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- 02/12/15--15:35: _Why is Iran holding...
- 02/12/15--15:40: _Will the Ukraine-Ru...
- 02/12/15--15:45: _News Wrap: Greece a...
- 02/12/15--15:50: _Minsk deal offers ‘...
- 02/12/15--16:13: _Award-winning photo...
- 02/13/15--05:40: _On World Radio Day,...
- 02/13/15--06:22: _Hormone treatment a...
- 02/13/15--11:22: _At least 20 killed ...
- 02/13/15--12:11: _How to get what you...
- 02/13/15--12:13: _The Chuck Yeager of...
- 02/13/15--12:20: _AP source: Oregon g...
- 02/13/15--13:29: _A new generation of...
- 02/13/15--13:46: _Former Secret Servi...
- 02/13/15--14:51: _GMO apples that won...
- 02/13/15--15:28: _American skier Ted ...
- 02/13/15--16:19: _Will the White Hous...
- 02/13/15--16:41: _Watching Snowden’s ...
- 02/13/15--16:45: _Can modern prosthet...
- 02/13/15--16:46: _Former captive brin...
- 02/13/15--16:48: _Shields and Brooks ...
- 02/12/15--15:35: Why is Iran holding a U.S. journalist?
- 02/12/15--15:40: Will the Ukraine-Russia deal stick?
- 02/12/15--15:45: News Wrap: Greece agrees to bailout talks with EU officials
- 02/12/15--16:13: Award-winning photo captures effects of homophobia in Russia
- 02/13/15--06:22: Hormone treatment approved for Chelsea Manning
- 02/13/15--11:22: At least 20 killed in attack on Shiite gathering in Pakistan
- 02/13/15--12:11: How to get what you want from online dating
- 02/13/15--12:13: The Chuck Yeager of advanced arm prosthetics
- 02/13/15--12:20: AP source: Oregon governor plans to resign
- 02/13/15--13:29: A new generation of voices takes back Black History Month
- 02/13/15--14:51: GMO apples that won’t brown get U.S. approval
- 02/13/15--15:28: American skier Ted Ligety wins third giant slalom at Worlds
- 02/13/15--16:19: Will the White House hit their health care enrollment goal?
- 02/13/15--16:41: Watching Snowden’s pivotal moments in ‘Citizenfour’
- 02/13/15--16:45: Can modern prosthetics actually help reclaim the sense of touch?
- 02/13/15--16:46: Former captive brings news about school girls held by Boko Haram
JUDY WOODRUFF: An Egyptian court ruled today that two Al-Jazeera journalists who had been jailed for more than 400 days will be released on bail.
Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy still face a retrial. Their colleague, Australian Peter Greste, was freed a few weeks ago.
Today’s ruling is a small victory for press freedom advocates. But a new report released in Washington warns that journalists are increasingly coming under threat.
DELPHINE HALGAND, U.S. Director, Reporters Without Borders: The indicators compiled by Reporters Without Borders are incontestable. There was a drastic decline in freedom of information in 2014.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The world’s largest press freedom group surveyed 180 countries, and fully two-thirds in its estimation saw greater restrictions last year. The list placed Finland first as most free, with much of Europe near the top. The United States was 49th, with the report citing lack of a federal shield law and arrests of reporters in Ferguson, Missouri, among other factors.
But, worldwide, the principal cause of deterioration was widespread conflict, especially in Syria, in Iraq and Ukraine. Prime culprits were nonstate actors like the Islamic State group that have menaced and killed journalists. Another major cause, restrictions in the name of national security, from the Middle East, through Asia, and even, the group contends, in the United States.
And while bail was announced for two Al-Jazeera journalists in Egypt today, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian remains behind bars in Iran. The dual U.S./Iranian citizen has been held since July on secret charges.
His brother, Ali, spoke yesterday with chief foreign affairs correspondent, Margaret Warner.
MARGARET WARNER: Ali Rezaian, thank you for joining us.
ALI REZAIAN, Brother of imprisoned journalist: Thank you so much having me.
MARGARET WARNER: First of all, what kind of shape is your brother in now physically and mentally after six-and-a-half months of detention?
ALI REZAIAN: I think his physical condition is a little bit better than it was before. The infections that he had seem to be better. He’s been treated for those over the last couple of months.
Mentally, it’s very difficult for him. He’s been there for longer than any other Western detainee. He knows that. He knows that he is being deprived of his rights as an Iranian citizen in their court system. And that’s really taking a toll on him.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, is he being interrogated, is he being mistreated, is he being tortured? Your mother saw him a couple of times in December, and then his wife saw him this week, right?
ALI REZAIAN: That’s correct.
So, his wife saw him earlier this week, but hadn’t seen him for a month before that. My mother was able to see him twice when she was there at Christmas. He has made it clear to my mom when he spoke to her that he hasn’t been tortured and hasn’t been physically mistreated.
MARGARET WARNER: What are they doing to him?
ALI REZAIAN: So, when Jason is interrogated, they will take him usually for seven to 10 hours a day, five, six days a week.
He will be taken to another area usually with a blindfold on. They really have just kind of taken his life apart and started asking questions about that. And that’s gone on for over two months.
MARGARET WARNER: The authorities say he’s going to have this trial soon. Does he know the charges even now? Does he have an attorney finally?
ALI REZAIAN: So, he doesn’t have an attorney. We have been trying to hire one for him.
But we have been having some problems with pressure within the judicial system, where we think a lot of lawyers don’t want to take the case. He has been told what his charges are, but I’m not sure that he completely understands them. They have never been made public, and we don’t know what they are.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, some pro-government columnists have suggested he and his wife were spies. Did he ever say or do anything about the Iranian government that could give rise to that suspicion that you know of?
ALI REZAIAN: No.
I mean, I think Jason went there in order to, you know, let people know what Iran is really like, let them know that it’s really a complex place that has got a rich culture, that people are not the kind of stereotypical folks that you see on TV.
And there is nothing in his character, none of the kinds of things that he covered or things that he had access to would lend themselves to being anything but a normal journalist.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, as we know, Iran rates near the rock bottom in terms of press freedom, but it’s particularly known to be dangerous for Western journalists who have a dual nationality, Iranian being one part.
Was he aware of those dangers, that it made him more vulnerable to something like this happening?
ALI REZAIAN: I think so.
I mean, Jason knew that there was always a tightrope to walk, I think, is the way he put it. But he was very careful about what he did. He was careful about following the rules, you know, that he knew about in his credentialing. And he also probably wasn’t aware how much being an American citizen could cause trouble if something like this happened.
MARGARET WARNER: What did your mother tell you about her visit in December, not so much seeing him, but seeing the Iranian officials?
ALI REZAIAN: My mom really came away with the idea that they weren’t paying much attention to her, at least at first, and so she had to be very assertive.
She had to really get in people’s faces. She had to make sure that when she was speaking with officials, whether it be the judges or some of the interrogators who she ended up speaking with, that they paid attention to her. Many Iranian mothers or women probably wouldn’t have been as assertive or as aggressive as she was with them, but she made sure that her point came across to them while she was there.
MARGARET WARNER: Finally, his case has been assigned to a very hard-line judge who is known for taking cases with dissidents and journalists and so on and inflicting incredibly harsh punishments, from lashings to executions.
Do you have a reasonable expectation that he will get anything resembling a fair trial?
ALI REZAIAN: I think that’s hard to say.
My hope is that there’s other parts of the judiciary that look at the situation, that look at the facts behind the case, and it will be dealt with appropriately. I think the other thing is, is that there is a legal process in Iran that is more than a single step. So, there’s an appeals process.
Our hope is that the judge will look at the information and realize that there’s just no case there to convict him.
MARGARET WARNER: Well, Ali Rezaian, good luck to you and your family, and thank you.
ALI REZAIAN: Thank you for having me.
GWEN IFILL: Following the Ukraine cease-fire agreement announcement, many are asking today if this deal can actually stick.
We explore the chances of success with former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul. He’s now a professor at Stanford University. And Fiona Hill, director of the Center on the U.S. and Europe at the Brookings Institution and author of “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.”
Welcome to you both.
So was this, Fiona Hill, today a breakthrough agreement or a work in progress?
FIONA HILL, Brookings Institution: I think it’s better described as a work in progress, Gwen.
I mean, we have a long way to go before we find any kind of final resolution for the conflict that’s unfolding as we still speak on the ground in Ukraine. But it is also, it has to be said, a significant step.
As we saw from the introduction to this piece, if this stops the fighting for a prolonged period of time, and it stops the killing of people on the ground in Ukraine, that in and of itself is something of an achievement. The most difficult pieces are all the things that we heard about what happens to the final status of these disputed territories inside of Ukraine and of Ukraine itself.
And I think there was actually a significant breakthrough for Ukraine in avoiding the — any kind of agreement right now about the final configuration of Ukraine itself, avoiding the use of the term federalism, and really pushing out some of these discussions to the future.
We don’t want too much loaded on this cease-fire at this particular juncture.
GWEN IFILL: How about that? How much should be — Ambassador McFaul, how much should be loaded on this cease-fire? How much should be hanging on that? What was sacrificed in the name of unity or trying to get to unity?
MICHAEL MCFAUL, Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia: Well, a lot of ambiguity about the future of Ukraine and its territorial integrity.
In particular, they didn’t resolve what the special status of the Donbass will be. And until that is done and until the elections are held there, according to the agreement, the border between the rebel-held territory in Russia will remain open and not controlled by the Ukrainian government.
But all that said, I do agree with Fiona. Is it a flawed deal? Absolutely. Is it likely to fail? Yes. That would be my probability statement. Is it better than the alternative, which would be more war? My answer also to that is yes.
And, ultimately, you know, I’m not going to judge President Poroshenko sitting here in Palo Alto, California, and decide what is better for Ukraine than what he decided. I think he determined that in the short-term this is a good deal for Ukraine. They will try to get stronger. They will try to get their economy stronger. And the IMF deal is a very important stage. And then they will live to fight — hopefully not fight, but live to try to settle a better term down the road.
GWEN IFILL: Well, Fiona Hill, what does Vladimir Putin get out of showing up for these agreements, for these negotiations or actually agreeing to anything at all? What does he get out of this?
FIONA HILL: Well, right now, it appears that he got quite a lot, at least symbolically. He was able to present himself, as he actually did somewhat earlier in the case of Syria and chemical weapons, as a diplomat, a world leader who is trying to present himself as a peacemaker.
And he seemed to succeed that by sharing the stage.
GWEN IFILL: And he agrees to withdraw heavy weaponry which they never conceded was there.
FIONA HILL: Well, that’s absolutely right. He hasn’t really conceded anything. He hasn’t stated that Russia was involved in this conflict in any way.
