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

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    Photo by REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Files/Handout

    The Obama administration has proposed new regulations for offshore drilling a week ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Photo by REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Files/Handout

    WASHINGTON — A week shy of the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Obama administration proposed new regulations Monday aimed at strengthening oversight of offshore oil drilling equipment and ensuring that out-of-control wells can be sealed in an emergency.

    The explosion of the Deepwater rig on April 20, 2010, dumped as many as 172 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

    Federal safety investigators blamed a faulty blowout preventer for the spill and called for stronger regulations to prevent oil and gas from rushing to the surface and triggering a spill.

    The proposed rule would require that blowout preventers in wells have two shear rams, which cut through the drill pipe and allow the well to be sealed. In the Deepwater Horizon spill, a single shear ram failed to operate properly.

    The redundancy is already an industry standard. The rule also requires an annual review of maintenance and repair records by government-approved inspectors.

    Many offshore drillers already have the capability to monitor from afar their drilling operations. The regulation would require that government workers have access to those facilities when necessary.

    Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell said the rule was needed to allow regulation to keep up with quickly evolving technology.

    “Those things take time and we want to make sure that when we come out with a regulation like this it’s been done very thoughtfully in consultation with a lot of different parties,” Jewell said during a conference call.

    Industry officials said they would be reviewing the proposed regulation, which is estimated to cost about $880 million over 10 years, but emphasized that companies have already taken steps to strengthen blowout preventers.

    “Our industry is committed to meeting the nation’s energy needs while maintaining safe and environmentally responsible operations,” said Erik Milito of the American Petroleum Institute.

    The rule didn’t go as far as some in industry had anticipated.

    The department said it would request comments on whether additional sheering capability is needed to ensure that the equipment could cut through anything, even debris around the pipe.

    “We went back and forth on that,” said Brian Salerno, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. “We decided to put that out there as a question and to specifically seek comment on whether that is a realistic requirement and whether it’s achievable. ”

    The public has 60 days to comment on the proposal before it is finalized.

    The post New offshore drilling rules proposed as fifth anniversary of Deepwater Horizon disaster nears appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former Army Sgt. and Blackwater security guard Nick Slatten surrenders to federal authorities with attorney Thomas Connolly on December 8, 2008 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by Scott G. Winterton /Deseret Morning News/Getty Images

    Former Army Sgt. and Blackwater security guard Nick Slatten surrenders to federal authorities with attorney Thomas Connolly on December 8, 2008 in Salt Lake City, Utah. A federal judge sentenced Slatten to life in prison on Monday. Photo by Scott G. Winterton /Deseret Morning News/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — A federal judge sentenced former Blackwater security guard Nicholas Slatten to life in prison and three others to 30-year terms for their roles in a 2007 shooting that killed 14 Iraqi civilians and wounded 17 others.

    The carnage in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square caused an international uproar over the use of private security guards in a war zone.

    U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced Slatten, who witnesses said was the first to fire shots in the incident, to life on a charge of first-degree murder. The three other guards — Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard — were each sentenced to 30 years and one day in prison for charges that included manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and using firearms while committing a felony.

    Lamberth announced the sentences after a daylong hearing at which defense lawyers had argued for leniency and presented character witnesses for their clients, and prosecutors asked that those sentences — the minimums mandatory under the law — be made even harsher. He rejected both requests.

    “Based on the seriousness of the crimes, I find the penalty is not excessive,” Lamberth said.

    All four were convicted in October for their involvement in the killings in the crowded traffic circle in downtown Baghdad. The legal fight over the killings has spanned years.

    Prosecutors described the shooting as an unprovoked ambush of civilians and said the men haven’t shown remorse or taken responsibility. Defense lawyers countered that the men were targeted with gunfire and shot back in self-defense.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Martin urged the court to consider the gravity of the crime as well as the sheer number of dead and wounded and “count every victim.”

    “These four men have refused to accept virtually any responsibility for their crimes and the blood they shed that day,” Martin said.

    Video monitors in the courtroom showed photos of the dead and wounded, as well as images of cars that were riddled with bullets or blown up with grenade launchers fired by the Blackwater guards.

    The defense argued for mercy, saying decades-long sentences would be unconstitutionally harsh for men who operated in a stressful, war-torn environment and who have proud military careers and close family ties. They also argued the guards were using weapons that had been issued by the U.S. State Department for their protection.

    “The punishment should be within the limits of civilized standards,” defense attorney David Schertler said.

    But Lamberth said he would not deviate from the mandatory minimum sentences, noting that similar stiff penalties have been applied to police officers who commit crimes while carrying automatic weapons as part of their jobs.

    Mohammad Kinani Al-Razzaq spoke in halting English about the death of his 9-year-old son as a picture of the smiling boy, Ali Mohammed Hafedh Abdul Razzaq, was shown on courtroom monitors. He demanded the court show Blackwater “what the law is” and claimed many American soldiers died “because of what Blackwater did.”

    “What’s the difference between these criminals and terrorists?” Razzaq said.

    Razzaq’s mother and two older brothers also spoke briefly about their loss.

    The sentencing was unlikely to bring an end to the legal wrangling, which began even before the guards were first charged in 2008. A judge later dismissed the case before trial, but a federal appeals court revived it and the guards were indicted again in October 2013.

    Even before the trial began, defense lawyers had identified multiple issues as likely forming the basis of an appeal, including whether there was proper legal jurisdiction to charge the defendants in the first place.

    The law under which they were charged, the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, covers the overseas crimes of Defense Department civilian employees, military contractors and others who are supporting the American war mission. But defense lawyers note that the Blackwater defendants worked as State Department contractors and were in Iraq to provide diplomatic, not military, services.

    The post Ex-Blackwater guards receive lengthy prison sentences for Iraq shootings appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Nobel prize-winning German writer Gunter Grass smokes a pipe during a news conference to promote his latest book "Peeling the onion" in Madrid May 21, 2007. Photo by Susana Vera/Reuters

    Nobel prize-winning German writer Gunter Grass smokes a pipe during a news conference to promote his latest book “Peeling the onion” in Madrid May 21, 2007. Photo by Susana Vera/Reuters

    Günter Grass, the Nobel Prize-winning author and social critic who grappled with the moral dilemmas of postwar Germany both on and off the page, died in Luebeck, Germany on Monday.

    Grass gained widespread acclaim for his novel “The Tin Drum” in 1959 and a reputation as a moral compass for his divided country in the subsequent years; it was not until 2006 that he revealed his own past as a member of Hitler’s SS.

    Grass was born in Danzig — now Gdansk, Poland — in 1927. His birthplace would serve as the setting of the trilogy for which he is best known, comprised of “The Tin Drum” as well as “Cat and Mouse” (1961) and “Dog Years” (1963), works that combined the bleak historical reality of Nazi Germany with signature magic realism and lyrical prose.

    “The Tin Drum” follows a dwarf who chose to stop growing at the age of three- Grass’s symbol for a German society that was too cowardly to prevent the rise of Hitler. The novel has been published in over 20 languages, and Grass went on to write dozens of plays, novels, poems and memoirs.

    Grass’s exploration of the trauma of life under Nazi rule earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999, for giving Germany “a new beginning after decades of linguistic and moral decay.”

    A liberal and anti-imperialist activist, Grass was a longtime member of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) party, serving as a speechwriter for West German Chancellor Willy Brandt. He railed against the evils of capitalism and nationalism, targeting Western countries including, frequently, the United States. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Grass was an outspoken critic of the reunification of Germany, arguing that a united country could once again turn to tyranny.

    In 2006, days before the release of his memoir “Peeling the Onion,” Grass finally revealed the history he concealed throughout his years as a strident voice of moral authority: Grass himself had served as a tank gunner in the Waffen-SS as a teenager, was captured by American soldiers and lived as a prisoner of war until his release in 1946.

    “It was a weight on me,” Grass said in 2006. “My silence over all these years is one of the reasons I wrote the book. It had to come out in the end.”

    The admission sparked cries of hypocrisy that only grew louder after he published a poem criticizing Israel in 2012. But his defenders argue that his experiences as a young Nazi inspired him to put on paper what he could not say out loud for so long: the complicity of Germans in the barbarism of Nazi rule, the post-traumatic weight of that history and the danger of ignoring it.

    “History, or, to be more precise, the history we Germans have repeatedly mucked up, is a clogged toilet,” the narrator of his 2002 novel “Crabwalk” says. “We flush and flush, but the [expletive] keeps rising.”

    His publisher, Steidl, confirmed the death but did not announce the cause. Grass was 87 years old.

    The post Günter Grass, German novelist who probed Nazi past while hiding his own, dies at 87 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Bill Arhos, founder of “Austin City Limits,” the longest-running music show in American television history, died on Saturday at the age of 80.

    Arhos began his career as a producer for KLRU, an Austin public television station, in 1961 and eventually became the station’s president and general manager. In 1974, he launched “Austin City Limits,” a public television music program recorded live in Austin, Texas, featuring Willie Nelson as the show’s first performer.

    Arhos stayed on as the show’s executive producer until his retirement in 1999, and was inducted along with Willie Nelson into the inaugural Austin City Limits Hall of Fame last year.

    “I’ve never met anyone like Bill Arhos,” Terry Lickona, ACL executive producer and longtime colleague, said in a KLRU press release. “He was a real character, known and loved not just in Austin but throughout the PBS system. The idea for Austin City Limits was not just his alone, but he brought it to life, and he kept the show going and growing through some difficult times. Whether they know it or not, millions of music fans, artists and PBS viewers owe a debt to him for his enormous contribution to what’s become a cultural institution.”

    Arhos was born in Bryan, Texas in 1934 and graduated from Rice University in 1957. He served on the boards of PBS and the Country Music Association.

    “Bill Arhos was a legend in public media, respected for his creativity, energy, and persistence. From day one, he dedicated himself to building a station that was a national leader in production, and he set a standard that others seek to achieve,” said Bill Stotesbery, general manager of KLRU. “He will be missed greatly.”

    The post ‘Austin City Limits’ founder Bill Arhos dies at age 80 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Environmental chemist David Stone builds a greenhouse using a "green" material he invented.

    Environmental chemist David Stone builds a greenhouse using a “green” material he invented. Photos by Vicki Nordness and David Stone

    When environmental chemist David Stone decided to build a “green” greenhouse for his wife, he chose a material he’d invented, an environmentally friendly substitute for cement he calls Ferrock.

