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

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    The Senate voted almost unanimously a bill that would allow Congress to review a nuclear agreement with Iran.  Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

    The Senate voted almost unanimously a bill that would allow Congress to review a nuclear agreement with Iran. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

    WASHINGTON — The Senate muscled its way into President Barack Obama’s talks to curb Iran’s nuclear program, overwhelmingly backing legislation Thursday that would let Congress review and possibly reject any final deal with Tehran.

    The vote was 98-1 for the bipartisan bill that would give Congress a say on what could be a historic accord that the United States and five other nations are trying to finalize with Iran, which would get relief from crippling economy penalties.

    The lone no vote came from freshman Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who wants the administration to submit any agreement to the Senate as a treaty. Under the Constitution, that would require approval of two-thirds of the Senate.

    The House is expected to vote next week on the measure.

    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement moments after the vote that the “goal is to stop a bad agreement that could pave the way to a nuclear-armed Iran, set off a regional nuclear arms race, and strengthen and legitimize the government of Iran.”

    The U.S. and other nations negotiating with Tehran have long suspected that Iran’s nuclear program is secretly aimed at atomic weapons capability. Tehran insists the program is entirely devoted to civilian purposes.

    The talks resume next week in Vienna, with a target date of June 30 for a final agreement.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the bill “offers the best chance for our constituents through the Congress they elect to weigh in on the White House negotiations with Iran.”

    Added Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee: “No bill. No review.”

    The legislation would bar Obama from waiving congressional sanctions for at least 30 days while lawmakers examine any final deal. The bill would stipulate that if senators disapprove of the deal, Obama would lose his current power to waive certain economic penalties Congress has imposed on Iran.

    The bill would require Congress to pass a resolution of disapproval to reject the deal, an action that Obama almost certainly would veto. Congress then would have to muster votes from two-thirds of each chamber to override the veto.

    In the House, about 150 Democrats — enough to sustain a veto — wrote the president to express their strong support for the nuclear negotiations with Iran.

    “We urge you to stay the course,” the letter said. “We must allow our negotiating team the space and time necessary to build on the progress made in the political framework and turn it into a long-term, verifiable agreement.”

    The bill took a roller coaster ride to passage.

    Obama first threatened to veto it. Then he said he would sign it if the measure was free of amendments the White House believed would make continued negotiations with Tehran virtually impossible.

    It survived a blow from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who stood before Congress in March and warned the U.S. that an emerging nuclear agreement would pave Iran’s path to atomic weapons.

    “It is a very bad deal. We are better off without it,” he said in a speech arranged by Republicans. His address aggravated strained relations with Obama and gambled with the long-standing bipartisan congressional support for Israel.

    A few days later, Cotton and 46 of his GOP colleagues wrote a letter warning Iranian leaders that any deal with Obama could expire when he leaves office in January 2017.

    Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada accused the GOP of trying to undermine the commander in chief while empowering the ayatollahs who lead Iran.

    In April, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a compromise bill on a 19-0 vote. Obama withdrew his veto threat.

    But Republicans were not done trying to change the bill, drawing up more than 60 amendments.

    One, from Cotton, would have made any deal contingent on Iran’s halting its support of terrorist activities that threaten Americans. Cotton used an unusual Senate procedural move to get his amendment heard.

    McConnell did not want to see the bill end in tatters, so he acted to end the amendment process and have votes on the legislation.

    “It is a virtual certainty that no matter how terrible this deal is, it will go into effect and this legislation is unlikely to stop it,” said Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who is running for president.

    Another 2016 candidate, Sen. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the bill puts Congress in a better position than having no say.

    “At a minimum, at least it creates a process whereby the American people through their representatives can debate an issue of extraordinary importance,” Rubio said.

    The post U.S. Senate almost unanimously approves Iran nuclear negotiations bill appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Blue Bell Ice Cream is seen on shelves of an Overland Park grocery store prior to being removed on April 21, 2015 in Overland Park, Kansas. Blue Bell Creameries recalled all products following Listeria contamination that caused at least 10 illnesses and 3 deaths. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Blue Bell Ice Cream is seen on shelves of an Overland Park grocery store prior to being removed on April 21, 2015 in Overland Park, Kansas. Blue Bell Creameries recalled all products following Listeria contamination that caused at least 10 illnesses and 3 deaths. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Blue Bell ice cream had evidence of listeria bacteria in its Oklahoma manufacturing plant as far back as March 2013, a government investigation released Thursday says. The company then continued to ship ice cream produced in that plant after what the Food and Drug Administration says was inadequate cleaning.

    Three listeria deaths in Kansas are now linked to the ice cream. The company recalled all of its products last month, following several smaller recalls.

    The FDA released its investigations into Blue Bell’s plants in Oklahoma, Texas and Alabama after a Freedom of Information request by The Associated Press. The most extensive violations were found in Oklahoma, where the FDA released 16 separate positive tests for listeria on equipment and in ice cream from March 2013 through January 2015.

    Blue Bell did not immediately respond to a phone call or email seeking comment.

    Violations in the Oklahoma plant include dirty equipment, inadequate food storage, food being held at improper temperatures and employees not washing hands adequately.

    There were also violations at the Texas and Alabama plants. In Alabama, FDA investigators observed at least two employees working with the food wearing soiled clothing. In Texas, investigators saw condensation dripping directly into food and onto surfaces that came directly in contact with food. In all of the plants, the FDA found dirty equipment and infrastructure that made cleaning difficult.

    Listeria generally only affects the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, pregnant women and their newborn infants. It can cause fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal symptoms. The worst cases are fatal. It can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, and serious illness or death in newborn babies.

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

    The post Investigators say Blue Bell ice cream had evidence of listeria in 2013 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    In this Nov. 22, 2014 photo, Thai and Burmese fishing boat workers sit behind bars inside a cell at the compound of a fishing company in Benjina, Indonesia. The imprisoned men were considered slaves who might run away. They said they lived on a few bites of rice and curry a day in a space barely big enough to lie down, stuck until the next trawler forces them back to sea. Photo by Dita Alangkara/Associated Press

    In this Nov. 22, 2014 photo, Thai and Burmese fishing boat workers sit behind bars inside a cell at the compound of a fishing company in Benjina, Indonesia. The imprisoned men were considered slaves who might run away. They said they lived on a few bites of rice and curry a day in a space barely big enough to lie down, stuck until the next trawler forces them back to sea. Photo by Dita Alangkara/Associated Press

    Twenty-one million people are currently victims of modern day slavery. And most Americans use or consume products produced by slave labor — everything from pet food to sushi to cell phone parts–on a daily basis.

    P.J. Tobia, host of PBS NewsHour’s newest podcast, “Shortwave,” recently reported on this horrifying practice, how it persists and the many ways it permeates modern life. Tobia spoke to Martha Mendoza, one of a team of AP reporters who uncovered a fishing business in Indonesia that relies on slave labor to net seafood that ends up in products, including Fancy Feast cat food, calamari and imitation crab. The men who catch the fish are kept in cages and compensated rarely, if at all. Since Tobia’s podcast originally aired in April, 550 of these men have been freed in response to Mendoza’s reporting.

    Tobia also spoke to Maurice Middleberg, executive director of the NGO, Free the Slaves. Middleberg explained that the practice of slavery extends far beyond the tiny Indonesian island exposed by Mendoza and her colleagues. He also told Tobia that sexual slavery accounts for only around one fifth of slavery worldwide.

    “About 70 to 80 percent of slavery is actually labor slavery,” he told Tobia. “They can’t leave, and the profits all go to the slaveholder, to the owner of whatever is the economic enterprise.”

    How do people fall into slavery? What can the international community do to put a stop to the practice? How can consumers educate themselves to avoid products produced using slave labor? We addressed these questions and more in a Twitter chat.

    Tobia (@PJTobia) joined the conversation, along with representatives of Free the Slaves (@FreetheSlaves) and Mary Rajkumar (@maryrajkumar), the Associated Press’ international enterprise editor. Read the full discussion below.

    The post Twitter chat: Are you benefiting from modern day slavery? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A view of the car used by two gunmen, who were killed by police on Sunday after they opened fire outside an exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in Garland, Texas. Photo by Rex Curry/Reuters

    A view of the car used by two gunmen, who were killed by police on Sunday after they opened fire outside an exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in Garland, Texas. Photo by Rex Curry/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Federal investigators knew that one of the two gunmen in an attempted attack outside a provocative cartoon contest in Texas might be interested in going to the event, but they had no information that he was going to commit violence, FBI Director James Comey said Thursday in his first public comments on the Sunday shooting.

    The information about Elton Simpson of Phoenix surfaced hours before the contest in Garland, Texas, which the FBI had already identified as a potential target for violence, Comey said.

    The director said the agency then sent an intelligence bulletin to the Garland Police Department, including a picture and other information about Simpson, “even though we didn’t have reason to believe that he was going to attack the event. In fact, we didn’t have reason to believe that he had left Phoenix,” Comey said.

    Simpson had been convicted in 2011 following a terrorism-related investigation stemming from what prosecutors said were his plans to travel to Somalia to fight alongside extremists there. The FBI opened a new investigation into his activities in March after suspecting “a renewed interest in jihad” in connection with the Islamic State group, Comey said.

    That investigation was “open but far from complete” at the time of the shooting, the FBI director said.

    Simpson and his roommate opened fire outside the event but were fatally shot before they could kill anyone.

    The post Federal investigators knew one gunman wanted to attend controversial cartoon event in Texas appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    maxresdefault

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

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

    GWEN IFILL: Now to our NewsHour Shares of the day, something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too.

    Highways will soon be making room for the world’s first self-driving 18-wheeler truck. The Daimler Freightliner Inspiration is now authorized for test-drives on public roads in Nevada with a state license. But the semis won’t be completely autonomous. There will always be a licensed truck driver in the seat. The goal is to reduce driver fatigue on long-haul trips. But trucking unions are wary of the change. And it might yet take some time to persuade lawmakers, and the public, that it’s safe.

    The post This tractor-trailer drives itself appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    emma

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    GWEN IFILL: After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, British Middle East expert Emma Sky joined the U.S.-British civilian operation there, advising Coalition Provisional Authority Chief Paul Bremer and top U.S. military commanders, including Generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno.

    Emma Sky explores the mistakes that were made in her new book, “The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq.”

    In the latest addition to the NewsHour Bookshelf, chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner talked to her at Busboys and Poets, a local Washington bookstore.

    MARGARET WARNER: Emma Sky, welcome. Thank you for join us.

    EMMA SKY, Author, “The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq”: Thank you.

    MARGARET WARNER: You opposed the Iraq war from the start. What drove you then to volunteer to go to help rebuild the country after the invasion?

    EMMA SKY: Well, I thought, this is my opportunity to go to Iraq to apologize to the Iraqi people for the war.

    The British government asked for volunteers. They said it would just be three months before we hand the country back to the Iraqis. I thought, I have got some skills. I can help rebuild. I can help conflict mediation. I can help institutional development.

    MARGARET WARNER: What was the fatal mistake of the Americans and the British? At what point did it become the unraveling?

    EMMA SKY: There were many mistakes all the way along.

    So, after the invasion, there was no plan for what should be done. And the invading forces didn’t have enough troops. There was a power vacuum. All these different gangs started to form. Then there was de-Baathification dissolving the military, and all of this led to the collapse of the state and then the civil war.

