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- 05/08/16--09:19: _Why thousands of st...
- 05/08/16--10:13: _Sanders’ path to no...
- 05/08/16--10:43: _Surviving the Holoc...
- 05/08/16--11:13: _Lin-Manuel Miranda ...
- 05/08/16--11:23: _Clinton says FBI ha...
- 05/08/16--11:29: _Trump: GOP unity wo...
- 05/08/16--13:20: _New York City high ...
- 05/08/16--13:26: _U.S.-funded Somalia...
- 05/08/16--13:34: _Philippine election...
- 05/08/16--13:41: _How Broadway sensat...
- 05/09/16--12:18: _Kerry says U.S., Ru...
- 05/09/16--12:29: _Advice to poets: ge...
- 05/09/16--13:06: _Justice Department:...
- 05/09/16--13:24: _Obama signs legisla...
- 05/09/16--14:19: _New research uncove...
- 05/09/16--14:43: _Clinton talks ‘work...
- 05/09/16--15:20: _Watchdog group trac...
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- 05/09/16--15:30: _A historic Bosnia m...
- 05/09/16--15:35: _Oil-reliant Saudi A...
- 05/08/16--09:19: Why thousands of students are seeing Broadway smash ‘Hamilton’
- 05/08/16--10:13: Sanders’ path to nomination requires support of superdelegates
- 05/08/16--10:43: Surviving the Holocaust as a ‘hidden child’ in Athens
- 05/08/16--11:13: Lin-Manuel Miranda says ‘musical storytelling has no limits’
- 05/08/16--11:29: Trump: GOP unity would be beneficial, but isn’t crucial
- 05/08/16--13:34: Philippine election front-runner drawing comparisons to Donald Trump
- 05/08/16--13:41: How Broadway sensation ‘Hamilton’ is inspiring NYC students
- 05/09/16--12:18: Kerry says U.S., Russia to reinstate nationwide Syria cease-fire
- 05/09/16--12:29: Advice to poets: get out of the ivory tower
- 05/09/16--13:24: Obama signs legislation designating bison as national mammal
- 05/09/16--14:19: New research uncovers little improvement in achievement gap
- 05/09/16--14:43: Clinton talks ‘work-life balance’ with families in Virginia
- 05/09/16--15:20: Watchdog group tracks what really happens to your ‘recycled’ e-waste
- 05/09/16--15:25: Private schools kept decades of sexual abuse secret
- 05/09/16--15:35: Oil-reliant Saudi Arabia envisions a new economic path
Saskia de Melker: “Hamilton” is about the personal and political lives of Alexander Hamilton and America’s other Founding Fathers.
Christopher Jackson: Moved in with a cousin, the cousin committed suicide, Left him with nothing but ruined pride
Saskia de Melker: It stars a cast of mostly black and latino actors performing a musical score steeped in hip-hop and rap. The show is sold out through January 2017, with box office tickets often costing hundreds of dollars apiece. But now, 20,000 students from New York City public schools serving low income populations will see the show, for just 10 dollars each. The show’s producers and the Rockefeller Foundation are underwriting the cost.
Lin-Manuel Miranda: Alexander Hamilton. My name is Alexander Hamilton. And there’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait, just you wait.
Saskia de Melker: Hamilton is played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also wrote the music and lyrics.
Lin-Manuel Miranda: Not every student who comes to see the show is gonna have a life in the theater. But they are gonna have to reckon with how much Hamilton got done in his life. And that is going to spark a little bit of, “Well, what am I gonna do with my life?”
Saskia de Melker: When the students attend their Wednesday matinee, it is the culmination of a larger educational initiative.
Teacher: So go to your research on either page 16 or 17
Saskia de Melker: It starts with an interactive study curriculum by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Over several weeks, these 11th graders scroll through timelines of major events; watch video clips of the musical’s actors explaining historical writings;
Daveed Diggs: So this is a letter that Lafayette wrote to Hamilton
Saskia de Melker: And listen to lyrics, to see how they incorporate historical documents.
Lin-Manuel Miranda: When we finally drove the British away, Lafayette is there waiting in Chesapeake Bay!
Paul Zuppello: What did you learn that is absolutely essential to telling your story?
Saskia de Melker: History teacher Paul Zuppello teaches at a high school in Manhattan. He believes using the musical shows his students that history is more than just names and dates.
Paul Zuppello: This has really helped them understand that if you view history as a narrative, you almost don’t need to worry about remembering the nitty gritty. You’ll remember those things because you’re going to remember the story.
Okieriete Onaodowan: And he wrote his first refrain, a testament to his pain
Saskia de Melker: What did you know about Alexander Hamilton before you started learning about him through the musical and through the curriculum at school?
Malcolm Grant: I knew he was on the 10 dollar. And I knew he was Treasury Secretary for George Washington. And that’s it.
Saskia de Melker: At Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy, Malcolm Grant, Christian Gowan, and Danny Ingrassia spent several weeks immersed in the subject.
Malcolm Grant: When I was introduced to this, I was like history on Hamilton, I wasn’t really interested that much. But then you know, you take a feeling of what we have today in this generation, and then add that to something that’s centuries ago with Hamilton and our Founding Fathers. And that’s very interesting.
Christian Gowan: I enjoy music a lot, mainly hip hop and rap and everything. So having it be displayed to me this way. It stuck in my head.
Danny Ingrassia: Anything with a hip hop, flavor to it, it’s definitely more interesting than opening a dusty history book and trying to, like, fish out old information.
Dana Holness: They feel like what we do here is sort of outdated.
Saskia de Melker: Dana Holness is their English teacher.
Dana Holness: And giving the kids those kind of options just to me makes education seem relevant.
Saskia de Melker: After engaging with the Hamilton material, the curriculum hones the kids’ language, writing, and performance skills by having them write their own musical riffs.
Danny Ingrassia: Yeah it’s true that Jefferson was second president, but it’s only because Hamilton didn’t have the residence.
Dana Holness: Let’s try it again. So, go back. Christian, do your last four lines.
Danny Ingrassia: And the government was rotten to the core, so the people sparked a Revolutionary War.
Danny Ingrassia: We broke it up into three separate parts. And mine, my part is more directed on his influence on the bank and America developing at the time.
Christian Gowan: It wasn’t just for the fact that I get to learn about a Founding Father, It was mainly I get to expand my horizon, do something I never thought I’d do in my lifetime.
Christian Gowan: He resided in St Croix, he was just a little boy deployed into the world trying to discover joy.
Dana Holness: He’s excited to have a voice, which is the same thing that those men wanted. They wanted a voice. I think it’s been really cool to just see them, like, enjoy school, enjoy the creative process.
Saskia de Melker: For Lin-Manuel Miranda, bridging the classroom and the stage is nothing new. Thirteen years ago, before his acting career took off, he was a 7th grade English teacher at the New York public school he attended.
Saskia de Melker: How did your experience as a teacher influence how you see Hamilton being used in the classroom?
Lin-Manuel Miranda: I’ve learned all of my best teaching experiences when I was sitting in the back, and I was just keeping the ball in the air for the students to discuss. And they were finding the connections in whatever we were reading or whatever we were learning about. And this– this curriculum works in a similar way. It’s not about, “Here are the facts of Hamilton, the musical. Put them in your brain.” It’s, “This is one story. What are more stories? What are more stories from this time, from this era? Maybe stories that haven’t been heard yet.
Daveed Diggs: And every day while slaves were being slaughtered and carted, Away across the waves, he struggled and kept his guard up,Inside, he was longing for something to be a part of, The brother was ready to beg, steal, borrow, or barter”
Saskia de Melker: On the day they went to the show, the students interacted with the cast. Christopher Jackson plays George Washington.
Christopher Jackson: You’ve got to read about our forefathers so that you know, you can appreciate what they did right and try to improve upon what they didn’t get right.
Saskia de Melker: And a group of students from each participating school got to perform its piece on stage, in front of Lin-Manuel Miranda. There was a rap from the perspective of Hamilton’s nemesis, Aaron Burr.
Student: I took him down, got a position at the seat of Congress. I joined the Continental Army, I’m the man in progress.
Saskia de Melker: There was a song about the Boston Tea Party.
Student: So we took their tea and dumped it into the sea.
Lin-Manuel Miranda: Have a blast guys. We can’t wait to see what you’ve made.
Saskia de Melker: And the trio from Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy got their shot.
Christopher Jackson: We want to welcome Malcolm Grant, Christian Gowan, and Daniel Ingrassia! Come on out fellas!
Christian Gowan: Alexander Hamilton, Legend, Man, Myth. Bastard abandoned when he was just a little kid. Living with his mother, strong befallen under, father didn’t keep it covered so he also had a brother. Resided in St. Croix, he was just a little boy, deployed into the world trying to discover joy.
Saskia de Melker: How much of this is about students who maybe don’t always get that chance to be put out there and be heard?
Lin-Manuel Miranda: It’s everything. That ability to be heard whether it’s in a classroom or it’s on a stage, it’s so important. That creativity. It’s important to harness it and find outlets for it that are constructive.
Saskia de Melker: For students like Danny Ingrassia, the lessons from “Hamilton” are personal.
Danny Ingrassia: His father walked out on him. I mean like my father passed away when I was ten years old. So I mean that definitely resonates with me and it’s comforting to know that people throughout history, not only Hamilton, but many characters, have, you know, overcome a lot of obstacles.
Anthony Ramos: The ten dollar Founding Father without a father got a lot farther by working a lot harder, by being a lot smarter, by being a self starter, by 14, they placed him in charge of a trading charter.
Saskia de Melker: The “Hamilton” education program is also trying to increase diversity at the theater. Last year, 80 percent of the Broadway audience was white, with an average age in the mid-40’s. The boys from Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy were part of the very first student audience. The initiative to integrate the show into classroom studies will continue into the Fall.
Lin-Manuel Miranda: It forces you to engage personally with something that could just be a bunch of facts you learn for an A.P. test. And in doing that, you create empathy. In doing that, you create an ability to engage with history in a way that’s more than memorization. It’s, “These were people who lived and died. And they were flawed.” And our country’s flawed, because they were flawed. Because we’re all figuring it out. And there’s lessons to be mined there.
