Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel

Embed this content in your HTML


Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Channel Catalog


Channel Description:

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

older | 1 | .... | 623 | 624 | (Page 625) | 626 | 627 | .... | 1175 | newer

    0 0

    A Huthi Shiite militant inspects what remains of a hotel destroyed in an air-strike by the Saudi-led coalition on May 31, 2015 in Al-Thawra sport city located north of the capital Sanaa. Human Rights Watch published new evidence alleging a Saudi-led coalition is using internationally banned cluster bombs in Yemen, urging it to stop such attacks that were harming civilians.     AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED HUWAIS        (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Today in Geneva, Switzerland, talks ended between Yemen’s exiled government and Houthi Shiite rebels, who control that country’s capital. The negotiations failed to reach even a temporary cease-fire.

    Tonight, we take a close at the personal cost of the conflict, but first a bit of background. The latest turmoil can be traced back four years to the Arab spring, when an uprising ultimately led to the ousting of then President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Earlier this year, Houthi rebels, with the help of soldiers still loyal to the former leader, forced Yemen’s current president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, into exile. That sparked an international military response led by Saudi Arabia.

    The subsequent fighting has killed more than 1,000 civilians and displaced more than one million.

    “NewsHour” special correspondent Jane Ferguson traveled to Yemen to see firsthand what life is like in rebel-controlled territory.

    JANE FERGUSON: These rebels have ruled much of Yemen for almost a year, marching through the streets of their greatest prize, the capital, Sanaa, in a show strength and defiance.

    Houthi gunmen control the streets and their politicians control the government. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia accuse Iran of backing the Houthis. And this was Saudi Arabia’s answer to that close relationship. Intensive airstrikes have pounded the country for three months.

    My God. So, this is where the rocket fell.

    We were among the first Western journalists to enter Sanaa since that bombardment began in March. We found neighborhoods destroyed and people terrified.

    Hi there. Are there Saudi planes here? They say, yes, all the time. All the planes are Saudi. It is dangerous here?

    MAN: Yes.

    JANE FERGUSON: OK. Well, then let’s — let’s move on then.

    Survival is now the priority. In addition to airstrikes, Saudi Arabia has imposed a blockade on the country and supplies are running desperately short. Clean water is rationed by the government to families, but there isn’t enough. This water station was paid for by a local businessman as charity.

    Piles of garbage, which haven’t been collected in months, are burnt in the streets. Lines for gas stations go on for miles, with many people sleeping in their cars for days, waiting to get fuel. Ahmed has given up trying. As a cab driver, that means no income for his family.

    When was the last time you had fuel?

    MAN: I went to the gas station. I stayed for two days.

    JANE FERGUSON: Oh, my goodness. OK. And so when was the last — how often do you get to work nowadays?

    MAN: I don’t have — I just stay here.

    JANE FERGUSON: Since when?

    MAN: Since three months.

    JANE FERGUSON: Yemen’s rich history has not been spared from the violence. The capital’s Old City, thousands of years old and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been damaged.

    These ancient brick buildings were brought down during bombardment, causing an international outcry.

    MAN: This is the problem.

    JANE FERGUSON: After years of working to safeguard the Old City, Dr. Naji Thawabteh says the site is under threat.

    DR. NAJI THAWABTEH: It’s very, very sensitive. Any movement will damage the houses. So, it’s very difficult because it’s old.

    It’s not made by metal or concrete. This is by this material — old bricks, ancient bricks, yes, yes. Before this crisis, the city was alive more from the tourism, and the income of the owner of the houses come to be higher. And that means they will spend money for their houses to protect.

    But now, with this, they are suffering for the food, and they don’t care about something for the houses — to pay something for the houses.

    JANE FERGUSON: As destitution grows, so does anger. But the officials are blaming Saudi Arabia and its number one ally for civilian deaths.

    Can you tell us why you say these attacks are done by both Saudi Arabia and the United States?

    TUMAM AL-SHAMY, Health Ministry Spokesman (through translator): Saudi Arabia cannot do anything in the Middle East without a green light from the United States. The Saudis and the Americans have both admitted that they support them militarily, logistically and politically.

    JANE FERGUSON: The White House said at the beginning of the bombardment that they were helping the Saudis. Most Yemenis in the street are aware of this. These shopkeepers say there is growing anger at America.

    MAN: Our people, they are angry from the United States.

    JANE FERGUSON: They’re angry at the United States because?

    MAN: Yes, because they are not doing anything for our people.



    JANE FERGUSON: So, they think that the United States could tell Saudi Arabia to stop it?

    MAN: Yes. They are supporting. They are supporting with the guns, by money.


    Not everyone supports the Houthis. Those who hope the exiled President Hadi will return are either too frightened to speak or have left the city. The Houthis are accused of arresting and jailing people opposed to them.

    Hostility between the Houthis and the Saudis is not new. The Houthis are Zaidi, followers of a Shia sect of Islam. Saudi Arabia, a majority Sunni country, has accused the Houthis for years of being puppets of Shiite Iran on their doorstep.

    But senior Houthi leader Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi denies any relationship with Iran.

    “We don’t have any links whatsoever with Iran and Iran doesn’t have any influence on us,” he says. “We are completely independent and separate.”

    While the rest of the world may view the conflict here in Yemen from the perspective of Shia vs. Sunni power, Saudi Arabia vs. Iran, most Yemenis don’t really relate to those sectarian terms.

    There isn’t really a history of sectarianism in Yemen. And most people here say they are more loyal to their tribe than specific religious sects. The worry, however, is that sectarianism could be brought into Yemen as a result of the region-wide struggle.

    You want to sit next to me here?

    In Sanaa’s Old City, we met Ahmed al-Dhaia, religious teacher at the Grand Mosque.

    “Country leaders create these problems to stay in power,” he says. “Those people who make these problems, they’re not supporting Sunni or Shia. They just want power. They have a lot of money and they want to control all the country.”

    While the Houthis are strongly anti-American, they’re even more anti-al-Qaida. Yemen is home to al-Qaida’s most dangerous offshoot, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

    And the U.S. has been conducting a drone strike campaign against them for years.

    Yemeni journalist Nasser Arrabyee says many here are confused by the U.S.’ foreign policy.

    NASSER ARRABYEE, Yemeni Journalist: United States are supporting the enemy. They are supporting al-Qaida. They’re supporting their enemy. Saudi Arabia is the factory of terrorists. Saudi Arabia is the factory of al-Qaida. And the United States, unfortunately, is supporting Saudi Arabia. So, they are supporting their enemy.

    JANE FERGUSON: This kind of chaos has Yemenis worried about their country disintegrating. It’s increasingly the chosen battleground between America and Saudi Arabia on one side and Iran on the other. It’s a fight that is bringing Yemen to its knees and threatens to destroys everything in its path.

    For “PBS NewsHour,” this is Jane Ferguson, Sanaa, Yemen.

    The post This is what a civil war looks like appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0


    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Race relations return to the forefront after deadly violence in South Carolina. The head of the Catholic Church takes a stance on climate change. And two more candidates leap into the race for 2016.

    For all that and more, we turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Welcome, gentlemen.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, another terrible race-related story to talk about, this horrible shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, David, where a young white man killed nine black churchgoers.

    How — what are we left with? I mean, is this an isolated — should we think of this as an isolated incident, a racist young man, or do we — or does the whole country need to do some soul-searching?


    First, we should mention that the uplifting part of this story, of this terrible story is what happened today in the courtroom, the families forgiving the young man in such a heartfelt and heartrending way. Mark and I were talking before that is living the faith, that is walking the walk.

    And we have a society and certainly a politics filled with people who aren’t forgiving each other, filled with vengeance. Well, that speech should be seared in our minds. And so that was an uplifting moment today…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It was.

    DAVID BROOKS: … which wasn’t all negative.

    The horror is the horror. I confess, I’m a little confused about how much to generalize. We have a race problem in this country. That is so obvious. But we also have an angry solitary young man problem. And I’m not sure a lot of the angry solitary young men are directly connected.

    They are obviously loosely connected to the history of race in this country. But they are angry solitary young men looking for hateful and vicious ideologies. Some of them turn into neo-Nazi skinheads. I don’t think we have a Nazi problem in this country. They are solitary and they’re hate-mongers. And the guy sits with the Bible study group for an hour and then starts shooting them. That’s beyond — beyond imagination.

    And so I — it’s obviously connected, but I’m a little wary of the too pat causations that are linked between our general race problem and this specific, completely bizarre, and completely evil incident.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How are you seeing this?

    MARK SHIELDS: I just want to underscore what David said about those people in the courtroom today and them saying, may God have mercy on you, and I forgive you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It was extraordinary.

    MARK SHIELDS: It is. These are people of faith. These are people who do practice their faith. And it’s a lot more than preaching.

    What hit me, Judy, was President Obama, who some of his greatest and most eloquent moments have been at times of crisis and tragedy and sort of putting things in perspective, how yesterday almost seemed — making the announcement, dispirited and a sense of resignation.

    And there was a little feeling, I think. For example, after the Birmingham church in 1963, when the four little girls were blown up in Sunday school, there was a moment in the country. You could feel it, an inflection moment, where we moved on civil rights. The passage of the 1964 act was almost assured by that terrible, terrible, inhuman act.

    But that was — so there was a sense that we were moving in a direction. After Newtown and after the slaughter of the innocents there and the teachers, where 90 percent of Americans endorsed a background check, three-quarters of NRA members, according to polls, endorsed universal background checks, and nothing happened.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On guns.

    MARK SHIELDS: On guns. And nothing happened.

    There’s a sense of, how many more, the enormity of it, what’s it going to take? And so I just think there was a — there was really just sort of a sadness that permeated everything. And for him to sit — for this alleged killer to sit there for an hour while these people welcome him into their church and the Bible study, and then to do it, I mean, it’s beyond comprehension.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s beyond — beyond any words.

    David, is this a moment when we look for something to happen on guns? And there’s a lot of debate today about the Confederate Flag, about whether the rules are too loose about where they can be displayed.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I’m for taking — I’m for getting rid of the Confederate Flag on simple neighborliness grounds.

