Quantcast
Loading...
Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)
Loading...

More Channels


Showcase


Channel Catalog


Loading...

Channel Description:

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

older | 1 | .... | 718 | 719 | (Page 720) | 721 | 722 | .... | 1175 | newer

    0 0

    Photo by Getty Images

    A Social Security whistleblower claims widows losing thousands due to agency mistakes. Photo by Getty Images

    Editor’s Note: Boston University economist Larry Kotlikoff has spent every week, for over three years, answering questions about what is likely your largest financial asset — your Social Security benefits. His Social Security original 34 “secrets,” his additional secrets, his Social Security “mistakes” and his Social Security gotchas have prompted so many of you to write in that we feature “Ask Larry” every Monday. Find a complete list of his columns here. And keep sending us your Social Security questions.

    Kotlikoff’s state-of-the-art retirement software is available here, for free, in its “basic” version. His new book, “Get What’s Yours — the Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security Benefits,” (co-authored with Paul Solman and Making Sen$e Medicare columnist Phil Moeller) was published in February before the changes from the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 went into effect.

    For the past few weeks, Social Security expert Larry Kotlikoff has been keeping readers updated on how the budget act changes a number of Social Security rules. We’ll continue publishing updates on what this new law means for your Social Security benefits. Stay tuned.


    Back in July, I wrote about John McAdams, a Social Security claims authorizer in Philadelphia who has worked for Social Security for a decade. John continues to risk his job by writing about Social Security’s ongoing policy of denying widows tens of thousands of dollars over time by not taking steps to fix mistakes that can cost them.

    I’ll give an extreme example of a hypothetical 62-year-old widow, let’s call her Sarah, who comes to Social Security to file for a survivor benefit on her deceased husband or ex-husband’s work record. (In the case of a deceased ex, she had to be married to him for a decade or more). Let’s assume Sarah’s widow benefit is $2,001 per month and her own age-62 early retirement benefit is $2,000 per month.

    Sarah is under no requirement to file for her retirement benefit at age 62. Indeed, she can wait until age 70 to file for it. At 70, it will start at a 76 percent higher level.

    But the Social Security staffer files Sarah for both benefits. In doing so, he leaves Sarah with just her $2,001 widows benefit, because you can only collect the larger of the two benefits if you have filed (or been filed) for both.

    In filing for her retirement benefit, the Social Security staffer produces not a single penny more in benefits for Sarah. But by so doing, he winds up preventing Sarah from filing for her own retirement benefit when she reaches age 70 and thereby, prevents her from collecting $3,520 per month in retirement benefits instead of the $2,001 per month in widow’s benefits. (Her own full retirement benefit, if it were allowed to grow until age 70, would be 1.76 times the $2,000: $3,520 a month; $18,240 a year.)

    So the staffer would have deprived Sarah of the ability to collect $18,240 more per year from age 70 through 100, should she live that long. This would obviously be unfair, if not a disgrace. John McAdams has been trying to make sure such mistakes are rectified.

    Yesterday, John wrote me about another case of Social Security unfairness he’s been trying to fix. Remember, John works for Social Security. Here’s what he wrote:

    John: In August 2015, I came across another claimant who was simultaneously entitled to both retirement and survivor benefits. At the time, I was allowed to send the case to the field office that set up the claim and ask them to rule it a case of misinformation. (What I’m to do with future cases is a mystery to me as nobody will give me an official response to my repeated questions about these cases.)

    Here’s what I sent to the field office:

    In December 2009, your field office processed both retirement and survivor applications for this claimant — both with month of entitlement January 2010. The survivor rate exceeded the retirement rate, and the claimant was dually entitled. Had she filed for survivor benefits only, her rate would have been the same — she gained nothing by filing for both. She remains dually entitled through today. Had the claimant filed for survivor benefits only and delayed her retirement benefits, her retirement rate would have eventually surpassed the survivor rate because of delayed retirement credits. By dually entitling her, we removed this possibility. We are requesting a misinformation determination on processing the retirement application since doing so gave the claimant no benefit and in fact deprived her of the opportunity to take advantage of delayed retirement credits later on.

    Please call me with any questions,
    John McAdams
    Claims Authorizer

    Here’s a spreadsheet that shows how much she’s lost:

    social security

    And she will continue to lose $357 per month for the rest of her life.

    In September 2015, the Philadelphia Operations Manager asked to speak with me about these widows. She asked for an example case, and I sent her this one as the “poster child.” She promised to look into it. I don’ know if it was a direct result of her efforts or not, but I finally got a response from the field office:

    RESPONSE TO ASSISTANCE REQUEST
    DATE OF RESPONSE: 11/10/15
    TEXT: PER MANAGEMENT, WE ARE NOT CONTACTING CLAIMANT TO CHANGE SCOPE OF APPLICATIONS.

    So now Social Security is officially, knowingly, intentionally cheating elderly widows — how much lower can you get?

    Larry Kotlikoff: I’m hoping some enterprising lawyer starts a class action suit. There are, presumably, millions of widows in the country that have been similarly treated by Social Security and have no knowledge that they could be receiving much higher benefits had they been properly treated by the Social Security staff. Perhaps some lawyer can get a federal judge to enjoin Social Security from filing widows for their retirement benefits when doing so will gain them nothing financially, but rather, cost them money — potentially tens of thousands of dollars. If you multiply Sarah’s $18,240 by 30 years, that’s over a half million dollars!


    Here is yet another Social Security disconcerting story apparently involving two separate local Social Security offices — one in Tucson and one in Huntsville. It’s high time that Social Security taught its staff the Social Security benefit rules they are supposed to follow. Suspending your retirement benefit any time between full retirement age and age 70 and then stopping the suspension before age 70 is perfectly legal.

    James: I recently spoke with Social Security Administration, and they told me that since I started collecting prior to full retirement age, I could not suspend at age 66 and then collect again at age 70. What Social Security Administration policy or regulation provides this option? The calculations from your revised online software show that this is possible.

    Larry Kotlikoff: The representative you spoke to is mistaken. Please see Section GN 02409.110 of the Social Security’s Program Operations Manual System (POMS) copied below:

    GN 02409.110 Conditions for Voluntary Suspension
    A. When voluntary suspension is possible
    1. Requesting voluntary suspension
    Any primary retirement insurance benefit (RIB) applicant or beneficiary, whether reduced or unreduced, who has reached full retirement age (FRA) may voluntarily ask that we suspend his or her benefits to earn voluntary delayed retirement credits (VOLDRC). This request may be either written or oral, and we do not need a signature. A representative payee can make the request on behalf of the beneficiary.


    Allan: My wife is 74 and has been collecting her Social Security benefits for the last nine years. Her monthly benefit is now $1,800. I will turn 66 in March of 2016 and plan to continue working until I am 70. I am eligible for the maximum benefit. When I turn 66 in March, can I file and suspend and get paid spousal benefit until I am 70?

    Larry Kotlikoff: Do not file and suspend. If you do, you will transform your full spousal benefit into an excess spousal benefit, which will likely be zero. Instead, file for just your spousal benefit. Go into the local office a couple months before you reach 66 and make them sign that they have received a written request by you to file an application restricted to collecting a spousal benefit on your wife and that you intend to collect your own retirement benefit when you turn 70 and not a day earlier.


    Kim: This isn’t directly applicable to me, but something that I encountered at the Social Security Administration office and noticed in the software result. In the sequence of events, my wife had filed for her benefits along with my daughter’s (dependent child) in March 2015 at age 62. The software suggests that I should have applied for child-in-care support at that time, which would have been before my 62nd birthday (June 2015). I did not, because I was still working until mid-August 2015, and then I immediately applied. When I was at the Social Security Administration office, the Social Security Administration person said that it was good that I had waited until after my 62nd birthday, otherwise I would have been considered as deeming. However, the date from the software was earlier.

    Larry Kotlikoff: The Social Security Administration representative you spoke to is mistaken. Child-in-care spouse’s benefits are not deemed if you take them before age 62. Nor are they deemed under the new law for those born after Jan. 1, 1954. There is a very specific exemption from deeming for child-in-care spouse’s benefits.


    Molly: We went to the local Social Security office, and my husband who turned 66 yesterday filed and suspended his benefits today. He was born in 1949. When I asked if his benefits could remain suspended so that I could file for my full spousal benefit in November 2016, they said no. The man we talked to went and asked the technical expert in the office who said I had to file early during the six-month grace period if I wanted to get a benefit check while my husband’s benefits remain suspended. I wasn’t in the room when the Social Security guy talked to this expert. I don’t know if he even told the guy that my husband was born before 1950. He said they looked up on the Congress.org website and that’s what he based his info on.

    Have you verified your interpretation of the new law with the powers that be at Social Security? Is there somewhere on the Social Security website that states that my situation is not affected by the law so long as my husband files and suspends during the grace period? The law is still so new and so confusing. I just don’t know if I have enough time to wait for people to challenge a stricter interpretation of the law’s intent by Social Security. I have read “Get What’s Yours,” which is brilliant and would prefer to trust, but I don’t know what to do now. It would be so helpful if Social Security could publish their verification of your interpretation.

    Larry Kotlikoff: Our understanding from senior officials at the Social Security Administration is that if your husband files and suspends within the grandfathered 180-day window, and you are 62 by or on Jan. 1, 2016, you can file just for your spousal benefit when you reach full retirement age.

    This is how we have reprogrammed our software. It is also the only interpretation of the new law that makes any sense.

    So my answer to you is yes, you can collect just your spousal benefit if you husband files and suspends.


    Bill: I still am not sure I understand the new rules. I turned 65 in October of this year. My first ex is 63. At age 66 next year, I was planning to claim a divorce spousal benefit on her. My second ex will turn 62 in January 2020. I was planning to switch my ex-spousal benefit to her in January of that year, then claim my own benefit in October 2020 when I turn 70. I was married to both exes more than 10 years each. Can I still do that under the new law? Do I have to do something else by the end of April 2016?

    Also, my girlfriend turned 62 in September of this year, and she was married more than 10 years prior to her divorce. Can she still collect a divorcee spousal benefit at age 66, then switch to her own benefit at 70? Does she have to do something by the end of April 2016?

    These are important questions, because we were thinking of getting married before I learned about the divorcee spousal benefit in your book. If we can’t get it, we might tie the knot. I know that’s not romantic, but that life under Social Security rules.

    Larry Kotlikoff: You are OK with your strategy, that is, you are grandfathered in. Your girlfriend is also grandfathered in and will be able to do what you wrote. So getting married will cost you two full divorce(e) spousal benefits for four years. And because neither of you can file and suspend by or on April 29, 2016 (you can’t do so until you turn 66), if you marry, neither or you will be able to collect a full spousal benefit on the other’s record while waiting until 70 to collect your own retirement benefit on your own record. In short, Congress and the President, in their infinite wisdom, just legislated a huge tax on your getting married. Were you already married, you’d be facing a huge subsidy to getting divorced.


    Rebecca: I read your article on how the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 changes a number of Social Security Rules. Thank you for the information, although it came as quite a shock this close to needing my benefits!

    I am 57 and a widow. I lost my job and have been living off my savings. Finding a new job at this age has been quite a challenge. I had planned to take my late husband’s Social Security when I turned 60, then mine when I turned 70. Has this new bill changed my ability to do that? I am very concerned and hope you can give me some guidance. I keep hearing conflicting information, and I’ve been told you are the most reliable person to ask.

    Thank you in advance for any advice you can give me!

    Larry Kotlikoff: Fortunately, the new law doesn’t change your options at all. I wish you all the best. It could well be that taking your own retirement benefit at 62 and your widow’s benefit at or before full retirement is the better option. Only careful software can say for sure.

