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- 03/30/16--15:20: _Seeing Holocaust su...
- 03/30/16--15:25: _The plan to balance...
- 03/30/16--15:30: _What peace in Colom...
- 03/30/16--15:35: _Task force tackles ...
- 03/30/16--15:40: _How Donald Trump tu...
- 03/30/16--15:45: _News Wrap: Newark t...
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- 03/31/16--04:41: _Obama, Asian leader...
- 03/31/16--05:47: _Five top female pla...
- 03/31/16--05:52: _Sanders aims for bi...
- 03/31/16--09:21: _Officials: U.S. mul...
- 04/06/16--14:24: _Merle Haggard, ‘out...
- 04/06/16--15:20: _Remembering Merle H...
- 04/06/16--15:25: _Empowering India’s ...
- 04/06/16--15:30: _Middle East peace e...
- 04/06/16--15:35: _These researchers d...
- 04/06/16--15:40: _Why there’s been a ...
- 04/06/16--15:45: _What does the Wisco...
- 04/06/16--15:50: _News Wrap: Pfizer, ...
- 04/07/16--05:59: _Clinton and Sanders...
- 03/30/16--15:20: Seeing Holocaust survivors’ stories in the books they left behind
- 03/30/16--15:25: The plan to balance conservation and development in Coachella Valley
- 03/30/16--15:35: Task force tackles how U.S. can support vulnerable Middle East
- 03/30/16--15:40: How Donald Trump turned media spectacle into campaign wins
- 03/30/16--15:45: News Wrap: Newark to reform policing under DOJ agreement
- 03/31/16--04:41: Obama, Asian leaders to huddle on North Korea nuclear threat
- 03/31/16--05:47: Five top female players sue U.S. Soccer over unequal pay
- 03/31/16--05:52: Sanders aims for big fundraising haul in March
- 03/31/16--09:21: Officials: U.S. mulls new rules on dollars to help Iran
- 04/06/16--15:20: Remembering Merle Haggard, outlaw legend of country music
- 04/06/16--15:25: Empowering India’s street vendors as entrepreneurs
- 04/06/16--15:40: Why there’s been a dangerous diabetes spike around the globe
- 04/06/16--15:45: What does the Wisconsin primary mean for the road ahead?
- 04/06/16--15:50: News Wrap: Pfizer, Allergan call off record merger
- 04/07/16--05:59: Clinton and Sanders clash over presidential qualifications
GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight: Imagine finding a library from the 1940s, a window into the time before the deportation of some 70,000 Jews from what was then Czechoslovakia.
Jeffrey Brown reports on a photographer who learned something about himself in the decades-old bookshelves.
JEFFREY BROWN: At first glance, you might wonder: What is this? What am I looking at? Then it hits you: These are books, fragments of books, in various states of decay.
They were photographed where they’d been left, an abandoned schoolhouse in the town of Bardejov, Slovakia.
Yuri Dojc, a successful art and commercial photographer who’s lived in Canada since 1968, returned to his native country after his father’s death, to learn more about his own Jewish roots.
He came upon the schoolhouse almost by accident, when a man he’d met told Dojc there was something he must see.
YURI DOJC, Photographer: And then he take us across the square. He opened this door. And we were just stunned.
JEFFREY BROWN: You had no idea what you were walking into?
YURI DOJC: I had no clue. But I was stunned by the beauty of decaying books. I wasn’t thinking about history at that moment. It’s the visual effect of these old books was so beautiful.
JEFFREY BROWN: Beautiful, but horrible at the same time, as the sense of history set in, for this was a Jewish schoolhouse, left as it had been in 1942, as Jews were being rounded up and taken by train to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.
The story is told in a documentary Dojc worked on with another emigre from the former Czechoslovakia, Katya Krausova.
The two began by seeking out and listening to the stories of Holocaust survivors.
So, you went to meet these people, essentially, right? And one led to another.
KATYA KRAUSOVA, Director, “Last Folio”: Yes, exactly.
So, here is a mixture and a selection of some that, by the time I joined him, were dead, and others that we had found together, like this couple.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. Tell me about them.
KATYA KRAUSOVA: They’re very important to the whole story, because we heard about them in another town. And she didn’t want to even let us come to the house.
And, eventually I said, “Can we just come and have tea?”
And once we were there, she said: “I might as well tell you my story. Maybe nobody will ever come again to ask.”
And so she told us her story, a very strong woman who talked about how they were betrayed and how, when they were taken to the camps, they actually believed that they were going to work.
And she said that: “None of us realized once we got out of the truck that we would never be able to say goodbye to anybody again.”
JEFFREY BROWN: Almost all of these people are now gone. In “Last Folio,” the two try to capture what remains.
So these are books literally sitting on the shelves as you walked in?
YURI DOJC: Yes, but I focus on this particular group.
JEFFREY BROWN: Why?
YURI DOJC: There is something like a rhythm here. There’s colors, a chance this color to this color to this. So there’s a beautiful — look at this. The shades of color, they are just stunning.
JEFFREY BROWN: First an aesthetic experience, and then more, the books standing in for, almost becoming, the lives of the people who’d held them in their hands.
YURI DOJC: I changed as a photographer on this project.
I only started understanding what it’s all about. Until then, I was just — I had fun. I understand certain aesthetics. But I was missing something. And I realized that you don’t take art pictures with your eyes. You take them with your brains, and I didn’t know that.
JEFFREY BROWN: What does that mean, to take it with your brain?
YURI DOJC: You try to express something which was — which is more than just what I see. This is a process of showing you what happened to those people. Like, I’m projecting really people and this whole pain and all that is lost into the pictures.
JEFFREY BROWN: And there was one more shock for Dojc and Krausova when they visited another abandoned building that contained books from all over Eastern Europe, including, incredibly, one that had belonged to Dojc’s grandfather, who died at Auschwitz.
YURI DOJC: That was a miracle, just pure, pure miracle. And then I was thinking if this whole journey’s not a miracle.
KATYA KRAUSOVA: So, nothing new under the sun, but very important to be outraged.
JEFFREY BROWN: For Katya Krausova, there’s more: important echoes to the destruction of people and culture still going on today.
KATYA KRAUSOVA: You know, what is happening right now in the Middle East is very tragic, because libraries are being burned, and monuments are being destroyed.
And that is our heritage, and we need to somehow do everything to preserve it. So, when I say privileged to have worked on this, it was a privilege to learn people’s lives and their stories. And I think we need to go on telling it to each other and to others.
JEFFREY BROWN: From Washington, D.C., I’m Jeffrey Brown for the “PBS NewsHour.”
The post Seeing Holocaust survivors’ stories in the books they left behind appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: striking a balance between development and conservation to protect the desert ecosystem of the Coachella Valley in California.
Special correspondent Cat Wise has the story.
CAT WISE: The views from Chino Canyon high above Palm Springs are grand. The rocky hillsides are home to the endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep and a number of other species. But this tranquil canyon has long been an environmental battleground.
NICKIE MCLAUGHLIN, Friends of Palm Springs Mountains: If the project had been completed, you would have been looking at a 500-room hotel, a five-star resort, and all surrounded by an 18-hole golf course.
CAT WISE: Nickie McLaughlin heads up a local nonprofit that recently purchased 600 acres of privately owned land in the canyon to prevent that development.
NICKIE MCLAUGHLIN: There will be nothing here. It will be preserved as it is in perpetuity. This was a huge success.
CAT WISE: The push to save Chino Canyon is part of a much larger environmental conservation effort unfolding in Coachella Valley, a 45-mile stretch of desert dotted with upscale cities like Palm Springs, as well as areas of deep poverty.
The population here is expected to almost double in the next 20 years. Golf courses and condos butt up against fragile desert ecosystems.
TOM KIRK, Coachella Valley Association of Governments: In a lot of places throughout this country, we know that we have done development perhaps in a rash and vast way. In the Coachella Valley, we didn’t want to do that.
CAT WISE: Tom Kirk heads up the local government agency now managing a plan that took more than 10 years to develop and that will be on the books 75 years into the future.
It’s called the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan. Nearly 2,000-pages long, it is essentially a huge compromise between government agencies, private landowners and developers, scientists, and environmental groups.
How did you bring everyone together?
TOM KIRK: They were brought together perhaps not by choice, but by need. Before there was a plan, every project was evaluated on its own. It would take a lot of time. There’d be a lot of uncertainty. Today, instead of dealing with every project individually, we look at a million acres at the same time.
CAT WISE: Kirk, who brought us to a now preserved area called Whitewater Canyon that had been slated to be an ATV park, showed me how the habitat plan works.
TOM KIRK: You can actually develop anywhere in the plan, but it is very difficult to do so in conservation areas, and very easy to do so, relatively, on the valley floor.
CAT WISE: Out of the million or so acres in the valley, 700,000 have been designated as conservation areas, where the land is kept mostly pristine. Outside of the conservation areas, development can go forward in a timely manner because the necessary endangered species permits have already been secured.
The plan is designed to ensure the survival of 27 endangered and threatened species, large and small animals, rare plants, and one little desert dweller well known in these parts, the fringe-toed lizard.
CAMERON BARROWS, University of California, Riverside: Here’s a little baby fringe-toed lizard, just hatched probably this past fall.
CAT WISE: I met up with one of the few people who has a special permit to catch this endangered species, Cameron Barrows. He’s an ecologist who is monitoring with a team of scientists how the protected species are faring under the plan.
CAMERON BARROWS: Even though we have a finite number of species that we’re trying to protect here, we’re really trying to protect the entire ecosystem. We’re measuring everything. We want to make sure that this is an intact system. We don’t want to be able to say in 75 years, you know, we forgot about that mouse, and it went extinct. Oh, well.
CAT WISE: Barrows was on the scientific advisory committee that provided guidance about which areas of the valley need to be protected, an effort he says that charted new ground in conservation science.
CAMERON BARROWS: We’re striking this balance between habitat and development. And this was one of the first places in the nation that tried to really strike an effective balance. But, to do that, we had to apply the best science we possibly could.
Nature is complex. It’s really complex. And to be able to say this patch is enough or this level of connection is enough is really challenging to do that.
CAT WISE: This underpass behind me plays an important role in the habitat plan. It allows animals on this side of busy Interstate 10 to move safely to the other side. It is one of a number of so-called wildlife corridors that are scattered throughout the valley.
But ensuring the protected areas are connected in perpetuity has been an ongoing effort. About 25 percent of the land was privately owned when the plan went into effect in 2008. Landowners are not forced to sell, but if they do, they are compensated at market rates, or they can pursue minimal development approved by the plan. So far, tens of millions of dollars have been spent to secure about 90,000 acres, or a third of the designated conservation areas.
Still, many landowners, developers, and even some cities in the valley initially opposed the plan due to the limits on development.
GRETCHEN GUTIERREZ, Desert Valley Builders Association: There was some struggles. Nothing is ever easy when you take on a project of this size.
CAT WISE: Gretchen Gutierrez is CEO of the Desert Valley Builders Association.
GRETCHEN GUTIERREZ: Right now, what you’re seeing is the first phase, which is models. And there’s going to be 166 single-family houses, single and two stories, in this development.
CAT WISE: The permitting process here went fairly quickly and no lawsuits were filed. And that’s why Gutierrez says developers eventually got on board.
GRETCHEN GUTIERREZ: What it’s provided for our members is the surety that they can move their projects forward. I don’t think anyone wants to see the plastification of any of the communities out here, or the paving over of the world with concrete.
But, at the same point in time, you need to have continued growth in terms of new residences, in terms of new businesses, so that it all gives you a good quality of life.
CAT WISE: Developers now pay a fee for each property they build, and that money goes towards purchasing more land in the conservation areas. Additional funds come from a variety of sources, including government grants.
While many in the valley agree the plan is working, whether it can hold up over the long run is up for debate. Recently, plans for a new housing development within this conservation area were submitted to the county for consideration. The project called Paradise Valley would back up to Joshua Tree National Park on one side, and the area is considered critical habitat for the threatened desert tortoise.
The development highlights one of the gray areas of the plan: In the large conservation areas, up to 10 percent of the land can be developed. The developer, Glorious Land Company Enterprises, declined to speak with us on camera, but provided a written statement.