    For a greenhouse, it’s fairly large, measuring 16 feet by 8 feet by 10 feet. It’s the first and only full structure with a roof and walls that Stone has built so far with his new material.

    Monday on the NewsHour, we examine Stone’s discovery, an innovative alternative to a product — cement — that accounts for 5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    Stone started with a wire mesh frame, the same method he’s used to create benches on the Tohono O’odham reservation in southern Arizona — demonstration projects funded by the Environmental Protection Agency.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    Then, he filled in by hand with Ferrock troweling the walls 8 inches thick. Separate wire tubes allowed him to pipe in carbon dioxide. At first, he used pure, compressed CO2 in tanks but that was expensive. He turned to exhaust from a small combustion engine. That, said Stone, showed “exhaust from an engine or any combustion source like a cement kiln or a coal-burning power plant could also be used” making larger-scale operations possible.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    The roof is a thin shell structure, just 1.5 inches thick, but it’s reinforced with steel and wire making it very strong. Eventually, it will be covered and will support shallow rooted plants, yet another environmental feature.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHis greenhouse is buried into the ground and never gets below freezing. In fact the temperature hovers around 60 degrees Fahrenheit all winter, even though the building is near the Canadian border, in a small town in the northern part of Washington state.

    Sunlight enters through windows on the south side allowing Stone to capture light in the early morning and late afternoon. He gets a head start on his garden, sometimes planting seeds as early as March.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    Stone said the greenhouse “remains the biggest, most complicated and most successful thing” he’s built so far. He hopes the technology will one day have potential for commercial uses.

    In the meantime, his wife has a very unusual greenhouse.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    The post It may look unusual, but this greenhouse is actually green appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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  • 04/13/15--15:06: GoPros go on a space walk
  • NASA has released a stunning sequence of footage from two GoPros accompanying astronauts on a February spacewalk. The two astronauts, Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts, were reconfiguring the external port on the International Space Station in preparation for the arrival of new astronauts.

    One video they captured shows the Space Station’s incredible views of earth, while the other video followed the astronauts along the underbelly of the massive structure. Both videos show a little of what it’s like to be in a sound vacuum (the video is virtually silent) and the difficulties of working in zero-gravity — one of the astronaut’s belt strap keeps floating into his view.

    The post GoPros go on a space walk appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    jordanspieth

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: It was a history-making weekend for golf in Augusta, Georgia, that captured — recaptured the television spotlight.

    Twenty-one-year-old Jordan Spieth became the second-youngest golfer to win the Masters, only a few months older than Tiger Woods was when he picked up his first green jacket back in 1997.

    Jeffrey Brown has a look at Spieth’s accomplishment.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Jordan Spieth led the tournament from start to finish, the first time that’s happened in 39 years, as he beat back challenges from some of the game’s biggest names.

    Along the way, he set several records, for lowest score after 36 holes and after 54 holes and for making the most birdies at one Masters. After four days, he got to don the traditional green jacket of the Masters winner, having tied the 72-hole record of Tiger Woods.

    Spieth spoke about that moment immediately afterwards.

    JORDAN SPIETH, 2015 Masters Tournament Champion: To put on this jacket is incredible. This feels great. I plan on not taking it off for quite a while.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JORDAN SPIETH: Probably sleep in it for the next few nights. But this is — it was a test. There is a reason I have a hairline like this right now. And that’s because it’s stressful, what we do, on a daily basis.

    And to be able to come to the world’s greatest and to come out on top, it puts a lot of confidence in me.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Some perspective now from John Feinstein, a columnist for The Washington Post and the author of several books about golf, including “A Good Walk Spoiled.”  He was in Augusta this weekend.

    John, what was the most interesting aspect to this? Is it his age or the manner of his victory? What was it?

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: I think it was the manner of his victory.

    To sleep on the lead, as they say in golf, for three straight nights…

    JEFFREY BROWN: Sleep on the lead?

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: Sleep on the lead. You lead Thursday, you lead Friday, you lead Saturday, you have got to sleep on the lead every night. That’s why guys have — don’t go wire to wire. He’s only the fifth player in Masters history to do it.

    And to win and look so calm — other than that hairline he referenced, he doesn’t show any stress on the golf course. He was being chased by Justin Rose, who is a major champion, Phil Mickelson, who is a three-times Masters champion, Rory McIlroy, who is the number one player in the world, and he never blinked. There were several blink moments, Jeff, where he might have lost control of the tournament, and he never did.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Which certainly has happened in other years at the Masters.

    Now, the wider world, we are learning about this guy. You have followed him for a long time on the course and off the course. We’re learning about his personality, family his life, all kinds of interesting…

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: He first came to the attention of we golf geeks when he was 16. He was a junior in high school, and actually made the cut and finished 16th as an amateur in a PGA Tour event near his hometown in Dallas.

    His whole school was closed on Friday, so everybody could go out and watch him play. And he’s the oldest of three kids. His youngest sister, Ellie, who is 14, is autistic. And Jordan has not only spent obviously a lot of time with her, as a big brother, but has volunteered at her school, which is for kids who have learning disabilities.

    And I think, because of that, he has a kind of understanding of real life that most superstar young athletes don’t. They’re anointed, they’re spoiled, they’re treated as gods. He doesn’t look at life quite that way. And I think a lot of that is Ellie.

    JEFFREY BROWN: We have talked about a lot of sports over the years here. Athletes in different sports mature or become great at different ages, right? What about in golf? Tiger Woods was a…

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: A phenom.

    JEFFREY BROWN: One of the phenoms, right? Now we’re looking at another young man. What’s the norm in golf? What is it that takes to kind of mature into greatness?

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: It’s interesting, because golf has the biggest gap in terms of stardom.

    Ben Hogan didn’t win a major until was 34.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: Phil Mickelson was almost 33.

    But then you had Gene Sarazen, who was 20, Walter Hagen 21, Tiger Woods 21, Jack Nicklaus 22. Jordan Spieth fits in that category. Now, listen to the names I mentioned who won at 20, 21, and 22. They are all in the Hall of Fame. They’re all iconic figures.

    Whether Jordan Spieth will live up to that, time will tell. But certainly the past would indicated that he is on a path to true greatness, and I think to being the next great rival for Rory McIlroy, who has certainly emerged as a star and won his first major at 21.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, let’s pick up on that, because, for many years, let’s face it, golf has really revolved around Tiger Woods.

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: Absolutely.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Much of the focus — and he is still very much there, and over the past few days, a lot of focus on whether he’s coming back at this point.

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: Always.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But there’s a new young crop of really great players.

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: Yes, there are a lot of very good young players.

    But these two, McIlroy and Spieth — McIlroy is 25, has won four majors already — Spieth, of course, won the Masters yesterday — have emerged. And you know what? Tiger Woods, Jeff, was a dynasty, the way the Yankees were a dynasty or the Packers were a dynasty, because he dominated the game.

    We haven’t had great rivalry in golf really since Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. I think McIlroy and Spieth have the potential to be a great rivalry, U.S. Ryder Cup player, European Ryder Cup player, both young, both already champions, and both very comfortable in the spotlight, both on and off the golf course.

    They never seem to really lose their cool, even when they fail. Rory McIlroy led the Masters by four shots, just like Jordan Spieth, at the age of 21, and shot 80 the last day.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Right.

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: Stood behind the green — I will never forget it — answered every question, never snapped at anybody, and said, if this is the worst thing that ever happens in my life, I will have a pretty good life.

    JEFFREY BROWN: That’s one of those — when you were talking about sleeping on the lead, that’s an example. He slept on it and then he failed.

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: Yes, and woke up to a nightmare.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: Absolutely right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But when you talk about them being good in the spotlight — and the spotlight was back on yesterday, right? I mean, the ratings were up.

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Do you think that that has that chance to — the rivalry, I mean, has a chance to kind of evolve into something bigger for the sport?

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: Yes, I do.

    And people have said, what happens when Tiger Woods is no longer playing or is no longer a star? I think the answer is, baseball went on without Babe Ruth. Basketball went on without Michael Jordan.

    These two, I believe, can be the next thing. And if they are, that’s great for the game. I’m one of those — some people love dynasties. I love rivalries, especially in individual sports, McEnroe and Connors, Evert/Navratilova.

    These two guys, again, an American and a European, so they could be competing against one another for the Ryder Cup someday soon, I think that makes for true greatness in a sport.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And just briefly in our 30 seconds here, Tiger Woods, where — again, a focus on him, and he was there for a bit.

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: Played well, considering that he was terrible the first two tournaments this year.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: I think, for him, it was a very encouraging weekend. I think he needs to play more golf than he’s playing. He says he’s not going to play for a while. He needs to get out and play.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Just to play and get back to…

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: To get back not to where he was, because he won’t.

    JEFFREY BROWN: He won’t?

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: To get back — no, to get back to where he can contend for a major title.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, John Feinstein, thanks, as always.

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: Thanks, Jeff.

    The post Is Jordan Spieth’s Masters win the start of a great golf rivalry? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Tax Forms Ahead Of 2014 Income Tax Deadlines

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: As Tax Day approaches, the Internal Revenue Service has an unusual warnings for taxpayers: Not everyone who calls the IRS help center will be able to reach an agent, which could result in refund delays this year.

    The agency blames budget cuts. But critics say the IRS should blame itself.

    Judy Woodruff sat down recently for this conversation with the IRS commissioner.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we are joined by the man in charge, Commissioner John Koskinen of the Internal Revenue Service.

    Welcome to the NewsHour.

    JOHN Koskinen, Commissioner, IRS: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let me just start this interview by citing a couple of numbers we have on taxpayers’ experiences with the IRS this year.

    We know that, last year, 70 percent of the people who tried to get through with a question were successful. This year, that’s down to fewer than 40 percent. The average wait time for taxpayers trying to get through to the IRS with questions shot up from 10 minutes last year to 24 minutes this year.

    What has happened?

    JOHN KOSKINEN: The short answer is that Congress cut our budget and we have fewer people available to answer the phone.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Flesh that out for us. How much of a budget cut? What does that mean and how many…

    JOHN KOSKINEN: Well, over the last five years, our budget has been cut by $1.2 billion.

    In December of this year, the last $350 million of that cut was provided. We only had nine months left in the year, so we had to take difficult choices across the board. One of them was, 70 percent or more of our budget is personnel. So, had to immediately say we wouldn’t hire any new personnel.

