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

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    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at the Detroit Economic Club in Michigan on Feb. 4. Dispute over end-of-life procedures that marked Jeb Bush's time in office is may prove to become an issue for the 2016 election. Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

    As Florida governor, Jeb Bush often pushed the limits of executive authority. Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Jeb Bush ended Florida’s affirmative action programs in 1999 with a flourish, issuing an executive order that he said would “transcend the tired debate” about racial preferences.

    Some lawmakers grumbled about the first-year governor making such a move without consulting them, and two black legislators staged a 25-hour sit-in at his office to protest. Bush refused to budge.

    “We’re doing the people’s work and I’m not going to let anybody, for any reason, stop us from doing that,” he said.

    Lawmakers would have to get used to it.

    Bush was an aggressive chief executive throughout his tenure as Florida governor, pushing the limits of executive authority, bristling at legislative oversight and willing to work around the courts.

    “He doesn’t shy away from the fact that he had a big agenda, and if there was a way to move it along quicker, he would find it,” said Cory Tilley, a Republican consultant who served as Bush’s deputy chief of staff during his first term.

    But as Bush draws closer to launching his campaign for president in 2016, he’s aggressively criticizing President Barack Obama’s own use of executive power, accusing him of “trampling on the Constitution.”

    “I think the next president is likely to undo much of the executive orders, particularly the ones where there was no constitutional authority to do these executive orders,” Bush said last week in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

    Until Bush’s election in 1998, the governor’s office in Florida had little relative power. But that same year, voters shrank the size of the state’s independently elected cabinet and gave the governor control over education and elections. Bush embraced the changes and, with the backing of a GOP-controlled Legislature, asserted himself in ways Tallahassee had not seen before.

    Earning the nickname “Veto Corleone,” a pun on the main character in “The Godfather,” he cut a record number of legislators’ local projects from the state budget and demanded lawmakers clear special spending with him in advance.

    Before the end of a blistering first year in which he won legislation to overhaul education, limit lawsuits and cut $1 billion in taxes, Bush signed his executive order on affirmative action. A Tampa Tribune cartoon depicted him as the Tasmanian Devil zigzagging through traffic.

    Kristy Campbell, Bush’s spokeswoman, says Bush “worked to make government more accountable to Floridians, and Floridians responded favorably to his approach.”

    The Legislature successfully sued Bush for interpreting his veto power too broadly, but it ultimately gave Bush most of what he wanted.

    “We were drinking out of a fire hose and we thought he had a lot of good common sense, a lot of great ideas,” said John Thrasher, the former Florida House speaker. “When you have great ideas and you work closely with somebody, it’s easy to give them a little extra authority.”

    Bush took the step to change affirmative action in university admissions and state contracting in part to head off a prospective ballot measure he thought was more divisive. But before he did so, he consulted with the Clinton administration and small groups of African-American legislators, ministers and students. It nevertheless blindsided many lawmakers and black leaders.

    Bush agreed to hold three public hearings on his effort and delay its implementation, and later said his only regret was not taking more time to explain the program.

    “I had a sense of urgency that others don’t share,” he said in his final month in office. “You kind of have to downshift to where people are sometimes.”

    Bush was less patient with the courts, seeking to sidestep a number of rulings that struck down his goals. After a Florida judge rejected a Bush-backed law requiring minors to notify their parents before getting an abortion, the governor and the Legislature supported a ballot measure to carve out an exception in the state constitution. Voters approved the change.

    Frustrated by what he saw as judicial activism, Bush also pushed for a law that gave him the final say over appointments to the state panels that nominate judges.

    That belief soon surfaced in the case of Terri Schiavo. Doctors said the severely brain-damaged woman was in a “persistant vegetative state,” and a judge’s ruling that her husband could remove her feeding tube had withstood years of court challenges. Bush, a devout Catholic, sided with Schiavo’s parents, who disputed the diagnosis and said their daughter, also a Catholic, would not want to be taken off life support.

    Bush signed legislation in 2003 that gave him the authority to order the woman’s feeding tube reinserted, but the state Supreme Court struck down that law as unconstitutional.

    Bush was unapologetic. Floridians “may not agree with everything we’re doing,” he said as he prepared to leave office in 2007. “But there is stuff being done here. People like their government to be focused on their issues, and they want it to be activist.”


    Associated Press writers Gary Fineout in Tallahassee and Bill Barrow in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

    The post Jeb Bush widely used executive authority as Florida governor appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Protestors block the road in Washington, D.C. during a protest after two grand juries decided against indicting police officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. and Eric Garner in New York.  Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Protestors block the road in Washington, D.C., during a protest after two grand juries decided against indicting police officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York. Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    race-todayWhen 28-year-old George Zimmerman killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on a residential Sanford, Florida, street in February 2012, after trailing the hoodie-clad, iced tea-carrying youth through the neighborhood because he looked “suspicious,” it became clear that America’s Millennial generation had not, in fact, disentangled itself from the nation’s sordid, bloody and lamentable history of racial atrocity. For George Zimmerman, born in October 1983, fits almost every standard definition of the Millennial generation.

    Based upon most studies of Millennials, I loosely define them (or us) as a generation of people born in the late 20th century who have or will come of age in the first two decades of the 21st century. For instance, having turned 18 in 1998 (voting age) and 21 in 2001 (drinking age), I usually reluctantly call myself a cusp-Millennial.

    Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed Michael Brown Jr. on a residential street in Ferguson, Missouri, in Aug. 2014, definitively fits the Millennial classification. Born in 1986, Wilson later testified in reference to Brown that “it looked like a demon,” and that he (Wilson) felt like a child trying to wrestle “the Hulk.” Both Wilson and Brown stand at 6 feet 4 inches, and both weighed between 200 and 300 pounds. Wilson also had a gun. Moreover, Wilson’s characterizations of Brown as less-than-human, as monstrous, and dangerous, fit within a long and enduring history of stereotypes of black men as criminals, animals and brutes.

    We treat racism as though it is the contained characteristic of a specific species of human beings known as racists, that lived in a prior era of American history, but have now nearly become extinct.
    Recent polling data also indicate that white Millennials are nearly as likely as their parents (61 percent to 64 percent respectively) to believe that white people are harder working and more intelligent than African-Americans. The paradox of progress, as historian Jelani Cobb calls it, is that these negative racial attitudes persist among young white Americans even though they are the same generation that played a pivotal role in the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. But it is important to recognize that mainstream acceptance of exceptionally accomplished black people is not an accurate indicator of the racial attitudes of the general populace.

    Recently, young fraternity members at the University of Oklahoma were caught on video singing a chant that copiously used the N-word, proclaiming that there would never be one in their fraternity. Two students were expelled, and we were treated to the requisite white American morality tale of shock, disavowal and denouncement. The problem is that these incidents happen every year. In fall 2013, a white sorority at the University of Alabama rejected two pledges of color seemingly solely on the basis of race. Moreover each year, we hear stories of fraternities and sororities and other campus groups throwing race-themed parties that traffic in stereotypes about African-Americans and Latinos.

    The shock and surprise from white Americans about these continued incidents baffle me. These clear racist and racially-tinged occurrences happen with a kind of quotidian regularity. The question is why we think the problem of racism is an evolutionary problem rather than an ideological one. We treat racism as though it is the contained characteristic of a specific species of human beings known as racists, that lived in a prior era of American history, but have now nearly become extinct. We keep missing that racism is ideological and institutional, rather than merely individual.

    Or we treat racism like an outmoded technology, hoping that it will go the way of the rotary phone, the cassette tape and the VCR.

    We keep missing that racism is the message, not the medium. The message more specifically is antiblackness and white supremacy. These messages have never been properly addressed or even remotely dismantled, and this is why they persist despite the medium. Such messages adapt to new media and new technologies — be they digital technologies or social phenomena like gentrification, segregation, over-policing and mass incarceration, which perpetuate the fundamental message of racism, namely black inferiority.

    These messages — about racism and antiblackness and white supremacy — persist because they resonate. Such messages mark who belongs and who doesn’t, who is worthy of America’s promise and who is not, who is worthy of our national empathy, care, and resources and who isn’t.

    Millennials have grown up in a world marked by these messages. And we have come of age and reached young adulthood in a struggling economy, with a shrinking middle-class, rising college costs, and limited job opportunities. When resources are scarce in this way, the old messages about who is worthy resonate and often come to predominate.

    Despite this dismal picture, I still think Millennials have a chance to shift the generational narrative on racism. Young black Millennials and Millennials of color have taken to the streets proclaiming a new message — Black Lives Matter. Unbowed by the recalcitrant racial attitudes of their white Millennial counterparts, these young people of color are demanding that America change, demanding a dismantling of the social technologies of racism, demanding that black lives be treated with value. And I believe that we will win.

    The post We treat racism like it’s going extinct. It’s not appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Bones of a prehistoric horse found near a Canadian reservoir points to evidence that humans migrated to North America earlier than previously thought, according to a new study published today. Photo courtesy of Michael Waters.

    Bones of a prehistoric horse found near a Canadian reservoir points to evidence that humans migrated to North America earlier than previously thought, according to a new study published today. Photo courtesy of Michael Waters.

    Bone fragments from seven horses and a camel suggest that the First Americans hunted and butchered these animals in North America at least 13,300 years ago after migrating from northeast Asia, hundreds of years earlier than previously thought.

    According to a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, these bones suggest that people were active at the Wally’s Beach location near Calgary, Alberta. That’s about 300 years before the Clovis people emerged — a group of prehistoric humans who had been previously considered the first settlers of the Americas, having arrived 13,000 years ago.

