Monday, August 31, 2015

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 8/28/2015

"Shields and Brooks on Biden’s presidential pondering, voter perceptions of Clinton" PBS NewsHour 8/28/2015


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including whether Vice President Joe Biden will join the 2016 presidential race, whether Hillary Clinton has stumbled as a frontrunner and why Sen. Bernie Sanders still seems like a long shot despite drawing huge crowds.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Vice President Joe Biden weighs a run for the White House.  Party loyalists criticize Hillary Clinton’s handling of her personal e-mail account.  And Bernie Sanders continues to draw huge crowds and pulls ahead in New Hampshire — just a few of this week’s news developments, as we turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.

That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome, gentlemen.

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated columnist:  Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, we have been spending a lot of time talking about the Republican race for the last few weeks.  Let’s spend some time tonight talking about the Democrats.

Joe Biden, David, a lot of talk about whether he’s going to get in.  He’s been meeting with the head of the Teamsters union.  He met with the liberal darling Elizabeth Warren, Senator Warren.  He’s got people advocating for him now at this big Democratic gathering in Minneapolis.

Do you think he’s going to get in?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times:  No.



Well, first, God bless him for his resilience.  The guy loses a son, and still wants to serve the country and still is emotionally strong enough to do it.  I salute him.  And — but — and he’s a wonderful man, and he’s a great public servant.

But what the country is in the mood for is anti-establishment.  I think that’s one of the reasons Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are sailing into headwinds.  Bernie Sanders has it.  Donald Trump has it in spades.  Joe Biden doesn’t have it.

And so whatever the problem is with the Clinton campaign, Joe Biden also has that problem.  And so I think he will get a sense of that larger atmosphere, let alone the money and the organization and all that, and Hillary Clinton’s still formidable strength, really.  And so my guess — it’s a guess shared by a lot of Democratic insiders — is that he won’t do it.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Do you share the guess?


And, you know, and with great respect for David, but I don’t think anybody knows.  As David indicated, he wasn’t sure.  It’s the most personal decision imaginable.  And, as David touched on, with the death of his son Beau in May, it becomes even more personal.  It’s a family decision.  He’s a grandfather.

I mean, he really is.  What you see with Joe Biden is what you get.  And that is — David’s right.  It is not an anti-establishment, but America is craving authenticity in 2016.  And Joe Biden brings authenticity to it.  He’s also a happy warrior.  He also communicates with working-class voters a lot better than most Democrats do, and I think better than Mrs. Clinton, Secretary Clinton did, except in the late primaries in 2008.

So I think he probably had ruled it out, he had accepted it earlier, and Hillary Clinton had wrapped up endorsements.  She had money, she had support, and she stumbled.  Make no mistake about it.  And she looks vulnerable.  And there’s a surge of affection for Joe Biden, and I don’t think he’s made the decision.

I think he’s going to make it shortly.  His conversation with Elizabeth Warren, there was no offer, no ask.  They spent an hour and 50 minutes together.  And 90 percent of it was talking about issues, and 10 percent — 10 minutes or so about politics.
MARK SHIELDS:  The pros, Judy, are basically, as Secretary Clinton — the Democratic Party has as its whole card is empathy, and that is a sense on the part of voters that they care about people like me.

In 2012, there were four presidential qualities that the exit poll of voters on the Election Day.  They asked, who has vision to the future, who’s a strong leader, who has — who shares your values?  Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama by 10 points.  Who cares about people like you, 81-18 Barack Obama.

Bill Clinton always had that.  Bill Clinton, when you questioned his candor, his forthrightness, or his behavior, there was always a sense he cares about ordinary people, there is a real commitment there.

She, in this latest Quinnipiac poll, national poll yesterday, you know…

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Hillary Clinton?

MARK SHIELDS:  Hillary Clinton.  Who’s ahead, who’s behind us doesn’t mean anything.

They asked, who cares about people, the needs of someone like you?  And she was 46 percent agree, 51 percent disagree.  I mean, that is a killer.  Joe Biden has a far more positive rating, as does Bernie Sanders.

I mean, with Hillary Clinton, the first woman candidate and a Democrat who has been — Children’s Defense Fund and health care and all the rest of it — that’s a real problem.  I don’t care how many endorsements you have got, how many superdelegates you have got.  That becomes a real problem.


"Prep school rape trial raises questions about teen consent" PBS NewsHour 8/28/2015


SUMMARY:  Nineteen-year-old Owen Labrie, a former student at a prep school in New Hampshire, was accused of raping a freshman girl in 2014, but a jury cleared him of felony rape, convicting him on other lesser charges.  Jeffrey Brown discusses the case and the idea of sexual consent with Deborah Tuerkheimer of Northwestern University School of Law and Emily Bazelon of The New York Times Magazine.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  ..... we return to questions and concerns being raised about sexual assault among teens at the high school and college level, and what sort of consent can and should be given.

A trial over an alleged case of rape at an elite boarding school in New Hampshire concluded today.  The case has attracted national attention, and it touches on some broader issues.

Jeffrey Brown starts with some background.

WOMAN:  Guilty or not guilty?

WOMAN:  Guilty.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  Owen Labrie wept as the verdict was read aloud in a New Hampshire state courtroom.  The former prep school student had been accused of raping a freshman girl before his graduation in May 2014.

But the jury this afternoon cleared him of felony rape and instead convicted him on three misdemeanor sex charges and one felony count of using a computer to lure a minor for sexual contact.  During the trial, prosecutors argued Labrie forced himself on the alleged victim during a so-called senior salute, a tradition at Saint Paul’s where some older students arrange trysts with younger ones, including for sex.

OWEN LABRIE, Defendant:  I thought she was having a good time.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Labrie said there was consensual sexual contact between the two, but later testified that — quote — “divine inspiration” compelled him to stop short of intercourse.

OWEN LABRIE:  I thought to myself, maybe we shouldn’t do this.  It hadn’t been my intention going into the night to have sex.

JEFFREY BROWN:  The identity of the victim, now 16 years old, has not been released.  She testified that she said no to Labrie three times during the encounter.

INTERNET - Viral Violence

QUESTION:  Is violence going viral on the internet different from violence gone 'viral' on TV news?

"When a shooter’s violent video goes viral" PBS NewsHour 8/27/2015


SUMMARY:  A shocking, televised murder in Virginia has provoked a wide array of questions about the shooter and how horrific images go viral online.  Gwen Ifill speaks with Deborah Potter of NewsLab; Lance Ulanoff, chief correspondent and editor-at-large at Mashable, and Barry Rosenfeld of Fordham University.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  We look now at what made this latest shooting sadly familiar and shockingly different with Lance Ulanoff, chief correspondent & editor at large at Mashable, the digital media Web site; Barry Rosenfeld, a professor of psychology and director of clinical training at Fordham University; and Deborah Potter, the founder of NewsLab, a nonprofit journalism resource center.  She is also a former television news correspondent and anchor.

Lance Ulanoff, was it only a matter of time before someone live-tweeted something so horrific?

LANCE ULANOFF, Mashable:  Yes, unfortunately, I think that’s true.

We are never without our technology.  It surrounds us.  It permeates our lives.  We have powerful computers in our pockets, and we have been — you know, we are training our children from the youngest age to use social media, so it’s something that comes very naturally to us.

And what I noticed as part of this, this horrifying crime, is that the use of social media seemed to be kind of a natural act happening as he was doing these things.  It didn’t feel — that part of it didn’t feel particularly premeditated.

GWEN IFILL:  Well, not only his act, but also was it a natural act that people instinctively shared what he put up online?

