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- 01/11/16--15:15: _Poetry helps youth ...
- 01/11/16--15:16: _George Washington U...
- 01/11/16--15:20: _How student athlete...
- 01/11/16--15:25: _David Bowie made an...
- 01/11/16--15:25: _The ethics of Sean ...
- 01/11/16--15:30: _What a teachers’ ch...
- 01/11/16--15:35: _Remembering David B...
- 01/11/16--15:37: _House moves on Nort...
- 01/11/16--15:40: _Can setting biparti...
- 01/11/16--15:45: _As Sanders closes i...
- 01/11/16--15:50: _News Wrap: Aid arri...
- 01/12/16--18:09: _In GOP response to ...
- 01/12/16--18:25: _FULL SPEECH: Presid...
- 01/12/16--18:34: _Obama warns against...
- 01/12/16--18:48: _Obama: Anyone claim...
- 01/12/16--18:55: _Defeat the terroris...
- 01/12/16--19:15: _Obama calls out pol...
- 01/12/16--19:29: _FULL SPEECH: Gov. N...
- 01/12/16--19:32: _Obama: ‘We have to ...
- 01/12/16--19:49: _Obama: ‘Let’s make ...
- 01/11/16--15:15: Poetry helps youth at a juvenile detention center find peace
- 01/11/16--15:16: George Washington University revokes Bill Cosby’s honorary degree
- 01/11/16--15:20: How student athletes get around career-ending head injuries
- 01/11/16--15:25: David Bowie made androgyny cool, and it was about time
- 01/11/16--15:25: The ethics of Sean Penn’s ‘El Chapo’ conversation
- 01/11/16--15:35: Remembering David Bowie, constantly changing icon who inspired
- 01/11/16--15:37: House moves on North Korea sanctions bill after bomb test
- 01/11/16--15:40: Can setting bipartisan goals disrupt political dysfunction?
- 01/11/16--15:45: As Sanders closes in on Clinton in Iowa, tougher attacks
- 01/11/16--15:50: News Wrap: Aid arrives in starved Syrian town
- 01/12/16--18:09: In GOP response to Obama, SC governor defends immigrants
- 01/12/16--18:25: FULL SPEECH: President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address
- 01/12/16--18:34: Obama warns against giving into election year cynicism
- 01/12/16--18:55: Defeat the terrorists and skip the drama, Obama says
- 01/12/16--19:15: Obama calls out politicians for race and religion-targeted rhetoric
- 01/12/16--19:32: Obama: ‘We have to make college affordable for every American’
- 01/12/16--19:49: Obama: ‘Let’s make America the country that cures cancer’
JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, a look at a writing program inside one of the nation’s largest juvenile detention facilities.
Jeffrey Brown has that story.
REGINALD DWAYNE BETTS, Poet: You know the truth of the quarrels and how history lets the blame go blameless for the blood that flows black in the streets.
JEFFREY BROWN: In a classroom inside the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago, incarcerated young people recently gathered to hear poet Reginald Dwayne Betts read his work and take their questions.
REGINALD DWAYNE BETTS: That’s part of what I meant by history, that it’s this bigger thing that we have to understand to even understand our own lives.
JEFFREY BROWN: When you come to a place like this, what are you hoping to get out of it?
REGINALD DWAYNE BETTS: I think, honestly, I’m trying to get them to pay attention to their own stories. So I will read a poem to them, I will talk to them, and if I get them to think about their own stories, they get to write their stories down and kind of think in a different way about how their stories shape the life that they have. And if you want a different life, you find a way to tell different stories.
JEFFREY BROWN: Betts should know. As a teenager, he was arrested for carjacking, tried as an adult, and spent eight-and-a-half years in prison.
REGINALD DWAYNE BETTS: Yes, because it’s really easy for me to walk in here and say that, you know, when I was 16 years old, I got locked up, and pretend like that’s the beginning of the narrative or that’s the most important part of the narrative, when, in fact, I think that it’s not the most important part of the narrative.
And I don’t want to define myself that way, because, in part, I don’t want you to define yourselves that way.
JEFFREY BROWN: While still in prison, Betts read intensively, began writing poetry and completed high school. And since getting out in 2005, he’s graduated from college, earned his master’s, written a memoir and two books of poetry, and at age 35 is now a third-year student at Yale Law School.
REGINALD DWAYNE BETTS: What I want to do today is to sort of let them know that I believe what doesn’t look and what doesn’t seem to be possible right now, but I believe is possible for them, because it is implausible, but, hey, implausible happens all the time.
JEFFREY BROWN: This is one of the nation’s largest juvenile detention centers, on the day we visited housing over 300 young people aged 10 to 16 who are awaiting trial. As a condition to film this story, we were required to conceal their identities.
It’s also home to a fully functioning public school, so students don’t fall behind on classwork while here.
REGINALD DWAYNE BETTS: I want you to talk in your voice.
JEFFREY BROWN: Betts visited through a program called Free Write Jail Arts and Literacy, which for 15 years has provided tutoring and creative writing instruction.
A native of Trinidad, Roger Bonair-Agard is a poet and teacher who encourages his students to find their voices using the familiar language and places around them.
ROGER BONAIR-AGARD, The Poetry Foundation: As you might imagine, the young people here have had who they are, and how they talk, and where they live devalued for a very long time.
And so the idea that those voices and those places should be brought to something that could eventually be this is really important.
STUDENT: Why you looking at me like that? Why you looking at me? Because I’m willing to make a change based on my mistakes?
JEFFREY BROWN: A student we spoke with read one of her new poems.
STUDENT: So I ask, why you looking at me like that? Speak. Tell me you understand I’m more than what you see. So, take that chance and get to know me.
That’s all I have.
JEFFREY BROWN: Nice.
Why you looking at me like that, huh?
JEFFREY BROWN: Do you feel like that’s going on a lot?
STUDENT: Yes, not just me and, like, others. I found myself other people — that’s a common thing people do. Me personally, as a youth, an African-American, I get judged. I’m already — I’m detained right now, so I get will judged back because of that.
But, really, if people sit down and get to know me, like, such as yourself, you will know and learn that I’m a good person, I’m a good kid, and I’m not what they think I am. I’m much better than what they think I am.
RYAN KEESLING, Director, Free Write Jail Arts and Literacy: Our work is grounded in narrative.
JEFFREY BROWN: Ryan Keesling is the director of Free Write.
RYAN KEESLING: Those issues are their personal issues that are serious, and they need to be processed in some way. Like, we’re not coming and saying, oh, you did this, or you did that, you had this happen to you, you had this happen to you, therefore, you are this kind of person.
And we just allow those issues to sort of come to the surface, and assemble pieces of art that represent their processing of those experiences.
STUDENT: So, let me grab the broken pieces, and use my thoughts as glue, put it all back together, so I can at least have a clue. Why blame myself, when I can look back at my roots, and see myself as a young boy, watching and picking up what my father used to do?
One day he said, son, come here. Let me show you how this works. He handed me a handful of crack and put a .22 on my waistline, which was hidden behind my shirt. He said, there’s money to be made, and you will find out what it’s worth, setting me up to die early, which say he ain’t care about my birth.
JEFFREY BROWN: In a place like this, does writing get you respect? It is something you — that everybody knows you do, or…
STUDENT: It’s definitely something everybody know I do.
To me, like, they look at it as like it’s a positive thing. And I love — I love getting praise for positive things, because I didn’t do a lot of positive stuff when I was out. So doing something positive and getting a different reaction, it’s like, OK, I ain’t never felt this before.
So, I mean, why not keep going with this, you know?
JEFFREY BROWN: Things here didn’t always seem so positive. In 1999, the ACLU sued Cook County, accusing the center of overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and abuse.
In 2007, the federal government took over, and through a transitional administration, the population dropped from more than 800 residents to today’s 300.
Last year, control was handed over to Cook County’s office of the chief judge, Timothy Evans, who wants to maintain that momentum.
TIMOTHY EVANS, Cook County Chief Judge: I think that we are changing, and we have to find a way to keep these people who’ve gone through the system from returning to the system.
They have to be trained how to get a job and keep a job. They have to develop skills. They can’t just be let out with $40 in their pocket and expect, oh, they’re going to be fine.
LEONARD DIXON, Superintendent, Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center: Detention is like the emergency room of the juvenile justice system.
JEFFREY BROWN: In charge of the day-to-day is superintendent Leonard Dixon, who has run juvenile institutions across the country, most recently in Detroit, and is known as a reformer.
LEONARD DIXON: I believe in jails. I don’t have a problem with that. My issue is, what do you do with people when you get them in there, and what kind of services are you providing, so that you can get them back out in society, so they can do well?
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. This facility is predominantly African-American.
LEONARD DIXON: Yes, it’s…
JEFFREY BROWN: Far higher percentage than the county.
LEONARD DIXON: There’s no question about it; 96 percent of the kids in here are kids of color. And that’s a question that we need to be asking, why is it that way?
Is it a community? Is it the courts? It’s — all of it comes together. It’s the police department. I mean, it’s everything. Everybody has to come together to figure out why.
JEFFREY BROWN: Dixon wants to see more cases dealt with outside these walls through halfway houses, shelters, churches, and community programs.
The Illinois state legislature took one step in that direction last year, passing a bill that aims to reduce the number of minors automatically tried as adults, except for the most violent crimes. It’s one drop in a wave of penal reform now being discussed across the country that Reginald Dwayne Betts and others have been advocating.
REGINALD DWAYNE BETTS: I do think that a lot of organizations around the country, and they’re pushing to limit confinement to when it’s — only when it’s necessary. And they’re pushing to sort of find different ways within a community to treat young folks that have gotten in trouble. I think what we’re still working on now is to have better outcomes.
While behind us, cell doors keep clanking closed, and Malik’s casket door clanks closed, and the bodies that roll off the block and into the prisons and into the ground keep rolling, and no one will admit that this is the way America strangles itself.
JEFFREY BROWN: From Chicago, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the “PBS NewsHour.”
JUDY WOODRUFF: Be sure to tune in tomorrow night, when Jeff talks with Reginald Dwayne Betts about his upbringing, his time in prison, and how he found poetry.
On our Web site now, you can watch Betts read one of his new works titled “For the City That Nearly Broke Me.” That’s PBS.org/NewsHour.
The post Poetry helps youth at a juvenile detention center find peace appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
George Washington University announced Monday it was rescinding an honorary doctoral degree that was awarded to Bill Cosby in 1997, amid ongoing allegations of sexual assault against the comedian.
It hasn’t been the university’s practice to revoke an honorary degree following new information about a recipient, but “whatever may ultimately be determined about the guilt or innocence of Mr. Cosby in a court of law, the controversy itself has become a cause of renewed distress for our students and alumni who are survivors of sexual assault,” President Steven Knapp said in a statement on the school’s website.
