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- 02/18/16--15:10: _When Danai Gurira c...
- 02/18/16--15:15: _Peyton Manning unde...
- 02/18/16--15:20: _How TMZ is changing...
- 02/18/16--15:25: _How one chief tried...
- 02/18/16--15:30: _Something better th...
- 02/18/16--15:35: _What does Obama’s h...
- 02/18/16--15:40: _Will dispute with P...
- 02/18/16--15:45: _News Wrap: Pentagon...
- 02/18/16--15:50: _Trump: Pope Francis...
- 02/19/16--11:22: _5 times Ai Weiwei’s...
- 02/19/16--11:33: _How do gender roles...
- 02/19/16--11:50: _Seeking an edge, th...
- 02/19/16--12:02: _At Supreme Court, v...
- 02/19/16--12:55: _Why many voters in ...
- 02/19/16--14:01: _‘To Kill A Mockingb...
- 02/19/16--14:15: _High court vacancy ...
- 02/19/16--16:00: _News Wrap: Thousand...
- 02/19/16--16:10: _Shields and Brooks ...
- 02/19/16--16:14: _How will Iran choos...
- 02/19/16--16:26: _NATO and EU step up...
- 02/18/16--15:15: Peyton Manning under new scrutiny over old sexual assault claims
- 02/18/16--15:20: How TMZ is changing the business of celebrity gossip
- 02/18/16--15:25: How one chief tried to reverse police wrongs of the civil rights era
- 02/18/16--15:30: Something better than polls for political predictions? You bet!
- 02/18/16--15:35: What does Obama’s historic visit mean for Cuba and the U.S.?
- 02/18/16--15:40: Will dispute with Pope Francis hurt Donald Trump’s campaign?
- 02/19/16--11:22: 5 times Ai Weiwei’s art has called attention to the refugee crisis
- 02/19/16--12:02: At Supreme Court, voters weigh in on replacing Scalia
- 02/19/16--14:01: ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ remains among top banned classical novels
- 02/19/16--14:15: High court vacancy creates muddle for future of reproductive rights
- 02/19/16--16:14: How will Iran choose its next Supreme Leader?
- 02/19/16--16:26: NATO and EU step up refugee rescue efforts in Aegean Sea
JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, we turn to our series Brief But Spectacular, where we talk with interesting people about their passions.
Tonight, we hear from playwright and performer Danai Gurira. Her latest play “Eclipsed” opens on Broadway next week. And you may also recognize her from her starring role in AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”
DANAI GURIRA, Actress/Playwright: I want women and girls of African descent and of color to be able to not have to keep searching for stories about themselves.
I couldn’t find any monologues and stories and plays that I really felt I could take and work with. And I find much connection in Shaw and Ibsen and Chekhov, but if you are constantly, only dealing with stories that are not of the people that you’re from, not from where you’re from, not from your heritage, that can function as a disadvantage.
I went to grad school because I wanted to learn the rules, so I would know how to break them. Breaking the rules is saying, I’m breaking in, OK? I’m breaking in your very comfortable little house over here, and I’m going to take a room.
I wrote a play called “Eclipsed.” It grapples with the experience of five different women in the war zone of Liberia in 2003, three women who have been abducted at different stages of their lives and become the forced “bush wives” — quote, unquote — sex slaves to a commanding officer.
It’s an astounding cast. Lupita Nyong’o is in it, as well as Pascale Armand, Akosua Busia, Zainab Jah, also the wonderful Saycon Sengbloh.
I grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe. And I had a pretty idyllic childhood. I felt that I was kind of this outspoken girl, I was considered. I was a girl who talked a lot and didn’t think my voice had any less value than anyone around me. Apparently, that was strange.
Moving here really did strike in me the desire to tell the African story on American soil. The stories about Africans always somehow miraculously had a Western protagonist. And I was, like, wow, do we not merit our own ability to tell our own stories?
So, I started to write plays that literally was like, if you come into this theater, you are going to sit down and you’re going to spend two hours or so with an African woman and you’re going to get to know her. You are going to see a full person, just like you see when you go watch all them other things.
I often feel like a nutty professor, like I’m going to try this experiment and see if it works. My hypothesis is, people in the West can absorb African women stories without any shaken or stirred mixer. It can come directly from the source.
I create, so that you can see women like this shine and get to do their thang!
My name is Danai Gurira. And this is my Brief But Spectacular take on creating complex stories for unheard voices.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can watch other episodes of our Brief But Spectacular series on our Facebook page. That’s Facebook.com/NewsHour.
The post When Danai Gurira couldn’t find complex stories about African women, she wrote her own appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: As the Super Bowl came to a close less than two weeks ago, quarterback Peyton Manning seemed to be heading toward a storybook ending to his long career, as his Denver Broncos won the big game.
But right around the same time, old allegations were raised anew, and with a much higher profile this time, about whether Manning may have committed a sexual assault during his college career.
Manning has long denied it, but he and his alma mater, the University of Tennessee, are under new scrutiny.
Hari Sreenivasan has more.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The allegation against Manning is that, in 1996, while a female associate trainer was examining his foot for an injury, he dropped his shorts and sat on her head and face. Manning denied this in a memoir he released, saying he was only mooning a male athlete, and the trainer simply was nearby.
But a recent column and investigation in The New York Daily News raised this again. The article also published court documents from a 2003 defamation lawsuit against Manning. And Manning is named in a new lawsuit that says the University of Tennessee has fostered a culture that enables sexual assaults by student athletes.
Christine Brennan is a sports columnist for USA Today and a commentator for ABC News who wrote about Manning’s history in 2003 and again this week. She joins me tonight from Atlanta.
So, Christine, is this now coming up again because just a couple of weeks ago, there were 100 hungry reporters covering the Super Bowl, putting Peyton Manning and everybody else under the microscope?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, USA Today: It’s a fascinating story, Hari.
And it really, I think, speaks to the power of social media. Of course, back in 2003, when I wrote about this, and USA Today did cover this story, there was no Twitter, there was no Facebook. And, literally, an ember becomes a wildfire in a matter of a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon. That’s what happened with this story.
There certainly is the component of the Cam Newton story and then the backlash about people criticizing him. Now The New York Daily News dredges up and looks at the news about Peyton Manning, and here we are again, a 20-year-old story now back in the news, a fascinating journalistic look and how things can happen in our social media world, and also, I think, a look at a powerful, very popular family, the first family of football, the Mannings, and how they have perhaps engineered news over the years, and now a story that they cannot control.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The Cam Newton story was about the allegation that he stole a laptop years and years ago, right?
But, besides the social media effect, did this first family of football try to suppress this or smear the person who made these allegations? What was the history? And why is that so important now?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Not with me. I never had any contact with the Manning family, never heard from them.
And, of course, if I had heard from anyone saying, don’t write this, I would have redoubled my efforts as a journalist to work on the story and write it. That would be the way I was trained, and that’s my sense of journalism.
But I understand, in one case, ESPN Radio host Paul Finebaum told me yesterday on the record that he received phone calls from Archie Manning, or at least one phone call, when he was a columnist in Birmingham, Alabama.
When Archie Manning, this great star from the Southeastern Conference, calls you, and you’re in Birmingham, Alabama, and says, please don’t write the story back in the ’90s, and it’s the Manning family, Paul Finebaum said he’s a little embarrassed now, but he said he didn’t write it, because he understood that that was a big thing.
I think that’s a big part of it. And I also think the fact is, you have got a lot of small towns in the Southeastern Conference, around the country. People love their college football. And I wish I could say that journalism would trump that, but that’s not always the case.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Right.
So, Peyton Manning has not responded to this most recent wave of accusations or this resurfacing of these accusations. Is there a consequence to this, because you turn on a TV these days, and he’s selling just about everything?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Well, and in one case, UltraViolet, a women’s rights group, has called on at least two of the sponsors to say drop him and cut ties — business ties.
I don’t know. It’s hard to — I think it’s important as journalists, Hari, to say what we know and say what we don’t know. I do not know what the future holds for Peyton Manning. I certainly know this is not the way he wanted to exit the NFL, if, in fact, he’s retiring.
This is the last thing he wanted…
HARI SREENIVASAN: Sure.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN: … because his legacy today, his reputation today is more tarnished than it has ever been.
But, for the future, I think there is certainly a chance he can rehabilitate himself. But if he’s going to retire, he’s going to have to meet the press, and he’s going to have to answer some of these questions.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s talk a bit about the Title IX investigation that was happening at the University of Tennessee. I mentioned it briefly. But that’s a bigger case than just Peyton Manning.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Oh, it is, yes.
Last summer, there were 124 schools that were under investigation from the Education Department on issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Were they doing enough to find these things out and to deal with them, 124 universities?
So, the University of Tennessee is not alone. And people might remember that I think the most famous one has been the Florida State story with Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophy winner a couple of years ago.
So, this is a problem throughout our country, the fact that our universities do not seem to have a grasp on how to look at sexual assault, deal with it, adjudicate it. And that’s what — the Tennessee story, and that’s where they have cited Peyton Manning in this case.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Christine Brennan from USA Today joining us from Atlanta today, thank you.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Thank you, Hari.
The post Peyton Manning under new scrutiny over old sexual assault claims appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now a look at how the popular media and gossip site TMZ works, and how it’s changing that business.
The site is often the leading destination of celebrity news and even notable national scandal. TMZ obtained the video of football running back Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancee unconscious in a casino elevator.
Before that, it released recordings of racist remarks made by Donald Sterling, who was, at the time, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.
“The New Yorker” magazine published an investigation of TMZ.
And Jeffrey Brown spoke with the writer, Nicholas Schmidle, earlier this week.
JEFFREY BROWN: Nicholas Schmidle, welcome to you.
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE, The New Yorker: Thanks.
JEFFREY BROWN: First, how do you describe what TMZ is and does?
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: Sure.
So, TMZ is a celebrity news site. It is kind of — it’s in the same vein as The National Enquirer. But what they are doing is much more sort of documentary-based celebrity news reporting, and in a way…
JEFFREY BROWN: Documentary, meaning what?
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: Meaning posting Videos, posting pictures, posting court documents, doing stories about celebrity news and celebrity gossip that are sort of unimpeachable.
In the past, a celebrity news report might have come out, and a celebrity might have been able to say, no, that’s not true and dismissed it and had publicists sort of stand in the way.
TMZ goes to you with the video and says, this is what we’re running in a few hours. Do you have a comment?
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, what you’re also showing, I mean, on one hand, as you say, nothing new in this kind of gossip and celebrity journalism, but they have changed the game, upped the game, a lot of it, as you have shown, through some old-fashioned reporting.
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: Right.
So, there is. There is a shoe-leather reporting aspect to it. They have more — they have dedicated more resources to court reporting. They have three full-time court reporters at the Los Angeles courthouse. The Los Angeles Times has one.
They are working — I mean, their reporters work very, very hard. The difference is, is that there is not a lot of enterprise reporting going on. They’re not identifying a story they want to going after and pursuing it. Most of what they’re getting is coming in through tips. It’s very clear at the top of the TMZ Web site how to get stories in. There is a tip line. There’s an e-mail and…
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes, and hundreds come in any given day.
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: Exactly.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, of course, the other big difference is that they pay, right?
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: They do.
JEFFREY BROWN: Sometimes large amounts, sometimes smaller amounts, but that’s always a possibility for their stories.
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: Absolutely.
There is a lot of money changing hands. Over the — $40, $50 over the course of the day as photographers are paying sources in the airport, or paying sources at hotels, restaurants, and then bigger payments for the more — you know, for the more desired videos.
JEFFREY BROWN: Harvey Levin, the founder of TMZ, didn’t talk to you, right, for your…
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: Correct.
JEFFREY BROWN: But when he has talked about this, he sounds unapologetic about the…
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: Fully. He says — the video is the video, is what he says. And if we paid money for the video, so be it.
Paying for information is a condemned practice in journalism, because the notion is that you are influencing the source — you’re influencing why sources are giving you certain information if they know they’re being paid for it.
So he’s saying that we don’t actually pay for information. We pay for product. We pay for — you know, we’re licensing product, and that’s what we’re paying for.
JEFFREY BROWN: You know, if they were just doing celebrity journalism, I don’t think you would write about them. I don’t think we would be talking about them.
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: Absolutely.
JEFFREY BROWN: We’re talking about them because they have done some consequential stories, right, that have had some impact, whether it’s Ray Rice, in the case of the NFL story about a bank getting a bailout that has — that then spent a lot of money on a party.
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: Right.
JEFFREY BROWN: Somehow, they have crossed over into having some kind of impact.
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: Right. Donald Sterling, the former Los Angeles Clippers owner, who…
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: And that was — this — the idea for the story was conceived in the aftermath of the second Ray Rice video that TMZ posted in which it showed him knocking out his then fiancee.