    The post Column: Widows lose thousands in Social Security benefits due to misinformation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    A bee collects pollen from a dandelion blossom on a lawn in Klosterneuburg April 29, 2013. The European Commission said on Monday it would go ahead and impose a temporary ban on three of the world's most widely used pesticides because of fears they harm bees, despite EU governments failing to agree on the issue. In a vote on Monday, EU officials could not decide whether to impose a two-year ban - with some exceptions - on a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, produced mainly by Germany's Bayer and Switzerland's Syngenta. The Commission proposed the ban in January after EU scientists said the chemicals posed an acute risk to honeybees, which pollinate many of the crops grown commercially in Europe. R REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader  (AUSTRIA - Tags: AGRICULTURE ANIMALS ENVIRONMENT) - RTXZ3DT

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In this week when we think about food, we take a look now at the vital role bees play in getting some of your favorite dishes to the table, and the way commercial beekeepers in the U.S. are struggling to keep their bees healthy.

    Allison Aubrey of National Public Radio has our report.

    The story is part of the NewsHour’s ongoing collaboration with NPR.

    ALLISON AUBREY: It’s harvest time at Adee Honey Farms in Bruce, South Dakota. Bret Adee’s the third generation to manage the 80,000 hives the Adees have scattered across five Midwestern states. He says beekeeping these days is much harder than it’s ever been.

    BRET ADEE, Adee Honey Farms: In 2010, our bees were just destroyed in a couple of weeks. Most of our bees died.

    ALLISON AUBREY: Bret says things really haven’t improved much.

    BRET ADEE: I would to see about twice to three times as many bees in most of the hives right now. It will be a real challenge to keep them alive through the winter.

    ALLISON AUBREY: The Adees are not alone. According to a preliminary survey from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, commercial beekeepers lost 42 percent of their colonies last year. Bees are a critical part of agriculture.

    Adee trucks his bees out to pollinate California’s almond groves every year. And it’s not just almonds. Bees pollinate everything from apples to cherries and squash. To figure out what’s plaguing the bees, the Obama administration assembled a task force last year. Scientists at the EPA, USDA and researchers across the country who have been studying the problem are finding there are multiple issues.

    Bees have fewer wildflowers to forage on due to a loss of habitat. There’s viruses that pests pass on to the bees. Climate change is thought to play a role too. Another issue is pesticides. Some studies suggest that a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoid, or neonics for short, are harming the bees.

    These pesticides are coated onto the seed of about 80 percent of the corn that’s grown in the United States and about half the soybeans too. To get a sense of that scale, imagine a cornfield like this taking up the entire state of California. That’s how much of this pre-treated seed is being planted.

    CHRISTIAN KRUPKE, Purdue University: This is what corn seeds look like after they have been treated.

    ALLISON AUBREY: The pesticide is put onto the corn before it’s ever planted?

    CHRISTIAN KRUPKE: That’s right.

    ALLISON AUBREY: Christian Krupke is an entomologist at Purdue University who studies bees. His research shows that neonicotinoids can harm bees.

    What is a neonicotinoid?

    CHRISTIAN KRUPKE: A neonicotinoid is — as the name would suggest, it’s based on nicotine. They’re less toxic to mammals, which is a big feature in their wide adoption. But they are more toxic to honey bees and to other insects.

    ALLISON AUBREY: Neonics are a relatively new class of pesticide. They have been around since the early 1990s. They are easier for farmers to use than the traditional method of spraying crops. And according to researchers at Penn State University, their use has increased more than 11-fold since 2003. Companies that sell them are making billions of dollars.

    CHRISTIAN KRUPKE: Virtually all of these large acre plants are being treated. So, the level of use is way out of step with the level of the threat. In most fields, and where we have worked, we just haven’t been able to find levels of pests that would justify the level of use.

    ALLISON AUBREY: Krupke published a study that linked bee deaths with the pesticide-laden dust that flies up during the planting of the pre-treated corn seeds.

    CHRISTIAN KRUPKE: We collected some of those bees and analyzed them and found neonicotinoids on them and in them, so there is an intersection between planting these crops and killing foraging honey bees.

    ALLISON AUBREY: Bayer CropScience is one of the leading manufacturers of neonicotinoids. Bayer’s chief scientist, David Fischer, acknowledges Krupke’s findings, but he says Bayer has a seed lubricant that reduces the dust. He says that, outside these acute exposures, neonicotinoids are not harmful to bees.

    DAVID FISCHER, Bayer CropScience: We have done those studies. And those studies basically show, if you spray the product, it’s not safe for the bees. If you apply the product to the soil or as a seed treatment, the level of residues that gets up into the plant is in a safe range.

    ALLISON AUBREY: Christian Krupke is not convinced.

    CHRISTIAN KRUPKE: We find these pesticides in the water. Bees drink water. Plants use water. We find that wildflowers that grow near these areas also have some of these pesticides in them. You add that up over the course of a season, and, yes, we do find concerning levels.

    ALLISON AUBREY: Krupke says those levels do not kill the bees, but may leave them more vulnerable.

    Bayer’s chief scientist says the major threat to bees is a mite that punctures the honey bees body and feeds on its blood. It’s known as the Varroa mite. And a recent report issued by President Obama’s task force also points to the mite as one issue.

    DAVID FISCHER: Eighty percent of the problem is Varroa mites and the viruses and the diseases those viruses cause.

    ALLISON AUBREY: But some beekeepers suspect the increased use of the newer pesticides is making their bees more vulnerable to the mite.

    BRET ADEE: For 15 years, we managed that Varroa mite and kept our losses under 5 to 8 percent. Now we’re losing 50 percent of the bees every year.

    ALLISON AUBREY: Pesticide manufacturers, including Bayer and Syngenta have launched campaigns of their own to boost bee health. Both companies are planting millions of flowers in the U.S. to increase bee forage.

    And in 2014, Bayer CropScience opened this $2 million bee care center in North Carolina, where they conduct workshops and tours. Environmentalists say these initiatives are a diversion from the real problem, the pesticides these companies manufacture, something Fischer rejects.

    DAVID FISCHER: Bayer has actually been in the business of providing products to beekeepers for more than 20 years. It’s not something that we just started doing.

    ALLISON AUBREY: Beekeepers in Europe came out in force a few years ago in support of the European Union’s partial ban on the use of some of these neonics.

    And here in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency says it will speed up a safety review and likely not allow any new uses of the pesticide. Environmental groups are locked in several court battles challenging the EPA over the registration of these pesticides.

    Manufacturers maintain that neonics are vital for increasing crop production and safer than spraying.

    DAVID FISCHER: They’re extremely valuable. They increase crop yields often by 20 percent vs. the other competitors. So, they contribute billions of dollars to the ag economy in the United States.

    CHRISTIAN KRUPKE: That would be true if these products, these neonicotinoids, were indispensable to these crops, to agriculture, but they’re not.

    Some of our own work in corn and the work of others in the United States has shown that it’s very difficult to consistently show a yield benefit.

    ALLISON AUBREY: Lucas Criswell farms close to 2,000 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and rye in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna Valley. He has stopped using treated seed because he found it wasn’t only killing the bad pests, but the pests he needed to ward off the slugs that were eating his soybean crops.

    LUCAS CRISWELL, Farmer: The soil in our fields are a huge ecology of different critters and insects. And they’re all there. We need good and bad. It takes a balance of them all, and that’s what we have seen.

    ALLISON AUBREY: Criswell now keeps pests at bay in his fields by planting crops that encourage beneficial insects. The treated seeds cost more, so this method ends up being cheaper for him.

    Is it too soon enough to say whether you’re getting the same yields?

    LUCAS CRISWELL: Is there corn growing on that hill? It grew.

    ALLISON AUBREY: It looks like a lot of corn.

    Earlier this year, President Obama’s task force called for a reevaluation of the pesticides. And, consistent with the president’s requirements, the EPA has expedited its review.

    I’m Allison Aubrey of NPR News for the PBS NewsHour in Bruce, South Dakota.

    The post Are pesticides to blame for the massive bee die-off? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    laquanmcdonald_still

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now back to the news out of Chicago.

    Within the past hour, the mayor and chief of police held a press conference about the police officer’s killing of a 17-year-old last year.

    RAHM EMANUEL (D), Mayor of Chicago: We need, as a city, to get to a point where young men in our community and in parts of our city see an officer and don’t just see an officer with a uniform and a badge, but they see him as a partner in helping them reach their full potential, and they see in that officer a mentor, a little league coach, a leader in their church and in their community, which they are.

    But we also have to get to a place in the city where officers who patrol communities in our city see a young man not as a potential problem and a risk, but they also are seeing that young man as an individual who is worthy of their protection and their potential.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: This has been one incident in a number of shootings recently of African-American men by police officers that have sparked outrage. Protests in Minneapolis continued today over the shooting death of Jamar Clark there nine days ago. Today, two people were arrested after five people were shot last night in protests there.

    Jeffrey Brown has more on both of these stories.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke is being held without bail after he was charged Tuesday morning with the first-degree murder of Laquan McDonald. The 17-year-old black teenager was shot sixteen times in October 2014, after Van Dyke, who is white, confronted the teen for allegedly puncturing a police cruiser’s tire.

    Cook County state’s attorney Anita Alvarez discussed the charge this afternoon.

    ANITA ALVAREZ, Cook County State’s Attorney: It is my determination that this defendant’s actions, of shooting Laquan McDonald when he didn’t pose an immediate threat of great bodily harm or death, and his subsequent actions of shooting Laquan McDonald while he lay on the ground after previously being struck by gunfire, were not justified, and they were not a proper use of deadly force by this police officer.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yesterday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel condemned the shooting.

    RAHM EMANUEL: This officer didn’t uphold the law. He took the law into this own hand. Didn’t build the trust that we want to see and wasn’t about providing the safety and security. So, at every point, he violated what we entrust him.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But after today’s indictment, Van Dyke’s attorney responded forcefully.

    DANIEL HERBERT, Attorney for Officer Van Dyke: This is a case that can’t be tried in the streets, it can’t be tried in the media, it can’t be tried on Facebook. With respect to certain comments that have been made by politicians, politicians who have not seen the video, where I believe my client’s conduct has been described as hideous, I would state that those comments — they are irresponsible, and they’re certainly unfair and prejudicial to my client.

    Thankfully, politicians will not be deciding the fate of my client in this case.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The city was under a court order to release, by tomorrow, the video recorded by Van Dyke’s police cruiser dashboard camera.

    Mayor Emanuel, who has resisted publicizing the video for months, met with pastors and other community leaders Monday to prepare them for what could be an intense reaction to its release.

    Late this afternoon, after word came out that the video would be released, I spoke to Reverend Jedidiah Brown, head of Young Leaders Alliance, and asked him what he expected to happen.

    REV. JEDIDIAH BROWN, Young Leaders Alliance: We can’t predict the reaction, because even listening to the reading of, it was painful. I can’t imagine the pain that will be felt when they see the video. There is a lot of anger, but the video is a vehicle that is unearthing a lot of the discontent that citizens on the South and the West Side of Chicago have had from police brutality, the lack of representation, lack of investment.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, late last night, five protesters outside a police precinct were shot by three unidentified attackers.

    PROTESTERS: We want justice! We want justice!

    JEFFREY BROWN: The protesters had been demonstrating outside the precinct since the fatal shooting of a young black man by a police officer more than a week ago. Some witnesses claimed 24-year-old Jamar Clark was either handcuffed or restrained at the time of the shooting. But the police union representing the officers involved denied that allegation and said Clark had gained control of an officer’s gun.

