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

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    Iraqi security forces defend their headquarters against attacks by Islamic State extremists in the eastern part of Ramadi

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    GWEN IFILL: Joining me now to talk about the battle against the Islamic State is retired Colonel Derek Harvey. He’s a former special adviser to the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and now director for the Global Initiative on Civil Society and Conflict at the University of South Florida. And Vali Nasr, a former State Department senior adviser, he’s now dean at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

    Vali Nasr, how significant is the fall of Ramadi?

    VALI NASR, Former State Department official: I think symbolically, it’s very significant.

    After all, Ramadi is an important city in Iraq. It’s the capital of Anbar. And it challenges the U.S. narrative that ISIS is being downgraded, it’s being dismantled. And I think, psychologically, it boosts their position of the region, it helps their recruitment and it suggests that they are far from on their back heel.

    GWEN IFILL: Derek Harvey, the Pentagon spokesman said today not to read too much into this. What do you read into it?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY (RET.), Former Army intelligence officer: Well, I think it clearly shows that the Islamic State is not losing, which means that we’re not winning, and we need to rethink our approach, how we’re resourcing this effort and our determination to assist the Iraqi security forces and bolster Prime Minister Abadi.

    I think most importantly that Prime Minister Abadi could become weakened and further isolated, which would undermine the major political effort that we have had in play in Iraq. We have invested a lot in him and his opponents are going to use this as another arrow to undermine his political stature in the country.

    GWEN IFILL: There is a political piece here, Vali Nasr, and there is the military piece. How much of this came to pass because of the inherent weakness of the Iraqi military?

    VALI NASR: I think it’s mostly a result of the weakness of the Iraqi military. The Iraqi military collapsed when ISIS took Mosul. There was an effort to shore it up, and I think that effort was exaggerated. Largely, a lot of the fighting was done by Shia militias in places like Tikrit.

    And now we again see that the Iraqi security forces are not up to task to resist ISIS. At least they can’t control the whole of Iraq. And when they go in one direction, that gives room to ISIS to move into new areas.

    GWEN IFILL: We heard this weekend, Colonel Harvey, about the U.S. victory over a leader of ISIS, which the White House was very anxious to disseminate that information, in order to make the case, the continuing case that there has been some victory here. Do you see that?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: I really don’t.

    You know, taking out a leader who is readily replaceable, I think, in my judgment, is not a major factor in this campaign. You know, we have had these types of takedowns of leaders at mid-level and senior level before and they’re replaced over time.

    The most important thing from this action over the weekend against Abu Sayyaf was in fact the intelligence collection, the thumb drives, the computers, the data that can be exploited to go after networks and leadership down the road.

    GWEN IFILL: Do you agree with that about Abu Sayyaf?

    VALI NASR: No, I agree. I think ISIS’ power in the region comes from its ability to show that it’s a viable force, that it can capture territory, that it can stand up to the U.S., and that it’s the only, if you will, Sunni force capable of taking on Baghdad and Tehran. And all of this has been reinforced in Ramadi.

    The fact that they lost the leader means that he has been martyred. That’s expected in war and I think the fact that they were able to capture Ramadi right after the death of that leader plays to their narrative.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me stay with you, Vali Nasr, for a moment, because I’m also curious about whether you think that the U.S. could be doing more or whether this is something and perhaps to the extent of actually overtly collaborating with Iran.

    VALI NASR: Well, if our goal is to defeat ISIS in the very short run, it cannot be done through Iraqi security forces. Standing up a viable army that can control all the territory in Iraq and be able to fight ISIS is going to take time.

    So if we want to defeat ISIS in the short run, either the U.S. has to do more of the fighting or it has to much more overtly and explicitly collaborate with the Shia militias that are backed by Iran who have proven to be the more effective force fighting ISIS.

    GWEN IFILL: Derek Harvey, is that a nonstarter, collaborating even in a subtle fashion with Iran?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Well, I think it will mobilize more Sunni Arab resistance, not just those that are key to support ISIS anyway.

    And I think it will put at risk our influence in an independent Iraq down the road. It threatens to make Iraq more of a client state of Tehran if we are not very careful about how Iranian influence with these popular mobilization units and Shia militias is calibrated.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me ask you, sticking with you, Colonel Harvey, how strong is the political support on the ground for ISIS, which makes it maybe a little bit more difficult to take on?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: I don’t think anyone is certain about how strong the political support is.

    What’s clear is, there is real frustration and still anger with Baghdad. Keep in mind that Ramadi has been under pressure from ISIS for 16 months, and they have been asking for help. The tribal leaders have been asking for help. The ISF, the Iraqi Security Forces, were asking for reinforcements and support continuously over this time and it wasn’t forthcoming from Baghdad.

    That creates animosity toward Baghdad, which is tapped into throughout the Sunni Arab region.

    GWEN IFILL: Vali Nasr, we hear about what’s happened in Tikrit, what’s happened in Ramadi, what’s happened in Mosul, what’s happened in Kobani, and it feels like a few steps forward and several steps back and we’re right where we started.

    Am I wrong in that reading or is there something else that we’re doing wrong that means we can never make permanent progress?

    VALI NASR: Well, we cannot maintain permanent progress based on the kind of situation we have on the ground. So, Iraqi security forces cannot defeat ISIS.

    They can gather and push ISIS out of one town and city and ISIS moves somewhere else. Ultimately, what is required is denying the entire territory of Iraq to ISIS and being able to push ISIS out of all the territory that it holds without enabling it to move into another territory.

    The post Ramadi defeat challenges U.S. narrative of fight against Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    IRAQ-CONFLICT-SHIITE

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    GWEN IFILL: After suffering their biggest defeat at the hands of the Islamic State group in nearly a year, the Iraqi government has called in thousands of Shia militia forces, and requested more U.S. airstrikes to beat back the Sunni militant group.

    The streets of Ramadi were empty today, and the Islamic State’s black flag flew in the capital of Iraq’s largest province, Anbar. Civilians who stayed even after fighting broke out last month were fleeing by the thousands, toward Baghdad. So were many Iraqi troops. This amateur video apparently shows military and civilian vehicles speeding out of town on Sunday. In their wake, stockpiles of weapons were left for the taking.

    To the north, crowds gathered in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, captured by ISIS last June. They cheered the fall of Ramadi and Anbar province.

    MAN (through interpreter): The conquest of Anbar is just the beginning of the conquest of Baghdad, Najaf, and Karbala. Now the conquest has begun. Now the fighting has begun.

    GWEN IFILL: The loss of Ramadi may also delay plans for an Iraqi offensive to retake Mosul, which had been in the works after Tikrit was captured last month.

    In Washington, Pentagon and White House officials acknowledged the setback to American efforts to contain ISIS. But Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said reporters shouldn’t read too much into the Islamic victory, and that Iraqi ground forces and coalition airpower is still working.

    Secretary of State John Kerry, traveling in South Korea, also said the campaign has degraded the militants’ financial capacity and freedom of movement.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: But that’s not everywhere. And so it is possible to have the kind of attack we have seen in Ramadi. But I’m absolutely confident, in the days ahead, that will be reversed.

    GWEN IFILL: On the battlefield, the immediate U.S. response was to step up airstrikes. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called up powerful Shiite militias to fight in largely Sunni Anbar province. The militias insisted they are ready to hold their ground.

    YOUSIF AL-KILABI, Spokesman for Security Affairs, Popular Mobilization Units (through interpreter): We will be a real backbone for the security forces and we will support the legitimacy in Iraq represented in the government and parliament.

    GWEN IFILL: Shiite Iran is a principle supporter of the militias, and it helped coordinate the successful fight to retake Tikrit. A senior Iranian official said in Beirut today his nation will help again.

    ALI AKBAR VELAYATI, Advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (through interpreter): Ramadi will have the same fate as Tikrit. It will be liberated from the grasp of the extremist terrorists and victory in the end will be for the Iraqi people and the Iraqi state.

    GWEN IFILL: And Iran’s defense minister flew to Baghdad for talks with the Iraqi army chief of staff, one day after the top U.S. regional commander, General Lloyd Austin, was there.

    Back in Ramadi, Islamic State-related Web sites showed video of heavy fighting from the weekend, and the group said it was executing apostates, a reference to captured Iraqi troops.

    The post After losing Ramadi, Iraq calls on Shiite militias to fight Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newswrap

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Leaders in Baghdad and Washington scrambled to respond today after Islamic State forces scored a stunning new victory in Iraq. The fall of the city of Ramadi put a stop to recent gains by Iraqi government forces, and it dealt a blow to U.S. efforts to destroy the extremist group. We will look at reactions to this reversal after the news summary.

    GWEN IFILL: Police in Waco, Texas, were on high alert today after Sunday’s deadly shoot-out involving five motorcycle gangs. Nine bikers were killed and at least 18 wounded. The incident erupted as rival gangs gathered at a Waco restaurant.

    In the aftermath, more than 170 people were arrested on a long list of charges.

    W. PATRICK SWANTON, Sergeant, Waco Police Department: They have showed up repeatedly over two months and have been here. We have had a little bit of issue out of them, some arrests for warrants, things like that, minor skirmishes. We had particular intelligence yesterday that there was going to be an even worse group of individuals here yesterday.

    GWEN IFILL: Police also fired shots in the gun battle, but there was no word on whether they killed or wounded anyone.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A Texas grand jury decided today not to charge a police officer for killing an unarmed Mexican man. It happened last February in a Dallas suburb, and triggered protest rallies. Video from a police dashboard camera showed the victim with hands raised, walking forward unsteadily. The officer repeatedly called for him to stop, and then opened fire.

    GWEN IFILL: In Yemen, Saudi-led airstrikes resumed against Shiite rebels, after a five-day cease-fire ended Sunday. There was also new fighting in several cities across Yemen.

    Meanwhile, the rebels’ chief sponsor, Iran, criticized diplomatic talks being held in the Saudi capital.

    ALI AKBAR VELAYATI, Advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (through interpreter): In fact, since we consider Riyadh and Saudi Arabia as part of the conflict, it cannot host a conference for solving the Yemeni crisis. A conference or a national dialogue should be held including all Yemeni groups alone in a neutral country that has no links to Riyadh or other sides who are part of the conflict.

    GWEN IFILL: So far, the rebels and their allies have boycotted the talks.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary of State John Kerry fired off a broadside at North Korea today, accusing it of horrific conduct on human rights and nuclear weapons. Kerry spoke during his stop in South Korea. He said the North is acting with reckless abandon, and warned there could be additional sanctions.

