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

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    philly police2

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The death of a 25-year-old black man, Freddie Gray, in Baltimore is the most recent in a string of stories spotlighting use of force by police.

    Many cities across the country are trying to improve relations between police and the citizens they protect. In Philadelphia, a recent Justice Department report found nearly once a week over the past eight years Philadelphia police opened fire on suspects, who are almost always African-American.

    Hari Sreenivasan has more.

    TANYA BROWN-DICKERSON, Mother of Brandon Tate-Brown: On December 15, 2014, I was going to work. I got to work a little late. I got there, I want to say 6:26. And I was getting ready to cut my car off. And I heard a black male, on the radio, a black male, 26 years old, gunned down by police at the 6600 block of Frankford Avenue, driving a white Dodge Charger.

    So when I heard that, unfortunately, I knew that it was my son.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Last December, Tanya Brown’s son Brandon Tate-Brown had been killed, shot by Philadelphia polices, after being pulled over for driving with his headlights off.

    TANYA BROWN-DICKERSON: To know that my son suffered like that and that I wasn’t there to protect him or lay my body on him, and them probably kill me too, it breaks my heart. I’m his mother. And I couldn’t do nothing to help him.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Tanya Brown is not alone in her pain. There have been 394 shootings involving the Philadelphia police since 2007. In many years, the department saw more police shootings than New York City, a city that is five times its size.

    Charles Ramsey is the Philadelphia police commissioner.

    CHARLES RAMSEY, Commissioner, Philadelphia Police Department: There are changes that need to be made. And we need to make them. And we can’t ignore them and pretend as if everything’s OK, because it’s not.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Two years ago, Ramsey recognized the crisis, and commissioned the U.S. Department of Justice to review Philadelphia’s police shootings. The report documents the harsh reality that has plagued this city and included 91 recommended changes.

    CHARLES RAMSEY: You know, we have done a good job in lowering crime in this country. But what we weren’t very good at was understanding the consequences of some of the police actions and the collateral damage. You may have reduced or suppressed crime, but have you alienated the larger community?

    And if the answer to that is yes, then you need to reevaluate your tactics and your strategies.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The new guidelines involve a series of changes in training, oversight and transparency. Commissioner Ramsey has pledged to rebuild the trust and uproot the tense culture between police and the poor communities where they serve.

    CHARLES RAMSEY: That’s success, is when we don’t have the kind of conversations we are having today that are really centered around mistrust. And it’s not just mistrust of police. It’s mistrust of the entire system. And that’s got to change.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But these changes are far from a reality, and the death of Tanya Brown’s son is a prime example. While the department says it is working on transparency, it refuses to publicly name the officers involved or to release the full video of the shooting.

    It said that Brown was shot after lunging for a gun found in the passenger seat of his vehicle. But his mother, who has seen the video in private, has publicly disputed this interpretation. Last month, it was announced that the two officers in Brown’s shooting wouldn’t face charges.

    That same evening, Commissioner Ramsey, the district attorney and other officials attended a community event in North Philadelphia. Protesters upset by the Brown shooting rallied.

    ASA KHALIF, Protester: We were fired up. We were there to ask those questions, who killed Brandon Tate-Brown, and to demand for the tapes to be released.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The incident now symbolizes the divide between the police and its citizens.

    T.J. Ghose teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.

    TOORJO GHOSE, University of Pennsylvania: You saw what happened when Chief Ramsey went out into the community and tried to have a conversation. Right?  There’s anger. And there’s justifiable anger. So it has to be not the police talking at the community or the community shouting back. Right?  It has to be across the table, where people feel like their voices are being heard and that they are actually implementing policy right there at the table.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The tension is not new.

    Thirty years ago, the Philadelphia police bombed the house of a radical activist group. For some Philadelphians, that was the beginning of a pattern of intimidation by police. Incidents of excessive force, like what happened on this very street corner in 2010, only continued to deepen the mistrust that the citizens of Philadelphia had with their police.

    This video captured Askia Sabur, a North Philadelphia resident, being beaten by police in 2010.

    ASKIA SABUR, West Philadelphia Resident: He police split the back of my head. I had six staples, messed my back up, to the point where I can’t walk straight. Sometimes, my — my — the alignment in my spine gets crooked. So, he really did a number on me.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: After 18 months in jail, Sabur was acquitted of all charges and won an $850,000 settlement against the Philly police.

    BISHOP DWAYNE ROYSTER, Executive Director, P.O.W.E.R. Philadelphia: For far too long, police departments around the country have been, sort of, you know, you can’t touch them. We need the police. And we have created a system where the police officers are above the law. And we can no longer allow them to do that. They have to operate within the law, just as much as we expect every other citizen to operate within the law.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A lifelong Philadelphian, and regular here at the Temple Rainbow Diner, Bishop Royster wasn’t surprised when he read the Justice Department report.

    BISHOP DWAYNE ROYSTER: As a black man in Philadelphia, I’m like, yes, sure, this is it, absolutely, and was frightened and concerned about what we were reading about the internalized operations of the Philadelphia Police Department.

    It always appeared that our best choice was always lethal force, instead of trying to find other ways to work with those in the community that were committing crimes.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The commissioner cites the violence during the community meeting as a reason not to release officers’ names.

    CHARLES RAMSEY: It was all caught on tape by media and chairs being thrown and so forth. And I’m going to turn around and give you the names of two police officers and think that there’s not going to be any negative consequences?  Nah.

    I’m not saying it’s perfect. And I’m sure I get a lot of criticism around that, and that’s fine. But I have to also do what I think is — in this case, is in everyone’s best interests, at least as far as from my perspective.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But, from Tanya Brown’s perspective, she’s been left with nothing but questions.

    TANYA BROWN-DICKERSON: You couldn’t tase him and handcuff him?  Was it necessary to shoot him not in the leg or arm?  You felt it necessary?  You’re trained. You know how to shoot. It had to be in his head right here, above his ear?  It had to be?  No. I don’t think my son should be dead right now.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A belief that binds a mother, the police and the community.

    I’m Hari Sreenivasan for the PBS NewsHour in Philadelphia.

     

    The post Can police reform happen in Philadelphia? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A follower of Houthi group raises weapon as he stands on vehicle on damaged street, caused by an air strike that hit nearby army weapons depot, in Sanaa

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We take a closer look at Iran’s role in Yemen and its nuclear negotiations with the U.S.

    Joining me is Thomas Erdbrink, The New York times’ Tehran bureau chief, some of whose video reports we’ve aired on the NewsHour.  He’s in New York this week.

    Thomas Erdbrink, thank you for joining us.

    We have heard the Iranians deny they’re supplying the Houthis with weapons, but we know the U.S. says that they are doing that, they have been doing that. We know the U.S. warships in the area are watching Iran ships to make sure they don’t continue that. Why doesn’t Iran just acknowledge what it’s doing?

    THOMAS ERDBRINK, The New York Times: Well, I think the Iranians, throughout the past decade, have been very covert about the way they have been supporting groups in either Afghanistan or Iraq.

    And they apply the same policy in Yemen. I also think we shouldn’t exaggerate the level of this military assistance. On one hand, you have the Saudis, who are leading a coalition of 10 countries who are attacking Yemen with warplanes. And the Iranians are potentially sending weapons, but I don’t think we should expect that these weapons are of the highest standard or quality, not because the Iranians don’t have them, but just they’re — as you said yourself, there’s so much scrutiny, it’s hard for them to physically bring these weapons to Yemen.

    And then I have been in Yemen once. It is a country awash with weapons. So I also don’t know how many weapons the Iranians would actually need to send.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do the Iranians view the war in Yemen, and do they see this as a much bigger conflict between themselves than Saudi Arabia?

    THOMAS ERDBRINK: Well, the Iranians have been in competition with the Saudis in the region for a very long time, basically from the time of the shah.

    But, recently, you know, following the withdrawal of the United States from the region out of Iraq, partly of Afghanistan, Iran has been filling up this vacuum. And this, of course, has been scaring the Saudis, who first started with an engineering a drop in oil prices, something that also hits the U.S. economy, but at the same time hits the Iranian economy, which is already under sanctions.

    Now, the Iranians feel that their support for the Houthis is legitimate. I mean, you can doubt it, but they are saying Houthis are fighting for freedom, they are fighting with leaders of a country that has basically been collapsing over the past years. So their fight is a legitimate fight. And again they are pointing at what they call the double standards.

    They’re saying, look, the Saudis are attacking this country with airplanes, causing a lot of civilian victims, and our support is not that bad.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me turn you now to the nuclear issue. We know the talks resumed today in Vienna between Iran and other world powers over what’s going to happen with Iran’s nuclear program.

    We heard an Iranian official say — repeating what the ayatollah said the other day, and that is that they expect sanctions, economic sanctions, to be lifted as soon as this agreement is completed. The U.S. and others are saying, no, it’s going to happen in stages. What do the Iranians really expect in that regard and what about the Iranian people, the Iranian public? What are they looking for?

    THOMAS ERDBRINK: Well, just to start with that last group, the Iranian public, ordinary people, they are waiting for the sanctions to be lifted yesterday, of course, so they want the sanctions to be lifted.

    If you look at Iran’s leaders, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the man who calls the shots in Iran, he has been arguing that on the first day of the signing of this agreement, all sanctions must be lifted.

    Now, the foreign minister and the other officials, the people who are actually at the negotiating table, they are taking a different approach. They’re saying the sanctions must be lifted on the day this agreement is implemented.

    Now, there might be months, possibly a year between the signing of the agreement and the implementation of the agreement. So that gives, in my sense, enough wiggle space for all parties to come up with a reasonable compromise.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quick last question about The Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who has been in jail for nine months in Iran. We have heard just this week the Iranians leveled — say they have imposed — or have leveled four charges, serious charges against him, including espionage.

    What is expected will happen with this case?