    Today, police arrested two male suspects, one white, one Hispanic. And the brother of Jamar Clark has called for an end to the demonstration in light of the shootings.

    But members of the Black Lives Matter movement, who have been credited with keeping the Minneapolis demonstrations peaceful, say they will continue to protest.

    MISKI NOOR, Black Lives Matter: We will not bow to fear or intimidation. Black Lives Matter exists to fight against this type of violent white supremacy, dangerous anti-black rhetoric, and criminalization of black people. Because of that, we are recommitting our occupation of the Fourth Precinct until we get justice.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Police say there were no life-threatening injuries among the five people shot Monday night. However, one victim underwent surgery for a gunshot wound to the stomach.

    And joining us now for more perspective on both of these cases is Georgetown University Law Center Professor Paul Butler. He is also a former federal prosecutor.

    Welcome to you.

    Clearly, things moved quickly after the order to release the video, right? Did that surprise you?

    PAUL BUTLER, Professor, Georgetown University Law Center: It did, in the sense that this shooting happened a year ago.

    If the evidence is that compelling to sustain murder charges, you have to wonder why it took the prosecutor so long to bring the charges and why until today officer Van Dyke was a working Chicago police officer.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, what does that tell you? What role did the video play, then?

    PAUL BUTLER: You know, it doesn’t denigrate the prosecutor to say that, in this case, politics played a role, as in every high-profile decision by a prosecutor.

    This is an area in which the politics over the last year has changed. So, this is a prosecutor who is involved in a tough reelection battle. In this day and age, in some cities with big minority populations like Chicago, it’s advantageous to a prosecutor to say that she goes after cops when they cross the line.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Now, a murder charge, first-degree murder is very unusual, extremely unusual, I understand, in the case of Chicago with the police force.

    What does that say to you about the case that the prosecutors think they have?

    PAUL BUTLER: You know, Jeffrey, a Chicago police officer hasn’t been charged with murder in 50 years at least.

    So, again, the prosecutor seems to think she’s got compelling evidence. It’s hard to get jurors to convict officers. Even when they think that they made a mistake, jurors are usually forgiving, because they think they’re just trying to do their job.

    So, normally, what happens in any criminal prosecution is that the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge. So, maybe the prosecutor is kind of throwing the book at this defendant, in order to get him to plead guilty.

    Usually, in these cases, when officers are charged — and that’s rare, even when they kill in the line of duty — but when they are charged, we usually see manslaughter or negligent homicide.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So you think they might be leaving some room here for a lesser charge, possibly?

    PAUL BUTLER: I would have to say, frankly, I wouldn’t want to take this case to trial.

    What’s sensational apparently about the video is the number of shots, 16. But we believe that’s not all that probative. If an officer reasonably believes that his life is in danger, he’s entitled to use deadly force, that is, to do whatever it takes to kill the assailant.

    I think what’s more probative is the fact that none of the other six officers on the scene fired at all, and that officer Van Dyke fired within 15, 30 seconds of arriving at the scene.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Now, come back to what you were talking about earlier, the larger context in both Chicago, Minneapolis, other cities, but especially Chicago here, the mistrust, historic mistrust between the African-American community and the police force and officials.

    PAUL BUTLER: You know, Jeffrey, I am from Chicago.

    And I have to say, growing up, the police were kind of notorious in my South Side community for not treating African-Americans fairly. The city has paid over $500 million just in the last 10 years to settle police brutality cases. Now, hopefully, this is the moment that, regardless of what happens in the criminal prosecution, the city will use this as an opportunity to assess.

    Clearly, the victim in this case was having some kind of mental health crisis. So the police need to be better trained how to address those situations. This also clearly makes the case for dashboards, for body cams for police officers.

    We have to wonder, if there wasn’t this video of this case, whether there would be this sustained attention to this issue in Chicago.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You heard probably in our setup piece just now my talk with Reverend Jedidiah Brown, talking about that — those very issues, what he hoped might come out of it, even though no one quite knows what happens next.

    In the press conference, we also heard the mayor, Rahm Emanuel, calling for a kind of moment, a testing moment for all of Chicago.

    PAUL BUTLER: Yes.

    So, you know, the reason that these issues are getting a lot of attention is because of this extraordinary activism that’s come under the rubric of the Black Lives Matter social movement. So they’re savvy. They’re strategic. And they understand, I think, that if there is a violent response to this video, that that’s not going to be in the best interest of this important social movement.

    So we haven’t really seen a lot of violence, especially, again, when these protests have been organized by Black Lives Matters. So, again, I think the citizens of Chicago will respond responsibly, especially because, in this case, the prosecutor is being proactive.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And just very briefly, you do see a — from a legal standpoint, you see a progression in these cases in how quickly they have been brought and how — the stronger cases being brought?

    PAUL BUTLER: Yes. Again, it’s important not to underestimate the impact of all this activism. It’s changing the politics, so that now police officers are in some ways being treated like other suspects when they’re being investigated for crimes.

    If there is evidence that they’re guilty, then now they’re being prosecuted, not all the time, not even most of the time, but some of the time. And from the perspective of activists, that’s progress.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Paul Butler of the Georgetown Law Center, thank you very much.

    PAUL BUTLER: It’s great to be here.

    The post Did dashboard video of black teen’s killing prompt murder charge for Chicago cop? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    A man kisses the coffin of American citizen Ezra Schwartz who was killed during a Palestinian attack on Thursday in the West Bank, during a ceremony at Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, before the coffin leaves for burial in the U.S November 21, 2015. REUTERS/Nir Elias  - RTX1V7SD

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, we take a look at the latest wave of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and how it connects to a new lawsuit against social media giant Facebook.

    Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner.

    MARGARET WARNER: Last month on this Jerusalem bus, three Israeli Jews were killed by two young Palestinians wielding guns and knives, among them, 76-year-old Richard Lakin. The American-Israeli teacher, a longtime U.S. civil rights activist and educator, brought his family to Israel in 1984.

    His son Micah Avni recounts the horror of his death.

    MICAH AVNI, Son of Stabbing Victim: One of the terrorists, he shot my father in the head. My father fell to the ground. The other terrorist took out a knife and started stabbing him. He stabbed him multiple times in the head, in the face, slit his stomach wide open, cutting most of his vital organs.

    MARGARET WARNER: Richard Lakin was among more than 70 targets of a new wave of attacks this fall on Jewish individuals by Palestinians. Since October 1, the Israeli Foreign Ministry says, at least 21 Israelis have been killed, and more than 184 wounded.

    What’s different, the vast majority of the attacks were by stabbing. Also notable, the assailants seem to be getting younger, as young as 12 or 13. Since the uptick in violence began, at least 86 Palestinians have been killed as well, shot during or after carrying out an attack, or in clashes with Israeli forces.

    After Lakin was stabbed, his son struggled to understand.

    MICAH AVNI: I asked myself, what would bring two 20-, 22-year-olds to board a bus and do something so brutal as to shoot three 70-year-olds and then to take a knife and start to cut them up?

    MARGARET WARNER: Then, online, he discovered hundreds of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube postings encouraging Palestinians to stab Israeli Jews, and instructing them how to do it.

    MICAH AVNI: Here’s the instructional video showing how to most effectively slice somebody open with a knife in a way that my father was sliced open. They have a terrorist encouraging people to go out and stab Jews and showing how to best prepare a knife and sharpen it.

    MARGARET WARNER: Avni believes such postings spurred the attacks on his father and others. He’s now the lead plaintiff in a New York class-action lawsuit against Facebook. It was filed by the Tel Aviv-based Israel Law Center, which takes legal action on behalf of terror victims and against what it calls Israel’s enemies; 20,000 Israelis have joined the suit.

    First, it asks the court to order Facebook to stop allowing Palestinian terrorists to incite violent attacks against Israeli citizens. It also charges that Facebook’s computers use algorithms to connect terrorists to users who’ve expressed interest in violent acts against Jews.

    NOURA ERAKAT, George Mason University: It’s not Facebook and YouTube and Twitter that is inspiring youth to take up knives against civilians. The root cause of this is the ongoing occupation and the violence, the military violence that’s meted out against Palestinian bodies every day.

    MARGARET WARNER: Noura Erakat is assistant professor at George Mason University outside Washington.

    Are you saying you think these videos are insignificant?

    NOURA ERAKAT: I think that they are insignificant relative to what Palestinians are actually producing.

    MARGARET WARNER: And, she adds, there are plenty of hateful postings from the Israeli side too.

    NOURA ERAKAT: Facebook was also the site of a page in the summer of 2014, that the page was, Israel demands revenge. Within less than a day, there were 37,000 likes on that page.

    MARGARET WARNER: Facebook declined to grant us an on-camera interview, sending a statement that said in part: “There is no place for content encouraging violence, direct threats, terrorism or hate speech on Facebook. We urge people to use our reporting tools if they find content that they believe violates our standards, so we can investigate and take swift action.”

    The lawsuit, however, wants the court to order Facebook to remove content on its own.

    Noura Erakat fears more vigorous policing by Facebook will be unfairly applied.

    NOURA ERAKAT: What we can be assured is that Facebook will take a much more stringent approach to Palestinian speech in ways that they won’t also apply to Israeli speech. So we will see the chilling of speech amongst Palestinians.

    MARGARET WARNER: That prospect concerns First Amendment lawyer and national security expert Jonathan Turley of George Washington University.

    JONATHAN TURLEY, George Washington University: Unfortunately, this is part of a trend that we have been watching occur in Europe largely, particularly France and England, where free speech is being eroded.

    It’s being eroded with the criminalization of speech that may be insulting or viewed as threatening to any group or individual. At the same time, we have seen civil litigation like this case where people are going to the courts to try to get injunctions. It’s an effort to use the court to punish or chill speech.

    MARGARET WARNER: Turley is just as critical of efforts to shut down Facebook’s algorithms connecting violence-minded Palestinians with one another.

    JONATHAN TURLEY: It’s not just free speech that people want to limit. Once you limit free speech, they seek to limit free association. There’s no question that — that companies like Facebook allow for dangerous associations to be made. The question is, are we comfortable with having the government or a court sit there and choose what are beneficial associations and what are not?

    MARGARET WARNER: Most radical groups use social media for recruitment and propaganda. So says J.M. Berger, author of a book on ISIS and a scholar at the Brookings Institution.

    J.M. BERGER, Co-Author, “ISIS: The State of Terror”: What we’re seeing is, there’s a growing trend toward them using it.

    WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Federal authorities arrested an Ohio man today, accusing him of spreading ISIS propaganda.

    MARGARET WARNER: In the U.S., general incitement has rarely been prosecuted. But, lately, some people are being charged, he says.

    J.M. BERGER: Well, the question of incitement to violence is a pretty complicated one. We had a recent case, an arrest of an ISIS supporter who had posted names and addresses of U.S. military personnel with an injunction to go kill those people. And that person was charged with incitement to violence, which we had not seen previously as a counterterrorism charge.

    MARGARET WARNER: Global social media companies must walk a balancing act between protected speech and illegal content.

    J.M. BERGER: Companies have to tailor their response to each country’s rules and regulations. Turkey and Russia have been the source of a very large number of take-down requests to remove content, based on claims that the content is terrorist. But their definitions of terrorism are not necessarily the same as ours.

    MARGARET WARNER: Turley believes the Paris attacks prove Europe’s cracking down on violent content has been ineffective.

    JONATHAN TURLEY: If you look at Germany, which has the longest experience on this in prohibiting even symbols like the swastika or people who deny the Holocaust, it hasn’t made a bit of difference. The neo-Nazi movement has continued to grow.