All of the onus is being put, in fact, on Kiev, the government in Kiev, on Poroshenko, and then also the rebels to work it out between themselves. So he really has come out of this, at least at this particular stage, looking rather good, at least from his perspective.
GWEN IFILL: Michael McFaul, what does Ukraine do about the border? It is a pretty porous border. It was before. It remains so. What does this agreement do to fix that or address that?
MICHAEL MCFAUL: Well, it holds out the promise that they will be able to control that border some time in the future.
But the agreement states very specifically that there have to be new elections, local elections and constitutional changes to recognize the special status of Donbass before that. So I’m not optimistic that that’s going to happen. I think that in large — if you look at the whole thing, the agreement, I think that is actually the weakest part of the agreement that was agreed to today in Minsk.
GWEN IFILL: What’s, Fiona Hill, the alternative to something like this, an agreement like this? What’s to stop this cease-fire from going in the way of the last cease-fire?
FIONA HILL: I think we have to do is to recognize that this is an interim step, that, just as you said, it’s a cease-fire. It’s not the final resolution of this conflict, by any means.
It’s a very important step forward. And we have to keep really engaged on this and also think about other formats. One of the other aspects of this, of course, was it just concluded between or among a handful of world leaders.
GWEN IFILL: Without the U.S. at the table.
FIONA HILL: Without the U.S. at the table.
So it gives us the opportunity, if this falls apart, to push forward with other initiatives of course in lockstep with our European allies. So, this is not the last word, by any means. It’s just another interim step. And I think if we focus on it in that perspective, and we keep on trying to help bolster up the Ukrainians and look at the situation on the ground with a very clear head, we can actually make this a step forward.
And, again, the important thing is, it’s a cease-fire, as long as we see that implemented in the next several days.
GWEN IFILL: Not so far today, as far as we know.
FIONA HILL: Not so far yet, no.
GWEN IFILL: Michael McFaul, what about the U.S. role? There has been much discussion about that the U.S. should be arming the Ukrainian government and helping them by sending lethal weapons to hold that line. Did the prospect of that perhaps force some sort of tentative agreement here?
MICHAEL MCFAUL: I do think the specter of new arms to Ukraine helped accelerate the negotiations and focus the minds and get all those leaders together in Minsk. I do believe that is true.
I also believe it is true that Putin is the big winner here. Let’s be clear about that. Both sides are better off today because of this agreement than they were yesterday, but Putin is a lot better off. Now his proxies have consolidated their gains. They have given up very little, and we could be replaying this game all over again in six months’ time after some military offensive.
That’s what’s happened between the first Minsk accord and the second Minsk accord. So it’s better than the alternatives, but I still think Putin gains very concretely to his ultimate objective, which is to weaken and ultimately destroy the government in Kiev. That’s what he really wants to do.
Holding Donbass or not, bringing in part of Russia or not, I think, is secondary. His chief aim is to do that. This agreement helps him achieve that end.
GWEN IFILL: What about the potential or the threat of sanctions? Wouldn’t that be enough to hold Putin’s feet to the fire, Fiona Hill?
FIONA HILL: Not in and of itself, no.
We have already seen that, of course, the sanctions have had a big impact on the Russian economy, although one of the stories that we have already had in the news roundup is the markets have rallied again because oil prices have gone back up somewhat, and this kind of prospect perhaps of a peace agreement has also had a boost here.
And I think we have to bear in mind that Putin actually is playing somewhat with the economic aspects with this. Russia actually has to roll over itself quite a lot of debt. There was a payment is actually due tomorrow, Friday the 13th. It’s not just Ukraine that is desperate to get a deal with the IMF. Russia also has to deal with its creditors.
So, Putin is actually playing to a large extent with these economic issues. The larger message is, we have to keep focused on this. We can’t just think we have resolved things with this disagreement.
GWEN IFILL: Friday the 13th.
FIONA HILL: Indeed.
GWEN IFILL: What timing.
Fiona Hill, Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, and Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia and now a professor at Stanford University, thank you both very much.
FIONA HILL: Thank you, Gwen. Thank you.
MICHAEL MCFAUL: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: As the peace plan was announced, Ukraine also got good news from the International Monetary Fund. It agreed to finance a new bailout deal worth $17.5 billion to shore up the country’s battered finances.
GWEN IFILL: The United States Senate has confirmed Ashton Carter to be the next secretary of defense. The vote today was 93-5, with strong backing from both parties. The 60-year-old Carter will be President Obama’s fourth Pentagon chief in six years. He succeeds Chuck Hagel, who held the job for less than two years.
JUDY WOODRUFF: European Union leaders unanimously agreed today on far-reaching measures to fight terror. They met in Brussels and called for removing Internet content that is deemed to promote terrorism or extremism. E.U. nations will also share airline passenger data and impose tougher border controls. It’s a response to last month’s terror attacks in France.
GWEN IFILL: At that same summit, Greece and its creditors agreed to start talks on possibly revising the Greek bailout. The new Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, wants an end to austerity measures, but he suggested compromise is possible.
ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Prime Minister, Greece: I’m very confident that, altogether, we can find a mutually viable solution in order — in order to heal the wounds of austerity, to tackle humanitarian crises across the European Union, and to bring Europe back to the road of growth and social cohesion.
GWEN IFILL: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government is also willing to consider compromise. Up to now, Germany has insisted that Greece stick to the existing bailout terms.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, more than 5,000 people gathered in Raleigh, North Carolina, to mourn three young Muslims. They were shot dead Tuesday in nearby Chapel Hill, allegedly by a neighbor. Police said they had argued over a parking space. The victims’ families called it a hate crime.
Their supporters turned out in such numbers today that the funeral was moved from a mosque to a nearby athletic field. Burial followed at an Islamic cemetery.
GWEN IFILL: The legal fight over gay marriage in Alabama took a new turn today. A federal judge in Mobile ruled county officials must obey her order to issue licenses to gay couples. Most counties held off complying when state Chief Justice Roy Moore issued an opposing order.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Work has halted at 29 West Coast ports in an escalating labor dispute. In Southern California, container ships queued up outside the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles today. Terminal operators said they locked out dockworkers in answer to a union slowdown. The lockout runs through Monday.
GWEN IFILL: Next year’s Democratic National Convention will be held in Philadelphia. The party announced the choice today after also considering New York and Columbus, Ohio. The convention will be held the week of July 25, 2016, right after Republicans hold their own convention in Cleveland.
JUDY WOODRUFF: On Wall Street, the cease-fire in Ukraine, compromise on Greece and higher oil prices all helped stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 110 points to close near 18000. The Nasdaq rose 56 points on the day, and the S&P 500 added nearly 20 points.
GWEN IFILL: And praise poured in today for veteran CBS News and “60 Minutes” correspondent Bob Simon, who died last night in a car crash in New York. He’d covered nearly every major foreign conflict since Vietnam and was based in the Middle East for years. Along the way, he earned 27 Emmys.
In 1991, Simon and his crew were captured by Iraqi forces during the first Gulf War and finally released after 40 days.
BOB SIMON, CBS News: As you can see, we have lost a little weight. We have aged a little bit. We’re fine. This is a story that could have ended another way, but it’s had a happy ending.
GWEN IFILL: Bob Simon was 73 years old.
The post News Wrap: Greece agrees to bailout talks with EU officials appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
GWEN IFILL: European leaders laid claim today to a fragile peace in Ukraine, as a night of negotiations produced plans for yet another cease-fire.
All through the night in this marble-floored convention hall in Minsk, journalists and official entourages waited and waited. The leaders of France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine went into the meeting Wednesday and emerged 16 hours later declaring they had a deal.
CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL, Germany (through interpreter): There is a glimmer of hope here, but concrete steps, of course, have to be taken, and we will still face major obstacles. On balance, I can say that what we have achieved gives significantly more hope than if we had achieved nothing.
GWEN IFILL: Under the cease-fire, Ukrainian soldiers and pro-Russian rebels will lay down arms on Sunday at midnight local time. Starting Monday, heavy weapons must be withdrawn from a buffer zone ranging 30 to nearly 90 miles wide.
But Russia and Ukraine disagreed on a key point, a provision that apparently grants extensive self-rule to Eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko:
PRESIDENT PETRO POROSHENKO, Ukraine (through interpreter): Despite firm insistence from Russia, we didn’t agree any status of autonomy for Eastern Ukraine. We will do this through constitutional reforms of decentralization that will concern the whole country. And we didn’t agree on federalization.
GWEN IFILL: Down the hall, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a decidedly different view.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter): As for the complex issues connected with the long-term political resolution, there are many positions here. The first of them is constitutional reform. That should take into account the lawful rights of the people who live in Eastern Ukraine.
GWEN IFILL: What happens with the transport hub of Debaltseve was also unresolved. The government-held town is now surrounded by rebels.
News of the Minsk agreement was greeted with cautious optimism both in Donetsk and Kiev.
MAN (through interpreter): Everybody wants for people not to get killed. It is painful when neighbors get killed. I’m hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.
WOMAN (through interpreter): I think it is not bad if it is indeed the way they agreed, if there are no violations from the Russian side again.
GWEN IFILL: A previous cease-fire in September barely took hold and in recent weeks collapsed altogether.
And even today, Ukraine charged, more Russian tanks and missile systems crossed the border overnight. U.S. officials said Russia must prove it’s serious about the peace agreement by ending support for the rebels. They also said the option of imposing additional sanctions on Moscow remains on the table.
We will look more closely at what was agreed to in Minsk and what’s in dispute after the news summary.
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The World Press Photo of 2014, selected today, shares an intimate embrace between a gay couple in a dark room in Russia, captured by Danish photographer Mads Nissen.
The photo also won first place in the Contemporary Issues category, making it the second year in a row the judges selected a winner from said category.
Nissen’s winning image is part of a photo series called “Homophobia in Russia,” which documented the difficulties and struggles shared by the LGBT community in Russia, especially after an anti-gay law passed in 2013.
“This is an attempt to understand what it’s like to live with forbidden love in modern Russia,” Nissen wrote in the description of his photo essay. “Sexual minorities face legal and social discrimination, harassment, and even violent hate-crime attacks from conservative religious and nationalistic groups.”
The World Press jury explained that they were looking for a timeless, iconic image that sets a professional standard for story telling, stressing the necessity for a touch of humanity as well as aesthetics. And Nissen’s photo hit all the spots.
But perhaps the lesser-known part of the competition is an astonishing fact: The World Press jury disqualified 20 percent of its finalists for over-manipulating images and careless post-processing.
When a photo makes it to the final stages of the contest, the photographer is required to send in raw files. This year, the disqualified images had either excessive toning or removal of small details that compromised the integrity of the original photos.
