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

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    shieldsandbrooks

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Capitol Hill was a historic place to be this week, with a papal visit and the surprise resignation of House Speaker Boehner.

    Of course, those are the main topics for our turn to Shields and brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Welcome, gentlemen.

    So, Mark, surprised about Boehner?

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

    (LAUGHTER)

    MARK SHIELDS: But, as Lisa reported to you from the Hill, the speaker faced what is a vote of no confidence. He would have prevailed. He would have survived, but it would have showed him weakened within his own caucus. This was among the Republican members. So, I think he made the decision to go out on his own terms.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: David, a complete shock for you?

    DAVID BROOKS: No, saw it coming months and months and months ago.

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAVID BROOKS: No, obviously, since the day he walked in the door, he’s had this challenge, and it’s grown more, but I don’t think anybody saw it coming in this way.

    Obviously, I think the papal visit had — on the timing, had an effect. There is a beautiful piece by Robert Costa of The Washington Post talking about how, the night before, Costa, a reporter, was with him on the balcony, and Boehner was saying the pope stood right here, right here, and he asked me to pray for him. And he was so moved.

    And so there’s an element of uplift, and might as well do the right thing. And this specific act was the right thing. Paul Ryan called it a selfless act. And I think it really is a selfless act. It spares us from a potential government shutdown. It helps the institution. It helps his party from the fallout from a government shutdown.

    And so I think it’s a beautiful act. Now, over the long term, the downside of Boehner was that he wasn’t that imaginative and the Republicans weren’t that aggressive in putting together a lot of policies, an alternative to Obamacare, a health care, a tax plan, whatever.

    But he did know reality. He could see reality around him. He knew the craft of politics and how you craft a deal, especially these budget deals. Some of his critics don’t seem to see that reality, that they don’t control the White House or the supermajority in the Senate. And they don’t seem to respect the craft of politics. And if they ever get in actual power, they are going to be introduced it to rudely.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, David is saying it avoids turmoil, but, in fact, Mark, there is going to be turmoil as they figure out who their leadership is and they sort — because it seems to me the conservatives still want the same things, even with a bunch of new leaders.

    MARK SHIELDS: You’re right, Judy. It postpones turmoil, instead of having it immediately.

    John Boehner was never really a good fit with this particular caucus of fire-eaters. John Boehner was a legislator. He liked politicians. He was good at his craft. Perhaps they became suspicious when John Boehner, in 2001, cooperated. He actually practiced what the pope preached to the Congress. He cooperated and compromised with Ted Kennedy and George Miller, two ranking Democrats, on George Bush, President George W. Bush’s signature proposal of Leave No Child Behind.

    And there were questions about him. He was willing to pass a highway bill. He was willing to pass an immigration bill. He was against closing down the government. He was willing to raise the debt ceiling. This raised suspicions within the true believer caucus, and which may be two dozen, it may be four dozen. And it’s not enough to pass anything.

    And they’re just — quite frankly, all they did was — I think John Boehner — I think David is right — yesterday was the day of his life. He had — for 21 years…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Pope there.

    MARK SHIELDS: … he had made the effort — he began when Tom Foley was speaker and John Paul II was pope — to get the Congress to invite him. And we never would have heard this remarkable pastor yesterday with the message of comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable yesterday and a national audience but for John Boehner.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: David, so do things change now? Does more get done, does less get done, is it the same? What’s going to be different about the way things work?

    DAVID BROOKS: I think a lot is going to be the same, assuming Kevin McCarthy takes over.

    He’s not that totally different than Boehner. He’s happy. He’s a happy guy. He’s a charming guy, right now a little more in favor with the very conservatives, but he’s still basically a reality-based politician. And he will understand how to try to do deals.

    So, I think he will get a little bit of a breather. But the people who believe that they’re in office not to pass legislation, but merely to express their id are still there. And so that conflict will still be there.

    And then, more structurally — Elaine Kamarck of the Brookings Institution had a good piece today saying that the office of the speaker is weaker because there’s less earmarks, so they can’t give away pork projects to control people. The parties are weaker because of campaign finance. And there’s just a lot of free-spirited individualism in the House now.

    And people can go off freelancing off on their own. And so the institutional power is a little weaker. So, even when a Democrat comes in, I think we’re going to see a lot more fractiousness.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Even when a Democrat comes in? You mean even…

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I mean, it’s different.

    I think both parties are ideologically polarized. The Republican — some of the Republican Party doesn’t believe in politics. I think most of the Democratic Party does believe in politics. They’re the party of government. They believe in government.

    And, so, in some sense, the Republican Party can get a little more extreme over tactics, but I think it will be hard for speakers in the future to control people, just because, if you have got a super PAC, if you got some independent expenditures, it’s hard to impose discipline anymore on the body.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, does more get done, does less get done? How do you see it?

    MARK SHIELDS: Less gets done, Judy, I believe.

    And could I be rude and just say that there are probably four dozen members of the House Republican Caucus who do not believe in government? And they are not — they have never accepted the responsibility of the governing party.

    I mean, John Boehner accepted the fact that the Republicans are the majority party in the House and the Senate. Therefore, we have a responsibility to keep government operating, not to close it down, to fund it, to compromise, to get the votes necessary to pass the legislation required. And there are four dozen who say, hell no, if it does close down, great, that’s good, that’s what we’re here about.

    And I don’t know how you govern with that. David’s absolutely right. Kevin McCarthy is one of the most gregarious members of the House. He knows his colleagues on the House — on the Republican side. He knows their kids’ names. He knows their wives’ names. He loves their company.

    It will give him a two-month honeymoon, until the talk shows start in, and the right-wing network starts up, and this four dozen caucus who — four dozen of them, three dozen, or whatever they are, are just — they are absolutely nonnegotiable.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Some have called them the heck no — stronger word — of this caucus.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s interesting that, David, this comes the day after Pope Francis comes to speak to a joint session and talks about, we need to end polarization, we need to work together. What about the pope’s message at the White House in Washington? What did you take away from it?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    Well, I thought it’s so clear how countercultural he is. We have ideological fights. He’s anti-ideological. He’s personalist. Somebody once said, souls are not saved in bundles, and he’s with each individual human being.

    I loved the moment, little girl on the street, she came up to his caravan, and he embraced her. That was a moment, the pope and the individual. And so he represents community an ethos of community and uplift, which is just different than our horizontal politics.

    It’s a vertical axis he’s on. And so, whether you’re Republican or Democrat, I think everybody felt uplifted, and both uplifted by his example and his humility, but also humbled by — he believes that the church is a hospital for the souls, and so he offered that as well.

    And I would say, in general, we can have scorecards of how political he was. I thought the political speeches were fine. The U.N., it was fine, and one agrees with it. But some of the religious statements he made at the homily up at the Catholic Basilica here in town in Washington were beautiful.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes.

    DAVID BROOKS: And the religious statements were really profoundly beautiful. And I would hate to see them get drowned out, as we weigh whether he was a little more anti-gay marriage or pro-immigration, the political stuff. The religious stuff was really quite beautiful, I thought.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What did you mainly take away from this pope and this…

    (CROSSTALK)

    MARK SHIELDS: I agree with David.

    There are a couple of things that — I was with somebody who had been at John Kennedy’s funeral, and said it was the closest thing they had seen to a Washington event since John Kennedy’s funeral, in this sense. Most events in Washington, other than inaugurals, which are a celebration, most of them, people come in great numbers to protest, for redress of grievances.

    This was a joyful crowd. They waited for hours, literally hours, to see him for four or five, six seconds away, and walked away satisfied. And it was a joyful and very considerate crowd. It lacked the usual Washington elbows: Do you know who I am? I should be up front.

    That was missing. I thought the speech to Congress was magic, in the sense that just watching the feeling in that room. There was a sense of awe about the man. But — and I agree with the scorecard, as to — which he did. He walks where he chooses to walk. He doesn’t prim. He doesn’t cockle. He says the same whatever audience he’s speaking to.

    And the thing about the man that just strikes me is, history is written by winners, and it’s written about winners. It’s written about victorious generals and princes and powerful presidents.

    And what — as John Carr said to you last — John Carr, Georgetown University — this man’s an outsider. He looks at the world from the bottom up and from the outside in. And after the speech, instead of accepting the lunch where all the power brokers of Washington come to lionize you on Capitol Hill and get all the toasts, he went down with 300 homeless people, and he fed with them and ate with them.

    And it was just — it was marvelous. And he compared — he pointed out that Jesus was born homeless. It was just a marvelous — so it’s the eloquence of his symbols, as well as his language.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Does it linger, David? Does something last? Is something now embedded in this city and anywhere else as a result of this? Or is this a fleeting moment?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, well, the lion won’t lie down with the lamb.

    But I think he leaves a residue on people. I think it’s a profound memory with people, and it’s a moment of uplift for people. And so I think a lot of nonbelievers were moved. A lot of lapsed Catholics were moved. A lot of Jews and Protestants were moved. Everyone was sort of moved.

    And that emotion leaves a residue. But I think, also, for a lot of people, I think the big effect — and this is Mark’s church — a lot of people, lives will be changed. Some tens of thousands will go to a mass, and their lives will be changed.

    And we emphasize the man so much, but what he’s saying is the product of 2,000 years of teaching, of thought, of prayer. And he’s the current exemplar. We sort of overemphasize the individual and underemphasize the institution, I think, throughout this visit.

    But for some large number of people, this will be a turning point in their lives. And that’s sort of worth celebrating. In Philadelphia, or in Madison Square Garden tonight, some people, this will be the moment something very fundamental shifts in their lives. And politics rarely achieves that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It certainly isn’t something we see very often.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Mark Shields, we thank you both.

    MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

    The post Shields and Brooks on Boehner’s leadership turmoil, Pope Francis’ uplifting visit appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama (R) greets Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington September 25, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTX1SGZZ

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    For more on what they might and might not be discussing at that dinner, I’m joined by John Mearsheimer, a professor at the University of Chicago and former Air Force officer. Susan Shirk, she was a deputy assistant secretary of state for China in the Clinton administration. She now chairs the 21st Century China Program at the University of California, San Diego. And Christopher Johnson, a senior adviser who closely watches China at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    Welcome, all three, to the program.

    Let’s talk first about what was accomplished, China signing on to this climate change agreement, so-called cap-and-trade system, Susan Shirk, wherein they limit how much an industry can pollute. How significant is this?

    SUSAN SHIRK, University of California, San Diego: Well, it’s very significant because air pollution has become a domestic political problem in China.

    And the Chinese leadership has, therefore, gotten very serious about its commitments on climate change, because these two issues are very much related. And to see China and the United States both making strong commitments on climate change going into the U.N. climate summit…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In…

    SUSAN SHIRK: … in December is — sends a message that the two countries can cooperate when their interests are as aligned as this one.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Christopher Johnson, you see it as important?

    CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON, Center for Strategic and International Studies: Absolutely. I think so.

    And, as Susan pointed out, the sort of message it sends for the Paris conference is really the important piece here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: John Mearsheimer, what would you add on that?

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER, University of Chicago: I agree, but this was the easy one.

    The problem is that there are a number of different issues here that really matter, some more than this, and on a lot of those issues, not much progress was expected or made.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we want to get to those.

    But I do want to ask you about cyber-spying, John Mearsheimer. The agreement they said they have made to clamp down on cyber-spying, an agreement on the theft of intellectual property, how important is all that?

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER: Well, it’s very important to emphasize that there was no agreement on what one might call traditional spying via cyber, so we can continue to spy on them in the national security realm, and they can continue to spy on us.

    But where there was an agreement is on the economic front, and they were obviously stealing lots of our economic secrets, and we were not stealing hardly any of theirs, and the end result is that the agreement they came up with, if they can enforce it, will be a good agreement for the United States.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Christopher Johnson, how do you see that?

    CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: I agree.

    I think that the main value in the agreement really is that it starts to put some parameters around the discussion. And I think what will see next, From the U.S. point of view, is that when we have evidence — and we will have evidence — of this economic espionage, we will then go to the Chinese and say, under your commitments of this new agreement, we expect to see prosecutions on your side. And if those don’t happen, then we will move to sanction those firms or individuals that have been involved.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Susan Shirk, what about the areas now where they didn’t make much headway, China’s territorial ambitions, human rights? Was much expected was going to happen in those areas anyway?

    SUSAN SHIRK: No, I don’t think we expected much to happen, and not much did.

    On the — China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea, Xi Jinping has become so strongly invested in those issues as a focal point of domestic nationalism, and it’s a great way for him to get people to rally around the flag and rally around him at a time when the economy is growing more slowly, there are potential domestic discontents.

    So, it’s just too attractive a kind of — it leads to tension with your neighbors and tension with the U.S., but it works for Him at home.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: John Mearsheimer, so how much of a problem is it for the United States, for U.S. allies like Japan, Vietnam, that they didn’t get much done in that area?

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER: Well, the South China Sea is a huge problem for the United States, because our credibility in the region really matters, and it’s at stake in this particular case.

    The Japanese are watching us very carefully, because the Japanese depend on us for security, and it’s our nuclear umbrella that’s over their heads, so they want to know how tough we’re going to be with the Chinese if the Chinese begin to push. And the Chinese are pushing in the South China Sea.

    They have very ambitious goals, and the United States has really not drawn any lines in the sand up to this point. And I think at some point, we’re going to have to do that, and I think it’s going to get very messy at that time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Christopher Johnson, is the U.S. any closer to drawing a line?

    CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: I think we’re getting there. I think we’re getting there.

    But it’s important that when we think about what China is doing in the South China Sea, as John was suggesting, we have to think about it in the broader context of China’s broader maritime strategy that is emerging.

    And the message they’re sending to the region and to the United States is, effectively, our forces will operate at times of our choosing, perhaps even with impunity, in this area out to the so-called Second Island Chain of Guam, and the rest of you have to accept it. And if you don’t want to accept it, we care more about this space than you do.

    And the Chinese are trying to get, for the first time in their history, some maritime strategic depth around their country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s — let’s broaden this out, Susan Shirk. the relationship between the two men, let’s — overall China-U.S. relations, are they any better coming out of these two days of meetings, do you believe?

    (CROSSTALK)

    SUSAN SHIRK: They’re not any worse.

    I wouldn’t say this was a home run kind of summit, as — last November, we had a summit in Beijing where the two leaders made some — three sets of very substantive agreements. And Xi Jinping, because he was the host then, he really bent over backwards to make that a successful summit. Here, he was coming, he was getting the state visit. He already had it, and he didn’t have — he didn’t want to give as much.

    And these issues are tough for him. So, I don’t say this was great. And the relationship has become a lot more competitive since I served in government at the end of the Clinton administration. So — and I think this is not going to turn that around.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: John Mearsheimer, a lot of reporting about the efforts by President Xi to consolidate his power in China. What do you see in the months to come in the overall U.S.-China relationship?

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER: Well, I think that he has a significant domestic problem at home, for two reasons.

    One is that he doesn’t have a lot of legitimacy, in the sense that communism, which is the ruling ideology, doesn’t have much power these days. And, furthermore…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean even with the Chinese people?

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER: Even with the Chinese people.

    And, as a result, he’s been playing the nationalism card. And that causes all sorts of problems, because it forces him to be more aggressive in foreign policy. At the same time, he’s having significant economic problems at home. And it’s very hard to predict where this train is headed, but these economic problems could get worse. And that may force him to be more aggressive on the foreign policy front, for the purposes of trying to keep those centrifugal forces at home at bay.

    So, this could get messy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You know, John — the point that John makes, Christopher Johnson, reminding us about the Chinese economy, the difficulty they have had with their markets, the effect that has had on the rest of the world, there really wasn’t much mention of that today.

    CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: Yes, and that is what was surprising.

    I think it would have been much more helpful. I think this was a missed opportunity. If both presidents had taken the opportunity they had to reassure global equity markets that the two countries are working together to stabilize these markets, that would have been very, very useful, and I think that was a missed opportunity.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How much is known about how well the two men, the two leaders get along with each other, and does that really make a difference?

    CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: Not much is known. I think it certainly makes a difference.

    I think what we can say is, they have worked hard on their relationship. And that goes back to their first meeting at Sunnylands in California, where they had this shirtsleeve summit and so on. I think you can characterize the relationship as not close, but respectful and candid.

    And my sense is that when they have — especially when they have these more informal settings — like, last night, there was a two-hour, almost three-hour private dinner between the two.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Small dinner.

    CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: Yes. Today was just the formal mechanics. Last night was where they really discussed these issues.

    And I think they have had in-depth conversations about each other’s political systems, about some of these regional architectural regions that John has referenced. So, they do have candid discussions, but the relationship clearly is not close.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s one that we all will continue to focus on.

    Christopher Johnson, Susan Shirk and John Mearsheimer, thank you, all three.

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER: Thank you.

    CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: Thank you.

    SUSAN SHIRK: Thank you.

    The post What did and didn’t get done at the U.S.-China White House summit appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama and China's President Xi Jinping (L) hold a joint news confernce in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington September 25, 2015.        REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTX1SHMJ

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, climate change was also a top priority at the White House today, when President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping found common ground. But important issues still divide them.

    It was President Xi’s first state visit to Washington, and it began with all the pageantry the White House can muster.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: On behalf of the American people, welcome to the United States.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The leaders of the world’s two largest economies headlined cooperation on climate change.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today, I want to commend China for announcing that it will begin a national market-based cap-and-trade system to limit emissions from some of its largest sectors.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There was also formal agreement to clamp down on cyber-attacks. President Xi said confrontation on the issue is not the right choice.

    PRESIDENT XI JINPING, China (through interpreter): China and the United States should strengthen dialogue and cooperation. And both governments will not engage in or knowingly support online theft of intellectual properties.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But Mr. Obama said China must make good on its promises, or the U.S. could consider new sanctions.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What I have said to President Xi and what I say to the American people is, the question now is, are words followed by actions?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Beijing’s aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea also loomed large in today’s discussions. President Xi called again for cooperation, even as he defended his nation’s actions.

    PRESIDENT XI JINPING (through interpreter): China is committed to the path of peaceful development and a foreign policy characterized by good neighborliness and partnership with our neighbors. Islands in the South China Sea since ancient times are China’s territory. We have the right to uphold our territorial sovereignty and lawful and legitimate maritime rights and interests.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Chinese leader likewise gave no ground on his nation’s human rights policies, saying, countries have different historical processes and realities.

    President Xi’s visit to Washington culminates tonight with a formal state dinner at the White House.

    The post Obama presses Xi Jinping to crack down on cyber attacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Pope Francis arrives to greet UN staff members at United Nations headquarters with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York September 25, 2015. The pope will address the UN General Assembly. REUTERS/AP Photo/Kevin Hagen/Pool - RTX1SGNK

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Pope Francis delivered a strong and sweeping call today for action to address climate change, making the case before a global summit in Paris this November.

    It was part of a wide-ranging speech that took sharp aim at materialism and warned of further suffering for the poorest citizens.

    Hari Sreenivasan has the story from New York City.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Fresh from two days in Washington, the pope moved to a global audience, the 193 member states of the United Nations General Assembly.

    POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter): We cannot permit ourselves to postpone certain agendas for the future. The future demands of us critical and global decisions in the face of worldwide conflicts.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In his native Spanish, Francis called again for a unified response to crises, especially threats to the Earth itself.

    POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter): A true right of the environment does exist. Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is a harm done to humanity.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Climate change has been a recurring theme in the pontiff’s first U.S. visit. And, today, he tied it to another issue that’s central to his papacy, social and economic injustice.

    POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter): The misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion. In effect, a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Instead, he insisted, the less fortunate must become — quote — “dignified agents of their own destiny,” with basic rights to lodging, labor and land and to education for all. The pope also appealed for a safer world for all humanity, free of nuclear weapons, and he praised the nuclear agreement with Iran.

    But he lamented the failure to stop the wars in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, and the resulting floods of refugees.

    POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter): In wars and conflicts, there are individual persons, our brothers and sisters, men and women, young and old, boys and girls who weep, suffer and die, human beings who are easily discarded when our only response is to draw up lists of problems, strategies and disagreements.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: From the U.N., Francis traveled to Ground Zero, where he led a moment of silence for those killed in the September 11 attacks. He left a white rose on the memorial’s reflecting pool that’s etched with the names of those lost.

    And in the site’s underground museum, he shared the stage with clerics of various faiths.

    POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter): For all our differences and disagreements, we can live in a world of peace. In opposing every attempt to create a rigid uniformity, we can and must build unity on the basis of our diversity of languages, cultures and religions.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The pope also visited a Catholic school in East Harlem this afternoon, then motorcaded through Central Park, where up to 80,000 people looked on.

    The final stop of the day is just a couple of blocks behind me at Madison Square Garden, where the pope will celebrate mass with about 18,000 people. Tomorrow, he heads to Philadelphia to lead a summit with thousands of families and wrap up his U.S. tour.

    In New York City, I’m Hari Sreenivasan for the PBS NewsHour — Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thanks, Hari.

    And you can explore all of our coverage of Pope Francis’ visit online at PBS.org/NewsHour. You can also download our new app for iPhone or Android.

    The post Pope Francis calls for peace and dignity for the poor at UN appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) publicly announces his resignation as Speaker and from the U.S. Congress at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 25, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  - RTX1SI3I

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We return now to the resignation of House Speaker John Boehner and how it’s seen by the most conservative members of the House.

    A short time ago, I spoke with Republican Congressman Reid Ribble of Wisconsin.

    Representative Ribble, welcome to the NewsHour.

    You were part of a small group of conservative House members who met with Speaker Boehner yesterday. Was his resignation a result of that meeting?

    REP. REID RIBBLE (R), Wisconsin: Oh, not at all.

    In fact, that whole idea didn’t even come up in the meeting. All of us were quite surprised this morning. Even Kevin McCarthy mentioned that he was told only moments before. And so, it caught us all off-guard. The resignation or the speaker’s position wasn’t part of our discussion with the speaker yesterday.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think this is a good thing for the House of Representatives?

    REP. REID RIBBLE: Certainly, there has been a lot of concern about maintaining the status quo here.

    I personally thought the speaker was doing a pretty good job trying to manage the very diverse opinions within this conference. There’s 247 Republicans, and they span the political breadth of Republicanism in this country. And it’s difficult to get them all to agree on a particular tactic or strategy.

    And so I felt pretty good about how the speaker was trying to advance our principles, but, clearly, there was some dissatisfaction.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, there has been rejoicing among many conservatives. We know there was a standing ovation at the Values Voters Summit gathering. We know a number of the conservative House members have said they think this is a good thing.

    I guess my question is, you’re still dealing with a Democratic president. The Senate is a different place from the House. How do conservatives in the Republican Caucus get what they want now? How is it going to be any different or any better?

    REP. REID RIBBLE: You know, I think the one thing that conservatives are going to ask for is a more strict adherence to regular order.

    I think we often accept not getting our perfect solution when we feel we have been part of the process, that the process itself has been followed correctly, that members have a chance to offer amendments to bills that come to the floor. I think those were some of the things that were creating some anxiety.

    But the reality is, as you just mentioned, we do have a Democratic president, we don’t have a supermajority in the Senate, and so we’re going to try to advance a conservative agenda forward through the House, and we will just see what Mitch McConnell can do over in the Senate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is this a win, though, right now for House conservatives?

    REP. REID RIBBLE: Well, I don’t know that — I don’t know that any of us — I suppose there are some that would say it’s a win. I’m not necessarily looking at it as a win.

    But I do know this, that every single time that you change somebody in leadership — I know this happened in my company before I came to Congress and now — when you have a chance to change some people, you shake up the status quo, you force us to look at things through maybe a little different lens and different prism. And so we might end up with a different result.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It is our understanding, though, that, right now, the thing that conservatives wanted most, and that is for Planned Parenthood not to be funded, is not going to happen, that there apparently is going to be an agreement that it will be funded for the time being.

    So how is that a positive in the mind of conservatives?

    REP. REID RIBBLE: Yes.

    Well, I think there’s a couple things — I think there’s a couple of very fluid dynamics going on. First of all, a couple of the major national right-to-life organizations have asked members of Congress like myself not to shut down the government over the funding of Planned Parenthood, but to continue to try to make the case for the American people, so that you can win the hearts and minds of the American people.

    I thought the pope spoke out forcibly yesterday and forcefully on the issue of pro-life, where he said that we should respect life at every stage of development. And so I think there’s still some seizing that goes on. We have another bite at this apple in December, when we do the full funding for the year.

    We have some opportunity to — again to expose the practices of Planned Parenthood in the next 60 days. So, we will see what happens from there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Representative Reid Ribble of Wisconsin, we thank you.

    REP. REID RIBBLE: You’re very welcome. It’s good to be with you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, for more, let’s turn to our political director, Lisa Desjardins, whom we have heard from just a moment ago. She is now on Capitol Hill.

    So, Lisa, is there anything more we need to understand about why Boehner did this right now?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Well, I think that one major factor, Judy, was the meeting that Representative Ribble was in yesterday with some of the most conservative members of the House.

    My understanding is that they let the speaker know that they were going to make their move against him, they were going to call a vote basically questioning his speakership on the floor of the House, and that that essentially sparked Boehner’s decision to resign, rather than force that vote. He mentioned that today, and I think that’s exactly why this is happening now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You gave us a sense in your report of what the reaction is. I mean, overall, shock, surprise, disappointment, a mixture? What?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Very surprised from all corners, even from those conservatives who were trying to push back at Boehner.

    But I think there is certainly a very stark difference in reaction between Boehner supporters, which may even be the majority of his conference. Some of them are frankly outraged, Judy. You could hear even just asking questions about other things on the phone to some of their supporters today how mad and bitter they are.

    They’re worried that a minority of their conference is using these hard tactics to push out, they think, strong leadership. But then, from conservatives, there is more of a sense of relief and a sense of hope. But what there is not, I don’t think, from anyone, Judy — and it’s notable — is a sense of exactly what the long-term plan is here, how this caucus that remains divided governs, especially, as you asked Representative Ribble, with a Democratic president and a Senate that doesn’t have enough votes to pass controversial legislation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, do you — what’s your understanding that conservatives think is going to change, is going to be better? You heard Representative Ribble say, well, there’s going to be more following regular order.

    I think most people don’t understand what that means.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Right.

    What that means is that most — that they’re hoping that conservatives will be able to put more amendments on the floor and at least get up-or-down votes on their ideas. They think that there perhaps weren’t enough votes recently on different versions of defunding Obamacare. Obviously, we know, in years past, there were many votes on defunding Obamacare.

    But conservatives want to put more issues on the floor. They want more amendments. They don’t seem to believe that they’re going to win out in the end, but they seem to just want at least a chance to vent.

    Now, as to the endgame, I asked Speaker Boehner today how he thought his stepping down would lead away from turmoil, would lead to a more stable House Republican Party, and his answer at the end was, hope springs eternal.

    I think that speaks again, Judy, to the fact that this is just a place that is frustrated and these are House Republicans trying something different.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, just quickly, it looks like Kevin McCarthy, the majority leader, front-runner for the speakership, but the rest of it is up in the air.

    LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right.

    I think Kevin McCarthy is clearly the man to beat right now. There is — there was an announcement I just got in the past few minutes from Florida Representative Daniel Webster. He’s thrown his hat in the ring.

    But I don’t think he is right now going to beat out Kevin McCarthy. The other races are going to be rather close, and especially to see this conservative vs. more moderate wing. And I think, Judy, it’s interesting that, in the past four years, all three of the top three positions in the top Republican Party will have had new faces. That’s a big deal.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, a wild day at the Capitol.

    Lisa Desjardins, thanks.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Thank you.

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    Security officers work at the command and control operation center in Mina near Saudi Arabia's holy Muslim city of Mecca on September 25, 2015. At least 700 people were killed and hundreds wounded during a stampede at the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia, in the second tragedy to strike the pilgrims this year. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH        (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP/Getty Images)

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    Meanwhile, in other news, recriminations set in after the deadly stampede in Saudi Arabia that left at least 719 Muslim pilgrims crushed to death. It happened yesterday at Mina, just outside Mecca, where more than two million people are taking part in the annual Islamic pilgrimage known as the hajj.

    Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News has our report.

    LINDSEY HILSUM: King Salman of Saudi Arabia received pilgrims’ representatives at his palace in Mina today.

    He talked of Arab and Islamic unity and of preventing hidden hands from causing mischief in Muslim lands. Not all the faithful will accept that. Amateur video shot yesterday shows emergency workers amongst piles of bodies. Other footage shows people waiting to enter the Jamarat yesterday. One gate is opened, the crowd presses in the danger is obvious.

    Dissident voices say there’s little chance of a transparent investigation. That’s just not the Saudi government’s priority. In Tehran, they were protesting about the 131 Iranians who were killed in Mina. “Death to the Saudi monarchy,” she shouted, but this grief is orchestrated, not spontaneous. Shiite Iran is Sunni Saudi Arabia’s sectarian and regional rival.

    The governments sponsor opposing forces in Syria and Yemen. Yesterday’s tragedy will fuel antagonism and political strife. Today, a official pictures showed a calm scene a that Jamarat, while pilgrims carried out the ritual stoning of the devil. Some two million Muslims are staying in the massive city of air-conditioned tents in Mina.

