Articles on this Page
- 08/28/15--10:52: _Nations hope to ree...
- 08/28/15--11:52: _Supreme Court can k...
- 08/28/15--11:55: _The U.S. foreclosur...
- 08/28/15--11:57: _EPA says new rule w...
- 08/28/15--15:20: _Wiped out by Katrin...
- 08/28/15--15:25: _Shields and Brooks ...
- 08/28/15--15:30: _Prep school rape tr...
- 08/28/15--15:35: _In reforming New Or...
- 08/28/15--15:40: _George W. Bush hono...
- 08/28/15--15:45: _Death toll rises fo...
- 08/28/15--15:50: _News Wrap: More tha...
- 08/29/15--06:09: _When Louisiana lost...
- 08/29/15--08:58: _Obama: U.S. relatio...
- 08/29/15--09:30: _Experts say Republi...
- 08/29/15--10:21: _How did Katrina cha...
- 08/29/15--11:27: _‘I just miss home':...
- 08/29/15--11:32: _Legendary New Orlea...
- 08/29/15--11:50: _Obama to walk fine ...
- 08/29/15--12:14: _Initial Common Core...
- 08/29/15--12:36: _Study finds trauma ...
- 08/28/15--10:52: Nations hope to reel in Arctic overfishing
- 08/28/15--11:52: Supreme Court can keep protestors off its plaza, appeals court rules
- 08/28/15--11:55: The U.S. foreclosure crisis was not just a subprime event
- 08/28/15--11:57: EPA says new rule will protect drinking water for 37 states
- 08/28/15--15:30: Prep school rape trial raises questions about teen consent
- 08/28/15--15:45: Death toll rises for desperate refugees and migrants in Europe
- 08/29/15--06:09: When Louisiana lost its foster children
- 08/29/15--10:21: How did Katrina change how we evacuate pets from disaster?
- 08/29/15--11:27: ‘I just miss home': Two stories of life after Katrina
- 08/29/15--11:32: Legendary New Orleans chef rebuilds neighborhood institution
On Monday, the United States hosts the leaders of 20 nations at a conference on critical issues facing the Arctic. One topic at the conference in Anchorage, Alaska, is potential overfishing in the central Arctic Ocean.
Although the administration says commercial fishing isn’t widespread in the Arctic now, warming temperatures are melting the sea ice and creating opportunities for large-scale fishing, along with competition among nations to do it.
The five countries surrounding the Arctic – Canada, Denmark representing Greenland, Norway, Russia and the United States – signed a declaration in July saying they wouldn’t authorize their vessels to fish until an international agreement was put in place to manage the practice.
But they want to bring more nations on board, and one of the sessions addresses unregulated high seas fisheries. In addition to the Arctic nations, the State Department has invited leaders of other countries with interests in the Arctic, including China, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Union.
President Barack Obama, who made waves in May among the conservation community for approving Royal Dutch Shell’s lease to drill two oil exploration wells off the Alaskan coast, plans to speak at the conference’s conclusion.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court, the setting for landmark rulings in favor of free speech, can keep protesters off its marble plaza without violating their constitutional rights, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.
The inviting 20,000-square-foot, open-air plaza can remain a protest-free zone because the court has an interest in preserving decorum and the idea that judges are not influenced by public opinion and pressure, said a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Besides, the appeals court said, the public sidewalk directly in front of the plaza often is used by demonstrators, though the sidewalk is roughly half as deep as the plaza.
“A line must be drawn somewhere along the route from the street to the court’s front entrance. But where?” wrote Judge Sri Srinivasan, who has been mentioned as a potential high court nominee. “Among the options, it is fully reasonable for that line to be fixed at the point one leaves the concrete public sidewalk and enters the marble steps to the court’s plaza.”
Lawyers for Harold Hodge Jr., whose arrest in 2011 led to the court case, called the decision a blow to the First Amendment and said the justices themselves ultimately will be asked to rule on the issue. But through Chief Justice John Roberts’ approval of regulations prohibiting protests on the plaza, the justices “have already made their views on the subject quite clear,” said John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, which is representing Hodge.
The decision reversed a lower court ruling that declared unconstitutional a law prohibiting protests on the plaza.
Since 1983, the Supreme Court has interpreted the law to allow protests and other displays on the sidewalk surrounding the building. But that ruling did not directly consider demonstrations on the plaza that sits beneath the court’s iconic engraved promise of “Equal Justice Under Law.”
The case decided Friday arose after Hodge, a student, was arrested on the Supreme Court plaza while wearing a sign that criticized police treatment of blacks and Hispanics. Hodge sued and a federal judge found the law prohibiting access to the plaza to be too broad.
That law makes it a crime to “parade, stand or move in processions or assemblages,” or to display a “flag, banner or device designed or adapted to bring into public notice a party, organization or movement,” at the high court’s building or grounds.
In her 2013 decision ruling in Hodge’s favor, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said the law was invalid because it was not limited to people who could be seen as trying to sway the Supreme Court’s decisions. She said it was so broad it could criminalize tourists wearing T-shirts with a school logo or preschool students parading on a field trip to the high court.
Two days after the 2013 ruling, the Supreme Court produced a new, narrower regulation banning demonstrations on the court’s grounds or in the building. The ban includes picketing, speech-making, marching, vigils or religious services “that involve the communication or expression of views or grievances, engaged in by one or more persons, the conduct of which is reasonably likely to draw a crowd or onlookers.”
The new regulation says “casual use by visitors or tourists” that isn’t likely to attract a crowd is not banned.
The Supreme Court said in the 1983 decision that the law regarding the Supreme Court grounds requires protests and other displays to take place on the public sidewalk surrounding the building. The sidewalk is heavily trafficked, especially on days when major decisions are handed down. The plaza also is in use immediately after major case arguments — with parties and their lawyers providing their views to the news media.
In his decision Friday, Srinivasan noted that the plaza, in appearance and design, is integrated with the building itself. The judge quoted Justice Stephen Breyer in describing the plaza “as the opening stage of ‘a carefully choreographed, climbing path that ultimately ends at the courtroom itself.'”
But Breyer was writing to express his disagreement with the court’s decision to close the front steps as an entrance to the building and instead require visitors to use side doors on either side of those steps. He also voiced the hope that the doors would one day be reopened as an entrance and “as a symbol of dignified openness and meaningful access to equal justice under law.”
The post Supreme Court can keep protestors off its plaza, appeals court rules appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
For 29 years now, Paul Solman’s reports on the NewsHour have been trying to make sense of economic news and research for a general audience. Since 2007, our Making Sen$e page has striven to do the same, turning to leading academics and thinkers in the fields of business and economics to help explain what’s interesting and relevant about their work. That includes reports and interviews with economists affiliated with the esteemed National Bureau of Economic Research.
Founded in 1920, NBER is a private nonprofit research organization devoted to objective study of the American economy in all its dazzling diversity, combining data with rigorous analysis to describe and explain the material world in which we live long before data analytics became fashionable. “Why Some Women Try to Have It All: New Research on Like Mother Like Daughter” and “Why Does the First Child Get the Gold? An Economics Answer” have been among our most popular posts on Making Sen$e, both of them largely based on NBER research. We thought our readership might benefit from a closer relationship.
Each month, the NBER Digest summarizes several recent NBER working papers. These papers have not been peer-reviewed, but are circulated by their authors for comment and discussion. With the NBER’s blessing, Making Sen$e is pleased to begin featuring these summaries regularly on our page.
The following summary was written by the NBER and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Making Sen$e. We will tell you, however, what the takeway is: The U.S. foreclosure crisis, so commonly referred to subprime mortgage crisis, was not in fact, just a subprime event. While it began that way, it became a much broader phenomenon and mainly included prime mortgages. The findings suggest that effective regulation cannot just focus on restricting risky subprime contracts.
Many studies of the housing market collapse of the last decade, and the associated sharp rise in defaults and foreclosures, focus on the role of the subprime mortgage sector. Yet subprime loans comprise a relatively small share of the U.S. housing market, usually about 15 percent and never more than 21 percent. Many studies also focus on the period leading up to 2008, even though most foreclosures occurred subsequently. In A New Look at the U.S. Foreclosure Crisis: Panel Data Evidence of Prime and Subprime Borrowers from 1997 to 2012 (NBER Working Paper No. 21261), Fernando Ferreira and Joseph Gyourko provide new facts about the foreclosure crisis and investigate various explanations of why homeowners lost their homes during the housing bust. They employ microdata that track outcomes well past the beginning of the crisis and cover all types of house purchase financing — prime and subprime mortgages, Federal Housing Administration (FHA)/Veterans Administration (VA)-insured loans, loans from small or infrequent lenders, and all-cash buyers. Their data contain information on over 33 million unique ownership sequences in just over 19 million distinct owner-occupied housing units from 1997 to 2012.
The researchers find that the crisis was not solely, or even primarily, a subprime sector event. It began that way, but quickly expanded into a much broader phenomenon dominated by prime borrowers’ loss of homes. There were only seven quarters, all concentrated at the beginning of the housing market bust, when more homes were lost by subprime than by prime borrowers. In this period 39,094 more subprime than prime borrowers lost their homes. This small difference was reversed by the beginning of 2009. Between 2009 and 2012, 656,003 more prime than subprime borrowers lost their homes. Twice as many prime borrowers as subprime borrowers lost their homes over the full sample period.
The authors suggest that one reason for this pattern is that the number of prime borrowers dwarfs that of subprime borrowers and the other borrower/owner categories they consider. The prime borrower share averages around 60 percent and did not decline during the housing boom. Although the subprime borrower share nearly doubled during the boom, it peaked at just over 20 percent of the market. Subprime’s increasing share came at the expense of the FHA/VA-insured sector, not the prime sector.
The authors’ key empirical finding is that negative equity conditions can explain virtually all of the difference in foreclosure and short sale outcomes of prime borrowers compared to all cash owners. Negative equity also accounts for approximately two-thirds of the variation in subprime borrower distress. Both are true on average, over time, and across metropolitan areas.
None of the other ‘usual suspects’ raised by previous research or public commentators — housing quality, race and gender demographics, buyer income, and speculator status — were found to have had a major impact. Certain loan-related attributes such as initial loan-to-value (LTV), whether a refinancing occurred or a second mortgage was taken on, and loan cohort origination quarter did have some independent influence, but much weaker than that of current LTV.
The authors’ findings imply that large numbers of prime borrowers who did not start out with extremely high LTVs still lost their homes to foreclosure. They conclude that the economic cycle was more important than initial buyer, housing and mortgage conditions in explaining the foreclosure crisis. These findings suggest that effective regulation is not just a matter of restricting certain exotic subprime contracts associated with extremely high default rates.
— Les Picker, National Bureau of Economic Research
The post The U.S. foreclosure crisis was not just a subprime event appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency says it is going forward with a new federal rule to protect small streams, tributaries and wetlands, despite a court ruling that blocked the measure in 13 central and Western states.
The EPA says a rule that took effect Friday in 37 states will safeguard drinking water for millions of Americans.
Opponents, including farm and business groups, have pledged to fight the rule, emboldened by a federal court decision Thursday that blocked the rule from Alaska to Arkansas.
Other lawsuits seeking to block the rule are pending across the country, and the Republican-controlled Congress has moved to thwart it.
Opponents call the rule federal overreach. The EPA says it clarifies which smaller waterways fall under federal protection after two Supreme Court rulings left that uncertain.
