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

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    A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp's planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota November 14, 2014. The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives approved the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, but a similar measure struggled to get enough support in the Senate and President Barack Obama indicated he might use his veto if the bill does get through Congress. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen   (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENERGY BUSINESS) - RTR4E83W

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Clearly, there have been and remain big divides on this decision and the impact it will have for years to come.

    We sample some of that reaction with Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts who has opposed the pipeline, and Representative Leonard Lance. He’s a Republican from New Jersey who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He was in favor of it.

    Gentlemen, welcome to the program.

    Let me first get your reaction to what the president said and his explanation for it.

    Senator Markey, you first.

    SEN. EDWARD MARKEY (D), Massachusetts: Well, it’s the right decision.

    The dirtiest oil in the world is the tar sand oil up in Canada. This would have constructed a pipeline like a straw through the United States, with us running all of the environmental risk, all the way down to Port Arthur, Texas, which is a tax-free export zone, and then the oil would just leave the United States. No guarantee that it would be used for American purposes, even as we export young men and women overseas to protect ships bringing oil into the Middle East.

    And so it’s a win on energy, it’s a win on climate, it’s a win on job creation, because this now puts the focus back on wind and solar and other renewable energy resources. And believe it or not, that the Canadians wouldn’t even have to have contributed to the oil liability tax fund in the event that there was an oil spill within the United States.

    So the president clearly made the right decision and has much more credibility as he heads to Paris to give the leadership to the rest of the world to reduce greenhouse gases.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Representative Lance, how do you read this decision?

    REP. LEONARD LANCE (R), New Jersey: I think this is perception over reality.

    I think the pipeline would be in the national interest of the United States. It would have created 42,000 jobs for building the pipeline, some permanent jobs, and I think this was based upon politics and not the science and not on the merits.

    And I’m sorry that the president acted as he did today. A new president elected in 2016 could change the decision beginning in 2017, if the company reapplies. Canada is our strongest and closest ally. And while we’re permitting the purchase of Iranian oil across the globe, we’re not doing the same for our friend and ally Canada.

    And this was supported overwhelmingly by the American people and overwhelmingly in Congress in a bipartisan way both in the House of Representatives and the United States Senate. I think the vote in the House was 270 to 156, and in the United States Senate something like 62 to 36. I think it’s unfortunate that the president made his decision today, seven years in the making, that should have been made within a year, and I’m sorry that the decision was made today.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you both about some of the points you’re making.

    Senator Markey, what about this point that — is this really a decision that’s going to have serious impact, when the next president could come along in just over a year and reverse it and say yes to the pipeline?

    SEN. EDWARD MARKEY: I think that, obviously, there is a precedent which is being set.

    There is a decision made by a president after he has looked at the extensive record of environmental damage, as well as national security, and whether or not it does create energy independence, which it wouldn’t, because I actually made the amendment on the Senate floor in January saying that the oil has to stay in the United States.

    And just about every Republican voted no and defeated my effort to keep the oil in the United States. So, any time you hear them now talk about energy independence, then ask them why they voted against keeping it in our country, while the American Petroleum Institute is simultaneously trying to lift the ban on the exportation of oil that is drilled for in the United States.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask…

    SEN. EDWARD MARKEY: And we still import — we still import five million barrels of oil a day in our country, just pretty much the largest in the world, and yet this is a whole effort to export oil out of our country. It makes no sense whatsoever.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask Congressman Lance about that point.

    What about that?

    REP. LEONARD LANCE: Some of the oil would stay here. It would be refined here and stay here. Some of it would undoubtedly go abroad.

    But The Washington Post gave four Pinocchios to the president’s remarks earlier in the year that it would just go through this country and that some of it wouldn’t stay here. Some of it clearly would stay here. And that was evidenced by the decision of The Washington Post to give the president four Pinocchios on that matter.

    Regardless of that, I think that this is in the best interest of the United States. And, certainly, both the old Canadian prime minister and the new Canadian prime minister, Mr. Trudeau, support this. And I hope that a new president in 2017 will take a look at this again.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Congressman Lance, let me just pick up on that. There is also an economic argument that’s been made that these oil companies may decide, given the low price of oil right now, that it may not be worth their while to ship this expensive tar sands oil through the pipeline.

    So, couldn’t that make this whole thing moot, this project?

    REP. LEONARD LANCE: I would imagine oil prices will rise over time. I cannot imagine they will stay where they are now. This obviously is an economic decision.

    But a pipeline, Judy, is safer than transporting oil by rail, and that really is the alternative, and the State Department recognizes that this is safer than the alternative through rail or truck, and that is another reason why I think the pipeline should be built.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Senator Markey, let me come back to something else. We’re seeing some analysis today that — and the president himself said this. He said this is a largely — or suggested this is largely a symbolic move. He said this is not going to be — quote — “the express lane to climate disaster that some people argue.”

    And the argument is made that one oil infrastructure projects is really not going to affect climate change that much.

    SEN. EDWARD MARKEY: Well, on the other hand, you cannot preach temperance from a bar stool.

    So, if the United States is going to be in Paris, that’s what the president will be doing in representing our country, you can’t be telling the rest of the world to be reducing your greenhouse gases while simultaneously saying that we’re going to allow for a pipeline to be built with big environmental issues, carrying the dirtiest oil in the world, and to do so credibly as we tell other countries that they should reduce their consumption of fossil fuels, they should reduce their greenhouse gases.

    So I think that it’s not insignificant. In fact, I think it’s very important, in combination with the president’s clean power rules to reduce greenhouse gases from the utilities, which the Republicans oppose, to continue to keep the fuel economy standards heading towards 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025, which the Republicans pledge to take off the books, and to keep the tax breaks for wind and solar on the books, which the Republicans are pledging to take off the books.

    It’s part of a totality of a story that the United States can now bring with great credibility to Paris that makes it possible for us to say that, China and India and other countries, you must now do your part.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just 10 seconds left, Congressman Lance. Do you want to respond?

    REP. LEONARD LANCE: Yes, I don’t think either China or India will be impressed by this. I think this will make no difference at all in Paris, and I hope that a new president revisits this in 2017.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Congressman Leonard Lance, Senator Ed Markey, we thank you both.

    SEN. EDWARD MARKEY: Thank you. Appreciate it.

    REP. LEONARD LANCE: Thank you.

    The post What’s the impact of Obama’s Keystone pipeline decision? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Secretary of State John Kerry (R), speaks about the Keystone XL oil pipeline from the White House in  Washington November 6, 2015. Obama rejected the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Nebraska, more than seven years after the controversial project was first proposed. "The State Department has decided the Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the national interests of the United States. I agree with that decision," Obama said.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque       TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1V2M8

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: To many observers, President Obama’s decision on the Keystone pipeline may have seemed like a forgone conclusion.

    But earlier during his term, environmentalists were worried that he would approve it. Climate change, however, has become a central focus of the Obama second term, and it was very much on his mind today when he announced the decision. It was a decision seven years in the making.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: After extensive public outreach and consultation with other cabinet agencies, the State Department has decided the Keystone XL pipeline wouldn’t serve the national interest of the United States. I agree with that decision.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: With that, President Obama formally rejected TransCanada’s application to extend the controversial pipeline. The massive network would have connected oil sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Gulf Coast, adding to existing pipelines. It would have carried 800,000 barrels of oil a day.

    The company, along with many Republican lawmakers in the U.S., argued the project would create thousands of jobs and lower gas prices. But Mr. Obama disagreed, pointing out gas prices are already lower. More importantly, he said, the pipeline wasn’t in line with his administration’s efforts to combat climate change.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today, we’re continuing to lead by example, because, ultimately, if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable, but uninhabitable, in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground, rather than burn them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: TransCanada quickly condemned the decision, calling it — quote — “misplaced symbolism.”

    The company’s statement read: “It is disappointing the administration appears to have said yes to more oil imports from Iran and Venezuela over oil from Canada, the United States’ strongest ally and trading partner.”

    And even some Democrats in Congress, from states the pipeline would have passed through, criticized the move.

    Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas:

    REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D), Texas: So, you’re talking about jobs, you’re talking about energy independence. And, all of a sudden, the State Department flip-flops and goes to the other directions. Bottom line, it’s a job creator, and I see that on a day-to-day basis in my district.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama had faced considerable pressure from the left to act, while he kept his own opinion under wraps.

    Environmental activists staged large protests in front of the White House and demanded he reject the proposal. Today, they called the decision a big win.

    But the fate of the pipeline could change after the 2016 elections if TransCanada reapplies. Several Republican presidential candidates said today they would reverse Mr. Obama’s decision.

    The post Obama: Keystone XL wouldn’t serve national interest appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Inside A Rigzone Oil & Gas Career Fair Ahead Of Jobs Figures

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Hiring surged in the United States in October after two lackluster months. The Labor Department reported employers added 271,000 jobs. That’s the most for one month since December.

    This helped push the unemployment rate down to 5 percent, the lowest it’s been in seven years. At the same time, the proportion of Americans in the labor force was unchanged, at around 62 percent. Today’s strong data left the door open to a possible interest rate hike when Federal Reserve Bank policy-makers meet next month.

    On Wall Street, stocks failed to get much of a boost out of the jobs report. The Dow Jones industrial average gained just under 47 points to close at 17910. The Nasdaq rose 19 points, and the S&P 500 lost a fraction of a point. For the week, all three major indexes gained nearly 1 percent or more.

