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

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    Then-presidential candidates Senators Barack Obama (L in white) and Hillary Clinton (R in green outfit) cross the Edmond Pettus Bridge during a re-enactment of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march in Selma, Alabama, March 4, 2007. Photo by Lee Celano/Reuters

    Then-presidential candidates Senators Barack Obama (L in white) and Hillary Clinton (R in green outfit) cross the Edmond Pettus Bridge during a re-enactment of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march in Selma, Alabama, March 4, 2007. Photo by Lee Celano/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — In only a few minutes on national television, the beatings of civil rights marchers by police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, dragged the inhumanity of Southern segregation into America’s living rooms as never before.

    The images were unforgettable: police tear-gassing kneeling protesters, clubbing them and attacking them on horseback behind a civilian posse. Five decades later, many recalled that moment when police lobbed tear gas at protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, after the police shooting death last year of black 18-year-old Michael Brown.

    President Barack Obama and some surviving marchers are going back to Selma this weekend to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that “Bloody Sunday” assault, and to talk about how the country has — and has not — changed since then.

    Several Ferguson protesters also plan to go to Selma, hoping to ensure that more Americans will draw parallels between yesterday’s and today’s struggles. “It is clear that the struggle continues,” said human rights attorney Nicole Lee, who was in Ferguson during the unrest after police decided not to charge officer Darren Wilson in Brown’s death.

    A grand jury declined to indict Wilson, and the Justice Department said Wednesday that it also would not seek to prosecute him. It did issue a scathing report that called Ferguson’s law enforcement practices discriminatory and unconstitutional.

    Similar things were said about Selma after the police killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson, 26, who died a few days after being shot in the stomach by Alabama state trooper James Bonard Fowler while trying to protect family members during a melee following a voting rights protest in February 1965. A grand jury declined to indict Fowler.

    Rep. John Lewis, then a student activist who was severely beaten in Selma, sees parallels between the 1965 marches and the #BlackLivesMatter movement that sprang up after Brown’s death. He also sees a major distinction.

    “The only thing that is so different (is that) today, I don’t think many of the young people have a deep understanding of the ways of nonviolent direct action,” said Lewis, D-Ga.

    Other Selma veterans say they fear their sacrifices are being wasted by those whose failure to vote leads to lack of representation in government and on police forces.

    “Racism never went anywhere. Racism just took a nap, and when it woke up, we were watching … all those stupid reality shows. We let everything pass by us, and then we complain,” said Lynda Blackmon Lowery, who marched in Selma at age 15 and says she was one of the youngest marchers beaten on the bridge.

    “There was nothing magic about Selma,” said Andrew Young, one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s closest aides and an organizer in King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. “Selma just gave us the right to vote. But if you don’t vote, and don’t take advantage of that right, you’re still living in a pre-Selma age.”

    African-Americans voted at a higher rate than non-Hispanic whites in 2012 — 66.2 percent versus 64.1 percent — with Obama on the ballot. But voter turnout was down in last year’s midterm elections roughly three months after Brown was killed, and dismal in local elections. In Ferguson, fewer than 1,484 of the town’s 12,096 registered voters cast ballots in the last mayoral election. “There was nothing magic about Selma,” said Andrew Young, one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s closest aides. “Selma just gave us the right to vote. But if you don’t vote, and don’t take advantage of that right, you’re still living in a pre-Selma age.”Back in 1965, the SCLC targeted Selma as an area where they should challenge the lack of voting rights, Young said, and King called it “the most segregated city in America.”

    Young said they came up with the idea to march from Selma to Montgomery at the funeral for Jackson, to make a voting rights statement and to protest Jackson’s death. Shocking images of the police beatings were broadcast nationwide; ABC interrupted its Sunday night movie, “Judgment at Nuremberg,” to air 15 minutes of uninterrupted footage from the Selma attacks.

    “They broke into Hitler and the Nazi persecution of the Jews to (show) the persecution of African-Americans by state troopers in Alabama,” Young said. “People made the connection that this cannot be allowed to happen.”

    Eighty-four people were injured in the violence, including Lewis, who suffered a skull fracture. In 2004, Fowler confessed to a newspaper reporter that he shot Jackson. He said he fired in self-defense after Jackson hit him on the head with a bottle. In 2010, Fowler pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to six months in jail.

    A few days after the Bloody Sunday assaults, King led a second march to the scene of the violence. A third march, on March 21, actually made it from Selma to Montgomery. Eight days later, President Lyndon Johnson spoke to a joint session of Congress, and compared Selma to some of America’s Revolutionary War battles.

    Five months later, Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which ushered millions of African-Americans and other minorities onto voter rolls in the South.

    The post Anniversary of Selma march rekindles Ferguson comparisons appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Practicing Mormons march during a gay pride parade in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 3, 2012. Photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters

    Practicing Mormons march during a gay pride parade in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 3, 2012. Photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters

    SALT LAKE CITY — A Republican-controlled Senate committee in the Utah Legislature offered its unanimous and at times emotional support for a proposal to protect gay and transgender individuals as the landmark measure passed its first test.

    Todd Weiler, a Republican senator from Woods Cross, said he comes from “a conservative, Mormon background” but he’s met many transgender individuals, including one in his neighborhood who grew up with his son.

    “I don’t understand those things,” Weiler said, “I understand that those people are different than I am, and that they have rights, and I am 100 percent convinced that they should be protected.”

    Weiler, who fought to stay composed, said the bill would send a message to young people struggling with their identity.

    The bill, which has earned the rare stamp of approval from the Utah-based Mormon church, bars discrimination against gay and transgender individuals while protecting the rights of religious groups and individuals.

    With Thursday’s approval, it advances to the full Senate, which has scheduled a hearing and vote for Friday. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday that if the bill makes it to his desk, he’ll sign it.

    Drafters of the bill said they hope it serves as a model for other states.

    Idaho state Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, a Democratic lawmaker who has pushed to get an anti-LGBT discrimination measure passed for years, said Utah’s proposal gives her hope.

    “It’s encouraging to see a state moving forward,” Buckner-Webb said. “Utah has many similarities with Idaho. It’s inevitable that it will happen here.”

    During a two-hour hearing Thursday in Salt Lake City, lawmakers heard from gay and transgender residents who described their fears and experiences.

    Neca Allgood, of Syracuse, appeared with her 20-year-old child Grayson Moore, who is transgender.

    “I want him to be hired and promoted on the basis of his ability, effort and education, rather than his gender identity,” Allgood said.

    The bill, which has earned the rare stamp of approval from the Utah-based Mormon church, bars discrimination against gay and transgender individuals while protecting the rights of religious groups and individuals. They also heard from religious and conservative groups who spoke against the measure.

    Several conservative senators supporting the bill said they felt it provides equally strong protections for LGBT people as it does for the religious.

    The proposal prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation when it comes to housing or employment. Religious groups and organizations would be exempt from the requirement, as would their affiliates.

    For example, Brigham Young University, a private school owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, would be exempt.

    Beyond banning discrimination based on identity and sexual orientation, the proposal stipulates that employers can adopt “reasonable dress and grooming standards” and “reasonable rules and polices” for sex-specific restrooms and other facilities, as long as those standards also include accommodations for gender identity.

    For example, companies could offer a unisex, stand-alone restroom for use instead of a larger restroom with a bank of stalls.

    Supporters of the proposal say they’ve left some room for companies to interpret what is a reasonable accommodation because they cannot pass a law to deal with all scenarios.

    Video by Fox13 Salt Lake City

    The proposal also protects the right of an individual employee to express their religious or moral beliefs in “a reasonable, non-disruptive or non-harassing way,” as long as it doesn’t interfere with the company’s business.

    “If, for example, I worked at Planned Parenthood, it would be totally appropriate for them to say you can’t wear one of those little buttons that has the ‘Right to Life,’ with the fetus on it,” said University of Illinois law professor Robin Fretwell Wilson, who helped Utah lawmakers draft the proposal.

    Wilson said if a company allows employers to express any political or religious beliefs at work, they would have to allow all opinions to be expressed without any retribution. The bill would not allow employers to punish workers for beliefs expressed on one’s own time, such as donating to a campaign against same-sex marriage.

    One of those speaking in support of the bill was Eric Moutsos, a former Salt Lake City police officer who was put on leave and later resigned after he objected for religious reasons to participating in the city’s gay pride parade last summer.

    Moutsos tried to swap with another officer but said his superiors called him intolerant and then suspended him. Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank has stood behind the agency’s handling of the matter.

    “Through this experience, I have gained greater compassion and empathy for anyone who has lost their job because of who they are,” Moutsos said. “No one should be forced to choose between their job and their conscience.”

    The proposal also includes a specific exemption for the Boy Scouts of America, which has a ban on gay adult Scout leaders. The organization did not participate in negotiations.

    The organization was included because of a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision recognizing its constitutional right to exclude gay members. The organization now allows openly gay youth.

    The Mormon church said it is fully behind the legislation, which follows the principles set out in its call for laws that balance religious rights and LGBT protections.

    Associated Press writers Brady McCombs and Kelly Catalfamo contributed to this story from Salt Lake City; and Kimberlee Kruesi in Boise, Idaho.

