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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 Ron Levine /The Image Bank via Getty Images.

    Photo by Ron Levine /The Image Bank via Getty Images.

    Editor’s Note: Women are just as capable of performing in STEM fields as men. But that doesn’t mean women should be ashamed of pursuing careers in other fields, argues Denise Cummins, a research psychologist, author, and blogger for Psychology Today. Cummins’ most recent book is “Good Thinking.” She’s previously written for Making Sen$e about tenure and adjuncts.

    Simone Pathe, Making Sen$e Editor


    There are two universally accepted “truths” about women and STEM careers (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The first is that men outnumber women in in these fields, and the second is that women are socialized to avoid STEM as career choices, because society considers them “unfeminine.”

    These beliefs have spawned a national effort on the part of the National Science Foundation to attract girls and young women into STEM. The preferred strategy is to attract females by “unbrainwashing them” into accepting STEM careers as appropriate for women.

    On closer inspection, it turns out that these “truths” are nothing more than assumptions, and that these assumptions are inconsistent with the facts. Here are the facts:

    1. Men do not outnumber women in all STEM fields

    Gender equity in STEM means that females account for 50 percent of the individuals involved in STEM fields. When we look at the percentage of STEM bachelor’s degrees awarded to female students for the last two decades, based on NSF statistics, we find that there is no gender difference in the biosciences, the social sciences, or mathematics, and not much of a difference in the physical sciences. The only STEM fields in which men genuinely outnumber women are computer science and engineering.

    I created the following graphs, based on NSF data, to show women’s completion of bachelor’s degrees and PhDs in specific fields between 1991 and 2010.

    Graph courtesy of the author.

    Graph courtesy of the author.

    At the Ph.D. level, women have clearly achieved equity in the biosciences and social sciences, are nearly there (40 percent) in mathematics and the physical sciences, and are “over-represented” in psychology (78 percent). Again, the only fields in which men greatly outnumber women are computer science and engineering.

    Graph courtesy of the author.

    Graph courtesy of the author.

    When we look at the actual workforce, we see the same pattern. Women are as likely as men to be biological scientists, medical scientists and chemists. They are much less likely than men to be computer scientists, but have achieved equity in three out of five areas, with computer science and geoscience being exceptions.

    Cummins.Labor force

    2. Women and men are equally capable of doing STEM work

    One explanation for sex difference in STEM fields is that women just don’t have what it takes to succeed in the “hard” sciences, computer science, or engineering. Some have even argued that women are not smart enough for these fields.

    The fact is that men and women score equivalently on tests of raw IQ, with some studies showing women scoring slightly higher. When it comes to mathematics—a core requirement for science and engineering—women score on average only 32 points lower than men on the SAT— a mere 3 percent difference. While men outnumber women in the “genius” SAT math score range (700-800), the ratio is not that large (1.6 to 1). Men show only an insignificant five-point advantage over women on the quantitative section of the Graduate Record Examination, and they score one point lower than women on the analytic section.

    It is also not the case that more undergraduate men than women are selected by top engineering programs. Of the top STEM programs in the country, most have male-to-female undergraduate student ratios close to 1:1.

    3. Sex-linked interest preferences are not mere artifacts of socialization

    One interpretation of the sex difference in STEM careers (and the workforce in general) is that females are pressured into areas that are more “gender appropriate,” not that they are choosing to study what is intrinsically more interesting to them.

    For example, former American Association of University Women senior researcher Andresse St. Rose, one of the authors of ”Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics,” puts it this way:

    Another common but somewhat misguided explanation for female underrepresentation in STEM is that while girls and young women may be just as able as young men, they are not as interested in science and engineering. From early adolescence, girls report less interest in math and science careers than boys do (Turner et al. 2008), and among children identified as mathematically precocious, girls were less likely than boys to pursue STEM careers as adults (Lubinski and Benbow 2006). Girls’ lower reported interest in STEM may be partially explained by social attitudes and beliefs about whether it is appropriate for girls to pursue these subjects and careers.

    The problem with this “blank slate” interpretation of gender differences is that it doesn’t jibe with results of developmental studies. Newborn girls prefer to look at faces while newborn boys prefer to look at mechanical stimuli (such as mobiles). When it comes to toys, a consistent finding is that boys (and juvenile male monkeys) strongly prefer to play with mechanical toys over plush toys or dolls, while girls (and female juvenile monkeys) show equivalent interest in the two. (See this for summary of this research.) These sex-linked preferences emerge in human development long before any significant socialization can have taken place. And they exist in juvenile non-human primates that are not exposed to human gender-specific socialization efforts.

    It is not difficult to see how such early emerging preferences can end up shaping career choices later on: Women tend to gravitate toward fields that focus on living things and agents, men to fields that focus on objects.

    4. Different preferences don’t mean women’s are less important

    The hidden assumption underlying the push to eliminate gender gaps in traditionally male-dominated fields is that such fields are intrinsically more important and more valuable to society than fields that traditionally appeal to women.

    The hidden assumption underlying the push to eliminate gender gaps in traditionally male-dominated fields is that such fields are intrinsically more important and more valuable to society than fields that traditionally appeal to women. So we must turn women into men so that women can achieve economic parity with men. As Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg put it in her book “Lean In,” we need to set a goal of getting more women “in the door” of male-dominated, prestigious, and high-paying fields, even if doing so requires that women act more like men.

    But what happens when women follow this advice and follow the “lure” of prestige and wealth offered by male-dominated professions? Kate Bahn, an economics Ph.D. candidate at the New School, put it this way in her blog The Lady Economist:

    …I sometimes wonder to what extent my desire to be taken seriously, like one of the boys, played into my decision to become an economist over, say, a sociologist.

    and

    Do other fields perceived as masculine also attract a certain type of woman, like me, who is drawn to the power and seriousness connoted with masculinity? And what does it say about me, as a staunch feminist, if I’m relying on masculinity to convey my worth

    Yes, indeed, what does it say when women must adopt male values wholesale in order to command real social, political, and economic power? Or perhaps the better question is: Why are the fields that appeal to men so much better compensated than the fields that appeal to women? My answer to this question is…

    5. Men earn more because they believe they are worth more—and women agree

    Nursing, a traditionally female-dominated profession surely has more intrinsic value to society than trading stocks, yet nurses make a fraction of what high-frequency traders make. And nursing did not bring about a global economic crisis that the taxpayer was required to bail out. Yet when the percentage of male nurses increased from a miniscule 3 percent in 1970 to 10 percent in 2011, something else very interesting developed: a gender pay gap in the field of nursing. In 2011, the average female nurse earned $51,100, 16 percent less than the $60,700 earned by the average man in the same job.

    It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that male-dominated professions are high-status and well-paid precisely because they are male-dominated, and female-dominated professions are low-status and poorly-paid precisely because they are female-dominated. When men move into traditionally female-dominated professions, the salaries and status levels of those professions rise because men demand—and get—more for the work they do.

    When men move into traditionally female-dominated professions, the salaries and status levels of those professions rise because men demand—and get—more for the work they do.

    This is more than just conjecture. The fact that women undervalue themselves (and by extension, the work they do) has been amply demonstrated in carefully designed experimental economics studies. The two most frequently studied economics games are the dictator and ultimatum games. In the dictator game, one individual is given full authority to keep or share a sum of money with another player. On average, women keep less for themselves than men do. In the ultimatum game, one person is allowed to make an offer as to how the money should be divided, and the other party is given the opportunity to accept or reject the offer. If the offer is rejected, no one gets any money. Both men and women make lower offers to women than to men. Other studies have found that women negotiated harder when they were working on behalf of others rather than for themselves, which implies a reluctance to push their own interests.

    Rather than rushing to traditionally male professions to shore up our status and our income levels, perhaps we need to reject the implicit belief that men and whatever men are doing must be important and valuable, and whatever women are doing must be the career dregs that men fobbed off on us simply because they found that work intrinsically less interesting.

    The bottom line

    Women are clearly capable of doing well in STEM fields traditionally dominated by men, and they should not be hindered, bullied, or shamed for pursuing careers in such fields. But we also should not be ashamed if our interests differ from men’s. If we find certain careers more intrinsically rewarding than men do, that does not mean we have been brainwashed by society or herded into menial fields of labor. Instead, we should demand that greater intrinsic and monetary compensation be awarded to the work we like and want to do.

    The post Why the STEM gender gap is overblown appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Jessie Benton Fremont was an outspoken opponent of slavery during the Civil War era. This photo is circa 1902, from Online Archive of California.

    Jessie Benton Fremont was an outspoken abolitionist and a feminist in her own right. She is one of the grande dames of the Civil War era, profiled in Cokie Roberts’ new book, “Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington.” This photo is circa 1902, from Online Archive of California.

    I must confess that I have always had a somewhat narrow view of Civil War history. When my father scooped us up for dutiful family car trips to well-preserved battlegrounds, I viewed it through the lens of horror. So much blood. So much carnage.

    And I viewed it through the lens of slavery. How could it be that war could have been waged at such cost over something as self-evident to me (a privileged, free-born black person) that one human should not own another?

    I wouldn’t say I avoided that period of our American history, but neither did I much immerse myself in it.

    When I did pay attention, what fascinated me most were the stories of how people like me coped, whether they were the 185,000 soldiers of the U.S. Colored Troops — 10 percent of the Union Army — or the enslaved women who remained behind.

    Cokie Roberts, the ABC News and NPR correspondent who has returned repeatedly to the well of women’s role in history, broadened my interest in that period of our history once again with her new book “Capital Dames — The Civil War and the Women of Washington.”

    Here’s a quiz: when you think of Civil War heroes, can you name a single woman? Unlikely. This was 150 years ago, right?

    Jefferson Davis, at the age of 37, with his bride, Varina Howell. From a daguerreotype in the possession of their granddaughter, Mrs. George B. Webb, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Photo from 1845, source: NYPL "The Pageant of America" Collection. Public Domain

    Daguerreotype of Jefferson and Varina Davis, circa 1845.

    But Roberts proves — as she did with two previous works on the Revolutionary War — that women were not invisible during the War Between the States.