    This finding is consistent with the last decade of research into who were the real ancestors of the Native Americans, explained Michael Waters, an anthropologist from Texas A&M University and director for the Center for the Study of the First Americans.

    “It represents to us just more evidence that people were in the Americas before Clovis and that these people had some kind of weaponry that we haven’t found yet,” Waters said. “From 15,000 years on, they were moving across the landscape, hunting horse, camel, mastodon and mammoth.”

    When he first looked in to the site at Wally’s Beach, Waters wondered if the estimated dates of the animal remains, originally pinned at roughly 13,000 years ago, were wrong. He noted the absence of distinctive Clovis tools, such as flaked-off stone spearheads made at the end of the Ice Age, at the Wally’s Beach site.

    Then, he took samples of bone fragments into a laboratory to test to determine the age of amino acids present in the animal bones and radiocarbon dating. These tiny clues helped scientists more accurately pinpoint the age of the bones that belonged to animals killed during the same time period before the end of the Ice Age 13,300 years ago, “give or take 15 years,” Waters said.

    That degree of accuracy is “a blink of the eye in geologic time,” he explained.

    Horses and camels became extinct in North America at the end of the Ice Age in part due to a changing climate, Waters said. However, they were not the only notable North American animals who later disappeared at roughly the same time. Megafauna such as mammoth, mastodons and even giant armadillo “the size of Volkswagons” roamed the continent before dying off about 12,800 years ago. Eventually, as the climate warmed, that placed stress on the animals, which had adapted for the Ice Age, Waters said. Paired with the introduction of humans, the animals faded away.

    Apart from Wally’s Beach in Canada, Waters said there is other evidence of First Americans in caves in Oregon and even mammoth hunts in Florida. He said they most likely came along the Pacific coastline from Siberia and China, using the Columbia River as “the gateway to the continent.”

    The post Prehistoric hunt suggests humans arrived in North America earlier than previously thought appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity building at University of Virginia was the site of an alleged gang rape of a university student as described in a Dec. 2014 Rolling Stone article, which has since come under scrutiny. A police investigation, however, was unable to confirm the incident. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity building at University of Virginia was the site of an alleged gang rape of a university student as described in a Dec. 2014 Rolling Stone article, which has since come under scrutiny. A police investigation, however, was unable to confirm the incident. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Police on Monday said that an investigation was unable to confirm that a gang rape, as described in a November 2014 Rolling Stone article, occurred during a fraternity party at the University of Virginia.

    “All I can tell you is that there is no substantive basis to conclude that what was reported in that article happened,” Charlottesville, Virginia Police Chief Timothy Longo said at a news conference earlier today.

    The article detailed the story of a woman identified as “Jackie,” who alleged that she was gang raped by seven men while attending a party at the Phi Kappa Psi house in September 2012.

    Shortly after the article was published, several news outlets questioned the reporting and validity of those events. Jackie refused to cooperate with police, who launched an investigation that involved speaking to nearly 70 individuals, revealing numerous discrepancies between what the article described and what authorities found.

    Rolling Stone has since apologized for the article and commissioned Columbia University for a review of its story, due out soon.

    However, Longo said that though police couldn’t find any evidence of the rape, it “doesn’t mean that something terrible didn’t happen to Jackie.” Longo added that the case would remain suspended, not closed, allowing the possibility for additional information to be revealed.

    “I can’t prove that something didn’t happen and there may come a point in time in which this survivor, or this complaining party or someone else, may come forward with some information that might help us move this investigation further,” Longo said.

    The post Police say they can’t confirm gang rape at University of Virginia appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Afghanistan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter appear for photographs before sitting down for meetings at Camp David March 23, 2015 in Camp David, Maryland. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Afghanistan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter appear for photographs before sitting down for meetings at Camp David March 23, 2015 in Camp David, Maryland. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    CAMP DAVID, Maryland — U.S. and Afghan leaders laid the groundwork Monday for new relations between the two countries linked for years as war partners, including plans to seek American funding to maintain an Afghan security force of 352,000 and discussions about future U.S. troop levels as the war winds down.

    The all-day session, at Camp David in Maryland’s bucolic Catoctin mountains, included dozens of U.S. and Afghan officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah. The talks were aimed at relaunching a U.S.-Afghan relationship strained by nearly 14-years of war and America’s often-testy relations with the former president, Hamid Karzai.

    During the meeting, the U.S. agreed to seek funding through 2017 for an Afghan force of 352,000, a level the nation has yet to meet. U.S. administration officials said the Afghan government is trying to improve recruiting to make up for security forces who leave the service or simply abandon their jobs.

    They also agreed to require the Afghan government to complete specific reforms and meet other milestones in order to receive up to $800 million. U.S. officials said the Afghans suggested the incentive-based funding idea. The leaders of the two nations also said they would restart routine ministerial-level Defense and State Department meetings.

    Ghani is expected to meet with President Barack Obama on Tuesday, a meeting during which officials expect the U.S. to make clear its decision to slow the pace of the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.

    Obama has promised to pull all remaining troops out by the end of his presidency. But deficiencies in the Afghan security forces, heavy casualties in the ranks of the Afghan army and police, a fragile new government and fears that Islamic State fighters could gain a foothold in Afghanistan have combined to persuade Obama to slow the withdrawal.

    Instead of trimming the current U.S. force of 9,800 to 5,500 by the end of this year, U.S. officials say the administration now might keep many of them there well into 2016. Obama has said that after that, the U.S. will maintain only an embassy-based security force in Kabul of perhaps 1,000 troops.

    Ghani, who has expressed worries about Islamic State militants trying to gain a foothold in his country, has pressed to keep more U.S. troops there longer, but Obama has promised to end both wars in Afghanistan before his presidency ends in January 2017.

    During a visit to the Pentagon Monday, Ghani thanked U.S. troops and taxpayers for their sacrifices in nearly 14 years of war. He pledged that his impoverished country will not remain a burden to the West.

    “We do not now ask what the United States can do for us,” Ghani said in remarks meant to bolster the Obama administration’s conviction that he is a reliable partner worth supporting over the long term. “We want to say what Afghanistan will do for itself and for the world,” he added. “And that means we are going to put our house in order.”

    It was a poignant setting for the start of Ghani’s visit. On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked an American Airlines jetliner and flew it into the Pentagon, killing all aboard and 125 people in the building. The U.S. responded to the attacks on Washington and New York’s World Trade Center by invading Afghanistan a month later, beginning the longest war in American history.

    On arrival at Camp David, Ghani emphasized what he called a new phase of the U.S.-Afghan relationship.

    “It’s time for Afghanistan to reciprocate the gift that the United States has so generously provided over the years,” he said. “Reciprocating the gift means owning our problems, solving them and asking of ourselves what we must do for ourselves and for the region.”

    At the Pentagon ceremony, Carter praised Ghani as a committed leader who knows that “Afghanistan’s future is ultimately for the Afghans to grab hold of and for Afghans to decide.”

    Those themes emphasized by Carter and Ghani — that Kabul’s new leaders are more reliable and appreciative of U.S. assistance and that the U.S. alone cannot solve Afghanistan’s problems — are central to the administration’s approach to carrying out Obama’s pledge to end the war.

    Ghani proclaimed at the Pentagon ceremony that the U.S. is supporting the winning side.

    “We die. But we will never be defeated,” Ghani said. “Terrorism is a threat. It’s evil. But we the people of Afghanistan are willing to speak truth to terror by saying no, you will never overwhelm us, you will never subdue us. We are going to overcome.”

    “And in this endeavor our partnership with the United States is foundational because we will be the first line of defense for freedom globally,” he added.

    Ghani’s relationship with Washington stands in stark contrast to that of his predecessor, Karzai, whose antagonism toward the U.S. culminated in a refusal to sign security agreements with Washington and NATO before leaving office last year. Ghani signed the pacts within days of becoming president in September, and he has since enjoyed a close relationship with American diplomats and military leaders.

    AP National Security Writer Robert Burns and AP Radio correspondent Sagar Meghani contributed to this report.

    The post U.S. and Afghan leaders working to launch new postwar relationship appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Voting booths are set up for early voting at the Black Hawk County Courthouse on September 27, 2012 in Waterloo, Iowa. Obama says Voter ID laws can be a barrier to the ballot box. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

    The Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to Wisconsin’s voter ID law, allowing the law to stand. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

    MADISON, Wis. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a challenge to Wisconsin’s voter identification law, allowing the law to stand and handing a victory to Gov. Scott Walker following a long fight by opponents who say it’s a thinly veiled attempt to make it more difficult for Democratic backers to vote.

    The law won’t be enforced for an April 7 election because it’s only two weeks away, but it will be in subsequent elections, the state attorney general said.

    Walker, a likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate, is a longtime proponent of voter ID requirements and signed Wisconsin’s into law in 2011. But it was only in effect for one low-turnout primary in 2012 before legal challenges kept it on hold.

    The Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the case ends the legal fight, for now.

    “This is great news for Wisconsin voters,” Walker said in a statement. “As we’ve said, this is a common sense reform that protects the integrity of our voting process, making it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

    Democratic critics, as well as a federal judge in Milwaukee who last year declared the law to be unconstitutional, say in-person voting fraud is extremely rare. In his ruling striking down the law, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman said there appears to have been one documented case of voter fraud in Wisconsin between 2004 and 2012, and that was committed by a man who obtained a ballot in the name of his deceased wife.

    Opponents of the law say its true intent is to make it more difficult for older, poor and minority voters who tend to support Democrats and are more likely not to have the proper ID.

