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

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    Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard (center), who was released from a U.S. federal prison in North Carolina overnight, leaves U.S. District court with his wife Elaine Zeitz (second from right) in the Manhattan borough of New York on Nov. 20. Pollard was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in 1987 of passing classified information to Israel while he was working as a US Navy analyst. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard (center), who was released from a U.S. federal prison in North Carolina overnight, leaves U.S. District court with his wife Elaine Zeitz (second from right) in the Manhattan borough of New York on Nov. 20. Pollard was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in 1987 of passing classified information to Israel while he was working as a US Navy analyst. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    NEW YORK — Jonathan Pollard was released from prison Friday after 30 years behind bars for spying for Israel, his case a persistent thorn in relations between the two allies. His lawyers began an immediate court challenge to parole conditions that would let the government track his movements and monitor his computer activity.

    The pre-dawn release from a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina, gave Pollard his long-sought freedom, but the legal and diplomatic wrangling that has defined the case continued.

    Within hours of his release, Pollard’s attorneys filed court papers in Manhattan — where Pollard and his wife, Esther, were seen checking in at a probation office — challenging “onerous and oppressive” parole conditions.

    Those include a requirement that he wear a GPS ankle bracelet and submit to inspections of his computer at his home or at his job, which his lawyers said will be in the finance department of a New York investment firm.

    In their petition, Pollard’s lawyers complained that wearing a GPS monitor would be harmful to his health because he has severe diabetes and suffers chronic swelling in his legs and ankles. They said the computer monitoring was unnecessary because he was no longer in possession of any useful classified information.

    Pollard’s supporters, who have long maintained that he was punished excessively for actions taken on behalf of an American ally, are pressing the Obama administration to permit him to move immediately to Israel despite parole requirements that he remain in the U.S for at least five years. The supporters include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Friday applauded Pollard’s freedom.

    “The people of Israel welcome the release of Jonathan Pollard,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “As someone who raised Jonathan’s case for years with successive American presidents, I had long hoped this day would come.”

    The White House renewed its longstanding opposition to the request that Pollard be allowed to leave the country. Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said Obama has no plans to alter the parole conditions.

    Pollard was given a life sentence in 1987 for providing large amounts of classified U.S. government information to Israel. He was granted parole this summer, effective on the 30th anniversary of his imprisonment.

    His was among the highest-profile spy sagas in modern American history, a case that became a diplomatic sticking point and divided supporters who praised him as aiding an ally and critics who called him a traitor to his country.

    “I don’t think there’s any doubt that the crime merited a life sentence, given the amount of damage that Mr. Pollard did to the United States government,” said Joseph diGenova, who prosecuted the case as U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. “I would have been perfectly pleased if he had spent the rest of his life in jail.”

    Seymour Reich, a former president of B’nai Brith International who visited Pollard twice in prison, said that while he believed Pollard broke the law and deserved to be punished, his sentence was overly harsh. Like other supporters, he believes Pollard was “double-crossed” into thinking he’d be afforded leniency in exchange for a guilty plea.

    Pollard, a former Navy intelligence analyst, was arrested Nov. 21, 1985, after trying unsuccessfully to gain asylum at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. He had earlier drawn the suspicion of a supervisor for handling large amounts of classified materials unrelated to his official duties.

    U.S. officials have said Pollard, over a series of months and for a salary, provided intelligence summaries and huge quantities of classified documents on the capabilities and programs of Israel’s enemies. He pleaded guilty in 1986 to conspiracy to commit espionage and was given a life sentence a year later.

    Israel initially claimed that Pollard was part of a rogue operation, but acknowledged him in the 1990s as an agent and granted him citizenship.

    Although he has said his guilty plea was coerced, he has also expressed regret for his actions, telling The Associated Press in a 1998 interview that he did not consider himself a hero.

    “There is nothing good that came as a result of my actions,” he said. “I tried to serve two countries at the same time. That does not work.”

    Last year, the U.S. dangled the prospect of freeing Pollard early as part of a package of incentives to keep Israel at the negotiating table during talks with the Palestinians. But the talks fell apart, and Pollard remained in prison.

    The decision to grant him parole came amid a public disagreement between the U.S. and Israel over a nuclear deal with Iran. But U.S. officials have said the decision to let Pollard out on parole had nothing to do with that deal and was not meant as a concession for Israel.

    ___

    Tucker reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Ian Deitch in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

    The post Convicted spy Pollard released from prison after 30 years appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The terrorist attacks in Paris and the international response dominated the news this week, while a series of suicide bombings also took place in another part of the world. Meanwhile, a spa in Tokyo had an interesting way of celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau Day on Nov. 19. Find out more in our 5-minute quiz.

    The post World news quiz: Paris is attacked and countries fight back appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo of President Barack Obama taken on Nov. 15. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    File photo of President Barack Obama taken on Nov. 15. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Regrouping from an embarrassing defeat in the House, the White House tried to change the subject away from its Syrian refugee program on Friday, instead calling for changes that could prohibit some people from bypassing the traditional visa system to enter the American homeland.

    A day after the House overwhelmingly backed onerous hurdles for Syrian refugees, White House officials said President Barack Obama’s intention to veto the bill hadn’t wavered, even though it passed with a veto-proof majority — including 47 members of his own party. Although the strong House vote could improve the bill’s prospects in the Senate, the White House insisted it was unlikely to arrive on the president’s desk.

    Instead, the White House said it wanted to work with Congress on potential tweaks to the visa waiver program, calling it a “fruitful area for possible bipartisan discussion.” Under the program, foreigners from 38 countries can enter the U.S. without visas for short stays.

    Press secretary Josh Earnest said talks were already underway with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, and Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican.

    “This is an area where additional screenings and reforms could be useful in enhancing the national security of the United States,” Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One as Obama flew to Malaysia.

    Feinstein and Flake hope to force anyone who has been in Iraq or Syria in the past five years to go through the traditional visa process, including an in-person interview, fingerprinting and tamper-proof passport security. Feinstein has said she plans to introduce the bill after Thanksgiving, calling the visa waiver program “the soft underbelly of our national security policies.”

    The White House wouldn’t say whether Obama supports her proposal in its current form or what other options were under consideration.

    Obama’s newfound focus on visa changes marked an effort to subdue momentum for the refugee bill following the White House’s failed lobbying effort in the House. Some Democrats briefed on the refugee screening process by Obama’s chief of staff and Homeland Security secretary emerged far from impressed, leading to Thursday’s 289-137 vote to undermine the president’s program.

    Obama has called for accepting roughly 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year. But that program has been plunged into uncertainty following the Paris attacks that killed 129 and stoked deep fears across the West about terrorism being exported from Syria, where the long-raging civil war has fueled the Islamic Stage group’s rise.

    Defenders of the House bill, including some Democrats, have described its changes as fairly modest: mandatory FBI background checks and individual sign-offs by top U.S. officials. But the White House has insisted it’s wholly unnecessary, arguing that Syrians intent on committing terrorism on U.S. soil are unlikely to subject themselves to a refugee process that involves rigorous security checks and takes two years on average to complete.

    Yet some top officials, including FBI Director James Comey, have warned of a shortage of information about many Syrians applying for refugee status. Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, conceded that was the case, but said Friday that the U.S. does have intelligence on the Syrians most likely to carry out violence.

    “A Syrian child is not going to have an intel record, but precisely for that reason, we believe that this is not the pool of individuals who are most likely to be ISIL operatives,” Rhodes said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group. “That’s not a reason not to allow them into the country.”

    The roiling debate about what to do with the flood of migrants fleeing Syria’s civil war has played out this week as Obama traveled from Turkey to the Philippines and Malaysia for a trio of global summits. Obama has rebuked Republican politicians and presidential candidates who have called for halting refugee entry or limiting it to Syrian Christians, but the White House has acknowledged that some governors and American citizens hold legitimate concerns.

    The post Rebuffed over refugees, Obama aims to shift focus to visas appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R) Governor John Kasich, former Governor Jeb Bush, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, businessman Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz,  former HP CEO Carly Fiorina and U.S. Rep. Rand Paul pose during a photo opportunity before the debate held by Fox Business Network for the top 2016 U.S. Republican presidential candidates in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, November 10, 2015.  REUTERS/Jim Young  - RTS6E80

    What questions should all presidential candidates know how to answer? Gwen Ifill weighs in. Photo by Reuters/Jim Young

    There is nothing like a genuine crisis to put a political election in context.