    In the nation’s capital, they were hostesses and strategists — political spies and behind-the-scenes policy makers. It is all the more impressive because they often straddled ideology to do it.

    Roberts introduced me to the restless Varina Davis — who would become the first lady of the Confederacy and later in life would befriend Julia Grant, Ulysses S. Grant’s first lady. I also got to learn about Jessie Benton Fremont, a senator’s daughter who later helped her senator husband run for president and became an abolitionist and feminist in her own right.

    What these women demonstrated — whether it was in concert or in conflict — was that there were other ways to lead.
    Mary Todd Lincoln’s troubles have been well documented, but we know less about Elizabeth Keckley, the former slave, seamstress and businesswoman who sewed for both Lincoln and Adele Cutts Douglas (the wife of debater Stephen Douglas) and went on to write her own White House tell-all memoir.
    What these women demonstrated — whether it was in concert or in conflict — was that there were other ways to lead.

    Too often, we put leadership in boxes. A viral Google search this week unearthed a troubling problem with our perceptions. If you typed “CEO” into the search engine for images, every face that popped up was male — with the weird exception of a “CEO Barbie” lifted from The Onion, the satirical newspaper.

    But there is a lot of leadership that a Google search does not capture, even leaving aside the incompleteness of the results. Women lead in home, schools and in PTAs, and in church clubs and, yes, in board rooms.

    And it turns out it has always been thus. We led during our wars and our peace. We joined in civil rights marches, although seldom from the front row.

    So I am expanding my thinking, and along the way, reclaiming the word “dame.”

    If the women Cokie Roberts writes about here are “dames,” you can call me a dame anytime. It always struck me as a spunky description anyway.

    The post Gwen’s Take: Dames and leadership appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo of former Sen. Robert Griffin, R-Mich., courtesy of U.S. Senate Historical Office

    Photo of former Sen. Robert Griffin, R-Mich., courtesy of U.S. Senate Historical Office

    DETROIT — Former U.S. Sen. Robert Griffin, a Michigan Republican whose withdrawal of support hastened President Richard Nixon’s resignation during the Watergate scandal, has died at age 91.

    Griffin was defeated in 1978 but landed a new career in 1987 as a Michigan Supreme Court justice — a job he described as his “highest calling” as a public servant. He died Thursday, according to a family statement released Friday.

    Griffin was appointed to the Senate in 1966, following the death of Patrick McNamara, and went on to serve 12 years in the chamber. He was a staunch Republican who initially backed Nixon during the Watergate scandal before joining other influential senators in calling for the president’s resignation in August 1974.

    “It’s not just his enemies who feel that way,” Griffin said at the time. “Many of his best friends — and I regard myself as one of those — believe now that this would be the most appropriate course.”

    Griffin’s family said President Gerald Ford, another Michigan Republican, had pledged to nominate him to the U.S. Supreme Court but backed off in fear that senators would see it as an act of cronyism.

    Griffin helped orchestrate a four-day filibuster in 1968 that squelched President Lyndon Johnson’s nomination of Abe Fortas, a Supreme Court justice, for chief justice. Critics raised ethical questions about Fortas and described him as too liberal.

    U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said Griffin was her first boss.

    “He taught me the importance of integrity in the political process, keeping your word and working with members on both sides of the aisle,” she said.

    Griffin was born Nov. 6, 1923, in Detroit and served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946. The next year, he received an undergraduate degree from Central Michigan University, which in an effort to spur renewed interest in government later established the Robert and Marjorie Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government.

    He earned a law degree at the University of Michigan in 1950, and practiced law in Traverse City until 1956, when he was elected to the U.S. House.

    Griffin served eight years on the Michigan Supreme Court through 1994.

    “I have enjoyed the honor of earlier government service in other capacities,” he said. “However, I can say without hesitation that I have never worked harder, nor have I met a higher calling, than as a member of this court.”

    The Grand Traverse County courthouse in Traverse City was named for Griffin in 2006.

    Survivors include his wife of 67 years, Marjorie. A son, Richard Griffin, is a judge on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

    The post Ex-U.S. Sen. Griffin, who hastened Nixon resignation, dies appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    In an effort to learn more about her third grade students, Colorado-based teacher Kyle Schwartz prompted them to tell her what “I wish my teacher knew.”

    Last week, Schwartz posted several of these responses on Twitter. Other teachers across the country soon followed suit, encouraging their students to answer the same question. When ABC News reported about it on Thursday, the project gained national attention.

    Schwartz teaches in a school district that serves several low-income students. She said responses offered her insight into some of the obstacles her students face at home, and reasons behind some of their challenges in the classroom.

    Schwartz told ABC News that 92 percent of her class qualify for free and reduced lunch. That’s a reality for 21 million children across the country.

    The post #IWishMyTeacherKnew offers insight into minds of students appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Loretta Lynch is sworn in to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on her nomination to be U.S. attorney general on Capitol Hill in Washington January 28, 2015. Lynch, nominated in November, has stirred little controversy in her 16 years with the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn and is expected to win confirmation. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR4NBOF

    If confirmed, Loretta Lynch would succeed Attorney General Eric Holder.President Barack Obama cr Photo by Reuters/Kevin Lamarque.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Friday said it was “crazy” and “embarrassing” the way the Republican-led Senate has held up confirmation of his attorney general nominee, Loretta Lynch.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was “hopeful” that the obstacle to bringing Lynch to the Senate floor would be addressed next week, clearing the way for her confirmation vote.

    But an aide to Minority Leader Harry Reid said no deal was yet in hand and echoed Obama’s call for Republicans to bring her to a vote without condition.

    “What are we doing here?” Obama said. “I have to say there are times when the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far. This is an example of it. It’s gone too far. Enough. Enough.

    “Call Loretta Lynch for a vote,” he said emphatically. “Get her confirmed.”

    Lynch is the U.S. attorney for New York’s Eastern District and would succeed Attorney General Eric Holder if confirmed. She would become the first black woman to serve as the nation’s top law officer.

    Dozens of Senate Republicans have opposed her for various reasons, chiefly her support of Obama’s immigration policies.

    But her vote has been put off because McConnell has first wanted a Senate vote on a bipartisan sexual trafficking bill that has been held up over a dispute about abortion. McConnell on Wednesday said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has adjusted the language to mirror that contained in bipartisan Medicare legislation that the Senate approved Tuesday.

    “This is a solution in search of a problem,” McConnell said in an interview Friday. “I have made it clear for seemingly well over a month that she’d be considered right after we consider trafficking, and I’m hopeful that that will occur next week and then we’ll move on to consider the nominee.”

    Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said Democrats do not believe Lynch’s nomination should be linked to the trafficking bill and want it to be voted on immediately.

    “On trafficking, it is true that Republicans have moved much farther in our direction in the last 24 hours than they have in the past five weeks,” Jentleson said. “But there are still significant issues to overcome and no deal is in hand.”

    The president spoke at a news conference alongside visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Asked about Lynch’s nomination, Obama praised “some outbreaks of bipartisanship and common sense” in Congress recently on issues such as fixing a longstanding problem with Medicare payments to doctors.

    “Yet what we still have is this crazy situation where a woman everybody agrees is qualified … has been now sitting there longer than the previous seven attorney general nominees combined,” Obama said. He said there was no reason for the delay other than “political gamesmanship in the Senate” on issues unrelated to Lynch.

    “This is embarrassing, a process like this,” Obama said.

    The post Obama calls delay of his attorney general nominee ‘crazy’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Traders pay upwards of $20,000 a year for access to the service, which serves as their eyes and ears into financial markets around the world. Bloomberg blamed the two-hour outage on internal network issues and faulty hardware. After reboot, the system was back online.

    Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched the terminal as the backbone of his media empire in 1981. A news wire, messaging service and instant trading platform were added to the initial terminal service and the portal eventually became indispensable for more than 300,000 investors.

    “It would be similar to the lights going out in your house because of the storm. Suddenly, you don’t perish, but you’re using candles.”From Singapore to London, panicked traders were met with blank screens during the outage. Trade volumes plummeted leading the U.K’s Debt Management Office to postpone the sale of short term bonds.

    “The terminal is a tool, but it is also a kind of utility. It would be similar to the lights going out in your house because of the storm. Suddenly, you don’t perish, but you’re using candles,” Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute told the NewsHour in an interview.

    The crash was good news for Bloomberg’s competitors in the market, especially rival Thomson Reuters, said Rosenstiel. Bloomberg overtook Reuters as the world’s largest financial information provider and its terminal brought in more than $9 billion in revenue in 2014, according to Fortune.com. With Bloomberg subscribers left to fend for themselves on the phone and online, investors subscribing to the Reuters terminal enjoyed a brief advantage.

    Unsure of how to function without the terminal, paralyzed investors took to twitter to contemplate the rare down time the crash provided for busy investors.

    Some saw the impact of the crash as a sign that markets are far too reliant on the platform.

    The post How a single computer system failure halted global financial markets appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    cokie roberts book

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: the newest addition to the NewsHour Bookshelf.

    It’s a different take on the Civil War era. ABC News and NPR political commentator Cokie Roberts’ latest book is “Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868.”

    Earlier this week, Gwen sat down and talked with Cokie at Busboys and Poets here in the D.C. area.

    Cokie, thank you for joining us.

    COKIE ROBERTS, Author, “Capital Dames”: Thank you for having me.

    GWEN IFILL: This book, “Capital Dames,” is so interesting to me, because while we have been talking about the Civil War and the heroes of the Civil War, we know all these names, but we never hear women’s names. And you have gone back and found them.

    COKIE ROBERTS: Well, that is pretty much throughout our history.

    One of the reasons I have been writing books about women in history is because other people haven’t been. And telling history without talking about one-half of the human race seems to be an inaccurate way of telling the story.

    GWEN IFILL: Some of the women you talk about in this case, we have vaguely heard of. We kind of know who Clara Barton was. Some women, we have never — a lot of them, we have never heard of at all.

    COKIE ROBERTS: Many of them.

    GWEN IFILL: Who are your favorites? Who surprised you that you discovered?

    COKIE ROBERTS: Well, one that just totally cracked me up was Abigail Brooks Adams, the wife of Charles Francis Adams, who was John Quincy Adams’ son.

