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


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)
Loading...

More Channels


Showcase


Channel Catalog


Loading...

Channel Description:

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

older | 1 | .... | 625 | 626 | (Page 627) | 628 | 629 | .... | 1175 | newer

    0 0

    Recent Hunters Lane High School graduates Paul Kline, Dianna Thomas, Courtaijaha Brooks-James and Virginia Cruz will assume dramatically different debt burdens when they go to college in the fall. (Photo: Lee Gray/The Hechinger Report)

    Recent Hunters Lane High School graduates Paul Kline, Dianna Thomas, Courtaijaha Brooks-James and Virginia Cruz will assume dramatically different debt burdens when they go to college in the fall. Photo by Lee Gray/The Hechinger Report

    This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read more about higher education.

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When Paul Kline was applying to college last fall, he found himself in an enviable position: He didn’t have to worry about financial aid. The 17-year-old could count on support from a generous, wealthy grandmother and knew his tuition would be covered.

    Nonetheless, he earned several scholarships from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville worth more than $18,000 per year. On top of that, he received $3,500 from HOPE, Tennessee’s merit-based scholarship.

    Even as 19 states reduced the total amount of financial aid they awarded between 2008 and 2013, Kline is among hundreds of thousands of U.S. students from well-off families awarded public dollars in the form of merit-based state scholarships — all based on grades and test scores, not on whether or not they need the money.

    Twelve states plus Washington D.C. now spend more on merit-based aid than need-based aid, and many others have increased funding for scholarships based on academic achievement instead of need. Some states have cut financial aid for everybody, leaving hundreds of thousands of eligible low-income students without help simply because the states’ money ran out.

    “I always knew that if all else failed, if I wanted to go to college really bad and I still had to pay $60,000 out of pocket, I could,” said Kline, a lanky Nashville native with dark blond hair. “I know that for me the HOPE scholarship was almost negligible because of all the other merit-based stuff I got from UTK.”

    Hunters Lane High School in Nashville, where Kline graduated in May, provides a microcosm of how the system works — and who benefits.

    Who does merit aid help?

    Studies have shown that merit-based programs disproportionately benefit middle- and upper-income students and have little impact on college graduation rates. And that’s one reason that researchers, academics and advocates who try to help low-income students get to and through college believe such programs are unfair.

    “It’s a huge waste of billions of dollars nationally,” said Donald Heller, dean of the Michigan State University College of Education, whose research focuses on college access. “If the goal in the state is to increase the number of people getting college degrees, it doesn’t do any good to subsidize students who are going to go to college anyways.”

    At Hunters Lane, only 33 students, or 13 percent of the senior class, qualified for the merit-based HOPE scholarship last year. The 1,600-student school, where 79 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, follows the same pattern as other Nashville high schools: The higher the percentage of low-income students, the lower the percentage who qualify for HOPE (see graph).

    Courtaijaha Brooks-James graduated from Hunters Lane alongside Kline this spring, and was among the low-income students who didn’t make the HOPE cut. Last fall, she worked at the Hardee’s near her family’s home after school from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., and sometimes later. Since the school day started at 7 a.m., she did homework on weekends, during work breaks and sometimes during class.

    “I did so good. Everybody was proud of me,” said the fiercely independent young woman with an easy smile, who will turn 18 in August. “I got mostly A’s and B’s.”

    Her recent good grades weren’t enough, though. Brooks-James’s standardized test scores fell just below the cutoff for the HOPE scholarship, which could have provided $16,000 toward the cost of her degree. Without the required test scores, she needed a 3.0 grade-point average for all four years in high school to qualify, but her spotty performance when she was younger brought her average down.

    richkidsgraphic

    Low-income students left behind

    States that devote significant funding to merit-based scholarships are often aiming to keep bright students in state, hoping to stem a brain drain. Yet last year, at least 10 states that offer need-based programs ran out of money before everyone who was eligible got grants, while the merit-based scholarships in most of those states were fully funded. As a result, hundreds of thousands of eligible low-income students were denied state tuition assistance, according to a review of state grant programs by The Hechinger Report.

    In Florida, almost half of the eligible low-income students — 90,000 — were turned away last year. (The state handed out $134 million in need-based aid to about 92,000 students.) In Kentucky, more than 100,000 students were denied grants from the state’s need-based programs in 2013-14. (About 51,000 students received one of the need-based grants, for a total bill of $92.2 million, according to state records.)

    Some 120,000 eligible students who applied for Tennessee State Aid were denied last year after funding dried up and the state legislature’s allocation of $61.4 million fell far short of demand. Tennessee spent three times more money on non-need-based aid than need-based scholarships last year. As a result, some educators question the state’s funding priorities.

    “Are we okay giving money to kids who are already going to go to college, or do we really want to make college change the trajectory of a kid who wouldn’t have had that in his life?” asked Tom Ward, president and CEO of Oasis, a nonprofit youth advocacy group that helped advise Brooks-James on every aspect of her application, from essays to financial aid. Ward worked as a teacher and principal in Nashville’s public schools for more than 30 years.

    About a third of students who get Tennessee’s largest merit-based scholarships have family incomes above $96,000, more than twice the state’s median income.

    Tennessee officials said that they were monitoring the spending balance between the need- and merit-based aid programs.

    “It’s something we’re evaluating on a year-to-year basis, and we’ll continue to do so,” said David Smith, press secretary for Gov. Bill Haslam.

    Like other states, Tennessee funds its merit-based scholarships using proceeds from the state lottery. But this practice too has been criticized as moving dollars from low-income communities into wealthier ones, as a disproportionate amount of lottery money comes from the poor.

    State lottery links

    Georgia eliminated all of its need-based tuition aid in 2012, even as public four-year tuition rose by more than 66 percent between 2007-08 and 2013-14, according to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research and policy institute. The vast majority of Georgia’s aid program, also known as HOPE, comes from lottery proceeds.

    The state doesn’t keep data on the family income of recipients, but a recent study by the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute showed that poorer counties spend more on lottery tickets and get less from HOPE.

    For example, in 2011, residents of Oconee, one of Georgia’s wealthiest counties, where median income was $76,298, got twice as much per capita in HOPE dollars as Randolph County, where median income was $26,863. Oconee residents spent on average about $257 per year on the lottery, while the poorer Randolph residents spent about $895, according to the report.

    Georgia state officials defend the decision to keep HOPE a solely merit-based program. “Gov. [Nathan] Deal believes HOPE scholarship should be awarded on the basis of merit because it helps keep Georgia’s best and brightest students in the state,” said Jen Talaber, a spokesperson for Deal, in an email. “In turn, graduates of Georgia schools are more likely to begin their careers here, which is good for the state’s economy as a whole.”

    Some scholars disagree that systems like Georgia’s offer students an equal chance at an affordable college degree. They note that while the number of Americans with college degrees has risen in the past few decades, the college completion rate for low-income students has remained stubbornly low — in 2013, only 9 percent of low-income students who began college at age 18 had graduated by age 24.

    “People ask, how come there’s more inequality in higher education?” said Sara Goldrick-Rab, professor of educational policy studies and sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “Well, it’s because of policies like these that transfer of wealth is happening.”

    Six different schools

    Unlike in Kline’s family, neither of Brooks-James’s parents have a college degree. Her mom got pregnant at 17 and dropped out of high school. Brooks-James said her dad fathered his first child at age 13 and didn’t finish high school either; by the time she was born, he had three other children and was doing time in prison.

    Her mom eventually got her G.E.D. and found work as a home health aide in Clarksville, Tennessee, where the two of them moved when Brooks-James was 4 years old. In elementary school, she showed early academic promise, but her mom pulled her out of the local school at the end of fourth grade after their apartment was broken into.

    After that, schooling became far more complicated: Brooks-James attended six different schools from fourth to 12th grade.

    Still, Brooks-James was accepted into several four-year colleges and was planning on going to one of the state’s cheapest — East Tennessee State University. Her family’s near-poverty income qualified her for the maximum federal aid of $5,775, but the $6,775 in government grants for which she’s eligible would only have made a small dent in the estimated $23,000 annual cost of attendance.

    Instead, she’ll attend Volunteer State Community College, just 20 minutes from home. It’s cheap enough that her federal aid will more than pay for the estimated $5,000 cost of tuition, books and supplies. Brooks-James will also keep her fast-food restaurant job and help take care of her new sibling. She is still determined to become a social worker and plans to transfer to a four-year college, but faces stiff odds. While about 45 percent of female students graduate within six years at East Tennessee State, only 17 percent — and only three percent of African Americans — graduate in three years from Volunteer State.

    In the end, Brooks-James won’t have the scholarship she had hoped for, but her mentors at Oasis will still give her their full backing and support as she begins college — even though they had hoped she would choose East Tennessee.

    “It does matter where she goes,” said Lee Gray, Oasis’s college connection manager. “Everything after that decision looks different.”

    This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read more about higher education.

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

    The post As states cut student aid, dollars still flow to upper-income families appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

     JUDY WOODRUFF: It was a painful, horrifying and secret part of America’s history during World War II.

    The U.S. government conducted experiments with mustard gas and other chemicals on some U.S. troops at the time. That chapter of history was first revealed in the early ’90s. Now a new investigation by NPR finds the military used race-based experiments as part of those tests. African-American men, shown here in protective gear, as well as Japanese-American and Puerto Rican soldiers, were singled out.

    These pictures show the forearms of men exposed to mustard gas and other agents. Some, like Rollins Edwards, are living with the effects decades later, including injuries to their skin.

    Caitlin Dickerson led NPR’s investigation. And Susan Smith is a professor of history at the University of Alberta, Canada. She has studied and written extensively about this.

    And thank you both for being with us.

    Caitlin Dickerson, to you first. How did you hear about all this? What led you to the story?

    CAITLIN DICKERSON, NPR: So, to explain that, Judy, I have to start by telling you that these tests were part of a much larger body of experiments that the U.S. military conducted during World War II involving around 60,000 enlisted men.

    I was looking into the Veterans Administration, who in the 1990s, when those tests were first exposed, promised to provide disability benefits to veterans who sustained permanent injuries in those tests. And in the course of reporting that story, which will air on “Morning Edition” later this week, we started to come across the names of studies that really stood out to us, things like comparison of the word nisei, which means first-generation Japanese Americans, to white soldier, comparison of the word they used then Negro to white soldier when exposed to mustard gas.

    Those were the first threads of evidence of these experiments that we found, started pulling on those. And then we came across Susan Smith’s work, submitted requests to the federal government for original documents. And that’s where it all started.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Susan Smith, you had been doing work looking into this. How extensive were these tests using mustard gas and other chemical agents?

    SUSAN SMITH, Professor of History, University of Alberta: Well, certainly, there was a lot of medical research on chemical weapons for World War II.

    And the mustard gas experiments in particular, as Caitlin mentioned, some 60,000 American soldiers were used in experiments. But I was quite struck by the nine race-based experiments that I located. There’s at least nine. There could have been more, but in the published scientific records, I found experiments on Japanese Americans, African-Americans and Puerto Ricans.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Caitlin Dickerson, what was the effect of these experiments? We showed some of those photographs just now, but what did these experiments do to these men?

    CAITLIN DICKERSON: Sure.

    Mustard gas, it reacts with human DNA right away, within seconds of making contact, and it causes irreversible damage. So, frequently, you will see things like chronic skin problems, including skin cancer, that never goes away.

    Rollins Edwards, who I interviewed in my story, he still — more than 70 years later, he still has thick scabs on his skin which he scratches at until they bleed. Mustard gas also commonly affects the airways, so it causes things like COPD, emphysema, asthma. It can cause leukemia and eye disease, all kinds of very serious and sometimes life-threatening illnesses.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: This is a man who has lived into his 90s. Is that right?

    CAITLIN DICKERSON: That’s true.

    So, the veterans that I was able to talk to for this story are, of course, an exceptional group, having far outlived their life expectancy and having gone through this. We can assume that there are many more who aren’t around to tell us their stories today.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Professor Smith, why was the government doing this? What were they trying to find out?

    SUSAN SMITH: Well, the First World War had been a chemical war, and there was every expectation that the Second World War would be one as well.

    So, the allied governments, Canada, the United States, Great Britain, Australia, all prepared for a chemical war. This is also all true of the Japanese and the Nazis in Germany. So chemical war was everyone’s expectation. And the scientists were involved in helping with that research.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But why did they choose a number of African-American men, Japanese American men, Puerto Ricans, and so forth?

    SUSAN SMITH: And this is a really important question about how race matters in the world of science.