    GWEN IFILL: Back in this country, the U.S. Supreme Court made it easier for employees to sue their companies over 401(k) retirement plans. The justices ruled unanimously in a challenge to choosing mutual funds with high fees.

    Separately, the court refused to stop an investigation of governor Scott Walker’s 2012 recall campaign in Wisconsin. At issue is whether he illegally coordinated activities with outside groups. He’s now a potential Republican presidential candidate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia has resumed for the first time since last week’s deadly derailment. A northbound train carrying about 60 people left Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station just after 6:00 this morning. A similar southbound train departed New York an hour earlier. The wreck killed eight people and injured more than 200.

    GWEN IFILL: And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 26 points to close near 18300. The Nasdaq rose 30 points, and the S&P 500 added six.

    The post News Wrap: Texas officer who shot unarmed man won’t be charged appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user Texas Eagles.

    Can the federal government save the honeybee population? Photo by Flickr user Texas Eagles.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government hopes to reverse America’s declining honeybee and monarch butterfly populations by making more federal land bee-friendly, spending more money on research and considering the use of less pesticides.

    Scientists say bees — crucial to pollinate many crops — have been hurt by a combination of declining nutrition, mites, disease, and pesticides. The federal plan is an “all hands on deck” strategy that calls on everyone from federal bureaucrats to citizens to do what they can to save bees, which provide more than $15 billion in value to the U.S. economy, according to White House science adviser John Holdren.

    “Pollinators are struggling,” Holdren said in a blog post, citing a new federal survey that found beekeepers lost more than 40 percent of their colonies last year, although they later recovered by dividing surviving hives. He also said the number of monarch butterflies that spend the winter in Mexico’s forests is down by 90 percent or more over the past two decades, so the U.S. government is working with Mexico to expand monarch habitat in the southern part of that country.

    The plan calls for restoring 7 million acres of bee habitat in the next five years. Numerous federal agencies will have to find ways to grow plants on federal lands that are more varied and better for bees to eat because scientists have worried that large land tracts that grow only one crop have hurt bee nutrition.

    The plan is not just for the Department of Interior, which has vast areas of land under its control. Agencies that wouldn’t normally be thought of, such as Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation, will have to include bee-friendly landscaping on their properties and in grant-making.

    That part of the bee plan got praise from scientists who study bees.

    “Here, we can do a lot for bees, and other pollinators,” University of Maryland entomology professor Dennis vanEnglesdorp, who led the federal bee study that found last year’s large loss. “This I think is something to get excited and hopeful about. There is really only one hope for bees and it’s to make sure they spend a good part of the year in safe healthy environments. The apparent scarcity of these areas is what’s worrying. This could change that.”

    University of Montana bee expert Jerry Bromenshenk said the effort shows the federal government finally recognizes that land use is key with bees.

    “From my perspective, it’s a wake-up call,” Bromenshenk wrote in an email. “Pollinators need safe havens, with adequate quantities of high-quality resources for food and habitat, relatively free from toxic chemicals, and that includes pollutants as well as pesticides and other agricultural chemicals.”

    The administration proposes spending $82.5 million on honeybee research in the upcoming budget year, up $34 million from now.

    The Environmental Protection Agency will step up studies into the safety of widely used neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been temporarily banned in Europe. It will not approve new types of uses of the pesticides until more study is done, if then, the report said.

    “They are not taking bold enough action; there’s a recognition that there is a crisis,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director for the advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity. She said the bees cannot wait, comparing more studies on neonicotinoids to going to a second and third mechanic when you’ve been told the brakes are shot.

    The report talks of a fine line between the need for pesticides to help agriculture and the harm they can do to bees and other pollinators.

    Lessening “the effects of pesticides on bees is a priority for the federal government, as both bee pollination and insect control are essential to the success of agriculture,” the report said.

    The post Feds propose plan to bolster decline in bees appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

    Thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails could be released by January 2016. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department has proposed releasing portions of 55,000 pages of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton by next January.

    The department made the proposal in a federal court filing Monday night, in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Vice News.

    In the filing, John F. Hackett, who is responsible for the department’s responses to FOIA requests, said that following a review of the emails, the department will post the releasable portions of the 55,000 pages on its website. He said the review will take until the end of the year — and asked the court to adopt a completion date of Jan. 15, 2016, to factor in the holidays. That’s just a couple of weeks before the Iowa caucuses and early state primaries that follow.

    Clinton, the Democratic front-runner in the 2016 presidential election, has said she wants the department to release the emails as soon as possible. The disclosure that she conducted State Department business on a private email account has been a controversy from the very inception of her campaign this year.

    In Monday night’s filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Hackett said the State Department received the 55,000 pages of emails from Clinton in paper form.

    “Given the breadth and importance of the many foreign policy issues on which the secretary of state and the department work, the review of these materials will likely require consultation with a broad range of subject matter experts within the department and other agencies, as well as potentially with foreign governments,” he said. “… The department is committed to processing the 55,000 pages as expeditiously as possible, while taking into consideration the department’s other legal obligations.”

    He said he the department understands the considerable public interest in the records, but said the size of the collection, the nature of the emails and the interest of several agencies present challenges.

    The post State Dept. plans to release thousands of Clinton emails by January 2016 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Jessica Kolber (R) shakes hands with a job seeker at a job fair in Burbank, Los Angeles, California March 19, 2015. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose marginally last week, indicating the labor market remained on solid footing despite slowing economic growth. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    A manager’s No. 1 priority should be hiring great people. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979, and has answered more than 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community over the past decade.

    In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards, or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


    We’ve been discussing how human resources departments, technology and job boards contribute to the problems employers claim to have when trying to hire the talent they need.

    But I think the real solution lies not just in eliminating the artificial obstacles to recruiting and hiring effectively. Employers must learn how to actively do it right. And there’s no mystery about how to do it right — and no artifice in it at all. Recruiting right doesn’t require more technology or more investment or specialists of any kind. The best recruiting and hiring tool is already in place, waiting to be deployed.

    But there’s the rub. Very, very few employers deploy the army of recruiters that already exists in their ranks.

    Line up 100 managers and they’ll give you 100 different answers to the question, What is your No. 1 job function?

    You can take all the skills of all managers and pile them up and they won’t outweigh the one most important skill of a good manager: hiring great people.

    I know this will shock many managers (and HR executives), but hiring is not and cannot be HR’s job.
    If your company keeps failing to hire great people who stick around and do profitable work, then take a look at how good your managers are at this one function.

    If managers in your company are not personally spending at least 30 percent (that’s one to two days per week) of their time identifying, cultivating, recruiting, interviewing and hiring great people, they’re not earning their keep. Hiring is every manager’s No. 1 job.

    I know this will shock many managers (and HR executives), but hiring is not and cannot be HR’s job. In fact, HR needs to get out of the way entirely — and leave recruiting up to the managers who run the departments that do the work, and that understand firsthand the tasks and tools required to do the work of the business.

    Just ask anyone who has ever interviewed with an HR representative: Did HR demonstrate any expertise in the skills it was judging you on?

    Only managers can do that. And it’s time they started doing their jobs and making their companies proud. I’ll bet they’d make job seekers happier, too — because interviews would suddenly become more relevant and intelligent. And HR could go back to processing payroll.

    How does “the manager’s No. 1 job” rank in importance at your company?

    Dear Readers: Would you rather be recruited and interviewed by an actual manager, or by HR? When you are rejected, who rejects you: HR or the manager who would hire you? Why do companies put middlemen in the hiring process, when middlemen just bog it down and lead to errors?


    Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “How Can I Change Careers?”, “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

    Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

    Copyright © 2013 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

    The post Ask the Headhunter: The shocking solution to your company’s talent problems appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Darian James, a nuclear engineering graduate of South Carolina State, said it has been hard to see the school she loves plagued by financial strife and negative media attention. Photo by Kyla Calvert Mason/PBS NewsHour

    Darian James, a nuclear engineering graduate of South Carolina State, said it has been hard to see the school she loves plagued by financial strife and negative media attention. Photo by Kyla Calvert Mason/PBS NewsHour

    When Darian James walks across the South Carolina State campus in her hometown of Orangeburg she sees a place where much of her life to this point has played out. It’s the place where she went to preschool through middle school.

    She also sees the place that won her over, despite a desire to get away from home to go to college, by offering her a an opportunity no other historically black college or university, or any other university in South Carolina could — the chance to be a nuclear engineering major.

    “I wanted to do something different,” she said sitting in the school’s applied radiation science lab the day before graduation. “I wanted to do something that females aren’t really found in, and pursue a degree where minorities are lacking.”

    But since January, when state legislators floated and then dropped a controversial proposal to close South Carolina State for two years to bring long-simmering financial troubles under control, the public has seen a different version of the state’s only publicly funded historically black university. One that includes a six-year graduation rate of 36 percent, an expected deficit of more than $23 million by next month, and an upcoming vote by the school’s accreditors on whether to lift or continue a probation on its accreditation or end that accreditation all together.

    Students, faculty and alumni of South Carolina State on why their school is worth saving. Videos by PBS NewsHour.

    The school’s financial struggles started long before January. State funding for the university is down 46 percent from its 2007-08 high, a larger decline than any other four-year school in the state saw over the same period. Student enrollment has dropped from nearly 5,000 in 2007 to fewer than 3,000 this year, in part because of uncertainty over the school’s financial future. A lawsuit filed on behalf of students and alumni argues the state allowed South Carolina’s other public schools to duplicate most of SC State’s academic programs, making the campus less competitive.

    Turmoil has defined the school’s leadership as enrollment and funding have dropped. When W. Franklin Evans was installed as interim president in February, he became the seventh president since 2007. Earlier this month lawmakers struck a deal to fire and replace the school’s board of trustees. The new board had it’s first meeting this morning. Its members come from the worlds of finance and academia and are slated to be in place until 2018.

    Less-selective, regional colleges across the country are straining under the same factors SC State faces: declining enrollment and tuition revenue, declining state support, more competition from online programs and little or no endowment to fall back on while the institution adjusts.

    But those challenges may weigh more heavily on some publicly funded historically black college and universities like South Carolina State, according to Marybeth Gasman, director of the Center for Minority Serving Institutions at the University of Pennsylvania.

    “They have low alumni giving rates,” she said. “And they don’t have a safety net to rely on because of the way they’ve been underfunded and discriminated against throughout history.”

    While these schools have weaker funding bases they are serving a disproportionate number of students who are first-generation college goers or come from low-income households.

