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Analysis, background reports and updates from the PBS NewsHour putting today's news in context.

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    Photo by Molly Riley/Reuters

    Photo by Molly Riley/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Monday that cities may sue banks under the federal anti-discrimination in housing law, but said those lawsuits must tie claims about predatory lending practices among minority customers directly to declines in property taxes.

    The justices’ 5-3 ruling partly validated a novel approach by Miami and other cities to try to hold banks accountable under the federal Fair Housing Act for the wave of foreclosures during the housing crisis a decade ago.

    But the court still threw out an appellate ruling in Miami’s favor and ordered a lower court to re-examine the city’s lawsuit against Wells Fargo and Bank of America to be sure that there is a direct connection between the lending practices and the city’s losses.

    Miami claimed that Wells Fargo and Bank of America, as well as Citigroup, pursued a decade-long pattern of targeting African-American and Hispanic borrowers for costlier and riskier loans than those offered to white customers. The loans to minority homeowners went into default more quickly as well, the city said.

    Wells Fargo and Bank of America appealed the ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court, arguing that cities can’t use the Fair Housing Act to sue over reductions in tax revenues. The banks said the connection between a loan and the tax consequences is too tenuous. Citigroup did not appeal, though its lawsuit also would be affected by what the appeals court does in response to Monday’s ruling.

    Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his majority opinion a city can make claim for financial harm under the anti-discrimination housing law. But he said the second issue, tying the loans to the drop in tax revenues, is more difficult. Breyer wrote that there must be “some direct relation between the injury asserted and the injurious conduct alleged.”

    The appeals court should decide that issue, Breyer said.

    Writing in dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas said he would have given the banks what they asked for and dismissed Miami’s lawsuit. Justices Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy sided with Thomas.

    The banks claimed that a ruling for Miami could lead to lawsuits asking for billions of dollars. The city said those fears were unjustified and pointed to similar lawsuits filed by Baltimore and Memphis, Tennessee, that were settled for less than $10 million each.

    Both sides saw something to like in the outcome. “With this decision, the Supreme Court has acknowledged the crucial role of municipal governments in protecting residents’ rights. In housing and lending as in other areas, cities can and should serve as a bulwark against discrimination,” said Dennis Parker, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s racial justice program.

    Wells Fargo senior vice president Tom Goyda said the bank’s case was helped by the court’s decision “We believe that under the stringent standards articulated by the Supreme Court, it will be very difficult for Miami or any other municipality to show the required connection between the claimed damages and unsubstantiated allegations about our lending practices, which do not reflect how we operate in the communities we serve,” Goyda said.

    The consolidated cases are Bank of America v. Miami, 15-1111, and Wells Fargo v. Miami, 15-1112.

    WATCH: A case about citizenship draws laughter and lively banter at the Supreme Court

    The post Supreme Court says cities can sue banks under anti-bias law appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum in Atlanta, Georgia, in April. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum in Atlanta, Georgia, in April. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Retired miners, college students and Planned Parenthood are winners in the $1.1 trillion spending bill unveiled on Monday. Losers are the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, efforts to store nuclear waste at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain and President Donald Trump, who had many of his recommendations rejected by Republican and Democrats.

    The catchall spending bill would fund government operations through September, rebuffing cuts to popular domestic programs targeted by Trump such as medical research, the Environmental Protection Agency, foreign aid and infrastructure grants.

    Democrats played a strong hand in the budget talks since their votes are needed to pass the bill, even though Republicans control both the White House and Congress. As a result, the measure doesn’t look much different than the deal that could have been struck on President Barack Obama’s watch last year.

    A look at some winners and losers in the bill that funds the government through Sept. 30:

    WINNERS:

    Anti-abortion activists (L) rally next to supporters of Planned Parenthood outside a Planned Parenthood clinic, Feb. 11 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Rebecca Cook/Reuters

    Anti-abortion activists (L) rally next to supporters of Planned Parenthood outside a Planned Parenthood clinic, Feb. 11 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Rebecca Cook/Reuters

    • Military. The bill includes $593 billion for the military, including $15 billion of Trump’s $30 billion emergency request from earlier this year. The Pentagon would receive a $26 billion increase over last year, a 4 percent increase. Military personnel would get a 2.1 percent pay hike.
    • Planned Parenthood. The women’s health organization will continue to receive federal funding despite repeated Republican efforts to deny the group money over the abortion services it provides.
    • Puerto Rico. The budget includes $295.9 million to alleviate an emergency budget shortfall in the cash-strapped commonwealth.
    • Retired miners. The deal includes $1.3 billion to extend health insurance benefits for more than 22,000 retired mine workers and their widows.
    • National Institutes of Health. The deal rejects Trump’s proposal to slash spending at the National Institutes of Health, instead giving NIH a $2 billion boost for cancer research and other programs supported by lawmakers from both parties.
    • College students. The bill restores eligibility for year-round Pell Grants for college students. The measure would provide 1 million students with an average award of $1,650 a year to take classes year-round.
    • Opioid funding. The bill provides a $150 million increase for programs to address prevention and treatment of opioid and heroin abuse. The money is in addition to $500 million authorized last year to address the nation’s ongoing opioid addiction crisis.
    • Great Lakes. The bill rejects Trump’s call to cut $50 million in Great Lakes funding to support fishing, boating, hunting and stopping invasive species.
    • Medical marijuana. The bill extends a policy that prohibits the Justice Department from using federal money to interfere with states’ medical marijuana laws. The prohibition has been in place since 2014.
    • Local law enforcement. The bill includes $68 million to reimburse law enforcement agencies in New York City and Florida that have borne substantial costs to protect Trump and his family. Trump frequently travels to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, while first lady Melania Trump and the Trumps’ son, Barron, require around the clock protection as they live at their home in Manhattan until the end of school year.

