Articles on this Page
- 03/22/16--06:12: _U.S. cities step up...
- 03/22/16--07:13: _WATCH LIVE: Obama t...
- 03/22/16--07:22: _Disputed health law...
- 03/22/16--14:06: _Can big data save t...
- 03/22/16--15:13: _‘Rosies’ given hero...
- 03/22/16--15:20: _How the Pacific Nor...
- 03/22/16--15:25: _Uncertain times for...
- 03/22/16--15:30: _Can an innovative P...
- 03/22/16--15:35: _With all Cuba watch...
- 03/22/16--15:35: _Is today’s historic...
- 03/22/16--15:40: _How the Brussels at...
- 03/22/16--15:45: _News Wrap: Trump su...
- 03/22/16--15:50: _Europe bolsters sec...
- 03/22/16--19:51: _Trump tweets, delet...
- 03/22/16--19:53: _Clinton, Trump add ...
- 03/23/16--04:44: _Jeb Bush endorses C...
- 03/23/16--05:31: _WATCH LIVE: Ryan to...
- 03/23/16--06:06: _Here’s what links t...
- 03/23/16--14:38: _Muslim Americans sh...
- 03/23/16--14:57: _Despite Trump’s tig...
- 03/22/16--06:12: U.S. cities step up security after Brussels attacks
- 03/22/16--07:22: Disputed health law rule would broaden transgender rights
- 03/22/16--14:06: Can big data save these children?
- 03/22/16--15:13: ‘Rosies’ given hero’s welcome in their first honor flight to D.C.
- 03/22/16--15:20: How the Pacific Northwest is preparing for a catastrophic tsunami
- 03/22/16--15:25: Uncertain times for refugees on the migrant trail in Greece
- 03/22/16--15:35: With all Cuba watching, Obama offers hopeful possibilities in speech
- 03/22/16--15:35: Is today’s historic baseball game in Cuba mostly a symbolic moment?
- 03/22/16--15:40: How the Brussels attacks affect the global fight against terror
- 03/22/16--15:45: News Wrap: Trump suggests torture as anti-terror tactic
- 03/22/16--15:50: Europe bolsters security after Brussels terror attacks
- 03/22/16--19:51: Trump tweets, deletes, reposts threat at Cruz
- 03/22/16--19:53: Clinton, Trump add to delegate leads with Arizona victories
- 03/23/16--04:44: Jeb Bush endorses Cruz for president
- 03/23/16--06:06: Here’s what links the Brussels suspects to the Paris attack
- Two of the three suspects pictured in surveillance footage identified as brothers.
- A third suspect is still at large.
- The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks.
- 03/23/16--14:38: Muslim Americans show Ted Cruz their neighborhoods on Twitter
Officials in New York City and Washington, D.C., bolstered security measures on Tuesday after explosions in the Brussels airport and subway killed dozens.
The New York Police Department has sent additional security to transit hubs and crowded areas around the city, according to a statement from NYPD deputy commissioner for public information Stephen P. Davis. But there is “no known indication that the attack has any nexus to New York City,” Davis said.
Davis added that these attacks come as the federal government is cutting anti-terrorism funding to the city. “Any cut in terrorism funding to New York — to what is widely recognized as the nation’s top terror target — would be irresponsible,” he said.
The New York Police Department also released a statement on Twitter:
There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.
In Washington, police said that there were no credible threats to the metro, but they sent additional patrols as well as sweeps by K-9 teams, which work to detect explosives, as precautionary measures.
There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.
President Barack Obama has been briefed on the Brussels attacks in Cuba, where he arrived Sunday. The FBI and Justice Department are also coordinating with their counterparts in Belgium.
The post U.S. cities step up security after Brussels attacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
PBS NewsHour will live stream President Obama as he speaks in Havana, scheduled for 10:10 a.m. EDT today. We will also live stream reports and press conferences on the Brussels attacks all day today.
HAVANA — Nudging Cuba toward democracy, President Barack Obama will cast a spotlight on political repression and economic deprivation here when he meets with dissidents and speaks to the Cuban people at the close of a trailblazing trip.
Obama’s rationale for coming to Havana was grounded in the notion that direct interaction with Cubans would do more to empower them and bring about change than decades of isolation ever did. So Obama’s speech Tuesday at the Grand Theater of Havana offers his best chance to make his case for the U.S. and Cuba putting the vestiges of the Cold War behind them.
His meeting later with Cuban dissidents critical of President Raul Castro’s government was a prerequisite for the trip, the White House said, pushing back on suggestions that Obama is rewarding a system whose limits on dissent run counter to American values.
“The United States will continue to speak up on behalf of democracy, including the right of the Cuban people to decide their own future,” Obama said, standing next to Castro in the Palace of the Revolution. “We’ll speak out on behalf of universal human rights, including freedom of speech and assembly and religion.”
Any question about whether Obama would use his trip to Cuba to ramp up pressure on Cuba’s government ended Monday during an extraordinary joint news conference that the White House negotiated for weeks with Cuban officials to arrange. On live state-run television, Castro faced forceful questioning from American journalists about the slow pace of change in Cuba and detention of political prisoners.
It was a shocking moment in a communist country where few publicly question the authority of Raul Castro or his brother, revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. Though Raul Castro seemed unsettled at times by the free-wheeling exchange, White House aides said it was a powerful reminder that open discourse and strong leadership are not mutually exclusive.
“This is pure history,” said Marlene Pino, a 47-year-old Havana engineer. It’s been nearly a century since the last sitting president to visit Cuba, Calvin Coolidge, arrived on a battleship.
Cuban officials made no comments about the interchange, but it was left out of extensive state television reports on the day’s events and went virtually unmentioned in state newspapers — signs of official discomfort with the scene.
It was unclear exactly which Cuban dissidents would attend Obama’s meeting at the U.S. Embassy, a matter of intense speculation and scrutiny ahead of the president’s trip. Though Cuba has been criticized for briefly detaining demonstrators thousands of times a year, its practice of handing down long prison sentences has diminished dramatically in recent years.
The issue of political prisoners is hugely important to Cuban-Americans and the international community. Yet most people on the island are more concerned about the shortage of goods and their struggles with local bureaucracy.
Though Cuban officials warned Obama firmly against trying to bypass the government and lobby Cubans directly, his speech was expected to be carried live on TV, offering Obama an unfettered chance to lay out his vision for Cuba’s future. Obama’s aides said he’d revisit America’s painful history with Cuba and explain why rapprochement would serve both countries, while working to heal divisions between Cuban citizens and their exiled relatives in the U.S.
Since the two leaders moved to normalize relations 15 months ago, Obama has moved aggressively to ease U.S restrictions on Cuba. Castro has moved ahead with broad-based economic and social reforms.
Yet the Obama administration is unsatisfied by Cuba’s pace of change. And Castro’s government has bristled at the suggestion it must undergo further changes while the U.S. Congress keeps the detested trade embargo in place.
Deep differences notwithstanding, Obama’s visit is lending itself to powerful illustrations of what future might be possible for the two countries that sit just 90 miles apart. On Monday, the Star-Spangled Banner rang out in the presidential palace and the two leaders stood together in front of American and Cuban flags, signs of a relationship approaching something like normalcy.
Before departing Cuba on Tuesday afternoon for Argentina, Obama and his family were to attend a baseball game at Havana’s Latin American Stadium between the national team and Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays, cheering in the stands alongside baseball-crazed Cubans.
Associated Press writers Julie Pace, Andrea Rodriguez and Peter Orsi contributed to this report.
The post WATCH LIVE: Obama to nudge Cuba on freedoms in direct appeal to citizens appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Big companies are pushing back against proposed federal rules they say would require their medical plans to cover gender transition and other services under the nondiscrimination mandate of President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Civil rights advocates representing transgender people say the regulation, now being finalized by the Health and Human Services Department, would be a major step forward for a marginalized community beginning to gain acceptance as celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner tell their stories.
The issue mixes rapidly changing social mores and subtle interpretations of complex federal laws, including the Affordable Care Act. Obama has been recognized as the first president openly supportive of transgender rights.
The latest dispute over the health care law may have to be resolved by the courts. The law’s nondiscrimination section applies federal civil rights protections to programs under the health overhaul. The legal text refers to entities “receiving federal financial assistance,” interpreted to include insurers, state Medicaid agencies, hospitals and other service providers. It doesn’t mention major private employers that run their own health plans.
A group representing big employers said its members don’t have particular qualms about gender transition. But large employers do object to what they see as an overreach by the Obama administration, since their health plans don’t get federal financial assistance.
There’s nothing in the health law “that says ‘large employers, you are subject to this’,” said Gretchen Young, health policy vice president for the ERISA Industry Committee. “People are getting concerned there will be a whole body of things that will come up in the future.” Another concern: that a bar against discrimination on account of nationality could mean having to provide translation in up to 15 languages.
That’s where the connection to the health law’s nondiscrimination rule comes in.
Insurance companies that sponsor plans sold under the Obama law, or available through Medicare Advantage, do receive federal payments, what the law terms “financial assistance.”
In a formal explanation, HHS said the regulation would apply to such an insurer “for all of its health plans, as well as when it acts as a third party administrator for an employer-sponsored group health plan.”
The insurance industry doesn’t relish the role of middleman enforcer.
It would be an added burden for insurers who participate in federal programs, said Clare Krusing, spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans. A large employer might be reluctant to hire such insurers as administrators if that undermines control of their health plans — and raises costs.
“It creates an uneven playing field” for insurers, said Krusing.
An increasing number of large employers are voluntarily covering transgender treatment, following medical recognition that it can lead to healthier outcomes overall for the individuals involved. The number was up to 418 last year, from none in 2002, according to HHS. Medicare began covering medically necessary sex-reassignment surgery in 2014. Traditionally its medical necessity was questioned, and it carried a social stigma.
Costs are hard to assess because relatively few individuals pursue gender transition and the degree of medical intervention can differ dramatically in each case. Individual costs can range to tens of thousands of dollars.
Dru Levasseur, director of the Transgender Rights Project for the civil rights group Lambda Legal, said the proposed regulation would be “a sea change for the insurance industry.” But if Medicare and plans sold under the health law cover gender transition treatments, so should large employers, he said.
“These exclusions are not in line with the medical community’s understanding, and it’s time for them to be removed,” said Levasseur.
With the Obama administration in its last year, officials are under pressure to finalize the health law’s nondiscrimination rule. The legislation itself is six years old.
Jocelyn Samuels, head of the HHS civil rights office, said in a statement that the agency is reviewing feedback on its proposal. “This is another example of this administration’s commitment to giving every American access to the health care they deserve,” she said.