    The post LGBT anti-discrimination bill passes Utah test appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The tagline asks, “Why is it so hard to see black and blue?” But, this time, it’s not the piece of clothing that finds itself at the heart of the debate. Instead, the image focuses on a woman dressed in a (very clear) white-and-gold version of the dress. And she’s marked with black-and-blue bruises. Below the question reads,

    “The only illusion is if you think it was her choice. One in 6 women are victims of abuse. Stop abuse against women.”

    The first graphic image surfaced Thursday night on Twitter from Salvation Army’s South Africa branch, directing people to call a domestic abuse hotline in Cape Town.

    A follow-up image that appeared this morning depicts a different woman caking “white and gold” make-up on her face.

    The post Salvation Army uses #TheDress in campaign against domestic violence appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Sean Murphy/The Image Bank via Getty Images.

    Photo by Sean Murphy/The Image Bank via Getty Images.

    The economy added a healthy 295,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent — its lowest level since May 2008. Sluggish wage growth marred an otherwise strong jobs report, fueling debate about whether the Federal Reserve will raise rates in June in response to robust job growth or hold off until the fall for a more broad-based recovery to take hold.

    Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg had expected the economy to add 235,000 to 240,000 jobs, and many forecasts had this winter’s snowstorms putting a freeze on job growth.

    But the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ payroll survey blew those estimates out of the water. (Remember, though, that the margin of error on these figures is quite large.) The BLS’s separate survey of households put job growth at 96,000. The Peterson Institute’s Justin Wolfers, who weighs those two surveys 80-20, respectively, puts real job growth at 255,000 — still higher than forecast — and “better than solid,” he tweeted Friday morning.

    The economy has now added an average of 266,000 jobs every month for the past year and an average of 288,000 each month for the past three months. January’s job creation, however, was revised downward by 18,000.

    What may not be so encouraging is that the civilian labor force — all those people working and actively looking for work — shrank by 178,000. And 354,000 more people reported not being in the labor force in February. The months-long story we’ve been telling is that baby boomers are dropping out of the labor market into retirement. But prime-age workers are also leaving the labor force because they’re tired of searching unsuccessfully for work. The number of people who said they wanted a job but couldn’t find one increased by 180,000 in February.

    Recall that in January, we heralded a slight uptick in the unemployment rate as a sign that discouraged workers were returning to the labor force. February’s decline may just be a leveling out of the prior month’s data.

    A closer look at the unemployed population brings some good news about who is out of work and why. Over 10 percent of those unemployed don’t have a job because they decided to leave their jobs, which presumably, they wouldn’t do if they weren’t reasonably confident that they could get another one in this economy.

    Our “Solman Scale U7,” which adds to the officially unemployed part-timers looking for full-time work and “discouraged” workers, fell to another low — 13.32 percent — in part because the number of involuntary part-timers decreased by about 150,000.

    The major sore spot in the recovery, though, continues to be wages. Average hourly wages for private nonfarm payrolls rose three cents in February — or just 0.1 percent — to $24.78. For non-supervisory and production employees, average hourly earnings remained at $20.80. For the year, average hourly earnings have increased by just 2 percent.

    Slow wage growth raises concerns that a sizable proportion of Americans is not yet feeling the recovery. And the strongest job growth in February was in traditionally low-paying sectors — what the BLS calls “accommodation” and “food services and drinking places.”

    Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, speaking to the New York Times, offered a couple of optimistic notes about the otherwise disconcerting wage news. One theory is that workers are earning less because more experienced workers (boomers) are being replaced by lower-earning new hires. And second, some workers coming back into the labor force are working for less. They may be making less money than their tenured peers or than they would have 10 years ago, but at least some of them are back and working.

    Is that enough for the Federal Reserve to act? The central bank already ended its quantitative easing program because of a steadily improving labor market, but it is remaining “patient,” as Janet Yellen reiterated at her January press conference, on raising rates since inflation is still far below the Fed’s 2 percent target. Yes, the economy has received even better jobs news since the Federal Open Market Committee’s January meeting, and that’s led some economists to suggest a June rate hike is still viable. But with February’s near-stagnant wages, there’s no sign of inflation on the horizon. For monetary policy doves, the message to the Fed is clear: delay the rate hike.

    Theoretically, a tighter labor market should push wages higher as employers compete for workers. The Fed typically defines “full employment” to be somewhere between 5.2 and 5.5 percent, meaning that from a pure numbers perspective, wages (and inflation) should be rising. But that’s just not happening yet.

    In fact, Friday’s report has some economists predicting that the unemployment rate can fall much lower before inflation takes hold.

    On Making Sen$e Thursday, economist John Komlos argued that the “natural rate of unemployment” is a concept that shouldn’t even exist. America can do much better, he maintains, than 5.5 percent unemployment.

    In her semiannual monetary policy report to Congress last month, Yellen told the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs that the economy has not yet achieved “maximum employment” because the numbers of discouraged workers and those marginally attached to the labor force remain elevated, while wage growth “has not picked up” during the recovery. “I believe we have a ways to go,” she told the committee. The FOMC’s next policy meeting is March 17 and 18.

    The post Wages are sore spot on strong February jobs report appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

    As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton used a personal email account and a private server based out of her New York home, rather than official government email. In light of that revelation this week, a House Oversight committee subpoenaed her messages for an ongoing investigation on the Benghazi embassy attack. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

    Let’s have a chat about transparency, and how much we really want to know about the way things work.

    This week provided several good examples of the discussion along the campaign trail, and in all three branches of government.

    Hillary Clinton: The former Secretary of State, whose email habits have come under recent scrutiny, has not exactly been a model of clarity. On one hand, her staff says she’s turned over 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department. On the other hand, she got to decide what to release, because it turns out they all lived on private, not government, servers.

    This can sound like digital inside baseball, but archivists and historians take this sort of thing more seriously. Do we really want officials to selectively determine what citizens get to know about how they carry out the people’s business?

    The best example of why that is a perilous path was on public display this week thanks to a Department of Justice report on the Ferguson Police Department.

    [Watch Video]The NewsHour invited Rev. Starsky Wilson and Kevin Ahlbrand of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, two members of an independent commission set up by the state of Missouri, to discuss the recent Justice Department report on Ferguson.

    Federal prosecutors may not have been able to reach the legal bar needed to bring a civil rights case against Darren Wilson — the white officer who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown — but the emails contained in an investigation into the police department were damning enough. The casual, slashing racism directed at black people in particular and black people in general, sears the mind.

    Among the most shocking revelation in the 102-page Justice Department report: every time a Ferguson police dog bit somebody, that person was black.

    This is what transparency looks like.

    Transparency of a different sort was on trial at the Supreme Court, in critical arguments that could determine the future of the president’s signature achievement — the Affordable Care Act now indelibly known as Obamacare.

    After failing to get the act declared unconstitutional the last time a challenge made it to the Supreme Court, ACA opponents found a new approach — arguing that the administration secretly tried to trick people into signing up.

    [Watch Video]Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal offers a look at the Supreme Court arguments, plus Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress and Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute give two takes on the case.

    The argument centers on a line in the law that says states must be the ones to create the insurance exchanges that make the insurance affordable. If the states opt out of the exchanges — and many have — the Federal government has been setting up exchanges instead. That, opponents say, is the trick.

    The justices now have to decide whether that twists existing law, and if it does, whether millions will now be forced out of affordable insurance plans.

    That will require some clarity.

    And Congress has been wrestling with its own sometimes murky politics. What seems to be clear is that most lawmakers support national security and oppose government shutdowns. They support Israel and don’t trust Iran. But they just can’t agree on how to achieve even these commonly held goals.

    So perhaps the lesson is that in government and politics, clarity is not the prize we say it is. And that even when things are clear, we learn things we’d rather not know.

    The post Gwen’s Take: Hillary, Congress & Ferguson: The perils of seeing more clearly appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents begin reading aloud to their children starting in infancy. Photo by Flickr user kelly.sikkema.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents begin reading aloud to their children starting in infancy. Photo by Flickr user kelly.sikkema.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents begin reading aloud to their children starting in infancy. But what happens when children become readers themselves?

    Is there a benefit to encouraging children to read out loud, as well as silently? PBS NewsHour recently held a Facebook chat on the benefits of reading aloud with Pam Allyn, founding director of LitWorld, Dr. Perri Klass, national medical director of the nonprofit Reach Out and Read, and Maggie McGuire, vice president of Scholastic’s kids and parents websites. Read excerpts from the conversation below. Excerpts have been lightly edited for grammar and clarity.

    PBS NewsHour: Q1: What are the benefits of reading aloud?

    Scholastic: It opens a world of possible. Discuss what you think about the news, favorite articles or a story you’re reading with them. Asking their opinion creates a sense of autonomy. You’ll start to see them share their favorite stories you’ve read together or apart. You will see it in their creative writing, art and beyond. It’s really wonderful.

    Pam Allyn: This idea of text interaction is so crucial. The child is experiencing the connection between the text and the ideas he or she as a reader is building and creating.
    I also like what Scholastic says about the connection to writing. Reading aloud is a way to show children models of great writing and to really realize how much craft goes into that writing.