    And he was in Congress for a term, but it was the term when the South seceded. And he then went to be the Union ambassador to England and kept England from siding with the South. But she, in the tradition of her grandmother-in-law and mother-in-law, was this outspoken Yankee women.

    And she would write home these letters that have never been published before about how President Buchanan is a toad, and one of her husband’s colleagues in the delegation was a pig. And she is writing these to Henry Adams, who became famous of course in his own right.

    And then she has one wonderful letter where she says, if any young woman wants to have a nice, quiet life, I advise her not to marry an Adams.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: Which is true.

    But a lot of women, their surnames are the wives of famous women, except one interesting one, who is the niece of a famous man. President Buchanan’s niece was the first lady.

    COKIE ROBERTS: She was.

    And she was actually the first person referred to as first lady in the press, Harriet Lane. And she had lived with him since she was a little girl. Her parents had died. And she had gotten to know the ways of Washington when he had been in the Cabinet. And then she went with him to England when he was ambassador to the Court of St. James, and became a great favorite of Queen Victoria.

    And she — we recently had a visit of the Prince of Wales. The Prince of Wales came when she was in the White House, and all the newspaper accounts said that when he went to Mount Vernon and they showed him the key to the Bastille, he was actually more interested in looking at Ms. Lane.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: Varina Davis.

    COKIE ROBERTS: I think she is one of the most interesting people in the book.

    GWEN IFILL: Tell us about her.

    COKIE ROBERTS: I really like her a lot.

    She is Jefferson Davis’ wife. And she was always wildly skeptical of the Confederacy as a concept, knew that it could never really succeed. She also was always outspoken in interviews.

    When one of the belles, as they described themselves, of Washington, Adele Cutts, who was Dolly Madison’s great niece, married Stephen Douglas, Varina Davis writes this letter home to her mother and says, it’s horrible. He stinks. He smells bad.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: And Stephen Douglas, of course, was of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

    COKIE ROBERTS: Right. Absolutely. He beat Lincoln for the Senate and then ran for the presidency himself against Lincoln and two others.

    But she then after the war was over, and she and Jefferson Davis had a somewhat fraught relationship. And she had a fraught relationship with the South. Among other things, her grandfather was the governor of New Jersey and she was somewhat olive-complected. She wasn’t fair enough for a perfect Southern belle.

    GWEN IFILL: And she ended up moving to New York after the war.

    COKIE ROBERTS: So, when she moved to New York, everybody in the South had a fit, the first lady of the Confederacy going to New York.

    And she wrote to her daughter and said, I’m free, brown, and 64. I can go wherever I want.

    (LAUGHTER)

    COKIE ROBERTS: But, then, when she got to New York, she befriended Julia Grant, the wife of Ulysses S. Grant.

    And that was one of the things I found very interesting. These women affected reconciliation in a variety of ways.

    GWEN IFILL: With each other, even though they were on other sides of the battle.

    COKIE ROBERTS: But they understood that it was symbolic for the nation. So, she went to the dedication of the Grant Memorial and knew that would be written about in all of the newspapers.

    GWEN IFILL: A lot of these women, you described them and they described themselves as belles. They were social beings.

    COKIE ROBERTS: And political.

    GWEN IFILL: But that’s my point. They were also political in ways that probably the naked common eye wouldn’t have noticed.

    COKIE ROBERTS: They were deeply political, very involved in their husbands’ careers or fathers or brothers, went to the debates in Congress all the time, helped their husbands with speeches and letters and all of that, and had their views. And, sometimes, they weren’t exactly the same as the men’s.

    GWEN IFILL: And how did you discover all of this? Because it is one thing to know it or to see their one line in the history book. It’s another thing to hear in these women’s own words or in the words of female reporters a lot of the time the way that this all unfolded.

    COKIE ROBERTS: Right. Right.

    Well, you go searching for letters among the men’s letters. A few of them have letters that have been published in books, thank God, because that means they are actually transcribed.

    But then you beg historic societies or university libraries, who are actually quite cooperative now, to find what they can find. And with modern technology, they will scan these handwritten letters and send them to you. And then the challenge is being able to read them. And I had some help with that.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, I want to talk to you some more online about another woman you profile in this book, Elizabeth Keckley, who I thought was really important and interesting.

    COKIE ROBERTS: Very important.

    GWEN IFILL: But she — from a different point of view.

    We will talk about that online.

    Cokie Roberts, thank you very much.

    COKIE ROBERTS: Thank you, Gwen.

     

     

    The post The undertold story of D.C.’s dames during the Civil War appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    shieldsbrooks

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Welcome, gentlemen. It’s good to have you back together again after a few weeks.

    MARK SHIELDS: Thank you very much, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, let’s talk about something not very exciting, but it’s really important. It’s that Trans-Pacific Partnership that now we know the White House, the administration, a few Democrats, a lot of Republicans, have come together around, apparently.

    Is this a good deal, based on what we know about it?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, supporters of trade agreements, including the president, would argue, with logic, that elevated — these trade agreements have raised the standard of living across the globe. They have lifted people out of poverty and led to greater economic activity.

    They have been a disaster for American workers, a total disaster, beginning with NAFTA. They have put all the power in the hands of the employer. The employer threatens, if you don’t go along, if you don’t surrender your bargaining rights, if you don’t surrender your health and pension benefits, if you don’t surrender collective union membership, we will move your job overseas.

    And as consequence of NAFTA some 22 years ago, documented by our own government, 755,000 jobs lost immediately…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: North American trade agreement.

    MARK SHIELDS: … five million fewer American — five million fewer American manufacturing jobs than there were.

    And I just think the pattern, Judy, has been established in our society. We see it where all — the trade agreements, the investor class capital is protected, whether it’s copyrights or whatever, intellectual property, their investments. And they just pay lip service to workers’ rights. And I just — I think it’s one more example.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And the president defended it again today, David, so that means he is siding the investor class?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I don’t think so.

    I agree with Mark’s first point. The greatest reduction in human poverty — in human history of poverty has taken place because of this era of free trade. And it’s been around the globe. As for the domestic workers, it’s complicated. It has hurt some people in some of the unions. There’s no question about it.

    The unions were dominant in the 1950s, when Europe was collapsed, when we had basically global dominance, 50 percent productivity gains. And as the world has globalized, the unions have weakened. And there have been some worker rights that have been sacrificed. There’s no question about that.

    It’s hurt people with fungible skills that can be replicated by those in China and India and elsewhere. On the other hand, it has created many new jobs. The vast field of research on this, on trade research, there are economists who are skeptics, who cite some of Mark’s numbers.

    There are some, and I would say the majority are slightly pro-trade, are more pro-trade and think that, net-net, we have had a growth in jobs and there are certain industries devastated, but other industries created.

    Finally, costs. All of us rely and buy goods that come from Asia, from Africa, from Europe. And those goods are much, much cheaper and our standard of living is much, much better because of these cheap goods that we benefit from and that people with lower incomes benefit from.

    So, are there losers? We are more acutely aware of the losers than we were. And there are more losers than there were. But are there winners? There are a ton of winners.

    MARK SHIELDS: Median household income in the United States was lower in 2012 than it was in 1989. I’m not saying solely because of this, but largely because of this.

    Judy, if you want to see the dominance of capital that I think these trade agreements exemplify and embody, all you have to see is the 2008 crisis, economic crisis in this country. Millions of ordinary Americans saw their futures, their savings, their homes wiped out. And they got nothing in the way of relief.

    Those who had caused it, who had brought the country to its knees, the big banks and the investment houses of Wall Street, were bailed out by people. They were made whole. So, you had a choice. Who are you going to help and who you going to leave to make out for their own?

    We have capitalism for the rich and we have free enterprise, high risk for workers. And I just think this is what it exemplifies. That’s what the resistance is about. Will they defeat the president? Probably not, because I think Republicans will be with him. And I think the opposition has been weakened ever since NAFTA, over 22 years.

    American workers have lost their clout politically.

    DAVID BROOKS: Global finance — the 2008 crash wasn’t a matter of trade.

    MARK SHIELDS: No.

    DAVID BROOKS: It was mostly a matter of the interlocking financial network, and which wasn’t about trading goods and services, sort of thing that’s involved in this.

    And so I just — I don’t think that’s why the wages have been flat. Secondly, on why the wages have been flat has not to do with trade. It has to do with technology. Trade is a small, small piece of this. If we were closed in, and you were in a steel factory in Pittsburgh, and they invented all this new technology to forge steel with a fraction of the workers, it wouldn’t matter if we had global trade or not. The technology was there and the technology was a lot cheaper. So, technological advance is the lion’s share of why these wages have been flat.

    MARK SHIELDS: I’m not saying that 2008 was caused by trade. I’m saying the template of the trade agreement of 1993, of — where capital was emphasized and deferred to, and workers were really basically left at the back of the bus, became the dominant model for our economy.

    And it is to this day. It is our politics. And it was in 2008 on the bailouts.

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, I would just say the president’s point that you can’t stop the global economy at the water’s edge, that we’re just not going to go there anymore.

    And his second point, which I thought was a good one, which is that, if we don’t have trade — and he acknowledges, as I acknowledges, that the people are hurt by this. But he said, if we don’t have a certain level of growth, then the whole political economy begins to suffer. When we have no growth, the political sector and the political discussion begins to grow embittered.

    And so you need to take action to help the people who Mark is talking about who are hurt by trade. But if you don’t have the growth that trade encourages, the productivity gains that trade encourages, you don’t get that because we’re in a very bitter country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we’re going to go to another place where I know the two of you will also be in complete agreement.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Iran. And this is very quick. How big a concession this week, Mark, for the president to come around to saying, I will do what the Congress wants me to do, I will let them have a say over this Iran nuclear deal?

    MARK SHIELDS: Important concession, but an example of the political process working, the legislative process working.

    And large credit goes to Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, Ben Cardin, a non-telegenic, not-camera-seeking, very able former speaker of the Maryland legislature, senator from — Democrat from Maryland, and a handful of others. They made it happen. I think it’s important.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. It’s a big win for the non-telegenic senators.

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAVID BROOKS: Of whom there should be more.