    The expectation was that racial differences would prove to play out not just for disease, but for toxic exposures of mustard gas. So the scientists themselves had assumptions that racial groups might be variable. And the expectation was that white soldiers would have one kind of response, but African-Americans might be more resistant, Japanese Americans as well, and Puerto Ricans too, that there would be racial differences they could identify.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Caitlin, what did they find out?

    CAITLIN DICKERSON: So, when you look at the results of these experiments, there’s a report that was written at the end of the war that does suggest military scientists continued to think that African-Americans were more resistant.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Based on what they found or…

    CAITLIN DICKERSON: Based on what they found. And we did show those results to a few different medical researchers and experts, but it’s really hard to say anything about the veracity of the numbers, because we just weren’t there.

    And we know that the standards about experimentation on humans were not up to the level that they are today. So, they do suggest that, at the time, they thought African-Americans were more resistant. But right after that, they sort of follow up and say, but you know what, there’s a lot of variation among these groups, maybe even more so than between them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, again, just to underline, these men went willingly, is that right, all the people who participated?

    CAITLIN DICKERSON: That’s not necessarily the case. And I’m glad you brought that up. It’s important.

    When you look at all of the documents surrounding military mustard gas experiments, the test subjects are referred to as volunteers. But we know even from a government study that was conducted back in the 1990s, when the first sets of experiments were exposed, we know that the term of — the term volunteer isn’t necessarily accurate, that, in some cases, men were asked to volunteer, but they weren’t told what they were volunteering for.

    And they were offered incentives, like a vacation or an award. The men that we interviewed for these — for this story about race-based experiments, they say they were not volunteers, the military didn’t ask them. They told them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Professor Smith, are there other experiments that were done at that time that have yet to be made public?

    SUSAN SMITH: Well, certainly, from the 1940s through the 1970s, there were many, many types of scientific experiments on human beings.

    Despite the Nuremberg Code coming out in 1947, the role of human experimentation in medical and scientific research was very important as a tool for scientists.

    What is interesting here is that we know about radiation experiments. We know about toxic exposures of Agent Orange later in the Vietnam War. But this is the World War II story that we don’t know as much about, partly because we don’t remember that it was preparation for a chemical war.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s just a striking set of findings and some remarkable research, and — Professor Smith, and remarkable reporting, Caitlin Dickerson.

    We thank you both.

    CAITLIN DICKERSON: Thank you very much.

    SUSAN SMITH: Thank you so much.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A postscript: The U.S. government has acknowledged the experiments. And the Defense Department told NPR that it no longer tests chemical weapons on troops. A spokesman said the experiments were — quote — “unfathomable.”

    Some members of Congress are calling for apologies and a settlement.

    The post Why the U.S. military exposed minority soldiers to toxic mustard gas appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    JUDY WOODRUFF: An ancient farming technique that uses far less water than traditional agriculture is getting new attention around the country, especially in the drought-stricken West.

    The NewsHour’s Cat Wise has our report.

    CAT WISE: In a greenhouse nestled in a valley near Half Moon Bay, California, farmer Ken Armstrong is tending to his herd, some 3,000 fish who are key members of a complex ecosystem that also includes some helpful bacteria and these floating leafy greens.

    There’s not a speck of soil to be seen here at Ouroboros Farms, where Armstrong and his colleagues are growing produce with an agricultural system called aquaponics.

    KEN ARMSTRONG, Owner & Founder, Ouroboros Farms: The fish are the integral part of a system. They provide the nutrients for all — for the system. So we feed our fish an organic fish feed. And this is — becomes the nutrient base for all of our plants.

    So, the food that the fish eat becomes usable nitrogen by the plants. And so the fish are actually the engine of growth. This is where all the magic happens.

    CAT WISE: In other words, the fish waste becomes food for the plants, and the plants in turn clean the water for the fish. It’s a delicately balanced system that requires some basic science to master.

    KEN ARMSTRONG: I had to do a lot of research, and there was a little bit of trial and error. We lost a few batches of fish before we finally just figured out how the whole system worked well.

    CAT WISE: Armstrong isn’t the first farmer to try aquaponics. It’s a method that’s been around for a really long time. It’s believed the Aztecs and ancient cultures in parts of Asia fertilized their crops with wild fish.

    Today, aquaponics is being used in a number of countries, from Myanmar, to Peru, to Germany, even on rooftops in Gaza. In the U.S., a small number of backyard hobbyists have been tinkering with the system for years. But, until recently, it hasn’t been tried on a large-scale commercial basis. Now, the team at Ouroboros Farms, and a handful of other operations around the country, are giving it a go.

    JESSICA PATTON, Ouroboros Farms: This is like a conveyor belt of produce.

    CAT WISE: Jessica Patton’s official title on the farm is plant whisperer. She harvests 2,000 heads of lettuce a week, which sell for about $3.00 each, roughly the same cost as an organic head of lettuce. She says the plants here grow about a third faster than if they were grown in soil.

    JESSICA PATTON: In traditional farming methods, the plant expends a lot of energy at sending out a taproot and trying to find nutrients. We have a constant nutrient system underneath the plants. The plants are able to expend their energy growing, instead of sending out energy in a root mass.

    CAT WISE: Faster plant growth is one of the benefits of aquaponics, but the other big one is water usage, a critical issue in drought-stricken California, where a large percentage of the state’s developed water goes to agriculture. Some in the aquaponics industry claim their systems use about 90 percent less water than traditional soil farming.

    KEN ARMSTRONG: There’s almost no evaporation in these systems. The only usage of water comes through transpiration, what the plants actually utilize.

    Comparing to soil agriculture, plants can only take up water through the tips of their roots, so you need to soak the top layer of soil in order for the water to get down to where the plant can actually use it. So, that top layer of topsoil, all that water just evaporates.

    CAT WISE: The 60,000 gallons of water at Ouroboros have been circulating for a year. Weekly top-offs are needed, but the overall water savings for each plant grown is significant. For example, Armstrong says a mature head of lettuce in his operation uses about a gallon of water over the six-week growth cycle, far less most lettuces grown in soil.

    JESSICA PATTON: That is amazing.

    CAT WISE: But, for all its benefits, aquaponics does have its limitations. It doesn’t make sense economically to grow certain staple foods, like wheat and corn, given the infrastructure of the system.

    And a big drawback is cost. Armstrong, who is independently wealthy, spent a quarter-of-a-million dollars to build the system. In March, after three years in operation, he finally began to make a profit. But he thinks it will be another three years before he will make his money back.

    FRED CONTE, University of California, Davis: We are a long way off from aquaponics taking the place of traditional agriculture.

    CAT WISE: Fred Conte from the University of California at Davis, one of the country’s top agricultural schools, studies aquaponics. He says the drought has piqued interest in the technique, but it remains a very small, niche way to grow produce.

    FRED CONTE: Scaling up that system is the difficult part. Once you get beyond about an acre of production, then it moves out from the family-type operation. You’re hiring more and more people and costs go up.

    Right now, it’s a high-end business, all the way from the production of the operation into the consumption of the vegetables as well.

    CAT WISE: A high-end business with a Tesla delivery vehicle. Armstrong hand-delivers most of the farm’s weekly orders to a small number of upscale Bay Area restaurants.

    One of his top customers is Christopher Aquino, executive chef of Viognier Restaurant in the city of San Mateo.

    CHRISTOPHER AQUINO, Executive Chef, Viognier Restaurant: Oh, these are awesome. Yes, the smaller the better. Yes, like that’s the size we wanted.

    CAT WISE: Aquino says the superior quality of the leafy greens he gets from Ouroboros Farms is only one reason he buys from them.

    CHRISTOPHER AQUINO: The reason why we have gone with Ken is because his water usage is significantly less than most other farms. Had to be conscious about my water usage, and not so much of how much water is going down my drains. How much water are my farmers using?

    CAT WISE: Armstrong says that now that his farm is up and running, he intends to spread knowledge about aquaponics around the country.

    KEN ARMSTRONG: I honestly believe that this is the future of farming. You can do them anywhere. You can do them indoors, outdoors, in warehouses, on rooftops, empty alleyways, empty parking lots. So all the space that’s being underutilized in urban areas could be transformed easily into an aquaponics system. And then you’re providing really clean, healthy produce for the local community.

    CAT WISE: Later this summer, Ouroboros Farms will host a four-day workshop for those interested in starting commercial aquaponics operations. Several hundred are expected to attend.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Cat Wise in Half Moon Bay, California.

     

     

    The post Aquaponic farming saves water, but can it feed the country? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    GWEN IFILL: The Supreme Court issued a set of rulings today with a unifying theme, restricting government power and boosting individual rights.

    Both cases happened in California. In one, a Los Angeles hotel owner questioned a city law requiring him to turn guest lists over to police. Two hundred miles north, in Fresno, another case tested whether the government could seize some of a farmer’s raisin crop in order to control prices.

    Joining me to discuss these opinions, as always, is our regular high court contributor, Marcia Coyle of “The National Law Journal.”

    We’re waiting for a lot of things out of the court at the end of June, but, in the meantime, this was really kind of interesting. Both of these cases were a little bit about government restraint. Let’s start by talking about the California raisin board.

    MARCIA COYLE, “The National Law Journal”: Raisins, OK.

    GWEN IFILL: What is it?

    (LAUGHTER)

    MARCIA COYLE: OK.

    The Raisin Administrative Committee is a committee composed primarily of raisin growers. And they operate under a 1949 marketing order that the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued in order to stabilize raisin prices. So, how it actually operates is, the — this committee decides each year how much of the raisin crop to set aside in a reserve pool, keeping it out of the domestic market. Those reserve raisins can later be sold as exports or used in public school lunches or for nonmarketing purposes.

    And any net profit from that after administrative costs will go back to the raisin growers.

    GWEN IFILL: And the farmers are basically saying, we should be compensated for these raisins that you’re holding out our crop?

    MARCIA COYLE: Well, really, in this particular case, it’s a family farm, the Hornes, who, as you said, grow raisins in California. They participated in what is a volunteer program for 30 years.

    But in early 2000, for two years, they decided not to turn over their raisins to the Administrative Committee. The United States brought an enforcement action against them because they weren’t complying with the order, imposed a penalty of almost half-a-million dollars for those two years. They challenged the raisin program, saying that it violated the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause.

    As you know, Gwen, the Fifth Amendment’s Taking Clause requires the government to pay just compensation when it takes private property for a public purpose. The lower federal court hearing the Hornes’ case — that’s — these are the growers — said that personal property receives less protection under the clause than real property.

    And the Supreme Court today in an 8-1 decision written by the chief justice said no. He said that the Fifth Amendment applies to personal property, as well as real property. If the government takes your car, it’s going to apply. If the government takes your home, it’s going to apply.

    GWEN IFILL: The second case is more about search and seizure, but this is about an ordinance in Los Angeles having to do with hotels actually taking your name in registering guests, and police can come and look at them at any time.

    MARCIA COYLE: That’s right. The ordinance required specific information on hotel and motel guest registries, and then said that that had to be made accessible to law enforcement when it wanted to look at the registries.

    The city claimed that some motels and hotels were used for drug trafficking, human trafficking and prostitution. This was a way for the police to try to keep track of this and clamp down on it. The ordinance was challenged by a group of motel owners, who said that this violated the Fourth Amendment, which protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures.

    Today, the court in a decision by Justice Sotomayor agreed with the hotel owners. She said that it was an unreasonable search to have the police have full access whenever they wanted, because there was no pre-compliance review process, so that, if an owner objected, he could go to a neutral third party, he or she could go to a third neutral party and make the case.

    She also said that this wasn’t going to be particularly burdensome on law enforcement, because they could still get something called an administrative subpoena to look at the registry.

    GWEN IFILL: Another way.

    MARCIA COYLE: Right. It doesn’t require probable cause, like a warrant does.

    GWEN IFILL: Didn’t — but doesn’t it read to you — at least it read to me, a complete layperson — that the court was ruling against the government, government reach in both of these cases?

    MARCIA COYLE: Well, yes.

    The Fourth Amendment is what in this case is curbing what law enforcement can do, although Justice Sotomayor in the majority didn’t feel that it was that big a burden for them. Justice Scalia wrote the main dissent. And he said he felt hotels and motels were closely regulated industries, which the court has said really are an exception to the Fourth Amendment.

    And he felt that the searches here would be completely reasonable because of the history of motels with being havens — he said havens for prostitution, drug trafficking.

    GWEN IFILL: OK.

    Well, we will wait for the other big shoes to drop later this week, perhaps, Marcia.

    MARCIA COYLE: Thursday and Friday, Gwen.

