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Two Australians and a woman from the Philippines convicted nearly a decade ago of drug smuggling in Indonesia have been informed by authorities that their execution by firing squad is imminent.

"Indonesian authorities today [Saturday] advised Australian consular officials that the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will be scheduled imminently at Nusa Kambangan prison in central Java," Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement.

It is unclear whether an exact date has been set for Chan and Sukumaran — convicted of being ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" heroin-smuggling ring —- as well as Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina maid who acted as a "mule." However, Indonesian law requires that inmates be given 72 hours notice of execution, which could mean they will be put to death as early as Tuesday.

As we reported on Friday, the two Australians are the sole Australian Bali Nine detainees who are facing a firing squad. Other Australians connected to the ring have received lengthy or life prison sentences. Two Nigerians, a Brazilian, a Frenchman and a Ghanaian iand one Indonesian in addition to Veloso are also on death row.

The group is being held on the island of Nusakambangan, known as "death island" because of its high percentage of inmates awaiting execution.

Foreign Minister Bishop said she would continue to pressure Jakarta to grant clemency to the Australians, but Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who took office last year, has followed his predecessors in maintaining a zero-tolerance policy for drug smuggling.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

"A French man on death row with Chan and Sukumaran won a temporary reprieve from the firing squad but any hope for the nine others has disappeared.

"Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told Fairfax Media the French Embassy was not among those summoned to discuss the imminent executions because Serge Atlaoui still had a legal case before the Administrative Court."

Bali Nine




That question really drives the novel. When I was researching, I found just a little mention in an article about how in an X-ray of "Olympia," you can see that the face of the model has been scraped and reworked. And the person writing the article thought that it was reasonable to think that there had been a model before Victorine Meurent. When I read that, I saw all kinds of possibilities as a novelist. And what it really made me understand ... about the painting is something really unique happened when Manet met Victorine. She, I believe, is the reason he was able to complete "Olympia."

So I see her as being a very active muse. And whatever energy went back and forth between them in his studio must have been terrifically powerful. It really changed the way he painted. And as a result, art changed. And I find that very moving. I never liked the idea of the passive muse. And I think that she was, while not standing behind the canvas placing paint, she was nevertheless really active in what happened in those paintings.

Listen to the interview to hear Maureen Gibbon read an excerpt from her novel.


historical fiction




Visual Arts

It's been many years since I did my three semesters of college a cappella, but it remains a genre of performance for which I have enormous affection. In 2012, the arrival of Pitch Perfect meant that suddenly, I knew a lot more people who even knew what a college a cappella was. Throw in The Sing-Off on NBC, throw in Pentatonix, throw in the upcoming reality show on the Pop Network (which is called Sing It On, if you want to know what tone they're taking), and you've got a lot more attention on this extracurricular than there's been in the past.

Not all a cappella involves competition by any means (mine didn't), but last weekend, I was in New York for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. I got to see some of the best groups in the country perform, plus a couple of very talented high school groups to make those in the audience feel particularly intimidated.


The SoCal VoCals were the winners of the 2015 National Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. Joe Martinez Photography hide caption

itoggle caption Joe Martinez Photography

The SoCal VoCals were the winners of the 2015 National Championship of Collegiate A Cappella.

Joe Martinez Photography

Four of the eight competing groups spent time chatting with me (including the Northeastern University Nor'easters, who don't appear in the story but who are the one of these teams followed on Sing It On, so you'll have plenty of chances to get to know them), and I met some of the fans who come from far away to see the show. (I talked to two families who literally came to the ICCAs after just Googling a cappella competitions because they liked some combination of The Sing-Off, Pitch Perfect and Glee.)

In the story, you'll get to hear them sing, you'll hear some great reflections on the friends you make when you work really hard on a common goal, and you may be surprised how much work goes into creating an arrangement for a group to sing in the first place.

A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said.

Dozens of people with injuries were being brought to the main hospital in central Kathmandu. There was no immediate estimate on fatalities.

Several buildings collapsed in the center of the capital, including centuries-old temples, said resident Prachanda Sual.

He said he saw people running through the streets in panic. Ambulance sirens blared and government helicopters hovered overhead.

National radio warned people to stay outdoors because more aftershocks are feared. It is also asking people to maintain calm.

Old Kathmandu city is a warren of tightly packed, narrow lanes with poorly constructed homes piled on top of each other.

Nepal's Information Minister Minendra Rijal told India's NDTV station that there are reports of damage in and around Kathmandu but no immediate word on casualties.

He said rescue teams were on the scene.

The epicenter was 80 kilometers (49 mile) northwest of Kathmandu, he said. The Kathmandu Valley is densely populated with nearly 2.5 million, with the quality of buildings often poor.

An Associated Press reporter in Kathmandu said a wall in his compound collapsed and there was damage to nearby buildings.

The U.S. Geological Survey revised the magnitude from 7.5 to 7.9 and said the quake hit at 11:56 a.m. local time (0611 GMT) at Lamjung a shallow depth of 11 kilometers (7 miles).

Mohammad Shahab, a resident from Lahore, Pakistan, said he was sitting in his office when the earthquake rocked the city near the border with India.

He said the tremors continued for a while but now the situation was normal.

The sustained quake also was felt in India's capital of New Delhi. AP reporters in Indian cities of Lucknow in the north and Patna in the east also reported strong tremors.

Nepal suffered its worst recorded earthquake in 1934, which measured 8.0 and all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.


In 1956, the film Giant (based on the 1952 novel by Edna Ferber) took a piercing look at the Texas myth. It traced the rise of power from cattle ranchers to oil barons and examined the tensions between whites and Latinos. The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won a best director Oscar for George Stevens.

Now a new documentary airing on PBS tells the story of some of the people represented in the film — not the handyman played by James Dean or Rock Hudson's ranching patriarch, but the Mexican families who were played by extras. The film is called Children of Giant and it was directed by Hector Galn. He says, "[At] the time that George Stevens was filming in Marfa, [Texas,] most Mexican-American communities throughout the Southwest were segregated, and he captured it so perfectly."

According to Stevens' son, George Stevens Jr., the director had a level of creative control that was unprecedented at Warner Bros. in the mid-1950s. He says, "When you think of Giant — which was probably the most expensive film made that year, certainly the most ambitious — it was just so unusual for, at the very center of it, [there] to be this question of identity."

The Burial Of 'Mr. Spanish'


Giant was based on the 1952 novel by Edna Ferber. Above, (left to right) George Stevens Jr., Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and director George Stephens appear on location in Texas. Sunset Boulevard/Corbis hide caption

itoggle caption Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

Giant was based on the 1952 novel by Edna Ferber. Above, (left to right) George Stevens Jr., Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and director George Stephens appear on location in Texas.

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

In the documentary, Hector Galn contrasts the progressive Hollywood vision of an interracial world with the nuanced realities of a border town. "What was happening throughout the Southwest with us — Mexican-Americans, I mean — we were enduring the same type of injustice that African-Americans were, say, in the South," Galn says. "The African-American presence in the Southwest was very, very small, so we're the ones that got it."

Richard Williams also knew that world growing up in Marfa. "I remember people saying, 'Don't go in there. ... Stay away from that store,' or something," he says. "You know, as a child, I didn't know, I didn't care what was going on, but we were instructed to stay out of certain stores or restaurants."

Williams attended Marfa's Blackwell School, a segregated school for children of Mexican descent that was housed in a tiny, drafty adobe building. He remembers how, in fifth grade, the teachers tried to get students to speak only English by marching them outside for a symbolic burial of "Mr. Spanish."

"And during the burying of Mr. Spanish, there was a little mock ceremony of a funeral," he says. "And everybody gathered around the flagpole that was in the middle of the campus. The students were instructed to write a Spanish word on a piece of paper. There was a cardboard box in which we were supposed to drop it in there. And that was a symbolic burying of the language, you know. And I know some of the parents were outraged."

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But Children of Giant producer Karen Bernstein cautions against using a contemporary lens to judge the intentions of Jesse Blackwell, the school's namesake and longtime principal. "In some ways I think what Jesse Blackwell was doing was ... he was trying to provide some uplift," she says. "At least basics about math, you know, all the sort of basic literacy things that you need to live in an English-speaking society."

Today the Blackwell School is a museum, but director Hector Galn says it took a while for old attitudes to change. "Even when Giant left Marfa ... I think it was another 10 years before they shut [the school] down."

The Future Of Texas

At a recent screening of Children of Giant, Anglo ranchers, longtime Hispanic residents and hipster newcomers sat side by side in Marfa's movie theater. But Lucila Valenzuela remembers it wasn't always this way, especially when it came to the rules of West Texas theater owners.

"We would have to go up on the balcony and I used to play this little game. ... I'd come down and go sit in the very front row and [the theater manager would] come and tap me on the shoulder. ... I would spend the whole movie playing cat and mouse with [him]," she says. "And it was just a fact that — why do I have to sit up there? Yeah, we could see the movie much better. But why is it mandatory that I sit up there? No. It was because I was Hispanic."

Back in 1955, when Giant was filmed in Marfa, director George Stevens foreshadowed that Texas would become a majority minority state, which it did in 2011. In the film's crowning scene, Rock Hudson's character — the head of a wealthy ranching family whose son has married a Mexican-American woman —looks at his two grandchildren in a crib: one with light skin, the other with dark skin.

