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- 10/31/15--13:00: _Supreme Court to re...
- 10/31/15--13:49: _Miles of music: Lis...
- 10/31/15--14:05: _Carson opens up abo...
- 10/31/15--17:45: _8 things you didn’t...
- 11/01/15--05:14: _Column: Congress is...
- 11/01/15--09:01: _In Central Asia, Ke...
- 11/01/15--09:59: _Kenyans Stanley Biw...
- 11/01/15--10:20: _Pentagon chief call...
- 11/01/15--11:30: _Cracker salvaged fr...
- 11/01/15--12:29: _Airbnb contest winn...
- 11/01/15--12:33: _Questions swirl ove...
- 11/01/15--12:50: _Ryan rules out immi...
- 11/01/15--13:30: _Cash-strapped Greec...
- 11/01/15--14:19: _How was Turkey’s ru...
- 11/01/15--14:35: _Navy believes it fo...
- 11/01/15--15:57: _Fred Thompson, form...
- 11/02/15--05:00: _Frustrated GOP cand...
- 11/02/15--07:06: _WATCH LIVE: In Newa...
- 11/02/15--08:34: _‘Serial’ announces ...
- 11/02/15--15:25: _Do Turkey’s electio...
- 10/31/15--13:00: Supreme Court to review selection of all-white jury in murder case
- 10/31/15--14:05: Carson opens up about his membership in Seventh-day Adventist Church
- 10/31/15--17:45: 8 things you didn’t know about the New York City Marathon
- Only 55 men finished the first marathon in 1970. By contrast, more than 50,000 men and women crossed the finish line in 2014, and at least that many are expected to run this year’s race.
- The first-ever winners won inexpensive watches and recycled baseball and bowling trophies. The prize purse for the 2015 New York City Marathon is $705,000, with $100,000 awarded to first-place finishers, with potential bonuses of up to $50,000, depending on how fast they finish. But for context, the registration fee for the 1970 marathon was $1. Today, the fee is around $250 for Americans and about $350 for international entrants.
- The initial marathons were held entirely in Central Park, but the course was re-routed through the city’s streets in 1976 to celebrate the U.S. Bicentennial. The redesign was so successful, the marathon has been a five-borough race ever since.
- 11/01/15--09:01: In Central Asia, Kerry talks to autocratic cast of nations
- 11/01/15--10:20: Pentagon chief calls on North Korea to end nuclear weapons program
- 11/01/15--11:30: Cracker salvaged from sinking Titanic auctioned for $23,000
- 11/01/15--12:29: Airbnb contest winner spends Halloween night in Paris catacombs
- 11/01/15--12:33: Questions swirl over Russian plane crash in Egypt that killed 224
- 11/01/15--12:50: Ryan rules out immigration overhaul during Obama’s term
- 11/01/15--13:30: Cash-strapped Greece struggles against overwhelming tide of refugees
- 11/01/15--14:19: How was Turkey’s ruling party able to pull ahead in the elections?
- 11/01/15--14:35: Navy believes it found wreckage of missing U.S. cargo ship El Faro
- 11/01/15--15:57: Fred Thompson, former U.S. senator and actor, dies at 73
- 11/02/15--05:00: Frustrated GOP candidates call for changes in upcoming debates
- 11/02/15--08:34: ‘Serial’ announces deal with Pandora for season 2 streaming rights
WASHINGTON — Prosecutor Stephen Lanier’s meaning was unmistakable when he urged jurors in north Georgia to sentence the defendant to death in part to deter other people “out there in the projects.”
Almost everyone in the public housing apartments near the scene of the killing of a 79-year-old woman in Rome, Georgia, was black, as was defendant Timothy Tyrone Foster. And after Lanier got through picking a jury of Foster’s peers, all the jurors were white. So was the victim.
Foster has been on death row for nearly 30 years, but his case still is making its way through the courts. The actions of Lanier and his staff will be in front of the Supreme Court on Monday, when the justices will consider whether the exclusion of all the black prospective jurors is a form of racial discrimination in violation of Foster’s constitutional rights under a test the high court laid out in 1986.
Georgia courts have consistently rejected Foster’s claims of discrimination, even after his lawyers obtained the prosecution’s notes that revealed prosecutors’ focus on the black people in the jury pool. In one example, a handwritten note headed “Definite No’s” listed six people, of whom five were the remaining black prospective jurors.
The case arrives at the court a few months after Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the court should consider declaring the death penalty unconstitutional. Foster’s case highlights several issues in the wider debate over capital punishment, including questions about his mental capabilities and the length of time he has lived under a death sentence.
The only issue before the justices on Monday deals with the way this particular jury was put together. Lanier, who did not respond to requests for an interview, has consistently denied any intent to discriminate, and the state argues in defending his actions that prosecutors actually wanted a black juror to avoid defense accusations that the jury was a “white lynch mob.”
But Stephen Bright, a veteran death penalty lawyer who is representing Foster at the Supreme Court, said evidence of a racial motive is extensive and undeniable.
As senseless killings go, Queen Madge White’s death was as brutal and pointless as they get.
White had the misfortune to use her bathroom in the middle of the night. Only when she returned to her bedroom and turned on the lamp beside her bed did she notice Foster in her living room, according to Foster’s confession to police. Foster said he was just out to rob White’s home, but things got out of hand when she grabbed a knife and chased him around a living room chair.
He picked up a fireplace log and hit White hard enough to break her jaw. Then he sexually molested her with a salad-dressing bottle and strangled her to death.
Foster’s trial lawyers did not so much contest his guilt as try to explain it as a product of a troubled childhood, drug abuse and mental illness. They also raised their objections about the exclusion of African-Americans from the jury. On that point, the judge accepted Lanier’s explanations that factors other than race drove his decisions. The jury convicted Foster and sentenced him to death.
The jury issue was revived 19 years later, in 2006, when the state turned over the prosecution’s notes in response to a request under Georgia’s Open Records Act.
The name of each potential black juror was highlighted on four different copies of the jury list and the word “black” was circled next to the race question on questionnaires for the black prospective jurors. Three of the prospective black jurors were identified in notes as “B#1,” ”B#2,” and “B#3.”
An investigator working for the prosecutors also ranked the black prospective jurors against each other in case “it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors.”
Still, Georgia courts were not persuaded.
Eddie Hood was “B#1″ in the prosecutors’ notes. Now 75, Hood said he hasn’t spent much time thinking about that case, although he said he told his wife he had an inkling race played a role in his dismissal.
He said Lanier had no reason to fear he’d go soft on Foster. “I had no problem with the death penalty,” Hood said at his home in Rome.
But he said he was bothered by Lanier’s comment about the projects when a reporter related it to him. “If I had heard that, it would have created some thoughts I wouldn’t have been comfortable with,” he said.
The Supreme Court tried to stamp out discrimination in the composition of juries in Batson v. Kentucky in 1986. In that case, the court ruled that jurors could not be excused from service because of their race and set up a system by which trial judges could evaluate claims of discrimination and the race-neutral explanations by prosecutors. Foster’s conviction came just a year after the court handed down that decision.
Yet despite the decision, “race discrimination persists in jury selection,” said a group of former prosecutors that includes author Scott Turow and former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, who served in the George W. Bush administration.
“If this court does not find purposeful discrimination on the facts of this case, then it will render Batson meaningless,” the ex-prosecutors wrote in support of Foster.
In the course of selecting a jury, lawyers question potential jurors and first try to weed out people for specific reasons including the inability to impose a death sentence in a capital case or personal relationships with people involved in the case.
Both sides also can excuse a juror merely because of a suspicion that a particular person would vote against their client. Those are called peremptory strikes, and they have been the focus of the complaints about discrimination.
Justice Thurgood Marshall warned in the Batson case that the court’s decision, which he supported, would not cure the problem.
“The decision today will not end the racial discrimination that peremptories inject into the jury selection process. That goal can be accomplished only by eliminating peremptory challenges entirely,” Marshall wrote.
Among the current justices, only Breyer has echoed Marshall’s concerns that discrimination is too hard to prove and allegations of bias are too easy to evade.
Marshall was right, Bright said, “but the fact of the matter is there are not the votes for it on the Supreme Court.”
Instead, Bright suggested restricting each side to three such strikes would allow lawyers to get rid of a very limited number of potential jurors they view as problematic, but prevent a prosecutor from engaging in the sort of strategy Lanier used against Foster.
The case is Foster v. Chatman, 14-8349.
The post Supreme Court to review selection of all-white jury in murder case appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Singer Alicia Keys is among the more than 50,000 athletes running in the New York City Marathon on Sunday, and along the racecourse, the Grammy-winning Big Apple native will be in familiar company.
