is to educate an ill-informed, often ill-trained police force on the laws and then hold them accountable. In its 12 years, Apne Aap says it has helped some 20,000 young women and young girls leave or not enter the sex trade.

    This is Fred de Sam Lazaro in Forbesganj, India, for the “PBS NewsHour.”

    GWEN IFILL: On tomorrow night’s report, Fred goes on another rescue raid with a very different outcome.

    His reporting is a partnership with the Under-Told Stories Project at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

    The post Police inaction hampers human trafficking crackdown in India appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JE SUIS JUIF  monitor jewish community

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    GWEN IFILL: As we reported earlier, thousands of French police were dispatched today to secure Jewish sites throughout France.

    Friday’s attack on the kosher grocery came as a shock to many around the world.  But many French Jews were less surprised. Anti-Semitic attacks in the country, often violent, were on the rise in 2014. They included beatings, improvised grenade attacks and even rape.

    The number of Jews fleeing France to make a new home in Israel more than doubled last year, growing from 3,400 in 2013 to 7,000.

    “The Atlantic”‘s Jeffrey Goldberg is just back from a reporting trip to Paris, where he has been reporting on the growing threats to the country’s Jewish community.

    Jeffrey, welcome.

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG, “The Atlantic”: Thank you.

    GWEN IFILL: Are these specific new threats or is this something that’s just been continuing?

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG: No, the French-Jewish community has been living a certain reality for quite a long time already. Two years ago, there was a horrific attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse. Three children murdered by a returning Syrian jihadist.

    So, there is nothing — this is in the category of shocking, but not surprising, to I think much of the French Jewish community.  The rest of France is sort of coming on board to the realization of what’s going on.

    GWEN IFILL: But these attacks last week in Paris put it into a new light.

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Definitely put it into a new light and definitely increased the urgency.

    I think it was the amplification effect of having the horrific Charlie Hebdo attack, and then realizing that another type of first-tier target for these guys would be any kind of soft Jewish site. A supermarket is very easy to attack, obviously.

    GWEN IFILL: Right

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG: One of the reasons a supermarket like that was attacked, of course, is that synagogues and schools are already protected.  That’s why the step today to put soldiers in front of Jewish schools was so dramatic, because it was a recognition that, even with all that the police are doing, they haven’t been doing enough.

    GWEN IFILL: There is — one way of looking at this was that these are extremists who are trying to make a point. But does it extend to the larger community as well?

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG: To the larger non-Jewish community?

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG: I think everybody in France — I was just there. I just got back.

    I think everyone now feels that the country is under siege in — a little bit.  I don’t want to overstate it, but there is a kind of a siege feeling.  You feel it on the street.  You see it in the metro.  You see it on the trains, that they’re behind the eight ball a little bit, that these guys who — especially people who have been radicalized in Syria, Yemen or elsewhere, are coming back, are traveling back and forth.

    And I think there’s also this overwhelming realization in France last week that it takes one or two or three people to completely turn upside down a country, and that’s why — that’s what everybody is scared about.

    GWEN IFILL: But the difference between people in general who are scared, everybody being scared, and the Jewish community in particular is that some of them are getting on planes and flying to Israel.

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Right. Right. No, that — I mean, the Jewish community both is targeted in a more intensive way, also has kind of a way out.  It’s not only Israel.  People are going to Canada.  Some are coming to the U.S.

    And it’s not an exodus yet, to borrow from an older Jewish story. It’s not an exodus yet.  And what the French government is so worried about is that it will become an exodus. I talked recently to the prime minister of French, Manuel Valls, who is very, very strenuous on this point.

    He said that if 100,000 Jews were to leave France or flee France, France would stop being France, in other words, that the idea of the French republic, one of the core ideas was the emancipation of the Jews back in the time of the French Revolution.

    GWEN IFILL: Right. 

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG: If the Jews no longer feel it’s safe, then the whole idea of the republic kind of collapses on itself.

    And also there’s one other point that the French prime minister and other French officials are making are, is that things that start with the Jews never end with the Jews.  In other words, it’s that old formula.  First, they came for the Jews, and I wasn’t a Jew, so I didn’t say anything.  But, in this case, they came for the cartoonists in the middle of the week and by the end of the week they were coming back for the Jews.

    And there is this feeling that, if this isn’t nipped in the bud, that soon churches, schools, shopping malls, all the sort of targets that we think about might be targeted.

    GWEN IFILL: But is the prime minister an outlier or is he speaking generally for the entire French government? Because, as you know, there have been — there’s the right — rise of far-right parties who some believe have exacerbated this attitude or this problem, and I wonder whether he is speaking for everybody.

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Right.

    Well, he’s speaking for the president, I think. He’s the number two, and President Hollande is number one.

    GWEN IFILL: Right. 

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG: And I think he’s speaking for certainly the sort of security infrastructure.

    There’s a fascinating thing and a kind of troubling thing going on, is that, traditionally, before this new wave, anti-Semitism was mainly located in France in the extreme right.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Now the extreme right has turned more anti-Muslim than anti-Jewish. And so it’s trying to appeal to Jews and saying we — we’re the only ones who can stand up for your rights. So…

    GWEN IFILL: Well, that’s kind of turned upside down.

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Yes, that’s turned upside down.

    And, of course, most of the Jewish leadership still understands that, you know, they might not like Muslims, but they also don’t like Jews. So you have a situation in which Muslim terrorist are attacking Jewish targets. Muslims themselves in France feel oppressed. The right wing doesn’t like anybody.  It’s a difficult situation.

    GWEN IFILL: Is any of this exacerbated or is the friction, was it ramped up this summer after the disputes in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli-Palestinian…

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Whenever that subject is in the news, it intensifies reactions on the ground across Europe.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Now, obviously, what we’re talking about — when people are yelling “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas,” these are not people who are worried about Israeli settlement policy.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG: They have some deeper pathologies at work.

    There is obviously legitimate criticism of Israel and there’s criticism of the French government for its policies in the Middle East and that sort of thing.  And that’s one — that’s one basket of issues. What we saw in the summer with attacks on synagogues, I have been in a lot of these towns where these things take place, really horrifying attacks of people yelling “Death to the Jews” and attacking people physically.

    That is, you could say, sparked by a certain understanding of the Middle East.  It’s no excuse, of course, but it quickly spins out of control.

    GWEN IFILL: Is there any government effort under way to curb this, to head this off?

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Yes, look, the — the French government says they’re working hard on counter-radicalization, they’re working hard on the security front and tracking people who are coming back from the Syrian front, they’re working at radicalization — counter-radicalization in prisons, on education.

    But here’s the thing. I didn’t meet anyone who felt like the situation was under control.

    GWEN IFILL: Jeffrey Goldberg with “The Atlantic,” thank you very much.

    JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Thank you.

    The post French Jewish community ‘shocked but not surprised’ by attacks on kosher market appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GWEN IFILL: The discovery that one of the brothers involved in the Paris attacks received al-Qaida training in Yemen put that terrorist group and Yemen back in the spotlight.

    Joining me for more on the threats from both, and the U.S. strategy to try to contain them, is chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner.

    So, Margaret, do these attacks in Paris change the assessment here of what the risks are?

    MARGARET WARNER: I don’t think it changes the assessment, Gwen, because U.S. intelligence officials have been saying for some time that they thought the real danger wasn’t so much returning foreign fighters, but at least as much either lone wolves or those inspired to attack.

    And so one U.S. official told me today that he was really not surprised by what happened in Paris. As you know, the chief spokesman for Islamic State, this guy Al-Adnani, back in September called on followers in all these Western countries to attack their own targets at home.