    I do not have the answers, but the shocking Paris attacks have certainly given voters a reasonable list of questions to ask the 17 presidential candidates still eligible to return to debate stages in December.

    As you begin to focus on who deserves your vote, this provides as good a guide as any to decide where candidates stand, and if you agree with them.

    Democratic U.S. presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. Photo by Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters

    Photo by Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters

    Any candidate should have a cogent response to these 10 questions. And if they don’t, you are the only one who gets to decide if that matters.

      1.What does “boots on the ground” mean to you?
      2.How vulnerable are we, and what should we do about it?
      3.How should we prioritize our resources? Please provide budget numbers.
      4. Iran, Russia and Syria: Do they have a place at the table as we battle terrorism? If not, what do you propose instead?
      5. Should religious tests be applied as a determinant of risk?
      6. Is the United Nations useful or useless at a time like this?
      7. How hard should our borders be? At what cost?
      8. What constitutes effective vetting for people seeking to enter the U.S.?
      9. Should the U.S. lead, collaborate or step away from conflicts rooted in the Middle East?
      10. Should we close Guantanamo and fully exit Afghanistan and Iraq?

    ​These are the types of questions that seldom get answered absent a time of crisis. Ordinarily, candidates would much rather talk about the economy, middle class values and domestic concerns.

    But this is no ordinary time. And 2016 will be no ordinary election. The lasting ripple effect from Paris will affect homeland security, but also will provide us an opportunity to see, clearly, what leadership really means.

    The post Gwen’s Take: 10 questions every presidential candidate should know how to answer appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican U.S. presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump speaks as Dr. Ben Carson (R) listens at the 2016 U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate held by CNBC in Boulder, Colorado, October 28, 2015. Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    Donald Trump, seen here at the Republican debate in Boulder, has said he would support a database to track Muslims

    NEWTON, Iowa — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has voiced support for creating a mandatory database to track Muslims in the United States — the latest in an escalating series of responses following the deadly attacks in Paris.

    “I would certainly implement that. Absolutely,” Trump told an NBC News reporter between campaign events Thursday in Newton, Iowa, according to video posted on MSNBC.com.

    He said Muslims would be signed up at “different places,” adding, “It’s all about management.”

    Asked whether registering would be mandatory, Trump responded, “They have to be.”

    The latest comments come less than a week after the deadly attacks on a concert hall, sports stadium and restaurants in Paris that have elevated fears of attacks in in the U.S. and prompted calls for new restrictions on Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn country.

    While some of his rivals have been chastised by President Barack Obama for suggesting that Christian Syrian refugees be given preference over Muslims, Trump has gone further in his rhetoric, advocating new restrictions on civil liberties and enhanced surveillance activities, including inside mosques.

    He said earlier this week that the country was “going to have no choice” but to close certain mosques because “really bad things are happening, and they’re happening fast.”

    The first reference to the database idea came in an interview with Yahoo News published earlier Thursday in which the billionaire real estate mogul did not reject the idea of requiring Muslims to register in a database or giving them special identification cards noting their religion.

    “We’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump told Yahoo News.

    He also suggested he would consider warrantless searches, according to Yahoo, saying, “We’re going to have to do things that we never did before.”

    Asked by reporters Thursday night to explain his Yahoo comments, Trump suggested his response had been misconstrued. “I never responded to that question,” he said.

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement Thursday condemning Trump for what the group described as “Islamophobic and unconstitutional” comments targeting American Muslims and Syrian refugees.

    They also criticized Trump rival Ben Carson, who on Thursday compared blocking potential terrorists posing as Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. to handling a rabid dog.

    “If there’s a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog,” Carson told reporters at a campaign stops in Alabama. “It doesn’t mean you hate all dogs, but you’re putting your intellect into motion.”

    “By mainstreaming Islamophobic and unconstitutional policies, Donald Trump and Ben Carson are contributing to an already toxic environment that may be difficult to correct once their political ambitions have been satisfied,” CAIR’s Robert McCaw said in a statement.

    Trump was in Iowa Thursday for a televised question-and-answer session hosted by WHO-TV at the Des Moines Area Community College. At a rally after answering questions, Trump took a few shots at his fellow candidates. He said Carson’s campaign was in “freefall” and said Sen. Marco Rubio “never shows up to vote because he’s campaigning.”

    Also Thursday evening, New Day for America, a super PAC supporting Ohio Gov. John Kasich, announced plans to launch a $2.5 million ad campaign targeting Trump.

    “There’s a growing consensus that someone has to do something to stop Donald Trump,” said Matt David, a spokesman for the group, who said the campaign would include television, radio, mail and digital ads in New Hampshire.

    Trump responded to the news, which was first reported by Politico, by unloading a dozen rapid-fire tweets mocking Kasich’s polling and debate performances and threatened to “sue him just for fun!” if the ads aren’t truthful.

    Kasich responded with his own flurry of tweets aimed at Trump.

    The post Trump says he would implement Muslim database appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Filmmaker Amer Albarzawi was living in Raqqa, Syria, two years ago as it became the stronghold of the Islamic State.

    “They changed our culture. They changed everything,” he said.

    The group, which he calls by the pejorative term “Daesh,” quickly instituted a series of rules that transformed daily life of Raqqa’s people. “One day, no smoking. Next day, no boys and girls together on the street,” Albarzawi said. “After one month, no girls and boys in school [together], then they have to put hijab on the girls. Then, [they said] ‘We don’t want to study this history, physics, mathematics, we want to change it’ … I’m Muslim, but it’s strange for me.”

    This series of changes and their psychological toll is at the forefront of “fade to black,” a one-minute stop-motion film that Albarzawi filmed with actor Farah Presley. The two have lived together in Istanbul, Turkey, since the end of 2014 and began working on the film in March.

    Stop-motion seemed like a “new way” of portraying the effects of the war as well as an accessible one, with the materials they needed easily attainable, Albarzawi said. “I like stop-motion because we can use many of materials around us,” he said.

    Each frame speaks to a moment from the months Albarzawi lived in Raqqa as the city watched its former way of life disappear, he said.

    A still from "fade to black," a film by Amer Albarzawi and Farah Presley.

    A still from “fade to black,” a film by Amer Albarzawi and Farah Presley.

    It is more important than ever for Syrian artists to keep producing work, in part to keep Syrian history and culture alive, he said. “The culture now, in Syria, I think it’s disappearing … Maybe we will lose our culture,” he said.

    Syrian art can also help correct the misconceptions that dominate many conversations about Syrian refugees in the U.S., Albarzawi said. “They have to know, we are normal people, we are human, just like all humans,” he said. “We are Muslims, and we are not terrorists.”

    The film won the Special Jury Prize at the Toronto Urban Film Festival this year, and the two are already working on their next film, Presley said.

    “As a Syrian artist, I think it’s important to show what’s going on in Syria now, to reflect the reality,” Presley said. “Because Syrians are the only ones who know what’s really going on. They feel it in every step.”

    The post WATCH: The psychological toll of Syria’s war in one breathtaking minute appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa June 29, 2014. The offshoot of al Qaeda which has captured swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria has declared itself an Islamic "Caliphate" and called on factions worldwide to pledge their allegiance, a statement posted on jihadist websites said on Sunday. The group, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS, has renamed itself "Islamic State" and proclaimed its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghadi as "Caliph" - the head of the state, the statement said. REUTERS/Stringer (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)  FOR BEST QUALITY IMAGE ALSO SEE: GF2EAAO0VU501 - RTR3WBPT

    A member loyal to the Islamic State waves a flag in Raqqa, Syria. Recently, a House Democrat and Republican have teamed up to urge President Obama to fight ISIS in Syria, not President Bashar Assad REUTERS/Stringer

    WASHINGTON — In an unusual alliance, a House Democrat and Republican have teamed up to urge the Obama administration to stop trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad and focus all its efforts on destroying Islamic State militants.

    Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Austin Scott, R-Ga., introduced legislation on Friday to end what they called an “illegal war” to overthrow Assad, the leader of Syria accused of killing tens of thousands of Syrian citizens in a more than four-year-old civil war entangled in a battle against IS extremists, also known as ISIS.

    “The U.S. is waging two wars in Syria,” Gabbard said. “The first is the war against ISIS and other Islamic extremists, which Congress authorized after the terrorist attack on 9/11. The second war is the illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad.”

