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

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    ORENBURG, RUSSIA- SEPTEMBER 19: Russian President Vladimir Putin talks to officers as he is visiting the Center -2015 Military Drills at Donguzsky Range in Orenburg, Russia, September,19,2015. Putin said this week that it's impossible to defeat Islamic State group without support of the government of Syria and that Moscow has provided military assistance to President Bashar al-Assad's regime and will continue to do so. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)

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    GWEN IFILL: Now we return to the root of what’s forced millions from their homes: the conflict in Syria.

    With multiple factions and common enemies in play, the war has become even more complicated, as Russia now steps up its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by moving additional military men and weaponry into Syria and expanding its base there.

    Meanwhile, Moscow is calling for greater coordination with the U.S. to fight a common enemy: the Islamic State group.

    Joining me now to help us sort through some of this latest tangle is chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner.

    So, Margaret, where does this proposal or this talk about having joint U.S.-Russia talks stand tonight?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, Gwen, even though there’s been no official announcement, in fact, you could say the military-to-military talks have ray begun.

    Last Friday, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter had a conversation 50 minutes with his counterpart, and this had been 18 months in which the Obama administration had cut off all contacts after Russia seized Ukraine or certainly seized Crimea.

    So the question they’re trying to figure out, OK, publicly, they’re saying, the U.S. is saying, well, these are deconfliction talks. Make sure that our planes don’t interfere with each other and we don’t have an accident.

    That is part of it. But really what they want to know is, what is Assad’s intention here? And is it to prop up the Assad government? I’m sorry — Russian’s intentions are to prop up the Assad government, or in fact is it just to fight ISIS, which is what Kerry had been told by Lavrov?

    GWEN IFILL: Now, is this just old Cold War suspension, or do we have reason to be worried that this is more than what Russia says it is?

    MARGARET WARNER: Oh, well, that’s exactly — and the administration will admit this — they do not want to be gamed, as several said to me, the way they were in Ukraine, where President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov, Sergei Lavrov, consistently, in the U.S. view, lied, not only to them on the phone, face to face, but lied to the world about whether they were in Ukraine and what they were doing in Ukraine.

    And so this time, they didn’t want to be sucked into that. They also want to make sure, you know, if his intention is to help Assad fight ISIS and they adopt Assad’s view, which is everybody opposed to me is a terrorist, well, the U.S. doesn’t want to get sucked into that kind of endeavor or that kind of partnership.

    GWEN IFILL: I can understand that, but I just don’t see — how do face-to-face talks mean that they will tell the truth or that they will get the truth?

    MARGARET WARNER: Excellent point, Gwen, because Kerry has already had three conversations with Lavrov.

    Based on what happened in Ukraine, there is no guarantee they will be told the truth. And the interventions with Lavrov on the phone have, so far, not slowed the Russian advance of weapons and materiel and men into Syria at all.

    GWEN IFILL: Is there any worry or concern that part of the deal if Lavrov were to talk to Kerry or Putin would talk to president…

    MARGARET WARNER: Again, which might happen next week.

    GWEN IFILL: Which might happen next week in New York.

    Is there any concern that the tradeoff might be keeping Assad in power?


    And, in fact, in London just this weekend, Secretary Kerry said, well, essentially, that Assad could be part of the transition. Now, when you ask why the turnaround, administration officials tell me there is no turnaround. If you were at the Geneva Syria peace talks 18 months ago, as I was, or you read the clips, which I read again today, Kerry’s tone was absolutely hard and fast. There is no role for President Assad even in this transition phase.

    Yesterday or this weekend, Kerry said, well, we’re not obdurate about that as to time and place.

    GWEN IFILL: And why the change? So there was a change, but why?

    MARGARET WARNER: Oh, there’s definitely a change, because — for two reasons.

    One, there is an urgency to get something going on the political process. And that’s what Kerry is hoping, is that this invitation to talk about military-to-military will open up an opportunity and that we could cooperate with the Russians on that, as we did on Iran.

    So, one, it’s the E.U. The European migrant crisis is driving it, and, two, a growing concern that in fact Assad and everybody other than ISIS is losing control completely of Northern Syria, and that the thing is just getting completely out of hand.

    GWEN IFILL: For the record, what is it that Russia says it is actually — they say that they’re actually doing?

    MARGARET WARNER: They say they are there — they have always had a base in Syria. This is not new. And they…

    GWEN IFILL: Advisers, not military.


    GWEN IFILL: Well, who knows.

    MARGARET WARNER: I don’t know. I don’t know the details of that.

    But this is totally different. The base is being expanded. There were reports by Reuters, which no one would confirm to me, that Russia is already flying surveillance drones over Syria. So what they want to make sure doesn’t happen is that essentially Assad gets this tremendous help from the Russians and turns around and uses it against his own citizens, barrel-bombing them, as Assad is doing now.

    GWEN IFILL: It sounds almost — and tell me if this is too simplistic — like a pool game, that, on one hand, the migrant crisis is pushing them toward Russia, but they’re afraid that Russia may have a bank shot which takes them back toward Assad. Does that make any sense?

    MARGARET WARNER: I couldn’t have said it better. I couldn’t have said it better. That’s exactly it.

    And, as you say, the track record is such that there’s no reason for President Obama to believe President Putin anyway.

    GWEN IFILL: So, who holds the cue, just following through on that?

    MARGARET WARNER: I don’t know. Probably Putin, as he manages to do.

    Obviously, he’s trying to get out of the deep freeze he’s been in with the rest of the world over Ukraine. And the U.S. doesn’t really want to be an enabler to that. At the same time, they want to learn more about the military operations.

    So, the administration, it strikes me, is a little bit caught. And then you also always have Secretary Kerry, who, having completed the Iran deal, some people say may be just looking for another great negotiation he can get going.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, there’s plenty out there left to be done, but one last thing.

    So, next week is the United Nations General Assembly. This is where any meeting between the president and President Putin would likely occur.


    GWEN IFILL: Where does that stand, an actual face-to-face of leaders?

    MARGARET WARNER: There is still — there is debate and discussion in the White House over this, I’m told.

    It is very much in the air. Kerry and Lavrov will obviously talk, probably extensively and several times, in a bilateral, just the two of them. So, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Presidents Obama and Putin were to meet.

    GWEN IFILL: And there will be a pool cue in the corner waiting.



    GWEN IFILL: … fix it up.


    GWEN IFILL: Margaret Warner, thank you very much.

    MARGARET WARNER: Thanks, Gwen.

    The post U.S. considers Russian intentions, involvement in Syria appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    GWEN IFILL: The Obama administration’s plans to settle as many as 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. within a year is coming under fire.

    In a statement released Sunday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, both Republicans, said the Islamic State group will use the refugee crisis to try to enter the United States and that the administration doesn’t have a concrete and foolproof plan to ensure that terrorists won’t be able to enter the country.

    So far, fewer than 2,000 refugees have settled here.

    Tonight, the story of one family that recently arrived.

    Special correspondent Marcia Biggs reports.

    MARCIA BIGGS: It’s a theme that played out all over America this month, children getting ready for their first days of school. But for this family, it’s an entirely new kind of fresh start.

    Mohamed and Amira Darbi and their three children arrived only two months ago, five of the roughly 1,700 Syrian refugees that the United States has taken in since 2011.

    MOHAMED DARBI, Resettled Syrian Refugee (through interpreter): I have been in the U.S. for 50 days now, and I like it.

    MARCIA BIGGS: “And before the 50 days?” I asked.

    MOHAMED DARBI (through interpreter): I didn’t know what America meant.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Mohamed and Amira are from Homs, the birthplace of the Syrian revolution. He was a carpenter and she a high school physics teacher.

    All three children were small in 2011, when the revolution began and Bashar al-Assad issued a brutal crackdown on their town.

    MOHAMED DARBI (through interpreter): When they would raid the homes, we were afraid for our children, our women. We were afraid they would kidnap one of us. That’s when the fear started.

    MARCIA BIGGS: What did you tell your children?

    AMIRA DARBI, Resettled Syrian Refugee (through interpreter): The kids were very scared. They would wake up in the middle of the night and start crying. And I was worried they would develop some sort of psychological problem. The main reason I left was for my kids.

    MARCIA BIGGS: It was 2012, when the family narrowly missed the missiles that flattened their neighborhood, that they finally fled. They waited for weeks near the border to be able to make the dangerous crossing into Jordan, running for their lives.

    MOHAMED DARBI (through interpreter): I grabbed my daughter and I ran through the checkpoint. My wife grabbed our other daughter, and we crossed even though we knew they might shoot us. It was terrifying.

    AMIRA DARBI (through interpreter): This day was the most difficult of my life. I still remember it. And, sometimes, I still have nightmares about crossing that checkpoint.

    MARCIA BIGGS: But once in Jordan, the family struggled, at first living with 200 families in a camp made only for five, without work, without legal documentation and bearing the stigma of being a refugee. The proud protector of his family, Mohamed had to think quickly on his feet.

    MOHAMED DARBI (through interpreter): I was afraid that, if anything should happen, they would send me back to Syria. So I decided to register with the UNHCR to protect myself and my children. I didn’t waste any time. I was one of the first people who registered as a Syrian refugee. And on that basis, they chose us.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Two-and-a-half years later, they arrived here in New Jersey, where they have been living with the help of the U.S. government and Church World Service, one of nine NGOs that helps with refugee settlement.

    Tell me how you prepare for the arrival of these families.

    MAHMOUD MAHMOUD, Church World Service: Well, we find the apartment. We pay for the security deposit and first month’s rent. We move furniture into the apartment, do the apartment setup, buy groceries, put it into the refrigerator so that they have food to eat. And we actually go ourselves to pick up the families from the airport for the first time, and we’re the first faces that they see upon arrival.

    MARCIA BIGGS: So, what kind of government assistance do they receive and for how long?

    MAHMOUD MAHMOUD: The social services assist them with Medicaid, so that they have health care if they need to go to the doctor for any reason up until eight months. They receive food stamps and they receive a bit of cash assistance.

    MARCIA BIGGS: What is required of them?

    MAHMOUD MAHMOUD: They must attend ESL courses for at least 35 hours a week and they must show that they’re trying to find jobs themselves as well.

    MARCIA BIGGS: None of the family speaks English. Mohamed and Amira are enrolled in language classes. And CWS is trying to help Mohamed find a job.

    I’m sure it’s not been an easy transition. It’s a very different life here. What’s been the most difficult part?

    MOHAMED DARBI (through interpreter): When I first arrived, I immediately felt that I want to go back. The people are not my people. I don’t know how to speak, I don’t know how to walk, I don’t know how to do anything. It was strange. I was lost. My children, how am I going to register them? How am I going to work?

    I felt I wanted to go back, I don’t want to stay here. But then everything falls into place and people blend in.

    AMIRA DARBI (through interpreter): The language is difficult. We’re suffering with language, but, God willing, we will learn and we will stand on our own two feet.

    MARCIA BIGGS: What’s been the best part?

    MOHAMED DARBI (through interpreter): The best part about it for me is that I can move around freely. There’s no sense of imprisonment. I take the kids around.

    The kids were stripped away from going to parks, to rivers, to the malls, to go shopping. And now they’re back to school and life came back to them. For me, that was the best thing, when I saw that their future came back to them. To me, that’s worth the entire world.

