Nation & World News Nation & World News from WUFT, NPR and PBS Sat, 22 Nov 2014 02:11:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Buffalo Blizzard Brings Odd NFL Game: Free, And Far From Home Sat, 22 Nov 2014 01:30:00 +0000 Many things will make Monday night’s NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets an odd duck. Among them: It’s being played in Michigan, and tickets to the game are being given away at no charge.

“Free tickets will be available for Monday’s matchup between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ford Field,” the Detroit Lions announced today, adding that emails are being sent out to Bills and Lions season-ticket holders that will let them snag seats.

“The general public will have an opportunity to secure free tickets to Monday’s game via Flash Seats at beginning at 10 AM, Saturday, November 22,” the Lions website says.

All tickets will be general admission, meaning that seats that sometimes cost hundreds or thousands of dollars during a regular NFL game will be occupied for no charge Monday.

The move comes despite the Bills’ hopes that they could clear some 220,000 tons of snow from their home, Ralph Wilson Stadium. The team had offered to pay $10 an hour to anyone who would shovel snow at the venue.

The NFL announced Thursday that it’s moving the Bills-Jets game to the other end of Lake Erie, leaving many Bills fans with the prospect of a 270-mile drive to Detroit’s stadium for what was scheduled as a home game. If you’re wondering about the Jets’ home, MetLife Stadium, it isn’t available because they share it with the Giants, who’ll be playing there Sunday night.

With Buffalo still digging out from snowdrifts that measured more than 7 feet in places, the Bills scrambled to get their players together to fly to Detroit Friday. For some, the commute to the airport involved riding on snowmobiles. The team also plowed the streets in a neighborhood where several players live.

The Bills-Jets game won’t kick off until Monday night, at 7 p.m. local time. But if you’re thinking the weather could bring a double-feature edition of Monday Night Football, think again: The game will be televised only in the Buffalo and New York markets (and via DirecTV).

For anyone wondering about the teams’ records so far this season, the local fans will almost certainly prefer to watch their 7-3 Lions take on the 8-2 Patriots, rather than see the 5-5 Bills go up against the 2-8 Jets.

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House Panel Finds ‘No Intelligence Failure’ Before Benghazi Attack Fri, 21 Nov 2014 23:52:00 +0000 The final report by the House Intelligence Committee concludes the CIA "ensured sufficient security for CIA facilities in Benghazi and ... bravely assisted the State Department" on Sept. 11, 2012.]]>

After a nearly two-year investigation, the final report by the House Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA “ensured sufficient security for CIA facilities in Benghazi and … bravely assisted the State Department” on Sept. 11, 2012, during a deadly attack on U.S. facilities in Libya.

That’s the first conclusion of the report, the result of thousands of hours of investigation into the events that led to the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Many of the following conclusions echo a central theme, that “there was no intelligence failure prior to the attacks,” as the report states.

But the committee also found that the U.S. diplomats’ Temporary Mission Facility “was not well-protected,” the AP reports, “and that State Department security agents knew they could not defend it from a well-armed attack.”

In addition, the panel said the Obama administration’s “initial public narrative” about the reasons behind the attacks “were not fully accurate.”

Citing “a stream of contradictory and conflicting intelligence that came in after the attacks,” the report states that while some early information had backed the CIA’s initial belief that the violence stemmed from a protest in Benghazi, “contrary intelligence” showed that that was not the case.

“There was no protest,” the report reads. “The CIA only changed its initial assessment about a protest on September 24, 2012, when closed caption television footage became available on September 18, 2012 (two days after Ambassador Susan Rice spoke), and after the FBI began publishing its interviews with U.S. officials on the ground on September 22, 2012.”

The report also cites a “flawed” process that was used to create talking points that the House panel had asked for so that its members could discuss the attacks publicly. It notes that the same talking points were used in Rice’s public statements.

In their summary of the 36-page report (which also has six appendixes), the report’s authors — House committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Republican, and ranking Democratic member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger — say that their panel “found no evidence that any officer was intimidated, wrongly forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement or otherwise kept from speaking to Congress, or polygraphed because of their presence in Benghazi.”

And in a statement that seems to take aim at a theory popularized by some media outlets, the report states, “The CIA was not collecting and shipping arms from Libya to Syria.”

