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- 03/04/15--09:16: _All-women Sweet Bri...
- 03/04/15--11:16: _This jawbone may ch...
- 03/04/15--11:54: _U.S. clears officer...
- 03/04/15--15:35: _Islamic State blunt...
- 03/04/15--15:40: _Boston bombing susp...
- 03/04/15--15:45: _Health care of 8 mi...
- 03/04/15--15:50: _News Wrap: Mexican ...
- 03/05/15--04:05: _Despite mixed views...
- 03/05/15--05:39: _Source: Obama couns...
- 03/05/15--05:54: _LBJ linked Latinos,...
- 03/05/15--08:35: _Knife-wielding man ...
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- 03/05/15--15:50: _News Wrap: March st...
- 03/06/15--06:04: _Obama: Racial bias ...
- 03/04/15--09:16: All-women Sweet Briar College decides to close after 114 years
- 03/04/15--11:16: This jawbone may change everything we know about early human history
- 03/04/15--15:35: Islamic State blunted by U.S. efforts, says Pentagon
- 03/04/15--15:40: Boston bombing suspect’s defense depends on why he did it, not if
- 03/04/15--15:45: Health care of 8 million on the line as Supreme Court hears ACA case
- 03/04/15--15:50: News Wrap: Mexican forces capture Zetas cartel leader
- 03/05/15--05:39: Source: Obama counsel not aware of Clinton’s email practice
- 03/05/15--05:54: LBJ linked Latinos, civil rights in ‘Selma’ speech
- 03/05/15--08:35: Knife-wielding man arrested after attack on U.S. ambassador
- 03/05/15--09:24: Video: Flight landing at LaGuardia skids off runway
- 03/05/15--11:32: McDonald’s McNugget will soon be antibiotic-free
- 03/05/15--12:42: Ringling Bros. to phase out elephants by 2018
- 03/05/15--12:51: An artist’s field guide to nature’s overlooked wonders
- 03/05/15--15:50: News Wrap: March storm roars, grounding flights and closing roads
- 03/06/15--06:04: Obama: Racial bias in Ferguson police department not isolated
Sweet Briar College announced Tuesday that it is shutting down at the end of this academic year.
Small colleges close or merge from time to time, more frequently since the economic downturn started in 2008. But the move is unusual in that Sweet Briar still has a meaningful endowment, regional accreditation and some well-respected programs. But college officials said that the trend lines were too unfavorable, and that efforts to consider different strategies didn’t yield any viable options. So the college decided to close now, with some sense of order, rather than drag out the process for several more years, as it could have done.Paul G. Rice, board chair, said in an interview that he realized some would ask, “Why don’t you keep going until the lights go out?”
But he said that doing so would be wrong.
“We have moral and legal obligations to our students and faculties and to our staff and to our alumnae. If you take up this decision too late, you won’t be able to meet those obligations,” he said. “People will carve up what’s left — it will not be orderly, nor fair.”
The news stunned many in higher education, who assumed that a college like Sweet Briar wouldn’t go under. And the announcement set off debates on whether the Sweet Briar board was courageous — or too quick to give up. Some experts predicted that the demise of Sweet Briar might prompt other boards to take a tougher assessment of their institutions’ own vulnerabilities.
Sweet Briar officials cited overarching challenges that the college has been unable to handle: the lack of interest from female high school students in attending a women’s college like Sweet Briar, declining interest in liberal arts colleges generally and eroding interest in attending colleges in rural areas. Sweet Briar is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.
“We are 30 minutes from a Starbucks,” said James F. Jones Jr., president of the college.
Jones said that these challenges intersected. Attracting students to a residential liberal arts college may require institutions to have extensive internship opportunities and nearby attractions. He stressed that the college’s leaders and board considered every possible alternative — including coeducation — and concluded nothing would help in any way other than to delay the inevitable.
Sweet Briar was founded in 1901, and has operated as a women’s liberal arts college throughout its history, known for small class sizes and close student-faculty interaction. The college is considered a pioneer in study abroad and operates a leading study abroad program in France. Sweet Briar’s equestrian program is also nationally acclaimed.
But in recent years, the college has been hit hard by sharp increases in the discount rate (the share off of tuition and other fees that students and their families actually pay), while enrollment declined. While applications were going up as a result of intense efforts by the admissions office, the yield (the proportion of admitted applicants who enroll) has been plummeting. Plenty of small private colleges have numbers not that different from some of those on the table that follow, with data provided by Sweet Briar (some figures aren’t available for this year):
At gatherings of private college administrators these days, there is constant discussion of the best strategy on discounting and tuition policy, and some experts believe that a high discount rate can work for a college — if the strategy results in more and more students (ideally students with solid academic ability) enrolling. But as the Sweet Briar numbers show, the discount rate has been rising as both enrollment and yield have been falling. And that’s unsustainable for most colleges.
When the economic downturn hit in 2008, Sweet Briar initially resisted the urge to increase its discount rate, then in the low 40s. But the class that enrolled in the fall of 2009 was 45 short of its target. Most of the missed target was from first-year students, and college officials believe that they lost students by not offering larger aid packages. A total enrollment that is off by a few dozen is a rounding error at many institutions, but at Sweet Briar that fall, the college suspended retirement payments and eliminated a few positions, and the then president worked for two weeks without pay.
Sweet Briar’s overall strategy has been to remain a women’s college focused on the liberal arts. Other women’s colleges in Virginia have taken different approaches — and faced plenty of controversy.
Mary Baldwin College has embarked on a plan to preserve its identity as a residential undergraduate liberal arts college by creating new colleges of education and health professions. College leaders say this approach will make the women’s residential college financially sustainable, but many professors fear that the institution’s liberal arts ideals are being compromised.
Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, meanwhile, renamed itself Randolph College and in 2007 started enrolling men. As has been the case at many women’s colleges making that decision, some alumnae objected. But more women’s colleges in recent years have followed the Randolph model.
Jones said that, at Sweet Briar, going coeducational did not seem like a simple solution. He said that such a move would have required lots of money for scholarships and facilities, and he wasn’t subtle about the purpose of the spending.
“We would need scholarships to basically buy males,” he said.
In addition, the college — while “woman’s” is not in its name — would have had to consider whether its name would work for a coeducational institution.
“The endowment we have never could have supported a move to coeducation,” Jones said.
Jones also said that he was increasingly convinced that it is becoming more difficult to recruit students to colleges in rural locations.
Before joining Sweet Briar (of which his wife is an alumna), Jones served as president of Trinity College in Connecticut, from 2004-14. Trinity is in Hartford, which did enable the college to have internships and programs with businesses and the state government. But even with those possibilities, he said, it was hard to hold on to students on weekends.
“They went to New York or Boston. I had students who would drive to Boston for dinner.”
There are some elite liberal arts colleges — places such as Williams, Amherst, Bowdoin and Middlebury Colleges — that have the prestige to attract students and the financial means to promote both constant campus activities and plenty of opportunities for urban experiences. But Jones said that it is increasingly difficult for other colleges to compete.
“Students want a vibrant extramural environment,” he said.
Jones said that while he believes the Sweet Briar board made the right decision, he is deeply sad about it. It should concern educators that institutions that are small and have specialized missions and identities have so much difficulty surviving, he said.
The loss of a Sweet Briar is part of a change in “the diversity of American higher education,” said Jones. “The landscape is changing and becoming more vanilla.”
A Courageous Decision?
As word spread on Tuesday, Sweet Briar students and alumnae took to social media to mourn an institution they loved. As they did so, many experts on higher education started to consider the board’s actions.
— Diana Simpson (@DianaKSimpson) March 4, 2015
Heartbreaking. Our history and community may soon be lost and forgotten. Let's fight #SaveSweetBriar
— Isa Bryant (@IsaBryant32) March 4, 2015
Several told Inside Higher Ed they thought the board had made a courageous, difficult decision. Some didn’t want to be quoted by name as they didn’t want to appear to be suggesting that other colleges should make the same decision. But they suggested that they believe some boards may be fooling themselves into thinking they have sound strategies — and that delaying the inevitable would only hurt students, faculty members and other employees.
