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tv   Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen Testifies on the Economic Outlook  CSPAN  November 17, 2016 10:00am-1:31pm EST

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cowboys got to together in a bar and exchange a few words and never understood what they were saying but at one point they would tear each other down and start shooting. so my uncle formed that impression that that's what americans would do to you, shoot you, if you looked them in the eye. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. we are live this morning on capitol hill where federal reserve chair janet yellen has just arrived to testify on interest rates and the economy. she is expected to say that an interest rate hike could come relatively soon as she appears this morning before the joint economic committee. live coverage here on c-span 3. her testimony expected momentarily.
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>> excuse me. the committee will come to order. we're welcoming this morning chair yellen, federal reserve chairman. i would like to just announce to my colleagues and many of them will be filing in shortly, we have a hard stop at noon. both for the chairman's sake and we have a senate vote at noon, so we're doing everything we can as chair to get everybody the opportunity to ask questions of the chair, but to my colleagues,
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it's a hard stop, so we're not going to be able to go beyond that time frame. the joint economic committee has a long tradition of receiving regular updates from the chair of the federal reserve. and we're pleased to hear the chair's insights once again before the congress adjourns for this cycle in 2016. while we have seen some encouraging metrics of economic performance over the past year, the next congress and the next administration will still face a number of challenges. eight years after a deep recession, we're still looking for a higher rate of gdp growth, stronger productivity growth and increased work opportunities, especially for prime age workers. low interest rates have historically been the prescribed treatment for a weak economy. however, the past seven years have clearly taught us that low interest rates alone cannot cure an ailing economy.
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in response to this continuing challenge of stimulating growth to a more desired level, there seems to be a growing consensus forming that tax and regulatory reforms plus fiscal stimulus measures such as targeted infrastructure initiatives may be necessary ingredients or perhaps are necessary ingredients to incentivize capital investment in gdp growth. as we pursue these policy changes, we also have to be mindful of a nearly $20 trillion national debt that looms ominously over the u.s. economy. where debt to gdp stood at 39.3% in 2008, it will total 76.6% by the end of this year according to the cbo analysis and climb to 85.5% over the next 10 years. we look forward to hearing the chair's thoughts on this economic outlook as well as the types of policies that congress
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perhaps should be looking at and considering during this time of change. i now recognize ranking member for her opening statement. >> thank you. thank you so much, mr. chairman, and for your leadership. this is likely the last hearing of the joint economic committee in 114th congress, and i would like to sincerely thank chairman coats for his stewardship of the jec and for holding a number of very interesting hearings that have generated excellent discussion. i would also like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and to welcome martin as the ranking member on the democratic side and to express my appreciation to ranking on rules. i'm particularly pleased that we're ending on a very high note with federal reserve chair janet
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yellen. chair yellen, i think it's fair to say that all my colleagues warmly welcome you to this hearing and look forward to hearing your thoughts at this critical time. i would like to begin by thank you for your leadership of the federal reserve. the fed has played a critical role in helping our country recover from the worst recession since the great depression. your steady hand has built on the work of your predecessor and has guided the economy forward and we thank you. much has changed since you appeared before the committee about a year ago. the economy has continued to strengthen. the labor market has continued to improve. wage growth has been the strongest since the recession. household income has had the largest annual increase since census began tracking this data. inflation has edged up but remains below the fed's 2% target. these are among the tea leaves
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of the economy and everyone here is eager to find out how you read them. up until very recently, it was widely assumed that the federal open market committee would raise interest rates at its next meeting less than a month from today. some of your past statements have indicated that this is a possibility or even a goal. but then came a thunder bolt on november 8. many critical changes about our country changed literally overnight and our world has been turned upside down. the question everyone would like to know is how the federal reserve will steer through the days ahead. one particular challenge is that the president-elect has called for policies that may have countervailing effects. history has shown us that the type of tax cuts candidate trump has proposed disproportionately benefit those who don't need them and dramatically increase our national debt.
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i'm also curious to see how president-elect's trump infrastructure plan be reconciled with congress' past opposition to fiscal stimulus. that leads to uncertainty for markets, businesses and the economy overall. one constant hope that i have is that we can count on is monetary policy that remains insulated from political attack and attempts to mettle in any way with the federal reserve's independence. the election could also have a direct affect on the fed itself. the president elect's comments on this subject have been somewhat contradictory. he thinks both the current low interest rates are good for the economy and that the fed has been political at keeping them at these levels. in congress, some have called for revolutionary changes for the federal reserve. changes that would affect the
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very nature of the institution. changes that in my opinion would lead to disaster. for those who would like to restrict the independence of the federal reserve, i think it's important to briefly review that immense benefit of an independent federal reserve. we have only to look back at a few years when president obama took office, he inherited what former fed chairman ben bernanke called and i quote "the worst financial crisis in global history including the great depression." the federal reserve quickly acted to lower rates to almost zero and has held them there for about eight years. it instituted several rounds of quantitative easing to further stimulate the economy. this action by the independent federal reserve was critical to
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our recovery. economists found that efforts by the federal reserve and obama administration with support from democrats in congress dramatically reduced the severity and length of the great depression and recession and prevented a depression. with control of the legislative and executive branches, past republican efforts to limit the fed's independence may gain momentum. last year republicans in the house passed legislation. the form act that would fundamentally hamper the fed's ability to conduct monetary policy. it would limit the fed's independence by forcing it to determine target interest rates using a mathematical formula while ignoring a broad range of important economic indicators. chair yellen, as you noted before, if the fed had been
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forced to follow such a rule in recent years, "millions of americans would have suffered unnecessary spells of joblessness over this period." another proposal to try to maximize employment and instead focus solely on inflation. i'm not sure that people in michigan and pennsylvania and other states would respond well to that suggestion. but if that's the conversation my colleagues want to have, then we'll be ready to have it. the past nine plus years have been an extraordinary period in the u.s. economic history. we should continue to study and learn from it. we are not out of the woods by any stretch. when the next recession hits, as it surely will, what will the monetary response look like? will the fed have the tools to restore growth? will it turn to quantitative
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easing? what other effective policy tools will the federal reserve have at its disposal? i want to make one final point. the federal reserve has been at the center of the u.s. and global economic recovery. efforts to hamstring the fed are misguided just as efforts to politicize it are wrong headed. chair yellen, thank you for appearing before the joint economic committee today. we look forward to your testimony. thank you. >> it's now my privilege to introduce to you chair of the board of governors, janet yellen has long experience at the federal reserve. including four years as vice chair of the board of governors and six years as president and chief executive officer of the federal reserve bank of san francisco. she previously served as chair of the counscil of economic
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advisers and economic cooperation and development. chair yellen earned her ph.d. in economics from yale university and is also professor ameritous at the university of california at berkeley. it is my pleasure, chair, to introduce you as our witness today and to thank you for your always assessable presence before this committee. you have been someone that's been a delight to work with and to get your guidance in terms of the direction that we think the fed needs to take in order to assure our public that there's a steady hand at the helm. we thank you for coming this morning. we look forward to your testimony, and then we'll have questions from our committee. >> thank you for those kind comments. it's my pleasure to be here. chairman coats, ranking member maloney, and members of the
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committee, i appreciate the opportunity to testify before you today. i will discuss the current economic outlook and monetary policy. the u.s. economy has made further progress this year toward the federal reserve's dual mandate objectives of maximum employment and price stability. job gains averaged 180,000 per month from january through october. a somewhat slower pace than last year but still well above the estimates of the pace necessary to absorb new entrants to the labor force. the unemployment rate, which stood at 4.9% in october has held relatively steady since the beginning of the year. the stability of the unemployment rate combined with above trend job growth suggests that the u.s. economy has had a bit more room to run than
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anticipated earlier. this favorable outcome has been reflected in the labor force participation rate, which has held steady this year despite an underlying downward trend stemming from the ageing of the u.s. population. while above trend growth of the labor force in employment cannot continue indefinitely, they're nonetheless appears to be scope for some further improvement in the labor market. the unemployment rate is still a little above the median of federal open market committee participants estimates of its longer run level. involuntary part-time employment remains elevated relative to historical norms. further employment gains may help support labor force participation as well as wage gains. indeed, there are some signs that the pace of wage growth has stepped up recently. while the improvements in the
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labor market over the past year have been widespread across racial and ethnic groups, it's troubling that unemployment rates for african-americans and hispanics remain higher than the nation overall. and annual income of median african-american household is still well below the median income of other u.s. households. meanwhile, u.s. economic growth appears to have picked up from its subdued pace earlier this year. after rising at an annual rate of just 1% in the first half of this year, inflation adjusted gross domestic product is estimated to have increased nearly 3% in the third quarter. in part, the pickup reflected some rebuilding of inventories and a surge in soybean exports. in addition, consumer spending has continued to post moderate gains supported by solid growth
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and real disposable income, upbeat consumer confidence, low borrowing rates and the ongoing effects of earlier increases in household wealth. by contrast, business investment has remained relatively soft. in part because of the drag on outlays for drilling and mining structures that resulted from earlier declines in oil prices. manufacturing output continues to be restrained by weakness and economic growth abroad and by the appreciation in the u.s. dollar over the past two years. while new housing construction has been subdued in recent quarters despite rising prices, the underlying fundamentals including lean stock of homes for sale and improving labor market and the low level of mortgage rates are favorable for a pickup. turning to inflation, overall
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consumer prices as measured by the price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 1.25% over 12 months ending in september. a somewhat higher pace than earlier this year but still below the 2% objective. much of this shortfall continues to reflect earlier declines in energy prices and in prices of nonenergy imports. core inflation, which excludes the more volatile energy and food prices, intends to be a better indicator of future overall inflation has been running closer to 1.75%. with regard to the outlook, i expect economic growth to continue at a moderate pace. sufficient to generate some further strengthening in labor market conditions and a return to the committee's 2% objective
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over the next couple of years. this judgment reflects my view that monetary policy remains moderate accommodative and that ongoing job gains along with low oil prices should continue to support household purchases power and therefore consumer spending. in addition, global economic growth should firm, supported by accommodative monetary policies abroad. as the labor market strengthens further and the transitory influences holding down inflation fade, i expect inflation to rise to 2%. i will turn now to the implications of recent economic developments and the economic outlook for monetary policy. the stance of monetary policy has supported improvement in the labor market this year along with the return of inflation towards the fmoc's 2% objective.
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in september, the committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at .25 to .50%. the target rate has strengthened but it would wait for further evidence of continued progress toward its objectives. at our meeting earlier this month, the committee judged that the case for an increase in the target range had continued to strengthen and that such an increase could well become appropriate relatively soon if income and data provides some further evidence of continued progress toward objectives. this judgment recognized progress in the labor market has continued and that economic activity has picked up from the modest pace seen in the first half of this year. and inflation, while still below
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the committee's 2% objective, has increased somewhat since earlier this year. furthermore, the committee judged that near term risk to the outlook were roughly balanced. waiting for further evidence does not reflect a lack of confidence in the economy. rather with unemployment rate remaining steady this year, despite above trend job gains, and with inflation continuing to run below its target, the committee judged there was somewhat more room for the labor market to improve on a sustainable basis than the committee had anticipated at the beginning of the year. nonetheless, the committee must remain forward looking in setting monetary policy. were the fmoc to delay increases in the federal fund rate for too long it could end up having to tighten policy relatively
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abruptly to keep the economy from significantly overshooting both of the committee's longer run policy goals. moreover, holding the federal funds rate at its current level for too long could also encourage excessive risk taking and ultimately undermine financial stability. they continue to expect that evolution of the economy will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate over time to achieve and maintain maximum employment and price stability. this assessment is based on the view that the neutral federal funds rate, meaning the rate that is neither expandary or contractary, appears to be low by historical standards. consistent with this view growth
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in spending has been moderate despite support from the low level of the federal rate and holder of longer term securities. with the federal funds rate currently only somewhat below estimates of the neutral rate, the stance of monetary policy is likely moderately accommodative, which is appropriate to foster further progress toward fmoc's objectives but because it's only moderately accommodative, the risk of falling behind the curve in the near future appears limited and gradual increases in the federal funds rate will likely be sufficient to get to a neutral policy stance over the next few years. of course the economic outlook is inherently uncertain and as always, the appropriate path to the federal funds rate will change in response to changes to the outlook and associated
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risks. thank you. i would be pleased to answer your questions. >> chair yellen, thank you for your opening statement. something caught my attention during that statement that i hadn't in reading your statement earlier hadn't caught my attention. you stated that the case for an increase in the prime rate relatively soon unless -- the word unless that perked me up a bit -- further evidence indicated to the contrary. my question to you are the results of the election and does that fall in the category of unless and what does fmoc look at that in terms of the decision that the case for an increase is still relatively soon? >> well, my own judgment is look
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at incoming economic data and developments thus far affecting the outlook that the evidence we have seen since we met in november is consistent with our expectation of strengthening growth and improving labor market, inflation moving up so we indicated that the case had strengthened for an increase in the federal funds rate and to my mind, the evidence we've seen since that time remains consistent with the judgment the committee reached in november. now, obviously there are many economic policies that congress and the administration will be considering in the months and years to come and when there is greater clarity about the economic policies that might be put into effect, the committee
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will have to factor those assessments of their impacts on employment and inflation and perhaps adjust our outlook depending on what happens so many factors over time affect the economic outlook and the appropriate stance of policy that's needed to achieve our dual mandate employment and inflation objectives but at this stage, i do think that the economy is making very good progress toward our goals and that the judgment the committee reached in november still pertains. >> thank you. you suggested publicly that fiscal policy should play a role in stimulating economic growth. as i mentioned in my opening statement, any new economic growth initiatives envisioned by the next congress and the next administration should include a
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full accounting of its potential effects on the economy. from your perspective, how would you balance the need to promote economic growth with a realities associated with deficit spending and high and rising debt? i assume we're looking at some type of a balance there. how can that be achieved? >> it's clearly up to congress and the administration to weigh costs and benefits of fiscal policies that you will be considering. my advice would be that several principles should be taken into account as you make these judgments. first of all, although -- first of all, the economy is operating relatively close to full employment at this point. so in contrast to where the economy was after the financial
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crisis when a large demand boost was needed to lower unemployment, we're no longer in that state. you mentioned longer term fiscal outlook, cbo's assessment as you know is that there are longer term fiscal challenges that debt to gdp ratio at this point looks likely to rise as the baby boomers retire and population ageing occurs and that longer run deficit needs to be kept in mind. in addition with debt to gdp ratio at around 77%, there's not a lot of fiscal space should a shock to the economy occur, an adverse shock, that did require fiscal stimulus. i think what's been very
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disappointing about the economy's performance over the last really since the financial crisis or maybe going back before that is the pace of productivity growth has been exceptionally slow. the last five years a half percent per year. the last decade 1.25% per year. the previous two decades before that were about a percentage point higher and that's what ultimately determines the pace of improvement and living standards so my advice would be as you consider fiscal policies to keep in mind and look carefully at the impact those policies are likely to have on the economy's productive capacity on productivity growth and to the maximum extent possible, choose policies that would improve that long run
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growth and productivity outlook. >> thank you. my time has expired. i'm going to turn to congresswoman maloney for her questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your service. we will miss you. thank you. can you envision any circumstances where you would not serve out your term as chair of the federal reserve? >> no, i cannot. i was confirmed by the senate to a four-year term, which ends at the end of january of 2018, and it is fully my intention to serve out that term. >> thank you. the election outcome introduced new uncertainties that the markets and private sector had not expected and priced in and how do these uncertainties
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affect the fed's decision in the next meeting? >> the markets try to anticipate what policies congress and the administration will put into effect and we have seen some significant market moves since the election in particular longer term treasury yields erupt about 40 basis points and the dollar is strengthened about 3.5% brought index. my interpretation would be that markets are anticipating that you will ultimately choose a fiscal package that involves a net expansionary stance of policy and that in context of an economy that is operating reasonably close to maximum
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employment with inflation hitting back toward 2% that such a package could have inflationary consequences that the fed would have to take into account in devising policy and that the market response is consistent with that view. so from our point of view, we don't know what's going to happen. there's a great deal of uncertainty. right now i've tried to offer you my assessment of where the economy is and what policy response is appropriate in the months ahead given my current assessment. we will be watching the decisions congress makes and updating our economic outlook as the policy landscape becomes clearer and taking into account that those shifts in the
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economic outlook for the appropriate stance of policy but i think that is how i would interpret the market response but things could turn out very differently we understand and we will simply watch what decisions are made and factor them into our thinking going forward. >> does the lack of information warrant a delay in raising the interest rate say until the january meeting when you'll have more information? >> well, my guess is that uncertainty about these matters will last for some considerable time and we have had an accommodative monetary policy. i do think and the committee has said for a long time that gradual increases in the federal funds rate are likely to be
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appropriate to promote our objectives and my assessment of where the economy is and how it's been operating and the fact that near term risks do seem reasonably balanced. i would think the judgment that the committee reached in november remains the appropriate one. >> and chair yellen, one of the most significant responses to the financial crisis was passage of the dodd/frank law. today, as a result of this law, the financial system is stronger, safer, and more stable. how do you feel about repealing dodd/frank? >> well, i agree with your assessment. we live through a devastating financial crisis.
