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

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    The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, where the U.S. suffered its most serious nuclear accident in 1979, is seen across the Susquehanna River in Middletown, Pennsylvania in this night view taken March 15, 2011. U.S. regulators should press ahead with approving construction licenses for new nuclear power plants despite Japan's nuclear crisis, President Barack Obama's top energy official Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on Tuesday.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENERGY DISASTER ENVIRONMENT BUSINESS) - RTR2JXZE

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, a new investigation that examines casualties of the Cold War, and the scope of those injured or killed while working with or around nuclear material.

    That’s the focus of a series of reports out today from McClatchy News. Reporters in 10 states spent a year chronicling and documenting what happened to workers in the U.S. nuclear facilities from the 1940s right up until today.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story, and he recorded this conversation a short time ago.

    JEFFREY BROWN: McClatchy’s team found the federal government had never fully revealed the true toll of what happened to men and women working at nuclear facilities.

    Back in 2001, the government set up a compensation fund for some of those workers. The investigation found that more than 33,000 of them have died from related illnesses. That’s more than four times the number of Americans killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

    And there were more than 100,000 Americans diagnosed with cancer and other diseases after helping to build the country’s nuclear stockpile over the decades.

    Lindsay Wise is one of the leading reporters on the McClatchy team. She joins me now.

    And welcome to you.

    I want to fill in the picture first. What kind of work and workers were most impacted, most exposed?

    LINDSAY WISE, McClatchy Washington Bureau: Well, these were workers at plants, more than 300 plants all over the country.

    They did everything from pipe fitting and production work, blue-collar work, to nuclear physicists and scientists. And we even found in our database some CEOs who ran the contracting companies that managed the plant.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You refer to this as a hidden legacy. It’s a little known casualty of the Cold War, but how much was known?

    LINDSAY WISE: Well, this is what I found so interesting working on this project, which was that I feel like when we talk about the Cold War and the history of the Cold War, we often talk about it as though it was a war without any casualties, without any American casualties.

    And what we were able to do at McClatchy is we obtained a database from the Department of Labor for the compensation program, and we were able to crunch the numbers and analyze the data, and find the number of people who had applied and then been compensated for illnesses and died.

    And so that told us that there were people who gave their lives as part of the Cold War.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And within the scientific community, within the government over the decades, how much awareness, how much study had been going on?

    LINDSAY WISE: I think that, when this program was created in 2001, there had been some awareness in Congress leading up to, and it was created through the efforts of the Clinton administration to compensate workers who had become ill.

    It started to become apparent that many of these workers had been exposed to dangerous subjects, radioactivity and other toxins, without realizing it or without knowing the full extent of the health hazards that they were facing.

    And so once that started to come to light through some research of some reporters, The Washington Post and other places, there was pressure in Congress to pass a fund to compensate the workers.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Now, you went and talked to many of those workers.

    And you found a mix of pride in the work they had done, right, but also bitterness in some cases over what they didn’t know.

    So, you did — we have a clip of one of the workers. He’s from the Hanford site. His name is Tom Peterson. And he was exposed to levels of beryllium. Explain first what beryllium is, and then we will watch that clip.

    LINDSAY WISE: Beryllium is a hazardous metal used in weapons production.

    And it — machined or worked with, it can produce byproducts of dust that can be inhaled by the workers. And there was a long time where I don’t think the full dangers of beryllium were understood. And workers have been exposed to this dust. And when they breathe it in, there are some people who have an allergic reaction.

    And this creates scarring in their lungs, so that they develop a — many of them develop a serious respiratory disease from that, that can be fatal.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, let’s look at that clip.

    TOM PETERSON, Former Ironworker: I started working in Hanford in 1978 as an ironworker. Nobody knew they were being exposed to beryllium or what the consequences are.

    MAN: So, the beryllium hazards were not well-recognized early on. The problem is that some people are susceptible to very small amounts of beryllium.

    TOM PETERSON: All of a sudden, I couldn’t finish mowing the lawn. I couldn’t breathe. Come to find out beryllium is all over the Hanford site.

    This legacy of beryllium contamination that nobody knew anything about, they kept quiet about. Your future is not real bright, but it would have been nice to have been told about beryllium before we found out at a meeting.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Now, this compensation fund has run into various kinds of criticism. Right? It’s not enough, some people think. It’s too bureaucratic, some people think.

    And on the other hand, there is some cases where the suggestion is, there is overcompensation, because the direct link hasn’t been proven.

    LINDSAY WISE: I think that in order for Congress to create this compensation program, they did have — the Department of Energy did have to submit studies to show that workers in the nuclear facilities around the country were susceptible to higher rates of cancers and non-malignant diseases.

    One of the things we did when we looked at this data was, we really looked at the government’s threshold for deciding a claim was valid that it was more likely than not that a worker had gotten sick from something they did on the job. And we used those numbers to come up with the death statistics.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Let me ask you, finally, you’re looking at past experience, but this is very relevant still, right, because of a major modernization program under way.

    What lessons learned either by you or by — more importantly, I guess, by the government and by the people doing this kind of work still?

    LINDSAY WISE: Well, we took a look at not just the workers from the past who worked on the Manhattan Project or the Cold War, but also right up to the present day.

    And what we found was that there were 186,000 workers in today — since the program was created who work in weapons plants and research facilities today that are — had been exposed to registerable levels of radiation just day to day.

    And some of those people have exceeded the limit for — that the Department of Energy had set as safe. Other workers we spoke to were concerned that they were given — they were told that their dosage from certain accidents or exposures was a certain amount, but they felt that they were either being lied to or that documents and records had been falsified.

    And we did find, when we reviewed contractor misconduct, files that there were some cases where contractors had falsified radiation records of workers right up until — I think the most recent case we looked at was 2013.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, an ongoing situation.

    LINDSAY WISE: Mm-hmm.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Lindsay Wise of McClatchy News, thanks so much.

    LINDSAY WISE: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Two key federal agencies responded to the NewsHour after Jeff’s interview. The Department of Energy praised workers for their sacrifices and said its safety record has improved due to better monitoring and new protective limits at its sites and those of its contractors.

    The Department of Labor said that its processing of compensation claims is faster now, with many of the cases resolved within 180 days. The department also said that it has paid over $12 billion to more than 100,000 people to — quote — “compensate for their suffering.”

    The post A little-known casualty of the Cold War? U.S. nuclear workers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Demonstrators shout during a "Freedom of Speech Rally Round II" outside the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix, Arizona May 29, 2015. More than 200 protesters, some armed, berated Islam and its Prophet Mohammed outside an Arizona mosque on Friday in a provocative protest that was denounced by counterprotesters shouting "Go home, Nazis," weeks after an anti-Muslim event in Texas came under attack by two gunmen.    REUTERS/Nancy Wiechec - RTR4Y3N8

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now we get the perspective of those Muslims in America, a community under assault in the wake of recent attacks.

    Just this afternoon, there was a fire at a mosque in Southern California. The imam said there was a loud boom, and the building had been firebombed.

    It is the latest in a string of violence directed at Muslims.

    The NewsHour’s P.J. Tobia has our story.

    AYA LAOFIR, High School Student: I pray five times a day, which I don’t get to do at school, but I come home and pray. I do my homework, read a little bit, and then I go to bed.

    P.J. TOBIA: Fifteen-year-old Aya Laofir, is just like any other American teenager. At school, being Muslim just isn’t a big deal.

    AYA LAOFIR: Overall, I think, you know, school is good when it comes to me and my scarf.

    P.J. TOBIA: But on the way home, sometimes, there is trouble.

    AYA LAOFIR: There is this man who sits on the sidewalk sometimes, and he starts, you know, harassing — well, not harassing me, well, calling me names and telling me to go back to my country.

    P.J. TOBIA: She lives in Northern Virginia, one of the most culturally diverse regions in the nation, according to the last census.

    AYA LAOFIR: As I’m walking, and I see people, they duck their heads, or when I smile at them, they don’t smile back, I’m just like, oh, is it because I’m wearing my scarf? Is it because of what’s on the news?

    P.J. TOBIA: What’s on the news is a series of terrorist attacks, most recently in Paris, France, and San Bernardino, California, killings in the name of the Islamic State.

    In response, the temperature of America’s political climate is rising. Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has proposed to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the country, a policy which one in four Americans now support, according to an NBC poll.

    And it’s not just Trump. Other leading GOP candidates have also made comments that have upset American Muslims. As a result, many like Aya, now feel unsafe.

    In Irving, Texas, one group has been holding regular protests in front of an Islamic center since late November, brandishing semiautomatic rifles, some wearing masks. The protesters want to stop what they call the Islamization of America.

    In Pittsburgh, a Moroccan immigrant taxi driver was shot after his passenger asked him about the Islamic State. And in Northern Virginia, this outburst happened at a community meeting for a planned Islamic center.

    MAN: Nobody, nobody, nobody wants your evil cult in this county. And I’ll tell you. Let me tell you what.

    (APPLAUSE)

    MAN: I will do everything in my power to make sure that doesn’t — does not happen. We don’t want it. Because you are terrorists. Every one of you are terrorists. I don’t care what you say.

    P.J. TOBIA: A recent New York Times/CBS poll found Americans more worried about a terrorist attack than at any time since 9/11, worries that are also present in Muslim communities around the country.

    Aya’s family mosque, the Dar Al-Hijrah Center, has been the target of violence. Last month, someone threw smoke bombs and a Molotov cocktail over the fence in the middle of the night. The mosque’s leader, Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, says they have been through this before and could almost see the violence coming.

    IMAM JOHARI ABDUL-MALIK, Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center: We have this sense of a rising anti-Muslim-specific intolerance after the Paris attacks. This community immediately went on high alert in preparation for a backlash.

    P.J. TOBIA: Imam Johari invited us to stay after evening prayers to speak with congregants.

    Theraiah Hussein is a mother of six.

    WOMAN: Everything changed, even starting from my kids’ school, because that’s what we care about, being called terrorists, being called ISIS, and being called bad names. And that’s what really killed me.

    MALIK OSMAN, Elementary School Student: Somebody just called me a terrorist because they saw me walking.

    P.J. TOBIA: An adult person or another kid?

    MALIK OSMAN: A child. I was really scared from then on. And that’s why I don’t wear a head scarf.

    P.J. TOBIA: So, you don’t wear a head scarf because someone called you a terrorist? How does that make you feel?

    MALIK OSMAN: It makes me feel really angry, like, awkward.

    P.J. TOBIA: Aya’s father, Badr, watched with dread as the news of the San Bernardino attacks unfolded.

    BADR LAOFIR, Aya’s Father: We start praying — inside, I’m sure you would be doing the same thing — that the shooter is not a Muslim, but, of course, he’s a Muslim. So, another wave is going to start, and people, the media, and every time, like every time.

    P.J. TOBIA: Badr is vigilant about his family. He has a strategy for the simplest of tasks, like the neighborhood walk.