One expert who did speak with his name attached was Ronald Ehrenberg, director of the Cornell University Higher Education Research Institute. He said that Sweet Briar’s “scale of operation was too small” — such that he wasn’t surprised the college couldn’t find workable strategies.
He praised the board there.
“It seems like a very principled decision,” he said. “If we can’t maintain our fundamental mission, we should get out of the business. I think more small institutions, especially those in isolated areas, may feel similar pressures in the years ahead.”
Another who agreed was Judith Shapiro, president of the Teagle Foundation and former president of Barnard College.
“The point is not to say that every liberal arts college in a similar situation should do the same thing,” she said. “But I happen to think that what Sweet Briar did was both gutsy and principled. They decided that they could not continue to provide the kind of education that accorded with their mission and values. And they wanted to face that fact — and that was responsible.”
The Teagle Foundation supports the work of many small liberal arts colleges with which they collaborate on certain projects. And Shapiro said she expected to see increased interest in such efforts. But as Sweet Briar’s dilemmas illustrated, she said, it’s not enough to collaborate or to be able to offer more programs.
“The challenge is for institutions to get serious about savings on costs,” said Shapiro.
She also said she viewed it as crucial that colleges expand programs to inform professors of the economic challenges facing higher education.
“We have to give faculty members a more sophisticated grasp of how institutions are run.”
Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, cautioned against assuming that the characteristics with which Sweet Briar struggled would necessarily lead other institutions to close. There are liberal arts colleges, women’s colleges and rural colleges (and some with all of those traits) that are doing well, even if others are not, he said.
“No one variable by itself guarantees success or assures doom,” he said.
The worry Ekman has is that as the norm for higher education becomes large public institutions, it becomes harder for many small institutions with missions that don’t look anything like those of a large public. Institutions that are small and “idiosyncratic” matter, Ekman said.
He said he was talking about all kinds of colleges — “women’s colleges and historically black colleges and work colleges and Great Books colleges and colleges of denominations.”
The demise of three private colleges in Virginia in the last two years may demonstrate Ekman’s fears. Besides Sweet Briar (a women’s college), there was Virginia Intermont College (which had Baptist affiliations) and Saint Paul’s College (a historically black institution).
Catharine Bond Hill, president of Vassar College and an economist who studies higher education, said via e-mail that she was disappointed by Sweet Briar’s decision — and she urged struggling colleges to consider changes in approaches before shutting down.
“We need to be educating more students in America at the college level, not fewer, so it is so unfortunate that Sweet Briar is closing its doors,” said Hill. “The economics are challenging, but I wish they could have figured out a way to make them work. Perhaps this involved too big a change in the way they have done things historically, and they couldn’t see their way forward. But closing works exactly against what we need to be doing in America. I wish they had experimented and innovated to address the challenges, demonstrating to others how to productively make education available at lower cost.”
Richard Kneedler, who has been a college president and a consultant, said he expected that the Sweet Briar board would face a lot of scrutiny. Kneedler served for 14 years as president of Franklin & Marshall College and was called out of retirement in 2006 to lead Rockford College when that institution — without an endowment, but with debt — appeared on the verge of going under. (It didn’t.)
Kneedler said he didn’t know the details of what Sweet Briar had tried, and that he assumed many alternatives were considered.
“But I look at the numbers there, and I find myself saying, ‘Gee, aren’t there any alternatives?’”
And Kneedler noted that there is at least one case in American higher education where a board thought it made a decision to shut down and was blocked from doing so.
This case involved the laws of Pennsylvania, not Virginia. So Kneedler noted that there is no precedent for Sweet Briar. And courts in most states have let private women’s colleges — against the wishes of alumnae — admit men.
The Pennsylvania case involved Wilson College, whose board voted in 1979 to shut it down. A women’s college, Wilson faced declining enrollment and a poor balance sheet. But a state judge in essence found that the college’s board hadn’t made good decisions, and he ordered the board to keep the college going, which it did.
For a while Wilson College rebounded, but by 2012, the board determined that it was falling apart financially, and that only admitting men (and making numerous other changes) would make the college financially viable. Alumnae protested, but the plan was adopted.
Inside Higher Ed is a free, daily online publication covering the fast-changing world of higher education.
PBS NewsHour coverage of higher education is supported by the Lumina Foundation and American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The post All-women Sweet Briar College decides to close after 114 years appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
When paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey discovered the 1.8 million-year-old Homo habilis in 1964, it was thought to be our first human ancestor. Because of its close proximity to stone tools, Homo habilis became known as the “Handy man.” Here was our first hunting, scavenging, tool-making, big-brained ancestor, Leakey said.
After “Lucy”, the older, ape-like Australopithecus afarensis, was uncovered in 1974, Homo habilis appeared to bridge the gap between older fossils and modern humans. It had smaller teeth and jaws, a bigger brain and more sophisticated hands than Lucy.
Human evolution had a nice clear line from Lucy 3.2 million years ago to Homo habilis to Homo erectus and finally Homo sapiens — us. Or so it seemed.
“It was wonderfully Darwinian,” said William Kimbel, director of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University. And, he added, it was likely wrong.
“Fifty years ago, it was pleasing and consistent that there was one early Homo form,” he said. “And it now appears to be much more complicated.”
A digital reconstruction in the journal Nature this week brings Homo habilis into focus. And a newly discovered fossil likely represents the earliest known member of our Homo genus, tracing our lineage – and human evolution – back farther than ever.
After the big Lucy discovery, more bones were unearthed and more species discovered, and human evolution branched out from its neat straight line, adding new members to the Homo genus. The human family tree expanded to include Homo rudolfensis, which had a bigger brain than Homo habilis and a less Lucy-like face.
Meanwhile, Homo habilis was poorly understood, said Fred Spoor, paleontologist at University College London and one of the authors of the study in Nature. For 50 years, adding new fossils to Homo habilis was a struggle, Spoor said. Whenever a new fossil was found, anthropologists compared it to the original bones to determine if it was a Homo habilis or not. And those original bones were in lousy shape, said Philipp Gunz, a paleoanthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and an author on the Nature paper.
“It was really crushed,” Gunz said, of the original habilis fossil. The jaw was distorted, uneven. The incisors were cracked, like it had taken a punch, Spoor said. The braincase fragments were flattened like pancakes.
So Spoor and his colleagues ran the bones through a CT scanner and spent weeks painstakingly reconstructing the fossil digitally, correcting for all the distortions. They made the lower jaw symmetrical again, and designed an upper jaw that fit into it.
Digital reconstruction complete, Gunz was surprised by how primitive our ancient ancestor really looked.
“It would have had very jutting face,” Gunz said. But its brain was bigger than expected, a little more than half the size of our own, he said.
That’s even more puzzling when you consider that it looks more primitive than older Homo fossils. For example, an upper jawbone, called A.L. 666-1, found in Ethiopia in 1994 more closely resembles modern humans, and it’s 500,000 years older than Homo habilis, Spoor said.
“That [jawbone] fossil at 2.3 million years old was too evolved to be a good ancestor for Homo habilis. The Homo habilis lineage must have evolved before 2.3 million years ago,” Spoor concluded. That makes Homo habilis more likely our distant cousin than our direct ancestor, Gunz said.
Now scientists believe they have found the origins of that lineage. A recently discovered hominid jaw dating between 2.75 and 2.8 million years old may be the real ancestor to Homo habilis — and perhaps to us. The finding is published in the journal Science this week.
This bone, named the Leidi-Geraru jaw, after the excavation site in Ethiopia where it was unearthed, looks more like Spoor’s reconstructed Homo habilis than Homo rudolfensis. Scientists can’t classify it either as a Homo habilis or as a new species just yet. But it means that the whole Homo genus, which later lead to modern humans, split from Lucy much earlier than expected.
“It’s the first fossil we have on the branch that leads to us,” said Brian Villmoare, professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, in a press conference this morning.
All these bones confirm what anthropologists already believed, that our earliest Homo ancestors evolved in East Africa from Lucy, Kimbel said. There are few fossils between Lucy 3.2 million years ago, and the Homo habilis bones about 2 million years ago, he said. But anthropologists still don’t know when some of these features — eating meat, a rounded jaw, nimble hands, bigger brains — that make us uniquely human came about, he said.
