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Last updated: Saturday, May 30 2015 06:43 PM
Saturday, May 30 2015 07:28 PM
If you know anything about Buddhism, you probably know how much of it seems to boil down to advice your therapist might give you. By following even one tenant in the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path — or at least trying to — you are almost guaranteed to improve your life. If the Buddha were alive today, I’m certain he would be a self-help guru. He’d make a damn good one, too.
Although Buddhism is unlike any other religion (in that it does not require belief in a deity), it’s still got some of the classic markers — and the celebration of holidays is one of them. So here, as part of our Holiday Cheat Sheet, is a brief rundown on one of the most important holidays in the Buddhist world: Vesak Day.
Holiday: Vesak (pronounced VEE-sak)
AKA: Wesak or Vesākha
Religion Represented: Buddhism
Celebrates: The life, enlightenment and death of the Buddha
Date: Vesak Day always falls in the spring, but the precise dates vary depending on which calendar is being used — the Chinese, Buddhist, Hindu or Gregorian. In 2015, Vesak Day falls on May 2 (Myanmar), May 3 (Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Malaysia), May 4 (Nepal, India), May 25 (China), June 1 (Thailand, Singapore, Laos, Vietnam) and June 2 (Indonesia).
On a Scale of 1 to 10: Vesak scores a perfect 10, according to my friend Tracey Nguyen, the granddaughter of Buddhist monks. There is nothing more important than the life and times of the Buddha.
Star of the Show: Siddhartha Guatama, AKA the Buddha
Back Story: Siddhartha Guatama was the Hindu-born son of an Indian king born somewhere between 400 and 560 BC. Although stories of his birth vary, most sacred texts hold that Siddhartha was born in a field in the foothills of the Himalayas. He was said to have magically sprung from his mother’s side, bathed in golden light. Siddhartha’s mother died only days later, and Siddhartha was raised by his father and his aunt inside the sprawling walls of the king’s palace. Siddhartha did not see suffering — illness, old age and death — until he was well into adulthood; and, when he did, it deeply affected him. Before the age of 30, he left his home and his crown behind and became an ascetic, or “holy man” — which meant he would wander his country, meditating, and relying on the kindness of strangers for food. His goal was singular: to find an end to human suffering. At one point during his years-long journey, Siddhartha stopped eating and grew desperately thin and weak. When he became too weak to meditate, he finally accepted food. It was at this point that he experienced his “Enlightenment” and became known as the Buddha.
What’s the Deal with Enlightenment?: According to scripture, the Buddha was sitting beneath a Bodhi tree, meditating, when he devised of the Four Noble Truths (the cause of all human suffering) and the Noble Eightfold Path (the solution). This is what is referred to as his Enlightenment. His realization was rather simple: If people followed the Eightfold Path, they could eliminate their suffering (as he had done!) and thereby achieve Nirvana. It was an extraordinary conclusion, and he spent the next 40 to 50 years expanding on it so that others could practice it for themselves. Much revered, Buddha died at the ripe old age of 80(ish.)
What’s the Eightfold Path?: In layman’s term (and, by that, I mean in my terms), they are as follows:
1. Right Understanding: Understand things as they really are (i.e., the Four Noble Truths).
2. Right Thought: Act from a place of loving kindness and compassion; practice letting go of your desire for material things; do no harm.
3. Right Speech: Be courteous; think before speaking; no lies, back-biting, slandering.
4. Right Action: Behave in a peaceful, honorable way; don’t steal or destroy life.
5. Right Livelihood: Make a living in an industry that does not bring harm to others.
6. Right Effort: Extinguish unwholesome qualities (such as greed, anger and ignorance) while cultivating wholesome ones (such as generosity, loving kindness and wisdom).
7. Right Mindfulness: Be aware and attentive of your body, thoughts and perceptions; note how thoughts appear and disappear within you and how deep breathing can make you more in tune with yourself.
8. Right Concentration: Train your mind to meditate in such a way that all judgment of others and ourselves, as well as all desire, goes away, and only pure equanimity is left.
The Food and Fun: Buddhists partake in any number of Asian dishes on Vesak, but consume no meat — a symbol of their compassion for all living things. They also visit monasteries, give to charity, hang lanterns, decorate with flowers, and listen to lessons offered by monks. Often, they’ll have parades of musicians, dancers, floats and dragons. A Baby Buddha statue is a commonality, and celebrants often pour water over the statue to symbolize, among other things, a pure and new beginning. Most importantly, Buddhists reaffirm their devotion to the Buddha’s 10 precepts and teachings.
Conveying meaning to kids: It’s never too early to introduce youngsters to the Buddha and his Eightfold path, and Vesak is a great excuse. You might also might consider making paper lanterns or drawing pictures of lotus blossoms. Show your child some pictures of Buddhist monks. Enjoy a vegetarian meal. Check out some books: I particularly like Buddha by Susan L. Roth. Make a Buddhist flag and fly it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about talking to kids about religion, it’s that it really helps to have props: A menorah on the table during Hanukkah, a nativity scene at Christmas. Consider picking up a Buddha statuette — something for your child to look at and touch while you talk about Buddhism. It’s the difference between books without pictures and those with; you’re just more likely to hold the kid’s attention if you present something interesting for them to look at.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series that appears in Wendy Thomas Russell’s new book, “Relax, It’s Just God: How and Why to Talk to Your Kids About Religion When You’re Not Religious.”
Saturday, May 30 2015 07:16 PM
WASHINGTON — Barring a last-minute deal in Congress, three post-Sept. 11 surveillance laws used against spies and terrorists are set to expire as Sunday turns into Monday.
Will that make Americans less secure?
Absolutely, Obama administration officials say.
Nonsense, counter civil liberties activists.
That heated debate may recede to a simmer if senators, set to meet in an unusual Sunday session, decide to accept a House-passed bill that extends the programs and then send the measure to President Barack Obama to sign before midnight.
While there are compelling arguments on both sides, failure to pass legislation would mean new barriers for the government in domestic national security investigations, at a time when intelligence officials say the threat at home is growing.
“If these provisions expire, counterterrorism investigators are going to have greater restrictions on them than ordinary law enforcement investigators,” said Nathan Sales, a Syracuse University law professor and former Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration.
Until now, much of the debate has focused on the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ telephone calling records. This collection was authorized under one of the expiring provisions, Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Independent evaluations have cast doubt on that program’s importance, and even law enforcement officials say in private that losing this ability would not carry severe consequences.
Yet the fight over those records has jeopardized other surveillance programs that have broad, bipartisan support and could fall victim to congressional gridlock.
The FBI uses Section 215 to collect other business records tied to specific terrorism investigations. A separate section in the Patriot Act allows the FBI to eavesdrop, via wiretaps, on suspected terrorists or spies who discard phones to dodge surveillance. A third provision, targeting “lone wolf” attackers, has never been used and thus may not be missed if it lapses.
Government and law enforcement officials, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have said in recent days that letting the wiretap and business records provisions expire would undercut the FBI’s ability to investigate terrorism and espionage.
Lynch said it would mean “a serious lapse in our ability to protect the American people.” Clapper said in a statement Friday that prompt passage by the Senate of the House bill “is the best way to minimize any possible disruption of our ability to protect the American people.”
And President Barack Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to accuse opponents of hijacking the debate for political reasons. “Terrorists like al-Qaida and ISIL aren’t suddenly going to stop plotting against us at midnight tomorrow, and we shouldn’t surrender the tools that help keep us safe,” he said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.
Civil liberties activists say the pre-Sept. 11 law gives the FBI enough authority to do its job. To bolster their case, they cite a newly released and heavily blacked out report by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog that examined the FBI’s use up to 2009 of business record collection under Section 215.
“The government has numerous other tools, including administrative and grand jury subpoenas, which would enable it to gather necessary information,” in terrorism investigations, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement.
Section 215 allows the FBI to serve a secret order requiring a business to hand over records relevant to a terrorism or espionage investigation. The FBI uses the authority “fewer than 200 times a year,” Director James Comey said last week.
The inspector general’s report said it was used in “investigations of groups comprised of unknown members and to obtain information in bulk concerning persons who are not the subjects of or associated with an authorized FBI investigation.”
But from 2007 to 2009, the report said, none of that material had cracked a specific terrorism case.
“The agents we interviewed did not identify any major case developments that resulted from use of the records obtained in response to Section 215 orders,” the report said.
The report analyzed several cases, but most of the details are blacked out. In some cases, the FBI agent pronounced the 215 authority “useful” or “effective,” but the context and detail were censored.