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a high priority for all americans should be that we want to see put in place safeguards through supervision and regulation that result in a safer and sounder financial system. i think we have been doing that and our system as a consequence is safer and sounder. many of the appropriate reforms are embodied in dodd/frank. we now have much higher capital than before the crisis. much more stringent liquidity requirements. derivatives, standardized derivatives are now subject to central clearing and derivatives both cleared and uncleared are subject to margin requirements that increase their safety. we have a new orderly liquidation authority.
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we're focusing on resolution through an ending too big to fail through the living wills process which i think is really changing the mindset of large financial firms about how they need to run their businesses and making them safer and sounder and dodd/frank placed considerable emphasis on financial stability. we now have a group that meets all of the regulators to consider threats to financial stability. i think dodd/frank was very important in fostering those changes and we should feel glad that our financial system is now operating on a safer and sounder footing. >> thank you. my time has expired, but i just have to ask you very quickly, do you have concerns that the repeal would make another financial crisis more likely?
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>> i certainly would not want to see all of the improvements that we have put in place. i wouldn't want to see the clock turn back on those because i do think they're important in diminishing the odds of another financial crisis. >> thank you for your service. >> thank you. >> thank you, congresswoman. our vice chairman. >> thank you, chairman. i'm bookended by two individuals who are going to retire at the end of this session and it's been an honor and privilege to serve with both of you. mr. hannah brought business expertise and chairman, if there were a picture in the dictionary of indiana nice, you would be that picture. it's been an honor and privilege to serve with you. you will be missed. i'm comforted by knowing only that your replacement, todd young, is as nice and as smart
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as you. great successor. >> he's actually smarter. but thank you for the compliment. >> thank you. honor to serve with you here. chair yellen, honor to have you here. thank you for your time. a story this month in "the wall street journal" reported that for the first time in more than 30 years banks, credit unions and other depository institutions share of the mortgage market fell below 50% because of bank's aversion to risk and fear of legal and regulatory issues. while some lending has increased, banks have shifted clearly to jumbo mortgages and borrowers who have the best credit. loans to small businesses have lagged and new rules for credit cards may be hindering lending as well. president-elect trump has said that dodd/frank is and i quote, "a tremendous burden to the banks." he expressed concerns that banks are unable to lend to people who actually need it. people who want to start a new
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business or expand a current business, which has made us less competitive and has slowed growth. his view is shared by many community bankers, by small and medium sized business owners and by many economists across our country. further, the gao just released a study of the federal reserve's bank stress test procedures and had 15, as you know, recommendations for making improvements that go beyond what the governor recently outlined as next steps. chair, what are your responses with respect to the following issues? the current state of bank lending? the constraining effects of regulation generally and stress tests in particular and finally the impact on the economy's ability to grow and create jobs. one last thing, do you plan on adopting the gao stress test recommendations on improving transparency, model design and management and cost benefit
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analysis and any of that that i asked, if you can't respond to today, i certainly understand. if you could apply in writing, i would appreciate it. >> let me take a shot at replying and if there's something i don't cover, i will be glad to respond. let me start by saying something about the burdens on community banks. community banks play a very important role in our economy, in lending, in understanding the conditions in their communities and providing lending that supports economic growth and it's really critical that they be able to function and to thrive. we recognize -- we talk to community bankers regularly and recognize that the burdens that they're operating under are significant and want to do
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everything we can to reduce those burdens and simplify the compliance regime for those banks. we've taken many steps on our own to reduce the burdens of our supervision and we're contemplating ourselves, regulators working on possible proposals for a simplified capital regime that would apply to smaller community banks so i completely agree those banks play a critical role, and we need to focus on reducing burden. now, of the dodd/frank rules, many of them apply particularly to the largest financial institutions, and the most significant increases in capital requirements including surcharges for the largest capital surcharges, for the
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largest firms that create the greatest systemic risk, the burdens of stress tests and other regulatory requirements fall on those firms that i do think pose potential threats to financial stability and it is important that those institutions maintain higher standards of safety and soundness. you mentioned the stress test. they have been central to the federal reserve's efforts to increase capital and ensure that capital planning in large systemic financial institutions, that capital planning takes into
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account an accurate assessment of the risks that could strike banks. the gao in their review found generally that our stress tests are affective, are useful. they suggested some changes, many of which we had already considered or had under way and their suggestions are useful and we intend to take them up or look carefully at it so it was a very useful report but lot om line it concluded that our stress testing regime has resulted in a very substantial improvement to safety and soundness. i should say that we recently put out a new regulation that will reduce the burden of the stress testing regime on
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institutions between 10 billion and 250 billion in size. i guess 50 billion and 250 billion, that those institutions will no longer be subject to the qualitative part of our so-called capital review process that we will no longer object to capital distributions based on qualitative evaluation of their capital planning process, that we will look at their capital planning process through normal supervisor methods, and i think that will serve to reduce burden on a number of large but smaller institutions subject to the stress test and finally, you asked me about bank lending and mortgages. i think certainly mortgage credit standards have tightened
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up and there are borrowers who are finding it difficult with lower credit ratings to obtain mortgage credit. i think it is a consequence of the financial crisis, regulations and greater caution on the part of lenders. i think we wouldn't want to go back to the mortgage lending standards that we had between -- we had in the first decade of this century that led to the financial crisis, but they certainly have increased on small business lending, i think my assessment there would be it remains largely available and that banks find -- this is something you also see in surveys -- that the demand for lending -- for borrowing by small businesses has not been very robust in recent years. in part, i think they see their
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sales are not growing sufficiently rapidly to justify much borrowing. certainly the community banks and other banks that we talk to and monitor suggest that they stand ready and have adequate resources to support additional lending to smaller businesses, but there is a question there as to whether that is a demand or supply issue. >> thank you, congressman. i have just been alerted that the house has been called for a vote, which may scramble. we would love for you to vote and come back. we'll keep your place in line. those of -- my senators as i look down the line are smiling because that means they move up on the list. let's see.
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senator, you're next on the list. vote. come back. we would love to have you back. we'll keep you on the list. >> thank you very much. madam chair, just to follow up on the questions on community banks, i appreciated that, you and i have discussed that many times. i think i'll put some additional questions on the record. as you know i'm concerned about the status of community banks and what's been happening the last few years. i want to start out with a question about the importance of independence for the central bank. i know you can't comment on political goings on but can you comment on the importance of preserving the independence of the federal reserve bank from interference by the executive branch, legislative branch, and what that would mean for monetary policy effectiveness if there wasn't a sense of
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independence to the bank. >> thank you for that question. i think independence by a central bank to make tactical decisions about implementation of monetary policy subject to a congressional mandate, which we have. obviously we are accountable to congress. we're a creature of congress. congress has established goals for us of price stability. it's critically important that a central bank have the ability to make judgments about how best to pursue those goals while being accountable for explaining its decisions and transparent in its decision making. central banks around the world in recent decades have gained this independence and the economic outcomes that have
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resulted from this trend toward central bank independence, we have seen much better macro economic performance. >> that's showing that banks that have a sense of independence there have been improvements in those countries? >> clear evidence of better outcomes in countries where central banks can take the long view, are not subject to short-term political pressures, and sometimes central banks need to do things that are not immediately popular for the health of the economy, and we've really seen terrible economic outcomes in countries where central banks have been subject to political pressure. often it's the case when a country is not able to balance its budget, is running large deficits, is finding it hard to finance those deficits, how can you finance it? you realize you can go to the
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central bank and force it to buy the debt that's being issued. the story in every country that experience every high or hyperer inflation is one where a central bank has been forced to follow the dictates of government that is compromised its independence so markets come expect low and stable inflation from a central bank that has political independence and good economic performance and i believe we have seen that both in the united states and globally. >> thank you. you know, we have the fed dual goal of maximum employment and price stability. there have been some talk out there of just eliminating one of the goals and focusing on price stability. and there's also been comments of the fed targeting a certain growth rate for the economy. what do you think that would be the effect of that either limit
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the feds focus to stabilizing prices and get rid of the other part of the dual mandate or putting in targeting a certain growth rate? so i am a strong b the fed's dual mandate. it was congress's decision and it is up to congress what our mandate should be. but i believe that both of these -- both price stability, having that low and stable and employment mattered greatly to the american people. they both impact the welfare of households and individuals in this economy to a great extent. i think they are both appropriate goals. price stability is a goal of every central bank. it also takes employment or real side performance into account in
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achieving it. now i would say really there is rarely any u conflict between pursuing these two objectives. so it's not common ly the case that they could be in conflict, but most of the time they are not. and if you think about what we have faced, the federal rezerse and aftermath of the crisis we have had very high u unemployment that we wanted to bring down as rapidly as possible and inflation that has been almost consistent ly ly be our 2% objective. so our efforts to put in place a highly accommodative policy were directed toward achieving both of those goals. they have not been in conflict. with respect to a growth rate objective, we can't independently if we are to achieve our inflation objective
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simply choose some ash trailly chosen objective and try to achieve it. if we try to do that and it's one that's not consistent with the underlying productive potential of the economy and the economy's ability to grow based on changes in technology and capital and labor over time, we would end up with an economy that either has inflation that's above acceptable levels or conceivably deflation if the target were chosen too low. >> thank you very much. i will ask my questions on the record, mr. chair, on infrastructure, funding the effect and the economy and then also the positive of doing that and then income inequality and some of your views on that. thank you very much.
