Monday, November 28, 2016

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 11/25/2016

"Shields and Brooks on cabinet picks and conflicts of interest" PBS NewsHour 11/25/2016


SUMMARY:  In the past week, President-elect Donald Trump has announced several White House appointments and policy ideas.  Judy Woodruff speaks with syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks about Trump's choice to oversee the Department of Education, his interview with the New York Times, possible conflicts of interest and the top contenders for secretary of state.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  But first to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

And we welcome both of you on this day after Thanksgiving.

MARK SHIELDS, syndicated columnist:  Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  David is in Philadelphia.

Let's talk about — we're getting — beginning to get a sense, Mark, of Donald Trump's administration, a little sense.  He has named two more people today to the White House.  What are we learning from this?  What are we — what do you now understand about him that we didn't understand before?

MARK SHIELDS:  Not much.

I mean, I would say that there's been the small Donald, the petty, vindictive Donald, who can be rather mean-spirited, as he was on display at The New York Times editorial board meeting, where he gratuitously took out after Kelly Ayotte, the former Republican — senior Republican senator in New Hampshire, who had — after the “Access Hollywood” tape had refused to support Donald Trump and said she couldn't get a job.

And then we see the little bit larger Donald in hiring Nikki Haley, who had, in fact, backed both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and in the national address, in response — the official Republican response to the President's State of the Union, had warned the party against following the siren call of those — it was a direct allusion to Donald Trump at the time.

So he was larger in spirit in choosing her.  And she certainly is a person who has demonstrated leadership and character under stress at the time of the massacre, the racial massacre at the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston and leading in lowering the Confederate Battle Flag over the state — on the state capitol grounds.



JUDY WOODRUFF:  Excuse me.  I didn't mean to interrupt.


JUDY WOODRUFF:  What are you learning about Donald Trump from these appointments or announcements?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times:  Well, I guess it's — yes, of some comfort, I guess.

Sometimes, the campaign seemed to be, as Mark said, vindictive, but sort of a depraved three-ring circus.  The transition period has not been that.  He's nominated people like DeVos or Haley who are competent people, who are more or less professional, experienced people.

They may not be, on substantive ground, all of our cup of tea.  They are very consistent with the way he campaigned, a nationalist campaign on education policy, a campaign that is enthusiastic about school choice.

But they are more or less the sort of professional version of Trump's ideology.  And I do think there is just this animating spirit here to create a sort of nationalist, populist conservatism that will in some ways stretch the Republican Party and in some ways offend a lot of conservatives.

But I think there is an animating vision here to try to create a movement that will last post-Trump, a populist movement that may even try to span some of the dividing lines that have existed so far through large economic policies, through infrastructure policies, through a tough anti-terror policy that nonetheless keeps American troops out of war.

There's an animating vision here, and it's being executed, at least in the appointments so far, in some intellectually coherent way.


PS:  Personally, I do not do drugs, not even marijuana.

"What's next for marijuana legalization" PBS NewsHour 11/25/2016


SUMMARY:  On November 8, multiple states legalized the use of marijuana for either recreational or medicinal purposes -- thus marking a major shift in U.S. drug policy.  William Brangham speaks with Taylor West of the National Cannabis Administration and Jonathan Hudak of the Brookings Institution about marijuana law and how it might evolve under President-elect Donald Trump's upcoming administration.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  Legalizing marijuana was on the ballot in nine different states in this past election.  And except in Arizona, they all passed.  Four states, Montana, North Dakota, Arkansas, and Florida, voted to legalize use of marijuana for certain medical conditions.  And four other states, Maine, Nevada, Massachusetts, and California, legalized marijuana for anyone 21 years and over.

This means that millions more people will be able to purchase marijuana in sanctioned state-approved shops, but, according to federal law, the drug is still illegal, and the Trump administration could choose on day one to start enforcing that law.

To help us understand the complexity of all this, I'm joined now by Taylor West, who is the deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, and John Hudak, who studies drug policy, among other things, at the Brookings Institution.

Welcome to you both.

Taylor, I would like to start with you first.

Election Day had to be an enormous day for your industry.  Do you think of this as a tipping point going forward?

TAYLOR WEST, Deputy Director, National Cannabis Industry Association:  Absolutely.  This was a watershed day for the industry of cannabis, but also for cannabis policy in the U.S.

We saw, as you said, eight states vote for some form of legal, regulated marijuana program.  We now have 20 percent of the country living in a state that has access to legal marijuana, and more than 60 percent of the country living in a state that has legal access to medical marijuana.

This is in line with what we have seen from public opinion polls, so it really does reflect the direction that the country is moving on these issues.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  John Hudak, tipping point?  Do you think this is just the inevitable roll of this sort of policy going out across the country?

JOHN HUDAK, Brookings Institution:  This was absolutely the biggest day of the marijuana reform hands-down.

In terms of it being a tipping point, it's a bit hard to tell.  I think, in the short term, we're not going to see much movement at the federal level.  What happened in this election was big for marijuana.  But what also happened was the status quo in Congress, the same leadership in Congress, who, frankly, is opposed to reform.

But what this change in the landscape of marijuana policy can do is to start to embolden the industry, to start to get the industry having a stronger voice, a more powerful voice, and a more powerful economic voice to eventually move policy in the right direction toward their interests in reform.

SOUTH AFRICA - Cape Town's Vineyard

"Cape Town's urban vineyard could revitalize the city's poor" PBS NewsHour 11/24/2016


SUMMARY:  South Africa is known for its breathtaking vineyards -- but the poor urban settlements of Cape Town are not.  Yet here, too, farmers are relying on growing grapes to support themselves, in a community where the average annual income is only $1800.  The Township Winery represents an experiment that could revolutionize the socio-economics of the city.  Special correspondent Martin Seemungal reports.

JOHN YANG (NewsHour):  From food to drink, our Thanksgiving meal theme continues with a story about a new vintage from South Africa.

Special correspondent Martin Seemungal brings us the story of some fledgling vintners trying their hands at the ancient craft in the unlikeliest of places.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL, Special correspondent:  South Africa`s breathtaking vineyards near Cape Town, perfectly manicured estates spreading for miles in every direction, famous for world class wines.  But a world away, from the sprawling townships on the outskirts of the city — infamous for forced resettlement of mixed race and black South Africans, for crime and poverty — you have to look pretty hard to find a common link — but it is there, one little square among a sea of shacks,  a man planting a vineyard.

Manelisi Mapukata is part of an innovative collective; growing wine grapes in small plots that will one day make wine.  `The township winery started production using grapes from those traditional winemaking areas, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinotage, but the labels are unique… The Flats, Philippi, names from this part of town.  Ultimately, more and more of the grapes will come from these tiny township plots.

MANELISI MAPUKATA, Vineyard Farmer:  I feel proud about it because if just give me enough time also I will learn more about grapes.  How it`s important to have in our townships.  People can learn.  People can come to visit also to see what is happening.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:  The vines he is planting here won`t actually be ready to bear fruit for another three years, but after that, he will have a guaranteed harvest every year, and that means a guaranteed income.

That guaranteed income is an enormously important project to the farmers.  Many have spent years growing and selling vegetables and have been at the mercy of fluctuating prices.  Those empty rows in a section of this small plot will soon be growing grapes and ultimately earn annually as much as all vegetables combined.
Lulama says it will change their lives.