    And you saw some — attack in Canada. You saw attempted attacks at hostage-taking in Australia. So, from the U.S. perspective, the U.S. feels it has a pretty good bead on who has — the very few from U.S. who have tried to go over have gone to Iraq and Syria.

    What they are most worried about, even though these two brothers were on the no-fly list, that there are plenty of others out there who are inspired, who can get into the United States without a visa to come from Western Europe.

    GWEN IFILL: What is it about Yemen? You were there in 2010 on a reporting trip for us. And at the time, there was some question about whether it was kind of a hot bed for jihadism. And I wonder whether it is again.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yes and yes.

    I went immediately after the Christmas Day bomber to try to figure out why it is considered a hotbed. And I saw a very senior White House official who has an even more senior job today, whom I won’t name, who said, Yemen is the greatest threat to American security out there.

    And I was stunned, because that wasn’t the thinking then in early 2010. The reasons, Gwen, are both historic and today. Historically, Yemenis have always kind of punched above their weight. When there’s a call to jihad, they go. Many more than their numbers would suggest went to Afghanistan.

    Then, what you had was the formation within Yemen of Saudi and Yemeni branches. They combined to create this al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The Saudis are very tough on people like that. The Yemenis do not control most of their own territory. So you have a permissive environment because you have vast ungoverned spaces. Then you had enter the phenomenon of al-Awlaki, this very effective American-born preacher, who also found haven there.

    The Yemenis always give haven. And finally you had a lot of returning Guantanamo detainees who were Saudi who wouldn’t have been allowed to exist in Saudi Arabia, but came to Yemen, and a very ineffective government that the U.S. was trying to help.

    GWEN IFILL: But there’s not — I wonder about the distinction anymore. Al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula is different, in theory, from the Islamic State group.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: We heard one of the suspects say he was representing al-Qaida and the other said he was representing I.S. Is that a distinction without a difference anymore?

    MARGARET WARNER: One intelligence official said to me he thinks it’s 50 percent collaboration and 50 percent competition. No doubt they’re competing in a place like Syria, in which the Jabhat al-Nusra, which is the Al-Qaida group, happens to be fighting with Western-backed rebels against President Assad.

    But the fact is, they share the exact same aims. And it’s anti-Western and it’s anti-governments, local governments who are, they consider, too Western or too allied with the West. And so in that sense, the concern actually of intelligence officials is that there’s been too much made of this separation and that even in the inner circles of the intelligence community, you start with groups and you keep analyzing them in groups in these stovepipes and you miss the connections.

    GWEN IFILL: Final question for you. There has been much kerfuffle about whether the president should have gone to this big march in Paris over the weekend. And today the White House acknowledged, yes, maybe someone more high-ranking, if not the president himself, should have gone.

    Is this something which has been of concern in Europe?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, talking to a senior Britain official today and others, of course they don’t want to criticize the president, and the intelligence cooperation the U.S. is giving is huge. So, on an operational level, there is no complaint.

    But, certainly, on the symbolic level, you can always count on the tabloids in Britain. The Daily Mail said, “Obama Snubs Historic Paris Rally.”

    GWEN IFILL: Well, the tabloids here as well.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    OK. Margaret Warner, as always, thank you.

    MARGARET WARNER: And a pleasure, as always.

    The post Terrorist training of Paris attacker puts spotlight on Yemen appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    This image, photographed by one of the Expedition 42 crew members aboard the International Space Station, shows the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft approaching on Jan. 12 2015 for its grapple and berthing and the start of a month attached to the complex. Dragon carried more than 2 ½ tons of supplies and experiments to the station. Image courtesy of NASA.

    In the wee hours of Saturday morning, SpaceX launched its fifth resupply mission to the International Space Station. At 8:56 a.m. EST, the unmanned Dragon capsule successfully docked at the ISS.

    But part of Saturday’s mission flopped. For the first time, SpaceX attempted to recover and reuse Falcon 9, the 14-story rocket that launches supply capsules into space. Its landing was just off target, tweeted SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

    After the Dragon spacecraft detached, the rocket plummeted to Earth at a speed of 2,900 miles per hour. Falcon 9 opened its deceleration fins, and second set of retropropulsion engines burned to slow its fall onto a 300 foot-long, 170 foot-wide drone barge in the Atlantic Ocean.

    That seems like a large target, but it’s pretty small from 150 miles in the air, said SpaceX’s Hans Koenigsmann in an interview with National Geographic. The rockets that hit the barge in previous tests tipped over and fell into the ocean.

    Prior to the launch, Musk said the company had a 50-50 chance of successfully landing and recovering the rocket. (He admitted in a Reddit chat later that he had made that number up, and had no idea what their chances of success were.)

    Falcon 9 hit the target, but its rough landing damaged the rocket and the unmanned barge.

    But Musk said it’s still a good sign that recovery is possible. Normally, these rockets burn up on reentry through the atmosphere or fall into the ocean where they are recovered by ships but never reused. According to SpaceX, reusing rockets could save millions on the cost of space travel.

    The post ‘Close but no cigar’ for SpaceX rocket bumpy landing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GWEN IFILL: The U.S. Central Command’s social media Web sites were hacked today.  The hackers called themselves a cyber-caliphate and said they acted on behalf of Islamic State militants.

    Threats posted on CENTCOM’s Twitter feed included a warning that said — quote — “American soldiers, we are coming.  Watch your back.”

    Other postings showed soldiers at work and even listed names and phone numbers of military personnel.  And there were scenarios for conflict with North Korea and China, but it appeared that none of the material is classified.

    Brian Fung of The Washington Post has followed the story all day.

    BRIAN FUNG, The Washington Post: It looks mainly as though the attackers went to public sources of information and grabbed screen-shots and other reports about U.S. military personnel, retired Army officers, and so on, to release online to make it look as though they’d penetrated the Pentagon’s networks. But, so far, there doesn’t appear to be any major indication that that’s happened.

    GWEN IFILL: The hackers also uploaded an Islamic State recruiting video to CENTCOM’s YouTube account with images of fighters carrying out operations. Fung says the hackers may have recently attacked several news outlets as well.

    BRIAN FUNG: Like a lot of hacker organizations, we don’t know a whole lot about these guys, except for the fact that they were apparently behind a couple of attacks on some local news outlets earlier this month.

    And in those attacks, they went after some newspapers and a local CBS affiliate. Other than that, however, we don’t know a whole lot about the hackers behind this — this latest attack.

    GWEN IFILL: CENTCOM’s Twitter and YouTube account were suspended after being compromised. But a Pentagon spokesman dismissed the hack as little more than a prank.

    President Obama called today for new efforts to beef up the nation’s cyber-security. He spoke before word emerged of the attack on Central Command. Instead, he cited the hack of Sony Pictures. His proposals included tougher laws against identity theft and new protections for students’ data.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is a direct threat to the economic security of American families, and we have got to stop it.  If we are going to be connected, then we need to be protected.

    As Americans, we shouldn’t have to basic — forfeit our basic privacy when we go online to do our business.

    GWEN IFILL: The president plans to include the cyber-security ideas in his State of the Union address next week.

    French police officials now say as many as six members of a terror cell may still be on the loose. That word came today as police and troops spread out in the wake of last week’s bloodshed in Paris.

    Guns at the ready and eyes on the streets. Security forces kept close watch, as parents dropped off children off at Jewish schools in Paris this morning. They were among nearly 15,000 police and soldiers dispatched to beef up security across France.

    CHRISTEL ROELS, Teacher (through interpreter): We are going to be very cautious, but we will open the school as usual, we are going to teach as usual, we will behave as usual, because that’s the best way to resist.