    President Obama rejected the Keystone XL oil pipeline proposal today, ending a protracted debate and handing a big victory to environmentalists. The controversial pipeline would have permitted oil from Canada’s tar sands to flow to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. The president said the project would have undermined American efforts to secure a global climate change deal. We will take a closer look at the impact of his decision right after the news summary.

    The Supreme Court agreed today to hear a fourth case challenging President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. This time, the court will decide whether religious-affiliated institutions like universities and hospitals should be free from playing any role in providing employees contraceptive coverage. The president’s health care overhaul currently mandates that those institutions request exemption from insurers.

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that he was confident they would win the legal challenge.

    JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: The policy that we have in place appropriately balances the need for millions of Americans to have access to birth control while also protecting the right of religious freedom that is protected in our Constitution.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The high court will hear arguments in March.

    There was word today the Obama administration plans to open new screening centers to increase the number of Syrians taking refuge in the U.S. Reuters, citing unnamed officials, reported the outposts will be located in Iraq and Lebanon. President Obama had already vowed to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. in 2016. It’s not clear how many more will now be taken in.

    Greek ferry workers called off strikes today, clearing the way for thousands of refugees and other migrants to continue their journeys to the Greek mainland. The first ships arrived in a port near Athens this morning. The strike, which began Monday, stranded some 25,000 asylum seekers in cramped conditions on small Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. The ferry workers were protesting new austerity measures under Greece’s bailout.

    Rescue teams in Southeastern Brazil today desperately searched for survivors in a remote village engulfed in mud after dams from a nearby mining complex burst. The iron ore mine’s president said the two dams failed yesterday before nightfall. Sludge flooded a community downstream, swallowing homes and cars in thick mud. At least two people died, and dozens more are still missing. Residents said no one alerted them to the danger.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): It was worse than a tsunami, what happened to house. Everyone was shouting. There was no alarm to warn us that the dam had broken. Those who managed to save themselves ran or got on a truck that drove by and asked people to hop on. Everyone was panicking. About 60 people were riding on the truck, and the rest were left behind.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s still not clear what caused the ruptures, but mine officials said that seismic activity was reported in the region shortly beforehand.

    Politicians were out in force in Myanmar today, the last day of campaigning before the country, formerly known as Burma, holds its first relatively free elections in 25 years. Hundreds gathered for rallies as candidates and their supporters distributed fliers to potential voters.

    Meanwhile, election officials set up polling stations in advance of Sunday’s vote. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party is expected to win the most votes over its military-backed rival.

    The post News Wrap: October hiring surge pushes down unemployment to seven-year low appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    HARI SREENIVASAN: During the Cold War, the United States built tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. Now that it’s over and with arms control treaties in place, the arsenal has shrunk significantly.

    The Departments of Defense and Energy say the remaining bombs need to be rebuilt, but critics say those departments are building new nuclear bombs and spending too much money.

    Veteran correspondent Jamie McIntyre, now Al-Jazeera America’s national security correspondent, went on special assignment for the NewsHour to examine the claims.

    The story was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: At Eglin Air Force Base, a solitary F-15 takes to the skies over the swamps of Western Florida on a mission that hearkens back to the Cold War.

    It looks like any old-fashioned gravity bomb as it falls to earth. But what you’re seeing is one small part of an $8 billion project, the most extensive and expensive improvement ever to the B-61 nuclear bomb. It’s a nuclear test of sorts without a mushroom cloud, because what’s being tried out is a new guidance system to increase accuracy.

    The first test mission was flown by pilot Jeff Searcy.

    MAJ. JEFF SEARCY, Air Force Test Pilot: We are able to enter in coordinates into our system and then transfer those coordinates into the weapon now. And the weapon is built to be able to guide to those coordinates.

    NARRATOR: This is a B-61 bomb, a lightweight two-stage thermonuclear weapon.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: The B-61 was designed and first built in the early 1960s. As this vintage Air Force film shows, it lacked any of today high-tech guidance systems, relying on a parachute to give the plane time to escape the blast.

    A half-century later, it’s still the mainstay of the Air Force’s nuclear arsenal, long overdue for an overhaul, argues Major General Garrett Harencak.

    MAJ. GEN. GARRETT HARENCAK, U.S. Air Force: These components age, just like any component would in an automobile or in an appliance, and it has certain aspects of it that just have to be modernized.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: The PBS NewsHour was given exclusive and unprecedented access to the labs and facilities across the country involved in the multibillion-dollar makeover, such as the National Security Campus in Kansas City, where crash tests help determine the durability of key components.

    The B-61 is just one program in a $100 billion effort dubbed stockpile stewardship, an ambitious plan that includes modernizing America’s remaining arsenal of 1,500 nuclear bombs and warheads. At Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico, senior engineer Brad Boswell showed me the obsolete analog innards of the old 1960s version of the bomb.

    So, one of the things that was surprising to me was that we still have nuclear weapons using vacuum tubes, like the ones we had in our old TVs.

    BRAD BOSWELL, Sandia National Laboratories: That is correct.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: And so this kind vacuum tube is now part of this printed circuit board?

    BRAD BOSWELL: That is correct. As you look at this printed circuit board, vacuum tubes like this are replaced by the smaller, commonly used electronic, discrete components that you see on these boards today.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: While many of the components of the B-61 are being upgraded and modernized, the big change is the addition of this tail fin kit, which allows the bomb to be guided to its target, a big improvement over the old system that deployed a parachute, which floated the bomb down to the ground.

    It won’t make the bomb as precise as a GPS-guided smart bomb, but it will increase its accuracy. You might think that with all their destructive power, nuclear weapons wouldn’t need to hit a target dead center. But the B-61 has a feature dubbed dial-a-yield, which allows its explosive force to be reduced. And when combined with better accuracy, that results in a weapon war-fighters might actually be tempted to use on the battlefield.

    In his Washington office, Hans Kristensen, with the Federation of American Scientists, called up a Web site to show me an example.

    HANS KRISTENSEN, Federation of American Scientists: Here you have, the White House itself is gone, and so is much of the downtown area, but a much smaller radius.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: Smaller blast area, less radiation, fewer casualties, all add up to a more palatable last-resort option, argues Kristensen, making the B-61 less deadly, but, perversely, more dangerous.

    HANS KRISTENSEN: It’s more likely that a military commander will go to the president with this weapon and say, Mr. President, all our other options are out of the question, but we have a good one here that doesn’t pollute a whole lot.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: It’s one thing for an arms control advocates to make that case, but another when the former top commander of America’s nuclear forces to agree.

    Retired Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Marine General James Cartwright supports the B-61 upgrade, but can see how it could change the calculus in a crisis.

    GEN. JAMES CARTWRIGHT (RET.), Former Commander, U.S. Strategic Command: If I can drive down the yield, drive down, therefore, the likelihood of fallout, et cetera, does that make it more usable in the eyes of some — some president or national security decision-making process? And the answer is, it likely could be more usable.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: The Pentagon argues making nuclear weapons more usable makes them a more realistic threat, thereby increasing their deterrent value and decreasing the risk of miscalculation.

    Donald Cook is a deputy administrator at the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is overseeing the B-61 project:

    DONALD COOK, National Nuclear Security Administration: If we have a weapon that is lower-yield and greater accuracy, and our adversaries know that, it’s my own belief that that weapon then is a more effective deterrent and is, therefore, less likely to ever be used in anger.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: The Pentagon is careful to portray the new B-61 as basically the same old bomb with just a few more modern parts. That’s a key point, since the Obama administration had pledged not to build new nuclear weapons.

    But officials also stress they’re making the bomb safer and more reliable. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, engineers are testing a new high-explosive material that’s used to trigger the nuclear chain reaction in the B-61 warhead. It’s called insensitive high explosive, insensitive because it’s really hard to detonate, just what you want in a nuclear warhead.

    The standard for nuclear weapons is always/never, as in, they must always work when they should, and never when they shouldn’t. Critics of the B-61 say they have no objection to making nuclear weapons safer, but they allege the Energy Department labs that rebuild the weapons have a financial motive, lobbying Congress, sometimes with government money, to approve lucrative contracts.

    Jay Coghlan is with Nuclear Watch New Mexico, an anti-nuclear watchdog group.

    JAY COGHLAN, Nuclear Watch New Mexico: The American taxpayers should know that the directors of these nuclear weapons laboratories that are pushing these extreme proposals actually have an inherent conflict of interests.

    They’re both the lab directors, but at the same time they’re the presidents of corporations running the labs. It’s in their interests and their bottom line to be able to have these life extension programs.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: At Sandia, deputy laboratory director Steve Rottler said his people believe they are performing a vital national security function.

    STEVE ROTTLER, Sandia National Laboratories: We very much view what we’re doing as a public service. We approach it with objectivity. We approach it with the sober understanding of what we’re doing and the impact of what that could mean if these weapons were ever used.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: Critics like to point out the estimated $20 million price tag for a single retooled B-61 is more than if the 700-pound bomb were made out of solid gold. And they argue the billions could be better spent on more conventional arms, weapons that will be used every day.

    That argument rankles Air Force General Harencak, who says deterring potential adversaries is a real return on investment.

    MAJ. GEN. GARRETT HARENCAK: Eight-point-one billion dollars is a lot of money, but what you can’t do is just take the number of missiles and divide it by 8.1 and say, OK, this is the cost. This is a weapon that is going to be used every single day in a deterrent mission. So, when you add that over 40 years, find out, I think you come to the realization that it’s a pretty good bargain for the American people.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: The cost of the program has already doubled once from the initial estimate, and one internal Pentagon review back in 2012 suggested the final cost could end up higher.

