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- 07/26/15--12:56: _Clinton ‘confident’...
- 07/26/15--13:31: _U.S. energy firms s...
- 07/26/15--13:40: _Presidential histor...
- 07/26/15--13:56: _Photos: Chris Froom...
- 07/26/15--15:13: _Report: Man accused...
- 07/26/15--15:47: _Boy Scouts to repea...
- 07/26/15--15:48: _Study suggests Japa...
- 07/27/15--06:05: _Obama urges Ethiopi...
- 07/27/15--12:34: _Using telegrams and...
- 07/27/15--13:17: _New York Magazine p...
- 07/27/15--13:30: _‘I was a slave': Ni...
- 07/27/15--14:39: _Poet creates first ...
- 07/27/15--15:15: _Women accusing Bill...
- 07/27/15--15:20: _Fiat Chrysler faces...
- 07/27/15--15:25: _Teachers and studen...
- 07/27/15--15:30: _Clamoring for atten...
- 07/27/15--15:35: _Does Obama’s Africa...
- 07/27/15--15:40: _Obama promotes incl...
- 07/27/15--15:45: _Uncertainty for res...
- 07/27/15--15:50: _News Wrap: Yemen ai...
- 07/26/15--12:56: Clinton ‘confident’ no classified emails were sent
- 07/26/15--13:31: U.S. energy firms slash jobs as crude oil prices drop
- 07/26/15--13:56: Photos: Chris Froome wins second Tour de France title
- 07/26/15--15:47: Boy Scouts to repeal ban on gay leaders, with limitations
- 07/26/15--15:48: Study suggests Japan falsified whale hunting data during the 1960s
- 07/27/15--06:05: Obama urges Ethiopia to curb crackdowns on media, opposition
- 07/27/15--12:34: Using telegrams and love letters to teach World War II
- 07/27/15--13:30: ‘I was a slave': Nigerian women escape sexual bondage in Italy
- 07/27/15--14:39: Poet creates first class for transgender poetry
- 07/27/15--15:15: Women accusing Bill Cosby of assault speak out with similar stories
- 07/27/15--15:20: Fiat Chrysler faces record fines for failing to recall unsafe cars
- 07/27/15--15:30: Clamoring for attention, presidential candidates get provocative
- 07/27/15--15:35: Does Obama’s Africa visit come too late?
- 07/27/15--15:40: Obama promotes inclusivity, human rights during Africa visit
- 07/27/15--15:50: News Wrap: Yemen airstrikes resume despite cease-fire
WINTERSET, Iowa — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said she never knowingly sent or received classified information using her private email server and did not know what messages were being cited by intelligence investigators as examples of emails containing classified information.
Clinton spoke briefly Saturday about the email matter after a Democratic gathering at the Madison County Historical Complex in which she stressed her commitment to a variety of issues, including her support for pre-kindergarten education and abortion access. Reporters raised the topic of the email during a brief news conference.
“I am confident that I never sent or received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received. What I think you’re seeing here is a very typical kind of discussion, to some extent disagreement among various parts of the government, over what should or should not be publicly released,” she said.
The front-runner for her party’s nomination said she wanted the information in question to be made public as soon as possible and suggested there was confusion over the issue.
“I think there’s so much confusion around this that I understand why reporters and the public are asking questions, but the facts are pretty clear. I did not send nor receive anything that was classified at the time,” she said.
Intelligence investigators told the Justice Department in a letter this week that secret government information may have been compromised in the unsecured system she used at her New York home during her tenure as secretary of state.
Asked if the Justice Department should investigate, Clinton said: “They can fight over it or argue over it. That’s up to them. I can tell you what the facts are.”
In addition to alerting the Justice Department to the potential compromise of classified information, the inspector general of the U.S. intelligence community sent a memo to members of Congress indicating that “potentially hundreds of classified emails” were among the 30,000 that Clinton had provided to the State Department.
The office said it also raised that concern with FBI counterintelligence officials and was recommending changes in how the emails are being reviewed and processed for public release. The State Department is reviewing 55,000 pages of emails with the goal of releasing all of them by Jan. 29.
The intelligence inspector general, I. Charles McCullough, and his counterpart at the State Department, Steve Linick, said that McCullough’s office found four emails containing classified information in a limited sample of 40 emails.
Whether the Justice Department would investigate the potential compromise the intelligence inspector general highlighted was not clear. The referral to the Justice Department does not seek a criminal probe and does not specifically target Clinton.
In its letter to congressional oversight committees, the inspector general’s office said that it was concerned that “these emails exist on at least one private server and thumb drive with classified information and those are not in the government’s possession,” Andrea Williams, a spokeswoman for McCullough, said earlier this week.
The letter said none of the emails was marked “classified” at the time it was sent or received but that some should have been handled as such and sent on a secure computer network.
Clinton has said she used the private server at her home as a matter of convenience to limit her number of electronic devices.
This report was written by Catherine Lucey of the Associated Press.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: President Obama is in Ethiopia tonight, the first sitting U.S. president to visit that country.
His stop comes after a three-day visit to Kenya — one goal of the trip, strengthening trade between sub-Saharan Africa and the U.S., another, fighting terrorism.
To discuss those and other issues, I’m joined by former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell, now the Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
So, let’s start with the terror one. How is fighting terror in Africa in, I guess, the U.S. interests today?
JOHN CAMPBELL, Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria: Terrorism in Africa is a direct threat, not to U.S. security, but to U.S. interests.
A fundamental U.S. interest in Africa is that there be continued progress towards democracy, towards development, towards stability. Terrorism is a threat to the Kenyan state, the Nigerian state. Terrorism is active in the — in the Sahel. These are all areas where the — the U.S. has been working for a long time.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s talk a little bit about the economic impact as well.
There seems to be almost a race here to perhaps counter the influence that China already has in Africa as a trading partner, as in someone who is making significant investments there.
JOHN CAMPBELL: My own view is that that can be — that can be overemphasized.
China is now the second largest economy in the world. China obviously has economic interests in Africa. The real issue, I think, is that Chinese interests — economic interests in Africa be responsible, and that, particularly in peace and security questions, that China play a role commensurate with its economic position in — particularly in East Africa.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And so, when the president lays out at these sort of entrepreneurial forums or these business sectors that he wants to see these countries in Africa become the economic engine for the world, how realistic, how possible is that?
JOHN CAMPBELL: Well, it will take some time, obviously, but the population of sub-Saharan Africa is approaching one billion.
Now, there are all kinds of hurdles to be overcome. Sub-Saharan Africa amounts to only about 3 percent of world trade. And there is remarkably little intra-African trade. So, there is lots of works to be done, lots of development to be undergone.
HARI SREENIVASAN: One of the legacies that President Bush left behind, and Clinton as well, is PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. And President Obama has built on that. And there were some announcements about a new initiative focusing on adolescent girls too.
JOHN CAMPBELL: There was indeed.
Also, a very important U.S. initiative that’s often overlooked is malaria. Malaria, of course, kills enormous numbers of people every year. And yet relatively simple programs such as providing bed nets for people can greatly reduce the mortality rates, particularly amongst children.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there, in the longer legacy that Obama leaves behind, a different place for him partly because of his background?
JOHN CAMPBELL: Yes. I think so, really in two broad areas.
For one thing, because of his background, I think Africa has willy-nilly been introduced to some Americans who otherwise never would have thought about it.
Similarly, the fact that the president of the United States is an African-American, that — that is of a particular interest and indeed even pride straight across the African continent, so, yes, both in the United States, but also in Africa.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, John Campbell, thanks so much for joining us.
JOHN CAMPBELL: Thank you so very much for having me.
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Team Sky rider Chris Froome has officially won his second Tour de France title, and Britain’s third, following the end of the famed race in Paris on Sunday.
“I was on my absolute limits, I felt like I was dying a thousand deaths on the Alpe,” Froome told local reporters.
Nairo Quintana of Colombia finished second after proving himself as a fierce challenger in the 20th stage of the race, cutting nearly a minute and a half off Froome’s lead at Alpe d’Huez.
“This is 100 percent a British victory,” Froome said after his win.
Froome has contributed two titles to Britain’s three Tour de France wins. Bradley Wiggins won for Britain in 2012.
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— The Guardian (@guardian) July 26, 2015
Cecil was a leading attraction of the national park in Hwange, Zimbabwe, until the 13-year-old lion suffered a grisly death at the hands of hunters earlier this month, according to a report by the Guardian.
A man allegedly paid local hunters €50,000 to help him lure Cecil outside of the protected park and then, after the group shot him with a bow and arrow and tracked him for almost two days, they shot him with a rifle. The hunters reportedly beheaded and skinned the lion as well.
“Cecil’s death is a tragedy, not only because he was a symbol of Zimbabwe but because now we have to give up for dead his six cubs, as a new male won’t allow them to live so as to encourage Cecil’s three females to mate,” head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force Johnny Rodrigues told the Guardian.
Rodrigues told The Guardian that the hunter was a Spaniard, but a Zimbabwean man who identified himself as one of the foreign hunter’s accomplices told The Telegraph that the hunter was North American.
Rodrigues said that the foreign hunter’s two Zimbabwean accomplices have been arrested.
When Cecil was killed he was wearing a GPS tracker placed there by an Oxford University research program.
The researchers found that 72 percent of the adult males they tagged for the project were killed by sport hunters, according to TIME.