“This action by itself will not end the scourge of sexual assault on this or any other campus,” he added, urging the community to help the White House’s “It’s on Us” awareness initiative to prevent sexual assault on college campuses.
The university, located in the nation’s capital, previously said in October 2015 that “[i]t has never been the university’s practice to rescind an honorary degree.” Student groups met with Knapp afterward to formally condemn the university’s decision.
Cosby has received nearly 60 honorary degrees from universities over the course of his career. But once dozens of women publicly accused the 78-year-old comedian of raping or sexually assaulting them in incidents that date as far back as the late 1960s. Cosby has repeatedly denied the claims.
In December, Pennsylvania authorities charged Cosby with aggravated indecent assault against a woman in 2004.
The post George Washington University revokes Bill Cosby’s honorary degree appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: concussions in football and the college game.
Fans are increasingly aware of concussions at the pro level. The most recent example was on Saturday, when Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers suffered one after a brutal hit by Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Burfict could be facing suspension.
Tonight, tens of millions of viewers will watch Clemson and Alabama face off in college football’s championship game. It’s a big night for the sport. But, like pro football, one question lingering throughout the season is how teams are handling concussions.
Hari Sreenivasan has one look at that in a conversation he recorded earlier.
Just as the NFL has taken new steps to protect players, some schools and teams and the NCAA have taken new precautions as well. But when it comes to college football, schools have more latitude on some decisions and there are questions about where a team may take too big a risk.
STAT, an online news site that focuses on health, medical and science, has a report exploring whether some players with too many concussions are still allowed to play.
It tells it through the story of a sophomore quarterback, A.J. Long, who played for Syracuse. After he suffered his third concussion, the team’s head doctor summoned him. He was told him he could no longer play at Syracuse, but A.J. wanted to keep playing somehow.
Here’s an excerpt from a video by STAT featuring A.J. and his father.
A.J. LONG, Former Syracuse Football Player: He was like, hey, from my professional opinion, I think that it would be best if you didn’t play football anymore, so, therefore, I’m going to disqualify you from continuing to play contact sports at Syracuse University.
When you hear those words, and it’s the final verdict, it hurts and it shocks you.
ACE LONG, Father of A.J. Long: When the doctor called, he was really vague. Well, when you’re telling me that you’re ending my son’s career, you’re worried about his welfare, what is this going to entail for the rest of his life?
A.J. LONG: After my family doing their research and telling me that we’re going to go to a specialist and we’re going to have them look at it to tell us what they think, because this is what they do for living, what I’m hoping happens is that they look at my brain and they tell me my brain is fine and it’s completely safe for me to continue to play the game that I love, in football.
ACE LONG: The brain is something that you can’t play with, but, you know, it’s hard to put a value on the competitive spirit.
HARI SREENIVASAN: David Armstrong is a reporter for STAT and joins me now from Boston.
David, as you point out, and the pictures do in the piece, this is a kid that has Syracuse tattooed on his arm. He dreams of playing there. He wants it. You can tell even from this video that he wants to play ball.
But the idea that he’s essentially now a free agent and can be signed again by another college, even after he has this history of concussions.
DAVID ARMSTRONG, STAT: Yes. That’s what was really surprising to us, was that a doctor at one university thought that his condition was so perilous, and the danger so extreme, that he could never play contact sports again at that university is then able to go out and be recruited by other schools, and there is no NCAA regulation or restriction on that.
So he is basically a free agent now, with several schools wooing him.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And how about the tracking on this? Is there any system inside the NCAA? You talked to a lot of different colleges and sought information from so many different schools. How do they know if they’re inheriting an injured player?
DAVID ARMSTRONG: Well, there is no real way to know for sure.
The player might let them know or they might get some information from someone they know at another school, but the NCAA doesn’t keep a list or a database of players who are medically disqualified. And what we found was that we approached the 65 schools that are at the upper echelon of college football, and we asked all of them for basic information about how many athletes are being qualified for concussions.
And only nine even responded to us. And two gave us the information we were looking for. So it’s clearly a subject they’re not comfortable speaking about. And at the moment, there is no real good solution that is even being discussed about how to make sure athletes are being protected for the long term.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, you point out that there isn’t any single standard on exactly how many concussions is too many.
DAVID ARMSTRONG: That’s true.
We talked to — one of the more interesting people, I think, in the story is the University of Arizona head trainer. And he told us that he has disqualified a football player for a single concussion because it was so severe, but that, in another case, he had a player with 10 concussions throughout his college career and his high school career that he allowed to continue playing because he didn’t think that the concussions were so severe as to disable him and to incapacitate him and disqualify him from the team.
HARI SREENIVASAN: It almost seems like the player or the parents or the family, their dreams are their own worst enemy. Here’s a student who knows what the potential outcomes are, at least with all the news that we have been seeing about what happens to NFL players with CTE later in their career, some of them who have suffered concussions on the gridiron.
DAVID ARMSTRONG: Well, that’s right.
I mean, part of the problem here is the science and research into this issue is still in its infancy, and there is no real good guidelines on, for instance, how many concussions are too many. So, you have A.J. Long and his family, who have two diametrically opposed opinions, one from a doctor at Syracuse who says, this is too dangerous, you are not playing anymore, and then another one from a concussion center in Philadelphia, a very reputable one, that says, as of today, you are cleared to play full-contact football.
So, you can imagine the angst over a decision like that, when you have black and white decisions in front of you and evaluations.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And those decisions will impact the rest of your, not just playing career, but, if you have a pro career, perhaps the rest of your financial life as well.
DAVID ARMSTRONG: Right, because we know that, in many cases, there are long-term effects from these repeated blows to the head.
So that’s a calculation that the family and the player have to make. But they’re doing so with information that’s very confusing to them and in a system where one school can tell you, you can’t play because it’s too dangerous, and another school says, come and play for us.
So, that’s why we want to chronicle this story and A.J.’s decision, because a lot of athletes are finding themselves in this position.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What was the reason that the schools gave you when they didn’t give you the information you were looking for?
DAVID ARMSTRONG: They mostly cited privacy concerns, even though we didn’t ask for names or identifying information of that nature.
They said that we would be to, in some cases, figure out who the injured athlete is, and, therefore, that’s a violation of federal law protecting student privacy and also health records.
In a lot of cases, we don’t agree with that. And this is an area that we are going to continue to follow up on.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, is there any movement by the schools in any kind of a unified fashion from the NCAA to figure this out?
DAVID ARMSTRONG: None at all that we can find.
It’s one of those things where the NCAA has just sort of said, you know, the schools that are members of our organization, you’re on your own. You figure it out. You create your own standard.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, David Armstrong from STAT, thanks so much for joining us.
DAVID ARMSTRONG: Thanks for having me.
The post How student athletes get around career-ending head injuries appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Androgyny doesn’t get a lot of style icons.
That’s what I thought when I first saw the news that David Bowie had died. Bowie meant so much to so many, but for a number of people who have fought to subvert gender binaries and resist labels in a world that demands them, he made self-acceptance fashionable.
When Bowie arrived on the music and theater scene in the 1960s, androgyny was just beginning to achieve recognition as a mode of fashion. Unisex clothing came to popularity in the 1960s, reacting to and re-calibrating the strict gender roles that had defined fashion in the 1950s.
For a brief time, mostly in 1968, unisex was everywhere, and with it came a fair amount of confusion in the media. “It’s not just the way we look; the whole male-female relationship is confused,” columnist Everett Mattlin wrote for the Chicago Tribune in 1968. “In novels, plays, movies, TV — all, presumably, reflecting life itself — men are weak, fumbling, impotent, while women are strong, decisive, domineering … All is topsy-turvy in a neuter world.” He concluded, though, that moving away from traditional gender roles could eventually create a “healthier climate.”
Meanwhile, a young David Bowie was questioning the gender norms that had previously dominated style. In a 1964 television interview, he appeared as a spokesperson for the group “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men,” defending his choice to style his hair long.
As unisex style faded, androgynous style began to take its place, refining and elaborating on the concepts that unisex style had sought to introduce. Between Twiggy’s pixie cut and Yves St. Laurent’s 1960s menswear-inspired jackets for women, androgyny was becoming a fashion force in its own right.Early in his career, Bowie was experimenting with theatrical makeup, dramatic hair and groundbreaking styles. His earliest theatrical appearance was as a mime in “Pierrot in Turquoise” in 1967 at the Oxford New Theater. Bowie’s style was at once theatrical, androgynous and hyper-sexual, a revolutionary combination in a climate where gender was still understood as a strict binary.
Bowie exuded sexuality, both when he subverted gender signifiers — as in the cover of “The Man Who Sold the World,” in which he donned long hair and a dress designed by British fashion designer Mr. Fish — and when he eschewed them entirely in looks like “Tokyo Pop,” designed by Kansai Yamamoto for the Aladdin Sane tour (1973), in which he and fashion merged to become a genderless sculpture.
“I want to tart rock up,” he told John Mendelsohn of Rolling Stone. “I don’t want to climb out of my fantasies in order to go up on stage — I want to take them on stage with me.”
In 1972, Ziggy Stardust, Bowie’s alien androgynous alter ego, came onto the scene with a red bob, a tight striped body-suit and a constant swagger, becoming a queer icon. That same year, Bowie told journalist Michael Watts that he was gay, only five years after being gay had been decriminalized in Britain, and while articles with headlines like “Is Gay A ‘Security Risk’?” were appearing in The New York Times.
(With that, I should say that Bowie never laid out any definitive labels for his gender or sexuality. He walked back his statement to Watts by telling Playboy he was bisexual in 1974, then later in Rolling Stone he declared he had been heterosexual all along. But he never owed us an explanation. He gave us what he wanted to give: a style, a way of living.)
His style did not find an immediate audience, entering pop culture at a time when androgyny was still transgressive to many people, which Carolyn G. Heilbrun pointed out in a 1973 article for The New York Times. “The idea of androgyny apparently takes a little getting used to. First responses tend either toward bewilderment or hostility,” she wrote.
“Ziggy Stardust” the album was garnering praise, though whether that was because or in spite of Bowie’s style was up for debate. Richard Cromelin at Rolling Stone positively reviewed the album, while warning that he would normally be put off by Bowie’s style. “We should all say a brief prayer that his fortunes are not made to rise and fall with the fate of ‘drag-rock’ syndrome,” he wrote. That “syndrome,” he wrote, had affected everyone from Hollywood down to the “grotesqueries” of Queen, who he called a “trio of feathered, sequined Barbie dolls.”
Bowie’s style as Stardust was the height of camp androgyny, one that he had created with inspiration from the costumes in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film “A Clockwork Orange.” Bowie took Kubrick’s vision of a nightmare future world and imbued it with confident sexuality, picking out “bright, quilted kind of materials, and so that took the edge off the violent look of those suits,” he said in “Bowie Style” by Steve Pafford. “It all fitted in perfectly with what I was trying to do, create this fake world, or this world that hadn’t happened yet.”