In 2011, Bob Litt, the general counsel for the director of national intelligence, testified before Congress that the business records provision was used to obtain information “essential” in the investigation of Khalid Aldawsari, a 20-year-old Saudi-born resident of Lubbock, Texas, who was sentenced to life in prison for plotting to bomb American targets in 2011.
In another case, Litt said, “hotel records that we obtained under a business records order showed that over a number of years, a suspected spy had arranged lodging for other suspected intelligence officers.” Those records gave the FBI the information it needed to get a secret national security eavesdropping warrant, he said.
Sunday’s Senate session became necessary after the chamber failed to act before leaving town early on May 23 for a holiday break. The USA Freedom Act, which passed the House passed overwhelmingly, fell three votes short of the 60 needed to proceed in the Senate, and efforts to extend the current law also failed.
If the Senate proceeds to debate the House bill, there still could be a two-week delay before it passes. GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a 2016 presidential candidate who opposes the Patriot Act, has pledged to do all he can to prevent a vote. But if backers get 60 votes without him, he cannot stop the bill forever.
If the USA Freedom Act becomes law, the business records provision and the roving wiretap authority would return immediately. The NSA would resume collecting American telephone records for a six-month period while shifting to a system of searching phone company records case by case.
If no agreement is reached, all the provisions will expire.
A third possibility is a temporary extension of current law while lawmakers work out a deal, but House members have expressed opposition.
The post Will lapse in surveillance laws make the U.S. less secure? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Saturday, May 30 2015 06:21 PM
More than 4,200 migrants trying to reach Europe were rescued from the Mediterranean Sea over the past 24 hours, the Italian Coast Guard said Saturday.
In what was one of the biggest day for rescues in recent years, a total of 4,243 people were saved from fishing boats and rubber dinghies after being found adrift during 22 separate naval operations led by Italy, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and Britain, Reuters reported.
Adding to the growing humanitarian crisis, the Italian Navy on Friday reported 17 dead bodies were found in one of the boats off Libya.
The migrants were taken ashore at Sicily where they will be processed and taken to temporary housing.
Scattered at sea, the migrants face extreme weather changes, hunger, thirst and violence while crammed aboard the flimsy vessels.
In April, about 800 migrants drowned off the coast of Libya when their 20-meter-long fishing boat capsized and sank, Reuters reported.
Fleeing war, poverty and persecution in Africa and the Middle East, the migrants are trying to sail to Europe, where more than 80,000 have landed so far this year. The United Nations says more than 35,000 migrants have arrived in Italy alone since January.
About 1,820 migrants have died or gone missing on the sea route to Europe this year, the International Organization for Migration estimates.
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Saturday, May 30 2015 06:21 PM
He is a former Baltimore mayor and two-term Maryland governor who now works as a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University. Martin O’Malley is known for his sweeping gun control push, cap-and-trade carbon emissions policy as well as his state’s flawed Obamacare roll-out and his now controversial get-tough-on-crime approach. Able to do a mean Johnny Cash impression, he was part of the inspiration behind a character on HBO’s “The Wire.” Here’s where the Democrat stands on eleven top issues.Banks and Wall Street: Separate commercial and investment banks. Increase penalties for financial crimes.
In op-eds and speeches, O’Malley argues for increased structural reform of America’s financial system. He supports reinstating Glass-Steagall, a repealed policy dating back to the Great Depression that separated commercial and investment banks. He has also called for more strict oversight of all financial institutions and harsher penalties for those found guilty of wrongdoing.
Budget: Mix spending cuts with tax increases. Restructure pension plans.
Required by Maryland law to pass a balanced budget, as governor, O’Malley tackled a $1.7 billion deficit by cutting government funding and raising taxes (see more in “Taxes” section below). He also turned to borrowing from the bond market and restructuring the state’s pension program. It is not clear whether O’Malley believes the federal budget must be balanced.
Climate Change: It is real and a “natural threat.” Government should regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
O’Malley believes that climate change is real and called it a “natural threat” on ABC’S “This Week” in April, distinguishing it from “man-made” threats in that interview. In 2007, while governor, he signed a cap-and-trade program to curb greenhouse emissions and established a statewide Statewide Commission on Climate Change with the goal of an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. O’Malley believes hydrofracking should be allowed with strict limits. As governor, O’Malley passed subsidies for wind farms and called for greener waste reduction practices.
Guns: Increase gun control. Ban dozens of assault weapons. Limit size of gun magazines. Require fingerprints to buy a handgun.
The Democrat is a critic of the National Rifle Association and proponent of gun control measures. As governor of the Old Line State, he pushed for and signed sweeping gun control legislation, banning 45 types of assault weapons, limiting magazine clips to ten bullets and requiring anyone purchasing a handgun to enter a fingerprint database.
Immigration: Create a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally. Pass the DREAM Act. Allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates.
O’Malley told the Des Moines Register he supports immigration reform with a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally now. In his interview with ABC’s “This Week,” the Democrat advocated for the DREAM Act, which would give legal status to undocumented immigrants brought to America as children. As governor, O’Malley signed a bill allowing undocumented students in Maryland to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities.
Obamacare and health care: Expand the Affordable Care Act. Move to an “all-payer” system.
An Obamacare advocate, O’Malley supported expanding Maryland’s health insurance options before the Affordable Care Act became law. When implementing the new healthcare law during his tenure, Maryland’s online health exchange saw repeated problems. It was overhauled in 2014. O’Malley supported and approved a unique statewide Medicare waiver, designed to move Maryland hospitals away from a fee-for-service payment method. Considered the nation’s only “all-payer system,” the state sets medical costs, capping what hospitals can charge. O’Malley has said he wants to the system to be a model for the nation.
Social issues: Legalize same-sex marriage. Allow access to abortion. Abolish capital punishment.
While governor, O’Malley sponsored the law legalizing gay marriage in Maryland. A practicing Catholic, he argues the stance squares with his faith’s belief in maintaining “human dignity.”
O’Malley has described his view on abortion as “pro choice”. Aides have said he supported a 1992 Maryland referendum which stated that abortions should be legal, without government restriction, until the time in pregnancy when a fetus can survive outside the womb.
The White House hopeful is opposed to the death penalty, a practice he outlawed in Maryland in 2013. In one of his last acts as governor, in December 2014, O’Malley commuted the sentences of Maryland’s four remaining death row inmates.
Taxes and wages: Use tax increases to fund government programs. Raise the minimum wage. Strengthen union bargaining.
While governor, O’Malley advocated the use of tax increases to fund significant budget items. He signed an increase on the state gas tax to fund transportation projects, a boost in the state sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent and a state income tax change that raised rates for Maryland individuals earning over $100,000 or households making over $150,000.
As part of a campaign against income inequality, O’Malley signed a bill raising his state’s minimum wage to $10.10, phased in gradually. He has since indicated that he could support raising wages to $15 an hour. In addition, he advocates reforming the overtime pay system, and strengthening collective bargaining.
Trade: Block the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
O’Malley recently criticized the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an international trade deal backed by the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans, arguing that it would hurt the middle class. He has since expanded on the point, telling NPR he wants increased labor regulations.
Israel and Iran: Continue negotiations with Iran. Work for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestinians.
Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” O’Malley called the potential of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon one of the world’s greatest man-made threats. He supports ongoing nuclear talks between the Obama administration and Iranian leadership. O’Malley advocates a two-state solution between Israel and Palestinians and has said, as allies, both the United States and Israel need to work to ease the tension between them.
Islamic State and Iraq: No specific stance yet. Congress should set clear parameters for any use of ground troops.
O’Malley has yet to announce a specific policy for how the United States should address the threat from Islamic State and current issues in Iraq. In February, he posted a short statement to Facebook saying that any plan should explicitly define its timeframe and that Congress should pass an Authorization for the Use of Military Force that clarifies the parameters for use of ground troops.
The post What does Martin O’Malley believe? Where the candidate stands on 11 issues appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Saturday, May 30 2015 06:10 PM
GENEVA — A month out from a nuclear deal deadline, the top U.S. and Iranian diplomats gathered in Geneva Saturday in an effort to bridge differences over how quickly to ease economic sanctions on Tehran and how significantly the Iranians must open up military facilities to international inspections.
The talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif were likely to extend into Sunday, a negotiating round that officials described as the most substantive since world powers and Iran clinched a framework pact in April.
That agreement, however, left big questions unanswered, which weeks of subsequent technical discussions have done little to resolve.
Asked about completing the full accord by June 30, Zarif said Saturday, “We will try.”
