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- 08/02/15--11:20: _Biden expected to m...
- 08/02/15--13:01: _Israeli teen stabbe...
- 08/02/15--13:27: _Political battles s...
- 08/02/15--13:49: _To stem addiction, ...
- 08/02/15--13:50: _5 things to know ab...
- 08/03/15--05:00: _What do monkeys and...
- 08/03/15--07:36: _WATCH LIVE: Obama t...
- 08/03/15--09:01: _How slam ‘breaks th...
- 08/03/15--09:05: _Texas’ attorney gen...
- 08/03/15--09:24: _Gulf Arab states we...
- 08/03/15--12:49: _Chuck Schumer gets ...
- 08/03/15--13:03: _Photos: Northern Ca...
- 08/03/15--13:50: _Times have changed ...
- 08/03/15--14:03: _When it comes to So...
- 08/03/15--15:20: _Sudanese military b...
- 08/03/15--15:20: _Centuries-old bonsa...
- 08/03/15--15:25: _Are Mideast allies ...
- 08/03/15--15:30: _Kerry visits Persia...
- 08/03/15--15:35: _How much does the f...
- 08/03/15--15:40: _California battles ...
- 08/02/15--11:20: Biden expected to make decision on White House run by September
- 08/02/15--13:01: Israeli teen stabbed at Gay Pride parade dies
- 08/02/15--13:27: Political battles simmer ahead of Obama’s strict climate change plan
- 08/02/15--13:50: 5 things to know about the Planned Parenthood fight in Congress
- 08/03/15--09:01: How slam ‘breaks the silence’ for marginalized voices
- 08/03/15--09:05: Texas’ attorney general charged with securities fraud
- 08/03/15--09:24: Gulf Arab states welcome Iran nuke deal but seek further assurance
- 08/03/15--13:03: Photos: Northern California wild fire rages, burning 60,000 acres
- 08/03/15--15:20: Sudanese military bombings don’t spare civilians, aid workers
- 08/03/15--15:30: Kerry visits Persian Gulf to sell allies on Iran deal
- 08/03/15--15:35: How much does the first GOP presidential debate matter?
- 08/03/15--15:40: California battles unprecedented wildfire, fueled by drought
WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden’s associates have resumed discussions about a 2016 presidential run after largely shelving such deliberations while his son was sick and dying earlier this year. But Biden has yet to tell his staff whether he will run or personally ask them to do any planning for a potential campaign, according to several people close to the vice president.
Recent conversations between Biden’s associates and Democratic donors and operatives have led to speculation that Biden will challenge front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton for the party’s nomination, and individuals close to Biden have started looking into the options that might be available to him if he were to run, such as potential staff in Iowa and the filing deadlines for entering the Democratic field.
But the people close to the vice president say his launching a White House run remains uncertain. Biden is expected to make a final decision as soon as early September, according to those familiar with his plans.
The people close to Biden spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the deliberations publicly.
The renewed focus on Biden comes amid some signs of weakness for Clinton, including declines in her favorability ratings among voters in recent polling. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is challenging Clinton for the Democratic nomination, has been attracting large crowds with his liberal economic message, evidence of a hunger within the party for an alternative to Clinton’s candidacy.
Biden’s entry could reshape the dynamics of the Democratic primary, giving the party another option that might appeal to a wide swath of voters. Yet Clinton remains enormously popular among Democrats. She has amassed a large staff of seasoned operatives and raised nearly $50 million for her campaign.
“I’ve known Joe Biden for many years and I’m very fond of Joe,” Sanders said on Sunday in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” “But I think the American people…want to go beyond conventional establishment politics.”
There are few signs, meanwhile, that Biden is taking solid steps toward launching a campaign. He has had little interaction with a “draft Biden” group pushing him to run, and has yet to look for office space in early voting states or raise money for a potential bid.
Kendra Barkoff, the vice president’s press secretary, said Biden was spending his time working on President Barack Obama’s agenda, not on planning his own potential presidential campaign.
“As the Biden family continues to go through this difficult time, the vice president is focused on his family and immersed in his work,” Barkoff said.
Biden’s son, Beau, died of brain cancer in May. The younger Biden’s death prompted an outpouring of support for the vice president, who also lost a daughter and his first wife in a car accident in 1972.
Since Beau Biden’s death, his father has surrounded himself with longtime confidants and former aides for comfort and emotional support. But these allies also were involved with Biden’s two previous presidential campaigns. Former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman, who has advised Biden for most of his political career, and Mike Donilon, a friend and longtime political aide, have both been given offices in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building steps from the vice president’s West Wing office.
In recent weeks, a bevy of longtime donors, supporters and former staffers have reached out to the vice president and his staff to offer their condolences, as well as to say they’d be on board if he chooses to run.
The intense speculation around a potential Biden run grew even louder this past week when Fox News reported that Biden chief of staff Steve Ricchetti had met for breakfast with Louis Susman, a prominent Democratic donor and former U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom. But individuals familiar with the meeting said Susman and Ricchetti are longtime friends and that Susman initiated the meeting.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd also reported Saturday that Beau Biden had, before his death, urged his father to run.
Biden, who is 72, would be the oldest president ever elected to a first term if he ran for the White House and won. He would bring to the race 36 years of experience in the Senate as well as a breadth of foreign and domestic policy experience from his years as vice president and two previous presidential campaigns. He’s been a key negotiator for Obama during fiscal fights on Capitol Hill and also the point person for administration policy in Ukraine and Iraq.
However, Biden’s freewheeling, undisciplined style has caused headaches for the White House and has long been a concern for Democrats as he’s weighed the prospect of running in 2016.
Lederman reported from New York. Associated Press writer Lisa Lerer contributed to this report.
The post Biden expected to make decision on White House run by September appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
An Israeli teen who was stabbed by an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man at this week’s Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem died of her wounds Sunday.
Shira Banki, a 16-year-old high school student, was one of six people wounded in the attack Thursday. Banki went to the parade to show solidarity with her LGBT friends, according to the Israeli news service Haaretz.
In a statement Sunday, Banki’s family said:
Our magical Shira was murdered because she was a happy 16-year-old – full of life and love – who came to express her support for her friends’ rights to live as they choose. For no good reason and because of evil, stupidity and negligence, the life of our beautiful flower was cut short.
The assailant, Yishai Schlissel, was arrested at the scene. Police in Jerusalem have faced criticism for not keeping tabs on Schlissel, who was released from prison just weeks ago after serving time for a similar stabbing attack at Jerusalem’s pride parade in 2005, in which he wounded three people.
In a recent interview with an ultra-Orthodox radio service, Schlissel said of the upcoming parade: “To protest is an obligation in my opinion, but it is not enough,” adding that the goal must be “to disperse them, even by force,” according to The New York Times.
Schlissel was deemed sane and fit to stand trial for his latest rampage Friday, Haaretz reported.
In a statement expressing condolences to Banki’s family, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the slain teen and condemned the attack.
“Shira was murdered because she courageously supported the principle according to which everyone is entitled to live their lives in dignity and safety,” the statement said. “We will not allow the abhorrent murderer to undermine the fundamental values upon which Israeli society is based. We strongly condemn the attempt to instill hatred and violence in our midst and we will deal with the murderer to the fullest extent of the law.”
On Saturday, thousands of Israelis turned out to protest the knife attack and a West Bank arson attack that killed a baby boy Friday morning.
At one rally in Jerusalem, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told demonstrators that “the flames are spreading in our land, flames of violence, flames of hatred, flames of false, distorted and twisted beliefs. Flames which permit the shedding of blood, in the name of the Torah, in the name of the law, in the name of morality, in the name of a love for the land of Israel.
According to Haaretz, two of those wounded in Thursday’s attack were still hospitalized and in serious condition Sunday, though medical officials said they were improving.
HARI SREENIVASAN: President Obama is proposing the toughest regulations in U.S. history to combat climate change.
In a video previewing tomorrow’s announcement, the president says climate change is not an opinion, but a fact and a threat. He calls power plants the biggest domestic source of polluting emissions that contribute to global warming. The most significant rule would require existing power plants to cut emissions from 2005 levels by 32 percent by 2030.
Other rules would limit construction of new coal-burning plants and require more use of clean energy sources like wind and solar.
BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury and sulfur and arsenic in our air and water, and we’re better off for it.
But existing power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of harmful carbon pollution into the air we breathe. For the sake of our kids, for the health and safety of all Americans, that’s about to change.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Every state would be required to give the Environmental Protection Agency its plan for curbing emissions. But the rules face opposition from congressional Republicans and lawsuits from the energy industry and coal power states.
To discuss Obama’s climate change plan, I’m joined by New York Times reporter Gardiner Harris, who is covering the story in Washington, D.C.
So, states have targets under this plan, but they can set their own sort of way to get to those targets, right?
GARDINER HARRIS, The New York Times: That’s right.
And they can sort of take two different paths, you can do sort of a cap-and-trade pathway, which is actually the favored pathway by the Obama administration, in which states sort of get together in a regional way, try hit their targets, and if one state gets a lot more in terms of carbon reduction, it can then sell that carbon reduction to a neighboring state that didn’t quite hit its target.
The other way to do it is that the states could simply regulate their way to the cut and require reductions on a sort of a plant-by-plant basis. And, Hari, this is obviously going to lead to a huge political battle.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Right. And the opposition is already lined up. We — certainly, there are coal states, like, say, a West Virginia, that are going to push back.
So, how long could this take?
GARDINER HARRIS: So, I lived in Hazard, Kentucky for many, many years, which is obviously one of the important coal-producing areas in the country. And this is going to be very hard for those places.
And it’s likely going to lead to the shutdown of much of the coal-producing capacity in the United States, at least in the Appalachian region. But you’re right. It’s going to take some years for all of this to go into effect. States have to come up with their plans in about a year, with the goal for these reductions to really begin biting in 2022.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The opposition says this is going to raise prices for utility consumers, energy consumers. The White House says it will lower prices. How do we figure this out?
GARDINER HARRIS: What this rule will do is accelerate changes that are already going on in the market.