    If a group of people is offended by it, that should be enough. That should be enough. We are good citizens to each other and we do not things that offend other people in symbolic ways.

    As for guns, I personally support most of the legislation. I’m a little skeptical that anything will happen, simply because I look at past history. We have a lot of veto groups in our society and veto groups are able to veto legislation. I also frankly doubt the efficacy of it. There are hundreds of millions of guns in this country. How we’re going to get rid of them all has always been a question for me.

    I do think some things need to be done with — as neighbors in these communities, when we should become more alert to these solitary young men. There are a certain number of young men who, in their late teens, are drifting out of society and somebody must be noticing them. And it’s up to us as family members, as neighbors to say, that’s a potential problem.

    And this was a kid who was sending out some signals with the arrest at the mall and the other things he was doing, bizarre behavior, sort of stalking behavior, the photograph on Facebook with the Rhodesian flag. That’s sort of up to all of us to be alert to that sort of case.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: Excuse me.

    Keeping an eye on the people around us.

    MARK SHIELDS: No, I don’t disagree at all on that.

    But as far, Judy, as the Confederate Flag — first of all, the background checks. Lindsey Graham — and I don’t mean to hurt his presidential campaign — but he said there are at least a million Americans with determined and adjudicated mental health problems who aren’t even in the registry for guns.

    And he made the point that the background checks, to his credit. I don’t know. The Confederate Flag, it was a debated issue in 2014 in the gubernatorial race in South Carolina. Nikki Haley was for keeping it. She won. The Democrat then, Sheheen, was for taking it down. He lost.

    I don’t want to say it’s a resolved issue, but it’s gone up in 1962, which was right in the middle of the Civil Rights Act, when an all-white legislature deemed that it be elevated. So, I don’t — I don’t know any action that’s going to happen on that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, you both, I think, have touched on 2016.

    Turning the corner, we had two new candidates officially jump in the race this week, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, two very different people, David. What are we to make of both of them? Where does this leave the campaign, the Republican field?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, it’s a sign that flamboyance is not necessarily a sign of good candidates.

    The Bush question is to me a great mystery. He has all the backing. He has all — he has the name recognition. He’s got a great record as governor. He doesn’t seem to have a lot of support so far.

    And so, while what I know of Governor Bush is that is a man who would really love and enjoy the actions of being president, the administrative actions — he’s an administrator. And I think in his campaign opening, he broadcast those skills, which he has. He would be a good administrator.

    Whether he can be a good campaigner to rally the country, that’s still waiting to be seen. I thought the opening was good, but it’s remarkable how he’s not in the position he really should be in, given the advantage that he has, especially in places like Iowa and around the country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What about Governor Bush?

    MARK SHIELDS: Jeb Bush — everybody, when they make an announcement, wants it to be this multiethnic pageant.

    In this case, it’s seemed genuine. The black pastor who gave the invocation knew him personally, endorsed him personally. The Spanish-speaking people who endorsed him knew him personally. The woman with a disabled child spoke on personal terms of what he had done.

    I mean, it was a — he spoke in Spanish. I mean, there was a sense of genuineness. He had stumbled, I thought, badly. He came in the race very formidably. He had muscled out Mitt Romney, who was thinking about getting in, by preempting support and financial support and political support.

    And then he just seemed to stumble. They didn’t know who he was for sure. And he certainly has not handled the family question or Iraq questions well. So, I think this kind of gave him a relaunch. But I think David’s point is a valid one about whether in fact that the chemistry is there, whether he connects with people. And he’s got a high, high unfavorable in places like Iowa among Republican voters.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Unfavorable?

    MARK SHIELDS: Unfavorable, yes.


    MARK SHIELDS: The other fellow was…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Donald Trump?

    MARK SHIELDS: Donald Trump. If he had took the first person singular pronoun out of his announcement, it would have lasted about four minutes. It was a great testimony to the unimportance of humility in national politics.

    DAVID BROOKS: I don’t think he’s going to get any air. I think the field is so rich, that he’s going to be squeezed out.

    I think he will just be a sideshow which — and barely noticed, except for on a really slow news day.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, something we did notice this week was the pope. He essentially came out, David, with an unprecedented statement, encyclical, they call it, on the environment, very powerful statement about the human role in causing climate change, and saying the rich nations in particular have a responsibility to do something.

    Is this going to change the debate? Is it going to change minds, change policy, change politicians?

    DAVID BROOKS: I doubt it. I personally thought the statement was beautiful, theologically beautiful, the seamless fabric of life and how we’re all connected to each other.

    It’s a part of — a beautiful expression of Catholic theology and a beautiful expression for all of us of our interconnectedness. It also reminded me the Catholic Church is actually amazingly consistent on abortion, on the death penalty, on the environment. The valuing the life is — the church is so consistent on this emphasis, but our parties are sort of inconsistent on these different issues.

    So, I thought it made me feel environmental, because he connected our role in the cosmos and our role in nature in, I thought, a very beautiful way. Of course, I would have some different emphasis than he did on some of the policy stuff. The church, to my mind, demeans capitalism too much, a force which has reasonably lifted 300 million or 400 million people out of poverty.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: He was tough on capitalism.

    DAVID BROOKS: And so I think that he under values that.

    But, nonetheless, the theology of it was beautiful. The policy, to me, was — well, it was too left-wing.

    MARK SHIELDS: As a practicing and manifestly imperfect Catholic, I confess that I’m an uncritical fan of Pope Francis.

    He approaches every single problem the same way, from the bottom up. He wasn’t a diplomat. He wasn’t a church technocrat. He was not somebody powerful. He was a pastor in Buenos Aires, even though he was archbishop. And everybody who visited him said the same thing. He would take you to the slums.

    And that’s — he sees the world there. And when it comes to the environment, Judy, if you have got a private plane, you can get to clean air. You can get to Aspen, Colorado. You can get to Martha’s Vineyard. You can get to clean water.

    But the poor people — and talk about capitalism — the poor people don’t have an option. And they’re the ones who contribute the least to the pollution and suffer the most.

    And I just thought that the way he formulated — we — in defense of the powerless economically and the defenseless planet, that there is a common good that all of us have a responsibility for. I just thought it was persuasive.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just 20 seconds. Do you see it changing minds? Do you see it changing the Republican position, Republican Party position on this issue?

    MARK SHIELDS: He is the most popular person in the world. Every politician wants to associate with him.

    He’s going to make it uncomfortable for both sides. And — but I think it’s going to be impossible to ignore poverty as an issue, and I think as well the environment.

    DAVID BROOKS: And maybe Brazil, other nations might be affected.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you.

    The post Shields & Brooks on church shooting, Pope’s environmentalism appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0

    CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 19: People mourn together in front of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church after a mass shooting at the church that killed nine people of June 19, 2015. A 21-year-old white gunman is suspected of killing nine people during a prayer meeting in the church, which is one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Shockwaves from the murders at a black church kept rippling across Charleston, South Carolina, and the nation today. A police affidavit said the gunman shot his victims multiple times, but several tearful family members offered him forgiveness.

    Hari Sreenivasan has our report.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All through the day, a memorial of flowers, balloons, and notes kept growing outside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. People streamed to the site, popularly known as Mother Emanuel, many of them still shaken by Tuesday night’s mass shooting.

    MARY SMALLS, Member, Emanuel AME Church: The oldest lady who got killed in this church was my momma’s girlfriend. They was in the choir together. And just — this hurts a lot, because this is a family church. I can’t take it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Charleston’s mayor of 40 years, Joseph Riley, was also there, condemning the killings and defending his city.

    JOSEPH RILEY, Mayor of Charleston, South Carolina: This hateful person came into this community with some crazy idea he would be able to divide, and all he did was make us more united and love each other even more.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The city plans a vigil tonight for the victims. In all, nine people died in the attack, among them, the church’s minister, Clementa Pinckney, who was also a state senator.

    The accused gunman, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, was caught yesterday in Shelby, North Carolina, more than 200 miles away, and flown back to Charleston. He appeared today via video link at a bond hearing on nine counts of murder and weapons charges. Some of the victims’ relatives, appearing off-camera, made tearful statements of grief and forgiveness.

    NADINE COLLIER, Daughter of Victim: You took something really precious away from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you and have mercy on your soul.

    You have hurt me. You have hurt a lot of people. But God forgives you, and I forgive you.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Roof said little, and was ordered held on $1 million bond.

    Afterward, solicitor Scarlett Wilson promised a vigorous prosecution.

    SCARLETT WILSON, South Carolina Solicitor: My mission is to serve justice for this community and especially for the victims in this case. And we will do it efficiently and effectively, and we will do it behind the scenes, so that we can be successful.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: It was widely reported that Roof confessed to the shootings, and that he hoped to trigger a race war. A one-time friend, Joey Meek, says he talked to Roof just recently.

    JOEY MEEK, Former Friend of Dylann Roof: It was a race thing, because he had told me that he — that the black people was taking over the country and that the — that he wanted it to be segregation, that white-on-black — or white with the white and the black with the black.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Even so, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican presidential candidate, joined visitors to the church, still struggling to understand.

    SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), Presidential Candidate: Crazy people abound. And that’s what this guy was, a crazy guy, not in terms of being mentally incompetent, just being mean and hateful and crazy. I can’t explain it. There’s just no way I can explain what would motivate a person to do this.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Whatever the explanation, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley told NBC today there’s only one way the case can end.

    GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), South Carolina: These are nine families that are struggling. This is a state that is hurt by the fact that nine people innocently were killed. We will — absolutely will want him to have the death penalty.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Far from Charleston, the tragedy sparked an outpouring of sympathy and cries for action from around the country. In Philadelphia last night, Christians, Jews and Muslims joined for an interfaith service.

    MAN: To me, it’s a senseless crime that needs to end. At this point, this has to end.