    Scott said, “Working to remove Assad at this stage is counter-productive to what I believe our primary mission should be.”

    Publicly, the United States has focused its efforts on fighting IS and urging Assad to step down. But beyond thousands of U.S. airstrikes targeting IS in the region, the CIA began a covert operation in 2013 to arm, fund and train a moderate opposition to Assad. The secret CIA program is the only step the U.S. is taking on Assad militarily.

    In the Philippines on Thursday for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, President Barack Obama reiterated America’s demand that Assad must go. “The bottom line is: I do not foresee a situation in which we can end the civil war in Syria while Assad remains in power,” Obama said.

    Since 2013, the CIA has trained an estimated 10,000 fighters, although the number still fighting with so-called moderate forces is unclear. CIA-backed rebels in Syria, who had begun to put serious pressure on Assad’s forces, are now under Russian bombardment with little prospect of rescue by their American patrons, U.S. officials say.

    For years, the CIA effort had foundered — so much so that over the summer, some in Congress proposed cutting its budget. Some CIA-supported rebels had been captured; others had defected to extremist groups.

    Gabbard complained that Congress has never authorized the CIA effort, though covert programs do not require congressional approval, and the program has been briefed to the intelligence committees as required by law, according to congressional aides who are not authorized to be quoted discussing the matter.

    Gabbard contends that the effort to overthrow Assad is counter-productive because it is helping IS topple the Syrian leader and take control of all of Syria. If IS were able to seize the Syrian military’s weaponry, infrastructure and hardware, the group would become even more dangerous than it is now and exacerbate the refugee crisis.

    The post House Democrat, Republican urge Obama to focus on ISIS not Assad appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Beer. New Belgium Brewery. Photo by Flickr user +Russ.

    Making Sen$e’s segment on the 100 percent worker-owned New Belgium Brewing stirred some interest in the concept of employee stock ownership. David Ellerman explains the theory behind employee-owned companies. Photo by Flickr user +Russ.

    Editor’s Note: Our story on Colorado’s 100 percent worker-owned company New Belgium Brewing has stirred some interest in the concept of employee stock ownership. We didn’t have time, however, to explore a particularly provocative and arguably profound voice on the issue, David Ellerman, based at the University of California, Riverside.

    Ellerman has for years made an argument as startling as it is hard to refute: “the labor theory of property.” It’s that employees should own the firms they work for because of very simple logic: If they’re responsible for the consequences of their actions while on the job — committing a crime, say — how can it be that they’re not responsible for the positive things they do, such as making money?

    Ellerman’s writing on “the labor theory of property” has mostly been for a technical audience. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind trying to make his argument in a more popular way for the Making Sen$e page. Here’s what he sent us.

    Paul Solman, Economics Correspondent


    You are called in for jury duty. You protest to the judge that you are not a lawyer. How can you be expected to make a legal decision? But the judge points out that the jury is not there to interpret the law but to make a decision about the facts. Is the defendant in fact responsible for committing the crime as charged — or not? Guilty or not guilty?

    The legal system then assigns the legal responsibility according to the jury’s decision about the factual responsibility.

    That is the basic principle of justice: assign the legal responsibility to the people who are in fact responsible for the deeds in question.

    With that principle of justice, injustice falls into two categories:

    • assigning legal responsibility to a defendant who was not in fact responsible for the crime — that is, convicting an innocent person, or
    • not assigning legal responsibility to a defendant who was in fact responsible — that is, not convicting a guilty person.

    There is something else to notice about the basic norm of justice. Criminals have their “tools of the trade,” which can be quite important in committing crimes. But tools cannot be factually responsible for committing a crime, only people. For example, guns can’t be responsible for killing people, but people find it much easier to kill someone, deliberately or accidentally, if guns are available. Thus, regardless of the tools, instruments or other things being used in committing a crime, only the people committing the crime are in fact responsible for it.

    This basic principle of justice — assign legal responsibility according to factual responsibility — is used by the courts of law, but there’s no reason this principle should be applied only to negative results like crimes or misdeeds. When people deliberately produce something positive, shouldn’t they also get the legal “credit” or “ownership” of that result? The justice principle can thus be seen as applying to both positive and negative results of all responsible human actions.

    But there is a problem — our current economic system does not follow the justice principle. In the previous system — prior to the arrival of modern democracy — masters could own other people involuntarily (the slaves). Thankfully, that system was abolished. But voluntariness was not the key issue since the contract to voluntarily sell oneself into slavery was also abolished along with involuntary slavery.

    In the current economic system, people rent themselves out to an “employer.” As the late Paul Samuelson of MIT, the first American Nobel Prize winner in economics, put it in his widely-used textbook:

    Since slavery was abolished, …[a] man is not even free to sell himself: he must rent himself at a wage.

    This use of the word “rent” may be jarring, but it is accurate. Americans refer to “rental cars” and the British refer to “hire cars,” but both are talking about the same thing where the renter is not buying the car, but only buying some of its services. Renting something is buying its services.

    Our current employment system of renting, hiring or employing people conflicts with the justice principle. In a factory operating under the employment relation, the people working in the factory jointly produce whatever is the product. Consider a company that produces widgets, for example. Those widgets are the positive results of their responsible actions. But to produce the widgets, they must jointly use up raw materials, intermediate goods, machinery and other resources. Those used-up resources are the negative results of their responsible actions.

    But the people working in the enterprise do not jointly have legal ownership of the widgets they produce, and they do not jointly bear the expenses for the resources (raw materials, intermediate goods, etc.) they use to produce the widgets. Instead, it is the employer who owns the widgets and pays off the non-labor costs for the used resources. The rented people, the employees, are seen simply as the providers of just another resource — known in this case, as labor services. The employer pays off the liability for using that resource by paying the labor costs — the wages and salaries.

    Hence, the employment system seems to involve a mismatch between legal responsibility and factual responsibility. While the positive and negative legal responsibility goes to the (working or absentee) employer, the positive and negative factual responsibility is with both the working employer and the employees. The renting of people certainly seems to violate the standard justice principle of assigning legal responsibility in accordance to factual responsibility.

    But the employees are said to voluntarily give up their responsibility for the results of their “labor services.” How can one “give up” factual responsibility?

    Consider the case of an employee who commits a crime at the instruction of the employer. Certainly then the employee really does want to voluntarily give up and transfer away any factual responsibility for the results of his labor services. But there is no such escape. The legal system then recognizes that the “employment” of one’s own actions cannot be voluntarily transferred to another person. One could transfer the use of one’s car or shovel to another person, but not the “employment” of one’s self. As a British law book on the employer-employee relation puts it (using the old-speak of “master and servant”):

    All who participate in a crime with a guilty intent are liable to punishment. A master and servant who so participate in a crime are liable criminally, not because they are master and servant, but because they jointly carried out a criminal venture and are both criminous.

    But what factually changes when the venture being jointly carried out is not criminal? Do the employees suddenly turn into non-responsible robots employed by their employer? Presumably employees are just as much factually responsible for their deliberate actions when they produce widgets as when they commit crimes.

    It is the response of the legal system that changes — when no crime is committed, the legal system sees no reason to intervene to explicitly apply the justice principle it has so clearly established in ordinary trials. The system then accepts “obeying the employer” as fulfilling the employment contract. There seems to be no breach of the contract — even though “obeying the employer” didn’t get the criminal employee off the hook. But with no breach or crimes involved, the legal system is silent. It does not intervene to apply the justice principle as it does in a criminal or civil trial.

    The end result is that the employer ends up paying off all the costs of the used-up resources, including the wage payments for the employees’ labor services, and thus owning all the widgets produced. But the employer is not in fact solely responsible for using up those resources or for producing that product — so this adds up to a violation of the justice principle. The justice principle says that all the expenses for the used-up resources and all the revenues from owning and selling the widgets should go to the factually responsible party, which would be all the people working in the enterprise.

    This violation is built into the whole system of renting people — even if voluntarily. Should that be surprising? We are accustomed to condemn slavery for being involuntary, but would owning other people be okay if it were voluntary? Perhaps the basic problem with owning other people was not whether it was involuntary or voluntary, but that it treated people as things. And that is still a problem with the renting of people in our economy. It treats the rented people like non-responsible things whose use or employment can be voluntarily transferred from one person to another like a car or shovel.