The post Disputed health law rule would broaden transgender rights appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Humming away in a brick building near the banks of Pittsburgh’s Monongahela River, two servers filled with personal data hold the potential to improve the lives of the state’s most vulnerable children.
Harnessing what’s on these servers would represent an ambitious use of big data, one that could possibly safeguard thousands of kids from abuse and neglect and transform a foster care system in need of help. But tapping into that data could come at a cost.
On March 9, 1994, police found a toddler in a hotel bed in suburban Pittsburgh. She had been dead for more than 24 hours. The 2-year-old, Shawntee Ford, had 52 injuries, including a bruise so deep and massive that a pathologist could only compare it to injuries suffered by fatal car crash victims. Her organs were lacerated and had hemorrhaged. Her tiny left wrist had snapped.
Just one month earlier, on Feb. 2, a family court judge in Pittsburgh had awarded Booker custody of his daughter, who was previously in foster care. But there was a critical oversight. County child welfare workers had never completed Booker’s background check nor had they provided records of his violent criminal history.
The child’s death had cascading effects on Allegheny County’s child protective services department. An investigation concluded that the county’s actions were partly responsible for the child’s murder. Meanwhile, Mary E. Freeland, Allegheny County Children and Youth Services director, resigned and moved to Florida. In 1996, a national search committee hired her replacement: Marc Cherna.
It was the mid-1990s, and the average caseworker struggled to manage more than 30 foster care cases each, exceeding state-mandated safety limits. It was common for foster children to age out of the system on their 18th birthday without reuniting with their biological families. These children would disproportionately grow up to become homeless, in jail or addicted to drugs. The public had little trust in the agency.
“When I came here, we were known as a national disgrace,” said Marc Cherna, who had just arrived from New Jersey’s Department of Human Services.
Children in foster care face a grim set of statistics. Just half of foster children graduate from high school by age 18, and fewer than 10 percent earn a Bachelor’s degree. One national study found that about one in five foster youth will become homeless after age 18, and one in four will spend time behind bars less than two years after aging out of foster care.
When Cherna first asked Allegheny County residents to share their thoughts on their foster care system, people packed into standing room-only meetings to participate. They hurled insults at Cherna and his staff, calling them “child-snatchers,” he said. You took my kids, someone told him. “Now I can’t get them back.”
Restoring systems and trust
Cherna had a theory. He believed society’s most complex problems could be tackled with the least forgiving of tools: data.
Before 1996, Allegheny County used computerized systems to keep track of bill payments and basic client information. But only paper records existed for the more than 3,000 kids in foster and group homes. It was an outdated system.
When Cherna arrived, he embarked on a series of reforms. His team whittled away at the county’s five-year backlog of adoption cases, with the help of a law firm that worked on the project pro bono.
They built a giant server that ultimately united 29 individual systems onto a single platform. Among them, SNAP food stamps, public safety and housing and unemployment benefits. A data warehouse, they called it. It meant caseworkers could see if their clients lived in public housing, received unemployment benefits and food stamps, or had grown up in foster care without spending time running down records from other offices.
Meanwhile, Cherna attended churches and town hall meetings and visited the local NAACP chapter. When local talk radio hosts put him on air, phones rang off the hook. He set up a phone line and staffed it with experienced caseworkers. He distributed a parental book of rights to families whose children were in foster care. And slowly, he started to earn the public’s trust.
At the same time, in a cost-cutting move, the county’s Office of Children and Youth Services, which oversaw foster care, became part of a brand new department, the Department of Human Services. Cherna was promoted to direct it.
Cherna brought to Allegheny County a culture of transparency and openness, said David Sanders, who oversees systems improvement for Casey Family Programs, one of the nation’s largest foster care organizations. He embraced data and encouraged staff to do the same, he added, laying the groundwork for more evidence-based decision-making.
By 2013, Allegheny County Department of Human Services served more than 200,000 residents on an $800 million budget.
From 2004 to 2014, the number of children in foster care nationwide dropped by about 20 percent, according to the most recently available federal data. Kim Stevens, project director for Advocates for Families First, which supports adoptive and foster parents and kids, attributes improved numbers to better government data that track who is in foster care and more agencies that share and implement best practices.
In Allegheny County, since Cherna arrived, the total number of children in foster care has seen a much sharper decline – 61 percent. The average caseworker now manages far fewer families – about a dozen each.
Building a better crystal ball
Still, Cherna says he’s only scratched the surface when it comes to improving the foster care system. The next critical step, he believes, relies on a concept known as predictive analytics: using data to anticipate trouble before it happens.
To keep kids out of foster care, to intervene and shore up families before they collapse, requires the ability to predict a child’s future. A crystal ball. Cherna found his solution in the form of a data model created by an economist half a world away. New Zealand economist Rhema Vaithianathan built two computer models that can predict a child’s likelihood of entering foster care.
One predicts at birth the chances that a child will be abused or neglected and ultimately end up in foster care. The model does this by weighing a number of factors: Among them, does the child live with one or both parents? Has the family undergone prior child welfare investigations? Does the family receive public benefits? The second model uses similar information but activates only when a call is placed about a child’s safety. But – and this is critical – that call often doesn’t come until after the abuse has occurred.
The first model was deemed too much too fast. It’s a version of this second, more incremental model that Cherna is hoping to unveil this spring.
Here’s how it would work. Each year, Allegheny County child welfare dispatchers receive more than 10,000 phone calls from people who suspect child abuse. These calls typically come from teachers, neighbors, doctors and family members. Under the new plan, as soon as a call came in, the program would crunch a number of data points, weighing different indicators, to produce a risk score. Indicators in an early version of the model include parents’ age, race, criminal history and marital and welfare status.
The call would then be evaluated by a team of screeners. During the evaluation process, the team would consider the nature of the call itself, but also the degree of risk. A high risk score could single out a call that might otherwise be screened out. If the case is flagged as concerning, workers could launch an investigation into the child’s living situation. The fundamental question: is the child safe in his or her home?
When Cherna’s team applied an early version of the model to historic data, what they found was startling. Among children with the highest risk score, 40 percent were removed from their homes less than a year later. Among those with the lowest risk score, the likelihood of entering foster care was dramatically lower, at 0.3 percent. Cherna’s team had found their crystal ball.
Not a done deal
But implementing the plan is not a done deal. It still must be finalized, then peer reviewed. Plus, if what happened in New Zealand is any indicator, Cherna’s team could face some real pushback.
In New Zealand, applying the tool came to a standstill after questions were raised. Incorporating factors like race and income into child care decisions could stigmatize children and families, some said. Others opposed the use of a control group in the testing process that would result in some children receiving assistance based on their risk scores but not others. (“Not on my watch, these are children not lab rats,” New Zealand’s Social Development Minister Anne Tolley’s handwritten notes said, according to The Press newspaper in July.)
Vaithianathan acknowledged the concerns. “It’s quite controversial,” she said.
A May 2015 study built on New Zealand’s at-birth model was published in May 2015 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Researchers raised concerns that the use of predictive analytics to assess child abuse risk could over-represent minority groups and families on welfare to a degree “that is disproportionate to their true share of maltreatment.” And that “might have a ratchet effect that feeds a cycle of bias in surveillance.”
Predictive risk models “appear promising based on prototype research, but carry ethical risks and warrant careful feasibility study and trialing,” reads the study, which analyzed health, welfare and family criminal history data for about 94 percent of children in New Zealand from 2000 to 2012 and sought to determine whether those considered high risk had a higher likelihood of abuse by age 2.
Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst for speech, privacy and technology at the American Civil Liberties Union, cautions that while government agencies that offer social services are mission-bound to help people, the data must be applied wisely.
“The worst case scenario is that the score is just reflecting the prejudices or beliefs of whoever scored the algorithm,” he said. “It’s very important that these things be transparent so they can be scrutinized by the public and experts.”
In Allegheny County, attorney Scott Hollander has for 16 years represented children in the county’s juvenile courts through his advocacy group, Kids Voice. And he has questions, too: Could a risk score label a child for life? Would certain groups be affected disproportionately?
But supporters say the concerns pale in comparison to the potential. Catherine Volponi, a lawyer and director of parental rights advocacy group in Allegheny County, said the model is, by its very nature, profiling people. But if it’s used to provide services to families that need them, it would benefit the at-risk kids, she said: “You’re trying to build capacity within the family so that they never come into the child welfare system,” she said.
Hollander said he’s often introduced to families when parents are just on the brink of losing their parental rights. If intervention could occur at an earlier stage, he said, “perhaps there would be a better outcome for that family.”
Emily Putnam-Hornstein is one of the directors for the Children’s Data Network at the University of Southern California and has worked with Vaithianathan to develop Allegheny County’s predictive analytics model.
“We have 6 million children reported for abuse or neglect, and how you make triaging decisions early on absolutely impacts outcomes for that child and family,” she said. The use of predictive analytics in child welfare, she said, could “change the flow of children into the system.”
Sanders draws parallels between child welfare and the airline industry. In the 1990s, the airline industry played a vicious game of whack-a-mole, Sanders said. An airplane crashed, and people were killed or injured. A retrospective review investigated what happened, and a policy or practice was considered or implemented to address what went wrong. That process repeated itself hundreds of times.
Then, officials realized data could help them predict when problems might arise and change decisions or support for crews or equipment, resulting in fewer crashes, “and that’s what’s happened,” Sanders said.
“They are able to use data to anticipate where a problem might occur versus waiting for a problem to occur and then reviewing it. That’s the kind of work that can happen in child protection.”
Already, a few jurisdictions nationwide use data to help child welfare workers before a crisis unfolds, Sanders said. For example, in 2013, child welfare workers in Hillsborough County, Florida, responded to the deaths of nine children who already had open child welfare cases by developing the Rapid Safety Feedback system. Like Allegheny County’s plan, the system uses risk scores to prioritize calls about child abuse and make decisions on how best to support the child and family.
Since the system launched, no child has died after they were referred to child welfare workers, said Bryan Lindert, who oversees the system for Eckerd, the non-profit group that uses data to help manage the county’s child protection cases.
A recent report from the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities praised the system, saying it demonstrated how “the intricate dance between data and practice can keep an important sector of children safe.” And there’s interest to replicate these efforts in Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Oklahoma and Maine.
The Allegheny County plan has at least one major difference. It would take the Florida system a step further, pulling from law enforcement, health and education data, in addition to child welfare case history, Sanders said.
The new frontier
Two decades after Shawntee Ford’s murder, incidents of unthinkable abuse still occur in Allegheny County.
In 2013, a committee reviewed nine instances where four children died and five were severely injured due to abuse and neglect.
And of the nine incidents investigated, four of those children had not been involved with the county’s child welfare office in the prior 16 months.