    GWEN IFILL: Last week’s terror attacks left 17 people dead, including four at a kosher grocery store on Friday.  A Muslim employee there helped save 15 others, but he says police first thought he was a terrorist, too.

    LASSANA BATHILY, Shop Assistant, Hyper Cacher (through interpreter): Yes, they did. When I emerged, they told me to put my hands on my head and to lie on the ground. I panicked. There were lots of people and a lot of shouting.

    GWEN IFILL: Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manuel Valls told BFMTV today that the manhunt for accomplices continues. One may have helped post this video on Sunday, recorded earlier by Amedy Coulibaly. He was the gunman at the Jewish grocery, and had also killed a French policewoman.

    In the message, he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.

    AMEDY COULIBALY, Hyper Cacher Shooting Suspect (through interpreter): What we are doing is totally legitimate, given what they are doing. One can’t attack and get nothing in return.

    GWEN IFILL: Coulibaly died when police stormed the grocery.  But the hunt for his fugitive wife, Hayat Boumeddiene, came up empty. Newly released security camera video showed her arriving, with a male companion, in Istanbul, Turkey on January 2. Turkey’s interior minister said today there had been no reason to stop her.

    EFKAN ALA, Interior Minister, Turkey (through interpreter): There was no notice from France on this person stating that she is dangerous and she should be banned from entering the country. Therefore, there isn’t a specific entry ban on this person.

    GWEN IFILL: There was no ban on her exit either. Turkish officials now say she crossed into Syria last Thursday, one day after 12 people were shot dead at Charlie Hebdo, a satirical Paris newspaper.

    The gunmen there, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, had known her husband since 2005. They, too, died in a police shoot-out on Friday. The week of terror brought out well over one million people in Paris on Sunday for a march of unity that featured a number of world leaders.  The American ambassador to France, Jane Hartley, represented the United States.

    But the administration suffered withering criticism for failing to send anyone of higher rank.

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest conceded today that was a mistake.

    JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: Some have asked whether or not the United States should have sent someone with a higher profile than the ambassador to France. And I think it’s fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile to be there.

    GWEN IFILL: Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Paris on Friday.

    The White House plans a summit on how to counter violent extremism next month.

    And we will get an update on the link between the Paris attacks and Yemen after the news summary.

    Secretary Kerry arrived in Pakistan today, pressing for more action against Taliban safe havens along the Afghan border. The visit came as officials reopened a school where Taliban attackers killed 150 classmates and teachers last month. Students return to class tomorrow.

    Northeastern Nigeria is reeling from new carnage caused by Boko Haram. Witnesses say the Islamist militants used 10-year-old girls in weekend suicide bombings that killed nearly 20 people. It’s also been reported the militants killed as many as 2,000 last week around Baga in Borno state after seizing a key military base. Nigeria’s military claim the true figure is 150 dead, including the militants.

    Cuba completed its release of 53 political prisoners today, under last month’s diplomatic deal with the United States. They were on a list of opposition figures jailed for urging political and social reforms.  A Cuban dissident leader says 17 of the 53 had already been released before President Obama announced a restoration of ties with Havana.

    Investigators in Indonesia finally have their hands on a black box recorder from that crashed AirAsia jetliner. It was pulled from the underwater wreckage today, and taken to Jakarta for examination. The other black box, the flight data recorder, remains lodged under parts of the plane. Officials appealed for patience as they piece together what happened.

    MAN (through interpreter):  I urge all experts not to give any theory if they do not have a valid data, and please don’t make people confused. We urge people to wait and be patient with our ongoing investigations. I hope all data that we collect will be good and valid, so our team can analyze it faster.

    GWEN IFILL: All 162 people on board were killed in the December crash. But, so far, only 48 bodies have been recovered.

    Back in this country, a new inspector general accused police of using banned chokeholds, sometimes as a first response. He also said the department has failed to punish the practice. The report follows a grand jury’s decision not to indict an officer in the chokehold death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner last summer.

    Two policemen in Albuquerque, New Mexico, were charged with murder today in the death of a homeless man last March. The victim had a history of mental illness and pulled out two knives during a standoff. His killing sparked sometimes violent protests around the city.

    Today, the district attorney said she wants the public to see all the facts.

    KARI BRANDENBURG, District Attorney,  co-author, “The Partisan Divide”:  We think that there’s evidence that gives us the legal standard probable cause. We have always said that, if we can meet that standard, we will go forward. And we believe that we can meet that standard, and we are going forward.

    GWEN IFILL: After the killing, the U.S. Justice Department issued a sharply critical report on the police department’s use of force.

    Supporters of the Keystone pipeline project moved this evening to advance it in the Senate. They want a procedural vote clearing the way for a final approval this week of a bill that calls for completing the pipeline. The bill already passed the House, but the White House has warned of a veto.

    In health news today, a review for the World Health Organization finds online medical training is just as effective as traditional training. It says so-called e-learning could give the world millions more doctors and nurses, especially in poor nations, where the need is greatest.

    And another new study finds Head Start programs can help fight obesity. University of Michigan researchers found obese and overweight children were more likely to lose weight in the program, which focuses in part on healthy eating and physical activity. The findings appear in the journal “Pediatrics.”

    Wall Street started the week by giving ground, as falling oil prices pulled stocks lower. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 96 points to close at 17640; the Nasdaq fell 39 points to close at 4664; and the S&P 500 slipped 16 to finish at 2028.

    The post News Wrap: Islamic State supporters hack U.S. military social media accounts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user William Grootonk

    Photo by Flickr user William Grootonk

    Between credit cards, debit cards, Apple Pay and Venmo, the need for cash is on the decline — and so is the ATM. And yet North American and European banks aren’t necessarily decreasing ATM production or removing the machines. Some banks, including Wells Fargo and Chase Bank, are instead recreating the ATM.

    A new article in Smithsonian Magazine by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie explores the history and evolution of the ATM”, from a “cash vending machine” in the 1960s to what may become a mini-branch in the next few years. While a few different companies were working to create the first ATM in the mid 20th century, Barclay’s released the first official cash dispenser in 1967. In 1969 ATMs made their debut in Japan and New York City.

    The first ATMs used different technologies to determine who a customer was, from magnetic stripes to pin numbers to a token that would later be sent back to the customer. The reasons so many banks invested so heavily in ATMs also differed by country. In the U.K., ATMs allowed banks to close on Saturdays, something banking unions had been pushing. In the U.S., ATMs were used to bring down labor costs, and the banking industry used the machines to compete with the growing retail sector in the 1970s. At that time department stores cashed checks, and banks could use ATMs as a new toy to attract customers. Now, ATMs can be found nearly everywhere, including two stationed in Antarctica.

    But a decline in cash due to a rise in card transactions as well as new methods of paying — think Square or Bitcoin — bring down the need for ATMs. McRobbie notes that while 17 percent of bank customers in America used an ATM to manage their account in 2009, now only 11 percent do.

    But, cash is still the most used form of payment, even if the value of each transaction is falling. Cash also isn’t expected to disappear anytime soon, meaning ATMs are far from obsolete. Additionally, in countries beyond North America and Europe, ATM use is actually on the rise.

    To prepare for the decline of cash, banks are instead creating new abilities for ATMs. Some Bank of America ATMs have a two-way video screen for a “teller assist” feature, so customers can speak with a teller through an ATM. Wells Fargo has created “mini-branches”, including ATMs that can provide $1 and $5 bills and deposit entire stacks or checks. With these new ATMs, banks are able to cut back on labor costs, as well as narrow down the role tellers play in banking. At the recent Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, one of the biggest ATM manufacturers, Diebold, debuted a new ATM that would connect to a smartphone, eliminating the need for an ATM card entirely. Though a debit card-less ATM is still in the making, don’t say goodbye to the cash machine quite yet.