    We also had to not hire for as long a period of time as many seasonal workers that we bring in during the tax season, because that’s the busiest time of the year. And we didn’t hire our couple thousand temporary employees we normally would hire.

    And those are all decisions we knew would have a negative impact on taxpayer services. We had warned the Congress about it, but we had no choice.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what has it meant?

    JOHN KOSKINEN: What it’s meant is, the people who care most about this are the dedicated IRS employees who are in the call centers and feel great satisfaction whenever they can help a taxpayer answer a question.

    And they’re the ones most concerned that we can’t provide the taxpayers the service that our employees think they have a right to.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to quote the congressman who is chair of the congressional subcommittee that oversees funding for the agency, Ander — Representative Ander Crenshaw of Florida.

    He said, in referring to past problems that the IRS has had, overspending on conferences, misguided, as they put it, scrutiny of organizations seeking tax-exempt status and so on, he said — quote — “Congress has deliberately lowered the funding for the IRS to a level to make them think twice about what they were doing and why.”

    Have you and your colleagues been thinking twice?

    JOHN KOSKINEN: We have thought twice and more so.

    The problems that have been cited oftentimes took place two to five years ago. We have solved them all. We have explained that all to the Congress in great detail. There are some efficiencies when your budget gets cut that you can obtain.

    But we have done that. We save over $200 million a year now in efficiencies we have taken. As I have tried to explain, at some point, when the cuts get to be more severe, you have to basically understand you are going to do less with less. And that’s where we are now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s another complaint we’re hearing from the other side of the Capitol, from the Senate, Senator Orrin Hatch, among other things.

    As you know, he chairs the Senate Finance Committee. He’s been raising questions about whether you and the agency, in his words,are wasting money by paying millions of dollars in bonuses to IRS employees, I think they said 1,100 IRS employees, who owe back taxes or who have other problems.

    How do you answer?

    JOHN KOSKINEN: Well, again, when that problem was raised, we investigated it. And we have set in place policies where, if you are willfully violating your obligation to pay taxes at the IRS, not only are you subject to dismissal, but you no longer will be eligible for any performance award.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Are people today being paid bonuses if they owe back taxes?

    JOHN KOSKINEN: No.

    In other words, we actually monitor everyone in the IRS. Our compliance rate is over 99 percent. The IRS has the highest compliance rate by far of any federal agency or any congressional operation. So, it’s a high compliance rate, but the employees understand they have an obligation to pay their taxes. And we monitor each employee.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about another new wrinkle this year. It has to do with the new health care reform law, kicked in tax penalties for people who don’t have health insurance.

    And there are issues with people trying to reconcile their premium tax credits against their income. We’re hearing reports that, of the millions of people out there who are affected by this, that many of them are having real problems. They’re struggling to figure out their tax issues.

    How is the IRS handling this?

    JOHN KOSKINEN: Well, we spent a year trying to explain to tax preparers and taxpayers as much as we could how the act works. We have had a quarter-of-a-million hits on our Web site.

    We have a special section for ACA that helps out. And from our perspective, the filing season for those people is going well. Last year, 91 percent of people used software. And we work with the software developers and the preparers to make sure that taxpayers could simply provide answers to question, they will never see the forms, as they never do anyway, and that the filing would be straightforward.

    And thus far — we monitor all the calls to see if there are questions coming in that we need to answer where the answers aren’t available, and, thus far, from our perspective, things have gone well. I would estimate — or emphasize over 75 percent of people just check a box and say they have coverage.

    So, for the vast majority of people filing, the ACA act has not been a problem at all.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But for those individuals who may end up not paying the taxes they owe, either because it’s a penalty or for some other reason they don’t get the taxes they’re due, what is the IRS’ position when it comes to enforcing this?

    Are you going to go after people? Are you going to provide some leniency because you’re strapped for personnel, or what?

    JOHN KOSKINEN: Well, thus far, our experience is, although it’s still — and we have a couple of days to go — our experience has been that the people who are affected in the reconciliations, give or take a little, 40 or 50 percent of them are getting an increase in refund because they underestimated the premium they were — advanced premium they were eligible for.

    And the other half that actually are now getting a smaller fund basically are getting smaller refunds. We do not see a large number or any significant number of people who actually are putting in a position of their owing taxes that they can’t pay. We have made it clear — the Treasury Department issued a policy, if you can’t pay, you should file, but there will be no penalties.

    You will be in fact absolved of any penalty, but you still have to file.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There is one other thing I want to ask you about.

    And that is the question that is raised by the challenges the IRS is dealing with right now in terms of personnel. And that is auditing. We know that the percentage of returns the IRS audited last year dropped to the lowest it had been in a decade, less than half — or about a half of 1 percent.

    Is this an invitation of people to, frankly, avoid taxes, particularly people who are wealthy, who have all sorts of complicated forms to fill out? How much are you concerned about your ability to audit as many people as you think need to be audited?

    JOHN KOSKINEN: Well, over time, I am concerned.

    Some people have said, when you underfund us and we have 5,000 fewer revenue agents and criminal investigators, it is really a tax cut for tax cheats. And I think everyone, as they pay their taxes, wants to feel it’s a fair system and everybody is paying.

    So, if they feel that some people are cheating and getting away for it, that undercuts the voluntary compliance system. On the other hand, I would note that we will do still over a million individual audits this year. And, as I have said, the roulette wheel spins, and you don’t want the white ball to land on your number, because we won’t be happy.

    It may take us longer to find you, because we have fewer agents. But the longer it takes us, the higher your tax bill will be, because you will owe interest and penalties on what you also didn’t pay. So, we think that, while we are concerned about it in the long run, we are telling taxpayers, you still have a pretty good chance of getting caught. And if you get caught consciously trying to avoid your taxes, you should expect that we are not going to be happy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So the message is, don’t relax just because you see that we’re having difficulty with number of people to deal with all these returns?

    JOHN KOSKINEN: That’s right.

    And our experience is, the vast majority of Americans take their obligation seriously, are compliant, do the best they can, which is why we’re concerned about taxpayer service. We want to help taxpayers as much as we can figure out how much they owe and how to pay it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Only a couple of more days to go.

    John Koskinen, commissioner of the IRS, thank you very much.

    JOHN KOSKINEN: My pleasure.

    The post Are budget cuts and Obamacare confusion causing IRS bottleneck? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    cement alternative

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    GWEN IFILL: Climate change has prompted scientists to search for new ways to reduce greenhouse gases in all kinds of fields.

    Now an Arizona inventor has discovered an alternative to the unlikely cause of fully 5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

    Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery has the story, part of our Breakthroughs series on invention and innovation.

    DAVID STONE, Inventor: I have here the last surviving bit of an experiment that went wrong.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Thirteen years ago, David Stone was a Ph.D. student studying environmental chemistry.

    DAVID STONE: It was the corner lab right up here.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: In a lab at the University of Arizona in Tucson, he hunted for a way to keep iron from rusting and hardening up.

    DAVID STONE: It got hot. It started to steam. It was bubbling and spitting. And I thought, well, that — that didn’t work. The next day, when I came in and I found it and rescued it from the garbage, I realized, this just didn’t get hard. It got very hard, glassy hard.

    This one was cast by hand.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Stone — that’s his real name — began to think his discarded rock just might be a substitute for a very common product: cement.

    It’s been called the foundation of modern civilization. Portland cement, the generic name, is the glue that allows concrete to harden. And concrete is everywhere, in highways, bridges, sidewalks, buildings of all sizes, and much more. Four billion tons of cement are manufactured each year worldwide, a half-ton for every person on Earth. It has a huge carbon footprint.

    Steve Regis is senior vice president at CalPortland, one of the nation’s top 10 cement producers.

    STEVE REGIS, CalPortland Company: This plant, if it’s making about a million tons a year of cement, will emit roughly 800,000 tons a year of CO2 carbon greenhouse gases.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: One reason is the extremely high heat, about 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit, needed to process the limestone used to make cement.

    STEVE REGIS: In making cement, we actually make new minerals. And that uses a lot of heat to cause that chemical reaction to occur. This plant here, when they’re making a million tons a year, is burning on the neighborhood of 20 tons per hour of coal.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: David Stone uses a very different formula.

    DAVID STONE: This is the basic recipe, if you will.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: One that doesn’t require high heat and recycles materials from other industries.

    DAVID STONE: The whole process is green.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: A key ingredient is iron, something he gets from steel mills.

    DAVID STONE: I discovered that there was this material called steel dust that is not recycled. So, it typically goes straight to the landfill.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Silica is added to the mix, and that comes from ground-up glass. Finding that wasn’t hard either. Stone connected with the community college at the Tohono O’odham Nation, a Native American reservation the size of Connecticut in Southern Arizona.

    There, he met Richard Pablo, a recovering alcoholic looking to turn his life around. Pablo knew where to find plenty of used glass.

    RICHARD PABLO: Cleaning the desert and picking up those bottles, it kind of gave me an energy, a positive outlook. And then I started thinking about that there’s a power behind that, a spirit behind that, even behind that bottle.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Stone’s material, called Ferrock for the iron, has another environmental plus.

    DAVID STONE: You can say we are walking on trapped CO2.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: It’s a kind of carbon sponge. Stone adds CO2, which makes it harden, for example, into concrete paving slabs like these.

    DAVID STONE: We’re stepping down on climate change. This is a carbon-negative process that helps trap the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: That caught the eye of the Environmental Protection Agency. Then EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson came to the reservation and she, too, walked on Ferrock…

    DAVID STONE: This is a steel wire support structure.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: … and gave grants of more than $200,000 to build demonstration projects, which employed tribe members like Pablo.

    The prospect of jobs on the reservation has made Stone’s work attractive, says Casey Thornbrugh, project director for the Land Grant Office of Sustainability at the community college.

    CASEY THORNBRUGH, Tohono O’odham Community College: As projects come up, such as campus buildings, homes, businesses that want to use the material, that’s where the jobs come in.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Stone won a prize for his invention while a student. The University of Arizona helped him secure a patent and later licensed the technology to him. And now he’s formed a company called Iron Shell.

    Experiments on Ferrock’s strength are under way at Arizona State University in Phoenix.

    Professor Narayanan Neithalath, a civil engineer who develops sustainable materials, is testing Ferrock.

