Articles on this Page
- 07/02/15--15:14: _What does Jim Webb ...
- 07/02/15--15:15: _Ta-Nehisi Coates on...
- 07/02/15--15:20: _From the big bang t...
- 07/02/15--15:25: _Two cities, two ver...
- 07/02/15--15:30: _More LGBT weddings?...
- 07/02/15--15:35: _Labor participation...
- 07/02/15--15:40: _Did airlines coordi...
- 07/02/15--15:45: _After a long legal ...
- 07/02/15--15:50: _News Wrap: Finance ...
- 07/02/15--15:54: _June’s unemployment...
- 07/03/15--15:10: _The father-son team...
- 07/03/15--15:15: _A ‘quartet’ of patr...
- 07/03/15--15:20: _‘Amazing Grace,’ a ...
- 07/03/15--15:30: _As Team USA hits it...
- 07/03/15--15:35: _Shields and Brooks ...
- 07/03/15--15:40: _Security officials ...
- 07/03/15--15:44: _Lock and Load for N...
- 07/03/15--15:45: _Yes or no on bailou...
- 07/03/15--15:50: _News Wrap: Syrian g...
- 07/04/15--08:52: _8 things you didn’t...
- 07/02/15--15:14: What does Jim Webb believe? Where the candidate stands on 10 issues
- 07/02/15--15:15: Ta-Nehisi Coates on discussing racism directly, honestly
- 07/02/15--15:25: Two cities, two very different responses to rising sea levels
- 07/02/15--15:30: More LGBT weddings? More wedding cakes!
- 07/02/15--15:35: Labor participation has hit a 38-year low, and that’s a problem
- 07/02/15--15:40: Did airlines coordinate to limit capacity and keep fares up?
- 07/02/15--15:50: News Wrap: Finance minister warns Greeks against austerity vote
- 07/02/15--15:54: June’s unemployment dip means more Americans leaving the workforce
- 07/03/15--15:10: The father-son team who make a Capitol Fourth pop
- 07/03/15--15:15: A ‘quartet’ of patriots who brought the United States together
- 07/03/15--15:20: ‘Amazing Grace,’ a song of suffering to pull us together
- 07/03/15--15:30: As Team USA hits its stride for finals, ratings on the rise, too
- 07/03/15--15:44: Lock and Load for New Horizons, Flight Plan for Pluto Probe Is Set
- 07/03/15--15:45: Yes or no on bailout referendum, how should Greece vote?
- 07/03/15--15:50: News Wrap: Syrian government troops fight militant attack in Aleppo
- 07/04/15--08:52: 8 things you didn’t know about the Fourth of July
Famously Scottish-American, Jim Webb is a Marine veteran and former Secretary of the Navy who has written 10 books and is the creative force behind
Budget: Cut the budget by reviewing all programs. Support military funding.
Webb told the Des Moines Register editorial board in June that he would cut the federal budget by calling for “bottom-up program reviews” in all federal agencies. In a December 2014 press conference, the Democrat told reporters that as president he would work across party lines to try and reduce the national debt. As a senator, Webb voted against a balanced budget amendment. As Secretary of the Navy, Webb resigned from office in protest over proposed budget cutbacks at the Pentagon.
Climate change and energy: Limit EPA power to regulate emissions. Expand energy access. Build the Keystone Pipeline.
While in the U.S. Senate, Webb voted for an amendment to at least temporarily block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions, arguing that the nation’s energy concerns were pressing and Congress needed to have more input in regulation. He has strongly advocated energy expansion, including construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and drilling off the coast of Virginia.
Guns: Gun ownership is an important right.
An advocate for less restrictive access to guns, Webb sees the issue as a critical self-defense right. The former senator himself has held a permit to carry a weapon in Virginia and defended his ownership when an aide brought one of his loaded pistols to Capitol Hill, violating Washington, D.C., law at the time. Webb has voted to allow firearms in checked baggage on Amtrak trains and co-sponsored a bill to repeal some of D.C.’s restrictions and requirements on gun ownership.
Immigration: Allow a path to citizenship after the border is secure. Support the DREAM Act.
Webb supports a possible path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally after the border is secure. In the U.S. Senate, he voted against the 2007 McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill. A year later he supported a bill to expand and reinforce fencing along the United States’ southwest border. In 2010, Webb voted for the DREAM Act, which would have given legal status to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Webb called President Obama’s executive actions to waive deportation for some undocumented workers “legal” but also stated that he is “not a believer in executive orders.”
Obamacare: President Obama mishandled the process. The law could have been narrower.
A critical yes vote for the Affordable Care Act in 2009, Webb has since criticized the way President Obama handled the debate, saying it should have been more focused. The former Virginia senator has said that the health care law could have been smaller in scope.
Prison Reform: Initiate sweeping reform of criminal justice and incarceration system.
Starting in 2006, Webb called for more attention to the incarceration rate in the U.S., authoring a bill to initiate widespread reform in the criminal justice system. The former senator has especially focused on high prison rates for minorities and failures to address addiction and mental illness.
Social Issues: Same-sex marriage should be legal. Government has no role in private matters. Allow abortion access.
In a Facebook post, Webb applauded the Supreme Court’s June decision on same-sex marriage, saying it prevents discrimination while giving religious opponents First Amendment protection. In 2006, Webb defined marriage as between a man and a woman and in 2014, he praised the country’s evolution on gay marriage.
The Virginia native supports the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion and has said government power should stop at the front door.
Taxes: Cut corporate taxes. Raise taxes on investments.
Speaking in Richmond at the end of 2014, Webb outlined a tax reform plan: He would cut corporate taxes at the same time as raising taxes on capitol gains and eliminating loopholes. He generally opposes any tax increases on regular pay and voiced a clear “no” to President Obama’s 2012 plan to raise taxes on the wealthy.
Iran and Israel: End current negotiations with Iran.
A hawk on many military issues, Webb has strongly criticized current talks between the Obama administration and Iran. The former senator argues that the U.S. has not demanded enough concessions from Iran and that the White House must get the consent of Congress before moving further. Webb told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the U.S. needs a more clear policy toward the Middle East.
Islamic State and Iraq: The U.S. needs a clear strategy. Unknown if he would send troops to fight Islamic State. Presidents should limit military action.
The presidential candidate has repeatedly said that the U.S. lacks a clear strategy in Iraq and the region. He has not specifically said if he would send U.S. troops to fight Islamic State militants. The former Navy secretary told the NewsHour in February that he would not want American military to become an “occupying force.” In 2014, Webb told “Meet the Press” that he believes no U.S. president has the right to unilaterally send troops to foreign territory where no Americans are directly at risk or no treaties are in effect. In 2002, the former Marine wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post sharply criticizing a potential invasion of Iraq and arguing that such an invasion could force a U.S. military presence in the region for decades.
The post What does Jim Webb believe? Where the candidate stands on 10 issues appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tonight, we close with another Brief But Spectacular, our series of interviews featuring insights from artists, authors, leaders and thinkers, telling us briefly about their passions.
Tonight, producer Steve Goldbloom speaks to Atlantic magazine national correspondent Ta-Nehisi Coates about the role of police in African-American communities.
TA-NEHISI COATES, The Atlantic: I was born September 30, 1975, in West Baltimore.
I grew up in the 1980s and the early ’90s in a very, very violent time. And I love journalism, because, you know, it gives you a license to answer, you know, all the questions that you have, you know, in the back of your mind.
What people perceive you as is an expert, but, in fact, what you are, if you’re doing journalism right, is you’re an actual student. When you write about the impact of white supremacy in this country, there’s a great deal of energy spent on making sure that people who are different than you understand what you’re saying.
And I actually think that actually corrupts language, because you end up softening things. You actually end up insulting people’s intelligence. I’m really not thinking about how to get the average white reader to see my perspective. I’m trying to communicate as directly and forcefully and honestly as possible.
All of these cases where we’re seeing this black lives matter movement come up, there has been a great deal of focus on what’s being called police reform. My argument is, in fact, we have a much, much deeper problem, and that is that we are asking the police to do certain things that maybe they shouldn’t do.
Take that horrible video you see where Walter Scott is shot in the back by an officer. And one of the reasons why Walter Scott was running is because he had been brought up before on child support cases. But what should we actually be doing about this problem of child support?
Is jail actually the answer? Should we actually be jailing people for this? Freddie Gray is another case that you have a situation where a gentleman is in an area that we designate as high crime. He makes the mistake of making eye contact with a police officer, and then he runs.
The reason why Freddie Gray was arrested was because we had made a decision that we’re going to pursue our drug policy in a certain way in that area. Why did we have police there in the first place? Why did we have a situation in which we decided the police will be able to arrest people effectively or stop and search somebody effectively because they look suspicious?
Mental health, mental health is probably the biggest one. We have a situation in which, if you have any sort of mental health issue in this country, and you have an interaction with a police officer, you know, you might well end up dead.
Police officers walk around with guns. Do we want our mental health workers walking around with guns? There are other ways that we can think about doing this, but we have decided not to.
The expectation that, you know, catching things on tape is going to save us is, you know, I would say, deeply flawed. Even sometimes when things are caught on tape, like Eric Garner’s killing here in New York, that doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is going to happen.
You really can’t be an African-American in this country and see, say, the Walter Scott video and be completely amazed. You just don’t have the luxury of living that way. You have had interactions with police. You know people who bad things have happened to just for being who they are.
My name is Ta-Nehisi Coates. This is my brief, but spectacular take on the legacy of white supremacy and its continuing function in our society today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can get a first look at our series Brief But Spectacular every Thursday on the PBS NewsHour page on Facebook.
The post Ta-Nehisi Coates on discussing racism directly, honestly appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tonight, we begin a two-part look at the iconic music group the group Grateful Dead, who are this week preparing for their final reunion concerts in Chicago.
First up, we focus on longtime Dead drummer Mickey Hart and his fascination with finding sounds in the most unlikely places.
Special correspondent Mike Cerre takes us on a very special trip to learn more.
MICKEY HART, Drummer, Grateful Dead: This is really the sounds of the universe. This is what the cosmos sounds like.
Pythagoras found the secrets of the universe, the rhythm of the universe, the mathematics of the universe through just a long string which vibrated. If I had any guru, it would have to be Pythagoras, and of course rhythm is the god.
MIKE CERRE: In the pantheon of rock ‘n’ roll gods, the Grateful Dead have always been known for their somewhat cosmic approach to music. As one of its founding drummers, Mickey Hart has spent the better part of his professional life outside of the Grateful Dead exploring the cultural and scientific basis of good vibrations.
MICKEY HART: The universe is made up of vibrations. I have been very interested in sonifying the universe, the cosmos, the sun, the Big Bang, taking those radiations from telescopes, radio telescopes, and turning that radiation into sound, which I make music out of and compose with, in the macro, and now in the micro with the brain waves, heart rhythms, DNA, stem cells.
All of these have a sound. And so we take these sounds in and we embed them in the music.
MIKE CERRE: Mickey’s search for the universal source of rhythm has gone intergalactic and all the way back to the beginning of the cosmos.
MICKEY HART: The moment of creation, beginning of time and space, when the blank page of the universe exploded and it created the stars, the planets, black holes, pulsars, supernovas, this was the beginning of time and space, and then us. And then we are still now toying with this rhythmic stimuli that was created 13.7 billion years ago.
GEORGE SMOOT, University of California, Berkeley: What is needed is someone who is artistic to hear these sounds and be inspired by them and turn them into something that is really pleasing for people to hear.
MIKE CERRE: Astrophysicist George Smoot earned a Nobel Prize for his work in charting the origins of what many believe to be the beginning of creation, with the Big Bang. He’s also a longtime Dead Head.
MICKEY HART: He can show me waveforms of the first million years and all that. And that’s really great. But as soon as I see it, I said, give me those waveforms, George. And let’s see what they sound like. And let’s dance to those things. And George said, yes.
MIKE CERRE: With the help of the University of California at Berkeley’s supercomputer, Smoot’s team converted light wave traces from the Big Bang into sound waves for Mickey to work with.
MICKEY HART: Because it’s very inharmonic. It’s very dense. There’s a lot of collisions up there, and there’s a lot of bumps and grinds and pulses and stuff and noise, which you wouldn’t call music.
But I take it, and I make it into what the human ear would call music, so we can enjoy it.