    LOSERS:

    A boy looks as U.S. workers build a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall at Sunland Park in the U.S. opposite the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Photo by Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

    A boy looks as U.S. workers build a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall at Sunland Park in the U.S. opposite the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Photo by Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

    • Border wall. Trump said at nearly every campaign stop last year that Mexico would pay for the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border wall, a claim Mexican leaders have repeatedly rejected. The administration sought some $1.4 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars for the wall and related costs in the spending bill, but Trump later relented and said the issue could wait until after September. Trump, however, obtained $1.5 billion for border security measures such as 5,000 additional detention beds, an upgrade in border infrastructure and technologies such as surveillance.
    • Policy riders. GOP leaders backed away from language to take away grants from “sanctuary cities” that do not share information about people’s immigration status with federal authorities. Trump’s request for additional immigration agents was denied and the IRS budget would be frozen at $11.6 billion instead of absorbing cuts sought by Republicans.
    • Yucca Mountain. The bill includes no money to revive the dormant Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada. Trump has proposed $120 million to restart the licensing process for Yucca Mountain in the budget year that begins in October. Nevada lawmakers strongly oppose the plan.
    • President Donald Trump. The president made concessions on the border wall and the White House backed off on a threat to withhold payments that help lower-income Americans pay their medical bills. Congressional negotiators rebuffed proposed cuts to domestic and foreign programs pushed by the administration earlier this year.

    READ MORE: Congress unveils $1 trillion spending plan to avoid government shutdown

    The post Who are the winners and losers in the $1.1 trillion spending bill? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A view of the Elmina Castel is seen in Elmina December 21, 2012. The Elmina Castle was built by the Portuguese in 1482 and would later become one of the most important stops on the Atlantic slave-trading route. Photo by Luc Gnago/Reuters

    A view of the Elmina Castel is seen in Elmina December 21, 2012. The Elmina Castle was built by the Portuguese in 1482 and would later become one of the most important stops on the Atlantic slave-trading route. Photo by Luc Gnago/Reuters

    Between 1500 and 1866, slave traders forced 12.5 million Africans aboard transatlantic slave vessels. Before 1820, four enslaved Africans crossed the Atlantic for every European, making Africa the demographic wellspring for the repopulation of the Americas after Columbus’ voyages. The slave trade pulled virtually every port that faced the Atlantic Ocean – from Copenhagen to Cape Town and Boston to Buenos Aires – into its orbit.

    To document this enormous trade – the largest forced oceanic migration in human history – our team launched Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, a freely available online resource that lets visitors search through and analyze information on nearly 36,000 slave voyages that occurred between 1514 and 1866.

    Inspired by the remarkable public response, we recently developed an animation feature that helps bring into clearer focus the horrifying scale and duration of the trade. The site also recently implemented a system for visitors to contribute new data. In the last year alone we have added more than a thousand new voyages and revised details on many others.

    The data have revolutionized scholarship on the slave trade and provided the foundation for new insights into how enslaved people experienced and resisted their captivity. They have also further underscored the distinctive transatlantic connections that the trade fostered.

    Records of unique slave voyages lie at the heart of the project. Clicking on individual voyages listed in the site opens their profiles, which comprise more than 70 distinct fields that collectively help tell that voyage’s story.

    From which port did the voyage begin? To which places in Africa did it go? How many enslaved people perished during the Middle Passage? And where did those enslaved Africans end the oceanic portion of their enslavement and begin their lives as slaves in the Americas?

    Working with complex data

    Given the size and complexity of the slave trade, combining the sources that document slave ships’ activities into a single database has presented numerous challenges. Records are written in numerous languages and maintained in archives, libraries and private collections located in dozens of countries. Many of these are developing nations that lack the financial resources to invest in sustained systems of document preservation.

    Even when they are relatively easy to access, documents on slave voyages provide uneven information. Ship logs comprehensively describe places of travel and list the numbers of enslaved people purchased and the captain and crew. By contrast, port-entry records in newspapers might merely produce the name of the vessel and the number of captives who survived the Middle Passage.

    These varied sources can be hard to reconcile. The numbers of slaves loaded or removed from a particular vessel might vary widely. Or perhaps a vessel carried registration papers that aimed to mask its actual origins, especially after the legal abolition of the trade in 1808.

    Compiling these data in a way that does justice to their complexity, while still keeping the site user-friendly, has remained an ongoing concern.