    WOMAN: We need to take this as a point to walk more in love in our community and less in hate, but not just to sit idly by on the sidewalk, sideline and just be sad about it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Even comedian and Daily Show” host Jon Stewart pushed jokes aside.

    JON STEWART, Host, “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart”: I honestly have — have nothing, other than just sadness once again that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other in the nexus of a just gaping racial wound that will not heal, yet we pretend doesn’t exist.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Back in South Carolina today, the NAACP called for the Confederate Flag to be removed from the state capitol grounds in Columbia, a longstanding issue in the state.

    For “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Hari Sreenivasan.

    The post South Carolina still reeling after devastating hate crime appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0

    A man walks by a farm in San Antonio de los Banos, Cuba, on Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014. Cuba, which had been pushing to attract more foreign investment in agriculture even before U.S. President Obama's announcement normalizing relations, could become a significant market for companies like Caterpillar Inc. Photographer: Bloomberg

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now the conclusion to our series on Cuba.

    All week long, we have showed you ways in which that country is dealing with significant shifts in business, arts, culture, and society.

    Tonight, Jeffrey Brown reports about an industry where Cuba has been a leader, organic farming. Its growth was born out of necessity. But now its approach is attracting attention in the U.S. and other places. It’s part of our stories on The Cuban Evolution.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In Cuba, and now beyond, Miguel Salcines is recognized as a pioneer of organic farming.

    He’s a founder of Vivero Alamar Farm, 27 acres on Havana’s outskirts, a small parcel of land, but one that produces food for 80,000 residents in the surrounding community. When Salcines talks of a revolution, it’s not the one Fidel Castro led in the 1950s.

    MIGUEL SALCINES, Founder, Vivero Alamar Farm (through translator): The country has had a green revolution in farming since the use of chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides. At Alamar, our food production is without chemicals entirely.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In fact, this is one of some 10,000 urban organic farms in Cuba. It’s part of a well-organized system here that’s gained attention as a model for other parts of the world and daily attracts experts and foodies, like this group of Americans on a recent tour.

    MIGUEL SALCINES (through translator): This is like a school, because people from other countries that come to Cuba, they want to learn about Cuban agriculture. They already had like students from 15 different countries.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But Cuba’s role as a leader in organic farming didn’t come from a concern over its carbon footprint, or a desire to rid chemicals from everyday food. Cuba stopped using chemicals because the chemicals disappeared.

    NARRATOR: The people in Cuba are living in a crisis.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It began in 1991, what the government euphemistically called a special period, when the Soviet Union collapsed and Cuba lost its major supplier of fuel, fertilizer and food.

    MAN: People are just fed up with period special.

    JEFFREY BROWN: This 1993 documentary captured the pain and chaos of those years, when it’s estimated individual Cubans lost an average of 10 to 15 pounds.

    NARRATOR: People queue in line for hours at a time for a few basic essentials. These people were waiting for pieces of bread. Others would stand in long lines for two heads of cabbage.

    MIGUEL SALCINES (through translator): It was a matter of urgency. It was a huge challenge, since we were importing more than 80 percent of the food consumed by Cubans. We needed to produce our own food.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Farmers were without fertilizers, pesticides, or fuel for tractors. In an effort to stave off hunger, the Cuban government gave state-owned farmland to anyone who promised to grow food.

    Vivero Alamar was created by people who lived in the surrounding community. Many well remember the special period.

    FELIX CUVILLAS DULCAN, Cuba (through translator): I am 56 years old. We had a rough period here in the ’90s. We had needs. We were hungry, but not dying of hunger.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Jason Reis, who has an organic farm in Brooklyn, New York, helped lead the tour we joined.

    JASON REIS, Farmer: The older people taught the younger people in that time period in the ’90s how to use the traditional techniques of growing food, when there was no access to chemicals.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What do you see when you look at this place?

    JASON REIS: I see a great example of permaculture and organic farming practices. They’re using a lot of interplanting, and a lot of natural insecticides. They’re using marigolds to attract the pollinators. And it’s not a monoculture. It’s not a field full of corn or soy like we see in the U.S.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Beds of worms are bred to break down manure into nutrient-rich compost. Juan Andres Rodriguez has worked here for nine years.

    JUAN ANDRES RODRIGUEZ (through translator): It’s very hard work. It takes a lot of love.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The vegetables and fruits are sold on the premises to people in the neighborhood.

    Is it possible to feed the whole city, to feed Havana?

    MIGUEL SALCINES (through translator): It would be a dream to say you can do that, because it requires a lot of resources that are not available right now.

    But what we can say is that we have improved the diet of Cubans, and the healthy diet of Cubans. There’s a lot of fiber, and a lot of good nutrients that we didn’t have before.

    JAMIE DEROSA, Chef: I need green coconuts for the dinner tonight.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Indeed, one member of the tour of American foodies Jamie DeRosa, a well-known Miami chef.

    JAMIE DEROSA: We took the lobster. We cleaned it. We poached it slowly just for a few minutes with rum, and fresh coconut, and lime.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And he told me later he was impressed by what he’d seen.

    JAMIE DEROSA: It’s interesting to see a country with less resources than we have doing the very same farming we are just now becoming great at. The lettuces were great. The herbs were great. To see a greenhouse growing heirloom tomatoes, it is fantastic. I mean, it really was.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But questions loom, as diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba improve, and American agriculture and food companies look for commercial opportunities on the island.

    JASON REIS: I was just talking to our guide at the farm here, and she says that genetically modified organisms are outlawed in Cuba. They’re not allowed. However, chemicals may be allowed.

    And I don’t know what will happen if the American agriculture companies get in here, and are able to sell their products, if it’s going to continue like this organic model, or if it’s going to look a lot more like what we see in the U.S. I really — I really don’t know what’s going to happen.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Miguel Salcines says farming here will change, but he hopes the focus on organic methods continues.

    MIGUEL SALCINES (through translator): The use of chemicals is inevitable. The chemists are going to return. What we have to know is to what extent, and use them as little as possible, and try to continue to emphasize organic agriculture.

    JEFFREY BROWN: From Alamar, Cuba, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the “PBS NewsHour.”

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Chef Jamie DeRosa shared one of the recipes he prepared that evening at the foodie event, lobster seviche with guava. And you can find that on our home page. Also there, catch up on all of our Cuba reports from this week, including photo galleries and a travel guide. That’s at PBS.org/NewsHour.

    The post What Cuba can teach America about organic farming appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during his press conference in Tehran on June 13, 2015. There are still "many differences over details" of a nuclear deal Iran and world powers are trying to conclude by June 30, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said.  AFP PHOTO / BEHROUZ MEHRI        (Photo credit should read BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program are coming down to the wire, with unresolved issues still hanging over the process.

    Gwen Ifill has our update, and a newsmaker interview with the secretary of energy, Ernest Moniz.

    GWEN IFILL: The final deadline in the Iran talks arrives in less than two weeks, and, according to Secretary of State John Kerry, a principal hurdle remains: access to Iran’s nuclear-related military activities.

    JOHN KERRY, U.S. Secretary of State: Access is very, very critical. It’s always been critical from day one. It remains critical.

    GWEN IFILL: Kerry spoke Tuesday from Boston, where he was recovering from surgery to repair a badly broken leg.

    JOHN KERRY: It’s critical to us to know that, going forward, those activities have been stopped, and that we can account for that in a legitimate way.

    That clearly is one of the requirements, in our judgment, for what has to be achieved in order to have a legitimate agreement.

    GWEN IFILL: Negotiations have continued since a political framework was agreed upon in early April.

    Interpretations of that deal diverged sharply between the Iranians and the so-called P5-plus-one, the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, plus Germany. But Tehran has staked out a firm position against allowing inspections of its military sites or interviews with its nuclear scientists, beginning with the supreme leader.

    AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI, Supreme Leader of Iran (through translator): We have said that we will not allow any inspections of Iranian military centers by any foreigners to take place. They say we should let them interview our nuclear scientists. I will not allow this.

    GWEN IFILL: Last Saturday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, who is subordinate to the supreme leader, said the negotiating process runs the risk of falling apart.

    HASSAN ROUHANI, Iranian President (through translator): If the other side can honor the previously reached framework, instead of incessantly posing new demands, I think we can achieve a deal. But if the negotiation is turned into an endless bargaining, this will be very likely to postpone the negotiation progress.

    GWEN IFILL: The American point man on the nuclear science involved is Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. He’s a trained physicist who’s been deeply involved in the negotiating process as it hurtles toward the June 30 deadline. I spoke with him yesterday.

    Secretary Moniz, thank you for joining us.

    So, we know about this June 30 deadline that we’re now building up to. Is it a real deadline?

    ERNEST MONIZ, U.S. Energy Secretary: Well, we certainly want to meet June 30.

    We have lots of reasons to do so, including, of course, our subsequent interactions with the Congress, reporting to them. So, we’re pushing hard. We have had six technical meetings since Lausanne. We have had several political level meetings.

    Secretary Kerry and I were in Geneva a couple weeks ago, just prior to his unfortunate bike accident. And we expect we will be back soon to try to finish the deal.

    GWEN IFILL: But what’s the deal? Is it a deal to get a deal or is it a deal to actually button this whole thing up?

    ERNEST MONIZ: Oh, no, we are aiming to complete the deal, to see to it that we and our partners, the P5-plus-one, will have a deal where we will have confidence that Iran’s program is peaceful. We will have the ability to determine quickly if it is not, and then take proper responses.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s walk through some of the outstanding issues, because they are not minor ones.

    For instance, assertions that Iran is secretly still trying to work on its nuclear program, any sense of that?

    ERNEST MONIZ: Well, first of all, transparency and verification is the basis really of the entire agreement.

    So, we will — we have already agreed to some extraordinary measures, including insight into what is called the entire supply chain for uranium, up through enrichment. We will have that kind of access for a long time. So, I think we will have really extraordinary verification measures. And that is what ultimately will be the basis of shutting off any option for a covert attempt at a weapon.

