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- 03/25/16--15:40: _Fighting ISIS, on t...
- 03/25/16--15:45: _News Wrap: Suicide ...
- 03/25/16--15:50: _More raids and arre...
- 03/26/16--08:55: _Sanders scores Satu...
- 03/26/16--09:25: _Why do we tip?
- 03/26/16--10:31: _Trump under fire fo...
- 03/26/16--10:43: _ISIS claims suicide...
- 03/26/16--10:46: _Black women uniting...
- 03/26/16--10:51: _The Cherokee Nation...
- 03/26/16--11:22: _Obama offers prayer...
- 03/26/16--12:16: _Obama’s visit stirs...
- 03/26/16--12:45: _Could anti-Trump pr...
- 03/26/16--14:17: _After Brussels atta...
- 03/26/16--14:18: _Michigan lawmakers ...
- 03/26/16--14:40: _Rethinking wages fo...
- 03/27/16--08:54: _Trump’s penchant fo...
- 03/27/16--11:10: _Women and children ...
- 03/27/16--11:23: _From Fifth Avenue t...
- 03/27/16--12:32: _Syrian forces retak...
- 03/27/16--12:34: _Are foreign recruit...
- 03/25/16--15:40: Fighting ISIS, on the battlefield and online
- 03/25/16--15:45: News Wrap: Suicide bomber strikes soccer game in Iraq
- 03/25/16--15:50: More raids and arrests as Belgian authorities seek terror suspects
- 03/26/16--08:55: Sanders scores Saturday sweep; Clinton retains delegate lead
- 03/26/16--09:25: Why do we tip?
- 03/26/16--10:31: Trump under fire for jabs aimed at Cruz’s wife
- 03/26/16--10:43: ISIS claims suicide strike that killed at least 41 in Iraq
- 03/26/16--10:46: Black women uniting in support for Clinton in 2016
- 03/26/16--11:22: Obama offers prayers to Belgium, saying ‘America has their back’
- 03/26/16--12:16: Obama’s visit stirs call for change in Cuba — but will it last?
- 03/26/16--12:45: Could anti-Trump protesters propel his candidacy forward?
- 03/26/16--14:18: Michigan lawmakers approve emergency aid for Detroit schools
- 03/26/16--14:40: Rethinking wages for tipped workers
- 03/27/16--08:54: Trump’s penchant for phone interviews draws network ire
- 03/27/16--11:10: Women and children among dozens killed in Pakistan park bombing
- 03/27/16--12:32: Syrian forces retake ancient city of Palmyra from Islamic State
- 03/27/16--12:34: Are foreign recruits causing ideological rifts in ISIS?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joe Dunford, spoke this morning at the Pentagon about the fight against the Islamic State. While hailing operations to kill top ISIS leaders like the one we reported earlier, they sought to put the longer war in context.
ASHTON CARTER, Secretary of Defense: There’s no question that this individual and other individuals we have eliminated have been part of the apparatus of ISIL to recruit and to motivate foreign fighters, both to return from Iraq and Syria to countries in Europe and elsewhere, and also simply by using the Internet and other communications to do so.
Even if it’s just inspiration, it still takes you back to Iraq and Syria and the need to eliminate the sources of that inspiration.
GEN. JOSEPH DUNFORD, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff: While ISIL has not been able to seize ground in the past several months, that hasn’t precluded them from conducting terrorist attacks, and it hasn’t precluded them from conducting operations that are more akin to guerrilla operations than the conventional operations that we saw when they were seizing territory.
So, I think the momentum is in our favor. I think there’s a lot of reasons for us to be optimistic about the next several months. But by no means would I say that we’re about to break the back of ISIL or that the fight is over.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Dunford and Carter also spoke of expanding the role of U.S. Marines in Northern Iraq and the possibility of sending more forces in the coming weeks, adding to the nearly 4,000 already there.
We examine the state of the fight against ISIS now with retired Army Colonel Derek Harvey. He was an intelligence officer and special adviser to the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus. He’s now a professor at the University of South Florida. And Brendan Koerner is a contributing editor at “Wired” magazine. He’s the author of an upcoming article about ISIS and its use of social media.
And we welcome you both to the program.
Colonel Harvey, to you first. How important was this number two figure at ISIS who we have been talking about who has evidently been killed by U.S. forces?
COL. DEREK HARVEY (RET.), Former Army Intelligence Officer: Well, Judy, I usually don’t get very excited about taking out a senior leader through the decapitation strategy, but Haji Imam is a very important person, for one particular reason.
It’s not just that he’s number two, but he connects the Islamic State to key core al-Qaida senior leaders, operatives at that level. Plus, he is closely tied in and historically was tied in with the order of the Naqshbandi army, Izzat al-Douri’s insurgency wing from the former regime days. Those entities…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meaning Saddam Hussein.
COL. DEREK HARVEY: Saddam Hussein’s former vice president, and he was an architect of the original insurgency back in 2003 and 2004 before becoming part of al-Qaida in Iraq with Zarqawi.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, by eliminating him, assuming he’s been killed, and the other ISIS leadership the U.S. says has been eliminated, where does that leave the state of the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria?
COL. DEREK HARVEY: I still — I think it’s a very bleak picture, because what we have had to do is destroy urban centers, Sunni Arab cities in order to clear those areas of the Islamic State, Ramadi, Tikrit, Baiji, those types.
And we’re probably going to wind up doing the same in Mosul. And the humanitarian issues, the fallout, the civil war, the core issues have not been addressed yet. It’s necessary to go after the Islamic State militarily, but there is so much more to do and it’s still very bleak.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Derek Harvey, one more question. Secretary of State John Kerry was saying today in Europe — he essentially that because ISIS is losing ground in Iraq and Syria that they’re lashing out in Europe.
He said they’re resorting to actions outside the Middle East because their fantasy of a caliphate is collapsing.
COL. DEREK HARVEY: I think that’s just plain wrong.
The Islamic State has for two years been talking in their speeches and in their communications about conducting operations in Europe and elsewhere. This wasn’t a lashing out. This is part of their normal operational profile. And we are going to see more of it, particularly as we see these foreign fighters move back to areas around the world, not just just Europe, but North Africa and Asia.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Brendan Koerner, when it comes to these foreign fighters, we know that the — certainly one of the main ways ISIS appeals to them and tries to recruit fighters is using social media.
And you have done a lot of reporting and research on that. You wrote that — you said it’s as much a — that ISIS is as much as a media conglomerate as it is a fighting force. What do you mean by that?
BRENDAN KOERNER, Wired Magazine: Well, I think it goes back to its earliest days back in 2004, when it was really just a rogue al-Qaida offshoot in Iraq.
They understood the value of pushing out content, specifically videos of atrocities, into the world. Therefore, they could recruit very brutal young men to come join their struggle. As the organization evolved, it made media very central to its ideology and to its organization.
It now has many different media offices which all manufacture content it pushes out through social media to every corner of the world tailored to specific audiences, whether it be in the Balkans, in Chechnya or in the Western world.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Give us an example, Brendan Koerner, of how that works. I know there’s been a lot of reporting about this over many months, but in your reporting, what did you find?
And I was struck you also wrote that — quote — “They have a cockroach-like resilience.”
Explain what you mean by that.
BRENDAN KOERNER: Well, certainly, on social media, the supporters of the Islamic State who are really from all over the world are often expelled from social networks for their speech.
And yet within hours usually of being booted from Twitter or Facebook, or what have you, they’re right back at it. They’re registering new accounts, they’re using false identities, false cell phones to get back on. So they’re hard to stamp out in disseminating their messages.
I also found on a story that I wrote for “Wired” that the atrocities that we see in many videos, that is a very small personally of what Islamic State’s media operation manufactures. What they’re really good at is making videos that portray the so-called caliphate they’re building in Syria and Iraq and elsewhere as kind of a paradise, a place where people can bring their spouses and families and flourish and practice what they say is true Islam.
It’s very effective content for young men.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And what’s the best way for the West, for the United States to counter this?
BRENDAN KOERNER: Well, I don’t think it is just focusing our efforts exclusively on tamping down speech.
I think it’s in creating better speech. For example, the Islamic State is clearly frightened by the outflow of refugees. We have seen a lot of media created that excoriates those who flee from these territories. I think we need to take advantage of those refugees, give them the tools to make their own content to tell their stories to the world. That is going to be the best salve against what the Islamic State’s media is putting out.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Derek Harvey, Colonel Harvey, how much does it matter that progress is made against ISIS in the social media realm, this media conglomerate realm that Mr. is Koerner describing?
COL. DEREK HARVEY: I think it’s very important in order to tamp down the prospects for the lone wolves as well as the recruitment and the finances that flow into this Islamic State organization. But I think, you know, to pivot off his comments, al Qaeda in Iraq and other jihadist groups are framing their position as a more moderate~ jihadism, and they are actively recruiting in Syria and Iraq, but in Turkey in the refugee camps, in Jordan, and now into Europe.
And they are framing their narrative in a way that we can have the fight without the brutality and the extremism. And so they’re well-positioned to be, you~r know, al-Qaida 4.0 after the end of this, once ISIS is attrited, unless we really go after the core issues. And I don’t see enough effort in addressing the two civil wars and this conflict within Islam.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you see that as a threat as well, Brendan Koerner, this idea that they keep appealing to the peaceful, the pleasant side of what they say will be the future under their rule?
BRENDAN KOERNER: Well, clearly, the agility of the Islamic State’s media is one of its trademarks, the fact that they can respond to current circumstances and shift their message.
And they have done that very effectively. You can see right now, clearly, Libya is becoming a new front in the struggle against the Islamic State. And they have been very good about producing media surrounding its Libyan ventures, trying to portray that area as a place where people can now emigrate to and participate in the struggle for this caliphate.
