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Last updated: Sunday, July 05 2015 03:42 PM
Sunday, July 05 2015 04:29 PM
AUSTIN, Texas — Forget Fort Knox or the Federal Reserve. Texas has decided to start keeping its gold holdings within in its own borders. But what makes sense politically in such a sovereignty-loving place is creating a logistical conundrum.
Texas is the only state that owns an actual stockpile of gold, according to public sector and financial industry experts – not just gold futures or investment positions, but approximately 5,600 gold bars worth around $650 million. The holdings, stored at a New York bank, for some harken back to century-old fears about the security of currency not backed by shiny bullion.
The Legislature’s decision this summer to bring its gold cache home was hailed by many conservatives, and even some on the far left, who are suspicious of national government.
“There will always be the exact same amount of gold in there as the amount that was put in,” no matter what happens to the financial system, said Republican state Rep. Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, a former tea party organizer from the Dallas suburbs who authored the gold bill.
But for the Texas comptroller’s office, which has to implement the policy, the catch is that the new Texas Bullion Depository exists in name but not reality.
The law doesn’t say where the depository would be or how it should be built or secured. No funding was provided for those purposes or for leasing space elsewhere. Further complicating matters is a provision allowing ordinary people to check their own gold or silver bullion into the facility.
“We are honestly at the phase where the questions we are answering are creating more questions that we have to answer,” said Chris Bryan, a comptroller’s office spokesman.
Charged with figuring everything out is a four-member task force within the comptroller’s office, which recently dispatched an official to a precious metals conference to study up.
One immediate concern is the possible cost. When Fort Knox was completed in 1936 it cost $560,000 – or roughly $9.2 million in today’s dollars. When Capriglione first introduced his bill in 2013 it had an estimated cost of $23 million.
But Capriglione now thinks private companies would bid to create a depository in exchange for charging storage and service fees.
The plan has kicked up chatter outside of Texas that it’s a step toward secession, an idea raised now and then on the state’s farthest political fringe.
“Just moving it would be pretty expensive and, unless Texas is anticipating withdrawing from the union, which I suspect is some peoples’ want, I don’t see what advantage it is…,” said Edwin Truman, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics who has written about gold and monetary policy. “What are you getting for what you’re paying for?”
But Capriglione says he’s just convinced that gold is safer, especially close at hand.
After the bill sailed through the Legislature, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed it and tweeted: “California may be the golden state, but Texans deserve to keep their gold in-state!”
Texas’ state-owned gold is held by the University of Texas Investment Management Company, the nation’s second largest academic endowment behind Harvard. It began gradually amassing gold futures in 2009 as a hedge against currency weakness in the recession. It eventually transitioned to physical bullion, and by 2011 had $1 billion worth.
The price of gold has since mostly slumped amid a soaring stock market. Today, the fund’s gold bars represent about 2.5 percent of its $25.4 billion in holdings, said Chief Executive Officer Bruce Zimmerman.
Asked about the new depository, Zimmerman said, “We don’t do politics. We’re just investors.”
The Fed declined comment on the new Texas depository, as did HSBC bank, which currently stores the gold bars in an underground vault in Manhattan.
Stacked together, the state’s gold occupies about 20 square feet. It’s unclear whether repatriating it could be done with an electronic transfer or would require a fleet of planes or armored cars.
One possible effect of the new depository might be more attention to the idea of returning to the gold standard, long a cause of former Texas Rep. Ron Paul. The Federal Reserve was founded more than a century ago so that the value of the U.S. dollar no longer had to be anchored to gold, and Richard Nixon formally scrapped the gold standard in 1971.
“I think Texas is once again showing they’re ahead of the curve,” said James Rickards, author of the 2014 book “The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System.” `’They’re not waiting for the disaster, but preparing for it.”
The post Texas struggles with logistics of housing gold stockpile appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Saturday, July 04 2015 11:17 PM
ADAM HODGES-LECLAIR: The word that Lafayette is bringing with him as that ambassador basically is that an army will be arriving, an expedition of five thousand soldiers and critically a navy as well.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Adam Hodges-LeClair is re-enacting the role of Marquis de Lafayette, the famed Frenchman who lobbied King Louis the sixteenth to support America in the Revolutionary War.
France provided much needed naval power to help turn the tide in defeating the British- it was the French navy that helped ensure the British surrender at Yorktown.
ADAM HODGES-LECLAIR: We declared our independence in 1776 but four years later the war was really uncertain, the French had come and supported us and they were giving arms and equipment but naval support was critical.
So a ship like this arriving with a fleet coming after it carrying Lafayette again symbolically bringing that message of support was a real game changer
HARI SREENIVASAN: This 21 million dollar ship which set sail from France in April will make a dozen stops along the east coast. At each city, sightseers can see the ship’s 32 cannons, hemp ropes coated in tar and ship’s bell- and interact with a crew dressed in period costumes.
All to find out what seafaring life in the 18th century was like.
The Hermione left New York this morning, on its way out, it passed by another French contribution to the U.S. — the Statue of Liberty.
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Saturday, July 04 2015 11:07 PM
HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: In Vienna, negotiators are racing to meet a July 7th deadline for a deal on Iran’s nuclear program. Late last night, Iran’s foreign minister announced that Tehran was ready to strike a deal and that negotiators had, quote, “never been closer to a lasting outcome.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry agrees they’re making progress but says there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Diplomats from the U.S., U.K., France, China, Russia and Germany want Iran to scale back its nuclear program to make sure it cannot build a nuclear weapon. But Iran wants leaders to lift crippling economic sanctions before it makes any changes to its nuclear program, allowing access to U.N. weapons inspectors has also become a major sticking point.
Bloomberg News reporter Indira Lakshmanan has been covering the story, and she joins me now from Vienna.
Indira, they say close is only good enough in horseshoes and hand grenades. So, how close are we to reaching a deal here?
INDIRA LAKSHMANAN, BLOOMBERG NEWS REPORTER: Well, yes, that’s exactly right. I mean, you can be close but no cigar, as the old say can goes. And the American delegation has been clear in telling us that while they are closer than they ever have been before, that this still could go up in flames if some very important political decisions are not taken. Of course, what they mean by that is that the Iranians have to make some decisions about giving access and specifically access for the IAEA, which means the U.N. monitors to inspect and meet with people and scientist look at sites where there are suspicions of past military nuclear work on Iran’s part. So, that’s going to be probably the key thing that needs to be worked out for this deal to come together in the coming days.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, there was some progress on that earlier this week. The IAEA announced that by the end of the year, they would actually have a report on this. I mean, that seemed like a step in the right direction, that Iran could understand that, the U.N. could like it, the U.S. could, too.
INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: Yes. That actually just happened today, Hari. It was really huge news, and that’s IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano who just came back from Tehran two days ago, and he came before reporters today and said that if Tehran cooperates, that they feel that the U.N. could put together its report, address all of the concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear work in the past by the end of the year.