The post EPA says new rule will protect drinking water for 37 states appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Before we go, we finish out the week with voices from a small community church in New Orleans that’s still trying to rebuild a full decade later.
The Mount Nebo Bible Baptist Church was destroyed in the Lower Ninth Ward during the storm, while neighborhood residents were forced to move away. Today, they are returning slowly.
But the Reverend Charles Duplessis still has to lead church service and Bible study in the living room of his very home, as he works to bring back the church building.
REV. CHARLES DUPLESSIS, Mount Nebo Bible Baptist Church: The day we entered the building, we surrounded it. We had the friends and family and the church members. We surrounded the church. We said a prayer before we even went into the building.
And so we went in, and we had a joyful noise in the lord. We had choirs. We started a youth choir. We had Sunday school, Bible study. And on Sundays, every other Sunday, we’d have volleyball, and the young children would play basketball and football, because they had enough room to do all three of those things. It was two stories. We sat on 20,000 square feet of property. It was five lots. So we moved in and we were in it until Katrina struck.
WOMAN: We don’t really talk about it. We know what done happened. We done went through it. So, there’s nothing else we could do, and just thank God we’re still around. A lot of people didn’t even come back. I guess they had nothing to come back to.
REV. CHARLES DUPLESSIS: When we got to the church, we went up the steps and opened the door. The pews were pushed forward. The stairs to attic was down.
And it was just heartbreaking to see where you ministered and where the kids played and where we worshiped at all devastated. The question was, how do you get the church back? All the congregation had been scattered. And it took us awhile to find where everybody was.
We had 120 people in our congregation, and now we’re down to 49. I woke up one morning, about 2:30, and I was crying. And God said, why are you crying? I said, God, you know why. Lord, you know why I am crying. I don’t where the people are or anything like that. I can’t find them.
And he said, I got it.
WOMAN: Place it into the sea of forgetfulness, but we’re never homeless on our just day.
REV. CHARLES DUPLESSIS: Our home was finally rebuilt in 2009. And so when we moved in, we started having services here in the home, trying to rebuild the church on Flood Street. I knew God would, some kind of way, bring it back together.
He said, now my son who was lost. Now he’s found. And, therefore, the whole household could rejoice.
WOMAN: I know he would like to have the church rebuilt. I would like to see it rebuilt myself. I miss the church, but the church is in your heart.
I don’t care where you’re at. You can have it on a tent outside. You could be on the street. If you’re praising God, house or no house, it’s a blessing to have a place to go. .
TANGELA DUPLESSIS BAKER, Church Member: One of the things that the Bible says is, speak those things as if they were already. And I see the church. It’s there in my mind. There is no doubt that God will restore us.
What I do know about people from New Orleans is, we always come back. That’s the uniqueness of our culture. It’s that, I want to be home. I am coming home.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What an inspiration.
Reverend Duplessis says he has still raised less than half the money needed to rebuild the church, but he says he is confident in its full return.
The post Wiped out by Katrina, New Orleans church finds sanctuary in a living room appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Vice President Joe Biden weighs a run for the White House. Party loyalists criticize Hillary Clinton’s handling of her personal e-mail account. And Bernie Sanders continues to draw huge crowds and pulls ahead in New Hampshire — just a few of this week’s news developments, as we turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.
That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
MARK SHIELDS: Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, we have been spending a lot of time talking about the Republican race for the last few weeks. Let’s spend some time tonight talking about the Democrats.
Joe Biden, David, a lot of talk about whether he’s going to get in. He’s been meeting with the head of the Teamsters union. He met with the liberal darling Elizabeth Warren, Senator Warren. He’s got people advocating for him now at this big Democratic gathering in Minneapolis.
Do you think he’s going to get in?
DAVID BROOKS: No.
DAVID BROOKS: No.
Well, first, God bless him for his resilience. The guy loses a son, and still wants to serve the country and still is emotionally strong enough to do it. I salute him. And — but — and he’s a wonderful man, and he’s a great public servant.
But what the country is in the mood for is anti-establishment. I think that’s one of the reasons Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are sailing into headwinds. Bernie Sanders has it. Donald Trump has it in spades. Joe Biden doesn’t have it.
And so whatever the problem is with the Clinton campaign, Joe Biden also has that problem. And so I think he will get a sense of that larger atmosphere, let alone the money and the organization and all that, and Hillary Clinton’s still formidable strength, really. And so my guess — it’s a guess shared by a lot of Democratic insiders — is that he won’t do it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you share the guess?
MARK SHIELDS: I don’t.
And, you know, and with great respect for David, but I don’t think anybody knows. As David indicated, he wasn’t sure. It’s the most personal decision imaginable. And, as David touched on, with the death of his son Beau in May, it becomes even more personal. It’s a family decision. He’s a grandfather.
I mean, he really is. What you see with Joe Biden is what you get. And that is — David’s right. It is not an anti-establishment, but America is craving authenticity in 2016. And Joe Biden brings authenticity to it. He’s also a happy warrior. He also communicates with working-class voters a lot better than most Democrats do, and I think better than Mrs. Clinton, Secretary Clinton did, except in the late primaries in 2008.
So I think he probably had ruled it out, he had accepted it earlier, and Hillary Clinton had wrapped up endorsements. She had money, she had support, and she stumbled. Make no mistake about it. And she looks vulnerable. And there’s a surge of affection for Joe Biden, and I don’t think he’s made the decision.
I think he’s going to make it shortly. His conversation with Elizabeth Warren, there was no offer, no ask. They spent an hour and 50 minutes together. And 90 percent of it was talking about issues, and 10 percent — 10 minutes or so about politics.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s speculate here.
David, if he did decide to get in, what would be the pros? What would work for him if he got in, and what would be the problem?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, as Mark said, a guy from Scranton. He’s got some beautiful stories to tell.
Just a quick one. When his dad was unemployed in the Depression, got a job at a car dealer, and for the Christmas bonus, they were at a party and the car — the ownership of the dealership, as a bonus to the workers, threw a bunch of silver dollars on the dance floor and expected people to grab them and pick them up. And Joe Biden’s dad quit on the spot. He wasn’t going to be treated that way.
And that’s like an authentic part of life and that’s a sense of dignity that he was raised with. Joe Biden quotes his dad and mom all the time. When he campaigns, the entire family campaigns with him, his sister. So, all that stuff, that authentic stuff, is real.
And he’s sort of been chained for the past eight years. You can imagine he’s urging to express himself. So, he has some great natural vitality. As a campaigner, I remember following around him the last time. He would give a really good speech, and then two other speeches would come. And so he’s always had a problem controlling his tongue and keeping his temper. Maybe he’s going to be a little better at that.
But he’s a lovable guy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you see as the pros and cons if he gets in?
MARK SHIELDS: The pros, Judy, are basically, as Secretary Clinton — the Democratic Party has as its whole card is empathy, and that is a sense on the part of voters that they care about people like me.
In 2012, there were four presidential qualities that the exit poll of voters on the Election Day. They asked, who has vision to the future, who’s a strong leader, who has — who shares your values? Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama by 10 points. Who cares about people like you, 81-18 Barack Obama.
Bill Clinton always had that. Bill Clinton, when you questioned his candor, his forthrightness, or his behavior, there was always a sense he cares about ordinary people, there is a real commitment there.
She, in this latest Quinnipiac poll, national poll yesterday, you know…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Hillary Clinton?
MARK SHIELDS: Hillary Clinton. Who’s ahead, who’s behind us doesn’t mean anything.
They asked, who cares about people, the needs of someone like you? And she was 46 percent agree, 51 percent disagree. I mean, that is a killer. Joe Biden has a far more positive rating, as does Bernie Sanders.
I mean, with Hillary Clinton, the first woman candidate and a Democrat who has been — Children’s Defense Fund and health care and all the rest of it — that’s a real problem. I don’t care how many endorsements you have got, how many superdelegates you have got. That becomes a real problem.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it is her perceived weakness that — as you said, Mark, that has generated all this talk around Biden and the consideration presumably by Biden.
But, David, how vulnerable is she really? She’s out this week. She’s taking responsibility for the decisions she made on the personal e-mail server. She’s talking about how she’s — she’s talking about a little bit tougher on the campaign trail, comparing how Republicans view women with how terrorists view women.
Is she turning this around? I mean, how do you see her vulnerability?
DAVID BROOKS: I think she’s both an extremely likely nominee and also kind of weak.
And I just don’t think there’s a plausible alternative right now. So I think she’s going to be the nominee, but her weaknesses have been on display. The first is the e-mails. We don’t know. Things are going to come out. They have got the servers. They’re going to apparently be able to recapture some of these deleted e-mails, and some of those things may, may not come out, but that’s sitting out there.
Second, as I say, the establishment thing is a problem for her. And, third — and I think this is really the most serious one in a way — is, there is sort of just an unconscious boredom about her people. She doesn’t — I mean, the country sort of — people don’t — 30 percent think we’re headed in the right direction. There is a desire for something change — for something new.
And her events — I haven’t been to one of her events, but I’m reading them, seeing them on the TV. They don’t look exciting. They don’t look like they’re passionate. They don’t look new and fresh.
And so, when you have a campaign that’s not that creative, apparently, you have got a problem, and especially in a year like this, when a Bernie Sanders and a Donald Trump and somebody fast, new and at least vibrant seems to capture a lot of oxygen.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Mark, she’s also got the polls saying people talk about her — quote — “not being trustworthy,” not being honest. Is that real at this stage of the campaign?
MARK SHIELDS: It is.
I thought, again, the idea that where people volunteered a word about her — it was in one of the polls, Quinnipiac, poll — that doesn’t mean anything unless you narrow it down to Democrats and independents, because Republicans are going to cite what they find the most. The same thing if you are talking a Republican to Democrats.
So, but there’s no question there are doubts about that. The e-mail remains a problem. The other thing that’s a problem is that inevitability is not a campaign strategy. Now, people should be with us because we’re going to win. We’re going to win because people are with us.
And that’s not it. There isn’t a sense of purpose or energy or mission in the campaign thus far. I mean, she’s a — she was a very good candidate in 2008 at the end of the race, after she had been beaten badly in states like Iowa, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and Texas. She was a lot better candidate than Barack Obama was at the end.
But David mentioned Bernie Sanders. Could I just talk about him?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I wanted to ask you both about that.
MARK SHIELDS: OK. OK.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Because we’re sitting here talking about Hillary Clinton’s problems. We’re talking about Joe Biden may or may not get in.
Bernie Sanders, meantime, still drawing big crowds, David, pulling ahead of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, a crucial first primary state. Is he looking any more plausible?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I’m a little more humbled about it than I was.
I thought he wasn’t plausible at all. And the thought was sometimes parties elect or nominate a candidate who is unelectable, but not that unelectable. And I still think he’s sort of unelectable. The country is just not as far left as he is.
But I must say, the evidence is growing that his support is growing. I don’t know if it’s widening, though, and whether it’s widening out of the white university towns. And if he can do that, then you begin to think, well, maybe, maybe. But until he can do that, I still think it’s extremely unlikely that he will be the nominee.
But he will continue. He’s where the heart and — the economic heart and soul of the party is right now, and especially among progressives in university towns or places like Seattle. He’s right what they need. And he’s got the outsider thing, which is so big this year.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see Bernie Sanders?
MARK SHIELDS: I’m more impressed. I really am, and have been.
Before I became a pundit, I used to work in political campaigns, three presidential campaigns.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Oh, that’s what you were?
MARK SHIELDS: Yes, no inaugural speeches, but three presidential campaigns and 38 different states.