So I think we need to be very, very fast about the way we address this situation because they’re clearly one step ahead of us right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, many alarm bells out of this conversation, even as there is progress being made on the~ battlefield.
Brendan Koerner, we thank you. Colonel Derek Harvey, thank you.
COL. DEREK HARVEY: Thank you, Judy.
BRENDAN KOERNER: Thank you so much.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Heavy fighting raged for a third day, as government troops fought to retake Palmyra from ISIS. The army and its militia allies seized an ancient citadel, backed by Russian air support. Capturing Palmyra could open much of Eastern Syria to government forces, but large parts of the town remain under the militants’ control.
Meanwhile, in Iraq a suicide bomber killed 29 people at a soccer match south of Baghdad. At least 60 others were wounded. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
A Korean-American arrested in North Korea confessed today to stealing military secrets. State television showed Kim Dong Chul at a news conference in Pyongyang. The 62-year-old was arrested last October. Today, he tearfully admitted to spying for the U.S. and South Korea.
KIM DONG CHUL, Detained Korean-American (through interpreter): The extraordinary crime I committed was defaming and insulting the republic’s highest dignity and its system, and spreading false propaganda aimed at breaking down its solidarity.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Earlier this month, North Korea sentenced Otto Warmbier, an American college student, to 15 years for trying to steal a propaganda banner.
Much of the Christian world marked Good Friday today. In Jerusalem’s Old City, thousands walked the Way of the Cross. It’s the route that, according to tradition, Jesus took to his crucifixion. Later, Pope Francis led Good Friday services at the Vatican. Hundreds of worshipers filled St. Peter’s Basilica.
And in the Philippines, some of the faithful had themselves nailed to crosses, including one who did it for the 30th year. Thousands of tourists looked on and took pictures.
And TV writer Earl Hamner Jr. has died of pneumonia in Los Angeles. He was best known for creating “The Waltons,” based on his own upbringing in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It ran for nine seasons, starting in 1972, and won 12 Emmys. Earl Hamner Jr. was 92 years old.
Still to come on the “NewsHour”: how the U.S. is fighting ISIS; Mark Shields and David Brooks take on this week’s news; beating cancer in one of America’s poorest communities; from groups of white supremacists to lone wolves, exploring a racist undercurrent in the United States; and much more.
The post News Wrap: Suicide bomber strikes soccer game in Iraq appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: This was the third and final day of official mourning in Belgium for victims of the Islamic State attacks in Brussels. And there was confirmation that two Americans were among the 31 dead. That word came as raids spread across the Belgian capital.
Malcolm Brabant has our coverage, from Brussels.
MALCOLM BRABANT: One raid centered on this residential neighborhood, where police suited up in bomb disposal outfits to enter two apartments. State TV reported two explosions. Cell phone footage also showed a raid on a bus stop, where a suspect was believed to be carrying a suitcase filled with explosives. He was shot in the leg and arrested.
MAN: He was sitting at the bus stop with his daughter. And after that, two cars, two special cars from the police coming, and they told him to stop. He tried to do something, boom, boom, two shots.
MALCOLM BRABANT: All told, there were three daytime arrests across the city, in addition to seven others overnight. All this follows Tuesday’s suicide attacks on the Brussels airport and the Molenbeek metro station. They came within days of police raids in the Molenbeek neighborhood last week that led to the capture of Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam.
Some of today’s activity happened in the nearby Schaerbeek neighborhood, where three days ago police also found a large stash of explosives. Meanwhile, Belgium’s nuclear plants added security and withdrew entry badges from some staff amid concern the plants could become terror targets.
Investigators also named a new suspect, 28-year-old Syrian Naim al-Hamed. They now believe he had some role in Tuesday’s assault. The attacks underscore the intelligence challenges across Europe with 28 countries in the European Union, each with its own security services, and communication among them muddled.
Claude Moniquet is a former French spy, and head of a security consultancy, the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center.
CLAUDE MONIQUET, European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center: The services, police and intelligence, are overwhelmed by a threat which is not sized to Europe. We are facing thousands, thousands of possible potential terrorists. At the time of al-Qaida, for instance, we were facing maybe 500 to 1,000 people in Europe, and it was already considered a very hard threat. Today, we have at least 10 times more people to confront and to survey.
MALCOLM BRABANT: But how does the West counter the appeal of the Islamic State amongst young Muslims? Moroccan-born Rachid Benzine is a professor of Islamic studies. He says European governments must strive harder to help them integrate and give them a sense of belonging.
RACHID BENZINE, Professor, Islamic Studies at Protestant Institute of Theology (through interpreter): Our young people are not being radicalized in mosques. The phenomenon of radicalization is taking place within the family unit and with their friends and peers. We need to provide them with the tools so that our young people are sufficiently armed against the ideology facing us, because if you don’t fully integrate young people, their imagination will automatically create a symbolic identity, and people can die for that.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Such concerns were in the air today as Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Belgium to meet with Prime Minister Charles Michel on defeating ISIS.
CHARLES MICHEL, Prime Minister, Belgium (through interpreter): With John Kerry to discuss the fight against terrorism, how is it possible to do better, how is it possible to work together in order to be more efficient?
JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: We will not rest until we have eliminated your nihilistic beliefs and cowardice from the face of this earth.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Later, Kerry placed a wreath of flowers at a makeshift memorial for the victims at Brussels Airport.
And at Bourse Plaza, which has also become a memorial site, the Brussels Philharmonic played an impromptu tribute today to the victims. The Flemish Radio Choir joined them to finish with a performance of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” a European anthem, and a hymn of hope for the future.
Away from Brussels, police in neighboring countries are on the move. In France, the authorities say that a man arrested there was in the advanced stages of plotting a new strike and had ties to the ringleader of Paris’ attacks last November. And in Germany, authorities are questioning two people who have potential links to the Brussels operation — Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Malcolm Brabant in Brussels tonight, thank you.
The post More raids and arrests as Belgian authorities seek terror suspects appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Bernie Sanders scored three wins in Western caucus contests, giving a powerful psychological boost to his supporters but doing little to move him closer to securing the Democratic nomination.
While results in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii barely dented Hillary Clinton’s significant delegate lead, Sanders’ wins on Saturday underscored her persistent vulnerabilities within her own party, particularly with young voters and activists who have been inspired by her rival’s unapologetically liberal message.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Sanders cast his performance as part of a Western comeback, saying he expects to close the delegate gap with Clinton as the contest moves to the more liberal northeastern states, including her home state of New York. He also said his campaign is increasing its outreach to superdelegates, the party insiders who can pick either candidate and are overwhelmingly with Clinton.
“The Deep South is a very conservative part of the country,” he said. “Now that we’re heading into a progressive part of the country, we expect to do much better.”
He added: “There is a path to victory.” With Clinton far in front, however, it is a difficult path.
Clinton anticipated the losses: She barely campaigned in the three states, making just one day of stops in Washington state, and was spending the Easter weekend with her family.
She is turning her focus to the April 19 contest in New York, seeking to win a large share of the delegates at stake and to avoid the blow of losing to Sanders in a state she represented in the Senate. She is trying to lock up an even larger share of delegates in five northeastern contests a week later, hoping to deliver a big enough haul to unify the Democratic Party and relegate Sanders to little more than a protest candidate.
Sanders, who’s found some success in the industrial Midwest, wants to leverage his working-class support and fiery arguments against free trade into an April 5 victory in delegate-rich Wisconsin. He also plans to compete fiercely in New York and is pushing for the party to schedule a debate in the state, saying in the interview that it would be “really absurd” if one did not take place.
After Sanders’ three wins on Saturday, Clinton held a delegate lead of 1,243 to 975 over Sanders, according to an Associated Press analysis, an advantage that expands to 1,712 to 1,004 once the superdelegates are included. It takes 2,383 delegates to win.
Based on the AP count, Sanders needs to win more than 57 percent of the remaining delegates from primaries and caucuses to have a majority of those delegates by June’s end.
His bar is even higher when the party officials are considered. He needs to win more than 67 percent of the remaining delegates overall – from primaries, caucuses and the ranks of uncommitted superdelegates – to prevail.
He did not emerge from his Saturday sweep with significantly more delegates, winning 55 delegates to Clinton’s 20 for the day after his victories in Alaska, Washington and Hawaii. More are likely to be allocated to Sanders in several weeks, when the Washington state Democratic Party releases vote shares by district. Sixty-seven delegates are awarded based on results in the state’s congressional districts.
But there’s little question that Sanders has tapped into a powerful frustration within the party. He continues to attract tens of thousands to his rallies and has collected more than $140 million from 4.7 million donations.
Most of his 15 primary-season wins have been in states with largely white populations and in caucus contests, which tend to attract the most active liberal Democrats. He’s heavily favored by younger voters, who were a key part of the coalition that twice boosted President Barack Obama to victory. Clinton’s ability to win the White House, should she capture the nomination, will hinge on how well she can motivate his passionate – and politically active – supporters.
In Spokane, Washington, a huge line of caucus attendees – largely Sanders backers – snaked around a high school parking lot Saturday morning.
“I think one of the biggest things is free tuition for students,” said Savannah Dills, 24, a college student who supports Sanders. “And getting big money out of politics. He’s not paid for by billionaires.”
Retiree Dan McLay, 64, attended the caucus in a hard-hat, which he joked he needed because he was one of the relatively few Clinton supporters in the big crowd.
“Look at this thing in Brussels,” McLay said, referring to the deadly attack in Belgium this week. “We need a real experienced leader.”
It was strong support for Sanders that brought Kirsa Hughes-Skandijs out to her first caucus in Juneau, Alaska.
“This is the first time I’ve ever felt that kind of belief in a candidate, that they mean what they say and that they are not saying what they think people want to hear,” she said.
