Articles on this Page
- 05/02/15--14:39: _Staggering arrest r...
- 05/02/15--15:37: _Why are Baltimore t...
- 05/03/15--08:30: _Despite death and d...
- 05/03/15--09:40: _This is what Baltim...
- 05/03/15--09:54: _Baltimore unrest ra...
- 05/03/15--11:29: _Pentagon sexual ass...
- 05/03/15--12:00: _How Kurdish women s...
- 05/03/15--12:03: _Food servers in Cap...
- 05/03/15--13:07: _How did Iowa’s Avia...
- 05/03/15--13:08: _Bulk of women soldi...
- 05/03/15--14:24: _Some large herbivor...
- 05/03/15--14:48: _Scientists find lar...
- 05/03/15--20:22: _What does Ben Carso...
- 05/04/15--04:53: _What does Carly Fio...
- 05/04/15--12:38: _Income inequality b...
- 05/04/15--12:59: _10 tricks to raise ...
- 05/04/15--13:59: _Hillary Clinton agr...
- 05/04/15--14:46: _Arielle Greenberg r...
- 05/04/15--15:10: _How an aspiring pho...
- 05/04/15--15:15: _Revisiting the Grea...
- 05/03/15--08:30: Despite death and destruction, climbers head back up Mount Everest
- 05/03/15--09:54: Baltimore unrest raises questions about O’Malley’s record as mayor
- 05/03/15--12:00: How Kurdish women soldiers are confronting ISIS on the front lines
- 05/03/15--12:03: Food servers in Capitol Hill grapple with low wages
- 05/03/15--13:07: How did Iowa’s Avian Flu outbreak get so bad?
- 05/03/15--13:08: Bulk of women soldiers who report sexual assault report retaliation
- 05/03/15--14:24: Some large herbivores may be at risk of extinction, study finds
- 05/03/15--14:48: Scientists find large water system beneath Antarctica’s dry valleys
- 05/04/15--12:59: 10 tricks to raise your retirement living standard
- 05/04/15--13:59: Hillary Clinton agrees to testify on Benghazi, emails this month
- 05/04/15--14:46: Arielle Greenberg reads ‘I’m Not Saying Your Mother is a Vampire’
- 05/04/15--15:10: How an aspiring photographer captured Baltimore’s pain
- 05/04/15--15:15: Revisiting the Great Migration through paintings and poetry
The post Staggering arrest rates strain Baltimore community relations with police appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The post Why are Baltimore teens in poorer health than those in urban Nigeria? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
When the 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Nepal on April 25, it triggered a massive avalanche that covered the base camp at Mount Everest. To date, the death toll at base camp sits at 19, with dozens more injured.
This is the latest incident in what has been a string of tragedies on the mountain. Despite the destruction and death, climbers will resume their treks to the summit as early as next week. PBS NewsHour spoke to Grayson Schaffer, a senior editor for Outside Magazine, about the destruction the avalanche caused, whether Mount Everest is getting more dangerous and why business as usual will start again so soon.
The post Despite death and destruction, climbers head back up Mount Everest appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Thousands gathered in Baltimore Saturday for a peaceful “victory rally” outside City Hall.
Although there was a heavy presence of police and National Guard troops, the mood at the protest was celebratory following Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s Friday announcement that six officers would be charged in the death of Freddie Gray, a Baltimore resident who died April 19, a week after his spinal cord was severed in the back of a police van.
There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.
Demonstrators at City Hall held signs that read “voices not violence,” “end mass incarceration” and “police murdered Freddie Gray.”
The gathering featured a parade of speakers, including Maryland State Sen. Catherine Pugh, president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, who said, “Freddie Gray becomes symbolic of all of the black men in this country who have been treated unfairly by our police, and we know that police reform is on the way.”
Many of those gathered were young people who had marched to City Hall from the Gilmor Homes, a public housing development where Gray lived.
PBS NewsHour spoke to several of these youths to learn more about how they feel about what is happening in their city.
Avocet Brooks, 15
“We used to just sit on the outside and watch what was happening. But it was really sad to see what was going on. I didn’t really understand it. But I’ve gone to school and I’ve talked to some of my peers, and now that I’m here, I understand where the passion is coming from.”
“I’m really proud of Baltimore for coming out here all together as one. It’s inspiring to see so many people of different races. I just love to see diversity, and I’m really glad that they’re coming together.”
Earl Brooks, 17
“Personally I believe that some of the violence was unnecessary. It lead people to believe that we were doing this as thugs, as criminals, but it’s not a thing of violence, it’s a thing of protest.”
“Last week, no one was talking about this. My classmates and I, we were talking about going to the movies. This week, all we spoke about was this crisis.”
Akelia Archie, 19
“I don’t consider [the rioting] violence, just because it was for a cause. And I feel like, honestly, it was the only way for the younger generation to be heard. No one really listens to people who aren’t around their age. That was just their form of expression and their way to be heard, I just saw it as that, I didn’t see it as violence or them trying to be rebels or anything. It’s just for a cause, it’s a necessary cause: humanity.”
Darryl McCallum, South Baltimore, 19
“I think that if [the media] can actually come down here and get some stuff like this, the peaceful protesting that we’ve done, then they can actually see a different side of Baltimore, rather than the violence that has been going on.”
“I want people to know that this is really one of the greatest cities in America. Other people, they think that we’re always about drugs and violence and they only get picture and videos from “The Wire.” I always didn’t like that, when people categorize my city as nothing but violence. Actually no, it’s not like that. You have to come here and actually see what we do, and actually get a better picture.”
Asante Campbell, North Baltimore, 16
“You have people listening to only one voice, which is the media, which is predominantly white. I feel like no one’s really listening to us, people in Baltimore, and no one really cares what’s going on unless someone’s setting things on fire, unless someone’s breaking into a CVS. I feel like everyone’s just focusing on the property, and no one’s really focusing on the problem at hand, which is police brutality.”
“I want people to listen, and for people to know that this is a real problem. And that it is a race issue. Because I know a lot of people on social media and where I go to school say it’s not a race issue. And I just think people should know that this is a race issue, and that we can change it, and that we can make a difference.”
Shaunise Allmond, 20
“I feel like some violence is necessary. I feel movements like MLK and Malcolm X, they had to have both of those elements. That violence that the Black Panthers had brought, that strength and then those peaceful protests in order for it to work. I don’t condemn anybody that used violence this past Monday to state their point because it’s how you feel. And when you’re tired of something, you can’t shake a bottle and blame the soda for coming out. You got to blame who shook it, and that’s just how I look at it.”
“The youth’s role is to advocate for themselves. To speak on what’s going on in Baltimore, speak on the unfair education, speak on how you have to live next to abandoned homes, speak on gentrification in the city that’s leaving a lot of people displaced, say how you feel. And if that involves you not having a filter and showing some type of anger then you should say that too. Sometimes you have to show people your deeper inner-self to get them to listen.”
Todd Burns, 22
“I would like to see justice, and a change around the world. Build up a better community, not have money put to things that’s unnecessary, that we’re not probably going to be able to use. Build up our homes. All these abandoned houses around my streets. We got people out here that’s on the Section 8 line, and it takes years and years to get a Section 8 home. Just money out here for us to use to rebuild our houses. I’m tired of seeing people out on the street, have to force themselves to live in a shelter. It shouldn’t be that way. And jobs. Everybody should be equal enough to have jobs.”
Abdulamalik Abdullah, 22
“If we don’t get the government changed, these little kids are going to be living in the same climate we are now. So I’m here for the little kids, so when they grow up they won’t have to go through everything we’ve went through, seeing all these killings.”
“When we talked to the police the first time, nobody listened. No news reporters came down here, nobody. But as soon as we started destroying stuff, it was all ‘bring the National Guard they’re out of control,’ ‘bring the news reporters.’ It could have went differently, but nobody really wanted to listen, so it got violent.”
Tanaira Cullens, 24
“I believe that there are many unjust things happening in many disenfranchised communities, not just here but globally. People of color people in general need to stand up for what they believe in.”
“I think the anger the children are feeling, that’s something real. And it’s not just about Freddie Gray. That’s about the poverty, that’s about that people don’t care about our educational system here. We don’t have funding for our schools. Our kids have to be packed into rooms with marginal books, and they’re not being able to reach their fullest potential because people are looking down on Baltimore. People aren’t funding Baltimore, we’re not doing what we’re supposed to as a city to take care of our youth.”