    THOMAS ERDBRINK: Well, let me first state that Jason Rezaian, first and foremost, is a friend of mine and my successor at The Washington Post, where I worked four years before I got to — went to The New York Times.

    And these charges that have been leveled against him must be proven in a court of law. And according to Iranian law, the charges had to come way sooner than this. The court case needs to come very soon. I spoke to Jason’s brother the other day. He also is expecting a court case. And this has taken very long.

    If the Iranians are so convinced that Jason Rezaian is a spy, something I have never seen from him, then, OK, let them prove it in a court of law.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we are — there is so much to keep an eye on.

    And, Thomas Erdbrink, we thank you for talking to us while you’re in New York. We appreciate it.

    THOMAS ERDBRINK: Thanks for having me.

    The post How Iran views Yemen conflict, nuclear sanctions appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to Yemen, where hopes of a cease-fire seem farther away, as violence continues.

    For a month, airstrikes by Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies pounded Shiite Houthi rebels across Yemen. Then, late Tuesday, the Saudi military announced the end of the U.S.-backed air campaign, but with this caveat:

    BRIG. GEN. AHMED ASSERI, Saudi-led Coalition Spokesman (through interpreter): The coalition will continue in preventing the Houthi militias from moving or undertaking any operations inside Yemen.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, indeed, within hours, the coalition struck targets in Taiz, after the Houthis captured an army base there. At least a dozen other airstrikes hit areas across Southern Yemen.

    This afternoon, in Washington, the Saudi ambassador to the United States defended the renewed bombing.

    ADEL AL-JUBEIR, Ambassador, Saudi Arabia: When the Houthis or their allies make aggressive moves, there will be a response. The decision to calm matters now rests entirely with them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, thousands of Houthi supporters turned out to declare their defiance.

    MAN: I would like to inform all the alliance that all the Yemeni people will not be affected by any of their rockets or attacks ever. We will keep fighting.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Houthis did release Yemen’s defense minister, who joined exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Saudi Arabia. Rebel leaders also called for peace talks. And the State Department said the Obama administration has told the Saudis it supports negotiations as well.

    MARIE HARF, State Department Spokeswoman: The Saudis make their own decisions certainly in conjunction with their coalition partners, but we have been having a conversations. The Saudis understand that the path forward here needs to be dialogue.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, in Shiite Iran, the parliament speaker challenged the Saudis to defend killing hundreds of people in Yemen.

    ALI LARIJANI, Ambassador, Saudi Arabia (through interpreter): What has happened in Yemen over the last 27 days? The Saudi government should be asked, what have you achieved, after all this fuss, when you said in your statement that you have achieved your goals?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Iran supports the Houthi rebels, but has denied supplying them with weapons.

    The post Saudi Arabia restarts airstrikes hours after stopping appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 6.19.08 PM

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: A federal judge in Philadelphia today approved the National Football League’s settlement of thousands of concussion lawsuits. It could cost $1 billion over 65 years, but the NFL has dropped an earlier cap on total damages. An estimated 6,000 former players who develop Alzheimer’s or moderate dementia will get an average of $190,000 each.

    The U.S. Senate has passed legislation to help victims of sex trafficking 99-0. Today’s vote followed a lengthy dispute over abortion funding. The end to the impasse clears the way for a vote tomorrow on the president’s nomination of Loretta Lynch to be U.S. attorney general.

    Italian naval vessels saved yet another group of migrants today in the Mediterranean. Nearly 450 people, including 59 children, were brought to the Sicilian port of Augusta. They’d been rescued off Italy’s southern coast.

    In Rome, the Italian prime minister appealed for the European Union to stop smugglers and recognize the migrants are desperate.

    MATTEO RENZI, Prime Minister, Italy (through interpreter): The central point is that when a person is ready to risk his own life, when he’s ready to put his life at risk because he needs to get out from a situation where he could be beheaded, you cannot discourage the departures with a simple statement. You do it by taking action.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: E.U. leaders are set to hold an emergency summit tomorrow, days after some 800 migrants drowned off Libya.

    More than 100,000 people marched in Ethiopia’s capital today. They protested the killing in Libya of 30 Ethiopian Christians who’d been trying to reach Europe. A video released Sunday showed Islamic State militants shooting and beheading the victims. Today’s protesters vowed to fight terror. They also condemned Ethiopia’s chronic poverty, and some fought with police, who fired tear gas to disperse them.

    The European Union accused Russia’s state-owned energy giant today of price-gouging and monopoly practices. It was the latest sign of rising tensions between the E.U. and Moscow. The E.U.’s competition commissioner charged Gazprom is using its dominant position to strong-arm countries in Eastern and Central Europe.

    MARGRETHE VESTAGER, Competition Commissioner, European Union: Gazprom has been able to charge higher prices in some countries without fearing that gas would flow in from other countries, from resellers or where the prices were lower. What we have seen then in our data is that Gazprom has been charging what we think of as unfairly high prices.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Gazprom dismissed the accusations as unfounded.

    Back in this country, the Supreme Court is making it easier to sue the government for negligence. The justices ruled 5-4 today that deadlines for filing such lawsuits may be extended in some cases. It’s seen as a victory for military veterans whose medical malpractice claims are delayed by red tape.

    A federal appeals court has thrown out former baseball player Barry Bonds’ conviction for obstructing justice. The court, in San Francisco, also ruled that he will not be tried again. It said an answer he gave to a grand jury in 2003 had no bearing on a steroid investigation. Bonds was convicted in 2011, but he remained free while he appealed.

    This was the 45th annual Earth Day, and New York City marked the occasion with a plan to reduce its trash by 90 percent by the year 2030. Meanwhile, President Obama toured Florida’s Everglades National Park. He said a warming climate threatens the region, and he warned, action can no longer be delayed.

    It’s gotten more expensive to rent a home or apartment in the past year, and in some places, much more expensive. Real estate data firm Zillow reports prices climbed an average of 3.7 percent nationwide, but in San Francisco, they jumped almost 15 percent, to average more than $3,000 a month. Rents also spiked in Denver and Kansas City, but fell in Chicago and Minneapolis.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 88 points to close above 18000 again. The Nasdaq rose 21, and the S&P 500 added 10.

    The post News Wrap: Judge approves NFL concussion settlement appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    After William Shakespeare died, on this date in 1616, his contemporary, Ben Jonson, wrote that “He was not of an age, but for all time.”

    April 23 is believed to be the day of William Shakespeare's birth and death. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

    April 23 is believed to be the day of William Shakespeare’s birth and death. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

    Johnson was spot on, because nearly 400 years later, the Bard lives on in the era of the smartphone.

    That’s where the New York Shakespeare Exchange’s “Sonnet Project” fits in. Since 2013, the company has partnered with actors and directors from around New York City to film readings of his 154 sonnets. To date, they have recorded 102.

    Each video is uploaded to a mobile app, which then notifies users that a new video is available. Ross Williams, Founder and Artistic Director of the New York Shakespeare Exchange, says he hopes to reach 1 million viewers across the globe this way.

    “We realized early on that live programming has limitations: geographically, the size of a theater, how many performances we can host,” Williams said. “But with mobile technology, we can get it into people’s pockets all over the world.”

    Williams’ aim is to release the final video on this date — which is also believed to be Shakespeare’s birthday — next year.

    You may already be familiar with some Shakespearean poetry realizing it. Sonnet 18 begins with “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” And perhaps you read the tongue in cheek “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” (Sonnet 130, above) in a high school English class.

    The Sonnet Project hasn’t gotten to No. 18 yet. They’re waiting for the perfect actor, said Williams, for what is arguably Shakespeare’s most famous poem. But as the project has unfolded, releasing a new video every week for the past two years, they’ve gained momentum. Now well-known actors seek them out, for their chance to perform a classical text in an iconic New York setting. On Tuesday, the weekly video was of Tony-award winner Joanna Gleason reciting Sonnet 23 at the New Amsterdam Theatre:

    Indeed, the city of New York plays a role far greater than mere incidental backdrop. At the Project’s outset, each sonnet was paired to a specific location in the city, spanning all five boroughs and a swath of cultural and historic spots. Actors were sent to Grand Central Station (Sonnet 143), the Brooklyn Bridge (Sonnet 9) and Edgar Allen Poe’s cottage in the Bronx (Sonnet 67), to Yankee Stadium, Columbia University and Coney Island (Sonnets 13, 62, and 151, respectively). A map in the app drops a pin at each site, so users can sort the poems by geography.

    “It encapsulates the idea of melding the poetry of Shakespeare with the poetry of New York City,” Williams said.

    There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.

    He believes, too, that setting these storied, but sometimes challenging, words before a recognizable landscape will render them friendlier to a wide audience. “The locations serve as inspiration but also as a kind of grounding in a space that is … accessible to a lot of the world, because these locations are so well-known,” he said. “It allows us to look at the language of the sonnet with a new perspective.”

    And once a viewer becomes familiar with a sonnet, they can apply that comfort toward exploring the Bard’s other works, Williams said.

    “They’re a great gateway,” he said. “They’re little jewels of Shakespeare that can open up a larger experience.”

    The post 400 years after his death, Shakespeare’s sonnets live on in your smartphone appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Author Alex Myers recently spoke at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut at the school’s fifth annual gay-straight alliance conference. He’s the first conference presenter to be transgender. Video by PBS NewsHour

    Before there was a “T” in LGBT, Alex Myers had to fight for visibility. The abbreviation has since expanded, and the word “transgender” now has a solid foothold. But not long ago, there was no established community for transgender people.

    Alex grew up as Alice in a small rural town in Maine. Growing up, he barely knew what “gay” or “lesbian” meant. And it wasn’t until attending a queer support group as a rising high-school senior that he even heard the word “transgender.”

    He learned that being transgender meant someone whose sex assigned at birth is different from who they know they are on the inside. It’s also a word used by people that don’t belong to socially-defined gender categories.