But the key part that have sentence is, “if Tehran cooperates”. So, what our sources tell us is that that right now, the two sides are working on a list. They’re working on putting together a list based on U.S. intelligence and other western intelligence, Israeli intelligence, figuring out who are the important people and what are the important sites, and trying to make sure that Iran agrees that those sites can be investigated, those people can be interviewed.
So, with these sort of what is known as the additional protocol-plus, plus more access. So, that’s really what they have to get to the bottom. And we haven’t even mentioned this, but sanctions is the other critical piece. For Iran to give all of this access, they want to get sanctions relief on the other end, and that’s the other sticking point particularly in terms of time schedule, how that’s going to work, that they still need to work out and we’re going to be waiting for foreign ministers to come together tomorrow in the building right behind me, the Coburg Palace, where these negotiations are taking place, to make those final decisions.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, speaking of timing, and this is what makes negotiations sticky, both sides want the other side to do their part first.
INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: Right. Well, we do understand that in the last few days, there has been this critical agreement that they are — there is going to be simultaneity, that while the United States and E.U. preparing the legal steps, the regulatory steps that they need to take to give sanctions relief — on oil sanctions, banking sanctions, unfreezing assets and the rest — that for its part, Iran will be taking all of the steps that it needs to curb its nuclear program.
So, the working idea is that on the day that the United Nations verifies yes, Iran has taken those steps, that on the very same day, the sanctions would be lifted.
So, you know, it’s going to be a complicated thing. I think it’s something we could see perhaps by the end of the year. But Americans have told me they think it’s more likely early next year. This really depends out quickly Iran is willing to take those steps that it needs to do to curb its nuclear activity.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And, finally, what are the U.S. sources that you’ve spoken to saying about chances of this getting through Congress?
INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: Yes, I mean, if it was hard to seal this deal here in Vienna, I think it’s going to be really hard to seal this deal on Capitol Hill, to sell it to all of the congressmen who are predisposed against it. I mean, the fact is, it’s not representative of where the American people are. When you look at the polling, most of the polling is very much in favor of the nuclear deal. But on Capitol Hill, there is lot of suspension about this. Also amongst think tanks and public intellectuals, there are a lot of people who are concerned and think that Iran cannot be trusted in any nuclear deal. And part of that is because Israel’s prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, has raised a lot of his concerns.
So, I think we’re going to — if this deal happen, they’re going to have a 30-day period during which Congress can review it and can either say yea or nay, and I think those are going to be 30 incredibly, you know, tendentious days to be watching.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Indira Lakshmanan joining us from Vienna of Bloomberg News — thanks so much.
INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: Thanks.
The post Negotiators race to meet deadline on Iran’s nuclear program appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Saturday, July 04 2015 10:50 PM
LOS ANGELES — The Miss USA pageant, left without a TV home following blowback against co-owner Donald Trump over his comments on Mexican immigrants, has been rescued by the Reelz channel.
Reelz CEO Stan E. Hubbard said in a statement Thursday that the cable and satellite channel acquired the rights because of a belief that the pageant and the women who compete in it “are an integral part of American tradition.”
“As one of only a few independent networks, we decided to exercise our own voice and committed ourselves to bringing this pageant to American viewers everywhere,” Hubbard said.
While Reelz, which reaches 70 million homes, said it considered the interests of Miss USA contestants, the host city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and viewers in making its decision, it made no mention of Trump or the hot water he’s found himself in since he announced his presidential bid in June.
In an interview, Hubbard said the pageant is the issue, not Trump. He said the billionaire won’t make any money off the telecast.
“I completely understand why millions of people were offended by what Donald Trump said. I think his comments were incredibly insensitive and wrong. I disagree with them completely and totally,” Hubbard said, adding, “I also believe this pageant is as nonpolitical” as an event can be.
In his June presidential campaign announcement, Trump said that some Mexican immigrants to the U.S. bring drugs and crime, and some are rapists. NBC, Trump’s partner in the Miss USA pageant, cited his comments when it cut business ties with him and dropped its pageant telecast.
That left Miss USA adrift and created an opening for Reelz.
Hubbard said the license fee negotiated with the pageant was well below market value for such events and so small that it “won’t put even a dent in the production costs” shouldered by the pageant. He declined to specify the amount.
“The point is that people who were offended want to make sure he’s (Trump) not going to profit from our decision,” and that won’t happen, Hubbard said.
Trump declined to comment on the Reelz acquisition.
The pageant also won’t make money from commercial spots; any revenue will go to Reelz. Hubbard said it will be a scramble to sign advertisers both because of timing and the controversy surrounding the pageant.
This isn’t the first time Reelz has gone its own way. When the History channel dropped “The Kennedys” miniseries that had been made for it, saying it didn’t fit its brand, Reelz aired it in 2011 and was rewarded with record channel ratings and awards attention.
Reelz said the Miss USA pageant will be televised July 12, its originally scheduled date on NBC. The pageant will have to scramble after a mass exodus of performers, hosts and judges who cited opposition to Trump’s views as the reason.
Hubbard said he’s optimistic the telecast will be “loaded with talent and heavy entertainment value,” and said he’d prefer to see a Hispanic host.
Rapper Flo Rida had been the highest profile performer scheduled for Miss USA, and his representative confirmed Wednesday that he wouldn’t perform. Country singer Craig Wayne Boyd, winner of “The Voice” last year, and pop singer Natalie La Rose also dropped out. There were no more announced performers.
In a Miss USA news release last month, the judges were listed as HGTV star Jonathan Scott, country singer Jessie James Decker, E! News anchor Terrence Jenkins, TV host and former Miss Universe winner Zuleyka Rivera and Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith.
Of that quintet, only Decker’s name was listed as a judge by Miss USA on its website Wednesday. That’s the day Smith dropped out.
The pageant lost both of its co-hosts, Cheryl Burke of “Dancing With the Stars” and MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Jeannie Mai, who hosted a show on the Style Network, was listed as a show host.
Last week, the hosts of the now-abandoned Univision Spanish-language simulcast, Roselyn Sanchez and Cristian de la Fuente, said they wouldn’t take part in it.
Trump’s campaign comments struck many Latinos as insensitive, and Univision’s decision last week to back out of televising Miss USA and break off its business ties with Trump led to a cascade of others following suit. Trump responded by suing Univision on Tuesday.
Aside from the pageant world, there has growing fallout on other fronts for the GOP presidential hopeful and businessman.
On Wednesday, the Macy’s department store chain, which carried a Donald Trump menswear line, said it was “distressed” by Trump’s remarks and was ending its relationship with him.
Trump said in a statement that he had decided to end his relationship with Macy’s because of pressure on them by outside sources.