    Of course, not all slave voyages left surviving records. Gaps will consequently remain in coverage, even if they continue to narrow. Perhaps three out of every four slaving voyages are now documented in the database. Aiming to account for missing data, a separate assessment tool enables users to gain a clear understanding of the volume and structure of the slave trade and consider how it changed over time and across space.

    Engagement with Voyages site

    While gathering data on the slave trade is not new, using these data to compile comprehensive databases for the public has become feasible only in the internet age. Digital projects make it possible to reach a much larger audience with more diverse interests. We often hear from teachers and students who use the site in the classroom, from scholars whose research draws on material in the database and from individuals who consult the project to better understand their heritage.

    Through a contribute function, site visitors can also submit new material on transatlantic slave voyages and help us identify errors in the data.

    The real strength of the project – and of digital history more generally – is that it encourages visitors to interact with sources and materials that they might not otherwise be able to access. That turns users into historians, allowing them to contextualize a single slave voyage or analyze local, national and Atlantic-wide patterns. How did the survival rate among captives during the Middle Passage change over time? What was the typical ratio of male to female captives? How often did insurrections occur aboard slave ships? From which African port did most enslaved people sent to, say, Virginia originate?

    Scholars have used Voyages to address these and many other questions and have in the process transformed our understanding of just about every aspect of the slave trade. We learned that shipboard revolts occurred most often among slaves who came from regions in Africa that supplied comparatively few slaves. Ports tended to send slave vessels to the same African regions in search of enslaved people and dispatch them to familiar places for sale in the Americas. Indeed, slave voyages followed a seasonal pattern that was conditioned at least in part by agricultural cycles on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The slave trade was both highly structured and carefully organized.

    The website also continues to collect lesson plans that teachers have created for middle school, high school and college students. In one exercise, students must create a memorial to the captives who experienced the Middle Passage, using the site to inform their thinking. One recent college course situates students in late 18th-century Britain, turning them into collaborators in the abolition campaign who use Voyages to gather critical information on the slave trade’s operations.

    Voyages has also provided a model for other projects, including a forthcoming database that documents slave ships that operated strictly within the Americas.

    We also continue to work in parallel with the African Origins database. The project invites users to identify the likely backgrounds of nearly 100,000 Africans liberated from slave vessels based on their indigenous names. By combining those names with information from Voyages on liberated Africans’ ports of origin, the Origins website aims to better understand the homelands from which enslaved people came.

    Through these endeavors, Voyages has become a digital memorial to the millions of enslaved Africans forcibly pulled into the slave trade and, until recently, nearly erased from the history of not only the trade itself, but also the history of the Atlantic world.

    Philip Misevich is an assistant professor of history, St. John’s University; Daniel Domingues is an assistant professor of history, University of Missouri-Columbia; David Eltis is a professor emeritus of history, Emory University; Nafees M. Khan is a lecturer in social studies education, Clemson University , and Nicholas Radburn is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

    This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

    The post This digital archive of slave voyages details the largest forced migration in history appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Herbert Hoover in an undated photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The business practices and decisions made by Instagram and, much more broadly, by Facebook are increasingly under scrutiny. We will have a closer look at that issue later this week.

    Now to our NewsHour Shares, something that caught our eye that may be of interest to you, too.

    Herbert Hoover may be best remembered as a rigid Republican whose presidency saw the start of the Great Depression. But newly discovered reels of film reveal a softer, more human side of the man and his family.

    The NewsHour’s Julia Griffin explains.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: Herbert Clark Hoover, engineer, humanitarian, and 31st president of the United States, he’s forever imprinted in our history books in Depression-era black and white — or maybe not. Seven recently unveiled home movies now place his White House in a colorful new light.

    LYNN SMITH, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum: You get used to seeing the ’20 and ’30s in black and white only, so, to see them in color is kind of like going through a time machine.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: Lynn Smith is the audio-visual archivist at Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum. In 2014, she discovered the films weren’t black and white, but rather Kodacolor, a short-lived product that requires a special projection lens to reveal colored hues.

    LYNN SMITH: It’s nice to have old color film, but White House color films, there’s only one first, and I think we may have it.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: The camera belonged to Hoover’s wife, Lou, an early home movie technophile.

    Now restored, the films show unguarded moments of first family life, a 1929 fishing trip, in which then president-elect Hoover catches a barracuda, or a game of fetch on the White House lawn between first lady Lou and first dogs Pat and Weejie.

    One even features Alonzo Fields, who served 20 years as the chief White House butler. Here, he stands in the 1930 Rose Garden.

    But the longest clip offers a rare glimpse of the president’s favorite physical activity: a morning match of catch the press dubbed Hoover Ball.

    LYNN SMITH: It was a 6-pound leather ball that was filled with stuffing, and they’d have Cabinet members, some members of the Supreme Court out every morning, six days a week. And they would toss and catch thing. They would score it similar to volleyball or something like that.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: The videos show the Hoover family’s lighter side.

    LYNN SMITH: He wasn’t just the dour, stone-faced man that was president during the Depression. He did have a heart and soul.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: Smith is busy scouring the museum’s archives for more shots like this.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Julia Griffin.

