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

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    In our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to our NewsHour Shares of the day, something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you too.

    A record number of sea lion pups have washed up ashore in Southern California this year, starving and abandoned.  It’s not clear why, but some scientists think warming waters and a shortage of fish is forcing their mothers to search longer for food.  Animal rescue teams are bringing the hungry pups to Marine Mammal Centers, which are nearing capacity.

    David Bard, coordinator of one such center in San Pedro, explains:

    DAVID BARD, Marine Mammal Care Center: We’re doing everything we can to work with the rescue agencies and bring in as many patients as we can.  The fact of the matter is, this year, because of the inordinate numbers, we’re not going to be able to save every single animal on the beach.

    The post Why are sea lion pups crowding California’s shores? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The Lusitania

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    GWEN IFILL: One hundred years ago this May, there was a fateful encounter in the Irish Sea.

    Jeffrey Brown has that story from our latest addition to the NewsHour Bookshelf.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It was one of the worst maritime disasters in history, the sinking of the British passenger ship Lusitania by a German submarine on May 7, 1915. Nearly 1,200 people, including 123 Americans, were killed.

    It’s a story of legendary proportions, but also one with a number of mysteries at its core. And it’s told in the new book “Dead Wake.”  Author Erik Larson, whose previous bestsellers include “The Devil in the White City,” joins me now.

    And welcome to you.

    ERIK LARSON, Author, “Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania”: Thank you very much.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Unlike some of these other of your past works, this one more well-known, more well-trod. Why did you want to come into it?

    ERIK LARSON: At first, I was a little put off by the fact that it was so well-known and so well-trod.

    But what I realized as I started doing some exploratory research was that there was an opportunity here, I felt, to bring something to the party that hadn’t necessarily been brought before. I saw it as — because there is so much fantastic archival material, that it seemed to offer an opportunity for me to put on my Alfred Hitchcock hat and really make it kind of an exercise in nonfiction suspense.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Suspense and mystery. So that kind of detail — and that’s what you really go through here, the detail — you are talking about individual lives, diaries, letters.

    ERIK LARSON: Oh, intercepted telegrams, love letters from President Wilson to his girlfriend. I mean, there is so much material. It was a surplus of riches.

    JEFFREY BROWN: This is the kind of stuff that turns you on to tell a story?

    ERIK LARSON: This is the kind of stuff that turns me on, yes, yes, I mean, anything that — anything that allows a story to advance at a fast clip. And there was so much great stuff, yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The ship, a wonder of its time, right, a marvel.

    ERIK LARSON: Right. Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Also its nemesis, the submarine, a marvel, in another way, of its time.

    ERIK LARSON: Right. Right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, partly, what grabbed me is, this is an interesting — it is a story of technology, in a way.

    ERIK LARSON: In part, it is.

    I mean, one of the things we have to — I had to really discipline myself to do is to go back — well, not go back in time, obviously, but to adopt the point of view of the era to appreciate how new the submarine was as a weapon. Today, it is very familiar to us, all the “Run Silent, Run Deep” and all the sonar pinging and so forth.

    But, at this time — and, by the way, there was no sonar involving submarines in World War I.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Right. It was out there blindly.

    ERIK LARSON: It was out there blindly essentially stumbling around, relying on charts.

    But the thing that I really had to discipline myself to appreciate at all turns was how new the submarine was as a weapon of war, and how poorly understood it was, not just — not just by civilians, but by the people who commanded the submarines, by the British navy, by the German navy. Nobody really understood what a submarine was capable of.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so then you — the other side is the people, right?

    ERIK LARSON: Right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So there is the large figures you mentioned, Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill, as the first lord of the admiralty.

    ERIK LARSON: First lord of the admiralty, yes.


    But then the many mini-characters, smaller figures.

    ERIK LARSON: Right. Right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Just as an example, one that grabbed me is Charles Lauriat, a Boston bookseller. Right?

    ERIK LARSON: Yes, right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Why him as a way in to tell your story?

    ERIK LARSON: You know, I wanted to have passengers we could sort of hold hands with through the entire voyage.

    And Charles Lauriat left one of the most detailed accounts of any of the passengers. When I say one of the accounts, I mean he left multiple traces of his story in the historic records, from testimony, a book he wrote, an amazing filing with the Mixed Claims Commission after the war. So there was a lot of rich detail.

    But, also, what I really liked about Charles Lauriat was just the fact that, in that era, it was considered to be the golden age of books and of book-collecting and so forth, that a book collector, Charles Lauriat, could be famous, recognized on the street.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Imagine that.

    ERIK LARSON: … and could travel — I know — and could travel first class on the classiest ocean liner on the sea for his annual buying trip to London.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I mentioned mysteries. One of the great mysteries, of course, is, and as you document, the British well knew that submarines were in the area. They were tracking…

    ERIK LARSON: Not only did they know that submarines were in the area. They knew that this submarine, U-20, was very likely to be in that area, because they knew exactly where it was headed.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. But they didn’t send out naval patrol to guard the Lusitania.

    ERIK LARSON: No. Well, nor did they tell Captain Turner, how was the captain of the Lusitania, nor did they tell him that any of this was known.

    They knew precisely the patrol zone that the submarine was going to be in off Liverpool, which is where all the Cunard ships were headed. They also knew — they also knew that Nightly, the big German broadcasting center at Norderstedt, was broadcasting the Lusitania’s coming and goings.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Why didn’t they tell them?  Why didn’t they do more?

    Was there, in fact, some sense for the British wanting a ship to go down to lure the Americans into the war?

    ERIK LARSON: It is a complicated story.

    Let me hang it on one historian, who, early on, when he wrote a book about the spy agency, the super-secret spy entity in this book called Room 40, he concluded that the reason the Lusitania was allowed to sail into the Irish Sea unprotected was because of — it was just a — as he put it, it was a monumental cock-up. It was a mistake.

    Later in life, as other evidence came forward, he changed his mind, which I found fascinating. And there was this interview at the — on file in the Imperial War Museum in London where he says that, as much as he loves the Royal Navy — and he calls himself a lover of the Royal Navy — he had come to the conclusion at that point in his life that there was some kind of a conspiracy, there was something.

    But he couldn’t — he just didn’t know what kind.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the book is Dead Wake.

    Erik Larson, thanks so much.

    ERIK LARSON: Thank you.

    The post Mysteries of the Lusitania disaster resurface appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: It might surprise you to hear that one of the hot destination cities, especially for young so-called millennials is the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

    I traveled there recently as part of our partnership with “The Atlantic” to explore the findings in a recent article in the magazine, and to try to find out whether the so-called Minneapolis Miracle is really paying off for everyone.

    In many ways, millennials, ages 18 to 35, may be the biggest victims of the great recession.

    Writer Derek Thompson has lived this reality in New York City, one of the most expensive on earth.

    DEREK THOMPSON, The Atlantic: I wanted to figure out why the American dream seemed to be splintering between cities that were upwardly mobile and cities that were affordable.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: For answers, Thompson turned to the latest national data on cities with the greatest opportunity to move up into the middle class and beyond vs. the cost of living.

    DEREK THOMPSON: The cities that were the best for upward mobility were the worse for affordability, and the cities that were the most affordable had bad upward mobility.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: One exception to the rule:

    DEREK THOMPSON: Minneapolis-Saint Paul was clearly at the top. It was the richest city that was exceptional.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area is made up of at least 13 counties and approximately 3.5 million people. The latest U.S. census ranks it as having the fifth highest median household income in the country.

    DEREK THOMPSON: Among workers between 18 and 34, it’s top 10 when it comes to median income, it’s top 10 when it comes to lowest poverty rate, when it comes to highest share of college graduates.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Good statistics for a city that often goes unnoticed on both coasts.

    MYLES SHAVER: I would talk to my professional friends around the world, and they would ask me, what are you doing in Minneapolis?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Myles Shaver is a business professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.

    MYLES SHAVER: And I say, there are 17 Fortune 500 headquarters in town. And they would go, you can’t be right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The area is home to many world-class brands, including Cargill, General Mills and Target.

    MYLES SHAVER: We have had this talented work force that tends to stay here and move amongst companies, rather than pick up and move across the country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Many believe the success the Twin Cities have seen is more than just an accident of location, commerce and quality of life.

    MAYOR CHRIS COLEMAN, Mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota: There’s always been kind of a collective sense of community in the state of Minnesota and the Twin Cities.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman knows the area’s political history well. His father, Nick Coleman, was the state Senate majority leader from 1973 to 1981.

    CHRIS COLEMAN: In the ’70s, there was an incredible spirit of, what can we do differently to make sure that everyone is benefiting and that the whole state is elevated as a result of our policies?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Politicians on both sides of the aisle passed progressive education, tax-sharing and housing laws.

    MYRON ORFIELD, Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity, University of Minnesota Law School: It was called the Minnesota Miracle at the time. It was very unique, and it had tremendous benefits to the quality of life as a city.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Former state legislator and law professor Myron Orfield runs the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota.

    MYRON ORFIELD: And we decided in 1971 that every community would share 40 percent of the growth of its business tax base.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Minneapolis-Saint Paul was one of a very few metro areas in the entire country to enact a fiscal disparities law.

    DEREK THOMPSON: They take half the growth of business income taxes in the metro area, and they spread it across the region. What this does is, it allows the less rich communities in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area to share in the commercial wealth of the entire city.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How much does the city of Saint Paul right now depend on that formula to stay fiscally strong?

    CHRIS COLEMAN: It is absolutely a critical piece of the funding for the city of Saint Paul. Two-thirds of our revenues go to police officers, firefighters, other public safety services. If we lost that revenue-sharing piece of it, it would be very difficult for us to maintain those levels of public safety.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In addition, in the 1970s, the Minnesota legislature was also one of the few in the country to focus on integration in public housing.

    MYRON ORFIELD: For 15 years we built 70 percent of our low-income housing in the whitest part of suburbia, in the whitest neighborhoods.