LULAMA, Vineyard Farmer:  It means that we want to generate more income so that we can put bread on the table for our children and the generations to come.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:  They stand to double what they are making now.  The average income here is roughly $1,800 a year.  Easy to understand why people are energized, why word is spreading.

Nomhle Zondani is marketing the Township Winery internationally, and here in South Africa, she also has to manage expectations among these first time growers.

NOMHLE ZONDANI, Marketer, The Township Winery:  Its not going to be an easy money making scheme.  You`re not going to get rich in like two years.  So, within that five years, you will get exposure.  We will bring people to say this is an idea that we have we would love to grow it and after five years, we would then we will have this whatever grape we can harvest from those vines.

ADDICTION CRISIS - Surgeon General's Report

"Surgeon General's report calls for response to addiction crisis" PBS NewsHour 11/24/2016


SUMMARY:  U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is warning Americans of the prevalence of substance abuse and the risks of not addressing it.  His new report describes the lethal impact and widespread scope of addiction.  William Brangham speaks with Murthy for more on why so few people find effective treatment, the stigma around addiction and the corresponding medical and legal costs of the problem.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  According to the Surgeon General's report more than 27 million Americans have problems with prescription drugs, illegal drugs or alcohol.  But just a fraction of those people, only 10 percent, get meaningful help.  The report cites missed opportunities for prevention and treatment and it says our substance abuse costs the country a staggering 440 billion a year.  I'm joined by the US surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy.  Doctor, thank you very much for being here.

VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. Surgeon General:  Really glad to be with you.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  This is a pretty sobering report.  Millions of people suffering, very, very few people are getting help.  When you compiled all this data, were you surprised by what you had found?

VIVEK MURTHY:  Well, I had seen the problem up close as a doctor practicing medicine.  When I came into medicine, I expected as an internal medicine doctor to primarily see people with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.  And I was shocked by the number of patients who came under my care who actually had substance abuse.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  You were seeing this in private practice before being tapped to be in the federal government?

VIVEK MURTHY:  Yes, I have always seen this — we even — starting in medical school itself and then on throughout my medical career, the experience was not unique to me but many of my clinician colleagues were seeing the same thing and they were really surprised.

When I became Surgeon General and had the privilege of travelling around the country and hearing people's stories firsthand, I found that every community was touched in some way by substance abuse disorders.  I went to a small fishing village in Alaska called Napaskiak which is accessible only by boat and no roads to go there and even in this small village of less than 500 people, the small little building where they kept medications had been broken into multiple times by people seeking out prescription painkillers.

CHANGING TASTES - 10 Restaurants to 'Home Cooking'

"These 10 groundbreaking restaurants changed how we dine" PBS NewsHour 11/24/2016


SUMMARY:  Can you imagine life before restaurants?  Or brunch?  Or convenient roadside dining?  In his new book, "Ten Restaurants That Changed America," historian Paul Freedman chronicles the pioneering establishments that changed American food.  Economics correspondent Paul Solman takes a tour with Freedman.

JOHN YANG (NewsHour):  Now, on this Thanksgiving day, we devote the rest of our broadcast to food, and a little wine.  First, economics correspondent Paul Solman explores the histories of some of this country`s most iconic restaurants, and how they reflected the cultural, social and economic development of their times.

PAUL SOLMAN (NewsHour):  In the heart of Harlem, Sylvia`s, where for 50-plus years, Presidents and pop stars, tourists and locals, have feasted on down home cooking.

TREN`NESS WOODS-BLACK, Sylvia's:  What we serve here at Sylvia`s is authentic, soul-food cuisine, rich in heritage that goes back over five generations.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Tren`ness Woods-Black is a granddaughter of the late Sylvia Woods from South Carolina.

TREN`NESS WOODS-BLACK:  So, you`re going to get the original farm to table, which is what soul food is.

PAUL FREEDMAN, Yale University:  You can`t write a book about American food without giving a big place to African American cuisine, which is arguably what American cuisine is at heart.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Medieval historian Paul freedman, who turned an academic fascination with Middle Ages cuisine into a new career in his middle ages, chronicling American food.  His new book, “Ten Restaurants That Changed America,” begins at Delmonico`s in New York`s financial district, the new nation`s first real restaurant.

PAUL FREEDMAN:  By real, I mean a place that offered a choice.  A large menu, and a fairly wide range of times when the place was open instead of saying we serve at 1:00, take it or leave it.

PAUL SOLMAN:  What fascinated me, as a money buff, was how our restaurants track our economic growth.

So, when Delmonico`s opens in the 1830s, that`s the beginning of what we now know as the American economy?

PAUL FREEDMAN:  It coincides with an America of railroads, of rapid expansion to the West, of industrialization and of increasing contact with the rest of the world.  It`s not a place for people who fancy themselves as squires or aristocrats.  It`s a place for enterprising people.

PAUL SOLMAN:  But they are wealthy.

PAUL FREEDMAN:  Definitely.

PAUL SOLMAN:  The new money wanted food that was fancy French, with new world twists.  Delmonico`s steak, a rib-eye

PAUL FREEDMAN:  They invented Lobster Newburg.  They invented Baked Alaska.

PAUL SOLMAN:  They even invented brunch.

TV HOST:  Delmonico`s is credited with creating this brunch dish — Erin.

CONTESTANT:  What is Eggs Benedict?

TV HOST:  Good.

PAUL SOLMAN:  This was the place to meet and eat, well into the 20th century.

MALE:  We`re going to Delmonico`s for supper, won`t you join us?

MALE:  What will it be tonight, Delmonico`s or the Plaza?

MALE:  Lunch at Delmonico`s!

PAUL FREEDMAN:  And men and women would show up together at night, but at lunch, it would be men only.

"In a Long Island kitchen, refugees offer the flavors of their native lands" PBS NewsHour 11/24/2016


SUMMARY:  New York City is known for the stunning variety of ethnic cuisines available on its street corners, and one local entrepreneur is looking to expand that breadth even further -- by leveraging the city's most recent arrivals.  William Brangham reports from a Long Island kitchen (Eat Offbeat) where refugees prepare meals using the flavors of their native lands and deliver them to Big Apple foodies.

QUESTION - Reverse Radicalization?

"Can we reverse radicalization with counseling?" PBS NewsHour 11/22/2016


SUMMARY:  Can aggressive counseling bring someone back from the brink of radicalization?  Science correspondent Miles O'Brien explores the psychological basis for why people are drawn to extremist groups and how a bold experiment in criminal justice and clinical psychology taking place in Minnesota may offer a solution.

MILES O'BRIEN (NewsHour):  In a federal courtroom in Minneapolis, they are facing the threat of homegrown terrorism in a manner that has never been tried before in this country.  It is a bold experiment in criminal justice and clinical psychology.  The question?  Can aggressive counseling bring someone back from the brink of radicalization?

MANNY ATWAL, Federal Defender:  What we have started here is revolutionary.  I think it's great.

MILES O'BRIEN:  Manny Atwal is a federal public defender representing 20-year-old Abdullahi Yusuf.  He (Yusuf) is one of eight first-generation Somali Americans, all in their teens or early 20s, convicted in May of plotting to go to Syria and fight for the Islamic State.

MANNY ATWAL:  I know we punish juveniles.  I get that, and I understand that.  And I know we punish young adults, and I get that and understand that.  But, at the same time, to say let's just lock them up for a lifetime is not the right solution.

