U.S. Secret Service agents detain a man after a disturbance as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke at Dayton International Airport in Dayton, Ohio March 12, 2016. Photo by William Philpott/Reuters.
CLEVELAND — Hundreds of police officers, Secret Service agents and private security guards in cars, on foot and on horseback blanketed the area around Donald Trump’s campaign rally Saturday afternoon. Dozens of protesters would soon be ejected from the event.
And that was the calmest rally in the past several days thrown by the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.
Welcome to Trump’s new normal.
After months spent goading protesters and appearing to encourage violence, Trump has seen his raucous rallies devolve over the past two weeks into events at which chaos is expected. The real estate mogul is routinely unable to deliver a speech without interruption, and a heavy security presence is commonplace amid increasingly violent clashes between protesters and supporters.
On Friday, groupings of well-organized students succeeded in keeping Trump from even taking the stage at a rally in Chicago. The next morning, a protester rushed the stage at a Trump rally outside of Dayton, forcing Secret Service agents to leap on stage and form a protective circle around him.
“Frankly, I’m a little shocked that we got to this point, I’m shocked at it,” said Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is vying with Trump to win his home state’s winner-take-all primary on Tuesday.
“We cannot create in this country a toxic environment where images of people slugging it out at a campaign rally, think about it, are transmitted all over the globe,” he said.
Trump’s events have always been intense. For months, he incorporated interruptions by protesters into his speeches, growling “Get ’em out!” – sparking explosive cheers from the audiences as he did so.
While Trump sometimes appears angered by the disruptions, he has also embraced them, using the interruptions as opportunities to lead his supporters in chants of “USA, USA.” He’s also joked about how the protesters force TV cameras to pan out over the crowd and show how large they are.
But the confrontations began to escalate this month, most notably at a Trump event in New Orleans. A steady stream of demonstrators interrupted Trump’s speech, including a huddle of Black Lives Matter activists, who locked arms and challenged security officials to remove them.
There were skirmishes throughout the speech, mostly pushing and shoving, although one man was captured on video biting someone.
This week, an older white Trump supporter was caught on video punching a younger African-American protester as police led the protester out of a rally in North Carolina. The supporter, later charged with assault, told an interviewer the next time he confronted a protester, “We might have to kill him.”
Two days later, police arrested nearly three dozen people at a rally in St. Louis that was interrupted so many times by protesters that Trump joked about how long it was taking him to complete his remarks.
A black demonstrator raises her fist in protest against U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as police officers approach to remove her from a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina March 9, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Drake/Reuters.
Hours before Trump was scheduled to appear Friday night at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the atmosphere inside a campus arena was crackling as protesters and supporters shouted back and forth, arms raised and yelling in each other’s faces.
Some of the protesters, many of whom said they supported Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, said they planned to rush the stage when Trump came out to speak. They didn’t get the chance, as Trump called off the rally before even getting to the venue.
“It feels amazing, everybody came together,” said Kamran Siddiqui, 20, and a student at the school. “That’s what people can do. Now people got to go out and vote because we have the opportunity to stop Trump.”
The next morning, Trump was mid-speech when a man, later identified by authorities as Thomas Dimassimo of Fairborn, Ohio, jumped a barricade and rushed at Trump. He was able to touch the stage before he was tackled by security officials.
Trump initially laughed it off, but later in the day, said Dimassimo had ties to the Islamic State. Experts who watched a video Trump tweeted as evidence called the allegation “utterly farcical.”
“Trump’s accusations about it being linked to ISIS serve only to underline the totality of his ignorance on this issue,” said Charles Lister, a fellow at the Middle East Institute.
At the Cleveland rally, more than a dozen officers on horseback patrolled the outside as police helicopters buzzed overhead. Hundreds of officers massed inside to block some exits and sweep the audience out after the event ended.
More than 50 protesters, including a pair of doctors who removed sweat shirts to reveal white T-shirts printed with “Muslim Doctors Save Lives in Cleveland,” were told to leave.
Things weren’t much different at Trump’s evening rally in Kansas City, Missouri, where protesters interrupted the candidate throughout his speech. While he asked his supporters not to hurt them, a visibly annoyed Trump also said he was “going to start pressing charges against all these people.”
Back in Cleveland, Brandon Krapes said he was punched repeatedly after he held up his sign, which said, “Trump: Making America Racist Again.” His 17-year-old son Logan had a freshly bruised cheek from what he said was a punch in the face he received while trying to help his father.
“The sheer amount of hatred in there is so blatant, and Trump does nothing to stop it,” said Sean Khurana, a 23-year-old Cuyahoga Community College student, who is Indian-American. He said someone called him “ISIS” as he stood in line. “He provokes it.”
Trump, meanwhile, celebrated a successful campaign day on Twitter.
“Just finished my second speech,” he wrote. “20K in Dayton & 25K in Cleveland- perfectly behaved crowd. Thanks- I love you, Ohio!”
This report was written by Jill Colvin and Thomas Beaumont of the Associated Press.
Democratic U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton cheers as she drinks a beer at a local bar during a campaign stop in Youngstown, Ohio, March 12, 2016. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters
CLEVELAND — When it comes to Hillary Clinton, some Ohio voters admit to feeling more lukewarm than fired up.
Coming off of a surprise loss in Michigan, Clinton is looking ahead to primaries Tuesday in this Rust Belt state and others rich in delegates: Florida, Missouri, Illinois and North Carolina.
The Michigan setback has exposed her struggles to energize voters against Bernie Sanders, who’s riding a wave of populist zeal, even as Clinton remains the favorite to win the nomination.
Those challenges are evident in Ohio, a pivotal general election state where Democratic voters offered mixed feelings about Clinton and her ability to defeat the Republican candidate should she become the nominee.
“The fear I have is that people are confusing reality TV with reality,” said Bob Lanning, 62, of Bay Village, a Clinton supporter who worries about Republican Donald Trump’s appeal. “I hope Democrats get out and vote.”
Lee Apple, 68, of Shaker Heights, who has cast a ballot for Clinton in early voting, expressed disappointment she had no choices to get more excited about, though she described Clinton as “the best option” and said she will volunteer for her.
“She’s kind of old news,” Apple said. “She’s been around for years. She’s not fresh, she’s not young.”
Clinton is favored in Ohio in polling, has offices around the state and has racked up endorsements. Strong support from older voters and African-Americans may help her in Ohio as it has in earlier contests. Her experience counts to many Democrats.
“Probably in my lifetime there has been no other candidate who has the skill set she has,” said Anna Schmidt, 62, of Waterville, another early Clinton voter.
But in Michigan, where polling also pointed to a Clinton victory, Sanders managed to energize younger people and liberals and woo working-class white voters with his argument that U.S. trade deals have cost manufacturing jobs.
That pitch may prove effective in Ohio with voters such as Jan Jones, 68, a retiree from Cleveland Heights deciding between Clinton and Sanders, who said: “A year or so ago she seemed like a shoo-in and all this other stuff came up. I like what he says about the poor versus the rich.”
Pushing back, Clinton is stressing job creation and manufacturing at events in Ohio and the other states voting Tuesday.
Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, who is backing Clinton, said he does see excitement, though he acknowledged Clinton cannot match Sanders’ massive and raucous rallies.
“It’s certainly not as super high pitched as Bernie’s is, but I think it’s deeper and I think it’s solid,” Ryan said, assessing Clinton’s support. “She’s like an old friend people are quietly working to support.”
Delegate math remains on Clinton’s side.
She has 766 pledged delegates compared with 551 for Sanders after her caucus win on the Northern Mariana Islands, according to a count by The Associated Press. Ten delegates from recent primaries remain to be allocated.
If as expected, she wins Florida and North Carolina and does well in the other three states – even if Sanders takes some of them – she will maintain her lead, which is even larger when her lopsided support from party insiders known as superdelegates are added. Including superdelegates, Clinton now has 1,231 to Sanders’ 576, having picked up four new superdelegates on Saturday.