    Strong, vocal leaders who are focused on the particular needs of these types of students are one hallmark of historically black institutions that are thriving, Gasman said. If South Carolina State’s new leaders can turn the campus around, it could be a roadmap for other ailing schools.

    Ed Patrick, the school’s interim vice president of finance, is advocating for cost cuts past leaders were unwilling to make and proposing more manageable repayment plans for millions the school owes to the state and campus vendors.

    “So far, no one’s turning their backs on me,” he said.

    Patrick said a long-term strategy for rebuilding the school’s finances is essential to retaining the school’s accreditation and building the trust of potential donors and the lawmakers who control state fund.

    Calls from South Carolina State supporters for increased state funding are likely to be met with skepticism since a $6 million emergency loan from the state last year didn’t stop the school’s finances from unraveling further.

    Interim South Carolina State University President W. Franklin Evans poses with students receiving diplomas at commencement in Orangeburg, South Carolina May 8, 2015. Photo by Kyla Calvert Mason/PBS NewsHour

    Interim South Carolina State University President W. Franklin Evans poses with students receiving diplomas at commencement in Orangeburg, South Carolina May 8, 2015. Photo by Kyla Calvert Mason/PBS NewsHour

    “There is certainly merit in saying that the university should receive additional funding,” said Gilda Cobb-Hunter, who has represented Orangeburg in the state’s House of Representatives since 1992, “but to be fair that applies to all the other 32 institutions in this state. The difference with South Carolina State compared to some of the other universities, quite frankly, is the revenue these other universities have been able to generate either through alumni, through research or private donors.”

    The previous board launched a $20 million fundraising campaign in April and a student think tank assembled by Patrick and Evans wants to raise $1 million for campus scholarships this summer.

    “When you see issues that need to be resolved, as opposed to just sitting and saying ‘OK, that needs to be done, they need to do something about this’ why not start with us?” said Omari Richards, a rising sophomore and business management major who is part of the student think tank.

    To grow enrollment though, prospective students will have to believe they can get something on the Orangeburg campus other universities can’t offer.

    Gasman and other say one thing SC State and other historically black colleges have excelled at is finding and support students who might not otherwise make it through college.

    And for many SC State alumni, that’s what still defines the school for them — it was a place that gave them opportunities no other university could or would.

    Abraham Turner, a retired Army major general, went through the SC State’s ROTC program and graduated in 1976. He said the Bulldog Battalion has commissioned more than 2,000 military officers since it started in the 1940s, including 19 generals. Even amid financial upheaval, the class of 2015 included the school’s largest group of commissioned officers coming out of the ROTC program.

    For Vernell Brown, who heads the school’s national alumni association, the school is a landmark of South Carolina’s civil rights history. She watched from the roof of her dorm on Feb. 8, 1968, as police fired on students who were demonstrating at the main campus entrance for the desegregation of the city’s bowling alley. Ambulances did not come to the campus. Three students died in what is now called the Orangeburg Massacre and dozens were wounded.

    “It was a dark thing for the state of South Carolina, that three young men got killed and probably 60 or more got shot for nothing,” she said. “It was not about the bowling alley, but it was about the right to go and be where you wanted to be. I think it’s important not to rehash, but that students will know what people went through for what they see on campus today.”

    On campus today, Evans is looking to the school’s science, technology, engineering and math programs to offer students opportunities they won’t find on other South Carolina campuses.

    Darian James (left) laughs with Kenneth Lewis, dean of South Carolina State's College of Science, Mathematics and Engineering. (Photo: Kyla Calvert Mason/PBS NewsHour)

    Darian James, left, with Kenneth Lewis, dean of South Carolina State’s College of Science, Mathematics and Engineering. Photo by Kyla Calvert Mason/PBS NewsHour

    The nuclear engineering program that convinced Darian James to attend SC State is the only undergraduate program in the field in South Carolina — a state with seven operating nuclear power plants and two more in the works. It is also the only such program at a historically black college or university. Enrollment in the program grew or held steady as the university’s overall overall enrollment dropped.

    Where the program excels, according to Kenneth Lewis, SC State’s dean of science, mathematics, engineering technology, is with supporting students with the potential to excel who may not be in the running for competitive programs

    “A lot of our kids are rural kids from small towns, rural towns in South Carolina where they might not have calculus, for example. We spend a lot of time with those kids, developing them, encouraging them, and strengthening their background, “ he said. “I think that distinguishes us from larger majority institution where you might have students that are better prepared coming in. We make sure that the end of our students’ careers, that they can go anywhere and perform well.”

    The department got state approval this month to start a new degree program in industrial engineering and has plans to apply to start a civil engineering program. Lewis expects those programs to have the same draw.

    James graduated summa cum laude earlier this month. She spent her final semester at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and will start a Ph.D. program in biomedical engineering there this fall. She’s one of about a dozen of the program’s grads to go onto a Ph.D. program since 2008.

    The chance to enter a unique field brought her to South Carolina State, but that isn’t what she’d say the campus’ biggest selling point is today.

    “That family environment taught me to get comfortable being uncomfortable. It pushed me,” she said. “Just being in Wisconsin this semester it showed me that I felt very confident there and it didn’t hurt to ask for help. So, South Carolina State molded me into a person that is not afraid.”

    PBS NewsHour coverage of higher education is supported by the Lumina Foundation and American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    The post Threatened with closure, one historically black university charts a path to recovery appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    "Saturday Night Live" alumnus Darrell Hammond as Colonel Sanders, the face of KFC. Image courtesy of KFC

    “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Darrell Hammond as Colonel Sanders, the face of KFC. Image courtesy of KFC

    “I’m back, America.”

    And with a throaty chuckle, another fast food chain dusts off an old mascot to address the nation.

    A couple of weeks after McDonald’s Hamburglar robble-robbled back into our lives, KFC announced Tuesday that the fried chicken chain has resurrected Colonel Harland Sanders to mark its 75th anniversary.

    KFC plans to roll out a new television ad campaign featuring its iconic founder as played by “Saturday Night Alum” alumnus Darrell Hammond. Several promos appeared on the chain’s YouTube channel, including a so-called State of Kentucky Fried Chicken Address.

    “It’s an honor to bring to life such an iconic figure,” Hammond said in a statement, “and it doesn’t hurt that KFC is paying me in chicken (which, at the time, sounded like a good idea because I was very hungry that day.”

    The TV commercials, which will begin airing May 25, “will playfully explore the juxtaposition between the Colonel’s heyday and modern culture,” KFC said in a press release. So far, Sanders is seen walking around, singing and handing out chicken in one spot and professing his love of mandolin music in another.

    Video by KFC

    The real Sanders died in 1980 and hasn’t been featured in TV ads for 20 years, the Associated Press reported. KFC also plans to redesign its restaurants and add new menu items.

    It remains to be seen if this attempt from KFC and other fast food chains will attract a younger demographic, who are flocking to fast-casual competitors such as Chipotle and Five Guys.

    “Increasingly, younger diners are seeking out fresher, healthier food and chains that offer customizable menu options for little more than the price of a combo meal,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

    According to CNN Money, Kentucky-based Yum Brands, Inc., which owns KFC and Pizza Hut, has fared better than McDonald’s, but Yum’s overall sales growth still pales in comparison to the fast casual brands, including Panera and Shake Shack.

    Taco Bell, which is also owned by Yum, launched an ad campaign in March that all but stopped short of calling McDonald’s a bunch of communists. Taco Bell has yet to recruit Gidget, or its chihuahua mascot, to help in the fast food wars.

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    4659079600_89e7a61759_oMemorial Day was officially declared a national holiday in 1971. However, Americans have observed the day, honoring members of the U.S. military who have given their lives in the service of their nation, since the late 19th century. Today, in addition to honoring the country’s fallen heroes, many Americans use Memorial Day weekend as an opportunity to gather with friends and family and engage in favorite summertime activities.

    Unfortunately, many of these activities come with inherent safety risks. From extra traffic on the roads during one of the year’s busiest travel weekends to insect and sun exposure during hours spent outside to avoiding foodborne illness when firing up the grill for the first time this season, there are many opportunities for Memorial Day plans to go awry.

    We’ll be discussing some potential hazards of the holiday, as well as tips for avoiding Memorial Day mishaps on Twitter this Thursday, May 21, from 1-2 p.m. EDT. PBS Food (@PBSFood) and PBS Parents (@pbsparents) will join the conversation to share their advice. Nichole Steffens (@nicsteffens), the national aquatic product manager for the American Red Cross, will also join the discussion to share water and swimming safety tips. Follow along and chime in using #NewsHourChats.

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    “It’s all about the water.”

    New Yorkers love to claim that the secret behind their delicious bagels flows from the faucet.

    A new 3-minute explainer from the American Chemical Society (ACS) begs to differ.

    The video blog admits that bagel quality is influenced by water’s “softness” — a textural feature dictated by levels of two benign minerals: calcium and magnesium. The mineral content in water can toughen the dough by interacting with gluten, but this facet plays a minor role in defining the character of a New York Bagel, according to the video.

    The NYC best bagels, they say, rely on some extra love and care given prior to baking. The first key is letting the bagels sit in a cooler for a couple of days, which offers enough time for the yeast to ferment and release extra flavors. The second is boiling the bagels, which changes the chemical makeup of the dough’s starch, locking liquid water inside. The result is the shiny, crunchy exterior people seem to love.

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    jacksonland

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    GWEN IFILL: Now we go another addition to the “NewsHour” Bookshelf.

    It’s a story somewhat lost to history, how the United States expanded after the Revolutionary War into the Deep South.

    Steve Inskeep, co-host of NPR’s “Morning Edition,” has the details in “Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and a Great American Land Grab.”

    Judy Woodruff talked to him last week at Busboys and Poets, a bookstore and restaurant in the D.C. area.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Steve Inskeep, welcome.

    STEVE INSKEEP, Author, “Jacksonland”: It’s a delight to be here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you report from all over the world. You have told stories from so many parts of this — of the globe, and yet you also really love American history. That comes through in this book.

    STEVE INSKEEP: Well, thank you.

    I wanted to go back to the beginning, in a sense. And I ended up doing this story, which is set in the 1820s and ’30s, a period when democracy as we know it, the democratic institutions we know began to take shape. And so it’s a really exciting period of American history, even though I found a really dark story there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And it’s a particular part of that period that obviously had to do with a moment when the leaders of our country realized they had to make a decision about what to do about the Indians. Why was that important?

    STEVE INSKEEP: Well, it was an epic moment, really, because the United States was expanding.

    The U.S. had won its independence. The revolutionary generation that had won that independence was aging and dying off. A second generation was coming to the stage. And settlers were pushing West into what was legally Indian territory. They were Indian nations. They were not really legally under the control of the United States.