LANCE ULANOFF:  Yes.  Yes, it is.

But, you know, it’s funny, because I look at this guy, Flanagan, and I think to myself, this is a person who committed a heinous crime who wasn’t in his right mind, and used social media in a way that terrifies me.  The people who reshared what they saw, I understand the impulse, because you see something, it’s newsworthy, that is what we do in this modern age.

But I am surprised that they didn’t stop for a moment and realize and think about what they were doing.  And that’s kind of where I think we probably have to take a closer look.

WASHINGTON STATE SUPREME COURT - SeaTac Looses Minimum Wage Exclusion

Also for the company Greed Files.

"Court gives SeaTac workers a raise after $15 minimum wage exclusion" PBS NewsHour 8/27/2015


SUMMARY:  In SeaTac, Washington, home of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, citizens voted in 2013 to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.  But airport businesses challenged the law in court, excluding 5,000 or so workers from receiving the increased benefits.  Now the State Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the employees.  Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Now, how low-paid workers are winning some key battles.

Today, the National Labor Relations Board ruled a large company could be held responsible for labor decisions held by a contractor it hires, even if it doesn’t directly supervise the employee.  That could mean unions may be able to negotiate directly with McDonald’s Corporation, for example, instead of just its franchises.

That win comes after another recent victory over a wage hike at Washington’s Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.  The state’s Supreme Court ruled last week that employers must pay workers $15 an hour.  Airport businesses had challenged a 2013 referendum.

Our economics correspondent, Paul Solman, has updated his report.

Here’s a reprise of his Emmy-nominated story.  It’s part of our weekly story Making Sen$e, which airs every Thursday on the news hour.

PAUL SOLMAN (NewsHour):  A lot was at stake last week in SeaTac, Washington, home of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, as local citizens decided the fate of a proposition to jack up the minimum wage there to $15 an hour, for thousands of workers, the promise of a huge pay hike, 63 percent if they were making the state minimum of $9.19 an hour, plus paid sick leave, which promised to be a benefit for the flying public as well.

WOMAN:  Every employee that I work with comes to work sick because they have to put food on the table.

ABDIRAHMAN ABDULLAHI, Car Rental Employee:  Imagine you’re flying on an airplane.  The worker who clean up the airplane before you fly, he was sick and he’s cleaning the airplane, imagine you eating on that table, you know?

PAUL SOLMAN:  But higher costs would boomerang against low-income workers, business spokesman Maxford Nelson insisted.

MAXFORD NELSON, The Freedom Foundation:  The workers who retain their jobs might be better off, but an increased number of other workers lose their jobs entirely.

PAUL SOLMAN:  A bitter, costly campaign ensued, a recount, and, in the end, the ayes had it by 77 votes.

But, on decision day, Alaska Airlines, the main opponent of the $15 minimum wage proposition, filed a lawsuit in county court, arguing that a city can’t set ordinances for an airport operating within its borders.

NEW ORLEANS - Recovery Continuum

"Why New Orleans recovery is a continuation, not a celebration" PBS NewsHour 8/26/2015


SUMMARY:  Ten years since Hurricane Katrina brought tragedy to the city of New Orleans, the story of its recovery can read like a tale of two cities.  Marc Morial, Urban League CEO and former mayor, joins Gwen Ifill to take stock of the school system, the need for affordable housing and the enormous task of rebuilding and recovering.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  The future of patient care is only one of the concerns casting a shadow over the Crescent City 10 years later.

A new report out today has a sobering assessment of other problems plaguing its majority African-American community.  Among its findings, in 2005, 44 percent of black children in New Orleans were living in poverty.  That number has gone up to 51 percent.  And the earnings gap between black and white families has increased by 18 percent.  African-American households bring in roughly $25,000 a year, white households $60,000.

The National Urban League study on these and other disparities was released today in New Orleans.

I sat down with CEO Marc Morial to talk about it when I was in the city earlier this week.

Marc Morial, thank you for joining us.

MARC MORIAL, President, National Urban League:  Thanks, Gwen.

GWEN IFILL:  You are the son of a mayor, former state senator, former mayor of New Orleans. And now, as head of the Urban League, you have come out with a report in which you have taken stock of what’s happened in the 10 years since Katrina.  It reads like a tale of two cities.

MARC MORIAL:  It is a tale of two cities.

New Orleans has long been, like many American cities, a tale of two cities.  And I think it’s clear, as you take this snapshot 10 years later, after this tragedy of Katrina, that it’s still a tale of two cities, yes, with great physical rebuilding, yes, a city that survived a tremendous challenge.  But that’s why I think we have to look at this as a commemoration and a continuation, and not a celebration.

GWEN IFILL:  There’s been so much conversation over the years about bouncing back.  You talked about resilience, about the ability of New Orleanians to recreate what had been washed away.

But let’s talk about the issues one by one.  Education, what does your report find?

MARC MORIAL:  So our report finds certainly that you have got a higher high school graduation rate.  But our report also finds that, when it comes to children, there are more children in poverty today than there were before Katrina, and that when it comes to education, while you see signs of progress, there are new schools, there’s improvements in schools, the truth is, is that it’s a school district with fewer students.

It’s true that these reforms have come at a tremendous cost to the city, and that cost was the layoff of some 7,000 mostly African-American unionized teachers almost 10 years ago.  And that’s left, if you will, a scar and pain on the effort to reform the schools.  Now, it’s all about what’s doing best for kids.  But I think it’s important for people to be measured.  At this point, it’s like halftime.

INNOVATION - The Smart Cane

"Smart cane may help visually impaired navigate more terrain" PBS NewsHour 8/26/2015


SUMMARY:  A high-tech upgrade to the traditional white cane may help blind and visually impaired people be more confident about navigating the world independently.  The NewsHour's April Brown reports from France.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  Now an innovation that may help the blind become more independent.

It’s a new take on the familiar white cane that the visually impaired have been using for decades.

The NewsHour’s April Brown reports from the northeast region of France for the latest in our Breakthroughs series on invention and innovation.

APRIL BROWN (NewsHour):  Lysiane Perney doesn’t see the world the way most people do.  In fact, she doesn’t see much of it at all.  Perney, who lives in the city of Nancy in Northeastern France, suffers from retinitis pigmentosa.  Photoreceptor cells in her eyes, the rods and cones, have been dying.  And that causes the gradual loss of everything but central vision, and also the ability to see colors.

LYSIANE PERNEY, Visually Impaired (through interpreter):  When you move around in a city when you are visually impaired, it is very stressful, knowing where you are, having some landmarks, knowing this is the right bus line.

APRIL BROWN:  Nevertheless, Perney is a busy, independent woman, an elected city council member and an advocate for the disabled.  She moves around with the help of a few smartphone apps and a white cane, the kind the visually impaired have been using for decades to avoid obstacles.

But, soon, she may be able to buy a new kind of cane, one that will tell her a lot more about her surroundings.

FLORIAN ESTEVES, Co-Founder, Handisco:  You can have real-time information during your walk, like you can have information about public transportation, about the shops, public places.  You can have at what time the shop opens.

APRIL BROWN:  Florian Esteves and Mathieu Chevalier are engineering graduates turned budding entrepreneurs who are developing an intelligent white cane.  They have created a high-tech box that fits on a traditional white cane and uses infrared and ultrasonic sensors to detect obstacles, triggering the handle to vibrate.



1:  All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.  No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The idea of preventing application of Article XIV to children of immigrants is punishing the child, that makes this immoral and unethical.