    Soon after, Myers cut his hair short and asked people to refer to him using masculine pronouns. He came out as transgender in 1995, before his senior year at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. Myers was the first openly transgender student to attend Harvard University in 1996. And, this past Sunday, he was the first transgender speaker at Choate Rosemary Hall’s fifth annual gay-straight alliance conference.

    “If you can’t describe yourself, if you can’t look back in history and find people like you, if there are no words for who you are or what you feel, then you are invisible.”

    “In the 1950s, [Choate] was a community primarily of wealthy white males,” said Jim Yanelli, director of student activities at the high school, once the stomping ground for President John F. Kennedy during his high school years. “So, the community has evolved considerably over the past 50 or 60 years.”

    “There wasn’t a ‘T,'” Yanelli said. “There were gay kids, and then there were straight kids. We didn’t understand shades and variations.”

    When Connecticut passed anti-discrimination laws in 2011 that prohibited discrimination on the basis of “gender identity or expression,” Choate updated its school policy.

    Changes to the school’s non-discrimination clause “signaled to kids, who have thought of themselves as being on the fringe and somewhat hidden in the shadows, to be more welcomed at the table and more part of the conversation,” Yanelli said.

    Choate school officials also said that no parents have come forward to express concerns about its ongoing conference on sexual minorities and straight supporters, or “SMASS.” More than 50 students attended the conference, 18 of them from Choate.

    Before giving his talk, Myers, who worked to change Harvard’s own non-discrimination clause to include gender identity, spoke with some of the students from Sunday’s conference on the school soccer field.

    “It’s really nice to see the words written into the rule book,” Myers told the students. “Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students at Choate, they exist, and you’re making them visible.”

    Labels can allow us to claim our identity, he later added.

    “Words become, in a positive way, a vessel or container for who we are,” Myers said in his presentation. “If you can’t describe yourself, if you can’t look back in history and find people like you, if there are no words for who you are or what you feel, then you are invisible.”

    Thursday night on the NewsHour, Alex Myers, author of “Revolutionary,” shared his story with Hari Sreenivasan.

    The post ‘If there are no words for who you are, then you feel invisible’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man was arrested after landing a gyrocopter on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol . The small helicopter was painted with a U.S. Postal Service logo. Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

    A man was arrested after landing a gyrocopter on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol . The small helicopter was painted with a U.S. Postal Service logo. Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

    WASHINGTON — Members of Congress want security officials to explain how they determined that a small gyrocopter piloted by a Florida postal carrier didn’t pose a threat to the nation’s capital when it flew through miles of the nation’s most restricted airspace.

    “Multiple weapons” were aimed at the gyrocopter, but officials decided not to bring it down in part for fear of harming tourists and others on the National Mall, lawmakers said. The incident exposed a gap in efforts to ensure the security of the White House, the Capitol and other critical buildings in Washington.

    “It all ended safe. There was no loss of life. It’s their judgment call to make,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

    The panel plans to hold a hearing April 29 with representatives of six agencies charged with protecting Washington and its airspace: the Secret Service, U.S. Capitol Police, Congress’ Sergeant at Arms, the Federal Aviation Administration, North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, and the U.S. Park Police. Three of the agencies — the FAA, NORAD and the Park Police — were no-shows at a closed-door briefing Wednesday with panel members, irking the lawmakers.

    “They’ve got a lot of explaining to do” about why they did not attend the briefing, Chaffetz said.

    Pilot Doug Hughes, 61, is “lucky to be alive” and “should have been blown out of the air,” Chaffetz told reporters after the briefing.

    Chaffetz said security agencies tracked Hughes as he approached the Capitol after taking off from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. A combination of “lack of communication and some human error” by Capitol police and other officials allowed Hughes to steer his tiny aircraft across 30 miles of restricted airspace to within a few hundred feet of the Capitol before landing on the West Lawn, Chaffetz said.

    The Utah Republican said he was deeply concerned at what he described as a near-miss in “a no-fail mission” for security agencies.

    Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the committee’s top Democrat, called the incident a “wake-up call” to all law enforcement agencies involved. Capitol police, the Secret Service and other agencies need “to look very carefully at what happened here, dissect it, figure it out and use this to make things better,” he said.

    Cummings, Chaffetz and other lawmakers said they were outraged that members of Congress were not alerted to the potential security threat even as parts of the Capitol complex were placed under lockdown.

    “That’s inexcusable,” Chaffetz said.

    Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., chair of the House Administration Committee, said information must be delivered quickly and accurately during an emergency to ensure the safety of the public, staff and members of Congress.

    “Bottom line, there is no room for error when responding to any potentially dangerous situation” said Miller, who also attended the briefing.

    Lawmakers were told during the briefing that “incursions” into the restricted air space around Washington occur nearly every day and are usually “dealt with in a smooth and professional manner,” Chaffetz said, in stark contrast to the gyrocopter incident.

    Hughes’ stunt was aimed at drawing attention to campaign finance reform. He was charged with two federal crimes, violating restricted airspace and operating an unregistered aircraft, crimes that carry penalties of up to four years in prison and fines. His next court appearance is May 8.

    The post Congress questions Capitol security after gyrocopter incident appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty.

    Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty.

    A new Kansas law restricts the ways in which recipients of government assistance can spend their benefits. While many states have placed restrictions on how benefit cards can be used, prohibiting purchases such as alcohol, tobacco products and adult entertainment, the Kansas law goes further, banning the purchase of items ranging from lingerie to movie tickets. The law also limits ATM withdrawals of cash assistance to $25 per day. Similar legislation has been proposed in Missouri pertaining to that state’s food stamp program. The Missouri law would prevent food stamp recipients from buying cookies, chips and other junk food items, but also seafood and steak.

    Supporters of these laws argue that state governments have a right to control the way funds they distribute are allocated. Dissenters claim the restrictions undermine government assistance programs and serve to dehumanize the nation’s poorest citizens. We invited you to weigh in on Twitter. Attorney Chelsi P. Henry (@chelsiphenry), who has written about how her own family’s experience with welfare has led her to support the Kansas and Missouri laws, joined the conversation, along with representatives of the advocacy group Kansas Action For Children (@KansasAction). Read the full conversation below.

    The post Twitter chat: Should the government tell welfare recipients how to spend their money? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The House committee created to investigate the attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012 has called upon former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify about her email servers in May. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

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

    WASHINGTON — The chairman of a House committee investigating the 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, has called former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to testify next month, setting up a high-profile showdown over Clinton’s use of a private email account and server while she was secretary of state.

    Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina says he wants Clinton to testify the week of May 18 and again before June 18. The first hearing would focus on Clinton’s use of private emails; the second on the September 2012 attacks that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

    Gowdy’s action comes a day after the GOP-led panel signaled its final report could slip to next year, just months before the presidential election. Clinton is the leading Democratic candidate.

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    Alexia Daskalakis was fired from her job at retailer Forever 21 while she was transitioning to a woman, and now she is suing her former employer. Despite Olympian Bruce Jenner's reported decision to transition to a woman, Americans still hold many misconceptions about the transgender community. Photo by Susan Watts/Getty Images

    Alexia Daskalakis was fired from her job at retailer Forever 21 while she was transitioning to a woman, and now she is suing her former employer claiming her bosses constantly mocked her. Despite the national shift toward more acceptance for people with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, many misconceptions remain about people who are transgender. Photo by Susan Watts/Getty Images

    More Americans than ever know someone who is transgender. In a new survey by the Human Rights Campaign, 22 percent of survey respondents said they know or work with someone who is transgender, an increase from 17 percent last year. Those people also showed a much more positive outlook on the transgender community, with 66 percent expressing “favorable feelings” toward transgender people, as opposed to 13 percent of people who do not know a transgender person.

    But transgender identity is still widely misunderstood. We spoke with experts and activists within the transgender community to address some common misconceptions.

    1. “Transgender” is an umbrella term that encompasses many identities

    The transgender community is large, varied and includes people who have a diverse set of relationships to their gender. People throughout history have explored a wide range of gender identities, according to Susan Maasch, director of Trans Youth Equality.

    “Gender is … this deeply felt thing about who you are and how you identify.” — Susan Maasch, director of Trans Youth Equality
    “There’s a transgender movement to get people to really understand that the spectrum exists. It always has been there. The difference is good and rich and we just need to honor it,” Maasch said.

    The word “transgender” gained popularity in the 1990s as an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and expression did not necessarily match the gender they were assigned at birth, according to Susan Stryker, an associate professor of gender studies at the University of Arizona. “It became a catch-all term for anybody who differed in any way from conventional expectations of gender,” she said.

    In contrast, to be “cisgender” means that a person’s gender identity does align with the gender they were assigned at birth, according to Morgan Darby, director of professional development and partnerships at Gender Spectrum, a group that advocates and educates on gender issues.

    Being cisgender awards certain privileges, Darby said. “Cisgender privilege is the recognition that you have the ability to move through the world or through a community in daily interactions without ever having to be interrupted by an obstacle that suggests your gender is not right,” she said.

    2. Sex and gender are different

    The difference between sex and gender is frequently misunderstood, according to Nancy Nangeroni, former chair of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. “A lot of people have no clue that these are not the same thing,” she said.

    A person’s “sex” refers to their anatomy and biological characteristics, including reproductive organs, hormones and chromosomes. These traits distinguish them as male-sexed, female-sexed or intersex, which refers to people whose biological traits are a combination of male and female sex characteristics. “Human bodies come into the world in all kinds of diverse ways, including not being easily classified as male or female,” Stryker said.

    Gender, on the other hand, refers to traditional societal roles, behaviors and activities that men and women are expected to perform, according to Jay Brown, Director of Program Strategies at the Human Rights Campaign.

    Some transgender people may choose to pursue sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy, but transition is multi-layered, Brown said. Transition can include social transitioning, legal transitioning and medical transitioning.