Barack Obama lost Ohio to Clinton in the 2008 primary race, then won the state comfortably in the November election that made him president. In 2012, Obama managed just to eke out a victory in the general election, campaigning as a savior of Ohio’s auto industry. This year, Republicans badly want to capture the state and will come to Cleveland over the summer for their nominating convention.
David Niven, a political science professor at Cincinnati University, said Democrats should be considered “modest favorites” given the makeup of the state. But he said there was an “eat your peas sensibility” to many Clinton voters.
“They see this as something they should do and they’re going to do but they’re not necessarily excited about it,” Niven said.
In the early contests thus far, Republicans have seen higher turnout in many states than they did in their 2012 primary race, while Democrats are not hitting their record high 2008 turnout numbers. That could be a warning about lack of enthusiasm in November. But former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who is supporting Clinton, argued that primary turnout is not a good gauge of fall excitement.
“The Republican thing has been a freak show,” Rendell said. Whoever emerges on the GOP side, he said, naming Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, “that will be enough to motivate our voters.”
Some Ohio voters aren’t so sure.
Mona Stovsky, 73, of Mayfield Heights, said she had chosen Clinton in early voting, but “I don’t know when it comes to the main one, where I’m going to go.”
“Our friends, some are Democrats, some are Republicans, it’s so confusing,” she said. “I’m still very conflicted.”
But Robin Zoss, 62, of Solon, who attended a Clinton rally in Cleveland, said Clinton had the best chance of beating the Republicans. Considering the fall matchup, she said: “I hope the Republicans are so scary that people will rally in the end.”
John Dugan, a 41-year-old bartender from Lakewood, who is voting for Sanders in the primary, said he thinks Clinton can win in November.
“With Donald Trump, I feel he is so divisive, I think she can win with name recognition alone,” he said.
A soldier comforts an injured boy in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, March 13, 2016. Photo by Joe Penney/Reuters
Six gunmen opened fire on people in the Ivory Coast resort town of Grand Bassam on Sunday, targeting beachgoers at three hotels.
At least 14 civilians were killed in the attack on the weekend destination, President Alassane Ouattara said during a visit to the site.
Security and defense forces responded quickly and were able to “neutralize six terrorists,” Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko said on state television.
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorists’ communications.
Boys walk by a body covered in tarp on the beach in Bassam, Ivory Coast, March 13, 2016. Photo by Luc Gnago/Reuters
A spokesman for France’s foreign ministry said one French national is believed to be among those killed in the shooting.
French President Francois Hollande denounced the “cowardly attack” in a statement, pledging the country’s logistical support and intelligence to Ivory Coast. France will “pursue and intensify its cooperation with its partners in the fight against terrorism,” he said.
The beaches, bars and hotels of the seaside resort town, located about 25 miles east of Abidjan, are popular for Ivorians and frequented by foreigners.
Graphic by Lisa Overton/NewsHour Weekend
During the attack, people ran from the waterfront and residents hid in their homes as a barrage of gunfire rang out.
Graphic pictures of bloodied bodies strewn on the beach circulated quickly on social media sites.
It was not immediately known whether the armed assailants were affiliated with any militant group.
The shooting marks the third major attack on a tourist center in a West African country since November, according to the Associated Press.
Wreaths of flowers are seen near the stele after families gathered for a ceremony in memory of the victims of the Germanwings Airbus A320 crash in Le Vernet, France, July 24, 2015. Photo by Robert Pratta/Reuters
According to a report released by a French investigative body on Sunday, a private doctor had recommended the 27-year-old co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, be admitted to a hospital for “symptoms suggesting a psychotic depressive episode.”
Lubitz worked for Lufthansa, the parent-company of the low-cost carrier Germanwings, when he took control of Airbus A320 Flight 9525, which was heading from Barcelona, Spain to Germany’s Dusseldorf Airport.
“The collision with the ground was due to the deliberate and planned action of the co-pilot who decided to commit suicide while alone in the cockpit,” the report said.
Debris from an Airbus A320 is seen in the mountains, near Seyne-les-Alpes, March 24, 2015 in this still image taken from TV. Photo via Reuters TV/Pool TPX
The report found Lubitz locked the plane’s captain out of the cockpit before redirecting the aircraft, lowering its elevation from a cruising speed of 35,000 feet to 100 feet, and ignoring urgent pleas of military and ground control officials.
A black box recording was thought to capture the plane’s captain attempting to break through the door before the crash.
With Lubitz’s mental health state at the center of the investigation, the report’s authors have called for an easing of privacy rights for German pilots.
Germanwings was not informed about the potential severity of his mental condition in the weeks leading up to the suicide.
Lubitz reportedly visited dozens of doctors over the months leading up to the incident, with one issuing him a sick note that could have kept him on the ground the day of the crash, the report disclosed.
German law protects patients’ privacy until their deaths.
“No action could have been taken by the authorities or his employer to prevent him from flying,” the French investigative unit said in a statement to the Associated Press.
ALISON STEWART: Congress is considering regulating one of the most unpopular aspects of flying: those airline fees for reservation changes, checked luggage, and even leg room.
A bill introduced this week is called, literally, the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous Act, or FAIR.
Joining me now from Dallas to discuss the issue and the proposed remedies is Bloomberg Media aviation and travel associate editor Justin Bachman.
Justin, who sponsored this legislation, why, and why now?
JUSTIN BACHMAN, Bloomberg Media: It’s from two senators in the Northeast, Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut.
And I think what they’re responding to is just sort of a growing chorus from the public, at least the public who is sitting at the back of the airplane, that things are getting a little tight and a little bit uncomfortable.
ALISON STEWART: What kind of fees are being targeted as egregious?
JUSTIN BACHMAN: This bill talks about the fees that airlines charge when you want to change a ticket, cancel your ticket, and also the fees that you get charged when you check a bag or two or three.
Most airlines, it’s up to 10. And when you get up to 10 bags, the fees can be pretty high.
ALISON STEWART: Can you give me an example how high these fees can go?
JUSTIN BACHMAN: Yes.
If you are flying internationally, and you wanted to change your ticket, and it’s a non-changeable ticket, non-refundable-type ticket, you are paying up to $200 for that change fee.
ALISON STEWART: And is that what really has people exercised?
JUSTIN BACHMAN: That’s probably the most egregious what can happen when it comes to fee revenues.
So, I think the change fee is really the one that a lot of people tell their folks in Congress, we don’t like this.
ALISON STEWART: How much are we talking about that airlines are making at this point on these kind of fees?
JUSTIN BACHMAN: It’s — altogether, it’s well over $5 billion a year from the industry.
And that’s a large amount of money that goes directly to the bottom line. So, fees have become a very critical aspect of, you know, airline profitability these days.
ALISON STEWART: If we pull out a little bit, this isn’t just about baggage fees necessarily. This is about regulation. Can you explain that a little bit more?
JUSTIN BACHMAN: Yes.
This — in 1978, Congress passed a bill to deregulate the airline industry, so that there was no government intervention in what fares should be, what routes would be, where airlines fly.
And now we’re really talking about an area where Congress would get involved and say, there are some rules on what you can charge and not charge the public for bags and ticket changes and that. So, this would be a really fairly substantial change that — you know, that — that imposes a pretty big hurdle for this bill to get forward.
ALISON STEWART: You’re writing about it. You said it was a long shot. Is that the reason?
JUSTIN BACHMAN: It’s a long shot, yes, because of the fact that Congress would get into pricing, and Congress really does not get into the business of pricing for companies.
ALISON STEWART: I have to imagine the airline industry is pushing back on this.
JUSTIN BACHMAN: They put out a statement that they don’t like this bill.
The question is, how far does it advance before they really need to push back? But if this goes anywhere, you will see a very concerted and a very strong effort from the airline industry.
ALISON STEWART: Justin Bachman from Bloomberg Media, thanks for sharing your reporting.