    NARAYANAN NEITHALATH, Arizona State University: When you talk to anybody about concrete, the first thing that they will ask you is, what’s the strength? We have found out in our work that this is about five times tougher than your conventional Portland cement concrete.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: That strength might help protect a building from an earthquake, a tornado or even a bomb, like the one that brought down the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

    NARAYANAN NEITHALATH: What happened in Oklahoma City bombing was the explosion demolished all the columns of the building and the building crashed because of the weight of it and the columns not being able to support them.

    But if I have a blast-resistant material, so something made out of this material, what you will have is the — the columns will still become weaker. But it won’t collapse just like that, and you will save loss of lives and loss of property.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: At CalPortland cement, officials say their product has stood the test of time for more than 100 years. They have won Energy Star awards from the EPA for 11 years running for their energy-saving efforts.

    Among the achievements: using alternative fuels such as old tires and recouping some of the CO2 emissions.

    Steve Regis says his company is always on the lookout for new ways to make cement, but says Ferrock isn’t practical for a large-scale operation.

    STEVE REGIS: Dave’s idea, I think it has a good niche market for — for nonstructural block, yard art, benches. But consider the scale of that compared to a 200-mile six-lane freeway eight inches thick or a runaway.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Stone is well aware he’s David to a very big Goliath, but he thinks there will be a market for Ferrock eventually.

    DAVID STONE: I’m doing my part, as best I can, to respond, so that when the time comes and the world wants to build with new materials that are carbon-neutral or carbon-negative, I will be able to step forward and say, yes, I have such a material.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: A material he hopes will one day make a lasting impression.

    DAVID STONE: Here it is.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: I’m Kathleen McCleery for the PBS NewsHour in Tucson, Arizona.

    The post This cement alternative absorbs CO2 like a sponge appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    serial

    “Undisclosed: The State v. Adnan Syed” is a new podcast dedicated to the exoneration of Adnan Syed, who was convicted of killing his high school girlfriend in 1999.

    A new podcast that features the story of Adnan Syed, a man serving a life sentence after being convicted of murdering his high school girlfriend when he was a teenager, kicked off today with a 40-minute episode. “Undisclosed: The State v. Adnan Syed” seeks to further investigate Syed’s case, which was presented in the wildly popular podcast “Serial,” narrated by Sarah Koenig.

    “Undisclosed” explores what happened to Hae Min Lee, the teenager who was murdered outside of Baltimore in 1999. Rabia Chaudry, a lawyer and family friend of Syed’s, produces and narrates the podcast, along with two other lawyers, Susan Simpson and Colin Miller. While Serial’s style was largely narrative, Chaudry said Undisclosed’s style will be more investigative and will feature some evidence “Serial” did not present.

    Since Syed’s original trial more than a decade ago, Asia McClain, his former classmate, has come forward with a potential alibi for Syed. Christina Gutierrez, Syed’s lawyer who has since died, did not bring in McClain for testimony. That’s one of the reasons Syed is claiming he had ineffective counsel in his original case. Chaudry has also said that evidence gathered from cell phone records, which “Serial” used to try to pinpoint Syed’s whereabouts on the day of the murder, is not reliable and should be reexamined.

    The podcast is funded by the Adnan Syed Trust, which is a legal defense fund established by friends of Syed to pay for his legal costs and efforts that aim to exonerate Syed. Chaudry said she hopes this continuation of Syed’s story will help keep the public interested in his case, since more scrutiny of his conviction might help lead to exoneration.

    Lee’s family never appeared on “Serial.” In November, a man claiming to be Lee’s brother blasted fans of the podcast for being insensitive to his family’s grief. “To me it’s real life,” he wrote.

    The Maryland Court of Special Appeals currently is considering a petition to allow Syed a new trial.

    The first episode deals the day of the murder. Chaudry, Miller and and Simpson examine testimony from witnesses and Syed, as well as other evidence, to try to determine exactly where Syed was on the day Lee was murdered. Listen to the full episode below:

    The post Adnan Syed’s case gets another look with launch of new podcast ‘Undisclosed’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Haidar al-Abadi - Masoud Barzani press conference in Erbil

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    GWEN IFILL: Over the last two days, U.S. warplanes conducted more than a dozen strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq. On the ground, Iraqi forces launched a counterattack against the group’s strongholds in Anbar province.

    While the fight rages, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi heads to Washington. He will meet with President Obama tomorrow to ask for weapons and an increase in air support.

    For the latest on all this, I spoke earlier today with NewsHour special correspondent Jane Arraf, who’s in Baghdad.

    Hi, Jane. Welcome.

    Haider al-Abadi is on his way to Washington. What is he coming here looking for?

    JANE ARRAF: Well, he’s essentially, Gwen, looking for more of pretty much everything, more airstrikes, more intelligence support, more weapons, and possibly some help with financing those weapons.

    It’s a rather long list. It’s his first trip to the U.S. as prime minister. He’s going to tell President Obama essentially that this isn’t just an Iraqi fight; it is a fight against the I.S. group for the entire world, and they need more help, particularly more heavy weapons and more ammunition, pretty much more of everything — Gwen.

    GWEN IFILL: Is there any way to quantify the success so far of these anti-ISIS airstrikes, not only in Tikrit, but now apparently in Anbar?

    JANE ARRAF: Well, they have done wonders certainly in places where ISIS had been deeply entrenched. In Anbar, it’s a very complicated dynamic.

    I mean, what we have seen in Tikrit essentially was Shia militias leading the fight, leading the Iraqi military. Now, that worked, to a certain extent, in Tikrit. It’s not going to work in Anbar, where tribal leaders in the majority Sunni province have made clear that there are limits as to what they will put up.

    Now, we spoke this evening with the governor of Anbar. And he said that they’re actually desperate for help. He said there really are no red lines that they will accept help, but essentially said there are militias, and then there are militias.

    Now, the militias, as you know, have been a part of this fight, an intrinsic part of the fight. And The Iraqi government turned to them when it said it didn’t have any choice. But it’s at a cost. And the cost is alleged human rights abuses. The cost is a deepening of the sectarian divide.

    So, essentially, the U.S. is wading into a very complicated conflict in Anbar. The airstrikes have helped so far, but they are wary of more airstrikes that could deepen that divide and wary of airstrikes that will launch without the proper intelligence support.

    GWEN IFILL: Are there any successes that the Iraqi government forces themselves can claim credit for, absent U.S. support?

    JANE ARRAF: That’s a really tricky one. Everything here is so interwoven.

    So there are some successes on the ground, primarily in terms of the counterterrorism forces, the special forces, those elite forces that the U.S. had a large role in training, that retain the training, unlike Iraqi military units that collapsed when the I.S. fighters, ISIS fighters, came in.

    But, basically, they can’t do it alone. They’re very thinly stretched and they took a lot of casualties in Tikrit. So, what this is, is a really interesting, complicated and troublesome coalition. It’s not just the U.S.-led coalition on that side. It is a coalition on the ground here, with more than 30 groups seemingly working together, but sometimes working at odds.

    Now, a lot of those are major Iranian-backed militias, but some of them are splinter groups. And some of them are fighting with each other. So it’s a very complicated dynamic, a potentially very dangerous dynamic going forward, as the Iraqi military, which can’t do it on its own, tries to push forward into Anbar and then eventually into Mosul.

    GWEN IFILL: Today, I gather the Iraqi government was trying — was boasting of the captives, the ISIS captives they have in custody.

    JANE ARRAF: Yes, they showed us 12 of them.

    Now, these were men who were in yellow-orange jumpsuits who were paraded in FlexiCuffs, those plastic handcuffs, blindfolded. They shuffled into a room. And then we were told that these were men who were captured in raids just south of — to the south and in some cases the west of Baghdad.

    Now, they also displayed bomb-making equipment, the Interior Ministry, but they said that these captives, accused ISIS members, had actually been found guilty and were waiting for sentencing. Now, being found guilty, they said, was the result of a long investigation, but the process is a secret one. What they really want to do in some respects is to show that they actually are taking prisoners, because having killed what they say amounts to thousands, several thousand fighters, they have come under criticism as well for violating the rules of war.

    Now, we know that the Islamic State group doesn’t play by the rules of any kind of war or any kind of rules at all. But, by the same token, the Iraqi government is expected to. So it wanted to show that actually it doesn’t just kill them; it takes them captive and puts them on trial. Of course, we have no way of knowing what these trials are like.

    GWEN IFILL: Jane Arraf, reporting for us from Baghdad, where the war never quite seems to end, thank you.

    JANE ARRAF: Thank you, Gwen.

    The post Iraqi PM to appeal to U.S. for more firepower and support against Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a Gates Foundation event in New York, March 9, 2015. Clinton, Gates Foundation Co-Chair Melinda Gates and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton are hosting global and community leaders for the release of the "No Ceilings Full Participation" report, pushing for equal opportunities for women and girls.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR4SMRA

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    GWEN IFILL: Now joining me for analysis this Politics Monday, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR, who is in Iowa tonight, waiting, waiting, waiting on Hillary Clinton.

    Tamara, let’s start by talking about Senator Clinton, Secretary Clinton, Mrs. Clinton. What is the goal for her rollout, this very interesting kind of Web-driven rollout?

    TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Well, first she did the Web video. She’s now on a van tour of America, making her way out.

    We would note that she is probably not driving. The Secret Service is most likely driving. She says she hasn’t driven since 1996. But what she’s trying to do is say, hey, I’m just like the rest of you. I’m relatable. I’m trying hard, I’m going to work for every single vote.

    Her campaign is aiming to go small at first, small events, intimate settings, no big arenas, no big, cheering rounds, but just sort of Hillary Clinton unplugged, at least initially, much like her listening tour in New York when she first ran for Senate there.

    GWEN IFILL: Amy, let’s talk about what you think she was trying to accomplish with this very — it wasn’t as warm and fuzzy as four years — as the 2008 video, but it was still very much — very little about her and a lot about other people.

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: And that’s exactly the point, was she wants to make sure and make very clear that she doesn’t see this as her legacy or her birthright or something that she’s going to get handed.

    Her campaign talks a lot about earning the vote, about how she’s going to work to meet people. It was telling that the first part of this video was all other people talking about her lives. We didn’t hear anything about Hillary Clinton’s life.

    Now, she is going to…

    GWEN IFILL: We know a lot about Hillary Clinton.

    AMY WALTER: We know a lot about Hillary Clinton’s life.