The African lion population is shrinking due to habitat loss, poaching, disease and trophy hunting, among other causes. Where roughly one million lions roamed the earth a century ago, the global population today is closer to 30,000, according to conservation group Panthera.
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The Boy Scouts of America is expected to end its ban on openly gay leaders in a limited manner Monday, a historic decision for one of the nation’s largest youth organizations, whose decades-long struggle over whether to include gays in its ranks has both mirrored and fueled the broader national debate over LGBT rights.
The action expected Monday is the official ratification of a resolution to amend the Scouts’ leadership policy that the group’s Executive Committee unanimously voted to adopt July 10.
The Scouts’ current adult leadership standards policy prohibits membership to “individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals.”
The new resolution reads, in part:
The Boy Scouts of America affirms the right of each chartering organization to reach its own religious and moral conclusions about the specific meaning and application of these values. The Boy Scouts of America further affirms the right of each chartering organization to select adult leaders who support those conclusions in word and deed and who will best inculcate the organization’s values through the Scouting program.
The resolution will also wholly prevent people who apply to be Boy Scout employees and certain types of volunteers from being rejected based on sexual orientation.
Boy Scout units that are chartered to religious entities — which comprise the majority of units — are explicitly allowed the option of maintaining it under the new resolution, and pledges indemnity from lawsuits that may spring from their decisions to do so.
Of the roughly 100,000 scouting units, nearly 72 percent are owned and operated by faith-based organizations.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the United Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Church have the the largest youth membership of the faith-based organizations involved with the Boy Scouts.
Over the past two decades, the organization has been increasingly embroiled by battles over whether to continue excluding gays, a stance that has threatened the Scouts with the specter of costly litigation and caused some corporate sponsors, including Merck, UPS, United Way and Intel to withdraw support.
In 2013, the Scouts decided to allow gay youths to participate in scouting, a policy that took effect the following year.
The latest change is the culmination of advocacy by Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates.
Gates, who oversaw the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy during his tenure as U.S. Secretary of Defense, used a speech at the Boy Scouts’ annual national meeting this year to call on the organization to repeal the ban on openly gay adults.
In his speech, Gates said that a number of factors, including potential discrimination lawsuits, internal disputes over the policy and the impending Supreme Court gay marriage decision had convinced him that the rule was untenable.
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Japanese commercial whale fleets are accused of altering their records in the late 1960s, according to a study published recently in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
NOAA scientists Yulia Ivashchenko and Phillip J. Clapham are questioning the credibility of the recorded sizes of female sperm whales killed by Japanese fleets in the open waters of the North Pacific Ocean between 1968 and 1969. The reports were submitted by the Japanese to the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
“Japanese whalers were already known to have falsified catch data for sperm whales and other species killed by land-based whaling stations,” Ivashchenko said in a statement, “but while there were suspicions that the same practice was going on in the pelagic fleets, no one had previously been able to show this.”
That was until the wife-and-husband team looked more closely at Soviet records documenting the lengths of sperm whales killed by USSR fleets operating simultaneously in the North Pacific. At the time, whalers were prohibited from killing sperm whales – highly sought after for their oil, which could be used as a high-grade industrial lubricant – less than 38 feet long.
The pair found that between 1968 and 1969, Japanese whaling fleets recorded killing up to nine times as many legal-sized females as the Soviets. And during part of August 1969 in particular, Japan claimed to have killed 30 times more legal-sized females than a Soviet fleet operating in the same area, at the same time.
The two contend that the Japanese whale hunters were taking in large numbers of illegal-sized whales and faking their lengths.
For decades, the Soviet Union falsified its own catch records. It wasn’t until the collapse of the USSR that the truth about Soviet whaling came to light. As part of her PhD work, Ivashchenko helped to correct Soviet whaling data by using the formerly secret records.
Ivashchenko and Clapham’s study findings come less than a week after Japan confirmed that it will resume whaling in the Antarctic for scientific purposes, according to the Guardian. Last year, the UN’s International Court of Justice ruled that Japan had to halt whaling in the region.
Although the IWC began a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986, an exception in the organization’s convention allows for the catching and killing of medium and large-sized whales for scientific research.
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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — President Barack Obama urged Ethiopia’s leaders Monday to curb crackdowns on press freedom and political openness as he began a visit that human rights groups say legitimizes an oppressive government.
“When all voices are being heard, when people know they are being included in the political process, that makes a country more successful,” Obama said during a news conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Obama’s trip marks the first visit by a sitting U.S. president to Ethiopia, a fast-growing economy once defined by poverty and famine.
Later Monday, Obama was to convene a meeting with African leaders on the crisis in South Sudan. The world’s newest nation has been gripped by violence as warring factions in the government fight for power.
“The conditions on the ground are getting much, much worse,” Obama said. He said if a peace agreement isn’t reached by an Aug. 17 deadline, the U.S. and its partners would have to “consider what other tools we have.”
Options under consideration include deepening economic sanctions and an arms embargo.
Obama arrived in Ethiopia late Sunday following a stop in Kenya, the country of his father’s birth. The crisis in South Sudan and the human rights challenges on his agenda punctured a trip that had otherwise been a celebratory visit of the first black U.S. president to Africa.
Despite Ethiopia’s progress, there are deep concerns about political freedoms on the heels of May elections in which the ruling party won every seat in parliament.
Obama said he was frank in his discussions with Ethiopian leaders about the need to allow political opponents to operate freely. He also defended his decision to travel to the East African nation, comparing it to U.S. engagement with China, another nation with a poor human rights record.
“Nobody questions our need to engage with large countries where we may have differences on these issues,” he said. “That’s true with Africa as well.”
Ethiopia’s prime minister defended his country’s commitment to democracy.
“Our commitment to democracy is real — not skin deep,” he said. Asked about his country’s jailing of journalists, he said his country needed “ethical journalism” and reporters that don’t work with terrorist organizations.
Ethiopia is the world’s second-worst jailer of journalists in Africa, after Eritrea, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Ahead of Obama’s arrival, the Ethiopian government released several journalists and bloggers it had been holding since April 2014 on charges of incitement and terrorism. Many others remain in detention.
Sarah Margon, the Washington director of the organization Human Rights Watch, said Obama’s visit undermines the president’s goals of good governance on the African continent.
“In many ways, I guess it’s a reward,” Margon said. “Ethiopia at this time doesn’t deserve that.”
Despite differences on human rights, the U.S. sees Ethiopia as an important partner in fighting terrorism in the region, particularly the Somalia-based al-Shabab network. Ethiopia shares intelligence with the U.S. and sent troops into Somalia to address instability there.
The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab claimed credit for a suicide bomb at a luxury hotel in Somalia’s capital Sunday that killed nine people and injured nearly two dozen more. The Jazeera Hotel was considered the most secure in Mogadishu and is frequented by diplomats, foreigners and visiting heads of state.
Obama said the attack was a reminder that “we have more work to do” in stemming terrorism in the region.
Ethiopia has also been an important U.S. partner in the effort to end South Sudan’s civil war. The prime minister was among the leaders joining Obama in Monday’s meeting on the crisis.
South Sudan was thrown into conflict in December 2013 by a clash between forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, and President Salva Kiir, a Dinka. The fighting has spurred a humanitarian crisis, throwing the country into turmoil four years after its inception.
The U.S. was instrumental in backing South Sudan’s bid for independence, which was overwhelmingly supported by the country’s people.
AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace contributed to this report.
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They found love letters, pictures, death-notice telegrams, and even insurance settlement claims that have survived for decades.
The discoveries are a result of a months-long assignment for 15 student-teacher teams selected from across the nation to be scholars for National History Day’s Normandy Institute.
Their primary task? To find out all they could about about the life and death of a single U.S. serviceman killed in action during the Battle of Normandy — the turning point of World War II that led to the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany. The teams each chose an individual who came from their community or home state.
Cathy Gorn, the Executive Director of National History Day, said the assignment is called the “Silent Hero Project.”
“We know about the generals and the really famous heroes,” Gorn said. “But the average guy that went out there and did what he had to do, they are just numbers, so these kids are getting to know them.”
More than 200,000 Allied troops are estimated to have died in Operation Overlord, the military codename for the invasion of northwest Europe. The task of picking just one soldier was not an easy one for some students, including Audrey Calovich of Kansas City, Missouri.
“Choosing one person who lost their life in an epic battle in history is a little bit like ethics class,” Calovich said. “Who deserves it? Well, they all do.”
She eventually decided to profile Flight Officer Edmund Decker, a decorated pilot killed by German fire on June 8, 1944.
Through an alumni association at Decker’s high school in Kansas City, she found pictures of the young fighter pilot. Calovich later uncovered Decker’s dental records from his official military file.
The students and teachers scoured local libraries and historical societies before visiting the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, to work with some of the nation’s leading experts on World War II documents.
The group then headed to Normandy, where they saw key sites related to the D-Day invasion, which began on June 6, 1944. On their final day in Normandy, they visited the American Cemetery there, where students gave eulogies at the gravesites of their fallen serviceman.
Yet the assignment did not end when they returned home. The students must build websites using all the material they uncovered about their Silent Hero. They are also required to share their journey and help their teachers with World War II history lessons next year.
Audrey Calovich said the whole experience has confirmed her previous desire to one day become a historian.
“Being on this trip you understand how important it is to preserve history for future researchers like us,” she said.
See the websites from participants of the Silent Hero project.