According to New York Road Runners, more than 130 bands, musicians and DJs, from brass to bagpipes and rock to reggae, are scattered along the racecourse this year — an average of five acts per mile — to keep runners motivated and their supporters invigorated.
But even if you’re not huffing and puffing through the 26.2-mile Concrete Jungle, you can still get in an Empire State of Mind with our Spotify playlist of the bands playing at the marathon.
A complete list of entertainment at this year’s race can be found on the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon mobile app.
The post Miles of music: Listen to the bands playing at the 2015 New York City Marathon appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
BROOMFIELD, Colo. — As his surge in heavily evangelical Iowa puts a spotlight on his faith, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is opening up about his membership in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He embraces it as right for him while also framing his beliefs in broad terms that aim to transcend divisions among Christians.
In an interview with The Associated Press, days after GOP rival Donald Trump criticized Carson’s church, the retired neurosurgeon said his relationship with God was “the most important aspect. It’s not really denomination specific.”
Carson discussed a brief period as a college student when he questioned whether to stay in the church. And in his own criticism, he said it was a “huge mistake” that the top Adventist policymaking body recently voted against ordaining women. “I don’t see any reason why women can’t be ordained,” he said.
The remarks from the Republican presidential candidate were his most expansive about his church since he joined the 2016 contest. Voters have come to know him for his faith-infused policy stands, including his opposition to abortion and gay marriage, without hearing much from him about his Adventism.
The church, formed in 1863 in Battle Creek, Michigan, has a spiritual focus on healthy living and an extensive network of hospitals and medical clinics. Carson expressed pride in the denomination, while also trying to reach beyond it.
“There are a lot of people who have a close relationship with God, and you can generally tell who they are by the way they act, the way they treat other people,” he said Wednesday a few hours before the GOP debate. “The reason that there are like 4,000 denominations is that people have looked at this and said, ‘Let’s interpret it this way. Let’s interpret it this way.’
“Sometimes they get caught up in that and forget about the real purpose of Christian faith,” he said.
Trump has appeared to be trying to paint Carson as part of a faith outside the mainstream, not a religious conservative who shares the values of Iowa’s evangelicals. During a rally last Saturday in Florida, Trump noted he was a Presbyterian, calling his own church “middle of the road.” Then he added, “I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about.”
A possible impetus for Trump’s new approach was a series of preference polls showing Carson overtaking him in Iowa, the lead-off caucus state where evangelical voters are crucial to success for Republicans.
In 2012, Mitt Romney, a Mormon, won just 14 percent of Iowans who described themselves as born again or evangelical Christian, according to Iowa caucus exit polls, amid deep skepticism about his church and his politics.
Carson told the AP he had “totally anticipated” that Trump and his supporters would try to stir doubts about his church in the primary contests.
“Donald Trump is Donald Trump. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s doing that. I would only be surprised if he didn’t,” Carson said. “There’s a lot of things that are done in politics that are not fair, but when you get into the fray you have to expect those things.”
The Seventh-day Adventist Church was born from what is known as the “Great Disappointment,” when Jesus failed to arrive in 1844 as expected by thousands of Christians in a moment of widespread religious fervor known as the Second Great Awakening. Many of these disheartened faithful, called Adventists for their belief in Christ’s imminent return, continued studying the Bible together and set Saturday as their Sabbath day of worship.
Ellen White and her husband James were leaders in that movement and founded the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The denomination says it now has 18.7 million members worldwide, with 1.2 million in North America.
For the small number of evangelicals who pay close attention to the church, their unease is focused in part on Ellen White, a prolific writer considered a prophet by Adventists, whose views continue to shape the denomination.
Some pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention protested this year when Carson was invited to address their annual meeting. While the reasons for the objections were mixed, some cited the religious weight given to White’s opinions, even though Adventists, like other conservative Christians, consider only the Bible authoritative.
“We caught wind of the controversy and just gracefully bowed out,” Carson said, shrugging off the episode.
Carson is accustomed to misunderstandings about his church.
“A lot of people would ascribe any weird thing they heard about anybody – they’d say, ‘That’s the Adventists,'” he said.
His mother was an Adventist, and he was baptized into the church twice at his own request, because he felt he was too young the first time to grasp the significance. He has served as an elder, a religious teacher and as a star representative of the denomination around the world. Videos are plentiful online of Carson debating atheists, upholding Adventist teaching that God created the Earth in six days, and giving personal testimonies at churches.
A twice-daily Bible reader, Carson said he still belongs to his longtime church in Spencerville, Maryland, and to another in Florida. If he’s on the road campaigning on a Saturday, he and his wife will try to find a local Adventist church or watch services online.
In the interview, Carson revealed he went through a brief period of questioning as a Yale University student about whether Adventism was right for him. He said he was upset by segregation in the church.
After trying out services at Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist and Lutheran churches, he ended up staying.
“I concluded it was the right church, just the wrong people. The church was very segregated. You know, if you have the love of God in your heart, it seems like you wouldn’t do that. That has changed fairly significantly since that time,” Carson said.
Traces of the anti-Catholic prejudice White expressed in her writings can still be found in Adventism. Carson rejects that bias.
“I love Catholics. My best friend is Catholic. I have several honorary degrees from Catholic universities,” he said.
Carson also addressed White’s end-of-the world prophecy about Jesus’ return. She predicted that the government, with the help of Christians who celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday, will persecute Seventh-day Adventists for their Saturday worship.
“I think there’s a wide variety of interpretations of that. There’s a lot of persecution of Christians going on already in other parts of world. And some people assume that’s going to happen every place. I’m not sure that’s an appropriate assumption,” he said. “If you look at what’s going on today with persecution of Christians, particularly in the Middle East, I believe that’s really more what’s being talked about.”
Adventists today place a heavy emphasis on protecting religious liberty, a position with roots in White’s prophecy, although their efforts extend beyond their own to church to help protect all faiths. The denomination filed a brief in support of the Muslim woman who won a Supreme Court case this year against Abercrombie & Fitch, which refused to hire her because she wore a headscarf.
Given the denomination’s traditional concern for religious freedom, some Adventists have been upset by Carson’s recent comments that the U.S. should not elect a Muslim president. He stood by that position in the interview, and said those who object probably don’t understand Islamic law, which he said “is not consistent with” the U.S. understanding of religious liberty.
Last May, Seventh-day Adventist officials issued a statement taking note of Carson’s candidacy. It emphasized the church’s longstanding support for the separation of church and state and said it was crucial for Adventists to continue keeping politics out of the pulpit during this election season.
Still, given the extra attention, the denomination is rolling out a new website, whoareadventists.org, to educate the public about the church.
“I think this is a great opportunity for us,” said Daniel Weber, an Adventist spokesman. “Donald Trump did a great thing when he said, ‘Who are Adventists?’ Now we’re answering that question.”
Darrell Scott, an Ohio pastor who has been helping to introduce Trump to Christian leaders from across the country, is among those pushing Trump or his surrogates to spend more time talking about Carson’s church.
“If they’re crediting the rise in the polls to the evangelical community and are saying the evangelical community is embracing Carson then they need to re-examine their position,” he said, “because he’s not a Christian in the evangelical sense of the word.”
Bob Vander Plaats, the president of the Iowa-based social conservative organization The Family Leader, said Trump has likely spurred evangelicals to ask more questions about Carson’s faith, but he doesn’t expect Carson’s denomination to hurt him.
“I do believe there is probably more people today in Iowa and across the country trying to learn about Seventh-day Adventists,” Vander Plaats said. “But I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of people getting into the theological weeds.”
Carson said he could easily handle whatever criticisms of his faith arise during the campaign.
“The things that I hear every day – are you kidding?” he said. “I fully expect people to come after me from every possible perspective because you know what I represent is a threat to the established regimes in this country on both sides of the aisle.”
The post Carson opens up about his membership in Seventh-day Adventist Church appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
With the running of the 2015 New York City Marathon, tens of thousands of professional and amateur competitors (and their fans) from more than 100 countries will once again descend upon the five boroughs of the Big Apple.
On display: Miles of motivational music, piles of paper cups and discarded warm-up clothes and endless amounts of inspiration.
A true New York institution, the race has a rich history, accented by the fight for gender equality and the rise of charitable giving. Here are eight things you may not have known about the New York City Marathon.
1. The first winners won watches and recycled trophies.
Like many great things, the New York City Marathon started out small.
2. In 1986, a Vietnam War veteran crossed the finish line after 98 hours — on his hands.
The marathon is more than just a runner’s game.