I mean, the coal-powered power plant is going away already, because coal is actually fairly expensive compared to, right now, natural gas, which is almost free because of the abundance of gas in fracking. There are some places that are clearly — this is going to be more expensive some places out West, some places in Appalachia that depend heavily right now on coal-fired power plants.
They are going to have to make some — some fairly wrenching transitions.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Gardiner Harris of The New York Times joining us from Washington today, thanks so much.
GARDINER HARRIS: Happy to be here, Hari.
The post Political battles simmer ahead of Obama’s strict climate change plan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Major pharmaceutical companies are reportedly recruiting thousands of recreational drug users to test a new generation of medicines that deter addiction. The impact of the new meds could be significant.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration calls prescription drug addiction a national epidemic and estimates that more than two million Americans abuse opioids. Officials say roughly 45 people die of overdoses every day.
Financial Times reporter David Crow reported this story, and joins me now to explain exactly how these drug tests are being conducted.
So, it shocks people to say, wait a minute, they are recruiting drug users. How do the trials work?
DAVID CROW, The Financial Times: So, basically, they recruit these drug users, they find them through various forms of marketing, normally word of mouth.
You have to have been a recreational drug user, but you cannot be addicted or dependent. You then come onto these trials. They last anywhere between sort of three days and 30 days. And you basically are asked to abuse the old opioid, the sort of originator product that is fundamentally very easy to abuse, the new abuse-deterrent product, and then a placebo. You’re not told what they are.
And then you’re asked to score them in a drug-liking scale. And for the pharmaceutical companies developing these new medicines, you want to get a lower score, nearer the placebo than the original product.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, you said — you spoke to folks that were asked to take 21 pills in five minutes in one of the tests?
DAVID CROW: One of the people I spoke to took 21 pills in five minutes. That’s correct.
The clinic I spoke to afterwards, they said, well, the vast majority of those were placebos.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But he wouldn’t have known that.
DAVID CROW: He wouldn’t have known that. And even taking 21 pills of anything in five minutes is quite difficult.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what sort of companies are doing this? How big of a market is this?
DAVID CROW: It is a huge market. I mean, probably the best-known name that is trying to develop these abuse-deterrent opioids is Pfizer.
But there is an Israeli company called Teva which is very big in this. And then there are some privately held companies. Purdue Pharma is one of the biggest purveyors of oxycodone in this country, and they’re developing one also.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, this is in efforts of finding a drug that somebody could take for pain, but would be less addicted to if they tried to overdose on it?
DAVID CROW: It’s about stopping them from tampering with the pill to make the experience of abusing it more enjoyable.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, that’s to snort it or grind it up or…
DAVID CROW: Snort it, grind it up, dissolve it, and put it into the syringe and inject it.
And so these pills have things like very hard coatings. They have a gumming agent that makes them harder to dissolve. But they don’t solve the problem of abusing these pills orally. You can still take more of them than you might otherwise be meant to.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, is there the possibility that someone who doesn’t know they’re getting these opioids could actually come out worse after one of these trials?
Let’s say they had to take 21 pills, and it was the opioid, and they are kind of abusing a bad drug.
DAVID CROW: Well, these people are already abusers. They have to have experienced using the drug previously. There is a test to make sure that they’re not addicted.
So, they go through this washout period. If their bodies show signs of withdrawal, they are not allowed onto the trial.
But there are some addiction experts who think that this is not a foolproof system and that the line between abuse and addiction can often be very blurred. And so some of these people might not be addicted today, but you don’t know that they are not going to become addicted further down the line.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, David Crow of The Financial Times, thanks so much.
DAVID CROW: Thanks for having me.
The post To stem addiction, recreational drug users tapped for clinical abuse trials appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Republicans will likely lose Monday’s Senate showdown over halting federal aid to Planned Parenthood. Yet the political offensive by abortion foes has just started, prompted by a batch of unsettling videos that has focused attention on the group’s little-noticed practice of providing fetal tissue to researchers.
Conservatives have long targeted Planned Parenthood, which provides health services, family planning and abortions in clinics across the country.
The furtively recorded videos, with hair-raising close-ups of aborted fetal organs and Planned Parenthood officials dispassionately describing how “I’m not going to crush that part,” have forced the group and its Democratic champions into a defensive crouch.
Five things to know:
Citing statements in the videos by Planned Parenthood officials, opponents including the Center for Medical Progress, which recorded the videos, accuse the group of profiting from selling fetal organs. That would violate a federal criminal statute that lets providers recover only their expenses. They also say Planned Parenthood is altering abortion procedures to better recover usable tissue.
Conservatives view the videos as a huge political opportunity to galvanize support for banning abortions and, some hope, prohibiting fetal tissue research. But the issue is cutting both ways, with both sides using it for fundraising solicitations.
Planned Parenthood has apologized for comments in the video but says it has broken no laws. It accuses opponents of using selectively edited videos for their latest assault on abortion and women’s health choices.
The group also says it is among many organizations assisting fetal tissue research, a decades-old field scientists use to study Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
WHAT PLANNED PARENTHOOD DOES
There are roughly 1 million U.S. abortions yearly. In its most recent annual report, Planned Parenthood said it performed 328,000 of them.
Planned Parenthood and its supporters have sought to shift the focus, saying abortions represent just 3 percent of the 10.9 million services the organization provides annually in nearly 700 clinics.
The group says its yearly workload includes 4.5 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases; 3.6 million contraception procedures and devices; 1.1 million pregnancy tests and 900,000 cancer tests and treatments.
Of Planned Parenthood’s 2.7 million annual clients, mostly women, it says 4 in 5 earn 150 percent of the federal poverty level or less. Democrats say an attack on Planned Parenthood is an effort to keep women, many of them poor, from needed health services.
THE SENATE BILL
Monday’s vote is on barring federal aid to Planned Parenthood and shifting the money to other health care providers.
That’s big money for Planned Parenthood. It says of $1.3 billion in revenue last year, $528 million came from taxpayers, including state funds that help finance Medicaid.
Planned Parenthood defenders say cutting federal aid wouldn’t affect the abortions it provides because federal money cannot be used for abortions except for cases of rape, incest or when a woman’s life is in peril. Opponents say squeezing money from Planned Parenthood makes it choose between spending its remaining funds on abortions or other services.
Republicans say if Congress denied federal aid to Planned Parenthood, other providers could cover the group’s displaced clients. They say the nearly 9,100 federally funded community health centers, more than 10 times the number of Planned Parenthood locations, could pick up the slack.
Planned Parenthood disagrees, saying their sites serve disproportionate numbers of low-income women and are often where no other alternatives exist.
A TRICKY ISSUE
Abortion’s battle lines are clear for some politicians but dicey for many.
The GOP has bumbled the issue recently, including Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin’s 2012 comment on “legitimate rape” that probably sealed his defeat. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, is sponsor of the Senate bill, a female face Republicans hope will blunt repeated Democratic accusations that the GOP is waging war on women.
Many Democrats have distanced themselves from the video’s remarks. Many are choosing their words like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who says of Republicans, “They’re attacking women’s health.”
Underscoring the sensitivity, some moderates will likely cross party lines Monday. Sens. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, are among several saying little about how they will vote.
THE NEXT FIGHT
Some Republicans say they won’t vote for spending bills keeping the government open starting Oct. 1 with any Planned Parenthood funds.
Many conservatives are itching for that fight. “Show me a Democrat who’ll force a shutdown over selling baby parts,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., who says dozens of GOP lawmakers will join him in opposing bills with Planned Parenthood money.
But GOP leaders are reluctant to force a shutdown fight that could haunt them in the 2016 elections, as are some presidential candidates.
Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican seeking the GOP nomination, said: “I support any legislation that will defund Planned Parenthood. But I don’t think you start out with your objective to shut down government.”
Paul, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” added, “I mean, if President Obama wants to shut down government because he doesn’t get funds for Planned Parenthood, that would be President Obama’s determination to shut down government.”
Democrats are likely to block such bills in the Senate and President Barack Obama is nearly certain to veto any reaching him. So some Republicans want to see whether congressional investigations of Planned Parenthood produce evidence that forces Democrats to concede.
“The more Americans learn about Planned Parenthood’s horrific practices, the easier it will be for Congress to defund them,” said Emily Schillinger, spokeswoman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
The post 5 things to know about the Planned Parenthood fight in Congress appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Editor’s Note: Our economic values have evolved over time. If you could return to medieval times, it might seem natural to have a hierarchy of kings, lords, knights and serfs. If you were a part of a small nomadic group, you would rely on the person next to you as much as they relied on you. Out of necessity then, equality would be the norm.
Ian Morris, the Willard Professor of classics at Stanford University, examines how human values have evolved in his book, “Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels.” Below, Morris explains how our sense of fairness and economic justice have progressed to where they are today.
— Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor
“Never work with children or animals,” the saying goes, but fortunately Sarah Brosnan didn’t listen. Plenty of researchers had trained primates to earn snacks by performing simple tasks; but what would happen, Brosnan asked, if she paid some subjects better than others?
She soon found out. Her subjects, Capuchin monkeys in the Yerkes National Primate Center, quickly learned that when Brosnan gave them a pebble, they could get a slice of cucumber by returning the stone. To a few monkeys, though, she gave a better reward: a tasty grape. Seeing their undeserving colleagues earning higher wages for the same work, many monkeys sulked and refused to eat. Others flew into rages, hurling their cucumber back at the biologist. It’s just not fair, they seemed to be saying.
The experiment implied that monkeys have an innate sense of economic justice. Encouraged, Brosnan extended her research to chimpanzees and human children. Her work seemed to show that all primates value fairness of some kind.
Values, most biologists and psychologists conclude, are evolved adaptations — genetic predispositions to think in ways that increase an animal’s chances of passing its genes on. Every species, including us, has evolved its own distinctive values, shared by all members.
But here the problems begin. Human values have evolved biologically across millions of years, and everyone in our species believes in fairness, justice, love and loyalty; and yet we disagree wildly over what these words mean. If you were an anthropologist studying the Hadza people in Tanzania, for instance, you would discover that your hosts think it right and proper that women and men should be equally free to pursue sexual partners. If you moved just 100 miles to live with the Nyamwezi people, you would find that your new hosts consider such behavior anything but right and proper. How can there be such variety in human values if they are biologically evolved? Are the anthropologists wrong? Or the primatologists?