Emergency workers work at the explosion site in Ankara, Turkey March 13, 2016. At least 27 are dead and 75 injured after the attack. Tumay Berkin/Reuters
A massive blast struck the Turkish capital of Ankara Sunday night, with early reports indicating at least 32 people were killed and more than 75 injured.
Turkish state media said a car bomb went off near a crowded bus stop at about 6:45 p.m. local time on Sunday. Turkish officials told Reuters the explosion may have been triggered by a suicide bomber and gunfire was reportedly heard by witnesses near the scene.
The explosion comes just weeks after another car bomb killed 29 people several blocks away in February, an action the Turkish government blamed on Kurdish militants.
People help an injured person on the ground near the explosion site in Ankara, Turkey March 13, 2016. Tumay Berkin/Reuters
Video footage and images posted on social media show a frenzied response to Sunday’s incident, as emergency workers rushed to the scene. Many nearby vehicles were on fire with the side of one bus left blackened with a immense hole torn into it.
On Friday, the United States Embassy had issued a warning that a “terrorist plot to attack Turkish government buildings and housing located in the Bahcelievler area of Ankara” was possible.
Turkey’s military headquarters and parliament are located in the area that was targeted on Sunday, according to Reuters.
What used to feel like airport incidentals now seem like a routine part of air travel. And if any of these fees have you feeling fed up, well, you’re not alone.
The Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous Fees Act — yes, that’s really what it’s called — aims to keep those in check.
“Airlines fees are as high as the planes passengers are traveling on, and it’s time to stop their rapid ascent.”
The bill, introduced this week by Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), calls out the fees airlines can charge for checked baggage, ticket changes and cancellations.
“Airlines fees are as high as the planes passengers are traveling on, and it’s time to stop their rapid ascent,” Markey said. “Airlines should not be allowed to overcharge captive passengers just because they need to change their flight or have to check a couple of bags.”
“This measure will ground the soaring, gouging fees that contribute to airlines’ record profits and passengers’ rising pain,” Blumenthal said.
People look at the United Airlines timetable in Newark International Airport, New Jersey July 8, 2015. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
According to government statistics, Airlines like United, Delta, American and Southwest netted more than $5 billion in the first three quarters of last year in extra fees on checked bags, flight changes and cancellations.
“That’s a large amount of money that goes directly to the bottom line, so fees have become a very critical aspect of airline profitability these days,” Bloomberg travel reporter Justin Bachman said in an interview.
Congress hasn’t been involved in airline pricing since it deregulated the industry in 1978 under the Airline Deregulation Act, which intended to remove government control over fares, routes and market entry from commercial aviation.
Photo via Getty Images
In response to the new legislation, airline industry advocates belittled the bill as an effort to re-regulate air travel by disposing of the fees that they say give travelers more flexibility.
“These fare structures also help to reduce passenger ‘no-shows’ and the need for airlines to overbook,” Melanie Hinton, the communications director for Airlines for America, told PBS NewsHour in a statement.
“Customers have choices today…they can purchase nonrefundable fares that are highly affordable. If they would like the flexibility to change their ticket at the last minute, they can do so as well,” she said.
Bachman said chances of the bill passing in its current form appear to be slim, but the fact it is being discussed at the congressional level does signal that lawmakers are listening to “the growing chorus from the public who’s sitting at the back of the airplane that things are getting a little tight and a little bit uncomfortable.”
“It’s a long shot,” he said.
What do you think? Weigh in on the issue by voting in our poll below.
ALISON STEWART: Ohio received the bulk of candidate attention today, as it and four other states, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina, prepare to hold presidential primaries on Tuesday.
On the Republican side, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Florida Senator Marco Rubio campaigned in their delegate-rich home states, hoping to thwart businessman Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who are well ahead in delegates needed to win their party’s nomination.
Yesterday, Rubio and Kasich split the delegates at the Washington, D.C., convention. Rubio narrowly won and earned 10 delegates, and Kasich placed second, taking nine.
In Wyoming, Cruz easily won the state convention and nabbed nine of the 11 delegates, followed by Rubio and Trump with one each. Overall, Trump leads the Republicans with 460 delegates, almost 40 percent of the number needed to win the nomination, while Cruz has 369 delegates, Rubio has 163, and Kasich 63.
Cruz said today his party shouldn’t fear if no one candidate goes over the top before this summer’s national convention.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Presidential Candidate: Look, if Donald and I both go into the convention, and we have both got a big chunk of delegates, but both of us are shy of 1,237, then the delegates will decide. That’s how the process works, and that’s allowing democracy to operate.
ALISON STEWART: Trump returned to Illinois today, after canceling a Friday rally in Chicago amidst fights between supporters and protesters. With a large police presence, his speech in Bloomington went off without incident.
On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is halfway to number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination. She leads Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in total delegates, 1,231 to 576.
Both Democrats campaigned in Ohio today, where 159 delegates are at stake Tuesday. Clinton bested Barack Obama here in 2008, but Sanders beat Clinton in the primary next door in Michigan last week.
Ohio is winner-take-all for the Republicans, meaning the first-place candidate gets all 66 delegates.
For more on the Ohio campaign, I am joined by Nick Castele, the political reporter for our Cleveland PBS affiliate WVIZ.
Nick, the headlines coming out of the campaigns, some of the biggest ones are about the atmosphere at the rallies for the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump. I know you went to one of his rallies in Cleveland. Tell me what you witnessed.
NICK CASTELE, WVIZ: Mm-hmm.
Well, there were a few of the protesters who tried to interrupt the rally, maybe about a half-dozen interruptions. I have seen a report that there was at least one scuffle on the floor in Cleveland.
And then, outside the rally afterward, there were protesters who were waiting there for Trump supporters to come out. And there were some shouting matches that broke out in the parking lot between the protesters and then Donald Trump supporters, who outnumbered the protesters by a great deal, and at some points were trying to chant down the protesters.
And some also very vicious things were said back and forth.
ALISON STEWART: Let’s talk about the issues.
How is Donald Trump trying to connect with Ohio voters specifically?
NICK CASTELE: Well, he’s talking a lot about trade in Northern Ohio.
He tried link Governor John Kasich to NAFTA. And he talked about, of course, we have heard plenty of times, building the wall in Mexico, focusing on economic issues, focusing on trade, on immigration, a lot of things we have heard Donald Trump talk about before.
I think there’s a lot of voters in Northern Ohio for whom issues like trade are very important, and he’s trying to hit those notes with them.
ALISON STEWART: Governor Kasich, he’s got the lead right now. We should point that out.
If you’re an Ohio Republican, and you’re not voting for Governor Kasich, why is that?
NICK CASTELE: Well, it’s interesting.
Governor Kasich is pretty popular right now in Ohio, but I did talk with some Trump supporters at the rally who said that Donald Trump’s message excited them more than Governor Kasich’s did.
I spoke with one 19-year-old voter who said that Trump just seemed a lot stronger than Kasich did. And it was that sort of gut-level sort of decision he was making that attracted him more to Trump than to Kasich.
ALISON STEWART: Let’s talk about the Democrats a little bit, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders obviously both vying for votes before Tuesday.
Tell me where each stands.
NICK CASTELE: Well, Hillary Clinton was campaigning this weekend in Ohio. She was in the Cleveland area speaking at two African-American churches in Cleveland.
And she spoke there a lot about the economy. She spoke about criminal justice, about prisoner reentry, and tried to connect with voters in Cleveland who felt like they still have not yet recovered from the recession.
And I think Bernie Sanders also had a pretty similar message. He campaigned in Toledo, Ohio, on Friday. And he also talked a lot about trade. He talked about NAFTA, trying to link Secretary Clinton with NAFTA. And he was trying to rally a lot of blue-collar union supporters in Toledo.
ALISON STEWART: Before I let you go, let’s talk about the voting process itself in Ohio. There could be some — some surprises because of it.
NICK CASTELE: Sure.