    Whatever the price tag, the B-61 will be the Pentagon’s most expensive bomb project ever.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jamie McIntyre, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: There’s a lot more about the remaking of America’s nuclear arsenal on our Web site. We have extended excerpts of all the key interviews, plus a photo essay, all that at PBS.org/NewsHour.

    The post America’s nuclear bomb gets a makeover appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson delivers the keynote speech at the Black Republican Caucus of South Florida's scholarship gala at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida November 6, 2015. Photo by Joe Skipper/Reuters.

    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson delivers the keynote speech at the Black Republican Caucus of South Florida’s scholarship gala at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida November 6, 2015. Photo by Joe Skipper/Reuters.

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Criticizing the news media as unfair, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is defending his past descriptions of receiving a scholarship offer for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point even though it does not offer scholarships and he never applied for admission.

    Questions about Carson’s assertions about his personal history, including his claim that he was a troubled youth beset at times by violent behavior, and his inaccurate pronouncements about historical events have gained attention as he has risen to the top of some national polls.

    “I think what it shows, and these kinds of things show, is there is a desperation on behalf of some to try to find a way to tarnish me,” Carson said Friday night during a news conference outside West Palm Beach. “Because they have been looking through everything. They have been talking to everyone I have ever known and everybody I have ever seen. There has got to be a scandal.”

    He told reporters, “My job is to call you out when you’re unfair, and I’m going to continue to do that.”

    Carson is a newcomer to national politics and has developed a passionate following based in part on his inspirational personal story and devotion to Christian values. The only African-American in the Republican 2016 class, he grew up in inner-city Detroit and often speaks about his childhood brushes with violence and poverty.

    Following a story published by Politico on Friday, his campaign sought to clarify Carson’s story about his interest in attending West Point in his breakout book, “Gifted Hands,” in which he outlines his participation with the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, commonly known as ROTC, while in high school.

    “I was offered a full scholarship to West Point,” Carson wrote in the 1996 book. “I didn’t refuse the scholarship outright, but I let them know that a military career wasn’t where I saw myself going. As overjoyed as I felt to be offered such a scholarship, I wasn’t really tempted.”

    Campaign spokesman Doug Watts said Carson was “the top ROTC student in the city of Detroit” and “was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC supervisors.”

    “They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it, but in the end did not seek admission,” Watts said.

    Students who are granted admission to West Point are not awarded scholarships. Instead, they are said to earn appointments to the military academy, which come with tuition, room and board and expenses paid, in exchange for five years of service in the Army after graduation.

    A West Point spokesman on Friday said the academy “cannot confirm whether anyone during that time period was nominated to West Point if they chose not to pursue completion of the application process.”

    At his news conference Friday night, Carson said, “It was an offer to me. It was specifically made.” He said he could not recall specifically who made the offer. “It’s almost 50 years ago. I bet you don’t remember all the people you talked to 50 years ago,” he said.

    Pressed further by reporters, Carson said: “What about the West Point thing is false? What is false about it?” Asking if he had made a mistake in recounting the story, he said, “I don’t think so. I think it is perfectly clear. I think there are people who want to make it into a mistake. I’m not going to say it is a mistake, so forget about it.”

    Hours earlier, Carson had told Fox News in an interview, “I guess it could have been more clarified. I told it as I understood it.”

    A CNN report this week found no support for Carson’s oft-repeated claim that he tried to stab a close friend as a teenager. Citing privacy concerns, his campaign has refused to name the person involved.

    In a post Wednesday on his Facebook page, Carson wrote that “every signer of the Declaration of Independence had no elected office experience.” About half had been elected members of colonial assemblies, and Watts acknowledged the error to The Washington Post.

    On another topic, Carson has said the great pyramids of Egypt were built by the biblical figure Joseph to store grain, although the accepted science says that they were tombs for pharaohs.

    The post Ben Carson defends West Point story, calling news media ‘unfair’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (L), Bernie Sanders (C) and Martin O'Malley (R) wave to the crowd following the First in the South Presidential Candidates Forum held at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina November 6, 2015. Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters.

    Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (L), Bernie Sanders (C) and Martin O’Malley (R) wave to the crowd following the First in the South Presidential Candidates Forum held at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina November 6, 2015. Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters.

    ROCK HILL, S.C. — The Democratic primary race entered a new phase on Friday night, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Gov. Martin O’Malley escalating their criticism of front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    With her numbers on the rise after a summer slump, Clinton finds herself increasingly targeted by her primary opponents – a tonal shift for a race that has been notably civil for much of the early primary.

    But in South Carolina on Friday night, there was a bit less Southern gentility on display.

    In individual interviews with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, both Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Gov. Martin O’Malley cast themselves as the party’s liberal standard-bearers, questioning Clinton’s commitment to the causes Democrats hold dear.

    Though careful never to mention Clinton by name, Sanders drew a sharp contrast with her on everything from campaign finance reform to foreign affairs.

    He noted his opposition to the war in Iraq and his refusal to accept super PAC donations and said he opposes the Obama administration’s recent decision to send special forces to Syria, a position that Clinton supports. He also undermined Clinton’s opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, which was officially rejected by President Barack Obama’s administration hours earlier after a yearslong campaign by liberal activists.

    Clinton said she opposed the pipeline in September, a project she said she was “inclined” to support back in 2010 as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.

    “For me, as opposed to some other unnamed candidates, the issue of Keystone was kind of no brainer,” he said. “I said to no to Keystone on Day One.”

    O’Malley echoed his critique, adding in his own shots at Sanders. In an effort to break into what’s shaping up to be a two-person primary race, he suggested that the self-identified democratic socialist is not a loyal member of the party.

    “I think that when President Obama was running for re-election, I was glad to step up and work very hard for him while Sen. Sanders was trying to find someone to primary him,” O’Malley said. “I’m a Democrat. I’m a lifelong Democrat. I’m not an independent. I’m not a former Republican. I believe in the party of Franklin Roosevelt.”

    The offensive comes little more than a week before the candidates will meet in Iowa for their next debate, a forum Clinton showed a commanding control of during the first match-up last month.

    The message intended for Democratic voters was clear: Clinton cannot be trusted to fight hard for liberal values.

    Clinton, who followed the two men on the stage, largely stuck to her campaign themes, never acknowledging either of her opponents, But she cast herself as a fighter for liberal principles, demurring when asked whether she’s the most hawkish of the Democratic hopefuls and vowing to take on the Koch brothers.

    “Anybody who thinks they can influence what I will do doesn’t know me very well,” she said, responded to a question about the millions of dollars she made from highly paid speeches to Wall Street bankers.

    Democrats have spent months boasting about the substantive tone of their contest, attempting to set-up a favorable early contrast with the crowded and often carnival-like insults of the Republican primary.

    Sanders, in particular, has vowed to avoid character attacks, making an intense focus on policy a key part of his insurgent rise. With his more aggressive approach toward Clinton, Sanders risks undermining his outsider brand by sounding like he’s practicing politics as usual.

    His aides insist that that he has not made a dramatic shift to draw sharper contrasts with Clinton.

    “It’s not about punching up,” campaign manager Jeff Weaver told reporters after the event.

    But while Sanders blamed the media, saying he can’t walk through the U.S. Capitol without reporters “begging me to attack Hillary Clinton,” there’s little question he’s sharpened his critique in recent days.

    After seeming to set aside the issue of what he described as her “damn emails” in the first Democratic debate, he appeared to reopen the saga in an interview with The Wall Street Journal earlier this week, saying there are “valid questions” about her correspondence. Aides say he hasn’t changed his position, arguing he long backed continuing the federal investigation into her use of a private server.

    And he was blunt in a Boston Globe editorial meeting on Thursday: “I disagree with Hillary Clinton on virtually everything,” he said.

    A day later, Sanders insisted that his comments are rooted not in personality politics but serious policy differences.

    “I would not have run for president,” he said, “if I believed that establishment politics and establishment economics could solve the very serious problems that we face.”

    The forum, sponsored by MSNBC, kicks off a weekend of Democratic events in South Carolina, which hosts the South’s first presidential primary weeks after Iowa and New Hampshire begin the nominating process. South Carolina is particularly important for Democrats, because it is the first state where black voters – a key part of Obama’s coalition in his two victories – will comprise a significant portion of the electorate.

    The post With attacks on Clinton, Democratic race enters new phase appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Activists rally to protest against U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hosting the upcoming episode of the television show "Saturday Night Live" in Universal City, California November 6, 2015.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

    Activists rally to protest against U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hosting the upcoming episode of the television show “Saturday Night Live” in Universal City, California November 6, 2015. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

    NEW YORK — Amid high anticipation and sharp criticism, Donald Trump is set to step onstage in Studio 8H tonight to host “Saturday Night Live.”

    Despite a 40-year history of lampooning politicians while inviting some to mock themselves as on-air guests, booking a presidential candidate to host the NBC sketch-comedy show is almost unprecedented.

    Previously, only eight politicians served as guest hosts. Only one of those – the Rev. Al Sharpton, in 2003 – was actively involved in a presidential bid at the time. (Hillary Clinton appeared in last month’s season premiere, but not as the host.)

    This won’t be Trump’s first turn as guest host. The billionaire developer and media celebrity presided in April 2004, a few weeks after NBC’s “The Apprentice” debuted.

    This time, “SNL” will serve as a campaign stop on Trump’s drive for the Republican presidential nomination.

