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

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    An editorial published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal urges caution on vaginal swabbing for newborns delivered by C-section. Photo by Grace Robertson/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

    An editorial published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal urges caution on vaginal swabbing for newborns delivered by C-section. Photo by Grace Robertson/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

    A growing number of soon-to-be parents planning for a cesarean section are also asking for a newer secondary procedure: wiping the newborn with mom’s vaginal fluids. The hope is that vaginal swabbing could restore the microbiomes of babies that miss out on the birth canal. But doctors are cautioning that little research has been done on the procedure, and the risks and benefits aren’t clear.

    “It’s not really right to expect a health professional to do something that isn’t of any proven benefit and may carry a risk of harm,” said Dr. Aubrey Cunnington, an infectious diseases specialist who penned an editorial on the subject published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal.

    The risk is that mothers may be carrying certain viruses or bactera — like the ones that cause chlamydia and genital herpes — and not realize it. Babies born by C-section are typically spared exposure to those viruses, but the swabbing could reintroduce that risk. It’s also unclear if the procedure has any negative long-term effects on a baby’s health, since no longitudinal research has been done on the subject.

    A study published earlier this month in Nature Medicine found that swabbing babies born by Cesarean section with microbes collected from their mothers could help them develop healthier microbiomes — the colonies of microorganisms in the human gut, mouth, and skin. In that study, doctors swabbed four babies in the first few minutes after delivery with gauze coated with their mother’s vaginal fluids. Thirty days after birth, those babies had more diverse microbiomes, more similar to babies born vaginally. It’s suspected that a less diverse microbiome might have negative effects on a child’s health.

    Still, a long-term study of a large group of infants who’ve been vaginally seeded is needed before clinical use. “We advise doctors not to do this procedure, but mothers could well do this themselves,” Cunnington said.

    If parents take the DIY approach, Cunnington said it’s crucial they let their child’s doctor know. Take, for example, babies exposed to chlamydia during birth; they often turn up with nasty eye infections. Doctors might think babies are safe from chlamydia because of a C-section delivery — when, in fact, the baby was swabbed with vaginal microbes.

    “If they don’t know this vaginal seeding was done, they may make the wrong call,” Cunnington explained.

    Dr. Juliette C. Madan, a neonatologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center who has studied infant microbiomes, said she agrees with Cunnington and other groups urging caution when it comes to vaginal swabbing. If the procedure turns out to boost babies’ microbiomes in the long run, Madan said doctors would need to thoroughly screen women to make sure there’s nothing that could be passed to a newborn via vaginal swabbing. Such screenings are common in the United States when women are 36 weeks pregnant, but not in other countries.

    “You don’t want to do any intervention — because it’s time-consuming and there might be risks — if there are no benefits,” she said.

    Until there’s more evidence, Cunnington said, it’s best to encourage new mothers to focus on breastfeeding their infants and avoiding unnecessary antibiotic use to promote healthy microbiomes in their babies.

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on February 23, 2016. Find the original story here.

    The post Why ‘vaginal swabbing’ your newborn might not be a good idea appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    MIDLOTHIAN, Va. — Sheila Covert is worried about Donald Trump.

    A loyal Republican voter from swing state Virginia, Covert calls the businessman “bombastic” and says there’s “just no substance” in his boastful campaign rhetoric.

    But if Trump does become the GOP presidential nominee?

    “Well, I’d definitely vote for him,” said Covert, an 81-year-old from the Richmond suburb of Powhatan. After a pause, she added, “But I hope and pray it doesn’t come to that.”

    Covert is part of a legion of skeptical Republican voters across the United States coming to grips with the prospect that Trump, a candidate whose appeal they simply can’t understand, may end of being their party’s best chance for retaking the White House. The real estate mogul has scored three commanding primary victories in a row, including Tuesday in Nevada, and enters next week’s delegate-rich Super Tuesday elections in strong position.

    Interviews with about two dozen frequent Republican voters in Virginia — an important general election battleground and one of several states with a primary next week — reveal the complex mix of emotions Trump evokes within in his own party.

    Among those who don’t plan to vote for Trump in the primary, there’s shock, confusion and anxiousness over his candidacy. But there’s also a grudging acceptance of the billionaire’s political staying power and a feeling that despite his many flaws, he’d be better than another four years with a Democrat in the White House — particularly if that Democrat is Hillary Clinton.

    Supporters of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump take the Pledge of Allegiance at a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Jim Young?Reuters

    Supporters of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump take the Pledge of Allegiance at a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Jim Young?Reuters


    “He says things you cannot imagine a president saying,” said Michael Glunt, a 42-year-old landscaper from Midlothian. But if Trump faces off against Clinton in November, Glunt will cast his ballot for the GOP nominee.

    “In this particular case, I would vote for him,” Glunt said. “Hillary Clinton, I don’t trust her. There’s no trust.”

    The voters interviewed by The Associated Press represent a tiny sliver of the electorate. But their views illuminate the debate within both parties about how a Trump nomination would play out in November, particularly as that prospect becomes more real with each voting contest.

    Democratic officials are betting that Trump’s over-the-top rhetoric, particularly about women and immigrants, would turn off independents and some Republicans in battleground states like Virginia. Some anxious GOP leaders share that concern, contributing to the sudden rush of lawmakers and other party officials rallying around Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as an alternative.

    Bill Ginther, a 69-year-old retiree from Midlothian, is among the Republicans so turned off by Trump they can hardly envision voting for him if he’s the nominee. Ginther, who plans to vote for Rubio in Tuesday’s primary, says he’s “honestly shocked” that Trump has come as far as he has.

    “I don’t know if I could vote for him,” Ginther said. “It would make it very difficult.”

    Donald Trump’s victory speech after winning the GOP Nevada caucuses on Tuesday. Video by PBS NewsHour

    While some voters joke about moving to Canada if Trump becomes president, Nancy Bradner is looking at that possibility with some seriousness. A supporter of past GOP nominees including Mitt Romney and George W. Bush, she’s now researching Canadian politics, as well as the country’s health care system and housing market.

    Bradner doesn’t know if she’d really go through with a move north — “I can’t leave my grandbabies,” she said — but makes clear that “it would be an option.”

    “I just don’t think I could be in the midst of it,” Bradner said. “This is the first time in my 68 years that I have truly been scared of what is going to happen in this election.”

    A recent AP-GfK poll, however, suggests Ginther and Bradner may be in the minority. The survey showed far more Republicans than not say they’d vote for Trump in the general election, and 86 percent of Republican voters think he can win in November — giving him a 15 percentage point advantage over anyone else.

    For Cumberland County resident Tina Shumaker, the prospect of voting for Trump is deeply unappealing. Her top concern in the election is national security, and she can’t fathom Trump engaging in diplomacy or being able to keep the country safe.

    But her concerns about him pale in comparison to her dislike of Clinton. And while Shumaker sees no good options in a general election contest between the two, the 66-year-old leaves no question about who would get her support.

    “If it would have to come between him and Hillary, I’m afraid he’d get my vote,” Shumaker said. “I hope it doesn’t turn out that way. But it’s beginning to look that way.”

    SUBSCRIBE: Get the analysis of Mark Shields and David Brooks delivered to your inbox every week.

    The post For some turned-off GOP voters, there’s a grudging acceptance of Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    This photo shows the coldest regions (depicted in red) at the center of Milky Way galaxy. Photo by ESO/ATLASGAL consortium/NASA/GLIMPSE consortium/VVV Survey/ESA/Planck/D. Minniti/S. Guisard/Ignacio Toledo, Martin Kornmesser

    This photo shows the coldest regions (depicted in red) at the center of Milky Way galaxy. Photo by ESO/ATLASGAL consortium/NASA/GLIMPSE consortium/VVV Survey/ESA/Planck/D. Minniti/S. Guisard/Ignacio Toledo, Martin Kornmesser

    Take a close look at the photo above — you just might be witnessing the birth of star. It’s a rare image that depicts the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, and it was captured by the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope in Chile. This photo, along with a swath of others released today, complete a special survey of Earth’s southern skies by providing the broadest map to date of the coldest parts of our galaxy, where stars are born.

    “The important part of the survey is that you get a new roadmap. With it, we can find all of the raw material for star formation in our Milky Way that was previously hidden from view,” said Friedrich Wyrowski, an astronomer and APEX scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany. “All of these measurements have been done in many external galaxies where we have a global view, but it’s much more difficult in our own galaxy.”

    science-wednesday

    To chart this roadmap, APEX sits among the skies — 16,700 feet above sea level on Chile’s Chajnantor Plateau. There, its 39-foot dish peers into the universe and measures light radiation. Visible light has short wavelengths (400–700 nanometers). Radio waves are the opposite, with wavelengths stretching as far as millions of meters. For this survey, the APEX telescope wanted to capture light wavelengths somewhere in the middle — in the submillimeter range.

    The Cat's Paw Nebula, located 5,500 light years distant, contains a large concentration of star-forming cold dust, according to the ATLASGAL's survey of the Earth's southern skies. Photo by the European Southern Observatory/Digitized Sky Survey.

    The Cat’s Paw Nebula, located 5,500 light years distant, contains a large concentration of star-forming cold dust, according to the ATLASGAL’s survey of the Earth’s southern skies. Photo by the European Southern Observatory/Digitized Sky Survey.

    That’s because light radiation in this submillimeter range comes from the most frigid objects in universe, namely cold dust. Warm cosmic dust would be much like the dust in your room in terms of temperature. Cold dust, by contrast, is much much colder at -454 to -436 degrees Fahrenheit, which is barely warmer than absolute zero.

    Cold dust often resides in the densest parts of the universe, Wyrowski said, where gas and dust molecules are packed into tight spaces because of gravity. As the pressure builds, this dense cloud of molecules becomes hotter until — BOOM! — a fusion reaction ignites and a star is born.

    To spot cold dust, the APEX telescope comes equipped with a sensor called LABOCA that is itself ultracold. By cooling this sensor to less than 0.3 degrees above absolute zero, it has a high sensitivity for submillimeter radiation coming from cold dust. LABOCA also has a wide field of view that is equal to one third of the diameter of the full moon, so it can capture huge chunks of the sky.

    APEX’s high altitude helps too.

    The Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope is one of the tools used by European Southern Observatory to peer beyond the realm of visible light. Clusters of white penitentes -- thin spikes of hardened snow or ice --  can be seen in the foreground. Photo by ESO Photo Ambassador  Babak Tafreshi

    The Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope is one of the tools used by European Southern Observatory to peer beyond the realm of visible light. Clusters of white penitentes — thin spikes of hardened snow or ice — can be seen in the foreground. Photo by ESO Photo Ambassador Babak Tafreshi

    Aerial view of the APEX telescope on the Chajnantor Plateau in Chile’s Atacama region. Photo by Clémentine Bacri and Adrien Normier/ORA Wings for Science/ESO

    Aerial view of the APEX telescope on the Chajnantor Plateau in Chile’s Atacama region. Photo by Clémentine Bacri and Adrien Normier/ORA Wings for Science/ESO

    The LABOCA Camera installed on the APEX telescope. LABOCA is a 'thermometer camera' with 295 detectors and wide field of view to measure the cold universe. Photo by European Southern Observatory

    The LABOCA Camera installed on the APEX telescope. LABOCA is a ‘thermometer camera’ with 295 detectors and wide field of view to measure the cold universe. Photo by European Southern Observatory

    “Water vapor in our atmosphere absorbs much of the radiation from the cold dust that we want to detect. Building a telescope at a high altitude and in one of the driest places on Earth in Chile gets rid of most of this interfering water vapor,” Wyrowski said.

    The result is the ATLASGAL survey, a collaborative mission between the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, European Southern Observatory, and the University of Chile. Over the last nine years, this project has aimed to complete our picture of the Milky Way, which could only be done from the Southern hemisphere.

    Here, you see a combination of recordings of different wavelength. The red comprises measurement of cold dust from ATLASGAL and European Space Agency’s PLANCK satellite. In blue, you see infrared wavelengths or rather warm dust. In some places, you’ll see in the blue, darker filaments that look like they’re being filled with red, but what’s really happening is that cold material hides the view of the warmer dust. You may notice long filaments in red. A lot of star formation occurs in those filaments, which are very cold and dense, Wyrowski said. Those dense clumps continue to collapse, out of which stars form. You may also see bubbles. Some of the bubbles are due to stars that have already formed.

    “As soon as you go to the Southern hemisphere to a location like Chile with APEX, you get access to the whole Milky Way,” Wyrowski said. “For example, the center of our Milky Way is on the southern part of the Earth’s sky. Here in the North, it isn’t very visible above the horizon.”