    The post Early home movies capture White House life in color appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Next: the rapid rise of one of the world’s biggest social media networks, Instagram.

    It’s building up steam, with 700 million people now using it each month, and it just took four months to pick up its latest 100 million new accounts.

    But along the way, the company has faced concerns over how it can be used, and even some criticism for the way it essentially copied ideas from its rival, Snapchat.

    Judy Woodruff recently got an inside look during her trip to Silicon Valley.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the first things that greets you inside Instagram is, no surprise, a place to take pictures. The free photo-sharing mobile app was born in 2010 with its first post, a foot in a flip-flop alongside a stray dog.

    Turns out it was taken in Mexico by co-founder Kevin Systrom.

    KEVIN SYSTROM, CEO and Co-Founder, Instagram: It’s a mixture of teams. So, we have got design teams, we have got partnership teams, we have got a community team, and then a bunch of engineers. We don’t really have an organization.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Systrom showed us around Instagram’s new offices in Menlo Park, California, designed to accommodate an ever-expanding staff.

    You moved here six months ago; is that right?

    KEVIN SYSTROM: Yes, six months ago, we moved from the original campus. And we designed this entire experience inside here to be cleaner, and a little bit more Instagrammy. So we have got the hip wood walls, and the polished concrete floors. It’s very start-uppy, but it’s in an Instagram way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A start-up no longer, Instagram was acquired by Facebook in 2012 for a cool billion dollars. Then, the company had 13 employees. Now it has more than 600 to keep up with a rapidly growing user base, 700 million monthly active users and counting, 80 percent of them outside the United States.

    How do you explain the phenomenal, rapid growth of this?

    KEVIN SYSTROM: On Instagram, very early on, you would post an image, and anyone anywhere in the world could see that image, and understand what you were trying to say without speaking your language.

    So, we like to say that Instagram was one of the first truly international networks in the world. And I think that’s what’s allowed it to scale to the hundreds of millions of people that use it every day today.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It still is a pretty extraordinary growth rate, isn’t it?

    KEVIN SYSTROM: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I mean, even with that rational explanation, it’s hard for people to understand how it happened.

    KEVIN SYSTROM: Yes. You know, back in the day, if you started a company, you would have to rent a warehouse, you would have to hire a bunch of employees. But, you know, with very, very few people sitting here in this building today, we’re able to scale it to hundreds of millions of people around the world, because of the innovations that we are built up upon.

    And that’s the cool thing about running a company today, is how many people you can touch how quickly.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: For a company founded on images, the walls here are adorned with some of the best, culled from Instagram users around the world.

    KEVIN SYSTROM: Well, not to invoke the common saying, but a picture is worth 1,000 words. And that’s kind of like the phrase that this company is built on. It’s just something that’s unlike traditional texts and traditional media. And I think it allows you to see a different side of people, maybe a more raw and human emotional side of people.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Celebrities have embraced the app. Singer Selena Gomez has the most followers, more than 118 million. And Beyonce has the distinction of having the most-liked image in the history of Instagram, 10.9 million and climbing, for this photo that announced she’s pregnant with twins.

    For teens, the quest for more and more likes and followers, plus the pressure for perfection as portrayed by some mega-popular users, is raising concerns among parents. Not only body image, but also bullying have become issues for some younger users.

    And Instagram is grappling with how to foster a safe community, free from abusive behavior.

    So, when you started Instagram seven years ago in 2010, did you have any idea you were going to be spending time, a lot of time now, thinking about protecting the people who use it?

    KEVIN SYSTROM: No, I would say, every day at Instagram is not only the most complicated day of my career, but also the most interesting.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you prepare yourself for this kind of responsibility? I mean, what are you, 32 years old?

    KEVIN SYSTROM: Thirty-three.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thirty-three.

    KEVIN SYSTROM: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All of 33.

    That’s a lot of responsibility, isn’t it?

    KEVIN SYSTROM: Yes.

    And there are a lot of parents here at Instagram who think deeply about a world in which their children are going to grow up online, and what kind of product they want to create, and what kind of legacy they want to leave.

    I don’t yet have kids, but in a world where I do have kids, I want to make sure that the world they grow up in is one that is safe online, and that Instagram led the way to create that world.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But with 95 million uploads a day, monitoring is a tall order. New guidelines are aimed at blurring out questionable material before the user even sees it, with a screen labeled “sensitive content.”

    There’s also a reporting function for content about self-harm or suicide. Systrom says the company’s work is far from over.

    KEVIN SYSTROM: This is a constant process. This is about making sure that we continue to evolve the way we attack the problem. This isn’t about getting to an eventual future where it is absolutely gone.

    That being said, it doesn’t mean that we can’t make real progress on it, and, more importantly, show the leadership that I think our company can and should, so that other tech companies do as well.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The pressure in Silicon Valley to lead, innovate and stay relevant is intense. And Instagram has come under criticism for its outright and successful copying of rival Snapchat’s video stories feature

    Instagram Stories, you have openly said was copied, in effect, from Snapchat. Is that what happened?