“We look backward for a unique package of characteristics that we recognize as human,” Kimbel said. “But how many evolved at the same time and how many were acquired piecemeal? Did changes in the brain and teeth evolve together or were they acquired over time? These are pressing issues that we still don’t have the answers to.”
We need more information to determine whether Homo habilis and this new jawbone are good transitional fossils, said Rick Potts, director of the Smithsonian’s Human Origins program. But each fossil is like a snapshot of evolution in process.
“What that means is that there has to be a diversity of species that exist before the earliest known fossil of genus Homo. With at least two lineages, only one could have been a direct ancestor of us,” Potts said. And that raises a lot of questions, he added.
“Why did one die out? Or is neither a direct ancestor and does the fossil record have other surprises in store?” he asked.
The post This jawbone may change everything we know about early human history appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to address the Justice Department’s findings in Ferguson, Missouri, at 3 p.m. EST. NewsHour will live stream that in the player above.WASHINGTON — The Justice Department won’t prosecute former a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black 18-year-old, but in a scathing report released Wednesday faulted the city and its law enforcement for racial bias.
Federal officials concluded there was no evidence to disprove former officer Darren Wilson’s testimony that he feared for his safety, nor was there reliable evidence that Michael Brown had his hands up when he was shot.
Read the DOJ’s full report on Brown’s death:
The decision in the Aug. 9 shooting had been expected, in part because of the high legal standard needed for a federal civil rights prosecution. Wilson, who has said Brown struck him in the face and reached for his gun during a tussle, also had been cleared by a Missouri grand jury in November and later resigned from the department.
The report said blacks in Ferguson are disproportionately subject to excessive police force, baseless traffic stops and citations for infractions as petty as walking down the middle of the street.
Read the DOJ’s full report on the Ferguson Police Department:
Attention now turns to Ferguson as the city confronts how to fix racial biases that the federal government says are deeply rooted in the police department, court and jail.
Similar federal investigations of troubled police departments have led to the appointment of independent monitors and mandated overhauls in the most fundamental of police practices. The Justice Department maintains the right to sue a police department if officials balk at making changes, though many investigations resolve the issue with both sides negotiating a blueprint for change known as a consent decree.
“It’s quite evident that change is coming down the pike. This is encouraging,” said John Gaskin III, a St. Louis community activist. “It’s so unfortunate that Michael Brown had to be killed. But in spite of that, I feel justice is coming.”
Others said the federal government’s findings confirmed what they had long known and should lead to change in the police department leadership.
Brown’s killing set off weeks of protests and initiated a national dialogue about police use of force and their relations with minority communities. A separate report being issued soon is expected to clear the officer, Darren Wilson, of federal civil rights charges. A state grand jury already declined to indict Wilson, who has since resigned.
The findings of the investigation, which began weeks after Brown’s killing last August, were released as Attorney General Eric Holder prepares to leave his job following a six-year tenure that focused largely on civil rights. The report is based on interviews with police leaders and residents, a review of more than 35,000 pages of police records and analysis of data on stops, searches and arrests.
A report by the Department of Justice says that police in Ferguson, Missouri, have shown a pattern of racial bias and civil rights abuses. On Tuesday, Gwen Ifill got reaction from Justin Hansford of Saint Louis University School of Law and Paul Butler of Georgetown University Law Center.
The post U.S. clears officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson case — read the full report appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to the challenging international mission to defeat the Islamic State group.
We explore the U.S.-led coalition effort, and Iran’s role in Iraqi military offensives, including the biggest one to date.
The battle to retake Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, began Monday.
ALI HUSSEIN (through interpreter): Our troops are now advancing according to the drawn-up plan, though there are so many bombs planted by Islamic State militants to hinder our progress.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Shiite militiamen have joined the offensive, directed in part by a top Iranian general. American warplanes have stayed out of the fight by Baghdad’s choice. The extremists still control much of Northern and Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq, seized last summer.
But, since then, a dozen nations have flown more than 2,000 airstrikes in the two countries. Backed by that airpower, Iraq’s military has slowly retaken a little of what it lost. The country’s second largest city, Mosul, captured last June, remains in the hands of ISIS fighters.
Two weeks ago, a U.S. Central Command official suggested a campaign to retake Mosul could come in April. That comment was later rescinded by Pentagon officials, including the new defense secretary himself yesterday.
ASHTON CARTER, Secretary of Defense: That clearly was not — neither accurate information, nor, had it been accurate, would have it been information that should be blurted out to the press.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Today, an irritated Iraqi defense minister said Baghdad, and no one else, will decide when to attack Mosul.
In Syria, meanwhile, Kurdish militia fighters have pushed ISIS back from Kobani, near the Turkish border. In turn, the militants, also known as ISIL, have beheaded hostages and carried out mass executions.
But President Obama’s special envoy to the coalition, retired Marine General John Allen, says the atrocities won’t work.
GEN. JOHN ALLEN (RET.), Special Presidential Envoy: The series of brutal acts ISIL has broadcast to the world has, in fact, galvanized the coalition to greater action.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: After weeks of delays, the trial of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev got under way today in Boston.
Here’s Hari Sreenivasan with more.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The trial’s start was delayed in part by a long jury selection process; 18 jurors and alternates were finally selected from a pool of more than 1,300.
After several different motions to try and change the venue, opening way got under way today, and it was a dramatic day.
Emily Rooney of WGBH starts us off with this report.
EMILY ROONEY, WGBH: Early this morning, victims and their families were bused to the courthouse on Boston’s waterfront and escorted straight inside.
They have waited almost two years, and today they first heard from the federal prosecutor attorney William Weinreb, who said both Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, were terrorists whose mission was to maim and kill.
Weinreb said Dzhokhar’s computer was full of terror schemes and instructions on how to build a bomb out of a pressure cooker. And he described in gory detail how the three victims died, saying one bomb tore large chunks of flesh off 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was just 4’5” weighing 70 pounds.
Shockingly, the defense said they won’t dispute the government’s account of what happened that day. Attorney Judy Clarke said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev walked down Boylston Street, carrying a backpack, and put it down. She said, what he did was inexcusable, but that he was drawn to a path of violence by his older brother, Tamerlan, a special kind of influence dictated by age, culture and sheer force of personality.
That will be a tough argument, as the jury is reminded of what started on April 15, 2013. The winners had finished hours earlier, but back-of-the-pack runners were still streaming in and spectators still lined the streets.
In addition to the three people who were killed, hundreds more were maimed and injured. Then the shooting of MIT police officer Sean Collier four days after the bombings triggered a dramatic manhunt that crippled Boston and surrounding communities. Over one million residents were ordered to stay inside. The chase ended after a wild shoot-out in the Boston suburb of Watertown, where Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed, run over by his own brother, Dzhokhar, as he eluded police for another 20 hours, until he was discovered hiding in a boat a few blocks away.
Meanwhile, the projected four-month-long trial is going to be a hardship for everyone. Between a massive construction site in front of the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse, intense security, mounds of snow and a dearth of public parking, just maneuvering the terrain will be tough.
MAN: It’s only because of the snow, really, and the trial. I mean, the mixture of the two makes it really bad.
EMILY ROONEY: Snow was just one reason for a slow start to the trial, but today was progress, with one victim telling me simply, “I couldn’t believe it.”
HARI SREENIVASAN: Emily Rooney joins us now.
Emily, you were in the courthouse this morning. Tell us a little bit of what it was like in there. There were survivors sitting in the benches.
EMILY ROONEY: I was actually sitting right across from them and looking very intently at them.
At one point, the parents of 8-year-old Richard Martin looked over and the father got up suddenly and left the courtroom. And I thought, wow, this is too intense for him, because it was right in the middle of the opening statement. He came back. I guess it was just sort of an emergency break. But some of them were very, very intently watching and looking and trying to strain to see Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Others were more focused on the jury or what the prosecution or the defense had to say.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And what did Dzhokhar Tsarnaev look like?
EMILY ROONEY: Well, I couldn’t see him because, yesterday, they had him facing the courtroom. I was only like 10 or 15 feet away. He was facing potential jurors and all the media.
Today, his back was to all of us. But he looks very, very sallow, thin. Has got very, very thick, Bushy black hair, a goatee that he strokes constantly. He’s very fidgety. but is also laid back and seems disinterested for the most part, completely disengaged.