    MARCIA BIGGS: What’s touched you the most about these Syrian families?

    MAHMOUD MAHMOUD: I believe it’s their drive to continue despite what they have been through. Their work ethic is really tremendous. They want to be here. They want to be productive and active individuals in the community.

    MARCIA BIGGS: All the children are enrolled in school now, 5-year-old Shakad for the first time, 12-year-old Hajar and 13-year-old Nabiha with the help of an interpreter. Hajar and Nabiha say their favorite part about being in the U.S. is finally feeling like they belong.

    What is the best thing about school today?

    NABIHA: Math. You like math?

    HAJAR: Science?

    MARCIA BIGGS: And what do you want to be when you grow up?

    HAJAR: A doctor.

    MARCIA BIGGS: You want to be a doctor?

    NABIHA: Engineer

    MARCIA BIGGS: You want to be an engineer?

    HAJAR (through interpreter): In Jordan, they used to tell us, you’re Syrian. Go away from us. Don’t talk to us. And they separated the Jordanians and Syrians at school. Why did that have to be? Aren’t we all human beings? Aren’t we all one?

    MARCIA BIGGS: What is school like for you here?

    HAJAR (through interpreter): You feel like you are the same, not like in Jordan. We’re all one and the same at school. For example, the teacher doesn’t get upset with you because you’re Syrian. She doesn’t shout at you because you’re Syrian. She treats us like everyone else in class.

    MARCIA BIGGS: How did it feel to put your kids on the school bus for the first day of school here in the United States?

    MOHAMED DARBI (through interpreter): Of course, when I see my children going to school, and they’re going to build their future, I’m going to be the happiest.

    For me, I see no future. I’m 42 years old. I will barely make a living and provide for them a decent life. The future is theirs. When they came back from school yesterday, I asked them, “How was your day?” They said: “We were really happy. We had such a fun day.”

    For me, that’s beautiful.

    MARCIA BIGGS: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Marcia Biggs in Jersey City, New Jersey.

    The post Syrian family resettled in U.S. sees future for their children appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Former Greek prime minister and leader of leftist Syriza party Alexis Tsipras waves to supporters after winning the general election in Athens, Greece, September 20, 2015. Greek voters returned Tsipras to power with a strong election victory on Sunday, ensuring the charismatic leftist remains Greece's dominant political figure despite caving in to European demands for a bailout he once opposed. REUTERS/Michalis Karagiannis - RTS21SF

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    GWEN IFILL: But, first, Greece’s former prime minister returned to power this evening after his snap election gamble paid off.

    But as special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from Athens, many in the cash-strapped country are more resigned than enthusiastic.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The scale of Alexis Tsipras’ victory came as a surprise. Before the election, opinion polls had suggested a much tighter race between the conservative New Democracy opposition and Tsipras’ left-wing Syriza Party.

    In the end, he had a clear lead over New Democracy. And although he didn’t win an outright majority, he secured enough parliamentary seats to form a coalition government with his previous partner, the right-wing Independent Greeks, ANEL.

    ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Syriza Leader (through interpreter): We fought a tough and difficult battle. I feel vindicated today, because the Greek people gave us a clear mandate to continue fighting inside and outside the country and boost our people’s pride.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: A breakaway faction of his Syriza Party that opposed the latest bailout deal was wiped out in the election, and so his authority has been reasserted.

    Reaction was muted. Normally, after a Greek election, the streets are full of people celebrating. But the country is weary after five years of never-ending crisis. Despite his policy flip-flops, some Syriza supporters still regard Tsipras as the golden boy of the left.

    MAN (through interpreter): I am very happy. I live for my children and grandchildren. Tsipras is our hope. He is all we can hope for. Otherwise, we are lost.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): This is the third time that I am voting for Syriza and Alexis Tsipras. I am very proud, and I feel very happy.

    MAN: I am not happy, but I was expecting it. I believed that the Greeks would vote for New Democracy. But, unfortunately for me, and I think for my country, they kept on giving their support to Syriza.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The most significant figure in this election was the 44 percent of people who decided not to vote. The low turnout was the worst in Greek electoral history and an indication that people are disillusioned with politics and politicians.

    Alexis Tsipras only succeeded because he convinced his core supporters to go out and vote. His opponents didn’t. The sense of hope that Tsipras engendered earlier in the year has now vanished. People are bracing themselves for still more austerity. And the latest tax bills are due to arrive in the mail any day.

    International investors are tapping into the expertise of political analyst Nick Malkoutzis to determine whether Greece is worth the risk, now that Tsipras has the potential to be prime minister for the next four years. Today, in Athens, the skies roared with thunder. The big question on everyone’s lips is, after Tsipras’ first stormy term, will there now be calm?

    NICK MALKOUTZIS, Deputy Editor, Kathimerini: Everyone is asking the question really, is he going to deliver, because he’s been such of an enigma over the past few months? I think that the two things you can point to that would perhaps make you think he can is that he’s emerged from these elections politically strengthened. It’s clear certainly to Greece’s lenders that he’s the only player in town.

    And the second is that he returns with the same government, so there isn’t a question of people getting used to their portfolios and learning what they have to do.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Philip Ammerman, a Greek American financial adviser, is working with conglomerates that want to purchase some of Greece’s nationalized assets that are being privatized as part of the restructuring program. He has grave doubts about Tsipras ability to force through unpopular austerity.

    PHILIP AMMERMAN, Financial Adviser: He has a mandate but he only has a majority of five votes in the Greek Parliament. And, previously, the Syriza Party, if you will recall, a month ago, a month-and-a-half ago, fell apart precisely because of implementing the Troika’s program.

    Now they have voted it. They have voted for the third rescue package, but they have not voted through the implementing arrangements. So the proof of the pudding is going to be, how many Syriza and ANEL M.P.s stay with the governing coalition when it comes time to implement these structural adjustment programs that have to be done. I think it’s going to be very difficult for him to last beyond 12 months, personally.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But Tsipras’ first main task has nothing to do with the economy.

    An emergency E.U. summit on the refugee crisis requires his participation later this week. Hard-line nations will want to know whether Tsipras will tear down the fence on the Turkish border which is forcing people to take the perilous sea route via the Greek islands.

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

    The post Greek election gamble pays off for Tsipras appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker waves as he is announced during the Heritage Action for America presidential candidate forum in Greenville, South Carolina September 18, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Keane - RTS1TJM

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    GWEN IFILL: As we reported just a few minutes ago, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has just decided to drop out of the Republican nominating race. He spoke to supporters in Madison.

    Here’s what he had to say just moments ago:

    GOV. SCOTT WALKER, Republican Presidential Candidate: I was sitting at church yesterday. The pastor’s words reminded me that the Bible is full of stories about people who are called to be leaders in unusual ways.

    Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race, so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field. With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately.

    I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same, so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current front-runner. This is fundamentally important to the future of the party and, more importantly, to the future of our country.

    GWEN IFILL: Walker’s decision was the headline of the day, but not the tum — sum total, that is, of a weekend of politics, which also strayed onto the third rail of religion.

    Joining me for Politics Monday, Susan Page of USA Today and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    Let’s start by talking about Scott Walker.

    Did he lose support, lose money, or was it the tail chasing the elephant, as it were?

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: As it were. It’s probably a combination of both.

    You know, Scott Walker was a candidate who looked so perfect on paper. And I’m guilty of saying this, too, that he looked like the ideal candidate for the Republican Party. But when it came to being an actual candidate, not a paper, but a real-live candidate, he didn’t do a particularly good job of it.

    And part of it was his message, which was I am the consistent conservative, I did something in a blue state that no other Republican governor has been able to do…

    GWEN IFILL: Which is to knock down the unions.

    AMY WALTER: Which is to knock down the unions. Elect me because I can be both an electable candidate, but a conservative candidate.

    That message got muddled throughout the campaign when he was chasing — and talk about chasing the tail — mostly, what he seemed to be chasing was a party or a message that kept moving to the right, and he was moving along with it.

    GWEN IFILL: So, if this is a party of outsiders, does that mean that, if you are a governor or someone who actually comes from inside the process, the system, that you are at a disadvantage?

    SUSAN PAGE, USA Today: Well, it is sort of amazing that in the latest poll, we have got — Scott Walker was at less than one-half of 1 percent, this guy who has won three gubernatorial elections in Wisconsin, and — which is significant, to be the only person in American history, the only governor to survive a recall election — and at the top of the field we have three people who have never won an office, among them, Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina.

    Now, that might say this is the year of the outsider. We have seen that before. But I think that we — I think that it continues to be the likelihood that we — that the Republican Party will nominate someone who’s held office before.

    And so, in this way, Scott Walker’s withdrawal is good news for people like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio…

    GWEN IFILL: That was my next question. Who benefits?

    SUSAN PAGE: … and John Kasich, who have maybe just a little bit more territory now to claim that part of the party’s support.

    GWEN IFILL: So we can assume that, somewhere, in some basement of campaign headquarters, people are dialing for his support?

    AMY WALTER: Well, and some of them are already moving over.

    We started to hear talk about supporters, donors already starting to give money to other candidates. The candidate that seems to benefit most from them, maybe somebody like Marco Rubio, who is already picking up some of his support and staff in some of these early states.

    SUSAN PAGE: But I don’t think Scott Walker is a victim of Donald Trump, which I think some people are trying to — he was a victim of his own failure to campaign effectively.

    He had a great speech in January in Iowa that really launched him. He was leading in Iowa. But then he became a very inconsistent campaigner. He has flip-flopped on birthright citizenship. He seemed uncertain on addressing national security issues. This was a failure of this candidate to deliver on his promise.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about another candidate who a lot of supporters seem to think is showing promise, but had an interesting — I guess depending on how you look at it — it looked like a stumble this weekend.

    And that’s Dr. Ben Carson, who was on “Meet the Press” and over the weekend he was asked about people who should be running for president.

    Actually, let’s just play what he said, so that we can make our own judgment about what he meant.

    CHUCK TODD, Moderator, “Meet the Press”: Should a president’s faith matter? Should your faith matter to voters?

    BEN CARSON, Republican Presidential Candidate: Well, I guess it depends on what that faith is. If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem.

    CHUCK TODD: So, do you believe that Islam is consistent with the constitution?

    BEN CARSON: No, I don’t. I do not. I wouldn’t advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely wouldn’t agree with that.

    GWEN IFILL: Now, this was an interesting exchange, because Chuck Todd basically threw out an open-ended question, and then he opened the door and drove the truck through, the question about whether having a Muslim as president is consistent with the Constitution, which doesn’t have a religious test.

    AMY WALTER: Correct.

    But I think we’re now sort of splicing and dicing maybe this a little bit too much, just in that I think the fundamental thing, the takeaway, at least for me, was that this was a candidate that looked like he was saying that: I don’t want to see a Muslim elected president, whether — as opposed to getting into a debate about whether — the constitutionality of whether a Muslim could be president.

    In fact, you’re hearing a lot of Republicans saying he didn’t advocate that people couldn’t elect one. He just doesn’t want to see one.

    But I think what a lot of voters are going to see out there — and if he is the nominee, this, I think, would be a very big problem for the Republican Party — is a party, Republican Party that seems intent on dismissing or looking like they’re closing down ranks, instead of opening up their base to a bigger, broader electorate.