MORE FROM MAKING SEN$E
The answer is neither; but we can only solve this paradox by backing away from the details and looking at the whole of history across the last 20,000 years. When we do this, the kaleidoscope of values observed by anthropologists simplifies into just three patterns, driven by a single fundamental force.
We might call the first of these systems foraging values, because it is associated with societies that support themselves by hunting wild animals and gathering wild plants. From the time modern humans evolved (50,000-150,000 years ago) until about 10,000 BC, everyone on earth lived this way, and a few people still do. Foraging captured very little energy from the environment (typically, 5,000-10,000 kilocalories per person per day), so foragers were extremely poor (getting by on the equivalent of about $1.10 a day), lived in small groups (less than a dozen people), and moved around a lot. It was hard to maintain much political, economic or gender inequality in these conditions. In a famous story, when the anthropologist Richard Lee asked a Kalahari hunter about chiefs he was told “we’re all headmen … Each one of us is headman over himself!” In such settings, people who interpreted fairness as meaning that they should treat everyone the same tended to do better than people who did not.
The second moral system, which I call farming values, because it is associated with societies based on domesticated plants and animals, could not be more different. Agriculture, which was invented around 10,000 BC, provided much more energy than foraging (typically, 10,000-30,000 kilocalories per person per day). As a result, farmers were richer (usually living on the equivalent of $1.50-2.20 a day), lived in larger groups (cities up to a million people), and moved around rather little. For farmers, political, economic and gender inequality were not just possible but necessary, because only hierarchy could hold together the complex division of labor that agriculture required. Virtually every farming society had slaves or serfs and made women into second-class citizens — not because farmers were bullies, but because without forced labor, farming could not function. In these settings, people who interpreted fairness as meaning that everyone was different and should be treated differently — kings better than peasants, men better than women — tended to do better than people who did not.
The third moral system is once again wildly different. I call this fossil-fuel values, because it is found in societies that augment the energy of living plants and animals with that from fossilized plants, by burning coal and oil to power machines. Tapping into fossil fuels unleashes staggering amounts of energy (typically, 50,000-200,000 kilocalories per person per day). This kind of economy was invented in Britain just 200 years ago and then spread around the world. Fossil-fuel users are much richer than farmers (global average income is $25 a day), live in huge societies (Tokyo has 35 more million residents) and have extremely complex divisions of labor — so complex, in fact, that they cannot work well under the kind of top-down hierarchy than dominated the farming world. The more that fossil-fuel societies have moved toward letting people make their own decisions, through free markets, democracy, and free speech, the more they have flourished. Today, people who interpret justice and fairness as meaning that we should treat everyone the same tend once again to do better than people who do not.
There is, of course, a lot more to be said, and I say some of it in my new book “Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels.” But if this argument holds water, two big conclusions seem to follow.
First, human values are evolutionary adaptations, hardwired into us by biology; but what we take those values to mean depends on how we capture energy from the world around us. Fairness, justice, love, and loyalty mean different things to foragers, farmers, and fossil-fuel users.
Second, if energy capture really does drive values, there is no reason to think that the values of anyone reading this column are the final, perfect form of morality. Energy capture seems likely to change faster in the 21st century than ever before, and so will human values.
People are already merging with their technology and through their technology with each other in ways that would have seemed like magic just 100 years ago. Perhaps a solar-powered, networked world of brain-to-brain interfacing and virtual reality will be even more egalitarian than our own fossil-fuel democracies, and inequality of any kind will be unthinkable.
Or then again, perhaps some people will merge with their technology faster than others, turning into technologically enhanced, immortal posthumans who are as far removed from old-fashioned humans like ourselves as we are from Neanderthals. In a world like that, hierarchy might seem even more natural than it did to Tutankhamen.
We are standing at the threshold of the greatest transformation in what it means to be human since humanity itself evolved. Human values have come a long way from the simple sense of fairness that Sarah Brosnan found among the Capuchin monkeys, but we ain’t seen nothing yet.
The post What do monkeys and humans have in common? An innate sense of economic justice appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
President Barack Obama is expected to unveil his plan to limit greenhouse gas today from the White House. He is scheduled to speak at 2:15 p.m. EDT. Watch that in the player above.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is mandating even steeper greenhouse gas cuts from U.S. power plants than previously expected, while granting states more time and broader options to comply.
The tweaks to Obama’s unprecedented emissions limits on power plants, to be unveiled at the White House on Monday, aim to address a bevy of concerns raised by both environmentalist and the energy industry in more than 4 million public comments received by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Opponents plan to sue to stop the rule, and on Monday, the National Mining Association wrote the EPA a letter requesting that the agency put the rule on hold while the legal challenges play out. If the EPA refuses, industry groups plan to ask the courts to take that step instead.
Some of the changes Obama is making in the final version of the plan go even further in cutting the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming. Other changes delay implementation and eliminate certain options that states could use to show they’re cutting emissions, making it harder to comply.
All states are eagerly awaiting word of changes to the individual emissions reduction targets that Washington is assigning each state. Some states will be given a more lenient target than they were assigned under the proposed version, while others will have tougher targets to meet. The Obama administration has yet to disclose those state-specific targets.
A look at potential winners and losers in Obama’s final plan:
To the delight of environmental groups, Obama tightened the emissions requirements in his final plan. That means power plants will have to attain an even lower level of carbon dioxide pollution to be in compliance. Obama’s proposal from last year set the target as a 30 percent nationwide cut by 2030, compared to the levels in 2005. His revamped plan calls for a 32 percent cut in the same time period.
Left unchanged is Obama’s overall goal for U.S. emissions cuts from all sources of pollution, including cars and trucks. As the U.S. commitment to a major global climate treaty that Obama is championing, the U.S. committed to cutting its emissions 26 percent to 28 percent by 2030, compared to 2005.
Many of the complaints directed at Obama’s plan over the last year centered on the amount of time states would have to figure out how to meet their targets. Plans for how states will comply are technically due next year, but there’s no penalty to asking for a two-year extension, so most states are expected to delay. Under the earlier plan, the rock-bottom deadline was 2017, but that’s being pushed back to 2018.
And while states previously had until 2020 to achieve their targets, they’ll now have an extra two years — until 2022.
Obama’s revised plan relies more heavily on renewable energy sources like wind and solar replacing dirtier coal-fired power plants. Obama now wants the U.S. to get 28 percent of its power from renewables by 2030, compared to 22 percent in his earlier proposal.
In a new element, the administration now intends to offer pollution credits to states that drive up renewable energy generation in 2020 and 2021 ahead of the compliance deadline. States that invest early in wind and solar can store away those credits to offset pollution emitted after the compliance period starts in 2022.
You power bill
Although the administration predicts the plan will actually lower the average U.S. energy bill by almost $85 in 2030, companies that produce and distribute electricity aren’t buying it. The savings come from increased use of wind, power and hydro plants, which operate at a cost of close to zero after they’re installed. But acquiring and constructing renewable power sources is still very costly, making it less cost effective in many circumstances.
The National Association of Manufacturers, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the National Mining Association, the American Energy Alliance and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association all predicted the rule would drive electricity bills up.
The earlier version of Obama’s plan sought to accelerate the ongoing shift from coal-fired power to natural gas, which emits far less carbon dioxide. But the final rule aims to keep the share of natural gas in the nation’s power mix the same as it is now.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said government estimates show renewable energy has ticked upward even since the rule was proposed last year, but that natural gas remained an important part of the U.S. energy mix.
Under the revamped plan, state energy efficiency efforts are no longer factored into the individualized reduction targets being assigned to each state. In other words, what states are already doing to reduce energy demand won’t be included in their baseline the way that other measures, like replacing coal plants with cleaner sources, will be. That means some states could face more stringent targets despite their efforts in the past to cut down on electricity use.
But states will still be able to get credit for energy efficiency programs when it comes to meeting their targets in 2022. The revised power plant rule also offers polluting credits to states that deploy energy efficiency programs in poorer communities.
The post WATCH LIVE: Obama to unveil plan for emissions limits on power plants appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
For Janae Johnson, a Boston-based spoken word poet who won the Women of the World Poetry Slam this spring, poetry is a bold act of breaking the silence.
Johnson’s identity as a black queer woman, and the act of speaking out in a world that has often silenced marginalized voices, form a focal point for her work, she said. “In poetry, you’re allowed to share the things that are not necessarily talked about,” she said.
Johnson began performing at slam venues like the Lizard Lounge and Cantab Lounge in Cambridge and other local venues several years ago. She said the support of other spoken word poets helped her work through her first few performances. “It’s a very vulnerable thing to perform on stage,” she said.
But spoken word performances form a special, often supportive connection between the audience and poet, and hearing reactions from the audience is important to her, she said. “When a black butch woman comes up to me and says something about my poetry, I really take that to heart. There’s not a whole lot of us,” she said.
Johnson normally performs poetry from her own perspective, but the piece “Black Girl Magic,” which you can watch above, is written from the perspective of a black stage mother. The poem is based off of a comedic skit from the television show “In Living Color” in which a young girl is rejected from audition after audition for her lack of talent.
The skit made Johnson think about “what it means to be a black mother and really encourage your child that it’s going to get better and to affirm their greatness even when they’re failing, and when people are doubting their talent,” she said.
Read the text of “Black Girl Magic” below.
Black Girl Magic
I brought Lil’ Magic to the fourth movie audition today in a yolk colored church dress I got from my sisters step-niece.
It didn’t fit Lil Magic until about a year ago.
Still hangs too loose on her hips.
But all I could think about is how these white movie producers be lovin’ them some church-going black folk.
And maybe, if we’re lucky, they’ll picture a congregation behind her.
So I went to the salvation army and found a bow that matched the dress just right.
And it wasn’t ’til I was greasin’ her head that she asked me if she was gonna be beautiful today.
I told her we gonna have pork chops tonight.
And I’ma leave all the fat on the edges just for you.