    Meanwhile, the TV platform granted him has fanned the flames of outrage sparked in June when he announced his candidacy and described some Mexicans who are in the United States illegally as criminals and rapists. Those immigration comments spurred NBC to sever its Miss Universe ties with Trump while declaring he would never return to his “Apprentice” role.

    This week, NBC faced mounting pressure from a coalition of advocacy groups calling for Trump to be dropped from “SNL” for what one spokesman termed his “racist demagoguery.”

    NBC has not responded to the outcry, and Trump’s 90 minutes in the “SNL” spotlight seemed certain.

    Typically outspoken, Trump has welcomed the controversy, predicting it would only boost his audience.

    For candidate Trump, whose many interview and debate appearances are drawing large viewerships, a spike in this week’s “SNL” ratings seems assured.

    “Saturday Night Live” airs at 11:30 p.m. EST Saturday.

    The post Live from New York, Donald Trump set to host ‘Saturday Night Live’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Allegiance George Takei on Broadway / not for reuse

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    MORI ROTHMAN: George Takei believes a musical is the perfect format to retell the history of the Japanese-American internment during World War Two.

    GEORGE TAKEI: Music has the power to hit people right here in the heart, emotionally, as well as intellectually.

    MORI ROTHMAN: In early 1942 the U-S ordered 110-thousand Japanese-Americans living on the west coast to internment camps. Five year old Takei and his family were sent to camps in Arkansas and Utah for nearly four years.  The musical “Allegiance” is loosely based on their experience.

    Takei’s family had lived in Los Angeles. His father, who emigrated as a child ran a dry cleaner. His mother raised the three kids.

    Takei’s parents couldn’t understand why their country made them live behind barbed wire fences.

    GEORGE TAKEI: I couldn’t reconcile what I read in civics books and history books about the shining ideals of our democracy with what I knew to be my childhood imprisonment. And to be suspected of being the enemy when we were Americans.

    MORI ROTHMAN: In Allegiance, Takei plays the grandfather of the main character, Sammy, who struggles to reconcile his pride in being American with his family’s suffering in the camp…where they lived in cold barracks without plumbing or privacy.

    SAMMY: They’re treating us like animals!

    TAKEI: Isamu… gaman.

    SAMMY: Gaman?

    KEI: It means to carry on.

    TAKEI: Hold head high.

    MORI ROTHMAN: The musical focuses on Sammy and his sister, Kei- siblings driven apart after internment by conflicting ideas about loyalty and patriotism.

    GEORGE TAKEI: We wanted to humanize the internment experience. We wanted to make them people who were resilient, part of resilience is the ability to find joy even under those harsh circumstances and love.

    MORI ROTHMAN: For Takei, reliving the painful events of 70 years ago is a chance to make amends with his own family.

    GEORGE TAKEI: In one heated discussion with my father, I said ‘Daddy, you led us like sheep[s] to slaughter into the internment camps,’ and then he looked at me and said, ‘Well, maybe you’re right,’ and he got up, went into his bedroom and closed the door. And I felt terrible. And I never apologized. I’m apologizing to my dad every night.

    MORI ROTHMAN: The cast of “Allegiance” is the first to be led by Asian actors on Broadway since the revival of the musical “Flower Drum Song” thirteen years ago. But Takei is used to breaking barriers: when “Star Trek” began in 1966, he was one of the first Asians to star on American TV.

    For years, Takei spoke publicly about his internment but the idea for “Allegiance” did not occur until he discussed it with composer Jay Kuo in 2008.

    MORI ROTHMAN: You yourself have been very outspoken, going around the country to speak about the internment, why is that?

    GEORGE TAKEI: People who I consider well informed people are shocked when I tell them about my childhood. It’s a vital part of American history. And Americans don’t know it. And we have to know our history to learn from it.

    MORI ROTHMAN: And Takei says the internment needs to be remembered so it is never repeated.

    The post ‘Allegiance’ with George Takei portrays Japanese-American internment on Broadway appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — For years, President Barack Obama chided Republicans and Democrats alike for treating the Keystone XL pipeline as a signal of whether the U.S. would seriously fight global warming. Now that he’s killed the project, Obama is holding it up as Exhibit A as he works to lock in his environmental legacy with a powerful international climate accord.

    Rejecting Keystone, the proposed 1,179-mile crude oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S., was the latest in a long and growing list of steps Obama has taken to try to show that the U.S. is leading the effort against global warming. Even while Republicans have fought Obama tooth-and-nail at home, he’s sought to use those steps to pressure other countries into taking similar action – especially poorer, developing countries that for years have argued that climate change is not their problem.

    At the center of Obama’s efforts are landmark carbon dioxide emissions limits on U.S. power plants that have been cheered by environmentalists but derided by most energy advocates. Although the rules are proceeding for the time being, they face an uncertain future. Half of the states in the U.S. are suing to try to block them.

    “There has been a steady drumbeat of steps the president has taken that are more impactful for climate change, factually, than Keystone,” said White House communications director Jen Psaki. “Our view is that we need to continue to lead by example. Is that difficult? Yes, of course it is.”

    If the power plant rules falter, Obama would be hard-pressed to secure the 26 percent to 28 percent cut in U.S. emissions that he’s pledged as America’s commitment to the climate treaty. If the U.S. comes up short, analysts predict, other countries like China will start backing out.

    Obama is counting on the climate treaty, to be finalized early next month in Paris, to vault him into a category of his own: the first president to treat climate change as a top-tier issue, and the first to secure the type of commitments from other countries needed to address the problem significantly.

    To that end, Obama’s many executive steps to reduce greenhouse gases have been designed in part to maximize his leverage when he negotiates overseas.

    Aside from the power plant rules, Obama has ramped up fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, taking aim at one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases. His administration has also moved to curb emissions from methane, hydrofluorocarbons and other pollutants while providing more federal dollars for renewable energy sources like wind, hydro and solar.

    And in the run-up to Paris, Obama struck major climate deals with China, hoping that a commitment by the world’s largest polluter to cut emissions would make it impossible for other developing nations like India and Brazil to beg off from making commitments of their own. China, which is still building coal plants to fuel growing power consumption, plans to max out its carbon emissions around 2030, if not sooner.

    “To fight climate change effectively, we will need to make thousands of changes across our economy,” Michael Brune, the head of the Sierra Club, said in an interview. “We have gone through a period of increased climate denial, but now we’re in a place of dramatically increased acceptance of the need to act on climate.”

    World leaders have been working for years to hash out what they hope will be the most sweeping and powerful pact ever reached on global warming. Although the initial deal will include pledges by countries that extend through 2030, negotiators are wrangling over mechanisms to ensure countries revisit and ramp up their commitments for the rest of the century.

    Yet while prospects for finishing a deal in Paris are high, already there are growing doubts about whether the pact will go far enough to avert the worst effects of climate change, and concerns about its durability. Facing bleak prospects for getting a Republican-controlled Congress to ratify a climate treaty, Obama is pursuing a deal that won’t require formal congressional sign-off, a strategy that reflects the challenges many other world leaders face in securing domestic support for tough action on climate.

    In rejecting TransCanada’s application for Keystone, Obama set aside the litmus test he established in 2013 when he unveiled his second-term climate change agenda with plenty of pomp. Wiping sweat from his brow under the summer sun at Georgetown University, Obama said he’d block the pipeline if it would “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

    It wouldn’t, Obama’s administration concluded, but he nixed it anyway. Casting forward to global climate talks, Obama suggested he’d have less credibility if he approved Keystone – not because it would hasten climate change, but because that’s what people think. In documents, his administration cited the “broad perception” that Keystone would carry “dirty” oil.

    “America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change,” Obama said in the Roosevelt Room. “And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership.”

    Yet Obama’s ambitious steps to curb U.S. emissions have been tempered by other moves aimed at bolstering U.S. energy production – to the dismay of environmentalists who believe the U.S. must move quicker to phase out fossil fuels entirely. In addition to loosening the U.S. ban on crude oil exports, Obama has opened up new areas to oil drilling and declined to ban the use of “fracking” to drill for natural gas.

    The post Obama tries to lockdown climate legacy with Keystone rejection appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A girl cries during a funeral service for Nina Lushchenko, 60, a victim of the Russian MetroJet Airbus A321 crash, at a church in Veliky Novgorod on November 5, 2015 ahead of her burial. Russian airline Kogalymavia's flight 9268 crashed en route from Sharm el-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg on October 31, killing all 224 people on board, the vast majority of them Russian tourists. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA        (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)

    A girl cries during a funeral service for Nina Lushchenko, 60, a victim of the Russian MetroJet Airbus A321 crash, at a church in Veliky Novgorod on Nov. 5, 2015. The head of Egypt’s investigation into the crash said Saturday the the cockpit recording registered a noise in its last second. Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP Photo via Getty Images

    The head of Egypt’s investigation into last week’s Russian airliner crash in the Sinai Peninsula said Saturday the cockpit recording registered a noise in its last second.

    “All scenarios are being considered,” Ayman el-Muqadem said at a news conference in Cairo. “It could be lithium batteries in the luggage of one of the passengers, it could be an explosion in the fuel tank.”

    El-Muqadem told reporters the recording is being sent to a lab for further analysis and cautioned it is too soon to draw conclusions.

    The chartered Airbus 321 jet from the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheik crashed 23 minutes after takeoff, killing all 224 people on board.