Since 2000, the New York City Marathon has featured separate Wheelchair and Hand Cycle divisions for athletes with disabilities. In 2014, 244 athletes with various disabilities, as well as 200 volunteer assistants, participated in the race.
During the 1986 marathon, Bob Weiland, a Vietnam War veteran who lost his legs in battle 17 years earlier, crossed the finish line after about 98 hours — on his hands. Weiland covered the course using only his arms to propel him, stopping to talk with vets, the homeless and others who inspired his endeavor along the way.
“I finished ahead of 300 million Americans who never finished the race,” Weiland told The New York Times in 2011.
He’s competed in handfuls of other marathons, too, and he’s also the only double amputee to finish the Kona, Hawaii, Ironman race without a wheelchair.
3. Brooklyn is the fastest borough.
It’s not called a marathon for nothing. Over bridges, along the water, through parks and across the pavement, running 26.2 miles through a city as diverse as New York can be a tiring tour for your feet.
According to marathon statistics, the fastest borough for runners is Brooklyn, due to its mostly flat terrain resulting in an average speed of 8:14 per mile. That could also be thanks to the Bishop Loughlin High School band that has played every year for the past 35 years around mile nine in Brooklyn. Dubbed “the original Marathon band,” the high schoolers play the theme song from Rocky over and over again until every runner has gone by.
But around mile 15, the Queensboro Bridge is considered one of the toughest points in the course, and with no spectators allowed on the bridge, it’s also the quietest. After crossing the Pulaski Bridge, the halfway point of the marathon, average pace slows down to 9:14.
4. Women weren’t allowed to participate until 1971.
In the early years of the marathon, women were barred from running because the Amateur Athletic Union, the then-governing body of track and field and distance running, which sanctioned events like marathons, deemed it too dangerous for females to run such great distances.
The ban was lifted in 1971, but only allowed women to participate if they started the race 10 minutes before or after the men.
Then, at the 1972 marathon, women made history without taking a single step. The six women who entered the race that year lined up at the starting line and the gun went off to signal their head start. And the women sat down. They remained seated, holding up signs mocking the AAU’s discriminatory policy, until it was time to for the rest of the entrants to start.
Since then the participation rate for women has steadily climbed to about 40 percent.
5. The marathon raises millions of dollars for charity each year.
Thousands of NYC marathon runners raise money for charities every year. The first official charity of the race was Fred’s Team, established by the father of Fred Lebow, the founder of the marathon who died from brain cancer in 1994, two years after he crossed the finish line at the race. In 2014, 8,500 charity runners raised a record $34.5 million for hundreds of charity organizations.
But plenty of runners go above and beyond raising money by literally donating the clothes off their back. On race day, many runners show up to the starting line in the early morning hours, bundled up for November temperatures, only to shed their layers in the first few miles of the race. Approximately 26 tons of clothing are discarded every year, which are collected by volunteers and donated to Goodwill.
6. At least one couple has gotten married during the marathon — and still finished.
Whether to win, to finish or to raise money, everyone venturing through the 26.2-mile racecourse at this year’s New York City Marathon has made some sort of commitment.
But in 1993, two runners made quite another. That year, Tom Young, 32, and Pam Kezios, 31, a couple from Chicago, stopped at Mile 8 on the steps of the Brooklyn Academy of Music to tie the knot.
Young donned a top hat and tuxedo, while Kezios wore a veil and white dress at the small ceremony. After exchanging vows, they continued with the race. Talk about an adrenaline boost.
7. The event has been marred by cheating scandals in the past.
Yes, like all competitions, the New York City Marathon isn’t immune from scandal. In 1979, Cuban-born New Yorker Rosie Ruiz became the most notorious marathoner for faking her finish. She was reportedly spotted leaving the course after only 10 miles and then took the subway to the finish line. Five months later, she was stripped of her marathon medals for New York City and Boston, where she was also accused of cheating.
Maybe Ruiz should have claimed to have gotten lost — which is possible. In 1994, Mexican runner German Silva was in the lead but made a wrong turn near Central Park during the final mile.
After 12 strides in the wrong direction, he realized the mistake and chased down a runner who had passed him. Even with the lapse in direction, Silva still won with a time of 2:11:21.
8. Millions of paper cups are used during the race.
The 26.2-mile course is equipped with 62,370 gallons of Poland Spring water and 32,040 gallons of Gatorade, which are handed out in recyclable cups at official fluid stations every mile.
That accounts for the more than 2.3 million paper cups that need to be picked up along the course after they’ve been tossed aside by runners.
But for some athletes, thirst quenchers are best served by the pint, which is why plenty of bars along the route offer drink specials for runners and spectators in celebration of the marathon.
(Some runners even like to imbibe during the race.) Talk about carbo-loading.
The post 8 things you didn’t know about the New York City Marathon appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
On Tuesday, I described the pending vast changes to Social Security rules included in the House 2015 Budget, which is being rushed through Congress without any hearings or time for public comment.
The bill will reduce the lifetime benefits of millions of Americans by tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. It will do so, in large part, by inducing people to take their retirement benefits far too early in order make up for the loss of spousal, divorce(e) spousal, child, disabled child, excess widow(er) and excess divorce(e) widow(er) benefits.
The bill not only cuts benefits for people who are about to make their Social Security collecting decisions, but it also stops benefits that people are already collecting. This is an absolutely terrible precedent for Congress (and the administration, which is fully on board) to make. No retiree will ever again be able to feel their Social Security benefits are safe from some backroom, midnight, rushed change in rules that are designed to meet some budget target or accommodate some politician’s whims.
Here’s an email I received yesterday from a gentleman whose first name is Steven.
I read with alarm your above-referenced article regarding changes to Social Security under the House Budget Bill. Three years ago, my wife and I decided that our best option for collecting Social Security benefits was for me to file and suspend at age 66. I’ll be 66 next year. So needless to say, your article is of great concern to us.
My understanding is that this has not yet been voted on, but that the Obama administration has a deal with Congress on the budget. Is Section 831 of the House bill part of that deal? Is there still a chance to remove or reform this section?
Thanks for your assistance on this and for your informative article.
I received this comment not too long afterwards from Dennis.
This is why we cannot trust a Republican Congress with our retirement security. I am currently relying on this benefit after turning 66 and working part time to have a large enough Social Security check to retire on at 70.
And I received this shortly thereafter from Mark.
First, thanks for your article today in Forbes. I am a subscriber to ESPlanner and of Maximize My Social Security. Obviously, my wife and I have really appreciated your advice. The way this is being done is horrible. I am 65, and my wife is 61. We had been planning our retirement for years with this strategy in mind, thanks to you. Now, because she is a few months shy of turning 62 this year, she loses all of it, while arbitrarily, a spouse who just turned 62 gets everything. I hope you will continue to speak out not only against the effect on those who are getting the benefits, but also against the suddenness of imposing these rules on people at or near retirement. I think this outrageous, and if it weren’t for you, I’m not even sure anyone would have made this an issue. Thank you.
This is illustrative of the huge problem with abruptly changing Social Security benefit rules. People have been making their retirement plans for years based on what they expect to receive in Social Security benefits. They may have quit their jobs early based on their expectation of receiving the benefits they were promised. Now, Congress and the administration are changing the rules on them with no advanced warning.
My column on Monday, however, may have done some small good to correct one of the bill’s most egregious provisions! The House Budget bill passed Wednesday was, apparently, amended so that spouses and children now collecting benefits on the work records of a husband, wife or parent who filed and suspended can continue to do so rather than have their benefits stop six months after the bill’s passage. Also, those who file and suspend in the six months after the bill is enacted will be grandfathered with respect to providing auxiliary benefits.
So anyone who is planning on filing and suspending to get their children or spouses full spousal benefits needs to do so IN THE NEXT SIX MONTHS. This pertains to anyone now over full retirement age and anyone who will reach full retirement age in the next six months.
Note also, that your spouse, who wishes to collect a spousal benefit on your work record while your retirement benefit is in suspension can be any age and qualify. But here’s the gotcha. If she turns age 62 in 2016 or thereafter, she will be deemed and forced to take both her own retirement benefit and spousal benefit at the same time and only receive what is approximately the larger of the two benefits.
Morton: Your admonition that people should use extreme caution in making Social Security collection decisions in your message to Maximize My Social Security subscribers provoked an interesting discussion in my household. Here is our situation:
I will be 67 in January 2016. I recently applied to take my Social Security benefits after my birthday and was notified today that I will begin receiving $2,727 in February 2016.
