Articles on this Page
- 01/28/16--12:39: _Will China’s shift ...
- 01/28/16--12:49: _Senate Democrats pi...
- 01/30/16--14:48: _Authorities capture...
- 01/30/16--15:03: _2016 candidates urg...
- 01/30/16--15:39: _Battle for Iowa: Ca...
- 01/30/16--15:40: _Recruiting college ...
- 01/30/16--15:41: _Scientists open ‘bl...
- 01/30/16--17:20: _Clinton holds narro...
- 01/31/16--08:51: _Clinton: GOP ‘grasp...
- 01/31/16--10:20: _Clinton, Sanders ca...
- 01/31/16--11:06: _States move to issu...
- 01/31/16--11:10: _How Bernie Sanders ...
- 01/31/16--11:26: _Vast digitizing pro...
- 01/31/16--13:00: _Europol: Thousands ...
- 01/31/16--13:37: _Is Clinton channeli...
- 01/31/16--14:24: _2016 opponents atta...
- 01/31/16--15:19: _How are the candida...
- 02/01/16--10:45: _Price tag for Biden...
- 02/01/16--11:22: _More U.S., coalitio...
- 02/01/16--14:00: _Amtrak engineer rec...
- 01/28/16--12:39: Will China’s shift to a consumer-oriented economy succeed?
- 01/28/16--12:49: Senate Democrats pitch $400 million fix for lead pipes in Flint
- 01/30/16--14:48: Authorities capture escaped California prisoners
- 01/30/16--15:03: 2016 candidates urging Iowans to vote
- 01/30/16--15:39: Battle for Iowa: Candidates close in on first voters of 2016 race
- 01/30/16--15:40: Recruiting college students to fight extremists online
- 01/31/16--08:51: Clinton: GOP ‘grasping at straws’ over e-mail controversy
- 01/31/16--10:20: Clinton, Sanders campaigns may add New Hampshire debate
- 01/31/16--11:06: States move to issue high school diplomas retroactively
- 01/31/16--11:10: How Bernie Sanders evolved from fringe candidate to contender
- 01/31/16--11:26: Vast digitizing project will put Harvard’s colonial archives online
- 01/31/16--13:00: Europol: Thousands of migrant children unaccounted for in Europe
- 01/31/16--13:37: Is Clinton channeling her inner Sanders in Iowa?
- 01/31/16--14:24: 2016 opponents attack Cruz on his credibility
- 01/31/16--15:19: How are the candidates likely to fare at the Iowa caucuses?
- 02/01/16--10:45: Price tag for Biden cancer ‘moonshot’ at $1 billion in Obama budget
- 02/01/16--14:00: Amtrak engineer recalls opening throttle before fatal crash
Editor’s Note: China’s growth slowed to 6.9 percent in 2015 — a high number for any other country in the world, but low for China, a country that averaged 10.6 percent growth in 2010. And what happens in China, the second largest economy in the world, doesn’t stay in China. When the country devalued its currency this summer and when its stock market plunged at the start of the new year, it sent ripple effects around the world. Currencies were devalued, stock markets nosedived and some economists urged the Federal Reserve to reconsider its course on interest rates.
Making Sen$e spoke to economist Stephen Roach, author of “Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China” and a senior fellow at Yale University, where he focuses on the impacts of Asia on the broader global economy.
The following text has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.
— Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor
Kristen Doerer: Why is China’s downturn affecting the rest of the world?
Stephen Roach: A series of forces are coming into play right now — some of which are real, some of which are exaggerated. The real one is that China accounted for over a third of the cumulative increase in the world economy over the past decade. It’s been the dominant engine of global growth, and as that engine slows down for a number of important reasons, many of the drivers of activities in other countries that have become dependent on China are obviously operating at a slower rate. That’s particularly true of resource economies that have fueled China’s industrial machine — countries like Australia, Brazil, Russia, Canada and New Zealand. It’s also true of the East Asian economies that are part and parcel of China’s central global supply chain, which drives the production assembly of manufacturing goods, which are then sold to Europe and the United States. But demand is sluggish. So a lot of the pieces of this increasingly integrated globalized economy are tightly connected to China, and as China slows and as the world slows, these forces are now operating at a much slower speed.
Kristen Doerer: Why is it affecting the U.S. so much considering how independent we are of the Chinese economy for exports?
Stephen Roach: Well, I think there’s a miss there. I think we’re actually more dependent on Chinese for exports than we would like or care to believe. China, over the past decade, has become our third largest and by far the most rapidly growing major export market. Now, it’s true that the United States isn’t as dependent on exports as China or other Asian economies or even Germany. But in a sluggish consumer demand climate — such as that which we are operating in and have been operating in for the last 8 years in the U.S. — we need exports, which are increasingly an important source of growth. It provided a really big offset to the weakness in the economy and to our early stages of the post-crisis period. And the Chinese demand for U.S. products was an important part of that.
MORE FROM MAKING SEN$E
It’s not just that China is our most rapidly growing major export market, but that growth rate is most likely going to be increasing as China shifts to a more of a consumer-led economy that will draw heavily on products made overseas in countries like the United States. So I don’t think we can just dismiss the fact that the U.S. is not dependent on Chinese markets for exports. And I’d go even further to say that the U.S. has also been heavily dependent on China’s demand for Treasuries to help fund the budget deficits in our deficit-prone economy. I wrote a book a couple of years ago on the codependency between the United States and China — we both depend on each other.
Kristen Doerer: Would you say that the codependency is a bit dangerous or risky? Are we too reliant on each other?
Stephen Roach: Well, it’s not a sustainable state of affairs to become overly reliant on one another, but to take that sort of codependency for granted is also a mistake. For years, we have been beating on the Chinese in political circles and even in academic circles to become more of a consumer-oriented economy. And China has actually taken that advice quite closely and is in the early stages of shifting its growth equation away from exports and investment to consumption demand.
But what happens when they do that is that the surplus savings that they have built up for years that has been invested in U.S. Treasuries — surplus savings that they have lent effectively to the United States on very favorable terms — now gets absorbed in their own shift to consumer-led economies. And if China isn’t there to buy the Treasuries and surpluses we need to grow, and we are unwilling or unable to boost our own savings, how are we going to grow? That’s a question that we need to address in looking to our own growth strategy in the United States.
Kristen Doerer: Are we afraid that China is going to dump U.S. bonds and drive up our interest rates, as we have to offer more attractive returns to lenders to get them to buy our bonds?
Stephen Roach: No, we’re not afraid of this at all, and we probably should be. Not that they’re going to sell huge positions in U.S. Treasuries, but we just can’t take for granted that China will always be there to be a predictable and important source of buying Treasuries in our savings-short, deficit-prone economy. And the only way that China will begin to unload these Treasuries is if we get overly aggressive and put a tax on, say, Chinese goods that continue to play a part in fueling our imports.
There’s one candidate, who shall remain nameless, who has made the brilliant proposal of putting a 45 percent tariff on all Chinese products in the U.S. I mean that’s absolutely ludicrous. If we do that, you could expect China to unload Treasuries as a quick protocol. We’ll see how that makes America great again, but I don’t want to name any names.
We have to recognize the relationship between the United States and China is very important, but that it’s a two-way relationship. We depend on them, and they depend on us. And when one partner in a codependent relationship changes in human terms, it has significant implications for the other, and that’s true in economic terms as well.
MORE FROM MAKING SEN$E
Kristen Doerer: MIT economist Yasheng Huang warned the NewsHour audience about an over-construction bubble about a decade ago. Is that over-construction bubble finally catching up with the Chinese economy?
Stephen Roach: Well, there’s been a huge amount of discussion about ghost cities and high investment, and I think some of the concerns are legitimate, but the broad thrust of the critique is overblown. China is committed to urbanization and rural-urban migration is a central foundation building block of its development strategy, and there is a high-investment requirement associated with that commitment. And there have been some mistakes along the way in terms of too rapid a pace of construction and some projects with low economic returns, but in large part, given the urbanization prospects in the future, I think China is going to have to continue to run a much higher investment to GDP ratio than most are willing to concede. And look, the economics are very clear, Kristen. Investment is a means to an end, and the ultimate driver of economic activity is rapid productivity growth, and you need an increasing stock of fixed capital relative to labor to continue to boost productivity growth. China’s stock of productive capital relative to labor is still very, very low. It’s still about 13 to 15 percent of that in the United States and Japan. And so by focusing on the flow, which is investment to GDP, you’re overlooking the fact that the stock of capital is still too low and needs to rise significantly in the years ahead.
Kristen Doerer: I keep hearing about the ghost cities, and I’m curious to what degree that is an exaggeration? To what degree is that going on in China right now?
Stephen Roach: It is an exaggeration. There are development projects that have been built on the basis of speculation, but they’ve been exaggerated in terms of scope and the incidences of these problems. China moves between 15 and 20 million people a year from the countryside to the cities. They are going to be doing that from now until 2025 or 2030. They don’t do urbanization the way the India does, bringing people into cities and not building shelter, roads, bridges, highways and infrastructure. China builds in anticipation of that. So a lot of the urban developments — whether it’s residential complexes and office complexes or empty airports, roads and bridges — are aimed at providing the urban foundations for what’s going to be another 250 to 300 million people moving into these cities over the next 10 to 15 years. Some of it has gotten well ahead of the rate of absorption of this capacity by the likely rural-urban migration over the next few years, but I think over time, you’ll see an awful lot of this turn out to be very much in line with the rural-urban migration trajectory that I just traced out.
Kristen Doerer: So most of these ghost cities are going to be filled soon?
Stephen Roach: That may be a bit of a stretch. They will be filled. The first ghost city I saw was Shanghai Pudong in the mid-1990s and people made the same point about Shanghai Pudong. Now it’s fully occupied with 5 and a half million people. And there’s one that everybody has popularizes, that’s Ordos in inner Mongolia, and it is a ghost city. But even there, it’s in an area that is rich in energy resources, and eventually, it will be more popular than it is today. But has development gotten ahead of itself? Absolutely.
Kristen Doerer: Is a long-term Chinese bust now in progress?