    BADR LAOFIR: I tell my wife and my daughter, if she walks, she doesn’t — she needs to walk when a lot of people are around. And a parking lot here, she’s always with one of the — my kids, always cell phone on hand. Sometimes, people can attack you and follow you and attack you even if — in the place where you live in.

    COL. EDWIN C. ROESSLER JR., Chief of Police, Fairfax County: Where there is fear and anxiety, the role of law enforcement is to come in, and to alleviate that and provide a sense of security.

    P.J. TOBIA: Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler says after an attack like San Bernardino, local law enforcement must be proactive.

    EDWIN ROESSLER: And we contact the mosque and we say, we’re going to increase patrols. Do you want us to show up at events? And it’s a two-way partnership.

    P.J. TOBIA: Public officials across the U.S. have asked the Muslim community to take a lead role in addressing the issue of radicalization, including President Obama in a prime-time address.

    PRESDIENT BARACK OBAMA: Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al-Qaida promote.

    P.J. TOBIA: Not everyone agrees.

    ROSA RAD, Washington, D.C., Resident: I find it to be incredibly offensive.

    P.J. TOBIA: Rosa Rad, 23, lives in a trendy Washington, D.C., neighborhood.

    ROSA RAD: To have to be, like, vigilant and have to be super aware of what’s going on is bizarre. I don’t see any other communities being given that responsibility. And I think everyone needs to be vigilant and to be aware. By singling out the Muslim community, you’re not doing anything but perpetuating that negative — negative view that people already probably already have towards Muslims.

    P.J. TOBIA: The vitriol has even been felt outside of Muslim communities. In Manassas, Virginia, about 30 miles West of Washington, D.C., the local mosque has been repeatedly vandalized. After the San Bernardino attacks, a death threat was phoned in.

    It has made some non-Muslim residents more than a little uncomfortable. Patty Reed works at a local hardware store.

    PATTY REED, Virginia: Gosh, it just makes us look like a bunch of rednecks. I’m going to be honest. And I don’t like it. Why we wouldn’t be able to talk to these people, talk to — you know, voice our concerns?

    P.J. TOBIA: But many are scared, saying recent events have them on edge.

    WOMAN: If you’re somebody who is doing the right thing and you’re here in the right way, then it truly isn’t fair to you. But things happen. You know, it isn’t fair to us what’s going on either, but — or those people that died, but it’s what’s going on in the world today.

    P.J. TOBIA: But inside the vandalized Manassas Mosque, its leader, Imam Abu Nahidian, says he has used the moment to teach faith and acceptance.

    IMAM ABU NAHIDIAN, Manassas Mosque: Remember, it takes two to tango. Both hand has to make a noise. One hand has — if one side is a little bit off the track, go with them, be kind to them. These are the orders of the holy Koran. All of them — it’s loaded with them. Therefore, we have to go ahead and talk to them that the reason that you’re scared of me is you, not me. I didn’t do anything to scare you, so take that away from your heart.

    P.J. TOBIA: In fact, he says the events of the recent weeks have revealed some of the best of this rural community. This bouquet of flowers, like the threatening phone call, came from an anonymous sender, but with a different message.

    “You don’t know me,” the card reads. “As a white Christian, please know that my family will continue to stand with yours.”

    Meanwhile, high school freshman Aya Laofir has taken to writing poetry in response to the hate.

    AYA LAOFIR: “So, Donald Trump, come forth and into the light. Open your eyes and heart. This is the United States of America. Do not start tearing it apart.”

    P.J. TOBIA: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m P.J. Tobia in Washington.

    The post American Muslims feel singled out amid a climate of fear appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    British Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon speaks during a joint news conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter after their meeting at the Pentagon in Washington December 11, 2015. The defense chiefs discussed increased cooperation in the fight against Islamic State militants.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTX1YB82

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The United States and its coalition partners have been fighting the Islamic State group for 16 months to beat back the group’s gains in both Syria and Iraq.

    At the same time, Syria’s many-sided civil war continues unabated. Russia has inserted itself to support the regime of its ally President Bashar al-Assad. And last week, the United Kingdom said that it would join the U.S. and France in bombing Islamic State in Syria as the militant group has begun attacks on the West.

    All this comes as a major diplomatic push to end the nearly-five-year-old brutal war is under way, and the American and British defense secretaries at the Pentagon.

    ASHTON CARTER, Defense Secretary: We will defeat ISIL, and we will ensure that they stay defeated.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter hosted his British counterpart, Michael Fallon, to chart the coalition’s progress in the campaign against the Islamic State group.

    Fallon said British sorties have been aimed at ISIS fighters and the oil fields the group uses, in part, to finance itself. After the Paris attacks, as France began airstrikes in Syria, Britain’s Parliament approved expanding the U.K.’s existing Iraq air campaign into Syria as well.

    Meanwhile, today in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about his country’s war in Syria. For the first time, he said that Russian aircraft are now helping a rebel group, the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army.

    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter): The activities of our aviation group assists in uniting the efforts of government troops and the Free Syrian Army.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby said those claims were unverified, but noted that, in the past, Russia has targeted those groups. Fallon echoed Kirby on that point.

    MICHAEL FALLON, Defense Secretary, United Kingdom: What they have got to do is stop propping up the Assad regime, stop bombing opposition groups who are opposed to the Assad regime, stop dropping unguided munitions on innocent villages and groups who have been fighting Assad, and get behind the political process that is now under way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Earlier today, I sat down with Britain’s defense secretary to discuss the war effort at the residence of the British ambassador here in Washington.

    Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, thank you very much for talking with us.

    MICHAEL FALLON: Good morning.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, for Americans who weren’t following closely the vote in your Parliament last week to authorize the expansion of airstrikes against ISIS from Iraq into Syria, what was it that led to the decision to go against what had seemed to be an anti-interventionist policy in your country?

    MICHAEL FALLON: Well, I think a growing recognition that this border between Iraq and Syria is not recognized by ISIL itself, and it’s completely artificial and rather odd to be carrying out airstrikes on one side of the border, but the Royal Air Force having to turn back at the border and not follow through the other side of the border.

    It was also a response to France and the United States and other countries that wanted Britain to step up its contribution to the campaign. And I’m delighted we’re now able to do that. We have doubled the number of strike aircraft that we have in theater. And we’re upping the tempo of our missions.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You started the air campaign right away, after the vote. It just happened within hours. What have been the main targets and how successful has it been so far?

    MICHAEL FALLON: We have focused those strikes very much on the infrastructure that supports ISIS, the oil wells, for example, the supply routes, the depots, the arms dumps, the logistics, the command and control, because we need to degrade the infrastructure and the revenue that supports the supporting organization.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Has it been — how successful has it been?

    MICHAEL FALLON: The strikes we have carried out so far have been successful. They have been mainly in the oil fields of Eastern Syria. We have been hitting oil wellheads, and those strikes, yes, have been successful.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The question then arises, there’s been an air campaign in Iraq against ISIS for a year or more. There’s been some progress, but it’s been limited. What makes you believe that expanding into Syria, that this campaign is going to be any more successful?

    MICHAEL FALLON: Well, this was never going to be a quick campaign. It was your own Secretary Kerry who said he thought the campaign in Iraq might last at least three years, and we’re not halfway through that yet, but progress is being made.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But can ISIS be defeated with an air campaign? Are ground forces going to be necessary for this to work in the end?

    MICHAEL FALLON: Well, ground forces are being deployed in Iraq, where there is the Iraqi army, there are Kurdish forces who are helping to liberate these towns, like Tikrit and Baiji, which have already fallen. And ISIL have been pushed back out of those towns.

    Now, we want eventually the same to happen on the Syrian side of this very artificial line. But, meantime, there’s a lot that airstrikes can do to help cut off ISIS’ source of revenue and to help squeeze the noose around its headquarters in Raqqa.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, when is the right time for there to be a larger ground force presence in Syria, and will Britain be part of that, will the U.K. be part of that?

    MICHAEL FALLON: We’re not going to put our own troops on the ground there. And, indeed, in Iraq, they have made it very clear they don’t want British or even — with respect, they don’t want American troops there, because they feel that would simply radicalize Sunni opinion even more.

    In the end, this has to be done — this territory has to be liberated and held by local forces that enjoy the confidence of the local community, particularly the Sunni areas. And that has to be done locally. And the way to do that is to bring the civil war to an end and to use moderate Syrian groups to help defeat ISIS up in the northeast corner.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But hasn’t that been a goal for a long time, and it just hasn’t been achieved?

    MICHAEL FALLON: Well, just in the last few months, we have seen real progress there, everybody involved now coming together, a conference in Saudi Arabia this week, just this week, bringing all the parties involved, and countries like Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia that all have an interest now beginning to think their way through to a new Syria that is without Assad.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But Assad, President Assad, shows no desire whatsoever to leave. He’s been supported completely by Russia and by Iran. Is there new indication that that support has changed, is falling away?

    MICHAEL FALLON: Yes, we’re beginning to see signs that that is weakening. People are beginning to think their way towards a different kind of Syria and recognize that he can’t be part of the long-term future.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is Russia’s involvement militarily in Syria helping this campaign or hurting it?

    MICHAEL FALLON: It’s extremely unhelpful, because, of course, they came into the civil war, and they have been bombing moderate opposition groups that have been standing up to Assad, instead of attacking ISIS alongside the rest of us.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about domestic terrorism.

    Your country has — saw the real threat of domestic terrorism well before the United States did with this most recent attack in San Bernardino. What lessons has Great Britain, has the United Kingdom learned from your own experience?

    MICHAEL FALLON: Well, we have seen these — alongside your own shooting, we have had these terrible shootings in Paris just two hours away from us, and earlier in the summer, we had 30 of our own holiday-makers slaughtered on a beach in Tunisia.

    So this is very real to us. These attacks are directed, organized, inspired, financed from ISIS in its headquarters in Syria. And that’s one reason why we have now committed ourselves to this campaign in full across both Iraq and Syria.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What about those individuals who are inspired, who may not be directed by ISIS, but who are inspired by their message, by their philosophy to commit acts of terror in your country?

    MICHAEL FALLON: Well, we have a program of — aimed at tackling radicalization. We call it the Prevent program to try and identify much earlier those who are likely to end up as potential terrorists, to identify them in the schools, at the colleges, in the madrasas, and working with moderate Muslim communities to see who these people are and see what we can do to make sure they don’t go along that journey of being mildly, mildly Islamist to being extreme.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I think it’s widely accepted that there has been a greater effort to integrate Muslims into U.S. society than there has been in European countries, including the U.K.

    Are there lessons that your country is learning from the U.S. about integrating Muslims into society that makes you stronger when it comes to standing up to this extremist…

    MICHAEL FALLON: Well, that is exactly the challenge.

    The United States is a great open society, and you have found a way of embracing different faiths and different immigrants from different countries and making them all Americans. And we need to work harder than that — about that in Western Europe, and avoiding the kind of ghettoization of different groups that can lead to these tensions, and make it more difficult to challenge extremist behavior later on.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary of Defense Michael Fallon, we thank you for talking with us.