    And I would say they both — both sides really compromised. The president’s side sort of had to compromise so there would be a vote. The Republicans compromised because, the way the game is rigged, it is very unlikely they are going to win the thing. They’re probably going to lose.

    And then they both compromised on the timing of the sanctions relief and stuff like that. So, this was like actual legislation being done. And that is something we haven’t seen. And it was impressive.

    JUDY WOODUFF: Well, something that actually also happened this week is Hillary Clinton, Mark, finally did announce that she is running for president.

    She announced last weekend. She took off in a van from New York to Iowa. She’s been out trying to meet with small groups of Iowans. What did you make of the rollout? And do we now know why she is running for president?

    MARK SHIELDS: Rollout was fine. It was unpretentious, unassuming. She went to Chipotle. She knew what to order.

    No, I think the great myths that attached to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign, which she will put to rest in a hurry, and to me it came down to it was a bad campaign, better candidate. She became a very good candidate. Remember this. She lost 11 contests.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In ’08.

    MARK SHIELDS: In ’08. She lost 11 contests in a row. She was written off. Barack Obama was inevitable. He was triumphant.

    She came back, defeated him in Texas, and then in the battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, outspent vastly, she, campaigning among blue-collar Democrats, won those states. And I think — I think anybody — the biggest opponent she has right now is the political press, who cannot stand a coronation, in spite of the fact that seven of the last nine winning tickets have had either a Clinton or a Bush on them in this country.

    But we don’t know much about religion or the Bible, but we do know the David-Goliath story. And she is Goliath. And the press is looking for David right now. There are a lot of people who are trying to qualify for it. But she is not going to go just absolutely triumphantly being carried to the nomination.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: She caught some of the magic?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. She is not — magic would not be the one word that would describe — but I agree she is quite a good candidate.

    And what was striking the last time around, to use a friend, Ron Brownstein’s categories, she was good with what he calls the beer track voters, and not so much with right wine track voters. She has more of the working-class voters.

    And in places like Iowa, that’s just a natural winner there, not a lot of Chablis, I guess. But the second thing I would say is, I like the unpretentious rollout. I still think it’s necessary to have policies. It feels like, from the get-go, it’s necessary to say, I don’t only want to be president. Here is what I want to do as president.

    That’s just blank, open canvas right now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you think she should have made a big speech?

    DAVID BROOKS: I think it would have shown that it’s not about her, it’s about these issues or these policies. I thought that would have been the way to do it. She will unveil things obviously in the future.

    MARK SHIELDS: She committed — it was about the voters, I think.

    That’s — campaigns are about the voters. And I thought that came through. But she hasn’t given the raison d’etre for her campaign yet.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, on the other side of the ledger, Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, got in on the same day, didn’t get quite as much attention as she did, Mark.

    But, by the way, we should say, tonight, as we have been sitting here, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has announced that he will announce that he’s running in early May in his hometown of Hope, Arkansas.

    MARK SHIELDS: OK. That’s right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A place that we have heard of.

    MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

    What do we — but let’s talk for a minute about Marco Rubio. Where does he fit in this?

    MARK SHIELDS: I thought Marco Rubio’s entry was really quite impressive.

    He’s charismatic. I thought maybe old wine in new bottles, but it’s a very good new bottle. And he’s somebody who is obviously good at the business, which, let’s be honest, is getting elected to office. He has been consistently underrated. He was an underdog. He drove Charlie Crist, a Republican governor, popular Republican governor, not only out of the primary, out of his party.

    And I think that Marco Rubio has charisma, as well as youth, on his side and has to be paid attention to.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I agree. I think he’s the best communicator on the Republican side by far, by far the most underestimated of the candidates. He’s a very good speaker.

    He has two elements to his campaign so far. The first is the working-class story. His dad was a bartender. His mom worked at Kmart. He does have genuine roots in normal America. And the second which he played up, which I think is less successful so far, is the generational theme.

    And he’s got to play that because he’s young. He might as well take advantage of it. And so he’s 43, I guess. And he’s going to be running against older men on the Republican side and presumably Hillary Clinton. And so he’s saying, time for a changing of the guard.

    That’s a tough sell. He’s got to define what his generation stands for, which I think is still undone. But I do think he’s one of the top three likely to get the nomination.

    MARK SHIELDS: Who are the other two?

    DAVID BROOKS: Walker and Bush.

    And his challenge is, the early states do not favor him. Iowa doesn’t favor him. South Carolina doesn’t favor him. New Hampshire, he would really have to do extremely well in New Hampshire. And then he has to beat Bush in Florida several weeks later.

    DAVID BROOKS: Nevada?

    DAVID BROOKS: Nevada is better for him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We have time to talk about all of this. We’re so glad to talk about it tonight.

    Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you both.

    DAVID BROOKS: Thank you.

     

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: To help fill in the picture, we turn to retired Navy Admiral Dennis Blair. He was the commander of all U.S. military forces in the Pacific from 1999 to 2002. He also served as the director of national intelligence during President Obama’s first term.

    Admiral Blair, thank you for being with us.

    As we perhaps look at a map again of these islands, tell us, who claims this land, these dots of land, out in the South China Sea?

    ADM. DENNIS BLAIR (RET.), Former Commander, U.S. Pacific Command: Virtually all the islands are claimed by multiple countries.

    The islands here, the Spratlys, are claimed by four countries, Philippines, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, and Malaysia. There are about 100 of those islands, or some of them are just reefs. Some of them are islands. About 45 of them are occupied, but this recent action by China is the most aggressive we have seen, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On what basis is China declaring that it has the claim that no one else does?

    ADM. DENNIS BLAIR: It’s interesting, isn’t it?

    As you see from that map, China is the farthest away from those islands way down in the southern part of the South China Sea. They claim it based on a very old, very old map that in fact came from nationalist Chinese officials. To put it in context, I would say this is like the United States claiming all the water area of the Caribbean based on the Monroe Doctrine and a Confederate map.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And this has clearly not made their friends — or their neighbors in the area happy.

    Do you know, can you tell us more about what exactly they’re doing? We have been reading that they’re paving over some of these islands. They’re adding sand, and now they’re paving what appears to be an airstrip capable of handling a military plane.

    ADM. DENNIS BLAIR: Right. They have had a lot of big dredges down there for the past — almost a year. They’re dredging up sand and building up land, so that they can have, as you said in your piece earlier, a 10,000-foot runway, which can take most any aircraft, and also has a little harbor there that has piers that ships can come alongside, and then a lot of storage area sheds, and could be petroleum storage and so on.

    This would make a very handy little peacetime logistic port, about 1,000 miles from where they have to support their ships and aircraft now, whether they be military or Coast Guard, civilian.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, the Chinese are saying this is all about weather forecasting and search and rescue.

    But what do the neighbors and what is the United States worried about?

    ADM. DENNIS BLAIR: Well, the — China has a very expansive view of what the rights of a littoral country are to the territory off its coasts, whether it be the territorial sea, which goes out to 12 miles, or the exclusive economic zones, which go out about 200 miles.

    China believes that it should have the notification, it should be notified if others other countries’ military ships are going in there or aircraft. There shouldn’t be any reconnaissance. There shouldn’t be any naval exercises. So, if China were to successfully claim the entire South China Sea, which is what they do claim, and apply their interpretation of the rights of the country, then it would severely restrict the military operations of the United States, Japan, other countries.

    So it’s really unacceptable to the United States.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Where do you see this headed, Admiral Blair? The United States has raised some objections. The countries in the region clearly have. Where is this going?

    ADM. DENNIS BLAIR: Well, I think China is being fairly clever, in that they are making their advances in the South China Sea by non-military forces. It’s by Coast Guard vessels, by administrative declaration.

    For instance, they have created a city which encompasses — which they say would administer all of the South China Sea. You remember last year they had a drilling rig that went into waters claimed by Vietnam and drilled there for a period of several months. Now they are using these civilian dredges. They have been very careful to keep it below the military level.

    But, nonetheless, if they succeed — and they have been much the most aggressive country over the last three or four years in taking these sorts of measures — and if they succeed, they will strengthen their claim to have de facto control over this country and be able to enforce their interpretation of it.

    So that’s where China would like it to go. For their part, the claimant countries, the four who are around it, and other countries with an interest like the United States, Japan, Australia, have been, frankly, pretty weak in their response, if their objective was to stop China and have it negotiate peacefully.

    China insists that all of these disputes are bilateral, as you would if you were the 800-pound gorilla in there. But I think what all of us must do, including the United States, is to take this into a multilateral forum, where there can be a multilateral adjudication of all of the claims, and pass out the claims to the five countries that are involved in a fair and equitable way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, they have certainly managed to get everyone’s attention.

    Admiral Dennis Blair, we thank you for talking with us.

    ADM. DENNIS BLAIR: You’re welcome, Judy.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to growing tensions in Asia over who controls contested areas in the South China Sea. China has recently tried to expand its claim by dumping tons of sand to build up small reefs into islands capable of holding military equipment.

    MAN: China would rather use its bullying force against a small country like the Philippines.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tough words in Manila today, and protests outside China’s embassy, in what’s become a big dispute over a small chain of islands in the South China Sea.

    They’re called the Spratlys, about 1,000 miles south of China’s Hainan province. The archipelago is claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei. But in recent satellite images, it is China that appears to have built up one of the islands, known as the Fiery Cross Reef, constructing an airstrip there. The island is reportedly large enough for a 9,500-foot runway, which could accommodate military aircraft.

    Today in Beijing, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman defended the project.

    HONG LEI, Spokesman, Foreign Ministry Spokesman, China (through interpreter): The relevant construction is conducted within China’s sovereign territory. It is reasonable, understandable and legal, and it is not targeting or affecting any other country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. has weighed in on the dispute. The commander of American forces in the Pacific spoke at a congressional hearing.

    ADM. SAMUEL LOCKLEAR, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command: The implications are, if this activity continues at pace, is that it — it would give them de facto control, I think, in peacetime, of much of the world’s most important waterways.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. has expressed concerns about China’s land reclamation, which has gotten so tense at points that Chinese ships have blocked vessels from other countries.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The long-running battle over immigration in the U.S. landed in court today, as three federal judges heard arguments over President Obama’s most recent executive actions.