    The post As payment forms evolve, so do ATMs appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Students pray during assembly at a school after it reopened in Peshawar January 12, 2015. Photo by Khuram Parvez/Reuters

    Students pray during assembly at a school after it reopened in Peshawar January 12, 2015. Photo by Khuram Parvez/Reuters

    Students in Pakistan returned to school today for the first time since Taliban militants stormed into classrooms and killed 134 children at Army Public School in Peshawar last month.
    A boy walks in fog while heading to school after it reopened in Rawalpindi January 12, 2015. Photo by Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

    A boy walks in fog while heading to school after it reopened in Rawalpindi January 12, 2015. Photo by Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

    Most schools across the country had been ordered shut for an extended winter break following the Dec. 16 attack. In Peshawar, officials promised increased security measures like installing 8-feet high walls around the schools and adding metal detectors.
    LEFT: Children ride on a motorcycle with their parent while heading to their school after it reopened in Rawalpindi. Photo by Faisal Mahmood/Reuters RIGHT: Students get their bags checked by school security staff at a school after it reopened in Peshawar January 12, 2015. Photo by Khuram Parvez/Reuters

    LEFT: Children ride on a motorcycle with their parent while heading to their school after it reopened in Rawalpindi. Photo by Faisal Mahmood/Reuters RIGHT: Students get their bags checked by school security staff at a school after it reopened in Peshawar January 12, 2015. Photo by Khuram Parvez/Reuters

    Emotions were running high as Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif greeted parents and students at the school and invited victims’ families to a private ceremony.

    The Pakistani government has been garnering criticism for not being able to respond adequately to curb the militant attacks. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today, as well as the Army chief, to urge more crackdown on militant groups.

    Girls carry their school bags as they walk along a road while heading to their school after it reopened in Peshawar January 12, 2015. Photo by Khuram Parvez/Reuters

    Girls carry their school bags as they walk along a road while heading to their school after it reopened in Peshawar January 12, 2015. Photo by Khuram Parvez/Reuters

    The post Students in Pakistan return to school a month after Taliban massacre appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user Lindsay Eyink

    Photo by Flickr user Lindsay Eyink

    WASHINGTON — Two thirds of Americans support labeling of genetically modified ingredients on food packages, even if they may not read them, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.

    Fewer Americans say genetically modified ingredients are important in judging whether a food is healthy. About 4 in 10 said the presence of such ingredients was very or extremely important.

    “If they are cheaper and they taste right to me, I’ll buy it,” says Jay Jaffe, of Philadelphia, who strongly supports labeling.

    Five things to know about Americans’ support for labeling of genetically modified ingredients:

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    IT’S ABOUT MORE THAN JUST GMOs

    Genetically modified organisms are foods grown from seeds engineered in labs. Jaffe says he has no problem buying GMOs, but he thinks there should be accountability in the food industry.

    “It should be there and not in small print,” he said of GMO labels. “People should be able to make a choice.”

    Genetically modified seeds are engineered to have certain traits, such as resistance to herbicides or certain plant diseases. Most of the country’s corn and soybean crop is now genetically modified, with much of that becoming animal feed. Modified corn and soybeans are also made into popular processed food ingredients such as corn oil, corn starch, high-fructose corn syrup and soybean oil.

    Currently, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require labeling of genetically modified foods and says those on the market are safe. Consumer advocates backing labeling say shoppers have a right to know what is in their food, arguing not enough is known about their effects.

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    FEW OPPOSE LABELING

    According to the December AP-GfK poll, 66 percent of Americans favor requiring food manufacturers to put labels on products that contain genetically modified ingredients.

    Only 7 percent are opposed to the labeling, and 24 percent are neutral.

    Of those who say it is only moderately important to them if a food contains genetically modified ingredients, 68 percent still favor labeling.

    And of those who say it isn’t important to them whether a food contains genetically modified ingredients, only 20 percent oppose a labeling requirement. Half of those people are neutral.

    ____

    SUPPORT CUTS ACROSS GROUPS

    Public support for labeling GMOs was bipartisan, with 71 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans favoring labeling. Among conservative Republicans, more than 6 in 10 favor a labeling requirement.

    Fifty-six percent of Americans under 30 favor a labeling requirement — the lowest of any age group. Among that age group, 8 percent oppose labeling, though, with most of the remainder saying they are neutral.

    ____

    STATE LABELING EFFORTS ARE MIXED

    Despite the wide public support, many state efforts have faltered as the food industry and seed companies like Monsanto have aggressively fought attempts to force labeling. Ballot initiatives to require labeling were narrowly defeated in California, Washington and Oregon in recent years.

    Vermont became the first state to require labels for genetically modified foods last year, passing a law in May that will take effect in 2016 if it survives legal challenges. Maine and Connecticut passed laws before Vermont, but those measures don’t take effect unless neighboring states follow suit.

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    CONGRESS MAY WEIGH IN

    The food industry has pushed a bill in Congress that would block the state efforts. The bill by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, would reaffirm that such food labels are voluntary, overriding any state laws that require them.

    In a December congressional hearing on the issue, members of both parties were less inclined than the public to support labeling. Many questioned whether mandatory GMO labels would be misleading to consumers since there is little scientific evidence that such foods are unsafe.

    ___

    The AP-GfK Poll of 1,010 adults was conducted online Dec. 4-8, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

    Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

    The post Poll finds most Americans want GMO food labels appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    While on assignment, PBS NewsHour Weekend’s Hari Sreenivasan ran into a familiar face on his Delta flight.

    Former President Jimmy Carter flew first class, but not before shaking hands with passengers.

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    As one person pointed out, Carter makes hand-shaking on planes a habit.

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    The post Hari meets former President Jimmy Carter in the cheap seats appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Mike Fritz/PBS NewsHour.

    Research shows babies learn best right before a nap. Photo by Mike Fritz/PBS NewsHour.

    A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that babies who took an extended nap after learning new behaviors are able to retain new skills better than babies who did not sleep.

    The researchers showed 216 babies between six and 12 months old how to remove a mitten from a puppet. After learning their skills, a group of infants napped for at least 30 minutes within four hours.

    The rested babies were matched with a control group that stayed awake. Both groups were then given the opportunity to recreate the new skill both four hours and 24 hours after learning how to take off the mitten. Researchers found that only babies who took a 30-minute nap or longer retained the memories of the behavior, even after 24 hours. The study also found that flexible napping schedules based around daily schedules could help improve learning for babies.

    “Until now, people have presumed that the best time for infants to learn is when they are wide-awake, rather than when they are starting to feel tired, but our results show that activities occurring just before infants have a nap can be particularly valuable and well-remembered,” said Jane Herbert of the University of Sheffield.

    Now, researchers will look at if or how the quality of memory is affected by extended naps.

    The post Here’s another reason to worry about your baby’s nap schedule appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Allah-Las play “Better Than Mine” from their new album “Worship the Sun” in the KEXP studio. Video by Jim Beckmann, Scott Hoplainen and Justin Wilmore; edited by Scott Hoplainen, KEXP

    On a side street in the Los Feliz neighborhood in Los Angeles, there’s a dive bar called Ye Rustic Inn, equipped with an old school jukebox and chandeliers. One night, Miles Michaud, the vocalist and guitarist for indie-rock band Allah-Las, found himself there, sitting next to an older man.

    “This guy was talking my ear off and proselytizing at the bar. I thought it was interesting that he was giving me all this advice, but at the same time lamenting all the bad decisions he had made in his life,” Michaud said.