The post Why thousands of students are seeing Broadway smash ‘Hamilton’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Bernie Sanders has a problem.
Remember those superdelegates, the Democratic Party leaders and elected officials who can vote for the candidate of their choice? The ones Sanders’ supporters have been complaining about for months? It turns out, to have a shot at beating out Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president, he needs them.
A lot of them.
He needs the ones who remain uncommitted, as well as more than 200 of those who have already publicly endorsed Clinton. Mathematically, Sanders cannot win the nomination without that support.
On Saturday, Sanders netted more than two dozen delegates over Clinton in Washington state after the party released vote data broken down by congressional district.
But his math remains dire.
Clinton won the Guam caucus on Saturday and now needs just 17 percent of the delegates at stake in upcoming contests to clinch the nomination. That means she could lose every single contest by a landslide and still be the nominee if all of her superdelegates continue to support her.
THE AP DELEGATE COUNT
Clinton: 2,228 delegates.
Sanders: 1,454 delegates.
Needed to win: 2,383 delegates.
The totals include delegates won in primaries and caucuses, as well as public endorsements from superdelegates.
As it stands, Clinton is 155 delegates away from clinching the nomination.
These are the delegates won in primaries and caucuses. They are required to vote for the candidate who won them.
Early in the campaign, Sanders said his plan was to win a majority of pledged delegates, which would persuade the superdelegates to support him as well.
That’s no longer feasible.
Clinton has 1,705 pledged delegates. Sanders has 1,415. Clinton’s 290-delegate lead in pledged delegates is far bigger than any lead Barack Obama had over Clinton during the 2008 primaries.
Sanders would need to win 66 percent of the remaining pledged delegates to close the gap. So far, he’s won just 45 percent of them.
There are 714 superdelegates, mainly members of Congress and members of the Democratic National Committee. At the party’s national convention, they can vote for the candidate of their choice.
So far, 523 have publicly endorsed Clinton and 39 have endorsed Sanders. That leaves 152 still uncommitted.
That means he would need all of the uncommitted superdelegates. Plus, he would need to persuade more than 200 of Clinton’s superdelegates to switch their allegiance to him.
THE PATH TO 2,383
Just 155 delegates short, Clinton is on a glide path to the number needed to win on June 7 when polls close in New Jersey at 8 p.m. EDT, even if she narrowly loses all the contests between now and then.
If she can instead pull out solid victories this month in West Virginia, Kentucky and Oregon – and get some additional endorsements from superdelegates – Clinton could end up celebrating as a presumptive nominee in a place in need of some financial attention: Puerto Rico on June 5.
At least one of its superdelegates, Luisette Colon, earlier this year changed her support from Clinton to uncommitted, citing her desire to learn more about the candidates’ positions on aiding the U.S. territory.
Clinton has recently sent advisers to Puerto Rico to learn more about the Zika virus and called on Congress to assist with the island’s financial crisis. Sanders has also urged help for the island.
Sanders’ steep path to 2,383 can only really end at the party’s convention in Philadelphia, where he intends to give superdelegates all his attention and make the case he is the better general election candidate.
To win, Sanders will need to dominate the final few primaries and then sway more than 300 superdelegates to his side.
So far, he’s only convinced 39.
The post Sanders’ path to nomination requires support of superdelegates appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
It was shortly before Passover in 1944 when 6-year-old Solomon Kofinas saw his father and sister for the last time.
The war had taken its toll on Athens, where Kofinas grew up, since the invasion by Germany’s Nazi forces three years earlier.
There was no money. Families bartered for bread. Kofinas’ father, who sold men’s suits, traded clothing to keep the family fed. “Give them a shirt, get a little flour,” Kofinas said. “Give them some socks, get maybe a couple of eggs.”
He recalled one day when his father, Haim, unexpectedly brought home a young chicken, the first the family had seen in years. He tied its leg with a string so it wouldn’t fly away. “We hoped it would give us an egg or something,” Kofinas said. But finally, he said, the family became so hungry they killed the chicken for food.
One Friday, his mother, Rachel, asked his father and 15-year-old sister, Perna, to go to the market in advance of Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest traditionally observed from sunset on Friday until Saturday evening.
By then, the Germans had issued an edict advising Jewish families to register at the Melidoni Street synagogue in central Athens. Nazi forces said families who registered would be given handouts, including flour and sugar rations.
Hoping for the possibility of food or supplies, Kofinas’ father added his name to the list. It was a decision that would cost the family four lives.
Kofinas shared his story with PBS NewsHour at Kehila Kedosha Janina in Lower Manhattan, a unique temple believed to be the last Greek Jewish synagogue still standing in the Western Hemisphere.
The synagogue was founded in 1927 by 50 “Romaniote” Jewish families who had settled in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. At its peak, the temple had more than 300 families.
Romaniote Jews are Greek-speaking Jews originally from Ioannina, a small, isolated city in northwestern Greece where Kofinas’ parents were born. The group has its own traditions, steeped in centuries-old Greek culture, including a unique style of chanting “piyutim,” the Jewish liturgical poems recited during services. Their Torahs are housed in distinctive shields called “tikim,” crafted to protect the scrolls on long travel through desert climates.
“As Jewish people, the one thing that kept us together throughout history was the Torah,” said Marvin Marcus, who serves as the temple’s president. “It’s this uniqueness in us as Jews that kept us going all these years.”
Though the number of families who attend the synagogue has dwindled over the years, Kofinas and others return to the temple on Saturdays and the Jewish High Holidays.
On May 1, congregants held a special service in advance of Yom HaShoah, the official day of remembrance of the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust.
The nearly two dozen in attendance lit candles and recited the mourner’s kaddish, a prayer to commemorate the dead. Many wept.
“The Holocaust was not six million,” said the synagogue’s museum director Marcia Haddad-Ikonomopoulos. “It was one, plus one, plus one.”
This year, the congregation at Kehila Kedosha Janina paid special tribute to Orthodox Christians in Greece who risked their lives to help Greek Jews survive the war.
“If you were caught hiding a Jew it was a death sentence,” Haddad-Ikonomopoulos said. “There are those of our own congregants who were saved as hidden children and others who are here today, because their parents were saved due to the moral courage of their fellow Greeks.”
Kofinas was one of those so-called “hidden children.” Seated on the temple’s original benches from the 1920s, he shakes his head, recalling a painful past. “I grew up without parents,” he said.
He remembered that Friday in 1944, when he watched his mother grow more and more panicked as the hours ticked by without word from his father or sister.
“My mother was waiting for my sister to come back with the groceries,” he said. “Then it’s 10 o’clock. 11. 12. One o’clock. Two o’clock.” His sister never returned.
Later, he said, a young man ran through the neighborhood warning families that the Nazis were rounding people up.
Young Kofinas didn’t know it then, but his father and sister are believed to be among hundreds of Jews inside the Greek capital’s central synagogue on March 23, when the Gestapo sealed its doors, trapping anywhere from 300 to more than 700 people, according to estimates by Yad Vashem, the World Center for Holocaust Research, Documentation, Education and Commemoration.
The Jews detained on Melidoni Street were brought to the temporary Haidari concentration camp outside of the city. Many were ultimately sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Extermination Camp in Poland. Between 60,000 and 70,000 Greek Jews were killed in the Holocaust, mostly at Auschwitz-Birkenau, according to Yad Vashem.
Back at his home, Kofinas’ mother felt she and her three sons could not wait for instructions that might never come. The family was registered. The Germans would know exactly where to find them.
Kofinas’ mother sought refuge for Sol, his 14-year-old brother Zino and her infant son Tsadikos in the shop of a nearby tailor, who allowed the family to sleep on a mattress on the shop’s floor. But the family had little food and no diapers for the baby. When she returned home to collect supplies, she was found by the Gestapo, Kofinas said.
As she was being detained, his mother cried out for Tsadikos, Kofinas said a neighbor later told him.
“She was screaming, ‘I want the baby, I want the baby,'” he said. A neighbor brought the baby to her, but her older sons fled. Kofinas never saw the rest of his family again.
“Gone,” he said. “They disappeared.”
Kofinas’ parents and siblings were among the hundreds of thousands of Greek Jews killed by the Nazis. The country lost at least 81 percent of its Jewish population during the Holocaust, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Fleeing Athens, the young brothers moved from house to house until, as Kofinas recalls, they came to a town outside the city, where they stumbled upon the place they would wait out the war. A yard with a small hut used to store wood.
“The lady says, ‘I can’t put you in my house but you can stay over there in the yard… You tell my neighbors you are my nephew and the Germans burned your village up in the north country,'” Kofinas said.
Each day, his brother returned to the city, where he sold cigarettes to the German troops. Kofinas stayed in town, playing with children in the neighborhood.
He said he was approached by mothers in the town who wanted to care for him, but he refused their help for fear of being discovered. “The ladies used to say, ‘Come in the house, I will give you a bath. Like my own kids,'” he said. He declined, knowing they would discover that he was circumcised and find out he was Jewish.
The brothers lived in that woodshed until the war ended. “Me and my brother survived,” Kofinas said.
Kofinas immigrated to the United States in 1955, joining others from Athens who had already established a tight-knit community in Manhattan.
The teenagers, “all newcomers,” went to the movies together or took trips to Coney Island, bound by a common Greek language and experience.
It was through this group that he met his wife, Koula. She was also a “hidden child” of the war, posing as a Christian girl in Larissa, a city in the country’s Thessaly region.
Today, the Lower East Side has changed. Kehila Kedosha Janina is just one of three remaining synagogues in an area that had more than 400 at its peak.
Attending services is important to Kofinas. When his children were young, he sent them to yeshiva schools, where students study traditional religious texts. “Because I never had the chance to go to school to learn Jewishness and everything, I want my kids to learn Jewish life,” he said.
Last month, Kofinas and his wife celebrated the birth of their first great-grandchild, Stella Hannah.
So much has changed in the decades since Stella’s great-great-grandparents were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau and lost to history, Kofinas said, but other things have stayed constant, like the temple community that welcomed him when he first arrived in New York.