"How widespread are U.S. births by foreign tourists and undocumented migrants?" PBS NewsHour 8/25/2015


SUMMARY:  Some GOP presidential candidates have decried birthright citizenship and so-called “anchor babies” -- children born in the U.S. to parents in the country illegally.  There’s also talk of “maternity tourism,” when foreigners arrive to give birth before returning home.  Judy Woodruff learns more from Doris Meissner of the Migration Policy Institute and Susan Berfield of Bloomberg Businessweek.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Back in this country, the volatile issue of immigration continues to spark debate in the 2016 presidential campaign.  The latest round centers on babies born in the U.S. to parents who are not American citizens.

DONALD TRUMP Republican Presidential Candidate:  I will use the word anchor baby.  Excuse me.  I will use the word anchor baby.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Donald Trump started this latest furor over a term that immigration advocates view as derogatory.  He complained of children born in the U.S. who immediately gain American citizenship and become the means for entire families, here illegally, to stay.

Fellow Republican Jeb Bush weighed in as well.

JEB BUSH, Republican Presidential Candidate:  There ought to be greater enforcement.  That’s the legitimate side of this, greater enforcement, so that you don’t have these anchor babies, as they’re described, coming into the country.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  By yesterday, an exasperated Bush was trying to douse criticism for using the term.

JEB BUSH:  You give me the name you want me to use, and I will use it.  How about that?

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Moreover, the former Florida governor insisted that, unlike Trump, he wasn’t talking about Latinos at all.

JEB BUSH:  What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed, where there’s organized efforts.  And, frankly, it is more related to Asian people coming into our country having children in that organized effort.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Bush campaign aides call the practice birth tourism, with foreigners arriving legally just in time to have a child.

Numbers are hard to come by.  The nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute estimates some 230,000 children are born in the U.S. each year with at least one parent here illegally, while the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors stricter rules, estimates 36,000 births a year by women who come to the U.S. to have a baby, then leave to go back home.  Others say that number is smaller.

EUROPE - Migrant Humanitarian Crises

"Thousands of migrants journey through Macedonia, Serbia en route to Europe" PBS NewsHour 8/24/2015


SUMMARY:  In Europe, it's the summer of mass migration. Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News follows along as thousands of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa travel by train from Macedonia to Serbia, hoping to eventually reach Germany and other points north.

LINDSEY HILSUM, Independent Television News:  Night falls, but they keep on walking.  Only a few more yards, and they will have left Greece behind.  They will be in Macedonia.  By morning, they’re still walking.

Word has traveled back down the line:  Go to Gevgelija station.  Some have spent the night here.  They have seen worse places on their odyssey.  It’s dirty, but they do their best.  The Macedonians have managed to put order into chaos, despite the swelling numbers.  Syrians and others with small children are given priority.  Extra trains have been laid on to take them to the next border with Serbia.

It’s 110 miles away, a four-hour journey, easy compared to what they have been through before.  They have paid 10 euros per ticket, like any other passenger.

Where are you from?

MAN:  I’m from Syria.

LINDSEY HILSUM:  From Syria?  From which place?

MAN:  Aleppo, Afrin.

LINDSEY HILSUM:  From Aleppo and Afrin, from Afrin.

The U.N. High Commission for Refugees says 7,000 traveled to Serbia this past weekend.  Many people on this train are going from Syria to Germany, so they’re about halfway through their journey.  And this is the point where they’re full of hope.  They’re on the move.  They think they have left the worst behind them.

Germany has said it will take 800,000 people this year.  That’s a lot, but there are many more trains behind this one.  They can’t take everyone and there are thousands more people on the way.  Some are fleeing Aleppo and Bashar al-Assad, others Raqqa and Da’esh, the Islamic State.  What difference does it make?

MAN:  Hard situation in Syria, no power, no water, no Internet, no any help for us.  We can’t stay in Syria.  The — Bashar al-Assad attack us every day, morning, every time, our baby so afraid of light and sound.

LINDSEY HILSUM:  Of the bombs, of the sounds?

MAN:  Of bombs and of the guns every day, every day.  So we left.

"How should Europe deal with its deluge of refugees?" PBS NewsHour 8/25/2015


SUMMARY:  A surge of refugees hit Hungary’s southern border this week, many fleeing the war in Syria.  Most of the refugees are seeking asylum in Northern Europe.  Gwen Ifill talks to David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee, about how nations are handling the refugee crisis.

Friday, August 28, 2015

CALIFORNIA - Water Use Mandate

Note:  This is from the online version of the paper, therefore no article link.

"State Cuts Water Usage 31%, Beating Mandated Target" by BRADLEY J. FIKES, San Diego Union-Tribune 8/28/2015

California’s urban water agencies — including most in San Diego County — comfortably beat the state’s conservation mandate for July, collectively reducing use by an average of 31.3 percent compared with two years ago.

Added to June’s performance, the agencies have cumulatively reduced water consumption by 29.5 percent, the State Water Resources Control Board said Thursday.  The governor’s threshold is an average statewide savings of 25 percent.

By exceeding the conservation order for both months since it took effect, the districts together have built a buffer of sorts in case they slip in later months.

Gov. Jerry Brown imposed the mandate, which will last until at least February, as an emergency measure in response to the state’s ongoing drought.  Each water agency, including major cities such as San Diego that operate their own water system, was given a conservation goal— from 8 percent to 36 percent.

Water agencies are expected to meet their mandates both monthly and cumulatively.  Districts that fall short in a particular month are expected to make up the deficit in later months so their total conservation over the emergency period meets their assigned target.

Four districts in San Diego County missed their marks, according to cumulative totals for June and July released by the state.

The Rainbow Municipal Water District fell short of its 36 percent mandate by 8.4 percentage points.  The Fallbrook Public Utility District failed to meet its 36 percent benchmark by 7.6 percentage points, while the San Dieguito Water District lagged its 28 percent mandate by 5.8 percentage points.  And the Carlsbad Municipal Water District fell short of its 28 percent goal by 1.2 percentage points.

But the Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District, which in June fell 2.2 percentage points short of its 32 percent mandate, more than made up the deficit with better conservation in July.  The agency surpassed its cumulative June-July target by 1.4 percentage points.

The best performer in this county, California American Water’s San Diego District, blew past its 8 percent mandate by a cumulative total of 22 percentage points.

Conservation performance in August could be more difficult because it has been a mostly dry and hot month, compared with July’s ample rainfall in certain parts of the state.

Water experts also caution that people shouldn’t rely on the possibility of the atmospheric phenomenon El Niño providing major relief from the drought or even ending it.

Only the strongest El Niños bring abundant precipitation and snowfall to the Sierra mountains in Northern California, the source of water for the state’s biggest reservoirs.   Average El Niños tend to channel rain mostly toward Southern California, which doesn’t help nearly as much in battling a prolonged drought.

But so far, residents have been meeting the conservation challenge.

“Californians’ response to the severity of the drought this summer is now in high gear and shows that they get that we are in the drought of our lives,” Felicia Marcus, chair of the state water board, said in a statement Thursday.  “This isn’t your mother’s drought or your grandmother’s drought, this is the drought of the century.”

Praise for customers

The number of water agencies that met or surpassed their state conservation target increased from 265 in June to 290 in July.  Only four districts, out of a total of 402, missed their state-imposed mandate by more than 15 percent last month.

“I’m surprised but gratified that people are getting it,” said Rita Schmidt Sudman, an adviser to the Sacramento- based nonprofit Water Education Foundation.

Sudman and other water experts were interviewed for this story during the annual conference of the Urban Water Institute, which is taking place this week in San Diego.