Last fall, while working with old data from 2007 to 2014, Cherna’s team examined 41 cases where children died or nearly died as a result of abuse and neglect, including those nine children from the 2013 report. Had the at-birth model been applied, his team concluded, 30 of the children would have been flagged high risk.
Could that designation have led to inspection by child welfare workers? And could that inspection have saved these children’s lives? It’s hard to say, but it’s certainly possible.
The potential, Cherna said, “is just enormous. This is the new frontier.”
Watch: Can an innovative Pittsburgh program help repair the broken lives of foster kids?
Graphics by Vanessa Dennis
About 30 World War II “Rosie the Riveters” were greeted with a hero’s welcome at Reagan National Airport Tuesday. The women who helped America win the war more than 70 years ago were part of the honor flight program that, since 2005, has flown roughly 160,000 veterans to Washington, D.C., for daytrips to celebrate their service. This was the first flight specifically for the Rosies.
Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran, welcomes Rosies at Reagan National Airport. Video by Megan Patrick
Symbolized by the iconic “We Can Do It!” image, Rosies worked jobs traditionally done by men, like building bombers, tanks and other weapons of war. Seven decades later, these women were cheered by more than 50 people lined up outside the gate for the plane from Detroit.
“It’s important to take time to say thank you for your service and sacrifices,” said Megan Patrick. She has been meeting honor flights about once a month for the last four years and serves as a guardian, a volunteer who spends the day with a vet as they tour the nation’s capital.
“What’s unique for Rosies is the transition to work in factories, but they were also asked to leave,” said Patrick, referring to the women essentially losing their jobs. “That transition should also be addressed.”
The women came off the plane one-at-a-time, surrounded by two rows of people cheering. At the back of the line was Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), an Iraq war veteran wounded when her helicopter was shot down in 2004.
Patrick captured the above exchange between Duckworth and one of the Rosies on her cell phone.
The post ‘Rosies’ given hero’s welcome in their first honor flight to D.C. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
In the small fishing and logging community of Ocosta, Washington, residents are doing something about an invisible danger lurking just miles off their coastline — one of the most dangerous seismic faults in the world. The community agreed to raise local taxes to build North America’s first vertical tsunami evacuation shelter atop the local school’s new gymnasium. It will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can hold up to 2,000 people in the event of an earthquake and tsunami that follows. After the quake hits, residents will only have between 15 and 25 minutes to get there before the tsunami arrives on their shores.
But how real is the threat? The Cascadia fault sits just offshore, stretching 700 miles from Vancouver Island in Canada to northern California. Scientists have calculated it’s overdue for a rupture and the likelihood of a large quake happening in the next 50 years is 37 percent. FEMA estimates the number of people killed in a major quake and tsunami could reach 13,000 with a further 20,000 injured; 140,000 square miles would be affected.
The superintendent of schools in Ocosta, Paula Akerlund, said the 2011 tsunami in Japan guided their construction project. “One of the things that we knew from Japan is that some buildings were overtopped. So we tried to make the wall here high enough and then also I think it will serve another purpose because there will be children up here with us and they won’t really see what’s happening for awhile.”
The tsunami shelter is ready for use now with a ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled in June.
Farther up the Washington coast, the Quinault Indian Nation village of Taholah sits at the edge of the Pacific, only 6 feet above sea level. To combat the tsunami threat and rising sea levels the tribe has a five-year plan to move to higher ground. It’s a place the Quinault have lived for centuries and tribe president Fawn Sharp says, “Our membership sees the exciting opportunity of creating a new village and what that might look like. But so many of our memories are here in this village and the thought of it being under water, you know, there’s a lot of trauma to that prospect that a very sacred site could no longer exist.”
Read the full transcript below:
GWEN IFILL: It’s a question of when, not if, a major seismic disaster will strike the Pacific Northwest. Scientists put the odds of a big earthquake and tsunami occurring within the next 50 years at 37 percent.
So, what are coastal communities doing to prepare and to make sure that they are resilient in the face of an extreme event?
“NewsHour” correspondent William Brangham decided to find out.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I’m standing on the coast of Washington. This is the very edge of the continental United States. And just a few miles out in the Pacific Ocean is considered one of the most dangerous seismic faults in all of North America.
Scientists believe if that fault were to rupture, it could devastate much of the Pacific Northwest. The fault is known as the Cascadia subduction zone, where two tectonic plates meet underneath the Pacific Ocean. This fault line stretches 700 miles along the coast.
KEN MURPHY, Regional Administrator, FEMA: Earthquakes have no season. It’s earthquake season every day.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Ken Murphy is FEMA’s regional administrator. He oversees emergency operations for the Northwest region. He says if this whole fault were to rupture, not only would there be a catastrophic earthquake, but that quake would then trigger an enormous tsunami, which would crash into the Pacific Northwest minutes later.
KEN MURPHY: You roughly have about 140,000 square miles of communities and land and people up and down Washington, Oregon, and Northern California.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Major cities like Seattle, Vancouver and Portland could be seriously damaged. FEMA estimates that in an 8- or 9-magnitude quake, nearly 13,000 people could be killed, with another 20,000 injured. A million people would be made homeless.
And to some, these are conservative estimates.
KEN MURPHY: It’s not just FEMA, but how we as a nation are going to respond to this, because it’s really going to take everybody’s efforts.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This threat has people across the Northwest worried, no more so than in coastal Washington, towns like Westport, Ocean Shores, Ocosta. Chuck Wallace is an emergency manager for this county.
CHUCK WALLACE, Grays Harbor Emergency Management: If you’re in an inundation zone or close to the coast, if you feel an earthquake, you have to suspect that a tsunami could be following. And if there is one, if they are coming, we would have anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes along the coast to move to higher ground.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And so the town of Ocosta, with just a few thousand residents, is now building this, a large tsunami evacuation shelter here on top of its public school. It’s the first of its kind in North America.
PAULA AKERLUND, Superintendent, Ocosta School District: Well, right now we’re in the stair tower. This is after the earthquake. We’re evacuating to the rooftop for the tsunami evacuation.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So there’s four stairwells like this one?
PAULA AKERLUND: Yes.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Paula Akerlund is the school superintendent for the district, and she was instrumental in getting this shelter built. Akerlund said they started discussing this shelter four years ago. In an ominous coincidence, hours later, the massive tsunami hit Japan.
The whole world watched as waves destroyed buildings and roads and entire towns in just a matter of minutes.
PAULA AKERLUND: We learned a lot about what to do in this building from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. So, one of the things that we knew from Japan is that some buildings were overtopped.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Water coming up over the roof.
PAULA AKERLUND: Yes. And so we tried to make the walls here high enough so that that would no happen. And then, also, I think it will serve another purpose, because there will be children up here with us and they won’t really see what’s happening, I think, for awhile. I think that might be a good thing.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Oh, so the walls will protect them from watching their community.
PAULA AKERLUND: Kind of protect them from watching.
Our whole focus is on the safety and welfare of the kids, and so we try to think about things like that.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And the kids in Ocosta have been absorbing some of this concern too. Listen to what we happened to hear in this sixth grade class.
WOMAN: Andrew, what are you reading?
STUDENT: I’m reading “Escaping the Giant Wave.”
WOMAN: Oh, “Escaping the Giant Wave.”
Several of us sitting here have been having tsunami dreams. And we’re just taking it to mean that it’s because it’s in the news, not that it’s any kind of premonition. Yes, not going to happen, just something because we talk about it and stuff. But tell me about the title. How does the title fit in with what you’re reading so far?
STUDENT: The news truck blared out there was a tsunami coming at 5:30, and it was 5:20.
WOMAN: And was there actually a tsunami coming?
WOMAN: Yes. Goodness’ sakes.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The highly reinforced structure they have built isn’t just to protect the 620 students at the school. The roof can hold nearly 2,000 people, and officials say no one would be turned away in a disaster, and the shelter will be accessible 24/7 from this point forward.
The total cost? Just over $2 million. And get this: No state or federal money was used offered to build it. Locals had to vote on a bond specifically to raise their own taxes to build this, and this isn’t a wealthy community.
PAULA AKERLUND: I had no idea whether it would pass or not.
I told one of our teachers, if the bond passes, I will be doing a happy dance, and he told me it’s going to pass by 70 percent. And it did, it did. And I was doing a little happy little dance, yes.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But how likely is it that this shelter will ever be needed? Skeptics can point out that there’s no recorded history of a major quake and tsunami here, so what’s the likelihood?
Well, the answer to that can be found in one of the great seismological detective stories, and it happened here on the Copalis River, about 40 miles north of Ocosta. I went up the river with local guide Dave Agner.
Do you know how tall these cedars would’ve been back in their day?
This is what’s known as the Ghost Forest. These dead cedar trees hold a crucial clue to the very real danger facing the Pacific Northwest.
DAVE AGNER, River Guide: William, straight ahead at 12:00. You see that tree that is partially in the river and partially on the land?
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For years, it was thought these trees had died over time, decades apart. But in the late 1980s, two scientists found evidence that these trees all died simultaneously, when the ground beneath them plunged downwards several feet, which is often what occurs in subduction zone earthquakes.
They found strong evidence of a major quake 300 years ago, but had it also triggered a tsunami? A few years later, a Japanese scientist proved that it had. He was looking through centuries-old records trying to understand a mysterious tsunami that hit Japan in 1700. When he saw the data from Washington’s Ghost Forest, he realized they were the exact same event.
That quake off Washington’s coast sent a tsunami that not only flooded the Pacific Northwest, but also traveled 5,000 miles across the ocean and hit Japan.
DAVE AGNER: There was evidence of a massive one in 1700, and the Japanese kept fantastic records. The shoguns required very, very good record-keeping, or you could lose your life if you promised a certain crop and it didn’t come in.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Just a few miles from the Ghost Forest, another community is trying to grapple with this looming threat in an even more dramatic fashion. The Quinault Indian Nation has lived along this coast for centuries.
Fawn Sharp is their president.
FAWN SHARP, President, Quinault Indian Nation: If you look behind me, you will see where our treaty was negotiated in 1855 at the mouth of the Quinault River, where the Quinault River meets the ocean. And it’s 150 years ago. Nobody at that time ever anticipated that this entire central part of our community would ever be underwater.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This aerial rendering of their village shows how, in the event of a quake and tsunami, the entire area would be inundated with water. So, they’re going to move the whole village up the hill to this spot. But moving an entire village is not easy.
FAWN SHARP: These are major facilities. This is a brand-new courthouse, fairly new.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And that’s going to have to be moved?
FAWN SHARP: And that’s going to have to be moved. Our community center, our central gathering place will have to obviously be moved.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s a lot of structures.