Tucked between a poultry warehouse and a Chinese-owned glass shop, “the last Greek Synagogue” stands strong. And Kofinas and his family will be there for services on Saturday morning, to celebrate the Sabbath in homage to those Jews born in Ioannina long ago.
“We act like a family, and we are a family,” Haddad-Ikonomopoulos said.
Shawn Paik contributed reporting.
The post Surviving the Holocaust as a ‘hidden child’ in Athens appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
After a year that brought Lin-Manuel Miranda universal acclaim for his creation of the musical “Hamilton” the Broadway sensation and star of the production recently turned his attention to young students in New York City.
Miranda, with support from the The Rockefeller Foundation and the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History, have launched an educational partnership that will provide 20,000 New York City public school students the chance to view “Hamilton” at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.
In a recent interview with the PBS NewsHour, Miranda discussed the reasons behind the initiative that began on April 13.
Editor’s note: This transcript has been condensed and edited for clarity.
SASKIA DE MELKER, NEWSHOUR CORRESPONDENT: Why offer this opportunity to students?
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, HAMILTON ACTOR: It feeds us, quite frankly. One this is a show about the making of this country. And I see it as an entry point in terms of beginning the story - we don’t begin to tell the exhaustive history of how this country is formed. We tell it by telling the story of one guy, Alexander Hamilton, and as much as we can fit in two hours and 45 minutes.
It’s really exciting to see their pieces. They’re writing from the perspectives of other people, of other stories that have been overlooked — in our show and overlooked in history. And it’s the beginning of their curiosity in the subject.
SASKIA DE MELKER: What about Hamilton’s story told in this form do you think resonates with students?
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: For me, hip-hop music was the most natural form to tell Alexander Hamilton’s story because he was so prolific. He wrote so much. identified with him as a writer who wrote his way out of poverty in the Caribbean. Wrote his way into Washington’s good graces. Wrote his way into beats with other founding fathers and defended the creation of our country through the Federalist Papers.
So it’s a natural form. It’s just a natural musical form for the story we’re telling. You’re always trying to find the right form and the right means of telling a particular story. And I think that my other side mission is always to erase the line between musical theater and other genres of music. Musical theater’s always been an art form that incorporates other styles.
Musical storytelling has no limits. And so I like throwing every genre I have it. And I think that’s also part of why it’s connecting.
SASKIA DE MELKER: What do you hope that these students learn from going through the curriculum and then from seeing your show?
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: I think what I’m most excited for is the thing they’re gonna write. You know, I saw Rent when I was 17 years old. I was very lucky I got a ticket for my 17th birthday. I sat in the last row of the Nederlander Theatre, and I’d never seen a show that took place in the present.
That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it was for me. I thought musicals were this thing other people had access to. It had to be about Paris. It had to take place in London. It had to be, you know, some far-off time and some far-off place. These were artists in the village, living and dying. And I knew I wanted to be an artist. And so it gave me permission.
Not every student who comes to see the show is gonna have a life in the theater. But they are gonna have to reckon with how much Hamilton got done in his life. And that is going to spark a little bit of, “Well, what am I gonna do with my life?” So even if this is not the path, I think it’s something that forces them to reckon with what the path’s gonna be.
SASKIA DE MELKER: You worked as a teacher for a while. How did your experience as a teacher influence how you see Hamilton being used in the classroom?
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: It’s really profound what I learned when I was teaching, I taught seventh-grade English. And it’s actually the opposite of being a performer. When you’re being a performer, you’re commanding the stage and you’re holding attention. You are holding forth.
When you’re at your best with a teacher, you’re barely talking at all. You’re putting what’s on the table, what we’re gonna discuss. And the real moments of connection happen when they learn from each other. I’ve learned all of my best teaching experiences when I was sitting in the back and I was just keeping the ball in the air for the students to discuss.
And they were finding the connections in whatever we were reading or whatever we were learning about. And this curriculum works in a similar way. It’s not about, “Here are the facts of Hamilton, the musical. Put them in your brain.” It’s, “This is one story. What are more stories? What are more stories from this time, from this era? Maybe stories that haven’t been heard yet. How do you find your way into that? What do you relate to?”
It forces you to engage personally with something that could just be a bunch of facts you learn for an A.P. test. And in doing that, you create empathy. In doing that, you create an ability to engage with history in a way that’s more than memorization. It’s, “These were people who lived and died. And they were flawed.” And our country’s flawed because they were flawed. Because we’re all figuring it out. And there’s there’s lessons to be learned there.
SASKIA DE MELKER: You know, we spent some time with some of the students that have been preparing to come to the show. They’re super excited. They say they are just excited to be heard and have a voice. How much of this is about students who maybe don’t always get that chance to be put out there and be heard?
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: It’s everything. It’s to be able to create something. You know, I’m probably here standing talking to you because I wrote project for my eighth-grade English project for Dr. Herbert. Dr. Herbert saw what I wrote and said, “You should be writing plays instead of just goofing off in the back of my class.”
You know, that ability to be heard, whether it’s in a classroom or it’s on a stage, it’s so important. When you’re at this age, you are feeling more than you will ever feel again in your life. The hormones are literally coursing through you at a lethal rate. There is so much going on inside. That runoff – that creativity — It’s important to harness it and find outlets for it that that are constructive and lighten your load.
For a Broadway show to be one of those outlets is really inspiring.
The post Lin-Manuel Miranda says ‘musical storytelling has no limits’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton says “no one has reached out to me yet” from the FBI to discuss the investigation into her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
She says she’s “more than ready to talk to anybody, anytime,” and she tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” she hopes the matter “is close to being wrapped up.”
The FBI and Justice Department have been investigating whether sensitive information that flowed through Clinton’s email server was mishandled.
The Associated Press reported last week the FBI had interviewed Huma Abedin (HOO’-muh AB’-uh-deen), a close Clinton aide.
Also last week, a federal judge said he may order the Democratic presidential front-runner to testify under oath about whether she used the email server to evade public records disclosures.
The post Clinton says FBI has not yet ‘reached out’ to discuss email investigation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — With a growing number of prominent Republicans refusing to fall in line, Donald Trump is standing firm in his assertion that the Republican Party doesn’t have to be unified because he will gain Democratic votes to win in the fall.
“I think it would be better if it were unified, I think it would be – there would be something good about it,” Trump said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” airing Sunday. “But I don’t think it actually has to be unified in the traditional sense.”
George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush, the only former Republican presidents still living, said they would not back Trump’s candidacy. Two former Trump rivals for the nomination, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, are among those who have also said they don’t plan to back Trump.
Trump played down his problems unifying the GOP as he continued to assail Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, whom he’s dubbed “Crooked Hillary.”
Trump is once again raising former President Bill Clinton’s marital infidelities, a preview of how the billionaire businessman is likely to respond to general-election attacks from Hillary Clinton and her allies about his treatment of women.
“She’s married to a man who was the worst abuser of women in the history of politics,” Trump said of Clinton on Saturday as he addressed supporters at the Spokane Convention Center just days after becoming the presumptive Republican nominee.
Trump appeared to be responding to news that Priorities USA, the lead super PAC backing Clinton, has already reserved $91 million in television advertising that will start next month. Much of the negative advertising against Trump is expected to focus on belittling statements he’s made about women in the past.
But Trump declared Saturday, “Two can play that game.”
Deriding a culture of political correctness in which, he says, men are “petrified to speak to women anymore,” Trump also defended himself as a great supporter of women and sought to downplay past comments he’s made about women in venues like the Howard Stern radio show in the days before he was a politician.
He said some were made in the name of entertainment, while others, like his criticism of actress and talk show host Rosie O’Donnell, were warranted.
“Who the hell wouldn’t speak badly about Rosie O’Donnell? She’s terrible,” he said.
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A new educational collaboration aims to introduce thousands of New York City high school students to the musical hit “Hamilton.”
The production allows students to attend the popular Broadway show and combines the lessons of the Founding Father Alexander Hamilton into their classroom studies. Some students also perform short skits on stage prior to the viewings.
On April 13, the first group of 1,300 hundreds students attended “Hamilton” through the program at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Before the show several cast members met on stage to field questions from the students.
Here is some of that exchange.
Editor’s note: This transcript has been condensed and editor for clarity. Thomas Kail, the director of “Hamilton,” reads questions submitted by students in the program.
THOMAS KAIL, DIRECTOR: There’s a question from Odyssey who asks, “What were your initial thoughts when you first read or heard the show?”
ANTHONY RAMOS: When I first heard the music, I went bananas. I was like, ‘wow, this is not a musical.’ I heard the demos. I just went crazy and I was like, this is something that’s about to change the game.
THOMAS KAIL: Jasmine asks, “When you were in high school, did you know you would want to end up acting and/or writing? And how did you develop your skills?”
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: I started writing musicals at the same time you guys were writing these pieces for us today. I wrote my first musical in 11th grade. It was called “Nightmare in D major.” It was about a fetal pig in AP bio coming back for revenge.
The kids dissected the pig and I’ll never forget — the song was like ‘Pig, I am just a fetal pig / I am not very big / so why did you cut me up in bio class / is getting a good grade worth me getting slayed?’
I always knew I wanted to do this. I was really lucky that I went to a school where there was a lot of student-written stuff and student-directed stuff. So we were empowered to do these things. And it seems like that is happening in your schools, as well. So I’m really excited about that.
VOLTAIRE WADE-GREENE: I kind of stumbled upon this by accident. I grew up training to be a ballet dancer. And as a ballet dancer, you just kind of have like this hustle work ethic. So when I came to New York for the second time — this is my second time back to the city — one of my friends was like, ‘you’ve got to meet this choreographer.’ And the rest is all history.
THOMAS KAIL: Miriam asked this: “How has the ‘Hamilton’ experience changed your perspective on history and the foundation of both the American identity and your own cultural identity?”
CHRISTOPHER JACKSON: Playing George Washington or looking at this show, for me, requires that I be an active participant in the story, not just because I’m an actor on the stage, but that every day I wake up, it’s my responsibility to know what’s going on around me, it’s my responsibility to know my neighbors, it’s my responsibility to try to learn what’s happening in Washington and things that affect me, right, because we’re still having the same arguments today in our country.
