Monday, August 22, 2016

OPINION - Shields and Rubin 8/19/2016

"Shields and Rubin on Trump's staff shift and Clinton's ‘self-inflicted' damage" PBS NewsHour 8/19/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  This week, the Trump campaign underwent possibly its biggest overhaul yet -- the candidate made major staffing changes and publicly said he regrets some past comments.  Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is excelling in the polls, but her emails and foundation still haunt her.  For the political scoop, Judy Woodruff speaks with syndicated columnist Mark Shields and The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  It's Friday, and so we turn to politics, and the analysis of Shields and Rubin.  That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Jennifer Rubin, the opinion writer for The Washington Post.  David Brooks is away this week.

We welcome you.

(CROSSTALK)

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And good to have you back, Mark.

MARK SHIELDS, syndicated columnist:  Good to be here.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, let's talk about this upheaval in the Trump campaign, phases one and two.  We have a new — Mark, a new campaign manager.  We have Paul Manafort out after some stories about his work in Ukraine.

We know that one of the new folks coming in is from Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon.  What do we make of all this?

MARK SHIELDS:  Well, first of all, Judy, every campaign is ultimately, inevitably a mirror reflection of the candidate.

The criminality and paranoia of the Nixon campaign began with Richard Nixon.  The discipline and, I would say, the insularity of Jimmy Carter's campaign began with Jimmy Carter.

And I think that's true of every campaign.

This is a year unlike any year, when voters are so angry with Washington.  They think Washington is awash in money, that money buys influence, buys access, puts the fix in.

So, what does — Donald Trump, who has an advantage over Hillary Clinton of 3-1 on someone who would change Washington, he hires the ultimate insider, the guy who gets, according to reports, various reports, got $12 million in cash for representing the pro-Russian, pro-Putin interests and parties in Ukraine.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  This is Manafort.

MARK SHIELDS:  Paul Manafort, the ultimate insider.  So, now Paul Manafort is gone, amidst charges that this is just Washington as usual, the worst kind.

And who does he bring in?  He brings in Stephen Bannon, who's never run a campaign before, who has done a good job of running a Web site.  It's been very successful.  And he lines himself up with Roger Ailes, Roger Ailes, the recently deposed chief of FOX News, the bete noire of every liberal in the country, many of whom are sort of lukewarm toward Hillary Clinton, and who has just left amidst a flurry of serious allegations about sexual harassment of women and misconduct.

So, I don't know.  I mean, it just — if personnel is policy, these self-inflicted wounds on the part of Trump are just, if not mortal, they're seriously damaging.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  How do you see all this, Jennifer?

JENNIFER RUBIN, The Washington Post:  Well, I think several strands of the campaign came together all at once.

One is this very odd relationship, maybe not even relationship, that Donald Trump has with Vladimir Putin and the number of advisers around him who are overtly pro-Russian, who have made money in Russia.  So, that's one strand.

The next strand is, there is no campaign.  As you were saying, there is no one really running the store.  There is something more to a campaign than the candidate showing up and giving a speech.  There's ad buys, there's ground game, there's all sorts of elements.

And I see none of that.  And, apparently, Mr.  Manafort didn't do that.  Maybe he tried and Donald didn't let him.  Maybe he didn't know how to do that.  So, that's the second strand.

A third is, he's behind.  And the national polls, I think, underestimate the trouble he's in.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Really?

JENNIFER RUBIN:  He is trailing in virtually every poll in every battleground.  And now we have new battleground states.  They're called Georgia and Arizona, which is unheard of.

CHILDREN OF WAR - South Sudan

"A portrait of turmoil in South Sudan, from behind the lens" PBS NewsHour 8/19/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  South Sudan, the world’s newest country, is again on the brink of a civil war.  Photographer Sebastian Rich has covered the conflict in the country for more than four decades, and he is there now on a mission with UNICEF, documenting the turmoil and the toll it has taken on civilians.  The area is plagued by malnutrition and the lowest education levels in the world.  John Yang speaks with Rich.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  The world’s newest country, South Sudan, established in 2011, again stands on the brink of civil war.  A peace deal signed last year between rival governing factions is in tatters.  More than one-sixth of the country’s 12 million citizens have been displaced, and the humanitarian crisis there is worsening by the day.

John Yang has the story.

JOHN YANG (NewsHour):  For that view, we turn to photographer Sebastian Rich, who has covered conflict zones for more than four decades.  He has been to South Sudan many times.  He is there now on assignment for UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency.

He joins us now via Skype from Juba, the capital.

Sebastian, thanks for joining thus evening.

First of all, tell us how it feels now, what the situation is like on the ground now.

SEBASTIAN RICH, Photojournalist:  Well, the situation is a little more tense than it was, obviously, before the recent fighting.

The recent fighting has put the people, the ordinary people in the street.  They’re much more tense than they were.  There’s not so many friendly faces.  If you walk in the streets of Juba now, you’re not greeted the same way you were a couple of months ago or even a year ago, when I came last year.

JOHN YANG:  And how is this affecting the children that you’re covering, that you’re there watching, looking at behalf on UNICEF, particularly the issues of malnutrition?

SEBASTIAN RICH:  Well, it’s affecting the children very badly.

And there’s 250,000, a quarter-of-a-million children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.  And that’s not including the children who just got malnutrition, the first stages of.

So, what’s happened is that the children who were actually starting to recover from severe acute malnutrition before this recent fighting, when the fighting happened, those children couldn’t come back to the hospitals to get their follow-up treatment and children that had started to get malnutrition couldn’t get to the hospitals either.

So now we have this huge increase in malnutrition and severe cases of malnutrition.  And UNICEF is trying its very, very best to keep on top of this disaster.

THE $400 MILLION - 'Leverage' ?

"Leverage:  The ability of a small investment to produce a large return." - Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary


"Payment to Iran was used as ‘leverage' for hostage release, admits State Department" PBS NewsHour 8/19/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In January, Iran released American hostages in a development coinciding with a U.S.  payout of $400 million -- money that had been owed for decades.  The Obama administration previously denied a connection between the two events, but on Friday, the State Department modified its response, saying the money was used as “leverage.” Judy Woodruff talks to department spokesman Adm. John Kirby for more.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  The January release of American prisoners from Iran was accompanied by a $400 million payment, money the Islamic republic had been owed for decades from a weapons sale that was never completed between the United States and Iran because of the revolution there.  The Obama administration announced the payment at the time.

But, lately, critics have alleged that the payment's proximity to the release amounted to a ransom, a charge the administration denies.  But, yesterday, the State Department modified its response, saying the millions of dollars were used as — quote — “leverage” amid the negotiations over the prisoners.

Earlier today, I spoke with the State Department's top spokesman, Adm. John Kirby.

Adm.  John Kirby, welcome.

You have said that the cash payment that went to the Iranian government was intended as leverage to gain the release of these American prisoners.  How is that different from paying ransom?

JOHN KIRBY, State Department Spokesman:  Well, I didn't say that it was used — that it was a leverage payment.