FAWN SHARP: Yes. Our membership sees the exciting opportunity of creating a new village and what that might look like, but so many of our memories are here in this village, and the thought of it being underwater, you know, there’s a lot of trauma to that prospect that a very sacred site could no longer exist.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The Quinault hope to have the entire village moved to higher ground within the next five years.
Back in Ocosta, the tsunami shelter is just getting its finishing touches. Officials say, if a quake hit tomorrow, the shelter’s ready to hold anyone who can get here.
Emergency manager Chuck Wallace says this building, and how it got built, is a model of what a community can do.
CHUCK WALLACE: You know, you sit back and they always say, well, government did this, government did that. No, the people did this.
PAULA AKERLUND: This very small community, very self-reliant community takes care of each other. People here were willing to increase their tax dollars to build this facility for their kids and their grandchildren. So, I think that that’s a remarkable thing.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: They hope to have a ribbon-cutting for the shelter in June.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m William Brangham along the Washington coast.
The post How the Pacific Northwest is preparing for a catastrophic tsunami appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The United Nations Refugee Agency says it will not cooperate with a European plan to deport migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey.
UNHCR said it would no longer help to transfer migrants and refugees to detention centers, from which some could be deported. The agency’s action could disrupt the deal with Turkey signed last Friday, which is aimed at halting the migrant flow. And the walls being rebuilt in Europe will likely only grow taller after today’s attacks in Brussels.
From the island of Lesbos, in Greece, special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.
MALCOLM BRABANT: This was one of the last boats to land on the beaches of southern Lesbos. It was a desperate attempt to beat the deadline set by Europe, which effectively shut down the refugee trail.
The screams marked the moment of realization that two people had been suffocated in the chaos and darkness of the crossing. As medical teams fought in vain to revive the crush victims, a Syrian called Bashir spoke to the migrants’ aspirations.
MAN: We hope they don’t take this into effect. We hope that we can make it to Europe. I don’t know if we get there. If we are lucky, we can move on. If we are not, I don’t know what will happen to us.
MALCOLM BRABANT: For two consecutive nights, the vigil of these volunteers on the beaches of southern Lesbos has been futile. They have spent long cold nights anticipating new arrivals, using the cover of darkness to avoid Turkish patrols.
But no one has reached the shore. Spanish lifeguards, who’ve rescued thousands of people over the winter months have, for the moment, been made redundant by the ships of Frontex, Europe’s border agency, patrolling the waters dividing Turkey from Greece.
Yet volunteer Rebecca Michaelides believes the exodus from Turkey is just temporarily on hold.
REBECCA MICHAELIDES, British-Cypriot Volunteer: The people will keep on coming because they’re very desperate in leaving Turkey and just trying for a better future. Being turned back for us and for myself is not really a solution to the problem.
It’s a lot deeper, and going back to as deep as the war in Syria that needs to be stopped, but also to the hardship of these people and what they’re going through, that we need, as Europe, to be — to help them.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The efforts to reinforce fortress Europe alarm Ahmad Ali, a dentist from a besieged Syrian city close to the Iraqi border. He asked us not to show his face, for fear of endangering relatives still in Syria.
AHMAD ALI, Refugee: We don’t need to go back. Everybody here is worried about the situation, so we just — we need to cross the border to search for our lives. We can’t stay here for a long time.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Prime candidates to be among the first deported are Pakistanis, who are regarded by many countries as economic migrants. They have been turning up at a detention center in Lesbos to be registered. But in a possible blow to the E.U.-Turkey deal, the United Nations Refugee Agency said it wouldn’t work in these camps because the migrants and refugees were being held against their will.
A large group of Pakistanis were put in handcuffs as they were sent to mainland Greece for what could be the first leg of a journey back to their homeland. The prospect of being returned to Pakistan terrifies Imran Sharif, a Christian policeman who claims he faces possible death for alleged blasphemy against Islam.
IMRAN SHARIF, Refugee: If the Greece government puts me back in Pakistan, where there are many people waiting for me to kill me or put me in the jail — I don’t like that somebody kills me in front of my child, so if they are trying to pull me back, I will suicide here.
MALCOLM BRABANT: At the camp that’s been sheltering the Pakistanis next to the detention center, volunteer Ayesha Keller had this advice for would-be travelers waiting on the Turkish coast.
AYESHA KELLER, Volunteer: At the moment, I don’t think it’s worth risking your life to cross over to Lesbos or one of the other Greek islands, because it’s so unclear what the situation is. It just doesn’t make sense on a humanitarian level. And I thought the E.U. was about protecting human rights, and now they have agreed to something like this.
I understand what they’re trying to do. I understand that they want to cut down smuggling and they want to cut down people crossing in a dangerous way. But this doesn’t just seem to be a sensible solution. And it’s just going to increase smuggling, as all the borders close. Rather than having a legal way to cross, people are going to go across illegally.
MALCOLM BRABANT: One of the main reasons why Turkey has accepted this deal permitting the return of migrants is that it was promised that its application to join the European Union will be fast-tracked. But the terrorist attacks in Brussels today have damaged Turkey’s cause.
Skeptical governments are reluctant to accept Turkey because it would extend the European borders to Syria and Iraq, and would possibly increase the likelihood of terrorism within the E.U. And so this controversial arrangement could be undermined.
These are hugely uncertain times for the migrants trapped in Greece and facing deportation.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Malcolm Brabant in Lesbos.
The post Uncertain times for refugees on the migrant trail in Greece appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
BY APRIL BROWN AND MIKE FRITZ
PITTSBURGH — At 13, Lafayette Goode had to face a situation that, for most children, is unimaginable. He had no place to call home.
“I got kicked out of my house,” Goode said. “That was the hardest thing I ever had to deal with because I couldn’t believe my mom was really trying to kick me out at this age. I’m so young, where am I going to go?”
Goode was among the roughly 400,000 young people in foster care in the U.S. at any given time, according to David Sanders of the Casey Family Foundation, an organization working to improve foster care across the nation.
“I think, often times, we forget that, to get into foster care, they were abused or neglected probably to a level that is quite significant,” Sanders said.
Those personal traumas, coupled with the fact that many often move from home-to-home and school-to-school, has led to grim educational outcomes for foster youth nationally. Only about half finish high school and of that group, only 20 percent go on to college. Fewer than one in 10 of those students actually earns a bachelor’s degree.
Goode, now 19, is proud to have graduated high school on time and plans to enroll at a trade school this spring. He credits the help of Allegheny County’s Youth Support Partners, including Justin Quast for helping him reach those milestones navigate the difficult and often confusing world of foster care.
Youth Support Partners like Quast are young adults who were, themselves, involved in the child welfare system, but have since been trained to become peer-to-peer mentors and advocates for young people currently in foster care.
“He’s close to my age [and] we understand each other,” said Goode. “As soon as we met we just clicked.”
“We feel strongly [that], if you’ve been there, if you’ve walked in their shoes, you are much more effective and can relate,” said Marc Cherna, Allegheny County’s Director of Human Services.
Creating Youth Support Partners for foster youth is just one of the many changes Cherna has made in his 20 years with the county in an effort to improve lives and outcomes for children in the system. He also created Educational Liaisons, which makes sure that foster youth are not only staying in school, but succeeding by getting them tutoring or other supports when needed. They also help with credit recovery, scholarships, university applications and take high school seniors to visit college campuses.
In addition to creating those positions, Cherna’s reforms have included reducing caseloads, increasing family support to keep youth in their own homes and schools when appropriate, and collecting data to determine which programs are effective and where investments should be made. Allegheny County’s efforts to improve the lives of foster youth are considered a national model and Cherna often visits cities around the country to share what has worked in his community.
But he remains realistic, acknowledging there is much more work to be done.
“I’ve been doing this work for over 40 years and if there was a magic bullet we wouldn’t be talking about it today,” Cherna said. “This is very complex work. There is no easy solution.”
Read the full transcript of this segment below:
PBS NewsHour education coverage is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
GWEN IFILL: But, first, they are among the most difficult populations to educate. When compared to their peers, children living in foster care are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school, and end up incarcerated or homeless later in life.
But in Pittsburgh, the city’s child welfare system has tried an innovative approach that could become a model for others.
The “NewsHour”‘s April Brown has the first of two stories, part of our American Graduate series, a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the latest installment in our weekly series Making the Grade.
APRIL BROWN: At only 19 years old, Lafayette Goode has already faced a lifetime of challenges growing up in a rough section of Pittsburgh.
LAFAYETTE GOODE, Former Foster Youth: I got kicked out of my house at 13. That was the hardest thing I ever had to deal with, because I couldn’t believe my mom was really trying to kick me out at this age. Like, I’m so young. Like, where am I going to go?
APRIL BROWN: Where Lafayette went was into Allegheny County’s child welfare system before he turned 14. As a foster youth, he was hardly alone.
DAVID SANDERS, Vice President, Casey Family Programs: There are about 400,000 children in foster care nationally.
APRIL BROWN: David Sanders is a vice president at Casey Family Programs, an organization that works to improve foster care across the nation.
DAVID SANDERS: If you walk in as a social worker to a child’s home, it might be the very last time that that child ever sees their bedroom.
And I think, oftentimes, we forget that to get into foster care, they were abused or neglected probably to a level that is quite significant to actually be moved from their families.
APRIL BROWN: The educational statistics for youth in foster care have been consistently grim. Multistate studies have found that just 50 percent finish high school. Of that group, only 20 percent go on to college, and fewer than one in 10 of those students actually earn a bachelor’s degree.
For all his early challenges, Lafayette Goode is now on a positive path. He graduated high school on time, and is planning to start a trade school program soon. How he beat the odds is a testament to a network of support systems put in place by Marc Cherna, who was hired 20 years ago to take over the county’s child welfare system.
MARC CHERNA, Director, Allegheny County Dept. of Human Services: It was a system that was out of control. It had quite a few child deaths. It had caseloads that were expanding every month. Very few, if any, systems were in place at all. And we were vilified by the community.
APRIL BROWN: Cherna began his reform effort by asking the community questions.
MARC CHERNA: The worst thing you can do is come into a place and say, I have got all the answers.
APRIL BROWN: The tradition of community consultation continues today, both in large groups and in smaller ones. We joined Cherna recently at Ritter’s, a local diner that’s like his second office, because he has so many breakfast meetings here.
Since coming to Pittsburgh, Cherna has helped dramatically reduce caseloads, and pushed for more supports that allow children in the system to stay with family members.
MARC CHERNA: Kids do better in their own homes whenever possible. And the highest correlation for really low grades and attendance and everything else is, the more they move, the worse things are. Just something as simple as that, identifying that and then doing intervention, it really can make a difference for kids.
APRIL BROWN: Cherna’s office also started collecting data, loads of it, including data from the Pittsburgh Public Schools. It revealed that fewer than one-third of kids in foster care have a 2.5 GPA or higher. And only about 42 percent of them were proficient in reading.