TMZ was punching — no pun intended, but sort of punching above its weight and publishing some — posting some very consequential stories, and…
JEFFREY BROWN: So that the NFL in that case had to pay attention.
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: And doing it and finding video in ways that other media organizations weren’t.
And so — and that, I think, was the reason that we took this project on. What is TMZ? How do they do what they do? And, you know, I was just fascinated trying to sort of figure out how the operation works.
JEFFREY BROWN: And how much do you think this has changed the way that celebrity journalism works?
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: I think that it’s changed the way that celebrities respond to the journalism that’s being done about them.
I mean, I think that — I think that there is a sense of — the sense of immunity that you, if you are a celebrity, you can sort of ensconce yourself in publicists and managers and be able to kind of navigate your way around, and lawyers, and navigate your way through crises.
JEFFREY BROWN: And that’s one thing Harvey Levin was acting against, right?
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: Absolutely.
JEFFREY BROWN: The kind of bubble of control, he didn’t like that.
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: Absolutely.
And so it’s impossible to do that. If TMZ has court documents or if they have video footage or audio recordings of you speaking to your mistress and making sort of racist comments about spectators at your basketball games, it’s just — you can’t avoid it. You can’t sidestep it.
JEFFREY BROWN: And the larger question is how much, if at all, has it impacted more traditional journalism? In other words, how much has their success and the tactics that they use had a larger influence?
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: Yes. No, that’s a great question.
I think that — look, people go to TMZ because they want to see. They don’t want to hear about three sources in a hotel who say, we saw Ray Rice step into the elevator. We don’t know what happened next, but we saw him drag his wife out. They don’t want to read that.
They want to watch the video. And so I think that — you know, you’re right. It’s a good point that what readers want to see is the sort of — they want to see documents. They want to see sort of the raw footage. And I think that there probably is a drift towards that.
JEFFREY BROWN: Let me ask you, finally, did you come away wary or mortified or impressed? What was your own feeling, having looked into it?
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: Yes.
I mean, I came away thinking a note of admiration for the way that they have wired Los Angeles. Now, if there was no money changing hands and they had people at Delta and at these limo companies and all these various places giving information, and their beat…
JEFFREY BROWN: Because they do, right? Yes. Yes.
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: And TMZ’s — if TMZ’s beat was to cover celebrity news, and they had all this information coming in, I would — there is no way that you couldn’t not tip your hat.
The fact that there is money changing hands does sort of bring about a cloud of controversy about how they’re doing it. But you have to hand it to them. They — what they do, they do very well.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the article is “The Digital Dirt.”
Nicholas Schmidle, thanks so much.
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE: Thanks for having me on.
The post How TMZ is changing the business of celebrity gossip appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Growing up, retired Montgomery County police chief Kevin Murphy wondered why no one in his home state of Alabama formally acknowledged the injustices and violence committed against Rep. John Lewis by police during his time as a student activist. During the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, he did just that. Murphy publicly apologized to Lewis, and personally handed him his badge.
Witnessing the negative interactions of police with minority communities as a youth has guided Murphy’s approach to law enforcement. After becoming chief, one of the first things he did was implement a program for his officers to learn racial bias in policing, using lessons on important parts of Montgomery’s civil rights history. The class has since be added to regular police training, including a tour of the Rosa Parks Museum and scenarios that mimic real-life scenarios of improper policing. His goal was to caution new officers on how to use the power of their uniforms ethically. He has a message for law enforcement agencies across the country on how to be more effective at serving their communities.
“Law enforcement needs to start hold themselves accountable,” he said. “There’s no such thing as street justice. You have to abide by the law when you’re wearing a uniform and set the example. When you don’t do that you’ve lost all credibility with the public you serve.”
Special correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault traveled to Montgomery to report.
Read the full transcript below:
JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, another in our Race Matters series.
Special correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault traveled to Montgomery, Alabama, to speak with former police Chief Kevin Murphy about the solutions he found in trying to create a more responsive and cooperative police force.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: During the 50th anniversary of police violence against peaceful civil rights marchers in Selma, Alabama, that ended in Montgomery, police Chief Kevin Murphy did something surprising. He apologized to Congressman John Lewis, a frequent victim of that earlier violence, and handed him his badge.
We caught up with Murphy, where he now works as Montgomery County deputy sheriff, and where some of his solutions are still in place.
Kevin Murphy, thank you for joining us.
KEVIN MURPHY, Chief Deputy, Montgomery County, Alabama: Thank you for having me.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: What moved you to hand John Lewis your badge that day?
KEVIN MURPHY: Well, as a young officer, I had seen Congressman Lewis and the congressional delegation Faith and Politics come to Montgomery over a several-year period. They would follow the civil rights trail and they would come and spend time in Montgomery.
And as a young member of the department, I would see him and wonder, why hasn’t anyone ever acknowledged the injustices that occurred here and thought, if I ever become police chief, I’m going to change that. And then the day did arrive when they were to come to Montgomery for their annual tour.
And I didn’t tell anybody. I didn’t want it to be a political act. I wanted it to be sincere and heartfelt, and the respect that I have for Congressman Lewis is immeasurable.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Well, he’s told me he has the same for you.
In your early days as a police officer, you asked questions. What kind of questions did you ask, and what kind of responses did you get?
KEVIN MURPHY: I found that a lot of the officers who had really lived through that era, particularly the white officers, were very reluctant and uncomfortable with talking about it.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: So, when you became chief, what steps did you take to change what you saw as the wrongs?
KEVIN MURPHY: One of the first things that I implemented as the new police chief was enacting a class, creating a class.
We went way back in history to the Dred Scott decision all the way through to the Emmett Till case, because I wanted the officers to experience what really happened.
You know, what my observation was is, you have a 21-year-old officer who had never lived through or seen the civil rights era for what it was, the dark reality of it. And so this young officer would stop an African-American citizen and get somewhat of a pushback, because maybe this 60- or 75-year-old African-American citizen’s last encounter with a Montgomery police officer was very negative.
After they attended the class, I saw a lot of promise, in that, the next time they encountered that citizen, they felt like: I understand now.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And you put this class — you got this class put into the police academy’s training.
KEVIN MURPHY: I did.
And we actually had all members of the department, not just the sworn officers, but the civilians, attended as well, and had tremendous feedback. The first part of the course is classroom, then a tour of the Rosa Parks Museum.
But my favorite part of the class was the conclusion, where there was a values segment. And the values segment was giving scenarios to the members of the class. It was strongly agree, somewhat agree, strongly disagree, somewhat disagree.
But I was proud of the answers and the outcomes of those scenarios, because they were learning from the class that, you know, you have to be very careful in the way that you apply this power. And, you know, we’re seeing it in the country now.
And I think that we were teaching that in this class, how to de-escalate a situation where a citizen was upset because they thought that they were going to be mistreated when they saw the patch of the Montgomery Police Department, and it was the officer’s responsibility to ensure that citizen that that wasn’t going to occur.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: What do you think in that experience is replicable or has any kind of application today?
KEVIN MURPHY: I think law enforcement needs to get to work.
And I think that one of the biggest challenges that we face in this new century is our response to what I would call a critical event, where you have a citizen who’s become violent, a citizen who’s under the influence of drugs or perhaps they are suffering from some type of mental health issue.
And what I have seen with a lot of these encounters that end very badly, with the death of an unarmed citizen, is a fear on the part of the officer. And we all experience it in this uniform. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but you have to be able to manage that fear. And I believe, sometimes, when fear steps in, poor decisions are made. And I think that the use of deadly force falls into that category.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: So, what do you do about it?
KEVIN MURPHY: We need to be able to teach the officers, the deputies coming into this profession how to manage your fear. No one ever did that to us, my generation.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: What do you think is the most important thing to do now to ensure that everybody, the police are respected, as well as those who deserve to be protected by the police and even those who commit crimes?
KEVIN MURPHY: Law enforcement needs to start holding themselves accountable.
And you’re starting to see it in some parts of the country, where officers are being held accountable, and there are consequences for bad behavior.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: A lot of the people who have been victims of improper police behavior were innocent, but what do you do when you have got criminals? I mean, not everybody is innocent.
KEVIN MURPHY: It’s not a police officer’s job to punish. We’re there to enforce the law and to take people into custody.
But I think you have seen in some instances, and certainly back in the latter — early and the latter parts of the last century, that, you know, law enforcement felt like it was their role to punish. And, you know, it’s our responsibility to apprehend and bring these people before the courts.
You know, there is no such thing as street justice. You have to abide by the law when you’re wearing the uniform and set the example. When you don’t do that, you have lost all credibility with the public that you serve.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Well, Kevin Murphy, thank you.
KEVIN MURPHY: Thank you.
The post How one chief tried to reverse police wrongs of the civil rights era appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
BY RORY O’CONNOR
America’s quadrennial campaign horse race to elect a leader is now at full gallop. Just like at the track, one question looms largest: Who’s going to win?
Many of us rely on polls and pundits when it comes to presidential prognostication. But your best bet for accurate and reliable political predictions, it turns out, is actually the marketplace.
Political prediction markets like Predictit incorporate all available information — including polling data and political analysis. “The markets have really been ahead of the polling and ahead of the pundits,” says David Rothschild, who studies them for Microsoft Research. Rothschild told PBS NewsHour economics correspondent Paul Solman that evidence clearly shows that markets where you can bet on — or “invest in” — political outcomes are “more accurate than any collection of pundits or statistical polling averages — and extremely well calibrated.”
Is it gambling? Is it investing? Call it what you will, but Rothschild says putting your money where your mouth is has a beneficial impact on democracy. “People start paying attention in a way that they never did before,” he explains, “so they make an effort to learn about politics, to understand politics, to engage in politics.”
Predictit chief John Phillips says his marketplace — no matter how limited — provides a prod to democratic involvement. “Even though it’s only a $1 winner-take-all contract with an $850 limit,” says Phillips, “It still starts to cause you to think about things.”
Read the full transcript below:
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, a different take on predicting the outcomes of presidential races.
Our economics correspondent, Paul Solman, looks at how a kind of betting market has fared in recent years when it comes to forecasting winners. It’s part of his weekly series, Making Sense, every Thursday on the NewsHour.
PAUL SOLMAN: And they’re off. The candidates are out of the gate, around the first turn and at full gallop in America’s quadrennial race to elect a president.
But, as at the track, one question overshadows all others: Who’s going to win?
DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: Sixty percent.
PAUL SOLMAN: Like every other candidate, if somewhat more loudly, Donald Trump keeps pointing to the polls.
DONALD TRUMP: Here’s an important one, best chance of winning in November. Trump, number one, 47 percent.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PAUL SOLMAN: But when it comes to presidential prognostication, what source is your best bet? A poll? A pundit? A real-time trending Google search? Turns out it’s none of the above.
DAVID ROTHSCHILD, Economist, Microsoft Research: I think that the markets have really been ahead of the polling and ahead of the pundits.
PAUL SOLMAN: Because, says David Rothschild, who studies them, political prediction markets incorporate all available information.
DAVID ROTHSCHILD: This is where markets have a huge advantage over the smartest people just dealing with polling or historical data. We looked at the 2012 elections. We looked at all the primaries. We looked at all the senatorial, gubernatorial, presidential elections.
And you see something that is more accurate than any collection of pundits or statistical polling averages, and extremely well-calibrated.
NATALIE JACKSON, Senior Polling Editor, The Huffington Post: Polls show what people are thinking now, whereas the prediction markets are what people think will happen in the future.
PAUL SOLMAN: Moreover, says Natalie Jackson, senior polling editor for The Huffington Post, technology has made polling more dicey.
NATALIE JACKSON: We’re seeing a huge drop-off in landline telephones, which was pollsters’ bread and butter for a long time.
PAUL SOLMAN: John Phillips heads a nonpartisan political technology company called Aristotle. His firm built and operates PredictIt, one of just two places Americans can legally bet on or, Phillips would prefer I say, invest in political predictions, though no more than $850.
Still, as at the race track or stock market, you’re putting your money where your mouth is.
JOHN PHILLIPS, CEO, Aristotle: And that’s the beauty of putting just a little bit of money on it. It all of a sudden becomes a matter of pride, but it also becomes a matter of focus. You want to see how your investment’s doing.
PAUL SOLMAN: Phillips gave me a tutorial on how PredictIt works. I’m a guy who loves to play long shots. My father worked at the racetrack for many years when I was a kid. So, I would go with John Kasich at 2 cents. All he has to do is go up to 4 cents, and I have doubled my money, right?
JOHN PHILLIPS: Well, yes, if he goes up to 4 cents or…
PAUL SOLMAN: So, what the heck? I bought 25 shares.
JOHN PHILLIPS: Here you got — here’s your 50 cents up here. You are now the proud owner.
PAUL SOLMAN: Of John Kasich at 2 cents to win the Nevada primary, that is.
In addition to the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and the chance to make money, PredictIt provides a passel of information about the race.