And I can tell you, getting a crowd is a lot of work. It’s a lot of work. That’s why people don’t try and put crowds together. I mean, it requires — if you have got a ballroom that holds 500, you have got to have 750 there, because the last thing in the world you want is a press report that begins, speaking to a half-empty high school gymnasium, Senator Brooks said — outlined his program.
And the size and intensity and enthusiasm of a crowd drives press coverage, and it overcomes skepticism in the press and it enlists people. Bernie Sanders had 27,500 people in the sports arena in Los Angeles in August.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
MARK SHIELDS: A Democratic campaign event in Los Angeles is a party at Steven Spielberg’s house hosted by George Clooney.
MARK SHIELDS: I mean, they don’t get 27,500 people. That is remarkable — 11,000 in Phoenix, I mean, 28,000 in Portland on a Sunday.
I mean, it’s — that is real intensity. Everything about Bernie Sanders, I think, translates it in a year when money is king. And Donald Trump, in a strange way, has been the greatest campaign finance reformer by pulling back the curtain and saying, this is how it works. I give money, the senator calls me back, and he does or she does what I want them to do.
And Bernie Sanders has raised an average contribution, 80 percent of his money, $31. I mean, it’s…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Small donors.
MARK SHIELDS: It’s small donors.
And I would say this, Judy. We in the press are not biblical scholars, but we love the David/Goliath story. And he is the David. And it is a message. He’s — it’s not the messenger. He’s not a charismatic, compelling personal figure. He has a compelling message.
And that, is, you know, to the — to Wall Street and the rest that you’re going to pay your fair share and you’re not going to get away with murder anymore.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We’re going to leave it there.
Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you both.
The post Shields and Brooks on Biden’s presidential pondering, voter perceptions of Clinton appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, we return to questions and concerns being raised about sexual assault among teens at the high school and college level, and what sort of consent can and should be given.
A trial over an alleged case of rape at an elite boarding school in New Hampshire concluded today. The case has attracted national attention, and it touches on some broader issues.
Jeffrey Brown starts with some background.
WOMAN: Guilty or not guilty?
JEFFREY BROWN: Owen Labrie wept as the verdict was read aloud in a New Hampshire state courtroom. The former prep school student had been accused of raping a freshman girl before his graduation in May 2014.
But the jury this afternoon cleared him of felony rape and instead convicted him on three misdemeanor sex charges and one felony count of using a computer to lure a minor for sexual contact. During the trial, prosecutors argued Labrie forced himself on the alleged victim during a so-called senior salute, a tradition at Saint Paul’s where some older students arrange trysts with younger ones, including for sex.
OWEN LABRIE, Defendant: I thought she was having a good time.
JEFFREY BROWN: Labrie said there was consensual sexual contact between the two, but later testified that — quote — “divine inspiration” compelled him to stop short of intercourse.
OWEN LABRIE: I thought to myself, maybe we shouldn’t do this. It hadn’t been my intention going into the night to have sex.
JEFFREY BROWN: The identity of the victim, now 16 years old, has not been released. She testified that she said no to Labrie three times during the encounter.
Prosecutor Joseph Cherniske:
JOSEPH CHERNISKE, Prosecutor: He didn’t care that she said no or froze up. He cared about what he wanted.
JEFFREY BROWN: The defense countered that the victim lied about what happened to protect herself, after Labrie bragged about having sex on Facebook. Labrie later said he had made up that claim.
OWEN LABRIE: Yes, it was a lie. I wanted to boast to my friends afterwards.
JEFFREY BROWN: In a statement this afternoon, the victim’s family called the verdict — quote — “a measure of justice,” adding, “This conviction requires him to take ownership for his actions and gives him the opportunity to reflect upon the harm he has caused.”
Labrie faces one year in prison for each of his misdemeanor charges and up to seven for the felony computer conviction.
Every case comes with its own particulars, of course. This one had the added public attention because of its setting at an elite prep school.
But it does, say our two guests, speak to difficult larger questions about the law and what constitutes sexual consent.
Emily Bazelon is a staff writer for “The New York Times Magazine” and senior research fellow at Yale University Law School. Deborah Tuerkheimer is professor of law at Northwestern University. She has written widely on rape and domestic violence.
And welcome to both of you.
Emily Bazelon, let me start with you. You have followed this case. What can you read from today’s verdict? What can you see from it?
EMILY BAZELON, The New York Times Magazine: It’s a nuanced, mixed verdict.
I think you can see that the jury believes that Owen Labrie had sex with the girl who accused him of rape and were convinced that, because she was younger — she was 15 at the time, he was 18 — that this an offense, a criminal offense.
But the jury didn’t see enough evidence to be certain that this girl didn’t freely consent to the sex, and so, for that reason, found Owen Labrie not guilty of the felony charge.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, Emily Bazelon, just to clarify, the misdemeanor conviction is because under the law a 15-year-old really cannot give consent?
EMILY BAZELON: That’s right. So, the jury could say, whether or not she consented, this is a misdemeanor offense because of the age difference between the two of them.
JEFFREY BROWN: So, Deborah Tuerkheimer, what do you see in the verdict? And tell us what kind of issues it begins to raise in the larger question.
DEBORAH TUERKHEIMER, Professor of Law, Northwestern University: Well, these are incredibly difficult cases.
As you mentioned, Jeffrey, each is different and they’re all very fact-specific. But cases like this tend to involve two different versions of events. And the jury is forced to grapple with difficult questions of credibility. I think that surely was the case here.
It seems, as Emily says, that the jury didn’t believe Owen Labrie’s account that there was no sex. At the same time, it was, I think, incredibly difficult to sort out this question of consent and whether the signals were clear enough, whether the no’s in the context of what came before and after were clear enough.
And so, for me, what’s really interesting about this trial and this case is that it centered on questions of consent. Notwithstanding the misdemeanor charges, at the heart of this case was this issue of consent, which is where rape law is moving toward, in this direction of looking at consent as the central issue.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, explain.
Emily Bazelon, you start here.
Explain to us the state of what’s understood and what’s still confusing about consent. We all know the phrase no means no. We hear more about an affirmative consent. We still hear about the possible role of force in these cases.
What can we say that we know at this point, and what’s still confusing?
EMILY BAZELON: In New Hampshire, it counts as rape to have sex with someone who doesn’t freely consent. And that was what was at issue in this trial, as Deborah was making clear.
In many states, however, the prosecution has an additional burden of proof and has to show that force was used in the sexual act. And whether that is still the appropriate legal standard in this time where we really have focused on consent, I think, is an open question. These statutes to me seem quite outdated.
What you can see in this case, however, where consent was at issue, is how difficult it is to know what happened between two people in a private space, where no one else was there.
JEFFREY BROWN: But that means — Deborah Tuerkheimer, that means that, in different states, you can get very different results, even when the facts are clear or understood.
DEBORAH TUERKHEIMER: Right, and in many states, this case would never have come to a trial. No prosecutor would be able to move it forward, except, again, on the misdemeanor charges.
And that in itself is, I think, worth talking about. Is this the kind of case that we want to see go forward, and at least put it to a jury to resolve these questions of credibility?
JEFFREY BROWN: What about, Deborah Tuerkheimer, the issue of affirmative consent, where a yes is required, as opposed to a no means no? How much has that standard come to be accepted at this point?
DEBORAH TUERKHEIMER: Well, the standard is it increasingly accepted on college campuses, where the yes means yes, affirmative consent movement has had considerable attraction; 1,400 schools, maybe even more at this point, have adopted this kind of standard in their disciplinary codes, which is, of course, quite different from a criminal code, where we have really not seen this kind of movement in the direction of requiring affirmative consent, the kind of yes means yes, passivity doesn’t mean consent, the alleged victim must do something to indicate that she is willing to engage in this kind of conduct.
There, only a very small number of jurisdictions actually have this kind of definition on the books.
JEFFREY BROWN: But, Emily Bazelon, it is a moment when a lot of students are starting college or going back to school. How much do you sense an awareness of this on college campuses? What’s being done, for example, for more awareness or more prevention at this point?
EMILY BAZELON: Some schools are really trying to teach students about yes means yes and no means no, to really get them to focus on this idea that, if you’re engaging in sexual activity with someone, you should make sure that both people want to be doing what you’re doing.
I do think that cases like this help drive home the message that there is risk here for boys and men, as well as girls and women, a reason to look out for yourself, a possibility of a prosecution like this. And so that’s something hopefully students will take to heart.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, then, of course, we’re taking about college.
But then, Deborah Tuerkheimer, in the case like today, we’re talking about a high school. It’s a prep school, so maybe a specialized kind of case. But how much of all that we’re talking about, the awareness — at the college level, for example, do you have any sense of how much that has filtered to high schools, administrators, people in charge that can — are maybe making students aware of it?
DEBORAH TUERKHEIMER: My sense is that the conversation is at an earlier stage of its evolution when it comes to this issue on high school campuses, as opposed to college campuses.
But it’s, of course, really important that we be talking about this. And the younger the population, I think, the greater, in some respects, the likelihood that these kinds of cases are going to come to the fore if we’re open to seeing them.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, and the one brief last question, Emily Bazelon.
Is that the area where the law follows the culture when you see what’s happening around different states or even in a national level? What leads the conversation or the action?
EMILY BAZELON: You know, that’s such a good question. They tend to take turns or move in tandem with each other.
I think, right now, the culture is ahead of the law, in the sense that the culture is very much about this question of consent, and legal statutes can take time to rewrite and to be reenacted. And so I think we have a number of states that have lagged behind the cultural conversation, and it’s time for the law to catch up.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, thank you both very much, Emily Bazelon and Deborah Tuerkheimer. Thanks so much.
DEBORAH TUERKHEIMER: Thank you.
EMILY BAZELON: Thanks for having us.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: That brings us, appropriately, to our look at what’s happened to New Orleans’ schools over the course of the past decade and the big changes that they have undergone.
It’s a story we have reported on closely throughout.
Tonight, John Tulenko of Education Week, which produces stories for the NewsHour, has our report.
JOHN TULENKO: As you can see, in parts of New Orleans, life seems to be getting back to normal 10 years after Katrina. But many folks are wondering about the public schools. For the last 10 years, they have been engaged in what some have called the most ambitious experiment ever in public education. And whether or not it’s working depends on whom you ask.
WOMAN: I do see improvement in the kids and in the schools.
JOHN TULENKO: Is it working?
WOMAN: The charter system has done tremendously well for the local kids here.
WOMAN: It’s working for those who have their money, their hand in the cookie jar.
MAN: I think they are better than they were 10 years ago.
JOHN TULENKO: Ten years ago, New Orleans’ public schools were headed for rock bottom. Fewer than a third of eighth graders could pass a reading test. And corruption was so deep, the FBI had set up an office inside the school administration building.
Patrick Dobard, who oversees the schools today, remembers those days.
PATRICK DOBARD, Superintendent, Recovery School District: Orleans Parish School Board at that time, unfortunately, it was really academically and in some instances morally and financially bankrupt.
And then Katrina came. When you have a catastrophe like that, it is an opportunity to start anew, because a lot of the institutional barriers, both real and perceived, were literally and figuratively, unfortunately, washed away.
JOHN TULENKO: Seizing the moment, the state took control of the city’s failing schools. Pink slips were sent to all 5,000 teachers and the state set out to remake New Orleans as a city where nearly all the schools would be independently run charters. Local school officials were no longer in charge.
MAN: I will know you’re ready because your eyes will be just on me. Thank you so much.