We’re getting there, George. I’m getting there, George.
MIKE CERRE: This was one of Mickey Hart’s first laboratories for his scientific experiments. He and the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia used to sneak onto the Golden Gate Bridge at night when it was closed to pedestrians, sometimes armed with rubber mallets, so they could record the vibrations of the bridge and include them in the Grateful Dead performances in the ’60s and ’70s, during the band’s heyday.
Years later, he worked with the Exploratorium museum and the National Science Foundation on creating a replica of the bridge with sensors, so he could actually play it as a musical instrument. And he did, with great fanfare, for the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th anniversary.
MICKEY HART: Now, I would like to do something with it, as it is as important as playing Grateful Dead music.
See, the thing about music is that you take the feeling that you get from music and you take it out in the world and you do some good with it. It can be used for other things than dancing and pleasure. It can be used as medicine. When I played a drum for my grandmother who had Alzheimer’s, she spoke my name. She hadn’t spoken in a year. That was power. Where did it come from? How did this do that?
MIKE CERRE: Dr. Adam Gazzaley, a research neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco, is working with Mickey on identifying rhythms that can stimulate different parts of diseased and damaged brains.
DR. ADAM GAZZALEY, University of California, San Francisco: Mickey’s wearing an E.G. cap, and each of these electrodes are detecting those very subtle signals that have rhythmic activity being generated by the neurons in his brain. Quite a nice looking brain.
MICKEY HART: Thank you. Thank you. I like it.
DR. ADAM GAZZALEY: Mickey should be proud of that brain.
So, this a live recording right now of Mickey’s brain.
MICKEY HART: The only way to find the code on how music works is through science. And that’s my relationship with Adam Gazzaley and other scientists, to find, how does it work on the brain?
DR. ADAM GAZZALEY: So if you can prescribe a certain rhythmic treatment and actually validate that there is an outcome that is reproducible, it would be a really powerful way of looking at modern medicine.
MICKEY HART: It seems like a very natural thing from my research in music and medicine. The shaman use drums. They use rattles in all their forms of healing. So it’s not something that we’re inventing, but we’re progressing because of science.
MIKE CERRE: A team of stem cell researchers at the Gladstone Institute at the University of California, San Francisco, are working with Mickey on identifying impulses generated by brain and heart cells.
DR. DEEPAK SRIVASTAVA, Gladstone Institutes: The idea is that we might be able to, with Mickey Hart’s approach, convert that electrical energy into sound and be able to map differences between diseased cells versus normal cells.
MICKEY HART: So, we will know what frequencies, what rhythms have been cut or broken and then be able to replace that with a healthier rhythm, a healthier sound, a healthier frequency perhaps that will make this a therapy, a legitimate science.
MIKE CERRE: For the Grateful Dead’s upcoming 50th anniversary concerts, Mickey Hart is pulling out all the science stops and digging deep into his research of the origins of rhythm and good vibrations to create one of the band’s signature rhythm devils sequences with drummer Bill Kreutzmann for the Grateful Dead’s final performance together.
MICKEY HART: Pythagoras is the owner of this, actually. He’s the guy.
MIKE CERRE: And what are people going to hear for the 50th anniversary that maybe no one has ever heard before?
MICKEY HART: Oh, they’re going to hear the lowest note sounded in a concert, which is 19 cycles that you can’t really go to.
MIKE CERRE: And will you feel that in your chest?
MICKEY HART: Oh, yes, you will feel it all over. It will vibrate your whole body. And it won’t scare you. It will just make you feel really good. It’s kind of just like a bath.
MIKE CERRE: For the PBS NewsHour, this is Mike Cerre reporting from San Francisco.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I can already feel it.
We will have more on the Grateful Dead and the band’s final concerts on Monday.
The post From the big bang to cosmic vibrations, Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart plays the rhythm of the universe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tonight, the NewsHour begins a series on the way communities prepare and survive disasters, both natural and manmade.
NewsHour special correspondent Jackie Judd brings us a tale of two cities, both on the Atlantic Seaboard.
JACKIE JUDD: The crane towering over Rockaway Beach is a symbol of New York City’s urgent, almost frantic effort to prevent a repeat of what happened in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy nearly brought the city to its knees.
DANIEL ZARRILLI, Mayor’s Office and Recovery and Resiliency, New York City: We have 520 miles of shoreline. We have always been at risk of coastal inundation, but Sandy really changed the way we think about that risk and how we engage with the waterfront.
JACKIE JUDD: The response is not simply about minimizing hurricane damage. The larger issue, the issue making hurricanes more destructive, is sea level rise caused by climate change and a warming planet.
BENJAMIN STRAUSS, Climate Central: We’re not labeling things with sea level rise when we should be.
JACKIE JUDD: Ben Strauss is a scientist with the research organization Climate Central.
BENJAMIN STRAUSS: A storm comes in, we have a damaging flood, and we say we had a storm, we had a flood. But every flood is deeper, bigger, and more damaging because of the sea level rise we’ve already had.
JACKIE JUDD: In the last century, the sea rose at least eight inches, and the rate has been accelerating since the 1990s.
In the Rockaways, Mayor Bill de Blasio, recently and with great fanfare, opened the first stretch of a new concrete boardwalk built above the floodplain to replace the wooden one Sandy destroyed.
BILL DE BLASIO (D), Mayor of New York: This is also part of resiliency, because all of these measures will protect, not just the boardwalk, protect the community beyond the boardwalk.
JACKIE JUDD: The boardwalk, so close to homes and businesses damaged by Sandy, is designed to hold back storm surge. It is only a piece of a $20 billion blueprint resulting from a collaboration with the state and federal governments and climate change scientists.
Dan Zarrilli, who oversees the city’s efforts, says first came an assessment of the city’s risks and vulnerabilities, and from there, the more granular questions, dealing with hardening old infrastructure and building new infrastructure to withstand poundings in the coming decades.
DANIEL ZARRILLI: Even just considering the 2050 scenarios, about 8 percent of the city’s shoreline could be flooded on a daily basis, just due to high tide, not even during a coastal storm event.
And so thinking through the implications on neighborhoods, the investments we need the make to reduce risk and to handle that level of inundation is something that’s driving our policies around our entire coastal protection plan.
JACKIE JUDD: New York City’s aggressive efforts to prevent future catastrophe is not an approach that all cities facing rising sea level rise and other consequences of climate change are following.
Take Charleston, South Carolina, which is known as low country for a reason. This spot just near the center of the city is only several feet above sea level.
Sandy Bridges owns a small boutique nearby, in Charleston’s vibrant Tourist District.
SANDY BRIDGES, Business Owner: High tide, rainy day, we just always experience flooding here.
JACKIE JUDD: Guaranteed?
SANDY BRIDGES: It comes right up to my doorstep on a really heavy downpour.
JACKIE JUDD: This is what it looked like near her store in 2012 after Hurricane Isaac brushed by the city.
The fast-growing region is one of the Eastern Seaboard’s most vulnerable. Waterways snake through the city and neighborhoods have been built on landfill. Flooding has plagued the city for generations, but it’s getting worse.
CHRIS CARNEVALE, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy: At a particularly high tide, floodwater already comes in through the seawall and through the sidewalk and it fills the street right here at this intersection.
JACKIE JUDD: Environmentalist Chris Carnevale says sometimes it doesn’t even take rain during an unusual high tide to trigger what the locals call nuisance flooding.
CHRIS CARNEVALE: We used to see about four-and-a-half days of nuisance flooding per year in the mid-20th century. Now we’re up to about 23 days per year. When we project that into the future, as seas continue to rise, that’s going to look — that’s going to be many more days per year.
JACKIE JUDD: Even so, business owners, scientists and environmentalists say, unlike New York, officials are moving too slowly in planning and seeking the necessary funds.
FRANK KNAPP, South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce: They are taking some efforts, but those efforts are simply very inadequate.
JACKIE JUDD: Frank Knapp organized small business owners to agitate for swifter action. They have posted blue tape on door fronts to remind tourists of the flood line in a surge.
FRANK KNAPP: When the public actually takes the time to learn about the inundation threats under very small levels of sea level rise, one or two feet, I think they’re going to be very shocked and they’re going to be demanding that the city start doing some planning.
JACKIE JUDD: It’s been more than a quarter-century since Charleston had its Sandy, Hurricane Hugo in 1989. So that sense of urgency is absent. And in a politically conservative state such as South Carolina, climate change is a difficult subject.
BRIAN HICKS, The Post and Courier: They put that report in a drawer. They didn’t want it to see the light of day.
JACKIE JUDD: Political columnist Brian Hicks says, in 2011, scientists at the state Department of Natural Resources produced a report intended to sound the alarm, but political appointees shelved it.
BRIAN HICKS: When they did finally release it, they changed the executive summary, and there were all these things about, you know, that some scientists think this, and some scientists think that. It was very much a denial factor here, and they deep-sixed it.
JACKIE JUDD: Predictions for sea level rise in the next 100 years range from one foot to six feet. In Charleston, the creeping blue in this government map shows flooding that would occur at high tide with one to five feet of sea level rise. The higher end would wreck havoc.
Liz Fly is part of a team of state scientists overseeing coastal conservation.
ELIZABETH FLY, South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium: There is the risk and likelihood of some communities going underwater with increased sea level rise.
JOSEPH RILEY, Mayor of Charleston, South Carolina: Climate change is not going to remove Charleston from the landscape.
JACKIE JUDD: Joe Riley is the longtime mayor of Charleston.
JOSEPH RILEY: There’s no cause for — to despair. It’s all — the incremental improvements will protect this beautiful, historic city.
JACKIE JUDD: The most significant improvements to date, according to Mayor Riley, are fortifications to the battery at the point of the Charleston Peninsula, and this extensive new drainage system designed to pull water out of the city as fast as it comes in.
But there is no broad adaptation plan in place.
Are you planning on a one-foot rise? Is that the working assumption?
JOSEPH RILEY: We’re planning on a range. It’s incremental. We — and each year or decade, you will further calibrate that.
JACKIE JUDD: What is the range?
JOSEPH RILEY: Well, the range, you need to ask our resiliency people, but we’re — we see some — some a foot, some less than a foot, some more than a foot.
JACKIE JUDD: Mayor Riley later clarified that he wasn’t suggesting one foot was adequate for planning and described the drainage project as only a serious beginning to Charleston’s preparations.
Still, the administration has significant catching up to do.
ELIZABETH FLY: It’s important for a community to look at that range of scenarios and think about their risk management, and think about what decisions are high-risk, and so maybe you should plan for a more extreme case of sea level rise, while some other decisions, it might be OK to plan for.
JACKIE JUDD: But that — that has not been decided in Charleston, right?
ELIZABETH FLY: No.
JACKIE JUDD: New York City’s robust approach is more the exception than the rule along the East Coast, especially among smaller cities like Charleston.
BENJAMIN STRAUSS: This is a hard issue to really digest and tackle. We have no legal precedent, we have no institutional precedent for the idea that land will be disappearing. And we’re ultimately going to need to take a very deep look at it to preserve the heritage of our city.
SANDY BRIDGES: One hundred years ago, they started planning and preserving and conserving Charleston. And 100 years from now, I want another little local business owner to be able to stand here and say the same thing. So, that’s what honestly concerns me, is that, 100 years from now, this could be lost.
JACKIE JUDD: Charleston Mayor Riley compares the threat of rising sea to an enemy invasion, which is just how New York City is behaving as it builds new defenses. For both cities, there is no doubt that enemy is on the horizon.
For the NewsHour, this is Jackie Judd in Charleston.
The post Two cities, two very different responses to rising sea levels appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the days since the Supreme Court made gay marriage legal around the nation, our correspondent Paul Solman has been looking at the likely financial boost for the wedding industry and the broader economy.
He went to Ohio, one of the four states at the center of the case that was before the Supreme Court.
It’s part of our weekly segment Making Sense, which airs every Thursday on the “NewsHour.”
PAUL SOLMAN: From her home base in Columbus, Ohio, Jan Kish helps cater weddings worldwide.
So, you’re going to slice off…
JAN KISH, Owner, La Petite Fleur: I’m going to cut off the top of the bottle.
PAUL SOLMAN: And this is in addition to the cake that you provide?
JAN KISH: It’s a tradition, right? And then the bride and groom can use this fabulous saber to cut their cake with.