My wife Sally will turn 66 in January 2016. Our strategy, using your software, was that she would apply for her benefits and suspend them until she reaches 70. She was also planning to apply for spousal benefits under my name. The question is: Is there any risk to her going ahead now and filing and suspending? Is there any risk for her to apply for spousal benefits?
Your PBS NewsHour story and other published articles on these pending changes suggested two things that lead me to believe that she should indeed go ahead as planned. First, the change in the deeming only seems to apply to those who are now younger than 62. My wife is not in that category. Secondly, it appears there is an amendment that would grandfather in people who are now in the process of applying for benefits. This suggests that it may be advantageous for her to go ahead as planned.
Since we are not income-constrained, and she is planning on continuing to work anyway, it seems that the worst that could happen is that she would become ineligible to receive her spousal benefits. Would you advise her to go ahead as planned or wait until the legislation is finalized?
Larry Kotlikoff: You are grandfathered in for six months, so in December have your wife go into the office (she should make the appointment now since the office will be swamped) and tell them she wants to file a restricted application for her spousal benefit as of the day she turns 66. You should go in as well and file and suspend. Then take your retirement benefit at 70. You are very lucky. You just got under the bar.
Jean: So it’s happening, how dare they! But I do have a question. I can’t seem to find a straight answer to when this will go into effect, and if those already over 66 can still file and suspend and have their spouse get spousal benefits at 66. I’ve read a number of articles on this, but I’m trusting YOU to know. Some say it will have an immediate effect, some say it doesn’t effect those who have already turned 66, two articles said two years from now and others say in six months
To summarize my situation, I turned 66 in May 2015. My husband will turn 66 in August 2016. I have not yet filed and suspended. I was waiting until he turned 66 to maximize my benefits in case of death.
As others have said, I used this strategy to carefully plan retirement, and it seems very unfair to zap into place the new policy. Thanks for all you do. Great article this past Monday, but so unfair that you had to write about this.
Larry Kotlikoff: You should file and suspend right away. You will be grandfathered in. Please read this update on the budget passed by the House.
Pat: Unfortunately, knowledge of what Congress was doing came too late to prevent my husband and me from irrevocably setting some “asset” wheels in motion. We are now locked into that path and will not have access to the spousal benefits we anticipated receiving. Before we panic and pull out all the stops to come up with a Plan B, please confirm if I am understanding your summary correctly. Are spouses over 66 no longer able to collect a full spousal benefit on the record of their disabled spouse?
I am shocked that the media hasn’t given this any airtime, especially with how many people are affected. I hope Congress comes up with a better alternative.
Larry Kotlikoff: Depending on your age, you could be even one day too young, and thus, one of you may not be able to receive a full spousal benefit as planned. I, too, am totally shocked by this bill and the failure of the media to scream foul. I spoke today to a group of roughly 200 middle-class people. I estimate that this bill will cost them, on average, $35,000 each and a lot more if they are induced to take their own retirement benefits early.
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SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with some of the world’s most repressive governments Sunday, hoping to deepen America’s economic and security ties in Central Asia despite the often poor respect for human rights across the strategic region.
A day after visiting the area’s only parliamentary democracy, Kerry engaged in a difficult balancing act. The countries he spoke with included two still ruled by the only presidents they’ve ever known and another whose leader has been in power more than two decades. But given their geography just north of unstable Afghanistan, and squeezed by the political influence of Russia and commercial dominance of China, the United States has an interest in maintaining and cultivating even stronger ties.
“In Central Asia as elsewhere, people have a deep hunger for governments that are accountable and effective,” Kerry told the foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The agenda for the six-nation talks was far broader, however, promoting greater commercial activity among the five former Soviet republics and increased security cooperation to counter the Islamic State’s activities.
No one else mentioned human rights or democracy, but Kerry said economic projects are “closely related to the quality of governance and the strength of democratic institutions.”
Arriving in the ancient Silk Road city of Samarkand, Kerry was greeted at the airport by President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, whose rights record is routinely described as atrocious.
In its annual human rights report, the State Department lambasted Karimov’s government for torturing detainees, rigging elections, imposing widespread religious restrictions and imprisoning people of all faiths. Human rights groups say forced labor remains pervasive in the country’s cotton fields and that thousands have been convicted of “extremism” in closed trials after confessions obtained through torture. Corruption reigns with impunity.
Karimov and Kerry didn’t take any questions when a small group of journalists was briefly permitted into their meeting at a presidential residence. The larger meeting took place after.
The human rights situation appears little better among Uzbekistan’s neighbors.
The State Department says Kazakhstan’s citizens lack free speech, press, assembly and religion, while groups such as Human Rights Watch say the authorities regularly jail peaceful protesters and fine and detain worshippers of religions outside of state control. Other reported abuses included unlawful killings.
Tajikistan is an “authoritarian state,” according to Kerry’s agency. Authorities there recently banned the opposition Islamic Renaissance Party and arrested 78 of its members. Even their lawyer was arrested, while a former presidential candidate is serving a 29-year prison term. In March, assailants shot and killed a Tajik opposition figure in Istanbul under mysterious circumstances. Ahead of Kerry’s trip, a U.S. official noted that Tajikistan cracks down on men with long beards.
Turkmenistan, meanwhile, is one of the world’s most closed societies. Few human rights monitors exist in the country.
Rights groups on the outside say it is impossible to determine how many political prisoners the government is holding, while some have simply disappeared in prisons, cut off from contact with their families and the outside world. The State Department cites a litany of abuses including arbitrary arrest, torture, lack of privacy and human trafficking, while noting that no government officials have been prosecuted for human rights infractions.
Kerry visited the lone, democratic bright spot in the region on Saturday: Kyrgyzstan. There, he praised recent parliamentary elections and expressed regret for the State Department’s awarding of its annual Human Rights Award to an ethnic Uzbek activist serving a life sentence in prison for stirring up “ethnic hatred.”
The honor was meant to reflect Azimzhan Askarov’s life work, Kerry stressed, and not designed to offend the Kyrgyz government. It responded in July by lambasting the U.S. and dissolving a 22-year-old cooperation agreement with the United States. Kerry noted that a new agreement was now needed.
But even Kyrgyzstan wasn’t beyond the State Department’s criticism this year. The report cited a continued denial of justice after ethnic violence in the country’s south in 2010, poor judiciary procedures, torture of prisoners and “systematic, police-driven extortion of vulnerable minority groups.”
In a letter to Kerry ahead of his trip, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s top Democrat, highlighted the issue of political prisoners and cited an “erosion of the democratic process and respect for human rights across Central Asia.”
Cardin said Uzbekistan may be holding thousands of such prisoners alone, but he listed opposition figures in each land who are jailed on charges ranging from illegal entry into the country, polygamy and violation of internal prison rules to questionable claims of corruption, hostage taking, terrorism and murder.
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Kenyans Stanley Biwott and Mary Keitany pounded the pavement and sprinted to the finish on Sunday to win the men’s and women’s races at the 2015 New York City Marathon, beating out the more than 50,000 participants at this year’s race.
Winning his first major marathon, Biwott finished the 26.2-mile race with an unofficial time of 2:10:34, an average of just under five minutes a mile.
Keitany of Kenya won her second straight New York City Marathon, with an unofficial time of 2:24:25.
In the men’s division, Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya finished second, and Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, who won the 2013 Boston Marathon the year of the bombing, finished third.
Meb Keflezighi, the top American runner finished in seventh place.
In the women’s division, finishing second was Ethiopian Aselefech Mergia, and her fellow countryworman Tigist Tufa finished third.
In the wheelchair division, South African Ernst Van Dyk won the men’s push rim race, clocking in at 1:30:54, and Tatyana McFadden of the U.S. won the women’s race at 1:43:04.
Ludovic Narce of France won the handcycle race, finishing at 1:13:19.
Prize money for the runners who place totals $705,000, with potential time bonuses. The men’s and women’s champions each receive $100,000.
Among the thousands of participants at this year’s race were a handful of celebrities and athletes, including Alicia Keys, Ethan Hawke, Sean Astin, Tiki Barber, James Blake and Nev Schulman.
Over 130,000 people applied for a spot to compete in Sunday’s race, and more than 2 million spectators were expected to line the city streets on Sunday to cheer on the runners, making the New York City Marathon the largest in the world — a big step up from the first Marathon in 1970, which featured just 127 runners and a total budget of $1,000.
The race kicked off at 8:30 a.m. Sunday with the wheelchair division, followed by hand cycle competitors and select disabled athletes, then professional women. The bulk of the runners, including the professional men, hit the course in four waves, starting at 9:50 a.m.