In 1973, the cover of “Aladdin Sane” showed Bowie’s iconic lightning-bolt face makeup just as androgynous fashion began to reach more people than ever, appearing in Diane Keaton’s style for “Annie Hall” (1977) and “Manhattan” (1979). Meanwhile, the rise of MTV meant that Bowie had a wider audience than ever, including for “Ashes to Ashes” (1980), the iconic video that saw Bowie dressed as Pierrot in a silver-blue costume that appeared to drip with fabric icicles.
As he grew in popularity, Bowie’s looks began to influence the catwalk of high fashion. Alexander McQueen, another designer whose work blurred gender lines, designed Bowie’s 1996-97 tour. Jean-Paul Gaultier and Tommy Hilfiger would also take style cues from Bowie.
In the past 10 years, designers from Miu Miu to Givenchy have released designs drawn directly from Bowie’s album covers and videos. His 1973 bodysuit was inspiration for Jean-Paul Gaultier’s Spring 2013 show.
Throughout his career, Bowie never stopped showing us that androgynous was cool, that gender lines were unimportant in the face of a strong personal style. Designer Raf Simons told Vogue last year that Bowie’s constant reinvention was an inspiration to him. “He’s a chameleon, able to reinvent himself,” Simons enthused. “But he’s also the materialization of something else. More than a man — an idea.”
The post David Bowie made androgyny cool, and it was about time appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The United States and Mexico are now trying to determine how to have the recently-captured drug kingpin El Chapo extradited from Mexico to the U.S.
This weekend, Rolling Stone magazine published a story about El Chapo that could have come straight out of a Hollywood screenplay. It was written and reported by actor Sean Penn, who secretly visited the drug kingpin in Mexico before he’d been captured. But some are questioning the ethics of “Rolling Stone”‘s methods.
Our William Brangham has more.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: “Rolling Stone”‘s article was the very first time the public has heard from Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman directly. The meeting between the drug lord and Sean Penn was set up by another actor, Kate del Castillo, one of Mexico’s most famous TV stars.
Rolling Stone gave the drug kingpin fugitive final approval of the piece. Sean Penn did spend an evening with Guzman. But Guzman’s quotes in the piece came from a video recording after the actor sent him questions.
According to the magazine, this photo accompanied the story for authentication purposes, proof that the two had met.
Joining me for more on this is Angela Kocherga. She’s the borderlands bureau director for Cronkite News at Arizona PBS and a professor at the Cronkite School of Journalism.
Angela, thank you for joining us.
I wonder if you could just tell me, what was your first reaction when you saw the Sean Penn piece in Rolling Stone?
ANGELA KOCHERGA, Borderlands Bureau Director, Cronkite News: Well, I thought, if anyone had gone to a Hollywood producer with this scenario, they would have been laughed out of the room, but, of course, this was the reality.
You have this very famous Mexican actress. You have this Sean Penn, an actor/activist, and then you have got the most wanted man in Mexico meeting in this jungle hideaway. So, it was surprising.
But the more difficult part of this for journalists was that it raised some very troubling issues about access and what constitutes real journalism, as opposed to more of a conversation, rather than what they’re calling an interview.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Well, let’s talk about some of those issues.
As we mentioned, Rolling Stone granted El Chapo final approval of the piece. The magazine points out that they didn’t — he says he didn’t actually want anything changed. But that’s not a very common practice for journalists to grant their subjects.
ANGELA KOCHERGA: No.
And, unfortunately, that’s not a ringing endorsement of hard-hitting journalism, when your main subject gives it the green light without changing a single word. In Mexico, unfortunately, this is a reality. Self-censorship is a tool of survival. Many, many journalists, colleagues in Mexico, have to censor themselves in order to survive.
News organizations, individual journalists have had to flee for their lives. Others have been kidnapped and killed in Mexico for covering organized crime and official corruption, which often intersects. So, this is really a very troubling thing, treated as kind of an entertainment-style news story, when we have people dying, journalists in Mexico risking their lives to bring their readers and viewers the truth.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, do you think the public is served in any way by Sean Penn’s — quote, unquote — “interview” with El Chapo?
ANGELA KOCHERGA: I think if it had been characterized as more of a conversation. The actual content of the interview really doesn’t reveal anything new.
We get to see El Chapo and we hear it in his own words, but, I mean, he’s basically just admitting, yes, I’m sending unknown amounts, I mean, giant amounts of drugs, heroin, meth, and every other kind of drug, across the border.
But it’s more the story behind the story that’s fascinating, the fact that you have a Hollywood actor and a Mexican soap opera star who plays a queenpin, a drug queenpin, in a soap opera in Mexico finding their way into this jungle hideaway, at the invitation of Mexico’s most wanted man.
That story, how they were able to get there — and there are photos on — from Mexican paparazzi that actually show the two arriving in Mexico. So, it doesn’t seem, as much as they wanted to make this a secret trip, it seemed that Mexican authorities probably had a way to track them.
Almost every single person in every tiny town in Mexico knows who Kate del Castillo is.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But take on this issue. You’re a journalist. You have covered this story many, many years. You teach young journalists.
Is there a circumstance that you would ever have agreed to these types of conditions, to let an actor go and interview a kingpin under these circumstances, with these kind of conditions put on it?
ANGELA KOCHERGA: I don’t think it’s a — we would call it journalism.
You would call it a conversation between an actor and a drug lord. And that, in and of itself, the story behind the story, is fascinating, how they came together.
But we also have to remember, although Chapo says, yes, I know drugs kill, but I do it for — because I was raised as a poor person in Mexico and there were no other recourses, I mean, those are real stories in Mexico,that there is real meat to that part of it.
But he also runs the most brutal drug — one of the most brutal drug cartels in Mexico. I covered the very violent years in Ciudad Juarez, the border city across from El Paso, Texas, and 10,000 people were killed in the span of about five years, as the Sinaloa cartel, run by Chapo, took on the local hometown cartel, the Juarez cartel, and there was an absolute bloodbath.
So, we can’t forget the many, many lives that have been lost and the many journalists who have risked their lives trying to tell these stories and many others who have been silenced. There are entire regions of Mexico that are part of drug trafficking strongholds, where journalists cannot report anything about the drug cartel without prior approval.
So, what Sean Penn did probably is not new for Mexican journalists, but he obviously faced none of the risks that they face every day.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, and just for the record, we did reach out to Rolling Stone, and they had no comment to offer us.
But, Angela Kocherga, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, thank you so much.
ANGELA KOCHERGA: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, to the Supreme Court.
Today, the justices heard arguments involving a group of California schoolteachers and a major teachers union, in a case that could have wide ramifications for organized labor. The question: Can teachers who aren’t union members be required to pay some union dues?
Our regular Marcia Coyle of “The National Law Journal” was in the courtroom today, and she’s here with us now to tell us more.
Marcia, before I begin, I have to say, you and I were just talking about David Bowie, and you said you remembered something special.
MARCIA COYLE, “The National Law Journal”: I do.
I remember his duet with Bing Crosby on a Crosby Christmas special, when he sang “Peace on Earth” and Bing Crosby sang “Little Drummer Boy.” And it was just a really beautiful duet, a moment, yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Another testament to his versatility.
MARCIA COYLE: Yes, definitely.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I had to ask you about that.
So, this case involving the teachers in California…
MARCIA COYLE: No singing in the Supreme Court today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: No singing today.
MARCIA COYLE: No.
JUDY WOODRUFF: This is a case with some history.
MARCIA COYLE: Yes.
In 1977, the Supreme Court upheld a state law that required unions, which at the time were the exclusive bargaining agent and had to represent all public employees in that unit, it allowed those unions to collect — or it required those unions to collect so-called agency shop fees in order to cover their share of the collective bargaining costs, even though they were non-members of the union.
The Supreme Court at the time said that the interference with their First Amendment speech and association rights were justified for two reasons. Government employers wanted labor peace. They didn’t want to be negotiating with multiple representatives with often conflicting demands.
And, also, the government employers wanted to avoid free riders, those non-union members who would get the benefits of collective bargaining without sharing in the cost. Fast-forward almost 40 years. The Supreme Court has two cases, one in 2012, another in 2014, both by Justice Alito, casting doubt on whether that 1977 decision was really good law.
And into that doubt stepped some smart lawyers, anti-union lawyers who created a case that would challenge that 1977 decision head on. And that’s the case the court heard today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, tell us how it unfolded today, the main arguments. And how did the justices respond?
MARCIA COYLE: OK.
First up would be the 10 California public school teachers who are objecting to paying any fees to the union. The — I saw in the court what I would call a clear ideological divide. You had the more conservative justices being very skeptical of the union’s claims that the interests served by that 1977 decision really did comport or really did justify the First Amendment encroachment by the agency shop fees.
Justice Kennedy was the most critical voice, I think, during the arguments. He said this was compelled speech, and what the unions were doing were creating compelled riders, not free riders, but compelled riders.
You also had the chief justice and Justices Alito and Justice Scalia questioning the line that the court in 1977 drew between collective bargaining activities, for which unions could collect the fees, and unrelated activities that were more political.
Justice Scalia said everything that is collectively bargained with the government has a political component to it. On the other side, you had justices like Justice Ginsburg, Kagan, Sotomayor demanding of the California teachers who are challenging this a special justification for overruling a 1977 precedent that’s been around 40 years, and, as Justice Kagan said, tens of thousands of contracts, affecting maybe 10 million people have been in place because of that 1977 decision.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Marcia, something — in fact, a fair amount has been written about whether this is going to have broader repercussions. Did that come up in the arguments today?
MARCIA COYLE: It did.
In fact, Justice Ginsburg said, if this 1977 precedent falls, so, too, will the court’s decisions upholding similar required fees, for example, that lawyers play — pay in mandatory bar associations, and even student activity fees paid in public universities.
But there is a disagreement between the two sides over the impact. The teachers challenging the fees, their lawyers say, no, unions will continue to go on. There are 25 states that don’t have agency shop fees and their unions continue to exist and thrive.
The other side, the unions, say, no, this is a major blow. We use this money to do things like train teachers, train firefighters in other types of unions, provide equipment that maybe counties and local governments can’t afford. So they see this as a real weakening and a blow if that 1977 decision falls.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, this one has been watched closely. And we’re going to be seeing a lot more of you soon.
MARCIA COYLE: It is going to be a very big end of term, Judy, so I’m sure I will be back.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We can’t wait.
Marcia Coyle, thank you.
MARCIA COYLE: My pleasure.
The post What a teachers’ challenge to union fees could mean for organized labor appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the most influential and revolutionary musical artists of his generation, David Bowie, died yesterday after an 18-month battle with cancer.
In a career that spanned more than five decades, the sale of more than 140 million albums, and included an ever-changing and sometimes androgynous look that led to glam rock and many other iconic moments, David Bowie remained an original to the end.