Stephen Roach: No, it’s not. The fixation is on headline GDP. The 30-year trend was 10 percent, the latest number was 6.9 percent or 6.8 percent if you want to look at a quarter-to-quarter basis. There are those that tell you that the number is a third of that, and somehow they know more than the Chinese statisticians do. I would dismiss that.
But if you take the numbers literally, there’s been a material slowing of the growth rate, and the crash landing means that there has to be further repeated cumulative decline in this growth rate down to a low single digit or even negative territory. I think that is a complete fabrication and exaggeration. The story of China is not the slowing of top-line GDP, but the shift in the mix of GDP from manufacturing to services, from investment and exports to consumption. And there is really excellent progress on the first count, on the manufacturing to services, where the service share is now over 50 percent of the GDP, 10 points higher than the share going to manufacturing and construction combined. The second piece of this — the shift to consumption — is glacial, and there’s very little progress thus far, but I think there will be significant progress over the next 3 to 5 years.
Kristen Doerer: Why do you think that will work out and that the shift to consumption will increase?
Stephen Roach: They have a strategy with three key building blocks that are now being put in place. One, more job creation, and that’s what you get from services, which are far more labor intensive in China than the old manufacturing sector. Two, higher real wages, and that comes from rural-urban migration. Urban workers earn about three times their counterparts in the countryside. The combination of those two factors, services-led job creation and urbanization with increases in real wages, gives Chinese families an increasing share of personal income as a portion of GDP. And that gets you to the third building block, which is putting in place a social safety net, which encourages families to spend their income, rather than save it out of fear of an uncertain future. So far, that’s been the major fly in the ointment, the disappointment here.
The savings rate for urban families is high and still rising. But I think the government recognizes the need to provide more incentives for families to convert that saving and that precautionary, peer-driven savings into discretionary consumption. They have enacted reforms — which were actually reinforced by a big meeting in late October of 2015 — to provide a more secure safety net in terms of retirement, health care, the funding of those plans through taxes on state-owned enterprises and further liberalization of interest rates to provide more interest income to augment the labor income. They’ve made benefits more portable now, so they now depend on where you work, not where you were born, and this deals with this sort of antiquated household registration system, which limited the portability of benefits.
And finally, they’ve addressed an issue they’ve needed to address for decades that has really exacerbated the fear of the future, and this is the one-child family planning policy, which really puts huge pressure on the young working age population to fund the retirement security of their parents and their grandparents. And so by relaxing family planning controls, that addresses it. So these are all important developments in terms of buttressing the social safety net, that I think ultimately, but not immediately, will give Chinese families the confidence to begin stepping out as consumers rather than savers.
MORE FROM PBS NEWSHOUR
Kristen Doerer: China’s government said that it grew by 6.9 percent last year. You had touched upon this before, but do you believe the official numbers? And if not, how far off are they?
Stephen Roach: Well, I don’t believe the numbers to a tenth of a decimal point for any economy in the world. I’ve written for years about the inaccuracies of U.S. economic statistics. I think that China has comparable problems in majoring its economy with accuracy, but not for reasons that most would lead you to believe, because it’s a conspiracy on the part of a bunch of communists that are trying to pull wool over our eyes or whatever. It’s very difficult for them, it’s very difficult for us to measure the pace of economic activity in a system where the structure is changing as rapidly as it is in China. Services are notoriously hard to measure, and that’s true in the United States, and that’s true in China. Shifting to this hard to measure service sector is a big challenge for government statisticians all over the world.
The World Bank and economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco sort of conclude that there is standard error around the growth rate of about 1 percentage point in either direction in terms of GDP. And I think that that’s a fairly reasonable guess as to how far the numbers are off. The important thing to note is that the numbers, as flawed as they may be, are doing a good job of capturing this big shift from this slower growth in the Chinese economy and a shift in the mix again from manufacturing to services, from investment and exports to consumption, and I think that we have to look at the numbers with that in mind. They’re giving you a good approximation of the big stories that are emerging right now in China.
Kristen Doerer: So you would say that it’s probably off by 1 percent up or down?
Stephen Roach: I say that based on the research that has been done by the World Bank and the San Francisco Fed.
Kristen Doerer: Is there anything else that you think the NewsHour audience should know about?
Stephen Roach: There’s one thing I wrote about the other week on the Financial Times. All eyes are on plunging oil prices, and the standard explanation is that it’s about supply — the Saudis aren’t cutting back and America is now the swing producer for fracking. There’s just a glut of supply on the market.
I think there’s more to it than that, and China’s playing a very important role on the demand side of the equation. In the 10 years ending in 2014, China — even though it’s hugely dependent on coal as its major source of fuel — accounted for 48 percent of the total growth in the world oil demand in physical terms. Forty-eight percent. China is now growing more slowly and shifting to low carbon services, so this huge source of demand for global oil is about to unwind or has started to unwind. And I think that that underscores the role that China is playing and will continue to play on the downside of the oil price cycle, and the same logic and argument is true for other industrial commodities including base metals.
The post Will China’s shift to a consumer-oriented economy succeed? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats on Thursday proposed up to $400 million in emergency federal aid to Flint, Michigan, half of what the state’s Republican governor says it will cost to replace and fix the city’s lead-contaminated pipes. Senate Republicans were non-committal on whether they would back the measure that would spend money without any offsetting budget cuts and add to the deficit.
The Senate could vote as early as next week on the proposal, a move with political implications as Democrats insist that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and other state officials ignored a dire problem in the majority black city of 100,000 north of Detroit.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said “there’s no doubt” in her mind that if the water problem had occurred in a wealthy, white community, the state would have responded immediately.
Pointing to a large photo of brown water in a Flint sink, Stabenow said that if one of Snyder’s supporters had called the governor’s office “and said, ‘Our water looks like this. It smells. Our children are getting rashes. People are losing their hair. Help us.’ I don’t think it would be very long at all before it was fixed.”
The amendment proposed by Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., would require the state of Michigan to match the $400 million federal spending on Flint pipes, dollar for dollar.
“This is a state responsibility,” Peters said at a news conference Thursday at the Capitol. “The state broke it. They need to fix it.”
Flint’s water became contaminated when the financially-struggling city switched from the Detroit municipal system and began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. The city was under state control at the time.
Regulators failed to ensure the water was treated properly and lead from pipes leached into the supply, leading to a spike in child lead exposure. Some children’s blood has tested positive for lead, a potent neurotoxin linked to learning disabilities, lower IQ and behavioral problems
Snyder has estimated the cost of replacing Flint’s water supply infrastructure at $767.4 million, although local officials peg the cost at twice that amount.
The measure introduced by Stabenow and Peters requires federal action if a state refuses to warn the public about unsafe water and authorizes $20 million a year for 10 years to monitor lead exposure in Flint. The measure also would require the Environmental Protection Agency to alert the public if there is a danger from lead in the water system, if the state refuses to act.
The Michigan senators and other Democrats offered the measure Thursday as an amendment to a bipartisan Senate energy bill.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the water problems in Flint “disgraceful” and said “thousands of young children have lead coursing in their veins,” not in an impoverished country but in the United States.
Peters said the issue was not partisan. “This is about the children of Flint,” he said.
But other Democrats said the crisis in Flint came amid continuing Republican attacks on government regulation, particularly those aimed at the environment.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., decried what he called a “persistent and very well-funded campaign’ by Republicans and business interests to “deride and degrade environmental protections” and even eliminate the EPA.
Whitehouse said the children of Flint “aren’t big shots, they don’t vote, but they sure as heck are entitled to drink water that isn’t poisoning them and damaging their brain development.”
The Senate proposal came as the Michigan Legislature unanimously approved $28 million in new funding to address lead contamination in Flint. The emergency spending bill includes money for more bottled water and filters and services to monitor for developmental delays in young children. The money also will help the city with unpaid water bills and cover testing, monitoring and other costs.
The Senate was voting Thursday on amendments to the energy bill, the first comprehensive energy legislation to come up for a vote in the Senate in nine years.
The wide-ranging bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., would update building codes to increase efficiency, strengthen electric grid safety standards and promote development of an array of energy forms, from renewables such as solar and wind power, to natural gas, hydropower and even geothermal energy.
Fierce partisan fights over the measure are expected as lawmakers offer amendments responding to President Barack Obama’s energy policies and efforts to slow climate change.
The post Senate Democrats pitch $400 million fix for lead pipes in Flint appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Three fugitives are in custody after an audacious escape from a Southern California jail last week.
One escapee, Bac Duong, 43, turned himself in to police on Friday, a week after the fugitives fled a Los Angeles-area detention center.
By Saturday morning, the authorities closed in on the two remaining prisoners in San Francisco.
Hossein Nayeri, 37, and Jonathan Tieu, 20, were spotted by a citizen who recognized a police description of their stolen white van and called the authorities, who captured one man after a foot chase and found the other hiding inside the vehicle.
“A citizen saw someone, saw something suspicious, notified an officer, and that notification ultimately led to the apprehension of two armed and dangerous suspects,” said a San Francisco spokeswoman in the hours following their capture.
Police said later said they did not find a weapon on the men, but did find ammunition inside the van.
There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.
The trio been awaiting trial for various violent crimes, including a murder charge, when on Jan. 22 they broke out of an inmate dormitory where they were being held outside of Los Angeles, according to the Associated Press.
The men cut through metal and shimmied through the detention center’s air ducts before they descended from the building’s roof on bed sheets they had strung together, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Police have arrested several people since the men escaped the detentions facility, including an English-as-a-second-language teacher who is suspected of aiding their escape, according to authorities.
MANCHESTER, Iowa — Bernie Sanders implored Iowa supporters Saturday to get on their feet in two days and turn their monthslong infatuation with his upstart campaign into actual votes – a call to action echoed by Democratic and Republican hopefuls in a frenzied weekend prelude to the first presidential contest of the 2016 race.
On the Republican side, Ted Cruz directed much of his last-gasp advertising against Marco Rubio, as if hearing the Florida senator’s footsteps creeping up on him. Cruz chugged across the state on a mission to visit all 99 counties before Monday’s caucuses.