If you just turn the news on for five minutes, you see it. We have the same kind of candidates. We have the same kind of arguments. We have the same kind of problems in America that we had 200 and some odd years ago.
People still get shot. We still have problems with authority. We still want to make sure that authority represents us in the right way. We still want to make sure that our vote counts. We want to make sure that our neighbor’s vote counts.
But I think more than anything, we want to have ideas and we want to have a government and we want to have a country that includes everyone. We want women to have equal pay. We want every minority to have an equal shot. We want everybody to sort of be able to be brought up to the same bar and to at least have a chance.
And that’s what I think the beautiful part about “Hamilton” is — it reminds us that you’ve got to be involved, you’ve got to pay attention and you’ve got to write skits, you’ve got to read about our forefathers so that you know that you can appreciate what they did right and try to improve upon what they didn’t get right.
America is at its best when it’s moving, when it’s growing and evolving. I think “Hamilton” is constantly evolving and changing and reshaping the way that I view myself as a citizen, as a neighbor and as a human being.
THOMAS KAIL: How would you suggest people handle obstacles and how did you early on in your career try to navigate those obstacles?
RORY O’MALLEY: It’s scary to walk on this big hit show stage. The thing is is that when you find something that you love, when you find your passion, you have to realize that that is so special and unique, that some people go through their entire lives wanting to know what that passion is. So if you have that, you cannot deny yourself pursuing it. It has to be when you wake up, your first thought, how can I have that?
I think that if you want something and you pursue it — you never know what the end result of that is going to be. If you want to be an actor, you may not end up on Broadway, but your pursuit of that, if it’s what you love, will make your life so wonderful and beautiful. It’s shows and art like this that make me feel like life is worth living. So why not surround yourself in that community?
So whether it’s writing, being an artist, or if it’s law, if it is something that you are passionate about, go for it, don’t ever give up.
CHRISTOPHER JACKSON: You have to practice being what you want to be. I know that sounds a little silly. If you practice feeling paranoid that people don’t like you, you’re going to see that in every situation that you come into. If you practice being afraid of standing in front of people and you practice that fear, your body is going to become accustomed to that fear. Your mind is going to become accustomed to that fear.
If you practice feeling confident, if you practice performing a service for someone, if you practice being kind, if you practice being intelligent, if you practice the idea of being strong-willed and confident, you’re going to see very, very quickly that that is the new pathway that your mind finds.
THOMAS KAIL: I have a question here from Kayla. “Is it difficult to manage your personal life while working on ‘Hamilton’ or being in a show in general?”
RENÉE ELISE GOLDSBERRY: I have a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old. I have little children. And, so it is a balance to figure out. Today I dropped my kids off at school and I’ll come home around midnight and my kids ask me every single day, ‘who’s putting me in bed today, mommy?’ And most of the time the answer is not me, OK?
Which is hard and that’s painful sometimes. And sometimes it’s good to be here. But, there’s a balance that comes with so many blessings. So that’s what I always remember is like being here is a huge blessing in my life, having my family is a huge blessing in my life.
One thing that I learned is that I don’t really pull any of this off by myself. When I’m here, I pull this off with the strength and the support of all the people on the stage with me. And the way I pull my family off is because I have an amazing partner and husband who helps me do it.
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: My son is as old as this show. He was born two weeks before we started rehearsal off-Broadway.
So he’s 17 months old. And to mark his first steps with our opening on Broadway, it has been such a remarkable thing. I probably get less sleep than anyone you’ve ever met in your life. But at the same time it’s kept me sane.
The success of “Hamilton” and the success of what’s going on has been so crazy that I go home and I change diapers and I go home and I watch the “Chuggingtons” and I talk about trains with my son. One can’t happen without the other. I can’t come here and greet you as joyfully if I don’t get a hug and a ‘Da-da’ before I leave. They feed each other.
You’ve got to have something to keep you sane so that you can enter this very surreal life knowing who you are.
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Read the full transcript below:
MEGAN THOMPSON: The East African nation of Somalia has been plagued by civil war for the past 25 years, and, for the past decade, the fledgling government has been fighting an insurgency by the radical Islamic al-Qaida affiliate Al-Shabaab.
Now a new report reveals Somalia may be using children as young as 10 years old to spy on Al-Shabaab operatives. Today’s Washington Post says using child informants is not only dangerous, but could be a violation of international law.
The Post’s deputy foreign editor, Mary Beth Sheridan, joins me now from Washington, D.C.
Thank you so much for joining us.
MARY BETH SHERIDAN, Deputy Foreign Editor, The Washington Post: Thanks.
MEGAN THOMPSON: So, first, just starting out, can you just explain, how does something like this happen? How are children forced to be informants for the government?
MARY BETH SHERIDAN: Well, it’s an amazing story, I have to say.
In many cases in recent years, the government has either managed to capture Al-Shabaab troops that included a lot of these kids who were in many cases forced by Al-Shabaab to fight, or children actually gave themselves up, tried to escape.
And what is supposed to happen is, the government is supposed to turn these kids over to U.N. authorities or other humanitarian groups to be rehabilitated.
But, instead, as our reporter Kevin Sieff found, they have detained a lot of them and forced them to go out on very dangerous missions and point out their former colleagues, and otherwise identify Al-Shabaab installations or members.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Your story describes how the kids were forced to walk publicly in the streets and identify these members of Al-Shabaab. I mean, what kind of danger does that put them in?
MARY BETH SHERIDAN: Well, a huge amount of danger, because the kids told you — Kevin interviewed eight of them and talked to a lot of relief workers and so on — that the kids’ faces were not covered.
And they’re going into neighborhoods, oftentimes their home neighborhoods. So, people know who they are. And these kids are now very frightened. And both they and other people told us they may have to be relocated. They really face a grave risk to — of being killed.
MEGAN THOMPSON: And why use children at all for this? I mean, are they more easily manipulated, or does this say something greater about the state of Somali intelligence?
MARY BETH SHERIDAN: We talked to Somali intelligence officials who said, well, these kids were part of Al-Shabaab. Some of them had access to the leaders. And they had been combatants. So, they justified their behavior.
But others — the kids told us, “Well, maybe they thought we were more malleable.”
But either way, it is a violation of international law, and, in some cases, it’s a war crime.
MEGAN THOMPSON: The U.S. government supports Somalia’s fight against Al-Shabaab. So, I mean, what kind of questions does this all raise about what the U.S. government knows about the situation? Or did it condone this?
MARY BETH SHERIDAN: We were told that the CIA provides substantial funding and training for the Somali intelligence agency.
The CIA wouldn’t respond to our questions about their involvement. But Somali officials told us, “The CIA knows everything we’re doing.”
Now, the U.S. government knows that Somalia has used child soldiers, which is a slightly different thing. And that’s been a huge issue. There’s a law against providing military aid to countries that use child soldiers, although there’s a waiver some time for national security reasons.
So, I think there is a real question of how much the CIA has observed or is aware of what is this real human rights abuse.
MEGAN THOMPSON: And what happens now for these kids? Is anything being done to end this practice? And, also, has the Somali government said anything about this?
MARY BETH SHERIDAN: So, for a number of years, these kids were kept in a center where there was little or no access to outsiders. Outsiders would try to see what was going on with these kids, and had a very tough time getting in.
Now, as of a couple of months ago, a lot of the kids were transferred to a center where they are getting rehabilitation. They’re no longer being used as informants. But what we were told is that we think the practice — or aid workers and others think the practice actually continues and there’s other children still being used as informants.
MEGAN THOMPSON: All right, troubling story.
Thank you so much, Mary Beth Sheridan from The Washington Post.
MARY BETH SHERIDAN: Thank you.
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Read the full transcript below:
MEGAN THOMPSON: Tomorrow, voters in the Philippines will choose a new president.
The front-runner is 71-year-old Rodrigo Duterte, whose brash style has earned him comparisons to Donald Trump. Duterte gained a tough-on-crime reputation as the longtime mayor of the Southern Philippine city of Davao. But he’s been accused by human rights groups of the extrajudicial killings of more than 1,000 people.
Duterte has also raised eyebrows with his use of profanity, a joke about a gang rape, and a comment about killing his own kids if they ever took drugs.
Reuters reporter Karen Lema is covering the election and joins me now via Skype from the Philippines’ capital of Manila.
So, Karen, can you first just help put this all in context for us? What have the main issues been in this election?
KAREN LEMA, Reuters: You know, you have to understand that, in Philippine politics, Filipino voters give more weight on personalities, rather than the platforms of candidates.
And that partly explains why Mayor Duterte has risen in the surveys, given his man-of-the-people-style approach and, as you can see, that Duterte has won the hearts of the voters because of his no-nonsense stand on crime and corruption.
That has resonated among voters because they are very frustrated and disappointed with the government’s inability to address or at least transform the so-called economic gains into real gains, such as expanding higher-paying jobs and addressing public service and improving mass transport and traffic problems.
And political analysts also say that his rise is a reflection of people’s discontent and the high level of frustration with the political elite, which they think is also weak, ineffective and corrupt.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Three hundred thousand people attended one of Duterte’s rallies yesterday in Manila.
Can you just talk about who is supporting him? Where does he draw his support from?
KAREN LEMA: Yes, they’re all across social demographics.
His appeal cuts — his appeal, it across class A, B, C, D and E. And people are contributing out from their own pockets, volunteering to campaign for the — for the mayor. So, his appeal, it’s just across the board.
MEGAN THOMPSON: The U.S. has announced an expanded military presence in the Philippines. It recently announced joint patrols in the South China Sea, where the Philippines has had some territorial disputes with China,
Can you talk a little bit about how this — the outcome of this election might affect the Philippines’ relationship with the United States? In.
KAREN LEMA: In terms of foreign policy, we have yet to hear these candidates really lay down how their foreign policy would pan out.
When it comes to U.S., I don’t think these candidates would really deviate from the current foreign policy of the current administration, although you did hear some rhetoric from the — from the mayor about the possibility of cutting ties with the United States after the U.S. ambassador criticized him over his rape remarks.