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>> senator, thank you. i know the members of the committee will miss your presence in the future as you are moving on to greater responsibilities. >> i may still be on the committee, but my presence in the front of the line. thank you. >> congressman hanna? >> we talked about dodd-frank. prior to dodd-frank, the federal reserve took responsibility for the safety and soundness of money as well as consumer protection oversight. dodd-frank moved that over to the cfpd and yet 2015 "the l.a. times" reported that wells fargo would cross selling pressures on consumer bankers was encouraged and encouraging fraud. wells fargo paid $185 million in fines. i know this is somewhat of a
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hypothetical so dodd-frank with whoever is doing this, do you think it would have been any different had it been left with the federal reserve? >> well, we have cooperated historically with other regulatory agencies to engage in examinations and in this case the consumer financial protection bureau was involved. the controller at the currency most of the abuses that occurred were in the national bank where the controller of the currency also has responsibilities that's been historically true. so they did find these problems. they have levied significant fines and put in pl ac
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enforcement actions to correct them. we in 2011 looked at a subsidiary we were then responsible for, which was the independent mortgage company and found abuses which we fined wells fargo for and put in actions. we have all worked together pretty constructively to try to address abuses. i mean, i would say that we go forward in the institutions that we supervise our state member banks are locking to see if there are similar practices that could cause problems and with l holding companies we we
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supervise we are going to take in the a thorough review of compliance practices, but u we work collaboratively with the other agencies. >> dodd-frank -- >> and so i wouldn't want to. >> previous returns were discussed and how do you take into account how does that it take that into account when they consider all the things they
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look at. it is somewhat like consumer debt out there. this trillion dollar number that is haunting and hanging over everyone's head. how does the fed think about it going forward? >> so we have been very attentive to trends in student debt. and as you say, it really has escalated to an extraordinary degree. it was trying to determine whether or not student debt burdens might be impeding household formation. household formation has been very low. the number of young people who were purchasing new single family homes has been quite depressed. and we have seen less of a recovery in the housing sector and pickup in housing starts
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then we would have expected multifamilies been quite strong, but single family construction has been depressed. there are a number of factors that are contributing to that and there are some research that suggests student debt is a factor that is lead iing to the decision to reduce willingness of millennials to buy single family homes. they are marrying later, getting more education, living more in cities, have more student debt, it's difficult to sort out exactly what the most important drivers are, but that could be one of them. >> thank you. we spend time figuring out
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things that are obvious. but thank you for your time today. >> thank you. wonderful to be with you here today. and thank you for taking the time and i certainly know that you understand that it politics shapes american democracy and sometimes very unpredictable ways. we have to be prepared for that it unpredictability. and in times of uncertainty and change, one thing that always seems clear, but always stands out is that it americans care about the economy. usually first and foremost. they are concerned about their pocket boks, futures, good jobs, growth, better chance for their children and while politics that shape our democracy don't always follow any kind of predictable pattern, all of us need measure
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of stability and certainty be it markets, consumers, savers, spenders, retirees, young professionals, the list goes on. thankfully to paraphrase president obama, the federal government remains an ocean liner, not a speedboat, but there remains a a level of uncertainty about the term of fiscal policies in this nation. it must continue to be a balance and compliment to fiscal policies of the federal government. i also think that unfounded accusations that the federal reserve monetary policies are somehow political in nature can be one of the most damaging claims that can happen in a modern democracy.
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the credibility of the federal reserve is a very dangerous action that may be difficult to undo once it is out there. i don't believe these are abstract discussions of the potential for undermining the essential bank will have a direct impact on the economy and ultimately on our constituents become home. i believe members of congress have the added responsibility of elected officials to uphold these important norms that have guided our countries for decades. with that, i would urge my fellow policymakers here in both the legislative and executive branches to exercise caution and prudence when it comes to these it times of criticisms. but turning to a question, chairman yellen, i believe one of the greatest challenges we face in our banking system today is cyber security. from a consumer level to commercial level to a level of
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global banking system, we face tremendous threats every single day, as i know you are well aware u. the warning signs are evident. one was in february 2016. hackers stole $81 million from bangladesh central bank by sending false payment requests to the new york federal reserve. since this hack was first reported, additional breaches have been uncovered including attacks in vietnam, ecuador and more. they have been through the swift society for worldwide inner bank telecommunications used worldwide by more than 11,000 financial institutions. . not to speak ill of swift. but rather to illustrate on a global level that we are only as strong as our weakest link when it comes to cyber security. in august of this year, i wrote president obama to put the topic
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of international cyber security on the g-20 agenda and in the months followed i am pleased that the group of seven introduced seven principles for private firms and government agencies to follow. i continue to believe this is an issue that we must do in a collaborative and international matter. so my question to you is what steps is the federal reserve taken to ensure both international cyber security as well as cyber security of financial institutions overseas. you will be playing a a central role and will continue to play u a corral role. what assurances can you give us? >> let me start by saying that i agree very much with your assessment. this is one of the most significant risks our country faces and we are cooperating with the regulators as you indicated internationally working with the g-7 cooperate rating with financial institutions to make sure that
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we have a system that is prepared to deal with cyber security risks. we are very focused on this in our own operations and i can provide you more details if you are interested in the various things that we're doing to make sure that our own systems are safe we are also working with financial institutions to make sure that the controls that they have in place are appropriate. it's a key part of our supervision. we recently put out in advanced notice of proposed rule make in and for those that are really interconnected where a problem could spill over to the entire
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financial system, we are proposing the very highest standards that those firms should meet given the fact they u could be a source of vulnerability to the larger financial system. but i would say that while we're focused on this in our own supervision and we're working closely with other financial regulators and with the u.s. treasury has taken the lead here. this is something that congress needs to look at very carefully. it's not just the matter of the fed and financial institutions. risks involve merchants and others involved in the economy and it's a very broad threat that we alone are not able to dole with adequately. i hope you'll stay involved. >> i will on that. i look forward to taking you up on your offer to have more discussion as to what is happening at the federal
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reserve. i serve on commerce and homeland security committee so all of this merges together. and this is as you stated yourself the most significant threat e we face is cyber security. i look forward to working with you. >> thank you. >> okay, well, members coming back to visit the process of going forward here. i think you're between votes. we're going to give you your five minutes. >> one of the controversial things the federal reserve and i'm going to ask you about this. last time we were in a crisis, you bought a lot of mortgage-backed securities. correct? >> we did. >> do you feel you paid above
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value? >> no, we always purchase securities in the open market at market prices. >> okay. >> we are only allowed to purchase treasury and agency securities. >> how do you describe mortgage backed securities? >> those are agency securities. they are issued by fannie and freddie. >> so you consider that a government bond? >> it's an agency bond. those are permissible investments for us. we buy securities in the open market in a bid uing process and auction process that we purchased at market prices.
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>> those mortgage backed securities, do they have a face value? or i guess i'll describe it that way. a value as if say all the mortgages would be paid in full? >> they do have a face value. then they trade in the market and prices can deviate from those face values. >> and when you were purchasing them, what were you paying compared to the face value? >> i honestly don't have -- we have published that information. i u don't have that information. >> do you have a wild guess? maybe it's an unfair question. 90%? 80%? >> we would have been paying market prices for securities at that time. >> i know, but was that 70% of
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face? i realize you don't know exactly, but you must know about. >> i don't think the discounts were nearly that deep, but i may be wrong. >> okay. that's my final question. >> thank you. senator lee? >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. and thank you chair yellen for being with us today. in 2013, there were 12 banks, as i understand it, that controlled 69% of the industry assets. and i think we have been seeing market increase in the share of revenues concentrated in a relative ly small handful of firms. i see you're nodding. i assume that means you would not disagree with that. >> i believe that's true. >> we learned from that study
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that it there were some 33,000 fewer business establishments in the finance and insurance industry than there were in 2007. so over that it five-year period, we saw 33,000 business entities that it left the market where we're sconsolidated into something else. i think it's worth evaluating the problems that in increasingly concentrated and potentially less competitive banking sector might pose. especially in light of some of the concerns surrounding the too big to fail concern. so let me ask you this. the concentration of power, the concentration of market share within the financial industry. what risk do you think that
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might pose to our overall financial stability? >> so large interconnected, complex firms, it's not just a question of size, but size is part of it. but other characteristics matter too. their distress or failure could pose significant risks to financial stability and a great deal of our regulatory and supervisory response since the financial crisis has been directed at those firms that do pose systemic risks. and we have imposed much higher capital standards and capital standards for individual firms that reflect our assessment of the individual risks that each
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of those systemic firms poses to our financial system. because of the risk they pose, they need to have a lower probability of distress to be better managed, have more liquidity u, to have resolution plans that we need to make sure these entities are resolvable and diminish their risk of failing. to our stress tests and capital requirements, resolution plans, have improved the safety and soundness, especially of o those institutions. >> let's talk about those efforts. you mentioned stress test in particular. the fed has undertaken various measures of regulatory enforcement. i wonder whether some of those
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efforts might undermine the due process interests of those who own the banks. the people including retirees who invest in them. a long standing concern of due process involves certainty in the law. james madison describes in federalist '26 when he said that the people it will be of little avail to the people that laws may be written by individuals of those choosing. if those are complex and ever changing that they cannot be understood or if they undergo such incessant changes that no person who knows what the law is today can be sure what it will be tomorrow. my understanding of these tests is that the standards are constantly changing.
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there's kind of a black box. they don't know what the law is today and know less about what the law will be tomorrow. if by the law of enforceable by the e fed that carry the force of law will be. how can the lack of transparency be consistent with our time honored standards of due process? >> i would disagree that there's a lack of transparency. while we do not publish the mathematical formulas that are used to evaluate bank port fo portfolios, we have published and shared with the industry a great deal of information about the models that we use. >> a great dole of information about them. that doesn't mean that they know what the models are. the models themselves are the basis for legal standards. are they not? >> we want these banking
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organizations to have sound risk management and that means developing their own capacity to evaluate the risks in their portfolios rather than using a model that we hand them and the goa review of our stress testing did not recommend they look at this carefully and did not recommend that we share with the industry the details of the model. we have put out for public comment policy ises about how we design stress test scenarios. the industry understands how we go about day vising those denar owes, although they change from time to time and they have a great deal of information about the models that we use and
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what's contained in them. we want to make sure that they have appropriate incentives to analyze the only unique risks of those organizations that may not be. captured in our stress test and that they built models that are appropriate for each individual firm. >> my time is expired. i have to respect the clock and my chairman and fellow committee members. they did recommend updating the guidance. i also want to be clear that i understand you have a difficult job to do. i understand these are very important things. but i don't think we can overlook the fact simply because something is important doesn't mean that we can subject the american people to laws that are constantly subject to change. it just means that there can be
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no due process in that environment. we have to take that into account and look for ways to reform. thank you. >> thank you, senator. senator casey? >> thank you very much. i want to thank you, senator coates, for your service. and the work you did with others on this committee. we are grateful for that. and wish you luck as you transition. we're grateful to be with you again. thank you for your testimony. when you provide this testimony, we always learn from it. >> thank you. >> and my copy of your remarks is highlighted in yellow. the parts that were most interesting to me. i will quote from them in a moment. but i wanted to focus on maybe one word, but unfortunately a vexing problem ask that's wages or lack of wage growth. we have had a basic disconnect
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lately where with a good recovery corporate profits are healthier, but the wage picture over time, not the most recent numbers, but over time has been a different story. so we do have a disconnect where folks see corporate profit going up and wall street having a good results in their own wages not growing over time. and i think it's a problem for both parties to come together and tackle it. i believe we need to focus on short-term strategies to deal with that as well as kind of a set of long-term priorities that i'll just quickly mention. but we have seen not just in the context of the election, but even prior to that, but maybe most especially people leading lives of real struggle and a lot of it is connected i think to the wage issue. you're familiar with most people are the studies, the economic
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policy institute, which basically said wages grew more than 90%, maybe as high u as 91%, for 25 years after world war ii along with an alignment of productivity growth. but then after that, roughly around 1973, even with productive u increasing more than 70%, wages flat lined 11% over 40 years. if that data and analysis is in any way accurate, and i believe it is, we're looking at wage groets of 11% over 40 years. we can't endure another 20 or 30 or 40 years of that kind of wage growth. so one thing we need to do is to focus on ways to help communities when they are dramatically affected by substantial job loss in the
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short-term. thinking of a place like erie county, pennsylvania, the city and county of erie, they have suffered a lot of job losses with g.e. moving to texas. one of the things i hope we can do and something i have been advocating for is having measures that will provide immediate and targeted assistance to communities that have that seismic impact that leads to a lot of job loss. over time, though, i think we need to focus on more strategic actions. affordable child care, a commitment to early learning, and then something we have heard about lately and hope we can get agreement on in both parties is investment in infrastructure and not only the traditional roads, bridges infrastructure, but broadband deployment, hard to grow a business or run a family
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farm if you're in a smaller community that doesn't have access to broadband. especially in rural america where the problem is really alarming. huge percentages of rourl america that don't have broadband. that's a lot to chew into. i want to get a sense of what maybe from a advantage point of what works, short-term strategies to raise wages as well as long-term investments that might result in that if you have any ideas about that or opinions about that. >> so you pointed to the fact in your comments that the behavior of wages, the disappointment in wages is not just a recent phenomenon. it's not just something that is associated with great recession following the financial crisis. although that took a huge toll.
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. it's a long-term trend. many economists feel it reflects both technological change that has persistently favored skilled workers that dmin you shalled the job opportunities of those who do more routine or less skilled work and globalization i think also played a significant role and even though many exi economists believe that these forces are good for in some sense for the economy as a whole, there are many individuals who were very badly and very negatively affected by these trends. and i agree with your focus that it's important to think about the individuals who are not winners, because of trends of technology and globalization and
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how to put in place inclusive policies that will help those individuals and make sure that the gains are broadly shared in our society. i don't have full proof method to do this, but you gave a very good list of things that are certainly worth for the congress and administration to consider. certainly when you see rising gap between the wages of most skilled and less skilled workers and that's occurred since the mid-'80s, that's in a way a signal that's saying invest iin in people and investing in education, investing in workforce development, training, we see now there are high levels of job openings and yet there's a certain degree of mismatch, of skills with openings investing
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to make sure that individuals have the skills they need to fill the jobs that are becoming available. and there is a good deal of research on early childhood education that suggests that's important. so there are a wealth of investment possibilities that could help to mitigate this trend and other interventions. i definitely think it's appropriate for congress and the administration to consider a broad range here. >> i u appreciate that. let me just say in conclusion and do appreciate the feedback on that. l one part i did highlight, which is good news on wages, you say in part, quote, some signs of the pace of wage growth has stepped up recently, unquote. that's reflected in the 2015 wage increase. >> yes, so we are seeing some evidence and i think that's good. but over the longer run, we do have a trend here.