World powers believe they have secured Iran’s acquiescence to a combination of nuclear restrictions that would fulfill their biggest goal: keeping Iran at least a year away from bomb-making capability for at least a decade. But they are less clear about how they’ll ensure Iran fully adheres to any agreement.
Various Iranian officials, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, have publicly vowed to limit access to or even block monitors from sensitive military sites and nuclear scientists suspected of previous involvement in covert nuclear weapons efforts.
The U.S. says such access must be guaranteed or there will be no final deal. A report Friday by the U.N. nuclear agency declared work essentially stalled on its multiyear probe of Iran’s past activities.
The Iranians aren’t fully satisfied, either.
The unresolved issues include the pace at which the United States and other countries will provide Iran relief from international sanctions – Tehran’s biggest demand – and how to “snap back” punitive measures into place if the Iranians are caught cheating.
President Barack Obama has used the “snapback” mechanism as a main defense of the proposed pact from sharp criticism from Congress and some American allies.
And exactly how rapidly the sanctions on Iran’s financial, oil and commercial sectors would come off in the first place lingers as a sore point between Washington and Tehran.
Speaking ahead of Kerry’s talks with Zarif, senior State Department officials described Iranian transparency and access, and questions about sanctions, as the toughest matters remaining.
They cited “difficult weeks” since the April 2 framework reached in Lausanne, Switzerland, but said diplomats and technical experts are getting back on a “smooth path.”
None of the officials were authorized to be quoted by name and they demanded anonymity.
Iran insists it is solely interested in peaceful energy, medical and research purposes, though many governments around the world suspect it of harboring nuclear weapons ambitions. The U.S. estimates the Iranians are currently less than three months away from assembling enough nuclear material for a bomb if they chose to covertly develop one.
Joining Kerry and Zarif in Switzerland was U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. American nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman and her Iranian counterpart Abbas Araghchi attended, too. European Union negotiator Helga Schmid sat in as well.
Saturday, May 30 2015 05:08 PM
RACHEL TUTERA: My gender identity is really based in both my experiences as a woman– and also it’s just deeply rooted in the f– the fact that I’m masculine…
IVETTE FELICIANO: Rachel Tutera says it wasn’t until she started wearing boy’s clothes as a pre-teen, that she started to feel like the most authentic version of herself. Yet the 30-year-old says shopping for clothes in the men’s department left her feeling insecure and self-conscious. Nothing ever fit her proportions. So she was resigned to thinking that’s just the way it was.
RACHEL TUTERA: I got used to wearing clothes that hid me. I thought I would just end up being someone who would prefer to be overlooked, or not worth sort of a second glance.
RACHEL TUTERA: “Typically you show a little bit of cuff …”
IVETTE FELICIANO: After years of frustration shopping off the rack, Tutera decided to purchase her first tailored men’s suit…and she says the way she felt when she tried it on changed her life.
RACHEL TUTERA: Having something custom-made for my body basically reintroduced me to my body and I have felt, like, incredibly visible in a way that’s not just causing people to take a second look at me, but I think people see me in a way that may actually be aligned with how I see myself. And that has been the most, like, powerful, mind-blowing thing.
IVETTE FELICIANO: The experience made Tutera want to pass that feeling on to others. So she approached the New York based made-to-order-men’s suit company, “Bindle and Keep” convincing the owner that he was overlooking an under-served market…Not only masculine women, but also transgender men and other gender non-conforming people who want well-fitting, men’s suits. She soon became the company’s LGBTQ liaison, serving hundreds of people all over the country who sometimes spend up to 1,500 dollars for their custom made suit.
RACHEL TUTERA: This is not just a need that is being recognized in progressive cities.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Has it been emotional for any of your clients?
RACHEL TUTERA: Yes it has been emotional for sure. Shopping or wearing clothes seems like a really mundane thing. But actually it’s, like, incredibly meaningful and incredibly powerful and it can really, like, make or break an identity.
ANN PELLEGRINI: There are so many different ways to be gender nonconforming. And there’s an explosion of new vocabularies– to talk about it.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Ann Pellegrini is the Director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality at New York University.
ANN PELLEGRINI: Many gender non-conforming people don’t experience themselves as having been born into the wrong body. But– they might find themselves deeply uncomfortable with the kinds of straightjackets of gender. The ways in which, you know, you’re supposed to sort of present, again, this very narrow notion of femininity if you have a female body, a very narrow notion of masculinity if you have a male body.
“I’m not stuck in anybody’s body, it’s just who I am as a person.”
IVETTE FELICIANO: Last month about 17-million people tuned in to watch legendary Olympic gold medalist and cable TV star Bruce Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer. They discussed the long-speculated-upon subject of Jenner’s transgender identity. While Jenner identifies as a woman, he has not yet indicated that a new name or pronouns should be used, and he also says he’s heterosexual, introducing many viewers to a complex gender identity-one that doesn’t fit neatly into a male/female binary.
Yet Ann Pellegrini says even before this big TV. moment, momentum was already building, as recently there has been an explosion of gender non-conforming people in mainstream media, challenging conventional gender roles.
KATIE COURIC: This is the first time an openly transgender person has appeared on the cover of Time Magazine…Why now do you think, Laverne?
LAVERNE COX: Because of the internet and because of social media trans people we our voices now, and we are letting our voice be heard.
JANET MOCK: I think that we are born and we’re assigned a sex at birth. That is a matter none of us have control over. But we do have control over our destinies and over our identities — and we should be respected.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Professor Ann Pellegrini believes that the growing visibility of gender-non-conforming people and the legalization of same-sex marriage in 37 states, has forced the fashion world to acknowledge the presence and buying power of the LGBTQ community.
ANN PELLEGRINI: The really short answer would be capitalism. At the end of the day it’s about seeing that there’s a market.
RACHEL TUTERA: I’ve met a lot of people who say things like they’ve been putting off getting married for ten years because they couldn’t fathom what they would wear.
IVETTE FELICIANO: The research company, Gallup, estimates about 780,000 people have joined same-sex marriages since 2004, when Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize them. Since then, more than a dozen fashion brands that specifically cater to what they call the “unconventionally masculine” have taken off around the country.
IVETTE FELICIANO: And now many mainstream fashion institutions are following suit. In 2012, Ford Models chose female Olympic swimmer and New York artist, Casey Legler, as its newest menswear model. In the same year, Yves Saint Laurent chose a female model as the face of its Spring/Summer menswear collection. Last year, luxury retailer Barneys New York featured 17 transgender models in its spring campaign. And just this year Vogue magazine profiled a transgender model for the first time in the magazine’s history.
ANN PELLEGRINI: None of these designers would be sort of trying to produce clothes that would appeal to masculine women if they didn’t think there were people who could walk in with a wallet and pull out a credit card.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Though mainstream designers are starting to cater to the needs of the LGBTQ community, some shoppers say that sort of acceptance hasn’t trickled down to their stores.
IVETTE FELICIANO: What was surprising to you when just trying to shop at a store– and going into a fitting room?
RACHEL TUTERA: There’s a weird tendency in people to panic when they can’t tell if you’re a man or a woman, or how you or how you may identify.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Rachel Tutera says many gender non-conforming people experience being forcefully removed from gendered fitting rooms by salespeople, and that discrimination and judgment is often inevitable. That’s why three years ago she started a fashion blog called “The Handsome Butch”. The site hopes to empower readers with a simple message, which is that they too have “the right to be handsome.”
RACHEL TUTERA: It was almost like a meditation I had for myself when I was first shopping. It was, “I have the right to be here”. I think I just had to say over and over to myself, “you have the right to be handsome. You have the right to be handsome–” until it actually felt like a right instead of, like– like, a meditation I was trying to convince myself was true.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Tutera’s work will be featured in an upcoming documentary produced by Lena Dunham of the hit HBO series “Girls”. She says the one thing she won’t be tailoring in the coming months is her message.
The post ‘The right to be handsome': As the conversation around gender identity evolves, so does the fashion appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Saturday, May 30 2015 04:54 PM
BALTIMORE — Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Saturday joined the Democratic presidential race with a longshot challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton for the 2016 nomination and tried to stake a position to her left on the economy and Wall Street reform.
“I’m running for you,” he told a crowd of about 1,000 people, serving up a populist message at Federal Hill Park in Baltimore, where he served as mayor before two terms as governor. He said “the urgent work” drawing him into the campaign was “to rebuild the truth of the American dream for all Americans.”