Remember, this was Iranian money that they had coming to them through The Hague tribunal, and it was money that had been frozen way back in 1979.  So it was their money and they were going to get it anyway.

These parallel tracks were moving forward, and they began to converge.  In fact, we took advantage of the convergence in a short 24-hour period to kind of wrap it all up together.

Now, what I said is, though, while there is no connection between the $400 million and the return of our American citizens, we did, however, in those endgame hours, hold back that payment until we knew that our Americans were safe and sound and on their way out of Iran, because, in the very last few hours, Iran was playing a few games here on us.

And we weren't quite sure that the release was going to happen.  And we were worried about Iran reneging on that very lengthy negotiation process that we put in place to bring them home.

LOUISIANA - Historic Floods

"How Louisiana plans to rebuild after historically damaging floods" PBS NewsHour 8/18/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  As the Louisiana flooding begins to subside, the state looks toward rebuilding.  The disaster affected over 20 parishes, including areas outside flood zones -- meaning residents there do not have flood insurance.  William Brangham speaks with Billy Nungesser, Louisiana's lieutenant governor, about how the state is planning to use FEMA funds, the help of volunteers and Red Cross shelters to recover.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  As the flood waters start to recede, the hard work of assessing and rebuilding begins.

CLEVE BROWN, Baton Rouge Resident:  Basically, we lost everything, you know, other than our lives.  Couple of hours, we probably had six-foot of water.  Water is probably one of the worst Mother Nature beasts there is.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  An estimated 40,000 homes were damaged in the flooding that inundated Baton Rouge and Lafayette, killing at least 13 people.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson got a first hand look today.

JEH JOHNSON, Secretary of Homeland Security:  The federal government is here.  We have been here.  We will be here as long as it takes to help this community recover.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  Four thousand people are still living in shelters across the state.

GAIL MCGOVERN, Red Cross President and CEO:  This is the largest operation that the American Red Cross has responded to since 2012, Superstorm Sandy, and driving s around the affected area, it's really devastating.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  In the most damaged areas, only about one out of every eight homes is covered by flood insurance, because these areas weren't considered likely to flood.

CLEVE BROWN:  No one was expecting this.  This is, I mean, you can see, I might have gotten from here at it's worst to up here.  So, that's why no one was expecting it.  So, they're not going to have flood insurance.  They were, you know, they thought they were high and dry.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  More than 9,000 insurance claims have been filed so far.

For more on how Louisiana is doing, I'm joined now by the state's lieutenant governor, Billy Nungesser.  He joins us from Louisiana Public Broadcasting in Baton Rouge, where many of our colleagues there have also been flooded out of their homes.

SYRIA - The Haunting Image



"Will the haunting image of an injured Syrian boy make a difference?" PBS NewsHour 8/18/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Airstrikes are a constant in Aleppo, Syria.  But this week, global attention was captured by a haunting snapshot of one strike's aftermath: A 5-year-old boy bloodied, dust covered and dazed.  Such images have a history of going viral.  But do they make an impact?  Hari Sreenivasan asks Susan Moeller, a professor of journalism at the University of Maryland, and the New York Times' Anne Barnard.  *An editor's note:  The 1972 napalm airstrike in Vietnam that led to the iconic photo of a naked, burned Young girl running down a road that is mentioned in this conversation was conducted by the air force of South Vietnam, not the United States.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  It's hard not to be moved by images like that, but some pictures capture the world's attention more than others.

We begin with an image that emerged last night from the frantic attempts to rescue people caught in the aftermath of air strikes.  And again, another warning:  Some images in this story may disturb some viewers.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Airstrikes are Aleppo's terrible routine.  This one hit an apartment a building in the city's rebel-held area.  Amateur video captured the frantic scramble to save lives amid horror.

Then, a boy, pulled from the rubble, sits in an ambulance.  He's dazed, bloodied, covered in dust.  He wipes his face.  His name: Omran Daqneesh, age five.  He survived without major injuries.  So did his parents and three young siblings.

Almost immediately, his image swept across social media worldwide, making Omran the latest symbol of heartbreak in the now-five year old conflict.


There one comment I can disagree with, "And so, pictures like this hopefully, whatever your political stripe, remind you that we’re talking about just ordinary human beings." - Anne Barnard

Sorry, there is at least one NON-human in Syria, Assad.

TURNING THE TABLE - A Wall Street Millionaire

"The Wall Street millionaire bringing healthy food to those in need" PBS NewsHour 8/18/2016

REF:  “The Love of Money” by Sam Polk, New York Times 1/18/2014

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Sam Polk was making millions on Wall Street when he had a life-changing revelation:  he wanted to help those in need.  His focus became so-called "food deserts," regions with limited access to healthy food.  Polk founded Everytable to serve nutritious meals at minimal prices for low-income populations, but higher prices for customers who can afford them.  Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Now, economics correspondent Paul Solman spends a little time with a former hedge fund trader turned social entrepreneur, someone who wants to turn the table on food shortages in inner cities by launching an array of eateries in both high-end and lower-income neighborhoods.

It's part of our series “Making Sen$e”, which airs Thursdays on the “NewsHour”.

PAUL SOLMAN (NewsHour):  Sam Polk was formerly a top dog at one of the world's top hedge funds.

SAM POLK, Former Hedge Fund Trader:  My dad was this sort of Willy Loman character, this sort of out-of-work salesman that could never make ends meet.  So when I was on Wall Street, my entire life's goal was to make more money than the next guy.

DORCIA WHITE-BRAKE, Groceryships Graduate:  Just going to pour a little bit of salsa inside.  It's like your own little bowl.

MAN:  Wow, nice.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Dorcia White-Brake is a teacher's aide in Los Angeles.  Three kids, no car, the nearest supermarket miles away.

DORCIA WHITE-BRAKE:  So I can have, you know, good healthy food that tastes good.  I have to take a bus and a train.

SAM POLK:  When I was 27, I had been on Wall Street for five or six years and I was at this club in Las Vegas, and it was this super-exclusive club and there was $1,000 bottles of champagne, and beautiful women all around.  My life finally looked like I'd always wanted it to look.  But I basically felt empty.

DORCIA WHITE-BRAKE:  So, basically, I waited six months for this application.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Really.

DORCIA WHITE-BRAKE:  Yes, and I got it and I turned it in and then it seemed like an eternity.  I was waiting and waiting and finally I got a call.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Got a call to join the Los Angeles non-profit Groceryships Program, started by Sam Polk.

SAM POLK:  I started Groceryships when I came to understand that people are living in food deserts, where there's very little produce for sale and tons and tons of fast food.

CYBER WAR - NSA Code Breach

"Analyzing the NSA code breach in the context of recent cybersecurity events" PBS NewsHour 8/17/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  On Saturday, programming code for National Security Agency hacking tools was shared online.  The content appears to be legitimate, but it is not clear if it was intentionally hacked or accidentally leaked.  Hari Sreenivasan speaks with The Washington Post's Ellen Nakashima and Paul Vixie of Farsight Security about where this development fits in the context of other recent cybersecurity breaches.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  The National Security Agency's primary mission is to spy on the electronic communications of countries and people overseas.