    How can the problem be fixed? Today, the renting, hiring or employing of people seems as “natural” as owning people did before the 19th century. In either case, most people in such a society take it for granted. But what if the abolitionists’ achievement of abolishing the owning of other people was followed up with the “neo-abolitionist” goal of abolishing the renting of other people? It would mean that all the people working together in a given enterprise would be the owners or members of that enterprise. They would jointly own what they jointly produce, and they would jointly pay off the costs for all the resources that they jointly used. In short, they would jointly own both the positive and negative “fruits of their labor” so private property would be re-founded on the justice principle.

    The conservative British thinker, Lord Eustace Percy, put the matter very well back in 1944.

    Here is the most urgent challenge to political invention ever offered to the jurist and the statesman. The human association which in fact produces and distributes wealth, the association of workmen, managers, technicians and directors, is not an association recognised by the law.  The association which the law does recognize — the association of shareholders, creditors and directors — is incapable of production and is not expected by the law to perform these functions. We have to give law to the real association, and to withdraw meaningless privilege from the imaginary one.

    It was previously noted that the factually responsible party is the community of all the people working in the enterprise, which Lord Percy called the “human association which in fact produces and distributes wealth.” That community is not even recognized as a legal party in the current system. “The association which the law does recognise” is (typically) the corporation-as-employer in the employer-employer relationship.

    The closest legal form we have today where the factually responsible party is also the legally responsible party would be worker cooperatives (like the Mondragon cooperatives in the Basque country in Spain) or the “employee-owned” companies like the 7,000 or so Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) across the United States (at least where 100 percent of the stock is in the ESOP trust for the employees). With those legal forms, the “association which the law does recognise” is also the “human association which in fact produces and distributes wealth.” That arrangement satisfies the justice principle.

    The post Column: The post-Marxist case for workers of the world uniting — to own the companies at which they work appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is pressing European and Arab allies to provide more troops and support for the war against the Islamic State group, hoping that the horror of the Paris attacks – and the fear more are coming – will compel them to get more deeply involved.

    The call for help is driven by a hope to build on what the Obama administration sees as the beginnings of battlefield momentum in Iraq and Syria. It may also reflect a sense in the Pentagon that the campaign against the Islamic State group has advanced too slowly and requires more urgent and decisive military moves.

    U.S. officials say they detect more European interest in contributing to the military campaign in Syria, where many governments have stayed largely on the sidelines. But the officials acknowledge that it will be difficult to get more from budget-strapped countries already involved elsewhere in the world. Chances of drawing significant additional help from Arab nations seem even slimmer.

    Defense Secretary Ash Carter has made clear the basic U.S. strategy is not changing. But during an hourlong meeting with top advisers and commanders earlier this week, Carter said now is the time to reach out to European allies for support in the fight against the Islamic State group, according to a senior defense official. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal Pentagon deliberations.

    The official said Carter asked his top advisers – including Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, Gen. Philip Breedlove, the top U.S. commander for NATO, and Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the lead commander in the Islamic State fight – to reach out to Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Turkey for additional military support. The requests span a range of options from equipment and supplies to trainers and special operations forces.

    Italy has provided Tornado fighter jets for reconnaissance missions, weapons for Kurdish fighters and training units in Iraq and has said it would consider playing a more active role in Iraq combating the Islamic State group, but that no decision has been made. Last month, Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said Italy isn’t considering any role in Syria because Damascus hasn’t asked for assistance.

    “We are ready to help our French brothers, but neither they, nor the Americans nor we will make excursions in Syria,” Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Thursday on RAI state television.

    The U.S. push for broader support for military action in Syria and Iraq comes as France has intensified its aerial bombing in Syria and Russia has widened its air campaign in Syria after concluding that the Islamic State group was behind the bomb that brought down a Russian passenger jet in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Oct. 31, killing 224 people.

    French President Francois Hollande is going to Washington and Moscow next week to push for a stronger international coalition against IS.

    Carter told an interviewer on Monday that the Paris attacks have had a “galvanizing” effect on U.S. cooperation with France, including in the sharing of intelligence. He noted that the French responded with immediate airstrikes against IS targets and said the United States is looking for new ways to improve the effectiveness of its military campaign.

    “We need others to get in the game as well,” he told a forum sponsored by The Wall Street Journal. “So I’m hoping that this tragedy has the effect of galvanizing others as it has galvanized the French, and really throughout Europe. Because remember, Europe has been participating in part in operations against ISIL, but not, notably, most of them in Syria so far.” Belgium, Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands are flying missions in Iraq but not in Syria.

    Derek Chollet, a senior adviser at the German Marshall Fund of the United States who previously served as assistant defense secretary for international security, said the Paris attacks may give other European nations the political will and public support they need.

    “There is willingness for Europe to get more involved – but it’s a political decision,” said Chollet. “I think now that there’s political space that’s opening because of what happened last week, it makes sense for the U.S. to be perhaps asking some of these tougher questions to European partners about their involvement in places like Syria.”

    The problem, however, is that resources are tight.

    “The challenge we all have is that it’s not as though there is this capability that is waiting on the shelf somewhere, that it’s just in reserve and if we just could access it would solve all of our problems,” said Chollet. “We are bumping up against the limits – under current budgets and current sizes of militaries. You can’t manufacture this instantly.”

    Gen. Joseph Dunford, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said “there hasn’t been a great enthusiasm” for ground combat against the Islamic State group beyond the local forces already fighting in Iraq and Syria, including Kurds in both countries and an Arab rebel coalition in Syria.

    “We would like to see particularly Sunni (Arab) nations … contribute to a greater degree on the ground,” he said, citing in particular the predominantly Sunni states in the Persian Gulf region, some of whom have flown combat missions over Iraq and Syria but are not engaged in ground combat.

    “I think they would have the credibility and, frankly, come without some of the baggage of Western forces to be on the ground,” Dunford told the same Wall Street Journal forum, speaking one day after Carter. “I think there’s some possibility of doing that … that’s something we need to work on.”

    One senior U.S. official described the goal as “pie in the sky,” acknowledging it will be difficult to get any of the Sunni nations to agree to send ground troops.

    But others suggest that nations such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE could be tapped for more assistance, including special operations troops and trainers. And in some cases, those Arab nations could provide more help to the Syrian opposition forces by providing both military supplies and support as well and exercising political influence to get the groups better aligned.

    The post Pentagon pressing allies for more help against Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An AscTec Firefly unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, sits on the witness table as Joshua Walden, senior vice president at Interl Corp., center, speaks during a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

    An AscTec Firefly unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, sits on the witness table as Joshua Walden, senior vice president at Interl Corp., center, speaks during a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

    WASHINGTON — An aviation industry task force is recommending that operators be required to register drones weighing as little as a half a pound, a threshold that could include some remote-controlled toys, industry officials said.

    Federal Aviation Administration officials who convened the 25-member task force on drone registration have said they want to avoid requiring the registration of toys. But the consensus of the task force is that the weight threshold that triggers registration should be set at 250 grams or above, which is about a half-pound, said people familiar with its deliberations.

    The threshold is based on the potential impact a drone that size would have if it fell from the sky and struck a person or if it collided with a helicopter or plane, they said.

    The recommendations were expected to be submitted to the FAA by Saturday. The FAA then can modify them, and hopes to issue the rules before Christmas to begin registering some of the thousands of drones expected to be purchased over the holidays. One industry official said the target date is Dec. 21.

    Four people familiar with the advisory group’s deliberations described the conclusions to The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the FAA asked that the discussions be kept private.

    The registration requirement would apply to drone operators rather than individual drones to avoid requiring operators who own multiple drones to register more than once. The operator would receive a single registration number, which would then be affixed to the body of each drone.

    People who already own drones weighing more than a half-pound would have to register them.

    Registration could be done through an FAA website where an operator can provide name, address, phone number and other contact information and receive a registration number.

    The Consumer Technology Association estimates 700,000 drones will be sold in the U.S. this year, including 400,000 in the last quarter.

    FAA officials said when they announced the formation of the task force last month that they hoped registration will help create a “culture of accountability” among drone operators and allow owners to be tracked down in the event of an accident.

    The FAA now receives about 100 reports a month from pilots who say they’ve seen drones flying near planes and airports, up dramatically from last year. So far there’ve been no accidents, but agency officials have said they’re concerned that even a small drone might cause serious damage if it is sucked into an engine, smashes into an airliner’s windshield or collides with a helicopter’s rotors.