PAUL SOLMAN: Ah. I got it. OK, so go ahead.
Kish doesn’t just pop the cork. Kish dispatches it. And she has long been receptive to other innovations in the wedding industry, assisting early on in gay marriages.
Now, this isn’t a particular gay wedding thing, is it?
JAN KISH: No, it is a celebration thing. But I have a gay friend who is getting married. And he would like to have five bare-chested men with five sabers opening five bottles of champagne all at the same time.
PAUL SOLMAN: Is it going to happen?
JAN KISH: It is. You betcha.
PAUL SOLMAN: Rated one of the country’s top 10 cake bakers, Jan Kish is part of a new group of local wedding specialists called Pride Perfect founded by a local photographer to bring together top talent friendly to the LGBT community.
And Kish’s wedding cakes? The sky’s the limit, from van Gogh’s “Starry Night” to a steampunk concoction gilded with silver and gold leaf.
Which should I try first here?
JAN KISH: This is a favorite chocolate cake with a mocha buttercream.
PAUL SOLMAN: Let’s try that. This is a particularly enjoyable way to shoot a story.
JAN KISH: Yes.
PAUL SOLMAN: Another member of Pride Perfect weddings, the gown shop of Lindsay Fork, similarly offbeat, suits for lesbian brides, for example, who might or might not want to flaunt their femininity.
LINDSAY FORK, Owner, La Jeune Mariee Bridal Boutique: This is a very scandalous top. It can be worn underneath the jacket or by itself.
PAUL SOLMAN: Cinderella poufs, crowns of jewels. Fork’s inventory runs the gamut from traditional to cutting edge.
How do you handle the situation of two brides, but they don’t want the same wedding dress?
LINDSAY FORK: It’s quite funny, actually. A lot of times, they don’t want to see each other because they want it to be a surprise, as any man and or woman wouldn’t want to see each other before the ceremony. So we would actually take them into different dressing rooms with different stylists, and have them go through the entire process as though they were just there alone.
PAUL SOLMAN: So the gay marriage court decision is good for the gown-monger, good for the baker, good for Ohio, says florist Mary Ernst, as local couples now stay put.
MARY ERNST, Owner, Rose Bredl: They don’t have to go out of state and marry. Like, a lot of our customers were going to New York or Massachusetts to get married. So now they can do it here.
PAUL SOLMAN: But, of course, even the sweetest rose has its thorns. Jan Kish has brandished the rainbow flag on her Web site since she launched it years ago. But a recent hire apparently didn’t realize the business was sexual orientation-blind until this weekend.
JAN KISH: Because of her religious beliefs, she has decided to step back from La Petite Fleur.
PAUL SOLMAN: She quit?
JAN KISH: Yes. She is leaving.
PAUL SOLMAN: Because you serve gay customers?
JAN KISH: Right. Because we support the gay community, she feels that she doesn’t want to be part of that because of her religious background. And that’s fine. You know, that’s her moral stance, and she has a right to that.
PAUL SOLMAN: You didn’t try to talk her out of it?
JAN KISH: I asked her for two weeks’ notice.
PAUL SOLMAN: Even in gay-friendly Columbus, Ohio, then, religious prejudice can still trump economic self-interest.
But there are economic benefits aplenty in legalizing gay marriage, and not just in Ohio.
JANIS COWHEY, Partner, Marcum LLP: We have just a wedding industry that’s about to boom. Now you can get married in all 50 states. So there will be weddings, there will be honeymoons, there will be planning.
PAUL SOLMAN: There will also be plenty of new business for the likes of Janis Cowhey, an accountant and lawyer.
JANIS COWHEY: We have got accountants who need to do tax returns, maybe amended tax returns, maybe review past tax returns. And we have got lawyers who need to review estate planning documents, you know, what do you need to do going forward, what do you have in place until now, so there’s a lot that’s going to change.
PAUL SOLMAN: And of course, there will be more divorces. But locally, says Columbus’ Bill LaFayette, who runs the Ohio regional development firm Regionomics.
BILL LAFAYETTE, Regionomics: By far, the biggest impact is going to be on the work force.
PAUL SOLMAN: Because of people who will now stay in Ohio, as opposed to moving out of state, and especially those most likely to be economic innovators.
BILL LAFAYETTE: Creative people like open and accepting spaces because, they want to know that despite the fact that they may think differently from the typical person, they’re not going to be laughed at. So, gays and lesbians aren’t — are really the canary in the coal mine.
PAUL SOLMAN: As it happens, LaFayette himself is about to tie the gay knot. He and Ron Templin have been together 12 years, had a commitment ceremony in church in 2003. But they weren’t legally able to be wed in Ohio and considered moving to Massachusetts, until last week.
RON TEMPLIN, Ohio: I was at work. And the people had gathered around my desk to wait for the decision, and the minute the decision happened, I, of course, broke down in tears, and some other of my teammates did as well.
PAUL SOLMAN: Were they gay?
RON TEMPLIN: No, these were all straight. All of my members on the team are straight, but very supportive. And they’re allies. And…
PAUL SOLMAN: So they cried too?
RON TEMPLIN: Yes, they cried as well. And they congratulated me.
And I instantly I.M.ed my supervisor and said may I leave and get my marriage license? And she said, of course, go.
And so I was the first one in my car, and we were at the courthouse by 11:00 p.m. getting our marriage license.
BILL LAFAYETTE: I didn’t cry. I think I was just — I was numb. And this I.M. came in from Ron: “I’m coming home. We’re going to get our marriage license.”
And I was like, yes, yes, yes.
PAUL SOLMAN: Which is what the majority of the Supreme Court said, though rather more sedately, on Friday.
This is economics correspondent Paul Solman, reporting for the “PBS NewsHour” from Columbus, Ohio.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The latest U.S. jobs report brought some sighs of relief. The overall number of new jobs showed the economy is not starting to sputter, as some had feared earlier this year.
But other patterns in the labor market are a source of worry for many workers, and for those who been looking for a job for a long time. Wages are flat, and the labor participation rate is at a historic low.
We’re joined by Harry Holzer. He’s a professor of public policy at the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute, and he’s former chief economist for the Department of Labor.
And we welcome you back to the program.
HARRY HOLZER, Georgetown University: Thank you, Judy. It’s good to be here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let’s start with the good news. It looks like healthy growth in jobs.
HARRY HOLZER: Yes. The number of 223,000 new payroll jobs is about what people expected, maybe slightly lower. But it’s in line with what we have seen recently. And it’s consistent with that kind of slow, but steady tightening of the labor market.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And this is across different wage levels, wage groups; is that right?
HARRY HOLZER: That’s right.
Most industries, at least on the service side of the economy, showed some healthy job growth this past month. We didn’t see it in manufacturing. We didn’t see it in construction. But many other sectors, professional services in the high end, restaurants and retail in the low end, health care, jobs in the middle, all showed nice job growth.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And then, as we were saying, but earlier this year, there was worry that things might be slowing down, so this tells us things are on a more solid footing.
HARRY HOLZER: I think so.
We have now had — we had one disappointing month back in March, but the last three months now, which is the entire second quarter, show pretty solid job growth. So those sort of earlier worries are no longer bothering us anymore.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And this is a month, however, when the wages — wages were stagnant. Now, what does that tell us?
HARRY HOLZER: Well, the wage numbers have been bouncing around. Last month, we had a good month in wages. This month, they were totally flat.
What that is saying is that, even with the tightening that’s occurred, the job market still isn’t tight enough, and there’s still not enough pressure on employers for consistent wage pressure.
If you average out all these different months, you’re getting wage growth about 2 percent. That’s just slightly ahead of inflation. That’s nowhere near what we’d like to see.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But what I really do want to focus on, though, yes, the unemployment rate was down, but what they call the labor force participation rate is at its lowest level in 38 years. What’s happening here?
HARRY HOLZER: Well, a lot of people have been dropping out of the labor force.
Now, to be in the labor force, you have to do something to look for a new job in the previous month. And a lot of people have stopped doing that. And that rate has been declining now since the great recession started. We knew some of that was going to happen. We knew that the baby boomers were reaching retirement years and they were going to start leaving.
And that accounts for about half of the overall drop we have seen in the last eight years or so. What’s more worrisome, what’s been more surprising is that even people, say, below the age of 55, what we call prime-age workers, have also been leaving the labor force, and we don’t see any signs that in great numbers they’re coming back.
And that’s a big problem. That’s a problem for them in terms of their own earning capacity, but also for the country as well.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What are the explanations?
HARRY HOLZER: There’s different explanations.
I think some people maybe look at the wages they’re going to get and they decide it’s just not good enough. Some people have been out of work for a long time, and they get discouraged. They know their skills get rusty, their contacts get rusty. They don’t think employers are going to hire them and so they just drift away.
Some people start doing other things. Maybe they start working off the books. Maybe they go on disability. Maybe they become the stay-at-home parent. Once you start doing something else, it’s just a lot harder to turn around and come back into the labor market, which remains a pretty competitive market.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there a good understanding of what happens? Because I know for a long time, we were talking about the long-term unemployed, people who kept looking and kept looking. They weren’t finding work. But now we’re talking about people who have just given up. Is there — do we understand what happens in between?
HARRY HOLZER: Not completely. But we do have some sense that once you’re in the category of being long-term unemployed, it’s just harder to get back.
And some people do come back. Some people do get a job after being out a year, two years, three years. But some people don’t. And the longer they’re out, the less solid their prospects are when they come back. And a lot of them, as I sort of said, just decide to do something else and drift away.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And does history tell us, as you say, that these people, once they’re out, they stay out?
HARRY HOLZER: It’s not necessarily permanent. You can imagine a really strong labor market, of the kind that we had at the end of the 1990s, might draw some people back in.
But, absent that, it is going to be harder and harder for these people. And they are going to get more settled in whatever other roles they’re playing right now. And it’s going to be tougher to get them back in.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And that gets baked into the overall employment picture.
HARRY HOLZER: That’s right. That’s right.
And, as I said, it’s bad for the country, because we’re losing productive capacity. We simply can’t afford to have several million people stop working and stop looking for work.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Harry Holzer with Georgetown University, thank you.
HARRY HOLZER: Thank you, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.
The post Labor participation has hit a 38-year low, and that’s a problem appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The federal government is investigating whether the major airlines have colluded to keep airfares high. The Associated Press first reported it yesterday.
The industry is denying the claims, but, yesterday, American, United, Delta and Southwest all confirmed that they were cooperating with the Justice Department probe.
Hari Sreenivasan now talks with a lawmaker who’s been pushing for the investigation.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Last month, Senator Richard Blumenthal called on the Justice Department to look into these issues.
And he joins me now from Hartford.
So, Senator, what made you want to ask the DOJ to investigate?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), Connecticut: What made me ask for this investigation is the evidence. And it’s the same evidence that caused the Department of Justice to make the decision to investigate.
By the way, the Department of Justice doesn’t decide on antitrust investigations out of curiosity or whim. There has to be some factual indication. And, here, it was, pricing patterns, warnings to potential competitors like Southwest Airlines that it had to continue keeping capacity or numbers of flights down, and the fact that there have been increasing prices for consumers, as well as reduced numbers of seats on certain routes.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, you’re not trying to specifically constrain what a company should profit from or what would the percentage at the end of the year should be.
You’re saying your target is specifically communication between executives, right?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: The nature of an antitrust violation when collusion is alleged, and that’s the subject here, is coordination, cooperation that is illegal because it tends to stifle competition.
And the reason competition is good for consumers is, it tends to lower prices and provide more choices. So, absolutely right, the target here is not the industry’s profits, which are at an all-time high, not necessarily even prices, which should be reduced, but the collusion that may result in those increased prices.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So one of the concerns is about constraining capacity, the number of seats, the number of flights that are actually available to consumers. You decrease that supply, the demand stays the same, the price goes up, right?
But the industry comes back and says capacity is actually at a post-recession high, that we have more seats up in the air and available to people now and that prices are coming down in 2015.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: The fact of the matter is that airfares are at an all-time high.
If you look at the pattern over the last 20 years, which is the time that they have been measuring them, the flight last year, average price, $391, is higher than at any time over those 20 years. If you look at just fares, they’re at a 12-year high.