    So the musician put it into a song. “Better Than Mine” is now the last track on the Allah-Las’ most recent album, “Worship the Sun,” which came out in September.

    Photo by Aaron Giesel

    Allah-Las band members play on vintage instruments, including a 1965 drum set and a discontinued mahogany Gibson. Photo by Aaron Giesel

    The band, who were announced in the 2015 Coachella line-up last week, formed in LA in 2008. Michaud, along with bass player Spencer Dunham and Matthew Correia on percussion grew up in the hilly California city. The final member of the band, Pedrum Siadatian, who plays the lead guitar, met the others while working at Amoeba Music, an independent California music store. Now, they all consider Los Angeles home and the Allah-Las are happy to admit they sound like a Los Angeles band.

    “There’s elements that people outside of LA associate as being characteristic of Los Angeles, but I think we’re just doing what comes naturally to us,” said Michaud.

    Allah-Las listen to and take inspiration from a wide range of music, much of which is showcased on their weekly music blog Reverberation Radio. When the group sat down to write the melody for “Better Than Mine,” they were listening to West Coast country, bands like the Flying Burrito Brothers, International Submarine Band and the Byrds. They wanted a more upbeat song to close the new album and thought “why not?”

    “It’s sound that we’ve all been into for a long time. It’s indicative of California in a lot of ways — it comes from a big city, a more liberal country perspective,” said Michaud. “It’s not traditionally Midwestern or Southern Country. It’s got a little bit of a West Coast twang to it and that’s something we can associate with.”

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

    The post Indie rockers Allah-Las reinvent that retro California sound appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Watch PBS NewsHour’s live State of the Union coverage in the player above. We will offer special programming surrounding the President’s speech on the evening of Tues., Jan. 20, from 9-11 p.m. EST.

    On Tuesday, Jan. 20, President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver his sixth annual State of the Union address. The speech will cover a wide range of issues facing the U.S. today, from immigration and health care reform to environmental policy and national security.

    Join PBS NewsHour live from 9-11 p.m. EST, Jan. 20, for reporting and analysis. In addition to a live broadcast of the President’s remarks and the GOP response, co-anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will be joined by syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks to discuss the President’s speech in depth. Watch our coverage on air (check local listings), or tune in to our live stream online at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/

    Follow PBS NewsHour on social media for additional real time coverage. @NewsHour will be live tweeting the speech, as well as Shields’ and Brooks’ analysis. We will also share video excerpts and clips from the speech in real-time, and provide regular updates via Facebook.

    The post How to watch Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GWEN IFILL: Now to the second part of special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro’s report on the struggles to stop sex trafficking in India.

    Last night, we witnessed a failed attempt to rescue young women forced into prostitution, one in which police appeared to covering up for the traffickers.

    In tonight’s report, Fred follows another rescue attempt, one with a very different outcome.

    His story is part of our Agents for Change series.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In India’s impoverished rural state of Bihar, people struggle to live off the land.  One of the few businesses that thrives is underground. 

    RUCHIRA GUPTA, Founder, Apne Aap Women Worldwide: This is one of the epicenters in the world for human trafficking.  Little girls are trafficked into prostitution.  They are put on buses and trucks and taken to the big brothels of Bombay, Delhi and Calcutta, but sometimes closer by.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Ruchira Gupta and the human rights group she founded, Apne Aap, or On Our Own, is working to change the tradition of lower-caste women being channeled into the sex trade.

    The group sued authorities to provide schooling for girls rescued from brothels.  And it runs a shelter for the women and their daughters.  But, first, Apne Aap has to work with the police to free the women.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA (through interpreter): So, here is the law.  We have printed it out for you.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And that means explaining the new law the group helped get past.  It punishes trackers and not those who were prostituted.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA (through interpreter): We have to arrest the trafficker.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Sometimes, that task is not easy.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA: The police is part of our society, and if the entire society believes that a girl is of less value, a low-caste girl is of even less value.  So unless their mind-set changes, they don’t even try to enforce the law, because they think this is not a crime.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Just the previous night, we followed an Apne Aap team hoping to rescue a young woman from a brothel.  The raid failed, possibly because the police tipped off the traffickers.

    Ruchira, what’s going on?

    RUCHIRA GUPTA: I think the girls have been prevented — we were kept waiting at the police station for two hours by local police officers, who must have informed the traffickers here that we were on our way to rescue them.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In this morning’s raid, the exact location was kept secret from the police until the last moment.  Still, rumors of a raid had spread, and brothels cleared out.

    But Fatima Katune, a Apne Aap staffer who grew up and still lives in the red light district, is a key source of intelligence.  She led the search to a home where she said a girl was hidden.  Not long after indignant protests from the homeowners, a frightened young woman emerged.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA (through interpreter): There’s no reason to cry.  Don’t be afraid.  Don’t be afraid.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: As the young woman was led to a waiting car, Fatima Katune led the team to a brothel where she had been allegedly working, hoping to gather evidence against her trafficker, apparently, the man shown here talking to police and also taunting Katune.

    A loud and physical altercation ensued, before he was put into the police paddy wagon to cool down, at Gupta’s insistence.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA: He was following us to try to talk the police out of it.  And then he started abusing Fatima to provoke her not to go there by calling her all kinds of name, from whore to all kinds of things, provoking her so that she would hit him, and then he could hit her back.  He’s trying to stop us from going to the brothel.

    Here’s another room which is being used as a brothel, where the girl we rescued, this is the bed where the customers are brought and these girls are put forward for the customers.  And they’re locked up in rooms like this with iron bars on the window, as you can see.  Here’s a little condom lying here.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA (through interpreter): Please take a picture of this.  Get that book up there.  It probably has names of the customers.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Next, another shack-like brothel.  Here, they hope to rescue two teenage girls, one forced to prostitute herself, the other the daughter of this woman who owned the place.

    Gupta says it’s not uncommon for women to be involved in the business of trafficking.  Many were themselves trafficked when they were young.

    Ruchira, what’s — what’s happening right now?

    RUCHIRA GUPTA: She says those girls are in school.  So, I’m saying, fine.  Take us to the school.  We will go and meet the girls.  We will meet the — and suppose we meet the girls?

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: On what grounds?

    RUCHIRA GUPTA: Saying that, I will bring, like, 4:00 to the office, which of course she won’t.  But she won’t take us.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: So, where do things stand then?

    RUCHIRA GUPTA (through interpreter): No, no.  Take her in.  Let’s go.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Are they arresting her?

    RUCHIRA GUPTA (through interpreter): Please turn the camera off.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: We were asked to get out of the way because we were causing interference with the process of arresting the alleged trafficker.  It appears to be happening right behind me.

    The threat of going to jail seemed to cause the woman to relent.  She was let out of the police vehicle just as I began talking to Gupta.

    Suddenly, a new development.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA: The girl is suddenly found who she said was in school.  So, let’s go and see what’s going on.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It was the 14-year-old daughter of the brothel owner.  Until recently, she had been enrolled in school and even lived in the Apne Aap shelter.  But she was pulled out after seventh grade, being prepared, Gupta said, to go into the sex trade, a common tradition here passed from mother to daughter.

    Negotiations resumed with the chastened brothel keeper and her son, who, in another common practice, works as a pimp.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA (through interpreter): Do you want to be a pimp?

    MAN (through interpreter): No, ma’am.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA (through interpreter): So why are you doing this?  You’re preparing a 14-year-old to prostitute herself.  You have another girl in the back, Sampatia, that you have enslaved.  Have you no shame?  And what’s the use of you crying?  Sampatia cries every day when customers come and rape her.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Sampatia, the girl being prostituted, wouldn’t be produced on this day, but Gupta was able to negotiate a deal for the daughter, one more year in school.