The contest rules only allow “retouching of files that conforms to currently accepted standards in the industry,” and “the jury is the ultimate arbiter of these standards,” World Press Photo managing director Lars Boering told TIME magazine.
The worst hit category was Sports Stories, hit so badly that the jury awarded only two prizes instead of the usual three.
“We want to keep the standards high,” Boering said, stressing the urgency of this issue in professional photojournalism. “Over the coming months, we will be engaging in further dialogue with the international photojournalistic community to explore what we can learn from all this, and how we can create a deeper understanding of issues involved in the application of post-processing standards in professional photojournalism.”
Here are the rest of the winners of the 58th photo contest, carefully selected from more than 95,000 images submitted from more than 5,000 photographers around the world.
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When Hellen Samuel first became a radio journalist in South Sudan in the mid-1980s, it wasn’t easy.
Samuel encountered sexual harassment and inflexible deadlines, said the host of “Under the Tree,” a talk show covering topics ranging from health to politics. “Most ladies get married early, you have a family, you need the job and you have to complete your assignments on time regardless of how you make ends meet at home and at work.”
She now encourages women in South Sudan to get involved. “When you are determined, nothing will deter you from your dreams. If you really want to be a journalist, you can make it,” she tells them.
Radio is a popular means of sharing information in South Sudan, where only 27 percent of the nation’s 11.6 million people are literate and electricity is intermittent. Most radios are solar-powered or hand-cranked.
Politically, South Sudan has suffered setbacks since becoming independent from Sudan in 2011. Differences between two of its leaders, President Salva Kiir, of the Dinka ethnic group, and opposition leader Riek Machar, a Nuer, erupted in violence in December 2013 as armed groups took sides and terrorized the population. Thousands died and more than 2 million people fled their homes. The displaced populations are at risk of hunger and malnutrition, according to relief agencies.
Although the two leaders have signed various ceasefires and partial agreements as lately as Feb. 2, they have failed to reach a comprehensive peace deal and sporadic fighting continues.
Samuel’s show on 98.6 FM in the capital Juba, which also streams live on its website, provides an outlet for people to air their views and make suggestions. Its name is a reference to where traditional leaders and elders hold meetings — under trees — and make important decisions, she said.
“I love getting to the heart of the audience, seeing positive results after discussing an issue on the show, for example, absence of homeless children on the streets, mothers going for antenatal care, people going for HIV voluntary testing.”
She recalled one of her most memorable shows. It featured two university students whose fathers had died in 1992 when South Sudan was still part of Sudan under the Khartoum regime. Their mothers never remarried and took care of them alone.
As children, they sometimes had to miss school when they couldn’t afford the fees, and when they did go, they encountered bullies who taunted them for being fatherless.
Their situation was similar to families of other wartime widows, said Samuel. “Mothers not working, all properties taken by relatives of the fathers, nobody willing to help.”
But the two guests, a young man and woman, were adamant that they owed everything to their mothers and that change could only happen through education. “It was a very, very emotional show,” Samuel said. “Even some of my colleagues in the office shed tears.”
The post On World Radio Day, how one woman in South Sudan found her voice on air appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Hormone treatment for gender reassignment has been approved for Chelsea Manning, the former intelligence analyst convicted of espionage for sending classified documents to the WikiLeaks website.
Defense Department officials said Thursday that the hormone therapy was approved Feb. 5 by Col. Erica Nelson, commandant of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where Manning is serving a 35-year sentence.
The treatment would enable the Army private formerly known as Bradley Manning to make the transition to a woman. Manning changed her legal name in April 2014.
The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The memo approving Manning’s hormone treatment was first reported by USA Today.
Calls to military officials at Fort Leavenworth weren’t immediately returned.
The decision came after a lawsuit was filed in September in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It alleged Manning was at a high risk of self-castration and suicide unless she received more focused treatment for gender dysphoria, the sense of being a woman in a man’s body.
The Army was providing some treatment but not enough, according to the lawsuit, including psychotherapy from a mental health specialist who lacked the qualifications to treat gender dysphoria. The Federal Bureau of Prisons and many state and local corrections agencies administer hormone therapy to prisoners with gender dysphoria, but Manning is the first transgender military prisoner to request such treatment.
“But the delay in treatment came with a significant cost to Chelsea and her mental health and we are hopeful that the government continues to meet Chelsea’s medical needs as is its obligation under the Constitution so that those harms may be mitigated,” Strangio said in a statement.
The 26-year-old former intelligence analyst was convicted in August 2013 of espionage and other offenses for sending more than 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks while working in Iraq.
Transgender people are not allowed to serve in the U.S. military, but Manning can’t be discharged from the service while serving her prison sentence.
An attack on a Shiite congregation in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Friday has claimed the lives of at least 20 people and injured more than 50 others.
The attack was carried out with explosives and firearms by members of Jundullah, an offshoot of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. The militants entered the congregation, known as an imambargah, dressed in police uniforms while attendees were offering prayers.
In a statement, Jundullah claimed the attack was in response to the href="http://www.dawn.com/news/1151849">execution of a militant known as “Doctor Usman” in December. Usman had been imprisoned for his role in an attack on Pakistan’s army headquarters in 2009.
The attack was condemned by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and leaders of other major political parties in Pakistan. Shiite organizations called for a three-day period of national mourning for the victims.
After an assault on a military school in Peshawar in December left 145 dead — the most deadly attack in Pakistan’s history — the prime minister lifted the country’s ban on the death penalty in a move to crackdown on militants. In January, the use of military tribunals was approved to bring rapid verdicts to detained militants. Since the death penalty was reinstated, more than 20 people have been executed.
This is the deadliest attack targeting Shias in Pakistan since Jan. 31, when an explosion at an imambargah in Shikarpur killed 60 people. That attack was also claimed by Jundullah.
The post At least 20 killed in attack on Shiite gathering in Pakistan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Editor’s Note: Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. So if you haven’t got a date, and you want one, grab your smartphone or laptop and start the hunt. But since you haven’t much time to find your Saturday companion, we’re sharing some insight from OkCupid co-founder and president Christian Rudder. Author of the new book “Dataclysm,” Rudder has pored over the data we all share on social media all the time, and what’s stuck out are some interesting observations about what works and what doesn’t on OkCupid and other dating sites. Paul Solman spoke to him for a Making Sen$e Thursday report about dating. Watch that report below, and read his Q&A with Rudder.
– Simone Pathe, Making Sen$e Editor
Keep Messages Short
PS: So what works and what doesn’t work in terms of generating a conversation on OkCupid?
CR: Broadly, the thing that works is you being yourself. I know that shorter messages are better in terms of reply rate. The optimal length is something like 50 characters. Characters, not words. So very short.
You just want to get into some conversation with people, so like, “Hey, how are you doing” or “I have these tickets – want to go with me?” I would suggest keeping your profile short, especially with people living on phones these days. Text is, in some ways, on the way out, unfortunately. There are dating sites now that are just pictures. OkCupid still has a slightly older school model — if you want, you can give a self summary or describe the things that you’re into. But even before phones, the picture was 90 percent of the story for you on OkCupid, but that little 10 percent is ever more pinched.
Men, Learn Your Grammar
PS: What shouldn’t a person put in their profile or in their messaging to the other?
CR: So this is going to be for men messaging women, which four out of every five messages on OkCupid is: use correct grammar and punctuation. Do not use net speak, like WOT, W-O-T or U. We have observed that those messages get a lot lower reply rate.
PS: And why would that be?
CR: I don’t know. People don’t like them. They probably seem too casual, they seem stupid, they seem thrown off, they seem — you’re in a hurry, you can’t even type out three letters to me — I imagine. It’s hard to get at the kind of psychology behind some of these trends, but this is what I imagine is the case.
PS: So if someone is saying hello, what do you say?
Say “Holla” not “Hello”
CR: A great piece of advice for online dating is to stand out from the crowd. So greetings like “hello” and “hi” are very common. They do less well than things that are a little bit quirky or a little bit weird, like “howdy” or “holla.” The rarer your salutation, the better it does, in general.
Know What You’re Asking For
PS: Avoid physical compliments?
CR: Yeah, physical compliments are best avoided. They can feel a little creepy or something. This is your first message to someone who has never met you. They don’t know your friends, they don’t know anything about you except what you’ve written in your profile.
It also signals a physical intention on your part for the conversation. So as you can expect, it doesn’t fly very well generally, although obviously there are people on OkCupid that are looking for that kind of attention only.
PS: But one of the things I read in your book is guys who show their abs, their abductor muscles, they do better.
CR: Thank you for using the full Latin term. Sure, there’s at least one self-selecting force in play here, like guys who show their abs are guys with good abs. If every dude in this room decided to take a picture of their abs, they would probably suck.
PS: What about women? Is cleavage good for initiating conversation?
CR: Maybe not. First message, yes. Those conversations are often a lot shorter and don’t go as far. But you’re going to get more lower-quality messages. If you’re a guy showing your abs or [a woman showing cleavage], I guess with any of this stuff, whether it’s your profile text or the picture you put online, you’re going to get the conversations you’re asking for. So if you’re showing your cleavage, you’re going to get a lot of like: “Hey, sexy” and “Hey, you’re cute” and a lot more salacious stuff than that. If that’s what you’re looking for, awesome, but that is what you’ll get, regardless of what you’re looking for.
And the same with the dudes. You’re going to get people who are interested in guys with a washboard stomach and nothing else. If that’s your scene, if that’s what you want out of OkCupid, go for it. If it’s not, even if you had that body, it’s best not to emphasize that kind of thing.
PS: But a sexy look for a woman also elicits more responses?
CR: Sure, sure. Basically anything sexy, anything out of the ordinary, whether it’s something sexy – cleavage, whatever – which most photos on OkCupid are not. Or if you’re in front of Machu Picchu or the pyramids or something like this, they’re kind of like online dating clichés. You take a picture of yourself in some exceptional situation — skydiving or whatever. People always post those photos because it works – you’re saying something about yourself that begs a conversation and that’s what the users are there for.
Make Yourself Stand Out (With Your Shirt On)
PS: So the argument in economic terms is that a thick market, where there are lots of players, is more efficient than a thin market where there are only a few people bidding on prices or, in this case, people and prospective mates.
CR: Yeah, that totally makes sense. Imagine a mixer with three people. That would be a pretty rough hour if you lasted even that long in there. OkCupid, metaphorically speaking, is a mixer with four million people.
At the same time, I think for an individual crafting his online dating presence, playing the middle is a bad strategy. You don’t want to be just broadly appealing. You want to get back to these pictures of Machu Picchu or whatever it is. You need to stand out in some way because the fact that there are so many people, that the market is so thick means that you have to stand out all the more. You can’t just put yourself on the shelf and hope somebody grabs the can of soup because the price is cheap. They actually need to like you and be interested in what you seemingly have to offer. So yeah, going to a site with more users seems obviously better to me, but at the same time, having a bland, middle of the road profile with bland, middle of the road pictures seems like a bad strategy to me.