And then add the additional charges for baggage and reservations and access to Internet sites, and, in fact, the total costs rise even higher. So, consumers are suffering from higher fare prices, higher costs, and the numbers of seats available to them have been constrained, possibly, allegedly, by this communication, coordination among the airlines.
How do they communicate? Well, one example, at a recent conference, all of the industry executives were talking about capacity discipline. If discipline is a codeword or jargon for what the objective is and if they are punishing the airlines like Southwest that have the nerve to violate that regimen, then there is potentially a violation of antitrust laws.
And the remedies here don’t involve breaking up airlines. They involve possibly money back to consumers, penalties for those companies, and also court orders that prevent this kind of misconduct in the future.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, an airline is going to come back and say, listen, we decided to take some airplanes out of the sky when there were fewer and fewer people flying during the recession. Now that it’s over, we’re starting to add seats again.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: And there’s nothing wrong with those business decisions, as long as they are made independently and competitively.
When those decisions result from coordinated conduct that, in effect, violates the principle of the markets that there ought to be free and open competition and the principles of law, antitrust statutes, that there should be no collusion, then there is a violation of law.
And violations of law have yet to be proven. All of these arguments made by the airlines are entitled to be made to the Department of Justice.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, thanks so much for your time.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
The post Did airlines coordinate to limit capacity and keep fares up? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It was the nation’s worst oil disaster and came to be known as the BP spill. After a long and bitter fight that played out in the courts, a record settlement was finally announced today.
The oil gushed from BP’s Macondo well for 87 days. Now, almost five years since the well was sealed, the company aims to settle with the federal government and five states, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley:
GOV. ROBERT BENTLEY (R), Alabama: With the agreement reached today and the compensation BP will pay for their responsibility, we are taking a significant step forward in our state and in especially the Gulf Coast areas to move forward with the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In all, 134 million gallons of crude fouled the Gulf’s waters, and coated beaches and barrier islands, killing thousands of animals, and decimating local fisheries.
The projected deal totals $18.7 billion; $5.5 billion would go toward restoration efforts, as part of a federal Clean Water Act penalty. Another $7 billion would cover natural resource damages. And nearly $6 billion goes to economic and other claims by the five states and 400 local government entities.
In a statement today, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch called it the largest environmental settlement in U.S. history. For BP, the settlement will effectively add about $10 billion to the $44 billion it already set aside for cleanup costs and penalties.
The oil giant had revenues of $15 billion last year, and will spread the settlement costs over the next 15 to 18 years. In a statement today, BP’s CEO, Bob Dudley said: “This agreement will resolve the largest liabilities remaining from the tragic accident and enable BP to focus on safely delivering the energy the world needs.”
The agreement is still subject to final approval by a federal judge.
The settlement was hailed by a number of public officials, but several environmental groups called the final agreement disappointing.
Joining us is a key figure who was involved in hammering out the deal. U.S. Representative Garret Graves served as Louisiana’s lead trustee representing the state in the BP oil spill negotiations from 2010 to 2014. He’s served as an adviser since. He is a Republican and he joins us from Baton Rouge.
Congressman Graves, welcome.
Is this a fair settlement?
REP. GARRET GRAVES (R), Louisiana: It is.
And, Judy, I think it’s very important. You can’t just look at this in a vacuum. You have to look at the other options and alternatives that were available to settle this. We have been sitting here for five years now with one of the biggest environmental crises in our nation’s history and we haven’t had any type of settlement or really settlement investment in the Gulf of Mexico.
So, the two options are, you accept this deal or you potentially get stuck in a judicial process where we could still be talking about this for 10 or 20 years.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How was the number $18.7 billion arrived at?
REP. GARRET GRAVES: Well, look, I can’t speak for the other states.
I’ll tell you, in the case of Louisiana, the decision on numbers was based entirely upon science, measuring the ecological damages, the natural resource impacts to our coastal resources, to the Gulf of Mexico. We’re the top fishery state in the continental United States. And the ecological productivity is very important to our state’s economy and our culture here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How will Louisiana use its share?
REP. GARRET GRAVES: The state has committed to use all $5 billion of natural resource damages to advance our overall coastal master plan, investing in and restoring the coastal wetlands, investing it in projects that will improve the production of fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, to manage the fisheries, making several investments in bird projects as well.
This is the largest wintering habitat for migratory waterfowl. So we will be making major investments in ecological restoration here. And that’s where virtually all of the natural resource dollars are being committed. Of the $8.1 billion in natural resources restoration, well over $5 billion of that will be spent in the state of Louisiana.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Are you comfortable with how the other money is going to be spent? For example, the federal government gets, I think it’s $5 billion in penalties that are related to the Clean Water Act.
REP. GARRET GRAVES: Under federal law that was passed in the summer of 2012, 80 percent of those dollars will be allocated to what’s known as a restore council. It’s a state-federal council that will be making decisions on the allocations of those funds.
Candidly, I don’t think it’s the most efficient mechanism to allocate the funds, but it is something that will ensure public participation and some transparency in the decisions.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m sure you know, Congressman Graves, that a number of environmental groups say this is not nearly enough. They are saying the damage is extensive, it will go on for years, even decades, and that BP should have been asked to pay much more.
REP. GARRET GRAVES: Look, if we were in a vacuum, if you made me king for the day, there certainly are some changes I would make to this agreement.
It’s important to keep in mind that, number one, you can’t go out there and go put tens of billions on most companies. This would have crippled or bankrupted most companies around the world. Number two, we have seen a decline in gas prices, a decline in profits for the company. Those things need to be taken into consideration as well.
I think this was the best deal that was going to be cut cooperatively. And I will tell you that there were several previous attempts at negotiations that were rejected by the state of Louisiana because of insufficient funds. Again, I could make some improvements to this in a vacuum, but compared to the other alternative, this is a good deal and this settlement needs to be approved.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you expect that the court will approve this?
REP. GARRET GRAVES: I think that they will. Right now, it is simply an agreement in principle.
The Department of Justice was obviously very heavily involved in negotiations. It’s going to have to be translated to a consent decree and submitted to the courts ultimately, which will take months, but I do expect the court to approve this settlement proposal.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Excuse me.
And, as I understand it, there are still some private pieces of litigation that are out there, individuals and businesses who have sued BP and those cases are still outstanding.
REP. GARRET GRAVES: Without a doubt. That’s a really important point to make.
There are billions of dollars in private claims that are still outstanding. There was a large settlement that was reached with a majority of the plaintiffs in this case, but many of them opted to not go with that settlement offer that was out there. And so those cases will continue proceeding through the judicial process.
The settlement that was announced today pertains only to federal, state and local government claims against BP.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right. U.S. Representative Garret Graves of Louisiana, we thank you for joining us.
REP. GARRET GRAVES: Thank you very much.
The post After a long legal fight, BP agrees to largest environmental settlement in U.S. history appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The latest look at the U.S. job market shows progress is still coming in fits and starts. The Labor Department today reported a net gain of 223,000 jobs for June.
In turn, the unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent, the lowest in seven years. That was largely because so many people gave up trying to find a job. The proportion of Americans working or looking for work is now the smallest in 38 years. We will focus on why that’s the case later in the program.
Wall Street was unimpressed by the jobs report. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 28 points to close at 17730. The Nasdaq fell four, and the S&P 500 slipped a fraction of a point.
There was no break today in the financial drama gripping the nation of Greece. Lines remained long as pensioners tried to get funds from designated banks. The finance minister said the cash crunch shows the need to vote against austerity in Sunday’s referendum.
YANIS VAROUFAKIS, Finance Minister, Greece (through interpreter): The Greek people will vote no. We want you to give us some clarification that it is not dignified to stand in lines at ATMs. Something I personally didn’t like was that, from day one, the ATM in Parliament ran out of cash four times. I didn’t like that and I am not taking part in that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund blamed Greece for being too slow to enact economic reforms. It said Greece needs debt relief and $56 billion in new financing.
Nigeria was ravaged today by a new atrocity. Government and military officials say Boko Haram extremists gunned down nearly a hundred Muslims at several mosques. It happened in the town of Kukawa during prayers that were part of the holy month of Ramadan.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s military struck back against Islamic State elements in the Sinai Peninsula. Security officials said dawn airstrikes killed 23 militants. It came a day after they assaulted army checkpoints. The army said 17 soldiers died in those attacks, but other reports said dozens were killed.
An appeals court in Afghanistan has overturned the death sentences of four men in the mob killing of a woman. Instead, they will each serve 10 to 20 years in prison. The victim, Farkhunda Malikzada, was falsely accused of burning a Koran. Her family demanded justice after she was beaten to death and then set on fire last march in Kabul.
And, today, they said they were outraged by the court’s ruling.
NAJIBULLAH MALIKZADA, Brother of Victim (through interpreter): We don’t accept the decision of the 20-year sentence. It doesn’t mean anything. It is pointless. A 20-year sentence ultimately means that the killers will be released. We want the previous decision of the death penalty, and we strictly want the death penalty.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Activists accuse the court of bowing to pressure from Afghanistan’s conservative religious establishment.
At least 35 people drowned today when a ferry capsized in the central Philippines; 20 others remain missing. The wooden outrigger hit strong waves just after leaving Ormoc city and it rolled over. More than 130 people swam to safety or were rescued by fishing boats. Victims were rushed ashore and then to nearby hospitals.
In this country, a freight train carrying a toxic chemical derailed and caught fire in Maryville, Tennessee. About 5,000 people were evacuated. Several emergency workers went to a hospital after breathing in fumes, and the train burned through the day.
Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has entered the Democratic presidential race. He announced today on his campaign Web site, saying the country — quote — “needs a fresh approach.” Webb is 69. He’s a former U.S. secretary of the Navy and a decorated Vietnam veteran.
And the Episcopal Church in the U.S. will allow same-sex couples to have religious ceremonies at their weddings. Some Episcopal priests were already performing civil ceremonies. The new policy won overwhelming approval last night at the church’s national meeting.
The post News Wrap: Finance minister warns Greeks against austerity vote appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The numbers are in for June. The U.S. added 223,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dropped two tenths of a percent to rest at 5.3 percent.
At first blush, the numbers look great, as reflected by some early reaction on Twitter.
— PNC News (@PNCNews) July 2, 2015
But once you dig a little deeper into the data, it’s clear that the two surveys—the “establishment survey” sent out to businesses asking how many jobs they created last month, and the “household survey” that asks people about their employment status—are at odds with each other. How so?
While businesses reported creating 223,000 jobs in June, we saw a decrease of 56,000 in those considered officially employed. Why, you may wonder, aren’t we seeing more people “employed”?
One hypothesis is that businesses created mostly part-time jobs, and/or that those who had already had part-time jobs took another. To be considered a full-time worker, one must work at least 35 hours a week. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics also counts part-time workers that have multiple jobs adding up to 35 hours as full-time employees.
This could also explain why the number of people working part time for economic reasons fell by almost 150,000.
Also of note, while the number of employed dropped by 56,000, the number of people that were classified as unemployed also decreased—by 375,000. OK, so how does that happen? You would assume that if the number of employed people grows, the number of unemployed would shrink.
Discouraged workers, people that are considered not in the labor force, but who would like a job, increased by some 20,000. (Remember, the Bureau of Labor Statistics only counts those people who have looked for a job in the past four weeks as unemployed.)
So let’s say of that 375,000, 56,000 became employed. Some 20,000 were then classified as discouraged workers, having not looked for a job in a month, but still very much wanting a job. How can we account for the remaining 300,000?
It’s possible that many simply left the workforce. Now this could mean that more and more baby boomers are retiring, but it could also mean that previously discouraged workers have now given up altogether.
As for our own Making Sen$e Solman Scale, which adds to the officially unemployed, discouraged workers, no matter how long it’s been since they looked for work, as well as the underemployed, it dropped by about .3 percent to land at 12.73 percent—the lowest it’s been since we began calculating it in 2011.
Alright, so in general that’s good, right? Well, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics looked back at their data and the revision that followed suggests that job growth wasn’t as good as they originally reported. May’s numbers were revised down from 280,000 new jobs to only 254,000, and 34,000 fewer jobs were created in April than was previously thought.
Another important measure of the economy is wage growth. This past year, average hourly earnings have increased by a total of 2 percent, but in June, average hourly earnings did not move, remaining unchanged at $25.95.
