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

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    Gordon Parks/Courtesy of the Gordon Parks Foundation

    The New York Times is trying to identify the women in this photo. Photo by Gordon Parks/Courtesy of the Gordon Parks Foundation.

    Two women–one white, one black–sit in an Atlanta airport in 1956. The black woman wears a uniform and holds a white baby; the white woman wears a dress and holds a cigarette.

    Not many more details are known about Gordan Parks’ photograph — one that captured a moment of race and class in Jim Crow’s South. Sixty years later, the women’s names, their relationship and their lives remain a mystery that the New York Times Lens blog is trying to solve.
    NewsHour shares web small logo
    Do you know these women? That’s what the New York Times is asking readers in an effort to uncover the identity of the subjects in Parks’ photo.

    Tonight, as part of our “NewsHour Shares” segment, we’re helping to spread the word about the newspaper’s mission. If you know anything about the photo above, send an email to lensnytimes@gmail.com.

    Do you have something that’s caught your eye? Share with @NewsHour on Twitter using #NewsHourShares, or fill out the form below.

    The post NewsHour Shares: Who are the women in Gordon Parks’ photo from 1956? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Editor’s note: This broadcast segment contains footage that may be disturbing to some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: As she opens the door to her home…this 34-year old Belgian woman known as “Eva” seems at ease. But actually she’s chronically depressed. More than once she’s tried to commit suicide. And now she’s asking doctors to help her. Help her die by euthanasia…all of it captured in a Belgian documentary.

    EVA (voiceover): It may seem strange but I am looking forward to the rest. The choice has been made. The decision has been made. I am looking forward to the rest I have longed for, for so long.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: It may sound shocking, but in Belgium euthanasia is quite accepted. And it’s not just for the terminally ill. Chronically depressed patients like Eva can request it, too. And so on a day and time she’s chosen… Eva says goodbye to her family.

    MARC VAN HOEY: Eva, are you ready?

    EVA: Yes, I am ready, doctor.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: And then she lays down on her couch.

    MARC VAN HOEY (voiced over): Would you like to say something to your brother and sister-in-law?’

    EVA (voiced over): Bye.

    BROTHER: Sleep Well.

    EVA (English): Thank you.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: The man kneeling by her side, about to give her the lethal injection, is her doctor for the past two years. Dr. Marc Van Hoey.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Doctor, how many euthanasias have you performed yourself?

    MARC VAN HOEY: More than 100. In 12 years time, I think.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Dr. Van Hoey is a general practitioner and president of one of the leading right to die organizations in Belgium. He’s helped shaped the country’s policy toward euthanasia which can be requested by patients who meet two basic conditions: They are experiencing “constant and unbearable” suffering – either mental or physical – and their condition is ‘incurable.” And then patients must put their request in writing.

    MARC VAN HOEY: Only thing you have to write down is the name, the date and ‘I want Euthanasia,’ and signature.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: In the few American states with laws on the books allowing this, patients must take the life-ending drugs themselves.

    Brittany Maynard: I’ll die upstairs …

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Like terminal cancer patient Brittany Maynard who recently went to Oregon to end her life. But in Belgium it’s the doctor who must administer the lethal dose – usually an injection.

    MARC VAN HOEY: I start with a narcotic drug, in a higher dose, to create a deep sleep.
    And later on we give barbiturate in a shot. If you use an intravenous injection and do it good, the patient is dead in one or two minutes.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: One or 2 minutes?


    MEGAN THOMPSON: So it happens very quickly.

    MARC VAN HOEY: Yes. You have a life-line. You say are you ready? Do you want to go with it? Till the very end we ask do you want to go, because there’s no way back. Then we give the injection and (whistles) it’s gone.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: You talk about it very matter-of-factly.

    MARC VAN HOEY: I’m quite used to talking about assisted dying and so on. It’s part of my job.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: That’s right. In Belgium, it can be part of a doctor’s job to end a patient’s life. It’s been the law since 2002.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Belgium has the most liberal euthanasia law in the world. And even though this country is predominantly Roman Catholic, surveys show overwhelming support here for the right to die by euthanasia.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Since the law passed, the number of Belgians choosing euthanasia has steadily risen each year, with more than 1,800 dying this way in 2013 – that’s an average of about 5 people a day. In 2014, Belgium made headlines when it became the first country in the world to extend euthanasia to terminally ill children of any age, although no cases have occurred so far.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: So in Belgium it’s not just the terminally ill who can request euthanasia. Psychiatric patients. Now children. Is Belgium pushing the boundaries when it comes to euthanasia?

    GILLES GENICOT: I don’t think so. I don’t think so.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Gilles Genicot is a lawyer and co-Chairman of the Euthanasia Control and Evaluation Commission, which oversees the practice in Belgium.

    GILLES GENICOT: The law humanizes– the deaths of terminally ill patients, on the one hand, and on the other hand, for patients who are not terminally ill but who are completely hopeless, there is a respect to the individual autonomy. I think it’s a major advance in the way society, law and– philosophy see this very important issue.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: The 16-person euthanasia commission – half doctors, half lawyers, meets every month in Brussels. By law, after performing euthanasia, doctors must file a report with the Commission detailing what they did and why. The Commission reviews the reports to be sure conditions set by the law were met. If not, Genicot says in the worst case, a doctor could face homicide charges.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: The reports also must affirm the patient’s request for euthanasia was voluntary, and that two doctors had approved it. Three doctors in the case of psychiatric patients.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: These are all euthanasia cases from the last few years?


    MEGAN THOMPSON: Genicot’s office is filled with reports of past and future cases…

    GILLES GENICOT: It’s the current box.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: And he says the system works well. Giving doctors a practical and humane way to help suffering patients die peacefully. Genicot says some doctors choose to describe that in an optional section of the report.

    GILLES GENICOT: Very often it is to express how serene, peaceful and quick the procedure was. That the patient was grateful. Said ‘thank you’ to the doctor. And was surrounded by family and friends.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: But it isn’t always that way. Tom Mortier’s mother Liefe had a passion for traveling the world but suffered from a lifetime of severe depression. Despite 40 years of therapy with several psychiatrists, and treatment with anti-depressants, she continued to struggle with suicidal thoughts and hopelessness.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Deemed “incurable,” she was euthanized in a hospital in Brussels on April 19, 2012. The date marked in her own calendar. Mother and son were estranged at the time and Mortier didn’t find out about it until the next day when the hospital called his home with the news.

    TOM MORTIER: Yeah, it was a complete shock. Of course, I knew that my mother was suffering mentally. But she would never have done it herself. She never would have committed suicide. I went to talk to the physician who killed my mother and he told me he was absolutely certain my mother didn’t want to live anymore. And I said how can you be certain?

    MEGAN THOMPSON: When you said, ‘Why wasn’t I consulted. Why wasn’t I involved?’ What was his response to that?

    TOM MORTIER: He said my mother didn’t want the children to be contacted and he had to fulfill the wish of the patient.

    TOM MORTIER (reading letter): “The psychic suffering has been too much… and I can’t go on.”

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Letters Mortier’s mother left behind did little to help him make sense of how she died.

    But wasn’t it his mother’s choice, and hers alone, to make? Mortier says his mother’s depression came partly from being estranged from her children, so her doctors should have reached out to him. And, he’s convinced his mother – severely depressed and on medication – was not in the right state of mind to make such a decision.

    ROBERT CLARKE: The option being offered to her rather than treatment is death.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Attorney Robert Clarke with the Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom is now using Tom Mortier’s case to challenge Belgium’s euthanasia law in the European Court of Human Rights …arguing it violates the basic obligation of the state to protect the “right to life.” If the court takes the case – and if it rules in Mortier’s favor, a big if, Belgium could be forced to re-write its law.

    ROBERT CLARKE: What we see in Belgium is a slippery slope. We see the number of euthanasia deaths rising year in, year out since the legalization in 2002. And what we see is completely inadequate oversight. The committee that monitors them has received just over 8000 notifications of euthanasia deaths since the legalization. In its history of those 8,000 cases the committee has submitted not a single one to the public prosecutor.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: That’s not an indication of a flawless system, Clarke says…but instead, it suggests that the euthanasia commission’s reliance on doctors’ reporting alone is not enough to catch possible abuses. We asked euthanasia commission co-chair Gilles Genicot about that number.