    By forcing these groups underground, you lose track, not only of them, but their views and how they’re changing. Much of our actionable intelligence comes from being on these sites.

    MARGARET WARNER: So your view is, on the Internet, just let 1,000 poisonous flowers bloom, whatever the effect?

    JONATHAN TURLEY: No. You know, these companies have the right to pull material. There’s a big difference between asking a government entity like a court to censor or strip speech.

    MARGARET WARNER: In the U.S., policing of sites generally falls to the companies themselves, says Brookings’ Berger:

    J.M. BERGER: These companies suspend thousands of users every day for a variety of reasons, for instance, child pornography, other kinds of content and harassment. And what we don’t have is any kind of disclosure of who they suspend and why.

    MARGARET WARNER: One thing that can prompt them to act, he says, is negative publicity.

    J.M. BERGER: The companies are extremely sensitive to bad press. Those stories will eventually have an effect, even on companies that claim to have a very high-minded mandate about free speech.

    MARGARET WARNER: Facebook’s response is expected in the New York State Supreme Court in January.

    For Micah Anvi and his lawyers, even if their lawsuit fails, a publicity-driven change in Facebook policing policies would be a victory.

    I’m Margaret Warner for the PBS NewsHour.

    The post Why 20,000 Israelis are suing Facebook over Palestinian attacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi, Russia November 24, 2015. Speaking before a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah, Putin called Turkey's downing of a Russian fighter jet "a stab in the back" carried out by the accomplices of terrorists, saying the incident would have serious consequences for Moscow's relations with Ankara. REUTERS/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY           - RTX1VLRB

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We return now to the fight against the Islamic State group and how those efforts might be hindered by Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane.

    I’m joined by Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO. He’s now a professor at Harvard University. And Angela Stent, author of “The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the 21st Century.” She’s a senior fellow at the Transatlantic Academy.

    And we welcome you both.

    So, just based on what we know, Angela Stent, who do we think was at fault here? Was it the Turks for allegedly violating Russian airspace or was it the Russians for — I’m sorry — the Russians for going into Turkish airspace, or the other way around?

    ANGELA STENT, Author, “The Limits of Partnership”: Well, apparently, the Russians were only in Turkish airspace for less than a minute.

    But this isn’t the first time apparently that Russian planes have violated Turkish airspace. The Turks claim that they gave the Russians 10 warnings. The Russians claim that that’s not true. But it does appear that they were briefly in Turkish airspace. The question is, could this have been de-escalated? Could the Turks maybe have offered to escort them out of Turkish airspace?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Nicholas Burns, if they were in Turkish — over Turkish airspace, even for less than half-a-minute, was that something that warranted being shot down by the Turkish military?

    NICHOLAS BURNS, Harvard University: Well, the history and circumstances are important here.

    They did violate Turkish airspace. And, as President Obama said, every country has a right, Turkey has a right to defend that airspace. But the Russians have violated Turkish airspace on several occasions over the last two months. Russian drones have gone across the border.

    And the Turks have warned the Russians both publicly and privately. The Russians have also been bombing Syrian Turkmen, ethnic Turkmen villages very close to that border, and the Turks warned the Russians about that. It seems to be the last straw for the Turks.

    There are some people who are saying the Turks should have acted differently, as Angela said, that they might have escorted the fighters out, but there was fair warning to the Russians. And as a NATO ally, it’s very important that the United States defend this right that every country’s border are sacrosanct.

    And what the Russians did is clearly illegal under international law.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Angela Stent, if the Russians were repeatedly invading Turkish airspace, even for a brief time, the Turks then thought ahead about what they were doing. And what did they accomplish by having done this?

    ANGELA STENT: Well, I think the Turks, they disagree with the Russians on what they’re doing in Syria. The Turks of course are taking all these refugees from President Assad. The Russians are supporting Assad.

    And as Nick said, they have been bombing and killing Turkmen groups in Syria that are protected really by Turkey. So I think this is something that’s been brewing for some time. And I think, on a broader point, ever since the Russians began the bombing campaign in Syria and gave the U.S., for instance, one hour’s notice to get out of the sky, there has been this brinkmanship and there has been the danger that something like this would happen.

    And so I’m sure that the Turks in some senses were just waiting for something like this to happen and felt that they had to take a stance on this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Nicholas Burns, if that’s the case, if the Turks thought in advance and in essence planned to do this the next time a Russian plane crossed their border, what does that say about what the Turks are — what their posture is at this point?

    NICHOLAS BURNS: Well, I think President Obama got the balance right today.

    He clearly backed the Turks on the legal issue of protection of borders, but he also said that he would spend all of his time trying now to de-escalate this conflict. And I think what that means, Judy, is that the United States is going to be very active both in Moscow and Ankara to counsel both to stand down from any further altercation.

    What really needs to happen — and Angela is absolutely correct about this — is, it’s a crowded airspace in a very small country. You have American, French, sometimes Arab, Russian aircraft and Turkish aircraft patrolling in a very small geographical area. And so deconflicting those air operations, having channels among the militaries to let each other know when they’re going to be conducting combat operations is critical.

    The U.S. and Russia have begun to do that under Secretary Ash Carter’s leadership. The Turks and Russians clearly have not. And I think it’s the role of the United States to try to promote that kind of transparency, because we don’t want to see a further incident like. Very dangerous. We haven’t had anything like this in nearly 60 years in the NATO relationship with both the Soviet Union and Russia.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, before I ask you both about how it gets calmed down, let me just ask you the question the other way, Angela Stent. Why are the Russians repeatedly crossing the border into Turkey? Do they not see that as a provocative offense?

    ANGELA STENT: Well, I think the Russians, they are stating that they’re back in Syria, that they want to be a leader, if you like, in this coalition and that the Turks don’t have the right to do this to them.

    And they really want to be — they want the U.S. to come to them and they want this broad coalition. They want to be the leader. And so they’re really being — I mean, there is some reckless behavior here, obviously, even though they have been deconflicting, as Nick said, with the U.S. on a bilateral basis, and, by the way, the Israelis, too.

    But they’re rather selective in the countries with which they have so far being willing to deconflict.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What does this say — to both of you, Nick, to you first. What does this say about the efforts? And you have just mentioned them going along to try to put a coalition together to find some resolution in Syria.

    NICHOLAS BURNS: Well, it’s tragically ironic that the two countries that France and the United States need to join this coalition against the Islamic State are Turkey and Russia.

    Turkey, as you know, has been — has bombed in the recent weeks the Syrian Kurdish groups that have been the most effective fighting force against the Islamic State. The Russians have made a great rhetorical show of saying they’re against the Islamic State, but 95 percent of airstrikes are not against the Islamic State, but against some of the Syrian groups, the Sunni and Turkmen groups opposing President Assad.

    So, the challenge here is to make the coalition bigger and stronger, to find a way to bring the Russians and Turks in, but also, Judy, to bring the Europeans in. Most of the Europeans are missing in action. Britain is not involved in the air campaign in Syria. And the Arab states that made a big show of joining this coalition several months ago are mainly focused on Yemen, not here.

    And so I think that’s the challenge for President Obama and President Hollande as they met at the White House this morning.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Angela Stent, do you see any prospects for putting this coalition together, getting it stronger, getting it broader, when, as Nicholas has just said, the Russians are going after the anti-Assad rebels? They’re not primarily going after ISIS.

    ANGELA STENT: I think it’s going to be very difficult. We fundamentally — we disagree with the Russians on the fate of President Assad, and then we disagree who the enemy is.

    We can agree that it’s Islamic State, but, as has been said, the Russians have been bombing mainly groups that are not part of the Islamic State. I think it’s going to be extremely difficult. And it would take a resolution on Russia’s part to understand that they have to be willing to make compromises on the issue of, you know, which groups you, in fact, are targeting. And so far, we haven’t seen very much willingness on their part to do that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Nicholas Burns, is — do you sense, though, that there are still efforts to bring the Russians around? I mean, I keep reading reports that the administration continues to work on that, but we just haven’t seen any sign of it yet.

    NICHOLAS BURNS: Well, we need to work with the Russians, mainly because they need the Russians at the negotiating table in Vienna. And Secretary Kerry, I think, clearly understands there won’t be any progress on these negotiations — and these are going to be tough, complex negotiations — unless the Russians and Iran and Hezbollah are there.

    That’s another problem for the Russians. They have a mainly Sunni Muslim population in their own North Caucasus region, but the Russians have aligned themselves with the Shia powers, with Iran, with Hezbollah, and with the Alawite regime in Syria.

    And I think if the Russians don’t restrain the Syrian government from firing barrel bombs into civilian neighborhoods, the United States ought to consider a no-flight zone with Turkey and other countries to shut down the Syrian air force. That’s what Secretary — former Secretary Hillary Clinton has been advocating. And I think she’s right that the way to save civilian lives and reduce the number of refugees is shut down air traffic in the northern part of Syrian.

    I think, Judy, that’s an idea that the administration has to consider now, given these events.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we know a number of candidates in fact are talking about that. Well, the situation only got more complicated today.

    Nicholas Burns, Angela Stent, we thank you.

    NICHOLAS BURNS: Thank you.

    The post How the Turkey-Russia conflict complicates anti-Islamic State efforts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    Pilots of a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 fighter jet prepare before a flight at the Hmeymim air base near Latakia, Syria, in this handout photograph released by Russia's Defence Ministry October 5, 2015. Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian-made warplane near the Syrian border on November 24, 2015 after repeatedly warning it over air space violations, Turkish officials said, but Moscow said it could prove the jet had not left Syrian air space.  REUTERS/Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. - RTX1VKF8

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There is breaking news out of Chicago tonight. The mayor and the chief of police are holding a press conference at this hour about the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

    They’re expected to release a video of the shooting. The teenager was fatally shot last year by police officer Jason Van Dyke, who emptied all 16 rounds of his firearm. Earlier today, Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder.

    Tonight, the Chicago Police Department has ordered most of the police force into uniform in anticipation of possible protests. The family of the victim has urged people to stay calm. We will have more on this story later in the program.

    The air war over Syria saw a long-feared escalation today, as a Russian warplane was shot down by the Turks in disputed circumstances, while, in Washington, President Obama pledged American solidarity to French President Hollande, as the two leaders discussed efforts to unite a global coalition to fight the Islamic State 10 days after the attacks in Paris.

    This fiery streak hurtling earthward is a Russian Sukhoi fighter jet, shot down by Turkish warplanes. Turkey said the jet entered its airspace and ignored multiple calls to leave. But Russia rejected those claims, and said the jet was operating over Syrian airspace amid its bombing campaign. The incident occurred near Turkey’s southernmost border.

    Rebel groups on the ground said the plane crashed close to the Syrian town of Yamadi. Russia’s military said that both pilots ejected, and confirmed one was killed. The fate of the second pilot remained unclear. Russian officials said he was still missing, but a commander of a rebel group in Syria said they killed both pilots.

    MAN (through interpreter): Our comrades opened fire into the air. We all did. They died in the air.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A Russian soldier aboard a helicopter was also killed during a search-and-rescue operation. One Russian chopper was brought down by Syrian rebel fire. This video apparently shows its destruction, using an anti-tank missile supplied to some Syrian rebel groups by the United States.

    The shoot-down led to immediate and harsh words. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of serious consequences in denouncing the Turks.

    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter): Today’s loss is a stab in the back delivered to us by accomplices of terrorists. I cannot qualify what happened today as anything else. Our pilots and our plane in no way threatened the Turkish republic.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Later, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov canceled a scheduled visit to Turkey and said Russian citizens should avoid travelling to the country.

