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

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    JAMES HOLMES aurora shooter  Reuters

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s closing in on three years since a mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, left 12 people dead and 70 others injured, making it the largest number of casualties from one shooting on American soil.

    Today, the trial of the man accused, James Holmes, got under way. He’s been charged with 166 counts for attacks that took place on July 20, 2012. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Opening arguments began this afternoon and prosecutors immediately challenged the insanity argument.

    GEORGE BRAUCHLER, District Attorney, 18th Judicial District: There were two psychiatrists, about a year apart, asked to do independent assessments and evaluations of him. They were picked by the Colorado Mental Health Institute of Pueblo, the state mental hospital, at the direction of the court.

    And both of them say the same thing, that that guy was sane when he tried to murder all those people in that theater back in July of 2012.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Shortly after prosecutors began their case, I spoke with Mary MacCarthy of Feature Story News. She was at the courthouse earlier today.

    Mary MacCarthy, welcome.

    First of all, describe the scene in the courtroom today.

    MARY MACCARTHY, Feature Story News: Well, to say that this is a long-awaited trial is an understatement. It’s been over two-and-a-half years, just over 1,000 days, since that fateful night in an Aurora movie theater where a gunman opened fire.

    So, here, the Denver community, the community of victims, and anybody following this trial has really been on edge waiting for a long time. So it’s lots of media here, international media, people following the case closely, in the courtroom, of course, many victims, victims’ families and their friends, a packed courtroom.

    And just to give an example of the scope of this trial, the courtroom itself had to be built out to make for a larger jury box. Normally, a juror — would have 12 seats in the jury box. Here, they have 24 seats for the 12 jurors, the 12 alternates. The judge wanted 12 alternates because the trial is likely to last so long that they wanted to make sure that if someone gets sick, in any contingency, they have enough jurors that will last until the very end of this high-profile trial.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What did you hear from the prosecution today in their opening argument?

    MARY MACCARTHY: Well, some of the biggest questions about this trial, about the evidence were in fact revealed just in the very few first minutes of the opening statement by the district attorney, George Brauchler, who is known for his very eloquent, concise and hard-hitting opening statements.

    He revealed just within the first few minutes that in fact the two mental health evaluations of James Holmes carried out by the state, that both of those evaluations found Mr. Holmes to be sane. There had been much speculation and expectation that perhaps one of the doctors who evaluated him had found him to be insane, the other sane, and that the trial would come down to the jury having to decide between those two state-mandated doctors and deciding which doctor they’d agree with.

    The fact is that it almost makes it seem like a relatively easy case for the prosecution because both of those doctors did find James Holmes to be sane. The other big — one of the biggest mysteries going into this was that notebook that Mr. Holmes mailed to his psychiatrist at the University of Colorado the day before the shooting.

    To this point, we didn’t know the contents of the notebook. Now after the opening statement of the prosecution, we have seen many pages of that notebook with Mr. Holmes’ own handwriting, a cursive script that is somewhat childlike, in which he lays out his plans to kill. Very clearly, he lays out his various methodology and even, in fact, some of his reasoning.

    He said, for example, that his message, when he hoped to some day carry out a killing, was that there would be no message, a very nihilistic point of view. He said that he thought about carrying out a mass murder, a mass killing at an airport, but that could be construed as a terrorist message. He didn’t want that. He wanted his point to be that this killing has no meaning, that life has no meaning.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And just quickly, what do you expect to hear from the defense?  They’re going to be trying to prove that he’s mentally — was mentally ill?

    MARY MACCARTHY: That’s right.

    Knowing that the state-mandated experts both found Mr. Holmes to be sane, that means that the defense’s case will hinge on the testimony of their own mental health experts. They, of course, called in several. We know that several of theirs, perhaps all, several of them at least anyway, have found him to be insane.

    But we also know that those experts spent significantly less time with the defendant than the state’s experts did. So, again, the defense’s case will hinge on those experts. At this point, it looks like it will be a battle of the testimony between those experts called in strictly by the defense and the state experts whose point of view agrees with the prosecution.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mary MacCarthy on this trial in Colorado that has now gotten under way after, as you said, more than two-and-a-half years, we thank you.

    The post Colo. shooting DA says two evaluations found Holmes sane appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    politicsmonday

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    GWEN IFILL: Republican presidential candidates campaigning in Iowa this weekend were also drawn into the gay marriage debate, while the leading Democrat coped with problems of her own.

    It’s Politics Monday, and we turn now to Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR.

    It was at the Faith and Freedom Summit in Iowa that we saw this, this weekend. Let’s — I call, by the way, tonight’s edition the betwixt and between edition. You will see why.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: Everybody caught between a rock and a hard place.

    Let’s listen first to what some of the members — the candidates for president had to say this weekend in Iowa about this issue.

    SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) Florida: In this whole debate about the definition of marriage, I remind everyone that marriage as an institution that existed before even government itself, that the institution of marriage as one man and one woman existed before our laws existed.

    GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, (R) Louisiana: I believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. And unlike President Obama and Secretary Clinton, the governor of Louisiana’s views, my views, they’re not evolving with the times.

    GOV. SCOTT WALKER, (R) Wisconsin: Marriage is a decision that should be defined by our state governments, not at the federal level. And in Wisconsin and other places across the country, marriage is defined between one man and one woman, and states should be the ones that make that decision.

    GWEN IFILL: This is an unavoidable debate this year, isn’t it, Tamara?

    TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Absolutely.

    And, of course, the Supreme Court, as we just saw, is taking this up tomorrow. So, and there will be a decision that will then also be debated. These candidates have been asked whether they would go to a gay wedding. They were at this evangelical conference. And so, of course, they had to talk about gay marriage.

    And they are, as you say, betwixt and between. The general election electorate, something like 59 percent of Americans now support gay marriage, but among Republican primary voters, it’s something more like 29 percent. And so they’re trying to figure out how to appeal to those people who could get them out of the primary and into the general, while also not completely potentially alienating everyone who is voting later.

    GWEN IFILL: Case in point, Amy, Ted Cruz, who took a picture, went to an event with a gay hotel owner, a very famous guy, Ian — his name is escaping me — in New York. Anyway, he got immediate criticism from the gay community for even having hosted Ted Cruz.

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: And he, this hotel owner, ended up going on to Facebook and apologizing, saying now, once I found out, boy, I didn’t know what this guy’s positions were, which is kind of amazing.

    If you bring a presidential candidate to your home, you might want to know what their positions are on issues that are important to you.

    And so that becomes really the question here, which is the balancing act that Republican candidates are taking now in a primary vs. what they are going to talk about in a general election. But I think most of them — there are a couple of exceptions — are trying to deemphasize this issue.

    They were at a Faith and Freedom Conference. This was evangelicals. They’re going to talk about marriage being between a man and woman. But I think, once you get to the general election, this is not an issue that they are going to talk about.

    The bigger issue, too, this is a party, we have talked a lot about diversity. Right? They know that they need to branch out from just winning over white voters. They have got to get minority. They also have to get younger voters. And this is a generational issue. Even among Republicans who are younger, this is an issue that they support.

    GWEN IFILL: Betwixt and between. Here is my theme again.

    Let’s talk about Hillary Clinton, who, of course, this weekend or in the last several days has come under a lot of criticism for the way the Clinton Foundation has handled or has accepted money. And after saying last week, all of last week, this is kind of a plot by a right-wing author to bring me down, the foundation came out with a statement this weekend.

    Actually, they called it a commitment to honesty, transparency, and accountability. And they said: “So, yes, we made mistakes, but we are acting quickly to remedy them and have taken steps to ensure they don’t happen in the future.”

    What does that mean, Tamara?

    TAMARA KEITH: It’s all over.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: Oh, well, fine.

    TAMARA KEITH: Well, I’m surprised that they didn’t say, mistakes were made. They actually said, we made mistakes.

    I think that the challenge here for Hillary Clinton is that in some ways she would love to talk about the good works that the foundation has done or she would love to just sit in coffee shops and talk to real Americans or hand-selected real Americans.

    But, instead, they’re having to answer for accounting issues with the foundation or questions about whether the Clintons enriched themselves through their foundation. And that really feeds that narrative that — the narrative that they aren’t of the people.

    GWEN IFILL: Everyday Americans know, huh?

    AMY WALTER: The everyday American slogan.

    And what people — what voters are even more frustrated about, about Washington, it’s dysfunctional. But they believe that people in Washington who are here as elected officials are using that position to get themselves wealthy, and that they’re wealthy and out of touch and in a bubble.

    These stories do not help Hillary Clinton change that perception. So there’s the perception that, yes, there were donors giving money to get access, but more important than…

    GWEN IFILL: Not proven.

    AMY WALTER: Not proven.

    TAMARA KEITH: Not proven.

    AMY WALTER: This is all just appearance, but the appearance that you have a charity that’s doing good works, but at the same time the donors to that charity are paying you and your husband to speak, hundreds of thousands of dollars to speak to their groups. That becomes…

    GWEN IFILL: Still hovers in the air.

    TAMARA KEITH: That’s right.

    GWEN IFILL: OK. Let’s get away from betwixt and between and go to rock and a hard place. That would be Jeb Bush. This is good. I have got all of these lined up.

    Jeb Bush, whose brother the former President George W. came out this weekend in a private, not for very long, meeting with some donors and basically was candid and basically saying, I’m a lodestone around my brother’s neck.

    TAMARA KEITH: And, yes, the Bush name…

    GWEN IFILL: Pretty much.

    TAMARA KEITH: Yes, pretty much.

    Perhaps stating the obvious, the Bush name is a problem for Jeb Bush, but Jeb Bush knows this and most people know this, that Americans are concerned about the dynasty thing. You go out, you talk to random people on the street and they say no more dynasties, no more Clintons, no more Bushes.

    And Jeb Bush is trying to figure out how to answer that. And his brother pointed out the problem.

    AMY WALTER: And said, I won’t campaign with him, just to make sure that…

    GWEN IFILL: Which maybe he didn’t want to do anyhow.

    TAMARA KEITH: No.

    GWEN IFILL: But the other thing about Jeb Bush is he was supposed to be the big elephant in the room, so to speak.

    AMY WALTER: That’s right. He was going to scare everybody out of this race.

    GWEN IFILL: But it didn’t happen.

    AMY WALTER: And, notably, today, there was another story out where he is talking about the fact that the super PACs that he’s raising money for right now will have more money than has ever been raised in 100 days by any presidential candidate in the history of whenever.

    And yet you’re hearing more candidates still announcing that they are going to get in. Look, the fact that Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton is giving a lot of Republicans that same sense that they can overcome what looked like a very difficult front-runner.

    And now that every other person, it seems, wants to put a super PAC together, every millionaire is going to be putting a super PAC together to help their favorite candidate, the idea that you can’t raise enough money to compete individually, that is no longer such a barrier.

    And when your name is Bush and you’re still only at 15 percent in the polls, you don’t look as scary.

    GWEN IFILL: I have officially run out of metaphors for being stuck in the middle of something, but it was valiant, I thought.

    AMY WALTER: But that was quite impressive.

    TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: Tamara Keith of NPR, Amy Walter of Cook Political Report, thank you both very much.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    The post How will gay marriage play as a GOP campaign issue for 2016? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    parents

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    GWEN IFILL: Tomorrow morning, the Supreme Court will return to the debate over whether states should be able to outlaw same-sex marriage. The justices will hear cases from four states that currently have gay marriage bans: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.

    Tonight, we hear from Kentucky families whose personal stories are at the center of the legal battle at the high court tomorrow.

    PAUL CAMPION: Randy and I met on August 17 of 1991.

    RANDY JOHNSON: It was just amazing, the connection that we had immediately. And one of the conversations that we had before the night was even over was how we both longed to be parents. And we feared that by admitting that we were homosexual meant forfeiting the opportunity to have children and to really be a family.

    MARTIN COTHRAN: I work with the Family Foundation of Kentucky.

    Tim, how are you? What have you been doing today?

    MAN: Slaving away.

    MARTIN COTHRAN: My involvement in this issue has been not only as a concerned citizen and a father of four and a husband, but as — professionally, as someone who’s involved in public policy questions in Kentucky.

    So, I was the one actually who took the little yellow slip of paper into the state senator’s office, who then filed the legislation which was approved by the state legislature.

    PAUL CAMPION: In early 1994, we decided to start really trying to create a family. We started at the state to see if we could adopt through the state, and we were told, that’s not going to happen.

    RANDY JOHNSON: My name is Randy Johnson. I am partner to Paul Campion for almost 24 years. And we have four children together and have built a wonderful family.

    MARTIN COTHRAN: My name is Martin Cothran. My wife and I were high school sweethearts. We graduated from college, both got jobs, got married. We were still in Southern California, and then we ended up moving to Kentucky.

    The culture’s different out here. It’s slower, more traditional. We had four children here, all born here in Kentucky, and you couldn’t drag us out of here.

    PAUL CAMPION: But we did find one agency, Adoptions of Kentucky, that said, sure, we just care that you’re going to be loving parents, so that’s the only criteria that we need.

    RANDY JOHNSON: And that was a beautiful part of what we were looking for. We were looking for being judged as our capabilities of being parents, not on the fact that we were a gay couple.

    MARTIN COTHRAN: We had already passed a statutory law in 1998 that was called the Defense of Marriage Act. But there was a feeling that that wasn’t going to be enough, that there would be court challenges later on, and that the best thing to do to make sure the policy lasted was to actually put it into the Constitution.

    So, the measure was put on the ballot in 2004, and it passed with 74 percent of Kentuckians voting in favor.

    PAUL CAMPION: Tevin and Tyler were born in February of ’95.

    Fast-forward eight years to when Mackenzie was born in 2003.

    RANDY JOHNSON: And then four years after we adopted Mackenzie, we had a situation where Paul is a school counselor and one of his students was a 7-year-old biracial child who was in foster care. So this little first-grader came and asked Paul to adopt him.

    MAN: Traditional marriage laws were because of the biological differences.

    MARTIN COTHRAN: Because this case is going now to the Supreme Court, we’re filing an amicus brief in the case to present the justices with our arguments.

    We hope that when the Supreme Court looks at this, that they will realize that they’re not there to make new law. They’re there to interpret the law that has been put there through the regular democratic process, and that they will see a lot of these cases for what they are, which is inventing something that is not there.

    RANDY JOHNSON: I’m still not a legal parent to Tevin and Tyler, because the laws have not changed in Kentucky. Only one person of the same gender can adopt the children. So, I am the legal parent to Mackenzie, and Paul’s the legal parent to the three boys.

    MARTIN COTHRAN: I think the marriage issue is a classic example one of these areas where we have a tradition we want to tear down.

    For anyone to say that the founding fathers intended that there be same-sex marriage and this was somehow there in the Constitution for over 200 years and no one noticed it until it happened to become politically fashionable now is a little bit of a stretch.

    PAUL CAMPION: That’s one of the reasons why marriage equality is so important to us, so that all four kids can be legally both of ours.

    We had a lot of anxiety along the way, especially Randy in the early years, because, if I would have passed away, Randy has no legal rights to them at all.

    MARTIN COTHRAN: The argument that we need to change the definition of marriage because of health insurance reasons or certain complications with adoption, the thing about that is, we don’t need to change the definition of marriage to do that. You can pass legislation to take care of those problems. You don’t have to change the definition of marriage.

    RANDY JOHNSON: And there are other laws that are quite discriminatory. One of our children just turned 16 recently and was very excited about getting his driver’s permit. I had taken DeSean actually to the DMV to get his driver’s permit and take his written test.

    However, once again, since my name is not on his birth certificate, nor on the adoption paperwork, they refused to allow me to accompany DeSean to take his driver’s permit.

    MARTIN COTHRAN: Bless us, oh, lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive.

    By changing the definition of marriage and expanding it so broadly that every model of marriage is equal, it’s a message we send to the next generation that this relationship is every bit as good as this relationship. Well, a lot of people don’t believe that.

    MAN: Bless us, oh, lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive.

    RANDY JOHNSON: One of the reasons that we wanted to join this lawsuit against the state of Kentucky to recognize us as a married couple was because we believe that many people in Kentucky feel threatened by families like ours, as if we are attempting to compromise the integrity of marriage, when, if they really knew us, they would recognize that we’re not threatening at all.

    In fact, we just want the same things that they do. We don’t want to dictate anyone’s religious beliefs. We just want them to recognize that civil law is very important to families like ours.

    MARTIN COTHRAN: The argument that the gay rights issue is a civil rights issues is basically saying that gays are in the same position as blacks.

    Now, that’s been the analogy that’s been drawn. Well, I’m sorry. They were not shipped over here in slave ships. They didn’t have to drink at different drinking fountains. They were not persecuted in the way blacks have been persecuted. Gays are not politically powerless.

    They should be treated fairly. There’s no question about that. But to be treated fairly doesn’t require you to change the definition of marriage.

    PAUL CAMPION: Equal protection under the law shouldn’t be left up to a referendum or vote by the residents. Marriage should be allowed for gays and lesbians, as it is for heterosexual couples. And we think that the only way that this can happen is through the courts.

    If the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality throughout the land, probably the first thing — cry.

    (LAUGHTER)

    RANDY JOHNSON: It means an awful lot to us. Having spent 23 years together, and not being able to offer our kids the assurance that their parents are married to each other and are just as important as any other family — will be a huge event.

    MARTIN COTHRAN: If we go down this road, and the court strikes down state laws on marriage, I think that this is going to continue to erode the legitimacy of the judiciary. People will increasingly see this as a place that is now a very political part of our government, when it’s not supposed to be. And I think that would be very unfortunate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And tune in to tomorrow night’s NewsHour for full analysis of the arguments before the Supreme Court.

     

    The post Two families, opposite views of Kentucky’s gay marriage legal fight appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A woman kisses the casket of Freddie Gray, who died following an arrest by the Baltimore police department, at his burial at Woodlawn Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: A short time ago, I spoke to NewsHour special correspondent Jackie Judd in Baltimore.

    Jackie, tell us where you are. And what is the situation right now?

    JACKIE JUDD: Good evening, Judy.

    I am standing in front of the Shiloh Baptist Church, where earlier today there was a funeral for Freddie Gray. There were appeals for peace. Within two hours of that funeral ending, just north of here, violence broke out. There were groups of mostly young people. They appeared to be very disorganized.

    They walked around for a bit and then they became violent. They were hurling rocks and stones at the police officers who were riot-equipped. The police, from my eye, they appeared to act in a very restrained manner. We are told about half-a-dozen officers are injured. One is unresponsive, in the words of the police department.

    There has been some looting of stores. We saw from aerial coverage by a local station one police car seemingly unoccupied was pounced upon by probably 30 or 40 protesters. A tactical unit suddenly appeared. The officers raced out, the crowd dispersed. They had one young man on the ground, who most likely has been arrested.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Jackie, I want to ask you how organized this seemed. You said it just appeared to be groups of young people.

    JACKIE JUDD: It didn’t seem to be organized.

    And, to be honest, Judy, hearing the coverage from the local stations around here, who know the ground much better — sorry about that. It’s a crazy environment. You can probably hear the helicopters overhead. There have been some young people walking by in front of the camera.

    But it appears that it wasn’t organized and that suddenly the violence broke out. Something similar happened Saturday night, when there was another demonstration, which was highly organized, but quite peaceful for a long period of time. And then towards the end of the evening, there were again what the police call these pockets of chaos, where there was looting, destruction of several police cars, some minor injuries to some police officers.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, earlier in the day, you were there for the funeral of Freddie Gray. It was a different situation, a different story then.

    JACKIE JUDD: It was very different. And it turned out to be just a brief respite for the community from the tension here on the streets.

    There were about 2,200 people. The White House sent several representatives. There were state and local officials, but most of the 2,200 people who were here, Judy, were just people from the neighborhood who wanted to pay their respects.

    Billy Murphy, who is the Gray family’s lawyer, was one of many who spoke. And he said, “I know most of you didn’t know Freddie Gray, but that most of you or all of you know many Freddie Grays.”

    And what he meant by that, of course, was, they know other young African-American men and in some cases women who have also had violent, unpleasant, whatever you want to call it, confrontations with the local police here. If there was a theme, it was that this is a moment that Baltimore leaders need to seize to introduce some real reform.

    What he spoke about was outfitting police officers with body cams, appointing a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of police brutality, and for the police department to make better efforts at hiring more local people, to train them as officers and let them walk the beats in the communities where they came from.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And is there a sense, Jackie, that those kinds of things are being taken seriously? And, meantime, we know that Gray’s family is saying to the community, don’t commit this violence.

    JACKIE JUDD: Gray’s family has spoken out. They very much want this to be a peaceful protest. They said it over the weekend.

    Some relatives said it again today. One of the ministers who spoke at the funeral just a few hours ago said what’s happened just north of here is absolutely disgraceful.

    Will there be serious efforts, Judy? There have been moments like this in Baltimore’s history in the past 30, 40, 50 years. Not much has changed. There is some skepticism. But also people are hoping that, because since Baltimore suddenly finds itself on this national, international stage even, that maybe this is a moment when there will be real change.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Jackie Judd reporting for us from Baltimore, very close to where there has been unrest on the afternoon of this funeral — Jackie, thank you very much.

    JACKIE JUDD: Sure thing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we now know that the brief disruption in Jackie’s interview was caused by a rock being thrown near her location.

    This evening, President Obama spoke to the Baltimore mayor. And Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has put the National Guard on alert to respond as rapidly as needed.

    Also, the Baltimore Orioles have canceled their game tonight.

     

    The post Will Freddie Gray’s death provoke changes in Baltimore? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Freddie Gray's casket leaves the New Shiloh Baptist Church during his funeral in Baltimore

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to Baltimore, where a day that began with the somber quiet of a funeral turned into melees in the streets.

    It all revolved around the death in police custody of Freddie Gray. Trouble erupted at mid-afternoon, as helmeted police with riot clubs confronted hundreds of youth near a mall. It grew into running street battles, with protesters throwing stones and attacking police cars. Officials said at least seven officers were hurt.

    CAPT. ERIC KOWALCZYK, Baltimore Police Department: It is a group of lawless individuals with no regard for the safety of the people that live in that community or the safety of our police officers.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The violence was a far cry from the scene earlier.