    Scholastic: We have proof kids love it. According to our “Kids & Family Reading Report,” 40 percent of kids ages 6-11 whose parents stopped reading aloud to them, said they wished their parents continued.

    Reach Out And Read National Center: As a pediatrician, I give many pieces of advice that parents find difficult to carry out. One wonderful part about giving parents the guidance around reading aloud is that they come back and say: “I love it, my child loves it, he wants to do it every day, I look forward to these moments, so do my children.” It becomes a habit in the best possible way!

    PBS NewsHour: Q2: Does reading aloud affect children’s educational outcomes beyond literacy?

    Reach Out And Read National Center: Absolutely! First of all, let’s remember that reading is the key to school success in many areas beyond “reading” as a subject. A great deal of children’s school success (math problems, social studies, pretty much any subject) is predicated on their ability to get information efficiently out of printed text – so when you’re comfortable with the written word, you’re on track for a variety of subjects.

    Scholastic: It gets kids to build critical thinking, comprehension and analytic skills. It taps their imagination and creativity. You are shaping multiple types of intelligences when engaging in reading aloud – and sharing stories and their meaning.

    PBS NewsHour: Q3: What impacts a population’s literacy rates?

    Pam Allyn: Poverty is a huge predictor of children’s literacy rates. It is a staggering link. Access to safe learning spaces, to summer and out of school time learning and to authentic quality children’s books also profoundly impacts literacy rates.

    Megan Karges: Pam Allyn, as you said, summer can be such a critical gap in children’s learning lives. What should teachers and parents do before summer arrives to get ready and prepared for summer?

    Pam Allyn: Megan Karges, summer is a huge gap and research shows that children can experience what is called “the summer slide,” where they actually fall back as readers. We can all take action on this by making sure children have access to books over the summer and that rituals like the read aloud will continue every day throughout the summer.

    Reach Out And Read National Center: When we talk about literacy in our own country, of course, we aren’t talking about a simple divide – some people literate, others not – we’re really talking about levels of proficiency, levels of comfort – how people are able to use written language effectively in their daily lives, can they learn using written language, get the information they need from written language, hold jobs which require written language. I’d also like to speak to the advantages of creating positive associations with books that children get from reading aloud. You really want children to arrive at school with the strong sense that books are sources of pleasure and information.

    Pam Allyn: Yes, Reach Out And Read National Center, very good point. I think we often define literacy as simply the decoding on the page but in fact those levels of comfort and also stamina are huge. Closing the literacy gap means we have to work on all these factors. By far the simplest to solve, because it can happen in both home and school relatively quickly and at low cost, is access to quality books that will compel and engage a child. It is such a simple solution to closing the literacy gap, but we haven’t made nearly enough progress ensuring every child has access from babyhood on.

    PBS NewsHour: Q4: What is the potential of reading aloud as a tool to promote social change?

    Reach Out And Read National Center: Helping children to grow up understanding written language and its power is helping them to grow up with the ability to take part in the larger civic conversation. Children who aren’t comfortable with written discourse are at risk of being marginalized, of not being heard. So when I look at my patients, even the very young ones who aren’t talking yet, I really do believe that by reading aloud their parents are helping them along the path to civic engagement. More directly, one of the ideas behind Reach Out and Read, and the idea of literacy promotion in pediatric practice, has always been that it gives us a way to help parents give their children a good start and address some of the disparities we all worry about before they happen, helping children grow up with skills that shift the odds for success in school.

    Pam Allyn: I like what Reach Out And Read National Center says about how all parents can give their children a good start; that is very powerful. And that every parent can be empowered to make change in their child’s life. Even if a parent is not fully comfortable as a reader, reading aloud through the pictures of a picture book is a great and important thing to do. Reading is a core ingredient to close the poverty gap. It is one of those rare things that demonstrates social change in the moment of its happening.

    BookMentors: Agree that being heard and wanting to be heard is a very important outcome of reading aloud.

    PBS NewsHour: Q5: Are all books created equal? How important is the content and quality of reading material?

    Reach Out And Read National Center: I think we all know that there are certain children’s books that children respond to, generation after generation. Parents also know that individual children connect with the most unexpected books. So one part of the answer has to be, follow your child’s cues! When we talk about pediatric advice at the two year-old visit, for example, one of the things we tell parents is, she may want to hear the same book over and over and over!

    Pam Allyn: I always say that any book that a child loves to read is a good book. I look for books with authentic characters and ideas that speak to how a child views the world. It is also important for every child to have access to books in his or her native language where possible, and to see books with characters who remind the child of him or herself in some deep way. Quality books can be both mirrors and windows – the child sees himself in the character or in the content of the text, the mirror, and also that the child can see the world in a new way, the window. E.B. White is a good example of the complexity of defining quality. On the surface, “Charlotte’s Web” seems simple. There are not a lot of long sentences and flowery language. But his writing style and empathy with the world of a child made him a legend.

    Scholastic: When it comes to quality, our lens as adults for selecting books for our kids should take into consideration what will be appealing to them as much as other criteria like awards, ratings and reviews. You are more likely to have a frequent reader if they get to choose what they read. (Source: Kids & Family Reading Report)

    Lynda Tocci: What is the impact of technology – tablets, phones and more screens – on kids’ reading habits?

    Reach Out And Read National Center: The technology question is a very interesting one for all of us, but whatever we do, we have to keep the parent interaction piece at the center for young children

    Scholastic: Reading ebooks and print both count! Giving kids access to great stories and reading experiences is priority number one. For some kids who are not on their peers’ reading level (especially older kids), reading on a device offers them anonymity and allows them to read something they may not want to share publicly.

    Pam Allyn: Lynda Tocci, I agree with Reach Out And Read National Center, the key here is to sustain and illuminate the parent interaction no matter what tool is being used. The impact is a bit unclear right now. My overall view is that any tool is a good tool if it’s providing access to more books and opportunities to interact and engage deeply with texts.

    Cynthia Buck: Technology has helped us. My husband reads ebooks to/with one of our granddaughters over the phone once or twice a week. She gets on her tablet, he on his, and you can hear the happiness from both sides. Favorite books are then bought in print in order to keep forever.

    PBS NewsHour: Q6: What tips can you offer parents for getting an active child to sit and read aloud?

    Reach Out And Read National Center: We talk about this all the time with parents of toddlers! Find stories that have rhyme and rhythm, be prepared to read a page or two then act it out, or let the child run around and come back. Do not make reading a test that the child will fail.

    Pam Allyn: At our LitWorld Harlem LitCamps we combine animal themed read alouds with morning yoga. The kids do special poses for each animal character.

    Scholastic: Read to them as they play. Read a book your child can act out. For little ones, Eric Carle’s “From Head to Toe” is one of many examples. Another suggestion is to read dynamic books that include flaps, different textures, and other novel items for your child to engage with physically. Finally, try audio books. Pop one in the car while you go for a drive. You can even hand the hardcopy to your kids so they can follow along and listen.

    PBS NewsHour: Q7: What advice would you give to parents for keeping older children interested in reading aloud together?

    Pam Allyn: Great question! My advice is to follow their interests and passions and to provide a wide variety of texts (not just chapter books but also informational texts) to read aloud. Read aloud from magazines and poetry. Poetry can be so appealing and it’s often short! You can tuck into the busy schedules of older kids. Also, mixing up the times of day or night to read aloud, maybe not the bedtime story motif anymore, but a Saturday morning ritual, or while you are preparing dinner together.

    Reach Out And Read National Center: Sometimes in the pediatric office, we’ll use the arrival of a new baby or the presence of a younger sibling to make the case for reading with the older child. We talk about having an older sibling read to the younger one. We talk to parents about how an older child may want to listen to favorite books being read to a younger one, but also how a younger child may want to listen to “older” books as well.

    The post Facebook chat: How to raise a lifelong reader appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo of a lamassu (human-headed winged lion) in Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, 870 BC, Nimrud, Iraq. Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images

    Photo of a lamassu (human-headed winged lion) in Palace of Ashurnasirpal II in Nimrud, Iraq, built around 870 BC. Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images

    Islamic State fighters ransacked and bulldozed the centuries-old archaeological site of Nimrud in northern Iraq on Thursday, in what the head of the U.N.’s cultural agency decried as a “cultural cleansing” that amounted to a “war crime.”

    It was the militant group’s latest assault on the ancient heritage of their conquered territories in Iraq and Syria, after smashing thousands of statues and torching the library in Mosul last month.

    The Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced the destruction in a statement on Thursday, but the extent of the damage has not yet been determined.

    “The terrorist gangs of ISIS are continuing to defy the will of the world and the feelings of humanity after they committed a new crime that belongs to its idiotic series,” the ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page, according to the New York Times.

    The ruins of Nimrud, located 20 miles south of Mosul on the banks of the Tigris River, date back to the 13th century B.C. They are all that remain of what was once the powerful capital of the ancient Assyrian empire.

    Among the treasures of Nimrud are massive statues of the Assyrian protective deities known as “lamassu.” Last week, the Islamic State group released a video of its militants destroying one such statue, and more are believed to still be buried beneath the site.