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Yesterday, in the culmination of a six-month project, New York Magazine published a profile of 35 different women who allege that comedian Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them. The article features portrait-style photographs of the women, accompanied by statements on their assault or assaults.
“I’m no longer afraid,” one of the women, Chelan Lasha, said in the piece. “I feel more powerful than him.”
The article looks at the progression of the accusations against Cosby in a timeline that begins in the sixties, when some of the first alleged assaults occurred. Popular attitudes toward rape at the time characterized it as “something violent committed by a stranger; acquaintance rape didn’t register as such, even for the women experiencing it,” according to the piece.
The chronicle continues through the ’70s and ‘80s, touching on movements like “Take Back the Night” and their role in raising popular awareness of date rape. The article examines some of the accusations brought forward in 2005, how they ended up buried and why they resurfaced following a videotaped segment from a set by comedian Hannibal Buress.
Many of the women’s stories that appear in the piece are similar; they say they met Cosby in their teens or twenties and that he offered to mentor them, but instead gave them drugs to incapacitate them without their consent before assaulting them.
Cosby has never been charged with a crime, but in a 2006 deposition obtained by The New York Times, he stated that he had obtained quaaludes for the purpose of drugging women he wanted to have sex with.
New York Magazine senior editor Noreen Malone, who wrote the article, told the NewsHour the women wanted to come forward to share their stories.
“Most of the women though wanted to have their voice shared,” Malone said. “They wanted to tell everyone that you should believe us, that we’re not lying.”
Sarah McHaney contributed reporting to this article.
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CASERTA, Italy — She is 32 and demure, with a poise that belies the image of a woman who was enslaved for five years in a Nigerian prostitution ring on the outskirts of Naples, the raffish Mediterranean port city 22 miles south of Caserta.
She has been through a living nightmare, like so many of the 120,000 women who now work as prostitutes in Italy.
More than a third of these women come from Nigeria, by far the largest number from any country outside Italy, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.
A third of them arrived as minors, according a study by the Community of Pope John XXIII, one of several church organizations helping people on the ragged edge of society. With 250 shelters spread across Italy, Catholic nuns are pivotal to the lives of women seeking an escape to stable lives from a sex trade that for many of them is outright slavery.
“My story started in Lagos,” said the 32-year-old woman, who asked to remain anonymous. “We were well-to-do. My father was a crane operator for Nigerian Port Authority. My mother was a teacher, then she got a job in the office where my father worked.”
“The school system was good,” she continued. “I did well as a student. We attended the Catholic church. My mother wanted my older brother to be a priest. He went off to a boys’ seminary in Ibadan. I was 12 when my mom got cancer of the breast. She died when the baby was four months old. That was 1994. … In 2000, my father died of cancer of the brain. I was 17. We had uncles and aunts but none came around. We had to fend for ourselves, and I had no way to further my education. We lived in the family home. I had responsibility for the younger ones.”
Desperation and duplicity
Her brother left seminary, and eventually entered a university. As head of household, she worked as a market vendor with a table, selling fruit, cloth, “anything I could get my hands on” to bring in money.
A lady who visited the market befriended her.
“I had no close adult who could advise me,” she said. “I thought she was a business woman from the nice dresses she wore – it never occurred to me to ask what work she did. She said I could find work in a shop in Naples, and if it did not work out I’d easily find a job as a babysitter.”
After several discussions, she agreed to go. She was 23 then and expected to earn money to send home. The lady covered her plane ticket, she said, and they arrived in Naples on Dec. 15, 2006.
“And then I saw it was all a lie,” she said, her voice dropping. “As soon as I realized I had to go in the street I opposed her and she beat me with her hands. I did not have a choice. I was a slave.”
The woman who duped her was a maman, as Nigerian madams are called. Mamans work through Nigerian pimps or deal directly with Camorra, the regional mafia that exacts turf money for the trade.
The maman held over her a debt for the plane ticket, food costs and rent in her room at a house with four other Nigerian girls forced to bring back swatches of euros from “road work,” selling their bodies in quick encounters through the days and nights.
She lived in Castel Volturno, a town of 25,000 on the shore outside of Naples, where more than a third of the people are Nigerian or Ghanaian, and prostitution is rife.
“I worked seven nights a week and some mornings,” she said. “There was no relief.”
At great cost
In 2008, protests erupted after a Camorra chief led an armed attack that slaughtered six Africans.
The Italian mobsters went to prison for the killings. A government investigation sent 36 Nigerians to long prison terms for drug smuggling, human trafficking and murder, according to press reports of the time.
In that grim environment, she became pregnant in 2008 by a man she thought would rescue her.
“He wasn’t part of the system,” she said in a careful voice. “He recognized the child, but then withdrew.”
She paused. “I think he’s gone back to Nigeria.”
She continued, “I gave birth in the house of that madam. My little boy stayed with me. A woman came as a babysitter. You’re expected to bring in more euros for the extra costs. It was like being in a prison, in a maze — everywhere you go, another barrier. I was full of fear.”
When her son was two-and-a-half she learned of a state shelter, took the boy and fled.
“They accepted my story but said they didn’t have a place,” she said. “They called other places. Sister Rita [Giaretta] said, ‘Bring her over here.’ When I arrived at Casa Ruth, there was another Nigerian girl in the car. I felt protection, some kind of relief. Sister Rita didn’t ask me anything. She said, ‘This is your room. Tomorrow we’ll talk.’”
That was in 2011.
A safety net
Casa Ruth, a home for survivors of prostitution, is run by a small community of Ursuline nuns who moved to Caserta in 1995. The sisters combined three flats in a medium rise building to create a rambling suite of ten bedrooms, kitchen, dining area, living room, parlor, office, chapel and a large veranda.
Every woman who arrives at Casa Ruth is given a copy of the Bible, or the Quran, depending on their beliefs.
She began Italian lessons, with an in-house support system for her son. The nuns helped her in getting residential status from the state. Today, she has her own apartment; her son is in school. She sings in a choir and considers herself a non-denominational Christian.
She gazes out at a listless sky from her seat at a cooperative, New Life, that sells fabrics of tribal design under auspices of the nuns. She works as a seamstress now.
“At night I still think of my parents. If they hadn’t died, I would not be here. But I’ve come to see that in life, things are possible.”
The Nigeria-Naples connection
In 2000, Consolata Missionary Sister Eugenia Bonetti, who had spent many years in Kenya, began organizing an office in Rome for women’s religious orders to counter human trafficking.
“We have saved more than 6,000 women,” estimates the 76-year-old nun. “The majority are still Nigerians. When you think of the weight they have to bear in 4,000 sexual encounters, at 10 or 15 euro each with African men, and 25 to 50 euro with Europeans, the vulnerability of these young women is a great crime.”
In Italian towns and cities where immigrant women work the streets, groups of nuns go out at night, offering the prostitutes tea, handing out leaflets on how to defect to safe houses in convents.
Of the small fraction of women who get to shelters, the sisters organize them to learn Italian and get residential papers, though not all end up staying in Italy. Of the EU countries, Italy has one of the most flexible programs to help migrants.
The second-largest prostitution group is from Romania, an EU country, which means that trafficked women with a passport can stay without a work permit. Many of the Romanians are teenage girls.
“When you rescue them,” said Bonetti, “they’ve lost their adolescence and it’s very difficult to fill that gap with love.”
Criminal networks in Nigeria also use voodoo rituals to ensnare young females before sending them to Europe.
Benin City in Edo State is a hotbed of voodoo, according to the State Department and media reports.
The area was once Dahomey, an 18th-century kingdom that sold huge numbers of African slaves to ships that crossed the Atlantic. Voodoo, a ritual to tribal gods, spread to Caribbean islands like Haiti.
The International Union of Superior Generals, where Bonetti works, assists the Nigerian Conference of Women Religious in providing an 18-bed shelter in Benin City for trafficking survivors deported from Italy.
Benin City is in Edo State, ground zero in Nigeria’s slave export economy.
“The traffickers are cunning,” said Bonetti. “They go into remote villages where there is no work or education, and offer ‘come to Europe, nothing to lose’ – without the girls knowing the risk.”
In her book “Slaves No More”, Sister Rita Giaretta wrote that traffickers’ voodoo-inspired ceremonies force girls to swallow pieces of “their hair, nails, blood as well as the still-beating heart of a chicken just slaughtered.”
A girl is “possessed by a spirit that may rage within her until provoking her death” — should she betray a maman or pimp.
“The majority of prostitutes come from Edo State,” explained the Rev. Hyginus Obia, a native of Nigeria and the pastor at Naples’ largest immigrant parish, Santa Maria del Monte Veriginella.
“Many of the hotels in Benin City are built by madams. They lure ignorant girls to come to paradise. Girls who go through the voodoo believe that if they run away, the madam will track and kill their parents.”
After seminary in Nigeria, Obia studied in Belgium, and earned a PhD in social sciences at Rome’s Angelicum University. He wrote his dissertation on Christian-Muslim conflict in Nigeria.
Now, in Naples, he deals with the spiritual conflicts of Nigerian women who go to him for counseling, seeking freedom from voodoo rituals that he calls “a corruption of traditional African religion, invoking evil spirits, forces that operate to terrorize people.”
In Naples, two exorcisms have been performed on Nigerian women, according to the Rev. Tonin Palmese, the archdiocese’s vicar for charity.
“The real bond is not the voodoo ritual but the economic system of slavery,” Palmese told GroundTruth.
Many Nigerians in Naples have animist beliefs in ancestral spirits melded with Christianity or Islam, according to Obia.