"My own grandson don't even look like one of us, honey," he says to his wife. "So help me he looks like a little wetback"

Hector Galn says that is what Stevens and novelist Edna Ferber saw in their story: The future of Texas.

A tiny independent movie has been picked by one of Hollywood's biggest moguls to promote his latest venture. Robert L. Johnson created BET and now, the Urban Movie Channel — an online channel that's being called the black Netflix.

The first original film it has acquired is a gay interracial romance set in the Deep South. In Blackbird, the main character Randy is in high school. Everyone thinks he's gay, and they're totally fine with it.

Randy, 18, is fervently religious. Even though his best friend is gay, Randy's in denial about his own sexuality.

Director Patrik-Ian Polk says Blackbird is a movie he has wanted to make ever since he left Mississippi for college and found himself in the gay and lesbian section of a Boston bookstore.

"And there was one book on the shelf I could tell had an illustration of a black person on the cover," he recalls. "I could see illustrated brown skin on the spine."

The book was Blackbird by Larry Duplechan.

"It had changed my life," Polk says. "I'd never read anything that was told from a gay black perspective."

That perspective informs everything Polk's made for the past 20 years, including his groundbreaking cable series Noah's Arc. When Polk finally adapted Blackbird, he sent the script to actor Isaiah Washington

Washington recalls: "I said, 'So, sorry I said have to be part of this — this is an amazing story. Coming from me, I know it's going to raise eyebrows.' "

That's because seven years ago, Washington was accused of using an anti-gay slur in an argument on the set of the show Grey's Anatomy. In Blackbird, he plays Randy's loving father.

All the drama around what Washington might have said on the Grey's Anatomy set did not concern Polk.

"Two actors having a spat on set — which happens all the time — and unfortunately in this media age that we live in now, that gets blown up," he says. "And suddenly he's labeled, you know, homophobe, and that's all people remember."

Polk says the label sticks with Washington even though other actors like Alex Baldwin, Jonah Hill have used gay slurs, apologized and moved on.

Since the Grey's Anatomy incident, Washington has worked in a lot of small independent films. He starred in the critically acclaimed but little-seen Blue Caprice, where he played the Washington, D.C., sniper John Muhammad.

Washington's recent films reflect his range and fearlessness, says Marcella De Veaux. She's a media relations expert who follows entertainment issues. But she was still surprised to see Isaiah Washington in a movie with a lot of gay teenage sex — some of it during church.

"If I were guiding him, I would have suggest something maybe not so controversial, maybe not so provocative," she says. "I might have said, 'Play it safe.' "

Blackbird is also opening in a small number of theaters across the country this weekend. De Veaux is impressed that it's the Urban Movie Channel's first original acquisition

"It's terrific, I mean, it's Bob Johnson," she says. "He takes chances. Why tiptoe out of the gate?"

As it happens, this is also the first movie out of the gate for actress and comedian Mo'Nique since she won an Oscar four years ago for her role in the movie Precious. Mo'Nique says she got branded as difficult, partly because she turned down every single script she was sent.

"Not only did it not touch me, it just didn't make financial sense," she says. "You know, some of the offers that I was getting, I was offered less money after I won the Oscar than before I won the Oscar."

With Blackbird, Mo'Nique is executive producing. So is Washington. That gives them a kind of power over their narratives — both on screen and off.

urban movie channel


ian polk

European leaders attended a ceremony marking the centenary of the massacre of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I, as German lawmakers risked triggering a diplomatic row with Turkey by voting to acknowledge the historical event as "genocide" –- a charge Ankara has strongly denied.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande were among those gathered today in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial to mark the day generally regarded as the start of the massacre, carried out by Ottoman officials who feared that Armenian Christians would side with their enemy, Russia, during World War I.

"We will never forget the tragedy that your people went through," Hollande said.

(For a history of the issue, NPR's Krishnadev Calamur has a primer here.)

The vote by the German parliament "marks a significant change of stance for Germany, Turkey's biggest trade partner in the European Union and home to a large ethnic Turkish diaspora. Unlike France and some two dozen other countries, Berlin has long resisted using the word," according to Reuters.

The Associated Press notes that France "is home to a sizeable Armenian community. Among the French Armenians at Yerevan was 90-year old singer Charles Aznavour who was born in Paris to a family of massacre survivors."

Most historians regard the events a century ago as genocide, but Turkey has vociferously rejected that label, arguing that the death toll has been exaggerated and that most of the victims died during unrest and civil war.

On the eve of the anniversary, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan again denied that the event constituted genocide. Earlier this month, Ankara froze relations with the Vatican after Pope Francis publicly referred to the Armenian "genocide."

armenian genocide

The House Select Committee on Benghazi announced plans to call Hillary Clinton to testify next month, right around the time her campaign was reportedly going to shift into high gear with a mid-May campaign kickoff speech.

At the same time, a new book about the Clinton foundation is generating the kind of headlines and news coverage no presidential candidate wants to see.

"Bill Clinton Cashed in When Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State," was how ABC News put it, referring to the former president's speaking fees shooting up after his wife joined the Obama administration.

"Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company," was from The New York Times.

The story also dominated cable news.

"She's now saying that they won't take foreign donations if she becomes president," said Jo Becker, the co-author of The New York Times piece, on NPR's All Things Considered Thursday. "But what the story really underscores are the special challenges when you have a foundation that's raising money from foreign interests, that couldn't contribute to an American political campaign, by the way, but can contribute to these kinds of foundations."

The Clinton campaign declined to comment, but a campaign spokesman published a five-point rebuttal to the Times article, which was based, in part, on the forthcoming book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, which is due out May 5. The spokesman, Brian Fallon, charges that the facts in the Times' own reporting undermine the innuendo in the piece.

"Ironically, buried within the story is original reporting that debunks the allegation that then-Secretary Clinton played any role in the review of the sale," Fallon writes, adding, "The facts drawn from the Times' own reporting undermine the innuendo in the Times story about Hillary Clinton's role in this matter."

Earlier this week, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta offered a own pre-buttal to the book in an interview with Al Hunt on PBS's Charlie Rose show.

"It's a book that's written by a former Bush operative, who's a reporter for that august news institution Breitbart.com — or has been in the past," Podesta said of the book's author, Peter Schweizer, who worked for former President George W. Bush and was a foreign policy adviser to Sarah Palin in 2011.

That is classic political rapid response — question the source, blame the opposition.

Schweizer also wrote the book on Congress and insider trading that helped lead to the STOCK Act of 2012, "Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison."

Schweizer also tells Bloomberg's Josh Green he is coming out with a similar book on Jeb Bush's finances to be published this summer.

Podesta, though, not only questions the author's motives, but, more importantly, his conclusions.

"He's cherry picked information that's been disclosed and woven a bunch of conspiracy theories about it," Podesta said on PBS. "The facts, there's nothing new about. The conspiracy theories, I guess we'll get to judge when we read the book."

For Clinton, this is hardly a new experience. She and her husband have been at the middle of so many political firestorms over the years it's almost hard to keep track. On the Today Show in 1998, Clinton famously dismissed the attacks and accusations.

"The great story here for anybody willing to find it, and write about it and explain it is this vast right wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day that he announced for president," she said.

As for the Benghazi committee, Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina Republican who heads it, seems to be trying hard to avoid having his effort portrayed as a partisan witch hunt. He insisted Wednesday that he wasn't slow-walking the investigation to overlap with the presidential campaign season.

"I want it done before 2016," he said on Fox, adding, "We're trying to accelerate it, but I've got to have the documents."

In a letter to Clinton's lawyer, Gowdy said he wants the former secretary of state to testify the week of May 18th, which happens to be right around the time when Clinton's campaign has said she is going to make that bigger "kickoff" speech for her campaign.

That Benghazi committee hearing will deal mostly with her use of a private e-mail server for public business. Gowdy released 136 likely questions; eight of them are about Benghazi.

Once Gowdy is satisfied he has all the documents, he plans to call a second hearing where the committee can ask Clinton about the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

That means while Clinton tries to campaign for one job on Pennsylvania Avenue, she is going to be facing questions from the other side for quite some time.

2016 Presidential Race



Hillary Clinton

The list of official and likely candidates for president in 2016 includes some prominent Republicans who are currently governors. Three of them — Scott Walker, Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal — all tout executive experience as qualification for the White House. They also share something else — slumping poll numbers back home.

They've been working to make themselves familiar and friendly faces to the party faithful in early voting states, including at a big event hosted last week by the New Hampshire GOP.

Jindal, the sitting governor of Louisiana, was there. Also, Wisconsin's Scott Walker, greeting the audience in Nashua with some regular-guy, Midwestern small talk.


Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit in New Hampshire. Darren McCollester/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit in New Hampshire.

Darren McCollester/Getty Images

"We're honored to be back here, New Hampshire," he said. "I wore a suit tonight. I didn't wear a $1 sweater like I did last time from Kohl's. Although I think this shirt is from Kohl's."

Kohl's, of course, is a reference to the Wisconsin-based department store.

And there's New Jersey's Chris Christie, who mentioned a text he'd just gotten from his 14-year-old son.

"He's at school, and he said to me 'where are you?' And i said 'I'm on my way to New Hampshire.' And he's a bit of a wise guy — I don't know where that comes from — and he said 'your new home state,'" Christie said to laughs.

It's all part of the "getting to know you" phase of an early presidential campaign. And for a sitting governor, it's a time to tell the world — especially voters in New Hampshire and Iowa — just what you've accomplished back home.