    Helicopters are the greatest concern because they frequently fly below 500 feet in the same airspace as small drones, said Jim Williams, the FAA’s former top drone official now at an international law firm with drone-industry clients.

    There are no studies on how much damage drones of different weight might cause to a helicopter or aircraft engine, he said. “I am not a fan of the weight limit because there’s no science behind it,” Williams said.

    The weight threshold for drone registration in Europe is about 2 pounds, while Canadian officials are leaning toward a threshold of about 1 pound, industry officials said.

    Williams said he hopes the FAA will add other requirements to the half-pound threshold that would eliminate most toys from the registration requirement.

    For example, many drones can navigate independently rather than relying on the operator to be constantly steering, Williams said. Operators can preset waypoints to fly a drone beyond their line of sight. If the waypoints are incorrectly set for an altitude or location where manned aircraft fly, “that’s where the risk really comes from,” he said.

    Williams said drones that can download real-time video are also a concern, because the operator becomes engrossed in the picture and is distracted.

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    Moses Duo, 9, receives a certificate for being cured of the Ebola virus in Paynesville, Liberia, July 20, 2015. The last four cases of Ebola in Liberia were discharged from a treatment clinic on Monday, meaning there were no more confirmed carriers of the deadly virus in the West African country. REUTERS/James Giahyue  - RTX1L2AA

    Moses Duo, 9, receives a certificate for being cured of the Ebola virus in Paynesville, Liberia, July 20, 2015. Following a period of no confirmed carriers of the deadly virus in the West African country, three new cases of Ebola were reported in Liberia on Thursday. Photo by James Giahyue/Reuters

    Three new cases of Ebola were reported in Liberia on Thursday, more than two months after the World Health Organization declared the country free of the deadly virus. 

    The new patients were a 10-year-old boy who lived with his parents and three siblings in Paynesville, a suburb of the capital Monrovia, and two direct family members, Liberia Minister of Health Bernice Dahn said. All family and high-risk contacts were admitted to an Ebola Treatment Unit.

    “The hospital is currently decontaminating the unit. All of the healthcare workers who came into contact with the patient have been notified,” Dahn said in a statement on Friday. “We know how Ebola spreads and we know how to stop Ebola but we must remain vigilant and work together.”

    In September, the WHO officially declared an end to the Ebola epidemic in the country, which has seen more than 10,600 cases of the disease and 4,808 deaths, WHO figures show. This is the fourth wave of the virus to hit the country since it was first announced in March 2014.

    “It is possible that we will find more cases,” Dahn, said. “The key is to stop it, find the source, and prevent the next one.”

    The virus has killed a total of about 11,300 people in West Africa, although Sierra Leone was declared free of the virus on Nov. 7 and Guinea has begun its countdown to the end of the virus, Reuters reported.

    A country must go 42 days without reporting any new cases of the virus in order for the WHO to declare it Ebola-free.

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    Belgian soldiers and a police officer patrol in central Brussels, November 21, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris. Belgium raised the alert status for its capital Brussels to the highest level on Saturday, shutting the metro and warning the public to avoid crowds because of a "serious and imminent" threat of an attack.  REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal - RTX1V4YA

    Belgian soldiers and a police officer patrol in central Brussels, November 21, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following last week’s fatal attacks in Paris. Photo by Youssef Boudlal/Reuters

    Stores were closed and public transit was halted in Belgium on Saturday after the government raised the country’s threat to the highest level possible amid warnings of an imminent attack.

    “The result of relatively precise information pointed to the risk of an attack along the lines of what took take place in Paris,” Prime Minister Charles Michel said at a news conference.

    “We are talking about the threat that several individuals with arms and explosives would launch an attack perhaps in several locations at the same time,” he said.

    While warning people not to panic, the government’s crisis center told residents in the capital of Brussels, a city of 1.2 million, to avoid places where crowds gather, including shopping malls, transit hubs, concerts and sporting events.

    Belgian soldiers patrol a shopping street in central Brussels, November 21, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris. Belgium raised the alert status for its capital Brussels to the highest level on Saturday, shutting the metro and warning the public to avoid crowds because of a "serious and imminent" threat of an attack.  REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal   - RTX1V59Y

    Belgian soldiers patrol a shopping street in central Brussels on Nov. 21, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following last week’s fatal attacks in Paris. Photo by Youssef Boudlal/Reuters

    Michel told legislators Thursday that the country needs to do more to fight against Islamic extremism, which has taken hold in the central European country.

    Belgium has few border controls and shares a common language with France, a main target of jihadist militants, the Associated Press reported.

    The threat on civilians in Belgium comes one week after the terror assault on Paris, during which groups of attackers linked to the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, killed at least 130 people in a series of coordinated attacks on the French capital.

    One of the men being sought in connection with the Paris assault, Salah Abdeslam, was last seen crossing into Belgium and is on the run, Reuters reported.

    Police in Brussels are “actively looking for him,” a spokesman for the Belgian prosecutor’s office told Politico on Friday.

    NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan reported Friday from Paris that the French Senate voted to extend the country’s state of emergency for another 90 days.

    This measure allows French police to enter a suspect’s residence with permission from the Interior Ministry, circumventing the criminal justice system.

    A public opinion poll published on Tuesday found 84 percent of those surveyed in France said they were “ready to accept more controls and a certain limitation of freedoms” in order to combat terrorism, Reuters reported.

    “Security is the first of all freedoms,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Thursday.

    This report will be updated as new information becomes available.

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    PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown is interviewing authors from noon to 5 p.m. ET today at the Miami Book fair. Watch events today live and browse on-demand video from events featuring the authors, speakers and discussions listed below:

    • Pulitzer Prize Winning biographer Stacy Schiff The Witches: Salem 1692
    • Essayist and humorist PJ O’Rourke
    • Former Nightline anchor Ted Koppel
    • Captain Underpants creator Dav Pilkey
    • Congressman and Civil Rights pioneer—and now graphic novel author – Rep. John Lewis
    • Humorist Dave Barry
    • #1 Bestselling young adult author Melissa de la Cruz
    • Acclaimed novelist and memoirist Sandra Cisneros
    • Bestselling author Mitch Albom
    • NPR Weekend Edition host and memoirist Scott Simon
    • Book club favorites Paula McClain (The Paris Wife, Circling the Sun) and Sara
    • Gruen (Water for Elephants, At the Water’s Edge)
    • National Book Award for Young People’s Literature Finalists Neal Shusterman, Ali Benjamin, Steve Sheinkin
    • National Book Award Fiction finalists Angela Flournoy (The Turner House), Karen E. Bender (Refund: Stories), Lauren Groff-tentative (Fates and Furies) and Adam Johnson (Fortune Smiles: Stories)
    • National Book Award Nonfiction finalists Sally Mann (Hold Still), Sy Montgomery (The Soul of an Octopus), and Carla Power (If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran)
    • Actors Paul Giamatti and David David Strathairn
    • Actors Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory) and Jesse Eisenberg
    • Actor and graphic novel memoirist John Leguizamo and Rosie Perez

    The post Watch the Miami Book Fair live – featuring Mitch Albom, Ann Beattie and Ted Koppel appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, seen here at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition ForumSaturday, hosted a Twitter chat on Monday. Brian C. Frank/Reuters

    U.S. GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump is seen here at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Forum. Trump’s support for a government database to track Muslims is drawing sharp rebukes from his rivals as they try to distance themselves from a proposal that legal experts say is unconstitutional. Photo by Brian C. Frank/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Donald Trump on Saturday tried to back away from his support for a government database to track Muslims in the United States, an idea that drew sharp rebukes from his Republican presidential rivals and disbelief from legal experts.

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called the prospect of a registry “abhorrent.” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said the idea was “unnecessary” and not something Americans would support. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has largely avoided criticizing Trump throughout the 2016 campaign, said, “I’m not a fan of government registries of American citizens.”

    “The First Amendment protects religious liberty, and I’ve spent the past several decades defending the religious liberty of every American,” Cruz told reporters in Sioux City, Iowa.

    The first reference to a database came in a Trump interview with Yahoo News published Thursday. When asked about requiring Muslims to register in a database or carry a form of special identification noting their religion, Trump said, “We’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely.”

    Trump was pressed on the idea of a registry by an NBC News reporter Thursday evening while the candidate campaigned in Iowa. Asked if there should be a database system for tracking Muslims in the United States, Trump said, “There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases.” The reporter asked if that was something Trump would put in place as president. Trump replied: “I would certainly implement that. Absolutely.”