But by jingo, by crikey, hourly earnings were EXACTLY FLAT. Unemployment is 5.3%. Wages aren't growing. That means there's plenty of slack.
— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) July 2, 2015
The lack of wage growth is disappointing, and some on the left see it as a sign that the Fed shouldn’t raise interest rates any time soon.
Wage growth over the year is far below where it needs to be. The Fed shouldn't be thinking about raising rates. pic.twitter.com/aqQ4rBtWQ7
— Economic Policy Inst (@EconomicPolicy) July 2, 2015
So what does all of this information tell us? The U.S. economy is still improving, albeit slowly. As we say here often, don’t rely too much on one month’s numbers.
The post June’s unemployment dip means more Americans leaving the workforce appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the great Independence Day traditions is the celebration and fireworks right here in Washington on the National Mall.
And, tomorrow night, PBS will showcase it once again on “A Capitol Fourth.” It’s the 35th anniversary of the program, and we have a behind- the-scenes look at the father-son team who put it all together.
JERRY COLBERT, Executive Producer, “A Capitol Fourth”: John Adams said right at the Declaration of Independence it should be celebrated every year with fireworks and bonfires and parties and sports. And that was 239 years ago. And we’re continuing that tradition.
My name is Jerry Colbert. I’m the executive producer of “A Capitol Fourth” for the last 35 years.
MICHAEL COLBERT, Co-Executive Producer, “A Capitol Fourth”: And I’m Michael Colbert, the co-executive producer and the proud son of Jerry Colbert.
JERRY COLBERT: I got involved in this 35 years ago. The symphony had just begun a series of concerts here. And I went to them and we wanted to do a television show for the country.
But it’s one year at a time I came back. I didn’t plan it. I had no idea it would go on this long.
Now we get 20 cameras and the best equipment in the business. And we cover the whole Mall and make it into — like a World’s Fair experience.
The general public doesn’t understand how much work it is.
MICHAEL COLBERT: It’s a yearlong process, by the time we come up with the ideas, booking with stars, doing the publicity, everything else related to it.
But once we get to this point here at the Capitol, there’s over 500 of us working, between all the musicians in the National Symphony, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, the military groups, the production crew, the staff, the events staff. It’s a major undertaking.
JERRY COLBERT: Now, the weather hasn’t always cooperated. We have had several huge rainstorms.
We had one with the Pointer Sisters where we had one inch of rain in a little over an hour. And I said to them, ladies, I said, you have got to save the show. And I said, do you think you can get out there and do it? And they said, don’t you worry about it, honey. We will take care of it.
And they went out and they put on a heck of a show. And everybody was up sing and dancing and totally drenched. And it saved the day.
There’s a real wonder because of this, and that everybody’s an American, left, right, center. And they are all celebrating our country. And I think that’s wonderful byproduct of this whole event.
MICHAEL COLBERT: To be able to be here and to forget our differences for 90 minutes on the Fourth of July and to celebrate who we are makes it pretty special.
But after working so many months and so many hours, we sure do appreciate July 5, don’t we?
JERRY COLBERT: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s “A Capitol Fourth” tomorrow night on PBS. Check your local listings.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: the latest addition to the NewsHour Bookshelf.
As we know, the Revolutionary War severed the colonial ties to England in 1776. But what are the next steps that led to our democracy?
Historian Joseph Ellis takes up that story in his new book, “The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789.”
He recently sat down with Jeffrey Brown.
JOSEPH ELLIS, Author, “The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789″: Well, the 1780s are a kind of a dead zone for most Americans, a kind of black hole.
We win independence and come together. Then, a few years later, we come together and create this nation, or this national government. And in truth…
JEFFREY BROWN: It all seemed inevitable, right?
JOSEPH ELLIS: It all seems inevitable.
JEFFREY BROWN: But it wasn’t.
JOSEPH ELLIS: But, in fact, history’s actually moving in the other direction in the 1780s.
It’s moving towards the Europeanization of North America.
JEFFREY BROWN: So, your starting is you’re saying, everything about the revolution, the war, was pulling away from the notion of a single United States.
JOSEPH ELLIS: Right.
We had a common identity as members of the British Empire. Then we came together provisionally and temporarily to win the war, although about a third of the people were loyalists and/or indifferent. But once the war was over, history’s headed towards a dissolution of the United States as a coherent whole.
And the term United States is a plural now. The United States are, not the United States is.
JEFFREY BROWN: So to get to is, you have the quartet of the title, right?
JOSEPH ELLIS: Right.
JEFFREY BROWN: George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, lesser known. It’s a top-down.
JOSEPH ELLIS: Yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: This is an elite group.
JOSEPH ELLIS: It is. It is an elite group.
Most of us would prefer it to be an up from the bottom. There are no mobs forming, however, to have a constitutional convention or a nation-state. And there are reasons to be suspicious of any kind of central government, because, after all, that’s what the Parliament was.
JEFFREY BROWN: Right. We just got rid of that, right?
JOSEPH ELLIS: We did, but it’s different because, in the new government, you actually do have representatives. You elect them, OK?
In Parliament, you didn’t get to elect them. But does it really count if, in say the Congress, you have 30,000 people represented by one person? Some people don’t feel that’s really representation. They’re going to oppose this.
In some sense, I see the anti-federalists who oppose this as the real spiritual and political ancestors of the Tea Party, people that distrust the government. For them, government is them, rather than government is us.
JEFFREY BROWN: So, take John Jay. What did he do to lead us in that direction?
JOSEPH ELLIS: Jay was the American delegate. And he saw to it that in the peace negotiations, we acquire the land between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi.
It turns out we’re going to get the British Empire North America. The British had won it from the French. The Indians or Native Americans are still there. There’s 100,000 of them living between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi.
But the United States is going to acquire an empire as a consequence of the war, and it’s going to make it even more necessary that we move to some kind of coherent government that’s capable of managing this huge land mass.
JEFFREY BROWN: If they were so heroic and triumphant, why did it take a — there was still a Civil War in our history, right?
JOSEPH ELLIS: Yes, right.
JEFFREY BROWN: And so there was still so much more to do.
JOSEPH ELLIS: The deeper resolutions that were the result of slavery and of the very — and the Native American experience were tragedies that the Constitutional Convention didn’t resolve, it papered over and postponed.
There was a silence on the slavery question in the Constitutional Convention. It was the ghost at the banquet. You couldn’t talk about it. If you talked about it, it ran the risk of blowing the entire experiment up. If they had done it, the Constitutional Convention would have never succeeded and we would have fallen back into a confederation.
JEFFREY BROWN: One wonders sitting here today — you’re looking back at these arguments over federalism.
JOSEPH ELLIS: Right. Right.
JEFFREY BROWN: On our program every night, we’re looking at Supreme Court cases that involve many of the same issues.
JOSEPH ELLIS: Right.
JEFFREY BROWN: When you look, as a historian, does it feel like all of these things have been resolved or are they still…
JOSEPH ELLIS: No.
JEFFREY BROWN: No.
JOSEPH ELLIS: No.
It’s a Big Bang theory of American history that I have. And this is the explosion and it keeps going out. But it doesn’t provide answers. The Constitution only provides a framework in which the argument can keep going on. But the deeper issue of state vs. federal sovereignty is still with us.
Now, you would think it was resolved by the Civil War, but it hasn’t been. And I think the genius of the Constitution created by these guys — and it was in part accident, because it was a set of compromises — was to create a document that was a living document, that didn’t attempt to provide answers. The answers were arguments. And people could continue to disagree.
JEFFREY BROWN: You have been writing about this period for a long time.
JOSEPH ELLIS: Right. I know. I need to get a new topic, don’t I?
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, but I’m wondering, is it just an endless fascination to…
JOSEPH ELLIS: Yes. It is an endless fascination on my part, rooted in the conviction that this is the mother lode. This is, as we said, the place where the values and institutions that we continue to live with are all created.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right. The book is “The Quartet.”
Joseph Ellis, thanks so much.
JOSEPH ELLIS: Pleasure.
The post A ‘quartet’ of patriots who brought the United States together appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: One week ago today, President Obama gave the eulogy for the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of nine people shot and killed at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
You may recall he closed his remarks by turning to song in a surprise rendition of the spiritual “Amazing Grace.”
Special correspondent John Larson has a look at the song’s unique role in history.
BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: That’s what I felt this week, an open heart.
JOHN LARSON: Thirty-four minutes into a eulogy for one of the nine African-Americans slain in a hate crime, the first African-American president turned to what he called the nation’s reservoir of goodness.
BARACK OBAMA: If we can find that grace, anything is possible. If we can tap that grace, everything can change.
JOHN LARSON: And then a pause, and just two words.
BARACK OBAMA: Amazing grace.
JOHN LARSON: What came next was a long stretch of silence, before he began.
BARACK OBAMA (singing): Amazing grace.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BARACK OBAMA (singing): How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.
REV. WILLIAM H. LAMAR IV, Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church: For me, I had never been as personally engaged by a political leader as I was in that moment, because it connected to me in ways that are — are really hard to — hard to put into words.
JOHN LARSON: The Reverend William H. Lamar IV of the Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C., says that’s because “Amazing Grace” is thick, as he calls it, with history.
REV. WILLIAM H. LAMAR IV: When my ancestors sang that song, it was their affirmation that they wouldn’t become like those who were oppressing them, and that they wouldn’t even exclude God’s grace from those who were excluding grace from them.
JOHN LARSON: As portrayed in a new show on Broadway, “Amazing Grace” was written by an Englishman and published in 1779. But here’s the important part. The Englishman, John Newton, was white and had been a trafficker of black slaves.
SARAH KAUFMAN, The Washington Post: The song started as a sermon, by John Newton, experienced a storm at sea, vowed that, if he lived through the storm, he would dedicate his life to God. And that is indeed what he did.
JOHN LARSON: Sarah Kaufman is a Pulitzer Prize winner and dance critic for The Washington Post. She’s about to release her new book, “The Art of Grace.”
She says Newton had a religious conversion, became a minister and then an abolitionist.
SARAH KAUFMAN: The song is all about vulnerability. It expresses the sense that we are so wretched, we’re so undeserving, and yet this love and forgiveness and grace pours out to us from a higher power.
JOHN LARSON: Whether it’s the melody or the message, it taps into something shared, common, yet extraordinary.
JUDY COLLINS, Singer/Songwriter: Well, it’s the song that is the most inclusive of any song I know from any place in the world. What he did was to draw us together. That’s what that song does. It pulls us all together.
JOHN LARSON: Judy Collins sang it in the streets with Fannie Lou Hamer during the civil rights movement.
JUDY COLLINS: I was in Mississippi with Fannie Lou Hamer in 1964 singing “Amazing Grace,” trying to get people to come out of their houses. They were terrified to go out and vote, terrified. And she’d start singing “Amazing Grace” and people would come out of their homes.
JOHN LARSON: In 1970, Collins recorded a simple version, and it became a worldwide hit. She didn’t know, within a few years, the song would help save her, first from addiction and then the suicide of her only child.
JUDY COLLINS: I love, in the verse itself, “We have been there 10 thousand years, bright shining as the sun.”
We have always been here. We have always been in the same dilemma.
JOHN LARSON: Say the whole verse for me. How does it go? We have…
JUDY COLLINS (singing): When we have been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we have no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.
JOHN LARSON: And so this was the song the president chose, a song conceived in suffering, which somehow has become a worldwide prayer for healing and hope.
I’m John Larson for the PBS NewsHour.
The post ‘Amazing Grace,’ a song of suffering to pull us together appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: On Sunday night, the U.S. has a chance to win its first women’s soccer World Cup since 1999, when the Americans square off against Japan.
I sat down yesterday with Christine Brennan, sports columnist for USA Today and an ABC commentator, and Briana Scurry, goalkeeper for the U.S. women’s team that won that 1999 World Cup. We talked about the U.S. team and growing public interest after the U.S. defeated Germany.
Briana, Christine, welcome to you both.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, USA Today: Thank you.
BRIANA SCURRY, Former U.S. World Cup Player: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, big game Sunday night, 7:00, the final. What are we looking for, Christine?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN: It’s going to be a fascinating rematch, really, of the 2011 game.
Of course, Japan beat the U.S. at the last World Cup. So the United States wants nothing more, Judy, than to have revenge and to win this World Cup. I think the U.S. will be able to do it. The U.S. is playing just an amazing brand of soccer, what we saw the other day. And Japan is so tactical and so organized, you can’t count them out. But I think the United States team is saying this is their year.