    ATLASGAL’s map of cold dust can now be combined with infrared readings, such as as those from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, to fill in the early picture of star formation. As cold dust packs tighter and warms up, it begins emitting infrared rays, before ultimately exploding into a visible star.

    This video basically shows the milky way at different wavelengths. It starts with visible light — how you might see it with the naked eye or a very good camera. Then it goes to the near-infrared, where you see more features that represent parts of the universe that aren’t quite hot enough to be stars. “Here, you still see a lot of these very dark lanes, similar to the visible part. It’s not that stars are missing but it’s cold dust obscuring our view onto the star formation,” Wyrowski said. ATLASGAL has now revealed these cold obstructions.

    “Only at submillimeter wavelengths are we able to penetrate through all the dust to see these coldest parts of the star-forming regions. That allows us to find the most massive clumps, which will lead to the formation of very luminous stars,” Wyrowski said.

    The most luminous stars form rapidly in the coldest parts of the Milky Way, and they dictate the appearance and shape of our galaxy, because they have very strong outflows and winds that push around interstellar material. Ultimately, these stars will die as a supernova, again injecting lots of energy into the interstellar medium, forcing another batch of cold dust into a corner and sparking a star.

    “To find all of these birthplaces for massive stars will help us understand how our Milky Way will evolve,” Wyrowski said.

    The post Take a cruise across our cold galaxy and witness the birthplace of stars appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. Photo by Steve Marcus/Reuters

    Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is a former federal judge. Photo by Steve Marcus/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The White House is considering Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada as a possible nominee to the Supreme Court, two people familiar with the process said Wednesday.

    The nomination of a Republican would be seen as an attempt by President Barack Obama to break the Senate GOP blockade of any of his choices. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said his 54-member GOP caucus is opposed to holding confirmation hearings or vote on Obama’s pick, insisting that the choice rests with the next president.

    Sandoval, 52, is a former federal judge who supports abortion rights. He met with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid on Monday in Washington while he was in town for a meeting of the National Governors Association.

    The officials declined to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

    Mari St. Martin, Sandoval’s communications director, said Wednesday that the governor hasn’t been contacted by the White House.

    “Neither Gov. Sandoval nor his staff has been contacted by or talked to the Obama administration regarding any potential vetting for the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court,” she said.

    At the governors’ meeting over the weekend, Sandoval said he was honored his name was mentioned as a potential successor for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, but had heard nothing to think the Democratic president is considering him.

    Few GOP senators have shown any willingness to buck party leaders and consider an Obama nominee.

    Before McConnell announced his party’s position, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican, said Nevadans should have a voice in approving a selection — which his aides said meant the next president, not Obama, should fill the vacancy. Heller’s written statement concluded, “But should he decide to nominate someone to the Supreme Court, who knows, maybe it’ll be a Nevadan.”

    Sandoval’s consideration was first reported by The Washington Post.

    The post White House considers Nevada Gov. Sandoval for Supreme Court appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A missile launch-control facility near Minot Air Force Base. Day to day, each such facility is responsible for 10 Minuteman III missiles. But during an attack, a single facility could control up to 150 missiles if necessary, according to one former missileer. Minot's missile fields were built during the 1960s and cover roughly 8,500 square miles. The missiles and their control facilities are spread out to increase their chances of survival during a nuclear war. Photo by Jay Olivier

    A missile launch-control facility near Minot Air Force Base. Day to day, each such facility is responsible for 10 Minuteman III missiles. But during an attack, a single facility could control up to 150 missiles if necessary, according to one former missileer. Minot’s missile fields were built during the 1960s and cover roughly 8,500 square miles. The missiles and their control facilities are spread out to increase their chances of survival during a nuclear war. Photo by Jay Olivier

    MINOT, N.D. — During the Cold War, the United States developed a vast nuclear arsenal with weapons on aircraft, submarines and land-based missiles. These three ways of delivering nuclear weapons became known as the triad, with the Soviet Union was the primary target. The strategy was to deter an attack on the United States by having enough nuclear weapons that could survive a strike and retaliate.

    READ MORE: How many ballistic missile submarines does the U.S. really need?

    Over the next three decades, the Pentagon plans to spend $1 trillion to rebuild the triad. Military commanders and civilian experts say nuclear weapons are used every day to deter a nuclear attack against the U.S. and that the current stockpile needs to be replaced because they are old. An example: the B-52H bombers began flying in the late 1950s early 1960s and are older than the crews that fly them.

    Panorama of a B-52H bomber inside a hangar at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Inert training bombs sit on carts, at right, ready to be loaded onto the aircraft. These planes, first fielded in 1955, each can carry up to 70,000 lbs. of munitions. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

    Panorama of a B-52H bomber inside a hangar at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Inert training bombs sit on carts, at right, ready to be loaded onto the aircraft. These planes, first fielded in 1955, each can carry up to 70,000 lbs. of munitions. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

    But critics say the Defense Department is duplicating what it had during the cold war. Two leading critics, former defense secretary William Perry and former top nuclear commander Gen. James Cartwright (Ret.), say one leg of the triad — land-based nuclear tipped missiles — should be phased out.

    READ MORE: America’s nuclear bomb gets a makeover

    See more behind-the-scenes photos from America’s nuclear stockpile:

    These dummy bombs — used for practice mounting airplanes’ payload — lie on a platform inside an aircraft hangar, ready to be loaded into B-52H aircraft for training missions at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

    These dummy bombs — used for practice mounting airplanes’ payload — lie on a platform inside an aircraft hangar, ready to be loaded into B-52H aircraft for training missions at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

    B-52H bomber on the tarmac at Minot Air Force base is sprayed down with de-icing fluid. Photo by Jamie McIntyre

    B-52H bomber on the tarmac at Minot Air Force base is sprayed down with de-icing fluid. Photo by Jamie McIntyre

    Flames and smoke burst from a B-52H’s aging jet engines, as they roar to life with the help of eight explosive charges. The method was developed during the Cold War to give the bomber a quick kick-start in a crisis. Photo by Jamie McIntyre

    Flames and smoke burst from a B-52H’s aging jet engines, as they roar to life with the help of eight explosive charges. The method was developed during the Cold War to give the bomber a quick kick-start in a crisis. Photo by Jamie McIntyre

    Air Force Capt. Margaret Ingerslew at the weapons controls of a B-52H bomber. This giant aircraft carries tons of munitions and fuel, but space for the crew is quite cramped. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

    Air Force Capt. Margaret Ingerslew at the weapons controls of a B-52H bomber. This giant aircraft carries tons of munitions and fuel, but space for the crew is quite cramped. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

    Air Force Capt. Margaret Ingerslew at the B-52H weapons controls, which launches cruise missiles and drop bombs. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

    Air Force Capt. Margaret Ingerslew at the B-52H weapons controls, which launches cruise missiles and drop bombs. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

    Nestled amid private farmland, a chain-link fence marks the perimeter around a Minuteman III ballistic-missile launch facility, buried underground in the vicinity of Minot Air Force Base, N.D. The United States fields roughly 450 of the missiles, each fitted with a single nuclear warhead, spread across Minot and two other missile fields in Montana, Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming. Photo by Jay Olivier

    Nestled amid private farmland, a chain-link fence marks the perimeter around a Minuteman III ballistic-missile launch facility, buried underground in the vicinity of Minot Air Force Base, N.D. The United States fields roughly 450 of the missiles, each fitted with a single nuclear warhead, spread across Minot and two other missile fields in Montana, Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming. Photo by Jay Olivier

    An eight-ton door must be opened to gain access to the missile-launch facility’s underground control capsule, which is buried 50 to 60 feet below the surface. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

    An eight-ton door must be opened to gain access to the missile-launch facility’s underground control capsule, which is buried 50 to 60 feet below the surface. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

    Missile Combat Crew Commander 1st Lt. Kathleen Fosterling, right, and Deputy Missile Crew Commander 2nd Lt. Christina Camp, left, run through the morning hand-over briefing. Launch-control officers work 24-hour shifts eight times a month. Photo by Jay Olivier

    Missile Combat Crew Commander 1st Lt. Kathleen Fosterling, right, and Deputy Missile Crew Commander 2nd Lt. Christina Camp, left, run through the morning hand-over briefing. Launch-control officers work 24-hour shifts eight times a month. Photo by Jay Olivier

    Right to left, PBS NewsHour special correspondent Jamie McIntyre with 1st Lt. Kathleen Fosterling and Deputy Missile Crew Commander 2nd Lt. Christina Camp, inside the underground nuclear launch-control center. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

    Right to left, PBS NewsHour special correspondent Jamie McIntyre with 1st Lt. Kathleen Fosterling and Deputy Missile Crew Commander 2nd Lt. Christina Camp, inside the underground nuclear launch-control center. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

    Inside the underground chamber protected by the 8-ton blast door. Additional entrances help secure the nuclear launch-control personnel and equipment. Colorful paintings adorn the entranceway walls. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

    Inside the underground chamber protected by the 8-ton blast door. Additional entrances help secure the nuclear launch-control personnel and equipment. Colorful paintings adorn the entranceway walls. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

    A fire-breathing dragon, fortress and ballistic missile are painted on the entranceway to an underground Minuteman III launch-control capsule, buried deep underground near Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

    A fire-breathing dragon, fortress and ballistic missile are painted on the entranceway to an underground Minuteman III launch-control capsule, buried deep underground near Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

    Watch the full PBS NewsHour report with special correspondent Jamie McIntyre Wednesday night. This story was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

    The post See inside the underground bunker that could launch a nuclear war appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Teachers outside Rawwad School, a school for Syrian refugee children, in Reyhanli, Turkey. Photo courtesy of Karam Foundation

    Teachers outside Rawwad School, a school for Syrian refugee children, in Reyhanli, Turkey. Photo courtesy of Karam Foundation

    Editor’s Note: More than 1.7 million Syrian refugees currently live in Turkey, according to a United Nations report. A Human Rights Watch study says about 400,000 Syrian children in Turkey are not in school because of obstacles such as language barriers, economic hardship and social integration. The Karam Foundation, founded in Chicago in 2007 by two young Syrian-Americans, hopes to improve the situation by providing educational support for some of the thousands of Syrian refugee children.

    Ola Said is a Syrian refugee teacher at the refugee school in Reyhanli, Turkey, where the Karam Foundation held a four-day educational program in November. She shared some of the challenges involved with having to help her Syrian students, all of whom struggle daily with their new lives in Turkey, where she herself is also a refugee. Wendy Pearlman, a professor at Northwestern University, who taught in the program, helped edit the translation.


    In Syria, I had taught elementary and middle school while I was finishing my bachelor’s degree in English. When the Syrian revolution began in March 2011, my village in the Idlib Governorate became dangerous because it was located near a Syrian army installation and was affected by military operations. After the army committed mass killings in the village, my parents and six siblings and I relocated to Idlib city, where we rented an apartment.

    I was a senior in college then and was committed to completing my degree. My father supported me in that goal. But shortly after graduation, it became clear that the violence in Idlib was escalating. In December 2011, we fled to Turkey. My brothers fled to Lebanon, but they later rejoined the rest of the family in Turkey, where I was married two years later.teacherslounge

    I was unable to find work as a teacher. Instead, I became an agricultural laborer. But I wanted to get back to the classroom and began to go from school to school searching for a job. Unfortunately, there were no open positions except at the Rawwad School, which had no particular funding. The principal invited me to work but without a salary.

    I decided to accept the position, even without pay. Teaching is a human calling. Our children need to learn if they are to be able to build a new land and a new future.

    “As a teacher, I carry the wounds of my homeland, but also the dreams of the future.” — Ola Said, Syrian refugee teacher
    The Rawwad school does not have its own building. It is in a residential building with no campus of its own. It has no basic equipment, no suitable place to play and no laboratories or new educational resources to use for lessons. And there are no books. I have my own personal English book; every day, I photocopy the appropriate pages for my students to use in class that day. It is very expensive. I do not have a computer at home, so must do all of my preparations by hand.

    As a teacher, I carry the wounds of my homeland, but also the dreams of the future. Our children have suffered a lot. Most of them have lost someone in their family, or maybe even a parent, which has left them with enormous psychological problems.

    After what they have seen in Syria, many of them have been unable to start a new life. Their futures are not clear; many of their dreams and hopes died in Syria. They struggle to focus on their studies and their new environment. They struggle to build their dreams again.

    Many of our students’ psychological problems show themselves in the classroom. During one lesson, I was teaching the English words for family members, like father, mother, brother, etc. When I explained what the word “father” meant in Arabic, I looked over and was shocked to see that one of my students had started to weep. I asked him why, and he said that his father had been killed. All of my students suddenly began to talk about their own suffering and who in their families had died.