JOHN PHILLIPS: Now, there are 84 comments on this particular market right now.
PAUL SOLMAN: Oh, look, Clinton 36 cents.
This was the Democratic primary market in Colorado.
So, the market has suddenly collapsed. So I think I will go with that. And now, if I want to buy Bernie Sanders in another market, to level the playing field, and so Oklahoma, Sanders is down to 22 cents in Oklahoma, so I’m going to buy Sanders. Offer matched. Close. I’m in.
So, I’m rooting for Bernie Sanders in Oklahoma, Hillary Clinton in Colorado, and John Kasich in Nevada.
Other larger online political markets, like Ireland’s Paddy Power and Britain’s Betfair, echo the odds on PredictIt and take as much as you want to bet. But they’re illegal for U.S. citizens to play. PredictIt got government approval by limiting the amount to $850 per market and casting itself as both an investment marketplace and academic research tool, since it began as a project at New Zealand’s Victoria University.
JOHN PHILLIPS: We provide the technology. Once the data is collected, it’s anonymized, and then there are research agreements with almost two dozen U.S. universities and Oxford University.
PAUL SOLMAN: But you’re still betting real money.
You keep saying investing, but it is betting, isn’t it?
JOHN PHILLIPS: I see it as a stock market. A funny thing happens when people try to figure out what is going to happen tomorrow or a week down the road. And if I can put a little bit of money in the outcome that I’m expecting, I think that’s a stock market.
PAUL SOLMAN: Can we compromise on agreeing that it’s gambling?
JOHN PHILLIPS: I think you can call it anything you want.
PAUL SOLMAN: But whatever you call it, says researcher Rothschild:
DAVID ROTHSCHILD: The people who are playing the market are taking the pulse of the general population, and they have done so accurately for long enough that we can trust that they’re understanding how things are impacting very quickly.
PAUL SOLMAN: But PredictIt chief John Phillips says his market provides something more: a prod to democratic involvement.
JOHN PHILLIPS: These traders not only pay more attention to politics, but they also are more likely to vote. Even though it’s only a $1 winner take-all-contract with an $850 limit, it still starts to cause you to think about things differently, and that’s the magic here. It may be that it is an engagement tool for the 20-year-olds.
PAUL SOLMAN: Researcher Rothschild agrees.
DAVID ROTHSCHILD: People will start paying attention in a way that they never did before, and so they will make an effort to learn about politics, to understand politics, to engage in politics, in a way that is very, very beneficial to our society.
PAUL SOLMAN: My session with PredictIt’s John Phillips was almost over, but I couldn’t resist checking in on my 2-cents-a-share Kasich investment.
Oh, my goodness. Look at that.
It had actually gone down.
Down to 1 cent. This is just 50 cents, so its impact on my financial future is minimal. But I can feel myself rooting for Kasich to go up. It’s just preposterous, but, I mean, I can feel it. I can feel it.
So, what happened? Well, as of today on PredictIt, John Kasich has bottomed out in Nevada, where Donald Trump is now heavily favored. In the Democratic primary in Colorado, Sanders is the heavy favorite, and I just sold Hillary Clinton at a loss.
But I have done more than OK in Oklahoma. Clinton is still favored, but I sold surging Sanders at nearly double what I paid for him. Bottom line, a $1.33 profit, or a better than 13 percent return on investment in less than a week.
For the “PBS NewsHour” and the power of markets, this is economics correspondent Paul Solman, wishing the rest of you the best of luck.
The post Something better than polls for political predictions? You bet! appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: On March 21, President Obama will make Cuba the first stop on a trip to Latin America. It will be an historic moment that comes 14 months after Cuba and the United States announced renewed diplomatic ties.
Our chief foreign affairs correspondent, Margaret Warner, begins our coverage.
MARGARET WARNER: It will be the first visit to Cuba by a sitting American president since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. President Obama announced the plans on his official Twitter feed today.
And Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes outlined the goals.
BEN RHODES, Deputy National Security Adviser: We see it as a means of pushing forward this normalization process, trying to achieve a greater opening between the United States and Cuba commercially, but also supporting and advancing the values that we care about.
MARGARET WARNER: The visit, including talks with Cuban leader Raul Castro, follows more than a year of work to thaw relations. Embassies reopened in both countries, and the two nations this week agreed to start daily commercial flights.
But these moves toward normalization haven’t produced results as quickly as hoped. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, meeting Cuba’s trade minister in Washington this week, complained that, despite Washington easing restrictions on U.S. companies wanting to do business there, Havana hasn’t done the same.
Rhodes echoed that today.
BEN RHODES: What we would like to see is that they are taking the types of steps that allow those regulatory changes to take hold, that allow U.S. businesses to start to be able to operate in Cuba in ways that benefit the Cuban people.
MARGARET WARNER: Cuba argues the U.S. is to blame for lack of progress, as a top Cuban official underscored today.
JOSEFINA VIDAL, Cuban Foreign Ministry (through interpreter): Of course, to achieve fully reestablishment of those bilateral relations, outstanding issues would have to be resolved, including the lift of the embargo and the return to Cuba of the territory occupied by a Naval base in Guantanamo.
MARGARET WARNER: Congress is refusing to lift the trade embargo and the White House said today the U.S. position on retaining Guantanamo has not changed.
Human rights also remains a point of contention. Rhodes said today that Mr. Obama will meet with civil society activists during his visit. But leading Republicans urged him not to go at all.
Presidential candidate Marco Rubio, son of Cuban immigrants, spoke in a CNN town hall last night.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Republican Presidential Candidate: There’s no elections in Cuba. There’s no choice in Cuba. And so my whole problem, I want the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba to change, but it has to be reciprocal. And so, today, a year and two months after the opening of Cuba, the Cuba government remains as repressive as ever.
MARGARET WARNER: Even so, the White House said lawmakers from both parties will accompany the president.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Margaret Warner.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We explore the historical significance now with William LeoGrande. He’s a specialist in Latin America at American University. He’s written a number of books on U.S.-Cuban relations.
And welcome back to the “NewsHour,” Bill LeoGrande. Good to see you.
WILLIAM LEOGRANDE, American University: Thank you. Good to be with you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How big a deal is this visit by the president next month?
WILLIAM LEOGRANDE: Well, I think it’s historic.
And I think, as we look back on it, we will see that it’s as significant as Richard Nixon’s 1972 trip to China, which was really the symbolic break in the old policy and a policy — a new policy of engagement with China.
In the same way, this trip by President Obama is symbolic of the fundamental shift that he made in U.S.-Cuba policy back in December 2014.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, what real changes do you see? We know, as Margaret just reported, that the embargo, the trade embargo still exists. There is, what, any sign Congress is ready to look at that again?
WILLIAM LEOGRANDE: Well, not this year, because we’re in the middle of an election year, but next year, I think there is a real opportunity to revisit it.
There are a lot of Republicans who are pro-business and whose constituents would like to be able to gain access to the Cuban market. And I think that — and there are a lot of Democrats, of course, who have been in favor of a new policy toward Cuba for a long time. And I think there is the makings of a coalition once we get past the election.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, in the meantime, what do we look for as changes in the U.S.-Cuba relationship? We know the president’s tried to do a few things. Are they making any difference?
WILLIAM LEOGRANDE: Well, I think they are.
We have already seen agreements on a whole range of issues of mutual interest, civil aviation, the restoration of postal service, environmental protection. I think we will see more agreements in the next 11 months on other issues of mutual agreement, particularly in the law enforcement area.
And we’re also seeing a lot of new commercial interests and a lot of businesses going down there, trying to see if Cuba offers a real opportunity for business.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, as I understand it, it’s still a narrow slice here and a narrow slice there.
WILLIAM LEOGRANDE: The embargo is still really important.
And until the embargo is gone, we’re going to be playing at the margins, if you will. But, nevertheless, the regulatory changes the president has made in the last year have really opened up a number of business opportunities.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, we just heard Senator Marco Rubio say, we’re talking about an oppressive government.
How much change, if any, has there been in Cuba’s human rights record?
WILLIAM LEOGRANDE: There’s been very little change on the human rights front. And the Cuban government is no more tolerant of dissidents today than it was a year ago.
But the problem with that criticism, it seems to me, is that, for 54 years, we pursued a policy of hostility and coercion to try to force Cuba to behave better and become more democratic, and it didn’t work. So, it seems to me that the president deserves at least more than a year to try to see if his policy will make a difference.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You started out comparing this to Nixon’s visit to China. What do you see? I mean, what do you think the U.S.-Cuba relationship could like five, 10 years from now?
WILLIAM LEOGRANDE: Oh, I — Cuba and the United States are really natural partners. If we go back historically, Cuba and the United States had a very close, integrated cultural relationship, an economic relationship.
The problem from the Cuban side was that the United States dominated the island politically. But if we can engage at the political level with mutual respect, respecting Cuba’s independence, there are all kinds of opportunities for cultural exchange and economic development.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And this is despite the fact that the Cuban leadership is still very critical of the United States in many ways.
WILLIAM LEOGRANDE: They are very critical of the United States, but they tend now to be more critical of specific U.S. policies, like the embargo and our presence in Guantanamo, as opposed to the across-the-board denunciation of the United States that we used to hear a few years ago.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Professor William LeoGrande of American University, we thank you.
WILLIAM LEOGRANDE: My pleasure.
The post What does Obama’s historic visit mean for Cuba and the U.S.? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now back to that rare exchange we saw play out today between the pope and presidential candidate Donald Trump.
John Allen covers the Vatican and the Catholic Church for The Boston Globe and its Web site, Crux. And Susan Page is the Washington bureau chief for USA Today.
And welcome to you both.
Susan, to you first, what did you make of the pope’s remarks? And is there any precedent for a pope injecting himself this way into a presidential race?
SUSAN PAGE, USA Today: I have covered 10 campaigns. I have never seen anything like this, the pope talking very specifically about a particularly candidate, criticizing him, saying he’s behaving in a way that’s not Christian.
I have never seen anything like it, and the candidate immediately shooting back with very harsh language, saying the pope’s language was disgraceful. I think this is truly uncharted waters here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: John Allen, you have covered the Vatican for many years. Are you aware of any precedent? Has there been a situation like this where the pope has spoken to directly about an American election?
JOHN ALLEN, The Boston Globe: Well, Judy, I have covered the Vatican for about 20 years, covered three popes.
I am keenly aware that this is an institution that has an awful lot of history under its belt, so I am very reluctant to use the word unprecedented. As the late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago once artfully put it, in the Catholic Church, everything has happened at least once.
But I’m not sure this has ever happened before. I have certainly covered tensions between sitting presidents and popes. There were titanic battles between the Clinton administration and the Vatican over reproductive freedom in the 1990s.
Pope John Paul II, now St. John Paul, was very critical of President Bush’s invasion of Iraq. We saw tensions between Pope Benedict and the Obama administration over the contraception mandates imposed by the White House as part of health care reform.
But for a pope to go after not a president, but a presidential candidate, by name, in quite so incendiary a fashion, no, I don’t think we have seen this before.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, John Allen, staying with you, how did you read it, though? Because it’s not just Donald Trump. There are a number of Republicans who have said there should be a wall, a big wall along the border with Mexico. How did you read the pope just addressing Trump?
JOHN ALLEN: Well, look, Judy, if you read the full transcript of the pope’s remarks, it is very clear that the pope does not in any level of detail actually know who Donald Trump is.
He said — the question was put to him by one of our colleagues, Phil Pullella from the Reuters news agency, about Trump. And the pope’s response basically was, well, listen, assuming Trump has said what you say he said, and he said that all has to be verified, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt, but, assuming that, it is not a Christian attitude.
So, I think, basically, the pope’s point was that someone who wants to build walls, rather than bridges, who wants to try to separate themselves from people in need, rather than opening their hearts to them and trying to be of assistance to them, that that is not a Christian attitude in keeping with the Christian Gospel.
What makes this particularly saucy is that he said that in the context of Donald Trump and thereby, perhaps not deliberately, but thereby injecting himself into the 2016 campaign in the United States.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Susan, what is the effect likely to be on Donald Trump? Could it hurt him? Could it help him?
SUSAN PAGE: I think we have all learned not to predict that things are catastrophic for Donald Trump…
JUDY WOODRUFF: For sure.
SUSAN PAGE: … because he’s said one outrageous thing after another, and it’s not really hurt him.
I actually think this could help in the short-term.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Really?
SUSAN PAGE: For one, he’s doing totally what he always does. Right? You hit him, he hits you back, even if you’re the pope.
He’s also talking about an issue that launched his presidential campaign, which is immigration, building a wall, stopping the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere. So, in that way, it’s helpful.
I think it could be harmful to him in a general election against Hillary Clinton or a Democrat who is making big inroads among Hispanic voters, help her with Catholics. Catholics are one of the most crucial swing votes that we have in a general election. But when you talk about the Republican nomination, I’m not sure this hurts him.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And as — and I was just discussing with John Allen, the pope is really taking on the entire Republican Party, in a way, because their position is, we need to shore up the border and stop Mexican and other Central American, South American immigrants from coming into the U.S.