    MICHAEL FALLON: Thank you.

    The post UK accelerating pace of anti-ISIS missions, says defense secretary appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The United States Capitol is seen at sunset in Washington November 11, 2014. The Capitol dome is currently under scaffolding for repairs. REUTERS/Gary Cameron    (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT POLITICS SOCIETY) - RTR4DSDR

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. government will remain open, for now. Congress today sent President Obama a short-term spending bill to fund agencies through next Wednesday. The move buys more time to negotiate a $1.1 trillion long-term tax and spending bill.

    House lawmakers on both sides remained optimistic that a budget deal could be reached by next week.

    REP. JARED POLIS
    (D), Colorado: The Republicans have previously shown this country their willingness to go into a shutdown. So, I hope that we take this new five-day period to avoid a shutdown permanently, rather than just to do another three or five days again and again and again.

    REP. TOM COLE (R), Oklahoma: Writing a $1.1 trillion omnibus bill takes a lot of time. And there’s multiple items to be negotiated. Now, I think both sides is negotiating in good faith in this legislative body, and I think the administration is participating in good faith.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Negotiators remain divided, though, over additional unrelated provisions that some lawmakers are trying to attach to the bill. They include new environmental rules on carbon emissions and efforts to stem the flow of Syrian refugees into the United States.

    Two giants in the chemical industry, DuPont and Dow Chemical, have officially announced they’re merging. The fusion of two of America’s oldest companies is valued at $130 billion. The new entity will be split into three separate companies, focused on agriculture, materials, and specialty products. But the deal still requires the approval of federal regulators.

    The price of oil plunged to near seven-year lows today. It closed at $35.62 a barrel in New York, down more than 3 percent. The drop has been driven by increased U.S. production, an abundant global supply, and the strength of the U.S. dollar. And it triggered a sell-off on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average plummeted over 309 points to close at 17265. The Nasdaq fell more than 111 points, and the S&P 500 lost nearly 40 points.

    For the week, the Nasdaq and the S&P were down roughly 4 percent. The Dow fell more than 3 percent.

    High-stakes global climate talks on the outskirts of Paris are dragging into an extra day. Negotiations were scheduled to wrap today, but disagreements remain over who should bear the most burden in reducing emissions and whether rich countries should be responsible for most of the cost.

    Diplomats from over 190 nations were trying to reach a deal, and the summit’s president, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, said the time is right.

    LAURENT FABIUS, French Foreign Minister (through interpreter): All the conditions are there for us to reach a universal, ambitious agreement, and observers will recognize that the conditions have probably never been so favorable. Now it’s the ministers’ responsibility to make their choice tomorrow.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Fabius is expected to present a new version of the draft accord Saturday morning.

    Heightened security measures remained in place in Geneva, Switzerland today, amid an ongoing hunt for possible terror suspects linked to the Islamic State. At Geneva’s airport, bomb squads detonated abandoned luggage as a precaution. A few miles away, armed guards remained vigilant outside the United Nations building.

    Officials warned the enhanced security could last for the foreseeable future.

    PIERRE MAUDET, Geneva Minister of Economy and Security (through interpreter): For us, this is a pretty sustained effort for police forces. There are actions in several parts of the town: bomb alerts, a need to reinforce police troops, and we have the capacity to maintain this level for a certain number of days.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Authorities said they’re searching for at least four suspects believed to be plotting a specific attack in the city. Local news media reported the two Syrian nationals were arrested today in Geneva after traces of explosives were found in their car, but it’s not clear if they were linked to the manhunt.

    Back in this country, officials are scouring for red flags they missed before last week’s shooting in San Bernardino. The Associated Press reported that authorities didn’t pick up on extremist messages that were exchanged online between the two killers, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, two years ago.

    Meanwhile, an FBI dive team again searched a small lake some three miles from the attack site, looking for a computer hard drive that may have been dumped.

    And there were competing court rulings in New York today over two daily fantasy sports Web sites. At first, a judge banned the sites DraftKings and FanDuel from doing business in the state. That was after New York’s attorney general argued that the games were illegal gambling. But, later, a state appeals court judge said the sites could continue to operate for now, while the issue is fully considered.

    The post News Wrap: Congress buys time with short-term spending bill appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Complex in Birmingham, Alabama, Nov. 21, 2015. Photo by Marvin Gentry/Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Complex in Birmingham, Alabama, Nov. 21, 2015. Photo by Marvin Gentry/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — There’s no legal or historical precedent for closing U.S. borders to the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, but neither is there any Supreme Court case that clearly prevents a president or Congress from doing so.

    Legal experts are divided over how the high court would react to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call for a temporary halt to Muslims entering the United States.

    “The court has never been faced with a challenge against a whole religion. I think that would raise interesting and novel questions for the court,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, who teaches immigration law at Cornell University’s law school.

    Any such blanket action based on a person’s religion would be unconstitutional if applied to U.S. citizens, scholars agree.

    But courts have given Congress and the president wide discretion when it comes to immigration.

    “I don’t actually think it would be unconstitutional. The president has a huge amount of discretion under the immigration statute,” said Eric Posner, a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago. The same protections given citizens do not apply to people who are neither American nor in the United States, Posner said.

    Courts have upheld the denial of visas to enter the country to Marxists and people born to parents who were not married, among many categories. The Supreme Court has never struck down an immigration classification on the basis of race or any other reason, said Temple University immigration expert Peter Spiro.

    Other scholars offer a different take. They say the court would not grant the president a blank check and would instead rely on constitutional provisions that protect religious freedom and prohibit discrimination to strike down a ban on Muslim visitors to the United States.

    “Imagine that instead of banning Muslims, we banned blacks from any country,” said Vanderbilt University’s Suzanna Sherry, describing a hypothetical reaction to a period of intense racial unrest in the United States. “If you’re black, you can’t come into the country. … I don’t think a court today would ever hold that constitutional,” Sherry said.

    Sherry acknowledged that she cannot cite any case involving immigration to support her view, and that a Supreme Court decision to uphold bans on Chinese laborers in the late 1800s points in Trump’s favor.

    “But developments in discrimination law and First Amendment law suggest that the court would not today uphold an exclusion on the basis of religion,” she said.

    The Supreme Court also upheld the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

    Both the anti-Chinese laws and the internment camps now are widely seen as shameful episodes in American history.

    But no less an authority than Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has said it is naive to think the country would never again resort to such harsh measures, particularly during wartime.

    “That’s what was going on – the panic about the war and the invasion of the Pacific and whatnot. That’s what happens,” Scalia said on a visit to Hawaii in 2014, describing the mood in America following Pearl Harbor that led to the internment camps. “It was wrong, but I would not be surprised to see it happen again, in time of war. It’s no justification, but it is the reality.”

    Predictions about how the court might rule do not matter as much as public reaction at the moment. While 58 percent of Americans oppose a temporary ban on Muslim visitors in a CBS News poll, Trump’s proposal finds much more favorable reaction from Republicans. Fifty-four percent Republicans support the ban, the poll found.

    Trump has remained at the head of the Republican field for months, and his tough words about Muslims may be tapping into fears among Republican voters about immigrants from the Middle East. His proposal to keep Muslims from entering the United States followed the Dec. 2 shootings in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 dead and 21 wounded.

    Tashfeen Malik, a Muslim from Pakistan who with her husband was killed by police in a gun battle after the rampage, entered the country on a fiancee visa that is issued abroad to people who plan to marry American citizens, authorities have said. Last year, Malik married the other suspect in the shooting, U.S. citizen Syed Rizwan Farook.

    Trump said he would prevent Muslims from entering the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

    Trump’s proposal turns traditional ideas about the United States as a beacon for political and religious refugees upside down, said Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director of the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago.

    “In all honesty, I never in my whole entire life thought that we’d be fighting for the human and due process rights of refugees,” including many who have fled religious persecution, McCarthy said. Efforts to halt the flow of refugees risks disturbing the balance “our commitment to fairness and refugee protection with our national security interests,” she said.

    The post No consensus about legality of Trump’s idea to ban Muslims from U.S. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R) U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, businessman Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson applaud before the start of the 2016 U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate held by CNBC in Boulder, Colorado, October 28, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking - RTX1TPVF

    Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R) U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, businessman Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson applaud before the start of the 2016 U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate held by CNBC in Boulder, Colorado, October 28, 2015. Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters.

    WASHINGTON — Donald Trump and Ben Carson could dangle the possibility of independent runs for president well into the primary season next year, but they can’t wait forever.

    State filing deadlines would give the two Republicans until about March to launch independent or third-party campaigns, experts said. That would give a well-financed campaign enough time to gather sufficient signatures on petitions so the candidate could appear on the ballot in every state.

    Starting next summer would be too late.

    “Ross Perot in 1992 didn’t start petitioning until March,” said Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News. “He was on the ballot in every state.”

    Perot, a Texas businessman, got 19 percent of the vote in 1992 and Bill Clinton was elected president with 43 percent.

    An independent or third-party run by either Trump or Carson would be a nightmare for Republican leaders.

    If either or both take that step, the chances of winning the presidency would be a long shot. But one or both could siphon enough votes from the Republican nominee to hand the election to the Democrats.

    “If you think about a Trump-Carson exit, then you’re talking about 51 percent of the current Republican electorate, based on the polling,” said Walter Stone, a political scientist at the University of California Davis.

    Both Trump and Carson have pledged to support the Republican nominee for president, though Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul, has reserved the right to launch an independent bid if he feels he has been treated unfairly.

    Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, raised the prospect of leaving the Republican Party on Friday after a report that GOP leaders had discussed the possibility of a contested convention if Trump fared well in party primaries.

    For months, Trump has been atop most national polls in the race for the Republican nomination. Carson has recently slipped a bit while more establishment Republicans like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have struggled.

    Launching an independent campaign for president isn’t as simple as holding a press conference and coming up with a catchy name for your new political party – something like, the Make America Great Party.

    States have set up a legal maze of different deadlines and requirements that makes it challenging for even well-funded campaigns to get on the ballot in every state.

    Texas has the earliest deadline – May 9 – to file as an independent candidate for president. However, several states have deadlines in March if the candidate forms a minor party, which can sometimes require fewer signatures to get on the ballot.

    In Texas, independent candidates must gather signatures from 79,939 registered voters by May 9. They can’t start gathering the signatures until after March 1, the date of the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries in that state.

    And all of the signatures must come from voters who did not vote in either party’s primary.

    “Our ballot access laws are a mess,” Winger said. “They are absurd.”

    Winger says he has charted the easiest path to get on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia -forming a minor political party in some states and running as an independent in others.

    In all, he says, the candidate would need support from about 600,000 voters across the country to get on all ballots.

    Trump could manage that, Winger said. And Carson probably could, too.

    But could either of them win the presidency as a third-party candidate?

    Probably not, said Stone, the political scientist.

    “The infrastructure of American politics is so tied to the two-party system that it is hard to overcome that,” Stone said.