    But, in Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country’s actions were justified.

    PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turky (through interpreter): We are feeling distressed, but the actions were fully in line with Turkey’s rules for engagement that have been declared before. Turkey doesn’t harbor enmity towards its neighbors.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Brussels, NATO convened an emergency meeting at the request of Turkey, a NATO member-state.

    Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he supports Turkey, but the facts must emerge.

    JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO Secretary-General: This is a situation which calls on that we all are prudent and that we call contribute to de-escalating the situation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: At the White House, President Obama spoke after meeting with French President Francois Hollande on efforts to ramp up the U.S.-led coalition’s campaign against Islamic State. He said Turkey had a right to defend its airspace.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I do think that this points to an ongoing problem with the Russian operations, in the sense that they are operating very close to a Turkish border and they are going after moderate opposition that are supported not only Turkey, but a wide range of countries.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The president again said Russia could work with the coalition if it decides only to target the Islamic State. But as it stands, Mr. Obama said Russia had made a more limited choice.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Russia right now is a coalition of two, Iran and Russia, supporting Assad.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, Hollande said France would redouble its efforts to fight ISIS, but he said that effort will go only so far.

    PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, (through interpreter): France will not intervene militarily on the ground. It is for the local forces to do so.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Hollande will be in Moscow Thursday to meet with Putin.

    We will come back to look at the consequences of the shoot-down of the Russian plane after the news summary.

    French prosecutors announced today the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks likely had plans for another suicide bombing in the city’s business district. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who died in a police raid last week, also moved actively from crime scene to crime scene in Paris just hours after the carnage.

    FRANCOIS MOLINS, Paris Prosecutor (through interpreter): The geolocation of the suspected phone line of Abdelhamid Abaaoud shows that he was present and notably near the attacks sites and, notably, near the Bataclan concert hall. This makes us think that he returned to the crime scenes after the attacks on the cafes and restaurants and while the anti-terror brigade was still working at the Bataclan.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Jawad Bendaoud, the man who allegedly housed the ringleader and at least two others, was charged today in connection with the attacks. He claims he didn’t know that they were terrorists.

    Meanwhile, in Brussels, Belgium, a terror alert extended into a fourth day. Soldiers patrolled the streets and the subway remained closed.

    Tunisia is under a state of emergency tonight after a terrorist attack on a bus filled with presidential guards killed at least 12 people. The explosion happened along a main avenue in the capital city, Tunis. There were reports that it was caused by a bomber who detonated an explosive device inside the bus. Ten days ago, authorities increased security levels and deployed extra forces across the capital.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Israel and the West Bank today as sporadic violence flared in the area. A Palestinian drove his vehicle into a group of Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint. Elsewhere, Palestinians hurled stones at Israeli troops in Ramallah, who fired back with tear gas and rubber bullets.

    Hours later, Kerry was in that city to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Earlier, he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: No people anywhere should live with daily violence, with attacks in the streets, with knifes or scissors or cars. And it is very clear to us that terrorism, these acts of terrorism which are taking place, deserve the condemnation that they are receiving.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Kerry made no mention of reviving peace talks. This has been the deadliest week since the current wave of violence broke out in mid-September.

    Liberia has recorded its first Ebola death since July, a 15-year-old boy. He died in an eastern district of the West African country on Monday night. Both his father and brother have also been diagnosed with Ebola. Health workers have identified about 160 other people who might be at risk because they came in direct contact with the boy. Liberia’s Ebola outbreak began in March 2014 and killed more than 4,800 people.

    The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the governor of Indiana for suspending programs that help resettle Syrian refugees in his state. Republican Mike Pence stopped accepting Syrians in the wake of the Paris attacks. The federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of the non-profit group Exodus Refugee Immigration.

    In Indianapolis, its executive director argued it’s illegal for states to ban refugees based on their nationality.

    CARLEEN MILLER, Exodus Refugee Immigration: I really think it is completely misguided, because refugees are admitted into the U.S. They are legal persons here, and they have the freedom of movement, just like anyone else. So they can go to any state in the union that they choose.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: At the same time, the Canadian government today unveiled a plan to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February. The country’s new president, Justin Trudeau, hasn’t backed down from the pledge he made before the Paris attacks, and he promised the screening process would be vigorous.

    The state of Kentucky has restored voting rights to thousands of nonviolent felons who have already served out their sentences. Outgoing Democratic Governor Steve Beshear signed the executive order today. He leaves office next month. About 180,000 former prisoners are affected. In Florida, Virginia and Iowa, felons and ex-felons still permanently lose their right to vote, without a pardon from the governor.

    The U.S. economy did better than expected over the summer, expanding by more than 2 percent. The Commerce Department revised its initial figures, mainly because businesses restocked their shelves faster than estimated. Stocks on Wall Street today gained ground on rising crude oil prices. The Dow Jones industrial average added 19 points to close at 17812. The Nasdaq rose less than a point, and the S&P 500 gained two points.

    The post News Wrap: Russia, Turkey swap harsh rhetoric over shot-down plane appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0
    0 0

    Syrian refugees walk through a field near the village of Idomeni at the Greek-Macedonian border, July 14, 2015. The United Nations refugee agency said that Greece urgently needed help to cope with 1,000 migrants arriving each day and called on the European Union (EU) to step in before the humanitarian situation deteriorates further. More than 77,000 people have arrived by sea to Greece so far this year, more than 60 percent of them Syrians, with others fleeing Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea and Somalia, it said. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis - RTX1KAH1

    Syrian refugees walk through a field at the Greek-Macedonian border. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have now walked this route, trying to reach Europe, which is still grappling with the crisis. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

    The Swedish government announced Tuesday that it will introduce tighter border controls – further reducing the intake of asylum applicants – to force other EU countries to take significant action on the growing refugee crisis.

    Under the usual Swedish immigration policy, all those granted asylum are given permanent residency. With the new measures, however, temporary residence permits will only be given to the minimum number of refugees Sweden is obliged to help under EU and UN conventions. In addition, the country will enforce strict ID checks on all public transportation in and out of Sweden.

    These new policies are in response to the fact that Sweden feels it has been taking a disproportionate amount of responsibility in the migrant crisis facing Europe. Currently, Sweden has the largest proportion of Syrian refugees per population in Europe.

    The nordic country has been a top choice for migrants due to its generous asylum policy, well-developed welfare state, and high standard of living – all distinctions that Sweden prides itself on. However, in October, the Swedish Migration Agency declared that it expects to take in up to 190,000 asylum seekers in 2015 – double the number originally predicted in July.

    The announcement is an effort to compel other EU countries to take action in the growing refugee crisis.

    Back in August, Germany responded to the escalating crisis by temporarily suspending the Dublin Regulations, the EU immigration policy which states that immigrants must register for asylum with the first EU country they enter. However, in early November, Germany stated that it is “returning to orderly procedures” and installed a temporary border control on its border with Austria in response to the overwhelming number of Syrian refugees.

    The Dublin Regulation is largely not being followed in the current refugee crisis because a majority of migrants are entering through Greece, which does not have the capacity to handle them. The Swedish Prime Minister highlighted the urgent need for the 28-member bloc to create a permanent system that takes the burden off of border countries such as Greece and Macedonia and the “popular” countries such as Sweden and Germany to evenly share the burden of refugees and asylum seekers.

    “The situation is untenable,” Prime Minister Lofven told reporters. “It is clear that migration politics in the EU need to be completely reviewed.”

    The post Sweden introduces tighter border controls appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    A man playing the role of John Billington stands in the rain in the street at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts November 24, 2014.  Plimoth Plantation is a living museum portraying the life of the Native Americans and the English colonists in 1627, seven years after the colonists' arrival.  The three-day harvest festival and feast at the Plimoth Colony in 1621 is the model for the modern-day Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, according to the museum. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

    Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts is a living museum portraying the life of the Native Americans and the early English colonists, who often struggled to pay back the London businessmen who funded their passage to America. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    Editor’s Note: Economics is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the pilgrims. And yet, economics played a vital role in the pilgrims’ journey overseas and their first years in New Plymouth.

    For PBS NewsHour’s latest Making Sen$e segment, economics correspondent Paul Solman traveled to Plimoth Plantation, a recreation of the pilgrims’ 17th century settlement in New Plymouth. There, Paul spoke with historian Richard Pickering who explained that most of the first pilgrims were originally farmers in England living in “deep privation.” Crossing the ocean was a way to escape poverty.

    About 70 investors, known as merchant “adventurers,” pooled together capital and funded the passage. They expected, of course, a return on their investment. But the first brutal winter was not good for business, and nearly half the colonists died.

    Below, we have an excerpt from Ruth A. McIntyre’s “Debts Hopeful and Desperate: Financing the Plymoth Colony.” It is the Plimoth Plantation’s guidebook to colonial business and economics. We pick up with the pilgrims right after their first winter in New Plymouth as they struggle to pay back their debts. The text has been lightly edited for clarity. For more on the topic, tune into tonight’s Making Sen$e on the PBS NewsHour.

    Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor


    New Plymouth struggles with hardship and debt

    A successful relationship with the partners in England now lay at the heart of the welfare of the infant colony. Even though some of the London businessmen sympathized with the religious aims of the Pilgrims, they expected the investment of their capital to yield a return and rather quickly. Promotion of colonial ventures was new and risky. Thomas Weston and the later leaders of the merchant adventurers had not learned from the bitter experience of the large, incorporated Virginia Company that a long time must elapse before any profit could be expected from a colonial undertaking. They failed to calculate that even if the colonists engaged promptly in trading furs or catching fish, their initial task must be to build permanent dwellings and to feed themselves and a fair number of women and children.

    But they knew that ships set forth annually by merchants had fished along the New England coast for several years. These usually erected fishing stages and sometimes traded for furs. They required only a modest outlay by the investors in them and would up their accounts at the end of each voyage. It was much more costly, on the other hand, to uphold a permanent settlement until it was self-sustaining. When even the wealthy backers of Virginia and Bermuda complained about delayed profits, the small group of capitalists supporting the Pilgrims certainly could not afford to sink large funds for supplies year after year without receiving goods in return. At the beginning they apparently underestimated the extent of their task and seem to have neglected consistently the necessary provision for the Plymouth colony.

    The urgency of sending returns to these investors pressed on the Pilgrims from the start. When the Mayflower sailed home in 1621 without a profitable lading, Weston wrote a sharp criticism to the Governor. He had been informed about how the high death rate and short supplies had weakened the colony during the first dreadful winter, yet he charged the settlers with greater “weakness of judgment than weakness of hands. A quarter of the time you spend in discoursing, arguing and consulting would have done much more … The life of the business depends upon the lading of this ship, which if you do to any good purpose, that I may be freed from the great sums I have disbursed for the former and must do for the latter [the Fortune], I promise you I will never quit the business.”

    Robert Cushman, the business agent in England, brought this rebuke form the partners in November 1621. He came in the Fortune to inspect the colony briefly and to persuade the colonists to agree to the conditions the adventurers had insisted on. He returned at once to report his findings. Cushman, George Morton, William Bradford and Edward Winslow compiled a little tract to encourage the investors about the colony’s progress. Although a bit rosy in coloring, it relates what Cushman found.

    New Plymouth was situated on a good harbor with plenty of fish and woods close at hand. The settlers had built a fort at the top of the hill and common storehouses containing the first harvest, the colony’s precious arsenal and supplies from England. In the small, sturdy, farmhouses with roofs of thatch, scattered along the street running up the hill, lived the survivors of the first winter’s illness and privation. Their Indian friends, the Squanto and Samoset, had helped them conciliate the neighboring Indians and begin trade with them.