    GWEN IFILL: The supreme leader of Iran has said, for instance, that your goal is to allow full and fair and free inspections of things like military sites. And he has said, no, that’s not going to happen. He said, no, you’re not going to interview our military scientists.

    How do you cope with that? How do you get over that hump?

    ERNEST MONIZ: Clearly, we need to have the verification that I just described.

    With regard to scientists, another part of the nuclear dimensions of this deal must be to resolve the questions of so-called PMD, possible military dimensions. And, there, access to interviews by the IAEA, not by us, but by the IAEA, will be essential, both access to individuals and to sites.

    GWEN IFILL: Is it a deal-breaker if they keep saying no?

    ERNEST MONIZ: Absolutely.

    The way I look at this agreement is, it will be a chance, over a long period of time, for Iran to demonstrate that it — that, certainly going forward, its intentions will be entirely peaceful.

    GWEN IFILL: Many members of Congress are cynical about the idea of even suggesting that sanctions be eased, with the assumption that Iran keeps these promises, even if they make them.

    What are you saying to members of Congress at this point?

    ERNEST MONIZ: That the best offense that we have, if you like, is a really good deal.

    And since Lausanne, we have spent a lot of time explaining the technical dimensions that were agreed upon. I think there’s been general surprise, in a pleasant sense, from Congress and from others at the specificity of what we managed to negotiate up to Lausanne, still some tough issues.

    For example, the exact phasing of how sanctions are relieved in return for Iran meeting its obligations on the nuclear parameters, I will be honest, that’s part of what we still have to kind of nail down over the next two weeks.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, and also the IAEA, which you mentioned, shortly ago, put out a report not long ago saying that Iran’s stockpile of nuclear weapons material is increasing, not decreasing.

    That doesn’t seem to — doesn’t seem like it’s aimed at restoring the faith of members of Congress who don’t think this is a credible deal.

    ERNEST MONIZ: I think we have explained that completely. And, frankly, there’s no news there.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, explain it to me.

    ERNEST MONIZ: The IAEA has confirmed that Iran has met all of its obligations under this temporary agreement.

    The fact is that we fully expect that, assuming we reach an agreement, when it comes into effect, they will have the order of 12,000 kilograms of enriched uranium. But in the agreement, they must bring that down to 300 kilograms, and even then at a lower enrichment than they now…


    GWEN IFILL: How do they do that?

    ERNEST MONIZ: There’s a couple of ways, basically.

    One way is to dilute the uranium with natural or depleted uranium. And the other way, frankly, the simpler way, in my view, is to send it out of the country.

    GWEN IFILL: You’re a physicist. You’re not a politician, necessarily, even though you play politics on TV sometimes.

    What exactly has to happen to separate the political from the technical in a very complicated deal like this? Because, as you well know, domestically and internationally, the politics could sink it, as much as the technology.

    ERNEST MONIZ: Well, first of all, there are some very high-level issues which the president has to resolve, for example, the decision to seek an agreement that specifically addresses the nuclear weapon issue.

    So, some have talked about that as a strategy. But we are committed to that. We have worked seamlessly to weave together the intersecting technical and geopolitical issues. That will be the art that we will have to perfect in the next couple of weeks.

    GWEN IFILL: I will say.

    And you — Secretary Kerry, as far as you know, will be well enough to travel to Vienna next week?

    ERNEST MONIZ: Yes. I visited him last Saturday, when we were both in Boston. And he’s looking well. He’s back in D.C. now. And he’s ready to go.


    Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, thank you very much.

    ERNEST MONIZ: Thank you, Gwen.

    The post As Iran nuke deadline looms, is a deal likely? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0


    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news, prosecutors in the 2012 Colorado mass shooting case wrapped up eight weeks of testimony against James Holmes. He’s charged with killing 12 people and wounding 70 at a midnight movie showing. He’s pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The defense case begins next Thursday.

    Medium- and heavy-duty trucks will have to get more fuel-efficient and cut carbon dioxide emissions further, under new rules proposed by the Obama administration. The Environmental Protection Agency made the new regulations public today. They call for a 24 percent cut in emissions for trucks, buses, tractor-trailers, and vans by 2027. Those vehicles account for one-fifth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

    Acts of terror spiked last year, as Islamist militants stepped up their deadly campaigns. The State Department says attacks shot up 35 percent, led by a spurt of violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Deaths from such attacks rose roughly 80 percent, to almost 33,000.

    But the department’s coordinator for counterterrorism said today that doesn’t mean U.S. policies have failed.

    TINA KAIDANOW, State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism: It’s one way, but not the sole way, of addressing the effectiveness of our efforts. I think by any standard that you set, you can look at that and you can say that we have made progress. Have we done everything that can be done in order to push back on these groups? Clearly not.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The report cites the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and Boko Haram in Nigeria as the main forces driving terror attacks.

    Greece edged ever closer to default today, with still no sign of any deal for a new bailout. Eurozone leaders now plan an emergency summit on Monday, in a bid to break the deadlock. Meanwhile, Greek banks are hemorrhaging cash.

    Paul Mason of Independent Television News filed this report.

    PAUL MASON: The Greek banking system made it through to closing time on Friday, just. The bank got a reported three billion euros of emergency funds from the European Central Bank this afternoon, on top of 1.1 billion on Wednesday.

    But, in the last five days, around the same amount has been withdrawn. People here realize finally that next Monday is the crunch. If there’s no deal between Greece and its lenders, the country will most likely default on its debts. And after that, warns the Central Bank, comes a slump and possible exit from the Eurozone.

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was in Russia today. Though Greece has remained in NATO under the left, it feels abandoned by its allies. And with a Russian pipeline deal just signed, he is keeping diplomatic options open.

    ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Greek Prime Minister (through translator): Let’s be serious. The so-called Greek problem is not a Greek problem, but European. The name of the problem is not Greece. It’s Eurozone and it concerns its structure.

    PAUL MASON: For Vladimir Putin, whose diplomatic aim is a divided and weakened Europe, the look of satisfaction didn’t need to be forced.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Greece faces a huge debt repayment at month’s end, but doesn’t have the funds.

    Back in this country, the Congressional Budget Office now says repealing the Affordable Care Act will increase the number of Americans without health insurance by 24 million. The analysis also says the repeal would boost the economy, at least for a time. But it projected it would ultimately add nearly $140 billion to the deficit.

    Wall Street had a deficit of confidence today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 100 points to close at 18014. The Nasdaq fell 16 points, and the S&P 500 slipped 11. For the week, the Dow and the S&P rose more than half-a-percent. The Nasdaq rose a full percent.

    And cable TV pioneer Ralph Roberts has died. Starting in the 1960s, he built Comcast into the nation’s largest provider of cable TV and home Internet service. Today, it also owns the NBC Network, Universal Pictures and theme parks.  Ralph Roberts was 95 years old.

    The post News Wrap: Will Greece reach loan agreement in time? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0

    Vladimir Putin

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin today blamed NATO ambitions to expand and the United States for fanning the flames of conflict in Ukraine. He did that at an international economic conference held in St. Petersburg.

    Part of the program featured an interview with Putin by PBS’ own Charlie Rose.

    Seated in front of an audience of businesspeople, political leaders and journalists, the Russian president blamed the West for the conflict in Ukraine.

    CHARLIE ROSE, Host, “The Charlie Rose Show”: Help us understand, as you see it, where are we, how did we get there, and where do we go from here?

    VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russian President (through translator): Why is there a crisis in Ukraine?

    I was quite confident after the bipolar system went into oblivion and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, certain Western partners of ours, particularly the United States, were in a kind of euphoria, and instead of trying to create a new situation, good neighborly partner relations, they started to explore new free geopolitical spaces — well, free in their view. And that is why we are witnessing the expansion of NATO eastwards.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I spoke to Charlie Rose immediately following his question-and-answer session with President Putin.

    Charlie, you pressed him about what he thinks Ukraine needs to do defuse the situation. What did he say?

    CHARLIE ROSE: Well, he said they need to talk the people — that the people in Kiev need to talk to the separatists.

    I mean, that has been — it’s not a new idea from him. He has always said that, that they need to have real conversations between the separatists and — I think he obviously feels some affinity. And I raised the question, were they helping the situation by supplying arms to the separatists, by in some cases engagement of Russian soldiers and other weapons — I mean, other connections that Russia has to this?

    And I think Vladimir Putin, because of all of his experiences, has a real fear about being — about NATO being on his borders. He’s always had that. They had that with respect to Georgia and with respect to Ukraine. I think he probably worries that if a government in Ukraine was leaning East, it might — I mean leaning to the West — it might one more time entertain the idea of NATO membership, which he really, really — that’s the probably the thing that he dislikes the most.

    I think the headline from this, he really believes that the United States and Russia should be talking, that they ought to be having a dialogue about Ukraine and other issues.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what did he say about that? You asked him about the increasing tension in the relationship between the West and Russia. What did he say about that?

    CHARLIE ROSE: Most of his animus is towards the government in Kiev.

    As you know, in previous times, he has said that he thinks that the demonstration that overthrew the president of Ukraine who fled to Russia was a — sponsored in part by the United States and the West, the U.S. CIA.

    I think that most people believe that Russia, because of its — it has regained some of its military strength. And they do rattle the saber a bit. It wants to be a player. They want to be respected, which I raised with him. And he in a sense said, well, we are respected. Everybody wants to be respected.

    But there is deep within him the sense that, after the collapse in ’91, that Russia wants to regain its status as a big-time player in the world.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Would you say that being respected or not being respected is a new concern, is a new posture on his part?

    CHARLIE ROSE: The fact that he did say it the way he did suggests that he thinks about it. And I think that pride for him and for other people, I mean, you know, Russia was a superpower. And then, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, all of a sudden, they were not a superpower.

    In fact, their economy was in terrible shape, and they had a whole range of cataclysmic changes in their economy, and state ownership and all kinds of oligarchs came forward. And Russia has been trying to recapture some of its global presence.

    He cares about borders, he cares about respect, and he cares about conversations. He wants to be talked to. He wants to be considered a primary player.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Charlie Rose, talking to us from St. Petersburg, the site of this economic summit, Charlie, thank you, and travel safely.