    “I cannot even describe the immensity of this loss,” said Ihsan Fethi, a member of the Iraqi Architects Society, to the New York Times. “This is one of the most famous and probably one of the most important sites in the world.”

    Two Iraqi women talk in front of Assyrian mural sculptures July 3, 2003 as the Baghdad museum briefly re-opened to display ancient Nimrud treasures. One of the most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century, the Nimrud treasures were destroyed by Islamic State militants, the Iraqi ministry announced Thursday. Photo by Radu Sigheti/Reuters

    Two Iraqi women talk in front of Assyrian mural sculptures July 3, 2003, as the Baghdad museum briefly re-opened to display ancient Nimrud treasures. One of the most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century, the Nimrud treasures were destroyed by Islamic State militants, the Iraqi ministry announced Thursday. Photo by Radu Sigheti/Reuters

    Nimrud had just recently been nominated by the Iraqi government for inclusion on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.

    The Islamic State group, which controls a vast swath of territory stretching from Iraq to Syria, destroys statues and relics that it believes are “false idols” in its quest to establish a caliphate that lives by the edicts of 7th century Islamic law.

    “Leaving these gangs without punishment will encourage them to eliminate human civilization entirely, especially the Mesopotamian civilization, which cannot be compensated,” the Iraqi ministry said in its statement.

    The Iraqi Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for unity against the onslaught of Islamic State forces in a Friday sermon, saying, “Day after day, the need is proven for everyone to unite and fight this ferocious organization that spares neither man nor stone.”

    On Friday, Iraqi troops reached the outskirts of the IS-held town of Tikrit, positioning themselves for a battle to retake the city that will be a major test for the Iraqi army, Reuters reported.

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    procrastinationSpring is closer than you think, and here’s a sure sign: daylight saving time arrives this weekend.

    Most Americans will set their clocks 60 minutes forward before heading to bed Saturday night, and most smart phones should update automatically. Daylight saving time officially starts Sunday at 2 a.m. local time.

    You may lose an hour of sleep, but daylight saving time promises an extra hour of evening light for months ahead.

    It’s also a good time to put new batteries in warning devices such as smoke detectors and hazard warning radios.

    The time change is not observed by Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.

    Daylight saving time ends Nov. 1.

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    Albert Maysles works in his office in New York March 6, 2006. Maysles died Thursday night at the age of 88. Photo by REUTERS/Seth Wenig

    Albert Maysles works in his office in New York March 6, 2006. Maysles died Thursday night at the age of 88. Photo by REUTERS/Seth Wenig

    Albert Maysles, the award-winning documentary filmmaker who helped pioneer a new set of documentary conventions, died Thursday night at his home in Manhattan. His death was confirmed by family friend K. A. Dilday.

    Maysles, who made films with his brother David, is best known for his for his cinema verite documentaries “Grey Gardens,” “Gimme Shelter” and “Salesman.”

    The filmmaker was born in Boston on Nov. 26, 1926, but later moved with his brother and his parents, a postal clerk and a school teacher, to Brookline, Massachusetts. Maysles claimed that he developed strong listening skills thanks to his experience growing up with a learning disability.

    He studied psychology at Syracuse University and received a master’s degree from Boston University, where he taught psychology for three years.

    That grounding in mental health helped him during the creation of his first film, “Psychiatry in Russia” (1955), which he made on a trip to the Soviet Union. Upon his return, Maysles showed the film to Eleanor Roosevelt. She was leaving for Russia in a few weeks and asked him to join. Unfortunately, the equipment at the time was too unwieldy and he wasn’t able to travel with Roosevelt. Maysles shared the story of his almost-trip with Roosevelt with chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown in 2009.

    However, over the years, technological advancements allowed Maysles to create more documentaries in his unique and pioneering style.

    Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones is pictured in the 1970 documentary film "Gimmie Shelter"  by  filmmakers David and Albert  Maysles.

    Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones is pictured in the 1970 documentary film “Gimmie Shelter” by filmmakers David and Albert Maysles.

    “I think getting close to people, not staging anything, not relying on narration or a host, just letting things speak for themselves. That’s the way it began and that’s the way it is today,” Maysles told Brown in 2009. “It was so exhilarating to be able to tell a story so accurately without imposing oneself on what’s taking place.”

    In 1962, the brothers established Maysles Films and together created several well-received documentaries. To support that documentary work, they produced television commercials for IBM, Merrill Lynch and other large corporations.

    In 1968, the Maysles brothers created “Salesman,” a documentary following four door-to-door salesmen selling Bibles to people who could not afford them. In 1970, they produced, “Gimme Shelter,” which chronicled the Rolling Stones’ 1969 American tour and included footage of a fan who was stabbed to death during a concert in California.

    In 1975, the Maysles brothers released “Grey Gardens,” which captured the lives of cousins of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Edith Bouvier and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale, who were living in their decaying East Hampton house. The documentary later became the basis for a musical which won two Tony Awards in 2007. The musical was then turned into an HBO film, which won six Emmy Awards, including best television movie and best lead actress.

    Director Albert Maysles, left, thanks artists Christo, right, and Jeanne-Claude after accepting a Peabody for a documentary about the art installation "The Gates" during the 68th annual George Foster Peabody Award ceremony in New York May 18, 2009. Photo by REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

    Director Albert Maysles, left, thanks artists Christo, right, and Jeanne-Claude after accepting a Peabody for a documentary about the art installation “The Gates” during the 68th annual George Foster Peabody Award ceremony in New York May 18, 2009. Photo by REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

    The Maysles’ films were primarily seen on TV and two of their documentaries won Emmy Awards, “Vladimir Horowitz: The Last Romantic” (1985) and “Soldiers of Music” (1991). In 1987, David died of a stroke and Albert brought a third director on to finish “Soldiers of Music.”

    Albert won another Emmy in 1992 for “Abortion: Desperate Choices,” which he co-directed with Deborah Dickson and Susan Froemke. The filmmaker also received an Oscar nomination for best documentary short for “Christo’s Valley Curtain” (1974), one of six films that Maysles created about the work of the large-scale installation artist Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude.

    Maysles was a productive filmmaker well into his late 80s. In July, he received a National Medal of Arts from President Obama. In October, his most recent documentary, a portrait of interior decorator Iris Apfel titled “Iris,” was presented at the New York Film Festival. The Tribeca Film Festival also recently announced that in April it will host the world premiere of “In Transit,” a film Maysles co-directed about the Empire Builder, a long-distance train route between Chicago, Portland and Seattle.

    Maysles is survived by his wife of 38 years, Gillian Walker, and three children, Rebekah, Sara and Philip. He was 88 years old.

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    Illustration by Getty Images

    Illustration by Getty Images

    A school assembly in Texas drew national attention after a startup founder’s message to students was criticized as tone-deaf.

    Kash Shaikh, whose company #BeSomebody calls itself “the World’s Platform for Passion,” addressed students at Austin High School on Jan. 5 about the experience of leaving his job to pursue other goals. #BeSomebody has an app that matches users with other people who share their interests and received $1 million from E.W. Scripps last year.

    “I called myself out 19 months ago and walked away from everything I once thought was important: money, title, lifestyle, things, a career that started at Proctor and Gamble, the largest consumer products company in the world, and started to blossom at GoPro, the fastest growing camera company in the world,” Shaikh said in a speech at University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in December.

    Shaikh’s message—to follow your dream without a “Plan B”—failed to resonate with students, who criticized him as ignorant of the privileges that allowed him to follow his passion in contrast to the difficulties facing young students. State data from last year show that 33 percent of students at Austin High School are “economically disadvantaged,” KUT reported.

    Student Sean Saldana wrote in The Maroon, a nearby school’s newspaper, that Shaikh’s access to education, access to funding and prior job experience were advantages that many people lack. He wrote:

    If Kash Shaikh ever had a doubt that his dream would come true he could abandon his company and find a great job with a nice salary with few issues, I imagine. The average high school student isn’t in the same boat as him. For every Kash Shaikh, there are hundreds and hundreds of minimum wage retail workers who couldn’t find a sustainable way to practice their passions.

    Shaikh responded with an online post criticizing students’ attitudes titled “You Have No Idea What PASSION Means” and #BeSomebody content director Alex Dorner lashed out at critics on Twitter, calling one Austin High School teacher a “dork.”

    The Austin Independent School District released a statement to KUT on the reaction to the speech.

    “Austin High School prides itself on being a safe, respectful forum in which the school community can discuss and debate ideas and opinions,” the statement said. “Mr. Shaikh’s presentation sparked much discussion. Although some of the discussions after the assembly became heated, we are proud of the way our school community handled and responded to the ideas and opinions presented.”

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    Credit: Lisa Overton/NewsHour Weekend

    Credit: Lisa Overton/NewsHour Weekend

    While it has been more than two decades since Oregon voters approved the nation’s first assisted suicide law, the controversial practice returned to the headlines last fall with the story of Brittany Maynard.

    Suffering from an aggressive and fatal form of brain cancer, the 29-year-old Californian took her own life in November in accordance with Oregon’s death with dignity law.

    Maynard’s death renewed the national conversation around assisted suicide. Since last fall, the laws governing the practice — even in states where it’s legal — have continued to evolve.