O’Malley has made frequent visits in recent months to early-voting Iowa, where he was headed later Saturday, and New Hampshire, his destination Sunday. Still, he remains largely unknown in a field dominated by Clinton.
Already in the race is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who could be O’Malley’s main rival for the support of the Democratic left.
An ally of former President Bill Clinton, O’Malley was the second governor to endorse Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2007. But he said Democrats deserve a choice in the 2016 primary.
“The presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth … between two royal families,” O’Malley said. “It is a sacred trust to be earned from the people of the United States, and exercised on behalf of the people of the United States.”
He pointed to recent news reports that Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein would be “fine” with either Clinton or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a leading Republican contender and the son and brother of presidents, in the White House.
It was a forceful message that O’Malley will focus on overhauling the financial system, a priority for liberals opposed to the bailouts of Wall Street banks.
“Tell me how it is, that not a single Wall Street CEO was convicted of a crime related to the 2008 economic meltdown? Not a single one,” O’Malley said. “Tell me how it is, that you can get pulled over for a broken tail light, but if you wreck the nation’s economy you are untouchable?”
The 52-year-old O’Malley has spoken often about the economic challenges facing the nation and said he would bring new leadership, progressive values and the ability to accomplish things.
“Our economic and political system is upside down and backward and it is time to turn it around,” he told the crowd. “We are allowing our land of opportunity to be turned into a land of inequality.”
O’Malley has presented himself to voters as a next-generation leader for the party, pointing to his record as governor on issues such as gay marriage, immigration, economic issues and the death penalty.
Just weeks ago, riots in Baltimore broke out following the death of Freddie Gray, an African-American man who died in police custody following his arrest last month.
A few demonstrators gathered near Federal Hill Park to protest O’Malley’s criminal justice policies as mayor, an office he held from 1999 until his election as governor in 2006. “He’s claiming to be this savior of Baltimore, but he’s not,” said Duane Davis, who said he is homeless.
During O’Malley’s speech, there was sporadic shouting from protesters, including one who blew a whistle.
And O’Malley’s speech did not go off without a logistical hitch. Technicians lost audio on an introductory video before he took the stage.
O’Malley was known for his tough-on-crime, “zero tolerance” policies that led to large numbers of arrests for minor offenses. Critics say it sowed distrust between police and the black community. Supporters note the overall decrease in violent crime during his tenure.
O’Malley has defended his work to curb crime, saying he helped address rampant violence and drug abuse. He has said the unrest in Baltimore should wake up the nation to the need to address despair in poor communities.
“Last month, television sets around the world were filled with the anger and the rage, and the flames of some of the humblest and hardest hit neighborhoods of Baltimore. For all of us who have given so much of our energies to making our city a safer, fairer, more just and more prosperous place, it was a heartbreaking night in the life of our city,” O’Malley said.
“But there is something to be learned from that night, and there is something to be offered to our country from those flames. For what took place here was not only about race, not only about policing in America. It’s about everything it is supposed to mean to be an American.”
Megan Kenny, who held a sign that said “stop killer cops” and yelled “black lives matter,” said she thought O’Malley’s decision to run was “a strange choice,” especially because of the recent rioting. She attributed the unrest to his “ineffective zero-tolerance policy.”
The 38-year-old Baltimore resident said she thought O’Malley’s decision to run was “very bizarre and out of touch.”
O’Malley could soon be joined in the Democratic field by former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who plans to make an announcement next week, and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who is exploring a potential campaign.
Sanders has raised more than $4 million since opening his campaign in late April and sought to build support among liberals in the party who are disillusioned with Clinton.
One of O’Malley’s first tasks as a candidate would be to consolidate support among Democrats who are reluctant to back Clinton and eyeing Sanders.
The post ‘I’m running for you': Martin O’Malley announces 2016 ambitions appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Saturday, May 30 2015 04:00 PM
MARTIN FLETCHER: When it comes to Mexico, the news is often of drug cartels…violence…illegal immigration…
But there’s another story in Mexico…America of course has long been a magnet for Mexican workers, but more and more job seekers are coming here to the state of Querétaro. It’s one of Mexico’s smaller states, about an hour’s drive from the capital. It’s a relatively crime-free area. Socially, politically it’s been stable for a long time, and more and more international companies are flocking here.
Of all the cities in the world, this small Mexican town had the highest growth in foreign direct investment in 2013 — that’s money invested directly into local business. And its population is growing rapidly too.
With its colonial center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its new industrial parks, the poster child for Mexico’s burgeoning new economy is here in Querétaro.
Oscar Aguilar, a local journalist, reports on the growth of the town, and the companies investing here.
OSCAR AGUILAR: Bombardier, American Airlines, Aeromexico, Samsung, Honda.
MARTIN FLETCHER: Siemens, General Electric as well.
OSCAR AGUILAR: Yes, yes.
MARTIN FLETCHER: So this means a lot of jobs for the people?
OSCAR AGUILAR: A lot.
MARTIN FLETCHER: Those new jobs are attracting Mexicans seeking stability and safety — like Aguilar himself. He was a journalist in the state of Sinaloa, 700 miles away, until –
OSCAR AGUILAR: The teammate that I had died because of the drug dealers.
MARTIN FLETCHER: How did he die?
OSCAR AGUILAR: They arrived into their house, they broke into their house and shot him into the head. Him, his wife, his two daughters, and the two grandmas that were living there. I said no I don’t, I ain’t gonna expose my life.”
MARTIN FLETCHER: He moved to Querétaro with his wife Anel and daughter, Tammy.
OSCAR AGUILAR: How was your day? Give me my kiss. My kiss. Good.
Queretaro means a town that gave me a job, gave me stability, and gave me an opportunity to grow with my family.
MARTIN FLETCHER: Safely?
OSCAR AGUILAR: Safely.
MARTIN FLETCHER: Last year the murder rate in Mexico declined for the third straight year, though it’s believed that since 2006 at least 70,000 people have been killed in Mexico’s drug wars.
But Querétaro, deep in the country’s interior, has been relatively untouched. It has one of the lowest murder rates in the country.
And now new government reforms aim to bring economic stability and safety beyond small pockets like Querétaro — and extend them to Mexico’s 120 million people.
Mexican finance secretary Luis Videgaray.
LUIS VIDEGARAY, SECRETARY OF FINANCE, MEXICO: Perhaps no other country has had such a successful year as we did last year in terms of changing things in the Mexican economy: in energy, telecommunications, the fiscal front, financial reform. We did many things that better the prospects of growth for Mexico.”
MARTIN FLETCHER: Manufacturing is booming, especially for export. Take the auto industry.
This April, Ford and Toyota said they would expand their manufacturing operations in Mexico. So far this year, auto companies have announced $5.5 billion dollars in plant expansion and construction.
And in 2013, Mexico’s 48-year-old president Enrique Peña Nieto began his term of office with a dramatic series of reforms to open up the Mexican economy even more.
In the energy sector, Peña Nieto broke the 75-year state oil monopoly with a constitutional amendment allowing private companies to invest in the industry.
On education, the government broke the teacher union’s hold on school staffing by passing a bill to stop the sale and inheritance of teaching jobs.
And for the broader economy, Peña Nieto and his allies increased competition by passing new tax and banking reforms.
The president hopes his reforms will bring more success stories like that of Bombardier, the Canadian company that makes the Learjet. Their facility is just a 30 minute drive from the center of boomtown Querétaro.
PILAR ABAROA, COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER, BOMBARDIER AEROSPACE MEXICO: In 2005 there was nothing here. It was a green field.
MARTIN FLETCHER: Bombardier invested half a billion dollars in this division in Querétaro – when we visited last year, the company’s 45 employees had grown to 1,800. Two dozen more aviation companies joined them in the area. And at the time, elements of the new Learjet 85 were meant to be built here in Queretaro.
PILAR ABAROA: We’re manufacturing from here to here – which is the front fuselage, and we’re manufacturing around from here to here, which is the aft fuselage, and we will do the wings assembly too.
But in a sign of how reliant Mexico’s economy is on the outside world, Bombardier announced this January it would shelve the Learjet 85 project and lay off employees here in Queretaro.
Earlier this year, the International Monetary Fund lowered its growth expectations for Mexico’s overall economy on weak demand.
And analysts like S&P Capital’s Joydeep Mukherji say the drug trade still lowers Mexico’s GDP growth by about one percentage point.
JOYDEEP MUKHERJI, S&P CAPITAL IQ: “Mexico is enjoying a boom in certain sectors. But when you step back and look at the rest of– of the country, you see a very different story. So it’s kind of a– two part story going on now in Mexico.”