The racecourse starts on Staten Island at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and takes runners through the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx before finishing in Manhattan at Central Park. Runners have eight-and-a-half hours to complete the course. Last year’s average time was 4:34:45.
In 2014, a record 50,530 runners from 130 countries participated in the race, including the one-millionth finisher in the history of the event.
The marathon is also an economic juggernaut for the Big Apple. Last year’s race generated an economic impact of about $415 million, according to a report produced for race organizer New York Road Runners by AECOM, a firm that provides professional and technical services.
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PANMUNJOM, Korea — U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter called on North Korea to shrink and eventually eliminate its nuclear weapons program, while acknowledging during a visit Sunday to the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas that prospects for reconciling with the defiant North are dim.
“For now what we have is what you see beyond us – a very starkly divided and heavily defended border area,” Carter told reporters as he stood on the South Korean side of a marker inside the DMZ that forms the de facto border. Several yards to his rear was the start of North Korea’s portion of the zone, which amounts to a buffer meant to keep the peace even though the two Koreas are technically still at war.
Carter’s first stop near the DMZ was a reminder of long-simmering tensions. His helicopter alighted at Camp Bonifas, named for Arthur Bonifas, an Army captain killed in a DMZ ax attack by North Korean soldiers in August 1976, along with Army 1st Lt. Mark Barrett. Carter was then driven to Observation Post Ouellette, just yards from North Korea’s side; South Korean officers gave him the lay of the land.
At Panmunjom, the village where the July 1953 armistice was signed pausing the Korean War, Carter, flanked by U.S. and South Korean soldiers, looked across the line dividing the Koreas and then turned to tell reporters the U.S. alliance with South Korea is “iron clad.”
“Being here shows you up close how dangerous this part of the world is,” he said.
A U.N. coalition led by the United States fought on South Korea’s side during the 3-year war against a North Korea backed by China and the Soviet Union. No peace treaty was ever signed, and the border area is considered one of the most heavily armed in the world.
It was Carter’s first visit to the DMZ as defense secretary and marked the start of a weeklong Asia tour that also will take him to Malaysia.
Asked whether he saw any reason for optimism about getting North Korea off its nuclear path, Carter noted that the communist country’s leadership is largely a mystery to Washington. He called on the North to avoid provocations and to carry out steps to end its nuclear program, as envisioned in talks it held from 2003 to 2009 with the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea.
The North, believed to already possess a small number of nuclear weapons, has since stated that it would never return to the six-party talks.
“They should be on a path of doing less, and ultimately zero, in the nuclear field,” Carter said.
On Monday, Carter was to attend an annual security conference with South Korean defense leaders in Seoul. The talks were expected to focus on Seoul’s progress in developing the military capacity believed necessary to no longer require the Americans to command South Korean forces in the event of a North Korean invasion.
The South Koreans were to have taken the responsibility for wartime command of its forces several years ago but talked the U.S. into delaying the transfer indefinitely while it seeks to improve several aspects of its military.
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A collector in Greece purchased what is likely ‘the most expensive biscuit ever sold’ — a cracker that survived the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic — for roughly $23,000 last week.
— ForbesLife (@ForbesLife) November 1, 2015
The 103-year-old Spillers and Bakers “Pilot” biscuit was made from a simple recipe of flour and water and belonged to a survival kit from one of the doomed ocean liner’s lifeboats.
James Fenwick, a passenger aboard the SS Carpathia when it went to rescue survivors from the sinking Titanic, claimed the cracker and saved it in an envelope, according to Henry Aldridge & Son, the U.K. auction house that sold the morsel.
“Will the buyer take a bite out of the biscuit? I doubt it, it would be a most expensive nibble,” Henry Aldridge & Son auctioneer Andrew Aldridge told the state-run Xinhua News Agency in China.
The 3.5-square-inch cracker was auctioned on October 24 and had been estimated to sell for $15,300 to $18,406.
The auction house noted that the next-costliest biscuit ever sold was one from an Antarctic expedition. It fetched a price of $4,500.
The auction included other Titanic artifacts, including a sterling silver cup that was presented the captain of the Carpathia by Titanic-survivor Molly Brown (immortalized on Broadway and the silver screen in the ’60s musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown), which sold for $230,000, and a photo of the iceberg that purportedly sunk the Titanic sold for $32,000.
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Brazilian Pedro Arruda had an unforgettable lodging experience over the weekend as the lucky winner of a Halloween contest sponsored by home-sharing company Airbnb. The prize? A sleepover in the famous Paris catacombs, a labyrinth of subterranean tombs that hold the remains of roughly 6 million people.
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 1, 2015
After submitting an essay explaining why he was brave enough to spend the night 65 feet underground, the 27-year-old and a guest were awarded a double bed in a candle-lit stone chamber, as well dinner, a violin concert and a storyteller to get them in the Halloween spirit.
Arruda, who calls himself a “history nerd,” brought his mother along for company.
Paris officials began transferring bodies to the catacombs — dubbed “the world’s largest grave” — in the late 18th and mid-19th centuries after public cemeteries were closed amid health fears.
Visitors to Paris can tour the catacombs, which comprise more than 200 miles of tunnels and crypts, and experience “a tableau of death with bones arranged in a macabre display of high Romantic taste,” which didn’t appear to worry Arruda.
“I’d be much more scared if they were alive,” Arruda told The Associated Press.
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Orthodox priests conducted special services and flags flew at half-staff above the Kremlin Sunday in commemoration of the Russian citizens who died Saturday when their plane crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the country’s worst air disaster ever.
Russian MetroJet flight 9268 lost radio contact and crashed in a desolate, mountainous region of the central Sinai called Hassana early Saturday morning, less than half an hour after it took off from the popular Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh. All 224 people on board, nearly all of whom were Russian, died, officials said.
As Russia mourned its dead and Egyptian authorities evacuated bodies and examined debris at the crash site, new information about the disaster came to light, though many questions remain in the case of the downed jet, whose cause remains uncertain.
Suggestions of mechanical problems
In a Saturday interview on Russian state-owned NTV, Natalya Trukhacheva, the wife of deceased co-pilot Sergei Trukachev said that her husband had complained about the condition of the plane.
Trukhacheva told NTV that her husband spoke with their daughter “before he flew out. He complained before the flight that the technical condition of the aircraft left much to be desired,” The Associated Press reported.
Russia’s state-funded RIA Novosti news agency reported Saturday that an unnamed source at the airport in Sharm el-Sheikh said the plane’s crew had complained to the airport’s technical service that the 18-year-old Airbus 321 had engine problems.
According to Russian news reports, Russian investigators have already examined the quality of the fuel used by the airliner and found that it met necessary requirements, Reuters reported.
An official with Egypt’s Aviation Incidents Committee, Ayman al-Muqadem, said that the pilot requested an emergency landing before losing communication.
The Swedish flight tracking website FlightRadar24, which tracked flight 9268’s flight data before the crash, reports that the plane did not “squawk 7700” (aviation slang for setting a plane’s transponder to the international emergency code of 7700).
Because the plane did not take such action, some early reports claimed mistakenly that the pilots did not issue and SOS call, but it seems the pilots did inform ground control of their plan to attempt an emergency landing at an airport about 40 miles from the crash site.
ISIS involvement addressed
Soon after the plane crashed Saturday, a local ISIS affiliate called Sinai Province of the Islamic State released a statement claiming responsibility for the crash, saying it downed the plan in retaliation for Russia’s recent military support for the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Many experts and officials expressed skepticism Saturday about the group’s claim, which nonetheless circulated widely on social media.
Russian transportation minister Maxim Sokolov said militants could not have used a missile to bring down the jet. “Such reports cannot be considered true,” he told the Interfax news agency, according to the BBC.
“We are in close touch with our colleagues from Egypt and their air traffic authorities, and they have nothing at the moment which could confirm such fabrications,” Sokolov said.
Egyptian army spokesman Mohamed Samir also disputed the account.
“They can put out whatever statements they want but there is no proof at this point that terrorists were responsible for this plane crash. We will know the true reasons when the Civil Aviation Authority in coordination with Russian authorities completes its investigation. But the army sees no authenticity to the claims,” Samir said, according to The Guardian.
Experts also questioned the group’s account, pointing out that local militants are not believed to possess weapons capable of hitting the plane at its cruising height of 31,000 feet.
MetroJet fleet grounded
Interfax, a Russian news agency, reported Sunday that Russia has grounded MetroJet’s fleet of Airbus A321 jets, the same model as the crashed plane, according to a Reuters report.