    Hari Sreenivasan has the story.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The case before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals pits the Obama administration and its latest waivers of deportation against just over half of states in the country; 26 states have sued the president, arguing that his immigration policy oversteps his constitutional authority.

    At issue are executive actions the president announced in November. As a reminder, the administration wants to expand who qualifies for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. The latest action would include undocumented immigrants over 30 years old who were brought to the U.S. as children.

    The president’s actions also would block deportation for parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents, provided those undocumented immigrants have lived in the country since 2010 and pass background checks.

    Joining us now to discuss the case is Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Houston bureau chief for The Los Angeles Times. She was in court in New Orleans this morning.

    So, tell us first, what are the arguments that you heard?

    MOLLY HENNESSY-FISKE, Los Angeles Times: Well, we heard both from the federal government. You had a Justice Department lawyer who was speaking on behalf of the government arguing that DACA and DAPA, as they are referred to, are discretionary programs that are decided case-by-case, that it’s not a broad sweeping policy that’s being imposed on the states and that the states don’t bear any costs associated with that.

    On the other side, you had Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller, who was arguing that the states do bear costs, that they have to, in Texas in particular, pay the cost of driver’s licenses, health care costs, education costs associated with the folks who would benefit from these deferred action programs.

    And the judges asked a lot of questions. It was a very active, animated hearing.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Is this a discussion about states’ rights or about immigration policy?

    MOLLY HENNESSY-FISKE: Well, it depends who you would ask.

    I think the Texas folks would say that this has to do — and they did say in fact — afterwards, they emerged from court and we had a chance to talk to the solicitor general of Texas a little bit. And he said this is a constitutional issue, this is an issue of not an immigration question, but an issue of the president overreaching his constitutional authority.

    But on the other side, I think you heard the government lawyer, Ben Mizer, saying this is an issue of immigration policy, of the federal government making policy, and that if you allow one state or in this case Texas joined by 25 other states to intervene, they could intervene at any point on any kind of federal policy to stop it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, backing up just a bit, how did this case get in front of a court in New Orleans? Is this the matter of somebody shopping for a favorable outcome based on the judges that will be picked or the circuit?

    MOLLY HENNESSY-FISKE: Well, some observers have said that that’s what happened, that there was judge-shopping going on in terms of where the original case was filed by the states.

    It was filed before Judge Hanen down in Brownsville in the Southern District of Texas. Judge Hanen, based on a reading of his previous opinions, could be considered a fairly outspoken conservative judge. On the other hand, the panel that was chosen today was assigned at random.

    They drew these three judges, two of whom were appointed by Republican judges, one of whom was appointed by Obama. At this point — and the questions that they asked today were a real mix. I talked to folks from both sides after the hearing and they said they really weren’t know how this is going to turn out on the appellate level.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Did they both feel optimistic? Did they feel like they got their case heard, that perhaps the judges were asking questions that supported their side?

    MOLLY HENNESSY-FISKE: Yes.

    In particular, I talked to some of the individuals who qualified for these programs for deferred action. And they said they felt like the judges asked thoughtful questions, and that they were fairly open-minded.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK, so what’s next here? What’s the timeline? How soon can this court decide, and if, for example, it decides not in the favor of the Obama administration, is there I guess the final appeal left for the Supreme Court?

    MOLLY HENNESSY-FISKE: Well, there’s a number of different appeals.

    What they were dealing with, what the panel was dealing with today was specifically the state, the injunction that the judge, the federal judge in Texas had imposed halting deferred action. So that judge back in Texas is still dealing with the underlying case and the injunction. Those are two separate things. We were just talking about the stay today.

    It is unclear how soon the panel could rule on the stay. I checked right before we went on. They hadn’t ruled yet. They weren’t expected to rule today, but you never know. And both sides are sort of anticipated to appeal if it’s not found in their favor. They can appeal for a hearing before the entire Fifth Circuit and then they can also to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Houston bureau chief for The Los Angeles Times, joining us from New Orleans, thanks so much.

    MOLLY HENNESSY-FISKE: Thank you.

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    Iraqi soldiers salute as they stand next to a mass grave for Shi'ite soldiers from Camp Speicher who have been killed by Islamic State militants in the presidential compound of the former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in Tikrit

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we turn now to an on-the-ground report from Iraq.

    NewsHour special correspondent Jane Arraf brings us this story from Tikrit.

    JANE ARRAF: This courtyard in Tikrit has become a place of pilgrimage and a reason to fight. The plaque commemorates what is believed to be one of the biggest massacres in modern Shia history.

    Shortly after ISIS took over Mosul and Tikrit last June, it executed hundreds of young air force cadets and army recruits from nearby Camp Speicher. At least 200 were believed to have been executed here, killed because they were military and they were Shia.

    “We have offered our youth, the best of our youth to Iraq and the Iraqi people,” says a representative of one of Iraq’s most revered Shia clerics. “We have achieved our liberty through the martyrs of Camp Speicher.”

    Tens of thousands of Iraqi Shia responded to a fatwa by the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani calling on them to work with the Iraqi military to fight the Islamic State group. His representative says they don’t need American help, just more Iraqi assistance.

    SHEIK DHARGHAM AL-JABOURI (through interpreter): We need air support from the Iraqi government exclusively. Iraqi pilots have expertise in the area. Iraqi expertise should take precedence.

    JANE ARRAF: Shia leaders have officially condemned revenge attacks against Sunni Arabs believed to have cooperated with ISIS. But ISIS, in pitting Sunnis against Shias, has deepened the historic regional divide.

    The massacre of recruits from nearby Camp Speicher and the ISIS video documenting it helped further its goal of fragmenting the country. One of the fighters, Hashim Basheer Salim, tells us he wants to die fighting.

    HASHIM BASHEER SALIM, Shia Fighter (through interpreter): That’s where the slaughter happened. Those in charge and the cameraman were standing up there. It was a slaughter. They treated them like spoils of war, not like human beings.

    JANE ARRAF: He says they blame some Sunni groups for collaborating with ISIS.

    HASHIM BASHEER SALIM, Shia fighter (through interpreter): We didn’t do the same thing with the Sunnis. In 1991, in the uprising, we were feeding them and clothing them. They stayed with us for one month, and then we sent them back to their families.

    JANE ARRAF: But this is a much different Iraq than it was in 1991. The graffiti left by Shia fighters and posters with the Iranian leaders who inspire some of them show where the battle lines are drawn.

    Almost 200 bodies have been unearthed from near the palace. There are five mass graves found so far, and more expected. ISIS blew up this bridge to prevent Iraqi forces and Shia and Sunni fighters from advancing. Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown and a mostly Sunni city, was seen as a test for a coming battle for Mosul.

    This palace is one of the few places in Iraq where you can still see a likeness of the executed president. In this one, he is cast as the Islamic conqueror Salahuddin.

    It took weeks for the Iraqi military to take back Tikrit. But with the help of Shia fighters and U.S. airstrikes, they eventually managed to push ISIS out of these palaces and the city. But while they have taken back this city, ISIS is coming back in other provinces.

    Tikrit is the first major Sunni city retaken from ISIS. The victory has come at a cost. This was an ISIS stronghold, one of the first cities it captured after Mosul. Its fighters fought hard for it. The battle was street to street, and it shows. Now two weeks after ISIS was driven out, the only people allowed in the city are fighters and policemen.

    We were brought here by the popular mobilization forces, Shia fighters under nominal Iraqi government command. Most are backed and in some cases equipped by Iran. The Iraqi military couldn’t have pushed back ISIS without them, but particularly in Sunni areas, some have been accused of looting and revenge attacks. On the streets, there are shops believed burned by looters or damaged in the fighting.

    This is the effect of three weeks of airstrikes, bombings, and explosions. You can still smell the smoke in some of these places. These blackened shops are pretty much all that is left of Tikrit’s main commercial street. More than 100,000 people lived here. Officials think it could take more than two months for them to be able to return.

    Local police now secure the city. Parts of it are still rigged with explosives. ISIS fighters blacked out the faces on these shop. They believe depicting the human form is blasphemous. The fighters and police have relocked shops to prevent further looting.

    When we leave, the police fire in the air in a traditional show of celebration. For the Iraqi government, recapturing Tikrit was a huge and hard-won victory, but after this battle comes the struggle for reconciliation.

    I’m Jane Arraf for PBS NewsHour in Tikrit.

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    Al-Douri card

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: It was a deadly day in Iraq. A series of bombs ripped through Baghdad, targeting public places and killing at least 40 people.

    Farther north, in Irbil, a car bomb exploded outside the U.S. Consulate, killing at least three and wounding five. In Ramadi, military forces fought back Islamic State militants trying to control the city. Local authorities warned the situation was critical.

    In a striking victory, government forces claim they killed Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the king of clubs in the deck of playing cards given to U.S. forces to identify key figures in Saddam Hussein’s regime. He became a leader of Sunni extremist groups and recently allied with the Islamic State group.

    Late today, a Shia militia held a press conference showing what it said were images of al-Douri’s body in an effort to confirm that he was dead.

    For more on who he was and what this means for Iraq, I’m now joined by retired Colonel Derek Harvey. He was an intelligence and a special adviser to the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq General David Petraeus. And he’s now at the University of South Florida.

    Colonel Derek Harvey, welcome again to the NewsHour.

    So let’s start out by reminding everyone who al-Douri was. What was his role under Saddam Hussein?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY (RET.), Former Army Intelligence Officer: He was the vice president under Saddam Hussein and, importantly, he was responsible for the Islamic revival campaign that burnished the image of the regime and established Islamic Sunni credentials.

    And that became the base of opposition to the U.S. presence, the Islamic opposition led by Izzat al-Douri.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, after the regime fell, what did he do exactly?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Well, he immediately set up the mission of establishing the resistance, a Sunni Arab resistance, and it was based upon a number of different aspects, reestablishing relationships with military intelligence officials on one hand and then using the mosques, the religious elements in the society, to build a network of networks of opposition across multiple provinces, mainly based north of Baghdad in the Sunni heartland.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what did that mean during that period for U.S. forces who were in Iraq?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Well, he organized across multiple provinces, along with others in the Baath Party, and with assistance from those that were in Damascus, a fairly decent network of opposition, in each province at the grassroots level and building up to political leadership.