    And so there was a basic conflict there. Was white settlement going to win or were Indian rights going to be upheld?  That was the question that people were wrestling with. And, fundamentally, people who were running the United States in that generation were trying to find a way to displace the Indians, humanely, they hoped, but they really, really wanted the real estate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the two — there are two central figures in the story, of course. One is Andrew Jackson. We think we know so much about this man, seventh president of the United States. He was a great general during the War of 1812, father of the Democratic Party.

    But you paint a portrait of him that’s not — not so attractive.

    STEVE INSKEEP: A much darker side of Andrew Jackson involves the fact that he was a slave owner, that he ran multiple plantations, that he displaced Indians, not just once in the Trail of Tears in 1838, which is what everybody learns about in elementary school, but throughout his career through a period of more than 20 years, as a general defeating them in battle, again as a general outnegotiating them in treaties, or bullying them in treaties, really, and then finally as president signing something called the Indian Removal Act, which set up the conditions to force the movement of further Indian nations to the West, to what is now Oklahoma.

     

    And that dark side is completely connected to Andrew Jackson’s bright side. He was about the expansion of the United States, the security of the United States, the growth of the United States, but he saw that as connected with pushing Indians, Native Americans out of the way.

    There were Native Americans who wanted to be part of the United States, not all of them by any means, but John Ross, this other main character, is one who certainly did.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: He’s really the central other figure here, not nearly as well-known as Jackson, and yet he was a huge player in what happened in that period.

    STEVE INSKEEP: I would like him to be better known, Judy. He is someone that you see his name in history books. A couple of biographies have been written, but more should be written about him, because he is parted of the development of American democracy, too.

    He’s part of a great democratic story. You have Andrew Jackson, this man who was of very modest beginnings. No one so — no one so poor at the beginning of his life had ever become president before. John Ross, at the same time, was being opposed by this man and used democratic tools to fight back.

    Unlike other Native American leaders, he didn’t fight in a rebellion that would have been hopeless because the Indians were outnumbered. He used propaganda. The Cherokees started a newspaper, The Cherokee Phoenix. The articles were spread across the United States. Supporters of Cherokee rights figured out ways to make their articles go viral in the 19th century media.

    They fought and lobbied in Congress. They got petitions going. They even sued in the U.S. Supreme Court.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Did Andrew Jackson have a choice?  Did he have to do what he did?

    STEVE INSKEEP: It would have been hard to find another choice, if you were going to continue the expansion of the United States.

    There were other alternatives. One was seriously considered and pressed upon Andrew Jackson at the time, which was simply, stop this. Stop doing this. Recognize that Native American nations have rights and leave them alone, until such time that they feel that they’re willing to incorporate with the U.S. or sell their land without being coerced.

    That was an option. It would have been a very difficult option, though, because white settlers, many of them with slaves who wanted to start plantations, were pushing on that land at the same time, particularly settlers from the state of Georgia, which was the absolute heartland of the Cherokee Nation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Steve, what is it that you want Americans to know, to learn from this period?

    STEVE INSKEEP: A couple of vital things.

    One is simply that we have been at democracy for a long time, and when you go back to the 1820s and 1830s, you notice people speaking in the same way, speaking in recognizable ways and acting in recognizable ways. And you realize there’s something we can learn from this as we study our politics today.

    Another thing that’s really specific that I would like people to know that I think hasn’t been realized is the role of Native Americans, and of Cherokees specifically, in helping to develop American democracy at this vital point. Even people who are sympathetic to the Native American point of view, I think, have tended to see them mainly as victims.

    And they were, but they also fought back, fought within the democratic process, and added to our democratic tradition. There’s much to be proud of here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s a side of the Native American story that so many of us don’t recognize.

    Steve Inskeep, the book is “Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and a Great American Land Grab.”  It’s just a terrific book.

    Thank you very much.

    STEVE INSKEEP: It’s an honor to be here. Thanks.

     

    The post New book explores Jackson’s dark choices for American expansion appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    SIGNING OFF monitor Letterman

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    GWEN IFILL: David Letterman will sign off for the last time tomorrow, capping a late-night career that lasted more than three decades, even longer than the late-night titan Johnny Carson.

    Letterman, and now a generation of younger comedians, drastically changed the landscape Carson left behind. And now it’s set to change again.

    Jeffrey Brown looks at Letterman’s enduring influence.

    TINA FEY, Actress: My gift to you is, I want to give you the dress. You can keep it.

    (LAUGHTER)

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    JEFFREY BROWN: In the final days of his program, David Letterman has heard raves and roasts.

    DAVID LETTERMAN: How long have we been friends? I guess you alluded to 30 — oh, you can go back to the morning show.

    STEVE MARTIN, Comedian: The morning show, yes, I was on the show then, but that doesn’t make us friends.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: From a parade of stars, many of whom have joined him often in his 33-year network career.

    DAVID LETTERMAN: Somebody get over here. Does anybody know CPR? The great Nathan Lane.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Even the president made an appearance, his eighth on the show.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I know you like Michelle a little bit more than me.

    DAVID LETTERMAN: Oh, my God.

    (LAUGHTER)

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Which is OK.

    DAVID LETTERMAN: She was here last week.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I know.

    ERIC DEGGANS, NPR: We’re so used to late-night comedy that has been influenced by David Letterman.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Eric Deggans, NPR’s TV critic, calls Letterman’s late-night legacy massive.

    DAVID LETTERMAN: Everybody, have a great — ow.

    ERIC DEGGANS: It’s hard to remember what it was like when that show came out of nowhere and really rewrote some of the rules of late-night TV comedy, and allowed for a more acerbic, a more — a sense of the absurd, poking fun at the hypocrisy of television.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Indeed, Letterman brought a new voice to late night, one attuned to current events, but with a real edge. Sometimes, Letterman would go right over the edge.

    DAVID LETTERMAN: Goodbye.

    ERIC DEGGANS: Throwing stuff off the roof of where they were doing the show just to see how it looked when it splattered on the ground.

    DAVID LETTERMAN: Welcome to Taco Bell.

    ERIC DEGGANS: David Letterman being in a drive-through at a Taco Bell or McDonald’s and messing with the people who were trying to order their food.

    DAVID LETTERMAN: It’s my lunch break, and I haven’t had a chance to get anything to eat.

    JEFFREY BROWN: There were the signature segments, like Stupid Pet Tricks, and Top 10 Lists, where the payoff might elicit a groan as much as a laugh.

    DAVID LETTERMAN: Top 10 things that sound creepy when said by John Malkovich.

    Number 10.

    JOHN MALKOVICH, Actor: Does this look infected to you?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Longtime sidekick and bandleader Paul Shaffer was part of the routine.

    PAUL SHAFFER, Band Leader: In the new millennium, people will freak out!

    JEFFREY BROWN: As was the odd-ball everyman Larry “Bud” Melman.

    LARRY “BUD” MELMAN, “Late Show With David Letterman”: Your evil invasion plan was thwarted once again.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Letterman was known for an engaged and, on occasion, confrontational interviewing style.

    DAVID LETTERMAN: Have your friends treated you differently since you have been out of the slammer?

    (LAUGHTER)

    PARIS HILTON, Entertainer: People think that I was really strong that I went through it. So…

    DAVID LETTERMAN: God, it was just ugly, wasn’t it? Have you made…

    PARIS HILTON: But I have moved on with my life, so I don’t really want to talk about it anymore.

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAVID LETTERMAN: Yes, but — I know.

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAVID LETTERMAN: I know.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    DAVID LETTERMAN: No, no, I appreciate it. See, this is where you and I are different, because this is…

    (LAUGHTER)

    ERIC DEGGANS: One of the things that Letterman loved to do was to get celebrities on the show and then get them off of their talking points.

    PARIS HILTON: I’m not here to talk about that.

    ERIC DEGGANS: And try to get them to talk about something that either made them uncomfortable or that revealed something about themselves or that — where there was some sort of real interaction.

    PARIS HILTON: I’m going on to the next question.

    DAVID LETTERMAN: Yes, OK.

    JEFFREY BROWN: One of those famously real interactions came with Cher in 2013.

    DAVID LETTERMAN: You must have had a change of heart about something.

    CHER, Entertainer: No, actually, I don’t know, because I thought I would never want to do this show with you.

    DAVID LETTERMAN: Now, why?

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAVID LETTERMAN: Now, let’s — let’s explore this a little. Why? Because you thought I was a…

    CHER: An (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    JEFFREY BROWN: Early in his career, Letterman hosted local talk and children’s programs and served as a local news anchor and weatherman.

    His big break as a comedian came when he began appearing on the Johnny Carson show in the 1970s. And in 1982, he was given the slot that followed Carson, turning that traditionally sleepy time into a suddenly energetic romp. Eleven years later, though, he was passed over as Carson’s replacement when NBC chose Jay Leno instead.

    A disappointed Letterman moved to CBS to host “Late Night With David Letterman” airing opposite Leno.

    JOHNNY CARSON, Host, “The Tonight Show”: Why don’t I just start with a question here? Just…

    (LAUGHTER)

    JOHNNY CARSON: Just how pissed off are you?

    (LAUGHTER)

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    JEFFREY BROWN: It, too, was a showcase and launching pad for new stars and an inspiration to younger comedians, says Al Madrigal of “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.”

    AL MADRIGAL, Correspondent, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”: So I grew up watching Letterman. And as a comedy nerd, comedy fan, I really was excited about the opportunities that he gave comics and then, years and years later, friends of mine. The show was unpredictable, and that’s what I really enjoyed about it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Among the many comedians who appeared often with Letterman on their way to stardom, Jerry Seinfeld and Jimmy Kimmel, who now has his own late-night show.

    JIMMY KIMMEL, Host, “Jimmy Kimmel Live”: One thing I will — you know, I was here before the show started, and I really feel like you — you led me astray by not telling me how much lying I would be doing.

    JEFFREY BROWN: One star who gives Letterman credit for launching his career is Ray Romano of “Everyone Loves Raymond” fame, who hosted a tribute to Letterman recently.

    RAY ROMANO, Comedian: Hello, everybody. I’m Ray Romano. I’m only here because of David Letterman. Without him, I would be at home watching this with a three-legged dog and a tattoo that says “Almost Made It.”

    JEFFREY BROWN: Along the way, Letterman also had to deal publicly with some personal issues, including his quintuple heart bypass surgery in 2000.

    DAVID LETTERMAN: I couldn’t have been more proud then these guys carved their initials in me, honest to God.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And an affair with an assistant that led to a blackmail attempt.