David Drake, a director of the Rincon del Diablo district, said the conservation success shows what Californians are capable of doing when they’re motivated.

“What’s also striking is what it says about how much water we waste,” he said.  “How many leaks do we have?  In my home and my mom’s home, I detected five leaks this year. ...  And on top of that, what can we do to reduce the normal use of water?”

Jack Hoagland, board president of the Rancho California Water District in southwest Riverside County, praised the consumer commitment but said the mandate was unnecessary.

“It’s a great response from customers throughout the state to the governor’s unreasonable request,” he said.

As with officials for water agencies in San Diego County, Hoagland said the conservation order is inflexible and doesn’t take into account local circumstances, such as various projects undertaken to create a more stable water supply.

“Our customers have been extremely cooperative and have invested a lot of their time and effort and money in changing out front yards and just being very reasonable,” Hoagland said.

Greater enforcement

On the state’s end, enforcement is ramping up after an initial educational period.

The state water board said it contacted water districts that did not meet their required conservation targets, with many told to give information about their conservation programs and what steps they are taking to increase conservation.

The board said that for July, it gave 37,170 formal warnings for water waste among 323 suppliers.  In June, it gave 36,302 formal warnings.

The board said it also issued 15,845 penalties among 79 suppliers last month, compared with 8,876 penalties issued in June among 54 suppliers.

EUROPE - Migrants

"Grisly Discovery in Migrant Crisis Shocks Europe" by ALISON SMALE and MELISSA EDDY, New York Times 8/27/2015


The legions of desperate migrants fleeing war and mayhem in the Middle East and Africa have long known they were risking harm from unscrupulous smugglers and death at sea to reach the safety of Europe.  But it became shockingly clear on Thursday that they now face the same dangers within Europe’s own borders.

A white truck filled with the decomposing bodies of as many as 50 smuggled migrants was found abandoned on the outskirts of Vienna in the summer heat.  The discovery came just as European leaders were meeting in a nearby palace to devise new ways to cope with the migration crisis.

News about the corpses instantly overshadowed the meeting and transfixed Europe with new worries that the scope and complexity of the crisis had escalated.

European Union officials have been struggling for ways to control the tens of thousands of migrants who are now reaching the continent, without forfeiting the free movement between member countries that is a fundamental part of life in the 28-nation bloc.  Now its members are confronting human traffickers who are exploiting the open borders.

“We are all shaken by this terrible news that up to 50 people have lost their lives because they got into a situation where smugglers did not care about their lives,” said Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, at a news conference at the Vienna meeting.  “Such a tragic death.”

Ms. Merkel emphasized what she called the need for Europe to pull together and ease the migration crisis, part of the biggest wave of migrants since World War II.  But the meeting ended on a discordant note with no apparent consensus on how to proceed.

The death toll at sea is already greater than 2,500 and is rising almost every day, with news reports on Thursday that a ship carrying hundreds of migrants had sunk off the coast of Libya.  Now the truck discovery has made it clear that the illegal trade in humans has broadened from arranging perilous journeys across the Mediterranean to profiteering from the tens of thousands now pouring in through the Balkans.

Until recently, the flow was mostly restricted to the southern countries, particularly Italy. But as new routes through Greece and the Balkans have become popular, the pressure to stem the flow has broadened and deepened.

The people in the truck were thought to be among the migrants on their way through Central Europe and toward the wealthier countries — particularly Germany — in the north.

The precise death toll had yet to be determined by Thursday night, but more than 20 bodies — and as many as 50 — were believed to be in the truck, said Hans Peter Doskozil, director of the police in the eastern state of Burgenland.  He added that the count was hindered by the advanced state of decomposition.

The discovery was made after a highway worker alerted the police around 11:40 a.m. that the truck, with Hungarian license plates, was parked in the emergency lane of a highway that links Budapest and Vienna, in the Neusiedl am See region, near the Hungarian border.  Mr. Doskozil said the truck had probably set off from east of Budapest on Wednesday, and was abandoned either late that night or early Thursday.

Janos Lazar, chief of staff to Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, said that the authorities believed the truck had been part of a human trafficking operation, and that the victims “were illegal migrants who were trying to reach the West through Hungary or with the help of Hungarians.”

Hungarian officials said they had assigned investigators to help the Austrians with the case.

Mr. Doskozil said the investigators would comb the cab of the truck to establish the identity of the driver.  By afternoon, the authorities said the truck had been towed to an undisclosed location where the bodies could be removed and identified.

“It is clear that this is a case of organized criminality where a lot of money is at stake and business is made out of human suffering,” Mr. Doskozil said.

The discovery was a new twist on a summer of tragedy for migrants, who have drowned at sea by the hundreds and been injured or worse in accidents during their attempts to reach safety and jobs in the European Union.

Just a day earlier, Italian officials announced the discovery of 50 bodies in the hold of a ship that appeared to have departed Libya bound for Italy.

The Balkan overland route has replaced the Mediterranean passage as the favored route for migrants this summer.  The change has severely affected Austria, which has been struggling to cope with the masses of migrants, and officials have grown increasingly concerned about smugglers.

Monday, August 24, 2015

OPINION - Shields and Gerson 8/21/2015

"Shields and Gerson on Trump’s immigration politics, Carter’s cancer news" PBS NewsHour 8/21/2015


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including the response to Donald Trump’s immigration policy and his effect on Republican race, whether Hillary Clinton can defuse the attention paid to the investigation into her handling of email, plus bad health news from former President Jimmy Carter.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Well, we saw this week someone who was President decades ago, former President Jimmy Carter, I think, very gracefully handled the bad news, the bad medical health news he got in terms of a diagnosis of cancer, melanoma that has spread to his brain.

Mark, this is somebody who’s been — he’s been out of the White House for 35, 40 years.  And yet — I mean, what do you make of this?  It was quite a remarkable performance, that news conference yesterday.


MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated columnist:  It was, in fact, Judy.

We’re in an era — I think Michael would agree — totally, aggressively secular, where church membership is in decline.  And yet, in the last couple of months, we have seen two examples of the value, the social value, as well as the individual value, of religious faith.

We saw it at the AME Church, the families, survivors of those victims forgiving the killer who was racially motivated.  And we see it in Jimmy Carter, who has devoted his post-presidency to improving the cause of those less fortunate, but showed such grace and courage and humor and faith in the face of this just daunting and dooming news.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  As somebody who covered the Carter White House a long time ago, Michael, I was struck by the humor — as Mark says, the humor.

He said he’d gotten calls from former President — both Presidents Bush and President Obama and Secretary — he said, “Of course, I hadn’t heard from them in a long time.”

MICHAEL GERSON, Washington Post:  Right, yes.

Well, we often get examples of how to live, live healthy, how to live successfully.  There’s a lot of emphasis on this.  But we don’t really get examples of how we approach death.  This is a really good example.

Now, he — it’s not imminent in his case.  He’s seeking treatment.  He wants to live longer and may well live longer.  But there is a calmness, there is a grace, and there is a courage about what he said that’s an example of how you deal with the end.

And he also dealt with it with gratitude, talking about how grateful he was for his life.  That’s a real model for all of us.

INTERNET - Not Private, Not Safe

IMHO:  As a computer specialist and IT Technician (retired) I can tell you that ANYTHING on the Internet is never safe and therefore not private.  Pay attention to the hacking going on world-wide.  Governments are hacked, military sites are hacked, businesses are hacked, and more.  Being on the Internet and expecting privacy is like holding a conversation in Central Park (New York) and expecting that no-one will overhear you.