    MARGARET WARNER: You said you thought the big mistake was for the Americans and the British to try to get Iraq to reorganize on the basis of ethnicity and sect. What was the alternative?

    EMMA SKY: I think the alternative was to create the sense of Iraqiness.

    And you organize based on regions and towns. And so you don’t say we will have 20 percent Sunnis, 20 percent Kurds, 60 percent Shia. You actually think, we will have representatives from Basra, from Anbar, from Irbil. And that way, you’re building up geographical representation, not based on the sect and ethnicity.

    Instead, we wanted to build a pluralistic society, but what this did was institutionalize sectarianism. So, there was nothing about being Iraqi. It was all about being a subcomponent.

    MARGARET WARNER: Paul Bremer asked you to come to Baghdad as his adviser.

    Tell us about that.

    EMMA SKY: I arrived there in sort of February 2004.

    And by that stage, it was very clear things were not going well. We had the Abu Ghraib scandal. We had uprisings in Fallujah. We had uprises in the south with the Sadrists. And at the palace, we were forever being bombed and rocketed and there were always sound of gunfire.

    So, it was a very dangerous time. And there was a sense that everything was starting to go downhill rapidly.

    MARGARET WARNER: And yet you say Ambassador Bremer didn’t see it that way.

    EMMA SKY: When does optimism become delusion? And at one level, Ambassador Bremer is trying to lead in these very difficult circumstances.

    But I remember the farewell party he had for us. And he said, you know, for the rest of your lives, you will remember how you brought democracy to Iraq. And as the bombs and rockets were going off in the background, I thought, there’s a lot I’m going to remember. I’m not sure I will remember the democracy bit.

    MARGARET WARNER: Now, what was it like for you, first of all, clearly progressive young woman from Britain, who was suddenly sitting at the right hand and advising these powerful American generals and living with the U.S. military? Must have been a huge cultural shock.

    EMMA SKY: I mean, when I — I had never worked with any military before, let alone the U.S. military, before I got to Iraq. The initial interaction was a lot of friction.

    But I came to see quite early on that these guys wanted to do the right thing. They wanted to stabilize Iraq, so they could leave. And they had capabilities. They had good leaders. They had resources. So I calculated that my best use of my skills was to help them be better at what they were doing.

    MARGARET WARNER: But, in 2010, after quelling the Sunni-Shia civil war and al-Qaida, the Americans, Sky says, made a fateful mistake, throwing their weight Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki after he narrowly lost the 2010 election against a non-sectarian rival.

    EMMA SKY: There was a sense of, do we uphold the election results or do we keep Maliki in power? And General Odierno was, we’re Americans, there’s been an election, we must uphold the results.

    But there were others who thought, we know Maliki. He will give us a follow-on security agreement. So, that was the debate. And, unfortunately, Vice President Biden came down on the side of, there’s no one but al-Maliki, this is the quickest option, keep the status quo, and we can get an security agreement, and then just really disengage.

    MARGARET WARNER: Which is what Washington wanted to do.

    EMMA SKY: Washington wanted to end the war. That was the priority, to end the war.

    MARGARET WARNER: So what is the future now that you see for Iraq?

    EMMA SKY: Iraq’s present is really very grim.

    You have got Islamic State controlling a third of the country. For all of us who served in Iraq year after year after year, it’s really hard. And I think the only way is to maintain hope, is to look at Iraq’s past, and you think, you know, this is the land where Adam and Eve were. This is the land where the Talmud was written. Baghdad was once the cultural capital of the Arab world.

    That’s an amazing history. And I hope the new generation comes along that’s inspired by Iraq’s incredible past and that’s able to build a better future.

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, Emma Sky, thank you so much.

    EMMA SKY: Thank you.

    The post Author Emma Sky on the fateful mistakes made after the Iraq invasion appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    SAFETY ZONE monitor SCHOOLS

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    GWEN IFILL: Over the past few months, NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs have been looking into school campus safety.

    In Arizona, one group of our high school students has been asked to play an important role in making sure everyone on campus knows what to do in an emergency.
    The NewsHour’s April Brown worked with some of those students, for our latest American graduate report, part of a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    WOMAN: Staff and students of South Mountain High School, we are in lockdown.

    APRIL BROWN: Those are words no school administrator wants to say.

    MAN: Room 160 needs to be secured.

    APRIL BROWN: In the two years since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, schools around the country have been ramping up safety efforts, and experimenting with different approaches to prepare for worst-case scenarios.

    One high school in Phoenix challenged students to help make their school safer.

    STUDENT: During a reverse evacuation…

    APRIL BROWN: Administrators asked journalism students at South Mountain High School to create a video for their peers on what to do during emergency situations.

    Principal LaCresha Williams made the request after a potentially dangerous incident caused a lockdown in the fall.

    LACRESHA WILLIAMS, Principal, South Mountain High School: They are at lunch at this time. They are eating, having fun. So we literally pushed the kids into buildings. They are walking fast. They are not running, because they don’t know that — the seriousness of it, that there is an alleged person who has a weapon on campus with a backpack.

    APRIL BROWN: The response to that incident wasn’t as smooth as school officials had hoped.

    BRION MACNEIL, Security Lead, South Mountain High School: It goes back to an old sports cliche, which is you play like you practice.

    APRIL BROWN: Head of security Brion MacNeil says regular drills are important.

    BRION MACNEIL: The whole purpose of a lockdown is to minimize casualties. We know that sometimes, depending on the situation, we’re not going to be 100 percent. But we try to get everybody inside and secured as fast as we can.

    APRIL BROWN: Senior Jose Contreras, the lead producer of the student video, says it’s been clear for some time that students need more information.

    JOSE CONTRERAS, Student, South Mountain High School: Some classrooms locked their doors before all of the students were in, so some students were freaking out that they couldn’t get in. And they created a lot of chaos and a lot of fear even to some students.

    APRIL BROWN: Many students were unaware that teachers are supposed to lock classroom doors immediately in many emergency situations, as Anne Montgomery did during the drill we were allowed to film. And after that?

    ANNE MONTGOMERY, Teacher, South Mountain High School: It’s very important that we be quiet, that we go in our little room over there and close the door and make the room look like it’s empty, and that they bring all their backpacks and belongings, so if someone did make it into the main room, they would think this place was empty.

    APRIL BROWN: At South Mountain, teachers like Montgomery have written instructions detailing how to respond to various emergencies.

    This year, they also watched a new training video developed with guidance from first-responders, educators, mental health professionals and law enforcement.

    MAN: Recent events remind us that active-shooter incidents can occur anywhere in our community.

    IRENE DIAZ, Supervisor for Student Discipline, Safety & Security, Phoenix Union High School District: When I first watched the video, I cried. It’s really hard to deal with that children can be put in that kind of situation.

    APRIL BROWN: Irene Diaz is the Phoenix Union School District’s supervisor for security. She says the active-shooter action plan video has helped teachers and staff become better prepared.

    IRENE DIAZ: We were training our staff with get small, get quiet. We needed to do something to train our teachers, to prepare them so that more kids do survive should an incident like that occur.

    APRIL BROWN: The video, though, was considered inappropriate for students, and they never saw it.

    But as part of the research for their own video, the journalism students met with Deborah Roepke, the head of the nonprofit that created the one for teachers. She suggested they consider addressing situations that could come up in an emergency.

    DEBORAH ROEPKE, Executive Director, Coyote Crisis Collaborative: There could be situations where you have rooms that are not lockable, so what does a substitute teacher, what does a student do in that situation?

    APRIL BROWN: Or if someone happens to be is in the restroom during a lockdown, a scenario included in the students’ final cut.

    MAN: Hide inside the stall furthest away from the door.

    APRIL BROWN: For additional information, the young journalists also interviewed students and teachers to learn more about their school’s current emergency protocols, including what was and wasn’t working.

    LEAH HOPPER, Teacher, South Mountain High School: We found a weak spot within our school, within specifically our department with accessibility. If you were able to get into my classroom, you would have access to all the other teachers’ classrooms within my department. And that has been addressed, getting locks, two-way locks on our doors.

    QUESTION: How effective would you say the drills at South are and why?

    JOHN CANO, Teacher, South Mountain High School: Our drills, evacuation drills, all of them or just…

    QUESTION: All of them?

    JOHN CANO: Haven’t been as efficient as I feel they need to be. The first one we had in November, for example, was very poor, created a fire hazard at the choke point of our stadium.

    APRIL BROWN: It turns out many people noticed that problem.

    Describe to me what happens when you have got 1,500 kids going to the football field at once?

    STUDENT: It gets really hectic. If you can imagine so many kids shoulder to shoulder trying to get inside the football field. People start freaking out. And it just creates more problems than the one already presented.

    APRIL BROWN: The student journalists shared what they learned with administrators, and even though it wasn’t news principal LaCresha Williams wanted to hear, she recognized its value.

    LACRESHA WILLIAMS: We have a lot of work to do. We’re working vigilantly to take care of that. And them uncovering those gaps and communicating them to us, that’s just like gold. We need it.

    APRIL BROWN: But even after addressing those problems, there has been one issue that keeps coming up.

    Do you ever tell your peers to take drills seriously or are you pressured by your peers to goof off?

    GISELLE TORRES: Well, sometimes, I do feel pressure to goof off because they can — like, you don’t want to be the one that’s not.

    APRIL BROWN: Jose Contreras hopes the video will change a few minds about that.

    JOSE CONTRERAS: Not everything is a drill. Sometimes, real stuff does happen, and people need to realize that.

    APRIL BROWN: The South Mountain journalism students hope to eventually distribute their video to other schools that request it.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m April Brown in Phoenix.

    The post When school safety drills weren’t so smooth, these students made a training video appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Local resident stands in front of a reopened store at the corner of North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue in Baltimore

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    GWEN IFILL: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake today announced a new effort to tackle the city’s longstanding problems. The One Baltimore campaign, as it’s called, is designed to bring business, religious and community groups together to help rebuild the city.

    Given the city’s difficult history, the mayor’s initiative reflects concern about the potential long-term toll the latest upheaval could leave on some its already most troubled neighborhoods.

    Economics correspondent Paul Solman went to Baltimore to take a look, part of our ongoing reporting on Making Sense of financial news, which airs every Thursday on the NewsHour.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The Southern Baptist Church in strife-stricken Baltimore. This annual celebration of the area’s church ushers seemed jarring, given the loss that Pastor Donte Hickman’s flock suffered last week, their half-built senior housing complex and community center torched, fully a third of the $12 million project reduced to rubble within hours, so too the church bus.

    REV. DONTE HICKMAN, Southern Baptist Church: It was heartbreaking. We built — invested in the community. And who would do something like this?

    PAUL SOLMAN: But they’re asking a bigger question in the city at large: What do last week’s events portend for the economy of Baltimore as a whole?

    On relatively upscale Federal Hill, at the Marcus Boyd real estate firm, colloquially known as Will and Bill on the Hill, business was off by roughly 100 percent.

    WILLIAM RUNNEBAUM, Co-Owner, Marcus Boyd Realty: These are the ones that were canceled.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Co-owner Will Runnebaum says buyers and renters are staying away in droves.

    WILLIAM RUNNEBAUM: The phones have not been ringing and no one has been walking in.

    PAUL SOLMAN: As for investors:

    WILLIAM RUNNEBAUM: We have two properties on the market right now with a commercial or retail presence on the first floor and then multiple apartments above. Those type of properties have been extremely popular. And now this week, we have seen a drastic decline in requests to even see them.