    Yet an undercurrent of discontent and friction disturbed the settlers. The system of sharing equally in all the arduous labor and what it produced was one source of unrest. Upon the unloading of 35 newcomers sent in the Fortune without proper clothing or “so much as a biscuit-cake or any other victuals,” the most stouthearted had a right to murmur at the addition of extra consumers before another crop could be harvested.

    A gap persisted between the Leyden immigrants and religious exiles, who had ventured their persons and savings, and the London contingent, some of them merely hirelings of the company. Bradford himself wrote Weston about being “yoked with some ill-conditioned people who will never do good.”

    Since these strains threatened the successful execution of the conditions with the London backers, which he had just persuaded the Pilgrims to sign, Cushman preached a sermon the Sunday before he left on the text, “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth” (I Corinthians 10:24). Urging his hearers not to labor for self-love or self-profit, he said: “Let there be no prodigal person to come forth and say, Give me the portion of lands and good that appertaineth to me, and let me shift for myself.” No one must think of gathering riches for himself until “our loving friends, which helped us hither, and now again supplied us,” were paid off.

    Certainly the leaders of the colony had not been unmindful of their responsibilities of the adventurers. Cushman’s ship was freighted with good clapboard and two hogshead of beaver and otter, a return cargo they judged worth £500. Bad luck assailed them, however, in the first of a series of disasters. A French privateer seized the vessel on its way home and pillaged the returns they had collected with so much effort.

    Even so, it is hard for us to understand why the Pilgrims were forced to endure such bitter hardship, indeed, at times, virtual starvation, for a period of about two years after the Fortune’s visit. They were continually disappointed at the failure to receive replenishment of their scanty provisions, yet they had to share with newcomers whose arrival they did not expect. The explanation for these harsh circumstances is to be found not so much in the colony as among the partners in England.

    The post What you didn’t know about the pilgrims: They had massive debt appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Flickr photo by Mike Mozart

    Flickr photo by Mike Mozart

    I’m a 40 year-old married, upper-middle class guy with three kids and a steady job. And I buy fast food for my family to eat on Thanksgiving.

    Not just any fast food through, I buy Boston Market, or “B-M” as my wife unappetizingly likes to remind me.

    When I tell people that our family tradition is to get takeout on the single greatest American holiday dedicated to home-cooking, they don’t know how to react.

    This isn’t how I was raised. My parents treat southern cooking like an art form. Every year they call and ask about our meal, hoping that we broke down and decided to deep fry a turkey, or at least roast a prime rib. And every year their reaction is the same. “Nope, it’s Boston Market again, Dad.” He shifts tone to disbelief — as if he’s on the other end of a prison phone call. “You did that again?”

    It’s acceptable to complain or find ways to undermine the traditions of most holidays. Not everyone celebrates all the religious biggies. Valentines day is a product of the greeting card companies. Even Thanksgiving gets knocked around for trivializing the impact European expansion had on Native Americans.

    Celebrating Thanksgiving in such a nontraditional format is too much for many people. But they should get with the program.But by adulthood, Thanksgiving is most people’s universal favorite. Most vegetarians I know love Thanksgiving. The most ardent Thanksgiving critics can be spotted indulging in at least one of the holiday’s ritual traditions. It’s an extra long weekend to eat, connect, watch football, play video games, and eat some more. There are no presents to buy, no expectations to uphold, and for my family, no pans to scrub.

    Celebrating Thanksgiving in such a nontraditional format is too much for many people. But they should get with the program.

    Every year I stand in line with a small group of like-minded folks watching scores of industrial rotisserie ovens spin turkeys at my local franchise. We share knowing glances. We’ve got this figured out. Across the nation there are people pulling overdone, underdone, or flat-out flavorless turkeys out of their ovens — but we’re here, about to grab a feast and run. I visualize the huge family gatherings with stacked trays of meat steadily getting cold. I remember the days I spent pacing the kitchen, waiting for the timer in a huge bird to pop.

    Our modern movable feast comes in a handful of reusable plastic containers, which I triumphantly carry into the house. The kids gather around, smacking their lips as we peel off the lids. Maybe a couple of the sides need a minute of nuking in the microwave. The sweet aroma of food we didn’t have to shop for and prepare drifts through the kitchen. In moments we’re at the table eating. Yes, we do dump the “BM” out of the containers into traditional table settings and pull out the good silverware. From that moment forward, our dinner is just like anyone else’s.

    Except, we got to spend the afternoon playing boardgames, kicking a soccer ball around outside, sitting by the fireplace reading, and otherwise soaking up the holiday minutes. I know for many people cooking is part of the ritual. That’s great. But for us, the rare chance to walk away from our labors and get out of the kitchen is too much to resist.

    Don’t get me wrong, this tradition isn’t perfect.

    I’d like to think there’s less food waste the way we do things, but that’s probably not the case. The bulk of food waste happens before it even gets into our hands.

    The food we’re eating isn’t very nutritious, but since when was Thanksgiving about watching what you eat?

    Most of all, I’m not happy that my meal means people have to work in food service on the holiday. But there’s a simple remedy. We should grab our movable feasts the day before Turkey Day and reheat right out of the refrigerator. Everyone knows Thanksgiving tastes better as leftovers anyway.

    I’m convinced, we’re doing exactly what the original pilgrims would have done. Life was hard in Plymouth colony and convenience didn’t exist. If there had been a local Boston Market franchise in 1620, the pilgrims would have pulled up in their wagons and loaded up on gift cards to share with their new Native American friends. It’s the American way.

    The post Every year I buy my family fast food for Thanksgiving dinner, and you should too appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Spartanburg, South Carolina, November 20, 2015. Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Reuters

    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump appeared to have mocked a reporter with a congenital condition. Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — An advocacy group is offering Donald Trump sensitivity training after he appeared to mock a reporter with a disability in a South Carolina speech.

    Jay Ruderman of the Ruderman Family Foundation in Boston said Thursday the Republican presidential contender should apologize to Serge Kovaleski of The New York Times and the public.

    Kovaleski has a congenital condition that affects joint movement. In a speech Tuesday in South Carolina, Trump said: “poor guy, you oughta see this guy,” and gestured in a jerky fashion as if imitating Kovaleski’s movements.

    Trump was challenging recollections by Kovaleski and many others about the 9/11 aftermath. Trump has made unsubstantiated claims that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey were seen celebrating the attacks.

    In 2001, Kovaleski, then with The Washington Post, and another Post journalist wrote a week after the 9/11 attacks about authorities in New Jersey detaining and questioning “a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks.” The story did not suggest “thousands” were celebrating, as Trump claimed, and a story then by The Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey, said the reports of such celebrations by Muslims proved unfounded.

    Even so, Trump has pointed to the Post story as backing up his claim and took issue with Kovaleski’s recent statement that he did not remember anyone alleging that large numbers of Muslims were celebrating.

    “Written by a nice reporter,” Trump said in the speech. “Now the poor guy, you oughta see this guy — uh, I don’t know what I said, uh, I don’t remember. He’s going like, I don’t remember.” His voice took a mocking tone, too.

    The Times expressed outrage afterward that Trump would “ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters.”

    Ruderman said Trump would benefit from a “series of sensitivity training sessions” and offered to provide them.

    “It is unacceptable for a child to mock another child’s disability on the playground, never mind a presidential candidate mocking someone’s disability as part of a national political discourse,” he said.

    The Associated Press filed this report.

    The post Trump called out for appearing to mock disability appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0
    0 0
    0 0

    Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his French counterpart Francois Hollande during a news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, November 26, 2015. France and Russia agreed on Thursday to exchange intelligence on Islamic State and other militant groups in Syria to help improve the effectiveness of their aerial bombing campaigns in the country, French President Francois Hollande said. REUTERS/Sergei Chirikov/Pool - RTX1W0MO

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: We return now to Russia, where The Wall Street Journal’s Moscow bureau chief, Nathan Hodge, was at the press conference with Putin and Hollande. I talked to him earlier this evening.

    So, Nathan, what sort of cooperation did these two leaders outline in their press conference today? For a lot of people, they might have assumed that France and Russia were already cooperating for the past week.

    NATHAN HODGE, The Wall Street Journal: Well, that’s really been the question on everyone’s mind here because both Mr. Putin and Mr. Hollande have said what they would like to see some kind of international coalition here, but none of the outlines have been clear. President Putin said that he could see a situation that they had agreed upon where there would be certain territories that would be agreed upon, where you can strike, where you can’t strike. And there also seems to be an agreement here to go after the oil industry, or the oil trade that is one of the sources of income for Islamic State.

    So, those seem to be two areas of cooperation here. But President Putin also outlined or made clear his anger over the downing of the Russian aircraft by a Turkish F-16 on Tuesday, saying that the Russians had actually been passing on information about the location of their aircraft.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, the Turks had released some audio just in the past 24 hours showing the Turkish military repeatedly telling the Russian pilot, “Hey, you’re coming into our air space. Turn away, turn away.” Did he respond to that at all today?

    NATHAN HODGE: Well, President Putin didn’t respond directly to that, but he said any of the Turkish explanations were just, quote, “excuses.” And yesterday, we also got some interesting footage, an interview that was aired with the aviator, the Russian aviator, who managed to eject and survive the incident, survive the shoot-down, and he had said that the crew of the aircraft had received no warning.

    But what we’ve seen today, especially just advance of Mr. Hollande’s visit, is a whipping up of some pretty strongly anti-Turkish sentiment and threats by Russian officials to retaliate, not with military force, but to respond economically. Turkey has a serious tourist trade with Russia, got strong ties with gas exports. And Russian officials have made clear that they’re going to be looking for ways to respond and respond economically to what’s happened.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And do the leaders of Russia have public support for these moves?

    NATHAN HODGE: Well, that’s an interesting question because Putin’s ratings, which are steadily quite high, have reached record highs, in fact, since the intervention at the very end of September in Syria. There’s been a promise in many ways of a clean and rather surgical war from the air.

    Mr. Putin has made it pretty clear that he doesn’t expect to see any forces on the ground, any Russian boots on the ground. Until the downing of this aircraft, there had been no combat deaths by Russian forces until the downing of the aircraft and the subsequent rescue mission, in which a Russian marine was also killed.

    But this doesn’t seem to have dented Putin’s popularity in any way.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: It seems that the Turks are almost trying to ratchet things down while the Russians are trying to ratchet them up.

    NATHAN HODGE: Well, this has been a pattern as well. Putin is nothing if not a confident actor on the world stage at this point, and he’s also playing, as well, to a domestic audience here.

    There’s been a fair amount of genuine anger as well directed at Turkey. We’ve seen rocks and eggs pelted at the Turkish embassy here. And there is very interesting incident today as well where a number of Turkish businessmen were detained.

    Again, I think this is just a case where we’re going to be seeing a fair amount of official anti-Turkish sentiment, but definitely there’s been an outrage over the death of the Russian aviator. And a fairly belligerent and I would say a somewhat angry tone that we saw today in the press conference following the meeting with French president Hollande.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: There seems to be one crucial gap between France and Russia still, which is the agreement upon whether or not President Bashar al-Assad of Syria should stay or go. That has not been closed, right?

    NATHAN HODGE: Right. And this meeting really underscores how much distance remains between the West and between the Kremlin, when it comes to whether or not Bashar al-Assad should stay or should go. Putin reiterated today what we’ve heard from him before, which is that it’s up to the Syrian people to decide. And he’s also made clear that he sees the only legitimate force on the ground — that is, the only one that’s capable of taking the fight to Islamic State — as Syria’s — Syrian government forces, the Syrian army, and the forces on side with Bashar al-Assad.