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and it's important to do more than that. >> thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. senator heinrich, let me state that in the shuffling that goes on between the various congresss, it appears that you are going to move up significantly into this chair and so i welcome you to that. it reverts back to the house. we're looking forward to your leadership here. would love to give you the chance to chair yellen, who i would assume will be one of your key witnesses. >> i just want to say how much pleasure it's been to work with you both on this committee and also on the intelligence committee.
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senator casey went where i wanted to go as well. the economy has come a long way in the last few years. it's certainly growing. but i think historically, we have had this approach if we can just make the economy grow, then a rising tide lifts all boats. i at home hear from people and we certainly saw the same sentiment in the recent election. that some of those just haven't been keeping up with the rest of us. that's a fundamental problem with the quality of our economy. so things like wage growth and particularly, the broken link between productivity, some of the lack of wage growth has already subscribed to skilled versus unskilled. historically we were able to
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keep wages tied to the same trajectory as productivity. we have seen those split apart. do you have thoughts for why that is and how we can seek through vocational training or other policies to relink those things together. >> and it has been extremely disappointing over the last decade. but i also agree with the point that you just made that we have had had periods in which real wage growth has not kept up with productivity growth that's also true. one way of data that shows that if you look at the share of the
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pie and by pie i mean our gross domestic product or output bundle of the economy that was essentially constant for 100 years and more recently we have seen an increase in the share of the pie going to capital. and that's consistent with real wages not keeping up with productivity. there is some research on that. the united states is not the only country that has seen that happen. i'm not certain what the cause of it is, but i would agree with you that that is something that has happened. i think we're seeing a little bit of reversal of it now that the labor market is very tight and wages are increasing more
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rapidly. but even if wages were increasing in line with productivity, we do have the fact that we're seeing rising income inequalitity. we have been e seeing that for a long time. a loss of middle income jobs in the face of technological change in globalization that was probably accelerated in the aftermath of the financial crisis. so we have people who lost good jobs where they were earning good incomes and even if they can find work because after all the unemployment rate is low and there are a lot of job openings. often they are not the nature of the jobs have changed and the incomes are taking large wage hits and we're seeing the frustration that comes with
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that. there are a lot of things that can be considered in the domain of monetary policy, but there's structural policies, training, education, safety net. >> okay. you answered some questions earlier that were really focused on mortgages and the tightening of mortgage requirements. i wanted to sort of cut quickly to the chase there and just ask you fundamentally do you think -- we all agree that things were not getting the balance right when the mortgage crisis occurred. and certainly we have seen stricter requirements and in large part we have seen some benefits from that. but do you think we have gotten that right?
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have we gone too far in tightening mortgage requirements or have gotten the balance right coming out of the mortgage crisis of 2007. >> so that's a hard question. i don't think i can give you a simple answer to that. i think it's appropriate that standards are tighter. but i think there are some groups for a variety of reasons that it maybe having an unduly difficult time in the aftermath. >> thank you, chair. >> thank you. >> i also mr. chair, chauthank for your service to our country in a variety of ways. as an ambassador as many other things, so thank you. madame chair, thank you for being here. thank you for all you do. i'm very aware your knowledge on all of this exceeds mine, so i ask for sincerity. i had a privilege to have a
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conversation with one of your predecessors a couple months ago. i asked him, this is the first time over eight years we have never had gdp growth over 3%. is this the new norm. he said it might be. that long-term capital investment continues to decline. now i have a graph. i wish i could blow it up, but you think in numbers. it looks like since 2011 the year over year growth ináhy
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investment. going back to my conversation with former chair greenspan. if you go to a board of directors and say we need a 30-year spending plan for capital investments, they are going to say where's the certainty. on the other hand, if you say we can invest in whatever we invest in in terms of the credit market or bond market, we can have a a return, they will. so your comments has proversely the qe hurt long-term capital investment. that's what i'm told is key to productivity growth and raising wages and gdp. >> so there are a number of factors that have been depressing gdp growth. a member of my colleagues now estimate that long-term growth rate is likely to settle under 2% without some change in policy. we have more slowly growing labor force and educational attainment of the workforce, which had been increasing at a more rapid rate is now leveling
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off. so there's less contribution there. i agree with you the capital investment has been weak and that's one reason that productivity growth has been depressed as it is, even outside of investment, improvements in technology that come from other sources also seem to have diminished. now it's not clear to my mind why it is that investment spending has been as weak as it is. initially, we had economy with a lot of access capacity. firms were clearly operating without enough sales to justify a need to invest in additional capacity. and more recently with the economy moving toward full employment, you would expect to
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see investment spending picked up and it's not obvious impactly why it hasn't picked up. but i wouldn't agree that the fed's monetary policy is is actually hampered business investment or been negative factor. i'm not aware of any evidence that suggests that it is. >> if i way just because i'm almost out of time and then i'm through, i have a graph that shows that in about 2008 the productivity began to climb u. you mention the access capacity related to the great financial crisis. it modestly began to decline and then in qe 2 it plummeted.
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and then has kind of been lackluster staying about the same on net. so you're saying the access capacity associated with the recession had to shake itself out. it doesn't make sense to me between '07 and '09 are productivity would have grown so robustly. >> so i believe what happened is we had a huge financial crisis. firms found their sales collapsing and they took measures that they thought was necessary for business survival and that meant firing every worker that a company would possibly do without. and because layoffs were so huge, we saw a surge in productivity. they cut workforce to the bone
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and productivity surged. and those productivity gains continued for awhile. but eventually the amount of labor that firms had was so low relative to their output that as hiring picked up in their sales picked up, productivity growth then sub sisided. that was a huge surge as if you remembers did everything in their power to cut costs. it's not largely a reflection of trends. >> then so for the specific question, if a company has a chance to go related to this or say that's not what he meant and i'll accept that. we need to make a 30-year investment with all the uncertainty of interest rates and regulatory environment, versus invest in these financial instructions, that they are choosing the financial instruments over the
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productivity. would you say or not true. >> i think we do see a short-term focus in business decision making that's disturbing. and the causes of that are not clear. and i certainly don't think it's our monetary policy. but it is true that businesses seem reluctant to commit to projects, in part, it suggests that they dent see that many projects that they u think will produce returns that justify those investments we see that tech knowledge call change has diminished and may be a reflection of that. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you, senator. i think we have come to the end
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of the session here. i just want to say that it's been a privilege for me to chair this committee. there are very few joint e committees where members gather together to address a particular topic or subject and this is one of them. we have had a wealth of experienced and informal witnesses that have come before us on a variety of topics affect ed our national committee and economic issues. we have made our records available to all house members and senate members. and to the general public, we want to personally thank my colleagues. but also the staff. we have just had a marvellous staff and working together in a
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bipartisan way. it's not the norm here in the congress, but it's a pleasure to do that. and the respect i have for that staff and they are working together is enormous. i wanted to give special thanks to chairman yellen. she's our star witness. we have had some wonderful witnesses that have come before us here, but she's the star because the coordination between the congress and legislative branch is extremely important to the economic future of our country. she's been more than available to come here to deal with all the questioning that takes place. to it explain the role of the congress and the the legislative brarvelg. . she's is been transparent and to
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ro with her answers to some questions that have been raised. so i just want to thank her for her availability. wish you the best of success going forward in the future. falls to both areas as well as the administrative. but the fed plays a role in. we have learned a lot more about what the fed is doing. >> thank you, senator. i really appreciate your kind words and want to say how much i appreciate your inviting me here to testify and. i have enjoyed cooperating with you and appreciate your leadership. wush you the best in the future. >> my parting gift to you, i
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know how busy you are, is actually we're adjourning early. at least give you more lunchtime. >> thank you so much. >> with that, this meeting concludes.
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supreme court associate justice clarence thomas is scheduled to make a rare public appearance later tonight at the federalist society here in
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washington. we'll have our cameras there and expect to bring that to you live starting around 9:00 eastern time. that's on our companion network c-span. speaking of the supreme court, the justices heard oral argument in a case involving discriminatory lending practices. the case is bank of america versus miami. we'll bring that oral argument to you friday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 2. and finally the national book awards took place in new york city last night hosted by larry wilmore. our cameras were there. we'll show you the event this sunday at 10:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 2's book tv. a signature feature of c-span 2's book tv is coverage of book fairs and festivals across the country. nonfiction author talks, interviews and viewer call-in segments. book tv will be live from the 33rd annual miami book fair. one of the nation's premier literary festivals featuring readings and discussions with
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authors and 250 publishers and book seller exhibits. saturday's coverage begins at 10:00 a.m. eastern. here's some of what you'll see. presidential candidate bernie sanders takes your phone calls and talks about his book "our revolution." wezly lowrie with "they can't kill us all." sunday gets underway at 10:30 a.m. eastern and features former white house press secretary dana perino. co-founder of the book fair and owner of miami's books and books bookstore, mitchell caplin. national book award finalist collison whitehead with the underground railroad. join us live saturday at 10:00 a.m. eastern.
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go to for the full schedule. now a discussion on transand anti-muslim bullying and the way they can advocate for students. the capital area muslim bar association and american bar association co-hosted this event, which runs just under 90 minutes. >> hello, everyone. we're going to get started. feel free to grab a seat. so good evening and thank you for joining us for the capital muslim bar association's program this evening. anti-muslim bullying, emerging issues and probo no
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opportunities. i'm one of the board members of the muslim bar association. i'm also fortunate to serve at the university of the district of columbia school of law. the public interest law school for the district of columbia committed to eradicating social justice inequity, such as the issues we're addressing today. before we get started, i want to thank our host for tonight's event. thank you. the firm has provided the space and sponsoring the reception for us. we're also honored to have the american bar association section for civil rights and social justice bully proof committee joining us as a co-sponsor. courtney dunn, we thank you for making this happen. in 2013 i believe it was, the section developed its bully proof initiative as a way to do programs at schools and youth centers and bringing together students, parents, teachers,
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administrato administrators, members of the community to address and collaborate on solutions to the bullying epidemic. tonight's program is part of the initiative to amplify our voice so we are, in fact, working as a collaborative to identify issues that are impacting the muslim community. e we believe this collaboration with the movement is closer to fulfilling that mission. our panel consists of social justice advocates who are addressing some of the disparities in society through direct client representation, policy work, and through systemic reform. direct ly to my u left is jonathan smith, executive director of the lawyers committee for civil rights and urban affairs. next to jonathan is the executive director of the muslim women lawyers for human rights. we have susan greenfield, director of the city wide bullying prevention program.
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and brenda, with muslim advocates where she's a director of its program to strengthen muslim charities. so appropriately october is national bullying prevention month. it's a motto educate and to raise awareness of bullying prevention. this week is also national pro bono week. that initiative is designed to increase access to justice by recruiting volunteers who will assist in representing people who are low income and those who are often vulnerable. tonight's program is really about address itting an issue that impacts the most vulnerable members of our community and our youth. so when we're looking at muslim children in particular, we're going to kind of focus this it panel on issues impacting them as children, which i think that part of the conversation is often overlooked. and i think it's fair to say
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that there is an assertive campaign to create this otherness when we talk about muslims. muslims as foreigners, terrorists, extremists and just for the i'm muslim and i'm burn in boston, massachusetts, and for those who are questioning, i do have a birth certificate to prove that. but this image of muslims as foreigners and terrorists helps to perpetuate that narrative, if you will, that makes it acceptable for legislators, for our courts also, to somehow justify discriminatory practices. so i think the first question i'd like to pose to the panels we initiate and start this conversation is has this prevalent anti-muslim climate created school cultures where schools are actually able
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demonstrate an indifference to harassment against muslim students? plain you can start us off, what is the nexus between the rhetoric we hear and bullying? >> thank you for that and thank you for being here this evening. unfortunately there is a direct correlation between the rhetoric that is all too common now in our society that is anti-muslim, very xenophobic, that is otherizing american muslims and that is unfortunately infiltrating not only on social media. it's becoming almost the norm.