    CHARLIE ROSE: Thank you, Judy.

    The post Charlie Rose on how Vladimir Putin sees the world appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0

    Blake Scherrer looks at a Barrett .50 caliber rifle in the trade booths showroom during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 12, 2015. Despite the severity of the Charleston shooting, and other recent mass shootings, national leaders expect changes to gun ownership laws by Congress to be unlikely. Photo by Harrison McClary/Reuters

    Blake Scherrer looks at a Barrett .50 caliber rifle in the trade booths showroom during the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 12, 2015. National leaders say Congressional action on gun control is unlikely. Photo by Harrison McClary/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — This week’s slaughter of nine people in a South Carolina church left prospects that Congress will curb guns right where they’ve been for years – remote for now, according to lawmakers and activists on both sides of the issue.

    Conceding that congressional action was unlikely soon, President Barack Obama said lawmakers will tighten federal firearms restrictions when they believe the public is demanding it.

    “I am not resigned,” Obama told the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco on Friday. “I have faith we will eventually do the right thing.”

    Others said there was little evidence that Wednesday’s killing of nine black parishioners by the white alleged gunman, Dylann Storm Roof, would make congressional action more likely, considering recent history.

    “I’m skeptical it’s going to change peoples’ minds who weren’t converted by Newtown,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. Murphy was part of the Senate’s failed efforts to strengthen background checks following the 2012 massacre of 26 children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

    If anything, the odds of congressional action seem slimmer with both the House and Senate dominated by Republicans, who traditionally have been less sympathetic to curbs on gun ownership. When the Senate rejected firearms constraints in 2013 prompted by Newtown, the chamber was led by Democrats.

    “He couldn’t get it going after Sandy Hook with Democratic control” of the Senate, Erich Pratt, spokesman for Gun Owners of America, a gun rights group, said about Obama. “He won’t get it going with Republican control.”

    Investigators were just starting to gather facts about Wednesday’s shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. Roof, 21, faced nine counts of murder, and the Justice Department said it was investigating whether to classify the attack as a hate crime or even domestic terrorism.

    “The question remains how we keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them without violating the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. “There’s ample time to learn more about what happened and debate ways to prevent these kinds of senseless acts.”

    Murphy and others blamed the potency of the National Rifle Association for Congress’ unwillingness to restrict firearms.

    “Congress has failed to act because it’s filled with too many lapdogs for the gun lobby,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

    NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam would not address whether the Charleston shootings would change lawmakers’ attitudes, saying, “As the NRA has done for decades, we will not comment until all the facts are known.”

    In 2013, the Senate’s bipartisan attempt to require background checks of all firearms purchasers at gun shows and on the Internet failed by a 54-46 vote. That was six short of the 60 votes needed to break a Republican filibuster against the bill.

    A similar measure never reached the floor of the GOP-controlled House.

    “I’d like to say these shootings in Charleston will be a turning point, enough for Congress to fight back against the gun lobby and take some serious action about gun laws. But I don’t want to be naive,” said Chelsea Parsons, who oversees gun policy for the liberal Center for American Progress.

    Donald Stewart, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said McConnell had spoken twice Thursday on the Senate floor about Charleston but mentioned no legislation. Kevin Smith, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, did not immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment.

    A check of the Congressional Record shows that while several legislators took to the House and Senate floors Thursday to express their sadness over the nine deaths in South Carolina and offer condolences, none called for federal legislation curbing firearms. The word “gun” was spoken seven times while “background checks,” “gun control” and “firearms” were not uttered at all.

    Congress was not in session Friday.

    The post Congress unlikely to budge on guns following Charleston massacre appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0

    A man prays before Ramadan tarawih prayers at Assyafaah mosque in Singapore June 17, 2015. Photo by Edgar Su/Reuters

    A man prays before Ramadan tarawih prayers at Assyafaah mosque in Singapore on June 17, 2015. Photo by Edgar Su/Reuters

    The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began around the world on Wednesday evening. During Ramadan Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, reflect on their spirituality, and focus on prayer and charity.

    Unlike many other holidays, Ramadan follows the lunar calendar, which means that it’s not tied to a specific date in the Gregorian calendar.

    Youths clean the dome of a mosque ahead  of Ramadan in Jakarta, Indonesia on June 15, 2015. Photo by Beawiharta/Reuters

    Youths clean the dome of a mosque ahead of Ramadan in Jakarta, Indonesia on June 15, 2015. Photo by Beawiharta/Reuters

    Palestinians shop in a market ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on June 17, 2015. Photo by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters  - RTX1GW59

    Palestinians shop in a market ahead of the holy month of Ramadan in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on June 17, 2015. Photo by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

    A man adjusts his compass to find the proper direction before installing a theodolite to look for the new moon that will mark the start of Ramadan in Karachi, Pakistan on June 17, 2015. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    A man adjusts his compass to find the proper direction before installing a theodolite to look for the new moon that will mark the start of Ramadan in Karachi, Pakistan on June 17, 2015. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    A Syrian refugee shops at a market with his humanitarian aid vouchers in preparation for Ramadan at the Al-Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, on June 15, 2015. Photo by Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

    A Syrian refugee shops at a market with his humanitarian aid vouchers in preparation for Ramadan at the Al-Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, on June 15, 2015. Photo by Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

    Youths prepare cookies at a small traditional factory ahead of the holy month of Ramadan in Kabul, Afghanistan on June 17, 2015. Photo by Mohammad Ismail/Reuters

    Youths prepare cookies at a small traditional factory ahead of the holy month of Ramadan in Kabul, Afghanistan on June 17, 2015. Photo by Mohammad Ismail/Reuters

    A man reads the Quran at the Grand Mosque in Yemen's capital Sanaa ahead of the holy month of Ramadan on June 17, 2015. Photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

    A man reads the Quran at the Grand Mosque in Yemen’s capital Sanaa ahead of the holy month of Ramadan on June 17, 2015. Photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

    A Palestinian man hangs decorations for the upcoming holy month of Ramadan outside his home in Jerusalem's Old City on June 16, 2015.  Photo by Ammar Awad/Reuters

    A Palestinian man hangs decorations for the upcoming holy month of Ramadan outside his home in Jerusalem’s Old City on June 16, 2015. Photo by Ammar Awad/Reuters

    The post Photos: Muslims prepare for Ramadan around the world appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0

    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House campus in Washington March 25, 2015. If Obamacare is repealed, close to 24 million Americans will lose their health coverage. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. A nonpartisan government study says repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health care law would modestly increase the budget deficit and the number of uninsured Americans would rise by more than 20 million. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — A nonpartisan government study says repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health care law would modestly increase the budget deficit and the number of uninsured Americans would rise by more than 20 million.

    The report from the Congressional Budget Office comes ahead of a highly anticipated Supreme Court ruling that could have a major impact on the Affordable Care Act, nullifying health insurance subsidies for some 6 million people in more than 30 states. The budget analysts said that would add a host of new uncertainties to their estimates.

    Republicans now in control of both chambers of Congress say they are not backing away from their promise to repeal “Obamacare.”

    But repealing the law’s spending cuts and tax increases would add $137 billion to the federal deficit over the coming decade, CBO said in the report issued Friday, even though almost $1.7 trillion in coverage costs would disappear. Repeal would reduce deficits in the first few years but increase them steadily as time goes on.

    Repeal would up the number of uninsured people by about 24 million people, and the share of U.S. adults with health insurance would drop from roughly 90 percent now to about 82 percent, the report said.

    On the other side of the balance sheet, the report says that completely repealing the law would, on average, boost the economy by 0.7 percent a year after the start of the `20s. That’s mostly because more people would enter the workforce or work more hours to make up for the lack of government health care subsidies.

    But the positive economic effects of repeal would fade over time, the budget agency said, offset by the increased budget deficits. Repeal of the excise tax on high-cost plans is a major reason why deficits would increase in later years, because more and more plans would be hit by this “Cadillac tax.”

    The CBO provides lawmakers with nonpartisan budget and economic analysis. Republicans controlling Congress have increasingly asked the office to incorporate a broader range of potential economic consequences of major legislation into its work, and Friday’s report is the first major study released since GOP appointee Keith Hall took over as CBO director. CBO analysts always caution that their studies of legislation can be uncertain, especially over many years.

    Previously, CBO analyses would not have taken into account such a broad range of economic consequences. The agency said that using its earlier approach would have resulted in a bigger estimated impact on the deficit, an increase of $353 billion over the coming decade. Adding the economic factors cuts the repeal’s effect on the deficit by more than half over 10 years, the report says.

    The budget scorekeepers also offered a cautionary note to Congress: Obama’s law is by now so enmeshed with the health care system that uprooting it would create its own issues.

    “Implementing a repeal of the ACA would present major challenges,” the report said. “In the five years since its enactment, nearly every key provision of the law has taken effect and has been incorporated into final rules and other administrative actions. Undoing the ACA would thus be quite complicated.”

    Unwinding changes to Medicare would be particularly difficult, the CBO said.

    The health care law offers subsidized private health insurance policies to people who don’t have access to coverage on the job, along with an expanded version of Medicaid geared to low-income adults, in states that have accepted the expansion.

    If the law is repealed, about 18 million fewer people would have individual health insurance policies, and about 14 million fewer people would be covered under Medicaid, the report said. Gains in employer coverage would partially offset those losses, with 8 million more covered through job based insurance.

    About 30 million people are still uninsured, even after two full years of coverage expansion under the law.

    The study comes as Washington awaits the Supreme Court’s decision on subsidies.

    In a twist, the budget office suggested that if those subsidies are curtailed, it would reduce the projected savings from repealing the rest of the law. That’s because the government would not be spending money to subsidize coverage in the affected states.

    Conservatives who brought the lawsuit say the law’s literal wording prevents the federal government from subsidizing private health insurance premiums in states that failed to set up their own insurance markets. Most have not done so, reflecting continued political opposition to the program. The administration argues that the law intended subsidies to be available in all states.

