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

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    Student loan debt plagues our nation. Totaling around $1.3 trillion dollars, it’s no wonder that it’s called a crisis. Millennials are putting off marriage and starting families because of it, and young entrepreneurs are holding back on starting businesses.

    But what if there were something to take the edge off that 10-year (or 20-year) monkey on your back?

    A Boston startup called Gradifi wants to do just that — by having your boss foot part of the bill. (Yes, you read that right.) Under Gradifi’s Student Loan Paydown plan, your employer would pay up to $250 every month toward your student loans.

    Think of it this way: If you have $35,000 in student loan debt (the average for college graduates today), you will end up paying back a total of $42,000 on a 10-year payment plan with a 4.5 percent interest rate (the average federal loan rate today). If an employer contributes $100 a month for six years or so, that contribution takes 2.5 years or 25 percent off the loan. This means that a 22-year-old who was originally looking at being in debt until 32 will now be debt-free by 29.

    OK, so this sounds pretty great, but there must be a caveat, right? What’s in it for the employer?

    Well, it’s you. Companies are always trying to come up with ways to attract and retain talent. Turnover and recruiting are big expenses, and, according to Gradifi’s founder and CEO Tim DeMello, are more costly for employers than it would be to contribute toward employees’ student loans. And while many companies try to lure workers with attractive retirement benefits like 401(k)s, companies are finding that most recent graduates are more concerned with immediate needs like paying off their soul-crushing student debt.

    I reported on Gradifi for PBS member station WGBH’s local news and analysis program Greater Boston, hosted by Jim Braude. Watch the report above for a closer look on how Gradifi works and whether it’s really a pie in the sky or an innovative solution to tackling student loan debt.

    The post One startup’s solution to your student loan debt appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Ahmed Mohamed spoke to the media in September about his arrest. Ahmed’s family is demanding $15 million total in damages and written apologies from the city of Irving, Texas, and the 14-year-old student’s former school district. Video by PBS NewsHour

    The family of Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old student from Irving, Texas, who was arrested after his homemade clock was mistaken for a hoax bomb, is demanding $15 million in damages and written apologies from two of the city’s leaders.

    A lawyer for the family, Kelly D. Hollingsworth, sent letters to both the Texas city of Irving and its school district, listing several ways the teenager was “singled out because of his race, national origin, and religion.” The letters said Mohamed’s family is seeking $10 million in compensation from the city of Irving and $5 million dollars from the school district, Irving ISD.

    “Let’s face it; if Ahmed’s clock were ‘Jennifer’s clock,’ and if the pencil case were ruby red bedazzled with a clear rhinestone skull and crossbones on the cover, this would never have happened,” the letters added.

    The letters add that the school and city officials mishandled the situation and not necessarily because of oversight or incompetence.

    “The school and city officials involved knew what they needed to do to protect Ahmed’s right,” the letters said. “They just decided not to do it.”

    Video by The Dallas Morning News

    Among the claims the letters make: that police illegally questioned Mohamed without his parents present; school officials tried to force a confession out of Mohamed even when the teenager repeatedly claimed his invention was only a clock; and after news of his arrest and detainment went viral, officials decided to “trash” him to the media.

    Mohamed’s family also want written apologies specifically from Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne and Police Chief Larry Boyd within 60 days, or a civil action will be filed. Van Duyne, who’s celebrated by anti-Muslim groups, sat down for an interview in September with Glenn Beck, a former Fox News host who said Mohamed’s arrest was part of a plan to further a “civilization jihad.”

    “Beck later opined that this was the ‘Islamists’ conspiracy to soften us up, so that we could later be attacked from inside,” the letters said. “When the guest sitting less than an arm’s length from Mayor Van Duyne called the pencil box a ‘briefcase,’ she did not say a word. She just nodded,” the letters added

    Mohamed’s family decided to move to Qatar in October, so that the teenager could accept a full scholarship at the city’s innovation school, but to also distance the family from the flood of Islamophobia online that targeted the boy.

    “Ahmed has suffered severe psychological trauma during his involuntarily separation from his grandmother and extended family,” the letters said, adding that the many threatening emails he received made him fear for his physical safety.

    “In the long-term, we adults should know that — despite Ahmed’s efforts to be strong, and to prove that he is ‘a good boy’ — he will experience pain and suffering as result of this for the rest of his days,” the letters said.

    The school district told Reuters that they would ready a response after they reviewed the letter. City officials, Reuters said, were not immediately available for comment.

    Read the full letters below:

    City of Irving Demand Letter

    Irving ISD Demand Letter

    The post Family of student arrested for homemade clock seeks $15M in damages, apologies appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Simple One-Sheet Thanksgiving Dinner. Photo by Leanne Brown.

    Simple One-Sheet Thanksgiving Dinner. Photo by Leanne Brown.

    Editor’s Note: Leanne Brown, the author of ‘Good and Cheap’ on how to eat well on $4 a day, developed a recipe for the PBS NewsHour and anyone who is cooking for just a few people this Thanksgiving and wants to keep the meal simple and inexpensive.

    Simple One-Sheet Thanksgiving Dinner

    These are all my favorite things about Thanksgiving on one pan. Maximum deliciousness with minimal fuss and worry. Of course I am not advocating that you shouldn’t make the effort for a more involved meal, but if you’re just cooking for a few, consider simplifying so you have more time to visit and enjoy one another.

    Serves 4, or 2 VERY HUNGRY people

    6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, chopped
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, chopped
    ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
    2 2 pound turkey drumsticks, at room temperature
    olive oil or butter, for greasing
    salt and pepper
    1 pound baby potatoes
    1 pound sweet potato
    head of garlic
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 pound brussels sprouts

    Set the oven to 400 degrees.

    In a small bowl mash three tablespoons of the butter with the rosemary, sage and paprika.

    Prepare each drumstick: Using either your hands or a sharp knife, loosen the skin and pull it away from the rest of the turkey. Poke a few small holes under the skin of the turkey leg all over .

    Using your hands, spread the butter-herb mixture on the turkey legs, being sure to press the butter into the holes you made and get it underneath and on top of the skin.

    Grease a sheet pan with olive oil or butter, and lay the turkey legs on top.

    Cover with aluminum foil, and roast for 45 minutes.

    While the turkey roasts, prepare your vegetables. Chop the baby potatoes and sweet potato into bite-size pieces. Melt the remaining three tablespoons of butter and pour it all over the potatoes and sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss to coat, and set aside.

    Cut the top off of a whole head of garlic so that the cloves are all exposed. Pour one tablespoon of olive oil all over the garlic.

    When the turkey drumsticks have cooked for 45 minutes, pull them out, and remove the aluminum foil. Add the garlic and potatoes to the pan, nestling them around the drumsticks. Cook for 25 minutes.

    Scrub the Brussels sprouts, taking off any outer leaves that are too wilted or dirty. Chop off the root and slice them in half. Toss them into a bowl and pour the remaining one tablespoon of melted butter over the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

    Pull the sheet pan out of the oven after the garlic and potatoes have cooked for 25 minutes, and add the brussel sprouts to the pan, spreading them evenly among the other vegetables. Cook for another 20 minutes.

    Pull the sheet pan out of the oven and test to see if the turkey is cooked through. It should be golden, light red and crispy. If you have a digital thermometer, poke it into the thickest part of the meat. If it reads 180 F it is fully cooked. If it is lower, put it back in the oven for a few more minutes. If you don’t have a thermometer, make a small cut in the meat. If the juices run clear, then the meat is fully cooked.

    Test to see if the vegetables are soft enough. If not, put them back in the oven for a few more minutes. You may need to adjust cooking times depending on the size of your cut vegetables or turkey legs. Just make sure everything is cooked!

    Let the turkey and vegetables rest for about 10 minutes. Once the garlic is cool enough to handle, remove it from the sheet pan and gently squeeze the roasted garlic from the skins onto a cutting board. Mash it into a paste.

    Scoop the vegetables into a bowl and add the roasted garlic paste. Toss them together to coat. Taste them and add more salt and pepper if needed. They should be very flavorful from the spices, garlic, and turkey juices

    Slice up the drumsticks and enjoy!

    Leftover tip: Cut the turkey meat away from the bone and chop it into small pieces. Warm a little oil or butter to a pan on medium heat, then cook the turkey and vegetables to heat through. Crack a couple of eggs into the mixture and toss and scramble until the eggs are cooked. Thanksgiving hash!

    The post Cooking for just a few? Thanksgiving dinner in one pan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GWEN IFILL: A professor from Upstate New York is using technology to transform the world, especially for young people in need of limbs.

    He shares his experience in his own words as part of this trip down innovation trail, a series of reports on the economy and technology in Upstate New York.

    This report was produced by WXXI in Rochester.

    JON SCHULL, Rochester Institute of Technology: I’m Jon Schull. I’m a research scientist here at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where I’m in the Center for Magic. RIT is a center for media, arts, games, interaction and creativity, where I run a lab on access and collaboration technology, which is how I got started founding an organization called e-NABLE — e-NABLE.

    And what we do is, we make mechanical hands for children who are missing fingers using 3-D printers, and we give them away for free. Just like printing a document, you press print and the 3-D printer starts building this object that you designed on the screen by putting down tiny thin layers of plastic like a glue gun, layer by layer by layer, building it up to make the thing.

    A prosthetic arm these days costs about $40,000. One in 2,000 kids are born with some kind of an arm or hand abnormality. They don’t get prosthetics because it makes no sense to spend $40,000 on something they’re going to outgrow in a year. With a 3-D printer, we can start making these things almost for nothing.

    Instead of $40,000, you can do it with about $10 or $20 worth of plastic. And it’s not as sturdy as a $40,000 titanium artificial arm. On the other hand, if you outgrow it or break it, you can make another.

