Quantcast
Loading...
Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)
Loading...

More Channels


Showcase


Channel Catalog


Loading...

Channel Description:

Analysis, background reports and updates from the PBS NewsHour putting today's news in context.

older | 1 | .... | 929 | 930 | (Page 931) | 932 | 933 | .... | 1175 | newer

    0 0

    An undocumented UCLA student attends a graduation ceremony for UCLA "Dreamers." In California, an estimated 1,100 undocumented students study here and at UC Berkeley, four times as many as before they qualified for state financial aid. Photo by Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters.

    An undocumented UCLA student attends a graduation ceremony for UCLA “Dreamers.” Photo by Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters.

    ATLANTA — When Emory University sent acceptance letters to successful applicants for this fall’s freshman class, several dozen were undocumented immigrants with temporary residency status, which exempts them from deportation under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (or DACA), according to a university official.

    WATCH: DACA ‘dreamers’ fear nightmare immigration policy

    Six wound up enrolling at Emory, and the school began to publicize its new welcoming policy, including financial aid for students with DACA status — undocumented students aren’t eligible for federal loans or grants — and services to help them graduate.

    Emory is among a small but growing number of private universities and colleges that have joined many public institutions in accepting DACA and other undocumented students, in part because more private donors are providing scholarships for them. There’s even a new project by a group of philanthropists to give undocumented students private loans to be repaid as a percentage of their future incomes. And young DACA recipients themselves, using apps and websites, have created digital networks of information about which schools will take them, what sources of money are available and more.

     Universities and colleges are now noisy with marches, protests and petitions demanding that new policies on undocumented students survive the Trump administration and that campuses be turned into “sanctuaries.”

    Yet almost as abruptly as they began, these developments are threatened by the tightened immigration policies promised during the campaign by President-elect Donald Trump — including the possible reversal of President Barack Obama’s 2012 executive order establishing DACA in the first place.

    Emory and other universities and colleges, some of which announced new policies on undocumented students only in the last few months, are now noisy with marches, protests and petitions demanding that these policies survive the Trump administration and that campuses be turned into “sanctuaries” for undocumented students.

    More than 440 college and university presidents and chancellors, including Emory President Claire Sterk, recently signed a letter asking President-elect Trump to extend the DACA program. University and college leaders in California separately appealed to Mr. Trump to let undocumented students continue their educations without living in fear of being deported.

    But the new administration will doubtless also be under pressure from its supporters and others who believe that the college students who are among the 740,000-plus people approved for DACA status to date, and the estimated 65,000 undocumented immigrants who graduate high school in the U.S. each year, do not deserve institutional financial aid or other support that, critics say, could be given to American citizens.

    “We are not in favor of paying illegal aliens to stay in this country,” said David North, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonprofit organization that favors restricting immigration. “We don’t advocate scholarships for DACA students either,” he said, adding that, under Trump, “I’m expecting DACA not to expand; or to pass out of existence.”

    The private universities and colleges that admit undocumented students include, as of this fall, Cornell and Emory, which allow students with DACA status to apply as domestic students and receive institutional scholarships, and Brown, Wesleyan and Williams, which allow all undocumented students to apply as domestic students and receive institutional scholarships. Other schools, including Oberlin, have started offering services to help undocumented students stay in school.

    Many schools arrived at these new policies in response to pressure from student activists on and off campus and to the lack of movement in Congress on immigration reform. The schools say that helping undocumented students fits with their missions of expanding access to higher education. But some colleges and universities — in need of enrollment at a time when the number of high school graduates is relatively flat — are also responding to donors willing to give them money to pay for undocumented students.

    “Private schools are tuition-driven,” said Susana Muñoz, an assistant professor of higher education at Colorado State University. “If they have donors or investors, it’s giving them a reason to care, because it’s financially viable for both the institution and the students.”

    After surviving the recession, universities and colleges began “focusing on ‘What do I do next? How do I attract more students? There’s this whole pool of potential students, but they’re different from traditional students. How do I attract them?’” said Casey Jennings, a founder of 13th Avenue Funding, a Sacramento, California-based nonprofit that offers income-share agreements — essentially investments in students that are repaid from the students’ postgraduate earnings.

    Jennings and his partners launched a pilot project in 2012 with 11 low-income students. It gave them loans of up to $15,000, repayable after graduation at up to 5 percent interest, over as many as 15 years, but only if the graduates earn more than $18,000 per year. The program’s proceeds will be reinvested in successive generations of students.

    The organization now plans to focus on undocumented students. The goal, said Jennings: “We need a better-educated populace as a society.”

    Even with outside funding, however, most private colleges are spending money from their own budgets on financial aid for undocumented students. That increasingly puts them at the center of a controversy that is escalating to such a degree that one college spokesperson at first declined to talk about the issue.

    “The president-elect’s stated intentions regarding undocumented persons is causing some turmoil on many campuses and we are in the process of fact-finding regarding our options,” that spokesperson wrote in an email.

    Some of the universities and colleges accepting DACA students, like Williams College, are treading cautiously. Its director of media relations, Mary Dettloff, said the school is consulting immigration law experts and “probably has more questions than answers.”

    An estimated 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school each year.

    Williams College will “do all we can to protect and support our undocumented students,” its president, Adam Falk, wrote in a statement to students, faculty and staff. But he expressed concerns about turning the school into a target for federal immigration enforcement by declaring itself a “sanctuary.” If the federal government seeks to enter campuses across the nation, Falk wrote, “private colleges and universities do not have the ability to offer such absolute protection, and it would be a disservice to our students to promise what we can’t actually provide.”

    Jennings, a former General Electric executive, was more blunt.

    “They’re scared to death of what might happen,” he said. “They don’t want the federal government showing up at their door.”

    This anxiety has created a new urgency for projects such as Higher Dreams, a year-old website that serves “as a place to store accumulated knowledge for undocumented students”; DREAMer’s RoadMap, an app launched in April to help guide undocumented students to scholarships for higher education; and My (Un)documented Life, perhaps the most comprehensive resource for undocumented students online.

    According to DREAMer’s RoadMap founder Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca, who was undocumented when she began her college education and is now a permanent resident, DREAMer’s — with its database of 145 scholarships for which DACA students are eligible — surpassed her goal of 10,000 downloads for its first year in just seven months. Jin Park, founder of Higher Dreams and a junior at Harvard who has DACA status, said his website is receiving “several thousand” visits per week. And, according to founder Carolina Valdivia, My (Un)documented Life, launched in 2011, shot from 100,000 page views to more than 500,000 in the year leading up to the election; since then, it’s gotten 650,000-plus.

    Valdivia said that undocumented students are now asking her, “How do I protect myself?” and “How can schools help?” Espinoza Salamanca said her email is “blowing up” with similar queries. She thinks that threats to undocumented immigrants will result in “more people willing to help.”

    “Private donors, foundations and schools will be more likely to support undocumented students,” she said. “They know the value of these students.”

    This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read more about higher education.

    The post Risking political pushback, private colleges enroll undocumented students appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    basel3

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: It’s North America’s biggest art fair, with big money at stake, but who is it for and how does it work?

    Jeffrey Brown visited Miami Beach to find out what Art Basel is all about, which just wrapped up this weekend.

    JEFFREY BROWN: A family reunion for the international art tribe, a trade show, but one that includes some up-to-the-moment political commentary, Art Basel Miami Beach is all of that and more, art of all shapes and sizes and colors and kinds, and all for sale.

    It can be head-spinning, or, if you’re a prominent gallery owner like Jack Shainman, nightmare-inducing:

    JACK SHAINMAN, Jack Shainman Gallery: A lot happens the first days or the first few hours. In fact, one of my anxiety dreams that I have when I travel is that all these collectors show up at my booth at the same time at an art fair, and I can’t talk to all of them at once.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Here at the Miami Beach Convention Center, 269 high-end galleries from 29 countries around the world take part in the main art fair, last year attracting 95,000 viewers and collectors over six days.

    Fred Bidwell was back this year.

    FRED BIDWELL, Art Collector: This is crazy. This is more art than the human mind could possibly perceive.

    JEFFREY BROWN: With billions of dollars on the line, including new money from abroad, New York gallery owners James and Jane Cohan have a lot at stake.

    JANE COHAN, James Cohan Gallery: We really know the kinds of things our clients are looking for. So, when we have something that’s spectacular, they have been interested in a certain artist, we have a spectacular work, we’re going to let them know that we’re bringing it to the fair, and then they can come and see it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, a little bit of this is sort of precooked?

    JANE COHAN: Absolutely. But I still really believe that you have to see a work of art in person to fall in love.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Collectors come in all forms, trophy hunters, speculators, and actual lovers of art.

    This fair, an offshoot of one in Basel, Switzerland, is known for attracting Latin American art and collectors, including Tiqui Atencio, who’s just written a book about collecting art.

    TIQUI ATENCIO, Art Collector/ Author: I walked into a gallery that I love, which is the Brazilian gallery from Sao Paulo, Fontes de Deloya.

    And I started looking around, and I saw these two wonderful Latin American artists from Brazil in their 20s. And I thought, oh, my God, these are fantastic artists.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And did you buy?

    TIQUI ATENCIO: I’m thinking of it.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: Fifteen years in, Art Basel Miami has spawned more than 20 additional local fairs, catering to different styles and wallets, including one titled Untitled.

    WOMAN: There’s a lot to see, yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: With so much to see, art advisers have become big players here and elsewhere in the art world, counseling individual, corporate and institutional clients.

    Kerri Hurtado is an adviser with San Francisco’s Artsouce. At Untitled, she showed works to Jaya Kader, a Miami-based architect who designs homes with contemporary art in mind.

    JAYA KADER, KZ Architecture: You get exposed to so much. There’s no way that — it would take you a whole year to get to see as much as you get to see in a few days in Miami. And I like to work with Artsouce because the art world is so vast.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Art everywhere, but also other kinds of excess.

    Art journalist Janelle Zara.

    JANELLE ZARA, Journalist: Because we’re in Miami, things sometimes get a little out of hand. There’s a lot of showiness, you know? Everyone in the world is here. And so that involves a lot of fancy cars, a lot of dressing up, you know, a lot of hopping from party to party.

    And, increasingly, people who are not in the art world want to participate.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But even in what Zara described as a subdued year, possibly owing to the Zika scare, the spectacle went on, a psychedelic electronic dance party in Collins Park, complete with a robot bouncer, droning guitars played by women standing on amplifiers, and burgers grilled under the hood of a limousine.

    There were the behind-the-scenes dinners and parties galore. Also on display, the rise of homegrown museums and collectors like the Rubell family, who during the Art Basel fair, held an opening in their own enormous private collection space.

    You’re market makers in a sense, right? If you choose an artist, you have the power to make people.

    MERA RUBELL, Rubell Family Collection: I know people say that all the time, that we make markets and stuff like — but I can tell you that that’s not the way we live our life.

    We don’t wake up in the morning and say, oh, we make markets. This is really like the outside world. The inside world is very, very basic. It’s a family that is constantly talking about the art. We have the privilege to curate it and hang it. The market is not so interesting to us.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The growth of art fairs has given more buyers access to the art world, less power to auction houses.

    But there’s a strict hierarchy here, several tiers of VIPs who get in first, ahead of the general public. Most of the work here is actually sold before the fair even opens to the public.

    Clare McAndrew is a cultural economist who studies the art market.

    CLARE MCANDREW, Arts Economics: The high end has done extremely well. I mean, I looked at auction sales, for example, and the segment over a million has grown about 400 percent over the last 10 years. If you look at the segment over $10 million, it’s grown at over 1000 percent.

    And if you look at the lower-end segments, they have grown very slowly. In terms of sales growth, it’s a very top-heavy marketplace.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But that sort of fits with the whole inequality discussion we have politically.