“In this situation, I believe justice is carrying out due process properly. They need to make sure everything is being done the way it’s supposed to be done in a positive way and by the book. Nobody should be playing games with information, destroying information. If they truly did what they’ve been indicted for, they need to go to jail. That is justice. Because If I went out and hurt someone, I would be in jail today. And I don’t think anyone is above the law.”
PBS NewsHour wants to know: What’s your take on the situation in Baltimore? Share your views in the comments section below.
The post This is what Baltimore youth have to say about their city and Freddie Gray appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
BALTIMORE — Martin O’Malley often casts Baltimore as the comeback city that overcame the ravages of drugs and violence when he was mayor.
Now, weeks before the former Maryland governor expects to enter the 2016 presidential race and challenge Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries, Baltimore’s turnaround has been marred by the unrest after the police-custody death of Freddie Gray. The turmoil has placed new scrutiny on O’Malley’s “zero tolerance” law enforcement policies as mayor from 1999 to 2006.
The record shows that murders and violent crime overall declined in O’Malley’s years as mayor. But in that time, a grand jury concluded that too many arrests were being made in black neighborhoods without merit. And the city settled a lawsuit from people who said they were wrongly arrested for minor offenses. Altogether, these are the sort of concerns driving some of the anger in Baltimore today.
David Rocah, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Maryland, said the O’Malley administration left a legacy of “hyperaggressive and militarized policing” that, in his view, contributed to the outrage behind the riots. “I think the idea that you can arrest your way to public safety has always been deeply misguided and counterproductive,” Rocah said.
But O’Malley says those judging him in hindsight should remember the crime and despair of the Baltimore he inherited as mayor.
“I don’t think that any of us want to go back to the days of 1999,” O’Malley said. “Our city is undoubtedly a safer place, and our city is becoming a better place, but our city still has a lot of progress to make.”
He spoke outside the Dawson Safe Haven Center, an after-school refuge for children that was once a home for a family of seven killed in a 2002 firebombing by a drug dealer. O’Malley called that episode “our Alamo.”
Even now, O’Malley clings to the story of Baltimore’s redemption, terming the unrest “a heartbreaking setback for an otherwise remarkable comeback.”
He said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that when he makes an announcement about his presidential intentions, he wouldn’t think of making it anywhere other than Baltimore.
He hasn’t entered the race, but says that when an announcement does come, he wouldn’t think of making it anywhere other than
O’Malley has tried to build a following in Iowa and New Hampshire as an alternative to Clinton, the dominant front-runner. O’Malley has backed tougher regulations on Wall Street, opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and addressed student debt – issues that resonate with liberals.
Still relatively unknown, even among Democrats, O’Malley frequently points to his time as mayor as a key part of his biography.
A 2013 video by his team, shown at a New Hampshire Democratic dinner where he appeared, described Baltimore in the late 1990s as a “cauldron of crime, drugs and profound despair” and credited O’Malley with “an assault on hopelessness. He didn’t make a campaign promise to make the city safer, he made a pledge. And he kept it.”
In the 1990s, more than 300 people were murdered each year in Baltimore. O’Malley advocated “stop and frisk” practices, cracked down on lower-level crimes such as public drunkenness and disorderly conduct, and brought in two police commanders from New York steeped in such policing. The number of homicides fell to 253 in 2002 and stayed below 300 during his two terms, while never dropping to his goal of 175.
But the approach did lead to many arrests.
In 2005, a Baltimore grand jury found excessive arrests in black neighborhoods and recommended retraining officers. Judge Joseph McCurdy Jr. had tasked the panel with determining “what can be done to address the lack of confidence that exists between many members of the public and law enforcement.”
The ACLU and the NAACP sued in 2006 on behalf of 14 plaintiffs who said they were wrongly arrested as part of a policy that emphasized arrests for minor offenses under O’Malley’s watch. The city agreed to the $870,000 settlement in 2010.
O’Malley’s successors moved away from zero-tolerance policing.
But he hasn’t shied away from his record.
When the recent protests erupted, he cut short a trip in England and Ireland, returned to Baltimore and walked the streets to talk to former constituents and community leaders. Some stopped to shake hands or take pictures with him while others told him about their bad experiences with the police. A few heckled him.
O’Malley told one person the police were also victims of violence. “I buried 10 police officers” as mayor, he said. “Half were black. Half were white.”
Asked about the zero-tolerance policy, O’Malley said, “What we had zero tolerance for was police misconduct. We worked at it every day.”
On Sunday, he said that “extreme poverty breeds conditions for extreme violence.”
His advisers note he created a civilian review board for police conduct, expanded drug treatment and saw a decline in excessive force complaints and police-involved shootings.
After two terms as mayor, he won two terms as governor with strong support in Baltimore.
“The people of Baltimore were given ample opportunities to express at the ballot box their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the direction that our city took to reduce violent crime, to reduce homicides, to make our city more livable,” O’Malley said.
Still, some think the riots erupted, in part, from years of frustration among residents who felt unfairly targeted.
“He had some responsibility,” said Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, a former president of the NAACP’s Baltimore city branch. “But you have to lay blame also with the majority of the City Council, because the majority of them were in office when he was in office.”
The post Baltimore unrest raises questions about O’Malley’s record as mayor appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
A new Department of Defense report released Friday shows that rates of retaliation against victims remain stubbornly high despite a marked decrease in military sexual assaults and increased reporting of such crimes in the 2014 fiscal year.
Defense secretary Ashton Carter said in a press conference that the Pentagon was committed to tackling problems related to sexual violence.
“One reason the military is among America’s most admired institutions is that we’re a learning organization. We strive to understand and correct our flaws,” Carter said, adding that the “report makes it crystal clear that we have to do more.”
Sixty-two percent of those who said they experienced unwanted sexual contact — an umbrella term describing a range of offenses from unwanted sexual touching to rape — perceived some form of retaliation in connection with reporting the crimes. Due to the small number of male respondents in this category, these figures only apply to servicewomen.
Of this group, more than half said they experienced social retaliation, while about one-third reported suffering adverse administrative action or professional retaliation.
The report calls retaliation against victims an “unacceptable behavior” that needs remediation, but also noted that rates of retaliation may be unreliable because of ambiguities in measurement.
The category of adverse administrative action is one such source of uncertainty because it includes actions that a commander might take to protect victims. For instance, a commander may transfer victims to get them medical or mental health help, or to remove them from a bad situation. Though such actions may not be intended as retaliation, victims may perceive them that way if their career is harmed or they are transferred to less desirable locations.
Further complicating matters, 11 percent of victims reported being punished for an infraction connected with their assaults, like drug use or underage drinking. While these infractions are forbidden by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, punishing them can constitute retaliation. And doing so may dissuade victims from reporting their assaults for fear of being penalized for such infractions.
According to the report, the percentage of active duty servicewomen who were sexually assaulted in 2014 was 4.9 percent, while one percent of male service members reported assaults. Both numbers are down compared to 2013.
In all, about 20,000 service members — 10,600 men and 9,600 women — are estimated to have been assaulted in 2014.
While the estimated frequency of unwanted contact decreased, reporting of sexual assault cases rose 16 percent in 2014, building on improvements made in 2013, when reporting increased by more than half. Defense officials cite this statistic not as evidence of an increase in assaults, but say the number that are reported his risen as victims feel more comfortable coming forward.
The increase in reporting has been dramatic: The report estimates that about one in four victims reported his or her assault in 2014, up from just one in ten two years earlier.
The report also revises preliminary findings from the 2014 RAND Military Workplace Study, an independent assessment of sexual assault, sexual harassment and gender discrimination that replaced the military’s earlier internal surveys. The RAND survey showed that roughly 72 percent of service members who indicated that they reported sexual assaults said they would make the same decision again, given the chance.
Though the report argues that, overall, those who reported assaults were satisfied with their decisions, more than a quarter appear to regret reporting.
Speaking after Secretary Carter on Friday, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson said, “I share particularly [Secretary Carter’s] concern about retaliation and ostracism.”
“This is an area where we need to dig deeper and learn more so that we can better address these experiences not just related to sexual assault but for the protection of all our people courageously reporting wrongdoing,” Carson said.
The post Pentagon sexual assault report shows high rates of perceived retaliation persist appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
MARTIN HIMEL: Walk along the streets of Kurdistan’s second largest city, Sulaymaniyah, and you’ll instantly notice that it looks nothing like most of the images we see coming out of Iraq.
By all appearances, this oil rich city in northeastern Iraq is thriving. Shoppers fill the streets without apparent fear of terror bombs, roads into and out of this city of over 800,000 are safe and well maintained.