PS: Because you’re trying to appeal to too many people within that broad market?
CR: Right. Because the way love works in general, you don’t need everybody to like you somewhat – you need one person to like you a lot.
Don’t Lie on Your Profile
PS: I had a friend who went online – this is quite a while ago – and he was telling us that he had to say he’d read “The Kite Runner,” even though he hadn’t, because all the women he would be interested in would have wanted him to read it. And I thought: This is insane, because you’re pretending to be something you’re not to try to find somebody who will actually like you.
CR: Sure, sure. I don’t think that’s a creation of the Internet, either. Dudes have been making up stuff about themselves probably since there have been dudes.
How much you puff yourself up online, or offline for that matter, you’ve got to be careful with it. I’m like 5’11” or 5’10”. If show up to a date and pretend that I’m 6’4” and work out all the time, or whatever it is that I don’t actually do, that’s just going to go badly for me. So if your friend shows up and she’s like, “Oh my God, I love that passage,” he’d better be ready to BS his way through that date, because it’s just going to be embarrassing otherwise.
Women Are More Discriminating About Looks
PS: What are your favorite discoveries in the book?
CR: Kind of paradoxically, men are very open minded or very even handed with their votes of women. It’s a very normally shaped, well-centered curve when they’re rating each other on OkCupid, whereas women are much more selective, much more judgmental. Their discount is almost 50 percent off of how men rate women. So essentially, the average rating for a man is about half as high as the rating for a woman on OkCupid – in terms of looks. Women are much more discriminating – let me put it that way. I think both types of people are equally interested in having an attractive partner – those curves look the same. But women essentially give the thumbs up to only half as many guys as guys giving the thumbs up to women.
PS: But that has nothing to do with how much money the guys make, or anything like that?
CR: I know for a fact that information is very unreliable on OkCupid, and I think our users have probably figured that out. There’s a weak correlation with stated income and there’s a bunch of other stuff going on. So online, it’s your photo foremost, and then the kind of things that you’re into and the rest of your text.
PS: But I thought the standard story was that guys were almost obsessed with how women look and women didn’t care about guys’ looks; they cared about their ability to provide.
CR: I don’t know. That sounds like an outdated story to me. You don’t see them on OkCupid.
The Role of Race Online
PS: So what are the verbal stereotypes on OkCupid?
CR: Using this method, which teases out what a group talks about and the people not in that group never talk about, you find things like white men are really into stuff like woodworking, snowmobiling, a lot of jam bands and country bands, mudding. … And of course, they also disproportionately mention blue eyes and blond hair, because if you’re dividing up by ethnicity, no other groups have those traits to even discuss, right.
Whereas like Asian men, number one, I think, was “I’m tall for an Asian.” And then you often discuss the country of origin, things like K-pop, Korean pop, some dance music, some animated movies and stuff like this.
PS: And African American men? What do they talk about?
CR: I think “dreads” was the number one. Reggae, I think, was another one. Spike Lee. So yeah, we just kind of threw a billion words that are contributed into a statistical blender tagged with the race and the gender of the writer, and this is what came out of the blender, so to speak.
People tend to prefer their own race online in terms of the volume of messages. In terms of interracial dating, it is the case, not just on OkCupid but also on Match and DateHookup, black men and women get a universal discount from people of other races, from whites but also Asians and Latinos.
PS: The other groups do not want to date black men or women?
CR: They give them a rating that’s about 25 percent lower — sort of a blanket discount. If you imagine the ratings curves of the groups, the one for black women in this case is sort of shifted down towards the lower end.
PS: So the mean, the average rating is 25 percent lower than the average rating for the white woman. And that’s for men too?
CR: Yeah. That shift exists on every dating site I’ve ever looked at.
PS: Really? Am I wrong to think that’s horrifying?
CR: No, but I mean, at the same time, these are American users so there’s bias in the American mind, and that’s hard to find that surprising, I find.
Johnny Matheny, who lost his arm to cancer in 2008, is a pioneer of advanced arm prosthetics.
“Everybody tells me that I’m the only one in the United States that has had my stump into every advanced prosthetic in the United States,” the 60-year-old tells Miles O’Brien in the video above.
This week, Miles reports on the technology of advanced prosthetics, a subject with which he’s become intimately familar since he lost his own left arm in an accident almost exactly a year ago.
Matheny, a father of three, who Miles profiles in the report, underwent a procedure called targeted muscle reinnervation surgery, which moved the nerves that control his missing limb into muscles in his stump so that he can better control a modular prosthetic limb designed at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
Tune in to the NewsHour tonight for Miles’ report on how breakthroughs in sensory perception are helping amputees feel again.
And don’t miss Thursday’s report on the possibilities — and limits — of robotic arms and prosthetic technology.
Finally, in this powerful blog post, Miles shares his thoughts on learning to live with one hand.
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber said he planned to resign amid allegations his fiancee used her relationship with him to enrich herself — a stunning fall from grace for the state’s longest-serving chief executive, a person with direct knowledge of the situation said Friday.
The decision capped a wild week in which Kitzhaber seemed poised to step down, then changed his mind, but ultimately bowed to calls from legislative leaders that he quit the state’s top job. The person spoke only on condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorized to talk about the governor’s plan.
Secretary of State Kate Brown, a Democrat like Kitzhaber, was expected to assume the office and become the first openly bisexual governor in the country. Unlike most states, Oregon doesn’t have a lieutenant governor, and the state Constitution puts the secretary of state next in line.
Kitzhaber called Brown back to Oregon from a conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this week. People close to Kitzhaber say he asked her to come back after deciding to resign in the wake of the influence-peddling allegations involving his fiancee, a green-energy consultant. But he then changed his mind, saying he wouldn’t step down, which led to a Wednesday meeting between Kitzhaber and Brown that she described as “strange.”
By Thursday, the leaders of the state House and Senate said he had to go. Other top officials in the overwhelmingly Democratic state also said Kitzhaber should resign.
“I finally said, ‘This has got to stop,’” Senate President Peter Courtney said after he met with Kitzhaber. “I don’t know what else to do right now. It seems to be escalating. It seems to be getting worse and worse.”
Kitzhaber handily won re-election in November to a fourth term after surviving the botched rollout of Oregon’s online health care exchange, which turned into a national embarrassment.
But the allegations surrounding his fiancée Cylvia Hayes’ work were more harmful, dominating headlines in the state following his victory.
A series of newspaper reports since October have chronicled Hayes’ work for organizations with an interest in Oregon public policy. At the same time, she was paid by advocacy groups, she played an active role in Kitzhaber’s administration, a potential conflict of interest.
The spotlight on Hayes led to her revealing that she accepted about $5,000 to illegally marry a man seeking immigration benefits in the 1990s. Later, she admitted she bought a remote property with the intent to grow marijuana.
Though questions about Hayes have swirled for months, the pressure on Kitzhaber intensified in recent weeks after newspapers raised questions about whether Hayes reported all her income on her tax returns. She has not publicly addressed the allegation and Kitzhaber has declined to. Earlier this week, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she was launching a criminal investigation.
Kitzhaber has consistently maintained that he and Hayes worked hard to avoid conflicts between her public and private roles.
A fiercely private person, Kitzhaber has been forced to answer embarrassing and personal questions about his relationship. In response to questions at a news conference last month, Kitzhaber told reporters that he’s in love with Hayes, but he’s not blinded by it.
Kitzhaber, 67, met the 47-year-old Hayes before the 2002 election, when he was governor and she was a candidate for the state Legislature. She lost her race, but they later reconnected after Kitzhaber’s term ended.
After eight years out of office, Kitzhaber was elected governor again in 2011. Hayes used the title “first lady,” though the couple never married, and she took an active role in his administration. They were engaged last summer.
The scandal over alleged influence-peddling was not the only one to hammer Kitzhaber since his return as governor. Kitzhaber, a former emergency room physician and passionate advocate for health care reform, was embarrassed last year when Oregon was the only state that was unable to launch an online health insurance exchange in the first year of the federal health care law.
Oregon spent millions of dollars in federal grant money but has abandoned the technology for Cover Oregon. The state and its main technology contractor, Oracle Inc., are blaming each other for the failure in multiple lawsuits.
Before the Cover Oregon debacle, Kitzhaber had racked up a series of successes. He convinced lawmakers to overhaul the state Medicaid system, then convinced the Obama administration to give Oregon $2 billion to implement it. He spearheaded cuts to retirement benefits for public employees despite being elected with considerable help from the unions whose members lost out.
After the successes, top Republicans declined to challenge Kitzhaber in last year’s election. He easily defeated state Rep. Dennis Richardson, who relentlessly pounded Kitzhaber over the Hayes scandal but was unable to overcome Oregon voters’ aversion to his social conservative views.
Kitzhaber has an acute understanding of the Legislature and how to use the power of the governor’s office to achieve his objectives. He proved adept at isolating the people he disagreed with, but he also angered his supporters and was left with few friends. When he got into trouble, his fellow Democrats did not speak up.
When Justin Giuliano posted a series of tweets about Bayard Rustin on Feb. 1, he only wanted to share information about one influential black figure often forgotten about in American history. “I thought, ‘I’ll just make a hashtag, #BlackHistoryYouDidntLearnInSchool, because he’s been erased from history and I never learned about him in school,’” the senior at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota, told the NewsHour.
He didn’t expect his efforts to be met with such enthusiasm.
His posts spurred hundreds of responses. People thanked him for spreading the word about the gay organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, and others began posting about other oft-forgotten pieces of black history.
— Young Negro™ (@JayJewels93) February 1, 2015
— Young Negro™ (@JayJewels93) February 8, 2015
So instead of stopping there, Giuliano, 21, decided to continue posting about other events and individuals he felt were forgotten in American history curriculum. Every day since, he’s picked a different topic to tweet about — from Ruby Bridges, the first African-American to attend an all-white school in New Orleans, to the Tulsa race riot of 1921 — and has compiled the tweets on his Tumblr blog.
“Black history is usually reserved for a few historical figures, and even then they are pacified or white-washed,” he said. “I really wanted to change the conversation around black history this year.”
Giuliano sees the celebration of Black History Month in American schools as lacking. Many important figures and events he highlights with his hashtag are never mentioned in U.S. classrooms during February, even though the month is supposed to highlight the achievements and history of the black community.He said a lot of his black friends were sick of learning about the same people in black history every year in high school. “A lot of people see their heroes or heroines left out of history,” he said.
Guiliano does not think this is a simple oversight.
