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- 01/15/16--13:47: _Age discrimination ...
- 01/15/16--14:13: _Being social may be...
- 01/15/16--15:20: _Library lets you ch...
- 01/15/16--15:25: _In ‘Mercy Street,’ ...
- 01/15/16--15:30: _How Silicon Valley ...
- 01/15/16--15:35: _Shields and Brooks ...
- 01/15/16--15:40: _Iowa looming, GOP c...
- 01/15/16--15:45: _What plummeting oil...
- 01/15/16--15:50: _News Wrap: Obama ad...
- 01/16/16--09:26: _Obama proposes plan...
- 01/16/16--10:44: _Post reporter, 3 ot...
- 01/16/16--11:25: _Massive titanosaur,...
- 01/16/16--12:53: _Senate to consider ...
- 01/16/16--13:30: _How NYC is tackling...
- 01/16/16--13:43: _Iran meets commitme...
- 01/16/16--15:24: _Analysis: Prisoner ...
- 01/16/16--15:56: _Tech giant Google w...
- 01/16/16--16:19: _GOP candidates laud...
- 01/16/16--16:21: _Inside the prison s...
- 01/17/16--09:25: _Happy birthday, Mic...
- 01/15/16--13:47: Age discrimination in the workplace starts as early as 35
- 01/15/16--14:13: Being social may be good for your gut
- 01/15/16--15:20: Library lets you check out a millennium of images
- 01/15/16--15:25: In ‘Mercy Street,’ Civil War trauma meets modern medical drama
- 01/15/16--15:30: How Silicon Valley is trying to fix its diversity problem
- 01/15/16--15:35: Shields and Brooks on Trump vs. Cruz, Clinton’s concern over Sanders
- 01/15/16--15:40: Iowa looming, GOP candidates go on the attack in debate
- 01/15/16--15:45: What plummeting oil prices mean for the U.S. stock market
- 01/15/16--15:50: News Wrap: Obama administration puts pause on new coal leases
- 01/16/16--09:26: Obama proposes plan to offer more security to the unemployed
- 01/16/16--10:44: Post reporter, 3 other Americans released in prison swap with Iran
- 01/16/16--12:53: Senate to consider bill on screening procedures for refugees
- 01/16/16--13:43: Iran meets commitments for landmark nuclear deal, sanctions lifted
- 01/16/16--15:24: Analysis: Prisoner release puts GOP in difficult position on Iran
- 01/16/16--15:56: Tech giant Google working to diversify staff
- 01/16/16--16:19: GOP candidates laud prisoner release, but criticize Obama on Iran
- 01/17/16--09:25: Happy birthday, Michelle! First lady turns 52
Editor’s Note: Older women workers now make up half of the long-term unemployed. What is a older woman to do?
For PBS NewsHour’s latest Making Sen$e report, economics correspondent Paul Solman spoke with economist Joanna Lahey, an expert on age discrimination and the relationship between age and labor market outcomes, about the difficulty “older” women face during the job search. Lahey also offered practical advice on what these job seekers can do to get hired.
— Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor[Watch Video]
Paul Solman: Are older women discriminated against in the workforce?
Joanna Lahey: Yes. Older women are discriminated against in the workforce. We know this to be the case for entry-level jobs at least. I have two studies, one that’s a field experiment that I did during the last recession where I sent out about 8,000 resumes — 4,000 in Boston, Massachusetts and 4,000 in St. Petersburg, Florida. I found that younger workers were about 40 percent more likely to be called back for an interview for these entry-level jobs than older workers.
Paul Solman: What ages are we talking about?
Joanna Lahey: We’re talking about age 35 to 65, 70.
Paul Solman: And when does age discrimination start?
Joanna Lahey: Immediately. It starts at age 35.
Paul Solman: Really!?
Joanna Lahey: Yeah. It’s a pretty steady process. As you get older, your amount of callbacks decrease.
Why are older women being discriminated against?
Joanna Lahey: There are a number of different potential reasons. There have been several studies done where companies are asked, “Well, why do you think other people might discriminate against older workers?”
And reasons given include worries that they’re not good at technology, that they don’t have computer skills. There’s worries that they’re not active, that they’re slow, that they’re not willing to embrace change. There’s worries that they’re just going to leave.
Paul Solman: Because how much longer are they going to work?
Joanna Lahey: Absolutely. And a number of these are actually not true. Another reason is that they might have longer absences. Or they might be more likely to be absent, because they’re sick. It’s not true, but that’s something that people think. And another one is that they’re afraid of getting sued for age discrimination.
It isn’t very easy to sue at the hiring margin, because nobody knows that they’re being discriminated against. They don’t know why they didn’t get offered the job. But it’s a lot more obvious when you’re discriminated against when you’re fired. And so it’s much more dangerous for employers to hire someone that might be in one of these protected groups.
But age discrimination laws cannot explain what’s happening to women. Such laws don’t seem to affect women.
Paul Solman: Why?
Joanna Lahey: Well, we don’t know for sure, but my guess, based on reading what lawyers in the field have written, is that older women just don’t sue. They historically have not sued under the Age Discrimination and Employment Act. That’s less true now than it used to be.
Historically, the people who sued under the Age Discrimination and Employment Act were people who had a lot to lose, and the people who had a lot to lose were generally white, middle managers in their 50s, who were losing their job and were losing a pension, because they hadn’t quite vested their pension. They were very close to vesting their pension, and they hadn’t vested their pension yet. Lawsuits are not fun. You don’t want to do a lawsuit. And the Age Discrimination and Employment Act is a little bit different than the Civil Rights Act in how it awards damages. And so if you’re suing under the Age Discrimination and Employment Act, it has to be worthwhile. And it’s really only going to be worthwhile, historically, for the people who have a lot to lose, which are these white, male, middle managers. Historically, women just haven’t had the kind of jobs where it would be worthwhile for them to take up a lawsuit rather than trying to find another job.
What not to put on your resume
Joanna Lahey: “I’m willing to embrace change” is something that the AARP used to recommend that you put on your resume but stopped recommending.
Paul Solman: Because it didn’t work?
Joanna Lahey: Well, my first study found that it actually hurt older people.
Paul Solman: Really?
Joanna Lahey: So the AARP told people to put in “I’m flexible,” or “I’m willing to embrace change.” It was one of the recommendations for how to counteract this stereotype. But it actually didn’t seem to be a very good idea. Older people who used to put that on their resume got fewer callbacks than younger people who put that on their resume.
What you can do to get hired
Paul Solman: So an older women — that is, older than 35 — what can she do about it?
Joanna Lahey: Well, she can definitely show that she’s active. She shouldn’t just say that she’s active on the resume, she should actually do things that show that she’s active. So she should volunteer. She should take classes —
Paul Solman: This is like getting into college!
Joanna Lahey: It’s very much like getting into a college. There are a lot of similarities for older people who are trying to get into these entry-level kinds of jobs as there are for these younger people who are getting into these entry-level jobs. You’re trying to prove yourself, you’re trying to show that you actually do things.
So she should volunteer, she should update her skills, and she should take classes —
Paul Solman: At a community college?
Joanna Lahey: At a community college would be great! Or there’s various job placement centers like Manpower. They have computer classes that will help you get your skills up to date.
And those are things that show that you’re active, that show that you know how to do things. Rather than just saying something like, “I’m flexible,” or “I’m willing to embrace change,” which don’t seem to help very much.
Paul Solman: And you don’t know if this is true of more sophisticated jobs?
Joanna Lahey: The economics community as a whole has really not studied more sophisticated jobs very much. So we don’t have much to recommend for people who are trying to get the next managerial job or trying to become a CEO of a new company. In terms of age discrimination and so on, that’s just a total black box to us. We just don’t know.
The post Age discrimination in the workplace starts as early as 35 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Your friend circle may share more than just secrets. Social life diversifies the composition of microbes living in the gut, according to new study of chimpanzees. If this primate pattern holds true in humans, then your tummy and health may get by with a little help from your friends.
“The more diverse people’s microbiomes are, the more resistant they seem to be to opportunistic infections,” University of California integrative biologist and study co-author Andrew Moeller said in a statement.
Germ swapping between animals isn’t new. Humans and their dogs share skin microbes. Baboon tribes can be identified by their gut microbiomes — the collective germ population in their stomachs. And people walk the Earth immersed in a cloud of skin and fart bacteria, so it’s easy to imagine the intermingling of bacteria between individuals.
These microbial meetups shape the gut for generations, according to Moeller’s new findings.
He and colleagues at Duke University and University of Texas at Austin spent eight years tracking 40 Kasekela chimpanzees living in Gombe National Park in Tanzania. During the dry seasons, the chimps are solitary or forage in small groups, but when the rainy season hits, they form larger social networks to find food.
To monitor the gut health of the primates, the researchers monitored the chimps throughout the wet and dry seasons. The scientists would wait for the chimps to “use the bathroom” and then collect a fecal sample. The team also conducted DNA analysis to make sure the samples consistently came from the same individuals.
They found that when chimps became more social during the wet season, the microbiomes of individual chimps began to resemble each other. Diet can alter the gut microbiome, so you might think that this convergence happened because the social groups were more likely to share food. But diet didn’t correlate with the makeup of microbes in these chimps.
This result suggested the similarities in stomachs depended on the fraternity and sorority of the chimps. Moreover, chimps with richer social lives had a richer composition or diversity of gut microbes, which may be good for their immune systems, though the study didn’t examine this point.
One more thing: newborn chimpanzees seem to inherit the social community of germs. Both baby chimps and baby humans inherit gut microbes from their mothers. But Moeller and company found that germ communities were similar between kin and unrelated individuals.
This inheritance of social structure may be the key to maintaining the gut health of chimpanzees as a species, the authors write in their study in Science Advances, though further research is needed to see how these trends apply to humans.
In our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: the launch of a new series on PBS, its first original American drama in more than a decade.
Jeffrey Brown visited the set of “Mercy Street” in Richmond, Virginia, and has this preview.
JEFFREY BROWN: Spring 1862: The carnage on the Civil War goes on, and some of the wounded and dying are brought here to Mansion House Hospital.
ACTOR: Ah. You must be the new nurse. I am Dr. Hale, chief operating surgeon.
JEFFREY BROWN: “Mercy Street” is a dramatized account based on memoirs and letters of doctors and nurses who served at a Union facility that also took in a handful of Confederate soldiers.