Over the weekend, though, sophisticated code the NSA developed to penetrate computer security systems was posted online.  This serious breach comes amid the ongoing revelations of the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other organizations, allegedly by groups linked to Russian intelligence.

For more on this, we turn to The Washington Post national security correspondent Ellen Nakashima, and Paul Vixie.  He designed and built some of the software that is the backbone of the Internet today.  He is now chairman and CEO of Farsight Security, a computer security firm.

Ellen Nakashima, what happened this weekend?  What got released?

ELLEN NAKASHIMA, The Washington Post:  Over the weekend, apparently on Saturday, mysteriously, a cache of NSA hacking tools was released online through file-sharing sites such as BitTorrent and Dropbox.

It really wasn't noticed until about Monday, when the computer security community started commenting on it and questions arose as to whether or not the NSA had been hacked.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  So, Paul Vixie, if these lock picks, these digital tools to try break into different systems out are out in the open now, these are the tools that the American government was using, what is the consequence, if it is in the public sphere?

PAUL VIXIE, Farsight Security:  Well, I think, every day, everybody is trying to hack everybody.  So, this is not huge news.

What's big news about it is that these tools were built by the U.S. government.  Some of the lock picks, as you call them, are now obsolete.  They are relying on vulnerabilities that have since been closed, because the files are about 3 years old.

But at least one of them is active against a very current piece of equipment from CiscoAnd it is going to lead to a lot of break-ins while the patches are prepared and shipped and then applied.

BREXIT - And the Fishing Industry

"Why Brexit may be the best thing for Britain's fishing industry" PBS NewsHour 8/17/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The world was shocked when, in June, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.  Many believe the severance will negatively affect Britain's economy, but the fishing industry expects benefits -- including increased profitability, poverty relief and elimination of what some fishermen see as harmful restrictions.  From southwest England, special correspondent Jennifer Glasse has the story.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  There are reports that the United Kingdom's process to begin leaving the European Union may not begin until later next year, delaying the U.K.'s so-called Brexit.

The June vote to leave may have surprised many there, but it came as welcome news to the island nation's fishermen.  They have long complained about European Union rules, and now they're hoping Brexit will help them revitalize a fishing industry they say was damaged by E.U. policy.

From Southwest England, special correspondent Jennifer Glasse reports.

JENNIFER GLASSE, special correspondent:  Fishermen have brought their catches into Brixham Harbor since the Middle Ages, when it was the biggest fishing port in Southwest England.

The harbor and the fleet have changed over the centuries.  And skipper Mike Sharp hopes there are more changes to come.  That's why he voted for the U.K. to leave Europe.

MIKE SHARP, Skipper, “Emilia Jane”:  We have all the Dutch, and the French, and the Belgian fishermen, and mainly the Spanish as well coming to land to take our fish out of our waters, which we want to — you know, I think we still can let them come in, but we can decide how many comes in.

JENNIFER GLASSE:  European Union-mandated quotas stipulate what kind and how many fish the trawlers can bring in.  Sharp and other fishermen here claim the quotas favor boats from continental Europe.  E.U. rules also limited the size of fishing fleets.

MIKE SHARP:  When I started fishing 30 years ago, there was 60 beam trawlers, and now there's 17.  So, I would like to see it built back up.

JENNIFER GLASSE:  A larger fleet could mean hundreds more jobs for deck hands, engineers, welders and; onshore, processing, buying and selling fish.

Brixham Fish Market is already the largest on England's South Coast, handling about $35 million of annual trade.  This market itself was modernized in part with E.U. funds.

CLIMATE CHANGE - Today's Extreme Weather

"Scientists analyze recent extreme weather events in relation to climate change" PBS NewsHour 8/17/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The second large-scale fire in California this week is raging through the southern part of the state, and the fatal flooding in Louisiana is worsening.  Combined with the fact that this past July was the planet's single hottest month recorded, are these events indicative of climate change?  William Brangham discusses with Columbia University's Adam Sobel and Louisiana State climatologist Barry Keim.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Two major disasters in two different parts of the country have sent tens of thousands of people fleeing from their homes, and caused millions of dollars in damage.  Are these just freak events, or are they in some way related to climate change?

William Brangham brings us the latest.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  It's called the Blue Cut Fire, and it's wreaking havoc in Southern California.  The massive blaze closed major roadways like part of Interstate-15 that connects Los Angeles and Las Vegas.  And last night, officials issued evacuation orders for more than 34,000 homes.  That's some 82,000 people.

WOMAN:  I think this is the worst that I have ever seen, you know?  And it's kind of getting used to the idea of being homeless.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  The fire erupted yesterday in the Cajon Pass, a critical corridor just north of San Bernardino, only 60 miles from Los Angeles.

It quickly expanded to more than 45 square miles.  Ten air tankers, 15 helicopters and some 1,300 firefighters were deployed within 24 hours.  They faced hot and windy conditions.

MICHAEL WAKOSKI, Southern California Incident Management Team:  The fuels are extremely dry and very explosive this time of year.  And in my 40 years of fighting fire, I have never seen fire behavior so extreme as it was yesterday.

MARK HARTWIG, Chief, San Bernardino County Fire and Rescue:  I was able to get up this morning and get some eyes on it from the air.  In a word, it was devastating, a lot of homes lost yesterday.  There'll be a lot of families that come home to nothing.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for the Blue Cut area, as he did earlier this week for a major blaze north of San Francisco.  That fire has since started to fade.  The man suspected of sparking it, as well as 16 smaller fires over the last year, has now been charged with arson.

Seventeen hundred miles across the country, a different kind of disaster is unfolding in Louisiana, where some of the worst floods in history have hit the state.  As the water begins to recede in some parts, the numbers are stark.  At least 11 people have died, 30,000 people have been rescued, and 40,000 homes damaged.

MAN:  We lost everything, God, just about.  We got out safely and all of our friends are safe, so that's the main thing.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  So far, about 68,000 people have signed up for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  The American Red Cross says this flooding has triggered its largest disaster operation since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

The catastrophes in California and Louisiana have again raised the question:  Are these events caused in part by global climate change?  Both events follow a July that was the planet's single hottest month since records began in the 19th century, and many computer models have indicated that, as temperatures rise, droughts and extreme weather are likely to follow.

To help us sort out what's driving these extreme events, we turn to two scientists well-versed in these matters.  Barry Keim is a climatologist for the state of Louisiana and a professor at Louisiana State University, and Adam Sobel is a professor of environmental science at Columbia University.  He also directs its 'Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate.'

THE WORK PLACE - Updated, Fallout at Fox News

"In the wake of the Ailes resignation, we discuss workplace sexual harassment" PBS NewsHour 8/16/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson was the first woman to accuse network co-founder Roger Ailes of sexual harassment.  She was not the last:  a subsequent flood of allegations forced Ailes to resign.  As the company investigates, Judy Woodruff interviews former network news executive Shelley Ross and Vanity Fair's Sarah Ellison about the case and the larger issue of workplace sexual misconduct.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  An update on the fallout at FOX News over allegations that its co-founder, Roger Ailes, sexually harassed women employees for years.