    Mourners streamed into the New Shiloh Baptist Church this morning, many overcome with grief for Freddie Gray. The 25-year-old died April 19 in police custody, fueling a nationwide debate that loomed over today’s service.

    REV. HAROLD CARTER, New Shiloh Baptist Church: As the city, as the nation, in fact, as the world looks in, we are ever mindful of the reason that we are here, that a family has had and is yet standing on the banks of the Jordan, metaphorically speaking, to wave farewell to a son, to their loved one, whose life we now celebrate in memory.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Some 2,500 people listened as church leaders and relatives of Gray spoke of their anguish and determination.

    RICHARD SHIPLEY, Stepfather of Freddie Gray: For you brother, I promise you this. I will go on with my life and make you proud. I will always hold you in my heart. I promise you I will be missing you every day until the end of time.

    REV. JAMAL BRYANT: The reason I want you not to cry, is because Freddie’s death is not in vain. After this day, we’re going to keep on marching. After this day, we’re going to keep demanding justice. After this day, we’re going to keep exposing our culture of corruption.

    After this day, we’re going to keep monitoring our own neighborhoods. Whatever you do, don’t cry.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Gray’s death has galvanized daily protests in Baltimore, with thousands giving voice to their outrage. They have overwhelmed city streets.

    And they’d remained mostly peaceful, until the end of Saturday’s march. Violence erupted when some in the crowd broke away to vandalize cars and storefronts downtown; 35 people were arrested and six police officers were hurt.

    Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake condemned the violence.

    MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE: This is something that is unacceptable to me and it’s something that is unacceptable to everyone who lives in and loves our city.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: An internal investigation into Gray’s arrest and death is expected to be finished by the end of the week. In the meantime, six police officers have been suspended with pay.

    The post Freddie Gray mourners share anguish and determination at Baltimore funeral appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A boy walks past a damaged temple after Saturday's earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal on Monday. Photo by Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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    GWEN IFILL: And earlier this afternoon, I spoke via Skype to one of the many international aid workers trying to help in Nepal.

    Andy Bastable is head of water and sanitation at Oxfam. He is in Kathmandu.

    Andy, tell us, what are the immediate challenges you face on the ground?

    ANDY BASTABLE, Oxfam: It’s mainly around logistics.

    So, you have got — it’s a big — Kathmandu is a big city. And then it’s got big, big suburbs. And then you have got bits of areas where buildings have fallen down and then you have got little groups of displaced people. So, at the moment, there’s 16 designated official areas of displaced people, and then you have got a lot more unofficial sort of areas where people are.

    So, to get round these kind of quite blocked roads, blocked with rubble or blocked with kind of traffic, to get around to each site, our job, as Oxfam, is supplying kind of water and we’re doing sanitation of these sites. We have started doing water trucking. So it’s mainly around the logistics of getting to each place quickly.

    GWEN IFILL: It seems like the biggest challenge might be the scope. How do you even gauge what the scope of the need is?

    ANDY BASTABLE: That’s true, that we’re trying to actually do two things at once, one, actually start work.

    So, we’re starting water trucking. We’re starting building kind of Oxfam tanks at these displaced centers. And at the same time, we have got other teams out assessing kind of further areas, because, at the moment, it does seem that a lot of the efforts are in the immediate Kathmandu area, because it’s easier to get to.

    GWEN IFILL: Are the aftershocks presenting a challenge, a logistical challenge?

    ANDY BASTABLE: Yes, but mostly in the fear of the people, the people who have been in their house and know family and friends who have been killed or their own house is going to collapse.

    These aftershocks represent a huge traumatic event, and just it reminds them of all the trauma that they went through kind of on Saturday morning. So, it’s more traumatic, I think. Most of the old buildings that have fallen down will have fallen down and now we have just maybe got small falls as the aftershocks occur.

    GWEN IFILL: Is there any way to compare what we’re seeing unfold here with other disasters of this type around the world?

    ANDY BASTABLE: Yes.

    From what I have seen so far, that this isn’t on the scale of Haiti. There’s not — the mass devastation of Katmandu is not the same as the mass devastation in Port-au-Prince in 2010. So it’s not quite as big as that, but it’s, we could say, covering a wider area. And, yes, I think some of the poverty levels when you get out of Kathmandu are more extreme.

    GWEN IFILL: Thank you, Andy Bastable of Oxfam.

    ANDY BASTABLE: Thank you very much.

    GWEN IFILL: The 7.8-magnitude earthquake was the strongest to hit the Himalayan nation in more than 80 years. The country is at the junction of a major fault line between two tectonic plates, the Indian and Eurasian ones.

    As you can see on this color-coded map, strong shaking was felt far away from the epicenter northeast of Kathmandu. Orange and yellow areas indicate strong to severe shaking. In the days since, there have been dozens of aftershocks.

    To help us understand more, I’m joined by David Applegate, associate director for natural hazards with the U.S. Geological Survey.

    So, give us the geological explanation, the layman’s explanation for what actually happened here.

    DAVID APPLEGATE, Associate Director for Natural Hazards, U.S. Geological Survey: So what we’re looking at with this area is, it’s a collision zone.

    And most of the areas around the world where we have tectonic plates colliding, one against the other, we have oceanic plates going underneath continental ones. Well, this is one where you have a head-on collision, India slamming into Asia. It’s been going on for the last 50 million years.

    But while it’s an inexorable process, the actual on-the-ground effect is, the faults are locked up. They gain stress. It builds up, builds up, and finally they break. And that’s an earthquake.

    GWEN IFILL: This is an area that was prone to these quakes?  Was it inevitable that it was — did you see it coming?

    DAVID APPLEGATE: Absolutely. It was inevitable when we think about the long-term hazard.

    There’s been significant earthquakes. Now, there haven’t been a lot in the past, say, 50, 60 years. But if we look back deeper into time, we see a series of large quakes. The fact that we hadn’t had them recently means that stress has been building up. And so it was — there was an inevitability, not the exact moment of when it would happen, but that it would happen.

    GWEN IFILL: So, is what we saw the culmination of a slow buildup or is it a precursor to more?

    DAVID APPLEGATE: Well, for this particular zone, it relieved the stress. You saw on the map that it starts in one place, that epicenter, but then it ruptured to the east.

    GWEN IFILL: Which is northwest. I said northeast, but yes.

    DAVID APPLEGATE: That’s right, off to the northwest. And then it ruptured to the east past Kathmandu. So a whole segment of this large fault has ruptured.

    Now, that relieves the stress there, but it does mean that it’s — there may be additional stress on other sections of the fault.

    GWEN IFILL: So, is it fair to say, if the last big quake in this region happened in 1934, or more than 80 years ago, that this was overdue?

    DAVID APPLEGATE: Well, there have been — there have been other events, other sections of the plate, but for this particular zone, that 1934 quake didn’t relieve the stress.

    It was further off to the west. I think the epicenter was just south of Mount Everest. So it relieved the stress in that area, but it didn’t relieve it in this area.

    GWEN IFILL: Much discussion about aftershocks. We heard the aid worker talk about fear. But there’s also some real other concerns as well.

    DAVID APPLEGATE: Well, aftershocks are one of the things that are most difficult of dialing with a large disaster, an earthquake disaster.

    With a hurricane, the weather comes through, the sun comes out, people are able…

    GWEN IFILL: Then it’s over.

    DAVID APPLEGATE: It’s over. But with the aftershocks, it’s that constant drumbeat.

    And as we heard from the — from Oxfam, the issue here is, it’s also a mental one, in addition to the physical effects of it, that for every magnitude 5 — and we have had several — let’s see — we have had over 50 magnitude 4 and 5 earthquakes and even a couple of magnitude 6s in the aftershock zone across that whole area that we described.

    Well, so, in addition to that, that means you still have, say, another — hundreds of smaller 3s and 4s that are going to be affecting people just constantly. And so that’s a huge challenge.

    GWEN IFILL: Given what you know about the area’s topology, is the death toll likely to rise?

    DAVID APPLEGATE: There are still a lot of areas where — as we heard, a lot of the focus has been on Kathmandu, but particularly the epicentral region, it is very remote.

    We know it’s not just the issue of the earthquake shaking itself, but landslides are going to be — happen throughout that region. That can have further effects, damming rivers, potential for down the stream.

    GWEN IFILL: David Applegate of the U.S. Geological Survey, thank you.

    DAVID APPLEGATE: Thank you.

    The post Aftershocks and landslides pose risks after Nepal earthquake appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People ride on a van as traffic is affected by a landslide caused by an earthquake, in Kurintar

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    GWEN IFILL: We return to the devastation and desperation in Nepal.

    As we reported earlier, aid is coming in at a painfully slow pace to the capital of Kathmandu, but also to the quake’s epicenter five hours east.

    Dan Rivers of Independent Television News traveled to the country’s Gorkha district, along with the emergency workers trapped in traffic.

    DAN RIVERS, ITN: Remote and as yet unreached by the outside world, these villages in Gorkha district are near the epicenter of this disaster, and the damage is substantial.

    On hill ridges, some only accessible by foot, the challenge for the rescue effort is obvious, and the signs aren’t good. Even in the larger towns, it is the same awful imagery and an eerie stillness. And this is the only way to get to Gorkha by road. The main highway is choked with traffic caused by thousands of people trying to leave Kathmandu, some fleeing in fear for their own safety, some out of concern for others.

    But you’re going to check on your — your house?

    ARJUN GAIRE: I am going to check my house.

    DAN RIVERS: And your family is OK?

    ARJUN GAIRE: Our family are OK, but house — is no house.

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAN RIVERS: There’s no house left?

    ARJUN GAIRE: Yes.

    DAN RIVERS: It’s destroyed?

    ARJUN GAIRE: Yes.

    DAN RIVERS: You get a sense of the logistical challenge trying to respond to this earthquake. This traffic jam we have been stuck in for hours stretches back for miles. And this is the only road to the epicenter.

    Some ambulances are getting through, but progress is painfully slow. And the international response has hardly begun.

    SEAN CASEY, International Medical Corps: There’s a lot of people leaving town, seemingly headed towards the Indian border. But we have been stuck for hours, and we’re trying to get a medical team to Gorkha now. So, access is the biggest problem right now.

    DAN RIVERS: In the best of times, the infrastructure of Nepal is fragile. And these are the worst of times, people doing whatever it takes to find those they love. On this, the third night since the earthquake, this was the scene on the road to Gorkha.

    We found this vigil for the missing, spelling out a simple message, “Pray for Nepal.” With so many families still cut off from help, tonight, there seems nothing else they can do.

    GWEN IFILL: Dan Rivers spoke to us after filing his report.

    DAN RIVERS: Several things have struck me on the journey toward Gorkha district.

    Firstly, as you saw in my report, the logistics are absolutely horrendous for mounting this rescue operation. There’s effectively one truck road that goes across this part of Nepal. And it has been choked with traffic today caused by a land slip.

    That’s going to make it very difficult to get the supplies in where they’re needed. Secondly, a lot of the villages that have been hit apparently are up on the tops of the hills where there is not even vehicle access. It’s amazing actually in the valleys, where we are at the moment, how little damage there is.

