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- 12/27/16--07:57: _Trump taps former B...
- 12/27/16--08:44: _WATCH: Obama and Ja...
- 12/27/16--10:01: _Carrie Fisher, ‘Sta...
- 12/27/16--10:50: _Analysis: GOP unite...
- 12/27/16--11:03: _Column: The 10 most...
- 12/27/16--11:20: _More teachers’ unio...
- 12/27/16--14:50: _Trump raises prospe...
- 12/27/16--15:20: _The best books of 2...
- 12/27/16--15:25: _Four more books our...
- 12/27/16--15:30: _This West Virginia ...
- 12/27/16--15:35: _Aleppo’s survivors ...
- 12/27/16--15:40: _Are we witnessing a...
- 12/27/16--15:45: _What we know about ...
- 12/27/16--15:50: _News Wrap: Japan’s ...
- 12/28/16--13:22: _Israeli prime minis...
- 12/28/16--13:23: _Column: The future ...
- 12/28/16--14:20: _What crimes make im...
- 12/28/16--14:31: _Fans share mental i...
- 12/28/16--14:45: _Column: Why Castro ...
- 12/28/16--14:50: _In a victory for Na...
- 12/27/16--07:57: Trump taps former Bush aide Bossert as homeland security assistant
- 12/27/16--10:01: Carrie Fisher, ‘Star Wars’ icon, dead at 60
- 12/27/16--11:03: Column: The 10 most remarkable deals — and busts — of 2016
- 12/27/16--15:20: The best books of 2016, according to 2 best-selling authors
- 12/27/16--15:25: Four more books our critics loved this year
- 12/27/16--15:35: Aleppo’s survivors face a grim, uncertain future
- 12/27/16--15:40: Are we witnessing a pre-inauguration power struggle?
- 12/27/16--15:45: What we know about Trump’s charitable foundation — and what we don’t
- 12/28/16--13:22: Israeli prime minister calls Kerry speech a ‘deep disappointment’
- 12/28/16--13:23: Column: The future of food looks pretty fishy
- 12/28/16--14:20: What crimes make immigrants eligible for deportation?
- 12/28/16--14:31: Fans share mental illness stories #InHonorOfCarrie
- 12/28/16--14:45: Column: Why Castro was so deeply loved by some, and hated by others
WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump is tapping an experienced national security adviser to serve as assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism.
A statement from Trump’s transition team Tuesday said Thomas Bossert will advise the president on issues related to homeland security, counterterrorism, and cybersecurity, and he will coordinate the cabinet’s process for formulating and executing related policy.
Bossert is the president of the risk management consulting firm CDS Consulting. He previously served as deputy assistant to the president for homeland security under President George W. Bush.
The statement says Bossert will focus on domestic and transnational security priorities alongside the work of Trump’s pick for national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
The post Trump taps former Bush aide Bossert as homeland security assistant appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to speak from Pearl Harbor today at 5:05 p.m. EST. PBS NewsHour will live stream their remarks.
HONOLULU — Putting 75 years of resentment behind them, the leaders of the United States and Japan are coming together at Pearl Harbor for a historic pilgrimage to the site where a devastating surprise attack sent America marching into World War II.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit Tuesday with President Barack Obama is powerful proof that the former enemies have transcended the recriminatory impulses that weighed down relations after the war, Japan’s government has said. Although Japanese leaders have visited Pearl Harbor before, Abe will be the first to visit the memorial constructed on the hallowed waters above the sunken USS Arizona.
For Obama, it’s likely the last time he will meet with a foreign leader as president, White House aides said. It’s a bookend of sorts for the president, who nearly eight years ago invited Abe’s predecessor to be the first leader he hosted at the White House.
For Abe, it’s an act of symbolic reciprocity, coming six months after Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima in Japan, where the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb in hopes of ending the war it entered after Pearl Harbor.
“This visit, and the president’s visit to Hiroshima earlier this year, would not have been possible eight years ago,” said Daniel Kritenbrink, Obama’s top Asia adviser in the White House. “That we are here today is the result of years of efforts at all levels of our government and societies, which has allowed us to jointly and directly deal with even the most sensitive aspects of our shared history.”
More than 2,300 Americans died on Dec. 7, 1941, when more than 300 Japanese fighter planes and bombers attacked. More than 1,000 others were wounded. In the ensuing years, the U.S. incarcerated roughly 120,000 Japanese-Americans in internment camps before dropping atomic bombs in 1945 that killed some 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 70,000 in Nagasaki.
Abe will not apologize for Pearl Harbor, his government has said. Nor did Obama apologize at Hiroshima in May, a visit that he and Abe used to emphasize their elusive aspirations for a nuclear-free future.
No apology needed, said 96-year-old Alfred Rodrigues, a U.S. Navy veteran who survived what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called a “date which will live in infamy.”
“War is war,” Rodrigues said as he looked at old photos of his military service. “They were doing what they were supposed to do, and we were doing what we were supposed to do.”
After a formal meeting in the morning, Obama and Abe planned to lay a wreath aboard the USS Arizona Memorial, which is accessible only by boat. Then they’ll go to nearby Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, where both leaders will speak.
Abe’s visit is not without political risk given the Japanese people’s long, emotional reckoning with their nation’s aggression in the war. Though the history books have largely deemed Pearl Harbor a surprise attack, Japan’s government insisted as recently as this month that it had intended to give the U.S. prior notice that it was declaring war and failed only because of “bureaucratic bungling.”
“There’s this sense of guilt, if you like, among Japanese, this ‘Pearl Harbor syndrome,’ that we did something very unfair,” said Tamaki Tsukada, a minister in the Embassy of Japan in Washington. “I think the prime minister’s visit will in a sense absolve that kind of complex that Japanese people have.”
Since the war, the U.S. and Japan have built a powerful alliance that both sides say has grown during Obama’s tenure, including strengthened military ties. Both Obama and Abe were driving forces behind the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping free trade deal now on hold due to staunch opposition by Congress and President-elect Donald Trump.
Moving beyond the painful legacy of the war has been easier for Japan and the U.S. than for Japan and its other former foes, such as South Korea and China. As Abe arrived in Hawaii, Beijing dismissed as “wishful thinking” the notion that Japan could “liquidate the history of World War II” by visiting Pearl Harbor.
“Japan can never turn this page over without reconciliation from China and other victimized countries in Asia,” said Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman.
As Obama’s presidency ends, there are questions about how U.S.-Japan ties will fare under Trump.
During the campaign, Trump suggested that Japan and South Korea should obtain nuclear weapons so the U.S. would no longer be burdened with the costs of defending them, a disquieting notion in many Asian capitals. But after Trump’s election, Abe became the first foreign leader to meet with him, sitting down in Trump Tower with the business mogul and Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
Though no Japanese prime minister has visited the USS Arizona Memorial, former Japanese leader Shigeru Yoshida visited Pearl Harbor in 1951, six years after Japan surrendered. He stopped there on his way home from signing the San Francisco peace treaty with the U.S. and others, and paid a courtesy visit to the office of Adm. Arthur W.R. Radford.
Other prime ministers have since visited Pearl Harbor and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as Punchbowl.
Associated Press writers Brian Skoloff in Kailua, Hawaii, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Gillian Wong in Beijing contributed to this report.
The post WATCH: Obama and Japanese prime minister meet at Pearl Harbor for historic visit appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
“Star Wars” actress Carrie Fisher died Tuesday, four days after she suffered a “cardiac episode” on a flight from London to Los Angeles, according to a statement released by family spokesman Simon Halls to People Magazine on behalf of Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd. She was 60.
Paramedics rushed Fisher to a nearby hospital after she went into cardiac arrest moments before the plane touched down at LAX, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Fisher famously starred in the “Star Wars” movie franchise as Princess Leia Organa, a whip-smart rebel diplomat whose tightly coiled “cinnamon buns” bookended her face. Openly defiant, Fisher’s portrayal of the spitfire princess became a 1980s feminist icon, decades before Buffy, Katniss and other adventure heroines appeared on the small and silver screens.
“Carrie holds such special place in the hearts of everyone at Lucasfilm it is difficult to think of a world without her,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a Facebook post. “She was Princess Leia to the world but a very special friend to all of us. She had an indomitable spirit, incredible wit, and a loving heart,” she wrote.
“Carrie also defined the female hero of our age over a generation ago. Her groundbreaking role as Princess Leia served as an inspiration of power and confidence for young girls everywhere,” Kennedy added.
Her character, not afraid to use a blaster, was a force to be reckoned with. In a saga crowded with bounty hunters, alien riff-raff and scruffy-looking nerf herders, Princess Leia stood out. Fisher presumably ignored the advice from her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, to “be careful of any weird hairdo” before she played the iconic character in George Lucas’ space opera.
In the opening scenes of 1977’s “Star Wars: A New Hope,” Fisher’s Princess Leia is the first major (human) character to stare down Darth Vader, perhaps the most formidable villain in film history.
“I like Princess Leia. I like how she handles things. I like how she treats people. She tells the truth,” Fisher told NPR in November. “I don’t have a real problem with Princess Leia. I’ve sort of melded with her over time,” she added.
On top of her roles in much more grounded fare like 1986’s “Hannah and Her Sisters,” 1989’s “When Harry Met Sally” and various television roles, Fisher mined her love-hate relationship with Leia for several autobiographical books, including her eighth and final book “The Princess Diarist.” Released in November, the memoir digs up diaries she kept while filming the start of the “Star Wars” trilogy.
However Fisher felt about her place in the galaxy, Leia provided a through-line in her career.
“I’ve always been in ‘Star Wars.’ I’ve never not been in ‘Star Wars,'” Fisher told Rolling Stone in 2015, weeks before her character reappeared as a high-ranking member of the rebellion in “The Force Awakens.”
“But I am eternally in ‘Star Wars,'” she added.
Carrie Frances Fisher was born in 1956 to Hollywood couple Reynolds and Eddie Fisher in Beverly Hills, California. At the age of two, her parents divorced after Fisher left Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor, to whom he was married from 1959 to 1964.
Growing up, she told Charlie Rose in 1994, “I didn’t want to be different than other people and that’s what celebrities are. So being a celebrity kid, that’s the dichotomy. You want to fit in, not stick out. … My fantasy was to be normal.”
At 19, Fisher debuted on the silver screen in the 1975 comedy “Shampoo,” directed by Hal Ashby. Two years later, she would make history in her role as Princess Leia in “Star Wars: A New Hope.”
For many women, Leia embodied a type of strength that was rarely granted to female movie protagonists before “Star Wars.”