    If you look at what Republicans talked about after the 2012 elections, the number takeaway from the RNC was, we are a party that is too insular, we are too white, we are too old, we need to expand our base, we need to bring different people in.

    That’s not a message that brings people in.

    GWEN IFILL: And yet, and yet, if you’re just going by what it is that the Republican polling universe believes, this is actually a popular position that he’s taking.

    So, you wonder sometimes. And he’s continued to defend it after a first statement. You wonder whether he’s — doubling down is the new Republican political tactic.

    SUSAN PAGE: Well, I think that Donald Trump has demonstrated doubling down can serve you well. It makes you look tough. You never have to apologize.

    And in a Republican primary, I’m not sure this is a big problem for Dr. Ben Carson, because a lot of Republicans would agree that they wouldn’t be comfortable with a Muslim as president. But when you’re trying to run for president of this great diverse nation — not that there are so many Muslim voters, although there are a couple million — it’s that it seems intolerant to say that you wouldn’t elect a Muslim president.

    There was a time when we wouldn’t have elected a black president. And we did. Or we wouldn’t have elected a Catholic president. And we did. And so who is to say that there wouldn’t come a time when we would elect a Muslim president?

    So I think there are a lot of people, Americans who are non-Muslims, who would say, this is not the — this is not what I think of when I think of the country of America.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about the two women in the race briefly here. We have Carly Fiorina, who actually seems to be surging a bit.

    AMY WALTER: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: Of course, these polls, after every debate, somebody else surges, depending on what the headline said the next day.

    But how is she trying to capitalize on this moment?

    AMY WALTER: Well, the first question is, can she capitalize by getting money and by getting infrastructure? Those are two things that she hasn’t had.

    So she’s got to like do this on the fly, put together a campaign team. She has a very skeletal staff. This is going to be important for her. And the second is taking the incoming flak for her record as the CEO of H.P. It was very, very rocky. She talked a lot about what some of her successes were, but, at the end of the day, she was fired. The company didn’t do particularly well during her tenure there.

    That is going to be something that is a serious line of attack that she’s got to figure out a better answer for.

    SUSAN PAGE: There’s a lot of things about our politics that don’t make sense, but one thing that actually happens in a presidential election is you get submitted to scrutiny.

    AMY WALTER: Yes.

    SUSAN PAGE: And you either stand up to it or you don’t.

    And Scott Walker got submitted to some scrutiny, and he didn’t stand up to it. And now Carly Fiorina is now from the bottom of the pack into the top tier, and she is going to have a chance to demonstrate whether she can stand up to the scrutiny.

    GWEN IFILL: These are not new arguments.

    SUSAN PAGE: No. No.

    GWEN IFILL: This was litigated against her when she ran for the California Senate.

    SUSAN PAGE: And she didn’t do so well last time. But she’s done better this time in addressing the questions about her tenure as head of H.P. than she did then.

    But this is different. The stakes are pretty — the stakes are very high and the scrutiny is very tough.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about Hillary Clinton. She was on — she has got a whole new media strategy.

    Now she did a Sunday talk show. She did late night. She’s done all kinds of — a day rolling out kind of a new media strategy, trying to say, I guess, reintroduce, re-re-reintroduce herself.

    Let’s hear what she had to yesterday on “Face the Nation” to our friend John Dickerson.

    JOHN DICKERSON, Host, “Face the Nation”: Give us three words that is the real Hillary Clinton.


    JOHN DICKERSON: Just three.

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, Democratic Presidential Candidate: Just three? I can’t possibly do that.

    I mean, look, I am a real person, with all the pluses and minuses that go along with being that.

    GWEN IFILL: OK, it’s been 20 years that she’s been in the public eye. Why are we having this conversation? Why is she having this conversation?

    AMY WALTER: This has been the debate that the Clinton campaign has had with folks like us in the media from the very beginning. She’s the most famous person nobody really knows. This is our chance to go and reintroduce her.

    But if you’re going to reintroduce one of the most famous people in the world, it has to look genuine. So I think the challenge for her is that she’s not the best orator. She is not somebody that’s going to go up and rev up a crowd in the way some of these other candidates do.

    But she’s very good at other things. And it’s focusing on those things. I thought she did very well on “Face the Nation” yesterday. She’s very good in that context, especially when it’s policy-heavy. When it comes to some of the other parts of campaigning, not so good.

    SUSAN PAGE: Well, she was pretty good on “Jimmy Fallon,” though.

    AMY WALTER: Oh, that’s…

    SUSAN PAGE: Although, if you have to say, “I’m a real person,” as though that should be news to people, possibly a sign of danger as a candidate.

    The question is, do you have a second chance to make a first impression? Impressions of her pretty well-set, hard to change. Maybe not impossible.

    GWEN IFILL: I have to ask one more thing. In your column this week, you made a reference to Death Cab For Cutie.

    AMY WALTER: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: What were you talking about?

    AMY WALTER: Oh, my gosh, you didn’t know about them? They’re a great indie band. They’re great.

    GWEN IFILL: And? And the connection to politics is?

    AMY WALTER: That they have a song called “The Sound of Settling,” which in my mind goes to the challenge for Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, in that they’re not the most exciting candidates, but ultimately you may just find that voters are settling for them.

    GWEN IFILL: Does that reasoning ring true you, Susan?

    SUSAN PAGE: Well, I do think we have a sorting out process, and sometimes the candidates that we have counted out early on ended up — end up winning the election. And we should never forget that.

    GWEN IFILL: There is nothing wrong with a — little indie band references in our Politics Monday.


    GWEN IFILL: Amy Walter, Susan Page…

    AMY WALTER: Listen to them. They’re good.

    GWEN IFILL: You insist that I have to listen to them?



    GWEN IFILL: I will see what I can do.


    GWEN IFILL: Thank you both very much.

    The post What Walker’s campaign bow out means for the GOP race appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Pope Francis looks out from the Hill of the Cross in Holguin, Cuba, September 21, 2015. On a special personal anniversary, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in east Cuba on Monday on the last full day of a trip where he has been praised for aiding rapprochement between the communist government and the United States. Two predecessors have visited Cuba, but Francis was the first pope to visit Holguin, capital of the region where the Castro brothers and leaders of Cuba, Fidel and Raul, grew up. Sept. 21 was the day when the Argentine pope said he first felt a calling from God.  REUTERS/Alessandra Tarantino/Pool - RTX1RS5A

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: After the pope leaves the nation’s capital, he continues to New York City and Philadelphia. In those cities, he is scheduled to meet with some of the poorest and the most powerless, delivering a message of inclusiveness that has snagged the attention of Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

    Judy Woodruff brings us a portrait of the church’s first Latin American pope.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On March 13, 2013, a new pope was elected. Many were surprised to learn he is an Argentine, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first pope from the Americas, first Jesuit, and first non-European in more than a millennium. His chosen name, Francis, honors Saint Francis of Assisi and his special concern for the poor.

    POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter): How I would like a poor church for the poor.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Soon, the new pope’s message of change expanded to include others who had been marginalized: women, the divorced, homosexuals.

    When queried about gays, he sent a clear sign of a new approach by asking a provocative question in return.

    POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter): If someone is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: His statements on women’s roles also made headlines.

    POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter): Women in the church are more important than bishops and priests. I think we are missing a theological explanation on this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But critics say not much has actually changed in terms of doctrine, for example, that women can never become priests.

    MARIE DENNIS, Co-President, Pax Christi International: I don’t think that there is yet any signal that the deep, rich, important voice of women in the Catholic Church is going to be heard.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Marie Dennis is co-president of Pax Christi International, the Catholic peace and justice movement.

    MARIE DENNIS: I am hopeful that Pope Francis will bring a change in the Catholic Church in terms of its relationship with the women in the church. But I’m concerned that, so far, that isn’t too evident.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Francis decentralized the hidebound church bureaucracy known as the Curia and accused its members of being careerist and of having spiritual Alzheimer’s.

    He moved to clean up the notorious Vatican Bank, firing conservatives and promoting newcomers who share his vision. And he looked to make lasting change around the Vatican’s most shameful and deeply troubling wound, the child sex abuse scandal. American archbishops were forced to resign. A former church ambassador to the Dominican Republic was indicted. A new tribunal was created to investigate top-ranked churchmen.

    Still, the efforts were criticized as too little, too late.

    GARRY WILLS, Author, “The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis”: I have liberal friends who think he should have come in and just changed the whole proceeding for priest abusers.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Garry Wills is the author of “The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis.”

    GARRY WILLS: He’s trying to do something along that line, but there’s nothing that would be adequate, except to fire all the bishops, because they were all complicit in the cover-up.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But if changes in policies have been slow to come, the new pope’s shift in tone and unique pastoral style has not.

    Even so, little was known about the unassuming 76-year-old who had spent nearly his entire life in Argentina. An intrigued world wondered, who is Pope Francis?

    GARRY WILLS: The secret to him is pretty open. He’s a Christian. He follows Jesus. He talks like Jesus. Jesus talked about the poor. And that’s all the pope is saying. Start with the poor.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Professor Stephen Schneck directs the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at Catholic University.

    What do we need to know about this man, in the beginning?

    STEPHEN SCHNECK, The Catholic University of America: He’s, you know, a second-generation immigrant. And I think the immigrant experience of Italians in Argentina was unique. And Argentine history was one of the shaping factors here.

    It’s a different history than the United States, and, you know, the forces of political life and culture are different than the United States.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Born in Buenos Aires, the eldest son of an Italian immigrant accountant, the pope-to-be graduated secondary school with a chemical technician’s diploma and worked in a lab, as a janitor sweeping floors, and even as a nightclub bouncer, before joining the Jesuits.

    Biographer Sergio Rubin:

    SERGIO RUBIN, Author, “Pope Francis: Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio” (through interpreter): In just six years, he went from being a priest in a small convent in a province to being archbishop of Buenos Aires and future cardinal primate of Argentina. His career has been meteoric.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In his Argentina, he was known as the slum…

    STEPHEN SCHNECK: As the slum bishop, yes.


    STEPHEN SCHNECK: Well, because that’s where he — that’s where the center of his gravity was for his time as archbishop.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: He quadrupled the number of priests in the slums, lived in a small apartment, rode public transportation and cooked his own meals.

    GARRY WILLS: He said, the mark of the shepherd is you have got the smell of the sheep. You have to go out and not only teach, but listen to the people of God. And he said, my ideal of a pastor was a priest I knew who knew who the name of every dog in the slum.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In 2001, Bergoglio was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II. After John Paul’s death four years later, Cardinal Bergoglio was reportedly a front-runner to replace him, until he asked his peers to vote instead for Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI.

    He wasn’t putting himself forward?

    STEPHEN SCHNECK: He wasn’t putting himself forward, but just the reverse.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the years that followed, Bergoglio remained deliberately low-profile. But once he became pope, Francis signaled he was different, with early gestures, such as washing the feet of prison inmates and those with disabilities.

    MAN: Coming to America. Pope Francis will be heading to Philadelphia.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The pope’s first ever visit to the U.S. will include a rare trip to speak to a joint session of Congress, following an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner.