Still, there are hopes that President Pena Nieto’s government will be able to put its ambitious economic reforms into action for the entire economy.
Those reforms you’re mentioning have been signed into law, but have yet for the most part to be implemented.
LUIS VIDEGARAY: Absolutely.
MARTIN FLETCHER: And the distance from signing a piece of paper to implementing them is a long way.
LUIS VIDEGARAY: Well reform is change, and there’s always resistance to change.
MARTIN FLETCHER: Already the teacher’s union has launched a series of bitter protests,
While analysts — like political scientist Denise Dresser — believe the billionaire leaders of industry will not easily give up their power.
DENISE DRESSER: What Peña Nieto would like to see is a more competitive, level playing field form of economic development. But the vested interests are very strong. And those vested interests are not going to give up without a fight.”
MARTIN FLETCHER: Can Peña Nieto carry out his reforms? What is sure is that he is deflecting Mexico’s narrative away from this, the drug war. To partly this…
From drugs and thugs to manufacturing hubs. That’s the story the government wants to tell. And there’s a lot of truth in the story of Mexico’s industrial growth.
Demand for Mexican-made goods has helped drive the manufacturing sector in the country.
Mexico’s trade with the United States amounts to half a trillion dollars a year, and both sides want that to grow.
Mexico’s already America’s third largest trading partner after Canada and China. And Mexico’s advantages over China are clear – it’s closer, so has lower transport costs. And its labor costs are static, while China’s are growing.
And it’s not just factories that are growing here.
Back in Querétaro, Robert Ibañez manages a growing, state-of-the-art business park — helping put a new face on Mexico, encouraging commercial investors.
ROBERTO IBAÑEZ: We have a commercial center in here, we have two hotels.
MARTIN FLETCHER: Twenty-four companies rent space here, half from overseas.
ROBERTO IBAÑEZ: I have Pepsi Cola, Ericsson, I have Axa Insurance Company.”
MARTIN FLETCHER: Eighteen hundred people work here, and growing fast.
ROBERTO IBAÑEZ: I am going to build nine more buildings.
MARTIN FLETCHER: And how many of those buildings have already been rented out?
ROBERTO IBAÑEZ: Three. I already have three rented.
MARTIN FLETCHER: Still, skilled labor is key to Mexico’s continued growth. So Querétaro’s leaders established an aeronautical university in a vast hangar next to the city’s air field, less than a mile from Bombardier. All its employees trained here.
A hundred graduates a year find jobs in Mexico’s growing aviation industry. And their key market is North America.
This the students’ first exam after three weeks of school. The plane should stay in the air for four seconds…
It’s a work in progress — like the Mexican economy.
The post Amid widespread poverty, boomtowns spur economic growth in Mexico appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Friday, May 29 2015 11:50 PM
JUDY WOODRUFF: More thunderstorms meant even more flooding in Central Texas today, as the death toll from storms over the last week rose to 27. Torrential downpours dumped as much as seven inches of rain in the Dallas-Fort Worth area overnight. Drivers were stranded for hours, as water covered highways and submerged cars. Rescue crews responded to more than 250 calls for help.
For more on this, Hari Sreenivasan spoke earlier with Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who recently toured the hard-hit community of Wimberley.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Lieutenant Governor, you have had a chance over the past 24 hours to see some of the devastation on the ground and from the airport. Describe it to some folks in the rest of the country who might just be seeing these images for the first time.
LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK, (R) Texas: Well, Hari, we have been in the legislative session for the last five months.
So, yesterday was the first day I was able to get down to the Wimberley are. And the pictures do not describe it. I want to give you this example. I was standing in front of a cliff that was about 40-feet high. That would be equivalent to a three- to 4-story building.
The water is normally three-foot deep. When the floodwater hit those homes, that water was as high as 48 feet. It took out homes on top of 40-foot cliffs. It’s unimaginable, trees down everywhere down the entire river, trees that stood for 600 years, hundreds of homes, and most importantly the loss of life, 12 missing or lost.
One body was found 34 miles downstream. If you can imagine the one home that was taken down, Hari, where we lost eight people, they’re still missing, a few bodies have been recovered, it was on stilts about 30 feet high. And the water just rushed down like a tsunami, a 40-foot — 48-foot wall of water, after dark, on Saturday night, in an area that had flooding~, but nothing even close to this in the past.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, given the disaster and the images that we have seen on TV, is this a federal disaster area? Does the state of Texas need help?
LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK: We do. We have already declared — Governor Abbott has declared has declared 70 counties as disaster counties just since the beginning of May, we have had so much flooding.
This flooding, the focus has been on this beautiful town of Wimberley. For people around the rest of the country, this is just a beautiful area of antique stores and retirement places and vacation places, but it’s also known as Flood Alley, because it does flood, but normally three feet to maybe 12 feet. The highest was maybe 20 feet.
So, again, this was at 48 feet at one point. Yes, I think we do need federal help. The state is stepping in, but it’s going to be millions and millions of dollars to reclaim the river and clean up the river. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed. We’re going to need help on this catastrophe.
If you look at it, Hari, you would say it must have been a tornado or a hurricane, but it was literally a river tsunami that hit these people out of nowhere. We had a lot of rain falling upstream that came down. And the good news is hundreds of lives were saved because warning did go out to a number of people down in camps.
About 150 people evacuated very close to before the water hit. The Department of Public Safety, along with the military, rescued a couple of dozen from the air. And the local on-ground fire chief and his team rescued about 115 people from rooftops, hanging on to satellite dishes.
It’s a tragedy that we lost 12. It could have been hundreds.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Finally, Lieutenant Governor, I just want to ask, the weather forecast is not on your side. And there are still rivers above flood stage. It could be worse in parts of your state over the next few days.
LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK: Yes, it could be.
My home is in the Houston area. And I have been there since ’79. I have seen a lot of flooding. I have never seen it as bad in Houston either as it was either over the last couple of days. Dallas was hit hard. Here in our state capital of Austin, buildings that have never flooded, flooded out. San Antonio has been hit hard. And San Marcos has been hit hard south of Austin.
This is the worst flooding maybe in total that anyone can ever remember. And when you get 10 to 15 inches rain over a few hours, small creek beds suddenly becomes rivers, and rivers become tsunamis. And that’s what happened. And the rain continues to pour, and we’re watching it very closely and praying.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick of Texas, thanks so much for joining us.
LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK: Thank you.
The post Texas Lt. Gov. on flood disaster: ‘We are going to need help for this catastrophe’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Friday, May 29 2015 11:45 PM
JUDY WOODRUFF: Kansas Governor Sam Brownback also warned residents of his state to be prepared for high waters, noting that many of the reservoirs are already at flood stage.
President Obama made a last-minute appeal to lawmakers today to extend the authorities of key Patriot Act provisions before they expire at midnight on Sunday. He said a handful of senators are standing in the way of the U.S. government losing surveillance powers that could help prevent terror attacks.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I don’t want us to be in a situation in which, for a certain period of time, those authorities go away, and suddenly we’re dark, and heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity, but we didn’t do so simply because of inaction in the Senate.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling the Senate back into session on Sunday, just hours before the midnight deadline.
Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Dennis Hastert has resigned from his law firm, amid federal charges of misconduct.
Multiple media outlets reported today the misconduct involved sexual abuse allegations by an unnamed man. The Illinois Republican was indicted yesterday and accused of agreeing to pay millions in hush money. The indictment itself didn’t describe the misconduct, but it did say that it involved a person Hastert knew from a high school where he taught and coached from 1965 to 1981.
In Iraq today, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for car bombs targeting two prominent hotels in Baghdad. The blasts lit up the night sky last night, killing at least 15 people and wounding scores more. Hours later, daylight revealed how badly the newly renovated hotels had been hit. Windows were shattered and wreckage was everywhere. A third bomb was defused early this morning.
Islamic State militants also targeted a mosque in Saudi Arabia today, killing at least four people. The explosion erupted outside a Shiite mosque in an eastern port city. The suicide bomber, who was disguised as a woman, detonated his explosives as worshipers gathered for Friday prayers. A week ago, a similar attack killed 21 people.
The U.S. has officially removed Cuba from its list of states that sponsor terrorism. Today’s move paves the way for fully restoring diplomatic relations between the two countries after more than five decades.
But, in Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said negotiations are still under way to determine when to open embassies in each country.
JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: There continue to be issues that need to be worked out. In the discussions that were convened last week, there was important progress that was made. I don’t have a time frame to give you in terms of any specific announcement. But that obviously is among the next milestones here, which is the opening of a Cuban embassy here in the United States and the opening of an American embassy on the island of Cuba.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Top Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner immediately lashed out after the terror designation was rescinded. Boehner charged the Obama administration — quote — “handed the Castro regime a significant political win in return for nothing.”
U.S. surveillance imagery shows China is putting weapons on one of the islands it is building up in the South China Sea. The Wall Street Journal reported that two motorized artillery pieces are on one of the islands, citing American officials. They said it poses no military threat, but it goes against China’s public statements that the reclaimed islands are for civilian use.
The Obama administration released new biofuel usage targets today, scaling back on how much agricultural product must blend with the nation’s fuel supply. The Environmental Protection Agency announced ethanol in gasoline would increase, but not by as much as set out in federal law. It was a blow to the ethanol and farming industries, who have lobbied for higher levels.
The U.S. economy shrank during the first three months of the year after a harsh winter that kept people at home and businesses closed. That government report had an impact on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 115 points to close at 18010. The Nasdaq fell 28 points. And the S&P 500 dropped 13. For the week, the Dow and S&P lost around a percent, and the Nasdaq lost half-a-percent.
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Friday, May 29 2015 11:40 PM
JUDY WOODRUFF: A week that saw global soccer’s top officials arrested on major corruption charges today saw its highest official reelected to run FIFA. Joseph “Sepp” Blatter won a fifth term in office as head of the governing body that runs the World Cup and international soccer, this following what happened Wednesday.
As FIFA met in Zurich, U.S. authorities brought indictments alleging massive corruption within the organization. The only challenger today, Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, conceded defeat after a first ballot left Blatter just short of the needed tally for victory.
The 79-year old embattled FIFA chief spoke shortly after his reelection:
JOSEPH “SEPP” BLATTER, President, FIFA: I take the responsibility to bring back FIFA. With you, we do it, we do it, we do it. And I’m convinced we can do it.
I am faithful man. And I said now God, Allah, or whoever is this extraordinary, whatever it is, spirit in the world that we believe, we believe, they will help us to bring back this FIFA where we shall be. And I tell you and I promise you, in end of my term, I will give this FIFA to my successor in a very, very strong, strong position, a robust FIFA and a good FIFA. We have to work together.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Sepp Blatter’s reelection to head international soccer may seem counterintuitive, given what’s transpired in the past 72 hours. But many countries did support him, and with billions of dollars at stake, geopolitics remain a part of this.
For some further answers and perspective, we turn to Roger Bennett, a soccer analyst and co-host of a show and podcast called “Men in Blazers” on NBC Sports. And Franklin Foer, author of “How Soccer Explains the World.”
And we thank you both for being with us.
Roger Bennett, let me start with you.
How did Sepp Blatter pull off this win today?
ROGER BENNETT, Soccer Analyst: Because there’s no democracy in FIFA.
It takes place in FIFA land, where all he needs is to have a machine like the Chicago politics. It’s Boss Tweed. It’s Scaramanga. It’s Mayor Boss Daley. And every single nation — there is 209, even more than the United Nations — has a single vote. And he did it by pulling together Africa, Central America and also tiny islands that he saluted afterwards, the Cook Islands, the Solomon Islands.
He made them all stand up. He said, Oceania, you’re my Ocean’s 11, which is very brazen behavior for a man who on Wednesday it was announced his organization is being investigated by the FBI, the Department of Justice and the IRS. But it’s a medieval fiefdom that he’s running. It’s no democracy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Frank Foer, he did get these votes. There was a vote that took place and he won most of the countries that were casting ballots.
FRANKLIN FOER, Author, “How Soccer Explains the World”: The Mayor Daley of Chicago analogy is really apt, because he’s run a patriotism system.
He has all sorts of walking money that he has distributed all over the world to these very, very small countries, but it’s a little bit more than that. I mean, he’s also exploited geopolitical divisions, as you said in the introduction, that there is the sense that the global game of soccer was ruled by Europeans.
And he gave the first World Cup to Africa, and he gave one to Asia, and so all these — the politics of colonialism have been superimposed on this. Now, it’s a vile exploitation of that rhetoric, but a very effective one.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But it still is — to come back to this, Roger Bennett, it is still a system where votes were cast. People didn’t have their arms twisted to vote this way, did they?
ROGER BENNETT: Absolutely in no way.
FIFA is run — in the words of the FBI, in the words of the attorney general on Wednesday, they said it turns a World Cup of fraud. They said it’s based on corruption, there’s racketeering. They found wire fraud, so all of the major decisions that geopolitically occur in terms of where these World Cups should happen, who the sponsors should be, they involve — and some of these have been photographed — they literally involve bags of cash.
So when we say these individuals, this is not democratic vote by any stretch of the imagination. It makes it very hard to dislodge. People have tried to dislodge him in the past. He has emerged stronger, as he did today. He slayed his opposition who stood up to him. But he has never met opponents like the FBI, like the Department of Justice and like the IRS. And they are going to be now a mighty foe that he’s going to take on over the next months, and a conversation that is going to pull in global leaders and global brands. And it’s going to be a very fascinating fight.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, but, Frank Foer, does he really emerge stronger after this vote, or is he — is his rule going forward under a shadow because of what happened?
FRANKLIN FOER: It’s under more than a shadow. As Roger said, the FBI and the Department of Justice has now launched this major investigation.
And, look, just like in Chicago, the hope is that you turn the smaller fry and it ends up going to the big kahuna. On top of that, FIFA’s power depends on money. And the money comes from the sponsorship that goes to the World Cup. And it depends on people participating in the World Cup, and there is going to be a lot of noise about major federations withdrawing from FIFA, withdrawing from the World Cup, and if that…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Which is what the U.S. and some Europeans are talking about doing, or not from the World Cup, but withdrawing from FIFA.
FRANKLIN FOER: Exactly, well, which would entail withdrawing from the World Cup, which is a major commitment that would remake the global game.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me come back to you, Roger Bennett.
What do we look forward to in this coming term? We know the investigations continue. Can international soccer continue in any semblance of a normal operation, given what’s taken place this week?
ROGER BENNETT: Sepp Blatter won, but he only won in FIFA land.
The next steps will take place in the real world. We will see what kind of cards the FBI have. I would be fascinated to know what kind of conversations are going on in the boardrooms of Visa, Coca-Cola, Budweiser and McDonald’s, the big American sponsors of this World Cup cycle, now that they know that their brand is being tarnished in the American papers, being linked the 1,200 deaths and rising that are occurring in Qatar through slave labor as they’re setting the stadia for the 2022 World Cup.
But we don’t have to wait that long to find out what Sepp Blatter’s next move. The women’s World Cup kicks off in Canada next week. It is going to be fascinating to see which of FIFA’s leaders, whether Sepp Blatter himself will turn up for his great tournament that is going to take place with the world watching across Canada, or whether he fears an extradition treaty and rumors that he will be arrested as soon as he sets foot in Canada. It will be fascinating to watch.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Frank, you were going to add something.
FRANKLIN FOER: Well, two points here.
One is, he’s always been very disparaging of the women’s game. And that’s one among his many sins. Secondly, we shouldn’t let these U.S. corporations off the hook. Everybody’s known about FIFA’s corruption for well over a decade and everybody played along in this corrupt system.
The United States Soccer Federation played along in this corrupt system. And that’s the way that corruption works. That’s the way that he has prevailed even today, which is that the system continues until it collapsed. And our tolerance for it is really just kind of an astonishing fact of modernity.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just very quickly to both of you and finally, Frank, why should people — there are a lot of people watching who may not pay attention to soccer. Why does this matter to everyone else watching?
FRANKLIN FOER: Well, first of all, this is corruption on a world, historic, grand scale.
There are very few organizations that have kind of built themselves up, and with such brazen, out-in-the-open, venal behavior. And it’s persisted for a very long time. And to watch it collapse, as it is collapsing, even if today’s election didn’t throw out the dictator, is an amazing thing to watch. It’s important.
Secondly, there are human consequences. There’s the death toll that Roger described. There are all the stadia that were built in all these countries, which sucked money from the public coffers. You see these stadiums in just the most ridiculous outreaches of Brazil that are never going to be used ever again.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Roger Bennett, what would you add finally to why those who don’t follow soccer should pay attention?
ROGER BENNETT: I mean, the FBI case revolves around hundreds of millions of dollars of money, wire fraud, racketeering, bribery taking place on American soil.