    One of the interesting things about this project is that the kids that we’re making these hands for are becoming inventors and designers in their own right.

    I was working with Derek a few months ago. And I was showing him this artificial arm that we are working on and explaining that we needed kids to work with us as test pilots and as collaborators. And while I’m talking to him, he put two of these models together and he said, “I would like my arm to be this long.”

    So, Derek now has an arm which is extra long. He can pick things up off the floor without bending over and he can reach to the highest shelf, higher than his classmates, because he has got an extra long arm, the so-called Derek Arm, which just goes to show that 7-year-olds and 9-year-olds can play a really important role helping us invent the solutions for other kids and other grownups in the future.

    You know, disability is a funny word. Disability means you can’t do something. It’s not a disease, and it’s not even a property of a person. A person doesn’t have a disability. A person has a disability if he’s in a world where he can’t do something.

    If I didn’t have glasses in a world in which there’s lot of fine print, I would be disabled. As it is, I’m just a guy who wears glasses.

    The technology of eyeglasses turned nearsightedness and farsightedness into a nuisance, when it used to be a disability. New technology is going to turn things like you’re missing a hand or you can’t move your body or you have brain damage into a nuisance, rather than a disability.

    Editor’s Note: Jon Schull’s name was incorrectly spelled as Schull.

    The post 3-D printers put limb prosthetics for kids in reach appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Smoke raises behind an Islamic State flag after Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters took control of Saadiya in Diyala province from Islamist State militants, November 24, 2014. Iraqi forces said on Sunday they retook two towns north of Baghdad from Islamic State fighters, driving them from strongholds they had held for months and clearing a main road from the capital to Iran. There was no independent confirmation that the army, Shi'ite militia and Kurdish peshmerga forces had completely retaken Jalawla and Saadiya, about 115 km (70 miles) northeast of Baghdad. Many residents fled the violence long ago. At least 23 peshmerga and militia fighters were killed and dozens were wounded in Sunday's fighting, medical and army sources said.  REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT MILITARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR4FED5

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight, we return to the challenge of ISIS, but this time to a look at its beginnings.

    The story is told in a new book, “Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS.”

    Author Joby Warrick has covered national security and the Middle East for The Washington Post. He talked with Jeffrey Brown at this weekend’s Miami Book Fair.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Welcome to you.

    JOBY WARRICK, Author, “Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS”: Thank you, Jeffrey.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Could not be more current, of course.

    We will get to current events, but you are, in this book, looking at the backstory of what led to today.

    JOBY WARRICK: Yes.

    I think a lot of people — to a lot of people, that ISIS seemed to come out of nowhere last year. And the truth is, there is a very long and complicated story behind this organization. It’s quite different from al-Qaida. It’s always been a different stripe, but its story goes back into prisons in Jordan in the 1990s and with individuals who became radicalized and became very different from this message of al-Qaida about sort of driving out their Western powers from the Middle East.

    But they wanted to create a caliphate, this powerful idea.

    (CROSSTALK)

    JEFFREY BROWN: From the beginning?

    JOBY WARRICK: From the beginning. It was kind of something that morphed as they went along, but the idea was to do something here and now, not worry about far enemies, not worry about the Western powers, but try to create this holy state, this holy empire.

    JEFFREY BROWN: As with al-Qaida, it began, though, in jails, in prisons, right, with a small core?

    JOBY WARRICK: Yes. That is interesting, because a lot of the founders of al-Qaida, as you say, Zawahri and others, came out of Egyptian prisons.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Egyptian prisons, right?

    JOBY WARRICK: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes, also Jordan.

    JOBY WARRICK: The same pedigree and some of the same sort of beliefs and sort of radicalization process was fairly similar.

    JEFFREY BROWN: A lot of confusion and uncertainty about its history. A lot of confusion about what just it is. How do you define ISIS?

    JOBY WARRICK: Well, ISIS, you know, it’s interesting, in that it’s a group that sort of latches on to a few central themes that identify it.

    One is this idea of creating the caliphate as sort of the immediate and also long-term goal. This is something they want to do. And there is also this embracing of violence for its own sake. This is not strategic violence sometimes, but it’s just to shock and awe or to horrify.

    And they use violence and they use media very deliberately to intimidate to enemies and also to excite their base to get other radicals to join their movement and to help them.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So when we see the beheadings, of course, we see the destroying ancient sites, those are for effect?

    JOBY WARRICK: Yes, there is a message there.

    They’re not trying to win hearts and minds of people around the world and not even the Muslim community. They’re looking at provoking. And that’s what they’re very good at doing.

    JEFFREY BROWN: How did they get from — the story you’re telling is how they got from Jordan prisons to an international organization.

    JOBY WARRICK: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Was there a key moment along the way when — that you can now look back and say, OK, now this is the real beginning of this group?

    JOBY WARRICK: There’s a key individual. And there’s a terrorist whose name was Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who was a Jordanian terrorist, a fairly minor figure, but he ends up becoming important for two reasons.

    One was because the United States, the Bush administration in particular, decided to make him kind of a poster child for this connection between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein. They picked on some very flimsy evidence that suggested a connection. And they actually put his picture in front of the United Nations in 2003 arguing for invasion of Iraq.

    Turns out the evidence was wrong, he had nothing to do with Saddam Hussein. He had nothing to do really with al-Qaida, but it was — it made him famous. It gave him a platform. Suddenly, he became an international hero in the jihadist community.

    And then immediately after that, the invasion takes place. Zarqawi moves into Iraq and starts this insurgency, which really becomes the force that almost drove the U.S. to defeat in Iraq.

    JEFFREY BROWN: This is part of — a big part of the stories, the actions or misactions of the U.S. and other Western governments. Were those — that kind of thing an act of omission or commission, or how do you see it?

    JOBY WARRICK: Yes.

    There’s multiple acts of commission I think in the early days, and it was not just the invasion itself, which gives people like Zarqawi a platform and a reason to call others like him around the world to help out. But also there was a security vacuum that emerged in Iraq in the early days, where the Baathists are disbanded, the army is sent home.

    And so Zarqawi, this fanatic, has sort of a willing army of Iraqis ready to help him. And, together, they sort of blend the fanaticism and the military and bureaucrat professionals ends up becoming this force called al-Qaida in Iraq, and that is the core of what is now ISIS. It’s the same group today.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And then stir in the Syrian civil war.

    JOBY WARRICK: Absolutely.

    So, actually, toward the late 2000s, Zarqawi’s movement was on its heels. Zarqawi himself was killed. They were kind of driven underground. There was no real sense that they had any future. Then Arab spring happens. Then the Syrian civil war takes place. And suddenly there’s a whole new opportunity. They essentially get their rebirth in the ashes of the Syrian state.

    JEFFREY BROWN: One of the key questions now, of course, is how organized is ISIS? Who is — is it centrally run or are these cells out there?

    JOBY WARRICK: Well, they do have this powerful central organization. It’s remarkable to me to see how good they are at things like logistics, how good they are at getting supplies and moving recruits to various places, getting suicide bombers to take on these incredible missions.

    But, also, they are very good at inspiring people in other parts of the world to kind of take up the same mantle. And we don’t always know how well-connected some of the local groups are to ISIS central. There is clearly at least some messaging through propaganda and some actual coordination as well.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Messaging through propaganda?

    JOBY WARRICK: Yes.

    So, ISIS — for example, this recent Paris attack, so this individual Abdelhamid Abaaoud in Paris, who is the ringleader of the attack, he gets sort of chided publicly by ISIS’ propaganda ministers in Syria, saying, do something in Paris, these Westerners have to pay for the things they’re doing do us.

    And so that becomes, we think, part of what drove him to commit this crime.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You used the word chided. That’s an interesting…

    JOBY WARRICK: Yes. There was this…

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s not order. It’s not like could you — why don’t you — chiding?

    JOBY WARRICK: Yes. There may be some of that too.

    But it feels like there is almost some shaming that goes on, and you see this repeatedly by ISIS central in their propaganda messages. They used their videos which they put out publicly to call upon jihadis in Paris, do something. You know, do anything.

    And they make the same message for like-minded people in America and Russia and other places like that, kind of egging or goading local affiliates to take action.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Did anything about Paris surprise you?

    JOBY WARRICK: You know what? We weren’t totally surprised that they would lash out outside the region. Their focus has mostly been Syria and Iraq, because they have their hands full right now.

    They’re being attacked from multiple sides. Everybody is bombing them. You have the Syrians and the Kurds — Syrian Arabs and Kurds coming after them on the ground.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the book is “Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS.”

    Joby Warrick, thanks so much.

    JOBY WARRICK: Thank you, Jeff.

    The post How the Islamic State rose from prison to be a global group appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert Monday due to increased terrorist threats around the world. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Reuters

    The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert Monday due to increased terrorist threats around the world. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Americans should be alert to the possible travel risks, especially during the holidays, following increased terrorist threats around the world, the State Department warned on Monday.

    A travel alert, which is to be in effect until Feb. 24, said current information suggests that militants with the Islamic State, al-Qaida, Boko Haram and other terrorist groups continue to plan attacks in multiple regions. U.S. authorities said the likelihood of terror attacks will continue as members of IS return from Syria and Iraq, and other individuals not affiliated with terror groups engage in violence on their own.

    Extremists have targeted sporting events, theaters, open markets and aviation targets. In the past year, there have been multiple attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Lebanon, Turkey and Mali. IS has claimed responsibility for the Oct. 31 bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt, killing 224 people.

    “U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation,” the alert said. “Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places. Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events.”

    The State Department said the U.S. is exchanging information with allies about threats of international terrorism.