    DEREK THOMPSON: And they did a really good job of making sure that ghettos weren’t congealing, because they were not concentrating all of the affordable housing in a couple areas.

    MYRON ORFIELD: Well, there was a shared prosperity in the Twin Cities for every racial group probably up and through the mid-’80s.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, decades ago, the region was less than 5 percent minority. Today, it has grown to 20 percent. In addition to African-Americans and Hispanics, the area is now home to the largest Somali and Hmong populations outside of Somalia and Vietnam.

    MYRON ORFIELD: Starting in the late 1980s, we allowed our civil rights laws to lapse, like much of the country did.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: After a decade of a fair share housing policy, in 1986, Democrats who controlled the statehouse and governorship, stepped back from it.

    MYRON ORFIELD: Our patterns of segregation are still half the national average. They’re still better, but we’re not what we once were.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What is it like to live in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area?

    SONDRA SAMUELS, CEO, Northside Achievement Zone: Depends on who you are…


    SONDRA SAMUELS: … what your race is, what your economic level is, what your educational level is.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sondra Samuels is president & CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone, an educational nonprofit focused on ending multigenerational poverty in North Minneapolis.

    SONDRA SAMUELS: It’s a tale of two cities. It really is. We have the highest racial unemployment gap in the entire country between people of color and white people in this state.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: While Minneapolis-Saint Paul may be a top pick for millennials, the difference in opportunities between blacks and whites is one of the widest in the country.

    SONDRA SAMUELS: We have a 47 percent four-year high school graduation rate for African-American students. And, statewide, it’s like 86 percent for white students. Homeownership, 76 percent for white families, and 34 percent for African-Americans.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So my question is, is the American dream really attainable here?

    MYRON ORFIELD: In North Minneapolis, and in the very poor pockets of segregation that are growing, the American dream is falling further away than it has ever been before.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: By 2040, the minority population is expected to grow to at least 40 percent. And local leaders say the racial disparity in education, opportunity and income must be addressed if Fortune 500 companies are to continue to come and thrive.

    SONDRA SAMUELS: They’re not here for our beachfront property. They are here because we have historically had the most educated work force. And when you look at who our work force will be by 2040, they are not being educated in an equitable way. And so we won’t have a work force that our region needs.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In a popular eatery not far from City Hall, we asked a group of millennial nursing students their opinion of the Twin City metro area.

    WOMAN: Even though it is majority white, there is something that you can find, whether you are black, white, different cultures, different sexual orientations. Everyone is welcome.

    WOMAN: I’m an immigrant. I’m from West Africa. Two years ago, I was able to afford my own home. Minnesota was able to incorporate my education from Africa here, so that I could pursue my dream.

    SONDRA SAMUELS: I love Minneapolis. That’s why I can be caringly candid around the places where we have got to come together and change this thing for people.

    CHRIS COLEMAN: We are far from perfect. We have some huge challenges in this community. But we have a base upon which to build that I think will allow us to deal with issues of racial disparities, for instance.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In fact, many metro areas in the U.S. are dealing with the same challenges the Twin Cities are, growing racial inequities, even as economies flourish.

    Derek Thompson believes that, if solutions are to be found, they won’t come from Washington.

    DEREK THOMPSON: The future of public policy is going to come out of the state and the local level. And given the fact that Minneapolis-Saint Paul has an exceptional record, not only on building income, building wealth, but also sharing wealth and creating opportunities for upward mobility, we should pay more attention to cities like it if we want to replicate that formula across the country.


    This report was produced by Sydney Trattner and Francois Bringer, with consulting producer Mark Carter.

    The post The American Dream is alive in the Twin Cities, but not for everyone appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A breast cancer patient undergoes radiation treatment at a hospital in Tegucigalpa. Since the discovery of the x-ray in 1895, physicians have tried to figure out ways to use it in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of illnesses, including cancer. Photo by Jorge Cabrera/Reuters

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    GWEN IFILL: More than 1.5 million women in the U.S. get a breast biopsy each year. But a new study raises doubts about their accuracy.

    Hari Sreenivasan explores the findings and the implications for treatment.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The study found that, when it comes to invasive cancers, pathologists’ diagnosis were generally correct. But an expert panel said pathologists had more trouble making the right diagnosis in about 25 percent of all cases.

    That was primarily true when it involved a case of ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, cells that are abnormal, but not invasive. Doctors also had trouble diagnosing in cases of atypia, when abnormal non-cancerous cells are identified.

    Dr. Joann Elmore of the University of Washington School of Medicine is the study’s lead author, and joins us now.

    So, Dr. Elmore, how big of a population are we talking about when there are error rates of possibly 20 or 25 percent?

    JOANN ELMORE, University of Washington School of Medicine: Well, I think you started correctly by saying that, every year, 1.6 million — 1.6 million biopsies are done in the U.S.

    Of those biopsies, some are interpreted as normal, others as cancer. And it’s these in-between diagnoses that are the most problematic. They’re very hard for us to give a diagnosis. There are probably 200,000 women each year that have a breast biopsy and get a report that says they’re abnormal cells. It’s not normal and it’s not invasive cancer. It’s somewhere in between.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: When you get a sentence like that out of your doctor’s mouth, I’m sure that’s one of the last things you want to hear, but what is the consequence of that? Does that mean that people are treated too aggressively or not treated aggressively enough?

    JOANN ELMORE: Well, let’s start with your first comment, which is very correct.

    When you hear that sentence, especially a word like ductal carcinoma in situ — it has the word carcinoma — it can be very scary for women and their family. And even though it has the word carcinoma, it’s not the same thing as invasive cancer.

    So, I guess, first, I would recommend that women stop, take a deep breath and realize that this is not a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer, and they have time to pause and reflect and gather information.

    We found that, with the diagnosis of DCIS, while four out of five agreed on a diagnosis, this also meant that one out of five disagreed. For the diagnosis of atypia, we found that — about 50 percent agreement. So this is similar to the agreement of flipping a coin, guessing heads or tails.

    When women are diagnosed with DCIS, they are told that they’re at increased risk of breast cancer. We can’t identify which woman is going to go on to be diagnosed with breast cancer. And so, understandably, a lot of women want to have what some would consider pretty aggressive treatment.

    Women are having mastectomies and lumpectomy with radiation therapy. Women with DCIS are having about the same kind of treatments as women with early stage invasive cancer.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The idea that this is pathologists interpreting what the slide shows them, in this day and age, I almost imagine that a computer programmer, an algorithm of some sort could at least give us a lead. But this seems almost like an interpretation, that it is up to humans to interpret whether or not this cancer — or that these cells are exhibiting a cancer.

    JOANN ELMORE: In this day and age, I think many are surprised that much of medicine is an art.

    What we have found with breast biopsy interpretation, it’s also a similar finding with radiologists interrupting mammograms, with cardiologists listening to heart murmurs using their stethoscope. And so this variability among physicians when we give a diagnosis has been noted in all specialties.

    So it’s not unique to pathology. For hundreds of years, we have been diagnosing cancer by getting the tissue, putting it on a glass slide, looking at it under a microscope, and deciding, using our vision, whether it is normal vs. cancer. You would open, in this day and age, with modern technology, we would have other tools, other molecular markers or genetic tests, but, currently, our diagnosis is provided by the pathologist.

    You did ask about computers, though, and that is an interesting question. We now can take these slides and digitize them and put the image up on a screen. And so pathologists now can actually look at the images on a computer screen. It’s not FDA-approved. But we can start having computers evaluate these images to see whether we can come up with computer-aided detection programs.

    They have developed this in many other areas of clinical medicine. So it’s something that we need to look into.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Dr. Joann Elmore from the University of Washington, thanks so much.

    JOANN ELMORE: My pleasure.

    The post Study raises questions about value of breast cancer biopsies appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to a large, but often hidden issue in America, and why solving it is getting caught up in congressional gridlock.

    More than 100,000 American children and teens are currently estimated to be victims of sex trafficking. In the past month, senators from both parties had come together on a bill to combat the problem and help victims.

    It was to be a shining example of bipartisanship, but has now hit a major political wall.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, Majority Leader: Democrats owe these victims, not lobbyists, help, help the Senate is now so close to passing.

    SEN. HARRY REID, Minority Leader: It’s insane to keep going forward on these votes that everyone knows are going to turn out the same way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Party leaders dug in this morning, as the Senate standoff over the human trafficking bill entered its second week. The measure initially had wide bipartisan backing.

    It creates a fund for U.S. victims of trafficking, who are often forced into prostitution, and it toughens fines and penalties for so-called johns, who buy services. But the dispute is centered on a provision banning any funds from paying for a victim’s abortion.

    Democrats acknowledged today they originally missed that provision, that an aide didn’t flag it. But Minority Whip Dick Durbin and others charge Republicans deliberately made the wording obscure.

    SEN. RICHARD DURBIN, Minority Whip: There was a representation made to several senators that this — this — there was nothing else in the bill to be concerned about, other than a few listed issues, and this wasn’t included.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In turn, Republicans, like Deb Fischer of Nebraska, deny ill intent.

    SEN. DEB FISCHER, (R) Nebraska: To have the other side come out and say they didn’t read the bill, they were caught off-guard, you know, come on. Those are excuses, I believe, for trying to stop the work of the United States Senate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: For now, the dispute has stopped any work on confirming Loretta Lynch to be attorney general.

    Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insists that won’t happen until the trafficking bill is voted on.

    For more on the bill before Congress and the issue of human and sex trafficking, we are joined by Bradley Myles. He’s CEO of Polaris. It’s a nonprofit that works to combat slavery and human trafficking. And Holly Austin Smith, a former victim herself who now advocates for victims of sex trafficking, she is also the author of the “Walking Prey: How America’s Youth are Vulnerable to Sex Slavery.”

    And we welcome you both.

    Holly Austin Smith, let me start with you. You were a victim at the age of 14. Tell us briefly what happened to you.

    HOLLY AUSTIN SMITH, Advocate and Former Trafficking Victim: Sure.

    I was a young teen victim. I was 14. I was confused, angry, depressed. Like many young teenagers, I was struggling with the transition between middle school and high school.