    CLARE MCANDREW: It’s exactly paralleling what’s happening in the wider economy and in wealth distribution.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, as with other markets, those with the best information gain advantage.

    Josh Baer is an art adviser who writes the industry newsletter “Baer Faxt.”

    JOSH BAER, Baer Faxt: Having more information about who’s doing the show at the Tate or who’s going to be in the Whitney Biennial or whose work is sold out and who’s buying it or what’s going on gives you momentum information.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Momentum, which you can take to clients or others and say…

    JOSH BAER: Time to buy now because next year it’s going to be twice as much and there’s going to be something else going on. Art fairs are like auctions. They’re about forced urgency. They’re about the illusion of you better decide in the next 20 seconds, because some billionaire from China is coming in two minutes and he may take what you want.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Amid all the buying and selling, what’s an up-and-coming artist to do, especially one like Hank Willis Thomas, who works in many different media, often tackling difficult political issues of the moment?

    He says artists need to imagine a better future for society, even if part of the present deal here is lucrative.

    HANK WILLIS THOMAS, Artist: So, there’s no way to get out of this system. What I’m really most interested in is how we can use the system to improve it. And it’s always a positive improvement. I don’t want to alienate myself from anyone.

    JEFFREY BROWN: A bit more politics and smaller crowds this year. But sales, the true bottom line, were said to be holding steady.

    From Miami Beach, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the “PBS NewsHour.”

    JUDY WOODRUFF: My favorite was the hamburgers grilled under the hood of the car.

    The post Miami’s extravagant Art Basel reflects the new economics of art appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Veterans join activists in a march to Backwater Bridge just outside the Oceti Sakowin camp during a snow fall as "water protectors" continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline adjacent to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., December 5, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson - RTSUT4U

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Protesters won a big 11th-hour victory from the Obama administration yesterday that prevents the completion of the Dakota Access pipeline.

    But is it just a temporary delay until President-elect Trump takes office? The nearly 1,200-mile pipeline was almost complete before this weekend’s announcement. One of the last stretches is a single-mile segment that goes under the Missouri River. The battle has been raging for seven months now.

    And to Hari Sreenivasan for our update.

    MAN: The Corps of Engineers is going to deny the easement.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Thousands of protesters celebrated the announcement late yesterday.

    On Sunday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it wouldn’t grant the final easement to allow the pipeline to be drilled. Instead, the Corps said it would begin exploring alternative routes. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and others say the pipeline will destroy sacred lands and are worried an oil leak could threaten the tribe’s water supply.

    North Dakota’s governor, the company and members of the state’s congressional delegation all denounced the decision.

    William Brangham has been covering the story for months, and is with us again tonight.

    William, this doesn’t seem to be over. I don’t see the protesters breaking camp. I don’t see anybody jumping for joy.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: No.

    There was some joy certainly yesterday, and I think, obviously, some spillover into today, because, for many people, this was considered an enormous victory. This is what the Standing Rock tribe and all of its thousands of supporters have wanted for months, which was to stop the pipeline going under the Missouri River right next to the tribe.

    Now, whether this is over or not is still an issue. The Army Corps didn’t cancel the pipeline. They didn’t say it’s definitely not going here. They said, let’s take a longer review, let’s talk to the tribes some more, and let’s consider some alternate routes.

    So, it’s still not clear if this is, in fact, the done deal.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And the alternate route idea doesn’t sit well with the local authorities and the company.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: No.

    The company has, from the very beginning, been steadfast that they will not move this pipeline. The governor of North Dakota has said the pipeline is not going to be moved.

    Now, the Army Corps of Engineers could and has in the past looked at other routes. There’s multiple ways to cross the Missouri River here. But right now, the Army Corps of Engineers says all options are open and they’re going back to the drawing board, in essence.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what happens to the protesters in the coldest part of winter heading into this area now?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Well, that’s still an open question. We don’t know yet.

    The head of the Standing Rock Sioux, the chairman, David Archambault Ii, he, in essence, declared this as a victory, and he said, people, you can go home now, things are safe.

    I think, in the back of their minds, they know that, just as the Obama administration made this happen, a Trump administration might try to reverse course. So, I think everyone is recognizing subzero temperatures. This is a very, very hard place to live out in the open on the prairies of North Dakota.

    It’s freezing. So, everyone, go home, rest, that’s what the chairman seems to be saying. And if we need to call on you again, we will do so.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there any indication that the policy change after the inauguration of Donald Trump?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Well, certainly.

    That’s — this was, in essence, driven in large part by pressure brought to bear on the Obama administration and them asking the Army Corps to take a second look at this.

    So, what the Obama administration has done, the Trump administration could undo. And Trump has been very clear from the get-go he wants this pipeline to be built.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And that tribe has had a, well, complicated relationship with the Army Corps, this particular decision that they support, but, in the past, there’s a lot of decisions that they have not.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s correct.

    I mean, there have been a lot of instances where the tribe has said, we have not been consulted on these types of events in the past.

    In fact, one of the biggest critics of this is a Congressman Kevin Cramer from North Dakota. He points out, good luck on trying to do any infrastructure projects in the U.S. going forward, if you can simply overturn it like this.

    But he says, on this very same land, natural gas pipelines have been put through, electric high-tension power lines have gone through. And the tribe wasn’t happy about that, but they said that they had no power to do anything about it, whereas, with this pipeline, they did.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Just recently, there was audio of the conversations that took place and where the tribe was considering this, because one of the contentions that the tribe had is that: We were not part of this process.

    Right?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s right.

    The audio that you’re referring to is an instance of several years ago, where the tribe made very clear that they didn’t want this pipeline coming anywhere near them.

    The problem with that is that, in subsequent meetings, the Army Corps has been saying: We have asked for the tribe to continue to offer further input.

    And they argue that they simply didn’t respond and that they didn’t come to subsequent meetings. But I think it’s been quite clear the tribe has been against this from the get-go.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, William Brangham, thanks so much.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Thanks, Hari.

    The post What’s the long-term outlook for the Dakota Access Pipeline? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends during signing of agreements ceremony with Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (unseen) at the El-Thadiya presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh - RTSS3SC

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The first foreign leader to call President-elect Trump after his victory was Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

    The Arab world’s most populous nation has had turbulent relations with the Obama White House since the 2011 revolution, and the subsequent 2013 coup that first brought al-Sisi to power.

    Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, has been in Washington meeting with Secretary of State Kerry and with key leaders on Capitol Hill, and last week with Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

    This morning, he sat down with our chief foreign affairs correspondent, Margaret Warner.

    MARGARET WARNER: Minister Shoukry, thank you so much for having us.

    President-elect Trump and your President Sisi have had some very glowing words to say about one another. Your own embassy just put out a statement that, in fact, you are looking forward to better ties with the new administration.

    So, are you looking forward to turning the page on this U.S.-Egypt relationship, which has had its ups and downs over the last few years?

    SAMEH SHOUKRY, Foreign Minister, Egypt: We’re certainly looking forward for consolidating and strengthening the U.S.-Egyptian relationship.

    It is always our objective to have close ties with the United States. We’re at a transitional period of our history and we’re on a road to reform.

    MARGARET WARNER: How do you expect the Trump administration to be different than the Obama administration when it comes to dealing with Egypt?

    SAMEH SHOUKRY: Well, we look forward, from what we heard from President-elect Trump, a clear vision related to the conditions and the challenges in the Middle East. And there’s a great deal of parallelity in that vision related to how we can eradicate terrorism, how we can regain stability in the region.

    MARGARET WARNER: So, are you expecting more cooperation on fighting terrorism or making that the priority, and less attention, for example, to the issue of human rights in Egypt?

    SAMEH SHOUKRY: That’s not the issue that concerns us.

    I think the issue that concerns us is certainly regaining stability, but issues of human rights are an integral part of our reform policies, of our new constitution.

    MARGARET WARNER: Did either Mr. Trump or Mr. Pence, when you met with vice President-elect Pence, on their own raise the issue of human rights with you?

    SAMEH SHOUKRY: On the occasion of my meeting, it was to convey a message from President Sisi. And there was a general discussion related to conditions in the region and the importance of the strategic relationship that binds the United States and Egypt.

    MARGARET WARNER: But what about human rights?

    SAMEH SHOUKRY: It wasn’t raised specifically.

    MARGARET WARNER: It wasn’t raised specifically?

    SAMEH SHOUKRY: No.

    MARGARET WARNER: There is one case that is getting some attention here.

    And that’s of a young woman named Aya Hijazi, who came to work with her husband in a sort of center for street kids. And then she’s been arrested and held for months and months on what everyone here says is bogus charges that they were abusing the children.

    What is the status of that case?

    SAMEH SHOUKRY: Well, I think it’s a very serious accusation that’s been made.

    And I think anyone would be interested to get to the bottom of accusations related to minors and related to abuse. So, I would challenge the issue of bogus accusations. And I think it’s important to recognize the impartiality of the Egyptian judicial system.

    MARGARET WARNER: So, let me ask you a couple of other things about human rights.

    Your Parliament last week just passed another law, further restrictions on the rights or the activities of NGOs. Will President Sisi sign that?

    SAMEH SHOUKRY: The elected officials decided that they had their own vision of what they considered in the best interests of the public. And this was just before I left, so I don’t have any information related to what the president’s position on it is.

    MARGARET WARNER: As you know, human rights are a deep concern here in the United States in terms of what’s going on in Egypt.

    And it is hard for people to understand why so many dissidents, journalists, activists, nonviolent people, NGOs, have been rounded up, are being detained, are having their rights restricted, why, for people who speak out, for people who want to demonstrate.

    SAMEH SHOUKRY: My — exactly. It’s not a matter of people speaking out.

    There’s nobody who’s been accused of anything related to freedom of expression or undertaking activities of civic responsibility. All those who have been subjected to a judicial inquiry and trials have been accused of criminal activity, criminal activity, whether it’s in demonstrating without necessary permits, in violent activity during demonstrations, and such issues that are penalized in the criminal code.

    MARGARET WARNER: Let me turn now to Syria.

    Initially — and, of course, it was a different government. The government of Egypt opposed President Bashar al-Assad. But there are signs now that, in fact, the Egyptian government is growing closer to him, more supportive. President Sisi said he thought the Assad army was perhaps best equipped to fight terrorism. You have been also voting with Russia in the Security Council on resolutions related to Syria.

    If the Syrian government asked Egypt to also send forces of any kinds, and there have been rumors to this effect, would Egypt send some to help him?

    SAMEH SHOUKRY: Categorically not.

    Let me clarify that the president, when he made his statements, wasn’t referring to Syria in particular. He was referring to the fact that we consider that it is the national armies of the nation state which are responsible to fight terrorism. That is their primary responsibility. They have the better ability, rather than relying on any form of foreign intervention in this regard.

    So, we believe that a political solution should be under way, and that which is necessarily inclusive of all political factions in Syria. So, there is no commitment towards any specific political entity in Syria. There hasn’t been any reference to the current Syrian government.

    MARGARET WARNER: So, would you say your position is closer to that of the United States or — right now — or to Russia?

    SAMEH SHOUKRY: We have been cooperating with both the United States and Russia, have been actively supporting a greater understanding between them because of their ability to impact the situation.

    We believe that it is intolerable that the current level of violence and — that we continue after five years of a half-a-million loss of life, that we — that this situation should continue.

    MARGARET WARNER: Let me end with asking you about a couple of campaign promises.

    President-elect Trump said he was going to push to renegotiate this entire Iran nuclear deal. Do you think that’s a good idea?

    SAMEH SHOUKRY: The issue is very important. And we must guarantee that the region remains free of nuclear weapons.

    MARGARET WARNER: And so do you think the Iran nuclear deal furthers that aim?

    SAMEH SHOUKRY: We believe that the deal can — has room for improvement, definitely, in terms of the time and in terms of the guarantees to prevent any proliferation of nuclear weapons.