Earlier this year, a Senate Intelligence Committee report said that the attacks “were likely preventable.”

But as the Two-Way reported back in January, that report also “takes issue with lawmakers who have been using the Obama administration’s initial statements about the attacks to make the case that the White House tried to downplay whether they were the work of terrorists.”

Noting that the report “was released with little fanfare on the Friday before Thanksgiving week,” the AP says, “Many of its findings echo those of six previous investigations by various congressional committees and a State Department panel.”

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Poo Power: New British Bus Runs On Human Waste Fri, 21 Nov 2014 21:46:00 +0000 Touting the use of renewable energy, the Bath Bus Company says the Bio-Bus runs cleaner than a bus powered by a traditional diesel engine.]]>

A bus in Britain is making headlines for running on gas – and we’re not talking about petroleum or natural gas. The Bio-Bus runs on biomethane gas that’s produced by human sewage and food waste.

The Bio-Bus has 40 seats and a range of around 186 miles on a full tank. When it officially goes into service next week, it’ll run as a shuttle between the city of Bath and the Bristol airport, along with other routes.

It’s not hard to imagine the Bath Bus Company’s newest power source prompting jokes. But the firm is touting the renewable benefits of the project, wrapping the Bio-Bus in a graphic cartoon that shows a row of people sitting on toilets.

The company says that by using the alternative energy source, its new bus will also put out less carbon emissions than those powered by traditional diesel engines.

The biomethane is being produced at a sewage treatment plant; the BBC says it “takes the annual waste of about five people to produce” a full tank.

While the “poo bus” is a first in Britain, the biomethane idea took hold in Norway several years ago. It’s also been used in Germany and Sweden.

The U.S. Energy Department prefers to call biomethane “renewable natural gas.” The agency says that while use of the resource is on a smaller scale here than in Europe, several projects are under way, in California and Indiana.

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A Closer Look At Obama’s Immigration Plan: What’s In It, Who’s Affected Fri, 21 Nov 2014 21:05:00 +0000 The actions announced Thursday are complicated and will lead to many changes in immigration policy. Here we try to explain it plainly.]]>

The executive actions that President Obama announced Thursday are wide-reaching and complicated. Even the top-line numbers — such as how many people will be affected — are tough to pin down, because they are based on estimates of a population that Obama himself has said is living the shadows.

NPR’s Scott Horsley has outlined many of the details. We’ve been sifting through memos and fact sheets to drill a bit deeper. Here’s what we’ve come up with:

– How Many People Are Affected?

The White House estimates that up to 5 million immigrants could be affected by these actions, 4 million of whom are here illegally.

The vast majority are likely to be parents with children who are U.S. citizens or hold a green card, according to the White House. They will be shielded temporarily from deportation. Another big group falls under the expansion of a 2012 executive action called DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which defers deportation for people brought into the country illegally as children.

The Pew Research Center projects that 3.7 million people here illegally may be affected and the Migration Policy Institute puts the number at 4 million.

– Why Do I Keep Hearing Different Numbers?

These are projections, and small tweaks can yield different numbers. Pew, for example, only counts parents who are living with their children, while the White House may use a different method.

And to add another wrinkle, the Migration Policy Institute says media coverage of the executive actions could spur many young people — who were already eligible — to apply for deferred action and a work permit under DACA. Remember, it is estimated that about 60 percent of those young immigrants actually applied for deferred action.

So if you include those who have not yet applied, the MPI says Obama’s executive action could affect as many as 5.2 million people.

– Who’s Receiving Relief And What Do They Get?

Two broad categories are the most important:

If they have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, the parents of children who are either U.S. citizens or hold a green card are entitled to deferred action and a three-year work permit. The parents can also apply for a Social Security card, but are not entitled to Social Security benefits.

The executive actions also expanded protection to include any children who were brought to this country illegally before Jan. 1, 2010. (With DACA, the president deferred the deportation of those who were born after 1981 and entered the country before June 15, 2007.)

Applicants in these two groups will have to pay any administrative fees and submit to a background check.

There is a third category of people who will be affected. Broadly, the executive actions will make it easier for professionals or “talented entrepreneurs” to remain in the country. We have not seen a reliable estimate for how many people are included in this category.

– Do They Get Legal Status?