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/i work for a nonprofit and we're always asked about very harrowing issues, anti-muslim issues and about what's happening overseas and a lot of different kinds of things and i thought i'd share a quick story to illustrate this point and i think that this is really -- this really broke my heart. i was invited to speak at a local school in maryland and some students came up to me afterwards, two young women came to me afterwards and said, you know, we're not out as muslims at school. and i said okay, and i asked them to tell me more and they said, well, we just don't feel comfortable. not only amongst their peers but also from the administration,
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from teachers, from the princip principal. they didn't feel comfortable owning their identity as muslim women. i think there had been some incidents, there had been -- and i'm smiling because i'm not as aware of all of the different social media platforms but i was informed in this conversation of a certain social media platform where you can anonymously post particular to that one school so only people who are at that school can post about that school. and so there had been some very troubling remarks about muslims, about women on this platform and that had made these young women, these two young women hide their identity publicly and they felt they needed to come and to use their terms out themselves to me so they could talk with me about what they were going through. but i think that that's an example -- and this was not -- after this happened, it's happened to me multiple times where people have started to say
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they go by a different name in school, they wear different clothes at school and so i think there is a direct correlation and i can go into statistics a little bit later of hate speech and the rhetoric that is in our public spaces and how it's impacting muslim identity and bullying in schools. >> thank you, brenda, i know you're doing a lot of this work on the ground as well. what are you seeing at muslim advocates if you had anything you wanted to add on to that. >> yeah. and thank you again for having me here. i always say that anti-muslim bullying does not happen in a vacuum, and similar to aisha's point, we are seeing a direct correlation between the climate of anti-muslim policies and how that impacts school children. and more than any other time in the history of our organization we have tracked many, many, many instances of aunt muslim
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bullying and even in instances where families -- what where their children haven't been bullied, it's the number one concern we hear across the board from parents all the time. i'm a parent myself, i'm always worried somebody is going to say something to one of my children at school and your raise your kids to be proud of who they are and, you know, i fear -- similar to what aisha just said, they may not want to share that part of their identity as they get older and become more aware of the rhetoric that surrounds them but one thing that i will add to that is it happens in multiple layers, there certainly is what we call peer-to-peer bullying which happens between a student and another student. however we see a significant number of instances where administrators at the school are the ones that are perpetuating the anti-muslim climate at the school. these are relationships in which students trust their teacher,
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they go to their teacher when they have a problem, this is a person they're learning from and we have that teacher themselves perpetuating stereotypes, saying hateful comments, saying, you know, your dad is part of the taliban, go sit down. or these types of derogatory comments that come from teachers also play a role in the overall climate for how students feel at school. may not come from their peers, but it may also come from the administrators so i wanted to add that extra layer. >> so do we have any data or statistics showing whether muslims are being disproportionately targeted when it comes to bullying? looking at suzanne -- and suzanne and aisha cross paths representing students of disabilities. so i'm wondering if we have data or statistics about muslims being targeted. if we don't why don't we have
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it? does anyone know? >> i can sfreek the local level, we are collecting that data we have a law in the district of columbia which defines bullying in specific ways. it doesn't trip off the tongue, it's not an easy definition but a part of it is we very much want to know if the bullying is based on a particular trait. so we have covered the list of traits -- of 19 traits covered by the d.c. human rights act. i've put out the call to schools to report their incidents from last year on this and we will be reporting on it. i have to tell you anecdotally i have had many parents call me not about specific incidents but about fears. the district is somewhat different in terms of our
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population so i'm hearing it a lot from our immigrant communities in general. certainly our latino community is hearing all kinds of things on the playground that wasn't said before this last year quite to that level so i don't know that we have the numbers yet. >> let me step out of my advocacy role and walk on the dark side. why is this bullying? why isn't it just the normal power dynamic that happens at school and the way kids are in the playground. you talked about the identifying factors that the d.c. human rights act -- why isn't it just power dynamics? how are we distinguishing the true. >> we have over 200 different school buildings here in the
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district. half are in the charter schools and half are in d.c. public schools and building by building it looks very different depending on the demographics, the leadership, who is held woman, how welcome they are. who's acknowledged. you don't see any signage in any community languages, there's a real recognition of who's in that build iing. there are schools that are literally t lly two blocks from other and it's very different as to how they're identified. that's different for if kids with minority or gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender kids. >> i any the reason i say why it's become the norm is that i
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have read an article -- maybe you read it -- she was talking about how she was speaking to a group of young muslim women and asked a question have you ever been bullied and nobody really responded. and then she said well, have any of you been called a terrorist? and almost every hand went up. and it's a very troubling -- i use that anecdote or that story to say it's because it's so normal to feel -- to be disparaged in such a horrible way, people and children often times i don't think are calling that -- are defining that bullying. and so to your point well kids will be kids, they're rough housing each other on the playground it's more than the parents are hearing it saying wait a second, it's not okay for my kid to hear that.
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we had an intern, my cousin, who was very casually last summer telling me, oh, yeah, i've been called a terrorist in school. and i said oh really? did that make you upset? he said, oh, no, i'm muslim, everyone calls everyone a terrorist. and it's a very -- i think there is a bit of -- i know your question was about data collection. there's a reporting issue of whether children have the right tools to, say, use that language that this is bullying, i'm feeling harassed enough to report it to a school administrator. >> so i think that circles back to the point brenda was making that i started this conversation talking about student-on-student bullying and something brenda raised that's an important point that we also have school administrators that are perpetuating and feeding into that same anti-muslim rhetoric
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and let's rewind -- >> i want to jump in. we have a specific definition, as i said, in the city, and one of -- the parts of the definition which is the part that throws everybody is it does have to cause harm. and i honestly don't want any child to be called a terrorist for any reason but we have learned that the effect of bullying on kids is the important issue and some kids are affected differently and we've learned this with other populations and kids will walk into a room and be called names and they don't think anything of the other kids and they don't care and they move through their life just fine. and their resiliency is built in and they have a very good self-definition and feel a part of the community, there are other kids who don't tell us also when they're being targeted and it completely undermines their sense of self, their sense of safety and their ability to
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learn in that classroom. but just because kids are hearing it -- and we've learned this in our kids with disabilities and gay kids -- bullying itself is about the psychological harm so it's a really important question. that doesn't mean they shouldn't be sensitive and call it out and that we should in any way normalize that language but how we address it is a little bit more complicated. >> i grew up in bossing when mandatory bussing was first implemented. trigger warning, trigger waning here. everyday i was called a nigger. did i become used to that language? yes. did it have an impact on me? we're not aware of the impact it has sometimes as a child. here i am some whatever 40 something years later and realizing it did have an impact on me.
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because it's become so much the norm to call muslim children terrorists, it would be great -- maybe we can rewind and look at the legal stance. it would be great if we're looking at -- are we looking at the subjective standards? can we rewind for a minute? than, i don't know if this is a section 1983 claim or -- but what are we seeing in the courts as far as what courts are requiring? we have this great statute within d.c. but on a national level we're probably ahead of the curve thanks to suzanne's office and what you're doing. >> one -- i think just on the question of studies in preparing for tonight, i spent a little time fooding around on the internet. there are a fair number of people who look at that question in terms of how many kids have experienced discrimination. and there's no national prohibition on bullying. there's no statute that says you can't discriminate.
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and they the care in -- california did a study, they interviewed 600 kids and 55% had been subject to some form of discrimination by other students and 20% by teachers. so it's very prevalent in teachers as was just noted. we set the tone and the kids follow the tone at the institutions in which they live and so to some extent in the tone of their home and national media and all these other characteristics. the fact that you have such a high percentage of teachers engaged in discriminatory conduct is reflective of what's going on inside the schools. so there is no national statute that prohibits something called bullying.
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so schools have to be free from discriminatory conduct. so the school itself can't do it through educational program so what is said and done in the classroom by the teacher is critical to whether you create a climate where each student doesn't have equal access to education and if you are bullied and can't get the benefit of the education in a way that student who isn't bullied would get the benefit of education, that's prohibited by federal law. equally so, the school is responsible to make sure there's a climate, they're not deliberatety indifferent to the conduct of other students and that's the extent to which the law provides protection. there are private litigations but some of the most potent work
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is being done in the department of justice and the department of education and there are a range of statutes that they apply. the department of education as it turns out has no statutory authority to look at discrimination based on religion. under the federal law there's an enormous hole that prevents the -- that goes to race, national origin, gender, color, but doesn't protect against religious speech but the department of education has promulgated regulations and has offered guidance that when the discrimination based on religion is such that it goes to actual perceived shared answers to ancestry or ethnicity that it's prohibited discrimination under the federal statutes. the department of justice does have under both title 6 and title ix and title iv jurisdiction prevents
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discrimination based on religion. title vi prevents discrimination on national origin and any federally funded program which is every school in this country and title ix requires a free and equal education for everyone. the department of justice can get directly at religious-based discrimination. the problem is it's a tricky area under the law because you have to balance -- you have to first get to the more complicated question we were discussing which is what is the impact on the child? what constitutes discrimination? when does it cross the line between a discourse on a public policy question to become discrimination that prevents child -- on equal terms being able to get an education? and how do you balance the first amendment and other rights of the students who are engaged in expressive conduct? and so the courts have been very delicate around this issue. particularly they've been reluctant to deal with cyber bullying, which has become an increasing problem. the courts have provided by very
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little guidance there and what guidance they provided by they give wide latitude to speakers on social media. less so in the school build iin. but they have left room for there to be negative hurtful kinds of comments that don't go as far as those kinds of comments that would prevent children to get education on equal terms. >> so my former colleague here, he's done some great social justice work, he was with the department of justice and under his direction doj authored the ferguson report and i actually snubbed my nose at it because it was coming from the department of justice, until i read it. it was one of the most balanced, insightful, you could hear jonathan's advocacy coming out in that report. if you haven't read it, you
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should do it. but it made me think about that because i'm wondering what are we seeing that's working? these the standards that seems like climbing this mountain, do we know what strategies are effective when we're looking at protecting children in schools? >> these folks -- i know there has been decrees against deliberate indeferenifference a court remedies are not very effective. they are have a policy, collect data, whatever. and it doesn't provide the kind of leadership inside the schools to make the behavior unacceptable, which is what -- >> so if i'm correct, when we're looking at deliberate indifference, there has to first be this great policy, is that correct? there has to be a policy in place and the school district is demonstrating it to the policy. >> i was going to add something. one thing that we did at muslim
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advocates in part because we had so many parents out of the sphere for what can i do, we drafted a letter to every single state superintendent or whatever their title would be, varying states, responsible for education in their state and in that letter we highlighted -- similar to what you just went through -- the legal obligations as a public school district in that state and what under title vi in prohibiting discrimination as well as potential liability there and section 1983 as well and what we've done is we attached to that a fantastic letter that went out the last day before former secretary arne duncan left. on december 31 the letter went out, a deer colleague letter, that highlights not just the obligations of each school district for what they should do but highlighted some to
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potential strategists for how to talk about issues in school and highlighting the climate for that. and after we sent that letter out, we got so many wonderful e-mails back from state superintendents saying thank you, we're not aware if this is happening at the schools but we'll look into it and have these conversations with our school districts and we've also asked parents to take that letter and share it with their local school districts as well. so we took the sandwich approach, we'll send it to your state superintendent, you take it to your local school district because those resources from the department of education particularly the dear colleague letter were quite wonderful. >> so i know aisha you've been doing work on providing supports for what's working. seems like we have a room full of lawyers and the courts aren't working, ironically. we have an advocacy letter that goes out that's getting some response from schools being responsive to the needs of
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students who felt bullied. what are the ways we we can change behaviors and provide supports? >> i think one of the things that is important is having ideas for parents and children. i did one for parents and children together at a local mosque and it was interesting because i think the parents were horrified by what their children were sharing in this kind of a forum but there's a couple layers of problems here. one layer is there's not a lot of communication happening between parents and children about -- particularly about cyber bullying, i think a lot of parents are not aware of the social media platforms their
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children are on. i think they want to turn a blind eye perhaps to what's being shared. i'm making generalizations right now but that's what i gathered and then i think when the young people started sharing some of the things they were sharing with one another and how they were talking with one another i think the parents were sort of just surprised that that was even happening. the next layer is not knowing the laws or standard and how to approach an issue. so a lot of the calls we ear getting as i referenced before from parents is really how do i go about reporting an issue. so should i go to teachers? should i put my child in counselling? what are the kind of mechanisms for relief.
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the courts are flying blind. many years ago when i was practicing in tennessee there was a case -- it was an interesting sort of remedy. two girls -- a girl filed a protective order against another girl for harassment and for -- we kind of got it under stalking which i thought was really not so creative. but it was -- it's not a good long-term -- in the end i thought it was not a good long-term solution but in tennessee the statute was that as long as there were three or more incidents of stalking-like behavior, you could file a protective order against somebody else with whom you did not have a relationship because that's the key in protective -- that's a standard in protective order cases. >> i remember even then the judge was scratching his head thinking i don't know how you feel about a child getting a
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protective order against another child and how would that work in the school setting. do they stay 50 feet apart from one another? what are the regulatory mechanisms of this happening and i'm not in favor of more police officers being in schools so it was just a complicated question. so i think that certainly having -- so the know your right things the a catch-22 because you have to know what you're going to be pitching to parents and without guidance from the court courts so even just starting dialogue between parents and lawyers about feeling like you're not totally with any mechanism of relief is very importan
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important. >> and i think once they determine the remedy finding an advocate who will help you navigate complicated legal syst system. the d.c. office of human rights had some kind of complaint process. can you share that? >> we do that. i want to echo something aisha said. it may have been your instinct but you're right. where kids don't share and a big problem around the issue of bullying is that kids don't tell us exactly what's going on but there's a really good reason why. and that's because we usually overreact and we make it worse as far as they're concerned. and this is that double edged part of this that we work as our kids get older. they won't tell their parents because their parents overreact and they feel like that will make it that much harder for them in school of how to navigate it and how to deal with this kind of stuff.