    Trump also told the reporter that Muslims would “have to be” registered and said that the registration process could occur at “different places.”

    In an interview on Fox News Channel on Friday evening, Trump tried to clarify his position. “I want a watch list for the Syrian refugees that (President Barack) Obama’s going to let in if we don’t stop him as Republicans,” he said.

    He said he had trouble hearing the NBC reporter’s questions. He was not asked specifically if he disavowed a general registry for Muslims living in the country, and he did not condemn the idea on his own.

    “I want to have watch lists. I want to have surveillance. I mean, we’re not a bunch of babies,” he said.

    He once again addressed the issue during a rally in Birmingham, Alabama, Saturday afternoon, telling a crowd in a rambling speech that reports on his previous statements were inaccurate.

    “I do want surveillance. I will absolutely take database on the people coming in from Syria if we can’t stop it, but we’re going to,” he told the crowd.

    Trump also voiced support for additional surveillance, both of arriving refugees and certain mosques.

    “So here’s the story just to set it clear: I want surveillance of these people. I want surveillance if we have to and I don’t care,” said Trump. “I want surveillance of certain mosques, OK. If that’s OK? I want surveillance. And you know what? We’ve had it before and we’ll have it again.”

    Trump has also voiced support for closing certain mosques as a way to contain the terrorist threat in the U.S.

    The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more. The attacks have raised fears in the U.S. and prompted calls for new restrictions on refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.

    The House passed legislation this past week essentially barring Syrian and Iraqi refugees from the United States. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has slotted the bill for possible Senate consideration, though it’s unclear whether the chamber could get enough votes to override a threatened veto by President Barack Obama.

    The Republican candidates’ unified criticism of Trump was striking.

    His rivals have vacillated in how they have handled other inflammatory comments from Trump, apparently wary of alienating his supporters while increasingly concerned that he has held his grip on the race deep into the fall.

    Civil liberties experts said a database for Muslims would be unconstitutional on several counts. The libertarian Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro said the idea violates basic privacy and liberty rights.

    Marci Hamilton, a Yeshiva University legal expert on religious liberty, said requiring Muslims to register appears to be a clear violation of the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom.

    “What the First Amendment does and what it should do is drive the government to use neutral criteria,” Hamilton said. “You can use neutral criteria to identify terrorists. What it can’t do is engage in one-religion bashing. That won’t fly in any court.”

    Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, at a Tennessee rally Friday evening, said, “Mr. Trump has attacked Mexican immigrants, he’s attacked women and now he’s attacking Muslim Americans. At some point you have to ask yourself, is that the kind of country we are?”

    Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said Trump’s words were “outrageous and bigoted.”

    Vice President Joe Biden, who gave the White House’s weekly Internet and radio address while Obama was in Asia, said IS wants to “manufacture a clash between civilizations,” and to turn away refugees – mostly women, children, orphans, torture survivors – and “say there is no way you can ever get here would play right into the terrorists’ hands.”

    On the GOP side, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said creating a national registry based on religion and closing mosques “will do nothing to keep us safer and shows a lack of understanding on how to effectively prevent terrorist attacks.”

    Ohio Gov. John Kasich said requiring people to register with the federal government because of their religion “strikes against all that we have believed in our nation’s history.”

    Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who has challenged Trump’s lead in the GOP race, said the U.S. should have a database on “every foreigner who comes into this country,” but he rejected the idea of tracking U.S. citizens based on their religion.

    “One of the hallmarks of America is that we treat everybody the same,” he said. “If we’re just going to pick out a particular group of people based on their religion, based on their race, based on some other thing, that’s setting a pretty dangerous precedent.”

    Colvin reported from Spartanburg, South Carolina. Associated Press writers Bill Barrow in Mobile, Alabama; Steve Peoples in Sioux City, Iowa; Catherine Lucey in Des Moines, Iowa; and Julie Bykowicz and Mark Sherman in Washington contributed to this report.

    The post GOP criticizes Trump for supporting database tracking Muslims in U.S. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Syrian refugees line up to receive aid for winter season from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Tripoli, northern Lebanon November 18, 2015. REUTERS/Omar Ibrahim  - RTS7RE6

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    IVETTE FELICIANO: Just one day before ISIS militants carried out the Paris attacks, a double suicide bombing by ISIS killed 43 people in a residential neighborhood in Lebanon’s capital of Beirut.

    Remco Andersen, the Middle East correspondent for the Dutch newspaper “De Volkskrant” reported from the scene. I spoke to him by Skype.

    REMCO ANDERSEN: What we saw were local youth, Lebanese youth, dragging away, I saw at least three cases of this happening, Syrians who happened to be in the neighborhood. And when I asked the guy why, he said, you know, the people who make that bomb go off are ISIS, and ISIS comes from Syria, so every Syrian is now at target.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Anderson says such retaliation and scapegoating is common after bombings inside Lebanon. There have been more than a dozen such attacks in the past two years.

    REMCO ANDERSEN: These are the kinds of things that happen after a bombing like that, and it just shows how tensions and resentment between different groups here are only going to increase.

    REMCO ANDERSEN: This small country of four-and-a-half million people has the world’s largest concentration of Syrian refugees per capita. More than a million refugees, which means one in every four people in Lebanon is from Syria.

    AMAL MUDALLALI: It’s like the equivalent of having 80 million refugees come to the United States.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Amal Mudallali, an advisor to Lebanon’s former Prime Minister and now a scholar at the Wilson Center, says the refugee influx has strained a cash-strapped government that has been unable to pick up garbage regularly or keep the electricity on.

    AMAL MUDALLALI: They came to an area that already has an infrastructure that cannot handle even its own population. This is a big big problem for Lebanon, because Lebanon is a small country. Lebanon has limited resources.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Lebanon doesn’t have Syrian refugee camps, so most arriving families live in dilapidated single room apartments and makeshift tent communities.

    AMAL MUDALLALI: This problem is at the breaking point.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Mudallali says the anti-refugee rhetoric now coming from Europe and the United States could make the problem worse for Lebanon if international aid dries up, and the refugees have no place else to go.

    AMAL MUDALLALI: This sends a message to the region that the international community does not want to hold its responsibility and don’t want to help with this problem this is a big problem for the region to accept, especially for the people who cannot handle it anymore.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Mudallali and reporters in Lebanon describe the government is as “dysfunctional” and ill-equipped to handle the refugees. Lebanon has not had a president for more than a year or held parliamentary elections for six years.

    MATTHEW FISHER: The Lebanese population has been tolerant of all of this, I think, amazingly tolerant, considering how many refugees are here.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Matthew Fisher, a reporter for Canada’s National Post, says Lebanon has backed away from its open-door border policy with Syria, tightening its borders with Syria and suspending registrations for new refugees.

    MATTHEW FISHER: The ones in the Middle East are very poor, they don’t have the money to pay smugglers to go to Europe. These really are hardscrabble folk who have no other options.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Fisher says he’s observed friction between Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugees who are willing to work for a-quarter of the pay a Lebanese would. He says many refugees say they fled persecution by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

    MATTHEW FISHER: I’ve met firemen who said they had to leave, because they refused to fire water cannons full of acid onto protesters in Damascus.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: With a huge backlog of asylum requests in Europe, the Paris attacks may leave more Syrians in Lebanon in limbo.

    MATTHEW FISHER: Every single refugee said to me: this changes the game. We are already in a very difficult position now we are in a worse position. The Lebanese are going to regard us as terrorists.

    Any place that we might like to resettle in, in North America and in Europe, will now have another reason not to be generous and allow us in.

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    Police react to a suspicious vehicle near La Carillon restaurant following a series of deadly attacks in Paris, November 15, 2015.    REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol - RTS779V

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Here in Paris, the prosecutor’s office said today, police have released seven of the eight people taken into custody following the raid Wednesday on a residence where police killed Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks. One person arrested remains in custody.

    In the United States, FBI Director James Comey says he is not aware of any credible threats of what he calls “Paris- type” attacks or of any U.S. connections among the Paris attackers. At the same time, Comey says the FBI currently has 900 open inquiries into Islamic extremists in the homeland, and federal charges have been brought against 69 people for allegedly supporting ISIS.

    Joining me now to discuss the challenge of preventing an ISIS attack in the U.S. is “New York Times” reporter Matt Apuzzo.

