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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: We take a closer look at the killing of the Jordanian pilot and reaction with Rod Nordland of The New York Times, who is on the ground in Amman, and former Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher. He’s now vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

    Welcome to you both.

    Rod Nordland, we are now learning that, in fact, we’re hearing that this Jordanian pilot was killed a month ago, even though negotiations were under way just until, we’re told, this week. Is there some sense now that this was nothing that was ever going to be fixed or that this was futile?

    ROD NORDLAND, The New York Times: Well, I think it’s clear that Jordan’s position they had to show proof of life was informed by their belief that he was already dead, and they weren’t going to release this terrorist, Sajida Rishawi, from prison if they thought that he really was dead. And that now appears to have been the case.

    GWEN IFILL: Were the — was his family still hopeful that he was alive?

    ROD NORDLAND: They were really hopeful. They were hopeful up until a few seconds before word came that this video was out showing his death in this really horrible manner, burned to death in a cage.

    As it happens, my colleague Ranya Kadri was sitting with the mother and the wife of the pilot when the word came, and it was kind of an unfortunate insight into just how devastating this kind of news is to families and the loved ones of somebody this happens to.

    They were just completely hysterical, pulling their hair out, screaming. And it just really brought it home, because I was actually on the phone with Ranya when this all happened. And then, when we saw the video, it was really — it was just about as despicable a thing as you can imagine.

    GWEN IFILL: Marwan Muasher, does this tit-for-tat diplomacy, now we’re hearing the woman prison will also be executed, is that — has that replaced diplomacy?

    MARWAN MUASHER, Former Foreign Minister, Jordan: Well, first of all, these are unconfirmed reports, but there is no question in my mind that there is a state of anger and shock today among all Jordanians and that there will probably be a public demand to execute this woman and three others also that are in Jordanian prisons.

    But let me point out that these are people who have already been condemned and sentenced to death, so they were awaiting execution for many, many years. And whether the government is going to retaliate in this way remains to be seen, but I think it will fall under public pressure to do so.

    GWEN IFILL: Does this put Jordan between kind of a rock and a hard place? It’s part of the coalition. At the same time, it’s taking in so many refugees, and at the same time so many recruits for ISIL are coming from Jordan.

    MARWAN MUASHER: Well, Jordan has been in a tough position.

    The king has made it clear that he regards this war not just as a military war against ISIS, but also a cultural war, a war of values, if you want, to determine who speaks on behalf of Islam. And I think that, whereas some people in Jordan didn’t take that message, and really, you know, it is estimated that maybe between 2,000 to 5,000 people are ideologically attached to ISIS, I think this message will resonate more, particularly after the horrible, horrible way in which the pilot was killed.

    GWEN IFILL: It is horrible.

    And, Rod Nordland, I wonder whether this nervousness, this unhappiness that Marwan Muasher refers to is being — is resonating now on the streets in Amman, where you are tonight.

    ROD NORDLAND: You know, a week ago, people were saying, and we were reporting actually, that a lot of Jordanians thought this shouldn’t be their war, they shouldn’t be a part of it.

    And there’s been a huge change in attitude, even before this awful video of his murder came out. Even before that, Jordanians were really rallying around the flag and turning against ISIS and its tactics. And I think if they thought that this video was going to turn Jordanians away from joining in the coalition, I think they badly misjudged the mood. And I think we will see even more support for Jordan’s role.

    GWEN IFILL: And do you agree with Marwan Muasher then that the mood has been misjudged because of the cultural war that’s under way here, rather — and the ideological one, rather than anything having to do with Islam?

    ROD NORDLAND: Yes, I think that’s probably true.

    At the same time, though, there has been, you know, a kind of underground here of supporters for ISIS, especially young men, some of them fairly vocal. I think you will be hard-pressed tomorrow to find anybody speaking out on behalf of ISIS, or the Islamic State, anymore here, and there will be a real kind of reckoning to come.

    GWEN IFILL: Marwan Muasher, why the increase in barbarity, to use President Obama’s words? We weren’t exactly inured to beheadings, but this seems to be a step beyond, several steps beyond.

    MARWAN MUASHER: I actually see it as a sign of weakness.

    When you kill people in such a barbaric manner, it sort of proves that you’re not able to get results by other means. Whatever the case, this is clearly a group that doesn’t belong to humanity, with which no compromise is possible.

    GWEN IFILL: How do you stop them from doing this?

    MARWAN MUASHER: You stop them first militarily, but also culturally.

    I think we need a cultural war of values to address the very grievances that, you know, a lot of people have and are frustrated enough to move them to join such barbaric groups.

    And it is a war that, you know, the region has to take for itself. They need to be fought militarily, but the underlying causes of frustration and marginalization have also to be addressed. And I hope that is going to be the case. The king, as I said, made it very clear that this is a cultural war, that the region needs to make it clear that Islam, you know, has no place in it for such groups.

    GWEN IFILL: And, Rod Nordland, would you say that tonight Jordan is a nation in mourning?

    ROD NORDLAND: Yes, I think that’s safe to say.

    Schools are going to be closed tomorrow, probably businesses and government as well. And I think we will see a huge reaction here to what’s happened tonight.

    GWEN IFILL: Rod Nordland of The New York Times in Amman for us tonight, and Marwan Muasher, the former foreign minister for Jordan, thank you very much.

    MARWAN MUASHER: Thank you.

    The post Jordan finds ‘no compromise is possible’ with Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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  • 02/03/15--15:46: What’s in your supplement?
  • In this 2010 report, Paul Solman gets the inside story on herbal supplements.

    That ginkgo biloba you’ve been taking to improve your memory? Chances are it hasn’t helped. That’s because all you’ve ingested is some powdered radish, wheat and houseplants. Money well spent?

    For the first time, law enforcement is going after major retailers and drug store chains that are selling herbal supplements that aren’t all they’re advertised to be. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent cease-and-desist letters to Target, Wal-mart, GNC and Walgreens Tuesday asking them to explain how they verify the ingredients in popular herbal supplements, which are exempt from Food and Drug Administration approval.

    “Mislabeling, contamination and false advertising are illegal,” Schneiderman said in the letters, first reported by the New York Times. “They also pose unacceptable risks to New York families — especially those with allergies to hidden ingredients,” he continued.

    Americans spend an estimated $5 billion a year on unproven pills and powders. Research the New York Times first reported on in 2013 is credited with leading to the New York Attorney General’s investigation.

    Scientists have been using genetic testing to develop DNA bar codes for many different types of medicinal herbs. Testing 44 different supplements from popular brands in the U.S. and Canada against these genetic bar codes, researchers at the University of Guelph found that one-third contained no trace of the supplements advertised on the bottles.

    And many of the unlisted fillers mixed with or substituted for the advertised supplements have their own potential side effects. For example, gingko biloba supplements also contained black walnut, which could be deadly for people with nut allergies. Economics correspondent Paul Solman examined the same issue in 2010. Watch his report above to see how scientists isolate single genes to generate bar codes and find out what kind of herbal “hamburger helper” is floating in your tea.

    Editor’s Note: This story was first published in November 2013 and has been updated. The 2010 video mistakenly referred to the GATC building blocks of DNA as amino acids, when they are actually nucleotides.

    The post What’s in your supplement? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    BRUTAL TACTICS monitor islamic state

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: The brutal tactics of Islamic State radicals reached a grisly new extreme today. The group put out a video showing a captured Jordanian pilot being burned alive.

    In Washington, the visiting king of Jordan rearranged his schedule to meet with President Obama this evening, while, back home, his people absorbed the shock.

    The pilot’s father was attending a tribal meeting with other relatives in Jordan’s capital when the video surfaced. He checked his cell phone, hung his head, and left. Then, a government spokesman confirmed the news publicly.

    MOHAMMED AL-MOMANI, Jordanian Government Spokesman (through interpreter): We are deeply saddened. And we pay our deepest respects to Jordan’s martyr, Muath al-Kaseasbeh. We now all know in Jordan, beyond any doubt, how barbaric the Islamic State group is.

    GWEN IFILL: The 26-year-old lieutenant fell into Islamic State hands in December, after his plane crashed in Syria on a bombing mission.

    Last week, the militants threatened to kill him, unless Jordan released Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman convicted in a 2005 bombing plot. The Jordanians demanded proof the pilot was still alive, which they never got. State TV in Amman reported today that he was actually killed a month ago.

    The news came as King Abdullah was in Washington. And officials said he was cutting the visit short. Before he left, he sent a message home.

    KING ABDULLAH II, Jordan (through interpreter): In these difficult moment, it is the duty of all Jordanian citizens to stand united, to show the strength of this people in fighting this group. This will only give us more strength and resistance.

    GWEN IFILL: President Obama condemned the brutal killing and the Islamic State killers.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It’s just one more indication of the viciousness and barbarity of this organization. And it, I think, will redouble the vigilance and determination on the part of a global coalition to make sure that they are degraded and ultimately defeated.

    GWEN IFILL: The hostage drama has sparked protests against Jordan’s support for the coalition. But the Jordanian military vowed today to seek revenge.