And we gonna buy something that sparkles and tingles in our bellies.
That’s how much we gon’ be celebratin’.
I answered my daughter’s question with “yes.”
Everyday is a “yes.”
Those other white girls in the waiting room were all pale and blue eye make-up.
And they’d look at my Magic as if they just spat her out in a lukewarm water fountain.
And I’d wonder if they be askin’ they’re mamas if they’re beautiful every morning
or if they already stepped into this world knowing the answer to their own questions.
I could wash my hair for hours and I’d still feel dirty.
Once, I tried to melt crayons into my skin to be the type of black that is more familiar.
I do not tell Magic what it means to be a black womyn.
Or, how we are all waiting on someone to tell us “yes.”
I just tell her that we are going to audition for every movie she believes can benefit from her shine.
So when they tell Magic “no.”
For the fourth time.
I tell her that she can eat all the pork chops she wants but she bests not cry over no white man tongue.
There are better things to die over.
Do not let them reduce you to hair barrettes and broken combs.
Just show them your cheekbones baby girl.
Tell them “thank you for the opportunity.”
Let the fat seep down your lip and smile like you fixed this full moon yourself.
I’m sure she know mama be lyin’ sometime.
That mama can only afford these type of pork chops twice a month.
And mama will listen to her own stomach growl to make room for her to grieve properly.
I do not tell her to be a black womyn is to grieve properly.
That these movies, just be the best way to show ‘em you ain’t dead yet.
They ain’t never seen nobody like you Magic.
Ain’t seen no nocturnal sunrise ’til you entered the room.
They just scared
of all that bright
complimenting all that black.
You come from a long line of healthy hips and glass jaws but I swear they ain’t never gonna see you in pieces.
We don’t break that easily.
Finish your pork chops Baby Girl.
‘Cause one day you’re gonna stop asking me.
One day, you’re gonna know why I named you Magic.
One day, you’re gonna look in the mirror as if it were the first time you ever seen yourself.
And you gonna see all that black.
You gonna see all that womyn.
You gonna see all that shine.
And the only thing you gon’ hear is
Janae Johnson is the winner of the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam. She is a co-founder of House Slam, a venue that hosts performances twice a month at the Haley House Bakery Café in Boston’s Dudley Square. Video produced by Mason Granger at SlamFind.
The post How slam ‘breaks the silence’ for marginalized voices appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
McKINNEY, Texas — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton turned himself in Monday to face charges that he misled investors and didn’t disclose money he made for referring financial clients as part of his private business before becoming the state’s top lawyer in January.
Paxton, a 52-year-old Republican, was fingerprinted and photographed at the Collin County jail while a throng of media waited outside. It was a frenzy reminiscent of one year ago when then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who was also still in office — was booked after being indicted on charges of abusing his power with a 2013 veto.
Neither Paxton nor his attorney commented on the matter after news of the indictment leaked over the weekend. Other top Texas Republicans have also remained silent, including Gov. Greg Abbott, who last held the attorney general job, and Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican presidential candidate and the state’s one-time solicitor general.
Just as Perry was allowed to finish his term after his indictment, Paxton can stay on the job while his criminal case proceeds.
The booking documents released Monday by the jail in Paxton’s hometown of McKinney, a Republican stronghold near Dallas, show that he faces with two counts of first-degree securities fraud and a lesser charge of failing to register with state securities regulators. Each of the fraud counts carries a punishment of five to 99 years in prison.
Questions about Paxton’s financial dealings shadowed the tea party conservative throughout his first seven months on the job. His aides have denied any wrongdoing by Paxton and described the criminal investigation led by two special prosecutors as a political smear campaign.
Among the allegations is that Paxton encouraged investment in Servergy Inc., a tech startup under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Associated Press last month reported the connections between the company and Paxton, who listed himself as a shareholder and whose name is among search terms that Servergy attorneys used to satisfy a federal subpoena.
In the middle of last year’s heated Republican primary, Paxton admitted to violating state securities law by not disclosing to regulators that he was receiving commissions for referring law clients to a financial planner. He paid a $1,000 fine and chalked it up as an administrative oversight.
Paxton joins other current or recent state attorneys general facing criminal charges.
A Pennsylvania grand jury in January recommended that state Attorney General Kathleen Kane face charges over allegations of engaging in a cover-up and lying about her role in a grand jury leak to a newspaper. Kane, a Democrat who took office in 2013, has not been charged and has denied breaking any laws. Utah’s previous two attorneys generals were also arrested last summer on charges of running pay-to-play schemes during their combined 13 years in office.
The post Texas’ attorney general charged with securities fraud appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
DOHA, Qatar — Gulf Arab states on Monday welcomed the nuclear deal negotiated between Iran and world powers but said they would like further assurances that the U.S. would help them counter increasing Iranian assertiveness in the region.
Speaking for the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, Qatar’s top diplomat said Monday that the bloc had been impressed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s presentation of the agreement and explanations of how it will be verified and enforced.
“Consequently, the GCC countries have welcomed on this basis what has been displayed and what has been talked about by His Excellency Mr. Kerry,” said Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiya, whose nation currently chairs the group.
“He let us know that there is a going to be live oversight over Iran,” al Attiya said of Kerry’s presentation. “This is reassuring to the region.”
He added that the Gulf Arabs ultimately would like to see a ban on nuclear weapons in the entire Middle East — a pointed jab at Israel which is widely believed to have the bomb — and that the Iran deal could be the first step in a process to bring one about.
At the same time, he said GCC members remained concerned about Iran’s possible designs in the region.
Kerry had come to Doha seeking to ease such fears and said the United States would continue to expand security cooperation with the Gulf states to counter any destabilizing activities from Iran or others.
“Once fully implemented, the (Iran deal) contributes to the region’s long-term security, including by preventing Iran from developing a military nuclear capability,” Kerry said, reading from a joint U.S.-GCC statement to be issued later.
He said that the nuclear deal might or might not have an effect on Iran’s behavior but that the U.S. and its allies must plan for the eventuality that it would not.
“Every state in the region hopes that there could be a change but we have to prepare for the possibility and eventuality that it won’t,” he said.
Among the steps under discussion are developing a ballistic missile defense capability, expediting arms transfers, special forces training, maritime and cyber security programs and a significant boost in intelligence sharing, Kerry said. Working groups on those issues will begin meeting next week in Saudi Arabia, he added.
All of those are part of a package of programs that he said would build “stronger and more enduring strategic partnership with particular focus on counterterrorism and countering the destabilizing activities taking place in the region,” he said.
Kerry’s main goal, however, is to follow up on a May meeting that President Barack Obama hosted for Arab leaders at Camp David. At that meeting, Obama promised Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates enhanced security cooperation and expedited defense sales to guard against a potential Iranian threat.
“Today we made progress on what we laid out at Camp David but clearly there is more work to do,” Kerry said.
Just last week, the State Department authorized the sale to Saudi Arabia of $5.4 billion in Patriot missiles and related equipment along with $500 million in ammunition. Saudi Arabia is the largest and most influential member of the council and has been publicly supportive of the Iran deal, albeit with reservations.
Kerry’s visit to Qatar follows one last week by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who also stopped in Kuwait and Iraq to present Tehran’s side of the nuclear deal.
In a column published Monday in Lebanon’s Arabic daily As-Safir, Zarif called on Arab countries to work with Tehran for the good of the region. He said the Vienna agreement “does not hurt our neighbors but is rather a gain for all our region by putting an end to needless tensions that lasted 12 years.”
“Permanent security cannot be achieved by endangering the security of others,” he wrote, proposing setting up a regional gathering for dialogue whose aim would be to respect each country’s sovereignty and independence.
In Doha on Monday, Kerry was also meeting separately with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir to discuss Syria. The three-way meeting is unusual, particularly as Russia has been a prime backer of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Saudi Arabia and the United States have been calling for his removal.
Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.
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Comedian and actress Amy Schumer is teaming up with her cousin, New York Sen. Charles Schumer, for a new public initiative tackling gun violence.
The two Schumers held a news conference in New York Monday and unveiled a proposal drafted by the senator.
“Unless something is done and done soon, dangerous people will continue to get their hands on guns. We know what can happen when they do.” said Amy Schumer.
The news conference comes in wake of the shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana, last month where two women were killed and at least nine other people were injured at a screening of Amy Schumer’s new movie “Trainwreck.”
Amy Schumer called for unanimous support on the three-part proposal, saying they were “common sense solutions.”
“The critics scoff and say there is no way to stop crazy people from doing crazy things but they are wrong, there is a way to stop them,” said Amy Schumer.
The three-part plan will create monetary rewards for states that submit all necessary records into the background check system and penalize states that do not, according to the Associated Press. The plan also calls on Congress to preserve mental health funding and substance abuse programs.
“These are my first public comments on the issue of gun violence, but I can promise you, they will not be my last,” said Amy Schumer.
The actress hinted at her involvement in gun control over the weekend, after Sara Clements, whose mother survived the Sandy Hook shooting, wrote an open letter to Schumer calling for the actress to take action. Amy Schumer responded to Clements via Twitter saying “Don’t worry I’m on it. You’ll see.”
The post Chuck Schumer gets his famous cousin Amy Schumer to help him push gun control plan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
A massive wild fire that started last Wednesday in Northern California grew quickly to 60,000 acres Monday, according to California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) website. So far, it’s only 12 percent contained.
The so-called Rocky Fire has destroyed at least 24 homes in Lake, Yolo and Colusa counties northwest of Sacramento, shutting major roads and forcing at least 12,000 residents around the area to evacuate their homes. The CAL FIRE site said at least 2,900 firefighters have been working to stop the fire in the rough terrain.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. But with California’s ongoing drought in its fourth year, the grass and trees are extremely dry with low humidity and no rain. Most of California’s blazes were sparked by lightening, or “dry thunderstorms,” which are lightening and wind with little to no rain.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on Saturday in the wake of the wild fires in California, saying the drought and lowest winter snowpack have “turned much of the state into a tinderbox.” In April, the state ordered mandatory water restrictions due to the unyielding climate.