Another hallmark of Cherna’s tenure has been hiring adults who went through the system themselves to mentor and advocate for current foster youth. They’re known as youth support partners.
And Justin Quast is the man Lafayette relies on. He sometimes gives rides and is trained to provide anything from emotional support to helping youth get social services and building job skills..
JUSTIN QUAST, Youth Support Partner: He’s like so close to my age that we understand each other. As soon as we met, we just clicked.
BROWN: Youth support partner Lanika Dorsey once needed a mentor herself.
LANIKA DORSEY, Youth Support Partner: I think I first entered the system when I was around 3 or 4.
APRIL BROWN: Lanika says abuse, neglect and constantly being forced to move eventually made her feel broken. She says, for years, she couldn’t trust anyone. But that changed when she was paired with youth support partner Jovanna Robinson .
LANIKA DORSEY: She kept her word. She made me trust people and believe people when they said things to me. That’s something I never had growing up throughout the system.
APRIL BROWN: It was Jovanna who suggested Lanika could use her experiences and become a youth support partner herself.
LANIKA DORSEY: Me being able to help kids helps me in a way, you know, because I see myself in them a lot. But I’m a work in progress. Every day, I still work on me. I’m still lost, just not as lost.
APRIL BROWN: In addition to youth support partners, Allegheny County has also hired educational liaisons like William Battles. Battles makes sure foster youth like 19-year-old Jazmin Holmes are in class, have the credits to graduate high school, and he makes them aware of benefits like scholarships that, as foster youth, they’re eligible for.
Battles recently helped Jazmin through the enrollment process at the Community College of Allegheny County.
WILLIAM BATTLES, Educational Liaison: It’s very rewarding, because when you are able to help them navigate the whole admissions process and financial aid, it kind of eases their mind of schools and everything else that’s going on in their life too, on top of a fresh start at a community college or university.
APRIL BROWN: While many foster youth like Jazmin focus on the future, it has been important to the county’s reform process to have some of them reflect on the past.
Twenty-year-old Naadiya Cellars was placed in foster care five years ago after her mother died. She’s now encouraging Pittsburgh residents to consider becoming foster parents. Naadiya says it’s often difficult to get people to simply remember that they are kids.
NAADIYA CELLARS, Former Foster Youth: The hardest part about being in foster care is that you are not allowed to do everything else that everybody else is allowed to do. Like, all the rules, like, you are not allowed to spend the night at your friend’s house unless they have clearances. Those are always the hardest parts.
DAVID SANDERS: They want to be seen as young people who are facing life’s challenges, have the same dreams that any other young person has, but so often the fact that they have been in foster care, they feel like they are then stigmatized as being failures or unlikely to succeed.
And I think one of the most important things is to really dispel that notion.
APRIL BROWN: Casey Family Programs’ David Sanders credits Marc Cherna for creating innovative programs that have helped reduce the number of youth in foster care by 60 percent over the last two decades.
But replicating that kind of success elsewhere is no easy task, Sanders says.
One major reason for that?
DAVID SANDERS: The turnover among child welfare leaders makes it very difficult to sustain progress. So, even if somebody puts something in place, what often happens is that it’s dismantled as soon as somebody new comes in, and that rotation of leaders happens every year-and-a-half or two years.
APRIL BROWN: As new data comes in, it’s being used to find out how well their reforms are working. And Marc Cherna knows his work is far from finished.
MARC CHERNA: I have been doing this work for over 40 years and if there was a magic bullet, we wouldn’t be talking about it today. This is very complex work. There is no easy solution. There have been billions and billions of dollars spent on this.
There’s a lot of people way smarter than me who thought about this, and I still struggle with it.
APRIL BROWN: For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m April Brown in Pittsburgh.
GWEN IFILL: Online, you can read more on how data is being used to support Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable children.
PBS NewsHour education coverage is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The post Can an innovative Pittsburgh program help repair the broken lives of foster kids? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We earlier heard from President Obama in Cuba when he spoke of the Brussels attacks. He had additional business to do in Havana today, including a major address to the Cuban people.
John Yang reports.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I believe in the Cuban people.
JOHN YANG: In the final speech of his historic visit, President Obama laid out a future of possibilities, but no guarantees.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas. I want the Cuban people, especially the young people, to understand why I believe that you should look to the future with hope, not the false promise which insists that things are better than they really are, or the blind optimism that says all your problems can go away tomorrow.
JOHN YANG: With state TV beaming the speech into Cuban households, Mr. Obama talked of freedom.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: But let me tell you what I believe. I can’t force you to agree, but you should know what I think.
I believe citizens should be free to speak their mind without fear, to organize and to criticize their government and to protest peacefully, and that the rule of law shouldn’t include arbitrary detentions of people who exercise those rights.
JOHN YANG: Yesterday, the communist island’s state-run media ignored Cuban President Raul Castro’s tense exchange with American reporters on political prisoners. But, today, with all of Cuba watching, Mr. Obama directly addressed Castro, who looked on from a balcony.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And given your commitment to Cuba’s sovereignty and self-determination, I am also confident that you need not fear the different voices of the Cuban people and their capacity to speak and assemble and vote for their leaders.
JOHN YANG: Mr. Obama went on to urge the Castro government to improve commercial ties. At the same time, he repeated his own commitment to lift the U.S. trade embargo.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It is an outdated burden on the Cuban people. It’s a burden on the Americans who want to work and do business or invest here in Cuba. It’s time to lift the embargo.
JOHN YANG: This isn’t the first time the president’s made that pledge, and he took nearly 40 members of Congress along to reinforce the message.
But here in Washington, the odds of getting lawmakers to approve a total repeal of the embargo remain slim. There are still major roadblocks, due mainly to Cuba’s human rights record.
House Speaker Paul Ryan reinforced that point today at a briefing.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), Speaker of the House: And the president takes a trip to Cuba, where he effectively gets nothing in return, and he legitimizes a tyrannical dictatorship. The irony wasn’t lost on me.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: All the individuals around this table have shown extraordinary courage.
JOHN YANG: After his speech in Havana, Mr. Obama met with Cuban dissidents at the U.S. Embassy. He praised their courage and said America’s own history is proof of how change can come.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m John Yang.
The post With all Cuba watching, Obama offers hopeful possibilities in speech appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Major League Baseball may be making new inroads into Cuba this week, but an expert who’s long watched the Cuban game tells Jeffrey Brown that any changes between the U.S. and Cuba are the start of “a long, slow process.”
Peter Bjarkman, the author of the new book, “Cuba’s Baseball Defectors” told the NewsHour that even though Cuban players will no longer have to defect or become a victim of human trafficking to join the major leagues, the Cuban government will still want ownership of those players and will want them to return to the national team. Bjarkman also explained why Cuba’s league is not the powerhouse many think as more than 100 players have defected from an aging system.
The post Is today’s historic baseball game in Cuba mostly a symbolic moment? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now back to the attacks in Brussels and the latest on the investigation into who was behind them.
We turn to Peter Spiegel. He’s the Brussels bureau chief for The Financial Times.
Welcome to you, Peter Spiegel.
So, what is the very latest that’s known about figuring out who was behind this?
PETER SPIEGEL, Financial Times: Well, this evening, the Brussels authorities put out a photo of sort of three men carrying luggage carts at the airport just before the explosion.
They have identified them as, they think, the three perpetrators. Two of them, they believe, are the actual bombers, and then the third is on the loose now. There have been raids all day in the Schaerbeek neighborhood, which is just north of here. They have more evidence there that ISIS is — that cell was quite entrenched.
They found more bomb materials. They found chemicals. They found ISIS flags and other paraphernalia. They are trying to basically find out how broad and how deep this network was. It’s suspected that it is linked to arrests that you mentioned in your opening piece, Salah Abdeslam, who was the — one of the bombers who sort of fled Paris and didn’t kill himself, one of the only surviving — believed to be one of the surviving plotters from the Paris attack.
The arrest happened on Friday. There’s some speculation, some belief in the officials we talked to that perhaps these plotters terrorists moved up their attack because they were afraid Abdeslam was talking to police and had maybe ratted them out. And so there was some belief that they moved up the attack.
They’re trying to find out right now how much that cell is implanted here in Brussels. But other than that, that claim of credit that ISIS has put out over their Internet sites, we really don’t have a huge amount of information right now about who these guys are, where they were based.
The police have actually pled for information for the one person they think is on the run. So, yet again, sort of catching authorities by surprise and they don’t have a huge amount of ideas right now about who these guys are.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Brussels was on high alert, we know, after the arrest of the Paris suspect, Mr. Abdeslam, last week and it had been on alert since the Paris attack.
A number of experts today are saying, why wasn’t Brussels better prepared?
PETER SPIEGEL: Yes. And the Belgian authorities have come under a lot of pressure, a lot of attack even back from the Paris attacks.
You remember the Paris attacks were largely organized here in Brussels in the Molenbeek neighborhood, which is really just a mile away from where I’m talking to you here. So this has been — the Belgians get very defensive about this. Why all the Belgian bashing?
But the fact of the matter is that a number of the jihadis, particularly those who travel into Syria as foreign fighters, had come from Brussels and other parts of Belgium. Belgium has the largest percentage of nationals who have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS.
And there is a perception, at least, that they had used Brussels as sort of an organizing place. The Belgian authorities dispute this. They don’t think they’re any worse they Paris or any of the other major cities that have large and sometimes radicalized Muslim populations, but what is true, in talking to Belgian officials, is that up until about 18 months ago, Belgium didn’t invest in the intelligence assets, in the military assets that are needed to counter these kind of radical groups.
After Charlie Hebdo in particular and some of the associated raids after that, the new Belgian government did start ramping up the amount of money they’re putting into their intelligence services, into the security services. But the question is whether it’s been too little too late.
They have to ramp up so quickly to try to get the handle on this thing, that this could have been a lapse and inability because they are so behind the heart of the curve right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Peter Spiegel, what is the security situation there now? Are they expecting more attacks?
PETER SPIEGEL: Well, we’re back on level four, which is the terror alert for imminent attack.
But literally just a few hours ago, they told us all we could leave our buildings. Parents were able to pick their kids up from school who were basically held at the school for most of the afternoon. So we’re not in sort of a lockdown situation, if you remember, after November, after the Paris attacks, where the Belgian authorities said we had to sort of like hide in place for about a week.
We’re not in that situation now. There is a general feeling that this current attack is now over, that they have this cell on the run or they have going into hiding.
But, yes, there is nervousness that because they do have these suspects in detention, that these suspects and particularly Abdeslam have knowledge about the cells that are operating in Europe, that some of these other cells will come out and act now, for fear of being turned up and arrested in the days to come.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Peter Spiegel, who is the Brussels bureau chief for The Financial Times, we thank you.