JOHN TULENKO: Some charters split up the boys and girls. Others focused on the arts. Most introduced uniforms and strict rules, and all were to be held accountable for results.
PATRICK DOBARD: And then you have a five-year contract. And if you don’t meet the terms of that contract, we have the ability to not allow you to continue in existence.
JOHN TULENKO: Charters were new and different. And it took some getting used to for parents like Cheryl Griffin.
CHERYL GRIFFIN, Parent: The first time I came to a meeting here, I’m going to tell you the truth, I was like, what kind of crap is this bojangle? What are they doing? I am not going to be a part of this. And so when I really got it, when I see that Summer got it this way, I said well, that’s the process. The process is to get it. She loves it.
MICHAEL FRANKLIN, Parent: Definitely, the environment is safe. Definitely, the teachers — I mean, they have excellent teachers. They have more things for kids to do.
JOHN TULENKO: Michael Franklin is another parent the charters won over.
MICHAEL FRANKLIN: With the charter school systems, there’s more creative thinking. I think there’s more creative exploration as far as helping kids and ways to get kids to meet their — to achieve their potential.
JOHN TULENKO: New schools were opening every year and the results were promising.
MAN: We went up in every grade in every subject. Congratulations.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JOHN TULENKO: Today, graduation rates have climbed from 54 percent to 73 percent. Test scores are substantially higher, and more students are enrolling in college.
For some, New Orleans has become a model of urban school reform.
PATRICK DOBARD: When I think about, nationally, people looking at it, it makes me realize how big this is, because what we’re doing is extremely different and progressive, but it’s also, in my mind, like the fundamental things we should be doing across this nation regardless.
JOHN TULENKO: But there is another side to this story. Some say charter schools, operating with little oversight, have succeeded by bending the rules in their favor.
WOMAN: So, your shoes cannot have gray on them. Must be all white or all black.
JOHN TULENKO: Critics point in particular to school discipline codes, which charters write themselves.
ASHANA BIGARD, Parent: The rules — like, a lot of the schools have rules called like willful disobedience, right, which is subjective. It’s anything I want it to be.
JOHN TULENKO: For 10 years, Ashana Bigard has been helping parents navigate the schools here. Her daughters attended local charter schools.
ASHANA BIGARD: So willful disobedience could be anything from you not tracking the teacher with your eyes to being perceived as coughing too much in the classroom.
JOHN TULENKO: The punishment for that is what?
ASHANA BIGARD: A lot of times, suspension.
MAN: If you’re meeting these expectations, you’re going to be stepping out of this room, and you might not come back to this room.
ANTONIO TRAVIS, New Orleans: They wasn’t interested in trying to help a problem child. I would say that. They wasn’t interested in trying to — in seeing what your issue was at home or why you are coming to school and why you’re having a bad day. It was five days and go home.
JOHN TULENKO: Antonio Travis says five-day suspensions for minor infractions were the norm at his charter school.
Did you see the students in your class start to disappear?
ANTONIO TRAVIS: Yes, most definitely. From numerous amounts of suspensions, parents would just get tired of it and just take them out of school.
JOHN TULENKO: Just two years ago, some charters were suspending 40 percent or more of their students.
ASHANA BIGARD: They want to have great test scores. If you’re a low tester and I really want to get you out of my school, one of the tools that I have seen used is suspension.
JOHN TULENKO: While some charge students were being pushed out, others claim their kids couldn’t even get a foot in the door.
SUE BORDELON, Parent: The first time we went and applied at a charter after Katrina, what I heard was, oh, we can’t — we can’t accommodate him.
JOHN TULENKO: Sue Bordelon’s son, Clarke, has autism.
SUE BORDELON: And this was repeated over and over at every charter school we went to.
JOHN TULENKO: Parents of students with disabilities took their claims to court and won stricter oversight and regulation.
But even before the lawsuit, state officials had begun to reassert control over charter schools, starting with a new centralized system for admissions.
PATRICK DOBARD: Within our central enrollment system, it’s agnostic and doesn’t know whether or not the kid has a disability. So, schools, once you get a kid in a school, the child is assigned to the school, you have to serve that kid.
JOHN TULENKO: The approach to discipline is also changing. Any expulsions must now be approved by the state.
But what about suspensions?
ASHANA BIGARD: Oh, they can suspend as much as they want. And if you’re 14 or 15, 16 and you’re on suspension every two weeks, every two weeks, after awhile, you’re not going to come back to school.
JOHN TULENKO: Charters point to declining suspension rates as evidence they’re not pushing students out. To keep kids in school and address behavior, some are bringing in more counselors. It’s a start, but there’s hard work ahead.
PATRICK DOBARD: I think the next 10 to 15 years is literally around mental health interventions that we could put in place. Like, do we need more than school psychologists? Maybe we need psychiatrists.
Those are the things that traditionally haven’t been, like, the main focus of schools, but we have to look at that.
JOHN TULENKO: The difficult work of school reform has also made New Orleans look within.
PATRICK DOBARD: We have to have like a federalist type of oversight. Government has to play a role and make sure that all students are being served well.
But then, within that framework, we want to be able to give like individual rights to charters, much like states’ rights. That’s in essence what we’re building.
JOHN TULENKO: Whether charters schools can deliver on their promise to provide quality education to all students here remains to be seen.
In New Orleans, I’m John Tulenko of Education Week, reporting for the PBS NewsHour.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, we conclude our weeklong series on how New Orleans and parts of the Gulf Coast are faring 10 years after Hurricane Katrina hit.
This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of when the storm struck, and in the days after, when the levees broke, leaving the city flooded.
President George W. Bush, whose response to Katrina was roundly criticized, returned to New Orleans today. He praised the city’s recovery and resilience in a speech at a charter high school that he said captured the school system’s turnaround.
GEORGE W. BUSH, Former President of the United States: The ground we’re on today was underwater. All of us who are old enough to remember will never forget the images of our fellow Americans amid a sea of misery and ruin.
We will always remember the lives lost across the Gulf Coast. Their memories are in our hearts, and I hope you pray for their families. In a cruel twist, Hurricane Katrina brought despair during what should have been a season of hope: the start of a new school year.
The students who had recently gone back to school suddenly had no school to go back to. Many had nowhere to live. The floodwaters, as you all know better than most, claimed schools and homes alike.
But I hope you remember what I remember, and that was the thousands who came here on a volunteer basis to provide food for the hungry and to help find shelter for those who had no home to live in. One of the groups that stepped forward to serve were the educators of New Orleans.
At a time when it would have been easy to walk away from the wreckage, the educators here today thought of the children who would be left behind. You understood that bringing New Orleans back to life requires getting students back to school.
And even though some of the educators had lost almost everything you owned, you let nothing stand in your way. Today, we celebrate the resurgence of New Orleans’ schools. We honor the resilience of a great American city whose levees gave out, but whose people never gave up.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s more tragedy to report tonight as desperate refugees and migrants continue to make their way toward and through Europe. Hundreds are feared dead just off the coast of Libya, and the number of victims found dead in a truck in Austria rose to more than 70.
Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News reports.
LINDSEY HILSUM: The first coffins of the 71 people found dead in a truck at the roadside yesterday may be the only time they have been treated with dignity in weeks, 59 men, eight women, four children amongst the bodies of Syrian identity documents.
HANS PETER DOSKOZIL, Burgenland Police Chief (through interpreter): We have confirmed that the insulating layer on the sides of the truck didn’t allow any air to pass through. We can neither rule in or out whether they insured that air came through the cooling system or the roof. I believe that, most likely, the people in this lorry suffocated.
LINDSEY HILSUM: The truck passed no border controls when it entered Austria from Hungary because both countries are in the E.U. Schengen Area.
JOHANNA MIKL-LEITNER, Austrian Interior Minister: I think the solution is not to make more border checks. I think the best solution is to find easier ways to Europe, because on the one side, you can protect the refugees. On the other side, it is the best in the fight against the criminals.
LINDSEY HILSUM: This morning’s scenes on the Libyan coast make that appear even less likely. Up to 200 people drowned from two boats trying to reach Italy. Deaths at sea, deaths in a refrigerated truck, coffins or body bags, it’s primarily Eritreans Africans who set out from Libya, but Syrians were also amongst those rescued yesterday.
AYAMN TALAAL, Migrant (through interpreter): We have been forced to take this route. It’s called the route of death. We now call it the graveyard of the Mediterranean.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Such images do little to prick the conscience of those who believe Europe can neither absorb migrants seeking a better life, nor refugees fleeing conflict. But this morning at Austria’s overcrowded refugee camp at Traiskirchen, just south of Vienna, we found volunteers bringing aid.
WOMAN: We want to do something, not only talking, not only listening, not only reading on Facebook and all that social media, doing, helping.
WOMAN: So, we asked our friends if they have clothes, spare clothes, because people are collecting things in their homes and actually here they could use.
LINDSEY HILSUM: The building, once the imperial artillery cadet school, was converted in 1956 to house Hungarians fleeing the Soviets. Now it’s sheltering people fleeing through, not from Hungary. Since Amnesty criticized the conditions in which nearly 5,000 refugees live, individual Austrians have started to help.
WOMAN: People here are very, very, very good. They respect Syria, and they give us many help, from clothes and the — anywhere — anything we want.
LINDSEY HILSUM: That’s good.
LINDSEY HILSUM: So what is your dream? What are you hoping to do?
WOMAN: Dream? I hope to study here, because, in Syria, I was studying mechanical engineering, yes, power engineering. Yes? And I hope to complete my university here.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Across Europe, not least here in Austria, politicians fear anti-immigrant pressure groups, hence the tough anti-foreigner talk. But there are other voices, other views.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Lindsey Hilsum reporting.
Today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that European Union ministers will be looking into rapid changes to the asylum system.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The United Nations refugee agency announced a striking figure today: The number of refugees and migrants making the dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossing to reach Europe this year has now passed the 300,000 mark. That’s more than 40 percent higher than the record number who made the crossing in all of 2014.
And that number doesn’t include the 2,600 people who have died this year on the journey. We will have an on-the-ground report on this growing crisis right after the news summary.
A U.S. government program that collects the telephone data of millions of Americans can continue for the next few months. That was the ruling of a panel of federal appeals court judges today that favored the Obama administration’s position on the NSA surveillance program. The program expires in November and Congress has passed legislation to replace it with a new program.
For more on the ruling and what it means, I’m joined by Devlin Barrett of The Wall Street Journal.
So, what was it that the judges were asked to rule on?
DEVLIN BARRETT, The Wall Street Journal: Well, the — a lower court judge found that the program was almost certainly unconstitutional, and the government appealed that decision.
What this panel said today was, they reversed that lower court finding, in the sense that they said, look, we’re not — we’re going to overturn what’s called a preliminary injunction. We’re not going to let that stand. And we’re going to toss the case back to lower court judge.
And so now that judge has to make some more findings of fact. But what the judges also did, beside just sending it back to the judge, they said they have a lot of skepticism about whether the person who is suing can prove that his phone records were taken as part of this program.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So what’s the practical effect of this? What does this mean for the NSA and whether it can continue this collection of the so-called metadata?
DEVLIN BARRETT: Right.
Well, that collection in its current form is only going to continue until the end of November under a law that was passed the summer.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Anyway?
DEVLIN BARRETT: Right.
So, to a certain extent, what you’re seeing is, the lawyers and judges on each side of this issue in some sense getting their last licks in on this issue before a lot of it becomes moot anyway. But, until then, there are still going to be fights both in courts in New York and in courts in D.C. about whether any of this was ever legal.