    Matt, earlier this week in Europe, the head of Europol said they have a watch list of almost 10,000 people, that 2,000 Europeans have flown back and forth to Syria and Iraq over the last few years. Now, the number is much smaller in the U.S. and those itineraries, those travel itineraries like red flags, does that make it harder for U.S. authorities to figure out who to target?

    MATT APUZZO, NEW YORK TIMES: Sure. You know, in the United States, the problem that ISIS poses here is actually very different from what’s going on in Europe.

    The real struggle for American law enforcement and American counterterrorism officials is from guys they call HVEs, homegrown vice extremists. These are people who, you know, they haven’t gone out to train. They haven’t flown out to Syria. They’re just disaffected angry people who are looking to glom on to something, and ISIS is out there with a very slick propaganda machine.

    They’re really speaking to the school shooter crowd. They’re speaking to guys who, you know, maybe in a previous generation might have joined a gang or done some other, you know, antisocial behavior.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: That seems like a different social media strategy than perhaps in other parts of Europe where they’re trying to recruit people to go down to Syria. This is little different in the U.S. to try to get them to commit horrible acts inside the United States after they’re already there.

    MATT APUZZO: Yes, that’s absolutely right. The strategy has changed for ISIS. I mean, I think there’s a recognition that it’s much harder to get people on to a plane from the United States and get them to Syria, you know, the sort of wave of people of maybe nine a month past year have kind of slowed to a trickle.

    ISIS seems much more focused on trying to inspire people here to take up arms, and if you don’t have a gun, use a knife, if you don’t have a knife, use your car, you know, to commit these small one-off acts of violence, and do it in ISIS’ name.

    ISIS doesn’t care if you want to declare yourself to be part of the movement, they’ll take it. They’ll take credit for it and they’ll sent propaganda around on it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You mentioned the school shooter crowd. In your story, there was an interesting double standard we have for intelligence agencies of how we perceive whether they capture ISIS or a school shooter.

    MATT APUZZO: Yes, that’s right. And it’s something that really weighs heavily on American law enforcement, and it’s a double standard that’s obvious when you talk to guys who do this for a living. I mean, nobody had an expectation that the FBI should have stopped the Newtown school shooter or the Aurora theater shooter or the Charleston shooter in the black church before they opened fire. There was expectation they would detect this and there should have been a trap set.

    But if that same — if those same action were done by somebody who had been watching ISIS videos, then it might have been an intelligence failure, and it would be, you know, maybe congressional hearings and there would be, “What is the FBI not doing enough?” or “Why isn’t our counter-terrorism trip wires enough?”

    And that’s hard. That really speaks to what we consider terrorizing in the United States. We don’t respond in the same way in the United States to a school shooting as we do if somebody opens fire in a public space and screams “Allahu Akbar”. And that’s a hard thing to balance when you’re in the counter-terrorism world

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Matt Apuzzo of “The New York Times” joining us from Washington tonight — thanks so much.

    MATT APUZZO: Great to be here.

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    Malian officials enter the lobby of the Radisson hotel in Bamako, Mali, November 20, 2015. Photo by Joe Penney/Reuters.

    Malian officials enter the lobby of the Radisson hotel in Bamako, Mali, November 20, 2015. Photo by Joe Penney/Reuters

    The president of the West African nation of Mali ordered a 10-day state of emergency and three days of national morning in the wake of Friday’s attack on a luxury hotel in the capital of Bamako, where heavily armed Islamic extremists killed at least 19 of the 170 people they had taken hostage.

    Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita visited the Radisson Blu Hotel on Saturday, where authorities say two gunman wielding AK-47s and grenades stormed the entrance Friday morning as five night shift guards were awaiting a replacement team, the Associated Press reported.

    Four of the guards were shot, one fatally.

    During what became a seven-hour standoff, the attackers killed at least 19 hostages, most of whom were international hotel guests, including nationals from Russia, China, Belgium, Israel and the United States.

    In an assault by Malian commandos, the two gunman were killed and the remaining hostages were freed.

    Malian officials prepare to lift a corpse into an emergency vehicle outside the Radisson hotel in Bamako, Mali, November 20, 2015. Photo by Joe Penney/Reuters.

    Malian officials prepare to lift a corpse into an emergency vehicle outside the Radisson hotel in Bamako, Mali, November 20, 2015. Photo by Joe Penney/Reuters

    The State Department confirmed the sole American killed in the attack was 41-year-old Anita Datar from Maryland.

    “We are devastated that Anita is gone — it’s unbelievable to us that she has been killed in this senseless act of violence and terrorism,” her brother Sanjeev Datar said in a statement Friday night. “Anita was one of the kindest and most generous people we know. She loved her family and her work tremendously.”

    Datar was a divorced mother of a seven-year-old boy and former Peace Corps volunteer who worked for a Washington-based international development firm aimed at improving reproductive health in developing countries.

    “Everything she did in her life she did to help others — as a mother, public health expert, daughter, sister and friend. And while we are angry and saddened that she has been killed, we know that she would want to promote education and healthcare to prevent violence and poverty at home and abroad, not intolerance,” her brother said.

    Two Islamist groups, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Mourabitoun, which have been operating in Northern Africa, claimed responsibility for the attack, The Washington Post reported.

    “This barbarity only stiffens our resolve to meet this challenge,” President Barack Obama said on Saturday from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, calling for a global cooperation to fight terrorism.

    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia November 21, 2015. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters.

    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia November 21, 2015. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    “Like the heinous attacks we saw in Paris, and attacks we see all too often elsewhere, this is another awful reminder that the scourge of terrorism threatens so many of our nations,” Obama said.

    “With allies and partners, the United States will be relentless against those who target our citizens. We will not allow these killers to have a safe haven. We will stand with the people of Mali as they work to rid their country of terrorists and strengthen their democracy,” he said.

    The post Mali declares state of emergency after at least 19 killed in hotel assault appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks about his plans for the U.S. military at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, in Charleston, South Carolina November 18, 2015. Bush called for an increased U.S. troop presence on the ground in Iraq as part of a global coalition to take on Islamic State militants, shifting to a more hawkish stance in response to the Paris attacks.     REUTERS/Joshua Drake - RTS7TT9

    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks about his plans for the U.S. military at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, in Charleston, South Carolina November 18, 2015. In the week following the terror attacks in Paris, Bush described a religious test for refugees that does not represent the actual law. Photo by Joshua Drake/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — If truth is the first casualty of war, it can also take a beating in a time of terrorism. A week of raging debate over Syrian refugees and Islamic State violence has scattered misinformation everywhere.

    In the Republican presidential contest, Donald Trump found himself with a potential new rival, the Constitution, in calling for a registry of Muslim citizens. Jeb Bush described a religious test for refugees that does not represent the actual law.

    In Congress and among governors, some Republicans overstated thin evidence of a link between Syrian refugees and terrorists in Europe. Some Democrats – President Barack Obama among them – may have been too quick to dismiss the risk that such radicals will infiltrate the dispossessed and slip past a U.S. security apparatus that has proved leaky in the past.

    To be sure, there are many unsettled facts in the chaotic aftermath of the attacks that killed 130 people in Paris and set U.S. leaders, as well as the public, on edge. But some things are known.

    A look at some of the claims over the past week and how they compare with reality:

    TRUMP: “Our president wants to take in 250,000 from Syria.”

    THE FACTS: Not even close, but Trump routinely throws out the figure anyway.

    Obama has expanded the usual annual ceiling for refugees of 70,000 by an additional 15,000, with 10,000 of those new slots for Syrians. At the outset, officials said this program for Syrian refugees probably would continue beyond one year. But nothing approaching 250,000 is in the cards.

    Trump also states that most of the people leaving Syria are men, with very few children, an observation he made at one point by seeing the crowds on TV.

    But of the roughly 2,000 Syrian refugees who have come into the U.S., the State Department says that half are children, 2.5 percent are older than age 60, the sexes are split about equally, and only 2 percent are single men of combat age.

    BUSH: “In the law, it requires a religious test. … It is a requirement, as you go through the screening process, that religion is an element to it.”

    THE FACTS: No religious test is required for people seeking asylum or refugee status.

    The law does offer religious persecution as one of five broad grounds for granting asylum or refugee status. Those who would have their life or freedom threatened on account of their religion could qualify. So could those facing persecution because of their race, nationality, political opinions or associations with social groups.