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so we've taken the frame -- and i will get to your question because we have a process in the office of human rights but part of the work of the bullying prevention program, which is the program that i run is that prevention mode. so, you know, how do we illustrate an inclusive community? how do we illustrate that here's a place where everybody is recognized, seen, and validated and some of that work -- and we need parents to do it because i have to be honest, schools don't always want to do it without pressure. and that 's be is super important. on the other hand through my office and my law very specifically there is a claim through a hustle educational environment based on a particular trait that you can use to address bullying in a public educational institution. we have a dual process because we want to make sure you get to me first and we try to resolve the issue for the child because
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sometimes the court process -- no offense to lawyers in here, as not one, it takes a long time and i can't afford to have a kid stay in that kind of environment for any length of time so we try to work immediately with the school to shift those dynamics, provide support to the kid so they feel -- the most important piece is making the kid feel safe and protected and understand that adults can do something and something helpful so that's the part we want to work on first and then we'd really appreciate it if the legal folks come behind us to actually ensure it doesn't happen over and over again in the same school. >> i think that, you know, in the dear colleague letter is very helpful in terms of taking on the issue where it recognizes the balancing question of people wanting to have a public debate against the need to protect students. but i also think that as we think about this from the legal perspective that there's often
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not an understanding of what it is to -- how what it is that one understands whether it's bullying and what deliberate indifference looks like in the context of a school. and if you have students saying things that are hostile and harmful, that may not be enough. we need to look at those things like do muslim kids spend more time getting through the screening of the school resource officer when they go to school each day. do teachers talk about the greatness of america in a way that -- you know, what is the permissions that are being given to students by suddbtly and noto subtly by the school itself. do they do things like the dear colleague says like it's important people have a respectful mechanism to express these things. how do they do that? or does the school just shut people down so there isn't an outlet for people to understand
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each other and so i think in terms of thinking about how i would build a legal case, just knowing what wasn't student said to another, how frequently that happens would not be enough. i suspect the more you dug the more you would find this school-promoted conduct. this isn't happening in isolation because the school administration sets the climate. >> i had one quick thought on that and this is sort of related in a circuitous way. i'm thinking about this issue of access to an education which i think is just a basic right for children and this idea of safe from discrimination and it's interesting because one of the pieces of advocacy that karamah is working on is the teaching of islam in public schools and so there's quite a large movement that's becoming a national movement, it was starting in tennessee and texas and colorado of just an erasure of islam from
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the curriculum and from textbooks and so there was actually -- and i don't want to get into the politics of it but there were a lot of politicians who were saying that we were indoctrinating children in islam by even teaching. so, for example, if you're teaching the basics of theology saying that, you know, muslims believe in five pillars, the first pillar is faith in god and there's an arabic saying that goes along with that, it just so happens that that's the saying that people say when they convert to islam as well, that's what they are saying and so there's this idea that, oh, my gosh, muslims are designing these curricula to convert all of these children in public schools. it's kind of funny. it's awful because i think that -- but what this is doing is that it's vilifying and othering islam and erasing islam and sort of islamic history as
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if it had no significance in the context of our world and saying we should be taking it out of textbooks all together and it's interesting because while we have definitely made some inroads with the department of education, they're saying that's really up to the schools, schools, individual schools, so there's a jurisdiction question here of what guidance can the federal government give to local schools on how to control the curriculum. but i think this is one of the subtle ways that you're talking about that's infiltrating the overall discourse in the schools, that there's something wrong with islam, there should be this -- we shouldn't be talking about islam which is also impacting how kids are feeling in schools. >> if all you hear is the crusades and 9/11 -- >> right, exactly. that's the only historical fact you need to be aware of. >> i was going to add one more point because i think it's important, aisha, that you mention the overall climate for
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students. and one thing that i always try to remind folks is that when we talk about anti-muslim hate crimes, what we have seen in the past year, just to give it a date since the attacks in paris, we started mapping on a map hate crimes all across the country. and 50% of the attacks were across places of worship. and there is children go for koran lessons and where they go to have potlucks with their family and family friends, this is where they go for spiritual enlightenment, this is their safe space that they go to. so after the paris attacks we had mosques smeared in feces, mosques that were firebombed. most recently we've mean? the past two weeks two different attacks that were thwarted against islamic centers where
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there were militia-type attacks with 16 weapons and thousands of bullets being found in someone's home that they were planning a columbine-type attack against a house of worship. so when we talk about the overall environment and the climate, we have to also keep in mind that when their community centers are attacked, how that makes them feel even if they go to school, maybe their classmates aren't saying something to them but they're already feeling otherized. they're already feeling like something is wrong and something is different. why would my house of worship be attacked. why is saturday school canceled, mama? oh, canceled because somebody was going to shoot it. we have to keep in mind the very real environment that has been created for children. >> brenda, can you share some of the strategies that you embedded in the dear colleague letter? suggestions that you had. >> so the dear colleague letter came from the two secretaries, from arne duncan and -- >> sorry, not the dear colleague, that letter that you sent. >> oh, the letter that we sent.
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so our approach to the letter was to describe the environment for students, so we highlighted a number of examples both of peer-to-peer bullying as well as instances where administrators or teachers -- there was a teacher in texas that created a "what you need to know about muslims" and included facts that said things like "38% of muslims think you should be executed if you decide you're not -- you don't want to be muslim anymore." you know, so we tried to highlight these multifaceted complement issues. we talked about hate crimes as well and then being true lawyers we subtly put in there "and by the way your obligation of title vi and 1983 is to ensure a safe and healthy environment for students to learn in." then we attached resources. so that was the approach we took is to say hey, administrators, this is a climate that's across the country. we had considered sending it to
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individual states with instances of bullying in each state but then we were like this is a national problem. regardless of whether or not something happened in the state or not, this is an overall national climate. >> i think one of the strategies sometimes is to -- you mentioned the fact, just by a show of hands. a third of -- this is your pop question for the day. a third of the muslims in this country are what ethnicity? >> south asian. >> what do you say? >> african-american. >> a third of the muslims in this country are african-american. it's estimated that 10% of the africans that migrated to this country were africans as well. african muslims that came to this country through one of the most horrific holocausts of slavery so 10% of the africans who came to this country are muslim, a third of the muslims in this country today are african-americans. it's a narrative we never hear
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because, again, going back to the facts about muslims we want to make sure that everyone has this perceptions but of muslim otherness, of being foreign terrorists who are coming to this country to do nothing but bad to us. so i do think that that fact statement becomes critical going back to how do we create cultures within schools that are inclusiv inclusive. >> i want so i want to return to social media because within the legal context it does create a very different legal framework when we talk about trying to regulate private speech in that social network. has anyone been working in this area of social media and bullying? susan, you? you're smiling. >> i'm smiling because it's a constant -- we know our law covers bullying whether it's the physical, if it's social, emotional, verbal, or it's happening electronically. so we certainly cover it.
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>> wow. >> the difference between having a great policy and making sure it's implemented is a very long road. i have to tell you. but we have in the paper and that's a start so i do --ly hat is off to the people that wrote it. they thaubt aboought about a lo things. the social media piece is interesting. it does work differently with youth than it does with adults so we again see that most kids who are targeted on social media are also targeted in real life. it's very rarely disconnected. so what that means is it's not that social media is a problem, it means it's a 24/7 clock they're under. they don't get away from old-fashioned bullying that you got away from when you left school. they're sort of under that feeling at any time but a lot of social media, actually, the responsibility of how kids use social media, their access to social media, goes back to
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parents. the schools didn't give your kids those phones. they don't issue those, we do. i, as a parent, i gave my kids their first phones. how we talk to kids about how to use them, how to stay safe with them, what they should be used for is really part and parcel, we have to work with our schools on this stuff and it's a much more complicated conversation. right now all we have is the input of we know when something goes wrong and social media has a piece to it, we're trying to figure out how to punish that piece and that's all we've been able to accomplish so far on that. but we need to step back and think about in the a larger context because social media is, as you mentioned, i can't keep up on what app or what my kids are doing. my kids are in college. i'm not even going to try but i know that it's an extension of who they are and part of their personality is now in their
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social media profile and i can't stop that. and so i need to figure out how to help them be good digital citizens. i need to help them understand the consequences of behavior, i need to help them understand how to stay safe themselves. there's a lot of things they need to be thinking about because we're not going to stop social media from happening. >> one thing that i'll add there -- and this is something we did a few years ago not related to bullying but we did a report called "click here to end hate" and it was an effort for -- we do a lot of work with social media companies, muslim advocates is based in san francisco, the bay aarea and what that report highlights is what you do if you feel that there's hate speech, how to report it, what to do and where to click and how long should you wait for a response and there have been several instances where, in the past year alone where there will be -- there is
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a picture of a woman whering a hijab in a walmart parking lot. somebody took that picture and wrote some really racist dent ins about her and it was flying around, it turned into like a people of this woman wearing a hijab and she had no idea. somebody pointed it out to her like, hey, isn't that you? and somebody had take than photo of her and with our relationships with the social media companies we were able to not just cliek here and report this to have it taken down but we went straight to the social media companies and got it taken down right away. so there's also ways to combat that once it's out therened that's something we try to do because sometimes it's not fast enough, we see how quickly these things spread like wildfire and hundreds of thousands of shares quite quickly so that's something we have been trying to navigate that someplace as well. >> is that a tool that you would recommend for parents? is that something parents can
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easily -- >> yeah, so the report -- it's not -- and i can share the report with you. it's not something that's specific to bullying or anything in particular but there are a variety of categories and i'm embarrassed to say that i only know how 20 use facebook, but when you click on the drop down, like i don't like this post because -- and there's different categories for it. and we've been working for -- to try to get those categories particularly when it's hate speech or something that is -- you know, it's my picture and i didn't ask for it to be up or whatever it may be, to get them to take swift action on those. >> i think the unfortunate reality is that a lot of this is emerging as an issue so a couple weeks ago, right before the panel there was a young boy who was beaten up who was bullied
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and had physical harm done to him, not just verbal bullying. and i feel with that story going viral, with other stories like it going viral a lot of studies -- are there studies, is there data? i think there's more studies that are being done now of the ptsd of the -- what is the psychology squall impact of seeing these images, seeing stories on social media and how that's impacting. so i think that, you know, facebook and twitter and other social media platforms are coming out trying to be cool and saying, hey, we're seeing this is a problem but it's sad that it's happening after these sort of horrible acts have occurred. and i think that it also begs a larger question, and i'm definitely not going to field this, i'll toss it to my right, this issue of sort of free speech and chilling free speech
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because in the bullying context it may be easier for people to understand because children are children and there's different standards whereas we're seeing a spike in hate speech amongst adults which is also leading to hate crimes so just to reference for you guys, there's a center for the study of hate and extremism out of the california state university and they just issues a study a couple of days ago on -- they did a recent 20-state study of hate crimes and i won't -- it's a little bit political but after a very widely-known political candidate tweeted something at 4:47 p.m. on december 2 after the san bernardino attacks, they saw that there was an 87.5% increase in hate crimes against muslims in a five-day period. which this attorney, his name is robert levin, is citing --
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sorry, brian levin, is citing he believes that there is a direct correlation between that tweet going viral and the impact on hate crimes but he also says that, again, this is an emerging issue, the university is going to be doing a lot more detailed study on what that nexus is, but i think we're talking about bullying but then we're talking about free speech in social media. it's a complicated legal question. >> do you want me to handle that? so there are, i think, two bodies of law to think about in that context that the court have recognized. one is libel slander. and in -- if you say something untrue about somebody and it harms them you can be sued and they can recover damages for that and if they are a public figure the standard is much
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higher and it's harder to succeed in securing damages, that's an available remedy, it's pretty unsatisfying because you can -- the court won't restrain the speech prior to being made, the court will give you money afterwards. and after litigation and a long process and what have you. the second in which we were talking about earlier, to what extent can you criminalize the kind of speech that causes harm? and the courts have been extremely reluctant to -- because of the first amendment and because the sort of difficulty of trying to wade into the area of trying to understand when someone's speech has a damaging effect in a non-libellous kind of way on the hearer of that speech and the court is really focussed in on when one speaks that one does in the a way that creates a threat
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so that you're not permitted to threaten to harm someone else. you place them -- the laws have said there's an injury that occurs to you just by being fearful someone will hurt you and that's called the truth right doctrine. if somebody says something online or to you in person or writes you a letter and the -- a reasonable person reading that would believe that that person is going to carry out that threat in some way or another and you subjectively believe that that person may carry out that threat then that can be criminalized and it's subject to liability in civil proceedings. and as we were talking earlier, i litigated this -- i personally didn't litigate it, it was a team of folks that i was working with litigated this issue in a slightly different context. we represented a dr. doctor who provided by abortion services in topeka, kansas, and she -- one of the anti-abortion activists
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sent her a letter that said "you should just be careful going forward because -- you should look under your car everyday because there may be a bomb." she never said "i'm going to put a bomb under your car." but she said you should be careful, look under your car because there may be a bomb and you should pray for your redemption and what have you because you never know what's going to happen and the court originally threw out the case and said that's not a threat, she was stating facts, you should look under your car everyday. and her defense was i was being a good christian woman because i was warning her that there may be some risk to her, well, this woman who wrote the letter to the doctor was good friends with scott roder, he's serving life for murdering an abortion doctor in topeka, kansas, she visits him every week in prison and the doctor knew this so the court of appeals -- they took it to the circuit court of appeals and they said under those circumstances any reasonable person could see there may be a
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basis for which -- would be fearful that this threat would be carried out whether she intended to carry it out or not is irrelevant, whether or not a reasonable person reading that letter, knowing those circumstances it might be carried out and the doctor had a subjective belief it could be carried out, that was a true threat. so in these circumstances where somebody is encouraging violence in a way in which you reasonably -- a reasonably objective person would say the violence may be carried out and the receiver of that subjectively has the experience that they worry that that violence will be carried out against them, that is a truth under the law. the courts don't extend that to this sort of horrible krasist craziness people say but where there's a specific target in a specific threat, it doesn't have to say "i am going to do this to you, it just has to be a reasonably objective basis for doing that, that's where the