And certainly the privacy groups would love to get a ruling, more rulings that say, no, it wasn’t. But, in the meantime, just this week, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said, yes, this program is still legal and will continue until the end of November, per the law, and it is not a violation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, does the fact, though, that three appellate judges have now held the way they have, does that weigh the scales in one way or the other, do you think, more on whether this collection is constitutional?
DEVLIN BARRETT: At this point, both sides have a bunch of rulings that they can point to that back up their claims. There is an equally important appeals court decision in New York that says that Congress never intended for the government to ever do this when it passed the law.
So I think a lot of this is undecided. It will be interesting to see if anyone gets a decisive blow, one last blow in, before the November deadline.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Devlin Barrett of The Wall Street Journal, we thank you.
DEVLIN BARRETT: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.
Tropical Storm Erika has claimed the lives of four people after barreling through the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, and that number is expected to rise. It dumped 15 inches of rain there, triggering landslides and flooding. At least 20 people are still missing. The storm is now located south of the Dominican Republic, moving west with maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour. It’s expected to hit South Florida on Monday, where Governor Rick Scott has already declared a state of emergency.
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), Florida: We don’t know how much land it’s going to go over. We don’t know how much water we’re going to get. But, clearly, the storm track is continuing to move a little bit west.
Historically, as you know, in storms and hurricanes, we get more water in the state the more the storm track goes west.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Forecasters do anticipate that Erika will likely weaken to a tropical depression before it reaches Florida.
Greece swore in a caretaker government today, ahead of next month’s national election. The new prime minister, Vassiliki Thanou, is the first woman to run the country. Her temporary cabinet will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of several of the conditions vital to a new financial bailout by the Europeans and the IMF. Alexis Tsipras resigned only seven months into his tenure as prime minister after a revolt from within his radical-left party from those opposed to bailout terms that he agreed to.
Lawmakers in Japan set new targets for employers to hire and promote more women as managers. The rules are an attempt to close what has long been one of the starkest gender gaps of any developed country. Women currently account for only 11 percent of supervisors in Japan. The new law is effective for the next 10 years and applies to companies with more than 300 employees.
A former archbishop charged with sexual abuse of children has been found dead before he could stand trial for his alleged crimes. Jozef Wesolowski would have been the highest-ranking Vatican official to come before a tribunal. But he fell ill before the trial’s July start date. Already defrocked, he died while under house arrest in Vatican City. Initial findings indicate his death was from natural causes.
After a volatile week of trading, markets were mixed both in the U.S. and overseas today as a midweek rally faded. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 12 points to close at 16643. The Nasdaq rose more than 15 points and the S&P 500 added one point. For the week, the Dow gained more than a percent, the Nasdaq rose 2.5 percent and the S&P was up nearly 1 percent.
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Two days before Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast, Herman Clayton packed his two kids and four foster children into a van and fled New Orleans, heading north to Shreveport. Seventeen hours later, Sonia Cooper, a child welfare worker, filled two vans with 15 children, nine of them foster kids, and drove west toward Houston.
The following morning at daybreak, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. Winds exceeding 125-miles-an-hour destroyed trees, roofs and structures. Levees failed, and floodwater rose to rooftops. The storm devastated the Gulf region, killing 1,833 people and forcing more than 1.5 million to evacuate — displacing 400,000 from New Orleans alone. It also shook the Louisiana’s foster care system to its core, revealing fundamental weaknesses in its disaster plan.
In Louisiana, about 2,000 foster children lived in the path of the hurricane. And two weeks after the storm, state workers had lost track of an estimated 25 percent of these children. A month after Katrina, 158 remained unaccounted for, state officials said, according to this NPR report.
This was in part due to the fact that shelters were overwhelmed, and many of the staff who handled foster care cases were displaced, said Susan Sonnier, secretary for the state’s Department of Children and Family Services. But it also stemmed from problems in communication and monitoring. At the time of the storm, Sonnier directed Louisiana’s Children’s Cabinet and the Juvenile Justice Commission.
“It is the core mission of the department to ensure that children are safe,” Sonnier said. “What we learned in Katrina is it’s very hard to do that if you don’t know where they are.”
Meanwhile, the families of foster children who evacuated faced a number of additional challenges: among them, paying for food and shelter, accessing critical medication and getting their children back to school.
At the time of the hurricane, Sonia Cooper was program administrator of Raintree Children and Family Services, a small, non-profit foster care agency. As such, she was responsible for 57 children in residential and in-home foster care. But in the days immediately following the storm, a handful of those children remained unaccounted for.
Every day on the road, starting at 6 a.m., she and her staff began making calls. When they weren’t caring for the children who were with them, they were trying to find the others. They dialed every phone number on their list of foster parents and biological families. But the storm had knocked out cell towers in New Orleans. Most calls were met with busy signals. When they were able to connect, calls often dropped.
“We didn’t know where everybody was. We didn’t know if everybody was safe,” Cooper said.
At the same time, they were trying to care for the girls in their custody. These girls had already experienced trauma through abuse or neglect or families who couldn’t meet their needs. The storm was another layer of trauma.
Cooper vividly remembers the children’s terror during the 24-hour drive to Houston — a drive that normally takes a third of that time to complete. They’d packed enough water, sandwiches and snacks for eight hours. And when they checked into a Houston hotel, they saw on television familiar places underwater. They wondered aloud if their family members were alive.
“We wanted to be in touch with what was going on, but we were traumatizing ourselves,” Cooper recalled, adding that she still has nightmares about those early days.
No plans in place
Within days, they ran out of necessary antidepressant and antipsychotic medications for the girls. They spent an entire day inside a Houston hospital’s emergency room to refill that medication, but were unsuccessful. It would take more than a month before they could access the drugs.
Because medical care for foster children is paid for by in-state Medicaid, accessing prescription drugs was complicated, since Cooper and the girls had evacuated out of state, to Texas. This was a problem for anyone who received Medicaid coverage in Louisiana and then crossed state lines. On Sept. 16, 2005, the federal government issued a waiver that allowed states to temporarily cover Medicaid recipients that Katrina displaced.
They ran out of clothes for the girls and relied on donations from local churches. And when it became obvious that the evacuation would last far longer than three days, they were met with a new problem: how to enroll the girls in school. School records had been left in the group home.
“You had no plans in place. Nobody took the time to say, ‘If something happens, this is where you need to go, what you need to do to take care of yourself,’” Cooper said.
Two hundred miles away in San Antonio, Texas, Clayton faced his own set of obstacles. For nearly two decades, Clayton and his wife, Yvonne, had worked as family teachers with Boys Town Louisiana, a nonprofit child welfare agency. They cooked meals and gave hugs like parents but conducted group therapy and problem-solving sessions like counselors. Together, they served as mother and father figures for as many as 300 children.
Now they were on the road with 39 of those kids.
Within two weeks, they had stayed at a hotel in Shreveport, Louisiana, a campground in Marshall, Texas, another hotel in Dallas, Texas, and a converted convent in San Antonio. Even with the support of Boys Town, he and other staff struggled to find housing for everyone.
The kids were scared. Many didn’t know if their families were safe. Among them, fights broke out. Some tried to run away.
“You couldn’t say, ‘No, I’m going back home’ because there wasn’t nothing to go to,” Clayton said.
Meanwhile, Boys Town Louisiana staff in Baton Rouge checked off names on a whiteboard as they found children’s biological family members and coworkers alive, said Dennis Dillon, who had been executive director of Boys Town Louisiana for about one year when Katrina hit. They also monitored direct deposits of paychecks to see if people survived.
“There were some people who never claimed those checks,” Dillon said. “We don’t know. We didn’t get 100 percent.”
‘They showed me what family really was’
Dedera Johnson was 12 when she entered foster care with the Claytons and 17 when the storm hit.
Her childhood home was unstable. Johnson’s parents were both crack addicts; her grandmother raised her until she died in 1999. Relatives told her she’d be pregnant by the ninth grade and never finish high school. She got into fights, ran away and eventually found herself in front of a juvenile court judge.
In 2001, she was placed in the Claytons’ white, two-story group house on the corner of Louisiana Avenue and Dryades Street. It sat under oak trees about a dozen blocks from the banks of the Mississippi River. Faded purple and green beads dangled from nearby tree limbs and powerlines, reminders that the house was on a Mardi Gras parade route.
With the Claytons, Johnson and the girls learned table manners and job etiquette, attended Celebration Church in Metairie and ate special meals at Ryan’s steakhouse restaurant. Yvonne coaxed the children to eat their broccoli by telling them it would make their eyes prettier.
And Johnson no longer worried about coming home to an eviction notice or going to bed hungry.
“They showed me more love than I got anywhere ever. They showed me what family really was… At the end of the day, that’s what really matters,” Johnson said.
Johnson was on a home visit with her siblings when she heard about the hurricane brewing in the Gulf. Her mother was in jail. And during her visit, the phone rang. It was Clayton. Did Johnson want to evacuate with him or stay with her family, he wanted to know.
“I didn’t want them to leave me,” Johnson said. “I wanted to be with Mr. Herman and Mrs. Yvonne because I knew they would comfort me.”
Within the hour, Herman picked her up in an agency van. There were eight more vans just like theirs, filled with more than three dozen teenagers, connected by walkie talkies and all on their way to Shreveport. They prayed in a circle before driving away.
During the trip, she recalls hand games and bingo in the car, but also trying desperately to reach her biological family back home. She tried to call her sister, but no one picked up.
“They’re gone,” Johnson told Clayton, as she held the phone, tears streaming down her face.
Before Hurricane Katrina reached the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, more than 1 million people evacuated the region. Herman Clayton, Sonia Cooper and the foster children in their care were among those evacuees fleeing the storm. Clayton and Cooper went in different directions, but they both struggled to find a safe and stable place for the children who didn’t have anyone else to protect them. These are the routes they took before eventually returning home to New Orleans.
Are we better off today?
That summer, people from the Gulf learned to send text messages. That’s because phone systems were overwhelmed, and messages took up less bandwidth. Power outages and flooding wiped out communication for more than 3 million phone lines, along with dozens of 911 emergency call centers, the Federal Communications Commission reported. One-fifth of cell phone towers in the hardest-hit areas remained damaged a week after the storm.
“In the beginning, that was truly the crisis,” said Sonnier with the Department for Children and Family Services. People were desperate to hear from missing family members. Even Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco had trouble putting a phone call through to New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, she said.
But foster parents had their own set of challenges. They didn’t know how to report the status of their child’s safety or location to the state. Who would even answer the phone? Many of the state’s workers had evacuated. Those who stayed behind were helping the people who were stranded on rooftops and running shelters and aid, Sonnier said. They were overwhelmed.
On the day Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children helped Louisiana set up a hotline for foster care parents and providers. But few, especially in the early days, knew about the service.
“There really weren’t” formal evacuation plans in place for children in foster care, Sonnier said. “That’s why it was such a huge lesson learned.”
In the decade since, new policies have been implemented to improve the foster system’s emergency plan.
All child care workers and foster parents must submit an evacuation plan, with emergency contact information, to the state. If the storm disrupts their evacuation location, foster parents are required to inform the state of new plans. Disaster response and emergency preparedness is now a part of foster parent training, and child welfare workers train each year to maintain awareness and address staff turnover, a common problem nationwide among child welfare workers because of the job’s potential for intense stress.
But the degree to which these plans are effectively enforced is unclear. Save the Children, a children’s advocacy group, recently reported that “there does not appear to be an updated evaluation to show impact.”