“Both Macy’s and NBC totally caved at the first sight of potential difficulty with special interest groups who are nothing more than professional agitators,” Trump said.
Also on Wednesday, New York City officials said they were reviewing the city’s contracts with Trump in light of his comments, and Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a statement calling them “disgusting and offensive,” adding that “this hateful language has no place in our city.”
The Trump Organization currently operates several city concessions, including a golf course, ice skating rink and carousel.
Representatives for Trump did not respond Wednesday to an email seeking comment on the city’s review.
The PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, USGA and PGA of America also on Wednesday distanced themselves from Trump in a statement and said his remarks were “inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf.”
Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico, the nation’s only Latina governor and a rising star in the Republican party, added her voice Wednesday to criticism of the GOP presidential hopeful, denouncing his comments as “horrible.”
This article was written by Lynn Elber of the Associated Press.
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Saturday, July 04 2015 10:07 PM
An average of 230 Americans end up in the emergency room every day in the month around July 4 because of firework-related injuries, but pyrotechnic mishaps are not the only potential setback of this Fourth of July tradition.
A new study published this week in the journal Atmospheric Environment found that fireworks release high levels of pollution into the sky on July 4 and 5.
“When people think of air pollution, they think of other kinds of things—smoke stacks, automobile exhaust pipes, construction sites,” study author Dian J. Seidel told TIME. “I don’t think most people think of fireworks.”
As a national average, culled from 315 different testing sites, Independence Day fireworks introduce 42 percent more pollutants into the air than are found on a normal day.
Part of that increase is a spike in emissions of perchlorate, a chemical that the Environmental Protection Agency says may “disrupt the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones needed for normal growth and development.”
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Saturday, July 04 2015 08:57 PM
HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: PBS NewsHour special correspondent Malcolm Brabant has been covering the latest developments and joins me now from Athens.
You’ve been reporting on this for the past several weeks for us and other places. You’ve been talking to people on the street. The polls say that this vote is incredibly close. What’s the feeling that you get on the street?
MALCOLM BRABANT, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: It’s impossible to tell which way this vote is going to go because it’s a hugely difficult and complex vote for people to make. The question on the ballot paper is, is something that would probably baffle economic students.
So, for ordinary people leaving out of the country, miles from Athens, it’s a very difficult choice.
But basically, it distills down to whether or not you want to vote for more of the same, which is increased austerity, which may be more severe that has been going on for the past five years, or something that is a step into the unknown, because nobody really knows what is going to happen if the country votes no.
The government here is basically saying that they’re going to have a better — better terms possibly with the creditors. But that’s something that really s undecided.
And so, this is the most difficult question in Greece’s modern history.
HARI SREENIVASAN: It’s been a week since the banks have been closed, since money has been rationed, what are the impacts that you see? Are there shortages of goods in stores now due to import restrictions?
MALCOLM BRABANT: No. We’re not seeing shortages yet, but that’s certainly something that people are talking about in the future. There are concerns that people just won’t get the goods that they want to.
The problem is that everybody now wants cash and — because cash is in short supply. And so, suppliers aren’t giving materials to shops without getting cash. Customers are reluctant to part with their cash.
And so, the actual liquidity of the whole country is shrinking, and that makes the difficult for the society to survive.
The ironic thing is what the creditors really wanted to have is a sort of a modern society, financial society with credit and with money sort of going backwards and forwards electronically. But we’re going backwards in that respect. It’s going back to the 1980s.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what are the possibilities on Monday in either way that the vote turns out? Do the central bankers, when they meet, could they approve bail-out funding if the yes side wins, or could they say, you’re out of the Eurozone if the no side wins?
MALCOLM BRABANT: I don’t think so it’s going to happen as quickly as that. I mean, this has been a much slower slide than people had imagined.
People would have thought that after the default that there would have been sort of Armageddon and that simply hasn’t happened. The slide downwards has been sort of fairly gentle.
But the problem is, that the money is running out of the banks here. And the big question is, if there is a no vote, will the banks actually dry out because the European Central Bank may feel compelled not to give the banks here anymore — more money at all.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And what about the social tension regardless of which way the vote goes?
MALCOLM BRABANT: It is really sort of quite intense because the country is completely divided. People are talking about this being the levels of hatred that might exist after this, is being something as deep as those that happened during the civil war which started 70 years ago.
This is a country which always had this tendency to turn on itself and to fight to itself. It’s got kind of a self destructed past in a way.
People here have always fought against each other. And after the civil war ended in 1950, it took about 30 years for the country to be almost unified.
And so, those are the kind of tensions that we’re talking about. They’re really immense. Although if you were to look around the city tonight, you would you say that it was relaxed. But there’s an awful lot of tension under the surface.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Malcolm Brabant joining us from Athens, Greece, tonight — thanks so much.
The post How is Greece likely to vote in austerity referendum? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Saturday, July 04 2015 07:57 PM
Alongside the patriotic music and waving flags Saturday in parades across Iowa and New Hampshire were clear reminders of a presidential race coming up next year: Red balloons promoting “Jeb! 2016,” a tractor draped in a Rick Perry banner and dutiful volunteers holding signs and chanting for their chosen candidates.
Marching in Fourth of July parades in these early voting states has become a tradition for politicians seeking the White House, giving them a chance to boost their name recognition and glad-hand with voters.
Former Govs. Jeb Bush of Florida, Rick Perry of Texas and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island as well as South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham worked the crowd in Amherst, while Hillary Rodham Clinton marched in a parade in New Hampshire’s North Country. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio spent the holiday in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley met voters in Iowa.
Graham and Perry brought the energy to Amherst, running through the streets waving, shouting jokes and posing for photos.
“Sorry the government’s so screwed up!” Graham shouted to the crowd numerous times, often followed by an apology to any children in the crowd about the future of Social Security.
The former governor and current senator shook hands in the street, prompting jokes of a Perry-Graham presidential ticket. Later, Perry snapped a cell phone picture of Graham with two voters outside their home.
Chafee, meanwhile, walked the route with just a few aides and no large signs bearing his name – nothing to indicate he’s vying for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Bush took a more methodical approach, shaking so many hands that his team had to nearly run down an entire street to catch up with the procession. His campaign handed out red “Jeb! 2016″ balloons along the entire parade route.
“There’s nothing behind us – other than Hillary,” Bush joked to a voter who chided him for holding up the parade. While Clinton campaigned elsewhere, a team of her supporters marched right behind Bush’s, their blue signs in sharp contrast with his red.
With his son George P. Bush, Texas’s land commissioner, by his side, Bush picked up a number of small children, posed for selfies and thanked voters who said they’ve been longtime fans of the Bushs. One of those voters wore a shirt that said “Bush Hat Trick.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he got clear instructions on how to behave in an Iowa parade – no throwing things to the crowd.