    So, it’s — it’s pretty clear here that there’s not really been sort of a major closing of the gap between France, between the West, and between the Kremlin on this. And it’s not clear whether this meeting will resolve that or will push the ball forward in any way towards some kind of resolution in Syria.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Nathan Hodge, Moscow “Wall Street Journal” bureau chief — thanks so much for joining us.

    The post France, Russia unify to fight Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate August 11, 2014. Islamic State militants have killed at least 500 members of Iraq's Yazidi ethnic minority during their offensive in the north, Iraq's human rights minister told Reuters on Sunday. The Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria, has prompted tens of thousands of Yazidis and Christians to flee for their lives during their push to within a 30-minute drive of the Kurdish regional capital Arbil. Picture taken August 11, 2014. REUTERS/Rodi Said (IRAQ - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) FOR BEST QUALITY IMAGE ALSO SEE: GM1EA8M1B4V01 - RTR424VU

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: More than a year ago, the desperate plight of Iraq`s Yazidi religious minority stranded on Sinjar Mountain helped draw the United States into the war against ISIS in Iraq. The militants are believed to have killed hundreds of civilians from Sinjar and surrounding areas. Is also captured several thousand Yazidi women, whom they systematically enslaved.

    Earlier this month, American airstrikes and Kurdish forces drove ISIS out of Sinjar City, cutting off a main IS supply route to Syria and allowing residents to go back.

    Jane Arraf reports on what some of them have found.

    JANE ARRAF: There`s no running water or electricity in Sinjar. Even making tea is a challenge. But Burgess Gharbi and two of his sons have come back every day for the past week to try to get their house in shape for the rest of the family. They were luckier than a lot of Yazidis. No one from their immediate family was killed or captured by ISIS.

    Although his fabric shop was destroyed, there was only minor damage to his home. But it`s still not safe enough to live here.

    BURGESS GHARBI, Shop owner (through interpreter): If the forces advanced a little further we would have been out of mortar range, and a lot of families would have come back as long as we stayed out of mortar range. We were back here two days when a mortar landed over there.

    JANE ARRAF: Burgess searched the house for hidden bombs and then he and the boys started repairing and cleaning. It`s a mixed neighborhood of Yazidis and Muslim Kurds. Burgess says he has called his Muslim neighbors and hopes they`ll come back.

    The last time Basima Ismael and her family saw their house they were fleeing ISIS. They`ve come back to Sinjar from Iraq`s Kurdistan region to see if there’s anything left to come home to. They spent five years building the house. They’d only lived in it for three. Every room has been damaged and looted.

    They took the TV, the fridge, the freezer and the car. But they did much, much worse.

    ALI QASSIM, Sinjar Resident (through interpreter): We Yazidis, Muslims, all the different people of Sinjar were the same. We were living together. They set us against each other and they killed us. We killed each other. They created sectarianism.

    JANE ARRAF: The family is Muslim Kurdish in a city of Yazidis and Kurds. In one room, they find the dust-covered Koran. It`s one of the few things ISIS didn`t steal.

    Rayan rescues photographs. With the takeover of Sinjar, that part of his life is now over. Basima retrieves some pots and pans, some blankets, a favorite tea-set, as they put what they can salvage in the taxi.

    A roadside bomb explodes on a nearby street. They get back in the taxi to head for the safer Kurdish region.

    Kurdish forces are busy still fighting ISIS on the other side of the mountain and the city seems lawless. Civilians wander around with guns. Politicians and union leaders drive around posing for photos.

    Apart from fighters, the city is almost deserted. “We`re all going to America,” this resident jokes.

    Security forces have placed red flags near some of the roadside bombs left by ISIS but there are a lot more remaining. Along with Kurdish government Peshmerga, there are competing Kurdish forces and Yazidi fighters staking their claim. The city feels as if it`s just waiting for a spark to re-ignite.

    Sinjar has been re-captured, but the challenge now for Kurdish forces is to maintain control. ISIS controls villages to the south of here and there’s already looting in the city. So this guard unit has been brought in to maintain security.

    Along these streets, ISIS has marked the homes with graffiti identifying the owners’ religion. Some of those marked “Shia” were almost completely destroyed, looted and then set on fire.

    In another area, a misspelled “the Islamic State” remains. This one vowed death to the Kurdish Peshmerga.

    While ISIS was driven out of Sinjar, they are still a threat just a few miles from here.

    Ahmed Ghaib Hussein, the head of a mostly Shia Kurdish neighborhood here, says people won`t come back to the city until some of the surrounding villages are retaken.

    AHMED GHAIB HUSSEIN, Sinjar neighborhood leader (through interpreter): Whether it`s America, Iraq, or Kurdistan, we want them to liberate those areas so people can return to their homes. If these areas are liberated, families will return.

    JANE ARRAF: Of the 700 houses in his neighborhood, the owners of only about 100 have come back so far — many just to check on their houses. In between explosives laid by ISIS, and the U.S. and British air strikes, entire sections of the city are destroyed. And as Kurdish and U.S. forces recover more territory from ISIS, there is more evidence of mass killings being uncovered.

    These are human bones — scattered by dogs after being buried in a shallow grave, and placed in this pile by villagers. No one has cordoned off the site, on the outskirts of what Yazidis call Shingal.

    HUSSEIN HASSOLIN, Government Adviser: Really, you need to liberate the whole area, the whole Shingal to find out how many massacres. But according to our information, we have discovered already on the north, north part of the mountain, about 11 mass graves, and still here, four official in the south part of the mountain.

    JANE ARRAF: Villagers believe at least 22 men are buried in this field. But the Kurds are still trying to identify victims of Saddam Hussein’s Anfal campaign from decades ago. And identifying these bodies could take years. Near Sinjar`s technical college, ISIS turned an empty fish tank into a mass grave for Yazidi women they killed.

    Hadi Breem Oulo and his family own the land for miles around here. He says ISIS used dynamite to blow up their houses. They even set fire to the pomegranate and fig trees.

    He says their Arab neighbors were part of ISIS.

    HADI BREEM OULO, Farmer (through interpreter): If one Arab stays here in our region, we will not be able to live together, never. Arabs took our mothers and sisters, they took our honor and they sold it. They`ve killed old people. They`ve killed children. There is no way we can all live together.

    JANE ARRAF: As dusk falls, these Yazidi men stop to look out over Sinjar. Their village is still held by ISIS, but they were able to see it from a distance.

    Saad Aido was looking for the body of his mother where she died on the mountain. He found only her shoe. But he thanks God they were able to catch a glimpse of their village again. Despite the tragedy, Sinjar is still home.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jane Arraf in Sinjar, Iraq.

    The post Iraq’s Yazidis return home to Sinjar appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    A fence jumper prompted a lockdown at the White House (pictured above) today. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — A man draped in an American flag climbed over the fence at the White House on Thursday, prompting a lockdown as the first family celebrated Thanksgiving.

    The man was immediately apprehended and taken into custody pending criminal charges, the Secret Service said in a statement. The incident took place about 2:45 p.m. EST.

    An image of a man atop a section of fence in front of the North Lawn was posted on the website of television station WJLA. Another image showed the man standing on the lawn with his arms raised in victory.

    A witness to the incident, Victoria Pena of Houston, said the man was standing with other people visiting the White House compound when he rushed toward the fence carrying what appeared to be a binder.

    “I just heard him take a big, deep breath and whisper to himself, ‘All right, let’s do this’ and he took off,” Pena said. “It was chaotic. Everyone around us was yelling and kids were crying. It was pretty unexpected.”

    Security personnel and guard dogs ran toward the man and he lay on the grass awaiting them, Pena said.

    The north and south fence lines at the White House were temporarily closed, Secret Service spokesman Robert Hoback said. In the hours after the incident, numerous armed security personnel were seen along the streets and sidewalks outside the executive mansion.

    President Barack Obama and his wife and daughters were spending the holiday at the White House.

    The post White House undergoes holiday lockdown after man jumps fence appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    The_First_Thanksgiving_cph_3g04961

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But first, our money man, Paul Solman, looks at those original Thanksgiving celebrants — the Pilgrims — and the economic pressures that drove them to America, and defined so much of their time here. It`s part of our weekly series, “Making Sense,” which airs every Thursday on the NEWSHOUR.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Thanksgiving time at Plymouth plantation, a 17th century living history museum in Massachusetts. The year? 1624, when, as the story goes:

    NARRATOR: A hundred people landed on a bare and windy shore, seeking freedom from the English church. For this, they were ready to confront the grim and grisly face of poverty.

    MAN: In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth —

    PAUL SOLMAN: We`ve long celebrated the religious drive to build a city on a hill for strangers in a strange land. But it turns out that our pilgrims faced poverty at least as grim and grisly back in Holland, from whence they had fled 16 years earlier to separate from the Church of England.

    Patience Prence was among those who came to Plymouth, as played by one of the plantations re- enactors.

    PATIENCE PRENCE, Plymouth Colonist, Played by Grace Bello: We live a humble life, but we work for ourselves. In Holland, we could put food on our tables, but, it was a very hard labor.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Meanwhile, America was literally, to them, a new world.

    GOV. WILLIAM BRADFORD, Plymouth Colonist, Played by Doug Blake: We will be able to turn a good profit so that it benefits everyone.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The plantation’s governor and chronicler, William Bradford.

    WILLIAM BRADFORD: It might be a place where profit and religion can jump together. There is no shame in doing well, for one must still exist in this world and thus be comfortable.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Stephen Hopkins was a merchant colonist.

    Will you become rich, do you think?

    STEPHEN HOPKINS, Colonist and investor, Plymouth, Played by Scott Atwood: Well, imagine all men entertain the idea of it, but — well, that really shall be not up to me. It is hoped that we`ll at least prosper.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Most of the pilgrims had been farmers in England, but made their living in the cloth trade in Holland. When the wool market crashed, these folks were desperate to emigrate.

    RICHARD PICKERING, Deputy Executive Director, Plimouth: They were living in deep privation and it was a way of escaping poverty.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Plymouth historian Richard Pickering.

    So was the main motivation really, what we would now call economic?

    RICHARD PICKERING: There is a religious motivation in the desire to protect the church. But those that were living in Holland were safe, so that they could have remained and worshiped as they wanted, but it is an economic motivation to better the lives of their children and grow the number of church members.

    PAUL SOLMAN: In other words, the Pilgrims were very much economic immigrants, like so many who`ve come to America since.

    But if so poor, how could they afford an ocean passage, with provisions, to America? The answer is seventy-some-odd investors, known as “merchant adventurers”.

    Through the magic of video teleportation, Pickering took us to visit one, supposedly at his home outside London.

    LONDON MERCHANT, Played by John Kemp: Do come in sir, let me show you here, we`ve some fine peltry, furs just back from New England.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Full disclosure: we were still in reconstructed Plymouth, but houses there looked just like those in suburban England.

    What`s the main way in which you`re hoping to make a profit here?

    LONDON MERCHANT: Well, close at hand, sir. Here, looky well, fine beaver pelt, just brung back. And, our report is that they expect more and more of such things.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Why furs? Do people wear fur coats here in London?

    LONDON MERCHANT: Oh no, sir. It`s the hats, the beaver hats. All good people now wear beaver hats.

    You may remember that famous Indian princess that come from Virginia, that some would call Pocahontas; though in England, generally, she was called Rebecca. And, she had her portrait, I`m told, in a fine beaver.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The tradable goods of America were the three F`s — fur, fish and forests — which provided wood like pine for an increasingly clear-cut England.

    LONDON MERCHANT: In England, there`s hardly a pine till you get up to Scotland!