GWEN IFILL: For more on the threat of terrorism in Europe and beyond, I’m joined by Rick Nelson of Cross Match Technologies. He’s a former Naval officer who served at the National Security Council and the National Counterterrorism Center. And Lorenzo Vidino, director of the program on Extremism at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University. He is an expert on radicalization and terrorism in Europe and he has advised U.S. and European lawmakers.
Lorenzo Vidino, based on everything that we have just heard and everything that we just from the reporter in Brussels, Peter Spiegel, are we now engaged in truly a global war now?
LORENZO VIDINO, George Washington University: I think it’s undeniable that ISIS has inspired individuals worldwide to carry out attacks.
And I think what we’re seeing now is that ISIS is directing. That is kind of the novelty of the Paris attacks and part of the Brussels attacks today, is directly engaged in attacking North Africa, Middle East and the West. So we have more organized clusters and networks that have received training in Syria and Iraq and have received the order to mobilize and carry out the attacks.
So they are more sophisticated than the individuals who are just inspired by ISIS ideology, like, for example, the San Bernardino shooters here in the United States. There is a different degree of sophistication when you receive some sort of training and experience in the battlefield and radicalization that ISIS provides to individuals throughout Europe.
GWEN IFILL: Rick Nelson, are you persuaded that this is connected to the Paris attacks?
RICK NELSON, Cross Match Technologies: I am indeed persuaded.
ISIS has been building networks in Europe for close to three years now, and there’s no doubt in my mind that there are significant networks throughout Europe, leveraging Belgium and Brussels in particular, and we saw that in France, but we saw that today in Belgium.
And, unfortunately I think there are going to be more attacks on the horizon that will be connected to these cells.
GWEN IFILL: Well, staying with you, Rick Nelson, maybe you could answer for people who just follow this casually, why Belgium?
RICK NELSON: Well, Belgium has a number of issues that it faces.
It really is a microcosm for the larger issues that are facing Europe. First and foremost, Europe in general, Belgium specifically, has not done a very good job of integrating many of these Muslim communities into their larger society. A lot of these communities are in enclaves in urban environments.
There is not a lot of hope for jobs. There’s not a lot of hope to get out of these environments, and that really puts in place a sense of disenfranchisement, of marginalization, and ISIS and other terrorist groups are very, very effective at capitalizing on that marginalization and getting these individuals to join their cause or to take an act of violence that gives them a larger sense of meaning and perhaps a pathway out of the situation they find themselves in.
GWEN IFILL: Lorenzo Vidino, do Belgian authorities have any kind of hold on this? How do you monitor suspicions? Are there resources enough to follow up on every single threat that you hear about or is reported to you?
LORENZO VIDINO: No, I think that’s a general problem throughout Europe, but it’s particularly acute in Belgium, where — because of a variety of issues that have to do with lack of investment in intelligence and law enforcement.
The federal nature of the Belgian state, with a lot of divisions with different forces there and don’t talk to one another, they are severely understaffed. Add to that the fact that Belgium provides an incredibly large, disproportionate number of foreign fighters, so they’re stretched extremely thin.
As I say, it’s a problem throughout Europe, but particularly acute in Belgium and investments that have been made in law enforcement now are sort of a bit too little, too late.
GWEN IFILL: Rick Nelson, how should other countries be responding if this is indeed now a global threat?
RICK NELSON: One of the things this is going to force in the European Union and beyond is the fact that these nations are going to have to share information more readily than they have in the past.
There has been some hesitation by countries to share intelligence information throughout the E.U. I think France started the dialogue moving forward. And Belgium, the incidents today just further reiterate this, is that the European nations are going to have to share intelligence and information if they’re going to be successful against these threats.
These threats, these attacks are very basic. They’re very rudimentary, even though the command-and-control may be sophisticated. They’re going to be very difficult to identify in advance unless there is very credible intelligence and the countries are going to have to work together to build that credible intelligence to thwart these attacks.
GWEN IFILL: Lorenzo Vidino, it seems incredible after all this time that there wouldn’t be improved intelligence-sharing at this stage.
LORENZO VIDINO: It has gotten better over the last few years.
There’s more coordination. The reality is that there is a lot of talk of creating sort of a European FBI, a law enforcement intelligence agency that supervises the work. There is Europol, but Europol doesn’t really have the same basic capabilities that a real transnational, pan-European law enforcement agency would have.
It facilitates the passage of information, but really doesn’t have arresting powers. Really, 99 percent, I would say, of the counterterrorism capability rests with individual countries. And you have those petty jealousies, those political issues, those divides that create a lot of problems.
Terrorists don’t know borders. They go from one European country to the other. Law enforcement, intelligence are very much stuck within their own borders.
GWEN IFILL: Rick Nelson, whenever we have talked about battling ISIS, at least in this country, it’s always seemed territorial, putting boots on the ground, somehow saving Raqqa, making it a very Syrian-based war. Is this something that now is going to have — are we going to have to expand our thinking about how to battle ISIS?
RICK NELSON: Well, absolutely.
You know, what we have seen with all — most terrorist groups, at least in the last 15 years, that, you know, the idea of having a safe haven or a piece of terrorist territory from which to operate is critical to these organizations.
And what has made — one of the things that has made ISIS so successful is that they do have a piece of territory in Syria and Iraq, where they are building, have the ability to plan, the ability to communicate, the ability to train. They have got a safe haven in that area of the world where they can train these fighters, send them back, they can communicate relatively freely.
And as long as they have the area to operate freely and to plan and conduct these types of attacks, you are going to see these cells continue to grow and continue to be a problem for not only Europe, but the United States.
GWEN IFILL: And as long as there is a civil war that shows no signs of abating in Syria, is there any way to really get to the root of this?
LORENZO VIDINO: I think that’s very difficult. Rick is spot on in saying that as long as there is a base there in Syria and Iraq, and particularly in Syria, there’s no end in sight, I think the problem will be there.
If anything, actually, it’s getting more acute, because we’re seeing that ISIS is developing also secondary bases. I think Libya is particularly interesting. We are starting to see that there’s a minor flow of foreign fighters no longer going to Syria and Iraq, but going to Libya, which is obviously even closer to Europe. And I think that’s also very problematic.
GWEN IFILL: Is it fair to say that Belgium, France, the United States should be bracing for more attacks?
LORENZO VIDINO: I think particularly in Europe, I think that’s a very likely scenario.
I think the United States faces a minor threat compared to — a smaller threat compared to Europe. We do not see the same level of sophistication. We see individuals that are linked to ISIS from an ideological point of view, very few with operational ties that do exist here, but the size, the magnitude of the threat in Europe is much, much bigger.
GWEN IFILL: Lorenzo Vidino of George Washington University and Rick Nelson of Cross Match Technologies, thank you both very much.
LORENZO VIDINO: Pleasure.
RICK NELSON: Thank you.
The post How the Brussels attacks affect the global fight against terror appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff.
GWEN IFILL: And I’m Gwen Ifill.
JUDY WOODRUFF: On the “NewsHour” tonight: terror in Brussels: ISIS claims responsibility for blasts at an airport and subway, killing at least 30 — how Europe grapples with another deadly attack.
GWEN IFILL: Also ahead this Tuesday: President Obama wraps up his historic trip to Cuba with a promise to bury the remnants of the Cold War.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And preparing for disaster when living near the most dangerous fault line in America.
FAWN SHARP, President, Quinault Indian Nation: So many of our memories are here in this village, and the thought of it being underwater, you know, there’s a lot of trauma to that prospect that a very sacred site could no longer exist.
GWEN IFILL: All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”
JUDY WOODRUFF: The bombings dominated much of the day for the U.S. presidential candidates. Republican front-runner Donald Trump suggested using torture to disrupt future attacks.
He told NBC — quote — “If they can expand the laws, I would do a lot more than water-boarding. You have to get the information from these people” — end quote.
Trump’s rival Ted Cruz went further, calling for police surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: It’s standard good policing to direct your resources to where the threat is coming from. We should do the exact same thing are radical Islamic terrorism. We need to work proactively with the Muslim community cooperatively, just like when law enforcement is going after gang activity, you work with the community where gangs are located.
JUDY WOODRUFF: On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton called for policies that are — quote — “consistent with our values.” And she told NBC: “It’s unrealistic to say we’re going to completely shut down our borders to everyone.”
Fellow Democrat Bernie Sanders appealed for international solidarity, as did Republican John Kasich. Both parties hold nominating primaries today in Arizona and Utah. Democrats also hold caucuses in Idaho.
GWEN IFILL: A planned courtroom battle between Apple and the FBI never happened today. Instead, federal prosecutors said they may not need Apple to unlock the iPhone used by the mass shooters in San Bernardino. They say an outside party came forward over the weekend and showed the FBI how to access data on the encrypted phone after all.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The new NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan apologized today for the American bombing of a hospital last year.
General John Nicholson traveled to Kunduz and met with victims’ relatives and staff at the now-closed hospital. The October strike killed 42 people and wounded dozens more. A U.S. investigation found that it was — quote — “tragic and avoidable,” and more than a dozen military personnel were punished.
GWEN IFILL: In Indonesia, thousands of taxi drivers protested in Jakarta, demanding a ban on Uber and other ride-hailing apps. The demonstration wreaked traffic chaos in the city’s already-congested streets. Cabbies carried banners denouncing the competition as illegal, and even assaulted some motorbike drivers working for the apps.
MAN (through interpreter): Close Uber and GrabCar, please, because we’re suffering losses now. The government said the apps will encourage young people to use public transport. But since GrabCar and Uber came into the market, we have been having a hard time earning a living.
GWEN IFILL: Today marked the second such protest by taxi drivers in Jakarta this month.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The former mayor of Toronto, Canada, Rob Ford, died today, after a career marred by drinking and drug problems. Ford was elected in 2010, but a series of scandals erupted, and he ultimately admitted using crack cocaine. He dropped a reelection bid after being diagnosed with a rare cancer, but later won a city council seat. Rob Ford was 46 years old.
GWEN IFILL: In economic news, Wall Street struggled to gain traction after the Brussels attacks hurt airline and travel company stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 41 points to close at 17582. The Nasdaq rose 12 points, and the S&P 500 slipped about two.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And about 30 of the real-life Rosie the Riveters were honored in Washington today for building planes and doing other vital jobs during World War II. The women, many in their 80s and 90s, took a special flight from Detroit. They wore red and white polka dot head scarves, mimicking the image in the famous “We Can Do It” poster.
Later, they visited the U.S. Capitol and the World War II Memorial. It was all part of Women’s History Month.