    The travel alert was issued the same day that Belgium’s prime minister announced that Brussels would remain at the highest alert level for at least another week. The increased security measures following the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people have virtually shut down the Belgian capital.

    The post U.S. issues travel warning following terror attacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    AMERICAN GRADUATE EARLY ENGLISH horizontal monitor blank

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Last week, we took you to a middle school in Houston that’s trying to bridge the education gap for refugee children newly arrived in the U.S.

    Tonight, we return to Texas to examine another program that’s helping some of the state’s youngest newcomers learn English.

    April Brown has our American Graduate report, a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    APRIL BROWN: Charlie Lewong may be short on English skills right now, but he’s giving it his best shot. Charlie, whose family speaks Vietnamese at home, has just created his own medieval world inside this classroom at the Gabriela Mistral Center for Early Childhood in Houston.

    At 4 years old, Charlie is already working on his second language. And that’s even before he has mastered his first. It’s something he has in common with nearly all of the kids he goes to school with.

    LORI ESPINOZA, Gabriela Mistral Center for Early Childhood: What is he doing?

    STUDENT: He’s getting the keys.

    MARY JO BROOKS: This classroom is where Lori Espinoza brings stories to life, as her pre-K students are eager to go along for the ride.

    Espinoza teaches at the school’s OWL Lab, the Oral and Written Language Laboratory, which uses storytelling and dramatic play to get kids talking. It builds on research that shows a storytelling curriculum can significantly improve vocabulary and literacy. That’s especially important for students whose families don’t speak language at home, where language skills first develop.

    LORI ESPINOZA: We have like over 20 languages represented in our school. Children here speak English, Spanish, Italian, Arabic.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Because these youngsters are new to school and many new to the country, the classroom is designed so kids feel safe and comfortable.

    LORI ESPINOZA: The classroom looks super homey. That’s intentional. We have wicker baskets. We have nice carpets that are a warm feeling, because we want children to come in and feel like this could be their living room, so the children feel more at ease and more like they’re just hanging out with family.

    DEBBIE PAZ, Rice University: We know that oral language is the foundation for everything that will happen later on. It’s what they will need for reading and writing later on.

    APRIL BROWN: Debbie Paz is the associate director of early literacy and bilingual programs at Houston’s Rice University, which worked with the school to create the OWL Lab five years ago.

    DEBBIE PAZ: So, if we fill the room with things that get them excited that they want talk to us about, there’s more of a chance that we’re going to develop those language skills.

    APRIL BROWN: Different stations around the room allow children to make choices about what to do and many encourage them to explore different ways to tell a story. Goldilocks and the Three Bears, for example, can be acted out with costumes and props in one area.

    WOMAN: Mama bear made some hot porridge.

    APRIL BROWN: Or with little dolls in a somewhat miniature home.

    LORI ESPINOZA: A huge component of this room is giving children enough freedom, enough things that they want to do, so that they can build that self-regulation. And so I think that independence is huge. Their self-esteem gets higher and their motivation to learn goes up.

    APRIL BROWN: One station in particular builds on the first word many children learn through what’s called environmental print, like the names of restaurants or stores.

    LORI ESPINOZA: That’s the print that’s all over the place, that is just plastered on walls, science room buildings, everywhere. That may not be intentionally placed there for children to read, but it’s there.

    APRIL BROWN: On their regular visitation days, the school shares lessons with parents on how to use those words to get kids talking. Debbie Paz says parents are also encouraged to share their own stories about the culture in their homeland or how they made the journey to America, whether or not they speak English.

    DEBBIE PAZ: They’re not necessarily readers and writers, but they want — they have a story to tell. And they want you to hear that story, because it’s something that they’re proud of.

    APRIL BROWN: And you hope their children tell the stories too.

    DEBBIE PAZ: Exactly. Exactly.

    APRIL BROWN: Four-year-old Sujon is Gursharam Salh’s second daughter to spend time in this classroom. Salh says after visiting the OWL Lab, Sujon now has much higher expectations for story time at home.

    GURSHARAM SALH, Parent: Making your voice high or low, that is not good enough. They want you to like go around the room and do walks around and actions.

    APRIL BROWN: The OWL Lab was never intended to benefit only students at this school. Because it’s a laboratory, many teachers from all over the Houston Independent School District come here to learn these techniques. Some come in for short professional development sessions and others, like Carin Malmer, visit regularly as part of Rice University’s Early Literacy Leadership Academy.

    On this day, Malmer came in to learn new ways to get parents involved and excited about their children’s education.

    CARIN MALMER, Teacher, Barbara Bush Elementary School: Parents have a really important role in the child’s education. And so, with this program and with things that I’m learning with the early literacy program, I want to bring them and make them feel important as well as feel comfortable to volunteer.

    APRIL BROWN: Of course, the W. in OWL Lab stands for writing. And children write their stories, with adults taking dictation.

    LORI ESPINOZA: You just see children just so willing to take risk, so excited to learn language, so excited to share stories in their home language and even attempt it in English for those English-language learners.

    APRIL BROWN: English-language learners like Charlie, who Espinoza says couldn’t speak a record of it when he came to school.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m April Brown in Houston.

    PBS NewsHour education coverage is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    The post Telling stories helps refugee children learn a new language appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    LIFE AFTER EBOLA mon ebola virus image

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    GWEN IFILL: we turn to the search for a treatment for Ebola.

    West Africa is still dealing with the aftermath of the worst outbreak of the disease in recorded history. Last week, Liberia reported a handful of new cases, just months after the World Health Organization said the country was free of the disease.

    And this weekend, not one, but two panels said the WHO needs to substantially reform and change the way it deals with international health crises.

    Special correspondent Mary Jo Brooks has a report on the hunt to finally stop the virus.

    MARY JO BROOKS: It looks like an ordinary greenhouse filled with plants basking under light, but at this facility just outside Owensboro, Kentucky, the plants themselves have become a labor force, working around the clock to manufacture a cure for Ebola.

    HUGH HAYDON, CEO, Kentucky Bioprocessing: These plants are 27 days old.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Three days earlier, these plants were injected with a genetic blueprint for one of three antibodies used in the experimental drug ZMapp.

    Hugh Haydon of Kentucky Bioprocessing explains how it works.

    HUGH HAYDON: The plant recognizes that gene and its machinery turns on and it starts to manufacture that protein for us. And it’s really that simple. It becomes a little bitty factory.

    MARY JO BROOKS: ZMapp was still in the developmental stage when Ebola first broke out in West Africa in March of 2014. The disease has since claimed more than 10,000 victims. But a handful of people were successfully tweeted with ZMapp, including Dr. Kent Brantly.

    DR. KENT BRANTLY, Ebola Survivor: Today is a miraculous day. I am thrilled to be alive, to be well and to be reunited with my family.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Since then, the drug has being undergoing clinical trials in West Africa and the FDA has granted it fast-track approval status.

    Larry Zeitlin and Kevin Whaley are the scientists from San Diego who developed the ZMapp antibodies, which were designed to quickly attack the Ebola virus.

    KEVIN WHALEY, Inventor of ZMapp: In a vaccine, you give a person a protein that stimulates your own body to make antibodies. In this case, we’re giving antibodies directly to you, so your body doesn’t have to make them.

    LARRY ZEITLIN, Inventor of ZMapp: And unlike the vaccine, where it takes you weeks to months to build up protective immunity, as soon as the antibodies are provided to the patients, they’re protected against that disease.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Speed is the name of the game in fighting infectious disease. And it is the reason that Whaley and Zeitlin decided to manufacture their drug using plants, rather than the traditional animal protein method.

    They chose an Australian relative the American tobacco plant in a process that is quick and relatively simple. Just three weeks after the seeds go into the soil, the plants are mature enough to be dipped into a liquid which contains proteins to be replicated.

    The plants grow those proteins for another week, and then are harvested and chopped up. The resulting green liquid is filtered and tested and, by day 40, it’s ready to be shipped out.

    HUGH HAYDON: It’s a very fast system. And if it’s faster, it costs a little bit less on the front end particularly. It gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of developing a product.

    You get your protein. You look at your protein. Is it what you wanted? If it doesn’t have the exact characteristics that you want, you do it again. You reengineer it and do it again until you get exactly where you want to be.

    MARY JO BROOKS: The system of biofarming could be useful for a number of drug therapies that must ramp up production quickly. The Canadian company Medicago uses tobacco plants to manufacture flu vaccine, which needs to change seasonally.

    At its large greenhouse in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, workers and robots tend to the growing plants.

    DR. MICHAEL SCHUNK, Vice President of Operations, Medicago: They produce the vaccine over about a week.

    MARY JO BROOKS: So it’s a very quick, efficient process.

    DR. MICHAEL SCHUNK: It’s very quick, very efficient, very adaptable.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Michael Schunk is the vice president of operations.

    DR. MICHAEL SCHUNK: This plant technology can respond in about half the time of the traditional flu manufacturing technologies, so that’s what started us into the flu, and we have just continued to grow with that.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Medicago is in the final stage of clinical trials to receive FDA approval for its flu vaccine. Once granted, the company says it will be able to make 30 million doses a year. It has also begun producing an Ebola drug similar to ZMapp.

    Both Medicago and Kentucky Bioprocessing received Defense Department money to develop their pharmaceuticals. The hope is that the technology could be used to quickly counter a pandemic or bioterrorism attack.

    DR. MICHAEL SCHUNK: This facility is about 27,000 square feet.

    MARY JO BROOKS: But Michael Schunk says the technology holds promise for all kinds of drugs. He’s especially optimistic that developing nations will use this method to manufacture vaccines on their own soil, since the cost of building the facilities is much less than traditional drug factories.