Jindal walked in a July Fourth parade in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale. Accompanied by his wife, Jindal was the only Republican presidential candidate there, though other contenders had representatives there.
Jindal said he was cautioned that Iowa and Louisiana parades are different.
“We’re used to throwing things in Louisiana parades. We’re told that’s not allowed here,” he said.
Jindal said that one of the first time the family went to Disney World, the children were upset because Mickey Mouse didn’t throw them anything.
“In Louisiana every single parade, not just Mardi Gras, you’re supposed to throw things,” the governor said.
Jindal kicked off the parade shaking hands and posing for selfies. He was scheduled to appear at another parade in the area later in the day. He has been campaigning in the kickoff caucus state since Tuesday.
This report was written by Kathleen Ronayne of the Associated Press.
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Saturday, July 04 2015 07:37 PM
There’s a new top dog in town.
In a gut-wrenching upset, Matt “Megatoad” Stonie defeated eight-time reigning hot-dog eating champ Joey “Jaws” Chestnut the 2015 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, an event as American as, er, hot dogs, held every Fourth of July on Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York.
Stonie, 23, won this year’s title by polishing off 62 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Chestnut, 31, who holds the contest’s current record of 69 hot dogs, ate only 60.
In the women’s contest, Miki Sudo reigned supreme by consuming 38 hot dogs.
Thousands of people descend on Coney Island every year to witness the event, which has taken place at Nathan’s Famous Corporation’s original and best-known restaurant since 1972.
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Saturday, July 04 2015 06:59 PM
KATONAH, N.Y. — The inner circle of founders has been set for as long as anyone can remember – Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Hamilton and Madison.
Almost never mentioned is John Jay. Most people know something about him. … But very few know the full breadth of his accomplishments.
“Most people know something about him. … But very few know the full breadth of his accomplishments. Most are very surprised by what they learn,” explains Heather Iannucci, director of the John Jay Homestead in this Hudson River town, where the July Fourth celebration will include a reading of the Declaration of Independence, music and tours of the stately, shingled house where the country’s first chief justice lived his final years.
As more of his papers have become available in the past decade, Jay’s admirers, ranging from specialists to such popular historians as Joseph Ellis and Walter Isaacson, have been arguing that a founder they believe underrated deserves a closer look – for achievements that extend to virtually every branch of government, on the state, federal and international level.
Jay was one of three contributors to the Federalist Papers, which helped define American government. He was president of the wartime Continental Congress, then served as secretary of foreign affairs, precursor to secretary of state, after the Revolutionary War ended. He was an essential diplomat whose peace negotiations with England, leading to the Treaty of Paris, vastly expanded U.S. territory.For his accomplishments heading a network of informants during the revolution, actions that helped inspire James Fenimore Cooper’s novel “The Spy,” the CIA’s website calls Jay “the first national-level American counterintelligence chief.” He also helped write the New York Constitution, was a founder of the New York Manumission Society and as governor signed legislation that phased out slavery in the state. (Jay himself owned slaves.)
The founders bickered colorfully among themselves, but they agreed on the virtues of Jay. Noting his centrality in the talks with England, John Adams praised him as “of more importance than any of the rest of us.” Alexander Hamilton turned to Jay first when conceiving the Federalist Papers, and George Washington thought so much of him that when he was forming his original Cabinet, he offered the first position – any position – to Jay, who chose the Supreme Court.
“He’s been hiding in plain sight for all this time,” says Ellis, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who features Jay in his current best-seller, “The Quartet,” in which he places Jay among four founders who made the U.S. Constitution possible. “We can argue about who can be on top of the list of most important founders until the cows come home, but it’s clear he should be part of the list.”
Jay was a leading nationalist, eager to unify the former colonies, but he has become a regional hero. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice is based in Manhattan. Some students at his alma mater, Columbia University (then King’s College), live in John Jay Hall, and various prizes are handed out by Columbia at the annual John Jay Awards dinner. Some visitors to the homestead arrive from the nearby John Jay High School.
But recognition doesn’t approach that of Washington and other peers. Few Jay biographies have been published, and none close to the prominence of Ron Chernow’s Hamilton and Washington books or David McCullough’s “John Adams.” The Library of America has issued editions of the writings of several founders but has no plans for a dedicated book on Jay. In 2005, Walter Stahr’s “John Jay: Founding Father” received praise from Chernow and Isaacson among others, but he struggled to find a publisher and ended up with the London-based Hambledon Continuum.
“I signed with a British publisher, for a book about a major founding American father,” Stahr wryly observed.
Ellis acknowledged his own slighting of Jay. In his Pulitzer-winning “Founding Brothers,” a million-seller published in 2000, Ellis does not include Jay among the eight “most prominent political leaders in the early republic,” an omission Stahr points out in his biography. “If I knew what I know now when I wrote `Founding Brothers,’ Jay would have been one of the players,” Ellis now says.
Jay supporters believe his relative anonymity is mostly a story of paperwork and personality.
The balding, gray-eyed Jay lived quietly and died quietly, not on a battlefield or in a duel with Aaron Burr, but in his library, at age 83. He was not a humorist like Franklin, or intemperate like Hamilton, but dependable and unusually honorable.
Historian Gordon Wood pointed out that when Jay was New York’s governor, he refused to endorse Hamilton’s scheme in 1800 to manipulate the state’s electoral laws during a close presidential campaign and deny the White House to Jefferson, their political rival. That was Jay’s “finest moment,” Wood told The Associated Press in an email.
In Stacy Schiff’s biography of Franklin in Paris, “The Great Improvisation,” she noted that Jay never tried to compete with or undermine Franklin while both were diplomats abroad and was willing to endure financial and physical hardship on behalf of independence. That included spending “30 murderous months on the periphery of the Spanish court,” waiting in vain for $5 million in promised aid, Schiff wrote in an email.
Jay, she said, “never seems to lose his cool, or his dignity.”
The scarcity of documents has plagued Jay historians. Over the past 60 years, the papers of Washington, Jefferson and others have been duly compiled and made widely available. Jay’s papers have been long delayed, with Stahr and others blaming the late Columbia University professor Richard Morris, who for decades had control of the material.
“When Lynne Cheney decided she was going to tackle James Madison, she had a tremendous amount of stuff to work with,” says Stahr, referring to Cheney’s Madison biography that came out in 2014. “When I tackled John Jay, it was hard.”
Morris died in 1989, with only two of four planned Jay volumes completed, and for years the project was idle. New funding revived it in 2004, around the time Stahr was finishing his book. And a team of editors at Columbia led by Elizabeth M. Nuxoll is scheduled to have a seven-volume set completed and released by 2020. The fourth volume is out in November.
Ellis, who drew extensively on Jay’s papers for his current book, believes they will establish him not only as a statesman but also as a prose stylist. The letters between Jay and his wife, Sarah Livingston Jay, rank closely with the correspondence of John and Abigail Adams, Ellis says, likening the Jays to the acknowledged first couple among the founders.