The real Mansion House, a one-time luxury hotel transformed into an Army hospital, was in Alexandria, Virginia, just south of Washington. The series was filmed further south in Petersburg, Virginia, as well as in Richmond at a Civil War-period mansion, where we visited last summer as shooting was wrapping up.
Josh Radnor plays Jedediah Foster, a civilian surgeon now caught up in the pain, frustrations and blood of the war.
JOSH RADNOR, “Dr. Jedediah Foster”: Be prepared. This may bleed a bit.
JOSH RADNOR: It’s life and death in a hospital. Plus, you throw the Civil War on top of it, you have got pretty much the most dramatic situation you could ever imagine.
There’s this feeling that it’s entirely grounded in its time and place, and, at the same time, it feels modern and urgent and vital. It feels like you’re walking into this, like, bustling, alive, relatable story with people that you recognize somehow.
ACTOR: This is what happens to traitors.
JEFFREY BROWN: Alexandria was the only Confederate town occupied by the Union for all four years of the war, and much of the drama here involves the interaction of Northerners and Southerners.
They’re enemies, but also at times forced to work side by side, as with two volunteer nurses, one a staunch New England abolitionist, the other an inexperienced young woman whose life has been upended by occupation.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays the Northerner Mary Phinney.
MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD, “Mary Phinney”: Both feel very passionately about what they believe in, but, as the series goes on, you kind of see the complexities in who they both are, and they find ways to connect, even though they have such differing views on such very big, big issues. They see the humanity in one another and are able to kind of to work alongside each other.
JEFFREY BROWN: Ridley Scott served as executive producer of the series. It was created and written by David Zabel and Lisa Wolfinger, he known for his work writing and overseeing the hit network drama “ER,” she a veteran writer and producer of films and TV programs.
LISA WOLFINGER, Producer, “Mercy Street”: I thought, well, maybe, maybe we can find a new way to tell an old story. And it hit me that nobody has ever really explored the medical side of it. We kind of like to think of this show as “Gone With the Wind” meets “MASH.”
DAVID ZABEL, Producer, “Mercy Street”: We wanted to find a way to find the drama in the medical. How do we tell the story of medical advances during the Civil War, but infuse it with drama? And Alexandria, Virginia, became this great window into all — a whole bunch of different aspects of the war and all kinds of different characters.
It really became much more of a family saga combined with a medical drama combined with sort of a wartime epic.
JEFFREY BROWN: One of the most complex and moving stories in “Mercy Street” is that of Samuel Diggs, a free black working as a orderly in the hospital.
He’d grown up a servant in the home of a Philadelphia doctor and, unbeknownst to the Mansion House staff, had learned a great deal about medical practice. As the story unfolds, he gets the chance to do work otherwise denied him in a segregated society.
I’m talking to a man with a lot of blood on his sleeve.
MCKINLEY BELCHER III, “Samuel Diggs”: Yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well-earned?
MCKINLEY BELCHER III: Well-earned. This is actually the blood of my love on my sleeves.
JEFFREY BROWN: The blood of your love?
MCKINLEY BELCHER III: Yes, the blood of my love.
We did a scene yesterday, all yesterday, that we were sort of operating on her, so, yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: Actor McKinley Belcher III told us this role had special meaning for him.
MCKINLEY BELCHER III: I think, for Samuel, that how strongly he feels about being a doctor and being involved in the medical world is something that’s sort of at the forefront of his mind all the time.
I’m playing a young man who is single-minded, in many ways a positive image of a young black man, and who is career-oriented, has integrity, and a sort of quiet strength about him. It makes me really proud to put that out in the world. And I think, in some ways, as an artist, I have to be responsible for the images I portray and for the truth I put out in the world. And I’m proud of this one.
JEFFREY BROWN: The producers also clearly took some pride in the series’ authenticity. A Civil War hospital was no setting for the squeamish. Amputations were performed numerous times each day with minimal or no anesthesia.
We’re standing in front of a pretty bloody scene, right, at least fake blood.
Surgeon and medical historian Stanley Burns served as consultant to the series.
DR. STANLEY BURNS, Medical Historian: This is a capital operating kit. This is what a surgeon used during the war. And there were several of them at each regiment. For instance, we show in one of the scenes — let me take this out — they’re still sharp and problematical.
And so, this is a capital amputation saw. They actually took the saw, you see, around the arm, and then, in one fell swoop, cut it off.
JEFFREY BROWN: That’s how you do it, yes.
DR. STANLEY BURNS: The whole amputation, if the surgeons were slow, it would take five minutes, but a good, experienced surgeon could do it, complete an amputation in two minutes.
JEFFREY BROWN: Series creators Wolfinger and Zabel say they worked hard for realism and were happy PBS embraced it.
LISA WOLFINGER: PBS was such a natural home for it, and I think in many ways we designed it for PBS.
DAVID ZABEL: If we tried to tell this story in a lot of other places, there would be a lot more pressure to, I think, stray, stray from the facts, from the history.
JEFFREY BROWN: It’s a view of history not from the battlefield, but through the lives of those trying to heal its victims.
The six-part miniseries “Mercy Street” premieres Sunday night.
From Richmond, Virginia, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the “PBS NewsHour.”
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can stream the first episode of “Mercy Street” online right now about PBS.org. And the broadcast premiere is Sunday on most PBS stations.
The post In ‘Mercy Street,’ Civil War trauma meets modern medical drama appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Silicon Valley, the home of the California tech industry, has long been criticized for its lack of diversity. Almost two years after major companies, led by Google and Intel, started to publicize their diversity numbers, the ethnic and gender makeup of the industry’s work force remains almost the same.
Analysis of employees at the leading tech firms that report such figures reveals, on average, 71 percent are men, 29 percent are women, 60 percent identify as white, 23 percent Asian, 8 percent Latino, and 7 percent black.
So, what exactly is Silicon Valley doing to improve its diversity?
Hari Sreenivasan takes a look in the first of two stories.
JOELLE EMERSON, CEO, Paradigm: Raise your hand if you have heard of unconscious bias before?
HARI SREENIVASAN: The notion that hidden bias can be methodically stamped out of the workplace has become popular with tech companies across Silicon Valley.
JOELLE EMERSON: By managing unconscious bias, we make better decisions. So, unconscious bias acts as a significant barrier to objective, data-driven decision making.
HARI SREENIVASAN: That was the message being delivered by Joelle Emerson, a former sexual harassment litigator who now spends most of her time helping multibillion-dollar start-ups diversify their work forces.
JOELLE EMERSON: We think that if you can get this right early, you’re going to much more successfully, more organically grow as an inclusive company, rather than starting when you’re so far down the line.
If the word is associated with female, I want you to raise your right hand and say the word right.
HARI SREENIVASAN: On this day, Emerson is conducting a workshop at Slack, a $2.8 billion start-up just named company of the year by “Inc.” magazine. Even though his company is still young, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield is still playing a little catchup.
STEWART BUTTERFIELD, CEO, Slack: We didn’t get started in the beginning, right? This company was co-founded by four white men. But it was something that became apparent as a priority to us when we were relatively small, you know, about 30 or 40 people.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Known for its workplace communication app, Slack is regarded as one of the hottest and fastest growing tech start-ups.
STEWART BUTTERFIELD: We are growing incredibly quickly. I mean, we have to do a lot of hiring, which means that there’s a lot of positions that need to get filled. Every week, there’s new people starting. Every week, there’s open roles.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And when there’s rapid growth, a natural inclination is to recruit from familiar networks.
Senior engineer Erica Baker says that’s at the core of tech’s diversity problem.
ERICA BAKER, Engineer, Slack: There’s a lot of focus put on, like, hiring people you know, who you’re comfortable with or whatever. And a lot of people who get into Silicon Valley come from backgrounds that are predominantly white, and so they hire the people that they know, who are predominantly white, and it’s cyclical. It will take someone, like, stopping that cycle purposefully to fix it.
ANNE TOTH, VP of People & Policy, Slack: We’re going to be hiring a lot of people next year.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Slack’s vice president for people and policy, Anne Toth, says she’s working hard to break that cycle.
ANNE TOTH: One of the things I’m trying to do here, early stage, is build the type of tools from the outset that allow us to look at the data in real time and make adjustments as we go. Are we promoting women and people of color at the same rate? Are we retaining them at the same rate? Are we paying them equitably? Are they as engaged as other employees across the board?
HARI SREENIVASAN: On the day we visited, Toth and diversity consultant Joelle Emerson were reviewing questions with a group of hiring managers
JOELLE EMERSON: Where we often go wrong is that we ask questions that produce answers that cannot be objectively evaluated, that almost force us to draw on unconscious biases, on subjectivity, on our own beliefs about the world to evaluate the candidate’s answer.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The goal, to eliminate any potential bias that might unfairly favor one type of applicant over another.
WOMAN: What do you do for fun? What do you think of that question?
WOMAN: We want to know more about who you are, not just what you do for work.
JOELLE EMERSON: We don’t want to take the humanity out of this process, but it really isn’t relevant to your ability to do work here, what you do for fun. And what if what you do for fun is different than what the person who happens to be interviewing you does for fun, that can be really challenging. What if my answer is, I don’t have a whole lot of time for a lot of fun, I have two kids right now that are infants, and mostly my spare time is spent taking care of them?
HARI SREENIVASAN: Despite these efforts, Slack’s diversity numbers are still not dramatically different from the industry. Seventy percent of its employees are white, and 61 percent are men.
But CEO Stewart Butterfield says there are some encouraging trends.
STEWART BUTTERFIELD: Forty-one percent of employees at Slack report to a woman; 45 percent of the managers and executives are women. So, that’s definitely better than the industry average.
HARI SREENIVASAN: For Erica Baker, an African-American engineer, diversity is about race, as well as gender.
ERICA BAKER: Right now, it seems like, in the industry, that diversity is code for hire more women. That is what diversity has become. And it’s not great, because the demographics of the industry, usually, it skews to more white women.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But Baker says she is encouraged by the direction Slack is heading. Seven percent of the company’s engineers are African-American. Compare that with the industry average of 1 percent to 2 percent.
To change the demographics of an industry takes time, and one long-term effort involves encouraging more women and people of color to study engineering. Many companies are now sponsoring training for high school and college students like this code camp hosted by the mobile payment firm Square.
JACK DORSEY, CEO, Square: One of the things I have always loved about programming and computer science is that you can truly build something from scratch.
HARI SREENIVASAN: While CEO Jack Dorsey has not yet publicized square’s diversity figures, his executive team includes several women in key roles, like chief financial officer and head of engineering.