    DR. MICHAEL SCHUNK: This is not a very complicated technology. It’s certainly transportable. Every country has greenhouses, so every country has the potential to have a facility that can be used to produce vaccines that maybe are more a concern to that particular country.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Schunk and other biofarming proponents predict that soon drugs to treat herpes, HIV, MRSA, and other infectious diseases will routinely be grown in plants. Of course, the irony of using a version of tobacco to save lives is not lost on anyone, including Hugh Haydon.

    HUGH HAYDON: There is some irony. There is no question about that.

    But what our business is about and what we have — what we have always been about is using the plant to create things and to do positive things. Our focus has been biopharmaceuticals and using the plant to yield those kind of proteins. And it works really well for that.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Biopharmaceuticals, plants that one day could be used routinely to wipe out infectious diseases.

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    Republican presidential candidate U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire on April 17, 2015. In a campaign speech on Saturday Rubio called Vladimir Putin a criminal, and spoke about his parents' immigrant experience. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

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    GWEN IFILL: The debate over what role the U.S. should play in the fight against ISIS has also become central to the 2016 campaign. But how are the candidates talking about it?

    Political director Lisa Desjardins reports.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Welcome to campaign national security, with the Islamic State group at the center.

    SEN. MARCO RUBIO, Republican Presidential Candidate: They are growing. They’re in Afghanistan. ISIS is now on the ground in Afghanistan recruiting Taliban fighters away from the Taliban. They’re radical killers. And either they win or we win.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Many candidates, like Marco Rubio today in Iowa, are pouncing on fears about ISIS to flex ideological and political muscle. Republicans in particular have strong motivation. In a new ABC/”Washington Post” poll, when asked for their top issue, just 18 percent of voters who lean Democratic named terrorism. The number was more than twice as high, 42 percent, for those leaning Republican.

    Both volume and controversy are increasing. Speaking in Alabama over the weekend, Donald Trump tried to connect American Muslims with 9/11.

    DONALD TRUMP, Republican Presidential Candidate: I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Sunday, Trump was challenged on that point by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC News: You know, the police say that didn’t happen. And all those rumors have been on the Internet for some time. So did you misspeak yesterday?

    DONALD TRUMP: It did happen. I saw it. It was on television. I saw it.

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You saw that with your own eyes?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Fellow candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said Sunday he did not remember Muslims celebrating 9/11 in his state.

    There is mistrust and concern. But it is also complicated. In a new CBS poll of Iowa Republicans, 74 percent supported sending ground troops to fight ISIS, but less than half said the Paris attacks have any influence on their vote.

    Meanwhile, Democrats like Hillary Clinton are using foreign policy and Republican’s rhetoric on refugees as their own foil. She tweeted out over the weekend: “Our values are stronger than fear. Slamming the door on refugees isn’t who we are.”

    The war against ISIS is hitting familiar lines in the debate over national security.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Lisa Desjardins.

    GWEN IFILL: So, it’s Politics Monday.

    Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR are here to talk about it all.

    Let’s start with where Hillary Clinton left off, talking about basically the politics of fear. How much of that is a major feature now of this campaign, Amy?

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Well, I think we’re definitely hearing a lot more about it because it’s in the news right now.

    And yet, at the same time, what we know about this campaign is that what Republicans are talking about and what’s really important to them in their primary is very different from what Democrats say is really important to them. The issue of terrorism and security has always been an important issue for Republicans, even before these attacks in Paris. It’s now, of course, taking more import.

    Among Democrats, the economy, health care always a more important issue. I think terrorism will move up there now, but not to the extent it is with Republicans. And on the issue of Syrian refugees, you ask Republicans how they feel about it, 80 percent say, we don’t want them here at all; 65 percent of Democrats say, we should bring them in, so just two entirely different worlds.

    GWEN IFILL: There is definitely an us vs. them theme emerging that is in this campaign, at least right this moment. Who’s playing it best or the most, I should say?

    TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Well, certainly, people like Donald Trump is — is playing it up big time. Ben Carson is also playing into that.

    But even Marco Rubio came out with an ad where he very clearly said this is a fight of civilizations, this is between the left and our ideals and Islamic extremism on the other side, of course, using the term Islamic extremism and also at the end of that ad saying they want to attack us because we want girls to go to school.

    GWEN IFILL: But we just saw what Amy said about the numbers; 83 percent of people in the CBS poll, I guess — CBS poll — fear an imminent attack. So maybe they’re speaking in a real way to voters’ fears in a way that counts.

    AMY WALTER: Well, what they’re speaking to right now definitely — and this is especially true among Republicans — is to a base that feels like this president has not done the job necessary to deal with terrorism, to deal with security in any way, and the frustration that they’re feeling that this has been sort of this wishy-washy foreign policy, there is no resolution, it’s all nebulous.

    That’s why when you hear Donald Trump coming out with the — this is what we’re going to do, we’re going to bomb the you-know-what out of ISIS, we just need to bomb the oil fields, it is going to be easy, we just need to be strong, it speaks to a Republican electorate that feels as if the president has sort of squandered away American power.

    TAMARA KEITH: And this at the same time that President Obama is saying, well, we just have to stay the course, we can intensify, but the strategy needs to remain the strategy.

    And that is not very satisfying. If you are afraid, if you saw the beheading videos before and you are seeing this violence in France, and you want something, then bomb the expletive deleted out of them is a lot more satisfying than, well, the strategy that many don’t agree with, we’re going to stick with it, but maybe intensify a little.

    GWEN IFILL: And, tonight, the State Department puts out a worldwide travel alert.

    Now we — how does that work, however, for Hillary Clinton, because she’s a former State Department — secretary of state, worked in the Obama administration? Yet polls say two things. One is that they think that she is strong. The other is that they don’t trust her.

    TAMARA KEITH: And those — she’s had a trust issue for a long time in her polling.

    She, I think, feels like — for whatever reason, feels like she is strongest when she is talking about economic issues, talking about empathizing with the concerns of families. She gave a big speech late last week about her plan for ISIS. She came out strong. She came out asking for more than President Obama wanted. She talked about no-fly zones in Syria. She talked about needing more special operations ground forces to maybe even call in airstrikes.

    So she went a little bit further than the president, but I think she would be perfectly happy, for whatever reason, mostly talking about domestic issues, in part because that’s where the Democratic electorate is.

    AMY WALTER: And, in part — I think’s that’s exactly right — and in part because there is not a good answer.

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    AMY WALTER: And we saw it in the debate, the last debate we had for the Democrats. When asked about ISIS, there wasn’t a really good answer out of Hillary Clinton. When asked about her role in Libya, there wasn’t a really good answer from Hillary Clinton.

    GWEN IFILL: But think about the conversation we’re actually having, especially on the Republican side, admittedly. We should bloom the bleep out of them, we should surveil mosques, we should track refugees.

    Compare that to what George W. Bush said the following week after 9/11, 2001. We have a little bit of it.

    FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it’s important for my fellow Americans to understand that. The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.

    GWEN IFILL: Now how things have changed, especially for a party which identified itself after its last election as its goal for the next election being more open and tolerant.

    AMY WALTER: Right.

    Now, to be fair, a lot of this energy right now is coming from one person, and that’s Donald Trump talking about mosques and talking about celebration in the streets of New Jersey when the towers came down. That didn’t really happen.

    (CROSSTALK)

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    AMY WALTER: But — so a lot of that is coming specifically from him.

    But I think, to a broader point, where you are hearing about a clash of civilizations, radical Islam, it is — I think it goes back at President Obama, and this real deep disdain, frustration, whatever you want to call it, probably deeper, stronger word than that, about the president’s handling of this issue, how he’s handled the Middle East, how he’s handled foreign policy.

    And I think that’s a lot of why the rhetoric that you heard from President Bush sounds very different from the rhetoric of the Republicans. And, remember, the Republican Party, hard to think, that was 2001, how much further to the right Republicans have moved and how much further to the left the Democrats have moved just in those 15 years.

    TAMARA KEITH: And there is also this element, though, that George W. Bush was the president. He was the leader of the Republican Party.

    These people are running for president. Those are very different motives. There’s very different things driving a presidential candidate and a president of the United States.

    GWEN IFILL: Is it also part — partly in the interest of some of these candidates to wind this into the immigration debate, something which has really worked for candidates like Donald Trump, but not only Donald Trump, also worked for Ted Cruz, also worked for Marco Rubio?

    AMY WALTER: Yes, there is definitely a message that is being sent that there are unsafe people out there, and if you put Democrats in charge, they are not going to keep you safe. Right?

    That’s the number one job that government is there to do. It’s the one thing that Republicans can agree on, that the role of government is to keep people safe. They disagree with a lot of the other roles of government, but that one, absolutely.

    And so what you’re going to see and the question I think that you were raising before is, how do you transition from this kind of rhetoric in a primary to going to a general election, where you do have to look presidential and unify the country?

    We hear over and over — I’m sure you do, too — from voters the frustration they have with the dysfunction in Washington, the frustration they have that we have a country that’s pulling apart. Who’s going to be the unifier?

    (CROSSTALK)

    GWEN IFILL: OK. Well, we didn’t even get to talk about the Louisiana governor’s race, but we will get back to that at another time.

    Amy Walter and Tamara Keith, thank you both very much.

    AMY WALTER: Thank you.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    The post Campaigns tap Islamic State fears by zeroing in on national security appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Shi'ite fighters launch a rocket during clashes with Islamic State militants on the outskirts of al-Alam March 8, 2015. Iraqi security forces and Shi?ite militia fighting the Islamic State took control of the center of a town on the southern outskirts of Saddam Hussein's home city Tikrit on Sunday, security officials said.  REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR4SJ5R

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    GWEN IFILL: So what should the U.S. do and what shouldn’t it do?