It reads in part that the development will incorporate new urbanism and smart growth concepts, and that planners and environmental consultants for the project are in consultation with regulatory agencies.
Cameron Barrows is one of a number of scientists and local environmental groups opposed to the development.
CAMERON BARROWS: Without any question, the tortoise population will decline if that happens. It’s incumbent on all of us, the scientists, as well as everybody else that’s involved in this plan, to sit down with these folks on a regular basis and say, remember why we’re doing this. Remember why you got to do this development or that development, because the plan is here.
CAT WISE: The proposed development still faces extensive review before any ground is broken, but many here will be watching closely for how things play out as conservation efforts continue.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Cat Wise in Coachella Valley, California.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Coachella Valley’s plan was among the first of its kind when it was developed, but, in recent years, the strategy has been catching on. There are now more than 1,000 plans that seek to protect single and multiple species.
Efforts in the valley got a boost when President Obama named three national monuments in Southern California, and one of them overlaps with the conservation plan.
The post The plan to balance conservation and development in Coachella Valley appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
GWEN IFILL: But, first, the government of Colombia is in negotiations with Marxist rebels, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to end 50 years of war.
The country’s infamous drug trade, which fuels the conflict and helps finance the insurgency, has been a major point of debate at the peace talks. If a deal is signed, it could prompt radical changes in the production of illicit crops, like coca, the raw material for cocaine.
Special correspondents Bruno Federico and Nadja Drost traveled to the heart of the coca trade in the southern region of Putumayo to find out what impact a peace deal would have.
The report is narrated by Ms. Drost.
NADJA DROST: It’s high noon, and the sun scorching, as pickers grab at the leaves of coca plants.
MAN (through interpreter): For us owners of the crop and workers who puck it, it’s a big process to harvest it, to get the powder.
NADJA DROST: Long before white powder cocaine hits the streets of the U.S. and Europe, it starts in a field like this, in an isolated patch of the Putumayo region in Colombia’s south, where coca leaves are harvested and then processes into a coca base, the foundation of cocaine.
MAN (through interpreter): Two acres produces 5,000 or 6,000 grams of coca base and each gram is cheap, sold for about 50 cents.
NADJA DROST: These pickers are at the bottom of the rung of Colombia’s multimillion-dollar cocaine industry. But in providing the material for cocaine, they risk arrest on drug-related charges and don’t want their faces to appear on camera.
MAN (through interpreter): This is illegal, you know. If the government comes and sees the laboratory, they will burn it. And if they see the guys working here, they will take them away. It’s a real problem.
NADJA DROST: Even so, these workers face the risks of the job because they have few other options. If they were to grow food crops, they say, they would have to travel great distances to market for rock-bottom prices and little profit. Coca provides them a way to make a living.
MAN (through interpreter): Legal work doesn’t pay much, but this pays well, you know? These guys can make $25, $30 a day, but, elsewhere, a day laborer is worth $6 a day.
NADJA DROST: That’s why, here in Putumayo, ground zero of the coca trade, coca is the main livelihood for locals.
But that could drastically change should a peace deal be signed between the FARC and the government. Negotiators debating how to address Colombia’s infamous drug trade have agreed to put an end to illicit crops.
Colombia’s drug trade generates the FARC an estimated $200 million a year, according to InSight Crime, a group that tracks the illicit drug trade. The rebels are considered narco-traffickers.
But Joaquin Gomez, the top commander of the southern bloc says that’s an unfair characterization. He says the FARC’s southern bloc, says that is an unfair characterization. He says the FARC doesn’t exist because of the drug trade; they draw on it by taxing it to finance their cause.
JOAQUIN GOMEZ, Commander, Southern Bloc, FARC (through interpreter): There’s been one relationship or another indirectly with narco-trafficking, but that’s why there are crimes are related to rebellion, because it’s been to get the funds or means to keep confronting the enemy of class.
NADJA DROST: The U.S. State Department claims Gomez has overseen the production of thousands of tons of cocaine and offers a reward of $2.5 million for his capture.
But as part of the peace deal, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos visited the U.S. in February and asked Washington to drop drug-related charges against FARC leaders. Since 2000, the U.S. has spent over $9 billion on Plan Colombia, fighting the narcotics field insurgency, part of the effort, aerial fumigations to eradicate the coca plant. Crops dropped by over half by 2014.
But production is back on the rise, and Colombia has overtaken Peru as the world’s top producer. Aerial spraying has also killed food crops and been blamed for serious health problems. Now, as a part of the expected peace accords, both the government and the FARC have committed to supporting farmers to substitute their coca crops for legal ones, but locals worry.
RICARDO, Putumayo Resident (through interpreter): What’s the fear? That if coca ends, there will be a lot of people without jobs.
NADJA DROST: And coca base is so important to this town, it’s even used to buy goods, a valid currency here. The only way locals can imagine coca substitution programs working is if the governments invests in ways to make alternative crops viable, so that communities don’t have to relay on coca.
RICARDO (through interpreter): We hope that, instead of gunshots, there is social investment. We will leave coca to the side and invest in cattle-raising or something.
NADJA DROST: Coca leaves, ammonium, cement, sodium hydroxide and gasoline, rudimentary labs like this keep churning out coca base.
MAN (through interpreter): If there’s peace, we won’t count on coca. If the government doesn’t come through, well, we will have to keep going with coca.
NADJA DROST: If a peace deal doesn’t provide alternatives to coca, there will be no shortage of campesinos willing to fill demand for drugs abroad, far away from these coca fields.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” reporting with Bruno Federico, I’m Nadja Drost in Putumayo, Colombia.
GWEN IFILL: The Colombian government announced today that it would soon begin peace talks with the country’s second largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army, or ELN. Colombia’s half-century of violence has killed nearly a quarter-million people.
The post What peace in Colombia would mean for the drug trade and those who depend on it appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Since the start of the Arab uprisings five years ago, we have seen a tectonic shift across the Middle East and North Africa, upending the political order of the last century.
What began with hope has dissolved into civil war, extremist violence and strife. The human toll has been enormous, with hundreds of thousands dead and millions more displaced. And the role the United States has played and will play in the Middle East is now being examined in depth.
One group looking at these issues is the Middle East Strategy Task Force at the Atlantic Council, a think tank here in Washington.
Its co-chairs of the task force join me now. They are former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served in the Clinton administration, and former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. He served in the George W. Bush administration.
And we welcome both of you back to the “NewsHour.”
Secretary Albright, let me start with you.
Why take on this added responsibility now co-chairing this task force?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, Former Secretary of State: Well, it’s great to be with you and with my friend Steve.
The reason that we did this is because we’re concerned about the fact that people are looking at the Middle East kind of in short-term ways and doing Band-Aids that have been going on, and that it was really important to take a deeper, longer look, because the issues, as you raised them, are going to take a long time to resolve.
And we needed to really take a deeper look. We also wanted it to be bipartisan, and we looked at a number of areas. One was the security issue, but governance issues, issues to do with religion, refugees, education, the economy. We had papers that we did with that.
And then we went to the countries in order to really get a view of what is going on. We also have a lot of international advisers, but part of it, Judy, is — and the way that you opened this, it is as serious and terrible as you described, but it also has whole opportunities. And those are the things that we wanted to look at.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s what I want to ask you about, because you have just come back, as the secretary mentioned, from a trip to the region.
Many people look at this part of the world and they see a crisis in every country, whether it’s ISIS, or a repressive leader or a refugee influx crisis. How do you see the region? Do you see it as a collection of problems, or a place that has a manageable set of issues that you can get your arms around?
STEPHEN HADLEY, Former National Security Adviser: Well, it’s very tough.
I mean, it is a crisis in the Middle East, but it’s also a crisis from the Middle East. And what I think people don’t realize is the global consequences of this. There are, of course, economic crises, but we have, of course, refugee flows that are taxing neighboring states. They are a real problem for the European Union, putting enormous stress on the European Union.
There is, of course, a terrorist problem, which is increased, as we saw, with attacks on Brussels and Paris. So it is a crisis in the Middle East. It is a crisis from the Middle East. It’s affecting the whole country — the whole globe.
At the same time, as Madeleine pointed out, there are positive things going on. One of the things we noticed is, youth are playing a role in their societies. They are empowered, they are connected, they are entrepreneurial.
And you are seeing start-up commercial ventures starting. You are seeing start-up bottom-up community organizations that are trying to solve local community problems. There’s a real bottom-up entrepreneurship that is going.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But we don’t hear about that here.
STEPHEN HADLEY: We don’t hear about them.
And one of the things we have tried to do is — one of the things we want to do is sort of bring that to the attention. There is an opportunity for the refugees not just to be a burden, but with the kind of training and education, they can actually be a benefit to the societies in which they are now residing and to rebuilding the societies they can return to.
There are opportunities for education, to teach people problem-solving and to counter the violent extremists.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you — is it possible, Secretary Albright, to prioritize which country is more important than the other, or does the United States have to approach this as, we have got to look at the entire region?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, we do.
I mean, we were taking about it this way. We have to look at the local aspect of things, because we need to respond to some of the changes that are taking place inside, as Steve mentioned, but also regionally. We do have to look at it regionally and globally.
And so the countries can help each other, and we did discus with them the possibility of kind of looking at some kind of regional security agreement, but, at the same time, I think we have to recognize the differences in the countries.
Tunisia, quite a different place, for instance, from Egypt in terms of how it’s beginning to deal with its political situation and its economic situation, a good place to invest. Egypt has the problem of being very large with a huge unemployed young population.
So, we have looked at the specifics in the countries, but also how they could be dealt with regionally.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But doesn’t — Stephen Hadley, doesn’t the security have to come first, dealing with ISIS, dealing with whether it’s a repressive dictator who is — a civil war, as you have in Syria?
STEPHEN HADLEY: Absolutely.
And the message is, there are green shoots, we call them, messages of hope coming out of the Middle East that need to be nurtured. And we need to nurturing them now, because over the medium and long term, they offer the hope of a more prosperous and secure Middle East.
But in the short run, they’re vulnerable to the terrorists. They’re vulnerable to the tyrants. And in the short run, we have to deal with exactly the problems you described. And one of the things we will do is talk about some of the things, that in the short to medium term, we need to do.
We need to work on all three problems together, countering ISIS, bringing down the sectarianism, and solving the civil wars.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I think one of the things, Judy, is that everybody is concerned with ISIS, or Da’esh, but the priorities are a little bit different, because they also have internal priorities.
JUDY WOODRUFF: They being?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: The countries in the region.
And, also, they have conflicts between two countries. For instance, the Saudi-Iranian…
JUDY WOODRUFF: The historic…
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: The historic aspects, or the Tunisians and Egyptians are very worried about the Libyans.
And so there is the general aspect that dealing with ISIS is a priority, but not the only thing that they’re thinking about.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How does the United States avoid, Steve Hadley, being overwhelmed by this, because, as Secretary Albright just said, every country has its own set of issues?
The U.S. has to look at this, it seems, and make some sense of it and figure out what should be tackled first.
STEPHEN HADLEY: Well, it is an overwhelming problem.
And the first point that we want to make in this task force is that the United States is affected by this problem, as is Europe and a lot of other countries. And it is in the United States’ interest to try to help the Middle East get to a more stable and prosperous future.
But we heard in the region a lot of criticism. Some people said the United States historically and sometimes — and the Bush administration did too much, and the Obama administration did too little. How come you Americans can’t get it right?
And one of the things we’re trying to do is come up to and approach the Middle East that protects our interests, that contributes to what the people in the Middle East believe is their future, but does it in a way that is sustainable over time?
And I think, with the right kinds of investments, we can do that. But it is — it is — we’re going to have to rethink it. We’re going to have to build a bipartisan consensus. And then we’re going to have to sustain it, because this problem is going to be a long time in fixing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And it is not easy to get it right, is it, Secretary Albright, in that, as we just heard, sometimes, the U.S. is seen as doing too much, getting too involved. Other times, it’s seen as not doing nearly enough.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I think, because it is so overwhelming and complicated, we need to do a better job of explaining why this matters to us.