But Leia was still an imperfect feminist icon, Fisher told Rolling Stone magazine in 1983, shortly after “Jedi” was released. In the first film of the space opera trilogy, Fisher said Leia was a “soldier” because the “only way [creators] knew to make the character strong was to make her angry.”
By the end of the trilogy, Fisher said screenwriters allowed her character to be more feminine and affectionate, but, in one scene, Leia was chained to a giant gangster slug who couldn’t resist licking his lips at his scantily clad prisoner.
Fisher said a major downside to playing the character was the hair and the costumes, mostly famously, the metal bikini she wore in 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.”
“Let’s not forget that these movies are basically boys’ fantasies. So, the other way they made her more female in this one was to have her take off her clothes,” Fisher told Rolling Stone.
During the late 1970s and 1980s, Fisher struggled with addiction and has discussed her experience with bipolar disorder in interviews and her work. Fisher’s 1987 novel “Postcards from the Edge” was semi-autobiographical, following the aftermath of an actor’s overdose. She adapted it into a 1990 movie directed by Mike Nichols and starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.
She was also a prolific screenwriter and script doctor, especially during the 1990s, when she helped to rework films such as “Sister Act” (1992), “Lethal Weapon 3” (1992) and “The Wedding Singer” (1998).
She is survived by Billie Lourd, her daughter with talent agent Bryan Lourd.
WASHINGTON — Republicans are united on repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law, but ideologically and practically speaking, they’re in different camps over replacing it. Getting the factions together won’t be easy.
Some Republicans would revise and rebrand “Obamacare,” junking unpopular provisions like its requirement that most Americans carry health insurance, while preserving more popular provisions. Others would rip up the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, and not replace it.
President-elect Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders will have to unite the groups on complicated changes affecting the financial and physical well-being of millions of people. For some constituents in fragile health, it’s literally a life-and-death debate.
Republicans have “a really narrow path,” says Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute, a free-market health care research organization. “They’ve got to deal with the politics of this, they’ve got to make sure they come up with good policy, and they also have process challenges.”
Success is not guaranteed, and Republicans may come to regret that their party defined itself as totally opposed to “Obamacare.”
Yet House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady seems unfazed by the challenge. “It’s like tax reform,” the Texas Republican says, explaining that many pieces will be pulled together. “Unlike Obamacare, which ripped up the individual market, this will be done deliberately, in an appropriate timetable.”
Republicans say they will move quickly to repeal the ACA, while suspending the effective date to allow them to craft a replacement. Here’s a look at the GOP camps and who’s in them:
REVISE & REBRAND
Many Republicans may quietly be in this contingent, but fear being accused of promoting “Obamacare-lite.”
They’d strip out some of the ACA’s taxes and requirements. The unpopular “individual mandate” to carry health insurance or risk fines could be replaced with other persuasion short of a government dictate. Rules on insurers would be loosened.
But popular provisions such as protecting those with pre-existing health conditions would be retained in some form, as well as financial assistance for low- and moderate-income people. The requirement that health plans cover adult children until age 26 would be fairly easy to preserve, since employers have accommodated it.
A rebranded version of Obama’s law may well cover fewer people. But its GOP advocates believe most Americans will find their goal of “universal access” politically acceptable when measured against the Democratic ideal of “universal coverage” underwritten by government.
Many GOP allies in the business community favor revising the ACA. That includes major players among hospitals, insurers and pharmaceuticals.
Trump may have given this group some cover by saying that he wants to keep parts of the law, but his bottom line remains unknown.
For budget hawks, unwinding the Obama health law is a beginning. Next they could move on to much bigger objectives like restructuring Medicaid and Medicare, and placing a cost-conscious limit on tax breaks for employer coverage.
Budget hawks see health care as the main driver of government deficits, and they are loath to address that imbalance by raising taxes. Instead they want to rewrite the social compact so individuals accept more responsibility and risk for their health care.
House Speaker Paul Ryan is the most prominent member of this camp, and his “Better Way” agenda is its roadmap. Georgia Rep. Tom Price, Trump’s nominee to run the Department of Health and Human Services, is a budget hawk. Vice President-elect Mike Pence has been in the same orbit throughout his career.
The problem for budget hawks is that the 2016 political campaign did not give them a mandate. Issues like Medicare and Medicaid were scarcely discussed. Trump said he wouldn’t cut Medicare, and sent conflicting signals on Medicaid.
Many Democrats can’t wait for Republicans to follow the call of the budget hawks. Betting that will backfire, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is rallying her lawmakers against “attacks on the ACA and Medicare.”
THE RIP-IT-UP SOCIETY
The most conservative lawmakers want to “pull Obamacare up by the roots as if it never existed,” says Republican political consultant Frank Luntz. That sentiment is embodied by the 40 or so members of the House Freedom Caucus, and it’s probably broadly shared among conservatives.
Some do not believe the federal government should be involved in health care, and they couldn’t care less about replacing the ACA.
“They would say that Obama’s plan has failed,” said Luntz.
GOP leaders may need these lawmakers to advance on replacement legislation; coaxing them to a middle ground might not be possible.
Trump calls the ACA “a disaster,” and that’s pleasing to those farthest on the right. It’s unclear if he’d walk their walk.
At the core of this small group are legislative veterans who understand the excruciating difficulties of getting major bills to a president’s desk. GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Susan Collins of Maine are pragmatists.
They may find support from Republican governors who expanded Medicaid under the health law. GOP congressional leaders could gravitate to this camp.
The biggest challenge for pragmatists will be to win over some Democrats for replacement legislation. While repealing most of “Obamacare” is possible with a simple majority in the Senate, 60 votes would probably be needed for a replacement. There will only be 52 GOP senators in the coming congressional session.
“Republicans need a fancy Rose Garden repeal ceremony…and I expect them to have one,” said Dan Mendelson, CEO of the consulting firm Avalere Health. “On the other hand, there’s 20 million people with health insurance under the ACA, and they don’t want to dump them. There’s no clear path for how to square that conflict.”
The post Analysis: GOP united on repealing Obamacare, but disagree on how to replace it appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
This year saw another bumper crop of remarkable business deals. Even if the volume of mergers and acquisitions fell short of the 2015 record, new mergers and partnerships were formed, and some big ones were busted up. All of these tell important lessons for managers. A few of the same companies show up in my list this year as they did last year, but for difference reasons. Let’s start with the five most remarkable break-ups:
1. Allergan-Pfizer: the last inversion. Last year ended with the blockbuster announcement of the $160 billion deal between Pfizer and Allergan, motivated in great part by tax benefits of “inverting” Pfizer’s domicile to Ireland. This tax accountant’s dream ended brusquely when the U.S. Treasury issued new rules that appeared to disqualify this inversion. Within 24 hours, the deal was dismantled. Lesson: What Caesar gives, Caesar can take away, so don’t base your long-term deal strategy on regulatory arbitrage.
2. Staples-Office Depot and Halliburton-Baker Hughes: the last stand of antitrust? In the same week of Allergan-Pfizer’s demise, two other big merger proposals met their fate, this time by the hands of anti-trust authorities, not the IRS. The $28 billion tie-up of Halliburton and Baker Hughes was cancelled after being challenged by the U.S. Justice Department, which said it was anti-competitive in a long list of markets, from drilling fluids to drill bits. Then Staples and Office Depot lost their case in anti-trust court, and were forced to discontinue their plans for a merger. The lesson here is a question: Will the new regime in Washington maintain these standards of anti-trust enforcement, or will there be a thaw?
3. Wallgreens-Theranos: blinded by the light. Some business combinations died not by the hands of government, but simply by the failure of proper due diligence. What else should we call the cancellation of the alliance of Wallgreens and Theranos? Like many investors, Wallgreens seemed to have been infatuated with the promise that Theranos would make blood tests convenient, cheap and painless. And like these investors, it learned a bit too late that there was less there than met the eye (or the heart). Marry in haste, repent at leisure.
4. Oracle-Hewlett Packard: expensive way to leave your lover. Even long-term corporate marriages can end in divorce — and when they do, it’s often costly. Hewlett Packard (in its original incarnation) in practice ended its long and deep partnership with Oracle, when it brought suit against Oracle in 2012 for violating their partnership agreement. This year a jury awarded HP a $3 billion settlement. This case highlights how tricky “incomplete contracts” can be – coincidentally, two economists received Nobel awards this year for work on precisely that topic.
5. Brexit: surprise, surprise! Who would have thought that Britain would break off before Greece? Even prediction markets were wrong on this break-up of the nation-state partnership called the European Union. The implications for business are many, even if perhaps not as dire as initially thought. More important lessons for business lie in the process that delivered this result. Every merger or partnership has winners and losers inside the organizations of the partners, even if they are often suppressed by the majority view or the view from the top. Organizational leaders everywhere better take note.
But all was not bleak in corporate marriages in 2016. Some bright-eyed pairs tied the knot, even if sometimes a partner was on its second round. What can these newlyweds learn from the deals that have gone before them? Here are the five most remarkable new deals of the year:
6. AT&T-Time Warner and Verizon-Yahoo: AOL-Time Warner redux. Sixteen years ago, AOL and Time Warner tied up in a merger that promised to create value by bringing media content and internet “pipes” under one roof. Nine years later, the combination admitted failure and dissolved. This year AT&T and Time Warner and Verizon and Yahoo are trying to do much the same. Is the time now finally right? Have we learned from failures to now make this kind of integration work? More immediately – will the anti-trust and due-diligence issues that doomed three deals last rear their heads here again?
7. Microsoft-LinkedIn: internet tidal wave redux. Twenty years ago, Bill Gates came down from the mountain and announced to his Microsoft employees that the internet was a tidal wave that they had to rush to get on. This theme was echoed in Satya Nadella’s redirection of Microsoft toward online business models in 2016. Foremost among his moves was the acquisition of LinkedIn, one of the darlings of the social-media and cloud computing tidal waves of today. Consumers again were promised gains from integration. They should remember that the price of this deal was $26.2 billion — the number of miles in a marathon.
8. Tesla and Panasonic: the ghost of Fisher Body. After General Motors acquired Fisher Body in 1926, economists locked on to the case as proof of the benefits of vertical integration. Since then, the auto industry has gone the other way — outsourcing more and more components to outside suppliers. Until Tesla. Together with Panasonic, Tesla opened in 2016 the largest internal supplier of car components in years — its Gigafactory for lithium-ion batteries. Other electric car makers remain content to buy batteries from external partners. The success of Tesla’s big bet on vertical integration will depend, as always, on the economics of contracting as much as on production costs.