    And I met a man at my local shopping mall who turned out to be a pimp. He convinced me to run away from home with ideas of being a model or a music artist. But within hours of running away from home, I learned the truth, that he was a pimp, and he forced me into prostitution in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Bradley Myles, I mean, her story is just — is just so tough to hear. And I think many Americans hear about this and they say, this doesn’t really happen in this country. It’s kind of an invisible crime.

    How widespread is it?

    BRADLEY MYLES, Polaris: I think that most people really do believe this is happening overseas, but there is a disbelief that it’s happening here.

    And for us, we know that this is happening to hundreds of thousands of people, like you mentioned, 100,000 U.S. citizen youth. We operate the national hot line for the country called the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. We’re on the hot line every day.

    Last year, we learned about over 5,000 cases of trafficking. And two-thirds of those were cases of sex trafficking. So it’s truck stops. It’s in hotels. It’s in elicit massage parlors. It’s in residential brothels. It’s in street prostitution. It’s all these places.

    And people, I think, see it as prostitution, but they don’t realize that it might be children involved. They don’t realize it might be people involved who are there by force or violence or coercion. And they don’t see the deeper control that is there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Holly Smith, who are the victims? They come from all walks of life, all parts of the country?

    HOLLY AUSTIN SMITH: A victim can be any age, any gender, any class.

    Traffickers have the ability to reach out to victims in any community, especially with social media today. But, certainly, those who are most at risk are those kids who are lacking in resources or adults who are lacking in resources.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Bradley Myles, tell us. We did talk about it in the setup that people just heard, but what, in essence, would this bill or these bills do for these victims?

    BRADLEY MYLES: Well, one of the primary focuses is providing more services for survivors.

    There’s this trafficking victims fund that was going to be put together with proceeds from different criminal prosecutions that would go to survivor services. There’s ways that survivors could get more restitution and compensation. There’s more official recognition for survivors. There’s even a potential of the reauthorization of the full apparatus of runaway and homeless youth programs in the United States to prevent trafficking, because homeless youth are some the most vulnerable youth that pimps are targeting.

    So there’s all these different provisions to look at survivor support. There’s also provisions to crack down on traffickers more and crack down on the buyers of sex. And we feel like there is a strong package of bills that were really teed up there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Holly Smith, from your perspective, why is it important to pass this?

    HOLLY AUSTIN SMITH: I think that it’s important to pass legislation that’s going to support victims, pass legislation that’s going to bolster community programs, pass legislation that’s going to bring training to law enforcement and education to our schools in order to educate youth about tactics of sex traffickers.

    I think it’s important to bring prevention into our communities. I don’t know if there’s enough focus on prevention in this bill. But part of what would be focused on prevention is the Runaway and Homeless Youth Reauthorization Act.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to ask you both about the language that’s been holding this up, the abortion language in the bill.

    And, Bradley Myles, to you first.

    We know that it says in so many words that government money could not be used to pay for an abortion for victims unless they were the victim of a rape in coerced circumstances. Without weighing in on the merits of abortion or not, what difference could that make, do you believe, for the young people we’re talking about, the young women if they were pregnant?


    So, for us, we’re a direct service provider for victims of trafficking. And we know that when someone comes out of one of these situations, they describe being in a situation of total control. They have been raped. They have been sexually assaulted. They have had so much of their life controlled.

    And so when we’re providing services, we want to create a spectrum that is as wide as possible and as empowering as possible and let them chart the course of their own services, and not put limits on what is possible. And so sometimes there’s a debate about would this cover this or would this cover that, and could you always define it as rape or not?

    And we didn’t even want to get into that debate. We didn’t want that to enter this dialogue, because we knew that the entire Senate, there’s so much passion around this bill from the Republicans and the Democrats.


    BRADLEY MYLES: Both sides are incredibly passionate about fighting trafficking. We just didn’t want to have to go there to begin asking those questions.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And just finally, Holly, Holly Smith, from what you know — and you have studied this, obviously, for a long time, and from your own personal experience — would this — would covering abortions for the young people, young women who are victims of this who may have gotten pregnant, would this cover all circumstances where these young women became pregnant?

    HOLLY AUSTIN SMITH: Are you asking if the bill would cover all circumstances?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The language in the bill now.

    HOLLY AUSTIN SMITH: I am not sure about the language in the bill.

    But I think that it needs to not be a part of the conversation. Victims need to have total control over what options are available to them, because they’re being taken out of a situation where they had no control, where they had no ability to decide what was available to them and what wasn’t available to them. They weren’t able to choose what they did and what they didn’t do.

    For anyone who is really interested in whether or not these services are really valid or valuable to victims, I encourage you to reach out to service providers who are working with victims on a regular basis. And I would especially encourage you to reach out to survivor-led service providers.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Holly Austin Smith and Bradley Myles, very tough subject. Thank you both.

    BRADLEY MYLES: Thank you for having me.

    HOLLY AUSTIN SMITH: Thank you.

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    The office of Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL) is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington March 17, 2015. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    The office of Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL) on Capitol Hill will soon have a new resident. Schock is slated to leave on March 31. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    PEORIA, Ill. — The son of former White House cabinet member Ray LaHood emerged as the leading contender Wednesday to replace U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, as two other potential candidates abandoned thoughts of seeking the seat that is coming open after a spending scandal forced the Illinois congressman’s abrupt resignation.

    State Sen. Darin LaHood, a Republican whose father held the central Illinois seat before Schock and then served as President Barack Obama’s transportation secretary, announced that he would seek the seat Wednesday morning during an appearance on a radio show in Peoria, where his family has resided for decades.

    “This is an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often,” LaHood said, saying he had received “a lot of encouragement” to make a bid for the post in the hours that followed Schock’s announcement Tuesday.

    LaHood, 46, said he plans to campaign on his record as a former state and federal prosecutor, and on his record as a fiscal conservative who advocated for ethics reform. He told the Associated Press he considers himself more conservative than his father, a Republican who served under a Democratic president and organized bipartisan retreats to foster cooperation.

    “We tend to disagree sometimes,” he said. “I’ve got a conservative voting record here, a strong record in the senate, so I’ll stand on that.”

    Two other GOP state senators — Jason Barickman and Bill Brady — were considering bids, but both said they had decided against running in a special election that Gov. Bruce Rauner will call after Schock leaves office March 31. It must be held within 120 days, meaning voters will select a replacement by the end of July.

    A number of GOP officials moved quickly to support LaHood’s candidacy in Illinois’ 18th district, which is predominantly Republican, while others wanted the dust to settle before backing a Schock replacement. Former Illinois Republican Party chairman Pat Brady said officials likely will be looking for someone who carries a different image than Schock as the district tries to rebound.

    “I think Darin does fit that bill,” Brady said. “He’s thoughtful, appeals to people on both sides and within the Republican party and has a great name. The district needs most to get this over with quickly and have someone who’s widely respected.”

    A Republican state lawmaker from the area, Rep. Don Moffitt of Gilson, said the district “wouldn’t skip a beat” if LaHood replaced Schock. “We’re just extremely fortunate to have someone of Darin’s caliber in the wings that could take over this seat,” Moffitt said.

    Local Democrats, meanwhile, said they were still discussing possible candidates. Jackie Petty, vice chairman of the Peoria County Democratic Party, conceded it would be difficult to beat a strong Republican candidate.

    Schock’s departure, fast and hard even by Washington’s standards, was still resonating Wednesday for the area’s politicians and Schock’s constituents.

    Already in his fourth term in Congress at age 33, Schock was the rare media-savvy GOP millennial on Capitol Hill, attracting fans on Instagram, posing bare-chested on the cover of Men’s Health magazine, and leveraging his national profile to become a prodigious fundraiser for fellow Republicans. Energetic and ambitious, Schock made it into the lower rungs of House leadership last summer as a senior deputy whip.

    But an intensifying barrage of media investigations showed that, along the way, Schock accepted rides on donors’ private planes without properly reporting them, made improbably lucrative real estate deals with political supporters, and spent $40,000 in taxpayer money to decorate his office in the style of “Downton Abbey” — money he paid back after the expenditures came under question.

    On Tuesday, with no warning to House leaders, Schock announced that he would resign, leaving political life as dramatically as he’d entered it as a 19-year-old write-in candidate for the Peoria School Board. He said the constant questioning had “proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District with the high standards that they deserve.”

    On Wednesday, Schock’s father defended him against what he called “malicious” media reports.

    “The investigative reporting and stuff that’s been out there is absolutely ridiculous,” said Richard Schock, a doctor, outside his home in Peoria. “It’s not only unfair, it’s untrue. If you’re going to investigate his real estate dealings, etc., then find out the facts. The facts are what is going to convict him or exonerate him.”

    Earlier, the elder Schock told ABC’s Chicago affiliate his son was sure to be successful going forward, “if he’s not in jail.” He told the AP his son was upset with him for having spoken to the media.

    Associated Press writers Erica Werner and Stephen Braun in Washington and John O’Connor and Nick Swedberg in Springfield, Illinois, contributed to this report.

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    GWEN IFILL: For more on what Netanyahu remaining in power means for Israel, prospects for a Palestinian state, and the American-Israeli relationship, I’m joined by former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Itamar Rabinovich, Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat professor of peace and development at the University of Maryland and author of the book “The World Through Arab Eyes,” and Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for East — for Near East Policy.

    Ambassador Rabinovich, I want to start by getting your sense, your reaction to what happened yesterday and why.

    ITAMAR RABINOVICH, Former Ambassador, Israel: What happened was that, despite talk about socioeconomic issues, the unhappiness of the young middle class and other issues, the dominant issue remains security.

    Israelis are worried. They look at Iran, they look at Gaza, they look at Hezbollah in Lebanon, they look at the collapsing states around us, and Mr. Netanyahu did a much better job than Mr. Herzog in portraying himself as the leader who can look after the security of the state and of the individual citizens in the state.