    Most of the 217 passengers — and all seven crew members — were Russians, with the exceptions of three Ukrainian citizens and one passenger from Belarus.

    Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said Saturday the U.S. and U.K. intelligence agencies have not shared with Egypt their information about a flash of light that might point to an explosion bringing down the plane.

    Meanwhile, aviation officials in France said they are ruling out any “technical failure.”

    Russia has suspended all commercial flights to Egypt over airport security concerns but is sending 90 planes this weekend to pick up stranded Russian tourists.

    The post ‘Noise’ heard in last moment of recording from downed Russian plane appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 2.50.32 PM

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    MEGAN THOMPSON: Police officer Christopher Ross patrols a precinct on the south side of Memphis …an area with a very high rate of crime.  Ross sees a lot of violence, drug use and prostitution.  But those aren’t the only types of calls that Ross responds to.

    CHRISTOPHER ROSS: The mom’s involved with her son and he’s diagnosed with adhd, and mood disorder, and she said she’s been taking his meds, but he’s being unruly, so we are going to go see what we can do to help.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Ross is part of the Memphis police department’s “Crisis Intervention Team” or CIT.

    CHRISTOPHER ROSS: What’s going on?

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Officers specially trained to handle people with mental illness.  Here, Ross finds a teenage boy in crisis. His mom says he’s being bullied at school.

    CHRISTOPHER ROSS: So everybody at the school knows that you are smart, that you’ve got something going for yourself, and what they are trying to do is stop you from being all that you can be.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Ross is trained to de-escalate situations using mostly verbal techniques…to keep both officers and citizens safe… and keep people with mental health issues out of jail.

    CHRISTOPHER ROSS: As a matter of fact i’m going to give you my number so when you have a problem call me. Okay? If you’re feeling sad, if you’re feeling depressed, call me. And you can tell me whatever you want to tell me. I don’t care what it is.  Handshake on that.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: After 20 minutes, the teen is calm and agrees to go back inside.  Memphis started its CIT program 27 years ago, after the police shot and killed a man with mental illness who charged at them with a knife.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: The City formed a task force including the police and the national alliance on mental illness.  At the time, university of Memphis psychiatry professor randy dupont was directing the City’s main psychiatric emergency service.  He helped develop the CIT program.

    RANDOLPH DUPONT: In an event that’s going to escalate and become a crisis, it’s going to be those first few minutes that are pretty critical. So, what they thought about, when they came up with this concept, was why don’t we take some of that expertise, let’s identify those officers that want to do this — that could be good at it. Give them the best training we can find, and then let’s look and see what kind of differences that makes.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: That training starts with changing officers attitudes and perceptions.  Dupont says, people in crisis often act out of fear and may not understand what’s happening around them.  An untrained officer could interpret such behavior as defiance, or “non-compliance.”

    RANDOLPH DUPONT: Officers are often trained in the academy to see non-compliance and re- and respond with greater use of force. That’s part of their training. But in CIT, what we’re trying to say to the officers is, “let’s analyze the non-compliance. Let’s look strategically at it.” So, we’re looking for that different interpretation of behavior.

    VINCENT BEASLEY: First of all, we have a talk about having compassion.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Major Vincent Beasley is in charge of the Memphis CIT program. He patrolled the streets as a CIT officer for 8 years.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Are all officers cut out to do this kind of work?

    VINCENT BEASLEY: I don’t think so. I really think it takes a special person to do that. Not everybody’s cut out for that. Because you have to have patience. And you- and you have to really care about people. And you have to understand that it’s not the individual himself.  It’s something that’s going on. It’s something, you know, in his brain that’s not working properly. It’s a chemical imbalance.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: CIT is having a measurable impact. Major Beasley says of the 14,000 911 calls last year that CIT officers responded to, only 19 encounters resulted in injuries to a person with mental illness.  And the vast majority ended without a person being detained.  Around 4 thousand were taken to mental treatment facilities.  And only about 600 were taken to jail.

    VINCENT BEASLEY: So, we’re not taking nearly as many people to penal facilities that are- that are suffering from mental illnesses. Because we realize they don’t need to be there in most cases.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Those with mental illness who do get arrested wind up here, at the Shelby County jail, where there is special wing – with 46 cells for people with mental illness.  Hundreds more inmates on psychiatric medication are housed in the jail’s general population, where many are also offered psychiatric treatment and group therapy for things like addiction and anger management.

    RANDOLPH DUPONT: What else would you all do when he throws up this, ‘how are you going to help me?’

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Joining the police department’s Crisis Intervention Team is voluntary, and officers and dispatchers must attend 40 hours of training. There are three days of intensive role-playing…based on real situations officers have faced in the field.

    OFFICER 1: I see that you’re very upset.  And I want to help you.

    OFFICER 2: Nobody cares about me.  And with me out of a job, man, there’s nothing for me to be here for.

    OFFICER 3:  I want to say to say from the standpoint, like you said, dealing with being handled by CIT.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: The trainees – dressed here in plain clothes – also spend a day meeting people with mental illness … to learn about what it’s like to live with their conditions … and about their experiences with the police.

    PERSON 1:  The sheriff’s department came to my house and kicked the door in.

    PERSON 2: He told me to shut my frickin’ mouth.

    CHRISTOPHER ROSS: Could you have a paramedic make the scene over here?

    MEGAN THOMPSON: today There are 274 active CIT officers like Chris Ross, on the Memphis force of almost 2100, or about one of every eight officers.  The CIT program is operated within the department’s existing budgets.  Officers wear these pins to identify themselves.  Ross, who’s been CIT for three years, never answers a call without back-up.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: When he is flagged down by a man who says he’s a vietnam veteran and has bipolar disorder, Ross pulls over to talk.  He uses simple strategies: introducing himself and being calm.

    CHRISTOPHER ROSS: I’m fficer Ross.  But call me Chris, ok?

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Ross says a huge part of his job is simply listening and keeping tabs on people he knows might need help. Here he checks up on a man he’s gotten to know.

    CHRISTOPHER ROSS: Third Eye, you in there?

    MEGAN THOMPSON: He lives in an abandoned motel.

    CHRISTOPHER ROSS: Are you asleep? Come out here and talk to me. I just want to make sure you’re doing alright. Make sure everything is going good.

    MAN: I got all-seeing eyes.  I’m a power ranger and a super hero.  You’re really on my side.

    CHRISTOPHER ROSS: I’m on your side.

    CHRISTOPHER ROSS: You always try to get them comfortable and let them know I’m here to help. And whatever they say, you listen to it. You repeat it to them so they’ll know that you’re listening to them.  And eventually, you’ll establish that relationship, and they’ll feel more or less like you’re there to help them, versus trying to lock them up.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: If Memphis police determine people might pose a danger to themselves or others, an officer can take them to the crisis assessment center for evaluation and medication.  Many of the services here are free.  It’s inside the Memphis Mental Health Institute, so if they need long-term, in-patient care, patients don’t have to go far.  After they leave, there’s also a new out-patient program for continuing psychiatric care.  Officials say it’s reduced the number of repeat visits to both the crisis center and the institute.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Mark Havener has been a patient at the Memphis mental health institute. He has bipolar disorder and began having psychotic episodes 17 years ago…locking himself in a closet for hours at a time and attempting to kill himself.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Do you have any idea how many times you’ve tried to end your life?

    MARK HAVENER: Lost count at about 25.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Twenty-five?

    MARK HAVENER: And I lost count of my hospitalizations at about…I got tired of counting at 25.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: During one psychotic episode in 2002, Havener started to strangle his wife.

    MARK HAVENER: I grabbed her by the throat. And I got up and I shoved her up against the inside of the front door of the house.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: After he let her go, she called 9-1-1 and CIT officers responded.

    MARK HAVENER: By this time, I’m pretty much non-verbal. I can’t express what’s going on, because it’s a hurricane inside of me. Maelstrom. They don’t even handcuff me because they- they see what kind of condition i’m in. Treating me as a human being in crisis and not a potential perpetrator.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Havener was hospitalized and never faced criminal charges. He got treatment and today, he is stable, has reconciled with his wife, and works as a counselor to others with mental illness.  He’s also become an advocate, sharing his story with the new CIT trainees.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: the strategies developed in Memphis are now called the “Memphis model” – and have now been adopted by almost 3000 of the nation’s 18,000 law enforcement agencies. Studies have shown that CIT-trained officers are less likely to arrest people with mental illness than non-trained officers.  And for Chris Ross, that’s one of the things he likes most about this job. The potential to help people … rather than put them in jail.

    CHRISTOPHER ROSS: And that’s something that I can remember that will keep me going to when sometimes things get rough on the streets. That’s why I work, that’s why do it. Because if we get to the point where we’re making a difference, we won’t have to lock so many people up.

    The post How Memphis has changed the way police respond to mental health crises appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s plan outlining the long-stalled effort to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, expected in the coming week, includes details suggesting that the Centennial Correctional Facility in Colorado is one suitable site to send detainees whom officials believe should never be released, administration officials said.

    The plan represents a last-gasp effort by the Obama administration to convince staunch opponents in Congress that dangerous detainees who can’t be transferred safely to other countries should be housed in a U.S.-based prison.

    According to administration officials, the plan makes no recommendations on which of seven U.S. sites is preferred and provides no rankings. But it lists the prison sites in Colorado, South Carolina and Kansas that a Pentagon assessment team reviewed in recent months and mentions advantages and disadvantages for the facilities. Those elements can include the facilities’ locations, costs for renovations and construction, the ability to house troops and hold military commission hearings, and health care facilities.