    This past week, Oregon state representative Mitch Greenlick (D) introduced a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication for patients who have one year left to live, up from the six months currently permitted by law.

    Assisted suicide is still only legal in three states — with court decisions opening the door to the practice in New Mexico and Montana. But following Maynard’s very visible campaign, dozens of states have introduced or are reconsidering right-to-die legislation. Lawsuits have been filed in California and New York to allow the practice in those states as well.

    It’s an issue that has been on the mind’s of producers at the NewsHour for years.

    My colleague Lee Hochberg reported on the legal and courtroom tussle that Oregon faced in the wake of the Death With Dignity law’s passage in 1994. It all resulted in yet another referendum reaffirming the law in 1997 and eventually a Supreme Court decision.

    And the conversation lingers with many Americans as well. As our population ages and our medical advances improve, there are questions about how far we’re willing to go to prolong our lives.

    A few weeks ago, leading health care expert Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel penned an Atlantic magazine piece, ‘Why I Want to Die at 75.’ He explained his rationale to our Judy Woodruff.

    Canada’s supreme court this February overturned its ban on assisted suicide. In Belgium, which has the world’s most liberal law on physician-assisted suicide, patients with psychiatric illness — and even children — can request euthanasia.

    This all leads to a single question — how do we want to die?

    Many Americans have decades to answer that question, but Brittany’s case makes it very real for a much younger demographic. It’s not quite clear yet what impact her story will have on the right-to-die movement, but she has certainly sparked a crucial conversation.

    Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Nov. 2, 2014. It has been updated as of Mar. 6, 2015.

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    U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., will soon face criminal corruption charges according to reporting by CNN. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., will soon face criminal corruption charges according to reporting by CNN. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder is declining to say if he has approved the filing of corruption charges against New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez.

    Nor is Menendez shedding much light on the situation.

    CNN first reported that the Justice Department is preparing to bring criminal corruption charges against the lawmaker centering on his relationship with a Florida ophthalmologist, Dr. Salomon Melgen.

    A statement issued by the senator’s office Friday says many false allegations have been made about his ties with Melgen, who is a friend and donor to Menendez’s campaigns.

    The statement from an aide to the senator acknowledges that a public investigation is ongoing and says Menendez can’t respond to anonymous allegations.

    -Associated Press

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    Documentary filmmakers Albert Maysles and David Maysles stand next to musician Mick Jagger on the set of the 1970 documentary 'Gimme Shelter.'Photo by Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Images

    Documentary filmmakers Albert Maysles and David Maysles stand next to musician Mick Jagger on the set of the 1970 documentary “Gimme Shelter.” Below are clips spanning Mayles’ six-decade career. Photo by Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Images

    The award-winning documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles had a clear idea of what non-fiction filmmaking should look like — and it wasn’t exactly convention when he began creating films in 1955. He was determined to let the subject and the story speak for itself, without formal interviews, staging or narration, sometimes without any words at all.

    “Psychiatry in Russia” (1955)

    Maysles died Thursday night, after a 60-year long career that deeply affected the conversations around nonfiction filmmaking, conversations about truth, accuracy, bias and exploitation.

    “Salesman” (1968)

    “There’s hopefully no control except with the camera, there’s of course, you run the camera when you think it’s appropriate to and you film things that are appropriate to the story,” Maysles, who had just received the Charles Guggenheim Symposium award, told chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown in 2009. “Alfred Hitchcock put it beautifully when he said, ‘in a fiction film, the director is god. In a nonfiction film, namely a documentary, god is the director.’”

    “Gimme Shelter” (1970)

    Whether capturing the lives of rock stars, heavyweight champions, travelling salesmen, eccentric society mavens or everyday people, Maysles created a level of trust with his subjects.

    “It all starts from the very first moment I meet somebody,” he said. “They catch something in my eyes that indicates that I’m OK, that I’m going to give them a kind of attention that is full of understanding and love and that’s what I do.”

    “Unwrapping Valley Curtain” (1974)

    “Grey Gardens” (1975)

    “When We Were Kings” (1996)

    “Iris” (2014)

    Listen to Jeffrey Brown’s conversation with Albert Mayles from 2009 about what’s changed since the 1960s and how important it is to maintain a respectful and trusting relationship with the subject.

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    Masked Shi'ite fighters hold their weapons in Al Hadidiya, south of Tikrit, en route to the Islamic State-controlled al-Alam

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now we turn our sights on the battle against the Islamic State group.

    Iran’s role in fighting the extremists came under increasing focus this week and is prompting fears among U.S. allies.

    Jeffrey Brown reports.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The biggest offensive yet to push back Islamic State militants is raging around Tikrit, the birthplace of Saddam Hussein, 110 miles north of Baghdad.

    As Iraqi forces draw closer to the city, they’re helped not by the U.S., but by Iraqi Shiite militias with Iranian backing. Militia forces have been previously accused of atrocities against Sunnis on land recaptured from the Islamic State.

    All of this has renewed hard questions about Iran’s influence in Iraq and it’s put the U.S. on the spot, as the leader of the coalition against the Islamic State.

    Joint Chiefs Chair General Martin Dempsey spoke Tuesday.

    GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff: This is the most overt conduct of Iranian support in the form of artillery and other things. Frankly, it will only be a problem if it results in sectarianism. If they perform in a credible way, rid the city of Tikrit, turn it back over to its inhabitants, then it will, in the main, have been a positive thing in terms of the counter-ISIL campaign.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The matter is further complicated by unconfirmed reports that General Qassem Suleimani was seen on the battlefield this week. He commands Iran’s elite Quds Force, which Washington considers a terrorist organization. He also orchestrated attacks on U.S. forces during the war in Iraq.

    Iran’s involvement doesn’t sit well with many American allies. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the issue during his speech to Congress this week.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel: When it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy. Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, just yesterday, Saudi Arabia registered its concerns with Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to Riyadh.


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    The memoir of former U.S. President George W. Bush, "Decision Points,"  is displayed at a Borders book store in Washington, D.C., U.S. on Tuesday, Nov., 9, 2010. Bush reflects on his family life and eight years at the White House in the autobiography. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    The presidential autobiography is de rigueur in this country, but so are memoirs of all types. Americans love to share their life stories, says Qi Wang, the author of “The Autobiographical Self in Time and Culture.” Photo of former U.S. President George W. Bush’s autobiography, “Decision Points,” by Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    We Americans are obsessed with telling our life stories. And it’s not just politicians and celebrities (Did you know that former President Jimmy Carter wrote eight memoirs?). Stories aren’t just for the famous; there are memoirs written by ordinary people and those written for dogs and cats. And for the fame-hungry, there is reality television, where average people can turn into instant celebrities by revealing their personal dramas, including the ugliest and most intimate, to a mass audience. We have macroblogging, microblogging, instant messaging, status updates, Snapchat “stories” and more.

    But the phenomenon isn’t simply the product of our technological world. Sharing personal stories is an essential ingredient in everyday conversations. We are eager to tell our stories and are fascinated by those of others. Even at preschool, “sharing time” is a common Monday-morning activity where the youngsters sit in a circle and take turns telling a story about something they did over the weekend.

    So what is this obsession about? Why isn’t having an experience enough that we also have to talk about it? Psychologists have found that personal storytelling helps us shape our “selves.” In the process of sharing our stories, we are telling others and ourselves how our unique experiences make us who we are. Our stories, capturing intimate details and our innermost thoughts and feelings, can best separate ourselves from other selves. These other “me’s” serve as a looking glass against which the storyteller establishes him- or herself as a separate, distinct individual.

    Interestingly, this obsession is not necessarily shared by people from other cultures. In many Asian countries, for example, where talking about and drawing attention to oneself can be seen as socially inappropriate, people are often reluctant to share their life stories and do not encourage others to do so. Asian politicians and celebrities also shy away from writing about their lives, in contrast to their tell-all American peers. Even a man as great as Mahatma Gandhi had to wrestle with the idea of writing his autobiography, since producing a self-focused narrative contradicted the values of modesty.

    Psychologists have found that personal storytelling helps us shape our “selves.” In the process of sharing our stories, we are telling others and ourselves how our unique experiences make us who we are.
    When people do share their stories, whether in memoirs or casual conversation or psychological studies, they tend to focus more on external facts than personal details. The popular Chinese television journalist Rui Chenggang (芮成钢), writing in his memoir about receiving a prestigious award at the World Economic Forum, says in just one sentence: “I attended the World Economic Forum the first time in 2001, where Professor Schwab awarded me the title of ‘2001 Global Leader for Tomorrow.’” Asians believe that a person is largely defined by his or her social status and relationships, leaving little reason to broadcast detailed and revealing personal stories to establish a unique self.

    Ironically, the more unique we Americans strive to be, the greater our need to feel connected with others. In our culture of individuality, relationships are highly mobile and voluntary and can be easily formed or dissolved — so much so that individuals must actively maintain their relationships. Sharing personal stories brings us closer through the exchange of thoughts, feelings and desires. It connects us like many different nodes, holding our family, community and society together. This motivation to tell personal stories as a way of fostering relationships is not nearly as strong among Asians, for whom social relations are generally unconditional, obligatory and stable, and therefore require little maintenance. To intentionally recount one’s past for the purpose of making social connections could be seen as unnecessary or even improper.