9. Bayer-Monsanto: bugs and drugs. The reshuffling of cards in life and plant sciences continued unabated this year, with Bayer buying Monsanto for $66 billion, ChinaChem buying Syngenta for $43 billion, and shareholders approving the $130 billion Dow-DuPont merger. The Bayer-Monsanto deal is the biggest bet on the idea that genetics and biochemistry rule life — whether of plants, bugs or people. The outcome of this bet will say whether plant sciences and pesticide chemistry belong under the same roof as health sciences and pharmaceuticals.
10. Johnson Controls-Tyco: last nail in the conglomerate coffin. The classic conglomerate that was Tyco International has been dividing itself in pieces since 2006 (under Ed Breen, now CEO of Dupont). All told, Tyco spawned six independent companies over this period, many of which were merged into other entities, in a continual remixing of assets. Its industrial gas spin-off was bought by Pentair, Covidien was bought by Medtronic, and in 2016 ADT was bought out by private equity, and Johnson Controls bought the fire and safety business that had kept the Tyco nameplate. Are conglomerates therefore a thing of the past? Hardly. But the success of these spinoffs will help us better see the relative value of corporate diversifications or focus.
One more year into the great business remix, we know that the reshuffling of assets we have been witnessing will continue. The driving forces of technology, globalization and connectivity are too strong for businesses to stay put. In this new world, managers would do well to learn from the remarkable bets and folds of the last year.
The post Column: The 10 most remarkable deals — and busts — of 2016 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Teachers in Fresno, California, and Des Moines, Iowa, have come out against their districts’ efforts to reform how students are disciplined. As we’ve reported, teachers in Indianapolis and New York City registered similar complaints earlier this year. Teachers are arguing that efforts to change student-disciplinary practices—largely in an attempt to address big racial disparities in who gets suspended and expelled—are making their classrooms harder to manage.
The Fresno Bee reports that at the same time district leaders were touting the results from a restorative justice program at one of their high schools, teachers at that high school were circulating a petition demanding a policy reversal. In all, the newspaper reports that at least 70 of the school’s 85 teachers signed the petition against the restorative justice program, a discipline approach that emphasizes having students reflect on their misdeeds and come up with ways to repair the harm they’ve caused.
“There is not a well-defined plan for dealing with student misbehavior, discipline is not consistently enforced, and there is a lack of communication on disciplinary issues. Students are returned to class without consequence after assaulting teachers, both verbally and physically,” the petition declares. “When students face no accountability measures, it undermines the authority of all teachers, and creates a negative campus culture.
One teacher at the high school told the newspaper that she called for a school resource officer—those are police officers stationed in schools—to handle an alleged theft. She said she overheard a student say, “Don’t worry, they won’t do anything.”
One of the school’s veteran teachers told the Bee that many of the school’s educators believe in the ideals of the restorative justice program, but think that the program is being poorly implemented.
District administrators point to drastically lower suspension and expulsion rates and higher graduation rates as proof that the program is in fact working. But earlier this year, Tish Rice, the president of the Fresno Teachers Association, called it all a numbers game.
“Our educators are crying out for help and should not have to wait any longer for the district to create an environment free of violence,” Rice said at a press conference. “The issue is a directive coming from district leadership to get expulsions and suspensions down because there’s this comparison and competition. So now folks are chasing after metrics instead of dealing with the root causes of the behaviors.”
Union leaders in Des Moines have struck a similar tone. The Des Moines Register reports that teachers— and parents—there say that the discipline changes have resulted in kids screaming at and hitting each other and their teachers.
“There’s some really incredible examples,” Andrew Rasmussen, the president of the local teachers’ union, told the newspaper. “That’s the struggle. Where’s the middle ground?”
District leaders acknowledge the gripes, but are sticking by the goals of the new discipline code.
“The line we are drawing in the sand is, unless it’s for safety and security, removing students from class does not diminish problem behavior,” Jake Troja, the director of school climate transformation at Des Moines Public Schools, told the Register. “Sometimes it works out well, and sometimes it gets messy. That’s currently where we are at.”
The post More teachers’ union leaders come out against new student-discipline policies appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
For eight years, President Barack Obama’s foreign policy doctrine has been rooted in a belief that while the United States can take action around the word on its own, it rarely should.
“Multilateralism regulates hubris,” Obama declared.
His successor, President-elect Donald Trump, has derided some of the same international partnerships Obama and his recent predecessors have promoted, raising the prospect that the Republican’s “America First” agenda might well mean an America more willing to act alone.
“The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time,” Trump tweeted days after the UN Security Council approved a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Both Israel and Trump called on the U.S. to use its veto power to block the measure, but the Obama administration instead abstained.
Trump’s criticism of the United Nations is shared by some in his party, including a handful of GOP lawmakers who have called for Congress to withhold funding for the body following the settlements vote.
Some of Trump’s other positions have drawn swift rebuke from Republicans, particularly his criticism of NATO during the presidential campaign and his suggestion that the U.S. might not defend partners that don’t fulfill financial obligations to the longstanding U.S.-European military alliance.
Trump has also challenged the necessity of multilateralism in his economic agenda, pledging to scrap the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord in favor of one-on-one agreements that he says will be more favorable to U.S. businesses and workers.
With Trump still about three weeks away from taking office, it’s unclear how his campaign rhetoric will translate into action. Even as he has criticized the UN and NATO, he has vowed to “aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations” with allies to take on the Islamic State militant group. What those military operations might entail is uncertain, given that Trump’s views on national security have been both isolationist and muscular, including his recent call for expanding U.S. nuclear capabilities.
Richard Grenell, who served as U.S. spokesman at the United Nations during President George W. Bush’s administration and has been working with Trump’s transition team, downplayed the prospect that Trump will withdraw from or even disregard the UN and NATO once he takes office.
“Trump is talking about reforming these organizations so that they live up to their ideals, not about abandoning them,” Grenell said in an interview.
Obama has also been critical of U.S. partners at times, telling The Atlantic magazine earlier this year that some U.S. allies were “free riders” eager for Washington to solve the world’s problems. Obama also has pushed NATO partners to live up to an agreement that they spend at least 2 percent of their country’s gross domestic product on defense, a guideline only a few members adhere to.
But the president’s major foreign policy decisions have highlighted his belief that the U.S. is better served acting in concert with other nations — and that a lack of involvement from allies should be a warning sign to Washington. Both Republican Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush were also proponents of coalition-building before taking drastic action overseas.[Watch Video]
President-elect Trump tweeted this week that the U.S. needs to build up its nuclear arsenal. He also declared that should an arms race occur, the U.S. would triumph over any adversary. John Yang talks to Joseph Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund and Matthew Kroenig of Georgetown University about the reaction to Mr. Trump’s words and the status of American weaponry.
With the support of the UN Security Council and NATO allies, Obama joined the bombing campaign in Libya in 2011. He backed away from plans to launch airstrikes against Syria in 2013, spooked in part by the British Parliament’s refusal to authorize its military to participate and scant willingness among other allies to join the effort.
On the diplomatic front, Obama’s administration worked alongside five other nations to secure a landmark nuclear accord with Iran and partnered with the European Union to level economic sanctions against Russia for its provocations in Ukraine.
Like much of Obama’s approach to foreign policy, his preference for acting as part of a coalition was shaped by lessons learned from the Iraq war he inherited from George W. Bush. While numerous other countries were part of the war at the start, the U.S. had by far the largest commitment and bore the brunt of the casualties and the financial burden. Responsibility for quelling the sectarian violence and instability that consumed Iraq after the 2003 invasion also fell predominantly to the U.S.
During a foreign policy address in 2014, Obama chastised those who criticized him for seeking to share burdens with other countries and who saw working through institutions such as the UN as a “sign of weakness.”
When crises arise that do not directly threaten the U.S. but still demand action, Obama said, “We have to work with others because collective action in these circumstances is more likely to succeed, more likely to be sustained (and) less likely to lead to costly mistakes.”
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Now a look at some of the outstanding books of 2016.
Jeffrey Brown sat down recently with best-selling authors Jacqueline Woodson, the 2016 National Book Award winner for fiction, and Daniel Pink, at Politics and Prose, a popular bookstore here in Washington, D.C.
For Daniel Pink, the highlight of the year was Matthew Desmond’s “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.”
DANIEL PINK, Author, “Drive”: This is an incredible book.
It’s by a guy named Matthew Desmond, who is a sociologist at Harvard. But this is not a dry, academic book. In fact, it almost reads like a novel, a very harrowing novel. He spent about a year living in two different low-income parts of Milwaukee.
And this book, I think, shines a light on things that middle-class people don’t really understand. First of all, most low-income people in this country do not live in public housing. They operate in the private rental market.
The second thing is that they’re spending 60 percent, 70 percent, sometimes 80 percent of their income on housing. And it’s not sustainable. And so what happens, they scrape together money for a deposit. They pay the first month’s rent. Then they can’t sustain it and they get evicted.
And so these evictions are happening not in thousands, but by the millions. It’s actually a virus in the system. And so I consider this book in the same kind of historical tradition as James Agee’s “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,” Michael Harrington’s “The Other America.”
I think this book, if you have a friend who is a public official, hand him or her this book. It’s that important. And this book raises some serious questions about what kind of country do we want to be.
JEFFREY BROWN: This wasn’t on your list, but you know this book?
JACQUELINE WOODSON, Author, “Another Brooklyn”: Yes. I’m just dittoing everything he says about it. It’s such an important book.
JEFFREY BROWN: OK. So, what do you want to start with?
JACQUELINE WOODSON: So, I want to start with “Ghost” by Jason Reynolds, which is considered a — quote, unquote — “middle-grade book,” but it’s for anyone who has ever had a family, ever loved running, ever felt outside of a place.
And this book does everything. So, my 8-year-old loves it. My 14-year-old loves it. I love it. And it just crosses a lot of boundaries in beautiful ways.
And it’s about a young boy who joins a track team. And he comes from an underserved family, a single mom and finds a new family in this track team, but also becomes this amazing runner, and has started out by running away from this tragedy that happens in his family. I won’t give it away.
But it’s such a satisfying story, and you meet all of these amazing young people.
JEFFREY BROWN: OK.
DANIEL PINK: So, I’m going to give this to my 14-year-old runner.
JACQUELINE WOODSON: Oh, cool.
DANIEL PINK: But I will read it first.
JACQUELINE WOODSON: Yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Dan, next?
DANIEL PINK: Well, I have got this book right here.