    Third-party candidates might poll well early in the campaign. But if they are not winning, their supporters might start worrying that they could be wasting their vote. Or worse, Stone said, handing the election to the opposing party.

    “Think about how a Republican candidate would campaign,” Stone said. “They would say that a vote for Trump is assuring victory to your least favorite candidate.

    “As they make that argument, voters begin to drift back to their home party.”

    The post Trump and Carson have months to weigh third-party runs appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — New Speaker Paul Ryan promised a fresh start for the House.

    But it’s looking like business as usual as lawmakers wrap up a year-end spending bill that pays for Planned Parenthood, the president’s health care law and other Obama administration priorities, while shunning some top conservative priorities.

    Last-stage negotiations are taking place in private and at the highest levels, shutting out rank-and-file lawmakers and even committee chairmen, despite Ryan’s promises to include them.

    The bill looks likely to pass with primarily Democratic votes, despite the Wisconsin lawmaker’s goal of garnering majority House GOP support for major legislation.

    Even the issue that several conservatives name as their No. 1 priority – tightening controls on Syrian refugees coming to this country – looks unlikely to make it into the final bill.

    Yet far from threatening a coup and trying to oust Ryan, as they did to former Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, conservatives are applauding. Not the $1.1 trillion spending bill, which most of them hate and will oppose when it comes to a vote, probably on Wednesday, but Ryan himself.

    Through a combination of involving the dissidents, listening to them, respecting them and plainly flattering them, Ryan has managed to turn Boehner’s most avowed enemies into some of his main cheerleaders, all without altering the actual legislative product of the House.

    The feat is all the more striking because the catch-all government-wide spending bill, days away from a shutdown deadline that Congress agreed just Friday to move back by five days, is exactly the type of legislation and process that conservatives complained about mightily when it happened under Boehner.

    “I believe that he is really doing everything that he said he’d do as far as making an inclusive process and reaching out and taking members’ concerns to heart,” Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., said of Ryan.

    Salmon, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus that pushed Boehner out the door in September, recounted how Ryan interrupted his own family time last weekend to call and spend half-an-hour discussing Salmon’s push for Congress to vote on a use of force authorization to combat the Islamic State group.

    “I thought it fell on deaf ears like it always would have before,” Salmon said. “That would have never happened with John Boehner.”

    Another conservative activist, Rep. Steve King of Iowa, said the spending bill is unfolding much as he anticipated, with leadership ignoring the hard-line faction and searching for Democratic votes instead. Yet King bears Ryan no ill will. He even invited Ryan to speak Wednesday at a weekly breakfast of conservatives hosted by King. Ryan accepted – something else Boehner never did.

    “I’m not going to be able to give him a vote but I don’t think we need to have a revolt over it, either,” King said. “Boehner almost cleaned the barn, but this is the last pile of manure that conservatives may have to walk around.”

    King’s comment points to one reason Ryan is getting a pass on a product and process that conservatives abhorred under Boehner. Many Republicans still blame Boehner for the current state of affairs: the need to pass a single measure with all 12 annual spending bills stuffed into it, instead of moving each spending bill through committee and then to the floor under a “regular order” process adored by conservatives.

    Ryan has repeatedly criticized the current process, telling lawmakers in private that the massive spending bill amounted to a “crap sandwich.”

    “This is something I more or less inherited from the last regime,” he told reporters this past week.

    Ryan is promising lawmakers and the public that things will be different next year. He is pledging a bold and specific agenda that will offer a clear contrast with Democrats, even before seeing who emerges as the GOP presidential nominee.

    He also is offering assurances that instead of mammoth bills negotiated at top levels and dropped onto the floor at the last minute, spending bills will emerge in orderly fashion from committees. Instead of power consolidated at the top by leadership, it will devolve down to committees.

    “He doesn’t like this process but that’s the hand he’s been dealt,” said Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn. “We’ve got to get through this, but he said next year it’s different. Get a strategy out there, do this from the bottom up, from committees.”

    But next year, Ryan will face the realities of divided government, a Democratic president with a veto pen, a Senate with an empowered Democratic minority and a House with few Republicans willing to sign onto deals that meet Democratic demands to boost government spending.

    Whether he can navigate effectively without Boehner to blame and amid election-year politics may stand as the true test of his speakership.

    “A lot of this as much as anything is Paul and the conference dealing the best they can with a bad hand,” said Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., “with tremendous hope for next year.”

    The post U.S. House under new management, but it’s business as usual appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius, President-designate of COP21, puts his hand over his heart after a speech. He stands with French President Francois Hollande, French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the World Climate Change Conference 2015, where on Saturday 195 countries formed a historic pact to address global warming. Photo by Philippe Wojazer/Reuters.

    Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius, President-designate of COP21, puts his hand over his heart after a speech. He stands with French President Francois Hollande, French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the World Climate Change Conference 2015, where on Saturday 195 countries formed a historic pact to address global warming.
    Photo by Philippe Wojazer/Reuters.

    In the waning hours of a nearly two-week summit held outside Paris to address the rising threat of global warming, negotiators said on Saturday that 196 countries have come to terms on a watershed agreement.

    The announcement marks the first time every country in the world has committed to a deal to take action on climate change.

    France, the summit’s host country, released a 31-page draft of the arrangement early on Saturday after several weeks of fervent negotiations among international leaders.

    “The end is in sight, let us now finish the job. The whole world is watching,” said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. “Billions of people are relying on your wisdom, the time has come to acknowledge that national interests are best served by acting in the global interest and solidarity.”

    By nightfall, the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, struck his gavel indicating the international treaty has been officially formed, to raucous applause among the approving delegation.

    The agreement seeks to ebb the earth’s rising temperatures and create a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Terms of the deal would begin in 2020, with the specific goal of limiting the earth’s average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius or better, while also reigning in greenhouse gases emissions.

    The earth’s average temperature has risen more than 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial times.

    Previous pacts to reduce carbon emissions have been made only among wealthier countries of the world, but excluded China and India because they were viewed as developing countries. The new deal requires all countries to reduce emissions by burning less fossil fuels.

    “This is a pivotal moment where nations stepped across political fault lines to collectively face down climate change,” said Lou Leonard, vice president of climate change for the World Wildlife Federation, to the Washington Post. “For decades, we have heard that large developing nations don’t care about climate change and aren’t acting fast enough. The climate talks in Paris showed us that this false narrative now belongs in the dustbin of history.”

    But critis said after the deal was formed that the final version lacked the legal authority to ultimately force participation among the world’s countries and did not specifically mention how funding initially planned for poorer countries would be raised.

    The wealthier nations among the international consortium had planned to raise $500 billion by 2020 to assist poorer countries in meeting emission goals, but with last-minute pressure by the United States and others the idea was left out of the agreement.

    The deal still needs to be ratified by at least 55 countries, according to the Associated Press. Some questioned whether the United States would be able to pass the accord through the Republican-controlled Congress, whose members have been skeptical of global warming.

    “The commitments that the president made in Paris aren’t going to happen,” Sen. James M. Inhoffe (R-Okla.) said on Friday. “The American people have caught on to the president’s climate charade.”

    Oliver Geden, head of the European Union Research Division, told the PBS NewsHour that while the global warming agreement had made “remarkable progress,” the “spin on the final day is more positive than the actual result.”

    “Many segments contain very vague language, but this kind of constructive ambiguity is often the only way to get a deal done – the actual meaning will only develop over time,” he said. “Overall, COP21 does not mark a break with the modus operandi of kicking the can down the road to delay costly decisions.”

    Still, the significance of bringing all of the world’s countries into a ubiquitous agreement did not go unnoticed.

    “History will remember this day,” said Ban, the U.N. Secretary General. “The Paris agreement on climate change is a monumental success for the planet and its people.”

    The post Landmark climate deal approved by nearly 200 countries in Paris appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Start spreading the news: Saturday marks the centennial of Frank Sinatra.

    franksinatra

    Even though the legendary crooner never formally learned to read music, Sinatra’s career spanning half a century earned him nicknames such as, “The Voice” and “The Sultan of Swoon,” as he left an indelible mark on American music.

    Though highly celebrated, his life was burdened by periods of darkness, including rocky romances, potential ties to the mob, depression and even a secret FBI file.

    Here are eight things you didn’t know about “Ol’ Blue Eyes.”

    1. He was given up for dead at birth.
    Sinatra had a traumatic welcome into the world. Born on Dec. 12, 1915, in the kitchen of his parent’s Hoboken, New Jersey, apartment, the 13-pound baby had to be delivered with forceps and was thought to be stillborn. Blue and not breathing, the doctor laid him on the counter while he attended to Sinatra’s mother.

    It was only when his grandmother picked up the newborn, ran him under cold water and slapped his back that Sinatra started breathing.

    And another mishap was right around the corner: He was supposed to be called Martin after his father, but the priest who conducted his baptism accidentally named him after his godfather, Frank Garrick. Sinatra’s mother chose to stick with the name.

    American singer and actor Frank Sinatra (1915 - 1998) gestures with his hands while singing into a microphone during a recording session in a studio at Capitol Records, early 1950s. (Photo by Murray Garrett/Getty Images)

    Sinatra gestures with his hands while singing into a microphone during a recording session in a studio at Capitol Records in the early 1950s. Photo by Murray Garrett/Getty Images.

    2. His nickname as a teen was Scarface.
    The forceps used during Sinatra’s birth caused severe scarring to his left cheek, neck and ear that ran from the corner of his mouth to his jawline, which was exacerbated by cystic acne as an adolescent, thus earning him the nickname “Scarface.” As an adult, Sinatra wore makeup to hide the scars, but he still reportedly hated being photographed on his left side.

    His physical insecurities didn’t end there. At 5’7, he also wore elevated shoes to appear taller.

    3. His first fangirls were paid to scream.
    By the 1940s, Frankie, as he was known then, became one of America’s first teen idols. But his publicist George Evans didn’t leave anything up to chance. He auditioned girls to find those who could sing the loudest and paid them $5 each to sit at strategic locations in the audience to whip up excitement.

    It likely wasn’t necessary, though. In the early 1940s, his skyrocketing popularity ushered in what was known as “Sinatramania,” with tens of thousands of riotous fans greeting him after performances.

    Ecstatic young fan, Virginia Schneider, smiles while attending a Frank Sinatra concert at the Paramount Theater in New York in November 1944. Photo by Arthur Fellig/International Center of Photography.

    Ecstatic young fan, Virginia Schneider, smiles while attending a Frank Sinatra concert at the Paramount Theater in New York in November 1944. Photo by Arthur Fellig/International Center of Photography.

    4. He loved New York.
    Born just across the Hudson River in Hoboken, N.J., Sinatra’s songbook is a trove of tender odes to the Big Apple. Ditties including “The Brooklyn Bridge,” “Autumn in New York” and “The Lady Is a Tramp” are just a few that used the city as a backdrop.