Considered to be vying with front-runner Donald Trump, Cruz denounced the next in line, according to polls, with ads sharply challenging Rubio’s conservative credentials. One ad said darkly of Rubio: “Tax hikes. Amnesty. The Republican Obama.”
“A deceitful campaign,” Rubio said in response to Cruz. “Kitchen sink attacks,” he said. “That’s what they throw at you.”
Trump, the showman of the Republican race and its front-runner, made a dramatic entrance to a Dubuque rally as his jet flew low over a hangar half-filled by the waiting crowd and music played from the movie “Air Force One.” There was more drama inside, as a small group of protesters interrupted him and Trump joined the crowd in chanting “USA” to drown out the discord.
He asked security to “get them out” but “don’t hurt them.”
Iowa offers only a small contingent of the delegates who will determine the nominees, but the game of expectations counts for far more than the electoral math in the state. Campaigns worked aggressively to set those expectations in their favor (meaning, lower them) for Iowa, next-up New Hampshire and beyond.
Asked whether Rubio could win or come second, his senior strategist Todd Harris laughingly responded with an obscenity and said the goal in Iowa is third, behind the flamboyant Trump and the highly organized Cruz.
“There’s no question we are feeling some wind at our back,” he told The Associated Press. But, he added, “It’s very hard to compete with the greatest show on earth and the greatest ground game in Iowa history. So we feel very confident that what we need to do here is finish a strong third. I don’t care what any of the polls say, Ted Cruz is going to win this caucus.”
With that, he tried to set expectations so that if Rubio finishes better than third, it can be proclaimed a great performance and if Cruz doesn’t win, it will be seen as a great failure.
At a Manchester rally, Sanders spoke for many when he called the Democratic contest against Hillary Clinton a likely tossup, to be won and lost according to how many Iowans invest the time and energy to make it to caucus sites.
“It’s virtually tied,” Sanders said, a reasonable summation of polls. “We will win the caucus on Monday night if there is a large voter turnout. We will lose the caucus on Monday night if there is a low voter turnout.”
The Vermont senator and Democratic socialist said “the eyes of America, in fact much of the world” would be on Iowa, and the state could be a model for the nation and the future of American democracy. But people need to come out in droves to make that statement.
“When ordinary people, working people, middle class people, seniors, young people become involved in the political process, we can transform this country and we can win here in Iowa,” Sanders said.
Clinton has worked assiduously to avoid a repeat of 2008, when then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama scored a surprise win in Iowa, she dropped to third and her days as the prohibitive favorite for the nomination faded. She faced the prospect of escalating political heat from revelations Friday that the private email server she used when she was Obama’s first secretary of state contained top-secret messages that should have remained within proper, secured channels.
That heat was coming from Republicans; Sanders earlier declared the email flap a nonissue in his mind.
But at his Manchester rally, Ruth Lewin, a retired grocery store clerk and child care provider, said the latest news about Clinton’s emails reinforced why she will be caucusing for Sanders on Monday.
“It’s a matter of honesty, integrity along with other issues I have about her,” Lewin said. “When you get $600,000 for a speaking engagement, I mean that’s more than I’ve made in my entire lifetime.”
And Sanders? “I believe he’s like we are,” she said.
Clinton campaigned at Iowa State University in Ames with gun-control advocates Gabby Giffords and husband Mark Kelly, drawing an implicit contrast between her push for stricter laws with Sanders’ mixed record on guns
“How can we continue to ignore the toll that this is taking on our children and our country?” Clinton asked. “When you go to caucus Monday night please think of this.”
The Clinton and Sanders campaigns reached agreement to hold a debate in New Hampshire this coming week and three more in the spring, supplementing a light debate schedule that has favored weekend slots when fewer people watch TV. The tentative New Hampshire event is to be held Thursday, giving voters a chance to see the field debate before the state’s primary Feb. 9.
Bauer reported from Ames, Iowa. Associated Press writers Steve Peoples, Lisa Lerer and Tom Beaumont in Iowa and Julie Bykowicz in Washington contributed to this report.
ALISON STEWART, PBS NEWSHOUR ANCHOR: And Judy Woodruff is in Iowa capital of Des Moines and joins me now for more on caucuses.
Judy, when you do the math, you realize there’s only 30 delegates at stake for the Republicans, 44 for Democrats. In the giant big picture, that’s about 1 percent of all the delegates.
So, this really isn’t about the math, is it? This is really about something bigger.
JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS NEWSHOUR ANCHOR: It’s not about the numbers. It’s about that Iowa is first. It’s the reason that probably the entire political press corps in the United States, which is usually somewhere between Washington and New York, is now in the state of Iowa.
It’s because the results in Iowa catapult the winner and also the person who second, even third, on to the next contest, in New Hampshire, and then beyond that to South Carolina and Nevada. But it’s all about who came out of the first state where they went door to door, appealing directly to voters — who did the best job of connecting.
ALISON STEWART: The Republicans are focusing clearly on differentiating themselves from the Obama administration’s legacy, policy, health reform, immigration. Ted Cruz at the forefront of this. I know you went to one of his rallies. How is that message landing?
JUDY WOODRUFF: I did go to one of the Ted Cruz rallies today in Ames. It was an overflow crowd in the convention kind of meeting room there. Very enthusiastic for Ted Cruz. His supporters are hard-core conservatives who absolutely love the message, the anti-Obama message, down the line.
But the question for Cruz is whether the Donald Trump phenomenon, which has absolutely upended this race, is going to overcome the organization and the anti-Obama message of Ted Cruz. And, frankly, the fact that there are just still so many candidates in the race, more than a dozen Republicans are running.
ALISON STEWART: Well, when we talk about how the Democrats are positioning themselves, they’re obviously both vying for Obama supporters. Hillary Clinton presenting herself as heir in some ways. Senator Bernie Sanders saying, hey, I think we should go farther on health reform. I think we should go after Wall Street.
How is that playing out?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it is a huge battle between Clinton and Sanders. Hillary Clinton came into Iowa, and people presumed she was going to walk away with this because of her pedigree, her resume. It hasn’t been that at all.
Bernie Sanders has run a very tough race here right now. It’s competitive. He has young people in the state are supporting him by enormous margins.
She, on the other hand, has worked the state very hard. She learned some lessons from 2008 when she thought she was doing well and lost to Barack Obama.
It is, Alison, about who can carry on the Obama legacy, but as you said, it’s also, in Bernie Sanders’ case, it’s about who can do more with it than what President Obama has done? Who can do an even better job of bringing health care to all Americans? Bernie Sanders talks about single-payer health care and so on down the list, whether it’s going after Wall Street or some of these other issues that are important to liberals.
ALISON STEWART: And before we let you go, former Secretary of State Clinton won the endorsement of “The New York Times,” as well as “The Des Moines Register” there in Iowa.
What else does “The Register” have planned today?
JUDY WOODRUFF: They are going to hold a news conference after this program is off the air, announcing the last poll before the caucuses. Historically, “The Des Moines Register” has done better than anybody else forecasting the outcome. Their pollster, Ann Selzer, famously predicted Barack Obama was going to win the caucuses in 2008, when most others were predicting something different.
So, a lot of people are paying attention. It’s so big that “The Des Moines Register” is having a news conference to announce this poll when it comes out tonight.
ALISON STEWART: Judy Woodruff, thank you so much.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Great to talk to you.
The post Battle for Iowa: Candidates close in on first voters of 2016 race appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: At the midday formation at the U.S Military Academy at West Point every cadet is subject to inspection.
The way they stand, salute, and march is part of their development of a U.S Army officer.
But across this Hudson River campus in the basement of the social sciences building a new aspect of cadet education is underway.
While lacking the ritual and repetition that dominate this prestigious 214-year-old academy, the virtual warfare tactics explored in this counter-terrorism elective may one day prove to be as integral as the midday formation.
COL. BRYAN PRICE: Information has always been crucial to warfare, and so when you take a look at propaganda, over the years it’s always influenced the fight in some capacity.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Price directs West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.
COL. BRYAN PRICE: If you take a look at the dollars that the United States government is putting into its counter-narrative campaign and then you compare it to the emphasis that organizations like the Islamic state is placing on it I think we are operating at a deficit.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: The Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is running a 21st century social media blitz, and its preferred platform is Twitter.
Cadets in this classroom are one of 45 college teams developing an online campaign against extremists. The cadets are part of a “peer to peer” competition sponsored by the U.S. state department, the department of Homeland Security, Facebook, and EdVenture Partners.
COL. BRYAN PRICE: This is the demographics and the generation that the Islamic state and other jihadist organizations are targeting. So why not utilize what appeals to that generation?
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: The target of Price’s class is what they call “fence sitters” — people who may or may not be interested in joining ISIS or other jihadi groups. Using a multi-platform approach, they hope to surreptitiously lure social media users already engaged in conversations surrounding “jihad,” and other extremist ideas to their own website, Facebook page, twitter account, and YouTube channel
We have obscured the social media pages to avoid compromising the cadets ongoing campaign.
COL. BRYAN PRICE: We are not thinking that we are going to create a social media campaign that is going to stop card carrying members of the Islamic State and have them put down their arms. What we’re trying to do is to identify at risk youth and create a community online to which they can go get answers, information about the Islamic State. About jihad. About Islam. And those folks that haven’t quite made up their mind yet.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: The cadets are searching for ways to insert their messages into the broader social media conversation – all without being detected as West Point cadets. Sometimes they do this by exploiting the use of twitter hashtags.
COL. BRYAN PRICE: The Islamic state does a very good job of utilizing trending hashtags in order to get on sites, and get on people– people’s twitter feeds, where they wouldn’t normally be on there. For example, so, if the super bowl was trending, they will include whatever messages they want, but they all include the hashtag, #superbowl. And so we are trying, utilizing some of those same techniques.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Direct messaging also allows the cadets to interact one on one with users.
CJ DREW: This is someone from the Middle East in our 18 to 40 age bracket, telling us we have a nice page.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: During our visit, the cadets said they received a Facebook message from someone they believed to be in the Middle East. Senior CJ Drew was one of the first to read it.