Well, early voting is already under way. It’s been under way for a few weeks. So, there are people who have already cast their votes, and also some people who are trying to make up their mind. So, there could be a dynamic there between — a difference between which candidates get supported in the early votes and which candidates get supported a little closer to Election Day.
ALISON STEWART: Nick Castele from WVIZ, thanks for sharing your reporting.
NICK CASTELE: My pleasure.
ALISON STEWART: Learn more about what’s at stake for the Republican candidates in Florida.
ALISON STEWART: In Germany, millions of voters in three states went to the polls today, in what amounted to a referendum on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming of more than a million refugees from the Middle East.
For Merkel, it was a disappointing setback. Exit polls show her Conservative Democrats will lose seats in the state legislatures, some to one anti-immigration party.
For more on this, I am joined from Cologne via Skype by Gabriel Borrud, a reporter for the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
Gabriel, what do today’s results mean for the German government?
GABRIEL BORRUD, Deutsche Welle: Well, at this point, it’s more than fair to say that the clear losers on this Super Election Sunday, as it’s being called, were Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Conservative CDU.
And the clear winner was the right-wing upstart alternative for Germany. Germany has 16 federal states. And every five years, these states, they elect a new government. And what happened — or the states that that happened in on this Sunday were Baden-Wurttemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, and the eastern impoverished state of Saxony-Anhalt.
In each of these states, Merkel’s CDU lost ground. And one particularly shocking example was in Baden-Wurttemberg, the home of Porsche, the home of Mercedes-Benz, one of the most prosperous regions and a bastion of conservatism here.
What it means on the federal level is that the Upper House of Parliament, which is tasked with passing laws, it’s going to be harder for Merkel’s CDU to pass laws. And there’s a lot of important legislation that’s going to have to go through that house next year.
So, this really is black Sunday for Merkel, as it’s already been called by German media.
ALISON STEWART: Gabriel Borrud, reporting from Cologne, thank you so much.
Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio pauses while addressing supporters during a campaign rally inside an aviation hangar in Sarasota, Florida. Photo by Steve Nesius/Reuters
MIAMI — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was among the Republican Party’s biggest stars when he burst onto the national stage in the tea party wave of 2010. Now, he is facing a home-state showing on Tuesday that could devastate his 2016 presidential campaign and damage his political brand for years to come.
The Cuban-American’s desire to become the nation’s first Hispanic president, and his past support for a forgiving immigration policy, have failed to excite conservative primary voters who instead have flocked to Donald Trump’s nativist politics.
“Marco’s always had good timing. This time, the timing just wasn’t there,” said Albert Lorenzo, who managed Rubio’s first state house campaign nearly two decades ago and stays in close contact with him.
Yet Lorenzo, like those closest to Rubio, suggest that should his bid end in disappointment, the senator’s career in public service is far from over. The 44-year-old Republican could run for Florida governor in two years, president in four years or even his own Senate seat later this year.
“He’s a talent you don’t find,” Lorenzo said.
Added Rubio ally, Miami city commissioner Francis Suarez: “I can’t think of anybody more popular in Florida than he is – except maybe the man he’s losing to.”
Indeed, the first-term senator has been looking up at Trump in Florida preference polls for months. Rubio is the decided underdog to the billionaire businessman in Tuesday’s do-or-die home-state contest.
Despite long odds, Rubio insists he’s focused only on winning his party’s 2016 presidential nomination.
“I haven’t even thought about what I’m having for lunch today, much less what I’m going to run for in two years or nothing at all,” he told reporters in West Palm Beach this week.
“If I never hold public office again, I’m comfortable with that,” Rubio continued. “I can’t tell you what’s going to happen two to four years from now. But I have no plans. No thoughts. No contemplation. No meetings. Nothing about any future political run of any sort.”
Should his presidential bid end in disappointment, many who know him expect a political comeback, though those closest to Rubio believe he could turn to the private sector to help provide for his family.
With four school-age children, Rubio has struggled with his personal finances in recent years, cashing out a retirement account as recently as 2014 to upgrade home appliances and pay for school costs. The Republican would have such well-compensated options as becoming a media personality or joining a law firm.
He would also need to decide whether he wants to return to Capitol Hill.
Rubio has previously said he would not run for president and the Senate at the same time. An exit from the White House contest next week would give him plenty of time to qualify for another, albeit unlikely, Senate run.
The deadline to file the necessary paperwork isn’t until late June. And Federal Election Commission rules allow him to transfer any unused money from his presidential campaign to a Senate campaign account, albeit with caveats about individual donor limits.
Rubio would also be a prime candidate to run for the open governor’s seat being vacated by the term-limited Gov. Rick Scott in 2018. Such a move would give the senator’s political standing at least a year to recover after a brutal 2016 campaign.
Some conservatives suggest that may not be enough time to resurrect his political brand, should Rubio suffer an embarrassing loss on Tuesday.
“I think a loss in Florida is very bad for Rubio’s political future. It is hard to argue that Rubio is the right guy to run for governor of Florida if he couldn’t win a presidential primary there,” said Mark Meckler, a longtime leader in the national tea party movement. “Luckily, he’s a bright man, a seemingly nice guy, and probably has a solid future in the private sector. And perhaps after a few years out, he can come back and run again.”
Rubio could, of course, make another run for the White House in 2020 or beyond if he fails this year. The vast majority of recent Republican presidential nominees have not captured the nomination in their first attempts.
Rubio, who turns 45 years old in May, is the youngest of the remaining four 2016 contenders. His supporters note that Ronald Reagan was 69 when he assumed office.
“People are still getting to know Marco,” said Luis Rodriguez, a longtime Rubio supporter and former vice chairman of the Dade County Republican Party. “He has 20 more years he can run for president. If not now, in 5, 10 or 20 years he’ll be there.”
After a nasty 2016 campaign, however, it’s unclear if Rubio wants to be there.
“Life,” he said Saturday on Fox News, “is about a lot more than politics.”
A Center for Public Integrity review of campaign finance data has found that Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential bid has benefited from lobbyists more than any other Republican still in the race. Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters
While 2016 may be the year of the political outsider, Republican White House hopeful Marco Rubio is relying on a decidedly insider source for campaign money: lobbyists.
Rubio’s presidential bid has benefited from lobbyists more than any other Republican still in the race, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of campaign finance data.
These lobbyists represent a range of interests, spanning from blue-chip companies such as AT&T, Goldman Sachs and 21st Century Fox to trade associations such as the Private Equity Growth Capital Council and Satellite Industry Association.
Rubio’s reliance on K Street money could be less of a boon than a burden during an election season in which insurgents such as real estate tycoon Donald Trump and firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas have so far won nearly every primary or caucus.
“Republican voters are turned off by the big money,” said John Pudner, the executive director of Take Back Our Republic, a conservative campaign finance reform organization.
Pudner, who previously served as Republican Rep. Dave Brat’s campaign manager, added that money from lobbyists is “becoming more and more of a liability” as voters are increasingly worried that “campaign contributions are traded for their tax dollars.”
Thus far, support from professional influencers hasn’t helped Rubio much. He trails badly in the delegate race, and he now faces a critical test in his home state of Florida, which hosts its primary Tuesday.
Lobbyists — who sometimes seek to leverage their connections and convert access into influence for clients — can boost a candidate’s war chest in two ways.
First, they may directly donate to a campaign. They may also steer other donors toward a candidate, a fundraising practice called “bundling.”
Because individuals are limited in how much they can directly donate to federal politicians, pooling donations together in “bundles” is one way people attempt to gain more clout.
Legislation passed in 2007 following the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal has required lobbyists to disclose information about their bundling activities. Campaigns are not required to disclose the names of bundlers who are not lobbyists.
That was only a fraction of the $36 million Rubio raised last year, but it was a larger dollar amount than either of the two other GOP contenders who had support from registered lobbyists working as fundraisers.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush collected about $635,000 from lobbyists acting as campaign bundlers last year, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie got about $23,000 from his sole lobbyist-bundler.