That's something Walker tried to do: "We took $3.6 billion budget deficit and turned it into a surplus. In fact we've done it in each of the last four years," he said.

But as these three governors eye the White House, each is also dealing with low public approval at home.

Walker has long been a polarizing figure due to his epic battles with public employee unions. But a new poll this week shows a new and sizable drop in his approval rating. Charles Franklin of Marquette University noted that Walker has shifted his rhetoric to the right on issues including immigration and abortion. That has likely fueled some of the drop. And, Franklin said, being out of the state so much doesn't help.

"He has had a style in which he governs by traveling around the state in presenting his case. Three, four, five events a day around the state arguing for his positions," Franklin said. "Now he isn't able to do as many of those."

Christie's popularity in New Jersey reached an all-time low this week. There was the so-called "bridgegate" scandal early last year, but more recently there's deep discontent over his handling of the economy and changes to retirement benefits for state workers.


"I didn't run for governor of New Jersey to be elected prom king," Christie said recently. "I'm not looking to be the most popular guy in the world, I'm looking to be the most respected one." Darren McCollester/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Darren McCollester/Getty Images

"I didn't run for governor of New Jersey to be elected prom king," Christie said recently. "I'm not looking to be the most popular guy in the world, I'm looking to be the most respected one."

Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Jindal's approval is very low as well — fueled by his handling of the budget and education, among other things.

Governing is messy. And it's something a candidate not currently running a state doesn't have to worry about.

But political strategists like Rich Galen say that falling support at home — as long as it doesn't become a huge story on a hot button issue nationally — is not likely to have much impact on the presidential contest "as long as the dip is manageable."

"As long as the candidate doesn't feel that he or she has to race home to fix it. Then it's something that you let slide by and hope for the best as you move down the field," he said.

Now, there are other sitting governors who could still jump into the race. Like, say, say Ohio's John Kasich whose ratings have held up pretty well, so far.

But others wear their low approval ratings like a badge of honor. A sign of toughness. As Christie put it last weekend — he's not looking to be elected prom king.

If you're into "slow food" — the ethical response to "fast food" — you probably want to know how the animals were treated or whether pesticides were used on your vegetables. Now, the "slow fashion" movement is in the same spirit.

"It's about understanding the process or the origins of how things are made," says Soraya Darabi, co-founder of the clothing line Zady. "Where our products come from, how they're constructed and by whom. Slow fashion is really indicative of a movement of people who want to literally slow down."

Read About The Rana Plaza Disaster

Planet Money

The Tragic Number That Got Us All Talking About Our Clothing


After Bangladesh Factory Disaster, Efforts Show Mixed Progress

This idea of slow fashion has been around for a long time. But over the last two years it has surged into a small-but-dedicated movement, partly inspired by the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh. In 2013 some 2,000 people were making clothes — mostly for large, western brands — when the building they were working in collapsed. More than 1,100 people were killed.

Pietra Rivoli, a professor at Georgetown University, says tragedies like the one in Bangladesh are a result of fast fashion: Consumers in the West buying lots of cheap clothes that are made in countries with little or no oversight of fire safety and fair labor.

"We talk about a race to the bottom in apparel production with production chasing the lowest costs," Rivoli says. "I think the bottom right now is in Bangladesh."

Rivoli is the author of The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy. She traced the origins of a T-shirt from Walgreens that cost $5.99.

PLANET MONEY MAKES A T-SHIRT: The world behind a simple shirt, in five chapters NPR hide caption

itoggle caption NPR

"A lot of times there are demand surges from the West," Rivoli explains. "You know, 'We need more of those pink T-shirts by next week,' and these brands had never really thought about the fact that they might need to be monitoring for actual structural integrity of the buildings. That wasn't something that was really on their radar screen."

Supply chain integrity is important to Soraya Darabi and Maxine Bdat, the co-founders of Zady. They've come out with a new T-shirt that's an example of "slow fashion." It was made entirely in the U.S. by companies that Bdat says try to be eco- and labor-friendly. The cotton is grown by the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative.


Worker-owner Alfonso Gonzalez pieces together Zady's T-shirts at the Opportunity Threads cooperative in Morganton, N.C. Zady hide caption

itoggle caption Zady

Worker-owner Alfonso Gonzalez pieces together Zady's T-shirts at the Opportunity Threads cooperative in Morganton, N.C.


"The fact that it's USDA. Organic is very meaningful to us because what that means is there is a government representative that's actually visiting these farms on an annual basis and they're checking to make sure these organic standards are being met," Bdat says.

Then the cotton goes to North Carolina where it's spun by a multi-generational family cooperative. "The actual sewers own part of the company," Bdat explains.

The T-shirts are also dyed in North Carolina by TS Designs.

"What we're doing is piecing together what is left of an industry that has totally been decimated," Bdat says.


Zady's "slow fashion" T-shirt costs $36. Zady hide caption

itoggle caption Zady

Zady's "slow fashion" T-shirt costs $36.


Zady's T-shirt costs $36.

"It is a little bit of an upfront investment, but it's also, we believe, the way of the future — to own fewer but better things," says Darabi.

Like the Zady founders, Linda Greer likes the idea of slow fashion, but her definition is different. Greer is a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "It's intentional manufacturing with 'mindfulness' — to use current terms," she says.

Greer thinks the slow fashion movement should hold large retailers accountable for its manufacturing abroad. The NRDC. has a program called Clean by Design which works with retailers and designers to "green the fashion supply chain."


For some shoppers, like Angelique Noire (left) and Jenny Rieu, "ethical fashion" means lining up for a massive vintage clothing sale. Nina Gregory/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Nina Gregory/NPR

For some shoppers, like Angelique Noire (left) and Jenny Rieu, "ethical fashion" means lining up for a massive vintage clothing sale.

Nina Gregory/NPR

Greer says 33 textile mills in China have adopted efficiency standards that have reduced pollution. These are mills that make clothes for Target, H&M and The Gap among others. But she says the apparel industry still has a very long way to go.

"The conundrum consumers face into trying to know where their clothing comes from is that even companies don't know where that clothing has come from," Greer says.

On a recent weekend, a huge line snaked around the Goodwill in Los Angeles for a massive vintage clothing sale. For these consumers slow fashion is recycling hats, dresses and purses that have some history.

"It was owned by someone living somewhere at some point and it already had a life and I'm here to give it maybe a second or third life," says shopper Jenny Rieu. Her Goodwill finds are unique and cheaper — not to mention friendlier to the environment.

Read an excerpt of The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy


Passwords get hacked — a lot. In an effort to move beyond passwords, big companies are embracing biometric technology: the use of fingerprints, iris scans or voice recognition for user identification.

To heighten security, smartphones are being outfitted with biometric features. But, ditching passwords for biometrics may not make the hackers go away.

Selfie Security

At a big security conference called RSA, thousands of people gather in San Francisco's Moscone Center, selling products to make life online more secure.

Conor White, an executive at a biometrics company called Daon, begins to demonstrate how he logs into his bank account.

"I've just launched our mobile app and you can see here, I'm straight into the app," he says. "Watch how it authenticates me."

He doesn't type in a password. He holds his iPhone up to his face, like he's going to take a selfie.

He blinks — on purpose. What follows is a camera click sound.

USAA uses biometrics to authenticate its account holders. Courtesy of USAA hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of USAA

"I blink because photographs don't blink," White says. "It's a basic test to make sure it's not someone holding up a photograph of me on the Internet."

And if selfie security doesn't work — say you're in a dark room — you can use your fingerprint instead, or your voice. White reads this sentence to get into the app: "My identity is secure because my voice is my passport."

His company recently landed a big contract with USAA to do biometric identification for the financial services firm's account holders. White says bankers are calling him regularly now because the old system has failed.

Biometrics are a great alternative, he says, because they're super-personal.

"I wear my face every day," White says. It's the only face I have. As they say, a face only my mother could love."

And if it feels too personal, don't do it, he says.

"At the end of the day, it's down to choice," White says. "If people feel uncomfortable, they don't have to do it. They can continue to go with the password-based model. They may not get the level of service that they want, but it's their choice."

A Race To Patent

It's a choice for now. But given the pace at which companies are putting biometrics into their hardware, it could become the new normal soon.

Patent attorney Yuri Eliezer, with the firm SmartUp, says a decade ago, there were just 46 patent applications for biometrics. Last year, he counted at least 567.

"It's a definitely a growing number and we anticipate that's going to continue to grow," he says.

Apple, Samsung, Google, Microsoft and Intel are all filing. Eliezer says biometrics is part of the blueprint for the newest lines of smartphones and fitness trackers.

"This is something we're always holding in our hand or having in our pockets, always so close to our bodies," he says. "And now, the fact that we could integrate these sensing devices into our mobile devices, it makes it all the more useful to aggregate and collect data on us."

It could provide something useful, too.

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According to patent filings: Apple wants to use biometrics to lock and unlock messages [keep that text for your irises only]; Microsoft is interested in entertainment value, and is working on a device that monitors your heart rate or blood oxygen levels — maybe to adjust the music while you play Xbox.

"If your heart rate's increasing, the music might speed up or slow down based on the environment the gaming providers are trying to create," Eliezer says.

Increasing Risk

The biometric boom raises some well-known privacy concerns. It also raises some less-known security concerns.

David Cowan with Bessemer Venture Partners is an investor. He's put over $100 million into digital security companies, but he refuses to invest in biometrics.