    And the city loved him back. One of Sinatra’s most famous hits, “New York, New York,” was adopted as the city’s unofficial anthem and is often heard at New York-area events like weddings, bar mitzvahs and sporting events. In fact, for the past 35 years, the Yankees pipe the song over the loudspeakers after the final out of every game at Yankee Stadium.

    You can even take a self-guided Frank Sinatra walking tour, which makes stops in Hoboken and Manhattan at his childhood home, his favorite haunts including Tutty’s Bar and Jilly’s Saloon, and places where he spent time recording, including Brunswick Studio, CBS Radio Studios and Columbia Records Studio.

    Sinatra in concert at Radio City Music Hall. Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive.

    Sinatra in concert at Radio City Music Hall. Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive.

    5. He had a signature drink. 
    “This is a gentleman’s drink,” Sinatra once said referring to his preferred sprit of Jack Daniel’s whiskey. His signature cocktail was a mix of four ice cubes, two fingers of Jack Daniel’s and a splash of water.

    And he would never touch the rim of a glass but rather cupped it in his hand with a cocktail napkin.

    Sinatra holds a drink before a performance at the Sands Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in 1965. Photo By John Dominis/Time Life Pictures.

    Sinatra holds a drink before a performance at the Sands Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in 1965. Photo By John Dominis/Time Life Pictures.

    6. He originated the celebrity squad.
    Long before Taylor Swift made waves by pulling on stage her supermodel best friends, there was Sinatra and his gregarious group of guy friends, known by outsiders as the Rat Pack.

    LAS VEGAS - 1962:  Entertainers and members of the Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, pose for a portrait outside The Sands Hotel and casino in circa 1962 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

    Entertainers and members of the Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, pose for a portrait outside The Sands Hotel and casino in circa 1962 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.

    After his professional career had stalled by the early 1950s, Sinatra turned to Las Vegas where he became one of the scene’s prominent pioneer performers and the eventual leader of the Rat Pack, after the death of its original leader Humphrey Bogart. The group, rounded out by members Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, ruled the Las Vegas scene and performed on stage and in films of the early 1960s, including Ocean’s 11, Sergeants 3 and Robin and the 7 Hoods.

    The Rat Pack, which was the name only used by the media, was coined by actress Lauren Bacall, and Sinatra reportedly always hated it. Instead, they initially referred to themselves as “the Clan” or “the Summit.” The group was formed at a time when “20th-century ideals of manhood hadn’t yet been subverted by the androgynous aesthetic of rock and roll,” according to author James Kaplan.

    7. He attempted suicide several times.
    By the early 1950s, Sinatra’s star had fallen hard. Feeling washed up, he reportedly put his head on the stove in his New York City apartment and turned on the gas. His manager later found him lying on the floor, sobbing.

    Later on, his rocky relationship with actress Ava Gardner apparently upset him so much that he made three suicide attempts while he was still with her, including on one occasion when he walked into their bedroom holding a gun to his head. A scuffle ensued where Gardner struggled to take the weapon from him, firing the gun, but the bullet missed them both.

    Sinatra's Grave in Palm Springs. Photo by Barry King/WireImage.

    Sinatra’s Grave in Palm Springs. Photo by Barry King/WireImage.

    8. His last words were ‘I’m losing.’
    After suffering a severe heart attack, Sinatra died at age 82 on May 14, 1998 by his wife’s side at a hospital in Los Angeles. He lived his final years in poor health, afflicted by heart and breathing problems, high blood pressure, pneumonia, bladder cancer and dementia. His last words to his wife reportedly were, “I’m losing.”

    The night after his death, in New York, the Empire State Building glowed blue in tribute, and in Las Vegas, the lights on the Strip were dimmed and casinos stopped spinning for a minute in his honor.

    His funeral on May 20 in Beverly Hills was attended by 400 mourners including notable entertainers Gregory Peck and Tony Bennet, and thousands of fans waited outside the church.

    At his burial, friends and family placed several mementos in his casket, including cherry-flavored Life Savors, Tootsie Rolls, stuffed toys, a dog biscuit, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and a pack of Camel cigarettes and a Zippo lighter.

    On his tombstone, “The Best is Yet to Come,” was engraved, which coincidentally was the last song he sang in public at age 79.

    The post 8 things you didn’t know about Frank Sinatra appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An early Thanksgiving meal is served to the homeless at the Los Angeles Mission in California. Experts say poverty is an issue that people on both sides of the political aisle agree needs to be addressed. Photo by Mario Anzuoni/Reuters.

    An early Thanksgiving meal is served to the homeless at the Los Angeles Mission in California. Experts say poverty is an issue that people on both sides of the political aisle agree needs to be addressed. Photo by Mario Anzuoni/Reuters.

    On a moral level, most Americans agree that we should help the poor, but how exactly we go about it has become one of the most divisive issues in politics — and that’s saying a lot these days. The divide between right and left has been increasing in the past three decades, causing political gridlock and, in 2013, the shutdown of the federal government.

    That’s when social psychologist Jonathan Haidt decided it was time to try something new. Haidt had spent years studying the moral foundations of our political ideology. In his research he had found that we all believe in many of the same basic principles — things like compassion and fairness — and thought that maybe by using some of those shared values as a starting point, people on the right and left could begin to see eye to eye.

    Haidt convened a group of policy people from across the political spectrum to talk about issues of concern to each side, and discovered that one issue everyone really cared about was poverty. The group worked together for more than a year to produce a report, released last week, entitled Opportunity, Responsibility and Security: A Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty and Restoring the American Dream.

    While the group did agree to solutions, there were sticking points. For example, like the vast majority of Americans, the group agreed that the minimum wage should be higher — but they couldn’t agree to a number.

    But looking at data that shows that children of single mothers are poorer and have a harder time climbing the social ladder than others, experts from both sides of the aisle agreed that promoting marriage (traditionally more a concern of the right), and making birth control available to all (traditionally a concern of the left) are both essential to reducing poverty.

    CtD-Logo21

    Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provid​es a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

    The post To reduce poverty, a plan experts across the political spectrum can agree upon appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    DES MOINES, Iowa — For Bernie Sanders, victory in Iowa’s kickoff presidential caucuses hinges on a simple proposition: that his message of political revolution will inspire people who typically stay home on that deep-winter night.

    Of course, that’s easier said than done.

    Getting new people out to these party organizing events, which usually draw small numbers, remains the holy grail of Iowa politics. In 2008, Barack Obama helped boost attendance to an unmatched 240,000 Democrats and won on his way to the presidency. But these meetings take hours on a weeknight and Iowa in February tends to be frigid.

    “We have to reach out to first-time caucus goers or caucus goers who haven’t caucused in a long time,” said Pete D’Alessandro, who is running the Iowa operation for the Vermont senator and Democratic contender. “We have to expand the definition of what the caucus goer is.” He wouldn’t say if the campaign thinks Sanders actually needs to win the caucuses or just have a strong showing against Hillary Clinton to keep him strong for contests that follow.

    Sanders, who is back in Iowa this weekend, has been greeted rapturously on previous trips through the state, pumping up thousands of people at rallies with soaring rhetoric. But while his campaign message – with pledges of paid family leave, free public university and single-payer health care – has been received with enthusiasm, Sanders lags behind Clinton in state polls.

    Jeff Link, who advised Obama in Iowa in 2008 and 2012, cautioned that motivating new people is extremely hard. “It’s never really been done in a real way except for 2008,” he said.

    Undaunted, a passionate force of paid and volunteer staffers is working all out for Sanders for caucus night Feb. 1. His campaign has brought in millions in contributions, enough to make him competitive when it comes to Iowa staffing. Currently, he has 91 paid people on the ground, about 70 of them organizers, and 21 offices across the state.

    Clinton has 24 offices, at least 78 organizers deployed and the benefit of a much earlier start this year. The former secretary of state also has far more institutional support, with most of the state’s top elected Democrats and lawmakers on board, while Sanders has no backing from high-ranking elected officials.

    All of this matters in Iowa because the caucuses are very different from primaries in other states. The Democratic caucuses require participants to form groups of candidate supporters and gather in schools, church basements and homes throughout Iowa. Supporters of candidates who receive less than 15 percent support in an individual precinct disperse, giving other supporters a chance to argue for their support. Republican caucuses use a more straightforward process, though the same attendance rules apply.

    Recent organizing activities with Sanders’ supporters show that this is simply very slow work.

    For example, Christina Davelaar, 39, of West Des Moines, dialed about 100 numbers during a phone-banking session, spoke to five people and only found one definite Sanders supporter. She said she had “mixed feelings” about the experience, though she plans to volunteer again soon.

    Members of National Nurses United, which endorsed Sanders, fanned out in Des Moines on a bright November morning to knock on doors. The group had many non-Iowa residents, and brief training revealed some of the challenges of schooling out-of-towners quickly – many were unfamiliar with how caucuses actually work.

    In South Des Moines, Mona Cetnar of Chicago and Kristine Dixon, of Ankeny, Iowa, quickly learned how many doors you have to knock just to find a person – let alone a Sanders supporter. After an hour, the duo in red T-shirts had spoken to about a half a dozen people, with a few expressing interest in Sanders, but no one ready to sign up to caucus.

    Cetnar and Dixon tried to talk with people about health care and education as they pitched for Sanders. “I want to see a brighter future,” Cetnar said. But they encountered oddities along the way. One man answered his door with no shirt on and bluntly said: “I’m willing to vote, but not for Bernie.”

    On the Republican side, another candidate probably needs to motivate new people to come out. Front-runner Donald Trump has been drawing huge crowds, often filled with people who say they have not participated in past caucuses. The campaign has been encouraging people to sign up and has been drawing enthusiastic volunteers, but officials have been reluctant to share details on how the organizing is going.

    Pollster Ann Selzer, who conducts the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll, noted one similarity between the contest today and in 2007. In Selzer’s October poll, Clinton was leading the field, as she was then. But Selzer also noted that Obama held a double-digit lead with independents eight years ago and Sanders holds an even larger lead with that group this time.

    “On paper you would say Sanders is in a better place” than Obama, the eventual Iowa winner, in 2007, Selzer said. But the question, she said, is whether he has the organization to turn that potential into caucus votes.

    The post Bernie Sanders’ Iowa supporters try to get new people out to caucus appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks with Al Gore, former U.S. Vice President and Climate Reality Project Chairman, at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 12, 2015. Climate negotiators in Paris appeared on the verge of clinching a landmark accord on Saturday to transform the world's fossil fuel-driven economy within decades and turn the tide on global warming.   Photo by Stephane Mahe/Reuters.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks with Al Gore, former U.S. Vice President and Climate Reality Project Chairman, at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 12, 2015. Climate negotiators in Paris appeared on the verge of clinching a landmark accord on Saturday to transform the world’s fossil fuel-driven economy within decades and turn the tide on global warming. Photo by Stephane Mahe/Reuters.

    WASHINGTON — The White House is praising what it calls “the most ambitious climate change agreement in history” after the United States and nearly 200 other countries backed the deal in Paris.