    GILLES GENICOT: I can understand it might sound surprising, but the way our law works is– based on– trust we give to doctors. Because they know their patients far better than anyone else.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Genicot says he thinks doctors acted appropriately in the case of Tom Mortier’s mother, and that Mortier’s complaint to the European Court has no legal standing. But there have been other controversial cases that have raised eyebrows, including: A transgender patient who was euthanized because of depression following an unsuccessful sex change operation…. And twins who were chronically ill, deaf and going blind who were euthanized together.

    GILLES GENICOT: Those cases are really extremely rare, so we can mention them, it’s okay to discuss them, but we should not bring them to the front to say– to put the law into question, because the law is not primarily made for these cases.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: In fact, Dr. Marc Van Hoey says only about 5 percent of his cases were psychiatric patients. But he doesn’t shy away from discussing them. As he sees it, euthanasia can be a less traumatic option for a patient and their family than some other form of suicide.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Can it be emotional for you? Are some cases harder than others?

    MARC VAN HOEY: It’s always emotional. And what I always say to my colleagues and also to the family I say this, try to bear in mind you follow the law and it’s the question of the patient. I didn’t say you have to die.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Which brings us back to Eva, the young woman convinced the only way to end her mental suffering was to end her life. Eva agreed to be filmed because she believed that people with chronic, incurable psychiatric illness can be helped to die with dignity. About two minutes after receiving the lethal injection from Dr. Van Hoey Eva died. The last thing for Dr. Van Hoey to do was fill out the paperwork required for the Commission.

    The post The right to die in Belgium: An inside look at the world’s most liberal euthanasia law appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    GWEN IFILL: Most of us spend a certain amount of time each day trying to navigate interesting and important stories on the Web. It can be overwhelming, and no one can get to it all, so we are drawn to the same stories. What’s trending, it’s called. But what are we missing?

    Answering that question is a big part of the mission of the Web site OZY. Carlos Watson is the CEO. And he will be joining us from time to time to discuss some of those stories, the ones that are not trending.

    I talked to him yesterday.


    CARLOS WATSON, CEO, OZY: Thank you.

    GWEN IFILL: We will start in Poland.


    GWEN IFILL: Tell us about Rafal Brzoska.

    CARLOS WATSON: He’s kind of Poland’s Jeff Bezos.

    So, you don’t normally think of Poland when you think about great entrepreneurs. But here is a 37-year-old guy who said that the more people are using the Web, the more they want things delivered, whether they’re clothes off of eBay or an interesting book off of Amazon.

    But if you go door to door there, it costs too much. You can only deliver 60 parcels. Not everyone can afford FedEx or DHL. And so he’s created these lockers, old-style lockers where he will deliver them to the locker. They’re all around town.

    GWEN IFILL: They’re like you find at a bus station, those kinds of lockers?

    CARLOS WATSON: In a bus station.

    In fact, you remember “The French Connection”? That’s before your time.


    GWEN IFILL: Yes, certainly, before my time.


    CARLOS WATSON: But exactly like that. He’s got 5,000 of them across the country and some other parts of Central Europe as well. People pay less than $2, which is kind of often 25 percent off of what they would pay otherwise, and are able to get a lot of goods they wouldn’t get.

    GWEN IFILL: Is this something that is transferable or that he’s thinking about bringing here?

    CARLOS WATSON: You know, interestingly enough, he — it is. And it’s coming our way in two ways.

    One is, he’s not only coming to Europe, including — the rest of Europe, including the U.K. He’s now coming to Canada. And they see that as kind of a prelude to coming to the United States. But he also noted that now Google and Amazon, some of the big boys, are starting to copy him and are testing out variations of that in London and San Francisco and elsewhere.

    GWEN IFILL: And those freestanding stores that we see that Amazon has opened, this is part of that idea.

    CARLOS WATSON: Correct, including here in D.C.

    And the idea is that there’s going to be more challenge. But he says he’s ready for it. One of the interesting things he told me is he says that, in Poland, the rules change literally year to year, new taxes come up, new regulations, and so a Polish manager, an entrepreneur has to be much more ready for competition than someone, say, in a settled place like the U.S. and U.K.

    So, he says he’s ready for Bezos and the others.

    GWEN IFILL: Another underappreciated, not trending story is about one of the world’s largest democracy, Indonesia, and its president, one of my favorite names, Joko Widodo, who has only been there three months, but he’s already doing an amazing thing in reaching out to the poor.

    CARLOS WATSON: Very much so.

    The son of the furniture salesman, Joko Widodo, they call him Jokowi, born the same year President Obama was born, so 53 years old. And some people call him Indonesia’s Obama.

    And part of what he did is, he came in and said, I think there is an opportunity to help the poor, and I’m going to do it in an unconventional way. First, I’m going to cut the fuel subsidy. And people said, oh, no, why are you cutting those subsidies? But then I’m going to offer up some cash payments to the poor, essentially $15 a month or so.

    It doesn’t sound like a lot, but in a nation in which almost half the people live on less than $2 a day, that’s a big deal. He thinks that’s the opportunity to allow people to get education to move forward.

    GWEN IFILL: Where is this money coming from to fund something like this?

    CARLOS WATSON: So, again, he cut the fuel subsidies, which saved a meaningful amount of money.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    CARLOS WATSON: And he’s using some of that money over here. He’s saying it’s more efficient.

    Now, you would think that the markets and that investors would kind of look askance and worry about that. Instead, the stock market has gone up and people have rewarded it. And some say in part it’s because of the example of another emerging economy, Lula. Remember Lula da Silva down in Brazil.

    Remember, everyone thought this former trade unionist was going to try these programs around education and infrastructure and health care that were going the try and help the poor, but hurt the economy. Instead, Brazil boomed, became one of the largest economies. And so some think that there is a similar opportunity for Joko.

    GWEN IFILL: And this is one of these cases where the dropping cost of oil has actually helped him to be able to do this, because people otherwise would have resisted this idea of cutting the fuel subsidies.

    CARLOS WATSON: Very much so.

    And where his neighbors who are major oil exporters and rely upon it, whether it’s Malaysia or others, are getting hurt by the fact that oil prices have gone down, Indonesia, in fact, it’s actually helping Joko to get done what he needs to get done.

    GWEN IFILL: Is there any political resistance to this approach?

    CARLOS WATSON: So, so far, things are going well.

    And Joko is doing something that some would say President Obama would be wise to consider, which is he’s very actively courting the opposition. So the prior president, who was of a different party, who has been at odds not with Joko as much, but one of Joko’s colleagues, there have been a lot of wooing dinners.

    And so while Joko doesn’t have a true majority, he is trying to woo the opposition and so far has gotten them aboard.

    GWEN IFILL: It’s so great to go behind the headlines and find out about what’s not trending with you.

    Carlos Watson, thank you very much.

    CARLOS WATSON: A few hidden gems. Good to be here.

    GWEN IFILL: Carlos and I continued our conversation online, where he unearths undercovered story about a major literary prize that is casting a new spotlight on writers far outside the mainstream.

    The post Not Trending stories: Stashing Polish packages, paying Indonesia’s poor appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    GWEN IFILL: First , there were hands-free devices, then voice-directed gadgets. Now the auto industry is talking about replacing drivers altogether.

    Technology is certainly moving in that direction.

    We sent special correspondent Steve Goldbloom to Las Vegas to check it out.

    STEVE GOLDBLOOM: If this car looks like it’s from the future, that’s because it is. It’s the Mercedes Luxury in Motion. With inward-facing seats and gesture recognition technology, it was drawing a crowd at the Consumer Electronics Show this month in Las Vegas.

    Some 20,000 tech products were launched at CES this year, from recreational drones to smart kitchen appliances. But one of the most buzzed about showings was a preview of the driverless car.

    JEN-HSUN HUANG, CEO, NVIDIA: This is a pretty big deal for us.

    STEVE GOLDBLOOM: Jen-Hsun Huang is the CEO of Nvidia, a Silicon Valley-based technology company that unveiled the Tegra X1 superchip, a brand-new computing platform for cars.

    JEN-HSUN HUANG: One of the biggest revolutions going on right now is the building of and the creating of the autonomous driving car.

    STEVE GOLDBLOOM: Just a few years ago, Nvidia was at CES showing off their high-speed processor for video games on Xbox. That expertise has now found its way inside the car.

    JEN-HSUN HUANG: We’re here to announce a supercomputing chip. It will be able to recognize ambulances and fire engines and pedestrians and all kinds of conditions that you would confront while you’re driving.