"Either a password or a biometric can be stolen," he says. "But only the password can be changed. Once your fingerprint is stolen, it's stolen forever, and you're stuck."

Hackers have already made dummy fingerprints — using pictures of people's hands available online — to swipe into the iPhone 6 scanner.

Cowan says in a world where just about anything can be hacked, the cost of biometrics is just too high.




With her name recognition in a left-leaning state, she stood a pretty good shot of emerging from the Democratic primary, or potentially even clearing the field.

With a year left in her husband Bill Clinton's second term in the White House, Clinton officially announced her candidacy. Think about that for a second: Clinton doing what she did, timing-wise, would be the equivalent of Michelle Obama launching a Senate run nine months from now.

"I may be new to the neighborhood," Clinton told a crowd of 2,000, "but I'm not new to your concerns."

Clinton embarked on a 62-county listening tour, focusing on rural Upstate New York. She hoped to win over skeptical, Republican-leaning voters, who could be key to victory, especially in a race against Republican New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose strength was in the city, not the country.

Fearing a Giuliani run, New York Democrats cleared the way for Clinton.

"I pledge to you that I will work my heart out every day in this campaign to become your next senator," Clinton said in her May 16 acceptance speech (below) in Albany, N.Y.

Her message sounded a lot like today, focusing on family work-life issues, education, health care, abortion rights, even calling for women to get "equal pay for equal work" and advocating for rural broadband.

She saved some of her strongest words for the gun lobby, which she said was wrong for warning that her husband wanted to take away guns in the run up to signing the Brady bill in 1993. (The bill instituted background checks and waiting periods for handguns.)

"Taking the assault weapons off the street and passing the Brady bill kept 500,000 fugitives, felons, and stalkers from buying the guns that could have killed and maimed even more New Yorkers and Americans," Clinton thundered.


During a 2000 Senate debate, Hillary Clinton's opponent Rick Lazio, R-N.Y., hands her a pledge to stop taking "soft money." But Lazio's tone was criticized for how not to debate a female candidate. Richard Drew/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Richard Drew/AP

During a 2000 Senate debate, Hillary Clinton's opponent Rick Lazio, R-N.Y., hands her a pledge to stop taking "soft money." But Lazio's tone was criticized for how not to debate a female candidate.

Richard Drew/AP

In a remarkable moment, she also thanked "Vice President Al Gore and President Bill Clinton." Bill waved to the crowd and stood for a standing ovation after these lines from his wife: "I am delighted that the president is here this evening and I am so grateful for his support. I would not be standing here tonight were it not for Bill and were it not for all he has done for me. And I could not be prouder as an American and as a New Yorker to have a president who has meant so much to our country. We are a better country than we were in 1992."

All signs had pointed to an epic showdown between Clinton and Giuliani. But three days after Clinton's acceptance speech, Giuliani's dropped out. His candidacy imploded amid front-page tabloid revelations of an affair just as he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Six months before the general election, Republicans were grasping for a candidate. Stepping into the void was Rick Lazio, the Long Island congressman. But his aggressive tactics and tone in a debate with Clinton — moderated by the late Tim Russert — is still being studied as an example of how not to debate a female candidate.

Here's (a very young) Jon Stewart in his early days as Daily Show host, wrapping the debate:

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Clinton capitalized on it. A week after the debate, she rallied Democratic women in a Manhattan hotel ballroom and dismissed Lazio as a bully.

"There is a big difference between raising your voice and raising up the quality of education in our schools," Clinton said. "There is a big difference between pointing your finger and reaching out your hand to improve the quality of life for the people who need health and good jobs."

In her closing ad, sitting on a couch in a living room, Clinton acknowledged the improbability of her run.

"When I started this campaign, I'm not sure I knew quite what to expect," she said, "and you probably didn't either."

In the end, Clinton dispatched of Lazio in a 12-point win, laying the groundwork for all that would come next.

2016 Presidential Race


Hillary Clinton

Deutsche Bank, Germany's largest bank, has been fined $2.5 billion dollars by U.S. and U.K. regulators for trying to manipulate the so-called Libor rate, a benchmark for inter-bank loans which in turn is used to set interest rates on everything from credit card debt to mortgages.

The German bank is one of eight financial institutions, including Swiss-based UBS and the Royal Bank of Scotland, that were caught up in the scandal, which involved dozens of traders and managers and spanned a four-year period from 2005-2009.

As the BBC writes: "traders colluded to set these benchmark rates, hoping to improve their trading positions. The regulators released email exchanges between traders and submitters - the people who provide the information on which rate Libor and Euribor is set each day."

At least 29 Deutsche Bank employees were involved in manipulating the Libor, which stands for London Inter-Bank Offer Rate.

The Guardian notes that Deutsche Bank's management, led by Anshu Jain and Jurgen Fitschen "will be hoping the avoid the fate of Bob Diamond, who was forced out of Barclays in July 2012 following its Libor rigging fine. When Royal Bank of Scotland was fined in February 2013, John Hourican, the head of the investment bank, left "in recognition of the management issues" and the impact on the bank's reputation. Piet Moerland, chairman of Rabobank, quit when the Dutch bank was fined 660m in October 2013."

The Guardian adds: "Lloyds Banking Group has also been fined for rigging Libor, along with brokers Icap and RP Martin."



Privately run Medicare plans, fresh off a lobbying victory that reversed proposed budget cuts, face new scrutiny from government investigators and whistleblowers who allege that plans have overcharged the government for years.

Federal court records show at least a half dozen whistleblower lawsuits alleging billing abuses in these Medicare Advantage plans have been filed under the False Claims Act since 2010, including two that just recently surfaced. The suits have named insurers from Columbia, S.C., to Salt Lake City to Seattle, and plans which have together enrolled millions of seniors. Lawyers predict more whistleblower cases will surface. The Justice Department also is investigating Medicare risk scores.

Though specific allegations vary, the whistleblower suits all take aim at these risk scores. Medicare uses the scores to pay higher rates for sicker patients and less for people in good health. But officials were warned as early as 2009 that some plans claim patients are sicker than they actually are to boost their payments.

Privately run Medicare Advantage plans have signed up more than 17 million members, about a third of the people eligible for Medicare, and are poised to get bigger. Earlier this month, the industry overturned proposed cuts sought by the Obama administration for a third straight year, instead winning a modest raise in payment rates for the programs.

Medicare Advantage resonates with many seniors for its low out-of-pocket costs. It's also winning favor with some health policy experts who argue these managed care plans can offer higher quality care than standard Medicare, which pays doctors and hospitals on a fee-for-service basis.

Karen Ignagni, the chief executive officer of America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry's trade group, called the government's change of heart "a notable step to provide stable funding."

"It shows the incentives provided for whistleblowers are working well, and all the other controls and detection systems are failing miserably."

- Malcolm Sparrow

But the whistleblower suits argue that it's too easy for health plans to gouge the government.

Malcolm Sparrow, a health care fraud expert at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, said the number of these cases suggests government oversight is too lax.

"It shows the incentives provided for whistleblowers are working well, and all the other controls and detection systems are failing miserably," Sparrow wrote in an email.

Ray Thorn, a spokesman for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, disagreed. He said CMS "is taking steps to protect taxpayers, Medicare beneficiaries and the Medicare program." Thorn cited an increase in CMS audits and said health plans have identified overpayments and given back about $1.1 billion to the government.

Still, critics want to step up accountability as the health plans bite off bigger chunks of Medicare business. Annual taxpayer costs for Medicare Advantage exceed $150 billion

"CMS could save billions of dollars by improving the accuracy of its payments to Medicare Advantage programs."

- Government Accountability Office report

"CMS could save billions of dollars by improving the accuracy of its payments to Medicare Advantage programs," the Government Accountability Office wrote in its just-released 2015 annual report.

On another front, the Justice Department is widening the scope of an investigation into whether exaggerated risk scores are jacking up costs improperly.

Humana Inc., based in Louisville, Ky., which counts more than 3 million seniors in its plans, wrote in a March Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the investigation "includes a number of Medicare Advantage plans, providers and vendors."

On April 14, DaVita Healthcare Partners Inc., headquartered In Denver, disclosed that it had received a Justice Department subpoena. Investigators sought Medicare Advantage billing data and other records.

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In the latest lawsuit to surface, a pair of whistleblowers allege that Blue Cross of South Carolina submitted inflated claims between 2006 and 2010, then "acted to cover up and hide the false submissions so that they would be able to retain the wrongly paid reimbursements," according to an April 3 filing.

The South Carolina suit also names the Deseret Mutual Insurance Company, a Utah plan formed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which contracted with Blue Cross to process Medicare Advantage billings.

"We deny the allegations and are vigorously defending the case," responded Blue Cross of South Carolina spokeswoman Patti Embry-Tautenhan.

Deseret Mutual could not be reached despite repeated calls and emails to the health plan's Utah office and its South Carolina attorney.

The suit was filed by Catherine Brtva, a former Blue Cross computer billing specialist, and Jerald R. Conte, a former contractor.

The case targets flaws in computer programs that Blue Cross says were used to submit to Medicare millions of health insurance claims by hundreds of thousands of members.

Shots - Health News

Fraud Case Casts Spotlight On Medicare Advantage Plans

In court filings, Blue Cross does not deny that some overcharges occurred. But it says underpayments also happened and that it worked with CMS to correct the problems.