That ranked him second among GOP presidential hopefuls in terms of direct contributions — and was nearly as much as the roughly $340,000 lobbyists donated to Bush, the top beneficiary.
Donations from lobbyists to GOP presidential candidates
Source: Center for Public Integrity analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics covering contributions received between Jan. 1, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2015.
With Bush now out of the presidential race, Rubio has been making overtures to former Bush donors to support his campaign — and winning several over.
Rubio “was the logical place for me to go once Jeb Bush decided he would suspend his campaign,” said Dirk Van Dongen, the longtime head of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, who raised nearly $70,000 for Bush last year, according to federal campaign finance records.
“[Rubio] is very much the future of this party,” Van Dongen continued. “I like him a lot. I respect him a lot.”
Why has Rubio been so successful winning K Street fans? Lobbyists often line up behind the party’s likely nominee, political observers say.
Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said Bush and Rubio were seen “as good, even safe, bets — obvious targets for those who wanted to curry favor with those considered most likely to be the presidential nominee.”
With Bush now out of the race, many view Rubio as the establishment’s choice — although he’s still facing opposition on that front from Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Meanwhile, Trump and Cruz, the two GOP contenders to have seen the least amount of support from the Republican establishment, continue to dominate at the polls.
For his part, Trump — who ismostly self-funding his campaign — has accused both Cruz and Rubio of being “controlled by the lobbyists and special interests.”
Anne Mervenne of Michigan is one lobbyist who’s been torn between Rubio and Kasich.
The president of her own firm, Mervenne & Company, she typically works with nonprofit clients such as the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and the Hope Network, a Christian organization that helps people with disabilities live independently.
Mervenne donated to both Rubio and Kasich last year, giving Kasich $500 in September and Rubio the legal maximum of $2,700 in December.
“I’m establishment,” Mervenne said. “I’m not ashamed to say that.”
But just days before Michigan’s March 8 primary, Mervenne — who said she’s afraid of Trump’s “fearmongering” and “inflammatory language” — decided to go all in for Kasich over Rubio. She joined his leadership team in the Wolverine State and said she would be “maxing out” her contribution to him as well.
Charlie Black of Virginia — chairman of the Prime Policy Group and one of the country’s leading GOP political strategists — is among the lobbyists who have remained neutral during the Republican presidential primary.
That’s because he still has multiple friends in the race, Black said.
On March 31, two weeks before Rubio officially became a presidential candidate, Black donated $2,700 to a joint fundraising outfit benefiting Rubio’s now-defunct Senate campaign and his leadership PAC
As a senator, Black said, Rubio “did a good job of being available at fundraisers,” which allowed lobbyists the opportunity to get to know him.
Verhoff’s recent clients include the International Franchise Association, the National Auto Dealers Association and the Private Equity Growth Capital Council. Weaver’s clients include 21st Century Fox, AT&T and the Satellite Industry Association.
One trade association lobbyist who donated to Rubio — and who refused to be quoted by name because his employer has not endorsed a candidate in the 2016 presidential race — said the Florida senator “could inspire the country … much like Ronald Reagan.”
“I don’t see him as an establishment figure,” the lobbyist added. “Marco Rubio was an outsider when he ran against Charlie Crist.”
Marco Rubio greets supporters at an election night victory celebration in Coral Gables, Florida, Nov. 2, 2010. Photo by Hans Deryk/Reuters
In 2010, Rubio rode a wave of tea party enthusiasm into office, beating out Crist, the outgoing Florida governor who had switched from being a Republican to an independent during the race. The three-way contest also featured Democrat Kendrick Meek.
In the U.S. Senate, many conservative groups have given Rubio high marks — although his work on a bipartisan immigration reform bill has dogged his presidential campaign.
In 2014, Rubio earned a perfect 100 percent score from the conservative group FreedomWorks. That same year, Rubio earned a 92 percent score from the anti-tax organization Club for Growth.
As a senator — and now as a presidential candidate — Rubio has emphasized a hawkish foreign policy, free trade policies and an opposition to new taxes.
His proposed tax plan would cut the regular tax rate on capital gains and dividends to 0 percent.
He’s also called for repeal of many of President Barack Obama’s signature initiatives, including the president’s health care overhaul and nuclear deal with Iran.
Now on the verge of elimination in the GOP presidential race, Rubio needs even more campaign cash to compete. He began February with just $5 million in the bank.
The other is the Conservative Solutions PAC, a super PAC whose biggest donors include billionaires Norman Braman, the Florida auto dealer who previously owned the Philadelphia Eagles football team, and Larry Ellison, the former CEO of Oracle.
But candidates get cheaper advertising rates when they are able to purchase TV ads themselves — and they have full control over how funds are spent when money flows into their campaign committee instead of an independent group.
Norm Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, says money from lobbyists represents “low-hanging fruit” for a candidate like Rubio, who’s coming out of Congress.
“If you are Marco Rubio, your hope of winning a nomination depends on having more than Norman Braman supporting you through a super PAC, and you need funding to carry you through the sea of primaries ahead,” Ornstein said. “So it’s no surprise that you will take whatever hit comes from getting lobbyist funding in return for crucial dollars.”
Carrie Levine contributed to this report.
This story was published by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C. It is part of their Buying the President 2016 series, which looks at campaign finance issues in the race to the White House and candidates seeking the presidency.
House Benghazi Committee’s Republican chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, said in an email to The Associated Press that the committee has made “considerable progress” investigating the deadly 2012 attacks that killed four Americans at an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Photo by James Lawler Duggan/Reuters
WASHINGTON — Nearly two years after it was created, the House Benghazi Committee is plowing ahead — interviewing witnesses, reviewing documents and promising a final report “before summer” that is certain to have repercussions for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency.
The panel’s Republican chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, said in an email to The Associated Press that the committee has made “considerable progress” investigating the deadly 2012 attacks that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.
Gowdy declined to elaborate specifically on what progress has been made beyond listing new witnesses and documents.
The Benghazi inquiry has gone on longer than the 9/11 Commission took to investigate the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001, spending more than $6 million in the process, Democrats said. They say the only goal of the investigation is to undermine Clinton’s candidacy.
Gowdy declined to be interviewed, but said in a statement that the committee had advanced in its inquiry in recent weeks, after interviewing national security adviser Susan Rice; her deputy, Ben Rhodes, and other witnesses. Former CIA Director David Petraeus and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta are among those who have testified before the panel in closed-door sessions at the Capitol.
Many of the witnesses, including Rice and Rhodes, had not been interviewed before by a congressional committee, Gowdy said. The panel has interviewed a total of 83 witnesses since its creation in May 2014, including 65 never before questioned by lawmakers, he said in an email to The Associated Press.
The committee also has gained access to documents from the State Department and CIA and to a cache of emails from Clinton and Stevens, who was killed on Sept. 11, 2012 in twin attacks on the diplomatic outpost and CIA annex in Benghazi.
“The American people and the families of the victims deserve the truth, and I’m confident the value and fairness of our investigation will be abundantly clear to everyone when they see the report for themselves,” Gowdy said in an email, promising the report “as soon as possible, before summer.”
The Benghazi inquiry has gone on longer than the 9/11 Commission took to investigate the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, spending more than $6 million in the process, Democrats said.
Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the attacks, dismissed the panel’s work, noting at a recent Democratic debate that she testified before Gowdy and other lawmakers for nearly 11 hours last fall.
“Anybody who watched that and listened to it knows that I answered every question that I was asked, and when it was over the Republicans had to admit they didn’t learn anything,” Clinton said.
She was referring to Gowdy’s comments immediately after the Oct. 22 hearing in which he struggled to explain what the committee — and the American public — learned from the marathon session. “I don’t know that she testified that much differently than she has the previous times that she’s testified,” he said.
Democrats are skeptical about Gowdy and the GOP members finishing their report in a few months, noting that the committee has blown through other self-imposed deadlines.