As Steve said, it’s not only things that are happening inside, but also the pressures from — globally, and to try to explain why it’s important to Americans. And it’s important to us, obviously, because the president wants to keep Americans safe, but also because we’re concerned about the humanitarian aspects of it, obviously, the resource aspect, our relationship with Israel.
And so we have to explain that, but I do think, also, we need to understand that we found it’s not easy to be the United States there. We were saying, damned if you do, damned if you don’t. And we — but I believe, as so does Steve, that we have to be involved.
And so we are going to make a point, I think, of talking about what the opportunities are, as well as the problems, so that the American public understands why the United States needs to be involved with partners. And that is what we also have to do, is make clear that the coalitions that are being built need to stay in place.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we will continue to follow the progress of the task force and hope to stay in touch with you as you move forward.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, thank you.
STEPHEN HADLEY: Nice to be with you.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Very good. Thank you.
The post Task force tackles how U.S. can support vulnerable Middle East appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
GWEN IFILL: Donald Trump has now been leading in the polls for eight months, making him the prohibitive favorite to win the Republican Party nomination this summer.
His celebrity has driven media coverage, which in turn has boosted his celebrity. The result? The New York Times found Trump has received nearly $2 billion of free media attention during the campaign, nearly twice as much as the original entire 17-member field.
Today, he once again demonstrated one of his greatest skills, hijacking the news cycle with a provocative comment, this one about abortion.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?
DONALD TRUMP, Republican Presidential Candidate: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: For the woman?
DONALD TRUMP: Yes. There has to be some form.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Ten cents, 10 years, what?
DONALD TRUMP: I don’t know. That, I don’t know.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, why not?
DONALD TRUMP: I don’t know.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: You take positions on everything else.
DONALD TRUMP: I find — I do take positions on everything else. It’s a very complicated position.
GWEN IFILL: Today, both pro- and anti-abortion forces rejected Trump’s latest controversial statement.
So, why does he survive? And how has he upended politics?
We zero in on what’s behind Trump’s appeal and what’s changed about the electorate with Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney’s chief political strategist in the 2012 election, McKay Coppins, a senior writer for BuzzFeed News who has covered Trump and is the author of a book on the Republican Party’s efforts to take back the White House called “The Wilderness,” and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, professor of communications and director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, how much has Donald Trump exploded politics as usual?
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON, University of Pennsylvania: Donald Trump has changed the way we talk about politics, the kinds of things that are covered in news, and the ways in which politicians gain access.
Essentially, his free airtime is what anybody else in an earlier campaign would have paid for and called advertising.
GWEN IFILL: McKay Coppins, has he changed inherently the way the GOP is formulated, the way it functions, the kinds of candidates it will nominate in the future?
MCKAY COPPINS, BuzzFeed News: I think he’s exploited a shift in the GOP over the past eight years or so in the Obama era, which is basically the crumbling of the traditional GOP establishment, the party committees, the fund-raisers, the donors, who used to wield all the influence, and now has kind of taken advantage of this new right-wing counterestablishment that is made up of new right-wing media outfits and pressure groups, and really figured out how to court them and ride a wave of influence into becoming basically, you know, the six-, seven-, eight-month front-runner of the Republican Party nomination fight.
GWEN IFILL: Stuart Stevens, it hasn’t even been four years since you were helping to run Mitt Romney’s campaign, yet so much seems to have changed. You have been pretty outspoken in your criticism of Donald Trump.
But take a step back as an analyst and tell me, why do you think this is right now?
STUART STEVENS, Chief Strategist, Mitt Romney’s 2012 Campaign: Well, I think there’s two ways to look at Donald Trump.
One is that he’s a function of a weak field that miscalculated what I would call the “Guns of August” — I refer to that great book about the beginning of World War I. No one wanted it to happen, and yet it’s happening.
The other would be that actually maybe it’s not that unusual that we have seen, in crowded fields, where Republican primary electorate will nominate someone who says things and does things that makes him unelectable in the fall. We saw this in Indiana with Mourdock in the Senate race. We saw it with Todd Akin in the Missouri Senate race, with Sharron Angle in Nevada.
So, what could be happening here is just, on a national scale, we have seen played out in states, which might not be that crazy, because, really, a national primary is not really a national primary, but a series of states that are playing out. It’s the same people that vote in the states. We just haven’t seen it happen in a presidential primary.
GWEN IFILL: One of the things, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, which seems different about Donald Trump is, he has great skill at changing the topic and of stealing the headline from anybody else who seems to be having a good day. Is that also part of what you see that is different?
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Yes.
When Trump — when a vulnerability opens up for Mr. Trump, and the news cycle begins to feature the vulnerability, he effectively changes the topic by attacking, by doing something outrageous or eccentric, and suddenly the entire news agenda shifts. And instead of focusing on the serious potential exchange and the vulnerability that has initially been exposed, we’re galloping off in some other direction.
And the electorate isn’t informed about the substantive reason that there might have been concern about the original statement.
GWEN IFILL: This is interesting, because you make that point on a day when we have been — we’re watching a lot of the kind of coverage of his statement about abortion.
And he has since put out a statement, McKay Coppins, saying that’s not exactly what he meant. Is that an example of what Kathleen is talking about?
MCKAY COPPINS: Yes, I do think that Trump has a remarkable skill for hijacking news cycles.
I also think that it’s what drives him more than almost anything else. I remember I spent some time with him in 2014, and I ended up on his plane, you know, the massive 757 Trump jet, and I remember watching him. He had just given a speech that morning in New Hampshire. I remember watching him spend 20, 30 minutes changing the channel back from MSNBC, to CNN, to FOX News, just searching desperately for some coverage of the speech.
And I remember that the thing that struck me the whole time I spent with him was how much he cared about media coverage, how much he cared about attention. And in a sense, his entire presidential campaign has been one long media spectacle.
I don’t know how much it prepares him or shows whether he’s ready to be president, but it certainly shows his — shows off his skills as a marketer, and he really does have unparalleled talent in that regard.
GWEN IFILL: So, Stuart Stevens, let’s pivot back to what you were saying a moment ago about what happens in the fall campaign.
We have seen polls in Wisconsin today, a new one, that shows that Donald Trump is at 70 percent unpopularity. We have also seen national polls which show him as unpopular as well. What does that say, what does that mean about the GOP’s chances in the fall?
STUART STEVENS: Well, I think that we shouldn’t talk about Donald Trump as a success. He’s running the worst campaign we have ever seen in modern history.
The reason he’s able to hijack news cycles is that he doesn’t care what he says and he doesn’t care about the ramifications about it. When you’re willing to do that, when you’re willing to sort of put on a suicide vest and pull the cord, you will get attention, but you will lose a general election.
He’s going to get killed in the general election, absolutely slaughtered, and it will be a disaster for the Republican Party.
GWEN IFILL: But, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the Trump voters, we have seen, are loyal, and they are steadfast, even if they are presented with evidence that what he is saying is not true. So, is that the brand that we see at work?
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: What we see, I think, is a candidate who very artfully has capitalized on a large-scale sentiment in the American electorate that says that government doesn’t appear to be working well, politicians have promised and not delivered.
And here’s someone who comes outside the political establishment, outside any political background, and argues, I have a different kind of competence, a competence that will let us win again — that’s the first part of his brand — that is demonstrated by what I have already done as a businessman. I’m highly successful.
Second part of his brand, he has all these photo-ops in places that he’s built. And, third, I’m uncorrupt and uncorruptable. I’m financing myself.
Now, if you assume that everybody else who is seen by these voters in some ways to them politics as usual, then the Trump alternative looks like change, even if at times he’s inconsistent, even if at times he says outrageous things, even if those voters don’t actually believe he will do some of the things he says he will do.
We saw that in Peter Hart’s focus group, Annenberg Public Policy Center Voices of the Voters. Some of his own voters said, no, I don’t actually believe he’s going to build a wall or deport all those people. I like him anyway.
GWEN IFILL: McKay, I want to ask you about — I know you’re covering more than just the Republican side of this.
So, does Donald Trump’s ability to dominate the headlines, dominate the day, does that help or hurt the front-runner on the Democratic side? Does that hurt Bernie Sanders? Does it help Hillary Clinton?
MCKAY COPPINS: Well, I think Stuart is right that the way that Trump has managed to dominate media is by saying outlandish, provocative things that have made him actually, one poll recently showed, the most unpopular presidential candidate since David Duke ran for president.
So he is nationally very unpopular. But I do think that there is something to be said for the fact that so much attention and so much coverage has been focused on Donald Trump, on the Republican side of the race in general, but on Trump in particular, that it does have a fascinating dynamic that has played out in the Democratic side, where Hillary Clinton actually might face a lot of tough scrutiny in the general election that she hasn’t necessarily faced on a wide scale in the primary.
I still, though, think that Trump has done so much damage to his own brand, as you were just talking about, with the national electorate, that it’s going to be hard for him to fix that before November.
GWEN IFILL: Stu Stevens, why is it that when Mitt Romney came out, not once, not twice, maybe multiple times, and criticized Donald Trump, tough — using tough language, why didn’t that stick?
STUART STEVENS: Oh, I think it has stuck.
He did it in Ohio, and Trump lost Ohio. He did it in Utah and he lost in Utah. And I think that there is good indication here that this is beginning to sink in with Republican voters. The latest numbers showed him 10 points behind in Wisconsin to Ted Cruz, who probably is not going to be accused of being one of the great natural politicians of our day.
I think Republicans are probably taking a second look here. Look, on average, the polls show that Donald Trump is 17.5 points behind Bernie Sanders. You have to really think about that. Very quickly, you’re into a discussion not about holding the White House, not about holding the Senate, but about holding the House.
Hillary Clinton has 50 FBI agents looking into her, according to The Washington Post, and Donald Trump still is 10 points considered less honest than Hillary Clinton. That’s hard to do. We don’t have a lot of Hispanic Republicans, and 60 percent of the Hispanic Republicans don’t like Donald Trump.
So, this is a toxic candidacy, and I think that before Republicans embark on that, I think they’re beginning to take a look at what it would mean for the party. You’re seeing a lot of conservatives. Ben Sasse, a deeply conservative senator from Nebraska, said that he will not support him and he will look for an alternative.
So, I think that there is something happening here, and I hope that Republicans will go in a different direction.
GWEN IFILL: Thank you all very much.
For the record, “NewsHour” has requested an interview repeatedly with Mr. Trump. And we have yet to make that happen. They have yet to make that happen. We will keep trying.
McKay Coppins, senior political writer for BuzzFeed, Kathleen Hall Jamieson at the Annenberg School of Communications, and Stu Stevens, former Romney strategist, thank you all very much.
MCKAY COPPINS: Thank you.
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: You’re welcome.
STUART STEVENS: Thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: President Obama commuted prison sentences for 61 drug offenders, highlighting his push to overhaul the criminal justice system. More than a third were serving life sentences. Most will now be freed at the end of July.
After the announcement, Mr. Obama lunched with people who had had their sentences commuted previously.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It is my strong belief that, by exercising these presidential powers, I have the chance to show people what a second chance can look like, that I can highlight the individuals who are getting these second chances and doing extraordinary things with their lives.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In all, President Obama has now commuted the sentences of almost 250 inmates. The White House said that is more than the previous six presidents combined.
GWEN IFILL: The city of Newark, New Jersey, agreed today to reform the way its police treat minorities. Federal investigators found the police made unconstitutional stops and arrests and resorted to excessive force too often. Under a settlement with the Justice Department, the police will revise its policies, and officers will start wearing body cameras.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Two Minneapolis police officers will face no charges in the death of a black suspect that sparked protests. Jamar Clark was fatally wounded in a struggle with the officers last November. Today, the county prosecutor said he had concluded that the pair, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, had reason to fear for their lives.
MIKE FREEMAN, Hennepin County Attorney: In this case, officer Ringgenberg subjectively believed that Clark had or was in the process of obtaining control of his weapon, and that were Clark able to remove the weapon from his holster, both Ringgenberg and Schwarze likely would be shot. Ringgenberg’s subjective belief is also objectively reasonable.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Some community activists decried the decision and called for new protests.