This report was written by Lisa Lerer of the Associated Press. Associated Press writers Hope Yen in Washington; Nicholas K. Geranios, Walker Orenstein and Rachel La Corte in Washington state; Bryna Godar in Madison, Wisconsin; and Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska, contributed to this report.
The post Sanders scores Saturday sweep; Clinton retains delegate lead appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
There are perhaps few customs more American than tipping.
While tipping is not usually mandatory, it is the prevailing practice to leave a tip after meal at pretty much every restaurant in the United States. For the vast majority of servers and bartenders in America, tips make up a substantial part of their income.
The practice of tipping has coincided with a patchwork tipped wage system in America that often creates complications and woes for restaurant employees and employers alike. Some restaurants are even pioneering no-tipping policies.
But what are the social forces behind why customers tip?
After Michael Lynn, a professor at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, paid his way through school by waiting tables and bartending, he began researching the science of gratuities.
Lynn has since published more than 50 papers on the topic, examining everything from racial bias in tipping practices to whether giving after-dinner candy increases a server’s tips (the answer is yes).
Here’s an excerpt of Lynn’s conversation with PBS NewsHour Weekend.
This Q&A has been edited for space and clarity.
NEWSHOUR: What are the motivations behind tipping?
MICHAEL LYNN: I think that there are five basic motives for tipping. Some people tip to show off. Some people tip to help the server, to supplement their income and make them happy. Some people tip to get future service. And then other people tip to avoid disapproval: You don’t want the server to think badly of you. And some people tip out of a sense of duty.
There are people who tip to reward servers for service. If the server does a great job, I want to express my gratitude so that is another motivation for tipping. But how strong is that motivation? My research suggests it’s not terribly strong. I find the relationship is so weak that it would be wrong to use tipping as a measure of service quality.
People often say that’s their major motivation for tipping if you were to ask them. But when we ask people how much they tipped and how they would rate the quality of the service, less than four percent of the differences in tips left by different dining parties can be explained by their ratings of service quality.
NH: Then what is the driving force behind how much someone tips?
ML: First off, it’s explained by bill size. That alone explains about 70 percent of the differences in tip amounts left by different dining parties. That means that there is only 30 percent of the difference in tips left by different dining parties to be explained by everything else combined. So basically bill size is twice as powerful as everything else combined in determining how much you tip.
I also find that tipping is more common in countries that have very outgoing, extroverted social personalities and that people tip more in those countries with more extroverted personalities. Why is that? Because if I’m outgoing and social, I might be more likely to start tipping in the first place. Other people are likely to notice that I’m tipping and to feel the social pressure to tip, so these processes that produce tipping are facilitated by certain cultural values, by certain population characteristics and the combination of factors makes tipping much more common in the United States than elsewhere.
NH: How can servers increase their tips?
ML: The biggest thing a server can do is to sell more. That means if it’s a slow night, selling more means selling each customer more, so up sell, push desserts, drinks, etc. If it’s a busy night, selling more may mean not selling desserts and replacing that table with someone who’s gonna order another entrée, so turning tables.
After that, then what they need to do is to establish rapport, some social connection with the table. There are a lot of ways to do that: Introduce yourself by name, smile big smiles, touch them on the arm or shoulder, squat down next to the table when you’re interacting so that you’re more eye to eye level. If you learn their name, call them by their name. Anything you can do to increase social rapport is going to increase your tips pretty substantially.
NH: So the customer’s perception of the server is more important than their perception of the service?
ML: Yes. I may like a server and feel a social connection to him but not give him a super great rating of service. Or I could give someone a great service rating and feel no social connection to them. Their social connection and service ratings are not the same thing.
We know from experimental research that some of the things you can do to establish connection like touching someone on the arm or shoulder is gonna increase tips. If you squat down next to the table, you’re gonna make 75 cents to a dollar more per table. Those are fairly simple, concrete actions that I know will have an impact. If I tell you to improve service levels, how do you do that? It’s not as simple and concrete and easy and sure of success as performing these simple actions that we know increase rapport and increase tips.
NH: From an American customer’s standpoint, can our culture of tipping ever change?
ML: Probably not.
I think the dynamics of tipping are such that if restaurants today were to eliminate tipping, and replace it with an automatic service charge or higher menu prices, what you would find is some people would tip on top of those high menu prices on top of that service charge. Why? Because they want to help the server, because they want to show off, because they think the server did a spectacular job and deserves something extra.
But once those people start tipping, that’s going to put social pressure on everyone else to tip, too. And some people will succumb to that pressure, others won’t. But as those people who do succumb get added to the people who do it just because they want to for whatever reason, that increases the social pressure and it becomes this positive feedback loop and more and more pressure is put on people who otherwise didn’t want to. They’ll feel pressure to tip.
And that’s why, unless restaurants forbid their employees from accepting tips, I don’t think you’re going to be able to eliminate it in this country.
Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.
OSHKOSH, Wis. — Donald Trump’s latest rude comments about Ted Cruz’s wife are raising new alarms among Republicans about the party front-runner’s ability to win over women, especially in a potential fall presidential match-up with Hillary Clinton.
Trump is under fire for jabs at Heidi Cruz, as the rivals engage in an increasingly bitter, personal battle for the GOP presidential nomination. Hostilities reached a new high Friday when Cruz accused Trump and “his henchmen” of stoking false rumors that he’d cheated on his wife.
“We don’t want a president who traffics in sleaze and slime,” the Texas senator told reporters in Wisconsin. “We don’t want a president who seems to have a real issue with strong women.”
Trump’s history of sexist comments, from his “Apprentice” television program to racy interviews with radio host Howard Stern, have long been seen by Republicans as a potential vulnerability, especially in a general election match-up with Clinton, who would be the country’s first female president.
The issue took off in the first GOP debate when Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked Trump about calling women “fat pig,” ”dog” and other names. Her question sparked a continuing quarrel between Trump and the network.
Trump also faced a backlash after he was quoted in a “Rolling Stone” profile insulting businesswoman Carly Fiorina, who endorsed Cruz after she dropped out of the 2016 Republican race.
“Look at that face!” Trump was quoted saying. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”
The issue reignited Wednesday after an anti-Trump super PAC released an ad featuring a risque photo of his wife, Melania, a former model, taken in a GQ photo shoot.
“Meet Melania Trump. Your Next First Lady. Or, you could support Ted Cruz on Tuesday,” it read. Trump responded by falsely accusing Cruz of running the ad and warning, “Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!” Cruz’s wife is a former Goldman Sachs investment manager and White House aide, who served as economic policy adviser to President George W. Bush.
On Wednesday night, Trump escalated things when he re-tweeted side-by-side images of Cruz’s wife, with an unflattering grimace, and Melania in a gauzy, glamorous pose. “No need to ‘spill the beans'” read the caption. “The images are worth a thousand words.”
At an event Thursday in Wisconsin, Cruz responded by calling Trump “a sniveling coward” who has a problem with women – particularly “strong women.”
Cruz continued to dig in Friday, painting Trump’s comments as part of a larger pattern of misogyny.
“He’s directed these attacks at Megyn Kelly. He’s directed these attacks at Carly Fiorina. He’s directed these attacks at Columba Bush, Jeb Bush’s wife,” he said.
Though Trump continues to outdistance Cruz in the delegates that will decide the GOP nomination, recent polls have shown the billionaire’s favorability on the decline, particularly among women.
In a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 70 percent of women had a negative opinion of Trump. Nearly three quarters of women overall, and 39 percent of Republican women, had an unfavorable view of him in a recent CNN poll.
“He already had a gender gap prior to all this,” said Republican pollster David Winston. “The potential for that to be bigger now looms on the horizon.”
Katie Packer, a former top aide to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, and the founder of the anti-Trump Our Principles PAC, said all this spells trouble for the general election.
Packer, whose group was behind a recent ad that features women of various ages reading comments Trump has made about women, said Clinton remains vulnerable among many women.
However, she said, “If he loses women by 10 points more than Mitt Romney, it’s not a question of whether or not he loses, it’s a matter of who does he sweep out with him.”
Indeed, Trump’s latest tweeting struck a sour chord with some female suburban voters considered the key to victory in battleground states such as Colorado
“He makes all kinds of derogatory statements against women, and I just don’t like to hear that,” said Ilse Lucas, 70, a retired teacher’s aide who doesn’t consider herself a Democrat or Republican. Shopping in a suburb west of Denver, Lucas said Trump’s comments could drive independent voters like her to Clinton.
Cruz, meanwhile, worked to send a distinctly different signal Friday on a campaign trip ahead of Wisconsin’s April 5 primary.
At an Oshkosh manufacturing plant, Cruz was introduced by his wife, who praised him as her “best friend and partner.” After the introduction, he gave her a long hug as the audience cheered.
“In the last few days, Donald Trump has taken to attacking Heidi,” Cruz told the group, sparking boos that echoed through the warehouse.
“I’ll tell you something,” Cruz said. “I think Heidi is the most beautiful, brilliant, amazing, fantastic, loving mom, an incredible wife and she’s my best friend in the whole world and I love you with all of my heart.”
It was a message that, for some voters, couldn’t cover up the nasty fight between the two candidates.
“I don’t know what to say except that I’m disappointed in both of them,” said Jennifer Churchfield, a 52-year-old Republican from a suburb south of Denver. “The conversation needs to be about the economy, jobs, education, foreign policy. You know, things that matter.
“This is a non-debate,” she added. “What are they doing?”
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack at an Iraqi soccer stadium on Friday that killed 41 people and wounded dozens more.
A suicide bomber struck in the small town of Iskandariyah about 30 miles outside of Baghdad as trophies were reportedly being handed out to soccer players by local officials.
Many of the victims were children, some as young as 10 years old, including the bomber who appeared to be a teenager, according to a photo distributed by ISIS.