SUSAN PAGE: And that’s one reason that his Republican rivals will not be able to go against Trump on this issue, and in fact chose not to today, because when Jeb Bush, for instance, who is himself Catholic, or John Kasich or Marco Rubio were asked about this today, they all reiterated the importance of a secure border and none of them really went after Trump on this issue.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, John Allen, the pope made more news today — it was not just on Donald Trump — when he said it may be acceptable for women who are dealing with the potential Zika virus, the mosquito bite that could lead to the Zika virus, for them to use artificial contraception.
How significant that he said that? This is not church doctrine, we know.
JOHN ALLEN: Well, Judy, I think it’s actually potentially far more consequential than his comments on Donald Trump, because let’s face it, Pope Francis himself is not in a position to directly control the outcome of the 2016 election in the United States, but he can control what the Catholic Church does and doesn’t approve.
Now, in this case, what the pope was taking was a fairly traditional position, actually. He actually cited a precedent from the early 1960s, when then Pope Paul VI allowed Catholic nuns in what was then the Belgian Congo to take contraception because they were in a situation with widespread sexual violence, and they were trying to protect themselves from pregnancy as the result of rape.
And, basically, the Vatican’s position was, OK, this is not an issue of using birth control to try to prevent the transmission of new life. It is trying to prevent an unjust harm.
By a similar logic, the Vatican has for years taken the position that in the context of Africa, in the context of HIV/AIDS, where you have a married couple where one couple — is HIV-positive and the other is not, and they wish to use contraception to try to prevent the other partner from being infected, the Vatican has consistently described that as an open question to which there is no definitive church dogma.
And that is essentially what Francis said again today in the context of the Zika virus. Now, we should be careful in saying, Judy, he didn’t directly say, I therefore approve the use of contraception to try to prevent infection with Zika, but he clearly left the door open to that, which is going to encourage pastors and moral theologians and church officials to continue to debate.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just quickly, John Allen, is that likely to be controversial inside the church?
JOHN ALLEN: Judy, pretty much everything is likely to be controversial inside the church.
JOHN ALLEN: So, yes, I think there will be a healthy debate. Some will say this is exactly the wrong time to be weakening our position on birth control. Others will say that this is a kind of commonsense adaptation that they welcome.
I think there is going to be a robust conversation about it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: John Allen, Susan Page, another extraordinary day in American politics and in covering religion around the world. Thank you both.
SUSAN PAGE: Thank you.
JOHN ALLEN: You’re welcome.
The post Will dispute with Pope Francis hurt Donald Trump’s campaign? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Pentagon said today it has asked Russia to steer clear of bombing near U.S. special forces in Northern Syria. It said the Russian military was given broad areas to avoid, but not the exact locations of American troops. And a spokesman said the Russians have honored the request so far.
Turkey is blaming Kurdish militants at home and in Syria for a suicide bombing in Ankara. Yesterday’s blast killed 28 people and wounded dozens more. The Turks answered today with air raids in Northern Iraq on the outlawed Kurdish rebel group PKK, and they insisted again the group is linked to Syrian Kurds backed by the U.S.
PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkey (through interpreter): We have not been able to convince the international community, and in particular our friends, of the strong ties between Kurdish militias in Northern Syria and the PKK. In the face of this bombing, they will probably be conducive to a better understanding.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, the leader of a Kurdish umbrella organization said it’s possible that rogue militants carried out the bombing.
In Uganda, delays and protests plagued presidential and parliamentary elections today. And, at one point, the main opposition candidate was briefly arrested. Some voters waited more than five hours because ballots had not been delivered. That sent protesters into the streets claiming the delays were deliberate to help keep the country’s president in office. Yoweri Museveni has been in power for 30 years and is seeking reelection.
Leaders of the European Union have opened a crucial summit in Brussels that could determine whether Britain stays or goes as a member. Prime minister David Cameron arrived today, calling for a deal that safeguards British sovereignty, and helps him win a summer referendum on keeping London in the E.U.
DAVID CAMERON, Prime Minister, United Kingdom: We have got some important work to do today and tomorrow. And it’s going to be hard. I will be battling for Britain. If we can get a good deal, I will take that deal. But I will not take a deal that doesn’t meet what we need. I think it’s much more important to get this right than to do anything in a rush.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Britain already opts out of the unified euro currency and it wants the freedom to curb various benefits for immigrants from elsewhere in Europe.
Back in this country, a Los Angeles area hospital confirms that it paid $17,000 in ransom to hackers who seized control of its computer network. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center says it happened earlier this month. It regained access to its network by paying the ransom in Bitcoins, an online currency. The FBI said there have been numerous similar attacks.
And Wall Street’s rally ran out of gas today, after advancing since Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 40 points to close at 16413. The Nasdaq fell 46 points, and the S&P 500 shed nine.
Still to come on the “NewsHour”: Pope Francis’ surprising remarks on contraceptives and on Donald Trump; the first presidential visit to Cuba in nearly 90 years; who’s taking bets on the presidential election; and much more.
The post News Wrap: Pentagon asks Russia to avoid bombing near U.S. forces in Syria appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff. Gwen Ifill is away.
On the “NewsHour” tonight: pontifical politics. Pope Francis sparks a firestorm, calling Donald Trump’s immigration ideas not Christian, as the Republican front-runner fires back.
Also ahead, President Obama announces an historic trip to Cuba next month, the first for a sitting president in almost 90 years.
Then: why you should look to the political betting markets for presidential predictions.
NATALIE JACKSON, The Huffington Post: Polls show what people are thinking now, whereas the prediction markets are what people think will happen in the future.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”
JUDY WOODRUFF: It may be unprecedented, and it lit up the presidential campaign today. A sitting pope crossed verbal swords with a candidate for president of the United States, just ahead of a crucial primary.
Our political director, Lisa Desjardins, has our report.
LISA DESJARDINS: No, this is not your typical presidential critic, definitely not your typical criticism.
POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter): A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the Gospel.
LISA DESJARDINS: On his flight home from Mexico, Pope Francis directly addressed Donald Trump. The Republican front-runner has advocated building a wall along the length of the U.S.-Mexican border. And last week, he said the pope’s trip to that border was a political ploy encouraged by Mexico.
POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter): And am I a pawn? Well, maybe. I will leave that to your judgment.
LISA DESJARDINS: The pope pointedly told reporters he is not recommending how anyone votes.
In South Carolina, the candidate wasted no time in issuing his retort.
DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith, especially when they feed all sorts of false information into him.
LISA DESJARDINS: Trump quickly transformed the debate over Christian values into a fight over security.
DONALD TRUMP: If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which, as everyone knows, is ISIS’ ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president, because…
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
DONALD TRUMP: It’s true. It’s true, because this would not have happened. ISIS would have been eradicated, unlike what is happening now with our all-talk, no-action politicians.
LISA DESJARDINS: While the would-be president took on the pontiff, Marco Rubio happily joined forces with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley one day after her endorsement.
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), South Carolina: We need to show that South Carolina makes presidents and that our next president will be Marco Rubio.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
LISA DESJARDINS: Two days before South Carolina’s primary, most non-Trump Republicans are playing it safe and sticking to stump lines. But in Greenville last night, Rubio confronted the volatile issue of racism by police and the criminal justice system.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Republican Presidential Candidate: But whether you agree with them or not, if a significant percentage of the American family believes that they are being treated differently than everyone else, we have a problem. And we have to address it as a society and as a country, because I do not believe we can fulfill our potential as a nation unless we address that.
LISA DESJARDINS: As for the Democrats:
HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I’m going to do everything I can so you don’t have to be scared.
LISA DESJARDINS: In a new ad, Hillary Clinton sought to reach Latino voters in Nevada by stressing her opposition to most deportations.
Bernie Sanders also was appealing to Latinos, with this ad highlighting a key endorsement before the state’s Democratic caucuses on Saturday. The two, who are currently neck and neck in the first-in-the-West contest, will take voter questions at a town hall event tonight in Las Vegas.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The pope also made headlines today on the Zika virus, suggesting that women threatened with it could use artificial contraception. Roman Catholic doctrine teaches birth control is wrong, but Francis said, under the circumstances, it might be necessary.
POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter): Avoiding a pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, it is clear. I would also exhort the doctors that they do everything they can to find vaccines and things against these mosquitoes that bring sickness.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We will take a closer look at all the pope’s statements today after the news summary.
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Ai Weiwei, a Chinese dissident artist and activist known for his critical view of the Chinese government, has a new cause.
As a political activist, Ai has often used his art to comment on the Chinese government and human rights issues. After government-constructed schools collapsed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, killing more than 5,000 students, Ai pushed the government to take accountability for the deaths with an installation listing the names of children that were killed. He also served as the artistic consultant Swiss architects, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron while they designed the Beijing Stadium for the 2008 Olympics.
Ai was arrested in 2011 by the Chinese government and held for 81 days without any official charges filed against him. The government also retained his passport for four years until returning it last July. He moved to Berlin, which has recently become a haven for some of the more than 4.7 million people who have fled war in Syria.
Here are five times Ai has used his work to comment on the refugee situation.
1. Wrapped a German concert hall in thousands of refugees’ life vests
Ai wrapped the columns of Berlin’s Konzerthaus with 14,000 salvaged refugee life vests on Feb. 13. The temporary installment was created for the Cinema for Peace Gala, where Ai served as honorary president this year. At the gala event, Ai asked the room of high-profile celebrities like Charlize Theron to don thermal blankets and take selfies, according to The Guardian.
2. Covered his previous sculptures in golden thermal blankets
Earlier this month in Prague, Weiwei wrapped golden thermal blankets around the his Zodiac animal heads sculptures on display in front of the National Gallery’s Trade and Fair Palace. The Zodiac heads, which represent the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac, are part of a multi-year touring exhibition that launched in New York City in May 2011.
For the exhibition, Ai explored the design of fake and copied Zodiac heads, whose design dates back to the 18th century. The exhibition arrived in Prague in February and will be there through August. Ai described his display as a “gesture in defending the dignity of refugees.” The exhibition will run through Aug. 31.
3. Closed an exhibition in protest of Danish law
In protest of the new law that enables authorities to seize assets of asylum seekers as they enter Denmark, Ai closed down his exhibition, “Ruptures,” at the Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen in January.
“I cannot co-exist, I cannot stand in front of these people, and see these policies,” he told the Guardian. “It is a personal act, very simple; an artist trying not just to watch events but to act, and I made this decision spontaneously.”
Jen Faurschou, who owns the Faurschou Foundation, supported Ai’s decision. The exhibition in Copenhagen was expected to close in mid-April.
“This is not so much about which country does more or less for refugees, it is the symbolic importance of the new law,” Faurschou told the Guardian. “This [kind of thing] is spreading over Europe, and we in Denmark are taking the lead in this by making this law.
4. Organized a “walk of compassion” in London
Ai organized a march in London that took place on Sept. 17, 2015, with Anish Kapoor, a British-Indian sculptor. The two walked eight miles hand-in-hand from the Royal Academy of Arts to the Orbit, an event they called a “walk of compassion,” with more than 100 followers.
“This problem has such a long history, a human history. We are all refugees somehow, somewhere and at some moment,” he told The Guardian. “We are trying to do positive action: by opening a certain spirit, a certain poetic space, we can at least hope to change how we think about the problem.”
5. Recreated a photo of a drowned Syrian toddler
Ai collaborated with photographer Rohit Chawla from India Today to recreate the now-famous image of Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian toddler who drowned off the coast of Turkey. Nilüfer Demir’s photo of Kurdi quickly swept across the Internet, drawing new attention to the refugee crisis. Ai also established a studio on the Greek island of Lesbos, a key point of entry into Europe for thousands of refugees.
The post 5 times Ai Weiwei’s art has called attention to the refugee crisis appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Editor’s Note: For 29 years now, Paul Solman’s reports on the NewsHour aim to make sense of economic news and research for a general audience. Since 2007, our Making Sen$e page has vowed to do the same, turning to leading academics and thinkers in the fields of business and economics to help explain what’s interesting and relevant about their work. That includes reports and interviews with economists affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Each month, the NBER Digest summarizes several recent NBER working papers. These papers have not been peer-reviewed, but are circulated by their authors for comment and discussion. With the NBER’s blessing, Making Sen$e is pleased to feature these summaries regularly on our page.
The following summary was written by the NBER and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Making Sen$e.
Immigrants are an increasing presence in the United States. The foreign-born population grew from 4.8 percent of the total population in 1970 to 12.9 percent in 2012, and the share of U.S. children who were immigrants themselves or who had at least one immigrant parent increased from 13 percent of the total population in 1990 to 23 percent in 2008.