    We understand the damage is much more extensive higher up into the mountains, where it’s even more difficult to get to. And really to get to those places, they are going to be relying on helicopters. And they just don’t have the capacity at the moment in Nepal to get those helicopters where they’re needed and get the people out.

    We understand there’s more than 6,000 people injured. We have seen on the road today many Indian army vehicles, so perhaps India can bring in the resources that Nepal is apparently lacking.

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    A Nepalese policeman walks through the rubble of collapsed buildings in the aftermath of Saturday's earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Monday. Photo by Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The death toll in Nepal’s earthquake zone topped 4,000 today, with at least another 6,500 injured, and the situation for survivors grew increasingly dire.

    Thousands of people fled the ravaged capital, Kathmandu, as food and water ran out and aftershocks continued. Others kept looking for those still alive.

    We begin with this report from Mark Austin of Independent Television News.

    MARK AUSTIN, ITN: It is, or, rather, was, a place of ancient beauty, a place of tourists, tea shops and wondrous temples. But, today, it is a place where they dig for family and neighbors with their bare hands.

    Shia Laxmi dug out her daughter alive soon after the earthquake. But says there are dozens more bodies buried here. Nearby, 24-year-old Sanjiv shows me what’s left of his house. Two of his family are missing.

    MAN: It’s my brothers. It’s my younger brother and my brother’s wife, my elder brother’s wife.

    MARK AUSTIN: And they’re missing under there?

    MAN: They’re missing, yes. We’re helpless. So, if you can help us, sir, please. It was just a nightmare, sir. It’s a nightmare. I just need to find their bodies.

    MARK AUSTIN: While we’re there, the local police turn up, but they are overwhelmed and without the wherewithal to help.

    All around us in Bhaktapur, there is despair and hopelessness. The local police and the army are here, but, quite frankly, pickaxes, shovels and bare hands are not going to find too many people under this mountain of rubble. They need help. They need international help. They need rubble-moving equipment urgently. And at the moment, they’re not seeing it here.

    So regular are the aftershocks here, and so frightened the people, that at Bhaktapur’s hospital, they are being treated outside under tents. These people feel betrayed by nature and must wonder what on earth has happened to them and their city. This place has stood for centuries as the pride of this great city. Now Bhaktapur stands only as a shattered testimony to nature’s indiscriminate power.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: U.S. officials said today at least four Americans are among the dead in Nepal. We will have a report from near the quake epicenter and much more after the news summary.

    GWEN IFILL: The issue of drone strikes on militants in Pakistan took a new turn today. It was widely reported that President Obama has secretly allowed the CIA greater leeway in launching strikes in Pakistan. Rules governing drone attacks elsewhere were tightened in 2013 to cut down on civilian casualties. The president announced last week that a strike in January killed two hostages, one American and one Italian.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Loretta Lynch was sworn in today as U.S. attorney general. She’s the first black woman to hold the office. Vice President Biden administered the oath of office at the Justice Department. In her remarks, Lynch didn’t mention police killings of minorities directly, but she made clear it’s a main challenge.

    LORETTA LYNCH, Attorney General: We can imbue our criminal justice system with both strength and fairness for the protection of both the needs of victims and the rights of all. We can restore trust and faith both in our laws and in those of us who enforce them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Lynch succeeds Eric Holder, who served as attorney general for six years.

    GWEN IFILL: Lawyers for the convicted Boston Marathon bomber urged a jury today to spare his life. In its opening statement, the defense said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was led astray by his older brother. Attorney David Bruck argued against imposing the death penalty, saying there is no evening the scales. Instead, he called for a sentence of life without parole.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Another labor dispute has hit the nation’s busiest port complex. Hundreds of truck drivers walked off the job at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in Southern California. Their trucks sat idle as they walked a picket line demanding better pay.

    GWEN IFILL: President Obama warned today against moves in Congress to rein in free trade. He told The Wall Street Journal that China will step into the vacuum if Congress fails to approve a trade deal with Asia.

    Later, the President welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Abe and took him on a tour of the Lincoln Memorial.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Wall Street started the week on a down note. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 40 points to close below 18040. The Nasdaq fell 30, and the S&P 500 slid eight.

    The post News Wrap: Kathmandu overwhelmed by rubble after earthquake appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Kareem James Abu-Zeid reads his translation of Najwan Darwish’s poem “Sleeping in Gaza” from his collection “Nothing More To Lose” at the 2015 AWP Conference and Bookfair in Minneapolis. The text of the poem is below.

    Sleeping in Gaza

    Fado, I’ll sleep like people do
    when shells are falling
    and the sky is torn like living flesh
    I’ll dream, then, like people do
    when shells are falling:
    I’ll dream of betrayals

    I’ll wake at noon and ask the radio
    the questions people ask of it:
    Is the shelling over?
    How many were killed?

    But my tragedy, Fado,
    is that there are two types of people:
    those who cast their suffering and sins
    into the streets so they can sleep
    and those who collect the people’s suffering and sins
    mold them into crosses, and parade them
    through the streets of Babylon and Gaza and Beirut
    all the while crying
    Are there any more to come?
    Are there any more to come?

    Two years ago I walked through the streets
    of Dahieh, in southern Beirut
    and dragged a cross
    as large as the wrecked buildings
    But who today will lift a cross
    from the back of a weary man in Jerusalem?

    The earth is three nails
    and mercy a hammer:
    Strike, Lord
    Strike with the planes

    Are there any more to come?

    Najwan Darwish, one of the foremost Arabic-language poets of his generation, was born in Jerusalem in 1978. He has worked as the editor of two cultural magazines in Palestine and was a cultural critic for the prominent Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar from 2006 to 2012. Darwish has been an organizer and advisor for many public arts projects, among them the Palestine Festival of Literature. In 2009, he founded a literary press in Jerusalem, and he is currently involved in establishing a new pan-Arab newspaper, where he will be the chief editor of the arts and culture section. In 2009, he was on the Hay Festival Beirut’s list of the “Best 39 Arab authors under the age of 39.” He lives in Jerusalem.

    Kareem James Abu-Zeid is an award-winning translator of poets and novelists from across the Arab world. His most recent book-length translations include Najwan Darwish’s “Nothing More to Lose,” Dunya Mikhail’s “The Iraqi Nights” and Rabee Jaber’s “The Mehlis Report.” He has received a Lannan Foundation residency and a Fulbright research fellowship, among other honors, and received Poetry magazine’s 2014 translation prize. He is currently writing a book called “Lighting the Mind: A History of Psychedelic Literature from the Rig Veda to the Present Day,” which is doubling as his PhD dissertation at the University of California at Berkeley.

    This video was filmed at the AWP Conference & Bookfair. Special thanks to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs.

    The post Poet reflects on his time ‘Sleeping in Gaza’ during airstrikes appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Zar Aslam, president of Pakistan's non-profit Environment Protection Fund, drives a Pink Rickshaw in Lahore on April 8. Aslam, a Pakistani environmentalist, fed up with being groped and harassed by male auto-rickshaw drivers, has launched her own service exclusively for women passengers and drivers in her home city of Lahore. Photo by Mohsin Raza/Reuters

    Zar Aslam, president of Pakistan’s non-profit Environment Protection Fund, drives a Pink Rickshaw in Lahore on April 8. Aslam, a Pakistani environmentalist, fed up with being groped and harassed by male auto-rickshaw drivers, launched her own service exclusively for women passengers and drivers in her home city of Lahore. Photo by Mohsin Raza/Reuters

    The visibility of women in public life is increasing in Pakistan as more are entering the workforce and attending school. But showing up at work and going to school both require a daily commute, and in the male-dominated world of public transportation, women who travel alone in Pakistan are often subject to harassment, ranging from casual annoyances to violence and sexual assault.

    Zar Aslam, a native of Lahore, Pakistan, decided to do something about it.

    Aslam, who is the CEO and founder of the Environment Protection Fund, experienced the harassment firsthand and saw how disrespect and mistreatment of women can create obstacles for how they lead their lives.

    “They have to cut back on half of their activities simply because they don’t feel safe,” she said.

    Last year, Aslam began working on the Pink Rickshaw Initiative — a transport service with women-only drivers who give rides exclusively to female passengers. The goal of the project is to empower women professionally and financially so they can better engage in public life. By protecting them from sexual harassment and assault, they can attend classes, go to work and do other things without fear, she said.

    Zar Aslam, president of Pakistan's non-profit Environment Protection Fund, poses inside a Pink Rickshaw in Lahore. Photo courtesy of Aslam

    Zar Aslam, president of Pakistan’s non-profit Environment Protection Fund, poses inside a Pink Rickshaw in Lahore. Photo courtesy of Aslam

    Pakistan’s reputation for domestic violence and harassment has made it notoriously dangerous to be a woman there. The government has taken steps to address the issue and in 2010 it passed a law against harassment in the workplace.

    Khawar Mumtaz, chairwoman of the National Commission of the Status of Women, said the men who lash out are reacting to new competition with women as they enter the public sphere.

    “Because women come into their own, a lot of men feel challenged. One way of getting back is through harassment,” said Mumtaz.

    The law can only provide so much protection when it is unevenly applied and people are not aware of it, she said. “Change is taking place, but much more is needed through the media, school curricula and affirmative action of ensuring women’s participation in public and private institutions.”

    The Pink Rickshaw Initiative’s strategy is to facilitate rickshaw ownership in exchange for giving rides to other women.

    After an application process, a prospective driver is visited at home and her needs are assessed. Once she receives her driver’s license, she can take a loan on a rickshaw to be paid off in monthly installments over two years.

    Unlike a typical rickshaw service, the women of Pink Rickshaw are not assigned specific hours or rates to charge customers. Rather, they work when they want and set their own rates, as long as they cover the monthly installment for the rickshaw. The installment depends on how much of a down payment they provided.

    The pink rickshaws also set themselves apart through the use of doors, a feature intended to add a level of privacy and visual appeal most other rickshaws do not have.

    A man rides an auto rickshaw displaying election campaign posters in Lahore on May 6, 2013. Rickshaws are a popular form of transportation in Pakistan. Photo by Mani Rana/Reuters

    A typical rickshaw is seen in Lahore on May 6, 2013. Rickshaws are a popular form of transportation in Pakistan. Photo by Mani Rana/Reuters

    This year, the first pink rickshaw hit the streets of Lahore. The initiative now operates five of the three-wheeled vehicles. Aslam admitted it’s a small start but necessary for it to be monitored properly in its initial stages. The project is financed through private donations and some international funding.

    Past efforts to create safe spaces for women on buses have run into the problem of separating women from their male family members. To ensure that women can still travel with their families while maintaining the integrity of the project, the initiative allows drivers to take close male friends and family, but the women must still drive the vehicle.

    Aslam has responded to those who complain that the women-only service is segregating them by saying the current level of harassment makes women reluctant to integrate at all. By creating this safe space for women to leave their homes, she said, the increased visibility will actually desegregate the women in the long run.

    People also raised concerns about the bright pink color, which they said could be interpreted as a stereotypical presentation of women and serve as a potential target for harassment. But to Aslam, the color was mainly to make the rickshaws eye-catching and easily identifiable for women, and it wouldn’t change the level of harassment women would face if they were painted differently.