    And that provided the resilience that allowed them to withstand the U.S. occupation and then allowed them to continue the fight once we left.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And once the U.S. did leave, what happened then?  And then we know at some point he became — started to work with the Islamic State group.

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Well, it looks like he began to work with the Islamic State and al-Qaida in Iraq more aggressively in about 2012.

    But Izzat al-Douri and his folks have been working with al-Qaida in Iraq from the very beginning. As early as I could tell, it was probably August or September of 2003 when Izzat al-Douri’s organization was providing vehicle bombs that the al-Qaida network would then provide the suicide bombers to and they would deliver those into attacks into Baghdad.

    So, he has been a key component in the resistance since 2003.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And so what does it mean? If it is confirmed that he is dead, that he’s been killed, what does that mean for the Islamic State group and what they’re trying to do?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Well, most recently, in the last few months, it looks like Naqshbandi and Izzat al-Douri’s organization had started to fall away from the Islamic State.

    And there had been different fights between these groups and Islamic State in Northern Iraq, where they most have their — most of their activity. He made some public statements a couple of weeks ago criticizing the Islamic State, so we started to see them fall apart from each other. And that was because they didn’t have the same strategic objectives.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, again, if it’s confirmed that he is dead, what does it mean for the U.S., for efforts to stabilize Iraq?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Well, I think this is going to cause a void in the resistance of the Sunni Arab insurgency for a while.

    It will lead to some competition to take the leadership mantle of the Sunni Arab resistance. He was the glue, in some ways. He understood the networks. He understood the people, the key players throughout these resistance groups. And because of that, I think lack of knowledge and the lack of his expertise and his network is going to create a void and create division and more divisiveness within the Sunni Arab community, which really does need to find a leader at some point in time to engage with Baghdad.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we will certainly be following to see if is confirmed.

    Colonel Derek Harvey, we thank you.

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: You’re welcome, Judy.

    The post High-level insurgent leader reported killed in Iraq appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Obama and Italian Prime Minister Renzi hold joint news conference at the White House in Washington

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama hosted Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the White House today.

    And, at a joint news conference, he addressed a list of sticky issues, starting with the way GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are handling one of his main Cabinet appointments.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is embarrassing, a process like this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The president had strong words for Senate Republicans, who, since February, have delayed the confirmation of Loretta Lynch to be attorney general.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There are times where the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far. This is an example of it. It’s gone too far. Enough. Call Loretta Lynch for a vote. Get her confirmed. Put her in place. Let her do her job.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senate Republican leaders have said they hope to get to it next week, but only if another controversial issue is resolved first.

    Today, the president was mainly asked about a collection of international issues. His defended his plan to sign a bill that would give Congress a say on a final nuclear deal with Iran, calling it a reasonable compromise. But Mr. Obama stressed the importance of appearing credible in the remaining negotiations.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If it is perceived that we walked away from a fair deal that gives us assurances Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, then those international negotiations will fray. And it won’t just be Russia or China. It will be some of our close allies who will start questioning our capacity or the wisdom of maintaining these. We don’t want to put ourselves in that position.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On trade, the president pushed a new agreement with Asia, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but he acknowledged the deal faces vigorous opposition at home.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There’s going to be a set of Democratic senators and House members who traditionally have just, on principle, opposed trade, because the unions, on principle, regardless of what the provisions are, are opposed to trade.

    And then there are others who, like me, believe that we cannot stop a global economy at our shores. We’ve got to be in there and compete.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meantime, as Europe’s economy struggles to rebound, the two leaders urged the Greek government to make economic reforms, even as they continue to seek financial aid.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My attitude has been, yes, you need structural reforms of the sort that Matteo is initiating. The sustainability of structural reforms depends on people feeling some sense of hope and some sense of progress. And if all it is is just getting squeezed, but there’s no growth, then over time the political consensus breaks down, and not only do you not get structural reforms, but you also end up reverting to some of the old patterns that didn’t work.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: As his country faces rising unemployment and declining GDP, Italian Prime Minister Renzi praised the U.S. as a model for the wider European economy.

    Just down the road from the White House, financial leaders from the world’s major economies gathered to discuss rising challenges. The leaders posed for a group photo after two days of meetings. And the Group of 20 issued a joint communique, saying they see modest improvements in the global economy. But there was no official discussion of Greece and its financial woes.

    North African migrants seeking refuge in Europe hit more trouble as they came across the Mediterranean Sea, a boat docked in Italy today carrying survivors who’d been badly burned after a gas explosion on their vessel.

    John Ray of Independent Television News has this report from Sicily.

    JOHN RAY: From the Mediterranean, this ocean of manmade misfortune, a ship of horrors. Rescue teams who have saved so many poor souls this week say they have seen nothing yet to match this suffering, migrants, mostly women, disfigured by burns from an accident on shore, then cast out to sea in a sinking dinghy.

    The smugglers they paid handsomely for the journey abandoned the injured and the dying to their fate.

    BARBARA MOLINARIO, United Nations Refugee Agency: The traffickers wouldn’t allow them to leave and reach the hospital. So they didn’t get treatment for a few days. And then they were put on a boat, in fact, on a runner dinghy. And when rescuers arrived, they had spent two days at sea, but they were drifting away, because the rubber dinghy was half-deflated already.

    JOHN RAY: A baby was among the victims caught by an exploding gas cylinder as the women gathered around a cooking stove.

    This afternoon, we watched as the injured were brought to hospital in Sicily. Wounds so long attended leave lives in the balance. Here, the survivors will belatedly get the specialist medical help they need, but despite the best efforts of surgeons, doctors here say that, though they may live, many will bear the scars of their journey forever. The smugglers responsible have not been caught.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The United Nations estimates some 13,000 migrants have been rescued from the Mediterranean Sea in the past week alone.

    A state ceremony was held in Germany today to honor the victims of last month’s Germanwings plane crash. Hundreds of family members and dignitaries attended the memorial service at the Cologne Cathedral. The steps leading up to the altar were lined with 150 candles, one for each person on board. Investigators found the co-pilot deliberately slammed the airliner into the French Alps while en route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf.

    A court in Beijing sentenced Chinese journalist Gao Yu to seven years in prison today on charges she leaked state secrets. Gao, a 71-year-old veteran reporter, denied the charges brought against her. The document in question detailed the Communist Party leadership’s plans to target civil society and press freedom as a threat to the party’s power. Gao plans to appeal the sentencing. She has already served time in prison on state secrets charges more than two decades ago.

    The parents of the youngest victim in the Boston Marathon bombing asked federal prosecutors to give up seeking the death penalty for the bomber. Bill and Denise Richard urged the Justice Department to work toward a deal that would give Dzhokhar Tsarnaev a life sentence without the opportunity of parole. Tsarnaev was convicted last week in the 2013 attack that killed three people, including 8-year-old Martin Richard.

    The large outbreak of measles that was traced to Disneyland in California has come to an official end. Officials at California’s Department of Public Health said no new infections have been reported in the past 42 days. That’s equal to two incubation periods. The outbreak sickened 147 people in the U.S. and it renewed a national debate over vaccinations.

    The International Space Station received a much-needed delivery of supplies today. Its crew captured the SpaceX supply ship using a huge robotic arm. The capsule contained more than 4,000 pounds of cargo, including groceries, equipment, science experiments, and an espresso maker for an Italian astronaut. It will be sent back to Earth next month full of experiment results and discards.

    On Wall Street today, stocks reacted to new trading regulations in China and renewed worries over Greece and its finances. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 280 points to close at 17826. The Nasdaq fell 76 points, and the S&P 500 dropped 24. For the week, the Dow and Nasdaq both fell 1.3 percent. The S&P fell 1 percent.

    The post News Wrap: Obama urges Senate to vote on Lynch confirmation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit April 18, 2015 in Nashua, New Hampshire. The Summit  brought together local and national Republicans and was attended by all the Republicans candidates as well as those eyeing a run for the nomination. Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images.

    U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit April 18, 2015 in Nashua, New Hampshire. The Summit brought together local and national Republicans and was attended by all the Republicans candidates as well as those eyeing a run for the nomination. Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images.

    Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is making it a family affair while campaigning in New Hampshire.

    Paul visited the D.W. Dinner in Merrimack on Saturday morning with his 16-year-old son, Robert, by his side. The two shook hands with the breakfast crowd, and the presidential candidate took questions on education policy and Russia.

    Rand Paul is in New Hampshire for a gathering of roughly 20 potential and declared candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

    The Paul family has a long history in New Hampshire. The senator’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul, had a strong base of support in the state during his presidential runs.

    One diner patron forgot for a moment which Paul plans to be on the ballot this time around.

    “New Hampshire loves Ron Paul!” she exclaimed, before correcting herself. “Rand Paul, Rand Paul.”

    Mike Huckabee is still playing coy about his presidential ambitions. He realizes this is wearing thin, but he can’t help it.

    “I know it sounds ridiculous,” said the former Arkansas governor, building steam for a Dr. Seuss-like answer, “but for all the legal purposes, one can’t make an announcement until you make the announcement. You can only tell people that you’re going to make the announcement. So I can tell you I’m going to make an announcement.”

    On Friday, he said he would announce May 5 in Hope, Arkansas, whether he is running again for the GOP nomination.

    He already seems to be.

    He made the comment before a Saturday breakfast stop at North Side Grille in Hudson, New Hampshire. He’s in the state with a large group of other potential candidates who are addressing a meeting in Nashua.

    If he runs, he says he will focus on working class voters who feel left out of the Republican Party. He predicts he will have a stronger base of financial support than in his 2008 bid.

    The post GOP contenders target New Hampshire voters for 2016 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    oregonteens2

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    MEGAN THOMPSON: A crowd paraded recently outside the courthouse in Eugene, Oregon.  Kids, teachers, parents … there were even singing grandmas.  All hoping to draw attention to what this young woman was doing inside.