But, you know, we don’t know if we’re going to treat it as metaphor or we’re going to take it literally. But that has yet to be seen. But, yes, we have really yet to hear from them what their foreign policy would be.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Karen Lema from Reuters, thank you so much for joining us.
KAREN LEMA: Thank you so much.
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The biggest show on Broadway is now a lesson in life and art for thousands of New York City students.
The musical “Hamilton” has received rave reviews and a trove of theatrical accolades for its portrayal of political powerhouse and Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, whose musical depiction at the Richard Rodgers Theatre has captured the attention of the world, touching on the achievements of the bygone figure through performances of rap, song and spoken word.
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Now, a new effort is underway to extend the show’s lessons to 20,000 high school students in the Big Apple and provide them with a chance to see “Hamilton.”
The program was launched by the producers of the show through an educational partnership meant to link the success of the Broadway smash hit with classroom studies and give students from low-income neighborhoods the opportunity to perform on stage.
In interviews with PBS NewsHour, many students participating in the program said the lessons have given them a better understanding of Alexander Hamilton’s accomplishments and place in history.
“I actually enjoy it now, I enjoy learning about our Founding Fathers,” said Malcolm Grant, 16, a student at the Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy. “I know a lot more that I definitely wouldn’t have know without the Hamilton musical.”
In the hours leading up to the April 13 matinee performance of “Hamilton,” more than two dozen 11th-grade students from 13 New York schools, who have been learning about Alexander Hamilton in their respective classes, brought their own artistic creations to the theater’s stage.
“You have no idea how long we’ve been waiting to see you,” said Lin-Manuel Miranda, the star of the show who created the blockbuster musical and kicked off the event.
Groups of students took to the Richard Rodger’s stage and were met by several members of Hamilton’s cast. The young crowd of 1,300 cheered loudly. For many, it was their first time at a Broadway production.
“We’re starting a great experiment here and it’s for you,” Miranda said.
The two-minute performances mimicked the style of the Broadway sensation, using historical snippets as students shifted from rap to poetry to song.
After the students performed, they were able to stay and see the cast’s full performance of “Hamilton.” Those in attendance paid $10 for tickets — a stark contrast to the general public, where fans are spending hundreds of dollars each for tickets that are sold out through next year.
The educational collaboration was financed by more than $1 million in grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and with backing of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
On a recent Wednesday in Brooklyn, nearly two dozen students from The Facing History School’s Advanced Placement history class laid the groundwork for their upcoming renditions for the ‘Hamilton’ cast.
Teacher Paul Zuppello skirted from table to table, helping the groups form the basis for their presentations while filling in historical blanks.
Students considered topics like civil participation, abolition and slavery and the British invasion.
“What do you have to do to keep historical integrity?” Zuppello asked the class as they unfurled their plans in frenzied discussions. “It’s okay to create a new situation. It’s not okay to change who that character is.”
Miranda, who wrote the musical based on an Alexander Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow, said it was in part his own experiences attending New York City public schools that drew him to the collaboration.
“It forces you to engage personally with something that could just be a bunch of facts you learn for an [Advanced Placement] test,” he said in a recent statement. “In doing that, you create empathy. In doing that, you create an ability to engage with history in a way that’s more than memorization.”
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PARIS — The United States tried Monday to move past localized, short-term cease-fires in Syria by announcing that an enduring, nationwide truce would be restored. Yet that new approach was immediately called into doubt as Syria’s military extended only a local cease-fire, in the hard-hit area of Aleppo, by 48 hours.
The chaos surrounding the latest bout of diplomacy, with the U.S. and Syria offering what seemed like conflicting versions of events, underscored the profound difficulty in getting the warring parties to even agree on what they’ve agreed on, much less lay down arms for good. The announcements came as world leaders meeting in Paris struggled to get faltering Syria peace talks back on track.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, announcing a new U.S.-Russia agreement, said it would “reinstate a nationwide cessation of hostilities,” diplomatic-speak for the collapsed cease-fire the U.S. and Russia brokered in February. He said Russia had also committed to limiting the Syrian government’s ability to fly over civilian areas where President Bashar Assad’s military has been accused of violating the cease-fire.
But Kerry cautioned that the agreement itself meant little if it was not backed up by the parties on the ground.
“These are words on a piece of paper. They are not actions,” Kerry said after a meeting that included the head of the High Negotiations Committee, an umbrella group of Assad’s Western-backed opponents. “It is going to be up to the commanders in the field and the interested parties — which includes us.”
In Damascus, Syria’s military said a five-day cease-fire in Aleppo and its rural areas, set to expire for midnight, would instead be extended two more days, raising the prospect that additional, piecemeal cease-fires would continue to be announced. Brutal violence in Aleppo has killed nearly 300 civilians in recent days, and airstrikes hit several areas there Monday even as Kerry was discussing the cease-fire in Paris.
The U.S. and Russia have been working to put the broader truce back together through a series of short-term cease-fires in cities where heavy violence has broken out, including Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. The hope is that quelling the fighting, along with a renewed show of global support, will clear the way for the parties to resume the indirect, U.N.-led talks.
Yet enforcing any cease-fire has been made nearly impossible by an exception built into the original cease-fire: Attacks are still allowed against the Islamic State and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front. Those groups are common enemies of the U.S., many of the opposition groups and Assad, but they are fighting in the same areas, making it difficult to distinguish which strikes violate the cease-fire and which ones don’t. The confusion has fueled accusations that Syrian and Russian forces are using the Nusra Front as an excuse to ignore the cease-fire and bomb opposition-held areas.
In their statement, the U.S. and Russia committed to developing a “shared understanding” of where the Islamic State and the Nusra Front hold territory. Clarifying which areas are fair game and which are off limits is seen as a key step toward eventually reviving the peace talks.
Ahmed Saoud, a top commander of a U.S.-backed rebel faction from the Free Syrian Army, said his group supports restoring the nationwide cease-fire but cast doubt that Assad would respect it. He said his group and other FSA units were bombed Monday by Assad’s warplanes in the northern Idlib province, near Aleppo, where the Nusra Front is also strong.
“We are hoping for the best,” Saoud said by telephone. “But we don’t trust the regime.”
The U.S. attempt to revive a nationwide truce came as nations worked to get Syria’s government and opposition groups back to the table next week in Vienna, where negotiations to secure a political transition sputtered last month. The High Negotiations Committee essentially left the talks after accusing Assad’s forces of violating the truce and blocking aid to hard-hit areas.
The next round of talks “should take place next week,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said as he emerged from a meeting with Kerry, the head of the opposition coalition and leaders from other nations backing the opposition. Diplomats have floated May 17 as a possible start date.
Ayrault added that Iran, an Assad ally, should be involved. In a nod to past commitments made and broken, he said he hoped the new U.S.-Russia agreement was “not just yet another declaration.”
“It must be respected,” Ayrault said.
There are still no indications the parties are any closer to agreement about whether Assad can be part of the future government, long the chief sticking point in Syria’s civil war.
While in Paris, Kerry also met with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, a U.S. ally eager to help Syria’s opposition by bolstering their military capability. The State Department said Kerry and al-Jubeir “stressed the importance of all sides fully respecting the cessation of hostilities” and also consulted on the U.S.-led fight against IS.
Associated Press writers Angela Charlton in Paris and Sarah El Deeb in Beirut contributed to this report.
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Kim Stafford wants nothing to do with an ivory tower. He believes a successful poet must be fully immersed in the everyday world.
“It drives me crazy when I go to poetry readings and a writer holds up a poem to be viewed as an item of wonder,” Stafford said from his home in Portland, Oregon. “A beautiful, shiny object. I think poems should be transactional– emotionally transactional– one soul speaking to another.”
He tells his students at Lewis and Clark College they must write “citizen poems, not artifacts of art.”
In addition to poetry, Stafford is photographer, filmmaker and singer-songwriter — all variations of storytelling. Years ago, he said, he was struck by a comment from his teenage son Guthrie about why this urge to communicate is so important. “We didn’t become humans when we invented tools,” his son said. “We became human when we looked at the person sitting across the fire and began to tell stories.”
Stafford describes poetry like a time machine, “going back to that primal connection with our tribe.”
Stafford is the son of esteemed poet William Stafford, who served as Poet Laureate of the United States in 1970 and wrote more than 60 books over the course of his career. Like his father, the first thing Kim Stafford does every morning is write.
“It’s a way to settle your accounts,” he said. “If you’re angry, if you regret something, put it down on a page. Sometimes it’s a poem. Sometimes it’s a consideration. But it’s a way to start your day on your own terms before you’re assaulted by email, errands or your to-do list.”
The second part of Stafford’s morning ritual is to catch up on the news. An ardent pacifist, Stafford says he is increasingly disturbed by what he reads. Poetry, he says, helps him make sense of a world that increasingly seems out of balance.
“In so many ways, I feel helpless. So many things have been destroyed. So poetry helps me talk back to that darkness.”
Stafford said he wrote “Love Money” after reading a story about the multi-billion dollar practice of immigrants sending money back to families. He found the story touching and strangely consoling since it’s typically the problems of immigration that make headlines.
“So much of the news is about strife and greed and competition. And this was news that was good news about humans.”
Listen to Stafford read his poem here, or read the text below.
I heard it on the news: most charity
is sent by poor people to poorer people—
five, six, eight hundred billion across borders
each year: a father sweeping in London
for his family in Bangalore, a mother changing
sheets in Dubai for her children in Kathmandu,
a brother weeding lettuce in the San Joaquin
to fund the younger brother’s dream in Michoacán.
For without the younger brother’s dream
this would be too hard a life. Without
the children there, the bent back here would
hurt with no remedy. Without the broom
at Trafalgar Square restoring clean stone,
there would be no way to love at this
distance, no long-flying bird to send
a song for the little ones growing taller
with only a smudged photo
of their patron ghost with that
Kim Stafford directs the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College, and is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, including “Having Everything Right” and “100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: How My Brother Disappeared.” His poetry chapbook “How to Sleep Cold” is forthcoming in fall 2016 from Limberlost Press. He has taught writing in in Scotland, Italy, and Bhutan.