CJ DREW: In this in this instance, we were reached out to by a person who had seen our page. And the first thing that came up to them was jihad. And they looked like they were a fence-sitter or someone we consider to be vulnerable to targeting by ISIS, and they wanted more information and they wanted to engage us and tell us what jihad meant to them.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Drew, who speaks Arabic, says their posts need to
balance writing in English and other languages to look as authentic as possible. If a post has too much polish, the team risks exposing itself.
CJ DREW: We had a couple times where I was able to use hashtags that ISIS uses a lot, especially after the Paris attacks. And we had multiple conversations with some of ’em.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: While West Point’s approach is to enter a conversation already underway, this New York University graduate class is looking for individuals who might not be in the the conversation at all.
The class created the number “7 train stop” project — named after the New York City subway line that runs through the city’s most diverse borough, Queens.
The online platform encourages immigrants to share their experiences living in the borough. NYU professor Colette Mazzucelli teaches the class.
COLETTE MAZZUCELLI: We wanted to really focus on the difficulties, the vulnerabilities of immigrant integration and the ways in which immigrants are vulnerable. They might be more prone to indoctrination so we felt that we wanted to emphasize both the diversity of the area, the integration that comes with that, as well as the need to really be aware that indoctrination happens when communities are vulnerable. And therefore we have to promote this idea of the american narrative, which is to integrate these immigrants in these communities, well into their new environments.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: In the United States, the number of individuals radicalized by ISIS is believed to be lower than in Europe but is also believed to be increasing. So far, the U.S. government has brought criminal charges against about 80 people for ISIS-related activities — 61 cases last year – the most new cases in any year since the September 11, 2001, attacks.
SEAMUS HUGHES: Social media plays a big role in the recruitment of Americans who join ISIS.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Seamus Hughes, Deputy Director of The George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, is the co-author of “ISIS in America: From retweets to Raqqa.
SEAMUS HUGHES: We don’t have communities that radicalize in the U.S. We have individuals. They are going online, and they are finding like-minded individuals, they are not finding it at mosques and community centers.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Hughes says radical messages online are like an echo
SEAMUS HUGHES: We look at about 300 accounts of Americans we believe to be ISIS supporters online, over a six-month period, and what we saw is they didn’t hear dissenting voices. They only heard what they wanted to hear. They were only pushing the propaganda that they believed in, so when you have people trying to interject themselves into the conversation, they were quickly pushed out.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Last year Hughes monitored an alleged ISIS supporter — an Ohio man who called himself “lone wolf” on Twitter. Twitter regularly suspended his account, only to see “lone wolf” return again and again. The user was eventually arrested after he allegedly released the home addresses of U.S. soldiers and urged people to kill them.
SEAMUS HUGHES: It’s very hard to try to figure out when someone’s gonna make that leap over to militancy.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: The Peer 2 Peer competition that NYU and West Point are involved in, also called P2P, is part of the State Department’s acknowledgement that it needs to change its approach.
EVAN RYAN: What we need to do is get in the middle and get in the middle so that we can actually reach people who are at risk of recruitment.
Evan Ryan is the Assistant Secretary of State for education and cultural affairs and a P2P competition judge.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: The U.S. State Department, for lack of a better term, has struggled in this space, why do you think that is?
EVAN RYAN: Well listen, we can’t do this on our own. We need to work with partners across the board, and that’s what we are doing with this program P2P, working with university students, but we are reaching out broadly, to organizations, the private sector, other entities, putting minds together to think about how we can best address this problem.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: And one of the big questions, I guess, surrounding these private partnerships is their dealings overseas. Obviously Facebook, Twitter, these are global users, so they are juggling a lot of parameters, is it difficult to bring them into the fold?
EVAN RYAN: I think they understand this is where this demographic that we are trying to reach lives today. They live online. They live on these platforms, so when we are able to sit down with a Facebook and have them as a partner that is really important to us and we are looking forward to establishing more partnerships just like that.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: The P2P competition is not the first time the state department has experimented in this space. Until last year, Alberto Fernandez was State’s Coordinator for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications.
To counter extremist propaganda, his team launched the “Think Again, Turn Away,” campaign, which included the release of the video titled “Welcome to the Islamic State land,” a graphic, minute-long video meant to undercut the group’s message with satire.
ALBERTO FERNANDEZ: What we tried to do when I was there is we tried to be extreme and radical and we were too extreme and too radical for government, but not extreme and radical enough for the challenge we face, so we kind of fell between two stools.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Now with the Middle East Media Research Institute, Fernandez says while the P2P competition is step in the right direction, it is only a small part of the new strategy needed.
ALBERTO FERNANDEZ: So if you are talking about a revolutionary insurgent organization, which is the Islamic state, it is going to take a while for government to turn that old battle ship around. I think the idea that, with all due respect, that West Point cadets are going to be able to do that deep dive, to have that time to follow through and the depth to do it is probably unlikely.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Perhaps, but the scale of the task does not seem to bother these cadets. In this competition of 45 teams, their entry was selected as one of three finalists. Next month, they will head to the Washington to present their project.
The post Recruiting college students to fight extremists online appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
ALISON STEWART, PBS NEWSHOUR ANCHOR: Medical researchers have discovered a gene that increases the risk of schizophrenia, a mental illness that affects more than 2 million Americans, sometimes causing delusions and hallucinations. The finding was first reported this week in the scientific journal “Nature”.
Steven McCarroll, an associate professor of genetics at Harvard University, is the study’s lead author. He joins me now from San Francisco.
Professor, what was the conventional wisdom about schizophrenia prior to this study, and what was the missing piece of research about that brain disorder that scientists were looking so hard for?
STEVEN MCCARROLL, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well, there have been hundreds of theories about schizophrenia over the decades, and it has been hard to tell which, if any of those theories was right.
What’s new here say very strong genetic link to a very specific gene, and specific versions of that gene, and understanding of what that gene actually does and how it shapes the wiring of the brain.
ALISON STEWART: So, can you walk us through what that gene does?
STEVEN MCCARROLL: So, this gene, which is called C4, is in the neighborhood of the human genome that has hundreds of immune systems in it. And that region was previously linked to schizophrenia.
What we discovered though when we got to the bottom of it and figured out what gene is propelling the signal is it is a gene, yes, comes from the immune system but it has this night job in the brain and that, in fact, it plays a role in instructing the wiring of the brain by causing synapses, the connections between nerve cells, to be eliminated at particular times in development.
ALISON STEWART: Now, this elimination, that’s a normal occurrence. What you discovered is that it goes farther than that. It goes haywire?
STEVEN MCCARROLL: That’s right. All of us go through lots of synapse eliminations in our teens and 20s, and it involves the product of this gene. But what we believe based on these results is that that process somehow goes awry, and in particular, it may go into overdrive and result in the elimination of too many synapses.
ALISON STEWART: So, what does this information– how does it help us with the diagnosis of schizophrenia and with the treatment of schizophrenia?
STEVEN MCCARROLL: Drugs for schizophrenia today treat just one of the symptoms of schizophrenia, which is the symptom called psychosis, which are the hallucinations and delusions. Those are actually just one of many symptoms of schizophrenia. And if you ask most patients what are the symptoms that most bother them, what they will tell you is it’s the agonizing cognitive decline that many of them suffer in their first decade after diagnosis.
There are no drugs today that address either the cognitive losses in schizophrenia or the emotional withdrawal or the underlying disease.
ALISON STEWART: So, if I’m understanding what you’re say, the idea is this genetic component is a way to identify the disease before you even have to deal with the symptoms.
STEVEN MCCARROLL: Well, the genetics is a way to understand the disease. You know, when we were in school, we learned it’s genetics that we learned was this very simple genetics — big B, little B. It turns out almost no common diseases work that way. They’re shaped by the interplay of hundreds of genes.
And discovering those genes is a way of telling us what those key biological processes are so that you can point drug development toward the right biological processes. But testing for any one of those genes in the absence of that complete understanding doesn’t teach you anything.
So, we don’t recommend that all. The key thing is going to be understanding the disease well enough to develop new medicines and make the same kinds of progress that we’ve seen in cancer over the last 10 or 20 years.
ALISON STEWART: Steven McCarroll, thank you so much for explaining your work.
STEVEN MCCARROLL: You’re welcome.
The post Scientists open ‘black box’ of schizophrenia by discovering potential genetic cause appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is clinging to a narrow lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with two days left before Monday’s Iowa caucus, a new poll shows.
Clinton is leading Sanders 45 to 42 percent among likely Democratic caucus-goers, according to a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll released Saturday evening. Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley came in third with three percent.
“Our campaign has come a very long way in eight months. In late May, according to the Register/Bloomberg poll, we were down by 41 points. Today we are virtually tied. The momentum is with us,” Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, said in a statement.
The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to the poll.
Clinton’s lead fell within the poll’s four-point margin of error. The survey of 602 likely Democratic caucus goers was taken Jan. 26-29.
Sanders is counting on a big turnout to spur him to victory, and political insiders agree that an above-average turnout would likely help the Vermont senator, but it remains to be seen how many of his supporters will actually show up on Monday.
Clinton is leading among Democrats who say that they are “definitely” going to caucus, the poll found. Sanders is up with Democrats who say they’ll “probably” caucus on Monday.
The numbers could shift in the next 48 hours as Clinton and Sanders make their final plea to voters at campaign stops across Iowa.
But the pre-caucus Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll, by the pollster Ann Selzer, is viewed by many as the gold standard in predicting the final outcome.
Selzer became famous for accurately predicting that Barack Obama would beat Clinton in the 2008 in a poll ahead of that year’s Democratic caucus.
The post Clinton holds narrow lead over Sanders in latest poll ahead of Iowa caucuses appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
DES MOINES, Iowa — The Latest on the 2016 race for president on the final weekend of campaigning before Monday’s leadoff Iowa caucuses (all times local):
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says the hubbub over whether she had secret emails on her server is “very much like Benghazi,” a politically motivated scandal that’s likely not as serious as Republicans suggest.
Clinton told ABC’s “This Week” that “it’s pretty clear” that Republicans are “grasping at straws” in their response to the latest release of emails from Clinton’s private home server. The State Department announced it’s withholding some of those emails because the information they contain is too highly classified. The former secretary of state says she’s been told some of that email correspondence included a public newspaper article. Clinton insists she never sent or received information on her personal email account that was classified at the time. She repeated her call for the emails’ release.