A cell phone video appearing to show the event captured images of the awards ceremony that was attended by hundreds of people before the bomb was ignited and those nearby scrambled to reach safety.
The video above shows footage of an explosion that may be disturbing to some viewers.
One Iraqi officials told Agence France-Presse that at least 17 of the victims were boys between the ages of 10 and 16.
“The suicide bomber cut through the crowd to approach the center of the gathering and blew himself up as the mayor was presenting awards to the players,” Ali Nashmi, 18, who attended the ceremony, told AFP. The mayor and several of his security team also were reported among the dead.
The attack comes as the United States this week announced the targeted killing of a top leader of the Islamic State and as Iraqi forces have regained territory against the militant organization, including parts of the western Iraqi province of Anbar .
The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moonon on Saturday extended their condolences to the victims of the attack.
“The terrorists are sparing no one,” he said. “They aim to strike at civilians everywhere and at any time, and to kill as many as possible. Yesterday it was spectators at a football game; a few weeks ago it was dozens of civilians waiting at a security checkpoint. They target funeral services and shopping malls. The international community stands with Iraqis in horror and outrage.”
Funerals were held for many of the victims on Saturday.
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DETROIT — From the pulpit of an African-American church in Detroit not long ago, Bishop Corletta Vaughn offered a rousing endorsement of Hillary Clinton that went far beyond politics.
With a smiling Clinton sitting a few feet away in the purple-walled Holy Ghost Cathedral, Vaughn said she had seen Clinton “take a licking and keep on ticking.” Alluding to Bill Clinton’s past infidelity, she added: “I’m not talking about politically. I’m talking about as a wife and a mother. That’s when I said: I love that woman. She taught so many of us as women how to stand in the face of adversity.”
During a primary season in which she has faced surprisingly strong competition and been bombarded with criticism of her trustworthiness, Clinton has maintained a strong bond with one significant bloc of Democratic Party voters. Black women, part of President Barack Obama’s winning coalition in 2008 and 2012, have locked arms behind Clinton, hailing her as a Democratic standard-bearer, survivor and friend.
“That determination and strength, particularly has meaning to African-American women,” said Sharon Reed, 60, a community college teacher from North Charleston, South Carolina. “Who has overcome more obstacles and darts and arrows than she has? And she’s still standing and she’s still strong.”
Though the primary contest is not over, Clinton, the former secretary of state, holds a big delegate lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and is considered likely to win the Democratic nomination. African-American women have played a big part: About 8 in 10 across all the states where exit polling has been conducted have voted for her, and in some cases support has been above 90 percent.
Clinton has fared less well with other groups, in particular with younger voters and white men, many of whom have preferred Sanders. But, as in past years, black women are demonstrating that they are motivated. So far, they have made up at least a slightly larger share of the electorate than black men in almost all states with significant black populations, and a significantly larger share in seven of those states.
She’ll need those women in November. When Democrat Obama won the past two elections, he counted on black women’s votes, and he got them. In 2008, some 68 percent voted in the general election, and 70 percent came out in 2012. According to exit polling, the vast majority voted for Obama.
Clinton’s campaign has sought to reinforce these bonds. At black churches and businesses, she has stressed her ties to the popular president and touted endorsements from leaders such as Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights icon. She has emphasized issues like criminal justice reform and gun control and is campaigning alongside black women who have lost children to gun violence.
“I really got the sense that she could really relate to us, as being mothers and women and daughters,” said Lucy McBath, whose teenage son Jordan Davis was shot and killed at a Jacksonville, Florida, gas station in 2012. Lucy McBath was part of a group of mothers who met with Clinton privately in the fall and has been out campaigning for her.
These efforts have been headed by LaDavia Drane, who joined the campaign last year as director of African-American outreach. She has sought out female pastors like Vaughn for Clinton’s church visits. She organized the meeting between Clinton and the mothers impacted by gun violence. And she has worked to establish grass-roots networks for black women such “Heels for Hillary” in cities around the country.
Drane described Clinton’s connection to mothers, particularly black mothers, as “a secret sauce, it’s a match made in heaven.”
Before black audiences, Clinton appears at ease. At the Detroit church, she opened up about her personal struggles.
“What has always guided me and supported me has been my faith,” she said. She recalled the parable of the prodigal son and seemed to reference her husband, now diligently campaigning for her. “When someone who has disappointed you, who has often disappointed themselves, decides to come home, it is human nature to say you’re not wanted … but that’s not what the father in this parable did.”
Evelyn Simien, a professor at the University of Connecticut who studies black voting patterns, said Clinton’s outreach has been savvy. But she also stressed that black women have long been active Democratic voters and they know Clinton far better than Sanders. She said this year’s support is not just about personal connection, but that “it comes down to politics and the issues.”
Clinton’s close relationships with black women date back to one of her first political mentors, Marian Wright Edelman, the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund. Black women have held top positions with Clinton over the years, including Maggie Williams, who was chief of staff when Clinton was first lady, and Cheryl Mills, chief of staff when she was secretary of state. In the current campaign, black women are in key roles, including senior spokeswoman Karen Finney and senior policy adviser Maya Harris. Strategist Minyon Moore has long served as an outside consultant.
“I feel a kinship to who she is. She knows and understands the battle that we fight every day,” said Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, a past chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “She has a special place for us because she really gets it.”
The post Black women uniting in support for Clinton in 2016 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
In Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation has waged war against hepatitis C.
With infection rates among Cherokee Indians nearly five times higher than other racial or ethnic groups in the U.S., the group has become the first community in the country and one of only a few in the world to set a goal of completely eliminating the virus from its population.
The virus, which is most commonly transmitted through the sharing of needles, can lead to liver damage, cancer and even death.
That’s why Cherokee Nation officials began working with the University of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State Health department and federal health officials to launch an initiative to tackle hep C by boosting screening efforts and using the latest pharmaceutical research.
Because the federal government is responsible for providing health care to all American Indians, more members of the Cherokee Nation and other native groups pass through tribal hospitals and outreach clinics.
Dr. Jorge Mera, Director of Infectious Diseases for the Cherokee Nation, says that makes it easier to screen nearly everyone for hepatitis C, a cornerstone of the project.
“Most of our patients will come in through the system at some point,” Mera said. “We will be able to screen them, and once we screen them and detect that they’re positive, engage them in care and hopefully treat them and cure them.”
One distinction being made is testing of all patients over age 20, a departure from the former strategy of singling out patients who had a history of intravenous drug use.
“We’re not doing screening based on risk factors, first because we know it doesn’t work well,” Mera said. “Many providers will not ask risk factors with patients. They don’t have the time to do it or it is a sensitive issue.”
Mera said he hopes the partnership will lead to discoveries that will be useful nationwide.
“We won’t be able to extrapolate what we do or find to every medical scenario in the United States, but I think everybody will learn a little bit from some of the things we did.”
Read the full transcript of this segment below:
STEPHEN FEE: Gaye Wheeler is sixty-one years old and lives on this quiet street in the town of Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. She’s a member of the Cherokee nation, a federally-recognized Indian tribe with 320 thousand members.
Wheeler works as a substance abuse counselor, helping men and women who struggle with addictions to drugs and alcohol. It’s a struggle she knows well; she started drinking at age 14.
GAYE WHEELER: “Then I graduated from high school and moved to Tulsa. And that’s when I started the intravenous drug use at the age of 18. I started off with crystal meth. That was the big thing then. And then I did cocaine. And mainly I did speedballs, heroin and cocaine.”
STEPHEN FEE: In the 1990s, Wheeler went to prison twice for drug-related offenses.
GAYE WHEELER: “When I came out the last time, I decided, you know, I had to do something different.”
STEPHEN FEE: She stopped using drugs, went to recovery meetings, regularly attended church, and stayed sober. Then last year, after a routine physical, she found out she had Hepatitis C. And so did a lot of her friends.
GAYE WHEELER: “Everybody I knew, everybody I ran with, everybody I used with.”
STEPHEN FEE: Hepatitis C is a virus that affects the liver and can lead to liver failure, cancer, and even death. But half of Americans who have hep c don’t even know it, in part because they’re not screened or diagnosed.
JORGE MERA: “It’s a silent epidemic in many ways.”
STEPHEN FEE: Doctor Jorge Mera is the director of infectious diseases for the Cherokee nation.
JORGE MERA: “Hepatitis C is a virus that the main form of transmission is intravenous drug use. That’s number one in the United States. It doesn’t produce symptoms for many years and even when it does, unless the providers are very familiar with hepatitis C, they tend to blame the symptoms on something else.”
STEPHEN FEE: Hepatitis C is a growing health crisis in the United States, now affecting three-and-a-half million Americans.
The problem is particularly acute for Native Americans and the Cherokee nation, where hep c infection rates are nearly five times the national average.
Native Americans are twice as likely to die from Hepatitis C than other Americans. That’s part of the reason the Cherokee Nation has made eliminating hep c one of its top public health priorities.
Alarmed by the disease, Cherokee officials in 2012 began working with the University of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma state health department, and eventually federal health officials to design a hep c elimination program that launched late last year.
Bill John Baker is principal chief of the Cherokee nation.
BILL JOHN BAKER: “Hep c has been– almost like the big C word of when you found out you had it, it was a death sentence.”
STEPHEN FEE: In addition to the health impact, Baker says the disease takes an economic toll.
BILL JOHN BAKER: “Most folks can’t work. They can’t function as the disease progresses. It’s a tremendous financial burden.”
STEPHEN FEE: The Cherokee health system serves 130-thousand Native Americans in Northeastern Oklahoma at its Main hospital and at eight outreach clinics. Like many Indian health systems, care is free for tribal members.
Doctor Mera says that makes it easier to screen nearly everyone, a cornerstone of the hep c elimination project.