    The American Civil Liberties Union and allied groups persuaded Adelman to declare the law unconstitutional last year. But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago later ruled that the law did not violate the Constitution.

    The Supreme Court got involved last fall, temporarily blocking the state from requiring photo IDs in November’s general election, in which Walker won another term. While the court did not comment Monday on why it declined to take the case, its decision is further evidence that it put the law on hold only because the election was close at hand and absentee ballots already had been mailed with no notification of the need to present photo IDs.

    For much the same reasons, photo IDs will not be required for an election just two weeks away in which a state Supreme Court justice will be elected, said Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel.

    “Absentee ballots are already in the hands of voters, therefore, the law cannot be implemented for the April 7 election,” Schimel said in a statement. “The Voter ID law will be in place for future elections – this decision is final.”

    The ACLU asked a federal appeals court, in an emergency motion, to stay enforcement of the law. Wisconsin’s chief elections officer, Kevin Kennedy, said the state will not block that request because trying to require photo IDs so close to the election “wouldn’t work and would add a lot of chaos and confusion.”

    The next statewide general election where the voter ID law will be in place is the February 2016 spring primary, although it’s anticipated there will be local special elections before then where IDs will be required, Kennedy said.

    Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights project, said he was pleased the law won’t be in effect for the April 7 election and next steps were being evaluated to block the law permanently.

    “The last thing we need is laws that erect barriers for people who have been good voters for decades,” said Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

    Wisconsin was one of four states in which a dispute over voting rules reached the Supreme Court last fall. The other states were North Carolina, Ohio and Texas. Of the four states, only Wisconsin’s new rules were blocked.

    Associated Press writer Mark Sherman contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.

    The post Supreme Court will not hear challenge to Wisconsin voter ID law appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: For many years, Kodak Film was one of the nation’s leading companies, with 145,000 employees worldwide and annual sales of $19 billion.

    Today, Kodak is a much smaller company. Digital cameras don’t need film, and Kodak is focusing instead on exploiting thousands of patents it holds. The New York Times produced this snapshot of the physical and cultural transformation taking place at Kodak company headquarters in Rochester, New York.

    MICHAEL ALT, Director, Eastman Business Park: You know, there are some mixed emotions. We took down 40 buildings and about six million square feet of space.

    In 34 years, I worked in a lot of these buildings. I have got to be honest, it was a little bit tough to see some of that going down.

    JEFF CLARKE, C.E.O., Eastman Kodak Company: When you go to Eastman Business Park, it used to be called Kodak Park. You’re standing in a place that once had tens of thousands of employees working there. Now it has fewer, more diversified, but still an exciting place.

    MICHAEL ALT: We still have over 6,500 people. The difference is, three-quarters of those people are non-Kodak workers today.

    DAVID STOKLOSA, Vice President of Corporate Business Development, LiDestri Foods, Inc.: All around us are other companies, not Kodak. What used to happen in this facility where we’re now making sauce and salsa, Kodak used to make camera bodies.

    Initially, it was a little eerie, and now it’s just normal.

    My last five years at Kodak, I used to manage the decline. I used to manage decline, sell buildings, cut costs. It was depressing. It’s just a shadow of its former self.

    JEFF CLARKE: What it is today is very different. Obviously, Kodak is a pretty interesting company. And it was a brand that was very warm, very personal, because these were your memories they were capturing.

    Part of me says, we need to carry on that legacy, and the next generation of products we make, they will have Eastman technology in there.

    We have 7,000 patents. We make our own inks. We make our own toners. We also make the fastest commercial printing ink jet machines in the world. We’re using film and putting silver halide and a grid on it.

    MIKE SMITH, Kodak: We then print touch sensors. Putting glue on a piece of construction paper and sprinkling sparklies on top is very similar to what goes on here. The glue is our ink. The sparklies in this part of the process is the metal. It’s a little bit more high-tech than that, but, fundamentally, that’s what goes on.

    Ektacolor paper, Kodacolor film, Vision motion picture film, they’re iconic products, but they lived their life cycle. This is now the next generation of great Kodak products.

    MICHAEL ALT: Part of me would love to have the business we had. While I enjoy the nostalgia, I’m beyond that now. I’m ready to move on.

    Kodak will be offering more jobs here. But I think the real job growth will likely come from other companies coming in utilizing the capability here.

    JEFF CLARKE: At one time, there were 30,000 people manufacturing film. We now have 300 people manufacturing film.

    MICHAEL ALT: There has to be a sense of renewal. Sometimes you have to prune the tree to get it to grow stronger.

    MIKE SMITH: This is a real exciting change for us. Touch sensors, you see them everywhere, whether it’s a phone, a tablet, just in the airport, wherever.

    DAVID STOKLOSA: I jumped ship and came over to the food and beverage industry, unlike anything I had done before. Food and beverages, it’s — you know, it’s the one thing that I like about it the most is people got to eat. It won’t be replaced by digital technology. And that, I like.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can find more on Kodak and the company’s transformation online at nytimes.com/video.


    The post Picturing Kodak’s transformation in the digital age appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    GWEN IFILL: It was a busy day at the Supreme Court. The justices decided not to take up a voter I.D. case out of Wisconsin, and they heard arguments over the right to issue license plates in Texas that feature a Confederate Flag.

    NewsHour contributor Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal was there again and joins me now.

    Let’s start by talking about this Wisconsin case. In 2011, it was a big deal, this idea that voters had to present photo I.D.s at the polls. And this was considered by Democrats to be voter suppression and by Republicans a chance to beat back voter fraud.

    So now this gets to the Supreme Court, and they decided to end it?

    MARCIA COYLE, The National Law Journal: Not really.

    They decided not to hear the Wisconsin case, so that leaves in place the lower court decision upholding Wisconsin’s law. But the court said nothing about the merits of the challenge to Wisconsin’s law. And, Gwen, right now, there are a number of other cases pending and moving up the pipeline that challenge other states’ voter I.D. laws, and, in particular, Texas and North Carolina.

    Texas, there was a full-blown trial and the judge in that case found intentional racial discrimination by the state of Texas, unlike in Wisconsin. That case is now on appeal in the Fifth Circuit, and it is expected whoever loses will take it to the Supreme Court. So as of today, we really don’t know how the justices think about some of these laws.

    GWEN IFILL: But we know that, originally, this was put on hold not because of the merits of the case, but because it was too close to an election.

    MARCIA COYLE: Exactly. There’s a court doctrine. The court doesn’t like to see changes to election law shortly before elections.

    The Wisconsin law was going to go in effect right before midterm elections. Now, today, the ACLU and other groups that have challenged Wisconsin’s law immediately went to the lower court to ask again that it be put on hold temporarily, because there is an April 6, I believe, election. And, again, they haven’t had time to implement the changes.

    GWEN IFILL: Right. OK.

    Well, let’s move on to the arguments of the case today, because it seems like we never get away from a debate, periodically, politically, legally, about the Confederate Flag, this time on a license plate.

    MARCIA COYLE: Right.

    A really interesting case, a very interesting argument today. Texas, like many states, offers specialty license plates for a fee.

    GWEN IFILL: We’re seeing one there.


    And there is a state board that approves or disapproves of designs that drivers submit, often after notice and comment. Sons of Confederate Veterans is an organization that tries to preserve the legacy of those who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. And they sought a design on the plate that featured the Confederate Flag.

    Well, this state board of Texas heard thousands of comments, mostly negative, saying that the flag was really a badge of slavery. The board rejected the design. There was an appeal. Finally, the lower appellate court ruled in favor of Sons of Confederate Veterans.

    Texas brought the case to the Supreme Court. It’s a First Amendment case. The conflict boiled down very simply is, who is the speaker on these license plates?  The state of Texas says, this is government speech. We have our imprimatur on that license plate. If it’s government speech, the First Amendment doesn’t apply.


    MARCIA COYLE: The government can choose whatever message it wants to market or display on the license plate. Sons of Confederate Veterans says nobody who looks at these license plates think that it’s the government speaking. They think it’s the driver.

    GWEN IFILL: The individual who has asked for the vanity plate.

    MARCIA COYLE: Exactly. Exactly.

    And so if it’s the individual, then the First Amendment does apply. That was the structure of the argument today.

    GWEN IFILL: But isn’t former Governor Perry, Texas Governor Perry, who is Republican, had said that this was scraping old wounds?  Did that argument get any kind of discussion today before the justices?

    MARCIA COYLE: It really didn’t figure so much on that argument. The justices really pressed each side here to see what was the limit to their arguments.

    For example, the Texas attorney, he was asked, oh, well, for example, could someone propose vote Republican on a license plate and Texas say that’s fine, but turn down someone who wants votes Democrats on their license plate?

    GWEN IFILL: And the answer to that?

    MARCIA COYLE: Well, the Texas attorney said there would be other constitutional bars to doing that, like equal protection.

    But he pressed the consequences of the other side’s arguments. Texas would have to put on its license plate, for example, a swastika or al-Qaida, something promoting jihad.

    GWEN IFILL: That was truly offensive.

    MARCIA COYLE: Yes, truly offensive. And he said that these groups that are denied their designs can get their messages out in other ways, bumper stickers, a decal on a windshield.

    GWEN IFILL: So, why put it on a plate?

    Now, the justices listening to these arguments, put on your tea leaf-reading hat. Were they reacting in any particular way?  What kinds of questions were they asking?

    MARCIA COYLE: Well, as I said, they pressed him on the limits.

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    MARCIA COYLE: And on the Sons of Confederate Veterans side, they asked that attorney, so what is this here, this license plate?