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Along with the rise in the immigrant population came a shift in the predominant origins of immigrants. The principal source of immigrants has shifted from countries in Europe with cultures that are broadly similar to that of the United States to regions with very different cultures and traditions. How much does an immigrant’s source country affect their adjustment to American life? What role does assimilation play in that adjustment? Do differences between immigrants and the native-born population carry over to the second generation in labor supply, education and fertility, or do second generation women fully assimilate to native patterns?
In “Immigrants and Gender Roles: Assimilation vs. Culture,” Francine D. Blau reports on a research program with Lawrence M. Kahn that examines the roles of assimilation and source-country culture as influences on immigrant women’s behavior. The research focuses in particular on labor supply, because immigrants are increasingly coming from countries that have a more gender-based division of labor than is currently the case in the United States. Typically, the source countries have lower female labor force participation rates and higher fertility rates than the United States. There has been a growing gap between the labor supply of native-born women and immigrant women in the U.S. since 1980.
The researchers find considerable evidence that source country gender roles influence immigrants’ behavior. This influence appears to extend to second-generation women. At the same time, they also find evidence of assimilation. Immigrant women narrow the labor supply gap with native-born women as they spend more time in the United States. There is also considerable convergence of immigrants to native levels of schooling, fertility and labor supply across generations. For second-generation women, fertility and labor supply in their mother’s source country have a larger association with their behavior than the corresponding practices in their father’s source country.
Blau points out that in the future, immigrants’ source countries may become more similar to the United States, thus reducing the effect of source-country gender roles on the behavior of first- and second-generation immigrant women. This has already begun to happen with respect to fertility. The fertility of immigrant women relative to native-born women has been falling rapidly in the most recent immigrant cohorts.
— Les Picker, National Bureau of Economic Research
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Editor’s note: PBS NewsHour is a partner with STAT, a new national publication reporting from the frontiers of health and medicine.
SAN FRANCISCO — Tomás Gutiérrez isn’t a brain scientist. But each morning, he mixes up a new chemical cocktail that he hopes will sharpen his focus and boost his intellect.
He adds a dash of butter for flavor, stirs it into a cup of coffee, and downs it.
A 31-year-old entrepreneur, Gutiérrez has thrown himself into the emerging movement of body hacking — or, more precisely, brain hacking. He’s a connoisseur of “nootropics,” a broad category that includes pharmaceutical drugs, dietary supplements, and do-it-yourself concoctions, all of them meant to turn the brain up a notch.
They haven’t been clinically proven to work, and there’s emerging evidence that some could be dangerous. But nootropics, also called smart drugs, have become popular among young type A personalities on Wall Street, in the Ivy League, and here in the frenzied startup culture of Silicon Valley.
Enthusiasts aren’t seeking an altered state of consciousness; they want to become a better version of themselves, even just for a few hours at a time. Like Olympic athletes pushing their bodies, they hope to tune their brains for peak performance. And they want to do it without the jittery side effects and stomach churn they’d get from downing endless energy drinks or popping prescription stimulants like Adderall or modafinil.
Gutiérrez, slender and dark-eyed, swears by a daily “stack” mixed into his morning coffee.
He throws in some MCT oil, a form of fatty acid that occurs naturally in such foods as coconut oil. He adds BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, which are popular among weightlifters. Then there’s L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea.
‘Breaking Bad’ on the kitchen counter
On the kitchen counter of the two-bedroom house he shares with his girlfriend, Gutierrez keeps 100-gram containers of compounds he buys online, along with two scales, one to measure in grams and the other in milligrams.
Sometimes, his girlfriend prods him to clean up his experiment site. She thinks it looks too much like a chemistry set. And Gutiérrez admits his kitchen resembles a scene from “Breaking Bad.” “It definitely looks questionable,” he said. “There are liquids and powders and scales.”
Like all dietary supplements, nootropics are only very loosely regulated; the manufacturers don’t have to prove safety or efficacy before putting them on store shelves. By law, the Food and Drug Administration can step in to recall a product only if it’s mislabeled or causing illness or injury.
“You’re on your own to figure out the safety of some of this stuff,” he says. “People might say the negatives are few, but we still don’t know what we don’t know.”
A competitive squash player, Gutiérrez says his daily stack gives him a feeling of concentration and productivity known among his fellow brain-hackers as “The Flow.”
“It’s a level of focus otherwise unheard of, one you can maintain for long periods of time,” said Gutiérrez, a partner in a startup that creates and markets teams of tech talent. (He also runs an online coffee sales business.) “You can crank out code or do some other technical task for hours on end.”
A host of companies now sell over-the-counter nootropics, and they’re starting to get big-name backing. Nootrobox, a startup based here in San Francsico, has financial backing from Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer and the legendary venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which is known for its early bets on Twitter, Airbnb, Instagram, and other blockbusters.
But Gutiérrez belongs to an active community of amateur scientists who like to experiment with their own mixes — and aren’t afraid to use their own brains as lab rats. They trade precise combinations of plant extracts and synthesized drugs as though they were swapping cookie recipes.
To give some idea of the popularity: The nootropics page on Reddit, which serves as an online forum for the do-it-yourself-crowd, has more than 65,000 readers.
Troubling hints of risks to the brain
Do the chemical cocktails work?
“Who the heck knows?” said Kim Urban, a Philadelphia neurophysiologist who has studied the effects of nootropics. “So few studies have been done, and those that have were not the most controlled trials.”
Urban said there are hints of short-term gain but also signs that overuse could cause damage, such as muscle spasms and brain fog.
A study she coauthored, which was published in 2014, found that stimulants such as Ritalin — often favored by brain-hackers — could eventually reduce the plasticity of the brain’s neural pathways and potentially cause long-term harm. She found particular risk for children and adolescents, but wrote that even healthy adults run a risk.
“You’re dealing with unregulated substances that have no oversight,” Urban said. “Myself, I wouldn’t take them. I’d be leery of them the same way I’d avoid taking weight-loss supplements. We just don’t know enough.”
The other day, Gutiérrez was among a dozen brain-hackers — mostly lawyers, students, and tech engineers — who attended a breakfast at a coffee house near San Francisco’s financial district.
Woo passed around a jar containing Go Cubes, bite-sized chews containing caffeine and L-theanine. It’s the latest Nootrobox cognitive enhancer. Gutiérrez took one and began to chew. “It’s good,” he said. “Tastes like coffee.”
Woo believes companies like his may be on the verge of providing not only a brain boost but a key to prolonged life. “We are all trained as children that we are going to die,” he said, “but technology is reaching a point where death can be treated like any illness or sickness, and aging will be considered a disease.”
(For all his confidence, the Nootrobox website does include a warning that the company cannot “ensure that unforeseen side effects will not occur even at the proper dosages” and is not liable for any such fallout.)
Nootrobox has begun trials to test the long-term effects of its products, which sell for about $40 for a month’s supply. But Woo knows many brain-hackers are too impatient to wait for the future. “A lot of people have this intellectual curiosity, trying the more edgy stuff to boost their brains — it’s all about getting comfortable with the risks,” he said.
Rave reviews, and dire warnings, online
Many are experimenting with drugs such as piracetam and noopepts, which are sold under brand names such as OptiMind and NeuroFuse. Online forums are filled with comments from people who credit the chemicals with helping them achieve new clarity of mind and finish tasks at a record pace — and also with warnings from users who said the drugs made them feel foggy and leaden, or caused alarming side effects.
Jens, a 22-year-old advertising student at the breakfast, said his daily doses of piracetam and a nutrient called choline, added to his coffee, often induce a Zen-like state.
“I can get so deep into something that I forget about the world around me,” said the Swedish native, who asked that his last name not be used because he didn’t want his family to know he was experimenting with the substances. “You become one with whatever you’re doing … I can think deeper and faster. It’s not happier, it’s just more focused.”
Joe Cohen is another proponent of pushing the brain’s envelope. He’s a New York City-area nutritional consultant and bio-hacker who started the website selfhacked.com to chronicle his adventures with nootropics and other substances.
While he advises caution to readers, Cohen admits having a few of his own fast-lane practices.
“I do megadose experiments,” he said. “It’s a curiosity thing with me. If you really want to know the effect something has on your body, you often can’t tell by taking a normal dosage.”
And so he sometimes compounds the recommended dosage. “The brain is resilient,” Cohen said. “It will go back to normal if you don’t go too hardcore.”
Registered dietician Kamalini Mukerjee, who’s based in Las Vegas, counters that it’s dangerous to play scientist with your own brain, even with supplements labeled as natural. “People die from peanut allergies. Just because it’s natural, that doesn’t mean that it’s safe,” she said.
Questioning the rat race
Gutiérrez swears by the mental boost he gets from his stacks.
Still, he sometimes questions his own reasons for needing such a drug regimen, wondering whether work pressures have forced him to become his generation’s version of a hamster scurrying on an exercise wheel.
“I don’t think human beings are designed for the hyperproduction that is a product of this modern age,” he said. “With so many of those hours-long stretches of hyperbrain activity, I’ve burned myself out so many times.”
Gutiérrez has tried other ways to increase his mental acuity and his sense of well-being. He’ll sometimes fast for up to 40 hours straight. He sticks to a mostly Paleo diet consisting of meat, fish, and vegetables. He has also tried meditating, getting more sleep, and even taking more time off from work.
He’s learned, he said, “that there’s more to be found in the enjoyment of life than chasing productivity.”
But he still pours his stack into his coffee each morning, hungry for brain overdrive.
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Republican leaders have spent the last week arguing that Justice Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court seat should be filled after the American people elect a new president.
Today, voters had a chance to weigh in publicly as the court opened its doors for mourners to pay their respects to Scalia, who died of natural causes Saturday at 79. The response was mixed.
Greg Myers, a salesman from York, Pa., praised Senate Republicans for insisting that they would not hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee.
“I’m certain somebody of [Scalia’s] values won’t be appointed” by Obama, said Meyers, 47, who drove with his son for two hours to wait on line in the cold for a chance to see Scalia’s casket. The next Supreme Court pick “has the potential to swing the court” to the left, Meyers added.
An Obama appointee would give the court’s liberal justices a five-to-four majority, and end Justice Anthony Kennedy’s reign as the influential swing vote.
Though Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail have argued that an election-year appointment would be unprecedented, six justices since 1900 have been confirmed to the court during a presidential race.
Laura Bean, a retired federal government employee, also argued for a wait-and-see approach.
“I think at this point we’re too close to the next election,” said Bean, 53, who lives in Arlington, Va. “At this point, it’s better to wait until things settle. It’s too emotional right now.”
Bean recalled meeting Scalia when he visited her law school in the late 1990s. She said she also attended several services with Scalia at the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More in Arlington. Scalia liked to sit in the back to avoid drawing too much attention to himself, Bean said.
“He was just very nice, very gentle. There were no airs about him,” Bean said. “I wanted to honor him [today] because he’s been an excellent member of the Supreme Court.”
Other mourners said they admired Scalia, but urged the Senate to hold hearings this year on his successor, once Obama nominates a replacement.
“The president should nominate someone, and the Senate has the right to reject his nomination,” said Teddy McCullough, 22. “I’m not sure if it’s the best idea politically for Republicans to just not take up the nomination.”
McCullough, who lives in Washington, D.C. and works for a non-profit, said he didn’t agree with all of Scalia’s decisions, but admired the justice’s independence. McCullough pointed to Texas v. Johnson, a 1989 decision that struck down a ban on flag burning.
Scalia joined the majority opinion, angering conservative critics who had hoped for a different outcome. Since then, however, the case has been frequently cited as an example of Scalia’s fair mindedness on the bench.
Kadesh Dubose, 22, a self-described liberal, said he disagreed with most of Scalia’s opinions, but still felt drawn to the court to witness a moment in history.
Dubose said he is hoping that Obama can appoint a third Supreme Court justice before leaving office early next year.
“I think the Senate should give whoever Obama nominates a fair shot,” Dubose said. “To say that you’re not even going to consider anybody? That’s not how our democracy works.”
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BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont should not count on Reiza Tsinman’s vote. Or Misha Lazarev’s, for that matter.
Tsinman and Lazarev are Jewish immigrants from former Soviet bloc countries, and neighbors on the floor of the Brooklyn apartment building where Sanders, a self-described “democratic socialist,” grew up. Neither is a Sanders fan.
“I lived under socialism, so I know what that is,” said Tsinman, 81, who moved to the United States from the former Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic. Sanders is “talking about free healthcare and free education,” Tsinman said. “Where is all that money coming from?”
Lazarev, a native of Bobruysk, Belarus, said that he plans to vote for Donald Trump if the Republican front-runner makes it to the general election.
“I like Trump. He’s a builder, [and] Trump says what people want to hear,” Lazarev, 75, said in an interview in his apartment. Sanders, Lazarev said, “can’t win.”