    The Supreme Court is expected to issue the decision by the end of June.

    Republicans in control of the House and Senate have said that if the court strikes down subsidies in the mostly GOP-held states that would be affected, they would try to advance legislation to ease the immediate effect on people who would lose coverage.

    The post Study: Health care law repeal could increase budget deficit appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0

    Dylann Storm Roof, accused of murdering nine people in a South Carolina church, is pictured with a Confederate Flag in an image from a white supremacist website titled Last Rhodesian.

    Dylann Storm Roof, accused of murdering nine people in a Charleston, South Carolina church, is pictured with a Confederate flag in an image from a white supremacist website titled “Last Rhodesian.”

    A white supremacist website containing an unsigned manifesto as well as photographs of accused Charleston gunman Dylann Storm Roof surfaced across social media on Saturday.

    “I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country,” the manifesto reads. “We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”

    While currently unverified, the website features numerous images of Roof, and was registered under his name in February, according to The New York Times.

    A law enforcement official said that the FBI is investigating the purported manifesto, the AP reported.

    Dylann Storm Roof, accused of murdering nine people in a South Carolina church, is pictured with a Confederate Flag in an image from a white supremacist website titled Last Rhodesian.

    Dylann Storm Roof, accused of murdering nine people in a Charleston, South Carolina church, is pictured with a Confederate flag in an image from a white supremacist website titled “Last Rhodesian.”

    Images attached to the website, titled “Last Rhodesian,” depict Roof alone at a Confederate soldiers’ cemetery, with wax statues of slaves, burning the American flag, and in various poses with a gun and the Confederate flag.

    It is unclear who took the photographs.

    African Americans are not the only subject of the racist views put forward in the manifesto, though they are the primary target. The website also contains derogatory language against Jewish, Hispanic and East Asian people.

    The post Website emerges with photos of accused Charleston shooter, manifesto appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0

    Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting in San Francisco June 20, 2015. Photo by Stephen Lam/Reuters

    Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting in San Francisco June 20, 2015. Photo by Stephen Lam/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Issuing an emotional plea following the South Carolina church shooting, Hillary Rodham Clinton called for “common-sense” gun reforms and a national reckoning with the persistent problem of “institutional racism.”

    Three days after nine black church members were gunned down in Charleston, Clinton said the country must take steps to keep guns from criminals and the mentally ill.

    Regulations, she said, can be passed while still respecting the Second Amendment and “respecting responsible gun owners.”

    “The politics on this issue have been poisoned, but we can’t give up,” she told the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco on Saturday. “The stakes are too high. The costs are too dear.”

    In 2013 Congress rejected legislation that would have expanded background checks on firearm sales and banned some semi-automatic weapons.

    President Barack Obama has blamed the continued national political inaction on the issue on the influence of the National Rifle Association.

    While Clinton did not propose any specific legislation in her address, she’s previously supported limits on gun sales and extending the assault weapons ban.

    On Friday, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who’s challenging Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination, called for an assault weapons ban, stricter background checks and tougher requirements to buy a gun.

    “I’m pissed,” he wrote in an email to supporters. “It’s time we called this what it is: a national crisis.”

    Clinton’s remarks also marked a forceful entry into the heated topic of race relations, an issue that’s become a major theme of her campaign. Clinton called race a “deep fault line” in America, noting that “millions of people of color still experience racism in their everyday lives.”

    The problem of racism was not limited to “kooks and klansman,” she said, but included the off-hand, off-color joke; whites scared of young black men and not speaking up against poverty and discrimination.

    In previous appearances, Clinton has taken up a number of issues that are important to African-Americans, calling for changes to the criminal justice system, voting laws and assistance for minority small business owners. Her campaign is trying to motivate the coalition of minority, young and liberal voters that twice elected Obama to the White House.

    “We can’t hide from any of these hard truths about race and justice in America,” she said. “We have to name them and then own them and then change them.”

    Clinton’s address to the country’s mayors was her last stop on a cross-country tour, largely of early voting states, after formally launching her campaign a week ago in New York City. She spent Friday raising money at three fundraisers in Los Angeles, including one hosted by actor Tobey Maguire.

    The post Clinton: Congress should pass ‘common sense’ gun control legislation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0

    Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar, walk towards the Syrian border, on August 11, 2014. Photo by Rodi Said/Reuters

    Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar, walk towards the Syrian border, on August 11, 2014. Photo by Rodi Said/Reuters

    June 20 is World Refugee Day, a day of remembrance and awareness for the world’s forced migrants and refugees that was initiated by the United Nations in 2000.

    The UN Refugee Agency released a report on Thursday which said the number of displaced persons across the globe has reached an all-time high of nearly 60 million.

    A Syrian refugee reacts as he waits behind border fences to cross into Turkey at Akcakale border gate in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, June 15, 2015. Photo by Umit Bektas/Reuters

    A Syrian refugee reacts as he waits behind border fences to cross into Turkey at Akcakale border gate in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, June 15, 2015. Photo by Umit Bektas/Reuters

    The report said 86 percent of the world’s refugees are currently hosted in developing countries, rather than advanced economies.

    Turkey, Pakistan, and Lebanon are temporary homes to the greatest number of refugees.

    A child rescued from Boko Haram in Sambisa forest is treated at a clinic at the Internally Displaced People's camp in Yola, Nigeria, on May 3, 2015. Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

    A child rescued from Boko Haram in Sambisa forest is treated at a clinic at the Internally Displaced People’s camp in Yola, Nigeria, on May 3, 2015. Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

    “With 86 percent of all refugees living in the developing world, and with the humanitarian response system increasingly overstretched, international solidarity and burden-sharing are crucial in meeting the needs of displaced communities as well as their hosts,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in a statement.

    Local residents react as they watch their relatives board buses to flee the conflict in Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine, on February 6, 2015. Photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters

    Local residents react as they watch their relatives board buses to flee the conflict in Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine, on February 6, 2015. Photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters

    An aerial picture shows a section of the Hagadera camp in Dadaab, Kenya near the Kenya-Somalia border, May 8, 2015. Photo by Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

    An aerial picture shows a section of the Hagadera refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya near the Kenya-Somalia border, May 8, 2015. Photo by Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

    A woman carries her baby at a refugee camp in Kokang at Myanmar's border with China, on March 24, 2015. Photo by Wong Campion/Reuters

    A woman carries her baby at a refugee camp in Kokang at Myanmar’s border with China, on March 24, 2015. Photo by Wong Campion/Reuters

    The post Photos: Global refugee crisis reaches all-time high appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0

    U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and China's Xi Jinping shake hands at the end of their news conference in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing November 12, 2014. The two country leaders will meet for annual talks in Washington next week. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    U.S. President Barack Obama and China’s Xi Jinping shake hands at the end of their news conference in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing November 12, 2014. The two country leaders will meet for annual talks in Washington next week. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Tensions between the U.S. and China are growing over its island-building in the South China Sea and over suspicions that Beijing was behind a massive hack into a federal government server that resulted in the theft of personnel and security clearance records of 14 million employees and contractors.

    But both powers have incentives to calm the waters ahead of the Chinese leader’s visit to Washington in the fall.

    The two countries’ top diplomats and finance officials meet here next week for the annual U.S.-China strategic and economic dialogue. The Obama administration says the two governments won’t be papering over their differences, but they are expected to accentuate the positive, stressing areas of cooperation, like climate change.

    Civilian and military officials will meet Monday to discuss thorny security issues. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew kick off two days of talks Tuesday with Vice Premier Wang Yang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi on a sprawling agenda, including plans for a bilateral investment treaty.

    China, in particular, is presenting the dialogue as a prelude to Xi Jinping’s visit to the White House slated for September, his first since becoming China’s president in 2013.

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang called it an opportunity to “push for new progress in the building of a new model of major power relationship,” the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Friday.

    But it’s a model with cracks in it. Relations between the world’s two largest economies, with their divergent political systems and priorities, rarely run smoothly. But recent months have been particularly rocky.

    China’s reclamation of more than 2,000 acres of land on disputed islands and atolls in the South China Sea since last year has raised international alarm over its territorial ambitions. Washington took the unusual step last month of publicizing a U.S. military surveillance flight that showed the massive scale of China’s island-building.

    China says the islands are its sovereignty territory, but Washington argues that the continuation of building work and militarization of the islands could enflame complex territorial disputes with China’s neighbors, with whom the U.S. is seeking to forge closer ties while preserving freedom of navigation in sea lanes crucial for world trade.

    “Nobody is interested in conflict here and there’s no reason why it needs to devolve into conflict. Again, that’s why next week’s meeting is so important,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday.

    Cybersecurity is another source of acrimony that’s up for discussion, given fresh urgency by the massive security breach that led to the theft of personal information of as many as 14 million current and former U.S. federal employees. The Obama administration believes that China’s government, not criminal hackers, was responsible for the breach that included detailed background information on military and intelligence personnel.

    China has denied involvement in the break-in and says it is also a victim of cyberattacks.

    The U.S. business community, meanwhile, is concerned that regulatory barriers in China are growing, not easing, despite Xi’s promise to advance economic reforms. Progress has been slow on the bilateral investment treaty the U.S. and China agreed to pursue two years ago, and China has reportedly submitted a long list of sectors it wants excluded.

    Daniel Russel, top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, said that the U.S. and China wouldn’t ignore their differences, including on human rights issues. Since taking power two years ago, Xi has consolidated China’s authoritarian system, squelching dissent and civil society.

    “We don’t always see eye to eye but the fact is global challenges require that we cooperate,” Russel told reporters Thursday, citing recent cooperation on fighting the Ebola virus in Africa, the transition in Afghanistan and diplomacy by world powers to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

    As the push for a global climate change deal intensifies ahead of a December summit of world leaders in Paris, President Barack Obama needs China’s support. Obama and Xi committed to curbing emissions when they met in Beijing in November, which environmentalists hailed as a sign that reluctant nations like China were finally getting on board.