The priest has on occasion laid out on a table the powders and liquids, used as juju in cult ceremonies and presented to him by distraught people. He prays over the juju to drive out evil spirits and then burns them, as a symbol of catharsis, trying to break the spiritual hold and reconcile the person to Christianity.
In a perverse irony, many of the prostituted women enslaved to madams go with them to Pentecostal churches, which promote prosperity as virtue and have proliferated in the Naples area, according to Obia.
“The mamans bring the girls to Pentecostal churches where they all pay tithes,” he said, referring to the practice of giving a portion of one’s income to church.
“They believe this will help them make more money. I have tried to understand this,” he said with a shrug at the baffling donations which can be taken as a blessing to empower a prostitute or maman to then make more money degrading their bodies.
Gulls crooned in the harbor a few blocks from the balcony of the priest’s rectory.
“Some of the working women come here, and in spite of all their sufferings, they make Italian friends. I know of an Italian man who paid 20,000 euro to get the girl away from the maman — and then the girl became a madam herself.”
Sitting in limbo
Naples is Italy’s third-largest city with 990,000 people, a major Mediterranean port ringed with poverty in dense-packed neighborhoods where laundry hangs from endless balconies as men loiter on rutted streets. Unemployment is 12.6 percent according to state data.
Caritas, the international Catholic relief agency, has a Naples office with programs for economic migrants and another to rescue women from the sex trade, trying to integrate both groups into the larger society.
Forty women are “coming out of trafficking,” according to Palmese, the archdiocesan official who works with nonprofit and government agencies in a network of 14 centers that house women. After a decompression period they begin Italian language lessons as a first step toward gaining political asylum.
“The numbers may seem small,” said Palmese, “but our approach is for social workers to work deeply, one-on-one, with these women in a group environment.”
Week after week, dazed African migrants get off boats in Sicily after the harrowing Mediterranean crossing from Libya to Italy with its weak economy, 14 percent unemployment and millions of young, educated people scrambling for jobs.
Last year 170,000 migrants entered Italy, with an ever-increasing number of people arriving this summer.
“The migrants entering Italy have become a structural reality of changing geopolitics,” said Salvatore Esposito, president of Mediterraneo Sociale, an NGO that works with the church in settling women who escape prostitution.
“As war redraws borders in Africa and the Middle East, people keep leaving,” he said. “Many come here.”
On a sultry June afternoon at a safe house near Naples, a female social worker sat with five young African women who agreed to talk provided their identities and the location were shielded, and that questions not dwell on graphic personal details.
The youngest three were from Nigeria.
“Without [identity] documents we can’t go out much,” said a girl in a T-shirt and shorts, a leg crossed over her knee, sitting placidly in the shade of a tree.
Two other girls from Edo State sat next to her, resistant to questions. They had come from Tripoli on a packed, leaky boat. One of the girls accused a fellow passenger of being a maman. It’s an accusation that an aid group official present for the interview said would be difficult to corroborate.
The two girls were living temporarily in religious housing “for their protection” the official said. They were in legal limbo — and bored stiff.
“I want to talk to my mother,” said the girl in the T-shirt and shorts, sucking a plastic crucifix on a necklace around her neck. “I want to hear from them.”
For security reasons, and concerns over retaliation against family in Nigeria, they had only limited contact with their parents, explained the aid worker.
“I want to go to London,” said the girl. “I’ve seen London on television. It’s a great place!”
This report was first published on The GroundTruth Project website. Valeria Fraschetti assisted with reporting and translation. This story was produced with support from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Mary Catherine Bunting Foundation, and Dan and Sheila Daley.
The post ‘I was a slave': Nigerian women escape sexual bondage in Italy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Listen to Trace Peterson read her poem “AFTER BEFORE AND AFTER.”
Trace Peterson, a poet at the forefront of the push for transgender representation in poetry, will soon pioneer what she says is the country’s first course in transgender poetry.
The course, which she will teach at Hunter College this fall, is part of an ongoing effort by Peterson and other poets to create visibility for transgender people as well as a literary context for their work, Peterson said. That context is lacking in the worlds of literature and academia, especially for poetry, she said.
“Literature departments and studies of literature are very comfortable approaching transgender subject matter as theory, or as types of metaphor. But there’s very little study of literature by transgender people,” she said.
But that has the potential to change as new publications and conferences move to create spaces where transgender poets can be heard, she said. Peterson is editor and publisher of the journal EOAGH and co-editor of the anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, both of which publish work by transgender poets. Since Troubling the Line was published in 2013, at least 10 of its authors have published a first book of poems, she said.
Other publications carrying that mission forward include Writing the Walls Down, which centers on transgender and queer writers of color, and Them, a journal focusing on poetry by transgender authors. Peterson also successfully lobbied this year to include a category for transgender women in VIDA’s annual count of women working in the literary arts, and the Lambda Literary Awards added a category dedicated to transgender poetry for the first time ever this year.
Poetry has provided an important space for Peterson to express herself, she wrote in a personal poetics statement published in Troubling the Line. “Before transition, poetry offered to me the possibility of trying on different versions of myself, a way of channeling possible selves through associated chains of sound, imagery, and thought,” she wrote.
Peterson described her poem “AFTER BEFORE AND AFTER,” which you can listen to above, as a “love letter to trans women.” The poem deconstructs a common narrative that scapegoates trans women for causing various ills of civilization, a narrative that Peterson said is all too common.
“I was trying to reverse the narrative that trans women are symptoms or metaphors for various problems, that we are somehow outside the human or unlovable,” she told the NewsHour in an email. “Thinking of myself for the first time as an author of poems years ago helped me begin to take myself seriously not just as a poet, but as a woman. It helped me be unafraid to defy all those secondhand narratives and respect myself enough to show up for my own life. And the friendship of other trans women also helped me do that.”
AFTER BEFORE AND AFTER
I’ve been freed from
inside the Fall of Rome,
my contract disrupted.
not descend without
my bet against it rising,
a weather balloon
that hangs against a vast
usurped sky. A carrier
pigeon, to be,
carries me. And from here
I can find the edge
of the cunning, supposedly
clear window that
divides us from the world
of Michael Kors, that
divides a kiss from
A coda is a beginning.
After before and
after, humane enclosures
air whips through
with a taste for blood
oranges and secret
have been spread out
bed. What’s free
about a woman’s stubble,
delivering an urgent note
across a field of blue.
Trace Peterson is editor/publisher of EOAGH, co-editor of Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books, 2013) and author of Since I Moved In (Chax Press, 2007).
GWEN IFILL: New York magazine overnight published an arresting cover image that has brought renewed attention to the dozens of sexual allegations against Bill Cosby.
Of the 46 women who have now claimed rape or assault at the comedian’s hands, 35 agreed to be interviewed and photographed. A 36th chair is unoccupied, which sparked a social media firestorm about the assault victims who remain silent. It’s tagged #TheEmptyChair.
Here is one of the women who did speak to the magazine.
Joyce Emmons is a former comedy club manager who said she was assaulted by a friend of the comedian’s one night after she asked Cosby for headache medication.
JOYCE EMMONS: And I don’t remember anything after that, except waking up the next afternoon. I had no clothes on. And his friend was there next to me without clothes on.
And I said, “What’s — what’s happening?” because I was really out of it. And he said to me, “Did you enjoy yourself?” as if I knew what I was doing.
And I said, “You pig.” And, of course, I used some other words. I said, “Bill, what did you give me?” I know it was a little white pill. I remember that much.
And he said: “It’s called a quaalude. I bet you don’t have your headache now.”
And he laughed, as if it were a joke.
GWEN IFILL: Cosby has denied allegations of rape and assault. We contacted his spokesman again today, who declined to comment on the latest report.
Noreen Malone is a senior editor at New York magazine who interviewed and wrote many of the stories of the 35 women.
Thank you for joining us, Noreen Malone.
How long has this project been in the works?
NOREEN MALONE, New York Magazine: The project has been under way since December, actually, about six months.
Our photo director at the magazine had seen all the women coming forward one by one. And she had the vision to see that, if you put them all together in one picture, how powerful that would be.
GWEN IFILL: Did you have trouble having them to agree? Did anyone say no?
NOREEN MALONE: People did say no at first. One or two women signed on, and then it snowballed. We actually had people four sign on in just the last week.
I think, for many of these women, they had already decided to come forward. All of these women had already come forward. So they had already made the tough decision to go public. It was just a matter of sharing even more with the public.
GWEN IFILL: Well, not only was there — were there photographs taken, not only did some of them agree to these videos, but a lot of them met each other for the first time. What was that like? Did you get to spend some time at the photo shoot to see how they interacted with one another?
NOREEN MALONE: I did. I went by the photo shoot in New York.
And I think, for a lot of them, it was weirdly a joyous occasion. That seems like an odd word to use, but, you know, none of them had met each other in person before, and they were people who this was, you know, a formative thing in their lives, and these were the only people who could share this experience with them.
GWEN IFILL: Had these women been blaming themselves all this time? Is that the way that works?
NOREEN MALONE: They really had.
Many of these incidents happened in the ’60s and ’70s and even the ’80s, when date rape wasn’t the same thing. There was literally no word for that at that time. And so these women had this experience that they didn’t even — they couldn’t even make sense of themselves, much less tell people about it and have people listen.
GWEN IFILL: In fact, if look at the pictures, it’s kind of remarkable how many of them are of a certain age, in their 50s and 60s now. So they all went through this some time ago, allegedly.