GWEN IFILL: The governor of Virginia has vetoed a bill that would allow clergy and others refuse to marry same-sex couples on the basis of religious beliefs. The Republican-controlled legislature approved the bill, but Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe said it’s unconstitutional.
Earlier this week, the Republican governor of Georgia vetoed a similar bill.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In Iran today, the supreme leader defended test-firing ballistic missiles and warned against weakening that effort. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei posted a statement online, saying: “Those who say the future is in negotiations, not in missiles, are either ignorant or traitors.”
That was seen as a slap at former President Akbar Rafsanjani, who’d called for dialogue, not missiles.
GWEN IFILL: Migrant sailings from Turkey to Greece surged today just before officials begin enforcing an agreement to send them back. Nearly 770 people arrived in the last 24 hours, and as Greek authorities dealt with them, the U.N.’s refugee chief made a fresh appeal in Geneva.
FILIPPO GRANDI, UN High Commissioner for Refugees: We must find a way to manage this crisis in a more humane, organized and equitable manner, and this is only possible if the international community is united and in agreement on how to move forward.
GWEN IFILL: Meanwhile, as the weather warms, the migrant flow from North Africa is also picking up. The Italian coast guard and navy rescued more than 1,300 people just today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Japanese government regulators gave the go-ahead today to activate an ice wall around the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant. The underground structure is supposed to freeze the ground and block radioactive water from leaking into the Pacific Ocean. A massive earthquake and tsunami severed damaged the plant in 2011. The water is used to keep melted reactor cores from overheating.
GWEN IFILL: Taiwanese company Foxconn has agreed to buy Japan’s struggling electronics brand Sharp for $3.5 billion. It’s the first foreign takeover of a major Japanese electronics producer. Foxconn also assembles Apple’s iPhones.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, the Food and Drug Administration eased the rules for the abortion-inducing drug Mifeprex in order to expand access. Women may now take the drug later in pregnancy and make fewer doctor’s visits. FDA’s changes are expected to undermine existing restrictions in several states.
GWEN IFILL: Wall Street managed to keep its rally going today. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 83 points to close at 17716. The Nasdaq rose 22 points, and the S&P 500 added nearly nine.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And prominent MIT economist Lester Thurow has died. He focused on income distribution early in his career, turned to the challenges of globalization, and in recent years warned of the growing gap between rich and poor. He also wrote several bestselling books on economic policy for general audiences. Lester Thurow was 77 years old.
Still to come on the “NewsHour”: why Donald Trump’s rhetoric is appealing to millions of voters; Madeleine Albright and Stephen Hadley discuss the U.S. role in the Middle East; a peace deal that could change Colombia’s cocaine trade; and much more.
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GWEN IFILL: Wisconsin’s primary is less than a week away, and the stakes keep getting higher, as party divisions appear to grow more deep.
John Yang is in Wisconsin for us, and reports on the day’s events.
DONALD TRUMP, Republican Presidential Candidate: The Republican Party hasn’t treated me properly.
JOHN YANG: Donald Trump started his day in Green Bay, touting his strength with voters and seeming to warn party leaders not to block his nomination.
DONALD TRUMP: They haven’t treated me fairly. But I have got millions of more votes and we have got a movement going on. Millions of people are voting that didn’t vote before.
JOHN YANG: That followed last night’s CNN town hall, where the Republicans backed off previous commitments to support their party’s eventual nominee.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Do you continue to pledge whoever the Republican nominee is?
DONALD TRUMP: No. I don’t anymore.
ANDERSON COOPER: You don’t?
DONALD TRUMP: No, we’ll see who it is.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: Let me tell you my solution to that.
SEN. TED CRUZ: Donald is not going to be the GOP nominee. We’re going to beat him.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), Republican Presidential Candidate: If the nominee is somebody that I think is really hurting the country and dividing the country, I can’t stand behind them, but we have a ways to go.
JOHN YANG: Today, Trump argued that he, not Ted Cruz, would be the strongest choice against Democrat Hillary Clinton in the fall.
DONALD TRUMP: He will not be able to beat Hillary. And believe me, the one person she doesn’t want to run — and I know this for a fact — the one person she doesn’t want to run against is Donald Trump.
JOHN YANG: Trump again defended his campaign manager, who’s been charged with misdemeanor battery, for allegedly grabbing reporter Michelle Fields.
By contrast, Cruz was in Madison for what he called a celebration of women. He appeared with his wife, Heidi, and former rival Carly Fiorina.
SEN. TED CRUZ: I have news for the Democratic Party. Women are not a special interest. Women are a majority of the United States of America. This campaign, at its core, I believe, is about three issues: jobs, freedom and security. And women, every bit as much as men, care about jobs, freedom and security.
JOHN YANG: John Kasich stumped in New York state, which votes on April 19, stopping in Queens this afternoon.
GOV. JOHN KASICH: Nobody is going to have enough delegates going into the convention. Ted Cruz now needs almost 90 percent of all the remaining delegates to be the nominee. That is not going to happen. Trump needs about 55 percent or more. That’s not going to happen.
JOHN YANG: Clinton was also in New York, which she represented in the U.S. Senate. Campaigning in Harlem, she blasted Trump for bluster and bigotry.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: When a candidate for president says we can solve America’s problems by building walls, discriminating against people based on their religion and turning against each other, well, New Yorkers know better.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
HILLARY CLINTON: Our diversity is a strength, not a weakness.
JOHN YANG: Back in Wisconsin, Clinton’s Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders, insisted he’s got the momentum at a town hall in Madison.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I think there was a poll just came out today in Wisconsin, similar to other polls, which had us beating Trump by big-time double-digit numbers.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: In every one of these polls, virtually every one, not every one, almost every one, we do far better against Trump and the other Republican candidates than does Hillary Clinton.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JOHN YANG: Tonight, Sanders continues to campaign in Wisconsin. And Trump and Kasich appear in town halls hosted by MSNBC.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m John Yang in Milwaukee.
GWEN IFILL: Trump pretaped his town hall appearance this afternoon, and caused a new stir over abortion. We will look more closely at how he’s managed to keep the spotlight on himself after the news summary.
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WASHINGTON — Working to display a united front, the United States and key Asian countries will seek Thursday to put more pressure on North Korea as world leaders open a nuclear security summit in Washington.
President Barack Obama, the summit’s host, will also seek to smooth over tensions with China over cybersecurity and maritime disputes as he and President Xi Jinping meet on the sidelines. The summit also offers Obama his last major chance to focus global attention on disparate nuclear security threats before his term ends early next year.
Though nuclear terrorism and the Islamic State group top this year’s agenda, concerns about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program are also commanding focus as the two-day summit gets under way. Those long-simmering concerns have escalated of late following the North’s recent nuclear test and rocket launch.
Obama planned to have a joint meeting Thursday morning with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye, two U.S. treaty allies deeply concerned about North Korea. It’s a reprise of a similar meeting the three countries held in 2014 during the last nuclear security summit in The Hague.
China’s influence over the North will be front and center later in the day when Obama sits down with Xi. The White House said that meeting was also an opportunity for Obama to press U.S. concerns about human rights and China’s assertive territorial claims in waters far off its coast.
Though frictions with China remain high, the U.S. was encouraged by China’s role in passing stringent new U.N. sanctions on North Korea, its traditional ally. Now the U.S. is pressing Beijing to implement those sanctions dutifully.
“The international community must remain united in the face of North Korea’s continued provocations, including its recent nuclear test and missile launches,” Obama wrote in an op-ed appearing Thursday in The Washington Post. He added that the recent U.N. sanctions “show that violations have consequences.”
The U.S. and South Korea have been discussing whether to deploy a U.S. missile defense system called THAAD, or the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, in South Korea to counter the threat from the North. China has resisted that step out of concern it would also give the U.S. radar coverage over Chinese territory, and Russia opposes it as well.
Antony Blinken, the U.S. deputy secretary of state, said this week that China must engage with the U.S. directly on North Korea if it wants to avoid the U.S. and its partners taking steps “that it won’t like.”
In North Korea, meanwhile, the government has been churning out regular propaganda pieces condemning the U.S. and South Korea, while warning it could launch a pre-emptive strike against South Korea or even the U.S. mainland at any time.
For years, pressing security crises in the Middle East have overshadowed Obama’s goal of expanding U.S. influence and engagement in Asia, with the North Korean threat another unwanted distraction. Though the U.S. and China have struck sweeping agreements on climate change, they’ve remained at odds on many economic issues. Obama has also been unable to get Congress to ratify the Asia-Pacific free trade deal his administration painstakingly negotiated.
Obama also planned to meet Thursday with French President Francois Hollande, amid steep concerns about terrorism in Europe following Islamic State-linked attacks in Paris and Brussels. The summit continues on Friday with a special session focused on preventing IS and other extremists from obtaining nuclear materials and attacking urban areas.
Some of the 2,000 metric tons of highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium being used in civilian or military programs worldwide could be turned into a nuclear bomb if stolen or diverted, the White House warned. Fewer than half of the countries participating in the summit have even agreed to secure sources of radiological material that could be used for a dirty bomb, though more countries are expected to announce commitments during the summit to tighten controls.
Associated Press writer Matthew Pennington contributed to this report.
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Five prominent members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team are filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charging U.S. Soccer with wage discrimination.
The five players – co-captains Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn, forward Alex Morgan, midfielder Megan Rapinoe and goalkeeper Hope Solo – contend they are paid less than their male counterparts, even though the women’s team is an economic driver for U.S. Soccer, the governing body for the sport in America.
The U.S. women’s team is reigning champion of Women’s World Cup and the Olympics.
“We have proven our worth over the years. The pay disparity between the men and the women is just too large,” said Lloyd Thursday morning on NBC’s “Today Show.”
U.S. Soccer responded in a statement that while it hadn’t seen the complaint yet, “we are disappointed about this action. We have been a world leader in women’s soccer and are proud of the commitment we have made to building the women’s game in the United States over the past 30 years.”
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NEW YORK — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders raised more than $39.7 million in March and is aiming to surpass $43.5 million for the month, his campaign said Thursday as both he and rival Hillary Clinton face monthly fundraising deadlines.
Sanders raised more money than Clinton in February but the former secretary of state has maintained an advantage in cash on hand. The fundraising is important as the Democrats prepare for next week’s Wisconsin primary and New York’s primary on April 19.
Clinton campaigned in the suburbs of New York City on Thursday while Sanders held events in Pittsburgh and New York City.
In Pittsburg, Thursday, dozens of people in various union T-shirts — including United Steelworkers and a letter carrier’s union — stood behind Sanders as he addressed the media.
Sanders attacked Clinton for supporting NAFTA and free trade agreements with China, saying they made it easier for corporations to ship jobs to other countries and leave Americans out of work.
He called for “a moral economy, not an economy based on greed and selfishness.”
Sanders said that even when factories don’t close, the trade agreements relegate workers in a “race to the bottom,” with corporations going to unions and forcing them to make concessions under threat of moving out of the country.
Joseph Mandak contributed to this report from Pittsburgh.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration may soon tell foreign governments and banks they can start using the dollar in some instances to facilitate business with Iran, officials told The Associated Press, describing an arcane tweak to U.S. financial rules that could prove significant for Tehran’s sanctions-battered economy.
While no decision is final, U.S. officials familiar with internal discussions said the Treasury Department is considering issuing a general license that would permit offshore financial institutions to access dollars for foreign currency trades in support of legitimate business with Iran, a practice that is currently illegal.
Several restrictions would apply, but such a license would reverse a ban that has been in place for several years and one the administration had vowed to maintain while defending last year’s nuclear deal to skeptical U.S. lawmakers and the public.
The United States and other world powers reached agreement with Iran last summer to give the Islamic Republic billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for its promise to curtail programs that would allow it to develop nuclear weapons
Because of its status as the world’s dominant currency, the dollar often is used in money conversions. For example: If the Iranians want to sell oil to India and be paid in euros instead of rupees, so they could more easily purchase European goods, the process commonly starts with the rupees being converted into dollars.