    STEVE GOLDBLOOM: And while most cars lose value the day you drive it off the lot, connected vehicles are expected to improve with age.

    JEN-HSUN HUANG: In the future, we’re going to have all cars be connected, and they will be connected to the cloud.

    You will get software upgrades over time and, as a result, your car gets better and better over time.

    JOHN ABSMEIER, Director, Delphi Labs, Silicon Valley: Automotive has always been about the looks and the horsepower of the car. We’re moving more towards a software-defined car.

    STEVE GOLDBLOOM: John Absmeier runs the Silicon Valley lab for Delphi Automotive, one of the world’s largest automotive parts manufacturers. On this densely trafficked day at CES, he’s taking us on a tour of the Las Vegas strip, a driverless one.

    JOHN ABSMEIER: The operator of the vehicle is actually not driving. He’s just supervising what the vehicle is doing. And he’s keeping his hands and his feet near all of the controls just in case anything happens.

    STEVE GOLDBLOOM: Our driver, or, should I say, supervisor, is ultimately responsible for the vehicle’s safety. But the car itself had to pass a standard driving test, just like the rest of us.

    JOHN ABSMEIER: We actually had a Las Vegas DVD administrator giving us an exam to make sure that the vehicle performed safe and as good or better than a human. The system is taking information from about 20 different sensors, and then determines where to drive the vehicle. That’s sort of like navigation. We program an endpoint and the car tries to get there.

    STEVE GOLDBLOOM: Absmeier says we can expect to see urban driverless technology like this hit the market in the next 10 years.

    But there’s still a few challenges. Although connected cars have faster processing power than humans, one thing missing is judgment.

    JOHN ABSMEIER: You also might look over and see somebody texting on their phone and go, get away from that guy, right? The car doesn’t see that. It can’t recognize that.

    STEVE GOLDBLOOM: Still, driverless technology brings with it some unique advancements in safety.

    JOHN ABSMEIER: If the driver experienced some kind of a life-threatening issue, like a heart attack, the car could call an ambulance or route to a hospital.

    STEVE GOLDBLOOM: Driverless cars are still a ways out from being certified for everyday use. But if CES is truly a predictor of things to come, then a street full of autonomous driving vehicles is much closer than you may expect.

    For the PBS NewsHour in Las Vegas, I’m Steve Goldbloom.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And a quick postscript to Steve’s report: These cars are not about to hit the market next year, as you heard. The Delphi concept we saw, for example, is not expected for a decade. Only Delphi can get a permit to test it on the road, and the price is not yet determined.

    The post Drive the car of the future? No, it drives you appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Here’s a story that isn’t dominating the headlines, but deserves a close look: Three African authors are nominated for a relatively new fiction literature prize, and the finalist will walk away with £15,000 and a continental book tour. The Etisalat Prize for Literature is funded by Dubai-based Etisalat, a prominent telecom company in Africa, with the goal of “improving literacy in the African continent.”


    The shortlisted writers and their works are Nadia Davids, An Imperfect Blessing published by Random House Struik-Umuzi; Chinelo Okparanta, Happiness Like Water published by Granta Publication and Songeziwe Mahlangu, Penumbra published by Kwela Books, Imprint of NB Publishers.

    Tonight, Ozy.com CEO Carlos Watson sits down with Gwen Ifill to discuss stories that aren’t on every frontpage, but just might warrant more attention in our new segment titled: Not Trending.

    The post Not Trending: Nigeria’s generous new literature prize boosts African writers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The latest trade reports this week showed once again the extent to which China is a powerhouse in the world of international commerce.  Its exports came in above projections, even as the global economy is showing new signs of slowing.

    But while growth brings important benefits, it’s also leading to some profound changes in day-to-day life there.

    Our economics correspondent, Paul Solman, tells us about an unusual performer who’s tapped into a vein, part of his reporting on Making Sense of financial news.

    JESSE APPELL, LaughBeijing.com (through interpreter): Inflation is such a mystery.  Everything’s too expensive for me.


    PAUL SOLMAN: A comedy club inflation tear-jerker from a Boston Fulbright Scholar with a unique take on China’s economy, Jesse Appell, a stand-up sensation here in, of all places, Beijing.  At a Chinese restaurant back in Boston, Appell, though he’s no economist, presented his credentials.

    JESSE APPELL: I’m pretty sure that I’m the best macroeconomic Chinese-English bilingual rapper in the world.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And not just rap, but macroeconomic comedy in general, which has earned Appell both a unique view of a China in jarring economic transition, and an upper-middle-class income there, some $30,000 a year.

    Appell’s income comes from comedy gigs, prompted by TV appearances.  And how did he make it onto Chinese TV?  By producing Internet videos, like “Laowai Style,” that have attracted millions of Chinese viewers to this young American’s sometimes bilingual take on Sino-economic.

    JESSE APPELL: “Mo Money Mo Fazhan” is a parody of “Mo Money Mo Problems.”  And fazhan means development in China, so this is mo money, more development.

    JESSE APPELL (through interpreter): I don’t know how to develop this economy.  But it seems, the more money we come across, the more development we see.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The video’s punchline, the more money, the more development, the more development, the more ambivalence.  That is, the more good things to shop for, the more bad things to endure.

    JESSE APPELL (through interpreter): Before, we were one-story houses.  Now we skyscrapers.  We got migrant workers selling fake iPhones, rich second-generation kids bragging about their second homes.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And the bads are palpable, says Appell.

    JESSE APPELL: There’s so much traffic.  It’s too congested.  There’s pollution in the air.  Now that everybody has a college degree, you know, your college degree is worth a lot less.  And there’s really cutthroat competition.

    PAUL SOLMAN: More cutthroat competition, more fazhan, Appell exclaims, more confusion between old and new, and, unless the new wealth is evenly distributed, more economic inequality, those above ever further away from those below.

    JESSE APPELL: No safety net in China.  I mean, people save 40 percent of their income because, if they get sick and go to the doctor’s, there’s no credit.  You have to pay in cash, up front, while you’re in the emergency room, or else you don’t get medical treatment.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Finally, more money brought more inflation, prices rising faster than most Chinese could afford, especially the price of food, which rose at almost 10 percent a year for a decade, inspiring Appell’s newest musical offering.

    JESSE APPELL: “Where Has the One Kuai Chuanr Gone?” is the name of the piece.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The one kuai chuanr is that…

    JESSE APPELL: Chuanr is the one — kuai is like a dollar in China, and chuanr is the meat on a stick.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And the point of that?

    JESSE APPELL: This original song is, “Where Has the Time Gone?”  And it’s a super sappy song about, you know, my kids have grown up and where has the time gone, and now the kids are gone and I’m old.  I changed it to where has the one kuai chuanr gone?

    JESSE APPELL (through interpreter): The great Beijing delicacy, why have you forsaken me?  Every night, I search the street looking for skewers of meat.  Inflation is such a mystery.  Everything’s too expensive for me.

    Where has the one kuai chuanr gone?


    PAUL SOLMAN: So, this is the inflation that naturally comes with development, but it has a downside to it.

    JESSE APPELL: Yes, and inflation there is a big deal, because people remember just a couple years ago being able to buy, you know, the one kuai chuanr.  And, you know, it’s especially for people who make less money.  It’s a little bit of the loss of this culture and the — this moment in the development of China where we had enough meat to put on the sticks and everybody could afford it.

    JESSE APPELL (through interpreter): I mourn my friend.  One kuai chuanr has disappeared.



    PAUL SOLMAN: In fact, it’s really the inequality that’s so confusing to the Chinese, combined with an economic slowdown after years of soaring growth and ever-higher expectations.  Inflation has actually been going down of late.

    JESSE APPELL (through interpreter): Nobody knows which direction the economy’s going.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But, hey, a rapper can explain just so much.  We did have one last question, however.  Why has macro-rap struck a chord in today’s China?

    JESSE APPELL: The economy and money plays a huge role in everyday people’s lives.  Everybody’s always talking about, how am I going to make money?  How much did that subway cost to build?  How much do I pay to go on the subway?  These issues come up in America, but they’re everywhere in China.  And everybody is a streetwise economist and everybody is a streetwise finance expert and is trying to figure out how to just get it done.

    JESSE APPELL: We need a better economic policy.

    It’s just so in the psyche of everybody that doing rap about the economy doesn’t even seem weird.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And after spending enough time with Jesse Appell, it didn’t even seem weird to us.