    He did also outflank the right-wing party. If you look at the outbreak — or the breakout of the vote, there wasn’t so much a shift from the left to the right, but a shift inside the right-wing camp. And Netanyahu was successful in dwarfing Mr. Bennett and Mr. Lieberman, and aggrandizing his own Likud party.

    And, of course, he’s a consummate campaigner and did a very good job of coming up from a low position to the victory of last night.

    GWEN IFILL: Rob Satloff, did he just campaign his way? Did he just out campaign his opposition? And what does that mean if he did?

    ROBERT SATLOFF, Washington Institute for Near East Policy: Well, Prime Minister Netanyahu is an extraordinary politician,

    This is not the first time that Israelis went to bed thinking someone else won and waking up and Bibi was the winner. He knows how to pull the strings, especially among the center-right and the right. This time, his main target were not undecideds. His main target were people further to the right than he is, to pull them into his Likud Party.

    And he did it in the last couple of days. Actually, both main camps panicked. He panicked with his last-minute declaration about no Palestinian state. And the center-left panicked by essentially dropping the running mate of their number one candidate, that she wouldn’t be the candidate for prime minister.

    His gambit worked better. And he got more votes for his old party to make him not just able to put together a coalition, but dwarfing all other parties.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me ask Shibley Telhami about that, because what he — what Bob Satloff describes as panic, I wonder if that was designed. He not only talked about there would be no two-state solution if he were reelected, but he also tweeted that there were a lot of Arabs going to the polls, and he tried to stir his base up.

    Was that by design?

    SHIBLEY TELHAMI, University of Maryland: I — well, whether it was by design or not, it clearly — whether he really panicked or not, he used it for sure.

    No question that he used the numbers to his advantage. When there was a report just on Thursday, on Friday, that he is behind on the polls, that he could actually — you know, that even the Israeli public started saying, it’s not inevitable that Bibi is going to be prime minister, he used that.

    Whether he believed it or not, he used that very effectively. I must say, I don’t think it was about issues, not even security issues. I think, clearly, his focus on security was deliberate to take away from attention on social issues. I think this was about identity politics.

    He went for communal identity, for issues that are important to core identities of his constituents. He played on them. He wanted to raise the level of participation in the elections. Eighty percent of the settlers participated in their elections. So he clearly used the Arab issue, you know, what The New York Times called racist rants to scare people of the empowered Arab-Israeli citizens who were voting.

    And, clearly, on the Palestinian issue, he went again with an identity question on Jerusalem. So I think it was really mobilizing the right. He did that. He did successfully, but at very high cost, because it’s going to cost him in governing and in foreign policy.

    GWEN IFILL: Ambassador Rabinovich, is that true? Is that who the Israeli voters are? We spend a lot of time getting inside Netanyahu’s head, but how about inside the heads of the voters and what they actually require?

    ITAMAR RABINOVICH: Israel is a deeply divided society, divided between right and left, secular and orthodox, Jew and Arab, Russian immigrants, and so forth and so forth.

    And one of the most important things that an Israeli politician or party needs to do in order to win an election is to find the broadest common denominator in order to attract voters. So, that is one issue.

    Identity issues is an important — is an important component. And the persona of the candidate. The left or the center-left was able to win earlier election campaigns when it put a strong personality with strong security credentials, be it Yitzhak Rabin or be it Ehud Barak or the — Ariel Sharon after his conversion.

    Let us remember that, as recently as 2009, Ehud Olmert won an election with a platform of continuing Sharon’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in the West Bank. That wasn’t so far ago. So, the personality of the candidate is very important.

    GWEN IFILL: Yes, thank you. I didn’t mean to interrupt.

    But I did want to ask all three of you this question, which is, what does this mean now for the future, if there is a future, of the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks and of the U.S. relationship with a leader who now we have some strain with, at least our two leaders have some strain?

    What do you think, Rob Satloff?

    ROBERT SATLOFF: Well, I — this is a very basic question about what sort of prime minister Netanyahu would like to be.

    He could be a prime minister of a narrow coalition. He could be a prime minister of a slightly wider coalition. He could even be broader. He can define his future.

    In terms of the Palestinians, I think we should parse his words carefully. What he said was and what his advisers are now saying is, there is certainly no Palestinian state now. Can circumstances change? Can there be a renewal of diplomacy? Can there be security cooperation that really gets engaged? It’s certainly possible.

    GWEN IFILL: Did you see that rhetorical loophole?

    SHIBLEY TELHAMI: Well, I think, look, he wouldn’t be the first politician to change his mind after promising during an election if he were to change course.

    But there is nothing in his history that would indicate he is capable of doing that. He had a chance last time. He didn’t have to go with the right-wing coalition. He had a center-left partner he could have gone with. He could have gone with a wider coalition. There is no trust at all in this administration or among Palestinians after his statements that he made now, no matter what kind of coalition he goes with.

    He’s not going to change his mind quickly. And nobody is going to trust to test him to see whether he possibly could change his mind. I don’t see any possible realistic opening for renewing negotiation on the basis of two-state solution any time soon.

    GWEN IFILL: Ambassador, do you see any realistic opening?

    ITAMAR RABINOVICH: Possibly, yes.

    What I — what I would do if I were Netanyahu’s friend or adviser, I would have said to him, don’t look at your past; look at your future. You are 65 years old. It’s your fourth term, maybe your last term. You have survived in politics. Now is — now is your time, and you have the power to make the difference. Take bold decisions. You went to Washington to give what you called the Churchillian speech. Be Churchillian in the bold decisions that you will be making in the next few weeks and months.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, I guess that is what we will be watching for.

    Ambassador Itamar Rabinovich, Rob Satloff, Shibley Telhami, thank you all very much.

    SHIBLEY TELHAMI: Pleasure.


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    President Barack Obama holds a jersey given to him by the University of Kentucky basketball team during an event in the East Room at the White House, on May 4, 2012. President Obama picked Kentucky to win the NCAA basketball  national championship this year on his bracket that he filled out for ESPN. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

    President Barack Obama holds a jersey given to him by the University of Kentucky basketball team during an event in the East Room at the White House, on May 4, 2012. The president picked Kentucky to win the NCAA men’s basketball national championship this year on his ESPN bracket. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

    The University of Kentucky Wildcats are odds-on favorites to win this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship — and President Barack Obama approves that message.

    In his annual tradition of filling out a tournament bracket on a taped segment for ESPN, the president picked the undefeated and overall No. 1 seed Kentucky to capture the crown and complete their season with a 40-0 record.

    “I don’t think you can play a perfect basketball game, any more than you could do anything perfectly,” Mr. Obama said. “But these guys are coming pretty close.”

    The president predicted an all-Wildcats final, with Kentucky defeating fellow No. 1 seed Villanova — also the Wildcats. Rounding out the Final Four on Mr. Obama’s bracket are the Duke Blue Devils and the Arizona — wait for it — Wildcats.

    “Kentucky obviously has as good of a chance as any team,” President Obama said as he slotted Kentucky into the national champs slot. “They are prohibitive favorites and for good reason.”

    Before you fill start copying down Mr. Obama’s picks verbatim, however, you may want to look at the president’s March Madness record. The National Journal reports that the president has only picked eight of the last 28 Final Four teams correctly, while only correctly choosing the NCAA champions once: the 2009 University of North Carolina Tar Heels.

    That hasn’t stopped the president from feeling confident, though. “This is going to be the year, guys. I’m winning the pool.”

    You can watch President Obama complete his bracket with ESPN’s Andy Katz below:

    The post Obama picks Kentucky to take home NCAA trophy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Fliers depicting Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu are seen on the ground during a right-wing rally in Tel Aviv

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    GWEN IFILL: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu beat back a center-left challenge last night, scoring an unexpectedly strong reelection victory that threw future prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks into doubt.

    Special correspondent Martin Seemungal is in Israel and reports on the mixed reaction to the news in the region and beyond.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: After his surprising clear-cut victory, Benjamin Netanyahu took time for an afternoon prayer at Judaism’s holiest site, the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel (through translator): I will do everything I can to care for the security and welfare of all Israelis.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: The man now set to serve a record fourth term as prime minister sought to strike an inclusive tone after what had been a divisive race.

    According to Jerusalem Post reporter Gil Hoffman, Netanyahu ran:

    GIL HOFFMAN, The Jerusalem Post: A panicking campaign. He tried to make Israelis feel that they are in trouble, and that they need him.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Initial exit polls showed they needed both Netanyahu and his top challenger, Isaac Herzog. They were in a dead-heat. But through the night, as the actual counting began, Netanyahu’s Likud bloc racked up more seats. Too close to call became a rout, leaving Israelis deeply divided.

    WOMAN: All of my Facebook is full of pretty sad, pretty sad comments.

    MAN: Well, I voted for the Likud, so I went to bed quite happy, but I awoke — I was partying when I saw the results.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: The main challenger, Isaac Herzog, of the center-left Zionist Union coalition, said today he will sit in opposition and not join a government of national unity.

    ISAAC HERZOG, Zionist Union (through interpreter): The challenges are the same challenges. The problems are the same problems. Nothing has changed.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Among Palestinians, the same words, “Nothing has changed,” but with far different meaning.

    MOHAMMAD SAFI, Palestinian (interpreter): They will continue settlement buildings and expansions. They will do what’s good for them and not for us.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: The Palestinians would like to see East Jerusalem as the capital of a new Palestinian state, but in the last days of the campaign, Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear that there would be no Palestinian state if he is reelected.

    That insistence led to grim predictions.

    Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti:

    MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, Palestinian Parliament Member: Israel must be treated as the apartheid system was treated in South Africa at one point in time.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: And this from analyst Mohammad Darawshe, a Palestinian citizen of Israel.

    MOHAMMAD DARAWSHE, Co-Executive Director, Givat Haviva Institute: If they go on to collision track, it means probably thousands of thousands of more Palestinian casualties in the streets. And they’re going to continue their struggle to have a state.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Still, Gil Hoffman thinks Netanyahu does have room to maneuver, even now.