    Medically transitioning is a highly individual choice and it is offensive to ask someone if they have done so, Darby said. “It is so invasive,” she said. “Why does that matter to us, to know what someone is choosing to do with their own body?”

    3. Sexuality and gender are different

    A person’s gender does not determine their sexuality, and just because someone transitions their gender does not mean that their attractions necessarily change, Maasch said. “Gender is … this deeply felt thing about who you are and how you identify. That’s a separate issue from who you want to be romantically involved with and who you’re sexually attracted to,” she said.

    For some transgender people, their gender and sexuality are related, but one does not always decide the other, Stryker said. “Sexual orientation is a sense of, who are you attracted to, what kind of person are you attracted to? Gender identity is a question of, who do I think I am? And so those are just not the same things,” she said.

    4. There are more than two genders

    The list of gender identities is vast and diverse, and cultures throughout history have commonly recognized genders other than male and female. When most people think about gender, they think of a binary that includes only the male and female genders, but many people identify outside of those two genders or as a mix between the two, Brown said.

    “Some people think of gender as a spectrum between male and female and there’s room between,” he said. “And some people feel like a spectrum is not a good metaphor for their identities. They may identify as genderfluid or genderqueer.”

    Other transgender people do identify with the binary and identify as male or female, Stryker said.

    5. There are more pronouns than “he” and “she”

    Some people in the transgender community may choose to use pronouns other than “he” or “she” to refer to themselves, according to Kylar Broadus, executive director of the Trans People of Color Coalition. Dozens of options exist, including zhe, ze, zed and they.

    The English language does not always reflect an existing gender spectrum, Darby said. “Our understanding of language has been situated on a binary model that [only] recognizes male and female identities,” she said. In response, people commonly use non-binary pronouns “to challenge the existing norm as well as to affirm their actual identity [and] who they know themselves to be,” she said.

    The best way to determine what pronouns to use is to ask the person you’re referring to what they prefer, Darby said.

    6. The phrase “born a man” or “born a woman” is not always correct

    Doctors typically assign babies a gender at birth based on their anatomy and biological characteristics, but people may realize that their gender differs from their assigned label, Maasch said. Transgender people describe their experiences in many different ways, and some prefer to use the term “assigned at birth” to describe the gender society placed on them.

    The most important way to honor a person’s gender identity is to respect their description of it, Darby said. “They always have known who they are. They are their best spokespeople for their own experience.”

    The post Here’s what most people get wrong about the transgender community appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Jeni's sweet corn with blackberry ice cream. Photo by Bonnie Trafelet/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images

    Jeni’s sweet corn with blackberry ice cream. Photo by Bonnie Trafelet/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — A second ice cream company has shut down production this week after health officials found listeria in a sample of its frozen treats.

    Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams of Ohio said on its website that it recalled its frozen products. The action follows a similar action by Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries Monday. Blue Bell’s ice cream was linked to 10 listeria illnesses in four states and three deaths.

    It wasn’t immediately clear if the recalls are connected. Listeria isn’t commonly found in ice cream, since the bacteria can’t grow at freezing temperatures. The FDA did not have a comment on the recall.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there are no known illnesses linked to Jeni’s products. In an online statement, the company said it is recalling all ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets, and ice cream sandwiches and closing retail stores until its products are “ensured to be 100 percent safe.”

    The Nebraska Department of Agriculture found listeria in a sample of Jeni’s ice cream it had randomly collected at a Whole Foods in Lincoln, Nebraska.

    “We will be working with our suppliers to determine if the bacteria was introduced by one of the ingredients we use,” said John Lowe, the company’s CEO. “We will not reopen the kitchen until we can ensure the safety of our customers.”

    Jeni’s said the recalled ice cream was distributed in the United States to retail outlets, including food service and grocery stores, as well as online at jenis.com. The recall includes all products bearing the brand name “Jeni’s.”

    Listeria generally only affects the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, pregnant women and their newborn infants. It can cause fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal symptoms.

    The bacteria is found in soil and water that can be tracked into a facility or carried by animals. It can be very difficult to get rid of once it contaminates a processing facility, partly because it grows well in refrigeration. It is commonly found in processed meats, unpasteurized cheeses and unpasteurized milk, and it is sometimes found in other foods as well — listeria in cantaloupes was linked to 30 deaths in a 2011 outbreak.

    The post Jeni’s ice cream recalls all products for possible listeria contamination appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    nhshares

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

    Editor’s note: It was incorrectly stated that Shakespeare was born 401 years ago. He was born 451 years ago. 

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

    For literature lovers – it’s Shakespeare day.

    When the bard died on this day in 1616, he left behind 154 sonnets.

    The “New York Shakespeare Exchange” a group that brings Shakespeare to modern audiences – has been making short films of those poems, using different actors and locations across the city.

    Historians believe Shakespeare was also born on this day 401 years ago.

    To mark the occasion we compiled some sonnets you might recognize.

    Here’s a look.

    ACTRESS: Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments.

    ACTOR: When my love swears that she is made of truth I do believe her, though I know she lies, that she might think me some untutor’d youth, unlearned in the world’s false subtleties.

    ACTOR: When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, and look upon myself, and curse my fate.

    ACTRESS: O let my books be then the eloquence and dumb presagers of my speaking breast, who plead for love and look for  recompense more than that tongue that more hath more express’d. O, learn to read what silent love hath writ: to hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit.

    The post Turning Shakespeare’s sonnets into short films appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FRANK TALK monitor Barney Frank

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    GWEN IFILL: Next: a profile of a crusading voice on financial reform who also became a public figure in the debate over gay rights.

    It’s the story of former Congressman Barney Frank, son of a mob-connected New Jersey father. He went on to Harvard and to volunteer as a Freedom Rider in Mississippi. His public and private story, including his long tenure as a lawmaker, is the subject of his new autobiography.

    Economics correspondent Paul Solman caught up with him in Boston for tonight’s installment of Making Sense, which airs every Thursday on the NewsHour.

    PAUL SOLMAN: For 32 years, perhaps the country’s most controversial, quick-witted congressman, Barney Frank, now improbably lolling in semi-retirement.

    But for almost half-a-century, his was one of the America’s loudest voices for progressive policies, both economic and social, a devotee of using government to help redress inequality.

    His new autobiography sums up his half-a-century of effort, and the two stunning surprises of his long career, the revolution in attitudes toward government and sexuality.

    So, you start out, government in high repute, homosexuality…

    FORMER REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), Massachusetts: In low repute.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Contemptible.

    BARNEY FRANK: Yes.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And now it’s the other way around.

    BARNEY FRANK: Well, as I have said, by the time I retired in 2012, my marriage to my husband, Jim, got a much better public response than my chairmanship of the committee that wrote the financial reform bill.

    PAUL SOLMAN: When Frank began his political career here at Boston City Hall, it was unheard of to be openly gay. So, he remained in the closet, a bright-eyed Harvard-schooled reformist assistant to Boston Mayor Kevin White in 1968. His government goals?

    BARNEY FRANK: Personal freedom, an end to discrimination, particularly race at that time, because gay rights wasn’t even on the agenda, and diminishing economic unfairness.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Were you already conflicted about fighting for these things, while yourself hiding the fact that you were gay?

    BARNEY FRANK: Yes.

    Actually, it wasn’t — I didn’t feel the conflict so much at first, because it was just such a one-sided question. There was just no — there was no possibility of being openly gay and having any kind of an impact on the rest of the society. It just was so overwhelmingly anti.

    Remember, I already brought a lot of unconventionality to the table.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Yes.

    BARNEY FRANK: I was from New Jersey, I talked too fast, I came from a Harvard Ph.D. program, and I’m Jewish.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But when he won a seat here in the Massachusetts Statehouse, government was losing its luster.

    BARNEY FRANK: Yes, when I got to the legislature, government was a popular thing.

    I saw it begin to lose public support as the ’70s went on, as economic factors started to hurt the average American.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Interminable lines at the gas pump, rampant inflation and high unemployment at the same time, they prompted the defection of Democrats to Ronald Reagan and the Republicans.

    BARNEY FRANK: The people we have lost are working-class people. So, when their economic position, their relative economic position and, to some extent, their absolute economic position, deteriorates, they blame the government for not helping.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Frank now ran for, and won, a seat in Congress, his hair-trigger tongue soon getting national attention.

    Your wit, that certainly helped you, right?

    BARNEY FRANK: It does, in two ways.

    First of all, it keeps me from being bored out of my mind, which I would be in danger of doing in some cases. And, secondly, it’s a good weapon. People don’t like to be laughed at. So, if you can come up with something that makes other people laugh at the people you’re debating, they shy away.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Take this 2009 exchange at a town hall meeting about the Affordable Care Act.

    WOMAN: My question to you is, why do you continue to support a Nazi policy?

    BARNEY FRANK: I am going to revert to my ethnic heritage and answer your question with a question: On what planet do you spend most of your time?

    (LAUGHTER)

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    PAUL SOLMAN: As the quips and years ticked by, Frank became a champion of his party’s left wing and a frequent guest on this program, his shape and stature morphing with America’s views toward both public and private affairs.

    Finally, when, asked in a 1987 interview in the liberal Boston Globe if he was gay, he responded, “Yes. So what?” Two years later, his sexuality became a national scandal.

    A conservative newspaper revealed that Frank’s partner was running a male prostitution ring out of their apartment.

    BARNEY FRANK: There was, in my life, a central element of dishonesty for about 40 years.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Though censured by Congress and humiliated, Frank pressed gamely on, and was reelected in 1990, rose to become the powerful chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

    BARNEY FRANK: So, I become influential, frankly, partly because I have seniority, partly because I’m good at it, and one other reason, process of elimination.