Video by PBS NewsHour
The U.S. government filed a lawsuit Monday over a controversial North Carolina law that prevented local governments from passing protections for gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people. The law, which was passed in March, also required transgender people to use bathrooms that matched their assigned gender at birth.
In a news conference Monday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the law created “state-sponsored discrimination.” DOJ’s lawsuit seeks to prevent the law from being enforced.
The decision comes after hours after North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory sued the Justice Department in the state’s own lawsuit over the law, asking the U.S. government to “clarify” the country’s anti-discrimination laws. Last week, the Justice Department sent a letter to McCrory, saying North Carolina’s law violated civil rights protections, including Title IX, that banned workplace discrimination based on sex.
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WASHINGTON — The bison has become the official national mammal of the United States under legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama on Monday.
Lawmakers spearheading the effort say the once nearly extinct icon deserves the elevated stature because of its economic and cultural significance in the nation’s history.
Millions of bison once roamed the Great Plains. About 500,000 now live in the U.S. but most of those have been cross-bred with cattle, and are semi-domesticated. About 30,000 wild bison roam the country, with the largest population in Yellowstone National Park.
Supporters of the legislation say they believe the recognition will elevate the stature of the bison to that of the bald eagle, long the national emblem, and bring greater attention to ongoing recovery efforts of the species.
“I hope that in my lifetime, thanks to a broad coalition of ranchers, wildlife advocates and tribal nations, we will see bison return to the prominent place they once occupied in our nation’s shortgrass prairies,” said Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, who worked with Republican Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota to pass the Senate version of the legislation.
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Fifteen years of new programs, testing, standards, and accountability have not ended racial achievement gaps in the United States.
The Stanford Education Data Archive, a massive new database that allows researchers to compare school districts across state lines has led to the unwelcome finding that racial achievement gaps yawn in nearly every district in the country— and the districts with the most resources in place to serve all students frequently have the worst inequities.
“I think we like to think, ‘Here we have this problem, but it’s fixable. We know we could figure it out.’ It’s not clear we’ve figured it out,” said Sean Reardon, a professor of poverty and inequality in education at Stanford University. “There’s some deep problems that we as a society haven’t faced up to yet.”
Reardon and his Stanford colleagues Demetra Kalogrides and Kenneth Shores released the first in an ongoing series of studies based on the new data. The studies shine a light on how racial disparities in education differ throughout the country—and how school segregation widens the gaps among students.`
The Stanford researchers and Harvard University education professor Andrew Ho linked state tests’ scale scores to the scales for National Assessment of Educational Progress in the same grades and subjects, and used it to compare average achievement gap trends for 3rd-8th grade students in more than 11,000 districts across the country from 2009 to 2013.
Competition Could Drive Segregation in Well-Off Districts
That five-year window enabled researchers to focus the study on districts completing a decade of state and federal accountability initiatives designed to close academic gaps between white students and their black and Hispanic peers. But of the 2,500 school districts with a large enough sample of black students to measure their achievement gaps, Reardon and his colleagues found only one with no black-white gap: Detroit.
“Detroit is not the poster child for reducing the achievement gap,” Reardon said. “The achievement gap is zero in Detroit largely because everyone’s doing really poorly, not because black students are doing particularly well.”
Moreover, the researchers found some of the biggest black-white achievement gaps in the country—where black students lag their white peers by more than 1.5 full standard deviations, or four to five grade levels on the NAEP scale—in relatively prosperous university towns, like Berkeley, Calif. (home of the University of California, Berkeley); Chapel Hill, N.C. (home of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill); and Evanston, Ill. (home of Northwestern University).
“Richer places have bigger achievement gaps than poorer places, all else being equal–which is quite striking and disturbing, since you’d hope that those places that have the most resources would be most effective at reducing the gaps, but in fact they seem to have the largest gaps,” Reardon said.
While the researchers have not yet dug into the personal factors that play into achievement gaps, they do have a theory about why these centers of higher education haven’t encouraged more equitable K-12 achievement: “In the most advantaged places, you have this increased competition and focus on school success as important for kids—a hyper-achievement orientation in those places,” he said. “And in places where competition is high, resources matter even more than they do in places where you don’t have that sort of achievement anxiety.”
The segregation ‘feedback cycle’
That parental drive to find the best education for their kids could ramp up economic segregation in neighborhoods, too.
A new and separate study by Ann Owens, an assistant sociology professor at the University of Southern California, found that neighborhoods in the 100 largest cities became steadily more isolated by income between 1990 and 2010—but the segregation was driven by families with school-age children.
“Whenever we talk about neighborhood and school segregation, they really go hand-in-hand,” Owens said. “There’s really a feedback loop, and it’s often framed as, we can never have integrated schools while we have segregated neighborhoods, but the flip side is true, as well. As long as schools are unequal and linked to neighborhoods, that’s going to play a big role in neighborhood segregation.”
Reardon agreed. In a second study using the Stanford data set, he looked at the effects of 16 different facets of racial segregation: school and residential isolation, segregation within and between districts, racial or socioeconomic isolation, and differences in how likely students are to be exposed to students of particular races or socioeconomic groups.
While all types of segregation were associated with wider achievement gaps for black and Hispanic students compared to their white peers, Reardon found the strongest predictor was the difference in likelihood of attending a high poverty school for white, black, and Hispanic students. This might explain why Detroit seemed to have the lowest achievement gaps: White, black, and Hispanic students were all equally likely to attend high-poverty schools or be in poverty themselves there.
“Even after you control for kids’ family backgrounds, it’s quite clear in the data,” he said, adding that the finding “suggests it’s something about school quality—not only about racial segregation, but about the fact that racial segregation in America almost inevitably leads to these kind of disparities in [students’] exposure to poverty and differences in the kinds of resources that schools have.”
Looking for successful outliers
Going forward, the researchers are trying to identify common factors in districts that have narrowing achievement gaps for black and Hispanic students. They have also started to analyze how racial achievement gaps vary for boys and girls in different cities and to dig in more deeply into which districts have larger achievement gaps for students in poverty.
“Really, there are very, very few school districts that serve a large proportion of poor students and that have achievement that’s even at the national average,” Reardon said. “That suggests we may not be able to just ‘school reform’ our way out of that kind of inequality.”
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Hillary Clinton is focusing on so-called “work-life balance” issues as she campaigns in northern Virginia today.
She’s targeting white women — a demographic group that President Barack Obama lost — in her early effort to defeat GOP front-runner Donald Trump. Her campaign believes women, particularly those in battleground states, will be turned off by his history of sexist statements.
Clinton is highlighting her support for increased family leave and equal pay at an event with parents in a coffee shop in suburban Loudoun County, Va. — a battleground county outside Washington where the votes of affluent women are critical.
“We need to really start looking at these programs from the lens of what life is like today and not what it was like 50 years ago,” she says.
Clinton says the problems facing families today are “just harder” than the ones she dealt with as a young lawyer in Arkansas trying to raise her daughter, Chelsea.
“Costs are greater, everything from commuting time to feeling like if you take that vacation day, you are going to be viewed as slacking off,” she says.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton met with working families at a coffee shop in Stone Ridge, Virginia, on Monday. Video by PBS NewsHour
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JUDY WOODRUFF: You buy a new smartphone or computer, and you take your old one to a local recycler. It’s the green thing to do, right?
Well, it turns out a lot of those devices may not be getting recycled at all.
From Seattle member station KCTS and public media’s environmental partnership EarthFix, Ken Christensen and Katie Campbell, who tells the tory, follow the e-waste trail.
JIM PUCKETT, Founder, Basel Action Network: So, everybody, this is scenario one. We’re buying equipment. We look around and see what they have and we start haggling over the price. So any questions?
WOMAN: No, sir.
JIM PUCKETT: I think it’s right up here about a quarter of a mile.
KATIE CAMPBELL: Jim Puckett is leading a team that’s going undercover to find out what actually happens to electronics that are sent to U.S. recyclers.
JIM PUCKETT: Most of the public still thinks that the recyclers are recycling, and that they are going to recycle right there in America.
It shows us 10 meters out.
KATIE CAMPBELL: Puckett is the founder of the Basel Action Network, a Seattle-based watchdog group that investigates the afterlife of electronics.
JIM PUCKETT: We are basically trying to stop the rich countries from dumping their hazardous waste onto poor countries.
KATIE CAMPBELL: In this case, China.
WOMAN: They’re running.
JIM PUCKETT: Running away?
KATIE CAMPBELL: To get inside, a local driver and translator posed as e-waste buyers.
WOMAN (through interpreter): Hello? We’re here to buy goods. We just want to see the electronics.
KATIE CAMPBELL: With people buying new computers and other electronics more frequently than ever, electronic waste is now the fastest-growing waste stream in the world. On top of that, it contains toxic materials that can poison people and the environment.
This investigation began months ago, when Puckett’s team put GPS tracking devices inside 200 old computers, printers and TVs. Then they dropped them off at locations across the country at recycling facilities, donation centers and electronics take-back programs, including some of the industry’s most reputable companies.
JIM PUCKETT: We sat back and said, where are they going to go? And the little devices went out and spoke to us, saying, this is where I am.
KATIE CAMPBELL: Puckett’s group partnered with Carlo Ratti of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
CARLO RATTI, Senseable City Lab: Tracking is really the first step in order to design a better system. One of the surprising things we discovered is how far waste travels. You see this kind of global e-waste flows that actually almost cover the whole planet.
KATIE CAMPBELL: Each device traveled an average of about 2,500 miles, and around a third of the tracked computers were exported. Of those, most ended up here. Hong Kong is home to one of the world’s busiest ports. Ships deliver more cargo than is possible to inspect.
As a result, Hong Kong has a reputation for being a transit point for illegal trade and smuggling of all kinds. Most of the exported tracked devices led Puckett to a little known part of Hong Kong called the New Territories.
JIM PUCKETT: It’s really a frontier. It’s really cowboy land out there.
KATIE CAMPBELL: Puckett followed one tracked printer here to a place that calls itself a farm.
JIM PUCKETT: Farmland? Yes, that’s a great farm in there.