    The Centennial facility has advantages that could outweigh the disadvantages there, according to officials, but no details were available and no conclusions have been reached. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

    Any decision to select a U.S. facility would require congressional approval – something U.S. lawmakers say is unlikely. At the same time, dangerous prisoners are not new to Colorado. The Supermax in Florence, Colorado, which has been dubbed “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” already holds convicted terrorists, including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the conspirators of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

    The Pentagon plan also lays out the broader effort to reduce the detainee population at Guantanamo, through transfers to other countries. The center now holds 112 detainees, and 53 are eligible for transfer. The rest are either facing trial by military commission or the government has determined that they are too dangerous to release but are not facing charges.

    In order to approve a transfer, Defense Secretary Ash Carter must conclude that the detainees will not return to terrorism or the battlefield upon release and that there is a host country willing to take them and guarantee they will secure them.

    As President Barack Obama heads into his final year in office, the effort is part of a push to keep his election promise to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But he is facing an uphill battle with Congress.

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has asked for an administration plan for the shutdown of Guantanamo. The Pentagon’s assessment team visits over the last few months were part of the effort to provide options for the relocation of Guantanamo detainees.

    “I’ve asked for six and a half years for this administration to come forward with a plan – a plan that we could implement in order to close Guantanamo. They have never come forward with one and it would have to be approved by Congress,” McCain said this week.

    The facilities reviewed by the assessment team were the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks and Midwest Joint Regional Corrections Facility at Leavenworth, Kansas; the Consolidated Naval Brig, Charleston, South Carolina; the Federal Correctional Complex, which includes the medium, maximum and supermax facilities in Florence, Colorado; and the Colorado State Penitentiary II in Canon City, Colorado, also known as the Centennial Correctional Facility.

    A Colorado senator made it clear this week that he opposes any move to relocate detainees to his state.

    “I will not sit idly by while the president uses political promises to imperil the people of Colorado by moving enemy combatants from Cuba, Guantanamo Bay, to my state of Colorado,” Republican Sen. Cory Gardner told a Capitol Hill news conference.

    Later, Gardner told The Associated Press that “the pressure that this would put on our judicial system in Colorado is real. The challenges that could be brought through the legal system we’re not prepared for. I think that’s another question on our federal judiciary in Denver. This is a rural area of Colorado. Would they be transported to downtown Denver to the federal courthouse for a hearing?”

    Even as the White House pitches this latest plan to skeptical lawmakers, officials have not ruled out the possibility that Obama will try to close the prison and move the remaining prisoners to the U.S. without congressional approval.

    “I would not take anything off the table in terms of the president doing everything that he can to achieve this critically important national security objective,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said this week, when asked whether Obama would act unilaterally. “And this is a pretty transparent case of the United States Congress putting narrow political interests ahead of national security.”

    The threat echoes Obama’s moves on immigration and gun control – both cases where he urged Congress to pass legislation and then used his executive authority when the bills failed.

    McCain and others have said that an executive order to shutter Guantanamo would face fierce opposition, including efforts to reverse the decision through funding mechanisms.

    The prison at Guantanamo presents a particularly confrontational replay of that strategy. Obama would likely have to argue that the restrictions imposed by Congress are unconstitutional, although he has abided by them for years. The dispute could set off a late-term legal battle with Republicans in Congress over executive power, potentially in the height of a presidential campaign.

    This report was written by Lolita C. Baldor and Kathleen Hennessey of the Associated Press.

    Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.

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    A combination photo of Marksville City Police Marshals Norris Greenhouse (L) and Derrick Stafford are shown in these booking photos provided by Louisiana State Police in New Orleans, Louisiana, November 7, 2015.   Photo by Louisiana State Police/Handout via Reuters

    A combination photo of Marksville City Police Marshals Norris Greenhouse (L) and Derrick Stafford are shown in these booking photos provided by Louisiana State Police in New Orleans, Louisiana, November 7, 2015. Photo by Louisiana State Police/Handout via Reuters

    Two Louisiana police officers are in custody and charged with second-degree murder, following the fatal shooting of a six-year-old boy on Tuesday.

    Officer Norris Greenhouse and Lt. Derrick Stafford were charged with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder in the death of Jeremy Mardis.

    Mardis was in the car, when his father Chris Few was being pursued by police in the small city of Marksville, local media reported. He was buckled into the passenger seat of the vehicle and died in the crossfire.

    Greenhouse and Stafford, both serving as Marksville City Marshals at the time, were trying to arrest Few when a car chase ensued, ending in the death of Mardis.

    The event was captured on the body cameras the two officers were wearing.

    Louisiana state police superintendent Mike Edmonson told the press that the footage was “the most disturbing thing I’ve seen.”

    The post Louisiana officers charged in shooting death of child following police chase appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GettyImages-588703263

    A billboard in Freetown, Sierra Leone, reads ‘Ebola, Survivors are our Heroes & Heroines. Stop The Stigma !!!’ Photo by Michael Duff/Getty Images

    Sierra Leone is now officially free of Ebola.

    Following 42 days with no new cases, thousands of residents gathered in the West African nation on Saturday, as the World Health Organization declared an end to the outbreak that killed at least 3,589 people and more than 221 health workers since it began last year.

    “The world had never faced an Ebola outbreak of this scale and magnitude and the world has neither seen a nation mobilizing its people and resources as Sierra Leone did,” Dr. Anders Nordström, the WHO Representative in Sierra Leone, said on Saturday. “The power of the people of Sierra Leone is the reason why we could put an end to this outbreak today.”

    Overnight, thousands of people gathered at the center of Freetown for a candlelit vigil to pay tribute to health workers who died during the epidemic, and elsewhere in the capital city, ecstatic crowds took to the streets in an outpouring of emotion.

    “We’re happy. I feel free again after a period of bondage in the hands of Ebola,” trader Joseph Katta told Reuters.

    The event was also attended by President Ernest Bai Koroma, who told the BBC that it marked the end of a “difficult and turbulent journey.”

    “It’s a moment of great celebration for our people, a feeling of achievement, a feeling of getting out of the thick woods that we found ourselves [in],” he said.

    “We now have a unique opportunity to support Sierra Leone to build a strong and resilient public health system ready to detect and respond to the next outbreak of disease or any other public health threat,” Nordstrom said at the ceremony.

    Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Karoma speaks during a news conference about the ongoing fight against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa on April 17, 2015 in Washington, DC. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

    Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Karoma speaks at a news conference about the West Africa Ebola outbreak on April 17, 2015 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

    Elsewhere in West Africa, health officials in Guinea are still treating new cases, where at least 2,536 people have died from the virus.

    According to the WHO, 42 days is twice the virus’s maximum incubation period, the interval beginning when a person is first infected and ending when he or she begins displaying symptoms.

    However, some evidence has emerged since epidemic’s start that suggests that the virus may persist longer than 42 days.

    The WHO has said that Ebola can survive in the semen of male survivors months after they stop displaying symptoms, and even after the virus is no longer present in their blood. Although it is not proven, the organization says it is likely that Ebola can be transmitted through the semen of otherwise cured men.

    “WHO will maintain an enhanced staff presence in Sierra Leone as the response transitions from outbreak control, to support enhanced vigilance and to the recovery of essential health services,” the statement said.

    As of Nov. 1, more than 11,000 people in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria are thought to have died from the deadliest occurrence of Ebola since the virus was discovered in 1976, according to the WHO.

    The post WHO: Sierra Leone is free of Ebola appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson talks to reporters after speaking at the "Women Betrayed Rally to Defund Planned Parenthood" at Capitol Hill in Washington July 28, 2015.  REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTX1M68E

    Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson talks to reporters after speaking at the “Women Betrayed Rally to Defund Planned Parenthood” at Capitol Hill in Washington July 28, 2015. As he finishes a triumphant, monthlong book tour, Carson finds his persona threatened by a series of inquiries that cast doubt on the veracity of his biography. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Ben Carson rose to top the Republican ranks of White House hopefuls as the wise outsider – a candidate without any experience in office, but one who offers a compelling personal narrative, speaks openly of his deep Christian faith and issues calm-but-tough indictments of the nation’s leaders.

    Now, just as he finishes a triumphant, monthlong book tour, Carson finds that persona threatened by a series of inquiries that cast doubt on the veracity of his biography.

    While Carson may be an unorthodox candidate running an unorthodox campaign, scrutiny of his past is par for the course for would-be presidents. But in a race in which an angry electorate has scrambled the established order in the Republican Party, the retired neurosurgeon predicts what he calls a “witch hunt” will only help him with voters.

    “There’s got to be a scandal. There’s got (to be) some nurse he’s had an affair with,” a defiant Carson said Friday night of the hopes of those looking into his past. “They are getting desperate. Next week, it will be my kindergarten teacher who said I peed in my pants. It’s ridiculous.”

    Carson has every reason to expect that what for almost any other candidate would be considered negative attention will help him. While he’s long used extreme examples to make his case, including repeated references to such third-rails as Nazi Germany and slavery, he’s emerged as one of the GOP field’s best fundraisers and sits atop numerous preference polls.

    “We’ve obviously had a variety of controversial statements,” admitted Doug Watts, Carson’s campaign spokesman. “Sometimes you just flip a coin as to how people will react to them.”

    That is the obvious question to the latest development in Carson’s rise – a whirlwind week in which one new question about Carson’s background was followed by another.