HARI SREENIVASAN: As you mentioned in your report, his strategy or his lawyer’s strategy seems to be not that he deny doing this, but really just to prevent him from getting the electric chair or the death penalty.
EMILY ROONEY: Boy, I have to say, Hari, you could have knocked people over with a feather when Judy Clarke came out and the first thing she said was, we’re not going to argue with what the government has said. He was there. He was on there on Boylston Street. He put on a backpack loaded with bombs. He set the backpack down, he detonated his own bomb.
She basically made him a guilty man. But what she did say, we are going to dispute the government’s version that he was a co-conspirator, that she is saying that he was led along and that his age and his youth played into the fact that he was unduly influenced by his brother, Tamerlan.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Emily Rooney of WGBH, thanks so much.
EMILY ROONEY: Thanks, Hari.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: A major challenge to the health care law at the Supreme Court today.
NewsHour contributor Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal was there.
And this is the day everyone’s been waiting for.
MARCIA COYLE, The National Law Journal: Big case, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Marcia, we know the court has already weighed in on the constitutionality of the health care law. So, remind us, who brought this complaint and what was it about?
MARCIA COYLE: All right, Judy, this is what we call a statutory interpretation case. It involves the justices looking at a provision in the Affordable Care Act and deciding what it means, what Congress intended in the context and text of the law itself.
This challenge to it was brought by four Virginia residents who claim that there is a provision in the law that says federal subsidies or tax credits for low- and middle-income Americans are available only on exchanges established by the state. They claim that that doesn’t include subsidies for purchases on exchanges that the federal government creates.
The act allows the federal government to step in and create exchanges when a state opts not to. And, as you probably know, only 16 states have created their own exchanges; 34 states opted for the federal government to come in and set up an exchange.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So it sounds like — and it sounds like the justices just jumped right in and started asking questions right away.
MARCIA COYLE: I’m going to boil down Mr. Carvin’s very lengthy argument, and with apologies to him, and say he made basically two arguments here.
First, the language, exchanges established by the state, the plain language dictates a result in favor of his client. His second argument was Congress intended to limit the subsidies to state exchanges in order to induce the states to create their own exchanges. Basically, you don’t create the exchange, you don’t get the federal money.
His plain language argument immediately drew fire from Justices Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor. Justice Kagan said, it’s not so simple that you focus just on a few words in a phrase. The court looks at the phrase in the context of the entire statute to see if it’s harmonious, if it makes sense.
Justice Sotomayor pointed out that, under Mr. Carvin’s and his clients’ interpretation of the act, there would be consequences that Congress could not have intended and, in fact, the law was designed to avoid. Without federal subsidies on federal exchanges, those exchanges would have no customers. There would be a death spiral. Healthy people wouldn’t buy insurance. Insurance costs would skyrocket.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, what is the government’s response to this when it was their turn?
MARCIA COYLE: The government represented by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.
And he agreed with the more liberal justices that the traditional way to interpret a statute is to look at the phrase at issue in the context of the entire statute. He said the consequences that Justice Sotomayor enunciated clearly show that this was — that the challengers’ interpretation wasn’t the statute that Congress intended.
But he faced his toughest questioning from Justices Scalia and Alito. Justice Scalia said, well, it may not have been the statute Congress intended, but the question, is it the statute that Congress wrote? And where the language is clear, he said, the court — clear and unambiguous — the court doesn’t rewrite the statute.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you were just telling me, Marcia, that it looks as if two justices, in particular, are going to be the ones to determine what happens here.
MARCIA COYLE: I think, at the end of the argument, it looked as though the decision might well rest with Chief Justice Roberts, who said virtually nothing during the arguments — he was very quiet — and Justice Anthony Kennedy, who raised with the challengers what he called a serious constitutional problem with their argument that the Congress intended to induce the states to create exchanges by limiting subsidies to state exchanges.
This, he said, could be coercion, the kind of coercion of the states that violates the Constitution. So I think those two justices are the ones that may well hold the balance here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Marcia Coyle at the court, thank you.
MARCIA COYLE: My pleasure, Judy.
GWEN IFILL: We take a broader look now at the case with Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute, and Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress. She is a former senior adviser to President Obama and helped write the Affordable Care Act.
Let’s take a little con — let’s go for a little context here. Was the administration, in putting these four words that Marcia was just talking about, into this act, was it intentionally trying to conceal or was it an unintentional loophole?
NEERA TANDEN, Center for American Progress: I actually think it’s neither, if you look at what we were deliberating on.
And, again, there was hundreds of hours of hearings, thousands of hours of discussion in Congress on this issue. The debate that we were having at the time was about where the exchanges, the parameters of the exchanges would be. And we were discussing regional exchanges, the national exchange and the state exchanges.
And this is very clear. The word is — the concept was state exchange. And the reason there was the creation of the federal fallback was to have subsidies available to everyone, regardless of whether a state chose to establish its own exchange or not.
GWEN IFILL: But, Michael Cannon, your argument is that federal fallback itself is the problem.
MICHAEL CANNON, Cato Institute: Well, the problem is that the IRS tried to expand its power under this law by imposing the law’s mandates, its taxes on about 57 million people who are by law exempt, and by issuing the disputed subsidies in states with federally established exchanges.
The law is very clear. It says in multiple places that were added in multiple stages during the legislative process that those subsidies and the taxes that they trigger occur only — quote — “through an exchange established by the state.”
There’s no similar language authorizing those measures in federal exchanges. In fact, the statute is quite clear that state-established exchanges and when the federal government establishes an exchange, it’s established by the secretary of health and human services, who is not a state. And so there’s a clear bifurcation between the two when it comes to the subsidies.
GWEN IFILL: Let me ask you both about Justice Kennedy, who is the one person today in the arguments who made everybody on both sides probably nervous, in your case because he said he was concerned about the impact if suddenly these subsidies had been made available in a couple of, three dozen states suddenly went away.
MICHAEL CANNON: Well, that doesn’t make me nervous for a couple of reasons.
One, he only gets to that analysis if he has agreed with the plaintiffs that the text of the statute is clear. And it appeared that he does agree, and he had a lot of skepticism for the government’s argument that the court should defer to the IRS’ interpretation and expansion of the statute.
But even if he finds that the statute is clear and the plaintiffs are correct, if he says that that’s an unconstitutionally coercive condition that Congress placed on these exchange subsidies, well, then that would create new constitutional law, that would call into question the constitutionality of any number of programs, including the Medicaid program.
GWEN IFILL: Obviously, you can respond to that, but I also want you to respond to Justice Kennedy’s concerns about IRS overreach.
NEERA TANDEN: You know, I was actually very heartened by Justice Kennedy’s arguments, because I think he asked some questions about the IRS. Solicitor General Verrilli responded very clearly.
But he, both in his questions to the plaintiffs and to the government, raised this issue that a number of the — a number of justices followed up on, which is the conception that the plaintiffs want us to believe is that the federal government, that the Congress passed a law that basically said to every state, you’re going to have all these requirements on insurance. If you don’t choose not to — if you don’t set up an insurance exchange yourself, you still have to have those requirements on your insurers, which will raise the cost of insurance in your state and could create death spirals, and according to insurers who have filed will raise costs for people outside the exchanges, and, at the same time, there will be no subsidy for them.
So you’re going to leave millions of people harmed in these states. And the most important point — one of the most important points, I think, came out in the solicitor general’s arguments, is that not a single state during the rule-making process noted, complained, said a word about this problem ,because they didn’t see it, because it has been, frankly, an argument made out of whole cloth by judicial activists who have not been able to get their Congress to pass what they would like to have happen, so they have used the courts.
GWEN IFILL: Michael Cannon, is there a legislative remedy, instead of the courts?
MICHAEL CANNON: Well, certainly.
In fact, one of the benefits, I think, of ruling for the plaintiffs in this case is it would create an opportunity for better health care reforms than what we have seen over the past five years.
GWEN IFILL: And you base that on what, on what action that Congress has taken so far?
MICHAEL CANNON: What would happen if there’s a ruling for the plaintiffs is that a lot of people would see the full cost of the regulations, the mandates that the Affordable Care Act imposes on them, and there would be a lot of dissatisfaction with that.