    CHRIS WINTER:  Your honor, I have counsel table with me this morning, this afternoon, Kelsey Juliana, one of the plaintiffs.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Kelsey Juliana is only 19 years old, but she’s suing the State of Oregon, claiming it’s not doing nearly enough to stop climate change and prevent the effects it will have on her generation and those to come.

    KELSEY JULIANA: If the state does not act now, we are facing irreversible, catastrophic crises.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Juliana – who delayed her first semester of college last fall to participate in a climate walk across the country – has been active on the issue for years.

    KELSEY JULIANA: I’ve been doing climate activism work since 5th grade. And, you know, that started with me, you know, getting my friends, my soccer team together and spending a day marching and holding up signs.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: In 2011, Juliana and another plaintiff teamed up with a local environmental activist group, Our Children’s Trust to file the lawsuit against the state.  Juliana was just 15.

    But it’s not only her age that’s drawn attention to this case …. It’s also the legal approach that’s being used. …. All started by university of Oregon law professor Mary Christina Wood about a decade ago.

    MARY CHRISTINA WOOD: It was really the moment when Hurricane Katrina hit and I recognized that climate crisis had not been addressed properly by government and the crisis was worsening with great urgency.

    And environmental law had largely failed to address many of the most significant problems we face. So, to me, the Public Trust Doctrine was the logical response.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: The Public Trust Doctrine is a legal theory that essentially says, government should hold certain natural resources in trust for the public.  It can be traced back to ancient Roman law and English common law.

    In the US, it’s mostly been used to guarantee public access to waterways, and became part of American case law back in the 1890’s in a Supreme Court ruling that private developers in Chicago couldn’t prevent public access to Lake Michigan.

    But in the 1970’s, environmental lawyers began arguing that the Public Trust Doctrine should be extended to other resources, like wildlife or even the air – and that it should compel governments to protect these resources, too.  And now, Professor Wood says, it should be extended to protect the atmosphere as well.

    MARY CHRISTINA WOOD: It obviously applies to the atmosphere because the atmosphere controls the climate system we all depend on for survival.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Wood thought, if the atmosphere could be considered a resource covered by the public trust doctrine, then maybe courts could force governments to take additional steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She called her idea, “atmospheric trust litigation” and worked with well-known climate scientist James Hansen.

    He says we need to reduce emissions by at least six percent a year … and proposed specific remedies like a carbon tax to help get there.  Wood started giving talks about the plan … and eventually wrote a book.

    MARY CHRISTINA WOOD: The problem with climate is that there is mind-blowing urgency and we have now Nature’s laws to contend with.  And so, what atmospheric trust litigation asks is that government have a plan.

    JULIA OLSON: And so, I heard a talk that Mary Wood gave at the University of Oregon about using the Public Trust Doctrine to compel governments to protect our climate system for future generations…

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Environmental attorney Julia Olson was so inspired that she decided to put Wood’s ideas into practice.  In 2010, she co-founded Our Children’s Trust – the group that backed Juliana’s case in Oregon.

    But it’s not just happening here – kids backed by the group have brought lawsuits against the federal government and in 14 other states, although the case in Oregon has gotten the furthest along.  And the idea’s catching on globally, too – similar lawsuits have been filed Ukraine, Uganda, the Philippines and the Netherlands.

    It’s all been done with the help of an army of attorneys and scientists working pro bono.

    JULIA OLSON: We’re trying to spread the message that people everywhere, all over the world, hold these fundamental, inalienable rights to have their essential natural resources protected for themselves and for future generations, for their children and great-grandchildren.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Lawsuits, including the federal suit, have been dismissed.  And while a couple of state judges have been receptive to the idea that the public trust could include the atmosphere, none has forced state governments to take action.

    Richard Stewart is a professor of environmental law at New York University, and explained the plaintiffs in Oregon will have an uphill battle, too.

    RICHARD STEWART: It’s an interesting and intriguing idea, but– there are a number of problems.  One, it goes way b– beyond what any state court has done thus far.  Secondly– the atmosphere is global and greenhouse gases mix globally. So Oregon can by no means solve the problem, even the problem in Oregon.

    The third problem is providing a remedy. And many courts in– there have been cases brought in other states that have said, “This is really for the political branches, this is beyond the capacity of the judiciary to manage.”

    MEGAN THOMPSON: In fact, the circuit court judge in Oregon originally tossed out Juliana’s case on procedural grounds based on that very argument.  But last year, an Oregon appeals court gave our children’s trust one of its biggest wins so far: ordering the case back to the lower court for a decision on the merits.

    MEGAN THOMPSON:  Four years after the plaintiffs filed their lawsuit, they finally got their day in court, on April 7, here at the Lane County Circuit Court in Eugene.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: People lined up 2 hours before the hearing to watch Kelsey Juliana’s case against the state of Oregon.  But interestingly, the state itself doesn’t dispute many of the basic underlying facts of the case.

    PAUL GARRAHAN: The State of Oregon agrees that climate change is a serious problem.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Paul Garrahan is an attorney with the Oregon Department of justice and was part of the state’s legal team at the hearing.  The state of Oregon for decades has been an environmental policy leader.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Oregon is already one of the lowest greenhouse gas emitters in the country, and is about to shut down its only coal-fired power plant.  The state even has a global warming commission and is adopting a clean fuels program.

    Garrahan says, the state shares many of the plaintiffs’ goals, but using the public trust doctrine to sue in court isn’t the right way to go about achieving them.

    PAUL GARRAHAN: We think that as a fundamental issue of democratic government, those decisions should be made by the legislature and by the executive branch.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: But the plaintiffs argue there’s no time for a debate about the role of various branches of government, and point to a report issued by the state itself showing its proposed plans don’t put it on track to achieve its own emissions goals.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: The plaintiffs acknowledge that the state is taking lots of steps to address this, but they say it’s just not enough.

    PAUL GARRAHAN: Well, we agree that the state can do more. And we’re aggressively pushing policies to do more.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Judges have said, “I’m a judge and it’s not my job to tell democratically elected legislatures and state officials what to do.” How do you overcome that?

    JULIA OLSON: It’s actually pretty simple. So, we have three branches of government. It goes back to 5th grade civics. And one branch of government – the legislature doesn’t get to both interpret the Constitution, write the laws, and then police themselves. That would be a real concentration of power in one branch of government. And so, what we’re asking the court to do is do its job and interpreting our public trust rights and then also be the police on the legislature to determine whether it is upholding its duty to make laws that protect our rights.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: You haven’t gotten any state governments to do this. And other people have, you know, called this a bit of a stretch. Why keep going with this?

    JULIA OLSON: We haven’t had a choice but to keep going and I think one of the important things for people to recognize is the urgency of the crisis. And it’s only our generation that can deal with this problem and stop the irreversible impacts that we’re causing.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Olson and her team at our children’s trust aren’t slowing down.  They plan to file three more state lawsuits and another federal lawsuit…and new lawsuits are also expected in India and Pakistan.  The judge in Oregon says he will make his ruling in the next couple of months.

    KELSEY JULIANA: I hope that the judge will rule in our favor. I hope that he will look me in the eye and understand that, you know, I am running out of time.

    The post These teens are suing Oregon to force action on climate change appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Barack Obama signs the so-called Medicare 'doc fix' bill in the Rose Garden at the White House on April 16, 2015.  The bill is one of several recent bipartisan agreements reached by Congress. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    President Barack Obama signs the so-called Medicare ‘doc fix’ bill in the Rose Garden at the White House on April 16, 2015. The bill is one of several recent bipartisan agreements reached by Congress. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Suddenly, bipartisanship has broken out on Capitol Hill.

    On Iran, Medicare, education and trade, Republicans and Democrats have come together to make deals, and that’s something rarely seen lately.

    “It’s great,” Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said after the Senate followed the House’s lead this past week in overwhelmingly passing a bill overhauling the Medicare payment system for doctors. “There’s just a huge pent-up demand to actually get something done, on both sides.”

    The same day as the Medicare vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved legislation empowering Congress to review and possibly reject an emerging Iran nuclear pact. Those breakthroughs were followed two days later by unanimous approval of a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind education law in the Senate’s education committee, and the announcement of a long-sought bipartisan deal allowing President Barack Obama to negotiate trade accords for Congress’ review.

    Congress-watchers are applauding.

    “Democracy had a pretty good week, and it’s been a long time,” said Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

    But no one’s declaring partisan bickering over, and the moment may not last long, especially as campaigning picks up ahead of next year’s presidential and congressional elections.

    Indeed, even as lawmakers sealed deals on some issues, they were gridlocked elsewhere.

    Obama, at a news conference Friday, highlighted the contradiction. He hailed “some outbreaks of bipartisanship and common sense in Congress” and then bemoaned the Senate’s delay in approving his nominee for attorney general, federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch.

    “There are times where the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far,” Obama said. “Enough.”

    Lynch may get a vote as soon as this coming week. Lawmakers seem to be close to a compromise on a human trafficking bill that has bogged down on a dispute over abortion, and Republican leaders had decided to put off the Lynch vote until the trafficking measure was resolved – a linkage Democrats decried.

    That’s the kind of partisan head-butting that often seems more common and is certain to continue in the months ahead in some areas, such as negotiations on a combined House-Senate budget. Republicans in the House and Senate celebrated passing balanced budgets last month, but the nonbinding blueprints were approved over the protests of Democrats and without their votes.

    House Democrats also lamented as Republicans passed a repeal of the estate tax this past week, though several other low-profile IRS bills won bipartisan approval. The new Congress got off to an ugly start when lawmakers came perilously close to partially shutting down the Department of Homeland Security because of Republican objections to Obama’s executive actions limiting deportations for millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally, though the final vote to fund the department was bipartisan

    Yet amid such familiar disputes, lawmakers have also found opportunities to get along.

    In addition to the bills advanced this past week, Democrats joined with Republicans earlier in the year to send Obama measures such as a bill authorizing the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which the president vetoed, and one to extend a terrorism risk insurance program, which Obama signed.

    Grumet attributes the accomplishments in part to old-fashioned dealmaking and an institution-wide desire to claim some achievements.