JORGE MERA: “Most of our patients will come in through the system at some point. We will be able to screen them, and once we screen them and detect that they’re positive, engage them in care and hopefully treat them and cure them.”
STEPHEN FEE: Just imagine a skeptic watching this story, maybe thinks, you know, why should the Cherokee Nation be spending its resources on trying to fight the disease when they should really be going after drug use?
JORGE MERA: “Part of our hepatitis C program is to evaluate the need and visibility of starting opiate substitution clinics which is — it tackles the — it diminishes I.V. drug use. Definitely prevention is the answer, the long-term answer.
Right now we have to put the fire out because there’s a lot of people who are infected. And those people will develop liver — end-stage liver disease if we don’t treat ’em today.”
STEPHEN FEE: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helped design the Cherokee hep c program, which includes screening and treatment, as well as public information campaigns and a program to train healthcare providers to treat the disease.
Doctor John Ward directs the CDC’s viral hepatitis division. He says it’s not entirely clear why Native Americans are more likely to die from hep C.
JOHN WARD: Some of it could be under-recognition which is a problem throughout the country. They also have other co-factors that when brought together with hepatitis C accelerate the progression of their liver disease, and those other conditions include alcohol use and obesity.
STEPHEN FEE: The CDC recommends hep c screenings for all baby boomers — everyone born between 1945 and 1965…now aged 50 to 70.
But Doctor Mera discovered half of his Hepatitis C patients are younger than 50.
So now, under the tribe’s hep c elimination program, anyone over age 20 who comes through the Cherokee health system — for any reason — is screened for hep c, regardless of other risk factors.
JORGE MERA: We’re doing age targeted screening. We’re not doing screening based on risk factors, first because we know it doesn’t work well. Many providers will not ask risk factors with patients. They don’t have the time to do it or it is a sensitive issue.
STEPHEN FEE: When Gaye Wheeler was diagnosed as part of the hep c elimination program, she told a nurse she was worried about the treatment. Friends — and a close male relative — had experienced debilitating side effects like fatigue and depression.
GAYE WHEELER: I said, well, am I, what medication am I going to have to take? And she said well there’s new medications. And I was like, okay. But you know in my own mind after I hung up, I thought, wow, is this going to be like what he had to go through?
STEPHEN FEE: In addition to those side effects, the main drugs used to treat hep c until a few years ago — Interferon and Ribavirin — cured hep c only about half the time…and many patients had other medical conditions that prevented them from taking those drugs.
JORGE MERA: When I was treating patients in the interferon era, I could treat 10 percent of the patients, roughly ten percent of the patients that came to my office with hepatitis C. Best case scenario I could cure 50 percent. Best case scenario.
STEPHEN FEE: In 2014, the food and drug administration approved a new class of medications to treat hep c. These drugs are taken orally, once a day, have few side effects — and a 90-percent cure rate.
JOHN WARD: We have this powerful intervention now in our hands and our challenge as a nation is to bring together the populations who can benefit from these treatments together with those treatments and really have an excellent opportunity of wiping out this disease.
STEPHEN FEE: But the drugs are very expensive. Gaye Wheeler took a medication called Harvoni – its’ manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, charges 63-thousand to 94-thousand dollars for an 8 to 12 week treatment course.
Wheeler’s medication came at no cost to her. Pharmaceutical companies offer substantial discounts to Cherokee patients, and the tribe uses Medicare and Medicaid dollars to cover remaining costs.
But even with discounts, a bipartisan senate finance committee report last year said Gilead’s drug prices were putting “a large burden” on Medicare, Medicaid and other government health programs.
In a statement to the NewsHour, Gilead said the price of Harvoni reflects the cost of “innovation,” and that Harvoni and other therapies “offer a cure at a price that significantly reduces hepatitis c treatment costs.” The company also said it offers “deep government discounts to eligible health programs.”
Gilead has donated one-and-a-half million dollars to the University of Oklahoma for its part in assisting the Cherokee hep c elimination program.
Doctor Mera says with competing hep c drugs in the pipeline from other pharmaceutical companies, he expects medication costs to come down.
Do you worry at all that some of the conclusions you’ll reach here, aren’t gonna be applicable outside of Cherokee Nation because most people don’t have the kind of medical coverage that people here in Cherokee Nation do?
JORGE MERA: “We won’t be able to extrapolate what we do or find to every medical scenario in the United States. But I think everybody will learn a little bit from some of the things we did. Like, for example, we expanded age targeted screening to– from 20 to 69. The recommendations right now are only baby boomers in the U.S.
STEPHEN FEE: John Ward from the CDC says the Cherokee program could become a national model for eliminating hep c.
JOHN WARD: Well the number one lesson we can learn from the Cherokee nation is the power of political commitment to tackling this problem.
STEPHEN FEE: So far, the Cherokee program has treated almost 300 hep c patients — and of those who’ve completed treatment and finished evaluation, 96 percent are disease-free, including Gaye Wheeler.
The post The Cherokee Nation wants to reverse the ‘silent epidemic’ of hepatitis C appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is offering his prayers for the families of the two Americans killed in the bombings in Brussels and telling Belgians that “America has their back” in the fight against terrorism.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama is renewing his vow to continue the campaign against the Islamic State, which took credit for the attacks. He says U.S. officials are working with allies to root out the group’s operations in Europe.
Obama says U.S. officials have ramped up intelligence cooperation and that FBI agents are in Belgium assisting with the investigation into the bombings.
The president says he and allies will review the U.S.-led air campaign and special operations against IS when world leaders gather in Washington next week for a summit on nuclear security.
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WASHINGTON — For a few short days, President Barack Obama was America’s man in Havana, his challenges to President Raul Castro stunning Cuban citizens who mused openly in the streets about the possibility of political change.
Obama’s public call for a more democratic Cuban future marked a watershed moment in a country where questioning the government’s authority is not tolerated. Decades of bitterness between leaders seemed to fade as Obama and Castro laughed it up at a baseball game. U.S. businesses were flocking in droves, touting new approval to bring Americans and their dollars to Cuba.
As Obama’s aides jubilantly boarded Air Force One, Castro showed up on the tarmac to see Obama off. The White House saw it as an affirmation that the visit was a success, even by Castro’s admittedly different standards.
Yet a key question remained unanswered after Obama departed the communist island: How much of it will last?
“We shouldn’t kid ourselves that they’re going to all of a sudden tolerate dissent,” said Michael Posner, Obama’s former assistant secretary of state for human rights and democracy. “This is a very ostracized regime. They’ve been in power a long time. They don’t really have any instincts for reform. It’s going to be a struggle.”
The first clues could come next month during the Communist Party Congress meeting in Havana, a forum for unveiling major changes. An announcement of greater political freedoms or reform-minded economic steps would suggest that Obama’s strategy was starting to bear fruit.
Under the glare of global attention, Castro did little to publicly undermine Obama. After all, Obama enjoys immense popularity in Cuba. Images of a young black president strolling through Old Havana seemed to resonate with Cuba’s racially diverse people, forming a powerful contrast with the aging Castro.
In the days ahead, though, that public spotlight will dim, giving Castro an opening to return to business as usual should he so choose. Though he’s taking modest steps to open up Cuba’s economy and relax certain social restrictions, there are still no indications Castro plans to make any of the changes to Cuba’s single-party system that Obama advocated.
“We will continue to speak out loudly on the things that we care about,” Obama said near the end of his visit.
Central to Obama’s strategy is to raise the Cuban people’s expectations, driving up pressure on Castro’s government to accelerate the pace of change. Wary Cuban officials have picked up on the tactic, with some regarding Obama’s entreaties as a post-Cold War attempt to coerce Cuba with diplomacy instead of the threat of force.
Ahead of his trip, Obama’s aides said a key goal was to make his rapprochement with Cuba irreversible. He left the island with plenty of indications that tipping point could be in sight.
Soon, as many of 110 commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba will take off daily, bringing millions of Americans to the country and further exposing Cubans to the outside world. With Americans hungry for a taste of Havana, Obama is banking on the notion that it will be incredibly unpopular for the next president to tell them to cancel their vacations.
Famed U.S. hotel chains Starwood and Marriott are poised to take over hotels in Cuba after striking deals with Havana and getting permission from Washington, and Google is making a major play on the island as well. Brian Chesky, CEO of online lodging service Airbnb, told reporters in Havana that Cuba is his company’s fastest-growing market.
“There comes a point where reversing it will seem like a very crazy idea,” said former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, a Republican who left Cuba as an exile at age six. “I think we’re just about at that stage.”
Though Obama advanced his goal of normalizing U.S.-Cuba relations, it wasn’t without political risk.
His visit was roundly derided by supporters of the U.S. trade embargo, who accused Obama of rewarding a repressive government. It’s an issue with resonance in the presidential race, where Republican candidate Ted Cruz, whose father is Cuban, is livid about Obama’s policy while front-runner Donald Trump vows to negotiate a better deal.
“Today is a sad day in American history,” Cruz said while Obama was in Havana.
Both Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, support Obama’s approach.
Obama has also been unable to remove the key irritant for Cuban officials and citizens alike: The U.S. embargo, which has squeezed Cuba’s economy for generations. There are few signs Congress will accede anytime soon to Obama’s calls for repealing the sanctions.
The post Obama’s visit stirs call for change in Cuba — but will it last? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
FOUNTAIN HILLS, Ariz. — David Rau wasn’t sure about Donald Trump. So the landscape contractor strolled over to the main park in this Phoenix suburb to watch one of the businessman’s recent rallies and decide for himself.
Demonstrators pulled their cars across an access road to block people driving to the event. Dozens marched to the park and stood by Rau, chanting “Stop the hate!” as he tried to listen. He left a Trump convert. “I’ve got the right to listen to somebody speak, don’t I?” Rau asked.