    RUCHIRA GUPTA: Sumi (ph) has agreed that she can study until class eight.

    The hope, the daughter will become stronger, more educated, and she will be able to negotiate with her mother and we will, together, make her go on and stay on in school for another two years.  It’s year by year that we negotiate for a child.

    And even a year of not being raped, a year of not being beaten is great.  It’s better than a year of being raped and beaten.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: For the young woman brought back to school and to live in the Apne Aap shelter, it was hard to see much beyond her immediate fears and turmoil, torn and confused by family loyalty and tradition.  Counseling for her is just one of the tasks that lay ahead for the Apne Aap staff.

    They will do the same for the girl rescued earlier this busy day.  Her testimony will be key to building the case against her alleged trafficker.  In its 12 years, the anti-trafficking group Apne Aap had managed to successfully prosecute 66 traffickers, but, more critically, Gupta says, the first four alumni of its shelter now hold tickets out of generational prostitution and poverty.  They have gone on to enroll in college.

    This is Fred de Sam Lazaro in Bihar, India, for the PBS NewsHour.

    GWEN IFILL: Fred’s reporting is a partnership with the Under-Told Stories Project at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

    The post To rescue girls from sex trafficking, Indian activists confront tradition and family ties appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Clay Gilliland from Chandler, U.S.A.

    The RNC met at the Hotel del Coronado for their annual winter meeting. Photo by Clay Gilliland.

    ATLANTA — The Republican National Committee’s 168 members gather this week in San Diego for the party’s annual winter meeting. It’s the first formal gathering since the party’s strong performance in the midterm elections, and the upcoming race for president will dominate most of the discussion at the Hotel del Coronado.

    Here’s a look at five things to watch for once the meeting opens Wednesday.

    1. 2016 Jockeying

    Several of the party’s White House prospects and their representatives will spend the week jockeying for position publicly and privately among the RNC’s members and donors. Among them: 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, added to the program just 36 hours before the conference opens.

    2. History for Reince

    Reince Priebus is poised to make history this week should he win re-election as RNC chairman, and the former head of the Wisconsin GOP had no formal challenger in the days leading into the meeting. Coming off a midterm election that exceeded the party’s expectations, Priebus is unlikely to face anything more than token opposition in his quest for a third two-year term. A victory would make Priebus the longest-serving chairman in RNC history.

    3. Limited Debates

    The RNC plans to follow through on a pledge to limit the number of Republican presidential primary debates. Party elders believe the number of debates in the 2012 campaign contributed to the GOP’s struggles. This week, they’re expected to finalize a limited schedule that will include moderators of the party’s choosing. The shift is part of several rule changes designed to make the party’s nominee stronger in the general election.

    4. Post-Mortem

    The week’s official goal is to help state GOP leaders break down their performance in the midterms, with the aim of improving their work headed into the 2016 presidential contest. State party officials will spend much of the meeting’s first day strategizing behind closed doors. The discussion is expected to focus on the party’s ground game and digital efforts, a major focus under Priebus’ leadership.

    5. Immigration Looms Again

    More than two years ago, the RNC called for the party to embrace comprehensive immigration reform — a recommendation that was ultimately rejected by the majority of Republicans on Capitol Hill. Those same party leaders may face tough questions this week as House Republicans in Washington are poised to vote to block President Barack Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration.

    The post 5 things to watch for as Republicans gather for winter meeting appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FLU monitor

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: No doubt about it, we’re in the middle of flu season, and this one is shaping up to be a particularly tough slog, possibly the worst since 2008.

    The Centers for Disease Control report that flu activity is widespread in 46 states. In fact, the only places where flu activity was limited to local pockets were Arizona, California, Alaska, Hawaii, and here in Washington, D.C.

    CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden is here to discuss that, as well as what he thinks people should do, and why some in the field are questioning some of those recommendations.

    Dr. Tom Frieden, welcome back to the program.

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Thanks for having me.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just how serious — much more serious is the flu this year?

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: This year, it’s what’s called an H3 year, one particular strain of flu that tends to be worse than other strains of flu, years with this strain predominance, more people hospitalized and, sadly, more people who will die from influenza.

    Furthermore, in this year, the match between the vaccine and the virus is not good. So we don’t expect the vaccine to work as well as it does in most years.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So you’re saying it’s not a perfect match. You’re also urging people to go ahead and get that vaccine. That doesn’t make sense to some people.

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: Based on past trends, at least nine out of 10 people who are going to get a flu vaccine have already got one. And even if it’s not effective against the most predominant strain, it is still effective against the strains that are still out there. So it has some level of protection.

    I got the flu shot. My family got the flu shot. But, at this point, we’re making a very important recommendation for people who get the flu. And that’s to think about getting treatment for flu with antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu or Relenza.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what does that mean? If someone who is watching this thinks they may be coming down with the flu, what should they do?

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: Well, first off, the question is, how high is the risk between being really sick and how sick is the person? So if someone is really sick in the hospital, they need to get antiviral medications.

    If someone is over 65, under the age of 2, or has a chronic health problem, like diabetes, asthma, heart disease, then it’s really important at the first signs of flu to talk to your doctor or nurse practitioner or physician assistant about getting a prescription for Tamiflu because — or Relenza — because, the sooner you take it, the more you benefit from it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And it sounds like you’re saying people should check in with their doctor regardless.

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: Absolutely. It’s a good idea to be in touch with your doctor. Anyone with flu can benefit from antiviral medications.

    They’re not the miracle drugs that some of our antibiotics are, but the CDC scientists that have looked very carefully at this have concluded that, though they’re not perfect, they do cut down the duration and severity of the illness. They can keep you out of the hospital. If you’re hospitalized, they might keep you out of the intensive care unit, and they might be able to save your life.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, you say that, but I know you are aware that there are other infectious disease experts out there in this country right now saying that the results are really mixed on these antivirals, like Tamiflu.

    And, in fact, there is a group of British researchers, a report was just issued in the last couple of days, who say their study shows emphatically that they don’t do the good that some believe they do. And they say they even have some bad side effects.

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: We have not seen severe side effects. We have seen consistent modest benefit with the medication.

    It’s not a miracle cure. It doesn’t make you get out of bed and dance the next moment after you take it. But if you look at the weight of evidence, especially for people who have underlying conditions, and especially if they take it in the first 48 hours after the disease starts, then the evidence suggests that it will help you get better.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, Dr. Friedman, I also want to ask you about Ebola. You have just come back from West Africa.

    We know there’s been progress in some places, Liberia. But we also know that Sierra Leone — and you had talked about this — the number of cases continue to increase, particularly in the rural countryside. What did you see when you were there?

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: From the first time I went during this epidemic in September — August and September to now, it’s really a night-to-day difference.

    The response is dramatically better. We have made tremendous progress, but we have a long way to go. We’re nowhere near out of the woods. In each of the three countries, there are unique challenges. And in each of the three countries, there has been real progress.

    But Guinea shows the risk of complacency. They had a decrease before, and then it came back up. So, Liberia needs to learn from that. Sierra Leone still has a lot of cases, but they’re implementing effective programs that should bring those cases down. We have to get to zero. That’s the critical challenge in this epidemic.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And just one other question. There was a report today that a federal lab technician who was possibly exposed to Ebola here in this country — turns out he or she is not sick.

    But that does raise the question. There have been some other incidents with dangerous viruses, bacteria that were not adequately protected in a CDC lab. Are you confident right now that adequate precautions are being taken in your facilities?

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: I am very concerned about any potential exposure.