    And we’re going to hear a different perspective on her life. Her campaign likes to tell you she’s the most famous person that nobody really knows. I have a hard time believing that to be true, but they’re going to try to reimagine Hillary Clinton.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let’s talk about how the Republicans will imagine her. And we saw an explosion of Web responses this weekend, if you can call three or four an explosion.

    And one of them came from Rand Paul, the senator who announced last week that he is running for president. Let’s take a little — a little bit of that ad that he posted right after Hillary Clinton announced.

    NARRATOR: Hillary Clinton represents the worst of the Washington machine arrogance, the arrogance of power, corruption and cover-up, conflicts of interest and failed leadership with tragic consequences. The Washington machine is destroying the American treatment.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, Tamara, there’s the flip side of the argument about the new Hillary Clinton. And what Rand Paul is trying to say and what a lot of the Republicans have tried to say is, there’s an old Hillary Clinton we want to remind you about.

    TAMARA KEITH: Absolutely.

    And I think there are many American voters who have sort of a visceral reaction to Hillary Clinton that goes back to the ’90s. And what Rand Paul, what the RNC with ads, they’re doing, what they’re trying to remind everyone of is, you know, this is the — remember the old Hillary Clinton?  Remember the one maybe that you didn’t like as much?

    They’re trying to remind voters of that Hillary Clinton. And Rand Paul has promised he’s going to run against her. And he’s out of the gate running against her.

    GWEN IFILL: Go ahead.

    AMY WALTER: Well, I thought it was also interesting in the piece beforehand looking at Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz and some of the other Republican candidates. It’s clear what they want to make this race about too, which is foreign policy.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came into this election — comes into this election, actually, as the best prepared on foreign policy of anybody in the field.

    GWEN IFILL: Not a mention of it in that video.

    AMY WALTER: And she didn’t mention of — it at all.

    There’s something to be said about the fact that she also stands in the shadow of a president and his handling of foreign policy, which right now is, most Americans, a majority of Americans now say that they think he’s not doing a particularly good job. She also obviously has some of her own controversies as secretary of state.

    The economy, meanwhile, doing a little bit better, and she’s hoping to keep the focus on that.

    GWEN IFILL: As we sit here East Coast time, Marco Rubio, senator — freshman senator from Florida, is announcing he’s running for president. He told donors about it earlier today. He’s been saying, watch, watch what’s coming for several days now.

    Let’s hear a little bit of what he said just a few moments ago.

    SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Now, look, at the turn of the 19th century, a generation of Americans harnessed the power of the Industrial Age and they transformed this country into the leading economy in the world, and the 20th century became the American century.

    Well, now the time has come for our generation to lead the way towards a new American century.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    GWEN IFILL: Tamara, there were a lot of code words there, our generation, new, youth. He was clearly emphasizing how distinctly different he is from everybody else who is in the race so far.

    TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

    I mean, he’s not just talking about Hillary Clinton there. He’s also talking about Jeb Bush, his mentor, his political mentor. He’s not coming out and saying, no more boomer presidents, but that seems to be what he’s implying.

    His other message is really — that he’s — Marco Rubio is telling his story as an American story. And I have seen the remarks. Towards the — the prepared remarks. And towards the end, he says, you know, the son of a bartender and a maid could make it in America and he wants people to be able to live that American dream again.

    So he’s in some ways very similar to President Obama, making his personal story an American story and selling himself that way.

    GWEN IFILL: So, Amy, to the degree that Hillary does not want to make this biographical yet, that’s what Marco Rubio is really trading on at this point.

    AMY WALTER: Right. He’s young. He’s charismatic. He’s the parent of immigrants.

    GWEN IFILL: Child of.

    AMY WALTER: Child of. Sorry. Child of immigrants.

    He’s non-white. He’s a first-term senator. Does any of this sound familiar?

    AMY WALTER: And that’s going to, I think, be one of the challenges for Marco Rubio going forward within his own party and without, which is the sense of, boy, we tried that one time. We had a young, charismatic person come in talking about change. We don’t feel really good about where things are headed now. Do we want to take another chance on another young person?

    So, his challenge is going to be to show how different he is from Barack Obama, even though he shares a similar biography.

    GWEN IFILL: Tamara, I know you’re in Iowa tonight waiting for Hillary Clinton to arrive. She was spotted at a Chipotle in Ohio on her way in her van. Everyone’s waited with bated breath.

    But I wonder, have other Democrats been there already?  Is there other activity on the ground in Iowa beyond Hillary Clinton’s anticipated arrival?

    TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

    So, Virginia — former Virginia senator Jim Webb, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, they have both been here in recent days. They have been going to events.

    They have been well-received, though one activist here told me that they have been going to events that were already happening. They haven’t been throwing their own events. And they’re saying that a real test will be how many people show up when Martin O’Malley or Jim Webb has a stand-alone event.

    And so it’s not really clear how well they’re actually performing here, whether they’re getting any traction. And, obviously, Hillary Clinton coming to town is going to change the dynamic significantly.

    GWEN IFILL: Amy, how much of this getting out now, getting out front now — and we bring it up every week — is about money and trying to position yourself with the donors, who Marco Rubio called first, for instance, today?

    AMY WALTER: I think that was a very important point.

    And especially for the lesser-known candidates, it’s telling that it’s Ted Cruz and Rand Paul that have announced. It’s not Jeb Bush, who — he can take his — a little more time in announcing.

    But we’re also in an era where we find that individual fund-raising, while it’s still important, is not the end-all be-all that it used to be. The fact that even Ted Cruz now has a super PAC set up apart from his campaign that is pledging $31 million says that, you know, when you get into a race and how much money you are going to raise before the summer is not always going to be definitive — is not as definitive as it once was.

    GWEN IFILL: Who is up next?  We have got — once a week.

    AMY WALTER: I have also heard — we should.

    Who is going to be next?  I don’t know. Ben Carson, I think, is also going to be coming up soon enough in Detroit, I think, in early May. But we will probably hear a couple others before…

    GWEN IFILL: We will talk about it all next week on Politics Monday.

    Hey, Tamara, if I were you, I would go to a coffee shop, a Chipotle or a diner tonight if you’re looking for Senator Clinton.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: Thanks a lot.

    TAMARA KEITH: Gas stations. I’m headed…

    GWEN IFILL: Gas stations. Thank you.

    You can follow the 2016 race with us online, where you will find guides to each of the candidates as they enter the fray. That’s on our home page, PBS.org/NewsHour.

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    hillarytweet

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    GWEN IFILL: Every week, a new face arrives on the 2016 presidential scene. Tonight, it’s Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

    Yesterday, it was, to no one’s surprise, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Tonight, she’s scheduled to arrive in Iowa.

    NewsHour political editor Lisa Desjardins kicks off Politics Monday with a look at the accelerated race.

    HILLARY CLINTON, 2016 presidential candidate: I’m hitting the road to earn your vote, because it’s your time. And I hope you will join me on this journey.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Hillary Clinton, arguably the nation’s most famous woman, is on a journey of reintroduction, tweeting pictures en route to Iowa, after a quarter century in the public eye, as a candidate’s wife, a policy-driven first lady, a U.S. senator, a presidential candidate, and a globe-trotting secretary of state

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: I’m back!

    LISA DESJARDINS: She is running for president again, hoping to clear the Democratic field by shifting the focus from her history to the voters.

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: I’m getting ready to do something too. I’m running for president. Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times.

    LISA DESJARDINS: This time, Clinton, 67, hopes voters will see Hillary the grandmother and potential glass-ceiling breaker. Sunday’s announcement video highlighted young people, a gay couple, two Latino brothers and, most of all, women.

    At the same time, Republicans lining up to run hope to make the campaign about Clinton herself, especially about her controversies.

    JEB BUSH, (R) Former Florida Governor: We must do better than the Obama/Clinton foreign policy that has damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened our enemies.

    CARLY FIORINA, Former Hewlett-Packard CEO: She doesn’t have a track record of leadership or trustworthiness. She’s not the woman for the White House.

    SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) Texas: Hillary Clinton represents the failed policies of the past. Does America want a third Obama term, or are we ready for strong conservative leadership to make America great again?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Today, yet another Republican critic joined the race, freshman Senator Marco Rubio.

    He sat down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos hours before his announcement.

    SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) Florida: This country is at a generational moment where it needs to decide not what party it wants in charge, but what kind of country are we going to want to be.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Rubio, a 43-year-old Cuban-American who served as speaker of the Florida House before coming to Washington in 2012 is positioning himself to outpace another likely major candidate from the Sunshine State, former Governor Jeb Bush. Rubio would be the youngest candidate in the race so far. But his most famous moment on the national stage came when he delivered the 2013 Republican response to the State of the Union address.

    SEN. MARCO RUBIO: On foreign policy, America continues to be indispensable to the goal of global liberty, property and safeguarding human rights. The world is a better place when America is the strongest nation on Earth.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Rubio becomes the third Republican to announce his candidacy. He joins two other senators, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky. Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker are expected to jump in shortly.

    While the Republicans compete to position themselves as the antidote to the incumbent president, Clinton is tied to the man who defeated her in 2008.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I think she would make an excellent president.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Whether the president’s endorsement helps or hurts may prove a key question in the race.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Lisa Desjardins in Washington.

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    GWEN IFILL: The White House stepped up efforts today to win over Congress on the Iran nuclear deal, as lawmakers returned from their holiday recess.

    Secretary of State John Kerry briefed House members this afternoon, and plans to brief senators tomorrow. He’s trying to head off a bill that could bar President Obama from lifting some of the U.S. sanctions on Iran.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:
    We hope Congress will listen carefully and ask the question that it wants, but also give us the space and the time to be able to complete a very difficult task which has high stakes for our country, involves major national security, major issues of potential conflict vs. peaceful resolution.

    GWEN IFILL: Meanwhile, Russia announced it’s clearing the way to send missile defense systems to Iran. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the framework nuclear agreement means there’s no reason to withhold the weapons.

    Fighting in Ukraine between government troops and Russian-backed rebels is escalating again, after more than a month of relative peace. European observers report new violence around the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, including nearly 1,200 explosions on Sunday alone. More than 6,000 people have died since the clashes first broke out there more than a year ago.

    The Italian coast guard rescued 144 migrants off Libya today. They’re the latest in a new surge of people trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Many of the rescued were taken to Sicily. Officials say they were on dozens of rickety boats that sailed from North Africa in recent weeks, as weather conditions improved.