    GIL HOFFMAN: If the situation arises that would enable there to be movement forward on the Palestinian front, Netanyahu will move forward.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: The U.S. response to Netanyahu’s victory election has been cool so far. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said today his words over the last days had not gone unnoticed.

    JEN PSAKI, State Department Spokeswoman: Based on the prime minister’s comments, the United States is in a position going forward where we will be evaluating our approach with regard to how best to achieve a two-state solution.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Last year, the president himself told an interviewer: “The window is closing for a peace deal that both can accept. What we know is that it gets harder by the day. What we also know is that Israel has become more isolated internationally.”

    And for now at least, the election results have left the fractious relations between Mr. Obama and Netanyahu no closer to warming.

    GWEN IFILL: And Martin joins me now from Tel Aviv.

    Martin, when we spoke about this time yesterday, there were early exit polls which suggested that Netanyahu might pull this out, but not by this much of a margin. So what is the mood today among his supporters and the people who wanted to defeat him?

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Well, a very mixed mood, a real reflection of the division in this country.

    On the one hand, you have the Likud supporters euphoric, a great deal of relief, because you have to remember that, going into the election, the days before, all the polls were saying that Likud wasn’t going to do that well, it was going to poll at least two to three seats behind Isaac Herzog’s center-left coalition.

    And, as a result, there was a great deal of fear among a lot of Likud supporters that they actually weren’t going to make it. So when that final result came out this morning, they were — they were stunned. They were extremely euphoric that this had happened.

    On the other hand, you have the Zionist coalition, the center, center-left people who were, to use the words that we heard on the street today, shocked, devastated. They thought they had a real shot at it this time because of a perception that Netanyahu’s popularity was dropping, was plummeting, and that, in fact, most Israelis wanted to see that change.

    GWEN IFILL: And when you talk about coalitions, that is part of the conversation that is still under way at this point. How much — or has it even begun, the coalition-building that has to happen for this government to start working again?

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Well, there is a lot of conversations going on, but nothing has really started practically.

    Where we’re at right now is, Netanyahu has said that he will form a coalition or try to put one together in the next two to three weeks. The way it works is, all the party leaders get together. They recommend somebody to the president who will be the person they would like to see to be prime minister.

    Now, we know that Isaac Herzog has said he’s not going to serve in a Netanyahu unity government. He says he will serve in opposition, so it looks like, if Netanyahu is going to put this coalition together, which everyone expects, it’s going to be the Jewish Home Party on the right, also some of the religious parties, and, of course, Moshe Kahlon, the former minister in Netanyahu’s party who left two years ago, formed his own party, got 10 seats, and is now the fourth largest party — or fifth largest party in the polls.

    So, he has asked for the Justice Ministry. Many people saw him as a kingmaker if it was going to be a close race. Now that it’s clear Netanyahu is going to be the one forming the government, everyone expects that Moshe Kahlon will be the finance minister in a Netanyahu government.

    GWEN IFILL: Martin Seemungal for us tonight in Tel Aviv, thank you very much.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Federal Reserve opened the door today to raising interest rates, after years of record lows. The Central Bank’s latest statement dropped the word “patient” in describing its attitude toward the economy. But it also said the job market has to improve and inflation has to move closer to 2 percent before any rate hike.

    Fed Chair Janet Yellen:

    JANET YELLEN, Chair, Federal Reserve: Today’s modification of our guidance shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that we have decided on the timing of that increase. In other words, just because we removed the word “patient” from the statement doesn’t mean we’re going to be impatient.

    On Wall Street, the Fed’s statement signaled an interest rate hike may not be imminent after all. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 227 points to get back above 18000. The Nasdaq rose 45, and the S&P 500 added 25.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Terror rocked Tunisia today, as gunmen killed at least 20 people, most of them European tourists. It happened at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis. In addition to the dead, some 50 people were wounded. Security forces stormed the museum about two hours after the assault and rescued a number of hostages. Officials said the two gunmen were also killed, but two or three others escaped.

    GWEN IFILL: U.S. officials now acknowledge a Predator drone likely was shot down over Syria yesterday. The Reuters news service reported that development today. Last night, Syrian state TV broadcast what it said was wreckage of the drone. The Syrian military said air defenses in a Western region brought down the unmanned craft.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Serbia, for the first time, police have arrested suspects accused of taking part in the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica. Eight men are accused of killing more than 1,000 Bosnian Muslims. Bosnian Serb leaders have already been arrested and tried. But Serbia’s deputy war crimes prosecutor said the arrests of the actual executioners marks a milestone.

    BRUNO VEKARIC, Deputy War Crimes Prosecutor, Serbia (through interpreter): I cannot talk about the suspects, but the victims of Srebrenica have not been forgotten. The perpetrators have not been forgotten as well. Several other people throughout the region are potential perpetrators of this crime. And, therefore, I believe this story is not over yet.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In all, some 8,000 Muslims were killed at Srebrenica in Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II.

    GWEN IFILL: Police in Japan are investigating death threats made against U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and the American consul general on Okinawa. U.S. officials say the threats came in a series of phone calls to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Kennedy has been ambassador since late 2013.

    Some 10,000 anti-austerity protesters rallied today in Frankfurt, Germany. They came to target the European Central Bank as it opened its lavish new headquarters.

    MAN (through interpreter): I think that the European Central Bank is a big symbol for monetary policy in Europe and for the power politics of capitalism here. And it is simply very important that lots of people from lots of different countries come together and fight against these politics.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The demonstrations began peacefully enough, but trouble broke out when some in the crowd set fire to police vehicles and started throwing stones. Police detained 350 people.

    GWEN IFILL: Back in this country, a major Protestant denomination, the Presbyterian Church USA, has given final approval to recognizing gay marriage. A majority of the church’s local leadership bodies voted to expand the definition of marriage to include — quote — “a commitment between two people.”  The change takes effect June 21.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The 2016 Republican presidential field has a potential new entrant, Donald Trump. The businessman and star of TV’s “The Apprentice” announced today he’s formally creating a committee to explore running. Trump also expressed interest in running in 2012, but ultimately decided against it.

    GWEN IFILL: And for the second year in a row, the government set a record in 2014 for withholding information. The Associated Press reports the Obama administration censored or denied access to more files than ever under the Freedom of Information Act. In addition, the backlog of unanswered requests grew — under the law grew 55 percent.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: This was a day of terror in the capital of Yemen. Rebel TV in the city reports at least 137 people died, and some 350 were wounded in a wave of bombings. A stunned witness said blood was running like a river.

    It was the deadliest attack in decades in a country torn by strife. Four bombings rocked two crowded mosques during Friday prayers. Amid the carnage, men frantically tended to the wounded, blood and debris littered the street, and witnesses tried to make sense of what happened.

    ABDULLAH ALDANANI (through interpreter): We were in the mosque during the sermon. We first heard an explosion outside, near the security perimeter. When the first explosion happened, they used the chaos to enter the mosque in the middle of prayer and blow us up from inside the building.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Both mosques are controlled by Shiite Houthi rebels, who stormed the capital last fall and are said to have Iran’s backing. The rebels control a growing swathe of Northern Yemen, and have extended their reach westward. They have battled the Sunni-dominated al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which holds sway in much of central Yemen.

    Adding to the chaos, the Islamic State group, also Sunni, claimed today’s bombings, and warned of a flood of attacks to oust the Houthis. That drew a skeptical response in Washington.

    JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: It does appear that these kinds of claims are often made for a perception that they have, that it benefits their propaganda efforts.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. has struggled to maintain any influence in Yemen through President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. He was chased from the capital and his loyalists are now fighting to hold a power base in the south.

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    MARTIN HIMEL: Nearly nine years after Brett first saw combat here, this Detroit native returned to Iraq to defend the Christian faith he holds so dear.

    KID: Hello

    BRETT: What’s up, buddy?

    BRETT: There are a lot of kids here now. It is awesome.

    MARTIN HIMEL: Brett asked us to not to us his last name for security reasons. In 2006 he served in the U.S. army’s 14th mountain division for 15 months in Iraq. Brett was wounded by a roadside bomb and is a veteran on disability.

    MARTIN HIMEL: Why come back after all the time you served here and what you’ve seen? Isn’t it too much?

    BRETT: I’ve seen enough combat to last me a lifetime. I’m trying to do this on humanitarian grounds, trying to help out – to bring the world view here, trying to help liberate cities, trying to help protect cities. It’s just a different mission this time. It is.

    MARTIN HIMEL: Perhaps his greatest goal is to protect Christianity in Iraq. Brett is a religious Catholic. Last August, the 28-year-old interrupted his studies and traveled to northern Iraq where he joined the Assyrian Christian militia Dyvekh Nawsha which means “self-sacrifice” in Aramaic.

    BRETT: I miss you.

    MARTIN HIMEL: It’s a privately funded group numbering in the hundred under the command of the Kurdish peshmerga that is fighting ISIS in northern Iraq and eastern Syria. The US military is providing support for the peshmerga.
    There are several American, British, and Canadian christian volunteers also serving, most with Iraqi battle field experience. They receive no pay but are provided with free room and board by the Assyrian Christian militia.

    BRETT: To mean it means everything. I come from a country where most people take for granted their freedoms. They don’t understand what persecution is.

    In this part of the world to be able to live free and practice your faith without being killed is huge.

    MARTIN HIMEL: We caught up with Brett in Alqosh, a Christian town just 30 miles from the ISIS stronghold in Iraq- Mosul. Alqosh was overrun last summer by ISIS fighters and then recaptured with the help of Kurdish and Christian militias this past August. Skirmishes with ISIS persist nearby.

    BRETT: ISIS likes to pitch attacks, they are cowards. They like to do it in low visibility, low moonlight, rain, fog, and stuff like that.

    TOWNSPERSON: We love America too much.

    BRETT: We love you guys. We love this house. And we love that she stayed here.

    TOWNSPERSON: This house is like church.

    BRETT: It is. It is.

    MARTIN HIMEL: Basa Musafar was the only Christian to stay and survive in Alqosh when ISIS took the town. She has transformed her house into a Christian shrine, memorializing the fallen.