But what is most striking in this overwhelmingly Muslim region, is that women enjoy much more freedom than in many other areas throughout the Middle East, even as you’ll see later, serving in all-women fighting units taking on ISIS.
BERYTAN: I am not just doing this to protect myself but also to protect women.
SHAHO BURAHN ABDALLA: So we have our own culture and in our culture we respect women a lot more.
MARTIN HIMEL: Dr. Shaho Burahn Abdalla lectures at Sulaymaniyah University.
SHAHO BURAHN ABDALLA: And that allows women to have and exercise their own rights. The hijab is not compulsory, politically in Kurdistan we have a relative democracy so our rules are not based on Sharia, or strict Islamic rules.
MARTIN HIMEL: But last summer an ISIS invasion came very close to destroying all these achievements in Kurdistan’s autonomous region.ISIS pushed to within thirty miles of the capital Irbil. During this offensive, they took hostages, and raped and sold into slavery thousands of women.
Now Kurdish women, who are part of what’s known as the PKK Militia, are fighting back. 27-year-old Berytan is one of them.
BERYTAN: As a woman when you take your rifle, go out , and get ready to fight against them, even if you don’t kill them, you are fighting against their mentality.
MARTIN HIMEL: We met Berytan after driving a hundred miles from Sulaymaniyah into more central Iraq.
Security is so precarious we had to change cars three times to get there, fearful one of the drivers might betray us to try to collect the 80,000 dollar reward ISIS offers for the capture of an American journalist.
En route, it became clear how fluid the battle lines can be. The Kurdish fighters, for example, command this main highway but ISIS positions are just 400 yards away at that hilltop.
BERYTAN: ISIS is over there.
MARTIN HIMEL: The lines are porous and can be crossed by mistake.
Once we get there, Berytan is showing newly-arrived women soldiers the front line — the villages across the field are under ISIS control.
BERYTAN: As you know, I am a sniper. In the last battle, I killed three of them and injured one. This was in the last operation.
MARTIN HIMEL: The gunfights occur regularly. Even so, the women fighters stand above the protective bulldozed berms to see the enemy.
BERYTAN: Those houses that you see are under ISIS control, but when we start our operation, we will control them.
MARTIN HIMEL: ISIS warriors believe if they die in battle, they receive the 72 virgins of paradise, but if they are killed at the hands of female fighters, they go straight to hell.
What do you think of an enemy that says they go straight to hell if they are killed by a woman?
BERYTAN: When I fight against them, I feel stronger, empowered because when they see women, they go weak at the knees. Because according to their belief, they must not be killed by a women. When they see us, they prefer to run away not to be killed by us.
MARTIN HIMEL: The stakes are very high. If you get caught they will make you into a sex slave. You would be raped. How does that make you feel?
BERYTAN: We say that we have the power and morale to go and rescue those women. At the same time, we will kill ourselves, not let them capture us, not to face the same situation. I am not the only one who thinks like that. All our women fighters will not surrender.
DAVID PHILLIPS: When you look at the founding charter of the PKK, it’s about Kurdish and female emancipation. Same thing is true for the PYD, the Kurds in Syria. They’ve institutionalized a different role for women than we see in the Arab parts of Iraq and Syria.
MARTIN HIMEL: David Phillips of Columbia University is an expert on Kurdish affairs. He served as a policy advisor under presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama and has recently written, “The Kurdish Spring: A New Map of the Middle East.”
He says the United States was slow to recognize the threat last summer after ISIS seized territory in Iraq and Syria and believes the United States should supply more weapons to the Kurds, including the PKKs female units.
Women fighters accounted for 40 percent of all Kurdish fighters battling ISIS in the border town of Kobani.
DAVID PHILLIPS: The Kurds are the point of the spear fighting against ISIS in all of the countries in the middle east.
And the struggle against ISIS is an ideological struggle of those that share western values of pluralism and tolerance against those who are fundamentally intolerant and seek to kill their adversaries.
MARTIN HIMEL: But supporting the Kurdish fighters is a complicated decision for American policy makers, because for decades Kurds seeking their own homeland have launched attacks in Turkey, prompting the United States to brand the PKK as a terrorist organization.
The U.S. now risks alienating Turkey if it supplies heavy weaponry to the PKK, including its battle-tested women fighters.
DAVID PHILLIPS: Some of them are widowed from Turkish military operations in the southeast. Others are just committed to the Kurdish cause and have taken up arms because there’s been no political recourse for them in Turkey.
It’s a continuation of the PKK’s mobile approach to fighting for Kurdish rights wherever Kurds are oppressed. Not only in Turkey but in Syria, Iraq and Iran.
MARTIN HIMEL: But now, Kurds face a much more serious existential challenge: Containing ISIS and it’s extraordinarily harsh treatment of women.
And so these women fighters have decided to devote their lives to confronting the threat. All have agreed not to marry or to have children. Their fighting unit becomes their family.
Why do it?
BERYTAN: If you want to protect yourself and live free, you can’t reach it in our traditional marriages. The slavery begins in the family. When you follow the mentality, that you should marry at a certain age and have children, you then choose to live in a cage.
I didn’t want to belong to anyone and I shared this directly with my family and also with my friends.
MARTIN HIMEL: In many ways, Berytan and these fighters feel they are married to the fate of their people. ISIS is determined to destroy their society.
Now, they hope America will supply the heavy weapons to help these fighters defend their homeland.
The post How Kurdish women soldiers are confronting ISIS on the front lines appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON– Income inequality is more than a political sound bite to workers in the Capitol. It’s their life.
Many of the Capitol’s food servers, who make the meals, bus the tables and run the cash registers in the restaurants and carryouts that serve lawmakers, earn less than $11 an hour. Some make nothing at all when Congress is in recess.
Members of the House and Senate collect their $174,000 annual salaries whether Congress is making laws, taking a break or causing a partial government shutdown.
“This is the most important building in the world,” said Sontia Bailey, who works the cash register and stocks the shelves at the “Refectory” takeout on the Capitol’s Senate side. “You’d think our wages would be better.”
Bailey, 34, makes $10.33 an hour, a hair above the $10.10 hourly minimum for federal contractors. She had to move from her apartment to a rented room when the 2013 temporary government shutdown interrupted her income, she said.
KFC pays her better. Bailey works weekends and two evenings a week there, making $12 an hour.
In the Capitol food service world, she said, “everybody has second jobs.”
Down an ornate hallway is 21-year-old Abraham Tesfahun. He serves lunch in the Senate members’ dining room and handles the afternoon cash register in the busy Senate takeout, one floor below. Tesfahun said his hourly pay is $10.30. But he receives an additional $3 an hour in cash, which otherwise would go toward health insurance. He is covered by his mother’s insurance policy under President Barack Obama’s health care law.
That doesn’t mean Tesfahun, who emigrated from Ethiopia as a teenager, is tight with his mom.
“She kind of kicked me out of the house,” he said sheepishly, when he quit community college after one year to work seven days a week. Now, he said, he rents a basement room and works full time in the Capitol. On Saturdays and Sundays, he works at a Dunkin’ Donuts, for $8 an hour. That’s above the federal minimum wage of $7.25, although some states have higher minimums.
“People are much nicer” in the Capitol, Tesfahun said. But he said he generally has no work or pay when Congress is out of session, and he sometimes collects unemployment benefits. The Senate is scheduled to be in recess 13 weeks this year.
Both Bailey and Tesfahun said they once received a pay raise of 3 cents an hour.
In Congress and the 2016 presidential race, candidates in both parties promise to help U.S. workers narrow the gap with high earners. The Capitol’s food workers – many of whom can’t afford cars, let alone vacations – are prime examples of people without college degrees who have fallen far behind in the high-tech global economy.
Capitol food workers with at least seven years’ experience fare better than Bailey and Tesfahun, making about $16 or $17 an hour. But even one of those, cook Shawnee Ellis, said she does catering on the side because “I have to make extra money” to pay her bills.
All work for Restaurant Associates, a major New York-based contractor that handles food services for the House and Senate.
In a statement, the contractor said it “takes pride in paying above-market competitive wages.” It would not comment on individual employees.
The House privatized its food operations decades ago. The Senate ran its own operations, at heavy losses, until 2008. That’s when the then-Democratic majority said taxpayer subsidies were unsustainable, and Restaurant Associates won the contract to take over.
“There are parts of government that can be run like a business and should be run like businesses,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., then the head of the Senate Rules Committee, which oversees such contracts.