VANESSA SLAVICH, Diversity & Inclusion Lead, Square: At Square, we started at the top. So, our board of directors is really diverse. They’re driving the company. You move down to our executive team, four out nine of the people who report to Jack are CEO-quality women who are running a majority of the company.
And so, if we can prioritize from the top, from our board to the executive team, inevitably, it will trickle down.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Vanessa Slavich, diversity lead at Square, says the company is constantly on the lookout for tools that will help widen the pool of prospective employees.
VANESSA SLAVICH: So, here, we have a job description for our data scientist team.
HARI SREENIVASAN: One such tool is Textio. The software uses a form of artificial intelligence to detect bias in the job descriptions.
VANESSA SLAVICH: This is the before copy.
HARI SREENIVASAN: On a scale of one to 100, it scores 47. Phrases like rapidly growing are regarded as inclusive, builds relationships feminine, and words like relentlessly masculine. Once all the changes are made, the newly revised job description scores a 95.
VANESSA SLAVICH: We did a small anonymous test with our job descriptions before and after, and they doubled in applications for both men and women.
HARI SREENIVASAN: While such efforts can widen the pool of candidates, Slack’s Erica Baker says real, lasting change will require a cultural shift in the workplace, taking people beyond their comfort zones.
ERICA BAKER: People should know that you’re going to feel weird about talking about race. Just like sit with it and, like, then move past it. But it’s going to get uncomfortable. And I think people shy away from talking about those sorts of things because it is uncomfortable.
But I think that we need to get to the uncomfortable spaces to make good progress.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Progress will likely take time, especially with older and larger companies.
In our next story, we visit Google to see how the tech giant is trying to make its culture more inclusive.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Hari Sreenivasan.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Part two of Hari’s look at diversity in Silicon Valley airs tomorrow on “PBS NewsHour Weekend.”
The post How Silicon Valley is trying to fix its diversity problem appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And with that backdrop, it’s the perfect time to turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.
That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, what do you make of that debate last night?
MARK SHIELDS: Trump, Cruz, I think that no question about it.
I think, more than anything else, what I got was a sense of how dominant Donald Trump has been in setting the terms of the debate in both parties in 2016. I mean, candidates in both parties — maybe not Bernie Sanders, but virtually everybody else — is responding to or reacting to.
I mean, we saw Marco Rubio doing sort of a feisty, aggressive, not a knock-off Donald Trump, but sort of a variation of it — that and Ted Cruz’s first unforced error of the season by his New York, New York. He gave…
MARK SHIELDS: Pardon me.
He gave Trump — I apologize — a great opening, which he took advantage of.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Why don’t you take a sip of water?
And let me turn to David.
Do you have the same impression from…
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I’m sort of cross-pressured on that. I’m an American citizen born in Canada, like Cruz, but I’m from New York, so I have got New York values.
DAVID BROOKS: So, I don’t know who to dislike more.
DAVID BROOKS: But it is a Cruz-Trump show right now. And, to me, the paradox is that I thought Cruz won the debate, just had better debating points.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You did? You did?
DAVID BROOKS: I thought he was — on some of the stuff, on the birther stuff, I thought he’s just more forceful. He’s more skillful as a debater.
But, as Mark said, Trump dominates the discussion, and so he’s the central figure. Cruz may beat him, but Trump is still the story. And if you’re looking for a strong leader, which apparently — the Republican Party apparently is, well, Trump is still the main arena. And so he can afford to lose a debate and still come out ahead. And that’s where I think we are right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, where is that — where does that translate into, though, Mark? Where does that leave this race? Does it mean it’s down to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, all the numbers in Iowa suggests it’s the two of them, and with Marco Rubio nipping at the heels and Ben Carson sort of fading in fourth or somewhere.
As an example of Trump, let me just give you what I thought was — it was a brilliant formulation he did on the birther issue. He did the birther issue against President Obama, you will recall. He had his people in Hawaii who had uncovered all of this information, which turned out to be totally bogus, as so much of the charges and allegations always have been.
But what he did with Cruz was — on the birther issue wasn’t that he was born in Calgary, in Alberta, Canada, but that he’s putting the party at risk by opening himself up to a legal suit. And…
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, if I made him my vice presidential…
MARK SHIELDS: Yes, even if I made him my vice president.
So, all of a sudden, he puts Cruz on the defensive of trying to prove a negative. It really is — it’s shrewd.
At the same time, Judy, I do want to give a shout-out, quite bluntly, to Jeb Bush. He demonstrated character. He’s demonstrated character on the issue. And the Republicans, to a man, without Jeb Bush and without Lindsey Graham no longer in the race, and with the possible exception of John Kasich, quite frankly, but they were anti-Muslim.
I mean, they were bigoted and narrow-minded and intolerant.
JUDY WOODRUFF: When they were asked, would you keep Muslims out of the country?
MARK SHIELDS: And Jeb Bush pointed out, well, you are talking about Indonesia, you are talking about India, you are talking about the Kurds, you are talking about our friends. I mean, this is an absolutely irrational policy.
But, you know, but he stood alone, with the possible exception of Kasich.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, does that mean something, though, for Jeb Bush? Does it — does that translate into something for him?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, Jeb Bush is part of a large group of people who are like the team at halftime who — like the Republican establishment, who feel like they’re down 50 points and they have decided they’re going to lose the game.
And that’s how the Republican establishment is right now. They don’t believe that Ted Cruz or Donald Trump can win. They think it could imperil their majorities in Congress, and yet they’re doing nothing about it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But what could they do?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, I wish we had gray men in suits. We don’t have that.
But the donor class could do something. Frankly, the country is filled with state legislators who are Republicans, congressmen, senators, local committeemen, a lot of whom are in panic. And so maybe they should do something about it. Maybe they should have a MoveOn.org-type organization and get some rallying, which the other side has already done, and have a counterweight, so they don’t send the party into suicide.
And that might involve, not now, but after New Hampshire, winnowing the field, and donors and other people going and saying, we’re just going to pick this guy. We’re going to pick Rubio. I’m sorry, Jeb, you’re not going to be president. Christie, you can be secretary of treasury, but we’re going to get organized here and we’re not going to go quietly into the night.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, go back to some kind of smoke-filled room? I mean, is that…
DAVID BROOKS: I’m pro-conspiracy right now.
MARK SHIELDS: You think it’s that critical?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, you know, I’m sort of — I have no confidence in my judgment. I shouldn’t say that on TV.
DAVID BROOKS: Because…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark and I have confidence in your judgment.
DAVID BROOKS: Because I thought Trump would fade. And I still sort of think he will fade. But it’s not looking…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Sort of? You have backed…
DAVID BROOKS: I mean, it’s — right now, Trump and Cruz are both looking pretty good. And I don’t think either is electable, and neither do a lot of Republicans. And so the question is, why do they just sit there and do nothing?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, but, I mean, that — Mark, again, that raises the question. What about these other candidates? There is Rubio, there’s Christie, there’s Jeb Bush, there’s John Kasich.
Why are they having so much difficulty rising and getting critical mass?
MARK SHIELDS: I think they’re having sleepless nights trying to figure it out, Judy.
I mean, John Kasich insists on mentioning in every sentence that he served 18 years in the House of Representatives, which is a disqualification in the current climate. If you have spent more than two high school tours in Washington, that makes you morally suspect to these primary voters.
Jeb Bush, 75 percent of Republicans said as recently as last June that they could vote for Jeb Bush, see themselves voting for Jeb Bush for president in November. That’s down in the same Wall Street Journal/NBC poll out last night to 42 percent.
For some reason, you know, they’re visiting a wrath that they feel toward his brother. I mean, remember, the Tea Party was spawned at some degree in reaction to what they felt had been the — not the perfidiousness, but certainly the breaking with the conservative compact of the Bush years on immigration, on spending, on any number of issues.
And with the others, Christie is running a one-state campaign. I mean, he’s running in New Hampshire. If he were to do well, I don’t know where he goes from there.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Because he has to do well there.
MARK SHIELDS: He has to do well there.
So, that’s — Rubio is — you know, Rubio is everybody’s second choice. But he’s got to have a victory. And I don’t know where that is.
DAVID BROOKS: And I’m not sure he’s taking the right tack by trying to be Ted Cruz-lite.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: He’s darkened his tone. He’s gone on the attack on immigration and all the other stuff.
And, to me, you want to be the alternative. You don’t want — if you — if people want the Cruz mood, they are going to vote for Ted Cruz.
MARK SHIELDS: That’s exactly right.
DAVID BROOKS: And then Mark has made this point about other campaigns.
When A and B attack each other, sometimes, C benefits. But if it’s C, D, E, F, and G, it’s not going to benefit. So they got to have a C. And so I think a lot is going to happen. Iowa and New Hampshire, I do not think are going to decide this thing. We are going to go through a lot of states. So, a lot can happen down the road.
But, somehow, somebody has got to take some initiative if it’s not going to be Ted Cruz.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, meanwhile, over on the Democratic side, the Hillary Clinton camp is feeling some anxiety, Mark, over Bernie Sanders, who’s doing better in Iowa, has been doing well in New Hampshire.
We have seen a really interesting back and forth, I mean, her camp going after Sanders this week in a way they weren’t before.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes. It was kind of good old Bernie, until he became a threat. As Bernie rose in the polls, he became a more formidable adversary, but also a more menacing adversary.
The Clinton campaign this week, in perhaps the stupidest act of the entire year, took the one person who’s a character witness, who is a privileged observer of Hillary Clinton, who can testify about Hillary Clinton as a human being, as a mother, as a grandmother, as somebody who’s always been there, who’s been a force for decency in her life, who’s taught her and loved her, Chelsea Clinton, and turned her into a political hack.
I mean, it was just absolutely reckless and stupid. They neutralized the advantage and the value of Chelsea Clinton by turning her into an attack dog on a phony charge that Bernie Sanders, a supporter of single-payer national health insurance, is somehow going to dismantle children’s health and Medicare.
I mean, it was — it tells you how nervous, how dumb, what bad judgment there is in that campaign.
DAVID BROOKS: They’re worse on the attack. They’re worse on the counterattack.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: They tend to overreact.
And if I were Hillary Clinton, I would think, I may lose Iowa and New Hampshire, it’s possible, but I got a lot of big states with more diverse electorates. I’m still fine. And so don’t poison the brand.
And so I think they’re just getting too combative, overreacting and making it worse. Now, I understand why they’re concerned. There is a gigantic anti-establishment mood in both parties. I understand that. But there is — so far, there is little evidence that Sanders can translate early victories into victories in states, frankly, where there are more minority voters, more — more — frankly, more conventional and more representative of the country.