    GWEN IFILL: OK. Thanks a lot.

    MARCIA COYLE: My pleasure.

    The post Rulings on raisins and hotel registries favor individual rights appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    A man waves a Greek national flag while standing at the premises of the parliament building during a rally in front of the parliament building calling on the government to clinch a deal with its international creditors and secure Greece's future in the Eurozone, in Athens, Greece, June 22, 2015. Euro zone finance ministers welcomed new Greek proposals for a cash-for-reform deal on Monday but said they required detailed study and it would take several days to determine whether they can lead to an agreement to avert a default. REUTERS/Yiannis Liakos/Intimenews  GREECE OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN GREECE	
 - RTX1HN8D

    Watch Video

    JUDY WOODRUFF: An emergency meeting on the Greek debt crisis fell short of agreement today. But the chair of the Eurozone finance ministers’ meetings in Brussels said a deal could come later this week, and that the group is using new proposals by Greek President Alexis Tsipras, which include spending cuts and reforms, as a basis for further talks.

    Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from Athens, where residents worry as a June 30 deadline draws closer.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Waving Greek flags, thousands of demonstrators gathered outside Parliament to insist that the country must remain within the Eurozone. They’re afraid that bankruptcy and departure from the common currency will spell disaster for Greece.

    And it appears tonight that they will have a reprieve, as the latest proposals put forward by the radical prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, go some way towards meeting the creditors’ demands. It will mean higher taxes for the rich, some extra sales taxes, but he’s reportedly refusing to cut pensions.

    Twenty-four hours earlier, the message coming from this place was totally different. As the heat was being turned up on Greece, supporters of the left-wing Syriza government took over the grounds of Parliament to urge Tsipras not to surrender to the creditors.

    ANNA FLOROU, Greece: I’m worried about people getting hungry and hungrier. I live in the center of Athens, and I can see people shopping from the garbage.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The hourly changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was chaotic, as demonstrators chanted that the country wasn’t for sale.

    Greece has a glorious history of resistance, but also of painful defeat. With the country on the brink of bankruptcy, former bank worker Eteokles Politopoulos urged the government not to alter course. Politopoulos has been unemployed for 18 months after resigning because he couldn’t bear working for a bank.

    ETEOKLES POLITOPOULOS, Greece: What are the risks? We don’t know. But I want to stand for the people. I don’t know if that makes any meaning. But that’s what I want, stand for the people, not for the banks.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Veteran actress Lydia Lenossi is famous for her performances on stage, film and television. But if she wants to pursue her craft these days, she knows she has to do it for free. Her sign says “No giving into blackmail.”

    LYDIA LENOSSI, Actress: When I tell you that we don’t get paid, how can I explain how difficult it is? It is very difficult. We cannot live. In Greece, we cannot live anymore. They want us to die. They want us to extinguish Greece. I would like to say no. That’s it. That’s it, five years, 12,000 suicides.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Today dawned with storm clouds, as a series of crucial meetings loomed, with the European Union determined to force concessions from Greece.

    Although more than a billion dollars a day was being withdrawn from banks last week, the cash machines were still working, and fears that the banks might be closed for business failed to materialize. Conservative politician Anna Asimakopoulou is relieved that the Syriza government appears to have come up with a deal that may fend off bankruptcy, but she doesn’t like the details.

    ANNA ASIMAKOPOULOU, New Democracy Party: Everything we hear is really taxes, taxes and more taxes. And that’s clearly not going to bring growth. So, that’s our major objection to the contents of the deal. But, having said that, a deal is clearly much better than no deal. And, unfortunately, Mr. Tsipras has now brought us to this horrible situation.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Greek American investment adviser Philip Ammerman is doubtful whether the extra taxes offered to creditors will materialize.

    PHILIP AMMERMAN, Investment Adviser: I would say I think it’s extremely dangerous. I think it’s been dangerous probably for the last two months. There’s a huge lack of trust on either side. This is probably merited from the — from how the negotiations have proceeded. There is also a lot of misinformation.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: It’s by no means certain that a deal will be finalized that will enable Greece to get its hands on the next tranche of $8 billion from the bailout fund. But the government here certainly believes that the country has been saved.

    And the president of the European Commission is pleased that, at last, he has got some proposals from Greece that he likes. He, like many others, wants to see an end to this high-stakes game of poker. But, today, the Greeks took out $2 billion from the banks, and they’re running out of cash.

    And the European Central Bank is going to have to put more liquidity into the Greek banking system to make sure that they can open tomorrow and that the country doesn’t panic.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” this is Malcolm Brabant in Athens.

    The post Awaiting debt deal, Greeks resist expected reforms appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    GWEN IFILL: While lawmakers moved to quell the Confederate Flag controversy, a debate continued about the roots of the Charleston attacks. Were they motivated by racial animus or individual alienation?

    In an unusually blunt contribution to the discussion, President Obama weighed in Friday during a podcast that was posted online today. In the interview with comedian Marc Maron, he was asked to comment on the roots of racism and, in making his point, employed a racial epithet.

    We are not editing that portion of the president’s remarks.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours, and that opportunities have opened up, and that attitudes have changed. Yes, that is a fact.

    What is also true is that the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination, in almost every institution of our lives, you know, that casts a long shadow. And that’s still part of our DNA that’s — that’s passed on. We’re not cured of it.

    MARC MARON, Podcast Host: Racism.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Racism, we are not cured of, clearly.

    And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. You have — societies don’t overnight completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.

    GWEN IFILL: The president’s comments spurred a lively online debate that ranged from cause to effect.

    Among the questions being asked: Was this attack a form of domestic terrorism?

    For our discussion, I’m joined by Gregg McCrary, a former FBI profiler who has specialized in tracking and understanding violent predators, Paul Butler, a professor of law at Georgetown University who teaches about race relations, and Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Richard Cohen, what is your take on this question about domestic terrorism, especially in this particular case in Charleston?

    RICHARD COHEN, President, Southern Poverty Law Center: I think it’s a case of domestic terrorism.

    It’s political violence by a nonstate actor aimed at intimidating a large group of people. So, I think it’s the classic definition. Also, I think the technical definition under federal law. So, I think it’s a pretty clear case of domestic terrorism.

    GWEN IFILL: Professor Butler, what is your sense of this, based on what you have seen, especially — not just this case, but in general?

    PAUL BUTLER, Professor, George Washington University School of Law: It was surreal to hear Governor Haley announce today the Civil War ended 150 years ago, like that was breaking news.

    So, really — in part because I’m not sure she’s right. But what happened in Charleston is a sped-up version of the kind of violence that African-Americans have experienced for 400 years. We can talk about the violence of slavery, the 5,000 lynchings that happened after slavery, or the hundreds of unarmed African-American people who get killed by police officers.

    The terrorist said he wanted to start a race war. To a lot of African-Americans, it feels like we have been in a race war for the last 400 years.

    GWEN IFILL: Gregg McCrary, you spent a lot of time investigating and testifying as an expert witness on these type of cases. In this case, in this particular case, do you think it’s about alienation or about race?

    GREGG MCCRARY, Former FBI Special Agent: It’s both, I think.

    These individuals — and I think it’s going to play out when we find out more about this individual — feel alienated. They become paranoid. They have a sense of identity confusion. They’re not sure who they are. They’re not sure what’s going on.

    That makes them vulnerable to extremist ideas. And in that sort of cauldron that they’re in, they latch on to these things. They typically are underachievers. They don’t form well relations with other people. That drives them to the Internet. And when they turn there, they can find support for these extreme, deviant beliefs that they have, and that reinforces this. And then eventually it turns to violence.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about the Internet portion of this, Richard Cohen, because one of the things you talk about at your site is about white — the concept of white genocide? Could you explain what you mean by that?

    RICHARD COHEN: Well, there’s this idea in the white supremacist world that white people are under attack.

    They look at South Africa, they look at the former outlaw state of Rhodesia, they look at the changing demographics of our country and they come to the same conclusion. There’s a genocide of white — against white people afoot.

    Let me say something else too I think it’s important to know. And that is that this — in a milder form, this is something one sees in a broader segment of American society. And what I mean by that is, white people today are more likely to think that they are the victims of discrimination than are black people in our country.

    They tend to see racism or race relations as a zero sum gain. The Dylann Roofs are an extraordinary extreme case of this kind of white racial resentment. But there’s a certain amount of this simmering in the society at large, I’m afraid.

    GWEN IFILL: Paul Butler?

    PAUL BUTLER: And that’s the connection between what happened in Charleston and what happened in Ferguson.

    And that — the unemployment rate for African-Americans right now is 10 percent, and we think that the economy is doing fine. If you’re black and you send out a resume, you get half as many callbacks, same resume for a white person. If you’re black, you don’t even get the same kind of health care.

    If you try to get an apartment, you don’t get the apartment even if you have the same qualifications as a white person. So all of that structural violence — all of that structural stuff is a form of violence as well.

    GWEN IFILL: So, Gregg McCrary, you just heard Richard Cohen talk about the accelerants of Internet — of the Internet. And I wonder if that is what you see also, that these kinds of grievances have maybe always existed on some level, but there’s something about being able to share them quickly.

    We know that he, that the shooter, the alleged shooter, in Charleston had a lot of connections online.

    GREGG MCCRARY: Yes. That’s exactly right.

    In other words, Paul was talking about the reality of what’s going on. But for individuals like this, the perception of what they have is entirely different than the reality that we share. His reality is this idea of white genocide. Or — and he made that comment just before the shooting that it’s black people are raping and murdering and so forth.

    So that’s the perception that this delusional, paranoid belief system that these people have.

    GWEN IFILL: So, who are these people? Who is susceptible to this kind of — this belief system?

    GREGG MCCRARY: It can be anyone. It can be political. It can be religious. It can be very idiosyncratic.

    But these are people who are vulnerable. They don’t typically integrate into society. They tend to be losers, unemployed, like this guy, a 10th grade education, not employed, can’t really fit into society, becomes vulnerable to these belief systems, then goes searching for like-minded violent individuals.

    That fuels the fire, fuels the animus. And then, in cases like this, it propels them to actually act out in a very predatory manner.

    GWEN IFILL: So, Richard Cohen, is there a strain, are there signs we should be looking for to root something like this out? It’s one thing to say this is a terrible thing to say. It’s another thing to see it coming.

    You know, when we talk about international terrorism, we put drones in the cry. What do we do for domestic terrorism?

    RICHARD COHEN: I think it’s a very tough question, Gwen.

    Lone wolf attacks like this one are harder to detect than other kinds of group activities. They’re harder to prevent. But I think there are some practical things that we can do. The law enforcement officials would say, see something, say something. Be alert to the signs.

    There are a lot of signs that this kid might have been a few bubbles off plumb. Our schools have an important role to play. And I think our political figures, if we can tamp down some of the horribly polarizing rhetoric, maybe we have a calming effect on society at large. I think we all have a role to play, and I think we all know it’s not going to be easy.

    GWEN IFILL: Paul Butler, invariably, after these discussions, there’s always a call for this conversation, a national conversation. Should the conversation be about race or should it be about racism?

    PAUL BUTLER: It should be about racism and white supremacy.

    We have to disrupt this rush to a kumbaya moment that we have seen in Ferguson. So, we all people show up for the memorial service, and they chanted white — they chanted, “All lives matter.” That was a corruption of “Black lives matter.” It was a willful blindness to wanting to talk about racism and white supremacy.

    And it’s part of the problem. All lives isn’t who this terrorist went after. He went after African-American lives. And we need to acknowledge that.

    GREGG MCCRARY: Just to reinforce what we’re talking about as far as identification, almost always, there’s some leakage. These individuals leak some intent or leak it. It could be online, as now we have seen he’s got this manifesto.

    (CROSSTALK)

    GWEN IFILL: And in this case, he told some of his friends about this.

    GREGG MCCRARY: Exactly.

    And that’s back to what we talked about earlier about see something, say something. That’s the right idea. There are a couple of problems. Sometimes, the people they disclose this to are like-minded individuals, and they feel they can trust them, so it doesn’t come out.

    Other times, people just disbelieve that they’re really going to do anything. But that’s the key. If we’re going to have early intervention and stop this, people that hear this, that see this leakage, they need to come forward with this. And then we can perhaps get some intervention to prevent this.

    GWEN IFILL: I want to ask each of you to respond to something the president said in that interview that aired in that podcast today. Among the things he said was that the long — he talked about race as — and racism as the long shadow that is still part of our DNA.

    Richard Cohen, is it part of our DNA?

    RICHARD COHEN: It’s part of the original sin of this country. It’s like the Big Bang in the American universe that reverberates through everything.