    “If there are people going to target women it’s going to happen regardless of whether they’re standing outside waiting for a rickshaw, waiting for a car, in a bus, in a blue rickshaw, or a pink rickshaw,” she said.

    Aslam said others have responded well to the initiative, and many women have approached her wanting to learn how to drive, and even men have asked if their wives could receive training.

    “Women who want to drive are getting support from their husbands, their friends, their colleagues, so already it feels like we’ve broken the ice,” she said.

    Aslam added that she is working on raising funds to expand the service, which is challenging, but she feels like each pink rickshaw on the road is another step toward curtailing harassment.

    View all of our Social Entrepreneurship profiles and tweet us your suggestions for more groups to cover.

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    The guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut is shown in this undated photo operating in heavy seas in the Atlantic Ocean. Iranian forces boarded a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship in the Gulf on Tuesday after patrol boats fired warning shots across its bow and ordered it deeper into Iranian waters, the Pentagon said.  The closest U.S. warship was more than 60 miles away, he said, and the U.S. military instructed destroyer USS Farragut to head towards the cargo ship, which was passing through the Strait of Hormuz at the time.  Photo by Aaron Chase/Reuters/U.S. Navy/Handout

    The guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut is shown in this undated photo operating in heavy seas in the Atlantic Ocean. Iranian forces boarded a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship in the Gulf on Tuesday after patrol boats fired warning shots across its bow and ordered it deeper into Iranian waters, the Pentagon said. The closest U.S. warship was more than 60 miles away, he said, and the U.S. military instructed destroyer USS Farragut to head towards the cargo ship, which was passing through the Strait of Hormuz at the time. Photo by Aaron Chase/Reuters/U.S. Navy/Handout

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iranian forces fired warning shots across the bridge of a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo vessel as it was traversing the Strait of Hormuz, boarded the ship and directed it toward the Iranian mainland, a Pentagon official said Tuesday.

    The incident, which prompted the U.S. Navy to dispatch a destroyer and a plane in response, comes as Iran and the U.S. along with other world powers try to hammer out a final deal over Tehran’s nuclear program.

    The ship was traveling through the narrow strait, which is technically Iranian territorial water, but under international agreement is open to foreign ships making an innocent passage, said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. It wasn’t clear whether the ship had strayed off course into coastal waters not protected by that agreement.

    The master of the cargo ship MV Maersk Tigris had initially refused an Iranian order to move further into Iranian waters, but after the warning shots were fired the vessel complied, Warren said.

    The cargo ship was directed to waters near Larak Island, he said. The island sits off the major Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and is one of several in the Strait of Hormuz.

    Iranian state television reported that only 24 crew were onboard the vessel, and hailed from Britain, Bulgaria, Romania and Myanmar. It said the ship was seized based on a court order due to unspecified violations. Iranian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

    Bandar Abbas is the main port for Iran’s Navy and separate naval forces operated by the elite Revolutionary Guard, as well as the country’s primary commercial port. It overlooks the Strait of Hormuz, the highly strategic waterway at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.

    The strait is the route for about a fifth of the world’s oil and is only about 33 kilometers (21 miles) wide at its narrowest point. Ships traversing the chokepoint have even less room to maneuver. The shipping lane in either direction is only two miles wide, with a two-mile buffer zone between them.

    Iran has in the past threatened to block the strait, a move that could spark a military conflict in the Gulf. American and allied naval forces routinely patrol the strait and have conducted military drills aimed at countering threats such as sea mines that Iran might use to close the waterway.

    Tehran frequently conducts military exercises of its own in and around the strait. Large-scale, live-fire naval drills in February saw Revolutionary Guard forces assault a replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier built in a Bandar Abbas shipyard.

    “It is inappropriate” for the Iranians to have fired warning shots across the ship’s bridge in Tuesday’s circumstances, Warren said. He said it was too early to know whether the Iranian intervention amounted to a violation of the freedom of navigation through a waterway heavily used by international shipping.

    Warren said the cargo ship had been boarded by Iranians, but no one was injured and no Americans were involved. The spokesman said the U.S. government has “certain obligations” to defend the interests of the Marshall Islands, but he was uncertain how those obligations to the Pacific Ocean nation apply in this situation.

    The Iranian vessels, numbering five or six, were with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, he said. The incident began at about 4:05 a.m. U.S. Eastern Daylight Time, he said.

    After the cargo ship sent a distre6ss call, the U.S. Navy sent the destroyer USS Farragut and a Navy maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft to the area of the incident to monitor the situation, according to Warren.

    Lt. Joseph Hontz, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain, which oversees American maritime operations in the region, declined to comment further on the incident and referred queries to the Pentagon.

    Maersk, based in Copenhagen, Denmark, said the ship was chartered to Rickmers Ship Management, based in Hamburg, Germany. Maersk said it had no information about the crew or the cargo. Sabina Pech, a Rickmers spokeswoman in Hamburg, said she was aware of the incident but had no information and could not comment.

    In 2007, Revolutionary Guard forces captured 15 British sailors and marines from a frigate in the Gulf, accusing them of operating in Iranian waters. They were released less tha

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    Justices heard arguments about same-sex marriage today in the Supreme Court. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

    Justices heard arguments about same-sex marriage today in the Supreme Court. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON (AP) — Pivotal Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose vote could decide the same-sex marriage issue for the nation, did not tip his hand Tuesday in historic arguments at the Supreme Court. But Kennedy’s record on the issue could give encouragement to gay and lesbian couples.

    As advocates and protesters demonstrated outside, the author of the court’s three prior gay rights rulings talked about the touchstones of dignity and concern for children in same-sex households that drove his favorable earlier opinions.

    But he also worried about changing the definition of marriage from the union of a man and a woman, a meaning that he said has existed for “millennia-plus time.”

    “It’s very difficult for the court to say ‘We know better'” after barely a decade of experience with same-sex marriage in the United States, Kennedy told Mary Bonauto, a lawyer representing same-sex couples.

    The 78-year-old justice’s likely role as a key, perhaps decisive vote was reinforced during arguments that lasted 2½ hours in a rapt courtroom and appeared to divide the court’s liberal and conservative justices over whether the Constitution gives same-sex couples the right to marry. Those couples can do so now in 36 states and the District of Columbia, and the court is weighing whether gay and lesbian unions should be allowed in all 50 states.

    “Samesex couples say, of course, ‘We understand the nobility and the sacredness of marriage. We know we can’t procreate, but we want the other attributes of it in order to show that we, too, have a dignity that can be fulfilled,'” Kennedy said in an exchange with lawyer John Bursch, who was defending the state marriage bans

    Later, Kennedy also seemed concerned about adopted children in same-sex households if only one partner is considered a parent. “Under your view, it would be very difficult for same-sex couples to adopt those children,” Kennedy said.

    Tuesday’s arguments offered the first public indication of where the justices stand in the dispute over whether states can continue defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, or whether the Constitution gives gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. In the court’s last look at same-sex marriage in 2013, the justices struck down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law. Federal courts with few exceptions have relied on Kennedy’s opinion in that case to invalidate gay marriage bans in state after state.

    The court divided 5-4 in that case, with the liberals joining Kennedy in the majority. Their questions on Tuesday suggested they would vote to extend same-sex marriage nationwide, while conservative justices’ questions and comments were much more skeptical.

    Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor both said marriage was a fundamental right and a state would need a truly compelling reason to deny it to a class of people. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said heterosexual couples would retain the same marriage benefits they currently have, whether or not same-sex couples also could marry.

    Bursch argued repeatedly that states could prohibit same-sex unions because marriage always has been about biological bonds between parents and their children.

    Justice Elena Kagan said some people have difficulty with that argument, finding it “hard to see how permitting samesex marriage discourages people from being bonded with their biological children.”

    If the definition of marriage is changed, Bursch said, “then adults could think, rightly, that this relationship is more about adults and not about the kids.”

    The actual cases before the court involve same-sex couples in which both partners want recognition as adoptive parents. In one case, Detroit-area nurses April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are seeking joint adoption of their four children, and Bursch was quick to say he was not talking about them.

    “We all agree that they are bonded to their kids and have their best interest at heart,” he said.

    Most of the questions from conservative justices appeared skeptical of gay-marriage arguments.

    Chief Justice Roberts said gay couples seeking to marry are not seeking to join the institution of marriage. “You’re seeking to change what the institution is,” he said to Bonauto.

    Roberts also said people would be more accepting of change achieved through the democratic process, rather than imposed by courts. Only 11 states have granted marriage rights to same-sex couples through the ballot or the legislature. Court rulings are responsible for all the others.

    Yet the chief justice also questioned the states’ argument.

    “If Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, Sue can marry him and Tom can’t. Why isn’t that a straightforward question of sexual discrimination?” he asked.

    Justice Samuel Alito suggested that basing marriage on lasting bonds and emotional commitment — instead of providing stable homes for children — might open the right to marry to siblings who live together, close friends who are not romantically or sexually involved and groups of more than two people. “What would be the logic of denying them the same right?” Alito asked.

    Justice Antonin Scalia said he worried that a court decision in favor of same-sex marriage would force ministers to stop officiating at weddings altogether if they refused to perform same-sex weddings. Bonauto and some of Scalia’s colleagues tried to persuade him that ministers have a right to refuse any couple for religious reasons.

    Scalia also said the issue is not whether there should be same-sex marriage “but who should decide the point,” embracing the states’ argument.

    Justice Clarence Thomas asked no questions, as is his custom.

    The session was interrupted once by a protester who yelled that supporters of gay marriage “will burn in hell.” He was removed by security.

    In the last part of the session, devoted to whether states have to recognize same-sex marriages from elsewhere, both Kennedy and Roberts directed skeptical questions to a lawyer for same-sex couples, Douglas Hallward-Driemeier.

    Why should one state “have to yield” in recognizing a marriage from another state? Kennedy asked.

    And Roberts suggested that states’ rights would be undermined if residents of states that forbid same-sex unions could get married elsewhere, then return home and demand recognition.

    “One state would basically set the policy for the entire nation,” he said.

    People on both sides of the issue gathered outside the marble courthouse.

    “Homo sex is a sin,” read one sign. A man shouted into a microphone that gays violate the laws of God, while a group of same-sex advocates tried to drown him out by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

    Cheers went up when the court’s doors opened, allowing a lucky few who lined up days ago to get inside.

    The cases before the court come from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, four of the 14 remaining states that allow only heterosexual marriage. Those four had marriage bans upheld by the federal appeals court in Cincinnati in November, the only federal appeals court that has ruled in favor of the states since the Supreme Court 2013 ruling.

    Massachusetts was the first state to allow same-sex marriage, in 2004. As recently as last October, barely a third of the states permitted it.

    The Supreme Court decision is expected in late June.

    The post Justices weigh decision following same-sex marriage arguments before the Supreme Court appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Barack Obama expresses frustration over the number and frequency of black deaths that occur while in police custody.  Photo by Jonathan Ernst /Reuters

    President Barack Obama expresses frustration over the number and frequency of black deaths that occur while in police custody. Photo by Jonathan Ernst /Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Urging Americans to “do some soul-searching,” President Barack Obama expressed deep frustration Tuesday over recurring black deaths at the hands of police, rioters responding with senseless violence and a society that will only “feign concern” without addressing the root causes.