    DAVID LETTERMAN: I have had sex with women who work for me on this show.

    ERIC DEGGANS: One of Letterman’s strengths as a broadcaster I think people underestimate or don’t talk about as much is his ability to face the camera and talk about something that’s really serious in a way that is compelling, that’s heartfelt.

    DAVID LETTERMAN: Any enormous uprooting change in my life has petrified me, really petrified me. But once I have come through the other side, the reward has been unimaginable.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In the fall, Stephen Colbert will take over Letterman’s time slot for CBS, joining a crowd of newer faces who now vie for attention, as David Letterman says goodbye after more than 6,000 late-night broadcasts.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jeffrey Brown.

     

    The post Saying goodnight to stupid pet tricks, top 10 lists and David Letterman appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    syria

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    GWEN IFILL: The United Nations Cultural Agency recently expressed alarm over one of the Middle East’s most treasured historical sites. They reported that the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria, home of 2,000-year-old ruins and a U.N. World Heritage Site, is currently under threat, as Islamic State forces move in, fighting against government troops in the area.

    At this point, the militants have been held at bay, but the destruction and looting of antiquities is one of the turmoil’s many casualties.

    NewsHour special correspondent Marcia Biggs reports tonight on the fight to save them. It’s part of our series on Culture at Risk.

    MARCIA BIGGS, Special Correspondent: It’s as stark as night and day, this satellite photo before the war began and after.

    Both are from the ancient city of Apamea, founded in 300 B.C. It was a hub of commerce and culture in the Roman era. And it boasted one of the largest theaters of the ancient world. Today, it is pockmarked with craters, evidence of massive looting on an industrial scale.

    Syria’s cultural heritage sites have been devastated by four years of war. Some in the region are battling to save the country’s history, but it’s oftentimes a life-threatening race against the clock. We traveled to Turkey to meet a Syrian archaeologist who is at the forefront of that fight. He asked that we not show you his face or use his real name. So, we will call him Saeed.

    Early in the war, Saeed was part of a team called the Syrian Heritage Task Force, which sandbagged historic sites like this museum in Ma’ara, to protect them from Bashar al-Assad’s airstrikes.

    SAEED (through interpreter): It’s not a war on our present. That’s what I believe. The war is targeting the human being that is alive now, who is also part of a history of roots. So we are fighting on more than one front. I choose to fight on the front that is that of history.

    MARCIA BIGGS: When the Islamic State came in, they took Saeed’s village. He says the punishment for protecting secular objects is now death. Saeed has moved his wife and three children to Turkey, fearing for their safety.

    Is your work worth this risk?

    SAEED (through interpreter): There is nothing to gain from this. Most of the time, I don’t get money. But, at the end of the day, I’m a Syrian citizen and it’s my duty. Some Syrians are fighting the regime. Some are fighting against I.S. I would rather work in my field, which is protecting antiquities.

    MARCIA BIGGS: While looting is occurring on all sides of the conflict, both the United Nations and the U.S. Treasury Department consider it a source of funding for the Islamic State, which Saeed says has even established a bureau of antiquities.

    Looters are required to fill out permission forms like this one and hand over a percentage of their proceeds.

    So, if you want to loot antiquities, you have to buy a license from the Islamic State?

    SAEED (through interpreter): Of course.

    MARCIA BIGGS: And then I.S. takes a cut, 20 percent or so?

    SAEED (through interpreter): Of course. But they don’t offer any help or equipment. They just take 20 percent. If they offer help and equipment, they take more, 50 percent.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Publicly, the group has made a campaign of destroying any un-Islamic cultural relics. Two months ago, this video surfaced which appears to show I.S. fighters destroying priceless artifacts in Iraq’s Mosul Museum. It later emerged that some of the pieces were not original.

    Do you think that this is a bit for show, that they are actually selling quite a lot of pieces?

    ASSAAD SEIF, Coordinator of Archaeological Research and Excavations, Directorate General of Antiquities, Lebanon: For sure. For sure. For sure. I mean, they destroyed the pieces that we saw they are destroying, but, of course, we know that, in Mosul Museum, we have lots of pieces. And it’s very possible that the other pieces were sold on the illicit market.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Dr. Assaad Seif is an archaeologist with Lebanon’s Directorate General of Antiquities, working with local police to stop the trafficking of illegal antiquities across Syria’s border with Lebanon.

    How much money have you seen in illicit trafficked antiquities that have come through this museum?

    ASSAAD SEIF: If we just calculate the sum of them, we could reach between $5 million to $10 million.

    MARCIA BIGGS: That’s quite a lot of money.

    ASSAAD SEIF: Quite a lot of money, yes, but not as much as we think it has looted from Syria.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Antiquities are smuggled from Syria through two main transit points, Turkey and Lebanon. They’re not being sold on the open market, which makes verifying their number difficult. But according to the U.N., the scale of looting is enormous.

    Lebanese authorities say stolen antiquities make their way from here by sea to Cyprus, then on to Turkey, and finally to Europe. Experts believe that objects are most likely going underground to storage facilities and private collections, and they may reappear in several years.

    Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Saad leads the investigations on the Lebanese side and knows well the routes and the players involved.

    LT. COL. NICHOLAS SAAD, Chief of Bureau of International Theft, Lebanon: There is an intermediary in Syria. There’s the expert who searches for the antiquities. There is the smuggler who brings it from Syria to Lebanon. There is the smuggler who have it in Lebanon and takes it to the port of Lebanon. And there is also the smuggler who has the ship to take it to Europe.

    MARCIA BIGGS: This cell phone video shows suspected regime soldiers loading sculptures stolen from Palmyra, the World Heritage Site now under threat by the Islamic State. Smugglers in Beirut were caught after they advertised the statues on the Internet for $200,000 a piece.

    How often are you busting these guys?

    LT. COL. NICHOLAS SAAD: Perhaps once a month.

    MARCIA BIGGS: And before the war, how many times?

    LT. COL. NICHOLAS SAAD: Before the war, it was once every five, six months, never a month — eight months, once a year.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Once smugglers are caught, their wares are brought here to the basement of Lebanon’s National Museum, where Dr. Seif’s team is in charge of housing and authenticating them.

    ASSAAD SEIF: And here, we have lots of fakes that are transported and sold as real objects.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Today, he is preparing to send back a series of genuine religious artifacts from the town of Ma’loula. A U.N. resolution adopted in 1970 requires that any illicitly trafficked antiquities be returned to their country of origin.

    ASSAAD SEIF: This one is from the 19th century.

    MARCIA BIGGS: So, all of these things will go back to the people of Ma’loula?

    ASSAAD SEIF: Yes. We’re preparing the list in order to send it.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Ma’loula, a Christian village with monasteries going back to the fourth century, where they still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus, it was seized by the al-Qaida linked Jabhat al-Nusra in the fall of 2013. And it remained a battleground between opposition and region forces for months.

    Do you have any concern about sending these pieces back to an unstable area, to a war zone?

    ASSAAD SEIF: It’s always difficult to know that a piece could be in a danger zone later, of course, but we have to respect the wish of the country of origin.

    MARCIA BIGGS: It’s a scene that Dr. Seif knows all too well. Lebanon was locked in its own bitter civil war from 1975 to 1991.

    ASSAAD SEIF: In Lebanon, we have lived this trauma before. We feel the deep sorrow and the deep feeling of incapacity sometimes that you are in front of a heritage that is being destroyed and you cannot do anything. It’s a very, very hard feeling to have.

    MARCIA BIGGS: In the chaos of war, not even Lebanon’s museum was sacred. Militias used it as a military base, even creating a sniper’s nest in this 1,500-year-old mosaic.

    Lebanese archaeologists raced to protect the pieces that couldn’t be moved by surrounding them with concrete.

    ASSAAD SEIF: We had armed forces here sometimes inside the museum. So they used to make a small fire in order to make tea or coffee or something like that. So, you see the burning spots that are outside.

    MARCIA BIGGS: When the war ended, the concrete was removed. These 3,000-year-old sarcophagi are now the centerpiece of the national museum.

    All of these marks here…

    ASSAAD SEIF: Are shrapnel marks.

    MARCIA BIGGS: They would have been destroyed.

    ASSAAD SEIF: Yes, of course.

    MARCIA BIGGS: And they made it.

    ASSAAD SEIF: Yes, they made it.

    MARCIA BIGGS: But the battle for history in Syria is much harder to fight.

    ASSAAD SEIF: In Lebanon, the conflicting parties were not trying to erase the memory and the past of the other.

    But, in Syria, they are trying to erase all the memory, all the history of the other. And this is very, very dangerous. It’s like eradicating the whole past of a community.

    MARCIA BIGGS: And with over 200,000 people killed and almost 12 million people displaced from their homes, a future for Syria is dying alongside its past.

    MAN (through interpreter): Sometimes, the issue of antiquities tortures us more than when Bashar al-Assad strikes with barrel bombs or I.S. kills, because we can change the conversation and we can rebuild in the future when we get rid of Bashar or I.S., but history, we can’t remake. This one kills, and that one kills. This one destroys civilizations, and that one destroys civilizations.

    MARCIA BIGGS: For Saeed, he told me it’s pain on top of pain on top of pain.

    Marcia Biggs for the PBS NewsHour, Beirut.

    The post How war has robbed Syria of its history appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    QUESTION TIME monitor

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    GWEN IFILL: Now to Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.

    The former secretary of state, and Democratic presidential candidate, took questions today for the first time in months.

    HILLARY CLINTON, Former Secretary of State: I want those e-mails out. Nobody has a bigger interest in getting them released than I do.

    GWEN IFILL: Candidate Clinton was campaigning in Cedar Falls, Iowa, as a federal judge in Washington ordered the State Department to speed up its plan to release 55,000 pages of her e-mails.

    HILLARY CLINTON: I respect the State Department. They have their process that they do for everybody, not just for me. But anything that they might do to expedite that process, I heartily support.

    GWEN IFILL: The wrangling over Clinton’s e-mails, private and public, official and personal, has continued for months. In early March, Clinton revealed she used a private nongovernment account for official correspondence during her four years as secretary. Days later came news that she’d also used a private server, separate from the State Department account, since 2009, shortly before she took office as secretary of state.

    Clinton then announced she had turned over 30,000 work-related e-mails to State and deleted another 31,000 she deemed personal. That announcement came at a March news conference. Since then, Clinton had not addressed the issue again or taken substantive questions from reporters, until today.