    I continued to be a strong believer in liberalism and the government as a positive force, at a time when I didn’t have a lot of competitors.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And then came the crash of ’08.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Chairmen Barney Frank and Chris Dodd have worked day and night.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And Frank’s lead role in government, co-authoring the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, which increased regulation, created a new bureau to protect consumers. But it has subsequently been charged with adding onerous costs to the economy, and especially to smaller banks.

    You are the Frank of Dodd-Frank. There’s been huge criticism of that bill and some modification of it, no?

    BARNEY FRANK: Very little modification, one that dealt with the ability of banks to do their derivative activity within the bank. And that was — that was very controversial. But there have been no other legislative changes.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And has it worked? Hasn’t it worked?

    BARNEY FRANK: Oh, I think it’s worked very well so far.

    For example, I think the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been a great success. I believe that the financial institutions in America are much better capitalized now than they were before.

    PAUL SOLMAN: How hopeful are you about our economic future, median income stagnating, inequality widening, fewer jobs out there as robots take over?

    BARNEY FRANK: There are plenty of things, if we have the will, that we need to do for each other collectively, so we can hire people to do things, provide services, that we will be fine.

    I’m optimistic in the sense that I think it is doable, pessimistic about the near-term political prospects, but largely agnostic, because it doesn’t make a difference to me. I’m determined to do what I can to bring about these changes. Whether I’m hopeful or not hopeful, what else I got to do?

    PAUL SOLMAN: Well, working out, taking it easy. But the irony of Barney Frank’s career never leaves him.

    BARNEY FRANK: As I said, I started out with a great disparity between the popularity of homosexuality and the popularity of government. I ended my career with the same disparity, but the order had reversed.

    PAUL SOLMAN: This is economics correspondent Paul Solman, reporting for the PBS NewsHour from Boston, Massachusetts.

     

    The post How Barney Frank used government to fight inequality appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    armenians

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: One hundred years ago this week, as the Ottoman Empire was disintegrating, thousands of Armenians were rounded up and deported or executed. It was the beginning of a mass elimination of Armenian Christians from what is modern-day Turkey, killing an estimated one million, and driving millions more into exile.

    Today, some seven million Armenians live outside the tiny country of Armenia.

    Armenian-American photographer Scout Tufankjian spent years photographing and interviewing them in more than 20 countries, from Ethiopia to India, from Brazil to the United States.

    They’re the subject of her new book, “There Is Only the Earth: Images from the Armenian Diaspora Project.”

    Tufankjian sat down with NewsHour’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, Margaret Warner, in our New York studio to talk about the project.

    MARGARET WARNER: Scout Tufankjian, thank you for joining us and talk about this fascinating book.

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN, Photographer, “There Is Only the Earth”: Thank you.

    MARGARET WARNER: Now, what drew you to this project?

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: So, when I was a kid growing up in Massachusetts — and I’m going to show you a picture — I spent weekends with my grandparents, who are in the book.

    There’s my beautiful grandmother and my grandfather, who has got a dog and a goat, as one does.

    MARGARET WARNER: From 1948.

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: Exactly.

    So, I spent weekends with my Armenian grandparents. And we would go from house to house, visiting their friends, drinking some Armenian coffee or some tea. And I would go through the Armenian magazines and newspapers that were inevitably on the coffee table. And I would search for kind of glimpses of myself in an Argentinean soccer player or a Parisian schoolgirl.

    And I was always looking for the — this — the answer to this question, what do I have in common with these kids?  Is there any connection between our people, or have the kind of differing paths taken by our refugee grandparents and great-grandparents really changed us?

    MARGARET WARNER: And so what did you find?  I mean, is there a collective spirit?

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: Oh, definitely.

    It’s actually hard to define. And, as a photographer, I kind of tried to define it in images, which is what this book is. But there is a thread that ties this kid in Paris blowing bubbles at a wedding to, you know, this girl in Armenia, in the Republic of Armenia, who’s a traditional dancer to this Armenian girl in India who’s experiencing monsoon season for the first time.

    There is this thread that ties people together. Is it the religion?  Is it the language?  Is it the schools?  Is it the organizations?  Or is it something kind of more ephemeral?  Which is what I — I actually think it is. It’s — I talked to a women in Argentina and she said, it’s like belonging to a club that is invisible to everyone but the members.

    And I think that has a lot to do with the things that tie us together. It’s not — it’s not the genocide. Armenians don’t define themselves by the genocide. It’s this kind of sense of survival.

    MARGARET WARNER: So, you have a number of religious photographs here.

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: Yes.

    MARGARET WARNER: Talk to us about important the common Armenian Christianity is and how that transcends these continents.

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: Yes. OK.

    For one thing, having a church that belongs to just your community is something that keeps the community together. The Sao Paulo community, for instance, people used to live around the church. And now people live all over this huge massive city. But every Sunday, people get together with their fellow Armenians in mass.

    And so that alone can keep a community together. It keeps young people knowing the language, which is also hugely important. And it is also an incredibly beautiful — the music is beautiful. The mass is — the badarak is really — it is an incredible experience.

    MARGARET WARNER: This has been a diaspora that has gone on for — I mean, it’s been a hundred years.

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: Yes.

    MARGARET WARNER: How different and distinctive have the communities become, though, say, the large one in Brazil, which is one — you have a lot of images here from India, a lot from the United States.

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: Yes. Sure.

    The novelist Aline Ohanesian says, in America, I felt so Armenian, yet, in Armenia, I realized I am in many ways an American.

    And that is the kind of essential issue facing the identity. And of course people have been affected by their new countries. You can’t live somewhere for 100 years, you can’t be in exile for 100 years without being affected by the place in which you live, unless you’re in a situation like Lebanon, where there are external pressures to keep you apart from the other communities, interests case the Lebanese civil war.

    MARGARET WARNER: Some of your photos from Lebanon really show that sense of community.

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: Oh, yes. Absolutely.

    Lebanon — there is a village in Lebanon called Anjar that is — it’s very special to me. So, this picture is from my first trip to Anjar.

    MARGARET WARNER: Oh, yes. This is one of my favorites.

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: Yes.

    So, this is from a henna party. And it’s the night before the wedding. And the groom is right there. The groom’s family throws a party. And then, kind of midway through the party, everyone walks, parades with the musicians. We call this the dao zurna. It’s the old traditional instruments.

    And it’s this amazing tradition that they have kept. So the backstory with this village is that all of the people are from this area called Musala, which is the — or Musalair, as we call it.

    And it is the one place where the genocide has a happy ending, which is that the people from the village went up into the mountains and they held off the kind of onslaught for about 53 days, and then they were rescued by a French warship, because it is right on the Mediterranean, and so everyone lived.

    I felt very connected to my family in a way that I had throughout the whole project, but hadn’t — that was the most connected I had ever felt.

    MARGARET WARNER: But yet you have a photo in here of some Armenian Americans in L.A.

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: Oh, I love those kids. You have these kids and you had the palm trees and the car. This picture is actually quite controversial within the community. A lot of people have complained about it. And…

    MARGARET WARNER: Why?

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: Well, they say, these kids, you know, they don’t look like good Armenian boys. They don’t fit the image of what good Armenian boys are.

    But these kids are up early in the morning on a Saturday. They got all dressed up. They fixed up their cars because their Armenian identity is important to them. And this an April 24 march. It’s important to them.

    MARGARET WARNER: On the anniversary, a different anniversary.

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: Yes, exactly.

    And showing this kind of diversity is really a huge part of what this project is.

    MARGARET WARNER: Now, let me ask you this. Of course, there is this whole controversy about the genocide and the Turks’ unwillingness to call it a genocide and so on.

    How important is that to members of your generation?

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: Of course, we think genocide recognition is important, in the same way that I think everyone watching this probably thinks Holocaust recognition is important.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yes.

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: At the same time, I have never — I met hundreds and hundreds of Armenians throughout this project, and I have not met a single person who defines themselves solely by the genocide.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yes.

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: It is something that runs through our past, and it is something and is an important part of our history, but no one thinks that’s all we are.

    I think it’s more people in the outside world think, oh, Armenians, the genocide.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yes.

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: But, for us, we know we are more than that. And that’s…

    MARGARET WARNER: And that’s what you’re trying to tell in this book.

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: Exactly.

    We are mothers and children. We are schoolgirls. We are rugby players. We are lawyers. We are — we are just so much more than that, you know?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, Scout Tufankjian, thank you so much.

    SCOUT TUFANKJIAN: Thank you.

    The post Photographer connects Armenians displaced around the world appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    alex transgender piece

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    GWEN IFILL: Now we turn to the first in an occasional series on changing attitudes about being transgender in America.

    A new survey from the Human Rights Campaign shows more Americans, 22 percent, say they know or personally work with a transgender person. That’s up 17 percent from a year ago.

    Hari Sreenivasan has the story of one person’s transition and his efforts to change thinking and perceptions.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The soccer fields at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut turned into an outdoor classroom of sorts this past Sunday. High schoolers from area boarding schools gathered for the fifth annual conference on Sexual Minorities and Straight Supporters, or SMASS.

    ALEX MYERS, Author, “Revolutionary”: It’s really nice to see that written into the rule book and to see the words like gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender students at Choate. It’s like, oh, they exist.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Alex Myers was one of the speakers. He’s the first conference presenter to be transgender, and he uses his life story as a way of educating others about transgender issues.

    ALEX MYERS: I was pretty much a normal little girl.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Alex grew up as Alice in the small, rural town of Paris, Maine. He went to boarding school at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, and in the summer between his junior and senior years came out as transgender, a first for the school.

    In 1996, he was also the first openly transgender student to attend Harvard University, and he worked to change the university’s nondiscrimination clause to include gender identity. Twelve

    Twelve years ago, Alex married Ilona in a same-sex ceremony in Vermont. When his gender was legally changed to male, they had a second ceremony to ensure their union was by the book.

    At Choate, Myers’ story resonated with students.