The whistleblowers argue that the plans set out to repay only about $2 million in overpayments — just 10 percent of what they actually owed. CMS officials declined to discuss the matter.

Several attorneys said in interviews they expect more cases to surface, particularly as Medicare Advantage grows. Risk scoring fraud "has popped up on our radar," said Joseph E.B. White, a Philadelphia lawyer specializing in whistleblower cases.

One suit, which the Center for Public Integrity only recently discovered, was filed in 2012 by Lisa Parker, a former clinic supervisor at The Polyclinic in Seattle, who sued the clinic and Essence Healthcare, a Medicare Advantage plan.

Parker cited a 2010 memo that asked doctors' staff to talk hundreds of elderly people into coming in for a medical visit. The clinic was to receive about $250,000 to $500,000 in 2011 from increased risk scores from the visits.

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Feds Knew About Medicare Advantage Overcharges Years Ago

The lawsuit alleges the visits "were not dictated by patient concern, nor for the treatment or diagnosis of specific illnesses, symptoms, complaints or injuries, but were designed and performed to maximize the opportunity to bill Medicare."

Joel Andersen, vice president of marketing for Essence Healthcare, said in an email statement: "The government did not find any wrongdoing or any cause to intervene and thus the case was quickly dismissed. We consider the matter closed and have no additional commentary to add. We strongly advise that this matter not be characterized in any other fashion than a frivolous lawsuit based on unfounded claims."

Tracy Corgiat, vice president of marketing and development at The Polyclinic, said that CMS requires that a patient's "clinical history and medical diagnoses be newly documented each year during an in-person visit." The Polyclinic has a "rigorous process for validating the diagnoses of our patients and we are fully confident in that process," she said.

At least one doctor was taken aback.

"Let me see if I've got this right. In order to get more $$$ for the Polyclinic, we have to bring patients in for a visit they didn't need or initiate?" the doctor, Scott Stevens, wrote in an email that's part of the court file.

"They would get more from a movie and popcorn!" Stevens wrote.

This piece comes from the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization. To follow CPI's investigations into Medicare and Medicare Advantage waste, fraud and abuse, go here. Or follow the organization on Twitter.

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Health Care



In Fox's television show The Last Man on Earth, Saturday Night Live alum Will Forte plays a man who survives a deadly virus that has decimated the human population. In the show, Forte's character, Phil, despairs when he thinks he is the last human on earth. He drives around a lonely landscape, creating billboards that announce "Alive in Tucson" on the off-chance that someone will see them.

But when Phil meets and marries a woman whom he believes to be the last living woman on Earth, he realizes that maybe being alone wasn't so bad. This is especially true when Phil meets a second woman, whom he likes better than his new wife. Things don't get better for Phil as even more survivors start showing up in Tuscon.

If all of this makes Phil a bit of a cad, the actor says that's by design. Forte explains to Fresh Air's Ann Marie Baldonado that while his character may be the last man on earth, Phil is not meant to be the best person on earth.

"Automatically in the first episode you want your character to be likable, you want people to find him to be sympathetic," Forte says. "We thought it would be interesting to move away from there and create this character who isn't the perfect person. In this show I feel like if you continue to watch, your allegiances will kind of constantly be shifting."

Many people know Forte from SNL, where he was a cast member from 2002 until 2010. He also gained attention for his role opposite Bruce Dern in the 2013 Alexander Payne film Nebraska. Forte's other television credits include a recurring role on 30 Rock and writing credits for the Late Show with David Letterman and That '70s Show.

Interview Highlights

On the beard he grew for Last Man On Earth

I had been living with this beard for about nine months and I had a real love/hate relationship with it. There are a lot of very tricky things when you have a beard of that size. Eating is horrible, personal interactions are tricky ... people are nervous around a person with a beard that size. But I also kind of missed it [when it was gone]. It was like a little security blanket, so it was interesting, I was just completely a different person.

On working with Dern on the set of Nebraska


Forte says he was "nervous the whole way through" while working on Nebraska with Dern and Payne. Merie W. Wallace/Paramount hide caption

itoggle caption Merie W. Wallace/Paramount

Forte says he was "nervous the whole way through" while working on Nebraska with Dern and Payne.

Merie W. Wallace/Paramount

We spent a ton of time together. It was pretty amazing to watch him make the transformation [into Woody] because for anybody who doesn't know him, he's the most vibrant, feisty in a fun way — he's just awesome and full of life and then the moment the cameras would start rolling he just morphed into the Woody character. It's about as drastically different as you can get. ... The moments we would be done shooting or between takes, we wouldn't be in character we would just be talking like friends. That was such a big part of this experience because I was really nervous the whole way through. I didn't want to mess up Alexander Payne's movie and Bruce Dern's movie. Here are all these legendary people and he was so good about putting me at ease and that friendship that we developed helped me get out of my head and, I think, do a better job in the movie.

On filming the road trip scenes for Nebraska

The very end, after we completed all the dialogue stuff from the movie we actually went to Billings, Mont., and made the trip all the way to northern Nebraska and Alexander Payne followed us in this big RV. He actually had bought the RV that Jack Nicholson drives around in About Schmidt so he had had this RV and they mounted a camera to the front of it and would just drive behind us and pull up to the side of us and get all these amazing shots of that drive. But the whole time, Bruce and I are in this car just for days and days, just talking about life and I could listen to his stories forever. He's a fascinating, wonderful man.

On Dern's acting advice

Bruce Dern was really great about giving me advice the whole way through, and he would always be talking about "find the truth of the scene" and just play that. It just seemed like actor mumbo jumbo for a while, and then after a couple of weeks, it really registered — I started understanding what he was talking about. It's just the same thing as comedy, like you're just trying to figure out the reality of the scene and play it as truthfully as you can. Obviously in an absurd sketch there's going to be a different reality and truth than in the movie Nebraska, so it was just about figuring out that truth and committing to it fully. It's all about commitment, I guess.

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On landing his job at Saturday Night Live

I just lucked out and Lorne Michaels came to one of the shows. I already had a job so I didn't even think that it was possible to go over to SNL. I was under contract with ... That '70s Show, so I was nice and loose because I was very happy as a comedy writer, too, so I just didn't even think that it was an option. Then I ended up having a good night, probably because I was so loose, and he invited me for an audition. I was terrified, I had to really get talked into auditioning. I went out, auditioned, and got the job and then turned it down, for the same reasons I just said — just terrified that I wouldn't be good at it and I would be giving up this amazing job at That '70s Show, which was such a fun job, great people. I liked the show so much, and I turned [SNL] down. I regretted it for the entire year that I had to wait until Lorne, thank God, came back the next year and asked me if I would change my mind, but I decided I had to go for it because I would never forgive myself if I didn't at least see what it would be like.

We told you earlier this week about the anger in Poland over remarks made by the head of the FBI linking that country to the Holocaust. Hungary, which James Comey also mentioned in his speech, has now joined in the protests against the comments.

"The words of the FBI director bear witness to astounding insensitivity and impermissible superficiality," the Hungarian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "We do not accept from anyone the formulation of such a generalization and defamation."

In a speech last week at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, a version of which was published in The Washington Post, Comey called the Holocaust "the most significant event in world history." But it was his remarks about who participated in the killing of Jews that drew most of the attention. Comey said:

"In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn't do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do. That's what people do. And that should truly frighten us."

Poland summoned Stephen Mull, the U.S. ambassador to Warsaw, to the Foreign Ministry on Sunday to demand an apology.

Mull later told reporters that suggesting any country other than Nazi Germany was responsible for the Holocaust "is harmful and offensive." But he added: "Director Comey certainly did not mean to suggest that Poland was in any way responsible for those crimes."

Comey himself addressed the controversy on Tuesday when he was asked by Tennessee's WATE-TV if he had an apology to those offended by his remarks.

"I don't," he said. "Except I didn't say Poland was responsible for the Holocaust. In a way I wish very much that I hadn't mentioned any countries because it's distracted some folks from my point.

"I worry a little bit in some countries that point has gotten lost. There is no doubt that people in Poland heroically resisted the Nazis, and some people heroically protected the Jews, but there's also no doubt that in every country occupied by the Nazis, there were people collaborating with the Nazis."

The issue is a sensitive one in Poland, which was angered by President Obama's remarks in 2012 when he referred to a "Polish death camp." The White House called that a "misstatement" that it regretted.

But as Abraham Foxman, a Holocaust survivor from Poland who now heads the Anti-Defamation League, notes the issue is more complicated. In an essay on MSNBC, Foxman notes that a Polish Catholic woman saved his life when he was a boy. He adds:

"Poles have a right to set the record straight about their history when it is distorted or conflated with that of the Nazis and Germany. But Mr. Comey was not wrong in what was his essential message: As evil as the Nazis were, their phantasmagoric mission to destroy the Jewish people was made much easier because the public in most European countries, Poland included, too often acted as bystanders and sometimes even as accomplices."

Writing in The Post, Laurence Weinbaum, director of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, called Comey's remarks "carelessly drafted, though presumably well-intentioned." But he says:

"Thanks to the efforts of Polish researchers, we now know that more Poles participated in the destruction and despoliation of their Jewish neighbors than was previously believed. Many Poles saw the removal of the Jews from Poland as the one beneficial byproduct of an otherwise grievous occupation. For the least scrupulous local people, the Holocaust was also an El Dorado-like opportunity for self-enrichment and gratification. For some, this temptation was irresistible, and they did not recoil from committing acts of murder, rape and larceny — not always orchestrated by the Germans."