A few Democrats objected. “You cannot stand on the Senate floor and condemn the privatization of workers, and then turn around and privatize the workers here in the Senate and leave them out on their own,” Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey said at the time.
Nonetheless, senators approved the 2008 switch in a voice vote, which any dissenter could have blocked. Through a spokesman, Feinstein declined to comment for this story.
Capitol employees’ struggles are causing discomfort for lawmakers – including some running for president – as national debate churns over income inequality. In April, dozens of Capitol workers staged a one-day protest.
Senate cook Bertrand Olotara wrote in The Guardian, “I serve food to some of the most powerful people on Earth.” They often talk of expanded opportunity for workers, he wrote, but “most don’t seem to notice or care that workers in their own building are struggling to survive.”
The Washington region is among the nation’s most expensive.
After The Washington Post, CNN and others profiled Charles Gladden, a Senate food worker who is homeless, several Democratic senators urged Republican leaders – now in the majority – to press Restaurant Associates to increase workers’ pay. GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, who leads the Rules Committee, said “their concerns will be kept in mind as the contract comes up for renegotiation” later this year.
The House contract with Restaurant Associates expires in August; requests for bids went out last fall. Congressional officials say the House and Senate food-service contracts do not specify the hourly rates for workers.
At a hearing last week, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the national Democratic Party leader, called on the House to choose contractors who pay workers a “living wage” according to local economic standards. Her amendment failed.
“It’s really not within the scope of this committee nor subcommittee to micromanage all contracts,” said Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga.
Several Republican presidential candidates are making implicit or explicit pledges to reduce income inequality.
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky says income inequality “is worse in towns run by Democrat mayors.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, also eyeing the GOP nomination, said if the economy isn’t growing, “you’re not going to deal with income inequality.”
The post Food servers in Capitol Hill grapple with low wages appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: As we reported yesterday, the nation’s largest egg-producing state, Iowa, has declared a state of emergency following a major outbreak of the avian flu.
Millions of chickens and turkeys there and in Wisconsin and Minnesota have been killed to try to contain the disease.
For more about all this, we are joined now via Skype from Ames, Iowa, by Amy Mayer. She is reporter for Harvest Public Media at Iowa Public Radio.
So, first of all, put this in perspective for us. How bad is it? How did it get this bad?
AMY MAYER, Harvest Public Media: We think, at this time approximately 25 percent of the laying hens in Iowa have been infected, and significant numbers of the turkeys in Iowa as well.
As you mentioned, Iowa is the largest producing state. It is the number one state for eggs. So this is a significant hit in eggs in Iowa. But, in terms of the overall marketplace, it is not a number that is going to, for example, have an impact on availability of eggs at the store.
How it got so big is really something scientists are still struggling with. They thought they had a pretty decent understanding of how this virus could spread, but the way it is moving right now has really caused them to rethink some of those ideas they had.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, if you have got 25 percent of your chickens affected, do you have to kill off the other 75 percent? Is the whole sort of flock in danger?
AMY MAYER: I don’t think anyone would say yet that the whole statewide flock is in danger.
When one farm is infected, all of the animals on that — at that site do have to be euthanized, if the virus doesn’t kill them first.
And then they monitor daily every other poultry operation and backyard flock and any domesticated birds living outdoors in a 10-kilometer radius around that infected farm.
Right now, the confirmed infections in Iowa are concentrated in the northwest part of the state, with just one county in Central Iowa waiting for confirmation of infection.
So, that does still leave a significant part of the state that hasn’t yet had infection.
But, again, they have to monitor very effectively within those 10-kilometer quarantine areas.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, there is currently no threat to humans, but are people concerned, in the disposal of these chickens or these turkeys or these birds, how do we get rid of them, and how do we get rid of them in a safe way?
AMY MAYER: That is a big concern.
As you mentioned, the concern is not right now that there would be a problem with human health, but there are environmental concerns that need to be considered.
There’s four basic ways that our Department of Natural Resources has determined the birds can be disposed of. The first would be to compost on site, usually within the enclosure.
The second is on-site burial. The third would be incineration. That might involve bringing a kiln to the property to incinerate the birds. And the fourth would be taking them to a landfill.
With each of those, there are concerns. For example, with burial, you have to be mindful of the water table and how deep you are going to bury the birds to prevent water pollution.
With incineration, obviously, there need to be properly air handlers to prevent any sort of air pollution.
And, for example, landfills would mean moving the birds. And there is still concern that, even from a dead bird, the live virus might possibly be able to be moved, because they really haven’t identified exactly what the transmission processes are.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Amy Mayer, a reporter for Harvest Public Media at Iowa Public Radio, thanks so much.
AMY MAYER: Thank you.
HARI SREENIVASAN: A survey published Friday showed that a large percentage of women soldiers who reported unwanted sexual advances said they faced retaliation.
For more about this, we are joined from Washington by Tom Vanden Brook. He is a reporter for USA Today.
So, what were the numbers? What were the women saying happened?
TOM VANDEN BROOK, USA Today: Well, Hari, of those reporting sexual assault in the military among the ranks, it was 62 percent of the women said that they had received some form of retaliation after making those reports.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, in — then, to put this in context, the number of reported cases has gone down, right?
TOM VANDEN BROOK: That’s right.
I mean, the — well, actually, the prevalence of cases, so the ones that they estimate has gone down to about 20,000. And that is a 27 percent decrease from 2012.
The actual folks coming forward and reporting, that has gone up in this year about 11 percent to 6,000 cases.
The military perceives that to be progress, in that people feel comfortable enough to come forward and make a report of a sexual assault.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, the Pentagon did take steps over the last year to try to make it easier to report.
But if women come forward through these easier channels, but still face retaliation at higher rates, would that have maybe a chilling effect?
TOM VANDEN BROOK: You would think so. I think that would be a major problem for them.
Again, if you are talking about 6,000 reports and an estimate of 20,000 instances of this, you are still having less than a third of the people reporting the crime.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Are there any protections in place, like whistle-blower protections?
If this was to happen in the private sector, and if you turned in your boss for illegal activities or sexual harassment, there are pretty tried-and-true ways where you could be protected.
Is that also the case in the military?
TOM VANDEN BROOK: Well, sure, there are plenty of protections, but you still — some women — the majority of people reporting that they have been retaliated against, it is a — it’s a social problem.
They are being excluded from activities, from parties, things that may seem somewhat trivial when I mention them, but not really, because, if you are excluded from this sort of thing, it can hurt your advancement.
And it certainly can make the workplace hostile.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And there was also some information that came out in one of these reports about men who were — who had sort of harassment or sexual assault happen to them, but how they perceived it was very different. Explain that.
TOM VANDEN BROOK: That’s a big problem for them, Hari.
They — they — a lot of the men don’t perceive what has happened to them, which is truly a sexual assault, as — as an assault or a crime.
Most often, they view it as some sort of strange initiation right or harassment, so they are not reporting it. And that is a big issue for the military.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what does the Pentagon do about all this?
TOM VANDEN BROOK: More and more education, I guess. That’s the main thing that they are trying to do, to get this across that these sorts of things are, you know, no longer acceptable, not that they ever really were.
I talked a to a Marine officer this week who said, this is not acceptable in any — in any sense, but they need to drive the point home to their — their young soldiers and Marines.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Tom Vanden Brook of USA Today, thanks so much.
TOM VANDEN BROOK: Thank you, Hari.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Take an in-depth look at the findings of the Pentagon report on sexual assault in the military. Visit us online at PBS.org/NewsHour.
The post Bulk of women soldiers who report sexual assault report retaliation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The population of large herbivores is declining, posing potential long-term threats to ecosystems worldwide, a new study found.
The report by an international team of wildlife ecologists, published Friday in Science Advances, analyzed data on 74 of the world’s largest herbivore species weighing over 100kg (220 pounds), their endangerment status, key threats and the ecological consequences of population decline.
Roughly 60 percent of the plant-eating animal populations–including camels, rhinos, zebras and elephants–are threatened with extinction in forest landscapes, savannahs, grasslands and deserts worldwide, places the researchers warned could ultimately become “empty landscapes.”
The study blamed the losses on several factors, including human poaching for meat and global trade of animal parts, habitat loss and competition for food and resources with livestock.
“Without radical intervention, large herbivores (and many smaller ones) will continue to disappear from numerous regions with enormous ecological, social, and economic costs,” the authors said. Some likely consequences are food reduction and habitat change for other animals, more frequent wildfires and a weaker nutrient cycle between plants and soil.