    Syrian students acting out Antigone at a refugee school in Reyhanli, Turkey. Photo courtesy of Karam Foundation

    Syrian students acting out Antigone at a refugee school in Reyhanli, Turkey. Photo courtesy of Karam Foundation

    I did not know what to do at that moment. My whole class was simultaneously in the midst of remembering the horrors of what they had seen in Syria. How could I continue teaching without being affected by their stories? I gave them some time to talk and then said to them: after everything that has happened to us, we need to be strong and build our future again. Many people in the world are also suffering, but they keep living.

    Being a refugee means not being able to live a normal life, because life has deprived you of the dreams you used to have. But you have to be a strong enough person to face these difficulties. As a teacher, I decided to build a new future and new dreams that are appropriate for my new circumstances in Turkey. I have hope that we can build a new generation that will be able to build itself and its country, Syria, once again.

    Being a refugee changed my life completely. As a teacher, I carry the wounds of my homeland, but also the dreams of the future. I decided to start again, trying to forget the bitter and painful reality that life had become.

    When the war started in Syria, we first saw the destruction of our homes. Then everything we knew was soon destroyed and chaos ensued. As Syrians, there was no choice but to flee to a neighboring country, such as Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey. I abandoned my home, my work, everything I had ever known. In Turkey, I am now responsible for my own family and their financial needs. Our journey has been no tourist trip. Every day has been made up of the painful reality that I have been forced to live.

    The post Syrian teacher flees carnage only to find new challenges in Turkey appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about a Supreme Court nominee from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington February 24, 2016. A day after Senate Republicans ruled out taking action on any Supreme Court nominee he puts forward, President Barack Obama on Wednesday vowed to move ahead with a selection who will possess an "independent mind" and grasp how laws impact people's lives.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTX28EP2

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Good evening. I’m Gwen Ifill. Judy Woodruff is on assignment.

    On the “NewsHour” tonight: the race for the White House moves from coffee shops to tarmacs, as the map expands to 12 more states for Super Tuesday.

    Also ahead: missiles, bombers, and submarines. We look at America’s aging nuclear triad.

    And former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden talks about his new book on American intelligence in the age of terror.

    GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN (RET.), Author, “Playing to the Edge”: I sat there with the order to authorize extended sleep deprivation on one of the detainees, Mohammad Rahim, and I never forgot he was a human being.

    GWEN IFILL: All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”

    (BREAK)

    GWEN IFILL: President Obama today insisted he will send a resistant Senate a Supreme Court nominee. Senate Republican say they will hold no hearings or vote and will, instead, wait until a new president takes office next year.

    But in an Oval Office meeting with the king of Jordan, the president said he’s going to his job, and senators should do theirs.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I recognize the
    politics are hard for them, because the easier thing to do is to give in to the most extreme voices within their party and stand pat and do nothing. But that’s not our job. Our job is to fulfill our constitutional duties.

    GWEN IFILL: At the same time, it was widely reported the White House is vetting Republican Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada as a possible nominee. He confirmed he’s discussed it with the state’s two senators, Minority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Dean Heller. We will delve into all of the court fight later in the program.

    The Senate did confirm a new commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration today. Robert Califf has been the agency’s number two official. Before that, he was a well-known cardiologist and medical researcher at Duke University.

    Also today, the president nominated Carla Hayden to be the 14th librarian of Congress. She’s currently head of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, and will be the first woman, and African-American, to serve in the post.

    House Republicans now say they’re gearing for a legal fight if President Obama tries to close the Guantanamo detention center and transfer prisoners to U.S. soil.

    Speaker Paul Ryan today warned the president not to use executive action to bypass a congressional ban against moving inmates.

    REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), Speaker of the House: We are making legal preparations, if the president tries to break the law. And what boggles my mind is that the president is contemplating directing the military to knowingly break the law.

    Our law is really clear. And, by the way, Democrats wrote this law when they were in the majority, when they ran Congress, which is these detainees cannot come to American soil.

    GWEN IFILL: Top Senate Republicans said they would join in any legal challenge.

    Austria and Balkan nations agreed in Vienna today to tighten border controls against migrants. Government ministers met amid rising security concerns and shrinking resources. Greece complained it wasn’t invited, but the Austrians said Athens has done nothing to stop the flow.

    Meanwhile, an estimated 20,000 people are stranded in Greece, after countries to the north began barring migrants. U.N. workers handed out blankets and other aid. Russia has ramped up diplomatic efforts to sell a cease-fire in Syria. President Vladimir Putin made phone calls today to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, plus the king of Saudi Arabia, the president of Iran and the prime minister of Israel.

    And Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, chiding those who’ve questioned the cease-fire.

    SERGEI LAVROV, Foreign Minister, Russia (through interpreter): On the very day when the presidents of Russia and the United States approved the joint initiative on the cease-fire in Syria, voices could be heard both from the capitals of the U.S. allies and from Washington which doubted the feasibility of this agreement. There is a call for war, and not for peace, in these voices.

    GWEN IFILL: Secretary of State John Kerry said again today he cannot vouch that the truce will work. He and Lavrov also spoke today by phone.

    Severe weather threatened nearly 90 million people along the U.S. East Coast today. The powerful system killed three people in Virginia after killing three others in the Gulf states overnight. Officials say at least seven tornadoes struck Louisiana and Mississippi, and left thousands without power. Drone video captured the destruction in Pensacola, Florida, where more than 70 homes were damaged.

    Meanwhile, a major snowstorm blasted parts of the Midwest today, canceling more than 1,000 flights to and from Chicago.

    Stanford University has announced the world’s largest fully-endowed scholarship program. Nike co-founder Phil Knight is donating $400 million to an endowment that’s expected to reach $750 million. It will fund 100 full scholarships each year for master’s and doctorate degrees. Candidates will be nominated by their undergraduate programs.

    Wall Street managed to stave off another day of losses. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 53 points to close at 16485. The Nasdaq rose 39 points, and the S&P 500 added eight.

    And the Big Apple is no longer home to the most billionaires in the world. A Chinese firm reports that that its latest yearly rankings — in its latest yearly rankings, Beijing is the new title holder, with 100 billionaires. New York has only 95. The shift highlights how China’s elite are piling up vast wealth, even as the nation’s economy cools.

    Still to come on the “NewsHour”: Donald Trump gains momentum ahead of Super Tuesday; a look at the showdown between the president and the Republican Congress; should the U.S. rebuild its entire nuclear arsenal?; and much more.

    The post News Wrap: Another round of volleys over Supreme Court nomination appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building in McLean, Virginia, August 14, 2008.      REUTERS/Larry Downing      (UNITED STATES) - RTR2146J

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    GWEN IFILL: We move now from defense to intelligence, and how the country has changed since the attacks of September 11.

    The privacy vs. security debate has surfaced again in the wake of the FBI’s appeal to tech giant Apple to unlock an iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shootings. And there is renewed campaign debate over torture.

    Hari Sreenivasan has our conversation with one man who was at the center of U.S. intelligence policy.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Retired Air Force General Michael Hayden is the only person to ever serve as both the director of the CIA and the head of the National Security Agency. His tenure at both agencies came during a critical period, as the U.S. launched and prosecuted the global war on terror.

    He’s just written a book about his time in government called “Playing to the Edge.”

    He joins me now.

    Thanks for joining us.

    GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN (RET.), Author, “Playing to the Edge”: Thank you, Hari.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, let’s start with some things that are in the news right now.

    GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN: Sure.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Sure.

    So, just earlier this week, the administration says the very existence of the prison at Guantanamo Bay is a recruiting tool for our enemy. You can see it in the orange jumpsuits that you see in every horrible beheading video that ISIS produces. You agree?

    GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN: I don’t think it’s a powerful recruitment tool for jihadism.

    And let me add one additional thought. If and when he brings these prisoners to North America, he’s still going to insist on indefinite detention without trial for a whole bunch of them. All he’s done is moved them from a warm to a cold climate.

    But he’s still sticking to the legal principle that some other countries object to that we actually can treat them as prisoners of war and keep them for the duration of the conflict.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.

    The other big story right now is obviously this tension between Apple and the government. In this conversation, you have said that you come down on the side of Apple more often than not. In this specific case, with this specific device, you are on the side of the government in trying to open it up. This is the phone, of course, that was used by the attacker in San Bernardino.

    You know, one of Apple’s arguments has been, listen, this will set a precedent, it will create a back door. And, sure enough, there’s at least nine or 10 other cases where Apple is being asked to open up that phone.

    GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN: Absolutely.

    And the U.S. attorney in Manhattan says he has got 175 of these instruments sitting in a room that he wants to be reopened. So, in this particular case, the original ask from the FBI, going back months now, was some sort of universal back door that would allow them to get into Apple and other companies’ encrypted devices.

    Frankly, Hari, I think American safety, American security — put the privacy argument aside, which is quite powerful. But I’m a security guy. I think American security is better served with end-to-end unbreakable encryption.

    And I recognize that makes the life of the FBI more difficult, may even make the life of my old agency more difficult.

    Watch the full interview with Gen. Michael Hayden here

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.

    Speaking of tools, you have said that enhanced interrogation techniques, what most American would consider torture, worked. In the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he had been water-boarded — I want to get this right — 183 times, kept awake for seven-and-a-half days, been in multiple stress positions.

    In a Senate report just a couple of years ago, it found that a lot of the information he gave us was either misinformation or he would confirm something after the government showed him that, hey, we have this from another source already.

    So, I’m wondering, why does America still need these techniques?

    GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN: Well, I came to the agency in ’06, all right?

    Most of this was already history. I could have walked away from it. But I studied the program over the summer of ’06. And I detailed kind of my personal journey in this. And I decided that — and a lot of things had changed. We were safer. We knew about the enemy more. Some laws had changed, all right?

    So, I was fairly willing to pull the program back. But I wasn’t judging what my predecessors had done. And I wanted some form of program to go forward, so that the president would have that option.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You might not judge your predecessors, but the American people certainly do. Right?

    If you felt like were you on solid legal footing, why do this — why do this in renditions, in black sites? Why destroy the tapes of what these events looked like? Because that seems like almost a tacit admission that, guess what, somebody back home isn’t going to think too highly of this.

    GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN: Well, what I try to suggest — and actually point out in some detail in the book — is, for example, the U.S. policy on renditions is the same under this president as it was under President Bush. That hasn’t changed.

    All right? These were extreme circumstances. No one is arguing that this should be a fast or an easy decision. I tell the story in the book. Although I emptied the sites in ’06, we kept them open. We wanted to have the option of using them.

    I put two people in them. And I relayed in the story that I sat there with the order to authorize extended sleep deprivation on one of the detainees, Mohammad Rahim, and I never forgot he was a human being.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: General, in a recent op-ed in The New York Times, which was an excerpt of the book, you defended the policy of drone strikes.

    And you said in there that the signature strikes were thoroughly researched, and, to use your words, ‘Intelligence for signature strikes always had multiple threads and deep history. The data was near encyclopedic.”

    And, interestingly enough, in that same chapter, you point out where you got the wrong one-legged guy.

    GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN: Right.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And you had an after-action to figure out what went wrong. Right?

    So, I think the question on the minds of a lot of people is, what is our actual ratio of innocent bystanders or collateral damage to every person we have? We have outside estimates from the Investigative Journalism Bureau and other places that say that these could be in the hundreds or thousands.

    You say: Listen, based on the intelligence I have seen, that’s not the case.

    GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN: Yes.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But the irony is, is that, well, we’re kind of left to fill the vacuum if that information never actually becomes public.

    GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN: No. Hari, you are absolutely right. And I regret that.

    And, unfortunately, I went to my own limits, playing to the edge, with what it was I could write about. So, I fully admit — I think I described the targeted killing program as necessary, precise and imperfect. All right?

    And I fully admit, and I actually give examples as you suggest where we actually made mistakes. But we moved heaven and earth to do the right thing, to make sure we targeted legitimate targets. And I actually say in there, this may be the most precise application of firepower in the history of modern conflict.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The underlying question also is, I guess, one of trust.

    There is just — you have said that, for example, when you found out that the Snowden revelations were going to happen, that it was going to uncover the information collection program that you helped set up at the NSA, that, on a personal level, you felt that there was a betrayal of trust.

    GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN: Right.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You can understand then how perhaps the country would feel betrayed that one of our liberties was being taken away by our own government.

    GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN: If I’m out there working for an agency, and if I have got the president to authorize it, and Congress to legislate it or oversee it, and the courts to perform their functions when the law requires, I think I have got the Madisonian trifecta. This is really important. The political culture has shifted underneath us, all right?