    CNN reported it could not find friends or confidants to corroborate his story, told as part of his widely read autobiography, “Gifted Hands,” of unsuccessfully stabbing a close friend when he was a teenager. A story published by Politico examined his claim of having received a scholarship offer to attend the U.S. Military Academy. The Wall Street Journal said it could not confirm Carson anecdotes from his high school and college years.

    There are others. Last month, police in Baltimore said they didn’t have enough information to verify Carson’s account of being held at gunpoint at a fast-food restaurant in the city. In the third GOP debate, Carson said it was “absolutely absurd” to say he had a formal relationship with the company Mannatech. He is featured in the company’s videos, including one from last year in which he credits the firm’s supplements with helping people restore a healthy diet.

    Carson and his campaign forcefully reject any suggestion he has been less than completely truthful. Indeed, Friday’s news conference may have been the first instance of the 2016 campaign in which the notably even-tempered Carson showed open signs of anger.

    During a combative 20 minutes, Carson said the media hadn’t subjected President Barack Obama to the same level of scrutiny he now faces and demanded the reporters present explain why. He said he would think about revealing the name of the person he has said he tried to stab, but only if reporters would sign an affidavit promising to “sing my praises” for doing so.

    “Will you do that? Yes?” Carson asked. “My job is to call you out when you’re unfair, and I’m going to continue to do that.”

    Carson’s advisers say they are determined to keep their attention focused on the campaign as he shifts from his recent book tour – an ostensibly noncampaign exercise paid for mostly by his publisher – to more traditional voter outreach in Iowa and other early voting states.

    The campaign has attracted more than 4.5 million followers on Facebook, with separate social media efforts by volunteers bringing together smaller groups of supporters for everything from canvassing to prayer groups. The campaign has paid staff in six states, with 32 total workers in the field. Watts says the campaign is on track to qualify for the ballot in all 50 states and six other jurisdictions with delegates.

    Yet the power of Carson’s personal story is at the center of his success. A super PAC initially called “Run, Ben, Run” formed months before he announced his campaign, has distributed copies of his books in early voting states.

    “I can’t tell you how many activists have come up to me and said, ‘I read Dr. Carson’s book,'” said former Iowa Republican Party chairman Matt Strawn. The effect, Strawn said, is that Iowa caucus voters, particularly evangelical Christians, “feel they know who Ben Carson is as a man.”

    Carson’s book tour included several stops at churches, and Watts argued that the recent focus on Carson could strengthen his connection with the evangelical voters who form the base of his support.

    “People aren’t looking at the statements themselves,” he said of Carson’s back-and-forth with the media. “What they’re hearing is a prejudicial tone against overt faith.”

    As for what’s next, Watts said Carson plans in the coming weeks to roll out comprehensive policy proposals on health care, education, fiscal policy, energy and foreign affairs.

    “We came into the campaign consciously looking for a different way to run out of necessity, and because we had a candidate who did not want to run as a politician,” Watts said. “We have a lot of the normal and customary components where we think they are important, and that’s what we’re going to keep doing.”

    This report was written by Bill Barrow and Sergio Bustos of the Associated Press.

    The post Carson’s front-runner status brings added scrutiny appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Interchange between San Francisco International Airport, and Bayshore Freeway (US 101), San Francisco, California, USA

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Federal funding for the nation’s roads, bridges and mass transit is one step closer after the House of Representatives passed a $325 billion transportation bill this week.

    That sounds like a lot of money, but the Obama administration requested $478 billion to fix the nation’s infrastructure.

    The bill, which now goes back to the Senate, approved six years of projects but funding for only three years.

    One of the underlying issues is that Congress won’t raise the gas tax that funds transportation projects. It’s been stuck at 18 cents a gallon since 1993.

    Joining me now from Washington to discuss all this is Bart Jansen, the transportation reporter for USA Today.

    So, Bart, it’s kind of classic math that only seems to work in Congress where you can approve maybe a project for six years and only fund it for three.

    BART JANSEN, USA TODAY: Well, it is an accomplishment that they’ve got a six-year bill that they hope to reconcile and get completed, get sent to the president’s desk by Thanksgiving.

    The last time we had a six-year bill was 1998. The four-year bill that expired in 2009, there have been 35 short-term extensions since then.

    So, everybody’s pleased to get a six-year set of policies so that state and local officials can plan road building, bridge building better.

    But now, the hard part comes — how do you find the funding to support $325 or $342 billion worth of construction goals.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Where have they found the funding so far? What sort of nips and cuts of what has been cost to try to make this possible?

    BART JANSEN: So far, there are three major pots of money to add to the amount they raise from the gas tax.

    They would take 17 — the Senate version would take $17 billion from dividends that the Federal Reserve pays to banks for investing in the Federal Reserve.

    There’s also $9 billion from a sell-off of a portion of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And there’s $9 billion in basically travel fees paid to Customs and to the Transportation Security Administration.

    Those amounts are combining to basically bolster the gas tax.

    The problem is that the federal government spends somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 billion on these highway projects, but only collects about $34 billion in the gas tax.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What are the infrastructure needs right now? Why is this spending even necessary?

    BART JANSEN: Well, one of the reasons lawmakers are joined in agreeing that spending needs to go up is because everybody can see potholes in the road or troubles with their subways.

    One of the most prominent examples was in 2007, the Interstate 35 Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, killing 13 people.

    In Washington here, our subway system has routine fires and a woman died from the smoke of a fire in January in one of the subway tunnels.

    So, it’s a problem that lawmakers are aware of in both parties.

    And so, the Federal Highway Administration has said as they debate whether to spend about $50 billion a year, the Federal Highway Administration says it would take $65 billion to $83 billion a year just to maintain current standards.

    The Federal Transit Administration says that there is a $76 billion backlog in construction projects for transit projects nationwide.

    And the highway folks at the state level, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials, estimate there is a $700 billion backlog in highway projects to meet capacity, congestion, and also bridges.

    So, the size of the problem is agreed upon. The problem is how to pay to fix those problems.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Bart Jansen from USA Today, joining us from Washington, thanks so much.

    BART JANSEN: Thank you.

    The post House approves $325 billion transportation bill, but where will funding come from? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    NEW YORK — Donald Trump hadn’t gotten far into his opening monologue before trouble occurred. An off-screen heckler interrupted with a cry of “You’re a racist!”

    But the “heckler” was comedian Larry David, who before Trump arrived on-stage had been seen impersonating Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.

    “Larry, what are you doing?” Trump asked with a trace of exasperation.

    “I heard if I yelled that, they’d give me $5,000,” said David with a shrug, echoing an offer made publicly by one of the Hispanic groups protesting Trump’s appearance.

    “As a businessman,” Trump told him, “I can fully respect that.”

    Trump’s 90 minutes in the “SNL” spotlight followed weeks of growing anticipation, increasingly sharp criticism and mounting calls for him to be dropped from the show. But the Republican presidential candidate hosted Saturday’s “SNL” as scheduled. And, at least in NBC’s Studio 8H, there was no more unrest – orchestrated or otherwise.

    During his monologue, Trump promised his hosting appearance would be “something special,” while noting that many people had asked him why he accepted the gig. He said they had told him, “You’re brilliant, you’re handsome, you’re rich. The world is waiting for you to be president. Why?”

    His answer: “I had nothing better to do.”

    “But part of the reason I’m here,” he added, “is to show I can take a joke.”

    In one sketch, Trump was willing to mock his penchant for tweeting insults about people with whom he differs.

    “I hate to break it to you guys,” he told viewers, “but I’m not going to be in the next sketch.” Instead, off-camera, he live-tweeted comments that were flashed on the screen about “SNL” cast members performing a skit:

    “Cecily Strong is not a nice person.”

    “Kate McKinnon was born stupid.”

    “I love SNL … SNL loves me. But everyone in this sketch is a total loser who can bite my dust.”

    Another sketch imagined Trump in the Oval Office in 2018 – two years into his presidency – savoring his many successes.

    By then, Syria is at peace. China is borrowing money from the U.S. Trump’s real-life daughter, Ivanka, is the administration’s secretary of the interior, and announces the Washington Monument will be covered with gold.

    Did it all sound too good to be possible?

    “If you think that’s how it’s going to be when I’m president, you’re wrong. It’s going to be even better,” Trump said, addressing the audience. “I said to the writers of this sketch, ‘Keep it modest.'” His preference, he insisted, was to keep expectations low for his presidency and not overpromise.

    Until Saturday, just eight politicians had served as guest hosts in the NBC sketch comedy series’ 40 years. Only one of those – the Rev. Al Sharpton, in 2003 – was actively involved in a presidential bid at the time. (Hillary Clinton appeared in last month’s season premiere, but not as the host.)

    The star turn granted Trump fanned the flames of outrage sparked in June when he announced his Republican candidacy for president and described some Mexicans who are in the United States illegally as criminals and rapists.

    Hours before the show’s 11:30 p.m. EST Saturday start time, dozens of protesters marched from Trump Tower to NBC’s studio in Rockefeller Plaza, chanting in both English and Spanish and carrying signs. In Spanish, they chanted: “The people united shall never be defeated” and signs declared SNL racist.

    “I feel like they’re giving him a platform,” said Hazel Hernandez, 26, who emigrated from El Salvador and now lives in Brooklyn. “I’m an immigrant myself, so I’m pretty outraged. I’ve been in this country for many years, and I’m outraged that they would let him host SNL. It’s upsetting.”