No. The executive actions do not provide a path to a green card or U.S. citizenship. As President Obama said in his address, only Congress can do that.

– Can Immigrants Travel Out Of The Country?

The administration is clarifying the way it deals with what it calls “advance paroles.” Essentially, the Department of Homeland Security is saying that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — at its discretion, and case by case — can grant those immigrants permission to travel out of the country and then come back in.

– What About Enforcement?

Another part of Obama’s executive actions sends more resources to the border and prioritizes the deportation of criminals and recent arrivals.

There are slightly more than 11 million undocumented immigrants estimated to be living in this country. While the remaining 6 million won’t receive a work permit, the government says it will not actively try to deport them if they have not been convicted of a crime.

What’s more, Obama ended Secure Communities, a program which linked local and federal authorities in order to identify and detain undocumented immigrants who came in contact with police, even just as a result of a traffic stop.

In its place is something dubbed Priority Enforcement Program. Local and federal authorities will still share information, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement will only ask local authorities to hold immigrants who have been convicted of a serious crime.

– When Does All This Start?

The best answer we have is from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which says, “Some initiatives will be implemented over the next several months, and some will take longer.”

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Book News: Daniel Handler Apologizes For Jokes At National Book Awards Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:17:00 +0000 Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket, hosted Wednesday's ceremony — and made a few racially charged jokes while doing so. He apologized after a backlash Thursday. Also: A Beach Boy plans a memoir.]]>

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

If this year’s National Book Awards saw a fiery speech from Ursula K. Le Guin, the evening also featured incendiary comments of quite another kind. Ceremony host Daniel Handler — whom most readers might know better by his pen name, Lemony Snicket — made several racially charged jokes that drew a strong reaction Thursday.

In the wake of Jacqueline Woodson‘s win for her memoir in verse, Brown Girl Dreaming, Handler brought up the topic of watermelon — which, to put it lightly, was a poor idea. His joke is reproduced here in full (and you can watch the video here):

“I told you! I told Jackie she was going to win. And I said that if she won, I would tell all of you something I learned this summer, which is that Jackie Woodson is allergic to watermelon. Just let that sink in your mind.

“And I said, ‘You have to put that in a book.’ And she said, ‘You put that in a book.’ And I said that I am only writing a book about a black girl who is allergic to watermelon if I get a blurb from you, Cornell West, Toni Morrison and Barack Obama saying, ‘This guy’s OK. This guy’s fine.’ ”

The joke wasn’t his first of the night to bear racial overtones. He also quipped that two black nominees together in the poetry category may be considered “probable cause.”

The reaction was swift. Writers such as Roxane Gay, Kwame Alexander and Laila Lalami (as well as plenty of publications) were quick to condemn the remarks on Thursday. For his part, Handler’s apology came nearly as quickly, and it arrived via Twitter.

It’s Not Ludwig Van: Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange, composed a song in dedication to a woman named Barbara in 1951. After more than half a century lost, that song has been found, according to The Guardian. Discovered amid the late woman’s possessions by her 100-year-old husband, the song will be performed by the International Anthony Burgess Foundation on Nov. 26.

It’s A [Book]! Children’s publishing imprint Ladybird has announced its plans to drop the gendered labels from its books, according to an announcement from the Let Books Be Books campaign. The campaign, a spin-off of the Let Toys Be Toys group, has for months pressured children’s publishers to stop marking books “for boys” or “for girls,” arguing that they confine children to presuppositions about gender.

“At Ladybird we certainly don’t want to be seen to be limiting children in any way,” reads Ladybird’s announcement. “Out of literally hundreds of titles currently in print, we actually only have the six titles you cite with this kind of titling, so I do feel we offer a vast range for children and their parents. As Ladybird is part of the Penguin Random House Children’s division, our commitment to avoiding gendered titles in the trade crosses all our imprints.”

Fun, Fun, Fun: One of the founders of the Beach Boys plans to publish his memoir in 2016. Mike Love’s book is tentatively titled Good Vibrations, naturally, but it may not be the first Beach Boy autobiography to hit bookstores in the coming years. Fellow founder — and frequent rival — Brian Wilson expects to release one of his own in 2015.

CIA Reviews Edward Snowden Books: Seriously, though — this is not satire. Hayden Peake puts together the “Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf” for the agency, and lately he has picked up three books on the Snowden intelligence leaks, including Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide. While Peake did offer a few words of praise, his conclusion isn’t exactly a surprise.