Large herbivores in developing countries, especially Southeast Asia, India and Africa face the greatest threats. Only one endangered species, the European bison, lives in Europe, and none are in North America, where prehistoric hunting and habitat loss have already diminished the population of most large mammals, according to the scientists.
“We hope this report increases appreciation for the importance of large herbivores in these ecosystems,” said William Ripple, professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, who led the research. “And we hope that policymakers take action to conserve these species.”
The post Some large herbivores may be at risk of extinction, study finds appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
An international team of researchers discovered salty groundwater beneath the Dry Valleys region of the world’s coldest and driest continent, according to findings published in the current edition of Nature Communications.
The discovery of groundwater in this area may offer a glimpse into past climactic events on Antarctica, as well as clues about the potential for life on other planets.
The groundwater was found throughout the valley around Antarctica’s Blood Falls, a curious outflow where red-tinted liquid seeps out of the Taylor Glacier and into West Lake Bonney. From that finding, scientists inferred that the iron-rich Falls are the outflow of a larger groundwater system.
Since microbial life was previously identified surviving in the isolated extreme cold and dark conditions at Blood Falls, scientists believe more may exist farther below in the newly-identified briny aquifers.
“If Blood Falls is representative, then these ecosystems are much more extensive than we thought,” Jill Mikucki told PBS NewsHour. Mikucki is a microbiologist from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the lead author of the study.
Antarctica is the region of the Earth most comparable to Mars, according to NASA. Its extreme conditions are similar to those of Martian polar ice caps. These harsh and otherworldly features, as well as the opportunity to study the possibility of extraterrestrial life, drew Mikucki to the region initially.
Mikucki, along with a diverse team of scientists were able to pinpoint the areas where liquid lies beneath the freezing, arid surface thanks to a new tool called SkyTEM.
Developed by Danish scientists, including geophysicists who participated in this National Science Foundation-funded study, a helicopter-mounted electromagnetic instrument introduces a current into the ground and measures the responses of the materials below. The data that the device receives provides a picture of underground resistivity, indicating whether the material below is likely ice or liquid.
This was the first time SkyTEM, which has been flown over Mount St. Helens and the Galapagos Islands, was used in the world’s southernmost continent. The researchers favored SkyTEM because it was able to cover large swaths of the inaccessible wastes that blanket Antarctica.
The post Scientists find large water system beneath Antarctica’s dry valleys appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
He is a pioneering brain surgeon and the holder of high accolades, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2008), the designation as a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress (2001) and five dozen honorary degrees. Ben Carson credits his mother for his education and the Bible for steering him away from violence. He is a Detroit native, a bestselling author and a Washington Times columnist. He’s also impressed the Wall Street Journal editorial board. Here is where Carson stands on 10 key issues.
Climate change: The climate change debate is “irrelevant.” Temperature change is cyclical.
Carson is not convinced that global warming is a threat or a proven trend. In an interview in November, he said, “there’s always going to be either cooling or warming going on” and called the climate debate “irrelevant.” The physician said it is a distraction from discussions about generally protecting the environment and about the role of the Environmental Protection Agency in regulation.
Education: No federally-determined standards. We need more school choice.
Carson told conservatives gathered at CPAC that “Common Core is not school choice,” and that public schools “don’t need some central government telling them” how to compete. The physician said he does believe in standards, but does not want a federal or central entity to set them. He supports vouchers and charter schools and has said that students who learn in home schools, private schools or charter schools outperform those taught in traditional public schools.
Guns: Few limits on ownership except for the mentally ill or those convicted of violent crime.
A physician who has operated on gun-wound victims, Carson has said he wants to keep semi-automatic weapons out of the hands of violent criminals and the mentally ill, especially in urban settings. Otherwise, he wants to give Americans as much access as possible to the weapons and argues that gun ownership is an important right and protection.
Health care: Replace the Affordable Care Act with health savings accounts.
In a 2013 Washington Times column, Carson proposed that the federal government give each American $2000 in a health savings account annually. Individuals could contribute an unlimited amount to their own accounts and also could transfer the money to other family members. He has written that the Affordable Care Act has helped some of the uninsured but at a high cost to others and to the health care system in general.
Immigration: Allow undocumented residents access to a national guest worker program if they leave the country first.
Carson’s immigration position is best laid-out in his 2014 National Journal Op-Ed, which proposes a national guest worker program. Under that plan, Carson would allow those in the U.S. illegally to apply for guest worker status if they leave the country and then show they have a guaranteed job awaiting them upon to return to the U.S. In addition, Carson would increase penalties on employers and others who break immigration rules.
Marijuana: There are some benefits to medical marijuana. Legalizing for recreational purpose raises concern.
The neurosurgeon told FOX News in 2014 that he sees some benefits to use of marijuana for medical purpose, but that he is concerned about state or national moves to legalize the drug for recreational use. He called the substance a “gateway drug” and said that easier access could harm society.
Social issues: Ban most abortions after 20 weeks. Marriage is between a man and a woman. He will no longer discuss gay rights questions.
On his website, Carson supports the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which would make it illegal to have an abortion more than 20 weeks after fertilization, allowing exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother. It is not clear if he would push to overturn or uphold Roe v Wade. On gay marriage, Carson told CNN that he thinks the issue of sexual preference is personal, and has no place in public debate. He has said he will no longer discuss it. Carson previously argued that homosexuality is a choice and stated that he personally believes marriage is between a man and a woman. Overall, Carson believes there should be more discussion of discrimination of Christians and other religious groups for their beliefs.
Taxes: Establish a flat tax. Eliminate the IRS.
Writing in the Washington Times in 2013, Carson advocated a “proportional” or flat tax system in which every American would pay the same rate. He would eliminate corporate loopholes and also eliminate policies sheltering the poor from having to pay taxes. Such a system, he argued, would make the IRS unnecessary.
Iran and Israel: Congress must be involved in Iran deal. U.S. should listen to and consider Netanyahu’s words.
In his CPAC remarks this year, Carson expressed concern that the Shia-led government in Iran may be more dangerous than the Islamic State militant group. On CNN, he was critical of President Obama’s negotiations with Iran, saying Congress needed a strong role in the process. On Israel, Carson has said the U.S. must staunchly back its ally. He supported Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.
Islamic State: The U.S. should step up its efforts to destroy the Islamic State militant group. Do not “tie” the military’s hands.
In February, Carson said America must step up its leadership in the effort to combat Islamic State. At CPAC, Carson said he would order the military to destroy the group and would not “tie (the military’s) hands.”
The post What does Ben Carson believe? Where the candidate stands on 10 issues appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
She is a determined force who moved from secretarial work to become a titan of international industry. Best known for nearly six years as CEO of Hewlitt-Packard, Carly Fiorina was the first female to run a Fortune 20 company. She has been high on lists of powerful women, low on some lists of tech CEOs and her controversial $25 billion merger with Compaq went from criticism to applause. She is a cancer survivor, author and is a fluent Italian speaker. The race for president will be her second political campaign, after an unsuccessful U.S. Senate run in 2010. Here is where Fiorina stands on ten key issues.
Climate change: It is real and manmade. But government has limited ability to address it.
Speaking in New Hampshire in February, Fiorina said there is scientific consensus that climate change is real and caused by humans. But she also argued that it is not clear that a single nation or state can reverse the trend. She implied that targeting the coal industry will not solve the problem.
Education: Set national standards but give local districts maximum control. No Child Left Behind was positive.
In a position paper while running for the U.S. Senate in California, Fiorina strongly advocated for metric-based accountability in schools. She praised No Child Left Behind as setting high standards and Race to the Top for using internationally-benchmarked measures. Fiorina also said that the ethnic achievement gap remains a problem but did not offer further specifics. In general she has spoken in favor of as much local control and input in education as possible.
Guns: Gun access is an important right. Do not ban assault weapons. Allow some on the No-Fly list to own guns.
Fiorina has said that she is a strong supporter of second-amendment gun rights and that she opposed the 1994 bill which banned a large group of semi-automatic or assault weapons. In the 2010 U.S. Senate race, Fiorina said the No-Fly list is broad and some people on it should be allowed to own a gun. Politifact reviewed her statements on the issue and noted that at the time she did not have a firm stance on other potential proposed limits on gun access.
Health care: Repeal the Affordable Care Act. Increase health insurance competition.
Fiorina told NBC’s Meet the Press in 2014 that President Obama’s health care law needs to be repealed. She argued it has not lowered the ranks of the uninsured enough and that it has led to increased costs. To replace it, Fiorina indicated that the health insurance market should be made more competitive, though she has not offered specifics yet.