The Associated Press reports that Frank Spula, head of the Polish American Congress , an organization that represents at least 10 million Americans of Polish descent, said he would expect Comey to resign over his remarks.


James Comey





The fighting in Georgia can be hard to follow from afar, but it traces a theme that has been recurring ever since the Soviet Union shattered into 15 countries in 1991. Georgia was one of those lands that gained independence, but it soon degenerated into a war in the northern region of Abkhazia, where Russian-backed separatists carved out a piece of territory they claim and hold until this day.

The conflict feels eerily familiar now in the context of the current turmoil in Ukraine, and has haunted much of recent Georgian cinema (or, to be fair, the limited scope of Georgian cinema that reaches North American audiences). In 2012's The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear and 2013's In Bloom, the war is never directly seen but its ravaging effect on Georgian society—the thousands of dead, the broken families that resulted—is evident. Zaza Urushadze's Tangerines, meanwhile, is actually set during the war, but the movie examines the conflict so circumspectly that it actually feels more distant than in either of the other films.

Urushadze's movie, a surprise Oscar nominee earlier this year for Best Foreign Language Film, centers on Ivo (Lembit Ulfsak), an Estonian living in what is now a Georgian war zone. While the majority of his fellow Estonians have returned home to escape the conflict—according to an opening title card, Estonian communities in Georgia date back 100 years—Ivo has stayed to help his neighbor, Margus (Elmo Nganen), harvest his tangerine crop, for which Ivo makes the crates.

Ivo and Margus seem relatively protected from the front lines of the war, but the conflict comes to them when two Abkhazian mercenaries arrive looking for food and proceed to get in a gunfight with Georgian soldiers outside Margus's home. Two wounded men emerge—the first, Ahmed (Giorgi Nakashidze), an Abkhazian; the second, Niko (Misha Meskhi), a Georgian—and Ivo brings them both back to his house to help them recover.

The set-up—two enemies living under the same roof, both owing their lives to a gracious, neutral party—is already more allegorical than realist, and Urushadze's script never pushes much further. The arguments between Ahmed and Niko—who both promise Ivo they won't kill each other in Ivo's house—are simplistic: One says the land they're on is Abkhazian, the other that it's Georgian; Ahmed emasculates Niko; Niko calls Ahmed uneducated. It's not, to say the least, a deep or particularly insightful examination of the roots of war.

Instead, it's evident pretty early that Urushadze is pushing not toward an examination of war but to an appreciation of our common humanity. (Margus's tangerines—superfluous and at risk of neglect during such a violent conflict—are overused as a symbol in this respect.) Some might reject the message outright, but even if it appeals, here it's too far removed from reality to be effective. For one, the event that catalyzes the inevitable reconciliation of differences between Niko and Ahmed is nearly unbelievable in its contrivance. But most of all, because the conflict between Abkhazians and Georgians is so sketchily drawn, the ultimate heartwarming tone of the film seems not so much unearned as unspectacular.

There might be, to be fair, a problem of cultural translation. American films need only scantily explain the horrors and importance of the Vietnam War because they're a matter of common knowledge at this point. The same may be true of the Abkhazian War in Georgia. But there's still a difference between Tangerines and the more successful In Bloom or Machine. The latter two don't explain much about the war either, but you can see its effects on the faces of its characters and subjects. In Tangerines, that same work is left entirely to our imaginations.

The ancient Rabban Hermizd Monestary, on a hill overlooking the northern village of al-Qosh, is a testament to the long history of Christians in Iraq. Stone walls leading up the hill are decorated with iconography, and the 7th-century monastery is covered with the ancient Syriac language, still spoken today by the people of al-Qosh.

"Christians have been here in the Ninevah plains for thousands of years. It would be a tragedy if we just disappeared," said Athra Kado, a local Syriac language teacher.

But on Aug. 6 of last year, the people of al-Qosh did disappear, in a manner of speaking.

The self-declared Islamic State, or ISIS, was within about six miles and had been advancing rapidly in northern Iraq, overrunning Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, as well as other towns and villages in the area.

Kurdish forces that opposed ISIS, known as the Peshmerga, came to al-Qosh on the night of Aug. 6 to warn the residents they were in imminent danger.

The Peshmerga "threw a barricade across the road just outside al-Qosh, but we knew that wouldn't stop" ISIS, said Kado.

Ancient Assyrian, a language dating to biblical times, decorates the Rabban Hermzid Monastery that was built in the 7th century. Alex Potter for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Alex Potter for NPR

The residents fled, leaving al-Qosh a ghost town. But something curious happened. For reasons unknown, ISIS stopped stopped short of al-Qosh and never tried to enter the village.

After a while, the residents felt secure enough to return and it has been buzzing with activity this spring. The markets are open, the schools are running, and families are picnicking on the hills overlooking al-Qosh.

While all appears well for the moment, the future of Christians in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East is not particularly bright.

Christians in Iraq numbered about 1.5 million, or about 8 percent of the population, before the U.S. invasion that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

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More than a decade of war and upheaval has prompted many Christians to leave. Today the Christian population in Iraq is estimated to have dropped below 400,000.

The Christian exodus from Iraq is one part of a larger trend that has been playing out for decades throughout the wider Middle East. In the mid-20th century, Christians were estimated to be about 20 percent of the Middle East's population. Today, it's 5 percent at most.

In 2008 and 2010, al-Qosh became a safe haven for civilians fleeing turbulence in the Mosul area, about 30 miles to the south. The same thing happened again before and after the ISIS threat last August.

Elderly women from the countryside have stayed in an empty local school. The women said they were comfortable and well provided for, though they hoped to return to their homes.

The residents of al-Qosh have now set up their own militia in hopes of protecting the village should it again be threatened.

Kado and a number of his friends serve rotating days on militia duty, patrolling the town and the surrounding area. As they climbed the flower-covered hill behind the monastery to water newly planted trees, they reflected on the situation.

An Assyrian Christian couple walks through the market area of al-Qosh, where most residents have returned after fleeing last August in the face of an advance of the Islamic State. The ancient village is about 30 miles north of Mosul, Iraq's second biggest city, which is still held by the Islamic State. Alex Potter for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Alex Potter for NPR

"We come up here to picnic, to be with our friends. This is our town, we don't want to give it up," said Riven Nafe, an engineer.

A priest in a local church, Gabriel Gorgis, said it is the world's duty to help protect dwindling Christian communities in place like al-Qosh.

"Look around at our history," said Gorgis. "We have been here for thousands of years. Wouldn't it be a shame to the world and future generations to lose us?"



Normay is going to eliminate FM radio in less than two years, the country's government announced, becoming the first country in the world to do so.

Norway is planning to transition completely to digital broadcasting in January 2017.

The Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) system offers a number of benefits over FM, said Thorhild Widvey, Norway's minister of culture, in a statement last week.

"Listeners will have access to more diverse and pluralistic radio content, and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality. Digitisation will also greatly improve the emergency preparedness system, facilitate increased competition and offer new opportunities for innovation and development," she said.

The cost of transmitting national radio channels through the FM network currently in place is eight times higher than with the digital network, the announcement said.

"Whereas the FM system only had space for five national channels, DAB already offers 22, and there is capacity for almost 20 more," Widvey added.

The country has been discussing the switch for years but a 2017 move hinged on the availability of "affordable and technically satisfactory solutions" for people who listen in their cars, and that the signal that carries the national services cover more than 90 percent of Norway's population.

Only 20 percent of private cars are currently equipped with DAB technology, according to TNS Gallup, a Norwegian market analysis agency, but the technology is widely available.

Digital radio is much less vulnerable to transmitter failure in extreme conditions, the Norwegian government said, which adds to the emergency preparedness appeal.

Several countries in Europe and Southeast Asia are also considering a switch to digital broadcasting, reports Radio.no.

Now that she's in her mid-80s, celebrated author Toni Morrison feels aches, pains and regret.

She tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "When I'm not creating or focusing on something I can imagine or invent, I think I go back over my life — I don't recommend this, by the way — and you pick up, 'Oh, what did you do that for? Why didn't you understand this?' Not just with children, as a parent, but with other people, with friends. ... It's not profound regret; it's just a wiping up of tiny little messes that you didn't recognize as mess when they were going on."

Morrison, the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature, says writing provides a "big protection" from her thoughts.

Her latest novel, God Help the Child, follows an African-American woman who has no idea why she has given birth to such a dark-skinned baby. The mother, named Sweetness, is embarrassed by her daughter's darkness and wants to distance herself. The daughter, meanwhile, is scarred by not having her mother's love.

Morrison says she wanted to separate color from race in her latest creation.

"Distinguishing color — light, black, in between — as the marker for race is really an error: It's socially constructed, it's culturally enforced and it has some advantages for certain people," she says. "But this is really skin privilege — the ranking of color in terms of its closeness to white people or white-skinned people and its devaluation according to how dark one is and the impact that has on people who are dedicated to the privileges of certain levels of skin color."

The novel explores those childhood wounds that leave a lasting mark into adulthood, and Morrison says it got her thinking about her own two sons. When they were young, she says she felt "able and competent" and she never thought she would "hurt them in any way."

"Afterwards, I remember every error, every word that I spoke that was wrong or incontinent, every form of when I did not protect them properly," she says. "Now that I'm 84, I remember everything as a mistake — and I regret everything. Now, mind you, one of them is now deceased, one of them is very successful, so I don't have any reason for this except perhaps age and regret."