    Part of that revenge may also include the execution of the woman the Islamic State wanted released. Citing unnamed officials, Reuters and AFP have reported that Sajida al-Rishawi will be executed before dawn on Wednesday.

    The post Jordan vows revenge for pilot’s brutal murder by Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Jin Lee/Bloomberg

    Photo by Jin Lee/Bloomberg

    WASHINGTON — Internet service providers, including those selling wireless connections, would be prohibited from slowing down or speeding up web traffic, under rules proposed Wednesday by a top U.S. regulator that would subject the broadband industry to unprecedented regulation.

    In an op-ed to Wired magazine posted online, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said his plan would regulate Internet service much like phone service or any other public utility by applying Title II of the 1934 Communications Act. Wheeler said he would not use the new regulations to tell broadband providers how much to charge customers or to impose tariffs. Industry has fought against this approach, contending that it would only be a matter of time before the rules grow more stringent and discourage investment.

    “My proposal assures the rights of Internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission,” Wheeler wrote.

    The FCC will vote Feb. 26 on his proposal.

    Net neutrality is the idea that Internet providers should not move some content faster than others or enter into paid agreements with companies such as Netflix to prioritize their data.

    Wheeler’s plan is an aggressive leap in Internet regulation in an industry that has so far seen very little government oversight. Consumer advocates have fought for more stringent rules was a way of keeping the Internet free and open, while critics said tying the hands of industry would curb innovation and investment.

    Wheeler’s plan aligns the former lobbyist with President Barack Obama, who has called on the FCC to apply Title II.

    Major cable companies that supply much of the nation’s broadband have said it’s likely they will sue in court, arguing that the FCC is overreaching in its authority.

    The post FCC wants to regulate Internet as public utility appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    High priest of the Asatru Association, Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson, leads a procession of fellow members of the Asatru Association, a contemporary Icelandic pagan society, at the Pingvellir National Park near Reykjavik June 21, 2012. Construction of the first major Norse Pagan temple since the Viking age will begin in Reykjavik in end of February 2015. Once the religion of the Vikings, Norse Paganism became a victim of the Christianization of Scandinavia around a millennium ago. But a modern version has seen a rise in popularity in recent years.The Asatru Association has seen its membership levels triple in the last decade and it had 2,400 members last year, data from Statistics Iceland showed. Picture taken June 21, 2012.     REUTERS/Silke Schurack    (ICELAND - Tags: SOCIETY RELIGION) - RTR4NX29

    The Asatru Association has seen its membership levels triple in the last decade. Photo by REUTERS/Silke Schurack.

    While they may not be going as far as animal sacrifice and Viking burials, members of a neo-pagan church in Iceland have resurrected some of the old ways in recent decades and now plan to build the nation’s first Norse temple in over a thousand years.

    Since its inception in 1972, the Asatru Association’s membership has tripled to nearly 2,400 out of Iceland’s 330,000 population.

    That makes it the second biggest religious organization in Iceland after Christianity, which has dominated since superseding the worship of gods like Odin and Thor some 1,000 years ago. But members of Asatru say most do not subscribe to a strict interpretation of Norse mythology.

    “I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” high priest Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson told Reuters. “We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”

    Construction will begin on the temple in March on a hillside overlooking the capital city of Reykjavik. According to the BBC, the land was donated by the Reykjavik City Council.

    The structure will take the form of a half-buried dome and will host various events for the membership, ranging from marriage to naming ceremonies for the membership. The roof will allow sunlight to enter, in keeping with the religion’s close association with nature.

    The post Modern day pagans plan to build Iceland’s first Norse temple in 1,000 years appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Kim Si-yoon (2nd R) and Yoo Ga-eul (R) take part in a singing lesson at DEF Dance Skool in Seoul November 15, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Kim Si-yoon, second from the right, and Yoo Ga-eul, right, take part in a singing lesson at DEF Dance Skool in Seoul Nov. 15, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Kim Si-yoon doesn’t keep the schedule of a typical 9-year-old.

    Up by 7:30 a.m. for school, followed by hours of voice training lessons, piano lessons, dance lessons and a private English tutor session, she is on a determined path to K-pop stardom.

    And in South Korea, Kim is not alone.

    DEF Dance Skool in Seoul, where Kim takes her dance classes, is just one of thousands of schools in the country that nurture the next generation of K-pop stars. In 2013, DEF had approximately 1,000 students, half of whom are trying to break into the top agencies.

    Kim Si-yoon (C) takes part in a dance class at DEF Dance Skool in Seoul November 11, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Kim Si-yoon, center, takes part in a dance class at DEF Dance Skool in Seoul Nov. 11, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    A recent survey of pre-teens in South Korea showed that 21 percent of kids wanted to be K-pop stars like Psy when they grow up — making it the most popular career choice. In college, pop music is one of the most coveted majors.

    Korean pop culture, often dubbed Hallyu (Korean word for “Korean Wave”) has been around since the late 1990s, born with popular TV dramas, reality shows and the music industry that constantly produces boy bands and girl groups who have been hits across much of South East Asia. In the past few years, reality shows looking for the next K-pop stars have been the craze, usually starring top judges from the “Big Three” talent management companies.

    Reuters photographer Kim Hong-Ji followed the aspiring wannabe 9-year-old, as well as a popular girl group named “Gfriend” as they prepare and perform a big show.

    Kim Si-yoon plays the piano during a lesson in Seoul November 20, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Kim Si-yoon plays the piano during a lesson in Seoul Nov. 20, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Left: Kim Si-yoon and Yoo Ga-eul, left, take a selfie at a restaurant in Seoul November 15, 2014. Right: Kim Si-yoon, center left, and Yoo Ga-eul look at a smart phone as they take a short break at DEF Dance Skool in Seoul Nov. 7, 2014. Photos by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Left: Kim Si-yoon and Yoo Ga-eul take a selfie at a restaurant in Seoul Nov. 15, 2014. Right: Kim Si-yoon and Yoo Ga-eul look at a smart phone as they take a short break at DEF Dance Skool in Seoul Nov. 7, 2014. Photos by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Kim Si-yoon attends a private English lesson in Seoul Nov. 20, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Kim Si-yoon attends a private English lesson in Seoul Nov. 20, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Kim Si-yoon plays a toy guitar at her house in Seoul November 20, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Kim Si-yoon plays a toy guitar at her house in Seoul Nov. 20, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Kim Si-yoon and her mother pray before dinner at their house in Seoul Dec. 16, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Kim Si-yoon and her mother pray before dinner at their house in Seoul Dec. 16, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Kim Si-yoon and Yoo Ga-eul, left, dance in front of their mothers as they play at a playground in Seoul November 15, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Kim Si-yoon, right, and Yoo Ga-eul dance in front of their mothers as they play at a playground in Seoul Nov. 15, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Yoo Ga-eul plays in a playground in Seoul November 15, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Yoo Ga-eul plays in a playground in Seoul Nov. 15, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Kim Si-yoon puts on her makeup as she arrives with her mother to take part in a dance class late at night at DEF Dance Skool in Seoul December 16, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Kim Si-yoon puts on her makeup as she arrives with her mother to take part in a dance class late at night at DEF Dance Skool in Seoul Dec. 16, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Members from South Korean girl group GFriend receive a makeover as SinB (R 2nd) and Yuju (R) look on at a beauty salon in Seoul December 23, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Members from South Korean girl group GFriend receive a makeover as SinB, second to right, and Yuju, right, look on at a beauty salon in Seoul Dec. 23, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Various cosmetics are laid out at a beauty salon in Seoul December 23, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Various cosmetics are laid out at a beauty salon in Seoul Dec. 23, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Members of South Korean girl group Gfriend rehearse in Seoul December 23, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Members of South Korean girl group GFriend rehearse in Seoul December 23, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Friend rehearse in Seoul Dec. 23, 2014. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Members of South Korean girl group GFriend perform during a dress rehearsal of The Show in Seoul January 20, 2015. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    GFriend perform during a dress rehearsal of The Show in Seoul Jan. 20, 2015. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Fans of South Korean girl group GFriend react as GFriend perform during "The Show" in Seoul January 20, 2015. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Fans of South Korean girl group GFriend react as they perform during “The Show” in Seoul Jan. 20, 2015. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Members of South Korean girl group GFriend perform during "The Show" in Seoul January 20, 2015. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    GFriend perform during “The Show” in Seoul Jan. 20, 2015. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Left: Members of South Korean girl group GFriend take a 'selfie' after their performance in "The Show" in Seoul January 20, 2015. Right: A member of South Korean girl group GFriend signs her autograph on their album in Seoul January 20, 2015. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Left: Members of GFriend take a selfie after their performance in “The Show” in Seoul January 20, 2015. Right: A member of the group signs autographs on their album in Seoul Jan. 20, 2015. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Members of South Korean girl group GFriend leave a studio after "The Show" in Seoul January 20, 2015. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    The group leaves the studio after the taping of “The Show” in Seoul Jan. 20, 2015. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    The post Photos: South Korean teens dream of becoming the next K-pop star appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    These smartphone dongles can run blood tests for HIV and syphilis in 15 minutes, right in your doctor's office. Photo by Samiksha Nayak

    These smartphone dongles can run blood tests for HIV and syphilis in 15 minutes, right in your doctor’s office. Photo by Samiksha Nayak


    A new smartphone attachment could provide almost immediate, in-the-field test results for HIV and syphilis. The palm-sized device, tested recently on expectant mothers in Rwanda, could diagnose these diseases in 15 minutes, according to a study published this week in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

    “This is one of a series of reports that is taking us forward to a new era of having a lab in your pocket,” said Eric Topol, author of “The Patient Will See You Now” and editor of Medscape.