GWEN IFILL: Still to come on the “NewsHour”: what the Brussels attacks mean in the global fight against terror; President Obama pressures Cuba on human rights; the difficulties of educating children in foster care; and much more.
The post News Wrap: Trump suggests torture as anti-terror tactic appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
GWEN IFILL: Once again, a major European capital has been shut down by terror. Today’s bombings in Brussels left at least 31 people dead. More than 180 were wounded, including an undetermined number of Americans.
The attacks paralyzed the city for most of the day, and triggered an all-out manhunt.
Thick smoke and screams of panic captured by a cell phone moments after double explosions rocked the Belgian capital’s airport. Suitcases stood abandoned as would-be passengers scrambled over collapsed ceilings and shattered windows.
WOMAN: I hear an explosion. And all the ceilings is going down. And then I just go under the sink. And then the second explosion went. And then everything is black. And I see — when I go out, I see all — a lot of people with blood.
MAN (through interpreter): I tried to flee towards the arrivals and we couldn’t get there, and there was glass everywhere, crash, crash, crash everywhere. And we went toward the taxis. It was a total confusion. It was truly hell.
GWEN IFILL: Belgian prosecutors say it was the work of two suicide bombers, attacking just seconds apart, during the morning rush. They say a third suspect escaped. Passengers and employees alike streamed out of the smoldering entrance, while hundreds of others were evacuated to the tarmac.
Then, about an hour later, another blast, this time on a subway train as it left a station near the European Union’s headquarters. Footage posted to social media showed passengers evacuating one car as emergency personnel treated the wounded.
MAN (through interpreter): These are war injuries. I have more than 40 years of experience on the job, so I have seen a lot of things. I think this is the worst thing I have ever seen in my career.
GWEN IFILL: The twin attacks, claimed by the Islamic State group, sent Belgium’s terror alert to the highest level and put the entire city under lockdown for hours. Police found a third bomb at the airport and disposed of it.
Flights and train service were canceled or diverted, and people were ordered to remain in place.
CHARLES MICHEL, Prime Minister, Belgium (through interpreter): Ladies and gentlemen, what we feared has happened. Our country and our citizens have been hit by blind, violent and cowardly attacks. We are confronted with a challenge, a difficult challenge, and we must face it by standing united, showing solidarity and staying together.
GWEN IFILL: The attacks in Brussels came four days after the arrest there of Salah Abdeslam, the top suspect in November’s terror attacks in Paris that left 130 dead.
And they cast new doubts on Belgian intelligence-gathering and security.
The “NewsHour”‘s chief foreign affairs correspondent, Margaret Warner, spoke with the Belgian ambassador to the United States in Washington today
JOHAN VERBEKE, Ambassador, Belgium: Some indications pointed to the fact that something may happen. The security levels were heightened. The presence of security people, including military, quite visible, had been enhanced. And still it happened, so the answer to your question is, it can happen even when you take all security preparedness.
GWEN IFILL: World leaders, including President Obama, pledged solidarity with the Belgians. He learned of the attacks on the second day of his visit to Cuba.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally Belgium in bringing to justice those who are responsible, and this is yet another reminder that the world must unite. We must be together, regardless of nationality or race or faith, in fighting against the scourge of terrorism.
GWEN IFILL: And in Paris, President Francois Hollande urged leaders everywhere to recognize the danger.
PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, France (through interpreter): Terrorism hit Belgium, but Europe was targeted, and the whole world is concerned. We are facing a global threat, which demands a global response.
GWEN IFILL: The immediate response in Britain, France, Germany and elsewhere, was to bolster security at airports, train stations and border crossings.
In the U.S., similar measures were taken in major urban areas, including Washington and New York.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), New York City: Let me say at the outset, there is no specific and credible threat against New York City at this time, but we are in a high state of vigilance and readiness.
GWEN IFILL: The Brussels Airport, meanwhile, will stay closed at least through Wednesday.
Later today, President Obama ordered U.S. flags lowered to half-staff at government buildings. And the Department of Homeland Security said it has no credible intelligence of any threat to the United States. We will return to the Brussels attacks after the news summary.
The post Europe bolsters security after Brussels terror attacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Donald Trump apparently has no regrets about making a threat against rival Ted Cruz.
The GOP front-runner on Tuesday night tweeted that the Texas senator needed to “be careful” or he would “spill the beans on your wife.”
Trump quickly deleted the tweet, but then reposted an edited version a few minutes later.
Lyin' Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad. Be careful, Lyin' Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2016
The change? This time, he called Cruz by the dismissive nickname he uses often: “Lyin’ Ted.”
Trump appears to be upset about an ad in Utah that uses a photo of his wife, Melania, from a photo shoot that ran in GQ magazine more than a decade ago.
The ad wasn’t placed by Cruz’s campaign, but rather an outside group that’s opposed to Trump’s candidacy.
Cruz shot back with a tweet of his own, saying in part, “Donald, if you try to attack Heidi, you’re more of a coward than I thought.”
Trump’s campaign didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment about the billionaire businessman’s tweet.
WASHINGTON — Under a fresh cloud of overseas violence, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton added to their delegate troves on Tuesday with victories in Arizona as the 2016 presidential contest turned into a clash of would-be commanders in chief.
Long lines and high interest marked primary elections across Arizona, Utah and Idaho that were largely an afterthought for much of the day as the world grappled with a new wave of bloody attacks in Europe. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a series of blasts in Brussels that left dozens dead and many more wounded.
Yet there was a frenzy of activity in Utah as voters lined up to caucus and the state Democratic Party’s website crashed due to high traffic. In Arizona, voters waited two hours to cast primary ballots in some cases, while police were called to help with traffic control and at least one polling place ran out of ballots.
Trump and Clinton both enjoyed overwhelming delegate leads heading into Tuesday’s contests.
Trump’s Arizona victory gives him the all of the state’s 58 delegates, a setback for his underdog challengers. On the Democratic side, Arizona’s delegates are awarded proportionally.
Arizona and Utah featured elections for both parties on Tuesday, while Idaho Democrats also held presidential caucuses.
Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republicans Ted Cruz and John Kasich hoped to reverse the sense of inevitability taking hold around both party front-runners. Anti-Trump Republicans are running out of time to prevent him from securing the 1,237 delegates needed to claim the nomination.
As voters flooded to the polls, the presidential candidates lashed out at each other’s foreign policy prescriptions, showcasing sharp contrasts in confronting the threat of Islamic extremism.
Trump, the Republican front-runner, charged that the United States has “no choice” but to adopt his proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the country to prevent the spread of terrorism. He described as “eggheads” those who respect international law’s ban on torture, the use of which he argued would have prevented the day’s attacks.
“We can be nice about it, and we can be politically correct about it, but we’re being fools,” Trump said in an interview on CNN. “We’re going to have to be very strong, or we’re not going to have a country left.”
Clinton and Trump’s Republican rivals, meanwhile, questioned the GOP front-runner’s temperament and readiness to serve as commander in chief, and condemned his calls to diminish U.S. involvement with NATO.
“I see the challenge ahead as one where we’re bringing the world together, where we’re leading the world against these terrorist networks,” Clinton said Tuesday at a union hall in Everett, Washington. “Some of my opponents want to build walls and shut the world off. Well, you tell me, how high does the wall have to be to keep the Internet out?”
Cruz seized on Trump’s foreign policy inexperience while declaring that the U.S. is at war with the Islamic State group.
“He doesn’t have the minimal knowledge one would expect from a staffer at the State Department, much less from the commander in chief,” he told reporters. “The stakes are too high for learning on the job.”
The debate between the two took a detour late Tuesday night as they engaged in an unusual Twitter exchange about their wives.
The billionaire warned Cruz he would “spill the beans on your wife” after an anti-Trump outside group ran an ad in Utah featuring Trump’s wife, Melania, in a photo shoot that ran in GQ magazine more than a decade ago.
Cruz shot back with a tweet of his own, saying in part, “Donald, if you try to attack Heidi, you’re more of a coward than I thought.”
Trump’s brash tone has turned off some Republican voters in Utah, where preference polls suggest Cruz has a chance to claim more than 50 percent of the caucus vote — and with it, all 40 of Utah’s delegates. Trump could earn some delegates should Cruz fail to exceed 50 percent, in which case the delegates would be awarded based on each candidate’s vote total.
Trump supporter Easton Brady, 19, of Provo, Utah, cheered the billionaire’s brash style, even as he acknowledged Trump doesn’t play as well in Utah as other parts of the country.
“I think Trump says a lot of dumb things, but he’s human,” Brady said. “I don’t care.”
On the Democratic side, Clinton’s delegate advantage is even greater than Trump’s.
The former secretary of state is coming off last week’s five-state sweep of Sanders, who remains popular among his party’s most liberal voters but needs to improve his performance if he expects to stay relevant. The Vermont senator, now trailing Clinton by more than 300 pledged delegates, has targeted Tuesday’s races as the start of a comeback tour.
Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey in Everett, Washington, Jonathan Lemire in New York, Jill Colvin in Washington and Michelle Price in Orem, Utah, contributed to this report.
The post Clinton, Trump add to delegate leads with Arizona victories appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Jeb Bush says he’s endorsing Ted Cruz for president.
Bush tweeted Wednesday that “Ted is a consistent, principled conservative who has shown he can unite the party.”
There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.
He added on his Facebook page that Republicans “must overcome the divisiveness and vulgarity Donald Trump has brought into the political arena” or risk losing to Hillary Clinton.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will deliver a speech on Capitol Hill on Wednesday addressing the political discourse in this election and describing “what politics can be.” PBS NewsHour will live stream the address at 11 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON — This year’s political campaigns are discouraging and risk alienating people from government and dimming their hopes for the future, House Speaker Paul Ryan says in a speech aiming to describe “what politics can be.”
The remarks by Ryan, R-Wis., come amid campaigns for each party’s presidential nomination that have been particularly overheated on the Republican side. GOP front-runner Donald Trump and his party rivals have repeatedly belittled each other with personal insults, while the Democratic contest between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has been less confrontational.
“Looking around at what’s taking place in politics today, it is easy to get disheartened,” Ryan says in excerpts released by his office ahead of a Wednesday speech. “How many of you find yourself just shaking your head at what you see from both sides?”
Ryan said that while skepticism is beneficial, “When people distrust politics, they come to distrust institutions. They lose faith in their government, and the future, too. We can acknowledge this. But we can’t accept it. And we can’t enable it either.”
The speaker has remained officially neutral in his party’s presidential contest so far, even as other GOP leaders have openly searched for ways to prevent Trump from clinching the nomination before the party’s July convention in Cleveland.
He has publicly criticized Trump on three occasions without mentioning the billionaire’s name: for calling for a ban on Muslim immigrants, failing to strenuously disavow his endorsement by a former Ku Klux Klan leader and fueling anger at political events.