“Greenwald’s often bitter ad hominem rationale for [Snowden's actions] is unlikely to be the last word on the subject.”

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Republicans File Suit Against Obama Administration Over Health Law Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:54:00 +0000 House Republicans on Friday followed through on a threat to sue President Obama over actions he has taken concerning the Affordable Care Act.

The lawsuit was filed in a federal court against the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Treasury.

“Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and rewrite federal law on his own without a vote of Congress,” House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, said in announcing the lawsuit. “That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action.”

If you remember, the House voted last July to authorize a lawsuit. At the time, House Republicans complained that Obama had overstepped his authority when he on two occasions unilaterally delayed the employer mandate for insurance coverage under Obamacare.

The lawsuit challenges those extensions as well as the subsidies the government pays insurance companies on behalf of people who meet certain income requirements.

The New York Times reports:

“Democrats have cast a legal challenge as strange. Republicans, they say, are attacking Mr. Obama for delaying enforcement of a law that they vehemently oppose. The health care law was passed in 2010 without any Republican votes, and House Republicans have voted dozens of times to repeal all or part of it. …

“House Republicans struggled to find a law firm willing to take their case. Two withdrew, but on Tuesday, Mr. Boehner hired Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University.”

The move also comes just a day after President Obama announced a series of executive actions that would protect millions of immigrants from deportation.

Obama argued that the action was well within his authority, while Republicans have argued it’s yet another example of Obama ruling by fiat.

In a press conference before the suit was filed, Boehner complained bitterly that Obama was undermining the rule of law and “damaging the presidency” by leap-frogging congress with his executive action.

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London Mayor Boris Johnson Owes IRS Money, Won’t Pay Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:42:00 +0000 Johnson holds dual U.S.-U.K. citizenship, but hasn't lived in the U.S. since he was 5. He told WAMU's Diane Rehm Show that he had been billed for capital gains on the sale of his first home.]]>

London Mayor Boris Johnson owes the IRS money — and he’s not going to pay it.

Johnson, who was born in the U.S. and lived here until he was 5 years old, holds dual U.S.-U.K. citizenship.

At issue, he told NPR member station WAMU’s Diane Rehm Show in an interview, was capital gains on the sale of his first residence, a sum that is not taxable in Britain.

“They’re trying to hit me with some bill, can you believe it?” he said on the show, referring to the Internal Revenue Service.

When asked by guest host Susan Page if he was going to pay the bill, Johnson replied: “I think it’s outrageous.”

Page pressed him.

“Well, saying it’s outrageous doesn’t respond to whether you’re going to pay the bill or not,” she said. “Outrageous or not, will you pay this tax bill?”

Johnson’s response: “I’m — no, is the answer. I think, it’s absolutely outrageous. Why should I? I think, you know, I’m not a — I, you know, I haven’t lived in the United States for, you know, well, since I was 5 years old.”

Page then proceeded to ask Johnson why he continued to carry a U.S. passport. The London mayor replied that “it’s very difficult to give up.”

Johnson is widely considered a contender to succeed British Prime Minister David Cameron as head of the ruling Conservatives should the party lose power at the next elections. That means that, at least in theory, he could become prime minister, a point at which he might have to renounce his U.S. citizenship.

Johnson described the chances of his becoming prime minister as “vanishingly small,” and said the issue of renunciation was “a luxury problem to deal with.”

The Guardian notes that Johnson, in his capacity as mayor of London, has criticized the U.S. Embassy for not paying the city’s congestion charge. The U.K. government says U.S. Embassy owes the city about $12 million, but the Embassy says the charge is a tax from which its diplomats are immune. The newspaper adds:

“Johnson would also be liable to pay US income tax as he earns well above the foreign-earned income exclusion — the level up to which no tax is paid on income earned by US citizens overseas — which was set at $97,600 (£62,000) last year. As mayor, he earns a salary of £144,000 and on top of that he is paid £250,000 a year for his column in the Telegraph. Johnson did not disclose whether he paid US taxes on his income during the interview. The mayor’s spokesman said he would not be commenting further on his US tax affairs.”