    In the same way that giant computers shrank to fingernail-size chips, engineers have been shrinking laboratory tests, said Samuel Sia, professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University and one of the study authors. It’s called microfluidics, and it has some big advantages over current lab tests.

    “Reactions can happen faster at a smaller scale. With a bigger volume scale, you have to wait for molecules to move around,” Sia explained. But with less fluid and few places for the liquids to go, “it’s smaller, it’s portable and it’s actually faster. You limit hardware power consumption, so it runs straight off the power in your phone itself.”

    Sia and his team modeled the technology in part on the ELISA test, which stands for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, a relatively simple and common blood test for diseases like HIV. ELISA tests look for different biomarkers in the blood; in this case, it’s looking for an antibody that’s produced when a person is infected with HIV. During the test, the blood sample runs through an enzyme and substrate. The enzyme will stick to the antibody for the disease you’re looking for, and the substrate will change the color of the sample to indicate a positive or negative result.
    science-wednesday
    It’s an accurate test, Sia said. And while there are HIV tests that promise results in half an hour, health care providers recommend getting an ELISA test to verify the diagnosis.

    But it can take hours to run. Labs never run one sample at a time, so when a nurse draws your blood for a sample, it’s put in a queue. Take into consideration transporting samples between a lab and a clinic, and it could take days, even weeks, to get results, Sia said.

    An ELISA test can also be expensive. The equipment costs about $18,400, Sia said — and that doesn’t include the computer.

    Enter this new “plug and play” system for a smartphone or tablet. Rather than draw a full teaspoon of blood, a health-care worker pricks the patient’s finger and eases a few drops of blood into a plastic cartridge. The cartridge snaps onto a microfluidic chip, which contains all the testing materials. Rather than use an enzyme and a substrate, the chip has gold and silver
    nanoparticles to identify the antibodies. The chip is inserted into the device, or “dongle”, connected to a smartphone via the audio jack. The phone powers the device, and a program prompts the health-care worker to enter the patient’s ID number.

    The health-care worker then pushes down on a black bulb, which sends the blood into the device. Fifteen minutes later, results for an HIV test and a syphilis test pop up on the screen.

    This step-by-step illustration shows how a smartphone attachment can be used to run blood tests for HIV and syphilis. Image by Tassaneewan Laksanasopin

    This step-by-step illustration shows how a smartphone attachment can be used to run blood tests for HIV and syphilis. Image by Tassaneewan Laksanasopin

    It’s user-friendly for workers, and for the patients, it’s less painful than a blood draw, and more convenient. And at $34 to make, it’s also cheap, Sia said.

    Getting a rapid HIV and syphilis test has been a key priority in developing countries, said Dr. Massimo Ghidinelli head of the HIV unit for the Pan American Health Organization. There are HIV tests that can deliver results in half an hour, he said, but that all depends on where you are, the test you need and the clinic’s lab resources.

    For expectant mothers, getting a rapid result is crucial to reducing mother-to-child transmission stopping the disease from spreading to their babies, he added. Some women in developing countries can get antenatal care early, but many don’t see a doctor until they go into labor, Ghidinielli said. Having a rapid, inexpensive test could drastically lower transmission rates, even in an emergency.

    “If you can diagnose the disease effectively and accurately, you can consider treatment options immediately,” Ghidinelli said. “But it’s always a race against time.”

    There are some downsides, Topol said. Among them, accuracy and privacy are concerns. And any new device needs testing to prevent misdiagnosis.

    But its possibilities, he added, extend beyond HIV diagnosis. Researchers have been developing smartphone attachments that diagnose diseases from malaria to cancer. And diagnosing diseases like dengue fever, malaria and tuberculosis at the point of care could prevent horrible outbreaks, he said.

    In the developed world, this technology could also be adapted to monitor chronic diseases like diabetes, Sia said. It won’t replace a hospital lab or a doctor, but it could give patients more control over their health.

    “There are a variety of biomarkers in your body that can give you an indication of your health condition. By monitoring their trends over time, you can catch the disease before it happens,” he said. “Instead of having to go to a hospital to get tested, you can stay at home and monitor yourself.”

    The post Smartphone accessory delivers HIV results in 15 minutes appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    In an exclusive interview with Gwen Ifill on the PBS NewsHour, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said his new proposal would stop companies from blocking content or creating fast lanes on the Internet through paid priority. While “we don’t know what the Internet will look like in five years,” Wheeler told Gwen on Wednesday, his new proposal for the FCC would essentially create “a yardstick to measure what’s fair for consumers.”

    Wheeler also defended the plan against criticism from large Internet service providers. He said that he’s ready to work with Republicans in Congress who have pledged to fight the proposal. And he insisted his latest proposal was not a change of heart since he’s “always been a proponent of an open internet.”

    Watch the full report on tonight’s PBS NewsHour.

    The post FCC Chairman says open Internet plan guarantees protection for consumers as web changes appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    With new business models for selling music, like streaming service Spotify, are the days of traditional album sales coming to an end? Photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    With new business models for selling music, like streaming service Spotify, are the days of traditional album sales coming to an end? Photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    Enter the age of streaming music. In 2014 alone, Americans streamed 164 million songs through a variety of streaming services including Spotify, Pandora and Google Play Music. In the past few months, questions have been raised about how much artists are being paid from these services and whether it’s a fair amount for their music. The issue came to the forefront in November when Taylor Swift, one the music industry’s largest stars, pulled her entire catalog from Spotify. A few other artists have pulled their music and some have never allowed their music on streaming services.

    The fallout over how much artists and songwriters are being paid by streaming services comes while physical album sales and permanent digital sales are falling at rapid rates. So while the amount artists are making from streaming is less than a traditional amount, streaming services will argue it’s a solution to not being paid at all. With the introduction of Napster fifteen years ago, consumers began to share music mp3s with one another and before long you could find almost any song you wanted in a free, digital form.

    Paying for a single listen of a song that the consumer does not own is a new business model, so how do you quantify that? Ken Parks, Chief Content Officer at Spotify, says it’s not just about paying per listen of a song. It’s about what exposing a consumer to the music is worth and the value of getting them to pay for music again.

    “So we are compensating artists every single time a song gets played. How much is a listen worth in the world? Well it’s worth a lot if you can get someone to start spending a hundred dollars a year on music when they weren’t spending anything before,” Parks told the NewsHour. “So it’s not so much a question of how much are you making per listen. Nobody really knows how much a listen is worth. What we do know is historically people did not buy much music and if we can get millions of them to start spending $120 a year then this music business can be bigger than it ever was.”

    About 25 percent of all Spotify users currently pay for the subscription. But how does $120 a year from a subscriber who is streaming music compare to album sales for an artist?

    streams-graph2

    In 2013 it took 2,000 streams to equal an album sale. This is far less than artists used to make from an album, but with the sale of physical CDs and even permanent digital downloads plummeting, streaming services are actually the only part of the music industry seeing revenue growth. From 2013 to 2014 streaming services have grown by 54 percent.

    streams-byyear

    In responding to criticism that streaming services have not been transparent about how or how much artists and songwriters are being paid, Spotify released their royalty payouts for July 2013 as well as a breakdown of how they calculate payouts. They didn’t name the albums, but instead titled the albums by genre and size.

    Chart from Spotify

    Chart from Spotify

    A “global hit album” made $425,000 from Spotify in the first month it was released. In that same month it probably sold hundreds of thousands of digital and physical copies which would have made millions of dollars. It’s easy to look at those numbers and think streaming holds very little benefit for artists. Wouldn’t the fans who streamed a global hit album have bought a copy instead if streaming had not been an option? The alternative to streaming isn’t necessarily purchasing, it could be piracy.

    “You ask any 15-year-old just about on the globe, and they’ll tell you that they know how to get music for free. That hasn’t changed,” said Parks. “What also hasn’t changed is that people love music, it’s something that’s fundamental to our species. So it hasn’t been a hard sell to convince millions of people in this market either that they should start paying for music and that Spotify is a really cool experience.”

    Also, selling an album is a finite sale — that’s $8 to $12 and that’s all that consumer will spend on the album. Streaming will go on and if your music remains popular, it will continue to make money. Currently, individual tracks from a global hit album released in 2013 have more than 100 million streams, so Spotify has presumably paid out millions for that album.

    Watch more on tonight’s PBS NewsHour. Hari Sreenivasan takes a look at the emerging business model of streaming music as a part of a new series, “Music on Demand.”