“The only real deadline is the presidential election” in November, said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the Benghazi panel and a longtime Gowdy critic.
Schiff dismissed Gowdy’s claim that new witnesses and documents have led to progress in the investigation. “They have a number of new witnesses and a number of new documents, but no new facts,” he said.
“I don’t think there are new meaningful facts to uncover at this point,” after seven previous congressional investigations and an independent panel led by former U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Schiff said.
Schiff serves on the House intelligence committee, which completed its investigation in 2014.
The Pickering-Mullen report said security at the Benghazi compound was “grossly inadequate” and that requests for security improvements were not acted upon in Washington. Subsequent congressional reports debunked various claims, including a “stand down” order to the military.
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the Benghazi committee’s senior Democrat, said the 22-month-old panel is “nothing more than a taxpayer-funded effort to bring harm to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”
Republicans say the committee has been hindered by stonewalling by the State Department and other executive branch agencies. And they say Schiff and other Democrats have done more carping about the committee than constructive work on its behalf.
Still, Republican insistence that the investigation is not politically motivated was undermined last year when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., suggested that the Benghazi panel could take credit for Clinton’s slumping poll numbers.
Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., a member of the Benghazi committee, said Clinton’s testimony was the most visible, but not necessarily the most important, aspect of the panel’s work.
“We want to know what went wrong between the secretary of state, Defense Department, White House and CIA,” Brooks said at a Rotary Club meeting last week in Anderson, Ind. The Herald Bulletin of Anderson reported on the event.
“We want to prevent this from happening again, which is what the families of the victims want,” Brooks said, according to the newspaper.
Meanwhile the chairmen of two Senate committees are threatening to compel testimony from a retired State Department computer specialist who has declined to be interviewed by GOP staff on the Senate Judiciary and Homeland Security committees.
John Bentel, a former information technology manager, testified to the Benghazi panel last year and has said through his lawyer that he sees “little point” in speaking to Senate investigators.
Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said their questions would “certainly be different” from those asked by the Benghazi panel and noted that Bentel “may have specific knowledge” about Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
If Bentel refuses to be interviewed, “we will consider other options” to force his testimony, the senators said. Grassley chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, while Johnson heads the homeland security panel.
The Education Department plans to remove the independent monitor in charge of overseeing the turnaround of schools owned by the for-profit college company Corinthian Colleges. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
WASHINGTON — The Education Department is removing a law firm hired to oversee the turnaround of schools owned by Corinthian Colleges Inc., a for-profit education company whose financial collapse had placed at risk more than $1 billion in federal student loans.
An Associated Press investigation identified conflicts with the ostensibly independent monitor.
The department said it was removing the firm, Hogan Marren Babbo & Rose Ltd. of Chicago, after the AP reviewed with senior agency officials its findings last week after a nine-month investigation examining the Obama administration’s response to Corinthian’s extraordinary collapse in 2014 amid allegations of mismanagement and fraud. The department had previously said only that it intended to review the firm’s performance going forward.
The chairman of the firm’s education practice, Charles P. Rose, declined Monday to discuss his firm’s removal. A spokeswoman for Zenith did not respond to an email and phone call asking how much the company had been paid.
The monitor has been overseeing the business practices of Zenith Education Group, an offshoot of a student-loan debt collection firm that took over Corinthian’s operations. It was serving as the U.S. government’s close-up eyes and ears, reviewing Zenith’s marketing materials and admissions phone calls and the accuracy of graduation and employment statistics.
“I’ve notified Zenith and Hogan Marren that we do not intend to approve renewal of Hogan Marren as the independent monitor,” Education Undersecretary Ted Mitchell told the AP. “We believe we need a monitor with different capacities to serve in this next phase of Zenith’s development.”
The mess of how to deal with Zenith and its struggling for-profit former peers is among the most serious problems confronting the Education Department and its new leadership. John B. King Jr., who won Senate confirmation late Monday as education secretary, was hired as an adviser in January 2015, after the department had set Zenith’s path under then-Secretary Arne Duncan.
The AP’s review of Zenith found that the way the monitor had been hired created an attorney-client privilege relationship that shielded its work from outside scrutiny and obligated it to act in Zenith’s interest.
After the AP questioned the arrangement, the Education Department and Zenith altered the terms of its monitoring arrangement last fall. Contract addendums expressly warned that Zenith was not permitted to edit Hogan Marren’s compliance reports before they were presented to the department. Nor could the firm solicit additional work from Zenith during its monitoring. The changes also allowed the government to request copies of the firm’s underlying work product.
The AP found that the firm also had advocated on behalf of for-profit colleges, helped broker the purchase of Corinthian’s assets and argued in a legal brief that for-profit schools had a free speech right not to inform prospective students about poor graduate employment outcomes.
Also, two lawyers overseeing the new for-profit operations, Rose and Dennis Cariello, were former Education Department officials who had worked at law firms employed by Corinthian in the months before it collapsed financially. Neither Zenith nor the attorneys would tell the AP whether they had personally performed legal work for Corinthian.
“The Department of Education can’t accept them as independent, period,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and a critic of for-profit college practices.
The Education Department said it will hire a new monitor with a more prosecutorial mindset, though it has not outlined the structure of the arrangement or identified potential candidates.
The AP’s investigation found that significant problems remain at the formerly for-profit college — including its flagship Everest College brand — even after Zenith’s takeover. Zenith still recruits students through large-scale telemarketing. Major changes to its curriculum have not yet occurred. It has retained senior Corinthian executives in key posts. And it continues to recruit students using some of the same ads that Corinthian ran during the same daytime TV talk shows.
Recent graduates told the AP they are struggling to find work that would allow them to pay back their student loans, raising the prospect that the government is seeding a new crop of loan defaults.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show’s writer and star, is joining President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for the event. The cast will perform songs for the first family and answer questions from schoolchildren.
The musical tells the true story of Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first treasury secretary. It is told by a young African-American and Latino cast and has a varied score that ranges from pop ballads to sexy R&B to rap battles.
The Obamas have been big boosters of the show. The president took daughters Sasha and Malia to see it last year after Michelle Obama caught it last spring.
FRONTLINE, APM’s Marketplace and PBS NewsHour are joining forces to investigate the American economy. Here’s a sneak peek at our new collaboration. Leave your feedback in the comments below.
Eight years ago, the country was in financial free fall. Now, with the 2016 presidential election looming, America’s economic landscape is much different: unemployment is below five percent; job growth is rising; and corporate profits and housing prices are booming.
But not far below the surface is a much less glowing economic reality: an America where wages are stagnant, and more work is temporary and part-time. If you’ve been unemployed for a long time, you’re likely to stay that way — and the gap between the rich and everyone else is wider than ever.
In the run-up to the November elections and continuing through the presidential inauguration in January 2017, we’ll bring you “How the Deck Is Stacked” — a series of collaborative, multiplatform reports with Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal investigating this new American economy, the forces that are shaping it, and the lives of the people living in it.
Starting today, our collaboration — jointly funded by PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) — will produce stories that will be broadcast on PBS NewsHour, published on FRONTLINE’s website, aired on Marketplace and distributed across each organization’s social media platforms.
These stories will explore different facets of the individual economic unease that persists across the country, despite booming big-picture indicators. We’ll bring our unique strengths to telling these stories together across radio, digital, and broadcast platforms in the coming months. You’ll hear from both the decision makers and institutions that led us here and the citizens who are struggling to get ahead in this new reality of the American economy. You’ll come away with fresh insights about “How the Deck Is Stacked.”
We’re excited to launch this new series today, with a look at Americans’ economic anxiety, drawn from Marketplace’s companion radio series “My Economy” and the original polling it conducts with Edison Research.
Hear more from Kai today on both APM’s Marketplace [link] and on tonight’s PBS NewsHour (check local listings) in an interview with him and PBS NewsHour co-anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff.
We hope you’ll join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #TheDeck.