    You know, I think the president is absolutely right. Race relations are so different than they were 50 years ago, but — I mean, it’s a cliche, but it’s true. We have an enormously far way to go.

    GWEN IFILL: But that seems awfully — the president also said, we have come a long way. I guess it’s a matter of emphasis?

    RICHARD COHEN: Well, I mean, and I think it also is a matter of time frames, right? I’m 60 years old. I have seen a lot of change in my period of time.

    If you’re 30 years old, maybe the world seems very, very stagnant. So, I think there’s that element as well.

    GWEN IFILL: Paul Butler?

    PAUL BUTLER: Racial subordination is the premise of the American project.

    The Capitol and the White House were literally built with slave labor. Our history of racialized violence means that everything white people have, they have in part because they are white. We have to disrupt that status quo. That’s what the president meant when he said that racism is part of our DNA. Our DNA has got to be changed.

    GWEN IFILL: Gregg McCrary?

    GREGG MCCRARY: Yes, I do believe it’s part of the cultural DNA that we all share.

    And it is poisonous. It is toxic. And it obviously needs to be changed. And I think the more we deal with this openly and have this sort of discussion, it will move it along, at least incrementally, I hope.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, that’s what we’re working at here.

    Professor Paul Butler of Georgetown University, Gregg McCrary, a former FBI profiler, and Richard Cohen, the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, thank you all for contributing.

    GREGG MCCRARY: Thank you for having us.

    PAUL BUTLER: Thank you.

     

    The post Finding the roots of Dylann Roof’s radical violence appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    The U.S. flag and South Carolina state flag flies at half staff to honor the nine people killed in the Charleston murders as the confederate battle flag also flies on the grounds of the South Carolina State House in Columbia, SC June 20, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Miczek - RTX1HF3B

    Watch Video

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now the Confederate Flag and the presidential race.

    The killings in Charleston returned the rebel banner to the forefront in South Carolina and to the 2016 agenda.

    PROTESTERS: Take it down! Take it down!

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thousands gathered on the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol this weekend to protest the continued presence of the Confederate Battle Flag. The issue’s also alive again for Republican presidential candidates, eight months out from the South Carolina primary.

    This was former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee Sunday, on NBC.

    FORMER GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE Republican Presidential Candidate: Everyone’s being baited with this question, as if somehow that has anything to do whatsoever with running for president. And my position is, it most certainly does not.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Over on ABC, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum agreed.

    FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM Republican Presidential Candidate: I don’t think the federal government or federal candidates should be making decisions on everything and opining on everything. This is a decision that needs to be made here in South Carolina. And, like everybody else, I have my opinion.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, today, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham called for the flag’s removal.

    And, on Saturday, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said on Facebook: “My position on how to address the Confederate flag is clear. In Florida, we acted, moving the flag from the state grounds to a museum, where it belonged.

    In addition, the party’s 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, tweeted that: “It’s a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor Charleston victims.”

    On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton took on the broader question of racism in America on Saturday in San Francisco.

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON DEMOCRATIC Presidential Candidate: I know that so many of us hoped that, by electing our first black president, we had turned the page on this chapter in our history. But, despite our best efforts and our highest hopes, America’s long struggle with race is far from finished.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Clinton, who came out in 2007 for removing the flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds, said millions of people of color still experience racism daily.

    To take a closer look at this intersection of politics, race and history, we go to our Politics Monday panel.

    This week, we’re joined by Susan Page of USA Today and Tamara Keith of NPR.

    And we welcome you both back.

    SUSAN PAGE, USA Today: Great to be here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So this reversal by Governor Nikki Haley, Republican governor of South Carolina, on issue of whether the flag should be displayed, Susan Page, what’s the significance of this?

    SUSAN PAGE: I think it means that, for South Carolina politicians anyway, there’s been a tipping point with this terrible tragedy in Charleston.

    So, you had the governor, you had both senators, you had many members of the House standing up there and saying it’s time for the Confederate Flag to come down from where it stands near the state capitol now. And you heard Governor Haley be I think quite eloquent in both addressing the feelings of those who feel that the flag is an expression of their heritage, of their history, not an expression of racism, but making the argument that, given what it means to others and given the way the flag was brandished by the killer in Charleston, that it is time for it to go.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tamara, was this inevitable after what happened in Charleston?

    TAMARA KEITH, NPR: It certainly seems like there was a chorus growing of people saying there’s still this flag flying that is on the state grounds?

    And what Governor Haley said was, no one is going to tell you that, if this flag is important to your heritage, that you have to stop flying it at your house. However, she said it has no place on state grounds.

    And given everyone she had standing around her, it seems like it just tipped. And then there were sort of the floodgates opened of other politicians, presidential candidates, the RNC chairman, all of these statements coming out saying Governor Haley made the right move.

    SUSAN PAGE: I would just say it tipped for politicians.

    We don’t know yet if it tipped for the people of South Carolina. In the most recent poll we had, which was last November, by Winthrop, had 72 percent of white voters in South Carolina supporting the flag. And you need a two-thirds vote of the state legislature to consider taking down the flag, another two-thirds vote to take it down. So we aren’t at the end of this debate yet.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But now you have, as you said, the two Republicans senators of the state joining the Republican governor.

    Presidential candidate Mitt Romney made the statement, what, just right after the Charleston shooting, Susan, saying that he thought the flag should come down. And today after the governor’s announcement, other Republican presidential candidates — do we expect they’re all going to end up in the same position or what do we think?

    SUSAN PAGE: I think that they’re all going to support what the governor said. I think that’s an easy out for them because some of the Republican presidential candidates were very being cautious to say this is a matter for the state to consider.

    Remember, there’s that big primary in South Carolina. It matters a lot in Republican politics. So I think there was a lot of caution until the governor stepped forward and now they all see a path through this issue.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Because, Tamara, it was just — I think I read over the weekend Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, was saying, no, we need to wait at least until these victims in Charleston have been buried, before we even begin to talk about the flag.

    TAMARA KEITH: And there was a lot of discussion also of states’ rights, or we’re presidential candidates, we shouldn’t weigh in on this, this is up to the state to decide.

    And I think by coming out and making the strong statement, the governor has sort of allowed others to agree with her, essentially.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What about on the other side of the ledger, Susan?

    The Democrats were already — they had taken the position the flag should come down. But they’re making comments. We heard Hillary Clinton’s comment about race. Are they saying things among — Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, to distinguish themselves in any important ways about race?

    SUSAN PAGE: I think one interesting thing you’re seeing with the Democrats now is that after about eight years of not wanting to talk very much about race, because President Obama, despite his groundbreaking election in 2008, has been very reluctant to address race unless it’s been forced upon him. And that’s changed.

    I think we have seen that change with some of the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of the police. And we definitely saw it in the wake of this Charleston shooting, where he’s increasingly talking about this issue, and so is Mrs. Obama. And that opens the door to the kind of discussion about race in this country that I don’t think we have really seen for maybe forever, certainly not for a very long time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s striking, isn’t it, Tamara?

    TAMARA KEITH: Mm-hmm.

    And, tomorrow, actually, Hillary Clinton will be in Missouri, very near Ferguson, talking about these very issues again. She’s going right to the heart of where this gash tore open last year.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s interesting that guns — the president made a comment, Tamara, right after Charleston happened about guns and he hoped Washington would take another look at that. But we haven’t heard very much about that. Do we think there’s going to be any movement on guns?

    TAMARA KEITH: No.

    And the president doesn’t expect there really to be any movement on guns. He said, you know, if the Senate couldn’t pass background check legislation, bipartisan background check legislation after 20 kids were killed in Newtown, what is going to change with this shooting?

    And, in fact, the pure political numbers have changed, so that the Senate and the House are both controlled by Republicans. I was talking to a law professor who studied the nation’s gun laws today and he said there — and it makes so much sense — there are really two Americas when it comes to guns. The initial reaction of Democrats and the president was to say we need fewer guns, we need more gun control.

    The initial reaction of the other half of America was to say, well, we need more guns to protect people, there should have been guns in that church. And when there’s that divide, it’s really hard for people to look at this tragedy and figure out a path forward.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That seems to be the reaction, Susan, after every one of these mass shootings. It seems to that happened after Newtown.

    SUSAN PAGE: Although the fact is that when you poll Americans nationwide, you see a majority support for some gun measures like enhanced background checks.

    And what’s really happened is the nature of our politics prevents that from happening despite public support for them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you see any — do you think anything’s going to change as a result of this?

    SUSAN PAGE: I don’t see any way it changes on guns. There’s a stranglehold by the NRA and some other gun lobbies that makes it seemingly impossible to move forward, even in the face of very broad public support.

    We know that a majority of gun owners support enhanced background checks, and yet still this can’t seem to get passed.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Less than a minute, but I just want to ask you both quickly. There’s a new poll out, NBC/Wall Street Journal, showing some good news for a couple of the Republican candidates, Tamara. What do you make of that?

    TAMARA KEITH: Well, I think, in part, this is a poll that asks, could you see yourself voting for this person? And so the good news for Jeb Bush is that Republican voters could see themselves voting for him. It’s part popularity, part name recognition, part palatability.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s so early, Susan. Does something like this make a difference? Does it matter?

    SUSAN PAGE: I thought it was very interesting.

    And I’ll tell you, who I think did best in this is Scott Walker, because he wasn’t first in terms of could you see yourself voting for him, but he was the lowest in, I could not see myself possibly voting for him. So he’s got the most room to grow. A lot of Republicans don’t know about him yet.

    I thought that was the most interesting finding in that survey.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, there will be more polls, I have a feeling, between now and the election.

    Susan Page, Tamara Keith, we thank you both.

    SUSAN PAGE: Thank you.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    The post Time to take down the Confederate flag in S.C.? Candidates weigh in appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    GWEN IFILL: The governor of South Carolina called today for removing the Confederate Battle Flag from the state capitol grounds. Republican Nikki Haley bowed to growing demands after a gunman killed nine people at a black church in Charleston.

    The suspect, Dylann Roof, had featured the flag in photos of himself. Today, Haley was flanked by leaders from both parties, as she reversed her previous opposition to removing the flag.

    GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), South Carolina: The murderer now locked up in Charleston said he hoped his actions would start a race war. We have an opportunity to show that not only was he wrong, but that — that just the opposite is happening.

    My hope is that, by removing a symbol that divides us, we could move forward as a state in harmony, and we can honor the nine blessed souls who are now in heaven.

    (APPLAUSE)

    GWEN IFILL: Religious and political leaders plan to rally at the state capitol tomorrow to press for the flag’s removal. But the Sons of Confederate Veterans group said it will oppose that step.

    Meanwhile, President Obama plans to deliver a eulogy at Friday’s funeral for Emanuel AME Pastor and State Senator Clementa Pinckney, who was among those murdered.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced today he has cancer of the lymph nodes. He said it’s — quote — “very advanced and very aggressive,” but he plans to continue in office while undergoing chemotherapy.

    Hogan is a Republican who took office in January. He joked today that he stands a better chance of beating cancer than he did of winning office in a heavily Democratic state.

    GWEN IFILL: In Afghanistan, a Taliban suicide bomber and six gunmen attacked the parliament building in Kabul. No lawmakers were hurt, but 31 civilians were wounded. A member of parliament was speaking as a large explosion rattled the building, and lawmakers rushed to exit. Police say the attackers tried to storm the place.

    GEN. ABDUL RAHMAN RAHIMI, Kabul Police Chief (through interpretor): A car full of explosives hit a wall at the eastern side of the parliament and ministry of finance. Their target was to enter to the parliament house. Six armed men were trying to enter, but all of them were killed by the security forces.

    GWEN IFILL: The attack came as Taliban fighters seized a district in Northern Afghanistan, the second in just two days.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. Army has reprimanded the man who oversaw the training of Iraqi forces. Major General Dana Pittard could also be demoted. The Washington Post reports he was accused of steering a defense contract to a firm run by two of his former West Point classmates. It happened at a time when Pittard was commander in charge at Fort Bliss, Texas.

    GWEN IFILL: The European Union launched a naval operation today against the traffickers who’ve been smuggling migrants across the Mediterranean. The goal is to destroy the traffickers’ boats before they can be used. More than 100,000 migrants have reached Europe this year, but hundreds more have died.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: United Nations investigators concluded today that both Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas may have committed war crimes during last summer’s war in Gaza. Over 50 days, Israel and Hamas traded thousands of airstrikes and rockets. More than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed. Israeli dead included 67 soldiers and six civilians. U.N. officials say both sides must accept responsibility.