Trump’s rise in the Republican presidential contest has sparked increasingly confrontational protests, mobilized his opponents and drawn scrutiny of the GOP front-runner’s rhetoric and the sometimes rough way his campaign handles dissent. But as demonstrators escalate their tactics, they also risk helping Trump, especially among Republican voters his rivals are furiously trying to persuade to reject the billionaire businessman.
“I encourage people to speak out against Trump in a forceful but respectful manner because some of these protests are only serving to help him,” said Tim Miller, a spokesman for a Republican group trying to stop Trump. “He continues to dominate the news, he can play the ‘us vs. them’ card when liberals disrupt his events and that serves as a rallying point for his candidacy.”
Even Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, running for the Democratic presidential nomination, has been troubled by protesters’ tactics, as well as by Trump’s response.
“In America, people have a right to hold rallies,” Sanders told MSNBC. “It is absolutely appropriate for thousands of people to protest at a Trump rally, but I am not a great fan of disrupting rallies.”
Trump engages the demonstrators vigorously, mocking them, calling them bad people and sometimes feeding the anger of his supporters in the crowd.
The Phoenix demonstration followed one in Chicago, where hundreds of Trump foes flooded into a rally and Trump canceled the event, citing security concerns. That infuriated Trump backers, who blamed the demonstrators.
In Arizona, activists gathered about 3 miles from the site of the Trump rally, along one of two roads that wind through the mountains north of Phoenix into central Fountain Hills. The protesters – mainly a coalition of local immigrant rights groups who have a long history of demonstrations against Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was speaking at the rally – then maneuvered their cars across the intersection. Three were arrested, and many Trump supporters had to walk to the rally or missed it.
Carlos Garcia of Puente, one of the immigrant right groups, said demonstrators handed out water bottles to Trump supporters and did not want to antagonize them.
“I hope people see beyond their two-hour inconvenience,” he said, adding that activists were motivated by the support Trump has drawn from Arpaio and former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. “Their rhetoric,” he said of that duo, “turned into policies that destroyed thousands of families, and we see Trump trying to go national with it. People are willing to put their bodies on the line to keep their families together.”
When Garcia and other demonstrators made it to the park where Trump was holding his rally they were met with jeers and cries from Trump supporters gathered on the hillside, outside the fenced-off perimeter where the event was occurring. “Learn to speak English!” one person yelled at the protesters. “Gotta get off the welfare check,” called another.
The demonstrators chanted back: “Stop the hate!” Despite some heated scrums, no fights broke out and eventually the candidate finished and protesters and supporters alike trickled away.
Sharon Groves, a 69-year-old retired social worker, came to the rally with a group of Fountain Hills’ few other liberals. The crowd spilled out from the controlled area onto a hillside where Groves stood silently wearing a shirt that read “Prays well with others” and included symbols of world religions. Some other demonstrators silently held up homemade signs that read: “Love Trumps Hate.”
Afterward, Groves was horrified at the demonstrators who blocked traffic and then marched in. “It was uncalled for,” Groves said. “People have the right to come and see him if they want to.”
Associated Press writers Jacques Billeaud in Fountain Hills and Daniel Sewell in Dayton, Ohio, contributed to this report.
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MEGAN THOMPSON, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: For more on the security questions raised in the United States by the terrorist attacks in Belgium, I am joined by “Washington Post” national security reporter Adam Goldman, who is in Washington.
So, Adam, can we just first start out, the how many, how have terrorist attacks in Brussels changed the way security officials here in U.S. are going to do their jobs.
ADAM GOLDMAN, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: I think what U.S. terrorism officials take away from Brussels is that ISIS is looking to the west in ways perhaps they hadn’t thought before, and I think for U.S. counterterrorism officials, they are going to keep digging down and trying to figure out who went to Syria from the United States and from European countries.
THOMPSON: So, when it comes to tracking and monitoring potential terrorists here in the U.S., what are the differences between the situation here in this country and in Europe?
GOLDMAN: I think we are much more diligent and we have the terrorist watch list and two of the brothers who were implicated in the attack in Brussels were actually on this watch list. So, that means United States government had information about them. They received from another government, possibly Turkey, and put them on the watch list. The difference is, they took them very seriously, the U.S. officials, and Belgium, admittedly, did not.
THOMPSON: Can you talk a little bit about the differences between the Muslim communities here in the United States and those in Europe?
GOLDMAN: You know, there are 800,000, you know, Muslim Americans in New York. These are assimilated communities. You look across, look across the country in Iowa and Colorado, there are longstanding American Muslim communities there that are completely integrated. They are not isolated like these immigrants in Europe who are sort of on the periphery of society.
THOMPSON: But the U.S. is not immune to these types homegrown attacks, right? We had the San Bernardino attack, we’ve had dozens of prosecutions of people here in the U.S. suspected of being connected to ISIS.
GOLDMAN: Yes. That’s right. We are certainly not immune and that’s what makes us most vulnerable are the so-called lone wolves and fall under the sway of the Islamic State propaganda or al Qaeda organization and on their own launch attacks.
There is a slight difference between what you are seeing in Europe is these individuals they had gone to Syria and then returned home to mount attacks. That’s much more difficult to happen in the U.S., simply because of the controls that are in place to, A, identify people before they travel abroad to Syria and those attempting to come back, and also, you know, the numbers aren’t that large.
I think we are talking there might be about two dozen people, approximately, who — Americans who are fighting in Syria. I mean, you’re talking hundreds, thousands of people from Europe have gone to Syria.
THOMPSON: Today, President Obama spoke about enhanced cooperation between American officials and Belgian security. Can you just talk a little bit about what that might look like and what cooperation has been up until now?
GOLDMAN: Well, I think they have been working toward better cooperation for the past year o or two, trying to get the European intelligence agencies, police departments to provide information about people who have gone to Syria and returned home.
And from the U.S. perspective is they want that information and they want it quickly, not just the names but possible e-mail accounts, social media accounts, you know, cellphone numbers so they can track that to the U.S., and they continue to push for that now. I mean, as we know the FBI is helping Belgium authorities, they are working closely with them, and the FBI also has legal attache there at the embassy. They are trying to work with together and figure this out.
THOMPSON: Adam Goldman, of “The Washington Post” — thank you so much for joining us.
GOLDMAN: Thank you.
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MEGAN THOMPSON, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: This week in Michigan, the state legislature approved almost $50 million in emergency aid to keep Detroit’s public schools open and operating through the end of this school year, and a spokesman for Governor Rick Snyder says he will sign the bill early next week.
The move comes as Detroit’s school district has slipped toward bankruptcy even as the city itself has emerged from bankruptcy.
Joining me to discuss the challenges ahead is “New York Times” reporter Kate Zernike.
So, Kate, can you start off by painting a picture for us, just how bad is it for Detroit’s public schools and what has caused this?
KATE ZERNIKE, NATIONAL REPORTER, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: Well, Detroit, like Michigan as a whole, their recession has lost population, so you have a school district that once had 150,000 children, public school district and now has about 45,000 children. So, it’s really the size of it has gone down, as children have left the city the money that goes with those children from the state and from the local tax revenues goes with the children to charter schools, suburban districts, so you just have much less money coming in the district because there are so many fewer students.
MEGAN THOMPSON: And has a similar thing happened in other districts across the country?
KATE ZERNIKE: Well, I think in many ways Detroit is emblematic of what is happening in struggling urban districts. Detroit, for instance, made a large bet on solving — on helping the charter schools, and a lot of charter schools, there was a state takeover, bottom 45 percent of performing schools are put into a state-controlled authority.
But as across the country, we haven’t seen state takeovers necessarily make that much of a difference. For instance, in Newark, schools heavily controlled by the state of New Jersey for 20 years, really without much improvement there at all, same thing with Camden, New Jersey, you know, Los Angeles, there is a big bet on charter schools there. So, it’s really — it’s, sort of, Detroit has all of the problems.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Are there cities that have a lot of kids going to charter schools that aren’t seeing this type of problem?
KATE ZERNIKE: So, you look at a state like Massachusetts or a city like Boston, Boston public schools are doing well if you look at their national rankings, so are Boston charter schools. D.C., Washington, D.C. has made enormous improvements in their charter schools and the public schools.
So, it’s not as though charter schools are necessarily a bad thing when they are done right, I just think in Detroit there has not been much of an effort to sort of figure out what schools do we need, what schools are performing well? So, you have a lot of empty seats and there is no answer in looking at the city and saying, what schools do we need? Where do we need schools? Where should the money be going?
MEGAN THOMPSON: So, we saw this infusion of $50 million that the legislature approved this week, but that’s really just a short-term solution in Detroit.
KATE ZERNIKE: Right.
MEGAN THOMPSON: I mean, what has to happen long-term to make sure the schools will be solvent?
KATE ZERNIKE: Part of the proposal was that the governor who is a Republican and the mayor who is a Democrat are supporting something called Detroit Education Commission. This commission would look and say where do we need schools, with where there is demand, where should we put the limited resources that we have? This proposal unfortunately faces a pretty steep hurdle in the Michigan house, so I am not sure what will happen but that sort of — in Michigan, that’s the next discussion they’re going to be having.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Great. Kate Zernike of “The New York Times” — thank you so much for being here.
KATE ZERNIKE: Thanks, Megan.
The post Michigan lawmakers approve emergency aid for Detroit schools appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
LESA MELBY: Hello gentlemen, how are you today?
ALISON STEWART: Lesa Melby has been a waitress at “Grandma’s Restaurant Company” in Duluth, Minnesota, for 34 years.
ALISON STEWART: How many tables can you handle comfortably?
LESA MELBY: Kind of a lot.
ALISON STEWART: A lot? How many?
LESA MELBY: I can comfortably do probably nine.