    MILLY BATTLE, Senior, Choate Rosemary Hall: I just really admire him. I think it’s was really cool that he was able to do that in high school and is able to come back. In 1994, to be able to go to a place where he was the first ever person to do that, I just think that’s incredibly brave.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Myers takes his story to high school and college campuses around the country.

    And we caught up with him at American University in Washington, D.C., where he teaches at the Kogod Center for Business Communications.

    ALEX MYERS: Society told me I was a girl. My parents told me I was a girl. I wasn’t going to think that they were wrong, at the same time as I always felt I was or I wanted to be or I should be a boy.

    And transgender as a word is a really powerful sort of force in my life. It wasn’t until I heard that word, it wasn’t until I saw people who lived as transgender that I got, oh, that’s how you do it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What was that validation like, or what was it to hear about the fact that you weren’t strange, or you weren’t feeling…

    ALEX MYERS: Oh, I am strange.

    (LAUGHTER)

    ALEX MYERS: Let me correct that notion — and happy being so.

    Yes, it was exactly that. I think validation is the right word. That other people felt the way that I felt, and suddenly it was like there was a door where I had previously seen a wall.

    I haven’t had surgery. I have no plans to have surgery. But I do take testosterone. So, I’m both female, in the sense that I’m genetically female. In many ways, I’m biologically female, but, in some ways, I’m not, and I live as a man. So there’s a disconnect, some people might say, between my biological sex and my gender identity.

    And that, to me, is what it means to be transgender.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Why is that important?  I mean, in the sense that right now, if I was to walk by you on the street and you — how you express yourself is like a man, right?  We would probably — if I didn’t know anything about you, I would probably just make that assumption. I would probably treat you like I treat every man.

    Why is it important for me to know your history?

    ALEX MYERS: I don’t think it’s important for the casual encounter. That’s why I don’t wear a sandwich board to announce it on the — among other reasons — to announce it on the street.

    But I do think that if we’re going to be friends, if we’re going to be close, if we’re going to be colleagues who know each other and trust each other, it’s something you need to know about me, in the same way that eventually you would probably share opinions that at first you wouldn’t, you might share, whether they are political opinions, or you might share some of your family history.

    I think it’s part of becoming intimate and becoming close with another person. It’s a very crucial piece of my identity. It’s how I see and understand the world, in the same way that somebody’s religious beliefs or somebody’s upbringing might influence them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Part of Myers’ story is bound up in his first novel, “Revolutionary.” It’s the story of Deborah Sampson, a real-life ancestor of his who disguised herself as a man so she could fight in the Revolutionary War.

    ALEX MYERS: In order to be free and independent and self-governing, she had to be a man. So she got men’s clothes, cut her hair short and disguised herself as a man.

    I don’t know, if she’d had the word transgender, if she would have applied that to herself. But what I do know is that, in her life, what she was doing was putting on men’s clothing and living as a man, and it was a disguise. And there’s a profound difference between being disguised and being who you are.

    And that’s what transgender has let me do, right?  I live as who I am. And, in part, I am able to do that because I have that category, that container to hold my identity, transgender.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Transgender people are gaining visibility, at least in Hollywood. Several award-winning series showcase transgender characters. The Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” is one.

    AMY LANDECKER: I’m so glad you get to be who you are.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And Amazon has its own breakthrough critically-acclaimed series, “Transparent.”

    But Myers says, too often, Hollywood sensationalizes transgender stories.

    ALEX MYERS: Gays and lesbians and bisexuals are portrayed in the media, and it’s not glamorous. It’s just who they are. So trans-people aren’t there yet in the media depictions of them. We’re not just normal people. We’re always somewhat dramatic, still.

    When you can see it in your own town, when you can see, oh, that’s how a lesbian couple raises a child, all of a sudden, it’s very different, whether you share that identity or you don’t. All of a sudden, they are people, and they’re not abstractions. They’re not something that’s sensational on TV or something you read about in the newspaper, but they’re people that you live next to, and they become human beings.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what happens?  What’s necessary for that normative moment for transgender people?

    ALEX MYERS: I spent a summer working as a forest ranger in Wyoming. And I wasn’t out for that summer. I was just a guy. I was doing the same job as everybody else at the ranger station.

    At the end of that summer, I came out to my boss and told him. I felt it was important that he know. And he said, OK. He had a couple of questions about how I managed that and maybe a little bit about my childhood. And he said, great. Now, are you going to come back for next summer?

    And it was just like that. He knew me as a good worker and as a human being. And I think that’s how changes are made in this country about identity. Yes, there’s the big sort of legislation and Supreme Court cases about gay marriage, but those can cause just as much controversy and schism. And the real way you bring people together is by living in their communities, by being good citizens and by modeling who you are.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Myers is attempting to do just that.

    For the “NewsHour,” I’m Hari Sreenivasan in Washington.

    GWEN IFILL: On our home page, you can learn more about transgender issues, particularly questions people may have about the language we use. Plus, you can watch Alex Myers’ full speech to students at Choate.

    That’s at PBS.org/NewsHour.

     

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    MONEY TRAIL monitor hillary clinton

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Two news reports out today are raising questions about Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.

    The New York Times reported a company now known as Uranium One sought approval to sell control of the company to Russia’s atomic energy agency. The owners of that company donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. The State Department, headed by Hillary Clinton at the time, signed off on the sale.

    Also today, Reuters reported the Clinton Foundation and another family charity are refiling at least five annual tax forms due to errors. The foundation failed to include tens of millions of dollars in donations from foreign governments.

    Spokespeople for Clinton and the Clinton Foundation insist there is no wrongdoing.

    Well, we are joined now by New York Times Washington bureau chief and its political editor, Carolyn Ryan, and Reuters reporter Jonathan Allen, who broke the story.

    And we welcome both of you.

    Carolyn Ryan, let me start with you.

    The New York Times’ story today does describe a Canadian — a wealthy Canadian businessman. He’s the chairman of this company that owns significant uranium mining interests in the United States. He also happens to be making huge — large donations to the Clinton foundations. And then it turns to the move by the Russian atomic energy to buy controlling interest in that company. Fill us in from there.

    CAROLYN RYAN, The New York Times: Well, the nub, essentially, the ethical issue here is that this panel, U.S. government panel, was overseeing and had to sign off on this deal, and the donations that you speak of were not disclosed by the Clintons, as they agreed to do as part of the agreement that they set up with the Obama administration when Mrs. Clinton became secretary of state.

    So it was multimillion-dollar contributions that were not disclosed, leading up to this key vote on whether this deal could go through.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what is the Clinton campaign, what is the Clinton Foundation saying? We do have one statement that I guess they put out late this afternoon with regard to the Russian effort, which was successful, to buy a controlling interest in this company.

    It said: “Hillary Clinton herself did not participate in the review or direct the Department to take any position on the sale of Uranium One,” this company.

    Is that pretty much all they have said?

    CAROLYN RYAN: Well, they have been — some of their answers have been quite general and they haven’t answered a lot of our direct questions.

    This panel is one of the few in the United States government, in the federal government that is actually exempt from public records. So we’re not able to get any notes or minutes of these proceedings, and we don’t know a lot about the deliberations on the panel. So they have not provided us with a lot of information about what went on within the State Department about that.

    And we still don’t know why they didn’t disclose the contributions.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, quickly, there are still outstanding questions here.

    CAROLYN RYAN: Absolutely.

    There are a bunch of outstanding questions that we have put to them and that we’re hoping to get more answers to.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, Jonathan Allen with Reuters, let me turn to you now. Your story today is about mistakes in tax filings by the Clinton Foundation and by their — one of their charities that has to do with — it’s called the Health Access Initiative — and what they didn’t file. Tell us exactly what happened.

    JONATHAN ALLEN, Reuters: They made mistakes on several of their 990 forms. These are the forms charities have to send to the IRS every year to maintain their tax-exempt status.

    No taxes levied on this, of course, but one purpose of these documents is that anyone can sort of walk in, ask to see them to figure out how a charity is raising money, how a charity is spending money. The errors in this case were all to do with sort of the line on the form where you say how much you got in government grants, both U.S. and foreign. But the Clinton charities tend not to receive money from U.S. governments, federal, national, or state.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And is it known — excuse me — is it known from what sources the money came and how much?

    JONATHAN ALLEN: Well, this is actually what I was trying to pin down when I began stumbling across these errors.

    It’s certainly no secret that certain foreign governments continued to support foundation projects throughout this period. This is 2010 onwards, by the way. I believe Norway may be an example. Australia may be an example. And we know it’s to the tunes of tens of millions of dollars. That what it certainly was before 2010, which makes it all the more striking that sort of these breakouts weren’t included on these forms.

    But we will have to wait until the refiles appear before we know for sure what they have should have told the IRS.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to come back to you quickly, Carolyn Ryan. A part of the New York Times’ story today did say that some of the information in the piece was based on reporting done by a conservative writer who has come out with a new book about the Clintons. How much of The New York Times reporting was dependent on that?

    CAROLYN RYAN: I would characterize that book as really almost a tip sheet or reporting leads.

    The two reporters at The Times who got involved in this, we have Jo Becker, who is a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mike McIntire, a Pulitzer finalist just this week, they did dozens of interviews. They gathered a lot of records. And so they really went deep. This is very intricate and difficult reporting tracing this money. And they really did a lot of original reporting.

    And I would just note that this whole story began actually in 2008 with a story that Jo Becker did about the Kazakstan uranium deal. So, Peter Schweizer, the author, the conservative author, sort of following Jo Becker.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Carolyn Ryan — I want to ask both of you this question.

    Is there a sense at this point of the political implications for Hillary Clinton’s campaign?

    CAROLYN RYAN: Well, I think the timing is not great, because I think, though many people thought that she had a good campaign rollout, she’s really trying to present herself in a way to blunt the Elizabeth Warrens of her party as a sincere messenger for the message of economic mobility, economic inequality.