    The Saudis have talked of increasing the number next year. Now the pilgrims will move towards Mecca, despite the danger, the acrimony and the grief for those who lost their lives.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Saudi officials say they expect the death toll to rise, as they continue counting bodies.

    The head of soccer’s world body, FIFA, President Sepp Blatter, now faces a criminal investigation for alleged corruption. Authorities in Switzerland interrogated Blatter today and searched his office. U.S. and Swiss officials announced in May they’re looking into corruption at the sport’s highest levels. After that, Blatter said he will step down early next year.

    In Europe’s migrant crisis, the prime minister of Hungary promised today to consult with neighboring states before closing his border with Croatia. But Hungary also neared completion of a fence on that border, where thousands have crossed in recent days. Thousands more are crossing Serbia to get to Croatia. A top European official was there today to witness the influx firsthand.

    JOHANNES HAHN, European Commission: It’s a global problem, and we can only give a European answer. It’s not something where we can leave only one country with itself to resolve the problem. This problem can only be managed if we are all working together.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, there was trouble in Finland, where dozens of protesters threw stones and set off fireworks at a bus carrying foreign asylum seekers. The government condemned the violence.

    Back in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency announced auto emissions testing is going to get more stringent. EPA’s head of air quality said the agency wants to know if other automakers also cheated on the tests, as Volkswagen has admitted doing. The head of V.W. has resigned, and today, Matthias Mueller, who now runs V.W.’s Porsche unit, was named the company’s new CEO.

    California today reimposed the United States’ toughest carbon emission standard. It mandates cutting transportation fuel emissions by 10 percent within five years. And it counts the pollution generated by producing the fuel, as well as by driving. The issue’s been on hold since 2009 because of legal challenges.

    And on Wall Street, stocks had an up and down day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 113 points to close near 16315. The Nasdaq fell 48 points, and the S&P 500 slipped one point. For the week, the Dow lost a fraction of a percent, the Nasdaq fell nearly 3 percent, and the S&P shed 1.5 percent.

    The post News Wrap: Saudi officials blame pilgrims for deadly stampede appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) discusses his resignation in a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 25, 2015. Boehner will step down and leave the House at the end of October after struggling with repeated rebellions by conservatives during a tumultuous five-year reign as the chamber's top Republican. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert    - RTX1SHYW

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: On this day, when a pope and two presidents were already making headlines, a surprise resignation came along to stun Washington.

    We begin with the announcement that the speaker of the United States House of Representatives is stepping down.

    NewsHour political director Lisa Desjardins reports.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), Speaker of the House (singing): Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, my, oh, my, what a wonderful day.

    LISA DESJARDINS: With his decision, House Speaker John Boehner, the happy warrior, projected a kind of personal relief and institutional sacrifice.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER: It’s become clear to me that this prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable harm to the institution. So, this morning, I informed my colleagues that I would resign from the speakership and resign from Congress at the end of October. Now, as you have often heard me say, this isn’t about me.

    LISA DESJARDINS: In fact, it had become about him, at least in part. Boehner was again under fire from Tea Party Republicans pushing to defund Planned Parenthood, even if it means closing the government. They’d threatened a floor vote to try to strip him of the speakership.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER: There was never any doubt about whether I could survive the vote, but I don’t want my members to have to go through this.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The Ohio Republican said he’d planned to resign at the end of this year anyway, after five years as speaker and midway through his 13th term.

    But his bombshell left House supporters lamenting their loss.

    REP. STEVE STIVERS (R), Ohio: I think he has always been the adult in the room and tried to do what he thinks is right, even if it is not in his best political interest.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Boehner’s counterpart in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, praised the speaker’s legacy.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), Majority Leader: He is an ally; he’s a friend. And he took over as Republican leader at a very difficult time for his party.

    LISA DESJARDINS: At the White House, the nation’s top Democrat offered his own measured praise for a man who’d opposed most of his agenda.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: He is somebody who has been gracious, and I think, maybe most importantly, he’s somebody who understands that, in government, in governance, you don’t always get 100 percent of what you want.

    LISA DESJARDINS: But at a conservative summit in Washington, when Senator Marco Rubio brought up the speaker:

    SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Presidential Candidate: Just a few minutes ago, Speaker Boehner announced that he will be resigning.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    LISA DESJARDINS: The crowd cheered.

    Back at the Capitol, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the resignation seismic and symbolic of problems in Boehner’s party.

    REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), House Minority Leader: That resignation of the speaker is a stark indication of the disarray of the House Republicans, a demonstration of their obsession with shutting down government at the expense of women’s health.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Now, the focus turns to the new Republican leadership races, with Boehner’s number two, Kevin McCarthy of California, an early candidate to replace him as speaker.

    Many, like Georgia’s Lynn Westmoreland, are contemplating whether to run for other leadership spots, but are unsure what the changes will mean.

    Do you think a different speaker would produce a different outcome for House Republicans?

    REP. LYNN WESTMORELAND (R), Georgia: No, I think the outcome is going to be the same.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The leadership elections are expected to take place November 1.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We will get more insight into what drove Boehner’s decision and how it’s being received in just a moment.

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    [Watch Video]
    PBS NewsHour is live streaming several of Pope Francis’ U.S. events in the player above. He celebrates Mass and attends the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia this weekend.

    Pope Francis is meeting with inmates and lawmakers, celebrating Mass in three different cities, and addressing world leaders during his first visit to the United States, and the first by any pope since 2008.

    We’ll be showing his public events as they happen all week and updating this page with recaps.

    Read our complete guide to the pope’s visit.

    Wednesday, Sept. 23

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

    Pope Francis met Wednesday morning with President Barack Obama at the White House, where he applauded the president’s proposal for reducing air pollution. “Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to our future generation,” the pope said.

    “Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to our future generation.” – Pope Francis
    He also cheered “the efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom.”

    Following the meeting, the pope took a lap around the Ellipse in the popemobile. “Our backyard is not typically this crowded,” joked President Obama.

    Pope Francis reaches for a child during a parade in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 23. Photo by Alex Brandon/Pool  via Reuters

    Pope Francis reaches for a child during a parade in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 23. Photo by Alex Brandon/Pool via Reuters

    Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Wednesday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., where he canonized Junipero Serra, a Spanish-born priest who started nine missions in California in the 1700s. You can watch it below:

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    Thursday, Sept. 24

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

    Pope Francis addressed a joint meeting of Congress, the first for any pope, on Thursday and spoke in support of the poor, elderly and young. He said in light of today’s violent conflicts, including those committed in the name of God and religion, “our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice.”

    “Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice.” – Pope Francis
    He spoke up for immigrants and for treating refugees with compassion. He urged lawmakers to help the poor while protecting nature. And the pope, who will be visiting the Festival of Families in Philadelphia in a few days, encouraged general support of families, particularly the young and most vulnerable.

    Read his full remarks.

    Friday, Sept. 25

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    In his address to the United Nations on Friday, Pope Francis spoke of the need for government leaders “to ensure that all can have the minimum spiritual and material means needed to live in dignity and to create and support a family, which is the primary cell of any social development.”

    Read his full speech as translated by the Vatican.

    He participated in an interfaith ceremony at the 9/11 memorial:

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    The pope finished the day be celebrating Mass at Madison Square Garden.

    Saturday, Sept. 26
    • Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at 10:30 a.m. EDT.
    • At 7:30 p.m. EDT, he participates in the World Meeting of Families, a gathering that takes place every three years in a different international city. Prior to his appearance, he will travel by popemobile along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the first of two parades. His second parade, a shorter version of the same route, happens Sept. 27 before the open-air Mass.

    Philadelphia map

    Sunday, Sept. 27
    • At 4 p.m. EDT, Pope Francis celebrates an open-air Mass at the Festival of Families before heading to the airport to fly back to Rome.

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    How did Argentina’s “slum bishop” become the Americas’ first pope?

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    Kentucky's Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who was briefly jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, makes remarks after receiving the "Cost of Discipleship" award at a Family Research Council conference in Washington September 25, 2015. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan - RTX1SJGZ

    Kentucky’s Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who was briefly jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, speaks Sept. 25 at a Family Research Council conference in Washington. Credit: James Lawler Duggan

    By Adam Beam and Claire Galofaro

    LOUISVILLE, Ky.  — Defiant Kentucky clerk Kim Davis stood on a stage in a Washington, D.C., hotel Friday night and spread her arms triumphantly.

    “I am only one, but we are many,” she exclaimed to the crowd, and thanked God for the courage to continue her crusade against gay marriage.

    Davis, who spent five days behind bars in early September for violating a federal court order, was honored by conservative lobbying group Family Research Council Friday night for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the Supreme Court’s decision in June that effectively legalized gay marriage across the nation.

    Earlier in the day, Davis, a lifelong Democrat, announced she is switching to the Republican Party because she feels abandoned by Democrats.

    “I’ve always been a Democrat, but the party left me,” Davis said, according to the law firm representing her.

    After the Supreme Court’s decision, a federal judge ordered Davis to issue the licenses, but she refused, and opted to spend five days in jail rather than license a gay marriage. The ordeal propelled her to folk hero status among some on the religious right.

    Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, invited her and her husband Joe onto the stage Friday night, presented her with flowers and a poster-sized framed certificate and called her a “model of personal courage.”

    Davis was elected Rowan County clerk last fall as a Democrat. She replaced her mother, also a Democrat, who served as county clerk for 37 years.

    But Republicans, not Democrats, came to her defense.

    Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist preacher running for president but trailing badly in the polls, rushed to Davis’ side, visited her in jail and held a religious freedom rally on the jailhouse lawn. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also traveled to Kentucky to bask in her defiance.

    Davis meanwhile lumps blame for her legal problems on Steve Beshear, the state’s Democratic governor, who refused to call the state legislature for a special session and allow lawmakers to hammer out a way to exempt religious clerks from issuing the licenses. The governor instead told clerks to either issue the licenses or resign.