Separate interviews, similar stories, however.
NOREEN MALONE: Yes. That was a really striking thing.
You know, we talked to all 35 women separately, and the same themes kept coming up. You know, many of the incidents that they described, the alleged incidents, are quite similar. They involve Cosby contacting an agent and saying, you know, can you put me in touch with someone? Many of these girls were so excited. They were models and actresses trying to make it and they heard that Bill Cosby had taken an interest.
And then drugging a drink is a real theme, unfortunately, throughout these incidents.
GWEN IFILL: I want to talk to you about the empty chair.
It’s the thing that your eye is drawn to after you look at these women lined up and facing the camera. What is the significance of it and — first, what’s the significance of it?
NOREEN MALONE: Well, I think it’s somewhat open to interpretation.
But as we were talking to many of these women, almost all of them said, oh, I know of someone else who — she’s not going to come forward, she’s not going to talk, but it happened to her, too.
And people on social media have really seized on the empty chair as a way of saying, OK, these 35 women are ready to talk about something that happened in their past, but not everyone who has been sexually assaulted or raped is ready for that. And so people were, you know, offering up reasons why women or men might not be ready to come forward and talk about it and hashtagging it #TheEmptyChair.
GWEN IFILL: In fact, one of the interesting things, I thought, in scrolling through some of the responses was, a lot of it had nothing to do with Bill Cosby at all.
NOREEN MALONE: Mm-hmm. It really took on a life of its own, which was great to see.
GWEN IFILL: Have you — we have not, but have you gotten any reaction from the Cosby camp on this latest report?
NOREEN MALONE: I have not. And we reached out before publication to several of his lawyers, and we have not heard back at all.
GWEN IFILL: So, did you anticipate any of this reaction? Did you anticipate that there might be legal pushback? How did you, I guess, vet all of these stories?
NOREEN MALONE: Well, it was quite a process.
The magazine has a fact-checking process, but, you know, we don’t — all of the stories are, we say, alleged in this. We check them out to the best of our ability, but, again, at the end of the day, it’s he said/she said. Cosby has not been convicted of any crimes. The statute of limitation is up for all of these incidents. So our focus was really more in letting these women tell their stories.
GWEN IFILL: In this case, it was he said, she said, she said, she said, and so on.
NOREEN MALONE: Right.
GWEN IFILL: Noreen Malone of New York magazine, thank you very much.
NOREEN MALONE: Thank you.
The post Women accusing Bill Cosby of assault speak out with similar stories appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Fiat Chrysler must offer to buy back hundreds of thousands of Ram pickup trucks and other vehicles as part of a settlement with the federal government. The automaker will also pay $105 million in penalties, the highest civil fine ever for an auto manufacturer, as part of the agreement.
The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, or NHTSA for short, found 23 allegations of misconduct with Fiat Chrysler, covering more than 11 million vehicles. The government said the company had failed to notify owners and it had delayed fixing vehicles, which included problems with steering and control.
Now, this comes just days after a video showed hackers taking over a Jeep, and Fiat ordered a voluntary recall of more than one million cars in order to prevent hacking.
Anthony Foxx is the secretary of transportation, and he joins me now.
Welcome again to the NewsHour.
ANTHONY FOXX, Secretary of Transportation: Thank you, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, explain more why this penalty is being levied. What is it that Fiat Chrysler failed to do?
ANTHONY FOXX: Well, in the course of doing recalls, the recalls were basically ineffective.
And so there were failures to notify dealers and consumers. There was failure to inform NHTSA of various aspects of the recall. And the recall was just executed poorly. And so these fines are calibrated not only to punish Fiat Chrysler, but also we have remedial steps in place to help improve their performance going forward.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s $105 million in penalties, we mentioned. It could have been much higher, though. I was reading today, if you had levied, what, $35 million on each of the 23 recalls, it could have been $700 million or $800 million.
ANTHONY FOXX: Look, this is a significant penalty. It’s the highest penalty NHTSA has ever put in place in its history.
And I think it’s a penalty that will be attention-grabbing not only to Fiat Chrysler, but also to the rest of the industry. Our goal is to see the industry be proactive with safety and to ensure that when consumers get behind the wheel, they’re able to move where they’re going safely.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How significant is it, Secretary Foxx, that Fiat Chrysler is being asked — or being ordered, in fact, to take cars and trucks back that they have sold? Is this designed to send a message to the rest of the auto industry?
ANTHONY FOXX: On that aspect of the recall, we have found that, in some cases, there is no effective remedy that Chrysler has been able to produce to solve the problem consumers have.
And so, in those cases, we’re having them buy those vehicles back and of course get the consumer in a better car.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But this is the first time something like that’s happened?
ANTHONY FOXX: Well, this…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Of this magnitude.
ANTHONY FOXX: Yes, this magnitude, perhaps. I haven’t gone back into the history books to look, but I know that it’s a rarely used authority, but it does exist within NHTSA.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How much of a safety risk is there right now with Fiat Chrysler? I mentioned the recall on Friday over the hacking. And then there was another recall on Saturday. How many of their vehicles are at risk?
ANTHONY FOXX: Well, I think there are sort of two separate issues.
The 23 recalls that we’re making the fines towards today, those recalls, we think, are going to be much more effective, given the remedial steps that are being put in place. As far as cyber-security is concerned, this is an ongoing concern that we have. We are working with industry to produce a roundtable with industry stakeholders, all of whom have skin in the game when it comes to cyber-security, so that we can share information across private sector holders, but also the government is at the table working with them to ensure that we’re as safe as possible.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, how should the — someone who is watching — there are so many car owners in this country, people who drive cars and trucks. How concerned should people be?
ANTHONY FOXX: Well, what you should know is that we are not only working with Fiat Chrysler to address the specific problem that emerged last week, but we’re also working to ensure that, across the industry, there is a much higher level of vigilance around these cyber-security issues. And there will be more to come on that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But just on the recalls overall, Secretary Foxx, the sense is that NHTSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety organization, is just taking a much tougher line against the auto industry than has been the case in the past. Is that what — how we should interpret this?
ANTHONY FOXX: We believe very firmly that, in this age of rapidly changing technology and automakers trying to get more and more products onto the marketplace, that safety can’t slip.
And so we are being very muscular, I would say, in terms of responding to this environment and making sure the industry gets the appropriate signals that, if they’re proactive, it’s going to be a better business decision to deal with these issues before something gets on the street or to issue recalls, and to do the right thing in the first place.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me finally ask you about something else that is part of your portfolio, and that is a bill before Congress to fund highways. How worried are you that, now that we approach a deadline, the fact is both houses of Congress are not able to come together in some sort of an agreement on this, and the fact that the gasoline tax in this country no longer seems to be something that Congress is willing to use to fund the highway?
ANTHONY FOXX: We have a structural problem with how we pay for our highways.
And, you know, on the good side of the ledger, it’s good to see both houses working towards what they believe are solutions to solve the problem, even over, you know, a multiyear period. But we have lots of innings left in the week. I’m hoping that they get to some resolution so that we don’t go over the highway cliff, because there are projects across country that would be potentially stopped and jobs that would be affected as well.
Frankly, the country needs a long-term highway bill. I have been saying that the entire time I have been here, and we will keep pressing, even if we go into extra innings beyond this week.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You think it could go beyond this week?
ANTHONY FOXX: Potentially. I’m hoping they find a resolution, but, you know, we have to see.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary Anthony Foxx, we thank you for joining us.
ANTHONY FOXX: Thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: an effort to make history more meaningful by bring the classroom to where it happened.
The NewsHour’s April Brown traveled to Normandy, France, to see a program that uses a personal approach to highlight the sacrifices made during World War II. The report is part of our American Graduate series, a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
APRIL BROWN: It has been more than 70-years since Broadway Valentine Sims, Eugene Mlot, and Francisco Blas died during the invasion of Normandy, the turning point in the allied campaign to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany in World War II.
But their sacrifice and that of 13 other servicemen is being remembered and honored in graveside eulogies at the American cemetery perched above Omaha Beach in Northern France.
STUDENT: Technician 5th Class Broadway Valentine Sims was born in 1916 in the remote town of Elizabethton, Tennessee.
STUDENT: Eugene G. Mlot was an orderly worker, shipping clerk and electrician with four years of high school under his belt when he joined the Army Air Force in 1942.
STUDENT: Francisco Blas embodied the characteristics of bravery, courage and unwavering loyalty as he faced segregation, uncertainty and even death itself.
APRIL BROWN: This is an important part of National History Day’s Normandy Institute.
VANESSA TAYLOR, Normandy Institute Scholar: I will never sacrifice of Henry and Louie made for their country and the sacrifice they made for me.
CATHY GORN, Executive Director, National History Day: The program started because of a concern that today’s young people don’t really understand what sacrifice is all about, sacrifice and freedom and how those two fit together.
APRIL BROWN: As executive director of National History Day, Cathy Gorn has led 15 student-teacher teams on a journey through history each summer over the past five years. By following in the footsteps of those who served and died during the Normandy campaign, they learn about D-Day and World War II.
CATHY GORN: We have asked them to look at someone from their own backyards, their own community, or at least their own state, and find out all they could about this individual who gave that ultimate sacrifice — many of these people were not much older than the kids that we bring here — and to honor them in way that gives them their history back.