ALISON STEWART: Wow. That’s impressive.
ALISON STEWART: Melby relies on tips as a core part of her income. But she also gets paid Minnesota’s state minimum wage of 9 dollars an hour.
ALISON STEWART: If you have a day when you get completely stiffed on tips, you will still take home your minimum wage.
LESA MELBY: right. Right.
ALISON STEWART: The federal minimum wage is 7.25 an hour. But in 43 states employers are allowed to pay tipped workers less — some as little as $2.13 an hour, a federal wage which has not increased in 25 years.
The rationale is that customer tips are supposed to make up the difference between 2.13 an hour and the minimum wage. And if the tipped employee doesn’t receive the minimum wage through tips, employers are required to pay the difference. In the industry it is called “topping up.”
In seven states, including Minnesota, “topping up” is not an issue because those states require employers to pay tipped workers the full minimum wage. Tips are considered additional income.
ALISON STEWART: Right next door to Minnesota, here in Wisconsin, it’s a different reality. The minimum wage for tipped workers in Wisconsin is $2.33 an hour.
ALISON STEWART: Shannon Sorenson lives in Eau Claire Wisconsin, about an hour’s drive from the Minnesota border. She’s been working as a waitress for about 6 years and her current employer pays her a little more: 3 dollars an hour before tips. She recently switched to working part time.
SHANNON SORENSON: There are some days the tips are amazing. There’s days that, you know, I’m making probably compared to someone with a four-year degree. But then there’s other days that I’m making nothing. It’s so tough. I got the car payment, I got the bill payment. Oh, I got the car insurance payment too. Oh wait, I also need to eat too.”
ALISON STEWART: Do you think you could survive being a server in Wisconsin full-time?
SHANNON SORENSON: It would be a very stressful life. Very stressful. Living paycheck to paycheck. Never really knowing what I’m going to make. I don’t want that.
ALISON STEWART: Now Sorenson wants to finish her college degree and pursue a career in interior design. She likes being a waitress and her bosses but she rarely makes enough to support herself.
SHANNON SORENSON: People just don’t understand how much work goes into being a waitress. And just the days I don’t get a lot of money, it’s just so hard. And everything becomes more expensive, so it’s harder and harder.
ALISON STEWART: David Cooper has been studying tipped labor for the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan, Washington think tank. Cooper says almost 15-percent of tipped servers earn less than the federal poverty line. But in states that pay higher base wages, tipped workers, like Lesa Melby in Minnesota, are faring better.
DAVID COOPER: What we see in those states is that the poverty rate among tipped workers is dramatically lower than in the states where they’re getting the $2.13 per hour as their base wage. So, what that tells us is that, you know, even though, in theory, these folks in the other states are supposed to be getting at least the normal minimum wage, something isn’t adding up.
ALISON STEWART: Even though employers are supposed to “top up” and make sure tipped workers earn the full minimum wage, Cooper says, they don’t always do so.
DAVID COOPER: You have to do this additional calculation of adding up their tips, and counting their hours, and making sure that the base wage plus tips equals the full minimum wage. And it’s complicated. And it’s also complicated for employers, too. Because the law isn’t entirely clear about how to do this calculation.
ALISON STEWART: The federal labor department has looked into this question. In the past three years, tip credit violations were found in over 1,500 investigations resulting in nearly 15.5 million dollars in back wages being identified.
ALISON STEWART: Employers are supposed to match up to the minimum wage if you don’t make it.
SHANNON SORENSON: I did not know that.
ALISON STEWART: What if someone said to you, “wow, we’re going to be just like your neighbors over there in Minnesota and you’re going to get minimum wage as your base salary, plus your tips”?
SHANNON SORENSON: I would love that. I actually know some people who used to work in Minnesota as a server, and then they came over here. And they realized that they’re only making $2.33, and they’re like, “I’m literally losing thousands of dollars by coming over here in Wisconsin.”
ALISON STEWART: At the Butter Bakery Café, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, waiter Andrew Dunn says being paid the state’s required 9-dollar-an-hour minimum wage before tips is a crucial safety net.
ANDREW DUNN: The amount I’m working is the maximum that I can work right now. And I pay all my bills, but not a lot more. So it would be very hard to have my base wage slip below the minimum wage. We have those slow mornings, where hardly anybody comes in, and your tips are really low.
ALISON STEWART: In terms of the percentage you take home, on your best day, what percentage is base wage and what percent is tip?
ANDREW DUNN: On the best day, I would say that my base wage is about half, and my tips are about half, and on the worst day, my base wage is about three-quarters of what I take home, and my tips are about a quarter.
ALISON STEWART: Butter Bakery Cafe is not a full service restaurant, so there is less opportunity for tipping servers. Owner Dan Swenson-Klatt says paying his workers a living wage has always been a priority.
DAN SWENSON-KLATT: Currently, I have to pay a little more, because they don’t see the same level of tips. If I knew they were getting a lot more tips, I might look at dropping my base wage a bit more. Cause ideally it’s about what they make total, the total compensation.
ALISON STEWART: At Grandma’s Restaurant Company in Duluth, where servers can make a higher amount of tips, Lesa Melby is afraid that her customers will tip her less if they learn of her minimum wage increases.
LESA MELBY: I make more money off of my tips than I do my paycheck. And if people are going to think that I’m getting a higher minimum wage, they’re going to start tipping less or not at all.
ALISON STEWART: And Grandma’s regional manager Tony Boen says that the requirement to pay servers minimum wage has had unintended consequences at their six restaurants. For one, it has increased the wage disparity between the serving and kitchen staff.
TONY BOEN: The mandated minimum wage increase was giving an increase to our most highly compensated employees, at the peril of our cooks and the guys in the back of the house, who don’t make tips. So we needed to find a way, and we still need to find a way, to bridge that wage disparity. So that’s a huge challenge for us. How can we do that?
ALISON STEWART: They’ve raised prices to cover the higher labor costs for their 400 to 600 employees, the number fluctuates depending on the season. But Boen says that’s not enough to keep up with ongoing mandatory minimum wage jumps. The next one will be in august from 9 to 9.50 an hour.
ALISON STEWART: Have you ever had a customer say, “Hey, why are your prices going up?”
TONY BOEN: No. They don’t say that.
ALISON STEWART: What do they say?
TONY BOEN: They just don’t come. We’ve cut jobs. We’ve cut hours. We closed three restaurants that became unprofitable due to minimum wage, plus some other factors but that was a huge factor.
ALISON STEWART: On the other hand, employment in the hospitality industry in states that pay full minimum wage to tipped workers actually saw stronger growth from 1995 to 2014 than in states that pay less.
ALISON STEWART: When we talk about raising the minimum wage, what can we do to help the restaurant owner?
DAVID COOPER: I think, as long as you phase in those increases over time, it gives businesses time to adjust. When you raise the minimum wage, all of the competitors are also facing that additional labor cost. So, presumably, they should be able to pass that additional cost on through higher prices, and no one’s going to be at a competitive disadvantage.
I think that the tipping system creates some unique challenges there because at a higher-end restaurant, they know that the clientele probably has a little more money to spend; they can absorb those price increases a little more easily. At a, you know, more family dining restaurant, it might be a little harder to absorb those increases.
ALISON STEWART: Some restaurants are addressing the wage issue by paying servers like other employees: wait staff receive a higher hourly rate, but the restaurant has a no tipping policy.
ERICK HARCEY: Rib-eye, seat 9.
ALISON STEWART: That’s how chef and restaurant owner Erick Harcey runs his two Minneapolis restaurants. Customers at his “Victory 44” and “Upton 43” are told they should not leave a tip.
ERICK HARCEY: A lot of it was just sort of trying to get in front of some of the change, the policy. The minimum wage is going up.
ALISON STEWART: Servers at his restaurants are paid a starting base salary of 17 dollars an hour. To cover the cost, he raised his prices 18 percent — about the equivalent of a tip at his restaurant. The no tipping policy also helps him pay the kitchen staff higher wages.
ERICK HARCEY: For the servers, it may have averaged out slightly. Some are making more. Some maybe slightly less, but it’s guaranteed. But for the cooks, the dishwashers, the hosts, they’re making substantially more than they have in the past.
WAITRESS: We are gratuity-free so the number here is your total for the evening.
ALISON STEWART: How are you going to know when this has been a success?
ERICK HARCEY: I feel it’s a success already.
ALISON STEWART: Really? Why?
ERICK HARCEY: The success I’m gauging is the feedback from the guests. They’re just — they love the experience.
And when they leave and say, “You know what? This was phenomenal service,” they’re not, “oh, it was better because there was no tips.” they’re just stating, “This was great service.” and then, at the end of the night, I, you know, I count my cash in the register. That’s the success.
Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.
NEW YORK — In television news, a telephone interview is typically frowned upon. Donald Trump’s fondness for them is changing habits and causing consternation in newsrooms, while challenging political traditions.
Two organizations are circulating petitions to encourage Sunday morning political shows to hang up on Trump. Some prominent holdouts, like Fox’s Chris Wallace, refuse to do on-air phoners. Others argue that a phone interview is better than no interview at all.
Except in news emergencies, producers usually avoid phoners because television is a visual medium – a face-to-face discussion between a newsmaker and questioner is preferable to a picture of an anchor listening to a disembodied voice.
It’s easy to see why Trump likes them. There’s no travel or TV makeup involved; if he wishes to, Trump can talk to Matt Lauer without changing out of his pajamas. They often put an interviewer at a disadvantage, since it’s harder to interrupt or ask follow-up questions, and impossible to tell if a subject is being coached.
Face-to-face interviews let viewers see a candidate physically react to a tough question and think on his feet, said Chris Licht, executive producer of “CBS This Morning.” Sometimes that’s as important as what is being said.