    In Barcelona today, the European Union’s foreign policy chief expressed concern.

    FEDERICA MOGHERINI, Foreign Policy Chief, European Union: The official numbers of the people rescued at sea over the weekend by the — in this case, the Italian authorities, were 5,600 people over the weekend. And this tells us of an emergency that we have to tackle together for the sake of saving lives.

    GWEN IFILL: Italian officials estimate more than 170,000 migrants from Africa and the Middle East reached Italy by sea last year. Another 3,500 drowned making the attempt.

    In Nigeria, the number of child refugees doubled in the past year to nearly 800,000. The United Nation’s Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says they have been forced from their homes by Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group. The report says children have been sexually abused, forced to marry militants, and even turned into human bombs.

    Back in this country, a white reserve sheriff’s deputy in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with charged with manslaughter today in the killing of a black suspect. On video of the April 2 incident, Robert Bates says he meant to pull his stun gun, not his revolver. Lawyers for the victim, Eric Harris, said today they don’t believe that.

    DANIEL SMOLEN, Lawyer for victim’s family: The spin on Mr. Bates getting confused at the last second, before he pulls his Taser as opposed to his pistol, or vice versa, his pistol as opposed to his Taser, is false.

    You will see Mr. Bates that has a yellow Taser strapped to his chest. He has a .357 revolver in his right hand standing over Eric Harris when shoots him in the back.

    GWEN IFILL: And in South Carolina, state authorities released audio of the white policeman who allegedly shot a black man in the back in North Charleston, killing him. It comes from the camera in police officer Michael Slager’s cruiser.

    He’s heard saying: “I don’t understand why he took off like that. I don’t understand why he’d run.”

    Slager is now charged with murder.

    Four former Blackwater security guards were sentenced today for killing 14 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007. One was given life in prison. The others got 30 years each. The four guarded State Department officials in Baghdad and said they opened fire after being shot at. Prosecutors called it an unprovoked ambush.

    On Wall Street, stocks drifted lower to start the week. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 80 points to close below 18000. The Nasdaq fell seven points and the S&P 500 slipped nine.

    And the Nobel Prize-winning German novelist Gunter Grass died today. He challenged Germans to face their Nazi past, but later had to admit his own.

    Jon Snow of Independent Television News has this report on his life and work.

    JON SNOW:
    One of the most venerated, but controversial literary figures, Gunter Grass, in his work and in his life, always chose to take a stand on moral, political and social issues.

    For many, he gave a voice to the generation that came of age in Nazi Germany, driving them to confront the horrors of their history. His first novel was “The Tin Drum.”  It’s partly based on his own beginnings. He grew up in the Free City of Danzig, now Gdansk. It is a story that takes place in the first half of the 20th century, under the rise of the Nazis, through the life of a boy who refuses to grow up.

    Critics applauded Grass’ magical realist style. And 40 years later, it won him the Nobel Prize for literature, hailed as one of the enduring works of the 20th century. He was praised for embracing the victims, losers and lies that people wanted to forget because they had once believed in them.

    FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, Foreign Minister, Germany (through interpreter):
    Although a younger generation might have known Gunter Grass as one who warned and admonished, I know and my generation knows that he was a kind of a father figure for Germans growing up. He was a father figure who rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, especially those who after 1945 wanted to get the past behind them as quickly as possible.

    JON SNOW: He was a seasoned left-wing campaigner, speechwriter for Chancellor Willy Brandt in the early ’70s. But in 2006, he shocked the world when, in his memoir, he admitted that at the very end of the war he had himself been a member of the elite Waffen-SS. He was accused of hypocrisy and moral suicide, but defended the fact that it had taken him 60 years to make his revelation.

    GUNTER GRASS (through interpreter): I have only now been able to reveal it. And whoever wants to judge me may judge me.

    JON SNOW: He continued to both cause offense and win support. In 2012, a poem he wrote branded Israel a threat to the world, earning him a ban on traveling there.

    The author Salman Rushdie, here at Grass’ 70th birthday celebration, said today on Twitter that he was a true giant, inspiration and friend. Germany’s Culture Council described him as more than a writer, a seismograph for society.

    GWEN IFILL: Gunter Grass was 87 years old.

    The post News Wrap: Kerry briefs Congress on nuclear deal framework to stave off Iran bill appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    High school seniors have received their college admission decisions. Now what? Photo by Design Pics via Getty Images.

    Photo by Design Pics via Getty Images.

    Editor’s Note: It’s that time of year again. High school seniors have received their college admissions decisions, and now the ball is in their court. Most colleges require a decision by May 1.

    Besides having to weigh the pros and cons of one campus versus another, some seniors may have been caught up in the debate over college itself: Is it worth it? There’s plenty of contradictory advice out there. The Urban Institute’s Robert Lerman thinks many American youth are better off not going to college. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel encourages students to drop out of school to pursue their own innovations. Entrepreneur and academic Vivek Wadhwa has responded on this page, multiple times, in fact, arguing that entrepreneurs do benefit from a college degree and that college education is not a bubble; it still has value. That’s a conclusion echoed in a recent report from Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, which dove into which majors are worth your time and money.

    Here to help high school seniors (and parents) process this debate and make their own decisions are MIT professor emeritus Frank Levy, currently a lecturer at Harvard Medical School, the University of Minnesota’s Alan Benson and management consultant Raimundo Esteva. They agree that embarking on a four-year bachelor’s degree next fall is a good investment for most students, but there are exceptions, as well as things you need to know to get the most bang for your buck.

    Simone Pathe


    Dear High School Senior,

    You have finished a long march: completing your coursework, cramming for the SATs or ACTs, visiting campuses and writing application essays. Your work has paid off and you’re looking over a menu of shiny college brochures inviting you to the Class of 2019. You can now ask yourself: which college should I choose? Or should I go to a four-year college at all?

    The second question is not a joke. You face many paths: many colleges, many college majors, many financing options, and many potential outcomes. You could be at the beginning of a promising career. Or you could find yourself saddled with enormous student loan debt and little interest from potential employers.

    Proponents will tell you that college is an automatic ticket to the middle class and that the average pay gap between a bachelor’s degree-holder and high school graduate has never been higher. They paint too rosy a picture. You should see college as a stepping-stone: an investment that, if managed properly, can help you get a middle class job. In terms of financial commitment and time, it will be one of the largest investments you make in your lifetime. The good news is that unlike investing in the stock market, the investment returns to your college education are largely under your control.

    Here are six rules to help you get the most from your college decision:

    1. College is a better investment if you graduate. Even at today’s high tuitions, multiple economic studies have shown that college remains a good investment for the average student. All these studies have a catch. They estimate benefits based on the earnings of persons who have earned a bachelor’s degree while they ignore the lower earnings of persons who drop out of college before getting a degree
    2. College is a better investment if you graduate on time. These same economic studies usually adopt the assumption that students will graduate in four years. This assumption is optimistic. According to a report by Complete College America, on-time graduation rates for public university bachelor’s degrees are 36 percent at flagship state universities and only 19 percent at non-flagship state universities. Government data show that graduation rates are 59.9 percent at private non-profit universities and 18.2 percent at for-profit universities, with more-selective schools having much higher graduation rates. Delaying graduation isn’t only expensive in terms of tuition costs. It is also expensive in terms of foregone earnings and valuable job experience.

      Be proactive by checking the college graduation rates in the Department of Education’s College Scorecard. You will see that at many colleges, a significant fraction of freshmen fail to graduate in six years. Other data indicate many of these students fail to graduate at all.

      A low six-year graduation rate is a sign of an institution’s problems: too few sections of required courses, a shortage of tutoring help for difficult subjects, or tuition that is too high to sustain for four or more years. If a college’s problems affect a significant fraction of its students, there is a good chance the problems will affect you too. Before choosing any college, it is important to go to the College Scorecard to see how your potential choice stacks up.

    3. Your major matters. A lot. You’ll often hear educational advocates emphasize the importance of earning a degree, as if a bachelor’s degree—any bachelor’s degree—is the key to financial security. However, not all bachelor’s degrees are equally valuable, and earnings differences among majors can be larger than earnings differences among colleges.

      Choosing a major involves more than money: If you don’t find a subject interesting, majoring in it could make you miserable and could be a poor investment if you drop out or pursue an unrelated career. Nonetheless, you should know what your major will be worth to employers when you graduate.

      A good place to start is What’s It Worth? a publication of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. This report gives earnings for a detailed list of undergraduate majors, the fraction of students in a major who continue to graduate school and other useful information. Combine the earnings data with your own interests to draw up a list of majors you might want to pursue. Before choosing a college, be sure it offers at least several of the majors that are on your list.

      Once enrolled in college, you can start to learn about potential majors in more detail by browsing the syllabi of courses in the major and having conversations with faculty and students in the major. Upperclassmen are particularly helpful in identifying good teachers, warning you about bottleneck courses with limited enrollments and other important information that is rarely written down. If a department (or the college) has a career office, talk with them to learn about the placements of recent graduates in the major.

    4. Consider two-year associates degree programs and 2+2 programs. Junior colleges offer students the flexibility to commute from home, maintain part-time jobs, fulfill core coursework, and save on tuition expenses. Moreover, many junior colleges have transfer agreements with excellent four-year universities, which allow their students to ease the transition to college, save lots of money, and ultimately earn the same credential.
    5. Know your financial aid options. Financial aid comes in many varieties and is available from a variety of sources. You can continue to apply for financial aid while you’re a student. Check with your financial aid office, particularly if you experience any hardship that might cause you to drop out.

      Considering a career in public service? Under the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) program, federal loan repayments can be capped depending on your income and family circumstances. If you keep up with minimum monthly payments for your federal loans for 25 years (10 if you enter public service), your remaining federal loans may be forgiven entirely. Many private lenders also offer caps on monthly payments under Income Sensitive Repayment programs. FinAid.org has a wealth of information on loans and scholarships.

    6. Keep track of your finances. A recent report by the Brookings Institution found that about half of all first-year students in the U.S. seriously underestimate how much student debt they have. Understanding your debt is the first step to producing a plan to pay it off.

      Unlike other forms of debt, it is very difficult to erase student loan debt through bankruptcy. If you’re in severe financial distress, you should generally prioritize paying back educational loans before other loans with similar interest rates. Plan on understanding your loans, setting a budget, and living within your means.