It’s “March: Book Three” by John Lewis and a couple of colleagues. This is actually a graphic memoir. It’s the third book in a trilogy that John Lewis, the legendary civil rights figure, the current Georgia congressman wrote.
JEFFREY BROWN: He lived it.
DANIEL PINK: He lived it.
And this is about an extraordinary moment in time. It’s 1963 to 1965. And the tumultuousness of that period is breathtaking. And it’s captured, because of the form, I think, in this incredibly cinematic way. This is a book about violence perpetrated against people because of their skin color. This is a book about irregularities in our voting system and the integrity of our democratic process.
This is a book about a world that seems like it’s spinning out of control. So, it’s endlessly relevant.
JACQUELINE WOODSON: I completely agree. I think that’s such an important book.
DANIEL PINK: And what is interesting is that John Lewis actually got interested initially in the civil rights movement because of a comic book. So part of it, he’s paying homage to this tradition that you can tell serious stories and talk about serious issues in graphic form.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Jacqueline, number two?
JACQUELINE WOODSON: While we’re talking about graphics, I have to bring up Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Black Panther.”
He was the first black superhero in 1966. T’Challa comes from a fictional place in Africa and is this amazing superhero. It’s about a lot of stuff that we’re talking about now. It’s about race. It’s about power. It’s about just trying to change the world.
And it’s fascinating. So, I am a big Black Panther fan, even though I wasn’t as a child. I didn’t read comic books. I read “Mad” magazine. But I have turned a corner.
DANIEL PINK: “Mad” magazine is like one of my few formative experiences, absolutely. “Mad” magazine teaches a whole generation of people to be irreverent toward power.
JACQUELINE WOODSON: It’s so true, that question of, you can really do that?
DANIEL PINK: Yes, and get away with it, and you actually make money it from too.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right.
Daniel Pink, number three?
DANIEL PINK: So, I have got this one here, this terrific book called “Lab Girl.”
When I read this book, and I loved it, I was thinking about the pitch meeting for this book, because I can’t imagine it went all that well, because this is a memoir of a geobiologist. I can’t imagine people jumping up and down over this.
But what I love about this book is that this is a great book about science. And there is this one scene in there that I find just unforgettable, where she’s working for her Ph.D., and she discovers something that nobody ever imagined.
And in that moment, she realizes that, an hour ago, nobody knew this thing, and she knew it. And even more than that, at that moment, she is the only person on the planet who knows this thing.
JEFFREY BROWN: So, it’s scientific discovery.
DANIEL PINK: I mean, it’s thrilling. I love this book. I think it’s an important book now.
I don’t think that science has had a good year. I don’t think women have had a good year. So a book by a woman scientist is a great pickup for the end of the year.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Jacqueline, what is in your last for this section of our time?
JACQUELINE WOODSON: OK.
This is a book, “You Can’t Touch My Hair,” Phoebe Robinson. And I was torn in choosing this over the other two books, because of — they’re all phenomenal. And I will talk about the other two later.
But it was because I didn’t think this got the attention that it deserved to get. And people don’t know about it. And it’s a book about race. It’s a book about what it means to grow up female in this country and female and black.
JEFFREY BROWN: I mean, the whole title, “You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain.”
JACQUELINE WOODSON: “Things I Still Have to Explain.”
And, basically, she is talking about what happens when you grow up black, and you have to explain your hair, right? You have to explain people wanting to put their hands in your hair. You have to explain your body. You have to explain — she ends up being the only black girl at an all-white school.
And so there’s a lot of explaining that goes into being African-American, also dates interracially and has to kind of explain that to the black community.
But it’s this dialogue that I think we’re finally beginning to have across lines of race. And she makes people feel safer talking about race.
So I think it’s kind of the gateway into having these bigger dialogues that we need to have in this country, given where this country is right now.
So, “You Can’t Touch My Hair,” Phoebe Robinson, it’s funny. It’s thoughtful. She’s wickedly brilliant and comes to the table with everything from Queen Latifah, to NWA, to Obama, Oprah.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right.
We will continue the discussion online with lots more recommendations.
And I will invite the audience to join us there later on.
For now, Jacqueline Woodson, Daniel Pink, thanks very much.
DANIEL PINK: Thanks, Jeff.
JACQUELINE WOODSON: Thank you.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Right now on our Web site, find holiday book recommendations from “NewsHour” staff. That’s at PBS.org/NewsHour.
The post The best books of 2016, according to 2 best-selling authors appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
What were the best books of 2016? Best-selling authors Jacqueline Woodson and Daniel Pink shared their favorites on our show, but we couldn’t fit all their picks. Here are 4 more favorites.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But first: The number of deaths from opioid abuse continues to climb, topping 33,000 in 2015, according to the federal government.
One of the hardest-hit states is West Virginia, where the impact of the opioid problem can reach elementary schools. It’s not the students who are using, but their parents. Grandparents, foster parents and the schools are figuring out how to cope for the youngest kids.
Special correspondent Lisa Stark with our partner Education Week traveled to Jackson County, West Virginia. It’s the focus of our weekly education series, Making the Grade.
A warning to our viewers: Some of the scenes may be difficult to watch.
LISA STARK: Emily Durst’s fourth-grade class is a lively place. The Cottageville Elementary School teacher likes to combine math with movement and with music.
So, it’s not surprising that 10-year-old Briana Sotomayor looks forward to school and to learning.
BRIANA SOTOMAYOR, Student: I love to write. I write stories all the time.
LISA STARK: Briana came to Cottageville Elementary at the end of second grade. It had been a tough year. She and her sister Riley ricocheted among four schools and three foster homes, ending up at the Sotomayor home.
CARRIE SOTOMAYOR: They had reached a certain point where it was just they didn’t trust anybody. They didn’t believe anybody.
LISA STARK: For the sisters, life had had a rough start, born to a mother addicted to drugs, including prescription pain pills, and a father in and out of jail.
CARRIE SOTOMAYOR: They were able to in great detail tell you how to crush pain medications and mix them with water and inject them, among other things. So, they knew far more about it than I did.
LISA STARK: Carrie and Paul Sotomayor have now adopted the girls, and also a little boy, Zeke, who had been neglected as an infant. Now they’re a family.
PAUL SOTOMAYOR, Father: We have adopted three children, and, lord willing, one more.
LISA STARK: Like Briana and Riley, the fourth child they hope to adopt, a boy, 3 months old, was also born to a drug-addicted mother.
CARRIE SOTOMAYOR: When we brought him through the door, Riley just burst into tears and said, how could anybody have done drugs and hurt this little baby? And it just — it broke her heart.
LISA STARK: The impact of the opioid epidemic on children, parents almost dying from pain pills, fentanyl or heroin, has been on graphic display in pictures released by law enforcement.
The epidemic has hit hard in West Virginia. With more parents abusing drugs, the number of children placed in foster care has jumped 24 percent in five years, to more than 5,000.
Here in Jackson County, local officials saw a spike in overdoses among adults after this aluminum factory shut down in 2009, throwing hundreds out of work. Unemployment is just one of the risk factors that puts West Virginia right at the heart of the opioid epidemic.
It’s also a state with dangerous jobs, not just manufacturing, but coal mining. Workers get injured. They are prescribed powerful opioids for pain relief. That can begin a cycle of addiction.
Jackson County Sheriff Tony Boggs, who is part of a community task force to combat drug abuse, says heroin is now his number one drug problem, after marijuana.
TONY BOGGS, Sheriff, Jackson County, West Virginia: I think in the mid- to late- ’90s, OxyContin was a huge ordeal. It was prescribed, in my opinion, way out of control. It got a lot of people addicted. Once it starts drying up, then they have to have something to turn to. It’s whatever’s easiest and readily available, and that has become heroin.
LISA STARK: This has not gone unnoticed at Cottageville Elementary.
TRACY LEMASTERS, Principal, Cottageville Elementary School: We definitely see that impact. No one is waking them up to get them to school. They’re often late because their parents are sleeping in because they had partied too late the night before. The child has no food. They are hungry when they enter the building. They don’t want to go home on the weekends.
LISA STARK: Principal Tracy LeMasters, who holds a hallway huddle with her staff every morning, regularly checks the local paper to see if any of her students’ parents have been arrested, so she and the teachers can be ready to help that child.
TRACY LEMASTERS: It can be very heartbreaking.
You know, I have — I have preschool students that, freely, at mealtime, talk about their mommies or daddies being in jail.
LISA STARK: And under a new program here, called Handle With Care, law enforcement now contacts the school districts if they have an interaction with a family overnight.
TONY BOGGS: They will know that, hey, that kid had a rough night last night. There’s a reason that they’re acting out in school today, or there’s a reason they are not here today.
LISA STARK: At Cottageville Elementary, the percentage of low-income students is so high, over 90 percent, that everyone gets a free breakfast and lunch.
The school’s 137 students come from the surrounding neighborhoods, including three nearby trailer parks. Principal LeMasters figures about a third of her students do not live with their biological parents, mainly due to drug abuse.
How does that impact you as a principal of a school, running a school?
TRACY LEMASTERS: We assume that everything needs to be provided here. So that means, if they need clothes, we’re going to give them clothes. If they need food, we’re going to get them food. You know, they need love, we’re giving them the hug.
LISA STARK: School counselor Robin Corbin meets with kids three days a week. It’s not enough. The school could use her full time. It’s not in the budget.
So, Corbin last year began enlisting help, turning to employees of a local plastics company to become mentors for students who needed extra support. The kids see it as a weekly half-hour of fun, but it’s really much more.
What are you hoping to accomplish with this program?
ROBIN CORBIN, Counselor, Cottageville Elementary School: Just someone else in their life that they can depend on. That was one of the main things that we ask of these mentors, is that they be reliable and dependable. If they say they’re going to be here Tuesday 11:30, please be here Tuesday 11:30. And they have been fantastic with that.
That’s something that these children don’t have and don’t see, an adult that they can depend on.
LISA STARK: And like many school districts nationwide, this one participates in a national drug prevention education week, holding an essay and poster contest.
WOMAN: Next, we will have our essay award presentation.
LISA STARK: And among the winners, Briana Sotomayor, whose essay spoke volumes.
Do you mind reading us what you wrote?
BRIANA SOTOMAYOR: Sure.
LISA STARK: Is that OK?
BRIANA SOTOMAYOR: Sure.
LISA STARK: OK. I’m going to give you — this is your winning essay.
BRIANA SOTOMAYOR: OK.
“A Better Life.”
“There once was this woman who was on drugs, and I was her daughter. Now she is very sick.”
LISA STARK: Briana goes on to talk about her ambitions: to be a gymnastics teacher, to have a husband and children, to stay away from drugs.