    President Barack Obama plans to speak about the agreement at 5:30 p.m. Eastern from the White House Cabinet Room.

    The White House says the accord establishes “a long-term, durable global framework” to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

    The U.S. is the world’s second largest climate polluter, and Obama has pledged that the U.S. will cut its overall emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent by 2030.

    The climate talks already had run into opposition from Republicans who control Congress. They say Obama’s commitment to reduce emissions from U.S. power plants would cost thousands of American jobs and raise electricity costs.

    “We can expect the administration to cite this ‘agreement’ as their excuse for establishing emission targets for every sector of the U.S. economy not only including utilities, but petroleum refining, all manufacturing, agriculture and others,” said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

    Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader, said climate change poses one of the the greatest threats the world has ever known, and that no country acting alone can stem the tide.

    “The time to act is now,” Nevada’s Reid said.

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    JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA- Saudi women cast their votes for the municipal elections at a polling station on Saturday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Women are running the municipal council seats as candidates for the first time in the Kingdom's history and also be allowed for the first time to vote in a governmental election. The Municipal councils are the only government body in which Saudi Arabian citizens can elect representatives, so the vote is widely seen as a small but significant opening for women to play a more equal role in society.  Photo by Jordan Pix/ Getty Images

    Saudi women cast their votes for the municipal elections at a polling station on Saturday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Photo by Jordan Pix/ Getty Images

    Saudi Arabian women headed to the polls and nearly 1,000 more entered as candidates for local elections on Saturday for the first time in the country’s history.

    The move to open up elections and grant the right to vote to Saudi women was backed by the country’s late King Abdullah, who made the decision following the Arab Spring in 2011. Men were granted the right to vote in 2005.

    In total, more than 130,000 women registered to vote and 978 ran for an office. Those figures compare to 1.35 million registered male voters and 5,938 male candidates who were vying for nearly 300 municipal seats, the only positions open to elections in Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by an absolute monarch.

    While the decision was viewed as a significant change in a country long-known for suppressing women’s rights, the occurrence was not without boundaries, including banning candidates pushing to grant women the right to drive and requiring women to speak behind partitions or having a male relative represent them as they campaigned.

    But it was viewed as a step toward granting equal rights in the country, according to Hatoon al-Fassi, a coordinator for the Saudi Baladi Initiative, which worked to raise awareness about the elections.

    “I don’t consider winning to be the ultimate goal,” she said. “We are looking at it as an opportunity to exercise our right and to push for more.”

    The election results are expected on Sunday.

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    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the climate agreement at the White House in Washington, December 12, 2015. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters.

    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the climate agreement at the White House in Washington, December 12, 2015. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters.

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is portraying the global warming pact reached in Paris on Saturday as the strong agreement the world needed to confront a threat to the people of all nations.

    Obama, speaking from the White House, said the leaders from nearly 200 nations working in Paris “met the moment” in agreeing to what is being described as the most ambitious climate change agreement in history. He said the world can be more confident this planet is going to be in better shape for the next generation.

    “Together we’ve shown what is possible when the world stands as one,” Obama said.

    Obama said the agreement is not perfect, but sets a framework the world needs to continue tackling global warming in an effective way. He said the agreement will contain periodic reviews and assessments to ensure that countries meet their commitments. As technology advances, targets can be updated over time. The agreement also calls for supporting the most vulnerable nations as they pursue cleaner economic growth.

    “In short, this agreement will mean less of the carbon pollution that threatens our planet and more of the jobs and economic growth driven by low-carbon investments,” Obama said.

    The climate talks have generated opposition from Republicans who control Congress. They say Obama’s commitment to reduce emissions from U.S. power plants would cost thousands of American jobs and raise electricity costs.

    “We can expect the administration to cite this ‘agreement’ as their excuse for establishing emission targets for every sector of the U.S. economy not only including utilities, but petroleum refining, all manufacturing, agriculture and others,” said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

    Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader, said climate change poses one of the the greatest threats the world has ever known, and that no country acting alone can stem the tide.

    “The time to act is now,” Nevada’s Reid said.

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    Environmentalists hold a banner which reads, "Crank up the Action" at a protest demonstration near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, as the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) continues near the French capital in Le Bourget, December 12, 2015.   REUTERS/Mal Langsdon  - RTX1YD4F

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Earlier this evening from the White House, President Obama said the deal is a turning point that provides the architecture to save planet from the worst consequences of climate change.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No nation, not even one as powerful as ours, can solve this challenge alone. And no country, no matter how small, can sit on the sidelines. Even if all of initial targets set in Paris are met, we’ll only be part of the way there when it comes to reducing carbon from the atmosphere. So, we cannot be complacent.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Joining me now from Paris to discuss the deal is “Wall Street Journal” reporter Matt Dalton.

    So, the overall picture, the people you talked to today after the gavel went down, how are they feeling about this deal?

    MATT DALTON, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: They’re feeling really good. Scientists, environmental groups, government officials, they’re all pleasantly surprised about how ambitious the agreement turned out to be. There was really not much watering down at the end of the negotiations. In fact, in some ways, the agreement might have gotten more rigorous.

    So, everybody is really pleased.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Last week, when we spoke, we said one of the major hurdles was the payment scheme. What are the rich countries, the developed countries responsible for? What are the developing countries like India and China responsible for? And you said at the time there was lots of brackets, things to be determined. What happened with that?

    MATT DALTON: Well, this is one area where there — I think there was a little bit of watering down. The developed countries have avoided any kind of legal requirement to pay this money to developing countries. And that was something that was a red line for the U.S. in particular because they don’t want to have to bring this agreement to be ratified by the U.S. Senate, where Republicans would almost certainly block it.

    So, any kind of legal obligation that would involve a congressional appropriation to fund these kinds of schemes was pushed aside, largely at the request of the U.S. and a few other developed countries.

    The developing countries escaped any kind of requirement to fund any of the poorest nations on their own. There was some talk — the developed countries really want this, to have a country like China, which is a wealthy, relatively wealthy developing nation, provide money as a legal requirement under this agreement. And that was — that was pushed aside, as well.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You know, there are some squishy areas here when you look through the 31 pages. I mean, it says they want to reach a carbon peak as soon as possible, not any specific date. And then there are other clauses that say some time in the second half of the century. Again, no specific dates.

    MATT DALTON: That’s a product of what could be considered the fundamental weakness of this agreement, which is that the actual emissions reductions are not prescribed by the treaty or the agreement itself. The emissions reductions are set voluntarily by individual governments, according to their own preferences.

    So, this is a problem. It means that it’s difficult to kind of prescribe a specific time when emissions might peak, when the economy would become decarbonized. So, it’s largely a result, to some extent, anyway, a result of the problems the U.S. has getting these agreements through Congress, because any kind of internationally agreed emissions reduction plan would most certainly have to be approved by the U.S. Senate, where it would be defeated.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Right. It also seems there was tension between the supply side and the demand side, where the treaty seems to talk a lot about our consumption, there seems to be a big counterforce by fossil fuel-producing nations.

    MATT DALTON: The fossil fuel producers, such as Saudi Arabia, were one of the big opponents of something called decarbonization, which is having a specific mention that the economy will be basically fossil fuel-free by the end of the century. Obviously, a country like Saudi Arabia, which is one of the world’s largest oil producers, is going to be weary about signings on to something like this.

    But Saudi Arabia did sign on to this agreement, which will certainly lower the world’s consumption of oil beyond what it would have been.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Matt Dalton of “The Wall Street Journal,” joining us from the Paris climate talks — thanks so much.

    MATT DALTON: Thank you.

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    Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) President Meinie Nicolai talks during a commemoration event, one month after the attack of MSF's charity-run hospital in Kunduz. A U.N. report released Saturday said at least 800 were killed or wounded in the conflict. Photos by Eric Vidal/Reuters

    Medecins Sans Frontieres President Meinie Nicolai talks during a commemoration event, one month after the attack of MSF’s charity-run hospital in Kunduz. Photo by Eric Vidal/Reuters.

    More than 800 civilians were killed or wounded during a September siege by the Taliban on the Afghan city of Kunduz, according to a United Nations report released on Saturday.

    The report indicated that at least 289 people were killed and 559 injured as the Taliban attacked the city in northern Afghanistan during a two-week period. Many were killed by small arms fire and explosives and during a counter-offensive of pro-government forces that eventually retook the city.

    Among those numbers were victims of a missile strike by international forces, led by United States war planes, on a hospital compound controlled by Doctors Without Borders, which killed at least 30 and injured dozens more.

    Doctors Without Borders on Saturday contested the U.N. casualty figure, stating that 42 had died. The U.N. report also called for an independent investigation into the airstrike.

    BALKH, AFGHANISTAN - OCTOBER 04: A victim of the U.S. Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, receives treatment at the Mazar-e-Sharif Regional Hospital in Balkh, Afghanistan on October 04, 2015. An Afghan health official said a U.S. air strike early Saturday morning in the northern city of Kunduz has killed and wounded dozens of people. (Photo by Sayed Khodaberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

    A victim of the U.S. Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, receives treatment at the Mazar-e-Sharif Regional Hospital in Balkh, Afghanistan on October 04, 2015. Photo by Sayed Khodaberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

    The U.N. investigation also found an array of other improprieties including arbitrary killings, abductions, widespread crime and the use of child fighters during the siege, which lasted from Sept. 28 to Oct. 13.

    “In most of these cases, UNAMA could not attribute the casualties to a specific party to the conflict,” the report said.

    More than 150,000 civilians were trapped in Kunduz during the attack, while 13,000 families fled, according to Reuters.

    A more extensive report will be released later this year.

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    Steam billows from the cooling towers of Vattenfall's Jaenschwalde brown coal power station behind wind turbines near Cottbus, eastern Germany December 2, 2009. Most world leaders plan to attend a climate summit in Copenhagen December 7-18, boosting chances that a new U.N. deal to fight climate change will be reached, host Denmark said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski (GERMANY - Tags: ENERGY ENVIRONMENT) - RTXRDD5

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    LISA DESAI: The island of Samso lies 9 miles off Denmark’s mainland.  It’s mostly a farming community and home to four-thousand residents who are part of a cutting edge experiment.

    SOREN HERMANSEN, SAMSO ENERGY ACADEMY: Good morning!

    LISA DESAI: Good morning!

    Soren Hermansen is the man most responsible for putting Samso on the map as the world’s first island powered 100 percent by renewable energy.  The transformation began in the late 1990s.

    SOREN HERMANSEN: The question would always be, ‘Does it cost more than what we have today?  Or how do finance it?  Or is it technically difficult? // Will it change my daily routines and stuff like that?

    The smart house is controlled by a computer…

    LISA DESAI: As Director of the Samso Energy Academy, Hermansen hosts visitors from around the world — explaining how Samso went from being entirely dependent on imported oil and coal for its electricity to running fully on wind and solar energy.

    SOREN HERMANSEN: So this is a roof integrated solar panel. It’s producing about 6,000 kilowatt hours per year, which is the same as we consume in total per year.