And the would create an impetus for reform, for change. Now, a lot of the people who supported the passage of this law don’t like that idea. They don’t want those costs to be transparent. They want the law to operate another way. What that basically tells us is, they’re having buyer’s remorse. They didn’t know what was in the law before they passed it.
Now that they see how it works, they don’t like it any more than anyone else does. But if there’s more public dissatisfaction about the law, then that does create an opportunity for low — for reforms that actually lower health care costs.
GWEN IFILL: There are very — only a few seconds left, but I want you both to clear something up for people watching this at home. Is this a political debate that is happening at the Supreme Court about the worth itself of Obamacare after the Supreme Court upheld it or is this something else?
NEERA TANDEN: So, could I just briefly respond?
GWEN IFILL: Very briefly.
NEERA TANDEN: Very briefly respond that it’s not that someone else is doing this. The Supreme Court would decide to take health care away for millions of people. Nearly nine million people would lose health care coverage.
So, that is the result of the — what the Supreme Court would do. If you look at what has happened in the Congress in the last several months, including last Friday, it’s hard for me to believe that they would do a quick fix. And I think that’s one of the reasons why we see this as a political fight.
GWEN IFILL: Mr. Cannon, brief final word.
MICHAEL CANNON: If that happens, that’s because that’s what the Affordable Care Act is. That’s how the Affordable Care Act works and we should change it.
GWEN IFILL: Michael Cannon of Cato and Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress, thank you both very much.
MICHAEL CANNON: Thank you.
NEERA TANDEN: Thank you.
The post Health care of 8 million on the line as Supreme Court hears ACA case appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama’s health care law hung in the balance today before the Supreme Court, at issue, whether tax subsidies to help pay premiums apply nationwide. Most states rely on a federally run insurance exchange.
But the attorney challenging the law, Michael Carvin, said Congress meant to limit subsidies to states with their own exchanges.
MICHAEL CARVIN, Lawyer for Plaintiffs: I obviously believe our case is very compelling, so I’m hopeful and confident that the court will recognize the merits of our statutory interpretation, and not let the IRS rewrite the plain language of the statute.
Now that it’s the law of the land, we need it to be neutrally and fairly interpreted. And that’s exactly why we’re here, to vindicate the rule of law.
JUDY WOODRUFF: U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argued the government’s case, with former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal in support.
NEAL KATYAL, Former Acting Solicitor General: When the federal government runs an exchange, it is such an exchange, just like a state one, and should be eligible for the subsidies. And when Mr. Verrilli took the podium, I think you saw that heavily hammered, the idea that this isn’t an ambiguous provision. This is a provision that everyone understood at the time to provide subsidies to both federal and state exchanges.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The high court is expected to decide the case in late June. We will look at today’s arguments in detail after the news summary.
GWEN IFILL: There’s new confusion over same-sex marriage in Alabama. Last night, the state’s highest court ordered probate judges to uphold a ban on gay marriage, despite a federal court ruling that it’s unconstitutional. Today, some counties stopped issuing licenses to gay couples.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Justice Department confirmed today that it will not file civil rights charges in the killing of Michael Brown. His death last summer in Ferguson, Missouri, touched off national protests. Then-police officer Darren Wilson said he feared for his own life when he shot Brown, and today’s report backed that account.
Attorney General Eric Holder:
ERIC HOLDER, Attorney General: I recognize that the findings in our report may leave some to wonder how the department’s findings can differ so sharply from some of the initial widely reported accounts of what transpired.
I want to emphasize that the strength and integrity of America’s justice system has always rested on its ability to deliver impartial results.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The department also officially released a scathing report that found systemic racial bias in the Ferguson Police Department and courts.
GWEN IFILL: In Mexico, the head of Mexico’s notorious Zetas drug cartel, Omar Trevino Morales, is behind bars tonight. Police and soldiers arrested him early today at his home outside Monterrey. Morales is wanted in the U.S. and Mexico on charges of drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder. It’s the second arrest of a Mexican cartel leader in less than a week.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The latest negotiations over Iran’s nuclear future have wrapped up with no breakthrough. Secretary of State John Kerry said today there are still — quote — “significant gaps.” And a senior U.S. official dialed back hopes for a framework agreement by month’s end.
GWEN IFILL: Russian President Vladimir Putin weighed in publicly today, for the first time, on the murder of Boris Nemtsov. The opposition leader was gunned down near the Kremlin on Friday night, hours after he denounced Putin’s policies in Ukraine.
In televised remarks to Interior Ministry employees, Putin condemned the killing.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter): The most serious attention must be paid to high-profile crimes, including those with a political motive. We must finally rid Russia of the disgrace and tragedy of the kinds of things we recently saw and experienced. I mean the audacious murder of Boris Nemtsov in the very center of the capital.
GWEN IFILL: There have been no arrests in the case.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, the Senate failed to override President Obama’s veto of the Keystone oil pipeline bill. Supporters of the project fell five votes short.
Meanwhile, the president signed the Homeland Security funding bill. It passed after Republicans gave up on rolling back his immigration policies.
GWEN IFILL: Wall Street gave ground today on profit-taking. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 106 points, ending below 18100. The Nasdaq fell 12 points and the S&P 500 slipped nine.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, the wreck of the giant Japanese battleship Musashi has been found 70 years after it was sunk. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and his research team say they located what’s left of the vessel off the Philippines. U.S. planes sank the Musashi in October 1944.
The post News Wrap: Mexican forces capture Zetas cartel leader appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
When civil rights activists led a bloody protest march in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965 that is credited with helping to assure passage of the Voting Rights Act that year, civil rights was a top issue for the American public, but opinions about it were very mixed. Even so, America’s verdict on Selma was clear. In all, the protesters staged three marches that month, and polling showed the public clearly siding with the demonstrators, not with the state of Alabama.
A nationwide Gallup poll in February 1965 found 26 percent of Americans citing civil rights as a problem facing the nation, second only to the expanding war in Vietnam (cited by 29 percent). There was broad-based support for the war at this early stage in its history, but views about civil rights and integration were clearly mixed.
On one hand, Americans continued to support the Civil Rights Act of 1964, at least in principle, but had concerns about its scope and implementation. A Gallup poll in October 1964 reported that the public approved of the new law by nearly two-to-one (58 percent to 31 percent). And in April 1965, Gallup found a whopping 76 percent in favor of a then-proposed equal rights voting law.
But while the public supported civil rights legislation conceptually, they expressed concerns about the pace of its implementation. Indeed, although most supported the new civil rights law soon after it was passed, a national Opinion Research Corporation poll showed 68 percent of Americans wanting to see moderation in its enforcement, with only 19 percent wanting vigorous enforcement of the new law.
In that light, it is not surprising that in early 1965, a Gallup poll found growing numbers of Americans saying that the Johnson administration was moving too fast overall on integration. In March, 34 percent held that view, and by May that sentiment rose to 45 percent, with only 14 percent expressing the view that it was not moving fast enough.
Opinion about the pace of integration in May 1965 was dramatically different in the South compared with other parts of the country. By a margin of 61 percent to 21 percent, Southerners felt the government was moving too quickly, rather than about right. Outside the South, Americans were about evenly divided: About four-in-ten thought the pace was too fast and about the same percentage thought integration was occurring at about the right pace.
Gallup reported in February 1965 that, when asked about the Civil Rights Act specifically, 42 percent overall believed the federal government was moving too fast in guaranteeing “Negro” voting rights and the right of “Negroes” (the term used in the question) to be served in public places such as restaurants, hotels and theaters, while just 25 percent thought it was not moving fast enough.
But despite all these reservations, views about what occurred in Selma were another matter. By a 48 percent to 21 percent margin, a Harris poll in May 1965 found its respondents saying they sided more with the civil rights groups involved than with the state of Alabama. Not unexpectedly, virtually all of the African-American respondents sided more with the demonstrators (95 percent), but the balance of opinion among whites was also clearly with them rather than with the state of Alabama (46 percent to 21 percent).
For more information about how contemporary Americans feel about achieving the goal of racial equality, see our full report.