BRIANA SOTOMAYOR: “If I grew up to be like my biological mom, I wouldn’t get any of these things.”
PAUL SOTOMAYOR: It was definitely heart-touching, and to see a girl, especially 10 years old, to really just be honest.
LISA STARK: For Briana and her sister, Riley, there’s a community helping them move beyond their past, from their new mom and dad, to the educators who nurture them.
When I come back and talk to you when you’re 20 years old or 30 years old, what’s going to — what is Briana going to be like then?
BRIANA SOTOMAYOR: Well, I’m going to be old.
LISA STARK: You will be.
BRIANA SOTOMAYOR: But, hopefully, I won’t be on drugs, and I will be succeeding in my priorities and just succeeding in life.
LISA STARK: That’s a lesson these schools are trying to teach all their students.
In Jackson County, West Virginia, I’m Lisa Stark of Education Week, reporting for the “PBS NewsHour.”
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HARI SREENIVASAN: When the Syrian uprising turned into a civil war in 2012, the country’s largest city, Aleppo, became a bastion for the rebel forces that opposed the Syrian regime.
After months of Russian airstrikes, last week, the Syrian government declared the entire city to be within their control. As Aleppo fell, civilians and rebels were escorted out in a historic evacuation.
Special correspondent Jane Ferguson and videographer Alessandro Pavone traveled to the Turkish-Syrian border to meet those who escaped.
A warning: Some of the images are disturbing.
JANE FERGUSON: These are the survivors of eastern Aleppo, battered by years of war and months of unremitting airstrikes. The lucky ones who lived through the siege come here to Turkey for medical treatment.
Shrapnel from an airstrike smashed into Ahmad’s tiny four-year-old body.
His father says that his brother was killed in the same air raid, and that he has had his leg very badly damaged.
Mohanned cradles a severely wounded hand. He is just 17, and says he too was injured by bombs dropping from the sky.
MOHANNED, Injured in Aleppo (through translator): In 11 days, they will do another operation on me, and, God willing, when it is finished, I will go back.
JANE FERGUSON: Outside a Turkish hospital by the border with Syria, the wounded gather.
Two months ago, she says that she was hit with an airstrike, so she has only just now managed to get out to Turkey for treatment. They came here after fleeing Aleppo city, the last major bastion of revolution and revolt against Bashar al-Assad’s rule in Syria.
Government forces defeated the city’s remaining pockets of resistance last Friday, after a siege and aerial bombing campaign by Russian and Syrian warplanes; 35,000 people, including the remaining fighters and civilians, were evacuated in the last two weeks, after tense negotiations.
They joined hundreds of thousands already displaced to other rebel-controlled areas outside the city. A convoy of buses leaving the shattered city became a symbol of the rebels’ defeat. It was a somber exodus of people who once came close to overthrowing President Bashar al-Assad.
One of those who held out to the end was Salah Ashkar, an activist from Aleppo. He spent the final days of the bombardment documenting it on social media, and begging the outside world for help. He fled to Turkey just days ago, still haunted by what he saw in Aleppo.
SALAH ASHKAR, Activist from Aleppo (through translator): Death was following us during the last days we spent in Aleppo. The amount of airstrikes we had there, I don’t think has been seen anywhere in the world, or the types of bombs they dropped on us. The Russian airplanes were constantly in the air, never leaving.
JANE FERGUSON: But, he says, help never came.
SALAH ASHKAR (through translator): The people of Aleppo lost their faith in countries that supported the revolution. Everyone just watched them dying. They watched Aleppo say goodbye to its people. No one helped us, without exception, not America, not France, not Turkey. They just watched.
JANE FERGUSON: For Salah, the revolution is now over. A man wanted by the Syrian regime, if he returns to Aleppo, he risks arrest, torture and execution.
SALAH ASHKAR (through translator): I think I should search for a safe place where I can be free, I can live my life and express my opinion freely. I am searching for a new place to continue my studies. I cannot go back while Assad is in power.
JANE FERGUSON: Neither can anyone who fought with the rebels. On the outskirts of the Turkish city of Antakya, just across the mountains from Syria, we met with these two men hiding in an apartment after fleeing across the border two weeks ago. Cousins who fought together in Aleppo, they were just teenage boys when they joined the rebels more than five years ago.
Now they are broken men. There is no room for bravado here. They have lost the will to fight any longer.
MAN (through translator): Always there were airstrikes. They controlled the whole situation there. There was no point in fighting against them. It is finished. I felt like there is no point staying there. We could not fight airstrikes with rifles.
JANE FERGUSON: They have little hope for the people who fled rebel-held areas of Aleppo.
MAN (through translator): They are homeless, without a future. If they want to work, they will be beggars. They will live in the street, and have no future. Some lost their sons, others, daughters and wives. For them, there is no meaning to life. It is better to die.
JANE FERGUSON: Despite the dangers, others are still inside Syria, helping the people who have run from the government’s advance. In an environment too dangerous for most foreign aid workers, it is often Syrians themselves risking their lives to help their fellow citizens.
U.S.-based Mercy Corps provides food and supplies to many in rebel-held areas. They are only able to do this with the help of those who stayed.
CASEY HARRITY, Mercy Corps: It’s incredibly risky. I think it is impossible to understate the risks that our Syrian colleagues and Syrian NGOs are taking to make sure that people have the services that they need. They are on the front lines of a conflict that has not abated and they are risking their lives every day to make sure that these services reach the people that need them.
JANE FERGUSON: Back at the hospital in Turkey, Mehmet Alver, a pharmacist living nearby, helps those who come for treatment. He has been overwhelmed by the huge numbers running away from the bombardment in Aleppo.
MEHMET ALVER, Pharmacist (through translator): I am a human being. I have children. I have a heart. Look at the situation there. I cannot stay in my house just watching. I cannot do that. This war happening next to me, I cannot close my eyes or close my ears or keep silent. Tomorrow or in the future, that might happen to me.
JANE FERGUSON: After being bandaged and stitched back together, these people can’t stay here, and must now return to Syria. Most of them will have to stay in refugee camps, now that they have lost their homes in Aleppo city.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Jane Ferguson on the Turkey-Syria border.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Now for more on the state of the Trump transition and the last weeks of the Obama administration, we turn to presidential historian and “NewsHour” regular Michael Beschloss, and White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio April Ryan, author of “At Mama’s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White.”
Ms. Ryan, I want to start with you.
It seems President Obama is still leaving his mark on his time here with commutations from federal prisons, even in Gitmo some of the prisoners being transferred out, obviously abstaining from the U.N. vote regarding Israel.
APRIL RYAN, American Urban Radio Networks: Well, he’s going to be president until the very end, January 20, at 12:00, noon, 2017.
And this president has a legacy when it comes to criminal justice. The commutations, he says, will be on par — the pardons and commutations will be on par by the end of his administration with other presidents. But this is a legacy piece that he wants to show and make a mark with.
And then when it comes to Gitmo, that’s been a piece. He’s been wanting to close Gitmo. That’s been one of those pieces that just has not fully worked for him the way he wanted it to, but he still — once again, he’s being presidential.
And as we were talking, he has had a day with the Japanese leader, Abe, and they’re working on issues of trying to show the world how reconciliation could look years after what happened at Pearl Harbor and also talking about a world without any nukes, a hope for that.
So he again is trying to set an example and keep his legacy in place as much as he can until that last moment that he is president in Washington, D.C., next year.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Michael Beschloss, do presidents try to secure their legacies in these last few days? Are there other historical examples of presidents taking significant policy positions or diplomatic stances on their way out?
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian: Sure, they do.
George H.W. Bush in 1992 sent American troops into Somalia for humanitarian reasons, although, in his case, he called up Bill Clinton, the new president, and said, is this OK with you, and Bill Clinton said, yes, I’m for that. Let’s basically be for this together.
And Dwight Eisenhower before he left the presidency in 1961, he broke diplomatic relations with Cuba for a long time. But the difference here is that you have got Donald Trump, who began right after the election doing all sorts of things that were new, like, for instance, the telephone call to the president of Taiwan, all sorts of tweets to make it clear that someone new is going to be in charge with very different views, and very different from, for instance, Ronald Reagan, who waited until a week after he became president to say the Soviets lie, cheat, commit crimes to achieve their ends.
But Reagan felt the time to do that wasn’t during the transition, but right after he was president, when he had the full power of being in the White House.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Michael, does that have a cooling effect or does that impact in any way how the rest of the world perceives the abilities and actions of the current president?
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Sure, it does.
It muffles what President Obama is trying to do. And in the past, usually, a president-elect would be careful about sending a signal that there are sort of two presidents here at once. Or, for instance, in the Eisenhower case, the Bush case that I mentioned, they usually tried to at least do it together with the president who is still there — or — excuse me — with the incoming president.
But we have seen all sorts of precedents shattered by Donald Trump, and this is one more.
HARI SREENIVASAN: April Ryan, these tweets and these sort of disagreements seem to be happening in public and at the same time the incoming White House and the transition team say that there is back-channel communication that continues between President Obama and President-elect Trump.
APRIL RYAN: Right.
And it’s very interesting. I asked some White House officials about that communication, and all they would say is the fact that it’s very interesting that Donald Trump during his time running for the Oval Office would chastise President Obama, talk about Hillary Clinton following President Obama, and now he calls President Obama quite a bit looking for advice or just wanting to talk about issues.
And I find that very interesting, to the point where the president, though, however, no matter how interesting it is, he makes it a point to pick up the phone and call him as soon as he can, call him back, just for the smooth transition that the president was afforded from George W. Bush to his presidency.
So, this president finds it very interesting. And particularly this is a crazy time, as they are watching this president say that if he were running against Donald Trump, he would win, and Donald Trump is going after him on social media, saying, I don’t think so, and then trying to keep the transition working. That’s a very interesting piece by itself.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Michael Beschloss, let’s talk a little bit about the Cabinet, or at least the announcements so far. How do they stack up on different axes, whether it’s gender or race or socioeconomic status?
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Well, even the most ardent Trump supporter would have to say it’s not exactly the most diverse Cabinet on earth, a lot of billionaires and generals in the close entourage, not a great deal of — many women, not a lot of diversity here.
And the interesting thing to me is that John Kennedy, let’s take that example, he was elected 1960 by only 100,000 popular votes, and his electoral vote was about 303, very close to Donald Trump’s.
Yet, Donald Trump, who didn’t win the popular vote and the electoral vote like Kennedy, you know, unlike Kennedy, feels that he can basically do this and doesn’t feel a political need to, you know, make more of an effort with Democrats on the other side.