Interfax said the Russian transportation regulator Rostransnadzor, which oversees civil aviation, told MetroJet to ground its A321 fleet until investigators determined the cause of the Sinai crash.
However, another Russian news agency reported that a MetroJet spokesperson denied receiving the order, Reuters reported.
Airlines reroute flights
Several airlines whose planes normally fly over the Sinai have rerouted their aircraft pending further information about the causes of the crash.
Two major European carriers, the German airline Lufthansa and Air France, said Saturday that they will stop flying over the Sinai as a precautionary measure while the crash is under investigation.
Three United Arab Emirates airlines, Emirates, Air Arabia and flydubai, announced Sunday that they, too, will reroute plans around the Sinai for the time being.
In separate statements emailed to Reuters, the airlines said they were monitoring the area closely and rerouting planes as a security precaution.
Rerouting raises airlines’ fuel costs, since the planes must generally fly farther in order to do so.
Details emerge about the passengers
Most of the 217 passengers — and all seven crew members — were Russians, with the exceptions of three Ukrainian citizens and one passenger from Belarus.
Most of those on board were vacationers returning home to St. Petersburg from Red Sea resorts popular with Russian tourists.
Russian newspaper RBK reported that the passenger manifest included many people who shared last names, indicating many families on board, and at least 17 of those killed were children.
More than half of the bodies have been recovered and moved to a morgue in Cairo, after which they will be returned to their home countries.
Black boxes recovered from crash site
Egyptian officials have recovered both of the so-called black boxes, devices that record flight data and cockpit voice recordings, from the crash site, and officials say the recorders are intact.
Viktor Sorochenko, the executive director of Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee, told journalists that flight 9268 broke up midflight, Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency reported.
“It is too early to speak about the crash causes. The plane broke down in midair and its fragments are scattered over a vast area of about” eight square miles, Sorochenko said.
Russian investigators said it may take months to examine the entire debris field, an area roughly six times the size of Central Park.
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WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan on Sunday ruled out a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system while President Barack Obama is in office.
The new leader of the Republican-controlled House said in several interviews Sunday that he will not work with Obama because the president went around Congress with an executive order to shield from deportation millions of people living here illegally.
“I don’t think we can trust the president on this issue,” Ryan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and other programs. “I do not believe we should advance comprehensive immigration legislation with a president who has proven himself untrustworthy on this issue.”
The decision puts off any prospect of addressing a comprehensive immigration overhaul until at least 2017 — after the presidential race and Obama’s departure from office. It leaves the legislation stalled in the House and without a chance of being revived in the Senate.
For Ryan, the move removes the prospects of a clash with the same House conservatives who made John Boehner’s life difficult and helped push Boehner into retirement. Ryan was a proponent of the stalled comprehensive immigration bill, and conservatives had been concerned that he would try to revive it as speaker.
But in several interviews aired Sunday, Ryan stamped out any such possibility. He said it’s possible to get smaller immigration-related policy passed.
“If we believe and have consensus on things like border enforcement and interior security, then fine,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Obama issued directives a year ago that gave temporary relief from deportation to about 4 million immigrants in the country illegally, along with permits authorizing them to work in the U.S.
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HARI SREENIVASAN, CORRESPONDENT: The glorious sunset over the island of Lesbos is misleading. The Aegean Sea is anything but tranquil these days.
This night, an inflatable raft is in trouble. People on shore have shone a light on this pile of lifejackets to guide the distressed boat into land.
On this occasion, fate is kind, this rescued group of migrants and refugees is taken to the harbor on the northern side of the island. These families, wrapped in thermal blankets, are lucky to have survived.
RON REDMOND, SPOKESMAN, UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: The numbers of people coming through here are so huge, and the resources to cope with it so small that Greece cannot do this alone, which we’ve been saying since the beginning.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Ron Redmond has worked with the United Nations’ refugee agency since the early 1990s.
RON REDMOND: I mean, until now, since the beginning of the year, they’ve had over half a million people come through these islands, up through Athens, then they get on buses, they go up to the border, and they leave Greece and go North.
But just the week they spend in Greece, is putting a huge strain on, particularly, the eastern islands.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The authorities on Lesbos are already overwhelmed as their population surges by the boat load. Aid agencies cannot provide the number of shelters needed.
The refugees come here, because the island is Greece’s nearest point to Turkey — just five miles away at its closest shores.
Traffickers charge these desperate travelers anywhere between $1,000 and $2,500 per person for the short, dangerous trip.
The week I was there, 45,000 migrants crossed into Greece. In fact 80 percent of the migrants and refugees who’ve arrived in Europe this year have come through Greece.
Nikos Kostandaros is the managing editor of a leading Greek newspaper, Kathimerini.
NIKOS KOSTANDAROS, MANAGING EDITOR, KATHIMERINI: Greece is not able to protect is borders, and that’s not because it wouldn’t try. It’s impossible. The islands are a lacework across the sea. You cannot stop it.
And how do you stop it? Do you sink the boats with people on board? Do you shoot at them?
Do you bomb Turkey before they leave, which was one of the issues that was raised in Libya, for example — that they would bomb the smugglers boats before they left. These are crazy ideas. There is no stopping it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: One of the challenges of keeping migrants from entering Greece is behind me. The country has more than 6,000 islands. That’s more coastline than Mexico.
This ship — docked in the main town on Lesbos — belongs to Frontex, the European agency that’s supposed to help nations protect their external land and sea borders.
But in practice, Frontex is acting as a rescue service for refugees in peril on the sea.
In some ways, so is this Greek warship anchored in a cove off Lesbos. These days it works as much in a humanitarian capacity as it does dealing with security.
Above the bay, every day, thousands of migrants line up for food provided by aid agencies, while waiting to catch a bus to a ferry provided by the Greek government that will take them to the mainland.
Security experts worry that blending in among the masses of these unscreened refugees could be trained militants from groups like the Islamic State, or ISIS.
That’s a concern of Theodoros Panas, a retired Greek intelligence officer who oversaw counter-terrorism efforts during the last Athens Olympics, in 2004.
THEODOROS PANAS, MAJOR GENERAL (RET.), GREEK ARMY: One of the easiest ways to infiltrate in Europe or other countries is through this problem.
HARI SREENIVASAN: While some countries in the E.U. see the weak borders in Greece as part of the problem. Panas says the problem begins in Turkey.
THEODOROS PANAS: We can see, for example, in Turkey, that daily they are crossing the border — more than 10,000 people. I cannot believe that this is done without the local authorities of Turkey to know it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Every day, a ferry from Lesbos docks at the main port in Athens, and it is filled with refugees who are anxious to embark on the next stage of their journey north.
Even Syrian medical student Mohammed Ghunaim, who is recording every step of his journey, understands the resistance.
MOHAMMED GHUNAIM, SYRIAN REFUGEE: They have the right to close their borders or open it, because it’s their, their countries.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Some refugees land at weigh stations like this park in Victoria Square in Athens, waiting for days till they can get money wired to them from their relatives in order to continue their journey onward.
Given this border crisis in Greece, how do you reverse this?
NIKOS KOSTANDAROS: I don’t think you can reverse this — not in the sense of stopping the flow of people, once they are on the road.
All the efforts in Syria are piecemeal and often at odds with each other. This is an opportunity now for everybody to press for a vital solution.
Pushing all of the parties involved in the Syrian conflict towards a compromise somewhere that can give people the hope of returning.
That will also help deal with the problem in Europe — once we know that it’s not permanent; once we know that we are helping people in their hour of need rather than changing our own society in a way that that no one has been prepared for.
RON REDMOND: Primarily you’ve got to end the conflicts, and we don’t see that happening in Syria.
HARI SREENIVASAN: When you have one country that wants to build a razor wire fence and another country that wants to treat migrants differently, what are you going to have in six months to a year? A patchwork of quasi-borders?
RON REDMOND: I think, initially, what you are going to see and what I think people upstream fear, for example, here in Greece, that they’re going to be left holding the bag — that you’re going to have a backup going all the way to Greece and beyond even.
I mean you build a dam, you end up with a reservoir behind it, and I think somebody may get stuck with a reservoir or refugees.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Greece has avoided becoming that reservoir by managing to funnel the new arrivals up to its border with Macedonia and then they march on through the Balkans– and beyond.
Amidst a profound economic crisis of its own, Greece is struggling with the burden of being the refugees’ main port of call.
And if its neighbors decide to shut down their frontiers and refuse to admit more asylum seekers, these refugees could be trapped in a country they do not want to be in and one that cannot afford them.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Turkey’s ruling party appears to have regained control of Parliament.