They feel strongly that this is the one they’re going to win, and finally after 16 years win that World Cup back.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Briana, what are you looking for?
BRIANA SCURRY: I’m looking for a fantastic game as well.
I agree with Christine that the USA has been waiting four years to revenge the loss that was so heartbreaking to them against Japan in the 2011 World Cup. And so now they have this opportunity.
And also they have basically the home field advantage, essentially, in Canada right now, because they have been selling out the stadiums that the USA has been playing in, predominantly USA fans. And so they’re really excited about this. Now is the time. I think Japan is going to put up a really good fight. They always do. They have done well to get to this point.
But I also agree with Christine that the USA is ready. And they’re not going to take anything for granted, and they’re going to get the goals.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s talk about something that happened in the Tuesday night semifinal, Christine.
You had — the U.S. was playing Germany. And one of the German players in a very — in a moment I think where everybody was holding their breath, her head hit the back of the head of a U.S. player. They both went to the ground to lay there for a while. Then they got back up and, within a few minutes, they were back in the game.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Some people said that wasn’t handled well. What were you thinking when you saw that?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN: It wasn’t handled well.
And Bri is an expert in this area, so I will defer to you, except for I will just say that FIFA has to get with the plan here. The fact that the soccer community has not figured out what so many experts in the United States have at least tried to start to figure out, that you have to evaluate this longer than a couple minutes, and that concussions are serious, and you need to come out of the game.
And I know, Bri, you have a great suggestion about the fourth sub, so that you would be able to do that, which I will then defer to you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And as someone who has been through something like this yourself.
BRIANA SCURRY: Yes. Yes. I — my career was ended by a head injury in 2010 in a game.
A player hit — her knee hit the side of my head. And so I understand what that means and how hard it can be. And now I believe FIFA really has an opportunity to make some changes with regards to head injuries. Christine said three minutes is not long enough. I completely agree.
But I also feel like it’s multifaceted. So, also, what has to happen is, I believe players should wear some sort of protective head gear. I really do feel that we’re at that point right now. And I think shin guards at one point were not mandatory. Now they’re mandatory.
I think we can move ahead. And I have partnered up with Unequal, who is a company that makes protective head gear, the same head gear that Ali Krieger is wearing throughout this entire World Cup. And I think it’s better, something like that to help protect the players in situations like you saw against Germany.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, until there is head gear, Christine Brennan, what needs to happen in terms of whether players are allowed to go back in or not?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Well, Briana, you actually were on Twitter with this idea that there are three subs that — everyone who has been watching the World Cup, you see you have the opportunity. Each team can put in three subs. And that’s it.
And once you put someone in, you can’t bring them back off the bench. So, in this case, if you had a fourth substitution, so that those two players, the German player, Popp, and Morgan Brian, could have been brought off the field, evaluated, a player goes to replace them, they can come back in if they’re healthy. If not, they stay on the bench.
You would then be encouraging teams and these national federations to be serious about this, knowing they are not going to lose the player for the entire game while they go to evaluate her.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And there’s some about having an independent physician examine them, which is not the case right now?
BRIANA SCURRY: It’s not the case. You use the team doctor, who is qualified to make these decisions, but there’s a bias there.
Also, part of the process, they ask the player how they’re doing. I understand you have to ask the patient how they are. But you can’t allow that player to have to make the decision. I’m sorry. I played at that level. There’s no way I would say, I’m not OK.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I don’t want to be back in.
BRIANA SCURRY: No. Of course, I want to play out there. I want to do my thing and be my best out there as I can.
But you have to protect them. And that’s what I think is not happening. It’s not happening on the men’s side. It’s not happening on the women’s side. FIFA needs to do a lot of things. And the fourth substitution would be one of several things that they could do to help with this.
JUDY WOODRUFF: One other quick thing. Popularity of the sport is growing. You and I were just talking, Christine, more than eight million people in the U.S. were watching the semifinal game Tuesday night.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN: This is wonderful news.
For me, this team has always been, from Bri’s team in ’99 all the way through to now, about creating role models for girls and boys. And they have been almost to a woman just perfect role models, and all of these wonderful people that then go on and live their lives, as Bri has.
And so the fact that so many people are watching this, it is nationalism. I don’t even know if it’s that much soccer. I mean, it is, but it’s about cheering for your country. And I think we’re going to see another example of that Sunday in a huge way, with great TV ratings that once again show us how much the country really cares about our national women’s sports teams.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think it changes the game?
BRIANA SCURRY: I think it adds to it.
I mean, right now, with the influx of social media now, you can actually know the names of the players’ pets. That’s something you wouldn’t have known before. And so because you understand them personally, and you know these things about them, you feel like you know them.
And that’s why I think there’s been such a rise in ratings and a rise in activity and curiosity around the women’s game right now. And I think people really, truly do know these players as someone who is a friend, you know? And so that makes a lot of difference. And that helps them cheer them on.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I know what I’m going to be doing Sunday night at 7:00.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Exactly.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Watching the women’s finals.
But thank you both so much, Briana Scurry, Christine Brennan. Thank you.
BRIANA SCURRY: Thank you.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Thanks, Judy.
The post As Team USA hits its stride for finals, ratings on the rise, too appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, as we do every Friday, we turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks, who joins us today from Aspen, Colorado.
So, gentlemen, the Supreme Court, I think you could say it went out with a bang this week, David, issuing historic decisions on everything from same-sex marriage to the president’s health care law, much more, and with some interesting divisions among the conservatives.
What have we learned about the court, do you think, from this session, and how much of an issue is it going to be on the campaign trail?
DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Well, the interesting one to me is the same-sex marriage decision, which hit a lot of social conservatives extremely hard.
A great sense of fear that they are going to be labeled as bigots if they disagree with gay marriage, a sense that the culture war they have been fighting is one they have lost. And I’m — interesting to see how they reacted.
My basic view is that for 30 years, a lot of social conservatives have been fighting a culture war oriented around the sexual revolution, around contraception, gay marriage and other issues having to do with sexual activity. And I do think that that’s sort of not the fight they’re going to win anymore. The country is moving pretty far to the left on that.
And I would like to see social conservatives do in public what they do in private, which is to do a lot of work for — show work for the poor, heal the social fabric, tithe to the poor, heal the lonely and really address some of the economic and social dislocations we’re seeing in the country. That’s an endemic part of the social conservative lifestyle, but it hasn’t been part of their public message.
And that’s been a disaster for them. So I guess I think the wise choice, both from a Biblical and also from a political point of view, is to emphasize to the public that the key cultural revolution we need now is one to repair the social fabric, and the sexual revolution and views on the definition of marriage are important. And no one’s asking anybody to renounce them, but should be second-order businesses, given the actual problem we face today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, do you think that what we saw on the court could somehow play out in this Republican — Republican contest for president?
MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Yes, I think it already is Judy.
Senator Ted Cruz, conservative senator from Texas, candidate for president, has already offered a constitutional amendment that — for eight-year terms on the Supreme Court, that they vote up-or-down retention. An interesting proposal, the one body that would — consistently and consciously designed to avoid politics, to put it right into political campaigns.
So you would be having year-long, two-year-long campaigns to remove justices or to keep them on the Supreme Court. Scott Walker has already said he’s for a constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage to define marriage between one man and one woman.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page has given a green light by calling John Roberts the chief justice copy editor for Nancy Pelosi. So, I think it’s in the campaign. I think David’s point is a very good one. What’s most interesting to me is the Supreme Court is the one place in Washington — the undemocratic Supreme Court, where policy is actually being made, where decisions are being made.
In the democratically elected Congress and White House, we see gridlock, we see paralysis, we see threats of filibuster, threats of vetoes and very little action. The Supreme Court is the one place where national policy is being decided, not as was intended, but it’s actually happening.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, so, David, do you see this affecting what happens in Congress?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, I take Mark’s point very well.
First of all, it used to be you would pass — and this, I’m talking about the ACA ruling the Supreme Court has. You would pass a big piece of legislation, and there would be parts that would be unexpected. And so you would pass a follow-up piece of legislation to sort of fix it up.
We no longer work in a functional Washington that does that, and so now we rely on the Supreme Court, more or less, which is what they did in this decision, to go against the exact letter of the law, but to go with the interpretation of the law and to fix it up. And so it’s funny how the dysfunction in Congress has created the need for the Supreme Court to essentially step in and perform that role.
As for the Republican Party, as Mark says, it’s interesting to see, on issue after issue, some people like Ted Cruz, who really — it’s really very much a base mobilization campaign, and almost in defiance of any Republican effort to reach out beyond the Republican base.
And others, like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, who are right now just hanging back, not declaring war, but eventually they are going to have to say, no, we’re going to outreach. And that outreach is sometimes going to cause our base some discomfort. But we are going to do it because we actually want to win this thing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s — I want to turn to somebody who jumped into the Republican field this week, Mark, and that is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Some people had all but written him off, but he’s in, he’s jumped in, and he said he’s going to go from door to door if he has to, to win over Republican voters. What does he — how does he change this Republican field? I mean, we have got 15 — 14, 15, 16 people running now.
MARK SHIELDS: Well, he’s probably, in my judgment, a natural talent, as a campaign talent. He’s got great drawbacks and certain personality disorders.
But he has a great natural talent. Politics, being the most imitated of all human activities, with the possible exception of political journalism, he’s following…
MARK SHIELDS: He’s following the John McCain playbook from 2000, when McCain held 114 town meetings in New Hampshire and sprang a big upset by beating the establishment choice, George W. Bush.
The problem with Chris Christie is, 65 percent of New Jersey voters tell Quinnipiac poll they do not think he would be a good president. And he’s fallen from grace. Two years ago, he was at 73 percent approval in New Jersey. He won a smashing reelection. He carried women and Latino voters in a blue state.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
MARK SHIELDS: But, Judy, I mean, he’s not worn well.
And the great strength of being a governor to run for president is, you can say this is what I have done. I have a record. I don’t just make speeches and press releases. The big disadvantage for running for president as a governor is, other people can say, this is what you have done.
And there’s no New Jersey miracle for Chris Christie to talk about.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David, how do you see what Christie brings to this contest?
DAVID BROOKS: I would imitate Mark.
DAVID BROOKS: I think he’s an underpriced stock.
At this rate, I just look at the political talent of the people, of the candidates. And he has a lot of political talent. He’s just great at formulating issues. And McCain did the town hall thing. And I think Christie has the talent to just see a lot of voters in New Hampshire. There’s a lot of time.
And I think, if he performs well, we will see a rise. Mark points out that he’s the kind of dinner guest who, at the appetizer, you’re thrilled to have the guy in your house. By dessert, you wish he would get the heck out of there.
DAVID BROOKS: And there is an endurance problem.
But he’s got time. And if he can perform well over time, he will — people will not get exhausted by him. And so if I were picking stocks, he would be one I would expect to rise.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How much does it matter that he’s not as — viewed as favorably in his home state as he used to be?
DAVID BROOKS: To me, it matters a little.
And Mark’s right, he doesn’t have a great story to tell, but, frankly, other governors have risen to power on the stories of fake economic miracles. I think it would hurt him eventually. But we’re just now hoping he gets — or expecting to get to the top rung of candidates.
I don’t think it will hurt him too much among New Hampshire voters, I don’t South Carolina voters, who everybody else has to face. It will help — hurt him if he ever gets to be a big national contender. Then the New Jersey story will get more coverage.
MARK SHIELDS: David’s mention of Chris Christie and dessert, I think, was sort of a cheap shot at those of us who are weight-challenged. And I know he didn’t intend it as such.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, moving on, on the Democratic side, Mark, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb jumped in, joining three others who are challenging Hillary Clinton, along with Bernie Sanders. And I want to ask you about Bernie Sanders.
But what does Jim Webb bring, a Vietnam veteran, somebody who left the Senate a few years ago?
MARK SHIELDS: Jim Webb, September 2002, Judy, the war drums are being beaten in Washington by the Bush administration, their friends in Congress and the press to go into Iraq. And Jim Webb stands up, a combat veteran, as you point out, of Vietnam, who not only won the Navy Cross, a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts, carries shrapnel in him today from combat, and warned.