Ryan, his party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, has said he is not interested in running for president should the current candidates falter. He said the same thing last fall but was eventually talked into becoming speaker after John Boehner, R-Ohio, was hounded from the post by conservatives.
In the excerpts, Ryan said he preferred to focus on “a brighter horizon.”
“Instead of talking about what politics is today, I want to talk about what politics can be. I want to talk about what our country can be,” he said.
Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said congressional interns from both parties were being invited to the speech, “young minds getting their first taste of politics.”
Ryan was scheduled to deliver his remarks from the hearing room of the House Ways and Means Committee, which he chaired briefly before becoming speaker.
The post WATCH LIVE: Ryan to deliver speech on current state of politics at 11 a.m. EDT appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WHAT WE KNOW NOW:
Three men wheeling suitcases through the Brussels airport are suspected of setting off explosions on Tuesday at a Brussels airport and subway station, killing at least 34 people and wounding 200. Two of the suspects died in the attack. A third suspect is on the run.
Two of the suspects were identified as brothers Khalid and Brahim El Bakraoui, who were thought to have blown themselves up, one at the Brussels airport and one at a subway station in the Belgian capital. The third suspect remains unidentified, and Belgian authorities continued raids on Wednesday to find him.
According to Belgian media, Khalid El Bakraoui had rented an apartment in Brussels that led authorities to capture and arrest the suspect last week in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for both the Brussels and Paris attacks.
Belgium is holding three days of mourning, and government offices and schools are closed. People remembered the victims with a moment of silence on Wednesday morning.
Belgium remains at the highest terrorism threat level. The airport in Brussels will remain closed until at least Thursday night.
The U.S. State Department, meanwhile, has issued a travel alert for Europe, which doesn’t tell people not to travel to the continent but encourages travelers to remain vigilant and get the contact information of local U.S. embassies in case of emergencies.
About a dozen American citizens were injured in the Brussels attacks, and the State Department is trying to contact more citizens at the U.S. missions in Brussels to make sure they are safe, said Mark Toner, department deputy spokesman.
Brussels, an international city with a mixture of nationalities, is concerned about radicalization, said Toner on CNN. Countries have been making steady gains against the Islamic State militants in places like Iraq and Syria. “But clearly radicalization remains a problem” elsewhere, he said.
The post Here’s what links the Brussels suspects to the Paris attack appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
— Ruba Odeh (@ruba_odeh1) March 23, 2016
After Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz called for police to monitor Muslims on Tuesday, Muslim Americans responded on Twitter by showing images from their everyday lives.
In his response to Tuesday’s terror attacks in Brussels, for which the Islamic State has claimed responsibility, Cruz called for law enforcement to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”
Cruz released an official statement through his presidential campaign and his Senate office.
Cruz did not provide specifics as to how this proposal — one that President Obama deemed “un-American” — would be implemented.
Since Cruz’s statement, many Muslim Americans have tweeted pictures of their own neighborhoods using the hashtag #MuslimNeighborhood to show the presidential candidate that there is no difference between a “Muslim neighborhood” and an American one.
— Abdullah T. Antepli (@aantepli) March 23, 2016
— Scott Wooledge (@Clarknt67) March 23, 2016
— Asma (@LibyanBentBladi) March 23, 2016
— Suehaila Amen (@SuehailaAmen) March 23, 2016
— Hazel Gómez (@Palunquita) March 23, 2016
— Ashley Spry (@Ashley_spry09) March 23, 2016
The post Muslim Americans show Ted Cruz their neighborhoods on Twitter appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Before speaking Monday to the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in the country, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (or AIPAC), presidential candidate Donald Trump — who famously says he’s his own best adviser — sought counsel from Jewish friends and other figures in the community.
Act presidential, they advised, and serious. Clear up ambiguities you’ve created on issues that matter to Israel. Stay away from irrelevant domestic issues, and avoid riffs against Muslims, immigrants or your opponents. And for heaven’s sake, use a script.
He needed some advice. Many Jewish voters, even the 25 to 30 percent who vote Republican, have been disquieted by the vulgarity of his remarks, his equivocating response to the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and other white supremacists, his denigration of Mexican and Muslim immigrants and his pledge to be “neutral” in mediating between Israel and the Palestinians. A group of rabbis were threatening to walk out of his speech in protest.
Remarkably, Trump followed his friends’ advice. He used a teleprompter, something he has mocked President Obama for doing. And on substance, Trump nearly pulled it off. But not quite.
Bathed in the dramatic sports arena lighting of Washington’s Verizon Center stage, amid some 18,000 people, Trump declared himself “a lifelong supporter of Israel” and then hit what many ardent Israel supporters consider the right notes on all the key issues.
“My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.” Check.
“We will totally dismantle Iran’s global terror network which is big and powerful, but not powerful like us.” Check.
“No one has done anything about it [Iran’s ballistic missiles testing]… I promise you, we will.” Check.
For a moment, he abandoned his script to ad-lib a jab at the president. “With President Obama in his final year — yay,” he said, leading many in the audience in cheers and laughter. “He may be the worst thing to ever happen to Israel, believe me, believe me.”
Then back on message. He would veto any UN blueprint for an Israeli Palestinian deal, which President Obama is considering introducing. And he would move the U.S. embassy to “the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem,” though the Palestinians also claim Jerusalem.
The audience had applauded Trump politely when he entered amid blaring sports arena music. And there was no mass walkout of protestors, though some in the halls outside wore buttons saying “I’m boycotting Trump.” But Trump’s forthright statements on those hot-button issues for Israel won thunderous cheers. “I love Israel. I love Israel,” he ended exuberantly. “In fact, my daughter Ivanka is about to have a beautiful Jewish baby.”
Democratic congressman Brad Sherman of California was trolling through the press section amid the waves of applause. “He’s the best stadium entertainer in politics,” he sniffed. “But he’s light on content.”
I rode down the elevator with a Republican couple who had voted for now-defunct candidate Marco Rubio in their state primary. “We were dubious, but Trump said all the right things,” the man said. “I don’t know if he believes them. I hope he does.” His wife sounded less convinced.
But it seemed as if Trump — a man not known for finesse — had pulled off his delicate assignment.
Yet yesterday morning, barely 12 hours after Trump spoke, AIPAC president Lillian Pinkus reopened the conference by slamming Trump for attacking President Obama. “We do not countenance ad hominem attacks,” she said, visibly upset. “And we take great offense to those that are levied against the president of the United States from our stage.”
Her underlying message: Trump had shown himself insensitive to a particularly touchy issue in the Jewish community: AIPAC’s struggle to regain its non-partisan image after openly siding with Republicans last summer against the Obama Administration over the Iran nuclear deal. “It brought back memories of a very painful summer,” said one prominent rabbi. “His level of ignorance is appalling.”
More broadly, the reasons many Jewish voters are uneasy with Trump have little or nothing to do with Israel.
“I haven’t taken a poll, but I sense talking to many that at least three-quarters of Jewish voters see him as very scary,” said Dennis Ross, a longtime Israeli-Palestinian negotiator who has served presidents of both parties. “It’s the intolerance, the demagoguery, his seeming promotion of violence, the debasing of the political culture, the fundamental lack of civility — and he seems to run a content-free slogan campaign.”
Yet traveling the country, Ross has run into Jews who make a point of telling him they’re supporting Trump — one in Texas for his anti-immigration stance, another in Arizona because “we need someone who’s tough, who says things other people are afraid to.”
What might surprise Trump is that many Jews are frightened less by his stance on Israel than by his proposals to put up a wall with Mexico, and temporarily bar all Muslim immigrants or patrol Muslim neighborhoods.
“The concerns I hear begin with him being unknown and untested as a political leader,” said David Harris, head of the non-partisan global advocacy group, American Jewish Committee. “But at the heart of it are things he’s said that are contrary to the core values of many Jews. When he paints with a broad-brush about another group — Muslims, or Latinos — many Jews say to themselves, ‘Whoa, we’ve been there, and we know where it leads.’ So even if he’s not putting down Jews, we feel immediate anxiety.”
Others worry that his negative comments about Muslims will only add fuel to the anti-American fire among some Muslims abroad, or even here at home. It’s a theme Hillary Clinton has addressed, tweeting late last year: “Declaring war on Islam or demonizing Muslim Americans is not only counter to our values — it plays right into the hands of terrorists.”
What’s more, by the end of the AIPAC conference yesterday, word had spread of what many viewed as another Trump faux-pas: a front-page Washington Post story about a non-interventionist tone he struck in a Monday meeting with editors there. He’d suggested the U.S. could dial back on its involvement with the 67-year-old NATO alliance, for example. “At what point do you say, ‘Hey, we have to take care of ourselves,’” the Post reported Trump as saying. “I know the outer world exists. But our country is disintegrating…”
“Most Jewish voters want a muscular president, one who defends U.S. interests around the world,” said the head of a prominent conservative Jewish organization who asked not to be named. “They get nervous with one who’s disengaged.”
The AJC’s Harris, speaking to me yesterday from Brussels after the bombings, said much the same. “Our view is the world needs American leadership. Where it’s missing, bad actors try to fill the space and not just in the Middle East.” Yesterday’s bloody bombings only drove the point home, he said. “When a presidential candidate says, ‘We should stay home,’ we know the world will be more dangerous, and we’ll have to go back at higher cost.”
You may ask, why does Jewish opinion matter to Trump in his bid for the nomination? Jews are just 6 percent of the electorate, and only one-fourth to one-third of them vote Republican. But there are primaries coming up with lots of Jewish voters, such as in New York and New Jersey. And his positions on Israel are also important to a crucial non-Jewish Republican voting group, Christian evangelicals.
Finally, though Trump proudly proclaims he’s financing his own primary campaign (including loans), in a general election he will need outside donors. “There are big Republican Jewish donors who aren’t even sure he’s a reliable Republican on economic issues,” said the head of a major conservative Jewish group who knows these wealthy Republican business figures. “They’re not on board yet. And it’s not clear what they’ll do if he’s nominated: support Hillary, sit on their hands or reluctantly endorse him.”
For now, they don’t need to decide. Many primaries are over. And even in Maryland, where a primary looms, they still have an out. Jonathan Maltzman, rabbi of Kol Shalom synagogue in the Washington suburbs, says that among the minority of his congregants who are Republican, “not a single one will admit they’ll vote for him or Ted Cruz. They think he’s too off the wall. Their cop out is that they’ll vote for John Kasich, or not at all.”
These are concerns that even a near-flawless AIPAC speech won’t quiet.
The post Despite Trump’s tight script at AIPAC, Jewish voters still aren’t sure appeared first on PBS NewsHour.