And she’s still sitting pretty in those states, and she should just let it be.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you think she should just relax and not worry about losing Iowa and New Hampshire?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, unless she can counterattack effectively, not with something that is plainly disingenuous.
If you’re going to hit a weak spot, Bernie Sanders’ weak spot is not that he is against health care for people who need health insurance.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes. Bernie Sanders, whatever else, you look at him, he’s not pretty. He’s not a backslapper.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, his wife would disagree.
MARK SHIELDS: No, no, but he’s not a storyteller. He’s not somebody you say, oh, gee, I want a cuddly Bernie, or, boy, he’s a well-polished guy.
He’s authentic. He’s absolutely authentic. And this attack was synthetic. It was fabricated. And I would say that there is a concern in the Clinton campaign. What you have got to do is somehow project her as a more likable person. This didn’t make her a more likable person or candidate.
And, Judy, nobody has been nominated in the modern era who lost both Iowa and New Hampshire.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Oh.
MARK SHIELDS: So, there’s a chemistry.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, maybe she shouldn’t relax about losing…
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, but this isn’t a normal year.
And — go ahead.
MARK SHIELDS: No, I just think that momentum could be dangerous, and especially how you lose them.
If you lose them looking mean-spirited and small-minded, it can’t be helpful in Nevada.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. In some sense, I almost feel like the big question is not day to day. It’s how deep is the disgust in the country. It’s the tectonic question.
And if the disgust in the country is — it’s certainly deeper than — we all knew it was there. But there is a level of anger which is not only there, but building. And I think events are building it, even the attacks on Cologne, especially on the Republican side, building that anger. And that could sweep away the — all the establishment candidates.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, on that note…
JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks and Mark Shields, thank you both.
MARK SHIELDS: Thanks. Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you.
The post Shields and Brooks on Trump vs. Cruz, Clinton’s concern over Sanders appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Republican presidential candidates returned to the campaign trail today after squaring off last night on a debate stage in South Carolina.
Front-runners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz dominated the event, while the rest of the field continue to try to keep pace.
NewsHour correspondent William Brangham reports.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: My friend Donald said that he had had his lawyers look at this from every which way, and there was no issue there.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The issue is Ted Cruz’s eligibility to run for the presidency. And Donald is Donald Trump, who’s been highlighting the fact that Cruz was born to an American mother, but in Canada. Early on, the issue ignited a testy exchange between the two candidates leading the Republican field in Iowa.
SEN. TED CRUZ: I recognize that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are falling in Iowa. But the facts and the law here are really quite clear. Under longstanding U.S. law, the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural-born citizen.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Trump, in turn, insisted the issue would hang over his rival’s head until it’s put to rest.
DONALD TRUMP, Republican Presidential Candidate: And if you become the nominee, who the hell knows if you can even serve in office? So you should go out, get a declaratory judgment, let the courts decide.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That set the tone for a rough-and-tumble evening, and the candidates got into it again over the Texas senator’s statements that Trump embodies — quote — “New York values.”
SEN. TED CRUZ: And listen, there are many, many wonderful, wonderful working men and women in the state of New York. But everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro-gay-marriage, focus around money and the media.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Trump answered that with a spirited defense of his hometown, harking back to the days after 9/11.
DONALD TRUMP: And we rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers. And I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But it wasn’t just a two-man show. Cruz took aim at Florida Senator Marco Rubio for his involvement in a 2013 immigration reform compromise.
SEN. TED CRUZ: It is also the case that that Rubio-Schumer amnesty bill, one of the things it did is it expanded Barack Obama’s power to let in Syrian refugees. It enabled hi, the president, to certify them en masse without mandating meaningful background checks.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Rubio counterattacked with a charge that Cruz himself has gone back and forth on a number of issues.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Republican Presidential Candidate: Ted Cruz, you used to say you supported doubling the number of green cards. Now you say that you’re against it. You used to support a 500 percent increase in the number of guest workers. Now you say that you’re against it.
I saw you on the Senate floor flip your vote on crop insurance because they told you it would help you in Iowa, and last week, we all saw you flip your vote on ethanol in Iowa for the same reason.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Rubio also sought to take down New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a rival for support of the party’s so-called establishment wing, by painting his record as liberal.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Governor Christie has endorsed many of the ideas that Barack Obama supports, whether it is Common Core or gun control or the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor or the donation he made to Planned Parenthood.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Christie, in turn, dismissed the jibe as all politics, and no principle.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), Republican Presidential Candidate: Two years ago, he called me a conservative reformer that New Jersey needed. That was before he was running against me. Now that he is, he’s changed his tune.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But Rubio and Christie saved their toughest words for the president, hammering away all evening.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: Mr. President, we’re not against you. We’re against your policies. And we are going to kick your rear end out of the White House come this fall.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Ohio Governor John Kasich and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush also kept most of their fire trained on the White House. And Bush emerged today with a high-profile endorsement from South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who recently gave up his own presidential bid. The South Carolina primary is February 20.
First, though, the Republicans enter the home stretch in Iowa and New Hampshire. Their next debate will be in Iowa on January 28, the Thursday before the caucuses.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m William Brangham.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: the market plunge that is sweeping across stock exchanges from Asia to Europe to New York.
It has been relentless since the year began, and today was no different. The closing bell on Wall Street signaled the end to a turbulent day and a tough week for markets worldwide. Fueling the sell orders, another plunge on China’s Shanghai Composite Stock Index. It’s down 18 percent since the year began, as worries about the Chinese economy mount.
And plummeting oil prices are dragging down energy company stocks and the broader market.
In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said U.S. officials are closely monitoring the global sell-off.
JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: There’s no denying that weakness in other markets with whom we do extensive business is going to be a headwind for the U.S. economy. We’re mindful of that, particularly as the international economy becomes more integrated, and we have to be sensitive to movements that we see in the economies of other countries.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. market was also hurt by disappointing reports on several major economic indicators. Industrial production fell for a third straight month in December. And retail sales unexpectedly dropped a 10th of a percent last month, partly because warmer weather hurt winter clothing sales.
For a closer look at the dramatic drops in both the stock market and world oil prices, we turn to Liz Ann Sonders. She’s chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab. And Bradley Olson, he’s national energy reporter for The Wall Street Journal.
And we welcome both of you to the program.
Liz Ann Sonders, what is behind this volatility today in the market?
LIZ ANN SONDERS, Charles Schwab: Many of the same things, actually, that contributed to the volatility that we saw last year.
You have touched on certainly oil, but it’s more broadly what’s happening in the commodity complex, and not just the huge plunge, in and of itself, but what that says about global growth. Of course, related to that is China, the weakness there, not only in its equity market, but its economy, its currency. That is tied into commodity prices.
And then even more importantly was the uncertainty regarding the Fed. We got past the uncertainty the defined 2015 in terms of will they, won’t they, and if they will, when? They got the first rate hike. Now it’s what are they going to do from here? Are they going to continue to raise interest rates? What will be the justification?
So, a lot of it really is unfinished business from 2015. It’s just conspired to occur in a condensed period of time, unfortunately, right at the beginning of the year, which I think adds to the angst for investors.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Liz Ann Sonders, staying with you, so is this the kind of anxiety that’s justified or is this something that has just gotten out of hand in the last few days?
LIZ ANN SONDERS: It’s really hard to say at this point. I would love to know where this correction stops right here. We do not think that this is the beginning of a big, nasty bear market, but it could get worse before it gets better.
I think investors have been fairly skittish really for much of this bull market all along. And when you get these bouts of volatility, particularly if it’s got some fairly dire news associated with it, we really hunker down much more quickly than we have in the past, because I think we really changed the psyche of a generation of investors, not only because of the severity of the financial crisis, but the fact it came within 10 years from the bear market that preceded it.
So, I think that explains why we see this sense of urgency and sometimes panic kick in so quickly in this environment.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Bradley Olson, let’s talk about the oil side of this. What is driving this continued drop in oil prices?
BRADLEY OLSON, The Wall Street Journal: Well, there are two main factors at play.
The first one is a little bit tied to what’s driving the falling stock markets worldwide, and that’s China. China’s sort of always been the golden goose when it comes to oil markets, particularly with demand. China’s about the second largest oil consumer in the world, and so whenever there are indications that the Chinese economy perhaps isn’t going to be as strong as people had expected, it causes a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to oil.
The second factor is Iran. The sanctions are about to be lifted that were imposed by the United States and the European Union, and once those sanctions are up, a lot of people anticipate a significant a amount of oil coming into the market from Iran, perhaps as many this year as 500,000 barrels of oil.
So, the market is already oversupplied, and you’re going to dump additional barrels into the market from Iran. And then you have problems or questions about demand that would have been able to bring up the price. So, there’s just a lot of indicators that are not positive at this time when it comes to the oil market.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, is it, though, expected that these countries are just going to continue to pump regardless of how low the price is going?
BRADLEY OLSON: That’s right. I mean, one of the things that you see happening when the price goes down is that everybody’s trying to make up for the lost revenue. And so this is something that’s actually happened in the history of oil crashes, is that all the producers and companies actually try to pump more oil because they’re trying to make up for whatever they have been losing by producing more.
In this case, a lot of people expected the U.S. shale companies and U.S. companies that were behind a major boon in production in the last few years to slow down, and they just haven’t done that yet. They have been a lot more resilient than anybody expected.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Liz Ann Sonders, you used the word panic a minute ago. Compare this to what was going on in 2008.
LIZ ANN SONDERS: Oh, I don’t think this resembles 2008 by any stretch, when you think about the proximate cause for that, it was obviously a seizure of the financial system which had global tentacles and the leverage associated with that.
And what we’re seeing now is a bit more concentrated in the commodity space. Leverage in the financial system is significantly lower than it was back then. I think what we’re seeing has a greater analogy to 1998 than it does 2008, where you had an environment where you had major currency disruptions, problems in the emerging markets.
It ultimately caused a tremendous amount of volatility and even a very severe correction in the U.S. stock market, but it didn’t take the financial system nor the U.S. economy down with it, and I think that’s the better analogy than 2008.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So what does that mean? You talked about the psyche of investors and how that’s changing, and I think you mentioned millennials. I mean, what is different about the psyche of investors today?
LIZ ANN SONDERS: Well, I think we’re well past certainly the go-go days of the late 1990s, where there was the cult of equities and everybody was enthusiastic about it, it was a hobby for many.