“I think often it’s a way to control people by controlling our history or controlling what we learn,” he said. “But also a lot of black history is about oppression and so people don’t like to own up to the fact.”
The hashtag and the conversation it brought about on social media seem to reflect a desire among a younger generation to have a more nuanced approach to Black History Month.
Arielle Newton, the editor-in-chief and founder of BlackMillennials.com, takes issue with what she sees as an inadequate presentation of black history during February. “White supremacy picks and chooses what parts of history we are given,” she said. “So we remain subjugated and marginalized and docile.”
Earlier this month, Newton, 23, wrote an opinion piece for her website titled, ”Why I’m Over Black ‘History’ Month.” In it, she laid out the reasons she is dissatisfied with the current state of Black History Month. She wrote that the celebration is streamlined, black women and those with queer identities are often forgotten, and there is little focus on the present or future.
Newton said she welcomes discussions like the ones started from Guiliano’s hashtag, because too many important historical figures are left out of the public consciousness because they’re black, queer or a woman. “[They don’t] fit into the heteronormative, patriarchal narrative that is America.”
Newton echoes Guiliano’s sentiment that because she didn’t grow up learning about her own black heritage — people who played a role in history that looked like her — she has trouble forming an identity. “Because we don’t have that synthesis on black history, I can’t tell you who I am,” she said. “I can’t tell anyone anything about my heritage. And that’s really debilitating in a lot of ways.”Alisha Acquaye, a writer and recent college graduate who detailed her relationship with Black History Month in a column on XOJane, said she thinks the brutal truths of oppression are often forgotten in American classrooms in favor of a more palatable version of the story.
“Our history is definitely written in a way where a certain image, a certain perspective, a certain kind of pride is being molded,” she said. “Sometimes our eyes are blinded by positivity and we’re not seeing things for how they really are.”
Acquaye, 24, sees critiques of Black History Month like Newton as warranted. “We do need to talk about better ways to celebrate Black History Month, how we can discover or relearn people that were overlooked before.”
The ‘Crisis’ in American History
When Carter G. Woodson, an African-American historian, author, and journalist, began the tradition of celebrating black history in 1926, it was only a week long.
“Negro History Week” was a way of expanding the celebration of the birthdays of two individuals — Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass — into the commemoration of many other individuals and aspects of African-American history in the United States. The U.S. government first recognized Black History Month in 1976.
Dr. Daryl Michael Scott, professor of history at Howard University and president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, which Woodson founded, said that it was not Woodson’s intention for African-American history to be relegated only to a certain amount of time.
“[Woodson] believed that Negro History Week should be the culmination of a year of study in the schools about various aspects of the black past,” Scott said. “So rather than being just one week of the year, the study of the black past would be part of the parcel of the study of history itself.”
Scott said he’s heard many young black people echo the concerns Guiliano and Newton had about a streamlining of African-American history.
“Woodson would agree with them 100 percent,” Scott said. “In effect, one could say there’s much to be done yet, and that we have not been true to the vision that Carter G. Woodson had.”
As Scott sees it, though, black history is lacking because the state of all American history is inadequate. “The crisis in American history amplifies the problems we’re having in getting a more serious study of black history,” he said.
“We complain about people only knowing about Martin Luther King and Harriet Tubman, the same five people,” Scott continued. “I daresay the average American doesn’t know who James Madison is, the father of the Constitution.”
“There’s this thirst for history that exists in the African-American community that has no true counterpart in the mainstream culture,” he said. “We are now almost officially the keepers of the American memory because nobody else wants to remember.”
For Scott, there’s a real danger in allowing the state of American history education to deteriorate. “Americans are mis-educated. They don’t know themselves, they don’t know what they’ve built, and therefore it can so easily be taken away from them,” he said.
The Future of Black History
While black youth may have critiques about the current state of Black History Month, there is no shortage of ideas and efforts to change the way we celebrate it in the future.
Acquaye says she is seeing more of a connection between the past and present. “Black History Month isn’t only about the history, it’s also about influence and about the culture,” she said. “That’s another way we can celebrate Black History Month.”
“Nowadays, more and more of us are able to discuss people of various sexualities, gender identities, mental and physical disabilities, cultures, and races, and how these differences have led to their experiences of discrimination and racism in America,” she wrote in her column. “We are becoming more aware of what we need to work on.”
Newton is excited about a renewed dialogue centering on black history, because it’s an opportunity to connect injustices of the past to those black Americans face today. “Yes, we respect our history and it’s so important to us, but we are trying to take that history and better connect it to who we are now, and further connect it to where we want to go in the future.”
The call for more comprehensive black history education from a new generation may very well be what saves history education in the U.S., as professor Scott suggests. Guiliano says the dialogue on social media has been a learning experience for everyone.
“It’s a collective learning initiative,” he said. “While I’ve been educating people, I’ve also been learning from others because they’ve been sending me names I’ve never heard before, which is an awesome experience.”
The post A new generation of voices takes back Black History Month appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — The former No. 2 agent at the Secret Service is moving to Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a “senior adviser” for cybercrime after being forced out of the agency charged with protecting the president, according to an internal email obtained by The Associated Press.
Alvin “A.T.” Smith resigned under pressure earlier this week. In a three-paragraph statement the Secret Service said Smith had accepted a new position within in the Homeland Security Department. Both agencies are part of DHS.
ICE Director Sarah Saldana announced Smith’s appointment to her staff Friday. She said Smith would contribute to “ICE’s fight against transnational cyber criminals.”
DHS initially refused to disclose what Smith would do at ICE, saying only that he was transferring to that agency’s Homeland Security Investigations unit.
Smith was among the last senior Secret Service officials left unscathed after a shake-up that started with the forced resignation of then-Director Julia Pierson in October. Four other senior leaders, including the man in charge of protection operations, were ousted last month. Three of those officials have since announced plans to retire and a fourth has transferred to Customs and Border Protection, also a DHS agency.
Amid the upheaval at the Secret Service lawmakers, including House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, criticized Smith, saying he was at the center of bad decisions made in a series of Secret Service scandals.
Smith, a senior-level executive who eared as much as $183,000 at the Secret Service, spent 29 years with the agency and is nearing retirement. Federal law enforcement officers are forced off the job at 57.
Because of his high rank, Smith could have been fired for misconduct or poor performance. Unlike lower-level government employees, very few rules protect a high-level job, said Carol Bonosaro of the nonprofit Senior Executives Association, a professional group that advocates for top-level government workers.
Secret Service Acting Director Joseph Clancy could have transferred Smith within the agency, but Clancy wouldn’t have authority to transfer him to another agency within the Homeland Security Department, Bonosaro said. But Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson does have the authority to transfer Smith to another DHS agency, she added.
Johnson last year pledged that “ethics in government, setting the example and remaining above reproach are essential elements of good leadership.”
Johnson has not commented on Smith’s transfer.
The post Former Secret Service No. 2 now cybercrime adviser at Immigration and Customs Enforcement appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Take a bite out of this: genetically modified apples that won’t brown when sliced or bruised have been cleared for growing in the United States.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved two varieties of biotech apples developed by Canadian company Okanagan Specialty Fruits — one called Arctic Granny, and the other Arctic Golden.
Okanagan president Neal Carter lauded the USDA’s decision.
“The commercial approval of Arctic apples, our company’s flagship product, is the biggest milestone yet for us, and we can’t wait until they’re available for consumers,” Carter said in a statement.
He also maintained that the apples’ “nutrition and composition is equivalent to their conventional counterparts.”
But many are wary of Arctic apples. The U.S. Apple Association — which represents the nation’s apple industry — believes they could harm the fruit’s wholesome, healthy image. Additionally, The Organic Consumer’s Association says the genetic modifications could be harmful to human health, and is calling on food outlets not to use the apples.
Despite push-back, the USDA maintains that Arctic apples are “not likely to have a significant impact on the human environment.” The apples are now undergoing a voluntary safety assessment with the Food and Drug Administration.
American Ted Ligety won the giant slalom race at the Alpine World Ski Championships in Beaver Creek, Colorado today. Fifth after the first run, he came back to beat rival Marcel Hirscher of Austria by nearly half a second. This is the third consecutive time he’s taken gold in the event.
“It’s like the mini Olympics for ski racing,” Ligety said of the Championships, especially with the biannual competition being held on home soil for the first time since 1999. After the race, he told NBC, “I love racing in the U.S. It’s really an anomaly for us.”
Ligety was among the favorites going into the race, having dominated the giant slalom for much of the last few seasons. Also the reigning Olympic gold medalist, his success can largely be attributed to his mastery of new ski dimensions adopted by the international ski federation (FIS) prior to the 2011 season.
This year, however, has been more of a struggle for Ligety as his competitors — particularly Hirscher and Frenchman Alexis Pinturault — have begun to close the gap.
“In 2013 I was winning everything,” Ligety told NBC in his post-race interview. “This one was a bigger question mark. To be able to pull it off is awesome.”
Last week on the PBS NewsHour, we looked at the U.S. Ski Team’s hopes for big medal wins and greater recognition at the Alpine World Ski Championships. Watch that video above.
The post American skier Ted Ligety wins third giant slalom at Worlds appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
There are signs that perhaps more than 10 million will enroll, fewer than initially expected, but better than a revised estimate showed.
To fill us in on the latest, we’re joined again by Mary Agnes Carey Of Kaiser Health News and Susan Dentzer. She’s a health analyst for the “NewsHour.”
And it’s good to see you both again.
MARY AGNES CAREY, Kaiser Health News: Great to be back.
SUSAN DENTZER: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Time to talk health care.
So, Mary Agnes Carey, just overall, how has the process been going the second year?
MARY AGNES CAREY: Well, the Web site is a lot better. It actually works, and that’s better for everyone trying to enroll.
And the federal government said that right now we have got about 10 million people who have enrolled and picked a plan, most of those people, about 7.75 million, with the federal exchanges. That’s in about 37 states, and the rest are from the state-run exchanges.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, how many of these who are signing up, how many of them are people who are returning, who were part of the system last year, and how many are new?
MARY AGNES CAREY: About 42 percent of those individuals are new enrollees and about 58 percent are re-enrolled.
But what we don’t know about that 58 percent that’s important, did they actively re-enroll in their plan or did they pick a new plan? And that’s important, because if you didn’t go back and evaluate the price of the plan, the subsidy, how much it could buy, you could end up with a subsidy that buys less. You could end up in a plan that costs you more or costs you less if you are automatically reinvolved and didn’t evaluate that for yourself.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So those are factors that are being watched?
MARY AGNES CAREY: Absolutely. And we will know more about it later in the year.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Susan, we were just — as we were saying, the administration has — the expectation number has shifted. It was 10 million. Then it was lowered, but now it looks like it’s going to be better than that. What’s going on?