    PAUL SOLMAN: In the similarly trendy Fells Point neighborhood, the boutique hotel Inn at the Black Olive suffered the same fate.

    DIMITRIS SPILIADIS, Co-Owner, Inn at the Black Olive: I had never experienced anything in my lifetime like this.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Co-owner Dimitris Spiliadis says he was swamped by cancellations.

    DIMITRIS SPILIADIS: We were at 100 percent occupancy. This is the busy season. And I had to give refunds. We lost all reservations. We lost a bunch of parties. Prices were cut by two-thirds. Occupancy was cut by two-thirds, at least.

    PAUL SOLMAN: In Baltimore’s famously revived Inner Harbor, economic consultant Anirban Basu summed up.

    ANIRBAN BASU, CEO, Sage Policy Group, Inc.: This has hammered the leisure and hospitality segments of the city of Baltimore. We have had bars that have lost about 95 percent of their normal business traffic. We have had a number of Orioles games canceled, including one that took place with no fans, and of course there’s the direct damage from the riot on Monday night.

    That’s going to make it that much more difficult to market this city, not just to tourists, but to students who would attend Johns Hopkins or Loyola University or the University of Maryland, Baltimore, people who are being recruited for corporate positions at Under Armour, T. Rowe Price, Legg Mason and other businesses in Baltimore city. And so anyone who thinks that these effects won’t linger I think is naive.

    ROBERT MARGO, Boston University: I grew up in Detroit. And I remember the 1967 riots.

    Economic historian Robert Margo doesn’t just remember the 1960s riots. He studied their effects in dozens of cities across the U.S.

    ROBERT MARGO: The riots were unambiguously negative. They reduced incomes of African-Americans, employment, and they reduced housing values. Local amenities, shopping, things like this basically went away. And I would also add that were not transient effects. They persisted. We found no evidence that they got better, so to speak.

    KRIS MARSH, University of Maryland, College Park: I was in Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Sociologist Kris Marsh.

    KRIS MARSH: For the most part, where we saw the hotbed of the Rodney King riots, there hasn’t been a lot of reinvestment back in that community.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Nor was there much reinvestment in Baltimore’s affected neighborhoods after the eight-day uprising here in 1968.

    PASTOR DONTE HICKMAN: So much was left undone. So much was left without being rebuilt.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But if the effects of the last riots are there for anyone to see, why would Baltimore’s inner-city residents trash their neighborhoods yet again, even if thus far only for one night?

    TERRENCE ROGERS, Pastor in Training: Some people are looting because that’s just their mentality, but there’s others who feel like they’re making a statement. We want to be heard. You understand what I’m saying?

    PAUL SOLMAN: Terrence Rogers, a minister in training under Pastor Hickman, as are Darien Wright and Nicholas Johnson.

    NICHOLAS JOHNSON: That area in West Baltimore was already destroyed. People aren’t feeling like they can succeed in life or get above.

    TERRENCE ROGERS: When they’re at that boiling point and it comes to them lashing out, what’s the worst that can happen? It’s already falling down around us. It’s like we’re all living in this dump or this war zone.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And yet, barely two miles away, Baltimore has been booming.

    ANIRBAN BASU: Over there is a Four Seasons Hotel. And you will see a crane there.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Yes.

    ANIRBAN BASU: On top of that is being constructed nine stories of luxury condominiums. Over there, you can see the new regional headquarters of Exelon under construction. And that is going to energize development on a peninsula innocent as Harbor Point, Baltimore’s most upscale neighborhood.

    PAUL SOLMAN: This is all Inner Harbor here?

    ANIRBAN BASU: This is all the Inner Harbor of Baltimore. It was not long ago that these were rotting piers. And there were rats running all over the place. Now, today, it is a showpiece for urban America.

    JOHN DEMIRJIAN, Owner, Urban Brownstones LLC: The city is thriving and rotting at the same time.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Local real estate investor John DeMirjian.

    JOHN DEMIRJIAN: I hate to say it, but my life over the last week was almost totally unchanged, which seems a little unfair, being in a city that was rioting.

    PAUL SOLMAN: At Anirban Basu’s office, his young employees seemed even less fazed.

    How many of you would tell your friends from other cities, hey, you still want the come to Baltimore? Every one of you.

    KIERAN SMITH: I would say that Baltimore is still an attractive location for people from my age group.

    SHOKO SHIMOKOJI: I think we will just live a normal life after this.

    ANDRE CLARK: If the rioting goes away and the destruction of property goes away, most people will forget about it.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Why have young professionals flocked here? Less than an hour of Washington, Baltimore housing is a third the price — one reason, the stigma of the city’s rotting inner core. And with the recent unrest, housing might become even more affordable.

    But that’s what worries sociologist Kris Marsh.

    KRIS MARSH: Because, in some ways, this is prime property. So you may have the big developers want to come in and push out brown and black folks and gentrify it and now make it what we see in D.C., this new area for young white folks with 2.5 kids and a Prius.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But when I look around here, this place behind us, there, there, there, it’s a whole block. It’s got nobody living in it at all. Gentrification is better than that, right?

    KRIS MARSH: That’s one way you could look at it, but how about trying to invest in the people that are already here?

    NATHAN CONNOLLY, Johns Hopkins University: One-third of the people who shop at this mall make less than $25,000 a year.

    PAUL SOLMAN: At the Mondawmin Mall, where last week’s rioting began, historian Nathan Connolly told us that perhaps what happened in Baltimore will galvanize such investment.

    NATHAN CONNOLLY: One of my hopes, in fact, is that this riot will really begin to initiate a conversation about a government jobs program that really will address the problem of underemployment in black neighborhoods.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But that’s going to cost taxpayer money, and in the United States in 2015, taxpayers aren’t particularly interested in making those kinds of investments.

    NATHAN CONNOLLY: Historically, that’s actually true. And it’s unfortunate, because one of the reasons we have gotten into this mess is we’re willing to accept taxes for increasing policing, but we’re not willing to accept taxes for anti-poverty, particularly anti-poverty measures targeting communities of color.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So maybe the obstacles are insurmountable.

    But Pastor Donte Hickman has a reminder for skeptics, economic and spiritual alike: God works in mysterious ways.

    REV. DONTE HICKMAN: I think opposition lends itself when you are resilient and faithful to greater opportunities of growth.

    PAUL SOLMAN: We can at least all pray for that.

    Economics correspondent Paul Solman, reporting for the PBS NewsHour from Baltimore, Maryland.

    GWEN IFILL: We have more on Baltimore online. Economist John Komlos breaks down some startling statistics about income inequality in the city on our home page, PBS.org/NewsHour.

    The post How does Baltimore’s economy recover after the riots? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Senator Hatch heads to the Senate floor for a cloture vote on Capitol Hill  in Washington

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    GWEN IFILL: In a rare, near-unanimous and bipartisan vote, the Senate declared it would have its say in ongoing nuclear talks with Iran.

    The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act passed 98-1. It would give Congress up to 52 days to review any proposed nuclear agreement with Iran. During that time, the president could not reduce imposed sanctions. And Congress could vote, up or down, on any proposed agreement. A two-thirds vote would be needed to override any resulting presidential veto.

    I spoke earlier with two senators who joined in the overwhelming support for the measure.

    We begin with Republican John Thune of South Dakota.

    Sen. Thune, thank you for joining us.

    So why did Congress feel it had to have its say today?

    SEN. JOHN THUNE, R-S.D.: Well, I think there’s a concern among the American people, Gwen. And it needs to be voiced through their representatives in Congress about an Iranian nuclear agreement that the administration is in the process of negotiating.

    I think there’s — this has huge national security consequences, not only for our allies in the region, but for the United States. And so the Congress in the legislation that we passed today, and it was an overwhelming vote, I think went on the record expressing their desire to be a part of this process and have an opportunity to at least review and approve or disapprove whatever agreement the administration negotiates.

    GWEN IFILL: You’re right; that was an overwhelming vote. But even though only one person voted against the final bill, several of your colleagues, Senator Rubio, Senator Cruz, Senator Cotton, they had all been a little bit concerned about seeming to give congressional — Congress’ blessing to any deal. How did you overcome those concerns?

    SEN. JOHN THUNE: Right.

    Well, I think, in the end, what they — their argument was that, yes, you don’t have Congress on the record in any way blessing this thing. But in the end, it’s going to take basically 67 votes in the Congress for anything that the president — or I should say it’s going to take 34 to approve, but it’s going to take 67 votes to disapprove anything that the administration negotiates.

    And the one thing that the legislation does — and I think this was probably the most compelling argument in support of getting people on board with this — at least we have an opportunity to review it. We get 30 days. It will be an opportunity to educate the American people about the particulars, the details of this thing and what it means.

    And I think that was probably the most compelling argument in favor of moving forward with this legislation, which, by the way, was negotiated really by Bob Corker, and had 65 or 64 co-sponsors when it started out. So this started out with a broad bipartisan support. The president had indicated that he would veto it. And he only came along reluctantly when it became clear that this thing was going to pass.

    So, I think that this is an important step forward in ensuring that the American people and members of Congress have an opportunity to debate, review and act ultimately on whatever deal the administration negotiates.

    GWEN IFILL: But couldn’t the Congress debate — have debated, reviewed and acted on this even without — no matter what happened with this deal? Couldn’t Congress have done this any time?

    SEN. JOHN THUNE: Well, they could, but there was no guarantee that we would have had the opportunity to see it.

    This requires the administration to present it and, you know, in all of its details and line by line. And so Congress and the American people are going to have a chance to see it. Now, arguably, there are certain people probably that would have had a chance to see it anyway, but for the entire Congress, and, by virtue of that, the American people to have an opportunity to review this deal, it took a process like this. And I think that’s why, in the end, you know, that’s what won it out.

    GWEN IFILL: Early on in this, one of the objections from the White House and from some Democrats was that Congress was going to hurt the deal still being negotiated, still being firmed up in Geneva, Vienna, wherever they are this week, and that it would hurt the overall negotiations.

    Why won’t this?

    SEN. JOHN THUNE: I think, in the end, it gives — it gives additional leverage to the administration, because now the Iranians know, the other parties know, our allies know that this is something that Congress is at least going to weigh in on.

    And I think that’s another threshold that, as they’re negotiating, they have to think about. For example, I had an amendment that ultimately didn’t get voted on that would have required the State Department to investigate whether or not the IAEA really had the ability under the agreement to take a look at these military sites to see if the Iranians were in compliance.

    And things like that, I think, are really important to the American people. Things like that, I think, are really important to individual members of Congress. And I think the administration should use that to their advantage when they’re negotiating this deal.

    GWEN IFILL: Except your amendment didn’t get voted on. A lot of other amendments didn’t get voted on. They were shut down by the Senate majority leader. Isn’t this the thing Republicans used to complain that Harry Reid did all the time?

    JOHN THUNE: Well, it did — the Democrats had no interest in helping on this because they didn’t have any amendments they offered. They wanted to see the bill move forward without amendment.

    We had a number of members on our side who did want to offer amendments. The Democrats objected and blocked those. In the end, we wanted to get the bill passed. And, yes, it would have been nice to have had a debate about amendments. Most of those amendments ultimately would have been defeated. It would have been nice to think that we could have even strengthened the bill before it passed.