    So when a Reuters reporter asked her in Washington on Friday about the support she’d received from the GOP, Davis revealed that she decided last week to switch her allegiances to the Republican ticket, her attorney, Mat Staver, wrote in a statement.

    “However, the issue of religious freedom in this case is not a partisan issue,” he added. “It is neither Republican nor Democrat. It is an inalienable right and what makes America the land of liberty.”

    Davis declined an interview request from The Associated Press.

    Davis was released from jail earlier this month on the condition that she not interfere with her deputies issuing the licenses. But her legal woes persist: On the day she returned to the office, Davis altered the license forms to delete her name and her office, and replaced it with the line “pursuant to federal court order.”

    The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued her on behalf of the couples she turned away, questioned the validity of the licenses, asked the judge to order her to reissue them or consider punishing her again.

    Her lawyer, Mat Staver, founder of the Liberty Counsel, a law firm that opposes gay rights, did not say in his remarks Friday night what she intends to do, though hinted that she will not bow to the court’s order: she will not resign, he said, and she will not betray her conscience.

    He said she has received thousands of letters from every state and across the globe, he claimed. People have stopped her in airports this week, as she’s traveled to make the rounds on television news programs. Strangers have hugged her, flashed her thumbs’ up, and stopped her to take selfies, Staver claimed.

    He dismissed widespread accusations that Davis is a hypocrite for taking a stand on traditional marriage. She has been divorced three times and married four, including twice to her current husband. She was saved four years ago, he reminded the crowd.

    Davis said little when she took the stage Friday night.

    She choked back tears, thanked the crowd and thanked the Lord.

    “Without him, none of this would have been possible,” the clerk said, “for he is my strength that carried me.”

     

     

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    WASHINGTON  — The gulf between tea party conservatives and establishment Republicans has grown so wide that it just swallowed up the speaker of the House, and may threaten the entire Republican Party and Congress itself.

    The question now is whether anyone can tame the House’s rabble-rousing faction, in the wake of Speaker John Boehner’s decision to resign rather than face a possible vote to depose him. The stakes are sky-high, given the critical deadlines looming to keep the government running and raise the nation’s borrowing limit.

    With the GOP presidential contest riding an anti-establishment wave, it’s almost mandatory for the candidates to denounce Republican congressional leaders at the first sign of any potential compromise with Democrats. Dealmaking is that much tougher in Congress, even as some fear it could harm the party’s chances at the White House in 2016.

    U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) discusses his resignation in a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 25, 2015. Boehner will step down and leave the House at the end of October after struggling with repeated rebellions by conservatives during a tumultuous five-year reign as the chamber's top Republican. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert    - RTX1SHYW

    U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, discusses his resignation Sept. 25 at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Credit: Mary F. Calvert/Reuters

    The long-running drama of establishment vs. insurgency played out anew Friday on Capitol Hill as tea party conservatives cheered Boehner’s announcement that he will leave his job at the end of October. The move will ensure that the government stays open into December because the 13-term Ohio lawmaker rejected conservative demands to dare President Barack Obama to veto a government spending bill that cuts money for Planned Parenthood.

    But Boehner’s announcement only puts off that fight and others, and promises a chaotic leadership struggle that may result in new leaders facing the same fundamental problem: a core group of 30 or so conservative lawmakers repulsed by compromise and commanding enough votes to stymie leadership plans, despite the GOP’s immense majority.

    “You’re going to have a new speaker who is going to have to wonder if he or she is going to be the next person losing their head,” said Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas. “We are a tough group to lead. We are a really tough group to lead.”

    Boehner made his announcement the day after meeting with members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of hardliners dedicated to fighting for conservative principles at any cost. Several of those lawmakers informed Boehner they would support a floor vote to oust him from his speakership.

    Rather than put the House through the turmoil of such a vote, which hadn’t been tried in over 100 years, Boehner told stunned lawmakers he would leave Congress next month. He endorsed his deputy, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

    The announcement delighted hardline conservatives even as it dismayed many more establishment-minded members. Later, many of these members urged strategies to neutralize the hardline crowd and short-circuit their tactics. Two years ago, those tactics resulted in a 16-day partial government shutdown over Obama’s health care law; most Republicans believe that impasse damaged their party.

    “I’m sure some of those guys have Cheshire grins right now,” said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa. He advocated a strong line against them: “‘If you’re not willing to govern, we will make you marginal and irrelevant and we will find those who will help us.'”

    Said Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, a Boehner ally: “We have to govern here. We don’t get to go on talk radio and say whatever we want.”

    Yet Boehner’s move seemed only to embolden the hardliners, with several on Capitol Hill and off suggesting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would be their next target.

    McConnell had pledged that the GOP Congress would show voters that Republicans can govern in the runup to the 2016 elections. But conservatives complain that the GOP takeover of the Senate this year has not yielded results, and now a House run by less-proven leaders may test McConnell’s promise once more.

    “Mitch McConnell is infinitely worse as a leader than Boehner. He surrenders at the sight of battle every time,” said Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., one of the rebels. “We made a lot of promises to the American people that if we took the Senate that we would do certain things and those things have not been accomplished.”

    Democrats were at turns gleeful at the GOP discomfort and grim over the future turmoil it portends. Some lawmakers in both parties hope Boehner will use the month remaining in his tenure to jam through politically painful votes, including highway funding legislation and a renewal of the Export-Import Bank, which Republicans allowed to expire this year.

    “These people don’t want government. They just want their way or the highway,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J. He said those who have challenged Boehner are “not going to be satisfied until there is total chaos.”

    The situation has come about even as Republican leaders and outside groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have worked diligently in recent cycles to elect mainstream candidates, not fringe tea partyers. They can claim successes, particularly in the Senate. But in the House, hardline conservatives may continue to upset leaders’ plans to advance a governing agenda, even with a new speaker.

    “The disagreements within the conference have never been about John Boehner’s personality, they’ve been disagreements over tactics,” said David Schnittger, Boehner’s former longtime deputy chief of staff. “And they’re probably going to continue.”

     

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    Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 12.58.47 PM

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    STEPHEN FEE: At the St. Charles Borromeo seminary outside Philadelphia, 146 men are on the decade-long path to becoming priests.

    The classrooms look conventional, and you would find some of the courses like Spanish and philosophy at any American college.

    But you’ll seldom find women here – as the church still doesn’t permit women priests or for its priests to marry. And celibacy is still part of the job description.

    That vow is a worthy sacrifice, according to the seminarians we met during our visit.

    STEPHEN FEE: Do you think there are misconceptions about who seminarians are and who priests are?

    MANUEL FLORES, SEMINARIAN: Oh yeah.

    STEPHEN FEE: Like what?

    STEPHAN ISAAC, SEMINARIAN: I just think they think we’re not like normal guys in the sense that we don’t watch movies, we don’t watch TV.

    We don’t play sports, you know.

    STEPHEN FEE: Do you do any of those things?

    STEPHAN ISAAC, SEMINARIAN: Yes!

    STEPHEN FEE: Originally founded in 1832 to educate 500 seminarians, today St. Charles enrolls less than a third of that figure.

    That parallels a nationwide trend. Since 1970, the number of American priests has dropped by 40 percent, from nearly 60,000 to just over 37,000 today.

    And as the Catholic population shrinks in the north and east and grows in the south and west, thousands of parishes are without pastors.

    But since 2012, there’s been a small increase in ordinations in the U.S., from 457 three years ago to 515 last year. At St. Charles, 20 men enrolled in the seminary this year, up from six men the year before.

    Eighteen-year-old Phil Tran began his studies this fall. The oldest of six children in a Vietnamese-American family, Tran was immersed in catholic teachings from a young age.

    PHIL TRAN, SEMINARIAN: It’s funny, because– for most of my life, the priesthood was something I– kind of ran away from.

    I’ve always had people– going up to me, telling me I’d make a good priest.

    By sixth grade, friends and family jokingly called him Father Phil.

    STEPHEN FEE: Still, when he finished high school, Tran planned on studying mechanical engineering at Philadelphia’s Drexel University, where he was offered a partial scholarship.

    PHIL TRAN, SEMINARIAN: Knowing who I am as a person, knowing that I want to live my life as a man of god, knowing that I have a servant heart, that made me just realize that, you know–

    I love math, I love science, I love engineering, but I couldn’t see myself enjoying that for the rest of my life, when I know that I could be touching people’s lives in a more direct way, in a way that God might be calling me to do.

    STEPHEN FEE: Tran is one of four seminarians of Vietnamese origin to enroll at St. Charles this year — a sign of the changing demographics within the church.

    Over the past 40 years, the number of foreign-born Catholics in the U.S. has increased five-fold, with an influx from Asia and Latin America.

    Manuel Flores was born in Puerto Rico and said, at first his mother was disappointed in his choice to become a priest because that meant he would never marry or have children.

    MANUEL FLORES, SEMINARIAN: Being in a Hispanic family, it’s about the family. So, you know, she was kind of half expecting me to be a father, you know, to children, be married and such.

    But and she kind of, after I entered, it kind of became more of an accepting kind of thing with my mother. She was very loving about it.

    STEPHEN FEE: Bishop Timothy Senior oversees St. Charles. As a seminarian here in 1979, he met Pope John Paul II when he visited Philadelphia.

    Today, Bishop Senior is preparing for another Papal visit. He attributes the recent uptick in seminarians to a generational change.

    BISHOP TIMOTHY SENIOR, ST. CHARLES BORROMEO SEMINARY: Well I do think that there’s a sense among younger people today, among the millennials, of the importance of service, of a life of service and giving back, and an attentiveness to the needs of those who are less fortunate, an awareness that somehow how I’ve been blessed is also an opportunity.

    STEPHEN FEE: Bishop Senior says it’s hard to say why the number of seminarians has inched up — but he believes Pope Francis’ focus on serving the poor and reaching out to those disaffected by the church might be factors.