As secretary of state, Clinton presided over a key piece of the government’s response to the deadly 2012 assaults on a diplomatic compound and CIA quarters in Benghazi, Libya. The attacks killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and quickly became a political rallying cry for Republicans.
Republican presidential contender Donald Trump says “many” senators will endorse his candidacy, “very soon.”
Trump tells on ABC’s “This Week” that members of the Senate will choose him over their own colleague, Sen. Ted Cruz, who is also Trump’s top rival in Iowa. Trump did not offer any senators’ names.
Trump says Cruz is “a nasty guy” and a “liar,” particularly about whether Trump essentially supports President Barack Obama’s signature national health care program. Trump says he would replace that law and make other deals that would accomplish his public policy goals.
Cruz says the nation doesn’t need a deal-maker, it needs a “fighter” for conservative causes.
Bernie Sanders says he’s ready to turn the political world upside down in Iowa.
The Democratic presidential candidate says that if his supporters turn out in large numbers for Monday night’s caucuses, “I think you’re going to look at one of the biggest political upsets in the modern history of our country.”
The Vermont senator is in a tight race with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Sanders tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that his campaign has gotten lots of people involved in politics who hadn’t been before. He mentions the working class as well as young people who no longer “want to sit back” but want to help direct their country’s future.
Donald Trump isn’t shy about boasting, but the Republican presidential front-runner says he also has a humble side.
Here’s what he tells CBS’ ” Face the Nation” in an interview: “We’re all the same. I mean, we’re all going to the same place, probably one of two places, you know? But we’re all the same. And I do have, actually, much more humility than a lot of people would think.”
Asked about hiding that side, the billionaire businessman says, “I’d rather not play my cards. I want to be unpredictable.”
One thing he’s not lacking is confidence. In the interview, he said “none of the other guys will win.”
The post Clinton: GOP ‘grasping at straws’ over e-mail controversy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Democrats would hold a presidential debate next week in New Hampshire before the state’s first-in-the-nation primary and three more in the spring under a tentative deal reached Saturday between the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaigns.
Both camps said the agreement was not final and that the Democratic National Committee had yet to sign off on the deal, which remained under negotiation. In testy statements, the Clinton and Sanders campaigns publicly aired their demands for site locations, underscoring tensions between the two sides in the days before Monday’s leadoff Iowa caucuses.
Both campaigns have competing interests in adding debates. Clinton trails Sanders in New Hampshire and wants the proposed debate next Thursday to help her reach undecided voters before the state’s primary on Feb. 9. Sanders hopes to extend the primary season deep into the spring and adding three more forums might help him accomplish that goal.
The DNC did not immediately comment on the tentative agreement, first reported by BuzzFeed.
In recent days, Clinton has urged the party to add the televised forums, and Sanders has been willing to appear at the proposed debate next week in exchange for three more in the spring. Clinton’s campaign requested that one of the additional debates be held in Flint, Michigan, which has been dealing with a crisis involving lead contamination in the city’s water supply.
But Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said in a statement that the Clinton campaign had not accepted debates his team proposed for March 3 in Michigan and April 14 in New York. He said they “apparently agreed” to May 24 in California.
He said that Sanders would be pleased to debate Clinton in Flint, Michigan, before the Michigan primary as long as Clinton will agree to one in Brooklyn, New York, on April 14. Clinton’s campaign headquarters are in Brooklyn.
“Why won’t they debate in Brooklyn? What’s the matter with Brooklyn?” he said.
Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta responded that there is “nothing worse than a debate about debates” and said the Sanders campaign’s demands had been met.
“Now they refuse to take yes for an answer, apparently because they are intent on avoiding a debate in New Hampshire. Enough of the games,” he said, adding that Clinton was prepared to show up for the debate on Thursday and the three additional ones later this spring.
Already scheduled are debates in Wisconsin on Feb. 11 and Florida on March 9.
Campaign officials said the three spring debates would come in late March, April and May.
Clinton and Sanders are in a tight race before the caucuses, and Clinton trails the Vermont senator in New Hampshire, raising the possibility that the Democratic front-runner could lose the first two contests. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, the third candidate, has trailed them by wide margins.
At a stop Saturday in Des Moines, Clinton thanked supporters for agreeing to caucus for her and said she hoped “to persuade some more of you because we’ve got to keep the progress going. We’ve got to support what President Obama has accomplished for our country.”
Sanders told supporters in Manchester that the election was likely a “toss-up” and would hinge on whether he could turn out working-class and young voters.
“We will win the caucus on Monday night if there is a large voter turnout. We will lose the caucus on Monday night if there is a low voter turnout,” Sanders said.
The post Clinton, Sanders campaigns may add New Hampshire debate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
At least six states are quietly bestowing retroactive diplomas on tens of thousands of former students who never passed their state’s required exit exam, sparking a heated debate about rigor, fairness, and the meaning of a high school diploma.
In Georgia alone, more than 17,000 diplomas have been granted that way in just the past nine months, and that number is expected to soar further. Texas has issued at least 4,000 retroactive diplomas, with 12,000 students—and possibly three times that number—still eligible. South Carolina has already conferred more than 6,100 retroactive diplomas and could face similar requests from another 8,000 or more students.
In California, at least 35,000 students now qualify for diplomas even though they failed the required—but now eliminated—exit exam in the past decade. Arizona and Alaska have passed similar legislation, allowing students to apply for diplomas despite failing the test required for graduation.
The novel pathway to graduation has arisen from a national trend in which states are eliminating comprehensive tests in math and English/language arts in favor of end-of-course tests or other measures of high school achievement. States have been throwing over exit exams for years, arguing that they’re useless because they’re often pegged to 8th- or 9th-grade-level skills.
More recently, the states that dropped their graduation exams argued that they don’t reflect the Common Core State Standards.
Then states had to confront a fairness issue: How could they hold students responsible for passing a test that state officials themselves deemed obsolete and too easy? Some states responded with laws that let students off the hook for the exam. But that triggered a backlash in some quarters from advocates who view the policy change as lowering expectations and devaluing the meaning of the diploma for the students who did pass their state’s test.
Opening new doors
Georgia enacted House Bill 91 last March, allowing students who failed various iterations of the state’s exit exam as far back as 1985 to petition for diplomas. A 2012 state study found that high school grade point average was a much better predictor of college success than either of the exit exams Georgia had been using.
So far, 17,337 diplomas have been conferred under the new law, according to the state department of education, but it’s impossible to estimate how many more students might qualify, since the state doesn’t know which ones didn’t graduate solely because of exit-exam failure, said Matt Cardoza, the department’s spokesman.
Misty Hatcher takes part in a computer class at Lanier Technical College in Oakwood, Ga. She said the lack of a high school diploma kept her out of college and in low-paying jobs for years. Now the 28-year-old is working to become a computer-networking specialist.
Students who earn diplomas via HB 91 can’t be added to the state’s past or future graduation-rate calculations, he said.
William Schofield is well aware of the outrage that some Georgians harbor about the high school diplomas awarded under the new law. As the superintendent of the 27,000-student Hall County school system, northeast of Atlanta, he used the law to confer 289 diplomas and defends it as an important way to reverse damage done to people who didn’t fit an older, narrower concept of high school success.
“People say we’ve lowered the bar, and I say, whose bar? The bar of the master auto mechanic in a major market who’s making $105,000?” asked Schofield. “I still get calls from students from years ago, who are well-intended, gifted, with plenty of dreams of their own, but they couldn’t pass one section of the test. Why should we hold back kids like that?”
The exam had held back Misty Hatcher for 10 years. She finished her coursework with her graduating class in 2005, but couldn’t pass the science section of the exit exam.
She begged a local technical college to admit her, but it refused, citing its high school diploma requirement. Hatcher worked as a secretary and then took a $7.50-per-hour job in day care because the schedule was more manageable once she had children, and “you don’t have to have a diploma for that.” For a few years, she kept taking the science test, but she couldn’t pass.
Hatcher applied for and got her diploma under the new state law. And now, at age 28, she’s enrolled at that local technical college and is studying to become a computer-networking specialist. Hatcher hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree in graphic design.
“I didn’t think I’d ever get [a high school diploma],” she said. “When they gave it to me, I was yelling. I couldn’t believe it. I thought, I can finally do something for my kids.”
Jennifer Zinth has been tracking exit exams as a policy analyst at the Education Commission of the States in Denver. She sees the moves to confer retroactive diplomas as a byproduct of many states’ decisions to end the practice of requiring students to pass some kind of test in order to graduate. In 2012, 25 states required such exit exams, according to ECS data. This year, only 13 do.
Exit exams first became popular in the 1970s, she said, to ensure that students had mastered a basic, relatively low level of skills. States embraced new graduation exams in the 1980s and ’90s, to reflect their state standards, but many were still pegged to relatively low skill levels, Zinth said. Since 2000, more states dropped exit exams in favor of end-of-course tests, but more recently, some states have been phasing those out as well, since many want to cut testing time and cost and have college-readiness tests in place, she said.
Like those passed by other states, Texas’ law has stirred controversy. Signed into law last May, Senate Bill 149 allows students in three graduating classes, between 2014-15 and 2016-17, to get diplomas even though they failed one or two of the three required exit exams.
School-based committees consider such students’ cases and allow them to meet exit-exam requirements in other ways, such as showing a portfolio, completing projects, or doing remedial work. Students still must pass all their core courses to graduate.
In the class of 2015, 291,000 took the exit exams, and 16,786 students failed to pass one or two, qualifying them for diplomas under the new law. No one knows yet whether those failure rates will hold true for the next two graduating classes, but if they do, more than 50,000 students would be allowed to fail one or two exit exams and potentially still earn diplomas under SB 149.
‘A free pass?’
That infuriates Bill Hammond, a former state representative who is now the chief executive officer of the Texas Association of Business. The state hasn’t finished compiling statewide data on how many diplomas have been granted so far under that law, but Hammond’s organization surveyed the 100 biggest school districts in Texas last year and found that they had granted 3,974 petitions for diplomas, about 70 percent of those filed in those districts under the measure. Twenty-three of those districts granted every petition filed.