In national elections today, the Justice and Development Party, known as AKP, won slightly less than 50 percent of the vote, thought to be enough either to win a majority of seats or to control a governing coalition.
The results are a boost for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, although he wasn’t on the ballot. His party had lost its parliamentary majority in June.
The victory could strengthen Erdogan’s hand in cracking down on Kurdish separatists and in cooperating with NATO allies, including the United States, in fighting Islamic State, or ISIS, militants in neighboring Syria and Iraq.
“NewsHour” special correspondent Malcolm Brabant is in Turkey covering the elections. He joins me now via Skype from Istanbul.
Malcolm, everyone got this wrong in their predictions heading into the election. What happened?
MALCOLM BRABANT: Well, there has been some consistency actually in lots of elections around the world, where — whereby the pollsters have got it wrong. And it seems that Turkey, in that respect, is no different from other places where the pollsters have got it wrong.
Perhaps people have been telling fibs to the pollsters because they want to trick them. But what seems to have happened is that the Turks seem to have taken a decision that they wanted to vote for stability and also for security.
And what seems to have happened is that Mr. Erdogan’s gamble of holding second elections in the space of five months has worked. And the reasons for that seem to be, as I say, because the Turks crave stability. There are also those terrorist bombs some time ago.
And that’s led people to go rushing perhaps back to Mr. Erdogan’s AK Party. There was one analyst on television a short time ago. He was saying that, during the June elections, the AK Party’s supporters deserted it because they were disillusioned with Mr. Erdogan, and they — but they abstained. But, this time, they have come rushing back.
The other thing that does seem to have happened is that there was disunity amongst the opposition parties. And people seem to have been punishing them for not having the ability to come up with an alternative to Mr. Erdogan’s party.
So, that appears to be the reason why he’s won. And, tonight, the prime minister was saying that, although this is a fairly substantial and unexpected victory, he appealed for the AK Party supporters to have humility in this victory and not to be arrogant about it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Well, besides the security question that you mentioned already, what about the refugees that are landing on Turkey’s door? I mean, they have two million refugees from Syria along their borders, practically entire cities of refugee camps now.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Well, this is really a sort of major problem for Turkey, but also for Europe.
But what this election victory does, really, in a way, is that it strengthens Mr. Erdogan’s hand when it comes to dealing with Europe, because now they know who they’re dealing with. And so there are some people in Europe, for example, who think that Mr. Erdogan and his parties here have been blackmailing Europe into trying to get more money out of them in order to support these refugees.
But now at least Europe knows that — who it’s dealing with, in that there is some sort of government here. And so perhaps some sort of arrangement can now be worked out.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Well, were there any sort of exit questionnaires or polls taken on what influenced people when they went into the polls today?
MALCOLM BRABANT: That sort of evidence has not really come out on Turkish television.
And there are — there are some people here who are rather unhappy about the result. I mean, there are people on the left of Turkish society and also people in the Kurdish areas down in the southeast who are very sort of perturbed about the level of victory that Mr. Erdogan seems to have achieved.
They seem to be sort of suggesting that there might have been some kind of dirty tricks. But I have spoken to the international observers organization which is here, the Organization for Security in Europe, and they seem to be pretty happy about the way in which the — the election was carried out, in complete fairness.
But there are a couple of things that are a little bit strange here. For example, the official state organization which counts the polls closed down its sort of counting system today. And that sort of really puzzled even the most experienced political analysts. They don’t understand really why — why that has happened.
And so there are lots of people who are angry tonight. There have been minor sort of disturbances in Diyarbakir, which is the center of the Kurdish region down in the southeast. People from the — who support the Kurdish party, the HDP, which did so well in the June election, are disappointed that their numbers have dropped.
But there are some people who think that the reason they didn’t do so well this time was because they are forced into a position of supporting, in a way, the Kurdish nationalists, the PKK, after the government started attacking them.
So, whereas before that they had kind of a pan-Turkish appeal in — towards people who were disenchanted with the government and perhaps feeling a little bit disenfranchised, some of those folks have gone back to more traditional opposition parties. But, certainly, the opposition parties have been hammered tonight.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Malcolm Brabant, special correspondent for the “NewsHour,” joining us via Skype from Istanbul tonight, thanks so much.
MALCOLM BRABANT: You’re welcome.
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A U.S. Navy search team has found what it believes is the submerged wreckage of the American cargo ship El Faro, which went missing last month during Hurricane Joaquin, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board announced in a press release Saturday night. The 790-foot ship, along with its crew of 28 Americans and five Polish citizens, went missing near the Bahamas on Oct. 1.
Using a ship-based sonar system called Orion, the search team on board the USNS Apache located the ship in question near El Faro’s last known location, at a depth of about 15,000 feet.
In its press release, the NTSB said, “The target identified by Orion is consistent with a 790-foot cargo ship, which from sonar images appears to be in an upright position and in one piece.”
In order to confirm the wrecked vessel’s identity, specialists aboard the Apache will send a drone submarine called the CURV-21 nearly three miles down into the depths to investigate the wreck. The NTSB said this survey could begin as early as Sunday.
The disappearance of the ship — which was en route from Jacksonville, Florida, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, — prompted the NTSB to contract with the U.S. Navy to undertake a massive search that covered tens of thousands of square miles of ocean.
Search teams had previously found debris from the ship and recovered the body of one crew member still wearing a survival suit.
If the wreck does turn out to be El Faro, the Navy team will begin to document and vessel and its debris field, find the voyage data recorder (similar to the so-called black boxes that commercial airliners carry) and recover the remains of the missing sailors.
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Fred Thompson, a former U.S. Senator and Republican presidential candidate, as well as a film and television actor, died Sunday, his family said.
According to their statement, Thompson died in Nashville from a recurrence of lymphoma at age 73.
“It is with a heavy heart and a deep sense of grief that we share the passing of our brother, husband, father, and grandfather who died peacefully in Nashville surrounded by his family,” the statement said.
Thompson served as a U.S. senator from Tennessee for two terms before retiring from the seat in 2003, saying he didn’t “have the heart” for another term, the Associated Press reported.
In 2007, he mounted a campaign to run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination but ultimately dropped out after faring poorly.
“Fred once said that the experiences he had growing up in small-town Tennessee formed the prism through which he viewed the world and shaped the way he dealt with life,” the family statement said. “Fred stood on principle and common sense, and had a deep love for and connection with the people across Tennessee whom he had the privilege to serve in the United States Senate.”
Earlier in his political career, Thompson served as an attorney on the congressional committee that investigated the Watergate scandal, playing a behind-the-scenes role in the hearings that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
“Fred believed that the greatness of our nation was defined by the hard work, faith, and honesty of its people,” the statement said. “He had an enduring belief in the exceptionalism of our country, and that America could provide the opportunity for any boy or girl, in any corner of our country, to succeed in life. “
Thompson was also well-known for his appearances on TV and in movies. He played the district attorney on NBC’s “Law and Order” for five seasons and appeared in more than 20 films, including “The Hunt for Red October,” “In the Line of Fire” and “Cape Fear.”
“He enjoyed a hearty laugh, a strong handshake, a good cigar, and a healthy dose of humility,” the statement said. “Fred was the same man on the floor of the Senate, the movie studio, or the town square of Lawrenceburg, his home.”
Thompson is survived by his son, Freddie Dalton “Tony” Thompson, Jr., and his wife Jeri Kehn and their two young children, according to The Tennessean.
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WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidates have agreed on a series of demands to give them greater control of debates, as the GOP’s frustrated 2016 class works to inject changes into a nominating process that was supposed to create a smoother path to the White House.
The dynamics of the extraordinarily crowded contest, which has increasingly featured Republican infighting, has prompted the campaigns to try to wrestle some control of the debates from the Republican National Committee and media hosts.
Representatives from more than a dozen campaigns emerged from a closed-door meeting in suburban Washington Sunday night having agreed to several changes to be outlined in a letter to debate hosts in the coming days. They include largely bypassing the RNC in coordinating with network hosts, mandatory opening and closing statements, an equal number of questions for the candidates, and pre-approval of on-screen graphics, according to Ben Carson campaign manager Barry Bennett, who hosted the meeting.
“The amazing part for me was how friendly the meeting was,” Bennett said, noting the gathering was held in a room marked “family meeting.” ”Everybody was cordial. We all agreed we need to have these meetings more regularly.”
The GOP’s most recent debate, moderated by CNBC in Boulder, Colorado, on Wednesday night, drew harsh criticism from campaigns and GOP officials. Afterward, some candidates complained that the questions were not substantive enough; others wanted more air time or assurance that candidates would get opening and closing statements.