    MARY MCGOWAN DAVIS, United Nations: Accountability should be, must be a key ingredient in such a process, and we must remember that victims are not just numbers or collateral damage, that unfortunate word. They are individual people with human rights and they are entitled to effective remedies for any violations of these rights.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu branded the U.N. a biased institution and rejected the report. Hamas called for prosecuting Israeli leaders, but ignored criticism of its own actions.

    GWEN IFILL: Back in this country, the Senate to confirmed a new leader for the Transportation Security Administration today, the agency that handles airport security. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger was promised to close — has promised to close security gaps at airports laid bare by an internal investigation. The TSA post has been vacant since December.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Federal prosecutors and New York City have agreed in principal on reforms that the Rikers Island jail complex. A class action suit by injured inmates had alleged wide spread brutality by guards. The reforms will include a federal monitor and thousands of video cameras.

    GWEN IFILL: The number of veterans enduring long waits at VA hospitals has jumped 50 percent from a year ago. The Department of Veterans Affairs was hit by a scandal last year over false records and long wait times. A New York Times report says a surge in demand swamped efforts to fix the problem.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And on Wall Street, stocks gained on hopes for a breakthrough in the Greek bailout talks. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 100 points to close near 18120. The Nasdaq rose 37 points. And the S&P added 13.

    Still to come on the “NewsHour”: the politics of Confederate Flags with Tamara Keith and Susan Page; roots of racial hatred in wake of the mass shooting in Charleston; Greece waits with bated breath for an emergency economic deal over debt; the Supreme Court boosts privacy and property rights in today’s decisions; why growing crops in water could help farmers during a historic drought; and the secret experiments of World War II, testing nerve gases on troops by race.

    The post News Wrap: Maryland governor announces he has ‘aggressive’ cancer appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    A man cools off under a public tap during a heat wave in Karachi, Pakistan on June 23. Hundreds have died in the southern city over the past several days, health officials said, as paramilitaries set up emergency medical camps in the streets. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    A man cools off under a public tap during a heat wave in Karachi, Pakistan on June 23. Hundreds have died in the southern city over the past several days, health officials said, as paramilitaries set up emergency medical camps in the streets. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    Scorching heat and power grid failures in Pakistan’s southern region have caused the deaths of more than 600 people, and the toll is expected to climb, Pakistani health officials said Tuesday.

    Officials worked to open temporary health facilities and cooling booths to prevent heat stroke and other illnesses in the population as temperatures rose past 100 degrees Fahrenheit this week.

    The heat wave came as Muslims were abstaining from food and water during the holy month of Ramadan.

    People sought relief in the major port city of Karachi by jumping into streams and seeking shade under bridges.

    A woman fans her son while they wait along with others for treatment at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center in Karachi, Pakistan on June 23. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    A woman fans her son while they wait along with others for treatment at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center in Karachi, Pakistan on June 23. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    A stream in the port city of Karachi, Pakistan provides some relief on June 23, after days of extreme heat. Photo by Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

    A stream in the port city of Karachi, Pakistan provides some relief on June 23, after days of extreme heat. Photo by Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

    Men fill their water bottles at a public tap in Karachi, Pakistan on June 23, following days of intense heat. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    Men fill their water bottles at a public tap in Karachi, Pakistan on June 23, following days of intense heat. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    Volunteers hand out drinking water outside the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center in Karachi, Pakistan on June 23. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    Volunteers hand out drinking water outside the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center in Karachi, Pakistan on June 23. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    A man tries to cool down his son while waiting for a checkup outside the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center in Karachi, Pakistan on June 23. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    A man tries to cool down his son while waiting for a checkup outside the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center in Karachi, Pakistan on June 23. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    Men try to escape the heat under a bridge in Karachi, Pakistan on June 22. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    Men try to escape the heat under a bridge in Karachi, Pakistan on June 22. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    Relatives sit beside the body of someone who died due to an intense heat wave in Karachi, Pakistan on June 22. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    Relatives sit beside the body of someone who died due to an intense heat wave in Karachi, Pakistan on June 22. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    A relative waits while volunteers search for a body among those who died from the heat at Edhi Foundation morgue in Karachi, Pakistan on June 22. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    A relative waits while volunteers search for a body among those who died from the heat at Edhi Foundation morgue in Karachi, Pakistan on June 22. Photo by Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

    The post Photos: Pakistanis seek ways to beat the deadly heat appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    While major retailers Walmart and Sears announced that they would no longer sell Confederate battle flag merchandise in their stores, online sales on Amazon jumped over the last 24 hours. Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call

    While major retailers Walmart and Sears announced that they would no longer sell Confederate battle flag merchandise in their stores, online sales on Amazon jumped over the last 24 hours. Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call

    Amazon has said that it will no longer sell Confederate battle flags, following a spike in sales for the online retailer after several major retailers stopped such sales.

    On Tuesday afternoon, Amazon would discontinue the sales, according to sources that Reuters cited.

    Major retailers Wal-Mart and Sears announced that they will no longer sell Confederate battle flag merchandise in their stores, but a spike in online sales on Amazon suggests that some people are turning elsewhere to buy the controversial emblem.

    Earlier Tuesday, the NewsHour reported that over the last 24 hours, sales of the Confederate battle flag were up 2,305 percent, according to Amazon’s Movers and Shakers Patio, Lawn and Garden section. The item’s sales rank shot up to 38 from 914, Amazon’s website said. The section is updated hourly.

    There was no immediate response from Amazon to a request for comment.

    Other retailers, including Wal-Mart, Sears, online marketplace website eBay and craft sales website Etsy, have said they will stop allowing sales of the Confederate flag.

    “We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the Confederate flag from our assortment — whether in our stores or on our website,” Wal-Mart spokesman Brian Nick said in a statement, Reuters reported Monday.

    And prominent Pennsylvania-based flag manufacturer Valley Forge Flag said that it would no longer make or sell the Confederate battle flag, Reuters reported Tuesday afternoon.

    The announcement came a day after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said that the Confederate battle flag should be removed from the front of the State House in Columbia.

    She said Monday that “150 years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come. This is a moment in which we can say that the flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our state.”

    In Mississippi, where voters in 2001 chose to keep the Confederate battle emblem as part of the state’s flag, state House Speaker and Republican Philip Gunn said it should now be removed.

    “We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us,” Gunn said in a statement, the Clarion-Ledger reported.

    These remarks came after Dylann Roof, 21, allegedly shot and killed nine African-Americans in a Charleston, South Carolina, church last week. Following the shooting, evidence emerged of Roof displaying the Confederate battle flag and supporting white supremacist ideas.

    The post After sales spike, Amazon joins retailers in pulling Confederate flag merchandise appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    WEST NEWTON, MA - JUNE 13:  After a screening of a NYU film student's film short "Plastic Migration" honoring the plastic pink flamingo, Donald Featherstone, the inventor of the plastic pink flamingo, answers audience questions in his trademark flamingo pattered shirt on June 13, 2004 in West Newton, Massachusetts.  The original plastic pink flamingo was made by Union Products, a plastics manufacturing company in Leominster, Massachusetts after it was invented by Donald Featherstone in 1957.  Citing the rising costs of electricity, plastic resin and financing, the plastic pink flamingo, age 49, met its demise.  Long venerated as an icon of American kitsch, the flamingo was in equal measures reviled and revered.  (Photo by Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images)

    Donald Featherstone, the inventor of the plastic pink flamingo, died Monday. Photo by Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images.

    Chances are, at some point you’ve seen a plastic pink flamingo, or perhaps a whole flock, adorning someone’s lawn. Wherever it was, you have Donald Featherstone to thank for that neon memory in your mind.

    Featherstone, the creator of the plastic pink flamingo, died Monday at age 79 after a battle with Lewy body dementia.

    “He was the nicest guy in the world,” Featherstone’s wife, Nancy Featherstone, told the AP. “He didn’t have a selfish bone in his body. He was funny and had a wonderful sense of humor and he made me so happy for 40 years.”

    WEST NEWTON, MA - JUNE 13:  Flamingos dot the landscape of Jill Hunter's house at a party held in honor of the plastic pink flamingo on June 13, 2004 in West Newton, Massachusetts.  The original plastic pink flamingo was made by Union Products, a plastics manufacturing company in Leominster, Massachusetts after it was invented by Donald Featherstone in 1957.  Citing the rising costs of electricity, plastic resin and financing, the plastic pink flamingo, age 49, met its demise.  Long venerated as an icon of American kitsch, the flamingo was in equal measures reviled and revered.  (Photo by Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images)

    The original plastic pink flamingo was made by Union Products, a plastics manufacturing company in Leominster, Massachusetts. Photo by Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images.

    Today — just one day after Featherstone’s death — is Pink Flamingo Day. The holiday was established in 2007 in the decorative birds’ homeland. The storied plastic pink fowl does not originally hail from Florida, as many might assume thanks to Miami Vice, but from Leominster, Massachusetts.

    When your name includes the word “feather,” you can expect a life gone to the birds. While working for plastic company Union Products, Featherstone — a trained sculptor– fashioned the pink bird in 1957 after spotting its real-life model in a National Geographic magazine. During the post-World War II era, the birds took flight in suburban yards across the country. Their popularity dipped in the 1960s when they were considered tacky, and became the quintessential symbol of kitsch. But they made a comeback in 1972 following the debut of John Waters’, “Pink Flamingos” — a film that has really nothing to do with pink flamingos.

    Photo by Flickr user Marcia Cirillo.

    Photo by Flickr user Marcia Cirillo.

    By the 1980s, Featherstone’s creation had evolved into an upper-class lawn accessory steeped in irony. As Smithsonian Magazine put it, the tchotchke became an elaborate “inside joke” that has been sold by the millions.

    In a 1986 interview with People magazine, Featherstone said,“I’d be happy to be remembered as the man who did the pink flamingo.”

    The post Creator of plastic pink flamingo dies one day before Pink Flamingo Day appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    The Obama administration grants gives more seven states and the District of Columbia waivers for more flexibility on No Child Left Behind requirements. Photo by Fuse/Getty Images

    The Obama administration grants gives more seven states and the District of Columbia waivers for more flexibility on No Child Left Behind requirements. Photo by Fuse/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is giving seven more states and the District of Columbia more flexibility from the requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law.

    In addition to Washington, Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday renewed waivers for Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New York, and West Virginia.

    Current law requires schools to use standardized tests in reading and math to measure student progress. Schools in states with waivers wouldn’t be excused from the testing requirements but instead could develop and implement their own plans to measure progress that go beyond the required testing.

    “The last six years have seen dramatic progress for America’s school children,” Duncan said in a statement. “The high school dropout rate is down, and graduation rates are higher than they have ever been.”

    The 2002 landmark education law signed by President George W. Bush required annual testing and put into place consequences for schools that didn’t show progress. It led to complaints that teachers were forced to teach to the tests, and that some of the mandates weren’t realistic.

    The Education Department, under President Barack Obama, began issuing waivers in 2012. Since then, 42 states and the District of Columbia have waivers.

    The post More states, DC receive waivers on No Child Left Behind standards appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    The U.S. national flag is pictured at the Office of Personnel Management building in Washington June 5, 2015. In the latest in a string of intrusions into U.S. agencies' high-tech systems, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) suffered what appeared to be one of the largest breaches of information ever on government workers. The office handles employee records and security clearances   REUTERS/Gary Cameron  - RTX1FAQF

    The U.S. national flag is pictured at the Office of Personnel Management building in Washington June 5, 2015. In the latest in a string of intrusions into U.S. agencies’ high-tech systems, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) suffered what appeared to be one of the largest breaches of information ever on government workers. The office handles employee records and security clearances REUTERS/Gary Cameron
    – RTX1FAQF

    WASHINGTON — The head of the government department that suffered two massive cyberattacks says a hacker gained access to the agency’s records with a credential used by a federal contractor.

    Katherine Archuleta, director of the Office of Personnel Management, told a Senate hearing on Tuesday that an “adversary” somehow obtained a user credential used by KeyPoint Government Solutions, a contractor based in Colorado.

    She didn’t say specifically when that occurred or if it was related to the two cyberbreaches that exposed private information about nearly every federal employee and personal histories of millions with security clearances.

    She says her agency has no evidence suggesting KeyPoint was responsible for or directly involved in the cyberattacks. She says her office has worked to add security controls to help protect its records.

    The post Hacker used federal contractor’s credentials, government director says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Aquaponics tank

    SchoolGrown’s auquapoincs farm and headquarters in Half Moon Bay, California. The organization shares space with Ouroboros Farms, a commercial aquaponics facility. Photo by SchoolGrown

    I grew up in Iowa, so I’ve spent a fair amount of time around farms. I’m well acquainted with tractors, silos, red barns and fields as far as the eye can see. So when I walked into a greenhouse recently for a story I was shooting about a very different type of agricultural production — aquaponics — I had to pause a bit and just take in the scene.