    And a lot of good Americans, not just ones wearing tinfoil on their heads, if you understand what I mean, very serious, thinking Americans are now looking at that and saying, in today’s political culture, what you just described, Hayden, is no longer consent of the governed. That is consent of the governors. You may have told them, but you didn’t tell me.

    So, now we have what is unarguably an existential question for American espionage. How will we be able to conduct espionage in the future, inside a broader political culture that demands more transparency and more public accountability from every aspect of national life?

    It is a fundamental question. And one final point. We, the spy guys, have to accommodate to the broader political culture, not the other way around.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: General Michael Hayden.

    The book is called “Playing to the Edge.”

    Thanks so much for joining us.

    GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN: Thank you.

    The post The privacy vs. security battle, reignited appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders greets audience members at a campaign rally in Kansas City, Missouri February 24, 2016.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RTX28FJB

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    GWEN IFILL: And it’s off to the races, as the 2016 campaign turns into a scattershot chase among Democrats and Republicans for votes across dozens of states.

    Political director Lisa Desjardins reports.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Donald Trump is on a roll.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: Thank you, everybody. Thank you.

    LISA DESJARDINS: After winning in Nevada last night, he’s sprinting to Super Tuesday states, like Virginia today.

    DONALD TRUMP: I think we’re really doing well. It looks like we’re in a great trend, and we have tremendous support, and we have amazing people in this country.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Out of the first four Republican contests, Trump has won three straight: New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada. But now the map and the game is changing dramatically, no more one-state-at-a-time campaigning; in the next three weeks, a blitz of states will vote. In fact, half of the states in the country will go to the polls between now and March 15.

    That’s why Trump tackled Virginia today, and John Kasich was in Mississippi and Louisiana. Meanwhile, Marco Rubio, who placed second in Nevada, plus third-place Ted Cruz and fourth-place Ben Carson, they were all in Texas, the crown jewel of Super Tuesday, with 155 convention delegates.

    For Lone Star Senator Cruz, it’s a must-win state. And he’s telling supporters the stakes next Tuesday are high.

    SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: This call from Texas to the country, we have six days to stand together and say we will not give up on our country, we will not give up on our freedoms, we will not give up on our children!

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    LISA DESJARDINS: Also, look who’s sitting next to Cruz there, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who endorsed him today.

    GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), Texas: Unlike far too many in Washington, the Ted Cruz we have seen in the Senate is the same Ted Cruz we elected.

    LISA DESJARDINS: As Republicans fan out, the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, was in South Carolina focusing on a theme, African-American voters. Democrats there vote Saturday.

    Today, she shook hands with members of a social justice group, and then spoke of racial equity at a black sorority luncheon. Clinton is also using endorsements, like one today from Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, to argue that she has momentum.

    SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), Minority Leader: I think the middle class would be better served by Hillary.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Bernie Sanders has a different strategy. He started the day in South Carolina as well. But he told reporters he’s already looking past the Palmetto State.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: The nature of the world is that we have got to go out to other states. I think I’m leaving for Oklahoma in a little while, where we think we have a shot to win. We think have a shot to win in Massachusetts, Colorado, Minnesota, and in other states.

    LISA DESJARDINS: From there, Sanders flew to Missouri, and Oklahoma, and the bigger Super Tuesday map. And so it is for both sides. As February melts away into March, the 2016 race has shifted into a cross-country scramble to stay alive.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.

    GWEN IFILL: Now we take a closer look at two key upcoming states, with Andy Shain of The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, and in Houston, Texas, Abby Livingston, the Washington bureau chief for The Texas Tribune.

    Andy Shain, what has been the pitch that the candidates have been making heading into this Democratic primary in South Carolina?

    ANDY SHAIN, The State: Well, both candidates are trying to win over the African-American vote.

    They make up a majority of the Democratic voters here in South Carolina. It’s crucial if you are going to win here in South Carolina. And at this moment, Hillary Clinton is doing a much better job. She has been winning over African-Americans as part of an effort that she’s been doing for a number of years now, as she’s built the ground work for her campaign.

    Also, of course, she was a major factor in the 2008 primary, where she didn’t beat Barack Obama here in South Carolina. But, of course, those are relationships that she was able to carry over. Senator Sanders has been working very hard to try to win over African-Americans, especially by visiting African-American churches, working with African-American lawmakers. It just hasn’t made the inroads that he was hoping.

    GWEN IFILL: In fact, today, he had a press conference. He didn’t throw in the towel, but he sounded a little resigned to the possible outcome.

    ANDY SHAIN: He has.

    His pollster told our Jamie Self yesterday that he understands that he doesn’t want folks to look at the margins, because it is going to be fairly big. Right now, Secretary Clinton is leading by 28 points in the most recent polls. It’s not looking good.

    Senator Sanders was here for the news conference today. And he said, “I’m not giving up on South Carolina,” and then he flew off to the Midwest to obviously look at some Super Tuesday states, where he is hoping to do better.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let’s talk about Super Tuesday, Abby Livingston.

    Texas is one of the jewels in the crown that everyone is waiting to see which way it goes. And in the Republican primary, at least, it has a home state favorite son, as it were, in Ted Cruz, who today got the governor’s endorsement, not a big surprise, but certainly a sign of things to come.

    ABBY LIVINGSTON, The Texas Tribune: Absolutely.

    Ted Cruz is definitely a native son and he’s a favorite among the base voters who will show up in a Republican primary. He ran a brilliant 2012 Senate campaign. He knows how to get the vote out. But the problem for Ted Cruz is, he can’t just narrowly win. And Donald Trump is coming in with a headwind of momentum. An Ted Cruz really has to run up the delegate count to upset wins that Donald Trump might get elsewhere.

    So, it’s — we’re not quite sure. Cruz will probably come out far ahead of Trump, but how much is the big question.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, so, Texas is a big state, I don’t need to tell you. How does campaigning happen there, especially hard on after these other back-to-back-to back primaries? Are the people all over the state? Is it playing out differently than we would expect?

    ABBY LIVINGSTON: It’s been very quiet.

    It’s almost as if Texas was is in the back of everyone’s minds in these political campaigns. They were just trying to survive week to week. And, suddenly, the juggernaut of delegates is upon these campaigns.

    And so what they seem to be doing, it is almost too late to book television ads, too late to send direct mail. So, instead, they are blowing into these cities. A bunch — the Republicans are in town with the Houston debate tomorrow night, so they are doing local appearances here in Houston.

    And they’re going into Dallas, which are the two largest cities and the two largest television markets. But beyond that, it’s fairly dormant.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s pop back to South Carolina and talk about the delegates. We’re talking about proportional allocation of the delegates after the primary. Does that mean that Bernie Sanders has a chance to walk away without his hands completely empty?

    ANDY SHAIN: That’s for sure.

    You know, you have a majority of the delegates here in South Carolina that will go to the winner, but you’re going to have three delegates in each of our seven congressional districts that are up for grabs.

    And if Bernie is able to capture at least 15 percent of the vote in any of the congressional districts, he will be able to walk away with at least one delegate.

    So, he won’t come away empty-handed, but he — it doesn’t look like he is going to come away with a large number of delegates here.

    GWEN IFILL: And there is a treasure trove of delegates in Texas, Abby.

    ABBY LIVINGSTON: Absolutely.

    There’s 155 on the Republican side. Fifty-five — or about 57 of those are awarded statewide. So, Ted Cruz, if he could break 50 percent, he might be able to walk away with those, but that is very unlikely.

    The rest are three for congressional districts. And so this is a big, big state, but it also is feeling smaller in recent days, as Donald Trump has been winning in multiple states.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about the Donald Trump effect, especially in Texas, coming in after this kind of momentum.

    And we saw him in the Nevada caucuses come out pretty strongly last night. Is that when people perk up and pay attention, or is there a way that things work in Texas that maybe none of these candidates have figured out yet?

    ABBY LIVINGSTON: Texas just hasn’t been that relevant in primary campaigns.

    We’re usually too late, and we’re pretty bitter about it. And so, this time, Texas is totally relevant. And it’s very much like a national campaign. There are 20 media markets. Typically, in the past, when you run a state campaign, you get on a private plane, and you bolt from place to place.

    And, here, they are just heading up the local markets in Dallas and Houston, and just trying to make their case. Donald Trump has a big rally in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday, and it’s competing with Marco Rubio in Dallas.

    And so it’s all pinned around this debate tomorrow night. And the rest are bolting onto the other states and trying to hit up the rest of the March 1 primaries.

    GWEN IFILL: As we saw in Nevada, for both the Democrats and Republicans, lots of conversation about the Latino vote. How big a factor is that in the Democratic primary especially — well, on the Republican primaries? It doesn’t matter which primary in Texas.

    ABBY LIVINGSTON: Republicans say that the Latino vote is consequential, that there are plenty of Hispanics who are business owners and religiously conservative, so there is an appeal.

    But, boy, in the Democratic primary, it’s powerful. Secretary Clinton began her political career in 1972 registering South Texas voters. And so they are certainly coming back. They are reminding all of their old friends of these relationships.

    But I was down in South Texas last week. And I started to sense some tremors that the local colleges, some of the kids were starting to feel the Bern and were loving Bernie Sanders. And so it’s much like what we are seeing play out in South Carolina. You have these voting blocs that the Clintons are trying to remind, hey, we have been there you for decades.

    And the kids are just starting to revolt some.

    GWEN IFILL: And, Andy Shain, in South Carolina, you are probably getting ready for all these ads to go off the air. But what are voters seeing and what are they saying in their mailboxes, on their radio and on television?

    ANDY SHAIN: Well, for the most part, it’s been on television.

    And what we are seeing mostly is Hillary Clinton ads at the moment. Between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, they have spent about — this is of last week — about $1.5 million here in the state. That’s about the same as Donald — what Donald Trump spent. And he was by — he was way behind Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

    So, they haven’t really saturated the market here, I think in part because of just the wide margin that Secretary Clinton has held.

    GWEN IFILL: OK.

    Well, Andy Shain of The State newspaper in Columbia, Abby Livingston of The Texas Tribune, have fun.

    ABBY LIVINGSTON: Thank you for having me.

    ANDY SHAIN: Thank you.

    GWEN IFILL: And be sure to tune in tomorrow night for Judy Woodruff’s pre-primary report from South Carolina.

    The post Candidates scramble for support before Super Tuesday appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Air Force Capt. Margaret Ingerslew at the weapons controls of a B-52H bomber. This giant aircraft carries tons of munitions and fuel, but space for the crew is quite cramped. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

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    BY DAN SAGALYN

    MINOT, N.D. — During the Cold War, the United States developed a vast nuclear arsenal with weapons on aircraft, submarines and land-based missiles. These three ways of delivering nuclear weapons became known as the triad, with the Soviet Union was the primary target. The strategy was to deter an attack on the United States by having enough nuclear weapons that could survive a strike and retaliate.

    READ MORE: See inside the underground bunker that could launch a nuclear war

    Over the next three decades, the Pentagon plans to spend $1 trillion billion to rebuild the triad. Military commanders and civilian experts say nuclear weapons are used every day to deter a nuclear attack against the U.S. and that the current stockpile needs to be replaced because they are old. An example: the B-52H bombers began flying in the late 1950s early 1960s and are older than the crews that fly them.

    But critics say the Defense Department is duplicating what it had during the cold war. Two leading critics, former defense secretary William Perry and former top nuclear commander Gen. James Cartwright (Ret.), say one leg of the triad — land-based nuclear tipped missiles — should be phased out.


    Read the full transcript below:

    GWEN IFILL: But, first, for over a half-a-century, the United States has maintained a large and diverse nuclear arsenal to deter other countries from even contemplating a nuclear strike against America.

    Now, as the Pentagon embarks on a wide-ranging, and hugely expensive, plan to modernize what’s known as the triad, bombers, submarines and missiles, there are calls to rethink whether all three are needed.

    Special correspondent Jamie McIntyre has our report, produced in partnership with the Pulitzer center on Crisis Reporting.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: Behind this massive eight-ton door 60 feet below the frozen fields of North Dakota, a 27-year-old first lieutenant heads a two-person team with a singular mission.

    The two junior Air Force officers are missileers entrusted with executing the most consequential of presidential orders. At almost the same time, at nearby Minot Air Force Base, a B-52 Stratofortress that’s been flying for more than half-a-century is drenched with deicing fluid. Its aging jet engines roar to life with the help of eight explosive charges, a method developed during the Cold War to give the bomber a quick kick-start in a crisis.

    All the while, hundreds of feet beneath the Pacific Ocean, sailors aboard a U.S. ballistic missile submarine methodically perform their weekly doomsday drill, three ways to do the same thing, end the world as we know it, by launching nuclear weapons.