Jeffrey Brown has our remembrance.
JEFFREY BROWN: Constantly changing, but somehow always uniquely himself, David Bowie was one of the culture’s heroic figures for decades, appearing in many guises, shapes and forms, leaving a mark on rock music and well beyond.
He was born David Jones in South London in 1947, and rose to fame first in 1969 as Major Tom in the hit song “Space Oddity,” and then, memorably, in the early ’70s as another otherworldly character, Ziggy Stardust.
“Rolling Stone” music critic Anthony DeCurtis:
ANTHONY DECURTIS, “Rolling Stone”: Suddenly, here’s David Bowie, kind of a much more complex, subversive figure than many of those artists were. And he really gave a lot of energy for what was going to drive music, well, until now, really, but certainly through the ’70s.
When he came on the scene, it was like, this is the future.
NARRATOR: Nothing you have seen or heard about David Bowie will prepare you.
JEFFREY BROWN: In 1976, Bowie stepped into another artistic world, acting as the pale alien in the film “The Man Who Fell to Earth.”
Then, in the ’80s, he became a music video and fashion icon, cementing his mainstream pop star status with a string of hits, telling his fans, let’s dance. His range of pursuits, very much including a visual sensibility, also attracted those in the art world.
Michael Darling is with Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which hosted an exhibition on Bowie.
MICHAEL DARLING, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art: The thing that made Bowie such a good subject for a museum exhibition is the variety of his output. We had costumes. We had stage designs, graphic designs, handwritten lyrics, and things like that.
JEFFREY BROWN: The range, the showmanship, playfulness all were hugely influential. Madonna spoke to it when Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
MADONNA, Musician: Before I saw David Bowie live, I was your normal, dysfunctional, rebellious teenager from the Midwest. And he has truly changed my life.
JEFFREY BROWN: Today, other musicians and artists spoke to Bowie’s influence, including some of the day’s biggest stars.
ANTHONY DECURTIS: It’s one thing to be influential in rock ‘n’ roll, but when you start affecting the pop world — and by that, I mean people like Madonna or Lady Gaga — Bowie was an extremely important figure for them.
This idea that you could continually reinvent yourself, that every time you stepped out on the stage, it was a stage, and which character are you going to be playing? That was anybody’s guess. Bowie never seemed old. That sense of reinvention really made him seem of the time at every time.
MICHAEL DARLING: So many artists these days are working across different media. They’re making videos. They’re doing performances. They’re painting. They’re taking photographs. And David Bowie was already, you know, as early as the 1960s, doing that kind of work.
JEFFREY BROWN: Tributes also came from fans, some at a mural in his hometown, even some from very high places, such as British Prime Minister David Cameron.
DAVID CAMERON, British Prime Minister: David Bowie was a genius. For someone of my age, he provided a lot of the soundtrack of our lives.
JEFFREY BROWN: Bowie was married for more than 20 years to the supermodel Iman, with whom he had a daughter. He also had a son from a previous marriage.
He had remained active in recent years, he’d kept working. The song “Lazarus” appears on his last album, a collaboration with a jazz quartet called “Blackstar,” which was released this past Friday, on Bowie’s birthday.
David Bowie died of cancer Sunday night. He was 69 years old.
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WASHINGTON — The House pushed ahead on legislation that seeks to punish North Korea for its latest nuclear test by expanding sanctions on Pyongyang, a move with strong bipartisan support despite questions over how effective the new restrictions can be.
Lawmakers are scheduled to vote Tuesday on the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act, which proposes to deny North Korea the hard currency they say it needs for its weapons programs. Holding the vote tomorrow puts it on the same day as President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address.
But former State Department officials said any new sanctions won’t have teeth unless China makes a major shift in policy toward its rebellious ally. Separately, a panel of experts on North Korea said existing United Nations sanctions against the reclusive country are going unenforced.
The House bill is sponsored by Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The new sanctions would put “targeted economic financial pressure” on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Royce said Monday ahead of the vote, arguing that a failure to respond aggressively will embolden Pyongyang.
Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the committee’s top Democrat, said Kim is on a “dangerous, destabilizing course” and the U.S. needs to act unilaterally to show the North Koreans that “there are consequences for their actions.”
Royce’s committee unanimously approved the measure in February 2015 and it remained there until last week when North Korea announced it had conducted a fourth nuclear test — this one detonating a thermonuclear device with massive destructive power.
The announcement was met with doubt North Korea had set off a hydrogen bomb, which would mark a major technological advance for Pyongyang’s limited nuclear arsenal. But it could take weeks or even longer to confirm or refute the claim. Yet lawmakers are pushing ahead.
In the wake of the announcement, Republicans derided the Obama administration for not being more forceful in its policy toward North Korea. Royce said the administration’s approach of “strategic patience” toward North Korea has failed to stop its nuclear program.
It’s uncertain what the bill’s prospects will be in the Senate if it’s passed by the House.
But Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he wants the U.S. and its allies “to take a more assertive role in addressing North Korea’s provocation.”
A central part of Royce’s legislation is to make so-called “blocking sanctions” mandatory rather than discretionary as currently permitted through existing regulations. The sanctions are mandated against any country, business or individual that materially contributes to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development, imports luxury goods into North Korea, or engages with Pyongyang in money laundering, the manufacture of counterfeit goods, or narcotics trafficking, according to the legislation.
A similar tactic was used by the Treasury Department a decade ago, Royce said, and it drained North Korea of the hard currency essential for buying the parts and supplies necessary for weapons development and missile production. Nor did Pyongyang have enough money to pay its army or police forces.
But Joseph DeThomas, a former senior State Department official who advised on Iran and North Korea sanctions policy until February 2013, said new sanctions wouldn’t force change in Pyongyang unless China is convinced of the strategic consequence of North Korea having nuclear weapons that could threaten America.
Due to mounting international concern, the United Nations also is considering new sanctions against North Korea. But less than 40 of the U.N.’s 193 member states have turned in reports on sanctions implementation since the latest round of sanctions was imposed in 2013. Compliance has been lowest in Africa, an increasingly important market for low-cost North Korean weapons sales.
Meanwhile, CNN reported Monday that North Korea has detained a U.S. citizen on suspicion of spying.
It said a man identified as Kim Dong Chul was being held by the Pyongyang government and that authorities had accused him of engaging in spying and stealing state secrets. In an interview with a CNN correspondent, Kim said he had traveled extensively in recent years between China and North Korea and also had made a few trips to South Korea.
In Washington, a State Department official would not confirm the report.
Associated Press writers Matthew Pennington in Washington and Cara Anna at the United Nations contributed to this report.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And while the candidates jockey for position and try to win over voters, the bipartisan group called No Labels is still hammering away at its goal of bringing the parties together.
Today, they announced Republicans Ben Carson, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Rand Paul, and Donald Trump, and one Democrat, Martin O’Malley, have all signed a pledge to work toward the No Labels policy agenda, which calls for creating jobs, securing Social Security and Medicare, balancing the federal budget, and making the United States energy-secure.
A short time ago, I spoke with the group’s co-chairs, former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman.
Senator Lieberman, Governor Huntsman, thank you for joining us.
So, you have five Republicans and one Democrat who have signed this pledge. What exactly are they pledging to do, Governor Huntsman?
JON HUNTSMAN, Former Governor, Co-Chair, No Labels: Well, they are pledging to embrace a process for goal-setting and leadership in a bipartisan fashion, drawing from the elements of a national strategic agenda, which include four big policy categories, jobs, entitlements, energy, and a balanced budget.
And, essentially, every one of the six candidates, a very diverse group, I might add, they are stating that they will support the national strategic agenda, and, number two, they will sit down and meet with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders within 30 days of being elected to the presidency, and, third, to establish a goal of drawing from one of those big issue categories and leading out in a bipartisan fashion in delivering what the American people really are looking for.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Senator Lieberman, hearing this, aren’t these, though, the kind of general goals stated in a broad-brush way that just about anyone could agree to?
JOE LIEBERMAN, Former Senator, Co-Chair, No Labels: Well, that’s exactly the way we framed them, because we’re operating from the premise that we’re trying to disrupt the dysfunction in the Washington political system.
We’re trying to create some incentives for people to work together, and one of the best ways is to have people agree at least on commonly held goals. That’s the four policy areas. So, really, left, right, center, Democrat, Republican, should agree on the goals, and then for these presidential candidate to promise, if they get elected that, within the first 30 days in office, they will call members of Congress, both parties in, to begin negotiating to get something done on at least one of the goals.
Frankly, I’m surprised all that 15 of the current presidential candidates didn’t sign on to this. I’m grateful that the six did, but I’m puzzled that the other nine haven’t, and we’re going to continue to pursue them to make our case that it’s not asking much for them to pledge, promise to work together across party lines, which hasn’t happened very much in Washington lately.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Governor Huntsman, though, at the same time, isn’t it the case — the fact that candidates from different parties, say, a conservative Republican, is going to have a very different concept of what it means to secure Social Security and Medicare than is a liberal Democrat?
JON HUNTSMAN: And that, Judy, is the beauty of governing. And that’s what this process is so important.
That’s what I had to do as a governor of a state. You create a vision. You put forward ideas. You build bipartisan coalitions and you manage it through to fruition. It’s been a long time since we have put points on the board in terms of getting big, important things done for the American people.
I can remember in the ’80s, when Ronald Reagan did so with Speaker Tip O’Neill. They set a goal around Medicare, Social Security and tax reform. And I remember in the ’90s, when Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, then speaker of the House, they too set a goal. Differing widely from an ideological standpoint, they took two respectively different pathways to the end point, but you know what? They got there.
So, you have to set the goal first and expect that people on both sides are going to negotiate, compromise and ultimately figure out a way to get there. That’s all part of the process.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Senator Lieberman, you’re not underestimating how far apart these candidates, many of them are, on these fundamental questions?
JOE LIEBERMAN: In a sense, we are, through No Labels, in a very different way expressing the anger, the frustration that so many Americans feel about how the American government has gone off the track.
And it is being expressed by a lot of these candidates with anger as well. But, in the end, you got to be more than angry. You got to be willing, history tells us, to work with people in the other party to get something done. And we’re trying to create a vehicle for the voters to send that message loud and clear to the presidential candidates.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Governor Huntsman, finally, though, can you really hold these candidates accountable?
JON HUNTSMAN: The American people will do just that. I have no doubt.
The country is hungry for this kind of sense of bipartisan problem-solving. They’re turning out. And you better believe they’re turning out to the town hall meetings and will be right up until the primary, and they’re going to hold the candidates accountable, ultimately.
And that’s why creating the vehicle, which we have done through No Labels, is exactly what needs to be done. There is no other movement quite like it. We’re Republicans. We’re Democrats. We’re independents. We have different affiliations, but we all agree on the necessity of problem-solving in order to get the work of the American people done. And that’s what’s been missing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Governor Jon Huntsman, Senator Joe Lieberman, we thank you both.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: With just three weeks to go until the nation’s first early voting contests in Iowa, the polls are narrowing and many of the presidential candidates are sharpening their attacks.