    But if I’m the White House, I look at this entire process and say, this is good for us because this gives us, as we negotiate, a stronger hand. And I think in the end that enables them, if they’re willing to use that, to get a better deal.

    GWEN IFILL: Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, thank you very much.

    SEN. JOHN THUNE: Thanks, Gwen.

    GWEN IFILL: I also spoke with Virginia’s Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine.

    Sen. Kaine, thank you for joining us.

    It’s so unusual to see such an overwhelming bipartisan agreement. How significant was this vote today?

    SEN. TIM KAINE, D-Va.: It was a huge vote, Gwen, both for what it means and what it portends.

    This was a bill that was introduced in 2014 by 14 Republicans, Senator Corker and 13 other Republicans, a very partisan bill. But we started to work on it together in January, recognizing the stakes. An Iranian nuclear negotiation is nothing to play around with. And we made some significant changes to turn it into a bipartisan bill.

    After some of the drama in February and March here in the Senate, the letter of 47 to the supreme leader, we felt like we needed to show each other and our public that we could consider an important matter like a deal with Iran in a way that was deliberative and prompt and bipartisan. And when we got the bill done in the Foreign Relations Committee, where I serve, on a unanimous vote, and we got a 98-1 vote on the floor today, it shows that the Senate can step up and take these responsibilities on our shoulders and do them well.

    Now we have to do the same thing with this nine-month war against ISIL that’s going on.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, the White House had originally at some point, maybe it was about the time of this 47 Republicans signing the letter to the ayatollah, they had said that they would veto this.

    SEN. TIM KAINE: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: What changed?

    SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, I think, one, we got the votes. We had an undeniable momentum for this bill. But I also think the White House, as they looked at it, they realized something.

    If the choice was between congressional engagement or no engagement, this White House and probably every other White House would prefer no engagement. But that was never really the choice. Because the White House is negotiating with Iran using a congressionally imposed sanctions regime as the lever in the negotiation, we were always going to be involved.

    So once they realized that the real choice was between does Congress engage under a set of rules that’s prompt and careful and well-defined, or does Congress engage kind of under a free-for-all set of rules, they realized that the better course was to have a careful review. And that’s what we have done.

    We have given the president the ability to do waiver of executive or international sanctions without Congress, but when he proposes relief under the congressional statute, then we enter a review period that’s prompt, and then we have to render either an approval or disapproval or take no action, so that we can quickly, you know, give a congressional kind of signal about what we would intend. And that’s the right way to do this.

    GWEN IFILL: Now, you mentioned the ongoing conflict with ISIL. You spoke about that on the Senate floor today. Do you envision this as a blueprint for congressional action on other international issues, which would normally be the purview of the executive branch?

    SEN. TIM KAINE: I really do, Gwen.

    Of course, the executive branch has huge purview on matters~ of diplomacy and also on matters of war, but Congress has our prerogatives as well. And none are so important as the power of the Congress to declare war. Today is the end of nine months of unilateral executive war without a single vote on the floor of either house of Congress about whether we should be engaged in military action against ISIL.

    It’s been incredibly frustrating. But what I saw happen in the Foreign Relations Committee over the last month or so, coming together to try to tackle a tough issue, consistent with our responsibilities in a bipartisan way, I think what happened today portends that we can use the same approach as we grapple with the president’s proposed authorization for the war against ISIL.

    We shouldn’t be putting our service members’ lives at risk unless Congress is willing to have a debate and say that the mission is in the national interest.

    GWEN IFILL: Now, I asked Senator John Thune a short time ago, and I want to ask you, too. Part of the criticism about congressional intervention here is that you were going to endanger the ultimate agreement, which still hasn’t come to fruition that Senator John Kerry has been involved in — with.

    Do you anticipate that this will make his job tougher or easier?

    SEN. TIM KAINE: I think it will make it easier, Gwen.

    I — look, I take that concern seriously. That’s why I didn’t agree and have not agreed to be part of any sanctions legislation during the course of the negotiation with Iran, because the terms of the negotiation said we wouldn’t do any more sanctions while we were negotiating.

    But the terms of the negotiation didn’t say that Congress couldn’t sign off on the deal. Indeed, the deal that’s being negotiated is one that the Iranian parliament has to sign off on. And Iranian leaders are very sophisticated about our political system. If they want out from under congressional sanctions, they understand that Congress is going to have a say.

    So the fact that Congress will weigh in once a deal is done, if a deal is done, is not surprising to them. They have anticipated it from the beginning that. That will not cause these negotiations to go off the rails.

    GWEN IFILL: Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, thank you very much.

    SEN. TIM KAINE: Thanks, Gwen.

    The post Senators explain why Congress should have its say on Iran deal appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    [Watch Video]

    Our collective memory of the Iraq War is invariably filled with men. There were the thousands of U.S. combat soldiers in helicopters and Humvees, toting M-16 rifles in full battle regalia with the latest high-tech gadgetry. There were Iraqi fighters — al-Qaida insurgents battling the U.S.-led coalition, or Sunnis and Shias killing each other. And lots of politicians in suits or tribal robes, invariably men. Women did serve in U.S. forces, mostly in support positions. But sadly, our most vivid visual memory of Iraqi women are as victims, random casualties bleeding on the ground after a market bombing, or wailing over the body of a dead family member.

    But there were a handful of women who broke the mold — like British Middle East scholar Emma Sky, an early opponent of the Iraq invasion who nonetheless volunteered afterwards to work for the U.S-British-led Coalition Provisional Authority to stand up a post-Saddam government. She took clothes for 3 months — and stayed the better part of 10 years — despite a growing sense of foreboding that the situation was going from bad to worse. Sky lays this all out in her new book: “The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq.”

    British Middle East scholar Emma Sky, an early opponent of the Iraq invasion who nonetheless volunteered afterwards to work for the U.S. and British-led Coalition Provisional Authority to stand up a post-Saddam government. She took clothes for 3 months -- and stayed the better part of 10 years -- despite a growing sense of foreboding that the situation was going from bad to worse. Sky lays this all out in her new book: “The Unravelling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq.” Photo by Curt Cashour

    British Middle East scholar Emma Sky stands out in a sea of military men. She writes about her 10 years in Iraq in the new book: “The Unravelling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq.” Photo by Curt Cashour

    Sky charted a remarkable rise, from serving as de facto civilian governor of Kirkuk to becoming top political adviser to Col. William Mayville, US commander of the 173rd Airborne Brigade; then to counseling CPA chief Paul Bremer and his team ensconced at one of Saddam’s palaces in Baghdad. But her most prominent role came as a top adviser and confidante to America’s commanding generals, Gen. David Petraeus and most especially Gen. Ray Odierno. Dubbed a “latter-day Gertrude Bell,” she was a woman operating in a virtually all-male sea of military men. Because she was a civilian, and a Brit to boot, she could and did bluntly challenge their preconceptions about the political aspects of the military task they faced, trying to resolve the civil and ethnic strife into which Iraq had descended.

    Yet she insists, “when you look at Iraq, there were many amazing women.” Above all, she notes the Iraqi civilian women who held their families together and kept going. “That takes tremendous character.”

    In her book she also describes the remarkable partnership she forged with another woman — Dr. Basima al Jadiri, the top military adviser to the Shiite then-Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. The year was 2007, at the height of the bloody civil war between Sunnis and Shias, a period when Iraqi civilians would often step out of their houses in the morning to find scores of dead bodies on the street. Political reconciliation between Sunni and Shia was a must, but Maliki was suspicious of U.S. motives in trying to draw in the Sunnis to help defeat al-Qaida.

    Sky had read all kinds of dire U.S. military and intelligence reports about Dr. Basima, “describing her as a very wicked woman who was running all the sectarian death squads in Baghdad.” But, she says in our interview, “I thought there is no way a woman can be that bad. Prime Minister Maliki … trusts her; he must think she is capable. So I thought, I have got to get to know this woman because she is key in influencing the prime minister.”

    Dr. Basima al Jadiri, the top military adviser to Iraq' s former Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, Safa al-Sheikh, Iraq's deputy national security advisor, and author Emma Sky. Photo by Curt Cashour

    Dr. Basima al Jadiri, the top military adviser to Iraq’ s former Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, left, Safa al-Sheikh, Iraq’s deputy national security advisor, and author Emma Sky. Photo by Curt Cashour

    She went to see Dr. Basima and said, “Look, you’re a woman, I’m a woman. We’re both working with military guys and military guys are difficult.” Dr. Basima agreed. And once Sky had persuaded her that the Americans weren’t part of a conspiracy to cause a civil war — “I explained this was incompetence, it wasn’t conspiracy” — she and Dr. Basima teamed up, meeting with Sunni insurgent leaders to persuade them to turn against al-Qaida. And Dr. Basima did her part, convincing Prime Minister Maliki to absorb the former Sunni insurgents into the Iraqi security forces.

    “I think women are much more focused on how you bring about peace. How do you bring about the end of conflict?” says Sky. “Dr. Basima kept saying, ‘This will only end through reconciliation. There is no military solution. We have to reconcile.’”

    But their success was short-lived. As Sky tells it, as the Americans left, rushing to meet an Administration deadline to get all U.S. forces out of Iraq, Vice President Biden threw the U.S. weight behind Maliki remaining as Prime Minister, even after he’d narrowly lost the 2010 election to a non-sectarian party and its candidate Ayad Allawi. With the Americans gone, Maliki reverted to type, instituting a hype-sectarian Shiite rule, pushing Sunni politicians out of the arena, and reneging on his promises to keep Sunnis in the armed forces. After four years of this, Iraq’s 3 sects — Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds — were so alienated that Islamic State group fighters had no trouble rolling into Iraq and seizing a third of the country’s territory last summer.

    Now American forces are back, in small numbers, to try to rebuild Iraqi forces under a new prime minister and use air power to keep IS elements at bay. But Emma Sky is gone, and so is Dr. Basima. Both now teach at universities.

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    Remains of a collapsed temple are pictured at Bashantapur Durbar Square

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    GWEN IFILL: Thousands of Nepalese gathered today for prayer, ritual and ceremony, marking the end of a traditional Hindu mourning period held after the massive earthquake.

    The death toll has grown to more than 7,800 people. Another 15,000 have been injured. Engineers are continuing to inspect thousands of damaged houses around Kathmandu. The earthquake also wrought considerable destruction and damage to religious, cultural and heritage sites throughout the region.

    Jeffrey Brown reports on that, part of his ongoing work on Culture at Risk.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The cremation of bodies continued this week in Kathmandu, as officials warned the death toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake could hit 10,000. Meanwhile, aid workers have struggled to reach remote areas, hampered by customs delays, closed roads and difficult terrain.

    And villagers have grown frustrated by the pace and amount of relief getting to them.

    MAN (through interpreter): It is so little. What can one do with this? Some have 15 to 20 people in their families. How long will it last? It won’t last.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The humanitarian crisis, the loss of lives, the need for food, shelter, and medicine, has been devastating in this mountainous country that is one of the world’s poorest. At the same time, another kind of crisis has also unfolded.

    This region once stood at the intersection of trade routes connecting India and China, and became home to a rich heritage of art and architecture dating back many centuries. Today, many of those sites, such as Bhaktapur Square and Patan Durbar Square, both in the Kathmandu Valley, are badly damaged.