    MAN: Weapons away.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: Missiles, bombers, subs, America’s nuclear triad, a three-pronged approach to deterrence that dates back to the 1960s, when the former Soviet Union was the enemy, MAD, mutual assured destruction, the strategy, and thermonuclear war seemed a real possibility.

    ADM. CECIL HANEY, U.S. Strategic Commander: The real key here, as you look at the combination of the triad, is making the adversary’s problem very complex, very costly, so that restraint is a better option.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: U.S. Strategic Commander Cecil Haney is the four-star admiral in charge of America’s nuclear arsenal. He says the triad endures because it’s still the surest way to guarantee that, even if hit with a first strike, plenty of U.S. nuclear weapons would survive, enough to allow Haney to present the president a full range of options.

    It’s a strategy based on redundancy, having backups for backups. But to critics, maintaining and rebuilding all three legs of the triad in the 21st century amounts to expensive overkill, among those critics, former Defense Secretary William Perry.

    WILLIAM PERRY, Former Defense Secretary: Well, you can have belts and suspenders, and then belts and suspenders for the belts and the and suspenders. And that is what we are getting into here.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: Perry says the current strategy is based on the folly of winning a nuclear conflict, the kind of Cold War thinking caricatured in the classic movie “Dr. Strangelove.”

    GEORGE C. SCOTT: Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than 10 to 20 million killed, tops, depending on the breaks.

    WILLIAM PERRY: The whole sort of “Dr. Strangelove” rationale that went with how you use nuclear weapons, which was endemic to the Cold War, I don’t think is in place today. If we regard nuclear weapons, the role of nuclear weapons today, as preventing the use of nuclear the weapons against us, then all of that goes away.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: The United States is at the point where, to maintain the safety and reliability of its aging nuclear arsenal, largely designed in the 1950s and ’60s, almost everything needs an upgrade. There are plans for new submarines and stealth bombers, along with upgraded bombs and missiles to go with them.

    Add in the possibility of next generation land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, ICBMs, and the price tag comes to an eye-popping $1 trillion over 30 years. Despite the substantial cost, trimming the triad is not an issue that’s gotten any serious examination on the presidential campaign trail.

    It did come up once in last December’s GOP debate.

    QUESTION: Of the three legs of the triad, though, do you have a priority? I want to go to Senator Rubio after that and ask him.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: I think — I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: If Donald Trump had an understanding of the triad, he gave no hint, and it fell to Marco Rubio to fill in the gap.

    SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Republican Presidential Candidate: The triad is our ability of the United States to conduct nuclear attacks using airplanes, using missiles launched from silos or from the ground, and also from our nuclear subs.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: Each leg of the triad has its advantages. Submarines are stealthy, virtually undetectable, and therefore nearly invulnerable.

    Bombers are slow enough to be recalled at the last minute. It’s the third leg, the intercontinental ballistic missiles, on hair-trigger alert, that are under the microscope.

    We’re flying over the missile field that essentially surrounds Minot Air Force Base, 150 ICBMs buried in silos underground spread across 8,500 square miles of North Dakota.

    It’s just one of three missile fields that cover five states, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, and North Dakota, 450 ICBMs altogether. Were it not for the security fence, this silo would be barely visible in the snow. But the locals know where it is, and so do America’s enemies.

    Having so many missiles in fixed, known locations makes them a tempting target if an adversary were to contemplate a first strike, which in turn, critics argue, creates pressure to launch right away, at the first sign of attack.

    Among those critics, no less than former U.S. Strategic Commander General James Cartwright.

    GEN. JAMES CARTWRIGHT (RET.), Former U.S. Strategic Commander: You have automatically forced the president, in our case, to make a decision to use his weapons or lose them. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. Use or lose doesn’t contribute to deterrence.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: Cartwright is now chair of studies at Global Zero, a disarmament advocacy organization. He thinks the day of the ICBM may have come and gone.

    GEN. JAMES CARTWRIGHT: I believe that the current ICBM structure, the way it’s based and the way it operates, is probably not something that we need to carry to the future.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: Jim Miller was undersecretary of defense for policy during the Obama administration, and led the Pentagon’s review of nuclear weapons policy. He argues that land-based ICBMs are a hedge against unforeseen complications.

    JAMES MILLER, Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy: Without a substantial number of ICBMs in the United States, if we had some problem, a technical problem, or a vulnerability because of any submarine warfare of potential adversary with our submarines, we’d be left with an adversary having to undertake an attack involving only a handful of aim points in order to take out a deterrent.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: At Minot Air Force Base, Colonel Kelvin Townsend, vice commander of the 91st Missile Wing, stressed that neither subs, which have to be contacted at sea, nor bombers, which have to be put on alert and fly to their launch points, can match land-based missiles for speed of response.

    COL. KELVIN TOWNSEND, Vice Commander, 91st Missile Wing: Anywhere on the planet, we can be within moment’s notice. And within roughly 30-plus minutes, we can be there.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: But that quick reaction time makes the ICBM potentially the most destabilizing leg of the triad, argues former Defense Secretary William Perry:

    WILLIAM PERRY: If you’re going to blow up the whole world, what is the hurry? Why do you mind waiting another 20 minutes to do that? I don’t see either the common sense or even the strategic argument for doing that.

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: And Perry says no one has found any reliable way to detect or defeat submarines at sea. Bombers and submarines can do the job, he argues, with a high degree of confidence.

    At the Air and Space Museum in Washington, Joe Cirincione gazes at a Minuteman-III ICBM on display. He’s president of the Ploughshares Fund, which advocates deep cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. He says supporters of keeping all three legs of the triad have lost touch with the destructive power of the weapons.

    JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, Ploughshares Fund: One nuclear weapon on one city would be a disaster that we haven’t seen since World War II. Ten nuclear weapons on 10 cities would be catastrophe beyond historical experience. And hundreds of weapons on hundreds of cities could end human history altogether. Why do you need 5,000?

    JAMIE MCINTYRE: For now, the debate over the triad is purely academic. The latest Pentagon budget funds plans to begin rebuilding all three legs, and no one in Congress is mounting any serious opposition.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Jamie McIntyre.

    GWEN IFILL: There’s a lot more online about rebuilding America’s triad. You can see excerpts of key interviews and view a photo essay, all that at PBS.org/NewsHour.

    The post As Pentagon overhauls nuclear triad, critics advise caution appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about a Supreme Court nominee from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington February 24, 2016. A day after Senate Republicans ruled out taking action on any Supreme Court nominee he puts forward, President Barack Obama on Wednesday vowed to move ahead with a selection who will possess an "independent mind" and grasp how laws impact people's lives.   REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTX28ENI

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Separation of powers is at the heart of American democracy, and it seems the powerful have never been more separate.

    Yesterday, Republicans said they will block any nominee the president sends for the Supreme Court. They have also rejected outright his plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center and refused earlier this year to grant even pro forma consideration to his budget blueprint.

    Against this backdrop of resistance, the rise of Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

    So, how different, how unprecedented, how permanent is this growing split?

    For that, we turn to two authors of books about the political turning point at hand. E.J. Dionne is a liberal columnist for The Washington Post, and the author of “Why the Right Went Wrong.” And conservative Matt Lewis is a senior contributor for The Daily Caller and author of “Too Dumb to Fail.”

    Gentlemen, thank you both for joining us.

    Matt Lewis, what is happening, if anything, to the Republican party?

    MATT K. LEWIS, Author, “Too Dumb to Fail”: Well, I think, with the rise of Donald Trump, clearly, you have a populist moment.

    I really do worry that we’re going to — if Donald Trump wins the nomination, he will redefine what it means to be a conservative, what it means to be a Republican. And no longer will it be a party about ideas, about free markets, about defending the unborn.

    And it instead will become a white, identity politics, angry, protectionist, populist party. And I think that that is a radically different direction and something that, fingers crossed, will not happen.

    GWEN IFILL: But, E.J., given what we have seen unfold here in Washington just in the past few days, it seems like it’s about more than Donald Trump.

    E.J. DIONNE, Author, “Why the Right Went Wrong”: Oh, absolutely.

    I think this is something that has been happening to conservatism over 50 years. I mean, the first sentence in my book is, the history of contemporary American conservatism is a story of disappointment and betrayal.

    And I think Republican politicians have made a series promises to their base that they couldn’t possibly keep, about the rise — about shrinking government, about rolling back cultural change, changing the ethnic makeup of the country.

    And the base has gotten angrier and angrier. And I think that has led to Donald Trump. And I think the leadership in Congress has had to take and has chosen to take a harder and harder line against a Democratic president.

    I mean, you can say, of course, Democrats have opposed presidential nominees for the Supreme Court in the past, but I think what you have seen over the last few weeks is really unprecedented.

    GWEN IFILL: Well…

    E.J. DIONNE: We won’t even hold a hearing on your nominee.

    And there was a story in The Des Moines Register today that Chuck Grassley wouldn’t even meet with the president to talk about a nominee. At least that’s where it was. That really goes beyond.

    (CROSSTALK)

    GWEN IFILL: Let me ask Matt Lewis about that.

    Is this about conservatism changing shape? Is it about Republicanism changing shape? Or is E.J. right? The Democrats have always done the same thing, or would if they could.

    MATT K. LEWIS: Yes, look, I think there’s really two different things happening here.

    I think the Donald Trump phenomenon is unique. And I think that, really, Trump is tapping into a — more of a — not a Republican sort of incremental change, but a populist cyclical movement, from — you know, from Andrew Jackson, to William Jennings Bryan, to George Wallace, to Pat Buchanan, to Ross Perot, and now to Donald Trump.

    I think that Trump is actually appealing to a lot of people who aren’t necessarily the Republican base. In some cases, they are liberal or moderate-leaning Republicans, or, in some cases, what — I guess what we used to call Reagan Democrats.

    I think that’s different from the phenomenon that we are seeing with this gridlock, which I think is a bipartisan problem, but I think is much more in keeping with the Ted Cruz-ization of the Republican Party.

    (CROSSTALK)

    MATT K. LEWIS: If Ted Cruz were the front-runner today…

    GWEN IFILL: Go ahead, E.J.

    MATT K. LEWIS: If Ted Cruz were the front-runner today, I think we could make sort of more of a straight line between the obstructionism and the presidential race.

    GWEN IFILL: E.J.?

    E.J. DIONNE: Yes, I agree with Matt that there is populism here, but I think it is much more a part of the Republican Party and something Republicans have courted.

    One of the points I make in the book — and it is not just a liberal like me saying this — it’s people like Ross Douthat, the conservative columnist for The New York Times, or Reihan Salam, a conservative intellectual — it’s that the Republican Party has relied on white working-class votes election after election, and has not delivered anything to those voters.

    And I think those voters in — very much in the Republican Party are sick of being ignored. And so you have this odd phenomenon of a billionaire like Donald Trump leading a class war inside the Republican Party.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let me try this.

    Matt, is it possible that, on resisting the Guantanamo Bay plan, on resisting the president’s insistence on sending a nominee to the court, on resisting his budget, that perhaps that’s what Senate Republicans are doing, delivering what they believe they are owed — or they owe to their constituencies?

    MATT K. LEWIS: Well, now, look, I guess I should begin by saying, you know, obviously, you can tell by the book “Too Dumb to Fail” that I’m more than comfortable criticizing Republicans and conservatives and the dumbing down of conservatism. And I certainly think that the shutting down of government was a stupid move that could never — it was never going to defund Obamacare.

    And so — but, having said that, I am a conservative. And I think that, although I oppose Republican stupid moves, I completely understand, for example, why they would want to wait and see if there is a new president before changing the court, for example, one of the examples of obstructionism.

    So it is in the eye of the beholder. And, really, frankly, I think they are all hypocrites, whether it is Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama and Joe Biden, or today Mitch McConnell and the Republicans. So, look, I think that one man’s obstructionism is another man’s balance of power, separation of power, checks and balances.

    So, I think that, if you are a Republican, the smart move is to try to obstruct right now when it comes to changing the face of the court for a generation.

    GWEN IFILL: So, OK, E.J., if that’s true, if that is the smart move for Republicans right now, what should the Democrats be doing? Does the president just sit back and take it, or is there a way to push back that actually cuts through, or does he just stay out of the fight?

    E.J. DIONNE: Again, I just want to emphasize that, while I agree, obviously, that both parties can play politics and don’t want a court to move far in one direction or the other, I really think that what they are doing now goes beyond what we saw in the past.

    And it is a response to conservative judicial activism that gave us Citizens United and weakened the Voting Rights Act. And I think, because they have gone this far, this gives a real opening to Democrats, because there are a lot of Republicans running for reelection to the Senate from Democratic states or purple states, when look at states like Illinois, where Senator Kirk has already said, oh, gee, I don’t want to do this, or you look at Pennsylvania or you look at Wisconsin.