“We just don’t know if we’re really better off today than we were, and that’s really concerning,”said Tanya Weinberg, a Save the Children spokesperson. “These are almost like forgotten children, and they don’t have a powerful political voice in this country. Let’s not wait until a Katrina hits your state to take action.”
The foster children lost to the state in the days after the storm were among more than 5,000 children reported missing after Hurricane Katrina.
“We weren’t prepared for the disaster to deal with displaced children,” said Robert Lowery with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “Today, we believe we are much better prepared.”
An act of Congress resulted in a national emergency family registry database to collect information about children and families to reunite them if needed after a disaster. However, inclusion is voluntary. If you don’t submit your information to the database, you can’t benefit from it.
Another major problem at the time: the helpers needed help. Often, their own homes were flooded; their own family members missing, said Gerald Mallon, executive director at the National Center for Child Welfare Excellence at Hunter College.
Denise Goodman spent nearly four years rebuilding Louisiana’s foster care system after the storm. For 30 years, Goodman has fixed broken child welfare agencies nationwide as a consultant for the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Normally, states called upon her when they faced a lawsuit, a child’s death or a budget crisis, Goodman said. This was different.
“This was the first time I had worked in a jurisdiction where a natural disaster caused the problem,” she said. “This wasn’t a manmade thing. It got people around the country to think about what would be their disaster plan for their children’s welfare system. What would happen if we had an earthquake in California? How would we make sure we find all our kids and families and respond to it?”
In Houston, Cooper’s resources were running low, and there was pressure to return to Louisiana. In late September, they drove more than 200 miles to the small Louisiana town of Natchitoches where they lived until December.
But the evacuation and instability had already taken its toll. The girls were often agitated, Cooper said. One suffered a mental breakdown. When the foster girls finally returned to New Orleans, Cooper herself wasn’t ready to return. She stayed behind with her own children.
“I cried for days. At that point, we were all family.”
As for Johnson, nearly one month after the storm, she finally made contact with her oldest sister. She had evacuated to Baltimore, Maryland with her fiance. Her other sister was in Atlanta; her brother, in Texas. They were safe.
Despite her homesickness and separation from her siblings, Johnson excelled in school in Nebraska. There, she graduated high school a year early.
But during her final year in high school, the Claytons returned to New Orleans for work and encouraged her to stay in Nebraska to finish school. She lived in group housing with two other New Orleanians who had also evacuated.
In May 2006, Boys Town flew the Claytons and her sister to watch her accept her diploma in Omaha. She was the first in her family to complete high school.
“That was one of the biggest accomplishments I ever had,” she said.
Nearly a decade later, Johnson is back in New Orleans where she raises three children, works full-time as a security guard and is pursuing her bachelor’s degree. She’s engaged to be married, and plans to start her own business as a wedding and event planner.
But the 27-year-old regrets her decision to return to New Orleans. She thinks that if she had gone elsewhere or even joined the military, she would have had more opportunities. Instead, she was 18-years-old, enrolling in college and not ready for bills and boyfriends.
“I still don’t accept changes,” she says. “I like stability, and if I have to change, I really don’t do it well.”
A lesson learned?
It’s been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina scattered thousands of foster care children across the country, and questions remain about how effectively states prepare their child welfare systems for disaster.
These plans involve complex bureaucratic agencies at the federal, state and local levels, all intended to protect society’s most vulnerable members — children who have already endured abuse, neglect and trauma and who live without their biological families.
How much accountability is built into this system? And how closely has the federal government monitored these disaster plans for foster children?
Hurricane Katrina forced Louisiana to address its fractured system of emergency preparedness and disaster response for children in foster care. What’s unclear is if the rest of the country has done the same.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is comparing tensions between the U.S. and Israel over the Iranian nuclear deal to a family feud and says he expects quick improvements in ties between the longtime allies once the accord is implemented.
“Like all families, sometimes there are going to be disagreements,” Obama said Friday in a webcast with Jewish Americans. “And sometimes people get angrier about disagreements in families than with folks that aren’t family.”
The president’s comments came as momentum for the nuclear accord grew on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers will vote next month on a resolution to disapprove of the deal. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., became the 30th senator to publicly back the agreement, saying Friday that it was a good deal for America and for allies like Israel.
If Senate Democrats can amass 41 votes in favor of the deal, they could block passage of the disapproval resolution. Obama has vowed to veto the resolution if it passes, and Democrats could hold off Republican efforts to override his veto if they get 34 votes – just four more than they have now.
The looming congressional confrontation has sparked a summer of intense debate between supporters and opponents of the nuclear accord. The deliberations have also divided Jewish Americans, with leaders of many organizations expressing concern about long-term damage to the community.
The president encouraged skeptics of the agreement to “overcome the emotions” that have infused the debate and evaluate the accord based on facts.
“I would suggest that in terms of the tone of this debate everybody keep in mind that we’re all pro-Israel,” he said. “We have to make sure that we don’t impugn people’s motives.”
While Obama was measured in his remarks Friday, he has spoken passionately about the nuclear accord in the past, accusing those who oppose the deal of supporting war over diplomacy. Earlier Friday, his spokesman equated an anti-deal rally Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz plan to hold next month to a “pro-war rally.”
Obama also infuriated congressional Republicans earlier this month when he compared opponents of the agreement to Iranian hardliners who chant “Death to America” in the streets of Tehran.
Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Friday that Republicans were still waiting for the president to retract that assertion.
The U.S. negotiated alongside Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China for nearly two years before finalizing a landmark accord to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.
As he has in previous speeches and interviews, Obama sought to refute criticism of the accord point by point. He disputed the notion that Iran would funnel the bulk of the money it receives from the sanctions relief into terrorism, saying Iranian leaders are more likely to try to bolster their weak economy. He also said the agreement wasn’t built on trusting Iran’s government, which frequently spouts anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric.
“It’s precisely because we’re not counting on the nature of the regime to change that it’s so important for us to make sure they don’t have a nuclear weapon,” he said.
Friday’s webcast was hosted by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and The Jewish Federations of North America. Organizers said thousands of people participated and questions submitted online were selected by the moderators.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the fiercest critics of the nuclear agreement, took part in a similar webcast hosted by the same organizations earlier this month. While Obama and Netanyahu have never had a warm relationship, the U.S. president’s pursuit of diplomacy with Iran has deeply strained ties between the leaders.
Obama said once the nuclear accord is implemented, he expects “pretty quick” improvements in U.S.-Israeli relations. He called for resuming talks with Israel over ways to boost its security in a dangerous neighborhood.
In the weeks following completion of the nuclear deal, Israeli officials have resisted discussing increased security assistance with the U.S. because they say such talks would imply acceptance of the accord.
The post Obama: U.S. relations with Israel will improve with Iran deal in place appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
CHARLESTON, S.C. — If there was ever a week for the Republican presidential candidates to talk tough on China, this was it. Spurred by the stock market’s wild ride, they lashed out at the world’s most populous nation.
Wisconsin’s Scott Walker demanded that President Barack Obama cancel an upcoming state visit with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Mike Huckabee said the next president should “build America’s economy, not China’s or Mexico’s.” Donald Trump said the U.S. economy needs to “do a big uncoupling pretty soon, before it’s too late.”
It’s rhetoric that doesn’t always square with the realities of the relationship between the world’s two largest economies, said experts on America’s ties with China, even if it does make for nifty campaign sound bites.
“When you’re in the early phases of the primary season, and you don’t have a lot in the way of foreign policy bona fides, a surefire applause line is to go to the extreme – and in the case of China that’s always a very easy thing to do,” said Jon Huntsman, a former Republican governor of Utah and U.S. ambassador to China under Obama.
No candidate went further than Trump, whose pledge to bring back to the U.S. the roughly 2 million jobs lost to China since 1999 is a centerpiece of his campaign. “Not only now have they taken our jobs … but now they are pulling us down with them,” he said Monday amid a worldwide swoon in stock prices.
But “uncoupling” the U.S. from China as Trump proposes would mean undoing the largest trade relationship in the world: $592 billion in goods and services were exchanged last year. While most of that consists of U.S. imports of Chinese products, China is still the United States’ third-largest export market.
General Motors has sold more cars in China than in the U.S. every year since 2010. Apple’s second-largest market for its iPhones, iPads and computers is China. Said Apple CEO Tim Cook this week, “I get updates on our performance in China every day.”
“It would basically be economic suicide to cut yourself off from the second-largest and fastest-growing economy in the world,” said Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Walker said Obama needs to have some “backbone” and call off the planned visit of China’s Xi next month – a response, he said, to China’s “increasing attempts to undermine U.S. interests.”
But the Wisconsin governor didn’t say how he would settle issues between the nations without such face-to-face meetings. Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the non-partisan Center for Strategic and International Studies, called Walker’s idea “the nuclear option” of diplomacy.
“You can’t just close the door and take your toys and go home,” she said. “That’s not the way that effective international policy is made.”
Glaser said the U.S.-China relationship is best managed by meetings between the chief executives of the two nations, due in no small part to the immense power Xi wields in Beijing.
“If we can persuade Xi Jinping to do something, it will happen,” she said. “That’s actually quite different from a democratic country.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio didn’t go as far as Walker, arguing instead to downgrade Xi’s upcoming trip to a “working visit” – keeping the face-to-face meetings, but scrapping the public pomp and circumstance.
“This is an opportunity to speak bluntly to this authoritarian ruler and achieve meaningful progress,” Rubio said Friday in a speech outlining his proposed approach to the U.S.-China relationship. He called for bolstering the American military presence in the Pacific, pushing for more free trade and holding the Chinese government accountable on human rights.
The Republicans running in 2016, if successful in winning the White House, won’t be the first to talk tough on China only to face the realities of the relationship once in the Oval Office. It’s something Democrats have done, too.
Peter Feaver, a former National Security Council aide to both President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton, recalled Clinton in 1992 calling the Chinese government “the butchers of Beijing” – a reference to the crackdown on student protesters in Tiananmen Square. By the end of his first term, Clinton had bestowed “most-favored-nation” status on China, further cementing the two nations’ trade relationship.
Glaser said the GOP candidates likely will persist with tough talk on China, because there is no political incentive to do otherwise. Labor unions dislike many international trade deals. American businesses are increasingly disenchanted with China’s own protectionist policies. Non-governmental organizations decry its human rights record.
Huntsman said that when he addressed China in serious terms on the campaign trail while running for the Republican nomination in 2012, “it was a huge negative.” Bashing China is a predictable way to win applause, he said.
“But once you get through the primaries, it doesn’t leave you with anything. In fact you are in a hole,” Huntsman said. “We ought to start from the beginning talking reality, in ways the American people can understand how truly great the stakes are.”
The post Experts say Republican candidates’ rhetoric on China overlooks reality appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
It’s estimated that thousands of people refused to evacuate New Orleans in advance of Hurricane Katrina for one reason: they weren’t willing to leave their dogs or cats behind.
At the time, most State and Federal rescue organizations had no formal policy on evacuating animals during disasters, and so many people in need of help were faced with a harrowing choice: they could be saved, but only if they left their animals behind.
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According to Science editor David Grimm, the fact that many people died in the floods because they wouldn’t leave their animals behind — as well as the sight of hundreds of abandoned cats and dogs after the flood waters receded — prompted major changes to state and federal laws regarding the evacuation of pets during disasters.