As Sanders battles former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, his focus on income inequality and campaign finance reform has attracted a devoted following among liberal primary voters across the country.
But here on Sanders’ childhood turf in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, voters seem skeptical and dismissive of the senator, despite sharing a similar cultural background and upbringing.
Sanders, who is Jewish, and his brother Larry, were raised by their mother and Polish-born father in a small apartment on the second floor of 1525 E. 26th St. When Sanders was born in 1941, the brick, six-story building was filled mostly with first and second-generation immigrant Jewish families from Eastern Europe, census records show.
Now, 74 years later, the building, with its faded marble floors and beige stucco walls, is still home to a mix of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, along with a growing number of Hispanic families.
An ad posted by a local handyman inside the front entrance reminds tenants to call for help on the Sabbath, when observant Jews are prohibited from doing work.
The market-rate rent for Lazarev’s one-bedroom apartment, which he shares with his wife, was roughly $1,300 per month, he said. Their unit, which is heavily subsidized through a federal Section 8 housing voucher, is likely similar in size to the apartment the Sanders family occupied across the hall.
At first glance, the building’s tenants would seem to be natural allies for Sanders.
But while several residents in the neighborhood who were interviewed for this story shared Sanders’ experience growing up in a lower-middle class family in post-World War II Brooklyn, they remain unmoved by his campaign.
Sanders has said his childhood was relatively happy, despite the fact that money was tight. He was a solid student and excelled at sports, starring in track and long-distance running at James Madison High School. (The school’s list of famous alumni includes Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Judge Judy.)
Upon graduating in 1959, Sanders enrolled at Brooklyn College and later transferred to the University of Chicago after his mother died at 46. He eventually moved to Vermont, where he started a political career that has been marked by a sharp focus on socioeconomic disparities.
But now that Sanders is running for president, his base of support in Brooklyn — which has more than 10 percent of the state’s registered Democratic voters — is concentrated outside of Midwood, in wealthier, more liberal and less religious communities that have undergone rapid gentrification in recent years.
Brooklyn’s modern-day political geography is an awkward fit for Sanders, 74, who often touts his humble outer borough roots on the campaign trail.
In reality, Sanders is more popular with young, mostly white, non-native New Yorkers who live in Brooklyn’s toniest enclaves than he is in neighborhoods like Midwood.
“There’s always a time and place for everything,” Paul Feder, 60, who grew up in Midwood, said of Sanders. But now, in 2016, Feder said, “We need to move to the right [as a country].”
Feder runs a computer store in the neighborhood. He said that he’s a registered Democrat, but votes for Republican presidential candidates. If Sanders won the Democratic nomination, Feder said in an interview outside of the neighborhood public library, he would vote for Trump or Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.
Liberal voters in some parts of Brooklyn might admire Sanders, but in his neighborhood, people “look at it differently,” Feder said.
Not everyone is adamantly opposed. Michael Gonzalez, a 23-year-old bike messenger, is undecided, but considering voting for Sanders.
Sanders, he says, “believes in causes” and understands the issues, and he likes that.
Meanwhile, at a bagel shop on Kings Highway in Midwood, Jody Weiss, 62, took a break from her toasted everything bagel with cream cheese to explain why she isn’t supporting Sanders.
“I like the fact that he’s a Brooklyn boy,” said Weiss. “But the thing that scares me with Sanders is I heard he’s got a crazy plan to raise taxes.”
Weiss, who said that she was retired, voted for President Obama in 2012. She said she wants to vote for Trump this year if he becomes the Republican Party’s standard-bearer. “He’s got the balls to say what he wants to say.”
Weiss and other Jewish voters living in Midwood were also wary about the issue of Sanders’ religion.
Sanders hasn’t focused on his Jewish faith on the campaign trail. But earlier this month, when he won the New Hampshire Democratic primary, Sanders became the first Jewish presidential candidate to win a primary, touching off a debate about Judaism and politics that will only grow as the election moves forward.
“So far I haven’t seen any [anti-Semitism] towards Sanders, but it’ll come up eventually,” said Feder, who is Jewish. “In general, people don’t like Jewish politicians. If something goes wrong, they blame the Jews.”
Weiss admitted that it would be important for her to see a Jewish president in her lifetime, even if it was someone like Sanders who she doesn’t fully support. “It’s about time,” Weiss said.
Back in Sanders’ old building, Tsinman insisted that he couldn’t take her vote for granted on the basis of their shared religion.
“I know he’s Jewish. But he’s a socialist,” Tsinman said. “Religion doesn’t matter. It comes down to what someone is proposing.”
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“To Kill A Mockingbird,” considered one of the best novels of the 20th century, is also one of the most controversial. According to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, the Harper Lee novel is one of the most challenged and banned classical books. Many of these objections come from parents, school administrators or advocacy groups who contend that its racially and sexually-charged themes are inappropriate for young readers.
Chris Sergel, vice president of Dramatic Publishing, once acknowledged they receive many requests for specific words to be changed or removed, but they’re always denied them.
“Being uncomfortable with history is not means to change it,” he said. “People need to figure out how to confront issues.”
Most of the school and library challenges have been unsuccessful, but some managed to have the novel removed, even if only temporarily. Still, “To Kill A Mockingbird” remains banned in many classrooms and public libraries around the country and the world today.
Here is a look at some notable challenges of “To Kill A Mockingbird” over the decades since its release:
Challenged and temporarily banned in Eden Valley, Minn., for vulgar language.
Challenged in Vernon-Verona Sherrill School District (N.Y.) for content, called “filthy” and “trashy.”
Challenged in Warren, Ind., by black parents who felt it represented “institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature.”
Challenged in the Waukegan School District (Ill.) for use of racial slurs.
Challenged in Kansas City and Park Hill, Mo., middles schools for profanity and racial slurs.
Challenged by local NAACP & black parents of Casa Grande Elementary School District (Ariz.) for sexual and racial content.
Challenged in Santa Cruz, Calif., schools for racial content.
Banned in Southwood High School in Caddo Parish, La., for profanity and racial content.
Challenged in Moss Point (Miss.) School District for racial slurs.
Banned in Lindale, Texas, for content that “conflicted with the values of the community.”
Challenged by a Glynn County School Board (Ga.) member because of profanity.
Challenged at Muskogee High School (Okla.) for use of racial slurs.
Challenged at Normal Community High School (Ill.) for racial slurs and content.
Challenged at Stanford Middle School in Durham, N.C., for use of racial slurs.
Challenged at Brentwood Middle School (Tenn.) for profanity, racial slurs and sexual content.
Challenged by residents of Cherry Hill, N.J., for racial slurs and content. Challenged rejected by board of education.
Banned in St. Edmund Campion Secondary School in Brampton, Ont., for use of racial slurs.
A student at Colleyville Heritage High School in Texas was given an alternate book assignment when parents challenged the novel’s use for racial and political content.
Plaquemines Parish School Board in Belle Chasse, La., lifts a 12-year ban on the novel.
Source: American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom
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The sudden death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has complicated the fate of many major cases before the Supreme Court this term. But few issues face as much turmoil going forward as women’s reproductive rights.
In March the court is scheduled to hear two separate cases; one on abortion and one on contraceptive insurance coverage. And the absence of Scalia means predictions of what may be the state of the law come the end of the court’s term this June are being turned, if not on their heads, at least sideways.
The abortion case, which originated in Texas, is considered the more significant of the two. Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt asks whether the state’s law imposing a series of restrictions on abortion clinics amounts to an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to have the procedure. With only part of the law in effect, about half of the state’s 40 abortion clinics have closed. If the rest of the law is allowed to take full effect, abortion providers estimate that only around 10 would remain open.
The contraceptive case, Zubik v. Burwell, is actually seven separate cases that have been bundled together. All the plaintiffs are religious-affiliated institutions that claim the Obama administration’s “accommodation” to allow them not to offer contraceptive coverage as part of their health plans still interferes with their religious freedom.
The administration’s rules specify that religious hospitals or schools do not have to “contract, arrange, pay, or refer a person for contraceptive coverage.” But it does require those entities to tell the federal government who its insurer is, so the government may make arrangements for the coverage to be provided. That, argue the plaintiffs, makes them “complicit in sin” through the act of providing coverage.
Prior to Scalia’s death, it was considered likely that the court would uphold the Texas law, thus giving the nod not just to Texas, but to a broad array of state laws to scale back abortion access by, among other things, requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and requiring abortion clinics to meet the same health and safety standards as “ambulatory surgical centers” that do much more complicated procedures.
Predictions were not as clear in the contraceptive case. In all the cases before the high court, lower courts found that the administration’s requirements did not violate the religious rights of the entities in question. But in other cases appeals court judges have found for the religious entities.
Now, however, it’s considered possible, if not likely, that both cases could end in a 4-4 tie. And that would be a mess, say those on both sides.
“There’s no doubt it would be a muddle,” said Kyle Duncan, an attorney in private practice who has represented states seeking to impose abortion restrictions and religious organizations objecting to the contraceptive coverage rules.
The result of a tie vote at the Supreme Court is that the lower court ruling stands but that lower court ruling does not create a national precedent. That precedent would apply only in the geographic “circuit” where the case was brought.
But while that would allow the Texas law to take effect, it is unclear what it would mean for the rest of the Fifth Circuit, which includes Mississippi and Louisiana. That’s because a different panel from the same appeals court struck down a Mississippi law on hospital admitting privileges in 2014.
The two laws are not identical, but “you have some tension there” between some members of the same appeals court, said Duncan, “that the Fifth Circuit might have to reconcile,” by rehearing one of the cases with all of the appeals court judges participating, rather than a three-judge panel.
In the contraceptive case, the federal rules are identical. But a tie could mean those rules would apply differently depending on how each circuit’s appeals court ruled.
That’s not ideal, says David Cohen, a professor at Drexel University’s law school. “The Supreme Court normally tries to resolve circuit splits because they don’t want federal laws interpreted differently in different parts of the country,” he said.
In both the contraceptive and abortion cases, if the Supreme Court deadlocks, they could hold the case over until the next term and re-hear it then. There’s even precedent for that on reproductive health: Roe v. Wade itself was heard twice; once in December 1971 (when there were two vacancies on the court), then again in October 1972.
But it is far from clear whether there will even be a replacement for Scalia when the court’s next term begins this October. “The idea of getting a ninth justice anytime soon seems unlikely,” said Duncan.
On that he and Cohen agree. “I fear we’re not going to have a justice for 15 or 16 months. If we’re lucky,” he said.
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff.
On the “NewsHour” tonight: a scramble for Republicans and a close race for Democrats. Candidates have one last day to campaign until voting tomorrow in South Carolina and Nevada, making a perfect Friday preview for Mark Shields and David Brooks. They are here to analyze the week’s news.
Then: a report from the Greek island of Lesbos, where winter weather has done little to stem the flow of refugees.
MAN: A normal day. The boat have a problem with the engine. It cannot move. The people inside, we have too many children, two sick guys, in this case, we have to put on board and take them ashore to have a medical test.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we remember Harper Lee, author of the classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.” She died today at age 89.
All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”
JUDY WOODRUFF: Thousands of people, among them President and Mrs. Obama, paid final respects today to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He died last Saturday at the age of 79, and lay in repose today at the building where he had worked since 1986.
Hari Sreenivasan has our report.
HARI SREENIVASAN: It was a day of solemn scenes at the land’s highest court, starting with the flag-covered casket being carried past men and women who clerked for Scalia during his 30 years as a justice.
The procession moved into the Great Hall, passing the eight remaining justices, and the casket was placed on a funeral bier first used after President Lincoln’s assassination. Then, a private ceremony, with the justice’s widow and children looking on, as his son, Reverend Paul Scalia, read the Lord’s Prayer.
REV. PAUL SCALIA, Justice Antonin Scalia’s Son: Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as is it is in heaven.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Throughout the day, former clerks stood vigil, occasionally wiping away tears, as the court opened for public viewing. Visitors ranged from tourists, to members of Congress, to federal appeals Judges Sri Srinivasan and Patricia Millett, who are being mentioned as possible replacements for Scalia.
Outside, for much of the day, the line stretched around the block.
ANTHONY LECOUN: Someone who knew the law, had the right opinions about the law, and just had the wit to actually convey those opinions in a way that, like, stuck with you and, like, made an impression.
JEFF CULLER: I couldn’t be further from the polar opposite of Justice Scalia and a lot of his philosophies. You know, I’m probably as far to the left as he is to the right, but, you know, that isn’t really important. When someone dies, it’s just kind of time to put politics aside.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Another mourner, Benjamin Williams, offered a bagpipe tribute, as he said he’s done for senators and congressmen before.
This afternoon, President Obama and the first lady paid their respects. The Obamas will not attend tomorrow’s funeral, but Vice President Biden and his wife will be there at Washington’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news, an offshoot Kurdish militant group claimed responsibility today for a suicide bombing that rocked Turkey’s capital this week. The blast in Ankara killed 28 people. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons said it was revenge for Turkish military assaults on Kurdish rebels.