APRIL BROWN: Before they even go to France, teachers and students selected for the institute spend months becoming historians. They contact living family members, collect pictures, love letters and official military documents, hoping to unlock any clues about their silent hero.
CATHY GORN: We know about the generals. We know about the really famous heroes, but the average guy that went out there and did what he had to do, they are just numbers. So these kids are getting to know them.
APRIL BROWN: There is a stop in Washington, D.C., to learn more about the war beyond what can be taken from a textbook. At the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, the teams work with some of the nation’s leading caretakers of World War II artifacts, hoping to uncover further details amid the Archives’ four billion documents.
NORWOOD THOMAS JR., World War II Veteran: We had several planes that crashed with all men on board.
APRIL BROWN: But the human costs of war can perhaps best be told by those who were there; 92-year-old Norwood Thomas Jr. fought as part of famed 101st Airborne Division. He was among the first Allied troops to land in Normandy, parachuting into a field under cover of darkness.
NORWOOD THOMAS JR.: On the drop zone that I landed on, we were supposed to have three battalions of infantry. This would be approximately 2,000 men. I landed at 1:21 in the morning. Daybreak, we moved off that drop zone, we were able to garner 95 men.
APRIL BROWN: When they get to France, it’s time to tell the stories of their servicemen, among them a pilot, a technician and two radiomen, twin brothers from Nebraska.
Vanessa Taylor from Ainsworth, Nebraska, learned Henry and Louie Pieper died together when their ship struck a mine in the English Channel.
VANESSA TAYLOR: Their parents had received a letter from the twins only two days before their deaths, stating: “Do not worry about us. We are together.”
SPENCER VALENTI, Normandy Institute Scholar: So he probably landed like right there.
APRIL BROWN: Spencer Valenti and his teacher, Thomas Leighty of Wilmington, Delaware, studied the life of medic William Verderamo, who saw action in North Africa and Sicily before the Battle of Normandy.
SPENCER VALENTI: A lot of his family members say that he was a really outgoing sort of person, that he’d always say — when he registered for the Army, that he would always say that he’s going out to save the world.
APRIL BROWN: Private Verderamo was killed on June 6, 1944 D-Day. Spencer uncovered a letter that was later sent by the Army Effects Bureau to soldier’s wife of six months, Mary.
MAN: “I regret to advise that included among your husband’s effects are some photos which are damaged, apparently by bloodstains. I shall appreciate it if you will indicate whether you desire these articles forwarded with his property.”
AUDREY CALOVICH, Normandy Institute Scholar: It makes it very real and vivid. And I do have a very vivid imagination. So, I’m able to put myself in stories. I’m able to imagine if this is where they ran up the beach, got shot down.
APRIL BROWN: At first, Audrey Calovich of Kansas City, Missouri, only knew Flight Officer Edmund Decker as a decorated pilot killed by German fire on June 8, 1944. She’d eventually find out much more.
AUDREY CALOVICH: Ed possessed a joy of mischief and adventure, an eye for trouble, and a lover of life. He was dashing and handsome. Flight Officer Decker was idealistic, cocky and brave. He was a fighter pilot, a good one.
APRIL BROWN: Many of the details Audrey discovered came from Decker’s family in Kansas city and an alumni group at his old high school. But she found few military documents that mentioned Decker, and that has given her a new empathy for historians.
AUDREY CALOVICH: Being on this trip, you understand how important it is to preserve those documents for future researchers like us.
APRIL BROWN: Audrey’s history teacher, Lisa Lauck, will use lessons learned on this trip to change how she teaches.
LISA LAUCK, History Teacher: Looking at it in the past, how I have taught it, you think about the troop movements and the overall big picture. And you know people died, but you don’t really, I don’t know, connect to it emotionally.
And that’s something I really want to change for my students. So, I hope that they can take away that these are people like you and I that had families, had loved ones.
APRIL BROWN: While there is much emphasis on the personal stories here, historian Antonin Dehays is conveying another important goal of the institute, that the past can be seen in many ways.
ANTONIN DEHAYS, Historian: Our job is to mention all the aspects of an event, the glorious ones, but the darkest ones as well.
APRIL BROWN: Among them, the horrors of the Holocaust and the almost six million Jews who died. But at a visit to a German cemetery, Nicole Cordes of Indianapolis became aware of how families in that country were affected as well.
NICOLE CORDES, Normandy Institute Scholar: Someone had come recently and put a laminated picture of a soldier, and they put flowers around it. And they were fresh flowers. So, I think he was 19 when he died.
APRIL BROWN: Back at the American cemetery, the students say a final goodbye to the men they have grown to know.
STUDENT: While Mack and I have never met, I feel that this experience has given me an opportunity to get to know a face beyond the statistics. A project that began as a way for me to share and teach history has now instead been a teacher to me.
STUDENT: Eventually, time and the elements will take back this plot, but it is a beautiful thought to think that he will stay here and that the earth will always remember him and his sacrifice.
APRIL BROWN: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m April Brown in Normandy, France.
GWEN IFILL: The students and teachers are building Web sites to share what they learned about their silent heroes. You can find a link to them on our home page, PBS.org/NewsHour.
The post Teachers and students retrace the lives of those who died at Normandy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
GWEN IFILL: But, first, the 2016 presidential contenders are on the attack, each jockeying to get the chance to secure a place on the stage for the first Republican debate in Cleveland in 10 days. The polls are getting tighter and their rhetoric is getting hotter, just in time for Politics Monday.
That’s with Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR.
Let’s start with Mike Huckabee, shall we? Mike Huckabee said — and we can take a look at what he had to say — that “The president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”
Obviously, that was a Holocaust reference. And before I ask you to weigh in on that, let’s hear what the president had to say in response when he was asked about it while traveling in Africa.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: When you get rhetoric like this, maybe it gets attention, and maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines. But it’s not the kind of leadership that is needed for America right now.
And I don’t think that’s what anybody, Democratic, Republican or independent, is looking for out of their political leaders.
GWEN IFILL: It should be said, Amy, that no one asked the president about Donald Trump, but he managed to bring it up. Democrats are kind of happy about that.
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: What a surprise.
GWEN IFILL: What is this politics of provocation we’re talking about now that we’re seeing?
AMY WALTER: I think the president is correct that it does have a lot to do with the fact that Donald Trump is now sucking up all the oxygen.
And, in fact, he is sucking up that place that so many of these other candidates thought they would be sitting in right now, which is the anti-establishment, angry-at-the-system candidate. There are plenty of people in that position or vying for that position, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee. They’re not getting the attention. Donald Trump is, and they are, as such, increasingly putting their rhetoric up and putting their antics up in order to try to dethrone him.
GWEN IFILL: So, there’s Donald Trump. There’s Lindsey Graham responding by beating up his cell phone or doing something. And there’s Governor Perry who said that maybe after — in the wake of a shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana, that maybe moviegoers should bring guns. Everybody seems to be trying to top each other.
TAMARA KEITH, NPR: It’s all about the debate.
There’s a debate coming up. They all want a place on that debate stage. Only the top 10 in national polls earn a place on that first debate stage. And how do you raise your profile? How do you get in the top 10? Well, some of them are running ads. Some of them are taking chain saws to the tax code or golf clubs to their cell phones.
They’re trying to get attention. They’re jumping up and down and saying, hi. Perhaps if you get a call from a pollster, you will support me, so that I can get on that debate stage, and it’s national polls, not the state polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, where more maybe people are paying attention.
GWEN IFILL: Well, we’re going to talk about those polls in a minute, but first I want to talk a little bit about what’s getting lost in some of this attack and counterattack, which is policy.
AMY WALTER: Hmm.
GWEN IFILL: What do we know — hmm. What do we know about Donald Trump and what he actually believes, Amy?
AMY WALTER: I don’t know what he actually believes in. I don’t know if he actually believes in anything.
And, honestly, he’s been all over the map, if you look at statements that he’s made in his political career, I guess, if we could call it that, where he has flirted with running for president before. Remember, he flirted with running as an independent. He’s talked about being a Democrat. He’s been a Republican.
GWEN IFILL: He’s been pro-life, pro-choice,
AMY WALTER: He’s been pro-life, pro-choice. He’s said Hillary Clinton is a very good person, he likes her very much. Now he’s saying she’s terrible, she would be a terrible president. He’s talked about a surtax on very, very wealthy people. Now he’s talking about how terrible the tax code is.
He has really been all over the map. Look, the reality is, there is no there there when it comes to Donald Trump. What he’s been brilliant at is exploiting the anger that’s been there and the frustration that’s been there on Republican voters. The Tea Party tapped into it. Tea Party candidates tapped into it.
But, as I said, there’s only this much vote there. Donald Trump is getting all of it. Nobody else is able to peel some of it away.
GWEN IFILL: Including Hillary Clinton, who in the last week has given major speeches on the economy and on climate change. Is it breaking through?
TAMARA KEITH: Not really. I think that Donald Trump is monopolizing the headlines. And I think, also, it’s summer and people aren’t necessarily ready for a lot of policy.
But what I think the Clinton campaign is doing here is, the way you get coverage, traditionally, is you have a horse race, and then people cover the horse race. Well, she doesn’t truly have a horse race right now. And so she is filling the horse race void by doing these policy rollouts.
But there hasn’t been a ton of detail in any of them and there hasn’t been a lot of meat yet. She keeps saying, well, that will come later in the summer.
GWEN IFILL: But there has been more of a horse race lately, at least the horse race to the debate stage, than we have seen before.