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WASHINGTON — The White House counsel’s office was not aware at the time Hillary Rodham Clinton was secretary of state that she relied solely on personal email and only found out as part of the congressional investigation into the Benghazi attack, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The person said Clinton’s exclusive reliance on personal email as the nation’s top diplomat was inconsistent with the guidance given to agencies that official business should be conducted on official email accounts. Once the State Department turned over some of her messages in connection with the Benghazi investigation after she left office, making it apparent she had not followed the guidance, the White House counsel’s office asked the department to ensure that her email records were properly archived, according to the person who spoke on a condition of anonymity without authorization to speak on the record.
Clinton announced in a late-night tweet Wednesday that she wants her emails released. She asked the State Department to vet the 55,000-plus pages she handed over, leaving the diplomatic agency with the intensely politicized task of determining which can be made public.
The State Department said it would review the emails as quickly as possible but cautioned it would take some time.
The email saga has developed as the first major test for how the White House and President Barack Obama’s administration will deal with Clinton’s likely 2016 presidential campaign — and the inevitable questions that will only get louder as 2016 approaches.
Since the revelations surfaced this week, the Obama administration has been pummeled by endless questions about Clinton, who hasn’t formally announced a run. In the absence of an official campaign to defend her, the White House press secretary has been put in the awkward position of being a de facto Clinton spokesman and the most public voice speaking on her behalf.
While trying to avoid doing political damage to Clinton, the White House has put the onus on her aides to explain exactly what happened.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged Wednesday that Clinton would have emailed White House officials on a non-government account. But the person familiar with the matter said the White House was not aware that was her sole method of email and that she wasn’t keeping a record of her emails at the State Department.
The person said the White House’s concern was that agencies much maintain records for historical and legal purposes in the case of a Freedom of Information Act request or subpoena. If the State Department didn’t control the records, officials there could not search and ensure they are turning over what is required and that could create a legal issue for the agency.
Earnest said the guidance given to government officials is that they should forward work emails on a personal address to official accounts or even print them out and turn them over to their agency to ensure they are properly maintained.
“If in fact Secretary Clinton’s team did what they say they did — and that is reviewed her email, collected all of her personal email that was related to her official government work and turn that over to the State Department so that they could properly preserve and maintain it — that would be consistent with the Federal Records Act, and that’s the president’s expectation,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday.
The Associated Press has reported that Clinton’s account was set up on a computer email server traced to her home in Chappaqua, New York. On Wednesday, the Republican-led Select Committee on Benghazi issued subpoenas for emails from Clinton’s personal email related to Libya.
Top White House aides have been in contact with Clinton’s team to clarify specific facts that the White House is likely to be asked about. The White House also reached out to Clinton’s team ahead of Tuesday’s press briefing to advise them of what the White House planned to say, according to a senior White House official, who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations.
“It’s almost impossible for the White House to give firm answers because there’s just too much you don’t know,” said Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush’s former press secretary. “It’s an extraordinarily delicate dance they have to do to not throw someone overboard, but not get anyone in the White House in deeper trouble.”
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Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked a joint session of Congress to respond to the brutal beatings of protesters in Selma, Alabama, by passing a federal Voting Rights Act that would “open the city of hope to all people of all races.”
While this week’s commemorations of the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” may invoke memories of historic events in which the “real hero,” as Johnson said, was “the American Negro,” little is said about Johnson’s call in that speech to include Mexican-Americans in the struggle for equality.
“It was a defining moment for Johnson and Mexican-Americans,” Julie Leininger Pycior, a Manhattan College history professor, said. “And yet it is a moment that is almost totally forgotten.”
Nationally televised images of protesters violently beaten, whipped and tear-gassed — even trampled by horses — at the hands of police during a march from Selma to the state capitol, Montgomery, triggered mass outrage and more demonstrations around the country. The incident, which became known as “Bloody Sunday,” galvanized the nation’s leaders and ultimately yielded passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
During his address to Congress following those broadcasts, Johnson spoke passionately about poverty and equal rights, a sensitivity influenced, he said, by discrimination against Mexican-Americans that he witnessed as a young teacher at a segregated school in Cotulla, Texas, in the 1920s.
William Bonilla, 84, a retired lawyer in Corpus Christi, Texas, was president of the League of United Latin American Citizens in 1965, then the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization. LBJ had told him privately about his Cotulla experience, Bonilla said, and hearing the president share it in a national address was an emotional moment for many Mexican-Americans.
“I could tell he never forgot those students. He was sincere,” Bonilla said.
According to transcripts of the Johnson presidential recordings at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, Johnson told Martin Luther King Jr. of his desire for “equality for all” well before the first Selma march, which took place March 7, 1965.
On Jan. 15, 1965 — King’s 36th birthday — Johnson returned King’s phone call and told him a voting rights bill would be better if “we just extend it (to everyone), whether it’s a Negro, whether it’s a Mexican or who it is.”
“Yeah,” King said.
Johnson went on to say that such legislation could be the “greatest achievement of his administration,” to which King replied, “That’s right. That’s right.”
While campaigning along the U.S.-Mexico border for a U.S. Senate seat in 1948 and again in 1954, Johnson took note of the effects that poverty and discrimination had on Mexican-Americans. One of his first acts in office was to arrange burial at Arlington National Cemetery for Army Pvt. Felix Longoria, who was killed during World War II and buried in the Philippines.
Longoria’s remains were returned to the U.S. a few years later, and a Texas funeral director told Longoria’s widow that he could not provide chapel services for her husband, because “the whites wouldn’t like it.” Johnson intervened, and Longoria was buried at Arlington in 1949.
Johnson “came to understand racism and poverty through the Mexican-American experience,” said Brian Behnken, an Iowa State University history professor and author of a book about the civil rights struggle in Texas. However, Behnken added, Johnson also tread lightly on the issue so as not to incite segregationists.
That changed once Johnson became president.
Appalled by the brutality in Selma, Johnson viewed it as an opportunity to “liberate himself” by linking the voting rights struggle with the struggles, 37 years earlier, of his poorest students in Cotulla, Pycior said.
In his speech to Congress, Johnson called for full equality for black Americans 100 years after Emancipation “because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.” He underscored that sentiment by uttering the civil rights movement’s mantra, “we shall overcome,” then brought up his former students in Cotulla.
“Few of them could speak English, and I couldn’t speak much Spanish,” Johnson said. The students were poor, hungry and aware that people hated them, but they didn’t know why, Johnson said, and he often wished there was more he could do for them.
“Somehow you never forget what poverty and hatred can do when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a young child,” Johnson said.
He said he never thought he’d have the opportunity to help the children of those students, and others like them.
“But now I do have that chance,” Johnson said. “And I’ll let you in on a secret: I mean to use it.”
Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in August 1965, and Johnson signed it into law on Aug. 6.
The post LBJ linked Latinos, civil rights in ‘Selma’ speech appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was attacked in Seoul on Thursday by a man wielding a 10-inch knife, who managed to slash his face and wrist before being wrestled to the ground.
Lippert, 42, who had been addressing a breakfast meeting of the Sejong Cultural Institute in the center of the South Korean capital, was taken to a hospital and received 80 stitches to his face.
The assailant, who identified himself at the scene as Kim Ki-jong after being subdued and arrested, was protesting joint U.S.-South Korea military drills, said Jongno Police Station chief Yun Myeong Seong at a televised briefing.
Kim reportedly said during the attack, “South and North Korea should be reunified.” The U.S.-South Korean military drills are viewed by North Korea and its allies as preparation for an invasion.
Lippert tweeted that he would be back in action soon:
Doing well&in great spirits! Robyn, Sejun, Grigsby & I – deeply moved by the support! Will be back ASAP to advance US-ROK alliance! 같이 갑시다!
— Mark Lippert (@mwlippert) March 5, 2015
The State Department issued a statement saying U.S. law enforcement is working with the Korean National Police on the incident. “The U.S.-ROK (Republic of Korea) alliance is strong; we will not be deterred by senseless acts of violence,” said the department’s deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf.
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A Delta flight landing at New York’s LaGuardia Airport skidded off the runway Thursday morning before coming to a rest against an embankment.
The New York Fire Department reported no injuries among the 125 passengers and five-member crew, according to the Associated Press. The flight was arriving from Atlanta.