Prospects for peace in Syria have dimmed even further. The U.N.’s Syria envoy today called off peace talks planned for next week. Staffan de Mistura said he cannot realistically arrange negotiations right now. Fighting has intensified in the last week, with a new offensive by Syria’s military and its allies, backed up by Russian bombing.
U.S. warplanes attacked an Islamic State training camp in Libya overnight and may have killed a top Tunisian militant. U.S. officials say that Noureddine Chouchane was linked to last year’s attack on a museum in Tunis that killed 22 people. A Pentagon spokesman said he was spotted at a site near the town of Sabratha, close to the border with Tunisia.
PETER COOK, Pentagon Spokesman: This group, and this particular individual, who had — was named as a suspect previously in an attack in Tunisia, posed, again, a threat to Libya specifically, to interests in the region, and posed a national security threat to the United States.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Video of the aftermath showed the destruction, and the victims. Local officials said more than 40 people were killed, but the Pentagon could not confirm the number.
Israeli forces shot dead three more Palestinians today in an ongoing wave of violence. The Israeli military said one man rammed a car into Israeli troops in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Another fired on soldiers near Bethlehem. And a third stabbed and wounded two officers in Jerusalem. The near-daily attacks started last September.
European leaders say they have reached an agreement tonight that could keep Britain in the European Union. It came after a two-day summit in Brussels went into overtime. Prime Minister David Cameron said the deal gives Britain special status. The summit outcome could help Cameron win a summer referendum on remaining part of the E.U.
Vietnam and the Philippines are the latest to protest China’s placement of surface-to-air missiles in the South China Sea. The batteries are deployed on Woody Island in the Paracels. It is controlled by China, but also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. The Chinese said today that they are acting in response to American actions.
HONG LEI, Spokesman, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (through interpreter): The U.S. has been continuously increasing its military presence in the South China Sea by sending out military aircraft and ships. The U.S. has repeatedly pressed on its alliance and partners to conduct joint military exercises. These actions have escalated the tensions, meaning more militarization in this region.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. has criticized China’s missile move, and said that it will continue to insist on freedom of navigation throughout the region.
In Uganda, voting turned to violence a day after the country’s presidential election. Angry protests broke out when the main opposition candidate was arrested again. Police fired tear gas and bullets into the air to disperse the crowds. The country’s president, Yoweri Museveni, has held power for 30 years.
Back in this country, the last of Louisiana’s Angola Three inmates was released after more than 40 years. Albert Woodfox and two others spent decades in isolation at state prisons in Angola and elsewhere. He was twice convicted of murder in the death of a prison guard, but the verdicts were overturned. Woodfox was awaiting a new trial when he agreed to plead no contest and go free at the age of 69.
The state of Oregon is headed towards the highest minimum wage in the country. A bill to raise the wage over six years won final approval Thursday. It is the first such measure to set pay by region. By 2022, Portland employees will earn $14.75 an hour, while workers in rural areas will make $12.50.
And Wall Street finished the week with mixed results. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 21 points to close at 16392. The Nasdaq rose nearly 17 points, and the S&P 500 was virtually unchanged.
Still to come on the “NewsHour”: why winning South Carolina is so important to the GOP candidates; Mark Shields and David Brooks take on a packed week of news; a dangerous journey for children seeking refuge in Greece with their families; and much more.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Tight races in South Carolina and Nevada, the intersection of politics and religion, and a congressional battle brewing over an eventual Supreme Court nominee.
We turn now to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good to see you.
So, David, today, it’s Apple. Yesterday, it was the pope. Who gets the better of this exchange between Donald Trump and the pontiff?
DAVID BROOKS, New York Times Columnist: Everything sacred in our world is being attacked.
I think it’s an accumulation of things for Trump. It’s — you start the week attacking George Bush and the Iraq War. You call everybody a liar. Then you have the pope thing. Then you have the Apple thing.
The question is, will fatigue ever set in? And some of the polls suggest no. In some the polls, he’s still doing solidly. But there are another set of polls. There’s a stream of polls, including the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, which suggest it’s beginning to hurt him and that he’s beginning to slide. There is some exhaustion factor.
So I don’t think it’s one thing that’s — but it’s the accumulation of bombast. And there may be this — we may be getting to the moment — and I thought he was completely unhinged in the debate Saturday night — where that begins to have some telling effect.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you see some of the magic maybe dissipating from Donald Trump?
MARK SHIELDS: Yes, I agree with David, first of all, on the debate.
My only explanation for it is, he was unnerved by the public booing. And the booing was so sustained. And this is a man who feeds off the adulation of his own rallies. There’s no way in the world you planned going into a national debate for Republicans on national television that you were going to suggest — charge, not suggest — charge that the last Republican president of the United States not only knew that there were no weapons of mass destruction, but took the country into war knowing that.
So, it was just — it was really bizarre, beyond. As far as the pope is concerned, it will come as an enormous surprise to Donald Trump that the pope has probably no idea who he is. The question was, what about someone who advocates building walls, rather than building bridges, and closes off any access or really compassion to those who are suffering from forced migration and the dispossessed?
And the pope said, that’s un-Christian, and I think by just about any definition. There is an iron rule in American politics about the clergy, whether it’s the pope or a rabbi or a minister. And that is, they should never interfere in politics, unless they — the one exception being when they agree with me and my side.
MARK SHIELDS: So I think that, after John McCain and Mexicans and Muslims and Megyn Kelly, the pope — I wouldn’t put Apple in the same category as a sympathetic institution.
MARK SHIELDS: But, at some point, the accumulation of the people he has just not only made enemies with, but denigrated, I think, becomes a weight too heavy for his candidacy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, maybe another problem for Donald Trump, David, is the endorsement of Marco Rubio by the Governor Nikki Haley in South Carolina. Does something like that help Rubio? Does it move him?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think, in general, endorsements don’t matter, but in this case it matters, I think, in part because of the debate performance from a couple of weeks ago where his campaign seemed to be in decline. This helps revive the story that he’s on the rebound.
And, indeed, if you look at the polls, he’s on the rebound. To me, the most interesting story on the Republican side, unless the polls are completely wrong, Trump will probably win. But Rubio could beat Cruz for second. They seem neck and neck in most of the polls.
And if Ted Cruz comes in second in South Carolina, an evangelical-heavy state, a pretty conservative state, that says something about — that says something serious about the Cruz candidacy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see the Rubio/Cruz thing? Cruz has been — gotten in trouble, as Lisa just reported, Mark, over those TV spots he’s been running. And he has really been in a tough back-and-forth with both Trump and with Rubio.
MARK SHIELDS: Did anybody notice that they were shaking hands with their left hands? That’s how bad that was. It was really a lousy Photoshop job, in addition to being cheap and tawdry politics.
I think that, as a general rule, endorsements, unless it’s the spouse of one candidate endorsing the opponent…
MARK SHIELDS: … really don’t — people don’t quite say, I was undecided. I was either going to vote between Kennedy and Nixon, but the lieutenant governor endorsed Nixon, so I’m going to vote for him.
But it’s a very personal — but I do think Nikki Haley may be the exception. She’s one of the — she’s 4-1 favorable among Republican voters. She has a favorable rating among African-American voters, rare for any Republican in the country, let alone one in South Carolina.
And it’s just really — I think it does give him a little narrative that — with Tim Scott and Trey Gowdy, that he is on the rebound and coming back.
If, in fact, Ted Cruz, having won Iowa and finished third in New Hampshire — and it was expected that once they went below the Mason-Dixon Line, you were getting into his favorable territory — if he finishes third, I think it’s a real setback for him.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I have to ask you both about Jeb Bush, one of the so-called establishment trio. David, he had his brother the former president in there. He had his mother, Barbara Bush, as we just reported, in there. What’s going on with Jeb Bush? Is this helping him?
DAVID BROOKS: The press thought Bush was coming back until — and he’s — I think if he hangs around 10, he can stay in until Florida. He’s got the money.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Ten percent. Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: I think he’s performing well.
People have sort of closed their mind, but if he falls down to around 5 or 6, you know, then, nationally, he’s at 4, so that’s not good. And so I think he can hang around, just because I — he may feel…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Even if he comes in fourth or fifth?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, I see Mark frowning at me. And I hate to — now I have the lord judgment upon me.
DAVID BROOKS: But I still think he feels called to hit back at Trump. I think he would hate to think that he wasn’t there to hit back at Trump.
He, of course, would hurt the anti-Trump cause by getting out, but I’m sure that’s not how he feels in his heart.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
That Wall Street Journal/NBC poll that David cited did an interesting thing. They did matchups if it did come down to two candidates, if it were Marco Rubio against Trump, or it were Ted Cruz against Trump. And both of them would beat Trump by 16 points, which is pretty impressive, 56-40.
So there is a real ceiling Donald Trump has. The one candidate Donald Trump did beat in a matchup was Jeb Bush. And I just think, at some point, it becomes just obvious.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean in a head-on-head, head-to-head.
MARK SHIELDS: Do you want to go home to Florida, where you were a successful and popular two-term governor, and lose, and especially if Marco Rubio, the mentee, gets the boost out of South Carolina, and the mentor — having finished sixth in Iowa, fourth in New Hampshire, I mean, do you really continue with another fourth in South Carolina?
I think it becomes awfully difficult, almost painful.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me move you quickly to the Democrats.
Nevada, they’re voting in those caucuses tomorrow. David, both of you said last week words to the effect that you don’t see Hillary Clinton has a rationale to her candidacy. Seven days later, do you still feel the same way?
DAVID BROOKS: I do.
She’s gone more aggressively in trying to use identity politics to trump class politics, which I don’t think is a good strategy in 2016. This is a very economic class war they’re having. And secondly, the interesting thing about what’s happening in Nevada is that it’s close. It didn’t seem that way several weeks ago.
And that’s because Sanders has done well with Latinos. And it’s interesting. There is a difference between the way Latino voters are reacting and African-American voters, especially in South Carolina. The African-Americans are still pretty solidly behind Clinton, but the Latino voters are not.
And so, assuming he does — ties or even wins, the question will be whether people in South Carolina in African-American communities, in other communities are willing to take another look at him, because there’s a lot of people who really haven’t focused on him yet.
And so, if he does win Nevada, that changes the storyline and gives him just another — just another step up of what has been a series of pretty good steps over the last six weeks.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you see going on with Clinton-Sanders?
MARK SHIELDS: I wish I could disagree with David.
I think that Bernie Sanders right now is in a period of momentum. And I think what’s interesting, Hillary Clinton since April has slipped in overall polling by the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll — they put up of their surveys together — with every demographic group, I mean, across the board, age, income, education, gender, nationality, but particularly among Latinos, which there is no explanation for it.
And her campaign, when New Hampshire looked sort of dreary, had boasted openly that they had a 25-point lead in Nevada, raising expectations. As far as her rationale, it’s basically it’s Hillary’s turn. She’s strong. She’s tested. We live in a dangerous world, and she’s ready, and you need somebody there who is steady and ready.
Or the third one is, do you want Barack Obama’s third term? I promise you, I will give that.
That seems to me to be the rationale for her candidacy at this point.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And she was making what appeared to be an effort to nail down her strong position on immigration, on supporting…
MARK SHIELDS: Yes. She did have one great spot — I don’t know if you have seen it — where the little Latino girl…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes. Her parents are going to be deported. And Hillary Clinton shows a kindness and a compassion, a soft side, which I think has been missing totally from her candidacy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally, I want to come to the death of the Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
David, reflections on him before we talk about the politics of it?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, he was a joyous spirit, poker player, cigar, wine.
So, if you want to convert people to your side, you can issue court opinions, but be a pleasant spirit. And I’m really impressed by the court. We have so much polarization. They generally are friends with each other and they work hard on that. It’s a very impressive institution.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes. He — Abner Mikva, former congressman from Illinois, member of the Court of Appeals, remember, when he was nominated, he said he had served…
JUDY WOODRUFF: A Democrat.
MARK SHIELDS: A Democrat.
When Antonin Scalia was nominated to the Supreme Court, he said, great guy, just a terrific guy. I disagree with him on everything.
And I think that was it. He never let the disagreements define any relationship. And the one with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you see the two of them laughing and thoroughly enjoying each other in an open and natural way, which is refreshing in Washington in this particular era.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I think you could see that as they were standing there today at the Supreme Court.
There may not have been disagreements that way, but there certainly are disagreements politically, David, over what’s going to happen now. The president says he’s going to nominate someone. The Senate Republican leadership is saying, well, we’re not going to confirm them. We may not even consider.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, of course they should consider. He is president. And the Constitution says the president nominates, and the Constitution is there to put rules around our struggles for power.
John Marshall was nominated by John Adams, like, after the election had already happened. And so I think it’s totally fair. And the Republicans are going to probably get away with not doing anything.