    For the average high school senior, beginning a bachelor’s degree program will be a good investment. But don’t count on an average return: college is an investment that must be properly managed. You should use your college acceptances to manage your investment wisely.

    The post 6 rules to help you make the best college decision appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Edward Snowden speaks to The Guardian newspaper. Handout photo from The Guardian

    A bust of Edward Snowden was recently covered after being placed on a war monument. Handout photo from The Guardian.

    NEW YORK (AP) — The mysterious artists who planted a bust of Edward Snowden on a Revolutionary War monument now want to free their sculpture from police custody and display it again, saying it was intended as a thought-provoking “gift to the city.”

    The artists are applying for permission to show parkgoers their likeness of the former National Security Agency secret-leaker, their lawyer, Ronald Kuby, told police in a letter Tuesday. In the meantime, a Manhattan gallery wants to show the sculpture next month.

    “We feel the piece would offer a great deal of good” and reflect the city’s history as a home for free thinkers if exhibited through a temporary art-in-parks program, the artists — who have kept their identity secret — said in a statement Tuesday.

    Police said they’re holding the sculpture while investigating its unauthorized, dark-of-night appearance April 6 in Fort Greene Park; it was removed within hours. Deputy Chief Kim Royster wouldn’t comment on the status of the probe but noted that police may return confiscated property after investigations conclude.

    The 4-foot-high, 100-pound, fiberglass-reinforced cement bust of Snowden, who is living in exile in Russia after divulging secret U.S. government collection of phone records, turned up on a monument that honors American captives who died on British prison ships during the Revolutionary War. The three artists say they considered the bust “a gift to the city” that could spur discussion about American ideals, values and heroes.

    Parks officials and police didn’t see it that way.

    “The object was erected in the park without permission or authority,” Royster said in an email.

    The city Parks Department didn’t respond to a request for comment on the artists’ bid for permission to display the sculpture in future.

    Parks activist Geoffrey Croft feels the bust deserves a place in the city’s public space, regardless how viewers may feel about Snowden.

    “New York City has a long, storied history of art and dissention,” said Croft, who heads NYC Parks Advocates, a nonprofit group.

    After all, the “Charging Bull” statue that has now become a symbol of Wall Street was an artist’s surprise, deposited overnight outside the New York Stock Exchange in 1989. City officials ultimately accepted it and installed it nearby.

    For now, downtown Manhattan gallery Postmasters hopes to show the Snowden bust next month.

    “It’s a very interesting effort and gesture,” both in its subject and its unauthorized unveiling, said co-founder Magdalena Sawon.

    She doesn’t know who the artists are, she said.

    The post Artists ask NYPD to return Edward Snowden bust put in park appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user Thomas Favre-Bulle

    Photo by Flickr user Thomas Favre-Bulle

    PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs programs across the country have been investigating the changing definition of school safety as part of their series, “The New Safe.” Student journalists have reported on everything from how factors such as architecture and social media can impact school safety to how students should respond when their classmates make threats to the healing process in communities where a school attack has occurred. You can view the full series here.

    We have asked some of the students, teachers and school administrators involved in “The New Safe” series to join us as we continue the discussion of school safety on Twitter. Student journalist Nick Weiss (@nickwoose), who was the lead filmmaker for the Student Reporting Labs segment, “The Whistleblower,” will join the conversation, along with his principal at Cedar Crest High School, Nicole Malinoski. Broadcast journalism teacher Heather Jancoski, who wrote a blog for NewsHour about her experience with school lockdown drills, will also join in, along with her students, who help produce their school’s news broadcast (@jaguarbroadcast). Use #NewsHourChats to share your own stories and opinions this Thursday, April 16, from 1-2 p.m. EDT.

    The post Twitter chat: What does school safety mean to you? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Painting of the death of President Abraham Lincoln, circa 1865. Photo by Fotosearch/Getty Images

    Painting of the death of President Abraham Lincoln, circa 1865. Photo by Fotosearch/Getty Images

    President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination is one of the saddest events in American history. Yet on the morning of April 14, 1865, the President awoke in an uncommonly good mood. One day less than a week before, on Palm Sunday, April 9, Robert E. Lee, the commander of what remained of the Confederate States’ Army, surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, the commanding General of the Union. The truce reached at the Appomattox, Virginia, Court House signaled the end of the nation’s most destructive chapter, the Civil War.

    To celebrate, Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln decided to attend the hit farce comedy “Our American Cousin,” which was playing at Ford’s Theatre. The Lincolns invited Gen. Grant and his wife to attend the play with them. At a cabinet meeting later that morning, however, Gen. Grant informed President Lincoln that they would not be able to join the first couple and, instead, would be visiting their children in New Jersey.

    Even more ominous, the ornery Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, pleaded with the President not to go out that evening for fear of a potential assassination. Stanton was hardly the only presidential advisor against the outing. Mrs. Lincoln almost begged off, complaining of one of her all too frequent headaches. And even President Lincoln moaned about feeling exhausted as a result of his heavy presidential duties. Nevertheless, he insisted that an evening of comedy was just the tonic he and his wife required. Mr. Lincoln, confident that his bodyguards would protect him from any potential harm, shrugged off the warnings and invited Maj. Henry Rathbone and his finance, Clara Harris, to join them for a night at the theater.

    Lithograph of the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln. From left to right: Henry Rathbone, Clara Harris, Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln, and John Wilkes Booth. Rathbone is depicted as spotting Booth before he shot Lincoln and trying to stop him as Booth fired his weapon. Rathbone actually was unaware of Booth’s approach, and reacted after the shot was fired. While Lincoln is depicted clutching the flag after being shot, it is also possible that he just simply pushed the flag aside to watch the performance. From the Library of Congress

    Lithograph of the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln. From left to right: Henry Rathbone, Clara Harris, Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln, and John Wilkes Booth. Rathbone is depicted as spotting Booth before he shot Lincoln and trying to stop him as Booth fired his weapon. From the Library of Congress

    Lincoln’s main bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon did not attend the play and, instead, John Parker, a police guard well known for his love of whisky, protected the president. Parker left his post outside the presidential box during intermission to satisfy an alcoholic craving at the nearby Star Saloon.

    The Derringer pistol used by John Wilkes Booth to shoot Abraham Lincoln. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

    The Derringer pistol used by John Wilkes Booth to shoot Abraham Lincoln. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

    During the third act, as the Lincolns laughed and held hands, a man barged into the unguarded box. The intruder, of course, was the actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth. The assassin discharged his Derringer pistol into the back of Lincoln’s head. Major Rathbone tried to tackle Booth down but the assassin overpowered him by slashing his arm with a dagger. Historians, as they are wont to do, bicker over whether Booth yelled “Sic Semper Tyrannis!” (“Thus always to tyrants!”) before or shortly after he shot the president (Aside from the controversy over the timing of Booth’s exclamation, some have claimed he said “The South is Avenged!”, “Revenge for the South!” or even “I have done it!”) We do know that Booth jumped from the box to the stage, caught his spur in the curtain, and may have broken his left shin (another source of contention among historians). He somehow managed to limp away and exit through the stage door, thus initiating one of the most intense manhunts in American history.

    When it comes to medical history, however, it is not Booth’s injured limb that captures our imagination. Instead, it is the hours of agony the wounded president endured before finally succumbing early on the morning on April 15.

    As members of the audience cried out that the president had been murdered and shouted pleas to catch and kill the escaping culprit, the first doctor to attend Lincoln was a 23-year-old Army captain named Charles A. Leale. He had just received his medical degree six weeks earlier, on March 1, from the Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York, widely regarded as one of the best in the nation. Leale was in the audience that evening after he learned that Lincoln, who he greatly admired, would be at Ford’s Theatre.

    Ford's Theatre, with guards posted at the entrance and crepe draped from windows, circa 1865. Photo by Buyenlarge/Getty Images

    Ford’s Theatre, with guards posted at the entrance and crepe draped from windows, circa 1865. Photo by Buyenlarge/Getty Images

    Dr. Leale immediately discerned, by sense of touch along the bloody wound, that the bullet had entered the president’s head just behind his left ear and tore its way through the left side of his brain. Sending out for some brandy and water, Dr. Leale recalled, “When I reached the president he was in a state of general paralysis, his eyes were closed and he was in a profoundly comatose condition, while his breathing was intermittent and exceedingly stertorous (i.e., noisy and laborious). I placed my finger on his right radial pulse but could perceive no movement of the artery.”

    While examining Lincoln’s head, Leale’s fingers passed over a “large firm clot of blood situated about one inch below the superior curved line of the occipital bone” (at the rear base of the skull). The young physician removed the clot, wiggled his little finger into the hole made by the “ball” (the name for the round bullets then in use in the 1860s), and found that it had made its way into the brain. This maneuver may seem shocking to a 21st century observer but in the days before doctors knew anything about microbiology, let alone sterile surgical technique, it was a common practice for examining gunshot wounds. Dr. Leale quickly determined that this was a mortal wound.

    After a few minutes, Lincoln’s breathing seemed to rally a bit and Dr. Leale was able to get a bit of the brandy and water down the president’s mouth. By this time, two other doctors, C.F. Taft and A.F.A. King arrived to the scene and the three of them decided to move the moribund president across the street to William and Anna Petersen’s boarding house, at 453 10th St. (now 516 10th St.) There, he was taken upstairs to rest in the room of a Union soldier named William T. Clark, who was out for the evening.

    The macabre details of Lincoln’s last hours became far clearer in 2012 when Helena Iles Papaioannou, a research assistant working on the Papers of Abraham Lincoln Project, was searching through the “Letters Received” ledgers of the Office of the Surgeon General, which are deposited at the U.S. National Archives. It was in these files, under the letter “L,” that she found a 22-page report Dr. Leale wrote only a few hours after President Lincoln died. In fact, there are seven extant accounts by Leale, five dating from 1865, one from 1867, and another from 1909. Each version is similar, albeit each contains some variations and slight differences of terminology and tone. Yet many Lincoln scholars have deemed the Papaioannou document to be the most reliable version because it was written so closely after the actual events.