Photos on social media show passengers deplaning onto snowy ground while flakes continued to fall at the airport, which is centrally located on the New York City borough of Queens, not far from Manhattan.
— Mashable News (@MashableNews) March 5, 2015
New York City was expecting six to eight inches of snow to accumulate Thursday.
Across the country, nearly 2,300 flights have been canceled with Dallas-Fort Worth and airports in the Washington, D.C., region hit the hardest.
The post Video: Flight landing at LaGuardia skids off runway appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Watch the first 10 minutes of “Under the Dome” with English subtitles.
Chinese journalist and environmental activist Chai Jing describes in a video that’s gone viral the moment China’s pollution problem hit home. She was bringing her sick infant daughter home from the hospital and felt compelled to cover her nose with a handkerchief, though she knew the tactic was useless.
“Before this happened, I was never scared of the air pollution,” she says in Chinese to an audience in the video. “I never wore a mask wherever I went, but now you have a little infant in your arms, you need to take care of her when she breaths. … That’s when you are scared.”
The documentary, called “Under the Dome”, contains footage of polluted skies from China’s vast factory network and details the types of particulate matter in the air. The Chinese version of the video has racked up more than 100 million views since it went online Saturday.
Chinese Environment Minister Chen Jining praised the documentary on Sunday, saying it showed the “growing public concern over environmental protection and threats to human health.”
China recently has taken a stronger policy stance on its air pollution. Last year at the APEC summit in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed for the first time to a date of 2030 for peak carbon dioxide emissions and to increase renewable energy consumption.
He said the nation of 1.3 billion would participate in an international conference on climate change in Paris later this year.
The post Watch the viral documentary raising awareness about air quality in China appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The McNugget is going antibiotic-free.
McDonald’s announced Wednesday that it will only buy chickens raised without antibiotics that fight human infections. The plan will be phased in over the next two years.
The decision reflects concern about increasingly resistant bacteria.
Antibiotics have been used since the 20th century for both treating and preventing illnesses. Wherever they’re used, the bacteria they fight can become resistant, so the antibiotics meant to cure the infection are less effective. And when people get infected with the resistant bacteria, they have longer, more severe illnesses.
Eventually, these stronger bacteria create antibiotic-resistant strains.
Livestock animals are commonly fed antibiotics as a preventative measure. In the Food and Drug Administration’s annual report released in September last year, the agency cited a 16 percent increase in medically important antibiotics sold to farmers for livestock animals from 2009 to 2012 alone.
Some chickens are given their first dose of antibiotics while they’re still in the shell and many will continue consuming them, whether they are sick or not, over their brief, 80 to 100-day lifespan from hatchery to down the hatch.
In foodborne bacterial infections, resistance has increased over the last decade or so, said Barbara Mahon, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control.
“Antibiotic resistance has increased quite a lot over the last number of years,” Mahon said. “It’s really becoming a significant threat to public health.”
Superbugs, as they are often called, lead to around 2 million drug resistant infections and 23,000 deaths in the United States each year, according to the CDC.
Beyond eliminating routine, preventative treatment, McDonald’s acknowledged that some suppliers will continue to treat their chickens with antibiotics when they become sick. The fast food chain will not buy those birds, Marion Gross, senior vice president of McDonald’s North American supply chain, told Reuters.
However, antibiotic resistance is admittedly not a straightforward process. The genes for resistance are sometimes connected, meaning it’s possible for one antibiotic to create resistance to others as well.
For example, you could eat a piece of meat that has bacteria on it that won’t make you sick, but has the genes for resistance. Those genes can incorporate into other bacteria, making them resistant. If you get sick from one of the second-generation resistant bacteria, you could end up with a resistant infection.
“It can be complicated and it can be unpredictable,” Mahon said.
Although McDonald’s will phase out the use of human-related antibiotics, they will continue to use poultry fed ionophores, an antibiotic not used for humans.
McDonald’s announcement proves that for poultry growers to have a sustainable business, they’ll need to stop using antibiotics, said Center for Science in the Public Interest Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal.
“McDonald’s is a big buyer,” she said. “Other companies may have beat them to the punch in taking this step, but the fact that McDonald’s is now following suit is very important to consumers.”
Other chain restaurants like Chipotle made the shift to antibiotic-free meat over a decade ago.
A recent Pew Research Center study looked at three U.S. cities — Macon, Georgia, Sioux City, Iowa, and Denver — and the relationship between each city’s local news affiliates and residents.
Pew found that nearly nine in 10 residents closely follow local news. Amy Mitchell, Pew’s Director of Journalism Research, said the findings showed that “first and foremost, the degree to which you have local news is very important to people’s lives in all three of these cities.”
But the way in which people retrieved that content varied, particularly when it came to how they used the Internet.
Though the majority of residents in each city have Internet access, broadband access at home differed. Macon’s overall broadband availability is lower than in Denver and Sioux City. But Macon residents’ use of social media to access local news is greater.
Additionally, Macon’s rate of ownership of laptops, tablets, desktop computers and smartphones is lesser than Sioux City’s and Denver’s. But Macon’s smartphone ownership is more comparable, greater even than Sioux City’s.
“What you see if you connect these dots, is that in an environment like Macon where there is less broadband in the home and less ownership of computers and laptops, there’s more of a move towards social media,” said Mitchell.
These findings in Denver, Sioux City and Macon mirror trends in other parts of the country when it comes to how people are using technology.
“Part of what’s happened in other parts of the world, in rural parts of the county, is that mobile has opened up an opportunity to connect digitally.”
It’s a workaround — or what Mitchell calls “another avenue” — to getting the news.
The post What Pew’s study on local news intake reveals about broadband accessibility appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
For many of the hundreds of residents of Pahoa, on the island of Hawaii, the last eight months have been a time of fear and uncertainty.
The town is located downslope from the Kilauea volcano. In June, a stream of hot lava began inching its way toward the community, stalling at times but then starting again. In November, the lava engulfed the local transfer station. A major fear is the lava flow may cut off the main road connecting the town to the rest of the island.
But for some students in Pahoa, the lava threat has also been a source of inspiration.
“I told my students that we can work the problem or we can let the problem work us.” said Eric Clause, a STEM teacher at the Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences. As a class project, Clause and his students chose to work the problem and develop tools the town could use to cope with the volcano.
The students focused on how they might be able to take on vog, what locals call the foggy haze of harmful aerosols created when thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide put out by the volcano mix with the air.
After months of brainstorming and designing, their first tool was ready: a so-called “vog scrubber” which purifies the air around homes of volcanic gases. Today, the scrubber is being used by families in Pahoa.
Spurred by their scrubber’s success, the students are forging ahead with research on power pole protectors and heat-resistant bridges to allow travel over recent lava flows.
Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. For hundreds of thousands of years, eruptions lasting a few days or weeks have been common. Lately, the volcano has been unusually explosive. For the last 32 years, it’s been erupting non-stop with no signs of quieting.
“The volcano could continue erupting for decades or the eruption might stop in the next few weeks.” Steve Brantley of the U.S. Geological Survey said. “We really don’t have a way of determining or estimating when the volcano may stop erupting.”
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The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that beginning in 2018, elephants will no longer be a part of the circus act.
The Feld Family, the Ringling Bros. parent company, announced in a press release today that the 13 elephants currently traveling with the circus will move to Florida to join the 40 elephants currently located at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant for Conservation.
The move, the company said, is due to concerns over the treatment of the animals and will allow the Feld family to focus on its Asian elephant conservation program. None of the other animals in the circus will be affected.
“This is the most significant change we have made since we founded the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in 1995,” chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment Kenneth Feld said in the release. “When we did so, we knew we would play a critical role in saving the endangered Asian elephant for future generations, given how few Asian elephants are left in the wild.”
According to NPR, Feld Entertainment has come under scrutiny for the company’s treatment of the animals, which led to the creation of Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant for Conservation, a 200-acre facility in Polk City, Florida. Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle told NPR this news is “almost like the [fall of] the Berlin Wall within the animal welfare [community.]”
Cloud formations and sunsets get our attention, as do volcanoes — the showy, dramatic phenomena of our planet. In “Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World,” published at the end of January, Julia Rothman also pays attention to the ecosystem of a rotting log, or the vast lattice of white threads, known as mycellium, that branch out from mushrooms underground, rendered in delicate, hand-drawn illustration.
