04 21 2015
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  • When should we use military to enforce US goals? NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Rand Paul lashed out Saturday at military hawks in the Republican Party in a clash over foreign policy dividing the packed GOP presidential field. Paul, a first-term senator from Kentucky who favors a smaller U.S. footprint in the world, said that some of his Republican colleagues would do more harm in international affairs than would leading Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The other Republicans will criticize the president and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy, but they would just have done the same thing — just 10 times over," Paul said on the closing day of a New Hampshire GOP conference that brought about 20 presidential prospects to the first-in-the-nation primary state. "There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now, maybe more," Paul said. Foreign policy looms large in the presidential race as the U.S. struggles to resolve diplomatic and military conflicts across the globe. The GOP presidential class regularly rails against President Barack Obama's leadership on the world stage, yet some would-be contenders have yet to articulate their own positions, while others offered sharply different visions. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother, President George W. Bush, authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, declined to say whether he would have done anything different then. Yet Jeb Bush acknowledged a shift in his party against new military action abroad. "Our enemies need to fear us, a little bit, just enough for them to deter the actions that create insecurity," Bush said earlier in the conference. He said restoring alliances "that will create less likelihood of America's boots on the ground has to be the priority, the first priority of the next president." The GOP's hawks were well represented at the event, led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has limited foreign policy experience but articulated a muscular vision during his Saturday keynote address. Walker said the threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism won't be handled simply with "a couple bombings." "We're not going to wait till they bring the fight to us," Walker said. "We're going to bring the fight to them and fight on their soil." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed the question of putting U.S. troops directly in the battle against the Islamic State group militants by saying there is only one way to defeat the militants: "You go over there and you fight them so they don't come here." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suggested an aggressive approach as well. "The way to defeat ISIS is a simple and clear military objective," he said. "We will destroy them." Businesswoman Carly Fiorina offered a similar outlook. "The world is a more dangerous and more tragic place when America is not leading. And America has not led for quite some time," she said. Under Obama, a U.S.-led coalition of Western and Arab countries is conducting regular airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. also has hundreds of military advisers in Iraq helping Iraqi security forces plan operations against the Islamic State, which occupies large chunks of northern and western Iraq. Paul didn't totally reject the use of military force, noting that he recently introduced a declaration of war against the Islamic State group. But in an interview with The Associated Press, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy. He singled out Russia and China, which have complicated relationships with the U.S., as countries that could contribute to U.S. foreign policy interests. "I think the Russians and the Chinese have great potential to help make the world a better place," he said. "I don't say that naively that they're going to, but they have the potential to." Paul suggested the Russians could help by getting Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. "Maybe he goes to Russia," Paul said. Despite tensions with the U.S., Russia and China negotiated alongside Washington in nuclear talks with Iran. Paul has said he is keeping an open mind about the nuclear negotiations. "The people who already are very skeptical, very doubtful, may not like the president for partisan reasons," he said, and "just may want war instead of negotiations."
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  • A number of the bills now before the Oregon State Legislature protect parties who have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault  
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  • Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about 'high stakes' tests   
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  • Watch Rachel Maddow interview VA Secretary Robert McDonald  
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NEW YORK (AP) -- NBC worked feverishly to spread the word about Bob Costas' exclusive interview with former assistant Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, who is accused of sexually assaulting boys, even as the two men were still on the phone together.

Their talk, broadcast Monday on the "Rock Center" newsmagazine, was part of a remarkable evening of news interviews on broadcast TV. It competed directly with Diane Sawyer's interview with U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on ABC, which was ABC's most-watched news show since the summer.

The riveting interview with Sandusky, who is accused of sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period, was a surprise even to Costas. The veteran NBC Sports anchor was in a Manhattan studio for an interview with Sandusky's lawyer, Joseph Amendola, when the lawyer said, "What if I can get Sandusky on the phone?" Costas said Tuesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"I'm thinking, `I wonder from your standpoint whether that's the smartest thing to do,' but at the same time, sure if you want to do it. Let's get him on the phone," said Costas, who declined an interview request with The Associated Press through a spokeswoman.

About 10 or 15 minutes later, the interview began.

NBC immediately faced a challenge in how to publicize an interview with three hours' notice, particularly given that few people watch NBC's prime-time lineup. The interview was taped starting about 6:30 p.m. EST, and while it was still happening, a producer called to a nearby studio where Brian Williams was anchoring "Nightly News" to make sure Williams promoted it before he got off the air, said Rome Hartman, "Rock Center" executive producer.

"Rock Center" staffers also began tweeting quotes from the interview almost as soon as they left Sandusky's mouth, and the show's blog was updated. A video clip of the interview was posted online by about 7:30 p.m., with all TV networks given permission to use it.

Ultimately, "Rock Center" was seen by 3.87 million viewers, Nielsen said, well behind the 13.4 million people who watched the well-promoted interview with Giffords. That still beat the 3.46 million people who watched "Rock Center" the previous Monday, and clips of the interview were widely disseminated and discussed on Tuesday.

With countless journalists looking to speak to Sandusky, it's not clear why Costas was chosen. Perhaps his work in sports made him a more familiar and comfortable choice for a man who was Joe Paterno's top defensive assistant for many years at Penn State.

As television, the interview was minimalist: Phone interviews are rarely seen on TV because of the lack of video. NBC ran some still pictures of Sandusky, but otherwise the camera focused largely on Costas' face.

Costas was blunt, often uncomfortably so.

"What about Mike McQueary, the grad assistant who in 2002 walked into the shower where he says in specific detail that you were forcibly raping a boy who appeared to be 10 or 11 years old?" Costas asked. "That his hands were up against the shower wall and he heard rhythmic slap, slap, slapping sounds and he described it as rape?"

Sandusky answered that it was false.

Costas also asked specifically about touching boys' genitals and performing oral sex.

"There's no way to sanitize it," Hartman said. "If you do, you do a disservice to the viewers."

Perhaps the most arresting moment came when Costas asked Sandusky if he was sexually attracted to underage boys. Sandusky at first repeated the question, then said: "I enjoy young people. I love to be around them," before denying sexual attraction.

"I'll let the viewer infer what they want from that, but it was somewhat odd," Costas said on "Morning Joe."

Dona Hayes, chairwoman of Syracuse University's broadcast and digital journalism program, said she thought Costas did an outstanding job with the interview.

"He was respectful of the ongoing legal process, but at the same time he asked the pointed questions that echoed what many fair-minded people, in Costas' words, were thinking and asking," Hayes said.

Costas didn't sensationalize, attack or dismiss Sandusky, wrote Jeff Labrecque of Entertainment Weekly on Tuesday. "He stuck to the facts, and let Sandusky's words - and silences - do his work for him," he said.

It could be a defining moment for the Williams-hosted "Rock Center," in only its third episode and struggling in the ratings.

"This helped put us on the map," Hartman said. "It's not as if we were flying under the radar, but you need to give people a reason to watch if you're a new program."

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