“There’s a level of candor and intimacy and sharing of private thoughts that most 18th-century marriages didn’t have,” Ellis says of the Jays.
A merchant’s son, John Jay was born in New York in 1745 and grew up comfortably on an estate in Rye, about 25 miles north of the city. He had planned a career in law and, like Franklin, was a moderate in the early years of the revolution, believing that differences with the British could be negotiated. The British use of military power to enforce order changed his mind.
Luck, timing and politics may have harmed his legacy. He was in New York at the time the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, and Stahr said it was unclear whether he would have endorsed the document or was still hesitating to break with England. He wrote only five of the 85 Federalist Papers essays, published in 1787-88, because he fell ill.
His greatest controversy involves a document that bears his name. In 1794, more than a decade after the Treaty of Paris, then-Chief Justice Jay was asked by Washington to return to London and prevent what the president and others feared was imminent war. The final agreement, the Jay Treaty, maintained peace but was criticized for being too favorable to the British. Jay, already suspected as pro-British by the rival Republican Party, was burned in effigy in several cities. Scholars still debate whether Jay got the best terms possible.
From the mid-1770s to the early 1800s, he was rarely out of public life and could have stayed longer. Late in John Adams’ administration, which ended in 1801, he wanted Jay to return as U.S. chief justice. Jay, who had left that position in 1795 to become New York’s governor, declined, and the job went to the man who shaped the modern court, John Marshall.
Like a proper gentleman of his time, Jay settled peacefully in the country, having long dreamed of retirement with Sarah. In an early letter to his wife, dated July 21, 1776, when his work on behalf of independence had kept them apart, he expressed “a kind of Confidence or Pre Sentiment that we shall yet enjoy many good Days together, and I indulge myself in imaginary Scenes of Happiness which I expect in a few Years to be realized.
“If it be a Delusion, it is a pleasing one, and therefore I embrace it,” he added. “Should it like a Bubble vanish into Air, Resignation will blunt the Edge of Disappointment, and a firm Persuasion of after Bliss give me Consolation.”
But Sarah fell ill and died, in 1802, within months of their move. Devastated at first but sustained by his religion, Jay looked after his farm, advocated for education for blacks and became president of the American Bible Society. As his health faded, he asked that instead of a high-priced funeral his family find “one poor widow or orphan” and donate $200. Jay died on May 16, 1829.
“Unlike John Adams, who spent a lot of time defending his place in history, Jay does not spend a lot of time on that,” Stahr says. “He answers letters as they arrive, but doesn’t seek out writing engagements. The War of 1812 (between the U.S. and Britain) is very worrisome because he devoted a lot of his time to avoiding that. And he worried about the emerging tensions between North and South.
“In the end, he’s more worried about America than he is about John Jay.”
This report was written by Hillel Italie of the Associated Press.
The post What you should know about forgotten founding father John Jay appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Saturday, July 04 2015 05:51 PM
VOICE OF SUSANA GARCIA: It’s going to be really hard for the businesses here on Main Street to survive if it doesn’t pick up.
JOHN LARSON: All along Main Street in Delano, California, businesses can feel it – the drought. At 1111 Main Street, Susana Garcia says, it’s simple.
SUSANA GARCIA, SHOP OWNER: A lot of people not working. A lot of people only working like a few hours. But they’re not working enough. So they’re not spending money.
ROMAN BOCANEGRA, BARBER: We need that water so there can be a lot more farm work for everybody, so they can come and shop and do what they got to do here.
JOHN LARSON: At Chalia’s Barber Shop, at 916 Main, there’s talk of wild bears wandering in from the hills.
NATSOT LOCAL NEWSCAST: The bear was eventually taken out and put in the back of a wildlife truck.
LEIAS SERVIN, DELANO RESIDENT: I guess they’re looking for what food there’s no water source so they bears coming into the city.
JOHN LARSON: Leias Servin worries the drought will cost his parents, who work in the fields and who can’t afford to lose the hours.
JOHN LARSON: How are they getting by?
LEIAS SERVIN, DELANO RESIDENT: Well they have, I guess they have to make it work. But it’s hard getting by when they are cutting you short. It’s a couple of paychecks less that you get.
JOHN LARSON: Delano’s Main Street sits at the southern end of California’s Central Valley, the richest agricultural valley in the world. This valley supplies 25 percent of all the food eaten in the United States. Yet, all around Delano the drought has cost thousands of jobs, especially in the fields. (VINEYARD) This grape vineyard is 23 miles from Delano’s Main Street. Crew boss Sonia Robles – still wearing the protective sun mask she wears in the field – says she’s had to away people looking for work.
SONIA ROBLES, GRAPE PICKER: I wish we could have work for them, but I mean we couldn’t.
JOHN LARSON: When the congregation at United First Method Church, just a block off Main Street shared their prayers on Sunday, a 24 year old cowboy offered thi
MATT HUFF IN CHURCH: We ask Lord that we receive more rain this winter. A lot of good juicy storms, Lord.
JOHN LARSON: Matt Huff lives on a cattle ranch 16 miles from Delano’s Main Street.
MATT HUFF: Well I know we need rain, we can’t make it rain ourselves but we can definitely give it to God. It’s all you can do right about now.
JOHN LARSON: While it may be difficult to appreciate just how much the drought is changing the valley, listen to Matt as he drives out with the evening feed.
MATT HUFF, RANCH WORKER: I first came here about five years ago and the grass was at least shoulder height. Every year that we’ve had a drought, the fields remain bald, just pure dirt. We used to have dandelions out in the field that were taller than me. That, you can feed a herd of cows with. This, you can’t.
JOHN LARSON: The herd used to number 200. But when the drought hit, pastures began dying. The ranch owner began buying hay to feed the herd. As the drought continued, the owner was forced to begin selling off the herd you see up ahead. Cow by cow, the herd dwindled to a 100 and then to less than 50.
He also sold his only bull, and with it much of the herd’s future. But the bigger story, the reason we’ve come to Delano is what’s happening all around the ranch. The California drought has entered its fourth straight year, a drought some fear could become the most costly in the history of the American West.
JESSE REVILLA, RANCH OWNER: You got good years and bad years. This is what I call worst years. This is really bad.
JOHN LARSON: Matt’s boss, ranch owner Jesse Revilla, says despite his best efforts, the remaining herd is losing weight, but feeding them is breaking him.
JOHN LARSON: How long can you keep that up?
JESSE REVILLA: Well, that means I got to go sell some more cows. I got to sell more cattle so I can buy more hay.
JOHN LARSON: So the herd keeps getting smaller and smaller?
JESSE REVILLA: And I’m getting poorer and poorer.
JOHN LARSON: California reservoirs, once pictures of abundance, are more alarming than reassuring.