    I think the Democrats have ways of really turning this into an issue. And I think the more the president reaches out to Republicans and said, look, I would love to talk to you about whether we can find a nominee who is a middle-of-the-roader, and the Republicans refuse even to engage in those conversations, I think that is going to put the Republicans in a very difficult spot.

    GWEN IFILL: Final thought, Matt Lewis, not your job, but what should the Democrats do?

    MATT K. LEWIS: Oh, what should the Democrats do?

    I would nominate somebody, probably a minority who is incredibly sympathetic, who has a great biography, a great story to tell. I would let the Republicans refuse to hold hearings, refuse to meet with this sympathetic nominee. Then I would demagogue the heck out of it.

    I would win elections and I would drive the country farther apart, as I think Barack Obama will probably take my advice in this case.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, there is a nice cheerful outcome of driving the country further apart.

    Matt Lewis, the author of “Too Dumb to Fail,” E.J. Dionne, the author of “Why the Right Went Wrong,” thank you both.

    E.J. DIONNE: Thank you so much.

    MATT K. LEWIS: Thank you.

    The post How did today’s government become so divided? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GWEN IFILL: Now to another reignited debate, this one about the role and size of the country’s big banks, Wall Street, and accountability.

    It’s been playing out periodically in the presidential campaign, and is once again a subject of attention and debate in the world of finance.

    Tonight, we start a series of occasional conversations on the subject.

    Jeffrey Brown has our first.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Last week came a strong argument that — quote — “The biggest banks continue to pose a significant, ongoing risk to our economy.”

    And it came from an unusual source.

    Neel Kashkari is a former investment banker. He started his career at Goldman Sachs, then joined the Bush Treasury Department in 2006, later serving as a key player in the government’s response to the financial crisis as administrator of the TARP program, which helped bail out the big banks.

    In 2014, he ran for governor of California as a Republican, losing to incumbent Jerry Brown. He’s now president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and joins us now.

    And welcome to you.

    So, still too big to fail, you’re saying. This is in spite of Dodd-Frank, in spite of all we have seen. You are suggesting a crisis could still happen and big banks would still need bailing out?

    NEEL KASHKARI, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis: Yes. Unfortunately, that’s true.

    Dodd-Frank has made a lot of progress. The banks are stronger. They have more capital, so they can withstand bad things happening. But if something — if a big shock were to hit the U.S. economy, I’m afraid that the taxpayers would likely still have to step in and bail out the banks.

    In my view, based on my experience during the crisis, we have not yet solved the too-big-to-fail problem. And we do need to.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And so things like the stress test, you have already had some people push back at your critique, stress test and others things. You’re just — you don’t think those are strong enough; you don’t trust them?

    NEEL KASHKARI: Well, here’s the thing.

    The crisis in 2008 was so devastating for the U.S. economy, millions of jobs were lost, tens of trillions of dollars of wealth was destroyed by that terrible crisis. I think we all agree that we never want to have that happen again.

    But we need to be able to allow banks to run into trouble without bringing down the whole U.S. economy. If you remember the tech bubble in the 1990s, it was a big boom and then it crashed. That was painful for Silicon Valley, but it didn’t risk the whole U.S. economy.

    We need to make sure our financial system is that strong, so that it can withstand the shock without hurting the rest of us.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Just to be clear, how serious or how dire is the situation? Is the financial system at risk now? Is that what you are suggesting?

    NEEL KASHKARI: No, I think the financial system is strong right now. But the key is, now is the time, when it’s strong, for us to make these big transformational changes, so that 10 years from now or 20 or 30 years from now, we don’t have another crisis.

    You know, as a society, we tend to repeat the same mistakes. A lot of mistakes that led to the Great Depression, we repeated in 2000 — in the 2000s, leading to the great crash. And so we need to make sure that we make the changes now, so that 20 or 30 years from now, we’re not back in the same situation.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, in the options that you laid out in a speech last week, option number one was break — was the straightforward break up the big banks.

    So, how would you do that? How do you decide what is big? And why, for example, would 10 moderate-sized banks be less dangerous than five big ones?

    NEEL KASHKARI: Sure.

    Well, what we’re doing in Minneapolis is, we’re bringing experts together from around the country who have different proposals for how to solve too big to fail. So, we haven’t picked which one we think is best yet. We want to bring the experts in, analyze their proposals, and come out with our recommendations at the end of the year.

    But look at the — in the 1980s, roughly 1,000 Savings & Loans failed in the S&L crisis. Again, that was devastating for those communities and for those banks, but it didn’t risk an entire nationwide economic collapse. So, there is a precedent of having smaller banks, they might make similar mistakes without bringing down the whole economy.

    We want to analyze these objectively and figure out what’s the right solution and how do we go forward.

    JEFFREY BROWN: As you know, a number of bankers in the past and even after you gave your talk, they have said that bigger is in some ways better, right, that they can offer more services, that if U.S. banks were not allowed to be so big, international banks, China and elsewhere, would swoop in and take the business.

    NEEL KASHKARI: Well, you know, if other countries want to take huge risks with their financial systems, we can’t stop them. My view is, we should do what’s right for the United States, come up with one set of rules for any bank that wants to do business here, and then enforce those rules evenly.

    And, hopefully, we can lead the rest of the world to follow our path, follow our example. We need to address this. It’s not only American banks that are too big to fail. As you indicated, there are some banks outside the U.S. too. But it’s time for us to show leadership on this issue.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I read your speech. You did not suggest or propose bringing back Glass-Steagall. I wonder why not. Why not go farther to once again separate commercial banking from investment banking?

    NEEL KASHKARI: You know, I don’t have a strong opposition to bringing back Glass-Steagall.

    I just know, based on the crisis that we just went through, it really wasn’t the combination of investment banking and commercial banking that triggered that crisis. It was the fact that a lot of banks made a lot of bad loans. It was plain vanilla lending that went off course.

    And so we need to make sure our banking system and non-banks, our insurance companies, et cetera, that they are all safe and secure and that they can’t risk bringing down the whole U.S. economy.

    As you know, in 2008, AIG, one of the largest insurance companies, that became a systemic risk that almost brought us down, and it required a taxpayer bailout. I think we all agree we never want to do that again.

    So, I’m proposing, let’s take action now to make sure we’re never in that situation.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And let me just ask you, when you made this speech and got a lot of attention last week, a lot of the focus was on the messenger, an unlikely messenger, a lot of people thought, a former banker now telling us the banks are too big, a former regulator telling us that essentially regulators are not able, even now, to act in a way that still might hurt the economy, still might have to bail out the banks.

    A reformed — a reform person, what — how do you describe yourself? How are we to see this?

    NEEL KASHKARI: Well, I am an experienced person.

    I was a strong free market ideologue going into Washington. Then we all lived through the terrible economic crisis. And I think I learned humility about markets can make mistakes. Regulators are not omniscient.

    I asked people, I said, did you predict that the price of oil would drop from $150 to $30? I didn’t see it. There are a lot of things that can happen in the world economy that we’re not going to be able to predict. So, we need to make sure that our financial system is robust, so that if those things happen, the system can be strong and not require taxpayer bailouts, and not cause devastation to the American people.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Neel Kashkari, thank you so much.

    NEEL KASHKARI: Thanks for having me.

    The post Former Goldman exec wants to downsize big banks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    New York Times reporters Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad recently filed a piece that could have been called, with apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “Chronicle of a Death Foretold.” They told the story of a Syrian police officer — they call him by his nickname “Abu al-Majd” to protect his family still in Damascus — whom they had met in 2014 on a reporting trip to the ancient city of Palmyra. A year later ISIS was on the march, and Abu al-Majd was pressed into service to help defend the city.

    Barnard and Saad stayed in touch with him via text message, until one day he went silent. The reporters wanted to know more, and Barnard told the NewsHour’s William Brangham what they found in reporting his fate.

    WATCH MORE: Why are Syrian attacks targeting hospitals and schools?

    The post How two New York Times reporters discovered the gruesome fate of a Syrian police officer appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Barack Obama's choice to serve as Education Secretary says he rose to his current position because New York City public school teachers "literally saved my life." Photo by Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images

    John B. King Jr. says he rose to his current position because of two New York City public school teachers, “Mr. Osterweil” and “Miss D.” Photo by Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s choice to serve as Education Secretary says he rose to his current position because New York City public school teachers “literally saved my life.”

    At his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday, John B. King Jr., told the story of his mother’s death when he was eight and his father’s passing four years later. Both were educators.

    He cited two of his New York teachers — “Mr. Osterweil” and “Miss D” — for his success. “If not for them, I could not have survived that turbulent period, and I certainly wouldn’t be sitting before you today,” King said.

    King, who began his career in education teaching high school social studies, joined the department in January 2015. He oversaw federal education programs for preschool through 12th grade before being tapped by Obama late last year to succeed longtime secretary Arne Duncan, who stepped down in December. King is currently serving as acting secretary.

    The committee is considering King’s nomination as lawmakers assess how the government implements a new law covering elementary and secondary education. The legislation passed with strong bipartisan support last year, and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has promised to give King “a prompt and fair” hearing.

    “We need an education secretary who is confirmed and accountable to Congress while we’re implementing a law that may govern elementary and secondary education for some time,” Alexander, who served as education secretary under former President George H.W. Bush, said at the hearing.

    Before coming to Washington, King served as commissioner of education for the state of New York, where he pushed an ambitious improvement agenda for the state’s public schools. During his 3 1/2 years as commissioner, King became a lightning rod for criticism over linking student test scores to teacher evaluations and a rushed implementation of the Common Core academic standards for grades K-12. The state’s largest teachers’ union said upon his departure that it had “disagreed sharply and publicly with the commissioner on many issues.”

    The bipartisan education law is a makeover of the widely criticized No Child Left Behind Act, which ushered in a new era of testing and accountability. Under the landmark 2002 law, Washington played a significant role in how schools and teachers were judged and what kinds of sanctions to prescribe for underperformers.

    Those days will be gone under the new law. The measure substantially limits the federal government’s influence, barring the Education Department from telling states and local districts how to assess the performance of schools and teachers. Instead, states and districts must come up with their own goals for schools, design their own measures of achievement and progress, and decide how to turn around struggling schools.

    King said the focus of decision-making is “rightly shifting” to states and away from the federal government. “As a former teacher, principal, and state commissioner, I know from personal experience that the best ideas come from classrooms, not conference rooms,” King said.

    At the hearing, senators quizzed him on the department’s implementation of the new law, college campus sexual assault and student loans, among other issues.

    The Obama administration has taken steps to push colleges to better tackle the problem of sexual assault, including releasing the names of colleges and universities in 2014 that were facing Title IX investigations for their handling of such cases. King said the issue continues to be a priority.

    On student loans, critics have complained the government didn’t move swiftly enough to take action against for-profit schools like Corinthian Colleges, which filed for bankruptcy protection last year amid fraud allegations, closing schools and leaving thousands of students with hefty student debt and frustrating their efforts to earn degrees. The Education Department said earlier this month it will create a new student aid enforcement unit to respond more quickly to allegations of illegal actions.

    “There’s a lot of work to do to protect our students and borrowers, and we intend to do that,” King said in response to questions from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on the issue.

    Senate Republicans have stalled many of Obama’s nominees in recent months over various issues. But Alexander has been pressing for the White House to nominate a secretary since Obama signed the new education law. He said he doesn’t think it is appropriate to go a whole year without a secretary firmly in place and at the time pledged to “work to have that person immediately confirmed.”

    Associated Press writer Jennifer C. Kerr contributed to this report.

    The post Obama’s pick for Education says teachers saved his life appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver a statement at 5:35 p.m. EST Thursday from the State Department. Watch that live above.

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama directed his national security team Thursday to press the U.S.-led international campaign to destroy the Islamic State group “on all fronts.” He also expressed hope that a proposed cease-fire in Syria will lead to a political settlement to end the civil war and allow a more intense focus on IS.

    Obama commented after a rare meeting at the State Department with some of his top national security advisers, who updated him on the parallel efforts to counter the Islamic State group and bring peace to Syria after years of civil strife.

    “I have directed my team to continue accelerating this campaign on all fronts,” Obama said, flanked by Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other top advisers.

    Obama said like-minded nations are stepping up and offering more assistance to defeat the Islamic State group. Since last summer militants haven’t launched a single successful operation in Syria or Iraq, where it controls large amounts of territory, he said.

    On Syria, Obama said he doesn’t expect a cease-fire that’s set to take effect on Saturday to immediately end hostilities after years of bloodshed between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels who want to end his reign.