He said — challenged the leadership of this country, if you’re sending troops into Iraq, understand this. Are you ready to occupy the Middle East territory for the next 30 to 50 years? And pointed out prophetically that, in Japan, our occupying forces had become 50,000 friends, and in Iraq, American troops occupying would become 50,000 terrorist targets.
I mean, this is a man, I think, who has been right. He opposed Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in going into Libya. And he — in one term in the Senate, he wasn’t a particularly gifted politician, not a grip-and-grin guy, not very collegial, but he passed the G.I. Bill of Rights.
And — but he doesn’t raise money, and he’s a long shot. But I have to tell you, on that debate stage, he can stand up and say, this is somebody who truly was right from the start.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see the effect of Jim Webb in the Democratic field, David?
DAVID BROOKS: I think he’s probably the best novelist ever to run for president.
DAVID BROOKS: I’m trying to think back at other novelists who have done as well. So, he gets props for that.
I just — he’s a Jacksonian. And he hearkens back to an ancient Jacksonian tradition in American politics. I just don’t think that’s where the life of the Democratic Party is now. There’s sort of a moderate tradition in the Republican Party. There’s a Jacksonian tradition in the Democratic Party.
I don’t think those traditions are particularly vibrant. Bernie Sanders has the action, drawing huge crowds around the country. I think, if Hillary Clinton is wondering about her future threats, it’s going to come from the Bernie Sanders direction.
And, frankly, I think she’s helping flame those threats by being such a prevaricator on issues of trade and the Iraq deal — the Iran potential nuclear deal and other issues. And I think it’s Bernie Sanders is where the fire is right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tough language, I noticed today on the campaign trail. I think it was in New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton said she takes a backseat to no one when it comes to fighting for progressive values, so clearly responding to Bernie Sanders.
I do — only a couple minutes. I want to ask you both about something else that’s come up. And that is comments that Donald Trump, who announced a few days ago he’s running for president, has made about Mexicans.
And here’s a quote from Donald Trump. “I love the Mexican people, but you have people coming through the border that are from all over, and they are bad. I’m talking about people that are from all over that are killers and rapists.”
Big reaction, Mark, on the Republican side to this. What does this mean for the Republican field? The other candidates, are their comments appropriate, given what Donald Trump is saying?
MARK SHIELDS: I guess I disagree with your question, in a sense that I don’t think there has been a big reaction for the Republican side.
They want him to go away. And when the moral leadership of the Republican Party, on the nation rests on — in the hands of Univision, NBC and Macy’s department store, who have objected and have…
JUDY WOODRUFF: And separated…
MARK SHIELDS: … severed relations with Donald Trump…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
MARK SHIELDS: Donald Trump, I mean, this has been bad for the brand and it’s bad for business, but it’s worse for the Republican Party. It’s worse for the national debate.
This man’s going to be on the stage, and he’s a disaster for the Republicans, in addition to being a messenger of division and hatred.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David, just 20 seconds.
DAVID BROOKS: It’s an actual crucial moment for the Republican Party. This was a slur, a completely inaccurate slur. It’s culture war politics of the worst sort.
If the Republican Party can’t stand up at this moment against this guy and make the obvious accurate case, then there will be in long-term trouble with Hispanics. They will be in short-term trouble because they will have self-polarized themselves.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You do think the other candidates will say something about this?
DAVID BROOKS: Not Ted Cruz so far. But I’m waiting for the others.
It’s really essential that the Bushes and the Rubios say something.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Mark Shields, we thank you.
MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.
The post Shields and Brooks on Supreme Court lessons, Donald Trump controversy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: As we head into the July 4 weekend, many law enforcement and security officials across the United States are in a heightened state of alert.
Hari Sreenivasan has that story.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Thanks, Judy.
So what’s behind the increased state of readiness?
For that, we are joined by Daniel Benjamin. He’s a former coordinator for counterterrorism at the State Department during the first term of the Obama administration. He’s now a professor at Dartmouth College at the Dickey Center, and he joins us from New Hampshire.
So, we kind of get some mixed signals here. The Department of Homeland Security and FBI say to everyone, be increasingly vigilant over this holiday weekend. Yet they aren’t saying there’s a specific threat.
DANIEL BENJAMIN, Former State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator: That’s correct.
First, they’re not saying it to everyone. They’re saying it to law enforcement. And if you wanted to compare this to the old days, this wouldn’t be actually a change color in the color-coded scheme that we used to have. It’s sort of an alert to authorities to be vigilant, to be cautious, to make sure they are well-staffed and to look into people of interest in case they’re tracking anyone.
They have said that they do not have any credible intelligence on particular plotting, and in fact to date there’s been no announcement of any credible intelligence on plotting by ISIS in particular against the United States.
But because of the increased incidence of what have been called lone wolf attacks, people who wish to act out, want to carry out violent attacks to show their common cause with ISIS, I think there’s a greater concern this time around than most times.
That is to say, there’s a slightly greater chance that someone will try to do something than has been the case in the past.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Right. I mean, speaking of probabilities, there’s a greater chance that somebody is killed in a drunk driving accident in America over the Fourth of July weekend than killed by an ISIS fighter. Right?
DANIEL BENJAMIN: Well, historically speaking, vastly greater chance.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Right. Is this circumstantial? Is this the month of Ramadan? Is this a series of the attacks that have happened in Tunisia and other places that they’re trying to warn law enforcement about?
DANIEL BENJAMIN: That’s certainly a part of it.
It’s important to recall that at the beginning of Ramadan, an ISIS spokesman called for people essentially to carry out independent acts, independent acts of jihad around the world. And we did see the attacks in Kuwait, in Tunisia and in Lyon in France just a few days ago. Those likely were not coordinated.
It’s possible the one in Kuwait was a real ISIS attack, but perhaps an ISIS group in Saudi Arabia. The one in France seems to have been completely independent and without any outside coordination, although it’s, of course, still early days in the investigation.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Is the concern here about someone going overseas, being trained by ISIS and coming back, or someone who is here, sort of homegrown in the United States, and inspired to carry out an act of violence?
DANIEL BENJAMIN: Both are concerns, but, just as an empirical matter, the people who are just here, who have never gone abroad have been the ones who have been most active in the United States and in Western Europe. We have only had one case that I’m aware of where someone who had been in Syria had been involved in fighting came back and carried out a violent attack.
That was in Brussels at a Jewish museum. But most of the activity has been by people who are motivated to show that they too are part of the cause.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Daniel Benjamin from Dartmouth College, thanks so much.
DANIEL BENJAMIN: My pleasure.
The post Security officials raise alert for Fourth of July despite lack of specific threat appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Having determined no last-minute course corrections are needed to avoid debris, the New Horizons team has radioed the flight plan to the spacecraft in advance of its close flyby of Pluto on July 14.
“IT’S HAPPENING! IT’S HAPPENING!” was the message scrawled across the New Horizons’ Facebook page at around 9 am EDT on Friday. “The command load (flight plan) for close flyby has been sent to New Horizons this morning! The load is racing to New horizons at the speed of light is now about at the orbit of Uranus.”
The New Horizons spacecraft is about the size of a baby grand piano and carries a suite of seven instruments, including optical cameras, spectrometers, dust impact counters, plasma particle detectors, and radio equipment. The main camera is called the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager, or LORRI.
“It’s very detailed imagery at closest approach,” New Horizons’ Principal Investigator Alan Stern said. “LORRI will allow us to map the surface of Pluto well enough that if we flew over New York City at the same altitude and looked down with LORRI, we could count the ponds in Central Park and the wharfs on the Hudson.”
Even traveling at the speed of light, it takes about four and a half hours for signals to travel the 3 billion miles between the spacecraft and Earth.
The transmission of the flight plan caps weeks of hazard assessments in which team members scoured images and other data gathered by the New Horizons probe to determine if any previously-unspotted moons, dust clouds or other rocky debris could pose a threat to the spacecraft as it zooms thorough the Pluto system at 31,000 miles per hour.
Traveling at that speed, the spacecraft will only spend about 12 hours in close proximity to Pluto and its five known moons. While it has been transmitting a steady stream of data during its approach, New Horizons is programmed to spend all its time and energy collecting images and other scientific data while it sails in the immediate vicinity of Pluto. The spacecraft will only start sending that close flyby data back once it is past Pluto.
“We decided early on that as the spacecraft flies by Pluto, the mission’s objective should be to acquire as much scientific material as we possibly can,” New Horizons Project Scientist Hal Weaver said. “That means that we can’t have the antenna simultaneously pointing back to the earth, beaming back the data.”
Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, will be prime targets for New Horizons; though the other moons – Nix, Hydra, Styx, and Kerberos – will get their fair share of observation time as well.
Until now, scientists have not had access to much high-resolution data about Pluto – even images from the Hubble Space Telescope show it as a pixelated blob.
For Pluto proper, the science team is particularly interested in learning more about its atmosphere and surface features.
“We’re going to be looking for hazes in Pluto’s atmosphere,” said Weaver. “We’ll be looking in stereo to see if there are deep valleys and high mountains. We’ll also be taking a time series of photographs so that we can tell whether or not it looks like things are moving across the surface…potentially from vents on the surface.”
Charon is also of huge interest, given the moon has the same diameter as Texas and is large enough to be a planet itself, Stern said.
“It may even have an ocean beneath its surface,” Stern said. “So we’re going to look very carefully at Charon to study its geology, its composition, its interior, and to search for an atmosphere around it.”
The post Lock and Load for New Horizons, Flight Plan for Pluto Probe Is Set appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Greece is bracing itself for an uncertain future as voters prepare to go to the polls this Sunday to say yes or no to a bailout package with strict conditions.
The latest surveys show the country is almost evenly divided. And, today, Greek prime Minister Alexis Tsipras urged voters to say no to what he says amounts to blackmail from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant begins our coverage from Athens.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Tonight’s no-rally began with clashes at the bottom of Constitution Square. It was instigated by black-clad anarchists who are frequently involved in street battles with the police.
This was a minor confrontation in comparison to others that have happened in five years of austerity. One old man berated the police as they backed away. In Athens’ market district, the day began with a struggle to earn a living. Greeks are caught between a rock and a hard place as they try to decide which way to vote in Sunday’s referendum.
MAN: All Greece should vote yes.
MAN: My opinion is no.
WOMAN: I vote no, because I want to be proud of myself. It’s a difficult vote. And I think that now will give us hope for the future and for our children.
MAN: Big yes. Yes.
MALCOLM BRABANT: On either side of the divide, Constantine Alexander, the executive chairman of the Balkan Economic Forum, an international business development project, and a butcher from the Athens meat market.
CONSTANTINE ALEXANDER, Balkan Economic Forum: I know that Greeks right now have a difficult choice to make. They have a choice between the — an austerity program that will be very hard for them for several years, or actually going bankrupt and facing a situation that we haven’t seen since the Great Depression.
So, the choices are not good, but one of them is better than the other. I learned from Nelson Mandela of South Africa that if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Greek-American George Gilson, a journalist who covered Greece for years, is a victim of the crisis. His newspaper went under two years ago and he’s been unemployed ever since. To make money, he scours junk shops looking for hidden treasures.
GEORGE GILSON, Greece: I wouldn’t like with that yes-vote to legitimate five years of inhuman, punitive, vindictive policy that has nothing to do with Europe, that has nothing to do with sound economic policy, and that has nothing to do with getting Greece out of this crisis.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The no, or Oxi, campaign’s banners are most prominent, especially at the Athens Polytechnic, which is a symbol of national resistance to oppression.
But center-right lawmaker Harry Theocharis, Greece’s former chief tax evasion investigator, believes Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is misleading the country.
HARRY THEOCHARI, Former Secretary General for Public Revenue: I believe that this is their plan A, to go against Europe and take our banking system away from the euro system and change currency towards the drachma. But that’s going to be very, very painful severance.
MALCOLM BRABANT: At the no-rally, a puppeteer made light of the battle between the two sides. Down below, in main subway station, the crowds were jam-packed and chanting no. Just a stone’s throw from the no-rally, the yes side held its own gathering, in a last-ditch attempt to sway voters.
There are many Greeks who are worried about the depths of divisions that may occur as a result of this referendum. This is a country with a history is turning in on itself, and some people are afraid the levels of hatred may reach those which existed at the start of the civil war 70 years ago. Others are also concerned that there might possibly be social unrest, and we have seen an example of that tonight — Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you, Malcolm.