    And he said, this is a limited public forum. Texas opened these specialty license plates to the public to design a message. And once they did that, it was — the First Amendment would come into play. Texas, he said, uses an arbitrary standard for deciding about the message. It says only if it’s offensive to anyone.

    GWEN IFILL: How many other states have the Confederate Flag or things like this on their plates?

    MARCIA COYLE: Confederate Flags?

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    MARCIA COYLE: I don’t know how many, to be honest with you.

    GWEN IFILL: OK. But — so we don’t know whether this would apply to other states or not?

    MARCIA COYLE: Oh, yes, certainly.

    What the court says about whether this is government speech or private speech, individual speech will impact — have an impact on other states that offer specialty license plates. And also the court hasn’t spoken much about what government speech really is. It’s not only license plates, but it could be in other contexts as well.

    GWEN IFILL: Which will be an opportunity.

    Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal, thank, you always.

    MARCIA COYLE: My pleasure, Gwen.

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    The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity building at University of Virginia was the site of an alleged gang rape of a university student as described in a Dec. 2014 Rolling Stone article, which has since come under scrutiny. A police investigation, however, was unable to confirm the incident. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Police in Charlottesville, Virginia have released the findings of an investigation into an alleged sexual assault at a University of Virginia fraternity described in a Rolling Stone magazine article late last year.

    The story drew national attention, and, soon thereafter, scrutiny of the details in the account.

    At a press conference today, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo discussed what his team found during the investigation that included multiple interviews with the alleged victim, known only as Jackie. Police also spoke with university officials, fraternity members and friends of the woman.

    It’s the first official report to discredit the account.

    TIM LONGO, Chief, Charlottesville Police Department: Unfortunately, we’re not able to conclude to any substantive degree this an incident that is consistent with the facts contained in that article occurred at Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house or any other fraternity house for that matter.

    Now, I want to be clear about something. That doesn’t mean that something terrible did not happen to Jackie on the evening of September the 28th, 2012. We’re just not able to gather sufficient facts to conclude what that something may have been.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Joining me now is Taylor Rees Shapiro. He’s a Washington Post reporter who uncovered inconsistencies in the original Rolling Stone piece and has been following the developments at the University of Virginia since.

    Taylor Rees Shapiro, thank you for talking with us.

    We know that Jackie’s story, first, she described seven men physically assaulting her, being raped. What did the police investigation uncover?

    T. REES SHAPIRO, The Washington Post: The police investigation, which included interviewing 70 different people and spanned hundreds of manhours with the detectives, wasn’t able to conclude with any sufficient evidence that the allegations that were detailed in Rolling Stone were true, meaning that they weren’t able to prove that the actual gang rape had occurred.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, in doing so, just give us some sense of not only who they talked to, but what they were told that didn’t square with her story.

    T. REES SHAPIRO: Sure.

    The first thing the police aimed to do was confirm some details in the story, such as, did a party occur at the fraternity house on September 20, 2012? In order to do that, the police reached out to members of the house who lived there that year. And I believe they spoke to at least nine or 10 of them. And in the course of that investigation, they were able to show that, no, there had not been a party that night.

    They also reviewed financial records and other statements from the fraternity to prove that. In addition to that, they are able to prove that, since there wasn’t a party that night, they were able to at least say it was more definitive that it didn’t occur at the house.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: They also spoke, of course, as we said, with university officials. They spoke to friends of hers. And what did that produce?

    T. REES SHAPIRO: The police interviewed three people who met Jackie in the immediate aftermath of the alleged attack. And they told a story that was significantly different from what was detailed in Rolling Stone.

    Longo today said that they described a sexual attack that was significantly different in the details of what had occurred and what was detailed in Rolling Stone, and that too also led them to believe that there were inconsistencies in the account that was provided.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Was there anything in her account that they were able to corroborate?

    T. REES SHAPIRO: They were able — as far as Longo is concerned, he said that their investigation is suspended. He said, by no imagination, does that mean that something horrible and terrible didn’t occur to her, but that as far as they were concerned that the Rolling Stone account was discredited.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In talking to them privately, the university officials and others privately — you have been on this story for a long time — do they believe that something happened, something did happen to her in the fall of 2012?

    T. REES SHAPIRO: I met Jackie multiple times, and I was stunned by the allegations that she was describing.

    And when I talked with other people who knew her, they, too, believed that something had happened to her. Apparently, in the minutes afterward, when her friends met her that night, they said that she was crying, that she was extremely distraught, that she didn’t appear physically hurt, but that she was just very emotional, and that they all concluded something terrible, akin to a sexual assault, must have occurred, in their eyes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Taylor Shapiro, do you have an understanding of why she has not cooperated or not been willing to talk to police, further answer any more questions?

    T. REES SHAPIRO: It’s not clear to me. I have not been able to speak to Jackie since December. I have reached out to her lawyers, and they have all declined to comment.

    I can’t possibly say why, other than she just doesn’t feel that she needs to.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, in watching this university community, how would you say — there was a reference today I think in the police chief’s news conference about how the university community has dealt with this. How would you say they have dealt with it? What has changed on the campus, would you say, and do they feel there are lessons learned by this?

    T. REES SHAPIRO: Sure.

    Well, University of Virginia’s had sort of a rough few months that began in fall with the disappearance of Hannah Graham, then these Rolling Stone allegations, and most recently the arrest of a black student by white police officers in Charlottesville.

    Overall, the students say it’s very clear that sexual assault prevention, as a result of this article, became a very significant and hotly debated topic on campus and, if anything, it’s raised the awareness of the issue and that has generated a lot of conversation, which they say is positive.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, more awareness, more discussion?

    T. REES SHAPIRO: Absolutely. And among the students, it’s pretty clear that even one sexual assault on campus is one too many.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Taylor Rees Shapiro, who has been covering this story for The Washington Post, thank you.

    T. REES SHAPIRO: Of course.

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    GWEN IFILL: Next: a diagnosis reconsidered.

    For decades, when a child appeared in an emergency room with unexplained head injuries and a disturbing set of symptoms, many doctors assumed one thing to be the cause: violent shaking and potential child abuse.

    But, in recent years, the diagnosis — diagnosis of what’s known as shaken baby syndrome has come under intense scrutiny, and so have many of the prosecutions and convictions that followed.

    Special correspondent Jackie Judd begins our story in Olney, Maryland.

    JACKIE JUDD: On a glorious Sunday last Memorial Day weekend in suburban Washington, Andrew Shortell taught his son, Piers, how to ride a two-wheeler.

    MARIELLE SHORTELL: Go, go, go.

    JACKIE JUDD: His wife, Marielle, happily shot the scene, with baby Tristan nearby. Later, the couple marveled at how complete their family now seemed.

    ANDREW SHORTELL: It was just an idyllic, perfect weekend.

    MARIELLE SHORTELL: Tristan was in a jovial mood. He was smiley.

    JACKIE JUDD: Twelve hours later, their lives were unimaginably altered when Marielle realized 18-year-old Tristan had not cried out for his usual 2:00 a.m. feeding.

    MARIELLE SHORTELL: I shot up in bed and looked at the monitor and all I could see was his butt in the air. So, I went into the room and I pulled him up out of the bed and I just heard this, like, gasp for air. And I looked at him, and he was so cold.

    JACKIE JUDD: Marielle finding Tristan slipped over and struggling to breathe raced to this nearby community hospital. There, she says doctors thought he might be experiencing a diabetic reaction.

    At MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, where the baby was soon flown, she says doctor suspected meningitis. By Wednesday morning, Tristan was dead. A doctor told the Shortells the cause appeared to be child abuse because of bleeding behind the eyes and other symptoms.

    MARIELLE SHORTELL: And he pulled both of us into the psych room and he said: “We have reason to believe Tristan died from shaken baby syndrome. The evidence doesn’t lie.”

    And I think my mouth dropped. We’re like, there’s no way.

    ANDREW SHORTELL: They said SBS. And I was, I didn’t even know what that is.

    JACKIE JUDD: Within minutes of Tristan’s death, Marielle was put in a room and questioned by a social worker and a homicide detective. It was the start of a family tragedy and a legal nightmare, as well as a window into what some view as a deeply flawed process of diagnosing shaken baby syndrome, flawed because it is now understood that accidents, like falls, infections, blood disorders, even the birthing process, can cause some of the same symptoms once widely believed tied only to shaking.

    KATHERINE JUDSON, University of Wisconsin Law School: We know it can happen from accidents. We know it can happen from disease.

    JACKIE JUDD: Katherine Judson teaches at the University of Wisconsin Law School and consults globally on shaken baby cases for the Innocence Network.

    KATHERINE JUDSON: There are still some doctors who believe that when you see a particular set of findings and you don’t have the explanation of a terrible accident, like a car accident or a fall from a really high height, or a particular illness, that what must remain is abuse.

    JACKIE JUDD: The set of findings or symptoms is often known as the triad, bleeding behind the eyes, bleeding around the brain and swelling of the brain.

    For decades, some doctors have considered the presence of the triad as irrefutable proof that a baby has been violently shaken, as illustrated in this animation used in legal cases, causing the brain to slam against the skull, further, that the disabling and sometimes fatal symptoms come on so quickly, the last person with the baby must be responsible.

    The most notorious case involved Louise Woodward, a nanny in Massachusetts, who, in 1997, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. More than 1,000 cases of shaken baby are diagnosed every year. Experts estimate that at least 100 of those are prosecuted.