    KEVIN SYSTROM: The way things work in Silicon Valley is that companies will think up ideas, and, if they’re good, they will stick. And, often, they spread to other companies. And if we can learn from other companies that do it really well, we’re going to continue to do that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Advertising on the app is also growing and reaping rewards. There are one million active advertisers, a 400 percent increase from last year.

    How have you changed your advertising philosophy over time?

    KEVIN SYSTROM: Yes, there were two major changes, I think, to our advertising philosophy over time. The first was just to have advertising at all.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Period.

    KEVIN SYSTROM: That was a big one. But we always knew we were going to be a business, and that’s how we were going to be a business, was advertising.

    The second shift was going from a world where we had a small number of advertisers doing very refined ads to now, where we have many, many millions of advertisers on Facebook able to buy Instagram ads.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We ended where we began, in front of Instagram’s wall of photo-ops, where Systrom shares credit for how far the company has come.

    KEVIN SYSTROM: It was the right time, it was the right idea, and then it was the right team. You need a lot of things to go well to get to this point. So I feel very lucky.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The business practices and decisions made by Instagram and, much more broadly, by Facebook are increasingly under scrutiny. We will have a closer look at that issue later this week.

    The post How Instagram pictures the world appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Turning back now to the compromise reached in Congress to avoid a government shutdown, the effort to pass a health care replacement, and the president’s contentious relationship with the press, it’s time for Politics Monday, with Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    Welcome to you both.

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Good to be here.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Amy, I would like to start with you.

    So, government didn’t get shut down. That’s a good thing, right? What happened?

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Yes, great, they kept government functioning.

    (LAUGHTER)

    AMY WALTER: The most basic thing that Congress can do is to keep the lights on. So, yes, this is a success, but it also is not the hardest thing that they need to do.

    We have big, difficult pieces of legislation that we have been hearing about. Obviously, one of those pieces of legislation, health care, has already been pulled. There’s talk that it may be reintroduced this week or later on.

    But the fact that they were able to get one basic piece of legislating done, which, by the way, is supposed to be the easiest, I don’t think means that we’re going to suddenly see the floodgates open and now everything is going to…

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Kumbaya.

    (CROSSTALK)

    AMY WALTER: Right, everybody is going to work together and get the big stuff done.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Tam, do you think that is right? Have we just lowered the bar so low that, when they do basic things like cross kids across the sidewalk to school, that is a huge victory?

    TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Yes, and if you liked this movie, just wait. The sequel comes in September.

    AMY WALTER: Right.

    (LAUGHTER)

    TAMARA KEITH: Because this was just basically finishing out of the year. The year ends at the end of September.

    And what the Trump administration is saying is, you know, we didn’t try that hard to get what we wanted this time around because it was already — the process was under way. It was a bipartisan effort. But we’re going to really fight for what we want next time around.

    So, it becomes potentially a bigger battle in September, where you have a president who needs to prove that he can get some of the things that he wants. And Democrats aren’t going to be any more willing to roll over than they were this time around.

    This — it is a fascinating thing. Basically, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been fighting over how to fund the government, and not very successfully fighting about it, for years and years and years and years. And then you just — you know, we’re on like the eighth or ninth sequel. It’s like “The Fast and the Furious.”

    (LAUGHTER)

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Do you think this is just …

    AMY WALTER: But without any of the cool …

    (CROSSTALK)

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Right, no car crashes, no Vin Diesel.

    AMY WALTER: No Vin Diesel.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Was this just a case where the GOP was scared that they were going to get the blame?

    AMY WALTER: Yes, if you control the government, you get all the blame, and you get the credit.

    And the bottom line is, we have seen now in these past 100 days that, despite the fact that Republicans control all three levers of government, getting stuff done isn’t as easy as they thought it was. The president himself has said, boy, this is a little bit harder doing this governing thing that I thought.

    And he is rightly pointing to the fact that Republicans have never had to govern before. They have been — most of them have been in the minority. They have never been with a Republican president. They have never had control of government.

    So, this is a brand-new experience for them. All the old fights that, by the way, to Tam’s point, have been brewing for years and years and years — this isn’t Donald Trump’s fault. The divisions between Republicans on a whole host of issues have been there, I would argue, going all the way back to the Bush administration on a lot of these issues.

    They didn’t just get cleared away because there is a new president.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On health care, Tam, rumblings that there might be a piece of legislation. Are they going to be able to solve these divisions that they — that the GOP discovered last time they tried to do this?

    TAMARA KEITH: So, these rumblings have been rumbling basically every week since the health care bill in the House failed to get a vote. They pulled it from the floor without a vote because it was going to fail.

    So, these rumblings happen every single week. They are happening again. But until we see House leaders put a bill on the floor, the votes aren’t there. When they have the votes, they will put it up for a vote. But in the meantime, we will continue to talk about it.

    Today, in a Bloomberg interview, the president said, I want this to be good for sick people. It’s not in its final form right now. It will be every bit as good on preexisting conditions as Obamacare.

    What he is describing is not the thing that they are potentially voting on right now, because advocates from various nonpartisan groups will say that it isn’t as good on preexisting conditions. So, does that mean that this is reopened? I guess we will find out.