The post Photos: Northern California wild fire rages, burning 60,000 acres appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The thermostat battle claims many victims in the modern office. Weapons include the “office sweater” in the summertime and the desk fan in the winter. Women disproportionately suffer.
A new study published on Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change sheds some light on this gender divide.
Current guidelines used to set most building temperature assume all employees are 150-pound, 40-year-old males. Or at least have that body composition. And the corresponding temperature wastes energy.
The current model for office A/C was established in the 1960s by the American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. It accounts for many variables, such as the current room temperature, airflow, humidity, clothing, and the metabolic rate for an average male. This model changes depending on the workplace. For example, less air conditioning is needed for employees doing light office jobs than for those conducting physical labor, such as factory workers on an assembly line.
The researchers created a new room temperature model that, in addition to the factors above, considers body composition. The model predicted that women are more comfortable at higher room temperatures. This is consistent with what women report, said Boris Kingma, a biologist at Maastricht University in the Netherlands and lead author on the study.
“The metabolic rate for women is 30 to 40 percent lower than for men,” Kingma said. This is because women tend to have more fat and less muscle compared to men.
Metabolic rate is based on the amount of energy or calories your body needs to maintain itself. This energy supports simple tasks, like breathing, along with more demanding endeavors, like running a marathon. Muscle cells demand more energy than fat cells. People with a higher muscle-to-fat ratio have a higher metabolic rate, or burn calories faster. This explains why some athletes can devour pounds of food without becoming chubby.
We also lose muscle mass as we get older, which contributes to lower metabolic rate in old age.
Kingma’s group believes that it is a waste of energy to keep the office at a comfortable climate for the average 1960s man. Today’s workforce includes more women and elderly.
But if we change the guideline to better meet the needs of others, will the men that were comfortable before overheat in the new office climate? The simple answer is no.
Imagine this scenario: It’s the summertime and your office is pumped with cool air to maintain a 70-degree-Fahrenheit temperature. Let’s say the building is using 100 units of energy to keep cool. Freezing employees turn on personal heaters, using an additional 20 units of energy, to counteract the cool air. In total, the building is using 120 units of energy.
Kingma suggests that the target building temperature should be raised to reduce energy use. In this scenario, your building is now using only 80 units of energy plus the natural heat seeping in from the summer sun to maintain at a slightly warmer temperature. Hot employees could use “ventilated chairs” or fans, which could use an additional 20 units of energy. In sum, this building is using 100 units of energy to keep all occupants comfortable. This is assuming that the amount of energy used by a fan and a heater is similar. Because you’ve lowered the amount of energy used to cool the whole building, employees can still use personal electronics and not exceed the amount of energy used in the building in the first scenario, Kingma said.
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Boston University economist Larry Kotlikoff has spent every week, for over two years, answering questions about what is likely your largest financial asset—your Social Security benefits. His Social Security original 34 “secrets,” his additional secrets, his Social Security “mistakes” and his Social Security gotchas have prompted so many of you to write in that we feature “Ask Larry” every Monday. Find a complete list of his columns here. And keep sending us your Social Security questions.
Kotlikoff’s state-of-the-art retirement software is available here, for free, in its “basic” version. His new book, “Get What’s Yours—the Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security Benefits,” (co-authored with Paul Solman and Making Sen$e Medicare columnist Phil Moeller) was published in February by Simon & Schuster.
Watch Larry explain how Paul and his wife could collect an extra $50,000 in Social Security benefits:
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Andrea – Lihue, Hawaii: My husband is 66. I am 58. We are employed as teachers. My husband is healthy and still has energy for this job. We have a ton of credit card debt, plus loans for two children going through college and a loan for my master’s degree. The credit cards were used for travel for our children to and from college and for us to visit aging parents. We live far away from family, and our children went to college out of state. Not the best decision now with the debt, but when you live in Hawaii and all the family is on the mainland, our kids didn’t even consider in-state universities.
Here is my question: Should my husband take Social Security benefits at his full-retirement age and use it to pay down credit card debt? Should he wait until age 70 with $25,000 credit card debt and try to continue with monthly payments? Do we have any options with student loans?
Larry Kotlikoff: You have a complex situation, and only expert life-cycle financial planning software can assist you. Social Security provides a tremendous return to patience. If you have some other means of paying down the debt or if it doesn’t carry a huge interest rate, your husband should wait until 70. This will maximize his retirement benefit and also your widows benefit were he, God forbid, to pass away.
Enid – Seattle, Wash.: I have been receiving Social Security disability benefits since 1995. I am now 63 years old. I know that when I turn 66 my Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) will automatically roll over to regular Social Security retirement benefits at the same rate. Here is my question: Since I’m eligible for early retirement, can I make the switch from SSDI to regular Social Security without a penalty? If the rollover is at the same rate at age 66, it seems like the same would hold true earlier.
Larry Kotlikoff: Your disability benefit will just change names and be called your retirement benefit when you reach full retirement age. It won’t be changed. You can, however, choose at full retirement to suspend your retirement benefit and restart it at 70 when it will be 32 percent larger after inflation.
You could apply for and choose to receive reduced retirement benefits at age 63, even if you are still entitled to disability. However, your benefits would be about 20 percent lower until you reached full retirement age, at which point you would return to the full rate. If you switched to retirement benefits at age 63 without also being entitled to disability benefits, the 20 percent reduction would be permanent. The only reasons for a person on disability to apply for reduced retirement benefits is if their disability benefits are being offset due to receipt of workers compensation or public disability benefits, or if they have eligible children who would receive higher benefits under the more generous family maximum benefit formula that applies to retirement accounts.
Anonymous – Euharlee, Ga.: My husband is 60 and works as a professor at a state university. His plan is to retire from full-time work when he turns 66, draw his pension and only work part time for perhaps four more years. He wouldn’t need Social Security until he turns 70. He will have at least 31 years in full-time work (as he moved here from the Netherlands). I am 64, and my work has been sporadic and at a lower income. Social Security projects only about $300 per month for me. Should I apply for spousal benefit at 66 and just forget about my own Social Security? We both come from families with longevity into the 80s and 90s. I plan on living to be at least 100.
Larry Kotlikoff: You can’t collect your spousal benefit — which sounds like it will exceed your own retirement benefit — until your husband files for his retirement benefit. If you can take it when you are 66, your spousal benefit will be at its highest possible value. That would require your husband to file for his own retirement benefit at 62.
For a comprehensive understanding, let me first discuss a case that doesn’t directly apply to you. Say that your husband stops working at 62 and files for his retirement benefit at 62. If he does so, he’ll suffer a permanently reduced retirement benefit.
He can mitigate this reduction, however, when he reaches full retirement age by suspending his retirement benefit and restarting it at 70. Will this Start-Stop-Start strategy maximize your combined lifetime benefits? The answer depends, in part, on his maximum age of life. If you were in this circumstance, only very smart commercial software could tell you whether or not your husband should use this Start-Stop-Start strategy.
But you aren’t in this situation, because, as you say, your husband will keep working until 66. In this case, if he files at 62, he’ll likely lose — until he reaches full retirement age — all his own retirement benefits as well as all the spousal benefits he can provide you through Social Security’s earnings test. In this case, I believe the best option is for you to take your own retirement benefit immediately. At 70, you’ll start collecting your spousal benefit provided your husband files for his retirement benefit at 66. If he does so, he can also immediately suspend it and wait until 70 to collect his own retirement benefit. This will maximize his own retirement benefit as well as your widow’s benefit were he to pass away.
Mary – Atlantic Beach, Fla.: I am currently 65 and will be 66 in December 2015. I retired from my job on June 30, 2015. I want to delay taking my Social Security benefit until age 70 based on all the “education” I have tried to get about when to take benefits. My biggest fear is not dying, but outliving my funds. My husband is deceased. We were married for 38 years. He was collecting disability for about three years before he died at age 60, ten years ago. I was told at the time that I was not eligible for widow’s benefits, because I was under age 60, had no minor children and made too much money at my job. As a result, I never filed for any benefits.
I just finished reading your book, “Get What’s Yours” and am now confused as what to do. My original plan was to apply for widow’s benefit based off my deceased husband’s earnings and delay taking my benefits until I reach age 70. In your book it speaks of deeming, not collecting two benefits at the same time, forever reducing benefits by filing incorrectly or too soon and filing and suspending. What am I supposed to do? I am told by Social Security that my widow’s benefit will be about $1,900 a month, which I could take now, and my personal benefit at age 70 will be about $3200 a month. (Although, I’m not so confident that I could take my widow benefit now based on my earnings.) So my question is, do I apply for my widow benefit this year and do nothing about my benefit? Should I apply for my benefit at 70? I’m very confused and don’t want to make a move until I am crystal clear. Each time I call the Social Security office, I get a different answer, and although they are very nice folks, they often seem as confused and unsure as I am. Not very reassuring. Thanks so much for taking the time to write your book and try to make us all stop and think. There seems to be so much information for married people on different strategies, but not a lot of options for widows.
Larry Kotlikoff: I’m very sorry for your loss.
I appreciate your reading our book. It seems like you got to the right answer, but want it confirmed. You should take your widows benefit and just your widow’s benefit now and your own retirement benefit at 70. There is no deeming in the case of widows benefits. So you won’t be forced to take your retirement benefit as well. File an application that is restricted to getting just your widows benefit. Now depending on how much you do earn this year, you may lose all of this year’s benefits due to the earnings test.
Social Security’s monthly earnings test will permit you to be paid benefits right away, regardless of how much you earned in the first half of the year. Be sure to file your application for widow’s before the end of this month, since there is no retroactivity allowed for reduced benefits.
Janie – Andersonville, Tenn.: My sister in law’s husband passed away and left her an insurance policy. She is on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicare due to being on dialysis. If she cashes in the life insurance policy can SSI take it from her? Her late husband was also taking Veterans Affairs benefits. Would she lose Social Security widow benefits, if she receives widow benefits from Veterans Affairs?
Larry Kotlikoff: Yes, she will likely lose her SSI as a result of having too many assets once she collects her life insurance funds. Actually, even if she doesn’t cash in the policy, if she honestly reports all her assets, she’ll need to report this one as well even though it’s a life insurance policy. You sister in law will not lose her Social Security widows benefit due to collecting a widow benefit from the Veterans Affairs.