    We have two views. Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey served in the infantry, and he is now a distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute. And John Mearsheimer, a West Point graduate and former Air Force officer, he writes extensively on strategic issues and is a political science professor at the University of Chicago.

    Welcome to you both, gentlemen.

    JAMES JEFFREY, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy: Thank you.

    GWEN IFILL: Jim Jeffrey, let’s break this up into two parts, the military and diplomatic options. We hear a lot about boots on the ground, commitment of U.S. forces. Is that the only thing we should be thinking about? Is that where the debate is right now?

    JAMES JEFFREY: In terms of taking down ISIS as a state and as an army, we have to go on the offensive. That requires ground troops.

    We have tried for 15 months to create a set of ground troops from the units and entities and forces on the ground that we have. It isn’t working all that well. We don’t have the time to keep trying to do this. Some insertion of U.S. forces, both as advisers, special forces and some ground maneuver units are absolutely necessary to move this forward.

    GWEN IFILL: Quantify what you mean by some.

    JAMES JEFFREY: Well, General Jack Keane in congressional testimony on the 18th talked about two brigades to be deployed, and that would be about 10,000 combat troops to stand by to move forward if needed as we try this expanded incremental approach that the president is suggesting.

    GWEN IFILL: John Mearsheimer, this is called having skin in the game, theoretically. What are the opportunities for that and what are the risks?

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER, University of Chicago: Well, I think there is virtually no chance that we’re going to put large-scale ground forces in Syria, and President Obama has made it clear that he’s not going to do that.

    And the principal reason is you would have to put a lot of ground troops in to defeat ISIS. And there is no question that if you put 100,000, 150,000 troops in there, you could defeat ISIS, but then you run into the what-next question. What are we going to do, stay in there and occupy the place? And the end result will be dealing with insurgents, won’t know how to get out and will just make a bad situation worse.

    So it’s quite clear to me that there is no way we can defeat ISIS from the air or with ground forces. And, therefore, we have to find some sort of diplomatic solution.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, before we get to the diplomatic, what are the options here? Are we talking about occupation? Is that inevitable?

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER: No, occupation is not inevitable. And I don’t believe we will end up occupying Syria, because we have tried this before, in both Afghanistan and in Iraq, and it didn’t turn out very well.

    And we would be remarkably foolish to try to duplicate that task. And there is no way we can win this one with airpower alone. The only hope is that Assad’s forces can be rebuilt, to the point where they can deal with ISIS, and then we can get out of the region militarily.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me ask you both this question. You know that Francois Hollande is coming to Washington tomorrow, going to meet with the president. What should he be asking for?

    JAMES JEFFREY: What he will be asking for is a far more aggressive American campaign against ISIS, because, if he doesn’t get a yes, an affirmative answer to that, he’s going to in any case go off to Moscow and ask the same thing of Putin. Putin has perhaps one-tenth of our military capabilities, but Putin will give him an affirmative on a very aggressive campaign against ISIS.

    So, we’re going to have that one way or the other.

    GWEN IFILL: John Mearsheimer, what do you think that Hollande should be or will be asking for?

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER: Well, first of all, I think that what he should ask for is a coalition that includes the United States, the Russians, Iran and a number of other actors in the region to work for the purposes of propping up the Assad government.

    The only hope we have here is to prop up Assad and make him powerful enough that he can deal with ISIS. That way, we don’t have to put in ground forces. And the Russians of course are not going to put in ground forces themselves. So the only hope is Assad.

    But the principal problem we face is that the United States is incapable of working with the Russians. We still continue to pursue this policy where we’re trying to topple Assad and the Russians are trying to support Assad. This is crazy, because we’re working at cross-purposes and, if anything, we’re just going to make the war worse and that is going to play to ISIS’ advantage. I think Hollande understands this.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me stay with you, Mr. Mearsheimer, for a moment, because you brought up the question of diplomatic solutions. Do we have time to pursue that? We’re right in the middle of this now.

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER: Well, we really have no choice. There is no simple military solution. There is nothing the Americans or the Russians can do militarily to win this, because we’re not willing to commit ground forces, for good reasons.

    So, what we have to do is, we have to work with Assad and we have to create a situation where he’s powerful enough to push back ISIS and then work to get some sort of peace settlement in the region. It’s going to be remarkably difficult to do, in large part because, as I said, the Americans are incapable of working with the Russians.

    GWEN IFILL: Ambassador Jeffrey, let’s talk about this Assad question. It’s clear that we’re not on the same side of the discussion with Russia on Assad. And you just heard what Mr. Mearsheimer said about, hey, listen, let’s forget about this idea of ousting Assad for now. What do you think?

    JAMES JEFFREY: Gwen, in this business, we can never be totally sure, but I’m about as sure as I ever can be that, if we tried to throw our weight behind this unholy coalition of Assad, the Russians and the Iranians, we would ensure that ISIS will not only survive, but prosper, because the entire Arab Sunni world and Turkey will throw their weight against us on this.

    This is a double-barreled problem we have, the Assad regime, which helped create ISIS and is now supported by Russia and Iran, and ISIS itself. The way to do this is to keep Assad out of the battle and take the fight to ISIS. ISIS has 30,000 troops. We have about 200,000 or 300,000 of our allied troops, but they don’t have the capability to take the offensive without America leading.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me ask you. And I want to ask this also to Mr. Mearsheimer.

    What is our long-term or even our short-term strategic objective in Syria? Why should we be more involved?

    JAMES JEFFREY: First of all…

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER: Well, I think…

    JAMES JEFFREY: … it’s in the center of the Middle East.

    Secondly, we have allies to the north in Turkey, to the south in Israel and Jordan, and we have extraordinary interests that President Obama has emphasized time and time again. He acknowledges that we are fighting a war against ISIS. His goal is to destroy it. He said that again yesterday. The question is how to do that.

    And our long-term goals are to try to bring some kind of resurrection of the state system in these very, very fragile countries, because they can’t stand up against these movements otherwise.

    GWEN IFILL: John Mearsheimer?

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER: First of all, I don’t believe that the United States has any strategic interest in Syria. I think, from a strategic point of view, Syria is an insignificant country. It’s not like Iraq or Iran that have lots of oil.

    Second, I think the principal two reasons that we should want to shut down this conflict as soon as possible is, number one, for humanitarian reasons — this is a human rights disaster — and, secondly, because if we don’t stem the flow of refugees into Europe, it’s going to cause all sorts of problems in Europe. You can already see that happening.

    So we have a deep-seated interest, I think not for strategic reasons, but for human rights reasons and because of Europe, to do what we can to end this one as quickly as possible. But I don’t think that’s going to happen, because I think the ambassador’s view of dealing with the Russians is correct in the minds of most Americans. And most people disagree with what I say.

    And, therefore, we won’t work with the Russians and we won’t solve this problem. It will only get worse. More Syrians will die and more refugees will go into Europe.

    GWEN IFILL: Interesting listening to you argue against your own point of view there.

    Professor Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, thank you very much, and to Ambassador Jim Jeffrey here in Washington.

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER: Thank you.

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    A child waves Argentine national flags during the final campaign rally of Argentina's ruling party candidate Daniel Scioli in La Matanza, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Nov. 19, 2015. Marcos Brindicci/Reuters

    Argentina elected pro-business candidate Mauricio Macri in a presidential election Sunday. Photo by Marcos Brindicci/Reuters

    In a historic runoff election Sunday, Argentina elected Buenos Aires’ pro-business mayor Mauricio Macri over Daniel Scioli, a member of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s Victory Front party.

    Macri, who will assume office Dec. 10, has the chance to set Argentina on the path to economic recovery after more than a decade of stalled domestic production and falling foreign investment under Fernandez.

    Fernandez led Argentina with controversial social welfare and isolationist policies; her strict currency and trade controls drove foreign investment from the grains-exporting giant and have continued to stifle domestic production.

    Fernandez’s party is grounded in Argentina’s broader Peronist movement — a political and cultural institution founded on the principles of equality, morality and the popular good, which inspired a young Pope Francis. But several incidents rocked the party’s image, including recent accusations that the party committed election fraud and the mysterious death of a prosecutor in February after he accused Fernandez of covering up a deal to protect Iranian officials against allegations that they bombed a Argentine-Jewish community in 1994.

    Fernandez’s nationalist policies strained the country’s diplomatic and economic relationship with U.S. officials and business leaders, especially her refusal to repay more than $1.33 billion in defaulted bonds, for which U.S. and additional foreign investors have sued the country.

    Macri stated earlier in his campaign that Argentina “must pay” what it owes to U.S. investors. But he has recently backed off those statements, citing how Fernandez and her late husband’s heavy populist spending along with an unregulated Central Bank have inflicted unknown damage on the country’s hard currency reserves. Argentina already has one of the world’s highest inflation rates.

    Many investors in Argentina and internationally are hopeful Macri’s election will usher in an era of pro-business economics and shift away from Fernandez’s populist policies.

    In his first press conference after the election, Macri addressed Argentina’s economy. He said he planned to restructure income and export taxes while implementing a “unique exchange rate” when the country’s economy “returns to a growth path,” the Buenos Aires Herald reported Monday.

    Macri acknowledged it could be a long road to recovery, and devaluation of the Argentine peso could get worse before it gets better. “There is a problem with reserves no matter what the government says,” Macri said in the press conference.

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    Iraqi security forces hold an Islamist State flag which they pulled down at the University of Anbar, in Anbar province July 26, 2015. Iraqi security forces entered the University of Anbar in the western city of Ramadi on Sunday and clashed with Islamic State militants inside the compound, the joint operations command said in a statement. REUTERS/Stringer - RTX1LW6L

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    GWEN IFILL: The Paris attacks have reignited the debate over how the United States and other nations should respond to a global terror organization that’s expanding its targets beyond Iraq and Syria.