    JACKIE JUDD: Some of those convicted have turned to the Innocence Network’s member organizations. That includes Drayton Witt, who lives in the Phoenix area. He is one of about 20 people who, with the network’s support, have had their convictions overturned in the past two decades.

    In 2000, Witt and then his girlfriend Maria were in and out of the hospital with her infant son, Steven, following a complicated birth. Witt was alone with the 4-month-old just before they rushed him to the E.R. for the final time.

    DRAYTON WITT: Knowing that he had a medical history, knowing that he had a seizures, knowing that he had a very troubled history from birth, even knowing that, as soon as, you know, baby shaken syndrome was thrown out there, it was a train they all jumped on. Nobody decided to look any further.

    MARIA WITT: If I felt for one millimeter of a second that he did something to our son, I would have took care of himself. And that’s what I told the cops. Steven was my entire world. And if I felt at all he was ever in danger, I would have never put him in that situation.

    JACKIE JUDD: Witt says he was an angry and aggressive young man who looked the part of a rough. Yet he was still surprised to be found guilty of second-degree murder. He spent 12 years in prison, until his appeal was heard.

    In a statement to the court, the medical examiner wrote: “There is now no longer consensus in the medical community that the original findings I reported are reliable proof of shaken baby syndrome. I believe Steven’s death was likely the result of a natural disease process.”

    Since walking free in 2012, Witt with his now wife and daughter have been catching up on a life delayed.

    DRAYTON WITT: My peak years, yes, are gone. Everything for me is starting over mid-30s. Some people don’t recover from that, and that’s something that needs to be not taken lightly.

    JACKIE JUDD: Dr. Lori Frasier, an expert on child abuse, treats patients at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and teaches there at the College of Medicine.

    LORI FRASIER, Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital: We have to be totally honest with parents what we’re doing.

    JACKIE JUDD: She has always believed the triad can appear for multiple reasons, but she also believes that in this contentious environment, the defense too often ignores the obvious.

    LORI FRASIER: But when you have symptoms that could be due to severe head trauma, you have to investigate them, because that’s our mandatory obligation under the law. The standard is reasonable suspicion, and those features do provide a reasonable suspicion in the medical setting.

    JACKIE JUDD: No one disputes child abuse occurs. The issue here is how to narrowly identify the reason for a medical crisis.

    How do you tell the difference between abusive and accidental?

    LORI FRASIER: So, it depends on the severity of the injury, associated injuries, other injuries. We take a detailed medical history. We spend probably at least an hour or more with families going into detail. Tell us what happened.

    KATHERINE JUDSON: I have a lot of respect for the folks who work really hard to figure out what the difference is, but we need a more accurate way of figuring out the difference, because it is absolutely unacceptable for children to be abused, and it is similarly absolutely unacceptable for people who did nothing wrong to be imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit.

    JACKIE JUDD: Judson of the Innocence Network says, despite the evolving science, she has not seen a decline in the number of shaken baby cases being prosecuted, diagnosed and investigated.

    That was the legal limbo Marielle and Andrew Shortell found themselves in immediately after Tristan’s death. For several months, they were not permitted to be alone with the surviving son.

    MARIELLE SHORTELL: It was awful. I couldn’t sleep. I was depressed. I’m thankful that I have made it to this point, because there were moments where I was like, I would just rather go join him.

    JACKIE JUDD: Most days, though, the Shortells soldiered on, packing up the rental house where they had so recently brought their newborn and moving to a place of their own.

    A legal resolution of sorts came in December. The medical examiner ruled the cause of death as undetermined. Nothing in the autopsy report suggests signs of abuse, such as fractures, broken bones or blunt impact. However, the Shortells say the state of Maryland will not expunge records of the case for three years, and until then, they could be flagged for extra scrutiny, if they want to open a day care center, for example, or adopt a child.

    ANDREW SHORTELL: Instead of grieving, you find yourself trying to defend yourself.

    MARIELLE SHORTELL: I did feel we were guilty until proven innocent.

    JACKIE JUDD: The Shortells have raised money in Tristan’s memory to develop a guidebook for diagnosing shaken baby syndrome.

    Ten months on, they try to help their 7-year-old adjust and to make sense of their loss.

    ANDREW SHORTELL: You go through that anger, that first phase of all the sadness. I mean, you could through just incredible sadness and not understanding what’s just happened to you. Then there’s — then there was the anger at like these people that are now intruding into our lives and are looking at us like we did something that we didn’t — that we know we didn’t do.

    MARIELLE SHORTELL: I remember on New Year’s Eve, when the ball dropped, we just looked at each other and just burst into tears, just, like, oh, my God, that was a horrible year. Like, the first half was the best time, and then on May 26 at 3:00 a.m., our life changed.

    JACKIE JUDD: And now, with the cloud of suspicion gone about just what happened that night, they are free to truly grieve for their little boy.

    For the PBS NewsHour, this is Jackie Judd in Bethesda, Maryland.

    GWEN IFILL: We asked MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Maryland’s Child Protective Services to comment on this story. Both declined to appear.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And with me now is the director general of the nuclear watchdog agency, or IAEA, Yukiya Amano.

    Mr. Amano, thank you for being with us.

    YUKIYA AMANO, International Atomic Energy Agency: Thank you for inviting me.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, based on everything you know about this deal that is being worked on, does it give your agency the ability to do what you need to do?

    YUKIYA AMANO: The IAEA has an ability to verify and monitor the activities in Iran.

    The important thing is that Iran needs to agree to implement powerful verification tool which is called additional protocols. We also need to clarify the issues that Iran may have done in the past.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, so, well, let’s take the additional protocol first. Iran has agreed to some of this. What would that mean? We know it hasn’t been ratified yet in Iran, but they have, in essence, agreed to it. What would that mean if that’s carried out?

    YUKIYA AMANO: I don’t anticipate that. Iran signed the additional protocol, and Iran implemented this additional protocol for some time, but it is not implementing the additional protocol.

    What is the advantage of the additional protocol? With the implementation of the additional protocol, we can have access to the site which is not declared, for example, or we can request a short notice of inspection to the country. These activities are very useful to detect undeclared activities.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: If you don’t get that, is this deal worth having? If you cannot have that kind of access, is this a deal that’s worth what it — all the effort that would have gone into it?

    YUKIYA AMANO: I think the implementation of the additional protocol is essential to have the confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran nuclear activities.

    Otherwise, we can give the assurance that the activities under — in the declared activities are in peaceful purpose, but we cannot say whether everything is a peaceful purpose or not.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What is the — Mr. Amano, what is the inspection situation now? I think many people don’t realize that there have been some inspections going on. What is the extent of what your agency is able to do right now, even without a new agreement?

    YUKIYA AMANO: There is an agreement which is called a comprehensive safeguard agreement between Iran and IAEA.

    In light of this, in accordance with this agreement, Iran places a number of facilities under IAEA monitoring and verification. For these facilities, we can tell — we can send the inspectors. We can install camera and stills, and we can tell these activities are in peaceful purpose.

    But what we don’t know whether they have undeclared activities or something else. We don’t know what they did in the past. So, we know a part of their activities, but we cannot tell we know all their activities. And that is why we cannot say that all the activities in Iran is in peaceful purposes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you have a sense, are you able to get a read on whether Iran is prepared to give the kind of access you say there must be?

    YUKIYA AMANO: The additional protocol, Iran has already signed. And some — they gave indications that, when the agreement is reached, they are ready to implement it, at least.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But they have said that, but it just hasn’t been implemented, is what you’re saying?

    YUKIYA AMANO: Just take an example. Iran and — Iran and P5-plus-one agreed a joint plan of action.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: These are the other world powers negotiating.

    YUKIYA AMANO: Yes, in Autumn 2013, and they are implementing it.

    They are implementing comprehensive safeguard agreement. But they have not said yet that they implemented the additional protocol. This is the point and this is the problem.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So there are still sites, there are still people, there’s still data that IAEA wants access to.

    I also want to ask you about the work of your agency — you have referred to several times — is doing. You want to know what they have done in the past on nuclear weapons and you — whether they have worked on nuclear weapons. They say they have not.

    You’re not getting cooperation on that, though; is that correct?

    YUKIYA AMANO: We have received some information. We have collected our own information. And we have heard from Iran.

    And our information indicates that Iran engaged in activities relevant to the development of nuclear explosive devices. We do not draw conclusions. But we are requesting Iran to clarify these issues.

    The policy-making organ, which is called board of governors of the IAEA, and United Nations Security Council resolutions request Iran to engage with the IAEA And clarify the issues. So far, there has been some clarification, but the progress has been very limited. We need to accelerate and clarify all the areas that we have identified in 2011.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And how long has your agency been asking for this information?

    YUKIYA AMANO: We make — since quite a long time, but, in 2011, we have shared the analysis of such information with the member states. Since that time, we negotiated for two years. And in 2013, we reached an agreement. It worked well at the beginning, but then the clarification, I think, is stalled.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But without that information, not to mention the additional protocol you have been talking about, are you comfortable, would you be comfortable with a new agreement if they are able to reach one?

    YUKIYA AMANO: I think it is very important that Iran engage with us to clarify these issues.

    That is necessary to restore the confidence of the international community in the peaceful nature of Iran nuclear activities.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, at this point, what do you believe what will happen?

    YUKIYA AMANO: My fear is that clarifying this issue is in the interest of Iran.

    And if Iran wants to restore the confidence, it is much better to do it sooner than later. I had a meeting with Minister Zarif in Munich in February.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Iranian foreign minister,


    And I had a meeting with the deputy foreign minister, Araghchi, and I’m making this point, to accelerate and engage with us proactively.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, we thank you very much.