So, let’s look at the latest NBC News/Marist poll in New Hampshire and in Iowa. In New Hampshire, Donald Trump, for everything you say, is leading. He’s at 21 percent, followed by George W. — I’m sorry — Jeb Bush at 14 percent, Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, at 12, and John Kasich at 7 percent, rounding out the top four.
That’s kind of a big turnaround.
AMY WALTER: Yes, absolutely. Nobody would have said three months ago that Donald Trump would be topping the polls.
But if you said to me, will there be an anti-establishment Tea Party candidate up in the top three in New Hampshire? Of course. Right now, that happens to be Donald Trump. The person I think who is benefiting the most, by the way, is Jeb Bush, because if you notice in this poll and if we see the Iowa poll, he’s in the top three in all of these. Again, it’s consolidating an anti-Bush vote, anti-establishment vote to one person.
It’s everybody else that is desperate now for attention, including the one person who doesn’t show up in there very much, and that’s Marco Rubio.
GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about the Democrats, because even though Hillary Clinton is still well ahead in these polls, Bernie Sanders is kind of creeping up. She is at 47 percent in New Hampshire. Bernie Sanders is following at 34 percent. But that’s up 13 points since February.
TAMARA KEITH: I think what has happened is that Bernie Sanders has truly consolidated the anti-Hillary vote.
Martin O’Malley is scrapping, scraping and trying to get a little bit of it. Lincoln Chafee would love a little bit of it. Jim Webb would love a little bit of it. But really Bernie Sanders came in and he just — he became the alternative to Hillary. He’s the thing that’s there for all of those people who just — who say things like, I don’t want another Clinton or another Bush.
GWEN IFILL: Let’s go to Iowa briefly, where the numbers are actually not so different, except, in this case, in Iowa, Donald Trump is coming in second. We have Scott Walker, the Midwestern governor, up top. Why is that different?
AMY WALTER: Again, I think you’re still seeing the same three things here, where you have Bush somewhere here as the establishment candidate.
You have Donald Trump, who, by the way, if you look at his overall approval ratings in that poll, I think he has actually peaked. His approval — disapproval ratings among Republicans are in the high 40s, and in New Hampshire in the mid to high 50s.
So I don’t know if he can get much higher than where he is. The question is, if there are still 15 people, serious candidates in the race as we go into those primaries, will 21 percent be enough to actually win one of these?
GWEN IFILL: And Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are one and two in Iowa as well.
But I want to talk about the favorable/unfavorables, because when you talk about Donald Trump leading, he’s still incredibly unpopular as well in the public at large.
TAMARA KEITH: Yes, that is a problem that he has. He has huge name I.D. and people have strong opinions about them and many of them are not big fans.
Or many of the people say that they don’t expect that he would ultimately go on to be the Republican nominee, which is not a great sign for the staying power of his candidacy. Now, I will also just say, this time in 2011, Michele Bachmann was riding high.
GWEN IFILL: President Bachmann, yes.
TAMARA KEITH: Yes. And Herman Cain was then riding high. There was like an escalator to a cliff. And that could well be happening this time, sort of the alternative to the establishment candidate.
GWEN IFILL: I will remind you of that after we get to the debates and Donald Trump is still there.
AMY WALTER: That’s right.
GWEN IFILL: Tamara Keith, Amy Walter, thank you both very much.
TAMARA KEITH: Thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Tomorrow, in Addis Ababa, Mr. Obama will be the first American president to address the African Union.
Joining me now to discuss the visit and President Obama’s record on Africa is career diplomat and former Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs under President Obama Johnnie Carson. He’s now a senior adviser at the U.S. Institute of Peace. And William Gumede, he’s an author and professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.
And we welcome you both.
WILLIAM GUMEDE, University of the Witwatersrand: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Professor — welcome.
Professor Gumede, let me begin with you. How do you think this trip has gone, and how much difference do you think it’s going to make?
WILLIAM GUMEDE: Unfortunately, almost — this trip is almost coming too late, at the tail end of the Obama presidency.
And you must understand what has been happening the last couple of years in Africa. We had — China has become a really big factor in Africa’s growth and influence in Africa. So, Obama coming to Africa, he has made the right democratic noises, but he’s almost a little bit too late.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Ambassador Carson, what about that? Is the president coming too late?
JOHNNIE CARSON, Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs: Absolutely not.
I think that, in fact, it’s turning out to be a very substantive and positive trip, with President Obama focusing on expanding trade and commercial opportunities with Africa, with these two countries and the United States, and strengthening the security partnership that the United States has had with both Kenya and Ethiopia.
The president is also getting a chance to talk about some of the new initiatives that he has been responsible for, Power Africa, to substantially increase the amount of electrical power reaching African cities and communities, Feed the Future, which is designed to promote a green revolution across Africa, to help end starvation and famine at the village level and to expand agro-industries at the upper level, and particularly a focus on youth, the next generation.
So this is an important trip, and it’s his fourth trip to the continent and may not in fact be his last.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Professor Gumede, these are some specifics you heard Ambassador Carson listing here that have to do with the economy, that have to do with working with young people.
WILLIAM GUMEDE: Just to repeat what has been happening over the last couple of years, we have seen the longest growth spurt in Africa, you know, I mean, since independence and since the Second World War.
And if you look at how the dynamics of this growth, the dynamics of this growth has been driven really, you know, by newly emerging markets buying Africa’s products, getting engaged in Africa, whether it’s China, Brazil, or India. That is the nature of — there’s been a big game-changing couple of moments the last couple of years in Africa.
And the U.S., you know, has almost lagged behind and is really going to have to work much harder, you know, to catch up with what has happened on the continent. If you just think about it, at the moment, civil society on the continent, where the new African leadership should be coming from, you know, have struggled the last couple of years, because, you know, the foreign funding that they used to get in the past has declined after the global financial crisis.
And many of the civil societies, the democracies in Africa have struggled and had hoped that the U.S. would have played a much bigger, much stronger role in providing them with capacity, yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask — put that question to Ambassador Carson.
Why — to listen with to what the professor is saying, it sounds as if the U.S. has dropped the ball, China has been active there, other countries, that there has been an opportunity to engage, and the U.S. hasn’t taken advantage of it.
JOHNNIE CARSON: The United States has been deeply engaged in Africa, not only as a development assistance partner, but increasingly as a trading partner as well.
The United States remains one of the largest single bilateral contributors to development assistance in Africa. And the United States remains one of Africa’s largest trading partners. I think that President Obama, over the last several years, has gone out of his way to encourage American businessmen and investors to increasingly look at Africa as the last global economic frontier.
You may recall, Judy, that, in 2014, President Obama held the first U.S.-Africa Summit.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
JOHNNIE CARSON: And the first day of that summit was devoted all to economic, commercial and investment interests.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Professor Gumede, it almost sounds like you’re talking about two different situations, with your description that the U.S. has been absent, and Ambassador Carson saying the U.S. has been very engaged. How do you account for that?
WILLIAM GUMEDE: Well, the U.S. has been engaged with Africa, but, you know, it’s been engaged almost in the wrong way. It’s been engaged sort of in the old way — let’s call it your old pre-financial crisis ways, whereas Africa has moved and, you know, and the world, unfortunately, has moved, and for developing countries have moved, and Africa has also moved.
So, for me, the U.S. is really catching up and needs to do quite a lot to catch up. But just in terms of looking into the future, I think, you know, if Obama, if this trip, if out of this trip could be a focus on African civil society, because that’s where the future leadership are coming — will be coming from. That’s where the future democrats are going to come from, if they can be supported and given the capacity, which has not happened the last couple of years.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we hear you.
And, Ambassador Carson, I do want to give you a chance just quickly to comment on the president’s remarks in his public speeches in Africa about human rights, about sexual orientation, the lack of respect for that. Are these the kinds of statements that are going to have resonance on the continent?
JOHNNIE CARSON: Absolutely, because I think that democracy, strengthening democratic institutions and promoting good governance are at the basis of having a well — good, well-organized society.
I think that a society that protects the rights of individuals also protects the intellectual property of those individuals. A society that protects civil liberties also protects corporate liberties. And I think a society that is open and inclusive is a society that generates both good ideas and greater productivity from both men and women.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Professor William Gumede, we thank you both.
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama continued his visit to Africa today, making a personal push for peace and calls for democracy.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” greeted the first American president to visit Africa’s second most-populous country. But after the pomp, the president spoke of urgent business, not in Ethiopia, but in its neighbor to the West, South Sudan. Since the U.S. helped midwife the founding of the world’s newest nation in 2011, civil war has left tens of thousands dead and displaced two million more.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Our hope is that we can actually bring about the kind of peace that the people of South Sudan so desperately need.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The president and African leaders discussed options, including sanctions, if a peace deal is not reached by August 17. Mr. Obama urged inclusion, and respect for human rights, in a news conference with Ethiopia’s prime minister.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I believe that, when all voices are being heard, when people know that they are included in the political process, that makes a country stronger and more successful and more innovative.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That message was also central to the president’s visit to Kenya over the weekend.
It was a highly anticipated visit to his father’s homeland and Mr. Obama’s first in nearly three decades. Kenyans lined the streets to welcome the president, whom they see as one of their own. But security precautions prevented him from greeting many of the residents, so thrilled to see the Kenyan-American president, as he referred to himself, or visit his father’s village.
He did, however, attend a private dinner with members of his family, including his grandmother and half-sister. And he cut a rug at a state dinner held in his honor, joining in on a traditional dance.