GOP Chairman Reince Priebus decided to suspend a partnership with NBC News and its properties on a debate set for February, but that wasn’t enough to satisfy the frustrated campaigns.
“We need to mature in the way that we do these debates if they’re going to be useful to the American people,” Carson told ABC’s “This Week.”
While the campaigns agreed to the changes in principle Sunday night, the media companies that host the debates are under no obligation to adopt them. Bennett suggested that campaigns could boycott debates to get their way.
“The only leverage we have is to not come,” he said.
The pushback comes despite a high-profile effort by the Republican National Committee to improve the debate process going into the 2016 election season. The party said the 2012 debate schedule promoted too much fighting among candidates, so for 2016, the RNC dramatically reduced the number of debates for this election and played a leading role in coordinating network hosts and even moderators, in some cases.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday morning distanced himself from the new demands.
“Do not count me in the group that’s doing this moaning and complaining about this,” Christie said on CNN. His campaign attended the meeting to listen, he said, but “I support the RNC continuing to make these decisions.”
He added that “the third debate wasn’t awful,” although he disliked moderators interrupting candidates’ answers.
“The presidency is almost never scripted, so we shouldn’t have these debates scripted, either,” Christie said.
Three debates remain before the first nomination contest, the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1. The next one is scheduled for Nov. 10 in Milwaukee. The RNC has sanctioned five debates after the caucuses.
“What it really comes down to is the candidates want to have more control of the ability to negotiate with the networks,” Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said after the meeting.
While organizers of the meeting were not including the RNC, the party has been in regular communication with campaigns about their concerns.
Shortly before the meeting, the RNC appointed Sean Cairncross, the committee’s chief operating officer, to take the lead in negotiating with the networks. It’s unclear, however, what role he’ll play should the campaigns get their way.
“This is the first step in the process of understanding what the candidates want, and then we need to have a more specific conversation about NBC,” RNC chief strategist Sean Spicer said Sunday ahead of the meeting. “We need to start a process. Tonight’s the first step.”
Some candidates are trying to use the debate discord to their advantage — none more than Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Campaigning in Iowa this weekend, he slammed the CNBC debate moderators for asking questions that he said “illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media.” He was cheered after calling for future debates to be moderated by conservatives such as radio host Rush Limbaugh.
Editor’s note: This post has been corrected to reflect that the next debate is Nov. 10 in Milwaukee, not Las Vegas.
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this report.
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President Obama is scheduled to speak at Rutgers University at 4:20 p.m. EST as part of his commitment to criminal justice reform. PBS NewsHour will live stream the event in the player above.
WASHINGTON — More than half a million people leave U.S. prisons each year, but with jobs, housing and mental health services scarce, many are soon back behind bars. On Monday, President Barack Obama will call for breaking that cycle of incarceration by helping former inmates successfully re-enter society.
With his visit to a drug treatment center in Newark, New Jersey, Obama aims to boost his ongoing push for overhauling the criminal justice system. In rare bipartisan fashion, Congress is considering legislation cutting sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, but Obama will seek to force attention to the plight offenders face once they’re finally set free.
“Everyone has a role to play, from businesses that are hiring ex-offenders to philanthropies that are supporting education and training programs,” Obama said in his weekly address.
Without new laws, Obama is limited in what he can to do. For example, Obama has asked Congress to “ban the box” — shorthand for prohibiting the government and its contractors for asking job applicants about criminal histories on applications. It’s an issue resonating in the Democratic presidential primary, with Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley all supporting steps to help those convicted of crimes find employment.
Using his own authority where possible, Obama will announce he’s asking the government personnel office to wait until later in the hiring process to ask about criminal histories — a step most federal agencies have already taken, the White House said. The Obama administration will also clarify its “one strike” rule that prevents many people with arrest records from living in public housing.
At Integrity House, a state-funded drug and residential treatment center, Obama was to be joined by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. Obama also planned to host a roundtable and deliver a statement at Rutgers University’s law school.
Aiming to seize some of Obama’s limelight, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie planned his own events Monday on community policing and criminal justice in Camden.
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Season 2 of the popular public radio podcast “Serial” will be made available on Pandora, in addition to iTunes and on its own website.
Pandora announced Monday it would be the exclusive streaming service for Serial, which launched its first season in October 2014.
“Pandora is all about discovery and this gives us a great opportunity — not only to offer each of you a great new experience, but to help Serial expand its audience,” Pandora officials said in a statement.
Unlike much of Pandora’s service, where listeners select an individual channel and receive a shuffled version of similar music, “Serial” listeners will be able to choose specific episodes, beginning at 6 a.m. Eastern time on the day they are released.
The popular podcast’s second season is expected to launch this year, although the creators have not announced an exact date or what it will be about. There have been reports that it will investigate the case of Bowe Berghdal, the Army soldier who fell into Taliban hands after he went missing from his post in Afghanistan.
The podcast gained rapid popularity during its first season as it investigated the case of Adnan Syed, a high schooler from Baltimore who was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend. Its success is largely attributed to its innovative story-telling technique and tagline — “One story. Told week by week.”
The reporting has also had real-world implications. Earlier this year, a court granted Syed’s appeal for a post-conviction hearing. His attorneys are arguing that he received ineffective counsel and a key witness testimony was not placed into evidence, two issues journalist and host Sarah Koenig raised in the “Serial” podcast.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this report stated that season 2 will begin Nov. 24. Season 1 will be available on Pandora on that date.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn now to Turkey, a nation at the forefront of the refugee crisis and a critical and often problematic partner to the U.S. in the American-led coalition against the Islamic State.
The country has been in political limbo since June’s election there failed to produce a clear-cut winner. That all changed last night, when President Recep Erdogan’s party emerged victorious in Sunday’s snap election. Supporters say the win is a return to stability.
But, as special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports, others fear the results are a giant step towards autocratic rule.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The call to prayer rang out around Central Istanbul today, reinforcing the message that after five months of political instability, Turkey is now back on a familiar track, under the firm control of the Islamic A.K., or A.K. Party, founded by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Political analysts here believe most Turks rejected the opposition parties because they needed a sense of security during a dangerous time. But not everyone in Taksim Square was happy.
MAN: Like I said, personally, I’m upset about what is going on. You don’t have to be asking normal citizens. I think everybody knows about how democracy goes on here in Turkey, so many prisoners. You can’t say what you’re thinking, exactly. I don’t feel free. I’m also a bit scared.
WOMAN (through interpreter): I think our people selected stability once again. And I think they decided well with a single-party government again.
MALCOLM BRABANT: As the A.K. Party celebrated last night, the prime minister urged his parliamentarians to employ humility, instead of triumphalism. President Erdogan wasn’t giving much away about his intentions today.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkish President (through interpreter): The national will manifested itself on November 1 in favor of stability. After the short-term developments, the national will decided that there is no way out other than choosing stability. They decided in favor of stability. I hope this outcome will be good for our people and our country.
MALCOLM BRABANT: But international observers complained about election irregularities. Representing European election monitors, Andreas Gross urged President Erdogan to end Turkey’s divisions and to be less authoritarian.
ANDREAS GROSS, European Election Monitor: Fear is the enemy of democracy, enemy of free choice. And in this sense, we are disappointed of the quality of the process. And in light of this, it is even more vital that this is an appeal that the president works in the future for a more inclusive political process.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Leading Turkish political analyst Cengiz Aktar believes President Erdogan is now on course to get a referendum aimed at boosting his executive powers.
CENGIZ AKTAR, Political Analyst: If this man has a role model in the world, it’s probably Vladimir Putin. So I think he will run by decree. He will just use the Parliament when he needs to use the Parliament, and he will put in practice his ideas and ideology that he thinks is the right thing for this country and for the people of this country, without asking anything to anyone.
MALCOLM BRABANT: But Etyen Mahcupyan, a senior adviser to the prime minister, predicts that Turkish Muslims will not tolerate President Erdogan emulating his Russian counterpart, and believes their relationship with the A.K. Party is key to Turkey’s future success.
ETYEN MAHCUPYAN, Senior Adviser: If democracy is right for this country, it will arrive through the hands of the Islamic community, the conservative community. And as long as this party alone can talk to them, can carry their voices and so on and so forth, it will be through our party.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Political analysts expect to see a new self-confidence from the Turkish government. They don’t expect any change in the policy regarding refugees. The A.K. Party will continue to press ahead with efforts to join the European Union.
As far as the United States is concerned, they say that the most important thing is that Turkey will insist on having a big say in what happens in Syria.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Malcolm Brabant in Istanbul.
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