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courts have bumped up against the first amendment and where they've drawn that analysis. >> i want to shift a little bit, we've been spending some time talking about protections for students who are being bullied, having represented students who were alleged to be bullying and school systems suspending them and attempting to expel them. how should we be bound? we keep talking about children, i think we forget that part of the equation. s suzanne? >> i will jump in here. the old-fashioned method of bullying in schools is you would punish the bully and that's been a remarkably ineffective strategy for addressing bullying, it's probably done a tremendous amount to increase the school-to-prison pipeline so we really have pushed back very hard in the work that we're doing in the city to actually not be in the disciplined frame
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but be in a public health frame. and we know from the research that really what makes a difference for kids is that you change the behavior of the kid who's being aggressive and kids are usually being aggressive for an unmet need. there's an underlying reason that they're behaving that way. it could be honest-to-god many, many different underlying reasons why they're behaving that way. one would be they're watching too much political coverage and they're hearing the words and just mimicking them. there could also be other more serious reasons why they're acting that way so we are pushing back and saying with the kid being the aggressor lett's find out and change this behavior. that's working around something that's different when we have little school kids versus middle school kids versus high school kids. but empathy building is important along the spectrum and when you're dealing with a kid being aggressive. the flip side is we know now
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from the research that we have done a tremendously bad job in addressing kids who have been targeted and they have the repercussions, whether they -- and i don't disagree that it can have harm even if you're not categorizing it as harm, but we've done very little to reattach our kids' sense of safety and belonging in that school building or wherever it is so they start thinking it's about them and seeing themselves as the person that will always be ostracized or the person that won't belong and until we break that cycle, they're at much higher risk for all kinds of dangerous behaviors going forward. so that's where our energy really should be in changing behavior because we are talking about kids and i will -- i do not believe in criminalizing behavior of kids, i really do think we need to think in a developmental framework when we're talking about this. it's their job to push boundaries. it is their job to figure out where they belong and who their
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h peer groups are and what these things mean. we need to model appropriate behavior, we need to teach them not just tell them what to do but we also need to be spending a whole lot more time around our kids being targeted because we've left them out of the equation in all those suspensions we did. >> so i want to make sure we have adequate time for questions so i'd like to take this moment to open the floor for questions if anyone has any. if you could stand for understand, please. >> hi. i thank you all very much, that was helpful and as a mom of young muslim children and as a lawyer, it's great for me to know about the remedies and what i can do but ultimately my goal is preventing harm not going to court, right? to seek remedies so i was just wondering -- for me with the current political climate, part
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of me is just like this is our new normal and i have to internalize that because no matter who wins the election this climate isn't going to change overnight so what are the strategies you guys discuss with parents to make sure my kids are confident and strong so that -- i can't ignore it's going to happen because it likely will. i'm lucky, i'm in a public charter school that's very diverse but what are the things that you guys are working with parents on the ground to say, you know, okay, i'll make sure my kids are strong and if this does happen it rolls off their backs? we learned a lot back in the day from the gay rights movement, to be perfectly honest. right after prop 8 happened, the level of aggression against our lgbt kids was really strong in california. and across the country. and i think that some of the strategies were to go out there
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and use social media on the other side and everything from the "it gets better" campaign to the -- really actually taking the bull by the horns and saying no, that's not our reality and we'll create our own and our reality looks very different and we want to -- i think we have to think about those things because it -- you know, as a parent i don't want our kids to inhart this mess we've -- we presently have here and i think there is -- there's a lot of connection that it can happen through social media and we saw this again, rural kids who were very, very isolated from larger communities can come together on the internet in a way they didn't in real life. certainly for lgbt youth. so those places where we flipped the script on people and raised up in a very powerful way can actually be some of the things we could start thinking about right away to be doing. >> so i would add -- and appreciate your question on so many levels because i do this
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work day in and day out and then i have twin seven-year-olds that i worry about everyday so it's -- the irony is certainly there. but the one thing i will say is that i certainly think that we can't assume that the school is aware of the fear that you have about your child. and so that's in part why we encourage parents to take our letter and share it with their principal or vice principle or the teachers themselves to let them know that these are things i'm concerned about. my kids, they're in second grade, they come home and talk about the election all the time. they have these conversations on the playground, who they're going to vote for, i they will them you're seven, you can't vote just yet, but it -- for me it's allowed me the opportunity to have healthy conversations with my children, people can choose, we're in a democracy just like you get to vote what we want for where we're going to go for dinner, whatever it may
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be. it gives me the opportunity as a parent to have these conversations with my children but in part because of the climate it wasn't until i went in and spoke to the teacher and principal -- even though they don't have a problem, you know, they haven't been bullied or anything but letting them know that this is something that i as a parent at the school am concerned about and i want you to be aware this is the climate and most of them know but depending on where you live and that i have a child in this school that i want to make sure that you're aware of the environment and some of the different ways it may manifest itself. now on the flip side, there are some other organizations that are doing great work in terms of improving cultural competencies in schools, making sure that teachers and administrators have this greater cultural competency and are aware of what does it mean to be muslim, what are the statistics? muslims are not all immigrant
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communities, they are diverse and there are -- the statistics range between three and six million, you may have one in your school, they may not have a name like mohammed abdullah, they may have a name like brenda. so it's something that is a great effort and there are ways to bring those types of conversations to schools. one last thing i'll add is i met this amazing 16-year-old who started a program at her high school in montgomery county called seek kid -- sikh kid to . and people didn't understand the difference between sikhs and muslims. they started an organization at the their school about where the kids talk to their teachers about what it means to be sikh, how is that different from hindu, how is that different from being muslim and they create a program around it. and they talk to other students and student groups so as your children get older, there are opportunities for them to own
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their own narrative, reraise them while they're young to be proud of who they are and you see that, seeing this 16-year-old girl start this organization to increase cultural competency to increase cultural competency, i'm sure you met her too. it was quite inspiring and, you know, i hope and maybe there are similar efforts by muslim students and other schools as well. there are things you can do as a parent. there's resources that can come to your school to -- for teachers and administrators and they can shape their own narrative as well. >> really quickly, i want to answer the question in the very different way which is i think that -- so we work with different marginalized groups within the muslim community. mostly women. a lot of our what our work is on gender equity.
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which is it's a little bit of a -- bullying is one issue of marginallization and patriarchy is another. i think one of the incredible tools of empowering muslim women is through knowledge of islam. and i think what is really the root of what's happening is that islam is being vilified. islam is being torn down. i think as proud muslims who are proud of their faith, i feel like we have to counter the narrative for our children at home so that, you know, these voices are so loud. but i think that there can be much more emphasis placed on creating a strong identity which is not only in just religious teaching of doctrine of practice and rituals which is all very important, but also, you know, for example, civic engagement. it's the time for voting and i find it incredibly powerful that the first group that ever voted in islamic history was a group of women. that's a story that our children
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should be hearing. and i think that that idea of democracy and civic engagement from a religious perspective should be part of our conversations. we can't stop what the kids are hearing on the news or stop what they're getting on social media, so i think this idea of really teaching islam in its just and equitable sort of scholarship that's done, check out the website -- shameless plugs all throughout this. but i think it's really -- i personally have found that's the been so transformative in the gender context for people who said we didn't know we had these rights. what we don't want to do is create a generation of kids who are saying, you know, i'm not out as a muslim because -- i'm so embarrassed of being muslim or i'm scared of being muslim.
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instead, we want to give tools primarily i'm putting more work on your plate for parents to be teaching kids about the legacy of islam and what to be proud of. >> a question. will you stand, please. thank you. >> hi, salaam, everyone. thank you for coming and helping us to learn more. i'm a paralegal, i worked for attorneys for nine years. some of what they love is hypotheticals. for all the panelists i want to give you hypotheticals that are similar but related. i would love for you to react to it. how about that? so i want you guys to imagine any public school and i want you to imagine three students. ka dee sa, a young muslim woman, any age. ali, a young male, any age,
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think of any sort of background, immigrant, american born, whatever. then think of bill, non-muslim student in the same context. i was really moved by your guys about whether or not kids have internalized and absorbed muslims are terrorists so it's okay for me to be called a terrorist. i want to think -- i want you to think about kadiza being called that and being emotionally affected by it, and ali being called that by a peer or a superior and ali being like yeah, whatever, like your cousin was. no big deal. i want you to think about bill who sort of is not muslim, not in this -- not understanding the same background and just sort of feeling like, why is kadiza so upset, i don't get it? and with this hypothetical i would love you to think about and talk about, you know, what
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happens in our community where you have these two muslim kids and they're interacting with each other in the schools or in the muslim community outside the school. and one kid thinks it's no big deal and another kid is emotionally affected by it. what i'm trying to get at is what you called empathy building and emotional intelligence skills and how this is going to affect the muslim youth. >> can we stick with the one for you? >> it's related. >> okay. >> i want you to flash forward 20 years. all three of these kids are 20 years older, in the workplace. i'm 20 years older, i'm still in the workforce and i want you to think about what this will do for people my age, people their age, 20 years as a teacher, as members of the workforce and as employees. so sorry -- it's a lot. but i think you can guys can handle it.
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>> so i think you kind of touched on this a little bit when you referenced -- >> i mean, it's a wonderful hypothetical. it happens every day. and i have seen it with lots of different subgroups of kids. i do focus groups with youth all the time, to talk about what's affecting them. i think that it does again default back to kadiza needs to be told it's unacceptable. she needs to be validated. she needs to be -- she needs to be assured that the kids aren't allowed to keep saying that. so we do need to address it. but the bigger context we need to pull back. what's going on in this school and i think jonathan, you said it best that makes it okay that this kind of stuff happens? we need to make it socially unacceptable. because there are consequences for how we talk about things. the difference for me, i don't
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want to criminalize that and i don't want to assume i know what the consequences for everything is. because i really do want us to be thinking about we seem to be -- we seem to be going in cycles. where we'll think about one particular subgroup at a time. instead of stepping back and saying how do we create a place where everybody, whether you have -- maybe bill has some issues. i don't actually know. how do we create a language and a consistency around that where everybody's individuality is actually validated. that's much harder piece of the work. i listened to the same panel and that young girl is awesome and i hope we get to vote for her some day. everything about her is phenomenal. but again she's in the position of recreating the wheel where,
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you know, this week it's this subgroup and this week it's that sub -- when do we step back and help ourselves see that i can't predict who it's going to be. but i can promise you that there's a very small native american population here in d.c. but that football team really does undermine a lot of kids' sense of safety and security. i want that addressed at the same time. so that pulling back to me, how do we really help all three of the kids going forward. that might have happened but that was not right. that's not the environment i want to have. going forward. >> i'm going to jump in and deal with a little bit with the last two questions. i don't have -- i have the privilege of not having to have that conversation with my kid. but i have a different special obligation because i have that privilege to -- >> what kind of privilege is that, jonathan? say it. >> the old white guy privilege. >> there you go. there you go.
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one thing i love about him. he acknowledges his white privilege and uses it for good. >> well, i make mistakes just like everybody else. so, you know, there is sort -- there is an obligation that i then have of modeling the behavior. so that bill sees somebody who says that's not okay. so bill understands through the experience of seeing somebody say what happened is not okay. i sort of -- i'm going to push back on the premise. i don't think -- i don't remember the name of the boy. ali. i don't think -- he may not think he's being harmed, he may not believe he is being harmled by it, but he is being harmed by it. so having some -- my obligation then as a parent is for my daughter to see that i don't stand -- it's very easy -- people do bad things.
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it's very easy to be silent about it and intervene and not try to -- and not make a difference because there are consequences to -- some of my privilege i have to give up. i have to, you know, expend that privilege on things. and for my daughter to see that i do that and build in her the -- to be a human being that will do that as well is i think a critical piece of change. it sounds very abstract and everything else. i think we all have to think about it. i think about it in the context of the debates and i know we're not saying the names, but one of the candidates said something horrible -- people saw guns and stuff and this, you know, this counterfactual kind of statement. then the other one said, didn't actually dispute the facts although she should have. but then went on to say something extraordinary because it was the progressive answer which was we need to build
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relationships into the muslim -- so that we have better intelligence and all that sort of stuff. well, dylann roof walked into the church in south carolina and nobody said how come the white community said dylann roof was going to do that? it doesn't -- it's a sense of unreliability about what a community is and the difference and the separation and stuff that you're talking about. and so -- it was sort of -- i mean, that was sort of -- i was watching the debates, my wife and daughter refused to watch the debates because it made them crazy and started yelling at my computer while i was doing it, but there was nothing else i could figure out what to do. that's on me in this room. it's the bad there aren't more people in this room tonight because that's who we need to be talking to, right? i have an obligation.
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carmichael said white people talking to white people and not black people about racism. that's the ethic that's important for us to remember. >> i think the only thing i would add to this is sort of a more anecdotal story about my own sister. we grew up in a small town outside of detroit in the '80s. she was on a school trip. this was when this was a spate of, you know, hijackings to planes and they were going to florida on a plane. and the chaperons joked around, you know, oh, are your -- you know, is your -- are you going to hijack the plane? this is on their way to the school trip, and, you know, when i look back my parents' response to that was, we packed up. we moved to ann arbor which is a much more progressive. so i grew up in a bubble. my sister did not. so she spent her first, you know, all the way through seventh grade growing up in an environment where she was the only muslim, the only person of
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color in her entire school, the entire elementary school. and she grew up in a very different environment than i did. and it's funny now when we talk about these things because, you know, she grew up in an environment where she didn't feel empowered to say something, right, because she was the only one. she didn't have allies, she didn't have classmates that were there supporting her and helping her. sort of get through things. and my experience was very different. i grew up in a bubble where even to this day, you know, maybe because of social media. my elementary school friends and high school friends are so supportive and what can i do? i had a friend who teaches now in guatemala who e-mailed me, asking me what can i talk to my students about, you know, anti-muslim bullying and students and what happens in america, right? i mean, that's kind of like the true power of, you know, just being in completely different circumstances. within our own family. and, you know, my sister doesn't have that. her high school friends are not,
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you know, maybe one or two of them are still her friends on social media, but have very different views about muslim and islam, so i think it's -- i think you're absolutely right in terms of thinking about what happens then and what impacts them 20 years later. i think if you don't do something earlier on, engaging with, you know, the families, talking with students, creating a culture of inclusivity and appreciation for diversity at a young age and a culture that fosters empathy, what you end up with is 20 years later the same people holding those same views. i think that's really the tragic part of it. >> i think we have time for one more question. yes. could you stand up, please. thank you. >> so my name is terry thompson.