"Is the trail of secrets we leave online ever safe?" PBS NewsHour 8/21/2015


SUMMARY:  Hackers dumped troves of personal information stolen from the adultery website Ashley Madison this week.  Millions of names, email addresses and partial credit card numbers were released, raising alarms about how much privacy any of us enjoy online.  Hari Sreenivasan discusses the fallout with Neil Richards of Washington University and Julia Angwin of ProPublica.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Internet hackers dumped troves of personal information this week stolen from an adultery Web site, raising new questions about online privacy and the ability of Web sites to protect it.

Hari Sreenivasan has our look.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  The hackers said the attack on Ashley Madison was motivated by the failure of its parent company to deliver on a service that promised to erase users’ information for a fee.  Millions of names, e-mail addresses and partial credit card numbers were released, a public outing that has raised questions about how much privacy any of us enjoy online.

Joining me to discuss this are Neil Richards, a professor of law at Washington University in Saint Louis, where he studies privacy and the Internet.  His recent book is “Intellectual Privacy:  Rethinking Civil Liberties in the Digital Age.”  And Julia Angwin, who covers privacy for ProPublica, her most recent book is called “Dragnet Nation:  A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance.”

All right, so, Neil, I want to start with you first.

We have had the Sony Pictures hack, where thousands of employees of a corporation had their communication and their information released.  We have had the Office of Personnel Management hacked, 22 million employees of the federal government, right?

We have also had celebrity hacks before, where unsuspecting celebrities had their photos from iPhones or iClouds released.  What makes this different?

NEIL RICHARDS, Washington University:  Well, it’s certainly different because it’s more salacious.  Right?  It involves sex and betrayal.

I think the magnitude of the hack and the sensitivity of the information that is being exposed.  I think it’s important that we think about these questions, because this is a little more juicy in terms of — maybe like tabloid news, than some of the other hacks, but it’s important to draw attention to what is an increasingly enormous problem.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  So, Julia, I want to ask.  There is this notion that your information, especially on a sensitive site like this, sits in a lockbox.  And to credit this site, this digital set of locks that they had was actually better than average.

But is there such a thing as true security?  As soon as you type something, is it out there forever?

JULIA ANGWIN, ProPublica:  Sadly, what we’re learning is that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of true security out there in the real world.

IRAN - Mossad Chief on Nuclear Deal

"Expecting Iran to cheat is why we need this deal, says former Mossad chief" PBS NewsHour 8/21/2015


SUMMARY:  Efraim Halevy, former director of Israel’s intelligence and special operations agency Mossad, is breaking with his country's government and public opinion to support the Iran nuclear agreement.  He joins Judy Woodruff from Tel Aviv to discuss his stance.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Tonight, we continue our series of conversations on the agreement as part of our Deal or No Deal series.

Earlier this week, we heard from an Israeli scientist who was opposed to the deal.

This evening, we hear from the former head of Israel’s intelligence and special operations agency, the Mossad, Efraim Halevy, who is breaking with his country’s government and public opinion to support the agreement.

Mr. Halevy, thank you very much for being with us.

Given that you disagree with your government, why do you?  What do you see in this agreement that makes you support it?

EFRAIM HALEVY, Former Director, Mossad:  I believe this agreement closes the roads and blocks the road to Iranian nuclear military capabilities for at least a decade.

And I believe that the arrangements that have been agreed between the parties are such that give us a credible answer to the Iranian military threat, at least for a decade, if not longer.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  You have said that this agreement is historic from the Iranian point of view.  What did you mean by that?

EFRAIM HALEVY:  Up to a couple of years ago, the Iranians refused to discuss their nuclear programs on the basis of a negotiation, international negotiations.  They said that this was their sovereign right to do whatever they wished.

They have caved in.  They have entered into a detailed discussion of their capabilities.  They have agreed to an agreement which lists their various facilities in Iran.  They have agreed to knocking out the first and foremost important element in it, their location in Arak, which is a plutogenic-producing facility in potential.

The core of this particular aspect is going to be destroyed.  And that means that there will be no capability of the Iranians to ultimately weaponize whatever they are doing for the purposes of attacking anybody around the world for the next decade.  If only for that element alone, I would say this is an agreement worthwhile accepting.

WOMEN'S HEALTH - Breast Cancer, Early Treatment or Not?

"Study raises questions about treatment for early breast cancer" PBS NewsHour 8/20/2015


SUMMARY:  A new study has found that women who received lumpectomies and mastectomies for very early stage breast cancer had similar survival rates to those who had less radical treatments.  Dr. Steven Narod of the Women's College Research Institute and Dr. Monica Morrow of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center discuss the findings with Judy Woodruff.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  There was other big news today related to cancer.

A study published in “The Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology” found that women given lumpectomies and mastectomies as treatment for very early-stage breast cancer had similar survival rates to those patients who had less radical cancer treatments.  Those findings may call into question some of the standard assumptions on how to treat the disease.

For a closer look at the study and its potential implications, we turn to two cancer specialists.  Dr. Steven Narod is a researcher at the Women’s College Research Institute in Toronto.  He was the study’s lead author.  And Dr. Monica Morrow is chief breast cancer surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Dr. Morrow, Dr. Narod, welcome to you both.

I’m going to start with you, Dr. Narod.

On this study, we did read that it’s the most extensive collection of data ever analyzed on this particular type of cancer.  Boil down the findings for us.

DR. STEVEN NAROD, Women’s College Research Institute:  We focused on 100,000 women with the earliest form of cancer.  Some say it’s not even cancer.  It’s a precursor lesion.  We call it DCIS, or ductal carcinoma in situ.

So, this, because it’s a very good prognosis, we followed the 100,000 women for up to 20 years and we found that, at 20 years, about 3 percent of them had died of breast cancer.  Roughly a third of the patients were treated with lumpectomy alone, which is removing the DCIS, the focus of cancer.  One-third of the patients, probably, had a lumpectomy plus radiotherapy, and one-third of the patients approximately had the entire breast removed through mastectomy.

And what we found, that there was no difference in the survival at 20 years between women treated with any of the three ways.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  What is the — you said one-third, one-third, one-third.  What do these findings tell you that the treatment should be?

DR. STEVEN NAROD:  Well, it tells us about — something about the early stages of breast cancer.

The reason I say that is because, of those 3 percent of the women who died of breast cancer, most of them, 54 percent of them, between the time they had DCIS and the time they had a distant recurrence or a metastatic disease, never experienced another breast — cancer in the breast.

BUSINESS - The Counterintuitive Business Model

"How a clothing company’s anti-consumerist message boosted business" PBS NewsHour 8/20/2015


SUMMARY:  High-end outdoor clothing company Patagonia outfits mountain climbers, snowboarders, surfers and trail runners -- athletes who subject their gear to abuse.  Each day, some of that clothing makes its way back to the company's headquarters, where workers extend the life of their customers’ products by making free repairs.  Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports on the company’s ethos.

WOMAN:  Are you guys sitting down, because this is pretty horrifying.  OK?  Dog bite?  Shark attack?

PAUL SOLMAN (NewsHour):  Seamstress Cathy Averett couldn’t care less.

CATHY AVERETT, Patagonia:  When I get something like this, I do my best to make it kind of special, you know?  It doesn’t look new, but so what, OK?  I don’t look new anymore.  It’s OK.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Averett stitches for Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company high-end enough to have earned the nickname Patagucci.  Downstairs, the company’s Reno, Nevada, warehouse and distribution center sends its garments hither and yon, to be worn by rock and mountain climbers, skiers and snowboarders, surfers, trail runners, or folks who just want to dress as if they do all that stuff.