Pamela – Seattle, Wash.: I am a widow and want to retire at age 60. I am 59. I am currently working, but my husband made more money than I over our life time so I thought I would collect his at age 60 along with my retirement with the school district. If it’s not enough, I will have to work longer with the school district. But in order to plan ahead, I need to know how much my husband’s amount would be, but they won’t reveal this amount to me until I turn 60. What is the reasoning behind this? Why is this kept as a deep, dark secret like I’m trying to breach some national security issue? It’s ridiculous. I feel like I’m getting screwed over first by my husband’s premature death and now by the government.
Larry Kotlikoff: I am very sorry about your husband’s passing away.
I agree that it’s absolutely outrageous that Social Security won’t tell you your age-60 widow’s benefit. I would go to a different local office (with your marriage and his death certificate) and insist on speaking to a supervisor. If they won’t tell you what you will receive, write down their names and phone numbers and call your members of Congress. This information is your property. You can’t properly plan your financial future unless you know it. This said, you will want to run some very expert software to decide when to take what. It sounds like you should wait until 62 to take just your own retirement benefit and then take your widows benefit at full retirement age or potentially earlier, depending on whether or not your husband took his own retirement early. If this were the case, the RIB-LIM formula I’ve discussed here would apply and taking your widows benefit before full retirement age will be optimal, because waiting beyond a given point, which occurs before full retirement age, will not lead to higher widow’s benefits once you start taking them.
Ralph – Hortonville, Wis.: Can Social Security give you earning credits of $0 when you file tax returns more than three years late, even though earnings were substantial and Social Security taxes were paid? This happened to me for tax years 2000 and 2001. If so, are there any accepted reasons for which exceptions may be granted? (I still have copies of the tax returns in question.) If not, may I file for a refund of the Social Security taxes paid?
Larry Kotlikoff: Unfortunately, all my answers are unpleasant. First, Social Security can credit your covered earnings at $0, if you pay your Social Security taxes too late. Second, I don’t think there are any exceptions granted. Third, they won’t refund your Social Security tax payments.
Charles – Portland, Ore.: I filed for my Social Security benefit at 69 and eight months. The Social Security Administration backdated my filing by six months and sent me a check for the accrued amount. They also backdated the accrued amount for my daughter who was 17 at the time and had received a monthly check since then until she finished high school this June. This provided a five-digit sum that she will use to defray costs of college. Did I make the right decision? Also, I have 55-year-old spouse. Can she apply off of me for dependent care?
Larry Kotlikoff: It’s hard to say in your case. But it’s possible that the backdating hurt you more than it helped you and your daughter. Your child would have to be under age 16 or disabled in order for your wife to be eligible for child-in-care benefits. Only very precise commercial software can tell you whether you played this exactly right.
The post When it comes to Social Security, patience provides a tremendous return appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
GWEN IFILL: It’s a largely forgotten conflict in a part of the world marked by hunger and poverty. But for the past three years, in Sudan’s southern Nuba Mountain and Kurdufan regions, a war has been raging. The area is controlled by SPLA rebels who fought for South Sudan in the war that ended in 2005. Now the rebels are on the wrong side of a new border. And they have fought the Sudanese government to a stalemate.
Thousands of civilians have been caught in the middle. A group of Sudanese journalists known as Nuba Reports have been documenting their plight, and helped us produce the following report with the NewsHour’s P.J. Tobia
A warning: Some of the images in the story may be disturbing.
P.J. TOBIA: These pictures were shot in May 2014 in Southern Sudan, a seemingly peaceful morning at the Mother of Mercy Hospital and Catholic School, until the priest’s sermon ended suddenly with a rain of bombs from above.
Students took shelter in ditches. Some fainted in terror. The next day, the site and its residents were hit with more Sudanese air force bombs.
American Dr. Tom Catena, medical director of the Mother of Mercy Hospital, treated the wounded in the aftermath.
DR. TOM CATENA, Medical Director, Mother of Mercy Hospital: The first bomb was dropped maybe — it felt like close to the hospital. A lot of people started yelling and screaming, and — coming back and dropping three more bombs. I think there is no doubt they were targeting us.
P.J. TOBIA: According to the few nongovernmental organizations still operating in the Kurdufan region, strikes against civilian targets are all too common.
This footage provides documentary proof. The Sudanese government uses cluster munitions and banned inaccurate parachute bombs. This one landed in a village during a bombing run that killed a young girl and wounded others. One of the 400 patients at Dr. Catena’s hospital during the attack was a woman named Amal.
AMAL, Victim of Sudanese Airforce Bombing (through interpreter): Since I have been here, the attacks have been continuous, and we don’t know when it will stop or when the attacks will start again. We don’t know anything.
P.J. TOBIA: She came to Mother of Mercy Hospital after the government bombed her village, blowing off half her left foot.
Here, in footage recorded just after that attack, her daughter and niece lie dead, killed while they slept beside her. Mother of Mercy Hospital is the only one for hundreds of miles in any direction. The Sudanese government has blockaded the region, preventing medicines and other aid from getting to Kurdufan. The government has also banned international NGOs.
Medecins Sans Frontieres, known in the United States as Doctors Without Borders, is one of the only international aid groups still operating in Kurdufan. In June 2014, Sudanese air force bombers began circling in the sky above this MSF clinic and began bombing.
WOMAN (through interpreter): So, right when the plane turned around, all the patients that were bedridden in the hospital and all of the staff came running from outside to the shelters.
P.J. TOBIA: The staff were too scared to return to the clinic. They treated the wounded right there in the ditch. An I.V. bag hangs from a tree trunk.
WOMAN (through interpreter: All this blood right here is the blood of the patient that was hit from behind and the staff member whose legs were wounded.
P.J. TOBIA: In all, three were severely wounded in the attack, six injured. Shrapnel blew through the clinic, damaging valuable medicines and equipment, rare tools in this part of the world.
In January this year, 13 Sudanese bombs hit another MSF clinic. Back at Mother of Mercy Hospital, Dr. Catena says the strikes are not an accident.
DR. TOM CATENA: They want us to go away. They want to kill everybody here. They want to demoralize the people. They want to treat everybody like animals.
P.J. TOBIA: Maowia Khalid is Sudan’s representative in Washington. He’s the charge d’affaires.
PBS NewsHour showed him video of the bombing of the Mother of Mercy Hospital.
MAOWIA KHALID, Ambassador, Sudan: We cannot determine where those photos are. They probably could be inside the barracks and the camps of the rebel groups. They could be. And they could be also not in Sudan. They could be in South Sudan or any other area.
P.J. TOBIA: As for targeting of MSF facilities, Khalid says that the group isn’t supposed to be operating in Sudan in the first place.
MAOWIA KHALID: Medecins Sans Frontieres have been asked to go out of Sudan since 2008. So, probably, they have kept operating in some areas which belong to the rebel groups without the knowledge of the government of Sudan. If an attack has been occurred or done for such a facility, you cannot know this, whether this is a rebel camp or a medical facility.
P.J. TOBIA: Just so I’m clear on this, the Sudanese government has not been targeting MSF facilities or the facilities you think are aiding the rebels and therefore…
MAOWIA KHALID: We are not targeting at all any facility for MSF. And if any destroy happen, that’s because they’re part of rebel camps. But we’re not targeting aid workers.
GWENOLA FRANCOIS, Medecins Sans Frontieres: We don’t work at all with any political or military body. It’s completely against our core principals.
P.J. TOBIA: Gwenola Francois, head of MSF’s Sudan operation, said her organization repeatedly told the government about their operations.
GWENOLA FRANCOIS: We informed them about our activities there and the location from the very beginning. Even before we opened there, we informed them in Khartoum, and we kept on informing them from time to time about our activities through diplomatic channels.
P.J. TOBIA: MSF are working in Sudan despite being ordered out by the government.
GWENOLA FRANCOIS: Because we can see all the medical needs for these people. We know that kids, mothers, elders who are suffering from this conflict who are denied access to lifesaving care, and we can’t just stand by and look at them. We need to do something.
P.J. TOBIA: When asked about the parachute bombs and cluster munitions that the Sudanese air force uses, Ambassador Khalid blames international sanctions.
MAOWIA KHALID: We’re combating very aggressive rebellion. And, unfortunately, Sudan is using a very old technology in its armed forces, and that is due to many things, part of it the sanctions that have been applied to Sudan.
P.J. TOBIA: Khalid says that rebel forces, shown here fighting last summer, regularly commit atrocities.
He sent NewsHour this report from Sudanese state television dated April 2013. The report says that rebels targeted a school and stole crops in one town. In another, they attacked a power plant and banks.
Meanwhile, Amal’s maimed foot is mostly healed and she’s reunited with her husband.
AMAL (through interpreter): I have arrived here, thank God. However, I can’t move around. I might be able to make tea. If I have a guest over, I can make tea and make food. But say I have to go and bring water or go for long-distance errands. I can’t do that.
P.J. TOBIA: They have left their village and taken refuge in the caves and rocky slopes of the Nuba Mountains. Many here seek refuge here from the bombings among the craggy slopes. Natural defenses are the only kind of protection that the people of Kurdufan can hope for.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m P.J. Tobia, reporting from Washington.
GWEN IFILL: Later tonight on most PBS stations, “POV” has more on the civilians of Southern Sudan coping with war in a documentary called “Beats of the Antonov.”
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At 390 years old, the Japanese white pine was already notable as the oldest specimen in the bonsai collection at Washington, D.C.’s National Arboretum. Then, in 2001, two brothers showed up at the Arboretum to check on the tree – a donation from their grandfather — and informed officials that it was far more special than anyone had originally realized. Not only had the tree lived through almost four centuries, it had also lived through the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.
The Washington Post reported that the tree was originally donated to the Arboretum by a bonsai master named Masaru Yamaki. It was part of a gift of 53 trees given to the Arboretum’s National Bonsai and Penjing Museum in honor of the U.S. bicentennial. No mention was made of the tree’s history, and it wasn’t until the brothers showed up that the tree’s incredible story was even known. The tree’s history will be honored on Thursday, the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.