“It’s a very misguided policy. All you have to do is have an IQ above room temperature and you’ve got a diploma,” Hammond said. “What about all those students who worked hard, who tried multiple times to pass? Now their diplomas are worth nothing, the same as those who were given a free pass.”
Republican state Sen. Kel Seliger, who sponsored SB 149, rejected the argument that Texas’ exit exam is an effective safeguard of high school rigor.
On some of those end-of-course tests, which are part of the statewide testing system known as the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, students can get as few as 37 percent of the questions correct and still get a passing score, he said.
“There’s nothing magical about a STAAR test,” Seliger said. “None of the folks in NASA took a STAAR test, and yet they muddled their way to the moon.”
The post States move to issue high school diplomas retroactively appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
MASON CITY, Iowa — Bernie Sanders’ stump speech offers “radical” ideas and a voice rising in outrage as he describes the plight of a disappearing middle class, retirees scraping by on meager Social Security payments and recent college graduates struggling with debt.
But the Vermont senator now also has the sheen of a contender.
He peppers audiences with his favorable poll numbers and describes what a “Sanders administration” might offer. He takes selfies along the rope line as David Bowie’s “Starman” blares over the loudspeakers and now weaves quips into his long-winded speeches.
“When we began this campaign, people said, ‘Well, it’s true Bernie combs his hair really nice. He is a fantastic dresser,'” Sanders dead-panned during a speech in Music Man Square in Mason City, Iowa. “But despite those realities, he is a fringe candidate! Who in America believes we should be taking on the billionaire class?”
Eight months into a once far-fetched campaign, the Democratic socialist has evolved into a more polished, more professional candidate, maintaining his candor in an election where authenticity is at a premium.
“People feel like they have a voice,” said Beth Heimerl, a teacher in suburban Minneapolis who attended a recent rally in St. Paul, Minnesota. “You can see yourself in the issues he’s talking about.”
His message of political revolution still draws big crowds – more than 14,000 people flocked to a recent event in St. Paul – but his Iowa events are more intimate and personal. He asks for names before people ask their questions and he surveys the crowd to find the person with the largest college debt or health care deductible, likening himself to a “Vermont auctioneer.”
Sanders hopes to drum up a large turnout among young voters in Iowa following the roadmap of then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, whose 2008 victory here put him on a path to the White House. Even Sanders’ blue signs – “A Future to Believe In” – recall Obama’s old “Change We Can Believe In” slogan.
Sanders rips into Republican Donald Trump at most stops. But he also copies from the billionaire’s playbook by rattling off poll numbers that he says show he’d be a tougher opponent against Trump than Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Sanders is also more willing to jab in Clinton’s direction, even while professing to be running a positive campaign.
He has all the trappings of a major candidate, too: a flush campaign bank account, a campaign bus and occasional rides on a chartered jet. Outside of events, vendors hawk his image on T-shirts, buttons and hats. Inside, a series of on-theme songs – Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution,” for instance – play before he takes the stage.
Known for a serious demeanor, Sanders has started showing more of a playful side. When MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell asked him about releasing a doctor’s letter attesting to his “overall very good health,” Sanders clenched his fists and broke into a mock shadow boxing session. “Do I get involved in senior boxing – challenge, go for the light-heavyweight championship, or run for president?” he asked.
Sanders told The Associated Press that he’s “not always a grumpy old guy. I do have a sense of humor.”
Part of his appeal has been cultivated by comedian Larry David’s portrayal of Sanders on “Saturday Night Live” as a blunt, cranky politician screaming of revolution.
Actor Justin Long noted the similarities when he introduced Sanders in Des Moines this week.
“Neither Larry or Bernie are known for their flashy dress – sorry sir – or polished, slick appearance. Both men have had similar struggles with hair growth or loss. Both men speak with a similarly unfiltered tone, a cadence that suggests what they’re saying ‘NEEDS TO BE HEARD AT ALL COSTS EVEN IF IT’S JUST ABOUT A DELICIOUS PASTRAMI SANDWICH!'”
All of which helps make Sanders, 74, an unlikely draw with younger voters.
“He actually knows what’s going on with the future of this country,” said Joshua Knight, a 22-year-old senior at Iowa Wesleyan College who snapped a selfie with Sanders on Friday. “I understand about his age – but I feel like he knows what’s going on with the youth and the future right now. That’s what attracts me to him.”
The post How Bernie Sanders evolved from fringe candidate to contender appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
MEGAN THOMPSON: For hundreds of years viewing items in Harvard University’s archives required that you show up in person at one of the school’s libraries.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Harvard Archivist Megan Sniffin-Marinoff is leading a project to change that. The “Colonial North American Project” — will digitize almost half-a-million items and make them available online.
MEGAN SNIFFIN-MARINOFF: Our sense was that we had something unique here that might not have been a part of the larger story of Colonial North America before.
MEGAN THOMPSON: The project’s focus – materials from the 16- and 17-hundreds.
MEGAN SNIFFIN-MARINOFF: Much of this material, we think, has never really been used. Or used heavily. And so, the purpose of our project is really to kind of open it all up. To allow people to use it.
MEGAN THOMPSON: The collection holds everything from diaries and letters — to drawings and documents.
MEGAN SNIFFIN-MARINOFF: This is one of the earliest items that we’ve digitized thus far. It’s called College Book 1.
MEGAN THOMPSON: It’s a ledger from the 1600’s that kept track of life at Harvard. Small details, like a list of utensils in the school’s kitchen.
MEGAN SNIFFIN-MARINOFF: Barrels, frying pans, skillets….
MEGAN THOMPSON: And evidence of controversial treatment of Native Americans. This entry is from 1665.
MEGAN SNIFFIN-MARINOFF: And what we notice in 1665 is the name written in, “Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck.” The first Native American to graduate from Harvard. This was as you know, a big part of the charge of the institution, mission of the institution, initially to convert the Native Americans over to Christianity.
MEGAN THOMPSON: The collection also contains a small globe from around 1755.
MEGAN SNIFFIN-MARINOFF: You get a sense of the obviously, the world at that time. If you look, for example, at Australia, you will see it listed as New Holland.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Some items belonged to important American revolutionaries. Declaration of Independence signer John Hancock went to Harvard in the 1750’s.
MEGAN SNIFFIN-MARINOFF: The first is a letter that he wrote to his sister in 1754.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Hancock was apparently annoyed his sister hadn’t written to him.
MEGAN SNIFFIN-MARINOFF: “Dear Sister. I believe time slips away very easy with you. I wish you would spend one hour in writing to me. PS: I give you much joy, but will have even more reason to so after receiving a letter from you.”
MEGAN THOMPSON: In this 1773 letter, Hancock accepts his appointment as Harvard’s treasurer.
MEGAN SNIFFIN-MARINOFF: You start to see as a student the evolution of the John Hancock signature. And you see it in the 1750s and then. When we move over to 1773. We get the more familiar John Hancock signature.
MEGAN THOMPSON: There are the diaries of math and science professor John Winthrop – a descendant of the John Winthrop who was the first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He took detailed meteorological notes about things like wind and snowfall.
MEGAN SNIFFIN-MARINOFF: This material is fascinating. It’s some of the earliest weather information that we have in the country.
MEGAN THOMPSON: As the colonies headed toward revolution, Winthrop began to write about more serious events. In 1770 British soldiers fired on an unruly crowd of colonists, an event later known as the Boston Massacre.
MEGAN SNIFFIN-MARINOFF: “1770, 5th March, eve. A most shocking massacre in Boston. A party of seven soldiers, under the command of one Captain Preston, being pelted with snowballs, fired upon the people in King Street. Killed three on the spot. Wounded seven others, one of whom died next day, another on the 15th of March.”
MEGAN THOMPSON: Winthrop also recorded one of the Revolutionary War’s first battles, at Bunker Hill in Boston where British soldiers defeated colonial forces.
MEGAN SNIFFIN-MARINOFF: And you see on his listing for June 7 the Battle of Bunker Hill. And on the 21st of June as well, you see the selection of counselors at Concord happening. So there is this progression of the American Revolution happening that is absolutely forming the backdrop of this daily diaries.
MEGAN THOMPSON: An eyewitness to an extraordinary time. Harvard’s already completed about a third of a project, and plans to finish the rest over the next few years.
The post Vast digitizing project will put Harvard’s colonial archives online appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
More than 10,000 migrant children who entered Europe during the last two years are unaccounted for, raising concerns some may have been swept up by criminal networks, according to Europol, the European Union’s international law enforcement agency.
Europol told the British newspaper The Observer the figure was based on the number of children who had registered with authorities upon their arrival to Europe and later disappeared, with the largest number of young people said to be missing in Italy.
“It’s not unreasonable to say that we’re looking at 10,000-plus children,” said Brian Donald, Europol’s chief of staff, to Agence France-Presse. “Not all of them will be criminally exploited. Some might have been passed on to family members. We just don’t know where they are, what they’re doing or whom they are with.”
Donald also said Europol has seen evidence of criminal networks preying on migrants, often targeting minors who have entered the region without the accompaniment of adults.
“An entire infrastructure has developed over the past 18 months around exploiting the migrant flow,” Donald said.
At least 5,000 children have gone missing in Italy and 1,000 in Sweden, Donald said.
The Observer also cited a statistic by the humanitarian group Save the Children, which estimates that 26,000 children entered Europe in 2015 without an adult. Europol said the total number of children entering Europe last year was at least ten times that amount.
“Whether they are registered or not, we’re talking about 270,000 children,” Donald, of Europol, said. “Not all of those are unaccompanied, but we also have evidence that a large proportion might be.”
Save the Children in December criticized the EU for not doing enough to protect and foster children.
“Despite many European countries and people generously helping one million refugees, Europe is doing too little to protect and help vulnerable refugee children and stop families drowning on our shores,” said Kirsty McNeill, the organization’s UK director.
More than 1 million migrants made their way to Europe in 2015, many of whom were fleeing the civil war in Syria.