American sanctions block Iran from exchanging the money on its own. And Asian and European banks have steered clear of such transactions, fearful of U.S. regulators who have levied billions of dollars in fines in recent years and threatened transgressors with a cutoff from the far more lucrative American market. Using dollars to make even a rupees-to-euros conversion, following that example, would still involve the money entering the U.S. financial system, if only momentarily.
Dropping the prohibition would go a long way to meet Iran’s complaints that the West hasn’t sufficiently rewarded it for taking thousands of uranium-spinning centrifuges offline, exporting its stockpile of the bomb-making material and disabling a facility that would have been able to produce weapons-grade plutonium. But it surely would prompt intense opposition from critics of last July’s nuclear accord.
If approved, the new guidance would allow dollars to be used in currency exchanges as long as no Iranian banks are involved, according to the officials, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity. No Iranian rials can enter into the transaction, and the payment wouldn’t be able to start or end with American dollars. The ban would still apply if the final payment is intended for an Iranian individual or business on a U.S. sanctions blacklist.
The administration has hinted the U.S. could introduce new sanctions concessions, but has confirmed nothing.
In a speech Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew lauded Iran for accepting the nuclear deal to achieve its goal of ending Western sanctions. “Since Iran has kept its end of the deal, it is our responsibility to uphold ours, in both letter and spirit,” he told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Lew warned that “sanctions overreach” risked driving business away from the United States, hurting the U.S. and global economy and empowering economic rivals.
“Our central role must not be taken for granted,” he said. “If foreign jurisdictions and companies feel that we will deploy sanctions without sufficient justification or for inappropriate reasons — secondary sanctions, in particular — we should not be surprised if they look for ways to avoid doing business in the United States or in U.S. dollars.”
Members of Congress are crying foul. The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act instructs the president to “block and prohibit” all Iranian assets if they “come within the United States, or are or come within the possession or control of a United States person.”
In a letter to the president Thursday, Rep. Brad Sherman said allowing dollar transactions for business with Iran “is clearly not required” by the nuclear deal.
“This will set bad precedent, and it will not be the last time the Iranians and/or their business partners receive additional relief,” the California Democrat warned.
In a separate letter to Lew, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Mark Kirk said any Iranian access to dollars “would benefit Iran’s financiers of international terrorism, human rights abuses and ballistic missile threats.” They cited testimony last year by Treasury Department’s sanctions chief, Adam Szubin, who told lawmakers Iran wouldn’t be allowed “even to execute a dollarized transaction where a split second’s worth of business is done in a New York clearing bank.”
U.S. officials said the change wouldn’t break that pledge because Iran still wouldn’t have access to the American financial system. If an Indian bank exchanges the money with a Hong Kong clearinghouse and the money is eventually converted to non-U.S. currency, no Iranian institution ends up touching any dollars. And no Iranian rials would be entering the United States.
Both concerns are rooted in the Obama administration’s designation of Iran in 2011 as a jurisdiction of “primary money laundering concern.” Critics of Obama’s outreach to Iran say softening the rules would provide Iran a toehold toward re-entering the global financial system, helping it raise more cash for U.N.-banned ballistic missile development or support of U.S.-designated terrorist groups.
Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.
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Merle Haggard, the country music legend who was born during the Depression, came of age in prison and whose songs have earned him the title, “poet of the common man,” died Wednesday at his home near Redding, California. It was his 79th birthday.
Haggard had been battling pneumonia in recent months, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Haggard sang about the rough and tumble world of the outlaw, a topic personal to him. As a teen he spent time in and out of jail, and at the age of 18, was sentenced to 15 years for burglary and sent to San Quentin, where he served two years. But he credited Johnny Cash’s performance at the prison in 1958 — Haggard was in the audience — as his inspiration to pursue music.
“I would’ve become a lifetime criminal if music hadn’t saved my ass,” he told Rolling Stone.
Along the way, Haggard collected 38 No. 1 singles on the country charts. One of his most famous, 1969’s “Okie from Muskogee,” was a patriotic anthem for the anti-hippie movement. He sang: “We don’t let our hair grow long and shaggy, like the hippies out in San Francisco do. And I’m proud to be an Okie from Muskogee.”
Haggard won two Grammy awards, in 1984 for “That’s the Way Love Goes,” and in 1998 for a collaboration with artists Emmylou Harris, Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakam and others. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994, and was presented with a Kennedy Center Honor in 2010, alongside fellow songwriter Paul McCartney.
Haggard’s son, Ben Haggard, who played in his father’s band, posted on his Facebook page Wednesday afternoon that his dad had predicted his death today. He wrote: “A week ago dad told us he was gonna pass on his birthday, and he wasn’t wrong. A hour ago he took his last breath surrounded by family and friends. He loved everything about life and he loved that everyone of you gave him a chance with his music. He wasn’t just a country singer. He was the best country singer that ever lived.”
Musicians mourned the singer and songwriter as the news broke. “We’ve lost one of the greatest writers and singers of all time,” Dolly Parton said in a statement, ABC News reported. “His heart was as tender as his love ballads. I loved him like a brother. Rest easy, Merle.”
Several shared their condolences and memories on Twitter:
There are no words to describe the loss & sorrow felt within all of music with the passing of Merle Haggard. Thank God for his life & songs.
— Brad Paisley (@BradPaisley) April 6, 2016
Godspeed #MerleHaggard the king of Soul Country Music-thanx for enriching our lives
— Ted Nugent (@TedNugent) April 6, 2016
— Randy Rogers Band (@rrbchoir) April 6, 2016
— Willie Nelson (@willienelson) April 6, 2016
— Jason Aldean (@Jason_Aldean) April 6, 2016
Haggard is survived by his wife, Theresa Ann Lane, and his children, Dana, Marty, Kelli, Noel, Ben and Jenessa.
Watch a remembrance of the country music legend from Wednesday’s PBS NewsHour.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: remembering the country music legend, and one of its outlaw heroes, Merle Haggard.
William Brangham is back with a look at his career.
MERLE HAGGARD, Musician: I guess I will just always be the old country singer, you know, the guy that sings about all the things that happen.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Merle Haggard rose to country music stardom singing about what he knew best, poverty, prison, heartache. Born near Bakersfield, California, Haggard was raised in a converted railway car, the only home his parents could afford.
He was 9 when his father died, and before long, he turned to petty crime and landed in San Quentin Prison, where he saw Johnny Cash play.
DON CUSIC, Belmont University: Merle Haggard lived outside the Law and got thrown into prison for it.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Don Cusic is a historian of country music at Belmont University in Nashville.
DON CUSIC: If ever there was a poster boy for prison reform and prison rehabilitation, Merle Haggard would be exhibit A.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Haggard turned to writing his own music after his release in 1960, and eventually scored hits with “The Legend of Bonnie & Clyde” and “Sing Me Back Home,” which was an ode to his time in San Quentin.
VINCE GILL, Musician: Merle would find prison stories. He would find a single parent, a single father in holding things together, fight inside of me sticking up for our country. Just — he was unabashed about telling the truth.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That came through most famously in Haggard’s 1969 hit “Okie From Muskogee,” which became a kind of conservative anthem at the height of the Vietnam War.
DON CUSIC: It was an anthem for the silent majority for the middle class. It was what the conservative — in political terms, conservative movement, the conservative folks were wanting to say.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Haggard later said he never intended to be taken that way, and later in life, he turned anti-war himself.
He also helped pioneer the so-called outlaw country genre, bucking the highly polished Nashville sound.
DON CUSIC: Haggard was an outlaw in the sense that he demanded creative control. He didn’t do just what producers told him to, lived his own life, called his own shots.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: As his career grew, the accolades piled on, including dozens of albums and number one hits, album of the year awards and the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2010, he was honored by the Kennedy Center and at a White House ceremony.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: In a day and age when so many country singers claim to be rambling, gambling outlaws, Merle actually is one.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Haggard also continued performing late into life. But a long battle with pneumonia forced him off the road this year.
Here he is back in 1978 performing “Sing Me Back Home” on the PBS series “Austin City Limits.”
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Merle Haggard died today, on his 79th birthday.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, we begin a series of reports on India’s work force.
Last year, the country became the world’s fastest growing economy. But the benefits have eluded many of its citizens.
Fred de Sam Lazaro has our first report on one group trying to reverse that trend. It is part of his ongoing series, Agents for Change.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The big malls may have arrived, but in India, food, clothing and virtually everything else is still bought mostly from street vendors.
They, along with construction laborers, domestics, rickshaw drivers and rickshaw pullers, in fact, most workers in India’s economy, are, quite literally, off the books, says Indiana University’s Sumit Ganguly.
SUMIT GANGULY, Indiana University: Ninety percent of the work force in India is in the so-called informal sector.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That could be a technical term that means a very hard life. They live from day to day. That is, if there’s work on any given day, they are paid at the end of it, less than $2 for most of them.
SUMIT GANGULY: These are people who have no Social Security provisions, who have no health care provisions, who can be hired and fired at will. And yet, according to a recent Credit Suisse study, it’s close to — they contribute close to 50 percent of India’s gross national product.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Not only are they underappreciated, but they fall easy prey to corrupt officials.
The market outside of Delhi’s main mosque has been here for more than 200 years. The vendors complain that they’re subject to regular harassment from police demanding bribes or from municipal authorities who conduct regular raids to evict them.
IMRAN KHAN, Street Vendor (through interpreter): They kicked us out from here in 2014, citing security reasons.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Across India’s cities, vendors like Imran Khan carry tales of harassment, sometimes along with their own video, of stalls dismantled and merchandise confiscated.
IMRAN KHAN (through interpreter): Then finally, we went to NASVI, to Arbind, and he said, you have only one option, straight to court.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Social activist Arbind Singh founded NASVI, the National Association of Street Vendors.
ARBIND SINGH, National Association of Street Vendors: All those who were kicked out, have them come to the office tomorrow.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: We ran into Singh in another Delhi market, where he was getting the familiar complaints from merchants.
ARBIND SINGH: We had gone to court for these vendors, and in recent days, they are having some trouble.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: They’re still be harassed?
ARBIND SINGH: Yes, yes, yes.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: For 20 years since it began, Singh’s group has organized various informal workers. It lobbied successfully for a law to protect street vendors, calling for a zoning and permit system. And until it’s in place, the court said no one can be evicted.
The problem, many officials simply flout the new law, preying on a population that is poorly educated and doesn’t fully understand it or their rights.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: This 19-year-old said he’d been in business for a year, selling this street food staple called panipuri.
QUESTION: So, how much do they take from you?
MAN (through interpreter): Who?
QUESTION: The municipality people.
MAN (through interpreter): Nothing. I don’t give any money.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He worried at first about reprisals, but did finally tell us he bribes the authorities about $1.50 each time they come round. That’s a third to a half of a day’s pay.
But protecting vendors like him is only the first step. The second is to improve their skills.
He’s obviously untrained. He’s using his bare hands. What would you do with him?
ARBIND SINGH: Well, first thing is that we need to organize, so he becomes part of the organizing process. Then, secondly, he goes for the training.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: With help from the tourism ministry and the hospitality industry, Singh’s organization has put thousands of street food vendors through training on food preparation, handling, service and storage.
Using street food festivals, the group’s message to vendors is that with better hygiene and food safety, their business can grow. But Singh says the new economy, geared very much to the middle class, must begin to help the much larger number below it to join it.
ARBIND SINGH: All what we need in a country like ours is equality of opportunity that is very much part of our constitution, that there has to be equality of all. I mean, you can get a loan for a car. You can’t get a loan for buying a rickshaw.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Today, some 350,000 people across India pay a small membership fee to belong to Singh’s group.
MANOJ KUMAR RANE, Street Vendor (through interpreter): We never did know the law. They have helped us to find our voice.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Manoj Kumar Rane says being organized has allowed vendors in his neighborhood to assert their rights. There are still reports of harassment from the cops and city people, he says, but far fewer than before.
Nidan has also started micro-finance programs and encouraged members to form local co-opts and savings clubs. Rani Harbans Kaur helped start this club, whose members pool their savings to make small loans.
Kaur, who’s 40, has graduated over the years from a sidewalk stall to a brick-and-mortar store, thanks to a series of small loans she says she has easily repaid.