    Parents in the U.S. and Asia differ in how they share memories with their young children. American parents regard parent-child bonding as the No.1 priority of personal storytelling: They encourage children to share their stories, pay great attention to and are sympathetic with children’s thoughts and feelings, and create opportunities to re-experience the past with children. Asian parents, by contrast, engage their children in telling personal stories less frequently and view such activities as less formative and important than Americans parents. When they do talk about a child’s experiences, they are not particularly concerned with parent-child bonding but tend to focus on disciplining the child.

    In America, a culture founded on the pursuit of happiness, we are also motivated to tell our stories for therapeutic purposes. We talk about our success stories with others, especially those who will cheer us on, so that we can capitalize on our positive feelings about ourselves. We share our failures, frustrations and traumas with others to seek sympathy, advice, and social support, in the hope that we will feel better.

    In Waiting for Godot, Estragon hears many voices talking about their lives. Vladimir comments, “To have lived is not enough for them,” and Estragon agrees, “They have to talk about it.” Americans, more than other cultures, seem to embrace that need to talk about it. And whether our appetite for personal storytelling is about validating an experience, establishing an identity or soothing psychic pain, it would appear that the drive to share our stories is picking up speed.

    The PBS NewsHour is sharing this story as part of our partnership with OZY Media.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The February jobs report came in stronger than expected, with more than 200,000 jobs a month being added for the past year, the best pace since 1995. The unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest point since the financial crisis of 2008.

    Still, it has not translated at some levels. Wage growth remains sluggish. Hourly earnings were up just a 10th-of-a-percent last month. And the civilian labor force, people who are working or actively looking for work, shrank in February.

    Thomas Perez is the U.S. secretary of labor, and he joins us now.

    Welcome to the program.

    THOMAS PEREZ, Secretary of Labor: It’s always a pleasure to be with you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, break these numbers down for us. Who is creating these jobs? Who’s getting them?


    Well, as you correctly said, this is the best 12-month period we have had in decades. We haven’t seen 200,000 or more jobs for 12 months in a row literally in decades. And the nice thing about this report and the nice thing about this about what we have seen over the last year, Judy, is it is broad-based growth.

    The biggest job creator is business and professional services. Those are well-paying jobs and consultants, accountants, things of that nature. Then we have health care, which has really been recession-proof. Construction is doing very well. The average person in manufacturing is working 42 hours a week.

    So, not only are the quantity of jobs increasing, but the quality of jobs over the last year has been much better.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, at the same time, your friends the Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee in the House in the Congress are saying, still, at this rate, you need to create over 400,000 jobs a month in order to close what they call the job gap under this president.

    THOMAS PEREZ: Well, it’s hard to listen to that without wondering what they’re doing.

    I mean, if we had — my biggest frustration, Judy, is we’re at 5.5 percent unemployment right now. We could be at 5 percent if we did things that have been tried and true in a bipartisan fashion in the past, transportation infrastructure, the minimum wage, immigration reform.

    The Congressional Budget Office looked at the bipartisan immigration bill from the last Congress. It lifted wages, it creates jobs, it helps sustain the Social Security trust fund. So we could be doing even better if we could get some help from the Republican leadership in Congress right now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, you mentioned wages. Let’s talk about that. We said they’re growing slowly. We said how little it was last month, 2 percent a year. The Brookings Institution says, right now, almost two-thirds of American households earn less money today than they did in 2002.

    How do you explain that to the American people?

    THOMAS PEREZ: Well, the issue of real wage growth is one of the most important pieces of unfinished business from the great recession.

    I mean, our — we have a wind at our back, but what we have to do — and the difference between now and the late ’90s was that the growth we saw in the late ’90s resulted in greater shared prosperity. The rising tide lifted more boats. And what we have to do now is make sure that our tailwind results in shared prosperity.

    And the issue of the stubborn growth of wages isn’t simply an issue that is a function of the great recession. This has been a problem and a challenge for literally 30 years. With the exception of the late ’90s, we have seen great productivity growth, but it hasn’t translated into real wage growth. And for the decades before that, productivity growth and wage growth went hand in hand.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, is this a structural problem? Because we have been hearing for some time that the wages are going to come, the wages are going to come, but they’re still not coming. And I think the American people are saying, you know, when is this going to happen? It’s not translating into a better life, a better life for me, for ordinary people.

    THOMAS PEREZ: Well, for those who are long-term unemployed and are now back to work, it is translating into a better life. And I have met so many people who are in that boat.

    For others, they haven’t had a meaningful raise in years. And I refuse to believe that — when I hear the word structural, I think that is frankly all too frequently an excuse for people who don’t want to do anything. There’s a lot we can do to ensure shared prosperity. And that is why, for instance, we’re using our regulatory authority to address the issue of people who work overtime who ought to be compensated for that.

    And that’s going to help millions of people. We helped two million home health workers. We’re continuing to work in a number of areas to make sure that when people are helping to bake the pie of prosperity in this country, that they share in that prosperity, and it’s not fair that we have record profits on Wall Street, but then workers aren’t sharing in that profit.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, and what about this other troubling part of all these numbers? And that is the so-called labor participation rate. The percentage of Americans who could be working continues to drop. What’s behind that? What’s happening and why is this so hard to turn around?

    THOMAS PEREZ: Well, actually, if you look at the last year — and this is actually, I think, a piece of good news.

    Over the last year, the labor force participation rate has been basically flat. It has literally gone between 62.7 percent and 62.9 percent. So you have a flat labor force participation rate, and yet we still see the unemployment rate going down 1.2 percent. And what that means is that the reason why — the main reason why the unemployment rate dipped was that more unemployed people got work.

    If the labor force participation rate had dipped precipitously and we had seen low unemployment rate, that would be a lower unemployment rate for bad reasons. But we have had basically a flat labor force participation rate over the last year. And we see our unemployment rate going down. And, again, the main reason is because more unemployed people are getting work. And that’s good news.

    And they’re getting work in good jobs. We have more people who are voluntarily quitting their jobs than we have had in years. And that’s a good sign, because people only quit their job if they feel confident they can get a better job. And we had something like 2.8 million people voluntarily quit their job last year. It was roughly half of that during the depths of the great recession.

    We have five million openings right now. And that’s a sign of a good, robust labor market, with the churn that we need to get people back to work.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I know it’s a picture everybody wants to understand better. And we thank you for coming in to talk to us.

    THOMAS PEREZ: Always a pleasure.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thomas Perez, U.S. secretary of labor, thanks.

    THOMAS PEREZ: Always a pleasure to be with you and your listeners.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF:  The strong jobs report pushed stocks on Wall Street down, on fears that it means an interest rate hike is imminent. The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 280 points to close under 18000. The Nasdaq fell 55 points. The S&P 500 lost 30 points. For the week, the Dow and S&P lost 1.5 percent. The Nasdaq slipped less than a percent.

    City officials in Ferguson, Missouri, fired three employees today because of racial bias found in their e-mails. It followed this week’s release of a federal report on police practices there in the wake of the killing of black teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson. During a college town hall in South Carolina today, President Obama said the report had exposed a — quote — “broken, racially biased system.”

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: One of the things that I think frustrated the people of Ferguson, in addition to the specific case of Michael Brown, was this sense of, you know what, we have been putting up for this for years, and now, when we start talking about it, everybody’s pretending like it’s just our imaginations.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama also made clear he agreed with the Justice Department’s decision not to charge Darren Wilson, saying the standard for federal charges is high and the officer is entitled to due process.

    It was widely reported today that criminal corruption charges are pending against Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey. U.S. officials have told several media outlets the charges will be filed in the coming weeks. They relate to an investigation involving a Florida donor who is a close ally of Menendez. Today, a Menendez aide said the senator’s actions have been — quote — “appropriate and lawful.”

    A huge swathe of the U.S. spent today digging out after a massive winter storm. The cleanup came with record-shattering cold from Texas to New York. In some places, temperatures were 10 to 30 degrees below normal. In Central Kentucky, traffic on a major highway was flowing again after stalled tractor-trailers were removed overnight. Some drivers were trapped for nearly 24 hours.

    Iraqi government forces closed in on a strategic city that’s been held by Islamic State militants since last June. They made it to towns on the outskirts of Tikrit, but retreating Islamic State fighters left the area rigged with bombs. Meanwhile, reports the Islamic State bulldozed the ancient city of Nimrud in Northern Iraq drew condemnation. The head of the U.N.’s Cultural Agency called it a war crime, and archaeologists said, if true, it was a major loss.

    MARK ALTAWEEL, University College London: There’s nothing like Nimrud. This is a site where we have had numerous discoveries that are unique, the queen’s tombs, the ivories that have been found there. All these are very unique kinds of finds, so we know this is a site of substantial importance and uniqueness in the ancient Near East, so any damage to it is of grave concern.

    Nimrud dates back almost 3,000 years and is considered one of the 20th century’s most important archaeological finds.