    The speaker released this video in anticipation of the papal visit:

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), Speaker of the House: There’s a lot of interest in what the pope is saying, his outreach to the poor, the fact that, you know, people ought to be more religious. He’s got some other positions that are a bit more controversial, but it’s the pope.

    GARRY WILLS: What he will want to do is heal. He’s not a bomb-thrower, and he will not come to insult anybody.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But Francis has not been shy about taking on controversial political issues. Most notably, he has spoken out about climate change and the negative impact of global capitalism.

    His recent encyclical highlighted humanity’s role in global warming and he urged leaders to act.

    POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter): This home of ours is being ruined. And that damages everyone, especially the poor.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The encyclical calls for radical changes to the global economic system. So does Canadian activist Naomi Klein, whose bestseller “This Changes Everything” blames capitalism for ruining the Earth, and led her to joining the pope’s team of advisers.

    NAOMI KLEIN, Author: And I think that the encyclical is just kind of a truth bomb. Like, it’s just — it just has the force of coming from a place that isn’t about appeasing public opinion, but is just about trying to tell powerful truths. And when people, when powerful people start telling powerful truths, it’s contagious.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It is his identification with the poor that most differentiates Pope Francis. His remarks on inequality and the excesses of modern capitalism have been forceful, and he has attacked supply-side economics, policies that call for tax cuts for the rich, as a near-sacrilegious heresy.

    STEPHEN SCHNECK: For him, these are primarily moral issues. He is, in fact, speaking as a pastor when he is reminding us of the moral cost of our economy, of the profound moral dimension of caring for creation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Most recently, Francis called upon Catholic parishes and religious communities to take in refugees who are pouring out of the Middle East. Who is Pope Francis? To a great extent, he remains an image we create for ourselves.

    STEPHEN SCHNECK: Pope Francis is the conscience for this age of the world.

    NAOMI KLEIN: He is a man in a hurry.

    MARIE DENNIS: Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air.

    GARRY WILLS: I think of him as kind of the Joan Rivers: Can we talk?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Whatever the pope has to say during this visit to the United States, one thing seems certain: He is already a transformative figure.

    And, finally, it’s way too early to ask this question. What’s his legacy likely to be?

    STEPHEN SCHNECK: What he has done, I think, is he has transformed the Catholic attitude towards the world. He’s calling us to the margins and to the marginalized. And that is, of course, the oldest Christian message.

    GWEN IFILL: You can follow all our coverage of the pope’s U.S. visit online at PBS.org/NewsHour.

    The post How a low-profile priest transformed into Pope Francis appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Pope Francis waves in Holguin, Cuba, September 21, 2015. On a special anniversary for him, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in east Cuba on Monday on the last full day of a trip where he has been praised for aiding rapprochement between the communist government and the United States. Two predecessors have visited Cuba, but Francis was the first pope to visit Holguin, capital of the province where the Castro brothers and leaders of Cuba, Fidel and Raul, grew up. He said a Mass for tens of thousands of people in sweltering heat. September 21 was the day in 1953 when the Argentine pope said he first felt a calling from God.   REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares   - RTX1RRER

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Huge crowds turned out to see the pope in Cuba on the second full day of his trip there, a day that marked the anniversary of when he decided, as a teenager, to become a priest. He delivered a message about the importance of change.

    William Brangham has this report.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Thousands of Cubans welcomed Pope Francis this morning as he celebrated mass in the eastern Cuban city of Holguin. Festive songs mixed with traditional hymns and with the pontiff’s call for tolerance and mercy.

    POPE FRANCIS, (through translator): Jesus invites us to slowly overcome our preconceptions and our resistance to change in others, and even in ourselves.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Today’s remarks were in keeping with Sunday’s packed mass in Havana’s Revolution Square. There, Francis urged Cubans to put humankind ahead of ideology, a subtle jab at the country’s communist system.

    POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter): Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas. We serve people.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Cuban security forces kept political dissidents away, blocking them from attending some events and detaining several others. But from all appearances, those who did hear and see the first Latin American pope were receptive.

    GILBERTO YANEZ, Havana resident (through interpreter): Pope Francis had a very deep message, a message of hope, cordiality, of helping each other, many beautiful and appealing things.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Hours later, Francis met with Fidel Castro, the retired founder of Cuba’s communist revolution. Vatican officials described their 40-minute meeting as — quote — “informal and familial.” The pope held separate talks with Castro’s brother, the current president, Raul Castro.

    And late today, Francis traveled to Santiago to visit the shrine of Cuba’s patron saint, the Virgin of Charity. This papal visit came as the U.S. and Cuba have restored diplomatic relations, thanks in part to some behind-the-scenes brokering by the Vatican.

    And, tomorrow, the pope begins his first-ever trip to the U.S. He will fly first to Washington, where he will meet with President Obama on Wednesday and address a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday.

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    Nizar Shoukry speaks through a megaphone at railway station in Tovarnik, Croatia, September 19, 2015.  Love brought Nizar Shoukry from his native Syria to Croatia and eventually a dental practice in the border town of Tovarnik. Thirty years later, war is bringing his countrymen, in a chaotic, desperate tide flowing past Shoukry's door en route to Germany and a promise of asylum. Picture taken September 19, 2015. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic - RTX1RRUK

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: A river of humanity continued flowing into Europe today, but it appeared to be somewhat better regulated. Thousands of people were being taken in buses directly from Croatia, across Hungary and on to Austria.

    Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News reports from the Croatian/Hungarian border.

    JONATHAN MILLER: The Hungarian military is busy building its razor wire fence, just like the one on its Serbian frontier. They want to ensure that the transit into Hungary is totally controlled. From here, they are just bussed straight through Hungary to the Austrian border.

    Earlier this afternoon, I visited a brand-new refugee transit center that’s been built right on the Serbian border about an hour-and-a-half south. It’s quite impressive, 300 military tents erected in just 24 hours flat, capacity around 4,000, and 3,000 already there. They get registered, then food, medical attention, a shower and shelter.

    The U.N. Refugee Agency is there, and they told me that 97 percent of these people come from the world’s top 10 refugee-referring countries. They all know exactly where they want to go and they know exactly how to get there.

    MAN: Well, many of them have received, through different media, social media, very precise information. So they have been briefed where to go.

    JONATHAN MILLER: The head of the International Federation of the Red Cross commended the Croatians for bringing a semblance of order to the chaos of the past few days. He said it was now the duty of the E.U. leaders to find solutions to this problem.

    MAN: These are proud fathers and mothers that used to take care of their children and their families. Some of them are doctors and engineers and teachers that were taking care of their own lives.

    Here they are because of all the circumstances we know and all the push factors for which we do not have a new solution in this situation. And it is our duty, as individuals, as humanitarian organizations, as simple citizens of this world, to do what is expected to us, what is show our shared humanity.

    JONATHAN MILLER: By tomorrow, the people in that transit camp will be up where I am now, waiting for buses through Hungary to Austria. And by tomorrow night, they will be at the gates of Vienna. The U.N. Refugee Agency says there is no letup to this surge. In fact, they are seeing ever more people entering Croatia.

    GWEN IFILL: Tomorrow, interior ministers from the various European Union states meet in Brussels. There’s no sign of agreement on a proposal to relocate 120,000 people now in Greece, Italy or Hungary.

    In Nigeria, more than 50 people were killed and hundreds more injured in a series of bombings overnight. Attackers struck in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, where Boko Haram is active. The Islamic militant group has recently lost territory to the military.

    The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog reported significant progress today in looking at Iran’s past nuclear activities. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, said he now has environmental samples from the Parchin military site. But he also acknowledged that renovations may obscure what actually went on there.

    The U.S. presidential race will have one less candidate. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is quitting the Republican nomination contest. He initially led the polls in Iowa, but has since fallen far back in the pack. Fifteen Republicans are still in the race.

    Volkswagen stock plunged today after the company admitted it rigged U.S. emissions tests of its diesel vehicles. V.W. shares fell nearly 20 percent in trading across Europe. Analysts in Frankfurt said that should come as no surprise.

    OLIVER ROTH, Equities Trader (through interpreter): There is a giant scandal and it has arrived as a shock even here. The management of Volkswagen already confessed to this, and now there is a threat of several billion dollars worth of penalties, and the shares plunged accordingly.

    GWEN IFILL: Bloomberg reported today the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation of Volkswagen. And Germany said it will investigate whether V.W. falsified emissions results in Europe.

    Meanwhile, on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 125 points to close at 16510. The Nasdaq rose one point, and the S&P 500 added nine.

    A former peanut company owner faces 28 years in federal prison for a deadly salmonella outbreak. Stewart Parnell was sentenced today in Albany, Georgia. He’d been convicted of knowingly shipping tainted foods. The resulting salmonella outbreak killed nine people and sickened hundreds in 2008 and 2009.

    Firefighters in Northern California made progress today against some of the worst wildfires in the state’s history. But over the weekend, they raised the number of homes destroyed to 1,600 in two huge fires north of San Francisco. South of the city, a new blaze broke out over the weekend. It destroyed 10 more homes and killed one person.

    A new study out today finds Americans may be recycling a lot less trash than anyone thought. Researchers at Yale University measured what’s going into landfills, and found the average person tosses away five pounds of trash a day. That’s more than twice what the government had estimated.

    The global growth of Internet access is slowing for the third year in a row. The U.N. Broadband Commission estimates the number of people online will grow by just over 8 percent this year, down half-a-percent from last year. Yet more than half the world’s population, better than four billion people, remain offline.

    And some of television’s biggest stars are polishing their new Emmys today, including Tony Award winner Viola Davis, who was named best actress in a drama series for her work on ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder.” She’s the first black woman to win that award.

    VIOLA DAVIS, Actress: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.


    VIOLA DAVIS: You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.

    GWEN IFILL: HBO was the big winner, with 14 statuettes, far outpacing any over-the-air network. But the awards telecast itself was the least-watched show ever.

    The post News Wrap: Thousands bussed from Croatia to Austria appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Join Gwen Ifill at 9 p.m. EDT for a one-hour town hall meeting that explores the many issues propelled into public discourse after a white gunman shot and killed nine African-American parishioners in Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015. Engage with other viewers and learn more about the town hall at PBS’s interactive home for the special.

    Filmed just blocks from the site of the shootings, this event brings together a diverse range of voices to engage in constructive discussion through conversations with the families of victims, Charleston civil leaders, and commentators from across the country.

    To inform the discussion, PBS NewsHour and Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion conducted a survey of Americans’ attitudes towards race finding that on many fronts, race relations are at a low point in recent history.

    Follow all of our coverage of race and society via our Race Matters reporting project.

    The post WATCH LIVE: America After Charleston hosted by Gwen Ifill appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A father carries his son as they listen to gospel music during a vigil outside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, June 20, 2015. Today, mourners are gathering to remember the church's pastor the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    A father carries his son as they listen to gospel music during a vigil outside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, June 20, 2015. Today, mourners are gathering to remember the church’s pastor the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    It was an honor to be asked to participate in the America After Charleston forum on PBS. While I visited Charleston the week after the shootings, I really appreciated having the opportunity to return and see how things had changed and to hear how those directly affected by the shootings were coping.

    For me, two themes emerged from the discussion: forgiveness and reconciliation. While the national narrative about Charleston has been one of instant forgiveness, it was clear from the discussion that many people are troubled by that narrative. I wish we had had more time to unpack that multi-layered concept.