ARBIND SINGH: There was an entrepreneur within herself. We just unleashed that with that access.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And India needs to provide a lot more access and employment to a growing youthful population. The median age is just 27.
Indiana University Professor Ganguly:
SUMIT GANGULY: We’re talking about entire armies of young men who are unemployed or underemployed, with expectations which cannot be reasonably fulfilled, unless one sees a greater dispersion of jobs and wealth in India.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Most of those young workers will likely wind up fending for themselves in the informal economy. Arbind Singh says the social stability in this land of 1.3 billion may well depend on organizing and protecting them and converting many of them into entrepreneurs.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” this is Fred de Sam Lazaro in New Delhi.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In his next report, Fred looks at the plight of workers in a remote rural region where debt and a deadly disease trap many in poverty.
Fred’s reporting is a partnership with the Under-Told Stories Project at University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now the next conversation in our occasional series in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict that we are calling The Long Divide.
Tonight: whether there is reason to be hopeful that the peace process could ever bear fruit.
And to John Yang.
JOHN YANG: For that, we have tonight two men we have hosted on the “NewsHour” many times over the years on this subject.
Hisham Melhem is a columnist for the Al-Arabiya news channel in Washington, D.C., and a correspondent for the Lebanese daily newspaper An-Nahar. And David Makovsky is a — was a senior policy adviser to Secretary of State John Kasich’s peace team for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during 2013 and 2014 and is a long-serving fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
To begin this series, Judy Woodruff spoke with Tom Friedman of The New York Times. And here’s a little bit of what Tom had to say about the peace process.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN, The New York Times: It’s actually been dead for a while. I just called it by its real name.
It’s clear to me, Judy, that both sides have conspired. This was like “Murder on the Orient Express.” There were so many stab wounds in this body, hard to tell exactly which one was the fatal blow.
JOHN YANG: David, we quickly heard from you in disagreement. So, explain why you disagree with Tom Friedman’s analysis.
DAVID MAKOVSKY, Washington Institute for Near East Policy: No, I think Tom made a lot of good points, so — but I think, the United States, we have tried to hit the home run ball three times, Bill Clinton in 2000, Condoleezza Rice in 2007-‘8, and the effort I was a part of with Secretary of State Kerry 2013-2014.
And I think what we see is that, despite the best efforts of the United States, these guys cannot do the home run ball. We don’t have time to explain all the reasons, but the point is, is that I think we just have to be more modest in our objectives and try to hit singles and doubles, because whether it’s a lack of leadership — and, by the way, even the great leaders in the Middle East deferred these issues.
There’s a reason why these issues — the can’s been kicked down the road, and we have disbelieving publics. They might say, I’m for a two-state solution, but I don’t think the other guy is. And, third, we have got the Middle East in unprecedented turmoil, as the “NewsHour” has been chronicling, since the Arab Spring in 2011.
Taken all together, we could just give up and say let these guys kill each other on both sides, or we could say maybe we have to be more modest in our objectives, maintain the viability of a two-state solution, even if we can’t implement it, keep that door open, so when the sides want to go through that door, they can.
I think there are some practical ideas are possible.
JOHN YANG: Hisham, is that possible?
HISHAM MELHEM, Al Arabiya: Look, American leadership is indispensable. We have known that.
If you leave the parties to their own devices, given the asymmetry between Israel and the Palestinians, given the fact that Israel has tremendous military preponderance, strong economy, strong constitution, you will end up with two societies living side by side unequal and resentful of each other, and in a state of constant low-intensity violence.
And if you allow the Israelis to continue settlement activities in Palestinian territories, incorporating more Palestinian lands, even when you work on the limited objectives, OK, then you will reach a point — we may have already reached it — where there will be nothing to divide.
You have half-a-million Israelis on Palestinian land. And if you allow the situation to continue, then it is impossible to talk about two-state solution, and you will end up in a situation where you have these two unequal societies living in a state of perpetual low-intensity violence.
And that’s the problem if you maintain this approach, let’s contain it for a while until it ripens. But it may be too late.
JOHN YANG: David, given the situation now, they can’t hit the long ball, as you say. Can they even hit the single or the double?
DAVID MAKOVSKY: Look, I don’t know, but we have to try.
And my goal is not to contain or to have a status quo, but really to find a way that basically you channel the settlement enterprise into an area we already know; 80 percent of the settlers own 5 percent of the land largely adjacent to the Israeli urban areas we used to call the pre-1967 border.
And most of the Palestinians are on the other side of that. And so we kind of know, territorially, where this is going, and there will be a land exchange, what we call a territorial swap. So, both sides know basically what has to be done. I do think you could hit the single or double. I just think the stakes are so high that, if we don’t try, we are basically consigning these people to perpetual bloodshed.
And if we try to hit the home run ball a fourth time, when we know these leaders and publics can’t do it, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.
JOHN YANG: But, Hisham, giving up the settlement blocs around the urban areas, sounds like that would be giving up East Jerusalem. And isn’t the Palestinian goal of having — establishing a capital in East Jerusalem? Would that be acceptable?
HISHAM MELHEM: Not to the Palestinians, definitely.
I mean, Palestinians would like to have East Jerusalem as their capital, just as the Israelis could have West Jerusalem as their capital. This is a Palestinian position that no Palestinian leaders can even entertain not having or not insisting upon that.
The problem of what we’re having here is, there are structural problems in the Israeli political culture. There are powerful people in Netanyahu’s cabinet who are calling for annexing the West Bank. It is not only the settlements.
They believe that the Palestinians cannot accept the Israeli presence or existence, and, essentially, they are asking the Palestinians to accept the impossible. There are forces on both sides who are maximalists now.
There was always a time when you had an Israeli constituency for peace and a Palestinian constituency for peace. These constituencies have been shrinking in the last few years. And you have the demonization taking place on both sides and maximalist positions on both sides.
Hamas lives in its own world. You have an ossified Palestinian leadership. And you have an Israeli leadership that is perpetuating the status quo, unwilling or unable, not courageous enough to make initiative, given the fact that Israel is the stronger party.
JOHN YANG: And talking about the situation in Israel, are there Israelis who are willing to look for that single?
DAVID MAKOVSKY: Yes.
JOHN YANG: Israeli leaders.
DAVID MAKOVSKY: You see half of the Knesset, half of the Israeli parliament, is talking about this openly.
And to your point on Jerusalem, obviously, Jerusalem has to be solved between the parties. You can’t find — you can’t impose any solution and you can’t just let it kind of unilaterally go in a certain director.
So, I think there’s ground rules you could set that — in East Jerusalem that would preserve the outcome of a solution. And, by the way, if you look at some of the positions, the Palestinians know that the Jewish neighborhoods will be Israel and the Palestinian neighborhoods will be Palestine.
So I see…
HISHAM MELHEM: But you want to hear an Israeli leadership articulate a position like — you want to hear an Israeli leader saying Jerusalem should be shared.
You want to see an Israeli leader saying, this is our outlook and our vision of eventual peace. They don’t do that. They keep kicking the can down the road.
DAVID MAKOVSKY: Part of the problem is, you have to realize, is these waves of stabbings that have radicalized the situation.
You have had like 180 stabbings on the Palestinian side that have convinced the Israelis there is no partner, and the Palestinians think, we don’t have a solution and we will never get to a solution.
JOHN YANG: Hisham Melhem, I’m sorry. David Makovsky, I’m afraid we have got to leave it there.
We will be coming back to this discussion many, many times again.
Thank you very much.
HISHAM MELHEM: Thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, this has been a stronger season than usual for the weather pattern known as El Nino, a phenomenon that affects weather all around the planet
Scientists and forecasters have repeatedly warned about its impact this year. But they still want to find out more about it to better gauge what it might do.
Science correspondent Miles O’Brien went with them to see what they’re learning.
MILES O’BRIEN: It’s another beautiful day in sunny Hawaii. A Gulfstream G4 jet spools up its engines and taxis for departure.
The plane is the ultimate in business jet luxury, in this case minus the luxury. Nicknamed Gonzo, it is owned and operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, and the business is scientific research on one of the most significant weather patterns on the planet, El Nino.
They make a beeline from good weather to bad.
MAN: Positive rate. Gear up, gear up. Heading and altitude? Verified.
MILES O’BRIEN: The cabin is filled with researchers using sophisticated equipment. They are part of a scientific campaign on multiple fronts, deploying satellites, drones, planes, balloons, surface ships and buoys, all focused on the largest El Nino in nearly 20 years.
BILL PATZERT, NASA Climatologist: El Ninos come small, medium, large and what I’m fond of calling is Godzilla.
MILES O’BRIEN: Veteran NASA climatologist Bill Patzert has studied El Nino his entire career. He watches the weather from a perch in space via the Jet Propulsion Lab in Southern California. Launched in January, the Jason-3 oceanography satellite is the fourth in a series NASA and the European Space Agency have deployed to monitor El Nino and sea level rise since the early ’90s.
BILL PATZERT: When these events impose themselves on the climate system, everybody on the planet feels it. And the droughts, floods are spectacular and they’re global.
MILES O’BRIEN: Here’s what makes an El Nino tick: Normally, trade winds blow from the east westward across the Pacific Ocean. This creates a mound of water near Indonesia that is as much as 10 degrees warmer and 1.5 feet higher than the water off the coast of Ecuador.
During an El Nino year, the trade winds either stop, or blow in the opposite direction, transporting the mound of warm water to the east.
BILL PATZERT: So, it’s a tremendous redistribution of heat. And so when this happens, all the pieces on the weather board are rearranged.
MILES O’BRIEN: The unusually warm water adds heat and moisture to the air above it, and it rises, causing rain, often torrential, on the West Coast of the United States and in Central and South America.
At the other side of the Pacific, the colder-than-normal ocean leads to serious droughts in Southeast Asia, India and Africa. It’s the kind of weather no one can ignore.
WOMAN: El Nino is threatening parts of the West this morning with more dangerous weather. Heavy rain and high winds will take aim at California.
MILES O’BRIEN: Strong El Nino winds bring colder temperatures and more rain across the Southern U.S., this year triggering flooding and mudslides in Texas, Louisiana and Tennessee.
And it flattens out the northern jet stream, redirecting the flow of cold polar air, resulting in a milder winter for much of the country. Scientists are getting better at predicting an El Nino. They foresaw this one six months in advance, but there is still a lot that they don’t know.
CHRIS FAIRALL, NOAA Physicist: This is not rocket science. It’s much, much more difficult than rocket science.
MILES O’BRIEN: Chris Fairall is a NOAA physicist. He says one of the key challenges is data, or, more accurately, the absence of it. El Nino forms along the equator in the Pacific, as remote as any place on the planet.
CHRIS FAIRALL: It’s a gigantic data void. There’s a huge area with no islands, no land stations, no radiosonde. And it’s extremely active.
MILES O’BRIEN: That is what makes this flight, one of 22, so crucial. They are now flying 45,000 feet above the equator.
MAN: I think the model’s wrong, which is part of the mission here.
MILES O’BRIEN: Randy Dole is a senior climate and weather scientist with NOAA. He and the team are Hoovering data in the place where they have the least of it, hoping to fix what is broken in their model.
RANDY DOLE, NOAA Meteorologist: Some of the errors were larger than we might have even anticipated. And this affects not just the weather models, but it affects models that are used to project U.S. climate on a seasonal scale or even globally on the long-term.
MILES O’BRIEN: As they fly, they gather data left and right, aiming a side-scanning radar at nearby clouds to determine how much moisture they contain.
MAN: Three, two, one, drop.
MILES O’BRIEN: And they look out below as well, releasing a few dozen dropsondes, which transmit real-time snapshots of temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction as they fall toward the sea.
Dr. Dole is also very interested in the connection between El Nino and climate change.
RANDY DOLE: There are several papers that suggest that — that some of the events like the climate we’re seeing may become more frequent, that is, extreme warm events in the future. This kind of mission or campaign ultimately provides data that will help to improve the models needed to understand that question.
MILES O’BRIEN: Meanwhile, in Pearl Harbor, the crew of a NOAA research vessel, the Ron Brown, readies to set sail on a month-long voyage into El Nino waters.