    MARGARET WARNER: And then, finally, he promised to move the U.S. Embassy — this is an old issue — from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Would that be high on your list?

    SAMEH SHOUKRY: No. We have always opposed any movement in that direction as contravening international law and legitimacy.

    MARGARET WARNER: Thank you very much, sir.

    SAMEH SHOUKRY: Thank you.

    The post Egypt envisions ‘strengthening’ of U.S. relationship under Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    polimon

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, for more on the president-elect’s call with the Taiwanese president and the latest from the transition, it’s time for Politics Monday.

    Joining us are Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post, and Geoff Dyer. He’s diplomatic correspondent for The Financial Times. He has served as the paper’s Beijing bureau chief, and he broke the story of Mr. Trump’s call with the Taiwanese leader.

    And we welcome all of you to the program.

    So, a little bit of news before we talk about this. We have just seen on the wire services that Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state, in Beijing to meet with the leadership there, is saying that he’s impressed by the — quote — “calm reaction” of the Chinese leaders to the Trump phone call with the president of Taiwan.

    But, Amy Walter, why is this causing such a stir at this point?

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: It’s causing such a stir because, as we seem to say every single Monday, Judy, this is an unconventional president doing unconventional things.

    And this is not something that the traditional establishment would see as a good idea to do, especially when there’s not necessarily a policy behind it.

    And I think that Tony Blair raised this issue, too. We don’t really know what this actually means. The call in and of itself, as Henry Kissinger said, hasn’t created some tremendous trouble in China. But what we don’t know is whether this is just posturing or whether this is a policy change.

    And we have heard from the Trump transition both sides. One side says, no, this is not. The vice president, for example, went on television. Kellyanne Conway, who was his campaign manager, went on television, and they said, this was just a courtesy call. There’s no change in policy.

    We’re reading other accounts today that suggest that this is about a change in policy, the president-elect had been very tough on China during the campaign, we’re going to see a more aggressive Trump administration in dealing with China.

    But we don’t have an answer for that yet. And that’s why I think there is all the consternation going around.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Geoff Dyer, how much of this was planned, and how much of it is just happenstance on the part of Mr. Trump?

    GEOFF DYER, The Financial Times: As was just said, it’s very hard to tell, actually.

    Mike Pence came out and said this was a courtesy call, which would seem that it was just a small gesture that they’re planning to do. But then Donald Trump a few hours later went on Twitter, as is his wont, and essentially linked the call to Taiwan with a whole series of things he doesn’t like about Chinese economic and foreign policies and implied that the U.S. views of the status of Taiwan are now up for negotiation, that he wants them to be part of a broader negotiation with China about a whole series of economic and foreign policy issues.

    So, we just don’t really know what exactly they’re planing to do with this. Was it just about Taiwan? Is it just because they want to push back a bit on Taiwan? Or do we see this as a way of somehow to get leverage for a whole series of other issues on the currency, on tariffs, on the South China Sea? It’s unclear.

    (CROSSTALK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Excuse me.

    Karen Tumulty, read the tea leaves a little bit more. What do you see?

    KAREN TUMULTY, The Washington Post: Well, I think that Donald Trump, how many times during the campaign did he tell us that his plan for dealing with foreign policy was to be unpredictable? Well, there we have it.

    I think that, increasingly, the evidence does look like this wasn’t just a casual — world leaders don’t just pick up the phone and call each other. It does appear that this was a deliberate move, a deliberately provocative move.

    And it seems very much in line with his rhetoric during the campaign that he intended to be tough on China. And don’t forget, we have seen a lot of presidential candidates, memorably, Bill Clinton, who used to criticize George Herbert Walker Bush for coddling dictators and then take the much softer line with China once he’s in office.

    I think Donald Trump is signaling that that’s not going to be his way of doing business.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Amy Walter, it plays into the other phone calls that were reported from overseas, calls, for example, with the prime minister of Pakistan, where he was apparently overly complimentary, in the words of one observer who seemed to know about it, and the broadening search apparently now for secretary of state.

    Is this all — how are we to understand what’s happening right now?

    AMY WALTER: Well, the other thing that the vice president-elect said over the weekend is, look, you’re going to know about our policy once we are in office, that what’s happening right now in the transition shouldn’t be read too deeply in to. There are a lot of these calls that we’re taking. He’s reaching out to a lot of folks.

    Look, if you watch the Trump cam that is positioned in the Trump Tower, watching people go up and down the escalator, you saw one of those in there today was Al Gore. Right?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes. Yes.

    AMY WALTER: Lots of people coming in and out, not necessarily indicative of what his policy is going to be.

    To have Al Gore one day, and the next day the head of ExxonMobil, what does that — what are you supposed to read into that about his stance on climate change? So, I think, again, it’s going to be that the actions that he takes are significant.

    And I know we’re going to get to this in a second. But the people that he’s putting around him on the Cabinet suggest that he’s putting together a very conservative, almost traditionally conservative Republican group around him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Geoff Dyer, before we leave foreign policy, how are the folks in foreign capitals reading all this, when they see with the call with the president of Taiwan, when they read about these other conversations and this ongoing secretary of state search?

    GEOFF DYER: Well, we had this whole discussion during the campaign and after the election about whether to take Trump literally or seriously.

    Well, in foreign countries, when they see what he’s saying on Twitter since the election and seeing what he’s saying in these calls with foreign leaders, they take everything very seriously and they take everything very literally.

    So, foreign governments are going to be poring through all these tweets looking for — to try and discern what it means for foreign policy. So, if he thinks that just by being unpredictable that somehow he can have an impact, but not necessarily commit himself to certain things, that’s not the way it is going to be read in foreign capitals. They are going to take these things very literally and very directly.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, one of — and Amy just mentioned this, Karen, but a meeting today with Al Gore, of all people, the former vice president, ran for president unsuccessfully. What are — again, what are we to think about all of this?

    KAREN TUMULTY: Well, other than they may or may not have discussed the relative merits of the Electoral College vs. the popular vote, what I am told by sources close to Gore is that this was at the instigation of Ivanka Trump, that she reached out to the former vice president recently to discuss climate change, and that he was really impressed with the way she was thinking about the issue, framing the issue.

    He had to be in New York anyway. And so he went — the original idea was that this meeting was to be between Al Gore and Ivanka Trump. And it turns out it is with the president-elect.

    And it was interesting, too, that Al Gore on his way out said, it was a very thoughtful discussion and that it will be continued.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Donald Trump, Amy, is meeting with Democrats, as well as Republicans.

    AMY WALTER: That’s right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: He’s picked a very clear Republican in Ben Carson to run the Housing Department.

    But you alluded to this a moment ago. We are, frankly, kept on guard right now — caught off-guard, I guess you could say, by the variety of people he’s…

    AMY WALTER: The variety of people he’s bringing in.

    But when you look at the people that he’s actually put around him on his Cabinet, this is a pretty — I would argue a very conservative Cabinet. And whether it’s on issues of immigration, his pick for the attorney general, very conservative on that issue.

    On education, this is Betsy DeVos, somebody who has supported school vouchers. And even on Ben Carson, he’s not exactly steeped in housing policy, but his statements on the issue have also been very conservative.

    And looking back on something he wrote even in 2015 talking about some programs within HUD, mandated social engineering schemes, very critical of some of the issues that HUD would try to put forward, he’s been critical of other programs, government programs.

    And so this is a Cabinet right now, especially when you look at domestic social policy or domestic policy in general, this is a very conservative group of people that he’s put around him, despite the fact that he’s bringing all kinds of people into Trump Tower.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    And just again on the — I posed the question to you a minute ago, Geoff Dyer, about the array of people he’s talking to about secretary of state, from Rudy Giuliani, to today — or, yesterday, we learned about Rex Tillerson, who is the head of a big oil company, ExxonMobil.

    Again, if you’re a foreign government, are you seeing this as a typical process for choosing somebody in that position?

    GEOFF DYER: It’s not so typical, but it’s been done so publicly, and they have to turn up for these auditions at Trump Tower.

    But it’s perfectly respectful thing for him to cast a wide net, to talk to a lot of people. And most of the people he’s thinking about are very serious individuals. They’re perfectly credible candidates.

    The thing that strikes me, from looking at the names so far in the Cabinet on the foreign policy side, is the one thing that unites them — and that’s General Mattis at the Pentagon, Mike Pompeo at the CIA, even Mitt Romney to become secretary of state — they’re all very, very hawkish on Iran.

    That’s the one thing that you can say about the new Cabinet Donald Trump is putting together. That seems to be one of the coherent themes. They’re very, very skeptical about Iran.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And quick, finally, to Karen. More names coming up for secretary of state, we think?

    KAREN TUMULTY: Well, we have heard today, what, Jon Huntsman, the former — Barack Obama’s former ambassador to China, a far more moderate figure than — at least politically than we have seen, although, again, very, very much in agreement with a lot of what Donald Trump has to say on China.

    The other thing is that Trump doesn’t seem to feel in a great hurry to make this decision.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: No, he doesn’t.

    KAREN TUMULTY: He seems to both be enjoying the drama, enjoying the suspense, but also willing to let this kind of play out.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Karen Tumulty, Amy Walter, Geoff Dyer, thank you all.

    The post What we can infer from Trump’s initial actions — and what we can’t appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    Former British Prime Minister, Tony  Blair, delivers a speech following the publication of The Iraq Inquiry Report by John Chilcot, in London, Britain July 6, 2016.     REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool  TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY   - RTX2JZB4

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: This year has marked a rise in partisan divides the world over. But former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is on a mission to spur citizens across the globe to move toward the middle.

    I spoke with him earlier this evening, and began by asking about building an agenda for what he calls the center ground.

    TONY BLAIR, Former Prime Minister, United Kingdom: What it means is, as you can see from here and from Europe at the moment, from Britain, there’s a huge wave of anti-establishment feeling. There’s an enormous amount of anger. And it’s collapsing governments and political movements across the world right now.

    And my view is that we’re entering into a situation of enormous instability, insecurity, fragility. And because I happen to believe that the best policy solutions lie in the center ground, then I want to see, how does the center revitalize itself? How does it develop the policy agenda for the future? And how do we link up people who have the same basic ideas and attachments to the same basic values across the world?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, are you talking about creating new political parties in the middle?

    TONY BLAIR: No.

    It’s really about linking up people who look at what is happening in the world, know that the world needs change, and not the status quo, don’t want the center to be a place where we’re just managing the status quo, but instead where we’re really articulating change and developing a policy agenda that’s going to allow us to address the concerns of people left behind by globalization and, you know, communities that are fragmented, and allows us also to address it in a way which provides answers, and not just anger.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, I mean, what we see in the United States is both political parties pretty fiercely jealously guard their own territory.

    TONY BLAIR: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Republicans don’t want to give up any ground. The Democrats don’t want to give up any ground. Is there really room left for something in the middle?

    TONY BLAIR: Well, there’s a necessity, I think, because the trouble with today’s politics — and it’s exactly the same on the other side of the Atlantic — is that people — and this is partly as a result, I think, of social media interacting with conventional media.

    And people divide into groups where they talk to each other, but don’t talk across the divide. And yet most of the challenges we face in the world today are challenges that are to do with trade, with technology, with how you make sure that people are properly educated, reform your health care system.

    These are challenges that we all share in common. And they require practical solutions. I mean, they may be radical, indeed, in many circumstances, should be, but they need to be practical, evidence-based, and capable of not just exploiting people’s anger or riding their anger, but saying, this is something that’s going to improve your life.

    I mean, we have taken a situation in the U.K. because of concerns, for example, over immigration and other things, so Britain now is on a path out of Europe.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    TONY BLAIR: I still hope we will ultimately change our mind about that.

    (CROSSTALK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You hope it will be reversed?

    TONY BLAIR: I think, as people see what it really means, and when we see the alternative offer on the table, then I think people may think again.