    HILLARY CLINTON: I think it will show how hard we worked and what we did for our country during the time that I was secretary of state, where I worked extremely hard on behalf of our values and our interests and our security. And the e-mails are a part of that. So, I have said publicly — I’m repeating it here in front of all of you today — I want them out as soon as they can get out.

    GWEN IFILL: The State Department received the e-mails in paper form and wanted much more time to go through them. But the judge has now ordered a quicker rolling release.

    Department spokesman Jeff Rathke:

    JEFF RATHKE, State Department Spokesman: We have a large volume of records that cover the entire span of Secretary Clinton’s time at the department. So, I’m sure you can imagine this would cover pretty much any topic. So, there was a desire to do them at once, so that they would — so that they would be available in their entirety. Again, we have got a court order, an order that instructs us differently, so we’re going to comply with it.

    GWEN IFILL: A separate order involves 300 e-mails on Benghazi, the fatal 2012 attack on U.S. diplomats in Libya. The State Department has until next week to provide a schedule for releasing those.

    In the meantime, questions continue about speaking fees the Clintons have earned, $25 million just since January of 2014, and potential conflicts of interest. Still, polling suggests the lingering questions have not yet dented Hillary Clinton’s popularity among Democrats.

    Joining us to discuss what these questions mean for the campaign, Matea Gold of The Washington Post, and, just outside Des Moines, Peter Nicholas of The Wall Street Journal.

    Peter Nicholas, you were at that news conference, that impromptu news — rare news conference that Hillary Clinton gave today in Iowa. Why the delay, as you understand it, originally in the release of all these e-mails?

    PETER NICHOLAS, The Wall Street Journal: Well, the State Department has said it takes time to go just through all these e-mails.

    They have 55,000 pages of documents to go through. It requires a lot of vetting. Input has to come in from other agencies. There has to be an understanding reached about what needs to be redacted, what might be classified or sensitive. So, State says, all this takes time.

    The department had wanted to release all this in January. The judge ordered that it be done on a rolling basis. That could begin as early as July. And this can’t be seen as good news for the Hillary Clinton campaign, in the sense that whatever message she’s trying to put out on a given day about the middle class, about raising wages, about job growth is going to be trumped to some degree by the content of these e-mails. Reporters are going to be scouring them, opposition researchers, other candidates.

    These e-mail releases are going to be a big story every time they’re released.

    GWEN IFILL: How did the federal court get involved in this at all?

    PETER NICHOLAS: Well, there was a lawsuit that was filed. There’s been multiple lawsuits, Freedom of Information Act request lawsuits, public record requests lawsuits, filed against the State Department for these e-mails.

    So, VICE News I believe in this particular case had filed suit asking for these e-mails. And that gave rise to the judge’s ruling.

    GWEN IFILL: If Hillary Clinton says, as she did today, that she would like to see these e-mails made public, why can’t she just release them?

    PETER NICHOLAS: Well, she says that she has given these e-mails to the State Department. They’re now in the custody of the State Department. The State Department has to do its review. She can’t order or demand the State Department to do that. They have to do it according to their own procedures and processes. And as a private citizen now, she can’t influence the department, as she once could as secretary of state.

    So, she’s urging them on, saying she wants this to happen, but she’s saying it’s now a State Department-controlled process.

    GWEN IFILL: Matea Gold, the other cloud hanging over this campaign that never seems to go away is the money, how the Clintons earned their money and in some cases how they spent it, but mostly how they have earned it, $30 million in speeches in eight months or something like that. So, where is the money coming from?

    MATEA GOLD, The Washington Post: So, Friday night, we got our first look at how Hillary Clinton has been earning her money in the 15-month run-up to her announcing her presidential campaign, mostly through speeches.

    So, she personally earned $11.7 million on the lecture circuit, an enormous sum of money by any stretch. And we looked at sort of the top sectors who are giving her money, and technology companies really were seeking her to come as a speaker for their company events. And they were really the prime industry that hired her.

    GWEN IFILL: Were these technology companies who had business before the State Department when she was secretary of state?

    MATEA GOLD: These are technology companies that are some of the biggest players in Silicon Valley and in global Internet commerce and software. So we’re talking about Xerox and Cisco and eBay, companies that have myriad of policy concerns and issues.

    And what’s really interesting is, they have connections. Many of their top executives or senior leadership are also early and avid supporters of her presidential campaign.

    GWEN IFILL: So they’re raising money for her in two kinds of ways. They’re paying her personally one on one for these speeches, but also raising money for her campaign?

    MATEA GOLD: And what’s really unique is you — we clearly have seen former presidents go out on the speaking circuit and earn high fees, but it’s really rare to see someone directly in the run-up to a presidential campaign speaking before industry groups and commanding such large amounts of money.

    GWEN IFILL: Also rare for a first lady to be running for president.

    In these speeches, what does she talk about? Does she talk about things which often become themes in her campaign, or do we even know?

    MATEA GOLD: Many of these speeches were closed. But there are some — a few were open and some details have come out.

    She definitely was testing some themes for her campaign. We saw her talk about income inequality in several speeches. And when she went to Silicon Valley, she was speaking specifically about issues of concern to the tech sector, so talking about issues about government surveillance, which is a really hot-button issue in that industry, talking about issues of immigration, talking about issues of tax repatriation.

    These are clearly things that the next president’s going to have in his or her portfolio.

    GWEN IFILL: As far as we know, at this stage, is any of what she’s done, any the money she’s accepted even borderline illegal?

    MATEA GOLD: There’s nothing illegal about her accepting these fees, but I think it raises a lot of questions about potential conflicts of interest, as she’s also raising money for her campaign and then what would happen once she’s president, and these industries that had paid her personally a lot of money have interests in what the White House does.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s go back to Peter Nicholas in Des Moines and talk.

    And just in general, I want to ask you both about the clouds that never seems to go away over the Clinton campaign. In this case, at the root of these e-mails is this Benghazi investigation, which also never goes away.

    PETER NICHOLAS: Right.

    So, the Benghazi investigation is being led by Trey Gowdy, a Republican House member from South Carolina. And he’s determined to have Hillary Clinton come testify before his committee, talk about the e-mail issue, her unusual use of unusual e-mail practices, where she didn’t have a state.gov account. She used exclusively a private account and a private server, as you mentioned in your earlier report.

    He wants to talk to her about this and wants to also talk to her about the Benghazi investigation he’s looking into, what role she played, what decisions she made, and this is going to be a difficult moment potentially for her. She’s going to be testifying before a committee led by Republicans who are not friendly to her and don’t want to see her in the White House. So, this could be problematic.

    GWEN IFILL: As we have mentioned before on this program, Peter, she has not given a lot of answers to reporters and lots of — answered many questions. So, today, was it a surprise when she decided to? And does it betray any kind of nervousness about these questions?

    PETER NICHOLAS: It was really an interesting moment, Gwen.

    I was there at the event. And I wasn’t expecting her to take questions. One of our colleagues in the middle of this roundtable event above this small business called out, Mrs. Clinton, will you take some questions from the press? And she was a little bit coy and said, maybe I will.

    And then, towards the end of the event, she said, well, I will do it if I can learn something. And then she came over. She spoke for five minutes, more than five minutes. She took a total of six questions, which brings to 19 the total number of questions she has answered from the press corps since she announced her candidacy on April 12.

    So, this is very different from what we’re seeing on the Republican side, but, then again, she is Hillary Clinton. She has 100 percent name recognition. She has minimal competition for the Democratic nomination as yet. And she feels and I think her campaign feels that she doesn’t have to answer a barrage of questions from the press. She wants to run this campaign on her own terms.

    That’s not always possible. As we saw in the whole e-mail controversy in March, she had to do a press conference to answer some of these questions and to appease some donors and some Democrats who were nervous about her prospects at that point.

    GWEN IFILL: And, Matea, we haven’t really seen any effect in the polls so much, that people have said, oh, she’s rich and she’s out of touch or that she’s keeping secrets. That isn’t yet showing up in any early opinion polling.

    MATEA GOLD: Not so much. It’s sort of causing Republicans to tear their hair out. They’re not quite sure why this isn’t damaging her approval rating.

    I think one thing Peter mentioned is so true. She’s such a known quantity that many people have formed their opinions about her and have very strongly held views. And I think it will take a lot to dislodge that. But I think both the money and the e-mails speak to her real competition in this primary, which isn’t a huge ream of candidates, as there is on the GOP side. But really she’s shadowboxing with herself.

    GWEN IFILL: And we will be watching her do that.

    Matea Gold of The Washington Post, Peter Nicholas at The Wall Street Journal, thank you both very much.

    MATEA GOLD: Thank you.

    PETER NICHOLAS: Thank you, Gwen.

     

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    HISTORIC RECALL   monitor  air bag

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    GWEN IFILL: The government announced today that a recall of autos with defective air bags will double in size to nearly 34 million vehicles.

    The Department of Transportation has been pushing the air bag’s manufacturer, Takata, to declare the bags defective for months and levying daily fines. The air bags can explode when deployed, spewing metal fragments into the chest and body. At least five deaths and more than 100 injuries are linked to the air bags.

    Anthony Foxx, the secretary of transportation, spoke of the scope of the recall at a news conference.

    ANTHONY FOXX, Secretary of Transportation: This recall involves 11 auto manufacturers, many different parts suppliers, not just Takata, and roughly double the number of vehicles built in the United States every year. It’s fair to say this is probably the most complex consumer safety recall in U.S. history.

    GWEN IFILL: For more on what the massive recall might mean for Takata, for automakers and for car owners, I’m joined by Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    Thank you, and thank you for joining us.

    So, in the end, after all these months of back and forth, what did Takata finally concede?

    MARK ROSEKIND, Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Up until this point, basically, they were denying there was a defect at all.

    So, what really is the huge step forward for safety today is them acknowledging there is a defect in their inflator, and that’s for both driver as well as passenger-side air bags.

    GWEN IFILL: When you say defect, do we know what that means, what the cause is?

    MARK ROSEKIND: So, that’s a critical part, because what’s been going on is basically a search for that root cause.

    And while we have some hints, we don’t really know what that is. That was part of the problem. How long do you wait? So, we may not have the root cause, but right now we have to worry about defective air bags in cars. We need to get a solution, even if we don’t fully understand the root cause at this point.

    GWEN IFILL: So, is it fair to say that Takata’s resistance up until this point was about not being able to prove that they had done anything wrong?

    MARK ROSEKIND: Well, I think that’s part of what we’re hearing, is, like, let’s determine what the root cause is.

    I have just come from the NTSB as a board member. I can tell you it takes a long time to figure these things out. In this case, we don’t have that time.