Ailes resigned in late July with a reported $40 million severance package, that after a lawsuit by former FOX anchor Gretchen Carlson alleged that her show was canceled because she'd rebuffed sexual advances from Ailes.

In the following weeks, a growing number of women, including prime-time anchor Megyn Kelly, reportedly came forward with similar stories of impropriety.  Ailes has called Ms. Carlson's accusations false.  And an internal investigation by FOX's parent company is still under way.

For a closer look, not only at this case, but at the wider matter of sexual harassment in the workplace, we turn to Sarah Ellison, a contributing editor at “Vanity Fair.”  She recently reported on the Ailes allegations.  And Shelley Ross, she's a former network television news executive, best known for her 17-year tenure at ABC News.  She recently wrote about her own professional experiences with Roger Ailes, and the news business at large, in The Daily Beast.

And we welcome both of you to the program.

And we should note at the outset, Roger Ailes back in the news today because of a New York Times report that he's now advising Donald Trump's campaign.  And we should say the campaign denies that.

But, Sarah Ellison, I want to turn to you first.

What is the state of what is known about Roger Ailes' alleged harassment of women at FOX News?

SARAH ELLISON, Vanity Fair:  Well, we know — largely, what we know is what we have learned from our reporting, which is that the internal investigation that is ongoing that you referred to earlier, has identified at least women in the double digits who have come forward and spoken to the internal investigation.

And we know that it was something that implicated Ailes certainly.  There are people who have come out and told their stories, but there are people who have not yet come forward, and I think that we're going to see more women, even more women come forward in the coming days.

PRE-SCHOOLING - Struggling Educators

"Why are early childhood educators struggling to make ends meet?" PBS NewsHour 8/16/2016

IMHO because we are not willing to pay them what they deserve.  Money is more important than child education in our greed-addicted culture.

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Science tells us that critical brain development in children begins well before kindergarten, so their care and education prior to starting school matter.  But the very foundation of effective early education -- child care providers -- often struggle to earn a living wage.  In fact, nearly half of these teachers require some sort of federal support to make ends meet.  Hari Sreenivasan reports.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Now a look at how pre-K teachers and early child care workers struggle to make ends meet, earning little better than subsistence wages, even as parents and the Obama administration say they increasingly value what they do.

It's part of our weekly education series 'Making the Grade,' produced this week in collaboration with The Hechinger Report.

CHANEE WILSON, Teacher, Booth Memorial Child Development Center:  OK.  What color is this?

CHILDREN:  Yellow.

CHANEE WILSON:  Yellow and white.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Chanee Wilson teaches at the Salvation Army's Child Development Center in Oakland, California.  This year, the center received a top quality rating from the state.

CHERYL MURRAY, Program Director, Booth Memorial Child Development Center:  Our teachers are doing a really good job.  They're not just baby-sitting.  They're actually teaching.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  But program director Cheryl Murray says, despite the high rating, she is not able to pay her teachers a livable wage.

CHERYL MURRAY:  We're unable.  If we pay them more, then we wouldn't be able to serve the families, and the families really need the service.  I wish I could hit the lottery and pay more for them.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  The center serves low-income families and gets 80 percent of its funding from state subsidies.  Families pay on a sliding scale based on their income, and teachers are paid minimum wage or slightly higher.

One issue is staffing.  Because they have younger children, child care classes require more teachers than kindergarten.  Chanee Wilson lives in Section 8 subsidized housing with her two children and receives a small amount of money in food stamps.  She makes $13.25 an hour.

CHANEE WILSON:  It's a struggle every month paycheck to paycheck.  You have kids and you have bills.  We more focus on the needs, which is like providing the roof over their heads, the clothes, then the food, and things like that.

NEWSHOUR BOOKSHELF - "White Trash"

"The origin of ‘white trash,' and why class is still an issue in the U.S." PBS NewsHour 8/16/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In “White Trash,” Nancy Isenberg delves into the history of class in America, starting with British colonization.  At that time, America was seen as a wasteland -- a place to discard the idle poor.  The agrarian communities they subsequently formed often remained poor due to a phenomenon Isenberg calls “horizontal mobility.”  Jeffrey Brown speaks with the author about how we can evolve past class.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Now, a look at the history of poor white Americans.

That's the focus of the latest addition to the “NewsHour” Bookshelf.

Here's Jeffrey Brown.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  “This book tells many stories.  Arguably, the most important is the one we as a people have trouble embracing, the pervasiveness of a class hierarchy in the United States.”

That line comes from a new book with the provocative title “White Trash,” which makes a provocative argument that, from the nation's earliest history to now, ideals such as opportunity and upward mobility haven't characterized the lives of many Americans.

Author Nancy Isenberg is a professor of history at Louisiana State University.

And welcome to you.

NANCY ISENBERG, Author, “White Trash”:  The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America”:  Well, thanks for having me.

JEFFREY BROWN:  I think what hit me most is the idea that the poor have not only been accepted, but expected, that it's a part of our national DNA.  That's the argument you're making?

NANCY ISENBERG:  Well, I think one of the things we forget is that, for half of our history, we were an agrarian nation.

So, white trash really comes out of notions of rural poverty.  And it goes all the way back to British ideas, because, in the colonial period and well throughout the 19th century, the mark of being a successful American was being a property owner.

And what we have forgotten is that large numbers of Americans didn't own property.  For example, in Thomas Jefferson's Virginia at the time of the revolution, 40 percent of white men were landless.

JEFFREY BROWN:  So, when you refer to white trash, I just want to be clear.  And the idea of white trash, literally, the term was used, the terms like waste.  Who do you mean?

NANCY ISENBERG:  Yes, the word white trash, at least as far as we have been able to discover, first appeared in newspaper print in the 1820s.

But it has a much older meaning, because, if we go back to some of the leading promoters of British colonization, when they imagined what were they going to do with the new world.  The new world, first of all, was imagined as a wilderness, what they called a wasteland.

And it was the perfect place for literally dumping the idle poor.  And these were referred to as waste people.

SYRIA - Targeting Doctors

Assad War Criminal

"Repeatedly targeted by airstrikes, Syrian doctors feel abandoned" PBS NewsHour 8/15/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In Syria's ongoing war, doctors are under attack in the very places they expect to be safe, their hospitals.  Last week, pro-government forces bombed a maternity hospital in the northwestern city of Idlib -- just one of the more than 375 strikes on medical facilities since the revolution began, according to Physicians for Human Rights.  Special Correspondent Marcia Biggs reports.

MARCIA BIGGS, Special Correspondent:  It is a war crime to target medical facilities, but, in Syria, bombs rain down on hospitals, doctors and patients.

Just in the last few weeks, pro-government forces bombed a maternity hospital in Idlib, supported by 'Save the Children.'  And airstrikes hit six hospitals around Aleppo.  Nurses gathered babies from their incubators, the strike narrowly missing their ward.