    MARTIN HIMEL: Just as St. George killed the serpent, the Christian militias are depicting crushing the ISIS snake.

    MARTIN HIMEL: Do you think this is a religious war?

    BRETT: I think it has become a religious war. Yes. Because the atrocities they are committing are based on their beliefs. The fact that you can push Christians back so far but when we do pick up the sword, we fight back. And we are doing it so far for our faith, we’re doing so far for our beliefs.

    MARTIN HIMEL: But for the moment, at least, life in Alqosh has returned to something like normal.

    MARTIN HIMEL: What does this town mean for you?

    BRETT: This town signifies a victory. I mean, at one point this town was completely abandoned except for one person, sometimes two.

    But now, the church bells ring again here, people go about their business, people live here- that’s the biggest thing. As you can see, shops are open, business is back, people are going to school. This signifies one of the few victories we have right now.

    What’s terrorism? Terrorism is a disruption of your daily life and I know these people are resilient. They’ve been able to say, “Hey look we know you’re in the area but we’re not going to let you destroy our lives. We will stay here and die for what we believe in, but we are going to continue to go on and operate our daily life.” So it’s a success.

    MARTIN HIMEL: Assyrian Christianity has survived here for nearly 2000 years, despite numerous attempts to destroy its followers. Established in in Syria and Iraq, Assyrian Christianity predates the rise of Islam by at least 400 years.
    ISIS is the latest serious attempt to destroy Assyrian Christians in the region.

    MARTIN HIMEL: ISIS calls Christians the crusaders. How do you feel when they say you’re a crusader?

    BRETT: Who was here before Islam? The Christians. The Assyrian Christian population is indigenous to this land, so to me it just shows how ignorant they truly are and how uneducated they are too.

    MARTIN HIMEL: Dr. Yifat Monnickendam is an expert on Assyrian Christianity, a lecturer at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

    MONNICKENDAM: Syrian Christians have been here since Christianity started in the second century, or the fourth century, it doesn’t matter. Way before Islam and way, way before the Crusaders.
    The Crusaders arrived in the eleventh century and remained here for 200 years, approximately. The other Christian groups in the area were here before and remained even after the Crusaders left.

    MARTIN HIMEL: Though Christians once again are worshipping freely in Alqosh, they remain under attack in much of Iraq and Syria and throughout parts of the Middle East.

    Twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christians recently were beheaded by ISIS fighters in Libya.

    And ISIS has made it a point to publicize its destruction of ancient and precious Christian artifacts in Iraq.

    Hundreds of Christians have been taken hostage, an untold number have been killed and hundreds of thousands of others have been displaced.

    And yet the Christians we met insist they will never surrender to ISIS.

    SAYIDA ELIAS, Resident, Al-Qush: We will overcome them. We will never leave. They are evil. They are murderers. They will not defeat us. We will defeat them.

    MARTIN HIMEL: While the US government has yet to issue a ruling about the legality of volunteering for these militias, Brett says the international community, including Christians in the United States, need to do much more to defend people he describes as ‘their brothers and sisters in Christ’ — people now under attack here.

    MARTIN HIMEL: What’s the message that you are trying to take to the world?

    BRETT: They need to open their ears. People are crying. They need to open their eyes. They need to help. We need funds, we need support.

    They don’t just want to kick us out, they want to kill us, and they are killing us. Jesus said before they hated you, they hated me. Before they persecuted you, they persecuted me and before they kill you, they’ve killed me.
    And it shows the resilience of the people here and sends a message to the whole world.

    The post Former U.S. soldier joins militia to defend Christian faith in Iraq appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    On orders from Lima’s mayor, and much to the dismay of the city’s artistic community, municipal workers began covering up murals in the historic downtown district of Peru’s capital last week.

    City hall workers paint over a mural at the Plaza de la Democracia in downtown Lima on Mar. 14, 2015. Credit: Enrique Castro-Mendivil/REUTERS

    City hall workers paint over a mural at the Plaza de la Democracia in downtown Lima on Mar. 14, 2015. Credit: Enrique Castro-Mendivil/REUTERS

    “It’s an atrocity,” Pedro Pablo Alaiza, Lima’s former manager of culture told the Agence France Presse.

    Mayor Luis Castaneda, who was elected to office in the fall of 2014, confirmed that he had ordered the coverup of the murals and said it was part of a project to revitalize Lima’s downtown, Reuters reported.

    The first mural to go was that of indigenous revolutionary Tupac Katari, whose fate was sealed with the stroke of a brush and the color yellow, the same hue used for Castaneda’s conservative party election campaign.

    A man walks past a mural in Paseo De La Republica street in downtown Lima, Mar. 12, 2015. Credit: Mariana Bazo/REUTERS

    A man walks past a mural in downtown Lima on Mar. 12, 2015. Credit: Mariana Bazo/REUTERS

    A woman walks past a wall painted to cover a mural at Lampa street in downtown Lima, Mar. 14, 2015. Credit: Enrique Castro-Mendivil/REUTERS.

    A woman walks past the same wall, which was painted to cover a mural, in downtown Lima on Mar. 14, 2015. Credit: Enrique Castro-Mendivil/REUTERS

    Artists and residents took to social media to protest the erasure, using the hashtags #SalvemosLosMurales (Let’s Save the Murals) and #MuralesenLima (Lima Murals).

    The murals first appeared between 2011 and 2014, during the term of Castaneda’s predecessor and political rival, Susana Villaran.

    A man carries bottles near a mural in Lima on Mar. 12, 2015.  Credit: Mariana Bazo/REUTERS

    A man carries bottles near a mural in Lima on Mar. 12, 2015. Credit: Mariana Bazo/REUTERS

    At the same spot in downtown Lima, a man sits next to the painted-over mural on Mar. 14, 2015. Credit: Enrique Castro-Mendivil/ REUTERS

    At the same spot in downtown Lima, a man sits next to the painted-over mural on Mar. 14, 2015. Credit: Enrique Castro-Mendivil/REUTERS

    Following the erasure of tens of murals in downtown Lima, the words on the wall read, "Long live the murals". Credit: REUTERS/Enrique

    Following the erasure of tens of murals in downtown Lima, the words on the wall read, “Long live the murals”. Credit: Enrique Castro-Mendivil/REUTERS

    Take a look at photos of more of the murals of Lima, Peru:

    A wall of graffiti is seen at Caylloma street in Lima on Mar. 12, 2015. Credit: Mariana Bazo/  REUTERS

    A wall of graffiti is seen at Caylloma street in Lima on Mar. 12, 2015. Credit: Mariana Bazo/ REUTERS

    A woman walks next to a mural and a food stand in Paseo De La Republica street in Lima on Mar. 12, 2015. Credit: Mariana Bazo /REUTERS

    A woman walks next to a mural and a food stand on Paseo De La Republica street in Lima on Mar. 12, 2015. Credit: Mariana Bazo /REUTERS

    A mural at Lampa street in Lima on Mar. 12, 2015. Credit: Mariana Bazo/REUTERS

    A mural at Lampa street in Lima on Mar. 12, 2015. Credit: Mariana Bazo/REUTERS

    A man walks next to a house with a mural named El Arcangel at Contumaza in Lima on Mar. 12, 2015. Credit:  Mariana Bazo/ REUTERS

    A man walks next to a house with a mural named El Arcangel at Contumaza in Lima on Mar. 12, 2015. Credit: Mariana Bazo/REUTERS

    At Pachitea street in downtown Lima on Mar. 12, 2015, people walk past a mural.  Credit: Mariana Bazo/  REUTERS

    At Pachitea street in downtown Lima on Mar. 12, 2015, people walk past a mural. Credit: Mariana Bazo/REUTERS

    The post Community in uproar after Lima mayor orders destruction of public murals appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    WASHINGTON — The Senate’s 100 members don’t agree on much. They agreed they wanted legislation to help the victims of sex trafficking. Then the bill got caught up in the emotional and uncompromising politics of abortion.

    Now the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act is stalled, its outlook uncertain. Democrats are insisting Republicans remove an abortion funding provision. Republicans are refusing to do so and demanding that Democrats back down.

    President Barack Obama’s attorney general nominee, Loretta Lynch, is caught in the crossfire, since Republican leaders decided to hold off her confirmation vote until the situation with the sex trafficking bill is resolved. That might not happen for the better part of a month or more, with senators set to vote on the budget next week before leaving town for a two-week recess.

    The stalemate over a bill meant to help some of the most vulnerable members of society is embarrassing and disappointing to all involved. Senators of both parties say they want to break the impasse and move the legislation forward, and negotiations are ongoing.

    Yet at least so far, neither side has been moved enough by the plight of tens of thousands of trafficking victims to bend and find an acceptable compromise. The situation illustrates that when it comes to abortion, other considerations can get sidelined as even the most pragmatic lawmakers get pushed into ideological corners with no easy way out.

    “The longer these things go, the more entrenched people become,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who has been working with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to try to find a compromise. “Our problem right now is that when things get polarized, it’s always difficult to put them back together.”

    The trafficking bill looked primed for quick passage earlier this month, after clearing the Senate Judiciary Committee without opposition. It aims to boost the tools available to law enforcement to go after people involved in sex trafficking, and creates a fund for helping victims that’s paid for with criminal fines.

    But just as floor debate was to begin, Democrats raised alarms about a provision blocking money in the victims’ fund from paying for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother. Similar prohibitions on taxpayer dollars have been included in Congress’ annual spending bills for decades, but Democrats said they couldn’t agree to extend them to a new pot of money.

    They also complained that the abortion funding prohibition in existing law, called the Hyde amendment, must be renewed annually, whereas the restriction on the victims’ fund would last five years. Democrats claimed that they had not known about the abortion provision and accused Republicans of sneaking it in, even though the language had been in the bill since it was introduced in January, and one Democratic senator’s office did concede an aide was aware of it.