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i am a school of divinity student at howard university. i'm also a lawyer, so i'm going to say i agree. lawyers don't have the answers. i like to believe that the faith community has some, but right now i don't think that they know what the tools are. i'd like to hear some discussion about -- from an interfaith perspective what are some of the things that the faith community can do, kind of from a more general perspective and helping to eradicate something like this. >> i'm going to let the panel to answer this, but i want to piggyback on something i should mention that i thought was right on target. this idea of teaching children and girls in particular the power and rights embodied in islam. i mention that because i reverted to islam when i was in my late 20s. part of, you know -- i hate to
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intellectualize my religious journey, but part of my attraction i was amazed as a feminist about the rights that the religion bestowed on women. i mean, women in 1890s were just getting the right to own property in new york, and iran in 7th century arabia was giving women the right to own property. i do think the faith based community doing exactly what i should mention, treat -- teaching and perpetuating and instilling the gender equitable principles of islam and other faith-based communities understanding those commonalties that we talk about when we do interfaith kind of programs. but let me pass that question on to our panelists. >> i was going to -- i always appreciate the question about interfaith efforts because
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that's really one area where i have seen where those interfaith relationships are built before hate crimes happen. to see how communities come together. communities of faith come together and really for the overall, you know, everything in communities, you know not just interfaith issues. but, you know, broader sort of social issues within a community that can be resolved through, you know, communities coming together. but one thing i wanted to add is that in recent months, every single time there's been a hate crime against a house of worship, almost always the first people to show up are interfaith partners. a mosque was vandalized last week in new jersey. before prayers the next day, you know, interfaith partners were there scrubbing off the hateful rhetoric. you know, we have seen time and time again where there are armed protests that take place outside of mosques.
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the first people standing there hand in hand to protect young children going to pray or protect the congregants are standing there and they're saying this is not what our community stands for. this is for muslim communities this is not what america stands for, so in moments where, you know, it's easy to feel, you know, as low as possible when you come to your mosque and you find feces smeared all over it, when you see the community come together and in large part it's interfaith communities that will come the next day, clean with you and tell you this is not who we are. that's really -- you know, it's truly beautiful. and this truly gives hope after such, you know, tragic attacks. >> so i love this idea. unless someone -- i love this idea -- sounds very kumbaya, but ending on this concept of hope. so if we can end there and
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please give our amazing panelists a round of applause. i do have a few announcements to make. those of you who are not familiar with kambo, we'll take your membership applications. can you stand for a moment, so these are two of the founding members of the capital american muslim bar association. we are fortunate they had the vision so we can address the issues that we are seeing so prevalent -- that are so prevalent in the muslim community. thank you for your vision and for your work. we have a few upcoming events on november 3rd, we will be -- we have an election and opportunity to meet some of our amazing board candidates. please go to our website so you can see all of the events we have going on.
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november 14th, minority flight, why women of color are leaving law firms and how to turn the tide and that's cosponsored with the woman's bar association. we have flyers out front that list some of the other upcoming events. i encourage you to get involved. courtney dun, thank you for your involvement and thank you for coming. we appreciate you. supreme court associate justice clarence thomas is scheduled to make a rare public appearance tonight at the federalist society here in washington. that's expected to be around 9:00 eastern on c-span. speaking of the supreme court the justice recently heard oral argument in a case involving discriminatory lending practices. the case says bank of america
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versus miami. we'll bring that oral argument to you friday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. the national book awards took place last night in new york city, hosted by comedian larry wilmer. we will show you that event on c-span 2's book tv. as washington prepares for the start of the 115th congress in january, freshman representatives are making their way to the capital. we caught up with one of them recently. >> we're with congressman elect gonzalez of texas. 15th district for those that aren't familiar with the 15th district, where in texas is it? >> it begins on the mexican border of mcallen and it's an eight county district. >> so if trump builds the wall, you would be impacted. can you about the border issues
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and what the barrier between the united states and mexico is right now. >> well, a wall won't work. if it did, i would be for it. we did a good job of securing our boarders particularly in texas. we have state troopers throughout our border region. security is much more controlled than people imagine. obviously we need to continue to improve it and make it better. just, you know, obviously a border wall sounds good. you know, it's campaign rhetoric, but in terms of reality i would invite donald trump to come down and see things for himself and i think he might have a different point of view. >> and as a democrat, what advice are you giving to the democratic leadership in congress, specifically on the immigration and border security issue especially now that democrats are in the minority in both chambers. >> right. we need to find common ground with the other side and i'm here to work to try to make america better and move our region forward. we have an immigration policy that doesn't work. the policy that's in place now has divided families.
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we have parents and children living in different countries. husbands and wives. it's broken families. it's not who we are as a country and not who we are as a region. that's something we need to continue to work on. >> what did you do since you ran for congress? >> i have been practicing law for two decades in texas. so i'm new to politics. >> any immigration cases or any of your legal issues touch on those? >> well, my cases ended up having immigration issues because a lot of the people i represented had immigration issues. even though i was represented on civil cases. it was a time we couldn't get ahold of one of the family members or our families were broken because of the immigration policy in place. many times i would have to travel across the border to get documents signed because folks who had legal actions, you know, beneficiaries of something in the united states could come across and sign a simple document.
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these are folks who weren't interested in moving here. these are folks who needed to take care of business. >> what is that process like, traveling across the border for you and your hometown. describe that for those who didn't live on the border. >> you know, traveling across the border has been a tradition for hundreds of years in texas. we do a lot of commerce. they're our largest trading partner. they're an important part of the community. now i'll say this. it has become more dangerous and we need to work on that. we need to engage the government of mexico and the state across our border to make it safer than it ever has been before. seven years ago, and prior, it was a lot safer than it is today. i'll concede that. but in terms of security in south texas we are one of the safest communities in the state. you know, i feel very comfortable there. i think people who come down to visit will tell you the same thing. >> have you thought much about your committee assignments in congress? >> i have. we're trying to -- you know, we start at the top. we're asking for appropriations and, you know, my predecessor was on financial services which he'll leave a void after he's gone.
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transportation is a big issue. i'm very interested in trying to implement a fast rail from san antonio to the valley, the border area. even all the way into monterrey, mexico. those are important things. agriculture is huge. so these are all committee assignments i'm asking for and hopefully will be fortunate to -- >> thank you congressman elect gonzalez. follow the transition of government on c-span. as donald trump becomes the 45th president of the united states. and republicans maintain control of the u.s. house and senate. we'll take you to key events as they happen without interruption. watch live on c-span. watch on demand at or listen on the free c-span radio app. >> thank you very much, welcome to congress. thank you. now middle east policy
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expert and commentator hassan hassan and others discuss the future of the islamic state. this hour and 25 minute event was hosted by the atlantic council in washington, d.c. >> so i want to thank everybody for coming. it's great to have this many people interested in the panel. especially one week before what i think is a consequential election coming up and perhaps, you know, talk about the islamic state. maybe a respite from all of this news that keeps coming at us on an hourly basis about what's going on in our own political system. and we hope you enjoy the talk today.
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i want to first introduce our panelists before i begin to give a lay of the land in sign posts our conversation today. sitting to my immediate left, your right, is hassan hassan. a resident at the tahrir institute. and next to hassan on the left is jessica mcfay lewis. lewis mcfay. the director of trade craft innovation at the institute for the study of war. and also to the -- on the far left, howard chats, a senior economist at the rand corporation whose latest isis related publication is called foundation of the islamic state. rather than do prepare speeches we'll have this more of a discussion format about current related events related to the islamic state.
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but also building upon that a lot of the history, its foundations, where it came from. then what we can learn from that for perhaps future policy options for the next american administration after the election. so i think it's actually best to start with both hassan and jessica as we look forward as we start here. obviously, in the news we have the battle for mosul going on. it began i believe about two weeks ago. and for me personally it's going faster than i thought. it's going well, but i'm not an expert on these type of topics. how would you judge the current battle and what do you think it for tends about the -- portends about the current war of the islamic state? >> i think iraq recognizes this as the most important offensive -- not only against islamic state but an offensive, you know, conducted by iraqi -- by iraqis. president ber sany described it, he told the iraqi officials in
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baghdad that this is the first time that iraqis and the kurds -- kurdish peshmerga are on the same side. i think it an important offensive and so far it's going -- really impressively very well. going certainly on schedule. this is the second day iraqi forces are inside mosul. they're on the outskirts of mosul. i think so far it's going very well. the composition of the forces that are supposed to go inside mosul are the right force. they're professional iraqi forces and the federal police with friebl -- with tribal fighters from nato and, you know, sunni fighters. so i think so far there's cause for optimism. there are problems we can discuss when we -- you know, in the conversation later on. there are fault lines, there are
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problems that are starting to appear and emerge in the first now weeks. this is the third week of the campaign. >> certainly, i would like to echo first that the coalition that is attacking isis in mosul is impressive. isis is expert at trying to exploit seams among enemy coalitions and this coalition is going to outlast isis' efforts. i think they'll take the city centre. one of the challenges to face there are parts that aqi was likely never cleared so the clearing operation for the full extent of the city is a measure of success beyond taking the government buildings back. isis' defensives have been formed in rings. when forces began to approach mosul on the south, the east and the north of the city, they ran into some defenses.
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on some axis 95, so one of the measures of the success in defeating isis' defenses is to interdict let's say 90% of those. but one of the challenges that still means that ten efibs get through and that's car bombs that kill a lot of the forces on advance. so the casualties for coalition forces on the advance are still very high because the volume of isis' measures are intense. we're uncovering the tunnels. the momentum of the offensive is very impressive, despite these obstacles. i do expect that isis is expert in urban warfare and they have prepared the city to be a very long and protracted fight. but i also agree that while their defenses are excellent, the offensive is better and mosul will be cleared.
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but there will be challenges, not only around other spoilers trying to take key terrain such as on the left side of mosul which can induce a number of sectarian and ethnic challenge, not only at a local level, but a regional ones. there was an isis led offensive in kirkuk and the explosive campaign is being executed in baghdad. there are anomalous attacks not only in tikrit, but other places. there are places that within iraq that i expect to see isis try to divert attention and try to achieve some gains that not only counteract but the message that they'll achieve with
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durable gains. >> i think this a great place for you to jump in the conversation here, because jessica brought up the pred serss -- predecessor organization. we have seen this building an offensive against protracted insurgency and the efforts to clear it. can you talk about the origins of this particular threat, the islamic state, its bureaucratic structures in this area and why, you know, why it's such an interesting case study about the group itself and its predecessors. >> sure. the islamic state grew out originally of the group founded by al zarqawi from jordan. zarqawi moved into iraq before the united states led an international coalition invading iraq. and then he formed a group that in 2004 swore allegiance to al qaeda and they became known in
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english as al qaeda in iraq. now, if we go back to the 2004-2006 period the center of the power was really an bar province and even there they had already organized into an effective bureaucracy. the bureaucracy was built on the model of al qaeda. but then it was changed a bit to really be designed to take and hold territories. so what we saw in anbar in 2004 and 2006 was the province was divided into six sectors. each of those sectors had a leader and emir had the well defined bureaucracy. an administrative emir and there were coordinator between the different sectors so they would send the money up to the
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headquarters of the anbar province and they would send it down. each of the sectors was fund-raising on its everyone and had operational autonomy. even at that period, the anbar province was sending money up to the iraq level. so 2006, zarqawi was killed and two new leaders took over. al-masri and al baghdadi. we'll talk about iraq after isis and syria after isis. we are looking forward, so there's great uncertainty. to you a sense in 2006, 2007, 2008, what was the uncertainty, the big uncertainty was we didn't know if al baghdadi existed and who was in charge. it was assumed that al-masri was in charge. but we had the surge, the surge started late '06. actually, the surge started in 2007. but the uprising, the pushback
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by the sunni forces in anbar started in 2006. and we then see the violence migrating through iraq. anbar, the peak of violence was and october of 2006. it goes to dialo and the peak of violence is some time in june of 2007. it my grates finally up to -- migrates finally up to mosul which is a key node for bringing foreign fighters in and for raising money. the peak of violence was in early 2008, i believe. so that's the first element of the importance of mosul. the certain important part of the importance of mosul in the 2008-2010 period, al qaeda in iraq renamed the islamic state of iraq in 2006. never went away. so they had sleeper cells all around the country. and there was again the same kind of financing that i talked about.
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local areas would send their money up to mosul. send 20% up. mosul would reallocate. at this time, 2008 certainly mosul and the desert areas south of mosul, they were the only net plus areas in terms of fund-raising. so very important in terms of fund-raising. where did that come from? it came from skimming contracts, reconstruction contracts which is something to be concerned about going on. it came from shaking down a cell phone company. it came from oil sales, all the things we see today. so the other thing is that we knew that some of the leadership had sought refuge in the desert areas south of mosul. so they had cells in the cities and then leadership was somewhat
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off the grid, both in terms of their records and in terms of the location. the other element when i said there were sleeper cells all over, when we look at the financial reallocations we have a point in time, we have money coming up from anbar from baghdad, from diala. we have money going out to the same places and down to basra and to this day i don't whether there was a cell in basra or money going to the bucca prison, the big prison camp in basra, and we had money going into syria. that's another thing to take account of. this was even at the time a multinational group, rest and relaxation in syria fighters coming in through syria. so that's where mosul sits in kind of the importance for this group and that hasn't really changed. >> yeah. something that you all touched on sort of indirectly.
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i'll bring it up here is it's the battle for the city itself. you know, it seems from a military standpoint relatively straightforward. people you talk to say it's hard to defend but the difficult part will be the road that leads out, you know the one that leads through -- out into syria. so can you -- this is also what you -- when you run into the problems i think that you were alluding to. but i'm going to put my finger on it. so let's open it up to all three. one of problems you see around talafar and howard, if you want to jump in at the end, and all three can address it. >> it's a good way to talk about the bad things happening in mosul. i remember back when the offensive in fallujah was taking place, i was saying that mosul is going to be a much bigger problem. not because it's a big city, not because it's military challenge. but also because it's a political -- it's political
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flash point. it's a potential political flash point. at the time people said, no, mosul is different than fallujah because for a long time fallujah was a problem for iraq. whether during the saddam hussein regime or when the americans were there. they resisted any political order in baghdad. they didn't want to be dominated and so on and so forth. but mosul is a problem for many reasons. one is that -- i think we have reached a point in the fight against isis in both iraq and syria and we're going to get into syria in a little bit. where politics matters more than the military challenge against isis. and mosul is a perfect example because there are so many -- so many stakeholders are involved in mosul and many people want a piece of the pie


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