Inspired by Grimm’s reporting for BuzzFeed, and in his book “Citizen Canine,” the NewsHour’s William Brangham and Justin Scuiletti tell the story of those who lived through the storm.
The post How did Katrina change how we evacuate pets from disaster? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
LORNE LAURANT, DISPLACED BY HURRICANE KATRINA: My name is Lorne Laurant. I’m 46 years old.
We are in Georgetown, Texas. I never would’ve imagined that, you know, we would be here in Texas, of all places, you know.
I work at a restaurant, The Roaring Fork.
I do miss New Orleans, all the time. All the old places that I hung out with, all the childhood friends that I met, you know, because basically here I just, I have my wife, I have the kids, but there are still a lot of memories and family in New Orleans.
I am split between two places.
For me, New Orleans is my — it’s my heart. My family has been in New Orleans for generations. It wasn’t until Katrina that everyone sort of separated. Some folks are in Mississippi, some are in Alabama, Florida. You know, everyone’s scattered about a bit.
At the time, I was working for both House of Blues and for, you know, the U.S. Postal Service. And I was doing well, you know. Made great money, we were able to take our trips, our vacations, you know, and I mean it was just, it was a good time. And when I think back to then, I don’t remember really wanting or needing anything, you know what I’m saying?
It’s like — it seemed like everything was perfect. We had the babies; it was just a happy life back then, you know?
Well, I mean, we’re happy still. But it’s not the same happy, you know?
LAURANT (on video): Jesus, follow this man.
I remember my last day. My last day was, what? A Saturday. Lovee (ph) was calling me on the phone freaking out because the storm was coming. Calling me: leave work, leave work, leave work.
So I mean, I made sure that I got off pretty early. Came home, packed up very lightly, very lightly. I mean, literally all I took was, like, two pairs of jeans, two t-shirts, and some flip flops. That was it, and we left.
Home sweet home, baby. This was the living room. The water wasn’t very high — we got maybe a foot in here. But you can see all the walls.
Just got the bathrooms done. New walls, new floors, all this was just done. Like a couple of months ago.
This is nasty. This is nasty. I don’t want to touch this stuff.
There’s papers in the drawers here that I got to get, like important papers that Lovee (ph) got from my dad.
All right, cool. Yep, this is his ring. Yep, she’d definitely want that.
Tristan (ph) was like “Bring back my books, bring back my toys”. There’s really not much more we can take. I mean, his school supplies, he can use those later on. I was just glad my wife ain’t here. She’d break down in tears.
Like, for the past couple of days, couple of weeks, I’d just miss home. I’d just miss coming home to my house. I miss walking inside and plopping down in front of the television, you know, and I just miss home. You know, bringing the kids out in the backyard to play on the swing set, you know. Just the small things.
But there’s no way in the world that, you know, we’re going to go through gutting it out. No, we’re pretty much done here.
LAURANT: It’s been almost 10 years since Katrina and I’d say that my life is — my life is still pretty difficult. My wife and I, for a long time, were dealing with post-traumatic stress and, you know, we’d snap at each other and argue and just didn’t understand why we felt the way that we felt.
Katrina, to me, it was sort of like our 9/11. It just shook us to the core.
JANNA FIRMIN, DISPLACED BY HURRICANE KATRINA: My name is Janna Firmin and I live in Pearl River, Louisiana, now.
I right now live with my daughter Marly (ph) and my son Noah (ph) and my boyfriend Sean (ph). I’ve been here for about two and a half years.
I really feel like this apartment in Pearl River, it’s — it’s a grounding spot and this is honestly the first time that I’d felt that since Katrina.
I really like the peacefulness of Pearl River. I really like the quietness and the serenity. It’s a big change from the city.
It’s still empty in a lot of ways because, you know, the life that I knew is no more and I miss that and it hurts a lot.
God’s given me a whole lot of second chances so I really appreciate just the simple things, like a quiet cup of coffee in the morning with a simple book in the evening.
Shortly before Katrina, my dad died, and then Katrina happened, and then everything that I knew, you know, school, work, house, family, like it was just completely annihilated.
I feel like I was blindsided. Everything changed. Everything was just ripped away in an instant.
FIRMIN (on video): My house was only about a block away from where the levee had broke on the 17th Street canal.
I lived in my house with my little girl Marly (ph), who’s 7, and my little boy Russell (ph), who’s 2. And I took basically a backpack of clothes for me and the kids and I left.
If there’s anything to bring back out.
OK, this is where we kind of have to get in. This is what I heard, anyway; this is where you have to get in.
Oh my god.
Oh my Jeezum — look at my room! You can’t even get in it. Holy — holy, holy Lord.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my god.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your bathroom’s soaked. Damn.
FIRMIN: Oh my gracious. I can’t even bel — begin. There’s no way I’m going in there. Wow. Wow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can’t even get in here. Let me get out of your way.
FIRMIN: OK. This is — like I honestly thought I was going to be able to get my dresser and like grab a couple of things off that I had left back here, like a little tiny jewelry box and whatnot. Wait, look. Here’s the jewelry box that I wanted to get. I don’t think I’ll be wearing any of that jewelry anymore.
Yeah, my daddy got me that jewelry box before he passed away. Too bad I didn’t take it with me, huh.
Here’s another jewelry box that was on my dresser. Woo. OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you fall, I’m not picking you up.
FIRMIN: Man, I just — I’m so — I can’t take this stuff because it’s just too toxic. I would love to but I can’t. I can’t do it.
Even though it’s just material stuff, it is a loss. It’s almost like a death. It’s a huge loss that you have to filter and deal with and it’s really weird. It’s hard to process all of this stuff.
I have to admit, this is way worse than I thought it was going to be. Like, I knew it was going to be really bad, but wow.
I left town with a box of pictures, a couple of poetry books, and that’s pretty much it. So I lost every else.
Good gracious. Stuff that I had hanging on my wall is in my bathtub. Shoes are in my bathtub.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) pictures anyway.
FIRMIN: Katrina is definitely still haunting, it really is. But I’m not sure if it will ever completely go away because it was very much like a death, the death of an entire city, almost. And everything that I knew.
Yeah, I’m still — I still don’t think, ten years later, that I’ve learned to deal with it.
The post ‘I just miss home': Two stories of life after Katrina appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
SHAUNA SANFORD: 92-year-old Leah Chase has served up creole cuisine at her restaurant, Dooky Chase, for nearly 70 years. But 10 years ago, Hurricane Katrina destroyed her livelihood.
LEAH CHASE: Nobody knew what to do. Eighty percent of the city under water, what you gonna do? Where you gonna go? What’s your next move? You don’t know. So, it was frightening.
SHAUNA SANFORD: For decades, Dooky Chase — named after her father-in-law — was the restaurant in New Orleans’ historically black Treme district, serving Po’ Boy sandwiches, gumbo, greens, fried chicken and seafood.
I went to Dooky Chase’s to get something to eat.
LEAH CHASE: Ray Charles – this was Ray’s place. We used to stay open ‘til four in the morning, and then, you see, we’d get all the musicians when they get off.
Lena Horne always liked her fried chicken. Sarah Vaughan was a sweetheart, and she liked stuffed crabs. Well you see, my husband was a musician, and he knew all I did was feed those people when they came through.
SHAUNA SANFORD: In the segregated South, Chase’s was a safe place for civil rights activists to meet.
LEAH CHASE: People came before integration, because if they had to meet with Black people, they either met in church, or they met here. You know, sometimes you can do a lot over food. In New Orleans, we do a lot over food.
SHAUNA SANFORD: Katrina was the worst storm the city and Chase experienced in 40 years.
LEAH CHASE: In 1965, when we had Bessie, I saw that down there; it was terrible. But that was one section. This time, there was water all over. I had never in my life seen anything like this. Before the Hurricane came, we were working hard, really working hard. And here comes Katrina, and now overnight you have no place.
SHAUNA SANFORD: Chase, her children, and her sister lost their homes. Buildings across the street from the restaurant were boarded up. Chase decided to stay and rebuild.
LEAH CHASE: But people say , ‘What you going back for? What’s there to do?’ You know, we had to build this city back. I had nowhere else to live. Thank goodness they gave me a trailer. At least I had a place to sleep. You know, the trailer wasn’t the best thing in the world but, you know I came through the Depression, honey, so you know (laughs) anything is good. I can lay my head anywhere as long as I had shelter over it.
SHAUNA SANFORD: After taking on five feet of water, the restaurant closed for two years. It never crossed Chase’s mind not to re-open.
But it cost $500,000 and insurance only covered part of the tab. Donations covered the rest.
LEAH CHASE: The biggest challenge was getting this work done. I thought I could never get it done. But I had a whole lot of help. And I’m so blessed because a lot of people didn’t have that help.
SHAUNA SANFORD: Most days, you can find her in the kitchen at 8 in the morning. If you have the energy, she says, you are supossed to work and make a difference.
LEAH CHASE: “You learn what’s important. You learn how to live — how to live with one another. You learn how to do things when you have to do them.”
The post Legendary New Orleans chef rebuilds neighborhood institution appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — With melting glaciers and rising seas as his backdrop, President Barack Obama will visit Alaska next week to press for urgent global action to combat climate change, even as he carefully calibrates his message in a state heavily dependent on oil.
Obama will become the first sitting president to visit the Alaska Arctic when he travels to Kotzebue – population around 3,000 – just north of the Arctic Circle at the end of his three-day trip. He’ll kick off the visit Monday with a speech to a State Department-hosted conference on climate change and the Arctic.
The unambiguous goal of the president’s trip is to use dramatic and alarming changes to Alaska’s climate to instill fresh urgency into his global warming agenda. Sea ice is melting, critical permafrost is thawing and Alaska’s cherished glaciers are liquefying – powerful visuals that Obama hopes will illustrate the threat to natural wonders and livelihoods and serve as a global call to action.
“This is all real,” Obama said in his weekly address released Saturday. “This is happening to our fellow Americans right now.”
Yet Obama has taken steps that show he’s cautiously navigating the competing environmental and energy interests at play. A few weeks ago, his administration gave Royal Dutch Shell a final permit to drill into oil-bearing rock off Alaska’s northwest coast for the first time in more than two decades.
“The president has made great strides in protecting the Arctic, but we are really disappointed with this decision,” said Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska director for The Wilderness Society. “This is a point where we disagree.”
For many Alaskans, though, the issue comes down to dollars and cents. Both the state government and its residents rely deeply on oil revenues to stay afloat, and falling oil prices have already created a serious budget deficit.
Brian Deese, Obama’s senior adviser, sought to strike a balance between Alaska’s economics needs and the president’s goal to eventually phase out fossil fuels. “That’s a transition that is not going to happen overnight,” Deese said. In the meantime, he added, “oil and gas will remain important parts of our overall energy mix.”
Ahead of Obama’s visit, state Republican leaders emphasized the need for more energy development and urged Obama not to exploit the state’s stunning scenery for political purposes. Sen. Dan Sullivan warned that any national or ocean monument designations “will go over like a lead balloon” among Alaska’s Democrats and Republicans alike.
“What there’s concern about is that he’s going to use Alaska as some green screen for climate change, when he doesn’t take the opportunity to dig into other issues that are important to Alaskans, important to the country,” Sullivan said in an interview.
Obama has been investing time on an unfinished global climate treaty that nations hope to finalize in December, as he works to secure his environmental legacy before his presidency ends. The president has pledged a U.S. cut in greenhouse gas emissions of up to 28 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, and plans to use the Alaska visit to build public pressure on other nations to commit to similarly ambitious measures.