    This is Paul Solman reporting from the new home of macroeconomic Chinese rap comedy, the PBS NewsHour.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: And if you were as intrigued as we were by some of those rap parodies Paul just sampled, you’re in luck if you go to our home page, where you can watch full videos of his work.

    The post American rapper taps into the flow of China’s economy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    GWEN IFILL: It took only minutes after this year’s Oscar nominations were announced this morning for the criticism to begin.

    Much of the reaction centered on what was missing, namely, diversity among nominees for actor, actress, directing and screenwriting. For the first time since 1995, all of the actors nominated for lead and supporting roles are white. One prominent snub, the civil rights film “Selma,” which snagged a best picture nod, but nothing for its director, actors or writers.

    What, if anything, does any of this tell us about the Academy or about the films themselves?

    For that, we turn to two film critics, Mike Sargent of Pacifica Radio and Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post.

    Welcome to you both.

    So, Ann Hornaday, what do today’s nominations tell us about the kinds of films that Hollywood is making and the kinds of films that Hollywood is awarding?

    ANN HORNADAY, The Washington Post: Well, at least for today, it looks like it’s kind of a boys show.

    And even when you look at the best picture nominees — and, gratifyingly, “Selma” did make it into the best picture — to be nominated for best picture. But so many of those are movies are journeys undertaken by men, either the great men of “The Theory of Everything” and “Imitation Game” or the young man of “Boyhood” or the actor of “Birdman.”

    So it is a striking sort of tableaux of men and their stories being represented in that group.

    GWEN IFILL: Mike Sargent, what struck you most when you first watched and saw these nominations?

    MIKE SARGENT, Pacifica Radio: Well, unfortunately, I wasn’t very surprised.

    I mean, these nominations, I believe, reflect Hollywood in general and reflect what is coming out in film in general. And I agree with my co-critic that it is unfortunately something of a white boys club. Most of the films are written, produced and directed by white men.

    And, you know, you have to also look at how the Academy is set up and who it is that actually gets to vote and how you actually become an Academy member. Ironically, it’s similar to the way it’s depicted in “Selma” before the Voting Rights Act. You have to be nominated by somebody who is already in the Academy, and they kind of have to vet you, and you have to pass through this whole system.

    And, meanwhile, if you get nominated, you’re offered entry into the Academy, but if consistently the people who are nominating, the people who are voting are a boys club and an all-white male boys club, then you know what?  This is what we get.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, Ann Hornaday, let me ask you about that, because this very same composition of an Academy voted for “12 Years a Slave” last year and whose — who was helmed by a black male director. “The Help” has been well-received, a couple other movies with racial themes over the years.

    ANN HORNADAY: Oh, sure.

    But that might be — those might be exceptions that prove the rule. I mean, I don’t — and I don’t take anything away from — especially from “12 Years a Slave,” which was a magnificent achievement.

    But, to Mike’s point, the demographics are — first of all, we’re talking about a relatively small group of people. It’s…

    GWEN IFILL: Sure.

    ANN HORNADAY: You know, there are between 5,000 and 6,000 members, 94 percent — according to a study done by The Los Angeles Times two years ago, 94 percent Caucasian, 77 percent male. The median age is 62.

    So we’re looking at a demographic slice of life that isn’t necessarily representational of the culture. And, by contrast, let’s look at the Golden Globes the other night. We used to sort of pooh-pooh the Golden Globes and the Hollywood Foreign Press as being, I don’t know, lightweights or not quite of our station, but they ended up being so forward-looking and much more representational in their nominations and their wins.

    GWEN IFILL: Mike Sargent, a lot of the debate about “Selma” in particular was about its accuracy, about its historical fidelity. Do you think that hurt it?

    MIKE SARGENT: Well, I think it definitely hurt it. And I also feel it is kind of a load of malarkey.

    I mean, let’s face it. Historical films and a number of the films nominated are historical films based on real people. Historical films in general always have a certain amount of elements that are not specifically historically accurate.

    And I won’t — whether disagreeing or not agreeing, that campaign effectively allows the PGA to not get behind her — that’s the Producers Guild — the Directors Guild to not get behind her, and then, ultimately, the Academy can’t back a film that is — quote, unquote — “has a controversy” over its inaccuracy.

    Meanwhile, a film like “Argo” won for best screenplay and best picture. Not only was it historically inaccurate, but the main character is a Latino played by Ben Affleck.

    GWEN IFILL: And, Ann Hornaday, how much of this has to do with good old-fashioned campaigning?  We have all seen the “for your consideration” ads, the stepped-up advertising in general for all kinds of movies leading up to Oscar nominations.

    Maybe somebody else just did a better job?


    GWEN IFILL: Let me ask this to Ann Hornaday. I’m sorry.

    Go ahead.

    MIKE SARGENT: Oh, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

    ANN HORNADAY: But there’s — and there’s no doubt. You’re right, Gwen. The campaigns have reached Washingtonian proportions in terms of their budgets and their bare-knuckled seriousness.

    And so it could be that the campaigning hurt Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo this year, but it could have been also something as arcane as how many screeners the studio sent out to the guilds while they were voting on their award, so that it didn’t get maybe the momentum that it could have had in the last few weeks.

    So, it — it might be overdetermined, as an economist might say, in terms of the reasons why some people got in and some people didn’t.

    GWEN IFILL: Mike Sargent, you started this conversation by saying you weren’t that surprised. Does that mean that you were discouraged?

    MIKE SARGENT: Well, I — let’s put it this way. I am somewhat discouraged.

    I guess, to me, this is sort of systematic and institutionalized. You know, it strikes me, a very important point about Hollywood is that, you know, there’s this myth that black films don’t travel. So, as a result, no matter how much money your film makes here — and I’m talking about black film, not necessarily a Denzel Washington film — I’m talking about whether you’re Kevin Hart or whatever. You live and die here. That’s it, because…

    GWEN IFILL: In the U.S., yes.

    MIKE SARGENT: In the U.S., because those films are not distributed internationally.

    So, as a result, in a way, you’re sort of ghettoized into just having your films play here and that myth perpetuating itself that, oh, the black experience is not of any interest to the rest of the world.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, we will be able to watch and see what happens next in all of this, not only Oscar night, but after that.

    Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post, Mike Sargent of Pacifica Radio, thank you both very much.

    MIKE SARGENT: Well, you’re welcome.

    ANN HORNADAY: Thank you.

    MIKE SARGENT: Thank you for having us.

    The post How the Oscars’ lack of diversity reflects who runs Hollywood appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Target Corp's abrupt decision to withdraw from Canada is troubling news for many mall owners, as the most obvious potential buyer of property assets - Wal-Mart - is expected to cherry-pick from Target's 133 locations. Minneapolis-based Target, the second-biggest U.S. discounter, obtained creditor protection for the Canadian unit and said on Thursday it will seek to sell real estate assets, including leases for some 14.7 million square feet of retail space. Photo by Ben Nelms/Reuters

    Minneapolis-based Target, the second-biggest U.S. discounter, obtained creditor protection for the Canadian unit and said on Thursday it will seek to sell real estate assets, including leases for some 14.7 million square feet of retail space. Photo by Ben Nelms/Reuters

    Target announced Thursday that it will shut down its struggling operations in Canada, less than two years after its launch there.

    The retail giant will close 133 stores and lay off more than 17,000 Canadian employees. The failed expansion in Canada already cost the company around $2 billion, and it expects a writedown of more than $5 billion for the last quarter of 2014.

    Target’s expansion into Canada has been largely calamitous since the launch in March 2013. Customers found shelves in some stores empty due to supply chain problems. Shoppers also complained that Target’s prices in Canada were higher than in its American stores.

    In a statement Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said, “After a thorough review of our Canadian performance and careful consideration of the implications of all options, we were unable to find a realistic scenario that would get Target Canada to profitability until at least 2021.”

    Cornell became CEO last summer after the previous chief, Gregg Steinhafel, stepped down in May. Two weeks later, the head of operations in Canada was laid off.

    Although retailer’s problems in Canada have been widely known, the sudden decision to close all the stores was considered a surprise. Minnesota-based Target is the second-largest discount retailer in the U.S., after WalMart.

    The post Target shutting down in Canada after only two years appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. soldiers from Dragon Troop of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment discuss their mission during their first training exercise of the new year near operating base Gamberi in the Laghman province of Afghanistan

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, as we mentioned earlier, there’s been a passionate reaction to Jim Fallows’ piece.