    CHRISTIAN MANHART, UNESCO Representative to Nepal: There are many of the temples which collapsed, and also many of the historical houses in which the families were living fell down. And in Bhaktapur, there are streets where we even cannot go at the moment, or this is very difficult to assess there.

    Christian Manhart is the director of the United Nations Office of Cultural Heritage in Kathmandu.

    CHRISTIAN MANHART: And then Patan Durbar Square, we also, I must say 50 percent of the temples have gone there. They are just rubble now. But, fortunately, the royal palace is still standing, except one tower, which is leaning and which we have to consolidate very quickly that it doesn’t fall down.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In the city, soldiers and volunteers worked to clear bricks and debris from a Hindu temple.

    WOMAN: We love our temple very much, so look at now. I want to care about this. And I want to help this temple very carefully and then other temples.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Since the earthquake, Manhart’s team has been struggling to assess the damage to the country’s many temples and historic sites. And there has been some good news.

    The Lumbini Temple, for example, said to be the birthplace of the Buddha, was left unharmed. Nepal is home to four designated World Heritage Sites, two natural and two cultural. One site alone, the Kathmandu Valley, contains seven world-renowned groups of monuments and buildings. And tourism is vital to this poor country’s economy.

    DEBRA DIAMOND, Curator, South and Southeast Asian Art, Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries: It’s the largest concentration of World Heritage Sites anywhere in the world, and absolutely unique in their style and in their mixture of Hindu and Buddhist and secular traditions.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Debra Diamond is curator of South and Southeast Asian art at the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, itself home to a Nepalese bodhisattva.

    DEBRA DIAMOND: Their bronze casters and woodcarvers were historically considered among the greatest artists of the region. And they not only worked in Nepal, but they were called to China. And they worked in Tibet. So, they were understood as really important.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s a fact not lost on locals. After early reports of looting, Manhart says citizens, police and the military have come together to protect the sites.

    These are not just relics from a bygone era, he and others point out, but living history that people interact with on a daily basis. That was on display this week in the capital, where even amid the destruction and loss of life, the Nepalese celebrated the Buddha’s birthday.

    CHRISTIAN MANHART: When I arrived in Nepal, I was really struck by the spirituality of the people, by this living culture they still have. They go to the temple every morning to give some offerings. Each temple has its own festivals. And the people are very strongly connected, and it’s part of their daily lives. And what is the danger of course, if the tangible heritage, so the temples, disappear, then there can also be intangible heritage will — will disappear.

    JEFFREY BROWN: There are reasons for some hope. The way the temples and buildings were constructed, for example, should make them easier to rebuild.

    DEBRA DIAMOND: Many of them are in this very distinctive Nepalese style that uses brick and wood. So we see these pagoda-like towers with many different roofs and struts that are made of carved wood. And when there’s an earthquake, those buildings tend to fall straight down. And the struts survive and the bricks survive, so there’s a lot that can be recycled.

    CHRISTIAN MANHART: And, also, we have very detailed documentation. We have good photographs of the sites. We have architectural drawings and plans. We have measurements, so all this helps for future restoration.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Manhart says that, with thousands of temples to restore, the work could take at least 10 years and perhaps decades, all part of a rebuilding effort throughout the country that by all accounts will require a huge international aid commitment.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jeffrey Brown in Washington.

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    An undated aerial handout photo shows the National Security Agency headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland.

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    GWEN IFILL: The debate between privacy and security returned to center stage today, after a federal appeals court ruled a National Security Agency program that allowed bulk collection of millions of U.S. phone records went too far. But where is the line?

    And, as a deadline approaches for renewing the underlying Patriot Act, what happens now?

    Joining me to discuss the value of such government surveillance are Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, a civil liberties advocacy group, and Stewart Baker, a former general counsel at the National Security Agency and former assistant secretary of homeland security.

    Welcome to you both.

    Kate Martin, was this the dropped shoe that privacy advocates were waiting on?

    KATE MARTIN, Center for National Security Studies: Yes. This is the first time that a federal appeals court has looked at what was a secret interpretation by the government that allowed it to collect massive amounts of records on Americans under a secret interpretation of the law.

    And the court said that that secret interpretation of the law wasn’t, in fact, authorized by the Congress and so held the program to be a violation of the law.

    GWEN IFILL: So what does this do? Does this stop the program in its tracks, Stewart Baker?

    STEWART BAKER, Former Homeland Security Department official: No, actually. It’s remarkably without consequence.

    It, at the end of the day, says Congress, in the view of this court, didn’t authorize exactly what the program is, and unless Congress says that it’s authorized, it’s not going to continue. And then they send it back to the judge, letting the judge in the district court determine whether to enjoin it.

    But really that just underlines what we already knew, which is that Congress has to act in the next three weeks, because, if it doesn’t, the program goes away automatically. If it does, it’s going to have to say, yes, we’re approving this program.

    GWEN IFILL: But does it matter whether the court decided today that this was illegal or unconstitutional, or is it neither?

    STEWART BAKER: It didn’t decide that it was unconstitutional. They said it wasn’t approved by Congress. It was a close call, in my view, whether it was approved by Congress. I think they’re wrong. But they said it wasn’t approved by Congress.

    Congress has a chance and really an obligation to rule on whether this case — this program will continue by the end of the month, and so they will. They will — they will have to say something. And that will put an end really to the discussion in this case.

    GWEN IFILL: Kate Martin?

    KATE MARTIN: So they didn’t rule on the constitutionality because of the matter of jurisprudence. You don’t get to that question if you decide the statute.

    But the opinion, which is 90-some-pages long, laid out the concerns about how the program threatens Americans’ privacy and the concerns about how these new technological tools that are available to the government might really require a re-understanding of what’s constitutional and not constitutional.

    GWEN IFILL: Did it address the argument in those 94 pages about whether this was tying the hands of the intelligence community?

    KATE MARTIN: No, it didn’t, but that — the intelligence community doesn’t make that argument anymore. Some politicians make that argument. Stewart might make that argument. I’m not sure.

    STEWART BAKER: I’m not a politician anymore.

    KATE MARTIN: No, I know. That’s why I was including you.

    Plus — but the director of the national intelligence, and the president, after extensive reviews by outsiders and insiders, which concluded that the program hadn’t resulted in stopping any terror attacks, decided that there was no intelligence value that they needed to continue the program, the essence of the program being that the NSA gets all of the telephone records of all telephone calls made or received.

    (CROSSTALK)

    GWEN IFILL: And the White House has been steadily backing away from the need for that.

    So you say, you both say that by the end of this month, when the Patriot Act expires, something has to happen. What has to happen for Congress? What kind of action can Congress take to change this?

    STEWART BAKER: Congress can reauthorize it, in which case the court’s opinion will be overtaken by events.

    They can modify the program, in which case the statute will be better tailored to what the program is or what new program is adopted. Or they can let it die and take the risk that both this program and a lot of other things that are done with this authority will not be available if we’re attacked by terrorists.

    GWEN IFILL: And what’s the problem — what’s the problem if that happens?

    STEWART BAKER: Well, there are a lot of authorities, a lot of programs that depend on the ability to ask service providers for data about their customers, targeted requests, as well as broader requests. All of them will go away if this section is not reauthorized.

    KATE MARTIN: Well, the most likely outcome, I think, in Congress or what I hope to be the likely outcome is that Congress adopts a package of reforms, which it’s been considering for the past year, known as USA Freedom Act.

    The — it has the support of the administration, and basically those reforms wouldn’t reinstitute the program that the court held illegal today. They provide a different way for the government to get some of the information.

    (CROSSTALK)

    KATE MARTIN: And they also — they also make reforms to other sections of the Patriot Act, that statute, that weren’t addressed by the court.

    There’s widespread bipartisan support for those reforms in both houses of Congress. The House Judiciary Committee passed it overwhelmingly last week, and the House is expected to adopt them next week.

    There has been, I think, a kind of peculiar effort to say, oh, no, we should continue the program as it is, when the intelligence community itself is not asking for that and says these reforms would be better.

    STEWART BAKER: So, I think Kate was right when she said only some of the data will be available, that the data will disappear because records won’t be kept. And when we need to try to find people quickly and to find out who they are conspiring with, if there is a terrorist conspiracy in the United States that is sponsored from abroad, we won’t be able to do that.

    (CROSSTALK)

    GWEN IFILL: Is there an alternative to bulk collection, however? Is there an alternative to doing it the way they have been doing it, that the court said wasn’t legal?

    STEWART BAKER: What the court said was simply the statute wasn’t written to authorize that.

    GWEN IFILL: Right. It’s up to Congress.

    (CROSSTALK)

    STEWART BAKER: So it would be easy for Congress to say, we’re going to authorize it with certain kinds of constraints or protections, any number. They can take all of the constraints that are already part of the court orders.

    GWEN IFILL: But Kate says there’s bipartisan interest in this other thing.

    STEWART BAKER: Well, and there’s bipartisan doubts about this program, especially in the Senate, about USA Freedom.

    (CROSSTALK)

    STEWART BAKER: And so there is genuine debate in the Senate in particular. In the House, the far left and the far right have agreed to dislike this program, and they have the majority at this point.

    So I think the House will pass the USA Freedom bill. I do not think that the Senate will do that.

    (CROSSTALK)

    GWEN IFILL: Well, we’re almost out of time. Do you have a very quick comment?

    KATE MARTIN: I just want to say, on the rule of law question, this interpretation was a secret interpretation adopted by the Bush administration of the law, and then the Obama — and then the Obama administration, when pushed, refused to make that interpretation public.

    (CROSSTALK)

    GWEN IFILL: OK. We’re going to have to leave it there.

    Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies and Stewart Baker, former assistant secretary of the Department — Department of Homeland Security.

    STEWART BAKER: That’s right.

    GWEN IFILL: That’s it. I got it all out.

    STEWART BAKER: Thank you.

    GWEN IFILL: Thank you both very much.

    KATE MARTIN: Thank you.

    STEWART BAKER: It’s a pleasure.

    KATE MARTIN: Thank you.

    The post The end of NSA’s bulk data collection? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Kerry meets Salman in Riyadh

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    GWEN IFILL: Saudi Arabia and the United States called today for a five-day cease-fire in the Yemen conflict. Secretary of State John Kerry said it would allow aid to reach millions of civilians. Kerry appeared with the Saudi foreign minister in Riyadh. The Saudis agreed to stop bombing, provided that Shiite Houthi rebels, and their Iranian supporters, won’t try to exploit the lull.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: We strongly urge the Houthis and those who back them, whom we suggest use all of their influence not to miss this major opportunity to address the needs of the Yemeni people and find a peaceful way forward in Yemen.

    GWEN IFILL: The humanitarian situation in Yemen has worsened sharply since the Saudi bombing campaign began in March. The U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator in Yemen says about 1,400 people have been killed, and 6,000 wounded. More than 300,000 others have fled their homes in a bid to escape the fighting.

    Turkey and Saudi Arabia have formed a working alliance to help rebels in Syria. The Associated Press reports they are aiding factions opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with logistical support and funding. The U.S. opposes helping some of the groups because they’re Islamist radicals.

    Meanwhile, the Pentagon confirms that U.S. military advisers have begun training Syrians to battle Islamic State forces; 90 candidates are taking instruction in Jordan. The effort was delayed for months, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter acknowledged it will still be some time before the fighters see combat.

    ASHTON CARTER, Defense Secretary: These trainees are recruited, they’re vetted, and only then are they put into training. So they have been in the program for quite a while. And then the training takes some time, then they would be inserted into operations.