    PAUL SOLMAN: But to get the goods, you had to get to America. And survive.

    So, investors in London bankrolled the venture, by purchasing shares in a stock company, as with similar ventures in Virginia, Bermuda and elsewhere.

    Ten pounds for a single share, roughly six months’ worth of an ordinary worker`s wages: $15,000 to $20,000 today, maybe.

    One merchant may have invested as much as several hundred thousand in current dollars. Each colonist over age 16 got one share just for emigrating, working the territory, and making a profit for the investors.

    STEPHEN HOPKINS: Initially, it was agreed that for seven years` time, we would ship raw materials back to them to be sold.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Merchant colonist Stephen Hopkins.

    STEPHEN HOPKINS: They would send trade goods onto us annually and with a promise, or hope, that there would be a dividend at the end of the seventh year. The dividend, the profit that comes in silver and gold shall go to the founders, the financers.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Once those “financers” were paid back, the colonists would get the deed to the land, initially given by the king to the investors, and all future profits would be theirs.

    So, this is a capitalist enterprise from the get-go?

    STEPHEN PICKERING: It was capitalism from the very beginning. The intent was to prosper here in any way that they could, whether it was the fur trade, timber trade or fishing.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But the early efforts to pay off their investors failed. The first winter was brutal; nearly half of the colonists died.

    WILLIAM BRADFORD: First ship it was that we sent back empty for reasons of barely being able to survive. And sadly, the second ship I sent back, laden with goods, was taken by French pirates right before it reached England.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And Turkish pirates took another; then as now, hawks stalked their chickens; competing colonists set up shop along the New England coast and inland, closer to the suppliers. That meant that when trading with the natives, the price of beaver kept getting bid up — setbacks galore.

    But not surprisingly, the investors back home were getting impatient.

    STEPHEN HOPKINS: Some of them imagine they might cast seeds on the ground and press the cider the same year, but it is not so in business.

    PAUL SOLMAN: What was so in business: distrust, partly because of investors who bilked the inexperienced colonists, and demanded quick profits.

    WILLIAM BRADFORD: Many a time it is that we are treated little better than a slave or a servant. But whilst my share is equal to someone in England, he might have a hundred more of those equal shares. Thus, the minority has the majority of the shareholding.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Despite the ownership disparity, however, colonists who survived tended to prosper, even the indentured servants, who got no shares and had to work seven years for their freedom. Edward Doty served Stephen Hopkins.

    Do you think you could ever be a rich man in America? Do you have what you might call an American dream?

    EDWARD DOTY, Indentured Servant, Plymouth Colony: Rich in land, rich in woods, which you make quite a lot of money with. But no matter what, if you get land here, people will respect you and if those will become a time like I expect it to be and a true settlement, there is a profit to be had.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And that was very different from the old country.

    PATIENCE PRENCE: So in England, owning land is for gentry and noblemen. But, people of our sort would usually only rent it.

    PAUL SOLMAN: We had one last question for the plantation`s historian. What`s the relevance if any, of economics being the main driver of the Plymouth plantation?

    RICHARD PICKERING: So often, we think of the pilgrims symbolically. We don`t look at their everyday business lives and realize that their success enabled later settlement and contributed to the creation of an immigrant country.

    PAUL SOLMAN: This is economics correspondent Paul Solman, reporting for the PBS NewsHour, from the 17th century — sort of.

    The post Were pilgrims America’s original economic migrants? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    A sign on a tent is seen at Tent City 3, a homeless encampment in Seattle, Washington January 15, 2015. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray will submit legislation to the City Council this week seeking approval of three new homeless encampments, saying the tent cities are needed to deal with rising homelessness, his office said on Thursday.   REUTERS/David Ryder   (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY POVERTY POLITICS) - RTR4LLYW

    Watch Video

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Homelessness remains a nationwide concern and it is especially prevalent in the nation`s capital.

    Last week, not far from the historic Watergate Hotel and near the affluent neighborhood of Georgetown, city officials dismantled a tent city that sprouted up this year under a freeway overpass.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The district`s health and human services division declared the area unsanitary, unsafe, and unlawful. After issuing notices of eviction, the city they gave the choice to voluntarily move off the property with belongings or the city would forcefully remove them and dispose of their possessions. Most decided to remain on the streets.

    JABAR RASHAD CONQUEST, Former Tent City Resident: We didn`t plan for this, you know? I use this tent to sleep in. I get up and go to work just like everybody else. I pay taxes just like everybody else. It’s just I don’t make enough money to get me an apartment.

    What actually am I doing that`s harming the community? Is it just because ya’ll just don’t like to see tents out in the community or whatever?

    SANM “SLIM” GOURINEY, Former Tent City Resident: Everywhere you go, there`s no place to live. I`m not here to harm nobody. I just want to survive and live better life. But it`s getting harder, especially with no home left.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Officials offered to locate the homeless to various housing programs, like shelters and apartments around the city, as well as store the belongings too bulky for the residents to carry.

    The post Residents react as their tent city is dismantled; ‘I just want to survive’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    whitehousekitchen

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And finally tonight, our NEWSHOUR shares — something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too.

    The White House has been celebrating Thanksgiving since 1789, when President George Washington proclaimed the first public day of Thanksgiving. That means 44 presidents have eaten their way through Turkey Day, and with plenty of stories on the menu.

    In 1897, William McKinley`s table saw mince meat, Idaho potatoes — a gift from a friend — and the kicker: a 26-pound turkey stuffed with oysters.

    In the 1947, to help with the European food crisis, Harry Truman encouraged Americans to make a “poultry-free Thursday” pledge, but Thanksgiving fell on a Thursday that year. What`s the president to do? Truman moved his Thanksgiving feast to Wednesday, complete with all the fixin`s: giblet gravy, candied sweet potatoes, and, yes, roast stuffed turkey.

    And in 1977, the proposed menu for Jimmy Carter`s Thanksgiving called for green peas with mushrooms. But check it out — that item was crossed off, and returned with a hand-written note from a staffer: “Jimmy doesn`t especially like green peas,” it read. The meal included green beans, instead.

    This year, the Obama Thanksgiving menu includes thyme-roasted turkey, honey-baked ham, cornbread stuffing with chorizo; mac and cheese, two kinds of potatoes, and six different types of pie.

    The post 225 years of presidential Thanksgiving meals appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Chef Rich McGeown prepares to cook the world's first lab-grown beef burger during a launch event in west London, August 5, 2013. The in-vitro burger, cultured from cattle stem cells, the first example of what its creator says could provide an answer to global food shortages and help combat climate change, was fried in a pan and tasted by two volunteers. The burger is the result of years of research by Dutch scientist Mark Post, a vascular biologist at the University of Maastricht, who is working to show how meat grown in petri dishes might one day be a true alternative to meat from livestock.The meat in the burger has been made by knitting together around 20,000 strands of protein that has been cultured from cattle stem cells in Post's lab. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY ANIMALS FOOD) - RTX12AYV

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Tonight, a look at the growing phenomenon of meatless protein. Americans eat the equivalent of 322 quarter pound burgers per person every year. That’s three times as much beef as the world average; and with each pound requiring more than 50 gallons of water, producers in drought stricken California are looking to find other ways to get protein into our diets.

    Our story comes to us from Dr. James Hamblin, a senior editor at The Atlantic Magazine.

    DR. JAMES HAMBLIN, The Atlantic: I’m here at the Bon Appetech Food Tech Conference in San Francisco — where start-ups are competing to replace animal meat with new, sustainable sources of protein.

    MAN: Insect protein combines nutritional density of animal protein with environmental efficiency of plant protein.

    MAN: We do not put insects anywhere in or around our products.

    WOMAN: We`re using pea protein and brown rice protein.

    WOMAN: With the soy, we ferment it to just to the very tiny pieces.

    DR. JAMES HAMBLIN: While the industry is divided on which protein source is best, it is in agreement that an animal meat alternative will be necessary to feed the rapidly expanding world population. The Los Angeles-based start-up Beyond Meat has invented some plant-based chicken and beef that’s getting particular attention from investors, like Bill Gates, and unlike most vegan products, they look a lot like traditional meat.

    All right. What should I try first?

    All of the meat on this table is meat from peas.

    It`s a little chewier than your traditional chicken but very close.

    Jody Puglisi is a Stanford professor of structural biology. He says building meat out of a plant protein is a challenge, though chicken is easier than beef.

    JODY PUGLISI, Scientific advisor, Beyond Meat: Chicken is easier to do than beef because the text of a chicken breast is pretty uniform, the color is uniform.

    DR. JAMES HAMBLIN: It`s really a proper scientific laboratory focused on deconstructing and rebuilding the experience of meat.

    TIM GEISTLINGER, Vice President of R&D, Beyond Meat: What you`re looking at right here is a gas chromatograph, it`s a hook to a mass-spec instrument, and what gives us a measurement of what meat tastes like. Essentially, it`s a fingerprinting of what flavor and aroma exists in meat already.

    DR. JAMES HAMBLIN: Ethan Brown is the founder and CEO of Beyond Meat.

    ETHAN BROWN, CEO, Beyond Meat: So, we`re taking protein from a pea, and using heating, cooling and pressure to align it in the form of meat. That`s it. We have to be able to figure out a way to describe that consumers, so they understand they`re having is basically a pea protein in the form of meat.

    DR. JAMES HAMBLIN: It sounds like processed food. I don`t eat processed food. I was told not to eat processed food.

    ETHAN BROWN: I worked so hard to say that.

    DR. JAMES HAMBLIN: No meat at all is the American future.

    ETHAN BROWN: Meat is really made up of those five constituent parts, the amino acids, lipids, carbohydrates, minerals and water. They’re actually present in plants. What we`re doing is building a piece of meat directly from the plant so the compositions are basically, the same. In that case, we are delivering meat.

    DR. JAMES HAMBLIN: Meat that the American consumer needs to be convinced might be as good as the beef or pork they`re accustomed to eating.

    So, you study a sort of sociological aspect of people`s reactions to these foods?

    ALEXANDRA SEXTON, PhD candidate, King’s College London: So, it`s the whole performance around the food. So it`s the words that are being used, the packaging, it`s where it`s located within the supermarket.

    DR. JAMES HAMBLIN: Although Beyond Meat is available nationally at Whole Foods, Walmart, and other select retailers, at prices comparable to animal meats, product placement does influence sales.

    ETHAN BROWN: Because of my height they put it up here. Here are some of the packages.

    DR. JAMES HAMBLIN: Here with tofu.

    ETHAN BROWN: Right, so the whole challenge is how do we make the decision process seamless for the consumer so that they`re doing something exactly what they do with animal protein and the products behave exactly like they do with animal protein?

    I do believe that in, you know, 10 years or so, you`ll be able to come in here and there will be meats in here that are made from different plants. There will be lupine beef, there`ll be a camelina, any manner of plant feed stock and the consumers can choose which type of beef they want. The days of this just being animal protein I think are rapidly coming to a close.

    DR. JAMES HAMBLIN: Maybe not rapidly, but all the factors are in place that could lead to a shift in our collective thinking about meat. Beyond Meat is currently available in 10,000 locations with major expansion slated for the New Year. Maybe when plant-based meats are at our fingertips, we`ll do the American thing — eat them.

    For PBS NEWSHOUR, I`m James Hamblin in El Segundo, California.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You can find more reports by Dr. Hamblin at TheAtlantic.com.

    The post Is it possible to build ‘meat’ out of plant protein? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...

older | 1 | .... | 718 | 719 | (Page 720) | 721 | 722 | .... | 1175 | newer


Loading...