At least 821,000 people entered through Greece, and more than 150,000 through Italy, according to the Geneva-based International Organization on Migration.
The announcement comes on the same day that 37 migrants, including 10 children, drowned off the coast of Turkey, after a 56-foot boat traveling to Greece capsized in the Aegean Sea.
January has been the deadliest month for drownings between Turkey and Greece, Human Rights Watch told the AP.
The post Europol: Thousands of migrant children unaccounted for in Europe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
AMES, Iowa — Seeking victory in Iowa, Hillary Clinton has begun channeling the economic indignation of her rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose unapologetically liberal campaign has tightened the race ahead of Monday’s caucuses and given him a lead in the New Hampshire contest that follows.
Making her closing argument to Iowa caucus-goers, Clinton now cloaks her detailed policy plans in Sanders’ outraged rhetoric. Pharmaceutical pricing “burns” her up. Companies that take advantage of the tax loopholes get her “pretty riled up.” And she promises to “rail away” at any industry that flouts the law.
“I’m going after all of them” she declared in Davenport, her tone escalating to a shout. “When I talk about going after those companies, those businesses, those special interests, I have a much broader target list than my opponents.”
The former secretary of state’s fiery new tone underscores a strategic decision to co-opt some of the political style from the insurgent candidate who has galvanized the Democratic party and put her long-held lead in jeopardy. It comes as a new poll released Saturday night by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg News showed the two candidates locked in a neck-and-neck race.
Though Clinton remains likely to win the nomination, a loss in Iowa would complicate her path and heighten Democratic concerns about her campaign. Already some Democrats have voiced concerns about her message and campaign management, worries that will only grow if she faces dual losses in the first two primary states.
While Clinton’s effort is aimed at winning the primary, her strategists are also trying to figure out how to tap into the deep vein of national frustration that’s driving Republican Donald Trump’s rise in Republican primary polls. Should she capture the Democratic nomination, Clinton will need to find a way to mobilize Sanders supporters to fuel a White House victory.
Sanders casts the contest as a clash between establishment politics and his promise to bring forth political revolution, asking Iowa voters to send a message to the rest of the nation. He will need a large turnout among college students, independents and first-time caucus-goers to upset Clinton.
While Clinton has campaigned as the rightful heir to President Barack Obama’s two terms, Sanders has portrayed himself as the successor to Obama’s political movement, launched more than eight years ago in Iowa.
Echoing Obama, Sanders tells audiences that fundamental changes in the nation “never come from on top” but only happens with “millions of people standing up for justice.” He points to Iowa as the place where a majority-white electorate voted for a black candidate in Obama, focusing on his ideas instead of his skin color. And he frequently fires up crowds by asking attendees to shout out their student loan interest rates and debt levels.
It’s a tactic Clinton has begun deploying at her events, pausing her remarks to ask attendees to share the details of their debt.
“You will not be paying for this forever if I become president,” she promised a woman in Newton, who told the audience that her husband now owed more than he originally borrowed.
Clinton fresh outrage comes after months of casting herself as more practical – and electable – alternative to Sanders, a strategy her campaign believed would undercut the grassroots Democratic enthusiasm for his candidacy.
When she campaigned at Iowa State University in Ames two weeks ago, Clinton suggested Sanders was making big promises he could never fulfill, saying she too wished for a “magic wand” to achieve a Democratic agenda.
“That ain’t the real world we’re living in!” she said.
Back on campus Saturday for another speech focused on gun control, her remarks had a notably different tenor. “What is wrong with us? How can we continue to ignore the toll that this is taking on our children and our country?” she shouted, pushing for stricter gun control measures, a goal that has little chance of passage in a divided Congress.
Republicans are already looking to paint her anger as disingenuous posturing. In her traditional campaign speeches, Clinton often slams the planned merger between auto supplier Johnson Controls and Tyco as an abuse of the tax code. The deal, known as a corporate inversion, is expected to save the companies at least $150 million in taxes annually.
GOP strategists pointed out that Johnson Controls had donated as much as $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation, the philanthropic organization run by her husband former President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea. The auto parts maker has also partnered with the foundation on energy efficiency and education initiatives.
But Democratic supporters seem to be responding to Clinton’s new energy. In recent days, her typically staid events have been punctuated by more of the chants, cheers and shouts of “we love you” that are common at Sanders rallies.
“I love you guys too,” she told several hundred people in Dubuque on Friday. “Everything I’m talking about I really believe in.”
MUSCATINE, Iowa — Ted Cruz needs you to trust him.
Trust is the cornerstone of this fiery conservative’s campaign, which may live or die with his ability to convince voters in Iowa and across the nation that he’s the most consistent and trustworthy among the pack of White House hopefuls.
Yet as he strives for victory in Iowa’s Monday caucuses, a chorus of Republican critics led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is tearing at the fabric of Cruz’s message.
His GOP opponents cite a history of political opportunism they say is more in line with a used car salesman than the “consistent conservative” he claims to be. In debates, TV ads and on the campaign trail, fellow Republicans are highlighting inconsistencies in Cruz’s policies on immigration, foreign policy and even his dedication to Christian conservative values. They’re also reminding voters that the self-described outsider is an Ivy League-educated lawyer who served in former President George W. Bush’s administration.
“If you are going to campaign as the most principled, the most consistent conservative, then your record better support that,” said Rubio’s senior strategist Todd Harris. “As long as he holds himself out to be holier than thou on all things conservative, we’re going to continue to point out that he’s not.”
Cruz is betting his 2016 campaign he can win the trust argument.
The slogan, “TRUSTED”, is emblazoned on red, white and blue signs at every appearance and across the back of his campaign bus. And his closing message at debates, campaign rallies and speeches is almost always the same: “It is now up to the men and women of this great state to make the determination, who do they trust?” Cruz this week in Fenton, Iowa. “As voters, we’ve been lied to over and over and over again. The stakes are too high for us to be burned again.”
He added, “The men and women of Iowa want a consistent conservative.”
Trump, now locked in a close race for the lead in Iowa, has repeatedly called Cruz a liar in recent days. Chris Christie calls him a flip-flopper. Huckabee, who won Iowa’s caucus in 2008, has seized on reports that Cruz told a group of New York donors last year that he wouldn’t make fighting gay marriage a priority if elected. That’s in sharp contrast with his public promises to fight the Supreme Court’s decision.
“He’s saying one thing to a group of folks in Marshalltown (Iowa), something totally different to a group of folks in Manhattan,” said Huckabee spokesman Hogan Gidley. “Voters want someone they can trust. And it is painfully obvious at this point that Ted Cruz can’t be trusted.”
The criticism comes despite Cruz’s overwhelmingly positive ratings from conservative groups, such as the American Conservative Union, which gives him a 100 percent rating over his first two years in the Senate. In Washington, the Texas senator is often accused of being an ideological purist to a fault.
He led his party’s unsuccessful fight to strip funding from the federal health care overhaul in 2013, leading to a government shutdown. He favored a similar approach last fall in the fight to fund Planned Parenthood, but was rebuked by his party leaders still angry about his guidance two years earlier.
Now, Cruz’s own conservative purity is under intense scrutiny in the final hours before Iowa voters decide the 2016 campaign’s opening primary contest.
His competitors regularly attack Cruz’s evolutions on foreign policy, ethanol subsidies and immigration in particular. He was targeted in last week’s presidential debate by several opponents for previously supporting a pathway to legal status for immigrants in the country illegally. Cruz’s campaign suggests he wasn’t being sincere when he said in 2013 that he supported an amendment that would have granted legal status to such immigrants.
“Everybody’s for amnesty except for Ted Cruz,” said a sarcastic Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul during the debate. “But it’s a falseness, and that’s an authenticity problem.”
No one has hit Cruz harder than Rubio. The two are fighting for a role as the leading alternative to Trump as the Republican nomination contest takes off.
“People are starting to learn the truth about Ted on immigration and a bunch of other issues, and it shows a history of calculation,” Rubio said as he campaigned in Muscatine, Iowa this week. He added, “I know we’re not going to beat Hillary Clinton with a candidate who will say or do anything to gain a vote.”
Yet there is little doubt that Cruz’s conservative bona fides run deep.
He has built his campaign around the argument that he’s a “consistent conservative,” arguing that his devotion to upholding the Constitution dates back to when he memorized and recited it across Texas with a group of high school students. He also points to his record as Texas’s top lawyer, arguing nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Chris Bolvenz, a farm co-op manager from Hubbard, said he became a Cruz supporter after his 2013 filibuster trying to block funding for President Obama’s health care law – a move that led to a partial government shutdown.
“I think he’s authentic,” said the 54-year-old Bolvenz. “He’s more conservative than the other candidates.”
But it’s not hard to find Iowa voters who question Cruz’s claims.
“What frustrates me about him is that he says you’re only a purist if you’re Ted Cruz,” said Rubio supporter Benjamin Danielson, a 31-year-old hospital chaplain from Cedar Rapids. “I trust him on the major issues, but I don’t think he’s more trustworthy than anybody else.”
ALISON STEWART: Presidential candidates are rallying supporters to turn out at tomorrow’s Iowa caucuses, the first votes that count in the 2016 race.
The final Des Moines Register poll, released last night, shows the first choice of likely Republican caucus-goers is Donald Trump with 28 percent. Ted Cruz has 23 percent, Marco Rubio 15 percent, Ben Carson 10 percent, Rand Paul 5 percent, and Chris Christie 3 percent. Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Carly Fiorina are at 2 percent, along with the past two caucus winners, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.
On the Democrats’ side, Hillary Clinton is the first choice of 45 percent of likely caucus-goers, and Bernie Sanders is favored by 42 percent. Martin O’Malley is at 3 percent.
Today, the candidates made their final appeals to Iowa voters. In his first time on the ballot, businessman Donald Trump is as confident as he is brash.
DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Candidate: We have to get out there and caucus and do all of the things that we have to do, or we have all wasted our time, folks.
ALISON STEWART: Texas Senator Ted Cruz hopes Iowa’s white evangelicals help him close the gap with Trump.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Presidential Candidate: Six weeks ago, everyone was shooting at Trump. Now all the Republican candidates are shooting at me.