MILES O'BRIEN:  While he was in jail awaiting sentencing, Abdullahi Yusuf became the nation's first convicted terrorist to undergo terrorism rehabilitation.  He has two mentors who counsel him regularly and a wide-ranging reading list.

MANNY ATWAL:  He will have like a week to read this, write up a book report and then discuss it with us.

MILES O'BRIEN:  So, it's a real assignment for him?

MANNY ATWAL:  Yes.  Yes.

Learning American civics, learning about American culture, learning about the East and West just — it just opened up his eyes.  And that, I think, is the disengagement that I speak of, to try and get these kids to disengage from some of their thinking that's been put in their heads, and to get them back to be good citizens that they were before this all happened.

MILES O'BRIEN:  It appears the effort might have held sway with the judge.  Yusuf, who also testified against his friends, was sentenced to time served.  Most of the others received long prison terms.  The case of these men is one chapter in a long, sad story.

CHIEF JUDGE JOHN TUNHEIM, District of Minnesota:  Minnesota has the greatest number of terrorism prosecutions of any of the federal districts in the United States.

MILES O'BRIEN:  John Tunheim is the chief federal judge for the District of Minnesota, home to the largest Somali American community in the U.S.

He watched from the bench as a tragic exodus began in 2007; 23 young Somali Americans from Minnesota joined the ranks of the al-Qaida-linked Al-Shabaab terror group as it tried to topple the government of Somalia.  More recently, the call to arms has come from the Islamic State.

For judges trying to mete out fair sentences, it is uncharted territory.  There are no guidelines.

CHIEF JUDGE JOHN TUNHEIM:  They're different from a bank robber or someone who sells drugs.  I mean, we understand those cases.  We have had many of those cases in our courts.  We haven't had many terrorism cases.  We need to understand them.  We need to make sure that we can keep them, to the best effort that we possibly can, from becoming terrorists again.

MEDAL OF FREEDOM - President Obama Awards 21

"‘I am the president, he is the Boss':  Obama pays tribute to, jokes with Medal of Freedom recipients" PBS NewsHour 11/22/2016


SUMMARY:  At the White House, President Obama handed out the Medal of Freedom to twenty-one notable American figures; from Kareem Abdul Jabbar, to Bill and Melinda Gates, Diana Ross, Michael Jordan, Vin Scully, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Redford, and many others.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Twenty-one people received the Presidential Medal of Freedom this year, from artists and entertainers, to philanthropists and scientists.

President Obama handed out the medals at the White House this afternoon.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  Extraordinary Americans who have lifted our spirits, strengthened our union, pushed us towards progress.

These two have donated more money to charitable causes than anyone ever.

Many years ago, Melinda's mom told her an old saying:  To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, that is success.

By this and just about any other measure, few in human history have been more successful than these two impatient optimists.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  Ellen DeGeneres has a way of making you laugh about some thing, rather than at someone, except when I danced on her show.  She laughed at me.



It's easy to forget now, when we have come so far, where now marriage is equal under the law, just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages almost 20 years ago.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  Now, every journalist in the room, every media knows the phrase Newt Minow coined:  the vast wasteland.

But the two words Newt prefers we remember from his speech to the nation's broadcasters are these:  public interest.  That's been the heartbeat of his life's work.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  The game of baseball has a handful of signature sounds.  You hear the crack of the bat.  You have got the crowd singing in the seventh inning stretch.  And you have got the voice of Vin Scully.

When he heard about this honor, Vin asked, with characteristic humility, “Are you sure? I'm just an old baseball announcer.”


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  And we had to inform him that, to Americans of all ages, you are an old friend.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  Here's how great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was; 1967, he had spent a year dominating college basketball.  The NCAA bans the dunk.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  They didn't say it was about Kareem, but it was about Kareem.



Full ceremony (1:01:43):

POLITICS - Bernie on Trump

"Bernie Sanders on how to hold Donald Trump accountable" PBS NewsHour 11/21/2016


SUMMARY:  In “Our Revolution,” Bernie Sanders discusses this year's election and what he sees as the future of American politics.  Jeffrey Brown sat down with Sen.  Bernie Sanders at the National Book Festival in Miami to discuss the election of Donald Trump and building a progressive movement in the U.S.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  This weekend, Jeffrey Brown sat down with Senator Bernie Sanders at the Miami Book Fair to talk about his new book, “Our Revolution,” to discuss the presidential election, and to get his take on the future of American politics.

Jeff began by asking the senator why he thought Donald Trump's message attracted so many voters.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Va.):  I think he understood that there are many millions of people in this country, the working middle class, who are really hurting.  They are in pain.

They are working longer hours for lower wages, can't afford child care, scared to death of retirement because they have no money in the bank.  They have seen decent-paying jobs leave their community, go to China and Mexico.

And he said:  I, Donald Trump, yes, I am going to take on the entire establishment.  I'm going to take on the political establishment.  I am going to take on the economic establishment.  I'm going to take on the media establishment.

And I think a lot of people responded positively to that message.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  I was telling you I was in Iowa, North Carolina seeing a lot of the things that I think you were seeing of people around the country and the desperate shape that they were in.

But why then would Donald Trump become that champion?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:  Now, how many hours do we have to discuss that issue?  That's the question that needs a lot of discussion.

And I think it speaks to a large degree to the failure of the Democratic Party.

JEFFREY BROWN:  The failure?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:  Yes, which is something I'm trying to deal with right now.

The Democratic Party has been very strong in a lot of areas, in fighting to make our country a less discriminatory country.  And that is enormously important.  And, by the way, on that issue, there cannot be any compromise.  Trump's language has been atrocious, his behavior toward women.

We cannot go back to a racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic type of society.

But, on economic issues, I think there are many people in the working class who say, you know what?  Yes, maybe we are better off than we were eight years ago, but I am still working two or three jobs, my kid can't afford to go to college, I can't afford child care, my real wages have been going down for 40 years.  The middle class is shrinking.  Who's standing up for me?

The Democratic Party there for me?  Are they going to take on Wall Street?  Are they going to take on the drug companies that rip me off?  And the perception was, no, they will not.

JEFFREY BROWN:  But when you look at the election, and you think about those issues as drivers in the election, did you feel — do you feel that you could have won if it was you against Donald Trump?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:  I have been asked that question about 48 million times.

JEFFREY BROWN:  I know, so make it 48 million, plus one.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:  There you go.

And the answer is, who knows?  I mean, I think what we can say is that the polling when I was running against Secretary Clinton during the process, primary process, had me doing better against Trump.  And some recent polls suggest that I would have won.

But, you know, you don't know what a three- or four-month campaign is about.  But I will say, I would very much have loved the opportunity.

Bernie would have won!

DIPLOMACY - Kissinger on Obama/Trump and China

"What Henry Kissinger thinks about Obama, Trump and China" PBS NewsHour 11/21/2016


SUMMARY:  At 93, Henry Kissinger is still one of the most influential -- and controversial -- foreign policy figures in America, says Jeffrey Goldberg, Atlantic editor-in-chief.  The former secretary of state recently joined Goldberg for a conversation about the Obama legacy, the president-elect and more.  Judy Woodruff reports as part of a collaboration between The Atlantic and the PBS NewsHour.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Earlier this year, we reported on “Atlantic” magazine editor Jeffrey Goldberg's article “The Obama Doctrine.” The lengthy piece gained widespread attention, including that of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who quietly let it be known that he'd like to share some thoughts of his own about President Obama's foreign policy.