    BISHOP TIMOTHY SENIOR, ST. CHARLES BORROMEO SEMINARY: There was for too long — and the Holy Father has said this — I think a presumption that it’s like the Catholic faith is the gift of the sacraments: the Eucharist, the confession, all of our tradition.

    It’s kind of, here it is, take it or leave it. And it can’t be that way. The church needs to turn outward and to again meet people where they are and help them to discover that great gift again.

    STEPHEN FEE: Are we seeing the clergy change along with the changes in the complexion of the greater church?

    BISHOP TIMOTHY SENIOR, ST. CHARLES BORROMEO SEMINARY: They have to. Our presbyterate needs to reflect the demographics of the people that we serve.

    I’m thinking here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that, you know, St. Charles Seminary today is 16 percent Latino.

    STEPHEN FEE: But that diversity doesn’t include women, despite the fact that more than half of American Catholics believe the clergy should include them.

    And it doesn’t include married men, though other Christian denominations allow pastors to marry. So far, Pope Francis is not prepared to change that.

    BISHOP TIMOTHY SENIOR, ST. CHARLES BORROMEO SEMINARY: We can’t change the teaching to solve a personnel problem.

    The sacramental theology that is embedded in the church’s understanding of the priesthood is related to gender and so that the priesthood is something that we believe that in the plan of Jesus was something that he shared with the 12 apostles who were men.

    STEPHEN FEE: At 36-years-old, Tim Sahd is not a typical seminarian. He worked in journalism and in his family’s metal recycling business before deciding to become a priest four years ago.

    TIM SAHD, SEMINARIAN: I bought a house. You know, I thought this was the last kind of move. But there was just something inside of me that, you know, I don’t know that I could properly describe it.

    But I think all of us have that moment where we realize that either something feels right or it feels like there’s just something quite missing.

    I’ve given things up. But I don’t look at it that way at all. Because the things I’ve received are so much to me, so much greater than the things, perhaps, that I’ve given up.

    STEPHEN FEE: Forty percent of seminarians here at St. Charles eventually decide not to become priests.

    It’s not only the sacrifices that make joining the clergy a difficult decision. There is also the cloud of sexual abuse.

    Revelations about decades of sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002 implicated more than 4,000 American priests. Some Philadelphia priests went to prison.

    STEPHEN FEE: What do you say to a parent who says, I can’t trust the church to bring my son into the clergy because of the tarnish that was brought by the sex-abuse scandal and the subsequent cover-ups?

    BISHOP TIMOTHY SENIOR, ST. CHARLES BORROMEO SEMINARY: I say I understand. I understand.

    And it is incumbent upon us to serve the men who are in formation, and ultimately, the church by making sure that our community is serving the needs of these men so that they grow and mature to the men that they can be.

    And that we’re discerning a call to the priesthood for someone who can embrace that commitment and is not going to be failing in such a horrific way.

    STEPHEN FEE: Seminarians at St. Charles undergo ‘safe environment training,’ pastoral psychology courses to be on the lookout for abuse within the church and its institutions.

    They’re also trained to use alcohol wisely and understand boundaries between priests and their parishioners.

    The soon-to-be-priests we spoke to say: the abuse scandal compels them to be better priests.

    NOE RAMIREZ DEPAZ, SEMINARIAN: When all that came out, I said I don’t want to be that.

    I want to be better than that. There is a lot of trust to rebuild, wounds to be healed. But I think we all are here because we want to do that.

    STEPHAN ISAAC, SEMINARIAN: If anything the priest sex abuse scandal actually motivated me to try to become the best priest I can be in order to bring healing and bring Christ to people and we have a lot of work to do and I think Pope Francis is so wonderfully leading us in this sense, as well as Pope Benedict the 16th of trying to regain the moral credibility that we have lost.

    Tonight, the seminarians of St. Charles Borromeo welcome Pope Francis with song and prayer — and with a hope that his papacy will bring renewed energy to the catholic clergy.

    MANUEL FLORES, SEMINARIAN: There’s no sugar coating there.

    He’s always free to express himself as he is. He’s not hiding behind any kind of bureaucratic kind of, you know, mentality.

    You know, he’s being what the church needs him to be.

    The post Meet the new priests of the Catholic church appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    J.Kim, takes medicine for his bronchial trouble at his house in Beijing November 2, 2014. J.Kim, who is Korean, has worked in China for more than ten years and suffers from rhinitis and asthma. He believes these bronchial problems are caused by Beijing's polluted air. He is hoping to transfer to a new job in Seoul with his company because of the air pollution issue. He currently lives alone in Beijing after sending his family back to Korea as he was worried that air pollution could harm his children's health.  REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT BUSINESS)

PICTURE 11 OF 26 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY 'BEIJING'S BATTLE FOR FRESH AIR' 
 
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    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Every night, usually somewhere between dinner time and putting her children to bed, Louisville nurse Dawn Sirek reaches for her inhaler.

    DAWN SIREK: It’s really simple … and that’s it.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: On good days, this is only her second dose of a daily asthma maintenance routine. But on bad days, of which there are many, Dawn says she loses count of just how many times she has trouble breathing and needs the inhaler.

    DAWN SIREK: I have symptoms every day. It factors into my life every single day. It affects my work, it affects my being a mom. It’s awful.

    DAWN SIREK: For the past few months, whether it is a good day or a bad one, Dawn’s daily battle to breathe has become intricately linked to an innovative partnership of big data and public health.

    Sitting atop her inhaler is a tiny GPS transmitter that with each puff passes valuable bits of information that not only helps dawn manage her asthma, but is also helping the city understand why so many of its residents are having trouble breathing.

    MELISSA WILLIAMS: This is something that respiratory therapists like me kind of dream about.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Melissa Williams works for Propeller Health, a respiratory health company, and the data collection partner for the program, known as Air Louisville.

    MELISSA WILLIAMS: The first thing I do is log in, look at the dashboard. It’ll give me a list of all of my patients in the program.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Coupled with a participant’s smartphone, the sensor sends the time and location to Propeller’s central database – giving patients, doctors, and respiratory therapists like Melissa a day-to-day, real time understanding of just how the city’s asthma patients are faring.

    Since starting in 2012, Air Louisville has had hundreds of participants and hopes to enroll 1,000 by years end.

    MELISSA WILLIAMS: It will show you when they typically have events. It will give you, like, the average temperature, the air quality, weather conditions on those days. So it will help to simplify triggers.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: With an estimated 13 percent of the population suffering from asthma, Louisville has one of the highest rates in the country.

    Sitting in the Ohio River Valley, the city’s unique geography, coupled with a steady flow of pollution from cars, makes the it particularly susceptible to poor air quality.

    The American Lung Association ranks Louisville as the nation’s 15th worst metropolitan area for air pollution.

    TED SMITH: I have counterparts in our Chamber of Commerce, they collect best lists. Right? So Louisville’s the best place to raise a poodle.

    It’s the best place for Asian Bourbon Fusion food. I collected the worst list. Right. And the worst lists are what the Chamber wants to burn all day long.

    And so, one of the worst places to live in the country if you have asthma.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: For the past four years, as Louisville’s first chief of civic innovation, Doctor Ted Smith has spent much of his time thinking how the city might get off of this list.

    But Smith says the data-driven asthma hotspot map that resulted from the initial pilot program — brought a few surprises.

    TED SMITH: The conventional wisdom around things like asthma, you know, may be, ‘Well, it’s all about smoking. Or it’s about older housing stock. Or it’s about being next to a power plant or something.’

    Right? And, you know, it turns out, at least the clustering we saw early was in other parts of our community entirely.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: So besides industrial areas and highway intersections, residential areas like this one in Southwest Louisville is a hot spot.

    GREG FISCHER: It’s been fascinating. Because we’re pushing the envelope in terms of learning for the community, so that we could say precisely where do asthma sufferers have the most problem?

    And how can we A) advise them about that? But B) mitigate how that might take place?

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: When you see and look at the hotspots, I’m sure you can kind of correlate this to certain issues that exist within the city, whether that be the existence of a power facility or housing questions.

    Do you foresee future battles that will be data-driven?

    GREG FISCHER: I wouldn’t call them battles. But I would say — call it informed decision making.

    Before we didn’t have that type of information to make a decision. So it makes people think about planning in a much more thoughtful way.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: For asthmatics like Dawn Sirek, this program isn’t about lists, rankings, or city planning, it’s a new tool to help her to live and breathe easier…

    DAWN SIREK: My phone dings every night at 9 o’clock and every morning 9:00 a.m. to remind me to take my inhaler.

    And the app that it’s on my phone, it will tell me that it’s a bad air quality day. And I had never paid attention to that in the past. And now I do.

    The post How data is helping asthmatics breathe easier appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JapanTimeForSchool

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    KEN HIGASHIGUCHI: Baseball’s taught me to appreciate my parents, my mentors, and my fellow teammates.

    That’s something I learned in elementary, middle and high school.

    TAMARA TUNIE, NARRATOR: Ken Higashiguchi is six years old and lives with his mother and father in Nara, Japan, a nation committed to having a fully literate society.

    Nearly every child in Japan goes to school. And today, like Ken, thousands of six year olds are preparing to attend their opening day ceremony.

    KEN HIGASHIGUCHI: I have to wear this for a whole hour? It’s embarrassing.

    CHIZUKO HIGASHIGUCHI: We want to give Ken a lot of chances, a lot of opportunities. The most important thing is for Ken to be happy for his life.

    TAMARA TUNIE, NARRATOR: Today, Ken joins the ranks of students who follow a long, well-planned journey through one of the most successful school systems in the world…and one of the most demanding.

    Unlike his counterparts in much of the world, Ken is well prepared for first grade. He has been in state-funded day care since the age of one.

    JUKU TEACHER: How are you?

    KIDS: I’m fine, thank you. How are you?

    JUKU TEACHER: Very good. I’m fine, thank you.