ALISON STEWART: Florida Senator Marco Rubio says he is more electable in November than either Trump or Cruz.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Presidential Candidate: I know that I am the candidate that can best, most quickly unify the party, unify the conservative movement, and grow it.
ALISON STEWART: Among the Democrats, Hillary Clinton positions herself as the rightful heir to President Obama, as a former member of his Cabinet.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), Presidential Candidate: I don’t think President Obama gets the credit he deserves for making sure we didn’t fall into a great depression.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ALISON STEWART: Clinton campaigned with mass shooting survivor former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords to argue her record on gun safety is stronger than Bernie Sanders’.
GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (D), Former U.S. Congresswoman: Come January, I want to say these two words: Madame President.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ALISON STEWART: The Vermont senator is counting on the youth vote to close his gap with Clinton.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Presidential Candidate: How would you like to make the pundits look dumb on election night?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ALISON STEWART: Sanders is also selling himself as the most committed to tackling income inequality.
Our own Judy Woodruff is on the campaign trail, and, once again, she joins us from Des Moines.
So, Judy, of likely Republican caucus-goers, 47 percent self-identify as evangelical or born-again Christian. In 2012 and 2008, that led Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee to victory, but those gentlemen are nowhere near front-runners in 2016.
So, what effect will religious conservatives have, possibly, on tomorrow’s results?
JUDY WOODRUFF: The last go-round, evangelicals were 57 percent of the Republican caucus turnout, which is significant.
This time, they’re showing under 50 percent. But the bottom line is, evangelicals will have a huge impact on the result. Will they be determinative terms of, is it going to be the person who has most of the evangelical vote? Probably.
But there are Republicans in the state who don’t self-identity that way. And they will play a role as well. And, by the way, Donald Trump at this point is coming in second among evangelicals. Ted Cruz is garnering most of their vote, but Donald Trump is doing — is holding his own. And he’s doing far better than Cruz among those who are not evangelicals.
ALISON STEWART: Well, speaking of Mr. Trump and Senator Cruz, they are clearly the front-runners. And they’re on one tier.
The rest of the field, there is just a group. They’re middling, let’s say. Out of that group, out of that field, who can afford not to win big tomorrow?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Nobody wants to come in with 2 percent of the vote, which is, frankly, what that poll that I — we have been discussing is showing, that several of these candidates are all running at just 2, 3 percent. It’s not good for them.
And I know the argument is made, well, you can come in fourth or fifth in Iowa and go on, but history shows, if you don’t come in somewhere in the top three, you’re going to have a tough time.
That’s one reason Marco Rubio is working so hard, not only to pull out his vote, but to begin to persuade people supporting the other so-called mainstream candidates, like Crist Christie, like Jeb Bush, like John Kasich, that those folks shouldn’t — quote — “waste their vote” and they should come on over and support Marco Rubio.
But we will see how that works out tomorrow night.
ALISON STEWART: On the Democrats’ side, Clinton and Sanders are running neck and neck. However, Hillary Clinton pulls ahead in voters 65 and older.
Given past caucuses, what does that bode for tomorrow?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, older voters traditionally do turn out more faithfully on caucus night. It’s just part of their DNA, you might say. They have been going to caucus for years. And they will likely do that on Monday night, barring something unforeseen. So, that should help Hillary Clinton.
What Bernie Sanders is counting on, though, is that first-time caucus-goers, younger caucus-goers, are going to be turning out in big, enthusiastic numbers for him. So far, Hillary Clinton’s people are pretty confident they’re going to be OK, but you can bet that they’re — that they’re watching the Sanders turnout a lot.
ALISON STEWART: Judy Woodruff, thanks, as always.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s great to talk to you.
The post How are the candidates likely to fare at the Iowa caucuses? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will ask Congress for $755 million for cancer research in his upcoming budget, the White House said Monday, bringing the total price tag for Vice President Joe Biden’s cancer “moonshot” to $1 billion.
Research into immunotherapy, combination therapy and early detection techniques will be at the center of new programs the administration hopes to create at the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration. Vaccines to prevent viruses that cause cancer are another focus, officials said, laying out for the first time how Biden will seek to fulfill his goal of doubling the rate of progress toward curing cancer.
“Our job is to clear out the bureaucratic hurdles, and let science happen,” Biden said in an email to supporters.
With less than a year left in office, Biden is working to kick start federal engagement on curing cancer, which claimed his 46-year-old son last year. Obama, in his State of the Union address, gave the effort his stamp of approval. Obama on Monday was attending the first meeting of a new federal task force — chaired by Biden — bringing various health and scientific agencies together with the Pentagon and others.
The $755 million request, which Congress must approve, will come in Obama’s final budget proposal on Feb. 9. Those funds would join another $195 million in new cancer funding Congress approved in its budget deal late last year. The White House said the Defense Department and Veterans Affairs would also boost investment in cancer research.
Biden has been urging more sharing of data, trial results and other information between institutions working on cancer. Biden hasn’t explained how he’ll measure whether he’s doubled the rate of progress on a cure; officials said they were developing those metrics.
The post Price tag for Biden cancer ‘moonshot’ at $1 billion in Obama budget appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — There is a “good potential” that more U.S. and coalition forces will be needed to fight the Islamic State group, the top commander of military operations in Iraq and Syria said Monday.
Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland told Pentagon reporters that he is working on ways to increase pressure on the Islamic State militants, and some options may require more troops on the ground to assist local Iraqi or Syrian forces. He would not detail whether those personnel would be trainers or combat troops.
“I’d like the enemy to find out about it for the first time when the area around them is going up in smoke,” said MacFarland, adding that he is reviewing what the right mix of new forces and capabilities should be and is in discussions with coalition partners and the government of Iraq.
His comments came as the coalition is working through plans for the battle to retake the key northern Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, which IS uses as a headquarters.
He added that although Iraqi leaders didn’t accept the offer of U.S. Apache helicopters during the ultimately successful fight for Ramadi, they may decide to use the aircraft in a later battle.
Speaking by teleconference from Iraq, MacFarland was asked whether the U.S. should use carpet bombing strikes against Islamic State militants, a tactic proposed by Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. He said that such indiscriminate bombing — which would kill innocent civilians as well as enemy combatants — is “inconsistent with our values” as a nation. The U.S., he said, has a guiding set of principles that govern how American forces conduct themselves on the battlefield.
“Right now we have the moral high ground and that’s where we’re going to stay,” he said, noting reports that Russia has conducted carpet bombing in Syria.
He also was asked about recent airstrikes that targeted Islamic State banks and money caches and may have killed civilians. MacFarland said there may have been three people killed in the bank strikes. But he added that they were Islamic State members and an enemy doesn’t necessarily have to have a loaded gun next to them in order to be an enemy.
He said the bank strikes were also done at times when loss of life would be minimal.
More broadly, MacFarland said the victory by Iraqi security forces in Ramadi was a turning point in the campaign, but he predicted more difficult fighting ahead.
MacFarland was asked about the visit to Syria by several top U.S. officials, but he declined to provide any details about their protection while on the ground in Kobani. President Barack Obama’s envoy to the coalition, Brett McGurk, was in Syria along with U.S. Lt. Gen. Raymond “Tony” Thomas, the head of U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, and Marcel Lettre, the defense undersecretary for intelligence.
The post More U.S., coalition forces likely needed to fight ISIS, top commander says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — The last thing Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian remembers before last May’s fatal crash in Philadelphia is pushing the throttle forward to pick up speed and then braking when he felt the train going too fast into a sharp curve, according to a transcript of his interview with federal accident investigators.
When he realized the train was about to derail, Bostian recalled holding tightly to the controls and thinking, “Well, this is it, I’m going over.”
The transcript was among more than 160 documents released Monday by the National Transportation Safety Board. The documents don’t come to any conclusions on the cause of the crash but offer a glimpse into what investigators have learned thus far.
Among the most illuminating are two transcripts of interviews Bostian had with investigators, one immediately after the May 12 crash that killed eight people and injured nearly 200 others, and the second in November.
The train’s data recorder shows it reached a speed of 106 mph, then the emergency brake was activated and the speed dropped to 102 mph as it entered a sharp curve in Frankford Junction, one of the sharpest curves in Amtrak’s northeast corridor.
By then it was too late, and the train derailed. The speed limit for the curve is 50 mph. The limit for the stretch of track prior to the curve is 70 mph, although there is a portion prior to that where it is 80 mph.
“Once I pushed the throttle forward in an attempt to bring the train up to 80 miles an hour, I don’t have any other memories until after the train was already in the curve,” Bostian said in the November interview.
Bostian suffered a head injury and had other minor injuries.
An NTSB official described Bostian as “extremely cooperative” with investigators. The official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, talked to reporters on condition of anonymity.
NTSB has wrapped up its investigative phase into the accident. Next, investigators will analyze the evidence, prepare a report on the probable cause of the derailment and make safety recommendations. A draft report is expected to be delivered to board members in a meeting not yet scheduled, but that will likely happen around the May 12 anniversary of the crash.
Bostian provided his cellphone to investigators, who say that there’s no indication he was using it while operating the train.
Other avenues of investigation have also turned up dry holes, according to previous statements by investigators. The data recorder shows the train’s top-of-the-line new Siemens engine was functioning normally. No anomalies were found in the tracks or signal boxes. There was no vehicle or object on the tracks.
The train’s assistant conductor said that before the crash he heard Bostian say on his radio that the train had been hit by something. Trains operating in the Northeast corridor are frequent targets of rock-throwing vandals. Other trains in the vicinity of Frankford Junction reported being hit by rocks that evening not long before the derailment. A small dent was found in the windshield of Amtrak 188’s locomotive.
Bostian has been suspended without pay since the crash. A letter from Amtrak in the NTSB files shows he was suspended for speeding the night of the crash.
Editor’s note: This story has corrected the first name of the engineer to Brandon, not Brian.
Associated Press reporters Joan Lowy and Michael R. Sisak wrote this report.
The post Amtrak engineer recalls opening throttle before fatal crash appeared first on PBS NewsHour.