Rami Kalazi is no stranger to airstrikes like these.

DR.  RAMI KALAZI, Aleppo Neurosurgeon:  I was sleeping here, and my colleague is here.  And the attack happened.  We came out alive.  I don't know how.

MARCIA BIGGS:  Kalazi was one of Aleppo's last remaining doctors.  We caught up with him in Turkey.  He said he believes these hospitals were targeted.

DR.  RAMI KALAZI:  They are the artery of life in the city.  Can you imagine a life in city without hospitals?  Who will treat your kids?  Who will make the surgeries for the injured people?  So, they are targeting these hospitals because they know, if these hospitals were completely destroyed, the life will be completely destroyed.

MARCIA BIGGS:  Eastern Aleppo had already suffered a massive blow in April, when Al Quds Hospital, supported by 'Doctors Without Borders,' and the city's main pediatric hospital, was destroyed by two consecutive airstrikes.

DR.  RAMI KALAZI:  It was a very hard night.  Every one or two hour, we had an airstrike, and we had to treat some injured people.

MARCIA BIGGS:  Soon he realized the full extent of the damage, more than 50 people dead, including six members of hospital staff.

DR.  RAMI KALAZI:  They were all friends.  So, it was emotionally so hard, because you are treating your friend.  You know how hard is that.  And you see that he is in danger, he may not live, he may not survive.  It was a horrible night.



"In ravaged Aleppo, the fight for survival can begin before birth" PBS NewsHour 8/18/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In Aleppo, Syria's largest city and a stronghold of the Islamic State, warfare usually means an end to life, not its beginning.  Recently, a woman nearing labor and walking to the hospital was seriously injured in a bombing.  But after an emergency cesarean section and a long struggle to help the infant breathe, a cry was heard.  Filmmaker Waad Al-Kateab documents this dual fight for life.

AMERICAN SECURITY - Are We Any Safer

"15 years after 9/11, national security is stronger — but so are the threats" PBS NewsHour 8/15/2016

Excerpts

SUMMARY:  As we approach the 15th anniversary of 9/11, we ponder the question:  Is America safer now from terrorism than it was on that fateful day?  Steven Brill spent the last year evaluating what has changed, including tightened airline security policies, but also how the country returned to "politics as usual."  He speaks with Judy Woodruff about his findings -- and his recommendations.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  And now a look at the current state of security inside the U.S.

As we approach the 15th anniversary of 9/11, journalist Steven Brill spent the past year looking into how the country has changed since that terrible day, what's been spent and what gaps still exist.  His article, “Are We Any Safer?”, appears in the latest issue of “The Atlantic.”

And I recently sat down with him and asked him what he learned.

STEVEN BRILL, Contributor, The Atlantic:  In a nutshell, what I concluded was, the way we have responded to the terrorist attacks, to 9/11, which, you know, changed everything, is sort of a microcosm of what we are as a country today.

A lot of it was heroic, ingenious, people going beyond the cause of duty, doing really great things.  And then a lot of it was actually quite the opposite, a lot of Beltway boondoggles, billions of dollars wasted because government contractors promised technology and solutions that they couldn't produce.

And we have struggled as a country with dealing with the notion of this new kind of risk.  The idea, as President Bush explained, after 9/11, of never again, we're never going to have a terrorist attack again, that's just unrealistic in today's world.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  You clearly give the government — and it spans several administrations, two administrations — credit for getting some things right, as you just said, but…

STEVEN BRILL:  A lot of things right, and a lot of unsung people, tens of thousands of people going to work every day at the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, places like TSA, the Border Patrol, really obsessed with the job of keeping us safe.

And the only time we notice them is when something goes wrong.  And that makes it a tough job.  On the other hand, a lot of it went back to politics as usual.  Every small town that you can think of made a request for government grants for homeland security, for everything ranging from routine fire trucks to fish tanks in a police station.

So, there are a lot of abuses.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  I was struck because, early on in the piece, you say, yes, we are safer than we were on 9/11, safer against the kind of threat we faced on 9/11.

STEVEN BRILL:  Right.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  But the threat has changed.

STEVEN BRILL:  Right.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And that's what the government is — all of us are grappling with right now.

STEVEN BRILL:  We have done a lot to batten down the hatches, to make us safer, at the airports, at the ports, all over the place.

But the threats have multiplied, the threats around the world.  Our defenses are much stronger.  The offense has multiplied and is much stronger.  And it's more difficult because, unlike the kind of coordinated, orchestrated attack that we faced on 9/11, where people were communicating, money was exchanging hands, that kind of stuff which we can now track, if some lone wolf in his basement is online
-----
JUDY WOODRUFF:  What would you say to the next leader of this country, the next president about what most needs to be done to make this country…

(CROSSTALK)

STEVEN BRILL:  Well, the first thing that needs not to be done is to declare war on Muslims or Islam, because that’s exactly what those terrorists want.

They want this to be the apocalyptic, end-of-all-worlds war between them and us.  And President Bush didn’t take the bait, and President Obama has resisted taking that bait.

Donald Trump campaigns on that.  And it almost makes you think — in fact, it makes me think that ISIS would love to have someone like Trump be President, because they would get the fulfillment of their dream, which is to have the great confrontation with Western civilization.

The second thing is to keep educating the country.  While doing everything we can to prevent terrorism, keep educating the country to the reality that there are going to be some attacks, and that doesn’t mean it’s the apocalypse.  It doesn’t mean we’re weak.

Saying there are going to be attacks doesn’t mean you’re throwing in the towel, but it means we have to be realistic.

PRIVATE EYE - Everybody Is Watching

"How one exhibit is rethinking privacy in a world that's always watching" PBS NewsHour 8/15/2016

"The changing role of privacy in a world inundated with surveillance and oversharing."

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  At lower Manhattan's International Center for Photography, the new exhibit “Public, Private, Secret” examines the changing role of privacy in light of contemporary surveillance and oversharing.  The exhibition offers a historical perspective on voyeurism and surveillance and considers the definition of photography in the digital age, when camera access is nearly universal.  Jeffrey Brown reports.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  A stark message stops visitors in their tracks at the threshold of the International Center of Photography's new home:  “By entering this area, you consent to being photographed, filmed and/or otherwise recorded, and surrender the right to the use of such material throughout the universe in perpetuity.”

And that's what the museum's first exhibition in its brand-new space in Lower Manhattan explores, the changing role of privacy in a world inundated with surveillance and oversharing.

PAULINE VERMARE, Associate Curator, “Public, Private, Secret”:  What is your secret life?  How can you keep it secret?  I think that's one of the keys of this exhibition is really that, keeping your privacy, but also making sure that your secret life remains your secret life.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Pauline Vermare is the associate curator of Public, Private, Secret, a mix of visual media, modern and historical.

There's this 1946 Yale Joel photograph of a couple through a two-way mirror for a series in “LIFE” magazine, and more contemporary surveillance art by Jill Magid, who captured herself on surveillance cameras, and Merry Alpern, who secretly shot through the bathroom window of a seedy sex club for her “Dirty Windows” series.