On the Democratic side today, Hillary Clinton stressed the differences within the Democratic field, while Bernie Sanders pushed his core populist message to potential Hawkeye State voters.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, Democratic Presidential Candidate: You can run a strong and, I believe, winning campaign without asking Wall Street or the drug companies or millionaires and billionaires for their support. You can go to ordinary people who want real change in this country and you can do it with the support of the middle class of this country.
HILLARY CLINTON, Democractic Presidential Candidate: As you begin to think about the caucus and read about what we’re each saying and talk to your friends and neighbors, I think it’s time for us to have the kind of spirited debate that you deserve us to have. Again, we’re so much better than the Republicans, but we do have differences, and you deserve to know what those differences are.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s get into some of those differences now on this Politics Monday.
Reporting from the trial, they’re both in Iowa tonight, Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.
And I hope you are both indoors, because I know it’s cold outside.
We are seeing a tightening of the race today, Amy, new poll out today showing Bernie Sanders has caught up to within three points of Hillary Clinton. That’s an NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll.
Do we understand why this race is tightening? What’s behind these numbers?
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Well, the Hillary Clinton campaign will tell you, in fact, they have told us since the very beginning of this race, that they expected this was going to be tight all along. Of course, all candidates say that.
But we know why it’s going to be tight. It’s because the same dynamics are in play this year as they were back in 2007 and 2008. Back then, Hillary Clinton did best among those people who traditionally come in caucus, older voters. She did much better with women, where Barack Obama did better with independents and younger people, people who don’t necessarily show up to caucus.
This same dynamic is playing out here in 2016, but Bernie Sanders playing the role of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton playing the role of herself again. And so the question on caucus night will come down to exactly who comes out to vote, which, of course, none of us can know until that night.
But if it’s a big number of people that come out, including people who don’t traditionally show up on a Monday in February, then this race will indeed be very close. If it’s more of the traditional kind of Democratic voters that show up every year, then Hillary Clinton, I think, will have an easier time winning.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Tamara, is this tightening changing the way these candidates talk to the voters and what they’re saying?
TAMARA KEITH, NPR: I don’t know if it’s the tightening that’s doing it or the limited time left on the calendar, but they are definitely talking in a different way than they have before.
In particular, Hillary Clinton is much more pointed in the way she talks about Bernie Sanders than she has been in the past. And just let me give you a little example, which is an argument they’re now having about guns. This came up back in October, and Hillary Clinton talked about Bernie Sanders’ position on immunity or some level of immunity for gun makers and gun dealers, but she never really called him out by name.
Now she’s saying Bernie Sanders supported this thing when it came up in 2005 in Congress. He’s open to possibly changing his position on it or revisiting it, but he hasn’t changed his position yet. And she is saying, Barack Obama, the president and I, we want to take away this immunity. Bernie Sanders, calling him out by name, doesn’t want to.
That’s very different that she — they’re talking about each other now by name, and they’re talking very specifically about issues.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Amy, I saw this afternoon her campaign put out a statement about that she wants to put a surcharge on multimillionaires. It’s very clear what she’s trying to — whose attention she’s trying to get.
AMY WALTER: Exactly.
And I was at a Bernie Sanders event today here in Iowa. And what was interesting, to Tamara’s point, you know, Hillary Clinton seems to have sharpened her attacks on Bernie Sanders, whereas Bernie seems to be the sort of subtler, gentler attacker here, still refusing to call her out. He calls her out, but not quite as pointedly.
He continues to mention the fact that he’s never run negative ads in his time as a candidate, suggesting he’s not going to do it this time. He wants to win on the merits of the debate. But there’s no question that, in talking to Bernie Sanders’ supporters, they feel like, no matter what, they have won because they have forced Hillary Clinton to move to their position. They see a more liberal position, and, specifically, of course, on this last issue, on economic inequality.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Tamara, they must — the Sanders people must think that this sort of, as you put it, soft response is working for them.
TAMARA KEITH: It’s very much Bernie Sanders’ personality. It’s the persona that he’s had as a candidate throughout his political career, and he doesn’t intend to change that.
That said, he is willing to go there on issues. He has been calling on Clinton to support a bill on paid family leave that he’s a co-sponsor of, along with Kirsten Gillibrand and other senators. Clinton says, I support paid family leave just like you do, but she wants to pay for it in a different way.
So I think that — and with that tax proposal, Bernie Sanders’ campaign came out and said that won’t be enough, what Clinton is proposing. So I think they are starting to get chippy on issues themselves, and I think we can expect to see them fighting about taxes in the weeks ahead.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I like that word, chippy.
So, guess who else is…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Guess who else is talking about Bernie Sanders? None other than Donald Trump had something to say about him today. This is part of what Mr. Trump said. Let’s listen.
DONALD TRUMP, Republican Presidential Candidate: I want to run against Bernie.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
DONALD TRUMP: Oh, that’s a dream come true. This guy, he would make some president — 90 percent tax, everybody. Does anybody mind paying 90 percent tax? Because you go with Bernie, you’re going to have yourself a nice 90 percent tax. He wants to take it all away from you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Amy, Mr. Trump still has other Republican candidates to worry about, but he is talking about Bernie Sanders.
AMY WALTER: Well, two things going on here. One, Donald Trump always has to be part of whatever the talking points are. So he wanted get himself into what is a debate between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and make sure nobody forgot about him. He inserts himself.
But the other piece goes to what Bernie Sanders is talking about a lot more now, which is that he is the more electable candidate. For a long time, the conventional wisdom has been, well, Hillary Clinton, she may have a tough time with very liberal voters, but she is a better general election candidate.
Bernie Sanders points to these recent polls that you, Judy, pointed out, specifically from the Marist poll, that shows that Bernie Sanders is beating Donald Trump handily in New Hampshire, whereas Hillary Clinton is only up by one point. Bernie Sanders is now saying, I’m the more electable candidate.
Now, to be sure, nobody has talked about Bernie Sanders yet. This issue that Donald Trump brought up about 90 percent tax, we will hear a lot about the amount of spending and where it’s coming. From should Bernie Sanders be the nominee, it will be a very tough road for him. Those numbers will change.
That said, I think what Donald Trump is trying to do is to say, whoa, whoa, whoa, don’t let Bernie Sanders put the cart before the horse here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, about 45 seconds left, Tamara.
But fill us in on, where does the Republican race stand right now in Iowa?
TAMARA KEITH: Well, it’s sort of a neck-and-neck situation, depending on which poll you look at, between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Ted Cruz being the senator from Texas.
And Ted Cruz has really consolidated the evangelical vote, and Donald Trump seems to be getting almost all of the rest. And Trump, I think, today even speculated as to why some of those people who are so far behind in the polls don’t just drop out. So, there you have it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we’re just watching, along with the two of you. We’re glad you’re there as our eyes and ears.
Tamara Keith, Amy Walter, good luck on the trail. Thank you both.
TAMARA KEITH: Thank you.
AMY WALTER: You’re welcome. Thanks.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Gunmen burst into a shopping mall in Iraq today, killing at least 18 people and wounding 40 others. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in Baghdad. It began with a car bomb and suicide blast at the Jawhara Mall. That touched off a 90-minute gun battle before security forces gained control. To the north, another suicide attack killed two dozen people. Ten more were killed in other bombings.
Food and medicine finally got through today to a Syrian town that’s slowly starving to death. An aid convoy was allowed in under an agreement with pro-government forces who have blockaded the place.
Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News has the story.
LINDSEY HILSUM: At last. This morning, Red Crescent trucks headed towards the besieged town of Madaya, carrying tinned food, rice, lentils, and other supplies, all desperately needed.
The people waited. They haven’t had a food delivery like this for three months. Five more died of hunger or hunger-related diseases yesterday. Aid workers went in first. Food is a weapon of war in Syria. And the U.N. and Red Crescent have carefully negotiated with both government and rebels. Anything can go wrong at the last minute. And this is just a stopgap.
MAN (through interpreter): People are very happy today because the food has arrived, but they’re worried and upset because they’re still under siege. The town isn’t yet open to the world, so the human disaster we have witnessed could happen again in two weeks’ time.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Under the agreement, emergency aid is being delivered from the Syrian capital, Damascus, both to Madaya, which is held by rebels, while besieged by Syrian government forces and Hezbollah, and to the Shia villages in the north, near Idlib, Foua and Kefraya, which are besieged by the rebel group Ahrar Al Sham.
The rebels surround the villages, and although there isn’t the same level of hunger there as in Madaya, the people, who are mostly government supporters, are trapped, unable to leave. As darkness fell this evening, the convoys finally got permission from all sides to enter Madaya. The World Food Program hopes to provide enough to feed 40,000 people in the area for one month. That’s just a tenth of the number of Syrians who urgently need food aid this winter.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The United Nations says that 4.5 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian aid.
Germany’s leaders today condemned retaliatory violence against immigrants. Six Pakistanis and a Syrian were assaulted Sunday in Cologne, as tensions flared over New Year’s Eve attacks, mostly carried out by migrants. Meanwhile, Turkey said that it plans to offer work permits to Syrian refugees so that fewer of them will try to get to Europe.
In Pakistan, new efforts began to revive long-stalled peace talks in neighboring Afghanistan. Representatives from Afghanistan, China, the U.S. and Pakistan met late into the night in Islamabad. The four nations didn’t invite the Taliban to the session, but Pakistani officials said it’s vital to bring the militants into the fold.
SARTAJ AZIZ, Foreign Affairs Adviser, Pakistani Prime Minister : The primary objective of the reconciliation process is to create conditions to bring the Taliban groups to the negotiating table and offer them incentives that can persuade them to move away from using violence as a tool for pursuing political goals.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Taliban said today that it will not agree to any direct talks with Afghanistan without first talking to the United States.
Back in this country, on Wall Street, stocks managed small gains, despite oil prices falling to just over $31 a barrel. That is the lowest in 12 years. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 52 points to close near 16400. The Nasdaq fell five points, and the S&P 500 added a point.
And the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has announced that it’s retiring all of its touring elephants in May. That’s a year-and-a-half earlier than originally planned, and it comes as more cities are banning events involving elephant acts. The pachyderms will go to live at the company’s conservation center in Florida.
WASHINGTON — Americans should resist “the siren call of the angriest voices” in how the nation treats immigrants, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said as the GOP used its formal response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address to try softening the tough stance embraced by some of its leading presidential candidates.
Haley, herself the U.S.-born daughter of Indian immigrants, said Tuesday that the country is facing its most dangerous security threat since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. That was a reference to the Islamic State group, which has taken credit for attacks in Paris and elsewhere and may have inspired last month’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.