Interview Highlights

On her own experience of the hierarchy of color

I lived in a little working-class town [Lorain, Ohio,] that had no black neighborhoods at all, one high school. We all played together. Everybody was either somebody from the South or an immigrant from east Europe or from Mexico. And there was one church and there were four elementary schools. We were all pretty much ... very, very poor. ...

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I'm not at all a person who has been reared or raised in a community in which these racial lines were that pronounced. Occasionally, as children, we might figure out how to call somebody a name and they would figure out how to call us [a name], but it was so light; it was so fluffy. I didn't really have a strong awareness of segregation and the separation of races until I left Lorain. ... I thought the whole world was like Lorain.

On her parents' approach to race

[My father] was very, very serious in his hatred of white people. What mitigated it was my mother, who was exactly the opposite, who never rejected or accepted anybody based on race or color or religion or any of that. Everybody was an individual whom she approved of or disapproved of based on her perception of them as individuals. ...

My father saw two black men lynched on his street in Cartersville, Ga., as a child. I think seeing two black businessmen, not vagrants, hanging from trees as a child was traumatic for him.

On the importance of names and nicknames in her books

There's a whole history, I think, in naming. In the beginning of black people being in this country, they lost their names. They were given names by their masters and so they didn't have names and they began to call one another, decades later, by nicknames.

I don't think I knew any of my father's friends, male friends, by their real name. I remember them only by their nicknames. Also there was an honesty sometimes — the names were humiliating, deliberately so. Somebody would pick out your flaw. If you were little, they would call you "Shorty," and if you were angry they would call you "The Devil." I remember a man in the neighborhood who was called "Jim the Devil." Always those three words. "Have you seen Jim the Devil?" ...

It's a very personal identification; trying to move away maybe from the history of having no name, and then personalizing it. On one hand, to give you a name that's embarrassing in order to make you confront it, deal with it now, and then later on [to give you] more charming names, moving away from humiliating names.

On her mother's singing influencing the musicality of her writing

I didn't do it consciously or deliberately, but if it's there then I am positive that that's part of it. Part of it, for me, is the sound. I'm a radio child with the ear up against the gauze, where you hear stories, you know those little stories they used to play on the radio for 15 minutes. ... It was such a cooperative thing. If they said ... "It's storming," you had to see it yourself. If they said "red," you had to identify the shade. So the sound of my mother, the sound of the radio and the fact that they forced us, happily, to tell stories — that was the entertainment in the pre-television days.

The grown-ups told stories, the same stories, over and over again. ... They were usually horrible stories, by the way — ghost stories, peoples' heads got chopped off and so on. But that was so common a thing in our house. For me, the sound of the text is very important — so important that I read all of my books for the audiobooks so that the reader can hear what I hear.

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On her house burning down in 1993

I mourned a couple of things. First of all, I spent a lot of time being happy that my son was not hurt. The second thing was that I lost his and his brother's report cards, which I will never get back. The third thing was I am a little bit of — well, I'm not anymore, but I used to be a little plant thief. You know, if I were someplace where there was something growing, I would snip it off, take it home and plant it. And the one thing I'm obsessive about is jade. I had a pot, a jade bush, that was about 15 years old and it was huge and beautiful and it burnt in a snap. Of course, I lost manuscripts and books and some other things, but the hurt was the report cards and the hurt was the jade bush.

On old age

Some very, very close friends of mine are dead and others are far away, so you narrow down your acquaintances — the ones that mean a lot to you. I have my sister, who is a year and a half older, and of course my own son and grandchildren, but you're in a smaller world, personally. So there is this boredom or the absence of something to do.

I mean, I don't work — I keep telling people I'm unemployed. And I don't wash dishes and I don't wash clothes and I don't clean my house — somebody else does that. So there's this void. ...

What you can pull, if you're an irritable old lady, into that void is every misstep, wrong word: "Why didn't you visit? Why didn't you do this?" The opposite of that is when you get to a certain age and there's a void and you begin to remember every hurt somebody did to you. That never happens to me.

On having back pain and being in a wheelchair

There's something about being arthritic or [having a] backache or ... that makes you feel put upon. I remember my mother used to think if she lost her socks that they hated her. ...

"I did so much for you, body, why aren't you helping me now when I need you? I was so nice to you." ... I do feel like I'm under attack; it's a little way of dealing with it.

I don't take painkillers. I sometimes take [them] at night, but I don't have anything else that I do — that some people do — in order to avoid their pain or make it lower. I just have it and I know that I cannot stand up for more than six minutes and I cannot walk long distances.

"The writing is — I'm free from pain. It's the place where I live; it's where I have control; it's where nobody tells me what to do; it's where my imagination is fecund and I am really at my best. Nothing matters more in the world or in my body or anywhere when I'm writing."

- Toni Morrison

On writing

The writing is — I'm free from pain. It's the place where I live; it's where I have control; it's where nobody tells me what to do; it's where my imagination is fecund and I am really at my best. Nothing matters more in the world or in my body or anywhere when I'm writing. It is dangerous because I'm thinking up dangerous, difficult things, but it is also extremely safe for me to be in that place.

The prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, said Monday that his country is nearing a major trade agreement with the United States, according to an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Abe told the Journal that he hopes to come to an understanding with President Barack Obama when he visits Washington at the end of the month as part of a 12-country summit.

"We think that an agreement between Japan and the U.S. is close, but we're hoping that even more progress will be made," Abe said.

The U.S. and Japan are the two most powerful countries involved in the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that's been in negotiations for more than five years.

Negotiators from both countries met in Tokyo on Sunday and Monday in an effort to smooth out key differences before the summit.

Reuters reported that although the two countries make up a sixth of the group, their ability to come to terms will determine whether an agreement is signed:

Access to Japan's farm market and the U.S. car market remain obstacles to a bilateral deal between the two nations, vital to the success of a long-delayed Trans-Pacific Partnership pact. The world's biggest and third-biggest economies account for some 80 percent of the economic output of the 12-member TPP.

The U.S. is asking for Japan to double its rice imports while Japan is asking the United States to eliminate its 2.5 percent tax on auto parts imports.

"Negotiations can't work if one side makes no concessions, but there are various domestic restrictions," Japan Economy Minister Akira Amari told Japan's public broadcaster NHK. "Rice, in particular, is produced across Japan, so we are carefully negotiating while feeling a domestic sense of crisis."

Coming to an agreement as part of the TPP remains an important step for the prime minister as he continues to try to resurrect Japan's economy.

"Deflation continued for 15 years, and I can't say that it's ended for good, but we have created a situation that is no longer deflation," Abe told the Journal.

While in America, the prime minister will also give a speech to a joint session of Congress and visit Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

China is not a part of the TPP, adding value for both Japan and the U.S., as they continue to balance against that country's economic rise.

Shinzo Abe

trade agreement



The editor of BuzzFeed, the website that carries headlines ranging from "12 Reasons Everything Is Better When It Rains" to "EU Ministers To Hold Emergency Talks On Migrant Crisis," has acknowledged the deletion of more than 1,000 posts – three of them following complaints from advertisers – since he was hired in January 2012.

Editor in chief Ben Smith's memo to staff Saturday, obtained by the website Gawker, comes after his site was criticized for the recent deletion of two posts – one critical of the board game Monopoly and the other critical of the ad campaign launched by soap brand Dove. Their parent companies, Hasbro and Unilever, respectively, are BuzzFeed advertisers. Gawker first reported both those deletions.

Smith has maintained both those instances were for editorial reasons, but the deletions, and the scrutiny directed at the website, prompted an internal review last week of the practice at BuzzFeed.

The review, which was headed by Annie-Rose Strasser, BuzzFeed News deputy managing editor, found 1,112 posts deleted posts since January 2012. Here's the breakdown, according to Smith's memo: editorial decisions, 100; advertiser complaints, 3; copyright issues, 65; technical error, 263; duplicated already published work, 122; community user deletions, 140; on-edit staff deletions and unidentified bylines, 377.

Of the three posts deleted after complaints from advertisers, one, Smith said, was by Mark Duffy, a blogger and ad critic who wrote for the site under the byline "copyranter." In 2013, he accused an ad for Axe deodorant of advocating "worldwide mass rape." The ad agency complained, via BuzzFeed's chief revenue officer, that the "tone of his item was over the top."

"I agreed that this was way outside even our very loose standards of the time," Smith wrote in his memo to staff.

A second post was deleted after complaints from BuzzFeed's chief revenue officer. This one was by Tanner Ringerud, a former member of BuzzFeed's Creative department, who switched to editorial in 2013. His post that March mocked Microsoft's Internet Explorer. In his previous BuzzFeed job, Ringerud had worked on a Microsoft ad campaign. After the complaint, Smith said, "We agreed that it was inappropriate for Tanner to write about brands whose ad campaigns he'd worked on."

The third complaint, this one in January 2014, came from the head of BuzzFeed's creative division that writer Samir Mezrahi had taken a gif from a Pepsi ad created by BuzzFeed's creative team and turned it into a Vine without credit. Smith said he asked Mezrahi not to use advertising created by BuzzFeed's business side for editorial purposes.

"Four days later, he published a post titled 'These Brands Are Going To Bombard Your Twitter Feed On Super Bowl Sunday,' which was a mix of criticism and praise for a long list of brands on Twitter," Smith wrote in the memo. "I again heard a complaint from our business side about Pepsi, which was the first item in the list, and whose Twitter feed they were making content for during the Super Bowl."