SUSAN DENTZER: Well, it is the fact the case that the administration was expecting a maximum of 9.9 million to enroll in this open enrollment period, and it looks like we overshot that. It looks it is higher than 10 million.
That’s still lower than what others had estimated, including the Congressional Budget Office, which was estimating 12 million enrollees. But it looks like we will probably come in about in the middle, 10 million, 11 million people.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Why do they think it isn’t higher? Is there — are they pinpointing what the challenges still are out there?
SUSAN DENTZER: Well, for one thing, it’s hard to get people who haven’t already had coverage to sign up. We know that that’s the case.
We also know that the Congressional Budget Office, for example, was expecting more employers to drop coverage and send their workers to exchanges, and that hasn’t happened. Employers have actually stuck with their coverage. So that accounts for the Congressional Budget Office lowering its estimates about how many people would actually buy coverage through the exchanges.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And I know you have been looking at gender as well. You’re seeing more women signing up than men? What’s that about?
SUSAN DENTZER: It’s fascinating. For the second year running, about 10 percentage points more women are signing up than men. This year, it’s about 55 percent of the enrollees are women, 45 percent are men.
Now, we don’t have any reason to believe that more women are uninsured than men, so what explains this? Nobody really knows. People fall back on explanations like, well, women just care more about health and health care sometimes, and they are the primary buyers of health care for their families. Maybe that explains it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: More contentious?
SUSAN DENTZER: Well, and what we also see, interestingly, is of people who got covered last year who actually used their coverage, the signs are that a lot of the people who used their coverage were older women with chronic illness.
So these are women who really needed coverage and they’re using it. They’re using it to get care for conditions that they have.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, Mary Agnes, you looked especially at Latinos and how the sign-up is going among that group. What did you find?
MARY AGNES CAREY: It’s improving.
This is a key demographic for the health law. They tend to be younger and healthier. These are people you want in the risk pool. And the Department of Health and Human Services decided to donate — to devote, rather, a third of its media budget this year to Latino outreach and enrollment vs. 10 percent last year.
But it’s still kind of a rough road for a variety of reasons. Like many people who haven’t had health insurance before, many Latinos are confused about the process. They’re trying to work their way through deductibles and co-pays and premiums and so on.
Many people I spoke with who are uninsured now, Latinos, said, in the past, we just paid cash. So, even with a premium subsidy, they’re wondering whether it’s worth their while in some cases to enroll. But they’re definitely the focus of outreach in enrollment. There are many events across the country focused on this demographic group.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you mentioned the subsidy.
Hanging out there is the realization — and you both talked to us about this — that the tax penalty is out there for people who don’t sign up, Susan. It’s going up. That’s on the one hand. On the other hand, we’re looking at the possibility — or the prospect of the Supreme Court looking at a case which could end up with these subsidies that Mary Agnes just mentioned being declared unconstitutional.
So, how are people, how are the experts dealing with all this?
SUSAN DENTZER: Well, people are focusing on the fact that the penalties do go up, as you said, for — there are different ways to calculate the penalty, but more or less the penalties for not having coverage in 2015 are two to three times higher than they were the first year around.
For example, one level of calculating it, individual penalty went from $95 in 2014 to $325 in 2015, so dramatic jump. So there is that issue. We will get — next month, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the case, King vs. Burwell, that you’re alluding to. And in fact that would — that is going to have the court look at this issue of whether subsidies that go to help purchase coverage apply to coverage purchased through these state-based exchanges or through all the exchanges, including the federal ones.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
So, just quickly, Mary Agnes, creating kind of a push-pull going on here? Sign up, because you will be penalized if you don’t. On the other hand, the whole thing could change.
MARY AGNES CAREY: Right.
And the thing about this is, a lot of people won’t even know about the penalty until they go to file their taxes, if they haven’t paid attention to Affordable Care Act in enrollment. I talked to people at — recently who were saying they didn’t even realize that there was this mandate to purchase coverage until they went up to sign up for their taxes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s fascinating. One more check-in. And I know we’re going to be talking to both of you again.
Mary Agnes Carey, Susan Dentzer, thank you.
MARY AGNES CAREY: Thank you.
SUSAN DENTZER: Thanks, Judy
The post Will the White House hit their health care enrollment goal? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
In the wake of major hacks against health insurer Anthem and Sony Pictures, the president told executives they need to share more information.
But today’s summit also comes amid growing tensions between tech companies and the administration over privacy and civil liberties, a point the president acknowledged.
BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: In all our work, we have to make sure we are protecting the privacy and civil liberty of the American people. Now, we grapple with these issues in government.
We have pursued important reforms to make sure we are respecting people’s privacy, as well as ensuring our national security. And the private sector wrestles with this as well.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Several CEOs of top tech companies, including Google, Facebook and Yahoo!, didn’t attend, reportedly over anger and disappointment about a lack of reform in the government’s broad surveillance programs.
The revelations about the government’s reach are the subject of a documentary nominated for an Academy Award.
Jeffrey Brown picks it up from there, part of our series the “NewsHour” Goes to the Movies.
EDWARD SNOWDEN, Leaked Details of U.S. Surveillance: My name is Edward Snowden. I go by Ed. Edward Joseph Snowden is the full name.
JEFFREY BROWN: The documentary “Citizenfour” brings us into a Hong Kong hotel room as former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden reveals secrets that would make for blockbuster headlines beginning in June 2013: the large-scale collection of phone and Internet data by the U.S. government.
EDWARD SNOWDEN: Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded.
JEFFREY BROWN: News organization would publish stories of a massive database, assembled since 2006, under the Patriot Act, collecting call data from millions of phone company customers, and tapping into the central servers of major Internet companies.
For some, Snowden was a free speech hero. In the film, he explains his decision to eventually make his identity known.
EDWARD SNOWDEN: These are public issues. These are not my issues. These are everybody’s issues. And I’m not afraid you. And you’re not going to bully me into silence, like you’ve done to everybody else.
And if nobody else is going to do it, I will. And, hopefully, when I’m gone, whatever you do to me, there will be somebody else who will do the same thing.
JEFFREY BROWN: But others, including President Obama, called on Snowden to come back to the U.S. and face charges for espionage.
BARACK OBAMA: No, I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot. So, the fact is, is that Mr. Snowden has been charged with three felonies. If, in fact, he believes that what he did was right, then, like every American citizen, he can come here, appear before the court with a lawyer and make his case.
JEFFREY BROWN: Beginning with encrypted e-mails and then in Hong Kong, Snowden met with and told his story to journalist Glenn Greenwald, then with The Guardian newspaper, and filmmaker Laura Poitras, the director of the Oscar-nominated documentary.
I spoke to the two earlier this afternoon.
Welcome to both of you.
Laura Poitras, let me ask you, what did you want the film to do that the steady drumbeat of news revelations could not do? Why a film?
LAURA POITRAS, Director, “Citizenfour”: Well, as a document filmmaker, what I try to do is — it has all the components of journalism. It has to be truthful and factual, but really it’s about saying something about bigger issues.
So, for me, this was looking at the story both of the NSA, but like what — individual stories of courage, not just Edward Snowden, but William Binney, other whistle-blowers who are coming forward. And it’s also very much a film looking at journalism. So, as a documentary filmmaker, I want to make something that can be seen and be interesting today and in 10 years from now.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, Glenn Greenwald, we’re watching a film in which you are actor in a real sense. How did you see your role working with Edward Snowden?
GLENN GREENWALD, “Citizenfour”: I didn’t feel like an actor an all. I felt like what I was, which was a journalist pursuing a really big story.
And it just so happened that my journalistic colleague, who happens to be a filmmaker as well, filmed it because we had a good sense that this was something significant and important.
JEFFREY BROWN: The critics of Edward Snowden would look at what you were doing as collaborating with him, in a sense, working with him to bring out this story.
GLENN GREENWALD: This is a standard accusation that gets made to delegitimize journalism.
But what we did was classic journalism. We had a whistle-blower come to us with secrets that he thought shouldn’t have been concealed, that the public had a right to know, and he asked us to use the standard journalistic process of reporting it. And that’s exactly what we did, and we feel extremely good about that.
JEFFREY BROWN: Laura Poitras, the film plays like a thriller. How did it feel in that room? What was it like with Edward Snowden? Were you surprised when you finally met him?
LAURA POITRAS: Yes.
I mean, we didn’t manufacture the kind of thriller aspects to it. That actually came with the story. I mean, I started receiving anonymous e-mails from a stranger making claims of, you know, mass government surveillance, you know, and then we met in Hong Kong.
So it actually felt very much like a thriller from my perspective. There were a lot of unknowns. So, when Glenn and I went, we were very surprised when we met somebody who was much younger than we expected. We expected to meet somebody who was in his 50s, so it took us a bit of time to adjust to that.
The person that we met was somebody who was incredibly calm in the circumstances that he had put himself in, given the risks he was taking.
JEFFREY BROWN: Glenn Greenwald, fast-forward now. Is there evidence that we can point to that collecting the data has harmed people? Is it the fear of it? Is it the idea of it, or is it — is there actual harm?
GLENN GREENWALD: Oh, there’s all kinds of harm.
I mean, we have been able to report on the targeting of political dissidents, of people who visit Web sites like WikiLeaks who have their data trapped, targeting on economic conferences, on the U.N., eavesdropping on people while they negotiate trade agreements.
But, you know, I think that, more broadly, it is the fact that knowing that you live in a surveillance state chills the actions of not just journalists, but human rights activists and political organizers and lawyers and psychologists and medical professionals, people who need secrecy.
JEFFREY BROWN: And how do you see Edward Snowden even now?
GLENN GREENWALD: I see him as somebody who did what we should want people in government and with access to secrets to do, like Daniel Ellsberg, who is widely considered a hero, which is when someone like that discovers something that the public ought to have known about.
And he did that knowing that he was putting his life and his liberty in jeopardy. And to me, it’s an incredibly admirable act. Democracy depends on having people like Edward Snowden.
JEFFREY BROWN: But even many people who are glad to know about the information think that he should come back, that he should be tried, that he should pay the price for an act of civil disobedience.
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, I mean, it’s, I guess, pretty easy to say, well, Edward Snowden should just come back and submit to a cage for the rest of his life, but I don’t really think that that’s his obligation to do.
He’s been given political asylum. And I think, unfortunately — Daniel Ellsberg, who did submit to the judicial system in 1972, wrote an op-ed early on in The Washington Post saying, in the United States, in the post-9/11 era, if you are accused of national security leaks, it’s been proven that your conviction is virtually guaranteed and that you do not get a fair trial.
And he said, Edward Snowden is absolutely right to have sought asylum in another country because his political rights would be abused, rather than protected.