So, Jeffrey Goldberg and Kissinger sat down to talk.

This is a report on part of an ongoing partnership between the NewsHour and The Atlantic.

JEFFREY GOLDBERG, The Atlantic:  He's still really the most influential foreign policy thinker in America in a lot of ways.

And so, in my experience with him, there's always something to learn, even at the age of 93, maybe especially at the age of 93.  There's always something to learn from him.  And so we wound up spending hours talking about not just the Obama doctrine.  We talked about the order of the world currently, and we talked a lot about the election.

He, like a lot of people, thought Hillary Clinton was going to win.  We talked about both candidates.  And, well, here we are.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, the news right now is the election of Donald Trump, and we're going to talk about that.

But let's go back to how your conversation with Henry Kissinger came about.  What does he think about the legacy of Barack Obama's foreign policy?

JEFFREY GOLDBERG:  He thinks that the President is too passive in his approach to foreign policy, that the American President has a responsibility to make more order in the world, especially as it relates to the other great powers, Russia and China in particular.

He also thinks that the President is too burdened by the alleged sins of the past — Kissinger would think of them more as alleged sins — of American behavior during the Cold War in various places, including Vietnam and Cambodia.

But, mainly, it has to do with a passivity that he sees in the present, a lack of strategic thinking, a lack of assertion.  And, obviously, the President, when I was interviewing him on these subjects, Kissinger was almost sort of a specter in the room at various points, because the President would talk about the red line in Syria, for instance, and talk about how one of the worst reasons to bomb someone is to prove that you're willing to bomb someone.

And I felt as if he were addressing Henry Kissinger and Kissinger's role in Cambodia, using bombing to enhance American credibility at the negotiating table.

So, I found — it was a totally fascinating process for me, because I was moderating, non-chronologically, an argument between President Obama and the most important and most controversial foreign policy statesman of the modern era.  And so — and so there was that piece.

The other piece is that Obama, in some ways, resembles Henry Kissinger.  Kissinger recognizes this to some degree.  I think the President recognizes it to some degree.  Neither man particularly obsesses about human rights as a key issue in the way America organizes its relationship with other countries.

TRUMP - Art of Distraction

"How Donald Trump uses distraction and surprise" PBS NewsHour 11/21/2016

HINT:  Trump can't stand the heat of a news conference, he doesn't want his policies questioned.


SUMMARY:  As Donald Trump chooses members of his upcoming administration and begins to outline his plan for once he takes office, Judy Woodruff speaks with Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and NPR's Tamara Keith about his avoidance of press conferences, his penchant for unpredictability and his first staff picks.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Time for Politics Monday.

I'm joined by Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

And welcome to both of you.

AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report:  Thank you.

TAMARA KEITH, NPR:  Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, we just a few minutes ago saw this video the Trump transition team released, telling us what Donald Trump plans to do in the first — in the early part of his administration after he's inaugurated.

He talked about trade.  He talked about energy and investigating people who abuse their visas, trying to make sure people aren't here taking jobs away from Americans.

Amy, this is unusual, isn't it?  I mean, the election is almost two weeks ago.  He has not had a news conference yet.  He's done some tweeting.  We have seen him greeting people coming to Trump Tower, and now this.

AMY WALTER:  And now a video, where, obviously, you cannot do questions and answers.

The only thing he — interestingly he said in the video is the things he was going to do by executive order, not things that he would — here is what I'm going to work on with Congress in my first three days.  Here are the things that I'm going to do as President.

And, again, each President has come in with the ability for executive orders to roll back the previous administration's executive orders, right, because they're not a rule of law in the same way as if they were passed by Congress.

That said, to your other point about this being unusual, we have to stop treating Donald Trump like this is just a traditional, normal, political candidate who's now going to be a traditional, normal President.

The fact that he did tweet out this weekend, get in something of a fight with the cast of “Hamilton,” as well as the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” this now as president-elect, not just as a candidate, the fact that he's just using video, instead of having an actual press conference, so the role that Donald Trump carved out as a candidate is the same role that he's going to play as President.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  What does it tell us, Tam, about how he relates to the public and to the news media?

TAMARA KEITH:  Yes.  So, he hasn't held a press conference since July.

This goes way, way, way back to the campaign.  And he has not related to the press or the public in a traditional way ever.  And he's had an incredible skill at distracting, at creating — there was this movie “Up” and there was a dog who gets distracted, and, squirrel, squirrel.

That's what happens.  Every time there is a story that is not favorable to him, like settling the Trump University lawsuit for $25 million, suddenly, there is a Twitter fight.

Meanwhile, he has skillfully avoided sort of the type of environment that a press conference creates, the environment where you get asked a question, and then somebody else asks a question, then somebody else asks a question, it builds on it, and you really can't escape.

And so there is nothing like a press conference.  And his transition team is saying, well, you know, don't tell him what's traditional and what is conventional.  This is Donald Trump.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


EUROPE - ISIS Planner Identified

"U.S. Identifies ISIS Planner in Attacks on Europe" by Sebastian Rotella, ProPublica 11/22/2016

State Department sanctions a former soldier in the French Foreign Legion as a senior plotter as French authorities roll up an ISIS network said to be planning new attacks.

U.S. and European counterterror officials are zeroing in on Islamic State masterminds of a terror campaign against Europe that continues despite military setbacks for ISIS in the Middle East.

On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department announced that it had put a suspected plotter of last November's attacks in Paris on a list of specially designated global terrorists.  The announcement came the day after French authorities said they had arrested seven suspects and foiled a plot directed by senior ISIS figures in Syria to carry out major coordinated attacks in Paris and Marseilles during the Christmas holidays.

Separately, French and Belgian counter-terror officials said this week they have identified a second ISIS figure involved in directing operations against both countries.

The State Department sanction targeted a Moroccan-born suspect named Abdelilah Himich, who grew up in France and fought in the French Foreign Legion in Afghanistan before traveling to Syria and joining the Islamic State, according to court files and counterterror officials.

Last month, ProPublica and the PBS program Frontline reported that U.S. intelligence officials believe Himich, 27, was part of an ISIS unit in Syria that directed the terror attacks against Paris and Brussels.  Composed largely of youthful European fighters, the external operations unit oversaw a campaign in which up to 200 operatives were deployed to Europe using forged documents, encrypted communications techniques and support networks supplying arms, transport and safe houses, Western intelligence officials say.

“Abdelilah Himich, also known as Abu Sulayman al-Faransi, is a senior foreign terrorist fighter and external operations figure,” the State Department said in a statement today.  “Himich created the Tariq Ibn Ziyad Battalion in 2015, a European foreign terrorist fighter cell that has provided suicide operatives for ISIL attacks in Iraq, Syria, and abroad; at one time the battalion numbered as many as 300 members.  Himich was also reportedly involved in the planning of ISIL's November 2015 Paris attacks and March 2016 Brussels attacks.”

U.S. intelligence believes Himich was a “conceiver” of the Paris attacks, according to U.S. counterterror officials.  But details of his activities remain unclear, especially because several ISIS fighters use the same nickname as he does.  While French and U.S. intelligence agencies agree that Himich is a senior foreign fighter, they differ about his degree of involvement in the Paris and Brussels attacks.  Such discrepancies are not uncommon in intelligence circles, especially when it comes to murky underworld of the Islamic State.