    YUKIYA AMANO: Thank you very much.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Iran nuclear talks are set to resume later this week with the goal of reaching a deal before a deadline at the end of the month. But politics at home are complicating U.S. diplomatic efforts abroad.

    JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: We do believe that we have made important progress over the last few weeks.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The latest White House assessment came as a congressional letter to President Obama was made public. It was signed by 367 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans alike.

    Dated March 20, the letter said: “A final comprehensive nuclear agreement must constrain Iran’s nuclear infrastructure so that Iran has no pathway to a bomb, and that agreement must be long-lasting.”

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest seemed to mirror those demands in his own remarks.

    JOSH EARNEST: What we will insist on is making sure that we cut off every pathway to a nuclear weapon that Iran has and that they agree to and submit to historically intrusive inspections into their nuclear program. And if Iran is not able to make those commitments, then there will be no deal that is reached.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s been reported that the U.S. and Iran are working on a deal for a 40 percent reduction in Iran’s nuclear centrifuges for 10 years, in exchange for phased-out economic sanctions.

    But over the weekend, France appeared to take a harder line, insisting that a deal must prevent Iran from maintaining any ability to build a nuclear bomb.

    LAURENT FABIUS, Foreign Minister, France (through interpreter): As long as we do not agree on everything, then the agreement doesn’t exist, but we are working on it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Today, Iran’s deputy foreign minister pushed the U.S., France and four other powers to find a common position in order to reach a deal. Then, it would fall to the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, to monitor compliance. That group is conducting its own investigation of Iran’s program as the negotiations proceed.

    The so-called P5-plus-one talks resume Wednesday, with an end-of-month deadline just days away.

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    Ted Cruz Announcement

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    GWEN IFILL: The field is crowded with those who say they maybe, sort of, might run for president. But Senator Ted Cruz made it official today in an appearance at Liberty University, a Christian school in Lynchburg, Virginia. The Texas Republican became the first candidate to announce a bid in 2016.

    SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) Texas: I believe in you. I believe in the power of millions of courageous conservatives rising up to reignite the promise of America. And that is why, today, I’m announcing that I’m running for the president of the United States.


    GWEN IFILL: With Cruz all in, it’s the perfect day for our Monday check-in on all things politics.

    Tonight, we turn to Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, and Susan Page of USA Today.

    Amy, besides being a first-term senator and has been in Washington three years, engineered a government shutdown along the way, that’s all most people know about Ted Cruz. Who is he?

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Yes.

    Well, he was not only just a first-term senator, but he was in that first wave of Tea Party senators. He got to Washington in the way that many in the class of 2010 — and he came in ’12 — by knocking off establishment figures. He wasn’t supposed to win his race. He was up against a lieutenant governor in Texas. He took him to a runoff, won that runoff. Here he is in Washington.

    He’s known as a conservative crusader, a guy who takes on a lot of quixotic challenges, hasn’t won many of them. But that’s really his calling card. Before that, he was the solicitor general in Texas. He’s been very politically active. He was active in Bush 41 — I’m sorry — Bush 43 campaign. So he has been around the block in politics both in Texas, even though he’s new as a senator.

    GWEN IFILL: I remember I think it was the 2012 Republican Convention, when Ted Cruz walked in, there was a wave of excitement about his arrival on the scene.

    And it seemed like I turned around and thought, what am I missing? So it seemed like there was a moment when he exploded.

    SUSAN PAGE, USA Today: Well, he’s not a guy who has waited his turn. He didn’t do that in Texas. There was a guy who was supposed to be the Republican Senate candidate, David Dewhurst. He took that away from him. And he got to Washington and did the same thing, right?

    He doesn’t seem to care very much if he annoys Republican elders with his tactics. He cares about some things very strongly. He goes his own way. He’s more of an agitator than a legislator. And we will see how that works in a presidential campaign.

    GWEN IFILL: It was a long speech he gave today in Lynchburg. Did he say at any point why he’s running?

    AMY WALTER: Well, he’s running, he says, to bring back the promise of America.

    And, basically the theory goes like this. Republicans are losing and they have lost the last two presidential elections, not because they didn’t attract enough people in the middle, but because they didn’t get enough conservatives to turn out. He talked about the fact that evangelical conservatives haven’t turned out, in part because they don’t have anybody that they can really look to.

    He didn’t give any specifics about how he’s going to turn those folks out, but we do know from his past experience that what he is going to do is charge very hard right on social and cultural issues, on financial, fiscal issues, and also on foreign affairs. And that’s what he’s going to do throughout the campaign.

    GWEN IFILL: Was it significant that he did this on a college campus?

    SUSAN PAGE: I think it was significant he did it on this college campus, the world’s largest Christian university. That’s what Liberty University says on its Web site.

    It’s founded by Jerry Falwell, the evangelical leader. Ted Cruz has solid support among Tea Party Republicans, no question about that. I think he’s looking to broaden that support to include more Christian conservatives, voters who might also be thinking about voting for Mike Huckabee or for Rick Santorum. If he can put those two strands of the Republican Party together, he’s much further along the path of being able to be a very credible contender.

    GWEN IFILL: Does it seem like a lot of people are competing for those same voters?

    AMY WALTER: And that’s exactly his problem.

    What he think is going to happen is, he’s going to be the conservative anti-establishment candidate up against the establishment candidate, who many of us think is going to be Jeb Bush. Right? The problem is that anti-establishment slot is full of a lot of folks. Susan mentioned some of them, the Mike Huckabee and the Rick Santorum. You also have Scott Walker.

    You also have Marco Rubio, who came in as a Tea Party candidate. So did Rand Paul.

    GWEN IFILL: Ben Carson.

    AMY WALTER: Ben Carson. You have got a whole lot of folks that he’s competing with.

    And his challenge with somebody like Scott Walker, who he really does see as his biggest competition right now for that slot of the anti-establishment, is that Scott Walker’s appeal to Republicans is that he’s been a bold conservative and he’s found success in a blue state. Ted Cruz has put up a lot of fights, but he hasn’t had any wins.

    GWEN IFILL: Who’s next in line out of the box?

    SUSAN PAGE: Well, we think Rand Paul will be the next one out in about two weeks. And we think Marco Rubio will be soon after him.

    We actually think Hillary Clinton might be the next one out. But I do think that this announcement today is a kind of starting gun that they all hear and it probably propels some of them to think it’s about time to get into this race, because now there will be some attention. We’re talking about Ted Cruz tonight. That’s much to Ted Cruz’s benefit. He’s been a little overshadowed.

    GWEN IFILL: Is that the whole point for being first?

    SUSAN PAGE: That was the whole point for being first, and also for not doing this, I’m going to test the waters thing, which is…

    GWEN IFILL: He never did that. He skipped right over the exploratory…

    SUSAN PAGE: He says, I’m running, I’m in. So, I think that puts a little pressure on the other contenders. It’s a very large field on the Republican side who want to run for this nomination.

    GWEN IFILL: And do they all think that they’re running against Jeb Bush at this point, the Republicans?

    AMY WALTER: Many people who are not named Jeb Bush, yes, because it’s going to be a two-person race between the anti and then the Jeb — the Jeb Bush.

    GWEN IFILL: OK, let’s go to the Democrats. Remember them?

    AMY WALTER: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: They’re still out there. And there is some discussion. You mentioned Hillary Clinton — about whether she really has this thing to herself or whether there is any kind of unhappiness beginning to bubble to the surface on the Democratic side of things.

    SUSAN PAGE: Well, certainly, there are some progressive leaders who want someone else in the race, who don’t really trust Hillary Clinton, who think she’s too much of a Wall Street Democrat, who are very much behind Elizabeth Warren.

    The trouble is, Elizabeth Warren doesn’t seem to be persuaded this is a good thing for her to do. And the other thing we should remember is, there are really no signs for Hillary Clinton when you look at Democratic voters. Her support is quite remarkable.

    And so I’m of the opinion that the only person who can take this nomination away from Hillary Clinton would be Hillary Clinton, either by choice or by some fantastic error. I think she seems to be the strongest non-incumbent contender for the presidential race that we have seen in at least 50 years.

    AMY WALTER: Yes, and I think that’s exactly right. There seems to be a narrative building. And I think a lot of it is, quite frankly, a press corps and others who would like to see something exciting happen on the Democratic side.

    SUSAN PAGE: Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    AMY WALTER: There’s nothing wrong with having some excitement on the Democratic side. We want a race.

    The problem is, the voters don’t seem to want to race. Look at any data point of Democratic primary voters. They are very happy with Hillary Clinton. And 75 percent of them say they think Hillary Clinton represents change. Now, Republican voters don’t think that about Jeb Bush.

    This is a woman who’s set up very well. However, however, she shouldn’t want to go without a primary. She should want the challenge. And she should want to have to prove that she’s a strong campaigner.

    GWEN IFILL: Practical question. We see that the Bush family is starting to show up and raise money for Jeb, even though, as we pointed out, he’s doing the exploratory thing.

    Does this mean that it’s just — that exploratory or formal announcement is a distinction without difference, that the money, it’s going to get raised?

    SUSAN PAGE: Yes, completely.

    I think these candidates who are exploring, they’ve decided to run. This task is too hard, it’s too grueling and it’s too important to like really test the waters. It’s just a matter of waiting until you find the right moment for you to announce it.

    And here’s the question I have. The participation of the Bush family for Jeb Bush, is that really a plus for him? Because his biggest problem, it seems to me, is people saying, wow, another Bush.

    GWEN IFILL: Or another Clinton. We will be watching to see whether that’s the issue.