Deborah Clark, Executive Producer and Vice President, APM’s Marketplace
“I am a journalist, Mr. Trump. And over the last two years I’ve conducted extensive interviews with hundreds of Muslims, chosen at random on the streets of Iran, Iraq, Pakistan,” Stanton wrote. “And I can confirm—the hateful one is you.”
“You are not a ‘unifier.’ You are not ‘presidential,'” he added.
I try my hardest not to be political. I’ve refused to interview several of your fellow candidates. I didn’t want to risk any personal goodwill by appearing to take sides in a contentious election. I thought: ‘Maybe the timing is not right.’ But I realize now that there is no correct time to oppose violence and prejudice. The time is always now. Because along with millions of Americans, I’ve come to realize that opposing you is no longer a political decision. It is a moral one.
I’ve watched you retweet racist images. I’ve watched you retweet racist lies. I’ve watched you take 48 hours to disavow white supremacy. I’ve watched you joyfully encourage violence, and promise to ‘pay the legal fees’ of those who commit violence on your behalf. I’ve watched you advocate the use of torture and the murder of terrorists’ families. I’ve watched you gleefully tell stories of executing Muslims with bullets dipped in pig blood. I’ve watched you compare refugees to ‘snakes,’ and claim that ‘Islam hates us.’
I am a journalist, Mr. Trump. And over the last two years I have conducted extensive interviews with hundreds of Muslims, chosen at random, on the streets of Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan. I’ve also interviewed hundreds of Syrian and Iraqi refugees across seven different countries. And I can confirm— the hateful one is you.
Those of us who have been paying attention will not allow you to rebrand yourself. You are not a ‘unifier.’ You are not ‘presidential.’ You are not a ‘victim’ of the very anger that you’ve joyfully enflamed for months. You are a man who has encouraged prejudice and violence in the pursuit of personal power. And though your words will no doubt change over the next few months, you will always remain who you are.
For some, Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth. For others, it’s the world’s oldest colony. The one thing Puerto Ricans don’t want the island to be: just another political talking point. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.
Nearly 5 million Puerto Ricans live in the mainland United States, a million of those in Florida alone. And that number is quickly climbing. Puerto Rico, the U.S.’s Caribbean territory, is struggling. It’s more than $70 billion in debt and has been in the midst of a brutal recession for nearly a decade. Health care is on the brink of collapse. The economic crisis is so bad natives are fleeing to the mainland in record numbers.
Yet come election season, the island can usually expect either temporary pandering (often called “Hispandering“) during primaries or being overlooked entirely. According to the blog Latino Rebels, candidates often talk a good game, but Puerto Rico remains largely a political football that’s punted well into future presidencies.
But now an average of 1,000 Puerto Ricans are arriving in Florida each month. With so much at stake for the island and its diaspora, where exactly do the candidates stand on resolving Puerto Rico’s debt and statehood battle?
Sen. Marco Rubio won Puerto Rico’s primary this month in a blowout. Most Puerto Ricans who’ve left have moved to Rubio’s home state. So the senator has made a hard push for their support.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio supports authorizing Puerto Ricans to vote up or down on statehood, but is against any proposed bailout measures for its struggling economy. Photo by Alvin Baez / Reuters
Rubio has gone on record explicitly opposing of any economic bailout. In a September op-ed to “El Nuevo Dia,” and while campaigning in San Juan, he urged Puerto Rico to get its own fiscal house in order, calling on local leaders, including Democratic Governor Alejandro Javier García Padilla, to hunker down on spending instead of seeking the same bankruptcy protections typically afforded to U.S. states. Some criticize his stance as a conflict of interest. He’s come under fire for receiving campaign contributions from hedge fund executives who hold some of Puerto Rico’s massive debt.
While Rubio supports the island becoming America’s 51st state, he’s previously deviated from GOP colleagues on exactly when to exercise that option. Rubio has stated in the past that any change in Puerto Rico’s status should come following an absolute majority vote, instead of the minimum 51 percent. Many Puerto Ricans argue that they already voted in favor of statehood back in 2012. But Puerto Ricans debate the validity of the ballot measure because voters also had the option of choosing declaring complete independence. Instead, Rubio favors Congress authorizing a straight yes-or-no referendum on statehood.
“Ultimately, Puerto Rico’s status must be resolved, and its unequal treatment by the federal government must end. As president, I will continue to speak clearly about the importance of enabling Puerto Ricans to resolve their status.”
– Sen. Marco Rubio
Governor John Kasich and Donald Trump haven’t explicitly endorsed Puerto Rican statehood, but do advocate for the commonwealth’s self-determination. Kasich enlisted prominent leaders of the island’s Republican party as campaign staffers who are also strong pro-statehood activists.
The Trump brand is largely negative on the island thanks to a bankruptcy scandal revolving around a golf resort the presidential candidate doesn’t even own. As Carl Cannon of Real Clear Politics pointed out, how can a company loosely associated with the billionaire file for Chapter 11, but an entire U.S. territory with a 45 percent poverty rate can’t file for Chapter 9?
Another factor that puts Trump at odds with the Puerto Rican electorate are his comments against birthright citizenship. Residents of all U.S. territories including Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands are automatically U.S. citizens at birth. Any constitutional amendment, as Trump promised, could change that.
Sen. Ted Cruz hasn’t gone on record with any stance on Puerto Rican statehood. And neither Cruz, Trump nor Kasich have offered specific positions on how to alleviate Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.
Wednesday’s Democratic debate, hosted by the Washington Post and Spanish-language network Univision, tackled issues important to Latino voters but primarily focused on immigration and foreign policy with countries like Cuba and Mexico. Puerto Rico was reduced to only one question. The candidates were asked if they’d support a bailout of the island’s massive debt. Hillary Clinton vowed to assist the territory within her first 100 days in office and called the Republican-lead Congress’ treatment of the island as “a grave injustice.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supports Puerto Rico restructuring its debt through the same Chapter 9 bankruptcy code afforded to U.S states. Photo by Alvin Baez/Reuters
In a statement she criticized the federal government for what she called “inconsistent — and incoherent — treatment of Puerto Rico in federal laws and programs,” including Medicare and Medicaid. She’s said it’s not a bailout but “a fair shot at success.”
“The challenge is multi-faceted, and will ultimately require Puerto Rico to find a way to pay back its debtors in an orderly fashion. As a first step, Congress should provide Puerto Rico the same authority that states already have to enable severely distressed government entities, including municipalities and public corporations, to restructure their debts under Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code.”
– Hillary Clinton
But when it comes to Puerto Rico’s future, Clinton insisted that’s a decision for Puerto Ricans to make themselves. In the same statement she said “that question needs to be resolved in accordance with the expressed will of our fellow citizens, the people of Puerto Rico.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders is a long-time supporter of Puerto Rico’s statehood. He also backs a bailout, saying the commonwealth “should be afforded the same bankruptcy protections that exist for municipalities across the United States.” In October, Sanders wrote a letter to Congress urging them to put an end to austerity measures that have cut spending on public services like health care.
“But we also should recognize that the reason Puerto Rico has such unsustainable debt has everything to do with the policies of austerity and the greed of large financial institutions. Puerto Rico has been in a severe recession for almost a decade. Today, more than 45 percent of the people in Puerto Rico are living in poverty, the childhood poverty rate is greater than 56 percent and real unemployment is much too high. Our goal must be not only to give Puerto Rico the flexibility it needs to restructure its debt, but to make sure that it can rebuild its economy, create good-paying jobs and expand its tax base.”
– Sen. Bernie Sanders
The bottom line: Puerto Rico is important. Its residents can serve in the U.S. military but can’t vote for its commander in chief. So while they may be pandered to for primary delegrates, will their voices remain silenced in the primary election? With Floridians set to head to the polls this week, Puerto Rico’s economic recovery and lingering statehood question may be too big for candidates to ignore.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Photo by Jonathan Drake/Reuters
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Authorities in North Carolina say they are looking at Donald Trump’s behavior as they continue their probe of a violent altercation at one of his rallies last week.