    “This is not new. It’s been going on for decades,” Obama said from the White House a day after rioting erupted 40 miles north in Baltimore following the funeral for Freddie Gray, who died of a spinal cord injury after being arrested.

    Gray is the latest black man to die at the hands of police, prompting protests and calls for criminal justice reform. Some have criticized America’s first black president for not speaking out forcefully enough as he tries to avoid criticism of law enforcement, and he responded by calling the deaths “a slow-rolling crisis.”

    “We have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African-American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions. It comes up, it seems like, once a week now,” Obama said. He said although such cases aren’t unprecedented, there’s new awareness as a result of cameras and social media. “We shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.”

    Still, Obama showed no sympathy for rioters, saying those who stole from businesses and burned buildings and cars should be treated as criminals. Obama said they distracted from days of peaceful protests focused on legitimate concerns “over the possibility that our laws were not applied evenly in the case of Mr. Gray and that accountability needs to exist.”

    “There’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday,” Obama said. “It is counterproductive. When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement, they’re stealing.”

    But he also criticized a society that doesn’t do enough to uplift poor minority communities. He said the solution to deep-seeded problems that spur violence include early education, criminal justice reform and job training, while suggesting that kind of a response is out of reach with a Republican Congress. “I’m under no illusion that out of this Congress we’re going to get massive investments in urban communities,” Obama said.

    “It’s too easy to ignore those problems or to treat them just as a law-and-order issue as opposed to a broader social issue,” Obama said.

    The president spoke during a state visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at one point apologizing to his guest for taking nearly 15 minutes of their news conference to discuss it. “I felt pretty strongly about it,” he said.

    Obama said America should not just pay attention to these communities “when a CVS burns” or when “a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped.” He said he can’t force police departments across the country to retrain their officers, but he can work with them and help pay for body cameras to improve accountability.

    “In those environments, if we think that we’re just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there, without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we’re not going to solve this problem,” he said. “And we’ll go through the same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities and the occasional riots in the streets. And everybody will feign concern until it goes away and then we go about our business as usual.”

    The post President Obama says he’s frustrated over ‘slow-rolling crisis’ of black deaths in police custody appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A woman kisses the casket of Freddie Gray, who died following an arrest by the Baltimore police department, at his burial at Woodlawn Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland on April 27, 2015. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    A woman kisses the casket of Freddie Gray, who died following an arrest by the Baltimore police department, at his burial at Woodlawn Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland on April 27, 2015. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    At some point during a 30-minute ride in a police van, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, sustained a severe spinal injury before reaching Central Booking. Gray would die a week later from the trauma. But critical details about the arrest and that ride in the van remain unknown.

    It’s unclear at what point Gray suffered the injury — a severed spinal cord — that would later lead to his death or how exactly that injury occurred. Also unknown is why he was arrested in the first place.

    Here’s what we do know.

    Members of the community hold hands in front of police officers in riot gear outside a recently looted and burned CVS store in Baltimore, Maryland on April 28, 2015. Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

    Members of the community hold hands in front of police officers in riot gear outside a recently looted and burned CVS store in Baltimore, Maryland on April 28, 2015. Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters


    According to events laid out by the Baltimore Police Department and Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez, Gray ran from police officers “after making eye contact” with them at 8:30 a.m. at the intersection of W. North Avenue and N. Mount Street, an area known for drug dealing. Three police officers — one on foot, two on bicycles — pursued Gray through the West Baltimore neighborhood, eventually stopping him at the 1700 block of Presbury Street.

    Police found a switchblade in Gray’s pockets. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake later made it clear that Gray wasn’t pursued because of a switchblade. “We know that having a knife is not necessarily a crime,” the mayor said.

    Court documents said Gray “fled unprovoked” and was arrested “without force or incident.” At an April 20 news conference, Rodriguez said one officer had taken out a Taser, but that internal records indicated it was not used.

    It’s not clear whether Gray’s injuries, which also included a crushed voice box, occurred before or during the van ride, Rodriguez said.

    Bystander videos of the arrest show police officers dragging the 145-pound Gray, who’s apparently screaming in pain, to the van:

    This video, captured by a bystander, shows Freddie Gray being dragged to the police van by officers. Video by YouHotNews

    Eyewitness accounts tell a different story, according to people interviewed by the Baltimore Sun. Kevin Moore, a friend of Gray who recorded the arrest, told the Sun that police folded Gray like “a piece of origami.”

    An officer had his knee on Gray’s neck, and Gray was “screaming for life,” Moore told the Sun.

    Also, before being loaded into the van, Gray had requested his inhaler. The request was ignored.

    The van then made two stops before arriving at Baltimore’s Western District station. At the first stop, the driver complained that Gray was “acting irate.” In response, officers stopped the van and put Gray in leg restraints.

    At the second stop, officers picked up another suspect who was placed in the back of the van with Gray. The two suspects were separated by a metal barrier that would have prevented any contact, police said.

    “[The suspect] could hear Mr. Gray, but he could not see him,” Rodriguez said.

    When the van reached the station, officers found Gray unresponsive. A medic was called at 9:24 a.m.

    “When he was placed inside that van, he was able to talk. He was upset,” Rodriguez said at the April 20 conference. “And when Mr. Gray was taken out of the van, he could not talk, he could not breathe.”

    Demonstrators confront law enforcement officers near the Baltimore Police Department's Western District to protest against the death of Freddie Gray in police custody on April 25, 2015. Photo by Sait Serkan Gurbuz/Reuters

    Demonstrators confront law enforcement officers near the Baltimore Police Department’s Western District to protest against the death of Freddie Gray in police custody on April 25, 2015. Photo by Sait Serkan Gurbuz/Reuters


    Mayor Rawlings-Blake said at an April 20 news conference that it was clear that whatever happened to Gray “happened inside the van” and that no regulation requires an officer to accompany a suspect in the back of the vehicle.

    Days later, at an April 24 news conference, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts acknowledged that mistakes were made during and after Gray’s arrest. The police department will issue its preliminary report to prosecutors this Friday, he added. Gov. Larry Hogan said an autopsy conducted by the state medical examiner is also forthcoming.

    “We know our police employees failed to get [Gray] medical attention in a timely manner multiple times,” Batts said.

    Batts also said there were no excuses for officers to not buckle Gray into his seat. As such, some have speculated that Gray’s injuries were possibly caused by a “rough ride,” an unsanctioned — and illegal — technique.

    “By policy, detainees are supposed to be seatbelted and secured inside a van,” The Sun’s Luke Broadwater told the NewsHour, “and anytime an officer drives erratically to try to throw somebody around and injure them, that is intentionally causing harm, and that is not allowed under police procedures.”

    The Sun reported that a lieutenant, a sergeant and four other officers have been suspended with pay during the ongoing police investigation. The BPD have yet to specify the officers’ races.

    Baltimore police said any evidence from their internal investigation will be turned over to Marilyn Mosby, the state’s attorney. The U.S. Justice Department has also opened a civil rights investigation into Gray’s death.

    “I’m deeply troubled by this. We all want to know, but I can’t answer what I don’t know,” Rodriguez said at the April 20 news conference.

    The post What we know and don’t know about Freddie Gray’s death appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A member of the community makes a heart gesture with his hands in front of a line of police officers in riot gear, near a recently looted and burned CVS store in Baltimore, Maryland, April 28, 2015. Baltimore's mayor came under criticism on Tuesday for a slow police response to some of the worst urban violence in the United States in years in which shops were looted, buildings burned to the ground and 20 officers were injured.REUTERS/Jim Bourg

    A member of the Baltimore community stands in front of a line of police officers in riot gear near a recently looted and burned CVS store. Photo by Reuters/Jim Bourg.

    Baltimore schools are closed in light of the riots over Freddie Gray’s death, but not all public buildings are following suit. The city’s public libraries, even those in the middle of the protests, will remain open to provide a place of “comfort and community” to Baltimore residents.

    “It’s at times like this that the community needs us,” Roswell Encina , Director of Communications of Enoch Pratt Free Library, told MTV News. “That’s what the library has always been there for, from crises like this to a recession to the aftermath of severe weather. The library has been there. It happened in Ferguson; it’s happening here.”

    The city is in a state of emergency since violent protests broke out Monday night, hours after Gray’s funeral. In the epicenter of the riots is the Baltimore’s Pennsylvania Avenue library — a branch that, according to MTV News reports, has already received praise for staying open.

    The post Baltimore libraries stay open to provide community support appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    tonynoms

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    GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight: Broadway honors some of its finest shows and performers. The Tony nominations were released today, with the musicals “An American in Paris” and “Fun Home” leading the pack with 12 nods each.

    Arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown has profiled several of this year’s nominees, including “Disgraced,” which is up for best play. It examines questions about identity and Islam in America after 9/11.

    Jeff spoke with playwright, Ayad Akhtar, about what he was hoping to convey to audiences.

    AYAD AKHTAR, Playwright, “Disgraced”: There was a character who was speaking to me with this kind of relentless passion, Amir, the lead character in the play, who has this very particular point of view on Islam.

    He’s Muslim birth — of birth and origin, but has sort of strongly moved away from it and is very critical of Islam. But I came to understand that what the play was really trying to get at was the way in which we secretly continue to hold on to our tribal identities, our identities of birth, of education, despite our — despite getting more enlightened.

    JEFFREY BROWN: There’s almost a suggestion that, whatever we do, our education, or our jobs, or our marriages, we can’t — we never get past this kind of tribal allegiances.

    AYAD AKHTAR: It — I didn’t seem to be able to pull the play away from that conclusion. I tried.

    But these characters continued to find meaning and find some kind of safety as the situation, the dramatic situation devolved, in those tribal identities.

    GWEN IFILL: The play “Wolf Hall” picked up eight nominations, including best play and best costume design. It’s based on a novel by British author Hilary Mantel, which tells the story of King Henry VIII and his chief adviser, Thomas Cromwell.

    And in addition to a play, the novel has been made into a “Masterpiece” miniseries on PBS.

    Jeff’s piece on “Wolf Hall,” in all its forms, aired earlier this month. Here’s a portion of that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The theater production also went for historical accuracy, from jewelry to the elaborate costumes, which took 25 seamstresses more than 8,000 hours to make.

    Mantel has worked closely with both productions, especially the play, including attending previews on Broadway, observing actor Ben Miles as Cromwell, and then giving notes and ideas to the director and cast.

    HILARY MANTEL, Author, “Wolf Hall”: I don’t think of the novels when I’m in the theater, but my mind is divided, because part of me is thinking, now, this scene is looking interesting tonight. What is the king going to do next?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Really? Even you’re thinking that?

    (LAUGHTER)

    HILARY MANTEL: I think that an imaginative writer for stage or novel has a — still has a responsibility to their reader, and that responsibility is to get the history right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You want to do that?

    HILARY MANTEL: Absolutely. That’s the absolute foundation of what I do.

    I begin to imagine at the point where the facts run out. But, like a historian, I’m working on the great marshy ground of interpretation.

    GWEN IFILL: Online, you can watch the complete interviews, plus Jeff Brown’s chat with Elisabeth Moss, nominated today for best actress for her performance in “The Heidi Chronicles.”