Although the book includes several illustrations of bird beaks, feathers and eggs, Rothman says it’s not supposed to be like an Audubon field guide, which are known for their scientific accuracy. It’s not a “nature book,” Rothman said, since it was impossible to include everything. Instead, it offered Rothman, a city dweller, a chance to better appreciate the container garden or small park nearby.
“You can have a giant forest in your backyard that’s gorgeous and moss-covered or you can have a fire escape that has a flower box on it, and they equally should be appreciated,” Rothman said.
“Nature Anatomy” is her second book. In 2001, Rothman published “Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life,” which similarly captured scenes from the rural countryside.
Rothman said the idea for the new book came about one day when she was running at Prospect Park, just outside her Brooklyn apartment.
“I would just look around at the trees and the leaves and down on the ground, notice an unusual flower or seed pod and realize I didn’t know anything about any of them,” she said. “It just felt silly that they were right there and I never took the time to learn about them.”
With the help of her friend John, Rothman got acquainted with the flora and fauna living amid all the concrete and human life in New York. On a walk in Prospect Park one afternoon, John picked plants, such as dandelion leaves, for her to taste. Rothman was hesitant.
“I was like, ‘Oh no, a dog peed on that,’ or ‘somebody sat on it or walked on it, and I’m not gonna put that in my mouth,’” she said.
After some convincing from her friend, Rothman sampled the variety of vegetation in the park, discovering it offered different textures and bitterness and sweetness, like the ingredients of a salad mix found in a fancy grocery store.
“You just don’t think it’s the same thing,” she said. “You don’t think it’s all these things you could collect from your park.”
Rothman wanted to infuse her book with that same sense of discovery, interspersing painstakingly painted illustrations of bats, beavers, seashells and flowers with trivia tidbits.
As a child, Rothman would draw from the pictures in science textbooks, such as looking at an illustration of an ant to make her own copy. Now, her books are inspiring other young artists.
“It’s so amazing because I did this ‘Farm Anatomy’ book and now people are putting pictures of their kids drawing things out of my book,” Rothman said. “I was just so happy that some little kid is doing what I used to do.”
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JUDY WOODRUFF: There was no rest for the storm-weary in much of the eastern half of the country today. For millions of Americans, March lived up to its in like-a-lion reputation, as a late winter storm brought heavy snow, followed by frigid cold.
In the process, the storm fouled travel by land and air. New York’s busy La Guardia Airport was closed for several hours after a Delta flight arriving from Atlanta slid off a snowy runway this morning. It crashed through a fence atop a berm, just feet from the icy waters of Flushing Bay.
The 127 passengers and five crew on board were safely evacuated. Only minor injuries were reported.
Port Authority officials wouldn’t comment on a possible cause. They said an investigation will get under way soon:
PATRICK FOYE, Executive Director, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey: The NTSB is on the way to La Guardia. We will be cooperating with them closely, as with Delta. The runway, this particular runway had been plowed shortly before the incident, and pilots on other planes reported good braking action.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All told, the winter blast caused 4,100 flights to be canceled across the country. Airports in Dallas, Washington, New York, and Philadelphia were hit hardest. About 74 million people were under warnings or advisories, from Northern Texas on up to parts of New England.
The massive storm system also snarled road travel. More than 20 inches of snow were reported in Western Kentucky. Drivers on Interstate 65 south of Louisville were stuck in their vehicles overnight after snow shut down the highway. This motorist was stranded for nearly 12 hours.
QUESTION: And there’s literally hundreds of cars up there along the interstate there?
MAN: Yes, there’s people with children, you know — that’s no food, no water.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Greg Fischer is Louisville’s mayor.
MAYOR GREG FISCHER, Louisville, Kentucky: We have no significant wrecks or injuries. I-65 in Hardin County is closed due to 200 semis that are stuck there.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The National Guard has been deployed to the scene to rescue stranded motorists.
It was a slippery sight in neighboring Tennessee. Icy roads made driving difficult across Nashville. The federal government was closed, as six to eight inches of snow fell around the nation’s capital. And the Philadelphia area was also under a snow emergency, with up to eight inches of snow expected.
Ironically, Boston didn’t expect any snow from this storm. The city has already gotten more than 100 inches this winter, and is only two inches shy of an all-time record.
GWEN IFILL: The State Department will review e-mails provided by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She asked last night that the department release 55,000 pages of e-mails she provided. As secretary, Clinton used her private e-mail address exclusively for official business.
Current Secretary John Kerry said today his aides will review and release the material as quickly as possible.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In Saudi Arabia, Secretary Kerry sought today to ease concerns among Persian Gulf Arab states over the Iran nuclear talks. Kerry met with the Saudi foreign minister in Riyadh. He assured the Saudis and Iran’s other Gulf rivals of full U.S. support. And he said Washington is not seeking a — quote — “grand bargain” with Iran.
GWEN IFILL: More than 2,000 Russian troops have launched a new round of large-scale military exercises in southern Russia, bordering Ukraine. The drills are taking place in Russia’s Caucasus districts and at bases in Armenia, breakaway regions of Georgia, and Crimea. That province was annexed by Moscow last year. The war games are expected to last until April 10.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, says he’s doing well and will be back at work soon after a knife attack. A Korean man slashed Lippert across the face and arm during a breakfast meeting today. It took 80 stitches to close the cuts and repair damaged tendons and nerves.
South Korean police say the attacker is a longtime opponent of America’s role in Korea and of the latest joint military drills.
YUN MYUNG-SUNG, Head of Jongno Police Station (through interpreter): The suspect, Kim Ki-Jong, stated that he had committed this crime in order to protest against the military drills that interrupt the South and the North’s peacemaking atmosphere.
JUDY WOODRUFF: North Korea’s state-controlled media praised the attack, saying the — quote — “knife slashes of justice” were a deserved punishment.
GWEN IFILL: The last known Ebola patient in Liberia headed home from the hospital today. The first case was reported there a year ago. The resulting epidemic has since killed nearly 10,000 people across West Africa. Liberia hasn’t reported any new Ebola cases for 13 days, but it won’t be given the all-clear until 42 days have passed. That’s double the normal incubation period.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Wall Street edged higher today in advance of tomorrow’s February jobs report. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 39 points to close above 18100. The Nasdaq rose more than 15 points, and the S&P 500 added two points.
GWEN IFILL: The former archbishop of New York retired Cardinal Edward Egan died today of a heart attack. Egan presided over the archdiocese from 2000 to 2009 and overhauled its finances. He played a prominent role after the 9/11 attacks, but he was also criticized over the alleged shielding of priests accused of child molesting. Cardinal Egan was 82 years old.
The post News Wrap: March storm roars, grounding flights and closing roads appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said the type of racial discrimination found in Ferguson, Missouri, is not unique to that police department, and he cast law enforcement reform as a chief struggle for today’s civil rights movement.
Obama said improving civil rights and civil liberties with police is one of the areas that “requires collective action and mobilization” 50 years after pivotal civil rights marches brought change to the country. The president made his first remarks about this week’s Justice Department report of racial bias in Ferguson, which found officers routinely discriminating against blacks by using excessive force.
“I don’t think that is typical of what happens across the country, but it’s not an isolated incident,” Obama told The Joe Madison Radio Show on Sirius XM radio’s Urban View channel. “I think that there are circumstances in which trust between communities and law enforcement have broken down, and individuals or entire departments may not have the training or the accountability to make sure that they’re protecting and serving all people and not just some.”
Obama’s interview was to preview his trip Saturday to Selma, Alabama, where he plans to speak from the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where white police officers beat civil rights protesters on March 7, 1965. Obama last visited Selma in 2007, when he was running for the Democratic presidential nomination and spoke about the responsibility of those who came after the civil rights generation of the ’60s to carry on the struggle.
On Friday, Obama was kicking off the weekend’s 50th anniversary with a town hall meeting at South Carolina’s Benedict College, a historically black college. The White House said Obama plans to speak about efforts young people made throughout history to expand opportunity.
Obama’s visit to Columbia is his first trip to South Carolina as president. Obama has just two other states to reach his goal of traveling to all 50 in office — South Dakota and Utah.
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