The museum itself has come a long way from its 1974 beginnings in a Manhattan mansion under the direction of famed Hungarian photographer Cornell Capa.

Since then, the world of photography has changed.

MARK LUBELL, Executive Director, International Center of Photography:  It is the most Democratic format.  It is in the hands of all of us.  We all are now visually communicating.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Mark Lubell is the current director of the museum, known as the ICP.  He's overseen an institutional shift, from photojournalism and art photography to an embrace of today's digital media landscape, where cell phone cameras are ubiquitous.

MARK LUBELL:  The big difference is, it used to be a few people taking images that went out to millions.  And now it's millions and millions of people going out to millions and millions of people.  I think that's a seismic shift in the medium, and it's something that we should be looking at and exploring.

Friday, August 19, 2016

U.S.  SENATE - Shirking Their Duty

"Al Franken Tears Into Mitch McConnell On Senate Floor For Being An Unpatriotic Coward" by Bipartisan Report, BipartisanReport .com 2/25/2016

Excerpt

Senator Al Franken (D-MN) is a very funny guy.  Many people remember Franken as a brilliant comedian on Saturday Night Live, who was best known for his neurotic character Stewart Smalley.  However, Franken took to the Senate floor recently to shame Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans for their brazen, shameless cowardice and disservice to the Constitution.

McConnell and Senate Republicans made it clear just hours after former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's body went cold, that they would not “move forward” on nominating a replacement while President Obama was sill in office.  In fact, that was the first statement McConnell sent via Twitter after he learned of Scalia's death.

@SenateMajLdr (Twitter)

The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.  #Scalia https://www.facebook.com/mitchmcconnell/posts/1021148581257166 …
4:35 PM - 13 Feb 2016

Using the American people as cover, Republicans have vowed to desert their constitutional duties, in hopes of gaining political leverage by 2017.  Franken and other Senate Democrats made it clear that they would not stand by and let the Republicans make a mockery of the constitution.

VIDEO OF THE MONTH: A Hospital Story

From:  Power of Positivity




Tuesday, August 16, 2016

REMINDER - From the '70s "WAR!"

"WAR" by Edwin Starr (1970)

As applicable today as it was then.  And I am a Vietnam Vet (USN retired 22yrs).

War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Uh-huh
War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Say it again, y'all

War, huh, good God
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Listen to me

Ohhh, war, I despise
Because it means destruction
Of innocent lives

War means tears
To thousands of mothers eyes
When their sons go to fight
And lose their lives

I said, war, huh
Good God, y'all
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Say it again

War, whoa, Lord
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Listen to me

War, it ain't nothing
But a heartbreaker
War, friend only to the undertaker
Ooooh, war
It's an enemy to all mankind
The point of war blows my mind
War has caused unrest
Within the younger generation
Induction then destruction
Who wants to die
Aaaaah, war-huh
Good God y'all
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Say it, say it, say it
War, huh
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Listen to me

War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Uh-huh
War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Say it again y'all
War, huh, good God
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Listen to me

War, it ain't nothing but a heartbreaker
War, it's got one friend
That's the undertaker
Ooooh, war, has shattered
Many a young mans dreams
Made him disabled, bitter and mean
Life is much to short and precious
To spend fighting wars these days
War can't give life
It can only take it away

Ooooh, war, huh
Good God y'all
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Say it again

War, whoa, Lord
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Listen to me

War, it ain't nothing but a heartbreaker
War, friend only to the undertaker
Peace, love and understanding
Tell me, is there no place for them today
They say we must fight to keep our freedom
But Lord knows there's got to be a better way

Ooooooh, war, huh
Good God y'all
What is it good for
You tell me
Say it, say it, say it, say it

War, huh
Good God y'all
What is it good for
Stand up and shout it
Nothing


Monday, August 15, 2016

JUSTICE IN AMERICA - Jury Trials

"Why jury trials are becoming less common" PBS NewsHour 8/13/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  A new analysis of federal court cases published last week by The New York Times shows that jury trials are becoming increasingly less common.  In 1997, 3,200 out of 63,000 federal defendants were convicted in jury trials.  But by 2015, even as the number of defendants grew to 81,000, jury convictions dropped to 1,650.  Benjamin Weiser of The New York Times joins William Brangham from Maine.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:  Judging by the proliferation of TV shows, miniseries and podcasts about our legal system, you'd think jury trials are the norm.  But a new analysis of federal court cases indicates that the trend is actually moving in a different direction.

A story in “The New York Times” last Sunday showed, in 1997, of the 63,000 federal defendants, 3,200 were convicted in jury trials.  But by 2015, even as the number of federal defendants grew to 81,000, jury convictions dropped by half to just 1,650.

Reporter Benjamin Weiser wrote the story and he joins me now from Maine to help us understand what's going on.

So, Benjamin, what is driving this decline?

BENJAMIN WEISER, NEW YORK TIMES:  There appear to be a lot of reasons.  People particularly pointed out to me the sentencing guidelines which Congress passed a number of years ago, mandatory minimum sentences which set a floor for certain crimes under which someone cannot receive a sentence.  And as a result, there was at least, for a period and remains, an incentive that drives many defendants to decide that it — you know, after a risk-benefit analysis, that it makes much more sense to plead guilty and take their risks at perhaps getting a lower sentence, than if they go to trial and are convicted.

BRANGHAM:  Is there a down side to this?   I mean, just offhand, I can imagine some pretty considerable savings to taxpayers if we don't have an endless amount of jury trials going on.  What's the down side here?

WEISER:  You know, the most central issue that people pointed out to me, including a number of judges, is that so much in the criminal justice system does not happen in public, but the one thing that does is a trial.  And when you see a criminal trial before a jury, everything is out there.  The government's evidence is tested.  The defense, of course, gets its best shot.  The public gets to see what's happening.

And this is particularly important.  And I have seen this in recent political corruption trials, for example, where the government got to lay out the evidence it was bringing.  Without trials, with only pleas, plea bargains (much of that happens behind closed doors), and several judges to me said it's very disappointing that as the number of trials disappear, the public nature of what happens in the courthouse also vanishes.

OPINION - Brooks and Dionne 8/12/2016

"Brooks and Dionne on the GOP's dilemma and the role of ‘common decency' in the campaign" PBS NewsHour 8/12/2016

Excerpts

SUMMARY:  Donald Trump made more controversial statements this week and remains behind in polls.  But it was not a great week for Hillary Clinton, either, more emails were leaked that could prove damaging.  Judy Woodruff speaks with David Brooks of The New York Times and E.J. Dionne Jr.  of The Washington Post about Republicans' quandary, the characters of the candidates, and “unimaginative” tax plans.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  And now back to the world of politics, and to the analysis of Brooks and Dionne.  That is New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne.

Welcome.

Mark Shields is away this week.

So, let's pick up, gentlemen, with where I left off a few minutes ago with Robert Costa of The Washington Post.

David, what a week for Donald Trump.  I guess we all thought maybe things were going to slow down, but first there was the comment about the Second Amendment that — seen by some as a threat to Hillary Clinton, and then the ISIS comments.