    As a Christian, I was certainly moved by the forgiveness that the families of the Charleston victims extended to the shooter at his arraignment. I believe — as they likely do — that Christ requires His disciples to personally forgive those who harm them. But I also understand the frustration of family members like Malcolm Graham, the brother of Cynthia Hurd, who admit their struggle to forgive and who wish to be able to struggle openly with their hurt.

    And I also understand the frustration of people like Willie Glee, a member of Mother Emanuel. We had a chance to talk in the green room before the taping. He told me that he was very concerned that the broader community was hiding behind the families’ forgiveness as a way to deflect dealing with centuries of racial division and hierarchy.

    If the legacy of Charleston is that a few flags came down and few streets got renamed, then the Emanuel Nine died in vain.Mr. Glee makes an important observation about racial reconciliation on the cheap. The media frames that were deployed in the immediate aftermath of the shooting did sometimes have a troubling subtext that often went unexamined. For instance, when people praised Charlestonians for not rioting after the shootings, they were making implicit comparisons to Ferguson and Baltimore. While I was very glad that Charleston did not erupt in violence, the implicit juxtaposition made me wonder if the Emanuel Nine would have been deemed less worthy by the media if there had been a riot? Or would the Confederate flag issue not have risen to the top of the political agenda in the wake of civil unrest? In raising these questions, I do not mean to support or condone violence. However, we really need to ask ourselves whether we as a country were more sympathetic with the victims of the Mother Emanuel shooting because they were socially upstanding and because the reaction of the townspeople was more palatable? And once we discover that answer, we need to go deeper and ask what that says about us — not those who were directly affected by the tragedy.

    This type of introspection should also extend to policy discussions in at the local, state and national level. The shooting served as a triggering event, the type of exogenous shock that can help clarify a public policy debate. We have to come to grips with the fact that it took the savage murder of nine innocent people to jumpstart a symbolic policy debate that had stalled for decades. Don’t get me wrong — I am happy to see the Confederate flag leave the South Carolina State Capitol, and I am happy that nationally, people are much more conscious of the ways that memorializing Confederate sympathizers and segregationists is painful to many people. However, if the legacy of Charleston is that a few flags came down and few streets got renamed, then the Emanuel Nine died in vain.

    The best way for us as a nation to honor the victims of the Mother Emanuel shooting is to do more than just pat ourselves on the back because their relatives took the bold, courageous and painful step of publicly starting their personal healing process. Their personal journey is not our collective journey. Our task is to interrogate the systems, institutions and practices that taught Dylann Roof that he should be superior to blacks because of the color of his skin. Our task is to reform an educational system that failed Roof and many others by not teaching them to be more discerning of historical perspectives that fail to tell the truth or the whole story.

    And our task is to have a better national conversation about race: one that doesn’t assume that every racial critique of America is unpatriotic; one that doesn’t hide behind party lines, class divisions or outdated racial assumptions; and one that doesn’t ignore evidence of obvious racial inequality or automatically dismiss such evidence on the grounds that inequality stems from bad “culture.” This is the only way to promote real racial reconciliation. If we don’t have this kind of raw, authentic conversation now, then sadly, we doom ourselves to have to repeat this kind of forum later.

    The post Column: Don’t confuse forgiveness in Charleston with forgiveness for racism appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The address to Congress by Pope Francis marks the 117th time a foreign dignitary has stood and spoken before a jointly-gathered House and Senate. Test your knowledge of the high-profile political and diplomatic tradition.

    The post Quiz: What do you know about foreign leaders addressing Congress? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Specialty medications, which include high-cost drugs that require extra care, are dramatically increasing in cost. Photo by Flickr user e-Magine Art

    A medication used to treat patients with compromised immune systems has increased by 5,000 percent, limiting the ability of patients to seek the treatment. Photo by Flickr user e-Magine Art

    The price of Daraprim, a 62-year-old medical treatment used by AIDS patients, has increased by more than 5,000 percent after being acquired by pharmaceutical company Turing Pharmaceuticals for $55 million on August 10.

    Since Turing’s acquisition, the medication has changed from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet. The drug treats people with the parasitic disease toxoplasmosis as well as those with compromised immune systems, many of whom are individuals with HIV.

    On Sunday, Turing CEO Martin Shkreli answered critics’ questions of why the price has gotten so high on Twitter.

    On Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton joined the conversation:

    Clinton’s tweet led to a 4.7 percent plunge in biotech stocks, according to Bloomberg.

    The Infectious Diseases Society of America and HIV Medicine Association wrote an open letter to Turing on Sept. 8 urging the company to reconsider the move. “This cost is unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population in need of this medication and unsustainable for the health care system,” the letter said.

    Turing CEO Martin Shkreli has said the company will use the profits from the price increase to develop new treatments for toxoplasmosis and other afflictions to the immune system.

    “We’re simply charging the right price that the markets missed, the prior owners have missed, and we’re doing something very good with those profits,” Shkreli told the BBC. “We’re putting them right back in the patient’s’ hands.”

    The post U.S. pharmaceutical company raises price of AIDS medication by 5,000 percent appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. General John Campbell, commander of international forces in Afghanistan, arrives for a change of command ceremony for the 438th Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air) at Oqab base, in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 27, 2015. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani - RTX1LXBO

    U.S. General John Campbell, commander of international forces in Afghanistan, arrives for a change of command ceremony at Oqab base in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 27, 2015. Campbell said U.S. personnel report any allegations of sexual abuse by Afghan forces. Photo by Omar Sobhani/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan said Tuesday he expects U.S. personnel to report to military superiors any allegations of sexual abuse of boys by Afghan forces. He added that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has assured him the government “will not tolerate abuse of its children.”

    The statement from Gen. John Campbell, who heads U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, came in response to reports that Afghan forces who worked with U.S. military personnel sexually assaulted boys and that U.S. troops were told to ignore suspicions of abuse. Members of Congress have complained that a U.S. soldier was forced out of the military because he intervened in 2011, attacking an Afghan police commander he believed was raping a child.

    Campbell, in his statement, said he was confident there had never been a policy that U.S. troops were to ignore suspicions of abuse.

    The general said he expects “any suspicions of sexual abuse will be immediately reported to the chain of command, regardless of who the alleged perpetrators or victims are.”

    Campbell said if the alleged abuse involves Afghans, the reports will be forwarded to him and to the staff judge advocate so that the Afghan government “can be advised and requested to take action.”

    Campbell said Ghani “made it clear to me that the Afghan government will not tolerate the abuse of its children, or any of its people, and will thoroughly investigate all allegations and administer justice appropriately.”

    The State Department, in its annual human rights reports, has consistently said that sexual abuse of children remains pervasive in Afghanistan. In its 2014 report, the State Department said that many child sexual abusers are not arrested, and “there were reports security officials and those connected to the ANP (Afghan National Police) raped children with impunity.”

    “The New York Times” reported that U.S. soldiers and Marines said they were told to look the other way when they suspected child sexual abuse by Afghan forces and in some cases were disciplined for trying to stop it.

    The post U.S. general: No policy to ignore sexual abuse of Afghan boys appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A sign is pictured at the entrance to a Planned Parenthood building in New York on Aug. 31, 2015. Picture taken August 31, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A sign is pictured at the entrance to a Planned Parenthood building in New York on Aug. 31, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats thwarted a Republican effort to ban late-term abortions on Tuesday as GOP leaders strained to avoid a government shutdown in eight days over the dispute — all against a tangled backdrop of presidential politics.

    Up next, in the first of a series of choreographed steps, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., set up a showdown vote for Thursday on stopgap legislation that would keep the government operating through Dec. 11.

    But it would also block Planned Parenthood’s federal funds for a year, and Democrats are expected to block that measure, too, setting up subsequent votes on must-pass bills to keep the government open free of the dispute over Planned Parenthood and abortion.

    Abortion politics is roiling Congress and the White House campaign as well. A number of Republicans, outraged over Planned Parenthood’s procurement of fetal tissue for scientific research, are demanding definitive action from GOP leaders.

    “If Senate Republicans cannot defund Planned Parenthood right now, there is no point in calling them Republicans,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a candidate for the GOP nomination, tweeted last week.

    President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats stand as the chief obstacles, with Democrats repeatedly blocking any legislation that undermines abortion rights.

    On Tuesday, Senate Democrats blocked a GOP measure to prohibit most late-term abortions. The Senate voted 54-42 to move ahead on the legislation, but that fell six votes short of the 60 needed to crack a filibuster mostly led by Democrats.

    Tuesday’s vote was the second time since this summer’s release of videos involving Planned Parenthood that Senate Democrats have derailed an abortion-related drive by the GOP. It was held less than 48 hours before a first-ever papal address to Congress by Pope Francis, who leads a Roman Catholic Church that rejects abortion.

    Some Republicans were unwilling to back down in the face of the Democratic opposition.

    “We should stand for our principles, and our principles should not be surrendering to the Democrats,” another presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, said Tuesday.

    But some other Republicans insisted that an abortion fight that leads to a government shutdown would make no sense.

    Asked what she’d tell conservatives, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., who faces re-election next year, said, “I’d ask, ‘What’s the end game here?’ The votes aren’t there.”

    Ultimately, McConnell’s moves appeared aimed at delivering a temporary government-wide funding bill to the House, where abortion politics seems to have GOP leaders flummoxed.

    GOP leaders in the House have staged several votes on anti-abortion legislation, but the moves haven’t satisfied a handful of GOP hardliners who are insisting that the must-pass budget measure include language stripping taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood.

    McConnell has promised that a federal shutdown — which Republican leaders fear that voters would blame on the GOP — will not happen. He also has said that efforts to halt Planned Parenthood’s money won’t succeed unless Obama is replaced by a Republican president in next year’s elections.

    The showdown is reminiscent of a failed Cruz-led attempt two years ago to use a must-pass stopgap measure to try to block implementation of the health care law. That led to a 16-day partial shutdown that GOP leaders are keen to avoid this time, especially as the presidential election draws closer.

    Hanging over it all is the weakened political standing of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who is under fire from some tea party conservatives who say he is not tough enough in battling Obama.

    Abortion foes say videos show Planned Parenthood has violated federal prohibitions against profiting from fetal tissue sales or changing some abortion procedures to maximize the harvesting of fetus organs. Planned Parenthood says it’s broken no laws and says the videos were manipulated to distort the recorded conversations.

    In Tuesday’s House debate, McConnell described human features visible in fetal sonograms and said scientists say that fetuses can feel pain 20 weeks into development — an assertion that Democrats and many doctors contest.

    “We in this chamber are never going to agree completely on the abortion question,” McConnell said. “But we should at least be able to agree that if an unborn child has reached the point where he or she can feel pain, that child’s life deserves protection.”

    Democrats have noted that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said fetal pain is unlikely until a pregnancy’s third trimester. That begins several weeks after the 20-week mark.

    Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that Tuesday marked “yet another show vote designed to honor the political wish list of extremists.”

    Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia were the only Democrats voting to keep the bill alive. Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois were the only Republicans to break their party’s ranks.

    The Republican bill would set criminal penalties of up to five years in prison for doctors who perform most abortions 20 weeks or more into pregnancy. The House approved the legislation in May.