Kennedy, in his case, said, you know, I was barely elected by the popular vote. I would rather make some efforts to show that I get along with Republicans.
And so he put Republicans at the Defense Department, the Treasury, in key positions to show that he recognized that that wasn’t the most resounding mandate on earth.
HARI SREENIVASAN: April Ryan, this transition team has said that they have been looking for something different.
APRIL RYAN: Well, yes, they are looking for something different, something totally not Washington.
And what we’re getting from many persons that I have talked to, be it Democrat or Republican, there is a general consensus that this is a business approach to social problems, and that, you know, with no governance really.
There are few people who are in the Cabinet who have a governance stance and government knowledge, governing knowledge. But the problem for many is that this is so new and so fresh.
And on racial terms, George W. Bush, I’m thinking back to that administration. George W. Bush had the most diverse racial construct of his Cabinet. Now you go to the next Republican president, number 45, Donald J. Trump, who is listening to his constituency and standing by what he said when he was campaigning, that he didn’t care about being politically correct. It’s going to be very interesting to see.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Michael, how does this transition, at least historically, play out, when you have perhaps captains of industry moving into roles where they’re leading organizations with thousands of people, but they’re different kinds of organizations?
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: It’s one of the biggest experiments or even gambles we have seen in American history.
Donald Trump’s whole thing, and he said this in the campaign, is, I don’t think having political or public service experience is particularly helpful. He essentially said — he even essentially said that he thinks it’s harmful because you’re part of an old establishment that didn’t work.
So, we’re about to see whether this works or not, and four years from now, we will know.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. We will have you back then.
Michael Beschloss, April Ryan, thank you very much.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Great to see you. Thank you.
APRIL RYAN: Thank you.
The post Are we witnessing a pre-inauguration power struggle? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: We begin with politics tonight and new questions surrounding President-elect Donald Trump’s private foundation.
Lisa Desjardins has our report.
LISA DESJARDINS: ‘Tis the season for charitable giving, but charity has been a long-running and controversial topic for President-elect Trump, one that he reignited last night.
He posted two tweets, staunchly defending the Donald J. Trump Foundation, his private charity, as both generous and efficient. But those tweets ricocheted. Some say they are misleading or plain false.
So what do we know? Let’s start with this.
Mr. Trump tweeted: “I gave millions of dollars to DJT Foundation.” And he did. Tax filings confirm Mr. Trump and his companies donated $6 million of his own money to the foundation.
DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: I wanted to make this out of the goodness of my heart.
LISA DESJARDINS: But here’s the issue: Timing. Tax filings show he donated nothing to the foundation in recent years. Instead, most of the foundation’s funding, about $9.5 million, has come from outside donors, including Vince and Linda McMahon, the professional wrestling tycoons. Linda McMahon is now the Trump nominee to head the Small Business Administration. The couple gave $5 million in two years.
Next, this claim from Trump: that all of his foundation money is given to charity. Again, context is critical here. Most of Trump Foundation money did go to nonprofits or charities, but philanthropy may not have been the only motivation. Public documents show foundation funds also went to help settle lawsuits against Mr. Trump, or to political allies, as The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold recently explained to the “NewsHour.”
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, The Washington Post: They gave to this group called And Justice For All, which is a political campaign committee helping Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who, at the time, just happened to be considering, her office was considering whether to pursue an investigation against Trump University. They, later on, after the money came in, decided not to pursue that investigation. Trump paid that money out of the Trump Foundation, which is against the law.
LISA DESJARDINS: Finally, Trump tweeted that his foundation “never paid fees, rent, salaries or any expenses.”
That is true. His children serve as the foundation’s board, and the foundation is run by the staff of the Trump Organization, his business.
Now, that creates an efficient family charity, but has raised some serious questions. Charities are not supposed to directly benefit or overlap with for-profit businesses like the Trump Organization, and that’s one reason the New York state attorney general is investigating the charity.
And all that leads us to what’s next for the Trump Foundation. The president-elect has announced he plans to close it. But, legally, he’s not allowed to do that until the New York investigation is over.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: President-elect Donald Trump has penciled in two more names on his White House staff sheet. He announced today that Thomas Bossert will be assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. Bossert also served under President George W. Bush. And Jason Greenblatt will be special representative for international negotiations. He’s now the chief legal officer for the Trump Organization.
In the day’s other news: Shinzo Abe became the first Japanese prime minister to visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. More than 2,300 Americans died there in the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, hurling the United States into World War II.
Today, Abe joined President Obama in a wreath-laying ceremony before making statements on the occasion.
SHINZO ABE, Prime Minister, Japan (through translator): I offer my sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives here, as well as to the spirits of all the brave men and women whose lives were taken by a war that commenced in this very place, and also to the souls of the countless innocent people who became victims of the war.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The Abe visit came six months after President Obama visited Hiroshima, where the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb.
An outbreak of bird flu in South Korea is now that country’s worst in a decade. The government said today that the number of poultry fowl destroyed will reach 26 million by tomorrow. That has resulted in egg shortages and soaring prices. Meanwhile, a region in China has culled more than 55,000 chickens and other poultry.
Russian search teams today recovered the flight data recorder from the military plane that crashed into the Black Sea. It turned up a mile off Sochi, where the plane went down Sunday, killing all 92 people on board. Investigators brought the device to the surface and sent it to Moscow. They say it is not badly damaged, and could shed light on what happened to the plane.
MAXIM SOKOLOV, Transport Minister, Russia (through translator): It’s too early to make any conclusions. Various causes are being considered. We will receive a big part of the information from the flight recorder that was found. We hope that we will find the other flight recorders as well.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Russian intelligence officials have played down the possibility of terrorism in the crash. They’re focusing instead on possible human error, equipment failure or bad fuel.
Back in this country, melees erupted at a number of shopping malls nationwide last night. Cell phone video captured people getting into fights in at least 15 malls from Colorado to Cleveland. Spooked shoppers ran for the exits, and dozens of people were arrested. Police are saying troublemakers may have used social media to organize the fights.
On Wall Street today, stocks moved slightly higher, in a quiet day of trading. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 11 points to close at 19945. The Nasdaq rose 24, to a new record close, and the S&P 500 added five.
And actress Carrie Fisher of “Star Wars” fame died today at a Los Angeles hospital. She had suffered an apparent cardiac episode on a flight from London to Los Angeles last Friday.
HARRISON FORD, Actor: What the hell are you doing?
CARRIE FISHER, Actress: Somebody has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, flyboy.
HARI SREENIVASAN: It was the role of a lifetime, and for Carrie Fisher, playing Princess Leia Organa defined much of her life.
As she once said: “I have always been in ‘Star Wars.’ I have never not been in ‘Star Wars.'”
From an early age, she knew something of Hollywood fame, as the child of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher.
CARRIER FISHER: I didn’t want to be different than other people, and that’s what celebrities are. So being a celebrity kid, that’s the dichotomy. You want to fit in, not stick out.
CHARLIE ROSE, Host, “The Charlie Rose Show”: With other celebrity kids.
CARRIER FISHER: No, I wasn’t just around celebrity kids.
CHARLIE ROSE: Oh, you wanted to fit in with other normal people who weren’t celebrity kids?
CARRIER FISHER: Yeah. My fantasy was to be normal.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Fisher began her own career in “Shampoo” with Warren Beatty in 1975.
And then, starting in 1977, the original “Star Wars” trilogy made her instantly famous.
CARRIE FISHER: I’m a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Fisher returned in 2015’s sequel, “The Force Awakens.”
CARRIER FISHER: I like Princess Leia. I like how she handles things. I like how she treats people. She tells the truth.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Her screen career included lesser parts as well in “Hannah and Her Sisters” and “When Harry Met Sally.”
She won notice as a screenwriter and author, too, depicting her struggle with drug addiction in 1987’s “Postcards From the Edge,” her semi-autobiographical novel and later movie.
ACTRESS: I’m not doing any drugs.
ACTRESS: We know that, dear. These are businessmen.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In later years, Fisher used her one-woman show, “Wishful Drinking,” to try to balance enduring fame with real life.
CARRIER FISHER: This will really, really impress you. I am in the abnormal psychology textbook. How cool is that? Now, keep in mind, I am a PEZ dispenser, and I’m in the abnormal psychology textbook. Who says you can’t have it all?
HARI SREENIVASAN: Carrie Fisher was 60 years old.
Fisher is survived by her mother, Debbie Reynolds, as well as a brother and a daughter.
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JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister decried Secretary of State John Kerry’s Mideast policy speech as a “deep disappointment” on Wednesday and vowed to work with the incoming Trump administration to contain the fallout from last week’s U.N. resolution calling Israeli settlements illegal.
Netanyahu’s angry statement, delivered at a late-night news conference shortly after Kerry’s address, capped a tumultuous week in which years of tense relations with President Barack Obama boiled over.
“We are not about to be swayed by a mistaken policy that could cause big, big damage,” Netanyahu said, speaking in English. “Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders.”
In a farewell speech at the State Department, Kerry outlined his vision for Mideast peace. While his speech included criticism of Palestinian violence and incitement, his strongest words were aimed at Israel, and its policy of settling its citizens in occupied territories claimed by the Palestinians. He said the continued settlement growth is threatening the possibility of a two-state solution, which Netanyahu has endorsed.
“The settler agenda is defining the future of Israel. And their stated purpose is clear: They believe in one state,” Kerry said.
He also defended Obama’s move last week to allow the U.N. Security Council to declare Israeli settlements illegal, the spark that set off a nearly weeklong diplomatic spat between Israel and its most important ally.
“I must express my deep disappointment with the speech today of John Kerry, a speech that was almost as unbalanced as the anti-Israel resolution past at the U.N. last week,” Netanyahu said.
He accused Kerry of paying “lip service” to decades of Palestinian violence against Israelis, while spending “most of his speech blaming Israel for the lack of peace.”
He repeated his position that Israel is ready to pursue peace through direct negotiations with the Palestinians. Netanyahu, whose government is dominated by West Bank settler supporters who oppose Palestinian independence, says international dictates in favor of the Palestinians undermine the negotiating process.
“Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with the American Congress, Democrats and Republicans, to mitigate the damage that this resolution has done and ultimately to repeal it,” he said. He expressed hope that the Obama administration will not pursue any more moves against Israel at the U.N. in its remaining time in office.
Netanyahu and Obama, who took office in 2009 just months apart, have had chilly relations throughout their tenures.