    Republicans who took control of the Senate in January and increased their majority in the House say they have tried to allow Congress to function more openly, with more work done at the committee level and more chances for lawmakers of both parties to offer amendments.

    “We’re getting the Senate up and running and back functioning again, and we’re on the cusp of passing some very significant legislation on a bipartisan basis that we can put on the president’s desk,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in an interview.

    Democrats are reluctant to give too much credit to the GOP, noting that there were also bipartisan achievements under Democratic control, such as Senate passage of an immigration overhaul in 2013, although it died in the House. Some Democrats said the GOP, and Congress, are benefiting from low expectations after a period of partisan gridlock ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

    “It’s like we set the standard at the idea that there’s never any bipartisanship, so now that there’s some bipartisanship we’re acting like it’s the beginning of a big new era,” said Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

    Congress’ ability to deliver in a bipartisan fashion will be tested in the weeks ahead. Lawmakers face tough tasks in getting the education and trade bills to Obama. Also, there are deadlines ahead for action on the highway trust fund, the Export-Import bank, the nation’s borrowing limit and the annual spending bills needed to fund the federal government.

    There is hope for legislation on cybersecurity, but scant expectations of major legislative achievements beyond the must-do items.

    Still, the recent bipartisan legislating has some people believing Republicans and Democrats do remember how to work together.

    “Without venturing a prediction, I have high hopes,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. “We’ve got a lot more work to do.”

    The post Rare bipartisanship breaks out on Capitol Hill appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Smoke stacks from the NRG power plant outside of Jewett, Texas.  Photo by Nick Simonite/Associated Press

    Smoke stacks are seen from the NRG power plant outside of Jewett, Texas. An Oregon-based environmental group is using a legal strategy called “atmospheric trust litigation” to try to force governments to take action on climate change. Photo by Nick Simonite/Associated Press

    A new take on climate-change activism is spreading across the globe.

    Frustrated by the slow pace of progress, an Oregon-based environmental group is using a novel legal strategy called “atmospheric trust litigation”  to try to force governments to take action on climate change.

    The group is using an ancient legal theory called the “public trust doctrine” to argue governments must take broad steps to protect the atmosphere.

    The group we profile on Saturday’s NewsHour Weekend, Our Children’s Trust, has brought lawsuits against the federal government and 15 states, but many of them have been dismissed.

    While some state judges have been receptive to the idea that atmosphere could be considered a natural resource, no judge has yet forced a state government to take such action.


    What do you think? Take our poll above and weigh in in the comments section.

    The post Poll: Should courts hold states accountable for climate change? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A middle school-aged Juliana attends a lecture on climate change at the University of Oregon. Photo courtesy of Kelsey Juliana.

    Nineteen-year-old environmental activist Kelsey Juliana has a message for the state of Oregon: You’re not doing enough to stop climate change.

    Now in college, she’s co-plaintiff in a major lawsuit spearheaded by environmental advocacy non-profit Our Children’s Trust that could force the state of Oregon “to take a more aggressive stance against the carbon emissions warming the earth and destroying the environment.”

    Our Children’s Trust has backed suits in other states, but none have been successful so far.

    An activist since elementary school, Juliana says she’s fighting to protect the environment for the future of her generation. And she’s making sure her voice is being heard.

    This Q&A has been edited for space and clarity from an interview with the NewsHour’s Megan Thompson.

    PBS NEWSHOUR: How did you get involved in all of this environmental advocacy work? Is this an issue that’s always been important to you?

    KELSEY JULIANA: Yes. Environmental activism and social justice work have been basic morals in my family. Fighting for the good fight and protecting things that we care about is something that’s part of my family since birth, I guess you could say.

    I’ve been doing climate activism work since 5th grade. That started with me getting my friends, my soccer team together and going to a local park and spending a day marching and holding up signs, asking for action on the climate crisis.

    NH: And was there a moment or a reason or something that happened and made you want to pick the fight for the climate change issue, specifically?

    KJ: In fourth grade, I fell in love with the panda bear. Then a couple years later, I fell in love with the polar bear, both of which were and still are on the endangered species list. And learning about the polar bear, specifically, in every aspect of their life – from how they grow, from how they search for food – is affected by climate change. And so, that’s kind of one of the ways that I really started caring about this issue.

    kj2

    Juliana took part in the People’s Climate March, a large-scale event to advocate for global action against climate change, on September 21, 2014 in New York. Photo courtesey of Kelsey Juliana.

    NH: Tell me about how you got involved in the lawsuit. 

    KJ: Well, I was in eighth grade, about to head off to high school, and I got a call to invite me to be a part of this youth-led movement. They were preparing to file a case in Oregon and they were looking for plaintiffs.

    And, you know, I was nervous at first because we’re talking about putting your name on a document that will forever be in a legal system that anyone can access at any time. But it is a testament to how serious this is to have youth ages 14, ages 11, ages, you know, four, to stand in court and say, “This is an issue that I care about. Why aren’t you acting? This is your job. Why aren’t you doing everything you can to ensure that these vital resources, necessary for my survival, are protected?”

    And we take it so seriously that we are willing to go through this legal system, to dedicate time to advocate for our Constitutional rights.

    NH: Did you know anything about the Public Trust Doctrine when you first got involved?

    KJ: I had never heard about the Public Trust Doctrine. But when they explained to me, it was like, “Well, duh.”

    The Public Trust just states that the government is a trustee, and they have a legal obligation to protect said resources – bodies of water, wildlife, the atmosphere – to protect them for current and future generations and to not allow them to be exploited upon and polluted and destroyed. It is part of our Constitutional rights.

    kj4

    Juliana, 14, speaks to a crowd in Eugene, Oregon, after taking part in a march for the International Day of Climate Action. Photo courtesy of Kelsey Juliana.

    NH: Some people would say, “You know what? Oregon is actually pretty progressive on these issues.” So, why file a lawsuit here in Oregon? 

    KJ: That’s an excellent question. That’s my question. Why file a lawsuit here in Oregon? Why do I have to fly from North Carolina, here to my beloved state to go to court for the third time when we are known to the rest of the states as being progressive, as being environmentally friendly, as being forward thinking?

    “This state that should be leading the rest of the country is still resisting the urgency of this crisis and is still pushing back against youth who are brave enough and smart enough to bring forth demands to ensure that their Constitutional rights are met.”

    Even if we were to halt all of our CO2 emissions now, we are still in line to face massive climate change from the amount of CO2 already emitted. For 30 to 40 years down the line. And we’re not slowing down. And that’s terrifying.

    So, we have an extreme urgency to act now and the government is sitting idly by. They’re taking measures according to what’s easiest and on their timeline, on their schedule. And that’s not okay.

    NH: Have you seen the effects of climate change here in Oregon?

    KJ: Yeah. In Oregon we’re really seeing the effects of ocean acidification. Fishermen are going out of business because shellfish are not surviving with this acidification. And so, a decrease in shellfish, a decrease in wildlife. In our tide pools we’re seeing erosion along our coastlines.

    We’re seeing less snowpack in our mountains, which in turn means less water runoff for the summer season, which means more droughts. And with warming temperatures, of course, you have an increase of wildfires when that’s not natural at that time and to the severity that we’re seeing.

    And of course, we’re also seeing flooding. Because of this less dense snowpack and the warming temperatures, it’s flooding sooner and then it’s dried out for the rest of the year.

    Juliana took part in a cross-country march for climate change awareness in 2014. Photo courtesy of Kelsey Juliana.

    Juliana took part in a cross-country march for climate change awareness in 2014. Photo courtesy of Kelsey Juliana.

    NH: Some of the lawsuits that have been filed in other states have been dismissed. Not necessarily on their merits, because some of the judges say, “You know what? This isn’t a decision for the courts to make. This is a political question that should be left up to governments, elected officials, state legislatures.” What do you say to that argument?

    KJ: I would say this issue should be left up to the executive and legislative branches. But they’re not doing their job. They’re not taking it seriously and they’re not acting now.

    So, now we have with the beautiful system of checks and balances an order to the courts to see the urgency of this and to take us seriously and to urge the other branches to put forth our demands and to recognize atmosphere as a resource that needs to be protected under the Public Trust Doctrine.

    NH: What has this entire experience been like for you? And what have you learned from all this?

    KJ: With this experience, it’s challenged me to be an advocate for myself. It’s challenged me to seek support, to welcome support, and demand support from a spectrum of people, intergenerational and to look to scientists, to look to parents, and to look to fellow peers to seek support from them, and advice from them, and encouragement.

    It’s been a pretty incredible process. I’ve spoken to at this point probably thousands of people, ages four to 90 and been to schools and film festivals and rallies. It’s a testament to the power of the people.

    The post Meet the teen suing Oregon for ‘resisting the urgency’ of climate change appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An automated kitchen that will create up to 2,000 meals from scratch is slated to go on the market in 2017.

    One caveat: the robot cannot taste the food.

    Image courtesy of Moley Robotics.

    Image courtesy of Moley Robotics.

    Earlier this week, attendees at the Hannover Messe industrial robotics trade show in Germany sampled crab bisque they had watched the chef prototype known as Moley (pronounced Molly) whip up with its robotic arms.

    “Because the robot uses my movements, uses human movements, it is actually surprisingly graceful and it cooks as a human would,” 2011 BBC “Master Chef” winner Tim Anderson said at the fair. “It’s not robotic in any way even though it is a robot.”

    Over several months, Anderson helped Moley Robotics bring the robotic chef to life by wearing special gloves that took 3-D recordings of his movements in preparing his recipe for crab bisque.

    Those movements were then converted into algorithms by teams from Shadow Robot Company and the University of Stamford, as well as SSSUP in Pisa, Italy. The algorithms were programmed into the robotic hands made by Shadow Robot, which has been developing the hands over the past 18 years.

    It took a total of two years and the efforts of various international companies to develop the robotic kitchen, which was the brainchild of Mark Oleynik, a scientist, engineer and founder of Moley Robotics.

    The company hopes to retail the automated kitchen for $15,000, excluding the cost of recipes, which consumers will purchase a-la carte.

    What do you think? Would you want a robotic kitchen if you had the option? Sound off in the comments below.

    The post Robot chef coming to a kitchen near you in 2017 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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