The lead protagonist is a whistle-blower, Chuck Blazer, who lived in the Trump Tower, and had creamed off enough money to have a huge floor for his own use and a $6,000-a-month apartment just for his own cats. He’s turned evidence. They’re now trying to roll up with his evidence, and try and roll it up like Avon Barksdale in “The Wire” and land Sepp Blatter.
But this is an American story that’s taken place in America, the crimes have taken place here. And if America cracks FIFA, it will be their greatest gift to the world since the Marshall Plan.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s an extraordinary story. And we thank both of you, Roger Bennett, Frank Foer.
Thank you both.
ROGER BENNETT: Thank you, Judy.
FRANKLIN FOER: Thanks.
The post Re-elected FIFA president Blatter faces corruption fallout appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Friday, May 29 2015 11:35 PM
JUDY WOODRUFF: This week, the United States changed the way it looks at one our most precious resources, water. The Environmental Protection Agency finalized a new rule about what kinds of waterways it protects, to include things like tributaries.
The change has brought both applause and sharp criticism.
Our political editor, Lisa Desjardins, reports on what this shift means.
SEAN O’BYRNE, Owner, Great Waters Brew Pub: What can I get you guys?
LISA DESJARDINS: Sean O’Byrne owns the Great Waters Brew Pub in downtown Saint Paul, and the main ingredient in the beer he crafts is local well water.
For the past several years, a kind of fear has mounted for him, that some of the protections initially offered by the 1972 Clean Water Act have eroded, putting Minnesota’s great waters at risk.
SEAN O’BYRNE: I’m a little scared at what people are trying to do to it, take some of the teeth out of it.
LISA DESJARDINS: That’s why he’s cheering the new rule finalized this week by the Environmental Protection Agency, a rule meant to clarify which bodies of water can be regulated by the federal government.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy:
GINA MCCARTHY, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency: We crafted these rules because we have a statue that’s over 40 years old and nobody yet has defined its jurisdiction well. We know we’re seeing waters that are extremely important being degraded or polluted while we sit and think about it.
LISA DESJARDINS: McCarthy says some 60 percent of all streams, tributaries and wetlands in this country were not specifically safeguarded before. Under this rule, they will be.
GINA MCCARTHY: One hundred and seventeen million people rely on those streams that are now tenuously protected or not. And we need to define a strategy to protect them, because people rely on them for drinking water.
KEVIN PAAP, Farmer: This would be an example of the soybean field.
LISA DESJARDINS: But not everyone is cheering the EPA’s action. Kevin Paap farms soybeans and corn on this fourth-generation farm located 90 minutes west of the Twin Cities. He fears the new rule means that some of his irrigation ditches, necessary to drain extra water off his fields, will suddenly be regulated.
KEVIN PAAP: This has got water in it, water running today because we had an inch and nine-hundredths yesterday during the day. So the system is working. It’s taking that excess water out. If this ditch gets classified as water of the U.S., will I require a permit? As we put on our crop protection products, as we deal with replacing nutrients that the crops takes up, I don’t want to have to get a permit if all of a sudden I find a pest out there or a weed outbreak.
LISA DESJARDINS: But ask the EPA about current farming, and the agency insists it won’t be affected.
GINA MCCARTHY: It’s tributaries only. Now there are some ditches that were constructed in a tributary or that have frequent enough flow duration and volume to create these features. They’re called tributaries, not ditches.
LISA DESJARDINS: But a farmer might call that a ditch. To a farmer, that’s an irrigation ditch.
GINA MCCARTHY: The farmers will know very clearly here we are clearly explaining that irrigation ditches are not included. We have clearly said in the rule and beyond this rule adds absolutely no new regulatory or permitting issue for agriculture whatsoever.
LISA DESJARDINS: Farmer Paap isn’t convinced. He thinks this is nothing more than a power grab by a federal agency.
KEVIN PAAP: We’re happy with the Clean Water Act as it was put together in 1972, where it gives that authority to the states. Navigable waters have to be federally regulated because of commerce and things like that.
State waters, whether it’s a wetland, whether it’s an area where there is water in it only a few days the month or days of the year, that’s really the state’s role, the state’s responsibility. We don’t want to see another layer on top. We don’t need two levels of bureaucracy to do the same thing.
JILL BATHKE, MN Center for Environmental Advocacy: Phosphorus and nitrogen are a big problem in Minnesota waterways, and a lot of it comes from agricultural pollution. It also comes from urban development.
LISA DESJARDINS: Environmentalist Jill Bathke says state laws do not provide enough protection, and, if anything, the new EPA rule doesn’t go far enough either.
JILL BATHKE: There are parts of Minnesota where a vast majority of waters are not fishable, swimmable, and drinkable. There are a lot of contaminants in our fish. And there’s a lot of problems with sediment in our waterways. So, there’s a lot of issues with pollution in Minnesota. And there are going to be difficult problems and they are not going to be fully solved by this rule’s release. But it is a step in the right direction towards more clarity.
LISA DESJARDINS: Getting more clarity was what many developers and county officials had hoped for.
Al Forsberg is the director of public works for Blue Earth County in Minnesota. He says confusion over jurisdiction has led to costly delays in past road construction projects.
AL FORSBERG, Director, Blue Earth County Public Works: These pink flags delineate where a wetland is located.
LISA DESJARDINS: Forsberg is about to embark on a $20 million road construction project which will extend into the ditches and wetlands that currently line both sides of the existing road.
AL FORSBERG: We need a clear concise rule so that when folks doing maintenance on roads, constructing roads encounter low areas, they can determine, is this a water of the United States or not?
LISA DESJARDINS: He was sharply critical of the draft proposal the EPA put forward a year ago. The county official says the version that was released this week is better. Still, he worries about a one-size-fits-all plan to govern so many different types of waterways.
AL FORSBERG: To define a water of the United States here is a different chore than defining it in, say, Louisiana with the bayous or the salt marshes out east, Alaska, Hawaii. That’s one of the problems in putting together one definition.
I think a map would solve that. Have the local folks, the state folks and the federal folks work together to develop a map for Minnesota. Then, when we’re planning our construction projects, we can go to this map. These are the waters of the United States. This is where we need to apply for permits.
LISA DESJARDINS: Many in Congress have said the EPA didn’t give enough consideration to farming and construction interests. Three weeks ago, the House voted to block the rule.
Democrat Tim Walz, who represents southeastern Minnesota, supported that bill. His district contains the ninth most productive farmland in the nation. He said this week’s rule is better than the one initially drafted, but is still not perfect.
REP. TIM WALZ, (D) Minnesota: We can’t have poisoned rivers, but we also have to be able to feed the population. So, we must fix this. If we do not fix this and we continue to have water quality issues, we’re going to lose. That’s going to impact production, it’s going to impact health, it’s going to impact all those things.
If we make rules that impede people’s ability to grow food, we’re going to deal with that side of this issue. And so this is one of those that it’s not my side wins, your side loses. We both have to win.
LISA DESJARDINS: The new EPA water rule will go into effect later this summer.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Lisa Desjardins.
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Friday, May 29 2015 11:30 PM
JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn now to Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa. The troubled country, struggling with massive economic problems, corruption and an Islamic extremist insurgency, made history today, as it inaugurated it’s new leader, Muhammadu Buhari.
Nigerians celebrated their new president and a strengthened democracy today, as the country’s first democratic transfer of power was finalized.
MAN (through interpreter): It’s a new beginning with an honest man who is serious and focused and determined.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That honest man: Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator who calls himself a born-again democrat.
PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI, Nigeria (through interpreter): I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The 72-year-old former general vowed to take charge of the fight against Boko Haram militants, who control portions of Northeast Nigeria.
PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI (through interpreter): Boko Haram is a mindless, worthless group who are as far away from Islam as one can think of.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just today, at least seven people were killed in Borno state, when suspected Boko Haram militants carried out twin bombings at a wedding party. Hundreds of Boko Haram captives have been freed by the military in recent weeks.
But the fate of the Chibok girls, whose capture sparked the global campaign to Bring Back Our Girls, remains unknown. The U.S. has assisted in that search, and Secretary of State Kerry was on hand today, reaffirming strong U.S.-Nigerian ties.
With the leadership change, the U.S. is reportedly now ready to expand military assistance. That could include sending more advisers to train Nigeria’s army. In addition to the fight against Boko Haram, Buhari inherits a host of other problems from outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan, chief among them, tackling institutionalized corruption, and reinvigorating Africa’s largest economy, which has faltered badly.
Nigeria faces a $63 billion national debt. And even though it is a top global oil producer, it is suffering a months-long fuel crisis.