    Abortion rights groups like Planned Parenthood and National Organization for Women jumped in, pressuring Democrats not to yield, and the issue quickly became personal for some. In a remarkable exchange on the Senate floor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., related her own personal history on a prison board sentencing providers before abortion became legal and encountering victims of back-alley abortions.

    Feinstein told Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the lead GOP sponsor, that women have lost too many fights over abortion and would not back down.

    “It is our reproductive system. In a sense this has been a battle for our identity,” Feinstein said. “There are many of us who believe this is one small step for womankind.”

    In the wake of that exchange, Cornyn, too, started sounding unwilling to budge. He proposed routing the victims’ fund through Congress’ regular annual appropriations process, but maintained language specifically referencing an abortion exception, and Democrats refused.

    Heitkamp and Collins offered a similar proposal, but their amendment dropped the abortion reference, and Cornyn said no. He told reporters that, Democrats “now having made this the focal point,” he was unwilling to give in.

    “By striking any reference to the Hyde provisions it looks like we are not maintaining the status quo, it looks like it’s an erosion,” Cornyn said late Thursday of the Heitkamp-Collins plan. “People like Sen. Feinstein, I think she would tell you she would consider that a victory.”

    On Friday, lawmakers and aides involved were still looking for solutions, but it was uncertain if they’d succeed. And at the same time, abortion was beginning to look like an obstacle to a deal on an unrelated issue – changing how Medicare reimburses doctors – as Democratic senators raised concerns that a tentative House agreement would write restrictions on abortions at community health centers into law.

    In January, the issue showed it could complicate even internal GOP politics as objections from female and more centrist GOP House members forced House leaders to pull a bill criminalizing virtually all late-term abortions. Together, they’re just the latest skirmishes in an ongoing battle that almost sunk Obama’s health care law and has reared up time and again to complicate one debate after another.

    “In my years in the Senate, very few issues have been more politically charged and or emotional than abortion-related debates,” said Jim Manley, a former longtime staffer for Democratic leader Harry Reid and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. “It’s very intense.”

    The post Abortion dispute delays bill to help victims of sex trafficking appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    An Assyrian woman attends a mass in solidarity with Assyrians abducted by Islamic State fighters in Syria, March 1, 2015. Islamic State militants  have taken hundreds of Assyrian prisoners in Iraq and Syria. Photo by Omar Sanadiki/Reuters

    An Assyrian woman attends a mass in solidarity with Assyrians abducted by Islamic State fighters in Syria, March 1, 2015. Islamic State militants have taken hundreds of Assyrian prisoners in Iraq and Syria. Photo by Omar Sanadiki/Reuters

    On NewsHour Weekend Saturday, we travel to Alqosh, a Christian town in northern Iraq just 30 miles from the ISIS stronghold of Mosul. Alqosh was overrun last summer by ISIS fighters and then recaptured with the help of Iraqi Christian and Kurdish militias this past August.

    Fighting to protect Alqosh is an Assyrian Christian militia known as Dyvekh Nawsha. But who are the Assyrian Christians?

    Here are eight things you should know about this ethnic minority group, whose members are spread across the world.

    • Assyrian Christians — often simply referred to as Assyrians — are an ethnic minority group whose origins lie in the Assyrian Empire, a major power in the ancient Middle East.
    • Most of the world’s 2-4 million Assyrians live around their traditional homeland, which comprises parts of northern Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. In recent years, many have fled to neighboring countries to escape persecution from both Sunni and Shiite militias during the Iraq War and, most recently, by ISIS. Members of the Assyrian diaspora are spread out all over world, including roughly 100,000 in the United States, according to a 2009 U.S. Census Bureau survey.
    • The official language of the three main Assyrian churches is Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, the language Jesus would have spoken. Many Assyrians speak Aramaic dialects, though they often  speak the local languages of the regions where they live as well.
    • Assyrians have been the victims of persecution for centuries, including the Assyrian genocide,  in which the Ottomans killed at least 250,000 Assyrians during World War I. Iraqi Assyrians have faced increased persecution following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, including attacks on Assyrian churches – some estimate that 60 percent of Iraqi Assyrians have fled the country since the Iraq War began.
    • Tens of thousands of Assyrians in Northern Iraq have fled persecution at the hands of ISIS, which demands that Christians living under its control take down their crosses and pay the jizya, a tax on religious minorities. Those who do not pay face a choice between exile and death. ISIS has also attacked Assyrian villages, killing or imprisoning hundreds.
    • Assyrian leaders, describing ISIS’s campaign of violence against Assyrians as genocide, have called on Western governments and international organizations to intervene against ISIS and to provide aid for Assyrian refugees.
    • As part of an effort to rid their territory of pre-Islamic relics, ISIS militants have destroyed ancient Assyrian artifacts at the Mosul Museum and razed the remains of ancient Assyrian cities.
    • Assyrian groups have renewed calls for the creation of an Assyrian autonomous region in Northern Iraq’s Nineveh Plains, a traditional Assyrian stronghold.
    Visitors look at Assyrian mural sculptures at the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad, March 8, 2015. Islamic State militants have desecrated Assyrian relics and ancient sites. Photo by Khalid al-Mousily/Reuters

    Visitors look at Assyrian mural sculptures at the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad, March 8, 2015. Islamic State militants have desecrated Assyrian relics and ancient sites. Photo by Khalid al-Mousily/Reuters

    The post 8 things you didn’t know about Assyrian Christians appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) expresses his condolences over the death the of the mother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani before a negotiation session with Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (R) over Iran's nuclear program in Lausanne on March 20, 2015. Both the U.S. and Iran have cited significant progress in the nuclear talks, but it is still unclear whether they will reach the March 31 deadline. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) expresses his condolences over the death the of the mother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani before a negotiation session with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (R) over Iran’s nuclear program in Lausanne on March 20, 2015. Both the U.S. and Iran have cited significant progress in the nuclear talks, but it is still unclear whether they will reach the March 31 deadline. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The United States and Iran reported significant progress Saturday toward a nuclear agreement, with the Iranian president declaring a deal within reach. America’s top diplomat was more reserved, leaving open whether world powers and Tehran would meet a March 31 deadline.

    Speaking after a week of nuclear negotiations in Switzerland, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry challenged Iran to make “fundamental decisions” that prove to the world it has no interest in atomic weapons. Amid conflicting statement by officials about how close the sides were, Kerry said, “We have an opportunity to try to get this right.”

    The talks “have made substantial progress,” Kerry told reporters, “though important gaps remain.” Talks with Iran resume next week.

    In Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was more optimistic. “Achieving a deal is possible,” he said. “There is nothing that can’t be resolved.”

    Other negotiators offered both positive and negative assessments. Top Russian negotiator Sergey Ryabkov and Iran’s atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi said in recent days that technical work was nearly done. But French officials said the opposite, declaring the sides far from any agreement.

    Kerry was departing later Saturday to meet with European allies in London, before returning to Washington, in part to ensure unity. Kerry said the U.S. and its five negotiating partners – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – are “united in our goal, our approach, our resolve and our determination.”

    But France, which raised last minute objections to an interim agreement reached with Iran in 2013, could threaten a deal again. It is particularly opposed to providing Iran with quick relief from international sanctions and wants a longer timeframe for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activity.

    On Twitter Friday, France’s ambassador to the U.S. called talk about needing a deal by March 31 a “bad tactic” that is “counterproductive and dangerous.” Gerard Araud called it an “artificial deadline” and said negotiators should focus instead on the next phase – reaching a complete agreement by the end of June.

    Kerry said the U.S. wasn’t rushing into a pact, stressing that the latest stab at a diplomatic settlement with Iran has gone on for 2 1/2 years. “We don’t want just any deal,” he said. “If we had, we could have announced something a long time ago.”

    But, he added, decisions “don’t get any easier as time goes by.”

    “It’s time to make hard decisions,” Kerry said. “We want the right deal that would make the world, including the United States and our closest allies and partners, safer and more secure. And that is our test.”

    Washington has yet to say what it will do if talks miss the March deadline, but the stakes are high. The Obama administration has warned that a diplomatic failure could lead to an ever tougher dilemma: Whether to launch a military attack on Iran or allow it to reach nuclear weapons capacity.

    A more immediate challenge may be intervention from Congress. If American lawmakers pass new economic sanctions on Iran, the Islamic Republic could respond by busting through the interim limits on its nuclear program it agreed to 16 months ago. Thus far, it has stuck to that agreement.

    The post Kerry: ‘Substantial progress’ in Iran nuclear talks but gaps remain appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The Great Seal of the United States is pictured on a wall in courtroom 9C during a special session of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on the occasion of the 225th anniversary of the first session of the court in New York November 4, 2014.       REUTERS/Carlo Allegri (UNITED STATES - Tags: ANNIVERSARY CRIME LAW POLITICS SOCIETY) - RTR4CUA4

    The Great Seal of the United States is pictured on a wall in courtroom of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in 2014. On Friday, a federal judge ruled that the government must release photographs showing the abuse of detainees in American custody. Credit: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

    A federal judge ruled on Friday that the government must release photographs that depict abuse of detainees by American military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    “The photos are crucial to the public record,” American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement. “They’re the best evidence of what took place in the military’s detention centers, and their disclosure would help the public better understand the implications of some of the Bush administration’s policies.”

    The government now has two months to appeal the ruling made by the judge, Alvin K. Hellerstein of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, Reuters reported.

    The ACLU first filed the lawsuit in 2004 against the Department of Defense, CIA and FBI, asking the government to release the photos along with other documents related to the “treatment and interrogation of detainees” held in U.S. custody.

    The administration has argued for years that releasing the photos would endanger U.S. soldiers abroad by fueling anti-American sentiment.

    Speaking at the White House in 2009, President Barack Obama announced his opposition to the release of photographs, saying there was little to be learned by making the images public.

    Obama said the consequence of releasing them would be to “further inflame anti-American opinion and put our troops in greater danger.”