“It's possible he was involved, but we don't have evidence that he played an important role in the Paris plot,” said a senior French counterterror official who requested anonymity.  “We do know he led a battalion of foreign fighters in Syria.  If the Americans have specific intelligence of his role in the Paris attacks, they haven't shared it with us.”

The U.S. government uses terrorist designations to put international pressure on top suspects, block their assets and bar U.S. persons from doing business with them.

In recent weeks, U.S.-backed Iraqi military forces have hammered the Islamic State in its bastion of Mosul and elsewhere, damaging the group's ability to deploy fighters to Europe and direct attacks in the West.

Nonetheless, the threat persists.  French authorities are on heightened alert as the Christmas holidays approach.  Over the weekend, French police arrested seven suspects in Strasbourg and Marseilles who had been under surveillance for months.  French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said authorities dismantled a network directed by ISIS from Syria that was about to unleash attacks.

The raids prevented “a long-planned terrorist attack on our territory,” Cazeneuve told reporters in France on Monday.

The DGSI counterterror agency arrested six suspects in Strasbourg and one in Marseilles.  At least two suspects were trained by ISIS in Syria last year and were sent back to France to await further orders, according to French counterterror officials.  Some of the suspects were associates of three Frenchmen who killed dozens of concert-goers at the Bataclan theater last November, officials said.

The lengthy investigation first identified a terrorist financing network in France that used fraudulent loans and other swindles to send up to $20,000 back to Syria.  French intelligence then monitored a French-speaking ISIS leader in the Syrian city of Raqqah who used long-distance communications to oversee two separate terror cells trying to acquire arms for attacks, the senior counterterror official said.

When a suspected Moroccan operative who had lived in Portugal traveled to Marseilles recently to advance the plotting, French authorities decided to dismantle the network, the official said.  The plotters intended to carry out coordinated holiday attacks on public places in Paris and Marseilles, officials believe.

“It was a sophisticated operation,” the senior French counterterror official said.  “It was all controlled and coordinated by ISIS from Raqqa.  The two cells were compartmentalized.  They had no contact with each other, just with the leader in Syria.  It would have been a major attack like the one in Paris last year.”

Investigations in Europe have shed light on the workings of ISIS plots against the West.  In addition to Himich, French and Belgian police have identified another suspected ISIS leader – a shadowy figure in Syria who directed the Paris plotters last year using encrypted communications and the alias Abu Ahmad.

Officials said the suspect is a 32-year-old Belgian named Osama Atar, according to European and U.S. counterterror officials.  (The identification of Atar as the mysterious Abu Ahmad was first reported by Le Monde newspaper of France.)

Atar has a remarkable history.  In 2005, the U.S.  military captured him in Iraq on suspicion of fighting for al Qaeda.  He was held in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison and the U.S.-run Camp Bucca detention center, where his fellow inmates included future Iraqi leaders of the Islamic State such as Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, according to Western counterterror officials.

An Iraqi court sentenced Atar to ten years in prison.  But he won early release in 2012 thanks to a campaign by Belgian politicians and human rights advocates, who claimed that he was ill with cancer and had been unfairly treated.  Now critics say their efforts freed a committed fighter who quickly returned to the fray.

“It has never been confirmed that he had cancer,” said Eric Van der Sypt, a Belgian federal prosecutor, in a telephone interview.  “He joined ISIS in Syria soon after he was released.”

Investigators believe Atar played a central role in training and directing the ten-man attack team who struck Paris and killed 130 people, according to Van der Sypt and other officials.  He then spent four months communicating from Syria via encrypted messages with the surviving operatives who planned their next attack from hideouts in Brussels.  The fugitives directed by Atar included his Belgian cousins, Ibrahim and Khalid Bakraoui, officials said.

Atar gave the fugitives bomb-making instructions and helped them plan the suicide attacks they carried out against the Brussels airport and a subway station in March, killing 32 people, according to investigators.  He used the nickname Abu Ahmad during the online exchanges, investigators say.

Atar's photo has been identified by a captured ISIS operative in French custody, according to European counterterror officials.  Atar remains a fugitive.  Belgian police believe that he secretly returned to Belgium a few months after the Brussels bombings.  Two more of his relatives were arrested in June on charges of plotting to attack an open-air “fan zone” set up in downtown Brussels for viewing of the European soccer championships.

“We are practically sure he was in Brussels in August of this year,” Van der Sypt said.  Atar's whereabouts now are unknown, he said.

If Atar is in fact Abu Ahmad, he left a detailed trail of communications recovered from a laptop discarded by the Brussels bombers.  It has been more difficult to determine the precise identities of the other masterminds, such as Himich.  Investigators believe Himich's military experience helped him rise through the ranks of the Islamic State and join the external operations group.

Despite the differing analyses of French and U.S. intelligence agencies about his role, parts of Himich's story are well-documented in French court records obtained by ProPublica.  Investigators used intercepts, credit card receipts, interrogations of accomplices and other evidence to build a picture of his journey to Syria and life in the combat zone.

French investigators first became aware of Himich in early 2014 during the surveillance of suspects in Lunel, a picturesque town near Montpellier that has been a hotbed for radicalized young people to join the jihad in Syria.

The son of Moroccan immigrants, Himich went to high school in Lunel.  He joined the French Foreign Legion on November 13, 2008—seven years to the day before the Paris attacks, according to court documents.  He served with that legendary fighting force in Afghanistan, earning two medals, but then deserted in 2010.  He did prison time for drug trafficking in 2012, according to court documents.

In February of 2014, Himich and four others prepared to journey to the Syria by purchasing supplies: camping gear, night-vision goggles, medicine.  Himich used a U.S. passport stolen in Paris to rent a luxury BMW sedan, which the group drove to Syria via Italy, Greece and Turkey, according to court documents.

By Feb. 13 of that year, Himich called his girlfriend in Lunel to tell her he was with militants doing a three-week training course, according to the documents.

“Right now, we all have to be at the same level,” Himich said, according to a transcript of a phone call intercepted by French police.  “Afterward, if it's a question of who's going to be the chief or what, I'm going to be the chief.”

The girlfriend, a French convert to Islam, joined him that May in Syria, where they married and had children.  Himich soon became the emir, or leader, of a 50-man fighting unit.  He was wounded by an exploding mortar during a battle in which “fire rained from the sky,” according to intercepted conversations among other militants quoted in the documents.

Himich oversaw the crucifixion of two traitors by the Islamic State and enlisted a pilot to give flying lessons to his trainees, the documents say.  Intercepted conversations describe combat, the births of children to militant families, and the deaths of French jihadis, often with photos of the corpses sent to families in France.

The court documents do not make explicit reference to Himich's role in plots against Europe.  But a phone conversation intercepted in May, 2015, suggests that Himich may have lived in the same house in Syria as Fouad Aggad, one of the Paris attackers.

The transcript recounts a phone call between Aggad's mother and his brother, who was incarcerated in a French prison.  The two discuss what they've heard from Fouad Aggad about his life in the Islamic State.

Six months after the conversation, Aggad died in a gun battle with police during the massacre at the Bataclan nightclub in Paris.

Himich, meanwhile, had disciplinary troubles with the Islamic State this spring, according to French officials.  French intelligence has learned that ISIS removed him from his command post in April and temporarily jailed him for some type of misconduct, according to the French counterterror official.