    TAMARA TUNIE, NARRATOR: Along with many Japanese school children, Ken attends private after-school classes known as “Juku schools.”

    Ken’s parents are pushing him to get the best education possible, but the hours are long and the expectations are high.

    Both of Ken’s parents work full time, but they devote their weekends to their only child…often doing what Ken, now nine, loves most: playing baseball.

    CHIZUKO HIGASHIGUCHI: So far he likes everything, including sports, studying, and playing around. I think he feels that if he makes the effort, he can do anything.

    KEN HIGASHIGUCHI: This much?

    CHIZUKO HIGASHIGUCHI: Turn it down.

    TAMARA TUNIE, NARRATOR: Ken is now in third grade at Saho Elementary School and often arrives early to play with his friends.

    After decades of imposing stringent standards and an 11-month school year, Japan has dropped Saturdays from the school week.

    But one thing hasn’t changed: teaching teamwork, the hallmark of the Japanese workforce.

    HIROAKI ONISHI: I have 30 students, and I’d like for them to do something together continuously.

    That’s how we started skipping rope together once a week for a year back in April.

    TAMARA TUNIE, NARRATOR: Today their goal is to achieve 1,000 consecutive jumps.

    HIROAKI ONISHI: You guys jumped 300 more than the time before. Do you know why we were doing this?

    STUDENTS: Team…

    HIROAKI ONISHI: Teammates!

    KEN HIGASHIGUCHI: When I grow up, I want to be a professional baseball player, or a school teacher.

    When I started I didn’t know how to catch or throw or hold the bat.

    TAMARA TUNIE, NARRATOR: At 12, Ken is finishing 6th grade and trying his best to balance his love of sports and his need to study.

    CHIZUKO HIGASHIGUCHI: He reads in the paper and the news about other kids in other countries. He thinks going to school and playing with friends are a given. And having meals every day is a given.

    I think that at a conscious level he understands the reality that there are kids his age, who can’t go to school and have to work in order to survive. I just don’t know how much he understands that emotionally. I think that’s what he’ll have to learn as he gets older.

    TAMARA TUNIE, NARRATOR: Ken is 18 years old and has never missed a single day of school.

    KEN HIGASHIGUCHI: School is a place where you can really expand your knowledge, and where you can also meet new people.

    TAMARA TUNIE, NARRATOR: Ken is about to graduate from high school and start college, carrying on a tradition of discipline, and teamwork, which he mastered as captain of his baseball team.

    Today the whole school community is here for Ken’s last game.

    KEN HIGASHIGUCHI: Playing baseball has taught me the importance of motivating the team, not only by what I say but also by what I do.

    TAMARA TUNIE, NARRATOR: Ken’s team loses the game. His tireless focus on training makes the loss especially difficult.

    KEN HIGASHIGUCHI: We really wanted to win, so I tried hard to pull the team together, but still it seems it wasn’t enough. Next year, the team will continue to do their best.

    CHIZUKO HIGASHIGUCHI: Whenever he was having a hard time, I saw him gather the strength to move on … and then I was able to gain that strength too.

    KEN HIGASHIGUCHI: Learning not to run away from difficult situations has definitely been my biggest achievement.

    TAMARA TUNIE, NARRATOR: Ken also learned lessons from the tragedy that struck Japan in 2011: the earthquake and tsunami that claimed 16,000 lives.

    Ken traveled with his mother the 400 miles from his home to the damaged region.

    Students at Ken’s school gathered funds for the effort and sent care packages.

    KEN HIGASHIGUCHI: I was in student government for two years.

    During that time, the Great Earthquake happened.

    We raised money and came up with new ideas. That’s how we contributed.

    KIKUCHI HARUKA: He doesn’t compromise and doesn’t let himself off easy. I believe this is the man he is trying to become.

    HIROSHI HIGASHIGUCHI: I think we created a good environment for him to be able to succeed at what he wanted to do.

    TAMARA TUNIE, NARRATOR: Ken is now off to college near his home. He will study to be a physical education teacher and will try to bring the lessons of teamwork and concern for others to future generations.

    KEN HIGASHIGUCHI: I think the first step is to put our words into actions, and then we can have a positive impact on those around us.

    That’s the kind of person I want to be.

    The post On the journey to meet the high standards of education in Japan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is announcing a $300 million program to drastically reduce HIV infections in girls and young woman in 10 sub-Saharan African nations hard hit by the virus.

    Administration officials are aiming for a 25 percent infection reduction in females between ages 15-24 by the end of next year and a 40 percent reduction by the end of 2017.

    “No greater action is needed right now than empowering adolescent girls and young women to defeat HIV/AIDS,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice said.

    The new targets mark the next phase for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR. The program, started by President George W. Bush and expanded by President Barack Obama, is credited with saving millions of lives in Africa.

    The administration is unveiling the new targets ahead of a U.N. summit on development goals for lifting people around the world out of poverty. Obama is scheduled to address the development meeting on Sunday.

    Officials say targeting HIV prevention in young woman is a crucial step toward stopping the spread of the virus. According to the administration, 380,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV each year – more than 1,000 every day.

    The 10 countries that will be targets of the new initiatives accounted for nearly half of all new HIV infections among girls and young women last year. The countries are Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

    The money for the prevention programs has already been allocated to PEPFAR but is being repurposed.

    The administration is also announcing new treatment targets, including plans to support nearly 13 million people on anti-retroviral treatment by the end of 2017.

    The post U.S. aims to cut HIV infections of young women in Africa appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    UNITED NATIONS — China’s president on Saturday pledged billions in aid and said Beijing will forgive debts due this year in an effort to help the world’s poorest nations, as world leaders begin to seek the trillions of dollars needed to help achieve sweeping new development goals.

    President Xi Jinping spoke at a global summit that on Friday launched the non-binding goals for the next 15 years.

    Xi and others spoke as the U.N. gathering began to shift focus from development to the high-powered General Assembly meeting that begins Monday with speeches by Xi, President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the first morning alone.

    Obama and Putin will meet Monday. The prospects for any meeting between Obama and Rouhani, even a handshake, remained unclear.

    Rouhani arrived Saturday and immediately was encouraged by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to have Iran step up to help achieve political settlements to the grinding conflicts in Syria and Yemen, where Iran has influence. The Islamic republic is a top ally of the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad and supports Shiite Houthi rebels who have held parts of Yemen for months.

    Iran’s president said in his address that the recent deal with world powers on its nuclear program “has created suitable conditions for regional and international cooperation,” including on protecting the environment.

    As world leaders met quietly behind the scenes, others lined up to express support for the new development push that aimed to eliminate both poverty and hunger over the next 15 years. They replace a soon-to-expire set of development goals whose limited success was largely due to China’s surge out of poverty over the past decade and a half.

    China’s president vowed to help other countries make the same transformation. Xi said China will commit an initial $2 billion to establish an assistance fund to meet the post-2015 goals in areas such as education, health care and economic development. He said China would seek to increase the fund to $12 billion by 2030.

    And Xi said China would write off intergovernmental interest-free loans owed to China by the least-developed, small island nations and most heavily debt-burdened countries due this year.

    He said China “will continue to increase investment in the least developed countries,” and support global institutions, including the Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank that is due to launch by the end of the year and is seen as a Chinese alternative to the more Western-oriented financial institutions of the World Bank.

    Ban made a major pitch to the private sector Saturday for its help in financing the development goals. “In a sense, September 26th is even more important than September 25th,” he told dozens of global business leaders from companies including Google, Unilever, Siemens and Sinopec. “Today, we begin the hard work of turning plans into reality.”

    The post China pledges billions in development aid, debt forgiveness appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    DAVENPORT, Iowa — After a summer largely spent raising money for his Republican campaign for president, Marco Rubio says he’s about to start spending a whole lot more time in Iowa and the other early voting states.

    “There were obviously other things we needed to do,” the Florida senator said this past week in an interview with The Associated Press. “We need the resources to be able to have staff here and be on the air and do the things a campaign requires. But, we were just here a few days ago. We’re going to be back a lot more.”

    Following a return to Iowa next week he’ll go to the other three states – New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina – that are voting in the initial wave of presidential caucuses and primaries, his campaign advisers said.

    Rubio recently hired a state director in Iowa, a position other campaigns have had in place for months, and has booked millions in television ads that will start airing in November.

    For Republican activists and party faithful used to fawning attention, it’s about time.

    Rubio has visited New Hampshire just seven times this year, and five times since he announced his candidacy. By contrast, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will make his 14th visit to the state next week, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been there close to two dozen times.

    Rubio’s trip this week to Iowa was only his eighth this year, far fewer that many of his competitors – some of whom are staking their bids to win the lead-off caucus state by visiting all of its 99 counties. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum already has.

    The joke about Rubio is that he is only competing in Ankeny, the Des Moines suburb where his state chairman resides. Iowa Republican strategist Doug Gross, who has not endorsed a candidate, says voters like Rubio but “they haven’t taken him for a test drive.”

    Since he entered the race in April, Rubio has spent much of his time fundraising. His campaign and outside groups supporting him raised a combined $45 million through the second quarter – considered a good number, but not the biggest in the race.

    Rubio has posted two well-regarded performances in the first GOP debates and picked up a number of former supporters of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker following his abrupt departure last week.

    “There’s absolutely votes to be had,” said former Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn. With Walker out of the race, he said, “the economic conservative establishment lane is less congested.”

    In New Hampshire, former Sen. Scott Brown, a Massachusetts Republican when he served with Rubio for two years, said he knows many voters who are “very, very interested.”

    To date, the Republican primary has been dominated by billionaire businessman Donald Trump. Rubio has largely avoided clashes with the outspoken GOP front-runner, but he criticized him Thursday for being “touchy and insecure.” The comments came during a radio interview in Kentucky after Trump had called Rubio a “lightweight.”

    Rubio said that night that he would seek to remain out of the scrum with Trump as much as possible. “I have no interest in being part of the back-and-forth freak show,” he said. “I’m running for president.”