After arriving in Anchorage on Monday afternoon, Obama plans to meet with Alaska Natives before addressing the Arctic climate resilience summit, dubbed GLACIER, which involves Arctic and non-Arctic leaders, scientists, environmental advocates and the energy industry. Secretary of State John Kerry, a key player in the climate treaty talks, also plans to speak.
In an unusual presidential photo-op, Obama will travel Tuesday to Seward, on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, where the Exit Glacier is retreating in what environmentalists say is a dramatic sign of warming temperatures. After hiking to the glacier, Obama is to board a U.S. Coast Guard vessel to tour Kenai Fjords National Park.
His visit continues Wednesday in Dillingham, in southwest Alaska, where Obama will meet with fishermen locked in an ongoing conflict with miners over plans to build a massive gold and copper mine in Bristol Bay, home to the world’s largest salmon fishery. Then he’ll fly north to Kotzebue, a regional hub in the Alaska Arctic, where Obama will focus on the plight of rural, native villages where livelihoods are threatened by encroaching climate change.
While in Alaska, Obama is likely to face calls from Democrats and environmentalists to restrict Arctic drilling and to renew his request to Congress to make more of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, off-limits as well. Republicans and energy advocates planned to urge the president to clear the way for more drilling.
Aside from brief campaign stops, few presidents have spent significant time in Alaska. President Warren Harding, shortly before his death in 1923, toured nine Alaska communities in three parts of the state.
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LOS ANGELES — Results for some of the states that participated in Common Core-aligned testing for the first time this spring are out, with overall scores higher than expected though still below what many parents may be accustomed to seeing.
Full or preliminary scores have been released for Connecticut, Idaho, Missouri, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. They all participated in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two groups of states awarded $330 million by the U.S. Department of Education in 2010 to develop exams to test students on the Common Core state standards in math and English language arts.
Scores in four other states that developed their own exams tied to the standards have been released. The second testing group, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is still setting benchmarks for each performance level and has not released any results.
Even when all the results are available, it will not be possible to compare student performance across a majority of states, one of Common Core’s fundamental goals.
What began as an effort to increase transparency and allow parents and school leaders to assess performance nationwide has largely unraveled, chiefly because states are dropping out of the two testing groups and creating their own exams.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told state leaders in 2010 that the new tests would “help put an end to the insidious practice of establishing 50 different goal posts for educational success.”
“In the years ahead, a child in Mississippi will be measured against the same standard of success as a child in Massachusetts,” Duncan said.
Massachusetts and Mississippi students did take the PARCC exam this year. But Mississippi’s Board of Education has voted to withdraw from the consortium for all future exams.
“The whole idea of Common Core was to bring students and schools under a common definition of what success is,” said Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “And Common Core is not going to have that. One of its fundamental arguments has been knocked out from under it.”
No Child Left Behind, President George W. Bush’s signature education law, requires states to test students each year in math and reading in grades three to eight and again in high school. Congress has been debating ways to overhaul the law. The House and Senate have approved differing versions this summer that would maintain the testing requirement but let states decide how to use the results.
The Common Core-aligned tests fulfill the federal requirement, yet are significantly different from the exam that students are accustomed to taking.
Rather than paper-and-pencil multiple choice tests, the new exams are designed to be taken by tablet or computer. Instead of being given a selection of answers to choose, students must show how they got their answer. Answer correctly and get a more difficult question. Answer incorrectly, get an easier one.
Field tests administered last year indicated that a majority of students would not score as proficient in math and reading on the tests. So this summer, states have braced for the results, meeting with parents and principals to explain why the results will be different.
At Los Angeles Unified School District, Cynthia Lim, executive director of the Office of Data and Accountability, said the preliminary results received by the nation’s second largest district are “lower than what people are used to seeing.” District officials are consulting with school leaders about how to explain to parents and students that new test results should not be compared with old ones.
“I think we are getting richer information about student learning,” she said.
Overall, the statewide scores that have been released are not as stark as first predicted, though they do show that vast numbers of students do not qualify as proficient in math or reading.
In Idaho, nearly 50 percent or more of students tested were proficient or above in English language arts. The results were lower for math: less than 40 percent were proficient in five grade levels. In Washington, about half of students across the state earned proficient scores. In Vermont, English proficiency scores hovered below 60 percent and dipped to as low as 37 percent in math.
States using the Smarter Balanced tests are using the same cut scores but different descriptors. What is “below basic” in one state might be “slightly unprepared” in another.
Initially, Duncan said the department would ask the two consortia to collaborate and make results comparable. But while the Smarter Balanced test has four achievement levels, the PARCC exam will have five.
When the testing groups were created, PARCC was a coalition of 26 states and Smarter Balanced 31; some states belonged to both. This year, 11 states and the District of Columbia took PARCC exams. Arkansas, Mississippi, and Ohio have since decided to withdraw from the exams. Eighteen states participated in the Smarter Balanced test this year. Of those, three states have since decided to abandon one or all of the grade level tests.
“It’s always disappointing to have a state drop out,” said Kelli Gauthier, a spokeswoman for Smarter Balanced. “But we feel really confident in the group that we have.”
Sarah Potter, comtstrmunications coordinator for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said the frequent changes in which test will be given and what students will be tested on has frustrated teachers and parents. The state participated in Smarter Balanced this spring but lawmakers have appropriated $7 million to develop a new state-based assessment plan.
“We are losing that that state-to-state comparability after this year, unfortunately,” Potter said. “But our Legislature has said we should have Missouri standards so that is the route we are taking.”
Aside from the defections, the exams have also experienced from technical glitches and an opt-out movement that surfaced this spring. Results in Nevada, Montana and North Dakota were hit with widespread technical problems; Nevada counted last year’s scores a total loss.
In Oregon, slightly more than 95 percent of students took the exam, just making the federal requirement for participation. For black and special education students, as well as some districts, the requirement was not met, meaning the state could potentially lose federal funds.
Most states have not been able to release test scores before the start of classes, a delay that was expected in the exam’s first year, but nonetheless frustrating for some teachers and parents.
“From a high school senior’s perspective, it’s gotta be really tough,” said Renata Witte, president of the New Mexico PTA. “You want to get those college applications in and you need this information to complete them.”
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STEPHEN FEE: Fifty-nine-year-old Karen Sonneberg grew up on the North Shore of Long Island, just an hour’s drive from New York City. Her parents survived the Holocaust but rarely mentioned it.
KAREN SONNEBERG: “All I knew was that we were different, that I was different. I didn’t exactly know why.”
STEPHEN FEE: Her parents were Jewish, born in Germany – but after Hitler came to power, their families fled. Sonneberg’s parents were just children but carried the traumas of Nazi oppression throughout their lives.
KAREN SONNEBERG: My mother from the time she was three on, For my father, from the time he was five or six-years-old, he was subjected to the painful existence in Germany.”
STEPHEN FEE: Despite her own comfortable upbringing here in the US, Sonneberg privately struggled for years with anxiety and stress. While she couldn’t prove it, she believed it was somehow linked to her parents’ traumatic childhoods.
KAREN SONNEBERG: “Having discussed this with many of my friends who come from similar backgrounds, it seems to be consistent in most of us, or we’ve had the same challenges. There were definitely challenges that quote unquote ‘American’ kids didn’t seem to have experienced.”
STEPHEN FEE: “Even though you weren’t there.”
KAREN SONNEBERG: “Exactly. That’s the amazing part of it.”
STEPHEN FEE: Now, a new study published this month in the scientific journal Biological Psychiatry, bolsters Sonneberg’s belief that she experienced the after effects of her parents’ trauma.
Dr. Rachel Yehuda, director of Mount Sinai’s Traumatic Stress Studies Division led the study. Her team interviewed and drew blood from 32 sets of survivors and their children, focusing on a gene called FKBP5
RACHEL YEHUDA, ICAHN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT MT. SINAI: “We already know that this is a gene that contributes to risk for depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
STEPHEN FEE: Yehuda noticed a pattern among the Holocaust survivors called an “epigenetic change” — not a change in the gene itself, but rather a change in a chemical marker attached to it.
RACHEL YEHUDA, ICAHN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT MT. SINAI: “When we looked at their own children, their children also had an epigenetic change in the same spot on a stress-related gene.”
STEPHEN FEE: “What does that suggest?”
RACHEL YEHUDA, ICAHN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT MT. SINAI: “Well, in the first generation, in the Holocaust survivor, it suggests that there has been an adaptation or a response to a horrendous environmental event, and in the second generation it suggests that there has also been a response of the offspring to this parental trauma.”
STEPHEN FEE: Which means children of Holocaust survivors like Sonneberg could be more likely to develop stress or anxiety disorders.
Though their study was small, Yehuda and her team controlled for any early trauma the survivors’ children may have experienced themselves.
STEPHEN FEE: “How is it that a parent who was subjected to the trauma of the Holocaust is able to somehow transmit that to a child who wasn’t there?”
RACHEL YEHUDA, ICAHN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT MT. SINAI: “That’s a really good question, and this study that we did doesn’t address ‘the how.’
The study that we did just provides a proof of concept that we might be able to identify the how if we do more research.”
STEPHEN FEE: DNA is passed from parents to children. But research like Yehuda’s suggests parental life experiences can modify their body chemistry — and those modifications can be transmitted to children as well.
Scientists have examined this idea before. After a famine in Holland during 1944 and 1945, children were born with the effects of malnutrition two generations after the food shortage ended.
Previously, Yehuda herself studied stress hormone levels in children born to women who survived the September 11th terrorist attacks.
She’s been examining the link between trauma experienced by Holocaust survivors and their children for more than 20 years.
RACHEL YEHUDA, ICAHN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT MT. SINAI: “A trauma is an event that changes you. It doesn’t have to change you for the negative. Trauma changes you in lots of different ways, but most people who experience extreme trauma learn a great deal from that experience, and some of those lessons may be lessons that are transmitted to the child, and that’s not a bad thing.”
STEPHEN FEE: Yehuda says the implications aren’t limited to Holocaust survivors. But this dwindling population provides insight into how clinicians understand and treat stress disorders.
RACHEL YEHUDA, ICAHN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT MT. SINAI: “If you’re at risk for heart disease, a lot of times the doctor can separate out well this is your weight, that’s not good, this is your diet, these are you genetic risks, and things like that. And it would be very nice if we could develop a similar risk profile in the mental health arena where we would be able to understand where the risk factors come from for depression and anxiety.”
STEPHEN FEE: “We’re on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
There were children who were born after that trauma. There are children born in the trauma of a war in Syria and other crises around the world. If you’re the child of a parent who experienced trauma, are you doomed to be depressed or stressed for the rest of your life?”
RACHEL YEHUDA, ICAHN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT MT. SINAI: “I don’t think you’re doomed. But I think that many children of traumatized parents have struggled with depression and anxiety. And I can tell you that many of them have felt relieved that there might be a contributing factor that has been based on how they’re responding to their parental trauma. I think that it’s helped people work through a lot of that depression and anxiety.”
STEPHEN FEE: Relief is exactly what Karen Sonneberg, the child of Holocaust survivors, felt after she participated in one of Dr. Yehuda’s trauma survivor studies. She lost her mother 30 years ago but looks forward to her father’s 90th birthday next year.
KAREN SONNEBERG: “I learned to cope in my life. I’ve learned to move on and get over all of this. Had I known at the time how my reactions could impact future children, my children’s reactions, I might’ve dealt with things differently or gotten them some sort of treatment that maybe would help them in the future.”
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