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Friday, May 29 2015 11:25 PM
JUDY WOODRUFF: Joining me now for more on all this is Peter Pham. He’s director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council.
Welcome back to the program.
J. PETER PHAM, Atlantic Council: Thanks for having me, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So is the U.S. going to be providing more military aid to the Nigerian government?
J. PETER PHAM: I think what’s under discussion is how to — and I hate to use the term, but I think it’s appropriate here — reset the relationship.
Certainly, in the last few years, with allegations of corruption, well-founded questions of human rights abuses on the part of the military, and the low morale, the U.S. pulled back from assisting in the fight with Boko Haram, saying that the government in power at the time and the military simply were not partners that we could work with in the way in which we like to work.
Perhaps that was overdone, but now, with a new administration, one that was elected democratically, and with a handover power that was, I think, universally allotted for the smooth way in which it occurred, and where I think credit belongs to both the outgoing support and the new one, the U.S. is now ready to reset and re-partner with Africa’s not only most populous country and largest economy, but really its largest Christian population, its largest Muslim population.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what kinds of support are we talking about?
J. PETER PHAM: I think intelligence-sharing, logistics, training.
Nigeria is not a poor country, despite the recent economic problems. It doesn’t need handouts, but it does need capabilities and training. And certainly its neighbors require a bit of assistance. Its neighbors have been bearing a lot of the fight, Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon in particular.
But I think more important is the moral support of being — having a partner in the U.S. The fact that our economic relations with the energy boom at home, the fact that we really no longer purchase that much Nigerian petroleum, our economic relations are anemic. And that has really hurt our political and diplomatic relations.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And I want to ask you about the economic aspect of this in just a moment, but, Peter Pham, what does this — does this aid mean that they’re more likely to make headway against Boko Haram or is that possible to project, to predict?
J. PETER PHAM: Well, ironically, in its last months and weeks in office, the Jonathan administration, together with the other regional states, made tremendous progress pushing back Boko Haram militarily.
But now it’s no longer a military force. It’s increasingly insurgent terrorists. And that requires a different strategy, more of a counterinsurgency strategy. So, the Nigerian military is going to have to retool itself. And that’s going to require a different set of investments, not only military capabilities, but economic, political and social programs of inclusion to inculcate people, support for the government, and to inoculate them, if you will, against extremism.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we again mentioned the fuel shortages. And you just again mentioned the economic problems. What are the challenges that Mr. Buhari faces as he takes over?
J. PETER PHAM: I think the biggest single challenge President Buhari faces is that he was elected on a great wave of enthusiasm.
People vested a great deal of hope in him, that he could turn Nigeria around, fight not only Boko Haram, but fight the corruption, make this tired old man once again rise up as the African giant it should be.
But that’s going to take resources and investment. And that’s the one thing he’s short on right now because of the economic situation. The price of oil has declined 50 percent from what it was a year ago. Now, the Nigerian economy has diversified, but the government still relies on oil for 80 to 90 percent of its revenues, so he’s got a lot of demands on his plate, but at the same time fewer resources to meet them.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Peter Pham with the Atlantic Council, we thank you very much.
J. PETER PHAM: Thank you, as always.
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Friday, May 29 2015 11:20 PM
JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, we explore questions about how scientific findings are published and verified, and whether allegations of fraud involving a top science journal are damaging credibility with the wider public.
Yesterday, “Science” magazine retracted a study published in December that found people’s attitudes toward same-sex marriage were more likely to be changed by face-to-face conversations with gay canvassers over straight ones. It was a study that got quite a bit of pickup in the media. Now that it’s been retracted by a leading journal, it poses questions for the scientific establishment.
Again to Hari, who has more on the story.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The study’s lead author asked for the retraction after the original findings could not be duplicated, and his co-author, a graduate student, was accused of misrepresenting how the work was done.
This is the latest retraction in a major journal. In recent years, there have been others involving cloning and stem cell research.
Ivan Oransky is a journalist, as well as a medical doctor, who broke this story. He is co-founder of the blog Retraction Watch and global editorial director of MedPage Today, an online medical news service for physicians and other medical professions.
So, first of all, this particular case, how did we get here? What went wrong?
IVAN ORANSKY, Co-Founder, Retraction Watch: So, what seems to have gone wrong is that only some of this study — or at least we can only see that some of this study actually happened.
Lots of pressure on researchers. We don’t exactly know what happened here in the sort of early days, but part of the study, which was that gay people went to people’s houses and tried to convince them that gay marriage was a good thing, that they should agree with it, that part seems to have happened.
What’s a little unclear is whether surveying them afterwards to tell whether you actually changed their minds, which in this case was a pretty important part of the study, whether that actually happened. And so you fast-forward a little bit. The paper gets published in a really big journal, as you said, in “Science,” a major medical — excuse me — a major science journal.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Yes.
IVAN ORANSKY: And that happens in December, and then a couple of month later, some grad students at Berkeley, they decide, oh, we want to do the next set of experiments. We think this is pretty cool.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And this is science works.
IVAN ORANSKY: That’s supposed to be how science works.
So, they start looking at it and something doesn’t look right to them. They start asking a lot of questions, which, again, is supposed to be the way science works, ask the lead author, hey, what’s actually happening here? And no one can find the data.
Some admissions were made about what had happened and what hadn’t happened and how it had been misrepresented. And very quickly, which is I think an important point here, very quickly, the author said — one of the authors said, we should retract this. The journal said, we’re going to put a big stamp on this saying expression of concern.
Within a week, and that just happened this week, the paper’s gone from the record. It’s retracted.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Yes, but people are going to look at this and say but there is supposed to be a system of checks and balances before it gets to the journal, at the journal, the peer review process. We have esteemed colleagues. There’s lots of smart people that could have poked a hole in this before you got to it.
IVAN ORANSKY: There are lots of smart people who can poke a hole in it if they sort of take the opportunity.
Scientists are under a lot of pressure. You and I, as journalists, we’re under a lot of pressure. We know what this is like. And, quite frankly, peer review, it’s something you do, I wouldn’t say exactly spare time, but you’re not paid for it. And so in order to have found what was wrong here, you really would have had to have seen, actually had to have looked at the original data.
And what most people don’t realize is that this sort of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval that journalists would like you to think peer review, this vaunted peer review system is, it’s not really Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. There are a lot of holes. You have got to look at the original data.
And that speaks to how science is supposed to work, because you shouldn’t take any particular study, in this case a study that actually showed something that was really very surprising and new and different from what other studies had shown. You shouldn’t take it, even if it turns out to be true, as the answer.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So there are different causes for why certain studies over the years have fallen through the cracks. Right? Sometimes, it’s malicious intent, someone actively trying to doctor the data. Other times, it’s careless error, et cetera.
Are these fabrications more common now or are we in this Internet era able to detect them faster?
IVAN ORANSKY: It’s very clear that we’re able to detect these, sort of whether they’re fraud or just sloppiness or honest error, much more quickly.
Here we are, we’re able to look at all these papers online. We have plagiarism detection software. Plagiarism is a big reason for retraction as well in science, as well in journalism. And so about two-thirds of the time, they’re due to fraud, something that would be considered misconduct.
But it’s very clear that in the last like 15 years, the number of retractions has gone up by 10. So there are 10 times as many retractions — there were times as many retractions in 2010 as in 2001. And, again, it’s because we’re better at finding it.
Whether there’s also more pressure on scientists and more — therefore more fraud, it is a bit of an open question. But it’s also important to keep in mind these 400 — and maybe now it’s 500 or 600 retractions a year — that’s out of like two million or three million papers. So let’s not sort of say, oh, well, everything is fraudulent just because this is on the rise.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Right. This is something that scientists have to now become more vigilant about.
But also who gets hurt by this? In this specific study, it’s kind of a social science experiment. But there are some ethical lines that have been crossed.
IVAN ORANSKY: So, in this particular case, I think one sort of person — it’s not a person, but a group that might take a hit is science itself.
Here we are talking about this study, what went wrong, why did this get into such a major journal. My understanding is that some of the findings here, the sort of — at least the idea, was used as part of the sort of canvassing on the referendum in Ireland that just happened.
So this actually had some real-life ramifications. Maybe it was not a cancer trial or something like that. But, often, some of these studies actually do involve real people who are having terrible diseases like cancer. And they all are — I shouldn’t say all, but many of them involve federal funding.
So you and I are paying for these studies, and then they turn out to be fraudulent. Well, that’s not a great thing.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Ivan Oransky, editor of Retraction Watch, thanks so much for joining us.
IVAN ORANSKY: Thanks for having me.
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