    Climate change will be a “hot topic” at next week’s dialogue in Washington, China’s Xinhua agency said in Friday’s report. The South China Sea and cybersecurity didn’t get a mention.

    The post Upcoming U.S.-China talks may be strained by recent cyber attack appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0

    U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks at the opening of the 2015 National Action Network Convention in New York City April 8, 2015. Photo by Mike Segar

    U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at the opening of the 2015 National Action Network Convention in New York City April 8, 2015. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    INDIANOLA, Iowa — Bernie Sanders likes to call it “practicing democracy.” He doesn’t take the stage to a blaring soundtrack. He doesn’t have a teleprompter or a phalanx of Secret Service agents surrounding him. But when his Brooklyn accent booms out at a campaign stop in rural Iowa, heads nod along in approval.

    “What I’m doing in this campaign is trying to tell the people the truth – but a truth which is not heard a whole lot in Washington or discussed a lot in the media,” Sanders said recently at a picnic in Iowa’s Warren County, south of Des Moines.

    “So let me lay it out on the table for you,” he said. “You’re living in a country today which has more wealth and income inequality than any major industrialized nation on earth.”

    In a race for the Democratic presidential nomination with Hillary Rodham Clinton, the blunt talk about the economy and the gap between the rich and poor is working for Sanders. The independent senator from Vermont is an unconventional messenger at a time when many politicians test-drive what they want to say in polls and with focus groups.

    Sanders is drawing sizable crowds in the early voting states. He’s also gaining against Clinton in very early polls, particularly in New Hampshire, a factor that impresses the political class even though opinion surveys at this point are limited in predicting who will win.

    Clinton remains the race’s overwhelming favorite, but there’s no question that the 73-year-old self-described democratic socialist, whose disheveled white hair might remind some of Doc Brown from “Back to the Future,” isn’t just a novelty.

    “This is a unique individual,” said Iowa Democratic state Rep. Scott Ourth, who introduced Sanders last weekend at the picnic in Indianola. “This guy has only one standard. If it’s right for people, he’s going to fight for it. If it’s bad for people, he’s going to take a stand against it.”

    Drawing unexpectedly large crowds, the campaign has moved a town meeting planned in Las Vegas on Friday into a more spacious venue. About 5,000 people are expected at a rally Saturday at the University of Denver.

    “The challenge for us, really, is that at this point the crowds are way ahead of us,” said Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver.

    Sanders is running with a relentless focus on policy. He rarely talks about his family, other than mentioning his four children and 7 grandchildren when explaining the importance of confronting climate change. In Minneapolis he was joined on stage by his wife, Jane, and noted they had just celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary.

    He’s promoting a massive government-led jobs program to fix roads and bridges. He wants a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and higher taxes on the wealthy and Wall Street. He advocates for a single-payer health care system, an expansion of Social Security benefits and debt-free college.

    He’s combative, too.

    Sanders often points to some European and Scandinavian countries that provide subsidized or free education, universal health care and generous family leave policies as models for the U.S.

    While speaking to graduate students recently, Sanders asked a student from Finland whether his country is “crazy” to pay for his education. Then he grilled the students about U.S. policy on paid sick leave for new parents.

    “C’mon guys, you’re in graduate school!” he barked. “What are you teaching these guys? Do you know anything?”

    One woman yelled, “None,” meaning no national policy on such leave. Nodding, Sanders instructed the students that people in Finland get paid leave after they have children.

    “Ahhh. Now I want to get everybody very nervous,” Sanders said sarcastically. “This is called European socialism! Terrible, horrible, right? Because none of you want to be able to go to college and graduate school tuition-free.

    “None of you, when you have kids, want the opportunity to bond with your kids. Terrible! European socialism!”

    His speeches often reflect such a black-and-white view of the world. He rarely mentions that tax rates in such countries are far higher than in the U.S.

    It’s a style that couldn’t be more different than Clinton’s.

    Hours before the first major rally of her campaign, Clinton released a Spotify playlist of songs, featuring music by Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson and Sara Bareilles. One of her campaign Twitter feeds showed a green silhouette of her head wearing trendy headphones.

    Clinton has been traveling with Secret Service agents since her husband’s presidency in the 1990s.

    Sanders shows up at rallies and events with a small contingent of aides. In Indianola, he carried a folded piece of paper scrawled with notes while he spoke.

    Other presidential candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire will linger long after their speeches, trying to shake every hand and make a personal connection with a potential voter. Sanders doesn’t make a lot of small talk. After receiving a standing ovation in Indianola, he was stopped repeatedly for photos and handshakes – which he obliged – but he kept moving.

    “Very quickly, very quickly,” he said to one man requesting a photograph.

    For all of that, the woman he’s challenging is perhaps the most dominant front-runner within the party in a generation.

    “Clinton is going to be a safer bet,” said John MacBride, a 24-year-old Sanders supporter who drove from Kansas City to see him speak. “A lot of my peers think she’s a safer bet. But they like what he says better.”

    The post Sanders gaining against Clinton in early polls appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0

    Carved pieces of confiscated ivory are placed out to be crushed in New York's Times Square June 19, 2015. More than a ton of ivory confiscated from New York and Philadelphia was crushed in Times Square on Friday to show intolerance for elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade, federal wildlife authorities said.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid    - RTX1HAQA

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Finally tonight, saving the African elephant by destroying elephant ivory.

    Yesterday, more than one ton of illegal elephant ivory was put on display in the center of Times Square by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    DAN ASHE: This lifeless pile of tusks and trinkets and decorations is a stark reminder of the many thousands of elephants that have been slaughtered and continue to be slaughtered to support the global trade in ivory.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Elephant poaching for ivory is soaring according to conservation groups; a pound of ivory can fetch $1,500 on the black market and African elephants are already listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

    But the seized ivory was not there just to be looked at, it was there to be crushed. One by one the pieces were placed on a conveyer belt where they were dropped into an industrial rock crusher. The decorative ivory was turned into a fine powder.

    The idea was to show there will be no tolerance for the illegal ivory trade and demonstrate to poachers and collectors that living elephants are more valuable than their ivory.

    Yesterday was the sixth ivory crush in the last two years. And other countries have followed the U.S.’s lead, including China which is the largest market for ivory in the world. Chinese officials destroyed nearly 1,500 pounds of ivory in May.

    Azzedine Downes, who runs the International Fund for Animal Welfare, says raising public awareness through publicity events like this crush will help change behavior.

    AZZEDINE DOWNES: This is not a problem of conservation biology. It’s not a problem of conservation management. This is a problem that people can solve. Don’t buy ivory. That’s what’s going to stop the elephants from being killed.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And in case you missed it, be sure to check out NewsHour’s shortwave podcast for more on the illegal ivory trade in the U.S.

    The post ‘Lifeless pile of tusks’ crushed in NYC to protest ivory trade appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0

    Dylann Storm Roof appears by closed-circuit television at his bond hearing in Charleston, South Carolina June 19, 2015 in a still image from video. A 21-year-old white man has been charged with nine counts of murder in connection with an attack on a historic black South Carolina church, police said on Friday, and media reports said he had hoped to incite a race war in the United States. REUTERS/POOL - RTX1HBQ7

    Watch Video

    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Wednesday’s massacre draws attention to the estimated 260,000 suspected hate crimes that happened in America every year, according to the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Statistics.

    Helping to put this week’s attack into perspective is “Washington Post” reporter Christopher Ingraham, joining me from Baltimore.

    So, according to the FBI, violent crime numbers have steadily been declining over the last two decades. But what about hate crimes?

    CHRISTOPHER INGRAHAM, THE WASHINGTON POST: Hate crimes are basically flat, and that’s kind of an interesting — it’s an interesting slice of data. Basically, there are numbers from both the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. They show that — the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows there are about 300,000 hate crimes each year. And that’s been pretty steady going all the way back to 2004.

    And one of the really interesting things is that this number has held steady, even as the number of active hate groups in the United States has decreased, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. And one thing that a lot of people think is happening is it points to a rise so-called lone wolf actors, like potentially the situation in Charleston. And that’s a concerning development for law enforcement officials.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, are the targets still the same people, whether they’re from hate groups or lone wolves?

    CHRISTOPHER INGRAHAM: Yes. So, you know, the numbers and the rates seem to be pretty steady. Among racial groups, African-Americans experience the most hate crime. They’re the ones most likely to be targeted. They’re basically — their like chances of being target forward a hate attack are roughly double any other group and it’s more than 10 times that for white people.

    So, among racial groups, blacks are definitely the most targeted. You also see a fair amount of attacks based on gender towards gay men, and also a fair amount of attacks based on religion, towards Jewish people primarily.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And what about the veracity of the numbers? Is there a possibility for undercounting? You said there are multiple agencies that track this.

    CHRISTOPHER INGRAHAM: Absolutely. So, the FBI’s numbers, they provide the best breakdowns of individual racial and religious groups. But in terms of the actual numbers that they track, everyone agrees that those are pretty much a very serious undercount because the FBI only tracks crimes that are specifically categorized as a hate crime by them. And so, that means that they have to have specific concrete evidence of a racial bias.

    Now, the interesting thing if you look at the Bureau of Justice Statistics numbers, they show about five times more racially biased attacks than the FBI does. And the way they do that is they just go out and they interview victims of all crimes and they ask the victims, “Do you feel you were targeted based on your race or your religion?”

    And so, basically, what you get is the FBI numbers show about 6,000 hate crimes per year, while the Bureau of Justice Statistics numbers show close to 300,000 hate crimes a year, which is just a huge order of magnitude difference, and that difference is because they’re interviewing people, they are asking them, “Do you feel like you were targeted because of your race or your identity or who you are?”

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And then, what about all of the different jurisdictions? Are they all required to report every crime potentially a hate crime or not, to either the FBI or the other bureau?

    CHRISTOPHER INGRAHAM: Yes, so that’s been a big problem with the FBI’s numbers and you see this in a lot of things. You see this with police-involved shootings. You see this in all sorts of areas. The FBI’s numbers — basically, local jurisdictions report them voluntarily, so they’re not mandated to do so by any means, and that can be a real issue. And so, some states do a much better job of this than other ones do.