    LISA DESAI: The main source of power on the island is 21 wind turbines — 11 on shore and 10 offshore.

    SOREN HERMANSEN: So the electricity is all produced from wind turbines today, which was a great big effort, because some of the islanders they kind of had this image that, wow, maybe the island will flip over, because they’re so big.

    LISA DESAI: Overall, the island produces more energy than it consumes, and transmits the excess by cable to mainland Denmark. Samso uses the profit it makes from selling the excess — about three million dollars last year — to improve its energy infrastructure.

    SOREN HERMANSEN: Some of the critics said a wind turbine would never pay its own cost in it’s lifetime. That’s a myth.

    LISA DESAI: But most of the island’s home heating comes from a different renewable source: biomass, or plant-based energy.  And the fuel is locally-grown straw.

    SOREN HERMANSEN: We have four district heating plants and they supply about 75-percent of all heat.

    LISA DESAI: Hermansen took us me to one of those heating facilities.

    SOREN HERMANSEN: We burn straw in like a big pot and then cook water and send it around to people.

    LISA DESAI: Transforming Samso has cost 80-million dollars over past decade-and-a-half –- a mix of private investment and government subsidies. Hermansen says the biggest challenge wasn’t economic or technical; it was social.

    SOREN HERMANSEN: Farming community had to be convinced they should share their land with wind turbines, and they could be their own owner or cooperative owners with other people.

    And for house owners if you change your heating system to use district heating or biomass or solar panels, then it will be cheaper and better than the traditional oil boiler you had in the house before. I needed to show them the money in a way.

    LISA DESAI: Show the money to Samso residents like electrician Brian Kjaer, who decided to place a wind turbine in his own backyard.

    LISA DESAI: This is your own personal turbine.

    BRIAN KJAER: Yes it is.

    LISA DESAI: Not a lot of people can say they have one in their backyard. Kjaer figures the wind turbine saves his family two to three thousand dollars a year on his electric bill.

    BRIAN KJAER: Everybody is looking here and says, ‘You’re so way ahead in our challenge to cut back on fossil fuels.’ And for us it’s our everyday life, and we feel it’s natural.

    LISA DESAI: Down the road, farmer Jorgen Tranberg is also energy self-sufficient.

    JORGEN TRANBERG: I have full up all my good roofs with solar panels, and this house is full up with straw.

    LISA DESAI: He owns solar panels, part of an offshore wind turbine, and another turbine that’s right on his property.

    JORGEN TRANBERG: The solar panels they pay back in 8 years, and so why not try?

    LISA DESAI: Instead of just talk, you did action?

    JORGEN TRANBERG: Yes, and I earned money on it!

    LISA DESAI: He earns money by selling the power he doesn’t use back to the Samso utilities.

    So what are we about to do?

    SOREN HERMANSEN: Well, we intend to climb the turbine.

    LISA DESAI: We’ll warm up once we start climbing.

    SOREN HERMANSEN: That’s right.

    LISA DESAI: Should I go in?

    SOREN HERMANSEN: Yeah, go in.

    LISA DESAI: Before starting up I put on a safety suit and gloves. It’s a 150-foot climb to the top.

    SOREN HERMANSEN: So, one more step.  Can you reach up here?

    LISA DESAI: Yeah

    SOREN HERMANSEN: That’s better so you can lift yourself up.

    LISA DESAI: With a push of a button, Hermansen opens the door to the nacelle, which houses the gearbox and generator.

    SOREN HERMANSEN: You can step up here and you can have the view.  All right?

    LISA DESAI: Okay! Wow, this is really, really something.

    SOREN HERMANSEN: This is a three thousand horsepower engine.  So it’s a big engine.

    LISA DESAI: Samso has become a symbol of what Denmark wants for all of its five-and-a-half million people.

    It’s first country to build massive offshore wind parks and has an ambitious plan to run 100 percent on renewable energy by 2050: no oil, coal, or gas for electricity, heat, or even transportation.

    The plan was set in motion in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, 40 years ago — not because of global warming, but because of the 1973 Arab oil embargo.

    With 99 percent of its energy then coming from the Middle East, Denmark decided to pursue energy independence. Its thousands of miles of coastline are especially suitable for harnessing wind power, but one drawback is: the supply is not consistent.

    TORBEN GLAR NIELSEN: You’ve arrived on a day where there is no wind in Denmark.

    LISA DESAI: Torben Glar Nielsen is Executive Vice President of Energinet, a government-owned company responsible for Denmark’s energy infrastructure.  At the heart of the system is an interconnected electrical grid — a sort of energy exchange — that links Denmark to its neighborsSweden and Norway to the north and Germany to the south.

    TORBEN GLAR NIELSEN: We have interconnectors to other countries. When this is no wind, for example, we can import, and when there is a lot of wind, we can export.

    LISA DESAI: Energinet is in negotiations to extend the grid to include the Netherlands and the U-K, making the market for renewable energy more reliable and competitive.

    TORBEN GLAR NIELSEN: People they can buy electricity where it’s cheapest, so that’s very good for the consumers.

    LISA DESAI: But not so good for traditional power plants.  While on average Denmark produces 40 percent of its electricity from wind, there are times when it produces more than 100 percent, and that makes the price of electricity so cheap, coal and gas fired plants can’t compete.

    One day in September, power plants across the whole country shut down for 24 hours.

    TORBEN GLAR NIELSEN: What they are doing, a lot them, is that they very early they took the step, ‘Okay, we have to have to be part of this instead of against this.’

    So today, for example, the Danish company Dong – they are building offshore wind parks. So instead just saying, ‘We have to stick to the coal-fired power plants,’ they have gone into the new business.

    LISA DESAI: Beyond developing renewable energy, Denmark is pushing conservation too. To discourage gasoline consumption, Denmark’s tax on new cars is among the highest in the world an incredible 180 percent. 

    That encourages Danes to spend more time on two wheels.  In fact, here in Copenhagen, one-third of all commutes to work and school are done on bikes.

    While electric cars are not as popular here as in other countries, like Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, or the U-S, Denmark offers a big financial incentive to buy electric – waiving that 180 percent new car tax. Engineers Mads and Ann Lykke own two.

    MADS LYKKE: It’s better technology. It’s much more fun, it’s quiet it’s cleaner.

    ANN LYKKE: And you never lose a race for green lights.

    MADS LYKKE: No.

    LISA DESAI: Not only are their cars cleaner, their appliances are all rated A-plus.. Like a lot of their neighbors, the Lykkes have a washing machine, dishwasher, oven, refrigerator, and freezer with maximum energy efficiency. Their lamps use LED bulbs, which use less energy than typical incandescent or fluorescent bulbs.

    It’s so efficient that it doesn’t get warm.

    Because their house has solar panels too, the family is very conscious of its energy consumption tracking it all on their computer. That spike? When the coffee maker went on in the morning. While all of this cost them more up front, the Lykkes say it saves them money in the long run, and it’s the right thing to do.

    MADS LYKKE: It’s only natural — you want to leave a better country for your kids.  We also want to do that.

    LISA DESAI: Denmark’s vision of the future includes “smart homes” with computers that run appliances when energy demand is lowest and cheapest. And extending the smart power grid throughout Europe, from Denmark to Spain, to distribute power where it‘s really needed on any given day.

    Back on Samso Island, Soren Hermansen is looking ahead.

    SOREN HERMANSEN: We should go further, because we can. We should develop the technologies, because it’s necessary, and we have the possibilities, and we should do science and research also to be on the next level of development to help out the rest of the world in this transition to better the climate.

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    WASHINGTON, DC- APRIL 25: John Carlin is the new head of the National Security Division at the Dept. of Justice.
(Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: One official at the helm of the U.S. government’s fight against terrorism is the Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin.

    Carlin oversees 75 criminal cases that have been brought in the past 18 months against alleged supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS or ISL.

    The majority allegedly tried to travel abroad and a quarter are accused of plots on U.S. soil.

    In an interview earlier this week, Carlin laid out the threat that ISIS represents.

    JOHN CARLIN: We’re facing a new threat when it comes to terrorism. The Islamic State, what they did is they decided to crowdsource terrorism. And they exploited US technology companies: Twitter, Facebook, Google, others that do so much good, but they exploited them for their terrorist aims.

    What they did is they bombarded thousands and thousands of propaganda messages all over the world. Then, when they had someone on the hook through social media, what they would do is often take them into a private, encrypted direct messaging forum, and you’d have a terrorist overseas talking to a kid here in the United States, and further walk them down that path of radical, radicalization.

    And while their success rate is very small, all it takes is a relatively small number to pose a big problem.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You’re talking about fighting an idea. You’re talking about fighting an idea with all the modern tools and technologies that exist today to spread ideas.

    How do you stop someone from proselytizing across Twitter?

    JOHN CARLIN: We very much need the same folks who had the innovative idea to create these products, to focus on the solution. They don’t want their businesses used by terrorism.

    So we need to work in partnership with them to keep terrorists overseas from targeting our kids. We’ve brought over 75 criminal cases against terrorists in the U.S. system.

    In the beginning, they used to mostly be foreign terrorist fighters, those who want to go join this group overseas. We need to be concerned, once those guys get that training overseas, that they don’t come back and use it to commit terrorist attacks inside the United States or in western Europe.

    ISIL started saying, ‘No passport required, no travel required, we call on you to commit attacks, terrorist attacks where you live. Kill innocents around where you live.’ And we’ve seen people answer that call in Australia, in Canada, in France, in Belgium. 

    Here in America, we’re not seeing any particular ethnic group or geographic group answer the call. Instead, the trend is almost every case involved social media. Over half these cases involve individuals 25 or younger, and most troubling, a-third involve kids that are 21 or under.

    We’ve never seen that problem here before when it comes to terrorist threats.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So how do you stop that? It used to be that you could say, ‘Listen, let’s have the religious leader, the local pastor, the local imam intervene on our behalf,’ right?

    When you’re talking about someone who’s under 25, they might be listening to Twitter and Instagram a lot more than their parents.

    JOHN CARLIN: That’s a very good point, and a concerning one. These corporations that provide these services, and their advertisers, are really good at figuring out who’s listening to what, and how to change minds.

    We need their help to make sure that the terrorists aren’t out there using their services to pinpoint individuals. The same way we’ve done campaigns against sexual predators.

    Because I think a lot of parents out there, you know, they don’t necessarily know what their kid is up to when they’re down in the basement online, or when they’re walking around using their phones on social media.

    And it used to be the assessment of the intelligence community that before someone would become a terrorist, they would need to meet someone in the real world, face-to-face, who would walk them down that path.

    But that assessment’s changed, especially with this generation that’s used to trusting people online. And we need to adjust accordingly.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: How do you see encryption as a problem? Especially with telecom companies?

    JOHN CARLIN: You have the terrorist overseas. Once they’re in direct contact, they use American-made technology that’s pushed out for free and has many good purposes, to directly communicate. And what I’ll find, from where we sit, is we’ll get a warrant.