    That and more is on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.

     

    The post ‘Disgraced,’ ‘Wolf Hall’ among Tony nominees for Best Play appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    This Saturday, boxing’s pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather will take on his No. 1 competitor Manny Pacquiao for the first time. Photo by  Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports.

    This Saturday, boxing’s pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather will take on his No. 1 competitor Manny Pacquiao for the first time. Photo by Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports.

    This Saturday, boxing’s pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather will take on his No. 1 competitor Manny Pacquiao for the first time in a match Sports Illustrated has called “the fight of the century.” The two will face off in Las Vegas and, like all boxing matches, the fight will be available in the U.S. only via closed circuit, pay-per-view television. It will cost $99 in HD.

    Both Mayweather and Pacquiao will make millions from the fight, but Mayweather will take home the most money. Despite claims that boxing’s popularity in the U.S. is on the decline, Mayweather was the world’s highest paid athlete in 2014. His take from Saturday’s fight could come close to equaling the NFL salary cap — that is the maximum amount an entire pro-football team can make in a year. Some are calling on fans to boycott the fight because they do not want any more money going to Mayweather.

    Do you plan to watch the fight on Saturday? Should Mayweather have faced sanctions or been suspended after his domestic abuse conviction? Do boxing fans tolerate athletes’ violent behavior more so than fans of other sports? How did pay-per-view come to dominate boxing coverage, and how has this affected the sports fan base and profit margins? We’ll address these questions and more in a Twitter chat this Thursday, April 30, from 1-2 p.m. EDT. Journalist, podcaster and boxing blogger Alex McClintock (@axmcc) will share his expertise. Follow along and chime in using #NewsHourChats.

    The post Twitter chat: Has boxing’s popularity taken a hit from pay-per-view TV? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    vietnamwar

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: This week marks the fortieth anniversary of the fall of Saigon, when the North Vietnamese army finally took over the city, bringing a two-decade-long conflict to a close.

    Tonight’s American Experience on PBS tells the story of those frenzied final days in an Oscar-nominated documentary, “Last Days in Vietnam.”

    I sat down with filmmaker Rory Kennedy recently about her film, which shows harrowing evacuations, the city under assault, and efforts to save Americans and South Vietnamese.

    We began with an excerpt about those final hours.

    FRANK SNEPP, Former CIA Operative: That morning, CIA choppers began picking up evacuees off the roofs of buildings and bringing them to the embassy.

    There was an old pilot named O.B. Harnage. He was blind in one eye and lame in one leg. And I said, Harnage, we have got people at 6 Chalang. You got to go pick them up.

    It was the deputy CIA station chief’s apartment building. There were a number of very high-risk Vietnamese, including the defense minister of South Vietnam, all waiting to be rescued. As they climbed up the ladder to the roof, the photographer took that famous photograph. Many people thought that was the U.S. Embassy. It wasn’t. But it indicated to what extent chaos had descended on this entire operation.

    STUART HERRINGTON, Former Captain: Inside the embassy, everywhere we looked was teeming with Vietnamese. We counted. And the total number was about 2,800.

    There was no hiding it that somehow people had to have let these people into the embassy. Was it, you know, Marine security guards who kind of looked the other way? Was it American employees in the embassy who were doing kind of what we did, black ops, and taking care of their own? We never got to the bottom of that, and, frankly, we never pursued it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Rory Kennedy, who has created the documentary “Last Days in Vietnam,” thank you for being with us.

    And, as we just saw, a remarkable story, there was chaos, but it was also an incredible human story, wasn’t it?

    RORY KENNEDY, Director, “Last Days in Vietnam”: It is a human story.

    And I think that the film ultimately is a reminder of the human cost of war. The way we tell the story, we don’t have a narrator. We don’t have any historians. It’s all people who were in Saigon, who were on the front lines and telling us what happened.

    And it really is told like a thriller. You know, these extraordinary events unfold and the people on the ground acted with incredible courage. And I think what is — one of the things that’s remarkable about the story is, it’s really been largely untold. I think it’s a story we think we know. For example, that helicopter, we all think was on top of the embassy. It wasn’t on top of the embassy.

    And that’s what we know of the story, but we don’t know what happened. And I think for the first time, this story is told in the film, and it’s really eye-opening.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, you said, we think we know so much. And it’s true. So much has been written and said and filmed about Vietnam.

    What drew you back to it and especially what drew you back to those final hours?

    RORY KENNEDY: Well, I think, in part, I felt that the story had not been told and needed to be told.

    I think that Vietnam is a seminal moment in our nation’s history, and to go back and tell the story of these final days seemed important, but also timely. I think we’re struggling with how to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. And there are a lot of lessons to be learned from what happened in Vietnam, how we got out of that war, what we failed to do, our responsibility to the people left behind, particularly the people who worked so closely with Americans who, because of their association with the Americans, faced greater vulnerability.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There were some truly courageous people, are truly courageous people in the telling of this story.

    In fact, you really — you focus on the heroes, the ones who went against what they were being told by their bosses, whether it was the White House or the ambassador, and worked very hard to get as many Vietnamese out as possible.

    RORY KENNEDY: I think the film takes an unflinching look at American policy and the fact that ultimately we abandoned our Vietnamese allies. But, in the face of that, there were handful of Americans and South Vietnamese who were on the ground who really acted heroically, who went against U.S. policy, who certainly risked their jobs and arguably their lives to save as many Vietnamese as possible.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you were able to get remarkable video from on board the ships that were out just offshore from Vietnam, some with helicopters landing, jammed, crammed with people who were just, some of them miraculously, able to get them to safety.

    RORY KENNEDY: Yes, well, it’s an extraordinary story.

    What happened was, the U.S. fleet was in the South China Sea, and the U.S. helicopters were heading out to that fleet. The South Vietnamese air force had disintegrated. But there were still South Vietnamese pilots with their helicopters, so they started chasing the U.S. helicopters out to the fleet, and first ship they came to the was the USS Kirk.

    And the captain of the Kirk said, who are these people? We don’t know. Let’s bring them down, brought the first helicopter down. So many Vietnamese came out. They were so grateful. They didn’t have room for more helicopters. The crew said, what do we do? And he said, throw that helicopter overboard. Let’s make room for the next one.

    There is an amazing story in the film of a Chinook helicopter that comes to the Kirk. It’s the double-prop helicopter. It can’t land because it’s too big. The helicopter pilot opens the door of the helicopter. He has his 8-month-old baby, his 2-year-old, 5-year-old, and he throws them out the door on to the moving ship that’s 18 feet below.

    MIKI NGUYEN, Former South Vietnamese Refugee: One by one, we jump out. I jumped out. My brother jumped out. My mom was holding my sister, obviously, very scary.

    And she just — you know, just trustingly, just with one hand, with her right hand, holding on with her left to brace herself, just dropped my baby sister.

    HUGH DOYLE, Former Navy Officer: One guy was standing there. And he said he looked up and he saw this big bundle of stuff flying out and it was the baby. It was the 1-year-old baby.

    RORY KENNEDY: Can you imagine throwing your child out of a helicopter and…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And the baby was caught.

    RORY KENNEDY: And the baby was caught by the crew. And it’s all on film.

    And the story after story like that in this film that, I mean, I certainly didn’t know going into this, and it has just been a great honor to be able to share it with people.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is part of this to say, it wasn’t all bad, that there were — as you just said, there were people who were doing things, who were trying to save as many South Vietnamese as they could who had been important to Americans?

    RORY KENNEDY: It’s what happened on the ground.

    We really tell the story of what was going on in Saigon in those last 24 hours. The airport was bombed. The North said, you have got 24 hours to get out of here. The evacuation was moved to the embassy. It was based on a helicopter airlift. So the perspective we tell is what was going on at that airport, what was going on in the embassy, what was going on in the fleet.

    What were the helicopter pilots doing? What about the Marines who were left behind? What was happening? And the reality was, they were doing everything they could to save South Vietnamese. And that’s an extraordinary story and a wonderful story.

    And I think it does adjust our understanding a little bit of those final days in an important way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Rory Kennedy, the documentary is “Last Days in Vietnam,” on American Experience.

    We thank you.

    RORY KENNEDY: Thank you so much.

    The post Chaos and the human costs of the Vietnam War’s final days appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Protesters March Over Death Of Freddie Gray

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now the view from the neighborhood where Freddie Gray lived.

    PBS NewsHour special correspondent Jackie Judd has spent the last few days trying to understand why Gray’s has sparked so much rage.

    JACKIE JUDD: Baltimore often lives up to its nickname of Charm City. But after a week of peaceful protests, Baltimore is now showing itself to be an angry and volatile city.

    MAN: Baltimore, we don’t have a good relationship with the police. They whipped our ass every day. This is nothing new to Baltimore.

    JACKIE JUDD: Freddie Gray’s videotaped arrest April 12, and his death a week later from a severe spinal cord injury, has exposed a crisis long in the making.

    The city’s police commissioner, Anthony Batts, acknowledged that broken relationship in a remarkably candid interview.

    ANTHONY BATTS, Commissioner, Baltimore Police Department: Where we thought we were doing God’s work, where we’re going out trying to make the community safer, we have made mass arrests, we have locked people up, we have taken people to jail in numbers, and we have obliterated this community.

    JACKIE JUDD: If there is a ground zero, it is here where Gray lived, Sandtown in West Baltimore, pockmarked by vacant buildings struggling with higher-than-average unemployment and poverty and a robust heroin market. It is a place empty of what usually constitutes a neighborhood.

    There are no grocery stores, no banks, no restaurants, but plentiful liquor stores, a place seemingly without a future for its young men and women.

    Ray Kelly had run-ins with local police as a young man and is now a community activist.

    RAY KELLY, No Boundaries Coalition: You’re dealing with a population here trying to eat, trying to survive. And it’s not really about black or white in this country. Right now, it’s about survival.

    JACKIE JUDD: Officers do not have an easy task in patrolling Sandtown and similar high crime neighborhoods. The very tactics police employ to serve them are alienating residents, like Tito Dillard.

    TITO DILLARD, Sandtown Resident: So, it’s just kind of devastating to know that at the end of the day I would rather put my trust in my neighbor. I would rather call my neighbor in the need of help, rather than somebody who was getting paid.

    JACKIE JUDD: A front-page story in The Baltimore Sun last year caused ripples through the city because it confirmed the reality of what had long been alleged. Investigative reporter Mark Puente documented excessive force almost exclusively against black men and women.

    MARK PUENTE, The Baltimore Sun: They were teenagers up to an 87-year-old grandmother. An 87-year-old grandmother suffered a broken arm. A 60-year-old church deacon, a 25-year-old pregnant accountant, a 50-year-old cafeteria worker.

    JACKIE JUDD: What conclusions did you come away with?

    MARK PUENTE: The Baltimore Police Department has a culture of — where discipline isn’t a priority. We looked at most of these cases — most of the cases that we looked at, we asked for discipline files.

    Many people filed complaints against officers. Internal affairs didn’t investigate them. They couldn’t provide any paperwork on what the complaints said. Or they said they never — the people never filed the complaints, although they did.

    JACKIE JUDD: Despite that stonewalling, residents were still able to reach legal settlements in more than 100 cases, costing the city over $6 million. How did Baltimore get to such a low point?