    And joining me now to discuss it is former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey. You heard Margaret mention him. He’s a former Army infantry officer. He is now a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. And former Marine intelligence officer and former spokesman for the Senate Armed Services Committee John Ullyot. He’s now a managing director at the High Lantern Group. That’s a business consulting firm.

    And we welcome you both.

    JOHN ULLYOT, Former U.S. Marine Corps Intelligence Officer: Thank you.

    JAMES JEFFREY, Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq: Thank you, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s a lot to talk about there, but let’s focus on a few points.

    Ambassador Jeffrey, to you first.

    Is Jim Fallows right when he says, essentially, this has been an era of military defeat in this country, rather than victory, since 9/11?

    JAMES JEFFREY: It has been an era of lack of success in carrying out our strategic objectives in Iraq and in certainly Afghanistan, and, going back, Vietnam as well.

    When we get engaged in these long-term conflicts, we have not done well as a nation. The military, as Jim Fallows pointed out, do win the battles. That’s what they are hired for, but they and all of us together under the leadership of the president have not come up with strategies that have led to the achievement of our objectives.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, John Ullyot, that and the biggest point that the country has lost more than it’s gained.

    JOHN ULLYOT: Well, the ambassador is absolutely right that if you look battle by battle, that we never suffered a single tactical defeat on the battlefield.

    So, while Jim Fallows himself is right that they have not been successful, it has not been because of military shortcomings. What it has been is, it’s been the policy-makers have committed our military to wars and conflicts both in Iraq and Afghanistan that are essentially not solvable on a military level.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So what is happening here, Ambassador Jeffrey? The point he made I thought very powerfully is that such a tiny percentage of the American people are in the military, that it’s just a fraction of 1 percent.

    The American people are disconnected from these decisions.

    JAMES JEFFREY: That’s true to some degree.

    But, I mean, all decisions are taken by the president and by Congress, and it’s by a democratic system. The military is small because militaries in all advanced countries are small. We have well over two million people in — under uniform in the Reserves, National Guard and active services, but that’s still a very tiny percent of the very large country we are.

    So, there is no real solution to that. The military, I don’t want to let them off the hook. They have a voice in determining these strategic objectives. General Powell gave us a way forward with the Powell doctrine. General Petraeus, as a division commander in Iraq in ’03, asked the relevant question: Tell me how this is all going to end.

    We need more of that. We need more people to say, without a strategic goal and without the resources, we shouldn’t be winning these battles at great loss.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: John Ullyot — is that what has happened, John Ullyot?

    JOHN ULLYOT: That’s somewhat what happened.

    I certainly saw, we saw in the Senate that the Senate was a lot more likely to vote to commit forces when there’s not a direct impact on them themselves. And I know the ambassador and I may disagree on this, because you can point to Vietnam.

    But if you just look at the Iraq war and to a lesser extent Afghanistan, we were too willing to commit troops because we didn’t know what the actual costs would have been and what the downsides would be if the mission didn’t go the way it did when we first sent them in, in 2003.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So who or what is responsible? In a way, we hear Jim Fallows, John Ullyot, coming back to the American people and saying the American people themselves have got to be more engaged.

    JOHN ULLYOT: I think he’s absolutely right on that point. And I think it’s a really good thing that you’re seeing — I think there are 20 new members of Congress who have served in the military who are younger generation, in many cases Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

    And by them being in there, that’s more than we have had in recent years, and that is a really good step forward. To Fallows’ point, we need more of that; we need more people with military experience who are willing to go into Congress and participate in these decisions about when we use force.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Ambassador Jeffrey, it’s still disturbing, I think, this larger point he’s making that so much blood and treasure have been in effect spent in Iraq and Afghanistan and that entire region over the last decade-plus, and he makes the point that America’s — American — the American image, values have all taken a big hit despite that.

    JAMES JEFFREY: They certainly have taken a hit, Judy.

    But, again, that isn’t because the military didn’t take down Saddam in a few weeks. It did. It isn’t because the military, with help from the CIA, didn’t drive the Taliban and al-Qaida out of Afghanistan very, very quickly. It’s because they were not capable of doing a mission that is almost impossible, as we had seen two generations ago in Vietnam.

    You cannot go in and clear out an entire country with an insurgency that is supported by much of the population by any of the standards that we’re willing to apply in war.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, how does the U.S. prevent something like that from happening again and again and again?

    JAMES JEFFREY: Don’t get involved in any more large counterinsurgencies, where the foot soldiers on the ground are American troops. We have played this game three times. We have not done well in any of them. Let’s just stop doing it.

    JOHN ULLYOT: And, once again, don’t look for — I agree with the ambassador 100 percent on that.

    The key thing is, do not see geopolitical problems as always having a military solution. We have been very — very fortunate that we have a military that is the world’s best, hands down, but there are a lot of times — for example, we can’t provide stability to a country that doesn’t politically have the will to do so, like in Iraq.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, so often, the decision to go to war is equated with, is the U.S. prepared to stand up for what it believes in? And if we’re not, then the argument is, well, we’re weak, so we don’t have any choice.

    JOHN ULLYOT: Correct.

    But, once again, it has to be a holistic solution. And if you say that, look, just by committing U.S. forces in Iraq, that that’s going to be a clear card to victory, we know that that’s not the case.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What else should the American people be thinking about as they think about the military today?

    JAMES JEFFREY: It’s very important to realize that the military has gone through an extraordinarily difficult period, with multiple deployments, great stress on families. That’s the first thing.

    The second thing is, they’re ready to go out and do this again tomorrow if the country needs them, and that is a resource that no other country in the Western world has. And it’s a precious resource and we have to ensure that it’s not wasted on a conflict that they’re not given the resources to win.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we thank you both, Ambassador Jim Jeffrey and John Ullyot. Thank you.

    JOHN ULLYOT: Thank you, Judy.

    JAMES JEFFREY: Thank you, Judy.

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    U.S. soldiers from D Troop of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment walk on a hill after finishing with a training exercise near forward operating base Gamberi in the Laghman province of Afghanistan

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to a critique of America’s war-fighting apparatus that’s making waves in defense circles and beyond.

    Journalist and author James Fallows raises hard questions about this country’s defense establishment in a cover story “The Atlantic” magazine titled “Why Do the Best Soldiers in the World Keep Losing?: The Tragic Decline of the American Military.”

    Fallows’ thesis? That it’s time to examine why the best-funded, trained and most professional military in the world hasn’t achieved lasting victories over insurgent forces in the post-9/11 era.

    We will have more on the reaction to his piece.

    But, first, we hear from Fallows himself. He spoke a few days ago with our Margaret Warner.

    MARGARET WARNER: Jim Fallows, thank you for having us.

    JAMES FALLOWS, The Atlantic : Thank you, Margaret.

    MARGARET WARNER: Now, you contend in this article that, after 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, in which we overthrew Saddam Hussein and the Taliban and drove most of the al-Qaida remnants at least underground, that we essentially lost those wars?

    JAMES FALLOWS: I’m saying that if you looked at this era from a strictly military strategic point of view, you would say there is one clear victory the United States had, which was killing Osama bin Laden.

    But by having this last 12 or 13 years of open-ended war in Iraq and the surrounding countries, I argue that, from almost any perspective, that is of use of money, loss of life, taking of life, strategic changes in America’s image and reputation around the world, erosion of American values, this has been an era of defeat, rather than victory.

    MARGARET WARNER: But critics like former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Jim Jeffrey argues that, by any classic definition, military definition of winning a war, which he said is forcing the other side to cease operations and basically gaining control of territory, that the United States has won most of these engagements.

    JAMES FALLOWS: There’s another classic military saying, winning battles, losing wars.

    There was a North Vietnamese commander who was interviewed. And some American said, well, you never beat us on the battlefield. And he says, that’s true, but it’s irrelevant. We won in the long road. I think the same is true over the last dozen years.

    The article is not at all meant to imply that in engagement by engagement, U.S. troops are anything less than competent, brave, heroic, enduring losses and all the rest. But as a strategic question of how we apply our will around the world and this military that’s so much larger than anybody else’s around the world, I argue that it’s been ineffective and often counterproductive.

    MARGARET WARNER: You apportion a lot of blame, military leadership, some political leadership, but you also say it’s rooted in something that’s happened to the American public and culture. And you sum it up with this phrase, chicken hawk nation.