    GWEN IFILL: Other training sites are in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. More than 3,700 Syrians have volunteered.

    It’s election night in Britain, and exit polls say there’s a surprise outcome. The ruling Conservatives have far exceeded expectations, easily winning the most seats. They will still need to form a coalition with a smaller party. Party leaders and millions of other voters cast ballots today, after a campaign that focused on economic troubles, the National Health Service and the issue of migrants.

    Iran has released the cargo ship it seized last week in the Persian Gulf. The Maersk Tigris will now continue on to the United Arab Emirates. Iran had said the company that chartered the ship owed money to an Iranian firm. It’s unclear whether any money was paid to win the vessel’s release.

    Back in this country, people across Tornado Alley kept a weather eye out for new storms today. More than 50 twisters struck yesterday in Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas. Most plowed up farmland, but in the Oklahoma City area, two tornadoes blasted businesses and tore roofs off homes. No one was killed, but about a dozen people were hurt at a trailer park.

    KRISTA HARRINGTON: We were watching it form above us. And I had no clue anything was going on over here, I mean, no clue at all. But I needed to come home and check what was going on. And there’s nothing left.

    GWEN IFILL: The storm system also dumped as much as eight inches of rain around Oklahoma City, triggering flash floods. One woman drowned when her underground storm shelter flooded.

    Wall Street had a relatively quiet day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 80 points to close above 17,900. The Nasdaq rose 26 points, and the S&P 500 added nearly 8.

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    Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha will stay at Number 10 Downing Street in London after the Conservatives won a majority of seats in the House of Commons on May 7. Photo by Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

    Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha will stay at Number 10 Downing Street in London after the Conservatives won a majority of seats in the House of Commons on May 7. Photo by Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

    Although polls leading up to Britain’s national election showed the Conservative and Labour candidates locked in a dead heat, Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative Party came out the clear winners after Thursday’s vote.

    With 639 constituencies counted in the 650-seat House of Commons on Friday, the Conservatives had 324 seats to the Labour Party’s 229, reported the Associated Press. The Scottish National Party won almost all 59 seats in Scotland.

    The Liberal Democrat party, which had been the Conservatives’ partner in the government coalition, lost most of its seats and leader Nick Clegg resigned on Friday.

    The UK Independence Party won only one seat, and its leader Nigel Farage resigned as well.

    “I want my party, and I hope a government that I would like to lead, to reclaim a mantle that we should never have lost – the mantle of one nation, one United Kingdom,” said Cameron early Friday.

    Cameron has pledged to hold a referendum in 2017 on whether the UK should leave the European Union. He plans to negotiate with the EU on several areas including immigration and having greater controls over who from the EU can travel to and work in the UK, and reducing regulations imposed by the EU on UK trade and business.

    In addition, Cameron will have to deal with the continuing aftermath of the economic crisis and the ever-increasing cost of the state-funded National Health Service. He also might need to contend with renewed calls for Scottish independence after the nationalists’ surge.

    The post David Cameron comes out on top in Britain’s election appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A new anti-littering campaign in Hong Kong uses DNA collected from trash to create digital portraits of perpetrators.

    In the Middle Ages, wrongdoers were placed in stocks and subjected to public humiliation and scorn. Technology may have evolved since then, but a good old-fashioned public shaming remains the most powerful deterrent for bad behavior. At least that’s what Hong Kong Cleanup, The Nature Conservancy and Ecozine are hoping.

    These groups have partnered with the advertising and public relations firm Ogilvy to launch. “The Face of Litter” uses DNA samples gleaned off discarded debris, combined with demographic data based on the type of detritus and where it was found, to create digital portraits of perpetrators. The portraits will be displayed around the city and online to hold the litterbugs publicly accountable.

    “We can now put a face to this anonymous crime and get people to think twice about littering,” Reed Collins, chief creative officer of Ogilvy & Mather Group Hong Kong said of the campaign.

    “Sadly, we suffer from a serious ‘pick up after me’ mentality, and this simply must change,” said Hong Kong Cleanup co-founder and CEO Lisa Christensen.

    Earlier this year, a global study found that China and Indonesia were the top contributors of trash washed out to sea. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government released a report last month that found 80 percent of ocean debris in Hong Kong is generated by land-based activities.

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    Texas, Aug. 9, 2010. Trying on a pair of cowboy boots at the University of Texas in Austin. Photo by Pete Souza/White House

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

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

    Dozens of World War II military planes flew over the National Mall in Washington today to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the conflict in Europe. Thousands of people, including World War II veterans, gathered to watch the vintage aircraft fly in formation through highly restricted airspace.

    And in another milestone, President Obama arrived in South Dakota today, marking the 50th state he has visited since entering office. A series of images by White House photographer Pete Souza documents the president’s moments across the country. They include him playing pool in Colorado, viewing the remains of a school in Oklahoma after a 2013 tornado, getting soaked in a rainstorm while giving a speech in Virginia, greeting high school graduates in Tennessee, and trying on a pair of cowboy boots in Texas.

    And you can see all of our NewsHour Shares on our Web site.

    
    

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    bookcoverbeatty

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to the latest edition of the NewsHour Bookshelf.

    Paul Beatty’s new novel, “The Sellout,” takes an unflinching, at times comic look at race in America.

    Jeffrey Brown recently sat down with Beatty at Busboys and Poets, a Washington area bookstore.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Paul Beatty, welcome.

    PAUL BEATTY, Author, “The Sellout”: Thanks for having me.

    JEFFREY BROWN: This is a thorough skewering through humor of racial politics today. And no one is spared. What set you off? What are you responding to?

    (LAUGHTER)

    PAUL BEATTY: I’m just kind of responding to myself, I guess. It’s not like there is some impetus that’s like, oh, I have got to write about that.

    It’s just stuff that I have been thinking about for a long time. And I just have been thinking about segregation for some reason, no — I think I had read something about somebody saying, oh, black people were better off under segregation. And I just went, oh, it would be so fun to try to see how segregation would work now, in a weird kind of guise.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So your character, nameless character, young black man, he tries to resegregate his city, in a sense.

    PAUL BEATTY: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In order to save it, right?

    PAUL BEATTY: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Strangely enough.

    PAUL BEATTY: He doesn’t know that he’s doing that, and that the city is already segregated.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It is de facto — it is segregated.

    PAUL BEATTY: In many different ways.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes, yes, as is much of our life today still.

    PAUL BEATTY: Exactly.

    It’s interesting in the book how acknowledging that you’re being segregated changes your behavior a little bit.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But it allows you to look at every black piety, at every liberal piety. It’s easy in a way to kind of skewer out-and-out racism.

    PAUL BEATTY: Yes. Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But you’re doing — you are getting everybody.

    PAUL BEATTY: Yes.

    I think it’s — I’m not very pious about anything, fortunately, but I’m skewering myself first. I’m skewering things that I care about and things that are important to me and then just my own foibles. For me, it’s just this stuff that I’m thinking about, like these absurdities in the way we talk about race, class, culture, education, politics.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What absurdities? What do we get wrong?

    PAUL BEATTY: We get it all wrong. There’s no right.

    And I think that is part of it, is, like, we think that there is this weird utopian endgame to life, not just racial politics. And for me, it’s a weird way to try to live life. And it’s not to say that we shouldn’t aspire to those things. So a thing I have been hearing about lately is some people always say, oh, it’s hard to talk about race. We can’t have the discussion.

    I’m, like, well, what does that really mean? I don’t understand what that discussion is and where this metaphorical table — you know, we have got to come to the table. I don’t know where these tables are.

    (LAUGHTER)

    PAUL BEATTY: So, yes, I get to set my own table a little bit.

    JEFFREY BROWN: At the same time, though, of course, these are very serious issues.

    In your book, the narrator’s father is shot by police in an area around Los Angeles, and that’s very real stuff.

    PAUL BEATTY: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But your approach is completely through humor.

    PAUL BEATTY: Yes, through humor and through my own experience.

    So, like, the shooting is something that’s sort of personal to me. It wasn’t like, oh, people are getting shot, let me write about that. I’m really starting from myself, and I’m not starting from current events or what it is in the news or some “TIME” magazine sidebar about this stuff.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Are we too squeamish? I was thinking to myself, one of the problems I have even in quoting from the book is your very liberal use of the N-word.

    PAUL BEATTY: Yes. Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Right? We can’t sit here and read it. We can’t quote from it too much.

    Are we too squeamish? Are we just not talking honestly?

    PAUL BEATTY: I think it’s like — like, when I used to read poetry, people would bring me into like some high school to read. And I would say the F-word or something. And everybody acts so surprised, like, oh, I have never heard this word before.

    But they’re saying it five minutes later. So I think there’s a weird — there’s this line between propriety and how we really speak and how we really think. And I’m just trying to have fun with that stuff. And you’re talking about the word (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I can’t say the N-word for it. I just even let myself say it because it’s just so ridiculous.

    There is a part of the book where characters talking about Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn.”  And that word is all throughout there. And this effort to erase that, and so it’s weird. I’m not sure why we’re trying to erase these things, why we try to use these euphemisms all the time. Like, what purpose is that serving?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Is this kind of big satire hard to pull off?

    PAUL BEATTY: Yes, I don’t try to be satirical. I just try to get what’s in my head on the page.

    And that part is hard for me to do. It takes a long, long time to make it poetic, somewhat essayistic. And just I have a little bit of an agenda. That part is hard to pull off. And the book is about a big scope. I think everybody focuses on race, but it’s about a ton of things, and it’s because I just see these things as all interrelated and all interwoven in a weird way.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And where does your sense, where does your love of writing come from or your need to write?

    PAUL BEATTY: I couldn’t tell you, because I can’t say that I love writing, but I do love the satisfaction that it gives me. It’s just — it’s really basic.

    I’m glad I found — I found that late in life, and I’m glad I found it at all.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the new novel is “The Sellout.”

    Paul Beatty, thanks so much.

    PAUL BEATTY: Thanks for having me, Jeff. Thank you, man.

    The post Novelist Paul Beatty pokes fun at how we talk about race in America appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    brooksmarcus

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Brooks and Marcus. That’s New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus. Mark Shields is away.

    So, welcome to both of you.

    Lead story tonight, the British elections, big win for the Conservatives, for David Cameron.

    David, how do we think — how do you think about this, implications for the U.S.?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, we have had a long debate over how to react to the financial crisis.

    And there were two countries that did what is known as austerity. And it wasn’t like they were cutting budgets to the European welfare states. But they didn’t do the big stimulus packages, and they did do some fiscal discipline. And those were Germany and the U.K.

    And so we have had a debate, which policy was the right policy, austerity or bigger spending, bigger stimulus? And I just note that the two countries in Europe with the strongest economies are U.K. and Germany, the two austerity countries.

    And two political leaders that are the strongest right now in Europe are Angela Merkel and David Cameron. And so one of the things the Cameron victory is about — it’s about a lot of things, about what’s happened in Scotland. It’s about a lot of things.

    But within England, voters had a chance to reject that policy, and the Conservative Party has a bigger majority than it had before. And so it has to be some sort of vindication for the basic fiscal package that David Cameron and his chancellor, George Osborne, championed.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that, Ruth? The polls — we have pointed out the polls weren’t right. At least, the public polls were a little bit misleading.