MAN: Bridge copies all hands aboard. Ship to colors. Hundred RPMs on the port.
MILES O’BRIEN: Lieutenant Adrienne Hopper is an operations officer in NOAA’s Commissioned Corps.
LT. ADRIENNE HOPPER, NOAA Operations Officer: Increase speed to 400 RPMs. Thrusters all ahead 400.
MILES O’BRIEN: She and her crew will be maintaining several buoys along the equator called the Tropical Atmospheric Ocean array. The TAO buoys were deployed to better understand El Nino by gathering data just above and below the surface, and beaming it to forecasters via satellite.
LT. ADRIENNE HOPPER: So, this is a temperature and conductivity probe. This is one of the first probes that’s immediately below the surface of the mooring collecting temperature and conductivity data. They go down about every 20 to 25 meters between the surface down to about 500 meters.
MILES O’BRIEN: And when you think about El Nino, this is kind of where the rubber meets the road, as it were, right?
LT. ADRIENNE HOPPER: Absolutely.
MILES O’BRIEN: This really is a key point to know what’s going on underwater and the atmosphere immediately surrounding it.
LT. ADRIENNE HOPPER: Absolutely. Together.
MILES O’BRIEN: They hope to add one more piece to the puzzle on this voyage, launching weather balloons every three hours.
MAN: OK, one, two, three, release.
MILES O’BRIEN: Designed to gather the same kind of data as those dropsondes released from 45,000 feet.
MAN: It was in the clouds roughly right in this period here.
MILES O’BRIEN: What goes up apparently must go down in this racket.
After deploying 27 dropsondes…
MAN: Landing gear is down. Three green confirmed?
MILES O’BRIEN: … Gonzo comes down eight hours after leaving Honolulu. The next day, Dr. Dole debriefed the flight for me.
RANDY DOLE: So, this is the actual flight plan track. That’s in red. These are dropsonde points in the plan.
MILES O’BRIEN: On the left is the forecast model, what was predicted, and on the right is what we saw during the flight.
RANDY DOLE: We want to see if in fact this model is right in predicting that we should have seen more activity on this side even than we saw in the eastern portion, where there was existing activity already. So was it going to develop here or not? Three or four model cycles had said it was. So, let’s test it.
MILES O’BRIEN: So, based on this flight, how would you grade this model?
RANDY DOLE: Not very good. I’m a hard grader, but I won’t give you a letter grade on it, but let’s just say it didn’t happen.
My sense is that they should be in good shape if they turn, it looks like, at about one north, instead of at the equator.
MILES O’BRIEN: They are seizing the scientific moment, hoping this is a perfect opportunity to make the model smarter. It can’t stop El Nino’s conveyor belt of moisture, but it might give us better warning.
Miles O’Brien, the “PBS NewsHour,” Honolulu.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And now, an alarming new report about the dramatic growth of diabetes across the globe.
The World Health Organization said today that an estimated 422 million people are now suffering from this chronic lifelong disease.
William Brangham has more.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The WHO’s report tracked the global rise of diabetes over the last 40 years. And it showed a quadrupling of the number of cases worldwide. It’s now estimated that 8.5 percent of adults in the world have the disease, and the costs are tremendous. An estimated 3.7 million deaths every year are linked to diabetes and higher-than-normal blood sugar levels.
The fastest growth of the disease has been in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Joining me now is Dr. Etienne Krug. He’s the World Health Organization’s point person for dealing with diseases like diabetes.
Dr. Krug, these are genuinely shock numbers. How do you explain this incredible growth of diabetes?
DR. ETIENNE KRUG, World Health Organization: Well, we have seen a steady growth now for several decades, which largely, particularly for people with type 2 diabetes, is linked to our changes in the way we eat and changes in our levels of physical activity.
We are seeing more and more unhealthy eating and a reduction in physical activity, which contributes both to overweight, which in turn is a big cause of type 2 diabetes.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: We tend to think of diabetes as a disease that afflicts wealthier nations, but your report indicates that poorer countries are increasingly bearing a bigger and bigger burden.
DR. ETIENNE KRUG: For a long time, diabetes was considered the disease of the rich countries. This is not the case anymore, and the report clearly shows that rates are now higher in lower- and middle-income countries than in the high-income countries.
It is a total reverse of the situation, what it was. And the increase is steeper in those countries as well.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The health impacts of diabetes, as we described are, really quite striking. I’m wondering, do you have a sense of the economic cost of this disease?
DR. ETIENNE KRUG: The total cost of treating diabetes is more than $827 billion every year. So, it’s a very high number, and that’s only the direct cost. It’s not even talking about lost productivity, for example.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Diabetes requires lifetime, costly medical care. Do you have any sense of whether these nations have the medical infrastructure to deal with these patients over the rest of their lives?
DR. ETIENNE KRUG: Diabetes is a disease that’s there to stay for the life of an individual, and it does require a lot of different responses.
It’s important to mention that a lot of it doesn’t have to be costly. Just through healthier eating and more physical activity, type 2 diabetes can be reduced quite a bit. And it is an issue that’s important, also, for type 1 diabetes.
But then we need to have access to diagnostics and to treatment. And, today, 23 percent of the lower-income countries say they don’t have a good, widespread access to insulin, for example, which is a lifesaving medicine for people with diabetes. And that means we need to work on supply chains, making sure those medicines reach even the poorest countries and the poorest corners of those countries, as well as on the prices, because we know that some types of insulin, for example, are too expensive.
And we have to make sure that even poorest people, who need them just as much as the rich ones, have access to them.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Let’s talk about possible remedies. What is it that can be done? Is it education? We have seen some faltering attempt here in the U.S. to try to tax sugary beverages. Mexico has done that. The U.K. is trying that. Is that a possible solution?
DR. ETIENNE KRUG: It is a combination of measures that are needed.
Clearly, all of us have to make an effort in terms of healthier eating and more physical activity, but that is not going to be enough. And particularly when we look at the poorest countries, people don’t have access to the information, but also don’t always have the choice to eat healthily or to do more physical activity.
So, the governments have an important role to play in terms of providing information, but also making sure healthier choices are available. And that can be done through legislation in terms of content of food, through taxation, as you have mentioned. These are important measures that can work.
And then we need to also think about our urban planning, for example. One of the causes to overweight is urbanization. People cannot walk and cycle safely anymore to work or to school. And making sure our cities are healthy and provide opportunities for safe walking, cycling, physical activity in general is extremely important.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Dr. Etienne Krug of the World Health Organization, thanks very much.
DR. ETIENNE KRUG: Sure. No, thanks very much for having us and supporting our work.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Already, the 2016 spotlight has shifted to the next two major campaign battlegrounds, New York and Pennsylvania. Ted Cruz, fresh off his win in Wisconsin’s Republican primary, paid a visit today to the Big Apple. There, he was forced to defend his criticism earlier in this campaign of front-runner Donald Trump’s what he called New York values.
Cruz pointed to what one Hispanic pastor told him today about what’s wrong about New York politics and the values that drive them.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: We fight them every day in our country. We fight them. They’re the values that led, for example, Mayor Bill de Blasio, liberal Democrat, of getting elected there.
One of the first things he did was try to shut down charter schools in Harlem, because he is captive to the union bosses who control him, so one of his first actions was to try to throw young African-American and Hispanic kids out of the schools that were giving them hope and giving them a lifeline.
Those are the values. It’s the values of the liberal Democratic politicians that have been hammering the people of New York for a long time.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Donald Trump, for his part, has a rally scheduled this evening in Long Island, while Ohio Governor John Kasich was off the trail today.
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is moving on to Pennsylvania with his Wisconsin win last night under his belt. But the Democratic front-runner once again took aim at Sanders’ ability to turn his rhetoric into reality.
Here’s what Hillary Clinton said today at an AFL-CIO convention in Philadelphia.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I am concerned that some of his ideas just won’t work because the numbers don’t add up. Others won’t even pass Congress, or they rely on Republican governors suddenly having a conversion experience and becoming progressive, while, in a number of important areas, he doesn’t have a plan at all.
JUDY WOODRUFF: To dig into last night’s results in Wisconsin and perhaps tell us what it could mean for the road ahead, we are joined by Ron Brownstein, who writes for “The Atlantic” and “National Journal,” specializing in the demographics of the nation’s politics, and Dante Chinni. He’s director of the American Communities Project, a county-by-county look at the U.S. electorate. He is also a politics reporter for The Wall Street Journal.
And we welcome you both to the program.
DANTE CHINNI, Director, American Communities Project: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good to see you.
So, let’s talk about — a little bit about breaking down that vote yesterday, Ron, in Wisconsin. What did you see from what voters did, how they voted that tells us anything about what’s happening?
RON BROWNSTEIN, Atlantic Media: The short version, Judy, is that it reconfirmed the patterns we have seen on the Democratic side and it broke the patterns we have seen on the Republican side.
On the Democratic side, we saw Bernie Sanders strong where he has been strong, dominant among young people, and surprisingly competitive among working-class white voters in the Midwest. He’s now won them in every state, except for Ohio, where the two of them ran even.
So he has shown that he can continue to be very strong in states that are predominantly white and where the share of vote cast by Democrats is lower. Hillary Clinton maintained her strength among African-American voters, which is critical going into the big diverse battlegrounds to come, New York, Pennsylvania, California, New Jersey.
On the Republican side, the patterns broke substantially. Ted Cruz did better among voters, particularly those who are not evangelicals, than he’s done before. The question will be whether that was a one-time anomaly or that’s a new pattern in the race.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you see, Dante, when you look at Wisconsin?
DANTE CHINNI: Well, one thing that struck me on the Republican side in particular was it really did seem that we have been waiting a long time to see who this establishment candidate was going to be on the Republican side.
We had Marco Rubio. He went away. We had some earlier folks. We had Jeb Bush. We even had Scott Walker. And it really did look — last night, it looked like the establishment said, OK, we’re going on all in Ted Cruz, we’re going, which is remarkable. To say that, a year ago, that Ted Cruz has become the candidate of the establishment, that honestly…
RON BROWNSTEIN: It’s 2:00 a.m. and closing time at the bar.
DANTE CHINNI: Exactly.
RON BROWNSTEIN: The Republican establishment…
DANTE CHINNI: Time to go. Time to go.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But that you’re looking at a lot of endorsements. And you’re right. It does — at this point, it looks like that’s where they’re coalescing.
Well, let’s — we have some graphics here, Ron. Let’s talk about something you say you have seen in really all the primaries so far. And you just referred to it that helps us understand the Republican vote. And it has to do with on the Republican side who is winning the white college grads and non-college grads.
RON BROWNSTEIN: Right.
So, look, what Donald Trump has done is fracture the Republican Party along a new line of division. Now, in the past, Republican races have been defined mostly by ideology and religious affiliation. You had one candidate who was more moderate, somewhat conservative voters, and also non-evangelicals, another candidate who tends to be more conservative and evangelicals.
Trump has replaced that with a new divide along the lines of education. As you look at that map, he has won voters who are white college graduates in only eight of the 21 states. In the cumulative exit polls, he’s carried about a third of them. He has been dominant, though, Judy, among those non-college white voters in the Republican primary. He’s won them.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The next graphic.
RON BROWNSTEIN: He’s won them now, yes, in 17 of the first 20 states.
And one of the things that was significant last night, he’s won about 45 percent of them. So, in most states, the pattern has been Trump loses the college voters usually pretty narrowly, and wins the non-college voters by big margins. Last night in Wisconsin, we saw something very different.
We saw him lose the college voters by a very big margin, almost 20 points. And he also lost the non-college white voters, only the fourth time he’s done that in the 21 sees with exit polls.
That was one of the key questions. Is that, again, a one-time confluence of events that makes Wisconsin unique, or is this a new pattern? By the way, new polling out tonight in New York suggests it may have been a one-time event, at least as compared to his home state.
It’s got to be proven that Cruz can sustain the advantages we saw in Wisconsin. But there’s no question that Trump has upended the usual order in the Republican primary by building his blue-collar coalition that transcends the usual geographic divides.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we know Wisconsin voters were bombarded with this campaign for the last few weeks. And now New York voters are about to experience the same thing.