You didn’t quite build that back up into 2007. The bubble at that time was more outside the stock market, in that it was concentrated in housing. And those stocks and homes are the two biggest components of household net worth, so you have gotten the hit to both of those things, which I think what we have established, whether it’s millennials as children of the baby boomers or even the older generation after that, is not all that different than what we saw come out of the Great Depression, not that this environment is as extreme as that.
But it really instituted an era of deleveraging. And I would call it a smarter investor, smarter consumer. They’re not spending the windfall of these lower oil prices. Some of it’s going to consumption, but some of it is going to savings and continued debt pay-down. That’s the kind of psyche change I think we’re seeing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Bradley Olson, you mentioned previous oil market crashes. What’s the history when something like this happens? How does the price of oil find its bottom before it starts to rise again?
BRADLEY OLSON: Well, what we see — usually, what they say, and it’s sort of an adage that exists in the market, is that low prices cure low prices.
What they mean by that is whenever companies and even countries, you know, don’t spend a lot of money, you will see that follow the oil market about a year or two years after they stop spending. And so what we have seen from the past is that when you have underspending for a year or two that doesn’t come to the level that they need to spend to increase production or to bring production to replace all the oil that they have already put out into the market, whenever you see that happening, that’s when the price starts to come back up.
Already, the level of spending is so low in the past two years, or it’s been reduced so much in the past two years, that it’s already worse than at any point in any two-year period in the 1980s. So you already have the ability to compare this downturn and this oil and natural gas crash to the worst of the periods of the 1980s when it was also very low.
So you have to go all the way back to the ’70s and the Arab oil embargo to find a time when the crash was as bad as it is now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s given us all a lot to, not just think about. Maybe we all need to turn to the history books in both the markets and the oil situation.
Bradley Olson, Liz Ann Sonders, we thank you both.
LIZ ANN SONDERS: Thanks, Judy.
BRADLEY OLSON: Thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff.
On the “NewsHour” tonight: U.S. stocks wrap up their worst start to a new year ever, as the price of oil trades at its lowest point in over 12 years.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: I’m not going to use your mother’s birth against you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Following the first presidential candidate debate of the new year, we’re here with Mark Shields and David Brooks to talk about the race as we get close to Iowa.
And Silicon Valley may be the hot spot for tech jobs, but it lags when it comes to diversity in hiring. We look at why.
Plus: A new PBS drama, “Mercy Street,” described as “Gone With the Wind” meets “MASH,” focuses on medics during the Civil War.
JOSH RADNOR, “Dr. Jedediah Foster”: There’s this feeling that it’s entirely grounded in its time and place, and, at the same time, it feels modern and urgent and vital.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”
JUDY WOODRUFF: The first two weeks of 2016 will go down in Wall Street history for the biggest losses to begin a year. Stocks plunged again today, as oil prices fell below $30 a barrel.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 390 points to close below 15990. The Nasdaq fell 126 points, and the S&P 500 dropped 41. Since the year began, the Dow and the S&P are down 8 percent. The Nasdaq is off 10 percent. We will get a full report and analysis after the news summary.
The Obama administration has ordered a nationwide pause on issuing new coal leases on federal land. That’s while the Department of the Interior reviews whether coal companies are paying enough in royalties to the government and what the environmental effects of mining are. Roughly 40 percent of the coal produced in the United States is mined on federal lands.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel faces new protests today over the fatal shootings of black suspects by police. Demonstrators turned out at an annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast with the mayor. Dozens of black ministers boycotted the event, but Emanuel pledged to address their concerns.
MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), Chicago: We also have to root out the cancer of police abuse, because the quest for safe and secure neighborhoods and against violence demands trust between the community and the police. And when there is no trust, there is no safety.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There’ve been charges of a cover-up in the death of teenager Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by a white officer in 2014. Video of the shooting was withheld until last November. Yesterday, officials released footage of the killing of a carjacking suspect in 2013.
Coast Guard crews in Hawaii spent this day searching for survivors after two U.S. Marine helicopters collided and crashed at sea overnight. They carried 12 people on a night training mission off Oahu. An aerial search began before first light and crews spotted a debris field spread across two miles of choppy seas. There’s no word on the cause of the crash.
The U.N. children’s fund UNICEF painted a desperate picture today of starvation in Syria. Two relief convoys reached the town of Madaya this week after a long siege by Syrian government forces. U.N. workers found severe malnutrition among children and local officials told of 32 people starving to death in the past month.
Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News filed this report.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Some food and medicine is now getting to Madaya and two towns besieged by the rebels.
Today, a mobile clinic was allowed in. The health center is full of people seeking treatment. Her 15-year-old son needs to go to hospital in Damascus, but, despite the urgency, the Red Crescent and the U.N. haven’t yet managed to negotiate to get people out.
Moadamiya, less than six miles from the center of Damascus, hasn’t had the same attention as Madaya. But maybe it should. She’s getting the telltale signs of malnutrition. Her mother pulls back her towel and jacket.
“There’s no milk for children,” she says. “Look, her hands are getting thinner.”
The U.N. says 450,000 Syrians are living under siege across the country. Moadamiya is held by rebels who the Syrian government is trying to starve into submission.
MAN (through interpreter): The regime bombarded the roads into our town. We’re under siege. The road’s been closed for 20 days now. There’s no food or medicine.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Today, the Russians dropped humanitarian aid on Deir el-Zour, a town held by the Syrian government and besieged by the Islamic State. At the same time, Russian aircraft continued to drop bombs on rebel-held parts of Aleppo, and Syrian children continue to live with the fear of hunger and death.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Western nations called an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council today to demand the warring parties in Syria end the sieges.
Police in Indonesia now say the suicide attack in Jakarta that killed two civilians was indeed funded by the Islamic State group. Five of the attackers died in the assault yesterday. Overnight, anti-terror officers arrested several people just outside Jakarta. It was unclear if they’re directly linked to the bombings, but the national police chief promised more arrests.
MAN (through interpreter): For sure, there were people who helped in the attack, including those who facilitated the buying of materials, people who assembled the bombs and so on. They are involved in the attack, so I ordered they be tracked down and arrested, all the people involved in the attack, including its network.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Separately today, Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited the site of the attack and talked to business owners. He said everything is back to normal.
In Somalia, the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab claims that it overran an African Union base today and killed at least 63 Kenyan soldiers. It happened in Southwestern Somalia near the border with Kenya. Witnesses confirmed the militants took over the site. Kenya’s president acknowledged casualties, but gave no numbers.
The U.N. human rights chief warned today that Burundi is sliding toward a new ethnic conflict between Tutsis and Hutus. He accused government security forces of gang rape, torture and mass killings of political opponents.
In Geneva, a spokesman for the U.N. agency said many of the victims were members of the Tutsi minority.
RUPERT COLVILLE, Spokesman, UN Human Rights Comission: The suggestion that an ethnic dimension is now starting to emerge is reinforced by one of the sexually abused women, who said that her abuser told her she was paying the price for being a Tutsi. Another witness claimed that Tutsis were systematically killed, while Hutus were spared, and the decision to arrest people was also reportedly largely made on an ethnic basis.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Burundi suffered 12 years of civil war that finally ended in 2005. But the U.N. says that 432 people have been killed in rising violence just since last April.
And test results confirm that a new Ebola death in Sierra Leone has happened. The news comes one day after the World Health Organization declared the two-year epidemic in Western Africa was finally over. Officials say the latest victim may have exposed at least 27 other people.
Still to come on the “NewsHour”: dropping oil prices ripple through the global economy; Mark Shields and David Brooks analyze the last GOP debate before Iowa; boosting diversity in Silicon Valley; and could “Mercy Street” became the next “Downton Abbey”?
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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Saturday proposed changes to the U.S. unemployment insurance system that he says would offer more security to the jobless and encourage experienced workers to rejoin the workforce, even if it means taking a pay cut.
“We shouldn’t just be talking about unemployment; we should be talking about re-employment,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.
The president’s proposal would require states to provide wage insurance to workers who lose their jobs and find new employment at lower pay. The insurance would replace half of the lost income, up to $10,000 over two years. It would be available to workers who were with their prior employer for three years and make less than $50,000 in their new job.
The proposal also would require states to make unemployment insurance available to many part-time and low-income workers, and it would mandate that states provide at least 26 weeks of unemployment insurance. Nine states fall short of the benchmark, the White House said.
The proposal comes as U.S. businesses, outside the manufacturing sector, are experiencing strong demand and adding employees. A recent government employment report showed that employers added a net 292,000 jobs in December as the unemployment rate held at 5 percent.
Obama has begun claiming some credit for this progress, hoping to push back against Republican presidential candidates he says are talking down the economy. But the White House also has acknowledged the many jobs added since the recovery are lower paying, and many Americans continue to see no wage growth.
Obama said Saturday he believed his proposal would provide some stability for workers willing to switch careers and begin working their way up the ladder in a new field.
Experienced workers on average see a pay cut of 10 percent when they lose their jobs. Workers with more than 20 years on the job see an average 25 percent pay cut, according to the White House.
Obama’s proposal will be included in the budget proposal he’s set to send to Congress next month.
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Four Americans including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian will be freed from Iranian jail as part of a prison exchange agreement with the United States, Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed on Saturday.
Iranian officials said Rezaian, 39, was released from Evin Prison Saturday after spending the last 18 months in Iranian custody.
Four other Iranian-Americans – Saeed Abedini, 35, of Boise, Idaho; Amir Hekmati, 32, of Flint, Mich.; and Nosratollah Khosavi-Roodsari – also would be freed from captivity, according to the Washington Post.
Rezaian was the Post’s bureau chief in Tehran when he was taken into custody in July 2014 and accused of spying on Iran’s nuclear program among other charges. The California native holds dual Iranian and U.S. citizenship.
He was sentenced by an Iranian court in November, though the terms of his sentence were not revealed.
A representative of Rezaian’s family declined to comment on Saturday morning on the apparent release.
Hekmati, a U.S. Marine veteran, has been held since 2011, accused by Iran of spying. Abednini, a Christian pastor, was jailed by the country in 2012 for attempting to start churches. Khosrawi was also charged with spying after his arrest in 2011 while visiting his Iranian grandmother, the Post said.
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A high-ranking American officials told the Post a fifth American would also be released. Matthew Trevithick, a student, was detained in recent months, the official said.
One Iranian source with knowledge of the deal told the Associated Press that the Americans were released in a swap for seven Iranians held in U.S. prisons, though those prisoners were not immediately identified.