Last year, the hottest ever recorded in California, water levels fell so low that authorities cut off water to most farmers, meaning, farmers had to use well water, or lose everything.
JOHN LARSON: If you didn’t have a well, what would have happened to your trees?
MARY ANDREAS: Well, they would be half dead by now.
JOHN LARSON: Two miles from Main Street, Mary Andreas joined hundreds of farmers now drilling for water. Mary grows 84 acres of almonds. Her trees require year round water to stay alive. Six months before her water allotment was cut off, Mary mortgaged her home, plunked down almost 200 thousand dollars to drill a well. It saved her farm.
JOHN LARSON: How hard was that decision?
MARY ANDREAS, ALMOND FARMER: It wasn’t hard, because we had already invested so much. We can’t stop now. We don’t know what’s gonna happen next year or the other. But we have to keep going forward. ‘Cause we got everything, our whole life invested in this 84 acres.
JOHN LARSON: Which is why farmers like Mary who can afford it, are drilling more wells than ever. Drilling crews are arriving from across the West, adding to local drillers—like Matt Hammond—who can’t keep up with the demand.
JOHN LARSON: If we want drill a well in our farm, how soon could you do it?
MATT HAMMOND, WATER DRILLER: We’re anywhere from eight months to a year and a half behind.
JOHN LARSON: But more worrisome is that so much water is being pumped from underground to replace water lost in this drought, that few people believe it can be sustained. Wells are going dry, and drillers are forced to go deeper to find water. This well – located 16 miles from Main Street – is headed down 1,600 feet, 350 feet deeper than the empire state building is high.
JOHN LARSON: To what extent do you feel like we can only punch so many holes and pull out so much water before we really start seeing huge problems?
MATT HAMMOND, ARTHUR & ORUM WELL DRILLING: Well, I mean, we’re to that stage right now, I think. Because the deeper you go on some of this, you’re losing out on water quality, too. You’re gonna get down so deep and the water’s gonna start getting salty on you.
RANDY WELDON WALKING WITH LARSON: So this grove has not water on in a year.
JOHN LARSON: Randy Weldon is a local grower. He showed us how farmers who could not afford to drill wells helplessly watched their orchards die. These orange trees are dead, and there are thousands just like them not far from Delano’s Main Street.
RANDY WELDON, ORANGE FARMER: It is heartbreaking. In a lot of cases the farmers have their heart and soul in this land. And it’s like losing a part of your family, you know. And economically it’s disastrous.
JOHN LARSON: In California water is considered a property right, so farmers are free to drill as much as they want. All they need is a permit. But no one knows how much water farmers are pulling from the underground aquifer. That’s the natural reservoir accumulated over thousands of years from rain and snow. And no one knows how much water is left. If an aquifer is like a savings account, this is a run on the bank.
JERRY BROWN TV AD: It’s been over 50 years since we built the state water project.
JOHN LARSON: At the urging of the Governor, Jerry Brown, California voters last year agreed they had to be better prepared for a drought, so they passed a seven-and-a half-billion-dollar bond for building water storage facilities and water recycling projects.
But the effort to preserve the water supply also means big cuts in consumption.
In April, Governor Brown imposed new restrictions for California cities, reducing residential water usage by 25 percent.
At first, farmers, who account for 80 percent of water use in California, were spared those cuts.
Then last month, the state cut water allotments in northern California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta — driving farmers there to join those in the Central Valley in the race to dredge up more water from the ground.
This escalating thirst for water has also led to some surprising partnerships. For example, 21 million gallons of water every day flow into the Cawelo Reservoir – water helping save 90 desperate farmers south of Delano. The water comes from of all places…here.
This is Chevron’s Kern River oil field just 35 miles south of Delano’s Main Street. It’s the third largest oil producing field in the state, more than 70,000 barrels per day. But in the process of retrieving the oil, Chevron pulls up even more water, a lot more.
The water is used for steam to help recover the oil underground, and then separated from the oil, cleaned and pumped through pipelines to the reservoir and the waiting farmers.
ABBY AUFFANT, CHEVRON: For every 10 barrels of fluid that we produced from Kern River field, nine of those are water. One barrel of oil to 9 barrels of water. So we’re almost like a water company that happens to skim oil.
JOHN LARSON: Back on Main Street, the drought can be felt in every lost sale and in every cash register. No one, of course, knows when the drought will end. Only that until it does, life in and around Delano feels harder, further beyond their control than they’d like, and that things they hold dear – here in this rich valley – are suddenly in play.
MATT HUFF: It’s getting harder and harder to be a rancher. We need the rain, everyone does.
RANDY WELDON: If we don’t get rain this year we’re in for some really bad times.
MARY ANDREAS: I guess we’re still here because this is our life and we’re here because we want to keep farming as long as we possibly can.
The post Will California’s new water restrictions ease its historic drought? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Saturday, July 04 2015 05:26 PM
WASHINGTON — Hispanic leaders are bristling at the largely tepid response by Republican presidential candidates to Donald Trump’s characterization of Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers.
Several 2016 contenders have brushed off Trump’s comments while others have ignored them. Marco Rubio, a Florida senator who is Hispanic, denounced them as “not just offensive and inaccurate, but also divisive,” after declining for two weeks to address the matter directly. Another Hispanic in the race, Ted Cruz, said Trump is “terrific,” “brash” and “speaks the truth.”
It’s an uncomfortable moment for Republicans, who want more votes from the surging Latino population.
And it could be a costly moment if more candidates don’t go beyond their Donald-will-be-Donald response and condemn him directly, said Alfonso Aguilar, a Republican who leads the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership.
“The time has come for the candidates to distance themselves from Trump and call his comments what they are: ludicrous, baseless and insulting,” Aguilar said. “Sadly, it hurts the party with Hispanic voters. It’s a level of idiocy I haven’t seen in a long time.”
So far, Trump has paid less of a political price than a commercial one.
The leading Hispanic television network, Univision, has backed out of televising the Miss USA pageant, a joint venture between Trump and NBC, which also cut ties with Trump. On Wednesday, the Macy’s department store chain, which carried a Donald Trump menswear line, said it was ending its relationship with him. Other retailers are facing pressure to follow suit.
On Friday, the NASCAR motorsports series said it will not hold its season-ending awards ceremony at the Trump National Doral Miami. The CEO of a top NASCAR sponsor, Camping World’s Marcus Lemonis, had said he would not participate in the awards ceremony if it were held at a property owned by Trump, whom he criticized for “recent and ongoing blatantly bigoted and racist comments … in regards to immigrants.”
In his speech last month marking his entry into the Republican race, Trump said Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
The businessman has refused to back down, although he insists his remarks were misconstrued.
“My statements have been contorted to seem racist and discriminatory,” he wrote in a message to supporters on Thursday. “What I want is for legal immigrants to not be unfairly punished because others are coming into America illegally, flooding the labor market and not paying taxes.” His original comments, though, did not make a distinction between Mexicans who came to U.S. legally and those here illegally.