The Obama administration has been a vocal critic of Netanyahu’s policies and questioned his commitment to peace. Netanyahu has harshly criticized the U.S.-led nuclear deal with Iran.
Although Trump has not outlined his Mideast policy, he has signaled that he will be much more sympathetic to Israel. He has appointed a West Bank settler ally as his ambassador to Israel and vowed to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, over Palestinian objections.
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Global food demand is on the verge of rising rapidly. One driver of demand, of course, is the continued expansion of the population. As noted by the UN Population Division, the world’s population will exceed 11.2 billion by the year 2100, meaningfully above the current estimate of 7.4 billion. This means that between now and the end of the century, we will, on average, add 125,000 people to the planet’s population every day. More mouths, more food.
And what people are putting into their mouths is changing. As incomes have risen and the global middle class has grown, demand for animal protein is rising. But as food writer Michael Pollan notes, “You are what you eat eats.” Before you can consume your steak, the cow itself had to eat. As did the pig that provided your bacon… and the chicken, your drumstick. In fact, it’s estimated that livestock themselves eat a third or more of the world’s food. Richer planet, more calories.
Apologies to animal lovers that may find my analogy distasteful, but one way to think of livestock is as a converter of lower value raw materials (feed) into higher value outputs (protein). Consider beef. A cow, according to Tyson Foods, must consume somewhere between 7 and 9 pounds of inputs to produce 1 pound of output (a feed conversion ratio of about 8). Not very efficient! Meanwhile, the ratio for pigs is slightly above 3 and for chickens is around 2.2.
The combination of more mouths to feed and more protein in each mouth threatens to generate exponential demand growth for food. While this dynamic is alarming unto itself, it’s even more concerning when we factor in the headwinds of climate change that will likely hurt agricultural yields. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute has noted that a 1 degree Celsius rise in average temperatures has the potential to reduce agricultural yields by 10 percent. Warmer planet, less food.
And while climate change can affect food supplies, meat production is proving equally capable of affecting the climate. Note, for instance, that livestock are currently responsible for between 35 and 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, largely by way of their own emissions (a fact that delights 6-year-old boys). But the total also includes carbon associated with energy used for transportation, livestock respiration and the processing and handling of meat. Incorporating these factors leads to some startling conclusions. A cow, for instance, produces up to 30 pounds of carbon for each pound of edible meat; a pig, almost 6. Animals also need water, and lots of it. One kilogram of edible chicken uses 4,300 liters of freshwater, while a kilogram of pork uses around 6,000. Beef? 15,400 liters per kilogram of edible meat! More people, richer people, changing climate.
These dynamics suggest our current food system will struggle to keep up with the growing appetite of a crowded and warming planet. Food riots and unrest risks are rising. What, if anything, can be done?
Technology does offer some hope. Genetic technology has tremendous potential to improve agricultural productivity and lab-grown meat may alleviate some of the environmental footprint from livestock. But there’s an under-exploited strategy at our fingertips that deserves much greater attention. We could shift the mix of proteins the world consumes towards more fish. Fish as a means to fight famine and combat climate change? Yes, fish.
The bottom line is fish are more efficient protein producers that leave a smaller carbon wake and consume less fresh water. Shifting diets toward fish has the potential to meaningfully reduce the growing pressures on the global food system.
For ease of comparison, let’s take a look at farm-raised Atlantic salmon. To begin, the fish has a feed conversion ratio of 1.2, meaning it needs significantly less food to produce edible meat. It also uses less fresh water and produces fewer greenhouse gases. According to Marine Harvest, 1 kilogram of salmon uses 2,000 liters of water and produces 2.9 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent, approximately one-sixth that of beef.
To be fair, farming fish is not entirely sustainable either. As noted in “The Perfect Protein,” a book by Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless, poorly managed aquaculture has been quite harmful to ocean ecosystems. Specifically, he describes the rapid rise of Chile’s salmon industry and how it led to massive disease outbreaks in 2008 and concentrated fish pens generated dead zones as fish waste accumulated. And scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have identified varying levels of toxic pollutants in almost every fish they studied.
Fish farming may not be the perfect long-term solution to address the world’s forthcoming boom in animal protein demand, but it might buy us much-needed time to build out the infrastructure needed to safely transport food from where it is to where it’s needed and to reduce waste. It also offers the prospect of generating new local economies in regions of the world — such as Africa — that have yet to fully exploit the possibilities of aquaculture.
For most of human history, life was characterized by scarcity. Yet today we live in a world of abundance. Think about the fact that there are more obese people than hungry people in the world today. But as the world’s population bulges and diets shift, short-term wants will generate cross-currents against long-term needs. The future has always been uncertain, but in this case, the future looks pretty fishy to me.
Last December, Mayra Machado was pulled over for a routine traffic stop in Arkansas. Turns out she had an unpaid ticket for failing to yield. And as a teen, she’d spent four months in boot camp for writing bad checks. Now 31, the single mother of three, who is an undocumented immigrant, faces imminent deportation to El Salvador, the battle-scarred country she fled when she was 5 years old.
Sylvester Owino, 40, said he survived torture in Kenya as a young activist and came to the U.S. on a student visa, which ran out. A 2003 robbery conviction in San Diego resulted in a nine-year stint in a detention facility. Now, he is part of a U.S. Supreme Court case that will determine whether immigrant detainees have a right to a bond hearing.
The two situations illustrate the variety of crimes that can get immigrants detained and deported, even after they have served a jail or prison sentence for the crime — and even if they are in the country legally. And while the federal government says it targets noncitizens who are serious or repeat offenders, immigrants with minor offenses often are deported.
Immigrants with criminal records may soon come under increased scrutiny. Republican President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to immediately deport “the people that are criminal and have criminal records.” There are, he said, “a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country.”
Immigration advocates say those numbers are inflated, and point to figures that indicate most immigrants are being deported for minor crimes or for no crime at all.
First-generation immigrants commit crimes at much lower rates than do U.S. citizens. But for those who do commit crimes, it’s hard to get a clear picture of whether they are serious or misdemeanors, violent or nonviolent.
Since 2014, the Department of Homeland Security has prioritized deporting noncitizens who pose a serious threat to public safety or national security — and from October 2014 through September 2015, of the 235,413 people who were deported, 59 percent had criminal convictions.
But federal data on criminal deportees does not specify the crimes they’ve committed — or how many of them are undocumented. Technically, if someone is undocumented and entered the country after January 2014, they are considered a high priority for criminal deportation, even if they have committed no other offense.
Further complicating matters: what constitutes a “criminal alien” is not defined in U.S. immigration law or regulations, and is used broadly, according to a September report by the Congressional Research Service. A criminal alien may be someone who is undocumented or an authorized immigrant who may or may not be deportable, depending on the crime they have committed. He or she may be incarcerated or free, or have already served time.
“We see a ton of people deported for misdemeanors, probation violations, petty theft, shoplifting,” said Alisa Wellek, executive director of the Immigrant Defense Project, a legal services group that advocates for immigrant rights in the criminal justice system.
“The federal government has these really overreaching laws on the books, laws that are very unforgiving for anyone who’s had any contact with the criminal justice system — even if you’ve never served a day in jail.”
Noncitizens convicted of an “aggravated felony” face particularly harsh penalties. Congress expanded the definition of the term since 1988 so that they can be deported for a crime that may be neither “aggravated” nor a “felony,” according to Joshua Breisblatt, policy analyst for the American Immigration Council, a pro-immigration research group.
Thirty offenses qualify as aggravated felonies, including theft, failing to appear in court, or offenses that most states consider a misdemeanor or do not criminalize at all, such as consensual sex between a 21-year-old and a 17-year-old, the group said.
Any new offense Congress adds to the list is retroactive. So a noncitizen can become deportable even if he or she already served the sentence for the crime years before.
When she was 19, Machado pleaded guilty to three felony counts: forging a friend’s name on a check, writing bad checks, and failing to appear in court.
Because of her criminal history, Machado is considered a “priority aggravated felon,” according to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official.
Machado, who considers herself “totally Americanized,” is in a detention facility in Louisiana. She is facing deportation any day now to El Salvador, a country where she said she knows no one and cannot read or write the language.
Targeted for Deportation
In 2014, President Barack Obama announced stepped-up deportation for “felons, not families.” At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would be prioritizing deporting noncitizens who posed a serious threat to public safety or national security.
Research by immigration think tanks indicates that serious crimes committed by noncitizens are rare. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that of the roughly 1.9 million noncitizens who are eligible for deportation based on their criminal history, about 820,000 are undocumented. Of those, 37 percent, or roughly 300,000, were convicted of a felony, which can range from murder to attempting to re-enter the country illegally, said Faye Hipsman, an MPI policy analyst.
Another 47 percent, or about 390,000, were convicted of a significant misdemeanor, such as drunken driving. But what constitutes a misdemeanor can vary greatly from state to state, and can be anything from shoplifting to minor drug possession, Hipsman said, and sometimes people with low-level traffic violations get caught up in the deportation pipeline.
But ICE says about 85 percent of people in detention facilities are there because they were considered “top priority” for removal — either they were a threat to public safety or national security, or they were attempting to cross the border illegally, or they were members of a criminal gang, or they had been convicted of a felony, or they were considered “aggravated felons.”
Advocates for limiting immigration, such as Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, urge the incoming Trump administration to get tougher and scrap the practice of ranking crimes to decide who should be deported.
The policy, she said, “exempted too many criminal aliens from deportation and allowed for exemptions based on family ties.”
“All of that resulted in the release of tens of thousands of criminal aliens in the past few years,” Vaughan said. “Many of these individuals went on to commit more crimes, sometimes with tragic results.”
Many local law enforcement officials agree, although many of them ignore ICE requests to detain people without a court order for fear they could be found in violation of immigrants’ civil rights.
The sheriff of Rockland County, Texas, Harold Eavenson, said he has seen more than his share of immigrants committing crimes, including a hit-and-run homicide committed by a man who’d been deported and then came back.
“There should be no doubt at all that anyone who has a criminal history in this country should be deported,” said Eavenson, who is slated to become president of the National Sheriffs’ Association in 2017.
“I’ve seen illegals who have been deported seven or eight times,” he said. “The reason they keep coming back is they know there are no consequences.”
A Closer Look
One way to get a glimpse into the types of crimes immigrants have been convicted of is to look at so-called detainers. Detainers are requests by ICE to local, state and federal law enforcement to hold noncitizens for possible deportation.
Half of the 95,085 immigrants targeted by ICE for possible criminal deportation in fiscal 2015 did not have criminal convictions at all, according to an analysis of ICE data by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. (TRAC has examined detainer requests issued between 2003 and 2015, which it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.)