    So, that’s why if you’re looking to get a really good count of the overall magnitude of these incidents around the U.S., it’s good to rely on the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and they — their sample, it’s a national probability sample of criminal — of crime victims. And so, they paint a more accurate picture of the overall magnitude.

    The tradeoff there is they don’t have quite as detailed breakdowns of who the victims are or of what the motivations are as the FBI does.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Christopher Ingraham of “The Washington Post” — thanks so much for joining us.

    CHRISTOPHER INGRAHAM: No problem. Thanks for having me.

    The post FBI: Blacks most often targeted in hate crimes appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0


    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Reuters reporter Luciana Lopez has been in South Carolina covering the story. She joins me now from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

    So, what more do we know today about Dylann Roof and his motivations?

    LUCIANA LOPEZ: Well, one interesting thing that surfaced is that what appears to be a white supremacist manifesto has surfaced, and we’re trying to verify that that — this does, indeed, come from Dylann Roof.  But it lays out a little bit about how he was radicalized, looking up information about Trayvon Martin, and it lays out some of his feelings about other racial groups as well.

    Again, we’re trying to verify that this is, indeed, his. But this goes a little bit deeper into his ideology.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And what’s in there?  What does he think of and why — was there an explanation for why he did this?

    LUCIANA LOPEZ: There is an explanation of sorts.  Again, he talks about how he was radicalized and looking up information about different racial and ethnic groups in the United States, and then he says he’s picked Charleston, in fact, because of its significance, and because of its historical significance.  And he says that he felt like he really needed to make a statement and that this was really the place to do it.

    And he also implies that there wasn’t anyone else to do this, and so, he felt like this was something that he had some sort of mission to go out there to do.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You’ve been reporting there since this tragedy happened. Has the discussion started to include the Confederate flag or gun control? Or is it still just people grieving right now?

    LUCIANA LOPEZ: There’s been quite a lot of discussion about the Confederate flag. In fact, it’s emerged as one of the flashpoint here for discussions. So, for example, yesterday at the NAACP, there was a lot of discussion about how the flag needs to come down because it is viewed as a symbol of hatred and of very sad time in American history.

    I was actually just at a church earlier today, and the pastor there, Nelson Rivers, talked about the Confederate flag, and he directly addressed people who said, “Oh, the flag is a symbol of Southern heritage,” and his response was, “I know what time it is.” And he actually called worship of the flag, in a sense, idolatry and he said that the lives of the people who were killed in this tragedy are more important.

    In fact, we even had Mitt Romney tweeting out today about the Confederate flag and about taking it down, which was pretty significant.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what about the conservations on the streets when you talk to people?  This is one specific church in one specific part of town.  How has this impacted all of Charleston?

    LUCIANA LOPEZ: Well, this is one specific church, but it’s a church with a long and storied history, and it’s a church that’s viewed as, in some sense, belonging to all of Charleston, not just the people who attended it.  And it’s something that I think has really shaken people because there is a strong tradition of churchgoing here in town, and there is this idea that church is a holy space, and that someone could come into this holy space and try to turn it into something else, try to take it away, that’s hit people very close to home, whether or not they go to Mother Emanuel, whether or not they’ve ever even set food there.

    For example, I spoke with one man last night who was there for the second day in a row at the church to pay his respects.  He doesn’t go to that church.  He doesn’t know anyone, in fact, who was involved in this tragedy.  But what he said was that it’s important for him to go there so that he can remember what this feels like, so that he doesn’t let this become just part of the background noise of life, but that this is in fact something that could spur him toward loving people more and in fact, toward living a better life.

    Again, this was someone who’s not personally involved in this at all.  But it still meant something very deep to him, and something that he very specifically wanted to take with him into the future.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Luciana Lopez of Reuters joining us from South Carolina — thanks so much.

    LUCIANA LOPEZ: Thanks for having me.

    The post What we know so far about suspected shooter Dylann Roof’s motivations appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0

    Ella Eliakim, 21, smokes on the roof of her apartment building in Lower Manhattan, New York May 18, 2014. The minimum age to buy cigarettes and tobacco was raised to 21 in New York City on May 18, 2014, six months after the law was signed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Picture taken May 18, 2014. Photo by Eric Thayer/Reuters

    Ella Eliakim, 21, smokes on the roof of her apartment building in Lower Manhattan. The minimum age to buy cigarettes and tobacco was raised to 21 in New York City on May 18, 2014. On Friday, Hawaii became the first state to raise the legal smoking age to 21. Photo by Eric Thayer/Reuters

    Gov. David Ige of Hawaii signed into law Friday a bill that raises the age at which people in Hawaii can legally purchase, smoke or possess cigarettes and electronic cigarettes.

    Although various local governments such as New York City have raised the legal smoking age in recent years, Hawaii is the first state to outlaw the sale and use of tobacco products to people under 21 years of age.

    Proponents of the minimum smoking age of 21 argue that many 18-year-olds brains are still developing, potentially making it more difficult for teenagers to make informed decisions about the known dangers of tobacco use.

    “The executive function, the portion of the brain which is capable of making certain types of decisions, is really not fully developed until actually over 21,” Cheryl G. Healton, dean of Global Public Health at New York University, told The New York Times in 2013.

    People who begin smoking before age 21 face significantly stronger nicotine addiction, heavier daily tobacco consumption and more long-term neurological harm than those who begin after they turn 21, according to an Ohio State University study.

    Needham, Massachusetts was the first town in the United States to raise the smoking age to 21. After the change was implemented in 2005, high school smoking rates decreased by more than 50 percent from 2006 to 2010. By 2008, the rate of illegal sales to minors in Needham was 79 percent lower than in Massachusetts as a whole.

    According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 80 percent of adult cigarette smokers try their first cigarette before the age of 18.

    Excluding those in Hawaii, there are currently 81 cities across the nation that have implemented an age-21 policy on tobacco products.

    Hawaii’s new law will take effect Jan. 1, 2016.

    The post Hawaii becomes first state to raise legal smoking age to 21 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

    0 0

    A photo of one of the slain victims is pictured as part of makeshift memorial outside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where a mass shooting took place, in Charleston, June 20, 2015. Mourners arrived in Charleston from around the United States on Saturday to pay their respects to nine black churchgoers killed in the attack this week, with services planned throughout the day ahead of a rally in the state capital later in the evening. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTX1HE0K

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: We turn now to one of Emanuel AME’s trustees, who is also a Charleston City councilman, William Dudley Gregorie. He calls the shootings “racially-motivated terrorism”.

    So, thanks for joining me.

    You know, there seem to be competing narratives here. On the one hand, that this is a crazy individual, and then, on the other hand, that this is a symptom of deeper systemic racism in your city or your state.

    WILLIAM DUDLEY GREGORIE, DISTRICT SIX COUNCILMEMBER, CHARLESTON, SC: I think that it is domestic terrorism because I do think that the basis of terrorism is hate. However, I think it’s very important to know that the gunman is not from the city of Charleston. The gunman is from about 100, 125 miles away.

    Our city is a city that is one Charleston, and we clearly feel that with this incident — what this incident has done is make our one Charleston more and more coming together as one.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, you’ve also had the unfortunate case of the Walter Scott shooting just a couple of months ago. What have you found in the aftermath of the — in terms of racial tensions that might exist?

    WILLIAM DUDLEY GREGORIE: I think so that we have to really separate. There is a difference between the city of Charleston and the city of North Charleston, where the Walter Scott incident occurred. And I have a great deal of respect for Mayor Summey, who from the onset, was very clear that, that was a wrong deed that occurred, and the officer who was involved should be punished accordingly.

    But I think it’s very important to make sure that people know that these are two distinct cities — the city of Charleston and the city of North Charleston.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, even if you looked at your city discretely from, say, North Charleston or the state of South Carolina, I mean, there seem to be these competing or conflicting facts, right? On the one hand, you’ve got an Indian American governor, you’ve got an African America senator. You, yourself are, elected from a majority white community, or the district that you’re in.

    Yet, at the same time, you’ve got a Confederate flag flying high next to the steps of the state capitol.

    WILLIAM DUDLEY GREGORIE: Well, for me right now, we are going to have time to deal with that issue. But as a member of Mother Emanuel, a lifelong member, what we want to focus on as a church and as a city, burying our dead, go through the healing process so that we can get to forgiveness and move forward accordingly.

    We’re going to have a lot of time to discuss the Confederate flag and gun control. But right now, what we want to do is focus on our Emanuel AME family as we get through this crisis and heal and forgive.

    So, under no circumstances, at least as a member of the Emanuel Church, are we going to engage in politicizing the death of nine of our parishioners of which we now have to plan for nine funerals. So, we will have a lot of time after we bury our dead to deal with the political issues that you just questioned me on.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, you know, yesterday one of the most moving things I think for anyone watching in the country was listening to the audio of family members looking at the person or the suspect who could have taken the lives of their family members and forgiving them. I mean, just the power of witnessing and hearing someone forgive. What went through your mind? These are– these are fellow parishioners and members of your community.

    WILLIAM DUDLEY GREGORIE: And I was not shocked at all because Mother Emanuel AME Church is a forgiving body. We know early on that if you fight hate with hate, then you also have failed. You have to fight hate with love. You have to fight hate with forgiveness.

    One of the mantras of our church is about hope. We clearly feel that living without hope is like living in continuous darkness. But hope will peer through the darkness, see the light, and wait until morning.

    This is morning for Emanuel AME Church. The sacrifice of nine members of our church will not go in vain.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. My condolences to your personal loss as well. William Dudley Gregorie, city councilman of Charleston — thanks so much for joining us.

    WILLIAM DUDLEY GREGORIE: And thank you very much for having me.

    The post S.C. Councilman: Shootings ‘racially motivated terrorism’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


older | 1 | .... | 623 | 624 | (Page 625) | 626 | 627 | .... | 1175 | newer