    AMY WALTER: Yes.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Right.

    AMY WALTER: And that’s a very difficult place if you are a Republican right now.

    Your choice is, we don’t get anything done, and then the base is furious at you, because you have been telling Republicans, you have been telling the whole country, vote for us, we going to repeal Obamacare.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For seven years.

    AMY WALTER: For seven years. Don’t do it, that’s a problem.

    Or you do pass something that is not particularly popular, where you lose the support of your moderate wing of your party, the folks who, by the way, are in the most vulnerable districts, most likely to lose in a midterm election. They are voting no because they see it as being unpopular, whether on preexisting conditions or others.

    That is a very uncomfortable spot to be. Don’t pass anything, people are angry with you. Pass something that even a lot of your supporters don’t like, and then you have to defend it coming up in the midterm election. This is a very, very — you know, it’s like being in a vice. Not comfortable.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Let’s talk about this weekend.

    Let’s just say, if I had been Rip Van Winkle, and I woke up, say, Sunday morning and looked at the newspaper, and saw President Trump had had that rally and seen clips from that rally, I would think we were still in the middle of a campaign.

    TAMARA KEITH: It was absolutely a campaign rally. It was put on by his campaign. It included some of the greatest hits from his campaign, including the snake poem, song thing that was hugely popular among his supporters that it is supposed to be a cautionary tale about immigrants coming…

    (CROSSTALK)

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: There is about — Trump is saying, if you let the snake into your house, and that snake bites you, who is to blame? You are to blame.

    TAMARA KEITH: Exactly.

    And it’s been something — it’s the kind of thing where he would say, I might talk about the snake at his rallies, and people would go, rah!

    And this that is exactly what happened at this rally. He also did the CNN is terrible, the failing New York Times, the whole thing, a lot of bashing of the media, which is kind of fascinating, because it comes in a week where he has done so many interviews with basically every news outlet in America.

    If the media is the opposition party or whatever he wants to call it, why does he keep talking to us?

    (LAUGHTER)

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Right.

    AMY WALTER: And his campaign, by the way — on top of all of this, not only did he have a campaign-style rally as a president, but his campaign is literally running ads right now that look like…

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Right. How unusual is that?

    AMY WALTER: It’s not that unusual for a president out of the time when he is running for president trying to sow some good feelings.

    And, definitely, he needs to boost his approval rating. But it is unusual that the campaign itself is already spending money trying to talk about a president who is 100 days into his presidency.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Right.

    AMY WALTER: The other thing you noticed was, it wasn’t just the media. Of course, they had their own special event where they were defending themselves against attacks from Donald…

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The correspondents dinner.

    AMY WALTER: Right, which, again, felt like we were back in 2016.

    And then there were rallies around the country, especially here in Washington, D.C., on climate change, where you had the so-called resistance shouting about how much they dislike the president and want to see him go.

    So, it feels like we are never going to break out of this …

    (CROSSTALK)

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s probably why he wanted to get out of town.

    Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you both so much.

    AMY WALTER: You’re welcome.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    The post Does the spending compromise set Congress up for a bigger fight later? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo of school buses by Getty Images.

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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But first: A new investigative report finds a disturbing pattern. Sexual abuse of students by other students happens more frequently in schools than reported, and the consequences for the offenders vary considerably.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: A hidden horror educators have long been warned not to ignore — that’s the description of sexual abuse in schools by the Associated Press, which published its story today.

    AP Reporters found that students were seven times more likely than adults to sexually assault another student. During a four-year period, the AP tallied at least 17,000 cases around the country. These included many cases that were treated as bullying or hazing instead.

    Emily Schmall is a member of the AP team. She joins me now from Dallas.

    Emily, thanks for joining us.

    One key point you’re making is that this happens more often than we know, right? Is it possible to say how pervasive it is?

    EMILY SCHMALL, Associated Press: Yes, it’s absolutely true. It happens far more often, I think, than people realize.

    To say exactly how pervasive it is, it’s difficult though, because, just like rape and sexual assault perpetrated in other places, rape and sexual assault in schools is definitely under-reported.

    So, while we have been able to tally about 17,000 incidents over the four years, experts have told us it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, let’s establish what we are talking about. Really, we’re going beyond bullying, beyond hazing. Tell us what you are looking at exactly.

    EMILY SCHMALL: Yes.

    So, we were very, very deliberate in what we counted. And we are looking at sexual assault as defined by the Justice Department, which means forced intercourse or sodomy, forced oral sex, the most severe forms of sexual assault.

    We deliberately didn’t include categories like sexual harassment or bullying, even though, as you noted, sometimes, sex assaults are reported as these things.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so if you look at the rules governing schools, I gather that it really varies from state to state in terms of how much this is tracked and what kind of actions are taken.

    EMILY SCHMALL: Yes, and even sometimes within school districts.

    There’s no federal requirement that says schools have to track student-on-student sex assault, even though for a long time schools have been tracking things like free and reduced lunch, guns, drugs on school property. This is just something that they are not obligated to track.