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s often said it takes a village to raise a child, but in remote rural parts of the country, that may be easier said than done.

    We have the second report from special correspondent for education John Tulenko of Learning Matters, who has been looking at the challenges in one West Virginia community.

    JOHN TULENKO: Home for Jamie Mathis is in the steep hills of rural West Virginia.

    JAMIE MATHIS: Hi, Sam. It’s about time to get your shoes on and your shirt.

    JOHN TULENKO: Ms. Mathis, a grandmother, is raising both her grandsons here.

    JAMIE MATHIS: This wasn’t what I had in mind for me when I was this age, not raising grandchildren.

    But you’re getting it on your shirt, son. Look.

    I have had Devon, who is 11, since he was 2 weeks old, off and on.

    I told you.

    Sam, I have had him since he was born, off and on.

    JOHN TULENKO: This situation, grandparents raising grandchildren, is not unusual where they live. In McDowell County, West Virginia, schools estimate up to 45 percent of children are living apart from their mothers and fathers.

    JAMIE MATHIS: I will be there after school.

    JOHN TULENKO: Families are splintering, as the community itself unravels. McDowell County is the poorest in West Virginia, the result of a decades-long decline.

    This is coal country, with mines that once employed some 20,000 workers and a prosperous county seat they called Little New York. All that’s gone. Unemployment rates here are among the highest in the state, and McDowell County ranks first in poor health, child poverty, and drug overdose. And that, more than anything else, is what accounts for so many children living apart from their parents.

    What happened?

    JAMIE MATHIS: Drugs and alcohol, confusion, parents not wanting to be parents. I just wanted the boys because I wanted to know that they were safe.

    FLORISHA MCGUIRE, Principal, Southside K-8 School: If a child is exposed to a great deal of dysfunction, that manifests itself in behavioral problems, sometimes academic problems, that sort of thing.

    JOHN TULENKO: For principals like Flo McGuire, there’s no ignoring the family upheaval that affects many of her students.

    FLORISHA MCGUIRE: That’s a big issue. Kids are carrying a lot of weight today, and we want to focus on the academics, but, at the same time, you have to focus on the whole child and you have to focus on the family.

    MAN: I know that there’s grants that we’re pursuing.

    JOHN TULENKO: Efforts to support families are under way, the result of an initiative called Reconnecting McDowell. It’s bringing state agencies, private companies, the teachers unions and other, groups that once worked alone, together in a new partnership.

    BOB BROWN, American Federation of Teachers: We see ourselves as conveners. We need to bring services that families in crisis need inside the schools. We want to turn the schools into the center of the community

    JOHN TULENKO: Bob Brown of the American Federation of Teachers is leading the partnership, which plans to provide school-based medical, dental, and mental health services for children and their parents.

    BOB BROWN: It’s not just what happens in the school. I can tell you, if you add up the hours that a child spends in school between kindergarten and 12th grade, it’s about 9 percent of their life. We need to be concerned about the other 91 percent of their life. What’s going in the other 91 percent? And that’s what this is about.

    JOHN TULENKO: The Reconnecting McDowell partnership includes the schools, which are helping out with a support group for grandparents raising grandchildren.

    AMANDA FRAGILE, Title I Director, McDowell County Schools: You probably feel lots of feelings, that you just kind of feel like some days…

    JOHN TULENKO: Jamie Mathis is a regular at the sessions.

    JAMIE MATHIS: I have somebody that I can go to if I have questions and are willing to be there for a listening ear.

    AMANDA FRAGILE: It’s not your fault. You didn’t raise your children to be addicts or irresponsible parents.

    JOHN TULENKO: For Amanda Fragile, the school administrator who runs the group, one of the goals is to help grandparents come to terms with their feelings, especially feelings of guilt.

    AMANDA FRAGILE: It’s completely a myth that some of our grandparents have that they did something wrong with their children.

    We all have 20/20 hindsight. We all could have done some things differently.

    Then they get through some resentment, because they planned for retirement.

    Frustrated would be a word, I would imagine.

    And they go through some loneliness because they feel they’re all alone. And until they get in a group like this, they don’t realize there’s tons of other folks in their area that are going through the same thing.

    JOHN TULENKO: But most of those grandparents aren’t coming. There were just four on the day of our visit, though they say attendance is normally around 20.

    There are hundreds of grandparents raising children in this area.

    BOB BROWN: Yes. There is a stigma associated with coming out, if you will, that you are raising your grandchildren because your children won’t raise them. We just need to get people to feel comfortable coming.

    JOHN TULENKO: But just getting to the meetings can be hard. The county roads are another problem.

    CINDY ROSE, Save the Children: There’s nothing like these mountains. It’s a very isolated area, and, like I said, we don’t have a lot of resources here.

    JOHN TULENKO: So, Cindy Rose makes visits to grandparents and also younger parents. She’s what’s called a home visitor for Save the Children, a nonprofit that’s another partner in Reconnecting McDowell.

    CINDY ROSE: My personal feeling is that if education — if you can do this early education, that is the key to getting the poverty.

    This is it.

    JOHN TULENKO: Ms. Rose makes home visits to about 20 children a week. Her first stop of the day was to a home literally perched on top of a mountain.

    CINDY ROSE: Uh-oh. He wants to read it himself.

    JOHN TULENKO: Checking in on 2-year-old Jackson and his mother, Estella Crabtree.

    ESTELLA CRABTREE: I love being a mother, but in McDowell County, being a mother is a lot different than being a mother somewhere else. It’s very remote. So it’s not like we can take our children to the library and just let them have a heyday.

    JOHN TULENKO: Cindy brings books?

    ESTELLA CRABTREE: Cindy brings books. Cindy brings lots of books. Cindy brings activities for me.

    CINDY ROSE: Look at that nose.

    ESTELLA CRABTREE: And, you know, he’s with me all day, so he’s ready, willing, and waiting, you know, for Cindy to come through that door because that’s somebody different.

    CINDY ROSE: How did it go?

    JOHN TULENKO: Before she’s done, Ms. Rose will talk about the baby’s health and offer to help arrange doctor’s appointments.

    Then it’s back to McDowell County’s twisty roads to visit some of her harder cases.

    CINDY ROSE: Well, I have a great-grandmother that’s raising a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old. And she doesn’t read. She doesn’t drive. That’s — that’s really my worst, my hardest right there.

    JOHN TULENKO: For that great-grandmother, how much can you really do?

    CINDY ROSE: A lot. I can give her a lot of ideas to work with the children, show them the pictures, the colors. She can look at the pictures and her and the child make up the story as they go from the pictures. She doesn’t have to sit and read out of a book.

    JOHN TULENKO: Ms. Rose and two other home visitors see about 60 families a week, but just like the grandparents group, there are hundreds more spread out across this remote corner of the state that she and others in the Reconnecting McDowell partnership are not likely to reach.

    BOB BROWN: There’s no question. This job is much more difficult than I thought when we originally started.

    But we take our successes in small doses. We’re not going to turn this around in five years, and maybe not 10 years. But we’re going to chip away at those issues. We’re going to chip away.

    JOHN TULENKO: In McDowell County, West Virginia, I’m John Tulenko, reporting for the NewsHour.

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    JEFFREY BROWN: And I’m joined by Simon Romero. He has been covering the story for The New York Times in Buenos Aires.

    So this 1994 bombing has been contentious in Argentina for some time, right?  Fill us in a little bit on what’s known and the prevailing theories about who did it.

    SIMON ROMERO, The New York Times: It certainty has, Jeffrey.

    It’s been a huge story in Argentina for more than two decades now. This Jewish center was attacked and blown up in 1994; 85 people were killed. More than 200 people were injured. There were various theories which flourished almost immediately as to who was responsible.

    And the theory that Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor, was most focused on, the lead he was most focused on was the Iranian connection, and he had formerly accused Hezbollah, a cell of Hezbollah here in South America, of carrying out of the attack and of Iranians officials of orchestrating and financing it.

    But there were also competing theories here in Argentina that continue to have strength and persist to should day that there may have been a Syrian connection or there may have been local corrupt police officials involved in the bombing. And whatever the case, there were botched investigations to begin with.

    There was a judge back in the ’90s who actually bribed one of the key witnesses $400,000 in cash to implicate others in the attack falsely, and all of those people were acquitted. And that was the case that Alberto Nisman inherited back in 1994, when he began investigating the AMIA bombing.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so the explosive charges against the president, she, of course, has denied them. What do we know about how much evidence he really has?

    SIMON ROMERO: Well, the evidence as laid out in his criminal complaint — this is a document that is 289 pages long — is mostly based on interprets of telephone calls and text messages that were, in all likelihood, obtained by Argentina’s main intelligence agency.

    So he worked very closely with agents from that service, and he got tons and tons of information, all of these calls he compiled of close collaborators and supporters of the president here in Argentina. And he weaved together this theory, this argument in his complaint that there was a secret deal that was — that they attempted to reach with the Iranians to shield Iranian officials implicated in the attack from responsibility for the bombing, in exchange for certain economic benefits that Argentina would obtain.