    Announced just this week, the cease-fire is a “test” of whether the parties are committed to broader negotiations over a political transition, a new constitution and holding free elections, Obama said. He said Syria’s future cannot include Assad as president, which is a chief point of contention with Russia and Iran, who support the Syrian leader.

    “We are certain that there will continue to be fighting,” Obama said, noting that IS, the Nusra Front and other groups aren’t part of the negotiations.

    Obama put the onus on Russia and its allies — including the Assad government — to live up to their commitments under the agreement. The elusive cease-fire deal was reached only after a monthslong Russian air campaign that the U.S. says strengthened Assad’s hand and allowed his forces to retake territory, altering the balance of power in the Syrian civil war.

    “The world will be watching,” Obama said.

    Associated Press writers Darlene Superville and Josh Lederman contributed to this report.

    The post Obama says U.S. to pursue campaign against IS ‘on all fronts’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man walks his dog past a mural depicting factory workers in the historic Pullman neighborhood in Chicago November 20, 2014. U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce the designation of the Pullman neighborhood as a national park on February 19, according to park advocates. The neighborhood's brick homes and ornate public buildings were built in the 1800s by industrialist George Pullman as a blue-collar utopia to house workers from his sleeper car factory. Picture taken November 20, 2014.    REUTERS/Andrew Nelles (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT POLITICS) - RTR4P1OF

    A man walks his dog past a mural depicting factory workers in the historic Pullman neighborhood in Chicago. Photo by Andrew Nelles/Reuters

    Editor’s Note: When Robert Reich wrote “The Revolt of the Anxious Class,” it was clear that he had hit a nerve.

    Despite our economic recovery, despite the unemployment rate inching down to 4.9 percent, Americans are still worried about the state of the economy. As President Obama acknowledged in his State of the Union, “…the reason that a lot of Americans feel anxious is that the economy has been changing in profound ways.” Wages are stagnant, inequality is widening, and the freelance economy is growing.

    Economics correspondent Paul Solman sat down with the economist, author and former Secretary of Labor to discuss middle-class anxiety and the current state of the economy. For more on the topic, tune in to tonight’s Making Sen$e report, which airs every Thursday on the PBS NewsHour.

    — Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor


    Paul Solman: What do you mean by “The Revolt of the Anxious Class”?

    Robert Reich: You’ve got a large number of people in America, in the middle class, who are working harder than ever, but they’re angry and frustrated because they’re not getting ahead. Their wages are either stagnating or actually dropping. Their jobs are less secure. In the on-demand economy, you don’t know what you’re going to earn next week or the week after.

    Paul Solman: And you don’t have benefits.

    Robert Reich: You don’t have benefits. Your bills have to be paid, and you are in a situation where you have to be regimented and have to predict exactly what you’re going to earn. But two-thirds of Americans don’t know what they’re going to be earning a year from now. Two-thirds are living paycheck to paycheck.

    And this anger is growing. It’s been growing for years. I saw it start in the 1990s when I was Secretary of Labor. You get recoveries, and then you get recessions. But behind the business cycle, there is growing “structural” anger and frustration. We see it playing out politically in both parties.

    In the Republican Party, the embodiment of that anger and frustration is Donald Trump. He is channeling it toward a lot of hatefulness, anger and scapegoating toward Mexicans, Muslims, the poor and others. In the Democratic Party, the embodiment of that anger is Bernie Sanders. He is not scapegoating. He is talking about the fact we need revolution, that we need a “political revolution,” he calls it. But that populist anger is a volatile mixture. Historically, in this country and in other countries, it can be used for great good, but it also can be very dangerous.

    Paul Solman: And sometimes the same politician embodies both. I think of Huey Long for example.

    Robert Reich: Huey Long would be a good example. In the 1930s, you also had the radio personality father Charles Coughlin, who was a Nazi sympathizer and very anti-Semitic. Charles Coughlin and Huey Long were the angry populists of the 1930s. Franklin Roosevelt basically kept a lid on all that. He very quietly said to the business community, “Look, you think I’m dangerous? These people are revolutionaries on the right and left. Let them loose, and we’re — you’re — going to be sorry.”

    Well, the modern equivalent would be to say to a lot of the CEOs and those on Wall Street, “Why didn’t you learn your lesson? Why have you allowed inequality to get so extreme in this country? Why have you simply sat back and really not said anything about the necessity of fundamentally reforming capitalism so it works for everybody, instead of just a very narrow sliver? Because ultimately, you are going to suffer as the economy and society suffer if we don’t fundamentally reform the system.”

    Paul Solman: So why isn’t there somebody who says that to very rich people? And why aren’t the very rich responsive?

    Robert Reich: It may be because the very wealthy in this country have accepted a view — primarily a Republican view. It came from former Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, who in the early 1970s wrote a famous memo. He said to the business community, “Look, your biggest threat comes from government; it comes from regulation and taxation, and you’ve got to mobilize and organize and be here in Washington.”

    That was the beginning of the business community not being an agent of reform, but of basically protecting the business community from the public, from health, safety and environmental regulations and everything else. And that lobbyist infrastructure in Washington basically has a chokehold interest on the business community, and the business community doesn’t know how to operate independently. It operates through its lobbyists and through its Washington representatives. They in turn have an interest in what? In keeping business. They want the business community to continue to do what the business community has done.

    Paul Solman: So the business community or the rich in some sense are buffered by their lobbyists, and the lobbyists are running the show more than they are?

    Robert Reich: I was in three different administrations, one of them a Republican administration, and I saw the growth of this lobbying industry, of intermediaries. It’s not just lobbyists. It’s all of the people who testify before congressional committees representing businesses and all of the people who are doing public relations work.

    Paul Solman: And think tanks.

    Robert Reich: And all of the think tanks in Washington that are financed by the very wealthy, by businesses. They have an interest in keeping the game going as it’s going with a lot of polarization and widening inequality that keeps this kind of antagonism between the wealthy and business on one hand and average Americans on the other thriving. I’ve seen instances where business lobbyists and other intermediaries in Washington say, “No, we don’t want to compromise. No, let’s not compromise on that. Let’s keep the fight going.”

    Paul Solman: So what do you say to them?

    Robert Reich: I say, “You would do better with a smaller stake of an economy that is growing faster and because more people are doing better, than you’re doing now with a big, big share of an economy that is barely growing at all. You will also do better in a society that is not so polarized.”

    Paul Solman: Do you try to scare them with a specter of unrest for example?

    Robert Reich: You know, I haven’t, because in my experience, fear is really not as much of a motivator when you’re talking about big corporations, Wall Street and the wealthy as an enlightened self-interest. If you don’t have a large and growing middle class, you don’t have enough aggregate demand to keep the economy going at full tilt. That’s one reason why this recovery that some believed is coming to an end, has been so anemic relative to other recoveries.

    Paul Solman: But I can imagine if I was rich, I would think, “I’ll sell to people abroad. I’ll sell to other rich people like myself. Do I really need to worry about the American middle class?”

    Robert Reich: The American middle class has been the engine of the world economy and certainly American corporations. Europe is now in the dumps. China is slowing dramatically. Japan has been on its back for years. If you don’t have American consumers driving your sales, then who do you have?

    I was visited a couple of months ago by a CEO of a big, high-tech company, who told me he was looking ahead 10 to 20 years and he was worried. “Why?” I asked.

    “Because of widening inequality,” he said.

    “Explain to me exactly,” I said.

    “Because we [in our company] we are going to be replacing so many jobs. Our technology is going to be taking away so many good jobs. I have to ask who my customers are going to be. Who can afford what we are producing?” he said.

    Now I call that enlightened self-interest. If more CEOs thought like him or even thought like Henry Ford did in the first decades of the 20th century when he lifted the wages of his own workers, hoping that other employers would do the same so many people could afford model T Fords, we would be in a better place.

    The post Does business have an incentive to address inequality? Absolutely appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has become an issue in the presidential campaign. Photo by Rebecca Cook/Reuters

    The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has become an issue in the presidential campaign. Photo by Rebecca Cook/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is holding up bipartisan legislation to address the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where lead-contaminated pipes have resulted in an ongoing public health emergency.

    Senators reached a tentative deal Wednesday for a $220 million package to fix and replace the city’s lead-contaminated pipes, make other infrastructure improvements and bolster lead-prevention programs nationwide.

    Cruz, of Texas, and at least one other GOP senator objected to a quick vote on the deal, delaying Senate consideration of the bill until at least next week. Cruz was campaigning Thursday ahead of a scheduled Republican debate in Houston, but senators are able to block bills remotely under Senate rules.

    “There are a few holds” on the bill, Kristina Baum, a spokeswoman for Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said Thursday. Inhofe chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and was a main architect of the Flint deal.

    Baum declined to identify senators who were objecting to the bill, but said Inhofe and other senators were “genuinely trying to work through their concerns.”

    Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee, said she was optimistic lawmakers could resolve the dispute and take up both the Flint bill and a larger energy package it is tied to next week.

    Cruz spokesman Phil Novack said staffers were “simply reviewing the bill right now,” noting that the Flint proposal only emerged on Wednesday.

    Novack declined to specify the nature of Cruz’s concern, but many Republican senators have said it’s too early to provide funds for Flint without specific plans from state and local officials. Some Republicans also question whether Flint is analogous to natural disasters such floods or hurricanes, since the crisis was the result of a political decision.

    Flint’s drinking water became tainted when the city switched from the Detroit water system and began drawing from the Flint River in 2014 to save money. The impoverished city was under state control at the time.

    Regulators failed to ensure the water was treated properly and lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply.

    Elevated levels of lead have been found in some children’s blood. Lead contamination has been linked to learning disabilities and other problems.

    The crisis in Flint has become an issue in the presidential campaign. Campaigning in Flint on Thursday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said he hopes people will look at the city’s water crisis and say, “Never again.”

    Hillary Clinton said there are a “lot of Flints” and that she wants to help them. Flint is a majority black city, and Clinton questioned whether a similar crisis would have occurred in a “white, affluent suburb of Detroit.”

    The legislative impasse over Flint has blocked a bipartisan energy bill that had been moving forward in the Senate. Under the tentative agreement, the Senate would vote on the energy bill before taking up the Flint legislation as a separate bill.

    Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., said the plan provides $100 million for subsidized loans and grants to any state that declares an emergency due to a public health threat from lead or other contaminants in its public drinking water supply.

    “Certainly Flint is an extreme example right now, but there are problems all over the country” with lead in aging pipes, Peters said. “We’ve got a widespread national problem and there should be resources to help every state in the union.”

    Peters and other supporters said the deal would use federal credit subsidies to provide incentives for up to $700 million in loan guarantees and other financing for water infrastructure projects nationwide.

    The bill would be paid for by redirecting up to $250 million from an Energy Department loan program approved in the 2009 economic stimulus law.

    Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest environmental organization, said “Ted Cruz only cares about one thing — and that’s Ted Cruz. It’s clear that he’ll do anything to promote his own political aspirations without any regard for what’s right for Flint and communities like Flint across the country.”

    The post Cruz blocks vote on bill to resolve Flint water crisis appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is applauded after a town hall meeting for supporters at Cumberland United Methodist Church in Florence, South Carolina February 25, 2016. Also pictured is Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence President Dan Gross (L). REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX28MPJ

    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attends a town hall meeting for supporters at Cumberland United Methodist Church in Florence, South Carolina, Thursday. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    KINGSTREE, S.C. — Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has South Carolina mostly to herself two days before the first-in-the-South primary, and she’s using it to capitalize on her advantage over Bernie Sanders with black voters.

    The Vermont senator, meanwhile, is spending Thursday traversing the Great Lakes region in states that hold early March primaries with much whiter electorates than South Carolina and the Deep South, where Clinton maintains a strong enough lead that could help her establish a clear earned-delegate boost in the coming weeks.

    Given those dynamics, Clinton played up her allegiance to President Barack Obama as she addressed a friendly crowd Thursday in tiny Kingstree, South Carolina.

    “I’m really proud to stand with President Obama, and I’m really proud to stand with the progress he’s made,” she said of the nation’s first black president who defeated her 74 percent to 17 percent in surrounding Williamsburg County in their primary fight eight years ago. “I need your help, starting with this primary on Saturday.”

    Clinton also said she wants a genuine liberal to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the Feb. 13 death of conservative icon Antonin Scalia.

    “I sure hope the president chooses a true progressive who will stand up for the values and the interests of the people,” Clinton said of a seat that will determine the ideological tilt of a court left with a 4-4 split between liberals and conservatives.