    Susan Page of USA Today, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, thanks.

    AMY WALTER: Thanks, Gwen.

    SUSAN PAGE: Thank you.

    The post First out of the gate for 2016, where does Ted Cruz go now? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The crumbling situation in Yemen brought a new appeal, and a warning, today. The U.S.-backed president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, called for Gulf Arab nations to intervene against Shiite rebels allied with Iran.

    On Sunday, the rebels seized Yemen’s third largest city, Taiz, and threatened to push south to Aden, where President Hadi has taken refuge. In response, Saudi Arabia warned the Arab states will act to protect Yemen against the rebel advance.

    GWEN IFILL: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized today to his country’s Arab citizens. He acknowledged that comments he made in the parliamentary election campaign were offensive. Netanyahu was accused of racism when he warned on Election Day that Arabs were voting — quote — “in droves.”  Today, he said, “This was never my intent.”

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Obama administration wants funding to maintain Afghan forces at a maximum of 350,000 troops through 2017. That word came today as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani held meetings with top American officials at Camp David, Maryland. The U.S. effort is costing $4 billion a year, but Ghani said it’s vital.

    PRESIDENT ASHRAF GHANI, Afghanistan (through interpreter): This is a major statement of support. Our armed forces and our security forces are going to greet this with enormous welcome because it gives them the assurance that the resolute support mission is continuing and that we are able to focus on our key priorities.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Ghani meets tomorrow with President Obama. The two leaders are expected to agree on keeping more U.S. troops in Afghanistan for longer than originally planned.

    GWEN IFILL: In Syria, Islamic State fighters pressed new attacks on government forces. They attacked a military airport in Homs province, after a three-day battle farther west in Hama. They have suffered recent setbacks in Northeastern Syria, but now they’re targeting provinces to the West.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The city-state of Singapore was in mourning today for longtime leader Lee Kuan Yew. He died at the age of 91 after a long illness. Lee led Singapore with an iron hand for more than 30 years, until 1990. He transformed it into an economic powerhouse, but maintained a strict social order.

    Today, mourners mostly remembered him in a favorable light.

    HELENE NG, Singapore Resident: He has done very great job in building our nation, giving us what we call our home. And if not for him, you will never see Singapore on the world map. So, that is my greatest respect for him, because he really cares for the people. So I felt very sad.

    Lee Kuan Yew was remembered by President Obama as a visionary.

    GWEN IFILL: Back in this country, two new reports on police conduct. In Philadelphia, a federal review found too many officers believe fearing for their lives is reason enough to open fire. The Justice Department says that is not consistent with city policy or court rulings. The review examined nearly 400 shootings, mostly involving black suspects.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And in Chicago, the American Civil Liberties Union charges police make use of stop-and-frisk tactics that target minorities. There were more than 250,000 stops last summer, with no arrests. Blacks make up one-third of Chicago’s population, but they accounted for nearly three-fourths of those stopped.

    GWEN IFILL: Wall Street started the week on a quiet note. The Dow Jones industrial average edged down 11 points to stay above 18100. The Nasdaq fell 15 points, and the S&P 500 slipped three.

    The post News Wrap: Saudi Arabia promises to defend Yemen from rebel advance appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The IRS says that  more than 300,000 federal workers and retirees owe billions in back taxes.  Photo by Ann Hermes / The Christian Science Monitor

    The IRS says that more than 300,000 federal workers and retirees owe billions in back taxes. Photo by Ann Hermes / The Christian Science Monitor

    WASHINGTON — Federal workers and retirees owed more than $3.5 billion in unpaid taxes last year, a $200 million increase over the previous year, the IRS said Tuesday.

    Almost 305,000 federal workers and retirees owed back taxes as of Sept. 30. That’s down from 318,000 the year before.

    The delinquency rate was 3.1 percent for the 9.8 million workers and retirees included in the data. That’s down from 3.3 percent the previous year.

    The IRS compiles data each year on unpaid taxes by federal workers. The data does not include workers who have enrolled in installment agreements to pay their back taxes.

    Among executive departments, workers at the Department of Housing and Urban Development had the highest delinquency rate, at 4.7 percent. Workers at the Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, had the lowest delinquency rate, at 1.2 percent.

    Tax compliance at the IRS is generally better than at other federal agencies in part because the IRS cannot share information about tax delinquents with other departments. A 1998 law calls for removing IRS employees who are found to have intentionally committed certain acts of misconduct, including willful failure to pay federal taxes.

    Compared to the general public, federal workers are more likely to pay their federal taxes.

    The IRS does not yet have data on the general public for 2014. But in previous years, the delinquency rate for the general public was between 8 percent and 9 percent — much higher than the rate for federal employees, the IRS said.

    In Congress, House employees had a higher delinquency rate than Senate workers. About 5 percent of House employees owed back taxes, compared to just 3.5 percent of Senate workers.

    Among active duty military, just 1.4 percent owed back taxes, the IRS said.

    The post IRS says thousands of federal workers and retirees owe $3.5 billion in back taxes appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras review an honour guard during a welcoming ceremony at the Chancellery in Berlin March 23. Tsipras met Merkel on Monday evening, his first official visit, to discuss Greece's bailout and reform. Photo by      REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras review an honour guard during a welcoming ceremony at the Chancellery in Berlin March 23. Tsipras met Merkel on Monday evening, his first official visit, to discuss Greece’s bailout and reform. Photo by REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski.

    Editor’s Note: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras traveled to Germany Monday to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel in a bid to get more credit for what the New York Times called its “looming cash crunch.” The narrative is a familiar one: irresponsible Greece is the problem child of the European Union and has to go begging Daddy, in all his Teutonic frugality, for help. But this tale is misleading, argues Mariana Mazzucato, professor of economics at the University of Sussex and author of “The Entrepreneurial State.”

    In an adaptation of that book on the Making Sen$e page last year, “Apple didn’t build your iPhone; Your taxes did,” Mazzucato made the case that public – not private — investment is at the heart of much of society’s most vital research and development. She continues to champion public investment, arguing that that’s what the EU needs to get back on its feet. And it’s disingenuous, she argues, for Germany to masquerade under the banner of austerity, when its own public spending has contributed to its economic strength.

    The following column is an edited version of one that first appeared in the Italian La Repubblica and was later translated into English on Mazzucato’s blog.

    Simone Pathe, Making Sen$e Editor

    We often hear that the problem in Europe is that there is a monetary union with no fiscal union and that this cannot work, has not worked and is the origin of the current fiscal crisis in the Eurozone.

    What is usually meant by this is that some countries were allowed to spend too much (i.e. were fiscally irresponsible), which got them into trouble with high debt-to-GDP ratios, while others were more “prudent” (i.e. fiscally responsible), tightened their belts and became more competitive. The recipe that follows from such an analysis is that what we need today is for the weaker countries (e.g. Italy and Greece) to cut their public budgets (and of course, as usual, workers’ wages) to become strong.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. And at the Ambrosetti meeting in northern Italy’s Cernobbio on Lake Como last week (what William Safire called an “elitist” version of Davos), we heard some better arguments from Richard Koo, of the Nomura Research Institute in Japan, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, and … myself. As the meeting was Chatham House Rules, I’ll focus on the issues that we have all been discussing for some years now outside the walls of the magnificent Villa D’Este. Let me focus on the short-term and the long-term reasons why the tale above is just a tale, and is continuing to keep the EU in dire straits.

    First, the short-term reasons. Koo argues that Europe has confused its structural problems with its balance sheet problems and that while the latter are much more urgent, we have wrongly prioritized the former (though many say not enough). By balance sheet problems he means that when an economic crisis is provoked by excessive private debt, after the crash, business naturally focuses on de-leveraging – in other words, saving rather than taking on more debt. And no matter how low interest rates go, business will not invest.

    Indeed, today we are witnessing very low consumption and investment at zero interest rates, which is causing deflation. The usual prediction is that such low rates would increase inflation. If this saving by the private sector is accompanied by saving by the public sector — if government acts “pro-cyclically” and tightens its belt — then we get into serious trouble: recessions can become depressions. Koo has argued that Europe should have learned from Japan’s mistakes when 15 years ago, after its own crisis, its government increased taxes and cut spending, which, instead of reducing its deficit, increased it by 70 percent (due to the massive fall in investment and demand).

    Europe is unfortunately still not learning the lesson. National governments continue to focus on cutting spending. And, as I’ve argued elsewhere, the European Commission investment plan is inadequate, based on the assumption that a €21 billion investment (of which €8 billion is taken from another EC pot dedicated to innovation) can have a leverage ratio of €15, magically turning €21 billion into an investment of €315 billion. How can European governments cut spending precisely in an era in which the private sector is not investing enough — let alone with such a kick?

    The U.S., on the other hand, learned from the Japanese lesson and in 2009, after the beginning of the crisis, not only created new money through massive quantitative easing (QE) but also increased government spending by $800 billion through an investment plan (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), which, in the short run, increased the deficit to 10 percent. In the long-run, however, that investment reduced the debt-to-GDP ratio because of the incredible stimulus on growth (the denominator) being witnessed today.

    Now I come to the long-term reasons, on which I focused during my Cernobbio session on financing innovation. The countries that are doing well today in Europe are those that have been investing more (not less) in all the areas that increase productivity: human capital formation, education, research and development, and key public institutions like public banks, which provide patient capital to innovators and organizations that increase the links between science and industry (e.g. Fraunhofer Institutes in Germany). That interconnectedness increases productivity across sectors. What has been lacking is a common investment plan in the EU — an investment pact. The EU doesn’t need a common plan for where to cut (a fiscal compact).