And each day, some of those clothes make their way back to Reno, to what’s billed as the largest clothing rehab facility in North America.

WOMAN:  They mess them up and we fix them up.


DOUG FREEMAN, Chief Operating Officer, Patagonia:  Behind me are 55 people extending the life of our product for our customers.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Doug Freeman is Patagonia’s chief operating officer.

DOUG FREEMAN:  We want our customers to invest in great product, and when it’s worn out, we want to repair it for them.

PAUL SOLMAN:  It doesn’t sound economical for the company.

DOUG FREEMAN:  I can understand why you would say that.  But the way we view it is that we want to reduce consumption.

IRAN - Nuclear Deal in U.S. Congress

"Where does the Iran nuclear deal stand in Congress?" PBS NewsHour 8/19/2015


SUMMARY:  Congress will vote next month on a measure to disapprove or block the Iran nuclear deal.  But will opponents have enough votes?  Gwen Ifill talks to chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner and political director Lisa Desjardins.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  The Associated Press reports today that under an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate one location it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms.

This comes about halfway through the 60-day period that Congress has to scrutinize the Iran nuclear deal with the U.S. and five other countries, a period in which we’re seeing a multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign.  Both houses of Congress plan to vote next month on a measure to disapprove, or block, the deal.  But opponents face a few hurdles.  They first need 60 votes in the Senate.  And then, if they get a disapproval bill to the President, he’s expected to veto it, meaning they would then need a two-third vote to override him.

Joining me now for a midway check up on all this, our chief foreign affairs correspondent, Margaret Warner, and our political director, Lisa Desjardins.

Welcome to you both.

So, Margaret, I will start with you.

Where do things stand right now?

MARGARET WARNER (NewsHour):  Well, Judy, the White House has given up all hope that in fact this deal might be considered on the merits with no partisan consideration and they might actually get an endorsement or some Republicans.

So they are focused, as you said, on just making sure they have a rock-hard 34 votes to override a veto.  And the President is right now working overtime, both from his vacation home in Martha’s Vineyard and before that in lots of meetings, to try to get at least 34 to come out publicly.

That said, right now, they only have 23 to 24 publicly declared supporters.  But they did get a boost today when a conservative Democrat from Indiana, (Sen) Joe Donnelly, who had been on the fence, came out late today and said he would support the deal.

EDUCATION - Rethinking College

also from 'Greed Files'

"Should financial aid only go to college students in need?" PBS NewsHour 8/19/2015


SUMMARY:  At many colleges and universities, merit-based scholarships are meant to attract the best and the brightest students.  But opponents say they can inadvertently end up rewarding the richest applicants.  That’s why some schools have started giving out need-based aid only.  Hari Sreenivasan explores how Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania made the jump to improve its economic diversity.

MAN:  Congratulations.


HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Michael DiAntonio is the face of a new college bidding war.  A gifted student in high school, DiAntonio was offered thousands of dollars in merit scholarships at several universities, even though his family was wealthy enough to pay full tuition.

MAN:  Michael Anthony DiAntonio III.


HARI SREENIVASAN:  DiAntonio turned down the scholarships and chose instead to attend Franklin & Marshall, a private college in Pennsylvania, that offered him no aid at all.  His family paid full tuition, room and board, $60,000 annually for four years.

This spring, DiAntonio graduated, and despite the high costs, he and his family say the education here received was well worth the investment.

MIKE DIANTONIO, Franklin & Marshall College Graduate:  I would say it’s worth it 100 percent.  I could really excel and push myself as hard as I could and come out of it with an amazing education.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Education experts say a growing number of colleges across the country are offering their precious scholarship money to families who can already afford it.

MICHAEL DANNENBERG, Education Reform Now:  The concept of using financial aid as bait has been increasing, bait for upper-income families.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  According to Michael Dannenberg with Education Reform Now, more affluent students means a better bottom line for schools.

MICHAEL DANNENBERG:  Colleges are kind of in a competitive market, competitive game to get high-paying students.  So they use financial aid as a tool.

Basically, a college that’s got $20,000 to give out in financial aid, so it can get four students who will pay $15,000 out of pocket, as opposed to one very needy student who can pay nothing.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  So, what could have cost the college $20,000 for one student instead earning the college $60,000.

In fact, that’s the path Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was on, until five years ago, when the school took a hard look at the low-income students they were excluding.

EDUCATION - Early College

"Does early college for high school students pave a path to graduation?" PBS NewsHour 8/18/2015


SUMMARY:  In a Texas border town where nearly all high school students live in poverty, the school district is trying an experiment to get more kids into college.  Instead of waiting until students graduate to enroll them in higher education, the school is pairing with a local college to offer courses for free.  Hari Sreenivasan looks at whether this method for closing the college graduation gap is working.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  When superintendent Daniel King walks the halls of his South Texas high schools…

DANIEL KING, Superintendent, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District:  How it’s going?  How are you guys doing?

HARI SREENIVASAN:  … he’s not focused on the fact that nearly all of his students live in poverty or that almost half learned English as a second language.  What King talks about almost exclusively is college.

DANIEL KING:  Have you started college classes already?


HARI SREENIVASAN:  In a district on the Mexican border where most adults have no college education, Daniel King is intent on ensuring that their children get one before they even leave high school.

DANIEL KING:  What are you going to study?

STUDENT:  In the medical field.

DANIEL KING:  In the medical field?  Any idea what yet or…

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Seven years ago, King’s district, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, partnered with South Texas College to offer classes for free to all 8,000-plus high school students.

DANIEL KING:  It brings a lot of purpose to high school, because college becomes something concrete for them.

Are you going to have an associate degree or…

DANIEL KING:  These students have the potential to leave here with two years of college under their belt.  So, that’s a big economic savings.
HARI SREENIVASAN:  So far, more than 95 percent of the students who graduated Pharr-San Juan-Alamo District with an associate’s degree have gone on to pursue their bachelor’s.

TECHNOLOGY - Telemedicine

COMMENT:  This article has personal significance for me.  My sister died in 2007 in similar circumstances.  She was in her early 80s with cancer and her prognosis was having to spend her remaining 6mths of life mostly hospitalized.  She and her husband made the decision to NOT take the treatments, to go on hospice care, and enjoy her remaining life visiting people and places she loved.

"When patients live far from care, video conferencing can be a palliative support lifeline" PBS NewsHour 8/18/2015


SUMMARY:  People facing life-threatening illnesses often access palliative care to ease their pain and help with difficult end-of-life choices.  But for those living in remote, rural areas, getting that comforting care can be unwieldy.  Special correspondent Joanne Elgart Jennings reports on how one doctor in Northern California is trying to come up with innovative ways to ease the process.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  People facing life-threatening illnesses often turn to palliative care, not only to address their pain, but also to navigate end-of-life choices.  It’s never an easy process, but it’s even harder for those living in remote rural areas.

One doctor in Northern California is finding innovative ways to help ease the burden.

Special correspondent Joanne Jennings reports from Humboldt County, California.  It’s the latest in our Breakthroughs series on invention and innovation.

JOANNE JENNINGS (NewsHour):  Dr. Michael Fratkin, an internist specializing in palliative medicine, is making a house call to a terminally ill patient.

WOMAN:  This is where I would like to die when I die, in my own bed, in my own home.

JOANNE JENNINGS:  At 73 years old, Kristi Goechel is confronting her mortality.  Six months ago, the retired school guidance counselor was diagnosed with an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer.  Her oncologist recommended surgery and chemotherapy, but Goechel to forgo treatment.