    But I can’t tell that at the moment. The likelihood at the moment is we just proceed with Brexit. This is a huge decision that we have taken that’s going to isolate us as a country at the very point in time when the world is moving closer together.

    So, it’s a — this for me is a — I have always been in that center ground — in my case, on the center-left in politics. But I think, right now, there is an urgency about it.

    And you look, for example, at what has just happened in Italy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    TONY BLAIR: You see, in Austria, OK, people say, well, it’s great because the more moderate person won. I mean, someone with a — frankly, a virtually neo-Nazi battleground got almost 46 percent of the vote.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    TONY BLAIR: So, this is serious.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But what we’re looking at in Europe is a move away from what was the traditional center of politics to the right. Why isn’t that — why isn’t the right ascendant right now, or why don’t you believe the right is ascendant?

    TONY BLAIR: Well, it may be ascendant in political terms, but the question is whether they have got answers to the problems people face.

    Look, if you’re living in a community that’s become fragmented and left behind, there’s not proper investment in it and so on, in the end, the answer is to make sure that we go and we help those communities, we educate the people properly, we build the necessary infrastructure of support for people.

    It’s not, in the end, stopping a process of globalization that isn’t ultimately a policy of governments. It’s driven by people, by technology, by migration, by the way the world’s changed.

    So, the risk we have is that we close down in the face of this. And then, of course, as all the history demonstrates, you end up becoming protectionist, isolationist. You end up with even bigger problems.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, and I want so ask you about that, because, of course, we have just elected in the United States Donald Trump, who would argue, I think, that he’s somewhere in the center. He’s not far right. He’s certainly not far left.

    And I want to specifically ask you, Tony Blair, about his foreign policy moves. He had a phone call the other day with the president of Taiwan, which is raising all kinds of questions about the U.S. relationship with China. He has had phone calls with the prime minister of Pakistan, friendly phone calls.

    Do you have any observations to make about his early moves and what he said about foreign policy?

    TONY BLAIR: No.

    (LAUGHTER)

    TONY BLAIR: And, I mean, the reason for that is, I think what — in this period of time, I would virtually discount everything. Let’s wait and see what actually happens. And I…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you have concerns, though? I mean, he talked in the campaign about whether NATO is necessary anymore.

    TONY BLAIR: Well, I think it’s really important that we — that NATO’s got a vital role to play. It’s very important that we protect NATO.

    But I’m one of these people that, once you have had your election and you have elected your candidate, let’s see what actually happens. There’s no point, and there’s certainly not for me as an outsider giving a running commentary on the president-elect.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, as somebody who’s been in the center, at the center of policy-making in the West, to have a president coming in who’s already stirring this kind of comment and controversy…

    TONY BLAIR: Stirring is OK. It just depends what happens in the end.

    I mean, look, ultimately, this will be decided by what policies are adopted by the new administration. The president-elect, I don’t — has not chosen yet his secretary of state.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    TONY BLAIR: Actually, the choice on defense is…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: General Mattis.

    TONY BLAIR: Yes, most people would have a high regard for. So, I’m — for me, let’s wait and see what actually happens.

    And, in a sense, what is more motivating to me is not a result in a particular case. It’s, what are these practical solutions that are going to allow us to develop our countries in the way that protects the basic liberal democratic values and are values that are dear to me and are the essence of the success of our countries, in my view?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tony Blair, joining us to talk about the center ground, and waiting and seeing on the president-elect, thank you very much.

    TONY BLAIR: Thank you.

    The post Tony Blair on why he’s advocating for a global policy ‘center ground’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    A Republican member of the Electoral College from Texas said Monday that he won’t cast one of his state’s 38 electoral votes for Donald Trump because “I am here to elect a president, not a king.”

    Dallas paramedic Chris Suprun previously indicated he would support Trump. But he now says the president-elect’s post-election attacks on the First Amendment and the country’s electoral process, as well as the billionaire businessman’s continued promotion of his brand and business interests overseas, changed his mind.

    “People are unhappy. They’re angry. But I’m angry, too.”

    Texas law doesn’t mandate that electors vote according to the results of the state’s presidential election, which Trump won by nine percentage points over Hillary Clinton. Suprun and the GOP’s other electors signed pledges at the state Republican convention in Dallas this summer promising to vote for their party’s nominee, but those aren’t legally binding.

    “I’m expecting backlash, but that has been par for the course this campaign. People are unhappy. They’re angry. But I’m angry, too,” said Suprun, who said that prior to changing his mind he had received hundreds of emails, letters and phone calls urging him not to support Trump.

    Suprun said the Electoral College system “is fine as it currently exists.” His problem is just with its winner.

    “I was told if we elected Donald Trump he would transform his personality into being presidential. He isn’t,” Suprun said. “I wanted him to be presidential, but since the election he hasn’t grown into our institution, he’s attacked them. I am here to elect a president, not a king.”

    Another Texas Republican elector, Art Sisneros, resigned last week rather than vote for Trump. Electors will vote to replace Sisneros when they convene Dec. 19 in Austin and in state capitals across the country to vote for president.

    Suprun said he was not resigning but also won’t be voting for Hillary Clinton.

    “I am not sure of who I will vote for, but would have to strongly consider someone like (Ohio Gov. John) Kasich who has both executive and legislative experience bringing people together,” he said.

    Suprun said he was waiting to see if other electors will revolt and rally behind a Trump alternative like Kasich.

    “I’m looking for someone we can all unify behind,” he said.

    The post Republican Electoral College member says he won’t vote for Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    A sidewalk memorial is seen near the burned warehouse following the fatal fire in the Fruitvale district of Oakland, California, U.S. December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTSUSQH

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back to the Oakland warehouse fire.

    Prosecutors moments ago said murder charges are possible in the case, but didn’t indicate who could be charged. As rescue workers continue the painstaking task of recovering bodies and investigating past concerns about the warehouse that was consumed by fire, members of the city’s artistic community are grieving and searching for a way forward.

    Special correspondent Joanne Jennings reports from California.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Twenty-four-year-old Seung Lee had never been to an art warehouse party before. So, when the freelance writer arrived at Ghost Ship around 11:00 p.m. on Friday night, he was immediately drawn into the scene.

    SEUNG LEE, Freelance Journalist: It was all antique furnitures and lumber. And it was almost like being in the forest. There were corridors on the first floor where you could kind of sneak into little hideaways where people could lounge in chairs. I thought this would be a good place to hang out on a Friday night.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Since there was no bar at the venue, Lee and his friends decided to make a run to a nearby liquor store.

    SEUNG LEE: It could not have taken more than seven minutes to go down and come back. And through the front window, I just saw thick black smoke just coming out, and on the side, I saw a huge flame on the back of the second floor. And that was the fire.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Lee and his six friends all survived.

    SEUNG LEE: I just think, what did I do to deserve this side of the coin and not the other? That’s the hardest part. If I stayed three minutes longer, if I checked out the scene a little longer, if I didn’t want liquor at the time, if I didn’t go, all those, like, what-ifs are there.

    NICK MILLER, Editor-in-Chief, East Bay Express: I have been in buildings like that. I have been at parties like that. And it just crushes you to think about all these young people that were in there.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Nick Miller is editor of The East Bay Express, Oakland’s alternative weekly.

    NICK MILLER: We have discovered that, on November 13, the Code Enforcement Department had documented numerous complaints, at least 10.

    Apparently, the venue had been operating for two to three years as an illegal underground venue, which means it wasn’t permitted to do live music, it wasn’t permitted have residential or anything like that.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: While safety violations at Ghost Ship were unusually egregious, Miller estimates there are dozens of underground art warehouses in Oakland.

    NICK MILLER: More than hundreds, potentially. There’s no proper plumbing. There’s no smoke alarm or sprinkler system.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: As the death toll continues to mount, the loss is felt throughout Oakland’s vast, yet tight-knit artistic community.

    LARA EDGE, Sheet Metal Alchemists: As soon as the fire happened, it was obviously a dialogue about who was there and which members of our community are accounted for and not accounted for, and immediately thinking about what can be done for the victims and the victims’ families.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Lara Edge, an industrial art entrepreneur, works out of American Steel Studios. The sprawling six-acre property provides work space for artists working on anything from large scale Burning Man-style industrial art to architecture.

    Edge is concerned about a possible backlash against the city’s many warehouse collectives.

    LARA EDGE: What’s really needed right now is not blame, but a way to work with city officials and not risk losing tenancy or being evicted by wanting to come forward and talk about safety upgrades that need to be made.

    We’re not living in spaces that are dangerous because we’re negligent people. It costs a lot of money to do these upgrades. And also raising the red flag means a potential for being booted.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Oakland’s rapid gentrification has hit artists particularly hard.

    LARA EDGE: During the first cycle of the tech boom years ago, artists got pushed out of San Francisco into Oakland. Now Oakland is increasingly unaffordable.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: The 200 people who work out of American Steel Studios were faced with the very real possibility of eviction when the property was put on the market in 2014.

    Last month, a new owner purchased the compound, and promised to preserve it for artists, but with one condition:

    LARA EDGE: Safety upgrades had to be made. And they’re primarily related to fire.

    So, this building has a steel ceiling. There were gates that didn’t have manned doors or easy egresses. And so all these changes had to be made before the new owners would buy the building. Given everything that happened with the fire, I’m thankful that we did that and we do have proper exits now.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Thankful that this kind of fire is unlikely to happen here.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Joanne Jennings in Oakland, California.

    The post Oakland’s horrific fire leads to worries for other warehouses appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Surrounded by family and family attorneys, Anthony Scott speaks at a press conference after a hung jury was announced in the trial of former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager outside the Charleston County Courthouse in Charleston, South Carolina December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill - RTSUT9V

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: A South Carolina judge declared a mistrial in a dramatic police killing after the jury deadlocked. North Charleston Officer Michael Slager was charged with murdering an unarmed black man. Walter Scott was shot as he ran from a traffic stop in an incident captured on cell phone video.

    His brother today urged calm

    ANTHONY SCOTT, Brother of Walter Scott: We are not going to tear up this city. We are going to — we are going to keep it just the way it is. And we are going to believe in peaceful protest, because it didn’t turn out the way we feel, but we feel like our voices need to be heard.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Prosecutors said they will try Slager again. He also faces federal civil rights charges.

    In Italy, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi handed in his resignation today, the latest victim of a populist wave across Europe. Renzi met with the country’s president a day after voters soundly rejected constitutional reforms. Earlier, he said has no regrets.

    MATTEO RENZI, Prime Minister, Italy (through translator): We are convincing. I am sorry. But we are leaving without remorse. As I said clearly from the beginning, if no wins, my experience of government ends here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sunday’s outcome boosted anti-establishment and anti-immigrant parties in Italy.

    Meanwhile, moderate leaders across Europe welcomed the outcome of Austria’s presidential vote. A left-leaning candidate, Alexander van der Bellen, won Sunday’s election there. He had campaigned heavily to maintain stronger ties with Europe. His far-right opponent talked of leaving the European Union and barring migrants.

    Russia and China today vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a seven-day truce in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Eleven nations supported the measure. The U.S. deputy ambassador to U.N. spoke after the vote.

    MICHELE SISON, U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the UN: We had a chance not to end, but to briefly stop the ongoing butchery in Eastern Aleppo. We have failed because of a cynical act. With a wave of their hands, Russia, China and Venezuela showed that they don’t want the suffering of Eastern Aleppo to end.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, fierce fighting continues in Aleppo, with government forces closing in on rebel sections.

    The war in Syria is driving a record United Nations appeal for humanitarian aid. The world body asked today for more than $22 billion for 2017. Roughly a third of that would go to help displaced people inside Syria and those who’ve fled to other lands.