Trump tends to take over phone interviews and can get his message out with little challenge, Wallace said.
“The Sunday show, in the broadcast landscape, I feel is a gold standard for probing interviews,” said Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday.” ”The idea that you would do a phone interview, not face-to-face or not by satellite, with a presidential candidate – I’d never seen it before, and I was quite frankly shocked that my competitors were doing it.”
Since Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015, Wallace has conducted three in-person interviews with him on “Fox News Sunday,” and four via satellite.
Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” has done phoners with Trump but now said he’s decided to stick to in-person interviews on his Sunday show. He’s no absolutist, though.
“It’s a much better viewer experience when it’s in person,” Todd said. “Satellite and phoners are a little harder, there’s no doubt about it. But at the end of the day, you’ll take something over nothing.”
Morning news shows do phoners most frequently. At the outset of the campaign, Trump was ratings catnip. The ratings impact of a Trump interview has since settled down, but it’s still hard to turn him down. He’s the leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination. He’s news.
There appear to be no network policies; different shows on the same network have different philosophies. Licht has turned Trump down for phoners on CBS but concedes there may be exceptions for breaking news. “CBS This Morning,” in fact, aired Trump commenting by phone following Tuesday’s attack in Belgium.
Since the campaign began, Trump has appeared for 29 phone interviews on the five Sunday political panel shows, according to the liberal watchdog Media Matters for America. Through last Sunday, ABC’s “This Week” has done it 10 times, CBS’ “Face the Nation” seven and six times each on “Meet the Press” and CNN’s “State of the Union.”
On Sunday, Trump phoned in an 11th time to “This Week,” calling from Florida. The program repeatedly flashed a stock Trump photo while the candidate demanded an overhaul of NATO, blamed rival Ted Cruz for the bitter feud targeting each other’s wife and complained about the Republican Party’s delegate selection process.
None of the news shows have done phoners with Cruz, John Kasich, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, said Media Matters, which is urging that the practice be discontinued. Cruz and Clinton declined ABC’s invitation to speak by phone or in person for the network’s most recent Sunday program.
The activist group MomsRising said the disparity “sends the message that some candidates can play by different rules, without consequences, and that’s just un-American.” A study by mediaQuant and The New York Times estimated that Trump has received the equivalent of $1.9 billion in free advertising given the media attention paid to his campaign.
A Trump spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment.
What’s unclear is whether other candidates were denied opportunities given to Trump.
CNN chief executive Jeff Zucker said Trump opponents frequently turn down interview requests. During an appearance on CNN last week, former GOP candidate Carly Fiorina complained about media attention paid to Trump, leading Anderson Cooper to shoot back: “Donald Trump returned phone calls and was willing to do interviews, which was something your campaign, frankly, was unwilling to do.”
Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier tweeted last week that she saw Trump being interviewed via phone on “Fox & Friends” a day after Cruz was told that he couldn’t do a phone interview with the show.
Fox said that since then, “Fox & Friends” has offered to conduct a phone interview with Cruz five times and has been turned down each time. Cruz did appear in the studio Wednesday. Frazier did not return requests for comment.
NBC’s Todd believes that complaints about phoners are a surrogate for people who want to blame the media for Trump’s success.
“You’re shooting the messenger while you’re ignoring what he is tapping into,” he said. “It becomes a little silly when you look at the bigger picture here. The media is getting criticized for interviewing Donald Trump. If we weren’t questioning him, we’d be criticized for not questioning him.”
For years, cautious candidates have tended to be stingy with press access. Trump is the complete opposite. In a fast-moving information age, he may be changing the expectations for how often a candidate submits to interviews.
Todd doesn’t believe it’s a coincidence that he’s had more access to Clinton during the past six weeks than he had during the six years she was in the Obama administration. Both Clinton and Cruz appeared in phone interviews following the Belgium attacks.
“Trump’s opponents fall into two camps: Those who complain and continue to get crushed by the media wave, or those who grab a surfboard and try to ride it,” said Mark McKinnon, veteran Republican political operative and co-host of Showtime’s political road show, “The Circus.”
Associated Press writer Stephen Braun in Washington contributed to this report.
The post Trump’s penchant for phone interviews draws network ire appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
At least 65 people, many of them women and children, were killed by an explosion that ripped through a public park in the eastern city of Lahore in Pakistan on Sunday evening, set off just a few feet from a set of swings.
Around 280 people were also injured in the suicide bombing, Reuters reported.
“It was a soft target. Innocent women and children and visitors from other cities have been targeted,” Haider Ashraf, a senior police official, told reporters. “Apparently, it seems like a suicide attack.”
The Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar later claimed responsibility for the attack, which was apparently aimed at Christians celebrating the Easter holiday.
“The target were Christians,” said Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the faction. “We want to send this message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that we have entered Lahore. He can do what he wants but he won’t be able to stop us. Our suicide bombers will continue these attacks.”
Eyewitnesses described a horrific scene in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park. Photos from the blast site showed blood, personal effects and bits of clothing strewn across the parking lot.
“The flames were so high they reached above the trees and I saw bodies flying in the air,” resident Hasan Imran told Reuters.
Many families were leaving the park when the explosion occurred.
In a press release, the White House condemned “in the strongest terms” what it called an “appalling terrorist attack in Lahore.”
“This cowardly act in what has long been a scenic and placid park has killed dozens of innocent civilians and left scores injured,” National Security Council Spokesperson Ned Price said. “We send our deepest condolences to the loved ones of those killed, just as our thoughts and prayers are with the many injured in the explosion.”
On Twitter, the U.S. Department of State urged American citizens in Lahore to either check in on social media or to call family with their whereabouts following the attack.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
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From church services to pastel eggs — Easter traditions of both a religious and secular nature were well on display across the globe on Sunday.
Although customs vary widely from country to country, for the world’s more than 2 billion Christians, Easter is primarily a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. The holiday is also called Resurrection Day.
Easter is one of the busiest days of the year for many churches where attendance of those donning their “Sunday best” typically doubles.
Here’s a look at what’s going on around the world on Easter Sunday.
The post From Fifth Avenue to the Vatican, celebrating Easter around the globe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Syrian government forces retook Palmyra on Sunday, driving out hundreds of Islamic State fighters who had seized the ancient city last year and destroyed temples dating back to the Roman empire.
The capture of the city follows weeks of intense fighting and was achieved with vigorous air support from Russian and Syrian war planes, a high-ranking member of the Syrian army told Reuters.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a British-affiliated organization, said ISIS members were pushed out of the city as soldiers loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the ground regained control of a military airport.
“The clashes continue in the eastern and northern eastern sides of the military airport,” SOHR said. “At least 30 militants in IS refused to pull back from the city and decided to fight until the death.”
The group’s director Rami Abdulrahman also told Reuters roughly 400 Islamic State fighters and 200 government soldiers were killed during the fighting.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said his government would rebuild the temples that had been leveled.
“Palmyra was demolished more than once through the centuries ,” he said on Syrian television, “and we will restore it anew so it will be a treasure of cultural heritage for the world.”
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MEGAN THOMPSON: The U.S. director of national intelligence estimates the number of people who’ve traveled from their home countries to Syria and Iraq to take up arms with the Islamic State group, ISIS, now exceeds 36,000.
These so-called foreign fighters hail from more than 80 countries, and, according to The Soufan Group, the number from Western European nations has doubled since June 2014. Two of the Brussels bombers are believed to have trained with ISIS in the Middle East.
But is this influx of foreign fighters causing ideological discord in ISIS?
Wall Street Journal reporter Matt Bradley has been reporting on that, and he joins me now by Skype from Beirut.
So, Matt, I think that most people have assumed that these foreign fighters have been welcomed with open arms by ISIS, but you have written that that’s not necessarily the case. What is going on?
MATT BRADLEY, The Wall Street Journal: Well, it is and it isn’t.
I mean, of course, the foreign fighters are welcomed with open arms because Islamic State wants to be able to project an image of a globally appealing Islamic ideal. But it’s not quite that simple.
There is, of course, quite a lot of discord. And what is sparking the discord within — between the foreign fighters and the local fighters are the problems with money and the problems with battlefield defeats. And that’s increasingly a problem for Islamic State, especially in their self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Talk a little bit more about that and what all these conflicts are that are happening.
MATT BRADLEY: When you have foreign fighters who are rewarded for their trip, for their sacrifice, coming to the caliphate, with more money, with more spoils from war, there is bound to be resentments from the local fighters.
These are local fighters who are simply, for the most part, living under Islamic State rule. So, they have less of a choice. So, there’s going to be some discord. And this is especially acute when there’s battlefield defeats.
So, when they lose something like, as we’re seeing right now, city of Palmyra, Islamic State doesn’t necessarily have the vocabulary to accommodate a defeat. This is a group that constantly tells its followers that they are working with the writ of God. So, when they’re defeated, they have to find another way of explaining that.
And, sometimes, that means executing people within their own ranks. And for the most part, that means executing some of the local fighters, not the foreigners. And this is — this projects this image of a foreign occupying force.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Do you think these internal conflicts have the potential to fracture ISIS?
MATT BRADLEY: Most of the people that I have talked to, even those who live under Islamic State rule, they say that this is going to be more of a symptom of the decline of Islamic State, rather than a cause.
I mean, it is very tempting to say that Islamic State is being torn from within because of these fractures, because of these differences between foreign fighters and local fighters. That’s not really the case.
What we’re talking about really is a tension that has existed within the group that’s becoming more and more acute as they lose territory, as they lose funding. But we can’t really talk about the demise of the group yet. We don’t know. We don’t have enough information about what’s going on within Islamic State, and particularly within Islamic State within the borders of the caliphate in Syria and Iraq.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Matt Bradley of The Wall Street Journal, thank you so much for joining us.
MATT BRADLEY: Thank you.
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