    This week, France’s president is seeking additional help from both the U.S. and Russia.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Our coalition will not relent.

    GWEN IFILL: Traveling in Malaysia yesterday, President Obama pledged to take the fight to the Islamic State. The terror attacks in Paris, which led to a wider European alert, follow 16 months of airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. The assault slowed the group’s territorial expansion, but the president insists U.S. involvement will not include direct ground combat.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Destroying ISIL is not only a realistic goal. We’re going to get it done, and we’re going to pursue it with every aspect of American power. The United States will continue to lead this global coalition. We are intensifying our strategy on all fronts with local partners on the ground.

    GWEN IFILL: The U.S. role in battling ISIS has evolved in recent months. There are more than 3,000 American troops in Iraq providing logistical training and combat advice. American and Kurdish commandos stormed an ISIS prison in Iraq last month, rescuing dozens of men.

    And, earlier this month, the president announced that 50 U.S. special operations troops would be heading to Syria. But the U.S. policy of incremental involvement has been questioned by the president’s political opponents and even by some of his former appointees. Two former defense secretaries weighed in yesterday on whether the president is focusing on the right target and with the right amount of force.

    LEON PANETTA, Former Secretary of Defense: The U.S. has to lead in this effort, because what we have learned a long time ago is, if the United States doesn’t lead, nobody else will.

    We are going to have to commit additional resources to this effort. We’re hitting some targets, but airstrikes alone are not going to win here.

    CHUCK HAGEL, Former Secretary of Defense: Assad is a very bad guy. There are bad guys all over the world. But I think it’s pretty clear that ISIS represents the real threat to our country, to the world.

    GWEN IFILL: President Obama is scheduled meet with French President Francois Hollande tomorrow to discuss the coalition’s next steps.

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    Belgian soldiers patrol in central Brussels as police searched the area during a continued high level of security following the recent deadly Paris attacks, Belgium, November 23, 2015. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier - RTX1VHV5

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    GWEN IFILL: Police in Belgium charged a fourth suspect in the Paris attacks today. The suspect was swept up in a 24-hour dragnet, but was the only person charged. Fifteen others were released.

    The prime minister decided to keep Brussels on its highest state of alert through at least next week.

    We have a report from Emma Murphy of Independent Television News in Brussels.

    EMMA MURPHY: A European capital city, rush hour Monday morning, whatever the threat is, the government believed it is so serious that much of normal life has given way to abnormality.

    Armored vehicles patrol empty and closed shopping streets. There are soldiers on most junctions, and in such a climate all places where lots of people can gather, like universities, schools and nurseries, are shut. This isn’t a city in fear, but it is a city in flux.

    MAN: It’s necessary. It’s necessary to have this security because the people, I think, feel safer with this kind of security.

    WOMAN: I feel if the policeman — but if I do feel safe — I will be glad when I’m home.

    EMMA MURPHY: It is affecting everyone’s life, mainly the small everyday things like nursery for Nathaniel, fine for one day, but challenging if it goes on.

    CHARLOTTE MCDONALD GIBSON, Brussels Resident: We just can’t do the simple day-to-day things that you usually do. And there’s police everywhere, even in my neighborhood, which is quite suburban, quite leafy. It’s not in the sort of center of town, but there’s police on the streets. There’s police cars occasionally closing off the roads around here. So it’s very unusual.

    EMMA MURPHY: How long it goes on depends in part on this man, Salah Abdeslam. He still evades capture. He is part of this terror threat, but the action of the government here suggests there is something for than him for them to contend with.

    GWEN IFILL: Because of ongoing terrorist attacks around the world, the State Department issued a worldwide travel alert for U.S. citizens this evening, citing increased threats. It directed Americans to — quote — “exercise vigilance in public places or when using public transportation.” It also suggested avoiding large crowds, particularly during the holiday season. The alert is set to expire in three months.

    Meanwhile, in a southern suburb of Paris, police said a street cleaner found an explosive belt in a pile of rubble, but without its detonator. French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron each laid a single flower outside the Bataclan concert hall, where 89 people were killed.

    Later, Cameron urged the British Parliament to join France in the fight against the Islamic State.

    DAVID CAMERON, Prime Minister, United Kingdom: Later this week, I will set out in Parliament our comprehensive strategy for tackling ISIL. I firmly support the action that President Hollande has taken to strike ISIL in Syria and it’s my firm conviction that Britain should do so too.

    GWEN IFILL: The French Defense Ministry said it has launched its first airstrikes from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, bombing Islamic State targets in Ramadi and Mosul, Iraq. France has already carried out strikes against ISIS targets in Syria.

    Syria was at the top of the agenda for a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The two leaders met in Iran. Both have been staunch supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and today Khamenei criticized U.S. efforts to begin peace talks.

    Migrants stuck in limbo along the Greek-Macedonian border stepped up their protests today, staging hunger strikes and blocking trains. They’re mostly economic refugees who have been denied entry by Balkan countries because they’re not fleeing war. Hundreds gathered behind gates and barbed-wire fences, shouting at police. Others taped or even sewed their mouths shut in a sign of protest.

    Flags flew at half-staff in the West African nation of Mali today to begin three days of mourning for the victims of Friday’s attack on a luxury hotel there. State television aired photos of the corpses of two of the suspected gunmen, appealing for information on their identities. Three separate groups have claimed responsibility for the deadly siege that left 20 people, plus the two attackers, dead.

    In Nigeria and Cameroon, five suicide bombers, all girls, killed 12 people over the weekend. The attacks happened at an entry to Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri, and just across the border in Cameroon. Police blamed Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group whose six-year campaign of violence has killed 20,000 people.

    Voters in Argentina have ushered in a new era, electing their first conservative president in 12 years. Last night, Mauricio Macri danced on stage with his family at his Buenos Aires headquarters. The right-wing mayor of Buenos Aires beat the ruling party’s nominee in a runoff, after promising to boost the economy and fight corruption.

    PRESIDENT-ELECT MAURICIO MACRI, Argentina (through interpreter): The quality that we have, us Argentineans, we have to finally put it to work for our future. I want to say to you today as well as to our brothers of Latin America and to our brothers of the world that we want to have good relationships with all the countries. We want to work with all of you.

    GWEN IFILL: Macri takes office December 10. He inherits a country with 30 percent inflation and stagnant economic growth.

    Back in this country, police in New Orleans are trying to find out what sparked a gun battle in a crowded city park last night. Hundreds had gathered for an evening block party at a local playground when gunfire rang out. At least 17 people were wounded in the crossfire.

    Today, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu called on witnesses to come forward.

    MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU, New Orleans: Here’s the message to the guys who did the shooting last night. You can’t run, you can’t hide. We’re going to find you. We’re going to prosecute you. We’re going to hold you accountable, and we’re going to put you behind bars for our safety and yours.

    But, in order to do this, we need the community. There is only so much the police can do. We need the community to help us take back the streets.

    GWEN IFILL: All of the victims are listed in stable condition. They suffered either direct gunshot wounds or were grazed by bullets.

    In business news, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced plans to merge with Allergan, creating the world’s largest drugmaker. The $160 billion deal means Pfizer will slash its corporate tax bill by moving its New York headquarters to Dublin, Ireland, where Allergan is based. The tax-saving ploy is known as corporate inversion, which the Obama administration has tried to crack down on.

    On Wall Street today, stocks gave up their early gains in late afternoon trading. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 31 points to close above 17792. The Nasdaq fell two points. And the S&P 500 also dropped two.

    The post News Wrap: Belgian police charge fourth suspect in Paris attacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Barack Obama will meet with representatives for India and China during the World Climate Change Conference in Paris. These meetings are intended to send a message of shared commitments between the U.S. and the rest of the world in preventing the effects of climate change from getting worse, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    President Barack Obama will meet with representatives for India and China during the World Climate Change Conference in Paris. These meetings are intended to send a message of shared commitments between the U.S. and the rest of the world in preventing the effects of climate change from getting worse, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The White House says President Barack Obama is hoping to give a boost to international climate talks in Paris next week by holding early one-on-one meetings with the leaders of China and India.

    While in Paris, the president also will meet with the leaders of island nations facing some of the harshest effects of global warming.

    The meetings are aimed at underscoring a need for rich and poor nations alike to embrace the fight against climate change, and to project a sense of urgency.

    White House officials say the meeting between the leaders of the U.S. and China should sends a strong message to the world about a shared commitment to reaching a strong agreement in Paris.

    The post Obama hopes China, India share climate commitment with U.S. in Paris appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Video produced by Chelsea Hernandez.

    In Austin, 14 artists have come together to offer an immersive art experience with Strange Pilgrims, a large-scale group exhibition with experiential art at multiple venues.

    Experiential art is “immersive, collaborative, performative, kinetic and sometimes participatory,” exhibition curator Heather Pesanti said. “It’s essentially things that you experience with your body and your senses.”

    The exhibition features a combination of newly commissioned works, site-specific refabrications, and existing works from an international lineup of artists including Charles Atlas, Ayşe Erkmen and Sofía Táboas. The exhibit’s name and theme was inspired by Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez’s story collection, entitled “Strange Pilgrims.” Pesanti interpreted Márquez’s wandering protagonist as a metaphor for an open-ended journey through strange and unfamiliar spaces.

    The artists who participated use a wide variety of mediums. Roger Hiorns’ installation “A Retrospective View of the Pathway” features a giant mass of foam that bubbles onto the lawn at the Laguna Gloria every Saturday afternoon.