    RUTH MARCUS:  I don’t think the internal polls were any clearer, from the folks that I have talked to.

    I think everybody was shocked by the outcome. I think I’m a little bit reluctant to draw at least U.S. parallels to the implications of the British election, for the reason that you alluded to, David. Well, first of all, it’s not at all clear to me that this was a referendum on austerity. A lot of the austerity has passed.

    But second of all and more important, austerity in the United Kingdom is a lot different than what we would think about when we think about austerity here. They ran a budget deficit of 5.7 percent last year, 4.5 percent this year. Those are big, big deficits in U.S. terms.

    Cameron has to pledge and pledged his absolute devotion to the national health system. So the sort of ability to translate that austerity back home and make it work back here seems to me to be a little bit open to question.

    DAVID BROOKS: I would say he did — all that is true, obviously.

    RUTH MARCUS:  Obviously.

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, it came out of your mouth, so it had to be true.

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAVID BROOKS: But he did do some significant spending cuts, against a lot of opposition.

    And, second, I do think British and American politics rhyme. They go in cycles. They go in Thatcher-Reagan cycles, Blair-Clinton cycles. Now they’re diverging a little. The British Conservative Party looks the way the Republican Party would look if it was a coastal party, if it was the sort of party that could do well in the Northeast, and in California and Oregon.

    And I would say, if American conservatives want to know how to compete in blue America, look at what David Cameron is doing. It’s pretty much free market, but it’s not for slashing government. It’s socially pretty moderate, at best. It has got a strong environmental wing.

    And so I would say for Republicans, if you ever want to compete along America’s coastline in the Upper Midwest or in urban and affluent America, what David Cameron is doing, which is more communitarian, it’s a very good model and it’s worked for him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think the GOP could take some lessons from across the pond?

    RUTH MARCUS: I think they could, but I think they won’t because of our internal political geography that won’t — we’re very segregated by congressional districts and gerrymandered and residential segregation.

    And so there is not a lot of the incentive for that kind of moderation in a lot of places, even if it would be smart politically, say, in presidential campaigns.

    To me, I just want to make the very quick point that I think that the bigger implications of the U.K. election are really parochial, U.K. and  Europe, implications, first of all, this astonishing result of the Scottish National Party. We thought that issue was settled and now it seems to be bubbling up again. And it’s related to the referendum that is coming that David Cameron promised on E.U. membership.

    So, though he had a fantastic night, an unexpectedly fantastic night, he woke up to really two big headaches he is going to be having to deal with in the next few years.

    DAVID BROOKS: I would just say quickly, I don’t think that’s even only parochial.

    The Scottish result and the E.U. referendum are both about disillusionment with big institutions and big national and paranational institutions. And that’s the kind of disillusionment we see here. That’s why a lot of power is flowing back to states and cities. And so there is just disillusionment around the world with the big institutions. And there is sort of a process of federalization going on.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of elections, we have one of our own coming up, I think, rumor has it, next year.

    We had three candidates, almost a candidate a day, jump in this week, David. Let’s talk about these three and how you size them up. Start with Ben Carson, the pediatric neurosurgeon.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, I think they are all going to have their moment. They have all some attractive feature.

    Ben Carson is a neurosurgeon, brilliant guy, very charismatic, has a great story to tell. I think they’re all in the wrong year. I think this is a year, if you look at polling, and if you even look at the results that Hillary Clinton has just had in her polling, where she survived these scandals wonderfully, in some ways even stronger than before, people want experienced political leadership.

    I think the reaction to having a very young president has been, we want somebody who’s been there before. And so these candidates, if they were running four years ago in the Republican Party, four years ago, or eight years ago, I think they would have a much bigger upside, as indeed Mike Huckabee did years ago.

    But I think their upside is very limited because none of them have significant political experience or governing experience. Huckabee has some, but it’s dated. And Fiorina and Ben Carson have none. And so I just don’t think there’s going to be a big market for any of them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see Carson and the group?

    RUTH MARCUS:  Well, I agree. Obviously, what David said is right, because we are just in an agreement night.

    (LAUGHTER)

    RUTH MARCUS: I think that I would differentiate between Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson on the one hand and Mike Huckabee on the other, because the first two, I think, just to be very blunt, are not credible — this is not their year to be candidates, but I’m not sure they would be selling, credible candidates in any year.

    Carly Fiorina had a failed business career and then has failed at her previous bid for political office, was ousted.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Former chair, CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

    RUTH MARCUS:  Ben Carson, yes, he is a brain surgeon, but it turns out you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to be president, but it helps to actually have some political experience. Neither of them has it.

    I don’t think any of them would get to be a nominee in the most anti-experienced politician year. Mike Huckabee is a candidate of a different sort. He really does have governing experience.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Former governor of Arkansas.

    RUTH MARCUS: Former governor of Arkansas.

    I think, for him, his moment passed. I think he was a much more attractive candidate in 2008 than he will be this time around. He’s a little bit more brittle, more angry. He’s…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Hmm.

    RUTH MARCUS:  I think his biggest selling point is both his experience, the fact that he has proven — he won Iowa in 2008. He has an attraction.

    I think there is a diminished interested in the electorate this year in social conservatism. That has passed. But I think one another one of his big selling points is his anti-dynastic argument that he can make. He really did pull himself up from his bootstraps, talks about showering with lava soap, didn’t realize he could take a shower with soap that didn’t hurt until he was older. Now he’s made a lot of money.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Some birthplace as Bill Clinton, but a very different…

    RUTH MARCUS:  Man from Hope.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: … up in a different place. You don’t see Huckabee in a different place than the others?

    DAVID BROOKS: I think it was an enormously attractive campaign the last time in Iowa. He was lighthearted, warm. He had a lot of very — issues I remember seeing that would really move people. And they were not the normal things a senator would say.

    He would talk about childhood obesity quite a lot, and you would see crowds nodding along.

    RUTH MARCUS:  Preventive care.

    DAVID BROOKS: Preventive care, yes.

    And he does have the working-class story to tell. But if you want a working-class story, well, you have got Scott Walker or you have got Marco Rubio. You have just got more viable options. If you want an evangelical story, which Huckabee does very well, you have got Walker, too.

    And so it seems to me there’s more plausible candidates with all the things that Huckabee offers.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, we weren’t going to talk about Hillary Clinton, but it was pretty clear to me that when she talked about immigration this week, Ruth, she was trying to send a signal that her position is much more acceptable to the Latino, Hispanic community than that of the Republicans.

    RUTH MARCUS: Indeed, she was. And it was a very, very clever move that she did, because what she said was, I am the only candidate in this race who is for a path to legal citizenship. If you’re for something else, you are for second-class status for all of the Hispanics, Latinos out there.

    So, she’s put the candidates who are in the better place on immigration in the Republican Party, the Marco Rubios, the Jeb Bushes, who are already going to get grief from the right about being for any form of legalization or path to legal status, putting them in a terrible place, because it’s going to get them in trouble on the right, but not be adequate for the left and Latino voters. Very smart move on her part.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re sort of nodding.

    DAVID BROOKS: I agree.

    No, the Jeb Bush and the Marco Rubio, the former reformers, are now living in sort of shades of gray, making distinctions that nobody else pays attention to. And so they’re sort of lost. The more anti are a little clearer, but not so much. The Republicans are, like, dodging.

    And so her position is very clear. I wonder empirically whether she will pay a price. Is there any Democratic constituency or are there any moderate constituency who worry about the immigration problem, are too many immigrants, or have we lost control of the borders?

    But, so far, if you look at the national polling, it is a popular position, it is a strong position. It gives her a little daylight from Barack Obama. It puts her on the offensive. It was definitely a good move for her.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, one last thing I want to ask you about, the agreement that seems to have been reached between the administration, Ruth and David, and at least the Senate over the Iran nuclear deal.

    They come to kind of an agreement over what Congress’ role is going to be. And this is after, David, Republicans were just raising a storm about not — saying the president is not going to do this on his own. Congress is going to have a say.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    I actually think it’s a win for the president. I think the Republicans gave in a lot. They get a little say over the timing of what goes when and how much — long a review process is, but basically it’s very hard for the — if the president — if a deal is made, it’s going to be hard for Congress to beat it.

    They would have to get veto-proof majorities. And that’s not going to happen. And so I think the Republicans gave a lot. They will get to have a voice, but they gave away basically the outcome.

    RUTH MARCUS: I think it is a win for the president, because he’s got the veto pen, for the reasons that David said.

    But I also think it’s a win for Congress as an institution. It’s really important, when we’re having serious agreements like this, to have the legislative branch have an opportunity and weigh in and have a responsibility to weigh in.

    And really kudos to Bob Corker, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Tim Kaine, the senator from — Democratic senator from Virginia, who really pushed this. And then debits to Congress for not being as careful about its institutional role when it comes to a new authorization for the use of military force, which we need in Syria and Iraq.

    They have totally caved on that, but I think it’s a good for Congress as an institution to have this Iran review.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I keep asking this question, less than 30 seconds, David, is this a model? Are we going to see Congress and the president working together, Republicans and the president?

    DAVID BROOKS: We will see. We get a test of that with the Patriot Act reauthorization. That’s the next thing up. We will see if they can compromise on that. I’m a little dubious.

    RUTH MARCUS: Unusual alignment of interests, not easily repeated.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Oh. I’m going to write that down.

    Ruth Marcus…

    RUTH MARCUS: Don’t write it down. It’s probably wrong.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: OK.

    Ruth Marcus, David Brooks, thank you.

    RUTH MARCUS: Thank you.

     

    The post Brooks and Marcus on Cameron’s victory, Senate vote to review Iran deal appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    trailerhomes2

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Time for a look at some interesting reporting that’s not trending, as we say.

    In this case, it’s a housing story that rarely gets close attention, but is the subject of new battles and growing interest.

    Gwen has the story.

    GWEN IFILL: Not trending this month, a small part of the housing market, where 20 million people live, trailer parks. Mobile home residents often stay there for decades and make up a significant percentage of housing in some regions of the Southeastern United States.

    But in some parts of the country, the land the homes are on is becoming more valuable, leading to evictions with as little as five days’ notice.

    That’s part of the focus of a series that the Web site OZY has been reporting.

    Here’s an excerpt from one of their video reports about families on the brink in Louisiana and the woman who is trying to help.

    KATHIE CLEMENT: This is fourth of the older communities that’s closed in the last two years.

    NARRATOR: Here in the Pine Haven trailer park, 35 families are in crisis. Kathie’s help is in high demand.

    KATHIE CLEMENT: It’s heartbreaking to see the parks close, because these older houses have no place to go.

    If the dirt is there, I’m going to try to get trucks in there now.

    What about the gray one?

    NARRATOR: The owner of the park sold the land, and now a community is being dismantled in a hurry.

    KATHIE CLEMENT: Said they collected the rent up to the 15th of January?

    WOMAN: Next thing we know, 15 days to get out.

    GWEN IFILL: Carlos Watson is the founder and editor of OZY, and he joins me now.

    Carlos, I want to start by asking you, why did you, West Coast, Silicon Valley Web site, decide to go inside the worlds of mobile homes?

    CARLOS WATSON, CEO, Ozy: You know, we’re always interested in what’s not trending.

    And it’s such an important part of the economy, one out of 15 Americans living in these mobile homes. And they’re changing a lot, Gwen. And they’re not only in the Southeastern United States, where you pointed out the situation near Lake Charles, Louisiana.