    The Department of Justice is calling it the largest data breach in the history of the Internet and today charged three people in an e-mail hacking scheme. Two are Vietnamese citizens. One is Canadian. Between 2009 and 2012, they stole over a billion e-mail addresses, sent spam marketing to them, and made millions of dollars in profit. Two of the men are in custody. One remains at large.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first low-cost version of a biotech drug. These are drugs made from a living organism. It’s a copy of the drug Neupogen that boosts blood cells in cancer patients to help fight infection. It wasn’t until 2012 that the FDA even had a system to approve cheaper copies of expensive biotech drugs. The so-called biosimilar will launch later this year. But there were no immediate details about its pricing.

    In Wisconsin, the Republican-controlled legislature approved a strong anti-labor law today after an overnight debate. The so-called right-to-work law prohibits businesses and unions from requiring workers to pay union dues. Democrats argued the measure would reduce wages and stunt job growth. The state’s Republican governor, Scott Walker, is expected to sign it into law Monday; 24 other states already have similar legislation on the books.

    Jim Boeheim, the coach of the Syracuse University men’s basketball team, was suspended today for nine games next season. After a long investigation by the NCAA, officials found he didn’t properly oversee the basketball program when a series of academic, drug and other violations were committed. The NCAA also took away scholarships and put the school on probation for five years.

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    Ceres is seen from NASA's Dawn spacecraft on March 1, just a few days before the mission achieved orbit around the previously unexplored dwarf planet. The image was taken at a distance of about 30,000 miles. Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

    Ceres is seen from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on March 1, just a few days before the mission achieved orbit around the previously unexplored dwarf planet. The image was taken at a distance of about 30,000 miles. Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

    After spending nearly eight years floating through deep space, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft finally reached its destination Friday, a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt called Ceres.

    NASA confirmed that its spacecraft slid into dwarf planet Ceres’ orbit at 4:39 a.m. today with no complications. “Dawn” will spend the next 16 months in the dwarf planet’s gravitational pull, photographing the largest known object in the asteroid belt.

    “Since its discovery in 1801, Ceres was known as a planet, then an asteroid and later a dwarf planet,” said Marc Rayman, chief engineer of director of the $473-million mission, in a statement. “Now, after a journey of 3.1 billion miles and 7.5 years, Dawn calls Ceres home.”

    Video by Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    After making a first stop at asteroid Vesta, another resident of the rocky belt between Mars and Jupiter, Dawn continued onward to Ceres, whose composition remained nebulous to scientists ever since the Hubble Space Telescope captured the earliest images of the dwarf planet.

    “[Ceres] is sort of just staying hidden from our eyes, more than I had expected it to be,” Chris Russell, lead investigator of the mission, told the NewsHour in February.

    But as Dawn edged closer to Ceres, the dwarf planet’s icy surface came into view. And what scientists saw from a distance was puzzling. A bright spot, then a smaller shiny companion, appeared on Ceres’ surface.

    Last month, within 29,000 miles of the dwarf planet, Dawn revealed that Ceres’ bright white spot was actually two located in a large crater. What could the sun be reflecting off the surface of Ceres? Speculations are abound: Is it the crater of an icy volcano? A salt flat? A subsurface ocean? Until more concrete measurements become available, Ceres’ composition will remain an extraterrestrial cliffhanger.

    Whatever the case, scientists do think Ceres shows signs of life-sustaining water.

    “Ceres is actually the largest water reservoir in the inner solar system other than the Earth,” Jian-Yang Li, of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, told Space.com.

    Li said estimates water makes up nearly 40 percent of Ceres’ volume, although it’s unclear how much of the water is liquid, which is necessary for life.

    Ceres, along with Vesta, is a proto-planet that can offer clues to the solar system’s beginning and understanding the formation of its larger counterparts.

    Ahead of Dawn’s reappearance from Ceres’ shadow, we put together a timeline of the spacecraft’s 3-billion-mile journey. It is the first mission to reach the orbit of a dwarf planet and also the first to orbit two celestial bodies during a mission.

    Dawn mission milestones and accomplishments:

    Sept. 27, 2007
    Dawn launches.dawnlaunch

    February 2009

    Dawn uses Mars to slingshot on to Vesta and Ceres, and tests its equipment.

    May 2011

    The spacecraft returns its first pictures of Vesta.

    This image, processed to show the true size of the giant asteroid Vesta, shows Vesta in front of a spectacular background of stars. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

    This image, processed to show the true size of the giant asteroid Vesta, shows Vesta in front of a spectacular background of stars. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

    October-December 2011

    First science data from Vesta reveals:

    • One of the largest mountains in the solar system.
    • The surface is much rougher than other asteroids, and there’s a greater diversity in the composition of surface
    • Craters in the southern hemisphere that are 1-2 billion years old, and younger than the northern hemisphere
    • Vesta’s “color palette” shows that its composition is more varied than an asteroid, but not quite like Earth or Mars. That means it represents a transitional period in the formation of our solar system.
    This full view of the giant asteroid Vesta was taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, as part of a rotation characterization sequence on July 24, 2011, at a distance of 3,200 miles. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

    This full view of the giant asteroid Vesta was taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, as part of a rotation characterization sequence on July 24, 2011, at a distance of 3,200 miles. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

    January 2012

    Vesta could have ice water beneath the surface.

    May 2012

    Dawn mission finds that Vesta is more like the Earth’s moon or an early planet than it is an asteroid. It once had a subsurface magma ocean, and about 6 percent of the meteorites on Earth came from Vesta.

    This image shows three slices of a class of meteorites that fell to Earth that NASA's Dawn mission has confirmed as originating from the giant asteroid Vesta. The meteorites, known as howardite, eucrite and diogenite meteorites, were viewed through a polarizing microscope, where different minerals appear in different colors. Image courtesy of University of Tennessee

    This image shows three slices of a class of meteorites that fell to Earth that NASA’s Dawn mission has confirmed as originating from the giant asteroid Vesta. The meteorites, known as howardite, eucrite and diogenite meteorites, were viewed through a polarizing microscope, where different minerals appear in different colors. Image courtesy of University of Tennessee

    August 30, 2012

    Dawn leaves Vesta to head on to Ceres, and takes a good-bye shot of Vesta as it leaves.

    Video by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    Studying the data from Vesta further suggests that Vesta is a “stunted planet”; a planet that could have been, but was halted early in its development.

    It appears to have been bombarded by other asteroids early in its life, but the shapes of its gullies, craters and troughs still leave questions for astronomers. How did they form? Why do they look different from those on the Moon or Mars?

    December 2013

    Color-coded images of the minerals on Vesta show the proto-planet’s brilliant colors.

    This colorful image from NASA's Dawn mission shows material northwest of the crater Sextilia on the giant asteroid Vesta. While a large asteroid impact probably brought the black material, the red material may have been melted by the impact. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLAMPS/DLR/IDA

    This colorful image from NASA’s Dawn mission shows material northwest of the crater Sextilia on the giant asteroid Vesta. While a large asteroid impact probably brought the black material, the red material may have been melted by the impact. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLAMPS/DLR/IDA

    September 2014

    Dawn has mechanical problems and goes into safe mode.

    February 2015

    Dawn gets closer to Ceres, and sees mysterious bright spots on the surface. The bright spots could be ice volcanoes, salt, surface ice or water, but until Ceres gets closer we won’t know for sure.

    This image was taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft of dwarf planet Ceres on Feb. 19 from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles. It shows that the brightest spot on Ceres has a dimmer companion, which apparently lies in the same basin. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

    This image was taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft of dwarf planet Ceres on Feb. 19 from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles. It shows that the brightest spot on Ceres has a dimmer companion, which apparently lies in the same basin. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

    The post Timeline: Dawn spacecraft glides into orbit of dwarf planet Ceres appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    President Barack Obama pauses during a town hall meeting at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina March 6, 2015. Obama discussed findings from a Department of Justice report on bias against blacks in Ferguson, Missouri at the  Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    President Barack Obama pauses during a town hall meeting at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina March 6, 2015. Obama discussed a recent Department of Justice report on racial discrimination in Ferguson, Missouri at the town hall meeting Friday.Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    COLUMBIA, S.C. — Racial discrimination from police in Ferguson, Missouri, was “oppressive and abusive,” President Barack Obama said Friday as he called for criminal justice reform as part of the modern struggle for civil rights.

    “It turns out they weren’t just making it up. This was happening,” Obama said during a town hall at South Carolina’s Benedict College, the day before he prepared to commemorate a half-century since the historic civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama.

    In his most expansive comments yet about the Justice Department’s report on bias against blacks in Ferguson, Obama said it was striking that investigators merely had to look at email sent by police officials to find evidence. He said the City of Ferguson now must make a decision about how to move forward.

    “Are they going to enter into some sort of agreement with the Justice Department to fix what is clearly a broken and racially biased system?” Obama said.

    A Justice Department investigation found patterns of racial profiling, bigotry and profit-driven law enforcement and court practices within the Ferguson Police Department. Ferguson city leaders are to meet with Justice Department officials in about two weeks to put forth an improvement plan.

    The president himself was the subject of some of the racist emails from Ferguson police and municipal courts employees uncovered in the investigation. A 2008 email said Obama would not be president for long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years,” while another depicted Obama as a chimpanzee.