The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said in a Monday statement that its investigators are continuing to look at the rally last Wednesday in Fayetteville, during which a man was hit in the face while being escorted out.
“We are continuing to look at the totality of these circumstances … including the potential of whether there was conduct on the part of Mr. Trump or the Trump campaign which rose to the level of inciting a riot,” the statement said.
A sheriff’s department spokesman didn’t return a message seeking further comment. A spokeswoman for the local prosecutor referred questions to the sheriff’s office.
Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said: “They have not reached out to us at all.”
Authorities have already charged a rally attendee with assault, disorderly conduct and communicating threats after he was caught on video hitting a man being led out by deputies at the event in Fayetteville.
At one point during the rally, Trump described a previous event in which a protester traded punches with his supporters. Trump told the audience: “They started punching back. It was a beautiful thing.”
In a statement, Trump’s campaign said, “the arena was rented for a private event, paid for by the campaign and these people attended with the intent to cause trouble. They were only there to agitate and anger the crowd. It is the protesters and agitators who are in violation, not Mr. Trump or the campaign.”
President Barack Obama’s choice to serve as Education Secretary said he rose to his current position because New York City public school teachers “literally saved my life.” Photo by Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate narrowly voted Monday to confirm John B. King Jr. as the nation’s education secretary.
The vote was 49-40. King has served as acting secretary at the Education Department since Arne Duncan stepped down in December.
As secretary, King will oversee the department as it puts in place a bipartisan education law passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in December. The measure revamps the widely criticized No Child Left Behind Act and substantially limits the federal government’s role in public schools.
Obama nominated King last month. After the vote, Obama said King “will continue to lead our efforts to work toward high-quality preschool for all, prepare our kids for college and a career, make college more affordable, and protect Americans from the burdens of student debt.”
Monday’s vote comes as an Associated Press investigation finds little change in the business and marketing practices at a for-profit college that the Education Department helped rescue from near-collapse, despite pledges to ditch the hard-charging sales tactics that have led to complaints for lawmakers and former students.
Zenith Education Group had promised to transform Everest University, one of the schools in the for-profit chain of Corinthian Colleges Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection last year amid fraud allegations. But the AP review has found that significant problems remain, including contentious recruitment tactics and the retention of several senior Corinthian executives in key posts. The department on Monday removed the independent monitor overseeing the business practices of Zenith.
The Senate’s quick action on the King nomination stands in sharp contrast to united Republican opposition to an eventual Obama Supreme Court nominee. GOP lawmakers in the Senate, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have said they won’t consider Obama’s choice to fill the vacancy — no confirmation hearing, no vote, not even meeting with the nominee. They argue that the American voters in November should decide who selects the next justice.
At the same time, more than 30 judicial nominees to other courts remain in limbo, with no Senate action imminent.
Last month, the Senate confirmed a new Food and Drug Administration commissioner, overwhelmingly backing Dr. Robert Califf for the top post. But other nominees, for Army secretary and head of the Office of Personnel Management, remain on hold, caught up in unrelated political fights.
King began his education career as a high school social studies teacher and later was a principal, founded a charter school and served as New York State’s education commissioner, overseeing elementary and secondary schools.
In New York, he battled with teachers, unions and parents over standardized testing, 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 for Washington that it had “disagreed sharply and publicly with the commissioner on many issues.”
King grew up in Brooklyn and credits public school teachers with saving his life. His mother had a heart attack and died when he was 8 years old, and his father passed away four years later. He said his teachers helped him feel “safe, nurtured and challenged” during a very turbulent time as a young boy.
Tyrannosaurus rex, the behemoth king of the late ages of the dinosaurs, grew its brain before its noteworthy body. That’s according to scientists at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, who today unveiled the fossils for a new species in this family of apex predators: Timurlengia euotica.
Though this new species isn’t a direct ancestor of T.rex, it fills a mystifying hole in the evolutionary record of the Tyrannosaur superfamily. The oldest known members of this group of carnivorous dinosaurs were tiny, about the size of dogs, and roamed from 170 million years ago to 100 million years ago. Fossils show that the 13-foot-tall T. rex and other large tyrannosaurs reigned supreme 80 million years ago, but until today, no one had found remains to bridge the 20-million-year gap.
Living 90 million years ago and being similar in size to a horse, Timurlengia euotica fills this evolutionary void, said Hans Sues, chair of the department of paleobiology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Hues and his colleagues collected the fossils of the new species in Kyzylkum Desert of Uzbekistan. Over the course nine years — 1997 to 2006 — his team scraped away sand from an ancient river system to uncover the 15 bones that define this new specimen.
Reconstructed skeleton of Timurlengia euotica with discovered fossilized bones, highlighted in red, and other bones remaining to be discovered inferred from other related species of tyrannosaurs in white. Individual scale bars for the pictured fossilized bones each equal 2 centimeters. Photo courtesy of Brusatte et al., PNAS, 2016.
Life reconstruction of the new tyrannosaur Timurlengia euotica in its environment 90 million years ago. It is accompanied by two flying reptiles (Azhdarcho longicollis). The fossilized remains of a new horse-sized dinosaur, Timurlengia euotica, reveal how Tyrannosaurus rex and its close relatives became top predators, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Painting by Todd Marshall
Sues said the river bed’s loose gravel was crucial because stiffer rocks, like those laden with iron, can impede fossil excavation. “The ground wasn’t enriched in iron, which makes it harder to remove rock from bone. We could have used mini-jack hammers to brush away debris like iron, but then you might damage the fossil,” Sues told PBS NewsHour at today’s unveiling.
Field camp of the Uzbek-Russian-British-American-Canadian expedition at Dzharakuduk in the Kyzylkum Desert of Uzbekistan. The fossils of Timurlengia eutica were found about midway along the cliffs in the background. Photo courtesy of Brusatte et al., PNAS, 2016.
Hans Sues, a scientist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, excavating a dinosaur fossil at Dzharakuduk in the Kyzylkum Desert of Uzbekistan, September 2006. Photo by Hans Sues, Smithsonian.
These gentle geologic conditions arguably yielded the marquee prize amongst the bones: a well-preserved braincase of Timurlengia euotica. A braincase is the part of the skull that encloses the squishy material of the brain, and its architecture can say a lot about how an animal perceives the world. For instance, Sues showed off two holes in the T. euotica braincase where nerves used to run from the brain to the creature’s eyes.
“Based on the size of these holds and the corresponding nerves, T. euotica had relatively large eyes,” Sues said, compared smaller predecessors.
Hans Sues, a paleobiologist at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, holds up a 3D-printed version Timurlengia euotica’s brain case. Sues is pointing to two openings in the brain case where cranial nerves led to the dinosaur’s eyes. Photo by Nsikan Akpan
Tyrannosaurus Rex tooth (left) rests next to an actual tooth of the new tyrannosaur Timurlengia euotica from the Late Cretaceous Period that was found in the Kyzylkum Desert, Uzbekistan. Photo by Nsikan Akpan
This Timurlengia euotica specimen also had a long cochlea, a part of the inner ear. This extra space may have allowed T. euotica to hear low-frequency sounds, such as the patter of its prey footsteps. Such a hunting advantage might mean more food, and eventually, a larger body size. Another theory is the long cochlea helped the dinosaurs decipher complex vocalizations from others.
Together, these cranial features resemble ones found in the larger Tyrannosaurs like T. rex, though the overall brain sizes between the two species differed significantly. T. rex had a basketball-size brain, while T. euotica’s was closer to a grapefruit.
“Only after these ancestral tyrannosaurs evolved their clever brains and sharp senses did they grow into the colossal sizes of T. rex. Tyrannosaurs had to get smart before they got big, ” paleontologist Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh said in a statement. Brusatte’s team studied the fossils and identified the new species. Collectively, the investigations suggest that Tyrannosaurs didn’t gain their massive size until relatively late in their 70-million-year existence on Earth.
The findings were published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.