    Back in this country, North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory conceded defeat in his reelection bid, after a month of counting absentee and provisional ballots. Democratic State Attorney General Roy Cooper won by just over 10,000 votes out of 4.7 million cast.

    And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 46 points to close at 19216. The Nasdaq rose 53 points, and the S&P 500 added 12.

    The post News Wrap: Mistrial for South Carolina police officer who killed Walter Scott appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    File photo of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair by Kevin Coombs/Reuters

    File photo of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair by Kevin Coombs/Reuters

    When it comes to U.S. foreign policy under President-elect Donald Trump, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is taking a wait-and-see approach.

    He told PBS NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff on Monday that he wouldn’t comment on Trump’s recent friendly phone calls to Pakistan and Taiwan’s leaders, which raised some eyebrows.

    “In this period of time, I would virtually discount everything. Let’s wait and see what actually happens,” Blair said.

    When Woodruff referenced Trump’s comments during the campaign downplaying NATO’s importance, Blair did say, “NATO’s got a vital role to play.”

    “Stirring’s OK,” he said about Trump’s comments and tweets. “It just depends on what happens in the end.”

    Blair was interviewed by Woodruff about his efforts to rally the middle ground on global policy to counter political extremes.

    “There’s a huge wave of anti-establishment feeling. There’s an enormous amount of anger. It’s collapsing governments and political movements across the world right now.”

    “I happen to believe the best policy solutions lie in the center ground” and in connecting people through education and building a structure of support, he said. They can work together to address the concerns of those who feel left behind by globalization and of fragmented communities, in a way that “provides answers and not just anger.”

    Blair cited immigration concerns that people had leading to the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union — a process known as “Brexit.”

    “This is a huge decision that we have taken that will isolate us as a country at the very point in time when the world is moving closer together,” he said. “I still hope we will ultimately change our mind about that … as people see what it really means.”

    You can watch Judy Woodruff’s full interview with Tony Blair on Monday’s PBS NewsHour.

    The post Tony Blair on Trump: ‘Let’s wait and see’ what happens appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    Ben Carson listens to a question from a reporter during a campaign stop in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus/File Photo - RTSUQQB

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The death toll keeps rising in that warehouse fire in Oakland, California, to at least 36. The building erupted into flames Friday night during a dance party. Search efforts resumed today amid charred debris, after workers were given time to shore up one of the weakened walls.

    JOHNNA WATSON, Spokeswoman, Oakland Police Department: The search resumed approximately 9:00 a.m. this morning, yes. So work does continue inside the building. They continue to be very careful, very tedious, very mindful. This scene is being managed with a lot of care and a lot of thought.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Oakland fire is now the deadliest building fire in the U.S. in more than 10 years. We will take a closer look at how the community is coping with the disaster right after the news summary.

    Team Trump has added another Cabinet nominee. Dr. Ben Carson has been selected as the choice to oversee the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage of today’s transition news.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Early in the GOP primaries, Ben Carson was Donald Trump’s closest competition. Now he’s the pick as housing chief.

    The two became allies after Carson left the race, and, in September, with Carson showed the nominee the Detroit home where he was raised by a single mom. Last month, Carson said that background would inform his work, should he become housing and urban development secretary:

    DR. BEN CARSON, Vice Chair, Trump Transition Team: Well, I know that I grew up in the inner city and have spent a lot of time there, and have dealt with a lot of patients from that area, and recognize that we cannot have a strong nation if we have weak inner cities.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Carson, of course, is known as a former neurosurgeon. He has no government experience, but has commented on housing policy before, including criticism of an Obama era requirement that cities report racial bias in public housing. And he’s slammed public assistance programs in general.

    DR. BEN CARSON: I’m really interested in getting rid of dependency, and I want us to find a way to allow people to excel in our society.

    (APPLAUSE)

    LISA DESJARDINS: Today, president-elect Trump called Carson “a brilliant mind passionate about strengthening communities.”

    But the Democratic minority leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, called him a “disconcerting and disturbingly unqualified choice.”

    Also today, a surprise face at Trump Tower, former Vice President Al Gore. He was scheduled to discuss climate change with Ivanka Trump, but her newly elected father joined in.

    AL GORE, Former Vice President of the United States: The bulk of the time was with president-elect Donald Trump. I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Contrast that with tomorrow, when the president-elect Trump is scheduled to meet with Rex Tillerson. The CEO of ExxonMobil has been a target of climate change activists. He’s now being mentioned as possible contender for secretary of state.

    In the meantime, some changes for the president-elect’s family. CNN reports that Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, both part of the transition team, are planning to move from New York to D.C.

    Also in New York today, the Green Party’s Jill Stein, speaking in favor of recounts in key states like Michigan, where a judge overnight ordered a recount to start today.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There was also more fallout from the president-elect’s phone call with the president of Taiwan. The White House today reaffirmed U.S. support for the one-China policy that says Taiwan is part of China.

    The post Neurosurgeon and former rival Ben Carson is Trump’s HUD nominee appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Jazzmen Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau have been teaming up — Redman on saxophone, Mehldau on piano — then going their separate musical ways for 20 years or more, ever since they first crossed paths at the Village Vanguard and other New York City jazz clubs in the early 1990s.

    Even as their separate and highly successful individual careers flourished over the years, their shared musical and personal bonds seemed always to pull them back together again, to record together. Tour together. To engage in what they call the “conversation” of jazz, improvisation and instinct guiding their way.

    And so they have again come together, late in 2016. There is a new album, “Nearness,” a mix of jazz standards and their own compositions. And a recently completed concert tour, centered largely in Europe, but with its launch at New York City’s Jazz at Lincoln Center earlier this fall. Hours ahead of that performance, they shared a version of Mehldau’s song “Old West” with the NewsHour, performed for us in the privacy of the Steinway Piano Showroom in Manhattan.

    You can learn much more about the artists and their creative process in Jeffrey Brown’s profile of them Tuesday on the PBS NewsHour.

    The post Watch jazz greats Redman and Mehldau share a musical ‘conversation’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    A Malaysian Muslim women is silhouetted after reading the Koran during the holy month of Ramadan inside Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah mosque in Shah Alam outside Kuala Lumpur July 14, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said (MALAYSIA - Tags: RELIGION) - RTR3YLMP

    Will Trump create a tracking system for Muslims entering or living in the United States? Would such a vetting or registry system even be legal? Photo by Samsul Said/Reuters

    Early in his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump proposed a “total and complete” temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States. He later said the ban would apply to immigrants from specific nations. At another point, Trump said he supported creating an immigrant “database,” raising fears in the Muslim-American community and beyond of a de facto registry system.

    As Trump prepares to take office next month, immigration advocates, legal experts and Muslim-Americans are girding for a fight over immigration and national security policy.
    Trump supporters are also watching closely, to see if he makes good on his campaign promise to create an “extreme vetting” program for immigrants from countries like Syria and Iraq.

    “Over Thanksgiving weekend, my relatives in Ohio were asking me how likely a Muslim registry was,” said Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who is Muslim. “The very fact that I had to reassure them and say it’s not likely was very troubling and scary.”

    Since winning the election, Trump has not discussed his plans for a vetting system in detail, or mentioned his previous proposals for targeting Muslim immigrants.

    Every country on the list, with the exception of North Korea, had a majority Muslim population — sparking criticism that NSEERS was aimed at Muslims and other minority groups.

    But the questions remain: Will Trump create a tracking system for Muslims entering or living in the United States? Would such a vetting or registry system even be legal?

    As a candidate, Trump said the U.S. government’s internment of Japanese Americans during World War II could serve as a precedent for sweeping immigration restrictions. Some of his supporters have also cited the internment camps in calling for a crackdown on immigrants from majority Muslim countries.

    The Supreme Court in a 1944 ruling upheld the Japanese internment camps in Korematsu v. United States, but the ruling has been discredited by judges and politicians from both parties. And in 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a law to compensate surviving Japanese-Americans who were incarcerated in internment camps. The law included an apology and $20,000 to each survivor.

    Legal experts said a registry program targeting a specific religious group would violate equal rights and religious freedom protections guaranteed under the constitution.

    And from a practical standpoint, implementing such a registry system would be nearly impossible, said Faiza Patel, the co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program.

    “It’s absurd on so many different levels,” said Patel, who wrote a memo last month arguing that a Muslim registry would be unconstitutional. “For one thing how do you know someone’s a Muslim? Do you ask people? You can’t necessarily tell just from someone’s name.”

    “I don’t see that any court would allow that to go forward,” Patel added.

    “Families were torn apart, small businesses in immigrant neighborhoods closed their doors, and students discarded their educational aspirations.”

    It’s more likely that the Trump administration would try a different approach: reviving the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, a Bush administration program created after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, said Shoba Sivadprasa Wadhia, the director of the Center for Immigrants Rights at Pennsylvania State University.

    The system, known as NSEERS, was designed to track non-immigrant visitors to the U.S., such as tourists and students. Under the program, visitors were required to undergo a vetting process that included fingerprinting and interviews with law enforcement officials.

    Eventually the program focused on male visitors, aged 16 and older, from 25 countries. But every country on the list, with the exception of North Korea, had a majority Muslim population — sparking criticism that NSEERS was aimed at Muslims and other minority groups.

    “It was badly conceived and poorly implemented, with disastrous results,” said James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute.

    The program registered 80,000 people, including thousands who were detained and interrogated, according to a 2012 report, without resulting in any convictions for terrorism-related activity.

    The Obama administration delisted the program’s 25 countries in 2011, effectively ending the system. But NSEERS was never formally eliminated, meaning that it could be revived under the next administration.

    “It was badly conceived and poorly implemented, with disastrous results.”

    Last month, 200 civil rights and immigrant advocacy groups urged President Obama to end the program before he leaves office, arguing that NSEERS was “ineffective as a counter-terrorism tool.”

    “More than 13,000 men who complied with the program faced deportation charges. Families were torn apart, small businesses in immigrant neighborhoods closed their doors, and students discarded their educational aspirations,” the groups wrote in a letter.

    NSEERS was thrust back in the spotlight last month after Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, and a rumored candidate to lead the Department of Homeland Security, met with Donald Trump after the election. Kobach was photographed entering the meeting with a sheet of paper that included a proposal to bring back the program.

    The Trump transition team did not respond to a request for comment.

    Some Trump supporters said they were watching for signals that the president-elect was serious about his campaign pledge to vet immigrants and visitors to the U.S. that pose a potential national security threat.

    John Hajjar, the former co-chairman of American Middle East Coalition for Trump, a group that backed Trump during the campaign, said he believed that terrorist attacks had increased under President Obama.

    “We want to see the president-elect target jihadists, not rank and file Muslims. This isn’t a witch hunt,” said Hajjar, a real estate developer from Massachusetts.

    Trump’s critics are “trying to make Trump out to be someone who wants to round up one group of people, and that’s absolutely false,” said Hajjar, who said he had Lebanese- Christian grandparents who immigrated to the U.S. “He cares about the safety and well-being of all Americans, including Muslim-Americans.”

    Other supporters said they hoped Trump would follow through with an “extreme vetting” program, as long as it doesn’t violate the constitution.

    “A ban of a person based on their race, color or religion, I don’t think that’s acceptable to most people,” said Billy Shreve, a member of the Frederick County Council in Maryland. But “anyone that can’t be documented with certainty should not be allowed in the country,” Shreve said. “If Trump enacts anything that improves on what we have now, he has won.”

    Immigration advocates said they were gearing up for a showdown with Trump over the issue, even though it remains unclear what direction his administration will take.

    “There have been nearly half a dozen variations during the campaign, ranging from a complete and full ban on all persons who are Muslim to enacting a program like NSEERS,” Wadhia said.

    Muslim-American “communities are aware and preparing for the possibility of a tracking program based on nationality, national origin and religion,” Wadhia said. “Whether or not these proposals are lawful will really depend on the scope and content.”