    But, even in Silicon Valley, even in some of the most prosperous parts of the countries, where Google and Facebook and LinkedIn live, people are facing these same issues, threats of eviction, lacking the ability to prevent against high raises and prices. It’s a difficult situation for a number of people.

    GWEN IFILL: Now, here’s what I didn’t know before I watched your series. One of them was how many people actually call — for generations, call these mobile homes, trailer parks, whatever you call them, home, and why.

    CARLOS WATSON: Very much so.

    So, cheaper is the short answer, often, than living elsewhere. People buy these for anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000, cheaper than buying a home in many other places, a chance to own some of the American dream. Sometimes, these get passed on generation to generation. You have many families living in one place.

    And why do they not move elsewhere?  Well, as you and I know, there is both a rental crisis in much of the United States, where it’s tough to rent elsewhere. And buying, post the housing crisis, has gotten tougher because people want you to put more down.

    GWEN IFILL: Now, one thing I don’t think most people realize is that, even if you own your trailer home, you may not own the land under it.

    CARLOS WATSON: Quite a contradiction.

    Even the former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote about that contradiction, that mobile homes aren’t very mobile in many cases, because you don’t own the land underneath. So you’re scared to move. And often you can’t move unless you’re evicted. And when you are evicted, sometimes after having been there for several decades, you don’t get much notice.

    Now, some states require notice as much as 60 days, but, as you saw, in Louisiana, the notice period is only five days. And imagine if someone told you or me that you have got five days to move. Very difficult for a number of people. And in places like Louisiana, where they’re having some economic booms, in that case fracking, right, for natural gas, it’s really starting to happen quickly.

    You heard the woman in the story say this is the fourth such eviction that has happened in the last year.

    GWEN IFILL: And we’re talking about $5,000 to move that, if you just — even if you found another place to go, $5,000, which is not small money, to move it.

    CARLOS WATSON: Right. And then some people are saying, I just can’t afford it, and so leaving the homes there to be bulldozed and finding themselves moving to Section 8 housing or in other places.

    But one of the interesting things about this, Gwen, is while that part of the story in some ways is both a struggle story and in some ways may feel familiar to people, there are a couple other elements as we started looking at these trailer parks all around the country that surprised people.

    First of all, who is there?  So, not just low-income families and seniors. You’re seeing more immigrants, from Vietnamese-Americans to Mexican-Americans throughout the countries. Also beginning to see millennials. So, they’re saying, rather than move back home with mom and dad, let me try and get a piece of the pie of my own.

    GWEN IFILL: You have a photograph in the slide show of Google bikes. There are — Google employees can ride to work on their bikes — who lived in a trailer home. And that’s the way he gets to work because it’s cheaper than living in mom’s basement.

    CARLOS WATSON: He gets to work at one the 10 most valuable corporations in the world that way.

    And so, as I was saying, not exactly who you would expect to be there. Another interesting turn in this story, some hipsters — because hipsters are always creative about a lot of things — they now are taking over old school buses. They’re buying old — you remember the old yellow buses?

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    CARLOS WATSON: They’re buying the old yellow buses and turning those into their own mobile homes, and in many cases parking alongside classic mobile homes and even what people call tiny homes. And so you have got kind of a mixed housing stock in some of these markets.

    GWEN IFILL: So, it’s not trending, but it’s a trend.

    CARLOS WATSON: Well said.

    And it’s a trend that is worth watching. I was with the secretary of housing and urban development earlier today, who faced some of these issues in San Antonio. And he said the reality is, the law has not caught up yet with the reality that 20 million people are living there, that they don’t own the land underneath it.

    And so maybe there will be some change. If there is not some change, you could get more hipsters, more millennials moving in. You could get, frankly, a lot of older people, low-income folks, in some cases being pushed out.

    GWEN IFILL: Which won’t be the first time that has happened in the housing stock in the United States.

    CARLOS WATSON: Gentrification in mobile parks. Who knew.

    GWEN IFILL: Exactly.

    Carlos Watson of OZY, thank you very much.

    CARLOS WATSON: Always good to be with you.

     

    The post Not Trending: Why trailer park residents face harsh evictions appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    THINKING MACHINES monitor

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You may not realize it, but artificial intelligence is all around us. We rely on smart machines to scan our checks at ATMs, to navigate us on road trips and much more.

    Still, humans have quite an edge. Just today, four of the world’s best Texas Hold ‘Em poker players won an epic two-week tournament against, yes, an advanced computer program. The field of artificial intelligence is pushing new boundaries.

    Hari Sreenivasan has the first in a series of stories about it and the concerns over where it may lead. It’s the latest report in our ongoing Breakthroughs series on invention and innovation.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Artificial intelligence has long captured our imaginations.

    ACTOR: Open the pod bay doors, Hal.

    ACTOR: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I cannot do that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: With robots like Hal in “2001: A Space Odyssey” and now Ava from the recently released “Ex Machina.”

    ACTRESS: Hello. I have never met anyone new before.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And “Chappie.”

    ACTRESS: A thinking robot could be the end of mankind.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The plots thicken when the intelligent machines question the authority of their makers, and begin acting on their own accord.

    ACTRESS: Do you think I might be switched off?

    ACTOR: It’s not up to me.

    ACTRESS: Why is it up to anyone?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Make no mistake, these are Hollywood fantasies. But they do tap into real-life concerns about artificial intelligence, or A.I.

    Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla Motors & SpaceX, is not exactly a Luddite bent on stopping the advance of technology. But he says A.I. poses a potential threat more dangerous than nuclear weapons.

    ELON MUSK, CEO, Tesla Motors & SpaceX: I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I were to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Musk recently donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institute, which is focused on keeping A.I. research beneficial to humanity. Add his voice to a list of bright minds like physicist Stephen Hawking, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and several leaders in the field of artificial intelligence, among them, Stuart Russell, who heads the A.I. Lab at the University of California, Berkeley.

    What concerns you about how artificial intelligence is already being used, or will be used shortly?

    STUART RUSSELL, University of California, Berkeley: In the near term, the biggest problem is the development of autonomous weapons. Everyone knows about drones. Drones are remotely piloted. They’re not robots in a real sense. There’s a person looking through the camera that’s on the aircraft, and deciding when to fire.

    An autonomous weapon would do all of that itself. It chooses where to go, it decides what the target is, and it decides when to fire.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: He’s concerned about weapons like the British Taranis. It’s featured in this promotional video, by BAE Systems, a former NewsHour underwriter.

    The Taranis is currently operated remotely by humans, but this drone is outfitted with artificial intelligence, and will be capable of operating fully autonomously. Russell testified to the United Nations, which is considering a ban on such weapons that can target and kill humans without requiring a person to pull the trigger.

    STUART RUSSELL: I think there’s a fundamental moral issue about whether it’s right for a machine to decide to kill a person. It’s bad enough that people are deciding to kill people, but at least they have perhaps some moral argument that they’re doing it to ultimately defend their families or prevent some greater evil.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: While the defense industry is one use case of artificial intelligence, how close are we to building robots like the ones in the movies that are truly autonomous?

    Down the hall from Russell, at U.C. Berkeley’s A.I. lab, Pieter Abbeel and his students are training their PR2 robot to think for itself.

    PIETER ABBEEL, University of California, Berkeley: One of the main things we have been looking at is, how can we get a robot to think about situations it’s never seen before?

    So, an example of that is, let’s say a robot is supposed to fold laundry or maybe tie a knot in a rope. Whenever you’re faced with even the same laundry article or the same rope, it’ll be in a different shape, and so you can’t just execute blindly the same set of motions and expect success.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Abbeel’s team is painstakingly training the PR2 to compete in an Amazon warehouse picking challenge in late May.

    So, right now, you’re just teaching it to grab this stack of soap; that’s it?

    PIETER ABBEEL: Yes. We just started on this. And so right now, the robot is essentially learning how to grab soap bars out of the shelf. But really what we’re after is equipping the robot with the capability such that, if you come up with a whole new list of, let’s say, 1,000 new items, that we can very quickly equip it with the skill to pick any one of those 1,000 items.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: On the day we visited, the PR2 was hobbled by a broken arm, and there were several times the robot failed at the task.

    Oh, no dice.

    PIETER ABBEEL: Missed it this time.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Missed it.

    A tiny reminder that training a robot to think is no small task.

    So you think superintelligence is still pretty far off and we don’t need to worry about it today?

    PIETER ABBEEL: I would say it’s still pretty far off, yes.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But while training this robot may be tough today, not everyone thinks superintelligence is that far out of our reach.

    Ray Kurzweil is director of engineering at Google. He spoke to us in his capacity as an independent inventor of devices like the flatbed scanner. Among his many awards sits a technical Grammy for inventing the first computer-based instrument that could realistically play like a piano.

    Kurzweil says machines are on track to be on par with human intelligence in less than 15 years.

    RAY KURZWEIL, Inventor & Futurist: By 2029, they will actually read at human levels and understand language and be able to communicate at human levels, but then do so at a vast scale.

    The primary implication is that we’re going to combine our intelligence with computers. We’re going to make ourselves smarter. By the 2030s, they will literally go inside our bodies and inside our brains.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: He calculates that, with exponential growth in computing and biotechnology, we will reach what he calls singularity within 25 years. That’s when machine intelligence exceeds human intellectual capacity.

    RAY KURZWEIL: These technologies expand exponentially. They double in power roughly every year, so look at The Genome Project. It was a 15-year project. Halfway through the project, 7.5 years into it, 1 percent had been completed, so some people looked at it and said, well, 1 percent, we have just barely started. I looked at it and said, 1 percent, well, we’re halfway through, because 1 percent’s only seven doublings from 100 percent, and it doubled every year. Seven years later, it was finished.

    So, from one perspective, we’re in the early stage in artificial intelligence, but exponentials start out slowly, and then they take off.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: One such technology is the self-driving car. In the 1990s, Kurzweil predicted it would happen, despite a chorus of experts who declared it impossible. Today, self-driving cars have been test-driven, without incident, for hundreds of thousands of miles, but are not quite ready for consumers.

    FEI-FEI LI, Stanford University: Yes, we have prototype cars that can drive by themselves. But without smart vision, they cannot really tell the difference between a crumpled paper bag, which can be run over, and a rock that size, which should be avoided.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Fei-Fei Li explains in a recent TED Talk.

    FEI-FEI LI: Our smartest machines are still blind.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Li is director of Stanford University’s artificial intelligence lab.

    So, how hard is it to get a computer to see something and understand what it is?

    FEI-FEI LI: So, it’s actually really, really hard. So, think about it. A camera takes pictures. Right? We have millions of pixels, but these are just numbers. But they don’t really have meaning in themselves.

    So, the task for artificial intelligence and computer vision algorithm is to take these numbers and convert them into meaningful objects.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: How to infer meaning is not easy to teach a machine, even for this highly advanced dog robot. Humans have had thousands of years of evolution. Computers, Li cautions, are a ways off.

    FEI FEI LI: We are very, very far from an intelligent system, not only the sensory intelligence, but cognition, reasoning, emotion, compassion, empathy. That whole full spectrum, we’re nowhere near that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Robots like this one coming out of Stanford’s A.I. lab may be on proverbial training wheels today, but are part of the steady march toward superintelligent machines.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Hari Sreenivasan in Palo Alto, California.

    The post How smart is today’s artificial intelligence? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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