“During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices,” she said in her prepared remarks. “We must resist that temptation.”
Haley did not mention the GOP presidential race. But the front-runner so far, Donald Trump, has called for deporting millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Two other contenders, Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have battled over which of them has the tougher record on the issue.
No one who works hard and follows the laws “should ever feel unwelcome in this country,” she said.
Mentioned by some as a potential vice presidential candidate, Haley said the U.S. should continue admitting “properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion” — an apparent reference to calls by Trump to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the country. She also hewed closely to long-time GOP demands in the immigration debate, saying: “That does not mean we just flat out open our borders.”
The nation’s youngest governor at 43, Haley also seemed to try smoothing some of her party’s more combative edges. She said Republicans “would respect differences in modern families” — perhaps suggesting more tolerance toward same-sex couples — and said it isn’t necessary “to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference.”
Without offering specifics, she said that while Democrats bear much responsibility, Republicans “need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and recognize why our government is broken.”
Haley has gained national prominence for helping to end the display of the Confederate battle flag on Statehouse grounds last year after half a century, a move that followed last June’s slaying of nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. She also got attention after catastrophic flooding that battered her state in October.
Polls have shown public concerns over terrorism and national security have become a top issue ever since the November attacks that killed 130 in Paris and the December mass shooting by a radicalized Muslim couple that killed 14 people in San Bernardino. Ever since, Republicans on the presidential campaign trail and in Congress have been emphasizing those issues.
At the same time, many in the GOP feel the party must do a better job of appealing to Hispanics and other minority voters if they are to compete effectively in national and many statewide elections.
They’re also eager to win more votes from women, who preferred Obama over his Republican opponents by more than 10 percentage points in his 2008 and 2012 elections and have favored the Democratic presidential candidate in each election since 1992.
Haley is the third consecutive woman GOP leaders have chosen to deliver their party’s response to Obama. Freshman Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, gave the address last year and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., the No. 4 House GOP leader, did it in 2014.
Twenty-nine of the 300 GOP members of Congress, or about 10 percent, are women, about one-third the proportion of women among congressional Democrats. Each party also has three female governors, although GOP governors outnumber Democrats 31 to 18, plus an independent.
Haley said the nation’s problems also include an economy that’s not boosted family income, a national debt that’s too high and Obama’s health care law, which Republicans have long asserted has failed. She also cited “chaotic unrest in many of our cities,” which seemed a reference to community anger in several cities over killings by police of unarmed black people.
She said under a GOP president, Republicans would lower taxes, curb spending and debt and strengthen the military.
Associated Press reporter Alan Fram wrote this report.
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to show that nine people were killed in the Charleston church shootings.
The post In GOP response to Obama, SC governor defends immigrants appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
(As prepared for delivery)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:
Tonight marks the eighth year I’ve come here to report on the State of the Union. And for this final one, I’m going to try to make it shorter. I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa.
I also understand that because it’s an election season, expectations for what we’ll achieve this year are low. Still, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the constructive approach you and the other leaders took at the end of last year to pass a budget and make tax cuts permanent for working families. So I hope we can work together this year on bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform, and helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse. We just might surprise the cynics again.
But tonight, I want to go easy on the traditional list of proposals for the year ahead. Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty, from helping students learn to write computer code to personalizing medical treatments for patients. And I’ll keep pushing for progress on the work that still needs doing. Fixing a broken immigration system. Protecting our kids from gun violence. Equal pay for equal work, paid leave, raising the minimum wage. All these things still matter to hardworking families; they are still the right thing to do; and I will not let up until they get done.
But for my final address to this chamber, I don’t want to talk just about the next year. I want to focus on the next five years, ten years, and beyond.
I want to focus on our future.
We live in a time of extraordinary change – change that’s reshaping the way we live, the way we work, our planet and our place in the world. It’s change that promises amazing medical breakthroughs, but also economic disruptions that strain working families. It promises education for girls in the most remote villages, but also connects terrorists plotting an ocean away. It’s change that can broaden opportunity, or widen inequality. And whether we like it or not, the pace of this change will only accelerate.
America has been through big changes before – wars and depression, the influx of immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, and movements to expand civil rights. Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control. And each time, we overcame those fears. We did not, in the words of Lincoln, adhere to the “dogmas of the quiet past.” Instead we thought anew, and acted anew. We made change work for us, always extending America’s promise outward, to the next frontier, to more and more people. And because we did – because we saw opportunity where others saw only peril – we emerged stronger and better than before.
What was true then can be true now. Our unique strengths as a nation – our optimism and work ethic, our spirit of discovery and innovation, our diversity and commitment to the rule of law – these things give us everything we need to ensure prosperity and security for generations to come.
In fact, it’s that spirit that made the progress of these past seven years possible. It’s how we recovered from the worst economic crisis in generations. It’s how we reformed our health care system, and reinvented our energy sector; how we delivered more care and benefits to our troops and veterans, and how we secured the freedom in every state to marry the person we love.
But such progress is not inevitable. It is the result of choices we make together. And we face such choices right now. Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, and turning against each other as a people? Or will we face the future with confidence in who we are, what we stand for, and the incredible things we can do together?
So let’s talk about the future, and four big questions that we as a country have to answer – regardless of who the next President is, or who controls the next Congress.
First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy?
Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against us – especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change?
Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman?
And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?
Let me start with the economy, and a basic fact: the United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world. We’re in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the ‘90s; an unemployment rate cut in half. Our auto industry just had its best year ever. Manufacturing has created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years. And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters.
Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction. What is true – and the reason that a lot of Americans feel anxious – is that the economy has been changing in profound ways, changes that started long before the Great Recession hit and haven’t let up. Today, technology doesn’t just replace jobs on the assembly line, but any job where work can be automated. Companies in a global economy can locate anywhere, and face tougher competition. As a result, workers have less leverage for a raise. Companies have less loyalty to their communities. And more and more wealth and income is concentrated at the very top.
All these trends have squeezed workers, even when they have jobs; even when the economy is growing. It’s made it harder for a hardworking family to pull itself out of poverty, harder for young people to start on their careers, and tougher for workers to retire when they want to. And although none of these trends are unique to America, they do offend our uniquely American belief that everybody who works hard should get a fair shot.
For the past seven years, our goal has been a growing economy that works better for everybody. We’ve made progress. But we need to make more. And despite all the political arguments we’ve had these past few years, there are some areas where Americans broadly agree.
We agree that real opportunity requires every American to get the education and training they need to land a good-paying job. The bipartisan reform of No Child Left Behind was an important start, and together, we’ve increased early childhood education, lifted high school graduation rates to new highs, and boosted graduates in fields like engineering. In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by providing Pre-K for all, offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one, and we should recruit and support more great teachers for our kids.
And we have to make college affordable for every American. Because no hardworking student should be stuck in the red. We’ve already reduced student loan payments to ten percent of a borrower’s income. Now, we’ve actually got to cut the cost of college. Providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that, and I’m going to keep fighting to get that started this year.
Of course, a great education isn’t all we need in this new economy. We also need benefits and protections that provide a basic measure of security. After all, it’s not much of a stretch to say that some of the only people in America who are going to work the same job, in the same place, with a health and retirement package, for 30 years, are sitting in this chamber. For everyone else, especially folks in their forties and fifties, saving for retirement or bouncing back from job loss has gotten a lot tougher. Americans understand that at some point in their careers, they may have to retool and retrain. But they shouldn’t lose what they’ve already worked so hard to build.
That’s why Social Security and Medicare are more important than ever; we shouldn’t weaken them, we should strengthen them. And for Americans short of retirement, basic benefits should be just as mobile as everything else is today. That’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about. It’s about filling the gaps in employer-based care so that when we lose a job, or go back to school, or start that new business, we’ll still have coverage. Nearly eighteen million have gained coverage so far. Health care inflation has slowed. And our businesses have created jobs every single month since it became law.
Now, I’m guessing we won’t agree on health care anytime soon. But there should be other ways both parties can improve economic security. Say a hardworking American loses his job – we shouldn’t just make sure he can get unemployment insurance; we should make sure that program encourages him to retrain for a business that’s ready to hire him. If that new job doesn’t pay as much, there should be a system of wage insurance in place so that he can still pay his bills. And even if he’s going from job to job, he should still be able to save for retirement and take his savings with him. That’s the way we make the new economy work better for everyone.
I also know Speaker Ryan has talked about his interest in tackling poverty. America is about giving everybody willing to work a hand up, and I’d welcome a serious discussion about strategies we can all support, like expanding tax cuts for low-income workers without kids.
But there are other areas where it’s been more difficult to find agreement over the last seven years – namely what role the government should play in making sure the system’s not rigged in favor of the wealthiest and biggest corporations. And here, the American people have a choice to make.
I believe a thriving private sector is the lifeblood of our economy. I think there are outdated regulations that need to be changed, and there’s red tape that needs to be cut. But after years of record corporate profits, working families won’t get more opportunity or bigger paychecks by letting big banks or big oil or hedge funds make their own rules at the expense of everyone else; or by allowing attacks on collective bargaining to go unanswered. Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did. Immigrants aren’t the reason wages haven’t gone up enough; those decisions are made in the boardrooms that too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns. It’s sure not the average family watching tonight that avoids paying taxes through offshore accounts. In this new economy, workers and start-ups and small businesses need more of a voice, not less. The rules should work for them. And this year I plan to lift up the many businesses who’ve figured out that doing right by their workers ends up being good for their shareholders, their customers, and their communities, so that we can spread those best practices across America.
In fact, many of our best corporate citizens are also our most creative. This brings me to the second big question we have to answer as a country: how do we reignite that spirit of innovation to meet our biggest challenges?
Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there. We didn’t argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight, and twelve years later, we were walking on the moon.
That spirit of discovery is in our DNA. We’re Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers and George Washington Carver. We’re Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson and Sally Ride. We’re every immigrant and entrepreneur from Boston to Austin to Silicon Valley racing to shape a better world. And over the past seven years, we’ve nurtured that spirit.
We’ve protected an open internet, and taken bold new steps to get more students and low-income Americans online. We’ve launched next-generation manufacturing hubs, and online tools that give an entrepreneur everything he or she needs to start a business in a single day.
But we can do so much more. Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources they’ve had in over a decade. Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past forty years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.
Medical research is critical. We need the same level of commitment when it comes to developing clean energy sources.
Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.
But even if the planet wasn’t at stake; even if 2014 wasn’t the warmest year on record – until 2015 turned out even hotter – why would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future?
Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history. Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power. On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills, and employs more Americans than coal – in jobs that pay better than average. We’re taking steps to give homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energy – something environmentalists and Tea Partiers have teamed up to support. Meanwhile, we’ve cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly sixty percent, and cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.
Gas under two bucks a gallon ain’t bad, either.
Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future – especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels. That’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet. That way, we put money back into those communities and put tens of thousands of Americans to work building a 21st century transportation system.
None of this will happen overnight, and yes, there are plenty of entrenched interests who want to protect the status quo. But the jobs we’ll create, the money we’ll save, and the planet we’ll preserve – that’s the kind of future our kids and grandkids deserve.
Climate change is just one of many issues where our security is linked to the rest of the world. And that’s why the third big question we have to answer is how to keep America safe and strong without either isolating ourselves or trying to nation-build everywhere there’s a problem.
I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world. No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin. Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead – they call us.
As someone who begins every day with an intelligence briefing, I know this is a dangerous time. But that’s not because of diminished American strength or some looming superpower. In today’s world, we’re threatened less by evil empires and more by failing states. The Middle East is going through a transformation that will play out for a generation, rooted in conflicts that date back millennia. Economic headwinds blow from a Chinese economy in transition. Even as their economy contracts, Russia is pouring resources to prop up Ukraine and Syria – states they see slipping away from their orbit. And the international system we built after World War II is now struggling to keep pace with this new reality.
It’s up to us to help remake that system. And that means we have to set priorities.
Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks. Both al Qaeda and now ISIL pose a direct threat to our people, because in today’s world, even a handful of terrorists who place no value on human life, including their own, can do a lot of damage. They use the Internet to poison the minds of individuals inside our country; they undermine our allies.
But as we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands. Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence. That’s the story ISIL wants to tell; that’s the kind of propaganda they use to recruit. We don’t need to build them up to show that we’re serious, nor do we need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is representative of one of the world’s largest religions. We just need to call them what they are – killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed.
That’s exactly what we are doing. For more than a year, America has led a coalition of more than 60 countries to cut off ISIL’s financing, disrupt their plots, stop the flow of terrorist fighters, and stamp out their vicious ideology. With nearly 10,000 air strikes, we are taking out their leadership, their oil, their training camps, and their weapons. We are training, arming, and supporting forces who are steadily reclaiming territory in Iraq and Syria.
If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, you should finally authorize the use of military force against ISIL. Take a vote. But the American people should know that with or without Congressional action, ISIL will learn the same lessons as terrorists before them. If you doubt America’s commitment – or mine – to see that justice is done, ask Osama bin Laden. Ask the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, who was taken out last year, or the perpetrator of the Benghazi attacks, who sits in a prison cell. When you come after Americans, we go after you. It may take time, but we have long memories, and our reach has no limit.
Our foreign policy must be focused on the threat from ISIL and al Qaeda, but it can’t stop there. For even without ISIL, instability will continue for decades in many parts of the world – in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in parts of Central America, Africa and Asia. Some of these places may become safe havens for new terrorist networks; others will fall victim to ethnic conflict, or famine, feeding the next wave of refugees. The world will look to us to help solve these problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians. That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn’t pass muster on the world stage.
We also can’t try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis. That’s not leadership; that’s a recipe for quagmire, spilling American blood and treasure that ultimately weakens us. It’s the lesson of Vietnam, of Iraq – and we should have learned it by now.
Fortunately, there’s a smarter approach, a patient and disciplined strategy that uses every element of our national power. It says America will always act, alone if necessary, to protect our people and our allies; but on issues of global concern, we will mobilize the world to work with us, and make sure other countries pull their own weight.
That’s our approach to conflicts like Syria, where we’re partnering with local forces and leading international efforts to help that broken society pursue a lasting peace.
That’s why we built a global coalition, with sanctions and principled diplomacy, to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. As we speak, Iran has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war.
That’s how we stopped the spread of Ebola in West Africa. Our military, our doctors, and our development workers set up the platform that allowed other countries to join us in stamping out that epidemic.
That’s how we forged a Trans-Pacific Partnership to open markets, protect workers and the environment, and advance American leadership in Asia. It cuts 18,000 taxes on products Made in America, and supports more good jobs. With TPP, China doesn’t set the rules in that region, we do. You want to show our strength in this century? Approve this agreement. Give us the tools to enforce it.
Fifty years of isolating Cuba had failed to promote democracy, setting us back in Latin America. That’s why we restored diplomatic relations, opened the door to travel and commerce, and positioned ourselves to improve the lives of the Cuban people. You want to consolidate our leadership and credibility in the hemisphere? Recognize that the Cold War is over. Lift the embargo.
American leadership in the 21st century is not a choice between ignoring the rest of the world – except when we kill terrorists; or occupying and rebuilding whatever society is unraveling. Leadership means a wise application of military power, and rallying the world behind causes that are right. It means seeing our foreign assistance as part of our national security, not charity. When we lead nearly 200 nations to the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change – that helps vulnerable countries, but it also protects our children. When we help Ukraine defend its democracy, or Colombia resolve a decades-long war, that strengthens the international order we depend upon. When we help African countries feed their people and care for the sick, that prevents the next pandemic from reaching our shores. Right now, we are on track to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and we have the capacity to accomplish the same thing with malaria – something I’ll be pushing this Congress to fund this year.
That’s strength. That’s leadership. And that kind of leadership depends on the power of our example. That is why I will keep working to shut down the prison at Guantanamo: it’s expensive, it’s unnecessary, and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies.
That’s why we need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith. His Holiness, Pope Francis, told this body from the very spot I stand tonight that “to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.” When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country.
“We the People.” Our Constitution begins with those three simple words, words we’ve come to recognize mean all the people, not just some; words that insist we rise and fall together. That brings me to the fourth, and maybe the most important thing I want to say tonight.
The future we want – opportunity and security for our families; a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids – all that is within our reach. But it will only happen if we work together. It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates.
It will only happen if we fix our politics.
A better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. This is a big country, with different regions and attitudes and interests. That’s one of our strengths, too. Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security.
But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice, or that our political opponents are unpatriotic. Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen only to those who agree with us. Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get attention. Most of all, democracy breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some narrow interest.
Too many Americans feel that way right now. It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency – that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. There’s no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.
But, my fellow Americans, this cannot be my task – or any President’s – alone. There are a whole lot of folks in this chamber who would like to see more cooperation, a more elevated debate in Washington, but feel trapped by the demands of getting elected. I know; you’ve told me. And if we want a better politics, it’s not enough to just change a Congressman or a Senator or even a President; we have to change the system to reflect our better selves.
We have to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around. We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families and hidden interests can’t bankroll our elections – and if our existing approach to campaign finance can’t pass muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution. We’ve got to make voting easier, not harder, and modernize it for the way we live now. And over the course of this year, I intend to travel the country to push for reforms that do.
But I can’t do these things on my own. Changes in our political process – in not just who gets elected but how they get elected – that will only happen when the American people demand it. It will depend on you. That’s what’s meant by a government of, by, and for the people.
What I’m asking for is hard. It’s easier to be cynical; to accept that change isn’t possible, and politics is hopeless, and to believe that our voices and actions don’t matter. But if we give up now, then we forsake a better future. Those with money and power will gain greater control over the decisions that could send a young soldier to war, or allow another economic disaster, or roll back the equal rights and voting rights that generations of Americans have fought, even died, to secure. As frustration grows, there will be voices urging us to fall back into tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do, or share the same background.
We can’t afford to go down that path. It won’t deliver the economy we want, or the security we want, but most of all, it contradicts everything that makes us the envy of the world.
So, my fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, our collective future depends on your willingness to uphold your obligations as a citizen. To vote. To speak out. To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us. To stay active in our public life so it reflects the goodness and decency and optimism that I see in the American people every single day.
It won’t be easy. Our brand of democracy is hard. But I can promise that a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I’ll be right there with you as a citizen – inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness that have helped America travel so far. Voices that help us see ourselves not first and foremost as black or white or Asian or Latino, not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born; not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans first, bound by a common creed. Voices Dr. King believed would have the final word – voices of unarmed truth and unconditional love.
They’re out there, those voices. They don’t get a lot of attention, nor do they seek it, but they are busy doing the work this country needs doing.
I see them everywhere I travel in this incredible country of ours. I see you. I know you’re there. You’re the reason why I have such incredible confidence in our future. Because I see your quiet, sturdy citizenship all the time.
I see it in the worker on the assembly line who clocked extra shifts to keep his company open, and the boss who pays him higher wages to keep him on board.
I see it in the Dreamer who stays up late to finish her science project, and the teacher who comes in early because he knows she might someday cure a disease.
I see it in the American who served his time, and dreams of starting over – and the business owner who gives him that second chance. The protester determined to prove that justice matters, and the young cop walking the beat, treating everybody with respect, doing the brave, quiet work of keeping us safe.
I see it in the soldier who gives almost everything to save his brothers, the nurse who tends to him ‘til he can run a marathon, and the community that lines up to cheer him on.
It’s the son who finds the courage to come out as who he is, and the father whose love for that son overrides everything he’s been taught.
I see it in the elderly woman who will wait in line to cast her vote as long as she has to; the new citizen who casts his for the first time; the volunteers at the polls who believe every vote should count, because each of them in different ways know how much that precious right is worth.
That’s the America I know. That’s the country we love. Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future. Because of you. I believe in you. That’s why I stand here confident that the State of our Union is strong.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
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WASHINGTON — Eyeing the end of his presidency, Barack Obama urged Americans Tuesday night to rekindle their belief in the promise of change that first carried him to the White House, declaring that the country must not allow election-year fear and division to put economic and security progress at risk.
“All the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air,” Obama said in his final State of the Union address. “So is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker.”
“The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close,” he said.
The president’s address to lawmakers and a prime-time television audience was meant to both shape his legacy and put his imprint squarely on the race to succeed him. He defended his record — and implicitly urged the public to elect another Democratic president to build on it — but acknowledged the persistent anxieties of Americans who feel shut out of a changing economy or at risk from an evolving terror threat.
While Obama did not directly call out Republicans, he sharply, and at times sarcastically, struck back at rivals who have challenged his economic and national security stewardship.
In his most pointed swipe at the GOP candidates running to succeed him, Obama warned against “voices urging us to fall back into tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us or pray like us or vote like we do or share the same background.”
His words were unexpectedly echoed by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who was selected to give the Republican response to Obama’s address. Underscoring how the heated campaign rhetoric about immigrants and minorities from GOP front-runner Donald Trump in particular has unnerved some Republican leaders, Haley called on Americans to resist the temptation “to follow the siren call of the angriest voices.”
“No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome,” Haley said in excerpts released ahead of her remarks.
Focused on his own legacy, Obama ticked off a retrospective of his domestic and foreign policy actions in office, including helping lead the economy back from the brink of depression, taking aggressive action on climate change and ending a Cold War freeze with Cuba.
He touted implementation of the landmark nuclear deal with Iran, but made no mention of the 10 American sailors picked up by Iran Tuesday. The Pentagon said the sailors had drifted into Iranian waters after encountering mechanical problems and would be returned safely and promptly.