Aside from the celebrations, the president also pushed his human rights message. Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, emphasized the threats of terrorism facing his country, and promised to work toward equal rights for all.
PRESIDENT UHURU KENYATTA, Kenya: We agreed together that we can build a future in which our people of all faiths, cultures live peacefully together.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But the country has a checkered record when it comes to human rights. In 2010, Kenyatta himself was named a suspect in crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.
President Obama spoke about corruption, ethnic divisions, and human rights, urging Kenyans to — quote — “choose the path to progress.” And he had stern words for the treatment of people based on sexual orientation, even as Kenyatta dismissed gay rights as a nonissue for Kenyans.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: So, I’m unequivocal on this. The idea that they are going to be treated differently or abused because of who they love is wrong, full stop.
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GWEN IFILL: Turkey and the U.S. are working on plans to sweep Islamic State fighters from a strip of land across the Turkish border with Syria. This comes as Istanbul steps up its air campaign against the extremist group and its crackdown on Kurdish insurgents.
Special correspondent Jane Ferguson reports from Southern Turkey, where many are holding their breaths.
JANE FERGUSON: American fighter jets will soon be launched closer to the Islamic State group than ever before. From this Turkish base at Incirlik, they will pound the extremist group just across the border in Syria.
A new deal between the U.S. and Turkey will allow Americans to launch airstrikes from Turkish soil and increase Turkey’s role in the fight. This is a major turnaround for Turkey, which has been criticized for not doing enough to tackle ISIS. Now deadly attacks by the group along the border have pushed the Turkish government to act.
At this outpost, 100 yards from ISIS, a Turkish soldier was shot dead by the group last week. Elbeyli village is the nearest Turkish village. People here are terrified that ISIS is simply too close. Some told us they want more soldiers to keep them safe.
“We are so nervous,” local resident Mehmet Orman says. “We want to see a normal life again here. We cannot sleep.”
An hour down the road, the group’s power is alarmingly apparent. In areas like this along the Turkish border, ISIS are so close to Turkey that you can see their flags flying. Just behind me on that wall, there is an ISIS flag, just feet away. Now, what the Turkish government want to do is to push ISIS back from these areas to create some sort of safe zone or buffer.
STEVEN COOK, Council on Foreign Relations: It’s clear that Turkey believes that, once you establish a safe zone, people will go back to it.
JANE FERGUSON: Steven Cook is a Middle East scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations.
STEVEN COOK: It will become a place from which moderate Syrian forces will then expand in its march against the Islamic State, as well as the Assad regime. But, of course, one can imagine a whole host of scenarios that pull Turkish forces, as well as potentially American forces further into the Syria fight.
JANE FERGUSON: The Islamic State has also hit the Kurdish people in Eastern Turkey. Ethnic Kurdish communities straddle the border between Turkey and Syria. Kurdish rebel fighters inside Syria have been battling ISIS for months.
Last week, a suicide bomber killed 32 young activists in the Kurdish town of Suruc near the border inside Turkey. The attack shocked the nation and increased calls for action against ISIS. The young people killed here were planning to bring toys for children across the border a few miles to Kobani, where Kurdish forces had routed ISIS earlier this year.
The five-month-long battle for Kobani was a significant victory for the Kurdish forces. It showed their growing strength inside Syria. The Turkish government watched with concern those gains in Kurdish territory, fearful their own Kurdish population may push harder for independence. Now this new deal with the American military opens the door for Turkey to fight not only ISIS, but the Kurds.
And it’s already happening. Turkish jets bombed both ISIS in Syria and Kurdish forces of the Turkish insurgent force called the PKK, based in Iraq, as soon as the deal was announced. A two-year-old cease-fire with those Kurdish rebels in Turkey is now believed to be over. People back in Suruc say Turkey is only starting another war inside its own territory.
In the name of operations against ISIS, they’re attacking Kurds,” this man tells me. “We don’t accept this. I’m sure we don’t want war. Why don’t we want war? Look at Egypt, Kobani, Lebanon, Iraq. You can see what happened there.”
Although American jets have been helping the Kurds win territory from ISIS in Syria, U.S. officials now say they support Turkey’s strikes against Kurdish targets.
Turkey’s involvement in the war against ISIS could prove a crucial turning point in U.S.-led coalition efforts to destroy the group. Opening a new fighting front against Kurds in the region simultaneously will change the delicate balance of alliances in an already complex war.
GWEN IFILL: I spoke to Jane Ferguson a short time ago.
Jane, we’re talking now about an ISIL/ISIS-free zone right along the border now. Why is it that Turkey is interested in this now?
JANE FERGUSON: Well, Turkey is under increasing pressure. The Turkish president is under pressure from his own population to do something about ISIS and not to be seen as being soft on terror.
Violence in the past week has shocked Turkey. But what’s complicated issues for the Turkish government is the fact that there are so many Kurdish rebels on their border with Syria, on the Syrian side of the border. Those rebels have been making massive gains against ISIS and taking territory away from ISIS whenever they have victories, which they have had in the recent months.
That complicates things for Turkey because the Turkish government are dealing with a large Kurdish minority in their country who, for decades, have been pushing for independence. And they, of course, don’t want to see any bolstering of Kurdish calls for independence right on their border and in their territory.
GWEN IFILL:Is there also — you mentioned the word complication more than once. There are a lot of complications here. And another of them is Syria itself, the degree to which anything involved in this collaboration could help the pro-Assad forces in Syria.
JANE FERGUSON: This, of course, does complicate things, because it will of course be fighting ISIS and not necessarily fighting Assad, and that is something that the Turkish government have been criticizing the coalition for.
They really wanted airstrikes against Assad. They wanted a no-fly zone imposed. So for them, they had been holding out for that. But at the minute, it’s likely that this is really just going — the details of this deal will be revealed tomorrow, probably most likely at that NATO meeting.
So we won’t know the details just yet. But the plan, as far as officials are telling journalists, would be to create this buffer zone to allow certain rebel groups, not Kurdish rebel groups, and certain rebel groups that are being described as moderate, to take over that specific area. That would give them room to resupply. It would give them room to maneuver, room to basically operate in the area around Aleppo, not in Aleppo city.
GWEN IFILL: But we don’t know how far this buffer zone you’re talking about would actually extend.
JANE FERGUSON: That’s not clear yet how far in it would go. It’s unlikely that it would go of course all the way to Aleppo city. That would be an enormous military target.
But if it could just move in far enough to be able to push ISIS away from the border, so that they no longer can touch the Turkish border, that would be significant in itself militarily because that would affect their link to the outside world, essentially.
GWEN IFILL: Jane Ferguson reporting for us tonight in Turkey, thank you.
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GWEN IFILL: The death toll from Sunday’s Al-Shabaab suicide bombing in Somalia’s capital rose today to 15. The facade of the five-story hotel in Mogadishu was sheared off when a car packed with explosives rammed into its front gate.
In neighboring Ethiopia today, President Obama said the Islamic militant’s attack underscored the need to push back against violent extremism.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA,: Yesterday’s bombing in Mogadishu reminds us that terrorist groups like Al-Shabaab offer nothing but death and destruction and have to be stopped. We have got more work to do.
GWEN IFILL: The blast killed a Kenyan diplomat, a Chinese embassy guard and two journalists, among others.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Airstrikes resumed in Yemen today, shortly after a midnight humanitarian cease-fire went into effect. The Saudi-led coalition pounded Houthi targets near the rebel-held military base of al-Anad and north of the port city of Aden. Fifteen coalition troops were also accidentally killed in two strikes in the province of Lahj. The five-day truce was designed to get much-needed humanitarian aid to civilians in the hardest-hit areas.
GWEN IFILL: With no way to make a looming loan repayment, Puerto Rico has come up with a plan to raise up to $500 million through oil revenue. That’s only a fraction of the $3 billion it had hoped to raise to refinance its debt. The governor’s chief of staff told reporters today the commonwealth can’t raise enough from its public finance corporation bonds before an August 1 deadline.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. Olympic Committee killed Boston’s bid to host the Summer Games in 2024 after the city raised financial questions. Earlier today, Boston’s mayor express worry the multibillion-dollar event would put taxpayers at risk. Marty Walsh said he didn’t want the city’s residents to have to foot the bill if local Olympic organizers ran out of money.
MARTY WALSH (D), Mayor of Boston, Massachusetts: I refuse to mortgage the future of the city away. I refuse to put Boston on the hook for overruns. And I refuse to commit to signing a guarantee that uses taxpayers’ dollars to pay for the Olympics.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There are only seven weeks left to officially nominate another city. The U.S. hasn’t hosted a Summer Olympics since the 1996 games in Atlanta.
In economic news, China’s Shanghai stock index plummeted 8.5 percent today. Most of that sharp decline was in the last hour of trading. It was its largest one-day loss since 2007, in spite of the Chinese government’s recent efforts to stabilize the market. Analysts attributed the sell-off to weaker-than-expected economic data, including a drop in Chinese factory activity and industrial profits.
GWEN IFILL: Fears of a slowdown in China’s economy pushed stocks lower on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 128 points to close at 17440. The Nasdaq fell more than 48 points, and the S&P 500 lost 12 points.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of R&B singers Bobbi Brown and the late Whitney Houston, has died. She passed away Sunday at a hospice in Duluth, Georgia, six months after she was found unresponsive in a bathtub. She was 22 years old.
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