    As you walk into Ouroboros Farms, you’re greeted by six big, round bubbling tanks filled with thousands of fish, which are mostly catfish and a few koi. Beyond the tanks are a series of long troughs covered by hundreds of “rafts” with all sorts of dark leafy greens sprouting out. Tanks and troughs, fish and plants, are all connected by a complex pipe system. The fish feed the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fish. It was a quite a place: I swear you could hear the plants growing.

    Ouroboros is one of a few large-scale commercial aquaponics operations in the country. That makes the place fairly unique, but there’s another interesting story unfolding under the same roof. A new nonprofit called SchoolGrown is operating an aquaponics “classroom” right next to the commercial operation.

    Aquaponics

    School children on a field trip learn about auquapoincs from SchoolGrown co-founder Sundown Hazen. Photo by SchoolGrown

    SchoolGrown was started last year by a group of like-minded aquaponics enthusiasts who felt that students weren’t getting enough hands-on experiences growing food and learning about their connection to the world around them.

    The organization now hosts monthly workshops for adults and field trips for kids.

    They have a group of committed volunteers who help maintain their aquaponics system and harvest the produce. They even treated me to a delicious lunch during my visit: a freshly picked salad and catfish from their tanks.

    But their big focus now is on spreading aquaponics systems to schools around the country and teaching sustainable agricultural practices.

    “Farming is no longer about how to use a shovel and a rake,” says SchoolGrown Co-founder Sundown Hazen. “It’s about how to run a robot, and work the Web.
    Co-founder Sundown Hazen, who worked for 10 years at an Apple store in the Bay Area before starting the organization, says he was motivated in part because he wanted his own four daughters to be more aware of where their food comes from. And he felt that was something they might not get as part of their education.

    “We’ve seen that school gardens are often a burden for the schools,” said Hazen. “Few schools have resources to allocate to gardens on campus. Often parents and teachers are volunteering their time to keep them running, even on summer vacation. We looked at that and thought what could make a school garden sustain itself.”

    Hazen and co-founder Jon Parr, an engineer and aquaponics “guru,” decided that school gardens needed to be, in a sense, financially independent; they needed to make money and remove the burden of the school having to fund and care for them. That can’t be done with just a few tomato plants and several heads of lettuce, which is often the scope of most school gardens. You need a lot of produce, and people willing to buy it.

    So Parr got to work. He designed a 30 foot by 60 foot greenhouse, called a “L.E.A.F” (living ecosystem aquaponics facility) greenhouse, that houses an aquaponics system capable of producing roughly 1,000 pounds of produce a week. That’s a lot of valuable veggies.

    A sketch of the L.E.A.F greenhouse designed by Jon Parr. Illustration by Jon Parr/SchoolGrown

    A sketch of the L.E.A.F greenhouse designed by Jon Parr. Illustration by Jon Parr/SchoolGrown

    But the system is costly to setup — $75,000 to get the greenhouse up and running. That includes everything from building materials to fish, seeds and even solar panels on the roof. The $75,000 also includes salaries for two part-time staff who would be in the greenhouse for four hours every twice a week. Hazen says those workers will be the ones responsible for maintaining the system and harvesting, with the help of the students and staff.

    $75,000 is a sizeable amount for any school district, but SchoolGrown has come up with a funding mechanism they believe will work: $25,000 would come from 80 school families, or other families in the community, willing to buy a box of $25 produce for a school quarter or roughly 13 weeks; $25,000 from local community or business sponsorships (a local lumber company for example would get their name on the greenhouse if they donated lumber) and $25,000 from a crowdfunding website the organization has developed.

    “The greenhouse will owned by SchoolGrown,” said Hazen. “We lease the land from the school, which removes the burden and obligation from the school. After three years, which is the minimum commitment from the school, we can either continue with the operation, or dismantle it and move it to another location.”

    In addition to the advantages of working in the greenhouse — learning about fish and plants and their unique partnership in aquaponics systems — Hazen says that schools can use the farming system to each about many STEM — for science, technology, engineering and math — concepts like biology, math, chemistry and engineering. It even offers history lessons: A number of an ancient cultures used aquaponics systems to grow crops.

    Hazen and Parr have an even bigger goal for their project and related educational outreach programs: They want to inspire a new generation of farmers. A recent study found that there are more than 57,000 jobs available annually in agriculture, and only about 35,000 graduates with the training that would qualify them for those jobs.

    Hazen has seen those numbers and thinks students could benefit from the training they would get working on aquaponics systems.

    “Farming is no longer about how to use a shovel and a rake,” said Hazen. “It’s about how to run a robot, and work the Web. You need a level of technology now to grow food. Aquaponics is a good marriage of the old and the new. We need those jobs to be filled and we want people to be interested.”

    SchoolGrown’s first L.E.A.F. greenhouse will be built next month at San Lorenzo Valley High School in San Lorenzo, California. And the team will be traveling to Alaska soon to meet with a school hoping to build a system there in the coming months.

    Here’s what a school needs to have:

    • A flat site 40 feet x 70 feet within the campus fence and security, with electricity, water and vehicle access
    • Good southern sunlight exposure
    • A project champion willing and able to organize between local needs and SchoolGrown staff
    • A student/parent body willing and able to support the donation program for weekly produce boxes

    Learn more about SchoolGrown at their website.

    The post Nonprofit hopes to spread aquaponic farming to schools around the country appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    U.S. President Barack Obama (C) poses with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Leaders. Photo by REUTERS/Larry Downing

    Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Cathleen Cimino break down what you need to know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Photo by REUTERS/Larry Downing

    The Senate voted today to prevent a filibuster against Trade Promotion Authority, legislation essential to advance the Trans-Pacific Partnership, handing a welcome victory to President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

    Eleven days ago, on Friday, June 12, an adverse vote in the House of Representatives suddenly put the Trans-Pacific Partnership in danger of collapse. In a surprise attack worthy of Machiavelli, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) outflanked and embarrassed President Barack Obama by rallying Democrats to vote down Trade Adjustment Assistance—the companion legislation, long-favored by Democrats, to assist workers who lose their jobs on account of expanded trade.

    The June 12 vote cast a long shadow over the Trade Promotion Authority, also known as “fast track,” the legislation that ensures the expeditious passage of legislation by the U.S. Congress to implement the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade pacts. The passage of fast track legislation means that Congress cannot amend the final trade deal but can only vote the final deal up or down. For many Democrats, their support of Trade Promotion Authority depends on simultaneous passage of Trade Adjustment Assistance to ensure that dislocated workers get needed retraining and readjustment support.

    Refusing to take no for an answer, President Obama, along with his temporary ally House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), turned the tables and with deft parliamentary maneuvers, passed Trade Promotion Authority as a standalone bill, and then packaged Trade Adjustment Assistance with the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act to facilitate a positive vote in the House.

    Today, in a razor-thin victory for Obama, the Senate voted to end a filibuster on fast track legislation (Trade Promotion Authority) in a 60 to 37 vote. As a result, the Senate will likely make a final vote on the Trade Promotion Authority tomorrow and will only need a simple majority to pass the measure. A vote on the Trade Adjustment Assistance is scheduled later this week. Both votes will very likely lead to fast track legislation passage in both chambers, sending the bill to President Obama’s desk and clearing the way for Ambassador Michael Froman to wrap up the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

    Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), all U.S. trade pacts except one have been preceded by the passage of fast track legislation (or similar authority). Put simply, Trade Promotion Authority enables U.S. trade negotiators and their foreign counterparts to conclude an agreement knowing that the U.S. Congress cannot amend the text and will give the pact an expedited up-or-down vote. Congress has not yet voted down a trade agreement, but past history does not guarantee ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Given the difficult and convoluted passage of fast track legislation, we may be sure that once the final trade deal is concluded and the final text released, it will be vigorously condemned by the AFL-CIO, several non-governmental organizations like Public Citizen and the Sierra Club, and many members of Congress. Getting to “yes” on the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be just as hard as getting to “yes” on Trade Promotion Authority.

    Knowing that a full dress battle awaits, it’s worth reviewing the main elements of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP PRIMER

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the most substantial trade agreement ever conceived for the Asia-Pacific region. It would be the first “mega regional” of its kind: the 12 participating countries represent almost 40 percent of global output and 25 percent of global exports of goods and services. Dissatisfied with the lack of progress on the multilateral level, the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership countries are like-minded in their pursuit of a high-standard trade and investment agenda, but of course they have different priorities and sensitivities, which means that negotiations have not been easy.

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership heads the U.S. trade policy agenda for political, commercial and strategic reasons. Politically, the trade deal embodies President Obama’s famed “Asia pivot” and promises to be the centerpiece of Obama’s second-term legacy. Commercially, the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries account for about 36 percent of U.S. total two-way trade in goods and services. The United States already has free trade agreements with most of the Trans-Pacific Partnership members, but the pact would add Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand and Vietnam to the list of U.S. free trade agreements partners. Moreover, the Trans-Pacific Partnership would upgrade existing U.S. free trade agreements, including the venerable NAFTA. Strategically, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will demonstrate to Asian partners that U.S. engagement in the region has an economic focus, alongside the obvious military dimension.

    The trade deal negotiations are near the finish line and with the passage of fast track legislation they might be concluded by August 2015. The Trans-Pacific Partnership text, when finalized, will set precedents for global trade rules and advance trade and investment relations between member countries. The trade deal would also lead to greater economic integration throughout the region as it expands to new members, possibly achieving a long-held goal of free trade and investment within the entire Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation region.

    First, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will reduce and eventually eliminate traditional market access barriers to goods, services and agriculture—with some small exceptions. Equally important, the trade deal will shape standards and rules in several areas that have few or no disciplines in the multilateral trading system governed by the World Trade Organization. Examples include competition policy, direct investment, labor and environmental standards, and state-owned enterprises.

    Econometric estimates indicate that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will boost the real incomes of member countries by $285 billion over baseline projections by 2025, a gain of 1 percent that continues indefinitely. Japan and the United States would account for 64 percent of the total GDP gains. Exports of member countries will increase by $440 billion or 7 percent. Of course, these gains will require full implementation and national economic reforms to meet Trans-Pacific Partnership obligations and take advantage of new trade and investment opportunities.

    As a “living agreement” the Trans-Pacific Partnership will allow for future accession by new members, as well as periodic updating of its provisions. Korea has announced its interest in participating, while Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Taiwan are assessing the benefits of Trans-Pacific Partnership membership. Within a decade, the trade deal could also become a framework for meaningful bilateral engagement between the United States and China.

    TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP STICKING POINTS

    Not surprisingly, the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership partner countries are addressing the most difficult issues in the last leg of negotiations. If leaders can muster the political will to resolve the sticking points by August 2015, legislation could be enacted by the U.S. Congress by December 2015 in a best case scenario. We summarize some of the critical issues here.

    U.S.-Japan market access talks. Japan has resisted the complete elimination of tariffs on sensitive agricultural imports, including rice, beef, pork, dairy, wheat, barley and sugar. While Japan’s average most-favored nation applied tariff for agricultural products is 16.6 percent, peak tariffs reach nearly 700 percent. (Most-favored nation tariffs are the tariffs applied on all imports from countries that do not have a trade agreement with Japan.) Reducing these tariffs is a big deal since the United States is the top source of agricultural imports for Japan, accounting for about a quarter of Japan’s total farm imports. Beyond U.S. interests, several Trans-Pacific Partnership countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand also rely on meaningful agricultural market access in Japan to obtain the requisite domestic political support for their own concessions in the overall trade deal. U.S.-Japan talks have also linked the reduction of agricultural tariffs to the terms of market access in the auto sector. Other Trans-Pacific Partnership countries are still waiting for both sides to announce the terms of the bilateral deal so they can round out their own final offers.

    Intellectual property rights. Trans-Pacific Partnership members agree on high standards for protecting intellectual property, but negotiating positions differ on finer points. Sticking points include the period of data exclusivity for expensive drug tests, effective means of protecting trade secrets, and the liability of internet service providers for transmitting illegal or pirated material. Since U.S. firms generate vast amounts of intellectual property each year at huge expense, they rightly place great importance on the protection of these “crown jewels” abroad.