    JAMES FALLOWS: I used that word knowing that it would be provocative.

    This was a term that was popular when the Iraq war was being debated, that people were eager to go to war, as long as somebody else was going. I argue that if — when historians look at this era in our — of our America, they will say something similar was true of the country as a whole.

    We are always at war. We spend twice as large a share of our GDP on the military as the world does in general. It’s the longest sustained period of open-ended combat in our nation’s history. And yet the country as a whole is barely affected. We have halftime ceremonies honoring the heroes. We let them get onto commercial airlines earlier, but we don’t think seriously about what they’re doing, the missions we’re asking them to undertake.

    And, as a result, in my view, we have embarked on a series of unwinnable wars. We call people heroes and then send them to do things they can’t do.

    MARGARET WARNER: So you say that this adulation almost that the American public feels for the military is dangerous.

    JAMES FALLOWS: I’m saying that it’s unnatural, in addition to being dangerous.

    When I was a kid in the ’50s and ’60s and then older in the ’70s, American pop culture reflected a country familiar enough with its military to make fun of it at times. You had shows like “Gomer Pyle,” or “Hogan’s Heroes,” or “”McHale’s Navy.”

    You had works of art like “South Pacific” or novels like “Catch 22″ and even movies like “MASH,” respected the importance of the military and the important things it did that were heroic in the large scale, like World War II, but it was still made of real people with their real foibles.

    But we — now we have started to have this artificially reverent view of the military that’s also distant and disengaged.

    MARGARET WARNER: And rooted in the end of the draft.


    And remember even the fact that, right now, if you take all the people who served in Iraq or Afghanistan at any point in the last 13 years, they are three-quarters of 1 percent of the American public. And so it’s a country at war, but a public that’s not at war. And I think that’s just distorting in the long run.

    MARGARET WARNER: Going into Iraq, that wasn’t being driven by the Pentagon, was it? Wasn’t that the political leadership, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld?

    JAMES FALLOWS: No, I agree, and that the Pentagon has generally been a sort of anti-war force in councils of deliberation over the last generation-plus.

    But before the Iraq war, most of the people I was interviewing inside the Pentagon thought this is going to be a big mess, because proper planning wasn’t being done. So I’m not saying at all that the military is driving this open-ended extension.

    MARGARET WARNER: The Pentagon says, we’re here to present the options to carry out whatever policy the president decides he wants to pursue.

    JAMES FALLOWS: Yes. I think…

    MARGARET WARNER: Can the public really even be a player in that?

    JAMES FALLOWS: There are issues of military accountability.

    And I think there should be more — more accountability for commanders and tactics and strategies that worked well and poorly in the last dozen years. It’s also true that our elected civilian leadership, both Presidents George W. Bush and President Obama, have enjoyed the convenience of being able to do a lot of this by executive order, and having the public and the Congress not involved.

    But the public is ultimately responsible. So I’m trying to stick a prod in the public to say, this matters more than our public deportment would suggests it matters.

    MARGARET WARNER: So what is the fix?

    JAMES FALLOWS: I thought this was very interesting that Admiral Mullen, he said, as a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it’s become too easy to go to war. It’s not me saying it. It’s Admiral Mullen saying this. He would like more trip wires that make the public conscious.

    MARGARET WARNER: Is he talking about a return to the draft? Are you talking about that?

    JAMES FALLOWS: I think Admiral Mullen knows, as I do and almost everybody does, that realistically a return of the draft is not going to happen.

    I think what Admiral Mullen is saying is there needs to be some way that people are more connected, whether it’s having greater reliance on the Reserves, so that people who didn’t expect to be in combat suddenly are called. The specific answer is not clear, but the general goal is.

    MARGARET WARNER: You also suggest some sort of national commission to look at the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and why we have such trouble dealing with insurgent conflicts. Would any study, though, stop any president who is determined to reengage?

    JAMES FALLOWS: To answer that question directly, no, of course. There are limits to what studies can do.

    But there have been times in modern history where these big presidential commissions have made a difference. The 9/11 Commission had some effect. And I think something that would formally get attention on what has gone right and wrong in this past dozen years of the long wars, so we will have some way of assessing, should we do this again?

    The institutional process for deciding again whether we’re going to go to war one more time needs to be more robust than it is now.

    MARGARET WARNER: Jim Sciutto, thank you.

    JAMES FALLOWS: Thank you, Margaret

    The post ‘An era of defeat’ for the best soldiers in the world? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Belgian police block a street in central Verviers where Belgian counter-terrorist police raided an apartment

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    GWEN IFILL: We return now to the hunt for terrorists in Europe.

    Today’s raids against armed militants in Belgium highlighted the trend of European Muslims traveling to Syria and Iraq to fight. Europol says that as many as 5,000 Europeans have joined the conflict there. Hundreds have returned to Europe, where authorities fear they may use their military training to launch attacks.

    For more on this, I’m joined by Lorenzo Vidino of the European Foundation for Democracy. He studies Islamism and political violence in Europe and North America.

    So, officials say there is no direct connection to the Paris attacks, Mr. Vidino, but they seem awfully similar.

    LORENZO VIDINO, European Foundation for Democracy: Yes, absolutely.

    What we see right now in Belgium is two different situations. It was the — allegedly the arrest of the individual who provided the weapons to Coulibaly, the man who attacked the supermarket in Paris, but they also allegedly thwarted a plot which traces its routes to Syria to carry out attacks in Belgium, so a very tense situation many Belgium with two ongoing situations.

    GWEN IFILL: Is the Syria connection particularly problematic in Europe, where the borders are so porous?

    LORENZO VIDINO: Oh, absolutely.

    First of all, the borders are porous when it comes to Turkey. So, it’s very easy for Europeans to go to Turkey. In many cases, you don’t even need a passport. Just with an I.D., you can travel to Turkey. And then it’s easy from the Turkish border the make your way in into Syria.

    Equally easy is to come back from Syria to Turkey and then to European countries. And, finally, it’s very easy to go from one country and another. There is no border anymore between European countries. One travels like you travel from state to state in the U.S. The problem is that the police does not have the same power, so there are borders for authorities.

    So French police cannot investigate and operate in let’s say Belgium or Spain, but the terrorists move freely. That’s a big problem for Europe.

    GWEN IFILL: You’re in Milan tonight in Italy and you work in Belgium. Is there — from the people you talk to on the continent, is there a particular nervousness, tension about the potential for these kinds of attacks or plots to spread?

    LORENZO VIDINO: Yes, obviously, you do see a larger presence of police in many potential targets.

    I don’t think there’s panic in terms of population, but obviously that’s what people talk about. It’s in the media. And you do see some tensions in society. So, obviously, these are tense times. It’s nothing new in European history. We have dealt with Islamist terrorism for the last 15 years. We have had other forms of terrorism, right-wing, left-wing, nationalist, in the past.

    So it’s really nothing new. At the same time, obviously, there are some tensions. And it’s a new form of terrorism which is in some way particularly insidious. So it’s problematic, indeed.

    GWEN IFILL: In Brussels lately and in Belgium in general, there have been — there’s a history of some attacks recently.

    LORENZO VIDINO: There was indeed another attack back in May, where another returnee from Syria, French individual who was radicalized in prison, traveled to Syria, fought for one year in Syria, then came back to Europe, managed to get an AK-47 and went inside a Jewish museum in Brussels and killed four people. He was then subsequently arrested.

    A lot of the dynamics that we have seen now with France and Belgium were already visible back then. We do see these sort of dynamics throughout Europe, where there have been several plots thwarted in many countries, from the U.K. to even peaceful Switzerland and Sweden. And so it is a problem.

    The numbers you mentioned are particularly problematic, up to 5,000 individuals. That’s a huge number that creates a lot of problems for authorities to monitor them. There’s a lack of manpower and there is obviously a legal problem in monitoring all these people.

    GWEN IFILL: Is there a distinction or a distinction without a difference between Islamic State militants and al-Qaida militants in terms of trying to trace the source of all of this activism and terrorism?

    LORENZO VIDINO: No, I think it’s — there’s obviously an importance.

    We know the two groups are at odds. They are actually in competition on some level, and at the leadership level, there is a bit of a rivalry between the two. And in a way, the argument is that one is trying to outdo the other by carrying out spectacular and symbolic attacks.