Immigration: Pass the DREAM Act. For other undocumented immigrants, a direct path to citizenship is unfair.
While running for the U.S. Senate in California in 2010, Fiorina said she supports the DREAM Act, which would give legal status to people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. More recently, she has criticized former Florida Governor Jeb Bush for offering other undocumented immigrants — those who arrived as adults — a path to citizenship, calling it “unfair” to those who immigrate legally.
Internet: Overturn net neutrality.
In an Op-Ed for CNN.com, Fiorina blasted President Obama’s policy of net neutrality, which is the idea that Internet providers must offer customers equal access and similar pricing for different content. Fiorina argues net neutrality will insert bureaucrats into the fabric of the Internet, giving government a role in pricing and establishing an obstacle for tech companies.
Social issues: Ban most abortions after 20 weeks. Overturn Roe v. Wade. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Same-sex couples should be allowed civil unions.
Fiorina supports the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which bans abortions 20 weeks after fertilization, except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother. In the past she has said that, if given the opportunity, she would vote to overturn Roe v Wade. When running for U.S. Senate in 2010, she supported California’s Proposition 8 to make same-sex marriage illegal and that she believes gay couples should be afforded the right to civil unions.
Taxes: Simplify the tax code. Move to zero-based budgeting. Do not increase the gas tax.
Writing on Facebook, Fiorina said the current tax system is “in desperate need of reform” and argued for a simpler tax code, though she did not give specifics. In the same post, she advocated zero-based budgeting, which would start funding discussions from a base budget of zero every year and build from there, rather than starting with the amount of funding the department received the previous year. In addition, the former CEO argued against any increase in the gas tax in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, saying lower gas prices are an important factor in America’s economic recovery.
Iran and Israel: Support Israel by breaking off nuclear talks. Verify actions before Iran sanctions are lifted.
The former tech company executive would like Congress to intervene in the Iran nuclear negotiations and says the U.S. would support Israel if it broke off talks now. In general, she wants more inspections, verifications and compliance from Iran before the United States lifts any sanctions. Fiorina is watchful of Russia’s role in the process and has said Putin is on a quest to regain Russian dominance in the world.
Islamic State: Arm the Kurds.
Fiorina would send more weapons to the Kurds fighting the Islamic State in and around northern Iraq.
The post What does Carly Fiorina believe? Where the candidate stands on 10 issues appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Editor’s note: In this essay, Economist John Komlos argues that we must look more deeply at the recent events in cities like Baltimore, New York and Ferguson, Missouri, and consider the socioeconomic plight of young black men in America, especially in neighborhoods where educational attainment is low and poverty is high. Komlos is the author of “What Every Economics Student Needs to Know and Doesn’t Get in the Usual Principles Text.”
Even conservative Republican Alan Greenspan, an ardent advocate of free markets, is beginning to see inequality as a fundamental threat to the system and admits that, “You cannot have the benefits of capitalist market growth without the support of a significant proportion, and indeed, virtually all of the people; and if you have an increasing sense that the rewards of capitalism are being distributed unjustly the system will not stand.”Well, the system was not standing very sturdily during the days of rage in Baltimore or in Ferguson. So we need to look beyond the ugly surface manifestations of young black men being shot in the back or suffocated and consider the deeper socioeconomic plight of this demographic in this country in 2015. The truth of the matter is that people of color are disadvantaged by the current socio-economic system from the very beginning of their lives.
Problem no. 1: babies born in low-income neighborhoods will go to bad schools. Problem no. 2: bad schools mean low educational attainment. In Baltimore, 22 percent of African Americans have no high school diploma compared to 15 percent of whites. At the national level, the ratio is 2:1 (15 percent to 7.6 percent).
Think about this 22 percent for a moment: that means that one out five African American does not have a full-time job and are scraping by with the skin of their teeth. They are the excluded. No more hope left for the American dream. There is more sad news: among African American teenagers, the unemployment rate is 25 percent which means that the underemployment rate is probably in the 40-50 percent range. Plenty of time to throw stones at the system or at their representatives.
Problem no 4: of course, no jobs means no incomes. In Baltimore, 12 percent of African American families have total incomes less than $10,000 compared to just 4 percent of whites. Poverty rates in Baltimore are also much higher among African Americans than among whites: 28 percent versus 15 percent. No wonder that a third of African American households had to rely on food stamps to keep body and soul together in contrast to just 9 percent of white families. In seven St. Louis County neighborhoods, with the median family income a paltry $21,000, half the population is at or below the poverty line. (The federal poverty rate for a family of four in the lower 48, plus D.C., is $24,250.)
In Baltimore’s census tract no. 1504 — near New Shiloh Baptist Church where the funeral of Freddie Gray, the man whose spine was broken while in police custody in April, was held — 30.6 percent of households have incomes less than $15,000. In nearby tract no. 1506, 43 percent of households earn less than $15,000. This race-based poverty gap also shows up in Ferguson. In census tract number 2119 near Ferguson, 30 percent of households had annual income below $15,000. (Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc., earns as much every morning before noon, including weekends and holidays.) And six miles south of Ferguson, there are dozens of census tracts where the median family income ranges from $100,000 to $163,000. To the black residents of Ferguson, proximity to this evidence that the American Dream is a reality for whites must be a chronic irritant in the best of times, an unbearable provocation in the worst. Under such socio-economic conditions it is difficult to sustain functional families and vibrant communities.
Problem no 5: no income means no wealth, not surprisingly. African Americans are heavily represented among the have-nots of this country. There are 15 million African American households. The poorest 3 million, or 20 percent, of them have no wealth whatsoever, just debt. The median net worth is -$2,500 and the mean net worth is -$21,000. This is worse than among the Russian serfs: they at least had no debt! Among whites, the situation is not very different among the bottom 20 percent. Now let’s look at the next 20 percent, or next 3 million households. Now we get into positive territory but both the median and mean are less than $700. That’s all. Taken together the mean value of the bottom 40 percent of African American households is negative: -$10,000. So the bottom 6 million households still have nothing but debt on average and all in all fully half of the African American population has absolutely no wealth at all — no skin in the game whatsoever. In contrast, in 2004 there were 2,728,000 people in this country with assets worth in excess of $1.5 million. Their total net worth was an astronomical $10,201,246,000,000, that’s $10 trillion.
What is the system that keeps people of color at the lower echelons of the socio-economic hierarchy? It begins at birth. Most of those who happen to be born on the wrong side of the tracks are trapped. So many of them eventually end up on the wrong side of the law or disappear in gang violence. That is why there are 1.5 million missing black men in this country today. We have to realize that children are not responsible for the schools in the neighborhood in which they happened to be born. They chose neither their skin pigment nor their parents. So they can hardly be held responsible for the poverty of their parents or for their dysfunctional neighborhoods. Although they deserve better, they will not get the proper education for a knowledge economy and once they become adults they join the ranks of the have-nots, because there will not be any jobs for them. The employers are not responsible for not hiring those who are unqualified, unskilled, uneducated and without diplomas. So that is the real existing system of Capitalism with a poverty trap. It is against that system that people were throwing rocks. But how do you throw rocks against a system?
This inhumane system will not change until the American people realize that this system is fundamentally and deeply unfair and elect representatives in Congress with a vision to create a capitalism with a human face. All we have to do is to clean up the slums, provide top notch schools capable of competing with those in Finland, bring some jobs back that have been exported to distant shores, and we should be in good shape. No more food stamps, no more welfare payments, no more Medicaid, no more expenditures on incarceration and lower expenditures on the police force! It will be an America in which the determining factor of the life chances of newborns will not depend on the happenstance of the zip code of their birth.
The post Income inequality begins at birth and these are the stats that prove it appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Boston University economist Larry Kotlikoff has spent every week, for more than two years, answering questions about what is likely your largest financial asset — your Social Security benefits. His Social Security original 34 “secrets”, his additional secrets, his Social Security “mistakes” and his Social Security gotchas have prompted so many of you to write in that we feature “Ask Larry” every Monday. Find a complete list of his columns here. And keep sending us your Social Security questions.
Kotlikoff’s state-of-the-art retirement software is available here, for free, in its “basic” version. His new book, “Get What’s Yours — the Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security Benefits,” (co-authored with Paul Solman and Making Sen$e Medicare columnist Phil Moeller) was published in February by Simon & Schuster.
Watch Larry explain how Paul and his wife could collect an extra $50,000 in Social Security benefits:
Those of you who read this weekly column on Social Security know that getting Social Security straight is like discovering a gold mine — potentially a very large gold mine — right in your front yard.