KRISTI GOECHEL, Retired Guidance Counselor:  My husband was in the hospital for a long time before he died.  And it was painful.  I don’t want to live the rest of my life like that.  If I have three months, six months, I don’t care.  I want quality of life with my family.

JOANNE JENNINGS:  Now home, Goechel is savoring every moment.

KRISTI GOECHEL:  I get a lot of pain.

DR. MICHAEL FRATKIN, Resolution Care:  And then where’s the pain?

JOANNE JENNINGS:  Like most palliative care doctors, Fratkin does manage pain.  But he also tries to get his patients to focus beyond the physical.

DR. MICHAEL FRATKIN:  How are you feeling inside yourself?

KRISTI GOECHEL:  Well, I’m feeling better.  I was feeling pretty crazy inside myself for a while.  And I’m trying to work that out now emotionally.

JOANNE JENNINGS:  To offer this kind of personal care requires time.  But with most of his patients living off the beaten path, far from Fratkin’s office in Eureka, that’s almost impossible.

TOXIC SPILL - The Consequences

"Toxic spill causes hardship for the Navajo farmers and ranchers downstream" PBS NewsHour 8/17/2015


SUMMARY:  It's been nearly two weeks since an EPA accident at a defunct Colorado mine fouled rivers in multiple states, and among the hardest hit residents are the Navajos.  Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery reports from New Mexico.

Editor’s note:  We originally reported that the San Juan River flows into Arizona and then enters Lake Powell.  In fact, it joins the Colorado River in Utah, then flows into Lake Powell, which straddles the Arizona border.  Also, in a map of the Navajo Nation, we incorrectly illustrated the northern border, which more closely follows the San Juan River than our depiction.  We regret the errors.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  It’s been 12 days since an accident at a defunct Colorado gold mine fouled rivers in three states.

Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery has an update on the impact the spill has had on Native Americans and others in Northwest New Mexico.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY (NewsHour):  The sunflowers in Upper Fruitland, New Mexico, are drooping.

LORENZO BATES, Speaker, Navajo Nation Council:  When you look at them now, they’re all hanging over because they haven’t — they need water.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY:  On LoRenzo Bates’ farm, it’s not just sunflowers in trouble.  The alfalfa, key for feeding his animals, is stunted.

LORENZO BATES:  This is right now 12 days behind.  This hay has to get me through the winter season.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY:  Bates, the speaker of the Navajo Nation, tallied his losses so far at $1,000 in just one week, no small amount in this poor region.  It’s all because Bates and thousands of others here couldn’t pull water from the San Juan River, which abuts his land.  Irrigation ditches were shut down after the mine accident earlier this month 100 miles north in Silverton, Colorado.

Efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up one mine resulted in a breach at another, the Gold King Mine, which has been inactive since 1923.  A three million gallon toxic stew of heavy metals poured downstream, turning the Animas River a shocking yellow.

WAR ON ISIS - Islamic Teenage Brides

"What motivated these teenage girls to become Islamic State brides?" PBS NewsHour 8/17/2015


SUMMARY:  In London, three seemingly normal and high-achieving teenage girls recently left their homes to join the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria, leaving their families to grapple for answers.  Their story is the subject of a new multimedia report by The New York Times.  Judy Woodruff talks to New York Times video journalist Mona El-Naggar and Steven Simon of Dartmouth College.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Last week on the program, we heard about the Islamic State’s practice of institutionalized sexual slavery of non-Muslim women.

Tonight, we focus on another New York Times report about three seemingly normal and high-performing teenage girls who willingly left their homes in Great Britain to join the terrorist group.

We begin with a video excerpt that shows the family of one of the girls grappling for answers.

WOMAN:  This is Kadiza’s room.  Very neat and tidy.  She is very organized.  But she wasn’t sleeping here on the night that she left.

NARRATOR:  This was Kadiza Sultana’s home in London before she left to join ISIS.  Her sister has been devastated ever since Kadiza disappeared.

WOMAN:  The yellow jumper, that is her.  So, she selected all these to put in — we went to Bangladesh.  That was in 2009.

WOMAN:  How did she get the money?

WOMAN:  We asked the question.  We asked it of the police, and they haven’t got it for us, really.

NARRATOR:  Kadiza was 16 and a straight-A student at this school.  One morning, she told her mother she was leaving to study.  But she never returned.  The next time the family saw Kadiza was on the news.

WOMAN:  International hunt for three young girls believed to be on their way to join ISIS.

MAN:  At Gatwick, they boarded a Turkish Airlines plane for Istanbul.

WOMAN:  Police are out in Turkey trying to find them.

NARRATOR:  The girls weren’t even old enough to drive, but they traveled thousands of miles to Syria and handed themselves over to ISIS.

SCANDAL - Missing Pentagon Money

"The Biggest Scandal in US History That We're Still Not Talking About" by Mtosner, Daily KOS 8/18/2015


The above is roughly what 8.5 Trillion dollars would look like... and those are $100 bills.  Take another look and let that sink in for a bit...   I find it absolutely astonishing that the pentagon could lose track of this much money and for there to be no MSM coverage of this scandalous amount of mismanagement and fraud.  Where is the demand for accountability?  Why is the first question to ANY candidate for president not "What would you do about the massive fraud and waste at the Pentagon?"  Where are the hearings, nay indictments, that are warranted when a sum equal to 1/2 of our national debt can be sent to the pentagon to never be accounted for.

We progressives need to work this scandal into every political conversation we engage in, especially when we talk to conservatives.  Cutting government spending and accountability are supposed to be core GOP values.

Combine "Known" Pentagon waste (like the 1.5 Trillion dollar F35) with missing pentagon money and you have a good chunk of our entire national debt represented.

"What's that?  Body cameras for all cops will be too expensive?  How bout we find 1/10,000th of the money we sent to the pentagon."

"Oh really?  There's 500 million in provable food stamp fraud going to poor people how bout the 8.5 TRILLION the pentagon can't account for?"

"Oh really?  You think Obama care is going to cost us almost a trillion dollars over 15 years?  How about the 8.5 Trillion that just disappeared into the ether at the pentagon?  What's you're take on that?"

"Oh really, you're concerned about deficit spending and the debt?  Fully 1/3 of the national debt it is money we sent the Pentagon and they can't tell us where it went.  It's just gone."

"College for everyone will cost too much?  You must be really pissed at the 8.5 Trillion, with a 't', dollars the pentagon's spent and can't tell us where it went."

Bringing up this "open secret" exposes their hypocrisy, and draws attention to the lack of corporate media attention to this HUGE SCANDALOUS level of waste by the Military/Industrial/Media complex ownership of government.  It seems for few hundred million in "be all you can be" ad buys the MSM will keep it's mouth shut.  We need to press so called journalists to bring this issue front and center.  No candidate should be allowed to talk about government waste or big government with out being asked the follow up "What would you do about the massive 8.5 Trillion dollars the pentagon can't account for?"

In short; nothing reinforces our position that the money for valuable social and infrastructure programs (that have provable returns on investment) is actually there than this scandal.  We need to harp on this until we get some answers and we need to leverage it more to shut down debate about desperately needed social program spending.

Monday, August 17, 2015

OPINION - Brooks and Corn 8/14/2015

"Brooks and Corn on Cuba as campaign issue, Jeb Bush on Islamic State blame" PBS NewsHour 8/14/2015


SUMMARY:  New York Times columnist David Brooks and David Corn of Mother Jones join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, why Jeb Bush is calling out the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton for the rise of the Islamic State, including how 2016 candidates are responding to renewed relations with Cuba, whether Hillary Clinton is losing ground in the 2016 race, plus the appeal of Donald Trump.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Well, something else Jeb Bush brought up this week was — as an issue in the race was going after Hillary Clinton, blaming her and the Obama administration for — essentially for helping create ISIS.