    About 1 percent of reported abortions involve pregnancies of 20 weeks or more, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards will answer questions at a hearing next Tuesday, marking the first time the organization has testified to Congress since the first videos were released in July.

    The post Senate blocks anti-abortion bill; new showdown set appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Simona Strazdaite / EyeEm and Getty Images

    Wendy Thomas Russell suggests that parents use Lady Gaga video to talk to their sons about rape. Photo by Simona Strazdaite / EyeEm and Getty Images

    Can’t find the right opportunity to talk to your son about rape? Lady Gaga is at your service.

    The superstar singer has just released an incredibly moving video for “Til it Happens to You” — a song recorded for The Hunting Ground, a documentary about rape on college campuses. The video already has been viewed more than 7 million times on YouTube.

    Warning: The video below contains graphic content.

    There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.

    I am so grateful to Gaga for using her extraordinary platform in this way. As the mother of a daughter who will someday go off to college, the statistics — that one in four to five college girls will be sexually assaulted during her college career — are as frightening as they are maddening.

    Obviously, these conversations need to happen. But they’re not easy. I mean, rape is not exactly something you bring up at the dinner table, or a topic that comes up naturally during a walk in the park. Usually, parents have to find their own ways to broach the subject.

    Until now.

    Because if you are the parent of a boy between the ages of 11 and 18, Lady Gaga has just given you a golden opportunity to discuss this all-too-important subject. And, not to put too fine a point on it, but what you say today has the power to alter the course of a young girl’s life.

    Which brings me to this:

    10 things to tell your sons about rape

    1. “Rape is…” Let’s start with the basics. Because, unfortunately, a lot of boys and men don’t understand what constitutes a rape. And sometimes they actually rape girls without realizing they are doing it. Rape is when one person pressures, forces or manipulates another person into a sexual act.

    2. “All sex requires consent.” Consent means that you can only have sex with a girl if you know for a fact that she really, really wants to have sex with you. And you can only know if she really, really wants to have sex with you if she tells you she really, really wants to have sex with you. Otherwise, it’s rape.

    3. “Rape doesn’t always seem violent.” It can be done in an alley or in a dorm room or in a girl’s own bed. It can be done with a stranger or with a steady girlfriend. It need not seem violent. It need not even seem harmful at the time. But it’s still rape. It’s still a crime. And, no matter how you “feel” about it, rape is one of the worst things you can do to another human being.

    4. “Rape has serious consequences.” First of all, rape hurts. When a girl’s body isn’t ready for sex, the act itself can leave serious and painful injuries. Second, girls who are raped can become pregnant. Third, rape victims suffer terribly. They often become very depressed and withdrawn; their grades fall; they become fearful and often have trouble trusting people — maybe even for the rest of their lives. In some cases, girls who have been raped kill themselves. There are also consequences for the boys. Rape is a felony. If reported, it will get you put in prison. You will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. You will have trouble getting jobs. And you will have to explain your criminal record to all your future girlfriends.

    5. “A girl can say no at any time.” And when she does, you must stop immediately. If everything is going along smoothly and both you and the girl are consenting to every sexual act, there’s no problem. But the minute the girl says “No,” she has placed a gun in your hand. And if you go any further, you will be pulling the trigger. There may be a million reasons the girl said “no” — and every single of one of them is valid. Never argue with a “no.” Instead, support and encourage it. It means you’re dealing with a girl or woman who is strong and self-possessed and has boundaries. That’s a great thing.

    6. “It’s either alcohol or sex — not both.” Consent is when a girl says yes and means yes. But she can’t mean yes if she’s under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a girl has been drinking or using drugs, her mind has been altered and she is unable to give consent — even if she thinks she is! So never have sex with a girl who is drunk or high. Never. Always wait to have sex until you both are sober.

    7. “Never call a girl a slut.” A slut is a derogatory term used against girls who either enjoy sex or who have sex with multiple sex partners. Neither of those things are at all bad, and no girl deserves to be called names for it. A girl who has sex with a lot of boys can still be raped. In fact, she may be more likely to be raped because boys will expect her to have sex with them and therefore may pressure or force her to do it. So ban that word from your vocabulary. And if you hear others call a girl a “slut,” speak up. That may be an indicator that something bad is going to happen to that girl.

    8. “There is difference between sexual fantasy and sexual acts.” A lot of different things — sometimes pretty weird things — can put people in the mood for sex. Sometimes the thought of rape can turn people on. Both girls and boys can have rape fantasies, but that doesn’t mean they are rapists or that they want to be raped. It’s just fantasy. In pornographic movies, sometimes you’ll see men overpowering women in sexual ways, but the girls in those films are actually completely in control of those situations. The girls are the ones deciding what they want to do. So when you see stuff like that, remember that those movies aren’t encouraging actual rape. They are just playing out fantasies, and the girls in those movies want to be having sex — even if they are pretending they don’t.

    9. “It is not a girl’s responsibility to not get raped.” Girls owe you nothing. No matter how they look, how they act, what they wear or how much they’ve had to drink — sex isn’t yours until it is freely given. You can look at girls all you want; but you don’t touch them until you know they want you to touch them. It’s the same way for you, incidentally; girls don’t get to touch you until you want them to. But please remember that, very often, boys are a lot stronger than girls physically. And boys who are physically strong have a responsibility to use their strength for good, not for rape.

    10. “Talk to your friends about rape.”Don’t hold back. You are getting an education about this that a lot of boys don’t get. So take this conversation with you. Take it to the high school locker rooms. Take it to college. When you hear boys talking about sex, don’t be afraid to speak up. Talk about consent. Make sure all your friends are on the same page. In a very real way, this simple gesture could save a person’s life.

    The post Column: Parents, use this Lady Gaga video to talk to your sons about rape appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Faith is an intangible force, an intensely personal connection with one’s beliefs. For many, religious faith is manifested in the items they keep close to them — a book, a prayer card, a piece of jewelry.

    For Catholics, it can be a Bible or a rosary. Ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S., the NewsHour talked with several Catholics in the Washington, D.C., area to learn the stories behind the things they carry.

    What about you? What items do you carry or keep close to you as a sign of your faith? Show us in a photo and a short description on Twitter or Instagram. Use the hashtag #NewshourFaith. Or simply respond in the comments below.


    Photos by Joshua Barajas

    Daniela Zurita, 30, Alexandria, Va.

    Zurita carries the image of the Divine Mercy, which depicts a forgiving Jesus with colorful rays emanating from his body. Below the image is the message, “Jesus, I trust in you.”

    “It’s a daily reminder of God’s mercy for me,” Zurita wrote in an email. “[It] gives me the hope that he will be merciful to me even when I turn my back to him.”

    Zurita, who migrated to the U.S. from Bolivia when she was 17, said she was raised Catholic, but didn’t practice the religion. After a brief stint with Buddhism, Zurita turned to Catholicism when she was about 26.

    “I was living a very superficial life without meaning,” Zurita said, and “it wasn’t an easy transition because I had to change my life and the way I lived.”

    The Divine Mercy image, which Zurita also has pinned up at her desk at work, “keeps my heart focus in Jesus,” she said.

    Sister Mary Jerome

    Sister Mary Jerome, 47, Lake Charles, La.

    Sister Mary Jerome, along with the nuns of the Daughters of St. Paul, is always giving her rosaries away, but not before she prays on them.

    “I pray for the people I’m going to meet that day,” Sister Mary said, “Many times I’ve had a rosary on me, and someone has come up to me to tell me a story.”

    People have told Sister Mary about loved ones who have recently died, been hospitalized or diagnosed with cancer. Last time, a woman in New York approached Sister Mary, worried that she didn’t have a rosary to hang on her baby’s stroller. Sister Mary handed her rosary over.

    “There was such a look of relief that she had something to hold onto that reminded her of God,” she said. “She knew it would bring grace to her child and bring protection.”

    Eventually, Sister Mary fills her pocket with another rosary for the next person.

    Josh Maxey, 22, Irondequoit, N.Y.

    Maxey wears a silver ring engraved with the Lord’s Prayer on his right hand.

    He said the ring was a way to proudly proclaim his Christianity “because, in America especially, sometimes showing your faith isn’t exactly the norm.”

    “If people view you as religious or if you proclaim that you’re religious, whether that be Christian or Muslim or anything, they kind of have this jaded view of you,” he said.

    In his sophomore year in college, Maxey purchased the ring for about $20 during a pilgrimage to Rome. Should he — or others — doubt his faith, Maxey said the ring serves as a reminder of why he is Christian.


    Kingsley Kwofie, 46, Ghana, West Africa

    While sitting in the pews of a cathedral in Washington, D.C., Kwofie unwraps a nine-inch-long crucifix from a white plastic bag. Two rosaries are loosely wrapped around it.

    Kwofie, who came to the U.S. from Ghana in 1988, said he saw the $40 oversized cross in a Christian store in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He wanted to put it on layaway, but the store engraved his name at the bottom and gave it to him instead.

    Kwofie said the cross didn’t evoke any particular emotions.

    “I’m a Catholic. I just have the cross. That’s it,” he said. “Everyone has their own cross.”

    His just doesn’t fit in a pants pocket.

    Teresa Reyes, 65, Annandale, Va.

    In a glass display is a hand-painted roofing shingle that depicts the Virgin Mary cradling Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005. Reyes said it was a gift from a friend more than seven years ago.

    Reyes, who wears a bracelet that has the face of Pope Francis, said the spiritual father for all Catholics in the world needs prayers too.

    “We have to pray for him and for his health,” she said. “We pray that we receive with the same open hands that he has for us.”

    Reyes, who migrated from Bolivia more than 35 years ago, said she teared up when she learned Pope Francis was from Argentina. Pope Francis plans on speaking Spanish during Mass Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

    “That’s the beauty of having someone that knows us well, who lives our culture, and knows the faith that his people have in Latin America,” she said.


    Elizabeth Said, 71 , Victoria, Canada

    After being a Protestant for years, Said converted to Catholicism about eight years ago.

    In the beginning, she bought many print books from theologians that explained the Catholic faith. As Said become more familiar with the teachings of the Catholic Church, Mass was a particular draw for her because “the beauty, the mystery, the holiness is much deeper.”

    “All your senses are touched — the robes, the incense, the music — it’s different from the run-of-the-mill things,” she said.

    For Said, her plunge headlong into Catholicism proved a more cohesive experience.

    “[Catholicism] just brought things together much more,” she said. “You think of Swiss cheese with holes in it. It’s like these little holes were filled.”
    Said now carries her library of Catholic books in her iPad, whose digital bookcase also makes room for several Agatha Christie novels.

    Marvie Ponce de Leon, 66, Pasay, Philippines

    During a one-hour flight from Ilo Ilo, Phillippines, to Manila, de Leon received a “little blessing from God.”

    After talking with an old Filipino nun on the plane, the sister gave de Leon the tiny Bible dangling from her neck. The nun said to put the Bible, small enough to require a magnifying glass to read it, under your pillow at night, “and answers will just come naturally,” de Leon remembers her saying.

    “I just felt God’s grace to be chosen,” de Leon said. “This must be God’s gift to me.”

    But de Leon said the Bible, instead, stayed in her handbag because she feared she’d leave it under her pillow.

    Jenny Chabeatitudes

    Jenny Cha, 24, Arlington, Va.