    Ayşe Erkmen’s fabric installation “3DN” incorporates figures that evoke the bats that live under the Congress Avenue Bridge and form the world’s largest urban bat colony. Their nightly emergence is a famous attraction in Austin. “The title of the show is ‘Strange Pilgrims,’ so it all came together, because … bats are the strange pilgrims of Austin,” she said.

    The exhibit is on view until Jan. 24, 2016, at the Jones Center, Laguna Gloria and the Visual Arts Center in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin.

    Local Beat is an ongoing series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member stations around the nation.

    The post In Austin exhibit, viewers immerse themselves in foam, light and sound appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user Pete D.

    Can you imagine a Christmas ham on your Thanksgiving dinner table in place of the traditional turkey? Some economists can. Photo by Flickr user Pete D.

    Can you imagine a Christmas ham on your Thanksgiving dinner table in place of the traditional turkey? My guess is you can’t, but it’s a scenario some agricultural economists have been worrying about for months. Many commentators feared that ordinary Americans would be driven to this holiday mix-up by that wonderful tool that helps allocate scarce resources: prices.  Thankfully, the price disruption is not as bad as predicted.

    The concerns came from a massive outbreak of avian flu this summer. The disease ravaged states that are crucial to the production of our beloved holiday birds, leading to the loss of more than 7.5 million turkeys. The outbreak has cost turkey farmers around $500 million. The epidemic also stoked concerns that turkey prices would rise dramatically, accelerating the traditional New Year diets and weight loss plans into November.

    At the same time, pork production is skyrocketing and approaching an all-time high. But a strong greenback has been dampening international demand for American pigs, driving ham to its lowest seasonal price in six years. This led some onlookers to wonder whether price-conscious families might substitute ham for turkey this year at the Thanksgiving table. Should President Obama pardon a pig this week rather than following tradition and freeing a turkey?

    Thankfully, the effect on turkey prices was nowhere near as dramatic as the image of a Thanksgiving ham suggests. You see, the U.S. produces 228 million turkeys each year, and the sick birds represented around 3 percent of the total. Further, many of the Thanksgiving birds had already been frozen before the disease took hold. In fact, while fresh turkey prices are up about 10 cents per pound, frozen turkey prices are actually slightly cheaper this year.

    It’s the side dishes that should worry you this year. They are poised to hurt your pocketbook more than turkey. Prices for sweet potatoes are up 28 percent, regular potatoes are 8 percent more expensive and eggs will cost you a dollar extra. And while dessert might add a bit to your waistline, it has the potential to leave your wallet lighter. In one extreme case, a two-pack of a sold-out Walmart Patti LaBelle sweet potato pies is being offered on eBay for $12,000 after a video review of it went viral. Walmart had been selling the pie for under $4.

    Analysts estimate this year’s meal will cost on average 6 percent more than last year’s.

    Prices fluctuate from year to year, and we can’t plan for random events like a flu outbreak. But stepping back and looking at a longer time horizon can help us prepare for the future. For instance, it seems virtually certain that the global middle class is going to be larger — much larger — 15 years from now than it is today. And this expanded universe of consumers will drive a massive increase in demand for food; some experts predict a 35 percent increase by 2030.

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    This rise will be particularly pronounced for protein. When people get more money, they tend to consume more meat. This increase in demand will ripple through the entire meat value chain, from the grain fed to animals to fertilizers used to support grain yields. These structural forces may lead to a steady rise in your Thanksgiving meal bill for years to come, independent of random yearly events.

    Of course, nothing is certain, and a variety of factors could counteract this trend. For example, we could see a dramatic downshift in demand for protein due to health concerns. Just think about the World Health Organization’s recent warning about a link between processed meats and cancer. We could also see a massive increase in food production efficiency thanks to the adoption of alternative protein sources or the genetic modification of ones that are already popular.  Scaling back food-for-fuel policies might increase supply while increasing affordability. We should watch these developments closely.

    Even the Thanksgiving dinner table is a vivid reminder of the complexity and uncertainty surrounding every aspect of the modern world. As the outlook for protein suggests, a booming middle class may soon be gobbling up turkeys and hams alike. So this year, as always, let’s be thankful that we can take a day to sit with family and enjoy a meal together — and remember those who can’t.

    The post Move over turkey. Here comes the Thanksgiving ham appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is recognizing 17 Americans with the nation’s highest civilian award Tuesday, including giants of the entertainment industry such as Barbra Streisand and Steven Spielberg, baseball legends Willie Mays and Yogi Berra, and politicians, activists and government innovators.

    In addition to filmmaker Spielberg and singer and Oscar winner Streisand, Obama will present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to musicians Gloria and Emilio Estefan, singer James Taylor, composer Stephen Sondheim and violinist Itzhak Perlman.

    Mays, one of baseball’s greatest catchers, was also among the first African-American players in Major League Baseball. Berra, who died in September, was a Yankee great, an 18-time All-Star and 10-time World Series champion.

    The politicians getting the honor are Democrats: Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, who has championed equal pay and women’s health during her 44 years of public service; former Rep. Lee Hamilton from Indiana, a longtime advocate of American national security and international relations; and the late Rep. Shirley Chisholm from New York. Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress, and a founding member of what would become the Congressional Black Caucus.

    Other honorees:

    —Bonnie Carroll, a veterans advocate, who founded the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) to support families and loved ones impacted by the death of military heroes.

    —Katherine G. Johnson, a NASA mathematician, whose calculations influenced every major space program, including the flight of the first American into space.

    —William Ruckelshaus, a former chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, who shaped the guiding principles of the agency, including a nationwide ban on the pesticide DDT and an agreement with the automobile industry to require catalytic converters to reduce automobile pollution.

    Posthumous recipients include Indian tribal advocate Billy Frank Jr., who led “fish-ins”— similar to sit-ins— during the tribal “fish wars” of the 1960s and 1970s, and civil rights leader Minoru Yasui, who challenged the constitutionality of a military curfew order during World War II on the grounds of racial discrimination and spent months in solitary confinement during the legal battle.

    The post 17 Americans to receive the highest civilian award at White House appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Students at the Gabriela Mistral Center for Early Childhood in Houston work on their language skills using toys with environmental print.  Photo by: Mike Fritz/PBS NewsHour

    Students at the Gabriela Mistral Center for Early Childhood in Houston work on their language skills using toys with environmental print. Photo by: Mike Fritz/PBS NewsHour

    Next time you go to your kitchen, take a look at the food in the pantry and the fridge. There’s probably a popular cereal, perhaps a brand-name soda or frozen food in the freezer, the commercials for which have played over and over on TV. These are examples of “environmental print” and they are often some of the first words children learn.

    “Because it’s the print that they see, that’s the first thing that they are able to read,” said Lori Espinoza, a teacher at Rice University’s Oral and Written Language Laboratory (O.W.L. Lab) inside the Gabriela Mistral Center for Early Childhood in Houston, Texas. “That may not be intentionally placed there for children to read, but it’s there.”

    Researchers have repeatedly found environmental print plays a large role in the literacy development of young children, and that is why it is increasingly being used as a teaching tool. Espinoza uses it in her classroom and with her 3-year-old daughter Rachel when they’re in the car.

    “She’s very aware of print,” Espinoza said. “She might see ‘Toys R Us,’ [and] she’ll start to spell it. I start to describe what’s inside and then we can start talking about what kind of toys do you want to play with, what should we do when we get home and those sort of things. It’s kind of the entré for a conversation. I’ve already got her hooked because she wants to know about that.”

    Teacher Lori Espinoza (right) uses environmental print in her classroom at the Gabriela Mistral Center for Early Childhood in Houston to help children with their language skills. Photo by Mike Fritz/PBS NewsHour

    Teacher Lori Espinoza (right) uses environmental print in her classroom at the Gabriela Mistral Center for Early Childhood in Houston to help children with their language skills. Photo by Mike Fritz/PBS NewsHour

    There are opportunities to use environmental print at home as well, with newspapers, magazines or advertising that comes by mail, according to Espinoza. It’s one of the many lessons she models for her students’ parents when they visit the classroom.

    “This kind of lesson is just one of many shared with parents at the O.W.L. Lab, encouraging them to use everyday activities to improve vocabulary and literacy,” said Debbie Paz, associate director for Early Literacy and Bilingual Programs at Rice University’s School of Literacy and Culture. Paz spends several days each week at the lab helping refine the program and introduce the curriculum to teachers from around the Houston Independent School District.

    “I think bringing everyday life scenarios into the classroom for the parents gives them a way to kind of work on those sorts of things.” said Paz. “Talking to the parents and saying, ‘When you go to the grocery store, these are some things that you might want to talk about with your child.’”

    “We have parents that work two or three jobs. They are not able to spend a lot of time with their children in many cases. But the time that they do spend, whether it’s riding in the car, whether it’s you know going to the park, whatever, it is to make that a time when language is happening for them.”

    The post Why you don’t need to groan if your child’s first words are ‘Walmart’ or ‘Pizza Hut’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man attaches a French flag to a statue at Place de la Republique near sites of the deadly attacks in Paris, November 15, 2015. Photo by   Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

    A man attaches a French flag to a statue at Place de la Republique near sites of the deadly attacks in Paris, November 15, 2015. Photo by Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

    During my week in Paris, there were signs of both solidarity and suspicion among people that in some ways reminded of the United States after 9/11, but to compare the two would be a disservice to the unique tragedies and the people involved. The attacks in Paris have made way to a period of difficult introspection for Europeans, challenging their ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity with global realities.

    Liberty of movement

    The notion of freedom or lack thereof is most easily manifest in the border controls across Europe. Anyone who has left the U.S. knows that there is a clear line that we cross when we exit and return. And between the time the border control agent scans your passport and when you hear the resounding stamp of ink on paper, you get the feeling that someone cared enough to catalog your entry and exit from a place that felt distinct enough that it had something of value to protect, to defend. In our increasingly global surveillance state, there was a record of your movement. For better and for worse, a tiny light behind a wall of computer servers in a secret building probably blinked announcing you.