    Attorney General Eric Holder, who accompanied Obama on the trip, told reporters the federal government will “use all the power that we have to change the situation there,” including possibly dismantling the police force. “If that’s what’s necessary we’re prepared to do that,” Holder said.

    Holder said surprised is not a strong enough word for his reaction to the report, which he said revealed “appalling” practices. He said other police departments should understand the intensity of feelings across the federal government in terms of making sure what’s transpired in Ferguson doesn’t happen elsewhere, although he called the Ferguson bias “an anomaly.” “That is not something that we’re going to tolerate,” Holder said.

    The Justice Department this week also cleared Darren Wilson, the white former Ferguson police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, while on duty in a St. Louis suburb in August. Brown’s death prompted massive street protests last year and triggered the Justice Department investigations.

    A questioner at the town hall held at the historically black college asked Obama why Holder filed no charges against Wilson. Obama replied that the standard for federal charges is very high and the officer is entitled to due process like anyone else. “We may never know what happened,” Obama said.

    Although Obama said he didn’t think what happened in Ferguson was typical of the rest of the country, he added that it wasn’t an isolated incident, either.

    He called for communities to work together to address tensions between police and residents without succumbing to cynical attitudes that say “this is never going to change, because everybody’s racist.”

    “That’s not a good solution,” Obama said. “That’s not what the folks in Selma did.”

    Obama’s comments came on the eve of the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when police beat scores of people who were marching from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital, to protest their lack of voting rights. The violent images broadcast on national television helped lead to passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    “Selma is not just about commemorating the past, it’s about honoring the legends who helped change this country through your actions today, in the here and now,” Obama said at a town hall meeting. “Selma is now.”

    The visit was Obama’s first to South Carolina as president. South Dakota and Utah are the only states he has not traveled to while in office.


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    Guests attend the official inauguration of Strasbourg Grand Mosque in Strasbourg, September 27, 2012. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler (FRANCE  - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION) - RTR38H9L

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    Editor’s note: This is an updated segment that originally aired on January 8, 2015.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: This port city of around 850-thousand is France’s second largest, and one of its most diverse. Located on France’s southern Mediterranean shore, Marseille is home to tens of thousands of immigrants from throughout Europe and more recently, North Africa.

    By some estimates, the city is now 30 to 40 per cent Muslim — one of the highest concentrations of Muslims anywhere in this overwhelmingly catholic country. Always a melting pot, Marseille hasn’t seen the riots or violence that have broken out in other parts of France in recent years.

    But even before the January attacks in Paris that shook the nation…first at the satirical newspaper paper Charlie Hebdo, and then, at a kosher market….. Tensions in Marseilles between Muslims and non-Muslims had been rising.

    CLAUDE DE GARAM: It’s awfully complicated, all of this. With the arrival of the foreigners who have changed everything in the town of Marseille.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: retired photographer Claude de Garam has lived in Marseille his entire life. He said he’s felt things change over the years.

    CLAUDE DE GARAM: Before, everyone knew each other. Even the first immigrants in Marseille – the Italians, Spanish, all of that – it all worked fine. Perhaps because it was the same religion. But what came after – it’s a lot more complicated. Less integrated.

    CLAUDE DE GARAM: The old Marseillais are annoyed to have people who come and bother them – in their hometown. Because we have our ways. And the new arrivals feel not well accepted and so you feel their hatred increasing. You can see it in the buses. There are fights – and that didn’t happen before.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: De Garam said he’s not sure what the future holds.

    CLAUDE DE GARAM: We don’t know where we are going, but we can feel that it’s not towards peace. There’s a feeling of uneasiness.

    AZIZ: Yes, there are problems of Islamaphobia. In my opinion, it’s happening more and more.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: As we traveled around Marseille, we spoke to many French Muslims who told us they’ve seen things change here, too. Like our taxi driver, Aziz, who was born in Marseille to Tunisian parents. We heard about French-born Muslims feeling like they were sometimes considered foreigners. We also heard complaints about job discrimination…and feeling singled out by politicians.

    AZIZ: Every public official, whenever there’s an election, their number one issue is Islam. But I just gave you a little tour and almost half the people who live here are Muslim. And I don’t think you saw anything different from other neighborhoods. Everybody lives normally.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Aziz was showing us around a lower-income section of north Marseille. Outside a mosque after Friday prayers we met several men who were very suspicious of our camera. Medy, a French-born Muslim of Algerian descent, was the only one who’d talk. He explained many Muslims feel they’re portrayed unfairly by the media.

    MEDY: They are always trying to say Islam is terrorists. Every time with our religion. So it annoys me. They are not telling the truth.

    NATHALIE BENSILLA: There are lot of verbal insults. The stares, people in the streets looking at me.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Nathalie Bensilla lives on the other side of Marseille. She was also born in France, the daughter of an Algerian immigrant. She converted to Islam in her early 20s and is now married to the imam of the mosque we visited. The mother of seven said once or twice a month she’s ridiculed because she wears a headscarf. She also said she’s been excluded from her children’s school field trips, and back in 2012 she had a confrontation in a store.

    NATHALIE BENSILLA: A woman tore into me, really insulted me. She said you’ve rejected our origin. Because she knew that I’m French, because I told her. She really insulted me with all these names. She almost hit me.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Bensilla said she reported the incident to the police, but nothing happened. According to a national Muslim advocacy group in France, after the Paris attacks, the number of Islamophobic acts across the country increased by 70%, compared to the same time period last year.

    NATHALIE BENSILLA: It doesn’t bother me. I ignore them. But, when you have your kids with you and someone insults you, it’s degrading. And frankly when it happens on the street it’s hard to justify it to the kids, they don’t understand. My son, he says, when I’m big, I’m going to fight these people if they talk to you that way. And I say, you can’t respond to aggression with aggression.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Why do you think people treat you this way?

    NATHALIE BENSILLA: I really, I think it’s fear of ‘the other.’ And also lack of understanding of our religion. Also I think that Muslims don’t make enough effort to reach out and to explain the fundamentals of our religion. That there is a lot of respect for others.

    STÉPHANE RAVIER: I would like to remind people that France is a Christian country, with an identity, a culture.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Stéphane Ravier is the mayor of the poor northern section of Marseille that we visited. He’s also a member of France’s far-right party, the National Front.

    Last year, he made history, becoming one of the first politicians from that party ever elected to the French senate. The National Front is known for tough talk on immigration, security and Islam… and its hard line on secularism, which has offended members of the Muslim community. Ravier once interrupted a Muslim wedding because the bride’s face was covered – a violation of French law.

    STÉPHANE RAVIER: We have an identity, but we also have laws. French law forbids to anyone to be entirely veiled. So, I have only applied the law. So I’m telling the French Muslims and the Muslims in general you have a right to live your religion, but don’t forget that here it is French soil, and in France, as it is done around the world, we also have to respect religions and rituals, customs, codes. So there is Islam and there is Islamism, which is growing

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Even before the terror attacks in Paris, the National Front was gaining ground in France amidst growing concerns about the economy and security. French officials have estimated more than 1,000 people have left, or plan to leave France, to wage jihad in Syria and Iraq.

    STÉPHANE RAVIER: Massive immigration is causing Islamization. We can see that there are some extremist elements at the heart. They are very active. And the French authorities are completely frozen because they fear being labeled Islamophobic. These small groups of Islamists within the heart of Islam are very active and those are the ones that I want to “fight.”

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Since the attacks, the popularity of the National Front has grown even more. The party’s leader came in first in a recent poll of potential candidates in the 2017 presidential election. We recently caught up with Ambroise Bouleis, a television journalist in Marseille, who said it’s a surprising development for a party once considered fringe.

    AMBROISE BOULEIS: They are doing very well. And part of the explanation might be that the attacks brought back, on the scene, their favorite topics. Immigration, national security. Those are the core of their political program.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: As for the climate in Marseille after the attacks, Bouleis said, initially it was quite tense. But he told us the public response was more tepid here than in other major French cities, where hundreds of thousands marched in the streets. Bouleis explained that while many Muslims condemned the violence, they were also offended by the cartoons of Mohammad published in the paper Charlie Hebdo.

    AMBROISE BOULEIS: Many of them decided not to go out, decided not to participate in this public grief. They decided not to say, ‘I am Charlie,” like everyone said this day. But some of them chose to say, “I am not Charlie.’ Because for them, supporting Charlie Hebdo was supporting the caricatures of Mohammad that the satirical journal had published.

    Many Muslims have felt stigmatized as well. Because the three terrorists called themselves Islam defenders. So it led some people to conflate in a way, Islam and terrorism. And there were some very racist rants on the Internet. So, a large part of the Muslim community was very deeply hurt.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: It’s all been a blow to an already-tense situation in Marseille. As for the future? Even before the attacks, there seemed to be little optimism:

    CLAUDE DE GARAM: I think that we’ll need a few generations to get used to it. Me, I won’t be here. But my kids, I think they will be experiencing some tough moments.

    NATHALIE BENSILLA: It’s getting worse and worse. And frankly, I don’t think it’s going to get better. I don’t think it’s going to get better.

    The post How did the Charlie Hebdo attacks affect rising Islamophobia in France? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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