    The post Could President Trump really create a tracking system for U.S. Muslims? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son acknowledge guests after meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid - RTSUYAY

    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son acknowledge guests after meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City on Dec. 6, 2016. Photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — After meeting with Donald Trump on Tuesday, Japanese tech billionaire Masayoshi Son said he will invest $50 billion in the United States and would “commit” to creating 50,000 new jobs.

    “I just came to celebrate his new job,” Son said. “I said, ‘This is great, the U.S. will become great again’.”

    Son is the founder and chief executive of SoftBank, one of Japan’s largest technology outfits, which owns the U.S. mobile carrier Sprint. Sprint shares initially spiked after the announcement. Son left Trump Tower after being escorted down the elevator by the president-elect, who touted the pledge before waiting investors.

    The announcement is the latest instance in which Trump appears to be conducting economic policy via ad-hoc deal-making — and sometimes taking credit whether he deserves it or not. Last week, the president-elect spoke at the Carrier furnace plant in Indianapolis after the company announced plans to keep 800 jobs at the plant instead of outsourcing them to Mexico. Trump quickly claimed he had saved those positions, even though the company is still shifting more than 1,000 jobs from that factory and another Indiana plant to Mexico.

    Similarly, the week after the election Trump tweeted that he had dissuaded Ford Motor Co. from moving a Kentucky factory to Mexico. The claim was a stretch; Ford had no plans to move the plant and had already agreed to keep producing one specific model there, although it did back away from a plan to shift production of the Lincoln MKC, a small SUV, from Louisville to Cuautitlan, Mexico.

    Trump quickly took credit for Son’s commitment on Tuesday, writing on Twitter: “Masa said he would never do this had we (Trump) not won the election!”

    Financial details about the commitment and its timeframe remain unclear. Questions sent to Softbank, Foxconn and T-Mobile were not answered. Sprint spokesman Dave Tovar referred questions to Softbank.

    Sprint has struggled since Softbank bought it. The carrier’s attempt to join with rival T-Mobile failed in 2014 after regulators objected to combining two of the four largest mobile telecom companies in the United States. T-Mobile has surpassed Sprint to become the No. 3 carrier, while Sprint has struggled with cost cuts and layoffs. (AT&T and Verizon are the largest wireless carriers.)

    In October, SoftBank announced that it would establish a $25 billion fund for technology investments that could grow to $100 billion. SoftBank said it signed an agreement with a fund run by the government of Saudi Arabia and other investors.

    In addition to Sprint, SoftBank owns Britain’s ARM Holdings. ARM is known as an innovator in the “internet of things,” and in technology used in smartphones. It also sells the Pepper human-shaped companion robot for homes and businesses, and runs a solar energy business in Japan. The company, founded in 1981, also has within its investment empire financial technology and ride-booking services.

    The post Japanese mogul pledges $50 billion U.S. investment after meeting with Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Egypt, State Department, Egyptian Embassy, Artifact Repatriation, ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Fred Hiebert, John Kerry, Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry

    Egyptians artifacts that had been captured in U.S. Customs in 2013, all estimated to be Late Period. Photo by Ken Garrett/National Geographic

    As long as there have been tombs, there have been tomb raiders. On the night of Jan. 28, 2011, while protests engulfed Egypt’s Tahrir Square, thieves took advantage of the chaos and climbed into the Cairo Museum through the roof. Looters made their way through the museum and damaged two mummies in their search for gold. Luckily, King Tutankhamun’s famous golden mask and other priceless treasures were left untouched, but 110 artifacts were spirited away under the cover of darkness.

    But as long as there have been tomb raiders, there have also been tomb protectors. One of the lasting images of the Egyptian revolution is a human chain of soldiers and residents surrounding the Egyptian Museum in an effort to protect the antiquities that remained.

    READ MORE: Protecting ancient treasures from becoming casualties in Iraq and Syria

    Instability in the Middle East over the last couple of years has raised concerns about the smuggling of ancient artifacts and the reach of cultural racketeering. Plus, the price of antiquities has soared over the past decade. A 14-inch tall bronze Egyptian cat cast from the first or second century B.C., for example, sold in 2013 at Christie’s auction house in New York City for more than $2 million — well beyond the $250,000 maximum expected.  Prices like this have fueled the underground market demand for such goods.

    historic agreement was signed last week between the United States and Egypt in the State Department’s Treaty Room. It marks the first so-called “cultural property agreement” between the United States and any country in the Middle East and North Africa region. The agreement lays the groundwork for the U.S. to impose import restrictions on Egyptian archaeological items dating from 5200 B.C. through 1517 A.D. The goal: to reduce the incentive to traffic such items.

    Deborah Lehr, founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Antiquities Coalition, has been working hard over the last few years behind the scenes with Egyptian and American government officials to help bring the agreement to fruition. Looting of archaeological sites, she said, has increased 500 to 1,000 percent since the revolution in 2011, with an estimated loss of about $3 billion.

    “We’ve worked through two revolutions, three different governments, six ministers of antiquities, and six ministers of foreign affairs,” she said.

    One central element of the agreement is that it changes the burden of proof. For example, until now, Egypt has had to prove an item was looted. With the MOU in place, the burden is now on the seller to prove that it wasn’t looted and that there is a solid paper trail tracing the journey from Egypt to their hands, including a valid export license.

    Secretary of State John Kerry said this “represents the first agreement in the Middle East or North Africa regarding the protection of antiquities” and called it “groundbreaking.”

    The agreement lays the groundwork for the U.S. to impose import restrictions on Egyptian archaeological items.

    “I think it’s a good moment for Egypt, the United States, for the region, for us to make it clear that these antiquities are priceless treasures that do not belong to traffickers and crooks and should not be sold illegally and bought by wealthy people to hide away somewhere,” Kerry said. “They are the antiquities that belong to the world, that have been protected and should be protected by an old civilization.”

    Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said he hopes that the agreement “becomes a road map for the protection of these antiquities to preserve them for generations to come and to preserve them against the treachery of those who want to destroy them and to wipe out this commonality of our humanity.”

    Egyptian antiquities were not all that popular before the 1970s, but prices have been rising astronomically in the last 10 years, said egyptologist Salima Ikram.

    “Everything has its vogue,” she said.

    The reason that the 14-inch tall bronze Egyptian cat was able to fetch such a high price was the documentation or provenance. Christie’s was able to show that the item had been owned by former Egyptian statesman Nubar Pasha Nubarian, and in Paris since 1895. Dates matter, because the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property of 1970 called on signatories to better protect their cultural heritage and halt illegal excavation, import and export of antiquities.

    Egypt, State Department, Egyptian Embassy, Artifact Repatriation, ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Fred Hiebert, John Kerry, Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry

    Egyptian sarcophagus that had been captured in U.S. Customs in 2013, estimated to be Late Period. Photo by Ken Garrett/National Geographic

    In a statement emailed to the PBS NewsHour, Christie’s said that the looting of archaeological sites is a major concern in the art world and that property looted and trafficked from conflict zones cannot be sold in the open market.

    “When handling works of antiquity or any work of art, Christie’s adheres to any and all local and international laws related to cultural property and patrimony,” the statement said. “We have strict procedures in place to help to ensure we only offer works of art which are entitled to sell and, as a part of that due diligence, we work closely in partnership with UNESCO, as well as Interpol, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Unit.”

    Just last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) repatriated five illegally smuggled ancient artifacts to the government of Egypt at a ceremony at the Egyptian Embassy in Washington. The artifacts were uncovered during investigations by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations called “Operation Mummy’s Curse” and “Operation Mummy’s Hand,” named for an operation that located a genuine mummy hand disguised as a movie prop.

    In a statement released on Dec. 1, ICE said the investigation has identified “a criminal network of smugglers, importers, money launderers, restorers and purchasers who used illegal methods to avoid detection as these items entered the United States. Items and funds were traced back to Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Iraq, France, and other nations” and has secured “four indictments, two convictions, 19 search warrants, and 16 seizures totaling approximately $3 million. The agency is also seeking an international fugitive involved in the case.”

    Some of the finds include a sarcophagus retrieved from a garage in Brooklyn and a shipment of smuggled Egyptian goods including a funerary boat model and figurines.

    On Sept. 8, 2009, HSI New York recovered a nesting sarcophagus from a garage in Brooklyn, New York. One year later, on Sept. 24, 2010, following leads from the Brooklyn case, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Newark seized a shipment of smuggled Egyptian goods, including a funerary boat model and figurines. This is part of the collection of artifacts that was repatriated back to Egypt on Dec. 1, 2016. Photo courtesy U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

    On Sept. 8, 2009, HSI New York recovered a nesting sarcophagus from a garage in Brooklyn, New York. One year later, on Sept. 24, 2010, following leads from the Brooklyn case, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Newark seized a shipment of smuggled Egyptian goods, including a funerary boat model and figurines. This is part of the collection of artifacts that was repatriated back to Egypt on Dec. 1, 2016. Photo courtesy U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

    “Each of the artifacts returned today tells a story, a human story, our story, Shoukry said at the repatriation ceremony. “History comes alive when someone is able to not only read about the past, but is also able to visit the historical sites, watch and enjoy the artifacts, appreciate the images and see the actual writings of our ancestors.”

    Ikram says this is a good first step, but that more needs to be done. “It’s not just the issues of looting and exporting; the auction houses and collectors need to be more vigilant.” She says many collectors buy in good faith, but the auction houses are not doing their homework.

    She adds that if demand for Egyptian antiquities continues to rise and the crime rings are not stopped, sales could move from legitimate auction houses to the private market, a move that will make it hard to recover lost treasures.

    “Once something goes, part of everyone’s past is destroyed,” she said. “It affects all of human history and our understanding of the past. It is everyone’s loss and one’s person’s gain.”

    In the meantime in London, it’s Classic Week at Christie’s. One of the items for sale is this four-inch tall Egyptian cat statue with earrings. Ikram has a specialty in animals and the afterlife in ancient Egypt.

    “It is rare,” she said, “to have such beautiful bronzes for sale. They were offerings to the cat-headed goddess, Bastet, protector of children, women, and promoter of love. Often mummified cats were placed within the bronzes or within the base that supported the statue.”

    The top-selling piece in the category of antiquities was a large Egyptian bronze that represents the ancient Egyptian Gods Isis And Horus, and dates to 747-656 B.C. It sold for $1,382,290, solidly topping the estimate of $355,000.

    NOTE: The U.S. now has bilateral agreements with 16 countries around the world, as well as emergency import restrictions on cultural property from two other countries, Iraq and Syria.

    The post Amid regional instability and rising demand, a historic agreement could protect priceless cultural artifacts​ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    The United State Capitol Christmas tree, an eighty-foot Engelmann Spruce from Idaho, arrives on the west front lawn in Washington, U.S., November 28, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron - RTSTQ63

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to our “NewsHour” Shares, something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too.

    Rain showers and chilly temperatures did little to dampen spirits at the annual lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree this evening. This year’s tree is an 80-foot Engelmann spruce from McCall, Idaho.

    Joan Cartan-Hansen of Idaho Public Television has been following the man tasked with finding that tree, and she sent us this profile.

    JOAN CARTAN-HANSEN: Chris Niccoli’s day job is fighting wildfires out of the smokejumpers base in McCall, Idaho. But for the last several months, he’s had a new assignment.

    CHRIS NICCOLI, Payette National Forest: I’m also the logistic section for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

    JOAN CARTAN-HANSEN: That means Niccoli is the man responsible for finding, cutting, and supervising the shipping and delivery of the U.S. Capitol’s Christmas tree.

    Since 1970, the U.S. Forest Service has provided the Christmas tree that stands on the Capitol grounds. This year’s tree comes from Idaho’s Payette National Forest.

    Niccoli started seriously looking for the tree last spring. When he would find a contender, he’d mark the GPS location and take a picture.