    In other cities, like North Charleston or Ferguson, where black men have been victimized by police, the assumption has been that if minority communities were more fully represented on the police force and in city hall, then their deaths may not have occurred. But Baltimore has a black mayor, a black police commissioner, a largely black city council and a diverse police force.

    That’s not enough, according to Lawrence Bell, himself a former elected official. It’s less about the color of the officer. It’s about the culture.

    LAWRENCE BELL, Former City Council President: It’s kind of an old boy network. It, unfortunately, is very military to a large extent. And there are people who have been recruited, many of whom have a spirit of service. But then you have people who have a spirit of adventurism. And they’re people who are not from Baltimore who, when they see an African-American male, they see an enemy.

    ANTHONY BATTS: I know that we need to make changes. We need to change the culture in this organization. And I’m going to focus on making it happen.

    JACKIE JUDD: Some here in Baltimore trace the uneasy relations back 50 years to the civil rights movement and subsequent riots, or to the late ’90s, when violent crime was alarmingly high, and then-Mayor Martin O’Malley instituted a zero tolerance crime policy.

    LAWRENCE BELL: What you do is, you go around and arrest people for petty crimes. The idea is that you can stop major crimes by enforcing the petty crimes. But what happened was that we had just an epidemic of arrests.

    JACKIE JUDD: Violent crime dropped dramatically, at a cost.

    LAWRENCE BELL: So it created an antagonism. It seemed as though every black man in the inner city of Baltimore was getting arrested. So you have a whole generation of people who have arrest records, which affects the ability to get employment and so forth. So that exacerbated that strain.

    JACKIE JUDD: Which helps explain in part the rage seen on the streets of Baltimore in recent days.

    At Freddie Gray’s funeral yesterday, speaker after speaker expressed hope that this fraught moment in the city’s history would be an opportunity to institute reform. But, shortly after, that rage again took over, and in the words of Mayor Rawlings-Blake, thugs looted stores, set fires and clashed violently with the police.

    Some reform ideas being talked about include outfitting the police with body cameras. The Gray family’s lawyer spoke about a need for a special prosecutor. Community organizer Ray Kelly wants a more engaged mayor.

    RAY KELLY: She still has not come out as a leader in Sandtown, where we need a leader right now. Right now, unless we can reach every resident individually, we need our city leader to come forward and say, look, this is what we are going to do about it. That’s why there’s pandemonium, because there is no structure from the top.

    JACKIE JUDD: It is not uncommon for black parents to explain to their children how to behave, to be invisible around police. Freddie Gray’s troubles started when he looked an officer in the eye, instead of looking away.

    Mariska Lee, a community activist, says her hope is the change will now come, and the conversation won’t be needed when her toddler son is a teenager.

    MARISKA LEE, Community Activist: The thing that bothers me the most is, sometimes, I see people looking at him and oohing and aahing and cooing. And then I realize how those very same people may one day be afraid of him.

    I see a lot of people saying, you know, I have to teach my son how to interact my son how to interact with the police and how to do this. And I don’t want to have to teach him certain things.

    JACKIE JUDD: It will take breaking very old, very embedded habits to end the long mistrust between the police and those they pledge to serve and protect.

    For the PBS NewsHour, this is Jackie Judd in Baltimore.

    The post Tracing rage and distrust in Freddie Gray’s neighborhood appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GWEN IFILL: We return now to the turmoil in Baltimore, beginning with a portion of President Obama’s extensive remarks on the topic this afternoon in the Rose Garden.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting. They’re not making a statement. They’re stealing. When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson.

    And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities that rob jobs and opportunity from people in that area.

    The violence that happened yesterday distracted from the fact that you had seen multiple days of peaceful protests that were focused on entirely legitimate concerns of these communities in Baltimore, led by clergy and community leaders. And they were constructive, and they were thoughtful, and, frankly, didn’t get that much attention.

    And one burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again, and the thousands of demonstrators who did it the right way I think have been lost in the discussion.

    What I’d say is, this has been a slow-rolling crisis. This has been going on for a long time. This is not new, and we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.

    The good news is, is that perhaps there’s some newfound awareness because of social media and video cameras and so forth that there are problems and challenges when it comes to how policing and our laws are applied in certain communities. And we have to pay attention to it and respond.

    If we are serious about solving this problem, then we’re going to not only have to help the police, we’re going to have to think about what can we do, the rest of us, to make sure that we’re providing early education to these kids, to make sure that we’re reforming our criminal justice system so it’s not just a pipeline from schools to prisons, so that we’re not rendering men in these communities unemployable because of a felony record for a nonviolent drug offense, that we’re making investments so that they can get the training they need to find jobs.

    That’s hard. And that requires more than just the occasional news report or task force. That’s how I feel.

    I think there are a lot of good-meaning people around the country that feel that way. But that kind of political mobilization, I think, we haven’t seen in quite some time.

    And what I’ve tried to do is to promote those ideas that would make a difference. But I think we all understand that the politics of that are tough, because it’s easy to ignore those problems or to treat them just as a law and order issue, as opposed to a broader social issue.

    GWEN IFILL: Less than a month ago all eyes were on North Charleston, South Carolina, where another police department was under fire in the unexplained death of yet another black man.

    Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, one of only two African-Americans in the Senate, is also saying things have to change. I met him at his Capitol Hill office earlier today to talk about it.

    Senator, thank you for joining us.

    SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), South Carolina: Yes, ma’am.

    GWEN IFILL: As you watch everything that’s being — unfolding in Baltimore, does it remind you at all about North Charleston and the Walter Scott situation?

    SEN. TIM SCOTT: The images I see in Baltimore are very different than what I experienced at home in North Charleston for several reasons.

    One reason is that we had a video. The second reason is, there was quick action and arrest. And third is that the mother of the victim was very clear in asking for peace and sharing in her heart the forgiveness that resided in her heart for the officer.

    GWEN IFILL: Two things at work here. On one hand, there is the reaction to the — an incident.

    SEN. TIM SCOTT: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: And then there’s the incident itself. If there had not been a video, you seem to suggest what would have happened later wouldn’t happen. And there’s still uncertainty about what happened in Baltimore to Freddie Gray after he was arrested.

    SEN. TIM SCOTT: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: So you’re talking about body cameras. How does that get to the bottom of this?

    SEN. TIM SCOTT: Well, I tell you, there’s no doubt that body-worn cameras are effective tools to make it so that justice is done, and that clarity and transparency are available.

    I think it also helps to reduce the number of complaints against law enforcement officers. And it also, according to some studies, reduces the amount of violence and/or force used by officers by 60 percent. So the result of officers wearing cameras has been very positive, and the information that continues to come in reinforces the fact that body-worn cameras are a positive tool in law enforcement and bring the community and the police together.

    GWEN IFILL: But does it bother you at all that it’s even necessary, that in order to protect people from inappropriate police violence, that you need the videotape? Isn’t there a root problem here?

    SEN. TIM SCOTT: Well, there certainly are a lot of things to consider.

    One thing we know for sure is that those cameras do help. I would suggest that the vast majority of law enforcement officers every single day work with integrity, the highest level of character. But it’s finding the bad apple that spoils the whole bunch.

    One thing that a camera does is, it captures. And, very often, the information that it captures is indisputable. And what we need today more than ever before is indisputable evidence that leads to conclusions that can be reinforced by the very evidence that we have.

    And so I don’t know that what we’re seeing today is brand-new, as much as it is bringing it back to the surface because of the cameras.

    GWEN IFILL: Does the federal government have a responsibility to address the root causes? People say it’s unemployment, that it’s anger after years of being profiled, stereotyped. Whatever you think the reason behind all of this is, does the federal government have a role?

    SEN. TIM SCOTT: I think the nation as a whole has a role in making sure that each individual, each citizen maximizes one’s potential.

    And so we all have a role in that. As it relates to the federal government taking over local law enforcement issues, I don’t think that we should. I don’t think that we can and I don’t think that we will. But having a role to play in making sure that we use the positions that we have to bring peace and transparency throughout the nation is very, very necessary.

    As a kid who failed out of high school as a freshman, I know firsthand and personally that sense of hopelessness and just being — drifting in the wrong direction, having really no hope. And being able to harness that frustration was incredibly valuable in my life. That’s one of the reasons I focus so consistently on the foundation of education, because it helps to eviscerate those things that — unemployment, high jobless rates, poverty.

    Just it’s as close to magic as you can get in America, education.

    GWEN IFILL: You voted against the confirmation of Loretta Lynch.

    SEN. TIM SCOTT: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: Is there any role that she should play now?

    SEN. TIM SCOTT: Well, certainly, congratulations. She’s our attorney general. And I look forward to working with her.

    She has said that she stands ready and prepared to be of some assistance when necessary. I think, at this point, the state and the city are trying their best to handle the situation. I think, upon request, the federal government can play a role if necessary. But at this point, the city and the state have been able to work together. And we have seen the deployment of National Guard units, or being at least prepared to go in.

    GWEN IFILL: You are obviously a black man, one of only two African-American men in the Senate. I wonder, if you were the child you talked about before who could have gone off on a bad path, whether you would expect more of government in this kind of situation.

    SEN. TIM SCOTT: I think people, especially being that kid before — having been that kid just a couple of years ago — I use that term loosely, obviously — the fact of the matter is that kids look for hope. They look for inspiration.

    It doesn’t have to come from the government, frankly. It just has to come. And for me, it came in the form of a mentor, a Chick-fil-A operated who invested the last four years of his life — he died at 38 — and created the first four years of my new life.

    So, the fact of the matter is that hope comes from many sources. I think depending on the federal government to be some sort of a savior is false hope.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s take the government out of it

    Just as a community leader, you have met with community leaders in Ferguson. You have obviously met with the ones in North Charleston.

    SEN. TIM SCOTT: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: You’re watching very closely as this unfolds in Baltimore.

    What should we as a society be thinking, be doing on behalf of the pain — to solve some of the pain we see arriving — arising in these communities?

    SEN. TIM SCOTT: I guess my three P’s would be pray, pray first. Second, prepare, and then persist.

    Let me talk about the persist first. Persisting to me means that today is the day for full engagement. We have to be persistent in engaging those folks in the community who have the ability to influence others. It’s very difficult from the outside to come into a community and make a difference. But it was very easy for me, as a North Charleston native, to sit down and talk with community leaders, to pastors, to young people about what was happening.

    So, being persistent is very, very helpful. We have to also prepare. Part of preparation is understanding, how do you avoid circumstances that we’re seeing unfold? That’s why the body cameras are important, from my perspective. It prepares us in advance of a crisis.

    Another part of preparation is looking at the educational outcome of the kids in the neighborhoods. When you have high unemployment, when you have low graduation rates, you are starting to see the formation of challenging circumstances, especially when it’s steeped in poverty.

    So, we can do something about those issues on the local level, on the state level, and on the federal level. We can unleash American capitalism in such a way that it helps to become headwinds to things that are destructive. We can be a force for good.

    GWEN IFILL: Senator Tim Scott, thank you very much.

    SEN. TIM SCOTT: Yes, ma’am. Good to be with you.

     

    The post Should government play a role in addressing root causes of Baltimore’s upheaval? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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