    Europe should have a common investment plan so that more countries do what Germany actually does, not what it says it does.

    And indeed, Yanis Varoufakis, who also presented earlier this month in Cernobbio, had been arguing for such an investment plan before becoming Greek finance minister. He is often accused of being too academic and not “politically savvy.” Nothing could be further from the truth. What we need today are politicians who know how to make the link between long-term thinking and short-term crises. Since 2010, Varoufakis has been working on a “modest proposal” for an investment-led recovery for Europe. He’s been ignored.

    His proposal sought to allow the European Investment Bank (EIB) to issue bonds directed towards productive investment, with the ECB ready to purchase those bonds. In essence, this would have amounted to a form of “directed” QE, allowing money creation to actually increase growth in the real economy rather than simply letting it sit in the coffers of banks. And since EIB bonds are triple-A rated, this would be much less risky for the ECB than buying national bonds. Only if money creation is “directed” towards productive areas and invested in viable projects that can produce long-run returns will we get a more balanced Europe.

    In his speech in Cernobbio, which is now on his website, Varoufakis said his plan should be called the Merkel Plan (!) because Germany will benefit from an investment-driven Europe that is less skewed, between member states, in its competitiveness. But until Germany admits that the real crisis in Europe is not due to differences between member states’ spending but to differences in their innovation and investment activities, unfortunately, this proposal is not likely to be adopted.

    Europe should have a common investment plan so that more countries do what Germany actually does — invest in R&D and vocational training, construct a strategic public investment bank, invest in science-industry Fraunhofer Institutes, envision a green transformation of all sectors through their ‘energiewende’ policy, and redistribute wealth between its regions — not what it says it does (tighten its belt).

    In the end, no matter how many structural reforms we engineer, and how much money we create through QE, Europe will go nowhere until it begins to construct a new future — a future in which both the public and private sectors invest more in the key areas that will foster future growth. There is nothing inevitable in “secular stagnation.” It seems to be the road we have chosen. Let’s change direction.

    The post Why Greece should follow Germany’s walk, not its talk appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Salih Zeki Fazlioglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    President Barack Obama says that efforts by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to clarify pre-election statements refuting any possibility of a Palestinian state do not appear to advance a two-state solution. Photo by Salih Zeki Fazlioglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — An unconvinced President Barack Obama said Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to clarify pre-election statements rejecting creation of a Palestinian state still do not appear to advance the prospect of a two-state solution to Mideast peace.

    Obama said he still takes Netanyahu at his word for comments the Israeli leader made just ahead of the Israeli elections last week that a Palestinian state would not be created while he was prime minister.

    He acknowledged that Netanyahu later pointed out that he did not say a Palestinian state would “never” be created. “But, of course, the conditions were such that they would be impossible to meet any time soon,” Obama said.

    The friction between the two leaders over the two-state solution issue comes on the heels of bitter disagreements over the U.S. role in international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Netanyahu has decried the talks, saying they are leading to a deal that would place Israel at risk. Obama has said the deal would only be finalized if it increases security for the U.S., Israel and the region.

    Obama noted a tendency in reporting to frame the current dispute as a personal issue between Netanyahu and Obama. He said he has a “businesslike” relationship with Netanyahu, and has met with him more than any other world leader.

    “So the issue is not a matter of relations between leaders. The issue is a very clear substantive challenge,” Obama said. “This can’t be reduced to a matter of somehow let’s hold hands and sing kumbaya.”

    Obama says no one has envisioned the creation of a Palestinian state “overnight.” But he said the goal is to give Palestinians hope for a secure state adjoining Israel.

    “It’s hard to envision how that happens based on the prime minister’s statements,” Obama said.

    “What we can’t do is pretend that there’s a possibility of something that’s not there,” he added.

    Associated Press writer Jim Kuhnhenn contributed

    The post Obama says Netanyahu statements make future Palestinian state ‘hard to envision’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Jeffrey Brown recently spoke with graffiti artist RISK about street art's role in uplifting forgotten and abandoned places.

    Jeffrey Brown recently spoke with graffiti artist RISK about street art’s role in uplifting forgotten and abandoned places.

    During his journalism career spanning more than 20 years, PBS NewsHour chief correspondent for arts and culture Jeffrey Brown has reported throughout the world on a wide variety of topics. From co-anchoring the NewsHour to traveling around the globe interviewing some of the world’s leading writers, musicians and artists, Brown has helped shape the NewsHour’s coverage of a wide spectrum of topics.

    Now, journalism students will have the opportunity to learn from his experience. On Tuesday, March 31, from 2 – 3 p.m. EDT, Brown will take questions in the second in PBS NewsHour’s series of Facebook chats for journalism students. Students can ask Brown about his experience as both a correspondent and producer, his current role reporting on arts and culture and his online work for “Art Beat,” NewsHour’s arts and culture blog. To join the chat, simply visit the PBS NewsHour Facebook page during the scheduled time. Brown will respond to questions posted on that page through his Facebook page.

    Help spread the word about this upcoming chat to aspiring journalists in your life. Stay tuned for information about additional PBS NewsHour Facebook chats for journalism students, and check out our previous chat with Judy Woodruff.

    The post Calling all journalism students: Join a Facebook chat with chief correspondent for arts and culture Jeffrey Brown appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Scientists at Purdue University developed a method that turns wastewood, such as mulch, into a naturally based alternative fuel source and vanilla flavorings and fragrances.  Photo courtesy of Steve Martin/Purdue Research Foundation.

    Scientists at Purdue University developed a method that turns wastewood, such as mulch, into a naturally based alternative fuel source and vanilla flavorings and fragrances. Photo courtesy of Steve Martin/Purdue Research Foundation.

    Mahdi Abu-Omar’s high-octane fuel and artificial vanilla flavoring share one thing in common: they both were developed from wastewood.

    Leading a team of researchers at Purdue University, Abu-Omar, a chemist and chemical engineer, recently developed a new method of catalytic conversion to turn lignin, which makes up a plant’s cell walls and serves as support beams that hold the plant upright and carry its water, into products that can either fuel your car or flavor your cupcake.

    Before this innovation, Abu-Omar said lignin’s only value was that this resulting biomass could be burned for heat as a byproduct of processing ethanol from cellulose.

    “If you’re to think about making the next generation biofuels from biomass, you want to utilize as much as you can from the biomass,” he said. “It’s a technology that allows us to be more efficient and more sustainable while adding values.”

    Abu-Omar’s work at Purdue’s Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels did just that, developing a more efficient process to generate an alternative fuel source. But that wasn’t all they did.

    In the process of squeezing more use out of plant waste, Abu-Omar’s team stumbled across one more finding: naturally derived, synthetic vanilla flavoring and fragrances.

    Normally, Abu-Omar said, these artificial vanilla flavorings and fragrances come from petroleum. That’s right. Petroleum.

    “The majority of synthetic vanilla is produced from petroleum,” Abu-Omar said. “This would be from a natural source versus coming from a petroleum byproduct.”

    So, why hasn’t anyone done this before?

    According to Abu-Omar, the paper and pulp industries typically use acids to strip lignin from plant cell walls when making pulp for paper. Those chemicals interfere with researchers being able to selectively work with specific molecules that produce vanillin and fuel from wastewood.

    “The key element is the selectivity,” he said. “Once you have this selectivity and you’re making molecules, you can make biofuels and other interesting products from the sugars in the plant.”

    There’s also money in the vanilla flavorings. According to Abu-Omar, wastewood often burns for 40 cents per ton when it instead could be converted into something far more valuable, such as synthetic vanilla flavorings, which sell for about $15 per kilo, or thousands of dollars per ton.

    The Purdue project belongs to a network of research groups nationwide under the Department of Energy’s Energy Frontier Research Centers, which started in 2009 and originally included 42 centers at universities, national laboratories and industry and non-profit research sites. The Purdue project received $3 million per year as an EFRC project.

    The Department of Energy’s purpose in creating the centers is to “pick science problems that, if solved, could have real technological impact,” said Andrew Schwartz, senior technical advisor for Energy Frontier Research Centers.

    The post Scientists turn wastewood into high-octane fuel and artificial vanilla flavorings appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    GWEN IFILL: Finally, to our NewsHour Shares of the day, something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too.

    Australian James Mort survived being buried in an avalanche while skiing in the Swiss Alps earlier this year. Several friends came to his rescue, and one captured the frantic search on a camera mounted to his helmet. The video was viewed widely online.

    James Mort spoke with us about that experience, and what he hopes others will learn from it.

    MAN:  Avalanche!

    Where’s James? Where’s James?

    JAMES MORT: The first thing I thought was, you’re dead.  You’re an idiot.  You shouldn’t have skied here.

    MAN:  I see him. He’s over there.

    JAMES MORT: Oxygen was pretty limited.  And I was starting to feel a little lightheaded by the time the guys got to me.

    If my ski pole hadn’t had been sticking out, they wouldn’t have been able to find me at all.  Because the snow was so dense, I didn’t see anything or realize they were nearby until the shovel slammed into my face.

    MAN: James!

    MAN: James!

    MAN: Yes, we have got him.

    JAMES MORT: It was four minutes of not knowing at all, which is horrifying.

    I hope that people will see this video and decide to do an avalanche awareness course and buy all the correct gear before they go out, because it means they may well save a life if they have to and prevent further accidents in the future.

    GWEN IFILL: That sounds like good advice, especially if you happen to find yourself in an avalanche.

    The post An avalanche rescue caught on camera appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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