And he said that with the Obama administration did under her leadership as secretary of state was to leave an opening, pulling the troops out, he said, too early in 2011.  Is this something, David Corn, that he can get some mileage?

DAVID CORN, Mother Jones:  I mean, I have to laugh a little bit, because I think he was setting a record for chutzpah.

I mean, it wasn’t until after his brother’s invasion of Iraq that you had something called al-Qaida in Iraq.  And that was the group that morphed into ISIS.  So ISIS is a direct result of the war in Iraq right there.  And so he’s wrong on the history.

But then he said what happened was that Obama and Hillary Clinton orchestrated this quick withdrawal after everything was secure.  Nothing was really secure in 2009-2010.  You can ask Tom Ricks about that.  But it was George W. Bush in December 2008 who created the agreement with Prime Minister Maliki that said that U.S. troops had to be out by 2011.

And then Obama didn’t renegotiate that.  And there is a lot of question as to whether he could even have, given the political situation in Baghdad itself.  So Bush is totally — Jeb Bush is totally rewriting this.  And my question is, why is he even talking about Iraq?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times:  Yes.  He wants to have an anti-terror foreign policy.

I give him a little more credit, of course.  I think the war did help create al-Qaida in Iraq.  So, both parties have something to answer for.  Ultimately, ISIS created ISIS.  It wasn’t us, but allowing the environment — so the Bush administration, the failed war, that had a — some contributory factor.

I do think that we abandoned Iraq too quickly, left too quickly, left a void in the Sunni areas, which ISIS was completely happy to fill.  But more important — and this is a bigger indictment of the Obama administration — we did nothing about the Syrian civil war.  And that created the biggest void.

And that’s not necessarily Hillary Clinton’s fault because she was arguing for a more aggressive policy.  Nonetheless, we did nothing.  Even today, our attacks on ISIS are paltry, and we have continue to do nothing.  And there are strategic issues.  There are just moral issues.

Today, my newspaper had a front-page story on just rape academies, this institutionalized rape.  And the fact that we can stand by and do nothing while this is happening, to me, that’s an indictment of the sitting administration.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Extraordinary story.  We interview the reporter, Rukmini Callimachi, last night.  It is just such a disturbing story.

But does he have a point, though, David?

DAVID CORN:  I think you can have a policy dispute or debate, a discussion about what should be done, what has been done in the last three, four years regarding ISIS and Iraq.

You can’t blame Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for giving us ISIS, which is what Jeb Bush did.  And if he wants to get to brass tacks and talk about what he’s willing to do in terms of putting in troops and taking on targeting that hasn’t been done already — I mean, Barack Obama has mounted thousands of airstrikes.

And the real question is, at the end of the day, can the U.S. go in and make a difference?  We have learned with the invasion of Iraq that military might doesn’t always give us what we want in this region.

CHILDREN'S TV - Sesame Street, HBO

It's all about money.

"Does Sesame Street’s new address change its mission?" PBS NewsHour 8/14/2015


SUMMARY:  Sesame Street, the beloved children's television series and PBS staple since 1969, will have a new address coming this fall.  A five-year partnership with HBO means episodes will air first on the premium pay cable channel before appearing on public television nine months later.  Judy Woodruff discusses the changes with Gary Knell, former CEO of Sesame Workshop.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Finally, big changes at “Sesame Street.”

Yesterday, the long-running PBS children’s television series announced a new five-year partnership with HBO starting this fall.  New episodes of the show, a PBS staple since it premiered in 1969, will appear first on the premium pay cable channel.  Then it will air for free on their traditional public television home nine months later.

To help us explore what led to this change, and what it means, we turn to Gary Knell.  He was CEO of Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit group behind the show, from 2000 until 2011.  Then he was head of NPR, before moving to his current job as president of the National Geographic Society.

Gary Knell, great to have you with us.

GARY KNELL, Former CEO, Sesame Workshop:  Thanks for having me back.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, tell us, what was behind this?  Now that we have a day to digest the news, what do we attribute this to?  What were the forces at work?

GARY KNELL:  Well, I think you have got to look at this three ways, Judy.

For HBO, this is about streaming.  They’re competing with Netflix, and for them — and Amazon Prime — and this is a way of getting a number-one quality brand onto their streaming platforms.

For “Sesame Street”, this filled an economic gap.  And their economic model for many years has really been filled by home video and toys and books and other things that they were able to monetize off the brand to pay for the production in a lot of ways from — for PBS.  And this is a way of plugging that gap and giving them running room.

And I think, for PBS, it’s a little bit of an admission that maybe they’re a little bigger than “Sesame Street.”  They have 19 preschool and kids shows on PBS.  And PBS KIDS has become a robust network that is bigger than “Sesame Street” now.  It includes “Sesame Street.”  That’s an important component, but it’s bigger than.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  But why HBO?  We think of this as a — frankly, a channel that appeals to adults.  It’s a premium pay cable thing.  It’s something people are going to have to pay for.  Why — couldn’t it work at PBS?

GARY KNELL:  Well, it could, but I think, for HBO, this is quite a brilliant move, I think, to go after millennial audiences and young parents who grew up with “Sesame Street.”

(like I said, it's all about the money, for HBO)

And, again, they’re in a fight to the death now, not so much about their cable channel, so to speak, but it’s much more about streaming.  It’s this a la carte world, where we’re now competing against every piece of content ever invented, from a cat video to “Gone With the Wind,” every night, and unless you have great a la carte programs, you’re going to be in a competitive disadvantage to the Netflixes and the Amazon Primes of the world.

AT THE MOVIES - Straight Outta Compton

"‘Straight Outta Compton’ calls out racial divide that lingers today" PBS NewsHour 8/14/2015


SUMMARY:  The album "Straight Outta Compton" by rap group N.W.A. burst onto the hip hop scene in 1988, evoking the turmoil of gang violence, crack cocaine and poverty and the tension between young black Americans and the police.  A new movie, borrowing the same name, details the rise of those musicians and resonates with ongoing struggles today.  Jeffrey Brown reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  But, first, a new movie opening today revisits a key period in the evolution of hip-hop music, as well as present-day issues of race and justice.

Jeffrey Brown previews “Straight Outta Compton.”

MAN:  You are now about to witness the strength of street violence.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  It was music with attitude, aggressive, angry, sometimes funny, always profane.

The album “Straight Outta Compton” burst on the hip-hop scene in 1988 from the rap group N.W.A.  It described a place reeling from gang violence, crack cocaine and poverty, a war zone between young black men and women and the Los Angeles police.  The new movie, which borrows the album’s name, details the rise of N.W.A.

ACTOR:  What’s N.W.A stand for anyway?  No whites allowed?

ACTOR:  No, Niggaz Wit Attitudes.

JEFFREY BROWN:  The group included D.J. Yella, M.C. Ren and Eazy-E, a drug-dealer-turned-producer and rapper who would die from AIDS in 1995, as well as Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, who’ve gone on to enormous fame and who served as producers for the film.

ICE CUBE, Producer, “Straight Outta Compton”:  It’s been a long, long road, but now is the time.

And I think, you know, America really, really wants this story because it’s really a slice of American history.

JEFFREY BROWN:  The movie, spanning a decade, was directed by Compton native F. Gary Gray.

It shows how N.W.A established itself at a time when New York rap was dominant and how the group responded to its environment, as when its members are detained by police outside a music studio as they’re recording their first album.