    Of course, these — this claim by Mr. Nisman in and his complaint has been roundly rejected here in Argentina with strong evidence from parties like Interpol, which has come forward to say that Argentine officials never went to Interpol to try to lift the arrest warrants on these Iranian officials.

    So it’s a very, very contentious matter. A couple of judges actually refused to even take the case. And finally today, a judge here in Argentina was forced to do so.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And real briefly, the threat to the president and her government?

    SIMON ROMERO: President Kirchner and her top officials, her top aides have gone on the offensive day in, day out, since Mr. Nisman turned up dead at his apartment.

    They have been attacking their critics in the media here, and they have also announced an overhaul of the country’s main intelligence agency. The president has implied that rogue agents from that agency were somehow involved in the events around Mr. Nisman’s death.

    So, clearly, the government here does feel vulnerable. It’s an extremely sensitive issue. This is an unsolved attack which has sort of been viewed as a stain on Argentina’s institutions, a stain on Argentine democracy since it took place. So it’s certainly making the government feel quite vulnerable.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Simon Romero of The New York Times, thank you so much.

    SIMON ROMERO: Thank you, Jeffrey.

     

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    GWEN IFILL: We turn now to Argentina, where a decades-old unsolved terrorist attack, a prosecutor’s mysterious death, and allegations of a cover-up at the highest levels have gripped the nation.

    Here’s Jeffrey Brown.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s a mystery that goes back to 1994, when a bomb ripped through a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires and killed 85 people.

    For the last decade, prosecutor Alberto Nisman tried to prove Iran was behind the bombing, a charge the Tehran government repeatedly denied.

    Then, last month, the case took a dramatic new turn. Nisman accused Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, of covering up Iran’s involvement.

    ALBERTO NISMAN, Prosecutor (through interpreter): The objectives of the Argentine government were, on the one hand, to strengthen geopolitical relations with Iran and, on the other hand, to reestablishment diplomatic relations, and, in the face of a severe energy crisis faced by Argentina, to by oil from Iran.

    JEFFREY BROWN: President Kirchner dismissed the allegations, which Nisman was set to detail in front of congress days later. But on the eve of his testimony, Nisman was found dead of a gunshot wound in his apartment.

    Police first ruled that he killed himself. Nisman’s supporters demanded answers. It has since been ruled a — quote — “suspicious death,” and President Kirchner herself has voiced doubts that it was a suicide.

    This week, the drama continued to unfold. On Sunday, an Argentinean newspaper reported that a draft document requesting the arrest of Kirchner and her foreign minister was found in a trash bin at Nisman’s apartment. The lead prosecutor in the case, Viviana Fein, at first denied it. And a cabinet minister dramatically ripped up the article.

    JORGE CAPITANICH, Cabinet Chief, Argentina (through interpreter): The truth is that they have been trying to establish a scenario with false information ever since the charge was first made. We categorically repeat, we have revealed the lies and will continue to do so, because the truth always triumphs.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But the newspaper published a copy of the arrest document, and Fein backtracked. She now acknowledges it does exist, but says it’s not important enough to change the investigation.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: One recent spike in broadband usage is music. When you want to listen to a song today, you don’t have to buy a copy or even download it anymore. Increasingly, you stream it. And that has led to a profound shift in the industry that is disrupting how music is made, distributed, consumed, and how artists can make a living.

    Hari Sreenivasan takes a look at the new emerging model. It’s a topic we will be coming back to again and again in a series we’re calling Music on Demand.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Music has been part of Rosanne Cash’s entire life, from the career of her father, Johnny Cash, to her own. She has 11 number one country singled and a new album with three Grammy nominations.

    For most of her career, Cash has made a good living from traditional album sales and live concerts, but, today, it’s a very different world for Cash and other artists. It’s a world where listeners stream music over the Internet at their computers, through their phones, in their cars, all instead of owning it.

    ROSANNE CASH: It’s changed how we artists and musicians make a living. And, in 1999, the music industry was a $14 billion industry. Today, it’s half that. It’s valued at half that.

    There’s a feeling now, a concept that music should be free, that it’s like oxygen, everyone should have access to it. Everyone should have access, but should it be free?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: That’s the question artists are grappling with as they place their catalogue on streaming services, such as Spotify, Google Play, and YouTube, as well as radio-like services Pandora and Rdio, Songza and others.

    These services offer a free version or premium accounts without ads for about $10 a month. What many consumers may not know is that every time an artist’s song is streamed, just a tiny fraction of a cent is paid out to the record company, and then divided between the songwriters, publishers, and performers.

    So how much does that translate to? If your work is played a few hundred thousand times, what’s the check that you get in the mail?

    ROSANNE CASH: OK. For an 18-month period, I had 600,000 streams, and I was paid $104.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: One hundred and four dollars…

    ROSANNE CASH: Yes.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: … for 600,000 streams?

    ROSANNE CASH: Yes.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Aloe Blacc co-wrote the 2013 hit song “Wake Me Up.”  It quickly became one of the most streamed songs in Pandora’s history, but in an article for “Wired” magazine, Blacc wrote — quote — “It takes roughly one million spins on Pandora for a songwriter to earn just $90. In return for co-writing a major hit song, I have earned less than $4,000 domestically from the largest digital music service.”

    The issue came to a head in November, when pop star Taylor Swift, the industry’s biggest moneymaker, pulled her entire catalog from Spotify, shortly after the release of her platinum album “1989.”  While superstars like Taylor Swift can still sell albums, the battle over the role of streaming comes at a brutally painful moment for the industry.

    Last year, album sales fell 9 percent. Individual track downloads on iTunes, Google, and Amazon also fell by 12 percent. Streaming is the only part of the music industry seeing revenue growth. In 2014, it grew by 54 percent, and it now accounts for 27 percent of the entire industry’s revenue.

    Spotify is one of these streaming services seeing exponential growth. Unlike Internet radio services, it allows users to stream any song on their service at any time. It currently has 60 million users.

    I met Ken Parks, the chief content manager and managing director of Spotify for the U.S., at their New York offices. I asked him what his pitch was to record companies, how he got them to put their artists’ work into the service.

    KEN PARKS, Chief Content Officer, Spotify: And we said, look, this is a generation that you have lost. What needs to be done in order to rebuild this industry and restore it to its former glory and to make it even bigger is to reengage this lost generation.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Just a few avenues away is Elias Roman, the co-founder of the streaming app Songza, which Google bought last July. He is now a content manager at Google Play Music, that company’s streaming service.

    ELIAS ROMAN, Co-Founder, Songza: There’s an NPD study that found a digital music buyer will spend about $55 a year on music. It’s not a bad number. A subscriber to Google Play Music, they’re going to pay $120 a year. So, question, if we can get people through the funnel to be a subscriber to a great music service, they’re a really high-value customer, a really high-value customer.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: From the paying customer, Spotify and Google pay about 70 percent of that $120 a year to record labels. They also point to a new generation of artists, like the Norwegian pop duo Nico & Vinz.

    Their summer hit “Am I Wrong’ was at the top of the Billboard charts for weeks and has more than 200 million streams on the Spotify service alone.

    KAHOULY NICOLAY SEREBA, Nico & Vinz: Streaming to me is — you know, to an artist right now, it’s a blessing, because you’re able to reach so many people with just you putting a song out on the Internet and it can go from there. “Am I Wrong” is one of those songs that just flew by itself. It just went on by itself. People started sharing it, and that’s because of streaming.

    VINCENT DERY, Nico & Vinz: I think it’s a perfect way for new artists, too, to get their music out.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: While Nico and Vinz have seen success through streaming, some artists say streaming services could be the new snake oil salesman.

    LARRY KIRWAN, Black 47: It used to be it was the fat guys in suits and the pinkie rings blowing cigar smoke at you up on 57th Street. But those guys were invested, in a way, because they wanted a piece of your action. They wanted a piece of your intellectual property.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Larry Kirwan the lead singer for Black 47, an Irish rock band that played live shows throughout New York City for 25 years, until calling it quits this past November.

    LARRY KIRWAN: The new streaming services, they — they don’t care about your intellectual property. They just want to give it away. They want to make money out of giving a service that they will make money out of. And it doesn’t work for the musician. For the — for the regular musician, it’s not working.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So these are — this is sort of your, what, wall of fame?

    Daniel Glass is the founder of Glassnote Records, an indie record label that represents Grammy Award winners Mumford & Sons and Phoenix, among others. He says streaming is now crucial for fans to discover his artists.

    DANIEL GLASS, Glassnote Records: So, we have a new artist, for example, who released a record a few weeks ago named Robert DeLong, put a song out called “Long Way Down.”  As soon as Spotify put it on their big playlist, their worldwide — the amount of streams quadrupled. We have been up 214 percent three weeks in a row in streams because it’s been highlighted, it’s been curated, then playlisted.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And the more his artists’ songs are streamed, the more ticket they say buy to concerts, which Glass says is exactly what happened with Robert DeLong.