    State-owned enterprises. Trans-Pacific Partnership members are committed to new disciplines that level the playing field between state-owned enterprises—for example, a government-owned cement factory—and private firms by limiting, for example, the preferential access of state-owned enterprises to finance or new markets. Contentious aspects involve appropriate transition periods before new rules take effect, the possible carve out of selected state-owned enterprises from Trans-Pacific Partnership disciplines on accounting practices and governing boards and a requirement that state-owned enterprises open their procurement of goods and services to foreign firms.

    Labor and environment standards. Trans-Pacific Partnership members are crafting high-level labor and environmental obligations, which aim to bridge gaps in the previous commitments of developing country members, namely Malaysia and Vietnam. This will entail commitments to implement and enforce relevant multilateral agreements. With respect to labor, countries will commit to the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work promulgated by the International Labour Organisation. The Fundamental Principles prohibit, for example, discrimination in the workplace and child labor. With respect to environment, countries will commit to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which prohibits, for example, trade in ivory and rare parrots. U.S. negotiators have insisted that labor and environmental provisions be enforced by effective dispute settlement procedures.

    Investor-State Dispute Settlement. Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions enable investors from abroad to use dispute settlement proceedings against the host government if that government expropriates the investor’s property without adequate compensation or regulates its business in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner. Such dispute settlement proceedings are presided by an impartial panel of arbitrators. While Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions are standard in free trade agreement investment chapters, they have been hotly debated on account of alleged misuse of Investor-State Dispute Settlement procedures by multinational corporations. Trans-Pacific Partnership members disagree about the extent of carve-outs from Investor-State Dispute Settlements for health, safety and environmental regulations. Cigarette packaging laws or new carbon emission standards are two such examples.

    RATIFYING THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP

    Congressional passage of the Trade Promotion Authority, so-called fast track authority, will pave the way for the final stage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. With fast track legislation in hand, Ambassador Mike Froman can assure foreign trade ministers that U.S. concessions at the bargaining table will not be diluted by Congressional amendments. But neither Ambassador Froman nor President Obama can guarantee their foreign partners that Congress will ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
    Opponents will (and have already) loudly claim that, if ratified, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will reduce U.S. wages, cost U.S. jobs, jeopardize lives abroad and enable predatory corporations to resemble the dinosaurs in Jurassic World. We profoundly disagree with each of these claims. According to sound econometric estimates, the benefits to America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership will outweigh the costs to dislocated workers by more than 20 to one, and there is scant evidence that expanded trade depresses wages for the vast US workforce numbering 140 million. Nor is there any substantial evidence that trade agreements will deprive sick persons abroad of essential pharmaceuticals. But those debates are script for another day.

    The post What you need to know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    The "March for Black Lives" passes by the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina June 20, 2015 three days after a mass shooting left people nine dead during a bible study at the church.     REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RTX1HEVH

    The “March for Black Lives” passes by the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo by Reuters/Brian Snyder.

    The Westboro Baptist Church is claiming to picket the funerals of the victims killed in last week’s shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

    The church has used the hashtag, “God sent the shooter,” multiple times on Twitter following the tragedy. In response, online hacktivist group Anonymous says they will retaliate in person and online if Westboro church members attend any of the funerals.

    But perhaps more notable is that after the event page, “Human Wall Barrier to protect AME funerals,” popped up on Facebook, more than 2,000 of 10,000 invitees have clicked “attend.” Organizer Katharina Ross Garvin is requesting attendees to peacefully come to the funerals at Mother Emanuel in order to block Westboro church members from disrupting families of the victims: “Just people standing shoulder to shoulder in silence or possibly singing quietly.”

    Garvin is asking attendees to bring a six-pack of water with them, and nothing more.

    We will try to bring you live-streams of the funerals over the coming days. You can watch them below.


    Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

    The post ‘Human wall barrier’ planned against Westboro Baptist Church at Charleston funerals appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    nottrending

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: And now it’s time for our periodic look at interesting people and ideas online that you may have missed on the Web, a segment we call Not Trending.

    I recorded this conversation recently.

    There were several stories that caught our eye on the Web site OZY recently, including ones focused on some intriguing efforts with public education and matters of justice.

    Carlos Watson is the founder and CEO of OZY, and, as always, joins me now.

    CARLOS WATSON, CEO, OZY: Good to be with you.

    GWEN IFILL: I want to start by asking you about this gentleman Antwan Wilson. He’s the superintendent of schools in Oakland California, not a job for the faint of heart. In fact, he spends a lot of his time dodging spitballs.

    CARLOS WATSON: Dodging spitballs, sadly, but seriously, death threats, a lot of anger.

    Oakland, as you know, has been a place of protest for many years. They have never been afraid to protest. And when it comes to public education, which has not been good there, they have got a new superintendent, Antwan, comes from Denver, and is trying to change things in a fairly dramatic way.

    GWEN IFILL: What does he have to change? It seems like he has got everything that comes all together in this one municipality, whether it’s debate about Common Core or violence or academic standards for young black men.

    CARLOS WATSON: All in one place, and, unfortunately, a 67 percent high school graduation rate, whereas, in much of the country, it’s in the 80s and the 90s, so really difficult.

    He’s trying to tackle this in a couple of ways. One, he says the most important thing is, who is in the school buildings? Who are the teachers? Who are the principals? It’s been a little bit of a tough fight to try and hire different people. He’s had to increase salaries. But he’s always asked for more flexibility in saying yes and no to people.

    The charter school conversation, you have heard how difficult that’s become. He actually has said, you know what? We can coexist. Some of the public school superintendents have tried to push him aside. That’s been something he’s been open to, trying to reduce class sizes in some ways, trying to bring back that conversation, going from 30 students in the class sometimes down to 24, 25.

    GWEN IFILL: The fight is often left vs. right when we talk about education in this country. In Oakland, it’s left vs. left.

    CARLOS WATSON: You know, you are 100 percent right. And what a terrific and great way to say it.

    No, the protests are serious. If you go to one of the school board meetings, people would argue that he’s not doing enough. So, in some places, it’s, as you have said before, left vs. right — left vs. super left in Oakland.

    What’s interesting about Antwan Wilson, also, it follows — he’s one of the last reform superintendents. You remember when Michelle Rhee was such a big name?

    GWEN IFILL: Mm-hmm.

    CARLOS WATSON: Now there are very few.

    GWEN IFILL: Here in Washington, D.C.,

    CARLOS WATSON: Very few names across the country like that who have got that kind of compelling reform agenda.

    He’s one of the last, one of the few, one of the few black men.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let’s talk about something uplifting, even though it starts in a bad place.

    And that’s in a prison in Arizona. And it’s an effort, an interesting effort, and something that certainly isn’t trending, to kind of transform the lives of inmates.

    CARLOS WATSON: Very much so.

    So, you know today in the U.S., we have got north of two million people in prison. Almost half of them, when they leave prison, end up back in prison within a few years. And so a number of folks have said, is there a different way forward?

    And one of them is having some of the prisoners work with wild horses. So, in the West, in places like Arizona, over 40,000 kind of wild mustangs, Bureau of Land Management said, let’s take these horses in. Let’s try and tame them. And in some cases, let’s sell them or give them to others, including even working for the U.S. government.

    And now they have got a couple dozen prisoners who are working for four to sixth months at a time day in and day out, not making a lot, but maybe learning a little bit.

    GWEN IFILL: Is there any evidence that this kind of effort to deter recidivism actually takes holds, that once they connect with these wild horse, these wild animals, that perhaps they see a different purpose?

    CARLOS WATSON: There is.

    Before it started in Arizona, you saw it in Colorado. So it’s been around for 20-plus years. And the recidivism rate, the number of people who end up back in jail within three to five years, has been down to 15 percent in some of those cases vs. 50 percent-plus.

    So it can have dramatic impacts. Now, this program is new. It’s only been around a year-and-a-half. They’re working with a couple of dozen horses. But one of the things that Randy Helm, the guy who runs it, says is people have to learn that bad decisions are hard and good decisions are easy, and doing that with the horses in some cases, they hope, can teach that to some of the prisoners as well.

    GWEN IFILL: On that optimistic note, we’re talking about things Not Trending, as always, with Carlos Watson.

    CARLOS WATSON: Always good to be with you.

    GWEN IFILL: Thank you.

    CARLOS WATSON: Thank you.

    GWEN IFILL: You can find more of my conversation with Carlos online, a look at the president of a small African nation called the Gambia. He rules a regime increasingly criticized for human rights abuses with an iron fist. That’s at PBS.org/NewsHour.

    The post Not Trending: Can horses help rehabilitate inmates? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    jordandavisparents

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Now a different look at race, violence and justice.

    It’s contained in a new documentary about a case from Florida that asks many of the same questions that have dominated headlines from Ferguson, Missouri, to Staten Island, New York.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.

    WOMAN: A verdict in that high-profile murder case in Florida.

    MAN: That man accused of pulling a trigger at a gas station.

    WOMAN: He shot into a car full of teenagers.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It was a crime widely reported by news organizations around the country, including our own. It became known as the loud music case.

    GWEN IFILL: In November 2012, Dunn pulled into a gas station where four teenagers were parked in an SUV listening to loud music. After an argument, Dunn fired ten bullets at the SUV. Three of the teens, who were unarmed, were not hit. But Davis was and later died.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis by Michael Dunn in Jacksonville, Florida, happened just nine months after the Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, Florida.

    Together, the two cases brought to the fore a national dialogue about race, guns and Florida’s stand your ground law.

    911 Operator: Fire and Rescue. The address of your emergency?

    JEFFREY BROWN: The ensuing trial of Dunn is the subject of a new documentary directed by Marc Silver. It’s called “3 1/2 Minutes,” the length of time between the two cars arriving at the gas station and the fatal shots being fired.

    MAN: And you heard pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I spoke to director Marc Silver at the Sundance Film Festival, where the documentary premiered.

    MARC SILVER, Director, “3 1/2 Minutes”: I really find it interesting that we think we know something when we watch the news, but, often, when you start unpeeling the layers, there’s a bigger story underneath.

    The three things I was interested in were this idea of racial profiling, access to guns, and then the laws that give people the confidence to use those guns.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What do you think that you were able to bring out that didn’t come in that day to day?

    MARC SILVER: I think this idea of irreversible loss for Jordan’s parents.

    And I think, as an audience, when you start feeling empathy for the parents, I think you start reading the news in a different kind of way.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Jordan’s parents, Ron Davis and Lucia McBath, were there every day in the courtroom. And Silver spent countless hours interviewing them before and after the proceedings. They also attended the premiere.

    I wanted to start by asking you just about the decision to participate in the film.

    LUCY MCBATH, Mother of Jordan Davis: I was actually surprised that anyone would be interested in following us day to day and really understanding and learning the behind-the-scenes story that nobody ever knows outside of the trial.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What about for you?

    RON DAVIS, Father of Jordan Davis: When you have this type of tragedy, you cut off all your phones and you curl up in your bed, you know, and you don’t want to be bothered.

    And that’s OK, if that’s what you want to do for yourself and your family. But, at the end of the day, do I want the get a message out? Do I want to make sure that Jordan’s life and death meant something to not only the community, but across this nation? Did I want to get that out?

    And the best way to get that out is through film. So I decided, yes, let’s go ahead.

    Trayvon Martin’s father texts me, “I just want to welcome you to a club that none of us want to be in.”

    JEFFREY BROWN: But Davis and McBath have become deeply involved in the issue nationally, including meeting regularly with other parents whose children have been the victims of violence.

    RON DAVIS: I know that a lot of fathers, they are very bitter about this experience. My experience with Jordan, it has not been a bitter experience. And I think that, for the most part, it’s because we have so much support.

    We had a state attorney that fought for us, you know, in this trial. Most of the state attorneys, they are not fighting for the families.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The trial against Michael Dunn ended with three guilty verdicts for attempted murder of the three other young men in the car, but a mistrial on the murder charge of Jordan Davis.

    In a second trial, a new jury convicted Dunn of murder. And he was sentenced to life, plus 90 years in prison.

    Is the outcome with what happened with your son in these trials, do you think of it as a case where justice was served in the end?

    LUCY MCBATH: Even though we received the verdict we knew we should have received for Jordan, we still don’t have our child, just the memories.

    So, for all that it’s worth, the justice that we received is good, one, because it sets a precedent. It’s good for the nation to see that justice can be served. When you take hate and anger out of it and move directly for justice and the truth, it can work.

    RON DAVIS: At the end of the day, no matter how much time somebody gets, your son is dead. You have to visit your son at a cemetery.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, do you think a film can make a difference?

    LUCY MCBATH: Absolutely. I think film and media are the truest expressions and ways to educate people about race and ethnicity and religion and how we relate to one another.