Iranian state media said on Saturday in a statement that the four Americans “have all been released.”
“Based on an approval of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and the general interests of the Islamic Republic, four Iranian prisoners with dual-nationality were freed today within the framework of a prisoner swap deal,” a judiciary official was quoted as saying on the Fars News website.
The prisoner swap comes as American and Iranian officials are meeting in Vienna, where the International Atomic Energy Agency was poised to announce that Iran has met requirements to scale back its nuclear program. The U.S., the European Union and the United Nations have installed crippling sanctions on the country, as Iran reportedly moved to build up its nuclear arsenal.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif had met a short while before the prisoner exchange was implemented, Reuters reported.
Twenty-five news editors from some of the most influential media organizations in the U.S. sent a letter earlier this month calling on Kerry to work toward Rezaian’s release. You can read the letter here.
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The biggest creature to ever walk the surface of the earth invaded New York City’s American Museum of Natural History on Friday.
The 122-foot-long dinosaur is a species so new that it has yet to be named — and has a skeleton so big that it doesn’t even fit inside one room.
The enormous titanosaur, part of a group of herbivores that roamed the earth some 100 million years ago, is the newest permanent exhibit to join the museum.
Scientists believe it weighed as much as 10 African elephants (70 tons) while it’s neck was long enough to peek into a five story building (46 feet).
The display is so large it couldn’t be contained to a single room in the museum. The titanosaur’s head and a portion of its 39-foot neck poke out of the doorway of the main gallery, where the top of the skeleton barely grazes the 19-foot-4-inch ceiling.
This week’s unveiling marks the first time the behemoth has been displayed to the public.
“For a long time, we’ve known that animals may have approached this size, but they were largely just quite fragmentary remains, and we couldn’t get a really good look at just how immense these creatures were,” museum curator Dr. Mark Norell told PBS NewsHour. “This titanosaur specimen is a really important specimen in the great scheme of paleontology.”
The titanosaur dates back to the Cretaceous period, the age that ended with the mass extinction of dinosaurs, but the story of this particular specimen dates back to 2012, when a rancher in southern Argentina reported to the Museum of Paleontology Egidio Feruglio that he found fossils on his land.
By 2014, paleontologists visited the desert site near La Flecha, part of the Patagonia region of Argentina, and excavated 223 fossil bones belonging to six dinosaurs at the site.
“This thing is by far the best preserved titanosaur specimen of this size that’s ever been found,” Norell said. “It gives us our first good, real picture about how we found them, about how big they were, about how tall they were. And I think that for years to come, international groups of scientists will study this specimen.”
The skeleton on display doesn’t include any of the real fossils — which are far too heavy to mount — but rather lightweight 3D prints made of fiberglass based on digital scans of 84 of the original fossils, a process that took scientists from Research Casting International in Ontario, Canada, six months to complete.
Also on display at the museum for a limited time are some of the best preserved fossils from the excavation, including an 8-foot femur, whose unique shape and size was proof to scientists they had discovered a new species.
Norell said the discovery and mounting of the titanosaur represent huge gains for modern paleontology and that new technologies have given paleontologist “an entirely new tool kit” to determine more biological characteristics of dinosaurs, such as age, speed, weight, diet, color and the size of their brain.
“The discoveries just keep continuing and continuing and continuing, with lots of new specimens becoming available,” Norell said. “At the museum, we have the blue whale, for instance, we have the giant redwood tree. And I think for everyone that comes to this museum, the titanosaur is going to be added to the list of iconic things here and it’s something that people are going to take away with them and really remember for a long time after they visit.”
“It’s really been a great time to be a paleontologist.”
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WASHINGTON — The Senate will consider new rigorous screening procedures for Syrian and Iraqi refugees seeking to enter the United States as national security looms large for voters in an election year.
Propelled by the Islamic State group’s attacks in Paris, the GOP-backed legislation raced through the House last November with 289 votes. That veto-proof margin included 47 Democrats despite the Obama administration’s opposition to the measure.
The legislation will have a much harder time making it through the Senate in the week ahead.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., needs at least six Democrats to join all 54 Republicans to approve a motion clearing the bill for final passage in the 100-member chamber.
The Senate’s top Democrat, Harry Reid of Nevada, said last year that was not going to happen. Even if it did, President Barack Obama has pledged to veto the bill if it got to him.
The upshot may be more of the same on Capitol Hill: A war of words, with Republicans blasting Obama for failing to do what they see as necessary to secure the United States and Democrats accusing the GOP of fearmongering to score points with voters.
Some of the key points to know about the Syrian-Iraqi refugee legislation:
WHAT THE HOUSE BILL DOES
IS controls territory in Syria and Iraq. As a result of the extremists’ harsh, uncompromising rule, people in those areas have tried to flee and make it to the United States. The House-passed American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act is rooted in concerns the current process of screening refugee is inadequate and could allow a terrorist to be admitted into the United States.
The legislation would order FBI background checks for Syrian and Iraqi refugees and require that the FBI, Homeland Security Department and the director of National Intelligence certify that each refugee is not a security threat. The bill’s requirements would effectively suspend admissions of Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
Republicans pointed to the arrest this month of two Iraqi refugees with suspected links to terrorism as one more example of the flawed vetting system.
Over the past few months, voters’ concerns about terrorism have surged and their confidence in the government’s ability to defeat IS and other extremist groups has plummeted, according to a national survey conducted in December by the Pew Research Center.
“I think there’s a sense we need to do everything we can to demonstrate we take seriously the responsibility to protect the country,” Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the GOP leadership, said last week at a party retreat in Baltimore.
A PROMISE TO VETO
The White House said Obama would veto the House bill. The legislation “would provide no meaningful additional security for the American people,” it said in a Nov. 18 statement.
Refugees of all nationalities, including Syrians and Iraqis, already face a demanding screening process, and the legislation “would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world,” the statement said. The White House said more than 2,100 Syrian refugees have been admitted to the United States since 2001 and not one has been arrested or deported on terrorism-related grounds.
‘DON’T WORRY, IT WON’T GET PASSED’
After the House passed the bill Nov. 19, Reid predicted it would die in the Senate. “Don’t worry, it won’t get passed,” Reid told reporters.
A final decision on how the Democrats will proceed is expected on Wednesday at their weekly caucus meeting.
Without support from Democrats, the math doesn’t work for McConnell. He needs a half-dozen Democrats to pass a motion to proceed and eventually allow a vote on the legislation. Thirteen more Democrats would be needed to reach a veto-proof tally.
Despite Reid’s optimism, the House vote demonstrated that opposing the legislation can be dicey for Democrats facing tight 2016 elections. Before the House vote, White House aides went to the Capitol to win over Democrats. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., told them, in a forceful exchange, that voting “no” could hurt Democrats at the polls.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said other steps should include addressing illegal immigration more broadly and barring the sale of guns to people on federal terrorism watch lists – a move the Senate recently rejected.
AP Congressional Correspondent Erica Werner contributed to this report.
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MEGAN THOMPSON: On a Saturday morning in December, a crowd waits outside the Mount Lebanon Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York. Hundreds more pack the sanctuary inside. They’re seeking forgiveness — not from a higher power — but from New York City’s criminal justice system. The event – is called “Begin Again.” The purpose: clear arrest warrants stemming from low-level crimes.
TONY DILLION: I’m here to clear up a past warrant that I had for trespassing.
EDWIN ALMESTICA: There’s nothing worse than walking around the city and having a cloud hanging over your head.
MEGAN THOMPSON: New York City has 1.4 Million open arrest warrants for unresolved summonses dating back to the 1980’s. None are for serious or violent crimes. They’re for “quality of life” offenses like loitering, public urination, walking a dog without a leash, or being in a park after dark.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson — no relation to this reporter — started “Begin Again” last year to reduce the public’s distrust and fear of law enforcement… and to ease the punitive burden these warrants can have.
KENNETH THOMPSON, BROOKLYN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Warrants never go away. So, when people apply for jobs, they come up in background checks. It could affect someone’s application for citizenship. It could affect someone’s ability to get housing. So, there are real consequences to outstanding warrants. We need to deal with this crisis, this staggering number of outstanding summons warrants. We have to deal with that now.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Between 2003 and 2013, New York City police issued more than 6 million summonses for low level crimes – in a city of about 8.4 million people. When issued a summons, a person must appear in court on a specific day and time, and usually ends up paying a fine ranging from 25 to 250 dollars. But nearly 40 percent of people issued a summons fail to appear in court, resulting in a judge automatically issuing an arrest warrant. Thompson says that doesn’t make sense for low-level crimes.
KENNETH THOMPSON: Once a bench warrant is issued for someone’s arrest, that police officer who comes into contact with the person who has the warrant has no discretion. That officer must arrest that person and put them through the system. The person who’s stopped may resist arrest or flee because of that outstanding warrant. And so, we are unnecessarily putting our police officers in peril.
MEGAN THOMPSON: 27-year-old Malcolm Richards came to “Begin Again” to clear a warrant for an unpaid open container summons he received for drinking a beer in a park.
MALCOLM RICHARDS: And I don’t want to call my job and tell them I’m in jail for this.
MEGAN THOMPSON: The first stop: the church basement, filled with attorneys and paralegals from the Legal Aid Society in a makeshift courtroom in the church attic, a judge hears the from the prosecutors and defendants’ attorneys. In just a few minutes, defendants like Richards may learn whether their warrants are cleared.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Programs like “Begin Again” have sprung up in recent years across the U.S., from Tulsa to St. Louis to Atlanta…clearing tens of thousands of warrants, and helping ease the burden on the courts. In New York, critics say the summonses that lead to warrants disproportionately affect poor and minority communities, which are often also the most heavily policed. A New York Civil Liberties Union analysis found more than 80 percent of summonses went to blacks and hispanics.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Malcolm Richards grew up in Brownsville, one of Brooklyn’s poorest neighborhoods. He got his first summons at 16, when, he says, he was unlocking his bicycle one evening after leaving an after-school program.
MALCOLM RICHARDS: I got on my bike and a cop came out of nowhere, and he was like, “Hey, you can’t be in here after dark.”
MEGAN THOMPSON: The officer issued him a summons that carried a fine.
MALCOLM RICHARDS: My mom is a single mom. So, she can’t really just say, “Hey, here’s money. Go pay it.” So, I didn’t have the money to go pay the ticket. So, that’s why it turned into a warrant. And then I forgot about it.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Three years later, Richards snuck his brother through a subway turnstile with him…without paying the fare. An officer caught them and ran Richards’ name through a police database.