    And I think these stories, while they’re intricate and sometimes hard to understand, these stories have a way of underscoring the international orbit that the Clintons operate in, which is sort of a world awash in money and connections and a very privileged place.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Jonathan Allen, to you, a sense of the political implications?

    JONATHAN ALLEN: No, I mean, I agree with what was just said.

    I think, in the case of the problems on these forms, earlier reporting we did that found this transparency agreement Mrs. Clinton signed with the Obama administration was breached by these charities, I think these will add to the questions that her political opponents put to her. She’s very proud of the charity, she says. But people are asking her, was it as well-managed and transparent as you hoped it would be?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you, Jonathan Allen.

    And, Carolyn Ryan, thank you.

    CAROLYN RYAN: Thank you, Judy.

    JONATHAN ALLEN: Thank you.

     

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    pakistan hostages

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    GWEN IFILL: Today’s announcement on the accidental killing of two hostages in Pakistan raises questions about the tactics and the casualties of war.

    To explore those, we turn to Congressman John Delaney of Maryland, who was closely involved in the search for Warren Weinstein, Michael Leiter, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center during the first Obama administration. He’s now with a national security technology company. And Wall Street Journal national security reporter Adam Entous.

    Congressman Delaney, you were very involved with the family in the effort to find Warren Weinstein. What can you tell us about that?

    REP. JOHN DELANEY, (D) Maryland: Well, so, obviously, today is a very sad day for the whole family. And I have had the privilege of getting to know Elaine and the daughter, Warren’s daughters, over the last several years, as we worked together to try to get Warren home.

    And they’re a great family. They have been very strong through this whole process, which, as you can imagine, has been really hard. But they have also been determined and they have been smart about things to do to both shine attention on Warren’s case and to make sure our government is doing everything they can, which is where I was helping them.

    And our job really was to make sure all of the resources of our government, which, as we all know, are significant, technological and intelligence resources, are being brought to bear on getting Warren home. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. It’s my opinion that we need to do more. We should have done more on Warren’s case. And we should do more for all of these hostages, because this is a complicated business. We have a lot of capabilities.

    Men and women who work on bringing our hostages home are terrific people. They work really hard, but it’s not clear that things are coordinated as well as they should be, or that we’re actually accessing some of our partner nations’ capabilities as extensively as we should. We really should be demanding upon these nations, many of which we provide enormous financial support to, to help us in this effort to bring our hostages home like Warren.

    But it’s a really sad day. I mean, it’s heartbreaking for the family.

    GWEN IFILL: Michael Leiter, how do mistakes like this happen?

    MICHAEL LEITER, Former Director of the U.S. Government’s National Counterterrorism Center: Well, I think the president actually captured it fairly well and in simple terms.

    In the fog of war, you can have real tragedy. And as we have increased — as the president has increased the pace of drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere, we moved to what are known as signature strikes, and that’s not knowing exactly who is there, but knowing that it’s a signature of an al-Qaida operation.

    And, unfortunately, in this case and in previous cases, we target those spots, even though there’s a near certainty that there are not noncombatants or U.S. persons there. But near certainty is not absolute certainty, and intelligence can be imperfect. It was in this case. And when you’re going after al-Qaida aggressively, these things, unfortunately, can happen.

    GWEN IFILL: It wasn’t that long ago that we heard about Kayla Mueller, who was also being held, different circumstances, but also killed unintentionally.

    I wonder whether, if you’re taken hostage now in this region by al-Qaida, if there is any chance ever of getting out. It doesn’t seem like it ends well anymore.

    MICHAEL LEITER: Well, it has ended well in some cases, but the fact is, for terrorists, kidnapping is a wonderful force. It forces the U.S. potentially to engage. It gives them an enormous propaganda value.

    So there are lots of places, whether it’s Syria, or Iraq, or Yemen, or Pakistan, where Americans are vulnerable. And putting SEALs and special operations forces on the ground to try to rescue them, one, endangers the hostages and, two, obviously puts our people on the ground in danger. So this is a very tricky operation wherever it happens.

    GWEN IFILL: Adam Entous, this apparently happened in January. We’re not precisely sure when or where. But why are we just hearing about it now?

    ADAM ENTOUS, The Wall Street Journal: Well, it took a while for the administration to get intelligence that indicated that, in this strike, which they assumed was like any other strike — they thought they had hit their target, which was an al-Qaida leader, who they didn’t know who it was, but they knew — they thought it was an al-Qaida leader.

    It took a while for them to pick up intelligence, probably signals intelligence, so they overheard conversations in which they — in which al-Qaida members were discussing the death of the hostages. At that point, they needed to basically go through all the intelligence that they had gathered, other drone feeds that they had, to try to piece together what exactly happened.

    This is, obviously, a very difficult thing to do. It’s not like we put a team on the ground to go take samples and collect a body to identify who they were. So, you can understand why this would take a period of time.

    GWEN IFILL: How unusual was it to declassify this kind of information?

    ADAM ENTOUS: I mean, certainly, very limited information has been released about this program. It is largely conducted behind a cloak of secrecy.

    In this case, you know, obviously, al-Qaida knows that the two hostages were killed. It was only a matter of time before it did become public. So, I think the administration’s calculation here was, if you keep it secret, it’s only going to make it worse. That said, they didn’t disclose everything. They didn’t tell us the date of the strike. They didn’t tell us precisely where it took place.

    In fact, in their public comments, they’re not even calling it a CIA drone strike. They’re calling it a counterterrorism operation that took place in this ambiguous area that they define as the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    GWEN IFILL: But you have confirmed it was indeed a drone strike?

    ADAM ENTOUS: This is language that is used in discussing classified information that the administration uses to describe a covert program that is conducted there.

    GWEN IFILL: Michael Leiter, can you — what was the scope of the intelligence failure here?

    MICHAEL LEITER: Well, I think it was potentially significant. And the administration has started an independent review to figure out what went wrong.

    But I have to say, these operations take a long time to actually manifest themselves. It takes lots and lots of surveillance, usually video surveillance, signals intelligence, maybe human intelligence. And what they obviously saw was a place where al-Qaida operatives were assembling.

    And what they likely didn’t know was that there were two other people in there. And that’s because they were, in fact, hostages, so they were never coming and going. So, you can sort of imagine what the potential failure was.

    The second failure, of course, is not knowing in another strike that there was Adam Gadahn, a U.S. person, there, now, clearly, less tragic. He was a member of al-Qaida, in my view. But there is supposed to be an additional review for U.S. persons. That’s important for due process. And that didn’t occur before the strike.

    So, we have two separate potential failures, one, obviously with the innocents vastly more tragic than the other one.

    GWEN IFILL: And both of these failures, Congressman Delaney, occurred in Pakistan. And we saw Elaine Weinstein in her family statement today raise questions about Pakistan’s role in this. Do you think these are legitimate questions?

    REP. JOHN DELANEY: I think they are legitimate questions.

    I mean, it’s important not to have all of our focus be on the intelligence around these strikes, because I believe the people in our government who are executing against these strikes, you know, are working to a really high standard, and they rely upon the intelligence, doing lots of surveillance.

    And it is hard, as the president said, to be absolutely certain. Near certainty is the standard. I think the bigger question as it relates to Warren’s situation and all the hostages’ situations is, why aren’t we finding these people across in many cases years and years and years that they’re held in captivity?

    It’s one thing to focus on the 30 or 60 days before the strike, but, to me, that’s actually not the most important question. The most important question is, why can’t we find some of these hostages across years of looking for them, when you consider the capabilities we have? And that is really, I think, what Elaine is getting at, which is, was Pakistan, which is where he was captured, as helpful as they could have been?

    And that’s the same question I have. And, listen, we were working together on this. And we saw specific things that we would have liked done better, better coordination, better access to information, because, in my opinion, not only should we be doing a better job coordinating our resources and assets here — I have called for effectively a hostage czar to be put together or appointed in the administration that will have the ability to cut through the bureaucracy that inevitably exists in a lot of the areas of our government that touch hostage recover — but, importantly, also be able to kind of bring pressure on our partner nations, like Pakistan, and getting information from them that we think is really important to these investigations.

    GWEN IFILL: Well…

    REP. JOHN DELANEY: And it’s pretty clear that that wasn’t happening to the level that would make me happy in this situation.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let me ask Adam Entous about that.

    To what degree is that conversation going on about a different way of handling these hostage situations?

    ADAM ENTOUS: Well, the administration launched a review late last year. We haven’t seen the results of that review, and to see how this current event might affect the outcome of that.

    I think, you know, the — you know, the issue of Pakistan’s cooperation here is an interesting issue.

    GWEN IFILL: It doesn’t seem to go away. The question came up during the Osama bin Laden search as well.

    ADAM ENTOUS: Right. And Pakistan is operating in the tribal areas now. How serious that operation is, is a matter of debate within the administration about whether they’re really going after these guys or not.

    You know, and the issue is, is, does the United States trust the Pakistanis with information?

    GWEN IFILL: And what’s the answer to that question, Michael Leiter?

    MICHAEL LEITER: I think, for any sensitive operation, it is — the U.S. government is extremely sensitive to share that with the Pakistanis.

    Although the Pakistanis have been very good partners in some ways and have lost many, many people to al-Qaida and other organizations, for the most sensitive operations, sharing that information with a Pakistani means that that information may very well get to the bad guys.

    REP. JOHN DELANEY: But we’re not talking about sharing our information with them. We’re talking about making sure we get the information from them that we need, right?

    We’re providing a tremendous amount of financial support to the government. And, at a minimum, we should be having access to whatever information, including access to people that they’re holding hostage who may information related to how some of our hostages — so, I don’t think any of us are talking about some information-sharing program with the Pakistani government.

    I’m talking about us getting the help we need, in consideration for the support we’re providing, to get Americans home.

    GWEN IFILL: OK.

    REP. JOHN DELANEY: It’s a very different question.