    Related: Obama Moves to Block Release of Detainee Abuse Photos (May 13, 2009)

    The post Judge: U.S. must release photos of detainee abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    DAVENPORT, Iowa — There are some Democrats in Iowa who aren’t all that “Ready for Hillary.” So far, there’s little evidence they’re ready for Martin O’Malley, either.

    “I think it’s because they haven’t met me yet,” O’Malley said.

    Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (D) addresses the International Association of Firefighters delegates at IAFF Presidential Forum in Washington, March 10, 2015.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS HEADSHOT) - RTR4SSRG

    Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) addresses the International Association of Firefighters delegates at IAFF Presidential Forum in Washington on March 10, 2015. O’Malley has been campaigning in Iowa, where certain Democrats have a strong desire for an alternative to Hillary Rodham Clinton. Credit: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

    The former Maryland governor spent this past weekend campaigning in Iowa, where certain Democrats have a strong desire for an alternative to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who will enter the race for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination as a dominate front-runner. Some don’t find Clinton liberal enough, others enjoy their role vetting candidates and still others value a competitive caucus season for party fundraising and organizing.

    “I think probably Clinton is a shoe-in, but I want someone in the race who will push a little bit to the left,” said Monica Kurth, of Davenport, who attended the Scott County Democratic dinner where O’Malley spoke on Friday evening.

    No matter the reason, those seeking competition for Clinton acknowledge besting the former secretary of state will require an act of herculean political strength. O’Malley, in a way, does, too. At a certain point, he said, “the race quickly narrows between the once inevitable front-runner and the new and unknown candidate who emerges to offer a more compelling alternative.”

    O’Malley, who first came to Iowa in 1983 as a volunteer for Gary Hart’s presidential campaign, has invested heavily in the state. He made four trips to Iowa last year, put 14 staffers to work on state campaigns and contributed nearly $50,000 to local candidates. He now has one Iowa staffer on the ground exploring his chances for support in the caucuses.

    Many of the more than 200 people who turned out to see O’Malley in the Mississippi River city of Davenport on Friday said they were meeting him for the first time. He touted his time in office during his speech, including his work to raise Maryland’s minimum wage and increase state spending on education. The crowd enthusiastically applauded and rose to their feet several times when O’Malley bemoaned income inequality and called for more oversight of Wall Street and the financial industry.

    “Over the last 12 years, wages have been going down, not up,” said O’Malley, who concluded eight years as governor of Maryland in January. “In fact, last year, Wall Street bonuses alone were double the combined earnings of every single American working for minimum wage to take care of their family. Until we solve this problem, we cannot rest – as a party or as a people.”

    They were comments aimed squarely at those still pining for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to get into the race, something she has said repeatedly she will not. An effort to draft Warren into the race has been underway for months, organized by the liberal groups MoveOn.org and Democracy for America.

    Among that crowd, O’Malley isn’t yet the first alternate to the preferred alternate – Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

    “His name has not come up in visits I’ve had with my progressive people at all,” said Brenda Brink, a liberal activist from Huxley, Iowa, of O’Malley. “I think people are just so interested in Bernie or Elizabeth.”

    Or, perhaps, Joe Biden. Former Obama campaign volunteer William Pierce organized and launched a super PAC called Draft Joe Biden this past week, with plans to hire state coordinators in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and the singular goal of persuading the vice president to get in the race.

    “I’m a lifelong Clinton fan. But the thing is, this isn’t a dynasty – it isn’t a monarchy,” Pierce said. “We need people outside of the great Clinton family to represent us.”

    Officially, O’Malley has not launched a campaign, but his decision to pass up the chance to run for the seat of retiring Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski was viewed by most as confirmation of his intentions to compete for the Democratic nomination.

    “He was fantastic. He touched on every issue that is near and dear to my heart,” said Maria Bribriesco of Bettendorf after his Friday speech. “I think he will give (Hillary) a run for her money.”

    This report was written by Catherine Lucey of the Associated Press.

    The post Former Maryland governor hopes to be Clinton alternative in 2016 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The company's name is displayed on a billboard near the headquarters of Biogen Idec Inc. in Cambridge

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Just yesterday came word about what could be a big step forward in the battle against Alzheimer’s, a new drug that during tests sharply slowed the cognitive decline of people with the debilitating disease.

    For more, we are joined now by Dr. Samuel Gandy.

    He is a neurologist and associate director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Mount Sinai Hospital here in New York City.

    So, I guess, first, what is the drug? What does it do?

    DR. SAMUEL GANDY, MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL: So, the drug is aimed at a material that builds up in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease.

    It’s a normal protein, normal substance of the brain which changes its shape and clumps.

    And these class of diseases called amyloid disease, or amyloidosis are notoriously difficult to treat and the idea that with this drug is to help the brain clear those clumps away.


    DR. SAMUEL GANDY: Sort of harnesses the immune system to clear those clumps away.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And is this just targeted at Alzheimer’s or are there any forms of dementia that could also benefit from a drug like this?

    DR. SAMUEL GANDY: In any disease, in any dementia in which this particular protein builds up, this medicine could be effective.

    For example, not only just Alzheimer’s disease but what we call mixed dementias, in which Alzheimer’s and say, dementia due to multiple strokes can coexist.

    In that case, the component due to Alzheimer’s will still be responsive to this drug.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, given that there have been other attempts at this, how significant is this sort of advancement?

    DR. SAMUEL GANDY: Well, this is the first drug of any class aimed at amyloid that has shown any convincing signal.

    So, not only have there been antibody trials, but also there are small molecules, pills, that are being tested that are aimed at the enzymes that make amyloid, for example.

    None of those have succeeded so far. So, in terms of what we call the amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer’s, that amyloid is key to the cause of the disease, this is — this is really important in terms of focusing or sort of confirming that that is a valid target.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, why is this particular drug or this particular type of therapy different?

    DR. SAMUEL GANDY: This is a biological. It’s a protein, what’s called a monoclonal antibody, and it’s directed at — specifically at this molecule that builds up.

    And we’ve rarely been successful in this sort of medication, in this sort of disease. There’s one example of another amyloid that’s treatable.

    This is the second example where we seem to have a lead on a strategy that looks to be successful.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, Biogen, the company that made, saw a huge bump in their stock.

    Obviously, investors seem very confident. But this is far off from actually getting to market, right?

    DR. SAMUEL GANDY: It is. This is — it’s a small trial.

    If you divide it up between — there’s only about 150, 160 subjects total. They were in six different groups. So in each group, there were only about two dozen patients.

    So, the FDA usually requires at least two much larger trials, and so those would have to now be under at least typical policy those would be required before it would be approved.

    Now, the FDA has given some signals they would like to fast track this sort of thing, so they could change those rules.

    But one would guess, if they ran the two trials in parallel, perhaps it would be ready in three, four years. But it’s hard to imagine being any faster than that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And there’s always side effects to drugs. I mean, are there any known side effects so far?

    DR. SAMUEL GANDY: There are. And this particular side effect is one that occurs with a number of these biologicals.

    There are antibodies like this for cancer, for example. And this is a swelling of the brain, or at least a change in the water content of the brain.

    It’s often those symptoms, and usually if you sort of decrease the dose of the drug or space out the administration, it will resolve spontaneously.

    But it’s fairly important to be — to survey for it. It’s readily detectable on MRI, before there are any symptoms. So, I think it would be manageable.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, this is a category of biological drugs that you’re talking about. But are there other drugs — I mean, Alzheimer’s is so enormous in this country and elsewhere, are there other drugs that are following this kind of lead or in the clinical trials process?

    DR. SAMUEL GANDY: Well, in Alzheimer’s disease — yes, there are — this particular strategy has been attempted before and has failed.

    There was a drug by Pfizer, a drug from Lilly, which is still being evaluated, but the Pfizer drug was abandoned.

    And it’s not quite clear why the Biogen trial succeeded where these others have failed.

    There are a couple of possibilities. The first is that these biologicals can be different. One antibody made by one company may be slightly different from another in ways we may never even know.

    So, it’s possible that the Biogen antibody is just superior to the others.

    It’s also possible the Biogen trial design was the secret because they screened for people who had — they used amyloid brain scans to select the subjects. So, they knew that the people going in had amyloid in their brain.

    In previous trials, those folks with amyloid negative or with negative amyloid scans were included.

    So if they were not responsive to the medication, they would have diluted out the effect. And so, it’s possible that if these other drugs are tested with the same design, they might prove successful.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Samuel Gandy, Alzheimer’s researcher at Mount Sinai Hospital — thanks so much.

    DR. SAMUEL GANDY: Thank you.

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Lucy Coffey died earlier this week at the age of 108. She had been the oldest living female veteran.

    The Indiana native was 37-years-old this when in 1943 she enlisted in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps, which performed support tasks for the army.

    GEN. GEORGE C. MARSHALL: These women are to take over the jobs of soldiers behind the lines here at home.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Coffey served in the Pacific Theater, earning two bronze stars and rising to the rank of sergeant before being discharged in 1945. After the war, she did civilian work in the army in Japan and Texas for another 26 years.

    Last July, Coffey traveled to Washington D.C. from her home in San Antonio and met with both Vice President Biden and President Obama.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It’s so nice to meet you.

    LUCY COFFEY: Thank you.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You’re welcome.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Vice President Biden joked about being upstaged by the president.

    VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I’m Vice President. The president comes in everybody drops everything you know what I mean.

    LUCY COFFEY: Yeah.

    VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: But I’m the guy that loves you.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Coffey also visited the women’s memorial at Arlington National Cemetery and the National World War II Memorial, where she met fellow veteran and former Senator Bob Dole.

    Coffey was one of about 400,000 women who served in uniform during World War II.

    The jobs that women have been allowed to do have dramatically changed since then.

    In January of 2013, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta formally lifted rules that excluded women from ground combat — a change that recognized the danger that many women have faced in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.

    SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON PANETTA: They are fighting and dying together. The time has come for our polices to recognize that reality.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Today, women represent about 9 percent of living veterans. By the middle of this century, that percentage is expected to nearly double.

    The post Oldest American female veteran Lucy Coffey dies at 108 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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