    I think, at the grassroots level, when it comes to aspiring terrorists, aspiring jihadists, for them, those distinctions don’t really make much sense. People who want to sort of get involved a bit, embrace this ideology and want to mobilize, to them, al-Qaida, the Islamic State make little sense. It’s a distinction, but it doesn’t really matter.

    What they want to do is do something, whether it’s in Syria or here in New York. Whether they do it with al-Qaida and the Islamic State, it matters very little to them.

    GWEN IFILL: Lorenzo Vidino of the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels, thank you very much.

    LORENZO VIDINO: Thank you.

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    Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    After a year where police brutality was in the spotlight, Attorney General Eric Holder has called for better record-keeping on police use of force. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder called Thursday for better record-keeping on how often police officers use force and are themselves attacked, saying the current data is incomplete and inadequate.

    With his remarks, Holder joined police union officials, academics and others who have urged collection of more detailed statistical data on officer fatalities and deaths of civilians at the hands of police officers.

    “This would represent a common-sense step that would begin to address serious concerns about police officer safety, as well as the need to safeguard civil liberties,” Holder said in a speech at the Justice Department honoring Rev. Martin Luther King.

    The FBI publishes data on “justifiable homicides” by police officers and on the number of police officers killed or assaulted, and legislation passed by Congress about 20 years ago directs the Justice Department to keep statistics on excessive force by police. But those figures are widely understood to be incomplete since the reporting by local police departments is voluntary and not all submit their statistics.

    The absence of reliable data was brought to the forefront by police-involved deaths last year in New York City and Ferguson, Missouri. Efforts to explore how frequently officers use force were stymied by poor record-keeping and incomplete data. After the killings last month of two police officers in New York by a man who later fatally shot himself, the Fraternal Order of Police led calls for a better accounting of officer fatalities.

    Holder said better data are needed on both officer deaths and use of force to provide a more accurate picture of relations between police and the communities they serve.

    “It is incumbent upon all of us to protect both the safety of our police officers and the rights and well-being of all of our citizens,” Holder said. “We can, and we must examine new ways to do both.”

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    GWEN IFILL: In other news this day: Turkey and Israel intensified a war of words over the Paris attacks. First, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for linking the bloodshed to Islam. That prompted the Israeli foreign minister to brand Erdogan an anti-Semitic bully.

    Today came a new exchange, this time between Turkey’s prime minister and the Israeli leader.

    AHMET DAVUTOGLU, Prime Minister, Turkey (through translator): Netanyahu, as the head of the government that kills chilling playing on the beach with a bombardment of Gaza and storms a humanitarian aid vessel sailing in international waters, he committed a crime against the humanity, just as the massacre in Paris committed by terrorists.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel (through translator): The severe words of Turkish President Erdogan were compounded today by the words of his prime minister. Until now, I have not heard condemnation from the international community to these unacceptable words. I want to say clearly that if the international community doesn’t condemn those who support terror, the wave of terror that is sweeping the world will only increase.

    GWEN IFILL: Relations between Israel and Turkey have gone downhill since 2010, when 10 Turks died during an Israeli raid on an aid convoy trying to reach Gaza.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Pope Francis arrived in the Philippines today, marking the first papal visit to Asia’s largest Catholic nation in 20 years. He was greeted in Manila by a wind gust that blew off his cap, and also by hundreds of children. They performed a mass, coordinated welcome dance with multicolored umbrellas.

    Later, hundreds of thousands lined the streets as the papal motorcade traveled to the Vatican embassy. Six million people are expected at an outdoor mass on Sunday.

    GWEN IFILL: The longstanding American embargo on trade and travel to Cuba starts to ease tomorrow. The Obama administration formally announced it today, under a diplomatic reopening to Havana. U.S. companies will be allowed to export more technology and make limited investments in Cuba. Additional travel will be permitted, although general tourism remains banned.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Five more prisoners have been released from U.S. military custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The five, from Yemen, were captured in Pakistan, and held for more than a dozen years as al-Qaida suspects. They are being sent to Estonia and Oman for resettlement; 122 detainees remain at Guantanamo.

    GWEN IFILL: A big-name witness testified today in the trial of a former CIA officer accused in a high-profile leak. Former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told jurors she was stunned when The New York Times reported on a mission to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program. The government says Jeffrey Sterling leaked the information, a charge he denies.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama has opened a new push today for giving paid sick leave to parents and others. He signed a memorandum today directing federal agencies to provide up to six weeks of sick leave to care for newborn children or ill relatives. And he followed up later in Baltimore.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There are 43 million Americans who don’t get paid sick leave, which, when you think about it, is a pretty astonishing statistic. And that means that no matter how sick they are, or how sick a family member is, they may find themselves having to choose to be able to buy groceries or pay the rent or look after themselves or their children.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The president will raise the issue again in his State of the Union address next Tuesday. Republicans announced today that freshman Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa will give the GOP response.

    GWEN IFILL: And on Wall Street, weak earning at big banks pushed stocks lower again. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 106 points to close at 17320; the Nasdaq fell 68 points to close at 4570; and the S&P 500 slipped 18 to 1992. 

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    GWEN IFILL: Guns blazed in Belgium this evening as terror suspects shot it out with police, putting Europe back on edge.  Security officials say they raided a cell of extremists who planned attacks — quote — “on a grand scale.”

    Two suspects were killed and one wounded in the Eastern town of Verviers, about 80 miles from Belgium.  Police said the gunmen used military weapons and opened fire as special units closed in.  They allegedly had ties to Syria, but no apparent connection to last week’s attacks in Paris.  We will focus on the terror threat facing Europe after the news summary.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The trouble in Belgium came on a day when the president of France appealed for religious tolerance.  And some of the victims of the attacks were laid to rest today.

    The casket was carried out to applause, and covered in cartoons and messages drawn by Charlie Hebdo staffers.  Hundreds gathered at the funeral of Bernard Verlhac, known as Tignous, one of 12 people gunned down at the satirical weekly last week.

    RENALD LUZIER, Cartoonist, Charlie Hebdo (through interpreter): We will continue to draw cartoons of the victims, and we drew on Tignous’ coffin.  We will try to continue to laugh with them where they are now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Earlier, at a memorial service, the wife of Tignous urged on the cause of free expression.

    CHLOE VERLHAC (through interpreter): There is a phrase which I find a bit silly, but I have said it a lot.  He shouldn’t die for nothing.  I think it’s fundamental.  The cartoonists are today messengers of hope.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Funerals were also held for two other Charlie Hebdo staffers and for a policeman who helped protect them.

    The killings were condemned today by Pope Francis, traveling in Asia.  But he also called for limits on free expression when it comes to religion.

    POPE FRANCIS, Leader of Catholic Church (through interpreter): Many people who speak badly about other religions or religion, who make fun of them, make other people’s religions a joke, well, that is a provocation.  You cannot provoke.  You cannot insult other people’s faiths.  You cannot make fun of faith.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in Pakistan, from protests in the street to a vote in Parliament, there was widespread condemnation of Charlie Hebdo for publishing another cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.

    Back in France, President Francois Hollande sought to calm religious tensions, vowing to punish any acts against Muslims or Jews.

    PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, France (through interpreter):  We should also remember, and I did it each time I made a trip to the Arab world, that Islam is compatible with democracy.  We should reject all prejudices, starting in France.  French people of the Muslim faith have the same rights and have the same duties as all citizens.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, the French military reported Islamic hacker groups and others have attacked 19,000 French Web sites since last week’s attacks.

    Secretary of State John Kerry flew into Paris this evening.  He said he will convey American sympathies for the Paris victims at a town hall tomorrow.

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    Students fill a hallway at Coolidge High School in Washington, D.C., between classes May 1, 2014. Coolidge opened as a whites-only school in 1940, today it's students are almost exclusively African-American and Latino and from low-income households.

    Students fill a hallway at Coolidge High School in Washington, D.C., between classes May 1, 2014. Coolidge opened as a whites-only school in 1940, today it’s students are almost exclusively African-American and Latino and from low-income households.

    The majority of students in U.S. public schools are low-income for the first time in at least five decades, according to a new report by the Southern Education Foundation.

    The report measured poverty among students by the number of those that qualified for free and reduced lunch. Nationwide, 51 percent of students met that measure for the 2012-2013 school year.

    The numbers show one part of a larger story about growing inequality in America, according to Kent McGuire, president of the Southern Education Foundation.