And, to me, what it will do — and I don’t know the effect of this — it will polarize the bases. It will create more conflict. It will elevate the social issues on the Republican side. It will elevate campaign finance on the Democratic side. And so it will probably have a polarizing effect on the election.
If the candidacies are strong, it would probably help a Cruz and a Sanders because of the issues that would get elevated.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Less than 30 seconds.
MARK SHIELDS: Oh, I think Senator McConnell could only have been trying to appeal to the restive, restless, angry Republican primary voters who are so disappointed in the Republicans in Congress, that they said they haven’t overturned, they have been rolled by Obama. He was going to step out.
Before the body was cold, before condolences were offered to the family, he announced that there would be — regardless, made no difference whom the president nominated. It was — and he got a number of Republicans in tough races to follow him, I mean, Senator Ayotte in New Hampshire, Senator Portman in Ohio, Senator Johnson in Wisconsin.
They’re all — they made a big mistake. That is not the American tradition. And I think it was a misstep politically.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you get the last word.
Mark Shields, David Brooks, we thank you both.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Iranians will go to the polls next week to elect a new parliament and to choose the small group that will pick the next supreme leader.
One of our colleagues from NPR is just back from a reporting trip to Iran, and William Brangham has that conversation.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The signing of the landmark nuclear deal with Iran was supposed to begin a new era of relations between Iran and the West. The deal would free Iran from decades of crippling economic sanctions, while giving the West some confidence that Iran won’t be able to develop a nuclear weapon.
Many in the United States, however, remain wary of Iran’s intentions, including virtually all the Republican candidates running for president. They all vow to renegotiate the agreement.
But what is happening inside Iran?
National Public Radio’s Steve Inskeep is just back from a reporting trip, and he joins me now.
Steve, welcome back. And welcome to the show.
STEVE INSKEEP, NPR: Thanks. Glad to be here.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The nuclear deal has been signed. Iran is freed somewhat from these sanctions.
What is it like there? Are things getting better for Iranians?
STEVE INSKEEP: No, not in day-to-day life, not yet.
In fact, in talking with people on the street, which I find to be one of the most productive things to do when traveling to Iran, I find a lot of pessimism. People have gone through years of economic suffering. Many people have disagreed with the political direction of their government.
And even though things are moving, in their point of view, in a more optimistic direction, it’s very slow. And of course it’s too early to see any concrete economic results from the end of sanctions that just happened a few weeks ago.
There was a time when people were saying just the anticipation of the end of sanctions was improving Iran’s economy, but that seems not to have trickled down to ordinary people.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But I don’t understand. Rouhani was elected in no small part to eliminate sanctions, to improve relations with the West, to try to make the economy better. Is this the sense that it’s not happening fast enough or not enough?
STEVE INSKEEP: That is exactly right.
There is this residue of support for Hassan Rouhani. I even found people in centers of support for the prior president, who was very different, who said, yes, I support Rouhani. I’m with Rouhani.
But I think more liberal people or Western-facing people who want much greater openness, who want much greater change have been disappointed not to see more.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And I know, in one of your reports this week, you reported on how there are certainly still some people in Iran who don’t want any of those changes to occur. What is it that they’re afraid of?
What is it that they’re worried — if business starts to flourish, if the economy gets better? Help me understand what the concern is.
STEVE INSKEEP: Well, on a basic level, they’re afraid of us. They’re afraid of the United States.
This was a government that was founded on a few basic principles, and one of them was opposition to the United States. And the United States was blamed for many of Iran’s previous problems before 1979. There’s been a longstanding rivalry. They’re aware of profound distrust in the United States of Iran.
And so you have two governments that are very much at odds on everything other than the nuclear deal. And so, on one level, it’s as simple as that. On another level, you have a government, a clerical-led government, that has elections, that has a semblance of democracy, but that knows it is not fundamentally supported by a lot of people.
Some people might say the majority of Iranians oppose the government. I can’t go that far. I don’t know what the numbers are. But it’s clear there is a lot of cynicism, a lot of disappointment with this government, and a lot of impatience with this government.
And if you’re in charge, you know that. And so you wonder what’s going to happen next. You don’t want things to go the wrong way and for your government to fall.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: One of the things that, in the West, we like to tell ourselves is that it was the economic sanctions that crippled their economy and brought Iran to the negotiating table.
And one of your reports really detailed this — the cynicism almost that people think that some of the problems within Iran might have been because of corruption and mismanagement within their own government.
STEVE INSKEEP: Oh, yes. No, this was really interesting.
It was a talking point for Iranians during sanctions: Your sanctions aren’t really hurting us too much. It’s other things that are going on here.
But it’s also something that a lot of Iranians firmly, genuinely believe, that there were ways that they found to get around economic sanctions. And, by the way, during all my visits over the last several years, I have stories about people finding ways to sell carpets to Germany, people finding ways to sell petrochemicals to China, in spite of various sanctions.
So, certain things did happen.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Big ingenious population in Iran.
STEVE INSKEEP: Yes, exactly. And you can get around economic sanctions, to an extent, although they were more and more punishing over time.
But what has been harder to get around is that sense of mismanagement of the economy, hyperinflation in the economy, 36,000 Iranian rials for $1. And it was much, much less just a few years ago.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s incredible.
STEVE INSKEEP: And so you have serious problems in the economy, and you have a clear sense of corruption, that some of these government entities that are deeply involved in the economy also take a cut.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: We know there’s elections coming up at the end of next week. And in typical Iranian fashion, a whole slew of people who wanted to run were told, you can’t run, reasons unstated.
But what are you looking for in particular in that election next week?
STEVE INSKEEP: Yes.
When you say typical Iranian fashion, it’s the system. It’s officially the system.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Right.
STEVE INSKEEP: There’s a group called the Guardian Council that is there to disqualify candidates who are considered not Islamic enough or not enough with the Islamic Revolution and whatever else.
And you’re correct that they’re not very transparent about their reasons for people being disqualified. We don’t even know — or I don’t at this moment — maybe somebody does — exactly who is in or out.
We know that many people were disqualified. There are elections for the Assembly of Experts this time. The Assembly of Experts is charged with overseeing the supreme leader, to the extent that anybody does. That’s the body that elects the supreme leader. That’s the body that, at least in theory, could remove or impeach, as Americans would say, the supreme leader, if there was some incapacity or he couldn’t do his job.
So it’s considered vitally important who gets on that panel, who chooses the next supreme leader. Let’s remember that this is a system was designed, rather like the American system, with lots of checks and balances. Any new leader of that country would still inherit that system with all of its checks and balances.
It would be very hard to move Iran in any direction but the direction it’s in now.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Steve Inskeep from National Public Radio, thank you for your reporting. Thanks being here.
STEVE INSKEEP: Glad to come.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, new figures from the United Nations show that an average of two children have drowned every day since last September, as their families attempted the perilous crossing from Turkey to Greece.
This week alone, off the Greek island of Lesbos, more than 900 people have been rescued at sea.
Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant accompanied European Union border police this week as they patrolled the Aegean Sea, and he was there when dozens of those people were saved.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Dawn at Molyvos in northern Lesbos, where traditional rhythms of island life coexist with the new.
Portuguese maritime police attached to Frontex, the E.U.’s border agency, they’re heading out on patrol. So far this year, despite winter weather, more than 50,000 migrants have made the five-mile crossing from Turkey to Lesbos, driven by the war intensifying in Syria.
Frontex spokesman Chris Borowski:
CHRIS BOROWSKI, Frontex: Frontex is supporting the Greeks in both patrolling their waters and then, in the end, once the migrants arrive, we’re registering them to make sure that we have counted all of them and that we have — we know who’s coming across the border. They’re registered, counted, their nationalities are determined, and the point is to kind of know who’s coming into Europe.
MALCOLM BRABANT: But how is that protecting Europe’s borders?
CHRIS BOROWSKI: The bottom line is that it’s up to the Greeks to protect the borders here. We’re here to support them in any way we possibly can.
MALCOLM BRABANT: For more than a week, the Portuguese have not seen any migrants. The police don bulletproof life jackets, in case they encounter violent smugglers, or worse. There’s a boat in distress. The skipper cranks up the engines to 45 knots.
The calm weather is perfect for crossing from Turkey. Other European civilian volunteers have already arrived to ensure there’s no loss of life. This is a familiar scenario. The cheap outboards either die mid-channel, or the migrants cut the engines and call for help by mobile phone.
There’s a problem with the engine, they shout. The dinghy is carrying 58 people, including 18 mainly small children. The Portuguese prime concern is that, in their haste to get off, the refugees will destabilize the vessel and it will capsize.
MAN: Hold the line. You hold the line here.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Scores of people have drowned in these waters so far this year. As many as 4,000 died in 2015.
Where are both of you from?
MAN: From Syria.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Yes.
What do you think of this? What do you think of the way that you’re being met?
MAN: It’s good, good. Thank you.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The gentle sea state helps the Portuguese agents.
MAN: Today, it’s them. Tomorrow, maybe Portuguese can need people, too. So, we have to take care of each other.
MAN: A normal day. The boat have a problem with the engine. It cannot move. The people inside, we have too many children, two sick guys, in this case, we have to put on board and take them ashore to have a medical test.
MAN: You wait. You wait for us to call you, OK? Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Like many of those on board, Abdullah Harmoush is from Latakia on Syria’s coast, the home town of President Bashar al-Assad.
ABDULLAH HARMOUSH, Syrian Refugee: There are many troubles in my city because of the violence, and it’s that we couldn’t stay there in Syria.
So, we left Syria to take refugee. It was a very good response from the police. We was very afraid in the sea, but when we entered the water of Greece, we have the support very quickly. We are expecting very, very fast response from the police in the sea from Greece.
It’s really an amazing feel that we — at the time we entered the water of Greece, we are rescued, and we are very, very, very happy about it, here in this boat.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Acting as purely a rescue service, which is what you’re doing, aren’t you actually encouraging more people to come because they know they’re going to be safe?
CHRIS BOROWSKI: We do not encourage people to come here. We’re here to help patrol the waters. And once the migrants cross in, we are — if it’s a search-and-rescue operation, we have to help them get to the — get on the boats, and then we have to allow them to come to Greece to then register them and allow them to seek asylum.
MALCOLM BRABANT: But some of the people on this boat were saying, we knew we were going to be rescued, so we just set off. So isn’t that just encouraging people?
CHRIS BOROWSKI: What we are doing is, we are supporting the Greeks in patrolling their borders and we are doing all we can to both make sure that we both register everybody who comes here and rescuing those who needs — who needs rescues.
MALCOLM BRABANT: In the past 10 days, NATO has deployed to reinforce Europe’s borders. There are five ships out in the international waters of the Aegean Sea, which divided Greece from Turkey.
Now, NATO insists that it’s not going to be intercepting refugee boats and turning them back. They will adhere to international treaties, which require them to go to the help of people in distress upon the sea. That means that people picked up by NATO vessels will be returned to Turkey.
Will this strategy work? Professor Christodoulos Yiallouridis, dean of Athens’ Panteion University, believes it could make a difference.
CHRISTODOULOS YIALLOURIDIS, Panteion University (through interpreter): NATO can’t stop them coming. She can, however, assist in restricting the flow of migrants simply because of her presence. It will be known that NATO is waiting for them, and this should act as a deterrent.
MALCOLM BRABANT: NATO didn’t deter these 90 Afghans picked up by the Greek coast guard.
How do you feel about being in Europe?
MAN: We are feeling good. Good.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Among them, Edriss Bayat, who used to work as an administrator for NATO in Afghanistan.
EDRISS BAYAT, Afghan Refugee: What do you think about the way Europe is reacting to the refugee crisis?
Well, I think they are doing a good job. At least, they are — they know that who is entitled to seek the assistance. And, for example, we come from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and they are the people who very — really need to leave their country and — because save their life.
MALCOLM BRABANT: But why couldn’t you stay in another country like Turkey, for example? Why did you have to come to Europe?
EDRISS BAYAT: Well, there is a lot of issues in Turkey, for example, job-wise. They are not giving you the immigrants. You cannot get like a permanent visa or a Turkish passport or anything.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Where do you want to go in Europe? What do you want to do?
ABDULLAH HARMOUSH: For me, I want to continue my study and have a good future.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Do you want to stay in Europe, or do you want to go back to Syria? What do you want to do?
ABDULLAH HARMOUSH: Of course, when the war is over, I will come back to my country.
MALCOLM BRABANT: And what do you want to do for your country when you…
ABDULLAH HARMOUSH: OK. Rebuild it.
EDRISS BAYAT: I really wish to have a safe country. If our country gets safe, we will go back.
MALCOLM BRABANT: European Union nations are doing all they can to stem the migrant tide, but, as Middle Eastern violence threatens to draw in Turkey, the flow shows no sign of abating.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Malcolm Brabant in Lesbos.
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