But this is not your only gold mine waiting to be discovered. I thought I’d take a break this week from answering Social Security questions to illustrate additional perfectly safe ways to raise your living standard.
When it comes to your personal finances, economics has one message – smooth (stabilize) your living standard (your consumption) over time and across times – good times and bad times.
None of us wants to splurge today and starve tomorrow, nor do the opposite. None of us wants to live with indoor plumbing and heating when our house is intact and live on the street when it burns down. And none of us want to eat steak when the stock market booms and cat food when it crashes. This is why we save, buy insurance and diversify our portfolios – to even out or smooth our consumption (living standards).
The desire to smooth consumption reflects our physiology. We don’t seek to eat everything we can at once. I tested this with my youngest son, David, when he was 10. I bought him 20 delicious chocolate cupcakes and told him that a) Mom wasn’t home, and b) he could eat as many as he wanted. He scarfed down the first in a nanosecond. The second disappeared in 2 seconds. The third took a minute. As he was proceeding very slowly through the fourth, I reminded him that he could eat as many as he wanted. He said, “Dad, let’s save these for tomorrow.”
Every question in personal finance begins and ends with our living standard. If I retire early, how much more do I need to save today to prevent my living standard from dropping at retirement? If I contribute more to a 401(k) will I be able to lower my lifetime taxes and raise my living standard? If I get an MBA will the payoff exceed the costs so I can have a permanently higher living standard? If I take a mortgage with points does that raise or lower my sustainable spending power? If I wait to take my Social Security retirement benefit will the higher benefits make up for the waiting and let me spend more now as well as later? And the list goes on.
Let me illustrate the power of economics, mathematical algorithms and modern computers to safely raise your sustainable living standard.
Meet John and Jane Smith, a married California couple who are both age 56. The two plan to work till age 62, take their Social Security benefits at that age and spend down their retirement account assets – John’s 401(k) and Janes’ IRAs — smoothly starting at 65. John makes $75,000 and Jane makes $25,000. They have $50,000 in a checking account. John has a $400,000 401(k) and Jane has a $100,000 traditional IRA. Their $500,000 home is paid off, but keeping it up is expensive. Annual property taxes run $7,500. Homeowners insurance costs another $2,500 per year, and the upkeep averages $2,000 annually. John is contributing $2,000 per year to his retirement account. His employer is matching the $2,000 contribution. Jane isn’t contributing anything anymore to her IRA.
I ran John and Jane through my company’s ESPlannerBASIC software. It shows that the Smiths can spend $46,058 each year (valued in today’s dollars) after paying all their federal FICA and federal and state income taxes, their life insurance premiums, their Medicare Part B premiums and their housing costs.
I’m now going to take you though 10 magic tricks that produce, in terms of the resulting higher living standard, the equivalent of their finding $793,000 on the street!
1. John and Jane retire later.
Both John and Jane have the option of working longer. So let’s have them both work until age 65, take their Social Security benefits at that age, and, in John’s case, continue, along with his employer, to contribute to his 401(k). This raises their sustainable discretionary spending from $46,058 to $55,357. That’s a whopping 20.2 percent increase in their ongoing spending power. The explanation is not just earning more and saving taxes by contributing more to John’s retirement account. By working longer John also receives four extra years of employer contributions to his 401(k).
2. Jane and John move to Texas.
John and Jane don’t need to live in California. They both work for companies with offices in Texas. And living in Texas means paying no state income tax. Moving to Texas raises their living standard yet further – from $55,357 to $56,287.
3. John and Jane “downsize” their home.
After arriving in Texas, John and Jane realize they can get by with a cheaper, but far larger house than they had back in California. Accordingly, they sell their California home and buy a new one for $300,000. The new house also has lower property taxes, insurance premiums, and upkeep. All told, this “downsizing” of their home brings them to $66,902 in annual spending, which, by the way, is an amazing 45.2 percent above the Smith’s original annual spending level of $46,058.
4. John doubles his contributions to his 401(k).
John, being 56, realizes it’s time to get serious about saving for retirement. So he doubles his own tax-deductible 401(k) contributions. Doing so raises the couples’ sustainable living standard (what they can spend on a discretionary basis in today’s dollars right out to age 100) to $67,057.
5. Jane contributes to her IRA.
John convinces Jane that she should start contributing again to her IRA. She does this to the tune of $2,000 per year. Now their living standard is $67,211, with the increase in spending paid for by a reduction in their lifetime taxes.
6. Jane takes her Social Security retirement benefit at 70.
This trick, which increases Jane’s retirement benefit by almost 40 percent, raises the Smith’s living standard, again, starting at their current age 56, to $68,681!
7. Jane takes her Social Security spousal benefit at 66.
Between full retirement age and 70 Jane can take a spousal benefit because John is filing for his retirement benefit at 65. Now the couple’s annual expenditures are $69,672 — 51.3 percent higher than where they started. And it’s all been achieved with absolutely zero risk.
8. John files and suspends his retirement benefit at full retirement age and restarts it at 70.
This change in John’s Social Security strategy doesn’t limit Jane’s ability to collect spousal benefits. And because John’s retirement benefit, when he starts receiving it, is now also almost 40 percent higher, John’s new Social Security strategy raises the couple’s living standard to $73,089! Now we’re 58.7 percent above the couple’s original sustainable spending capacity!
9. John contributes to a Roth, not a 401(k).
This raises the couple’s living standard to $73,230. Part of the reason this saves taxes is that I specified that the couple would take their taxable retirement account money (their 401(k) and IRA funds) out first. Since the taxable retirement account withdrawals impact the taxation of Social Security benefits whereas Roth withdrawals do not, this lowers the couple’s lifetime taxes and let’s them spend a bit more each year, right through to their maximum ages of life of 100.
10. Jane and John annuitize half of their retirement assets.
The final magic trick I’ve considered (and I have plenty more in my bag) is to have John and Jane annuitize half of their retirement account withdrawals. I’m assuming, in calculating their annuity, that they receive only a 2 percent return above inflation. But the annuity pays them a higher payout than is reflected by the 2 percent due to the fact that if they pass away the annuity payouts stop. I.e., I’m talking about single life annuities. Annuities permit people who live a long time to spend the money of other annuitants who die early. And it can make a big difference to a household’s sustainable spending. Indeed, John and Jane can now spend $73,786 on an ongoing basis. This is 60.2 percent above their initial level!
If I return to the initial profile – i.e., I don’t apply any of the 10 magic tricks – how much more money do I need to put in John and Jane’s checking account such that they can achieve a living standard of $73,786? The answer is $793,000. That’s more than all the assets the couple owns. It’s also almost eight years of labor earning!
Now, I realize that a good chunk of this gain comes from John and Jane working a few more years. But physically and psychologically, working longer is likely to be a good thing as well.
The main point, though, is that economic science has an incredible amount to offer when it comes to helping you safely raise your living standard. I recently spoke to a NASA engineer who uses our software. He was curious about the algorithm. When I explained that it is based on dynamic programming he said that NASA uses this technique all the time in modeling space flight. Apparently, doing financial planning right truly requires rocket science.
The post 10 tricks to raise your retirement living standard appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton is willing to testify on Capitol Hill later this month about the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and about her email practices, her attorney told lawmakers in a letter Monday.
But lawyer David Kendall said Clinton would testify only for one session the week of May 18 or later, not twice as requested by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the special panel investigating the September 2012 attacks that killed four Americans at the U.S. outpost in Libya.
Gowdy had requested one hearing to focus on Clinton’s use of private emails, and a separate session on Benghazi.
Kendall said that Clinton, who is running for president, would answer all lawmakers’ questions during one session and it would not be necessary for her to appear twice.
“Respectfully, there is no basis, logic or precedent for such an unusual request,” Kendall wrote. “The secretary is fully prepared to stay for the duration of the committee’s questions on the day she appears.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the panel, released Kendall’s letter along with a statement saying the lawyer’s offer should more than satisfy the GOP’s demands.
“Chairman Gowdy should take ‘yes’ for an answer and finally schedule the hearing,” Cummings wrote. “Dragging out this process further into the presidential election season sacrifices any chance that the American people will see it as serious or legitimate.”
There was no immediate response from Gowdy.
Clinton previously testified on Capitol Hill over the attacks in January 2013, when she was still secretary of state. Republicans say they have more questions, especially in light of recent revelations that she used a private email account while secretary of state and decided which emails to retain and turn over to the government.