    Those comments came after White House officials told the Associated Press that the president’s list of potential nominees includes Nevada’s Republican governor, Brian Sandoval. The president is locked in high-stakes gamesmanship with Senate Republicans, who insist they will not give any Obama nominee a hearing.

    Also in Kingstree, Clinton repeated her pledge to fight for stricter gun regulations, an issue that resonates among black voters nationally and in South Carolina, which was shaken in June when a white gunman killed the pastor and nine others at a historically black church in Charleston.

    “I’m going to take them on,” Clinton said of the gun lobby. “I know how hard this is politically.”

    She’s used the issue to highlight some of Sanders’ Senate votes against certain firearms bills, prompting the senator to explain that he has a lifetime D-minus rating from the National Rifle Association.

    Ben McGill, an undecided voter from Andrews, South Carolina, suggests Clinton’s tactics have worked. “I do think she has more of an interest in gun control,” he explained Thursday. McGill added that the issue is personal for him because his elderly aunt and uncle were injured in a Baltimore shooting earlier this week.

    Clinton’s appearance about 70 miles north of Charleston was the first of four stops Thursday. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has multiple appearances, as well. Sanders is scheduled to return to South Carolina on Friday. In the meantime, rapper Killer Mike of Atlanta is campaigning here on his behalf.

    Clinton’s busy Thursday schedule follows a private fundraiser Wednesday in which she was interrupted by a protester who took issue with a 1996 speech she delivered on crime policy.

    “They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘superpredators.’ No conscience, no empathy,” Clinton said at the time. “We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”

    A video of the fundraiser shows a young woman interrupting Clinton and asking her to “apologize to black people for mass incarceration” and using the “superpredators” description.

    Clinton told The Washington Post in a statement Thursday that she “shouldn’t have used those words, and I wouldn’t use them today.”

    Most of Clinton’s schedule this week has taken her to majority black communities where Obama trounced her in 2008 on his way to a 29-point statewide victory. This time, with the advantage, leaving Sanders to prove he can expand his base beyond his massive crowds that typically are overwhelmingly white, even in states with significant black populations.

    Sanders insisted that he is not writing off South Carolina or any of the Deep South states with upcoming primaries. “We have waged a very, very vigorous campaign; we have picked up a lot of support,” he said Wednesday, pointing out his initial single-digit polling in South Carolina. “We have closed the gap very, very significantly.”

    Yet many South Carolina voters say they are simply more familiar with Clinton.

    “It probably would matter to the citizens of Williamsburg County” if Sanders campaigned there, said Barbara White, a 55-year-old Kingstree resident who came to hear Clinton. “Everybody here is for Hillary anyway.”

    Barrow reported from Columbia, South Carolina. Associated Press reporter Meg Kinnard contributed to this report from Kansas City.

    The post Clinton calls for ‘true progressive’ on Supreme Court appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama talks to Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R) as he arrives at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada in this August 24, 2015 file photo. Sandoval, a moderate Republican, took himself out of consideration for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court on February 25, 2016 as Senate Republicans held firm to their vow not to act on any nominee by President Barack Obama for the job.     REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Files - RTX28LQP

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Good evening. I’m Hari Sreenivasan.

    On the “NewsHour” tonight: Republicans square off on the debate stage, the final face-to-face before Super Tuesday, while Democrats look to South Carolina and beyond to break the tie.

    Also ahead: looking at the U.S.’s role in the possible Syrian cease-fire, and if the agreement will hold amidst looming unrest and political distrust.

    Plus, we sit down with the mother of one of the Columbine shooters to talk about her new memoir on living in the aftermath of tragedy.

    SUE KLEBOLD, Author, “A Mother’s Reckoning”: I stood up and thought I was going to be sick. I — it was such a shock to me, because it didn’t make sense that a child that I loved could actually be doing those things or could have planned to do those things.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”

    (BREAK)

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The political drama over the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy took a new twist today. The Republican governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval, withdrew his name from consideration.

    Sandoval said in a statement: “The notion of being considered for a seat on the highest court in the land is beyond humbling.” But he gave no reason for his decision. Senate Republicans say they will not consider any nominee from President Obama. Nevertheless, the White House says the president will meet with Senate leaders next week.

    Battered communities across Southeastern Virginia began cleaning up today, after tornadoes struck Wednesday evening. The storms killed four people and injured dozens more. Three of the dead were in the small town of Waverly, about 40 miles southeast of Richmond.

    Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and toured the area today.

    GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), Virginia: I was just amazed at the length and the width of this tornado that struck here. But as you go along and then you will see structures totally gone, but you will see just gigantic areas of trees just snapped in half, gigantic trees just laying on the ground.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Farther north, in Pennsylvania, the storm system roared through Lancaster County, peeling off roofs and damaging businesses. Two 600-foot chicken sheds and several barns were destroyed.

    The number of migrants stranded in northern Greece built today as Macedonia allowed only a trickle to head north. Some 3,500 people braved bitter cold at a camp on the Greek side this morning as they waited to cross. To the south, thousands more set up camp at a port terminal outside Athens after police barred them from moving on.

    WOMAN: Some people say a lot of things, make us worried, and like the border is closing. And I don’t — I don’t know. A lot of things make us more and more and more tired. And we only need to — these things to be solved, and to know what should we do. We can’t, like, only sleep in the streets.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Greece also recalled its ambassador to Austria to protest border restrictions by the Austrians and Balkan states. And Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras insisted his country cannot become a warehouse for refugees.

    In Italy, the national senate voted to allow civil unions for gay couples after a battle that lasted for years. The bill passed easily and now goes to the Lower House of Parliament for final approval. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called the vote historic. Italy would be the last country in Western Europe to take that step. But gay and lesbian groups denounced the measure because it doesn’t allow gay adoption.

    Back in this country, Apple asked a federal magistrate to reverse her order on helping the FBI hack a locked iPhone. It was used by one of the killers in the San Bernardino mass shootings in California. The company’s court filing accused the government of seeking dangerous power over digital privacy.

    And Wall Street stayed in the win column for a second day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 212 points to close near 16700. The Nasdaq rose nearly 40 points, and the S&P 500 added almost 22.

    Still to come on the “NewsHour”: how Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fare among minority voters; the tricky diplomacy surrounding the Syrian cease-fire; when economic anxiety meets politics; and much more.

    The post News Wrap: Sandoval withdraws from SCOTUS consideration appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    mother

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now: coming to terms with a beloved son-turned-killer in a mass murder that would shock the nation.

    Jeffrey Brown has this latest addition to the “NewsHour” bookshelf.

    A warning: The conversation grapples with subjects that may be upsetting to some viewers.

    JEFFREY BROWN: April 20, 1999, Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

    Two seniors, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, walked into the school armed with weapons and homemade bombs. Less than an hour later, 12 students and one teacher were dead, 24 students injured, and the two shooters had turned the guns on themselves.

    It was a searing time for the community, for the victims’ families, and for the nation.

    Seventeen years later, Sue Klebold, the mother of Dylan, writes of a son she thought she knew, the parent she thought she was, a tragedy and its aftermath. Her new book is, “A Mother’s Reckoning.”

    Sue Klebold joins us now from Denver.

    Sue Klebold, welcome to you.

    You write early in this book: “The ordinariness of our lives before Columbine will perhaps be the hardest thing for people to understand about my story. For me, it is also the most important.”

    Why is that the most important thing?

    SUE KLEBOLD, Author, “A Mother’s Reckoning”: Because I want people to understand that, if someone is struggling with thoughts of suicide or, in some cases, homicide, that these issues can be hidden.

    And we should all try to be more mindful of what our loved ones are thinking, what might be hidden behind their expressions, and how their behaviors can lie if they’re very sophisticated at hiding what they’re thinking and feeling.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In fact, just days before the shooting, Dylan went to the prom. You write of seeing him as he came home. And you write of saying to yourself that night, “I have done a good job with this kid.”

    You truly believed that at that moment?

    SUE KLEBOLD: I truly believed that at that moment.

    I felt that he had — he had had a good year, a good evening. I felt that he was contented and that he was healthy and that he was moving forward with his life.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The questions from everyone, of course, whether in sorrow or anger or just utter confusion, is, how could you not have known, right? How could you not have known that your son was so troubled that he was capable of something like this?

    And you write about incidents along the way, which, in retrospect, might have said something. But how do you answer that question, how could you not have known?

    SUE KLEBOLD: Sometimes, teen behaviors, such as sullenness, maybe differing sleep patterns, maybe they sleep too much or too little, these can all be perceived as normal teen behaviors.

    Dylan did get into trouble in his junior year of high school, and he stole something. He got in trouble at school. He scratched a locker. Those were indicators that something might be wrong, but, at that time, I wasn’t aware that those could be indicators of depression or possibly some kind of brain health issue.

    But what did happen after that was, he promised us that he would get his life on track, and he did. He had a full 14 months after that, from that moment until the tragedy, where he was doing all the things a healthy person would do. He was going to school. He held a job. He had applied at four colleges.

    Just the weekend before the tragedy, he picked out his dorm room for college, and he went to a prom with 12 of his friends, came home and told me he had the best time of his life. These are not behaviors that one would expect of someone who is preparing to die or to kill.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, perhaps the roughest chapter, at least for me in my reading, was one titled “The End of Denial,” and because you write about the denial that you were in for a long time after the — after the shootings, after the killings, even six months afterwards, until you were shown evidence by the police, walked through the timeline of what happened, see exactly what Dylan had done in shooting individuals, what he said to them, and kind of realizing for the first time that he had not been coerced, that he had not been duped, that he had not been whatever it was you thought, right?

    SUE KLEBOLD: Well, as you said, up until that point, knowing Dylan and knowing the kind of person he was, those of us who loved him and knew him didn’t believe he was capable of intentionally harming people or killing people.

    So, we clung to beliefs, such as you suggested, that he had been coerced or tricked, or that this was a prank that had somehow gone wrong. Six months after the tragedy, when I was finally shown the evidence at the sheriff’s department, and we saw things such as the basement tapes, we saw photographs of some of their weapons, I remember being — feeling just ill.

    I stood up and thought I was going to be sick. I — it was such a shock to me, because it didn’t make sense that the child that I loved could actually be doing those things or could have planned to do those things. And, for me, that was almost the beginning of grief all over again, because I had to grieve for a different human being than I had loved before.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You focus later on, on the suicide aspect to this, not pushing aside the murder aspect, but the suicide of your own son, which really forces and focuses the issue on depression.

    Now, explain that. What, in the end, do you — what, in the end, do you think led him to commit these atrocities?

    SUE KLEBOLD: I think, when we look at suicide, and we look at murder-suicide as one small subset of suicidal acts, we have to understand that this is a very complex issue, that there are no simple answers or simple reasons or explanations.

    The things that occur for someone to experience that level of suicidality, they are things such as biological factors, genetic factors, environmental factors, both the home, the school, the culture, personality factors, and also triggering factors, such as events that occur, losses, bullying, arrests. And it is all of those things working together operating for that one vulnerable person.

    And when someone begins to deteriorate, when their thoughts are becoming suicidal, they are in the process of losing access to their own tools of self-governments, of conscience, of reason.

    And they reach a state where they are not thinking the way the rest of us are thinking, if we are healthy. They don’t have the same decision points. And I believe that Dylan’s brain health was the reason that he was involved. He wasn’t able to act in a way that he would have if he were not unwell.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You write often here of the victims, of their families, of the pain that you have felt from the beginning.

    You’re donating your profits, I understand, from the book to charitable organizations that look at mental health issues. But why write the book at all? Why in the first place? You know that, from the moment this happened until now, people wonder about you, wonder about — probably wonder now about the motives in writing the book.

    Why did you want to do it?

    SUE KLEBOLD: The reasons for me, I think, were primarily because people who knew me or knew Dylan or knew our story would give me feedback that they were affected, that their parenting changed because of this.

    I had met an individual, among many individuals, one who had problems with a youngster who was 13, and her daughter acted a little bit different, a little bit more withdrawn. And the mother told me, “Because I know you and because I know that kids can hide things and some of the things that they hide can be lethal,” she explored. She dug into the kid’s life, asked her daughter repeatedly and in depth, and finally was able to learn from her daughter that she had been raped while she had left the house once when she wasn’t supposed to.

    So, I feel that we all have — the most important thing we can do is accept the concept that someone we love may not be feeling inside the way they present to us, and that is a responsibility we have as parents and family members to try to help them, to try to elicit from them what they’re experiencing and to — and if we do learn that they are having suicidal thoughts or other thoughts that are symptomatic of illness, to get them help.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    The book is “A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy.”

    Sue Klebold. Thank you very much.

    SUE KLEBOLD: Thank you.

    The post The mother of a Columbine shooter on the son she thought she knew appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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