    I think this is a tremendous opportunity, tremendous tool to be able to open that dialogue and get people beginning to even think about their own hidden ideas and opinions about race.

    MAN: Maybe they didn’t have a gun, but he thought they had a gun.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Filmmaker Marc Silver made one key decision that he hopes will help to universalize this story. Throughout the film, we see very few images of Jordan Davis himself.

    MARC SILVER: At least I thought, like, metaphorically, his story speaks to so many other black — young black men. And by not seeing Jordan that much in the film meant that you could apply what was being discussed in the film to all of these other dehumanized, nameless people.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s only when the credits roll that we see the young man who lost his life in those three-and-a-half minutes.

    I’m Jeffrey Brown for the “PBS NewsHour.”

     

     

    The post Parents of slain teen Jordan Davis turn to film to raise awareness appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    HANGING UP  phones

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s been more than a decade since the federal government first came up with a do not call registry to block unwanted phone calls. That move had a major impact initially. But in the years since, there’s been a big rise in the number of robocalls people get, those automated and recorded phone calls and texts that repeatedly go to your phone.

    The Federal Communications Commission is now giving phone companies more power to block or prevent robocalls if consumers request it.

    Tom Wheeler is the chairman of the FCC, and he joins me now.

    And welcome back to the program.

    TOM WHEELER, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission: Hello, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So how is this rule different than the previous one having to do with robocalls?

    TOM WHEELER: Well, the original rule is a result of a 1991 act of Congress. And 24 years ago, the world was a little different in terms of technology.

    The people who were making the calls that interrupted your dinner at that point in time literally were sitting down and dialing. And that technology, that approach got replaced by new technology that’s computerized, like everything else. So, they just feed a list of numbers in and all of a sudden a list of calls get made.

    And our rules didn’t keep pace with that, so that people were arguing that they had a legal right to do this. And we just said simply, stop. The consumer needs to be the one who is in charge. The consumer needs to give consent that they want to be called, or if they are called and haven’t given consent, to remove that consent by saying, don’t call me anymore, or by calling their phone company and saying, I don’t want to get these calls.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What about the argument from some companies out there who say, well, this is preventing us from doing legitimate phone calling, that this is really reaching too far?

    TOM WHEELER: Well, the key to legitimacy is that the consumer wants to be contacted. Now, we have got a couple of exceptions in the rule.

    For instance, if your bank discovers a bank fraud, they can call you automatically. If your hospital or doctor says, oh, there’s a medical emergency, they can call you automatically. But, basically, it comes down to, do you consent that you want to be called? You ought to be in control.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the other questions that’s been raised out there has to do with politics and public opinion polling.

    And the polls — people who do those polls say, this is a legitimate part of public policy-making. We need to know what the American people are thinking. And they’re saying this is going to be much harder to do that.

    TOM WHEELER: Well, the whole polling business has been evolving. Cell phones started it off, when — when folks moved to cell phones, and you couldn’t get those numbers and how do you sample that group?

    And I think that this is an evolutionary process for that polling business.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tom Wheeler, another initiative the FCC voted on last week has to do with giving a subsidy to low-income individual, families to make it easier for them to connect to the Internet. How would that work?

    TOM WHEELER: Well, again, this is something that goes back in time as well.

    During the Reagan administration, a decision was made that there should be subsidies for landline phone service, so that everybody can call 911. And then, during the second Bush administration, that was expanded to cell phones.

    And what we’re doing is twofold. One, we’re cleaning up some of the problems that were in the design of the previous program that frankly led to some fraud and abuse. And, secondly, we’re saying that those programs were in an era when a voice telephone call was the key to communicating.

    And, today, the key — excuse me — is broadband. You can’t apply for veterans’ benefits or get a job or do your homework unless you have broadband access in your home. And so how do we migrate from what was good in the 20th century to what’s necessary in the 21st?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Criticism out there, this is a program that has been accused of having fraud involved in it, having waste. The government’s own Government Accountability Office has said this. How do you address that?

    TOM WHEELER: So, one of the things that we have been doing for the last six years is a serious overhaul.

    But the problem with — the program was designed with serious flaws in it. For instance, there should have been from the outset a database that says, let’s make sure that there’s only one person in a home who is getting this benefit. That was never done and put in place until the last 12 months.

    There were design problems, saying, here, you shouldn’t have had the people who were receiving the benefits, the companies receiving the benefits certifying the recipients. That’s an invitation. That’s the fox guarding the henhouse. We’re going to change that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Another question that’s been raised is, this is a subsidy, but it’s a small subsidy. And Internet access costs a lot now. People expect the cost may go up. How do you know this is going to be enough of a subsidy to help people who really need that help to connect…

    (CROSSTALK)

    TOM WHEELER: Yes.

    I think what we are going to do is, we’re going to find out through the program itself. But I think that there is a serious buying opportunity in here. You know, I just got a notice on my cell phone saying that I had run over, and they were going to charge me $15 for another gig of data, $15 for a gig. OK.

    Now let’s say that I can band millions of customers together and not have some of the costs and overhead. Could I go to the companies and say, hey, would you sell me that for $9 instead? I think there may be some opportunities there. And that’s what we’re going to try and do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, overseeing some changes, thank you.

    TOM WHEELER: Thank you, Judy.

     

    The post Hate those robocall polls? The FCC is cracking down appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    greece island

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Athens today, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was forced to defend billions of dollars in budget savings that he offered in talks with the country’s creditors. Some in his own party accuse the leader of caving in to pressure for more austerity. The nation faces the prospect of bankruptcy if a deal with lenders isn’t reached by June 30.

    As if that’s not enough, Greece has also been hit with another crisis, which is straining its scarce resources even further.

    Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant explains in this report from one of the country’s famed islands.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: On the island of Lesbos, just four miles from the Turkish coast, it feels like the world is emptying and walking in this direction.

    MAN: Hi.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The exodus is propelled by war, tyranny, persecution and poverty. The magnetic pull of European prosperity and peace is impossible to resist.

    Soon, hostility and rejection will temper the emotion of a safe landfall. But, for the moment, euphoria validates the exorbitant one-way ticket.

    ERIC KEMPSON, Volunteer Refugee Helper: Got a boat in, mostly Afghanistanis, took about 25 minutes to come across, mainly five, six children. That boat, there was about 50 people. So, it would be $50,000, American U.S. dollars. It’s $1,000 a head for the traffickers.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Dawn compels an English exile, Eric Kempson, to shepherd the one-way tide towards a network of helping hands.

    ERIC KEMPSON: One day, we had 11 boats in on these beaches alone. I just look after a small bit of coastline, and they come all the way down around the island, so, that morning, over a half-a-million dollars just on these beaches here in a couple hours.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Since the start of the year, an estimated 25,000 migrants, a quarter of all those entering Europe illegally, have landed on the shores of Lesbos. For an island with a population of 90,000, the strain is colossal.

    Where have you come from?

    ALI BAKSHI, Afghan Migrant: I come from Afghanistan. There is no peace in Afghanistan.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: So, how happy are you to be in Europe?

    ALI BAKSHI: I am very happy to come to — to come to Europe.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Because?

    ALI BAKSHI: Because there is peace. There is a lot of everything.

    DIMITRIS VARTIS, Former Mayor of Molyvos: Thank you very much, yes.

    It’s terrible, what’s happening to these people.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Dimitris Vartis is the former mayor of the town of Molyvos.

    DIMITRIS VARTIS: I’m trying to direct them to go to the place where usually people, local people help them. They will prepare right now sandwiches and water and other things that they’re going to give them.

    What kind of sympathy? The sympathy of the people that they lost their country, the sympathy that I will have for my people here or anybody else that are under these conditions, under the war that is happening, that’s going on there. They are forced to leave their country. That’s the sympathy that you can have about these people.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But these are the worst of times in Greece. As the country struggles with a deepening financial crisis, not everyone shares these islands’ culture of unconditional generosity toward strangers.

    MAN: You got a few people coming down and bringing in everything. So, I think they’re right-wing. There’s one here now. If you swing around and look at — oh, he is looking at me now.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: What do you think of these people coming in here?

    MAN: I don’t know.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The man on the motorbike later told me he was just a port policeman checking out the situation.

    At the port in Molyvos, pleasure boat captain Pantelis Tiniakos is worried that his livelihood will be damaged by tourists canceling hotel reservations.

    PANTELIS TINIAKOS, Cruise Boat Captain: It’s my business. I have no — we give anything we have to them, but it’s not money. It’s not enough. It’s not enough.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Do you get the sense that people are uncomfortable? Does it make people uncomfortable?

    RUSSELL GILBERT, Magazine Editor: I think, primarily, it’s the first-time visitors who don’t want the unsightliness and the uncertainty, particularly the moral uncertainty of coming to a situation where you have all these people who are struggling.

    So, yes, absolutely, a lot of people are saying, well, I don’t want to see this sort of thing on my holiday, but for various different moral and selfish reasons. The impact for tourists themselves, I think, is absolutely minimal. Face-to-face, there is no damage to you. There are no threats to you from these people at all. These people want help. They’re not looking to give you any trouble or problems.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The Greek authorities forced the migrants to walk 40 miles to the town of Mytilene to be registered and sent on to Athens.

    In the Greek summer heat, it’s hardest on the children. The numbers landing on Lesbos have gone up sixfold in the past few months. It soon becomes obvious where these people have come from, Syria.

    MAN (through translator): Bashar al-Assad, may God remove your mother’s eyes. May God remove your mother’s eyes. Bashar al-Assad, he destroyed our homes.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Although major relief agencies have been aware for months that Lesbos is a key gateway, there is no international presence the deal with one of history’s biggest ever refugee crises.

    TARIQ BABA, Syrian Migrant; The military wanted me to kill people. I told them, I cannot do that because I am Syrian, and I know that all those arriving, they are Syrian people. They go for freedom like this. They said, no, they are foreign. You have to kill them. They are from al-Qaida, like this. You have to kill them. I told them, they are my family. I know them.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: This man requested that his identity be kept secret for his family’s safety.

    MAN: I don’t think any people in this world live like us. In Europe, I hope the peace. That’s all, the peace for life. I am human being.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Anja Franck, a peace studies researcher, comes from Sweden, which has an open borders policy and has promised to accept 100,000 Syrian refugees a year.

    ANJA FRANCK, Gothenburg University: It’s quite unbelievable what type of burden they have left Greece with. I think it’s — this is a European problem. Most of the people who arrive here, they’re just in transit. They don’t want to go to Greece. They want to go on to Europe. And European countries and the European leaders have not taken the responsibility that they should.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: At this temporary camp run by the Greek coast guard, everyone is camera-shy, the refugees and the authorities, who order me to stop filming because I don’t have a permit.

    (SHOUTING)

    MALCOLM BRABANT: In this phone video, you can hear the Coast Guard’s anger as they go through the camp with batons raised. The migrants become agitated as the atmosphere degenerates.

    I have been spotted again and ordered to leave.

    What’s happening behind me is a real sign of the tension on the island of Lesbos. I’m in the town of Mytilene, and behind me are about 300 or 400 Syrians who have just run away from a temporary refugee camp, saying that they were attacked by Afghans. They come down here, and they are asking the police to protect them, to register them and to send them to Athens for their own safety.

    MAN: They start to attack us with a little knife, and they hit us, and rocks — the sky rained with rocks.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Europe fears that ISIL sleepers are hiding among genuine refugees.

    THANOS DOKOS, Hellenic Foundation for Defence and Foreign Policy: This is certainly a concern, because you have hundreds of people crossing every day, plus a large Muslim migrant population in the country. So, statistically, some of these people, a very tiny minority, but still a few of them, will not be good persons. Some of them could probably be jihadists.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: On Lesbos, the islanders are doing what they can to save tourism and stay afloat financially. But their appeals to northern countries for assistance are being rejected.

    Their stance was outlined by Daniel Hannan, a member of the European Parliament for Britain’s Conservatives, in Copenhagen to help the election campaign of the anti-immigrant people’s party.

    DANIEL HANNAN, European Parliament Conservative: It’s so easy to try and signal your compassion by saying the government ought to do something, but the reality is that, if we have more amnesties and more people being granted right to remain here, we are encouraging more and more people to make this hellish crossing.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: In its latest report, Amnesty International says countries must prioritize, saving people in distress over implementing immigration policies. But much of Europe isn’t listening.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” this is Malcolm Brabant in Lesbos.

     

    The post Already suffering Greece struggles with flood of migrants appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...

older | 1 | .... | 625 | 626 | (Page 627) | 628 | 629 | .... | 1175 | newer


Loading...