How do we interpret how Donald Trump is communicating with everybody?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times:  Well, this isn't a decision he is making.  It's a condition he possesses.

And we're not used to talking about the psychological mental health of our candidates.  And in some things, I think it's not fair to talk about his mental health, in terms of how he operates with his kids in his private life, but there is a such a thing as public psychology and political psychology.

And in public, he obviously displays extreme narcissism, but most of all, he displays a certain manic, hyperactive attention.  And so if you graph a Trump sentence, every eight-word verse, he's like associative thinking.

And there is a term in psychology called the flights of thought, where one word sets off an association, which sets off an association.  And as one psychiatrist said, compare his speeches to Robin Williams' monologues, but without the jokes, but with insults.

And so he's not in control of his own attention, I don't believe.  And, therefore, you get these rambling, weird sentences.  You get things he patently shouldn't be saying.  And then even this, I'm being sarcastic about the sarcasm, I'm obviously being sarcastic, and then maybe a fifth a second later, he said, but not that much.

So he is contradicting himself within 12 words.  And that's a condition.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, E.J., how are we to understand this, as people trying to understand this election?

E.J. DIONNE, Washington Post:  Well, I have been thinking about it, that there is the English language and then there's the Trump language.

And in the Trump language, words change their meaning day by day depending on his own political needs.  I won't go into the learned psychological explanation that David gave, but there are a lot of people now talking that way about him.

But, politically, he doesn't seem to care much about what he says.  He gauges the effect.  Sometimes, in the middle of a speech, he will change his direction if the audience doesn't like him.

And I had a very instructive trip this week to York, Pennsylvania.  It's a conservative county, Southern Pennsylvania, not far from here.  And one of the most interesting conversations I had was with Allison Cooper, the editor of The York Dispatch.

And talked about how people in this very Republican area — York City is Democratic, but the county is very Republican — are people who care about manners and decorum.  And she spoke about — what she said is, common decency is a core part of who people are.

And I think in this campaign, we have talked about soccer moms, we have talked about angry white men, and I think you're starting to develop common decency voters who are just reacting to what Trump says.

A Republican county commissioner I talked to up to there said that she's been active with veterans.  And after what Trump said about the Khan family and what he said about the Purple Heart, she said, I can't vote for him.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  The convention.

E.J. DIONNE:  And so something deep is happening, and it has nothing to do with ideology or even party.
-----
JUDY WOODRUFF:  Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump said something about their economic plans this week.

David, do we learn anything from this?  What’s the bright line between the two of them?

DAVID BROOKS:  Well, there certainly are bright lines.

I was depressed by both of them.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID BROOKS:  I think the country, the economy has some new, genuine challenges.

We have had incredibly laggard growth.  Productivity increases have been meager and terrible. Hundreds — millions of people have dropped out of the labor force.  These have all happened this century.  And to me, what both Clinton and especially Trump did was have economic plans built for 1973, as if we’re going to have labor-rich manufacturing jobs come back.

Labor-rich manufacturing doesn’t exist anymore.  Manufacturing jobs are white-collar, Silicon Valley programmers or highly-skilled technicians.  They are not going to employ lots of people.  And so we had two economic plans that had, in my view, very limited growth agendas.

Infrastructure is good, but not it.  Very limited productivity agendas, and really nothing to help people who are out of the labor force.  So, they were so unimaginative.  They were sort of grab bags, in Clinton’s case, of either the normal policies that Democrats have been proposing 20 years, or, in Trump’s case, a mixture of weird things that are left over from supply-side and populism.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  How did you read all that?

E.J. DIONNE:  I saw — I thought there was more growth and sort of forward-looking stuff in the Clinton plan than David was.

I was particularly struck that she began her speech by talking about the inventiveness of companies in Michigan and how they were taking advantage of change.  And it reflected this issue that Democrats have to deal with.  They want to sort of talk about how things are a lot better than they were eight years ago — and they really are — but if they say that too much, they look out of touch with all the people who are hurting, whereas Trump, I thought, if you listened carefully, he’s giving the words to the workers and money to the rich.

The tax cuts that he has sort of make Reagan look like a — you know, almost like a Democrat.  I mean, these are steep tax cuts for the wealthy, getting rid of the inheritance tax, the estate tax, which would be particularly good, as Hillary Clinton loves to point out…

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Well, he’s trimmed some of the taxes…

E.J. DIONNE:  I’m sorry?

JUDY WOODRUFF:  He’s trimmed some of the tax changes he’s talked about.

E.J. DIONNE:  He trims it, but it’s still a huge tax cut, with nothing, no talk of compensation for the deficit or anything else.

And Hillary had fun saying that this is really good for Trump’s family and his friends, but it’s not clear who it’s going to help.

I don’t know what the net of this exchange is, but I think you’re seeing is, Clinton is not going to leave blue-collar voters to Trump.  She is fighting for them.  And a lot of what she’s done in the last two or three weeks has been to try to shore up her position in those swing states with a lot of blue-collar voters.

BRIEF BUT SPECTACULAR - Lynsey Addario

"This photojournalist is risking her life to make an impact" PBS NewsHour 8/12/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Lynsey Addario has been kidnapped three times in international battle zones while photographing the horrors of war.  She has witnessed the loss of lives -- and has feared losing her own.  Addario acknowledges that her job requires “great sacrifice.”  But when she sees the impact of her work, she finds it impossible to stop doing it.  Here’s her Brief but Spectacular take on life as a photojournalist.

MIDDLE EAST - The Fractured Lands

"Explaining the Middle East conflicts through the eyes of six individuals" PBS NewsHour 8/12/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In an article that consumes the entirety of this week's New York Times Magazine, Scott Anderson aims to tell a story of great breadth and timeliness,  how the current conflicts in the Middle East arose, and how they might evolve from here.  Hari Sreenivasan discusses with Anderson how the writer leveraged six individual voices to illustrate the narrative of these immensely complex hostilities.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  The last five years of tumult in the Middle East defy easy explanations.  Revolutions that began with much hope in early 2011 have evolved into disaster in places like Syria and Libya and led to political upheaval and repression in Egypt.

In Iraq, the American-led war that began in 2003 has morphed into a many-sided conflict that has once again brought America back into the fight there and in Syria.

Caught in the middle, millions of people whose lives have been upended.

An attempt to capture in part the story of this cataclysmic time comes now from journalist Scott Anderson and photographer Paolo Pellegrin, whose work “Fractured Landscomprises the entirety issue of this Sunday's “New York Times Magazine.”

And Scott Anderson joins me now.

You're telling one bigger story, and you're using six different voices to get at it.

SCOTT ANDERSON, Contributing Writer, The New York Times Magazine:  Right.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  But the big thesis in a nutshell.

SCOTT ANDERSON:  I wanted to tell this kind of broad story of how we got here, and to a degree where we might be headed next.  And to tell this story, I really needed to focus in on people.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  One of the characters that you focus on in Iraq is so compelling.  It's a young woman who ends up — she was working for the CPA for a little while, the Provisional Authority.  Tell us about her arc now.