The tree was originally located in a walled nursery belonging to Yamaki that was less than two miles from Hiroshima. This distance, however, was just far enough away to shield it from the blast. Jack Sustic, curator of the Bonsai and Penjing Museum, told the Post that the tree must have been against a wall where it was shielded from the blast. Photographs taken at the Yamaki Nursery just after the bombing show the pine standing in its pot, unharmed.
Survival seems to come naturally to the tree. In general, white pines are expected to live around 200 years, meaning that this one has lived almost double its life-expectancy. Caring for such an old specimen is no easy task. At the Arboretum, the tree needs to be watered daily, inspected for insects, rotated twice a week and occasionally repotted. In the winter, the tree is moved to the Chinese Pavilion, which is climate-controlled.
This year the tree will move to the Japanese Pavilion, which is being renovated in honor of the Arboretum’s upcoming 40th anniversary. It will be just one more small change for a tree that has been around since 1625.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m joined by former Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher, David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Fahad Nazer. He’s a former political analyst at the embassy of Saudi Arabia here in Washington.
And, gentlemen, we welcome you all.
Marwan Muasher, to you first. What is the reaction in general to this deal in Jordan?
MARWAN MUASHER, Former Jordanian Foreign Minister: The reaction in the Middle East in general, not just in Jordan, is, on the one side, a sign of relief that the region is going to be avoiding a war with catastrophic results.
On the other side, there is concern about Iran’s role in the region and what an enhanced or an — added financial resources that will become available to Iran, what that might mean in terms of Iran and its role in such places as Syria or Yemen or other places in the Middle East.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Fahad Nazer, what about your perception of reaction in the region?
FAHAD NAZER, Former Saudi Arabian Embassy Official: Well, in terms of Saudi Arabia, I think, at this point, one should probably draw a distinction between the official government position and the prevailing sentiment.
Initially, the government issued a rather innocuous-sounding statement that was read as a tacit endorsement. This is back on July 14. Now, since then, obviously, the foreign minister has met with top U.S. officials, including President Obama and Secretary Kerry. And Secretary Carter was in Saudi Arabia just two weeks ago.
And since then, the Saudi position has shifted slightly, but in a significant fashion. The foreign minister ended up — after meeting Secretary Carter, he ended up saying that, while we are still in consultation with the U.S. government, that the agreement does seem to appear to have enough provisions to address our concerns.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So some sense of reassurance?
FAHAD NAZER: Indeed.
However, as I said at the outset, I think the prevailing sentiment is a little different than the official position. I think there are many in Saudi Arabia specifically who still are very concerned about Iran’s intentions, who, even in looking at the agreement, think that Iran in some ways was rewarded for its bad behavior over the years.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David Makovsky, what about the reaction in Israel? Is there as much negative reaction there as Prime Minister Netanyahu has expressed?
DAVID MAKOVSKY, Washington Institute for Near East Policy: Well, Prime Minister Netanyahu set the tone. There’s no doubt. His main point is that the objective of the negotiations has profoundly shifted from trying to eliminate the Iranian nuclear program to merely deferring it.
And, as you know, he’s been very vocal in that regard. He has made the point that Marwan just made about the cash infusion of the region as a result of their new status, unlocking of their bank accounts, that would lead to really perhaps billions of dollars for their allies to engage in destabilizing activities and emboldened Iranian influence in the region.
The public, if you look at the polls, the polling data show that you have got about 70 to 80 percent opposed, 10 percent approve, and the same — about the same percentage who say Iran’s going to get a nuclear weapon under this deal.
And the reason why I think it’s so strong is not just because of Netanyahu’s dominance as a leader, but because they hear the ayatollah’s statement, I want to annihilate Israel, and that they, not just rhetorically, feel they have been on the receiving end of bombs from Hezbollah in 2006 and in rounds with Hamas subsequent to that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: OK. I want to come back to Marwan Muasher, and the point I think all three of you are reflecting, in a way, the worry that Iran will use the money it gets from unfreezing its assets to create more mischief in the region.
I’m sure you know U.S. officials are saying that this is a concern that the U.S. is already prepared for, that Iran is — that it’s illegal for Iran to do this anyway, and if they start to engage in this kind of behavior, the U.S. will push back.
MARWAN MUASHER: Yes, Iran’s role in the region has not been part of the negotiations over the nuclear fight. And that remains the weakest part of the agreement.
I still think, on balance, the agreement is a very good one, because the lack of an agreement would probably have meant war, war that wouldn’t have stopped the Iranian nuclear program. In fact, it might have encouraged it.
Having said that, because the negotiations didn’t involve Iran’s role in the region, that remains the principal concern among countries of the region. Is Iran going to use that extra money for more mischief, and what leverage does the U.S. have to prevent Iran from using that extra money? That remains the concern.
It is not — you know, I don’t think the countries of the Gulf are asking necessarily the United States for more arms, for more security arrangements. They certainly do not intend to get into a war with Iran but they’re asking for assurances that Iran’s role is not going to be enhanced in the region.
And, frankly, I’m not sure how the United States can give such assurances to countries of the Gulf in particular.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, a couple of points.
And I will come to Fahad Nazer on that, because U.S. officials have addressed this. They have said that, if Iran does this, they will push back. The U.S. will push back, in concert with other nations. They have said that, if necessary, they will beef up the ability of other countries to defend themselves. And they have also talked about how much more money, Mr. Nazer, is already spent by Saudi Arabia, for example, and these other countries like Qatar than Iran is spending.
They’re saying there is already an imbalance, but which the U.S. is prepared to redress if necessary.
FAHAD NAZER: Well, I’m not sure about that.
I mean, it’s not really only Saudi Arabia or the U.S. that has expressed concern about what Iran could potentially do with the billions of dollars worth of unfrozen assets. It’s high officials at the United Nations. There is at least one official at the United Nations who estimates that Iran has provided Bashar al-Assad’s regime with $6 million worth of support annually.
Now, Syria has gotten lost a little bit in the conversation, but I think Syria remains to be at the top of Saudi Arabia’s agenda. I think Saudi Arabia has invested tremendous political capital in Syria. I think they see it as the main source of destabilization in the region at this point.
And I’m sure that they are hoping that the U.S. is well aware of that. And there’s indication that Secretary Kerry has — is now willing to focus more on Syria, now that the nuclear issue is behind him.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And there is some indication of that.
David Makovsky, is the concern in Israel that the U.S. is just not prepared to push back if Iran does begin to become more aggressive in the region?
DAVID MAKOVSKY: Yes, I think that’s a concern. Terms like pushback or we got to, like, raise our A-game become like words that get bandied about, around, that people say, well, what does that exactly mean?
So, does that mean that the Treasury, which has designated all these banks and entities and individuals for terrorism sanctions, are we going to now increase that when we see enhanced money going to Hezbollah? Is there going to be new legislation of sanctions in that regard?
No one’s talking about a wholesale reimposition of sanctions like there is under this deal, but the question is, are we going to do that? Are we going to gauge a contingency planning for interdiction of ships carrying weapons to some of Iran’s proxies? People want to know more specifics.
And, I mean, just to say, well, the Sunnis give more money and Iran is going to give money, it just means that the Middle East is going to be more awash in weapons. So the question is, short of giving more weapons to the other side, are there other things we can do very specifically that give, you know, real teeth to the term pushback?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me just quickly, in very little time, could I just ask each one of you to comment briefly on whether you think the U.S. is going to be able to assuage these concerns, assuming Congress OKs these deals?
MARWAN MUASHER: It’s going to take a lot more than what the U.S. is already doing to convince its allies in the region that there is serious pushback.
And I frankly have concerns about that, given the fact that I think the Obama administration is trying to get out of the region, and not to have — to be more involved.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David Makovsky?
DAVID MAKOVSKY: I think whether this deal does or doesn’t happen, you’re going to need an upgraded U.S.-Israeli security relationship. This is the most turbulent period the Middle East has gone through in 100 years.
This deal is going to add to that turbulence. And, therefore, it’s important that these two allies that are bickering right now find a way of putting it behind them.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, Fahad Nazer.
FAHAD NAZER: Well, I think the U.S. has been very persistent.
And I think some of that effort is paying off. However, I still do think that Saudi Arabia has major concerns about Iran’s ultimate intentions for the region.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Gentlemen, we thank you all three, Fahad Nazer, David Makovsky, Marwan Muasher.
MARWAN MUASHER: Thank you.
DAVID MAKOVSKY: Thank you.
FAHAD NAZER: Thank you.
The post Are Mideast allies buying the Iran deal being sold by the Obama administration? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary of State John Kerry was in the Persian Gulf today, trying to sell the Iran nuclear deal to Gulf Arab allies.
Publicly, at least, the mission seemed like an easier lift than his recent to visits to Capitol Hill, but opposition in some parts of the region remains strong.
Kerry arrived in Qatar with the message that a nuclear deal might change Iran’s aggressive actions in neighboring states.
JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: Obviously, we all know about the support for Hezbollah, the support for Shia militia in Iraq, the support for the Houthi, other involvements in the region, support for terror historically, which we have opposed and we continue to oppose and we will oppose going forward in the future.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Privately, many of the Gulf Arab leaders who met with Kerry have expressed fear that a nuclear deal will only embolden Iran. But publicly, at least, the Qatari foreign minister offered mostly support.
KHALID AL-ATTIYAH, Foreign Minister, Qatar (through interpreter): Kerry let us know that there’s going to be oversight for Iran not to gain or to get any nuclear weapons. This is reassuring to the region. Furthermore, we hope that we are going to have a kind of a ban of nuclear weapons not only to Iran, but to all the Middle East.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Before his stop in Qatar, Kerry had been in Egypt. He skipped Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been outspoken in condemning the Iran pact.
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israel (through interpreter): The Iranians don’t even make an effort to hide the fact that they will use the hundreds of billions of dollars they will receive in this deal to arm their terror machine. And they say clearly that they would continue their fight against the United States and its allies headed by Israel.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Defense Secretary Ash Carter did visit Israel last month, but Netanyahu wasn’t mollified. The Israeli leader plans to address American Jewish communities in a Webcast tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Kerry travels on to East Asia, where he will focus on concerns about China’s pursuit of territorial claims in the region.