You would have no idea that there was a huge scrap yard there until you look over the fence.
KATIE CAMPBELL: Inside, they found printers being taken apart by immigrant workers.
JIM PUCKETT: I am looking for asset tags to tell me where the material came from. I look for the environmental harm issues. I look for the workstations to see how these workers might be exposed.
KATIE CAMPBELL: Many of the workers handle hazardous material without protective gear. One concern? Printer toner, a probable carcinogen.
JIM PUCKETT: There is no protections of this labor force. There’s no occupational laws that are going to protect them.
KATIE CAMPBELL: Jackson Lau is the head of the Hong Kong Recycling Association. He runs a licensed recycling facility in the New Territories. And he says the junkyards in the area that import e-waste are unlicensed and unregulated.
JACKSON LAU, Hong Kong Recycling Association (through interpreter): These old electronics are usually being sorted and dismantled, because the leftover components are worthless. They are being dumped indiscriminately.
JIM PUCKETT: Look at the tubes, many, many tubes thrown on the ground here.
KATIE CAMPBELL: The white fluorescent tubes light up LCD screens. Each of them contains mercury, and even a tiny amount can be a neurotoxin.
JIM PUCKETT: Day in and day out, these workers are completely oblivious to this hazard, are smashing these. The tubes are breaking right in front of their faces, and mercury is very toxic.
WOMAN (through interpreter): Do you wear a mask?
MAN (through interpreter): No.
WOMAN: I ask him that if he knows that the white tubes are dangerous. He has no idea.
KATIE CAMPBELL: The United States is the only developed nation that hasn’t ratified an international treaty to stop First World countries from dumping e-waste on developing nations. Other developed nations set e-waste collection mandates and require electronics manufacturers to pay for domestic e-waste processing.
Further, the United States has no federal laws requiring electronics to be recycled. Half of states allow electronics to be dumped in landfills.
John Shegerian is the CEO of Electronics Recycling International, the largest e-waste recycling company in the United States.
JOHN SHEGERIAN, CEO, Electronics Recycling International: It takes hundreds of employees in each facility to do the real work of electronic recycling.
KATIE CAMPBELL: He says that some recyclers are exporting to cut costs, because, in the last two years, their biggest source of revenue has plummeted.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: At the height of the market, when we would go to sell steel, plastic, aluminum, gold, silver, palladium, copper, we were getting about 14 to 15 cents a pound more than we are today.
NARRATOR: Dell Reconnect, an exciting program that makes getting rid of old technology easy.
KATIE CAMPBELL: Dell was the first major computer manufacturer to ban the export of nonworking electronics to developing countries. They partnered with Goodwill, allowing people to drop off old computers of any brand for free to be refurbished or recycled. The electronics are either dismantled on site or sent to Dell’s recycling partners.
Dell says that more than 400 million pounds of e-waste have been diverted from U.S. landfills because of their program. But the Basel Action Network and MIT’s investigation concluded that the tracking devices placed in old computers and dropped off at participating Goodwill locations ended up in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, and Thailand.
Beth Johnson manages Dell’s program.
BETH JOHNSON, Dell Reconnect: If there’s something that did not follow the system, we would certainly want to know about it and we would certainly take corrective action.
KATIE CAMPBELL: In a written statement, Goodwill Industries said it is committed to responsible recycling, and encouraged its member organizations, which are autonomous, to review their contracts with Dell.
Back in Hong Kong, Puckett finds more clues to the scale of the problem.
JIM PUCKETT: A laptop with an LCD screen, ending up here in Hong Kong in New Territories from the Los Angeles school system. Unbelievable.
KATIE CAMPBELL: Puckett finds electronics from U.S. police departments, jails, hospitals, and libraries.
JIM PUCKETT: The government is always trying to save taxpayers’ money. So they are obliged in some cases to always do the cheapest thing.
KATIE CAMPBELL: For now, market forces are driving e-waste exports.
JIM PUCKETT: Just throwing it on the bank here.
KATIE CAMPBELL: Without a federal law banning the export of e-waste, there’s little incentive for the industry to change.
For KCTS and the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Katie Campbell.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The past couple of years have brought new revelations about sexual abuse at private schools. At least eight private schools in New England have launched or disclosed investigations this year.
Now a Boston Globe investigation has opened a wider window on the scope of the problem. The report done by the Spotlight unit that exposed the sexual abuse scandal in the church found at least 67 New England schools have faced accusations since 1991. The Globe also found more than 200 former students say they have been assaulted or harassed, and years of alleged cover-ups in some cases.
St. George’s School in Rhode Island is one school under investigation.
Anne Scott is a survivor who was allegedly raped in 1977 at the school by a former athletic trainer when she was 15. Her family later brought a lawsuit, but the Globe said the school fought back with its own suit and pressured her to sign a gag order.
Here’s part of what she told The Globe.
ANNE SCOTT, Abuse Survivor: They really turned hostile and were trying to come after that, deposing all our neighbors, deposing all my roommates, all community members.
So, I got shocked. I wasn’t as strong then, I think, to put it in context, as I am now. And it became a lot of pressure. I just said, no amount of money is worth tearing my family apart.
When you are assaulted as a child and a victim of rape, you lose your voice. You lose your soul. You are sort of destroyed as a person, your confidence, your self-image. And the gag order just seals all that in.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The trainer died in 1996.
Lawyers for victims now say as many as 50 alumni from the school were abused, mostly by staff.
Todd Wallack is a member of the Spotlight team, joins me now.
So, give us an idea of how widespread this is. This isn’t just a couple of private schools in New England.
TODD WALLACK, The Boston Globe: No, it’s much wider than a lot of us ever imagined.
We originally started reporting on this after Anne Scott, the survivor you featured, broke her silence, broke the gag order and spoke out about the abuse that she suffered at St. George’s in December. And that prompted other victims to come forward, many after decades and decades where they had kept this secret.
And we started building a list. And it kept getting longer and longer. Some were reported before individually. Others hadn’t. We looked through lawsuits. We talked to lawyers. Since our story on Sunday, we have been getting flooded with tips about additional schools, showing that we have not even captured the full scope of all the abuse that’s gone on.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Given by the nature of their name, private schools, they are private institutions, do they have to report alleged — or abuse by teachers to the state, like public schools do?
TODD WALLACK: Generally, in public schools, teachers are required to be licensed, and they’re overseen by licensing agencies that can publicly discipline them and let other people be aware of potential problems.
That isn’t true with private schools, which generally don’t have to license their educators. They’re also not subject to public records law. They’re not overseen by public school boards with open meetings laws.
So a lot of this information is kept secret. They are able to sign confidentiality agreements. And for that reason, it allows a lot of the abuse to remain secret. It potentially allows abusers to go to other schools.
HARI SREENIVASAN: There were actually abusers that were moving from school to school, but the parents in these new schools, or the faculty, nobody actually knew that.
TODD WALLACK: Yes, exactly.
There was a person that worked at St. George’s, for instance, George (sic) Thompson, who had been accused by, I believe, a dozen students of inappropriate touching, went to another school, Taft, a few years ago with great recommendations. And Taft had no idea that he had been previously subject to those allegations.
St. George’s hadn’t told the state, and said at the time they didn’t realize. It was — fell under the definition of sexual abuse and needed to be reported. And we found 11 people who had been accused went on to other schools.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what do the schools say? What is their rationale or justification for taking so long to go public with this information?
TODD WALLACK: Well, in some cases, schools will say a lot of these abuses happened in the ’60s or ’70s or ’80s, and they now know more about how to handle it than they once did.
Some will say that sexual abuse allegations are very tricky. They want to respect the privacy of the victims. They want to also be cognizant that they can’t always prove allegations. In a lot of cases, you have an alumnus who makes some accusation, and the staffer is the only other person who was in the room, and the staffer denies it.
So they say they’re trying to be careful about not ruining somebody’s career. Some of those students who have been abused say they are too worried about their reputation and wish they had done more to at least tell the community about the allegations and find out whether there are other students Wanting to come forward.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Todd Wallack of The Boston Globe, thanks so much.
TODD WALLACK: Thank you. Appreciate it.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The nation of Bosnia-Herzegovina remains bitterly divided more than 20 years after a vicious civil war. Tens of thousands died, and millions were made refugees.
Bosnian Serbs were largely responsible for driving Muslim families from their homes during the early stages of the war. Now many hope the reopening of a United Nations Heritage Site, a mosque, in the Serbian town of Banja Luka is a big step on the road to reconciliation.
Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant has the story.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The Muslim call to prayer rang out from the 16th Century Ferhadija Mosque 23 years to the day that Serb militiamen blew it to pieces; 10,000 Muslims traveled to Banja Luka to witness this act of renaissance, a generation after the Serbs had attempted to systematically erase not only the population, but also their culture and heritage.
Ibrahim Ahmedbasic lost his legs in one of the worst single attacks of the war. He was 21 when a Serb mortar exploded in the town of Tuzla, killing 71 and injuring 250.
IBRAHIM AHMEDBASIC, Bosnian Muslim (through interpreter): When the mosques began to be reconstructed, people started to coexist again. So you can see, people are capable of living normally.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The Bosnian War was the most vicious of those that accompanied the break up of former Yugoslavia, largely because of the population’s complicated ethnic and religious mix. The conflict began in a wave of nationalism in 1992, when the Christian Orthodox Bosnian Serbs attempted a land grab and attacked areas occupied by predominantly Catholic Bosnian Croats and Muslims.
In 1993, the country fragmented still further, when the Croats launched an offensive against the Muslims. Peace finally arrived in 1995 with a deal signed in Dayton, Ohio. The accord preserved Bosnia as a single state, but as two separate entities, a Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic; 21 years later, the divisions are as entrenched as ever.
Banja Luka is the capital of the Serb Republic, which makes the restoration of the mosque so symbolic. It took 15 years to reconstruct. Craftsmen employed 16th century techniques and recovered 75 percent of the original masonry that had been discarded in city dumps and in nearby lakes.
OSMAN KOZLIC, Imam, Ferhadija Mosque: This is one of the most beautiful mosques in Balkan, not just in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Osman Kozlic is the imam of this World Heritage Site.