But French and U.S. intelligence officials still consider him alive and dangerous.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

ELECTION POLLS - Misinterpreted

"The Presidential Polls Weren't As Wrong as the Interpreters" by Robert Faturechi, ProPublica 11/21/2016

The polls, of course, turned out to be wrong.

In the days since the election, reporters and pollsters have been mulling why most projections missed the extent of support for Donald Trump in the Rust Belt and the weaker-than-expected turnout for Hillary Clinton among some voter groups.

Was there a “shy Trump” phenomenon, with some of his supporters reluctant to tell pollsters they were voting for him?  Were projections thrown off by the unusually high percentage of undecideds on the eve of the election?  Was the importance of the country's demographic shift exaggerated?

Before the election, we talked to Harry Enten, a senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight, about what the polls were projecting.  We have him on again this week for a postmortem, and a discussion of how polling -- and the interpretation of polls --can be improved.

A few highlights from the conversation:

Robert:  How much did party identification, what party a voter considers himself or herself to be a part of, how much did that matter in this election and has that changed over time how much that plays a role in which candidate a voter chooses?

Harry:  So basically, party identification is the name of the game.  Donald Trump got about 90 percent of self-identified Republicans.  Hillary Clinton came pretty much doing exactly the same with Democrats.  That means that if you know how self-identified independents are going to vote and you know the percentage that Democrats and Republicans are going to make up the electorate, your poll is going to be pretty much right on.  There was a lot of talk before the election that Donald Trump would suffer among self-identified Republican voters.  That didn't really seem to be the case.  Yes, perhaps he did a little bit worse than House Republicans did among self-identified Republicans but he did well enough, and indeed, this is part of a continuing trend in American politics where party identification basically tells all.

It's a drug, as I like to say.  Self identified Republicans are pretty much always going to vote with the Republican candidate and self-identified Democrats are always going to vote for the Democratic candidate.  That's far different than it was 35 to 40 years ago when the winning candidate regularly got a lot of support from the other side.  For instance, Ronald Reagan, when he won the 1980 election, got well over 20 percent self-identified Democrats.  That's just not the case anymore.  You pretty much get your side's supporters and then some independents and you get very little support from the other side and that is part of a continuing polarization in this country of Democrats winning Democrats and Republicans winning Republicans.

Robert:  Have there been other instances in modern history where the polling has been so off?

Harry:  Well, I mean yes.  It was just not that they necessarily made the difference who was going to win and lose.  I mean in 2000, for instance, the final average of national polls taken over the final week of the campaign had George Bush winning by about three percentage points.  He ended up losing by nearly one percentage point.  That error was basically the average error that we saw across state polls.  It just so happened that George W.  Bush ended up winning in the Electoral College so it didn't end up mattering, but also was the fact that I think a lot of people understood that the race was close in a way that I think many people especially in urban centers and on the coast just couldn't imagine Donald Trump winning, and there have been errors for sure that have been even larger than what we saw this time around on the state level.

For instance, in 1980 the state polls were much further off, but again, the final state polls in 1980 indicated that Ronald Regan was going to win by a small margin.  He ended up winning by a large margin, so I don't think people were able to connect those back.  They said, "Oh, the person who was leading won, so no big error."  This time around, though, we had actually a slightly smaller error, it just went in the other direction and that's why I'm very careful not to necessarily talk about errors in binomial senses, that is, wins and losses, but rather in terms of margins.  And this time around, even if the margin wasn't as large as it was, say, in 1980, it was large enough and went in the correct direction -- or the wrong direction, depending on who you are -- to be able to flip the winner in the key swing states and ultimately the election.

Monday, November 21, 2016

OPINION - Brooks and Marcus 11/18/2016

"Brooks and Marcus on why Trump's appointments make sense" PBS NewsHour 11/18/2016


SUMMARY:  As Donald Trump announces his choices for prominent roles in his upcoming administration, patterns are emerging.  New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus join Judy Woodruff to analyze the newest appointments and the governing philosophy they represent, consider Trump's potential conflicts of interest and share remembrances of beloved colleague Gwen Ifill.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  And now to the analysis of Brooks and Marcus.  That's New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus.  Mark Shields is away.

And happy Friday to both of you.

So, President-elect Trump, David, making these three big announcements today in the national security arena, after we heard who a couple of people are going to be around him in the White House.  What do we make of these choices, starting with the ones today?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times:  Well, if you thought Donald Trump was going to be swallowed up by the conventional Republican Party or by Washington, you were wrong.

He's governing, it seems, exactly as he campaigned.  And the people he selected are very much in the spirit of the campaign, sometimes explicitly referencing the policies he took on the campaign.

So, I would say:
  • A) (aka First) They are going to be very different.  We're going to have a very different administration from a normal Republican administration, let alone a Democratic administration.
  • Second, I have to say, they have good resumes.  Pompeo, Flynn, they are — it's not like they're just out of the wilderness.  These are people who have been around power and who probably are not going to be automatically incompetent at their jobs.
  • The third thing to that we say is, they have Donald Trump's charm, which is to say they are extremely sharp-elbowed individuals, to a person.  And it's like he's taken all the hard bosses or bad bosses in the world, and so far, he is bringing them all together.
And so, if they work as a team, maybe they will be a very tough team, but they could work on each other.  And it could be hard to hire people under them, because these are people famous for being really hard on those around them.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Ruth, what do you make of these national security picks?

RUTH MARCUS, Washington Post:  Disturbing on General Flynn, and less disturbing on Congressman Pompeo.

I think it's really important for us to understand Donald Trump is the president-elect, and he is really entitled to — he has got the prerogative to pick people who will implement his policies and who have his confidence.

But I think — I don't look at it just as the national security team.  I look at it as a whole, and I'm very worried that he is picking people — he talked on election night about the need to bind the wounds of division.  I think he's picking a series of people who are potentially pouring salt into the wounds of division and who are reinforcing some of his worst tendencies, rather than buttressing him and surrounding himself with people who bring to the table both personality and capabilities that he may be lacking in.

And so I would — the three that most concern me are General Flynn, Senator Sessions, and Steve Bannon at his right hand in the White House.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Who comes from Breitbart News.


DREAMS DASHED - The Immigration Visa Program

"The visa program leaving hopeful immigrants empty-handed" PBS NewsHour 11/17/2016


SUMMARY:  After leaving their home in Pakistan and living in Dubai, Noreen and Shehryar Iqbal aspired to move to the U.S. through the EB-5 Visa program, which grants green cards and eventually U.S. citizenship for large, job-creating investments.  Now their life savings are gone and there are no green cards in sight.  What happened?  Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  The so-called EB-5 visa permits foreign nationals to invest in job-creating programs in the U.S. in exchange for permanent residency.  But it's been scandal-plagued, leading to calls for reform.

As Congress gets set to tackle some final business before the end of this year, will the program finally get fixed?

Our economics Paul Solman takes a look.  It's part of his weekly series, Making Sense.

NOREEN IQBAL:  See, in Dubai the thing is, as long as you work in Dubai, you can live in Dubai.  But what if you leave the job?  We have to go back to Pakistan, which we don't want to.

PAUL SOLMAN (NewsHour):  Noreen and Shehryar Iqbal thought they had a surefire way to avoid a return to their native Pakistan.

NOREEN IQBAL:  It's not a safe country.

SHEHRYAR IQBAL:  It's got a lot of security challenges.