Smith added that BuzzFeed decided that an editor writing about an ad produced by the site's creative team was "inappropriate." That post was deleted.

You can also read/listen to David's Folkenflik – and NPR's — past reporting on BuzzFeed here:

OMG, BuzzFeed Is Investing In Serious News Coverage! Is It FTW?

9 Powerful Moments In The Day Of A Viral Web Editor At BuzzFeed


The European Union is holding an emergency meeting Monday about the deadly capsizing of a boat crowded with would-be migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. With 28 survivors reported and 24 bodies recovered, only a fraction of the hundreds of people who were reportedly on board are accounted for.

The boat was about 120 miles south of the Italian island of Lampedusa when it capsized this weekend; it was roughly 60 miles from Libya. Estimates of the number of people who were on the 65-foot craft range from 700 to 950. The boat reportedly capsized after many of its passengers rushed to the same side.

From Rome, NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports:

"One survivor says there were 950 people on board, many locked in the hold by the human traffickers before departure. But Italian authorities say they cannot confirm the numbers on board.

"Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who has long been seeking more help and resources from Italy's European partners, has called for an emergency meeting of EU government leaders."

Today's EU meeting in Luxembourg comes as some 1,500 migrants are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean so far this year; more than 10,000 have been rescued. The foreign ministers' discussions are sure to center on who will bear responsibility for patrolling immigration routes and helping those in danger. The EU has run one such program since last fall, when Italy discontinued its larger operation.

This weekend's disaster stands to eclipse a similar event late in 2013, when 500 migrants had crammed onto a boat that caught fire and sank near Sicily. Officials estimated that up to 300 people died.

"We've had one and a half years now to talk about that and discuss that – and plan for that," says the UN High Commission for Human Rights' Laurens Jolles. "And only now we hear the EU and governments are all starting to discuss that and say, 'It's unacceptable, we have to do something.'"

Many of the smuggling boats have launched from Libya, fueled by a combination of upheaval and a lack of border controls. The passengers are often from a range of North African countries.

"The disaster comes only a week after 400 others were reported dead in a similar capsize near Lampedusa," as Scott wrote for The Two-Way Sunday.

For a sign of the state of things in Libya, consider that a newspaper headline on Sunday touted the pending return of roadway traffic lights in Benghazi.

"We have what is possibly becoming a failed state at our doorstep. We have criminal gangs having a heyday organizing these trips in rickety boats," Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tells the BBC. "We need to get the Libyan factions together to form some sort of government of almost national unity."





Martin O'Malley, former governor of Maryland, says he'll decide by late May if he's running for president. Running would put him — even he seems to acknowledge — in an uphill battle against Hillary Clinton, currently the only Democrat who's declared.

O'Malley is positioning himself to Clinton's left, and even President Obama's left.

It's All Politics

O'Malley, Possible Clinton Rival, Says A President Can't Let Polls Lead

He's for a much higher minimum wage, and against a major trade deal — the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep, O'Malley also said he wants to increase Social Security benefits, even though some people would pay more taxes.

Surveys put O'Malley far behind Clinton. But, he's hoping his travels across the country can change that. Last month, he addressed a crowd in Iowa while standing on a chair. Last week, he gave a speech at Harvard. And this week, he's in the early primary state of South Carolina.

"I've been an executive and a progressive executive with a record of accomplishments," the former Baltimore mayor said of the difference between him and Clinton. "I think contrasts will become apparent."

(A full transcript of the discussion is available here.)

Interview Highlights

On Republican and Democrats' competing economic theories

I think what's going on right now, Steve, is you have a competition between two theories of how our economy actually works and how we generate economic growth that lifts us all. The Republican Party is doubling down on this trickle-down theory that says thou shalt concentrate wealth at the very top of our society. Thou shalt remove regulation from wherever you find it, even on Wall Street. And thou shalt keep wages low for American workers so that we can be more competitive. We have a different theory. Our theory as Democrats and as the longer arc of our story as Americans is that we believe that a stronger middle class is actually the cause of economic growth. What ails our economy right now is 12 years of stagnant or declining wages, and we need to fix this.

On Republican candidates' focus on economic opportunity

I mean, look, talk is cheap. And so there are two ways to go forward from here, and history shows this. One path is a sensible rebalancing that calls us back to our tried and true success story as the land of opportunity. The other is pitchforks.

There's, history affords no other paths. We're either going to sensibly rebalance and do the things that allow our middle class to grow, that expands opportunities and allows workers to earn more when they're working harder. Or, we're going to go down a very, very bad path.

On whether large corporations are able to deal with regulation better than small businesses

Oh, certainly. I mean, our tax code's been turned into Swiss cheese. And certainly the concentrated wealth and accumulated power and the systematic deregulation of Wall Street has led to this situation where the economy isn't working for most of us. All of that is true. But it is not true that regulation holds poor people down or regulation keeps middle class from advancing. That's kind of patently bull——.

On the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal

Yeah, I do oppose it. What's wrong with it is first and foremost that we're not allowed to read it before our representatives vote on it. What's wrong with it is that right now what we should be doing are things that make our economy stronger here at home. And it's my concern that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, this deal is a race to the bottom, a chasing of lower wages abroad, and I believe that that does nothing to help us build a stronger economy here at home.


Hillary Clinton made a surprising move this week. It wasn't running for president — she'd already set the stage for that — but embracing the idea of a constitutional amendment to restrict or eliminate big money in politics.

The notion of amending the Constitution this way has been discussed, literally for decades. But Clinton is joining a new, if small, chorus of prominent politicians who are talking it up.

"We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccounted money out of it, once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment," she said to a gathering at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa.

Campaign finance reform is one of four pillars, "four big fights," of her campaign, she said, along with help for families and communities; a stronger, more balanced economy; and a strong national defense.

Activist groups have toiled for such an amendment since 2010, when the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision let corporate and union money directly into partisan politics.

Clinton spoke a few days after Republican Lindsey Graham's most recent comments on a possible amendment.

"The next president of the United States needs to get a commission of really smart people and find a way to create a constitutional amendment to limit the role of superPACs," said Graham, a senator from South Carolina who is weighing a presidential run. He was appearing on WMUR-TV in Manchester, N.H.

SuperPACs were created after Citizens United and a related appellate ruling, as political committees that raise unrestricted contributions from wealthy donors, corporations and unions. SuperPAC donors are publicly disclosed. Along with 501(c)(4) "social welfare" organizations, which have no disclosure as well as no contribution limits, superPACs are fueling the boom in bare-knuckle, lavishly financed campaigning by noncandidate, nonparty groups.

President Obama said yes to amending the Constitution in 2012, in a Q&A session on Reddit, and again last month, in an interview on the website Vox. "I would love to see some constitutional process that would allow us to actually regulate campaign spending, the way we used to, and maybe even improve it," he told Vox.

Campaign spending has been constitutionally protected since a 1976 Supreme Court decision known as Buckley v. Valeo. The justices said Congress could not regulate political spending, because it was tantamount to free speech. All subsequent attempts to control political money have had to work around the Buckley distinction between contributions and spending.

Former Democratic presidential candidate and New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley said as early as the 1990s that a constitutional amendment was needed to overturn Buckley. In 2012, he told NPR's Talk Of The Nation, "You need a constitutional amendment that says federal, state and local governments may limit the amount of money in a campaign."

But back to Clinton. At People for the American Way, one of the groups mobilizing for an amendment, Executive Vice President Marge Baker said Clinton's statement can help the effort.

"When the leading candidate for president says she's going to make reducing the influence of money in politics one of the four pillars in her campaign, you know that that's going to be a major issue in 2016," Baker said. "So this is a very, very big deal."

Clinton drew a charge of hypocrisy from Republican Gov. Chris Christie, of New Jersey. Not a declared presidential candidate, he was stumping in New Hampshire.

"She intends to raise $2.5 billion for her campaign. But she wants to then get the corrupting money out of politics," he said to laughter at a town hall meeting. "It's classic, right? It's classic politician-speak."

In Congress this year, lawmakers have introduced nine resolutions proposing constitutional amendments — typically proposing to restrict political spending, or bar corporate spending in politics, or overturn the Supreme Court's 129-year-old precedent of giving corporations the constitutional standing of people.

Republican leaders on Capitol Hill simply say nobody should mess with the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky made the point on the Senate floor last fall.

"If the Democrats who run Washington are so determined to force the Senate into debate over repealing the free speech protections of the First Amendment, then fine, let's have a full and proper debate," he said.

Democrats wanted a Senate vote on a constitutional amendment, and they got it. The proposal passed, 54 to 42 — 13 short of the two-thirds majority required for a proposed amendment. Ratification also requires a two-thirds vote in the House, and approval from 38 states.

Republican lawyer Trevor Potter has long worked for tougher campaign finance laws. He was the lawyer for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., when the Senate passed the McCain-Feingold bill in 2001. It's the last major campaign finance law to emerge from Congress. But now, Potter says a constitutional amendment poses problems that only start with ratification.

Potter said, "Beyond that is the issue of what is it that the amendment would say, and how would it be effective?"

These are questions of language that might go too far, or not far enough, or lie open to reinterpretation by future Supreme Courts.

So far, the answers don't satisfy all of big money's critics.

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