We take closer look now at the reaction to the Iran deal in the Middle East.
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GWEN IFILL: The political season heads into overdrive this week, with a candidates forum in New Hampshire tonight, and with a full-scale debate Thursday night in Cleveland. The debate, sponsored by FOX News, will feature the top 10 of the 17 major candidates. Who gets on stage will be determined by averaging polls.
As of today, five candidates seem guaranteed a spot: Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio. Another three are highly likely to make the cut, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson. That leaves three others to fight for the two remaining spots, Chris Christie, Rick Perry and John Kasich.
What better time for Politics Monday tonight, with Tamara Keith of NPR and Susan Page of USA Today?
Welcome to you both.
So, assuming — there is an elephant in the room, as we always discuss on Monday nights, and his name is Donald Trump. But let’s get past that for a moment. What do these candidates have to accomplish on the stage on Thursday night in order to break through?
SUSAN PAGE, USA Today: You know, I think they have different agendas facing them.
I think for Jeb Bush, he wants to look presidential, an alternative to Donald Trump. I think, for Marco Rubio, who’s faded a bit from the scene, he needs to reassert himself as being a player on the stage. I think Scott Walker needs to look competent, especially when it comes to foreign policy, because the last time we were listening to him, he had some stumbles and missteps.
So, I think different players have different things they need to do on Thursday night.
GWEN IFILL: And is there anything Donald Trump needs to do?
TAMARA KEITH, NPR: I think he just needs to have fun, because that’s what Donald Trump is there to do.
I think the real question is what these candidates do with Donald Trump. I was doing a little bit of math. The thought is that with commercials and everything else, you are going to get about 90 minutes of actual talking time for candidates. There are 10 of them. That means, best-case scenario, they might each get nine minutes.
How many of those nine minutes do they want to cede to Donald Trump? I think it’s a big question. I think a lot of them want to be substantive possibly in their nine minutes or stand out in some way, and it will be a question as to whether Donald Trump will let them.
GWEN IFILL: Well, you know, it’s interesting, because the rules, in order to get on the stage, are kind of important. In fact, the numbers — the names we just threw out there are not by any means official yet.
So, those on the bubble, those like, say, John Kasich or Chris Christie, one or the other of them might make it — well, how important is it, at the first of nine debates, that they make it at this point?
SUSAN PAGE: I think it’s pretty important. If you’re down at the bottom of the field, or toward the bottom, you’re at nine, 10, 11, I think it makes you look more serious than if you make the previous forum that they’re going to — that FOX is going to have at 5:00 with the people who don’t quite make the cut. I think…
GWEN IFILL: Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz.
SUSAN PAGE: Right. I think it actually is important for Chris Christie or for Rick Perry to show that they should be part of the bigger conversation.
It’s not the end of the world if they’re not in. We’re going to have a lot debates to come, eight more debates to follow. But I think it is kind of a big thing. And we know that traditionally in each debate, there’s a moment that encapsulates a debate.
GWEN IFILL: Right.
SUSAN PAGE: I’m predicting that that debate will — that moment will include Trump. It will either be something Donald Trump says…
GWEN IFILL: No. She’s out on the edge.
SUSAN PAGE: I know, it’s crazy — or something someone says to Donald Trump.
And especially for the candidates who are not in that first two or three, for them to be part of that moment would be a breakthrough. It would be something that would make us pay more attention to them.
GWEN IFILL: And if you’re John Kasich, say, the governor of Ohio, who only got in the race a little — couple of weeks ago, just being on that stage might be a big enough breakthrough on its own.
TAMARA KEITH: Well, and in your home state, to be on that stage. I think he wants to be there, absolutely.
You know, they will find other ways, though. The candidates at the kids table will find a way to stand out at the kids table debate. There is another forum tonight, two more hours of potential to stand out, and every Sunday show. And there are many opportunities, but, of course, especially for Republican candidates, on FOX News, this debate is a big moment.
GWEN IFILL: Today, we saw Hillary Clinton out with a couple of new — or over the weekend — a couple of new ads which are the kind of ads you usually see run by people who you have never heard of before.
Hillary Clinton, probably the most well-known person in this race, is running these biographical ads. We see these old pictures of her from her days, early days at the Children’s Defense Fund, when she was governor, first lady of Arkansas, married to Bill Clinton, obviously.
And you wonder, why are we doing that at this stage, Tamara?
TAMARA KEITH: Well, her campaign and some of her good friends who I have spoken to feel like Hillary Clinton is the candidate that everyone thinks they know, but nobody really knows.
And so, they have rolled out these biographical details in her speeches, but that hasn’t really broken through. The headlines are still about the e-mails and the Clinton Foundation and the e-mails again. And so they’re looking for a way to research those early primary and caucus voters directly and say, with sort of a soft focus, here’s the Hillary Clinton we want you to know, without the filter.
GWEN IFILL: The other thing Hillary Clinton has done twice in the last few days is go directly after Jeb Bush, who she clearly thinks — first on — today on Planned Parenthood and whether Planned Parenthood should be defunded, and last week on — I’m forgetting what it was. But she went after him again last week as well.
So, what is it that she’s doing that for?
SUSAN PAGE: Well, she’s apparently concluded that Donald Trump will not going be the Republican nominee, and that the most likely nominee is Jeb Bush, and so why not go after him now?
She certainly doesn’t want to go after her Democratic rivals, who are not actually in a position to deny her the nomination, at least not at this point. So I think that she’s looking a little ahead to the general election.
But it’s interesting, just to go back to the autobiographical ads, the one with her — the one that is focused on her mother is really quite touching. And I think even people — and it makes her look — it goes to what her motivation has been in working for kids, as she did particularly in her early years as a lawyer.
And I think that does show a side of Hillary Clinton that a lot of — even people who know her pretty well haven’t — haven’t really seen before. And it’s something that I think she doesn’t do well herself on stage when she’s talking about it, but when you have those pictures narrated by Hillary Clinton, I think that is a different kind of picture of Hillary Clinton than we have seen before.
GWEN IFILL: Now, the person who has surfaced in the political chat world this week, but who is not on anybody’s ballot, is Joe Biden, the vice president, and questions about whether Joe Biden, whether he should, or could or would run for president at this late stage in the debate.
What have you heard?
TAMARA KEITH: Well, and, obviously, there has been reporting that his son, as he was dying, said, “Dad, you should run.”
What I’m getting is not anything that concrete. What I’m hearing from people is that, sure, there are feelers that are being put out by people who are close to Joe Biden. The question, though, is, is that — are feelers enough? I mean, Hillary Clinton, at this point, has a 50-state organizing strategy.
She has 40 offices — 49 offices in Iowa. Bernie Sanders has something like 40 organizers in Iowa. There’s a lot of infrastructure that Joe Biden doesn’t yet have because he hasn’t yet decided what he’s doing.
GWEN IFILL: So, how serious a trial balloon is it, Susan?
SUSAN PAGE: We know that Joe Biden wants to run. If Joe Biden could run, he would run. His heart tells him that.
He head tells him — has told him, at least this far, that he can’t, there’s not an opening. We talk about Hillary Clinton being beleaguered. She is not beleaguered among Democrats. Democrats like Hillary Clinton. They’re excited about the idea of nominating the first woman.
GWEN IFILL: The question is whether she can beat the Republican next fall.
SUSAN PAGE: Now, if she imploded in a more serious way than she has so far, Joe Biden would love to be the person who rushes in there, but it’s hard for me to see the opening being there for him at this time.
GWEN IFILL: But it’s always a good idea to keep your name up there in the air.
Susan Page of USA Today, Tamara Keith of NPR, as always, thank you.
TAMARA KEITH: Thank you.
SUSAN PAGE: Thanks.
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GWEN IFILL: A wildfire swept through parts of Northern California for a sixth day, consuming more than 60,000 acres, 20,000 of them in a five-hour span over the weekend. All of this is occurring as the Golden State, and most of the Western part of the country, deal with drought and an especially dangerous fire season.
Jeffrey Brown has the story.
JEFFREY BROWN: It’s the largest of roughly 20 fires burning throughout drought-stricken California. The so-called Rocky Fire has consumed two dozen homes, threatened hundreds more and put at least 12,000 people under evacuation warnings.
WOMAN: It’s like being in another world. It’s the smells, the embers. I mean, it’s still burning here.
BOY: Doomsday, that’s what it looked like, kind of. It looked like — it looked like a mushroom cloud that came from like a nuclear explosion, kind of.
JEFFREY BROWN: The fire, about 100 miles north of San Francisco, tripled in size over the weekend, to 93 square miles. National Guard helicopters battled the blaze from the air, while nearly 3,000 firefighters fought the flames on the ground.
Cooler, wetter weather helped crews gain ground today, but the big fire is still only 12 percent contained. CalFire spokesman Steve Kaufmann called it unprecedented.
STEVE KAUFMANN, Public Information Officer, CAL FIRE: I have talked to firefighters with 20, 30, 40 years on the job in the fire service, and they have said that this is some of the most extreme fire behavior they have ever seen in their career.
The fuels are so tender out here and they’re so dry, they’re real receptive to fire. And when we do have fire in the vegetation, it seems to move pretty fast, unpredictably, more unpredictably than we have seen before.
JEFFREY BROWN: Meanwhile, fires in other parts of California have killed one firefighter and injured four others in recent days. Wildfires have also erupted in Oregon and Washington state, fueled by drought and summer heat.
This NASA image shows smoke from several fires rising yesterday over Oregon and Northern California. And as if all that weren’t enough, there have been incidents of private drone aircraft interfering with firefighting planes, and even forcing them out of the air.
STEVE KAUFMANN: And so we just ask people to be smart when they’re using their drones. If you see our aircraft in the air, don’t fly your drones. It’s only going to hamper our operations.
JEFFREY BROWN: Officials in San Bernardino, California, are now offering a $75,000 reward for information on anyone whose drone hinders firefighters.
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