Tackling one of the most vexing foreign policy challenges of his presidency, Obama vowed a robust campaign to “take out” the Islamic State group, but chastised Republicans for “over the top claims” about the extremist group’s power.
“Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger and must be stopped,” he said. “But they do not threaten our national security.”
The president’s words were unlikely to satisfy Republicans, as well as some Democrats, who say he underestimates the Islamic State’s power and is leaving the U.S. vulnerable to attacks at home.
Obama was frank about one of his biggest regrets: failing to ease the persistently deep divisions between Democrats and Republicans.
“The rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” he conceded. “There’s no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.”
He specifically called for ending the gerrymandering of some congressional districts that gives parties an iron grip on House seats. He also urged steps to make voting easier and reduce the influence of money in politics.
Mindful of the scant prospect for major legislative action in an election year, Obama avoided the traditional litany of policy proposals. He did reiterate his call for working with Republicans on criminal justice reform and finalizing an Asia-Pacific trade pact, and he also vowed to keep pushing for action on politically fraught issues such as curbing gun violence and fixing the nation’s fractured immigration laws.
Yet Obama was eager to look beyond his own presidency, casting the actions he’s taken as a springboard for future economic progress and national security. His optimism was meant to draw a contrast with what the White House sees as doom-and-gloom scenarios peddled by the GOP.
Republicans were largely dismissive of the president’s address. House Speaker Paul Ryan, assuming the speaker’s traditional seat behind the president for the first time, say Obama’s “lofty platitudes and nostalgic rhetoric may make for nice soundbites, but they don’t explain how to” solve problems.
Tuesday’s address was one of Obama’s last opportunities to claim a large television audience as president. However, the State of the Union has suffered a major drop-off in viewers in recent years. Last year, Obama’s speech reached 31.7 million viewers, according to Nielson, down from 52 million for his first State of the Union and 62 million for George W. Bush in 2003.
Associated Press White House Correspondent Julie Pace wrote this report.
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In President Barack Obama’s last State of the Union address, he extolled the country’s economic recovery, but noted that some Americans are still feeling the brunt of a quickly changing, global economy. It’s an economy, he noted, that increasingly profits the wealthiest.
“Today, technology doesn’t just replace jobs on the assembly line, but any job where work can be automated. Companies in a global economy can locate anywhere, and face tougher competition. As a result, workers have less leverage for a raise. Companies have less loyalty to their communities. And more and more wealth and income is concentrated at the very top.
“All these trends have squeezed workers, even when they have jobs; even when the economy is growing. It’s made it harder for a hardworking family to pull itself out of poverty, harder for young people to start on their careers and tougher for workers to retire when they want to. And although none of these trends are unique to us, they do offend our uniquely American belief that everybody who works hard should get a fair shot.”
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Protecting the American people and fighting terrorism is priority No. 1, but without the dramatic rhetoric, President Barack Obama said in his final State of the Union address on Tuesday.
“As we focus on destroying ISIL (the Islamic State militants), over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands,” he said. “That’s the story ISIL wants to tell; that’s the kind of propaganda they use to recruit.
“We don’t need to build them up to show that we’re serious, nor do we need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is representative of one of the world’s largest religions. We just need to call them what they are — killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down and destroyed.”
The U.S.-led coalition of more than 60 countries has conducted nearly 10,000 airstrikes on Islamic State targets, including oil facilities, training camps and weapons, said President Obama. And the U.S. is supporting fighters and militaries that are standing up to the terrorist group.
Like last year, he called on Congress to pass the authorization of military force against the Islamic State group. “Take a vote,” he said.
But “even without ISIL, instability will continue for decades in many parts of the world — in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in parts of Central America, Africa and Asia,” said the president. “Some of these places may become safe havens for new terrorist networks; others will fall victim to ethnic conflict, or famine, feeding the next wave of refugees.”
To address global problems, he urged a coalition-style approach, like the one taken in Syria, to ensure “other countries pull their own weight.” Collaboration helped with the Iran nuclear deal, the Ebola fight in West Africa and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, he added.
President Obama urged Congress to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership: “You want to show our strength in this century? Approve this agreement. Give us the tools to enforce it.” And lift the trade embargo on Cuba, he instructed Congress: “Recognize that the Cold War is over.”
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In his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called attention to recent rhetoric that targets people’s race or religion. “This isn’t a matter of political correctness” he said.
The president went on to call out politicians who insult Muslims.
“When politicians insult Muslims, whether abroad or our fellow citizens… when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer.”
A Syrian scientist stricken with cancer and seeking a new start for his family in Michigan represented Syrian refugees as a guest of first lady Michelle Obama.
Refaai Hamo, his son and three daughters landed at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in December, anxious to rebuild their lives. Hamo fled to Turkey from Syria after a missile attack killed his wife and one other daughter. He was profiled on the popular photo blog Humans of New York as “The Scientist.”
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(As prepared for delivery)
GOV. NIKKI HALEY, R-S.C.: Good evening.
I’m Nikki Haley, Governor of the great state of South Carolina.
I’m speaking tonight from Columbia, our state’s capital city. Much like America as a whole, ours is a state with a rich and complicated history, one that proves the idea that each day can be better than the last.
In just a minute, I’m going to talk about a vision of a brighter American future. But first I want to say a few words about President Obama, who just gave his final State of the Union address.
Barack Obama’s election as president seven years ago broke historic barriers and inspired millions of Americans. As he did when he first ran for office, tonight President Obama spoke eloquently about grand things. He is at his best when he does that.
Unfortunately, the President’s record has often fallen far short of his soaring words.
As he enters his final year in office, many Americans are still feeling the squeeze of an economy too weak to raise income levels. We’re feeling a crushing national debt, a health care plan that has made insurance less affordable and doctors less available, and chaotic unrest in many of our cities.
Even worse, we are facing the most dangerous terrorist threat our nation has seen since September 11th, and this president appears either unwilling or unable to deal with it.
Soon, the Obama presidency will end, and America will have the chance to turn in a new direction. That direction is what I want to talk about tonight.
At the outset, I’ll say this: you’ve paid attention to what has been happening in Washington, and you’re not naive.
Neither am I. I see what you see. And many of your frustrations are my frustrations.
A frustration with a government that has grown day after day, year after year, yet doesn’t serve us any better. A frustration with the same, endless conversations we hear over and over again. A frustration with promises made and never kept.
We need to be honest with each other, and with ourselves: while Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today, they do not bear it alone. There is more than enough blame to go around.
We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership. We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken.
And then we need to fix it.
The foundation that has made America that last, best hope on earth hasn’t gone anywhere. It still exists. It is up to us to return to it.
For me, that starts right where it always has: I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants who reminded my brothers, my sister and me every day how blessed we were to live in this country.
Growing up in the rural south, my family didn’t look like our neighbors, and we didn’t have much. There were times that were tough, but we had each other, and we had the opportunity to do anything, to be anything, as long as we were willing to work for it.
My story is really not much different from millions of other Americans. Immigrants have been coming to our shores for generations to live the dream that is America. They wanted better for their children than for themselves. That remains the dream of all of us, and in this country we have seen time and again that that dream is achievable.
Today, we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory. During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.
No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.
At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. We can’t do that. We cannot continue to allow immigrants to come here illegally. And in this age of terrorism, we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined.
We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries.
I have no doubt that if we act with proper focus, we can protect our borders, our sovereignty and our citizens, all while remaining true to America’s noblest legacies.
This past summer, South Carolina was dealt a tragic blow. On an otherwise ordinary Wednesday evening in June, at the historic Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, twelve faithful men and women, young and old, went to Bible study.
That night, someone new joined them. He didn’t look like them, didn’t act like them, didn’t sound like them. They didn’t throw him out. They didn’t call the police. Instead, they pulled up a chair and prayed with him. For an hour.
We lost nine incredible souls that night.
What happened after the tragedy is worth pausing to think about.
Our state was struck with shock, pain, and fear. But our people would not allow hate to win. We didn’t have violence, we had vigils. We didn’t have riots, we had hugs.
We didn’t turn against each other’s race or religion. We turned toward God, and to the values that have long made our country the freest and greatest in the world.
We removed a symbol that was being used to divide us, and we found a strength that united us against a domestic terrorist and the hate that filled him.
There’s an important lesson in this. In many parts of society today, whether in popular culture, academia, the media, or politics, there’s a tendency to falsely equate noise with results.
Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.
Of course that doesn’t mean we won’t have strong disagreements. We will. And as we usher in this new era, Republicans will stand up for our beliefs.
If we held the White House, taxes would be lower for working families, and we’d put the brakes on runaway spending and debt.
We would encourage American innovation and success instead of demonizing them, so our economy would truly soar and good jobs would be available across our country.
We would reform education so it worked best for students, parents, and teachers, not Washington bureaucrats and union bosses.
We would end a disastrous health care program, and replace it with reforms that lowered costs and actually let you keep your doctor.
We would respect differences in modern families, but we would also insist on respect for religious liberty as a cornerstone of our democracy.
We would recognize the importance of the separation of powers and honor the Constitution in its entirety. And yes, that includes the Second and Tenth Amendments.
We would make international agreements that were celebrated in Israel and protested in Iran, not the other way around.
And rather than just thanking our brave men and women in uniform, we would actually strengthen our military, so both our friends and our enemies would know that America seeks peace, but when we fight wars we win them.
We have big decisions to make. Our country is being tested.
But we’ve been tested in the past, and our people have always risen to the challenge. We have all the guidance we need to be safe and successful.
Our forefathers paved the way for us.
Let’s take their values, and their strengths, and rededicate ourselves to doing whatever it takes to keep America the greatest country in the history of man. And woman.
Thank you, good night, and God bless.
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Calling December’s bipartisan reform of No Child Left Behind an “important step” in better preparing American students for the workforce, President Barack Obama said he will push for more college affordability in his final year in office.
In his final State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama acknowledged the heavy burden of student loans for American students and his efforts to reduce loan payments from 15 percent to 10 percent of a borrower’s income. He also promised to work on making it easier for students to avoid college loan debt in the first place.
“Providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that, and I’m going to keep fighting to get that started this year,” the president said.
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In his final State of the Union Address Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced a new national effort to cure cancer, and charged Vice President Joe Biden with leading it.
“Because (Biden has) gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past forty years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control,” said President Obama.
The Vice President’s commitment to fighting cancer became known during his Rose Garden speech in October, during which he announced he wouldn’t be running for President. Seeking a cure for cancer became one of his main priorities after the disease took his son Beau’s life in May.
In a Medium post posted Tuesday night, the Vice President outlined his “moonshot” to cure cancer.
“It’s personal for me,” said Vice President Biden. “But it’s also personal for nearly every American, and millions of people around the world.”
The Vice President plans to do two things while working on this initiative: increase public and private resources to fight cancer and revolutionize the way information on cancer is shared.
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