    “The fact is, we’ve had growing inequality in the country for many years,” McGuire told the Washington Post. “It didn’t happen overnight, but it’s steadily been happening. Government used to be a source of leadership and innovation around issues of economic prosperity and upward mobility. Now we’re a country disinclined to invest in our young people.”

    The south and west had the highest concentration of low-income students; Mississippi was the highest at 71 percent, while New Mexico followed at 68 percent.

    The number of low-income students in U.S. schools has grown in all but five states since 2006, when a study by the same foundation revealed that the south had become the first region in the country to have a majority of low-income students. Since then, Utah has seen the highest increase, from 34 percent in 2006 to 59 percent in 2013, and the second-highest increase occurred in Iowa, where the number jumped from 32 to 47 percent.

    In contrast, the northeast had the highest concentration of states with fewer low-income students. New Hampshire had the lowest number, with 27 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch.

    States that spend more money per student also tended to have a lower number of low-income students, according to the Washington Post. 22 of the 27 states with the highest numbers of low-income students spent less per student than the national average.

    While the number of low-income students is increasing, so is the gap between them and their wealthier peers. A growing income gap is also clear between ethnic and racial groups—the amount by which white people earn more than black and Hispanic people has increased since 2008, according to the Pew Research Center.

    The report adds another voice to an ongoing debate over revising the No Child Left Behind Act, which proponents said was meant to benefit disadvantaged students. One of the law’s measures of success is by standardized test scores, which critics say puts lower-income students who are less able to pay for test preparation at a disadvantage.

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    From right to left; Jeff Delmay, Todd Delmay, Karla Arguello and Catherina Pareto kiss after the same-sex couples were married in Miami, Florida, January 5, 2015. A judge ruled same-sex marriages could begin in Miami-Dade County on Monday, just ahead of gay couples being able to tie the knot statewide after midnight when Florida becomes the 36th U.S. state to allow people of the same sex to wed. Picture taken Jan. 5, 2015. Photo by Javier Galeano/Reuters

    From right to left; Jeff Delmay, Todd Delmay, Karla Arguello and Catherina Pareto kiss after the same-sex couples were married in Miami, Florida, January 5, 2015. A judge ruled same-sex marriages could begin in Miami-Dade County on Monday, just ahead of gay couples being able to tie the knot statewide after midnight when Florida becomes the 36th U.S. state to allow people of the same sex to wed. Picture taken Jan. 5, 2015. Photo by Javier Galeano/Reuters

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says it will decide whether same-sex couples nationwide have a right to marry under the Constitution.

    The justices said Friday they will review an appellate ruling that upheld bans on same-sex unions in four states.

    The case will be argued in April and a decision is expected by late June.

    Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee are among the 14 states where gay and lesbian couples are not allowed to marry.

    The number of states that permit same-sex marriage has nearly doubled in three months as a result of federal and state court rulings. The justices’ decision to turn away same-sex marriage appeals in October allowed some of those rulings to take effect. Florida last week became the 36th state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

    Mark Sherman is an Associated Press legal affairs writer.

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    airportsecurity1WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Friday he’s concerned that terrorists might use the visa waiver program to get into the United States through countries with which the U.S. has friendly relations, and his department is taking steps to address weaknesses in the program.

    Johnson told an aviation industry luncheon that he doesn’t want to discard the program, which makes it easier for Americans to travel to friendly countries and for citizens of those countries to travel to the U.S. But he noted that some of those countries also have citizens or legal residents who have left to fight or train with terrorist groups in the Middle East, Asia or Africa, then returned home intent on violence.

    For example, France and Germany have larger populations of citizens or residents who have traveled to the Middle East to fight or train with al-Qaida or Islamic State militants. The concern is that those fighters will return to their home countries and from there travel to the U.S.

    Johnson also said the 15 Customs and Border Protection clearance centers established at overseas airports to screen airline passengers bound for the U.S. have been successful. The center the agency opened last year in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, prevented 450 people from boarding planes to the U.S., including several who were on the terror watch list, he said.

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    Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder is curbing the federal government’s role in a civil asset forfeiture program involving local and state law enforcement agencies.

    Holder says federal agencies will no longer take possession of assets seized by local law enforcement, unless the property includes firearms or and other materials that concern public safety.

    The Justice Department has long allowed local law enforcement agencies to turn over seized assets to the federal government and then share in the proceeds.

    The program was developed at a time when most states didn’t have their own asset forfeiture laws and didn’t have legal authority to forfeit seized assets.

    But Holder says because all states now have civil or criminal asset forfeiture laws, it’s no longer necessary for local law enforcement to turn over seized property.

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    The entrance of the ICC is seen in The HagueThe International Criminal Court opened a preliminary examination on Friday into possible war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories, the first step that could potentially lead to charges against officials in either the Israeli or Palestinian side.

    Friday’s statement says that the preliminary inspection, which could take months or even years, is “not an investigation.” Rather, it’s an “examination” — a required procedure — to see if there are grounds for investigation.

    The announcement of the initial probe comes about two weeks after Palestinians applied for ICC membership, which would enable them to pursue war crimes charges against Israel. The initial probe would cover a time period that includes the 50-day war last year in Gaza. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently confirmed that Palestine will join the court starting April 1.

    The move has further strained the relations between Israel and Palestinians, as Israel decided to withhold $127 million in tax revenue it collects from the Palestinian Authority in response.

    Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman condemned the ICC’s decision as “scandalous” and “solely motivated by political anti-Israel considerations.”

    Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect our style guide, which is to use “Palestinian territory,” not “Palestine.”

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    IVETTE FELICIANO: More than a decade after Belgium became the second country in the world to legalize euthanasia, it once again made headlines in early 2014 when it became the first country to lift any age restrictions associated with the procedure.

    In the few American states with laws on the books allowing assisted suicide, only adults are permitted. In fact, just this month, the Connecticut Supreme Court ordered a 17-year-old girl with cancer to continue chemotherapy treatments against her will.

    Yet in Belgium, under the new law, terminally ill children can request euthanasia if they are near death, and suffering “constant and unbearable physical” pain with no available treatment. Parents would have to consent as would with three separate doctors. So far there have been no cases of children in Belgium requesting euthanasia.

    The controversial move came after years of public debate and widespread opposition by religious groups throughout Europe.

    ELS VAN HOOF, MP-Christian Democrats: We know that children have a different idea about the irreversibility of death. They don’t know what it means. You can’t decide on death when you’re 6,7,8,9 years old.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Though some parliament members voted against the bill, euthanasia for terminally ill children passed by an overwhelming majority, and was supported by most Belgians, even though the country is predominantly Roman Catholic.

    Soon after the parliament voted yes on child euthanasia, the Belgian Catholic Church described the law as “a step too far,” arguing that modern medicine can alleviate the suffering of terminally ill patients, and allows illness to run a natural course to death.

    DR. JUTTE VAN DER WERFF TEN BOSCH: It isn’t just the sort of thing you wake up with on a sunny day and say “Oh, today I might like to die.’

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Yet Dr. Jutte van der Werff Ten Bosch, a pediatric oncologist at Brussels University Hospital, says offering alternatives like painkillers, more chemo, and sedation to desperate families hasn’t felt like enough, and she believes some of her past patients would have chosen euthanasia, had it been legal.

    DR. JUTTE VAN DER WERFF TEN BOSCH: When a child has lost hope of ever returning to a normal society, when there is really nothing there, and there is only suffering to come and there has been so much suffering already, I can imagine that you say, “OK this has been enough for me.”

    IVETTE FELICIANO: She says extending the euthanasia law to include children makes perfect sense to her.

    DR. JUTTE VAN DER WERFF TEN BOSCH: As a doctor, this law is great. Every individual has thoughts of dying especially when they are terminally ill. Even children. And they should be able to discuss it with their doctor and express their wishes.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: After testing, psychologists must confirm that the child understands what they are doing, and how serious it is.

    DR. JUTTE VAN DER WERFF TEN BOSCH: Suffering is not only pain, suffering is also shortness of breath, fear, feeling lonely, isolated. They really mature very fast and understand things other children their age really have never thought of.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Similar legislation has existed in the Netherlands for more than a decade, though only for children over the age of 12 and only a handful of cases have been reported by the country’s government. Officials in Belgium’s Euthanasia Control and Evaluation Commission, which oversees the practice in Belgium, expect actual cases of child-euthanasia to be extremely rare.

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