His rhetoric may resonate with some of the Republican Party’s most passionate voters, who have long viewed illegal immigration as one of the nation’s most pressing problems. But the 2016 contest brings opportunity for the party to make inroads with Hispanics, with several Latino candidates and a former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, who has deep Latino ties and speaks Spanish and hasn’t been shy about using it in the campaign.
Even so, Bush has said little more about Trump’s comments than that they were “wrong.”
“Maybe we’ll have a chance to have an honest discussion about it onstage,” Bush said last weekend while campaigning in Nevada, referring to Republican presidential debates.
Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, is paying keen attention to how the candidates respond to Trump’s “xenophobic rhetoric.”
“We’re listening very, very closely, not just what candidates say but what they don’t say – the sins of commission and the sins of omission,” he said.
Among 2016 contenders:
- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called Trump’s comments “wholly inappropriate.” But in a subsequent radio interview, he said Trump is “a really wonderful guy (who’s) always been a good friend.”
- Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said: “I don’t think Donald Trump’s remarks reflect the Republican Party.”
- Cruz said he likes Trump and thinks NBC “is engaging in political correctness” in breaking ties with him.
- Rubio said the next president “needs to be someone who brings Americans together – not someone who continues to divide.”
- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former technology executive Carly Fiorina and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson have been silent.
Not since the 2004 re-election campaign of President George W. Bush has a Republican presidential candidate earned as much as 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. Mitt Romney got a dismal 27 percent in the 2012 contest against President Barack Obama.
The post Hispanic leaders urge GOP hopefuls to condemn Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Saturday, July 04 2015 05:19 PM
The once lively grains trading pits at the Chicago Board of Trade building will go silent after Monday, as the oldest futures exchange in the United States moves one step closer to strictly electronic trading.
Several floor traders fought the closure by the CME Group that represents the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Board of Trade, and were able to postpone it from July 2, Reuters reported. The closings – also happening in New York at all CME Group futures pits – are the latest in a trend over the past 15 years that began as electronic trading soared.
“This is not something that happened over night; it’s been happening for a long time,” Dr. Peter Alonzi, a professor of economics at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois and the former senior manager of the Chicago Board of Trade’s educational programs group in the 1990s, told PBS NewsHour.
For more than 80 years, Chicago Board of Trade members shouted and flashed hand signals to establish futures contracts – agreements to buy or sell a certain amount of a commodity like wheat, corn or oats at a predetermined price and date – in the pits of the landmark art deco building on LaSalle and Jackson streets.
“The prices discovered through the competitive trading activity in the pits were an integral part of the agricultural industry,” Alonzi said. Later, when they started trading futures on treasury bonds, notes and federal funds, action in the floor pits impacted world financial markets.
Open outcry has been the main method of trading futures throughout the Chicago Board of Trade’s history and accounted for the majority of trading volume until 2003.
Passed down over generations of traders, the “craft” – as Alonzi characterized it – has fallen to represent one percent of futures volume for the CME Group, the Associated Press reported. Most futures trading now happens online.
The S&P 500 futures and options pits in Chicago will remain open. The CME Group plans to sublease the grain room and its 10 octagonal pits, a spokesperson told PBS NewsHour.
Click through the timeline to learn more about the Chicago Board of Trade and its 167 years of existence.
The post Most trading pits to close at Chicago Board of Trade as historic craft inches closer to extinction appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Saturday, July 04 2015 05:02 PM
HANOVER, N.H. — Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday she takes a “backseat to no one” on championing liberal causes, presenting herself as a standard-bearer for Democrats as primary challenger Bernie Sanders generates large, energetic crowds.
Clinton addressed 850 people at an outdoor amphitheater at Dartmouth College, a last-minute venue change made to accommodate a larger audience. Days earlier, Sanders spoke before about 10,000 people in Madison, Wisconsin. The former secretary of state made no mention of Sanders but warned that Republicans would unravel President Barack Obama’s policies if they recaptured the White House, including the repeal of his signature health care overhaul.
“I take a backseat to no one when you look at my record of standing up and fighting for progressive values,” Clinton said on a sun-dappled kickoff to the Fourth of July weekend in Hanover, New Hampshire, across the Connecticut River from Sanders’ home state of Vermont.
The Democratic presidential front-runner portrayed herself as a candidate of continuity to Obama and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, praising the Supreme Court’s recent ruling upholding health care subsidies under the overhaul. She said if the nation elected a Republican president, “they will repeal the Affordable Care Act. That is as certain as I can say.”
She said Obama and her husband had both inherited a series of economic headaches when they entered office and urged voters to elect another Democrat “to continue the policies that actually work for the vast majority of Americans.”
Clinton said at the end of her husband’s two terms, the economy had generated 22 million jobs, a balanced budget and “a surplus that would have paid off our national debt if it had not been rudely interrupted by the next administration.”
The former New York senator’s team has been wary of likening her to the equivalent of Obama’s third term but her acclaim for the president’s policies highlighted a string of recent victories by the White House in its defense of the health care law, the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing gay marriage and steady economic numbers.
In a rare discussion of foreign policy, Clinton spoke supportively of Obama’s efforts to reach an agreement with Iran to curb the country’s nuclear program, talks that she helped set in motion as secretary of state. Previewing next week’s deadline for negotiations, Clinton said she hoped the U.S. would “get a deal that puts a lid on Iran’s nuclear weapons program” but said it was “too soon” to know if that was possible.
Seeking the Democratic nomination, Clinton’s focus has been on economic issues, the driving force behind Sanders’ recent rise in polls. The senator describes himself as a democratic socialist and has won elections in Vermont as an independent. He has drawn large crowds around the country and reported raising $15 million since late April, about one-third of the $45 million Clinton has brought in.
Sanders said on Friday in an email to supporters that he would release a series of policy proposals in the next few weeks “to address the major issues facing our nation.” The campaign is seeking to ramp up its volunteer base and planning to hold organizing meetings across the nation on July 29.
Clinton’s allies have sought to lower expectations despite her early command of the primary field. During a stop at an ice cream shop in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Clinton told reporters “I always knew this was going to be competitive” and said she was looking forward to a “great debate.”
Some of the people who came to see Clinton at Dartmouth said Sanders could ultimately have a positive influence on her in the nation’s first primary state.
“I think he’s pushing her to address some issues and I think that will be all for the good,” said Sybil Buell, a Norwich, Vermont, resident who attended the Clinton event. Buell said she was “on the fence” over whether to support Clinton or Sanders in the early stages of the campaign.
“There’s a little feeling of inevitability with her,” said Chuck Manns, of Lebanon, New Hampshire, who backed Clinton in 2008. He said Sanders was a “curiosity right now,” but predicted Clinton’s electability would shine through.