    CHRIS NICCOLI: We’re looking for a Doug fir or an Engelmann spruce-type species. You know, those are the quintessential Christmas trees look.

    JOAN CARTAN-HANSEN: Niccoli narrowed down the choices to about a dozen trees. Then, last July, Ted Bechtol, the superintendent of the U.S. Capitol grounds, came to Idaho to make the final selection.

    Deciding on the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is a lot like picking your family tree, just on a much bigger scale.

    TED BECHTOL, U.S. Capitol Grounds Superintendent: Sixty to 85 feet in height, a nice conical shape, because the tree is viewed from 360 degrees.

    I have think we have seen better, yes.

    CHRIS NICCOLI: Yes. We have better ones.

    TED BECHTOL: A nice looking tree.

    CHRIS NICCOLI: It’s a good looking tree.

    JOAN CARTAN-HANSEN: Just as important as finding the right tree is finding it in the right location. Access is important, because crews will have to take this 11,000-pound tree and put it onto a 105-foot-long trailer. They found the right combination on the edge of Little Ski Hill just west of McCall.

    On November 4, hundreds gathered to watch Niccoli and a fellow smokejumper cut the prized Engelmann spruce.

    CHRIS NICCOLI: One inch. One. One inch. There you have it.

    It’s just barely hanging on.

    JOAN CARTAN-HANSEN: With a few more cuts from an axe, and a little pressure…

    CHRIS NICCOLI: Here it comes, Bill. And she’s free.

    JOAN CARTAN-HANSEN: The tree, all tied up on the back of the tractor-trailer, toured Idaho for several days, and then headed across the country to its final home at the U.S. Capitol.

    CHRIS NICCOLI: It’s once in a lifetime for anybody involved, right? And for me especially, I just feel really grateful. It’s great, yes. It’s really fun.

    JOAN CARTAN-HANSEN: For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Joan Cartan-Hansen in Boise, Idaho.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thanks to those folks. We don’t think about all the work that goes into finding this tree.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: I had absolutely no idea.

    The post Finding a Christmas tree fit for the U.S. Capitol appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    jazz1

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Next: how a passion for improvisation can make beautiful music.

    Two jazz stalwarts rejoin forces for a new album and a series of concerts.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The song, Hoagy Carmichael’s 1938 ballad “The Nearness of You,” performed as a kind of conversation between two master musicians who happen to be peers and friends, saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Brad Mehldau.

    BRAD MEHLDAU, Pianist: If you’re going to play a ballad with someone, and you want it to be anything deeper than this just sort of surface, you’re going to have to be vulnerable for the other person. And that’s what the audience wants to see, too.

    JOSHUA REDMAN, Saxophonist: Yes. Jazz is all about vulnerability.

    BRAD MEHLDAU: So, you got to…

    JEFFREY BROWN: Vulnerability?

    (CROSSTALK)

    BRAD MEHLDAU: Yes.

    JOSHUA REDMAN: I think so, yes, because we’re improvising, you know? And we’re not coming to the bandstand with a preconceived notion of what we’re going to play.

    We have to be open and available and vulnerable to really make that connection with ourselves and with the other musician.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Redman, 47, and Mehldau, 46, have been filling concert halls and jazz clubs, on their own, as band leaders, and together, for more than 20 years.

    This fall, they have joined forces again in a recent performance at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, and on a newly-released album titled “Nearness,” a mix of original material and jazz standards recorded live on tour in 2011.

    JOSHUA REDMAN: I feel so fortunate to be able to make the music that I believe in, and to get up there every night and just play from the soul and go for it.

    BRAD MEHLDAU: As an improvising musician, I really feel committed to not going out there and playing some nonsense for people, you know?

    (LAUGHTER)

    BRAD MEHLDAU: There’s a bit of a script. We have some plan, but what they want to hear is, they really want to hear us try to be creative.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Both men came to music early. Redman, in California, was raised by his dancer mother, and is the son of well-known saxophonist Dewey Redman, Mehldau in Florida and Connecticut in a family home never without a piano.

    They arrived separately in New York in the early 1990s, where each found his own early success.

    We spoke recently at the Steinway Piano Showroom in Manhattan just before a concert.

    BRAD MEHLDAU: Even when I’m ostensibly accompanying him, and he’s ostensibly taking the solo, we’re still having this conversation. So it may mean, for instance, that he plays a melodic idea, and then I respond to it sort of in real time, and I might even give him something back, that then he responds to again.

    JOSHUA REDMAN: I’m always looking for something.

    BRAD MEHLDAU: And he’s kind of waiting for it. He’s like, come on, what do you got?

    (CROSSTALK)

    JEFFREY BROWN: What do you got?

    BRAD MEHLDAU: Yes.

    JOSHUA REDMAN: Well, and often because I don’t have anything.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JOSHUA REDMAN: I always feel like I’m — as an improviser. I feel a little hamstrung by this instrument and its role in jazz, because it’s basically a soloist instrument.

    I play melodies, maybe some accompanying harmonies if there’s another horn player, and then I will take a solo, and then I have to go stand at the side of the stage. You know, I have rhythm section envy because they get to, like, be in there, and always — you know, they’re always listening, always reacting.

    But I feel like my best ideas often don’t come from me. They come from the other musicians that I’m playing with, and especially when I’m playing with someone like Brad.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I asked for a demonstration, and the two launched into some blues.

    BRAD MEHLDAU: One thing that Josh does that’s very exciting for me, as an accompanist, is that I throw him a curve in the middle of his phrase.

    So, he was starting to start a phrase that was a little more conventional. And he was going to kind of wrap it up, OK, we gave you an illustration, by returning to the melody. And then I — in the middle of that phrase, I sort of went — and I harmonically went off the chart of what would be the normal harmony there in this 12-bar blues we’re playing.

    In real time, somehow, he heard me doing that and adjusted his phrase in the middle of the phrase.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Is that an intellectual process that he just described, where he switches and you have to react quickly, or it just happens?

    JOSHUA REDMAN: That’s an excellent question. Whatever it is, if I feel like it’s an intellectual process, then I’m not successful.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s not going to work.

    JOSHUA REDMAN: It’s an emotional, it’s an intuitive process. I mean, of course it’s happening in the brain, right, but if I’m thinking about responding in that way, then I’m overthinking it, and I probably won’t do it well.

    BRAD MEHLDAU: It’s very exciting to really improvise, and to have that moment. And it’s also very social music. A lot of times, you’re with other people. And to have that white-heat kind of communication between another musician, it’s very — it’s pretty exciting.

    JOSHUA REDMAN: It’s a great time to be a jazz musician.

    JEFFREY BROWN: After our talk, Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau set off on a European tour, and the two continue to perform their separate gigs.

    From New York, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the “PBS NewsHour.”

    HARI SREENIVASAN: After Jeff’s interview, Redman and Mehldau played a song from the new album just for us.

    You can see that private performance in its entirety on our Web site, PBSNewsHour.org.

    The post The ‘white heat’ and vulnerability of improvisational jazz appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    transition

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: With president-elect Trump focused on preparing to take office in January, we return now to the transition process from one president to the next.

    I sat down recently with Max Stier, no relation to the Jim Steyer we just heard from. Max Stier is president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service and an expert on presidential transitions.

    Max Stier, welcome to the “NewsHour.”

    You have published this presidential transition guide. And you have also called the Trump transition the biggest takeover in history of an organization.

    Seriously?

    MAX STIER, Partnership for Public Service: Seriously.

    You think about the United States government, you’re talking about $4 trillion in spend, four million people, when you include the military, hundreds of different operating entities and the agencies. You have got 4,000 political appointees; 1,100 of them have to go through Senate confirmation.

    No other democracy has that kind of penetration of political appointees in government. It’s a phenomenally complex, important, and critical process that is typically very ill-understood.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what does a president-elect coming in and his or her team, what do they have to get right from the start?

    MAX STIER: Right from the start, they have to understand how difficult this process is, and that history is not sufficient guidance for what has to come going forward.

    Transition is also the point of maximum vulnerability for our country. In a post-9/11 world, getting this right is essential, not just for the president to be able to achieve their policy objectives, but also to keep us safe.

    Job number one is to get your team on the field when the clock starts, and that means January 20 at noon. And that’s not going to be everybody, but our view is, you should have your full White House in place and at least your top 100 Senate confirmed positions that are leading the agencies that are critical to running government.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we look at this and we hear some of the names that have been announced so far by Donald Trump. Most of them either haven’t served in government or, if they have, they haven’t served in the executive branch. Why does that matter?

    MAX STIER: It matters because running these agencies is a phenomenally difficult task.

    And so when you think about running a large organization, and you want people who have done that before, it’s harder in the government than it is in the private sector. Truth is that almost — and I mean this — almost nobody ever comes into the government at the senior levels with having the experience of having done it before. It’s new for everybody. The learning curve is very steep.

    One exception, obviously, is someone like Elaine Chao, who’s both at Transportation and at Labor.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    MAX STIER: But that truly is the exception.

    These are incredibly hard jobs to get right. And as much experience as you have is good, but you really need to contextualize that experience to specific issues you face in government. And that requires a lot of learning fast.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you assess so far — I know we’re still early in the process — that the Trump team is doing in terms of getting its arms around what’s coming?

    MAX STIER: So, I think that they have a long distance still to travel. They did some very, very good pre-election planning.

    Now they’re at game time. They’re obviously naming a punch of people. But naming them isn’t the same thing as getting them into the seats. Clearing conflicts have to happen. They have to go through the Senate confirmation process. They have a background checks that the FBI does. That’s a very difficult process in the ordinary course.

    And for a number of these people, especially with high net worth, very complicated holdings, it makes it even harder. They have got a long distance to travel.

    I think the key here is not to focus on single individuals, but, one, have they adopted the right goals? And, again, that means getting their leaders in place at the beginning, coming to the table with a management agenda, starting right with Congress and with other critical stakeholders, like the career work force, which they will have to run.

    Those are the things that they need to set up now. And then they need to demonstrate this in the next couple of months, that they’re ready to go when they own the place.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And how are these skills that are required right now different from the skills in the private sector? I mean, Donald Trump clearly comes out of the business world. Many of the people he’s named come out of the business world with these early names.

    MAX STIER: Right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There are more to come.

    But what’s different in the muscles that are needed?

    MAX STIER: It’s a great question.

    And I would say one positive is that the government does need smart business principles. And when you get someone who has run an organization in the private sector in a good way, there are great principles that can be transferred over.

    They need the good principles, but government cannot be run like a business, so some differences. Starts with Congress. So, when you’re in the private sector, you don’t have to worry about a board of directors that is in conflict with each other, that doesn’t provide you with a budget, that doesn’t have a capital budget.

    The working-with-Congress piece is phenomenally different and very complicated. You have a high degree of transparency. You have multiple different stakeholders. And you have scale that you almost never see in the private sector that you have in government.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And just quickly, finally, Max Stier, to the public watching out there who doesn’t know a lot or really isn’t that interested in the inner workings of government, why should they care about this?

    MAX STIER: Right.

    Well, fundamentally, this is — it all begins in the beginning. If you get the beginning wrong, you’re playing catchup for the rest of your administration.

    It starts with national security. That’s the core function of our government. Again, transition is the point of maximum vulnerability for our government. We have a lot of enemies out there. They’re looking to see whether or not that baton handoff is clean, that the new leadership is actually ready.

    So, that’s where it begins. But it’s also all the other things we get from our government. In order for that to happen right, we need the new president to be ready on day one, people in place, right goals, a management agenda, and understanding how the whole process works.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Max Stier with the Partnership for Public Service, thank you so much for coming by.

    MAX STIER: Thank you very much.

    The post In a presidential transition, there’s no time for mistakes appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Close up of woman using cell phone touch screen

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: We have spent our share of time looking at how kids and teens spend time with their screens. Now there’s a new survey that finds their parents have some of the same habits.