    GWEN IFILL: If you don’t know the cause, the problem that created this, then how do you know that any solution you put in place, any replacements that people apply for to get, how do you know they’re safe?

    MARK ROSEKIND: Well, two parts.

    One is, we have hints, so we know there are some issues about chemistry and moisture and some things like that.

    GWEN IFILL: Tell me what you mean by that.

    MARK ROSEKIND: Yes. Some of the testing that’s been done has been found in — what everyone is hearing high-humidity areas, so moisture can get into some of their air bags, changes its chemistry, so it burns faster and hotter than it should.

    And so when it inflates, it basically explodes. It goes hotter than it should. And that’s how you get things with higher pressure basically breaking out and shredding the metal.

    GWEN IFILL: So, to remind people, when this first came to light, there was widespread defense or a discussion that this was only applicable in high-humidity areas, in the American South, for instance, in Florida. Is that no longer the case?

    MARK ROSEKIND: So, that’s exactly what the issue is, right, which is everybody identifies it somewhere, and you think you have a sense of what the root cause is, can we actually define it, constrain it to a particular area?

    So, the problem is, we had two cases that didn’t occur in high-humidity areas. And so that kind of throws that out. That’s been part of the problem, multiple versions of the air bag in multiple makes and models of cars. So that confuses what we’re going after.

    GWEN IFILL: So, in the end, you have to basically bet on the idea that it might happen again and that’s worth taking them all out?

    MARK ROSEKIND: And so to — how you originally asked that question, part of what’s happened today is not just identifying the defect, but them signing an agreement with us that we will now be participating and directing and provide oversight to determining that the remedy works.

    GWEN IFILL: In the past, the federal government, when it has intervened in these cases, has intervened with car companies. We have heard of multiple recalls for multiple reasons, whether it was air bags or ignition safety switches. It always involved the companies themselves.

    This time, you’re going directly or your agreement is directly with the supplier. That’s different.

    MARK ROSEKIND: Yes. And that’s part of what the problem was earlier, is, because Takata was denying that there was anything going on, it was the 10 auto manufacturers who were using their inflators who stepped up to call for the — basically to recall these vehicles.

    So it’s very different now to have the supplier step up. And, in fact, that triggers — their identifying a defect now triggers these manufacturers, 11 of them now, to then have to come forward and identify defects in all the makes and models where they have used the Takata inflator.

    GWEN IFILL: Does this make Takata or the companies liable to consumer complaint lawsuits?

    MARK ROSEKIND: So, that’s outside our venue. As far as what we’re going to focus on, we’re going to stay focused on the safety part of this.

    But there is no question that coming and making an official declaration there is a defect changes the landscape broadly.

    GWEN IFILL: OK. I’m driving one of these cars. What do I do now?

    MARK ROSEKIND: This is one most important things we can do. There is a vehicle identification number on your car. You can look it up, safercar.gov. It’s a Web site that NHTSA runs.

    And you can look it up and see whether or not you have any recalls on your vehicle. If you see that there is an air bag problem, you need to call your dealer and get it fixed as soon as you can.

    GWEN IFILL: Safercar.gov. I recall there were some problems with safercar.gov before. You sent consumers there and they went to the wrong Web site. They couldn’t get the answers to their questions. Has that been fixed?

    MARK ROSEKIND: Yes, for a long time.

    And it is a challenge because, even now, as we get this information, we have to rely on the auto manufacturers to send us all the information there. And, as you started with this, as we’re talking about going from 17 million to at least probably 34 million vehicles, so we’re talking about a huge load, and we’re preparing the system to handle that.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s assume for a moment that everyone goes through the Web site and they put in for their replacement air bags, and then they get to their dealer and they say, well, they’re backordered. We don’t have them in stock. What to do then?

    MARK ROSEKIND: So, this is exactly why we have a major concern. This is — we’re calling this the largest, most complex. It’s not the numbers. That’s the large part.

    The complex piece is making the supplies available as quickly as we can. So that’s why, in this agreement, NHTSA will have a central role in prioritizing, organizing and phasing in to make sure the most high risk get them as soon as possible.

    For you, the individual driver, keep driving. Keep calling your dealer, so as soon as they have that replacement, you get it in your car.

    GWEN IFILL: How do you measure who is at most risk?

    MARK ROSEKIND: Again, the little bit of root cause work that’s been done, we know age is a problem. We know geography, we know environment and we know driver vs. passenger.

    So there are some things we know where the highest risk would be. Just want to make sure those people get it first.

    GWEN IFILL: Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, thank you.

    MARK ROSEKIND: Thank you.

     

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    newswrapimage

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    GWEN IFILL: Islamic State fighters in Iraq moved today to consolidate the capture of their newest prize, the city of Ramadi. At the same time, a new battle took shape. Some Shiite militiamen, allied with the Iraqi army, massed at a nearby base to prepare for a counterattack.

    In Washington, the fall of Ramadi struck sparks in Congress.  House Speaker John Boehner blamed President Obama.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER, Speaker of the House: The president’s plan isn’t working. It’s time for him to come up with a real overarching strategy to defeat — to defeat the ongoing terrorist threat. When a major city in Iraq, Ramadi, gets overrun by ISIL and the administration says, well, it’s just a temporary setback, it’s 70 miles from Baghdad.

    GWEN IFILL: At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest said the president is open to suggestions, but he counseled against overreacting.

    JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: I think this illustrates how important it is for us to maintain some perspective on this.  We have had other periods of setback too that have been followed by shortly by important progress. This is something that the president is mindful of. And it’s something that he’s talking about with his national security team just about every day, including today.

    GWEN IFILL: Back in Baghdad, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also came under pressure. Sunni lawmakers insisted on arming Sunni tribesmen immediately to battle ISIS. But Shiites argued the tribes have divided loyalties, and they warned the weapons are likely to end up in the hands of the militants.

    A historic peacemaking gesture played out today in Ireland. Britain’s Prince Charles and Irish nationalist leader Gerry Adams met in Galway and shook hands. Then they met privately for 15 minutes. It came 36 years after an IRA bomb killed Lord Louis Mountbatten, the prince’s great uncle. At the time, Adams was reputedly an IRA commander, and he defended the killing.

    Today, he sounded conciliatory.

    GERRY ADAMS, President, Sinn Fein: There has been a lot of hurt, and, thankfully, all of that and conflict is behind us, but the hurt isn’t behind us. And I would like to think that today’s engagement will be a symbolic, but also a practical step of facing into the future.

    GWEN IFILL: The IRA agreed to a permanent cease-fire in 2005, but splinter groups are still active. Adams now leads the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein Party.

    The investigation of a brazen jewelry robbery in London took a sudden new twist today. More than 200 Scotland Yard officers swooped down on alleged members of the gang behind the Easter weekend heist.

    Rohit Kachroo of Independent Television News reports.

    ROHIT KACHROO: These are the figures behind what might be a breakthrough in this investigation, 12 homes raided, nine men arrested, three of them pensioners, one aged 76.

    Audacious doesn’t quite describe what happened here. Complex doesn’t represent the investigation that followed when thieves broke through concrete walls. Scene of the diamond trade of 19th century became the scene of the crime of the 21st.

    Today, the police defended their work.

    OFFICER PETER SPINDLER, London Metropolitan Police Service: At times, we have been portrayed as if we’d acted like Keystone Cops. But I want to reassure you that, in the finest traditions of Scotland Yard, these detectives have done their utmost to bring justice for the victims of this callous crime.

    ROHIT KACHROO: That’s a reference to allegations that officers didn’t respond to an alarm quickly enough.

    CRAIG TURNER, Detective Superintendent, London Metropolitan Police Service: As a result of those searches, a significant amount of high-value property has been recovered. Again, I just urge victims to please stay patient. Police officers will be in contact with them in order that we can restore this property back to their rightful owners.

    ROHIT KACHROO: Scotland Yard officers are searching through what was found in all of today’s raids. On first glance, it seems most of the property has been recovered.  And, tonight, the arrested men, average age 62, are still being questioned.

    GWEN IFILL: Police have not put a price on how much the thieves got away with, but British news accounts say it could total $300 million.

    Back in this country, new research finds the rate of suicides for young black children nearly doubled between 1993 and 2012. The rate among white kids was down. The study was based at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The authors cited exposure to violence and stress as possible factors.

    The House gave final approval today to a bill aimed at ending sexual trafficking and slavery that had delayed the confirmation of Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Among other things, the bill creates a fund for victims. The measure already passed the Senate, and President Obama is expected to sign it.

    In economic news, Los Angeles will become the largest city in the nation to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour. The city council voted today to hike the wage for companies with at least 25 workers.

     

    On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 13 points to close above 18300. The Nasdaq fell eight points.  And the S&P 500 lost one.

     

    And the New England Patriots have decided not to appeal their penalty for using underinflated footballs. Team owner Bob Kraft announced it again. He again criticized the NFL for fining the Super Bowl champions $1 million and taking away two draft picks, but he said he won’t pursue the matter.

     

    ROBERT KRAFT, Owner, New England Patriots: I know that a lot of patriot fans are going to be disappointed in that decision, but I hope they trust my judgment and know that I really feel at this point in time that taking this off the agenda, this is the best thing for the New England Patriots, our fans, and the NFL.

     

    GWEN IFILL: The league has also suspended Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for the first games of next season. The players union reaffirmed today that his appeal will go forward.

     

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    A Chinese ship is anchored at Port of Santos in Sao Paulo, Brazil, while being loaded with soybeans on May 19, 2015. Photo by Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

    A Chinese ship is anchored at Port of Santos in Sao Paulo, Brazil, while being loaded with soybeans on May 19, 2015. Photo by Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — If the U.S. doesn’t write the rules of international trade, President Barack Obama warns, China will. In fact, China is already helping write those rules, and in some ways has jumped ahead of the game.

    There’s intense competition between the U.S. and China for economic influence in the world. As Obama seeks to persuade lawmakers to back his trade agenda, he has cast that competition as an economic threat.

    “They’ll write those rules in a way that gives Chinese workers and Chinese businesses the upper hand, and locks American-made goods out,” the president said in Oregon this month.

    As a result, China’s impact, both current and potential, is partly shaping the U.S. debate over whether Congress should grant Obama greater trade-negotiation authority. Under such authority, lawmakers could still set parameters for trade deals, but once an agreement was negotiated they could only approve or reject it, not change it.

    Obama is seeking the “fast-track” authority to complete a Trans-Pacific trade deal with 11 other countries along the Pacific rim, many of whom are also negotiating separate trade pacts with China.