The rest had convictions for drunken driving (6.7 percent), assault (4 percent), drug trafficking (2.1 percent), burglary (1.8 percent), sale of marijuana (1.7 percent) and traffic offense (1.6 percent). Fewer still had convictions for illegal entry, larceny, sale of cocaine and domestic violence.
All the evidence shows that serious crimes committed by noncitizens are “extremely rare,” said TRAC Director Susan Long.
“The issue is, what do you do when you can’t find that many serious criminals?” she said. “We don’t want murderers and rapists in our midst regardless of their citizenship, but you have to find them.”
A detainer is the first step in a long process and does not always include complete details of a detainee’s criminal history, according to ICE officials.
Mass Incarceration and Black Immigrants
Black immigrants are particularly susceptible to getting caught in the prison-deportation pipeline, said Wellek of the Immigrant Defense Project.
According a 2016 report by the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, a research and advocacy group, more than one in five noncitizens facing deportation for criminal offenses is black. Black immigrants also are more likely than other immigrants to be deported because of a conviction.
Back home in Kenya, Owino was a track star, representing his country in international competitions. He was well-known — and he was outspoken about police corruption and human rights violations, he said, and that made him a target of police. After he was arrested and tortured twice, Owino said, he applied for a student visa and started attending college in San Diego in 1998.
But 18 months shy of graduation, he said, the combination of alcohol and gambling, plus the breakup of his marriage and “bad memories” from his life in Kenya sent him into a downward spiral. Owino dropped out of school and ended up living in the streets — and overstaying his visa. He said he was hungry and desperate when he decided to rob a beauty salon.
“I forced myself and demanded money,” Owino said. “I was super drunk. Police caught me two blocks away.”
No one was hurt, but because Owino brandished a penknife during the course of the robbery, he was sentenced to three years in state prison. After serving most of his term, Owino was transferred to a detention facility, where he waited for nine years to be adjudicated for deportation.
Last year, an immigration judge released him on $1,500 bond. His case, along with that of other immigrants who’ve been held in detention for long periods, is before the U.S. Supreme Court. Oral arguments were heard Nov. 30. At issue is whether it violates the Constitution to subject immigrants facing criminal deportation to long-term detention without bond hearings.
For now, Owino works at a farmers market in San Diego, selling Kenyan food as he waits to hear his fate. He is worried about what will happen to him if he’s deported to Kenya. The police there, he said, have long memories. “They will kill me for sure.”
This story was produced by Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
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“I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that,” Carrie Fisher, who died Tuesday at age 60, told ABC in a 2000 interview. “I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on.”
Fisher, the actress, author and screenwriter, was perhaps as well known as an advocate for mental illness as she was for her iconic role as Princess Leia from “Star Wars.” In the hours since her death, fans have shared a flood of tributes on social media and elsewhere, commenting on her openness in her personal struggle with mental illness and her lifelong efforts to chip away at the stigma.
Many shared their own personal stories, often using the hashtag: #InHonorOfCarrie.
Here’s a look at some of those Tweets, personal accounts and video clips of Fisher herself.
The post Fans share mental illness stories #InHonorOfCarrie appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Acknowledgement of the complicated nature of the Cuban Revolution and the resistance of its leader against the United States government, despite the harsh impact of the U.S. embargo on the Cuban people, unveils a nuanced racial analysis of the United States’ nemesis of over 50 years. In this country, our understandings of heroism have always been informed by an ugly past of racial prejudice and discrimination.While many white Americans associate Castro with communism and dictatorship, many African-Americans associate Castro with liberation – citing Castro’s meeting with Malcolm X and granting political asylum to Assata Shakur as examples. Within the black community globally, Castro’s contributions to anti-colonialist struggles are weighed alongside criticisms of his crackdown on dissent and racial disparities on the island.
Castro’s legacy is one of complexity and controversy and the split in perceptions of heroism and tyranny along racial and ethnic lines goes beyond the contentious relationship between the United States and Cuba. For some, Castro’s vision and implementation of Cuban internationalism, and contributions to anti-colonialist movements significantly impacted the lives of millions of people throughout the world.
He focused largely on medical and educational collaborations and furthering the fight against imperial rule — providing military assistance that led to independence in Namibia and the end of apartheid rule in South Africa. Thousands of Africans have been educated in Cuba over the past five decades with costs of attendance being split between the Cuban government and the government of the student’s nation.
The U.S. turned down Cuba’s offer of medical assistance following Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of the Gulf Coast in 2005. But Cuba’s educational internationalism has still extended itself to the people of the United States. Nearly 2,400 American students — many of whom are of color and from low-income households — were enrolled in Cuban universities during the 2014-2015 academic year.
While Castro is noted for his unwavering commitment to medical, military and educational internationalism in the African diaspora, his legacy among blacks is contrasted by the treatment of Afro-Cubans in his own country. Any forms of dissent and criticism of the revolutionary government have been met with imprisonment, the majority of those are Cubans of African descent. To date, the number of executions carried out by the Cuban government is still unclear but estimates range from 10,000 to 100,000 people, with the last known executions taking place in 2003.Cuba’s human rights record is heavily cited as evidence of Castro’s tyrannical manner of governing the people of Cuba. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Committee on Torture has repeatedly engaged in dialogue with Cuban officials on the subjects of censorship, fair and expeditious asylum procedures, detention conditions, preventive security measures, the death penalty and deaths in custody (most recently in 2012). As of May 2012, the prison population of Cuba totals 57,337, many of whom have been detained for voicing critiques of the government.
But condemnation of Castro and the Cuban government, however, can in turn be said of the United States government as our nation has the highest prison population in the world, gross human rights violations at U.S. detention facilities, including Guantánamo Bay, as well as disproportionate detention and incarceration rates of black and Latino people in the U.S. prisons and immigrant detention centers.
Frankly, the heroes of the United States have not necessarily aligned with the heroes of marginalized peoples of this country nor with the heroes of the Global South. There was a time when Martin Luther King Jr. was labeled an agitator, Cesar Chavez was labeled a communist threat and Nelson Mandela a terrorist, holding a space on the U.S. Terrorist Watch List up until 2008. Even now, as President-elect Donald Trump appoints racists and white nationalists to his cabinet, there are calls for the Black Lives Matter Movement to be labeled a terrorist organization.
Fidel Castro has been and will continue to be one of the most controversial leaders of the 20th century and as we continue national dialogue on the different perspectives of his leadership, we must avoid martyrdom as well as vilification. Just as we condemn the suppression of dissent in Cuba and discuss the demographic makeup of the Cuban prison population, we must also acknowledge the active role Cuba played in the decolonization of Africa and the Caribbean, the training of professionals from these areas and efforts of Cuban medical and educational professionals throughout the Global South over the past 50 years.
As Afro-Cuban poet Aja Monet expressed, “We are multi-dimensional people. We don’t live in the binaries.” We must recognize the complexity of Castro and his legacy and in doing so, make room for just as complex reactions to his passing and his legacy.
The post Column: Why Castro was so deeply loved by some, and hated by others appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
SALT LAKE CITY — President Barack Obama designated two national monuments Wednesday at sites in Utah and Nevada that have become key flashpoints over use of public land in the U.S. West, marking the administration’s latest move to protect environmentally sensitive areas in its final days.
The Bears Ears National Monument in Utah will cover 1.35 million acres in the Four Corners region, the White House said. In a victory for Native American tribes and conservationists, the designation protects land that is considered sacred and is home to an estimated 100,000 archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings.
It’s a blow for state Republican leaders and many rural residents who fear it will add another layer of unnecessary federal control and close the area to energy development and recreation, a common refrain in the battle over use of the American West’s vast open spaces.
In Nevada, a 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument outside Las Vegas would protect a scenic and ecologically fragile area near where rancher Cliven Bundy led in an armed standoff with government agents in 2014. It includes rock art, artifacts, rare fossils and recently discovered tracks.
The White House and conservationists said both sites were at risk of looting and vandalism.
“Today’s actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes,” Obama said in a statement.
His administration has rushed to safeguard vulnerable areas ahead of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. It has blocked new mining claims outside Yellowstone National Park and new oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean.
Obama’s creation and expansion of monuments covers more acreage than any other president.
But Trump’s upcoming presidency has tempered the excitement for tribal leaders and conservationists, with some worrying he could try to reverse or reduce some of Obama’s expansive land protections.
U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, who opposes the Bears Ears Monument, has suggested presidents have the power to undo monuments, though it has not been done before.
A coalition of tribes pushed for the creation of Utah’s eighth national monument, though they asked Obama to make it about 500,000 acres larger than the monument he named Wednesday.
Tribal members visit the Bears Ears area to perform ceremonies, collect herbs and wood for medicinal and spiritual purposes, and do healing rituals.
Navajo Nation President ?Russell Begaye called it an exciting day for his tribe and people of all cultures.
“We have always looked to Bears Ears as a place of refuge, as a place where we can gather herbs and medicinal plants, and a place of prayer and sacredness,” Begaye said. “The rocks, the winds, the land — they are living, breathing things that deserve timely and lasting protection.”
The Navajo Nation is one of five tribes that will get an elected official on a first-of-its-kind tribal commission for the Bears Ears monument. The panel will provide federal land managers with tribal expertise and historical knowledge about the area, federal officials said.
Tucked between existing national parks and the Navajo reservation, the proposed monument features stunning vistas at every turn, with a mix of cliffs, plateaus, towering rock formations, rivers and canyons across wide expanses covered by sagebrush and juniper trees.
Opponents agree the area is a natural treasure worth preserving but said the federal designation would create restrictions on oil and gas development as well residents’ ability to camp, bike, hike and gather wood.
No new mining and oil and gas development will be allowed within the monument boundaries, said Christy Goldfuss, managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Members of Utah’s all-GOP congressional delegation had backed a plan to protect about 1.4 million acres at Bears Ears, while opening up other areas of the state for development.
To many residents in the small, predominantly Mormon town of Blanding that sits near the new monument, the proposal is a thinly veiled, repackaged push from environmental groups who recruited tribes after previous attempts at the designation fizzled out.
In Nevada, retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid has pushed for protections at Gold Butte, a remote area northeast of Lake Mead, but GOP members of the state’s congressional delegation have been vocal opponents.
Bundy is one rancher who does not recognize federal jurisdiction in the area. He was accused of illegally allowing his cows to roam there after failing to pay more than $1.1 million in fees and penalties.
He has pleaded not guilty to charges in the 2014 standoff with U.S. agents trying to round up his cattle.
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