The post As Sanders draws large crowds, Clinton touts progressive record appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Saturday, July 04 2015 04:52 PM
Here are eight things you might not have known about the Fourth of July.
1. The colonies officially declared independence on July 2
On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress approved Virginian delegate Richard Henry Lee’s motion for independence, dissolving the political bands that connected the 13 American colonies to the crown.
July 4 is celebrated as Independence Day because the Congress approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, after two days of debating and revising its contents. The Declaration was just a formal statement and explanation of the split effected on July 2, and it seems the founding fathers intended July 2 to be celebrated as Independence Day.
In a July 3 letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams made this prediction:
2. Few, if any, members of the Congress signed the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July
Historians disagree on the precise order of the signing, but it seems most signatories didn’t put their names on the document until August 2.
Although several of the founding fathers, including Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, later wrote that they signed the Declaration on July 4, many of the signatories weren’t present in Philadelphia until later. Furthermore, the document’s language underwent constant revision until it was approved on July 4, and it would have taken time for an official copy to be handwritten on parchment, making it unlikely that the final copy was signed on July 4.
3. Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence condemned slavery
Although Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, his original draft of the Declaration contained language condemning King George III’s support for the slave trade as “a cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty.”
Despite such stirring, humanistic language, it seems that Jefferson’s main complaint against the English King was related to Dunmore’s Proclamation, a 1775 law passed by Lord Dunmore, the British governor of Virginia. The proclamation promised Virginian slaves freedom in exchange for serving in the British army.
Slave-owning delegates to the Second Continental Congress objected to the slavery passage of Jefferson’s draft, and it was removed after debate. The only portion that made it to the final Declaration was the phrase “He has excited domestic Insurrections among us,” in reference to King George’s support for Dunmore’s Proclamation.
4. Americans eat more the 150 million hot dogs every Fourth of July
The July 4 holiday is America’s biggest weekend for hot dog consumption, appropriate for the beginning of National Hotdog Month. And Americans purchase more than 700 million pounds of chicken during the week leading up to the Fourth of July.
Independence Day is also a major beer holiday — Americans buy about 52.7 million cases of beer in the two weeks leading up to July 4, making the Fourth a bigger beer holiday than the Super Bowl, according to Nielsen. That’s a staggering total of more than a billion brews.
5. Three U.S. presidents have died on Independence Day
Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Monroe all died on the Fourth of July. In a providential twist, Adams and Jefferson both died within hours of one another on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration’s passage.
In his final moments, Adams reportedly said, “Thomas Jefferson survives,” unaware that his friend and longtime political rival had died hours earlier.
James Monroe also died on July 4, though he outlived Jefferson and Adams by five years, passing away in 1831.
Only one president, Calvin Coolidge, has been born on the Fourth of July.
6. July 4 is also a holiday in the Philippines and in Rwanda
In the Philippines, July 4 is celebrated as Republic Day, commemorating the United States’ formal recognition of the independence of the Republic of the Philippines on July 4, 1946.
July 4 was celebrated as Philippine Independence Day until 1962, when President Diosdado Macapagal changed the date of Independence Day to June 12 to mark the Philippine Declaration of Independence from Spain in 1898.
In Rwanda, July 4 is Liberation Day, a national holiday that marks the end of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the beginning of reconciliation and nation building in Rwanda.
7. Your fireworks and American flag were probably made in China
Americans spent $3.6 million on imported American flags in 2014, $3.5 million of which came from China.According to U.S. Census Bureau, the United States imported $247.1 million worth of fireworks from China in 2014, roughly 96 percent of total U.S. fireworks imports.
In comparison, U.S. fireworks exports came in at about $12 million, of which Israel purchased $5.4 million.
Chinese goods also accounted for more than 97 percent of all U.S. imports of American flags in 2014. Americans spent $3.6 million on imported American flags that year, $3.5 million of which came from China.
Turkey was the biggest purchaser of American flags exported from the United States, spending $637,000 on the stars and stripes, or 37 percent of the total value of American flags exported by the United States.
8. The melody of the Star Spangled Banner came from the official song of an English club
The tune that Francis Scott Key set the lyrics of the national anthem to came from “To Anacreon in Heaven,” the constitutional song of the Anacreontic Society, a London club for amateur musicians.
The club was named for the Greek poet Anacreon, who was famous for his verse about women and drinking, and the song was likely a tavern standard in colonial America.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated that the year in which Jefferson and Adams died was 1836. Both men died in 1826.
Friday, July 03 2015 11:50 PM
JUDY WOODRUFF: The heaviest fighting in months raged in the Northern Syrian city of Aleppo today, as government forces tried to repel a coordinated attack by rebels.
More than a dozen Islamic militant groups, including al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria, launched the assault on government positions overnight. President Bashar al-Assad’s troops called in airstrikes that killed at least 35 rebel fighters.
Elsewhere, Islamic State-affiliated fighters in Egypt claimed they fired three rockets into Southern Israel. Israeli officials acknowledged that rocket remnants were found, but didn’t confirm their origins. No injuries were reported.
Aetna announced today that it’s buying rival health insurer Humana for $37 billion. If approved, the deal would make Aetna the second largest health insurance company in the U.S., behind UnitedHealth. That would give it more power to negotiate prices under President Obama’s health care overhaul. It would also mean that Aetna would own a larger chunk of the rapidly growing Medicare business.
Residents in Maryville, Tennessee, were allowed home today, a day-and-a-half after a freight train with toxic chemicals derailed and caught fire. Some 5,000 people had been evacuated. The train burned throughout the day yesterday. It was carrying material used to make plastic that’s dangerous if inhaled. Authorities are examining the train’s black box for clues as to what caused the accident.
People around Britain today honored the victims of the deadly terror attack at a Tunisian beach; 30 of the 38 killed by an Islamic extremist in last week’s rampage were British. Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister David Cameron both participated in moments of silence in the U.K., while the British ambassador to Tunisia laid a wreath at the site of the attack.
HAMISH COWELL, British Ambassador to Tunisia: I think we all live under the threat of terrorism now. And I think that the lone wolf syndrome, we have seen it elsewhere, not just in Tunisia. But, of course, that’s why we are here working with the Tunisians to try to make sure that we have the best security possible. And I know there’s a great commitment from the Tunisians to ensure that they have that security in place.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The gunman in the Tunisia rampage was ultimately killed by police. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
A Russian Soyuz rocket bound for the International Space Station successfully lifted off from Kazakstan today. The unpiloted spacecraft is ferrying food, water, oxygen, and other supplies to the orbiting laboratory. The launch follows three unsuccessful resupply missions, including the SpaceX rocket that exploded shortly after liftoff Sunday.
The post News Wrap: Syrian government troops fight militant attack in Aleppo appeared first on PBS NewsHour.