JEFFREY BROWN: Laura Poitras, since the revelations have come out, there’s been a lot of talk of reforms, calls for reforms from the president, from Congress, from tech companies. Do you see any changes that have come from Snowden’s revelations?
LAURA POITRAS: We’re seeing a lot of changes happening in the tech companies.
I think that the disclosures have created an awareness of the need for privacy that they know the customers are going to want. So we have seen a lot of changes happening there. We see that Google is using encryption of its servers when it was disclosed that the NSA was sort of tapping into their servers.
So we have seen those kinds of changes. What we have seen less of is government changes. And then, also, Glenn and I have been reporting internationally. There’s — I think, internationally, there’s a shift of consciousness around the threat and dangers of the kind of indiscriminate mass surveillance that we have disclosed.
JEFFREY BROWN: And what do you want people or companies or governments to take from the film? Do you want some action from the film?
LAURA POITRAS: I make films because I really believe in the power of communicating.
And so how people then use that information, you know, that’s up to them. So I do hope that it raises awareness and maybe takes an issue that’s abstract and makes it a bit more human or visceral, so you can understand the consequences.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the film is “Citizenfour.”
Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, thank you both very much.
GLENN GREENWALD: Thank you. Appreciate it.
LAURA POITRAS: Thank you.
The post Watching Snowden’s pivotal moments in ‘Citizenfour’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Science correspondent Miles O’Brien had much of his left arm amputated last year after an accident while on a reporting trip for the “NewsHour.” He has since been exploring leaps forward for modern prosthetics.
Last night, he tested a prototype robotic arm, and, tonight, one of the hardest things to replicate that might finally be within reach.
His story is part of our Breakthroughs series.
WOMAN: Blindfold first, and feel free to adjust it as needed, OK?
MILES O’BRIEN: A hand without a sense of touch isn’t really a hand at all. It’s more like a pair of pliers. Watch blindfolded hand amputee Igor Spetic try to pick up some blocks using a prosthetic without a sense of touch. It’s not very productive.
That was no sensation?
IGOR SPETIC, Test Subject: No sensation.
MILES O’BRIEN: And so you were just…
IGOR SPETIC: Going blind, literally going blind.
MILES O’BRIEN: Now watch what happens when the sensory perception is turned on. It’s like night and day.
IGOR SPETIC: But then when I grab it, if I grab it just right, I feel all three fingers, if I grab it right, or two fingers. Then I know I have it. Then I move it over and drop it.
MILES O’BRIEN: Is it your phantom hand that you’re feeling it in? Or is…
IGOR SPETIC: Oh, it don’t feel phantom to me when I grab a block. To me, it feels like my hand. Feels like something between my two fingers that’s vibrating.
MILES O’BRIEN: For Igor, who lost his hand in an industrial accident four years ago, something powered by a battery and made of plastic, metal and silicon can become his hand.
This is what every upper limb amputee like me dreams of, not just wearing a functional tool, becoming whole. But I probably shouldn’t get my hopes up too high.
DUSTIN TYLER, Case Western Reserve University: Will you have your hand? No. Will you have something that will make you forget you don’t have a hand? yes.
Well, this speaks to the next phase we want to get to, of course, which is the implanted EMG electrodes directly into the muscle.
That is biomedical engineer Dustin Tyler. He is a researcher at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland VA Medical Center.
DUSTIN TYLER: When you feel, when you see this prosthesis touch something, you feel it, not up here, but actually in your fingertip that’s visually colocated with the prosthesis. That’s a pretty big jump to being back to who you are.
MILES O’BRIEN: He is hoping to find way for amputees to access the untapped potential of a new generation of prosthetic arms.
MILES O’BRIEN: As I discovered at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, researchers have made a lot of progress engineering an arm with near human capability. It was able to decipher the electrical patterns of muscle contractions in my stump. I was able to turn that into fine motor control with relative ease.
DUSTIN TYLER: Sensory is a completely different game, very much more complex, because you stimulate, but then it goes up into the brain and it goes through a bunch of things to the complex ideas of perception, like, what do you feel and how do you feel it. That’s a much more complicated process.
MILES O’BRIEN: The problem is twofold. Touch sensors for prosthetics need improvement. But the bigger challenge is making sensory information understandable and useful to an amputee.
DUSTIN TYLER: So, what we’re looking at is the X-ray of his arm. Probably, this was a couple of weeks after surgery.
MILES O’BRIEN: In 2011, surgeons implanted electrodes that encircle the three main sensory nerve bundles in Igor’s injured arm.
DUSTIN TYLER: And what you’re looking at here is the three different electrodes, and so you can see kind of the points here in the device itself. This is on the ulnar nerve. This is another one that is up on the median nerve. And this is the one that is on the radial nerve.
IGOR SPETIC: That’s the index finger being activated?
MILES O’BRIEN: Sensors in the prosthetic hand that Igor wears transmit impulses through a computer and these wires into the electrodes inside his arm. The electrodes stimulate the sensory nerves they’re attached to, and Igor’s brain does the rest.
IGOR SPETIC: So, in my mind, I actually feel like I’m doing this when I have it between both fingers.
MILES O’BRIEN: Really? And is it second nature to you now?
IGOR SPETIC: Yes.
MILES O’BRIEN: You don’t have to think about it so much?
IGOR SPETIC: No, I don’t have to think about it so much.
MILES O’BRIEN: Igor is able to feel this way with 20 channels of sensory data delivered by the implanted electrodes. It’s staticky AM radio compared to the high-definition sensory capability we’re born with.
DUSTIN TYLER: To control the hand, for example, normally, there’s thousands of axons, thousand of little tiny wires that go and control individual parts of the fingers.
We right now can talk to 10. Right? So you can imagine that that connection, it’s that interface that still needs to be worked on. And that’s where we’re making progress. But, yes, we’re still behind what the biology can do from the engineering perspective.
MILES O’BRIEN: Across the country in a lab at UCLA, mechanical engineer Veronica Santos is trying to close that gap.
VERONICA SANTOS, UCLA Biomechatronics Lab: For a long time, people have been trying to build robots that emulate humans, but there’s now a way that we can actually directly impact someone’s quality of life by building a robot that becomes part of someone’s body.
MILES O’BRIEN: Here, in Dr. Santos’ Biomechatronics Lab, they’re constructing a language of touch that a computer and a human can both understand.
They’re quantifying this with mechanical touch sensors that meet objects of varied shapes, sizes and textures. Using an array of instrumentation, they are able to transact that interaction into data a computer can understand.
VERONICA SANTOS: So, for example, Miles, as you put your hand in there to stop it, we would be able to record the posture of the finger when it came in contact with you, as well as the general areas of the fingertips that were making contact and how much pressure there was or how much the skin was deforming as you made contact.
But those are the types of raw percepts that you would give to someone and then with training they would put it all together and say, hey, I think I’m touching something deformable or soft.
MILES O’BRIEN: The training includes machine learning. The data is used to create a formula or algorithm that gives the computer the ability to each common patterns between the items it has in its library of experience and something it has never felt before.
VERONICA SANTOS: So, we’re interested in developing this idea of artificial haptic intelligence.
MILES O’BRIEN: Making haptic sensation useful for an amputee is the big challenge.
Prosthetic and robotic technology has far surpassed the ability of an amputee to command a limb or understand what the device is sensing. The bottleneck is melding the technology with the biology.
VERONICA SANTOS: I think one of the challenges is understanding how much information can you flood someone with before, you know, they just — they can’t make use of it?
I think, in a perfect world, if we did our job right, you wouldn’t even know we’d done our job. Your prosthetic hand would feel like your native limb, where all of the robotics, algorithms and intelligence that we have built in at the very low level acts just like your spinal cord. You don’t even know they’re there. All you know is, it’s more fun to use this arm, it’s easier to use the arm, and our job would be done.
MILES O’BRIEN: Step by step, researchers are finding ways to let amputees know what they’re feeling and how hard they’re squeezing. Dustin Tyler is working to make his technology implantable, like a pacemaker. For now, the work is confined to a lab.
Igor Spetic looks forward to the day he can take his touchy hand home.
IGOR SPETIC: I have always said I want to feel what it’s like holding my wife’s hand again after four years.
MILES O’BRIEN: This will mean a lot for amputees, won’t it?
IGOR SPETIC: I hope so. One little step forward, it’s big to me.
MILES O’BRIEN: It’s a huge step forward.
IGOR SPETIC: If I get it, I get it. If the next person gets it, that’s even better.
MILES O’BRIEN: Thanks to you, Igor, I might be one of those people.
But, for now, I must make do with the tried-and-true body-powered hook. It’s reliable, rugged and easily repaired, well-suited for my far-flung adventures in the field. But, for me, it’s too hot, too uncomfortable, and not useful enough to wear all the time.
So, mostly, I do without. It turns out navigating with one arm in a bimanual world is not only possible. With some creative thinking, a few gadgets and practice, it becomes trivial. Sometimes low-tech or no-tech is really all I need, for now.
Miles O’Brien, the “PBS NewsHour,” Washington.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Pretty remarkable. Miles is a courageous guy.
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Jonathan Miller reports from a camp where thousands are seeking refuge and he meets a young woman who was recently held captive alongside the abducted schoolgirls.
JONATHAN MILLER: In the heat and the dust, there’s a desperate scramble for handouts for those left with nothing. Bereft, disenfranchised and broken by Boko Haram, these survivors of rebel attacks across Northeastern Nigeria live hand-to-mouth, with little or no help from their government, 2,000 in this informal camp on the outskirts of Abuja, no money, no food, no work, no hope of heading back home.
MAN (through translator): So many places, 27 local governments affected in Borno, all has been target to Boko Haram.
MAN (through translator): When they start burning the houses, everybody — everybody will run away from the houses. Then they will fetch out all the men from there. Anyone that they fetch, they may kill him.
JONATHAN MILLER: If you have had one of your relatives killed by Boko Haram, would you raise your arm? Oh, so many of you.
A chorus of voices. “All of us,” they say. For some, it’s their father. For some, it’s their husband, brothers or children. “My mother,” says one. Some miscarried. Others buried their husbands before starting walking for miles.
Every single person who has fled the scorched-earth rampage of Boko Haram has a horrifying story to tell. Many still shudder at the very sound of their name. They have turned lives upside-down, split up families, looted, burned, raped, murdered, and kidnapped.
And it was when I was talking to one kidnap victim that she told me that she had been held with some of the lost Chibok girls as recently as three months ago.
Monica (ph) was abducted, then marched for weeks into the Sambisa forest, the lair of Boko Haram. For three days, last November, she was held with 24 of the missing 219 schoolgirls from Chibok.