    So, various states do collect some sort of information, but it’s inconsistent state to state. And a lot of times, school districts sort of have the discretion over how they report these things. Therefore, in a case — there were plenty of cases we found where they have led to a criminal charge, but the act it itself was categorized and reported to the state as bullying or as sexual harassment or as a lesser form of sex offense.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You referred to this a little bit earlier, Emily. Just in terms of why these cases float so much under the radar, why we know so little, spell that out a little bit.

    EMILY SCHMALL: Yes, so the experts we spoke to said there’s just a real reluctance on the part of not only school administrators, but parents as well, to acknowledge this for what it is.

    They have a hard time recognizing that kids at such a young age can be perpetrators or be victimized in this way. So, that’s part of it.

    The other part is that a lot of schools have said that they aren’t really aware of what they are supposed to do when an allegation of sexual assault between students surfaces. And then, lastly, some experts have actually said that schools are just looking after their public image more than they are the victims.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, of course, in the wider public, it’s just something hard for all of us to want to even discuss, I assume.

    EMILY SCHMALL: I think so.

    I mean, I think there’s still really a stigma about sexual violence, not only in the context of K-12 schools, but in our country at large. So it’s even more intense at the younger school level.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so what can or should be done? What — for parents, for educators? What are the experts telling you?

    EMILY SCHMALL: Well, the experts are saying that, you know, there is a real reluctance among, not only school administrators, but parents as well, to acknowledge, even, that this is happening and that kids of such a young age are perpetrating these kinds of offenses.

    So the experts say that it needs to be recognized for what it is. There are a lot of people working in the space of how we solve this, how we empower other kids to report it. It is actually something that we’re going to be taking on later on in the series. Our stories are running every Monday in May.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Emily Schmall of the AP, thank you very much.

    EMILY SCHMALL: Thank you.

    The post Student on student sexual assault is more common than we thought appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People who fled fighting in South Sudan are seen walking at sunset on arrival at Bidi Bidi refugee’s resettlement camp near the border with South Sudan, in Yumbe district, northern Uganda December 7, 2016. REUTERS/James Akena - RTX2V727

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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The world’s youngest country is tearing itself apart. South Sudan was founded in 2011, but, two years later, forces allied to the president and vice president began fighting each other. That civil war has now led to the near collapse of the country.

    In partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, special correspondent Jane Ferguson begins a series of three reports.

    Tonight is a look at this brutal war and its tribal roots.

    And a warning: Some images and stories in this report are disturbing.

    JANE FERGUSON: This was once a busy market town. Villagers from the countryside would come to Leer to trade goods and catch up on news. Now there is no one. All the people have fled into the bush, hiding from violent raids by government soldiers.

    We found some of them a few miles away in rebel-held land. They had crept out of hiding to get help from aid agencies. Without it, they will starve. Their stories of what they have endured are horrifying.

    RUOT MACHAR, Displaced Person (through interpreter): The government is killing men, women and children, and sometimes they even cook the dead bodies and force us to eat them. My 5-year-old daughter was slaughtered, and they made me eat her body.

    JANE FERGUSON: Tales of such brutality are common in South Sudan’s civil war. A fallout between president Salva Kiir and his vice president, Riek Machar, began in 2013, tearing the country along tribal lines.

    Kiir is from the Dinka tribe, Machar from the rival Nuer tribe. Fighting between the two sides soon involved other subtribes. Battles broke out across the country. Murderous raids on civilian communities are a favored tactic, according to Jonathan Pedneault of Human Rights Watch.

    JONATHAN PEDNEAULT, Human Rights Watch: Both opposition and government fighters see various specific ethnic groups as being supportive of their — either of their opponents. And in order to decrease the military capacities of their opponents, they decide to target civilians, because, without civilians, those fighters won’t have a place to stay, they won’t receive food, they won’t receive popular support.

    So, the aim by targeting civilians is, in effect, to cut the grass under the feet of those fighters.

    JANE FERGUSON: This is what ethnic cleansing looks like. Entire populations of specific tribes are being forced out of areas in South Sudan.

    Malakal town was a mixture of tribes. Government and opposition forces have been fighting over it throughout the war, both committing atrocities. Each time the town changed hands, civilians of a specific tribe were targeted. It’s now controlled by Dinka government soldiers.

    Entire neighborhoods, where the Nuer and other tribes at risk used to live, lay silent and empty, the grass reclaiming streets that used to be home for so many.

    We are not allowed to get out and film in the town center. There’s lots of police and army around, but what there aren’t are civilians who live here. This was once South Sudan’s second biggest city. And the streets and neighborhoods are completely abandoned now. Civilians are fleeing towns and cities across South Sudan because of repeated attacks. And they’re just turning into ghost towns.

    They ran to this camp just outside the town. It is a dusty, miserable place, where sewage runs between shacks and desperately poor survivors of the violence try to go on living.

    Elizabeth is one of them. A single mother of six, she sells cups of tea in the camp to earn some money. But the memory of what happened in the town is always with her.

    ELIZABETH SHOL ROUT, South Sudan (through interpreter): I saw many people killed, including my brother. They called my brother to come out of the house and shot him in front of me.