    We go to serve it on the company, and the company says, ‘yes, this is legal process, but we are technically unable to effectuate the court process. We can’t tell you what they’re saying.

    We can’t tell you what they’re writing to each other. That’s a major problem for law enforcement intelligence, because that’s been a critical, the ability to do those intercepts has been a critical tool.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So is there a concern that, if you ask a company to say, decrypt all conversations, you’re also threatening my right to have private speech and my ability to whisper a secret to you.

    JOHN CARLIN: So I think what we need to do is have a balance between protecting our national security, but what we are protecting is our way of life, which includes our civil liberties and our privacy.

    And we can and have done both. So what they’re looking for now in partnership is saying, look, what we’re looking for is specific targeted ability to do an intercept when we have a lawful court order. And we’re asking for a technical means to be able to effectuate the court order.

    Folks in government don’t need to have that solution, we just need the company to be able to do it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Carlin also oversees federal prosecutions for hacking, as hackers overseas increasingly attack U.S. companies and government agencies.

    One big case involves a 20-year-old from Kosovo, living in Malaysia, who allegedly stole personal data of U.S. military members and gave it to ISIS, which posted the names online and encouraged followers to attack them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A guy from Kosovo, sitting in Malaysia, is able to hack and find the addresses of 1,400 military service members. How do you stop that?

    JOHN CARLIN: This wasn’t a small-scale crook. It was an extremist from Kosovo who’d moved to Malaysia, was hacking into their system for the purpose of providing it to a British-born terrorist, Junaid Hussain, who was living in Raqqa, Syria, and associated with a designated terrorist group, the Islamic State.

    He was culling through that information to look for military and government addresses, and then was again using US technology, Twitter and other services, to broadcast that out and say, ‘Here’s the identity of these individuals, here’s where they live, kill them.’

    We were able to arrest this individual, and he’s pending extradition from Malaysia. And the person to whom he was giving the information, according to a public statement from CENTCOM, was killed in a military strike.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: It’s almost like a drumbeat that in the news, I hear, Target gets hacked, or a bank gets hacked, or V-Tech, a company that makes kids’ toys, gets hacked, right?

    Millions of pieces of information on us as consumers and our behaviors is out there in the open market. Sort of, the dark Web, and sometimes used by these actors in ISIL or ISIS. How do we protect ourselves?

    JOHN CARLIN: About 98 percent of what we value is now in digital space and connected to the Internet. And we didn’t invest in protecting that information.

    So, now we need to move quickly to catch up and make sure what’s a strategic advantage for the United States – the fact that we digitalized and moved to the Internet faster than any country in the world – doesn’t become a strategic disadvantage exploited by nation-states.

    If you have an Internet-connected system, there’s no wall currently that you can build that’s high enough or deep enough to keep a dedicated nation-state or even a sophisticated criminal group out of your system.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Another important hacking case last year saw the Justice Department indict for economic espionage five Chinese nationals who were working for the Chinese army.

    JOHN CARLIN: This is a case where Chinese members of the People’s Liberation Army deliberately targeted the United States economy. They targeted sectors ranging from nuclear to steel to solar.

    And what they stole was not traditional national security information, what they stole was the lead pipe designs that they were otherwise trying to lease, or pricing information that they could use to dump products here in the U.S. at a lower price.

    So what they’re stealing was for business advantage. And so we treated it like theft, not like an intelligence problem. So we brought that indictment, was the first of its kind.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But those five guys from the PLA, they’re not in a federal prison?

    JOHN CARLIN: We’ll see, and again these are allegations, what happens in the future. But it clearly, that had an impact in part, because it showed we could figure out who did it.

    And then the executive order that’s in place now as of April of this year, that allows for the sanctioning of actors or companies, people or companies for cyber-related activity. That’s on the books.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: It didn’t take long for the FBI to figure out North Korean hackers were behind the hack of Sony Pictures, stealing private communications and destroying the company’s servers.

    JOHN CARLIN:We’re now doing this deterrence, deterrence approach. All the more important when you see a destructive attack like Sony.

    They went to law enforcement immediately after the hack. That allowed us to figure out in 27 days that it was North Koreans. Make the decision as the National Security Council and at the president’s level to publicly say that it was the North Koreans.

    To announce sanctions, and to have the president and others say there’ll be some things you see, and some things you don’t see, but there will be consequences.

    That was important not just to send a message to North Korea but to all the other countries in the world who are figuring out what are the red lines, what can I get away with in this space without suffering a consequence.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: John Carlin, thanks so much for joining us.

    JOHN CARLIN: Thank you.

    The post Justice Department official: ISIS ‘crowdsourced’ terrorism by exploiting social media appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the climate agreement at the White House in Washington, December 12, 2015. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters.

    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the climate agreement at the White House in Washington, December 12, 2015. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters.

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the newly passed international climate change agreement as a major achievement that could help turn the tide on global warming, but got a quick reminder that Republicans will fight it all the way.

    Obama said the climate agreement made Saturday night by almost 200 nations “can be a turning point for the world” and credited his administration for playing a key role. He and Kerry predicted it would prompt widespread spending on clean energy and help stem carbon pollution blamed for global warming.

    “We’ve shown that the world has both the will and the ability to take on this challenge,” Obama said from the White House. He said the climate agreement “offers the best chance we have to save the one planet we have.”

    “In short, this agreement will mean less of the carbon pollution that threatens our planet and more of the jobs and economic growth driven by low-carbon investments,” Obama said.

    Obama said the world leaders meeting in Paris “met the moment” and that people can be more confident “the planet will be in better shape for the next generation.” Obama said the agreement is not perfect, but sets a framework that will contain periodic reviews and assessments to ensure that countries meet their commitments to curb carbon emissions.

    The immediate reaction of leading Republican critics was a stark reminder of the conflict that lies ahead.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Obama is “making promises he can’t keep” and should remember that the agreement “is subject to being shredded in 13 months.” McConnell noted that the presidential election is next year and the agreement could be reversed if the GOP wins the White House.

    And Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said that Americans can expect the administration to cite the agreement as an excuse for establishing emission targets for every sector of the U.S. economy.

    Kerry said from Paris: “I have news for Senator Inhofe. The United States of America has already reduced its emissions more than any other country in the world.”

    “This has to happen,” he said of the agreement. “I believe this will continue because I just personally cannot believe that any person who doesn’t understand the science and isn’t prepared to do for the next generation what we did here today and follow through on it cannot and will not be elected president of the United States.”

    In an interview taped for CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Kerry called the climate pact “a breakaway agreement” that will change how countries make decisions and “spur massive investment.”

    He acknowledged that a Republican president could undo the agreement, but said there is already plenty of evidence that climate change is having a damaging and expensive impact with more intense storms, wildfires and melting glaciers.

    Several Democratic lawmakers applauded Obama’s efforts.

    House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi hailed it as a “monumental moment” and praised Obama for his leadership on the issue.

    Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic minority leader, said climate change poses one of the greatest threats the world has ever known, and that no country acting alone can stem the tide.

    “The time to act is now,” the Nevada lawmaker said.

    Obama took credit for the successful negotiations. “Today, the American people can be proud – because this historic agreement is a tribute to American leadership. Over the past seven years, we’ve transformed the United States into the global leader in fighting climate change.”

    The post Obama optimism on climate pact tempered by GOP opposition appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Barack Obama is flanked by military leaders as he delivers remarks after a briefing on U.S. efforts against the Islamic State at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, July 6, 2015. Obama is planning a series of events this week aimed at allaying concerns about his strategy for fighting the militant group and its sympathizers. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    President Barack Obama is flanked by military leaders as he delivers remarks after a briefing on U.S. efforts against the Islamic State at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, July 6, 2015. Obama is planning a series of events this week aimed at allaying concerns about his strategy for fighting the militant group and its sympathizers. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Fears of terrorism are hanging over America’s holiday season, so President Barack Obama is planning a series of events this week aimed at trying to allay concerns about his strategy for stopping the Islamic State group abroad and its sympathizers at home.

    Obama’s visits to the Pentagon and the National Counterterrorism Center are part of a push to further explain his terrorism-fighting strategy, White House officials said, after a prime-time Oval Office address last Sunday that critics said failed to do much to reassure the public. Another goal is to draw a contrast with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his inflammatory remarks about Muslims. The Obama administration has warned Trump’s rhetoric emboldens extremists looking to pull the U.S. into a war with Islam.

    “Terrorists like ISIL are trying to divide us along lines of religion and background,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address, using an acronym for the extremist group. “That’s how they stoke fear. That’s how they recruit.”

    In the coming week, he said, “we’ll move forward on all fronts.”

    The public relations campaign, one week before Christmas, comes as the public is jittery about the specter of terrorism after the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California this month and the Paris attacks a few weeks before. Seven in 10 Americans rated the risk of a terrorist attack in the U.S. as at least somewhat high, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. That was a sharp increase from the 5 in 10 who said that in January.

    U.S. officials have insisted there are no specific, credible threats to the United States. But the apparent lack of warning before San Bernardino has fueled concerns about whether the U.S. has a handle on potential attacks, especially during high-profile times such as the end-of-year holidays.

    Obama, who is scheduled to leave Friday for his annual family vacation in Hawaii, had to interrupt that trip in 2009 when a would-be attacker tried to blow up a plane on Christmas Day.

    Obama’s schedule includes a Monday stop at the Pentagon for a rare meeting outside the White House by his National Security Council, followed by a public update from the president about the fight against IS. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama did not intend to announce any major changes in approach.

    “If there’s an opportunity for us to intensify efforts behind one aspect of our strategy, then that is something that he wants his team to be prepared to do,” Earnest said.

    On Thursday, at the National Counterterrorism Center, which analyzes intelligence at its facility in suburban Virginia, Obama plans to address reporters after a briefing by intelligence and security agencies on threat assessments. Obama receives a similar briefing each year before the holidays.

    Concerns about extremism emanating from the Middle East have taken center stage in the presidential race. Obama has tried to use his bully pulpit as a counterpoint to GOP front-runner Trump and his widely condemned proposal to bar Muslims from entering the U.S., and to push back on other politicians insisting on halting resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S.

    The White House scheduled a conference call Monday with religious leaders about ways to fight discrimination and promote religious tolerance.

    Aiming to put a human face on the issue, Obama is to speak Tuesday at the National Archives Museum, where 31 immigrants from Iraq, Ethiopia, Uganda and 23 other nations will be sworn in as U.S. citizens. Obama planned to use that occasion to reframe the national conversation about immigrants around the country’s founding values of tolerance and freedom.

    Despite Obama’s reassurances, Republicans say Obama has failed to grasp the severity of the risk.

    Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, said the threat from IS and other terrorist groups presents “a clear and present danger to the United States.”

    “We can’t contain this threat. We have to defeat it,” Hurd said in the weekly GOP address. “To defeat ISIS, we have to be in this for the long haul.”

    The post Obama plans weeklong series of events to explain ISIS strategy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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