    The room in which President Abraham Lincoln died, in the Petersen House in Washington, D.C., just across the street from Ford's Theatre, circa 1960. The bed is a replica; the actual deathbed was acquired by the Chicago History Museum in 1920. Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images

    The room in which President Abraham Lincoln died, in the Petersen House in Washington, D.C., just across the street from Ford’s Theatre, circa 1960. The bed is a replica; the actual deathbed was acquired by the Chicago History Museum in 1920. Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images

    Given President Lincoln’s legendary height, he was placed on the bed in a diagonal position with “a part of the foot (of the bed) removed to enable us to place him in a comfortable position.” The windows of the room were opened and, with the exception of the physicians attending the president, his wife and son Robert, and several of President’s Lincoln’s closest advisors, the tiny room was cleared. The surgeons attempted to probe the wound by introducing surgical instruments (and their unwashed hands) into the bullet hole with the hope of extracting the lead ball and dislodged pieces of bone. Surgery of the brain being an all but non-existent medical specialty at this point in history, the doctors’ only hope was that by keeping the wound open, the blood might flow more freely and not further compress the brain, causing even more injury. Sadly, their efforts were to no avail, and as the morning hours proceeded, Lincoln’s course only went downhill.

    Part of a 22-page report 23-year-old Army captain named Charles A. Leale wrote a few hours after President Lincoln died. From: the Office of the Surgeon General (War), 1775-1959, Entry 12, Letters Received, 1818-1889, National Archives Building, Washington, DC

    Dr. Leale wrote: At 7:20 a.m. he breathed his last and “the spirit fled to God who gave it.” Photo from National Archives

    At 6:40 a.m., Dr. Leale wrote, “his pulse could not be counted, it being very intermittent, two or three pulsations being felt and followed by an intermission, when not the slightest movement of the artery could be felt. The inspirations now became very short, and the expirations very prolonged and labored accompanied by a guttural sound.”

    At 6:50 a.m., Dr. Leale again recorded what he observed: “The respirations cease for some time and all eagerly look at their watches until the profound silence is disturbed by a prolonged inspiration, which was soon followed by a sonorous expiration. The Surgeon General (Joseph K. Barnes) now held his finger to the carotid artery, Col. (Charles) Crane held his head, Dr. (Robert) Stone (the Lincoln’s family physician) who was sitting on the bed, held his left pulse, and his right pulse was held by myself.

    “At 7:20 a.m.,” he wrote, “he breathed his last and (here, Leale paraphrases Ecclesiastes 12:7) ‘the spirit fled to God who gave it.’” (Most historians give the time of death at 7:22 a.m.)

    More famously, Secretary of War Stanton saluted the fallen president and famously uttered, “Now, he belongs to the ages.” (Some have argued that Stanton said “Now, he belongs to the angels.”) Stanton further eulogized President Lincoln with the apt observation, “There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen.”

    In a strange way, the events of April 14 and 15 represented the incarnation of Lincoln’s worst nightmare. Just three days before his death, Abraham Lincoln told bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon that he had a dream about a funeral that took place in the East Room of the White House. In the dream he asked a soldier posted near the casket, “Who is dead?” The soldier replied, “The President, killed by an assassin!” The President also noted, “Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since.”

    Dr. Leale went on to a distinguished career as a physician, after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army in 1866 as “brevet captain.” He travelled to Europe and studied cholera during the great cholera pandemic of 1866. He married in 1867, fathered six children, successfully practiced medicine and worked on a number of charitable causes in New York City until his retirement in 1928 at the age of 86. But his greatest medical adventure occurred a mere few weeks after receiving his medical degree. That was the night and day, 150 years ago, when Dr. Leale took care of the 16th President of the United States, who drew his final breath early on the morning of April 15, 1865, because of the deranged act of a mad assassin.


    Dr. Howard Markel writes a monthly column for the PBS NewsHour, highlighting the anniversary of a momentous event that continues to shape modern medicine. He is the director of the Center for the History of Medicineand the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan.

    He is the author or editor of 10 books, including “Quarantine! East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892,” “When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America Since 1900 and the Fears They Have Unleashed” and “An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine.”

    The post April 14-15, 1865: The tragic last hours of Abraham Lincoln appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s visit to the U.S. came as the battle against the Islamic State appears to be making some headway.

    But many Iraqi-Americans are still wary of the chaos that’s unfolded in the last year at the hands of the extremists.

    We recently spoke with three Iraqis living in the Washington area about their fears for their homeland and their hopes for its future, as they watch the fight from afar.

    ZEENA RAHMAN: When ISIS came along, I remember the morning. I was walking to work and I got a text on my phone from my friend. All it said was, “We lost Mosul to ISIS.”

    It literally felt like the whole world stopped.

    TAIF AMER: My country will never get back to the country that I used to know before.

    AHMAD DOSKY: They are at war with my people, my country’s Kurdish people.

    TAIF AMER: I started thinking about my daughter. I said, I don’t want my family or my daughter to see that.

    ZEENA RAHMAN: No one is going home. I know I’m never going to move back home. And even saying it, it just — it kills me.

    TAIF AMER: In March 2012, I got shot two times by really bad people in my neighborhood. Even the people in my family, they were shot, they say, why they did this? But this is — this is the situation of Baghdad.

    If somebody just dislikes you for a simple, silly thing, he can kill you for this with no problem.

    ZEENA RAHMAN: When the ISIS thing happened and we lost Mosul, and I felt that falling sensation that the world is coming to an end, at least I know I still care.

    AHMAD DOSKY: Since those criminal ISIS, the one now who is killing and torturing people by the name of Islamic religion, which I am Muslim, and I do practice, but I have not heard or seen any Islamic things like this.

    ZEENA RAHMAN: I’m not the only person who cares about Iraq and who has the tools to make it better.

    One of the really amazing things is how quickly people adapt. Their resilience is really mind-boggling. And if you think about, if you could channel that into reconstruction, into rebuilding the country, I mean, you could have one of the greatest countries in the world.

    AHMAD DOSKY: My sincere hope for Iraq as a country, to live at peace, to get rid of those criminals, ISIS, get them out of the country. For the central government to be truly a democratic country, let the people express whatever they feel. Let everybody feel deep down in their heart the sense that they do belong to Iraq.

    The post Iraqi-Americans witness violence in their homeland from afar appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    universe

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Scientists have announced the creation of the largest map yet of the invisible material that helps make up the universe, what’s known as dark matter.

    Jeffrey Brown explores some of the very cosmic questions around this story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: That’s worth saying again: We can’t see it, but we can apparently map it. What’s called dark matter is, in fact, everywhere, and it’s believed to play a crucial role in forming and holding together galaxies with its gravitational pull.

    In findings announced Monday, researchers used a dark energy camera and a large telescope in Northern Chile to create this color-coded map, showing a small piece of the visible sky. Orange and red areas represent denser concentrations of dark matter. Blue areas are less dense.

    And Sean Carroll joins us now to tell us about it. He’s a cosmologist and theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology.

    Thanks so much for joining us and helping us here.

    Can we start with a basic question?  What is dark matter?

    SEAN CARROLL, California Institute of Technology: Sure.

    Dark matter is some kind of particle. It’s just some — like — just like ordinary matter. You and I are made of atoms. There’s some other kind of particle, not anything we find in atoms, not anything we have ever found here on Earth. It’s dark, it’s invisible, but it’s most of the matter in the universe.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, how do we know it exists?

    SEAN CARROLL: Well, because of gravity. Gravity is universal. Everything that exists creates gravity and is affected by gravity.

    So the dark matter, which is most of the matter in the universe, creates a lot of gravity, and then it pushes around the things in the universe, including light from distant galaxies as they pass by the dark matter concentrations.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And I referred to it as somehow holding together galaxies. That’s through its gravitational pull?

    SEAN CARROLL: Well, that’s right.

    Even without dark matter, the galaxies would still be held together, but they would be moving much more slowly. A stronger gravitational field together by the dark matter is what dominates the gravity inside the galaxy and sort of sets it spinning with the speed that it has.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right. We’re talking here about the latest thing, which is mapping this stuff that we can’t see. Sounds strange. How do you map it?  What are they actually looking at?

    SEAN CARROLL: Well, what they’re looking at is actually the part that we can see.

    You can see the light from galaxies that fill the universe. Our universe has over 100 billion galaxies. And so this new image has looked at about two million of those galaxies. And they have looked for slight distortions in the images caused by the fact that the light from those galaxies passed through more or less dark matter on its way to us.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And that’s done through this — describe — the camera that I was referring to, a dark — dark energy matter — dark energy camera — excuse me — right?

    SEAN CARROLL: It’s confusingly called the dark energy camera.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    SEAN CARROLL: It’s not made of dark energy.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s not the first — perhaps the first confusion here, but let’s stay with that one.

    (LAUGHTER)

    SEAN CARROLL: It’s one of the confusions that we can clear up.

    JEFFREY BROWN: OK.

    SEAN CARROLL: There is this thing called dark energy. It’s not matter, as you might guess.

    Dark matter, like we said, is actually kind of understandable. It’s just some particle that we can’t see that’s invisible, but nevertheless gives rise to gravity. Dark energy is something that isn’t even a particle. It’s something that’s intrinsic to space itself. It’s some field of energy that’s smoothly distributed throughout the universe and is pushing it apart.

    So, the dark energy camera, its whole design purpose is to measure properties of the dark energy. But, as a bonus, along the way, we get an unprecedentedly good map of where the dark matter is.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I like how you took us from the really understandable stuff to the completely, completely obscure stuff, right?

    SEAN CARROLL: That’s my job description. That’s my expertise right there.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. I appreciate that.

    All right, why is this important?  I mean, why should the rest of us care about this?

    SEAN CARROLL: Well, you know, the 1990s will go down in human history as the decade in which we figured out the inventory of the stuff from which the universe is made, 70 percent dark energy, 25 percent dark matter.

    Only 5 percent of the universe, by mass, is the ordinary stuff out of which you and I are made. So, if you care about understanding the universe, 95 percent of it is dark matter and dark energy. If you want to know how the universe works, you have to understand that stuff.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And in terms of what’s next, I know this map was just a very small — it’s huge. It covers a lot of ground, a lot of space, but still very small.

    SEAN CARROLL: Well, what we’re trying to do is to figure out more about the physics of the dark matter.

    It’s very annoying to us, as scientists, because we know it’s there. We know how much of it is there. We know where it is. But we don’t know what it is. We don’t know what is actually making up the dark matter. So the more we can study its properties, how it collects, how it evolves over time, the more of a hope we get to understand what it is made out of and why there is dark matter at all.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right. Sean Carroll, thank you so much.

    SEAN CARROLL: Sure. My pleasure.

    The post Mapping dark matter may help solve a cosmic mystery appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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