    So, religion can be an element the government considers, if someone cites it as a reason to seek refuge, but it is not a test in law.

    OBAMA on Republicans: “Apparently they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States.” On Syrian refugees: “They are subjected to the most rigorous process conceivable.”

    THE FACTS: Obama’s mocking of Republicans worried about terrorists slipping into the U.S. with authentic refugees masks concerns that were expressed by his own administration about that very potential before the Paris attacks.

    James Clapper, director of national intelligence, told a security conference in September: “As they descend on Europe, one of the obvious issues that we worry about, and in turn as we bring refugees into this country, is exactly what’s their background? We don’t put it past the likes of ISIL to infiltrate operatives among these refugees,” he said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group. Clapper added, “That is a huge concern of ours.”

    He went on to cite America’s “pretty aggressive program” for screening newcomers. But he was not alone in acknowledging risks.

    In congressional testimony in October, FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers “the good news is we have improved dramatically our ability as an interagency – all parts of the U.S. government – to query and check people,” since a troubled program for vetting refugees from Iraq.

    “The bad news is our ability to touch data with respect to people who may come from Syria, may be limited,” he said. “That is, if we don’t know much about somebody, there won’t be anything in our database.” He said a decade of U.S. involvement in Iraq yielded background that is “richer than the data we have from Syria.”

    TRUMP, on requiring Muslims in the U.S. to register in a database: “They have to be … absolutely.” He tried in another interview to clarify that position, suggesting a “watch list” for the Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. under Obama. Trump was not asked specifically if he disavowed a general registry for Muslims living in the country, and he did not condemn the idea on his own.

    THE FACTS: Constitutional scholars say good luck with that.

    The main thrust of Supreme Court cases has been to cast doubt on religious, racial, religious and gender classifications. You can’t discriminate against a class of people, and the court looks hard at even neutral-sounding policies that are a pretext for discrimination. Based on this history, it might be OK to focus on a group of extremist Muslims, but not on all Muslims.

    As far as religion goes, the Supreme Court ruled in 1947 in a case about taxpayer subsidies of bus service for Catholic children. In that opinion, Justice Hugo Black wrote that the First Amendment prohibits the federal and state governments from passing laws that “aid one religion, aid all religions or prefer one religion over another.”

    “No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or nonattendance,” he wrote.

    A decision that seems out of step with the bar on discrimination, upholding internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II, has never been overruled, but has been thoroughly discredited. Almost every justice who has opined on it has called it wrong. But one of those critics, Justice Antonin Scalia, has also said something like it could happen again. He used a Latin phrase that roughly translates as “in times of war, the laws fall silent.”

    Even so, any step that would both single out a group for classification and intrude on religion would face highly improbable odds before the Supreme Court.

    GOV. MIKE PENCE of Indiana: “Last week, one of the terrorists who perpetrated the attacks in Paris exploited the European Union’s refugee system to gain entrance to France.

    THE FACTS: That may turn out to be so, but Pence’s conclusion – widely shared by lawmakers who pressed for a suspension of Obama’s program for Syrians – is ahead of the established facts.

    Most of the known attackers were French or Belgian. Authorities are still investigating whether one may have come from Syria with refugees and whether any tie exists between the masses flowing into Europe and the terrorists who carried out the assault.

    Associated Press writers Mark Sherman, Deb Riechmann and Alicia A. Caldwell in Washington and Jill Colvin in Spartanburg, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

    The post Fact-checking the week in political claims on terror appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Minors who enter the United States alone and without proper documents face a circuitous path when seeking relief after they are stopped and detained by U.S. immigration officials.

    Unlike in criminal court proceedings, the federal government is not required to provide lawyers to defendants in immigration court who cannot afford them — not even children, meaning many undocumented minors are left to navigate the daunting legal network alone.

    And that’s tough work, considering legal scholars have criticized U.S. immigration laws for being more complex than U.S. tax codes.

    “It would be impossible for many unaccompanied minors who have a language barrier and are completely unfamiliar with the legal system in the United States to be able to represent to the court the reasons why they’re eligible for any relief whatsoever,” said Rachael De Chacón, an attorney in New York.

    tumblr_nxigexVSpf1qd9bz1o1_540

    Graphic by Lisa Overton/NewsHour Weekend

    In 2015, more than 19,000 unaccompanied immigrants under age 21 filed new requests to stay in the U.S., and of that share, 62 percent didn’t have a lawyer, according to researchers at Syracuse University.

    Naturally, having adequate legal representation makes a big difference before a judge.

    Last year, 73 percent of immigrants under 21 with lawyers were allowed to stay, versus only 15 percent of children without lawyers.

    For that lot, sometimes the only recourse is to rely on total strangers for help. And sometimes, that help comes through.

    See our full report on the thousands of unaccompanied, undocumented minors fleeing brutal violence in Central America and attempting to enter the US:

    The post Once alone and undocumented, teen finds family in immigration court appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A soldier stands guard on the roof before the arrival of Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita at the Radisson hotel in Bamako, Mali, November 21, 2015,  following an attack by  Islamist militants. REUTERS/Joe Penney      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1V5GD

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    MEGAN THOMPSON, PBS NEWSHOUR: Authorities in the West African nation of Mali say armed Islamic terrorists killed 19 people in yesterday’s attack on a Radisson Hotel in the capital city of Bamako.

    Among the victims were hotel guests from Russia, China, Belgium, Israel, and one American: 41-year-old Anita Datar, a mother of a seven-year-old boy, from Maryland. She was a global health worker who previously volunteered for the Peace Corps.

    After a seven hour standoff, Malian soldiers killed both attackers, who had been holding 170 people as hostages. A group linked to al Qaeda has claimed responsibility.

    Joining me now via Skype to discuss this is Wall Street Journal reporter Drew Hinshaw, who is in Ghana, just south of Mali.

    Drew, can you tell us, what’s the latest on the investigation into this attack?

    DREW HINSHAW, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, two groups that were both aligned with al Qaeda but competed amongst themselves have taken credit for it. One is al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which is sort of a decades old group based in northern Mali.

    The other is a group that is commanded by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who most Americans will remember as the Algerian jihadist who engineered the raid at a gas plant, a BP gas plant, in Algeria in 2013.

    Those two groups have taken credit for it. It seems credible. A flag from one of the groups is found on the premises. Al Qaeda leaders in the country have been threatening attacks on France for weeks if not months.

    So, that seems to be legitimate. I know a lot of people kind of right after the fact thought — is this related to Paris?

    But the al Qaeda war against France has been going on for quite some time and it seems to really stem closely from that.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Can you just tell us a little bit more about that?

    DREW HINSHAW: Sure. For roughly a decade, al Qaeda made its money in this part of the world by kidnapping European hostages, and the French were a big part of that. In 2010, al Qaeda beheaded a French aid worker in a way that kind of foretold ISIS.

    Nicolas Sarkozy at the time was president of France. He lashed out and said we’re at war with al Qaeda, and al Qaeda responded that, “we’re going to take you to the gates of hell”, and there was some kind of propaganda back and forth.

    In 2012, al Qaeda conquered the north of Mali, which is a huge, vast terrain. And in January, 2013, France intervened to try to stop that and try to rescue small towns like Timbuktu from the control of al Qaeda militants.

    Ever since then, the French have been tracking jihadists and killing quite a lot of them with airstrikes. And jihadists have been striking back.

    They kidnapped — Boko Haram kidnapped a French family. And north of Cameroon, al Qaeda struck a French uranium mine in Niger. There’s been a lot of kidnappings.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: There was also a Boko Haram suicide attack in Cameroon today. So, what does all of this tell us about how complex the fight is against Islamic extremism in Africa?

    DREW HINSHAW: It’s sort of an old trope in counterterrorism. It’s a bit of whack-a-mole here.

    French troops are in Central Africa Republican. They’re in Niger. They’re in Cameroon. They’re in Chad. They’re still in the Ivory Coast.

    There’s a longstanding base in Senegal. They’re all over the north of Mali, which is the size of France. The country as a whole is twice the size of France.

    This is a huge, vast distance, and it’s really hard for me to see how France or even a small number of Western countries can police the world’s largest desert.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Drew Hinshaw of The Wall Street Journal, thank you so much for joining us.

    DREW HINSHAW: Thank you, too.

    The post The latest on the Mali hotel attack appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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