    DANIEL GLASS: His live sales, the tickets went on sale, as soon as streaming services got involved and radio got involved, tickets sold — tickets to every show sold out.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Ken Parks of Spotify says that streaming can reinvigorate sales for established artists as well.

    KEN PARKS: You take older artists as well with amazing catalogues — Pink Floyd would be a good example — they’re using this platform to reconnect with generations that maybe never heard of them and haven’t experienced the magic of those catalogues.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But the digital folks will say, listen, now if you’re in a garage with your laptop, you could make a track that a million people see, and that will get you the support and the audience that will support you and buy your tickets and go to your shows.

    ROSANNE CASH: OK, that’s the exposure argument, which I have heard a million times. I just don’t buy it. What about artists who don’t need exposure? I found my audience. I’m not going to be Madonna. Don’t want to be, you know, but I still want my music to get out there and have people purchase it, so that I can continue making it.

    Streaming is here to stay. We’re not Luddites. We don’t want to turn back the clock.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In fact, the industry will clearly continue to wrestle with fundamental questions about its business model in the digital aid. Last year, Americans streamed 164 million songs, and streaming services say the number paying for that music will only go up.

    Hari Sreenivasan, in New York City, for the PBS NewsHour.

    The post Can the music industry survive the streaming revolution? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GWEN IFILL: The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission cheered consumer advocates and angered the cable industry today with a long-awaited announcement imposing new rules on the Internet service providers. If adopted, the proposal, known as net neutrality, would be designed to make sure Internet traffic is treated equally. The full commission votes later this month.

    It would forbid companies from blocking access to legal broadband content, ban practices that slow Internet streaming, and prohibit companies from paying cable providers to speed delivery. More than four million commenters have weighed in on this debate at the FCC during the past year, sometimes crashing servers.

    Last month, President Obama endorsed this approach as well.

    Joining me now to discuss the decision is FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

    Welcome, and thank you.

    TOM WHEELER, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission: Thank you, Gwen.

    GWEN IFILL: Do you see your proposal as a way of constraining commercial interests or expanding consumer interests?

    TOM WHEELER: I think it is a balance of both, and that’s been the challenge through it all.

    You want to make sure that you have got protections in place, so that consumers know that, when they go to the Internet, it’s going to be fast, it’s going to be fair, and it’s going to be open.

    And, at the same point in time, you want to do it in a way that’s not going to constrain investment, because, obviously, we want people, companies, to be building faster and more ubiquitous broadband networks. So, it’s been a balance of both of those.

    GWEN IFILL: And we’re going to talk a little bit about constraining investment, because that’s what some of your critics say this would do.

    But, first, I want to talk about how this whole debate has changed for you. A year ago, I don’t necessarily think you were — had signed on to the idea of treating the Internet as a public utility, but now, in the face of the growth of wireless access to broadband, do you see it differently?

    TOM WHEELER: Well, I think there are a couple of points there, Gwen.

    One is, I have always been a proponent of an open Internet, going back to my days as an entrepreneur, when I felt the sting of closed networks, shall we say. And, secondly, just one correction. We’re really not doing utility regulation here. Utility regulation was developed for a monopoly model.

    What we’re doing is, we’re taking the legal construct that once was used for phone companies and paring It back to modernize it, so it specifically deals with this issue. So it’s not really utility regulation, but it is regulation to make sure that there is somebody watching out for the consumer, that, like you said, there’s no pay prioritization, there’s no blocking, there’s no throttling.

    And, most important, there will be ongoing rules in perpetuity, so that there will be a yardstick to measure what’s fair for consumers, because we don’t know what the Internet’s going to be five years from now, and we don’t know what the various tricks are going to be five years from now. But we’re going to have a referee on the field.

    GWEN IFILL: OK. Let’s talk about what some of your critics have had to say, starting with the National Cable Telecommunications Association, which put out this statement today.

    They said: “Despite the repeated assurances from the president and Chairman Wheeler, we remain concerned that this proposal will confer sweeping discretion to regulate rates and set the economic terms and conditions of business relationships,” just the opposite of what you just promised.

    TOM WHEELER: That is the opposite. You’re right.

    And I think that when they actually see the proposal after it’s enacted by the commission, they will see that there is no rate regulation. They will see that there is no tariffing. They will see that there’s no unbundling, all the classic utility kinds of activities.

    And what there is, is in place a set of safeguards for consumers that at the same time allow those cable companies to make a fair return so they’re incented to expand their networks.

    GWEN IFILL: The chairman of the Senate and the House Judiciary committees, both of them Republicans, John Thune in the Senate and Bob Goodlatte in the House, one said, Mr. Goodlatte, that this would squelch investment, and innovation, by inference. And John Thune said it’s a power grab.

    TOM WHEELER: Well, I — you know, I respect their opinions, but I disagree.

    I mean, first of all, this is modeled after — it’s interesting. I came out of the wireless industry, and the wireless industry has had rules like this for some time, since 1993. And it has been terrifically successful in raising $300 million in capital and building a vibrant, competitive business.

    That’s the kind of model that the Internet is going to be able to have, rules that are in place that say, here’s what we expect and provide certainty and encourage investment.

    The Congress, you know, has — the Congress makes our rules. I look forward to working with the Congress on these issues. I have talked to all the leadership of Congress in telecommunications in the last 24 hours. And I said, you know, I think these rules, by us putting out these rules, it creates some certainty in terms of just what the debate is about, rather than these ethereal kind of concepts that have been kicking around.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, part of the certainty — or maybe it’s the uncertainty, depending how you look at it — is that this is actually opening a Pandora’s box, that there’s no way to future-proof what you’re doing from extending the hand of government even more into over-regulation.

    TOM WHEELER: No, I think it’s clear, Gwen, that what we have done, Gwen, is to cut down the number of things that used to be in the old-style regulation, and to only have those that truly can be effective here.

    Do you want practices to be just and reasonable? Do you want there to be a consumer process? Do you want there to be privacy? Do you want disabled to have rights? Those kinds of things, those aren’t far-reaching utility over-regulatory kind of concepts.

    GWEN IFILL: A lot of people have a say in whether any of this actually happens, the courts. And there’s likely to be legal challenges to this. There is Congress. As we have discussed, there’s already a little bit of pushback.

    And the possibility of a future president who doesn’t agree with you. How do you future-proof for the politics of it?

    TOM WHEELER: Well, it’s interesting that, you know, these rules that I was talking about that have governed the wireless industry for the last 21 years, they have been in place as a result of a series of decisions made by the FCC that have been untouched for 21 years.

    I think what’s important is to establish the precedent, to vanquish some of the imaginary horribles that everybody throws out could possibly happen, to build a track record, and to let it speak for itself. But I think that what we have done is to establish a path forward to a fast, fair, and open Internet that allows for a reasonable return for those who are building it.

    GWEN IFILL: Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, thank you very much.

    TOM WHEELER: Thank you, Gwen.

    The post FCC proposes treating all Internet traffic equally appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    strikingback

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We return now to the coalition fight against the Islamic State group.

    To help us take stock of that effort’s strengths and weaknesses, we are joined once again by retired Colonel Derek Harvey. He’s a former special adviser to the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and now he’s director for the Global Initiative on Civil Society and Conflict at the University of South Florida. And Janine Davidson, she’s a former Air Force pilot and deputy assistant secretary of defense for plans during the first term of the Obama administration. She’s now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

    And we welcome both of you back to the program.

    Janine Davidson, up until now, how effective has this coalition been against the Islamic State?

    JANINE DAVIDSON, Council on Foreign Relations: Well, I think it depends how you define being effective and it depends — depends on how you define progress in this entire thing.

    I think there’s no doubt that this is an unprecedented coalition, to be able to pull together the types of countries across this region to focus — I mean, on the very first night of airstrikes to have that many countries participating, I think that that’s kind of amazing. That’s on a military perspective.

    But, at the end of the day, this isn’t going to be a fully military solution. That said, I think there is no doubt that we have sort of pushed back the advance of ISIS. You don’t see them with the lightning speed they were taking over territory last year. They have stopped.

    And I think what they have done is, they have taken control of places like Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, and that’s the greater military challenge.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Colonel Harvey, how do you size up the progress or not that this coalition has made so far?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY (RET.), Former Army Intelligence Officer: I think we have made limited and halting progress.

    Most of the progress has been by the Shia militias supported by the Iranian Quds Force and the Kurdish Peshmerga. They have halted the progress of ISIS and pushed them back in some other areas, but ISIS still has the initiative in quite a number of areas in Iraq.

    And, most importantly, they have had significant gains in Syria over the last four months. Politically, things aren’t going well for the Sunni Arab community in Iraq, despite the new prime minister, Abadi. There’s been very little support for Sunni Arab awakening movements there.

    So it’s really questionable at this point in time as to making a judgment about real progress. I think we have stabilized, and that’s about it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, given all that, Janine Davidson, how much difference do you think the death and the way this — the death of this Jordanian pilot was carried out will make?

    JANINE DAVIDSON: Well, I think it’s an absolutely horrific turn of events.