WOMAN (through translator): They just spend their time thinking about their parents and crying. I would comfort them and tell them that they should have faith and that, with God’s help, he will open a way for them to go home.
I would say to them it’s not your fault. You were just trying to get an education. Look, even when they say they want to sell you, keep your faith in God and pray.
JONATHAN MILLER: This is the first news of any of them since this video eight months ago purporting to show their forced conversion to Islam. Monica says they remained true to their Christian faith. She said they’d been coerced to cook for their captors, but were unharmed, just terribly homesick. They had been divided into several small groups.
When Monica escaped, she walked for days through the bush with no food. Her baby died on the way. She says she is haunted by memories of the day Boko Haram attacked and burned down her village and her young life changed forever.
WOMAN (through translator): When they came into village, I was terrified. I was actually pregnant. We ran to the mountain. I was so scared. Even now, my body shakes with fear when I hear the words Boko Haram.
JONATHAN MILLER: There is now a vast tract of this country where going to school is an act of defiance, but there’s not a schoolchild in Nigeria who doesn’t know of the girls from Chibok and will rejoice in the news that we now know some of them are alive.
The post Former captive brings news about school girls held by Boko Haram appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
To analyze it all, Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
So, a lot to talk about.
The toughest news of the week had to be the confirmation of the death of the American aid worker Kayla Mueller at the hands of ISIS.
Mark, it raises the question, how is this administration, how is the United States doing at dealing with ISIS and specifically this authorization of force, for the use of force the president sent to Congress? Does it look like they have struck the right formula there?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, first on Kayla Mueller, I mean, this is a woman who devoted her life generously, from every report, just comforting the afflicted. And so the tragedy of her death is even compounded more by the life she led and the loss she leaves.
Judy, ISIS and the Middle East remain a Rubik’s Cube that the United States has not figured out. Everything over there is five-sided, and we just — we haven’t figured out — and this is not a war to be won. They are a force to be controlled, to be reduced, to be managed.
But this is not — we are really not going to reintroduce American ground troops into the area. We can to some degree restrict their military effectiveness. But that is the reality. We have already done that once in this century. We sent American ground troops in. And we’re not going to do it.
As far as the authorization of force, a shout-out to Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. Alone, he’s been a voice for several months saying, we’re sending Americans into combat, into harm’s way. We are at war. The Congress has abdicated its responsibility by not declaring or confronting that or dealing with it or passing any sort of resolution. It’s the most solemn responsibility the Congress has, and they have ducked it. They ducked it through the election.
The White House was thrilled not to have a vote. Every White House, including this one, doesn’t want — they want carte blanche. They want to decide when to use power. They don’t want their — quote — “hands tied.”
And so we’re finally going to have a debate in this country. And I think Senator Kaine deserves — of Virginia — deserves a lot of credit for forcing the hand of the administration.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David, the language in this request that the White House sent over for authorizing it, does it get us, the United States, any closer to handling all this?
DAVID BROOKS: No, it’s ambivalent.
I don’t understand why we have an authorization of use of force that includes not only the ends, which seems to me legitimate — that is what should be in this — but the means and the process and the duration. I don’t know why we need to put that in the use of force. It lasts three years, we’re not going to this, we’re going to do this.
If we’re going to use force, then we should do what the president and the military leadership think is proper. And that shouldn’t be in the authorization, it seems to me.
The killing of the hostages is an outrage, but not really the most important thing that’s going on over there. I happened to be in conversation with a bunch of financial analysts this week. And I asked them, what’s the biggest threat to the world economy? And I expected them to say the Greek — euro crisis, whatever.
They both independently said ISIS. If ISIS takes over the Middle East or destabilizes the Middle East, that is an economic cataclysm with human suffering.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Because of oil?
DAVID BROOKS: Because of oil, because of just the destabilization of this most fragile region of the country.
And so I think I disagree with Mark a little. The Middle East has always been the Middle East. For 5,000 years, it’s been a troubled zone. The Islamic State seems to be a new order, a new order of magnitude, a new sort of threat building an ideological threat, a unique level of evil, even by the standards of the Middle East.
And so I think taking them on and containing — I agree. We’re not going to put in land troops and all that kind of stuff. But containing them seems to be a higher order than anything we have faced in the Middle East for a long, long time. And the president and future presidents should do what they need to do to do that. And they shouldn’t have sort of resolutions which are really resolutions of ambivalence.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But the administration is being criticized, Mark, at least what I am reading, for not being specific enough, I mean, for — they need to say more about what they’re going to do. David’s point, it seems to me, is they didn’t need to say as much as they did.
MARK SHIELDS: Well, they have said whatever — they wouldn’t have a permanent land force is what they have said, but they would have freedom, the next president, including this one, for the three years it would be in force, would have the authority to pursue ISIS or its sister-brother groups throughout the region.
So there isn’t a geographical restriction. So he’s facing some criticism from both sides, from both Democrats, who want it more limited, and Republicans, who want this large mandate still uncharted.
Judy, I just don’t understand where this fits in in terms of how we define what the objective is. I mean, how will we know when we have won? I mean, for thousands of years, it’s been the dream of a caliphate in that area, of a Muslim caliphate throughout that area.
And we’re not going to end that dream or that — we might — this latest iteration, we can control it, we can debase it, but we’re not going to totally eliminate that. And I just think that is something that — I welcome the debate. I really want to hear everybody be heard on this, because it is really an unsolvable — unsolvable mystery now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re saying nobody has the correct formula?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think there are certain things about which there is a national consensus.
We’re not going to stick ground troops in. There is a national consensus. Nobody wants to do that. We need to degrade ISIS. There is a national consensus about that. I just would like to see leadership which affirmatively for that goal, not one foot in and one foot out.
And this has been symptomatic of the Obama presidency with a lot of issues on foreign affairs, that we’re going in, we’re not going in. We put some boundaries about what we’re going to do, but we crash through those boundaries. We declare red lines, but we don’t act on the red lines.
There’s just been a lot of half seesaw action. And it seems to me, if ISIS is worth going after, it’s worth going after. If you’re going to take Vienna, take Vienna. And so I don’t know what the war will involve. I don’t think anybody can know what the war will involve in the years coming forward, but it seems to me there’s nobody been like ISIS before.
Hafez Assad was not like ISIS. The Saudi regime was not like ISIS. Yasser Arafat was certainly not like ISIS. This is something different and more threatening.
MARK SHIELDS: Just one quick thing, Judy. There’s a lot of politics involved here, the unwillingness to take a stand and to be heard and to vote.
The last time the Congress did this, you will recall, was 2002, when they gave up the authority to President Bush to go into, invade and occupy Iraq. And the Democrats who voted for that, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd basically killed their presidential chances. And that gave the opening for Barack Obama.
So, they’re mindful of this. In 1964, the Congress, 535 people, two, Wayne Morse of Oregon and Ernest Gruening of Alaska, were the only two who voted against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which led to 550,000 Americans in Vietnam.
So there is some history, there’s some precedent, and there’s understandably some political wariness.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Two other things I want to ask you about.
One is Congress wrestling, David, with the president’s immigration executive order. It’s gotten tied up in funding for the Department of Homeland Security at a time when you would think the country would be focused on homeland security. The Republicans are pointing fingers at the Democrats, saying they’re holding all this up, but Republicans aren’t agreeing with each other about what to do about it in the House and Senate.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. And the Republicans run the Congress, so they get ultimate responsibility.
It is turning from sort of a comedy to a farce to a travesty. Why have they started their reign as majority parties in both houses with this, with, A, something they’re bound to lose? They do not have 60 votes in the Senate, so they’re bound to lose.
Why have they started with this, with a measure where the House and the Senate, even on the Republican side, can’t get together, and then in the atmosphere of the past three or four years in which shutting down the government has turned into a code word for dysfunction?
And so why do you want to walk into this, something you’re not doing well, something badly you’re not doing well? And so just as a question of leadership, not even ideology — it’s just competent leadership. I don’t understand why they’re here.
MARK SHIELDS: I agree with David.
The Wall Street Journal, scorching editorial this week on the Republican leadership in its first month, and not flying well and dividing themselves, rather than Democrats. The Wall Street Journal editorial page attacking Republicans is like L’Osservatore Romano going after the pope.
MARK SHIELDS: This is not where you expect to take incoming criticism.
So I think it’s — they are going to have to back down. The House has done what it does. It passes symbolic legislation that is going nowhere; 57 times, they have repealed Obamacare. That’s what they did in this case. And they sent it over to the Senate, and it’s going to die there. It’s on the Republicans’ doorstep.
JUDY WOODRUFF: One last thing I want to make time for is just a tumultuous and in many ways bad week for the media, Brian Williams suspended at NBC News, the death of David Carr, of Bob Simon with CBS, but David Carr, the media critic for The Times, and of course the news from Jon Stewart.
David, on the Brian Williams question, I guess what I’m curious to know is, does that reflect on everyone in the media? How does the media come out of this episode?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
I don’t think it reflects us broadly. It speaks to a couple truths. The one is that no amount of public success is satisfying. You can have all the accolades in the world, be where Brian Williams was, at the tippy-top. Public fame is still empty and it still leaves you hungry, and you still want to brag a little more, on the hope that you will get what you want, which is some sort of adulation that will satisfy you.
But that never happens. That never comes. And so it just leaves you hungrier and hungrier. And I think that’s what we saw with Brian Williams, somebody who just wanted to be seen a little cooler and so made up some stuff.
I personally think the reaction against him is way out of proportion to what he did. And I think we all have to cultivate a capacity for forgiveness, a rigorous forgiveness for what he did. And I personally hope he continues his job.
Just quickly on my colleague David Carr, who I wasn’t close with at all, it’s one — two lessons. There are second acts in American life. He had a drug-riddled first act. Second, it’s an encouragement to be yourself. He had an amazingly large personality, which he did not check ever. And it glowed in his prose and in his presence.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, you wanted to comment on David Carr.
MARK SHIELDS: David Carr — David Carr was the anti-New York Times man, if The New York Times is the guy who went to the best boarding schools, and knows the best wine and has two last names, basically.
DAVID BROOKS: He’s talking about me.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes, my friend David.
MARK SHIELDS: David Carr was larger than life. He was totally authentic. He was a brilliant journalist, a great reporter, unflinchingly honest, and incredibly thoughtful of everybody he came across, whether it was a waitress or the youngest intern.
He was just a wonderful, wonderful person, in addition to being this larger and colorful character.
As far as Brian Williams, I just want to echo what David said. Yes, it was self-inflicted, Judy, but this is a good and decent man. And the people in a rush to tap dance on his grave and provide the gallows and the rope to hang him, it just really is disturbing and unseemly.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I don’t think we have seen a week like this one in a long time.
Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you.
MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.
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