    Trump’s comments last summer spurred NBC to sever its Miss Universe ties with him while declaring he would never return to his “Apprentice” role. But leading up to Saturday’s broadcast, NBC did not respond to accusations that it had reversed itself, or to the outcry against Trump that had built since “SNL” announced his host booking last month.

    Typically outspoken, Trump welcomed the controversy, predicting it would only boost his audience.

    It wasn’t Trump’s first turn as guest host. The billionaire developer and media personality presided in April 2004, a few weeks after he debuted as host of NBC’s “The Apprentice.”

    This time, while Trump demonstrated once again that he could take a joke, he was running for president. The sketches – both with and without him – seldom let the audience forget it.

    The post ‘You’re a racist!': Watch Trump fend off mock heckler Larry David on ‘SNL’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — In the fight against the Islamic State group, members of Congress talk tough against extremism, but many want to run for cover when it comes to voting on new war powers to fight the militants, preferring to let the president own the battle.

    They might not be able to run for long.

    The U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Syria is creeping forward, putting more pressure on Congress to vote on a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force. It would be the first war vote in Congress in 13 years.

    Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., a leading force in the Senate for a new authorization, said the reluctance to vote runs deep and that many in Congress prefer to criticize President Barack Obama’s policy in Iraq and Syria without either authorizing or stopping the fight.

    “There is sort of this belief that if we do not vote, we cannot be held politically accountable. We can just blame the president,” Kaine said.

    “We are forcing people to be deployed far from home in a theater of war, and risking their lives and losing their lives and members of Congress are like ‘I’m afraid of this vote because somebody might try to hold me accountable for it.'”

    The vote in 2002 to authorize the invasion of Iraq was politically perilous for many lawmakers – and is shadowing 2016 presidential candidates today.

    “I know lawmakers who still go over to Arlington Cemetery – to the gravesites of folks killed in the Iraq War and wonder ‘Why did I vote for this?'” Kaine said.

    Fellow Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut agreed, saying crafting a plan to fight IS isn’t easy. “It’s very convenient for Congress just to force the president to do it and blame him if it fails,” Murphy said. “If we pass an AUMF, then we own the strategy.”

    To fight IS, Obama has relied on congressional authorizations given to President George W. Bush for the war on al-Qaida and the invasion of Iraq. Critics say the White House’s use of post-9/11 congressional authorizations is a legal stretch at best. And they note that the battle has grown exponentially.

    Since August 2014, the U.S.-led coalition has conducted nearly 8,000 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. There are 3,400 U.S. military personnel currently deployed to Iraq. More than $4.7 billion has been spent so far in fighting IS. The exodus of refugees from Syria has intensified and Russia has entered the conflict.

    “I think we are seeing an example of mission creep right now,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., who signed the letter calling for a new AUMF. “I think we should go ahead. We are gradually ceding over our war-making authority to the president. Big mistake. No matter which side you are on, you ought to want Congress to do this. And you ought to be able to hold your member accountable for how they ultimately vote.”

    After President Barack Obama announced late last month that he was deploying some 50 Special Operations forces to northern Syria, lawmakers released a flurry of statements urging passage of new war powers legislation.

    On Friday, a bipartisan group of 35 House members called on new Speaker Paul Ryan to schedule and debate on a war authorization as quickly as possible in light of the United States’ “deepening entanglement in Syria and Iraq.”

    Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has asked the Obama administration to brief committee members as early as next week on the legal justifications for recent deployments to Syria and elsewhere.

    Generally, conservatives want Congress to approve broad authorities for the president to fight IS militants with no limits on ground troops. They say banning U.S. combat troops or restricting the fight to just Iraq and Syria only emboldens the militants, who would seek safe haven elsewhere. Other lawmakers want to give the president authority to train and equip local forces and conduct airstrikes but not launch a combat mission on the ground.

    In February, the administration proposed a three-year authorization to fight IS, unrestricted by national borders. The fight could be extended to any “closely related successor entity” to the IS extremists, but the measure did not authorize large-scale ground operations.

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said Obama’s proposal was “nonsense” because the White House knew it would get no real support on Capitol Hill. “He just throws something over the transom and says ‘Hey, good luck guys.’ He’s not serious.”

    After Obama sent over his draft of a new AUMF, 30 members of the House asked former Speaker John Boehner to bring it up for debate and a vote. Instead, Boehner suggested the president rip it up and start over.

    “Congress only has itself to blame,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. “The administration offered a draft that Congress didn’t like, but Congress can amend it.”

    The post Congress dodging war powers despite U.S. mission in Syria appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks during the Freedom Summit in Greenville, South Carolina May 9, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Keane - RTX1CA2G

    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks during the Freedom Summit in Greenville, South Carolina May 9, 2015. Carson said Sunday that he’s facing an unprecedented level of scrutiny. Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said Sunday that he’s facing an unprecedented level of scrutiny about the veracity of his life story and questioned whether the issues dogging him over his autobiography are important to the nation’s search for the next president.

    “Every single day, every other day or every week, you know, they’re going to come out with, ‘Well, you said this when you were 13,'” the retired neurosurgeon said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

    “The whole point is to distract the populous, to distract me,” Carson added. “If you’ve got a real scandal, if you’ve got something that’s really important, let’s talk about that.”

    Moving on, at least in the short term, is unlikely. The accuracy of Carson’s autobiography has dominated his campaign in the past few days, and there are likely to be more questions asked on Tuesday during the next GOP presidential debate. The scrutiny reflects Carson’s transformation from political outsider to the top of the polls in the unsettled nomination fight, second only to billionaire developer Donald Trump. And in early voting Iowa, some polls show Carson’s leading.

    Trump on Sunday tried to keep the allegations alive.

    On several news shows, he repeated examples from Carson’s autobiography, “Gifted Hands,” including Carson’s claim that he hit his mother and unsuccessfully tried to stab someone. Several times, Trump quoted Carson as describing his younger self as having a “pathological” temper – and then demurred on his own opinion of Carson’s character and veracity.

    “I just don’t know. I mean, I’m not involved. I don’t really know,” Trump said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    Carson insists no other candidate has received the level of scrutiny that he has. Asked on NBC whether he is getting more than President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, Carson replied: “Not like this. Not even close.”

    Scrutiny of his past is par for any major candidate for president, not only Carson. Obama’s citizenship was questioned and he later released a birth certificate showing that he was born in Hawaii. Clinton’s marital dalliances were probed during his 1992 campaign. The Miami Herald staked out then-Sen. Gary Hart’s townhouse in 1987 and caught him in an extramarital affair. Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, last month testified about the private email server she kept at her house and used for government business while she was secretary of state.

    Carson is a newcomer to presidential politics, so much about his life, career and published works are being raked over for the first time, and his longtime status as an American success story examined. Carson strongly disputed that there was any dishonesty intended.

    Gone Sunday was the anger he showed during a press conference on Friday, when the usually even-tempered Carson demanded that reporters explain why, in his opinion, Obama had not been subjected to the same scrutiny. “My job is to call you out when you’re unfair, and I’m going to continue to do that,” he said.

    “Gifted Hands” is central to much of the scrutiny. It tells the story of Carson’s rise from a childhood in inner city Detroit to the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

    In it, he tells of trying to stab a close friend when he was a teenager. CNN reported it could not find friends or confidants to corroborate that story.

    Politico published a piece examining Carson’s claim of receiving a scholarship offer to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The Wall Street Journal said it could not confirm Carson anecdotes from his high school and college years. The academy does not offer scholarships, instead extending all expenses paid to students it admits. Carson never applied for admission.

    Last month, police in Baltimore said they didn’t have enough information to verify Carson’s account of being held at gunpoint more than 30 years ago at a fast-food restaurant in the city.

    In the third GOP debate, Carson said it was “absolutely absurd” to say he had a formal relationship with the company Mannatech. He is featured in the company’s videos, including one from last year in which he credits the firm’s supplements with helping people restore a healthy diet.

    Carson and his campaign forcefully reject any suggestion he has been less than completely truthful.

    The post Carson: Questions about my story’s veracity are irrelevant appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The acoustic guitar that Beatles legend John Lennon is thought to used to record “Love Me Do” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, sold at auction on Saturday in California for a record $2.41 million.

    The 1962 J-160E Gibson had been lost for more than 50 years until a San Diego musician discovered the guitar in his possession may have historical value. The man, identified as John McCaw, bought it in the late 1960s for $275 without knowing that it had been stolen from Lennon several years earlier, auctioneer, Darren Julien said.

    “John so loved this particular guitar that he would take it home and write songs on it with Paul McCartney,” the auction house said in a statement.

    Elvis Presley’s 24K Gold Leaf Piano. Photo courtesy of Julien's Auctions.

    Elvis Presley’s 24K Gold Leaf Piano. Photo courtesy of Julien’s Auctions.

    “No other guitar ever offered at auction can compare to the history this guitar has with The Beatles’ John Lennon. It can be seen in the November 22, 1963 videos of ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ and ‘This Boy.'”

    Beatles’ instruments expert Andy Babiuk determined the guitar’s authenticity by matching its serial number, wood grain and other unique markings to the one Lennon used by comparing it to photographs and film footage of Lennon playing it.

    The sale was part of Julien’s Auctions’s Icons & Idols: Rock n’ Roll 2015 auction, which also featured a Beatles drum head ($2,125,000), Elvis Presley’s 24K Gold Leaf Piano ($600,000), and Kurt Cobain’s cardigan from his appearance on “MTV Unplugged,” which sold for $137,500.

    The post John Lennon’s stolen guitar fetches record $2.4 million at auction appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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