MALCOLM RICHARDS: And the next thing you know, a cop car pulled up, and he was like, “Hey, you’re going to have to go down with us.” And I was like, “What for?” And he said, “You have a warrant for your arrest.” And my brother was crying outside the police car while I’m sitting behind there, I’m crying, too.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Richards spent 24 hours in jail.
MALCOLM RICHARDS: The experience was horrible. I would never want to go through it again.
MEGAN THOMPSON: But it did almost happen again. In 2014, a police officer issued him that open container summons. Richards says he was unemployed at the time and couldn’t afford the 25 dollar fine.
MEGAN THOMPSON: You did know, though, that you were breaking the law by drinking in a park, right?
MALCOLM RICHARDS: Yeah.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Even though you’d had this pretty terrible experience when you were 19, being put into Central Booking for 24 hours, you still didn’t take care of the ticket this time around.
MALCOLM RICHARDS: No.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Did you consider going down and just explaining to the court, “Hey, I can’t pay right now?”
MALCOLM RICHARDS: I thought about it, but I’m like if I do that, I feel like I’m going to get booked.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Police reform advocates allege the large number of open arrest warrants may stem in part from quotas for summonses, tickets, and arrests. Such quotas are illegal in New York State, but some New York Police Officers say they still exist.
ADHYL POLANCO: At the end of the day, it’s quota, numbers, quota.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Adhyl Polanco, in his 11th year on the force, is one of a dozen officers who have filed a lawsuit alleging the NYPD uses a quota system for arrests and summonses. The lawsuit alleges officers have been subjected for years to quotas such as “20 and 1” — 20 summonses and one arrest per month — for years.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Polanco says the pressure to produce them has eased since Mayor Bill De Blasio took office two years ago and appointed Bill Bratton as Commissioner….But he feels judged on numbers and little else.
ADHYL POLANCO: You cannot say that you ran to the hospital with a kid that was not breathing and-and that you separated a fight here, and you helped this person there. That doesn’t cut it. They need summonses. They need arrests.
MEGAN THOMPSON: City attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss the suit, because, they say, it is “devoid of factual allegations.”
JAMES O’NEILL: There’s no quota system in the NYPD. Is there an expectation, as a New York City Police Officer, that you take summary action when you need to? Absolutely.
MEGAN THOMPSON: James O’Neill is the NYPD’s Chief of Department, the highest ranking uniformed position under Commissioner Bratton. He points out, the number of citywide summonses has declined. Between 2013 and 2014, they dropped from 439-thousand to 369-thousand, or about 16%. Summonses declined another 17-and-a-half percent last year. O’Neill says that’s because the department now emphasizes officers using more discretion.
JAMES O’NEILL: It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. We were for many years, a numbers-driven organization. We still have to be driven by some numbers, and those are the crime numbers. So if we’re out there locking up people not involved, or giving summonses to people not involved, that does cause resentment.
MEGAN THOMPSON: O’Neill says the police department is talking with city council members about possibly decriminalizing some low-level offenses. But he says the ability to issue a summons for quality of life violations is still an important tool.
JAMES O’NEILL: I think it’s important to have the option. Sometimes when you’re dealing with a situation, you need to have that tool available to make sure that people understand that, if this behavior does not get better, if it’s not corrected, you could end up in criminal court with a summons or even possibly arrest them.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson says he’s not focusing on NYPD tactics, but why more than a million summonses have lapsed into warrants.
KENNETH THOMPSON: So, if you have a childcare issue, let’s say one of your children is sick, or you can’t take off from work, because you’ll lose your job, or someone in your family passed away the night before, if you don’t show up for any reason, a bench warrant is issued for your arrest. And I believe a warrant should be issued for someone who refuses to come to court, not someone who can’t come to court.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Reforms are on the way. The city will soon allow people to appear any time a week in advance of their summons court appearance, and keep some courts open until 8pm. A re-designed summons form will highlight a person’s assigned court date and time more clearly…as well as the consequences for not showing up.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Thompson wants all of New York City to hold “Begin Again” events. He says they hold people accountable, even though most fines are forgiven when an arrest warrant is cleared.
KENNETH THOMPSON: It’s not a blanket amnesty program. You don’t go to bed one night with a warrant and wake up and the warrant is gone. You have to show up. You have to go before a judge.
MEGAN THOMPSON: So far, the District Attorney has cleared more than 16-hundred warrants. Malcolm Richards’ case was one of them.
JUDGE: Both of these matters are dismissed at this time. Your two warrants are vacated. Good luck to you, sir.
MALCOLM RICHARDS: I feel good that I don’t have these warrants over my head.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Malcolm Richards is thankful he can move forward with a clean slate. He recently started working at a hospital doing building maintenance and pledges that if he ever gets a summons again, he’ll take care of it right away.
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International sanctions were lifted on Saturday in response to Iran’s nuclear disarmament deal with the United States and other world powers.
— StateDept Live (@StateDeptLive) January 16, 2016
Diplomats meeting in Vienna, Austria, worked well into the night to certify that Iran had met the terms of last year’s landmark deal to shut down its plutonium reactor and ship out its stockpile of enriched uranium.
On Saturday, the international atomic energy agency announced Iran has carried out all required measures.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry led last-minute talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
Certification has prompted the U.S. and the European Union to lift long-standing economic sanctions against Iran, allowing Iran to gain access to $100 billion.
With sanctions lifted, Iran’s government says withing weeks it will boost oil exports by 500,000 barrels a day, and it will immediately buy 114 passenger jets from airbus.
In the hours leading up to the certification, Iran freed five Americans, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who had been jailed 18 months on espionage charges that his newspaper called trumped up.
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WASHINGTON — Iran’s release of four Americans gives President Barack Obama the opportunity to deliver a harsh reminder to the Republicans wanting to succeed him: You can promise to pull back the hand I’ve extended to Iran and Cuba – nations the U.S. once cut off – but it won’t be easy and it may be lonely.
As Republican candidates vow to rewind Obama’s rapprochements on their first day in office, many U.S. allies and businesses interests have pressed forward with outreach to Iran. The next president may find Iran has established itself as world player, a useful diplomatic power broker and a potential market for U.S. businesses.
Vowing to isolate Tehran may only isolate the U.S. from many of its allies.
Similarly, in Cuba, where Obama reversed decades of Cold War policy, American businesses are eyeing a new market while U.S. tourism is on the rise. Reversing the tide may prove as difficult as un-ringing a bell.
“It’s easy to reverse the policies, it’s hard not to be isolated in the process,” said Jon Alterman, Middle East analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Can you force the rest of the world to see things the way you do? That’s a big question.”
The diplomacy with Iran after decades of a divide fulfills Obama’s first inaugural promise “to extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” The Democratic president is facing plenty of criticism from Republicans, who have focused on his broader foreign policy, the rise of Islamic State militants and the upheaval in Syria.
But Saturday was a clear reminder of the forces working against the Republican contenders on Iran. The release of Americans, negotiated as a swap alongside nuclear talks, removed a key argument that the U.S. should not lift sanctions while Americans are being held.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and other Western nations declared Iran had kept up its end of the landmark nuclear agreement completed last summer, triggering the removal of the billions of dollars in economic sanctions and beginning to open up the gates for international businesses.
Republicans did not see the moment as an achievement. While they gently praised the return of the Americans, they blasted the release of Iranian prisoners by the U.S. as part of the swap.
“While we celebrate their return,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said of the released Americans, “this deal serves as piece of propaganda for both Iran and the Obama administration.”
Cruz reprised his promise to “rip to shreds this catastrophic Iran nuclear deal.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he saw “weakness” in the Obama administration’s dealings with Iran.
“Let’s take a step back here,” Bush told a town hall meeting in New Hampshire. “The bigger issue is that we’ve legitimized a regime who shows no interest in actually moving toward the so-called community of nations.”
In truth, the U.S. has not been alone in shifting its pose toward Iran, which is part of what would make undoing it difficult. The nuclear deal was negotiated alongside France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China, a coalition that managed to hang together through lengthy discussions and difficult domestic politics. Since then, the U.S. has included Iran in talks negotiating an end to the Syrian civil war. White House officials say they see those talks as a test of whether other conversations are possible.
Some Republicans have acknowledged it may be difficult to cut off these ties. Bush has said “maybe we should check with our allies” before shredding the deal. Donald Trump, playing up his skills as a boardroom broker, has suggested he would renegotiate the nuclear deal.
But most, including Marco Rubio and Cruz, have put tearing up the deal on their Day 1 to-do list.
What would happen on Day 2 is unclear. In a global economy, imposing unilateral U.S. sanctions would have limited impact on Iran and could serve to disadvantage U.S. businesses. Iran has suggested businesses are waiting at the gates to engage – indeed, the transport minister on Saturday announced a deal with the European consortium Airbus to buy 114 passenger planes after sanctions are lifted.
Rubio has warned U.S. businesses not to “gamble” on Iran, saying Tehran will inevitably violate the agreement, and if he’s in the White House he’ll ensure a harsh punishment.
He’s made similar warnings about Cuba, cautioning U.S. companies that doing business under the current leadership would be difficult and expensive.
Cuban officials have raised concerns about the Republicans’ promises to backtrack, saying that casts uncertainty over negotiations.
But there’s little sign that the GOP rhetoric on Iran is slowing down Tehran’s increasing role as a player on the world stage.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: When the HBO comedy “Silicon Valley” poked fun at a fictional company modeled on Google —
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These programmers — there’s always a tall, skinny, white guy; a short skinny Asian guy; a fat guy with a ponytail, some guy with crazy facial hair.
HARI SREENIVASAN: — Google executive Brian Welle saw an opportunity.
BRIAN WELLE, GOOGLE EXECUTIVE: So, this is the world’s view of Silicon Valley, and there is some truth to it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Welle conducts what’s called “unconscious bias training” for tens of thousands of Google employees. It’s a key component of the company’s diversity strategy.
BRIAN WELLE: So, what we want to do is understand what role do we play in making this happen?
HARI SREENIVASAN: Ever since the tech giant publicized its gender and ethnic makeup in 2014, it has been under pressure to add more women and minorities to its workforce.
Nancy Lee is Google’s vice president of people operations.
NANCY LEE, VICE PRESIDENT, PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT AT GOOGLE: We were just trying to shine a light on what was going on in our own company, and in this sector, because we really did want to catalyze the conversation and hold ourselves accountable, because once we exposed it, we can’t just go silent.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But after spending almost two years and $265 million on the effort, Google’s workforce looks virtually the same: 70 percent men, and 60 percent white; 31 percent of employees are Asian, but only 3 percent are Latino; and only 2 percent are black.