What is your message specifically to the Serbs in terms of reconciliation and trying to move on?
OSMAN KOZLIC: Our mosques, our cathedrals, our temples belong to all of them, belong to us. This is holy place, not only for me, as a Muslim, but it’s holy place for Catholics, for Orthodox Serbs. And if we are — think in that way, we have a good future.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The mosque has special meaning for 21-year-old Emir Galijasevic, even though he was born just a year before the war ended. His family came from Banja Luka and were among those driven out during the ethnic cleansing.
EMIR GALIJASEVIC, Son of Muslim Wartime Refugees: All the criminals who had done bad things in the war had to be going from the court. But I still think people can still live together. We can still be friends and work together and be as a mirror to other place in Europe, that multiculturalism can live, and it’s, I think, the best example of this is this mosque in this town.
MALCOLM BRABANT: But segregation has been exacerbated by economic stagnation. On both sides of the tangible partition, unemployment is sky-high, especially among the young. When part of Yugoslavia, this region was reasonably productive. Now it’s anything but.
Potential investors are frightened away by corruption and political uncertainty.
Pero Slavnic, a former major in the Bosnian Serb army, is campaigning for better benefits and pensions for military veterans. Financial hardship contributed to his divorce. Three of his sons are unemployed. And he is weary of politicians manipulating public opinion.
PERO SLAVNIC, Bosnian Serb Veterans’ Representative (through interpreter): I think we are now further away from being together without borders than just after the war. When foundations are flawed, you become skeptical about everything, including the hand that reaches for you from the other side. We are constantly asking, is this an honest hand? We have a lot of problems in the area of trust.
MALCOLM BRABANT: This would have been the perfect occasion for the Bosnian Serb leader, Milorad Dodik, to address the issue of reconciliation. Of all the dignitaries present, his words would have carried most significant, because, after all, for many Muslims, Banja Luka represents the lion’s den.
He was due to make a keynote speech, but he clearly didn’t like the tone of this event and elected not to speak. So, to find out what he thought, we headed past the glittering Serb Orthodox church to the presidential palace of the Serb Republic.
MILORAD DODIK, President, Republika Srpska (through interpreter): I am sorry that Ferhadija was destroyed. But since then, we were the ones to support its reconstruction. Evil times happen. But people can’t choose those times. We were born in that period.
But what we can do is to ensure that we don’t behave in an inhumane way. Regardless of our religion, nationality and ideology, we shouldn’t harm each other.
MALCOLM BRABANT: But former Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko is skeptical. He’s responsible for the civilian implementation of the Dayton peace accord and is concerned that Dodik’s threat to secede from Bosnia is poisoning the atmosphere.
VALENTIN INZKO, High Representative of Bosnia Herzegovina: There’s some mixed signals. For example, he gave some money for this renovated mosque. On the other side, the refugee return is many times not so easy. People have problems with papers, et cetera. In schools, they don’t — they’re not allowed them to speak their own language.
He invented a different name for the Bosnian language and so on. So we have to measure him on the ground, in the field.
MALCOLM BRABANT: This student dormitory in the wartime Bosnian Serb capital Pale, a short distance from Sarajevo, is the most current source of Inzko’s concerns. It was named in honor of the wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, just as he was being sentenced in late March to 40 years imprisonment for crimes against humanity and genocide.
VALENTIN INZKO: Imagine in our country, we would have such dormitories glorifying Nazi people, et cetera. It’s totally unacceptable and this is really something where Mr. Dodik has crossed a red line.
MALCOLM BRABANT: In Sarajevo, besieged for three years during the war, Professor Muhamed Hamidovic is a symbol of reconciliation. His wife was killed by a Serb mortar fired from the surrounding hills. He led the reconstruction of the Banja Luka mosque, but he too is disillusioned.
PROF. MUHAMED HAMIDOVIC (through interpreter): We are still living in the past. We need a new global system. We need a new approach for young people. The current situation is horrible. I have a son who doesn’t know where to go or what to do. For five years, he’s unemployed. That’s a tragedy. We’re talking about reconciliation, and that’s so abstract to me.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Back in Pale, Radovan Karadzic’s old stomping ground, three young students are weary of the lack of hope, and of being tainted by the Serb wartime legacy that has nothing to do them.
ANOJELA BOROVCANIN, Bosnian Serb Law Student: It is really pointless to make some differences because people, because we are all made of bones and blood. And we are all here for some reason. We are here to live, and we are here to love, and we are here to improve this world.
NENAD SAVIC, Bosnian Serb Law Student: Bosnia-Herzegovina is a place with too many fights between people.
NENAD SAVIC, Bosnian Serb Law Student: They were affected by everything that happened here a long time ago and people think — still cannot let it go. And that kind of depressing. And there is like no opportunity. When you go somewhere else, you see all those opportunities, and what can you actually do and what you cannot do here in my country.
MALCOLM BRABANT: If the Ferhadija Mosque is to be a component in breaking down the barriers, Western officials believe more Muslims need to pluck up the courage to return to their former homes in what is still the Serb heartland.
But the Serbs also need to offer genuine guarantees. Ordinary people on either side are forging bonds. But it’s widely accepted that politicians are getting in the way.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Malcolm Brabant in Banja Luka.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: But first: Saudi Arabia’s bold plan to diversify its economy by moving away from oil, while facing a rise in Iran’s influence in the region.
We examine the kingdom’s challenges with Simon Henderson, director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute, and Sarah Ladislaw, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where she is director of its energy and national security program.
Sarah, let me start with you.
Oil prices have gone up in the last few days, maybe because of the fires in Canada. But how big of an impact is the change in specifically oil or energy leadership in Saudi Arabia?
SARAH LADISLAW, Center for Strategic & International Studies: Well, it’s pretty significant, especially if you take the long view of leadership on energy policy within Saudi Arabia.
I think both of the response that they had the response that they had to the oil — the sort of overcapacity in oil supply in the oil market in 2014, which have led to the period we are now, where you have sort of lower oil prices, was really the turning point for the way people viewed the role that Saudi Arabia was going to play in the markets.
I think what happened over the weekend was a much-anticipated leadership shift that falls in line with that broader message of, you know, we’re going to play a new and different role in the oil market. We have a new sort of economic diversification strategy. And now we’re going to have both the institutional structure and sort of the leadership to lead that.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Simon Henderson, how much of this has to do with a power grab or power struggle or shuffle inside Saudi Arabia, the deputy crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, putting his fingerprint on things?
SIMON HENDERSON, The Washington Institute: Well, he’s certainly putting his fingerprint on things.
This is a young man, 30 years old. And he has risen from nowhere, or mostly nowhere. But he is the son of the king, King Salman, and so when King Salman came to the throne last year, since then, this young man has had a meteoric rise.
And he appears to have a vision, an economic vision. He’s announced a grand plan for vision 2030, which is a much less of a role for oil. And I suspect also he’s got a vision for himself, that he wants to be the next king of Saudi Arabia.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Sarah, what about that Vision 2030 project, the idea we equate or we connect Saudi Arabia with oil in our heads, the idea that they could be less fossil-fuel-dependent in 15 years?
SARAH LADISLAW: Well, I think it follows along the lines of what you have seen coming out of Saudi Arabian energy ministers and political leadership for awhile, which is this recognition that the energy landscape is changing, right?
They understand that climate change is an issue that a lot of different countries take seriously. They have talked about it quite openly. They are involved in most of the major multilateral initiatives to deal with climate change.
And I think if we weren’t talking about their broad reform effort, we would be talking about their need to undertake economic reform at some point, given the outlook for oil markets, given the role — the outsized role that it plays in their own economy. And so, in many ways, this new vision is actually an extension and a much bolder extension of domestic economic reform that people have thought needed to happen in the kingdom for a long time.
I think the thing that people are surprised about is that it’s happening at a much faster pace than people are used to seeing coming from the Saudi kingdom.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Put this in perspective to the struggle that is happening between Saudi Arabia and Iran right now.
SIMON HENDERSON: It’s such a struggle. And it dominates so much thinking, certainly in Riyadh.
The house of Saud, the Saudi family, are immensely suspicious of Iran and, frankly, on religious terms, as Sunni Muslims, they’re very suspicious of Shiite Muslims of Iran. On top of that, the Iranian nuclear program concerns them. And they think the deal which the Obama administration led last year is a lousy deal.
And so they’re very concerned about that. For the moment, though, it’s a question of oil price. Originally, when the Saudis allowed the price of oil to fall, their target were U.S. shale producers. And to an extent, they have made it uncomfortable for U.S. shale producers. But they have got a new target now, which is Iran, which wants to expand its oil production.
If that’s going to happen, the Saudis don’t want the Iranians to get much revenue out of it. So, they — this is an additional argument why they want to keep the price of oil comparatively low.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Sarah Ladislaw, how do they stay competitive here? Iran wants to wake up out of these sanctions. They want to get their market going and find a lot of customers.
At the same time, Saudi Arabia can pull more crude oil out of the ground faster than anyone else. And — but they need that money for their society to function.
SARAH LADISLAW: It’s a great question.
I mean, I think when you look at the — what the Saudis contribute to the oil market historically and currently, it’s about 10 million barrels a day. And they have, as you said, the lowest listing costs in the world. And they have spare capacity, which means they can bring more on quickly.
I think that the real challenge for them is — looking at this period long term, is to try and insulate their economy from volatile oil markets, right? I mean, part of what people see in their activity today is some of this sort of geopolitical rivalry.
But if you look at it from an oil market perspective back in 2014, there is really nothing they could have done to stabilize oil markets at that time. And, therefore, they’re using the market to basically get rid of the higher cost oil in the system and then, you know, look for being able to keep a market share perspective going forward.
It’s been fairly successful thus far. We were oversupplied by about two million barrels a day about a year-and-a-half ago. And things are starting to come into balance. The question going forward really for any major oil-producing economy is, how in charge of their oil economy will they be? What kind of — what can they do to ratchet up or down production?
And for them, it’s really a question of how dependent they are on that revenue.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Sarah Ladislaw, Simon Henderson, thanks so much.
SARAH LADISLAW: Thank you.
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