    The study, which asked for feedback from 1,700 parents of children age 8 to 18, found adults spending more than nine hours a day themselves looking at video screens.

    Yet, even as they are worried about how much time their children spend watching screens, nearly 80 percent of parents felt they were good role models for their kids when it came to this.

    Jim Steyer is the founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, which conducted the survey.

    My jaw is still on the floor about the nine hours. That seems unbelievable. You have got to be counting stuff that I do at work and my laptop.

    JAMES STEYER, CEO, Common Sense Media: It’s astounding to me, too. I thought it was going to be about four hours. Right? I thought it would be four, four-and-a-half-hours.

    The truth is, though, it’s only an hour-and-a-half of work time. So that means seven hours and 45 minutes per day, the average American parent is spending with screen media at home. It was shocking. And they think they’re good role models.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, that’s the other part, that while they try to tell their kids, get off your phone and pay attention and talk to each other, under the table, they’re checking their e-mail.

    JAMES STEYER: That’s exactly right.

    And, actually, I do think that’s what the bottom line about this whole survey is. First of all, nobody ever asked parents. As you mentioned in the opening, we have looked at how much time kids do, whether they’re age 8 to 18 or zero to 8, but nobody ever asked parents.

    And I thought parents were much more controlled. But the truth is, everybody is addicted to their devices these days.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And you actually started to break it down by income level and ethnicity.

    JAMES STEYER: Right.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You started to see some patterns emerged.

    JAMES STEYER: The most interesting pattern is that Latino families are more than twice as concerned about and engaged in their kids’ media consumption as white or African-American or Asian American parents.

    So, there is a big cultural difference, and I think a very laudable one, in the Latino community. They’re more concerned about cyber-bullying, about pornography, about issues. And then they set tougher limits. And I actually think it shows a cultural tendency toward family that’s good, that we should all learn from.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: It also seems to be that the more they know about what their kids are doing, the less worried they are.

    JAMES STEYER: I think that’s true in general.

    Your kids are going to get older sooner than you think, Hari. And when you do know more, I think you relax and think, I can teach them judgment and values.

    But I think parents today are just blown away by the surfeit of digital media platforms that we all live with. They don’t understand Snapchat or Instagram, but they’re using them themselves more than they were once.

    I think the number, nine hours, is shocking. TV is still the number-one medium that parents like, but they are spending time on the same platforms that their kids are.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And how do they feel about social media for their kids?

    JAMES STEYER: Mixed. Very mixed. And I actually think that’s really true about media and technology in general.

    On the one hand, parents think their kids have to learn technology for education, for jobs, for 21st century skills. Like, 94 percent of parents agree that technology is really good. On the other hand, they’re worried about tech addiction, lack of sleep, cyber-bullying, pornography, all the downsides.

    So, it’s a nuanced picture. And I think it reflects the way I feel as a parent of four kids, too. They have got to be there. And actually they have to understand social media. But I’m worried about what might happen to them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And in this day and age, you go to classrooms, so many of them are wired or wireless, and kids are connected to laptops. Sometimes, they’re bringing that software home. It’s necessary for homework.

    JAMES STEYER: That’s right.

    And we believe strongly in that at Common Sense. We now have 130,000 member schools. So, the vast majority of American schools are members of Common Sense Media and use a curriculum we developed with Harvard professors called Digital Literacy and Citizenship.

    So, technology — comma — used wisely — comma — is an extraordinary educational tool. But used inappropriately, it can cause all sorts of problems. And I actually think that’s clearly now as true for parents as it is for our kids.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Were there any clear rules of the road that these parents advocated for?

    JAMES STEYER: Well, it’s interesting.

    As you mentioned in the opening, nearly 80 percent of parents say that they’re good role models. But you would think, therefore, that they’re doing three or four hours a day. The truth is, the big thing that we have seen and we have promoted at Common Sense is what we call device-free dinner, meaning have family meals, not just dinner, but all family meals.

    Get rid of the phones, get rid of your laptops, get rid of all those devices, and just be there with your kids, and create sacred spaces, what our colleague at MIT Sherry Turkle refers to as sacred spaces, where there is just no device in between you and your children.

    So, parents say they do that, but the numbers sort of belie that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What about any kind of long-term effects? Relatively speaking, smartphones are still pretty new in the long arc of technology.

    JAMES STEYER: Yes.

    You know, I think it has an enormous impact on everything from empathy — if you’re constantly looking down at your phone, as opposed to talking to your kid, I think it has an effect on your relationship with that child.

    I think, with younger kids, there’s brain development issues. At my age, I don’t — whatever little brain I have is probably developed as much as it’s going to be. But I think it has to do with long-term effects on family relationships, human interaction.

    And the positives are the educational opportunities, the chance to connect with people around the world. So, it’s all about how you use it, and I actually think setting limits, too, and a healthy media diet.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Jim Steyer, Common Sense Media, thanks so much.

    JAMES STEYER: Great to be here, Hari.

    The post When it comes to screen time, parents are poor role models for kids appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    liberia1

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: how one for-profit school model is being tested to help revitalize a school system in West Africa.

    Our story is in Liberia, a country founded by freed American slaves with a history marked by suffering, including two recent civil wars and the Ebola epidemic.

    Today, the government is trying to rebuild a shattered nation, but a move to employ a for-profit American education company has drawn controversy.

    Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports as part of our weekly education series on Making the Grade.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It’s Friday morning, and the children at this public elementary school are singing patriotic songs that honor their country’s founding by freed American slaves.

    And as the U.S.-inspired flag is being raised, so too are hopes about how public education can be quickly and dramatically improved. These students are part of a grand experiment to see if a private for-profit U.S.-based company can turn things around in a nation utterly destroyed by a 14-year long civil war and a recent battle with Ebola.

    The president of Liberia has called the country’s education system a mess. What did she mean? Consider this statistic: In 2013, not one of 25,000 high school graduates in this country managed to pass the college entrance exam for the University of Liberia.

    The experiment to bring in private partners was designed by Education Minister George Werner, who took office 15 months ago, hired by the president, he says, to act quickly.

    GEORGE WERNER, Education Minister, Liberia: If we stayed the course, followed the traditional ways of doing things, we wouldn’t catch up with our neighboring counterparts.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Werner had been impressed during a visit to Kenya, where the U.S. company Bridge International Academies operates more than 350 private schools.

    In Liberia, where average annual household income is less than $500, Werner knew most families could not afford the monthly $6 fee that Bridge charges per child in those other countries. But he had an idea.

    GEORGE WERNER: What if we had a hybrid for public and private? There are certain things that the private sector does better than the public sector. Government can come up with the policies, but management systems and service delivery, often, the private sector does better than the government.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Werner hired seven private organizations to run a total of 94 primary schools. Bridge, the only for-profit, runs 24 of them.

    Josh Nathan is the company’s academic director.

    JOSH NATHAN, Academic Director, Bridge International Academies: What the government has done in Liberia is quite courageous. They’ve said, we’re struggling with providing children this basic right, so what we want to do is look around, look inside Liberia and outside Liberia, at other people who are succeeding in providing children with an excellent education.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The government agreed to pay the companies directly, so education remains free for families. The companies also provide uniforms, which are required at public schools and whose cost keeps many from attending. When we visited the Bridge school in Kendaja, the semester was only two weeks underway, and many of the uniforms had not yet arrived.

    MAGDALENE BROWN, Principal, Bridge School, Kendaja: Today is a wonderful day for us too.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Principal Magdalene Brown said the improvements were already very apparent. For one thing, there’s a much longer school day. Last year, it was just four hours a day.

    MAGDALENE BROWN: Bridge has us come to school much earlier, like we at 7:30, and then Bridge have us stay on until 3:30 every day. And that means the children will learn better.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Even the students seem to like it more, including 15-year-old Mercy Freeman.

    MERCY FREEMAN, Teachers Union: We come to school on time. We sit in class.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And school actually runs like a school?

    MERCY FREEMAN: Yes.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: There are also new rules, such as no more corporal punishment. And along with new textbooks, every teacher is given a computer tablet and is required to stick to pre-loaded lesson plans.

    Critics of this so-called school-in-a-box approach say it encourages robotic teaching and has allowed Bridge in other countries to hire cheaper, less qualified instructors. That’s less of an issue in Liberia, where Bridge schools retrain teachers who are already working in the school system and where many had their own education disrupted by the civil war.

    In this building, teachers seemed grateful for the guidance.

    Amos Jumanine has taught for seven years, but says he was a late bloomer.

    AMOS JUMANINE, Teacher: I was 17 years when I started ABCs.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: You went to kindergarten learning your ABCs when you were 17?

    AMOS JUMANINE: Yeah, 17.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He is hopeful the new partnership will be good for the students. But he is adamant on one thing that needs to change: Teachers need to be paid more money, especially now that they’re required to work longer hours.

    AMOS JUMANINE: I cannot afford to buy food for myself.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Financially, it’s very difficult?

    AMOS JUMANINE: Yes, financially.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Very difficult.

    AMOS JUMANINE: Very difficult.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Teachers in Liberia earn about $100 a month, and many say they take second jobs just to make ends meet. That contributes to one of the biggest problems in Liberian schools: chronic teacher absenteeism.

    Not only are teachers routinely absent. Many really never existed, just their names on paychecks issued by the schools.

    Education Minister Werner says he’s purged about 1,300 so-called ghost teachers, saving $2 million that was being siphoned away in fraud.

    JOSH NATHAN: The president herself has acknowledged that this is a system that is really a mess.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Josh Nathan says the Bridge schools use software in the teachers’ tablets to track their daily attendance.

    JOSH NATHAN: We think this is incredibly important to creating accountability and being able to watch every single day, where are our teachers, are they where they need to be?

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: For their part, the teachers union is strongly opposed to the partnership program. It points out that these new schools have smaller class size, around 45 to 55 pupils, and receive about $10 to $15 more per student than regular public schools.

    Union leaders say their teachers could get even better outcomes than Bridge if they were given that extra money and smaller classes.

    If you had the right conditions and a better salary, a lot of the problem would be solved?

    MARY MULBAH, Teachers Union: Yes.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And when you argued this, what were you told?

    MARY MULBAH: The ministry, they’re not even listening to the teachers.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Mary Mulbah blames corruption at the ministry for hiring the ghost teachers and alleges the ministry is using its purges to target union activists.

    Immanuel Morris, who was in a government program to train and hire new teachers, says his name was deleted.

    Are you a ghost?

    IMMANUEL MORRIS, Union Activist: I’m not a ghost, and I can prove that.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: They’re calling you a ghost.

    IMMANUEL MORRIS: That is what I’m saying.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And you’re not a ghost?

    IMMANUEL MORRIS: I’m not a ghost.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Union leaders also question whether such programs could be scaled up to serve the 2,750 elementary schools across the country. Minister Werner knows there are risks, but says the government has a moral obligation to take drastic measures.

    GEORGE WERNER: It’s not a panacea. And it may just not work. But we should not just fold our arms and do nothing.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Sixty-one-year-old Marie Jaynes couldn’t agree more. She herself had to drop out of school in fourth grade. She now sells water at the side of the road to support her three grandchildren, their parents killed in the civil war.

    Jaynes says the new school will give her grandchildren a better life than she has had.

    MARIE JAYNES, Grandparent: What hope for them is to go far in school, for them to know the importance of school.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: They are the first of three generations in her family that might enjoy the privileges of at least a primary school education.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” this is Fred de Sam Lazaro in Kendaja, Liberia.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A version of this story aired on the PBS program “Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.”

    Fred’s reporting is a partnership with the Under-Told Stories Project at University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

    The post In Liberia, private management of public schools draws scrutiny appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...

older | 1 | .... | 929 | 930 | (Page 931) | 932 | 933 | .... | 1175 | newer


Loading...