For a company with nearly 60,000 employees, change will probably be subtle and slow.
NANCY LEE: There’s no silver bullet here, we’re not going to see this massive shift. Frankly, it would probably look unnatural for that to happen.
HARI SREENIVASAN: One small change, women in senior management positions: 22 percent, up 1 percent since 2014.
NANCY LEE: And that is a function in part of the fact that the pipeline itself, the pool of talent we’re drawing from at each level, is getting increasingly male.
HARI SREENIVASAN: One way to address the pipeline problem is to challenge stereotypes of engineers, and Google has turned to Hollywood for help.
Mariana is a Latina teenage computer programmer on the TV drama, “The Fosters”. And there’s Loretta, the smart older sister on the animated Disney Junior show “Miles of Tomorrowland.”
LORETTA, MILES OF TOMORROWLAND: My program can detect if anyone else out there is coding right now.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Google has been advising Disney-ABC to develop engineering characters that girls can relate to.
NANCY LEE: We found that in fact the perception of what it is to be a computer scientist is a really important factor.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Erica Baker overcame stereotypes to become a software engineer and worked at Google for nine years, but felt she didn’t fit in.
ERICA BAKER, FORMER GOOGLE ENGINEER: It was really interesting when I got to Google that people thought I was only there because of affirmative action. It was like, “Nope, I’m actually pretty good at my job.”
HARI SREENIVASAN: Baker felt antagonized by messages posted to Google’s internal communication system, like —
ERICA BAKER: “Diversity isn’t important”, people would say that and more.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, she left the company last May.
ERICA BAKER: I decided that I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. I wanted to go to a place where I didn’t have to deal with people questioning my abilities and questioning whether or not I should be there because of my skin color.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Google wouldn’t comment on her complaint. The company says it does not comment on specific employees. But Google does say it’s trying to create a more inclusive culture, producing videos —
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would the world look like if everyone were aware of the stereotypes that they have?
HARI SREENIVASAN: And offering” bias busting workshops” like this one where employees role play.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I’m sorry. Do you know when they’re going to be restocking the Diet Coke in the fridge?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I don’t, but I was wondering the same thing.
HARI SREENIVASAN: This scenario actually happened to her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was in an office where they have a barista bar, and someone was like, “Oh, can you make me, like, a cappuccino or something like that?”
HARI SREENIVASAN: Jason Buberel, who runs some of these workshops, hopes they will encourage underrepresented engineers to stay with the company.
JASON BUBEREL, GOOGLE: I think what I would like to see over time occur here at Google is to see the attrition rate of women minorities in engineering roles decrease over time.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Nancy Lee says Google is in it for the long haul.
NANCY LEE: To see something significant where we’re actually hitting a market supply, you know, of 10 percent or something like that of Hispanic and Black Googlers, that’s going to take several years.
The release of four Americans detained by Iran won praise on Saturday from several Republicans running for president, along with condemnation of the Obama administration for its dealings with the Islamic Republic.
There were exceptions, with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul saying he was pleased “our government did not sit idly by” as Iran held pastor Saeed Abedini, who was among those freed.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, meanwhile, warned the deal created an incentive for other governments around the world to take Americans hostage, even though just a few months ago he had urged Secretary of State John Kerry to “use every tool at your disposal” to free Americans held in Iran.
In return, the U.S. agreed to pardon or drop charges against seven Iranians – six of whom are dual U.S.-Iranian citizens – accused or convicted of violating U.S. sanctions.
Along with Abedini, those released include Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, whose name had not been previously made public. Student Matthew Trevithick was also released in a move unrelated to the swap, U.S. officials said.
Here’s a deeper look at what the candidates had to say on Saturday about the prisoner exchange.
The Republican front-runner said while he’s happy the prisoners are coming back, “it’s a disgrace they’ve been there for so long.”
“This should have been done three or four years ago,” Trump told a crowd gathered at a car dealership on a snowy Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Trump said he would need to look into the details of the deal to free the prisoners, but he said his initial assessment was that it “doesn’t sound too good.”
“They get $150 billion, plus seven and we get four,” said Trump, referring to the approximately $100 billion in Iranian assets that will be unfrozen as part of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear deal with the U.S. and five other world powers.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said that while he is happy for the freed Americans and their families, the U.S. “shouldn’t be involved in swaps. This never should have happened.”
“Governments are taking Americans hostage, because they believe they can gain concessions from this government under Barack Obama,” Rubio said while campaigning in Iowa. “It’s created an incentive for more people to do this in the future.”
That’s not the message Rubio was sending earlier this year, after the nuclear deal with Iran was announced.
In July, he wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry that it is “unacceptable that the United States has reached a final agreement with Iran while innocent Americans languish in the most brutal conditions of Iranian jail cells.”
He went on to add, “These American citizens deserve to be released unconditionally, and I urge you to use every tool at your disposal to secure their freedom.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called the release “good news,” but suggested the U.S. decision to release Iranian prisoners in exchange amounted to the latest example of “weakness” in the Obama administration’s dealings with Iran.
“Let’s take a step back here. The bigger issue is that we’ve legitimized a regime who shows no interest in actually moving toward the so-called community of nations,” Bush told voters at a town hall in Amherst, New Hampshire.
In a statement, the Kentucky senator praised Abedini as “an incredibly brave man for risking his life for his Christian beliefs.”
Taking a different tack than several others in the Republican presidential race, Paul didn’t use the release to condemn the Obama administration for its actions in brokering the nuclear deal with Iran.
Instead, he said, “I am pleased that our government did not sit idly by while an American citizen was persecuted abroad due to religious intolerance.
“The United States stands as a beacon of freedom and hope for those across the globe, and as such, we must continue to fight for the safe return of those wrongfully imprisoned abroad based on their religious beliefs.”
Speaking at a tea party convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called the prisoner swap another sign of Obama’s weakness on the world stage.
“I want to start by giving thanks … but at the same time we’ve got to shake our heads at how it happened,” Cruz said.
Cruz told the crowd that while Iran released a pastor and journalist, among others, the U.S. freed Iranians accused of violating sanctions and assisting the Tehran regime’s nuclear ambitions.
“You’ll notice the Obama administration announces the good news and then hides the bad news,” Cruz said. “While we celebrate their return, this deal serves as piece of propaganda for both Iran and the Obama administration.”
The post GOP candidates laud prisoner release, but criticize Obama on Iran appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: In the hours leading up to certification, Iran freed five Americans, including “Washington Post” reporter Jason Rezaian, who had been jailed 18 months on espionage charges that his newspaper called “trumped up”. “The Post” said it couldn’t be happier about his release. Rezaian and three other men freed, including a former marine and a pastor, are dual U.S. and Iranian citizens. Iran also released an American college student in its custody.
In exchange, the U.S. granted clemency to seven Iranians imprisoned or charged with violating U.S. sanctions, and dropped charges against 14 others.
Joining me now for more analysis on today’s developments is Emad Kiyaei, the executive director of the American Iranian Council, a nonprofit, educational organization. He’s also a researcher at Princeton University.
How significant is what happened today?
EMAD KIYAEI, AMERICAN IRANIAN COUNCIL: First of all, thanks for having me.
This is a major breakthrough. It is very significant. And to your accounts (ph), we, first of all, have this return of Iranian-Americans who were held in jail in Iran, and of course, vice versa in the United States. Of course, the latest announcements of the IAEA, bringing in, ushering in the implementation for a nuclear deal. So, a very good day for the Iranians and for the international community as a whole
HARI SREENIVASAN: Right. So, this — there were two tracks, as Secretary Kerry mentioned, one the prison swap or humanitarian gesture, whatever you want to call it and then the Iranian deal itself. And really, he said these things merge expected accelerated because the relationships between him and Zarif were getting stronger over the two and a half years that they worked together.
EMAD KIYAEI: I totally agree with his assessment, especially because if you look at the two and a half years of negotiations, they were not only just intense. For the first time, the United States and Iran engaged directly with one another after 36 years of non-relations. So, you have a direct channel between Iran and the United States. Of course, that helps in this case, and in previous cases. In this past 100 hours, we have seen, even with the case of the Marines, the Navy, the 10 sailors released within 24 hours, this also came about because of the good relationship between Secretary John Kerry and his counterpart Javad Zarif.
HARI SREENIVASAN: They could have been used as pawns in a much longer chess game, right?
EMAD KIYAEI: Exactly. This wouldn’t have happened two and a half years ago, even a year ago, especially when the Revolutionary Guard itself had taken the sailors captive.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, tell me, does this change the international community’s perception of Iran like Iran wants it to be? They want to be at this stage, they want to be engaged in trade with the world.
EMAD KIYAEI: Well, this is how the current President Rouhani came into power, on the back of trying to remove Iran’s isolation from international community, resolve the nuclear issue, and, of course, revamp the Iranian economy that’s been under so much pressure because of sanctions.
So, Iran wants to rejoin the international community, more robust than before. And I think that this image of Iran, this trend is going in the right direction to bring about a new assessment from the American side on who they’re dealing with in the Iranian leadership.
And I hope that this nuclear deal, the prison exchange swap, and the release of the sailors is just one step towards opening up the relationship between the two countries on more pressing issues that they see eye to eye, may that be the security and stability in Afghanistan, in Iraq, the fight against ISIS, even Syria, Yemen, and energy security. There are lots at stake here and a lot on the table that they can still discuss
HARI SREENIVASAN: What about the issues inside Iranian society that we as Americans would still have serious problems with?
EMAD KIYAEI: I mean, it depends on which ones. Obviously, in my opinion, the isolation of Iran did not help the human rights conditions of Iranians within the country. I’ve lived through engagement, through diplomacy, and through opening of Iran and engaging with the international community, we will see also within the country a more space for liberties, for human rights conditions improving, and when we close off a country, obviously, this becomes much more difficult to press a country to evolve or change its positions on such matters as you mentioned in the country.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Emad Kiyaei, thanks so much for joining us.
EMAD KIYAEI: My pleasure. Thank you.
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WASHINGTON — First lady Michelle Obama is celebrating her birthday – and there’s just one more of those big days while she’s still in the White House.
There’s no word from the White House on how she plans to mark her 52nd birthday on Sunday.
President Barack Obama threw a White House dance party two years ago when his wife turned 50.
The Obamas will leave the White House on Jan. 20, 2017 – Inauguration Day for the next president.