SCOTT ANDERSON:  Right.

Yes.  Khulood al-Zaidi, she was — she's from a provincial town in Southern Iraq from a Shia family.  When the Americans invaded in 2003, she heard the talk of democracy and human rights and women's empowerment that the CPA was talking about.  She became an instant convert.  She worked for the CPA.

And then, when the Americans left, she was stranded on the beach, so to speak.  And she tried to continue doing work.  She received many death threats from the militias, finally ended up having to go into exile in Jordan.  And just in the last — about six months, she joined the migrant exodus to Europe.

So, now she and one of her sisters are living in a little town in Austria, and they have been given asylum and they're going to start a university in September.

2016 OLYMPICS - The Refugee Team

"All-new refugee team wins hearts, if not medals, at Rio Olympics" PBS NewsHour 8/12/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  They may not be winning gold, but their stories are certainly medal worthy.  The first-ever Refugee Olympic Team is competing in Rio, stacked with athletes like 18-year-old Yusra Mardini, who saved herself and other Syrians stranded during a dangerous Aegean crossing.  Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, says that the team aims to counteract negative global sentiment toward refugees.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  And we turn to another big story of these Games, away from the medal podiums.

Across the globe today, there are some 65 million people who've been forced from their homes, an unprecedented number.  Ten refugees are now on the world stage in Rio.

He didn't win the 100 meter butterfly yesterday, not even close, but 25-year-old Rami Anis, a Syrian refugee now living in Belgium, did get a standing ovation; 18-year-old Yusra Mardini, also from Syria, won a preliminary heat in her race before failing to advance further.  Still, by the very special terms she'd set for herself, this was a victory.

YUSRA MARDINI, Swimmer, Refugee Olympic Team:  For the refugees in Brazil, and all the refugees around the world, we are going to represent you guys in a really good picture.  And I hope you are going to learn from our story that you have to move on, because life will never stop with your problems or anything.  And I hope that everyone will continue to achieve their dreams.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Just last year, both Yusra Mardini and Rami Anis made the dangerous voyage across the Aegean Sea that's become a symbol of an international refugee crisis.

On Mardini's trip, the motor failed and she and her sister, also a swimmer, were the only ones strong enough to swim the crowded boat to safety.  One week ago, to a resounding welcome, the two young Syrians and eight other athletes made history as the first ever Refugee Olympic Team.

Filippo Grandi, U.N.  high commissioner for refugees, was there, and spoke with us yesterday from his Geneva headquarters.

FILIPPO GRANDI, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:  I was so nervous, like if I was going to give an exam, I can tell you.  And we had to wait for the whole ceremony, because they were the last but one team to enter before the hosts, Brazil.  And when they entered, the emotion was unlimited.

POETRY IN MOTION - More Than a Olympian

"This Olympian — and poet — on her love for 'freedom within boundaries'" PBS NewsHour 8/11/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  On Friday, long-distance runner Alexi Pappas will compete in Rio in her first-ever Olympic race.  But unlike many of her Olympic peers, Pappas does not put all her talent in one basket.  In addition to training as a world-class runner, she is also a filmmaker, actress and poet, and she writes about what she knows,  track.  “As a storyteller, I want to tell stories that I can uniquely tell,” she says.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  Now, a poet and filmmaker who also happens to be an Olympic runner in Rio.  She'll be competing tomorrow.

And, as you'll see, there are a number of connections for her between the way she writes and the way she runs.

ALEXI PAPPAS, Olympic Long-distance Runner, Greece:  My name is Alexi PappasAnd I'm a professional long-distance runner with Nike.  And I'm also a filmmaker, actress and poet.

This summer, I will race in my first Olympic Games in the 10,000 meters on the track.  I will be running for Team Greece.  I'm a duel citizen and decided to compete for Team Greece because I can compete at the highest level, but I can also reach a young generation of girls who don't necessarily have the long-distance role models that we are lucky enough to have in the United States.  So, I'm very excited.

I think I was a more serious poet before I was a serious runner.  What I find with writing that is so special, and in poetry in particular, is, there's such an economy of words.  And I like having absolute freedom within boundaries.

And in running, similarly, there are these limitations.  So, in a race, you might have a certain lane that you have to stay in or a certain number of laps or a course.  But within those boundaries, there's so much room for freedom and creativity and personality.

“Breaking Tape.”

“It happened like I imagine it would feel to throw open big double doors, the kind from a mansion or dollhouse.  I looked maybe like a very strong princess charging through the gate towards the castle I built myself.”

“Tracktown” is a film that we have just made and premiered and is inspired by my observations and experiences as an elite runner in Eugene, Oregon.  And when I moved to Eugene to run a fifth year with the Oregon Ducks, after I graduated Dartmouth, I found that the town and the community embraced running in a way that I had never seen before.

WOMAN:  “A goal is a dream with a deadline” — Napoleon Hill.

ALEXI PAPPAS:  As a storyteller, I want to tell stories that I uniquely can tell and stories in highly specific worlds that most people don't get the chance to see.

PUBLIC SPACES - High Line Park



"Above Manhattan's bustle, a reshaped public space" PBS NewsHour 8/11/2016

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In the mid-20th century, it was a railroad; now it's a public park.  Built in the 1930s, 30 feet above the streets of Manhattan, the High Line was crucial for transporting cargo.  But with the decline of rail transportation, it closed in 1980 and was abandoned.  Almost three decades later, it opened again -- this time, as a shared space for greenery, art and leisure.  Jeffrey Brown reports.

JAMES CORNER, Founder, James Corner Field Operations:  This is one of my favorite moments.  This is where these tracks crisscross.  It's called a frog.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  Railroad tracks of old in a park that has helped changed contemporary thinking about cities and public spaces.

JAMES CORNER:  We amplify found conditions.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Recently, I visited New York's phenomenally successful High Line Park with its designer, landscape architect James Corner.

JAMES CORNER:  I think this is what a lot of people like.  They see this.  They have discovered a found object.  There's a sense of surprise, a sense of delight.  It's real and authentic.  It's not Disney.

JEFFREY BROWN:  And it really is real.

JAMES CORNER:  And people get a kick out of it, especially in the context of modern-day Manhattan.

JEFFREY BROWN:  The original railway tracks, 30 feet above street level, were built in the 1930s.  Trains carried meat, milk and other cargo, sometimes making deliveries direct to Manhattan companies.

After trains stopped running here — the last was in 1980 — the site wasted away, an eyesore that no one could figure out what to do with, until they did:  Create a new kind of public park.

Since its opening in 2009, the High Line has attracted millions of visitors and plenty of attention from other cities eager to recreate its magic.

James Corner's firm, James Corner Field Operations, worked on the High Line with architects Diller Scofidio and Renfro and famed Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf.

JAMES CORNER:  It was a huge effort and a big leap of faith, because the High Line was really perceived by a lot of people to be a liability, derelict, abandoned, dangerous, dark, drugs, crime.