    And we want the laboratory staff to report if they have any concern of an exposure or a problem. What we will do in this case, as we have in the others, is look very carefully. Could this have been prevented? If so, we will put in the systems to prevent it, not only in this individual lab, but in other labs as well.

    We take the safety and security of our own staff very seriously. In this incident, there was a possible exposure to that one laboratory technician, not to anyone else at CDC, no other exposure. But working with dangerous pathogens — and this laboratory has done more than 10,000 tests for Ebola since the outbreak started, but we always have to take great care to make sure that we do it safely.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we’re certainly glad that technician is not sick.

    Dr. Tom Frieden with the CDC, we thank you.

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: Thank you.

    The post Facing widespread flu, health officials encourage antiviral drug use appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Thomas Nast's cartoons criticizing Boss Tweed not only helped oust the politician from his New York City office, they also put him in jail. A Spanish customs official caught Tweed after he recognized him from Nast's drawings. This Nast cartoon depicting Boss Tweed was originally published in 1872. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

    Thomas Nast’s cartoons criticizing Boss Tweed not only helped oust the politician from his New York City office, they also put him in jail. A Spanish customs official caught Tweed after he recognized him from Nast’s drawings. This Nast cartoon depicting Boss Tweed was originally published in 1872. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

    From the theaters of ancient Greece to the early political cartoons that emerged in Europe several centuries later, satire has long been a means of undermining authority and disrupting the status quo.

    In April, 2013, journalist Victor Navasky appeared on PBS NewsHour to discuss his book, “The Art of Controversy: Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power.” Navasky cited Thomas Nast, a man he calls “the father of political cartooning,” as an example of a cartoonist whose work had real world impact. Nast’s recognizable caricatures of Boss Tweed ultimately led to the corrupt politician’s indictment.

    Last week, political cartoonist Ted Rall spoke with Jeffrey Brown following the horrific terrorist attack on the Paris offices of the satirical newspaper “Charlie Hebdo,” which resulted in the deaths of several cartoonists and other staff members. Rall raised the point that, in the United States today, few media outlets employ political cartoonists, and the profession faces “an existential threat…from budget cuts and the transformation of media in the digital age.”

    How important are political cartoons and other forms of satire to contemporary society? What is the role of satirists and cartoonists, and should their work be held to the same standards, and protected under the same laws, as other forms of media? Share your opinion on Twitter this Thurs., Jan. 15, from 1-2 p.m. EST. Ted Rall (@TedRall) will join the discussion and share his perspective as an industry insider. Follow the conversation and join in using #NewsHourChats.

    The post Twitter Chat: What is the role of satire in modern society? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    TERROR IN NIGERIA monitor boko haram

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    GWEN IFILL: Even as the world’s attention has been focused on missing planes in the Java Sea and terror attacks in Paris, another disaster has been unfolding, steadily, but more quietly, in the remote northeast region of Nigeria.

    There, the terrorist group Boko Haram has been on the rampage, conducting mass kidnappings and waging bloody attacks on civilians. On January 3, militants attacked the northern town of Baga and surrounding areas. But word was slow to get out. Residents began to flee the region, and it wasn’t until several days later that reports of death tolls ranging from hundreds to as many as 2,000 people got the world’s attention.

    The Nigerian military has put the number much lower, closer to 150. But Amnesty International has called it possibly the deadliest massacre in Boko Haram’s history that could mark a disturbing and bloody escalation.

    For more on the recent attacks and the government response, I’m joined by Nii Akuetteh of the African Immigrant Caucus, an organization aimed at increasing political influence of the African diaspora. His career has focused on fostering relationships between the U.S. and African nations.

    Welcome.

    NII AKUETTEH, African Immigrant Caucus: Thank you very much.

    GWEN IFILL: What is it about what has happened in Baga that has taken so long to get out? What has been the delay?

    NII AKUETTEH: I think, for one thing, it is — this most recent attack is in a remote area. It took time for people to get out.

    Also, Boko Haram’s attacks have destabilized and spread fear in the whole area. So that is part of it. I think that’s why it took that long. Of course, we don’t have many journalists in the area to report on it.

    GWEN IFILL: And, so, the numbers are all over the map. What are we to believe, and why not take the government’s word that the numbers are much lower than that?

    NII AKUETTEH: Well, because, I mean, just on paper, you can see that it’s in the government’s interest to give the impression that it’s not as bad.

    But, also, there was a case a few months ago where the government actually claimed that they were negotiating and knew where the Chibok girls were, and that turned out to be false. So I think it is prudent for anybody to say, let’s get some other sources confirming the numbers before we believe it.

    GWEN IFILL: You mentioned the Chibok girls, the girls, the 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped who have not been heard from, as far as we know, since, except that now we’re hearing disturbing reports about young girls being use as explosives, having explosives strapped to them and becoming suicide bombers.

    Do we think there’s a connection in all of that?

    NII AKUETTEH: I think there is.

    It fits the part of what Boko Haram does. And I think it’s important to understand that Boko Haram has been around for about 12 years as an organization. They became particularly violent and caught the world’s attention five years ago. So they have been rampaging for five years.

    And, yes, this is part of what they do, do. Less than a week ago, there was that story of a 10-year-old who was sent into the market strapped with explosives, and then she was noticed, but it exploded. I think what came before is even more important. There was another story of a girl of about the same age who then got frightened and wouldn’t detonate the explosives.

    So there is speculation that this one was detonated remotely. And the other thing is Boko Haram has not confined its attacks to just that area of Northeastern Nigeria. They have hit Abuja. They have made forays into Cameroon, and actually had battles with the Cameroonian air force.

    So, Boko Haram started out as a Nigerian problem. It is now actually a West African problem, and, I dare say, a global problem.

    GWEN IFILL: You say it’s a global problem. So, what has been the U.S. role in helping or at least in any way negotiating with Nigeria on their behalf to help attack this problem?

    NII AKUETTEH: I think, all along, the U.S. has — the U.S. actually and Nigeria are used — have had a close relationship.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    NII AKUETTEH: So, of course, when Boko Haram became an issue, they said, yes, we support you, we will help you.

    But, as an observer of U.S.-African relations, I have not been impressed with how much help I think Nigeria should get, even before the Chibok girls were kidnapped in April.

    GWEN IFILL: Why do you think that is?

    NII AKUETTEH: It’s a good question.

    You know, I think sometimes there are people who think that Nigeria ought to be able to deal with this by itself. Also, if you look at foreign — U.S. foreign policy cutting across several administrations, Africa always gets the short end of the stick.

    GWEN IFILL: But Nigeria is a prosperous country.

    NII AKUETTEH: Well, it is by certain standards. In fact, it recently became the biggest economy in Africa.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    NII AKUETTEH: But it’s still a very underdeveloped country.

    Most Nigerians are very poor by any measure. And, therefore, it’s also a matter of technical military assistance and intelligence to deal with the issue. Now, global powers actually stepped in, in May, when, you know, the first lady and others said, we need to help find the girls.

    And they promised that they are cooperating with the Nigerians. So, again, I have been disappointed that, even with their help, the problem has not been contained.

    GWEN IFILL: There are elections coming up, presidential elections, in the next month. Do you think that what we see unfolding here with Boko Haram could or could not affect the outcome?

    NII AKUETTEH: Oh, I am absolutely convinced that it will affect the outcome.

    For one thing, it is not easy to — it’s not hard to imagine that it will be difficult to vote in those areas because of the fear, because of the devastation. But we also know…

    GWEN IFILL: And the security problem.

    NII AKUETTEH: That’s right.

    We also know that such jihadist groups, they particularly attack democratic governance because some of them see it as sacrilegious. They want a theocracy. And so they don’t want people to vote.