The post Hillary Clinton agrees to testify on Benghazi, emails this month appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Watch Arielle Greenberg read her poem “I’m Not Saying Your Mother is a Vampire” at the 2015 AWP Conference and Bookfair in Minneapolis. The text of the poem is below.
I’m Not Saying Your Mother is a Vampire
It has recently come to my attention that your mother and my mother
are living in the same town with its sunny name
that always makes me think of Buffy and the hellmouth town in California
where she and those vampires all live.
My mother and your mother live in a hellmouth of vampyres
in Northern California, among the plastics and the plastiques doncha know.
My mother at least is not so sunny as her town name implies. Yours?
My mother and your mother
Your mother works in gender at Stanford.
My mother works in gender at Stanford, too:
her work is lying back while they take out tiny pieces
of her body, which is a woman’s body, and put them in a jar,
then blast her woman’s body with chemicals to keep it preserved.
So far it’s working. Some might say too well.
Maybe your mother would like to go to that department and have a peek?
My mother has an illusion she is really at the center of The Struggle
and I’m sure would tell your mother a thing or two
even though your mother comes by it all honestly and mine does not.
That’s the way she is, my mother.
If my mother met your mother she would probably piss her off.
My mother punched your mother
My mother never socked me but we nevertheless have not spoken
for three years one month and thirty days and I don’t know if we will again
before she finally dies even though she has yet to die
even though she is someone you could legitimately say is “dying.”
It’s frankly a little creepy.
I don’t know: I’m in Chicago, far from all that,
and you’re in New York, Wayne,
and there are our mothers in Northern California
full of blood that rightfully belongs to us.
I’m just speaking for myself here.
Arielle Greenberg is the author of three poetry collections, including “Slice,” “My Kafka Century” and “Given.” Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies including two editions of “Best American Poetry” and “Legitimate Dangers.” With Rachel Zucker, Greenberg also co-authored a hybrid nonfiction book entitled “Home/Birth: A Poemic” and co-edited “Women Poets on Mentorship: Efforts and Affections,” a poetry anthology of personal essays by young female poets on their living female mentors. Greenberg has co-edited three other anthologies: “Starting Today: Poems from Obama’s First 100 Days,” “Gurlesque” and an anthology of contemporary poetry aimed at teenage girls. She has a regular column on trends in contemporary innovative poetics in the “American Poetry Review.” She lives in rural Maine with her family.
This video was filmed at the AWP Conference & Bookfair. Special thanks to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs.
The post Arielle Greenberg reads ‘I’m Not Saying Your Mother is a Vampire’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
In our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.
GWEN IFILL: Finally, to our NewsHour Shares of the Day, something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too.
A view of Baltimore, from the lens of a young, local photographer.
The latest issue of TIME Magazine features a dramatic picture shot by 26-year-old freelancer Devin Allen.
We spoke to him today about some of the other images he captured.
DEVIN ALLEN: I’m from Baltimore, born and raised, my whole family’s here, so it kind of sparked something in me and I felt obligated to get out there and take pictures because this is my city. I wanted to show the city, I did show some negative stuff, I showed some rowdy, some destruction of cars, but I also wanted to show the strong black men that were cleaning their neighborhoods, you know, I wanted to show the family support that we had here. You know, a lot of the kids that were out marching and protesting, I tried to show every angle. I have seen more pain than anger. You know, some people have lost their jobs, some people have lost their homes. People are being locked up. Some people feel like their rights have been violated. And it’s really hard to explain all the emotions that I’ve been around. I’m just trying to tell their story a little bit about how I saw it.
GWEN IFILL: You can see more of Allen’s story in the latest issue of TIME magazine at time.com.
See the TIME magazine cover here.
The post How an aspiring photographer captured Baltimore’s pain appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
GWEN IFILL: Next: a sweeping story of migration, told in intimate detail through paintings and words.
Jeffrey Brown has the story.
JEFFREY BROWN: It began during World War I and wouldn’t end until the 1970s. The movement of six million African-Americans from the rural South to the urban North changed America forever. The epic story is the subject of an epic work of art, The Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence, himself the son of Southern migrants, who studied photographs and news and scholarly accounts before lifting a brush.
LEAH DICKERMAN, Curator, Museum of Modern Art: The thing about Lawrence is, he’s deeply read. He has an extraordinary research protocol.
JEFFREY BROWN: Curator Leah Dickerman has brought together all 60 of Lawrence’s small paintings for an exhibition titled One-Way Ticket at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
It’s a chance to see the entire work, from the hardships of life in the South, to the long journey from home, and the new life that awaited, one that included opportunity, but also new struggles. Each panel comes with a brief bare-bones caption.
LEAH DICKERMAN: There’s an extraordinary emotional range to this work of art, between scenes of great tenderness and intimacy, an image of saying grace before the most spare and impoverished meal, an image of a woman reading a letter from the South to a child who’s listening to her. And then it’s crosscut. And I’m using that cinematic term because I think he thinks cinematically.
JEFFREY BROWN: You do?
LEAH DICKERMAN: Yes, with images of stark racial injustice.
JEFFREY BROWN: Jacob Lawrence was an artistic prodigy, just 23 when he began this work in 1940. He was part of the cultural flowering in mid-20th century Harlem, the Harlem renaissance of writers, musicians and artists. And the exhibition captures that period through photographs and music.
In 1995 Lawrence, who died in 2000, spoke to the NewsHour’s Charlayne Hunter-Gault.
JACOB LAWRENCE: When I did this series, I didn’t know who would ever see it. I didn’t know if it would ever be seen. I just did it. And I would like for people to look — feel, look, this is me. This is mankind, or womankind, obviously. And I would like it to be a universal statement as well.
JEFFREY BROWN: Universal, but deeply personal. That’s how the paintings have been viewed ever since. And now, they have a new resonance into contemporary poetry.
PATRICIA SPEARS JONES, Poet: Much about the South is unseen or not shown. The painter understands the usefulness of obscenity.
JEFFREY BROWN: The museum asked 10 poets to respond to individual paintings with a new poem.
TERRANCE HAYES, Poet: The boll weevils Jacob Lawrence painted are little more than silhouettes, but a Southern landowner would have recognized them as symbols of bad luck, bold evil, the money eaters.
LYRAE VAN CLIEF-STEFANON, Poet: Like flames of green, crop-streaked, squash-blossomed color, striped soil, go with your ratchet, Negro who had been part of soil now going into and leading a new life in the urban centers.
JEFFREY BROWN: Poet Elizabeth Alexander led the project, and she, like the others, has her own personal connections.
ELIZABETH ALEXANDER, Poet: In African-American history, in African-American culture, as a black person myself, we all have some connection to migration at some point in our families. It really was very powerful to think, this is what my mother, my very mother, my own mother, she comes from this.
CRYSTAL WILLIAMS, Poet: The past has long legs and is heavy, they said, which was a kind of warning. Stay clear of the enormous twisted tree on Tidwell Hill.
JEFFREY BROWN: Crystal Williams grew up in Detroit. Her father had come from Alabama. She chose perhaps the most harrowing painting in the series, one about lynching. The poem she wrote, “Year After Year We Visited Alabama,” became a gentle homage to her loving father.
CRYSTAL WILLIAMS: The poem really has to do with the lessons that I think we have lost. My father was truly one of the most gentle people I have ever met.
And I understand now, as an adult, that that gentleness was a choice, that he was choosing, given what he had seen in the South, to live a life in which he looked for connections between people to practice forgiveness.
TYEHIMBA JESS, Poet: Another of the social causes of the migrants leaving was that, at times, they didn’t feel safe, or it wasn’t the best thing to found on the street late at night. They were arrested at the slightest provocation.
JEFFREY BROWN: Tyehimba Jess went in a different direction, quoting directly from the caption of one of Lawrence’s paintings of black men being arrested.
TYEHIMBA JESS: This painting in particular called me to — to speak to the fact that the things that my parents left South, left the South land to escape, are still part of this nation’s DNA, and still — are still being dealt with today.
JEFFREY BROWN: His poem, titled “Another Man Done,” is a literal layering of words, suggesting the repetition of events through time.
TYEHIMBA JESS: I see a kind of daring vision behind the idea of doing all of these paintings at once and trying to capture that moment, that idea of going from some place where you are not recognized fully for your human potential and trying to move to a place where you can fully exercise your human capacity.
JEFFREY BROWN: One-Way Ticket is on exhibit through September 7.
From the Museum of Modern Art in New York, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the PBS NewsHour.
The post Revisiting the Great Migration through paintings and poetry appeared first on PBS NewsHour.