    I think it has, if anything, become sort of a wakeup call to people across the region. I mean, there are plenty of people who are sort of on the fence, maybe sympathetic to ISIS kind of being bold against the West. But now, you know, they have done this completely horrific, unacceptable thing to a Muslim pilot from Jordan.

    And I think, you know, for countries or leaders in the region that were having, you know, trouble getting their populations to understand, you know, how grave this threat is and how, you know, how — how horrific, again, this particular group is, I think this will sort of stiffen their spine a little bit, at least in the short to medium term.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Derek — Colonel Harvey, we heard King Abdullah of Jordan say, we are going to engage in a relentless fight now against the Islamic State.

    So do you see it making a difference in Jordan? Do you see it making a difference in other countries that are supposed to be part of this coalition?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Well, I think it’s clearly going to energize Jordan for the short time. But they have got limited capabilities. They have got good special operations forces, a good, but small air force. They need a change in U.S. strategy and U.S. enablers to really make a difference as far as their participation.

    Most importantly, this is not going to change the participation significantly in the military campaign. We will see some posturing, some rhetoric, but really no change in the coalition. The coalition is weak, and it’s got real problems maintaining this coalition, particularly with the Shia-Sunni Arab divide.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, a couple of things raise questions, staying with you, Colonel Harvey. What do you mean? What do you mean the problems holding together this — the coalition in the face of the Sunni-Shia divide?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Well, Sunni Arabs, be they in the Gulf, in Jordan, you know, in countries of Syria and Iraq, the Sunni Arab communities, Turkey, they want to see an effort directed at the Assad regime and a check on Shia militia and Iranian influence in Iraq and Syria.

    Unfortunately, from my perspective, the U.S. administration is focused on rapprochement with Iran, and acknowledging Tehran’s regional hegemony in the process, and that alienates Sunni Arabs, Ankara, and as well impacts Tel Aviv in Israel.

    So, that creates real problems for us in mobilizing support, keeping people online, and having unity of effort.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see, Janine Davidson, the problems there?

    JANINE DAVIDSON: Well, similar, but I’m not so sure that I think that the main driver for the coalition, for the administration is, is that they’re ceding the space to Iran.

    I think — although I do think that that is definitely an issue across the region. But I think there’s another issue here, which is if you take the fight completely 100 percent to Assad and ISIS at the same time, what’s going to come next? And I think everyone is very focused on, can we do this in sequentially, you know? The alligator closest to the boat would be ISIS. Everybody can agree on that.

    But there’s still this big hanging question, the political question of, what happens next? And even if you were to really defeat ISIS in any sort of traditional way, so that they’re no longer a threat, then all the other problems are going to come up. You have the Sunni-Shia divide, and that is going to continue to be the problem throughout the region.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that, Derek Harvey? And also you brought up the role of the U.S. in all this in the coalition. What are you suggesting?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Well, what I see happening in Iraq in particular — let’s take a look at that — the Abadi regime there, along with Iranian support, has given free rein to Shia militias who are conducting atrocities almost on a daily basis.

    And they openly proclaim the U.S. is supporting their operations, which feeds into Sunni Arab paranoia and supports the ISIS narrative about a divide and that the U.S. is aligned against Sunni Arabs in the region. So that hurts us in many ways.

    The U.S. has a choice here. We could declare no-fly zones, no-go zones in Syria. We could have put more capability on the ground and shown some leadership and commitment, which is what Sunni Arabs are looking for in the region, be they in the Gulf or in Ankara, in Turkey.

    But we have yet to really show real commitment. We have limited resources, limited authorities and a limited strategy, and that’s not going to get buy-in from everybody.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Janine Davidson, just in a few seconds, how do you see the U.S. role changing?

    JANINE DAVIDSON: Well, I mean, I think that the big problem here is that you have to strike a balance between — sure, we could go in full force, like Derek is saying. We could retake Mosul unilaterally if we wanted to.

    But I think that, at the end of the day, what happens then? And I’m not just talking about, oh, we’re going to get bogged down in another quagmire. I’m talking about, what happens when the United States of America takes over another country? The problems in the region have got to be solved by the people in the region. And this is the most uncomfortable, frustrating part of it, is catalyzing that to happen. And that’s what the role is of the U.S. right now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Since we have seen this movie before.

    JANINE DAVIDSON: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Janine Davidson, Colonel Derek Harvey, we thank you both.

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Thank you, Judy.

    JANINE DAVIDSON: Thank you.

    The post What does Jordan’s anger mean for fight against Islamic State? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newswrap

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    GWEN IFILL: Three African nations battled Boko Haram militants today, in the biggest offensive yet against the Nigerian group. Troops from Chad and Cameroon reported killing more than 250 militants in two days of fighting along Cameroon’s border with Nigeria.

    At the same time, warplanes from Nigeria and Chad blasted Boko Haram targets. The group declared its own caliphate in the region last year.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists may have been killed in the Philippines. He’s identified as Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan. The FBI said today that DNA tests indicate he died in a pre-dawn raid last month on Muslim rebels in the Southern Philippines; 44 police commandos also died. Bin Hir is linked to the 2002 night club bombing in Bali, Indonesia, that killed 202 people, including seven Americans.

    GWEN IFILL: And that man who’s likely to be the new Pentagon boss signaled today he’d favor giving guns to Ukraine to fight pro-Russian rebels. That came amid signs the White House may reverse its opposition to taking that step.

    Ashton Carter addressed the issue at his Senate confirmation hearing.

    ASHTON CARTER, Secretary of Defense – Designate: I very much incline in that direction, Mr. Chairman, because I think we need to support the Ukrainians in defending themselves. The nature of those arms, I can’t say right now because I don’t have — I haven’t conferred with our military leaders or Ukrainian leaders.

    GWEN IFILL: After a lunch break, Carter partially qualified his statement by saying that sanctions on Russia should continue as — quote — “the main center of the U.S. effort.”  He’s expected to win easy confirmation as secretary of defense.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: At a separate hearing, a top U.S. diplomat ruled out giving the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base back to Cuba. Last week, Cuba’s communist president, Raul Castro, said the return of Guantanamo is a main objective of restoring ties with the U.S.

    But Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson told a House committee today it’s a nonstarter.

    ROBERTA JACOBSON, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs: The issue of Guantanamo is not on the table in these conversations. I want to be clear that what we’re talking about right now is the reestablishment of diplomatic relations, which is only one first step in normalization.

    Obviously, the Cuban government has raised Guantanamo. We are not interested in discussing that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. has controlled Guantanamo since the Spanish-American War, and formally established a naval base there in 1903.

    GWEN IFILL: Another mass sentencing in Egypt today. A court ordered 230 people to serve life in prison for their involvement in violent protests in 2011. All were tried in absentia, except secular activist Ahmed Douma. He helped lead the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: China has clamped new curbs on Internet users in a growing censorship campaign. As of March, the nation’s nearly 650 million Web users will have to register their real names with service providers if they blog or use chat rooms. They will also have to pledge, in writing, not to criticize the country’s communist rulers.

    GWEN IFILL: In Taiwan, rescue crews worked late into the night in the capital, Taipei, looking for victims of an air disaster that killed at least 26 people. The TransAsia airliner careened out of control today in a crash captured on video.

    John Sparks of Independent Television News reports.

    JOHN SPARKS: It seemed to come out of nowhere, a regional passenger plane falling from the sky. Its left wing clipped a taxi on an elevated highway, then shattered on the safety barrier, before plunging into Taipei’s Keelung River below.

    The crash was followed by confusion and the approaching wail of sirens, and in the water, lying motionless, the white and purple fuselage of the TransAsia turboprop. The aircraft, which had just left Taipei’s city center airport, was carrying 53 passengers and five crew. And rescue workers surrounded the wreckage in attempt to reach them.

    Miraculously perhaps, some people survived, one group of passengers gathering a submerged wing, waiting for help. And this young child was hauled from the wreckage and rushed to the riverbank bungled in blankets. Many however, were trapped inside with rescuers struggling to reach submerged parts of the plane.

    “We need heavy cranes,” said the head of the fire department. “We have to lift the body of the plane because we think lots of people are stuck near the nose of the aircraft.”

    Rescue teams did recover the flight data recorders, but it’s not known what caused the incident. The aircraft had been inspected just a few days ago. Still, a major mechanical failure seems likely. The last communication from the pilots was, “Mayday, mayday, engine flame-out.”

    For TransAsia, it’s the second fatal air crash in seven months, and it will come under increasing pressure from the regulator.

    GWEN IFILL: At least 17 people from the plane are still missing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, federal safety experts began investigating a deadly collision just north of New York City on one of the nation’s busiest commuter railroads. The Metro-North train barreled into an SUV that had stopped on the tracks during Tuesday evening’s rush hour.

    Five passengers were killed, as well as the woman driving the SUV. Witnesses said the woman got out of her vehicle, tried to lift the crossing gate, and then got back in just before the train hit.