    It’s hard for us Americans to imagine the sheer number of people flowing into the heart of Europe as freely Americans can travel between states.

    The European ideal of Schengen; a 20-year-old agreement between 26 countries that guarantees free flow of travel across the European continent means there are two types of borders.

    Schengen_Area

    The hard border is at the edge of the collective countries. Inside this area of Europe, flags change stripes and languages change color, but the borders are almost invisible. The free flow of goods, services and people is important for the countries as an economic engine of trade and labor, but it has now become a vulnerability. The liberty of movement is being reassessed.

    Liberty of thought

    While both houses of Parliament last week granted the president of France an extension of emergency powers for another 90 days, there are already some who are concerned that in the efforts to thwart terror threats, France may be traversing a slippery slope of giving away some of its liberties of thought.

    Police can now place anyone under house arrest if they are deemed a threat to security. They can conduct warrantless searches and seize all data within those searches. They can dissolve any institution for fomenting actions that are deemed a threat to the state and put all members of that group under house arrest. They can also clamp down on websites they think are assisting in a threat.

    All these new powers and the ability to raid a suspect’s home come to the police via an administrative judge (who reports through the interior ministry to the executive branch of government). Police say it is temporary, but legal advocates think it undercuts the judicial branch’s role to keep a check on executive power. Will defendants have access to the evidence against them if it is deemed classified by an administrative judge? Is it possible to give up such surveillance rights once you become used to them? Will it become the new normal?

    This is a country that allows for freedom of expression, no matter how unpopular it may be. Such freedoms are enjoyed by everyone including the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, whose previous covers put it in the crosshairs of Daesh earlier this year. Their cover this week led to another sold-out run.

    French Satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo released its first edition following Friday's terror attack in Paris. It reads, 'They have weapons. F--k them. We have champagne!'  Photo by Ho/AFP/Getty Images

    French Satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo released its first edition following Friday’s terror attack in Paris. It reads, ‘They have weapons. F–k them. We have champagne!’ Photo by Ho/AFP/Getty Images

    Equality

    Equality for whom? Those who think similarly, those who look and act the same, those who are fortunate to be born within certain longitudes and latitudes? Implicit is the idea that equality is available for those who follow the laws, which the attackers do not, for those who respect the rights of others, which the attackers do not. While this was not an attack based on economic inequality, it was set against the backdrop of a mass migration of tired and huddled masses who yearn to feel that they are created equal.

    There are plenty of reasons people flee; to seek a better life, to feed their families, to have more opportunity. The latter is the one with which we in the U.S. are most familiar. Because frankly we know that other than the first humans who wandered across a land bridge between what are now Alaska and Russia, we’re all either immigrants or descendants of immigrants. But in many parts of the world, there are far more acute causes of migration: from strife and civil wars to environmental devastation leading to local economic collapse.

    The West has far fewer people than it does access to energy, technology and capital. For someone from the less developed world, it may as well be an Elysium only reachable in the afterlife or a reflection of reality similar to the sci-fi film of that name with resources beyond their imagination. The American dream, exported by Hollywood, reaches the far corners of the Earth. Thanks to the Internet, it is visible from any smartphone from any corner of the world. Like water that naturally seeks a level, why would these people not seek access to something better, especially if the institutions around them are crumbling or threatening their very lives.

    Fraternity

    The notions of fraternity are also being challenged. most of the French I spoke with believe the refugees should be be assisted, but often with a caveat of some sort. A senator from an opposition party said perhaps the refugees should be aided closer to the borders they are fleeing, while far right voices conflate the migrants with the terrorists and call for much more surveillance based on religion or birthplace.

    The counterweight is this, from a survivor of the Bataclan massacre that correspondent Malcolm Brabant interviewed this week:

    She said was given so much refuge and shelter by her friends and the French for surviving a horrendous event that lasted a few hours, and added, should we not extend that same refuge to people who live in such insecurity day after day? The world was so moved by the image of a little body washing ashore in Greece to say all lives matter. Should those lives stop mattering after this violence?

    Rou de Paris, on a rainy night. photo by Hari Sreenivasan

    Rou de Paris, on a rainy night. photo by Hari Sreenivasan

    Cyclical nature

    Cycles of violence often perpetuate larger cycles and gather momentum like a snowball rolling downhill. Such violence is hard to slow down or stop, the longer it lasts.

    As a response, new emergency powers increase police surveillance and house arrests among a large group of Muslims.

    One possible outcome is that this reaction reveals and stops threats, saving lives. Another is that within that safety net are trapped people who have nothing to do with Daesh. Perhaps young Muslims who wanted nothing to do with Daesh tire of the increased suspicion toward them and begin to feel like second-class citizens.

    Daesh targets these disaffected youth across social media, reminds them of their second-class status, gives them a newfound sense of belonging to a higher cause, and in so doing, picks up recruits for a future attack.

    Image by Dennis Novak and Getty Images

    Image by Dennis Novak and Getty Images

    There is another cycle that perpetuates, which is a media critique of where we go to cover the news and why.

    The NewsHour, unlike its commercial counterparts commits a great deal of time on stories from far-flung places. I’m fairly positive few outlets are spending as much time on children mining for gold in the Phillipines or clean water in Sudan or an upcoming four-part series from Nigeria. We can do this in part because we are lucky to have such an intelligent audience who craves this information. We don’t give you the updates on the dramatic travails of Hollywood celebrities (though that would be the easiest way to get more clicks). In my opinion, the commercial media are far more sensitive to what sells than we are.

    Seven days a week there is no shortage of opportunity for us to bring you updates that would make us look and sound like an international crime blotter, and as deciders of what information to aggregate, amplify and share, there is probably an unhealthy immunity we have built up. If all lives matter, what is the difference between a car bomb that kills a few people in Baghdad versus a bus crash in Bolivia versus a typhoon in Asia? Is there a magic number of dozens or hundreds? how about the millions that die slower deaths every year from malaria or smoke from indoor cookstoves? At some point we are left with the unenviable task of placing value of one over the other. I’m glad people are clamoring for more international coverage in the wake of this tragedy. I hope we can continue to be a trusted source for world news.

    My optimism for France comes from perhaps the unlikeliest of places. Paris is a diabetic’s nightmare, with its stunning showrooms for bread and sugar. I wonder if they can use the same prowess of finding incredible balance to make sugar seemingly lighter than air in a Merveilleux or to get the perfect candy shell atop a Saint Honore to craft a balance between security and freedom that will be an inspiration to the rest of us.

    The post Paris, where the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity meet reality appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Chicago officials released the dash-cam video depicting the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald on Oct. 20, 2014. WARNING: Video contains graphic footage. Viewer discretion is advised.

    Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke is seen in an undated picture released by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office in Chicago.

    Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke is seen in an undated picture released by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Chicago.

    A Chicago police officer was charged with first degree murder and held without bail Tuesday for shooting a black teenager 16 times, an encounter that was caught on the squad car’s dash cam.

    An officer of 14 years, Jason Van Dyke shot and killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald on Oct. 20, 2014. If convicted, Van Dyke faces a sentence of 20 years to life.

    Previously, a judge ordered the dash cam recording to be publicly released by Wednesday, but Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, among other city leaders, appeared before reporters Tuesday night to say that the footage was being released a day early. They also urged calm.

    “People have a right to be angry. People have a right to protest. People have a right to free speech. But they do not have a right to criminal acts,” Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said.

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy held a news conference Tuesday night addressing the 2014 fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

    For months, city officials maintained that the process was delayed because, they argued, several investigations surrounding the case were ongoing.

    “The public needs to know that while it would seem to some that the 12 months of investigation with our federal partners has taken too long, investigations of police shootings and misconduct are highly complex matters that carry with them very unique legal issues that must be fully examined and taken into consideration,” Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez told reporters Tuesday.

    According to The New York Times, officers responded to 911 reports about a man carrying a knife and attempting to break into vehicles in Chicago’s Southwest Side neighborhood.

    “Officers came upon Mr. McDonald, who was holding a folding knife, and told him to drop it, Chicago officials have said. Mr. McDonald refused, the officers said, and he began walking or jogging away. Two officers followed him — one on foot, the other in a car — and called for backup, requesting that an officer carrying a Taser stun gun be sent to the area.

    At one point, Mr. McDonald pounded on the windshield of the squad car and punctured its front tire with the knife, city officials say. Mr. McDonald and the growing number of officers followed a path down several blocks. A police dashboard camera, captured the end of the episode: Along a multilane commercial stretch of Pulaski Road, one of the six police officers at the scene fired his weapon, striking the teenager 16 times.”

    The Cook County medical examiner’s office released an autopsy report that said two of the gunshot wounds were found in McDonald’s back.

    Alvarez described the footage as “graphic” and “chilling,” adding that she announced the charge against Van Dyke before the video’s release because she was concerned the extremely violent video would ignite unrest and demonstrations similar those in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, following instances where black men were gunned down by police officers.

    “To watch a 17-year-old young man die in such a violent manner is deeply disturbing,” she said. “I have absolutely no doubt that this video will tear at the hearts of all Chicagoans.”

    Daniel Herbert defended Van Dyke’s actions to the Chicago Tribune.

    “I can’t speak why the [other] officers didn’t shoot,” he said. “But I certainly can speak to why my client shot, and it is he believed in his heart of hearts that he was in fear for his life, that he was concerned about the lives of [other] police officers.”

    The city of Chicago approved a $5 million civil settlement in April for McDonald’s family.

    The post Chicago releases graphic video of officer fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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