And let’s look at what Sunday’s vote could trigger with two different views. Jacob Kirkegaard is with the Peterson Institute for International Economics. And Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic And Policy research.
And we welcome you both.
You just saw again just how divided the Greek people are.
Jacob Kirkegaard, to you first.
What’s better for Greeks’ future, a yes or no vote?
JACOB KIRKEGAARD, Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics: Well, I think we need — in my opinion, there’s no doubt they should vote yes, because I think we need to make clear that this is not some abstract vote about austerity or not.
This is about really stemming what is now an accelerating national emergency in Greece, where you are starting to see food shortages, you’re starting to see medical supplies run low. And the banking system is just teetering on the brink of collapse, and which has now been closed for a week. And if there is no yes-vote, then the banking system will in my opinion slide into a complete collapse.
We will face significant depositor bailing and other things. So, this is really about saving the Greek economy and therefore the future for the Greek people.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Weisbrot, what should the people of Greece do?
MARK WEISBROT, Center for Economic and Policy Research: Well, I would go for a no-vote, because you have to look at who is responsible for this mess, who is responsible for six years of depression, who is responsible for the banks closing right now.
It’s because the European Central Bank decided last Sunday to limit the amount of emergency liquidity assistance, so that the banks wouldn’t have enough money to open. And they did this very deliberately, I think, to intimidate the voters into voting yes.
Everything that comes out of the mouths of the European officials right now is trying to scare and intimidate people to make them feel this pain and tell them this is what you’re going to get if you vote no. This is what you’re going to get if your government is audacious enough to insist not on everything they want or even half of what they want, but just a deal that allows the Greek economy to recover and unemployment to come down.
That’s really all that they have been asking for. And the European authorities have been stubborn and frankly pretty mean about it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Jacob Kirkegaard, what about that, this argument that Europeans, Central Bank and others, are just asking too much of the Greek people?
JACOB KIRKEGAARD: Well, there’s no doubt that Greece has been through a tremendous economic crisis in the last five years.
And there’s also no doubt that this has been associated directly with the IMF, the Troika program. But we have to look at the starting point of this program. In 2010, when the bailout was initially launched, Greece had a primary deficit of more than 10 percent of GDP, which means that if you hadn’t had a bailout at that point, you would have faced even greater amounts of austerity at this point.
And then the other thing that I would highlight is that, from the perspective of the Europeans, you cannot expect other European taxpayers to continue to pour money into Greece unconditionally. That’s not the way international bailouts work. And it’s not the way the European bailouts will work either.
And irrespective of what the Greek voters choose on Sunday, I think we also need to recognize that European voters elsewhere in the Eurozone will have an equally legitimate democratic right to say no to continuing payments to Greece. And, unfortunately, I think that’s what may well happen if the Greeks vote no.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Excuse me.
Mark Weisbrot, what about his earlier point that the rest of Europe cannot be expected to continue to bail out and support a Greek economy that hasn’t tightened its own belt?
MARK WEISBROT: Well, they have tightened their belt. They had six years of depression. They have got 26 percent unemployment. They have got 60 percent youth unemployment.
They have cut their imports by 36 percent, one of the biggest adjustments in the world. Last year, they had the largest cyclically adjusted primary budget surplus in Europe. So they have done the adjustment. They have gone through hell. And where is the light at the end of the tunnel?
The European authorities are not offering anything. And it’s becoming more and more clear actually — and I have been writing about this for a while — that the real goal of these authorities is to really get rid of the Greek government. That’s what they’re trying to do. And that’s why they won’t allow the economy to recover so far.
And they’re the ones inflicting the damage, OK? It’s not the Greek people that are responsible for the bank closure right now or for the recession going on this long. You know, one way you can see it…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me just get Jacob Kirkegaard to respond to what you just said, no light at the end of the tunnel, that the European Union — the European Union, the International Monetary Fund just keeps on asking more and more and more.
JACOB KIRKEGAARD: Well, I think — I mean, light tend of the tunnel, I mean, the Europeans have already restructured existing Greek debt at least three times.
And it’s very clear that they will have to do so again. There’s no doubt that everyone in Europe, including in Germany, including in Finland and elsewhere, recognizes that the money lent to Greece will not be repaid as they are currently structured.
Restructuring will have to happen. The question is whether or not you want an unconditional restructuring or whether you want a restructuring based on a Greek economy that actually has a chance to grow afterwards.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just quickly, go ahead.
MARK WEISBROT: Grow now, that’s the thing.
They have already — the European authorities have already and the European Central Bank have pushed the economy back into recession this year. And they started doing that just 10 days after Tsipras was elected. And they didn’t have to do that. The economy was going to grow by 2.5 percent this year.
So, you have these people trying to blame the Greek government for it, and that’s what this referendum is about is really whose fault is it and how are they going to get out of the recession? Almost every economist you talk to knows that these economies have failed.
And they failed in Europe. I mean, Europe has twice — the Eurozone has twice the unemployment than we do. Why is that? Because their Central Bank didn’t do its job. That’s the difference.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You want to respond?
JACOB KIRKEGAARD: Well, I would just say that it is certainly the case that Greece was on track in late 2014.
And if you read the recent IMF report that came out on Friday, that’s what it said. Greece was on track to exactly grow. And then this government was elected, surrounded with significant political uncertainty, and promised to basically blow up the program as it existed. If you — Greece was on track in 2014. And it wasn’t the Europeans. It was this government in Greece that decided to take everything on track — off track.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, there’s much more to discuss here, but we’re going to watch that vote on Sunday, and certainly be reporting on the aftermath afterwards.
We’re going to thank you both for now. Jacob Kirkegaard, Mark Weisbrot, thank you.
MARK WEISBROT: Thank you.
JACOB KIRKEGAARD: Thank you.
The post Yes or no on bailout referendum, how should Greece vote? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The heaviest fighting in months raged in the Northern Syrian city of Aleppo today, as government forces tried to repel a coordinated attack by rebels.
More than a dozen Islamic militant groups, including al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria, launched the assault on government positions overnight. President Bashar al-Assad’s troops called in airstrikes that killed at least 35 rebel fighters.
Elsewhere, Islamic State-affiliated fighters in Egypt claimed they fired three rockets into Southern Israel. Israeli officials acknowledged that rocket remnants were found, but didn’t confirm their origins. No injuries were reported.
Aetna announced today that it’s buying rival health insurer Humana for $37 billion. If approved, the deal would make Aetna the second largest health insurance company in the U.S., behind UnitedHealth. That would give it more power to negotiate prices under President Obama’s health care overhaul. It would also mean that Aetna would own a larger chunk of the rapidly growing Medicare business.
Residents in Maryville, Tennessee, were allowed home today, a day-and-a-half after a freight train with toxic chemicals derailed and caught fire. Some 5,000 people had been evacuated. The train burned throughout the day yesterday. It was carrying material used to make plastic that’s dangerous if inhaled. Authorities are examining the train’s black box for clues as to what caused the accident.
People around Britain today honored the victims of the deadly terror attack at a Tunisian beach; 30 of the 38 killed by an Islamic extremist in last week’s rampage were British. Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister David Cameron both participated in moments of silence in the U.K., while the British ambassador to Tunisia laid a wreath at the site of the attack.
HAMISH COWELL, British Ambassador to Tunisia: I think we all live under the threat of terrorism now. And I think that the lone wolf syndrome, we have seen it elsewhere, not just in Tunisia. But, of course, that’s why we are here working with the Tunisians to try to make sure that we have the best security possible. And I know there’s a great commitment from the Tunisians to ensure that they have that security in place.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The gunman in the Tunisia rampage was ultimately killed by police. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
A Russian Soyuz rocket bound for the International Space Station successfully lifted off from Kazakstan today. The unpiloted spacecraft is ferrying food, water, oxygen, and other supplies to the orbiting laboratory. The launch follows three unsuccessful resupply missions, including the SpaceX rocket that exploded shortly after liftoff Sunday.
The post News Wrap: Syrian government troops fight militant attack in Aleppo appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Here are eight things you might not have known about the Fourth of July.
1. The colonies officially declared independence on July 2
On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress approved Virginian delegate Richard Henry Lee’s motion for independence, dissolving the political bands that connected the 13 American colonies to the crown.
July 4 is celebrated as Independence Day because the Congress approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, after two days of debating and revising its contents. The Declaration was just a formal statement and explanation of the split effected on July 2, and it seems the founding fathers intended July 2 to be celebrated as Independence Day.
In a July 3 letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams made this prediction:
2. Few, if any, members of the Congress signed the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July
Historians disagree on the precise order of the signing, but it seems most signatories didn’t put their names on the document until August 2.
Although several of the founding fathers, including Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, later wrote that they signed the Declaration on July 4, many of the signatories weren’t present in Philadelphia until later. Furthermore, the document’s language underwent constant revision until it was approved on July 4, and it would have taken time for an official copy to be handwritten on parchment, making it unlikely that the final copy was signed on July 4.
3. Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence condemned slavery
Although Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, his original draft of the Declaration contained language condemning King George III’s support for the slave trade as “a cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty.”
Despite such stirring, humanistic language, it seems that Jefferson’s main complaint against the English King was related to Dunmore’s Proclamation, a 1775 law passed by Lord Dunmore, the British governor of Virginia. The proclamation promised Virginian slaves freedom in exchange for serving in the British army.
Slave-owning delegates to the Second Continental Congress objected to the slavery passage of Jefferson’s draft, and it was removed after debate. The only portion that made it to the final Declaration was the phrase “He has excited domestic Insurrections among us,” in reference to King George’s support for Dunmore’s Proclamation.
4. Americans eat more the 150 million hot dogs every Fourth of July
The July 4 holiday is America’s biggest weekend for hot dog consumption, appropriate for the beginning of National Hotdog Month. And Americans purchase more than 700 million pounds of chicken during the week leading up to the Fourth of July.
Independence Day is also a major beer holiday — Americans buy about 52.7 million cases of beer in the two weeks leading up to July 4, making the Fourth a bigger beer holiday than the Super Bowl, according to Nielsen. That’s a staggering total of more than a billion brews.
5. Three U.S. presidents have died on Independence Day
Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Monroe all died on the Fourth of July. In a providential twist, Adams and Jefferson both died within hours of one another on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration’s passage.
In his final moments, Adams reportedly said, “Thomas Jefferson survives,” unaware that his friend and longtime political rival had died hours earlier.
James Monroe also died on July 4, though he outlived Jefferson and Adams by five years, passing away in 1831.
Only one president, Calvin Coolidge, has been born on the Fourth of July.
6. July 4 is also a holiday in the Philippines and in Rwanda
In the Philippines, July 4 is celebrated as Republic Day, commemorating the United States’ formal recognition of the independence of the Republic of the Philippines on July 4, 1946.
July 4 was celebrated as Philippine Independence Day until 1962, when President Diosdado Macapagal changed the date of Independence Day to June 12 to mark the Philippine Declaration of Independence from Spain in 1898.
In Rwanda, July 4 is Liberation Day, a national holiday that marks the end of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the beginning of reconciliation and nation building in Rwanda.
7. Your fireworks and American flag were probably made in China
Americans spent $3.6 million on imported American flags in 2014, $3.5 million of which came from China.According to U.S. Census Bureau, the United States imported $247.1 million worth of fireworks from China in 2014, roughly 96 percent of total U.S. fireworks imports.
In comparison, U.S. fireworks exports came in at about $12 million, of which Israel purchased $5.4 million.
Chinese goods also accounted for more than 97 percent of all U.S. imports of American flags in 2014. Americans spent $3.6 million on imported American flags that year, $3.5 million of which came from China.
Turkey was the biggest purchaser of American flags exported from the United States, spending $637,000 on the stars and stripes, or 37 percent of the total value of American flags exported by the United States.
8. The melody of the Star Spangled Banner came from the official song of an English club
The tune that Francis Scott Key set the lyrics of the national anthem to came from “To Anacreon in Heaven,” the constitutional song of the Anacreontic Society, a London club for amateur musicians.
The club was named for the Greek poet Anacreon, who was famous for his verse about women and drinking, and the song was likely a tavern standard in colonial America.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated that the year in which Jefferson and Adams died was 1836. Both men died in 1826.