    GWEN IFILL: A federal jury in Manhattan today convicted the man behind Silk Road, a Web site that became a haven for drug dealers. Ross William Ulbricht was found guilty after just three hours of deliberations. Prosecutors say drug deals accounted for nearly all of Silk Road’s sales before Ulbricht’s arrest in 2013.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On Wall Street, stocks struggled to make any headway after rising oil inventories snuffed out the rally in crude oil prices. They dropped nearly 9 percent. In turn, the Dow Jones industrial average managed to gain just six points to close a little over 1767, but the Nasdaq fell 11 points on the day, and the S&P slipped eight points.

    GWEN IFILL: And, finally, Charlie Sifford, the man who broke the racial barrier in professional golf, died overnight. He was a five-time national champion on the all-black tour, before challenging the PGA’s whites-only clause. It was dropped in 1961, and Sifford won several tournaments, despite death threats and racial slurs.

    In later years, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and was the first black player in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Charlie Sifford was 92 years old.

    The post News Wrap: African nations conduct major offensive against Boko Haram appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Jordan's King Abdullah arrives to meet with members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the U.S. Capitol in Washington

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The gruesome killing of a Jordanian military pilot echoed across the Middle East today.
    A video of Islamic State captors burning him alive triggered demands to strike back and vows to redouble the fight against the militants.

    For many in Jordan, this was a day of outrage mingled with mourning. People prayed in the home village of the murdered pilot, 26-year-old Muath al-Kaseasbeh. And soldiers lined up to pay respects, as his father demanded retaliation against the killers of his son.

    SAFI AL-KASEASBEH, Father of murdered pilot (through interpreter): These are criminals, and there is no comparison between them and the blood of Muath. The country has to take its revenge, and I call for no one to remain alive from Islamic State. I call for revenge by executing prisoners.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Amman, protesters joined in that demand. The government did announce it had hanged two al-Qaida prisoners before dawn.

    A convoy carried away their bodies for burial. One was Sajida al-Rishawi, a would-be suicide bomber who was sentenced to die for her role in a 2005 attack. The Islamic State had demanded her release in exchange for the pilot’s life. The other prisoner hanged today, Ziyad Karboli, had been sentenced to death in 2008.

    The government’s information minister promised other actions to come.

    MOHAMMED AL-MOMANI, Jordanian government spokesman (through interpreter): All the state’s agencies, including its military, develop their different options. And, as we said yesterday, the response of Jordan will be tough, earthshaking.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Elsewhere in the Middle East, the grisly killing of the pilot drew condemnation from leaders in Palestine, Israel, and Turkey, and from leading Muslim clerics, including the grand mufti of Lebanon.

    SHEIK ABDEL-LATIF DERIAN, Grand Mufti, Lebanon (through interpreter): We condemn this cowardly act. And whoever committed this cowardly act is far from being related to Islam or any other religion. This is brutal and totally reprehensible and no person or religion would agree with such an act.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: King Abdullah returned to Amman today, vowing a relentless war against Islamic State fighters. He cut short a visit to Washington, and before the pilot’s death, at least, had faced criticism over the airstrikes.

    The United Arab Emirates came under similar pressure, and there was word today it suspended its own airstrikes in December, after the Jordanian pilot was captured.

    But, at the State Department, spokeswoman Jen Psaki argued the coalition remains strong.

    JEN PSAKI, State Department Spokeswoman:
    The United States is not going to buckle in the face of demands or horrific actions of ISIL, and we don’t expect other countries will either.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats alike called for expediting military aid to Jordan.

    And at his Senate confirmation hearing, defense secretary-designate Ashton Carter pledged to clear up reported delays.

    ASHTON CARTER, U.S. Secretary of Defense-Designate: I definitely want to find out what they are and resolve them, because we need partners on the ground to beat ISIS. And the Jordanian people have clearly reacted the way that encourages us to support them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Obama administration announced yesterday the U.S. will boost financial assistance to Jordan over the next three years, partially to modernize its military.

    The post Jordan’s King Abdullah calls for ‘relentless’ war against Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Phil McCarten/Reuters

    Photo by Phil McCarten/Reuters

    Brian Williams recanted on Wednesday a 12-year-old story that he was aboard a helicopter that was shot down by enemy fire during the Iraq War invasion in 2003.

    “I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” Williams told the newspaper. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.”

    On Friday, Williams had repeated the claim at a NBC-led public tribute to a retired soldier at the New York Rangers hockey game.

    “The story actually started with a terrible moment a dozen years back during the invasion of Iraq when the helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an RPG,” Williams said on the late January broadcast. “Our traveling NBC News team was rescued, surrounded and kept alive by an armor mechanized platoon from the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry.”

    Eventually, members of the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook came forward to challenge the anchor’s claim. Speaking with Stars and Stripes, they said Williams arrived at the scene an hour later on another helicopter that “took no fire and landed later beside the damaged helicopter due to an impending sandstorm from the Iraqi desert.”

    On Facebook, Williams also posted an apology to crew members, blaming the incident on the “fog of memory.”

    On Facebook, a couple of commenters challenged Brian Williams' oft-repeated Iraq War story.

    On Facebook, a couple of commenters challenged Brian Williams’ oft-repeated Iraq War story.

    On Wednesday’s broadcast, he issued an apology and said he “bungled” an attempt to thank a veteran last week.

    “I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago,” Williams said on-air. “It did not take long to hear from some brave men and women in the air crews who were also in the desert.”

    “I hope they know they have my greatest respect and now, my apology,” he said.

    Video by Michael Rusch/Buzzfeed

    The post NBC’s Brian Williams apologizes for false Iraq War story appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Congressman John Lewis accepts a W.E.B. Du Bois Medal at Harvard University, September 30, 2014. Photo by REUTERS/Brian Snyder.

    U.S. Congressman John Lewis accepts a W.E.B. Du Bois Medal at Harvard University, September 30, 2014. Photo by REUTERS/Brian Snyder.

    WASHINGTON — Three prominent House Democrats are vowing to skip Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress next month, saying they disapprove of House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to invite the Israeli leader without consulting President Barack Obama.

    Reps. John Lewis of Georgia, G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon said they won’t attend Netanyahu’s March 3 speech.

    The White House also hinted Thursday that Vice President Joe Biden may not attend Netanyahu’s speech, which is expected to focus on Iran. Spokesman Josh Earnest said Biden takes “very seriously” his responsibilities as Senate president, including his ceremonial duty to attend joint sessions of Congress. However, Earnest noted that Biden missed a joint session in 2011 because he was traveling abroad.

    Earnest said the vice president’s travel schedule for early March has not been finalized.

    He told reporters that Obama “does believe it is up to individual members of Congress to make their own decision about whether or not to attend.”

    Lewis, a hero of the civil rights movement, said Thursday that Boehner’s unilateral invitation to Netanyahu was “an affront to the president and the State Department” that cannot be ignored. Butterfield, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Thursday he was “very disappointed that the speaker would cause such a ruckus” among members of Congress. He called the speaker’s actions “unprecedented.”

    Blumenauer, a well-known liberal views and advocate of alternative energy, called on Boehner last week to cancel the joint session with Netanyahu. If the speech goes forward, “I will refuse to be part of a reckless act of political grandstanding,” Blumenauer said.

    The Constitution vests the responsibility for foreign affairs in the president, Blumenauer said, adding that “it’s deeply troubling that the speaker is willing to undercut diplomacy in exchange for theatrics on the House floor.”

    Butterfield also criticized Netanyahu, saying that by accepting Boehner’s invitation without talking to Obama, the prime minister had “politicized” his visit to the United States.

    Netanyahu’s speech is expected to focus largely on Iran — and its nuclear program — amid delicate negotiations involving the United States, other Western powers and Tehran. Netanyahu’s acceptance of Boehner’s invitation has infuriated the White House and many congressional Democrats.

    Netanyahu is a critic of administration negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, and some Democrats fear the Israeli leader will use the opportunity to embarrass Obama and further his own campaign for re-election.

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she plans to attend the speech.

    “It is really sad that it has come to this,” Pelosi said Thursday, adding that “as of now, it is my intention to go.”

    Butterfield and Lewis both said their decisions to skip the speech were personal and were not part of an organized boycott.

    “I can emphatically say it is not an organized effort,” Butterfield said, adding: “The only thing I can control is my attendance.”

    The post Three House Democrats to skip Netanyahu speech appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Germany Copes With Growing Alzheimer And Dementia CasesOne hundred years ago, Americans age 65 and older made up just three percent of the population. Today, they account for 13 percent. In 15 years, they will make up 20 percent of the country’s population.

    These numbers are the basis for a new book, “The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America,” written by Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and co-director of the Caring Across Generations campaign. The book explores how the “elder boom” — the result of a combination of advances in medical technology and the aging baby boom generation — will impact America socially and economically. In particular, it looks at how the growing need for in-home caregivers will impact the country’s workforce.

    How do you think the “elder boom” will impact the American economy? Will attitudes towards aging change as the U.S. population skews increasingly older? Will aging for baby boomers be different than it was for previous generations?

    We invited you to share your thoughts on Twitter. Author Ai-jen Poo (@aijenpoo) also joined the conversation. Read a transcript of the discussion below.

    The post Twitter chat: How will the ‘elder boom’ impact America? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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