PAUL SOLMAN:  He's a flight attendant for Dubai's national airline.  She was, too, until they had kids.  Their plan, sock away enough of their salaries to buy their way into America via the EB-5 visa program, which grants green cards, and eventually U.S.  citizenship, to foreigners and their immediate families.

Just invest half-a-million dollars to create at least 10 full-time jobs in either a rural project or an urban area with a high unemployment rate.

NOREEN IQBAL:  We saved even the allowance money.  I can say that.  It's so embarrassing for us to tell somebody that allowance money is for you to eat, but we used to save that also.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Oh, you mean the money that the airline would give you.

NOREEN IQBAL:  The airline give you on your flight to have your food and everything, we would save that also.

PAUL SOLMAN:  And put it away.

NOREEN IQBAL:  Put it away.

PAUL SOLMAN:  To that, they added Shehryar's small inheritance — his parents had died in a car crash when he was a teenager — and investments they'd made to grow their nest egg.

SHEHRYAR IQBAL:  She bought a little studio in a nice upscale area.  It's called the Jumeirah Lake Towers.  It was generating a very, very good rental income.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Are you — you're starting to remember it all?  That's what's going on?


PAUL SOLMAN:  No, no, it's OK.

NOREEN IQBAL:  So, we rarely talk about this, because I start to…

PAUL SOLMAN:  A lot of tears have been shed over the EB-5 project the Iqbals chose to invest in, one we first covered last year here on Making Sense.  The Jay Peak ski resort in Northern Vermont, coupled with plans for a hugely ambitious stem cell manufacturing facility affiliated with a South Korean biotech firm.

But, in April, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged developers Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger with 52 counts of federal securities violations, alleging they'd misused $200 million of EB-5 investor funds, running the ski resort project as a giant Ponzi scheme, and the stem cell project as a total fraud.

The Iqbals, who put down their money on stem cells, have lost not just their half-million dollar investment, but another $65,000 in legal and administrative fees, with not a green card in sight.

We talked to them on their recent visit to the U.S. on tourist visas using their free flight passes.

BRIEF BUT SPECTACULAR - Reminder, Life Goes On

"How cartoons remind us that life goes on" PBS NewsHour 11/17/2016

SUMMARY:  New Yorker magazine cartoon editor Bob Mankoff says he and his staff spend an extraordinary amount of time selecting and editing the cartoons that readers might not find funny.  Mankoff offers his Brief But Spectacular take on the cartoons that strike the balance between amusing and poignant.

ELECTIONS - Hoaxes and Fake News

"How online hoaxes and fake news played a role in the election" PBS NewsHour 11/17/2016

COMMENT:  Why do you think gossip news magazines are so popular?  It's titillating even if not true.


SUMMARY:  Tech giants like Google and Facebook face mounting criticism over whether they used insufficient discretion in weeding out fake news.  A Buzzfeed analysis found that false stories generated more engagement than content from real news sites in the three months before the election.  Hari Sreenivasan speaks with Craig Silverman, founding editor of BuzzFeed Canada, for more.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  In the week or so since the election, there has been mounting criticism of whether Web giants like Facebook and Google used enough discretion and editorial responsibility in screening out fake news sites.

A new analysis by BuzzFeed found that false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated more engagement than content from real news sites during the last three months of the election.  Users shared false stories like this one about Pope Francis endorsing Donald Trump, or Hillary Clinton selling weapons to ISIS hundreds of thousands of times, even more than real stories.

President Obama weighed in today during his trip to Germany.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  If we are not serious about facts and what's true and what's not, and particularly in an age of social media, where so many people are getting their information in sound bites and snippets off their phones, if we can't discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Craig Silverman worked on the analysis done by BuzzFeed, and he joins me now.

Craig, how do we know Facebook's impact on the electorate?  How did you research this?

CRAIG SILVERMAN, Founding Editor, BuzzFeed Canada:  Well, what we did is looked for the biggest 20 hits in the last three months before the election from sites that published fake news or sites that had published something false that also went viral, and then we looked at the total number of Facebook engagements for those.

And that's a number that encompasses, the comments, reactions and the shares.  And we decided to compare those to the top 20 real election news hits from 19 major news organizations.  And what we ended up seeing, which was quite surprising, was, in those last three months of the election, compared to the six months before that, the engagement on the top 20 fake stories was actually higher than what you saw for the real news.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  And you found that some of these sites were really news sites, but still they had as much power, if not more, than, say, The New York Times or The Washington Post?

CRAIG SILVERMAN:  That was one of the really surprising things to me.

I didn't expect fake news to get more engagement than real news overall, but to see that the leading fake news site getting the most engagement had only been registered months before, and its top four fake stories got more Facebook engagement than the top four election stories from The Washington Post, I mean, that was really surprising.

TRUMP INC - Conflicts of Interest

"Many potential conflicts of interest await Trump presidency" PBS NewsHour 11/16/2016

IMHO:  There ARE conflicts of interest.


SUMMARY:  The Trump Organization's assets and arrangements span the globe.  As president, Donald Trump will have the authority to appoint people to make decisions that could affect his organization.  To discuss the potential conflicts the president-elect could face, John Yang speaks with Robert Weissman of Public Citizen and Susanne Craig of The New York Times.

JOHN YANG (NewsHour):  The Trump Organization has a variety of assets and arrangements that span the globe.  And, as President, Mr. Trump will have the authority to appoint people who will make decisions that affect those businesses.

Here to discuss the potential for conflict is Robert Weissman, president of nonprofit public interest group Public Citizen, and in New York, Susanne Craig, a New York Times reporter who has writing about this story.

Welcome to you both.

Susanne, let me start with you.

This is a very complicated story.  There are a lot of parts to president-elect Trump's business holdings.  But I think the easiest example is the Trump International Hotel here in Washington, D.C.  Walk us through the potential for conflicts with that hotel.

SUSANNE CRAIG, The New York Times:  It's really interesting.

This is a hotel that just opened, and it's been — it's been in progress for a few years, and it's on the site of the old post office, which is a government property.  And Donald Trump has a ground lease for 60 years, the Trump Organization, for 60 years, to run the hotel out of that.

So there's an arrangement between the federal government, an agency called the GSA, and the Trump Organization.  And the President has the power to appoint the head of the GSA.  So it's just this incredible situation where you have got a private company that will now be — that is owned by soon to be the President that will be negotiating with a government agency where the head of that agency is appointed by the President.

So just the potential there for conflict, you can just see it coming 100 miles away.  And the GSA is already saying they are preparing for it and they're looking at it.  Imagine that situation and multiply it by so many when you look at all the different things that could happen with the various companies that Donald Trump owns and the business interests that he has.

JOHN YANG:  And, also, Susanne, in that hotel are workers who might want to unionize.

SUSANNE CRAIG:  Who might want to unionize.

And this situation's actually been playing out in Las Vegas, where he co-owns a hotel in Las Vegas, and that hotel has — the workers there have tried to unionize, and the National Labor Relations Board, which has got presidential appointees on it, has actually — the board has ruled against Donald Trump even in the days before the election, so yet another example playing out in real time already where you have got conflict between the private — the private holdings and now government agencies that will have presidential appointees on them.

ASTRONAUT - The Book "Spaceman"

"How setbacks and failures shaped an improbable astronaut" PBS NewsHour 11/16/2016


SUMMARY:  It's completely improbable that Mike Massimino actually became an astronaut.  With a fear of heights, impaired vision and difficulty with swimming, he calls his achievement a miracle, but his is a story of overcoming setbacks.  In his new book, “Spaceman,” Massimino details his long and difficult journey.  He talks with science correspondent Miles O'Brien.