    Some U.S. concerns:

    ___

    CHINA’S AMPLE REACH

    The U.S. is the largest economy seeking to conclude the Trans-Pacific trade deal. China is the largest economy negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, 16 countries that include the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as well as Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

    There is significant overlap. Countries involved in both negotiations include Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

    China, under President Xi Jinping, is also starting an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and has enlisted 57 countries to sign up. Such a venture is designed to broaden China’s practice of using its state-owned companies and its workers on foreign capital projects.

    The U.S. and Japan, leading shareholders of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, have expressed concern over the new bank’s governance standards and the types of projects it might finance. “They may be very good for the leaders of some countries and contractors but may not be good for the actual people who live there,” Obama said last month.

    Still, Britain, France and Germany have broken with Washington and are seeking membership.

    As a result, the Trans-Pacific trade deal Obama seeks would do less to thwart China than to help the U.S. “rebalance” toward Asia and gain a foothold in a major world market.

    “The U.S. has to be in the game itself,” Evan A. Feigenbaum, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia, said at a recent conference on U.S.-China economic relations. “In the full sweep and scope of Asia institutions, agreements, functional areas, clearly the United States, if it’s going to adapt and compete, has to compete with something.”

    ___

    HOW TOUGH ON LABOR RIGHTS?

    When Obama says the U.S. needs to “write the rules for trade” he is addressing a difference between the trade deals that China is negotiating and those that the U.S. is hoping to complete. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is much like a traditional free trade agreement that simply seeks to lower tariffs and increase access to markets.

    The Trans-Pacific agreement, however, also aims to set labor and environmental standards for its participants. Presumably, that would enhance U.S. competitiveness in its exports.

    The debate in the United States centers on how enforceable those standards would be. The North American Free Trade Agreement negotiated by President Bill Clinton had side agreements on labor and the environment that were not enforceable. More recent deals, many with Latin American countries, have built enforcement into the agreements.

    Results have been mixed.

    A Government Accountability Office report last year found that while some countries have taken steps to strengthen labor rights, enforcement has been limited and U.S. agencies have been inconsistent in monitoring. It found that of five labor complaints submitted to the Department of Labor since 2008, only one had been closed.

    “The history of these agreements betrays a harsh truth: that the actual enforcement of labor provisions of past U.S. FTAs lags far behind the promises,” concluded a report this week by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a vocal critic of Obama’s trade efforts.

    Administration officials concede past problems in addressing claims. They say some delays are due to a lack of resources and others are the result of labor standards that are unclear or too weak to make a strong case. They say the Trans-Pacific deal would reflect those lessons.

    ___

    PLAYING WITH CURRENCY

    U.S. administrations have long complained that China subsidizes its exports by keeping its currency values artificially low. And while China is not a participant in the Trans-Pacific agreement, critics and even some supporters of the deal believe it should include measures that would crack down on nations that manipulate currency.

    “Past administrations have had a number of tools at their disposal, but they’ve sat in a drawer gathering dust,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who succeeded in placing currency valuation restrictions in related trade legislation, said last week.

    But administration officials say any provision that would punish countries deemed to be purposefully undervaluing their currency to gain a trade advantage would prompt retaliation and lead to a trade war. The administration on Tuesday said that if the currency manipulation restrictions are placed directly in the “fast track” legislation, Obama will veto it.

    “There was a time when China was pretty egregious about this,” Obama said during a trade pitch at Nike headquarters in Oregon last month. “And we pushed back hard, and China moved. … That’s not an argument against this trade agreement.”

    Still, Jared Bernstein, who served as an economist for Vice President Joe Biden, believes the trade agreement should contain currency enforcement provisions.

    He said in an email: “One reason for our persistent trade deficits is that some of our trading partners have managed their currency to subsidize their exports to us and tax ours to them.”

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    Photo of President Barack Obama by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    Photo of President Barack Obama by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is framing the challenges of climate change as a matter of national security that threatens to aggravate poverty and political instability around the globe and jeopardize the readiness of U.S. forces.

    “Make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country,” the president says in excerpts of a commencement address prepared for delivery Wednesday at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. “And so we need to act and we need to act now.”

    The president in recent months has pressed for action on climate change as a matter of health, as a matter of environmental protection and as a matter of international obligation. He’s even couched it as a family matter, linking it to the worry he felt when one his daughters had an asthma attack as a preschooler.

    His speech to the cadets, by contrast, is focused on what the Obama administration says are immediate risks to national security, including contributing to more natural disasters that result in humanitarian crises and potential new flows of refugees. Further, the president sees climate change aggravating poverty and social tensions that can fuel instability and foster terrorist activity and other violence.

    Obama said the cadets would be part of the first generation of officers to begin their service in a world where it is increasingly clear that “climate change will shape how every one of our services plan, operate, train, equip and protect their infrastructure.”

    His prepared remarks said climate change “is not just a problem for countries on the coast or for certain regions of the world. Climate change impacts every country on the planet.”

    As for the impact in the U.S., Obama pointed to streets in Miami and Charleston, South Carolina, that flood at high tide and to military bases around the country already feeling negative effects.

    “Around Norfolk, high tides and storms increasingly flood parts of our Navy base and an air base,” Obama said of military facilities in Virginia. “In Alaska, thawing permafrost is damaging military facilities. Out West, deeper droughts and longer wildfires could threaten training areas our troops depend on.”

    With the Republican-led Congress indifferent to Obama’s entreaties, the president has been doing what he can to combat climate change through executive orders to cut greenhouse gas emissions and through the powers of persuasion. But his climate change agenda has drawn strong political opposition and a number of legal challenges. Many of the GOP presidential candidates for 2016 have said that taking unilateral steps to address climate change could hurt the U.S. economy.

    Obama’s appearance at the Coast Guard Academy was to be his second and last commencement address of the season after speaking earlier this month at a community college in South Dakota. The president traditionally delivers a commencement address every year to one of the service academies.

    Later Wednesday, he was visiting Stamford, Connecticut, for a Democratic fundraiser at a private home, with about 30 supporters contributing up to $33,400 each.

    The post Obama frames global warming as national security threat appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Police officers stand outside parliament in Tunisia's capital Tunis on March 18, 2015. Gunmen attacked the national museum near parliament. Photo by Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters

    Police officers stand outside parliament in Tunisia’s capital Tunis on March 18, 2015. Gunmen attacked the national museum near parliament. Photo by Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters

    Italian police arrested a Moroccan man Tuesday evening for allegedly helping perpetrate the hours-long siege on Tunisia’s Bardo museum that left 22 people dead.

    He was arrested in the town of Gaggiano, eight miles from Milan. According to police, he had arrived in Italy aboard a migrant boat a month before the attack and was ordered expelled. It wasn’t clear whether he left, reported the Associated Press.

    The man was named by Milan’s chief anti-terrorism investigator as Abdelmajid Touil, who was identified in Porto Empedocle, Sicily, on Feb. 17, according to the AP.

    The hostage-taking at the museum in Tunis occurred on March 18. Two of the assailants were killed at the scene and a third gunman was believed to have escaped. The Islamic State group took responsibility for the siege.

    The post Moroccan man arrested for attack on Tunisian museum appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man holds a child on a car in Baltimore on May 1. Photo by Eric Thayer/Reuters

    A man holds a child on a car in Baltimore on May 1. Photo by Eric Thayer/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The prevailing images of protests in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, over police killings of black men were of police in riot gear, handcuffed protesters, tear gas and mass arrests. The main images of a fatal gun battle between armed bikers and police in Waco, Texas, also showed mass arrests — carried out by nonchalant-looking officers sitting around calm bikers on cell phones.

    The firefight in Waco is raising questions about perceptions and portrayals of crime in America, considering the vehement reaction that the earlier protests got from police, politicians and some members of the public.

    Media critics, columnists and civil rights activists are complaining that there appears to be little societal concern about the gunplay at a restaurant in Texas, whereas politicians — including President Barack Obama — described violent looters in Baltimore as “thugs,” and the media devoted hours of television and radio airtime to dissecting social ills that affect the black community.

    On Twitter, #wacothugs and #whiteonwhitecrime were trending, with columnists around the nation debating the differences.

    The shootout at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco left nine people dead and 18 injured. About 170 bikers have been charged with engaging in organized crime, with bond at $1 million for each suspect. Mugshots show an array of suspects: white, Hispanic, a white woman and a man who looked black.

    Police said the fight started because a vehicle rolled over a man’s foot. That caused a dispute that continued inside the restaurant, where fighting and then shooting began, before the violence spilled back outside, they said. About 50 weapons were confiscated, mostly knives and firearms. However, police said a final count could show there were more than 100 weapons.

    Officials said the nine dead were Bandidos and Cossacks members, ranging in age from 27 to 65. Preliminary autopsy results showed all nine were killed by gunshots. Police have acknowledged firing on armed bikers, but it was unclear how many of the dead were shot by gang members and how many were shot by officers.

    There were no deaths during the Baltimore and Ferguson protests, yet people immediately stereotyped all of the protesters as criminals, said Nicole Lee, a human rights lawyer who worked with protesters in both cities.

    “Nine people were killed in Waco, and yet you have not heard the level of disgust and dismay as you did over fires burning in Ferguson and in Baltimore,” Lee said. “One of the things the protesters always said was that while many of them disagreed with the property destruction, that you can rebuild property. But you can’t bring back people, and yet you’re not hearing an equal amount of disgust from the media and from people over what happened in Waco.”

    Civil rights attorney Charles F. Coleman Jr. said only minority communities get blamed for violence, while no one blames white families or white communities for fatal violence by white men, characterizing such events instead as “isolated incidents.” This despite the fatal school shooting sprees in Newtown, Connecticut, and Columbine, Colorado, and rioting by college students celebrating victories or upset at sports losses, Coleman said.

    “But when you look at Ferguson, or you look at a Baltimore, when you look at these sorts of incidents, we have a tendency vis-a-vis the media to actually question why it happened to the victim, and we go further and then we impute liability on the entire community and sort of do this systematic victim blaming of black America,” he said.

    Texas Monthly’s Dan Solomon wrote in a column Monday that comparing Waco with Baltimore or Ferguson “was probably not an apples-to-apples situation.”

    “But it’s nonetheless difficult to imagine that if a shoot-out involving dozens of young black men that ended with nearly 30 casualties had happened in a strip mall in Waco, it would be perceived as an isolated incident involving only the people who drew their guns — or that police would be chatting and friendly with people in the area in gang attire afterward,” Solomon wrote.

    The post Some see differences between perceptions of Waco, Baltimore appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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