So, Dante, you have been looking at something related, but it’s not exactly. You have been looking at how suburban voters are looking at this election. What you have found? And we have a graphic on this, too.
DANTE CHINNI: Well, the one thing I have noticed looking at the data throughout the election, and even going in, is that Republicans need to win the suburbs to win the general election.
It’s very important to them. They have been losing in the suburbs for a long time. In the last election, say, in 2008 — 2012 — sorry — Barack Obama won these suburban places by about 16 points in the breakdown that I used for the American Communities Project.
I looked at head-to-head data between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. She’s winning in those places now by like 32 points. She’s doubled the advantage. And we’re seeing in — what we’re seeing in these primaries is Trump cannot win in these places, and it revealed itself again last night.
You look at that map. Where does he win? He wins Milwaukee, he wins Waukesha, Washington. He wins over to Dane, which is where Madison is.
JUDY WOODRUFF: This is the county, Dane County.
DANTE CHINNI: Yes. Yes.
And then he wins up a little bit around Green Bay, Appleton. But when you get up in those rural areas, that’s all Trump.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But there are suburbs and there are suburbs. Are you talking inner suburbs? Or — because we know, today, a city, there’s sprawl.
DANTE CHINNI: Absolutely.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And there are places where suburbs become almost rural.
DANTE CHINNI: Absolutely, and exurbs, right, and exurban areas.
And that’s been — those places have been fairly good for Republicans in the past. And even when I look at the breakdown, the head-to-head numbers with Trump and Hillary Clinton, he still holds down the Republican edge in those places, but he’s way down. He doesn’t have the edge that, say, Mitt Romney had.
RON BROWNSTEIN: There has been some commentary, even from Trump himself, that he is winning because he is transforming the Republican electorate. That’s not really happening.
If you look at the share of the vote cast by Republicans, it is basically the same as it was in 2012. There has not been this big upsurge of Democrats and independents. And Trump has won Republicans in every state that he has won except Missouri.
What he has done, Judy, is taken the existing coalition and divide it in a new way. He has basically achieved what someone like Pat Buchanan or Rick Santorum tried and failed to do. He’s consolidated this blue-collar half of the party in a way that no one has done before.
And really for the first time in a divided primary, the blue-collar side is driving the result, and the white-collar side is the fragmented one.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, just quickly, we want to turn to the Democrats here, because, Ron, you have also looked at that, and frankly how it is divided by race, how Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have divided the white voters. And we have got a graphic on that.
RON BROWNSTEIN: Right.
Well, look, Sanders started as the classic wine track candidate. He was a candidate of basically white-collar whites, vocal liberals, and young people. He’s doing incredibly well among young people, among 70 percent overall.
But he has expanded beyond that. He is now competitive among those blue-collar whites. He has won all white voters in every state outside of the South except for Ohio and Iowa. She has dominated among white voters in the South. And that’s allowed him to compete far beyond the kind of wine track states like an Oregon, say, or a Vermont and New Hampshire.
What he hasn’t done, though, yet, Judy, is cross that second hill, which is the diversity of the Democratic Party. And the challenge that creates for him is that, on the Democratic side, every large state is diverse, and she has won every large state, except for Michigan.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meaning African-American voters.
RON BROWNSTEIN: African-American and Hispanic voters.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Asian voters.
RON BROWNSTEIN: And until he breaks that pattern, that is his task in the remaining contests, New York, Pennsylvania, California, and New Jersey.
DANTE CHINNI: The one thing you also see with Bernie Sanders that is interesting, while he’s winning these rural — he’s winning rural white places.
There are aspects to Bernie. We all think about him as, yes, he’s the college kids, crazy Professor Sanders. Go vote for him.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Colleges, yes.
DANTE CHINNI: But that’s not really everything that’s going on with him.
He has aspects to him that are really — that are — he’s a prairie populist in a lot of ways. It’s prairie populist. He’s winning Kansas. He’s winning these rural parts of Wisconsin, Nebraska. And, yes, he wins big. He wins the Pacific Northwest, but he’s winning rural whites that kind of live in the old prairie populist areas.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But he still is, Ron, a significant number of delegates behind Hillary Clinton.
RON BROWNSTEIN: Right.
And that is because, if you look forward, you see where the challenge is. He’s a good candidate for Kentucky, for West Virginia, for South Dakota, for Oregon. But on the Democratic side, the big states that award the big trove of delegate delegates are all diverse.
And Sanders’ campaign recognizes that he has — he has obviously advanced far from where he started. But the hill that he has to get over to truly challenge her is to crack the diversity of the Democratic Party. Without that, he can’t win a place like California or New Jersey.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we are going to have to leave it there. It is all fascinating, and New York two weeks from yesterday.
RON BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Ron Brownstein, Dante Chinni, we thank you both.
RON BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having us.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I am Judy Woodruff. Gwen Ifill is away.
On the “NewsHour” tonight: Wisconsin’s primary sets a potential turning point in the presidential race, as both party’s front-runners are handed a loss.
Also ahead this Wednesday: a dangerous rise in diabetes. The World Health Organization announces the number of adult cases quadrupled globally in less than 40 years.
With this year’s predicted strongest El Nino on record, scientists step up their efforts to better understand the weather pattern when forecasts predict the worst.
BILL PATZERT, NASA Climatologist: When these events impose themselves on the climate system, everybody on the planet feels it. And the droughts, floods are spectacular, and they’re global.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And remembering Merle Haggard, one of country music’s original outlaws, who died today at 79.
All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”
JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s on to New York in the presidential campaign, after Wisconsin voters shook up the race.
Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Bernie Sanders won big in the Badger State on Tuesday. The candidates they are chasing, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, aim to do a lot better in New York, which is home to both. We will have a full report after the news summary.
In the day’s other news: Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its Irish rival Allergan called off a record merger agreement. The deal would have saved Pfizer hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes by moving its corporate address overseas. But, on Monday, the Obama administration imposed rules to block such so-called tax inversions.
At the White House today, spokesman Josh Earnest rejected criticism from the drug companies.
JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: Most corporate leaders in America understand that a strong American economy is good for their business. And the concern that we have is with the leaders of some corporations that are looking to take the best of America without making a contribution to the success of our country. And that is wrong.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The merger would have been worth $160 billion.
Former coal executive Don Blankenship was sentenced to a year in federal prison for a mine disaster that killed 29 people. Blankenship was CEO of Massey Energy, which owned the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia when an explosion hit six years ago yesterday. His sentencing today came after a federal jury convicted him of conspiracy to violate safety standards. He was acquitted of more serious charges.
New signs are emerging that the flow of migrants from Turkey to the Greek islands is finally slowing. The Turkish coast guard reports that it stopped 68 people trying to cross the Aegean Sea today. That is down sharply from 225 yesterday. Turkey’s prime minister says it shows a deal with the European Union to deport illegal migrants is having an effect.
More world leaders found themselves on the defensive today over offshore investments. They were detailed this week in a massive leak of documents, the so-called Panama Papers. British Prime Minister David Cameron said today that his family will not benefit from offshore funds or trusts in the future.
And in Tokyo, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said that his offshore holdings were a blind trust that he created once he took office.
PRESIDENT PETRO POROSHENKO, Ukraine: The only purpose of that was a transparent separation of business of the Ukrainian president from any political influence. This is absolutely normal procedure, and I think this is the main difference from the blaming all the political figures in this Panama list.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Also today, the documents leak led police in Switzerland to raid the headquarters of European soccer’s governing body. They are focused on a TV contract that could be linked to a bribery scandal.
Governments around the world carried out more executions last year than at any time since 1990. Amnesty International reports more than 1,600 people were put to death in 2015. Almost 90 percent of the executions came in three countries: Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. There were 28 executions in the U.S., the lowest number since 1991. Amnesty says it’s believed that China executes thousands of people every year, but won’t confirm any figures.
Back in this country, investment brokers are going to have to meet a higher standard when they advise people on retirement. Labor Department rules issued say advisers act as fiduciaries, legally required to put a client’s best interest above all else. They also have to disclose fees they are paid to recommend a given investment. The rules will be phased in next year.
On Wall Street, stocks broke out of a two-day slump thanks to gains in the health care and energy sectors. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 112 points to close at 17716. The Nasdaq rose 76 points, and the S&P 500 added 21.
And the University of Connecticut celebrated today, after the women’s basketball team won their fourth straight national championship. The Huskies routed Syracuse last night 82-51. It marked the 11th championship overall for coach Geno Auriemma, the most in college basketball history.
Still to come on the “NewsHour”: all eyes on New York, as the presidential front-runners suffer setbacks in Wisconsin; the underlying cause of a global spike in diabetes; and much more.
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NEW YORK — The race for the Democratic nomination took a decidedly negative turn, with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders exchanging a series of barbs over each other’s qualifications for the presidency.
In overlapping press conferences, the two Democratic primary rivals addressed the ping-ponging accusations, with Sanders vowing to fight back against Clinton’s accusations.
“This is not the type of politics that I wanna get in,” he told journalists in Philadelphia. “But we’ll get used to it fast. I’m not gonna get beat up. I’m not gonna get lied about.”
Clinton, campaigning in New York City, sought to shift attention back to her Republican opponents, saying: “I will take Bernie Sanders over Donald Trump or Ted Cruz any time, so let’s keep our eye over what’s at stake in this election.”
Testy exchanges between the two candidates on Wednesday were a notable shift in tone for a primary contest that’s remained largely civil since voting began in February. Now, as the race moves toward the make-or-break New York primary, the stakes have grown high for both camps, with Sanders’ recent string of victories complicating Clinton’s efforts to march headstrong toward the general election.
Sanders told a crowd of more than 10,000 people in Philadelphia on Wednesday that Clinton has been saying that he’s “not qualified to be president.”
“I don’t believe that she is qualified if she is, through her super PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special-interest funds,” he said.
Clinton launched a flurry of attacks against Sanders earlier that day, questioning his truthfulness and policy expertise, though she stopped short of saying he was unqualified for the job.
In a discussion of Sanders interview with the editorial board of the New York Daily News, Clinton was asked if “Bernie Sanders is qualified and ready to be president of the United States.”
She responded, “Well, I think he hadn’t done his homework and he’d been talking for more than a year about doing things that he obviously hadn’t really studied or understood, and that does raise a lot of questions.”
Despite her sizable delegate lead, a loss in the April 19 contest would be a major political blow for Clinton that would highlight her weaknesses within her own party, particularly with younger voters who’ve powered Sanders primary bid.
A former New York senator, she’s been touting her work in Congress for the state, highlighting her economic record in visits to struggling upstate cities.
On Thursday, she took a quick jaunt on the New York City subway, riding the train one stop in the Bronx. Walking along East 170th Street afterward, she stopped to shake hands and greet a baby in a stroller. “I need your vote!” she told one man before dropping into Munch Time, a cafe near Townsend Avenue.
The photo op was aimed at Sanders, who told the New York Daily News in an interview earlier this week that New Yorkers still used tokens to pay for the train. The system switched over to pre-paid MetroCards in 2003.
A Brooklyn native, Sanders left New York for Vermont in 1968.
Still, he’s cast himself as a native son of the state, viewing the contest as a springboard into primaries out West later in the summer and a pathway to closing his more than 250-delegate gap with Clinton.
The Vermont senator must win 68 percent of the remaining delegates and uncommitted super delegates if he hopes to clinch the Democratic nomination. That would require blow-out victories by Sanders in upcoming states big and small, including New York.
In a separate interview with Politico published on Wednesday, Clinton said she tries to explain things in a more “open and truthful way than my opponent.”
Later, at a Philadelphia job training center, Clinton said people should know what she would do if she’s elected president, “not just lots of arm-waving and hot rhetoric.”
Ignoring their own barbs, Clinton aides pushed back on Sanders attack, with spokesman Brian Fallon writing on Twitter: “Hillary Clinton did not say Bernie Sanders was ‘not qualified.’ But he has now — absurdly — said it about her. This is a new low.”
Errin Whack reported from Philadelphia. Associated Press writer Lisa Lerer contributed to this report.
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