    GWEN IFILL: Congressman John Delaney of Maryland, Michael Leiter, Adam Entous, thank you all very much.

    ADAM ENTOUS: Thank you.

    MICHAEL LEITER: Thank you.

     

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    newswrap 20150423

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. Senate Confirmed Loretta Lynch as attorney general today — 56 to 43 — after more than a five-month wait.

    Her nomination had stalled over an abortion dispute in a sex trafficking bill.

    Republicans also criticized her support for President Obama’s immigration orders limiting deportations.

    Democrats, including Chuck Schumer of New York, said she deserved better.

    SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) New York: She’s just great. But. One sad note. There’s one cloud on this sunny day and that’s the long time it took to confirm her. We’ve heard about a whole lot of issues completely unrelated to her experience or qualifications. No one has assailed Loretta Lynch.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Lynch is currently the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of New York.

    As attorney general, she’ll succeed Eric Holder, who’s clashed frequently with republicans.

    Chuck Grassley — who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee — argued she won’t be the clean break that’s needed.

    SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R) Iowa: No one disputes that she has an impressive legal background. It was her testimony before the committee that caused many concerns for many senators, including me, after thoroughly reviewing that testimony, I concluded that she won’t lead the department in a different direction.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the end, ten Republicans voted to confirm, including Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader.

    Lynch will be the first black woman to serve as attorney general.

    GWEN IFILL: There will be no jail time for former CIA Director David Petraeus.

    A federal judge sentenced him to two years’ probation today for giving classified material to his mistress, who was also his biographer. He’ll also pay a $100 thousand dollar fine.

    The retired general made a brief statement after his court session in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS (RET)., former CIA Director: Today marks the end of a two-and-a-half year ordeal that resulted from mistakes that I made. As I did in the past, I apologized to those closest to me, and many others, including those with whom I was privileged to serve with in the military over the years.

    GWEN IFILL: Petraeus resigned his CIA post in 2012, after admitting to the affair. Before that, he’d led U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A major merger in the telecom world has crumbled. It was widely reported today that Comcast will drop its offer to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion dollars. The proposal had run into opposition from federal regulators. A formal announcement could come tomorrow.

    GWEN IFILL: There’s word that North Korea may already have 20 nuclear warheads – and the ability to double its arsenal by next year.

    An account in the Wall Street Journal says Chinese nuclear experts relayed that estimate in a closed-door meeting earlier this year.

    North Korea has carried out three nuclear tests in recent years

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Leaders of the European Union agreed late today to triple the funding for rescuing migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean from Africa.

    The announcement came at an emergency session in Brussels.

    Cathy Newman of Independent Television News is there.

    CATHY NEWMAN, ITN: It’s a tragedy that for just a minute silenced Europe’s usually vocal political leaders. Prime ministers and presidents bowing their heads in memory of the 1,700 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean after these same EU leaders scrapped a rescue and search operation.

    Do you think the EU has failed in its moral duty?

    ALEXANDER STUBB, Prime Minister, Finland: Well I think the EU has failed in the sense that the 800 people have just died. The EU has failed in that the flow of vessels and refugees keeps flowing in. And that’s what we’re trying to do now, is to solve the problem.

    CATHY NEWMAN:  A cri de coeur from across the square. These more fortunate migrants say that military intervention by the west in Libya and beyond unleash chaos which is causing their compatriots to flee in the thousands. So there’s a moral obligation to help.

    PROTESTER: They are the of all that is happening in Africa.

    CATHY NEWMAN: You mean the west destabilizing…

    PROTESTER: The west, and the U.S. they are the cause of what is going on in Africa.

    CATHY NEWMAN: It’s too late for these victims, but the EU plan proposes what the Italian prime minister calls targeted military intervention, capturing and destroying the people trafficking.

    As part of the fight back, the Royal Navy H.S. Bulwark, already by chance in the Mediterranean, will pluck hundreds of migrants to safety. Once aboard, they have a legal right to claim asylum in Britain. Something officials are determined to circumvent. No wonder a senior British diplomat told me this is one of the great insoluble problems of our age. How to save lives without sacrificing a tough approach to immigration, demanded by many European voters.

     

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Italy now estimates that up to 200,000 migrants will try to cross from North Africa this year.

     

    GWEN IFILL: U.S. led air strikes in Syria have killed nearly 2,100 people since September.

     

    That’s according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,” based in Britain.

    The group says more than 1900 of those killed were Islamic State fighters — the main targets of the strikes.

    Another 90 were said to be members of the Al Nusra front, linked to al-Qaeda.

    66 of the dead were identified as civilians, including 10 children.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, the U.S. Geological Survey warned today that man-made earthquakes are on the rise — and that oil and gas drilling is to blame.

     

    It’s the first comprehensive look at the problem.The report cites growing seismic activity in eight southern and Midwestern states where hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — is being used intensively.

    GWEN IFILL: and on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 20 points to close near 18,060.

    The NASDAQ also rose 20… Finally topping its record close set 15 years ago, in the dot-com bubble.

    And the S&P 500 added 5.

    The post News Wrap: No jail time for former CIA director Petraeus for sharing secrets with mistress appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Obama delivers a statement from the White House in Washington

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    GWEN IFILL: Presidential confirmation came this morning in the White House briefing room.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It is a cruel and bitter truth that in the fog of war generally and our fight against terrorists specifically, mistakes, sometimes deadly mistakes, can occur.

    GWEN IFILL: U.S. officials say the two hostages died in mid-January, when a drone fired missiles at a terrorist site inside Pakistan.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We believed that this was an Al Qaida compound, that no civilians were present and that capturing these terrorists was not possible. And we do believe that the operation did take out dangerous members of Al Qaida. What we did not know, tragically, is that Al Qaida was hiding the presence of Warren and Giovanni in this same compound.

    GWEN IFILL: Warren Weinstein had made several video appeals for his release after disappearing in Lahore, Pakistan in 2011. He worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

    Italian Giovanni Lo Porto was kidnapped the next year, helping to build homes for Pakistani flood victims.

    Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzo voiced profound pain today over Lo Porto’s death.

    And the Weinstein family issued a statement, saying in part “there are no words to do justice to the disappointment and heartbreak we are going through.”

    Back at the White House, President Obama offered deepest apologies to the families.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: As president and as commander-in-chief, I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations, including the one that inadvertently took the lives of Warren and Giovanni. I profoundly regret what happened.

    GWEN IFILL: It was left to white house press secretary Josh Earnest to explain why it took three months to announce the deaths.

    JOSH EARNEST: Only in the last several days did the intelligence community reach an assessment with a high degree of confidence that Dr. Weinstein had been killed in a U.S. government counter-terrorism operation.

    GWEN IFILL: Earnest said the government will make payments to both families. An independent review of the attack is also under way.

    House Speaker John Boehner suggested Congress, too, will have questions. 

    JOHN BOEHNER, Speaker of the House: “We need all the facts, for the families and so that we can make sure that nothing like this ever happens again in our efforts to keep Americans safe.”

    GWEN IFILL: It also emerged that Ahmed Farouq — a U.S. Pakistani citizen and Al-Qaeda leader — died in the same raid that killed the hostages.

    Another American — Adam Gadahn — died in a separate drone strike. He had served as a spokesman for the terror network.

    Gadahn was on the FBI’s most wanted terrorists list. He was the first American to be charged with treason since world war two.

     

    The post Obama apologizes for drone-strike deaths of two hostages in Pakistan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Attorney General Eric Holder, seen in this 2012 file photo, ends his tenure at the Justice Department Monday. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

    Attorney General Eric Holder, seen in this 2012 file photo, ends his tenure at the Justice Department Monday, when Loretta Lynch will be sworn in. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder was bidding farewell to the Justice Department on Friday after six years as the nation’s top law enforcement official.

    Holder was addressing employees at an afternoon ceremony one day after his chosen successor, Loretta Lynch, was confirmed by the Senate following a months-long delay.

    In a tribute video prepared for the occasion, Holder describes an “emotional attachment” to the department and recounts efforts to protect civil rights, prosecute terror suspects in federal court and change the criminal justice system.

    “We could not be more grateful for everything that you’ve done not just for me and the administration, but for our country,” Obama says in the video, which also included appearances by members of Congress and Holder’s wife, Sharon Malone.

    Holder, a former judge and U.S. attorney who took the job in 2009, will exit the department as the third-longest serving attorney general in U.S. history. He has not publicly announced what he’ll be doing next.

    After Lynch, 55, is sworn in at the Justice Department on Monday, she’s likely to pursue some of the same agenda as Holder as the Obama administration draws to a close. But she’s also said she aims to have a cooperative relationship with Congress following years of bitter feuding between Republicans and Holder.

    Holder’s tenure was in many ways defined by his efforts on civil rights protections. His department challenged state laws that it saw as restricting access to the voting booth and refused to defend the constitutionality of a federal law banning recognition of gay marriage. Holder also pushed for changes in the criminal justice system, directing prosecutors to sharply limit their use of harsh mandatory minimum sentences and championing alternatives to prison for nonviolent drug defendants.

    Though Holder sees civil rights as a defining element of his legacy, his early years were defined by national security concerns as the country confronted several terror plots, including a failed effort to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day in 2009.

    In his first months on the job, he pushed to have some terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay transferred to the United States and prosecuted in the federal court system, but the plan was ultimately derailed amid congressional opposition. He has since expressed feelings of vindication in the successful prosecution of terror plots in American courts, especially as the military tribunal system at Guantanamo has slogged along without major results.

    He also faced criticism for the Justice Department’s aggressive stance in news media leak investigations, including the seizure of Associated Press phone records in 2013.

    Holder will also be remembered for his clashes with Republican members of Congress, who considered him overly political and dismissive of their views, and once held him in contempt of Congress.

    The post Eric Holder bids farewell to DOJ after 6-year tenure appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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