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Holder Calls For Calm As Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Looms Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:02:00 +0000 In a newly released video, Attorney General Eric Holder has messages for law enforcement agents as well as for those protesting the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.]]>

Attorney General Eric Holder is urging law enforcement officers and protesters to keep the peace as a grand jury decision nears about whether to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for shooting dead a black 18-year-old who was unarmed in Ferguson, Mo.

For months, federal officials in Washington, D.C., have been on the ground in Missouri, offering training and tips to ease community tensions and try to prevent violence. That work has picked up steam in recent days as elected officials and protest groups in Ferguson steel for an announcement about the grand jury that’s been hearing evidence since August.

In a video released today, Holder says, “The Justice Department encourages law enforcement officials in every jurisdiction to work with the communities that they serve to minimize needless confrontation.”

Images of armored vehicles, police clad in riot gear, and weapons pointed at unarmed demonstrators protesting the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown startled the nation and provoked an ongoing conversation about “militarization” of local law enforcement. The American Civil Liberties Union responded by repeatedly suing local authorities in Missouri for allegedly violating the First Amendment rights of peaceful protesters.

Holder says in the video that “durable relationships between police and their communities do not develop overnight.” And he praises the vast majority of law enforcement agents for behaving well amid the intense national glare.

But the attorney general says he has a message for protesters, too.

“History has … shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to nonaggression and nonviolence. And so I ask all those who seek to lend their voice to important causes and discussions, and who seek to elevate these vital conversations, to do so in a way that respects the gravity of their subject matter,” Holder says.

Holder, who’s preparing to leave the Justice Department after the Senate confirms his successor, says he will continue to work on issues of community policing and implicit bias even after he retires from government service.

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Boehner: ‘We Will Not Stand Idly By As President Undermines The Rule Of Law’ Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:26:00 +0000 House Speaker John Boehner said President Obama acted like a king when he deferred the deportation of up to 5 million immigrants.]]>

“We will not stand idly by as the president undermines the rule of law and places lives at risk.”

That’s what House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, had to say this morning about President Obama’s unilateral action on immigration.

In a news conference at the Capitol, Boehner used harsh language to describe the executive actions intended to defer the deportation of, according to the White House, up to 5 million immigrants.

With his actions, Boehner said, Obama “deliberately sabotaged” any chance of comprehensive immigration legislation, and by acting “like a king” he is also “damaging the presidency.”

“We have a broken immigration system, and the American people expect us to work together to fix it, and we ought to do that through the democratic process,” Boehner said.

As we’ve reported, this has been a long-running tug-of-war in Washington. For nearly six years, Obama and congressional Republicans have tried to hammer out an immigration overhaul.

The president warned that if Congress didn’t act, he would take on the issue using executive actions. And congressional Republicans warned him that action could lead to serious repercussions.

On Thursday, Obama threw down the gantlet, announcing a series of steps providing broad deportation relief for those who came into the United States illegally as children and the undocumented parents of children in the United States legally.

Boehner said he was talking with his caucus to come up with an appropriate response. (There have been whispers of everything from a shutdown to defunding some of the president’s initiatives.)

Boehner would not get into specifics, but he left something very clear: “The House will in fact act.”

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Still Reeling From Supreme Court Ruling, Aereo Files For Bankruptcy Fri, 21 Nov 2014 12:37:00 +0000 The streaming company's founder said fallout from the court's decision in favor of TV networks proved "too difficult to overcome."]]>

Months after a Supreme Court decision shattered its business model, the streaming service Aereo has filed for bankruptcy.

“The U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively changed the laws that had governed Aereo’s technology, creating regulatory and legal uncertainty,” the company’s founder and CEO Chet Kanojia said in a statement. “And while our team has focused its energies on exploring every path forward available to us, without that clarity, the challenges have proven too difficult to overcome.”

Aereo, as we’ve explained, used to let subscribers watch video from over-the-air TV stations on the Internet.

This past summer, the Supreme Court heard a case against the company brought by Fox and CBS, which argued that Aereo’s service violated their copyright.

The Supreme Court sided with the TV networks, which said Aereo posed an existential threat and that if they lost, they would have considered ending their over-the-air broadcasts.

“We have traveled a long and challenging road,” Kanojia said. “We stayed true to our mission and we believe that we have played a significant part in pushing the conversation forward, helping force positive change in the industry for consumers.”

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