    Cha leads a small women’s group at her parish. The focal point for the group is the Beatitudes, passages in the Bible that “spoke to us about what it means to be joyful, loving Christians,” she said.

    Cha, who carries a travel-sized Bible, said Pope Francis also “made such a good impression on the public” that it has improved the perceived image of the church and its followers.

    Now, conversations about her faith have softened with people not involved with the church, she said.

    “I think talking about my faith has changed a little bit because of him,” she said. “Before, when people talked about it, I had to be on defense. I felt attacked, like I had to defend my faith and who I am as a Christian.”

    The post Why we carry these tokens of faith appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    [Watch Video]Video produced by Alexandra Hall and edited by Justin Scuiletti.

    Raciel Pereda Bernet’s first skateboard was already in bad shape by the time he bought it from a girl in Havana for the equivalent of $45 U.S. dollars. Like all skateboards in Cuba, it came from “the outside” — meaning, outside of the island where all trade with the U.S. had been cut off for decades. “They all come from the outside,” Bernet said.

    Every skateboarder knows that boards break and shoes wear out. Living in the United States, that can make skating expensive, but depending on your income, it’s manageable. All cities and most small towns have skate shops, and thanks to the Internet, most equipment can be shipped to your doorstep.

    But for skaters in Cuba, the mortality of skate gear can be debilitating. That’s because skate shops, and domestic skateboard production, simply don’t exist in Cuba.

    In 2010, Bernet met Miles Jackson at the muros presidentes, a gathering place for skaters in Havana. Jackson and his girlfriend Lauren Bradley were studying abroad in Havana and noticed the lack of resources for skaters. They decided to start Cuba Skate, a nonprofit organization that would connect skaters in Cuba with skating equipment and resources.

    Raciel Pereda Bernet in Cuba.

    Raciel Pereda Bernet in Cuba on June 21, 2015. “When I first started skating, I was just a kid. But once I got older it became more than just a hobby,” he said. “Now it’s a part of me, a way for me to escape from my problems, simply because I like it.” Photo by Marian Fleita Mojena

    Despite limited connectivity to the international skateboarding world, Cuba’s DIY skate culture is talented, innovative and resourceful, Jackson said. “They make boards, that normally might last one or two weeks, last months,” Jackson said. The only thing that community needed were more material resources.

    It started as a blog. Then trips to Cuba through Canada. Five years later, Jackson hand-carries boards and other skate equipment from the U.S. to Cuba several times a year, with full authorization from the U.S. government’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

    These days, he’ll normally bring around 50 boards packed into his luggage on a single trip. That, in combination with shoes, trucks, wheels and other gear can amount to 100 lbs. “Even if we bring down all these boards, they only last so long,” he said.

    Reinaldo Vicet Reyes skating in Cuba.

    Reinaldo Vicet Reyes skating in Cuba on March 15, 2015. Photo by Neftalie Williams

    Cuba Skate raises money and donations from individuals and skate companies. The group’s next project is a complete renovation of Cuba’s only official skate park, El Patinodromo, Jackson said.

    Orlando Rosales of 23yG (a skate crew in Cuba) skating in Cuba.

    Orlando Rosales of 23yG, a skate crew in Cuba, skating in Cuba on March 15, 2015. Photo by Neftalie Williams

    Cuba Skate also organizes trips for pro skaters from the U.S. to Cuba and works to promote the concept of “global skateboard diplomacy,” the idea that cross-cultural exchange of skateboard culture between two countries can improve relations between nation states. Other skaters in the U.S. have started similar projects, like Amigo Skate and Skateistan.

    The group’s work comes at a moment when the U.S. and Cuba are normalizing relations after decades of diplomatic silence. Cultural exchange between skaters in the U.S. and other countries can help improve relations between nations from the bottom up, according to Neftalie Williams, Cuba Skate’s Chair and Research Director at USC Annenberg’s Institute of Sports, Media and Society. Williams compared the potential of skate diplomacy with the role that ping-pong played in restoring U.S.-Chinese relations in the early 1970’s.

    Skaters in the bowl outside  the Kennedy Center at the "Finding a Line" festival on Sept. 10, 2015. Photo by Alexandra Hall

    Skaters in the bowl outside the Kennedy Center at the “Finding a Line” festival on Sept. 10, 2015. Photo by Alexandra Hall

    However, there are still barriers to cultural exchange. Cuba Skate invited three skaters to travel to the U.S. from Cuba for “Finding a Line: Skateboarding, Music, and Media,” a festival showcasing skate culture at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. from Sept. 4-13. But when three Cuban skates — Orlando Enrique Rosales Caraballo, Reinaldo Jorge Vicet Reyes and Yojaní Perez Rivera — went to the U.S. consulate in Havana for their interviews, their visas were denied over concerns they planned to emigrate to the U.S., according to Jackson.

    “There must have been a miscommunication because when the Cuban skaters went for their interview in Havana, they were seen as three Afro-Cubans off the street,” said Jackson.

    Cuba Skate submitted a letter to appeal the decision, but ultimately Rosales, Vicet and Perez didn’t get to skate at the Kennedy Center. Representatives from the Kennedy Center declined to comment on the visa issue.

    But Bernet and another Cuban skater, Fernando Verdecia Maseda, who moved to Miami two years ago, were at the festival as the Cuban flag was raised in the Hall of Nations. Bernet’s new board has a drawing of a green palm tree against a black background, and it is stunning.

    Raciel Pereda Bernet skates at the "Finding a Line" festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 10, 2015. Photo by Alexandra Hall

    Bernet skates at the “Finding a Line” festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 10, 2015. Photo by Alexandra Hall

    The post What skaters can teach us about U.S.-Cuba diplomacy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by REUTERS/Stephen Lam

    The glass cliff is a phenomenon in which women are more likely to be put into leadership roles under risky and precarious circumstances. Photo by REUTERS/Stephen Lam

    Editor’s note: Women who break the glass ceiling — that unofficial barrier to professional advancement for women and minorities — sometimes face the “glass cliff.”

    Below, sociologist Marianne Cooper of Stanford University explains how the glass cliff phenomenon, in which women are more likely to be selected for risky leadership roles, might have played a role in former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao’s departure from the company. A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

    Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor

    Earlier this month, Ellen Pao announced that she was dropping the appeal of her legal case for gender discrimination and retaliation against the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins.

    Observers have noted that Pao’s story brings to life some of the obstacles women can face in the workplace, especially when in leadership roles. For example, many have characterized Pao’s resignation from Reddit as an instance of the “glass cliff.”

    The glass cliff is a phenomenon in which women are more likely to be put into leadership roles under risky and precarious circumstances.

    Discovered by psychology professors Michelle Ryan and Alex Haslam, the glass cliff is a phenomenon in which women are more likely to be put into leadership roles under risky and precarious circumstances. By taking the helm during difficult times, their odds of failure are often higher.

    Over the last 10 years, research in a variety of contexts has repeatedly documented the glass cliff.

    A study of the 2005 general election in the UK found that in the Conservative party, men were selected to contest seats that were easier to win, while women were selected to contest seats that were unwinnable. Furthermore, an analysis of CEO transitions among Fortune 500 companies over a 15-year period found that white women, and women and men of color were more likely than white men to get promoted to CEO when firms were performing weakly. Another study found that when asked, law students were more likely to assign a problematic legal case to a female attorney than a male attorney.

    What this research highlights is that not only do women get fewer leadership opportunities than men, but they also often get different kinds of opportunities. But why?

    First, some evidence suggests that the selection of a woman can signal a change in direction, especially when a company has a history of all male leaders. For under-performing companies, selecting a woman can show that a company is implementing the kind of change that is sorely needed.

    Second, research indicates that we believe men possess qualities that are more fit with running successful companies, while women possess qualities that can make them more suitable in difficult situations. When asked to describe managers in successful companies, people tended to list more stereotypical masculine qualities (decisive, forceful).

    These kinds of findings have led some to conclude that when we think crisis — we think female.

    But when asked how desirable different characteristics were for managers of unsuccessful companies, the number of stereotypical female qualities (intuitive, understanding) outweighed the number of masculine ones.

    These kinds of findings have led some to conclude that when we think crisis — we think female.

    In times of crisis, more stereotypical feminine qualities, like being collaborative or good with people, are often seen as particularly important. Thus, it may be that women are thought to be more suitable in certain types of crisis situations, since they are believed to possess these kinds of social qualities more so than men.

    In fact, research shows that feminine traits are considered to be especially important when a leader is expected to manage people, work behind the scenes to manage a crisis and “act as a scapegoat.”

    The glass cliff-phenomenon results in negative consequences all around. For individual women leaders, being put in command when the odds of success are low can set them up to fail. Despite inheriting the problems, women in glass-cliff positions are seen to be fully responsible for the bad state of affairs. After becoming synonymous with a failure, career advancement can be undermined.

    When a woman is forced off the cliff, it can reaffirm beliefs that women aren’t good leaders anyway.

    This glass-cliff dynamic can also serve to reinforce stereotypes and cultural beliefs that men are better leaders in the first place. When a woman is forced off the cliff, it can reaffirm beliefs that women aren’t good leaders anyway.

    Interestingly, analysis of women’s and men’s reactions to the glass cliff mirrors some of the reactions of the predominately male Reddit community to assertions that the criticism of Pao was sexist.

    When asked to read a newspaper article about a study of the glass cliff, women were more likely to recognize its prevalence and its unfairness. In contrast, men were more likely to, “question the validity” of the research and to “downplay the precariousness of women’s leadership positions.” Men were also more likely to “deny the existence of the phenomenon altogether than they were to explain it.”

    Women are not the only ones confronting the glass cliff. Research has found that in the Conservative party in the UK, blacks and other ethnic minorities were also selected to run for harder-to-win seats than were their white counterparts. And an analysis of NCAA men’s basketball over a 30-year period found that minorities are more likely than whites to be promoted to become head coaches of losing teams.

    In light of evidence documenting the glass cliff, why do you think many continue to deny that it exists?

    The post Why women are often put in charge of failing companies appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to a question from the audience during a community forum about substance abuse in Keene, New Hampshire August 11, 2015. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to a question from the audience during a community forum about substance abuse in Keene, New Hampshire. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the State Department to speed up its review of emails from two key aides to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan gave the department until the end of next week to complete a keyword search of thousands of work-related messages sent or received from private email accounts by aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills. Mills was Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, while Abedin was her deputy chief and considered to be among her most trusted confidantes.

    The department had sought weeks longer to complete the task.

    At a court hearing Tuesday, Sullivan peppered a pair of lawyers representing the State Department with skeptical questions about why it would take so much time.

    “How long does it take to conduct a computer search?” he asked. “You push a button.”

    Once the keyword search is complete, staffers with the required security clearances must still conduct a line-by-line review to see if the emails contain confidential information before they can be publicly released. The State Department has said records at issue wouldn’t be ready until at least December, though the process could stretch well into 2016.

    Sullivan set an Oct. 5 deadline for the department to report back to him on how long it will take to complete the review.