MILES O'BRIEN (NewsHour):  Mike Massimino went to low-Earth orbit twice aboard the space shuttle, both times to repair the Hubble space telescope.  In his new book, “Spaceman,” he details the long and difficult journey he took to become an astronaut.

So, you're afraid of heights.

MICHAEL MASSIMINO, Author, “Spaceman”:  Yes, I still am.  I don't like this right here, Miles.  I'm a little worried.

MILES O'BRIEN:  You don't swim very well.

MICHAEL MASSIMINO:  No.  The hardest thing for me as an astronaut was to improve my swimming skills.

MILES O'BRIEN:  Vision was a problem, a real problem.

MICHAEL MASSIMINO:  Imagine being D.Q.ed because I couldn't see well enough.

MILES O'BRIEN:  And you barely got through the program at MIT.


MILES O'BRIEN:  So, really, it's completely improbable that you became an astronaut.  Right?

MICHAEL MASSIMINO:  Yes, yes, absolutely.

MILES O'BRIEN:  We met beside the shuttle Enterprise display at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City, his hometown.

It occurs to me, though, that the lessons you learned all along the way, then, dealing — coping and dealing with those setbacks, those failures, the resilience, are exactly what you need to go through to become an astronaut.

MICHAEL MASSIMINO:  Aha.  Now we're getting at something.

I think you're right, yes.  It's not a question of being the best at something or things coming easy to you, but it's being a person that can work with others and not give up.  And, for me, that was part of it too.

At every step of the way, when I had trouble, there were people that came in, in my life that helped me.  It's important to go seek help when you need it, and to give help when other people need it.  And that is really more important than coming in with a gigantic brain into the astronaut program.

RACE MATTERS - Hate Crimes Up

"Hate crimes in the U.S. have risen.  How do we respond?" PBS NewsHour 11/15/2016


SUMMARY:  Hate crimes were up 6.8 percent last year, including a 67 percent increase toward Muslim-Americans, according to new FBI statistics.  To discuss factors that have led to a surge, Hari Sreenivasan speaks with Rizwan Jaka of All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center, Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center and Eddie Glaude of Princeton University.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Since last week's elections, there have been increasing reports of hate crimes in communities across the nation.  Yesterday, the FBI reported a rise in hate crimes in the U.S. last year.  They were up by 6.8 percent overall, more than 5,800 hate crimes, including a dramatic surge against Muslims in this country, 257 reports last year alone.  That's up 67 percent.

Since the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported there have been more than 400 incidents of harassment or intimidation.

President-elect Trump was asked by Lesley Stahl about the rise in reports on 60 Minutes.  That aired Sunday.

DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect:  I'm very surprised to hear that.  I hate to hear that.  I mean, I hate to hear that.

LESLEY STAHL (NewsHour):  But you do hear it.

DONALD TRUMP:  I don't hear it.

LESLEY STAHL:  You're not seeing this?

DONALD TRUMP:  I saw — I saw one or two instances.

LESLEY STAHL:  On social media?

DONALD TRUMP:  But I think it's a very small amount.  Again, I think it's…

LESLEY STAHL:  Do you want to say anything to those people?

DONALD TRUMP:  I would say, don't do it, that's terrible, because I'm going to bring this country together.

LESLEY STAHL:  They're harassing Latinos, Muslims.

DONALD TRUMP:  I am so saddened to hear that.  And I say, stop it.  If it — if it helps, I will say this, and I will say right to the camera: Stop it.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  We explore this with Mark Potok, an expert in extremism at the Southern Poverty Law Center, Eddie Glaude, chair of the Department for African-American Studies at Princeton University.  And Rizwan Jaka, he's chairman of the board at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center.

Mark, you have been tracking these incidents.  How have they increased, and what kind of incidents are we seeing?

MARK POTOK, Southern Poverty Law Center:  Well, we have seen a real rash mainly of attacks of on people who are thought to be Muslims, but also attacks, or something less than actual hate crimes, kind of yelling and hate incidents, directed at black people, at Latinos, at gay people.

It very much seems like kind of the lid has been ripped off Pandora's box and virtually every minority out there is a target.

#NOTMYPRESIDENT - Trump's Whitehouse Administration

"What Bannon and Priebus mean for the Trump administration" PBS NewsHour 11/15/2016


SUMMARY:  President-elect Donald Trump has announced two key White House positions: RNC chairman Reince Priebus as chief of staff and the controversial appointment of Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News, as chief strategist and senior counselor.  Joshua Green of Bloomberg Businessweek and Mark Leibovich of the New York Times Magazine join John Yang to discuss the picks.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Just this past weekend, president-elect Trump announced his picks for two key posts in the White House.  RNC Chairman Reince Priebus will serve as White House chief of staff.  And Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News, will serve as Mr.  Trump's chief strategist and senior counselor.

Our John Yang has more.

JOHN YANG (NewsHour):  For more on these two men tapped to advise the president, we're joined by Mark Leibovich, chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, and Joshua Green, senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek.

Josh, Mark, thanks for joining us.

Josh, let me start with you.

You profiled Steve Bannon more than a year ago, before a lot of people realized who he was.  That's the employment that's gaining a lot of controversy.  Just this afternoon, Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, took to the Senate floor and criticized Bannon in pretty harsh terms.

SEN.  HARRY REID, Minority Leader:  If Trump is serious about seeking unity, the first thing he should do is rescind his appointment of Steve Bannon.  Rescind it.  Don't do it.

Think about this.  Don't do it.  As long as a champion of racial division is a step away from the Oval Office, it will be impossible to take Trump's efforts to heal the nation seriously.

JOHN YANG:  Josh, who is Steve Bannon, and why is he attracting all this criticism?

JOSHUA GREEN, Bloomberg Businessweek:  Well, Bannon is an odd and interesting character.

He's a former Goldman Sachs banker who sort of became radicalized into the Tea Party movement and eventually wound up as the publisher of Breitbart News, which is the hard-right populist Web site that was an early champion of Trump's.

I think the reason he's so controversial is that Breitbart publishes a lot of things that are vaguely racist, anti-Semitic, far, far outside the bounds of what would ordinarily be considered acceptable in U.S. politics.

And so I think there's quite a bit of shock at the fact that he's been elevated to a senior position in the Trump White House.

JOHN YANG:  You talk about Breitbart News.  We have got some headlines that we can show to give people an idea of what Breitbart News is:

  • “Bill Kristol, Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.”
  • “Gabby Giffords, The Gun Control Movement's Human Shield.”
  • “The Solution to Online Harassment Is Simple: Women Should Log Off.”

How much of Breitbart is Steve Bannon, and how much of Steve Bannon is Breitbart?

JOSHUA GREEN:  Well, Bannon doesn't write often, and I don't think he writes the headlines, but he's sort of the pirate captain and the guy ultimately responsible for what's published there.

And if you know Bannon and if you read Breitbart News, essentially, what they do is they set out to shock and scandalize and upset people by targeting both political establishments.  In Internet language, they're essentially a trolling operation.

And ordinarily these people exist on the fringes of journalism and on the fringes of politics.  And what's so unusual here is that Bannon has now been brought into the West Wing of the White House.