    In Iowa on Thursday, Rubio drew an enthusiastic response from the crowd packed into a room at a minor-league baseball stadium. Gary Jones, 60, of Davenport, said he thought Rubio could do well.

    “His performances in the debates have really helped him,” Jones said. “He doesn’t seem to be sticking a finger in the air and picking up whatever populist wave is blowing.”

    The post Rubio to ramp up campaign with more visits to early voting states appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — China’s pledge to help crack down on hackers who steal commercial secrets from the United States, even coming as it did amid a bit of arm-twisting by President Barack Obama, is a big breakthrough that could reduce U.S.-China tensions and end huge losses for American companies.

    Analysts say the agreement between the world’s two biggest economies is just a start but could lead to real progress on the cybertheft issue – depending on how well it’s put in place.

    Still, it’s not easy to track down hackers and prove responsibility, experts say, even as they found hope in Friday’s announcement by Obama at a joint news conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

    “I think it’s a big deal,” said Dmitri Alperovich, who published a seminal paper in 2011 identifying Chinese cyber economic espionage and now runs the cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike. “For the first time ever, the Chinese have made a distinction between national security espionage and economic espionage.”

    Also significant, Alperovich said, is the fact that the Chinese have agreed to provide responses to U.S. government requests for investigations. “They can’t just shrug and say, `We don’t do hacking; hacking is illegal,'” he said.

    Mark MacCarthy, vice president for public policy at the Software and Information Industry Association, said the tech industry trade group agrees with Obama that the cybertheft of intellectual property must stop. “We are hopeful the understanding reached by the president and Chinese President Xi Jinping results in real progress on the ground,” he said.

    The U.S. has accused Beijing of backing Chinese hackers who steal trade secrets from American companies. Before the Xi summit, Obama called cybertheft by China “an act of aggression.”

    James Lewis, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Strategic Technologies Program, said the thefts probably cost American companies tens of billions of dollars annually.

    Last year the U.S. charged five officers in China’s People Liberation Army for computer hacking and economic espionage against six U.S. companies, including Westinghouse, U.S. Steel and Alcoa.

    Malcolm Lee, nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former White House economic official, said that the Friday agreement will “begin to address one of the most destabilizing and corrosive issues in the relationship.”

    Senior U.S. officials said the Obama administration had been preparing a package of sanctions in recent weeks aimed at China and other nations over cyberthefts of intellectual property. When news of those plans appeared in the U.S. media, China dispatched a high-level delegation, led by Meng Jianzhu, the secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, to work out a deal. The result was Friday’s announcement.

    “The thing that got the Chinese to the table is the threat of sanctions,” Alperovich said.

    Last year’s indictments helped, too, Lewis said. “The Chinese thought about how unhappy that experience was, and they didn’t want to go through it again,” he said. “They knew the Americans were really worked up.”

    The U.S. also has been getting better at tracking the source of cyberattacks. North Korea, for instance, was quickly identified as the source of a hack last year that damaged computers at Sony and exposed internal emails at the filmmaker.

    “That made them think, `We’re not going to be able to get away with this,'” Lewis said.

    Trevor Nagel, a partner with the law firm White & Case who specializes in cybersecurity and other global technology issues, noted that China now has intellectual property of its own to protect, as it has become a world leader in manufacturing.

    Jeremie Waterman, executive director for China at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, called the agreement “a clear statement” on an issue of critical importance to the future of relations between the two countries. “Hopefully, it marks a new chapter,” Waterman said, adding that, as with other areas of negotiation between the U.S. and China, the key will be implementation.

    The agreement may not be easy to enforce, particularly since it’s often difficult to trace the source of cyberattacks and the Chinese government has never acknowledged a role in past attacks, said Betsy Page Sigman, a cybersecurity expert at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

    “The Chinese government can use intermediaries” in such attacks, “and it can be very difficult for them to be found out,” she said.

    The agreement raises questions, Robert Cattanach, a former Justice Department attorney who specializes in cybersecurity, said in an email.

    Will spying by private Chinese companies “simply replace state-sponsored economic espionage?” he asked. “How effective will the high-level consultations really be? Will this affect China’s well-known efforts to explore the vulnerability of the United States’ power grid, financial sector, and health industry?”

    The post US-China agreement on hackers marks progress on cybertheft issue appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Migrants walk to the Austrian border in Nickelsdorf after arriving by train in Hegyeshalom, Hungary September 25, 2015. Tens of thousands of migrants, most of them fleeing war and hardship in Syria, are trying to reach Western Europe.  REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger  TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY   - RTX1SI5I

    Syrian migrants walk to the Austrian border Sept. 25 in Nickelsdorf after arriving by train in Hegyeshalom, Hungary Photo by Leonhard Foeger/Reuters.

    The United Nations said Friday it predicts no end in the flow of refugees moving into Europe, with about 8,000 arrivals coming in daily.

    “I don’t see it abating, I don’t see it stopping,” Amin Awad, regional refugee coordinator for the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, said to journalists in Geneva. “If anything, it gives an indication perhaps that this is the tip of the iceberg.”

    Additionally, escalating conflict in Iraq could send new waves of displaced people to Europe.

    Migrants walk to the Austrian border in Nickelsdorf from Hegyeshalom, Hungary September 26, 2015. Tens of thousands of migrants, most of them fleeing war and hardship in Syria, are trying to reach Western Europe.  REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger - RTX1SKC5

    Syrian migrants walk Sept. 26 to the Austrian border in Nickelsdorf from Hegyeshalom, Hungary. Photo by Leonhard Foeger/Reuters.

    Dominik Bartsch, the UN’s deputy humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, said the UN is planning for the displacement of 500,000 people from the Iraqi city of Mosul, if Iraqi forces launch an attempt to recapture it from Islamic State, Reuters reported.

    “The humanitarian situation is worsening dramatically,” Bartsch said, citing a recent cholera outbreak and estimating that 10 million people will need humanitarian aid by the end of the year, The New York Times reported.

    A migrant jumps off an overcrowded dinghy upon arriving in the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing a part of the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Lesbos September 24, 2015.  REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis  - RTX1S91V

    A migrant jumps off an overcrowded dinghy Sept. 24 after arriving in the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing a part of the Aegean Sea from Turkey. Photo by Yannis Behrakis/Reuters.

    EU leaders have pledged at least $1.1 billion for Syrian refugees in the Middle East and closer cooperation to stem migrant flows into Europe at a summit described as less tense than feared after weeks of feuding.

    Most asylum seekers reaching Europe, many on dinghies crossing the Mediterranean or hidden in trucks, are from Syria or Iraq. Others are from Afghanistan, Pakistan and African countries including Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia, Reuters reported.

    A Syrian refugee holds onto his children as he struggles to walk off a dinghy on the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing a part of the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Lesbos September 24, 2015.  REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis       TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1S9D4

    A Syrian man holds onto his children as he struggles the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing a part of the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Lesbos September 24, 2015. Photo by Yannis Behrakis/Reuters.

    The post Number of migrants entering Europe will continue to grow, UN says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration file picture. One of the largest ever cyber attacks is slowing global internet services after an organisation blocking "spam" content became a target, with some experts saying the disruption could get worse.        To match INTERNET-ATTACK/      REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Files (POLAND - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - RTXXZVX

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: For years, the British government has reportedly tracked and stored billions of records of Internet use by British citizens and people outside the U.K., in an effort to track every visible user on the internet. That finding comes from “The Intercept” Web site, which is publishing findings from National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s leak on government surveillance practices.

    “Intercept” reporter Ryan Gallagher wrote the story and joins me now via Skype from Brighton, England.

    First of all, explain the scale of surveillance that was happening from the British equivalent of the NSA, the GCHQ.

    RYAN GALLAGHER, THE INTERCEPT: Well, the skill is quite phenomenal. I mean, it’s hard to translate it when you just see the numbers. But you’re talking about 50 (ph) to 100 billion metadata records of phone calls and e-mails every single day. So vast, vast quantities of information they’re sweeping up. And they were talking by 2030 having in place the world’s largest surveillance system, so, a system that surpasses even what the NSA and U.S. has built itself.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK, when somebody hears that there’s millions and billions and possibly trillions of pieces of data, they’re going to say, you know, what, how do you actually identify this is specifically me that’s doing this, or going to the site, or saying this thing in a chat room?

    RYAN GALLAGHER: Uh-huh. Well, I mean, we have — we don’t actually — one of the interesting parts of the story is that we had a bunch of specific cases where, for example, we had monitored something like 200,000 people from something like 185 different countries, so almost every country in the world, they have listened to radio source (ph) through their computer. In one case, they decided to pick out just one of these people. It seems like at random, and what web site he had been viewing.

    So, it’s kind of an all-seeing system. When you’re gathering that amount of information, it’s going to be something that does have an impact and effect in all of us really.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, the GCHQ has even more lax oversight than even the NSA does. What are they doing with this information? You in your articled, you pointed to a couple of cases of almost corporate espionage.

    RYAN GALLAGHER: Uh-huh. Well, yes, indeed their — with the information, we have the case where they were monitoring people listening to Internet radio shows. There’s a couple of other really fascinating and important cases where’s they’ve used this information to (INAUDIBLE) to European — major European telecommunications companies. The reason they did that is because they wanted to get into these companies’ systems and steal information that they held in their systems because that would help them spy on other people.

    And so, you know, also, in these cases, they cause — these amounted to major cyber attacks, cyberattacks in Europe on allied countries, and companies in allied countries causing millions of dollars in your currency damage. And so, you know, the ramifications are quite severe. Even just in terms of the European Union, what the U.K. agency is doing in Europe.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Ryan Gallagher from “The Intercept” — thanks so much for joining us.

    RYAN GALLAGHER: Thanks for having me on.

    The post Inside the British government’s sweeping cyber surveillance program appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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