    The conservative political advocacy group Citizens United sued over what it contends is the slow response to Freedom of Information Act request for emails dated between June 2012 and December 2013 — a period that includes the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Clinton is currently seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

    Appearing before Sullivan, Justice Department lawyer Elizabeth Shapiro agreed with the judge that a simple keyword search shouldn’t take weeks. But she reiterated that the Citizens United request was one of thousands being processed and that there are currently about 30 lawsuits involving the emails of Clinton and her staff. That has led to numerous deadlines being imposed by the judges who are overseeing the various cases, she said.

    “The State Department is being crushed with obligations,” Shapiro said, adding that its employees are working nights and weekends to process the records requests. “Every effort is being made,” she said.

    The Associated Press is among the organizations suing the State Department over timely access to emails covering Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.

    Following Tuesday’s hearing, Citizens United President David Bossie suggested the State Department is “slow walking” the FOIA requests to delay release of potentially embarrassing emails until after key Democratic presidential primaries are held next year.

    Also on Tuesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter to Clinton lawyer David Kendall, pressing him to name all individuals within his firm who reviewed Clinton’s emails before they were provided to the State Department last year.

    GOP-led committees in both the House and Senate are investigating Clinton’s use of a private email and server while she was secretary of state. Clinton has acknowledged deleting more than 30,000 emails that she and her staff deemed personal before turning over a similar number.

    Associated Press writer Matthew Daly contributed to this report.

    The post Judge orders quicker review of emails from Hillary Clinton aide appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    circa 1925:  Portrait of American composer George Gershwin (1898 - 1937) seated at a piano in a pinstriped suit.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight, on this the last day of summer, we put away our white shoes, straw bags and sunglasses to say goodbye.

    Jeffrey Brown caught up with composer and musician Rob Kapilow recently at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, to deconstruct the iconic Gershwin song “Summertime.”

    JEFFREY BROWN: Summertime, and the living is easy, except we know it isn’t somehow, right?

    ROB KAPILOW, Composer: One of the things that’s great is Aaron Copland, when he talked about Martha Graham, who did the choreography for “Appalachian Spring,” he said about her that she is seemingly, but only seemingly, simple.

    And the same thing’s true with Gershwin. It is seemingly, but only seemingly, simple. This is supposed to be just a simple lullaby, but, in fact, there’s craft everywhere. Take even the beginning of this piece.

    I mean, everybody knows this piece as just starting with just one bar of introduction, because normally we just sing it as a song. And the voice already comes in, and you barely even notice that there was an introduction.


    ROB KAPILOW: But, in the opera, there’s eight fantastic measures before this that transition us into the world of Catfish Row in a fantastic way, and one note makes all the difference.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Musically, but one note is the key?

    ROB KAPILOW: One note is the key.

    I mean, you hear this little figure that starts and ends on the same note. You hear it one more time down low. Everyone expects this. He changes only the last note. That one note brings us into the world of Catfish Row. It’s amazing, the power of a single note.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The music changes, the landscape changes, and the mood changes.

    ROB KAPILOW: One of the central requirements for any great Broadway composer is the ability to create atmosphere in an instant.


    ROB KAPILOW: Becomes…


    ROB KAPILOW: We’re in Catfish Row.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And then the song begins and becomes a lullaby, yes.

    ROB KAPILOW: It’s just a lullaby. But it is a lullaby in a place.

    And the way he establishes that place is so beautiful and economical. We have got Catfish Row. Then she’s supposed to be rocking her baby back and forth.


    ROB KAPILOW: So he does it with two notes, rock left, rock right, and add bells in the middle, left, right, right. Now we put chords around it. Those two notes become part of rocking chords.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Of course, this is the — this is what the song is about too, right? Summertime, the living is easy. But we’re watching people for whom it’s not easy.

    ROB KAPILOW: The living is anything but easy.


    ROB KAPILOW: But in Gershwin’s imagination, somehow, it wasn’t easy, but it was filled with all the things that make community great.

    Now, he could easily have written a short note on time, and there would have been no summertime. It could have sounded like this.

    (singing): Summertime, and the living is easy.


    ROB KAPILOW: But watch that one long note on time totally takes you into the world of it, summertime. That one long note…

    JEFFREY BROWN: Slows everything down.

    ROB KAPILOW: Slows everything down. And then here.


    JEFFREY BROWN: That’s the languor you were talking about.

    ROB KAPILOW: That’s the languor in one note.

    Then he could have done:

    (singing): And the living is easy.

    But it’s:

    (singing): Easy.

    The lengthening of those few notes totally makes Catfish Row come alive for us.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s the trick of the composer, right? I mean, not trick in a pejorative sense, but…

    ROB KAPILOW: It’s artless art. It’s art that hides its art. It just sounds like a simple lullaby, but there’s so much art going on.

    In fact, everywhere you look, take what comes next. Then he has fish are jumping. Well, how do you make fish jump? That one little short note, and the fish are jumping right in front of your eyes. And then even the accompaniment, he could have just written this. But listen to these wonderful slithery chords in between. Only Gershwin would have done that.

    It’s also amazing how much he took from those black spirituals he heard down in South Carolina.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In fact, this is a Northerner, it’s a Jewish composer looking at the South, at a black community in South Carolina.

    ROB KAPILOW: Yes. It’s, in fact, two white guys speaking for the black community.

    And, in fact, there was an enormous amount of controversy when this piece came out about it. In fact, Virgil Thompson, the music critic of The Times, said in a very provocative way, who is George Gershwin to be speaking for this community that could speak for themselves?

    And I think there’s certainly a valid point there. But I think what’s wonderful about it is, he sort of took the world that he went and saw there and translated it to the best of his abilities into his own language.

    JEFFREY BROWN: He used some of the music from there…

    ROB KAPILOW: Well, actually, he was very specific about saying he didn’t want the use anyone else’s spirituals. He wanted to invent his own.

    Even the street vendor cries that he used, he wanted to write his own. So, he was very particular saying that even though he was influenced by it, he wanted nothing in there to actually be a quotation. So, even when he uses blues notes like:


    ROB KAPILOW: Believe me, that chord is not a chord that you ever heard in the blues down there.

    JEFFREY BROWN: That’s his version of the blues, yes.

    ROB KAPILOW: That’s his version.

    And I think that’s what a great artist does. He takes what’s out there in front of him, but he translates it ultimately into his own language. And that’s the difference between influence and imitation.

    I think of Gershwin, there was this belief that he could create an imaginary world that would be authentic to his imagination, if not to the reality of Charleston, South Carolina.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, “Summertime,” a great song to get us through the winter, right?

    ROB KAPILOW: Absolutely.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Rob Kapilow.

    ROB KAPILOW: Thanks so much for having me.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Thanks so much.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Another way to think about “Summertime.”

    The post How Gershwin captured the not-so-simple essence of summer in a lullaby appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Fifteen years ago, the United Nations set a goal: By this year, every child in every nation should be able to obtain free basic education.

    While the number of children out of school has been cut almost in half, there are still 57 million worldwide who have never set foot in a classroom. Hundreds of millions more have dropped out.

    PBS has been reporting on the global education crisis by following six children from different countries over 12 years, part of WNET’s documentary series “Time for School.”

    Tonight, we travel to India, where nearly 100 percent of children start primary school. But especially for girls in rural areas, staying in school remains a challenge, and literacy rates have not improved.

    NARRATOR: Neeraj Gujar is 9 years old and lives with her tightly knit family of herders in a small village in Rajasthan, a desert region in the northwest of India. It’s a deeply traditional community, where women rarely have the chance to go to school.

    NEERAJ GUJAR, India (through interpreter): My name is Neeraj. I’m about 9 or 10, and I have been studying for the past year, math, multiplication, addition. So I’m learning.

    QUESTION (through interpreter): Did you ever go to school?

    WOMAN (through interpreter): What would I go to school for? What’s so great about being educated? Even if you study, these educated people have nothing to do. Anyway, the everyday chores will take over.

    NEERAJ GUJAR (through interpreter): I work during the day. I do so much. I have to sweep. I have to bring water. I have to make dung cakes. I have to graze the cows.

    NARRATOR: Like many girls here, Neeraj can only go to school if she does so at night. In Rajasthan, 56 percent of the female population is illiterate. Schools like hers started in India to educate the country’s legions of girls, who must work all day.

    The goal was that students would eventually transfer into mainstream day schools.

    SHYOJI RAM, Teacher (through interpreter): This is our Earth. It’s round. This map is flat, but, otherwise, our Earth is round. If I keep four this side and four this side, it will equal eight.

    This education’s going to help them. An illiterate person doesn’t know these things. These girls are more confident about expressing themselves. And they’re beginning to express themselves.

    NEERAJ GUJAR (through translator): By the time I come back, everyone’s asleep. When I grow up, I want to go to a big school to study. By then, I will know more. And then maybe I can become a teacher.

    Four plus four, eight. Six plus six.

    NEERAJ GUJAR (through interpreter): It’s been a long time since I last studied.

    NARRATOR: Over the years, droughts have forced Neeraj to leave school for months at a time to graze the cattle far from home. Meanwhile, many of her friends had advanced to the day school, and, without enough students, the night school closed.

    NEERAJ GUJAR (through interpreter): I liked everything about night school. Everyone would study and talk. All the friends would sit together. I really miss that a lot.

    NARRATOR: After Neeraj’s school was closed, her teacher tried to help her transition into the government-run day school. But for all her effort, Neeraj had only qualified for second grade, so she was placed in a class with much younger children.

    NEERAJ GUJAR (through interpreter): When I was made to sit with the younger children they’d tease me, saying, “Oh, she’s so big.”

    Sitting with the little ones, I felt embarrassed. That’s why I dropped out.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): See? We let her study until first and second grade. She has to learn how to cook now. What I want is that she makes a good match and really enjoys life. What else? That’s what parents want.

    KANARAM GUJAR, Father of Neeraj (through interpreter): We will look for an educated boy. Happy, she will be.

    NEERAJ GUJAR (through translator): I met him on our wedding day. Honestly, I’m telling you the truth.

    MAN (through interpreter): I first saw her by the well in Tilonia.

    A boy marries whom his parents want him to. He has no choice in the matter. They will make sure that she’s beautiful and knows how to do all the housework. I’m a farmer, so an uneducated wife is a suitable match for me.

    NARRATOR: Neeraj is now 21 years old, and has been married for a year. Her husband, Jagdish, supports them delivering milk with his new truck. As is traditional, Neeraj lives with her in-laws, but, today, she is traveling home to give birth to her first child.

    NEERAJ GUJAR (through translator): My hearts gets happier as I get closer to my village.

    My daughter’s name is Anita. She will grow up to be a smart woman. I would like her to be a doctor in a big hospital. But who knows what will happen? I’m a mother now. No more playing around for me. We must focus on the girl’s education.

    JAGDISH, Husband of Neeraj (through interpreter): My wife and I talk when we have time. We have to work and we have to educate our daughter. We didn’t have education.

    NARRATOR: In India today, enrollment in primary schools is nearly universal compared to 84 percent 15 years ago. But school quality, absenteeism, and dropout rates still remain a problem in rural areas.

    Nonetheless, the chances for Neeraj’s daughter, Anita, are much better than they were for her mother.

    NEERAJ GUJAR (through interpreter): Now I’m filled with regret. I wish I had continued my studies. I could’ve held my own with educated folks. Now I can only do the farming and the housework.

    Education not only helps the individual, but the entire family as well.

    The post Why it’s hard for girls in rural India to stay in school appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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