    So it’s anticipated that Boko Haram will not be happy with the elections. Now, there will be repercussions for that, because somebody who loses will — might say, because we didn’t vote in that area, it wasn’t a fair vote.

    So, yes, it’s causing a lot of anxiety. And Boko Haram’s operations are casting a shadow over the Nigerian elections next month.

    GWEN IFILL: Nii Akuetteh, among other things, former director of Africa Action, thank you very much.

    NII AKUETTEH: It’s a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

    The post Why Boko Haram’s reign of terror has been tough to track appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    BELLWETHER_Monitor

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, now that the president and congressional leaders are getting down to business, we thought it was a good time to check in with voters about what they expect from Washington right now.

    We picked a Midwestern state you hear a lot about in presidential election years.

    GOV. JOHN KASICH, (R) Ohio: I, John Richard Kasich…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We showed in Ohio on the same day Republican Governor John Kasich was being inaugurated for a second term and, for football fans, arguably an even bigger event, as Ohio State University’s beloved Buckeyes were about to face Oregon in the college playoff championship.

    Despite this, we still found people across the political spectrum who were willing to talk to us.

    JEFF JOHNSON, Romney Volunteer: I don’t think the government has to do anything big. I just think they have to do a couple good things well that are small, where people can say, ah, the government is working again.

    JASON MOINE, Obama Volunteer: I think it’s going to be a lot more butting heads.

    REV. Gail DUDLEY, The Church at North Pointe: I’m very pessimistic.

    (LAUGHTER)

    REV. GAIL DUDLEY: I would love to be proven wrong. I just have this sense that there’s this: We have arrived now. We’re now in control. Nothing is going to happen if we don’t want it to happen.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We came here to Columbus two years ago, just before Election Day, to talk to voters in this crucially important swing state. Now, after the 2014 midterm elections, we have come back to find out what some of those same voters think about what’s been going on in Washington, and what their expectations are for the new Republican-controlled Congress.

    In 2012, retired Army officer, computer programmer and longtime Republican Jeff Johnson told us he and others were voting for Mitt Romney because they were so unhappy with President Obama.

    JEFF JOHNSON: They’re worried about taxes. They’re worried about the future. They’re worried about the deficit.

    So, where do you want to eat tonight?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Even though Romney lost, Johnson says he thought more would get done under the Obama second term, but he blames both parties for that. As for the future, he’s hoping for agreement on extending the Keystone oil pipeline and:

    JEFF JOHNSON: Well, I would hope that we have a rewrite of the tax laws, so the corporations that have money overseas can bring it back and invest it in the states. We have a whole bunch of people that need jobs, and this would be very helpful to them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Two years ago Democrat Gail Dudley, pastor of the nondenominational Church at North Pointe, helped lead a Souls to the Polls caravan for Sunday voting. She too hoped that Washington would address the jobs issue, but she wanted to see the federal minimum wage increased.

    REV. GAIL DUDLEY: Can we not give them some sort of assistance to do what they need to do? Let’s help them a little bit. Let’s get them on their feet. Let’s help them with a salary that’s going to make a difference. I don’t see it as big government. I see it as, if we’re just helping someone, what we’re really doing is, we’re equipping them to move forward.

    JASON MOINE: Hi. My name is Jason Moine. And I’m volunteering today.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Electrician and  IBEW member Jason Moine told us in 2012 that recent GOP moves to weaken collective bargaining have motivated union members and taken a toll in Ohio.

    JASON MOINE: Everybody’s kind of had enough, quite frankly, and so we’re hoping to get our message out this year and deliver a blow that will sustain and help us to not have to fight these fights continuously year in and year out.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Today, after being laid off as an electrician, Moine works in sales in a grave site memorial company. He blames House Speaker and Ohio native John Boehner for obstructing the president’s agenda, but says he’s not pleased with Democrats either.

    JASON MOINE: In all honesty, I’m not a fan of either political party at this Point, whether it be a Democratic or a Republican Party. It’s gone past the common man, and it’s gone to, who can help me? And that’s the way I feel both parties are. It’s, who is going to help me, as opposed to, how can I help them?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Attorney Mike Gonidakis, who is also president of Ohio Right to Life, openly favors the GOP, but agrees with Moine that both parties share responsibility for Washington’s dysfunction.

    MIKE GONIDAKIS, Ohio Right to Life: It would be very easy just to say, oh, it’s all the Democrats’ fault or it’s all the Republicans’ fault, but that’s not true. I think it’s the collective whole.

    I think, unfortunately, in our country now, we’re seeing too many people that are focused on their next election or their own political ambition.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We caught up with Ohio’s two U.S. senators, one Democrat, one Republican, who concur there is blame to be shared by both parties, but each lays more fault at the door of the other side.

    SEN. SHERROD BROWN, (D) Ohio: We have never seen in — that I can think of, in American political history where, from day one, one political party wanted to just insist — insisted that the president not succeed.

    SEN. ROB PORTMAN, (R) Ohio: I have worked for two presidents, 41 and 43 Bush. I just have not seen that level of engagement with this White House that you would expect from the executive branch.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Both Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown say, despite this, cooperation is possible on several fronts.

    SEN. SHERROD BROWN: I think the best chances are on taxes that I think Democrats — Republicans will insist on corporate tax cuts and closing some loopholes. I don’t want to see corporations pay fewer taxes, but if we’re going to do that, we also need to make sure that we continue tax breaks for working families.

    SEN. ROB PORTMAN: Judy, divided government is sometimes the best way to get something done. I look back to Ronald Reagan and what he did the last time we reformed the tax code in 1986 with Tip O’Neill and Democrats being in charges of both houses of Congress.

    And I heard over the weekend, everybody was on the talk shows very pessimistic, this will never happen. Well, it has to happen, because the American people demand it and because it’s time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All the voters we sat down with hold varying degrees of hope that Congress and the president will find a way to work together, but it was striking that on the one issue the president was talking up last week, two free years of community college, opinions were sharply divided.

    MIKE GONIDAKIS: It sounds great, you know, to say, we want every American to be able to go to community college for free. But free, it’s not free. You know, it’s the tune of $68 billion. Now, we live in a country that’s trillions and trillions in debt, so what’s an extra $68 billion amongst friends, right? But it adds up.

    REV. GAIL DUDLEY: Let us go back to — let the people go back to school. Let’s get this free education that President Obama has put on the table now, two-year community college. But it’s going to be better for the community at large. It’s going to be better for the United States of America.

    JEFF JOHNSON: I mean, there are more important items to me than some kid getting two years of free community college. What are we doing about ISIS? What are we doing about the Middle East?

    I don’t think it’s the federal government issue to pay for some kid to go to college. Every time the government gets into a market, whether it’s college or medicine or you name it, mortgages, it distorts the process, and it ultimately ends — costs the taxpayer more.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Every voter we spoke with says they want Congress and the president to work together, but they also have strong views that often clash.

    Republican Mike Gonidakis says he expects the leaders they have sent to work to Washington to figure out how to bridge the difference.

    MIKE GONIDAKIS: Instead of being obstinate, Mr. President or Mr. Speaker or Senate President, don’t be obstinate. Sit down, close the door. And we don’t need cameras in there. Just sit down and find out how we can work together.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But that sort of private talking makes Ohio voters like Gail Dudley fearful.

    REV. GAIL DUDLEY: I’m afraid that people will be on the street, people will be out of jobs, and those are some of the things that I’m afraid of. What are — what are some of the things that are being negotiated behind closed doors?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And given that most of the meetings between the White House and members of Congress and their staffs are behind closed doors, voters in Ohio and elsewhere may want to pay close attention.

    The post What do Ohio voters want? More political cooperation despite clashing views appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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