    JANE FERGUSON: The only thing standing between her and the government soldiers are U.N. peacekeeping soldiers. They guard this camp and others like it across South Sudan, trying to stop more massacres.

    The U.N. said in December in a statement South Sudan is on the brink of all-out genocide, similar to what happened in Rwanda in 1994. And yet its peacekeepers seem unwilling or unable to stop it.

    Last year, government soldiers forced their way into the camp, and over several days murdered more than 25 people and injured and raped many others.

    Elizabeth shows us where they came in. She remains bitter that the U.N. soldiers didn’t stop them.

    ELIZABETH SHOL ROUT (through interpreter): They did nothing. When they saw the soldiers cut the fence and come into the camp, they just opened the gate to allow the people to escape.

    JANE FERGUSON: There are over 13,000 U.N. peacekeeping soldiers in South Sudan. More than 200,000 civilians have fled to their bases across the country when targeted by the violence, forcing the U.N. to create guarded camps in order to protect the people.

    Despite having authority to use force if needed to stop attacks against civilians, the peacekeepers have come under criticism for not doing so when attacks have happened in front of them.

    MOUSTAPHA SOUMARE, United Nations: Peacekeeping, and that’s all it is. It’s really you keep peace. So, normally, the people who come in peacekeeping, the troops and so on, are really prepared in the spirit of peacekeeping, not really entering into direct fight.

    JANE FERGUSON: Despite this, he says the U.N. have now pushed their forces to improve.

    MOUSTAPHA SOUMARE: They have been instructed that, if you see something like that, you make a warning shot. If people are — really not responded, you can actually use your firearm on that.

    JANE FERGUSON: South Sudan is the world’s youngest nation, and the international community played a major part in its creation. After decades of devastating civil war with the North, South Sudan finally won its independence with a referendum in 2011.

    American church groups and politicians had campaigned for the peaceful birth of the nation for years. But it was South Sudanese fighters, community leaders and advocates who sacrificed so much to see this country find its freedom.

    One of them was Alfred Taban. A veteran journalist and newspaper editor, he was jailed and tortured repeatedly for years in the northern capital of Khartoum for calling for independence.

    ALFRED TABAN, Journalist: Well, I knew we were going to succeed. I knew we had not — we had not done anything bad. We were struggling for our rights as human beings. And that’s what led me to survive. I knew we will succeed.

    JANE FERGUSON: After sacrificing so much for his country, its rapid descent into civil war has broken his heart.

    ALFRED TABAN: The killing of one another started, the Nuers being killed, the Dinkas being killed and other tribes, then I knew things had really gone bad. Then I knew that partly we — or they themselves, they were not only struggling for the people, but they were struggling for themselves to lead or to rule. I became very, very disappointed.

    JANE FERGUSON: In frustration, he wrote a column in the newspaper he runs calling for the leaders of both sides in this war to step down. Shortly after, the government he sacrificed his freedom for jailed him for nearly two weeks.

    ALFRED TABAN: They were not struggling for their people. They were struggling for themselves. And this is why really the struggle of the people of South Sudan has been hijacked from the very beginning. It has become a struggle for position and wealth, not a struggle for the betterment of the lives of the people of South Sudan.

    JANE FERGUSON: Yet neither side in this war is backing down. It is spiraling into a frenzy of ethnic-driven murder and revenge. The dream of a peaceful South Sudan is dying with its people.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jane Ferguson in Juba, South Sudan.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For the record, the South Sudanese information minister canceled an interview with Jane Ferguson to respond to charges against the government.

    Tomorrow, Jane reports on the famine that the war has caused.

    The post South Sudan’s civil war spirals into genocide, leaving ghost towns in its wake appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the opening ceremony of the 30th ASEAN Summit in Manila

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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Now: the president’s weekend phone call with the president of the Philippines and the uproar that has ensued.

    SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: There’s a lot that the president talks to these leaders in private about. Privately talking about them, building a relationship can achieve results.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The White House defended what it said was a very friendly phone call. On the other end of that call, the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, a man who’s presided over a bloody anti-drug crackdown that’s killed thousands of people in his country.

    Also during Saturday’s conversation was an apparent surprise invitation from President Trump to Duterte to visit him in person at the White House.

    That prompted an outcry from human rights advocates, including the United Nations’ human rights commissioner.

    ZEID BIN RA’AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: My hope is that the president of the United States will convey this deep sense of alarm about the apparent shirking of the obligations under law.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The scale of the killing in the Philippines is enormous. Human Rights Watch found that over 7,000 people were killed in Duterte’s first six months in office. Duterte has been defiant, and was roundly condemned for comments like this last fall:

    RODRIGO DUTERTE, Philippine President: Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there is three million, what is it, three million drug addicts, there are. I would be happy to slaughter them.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: White House officials said the overture part of a wider effort to rally Asian leaders against North Korea and its missile program.

    Speaking to a summit of South Asian nations just before the phone call with President Trump, Duterte appealed to the U.S. to show restraint.

    RODRIGO DUTERTE: I will say just, Mr. President, please see to it that there is no war, because my region will suffer immensely.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Poor relations with the Obama White House led Duterte to threaten a pivot to warmer relations with China. The Philippines and China continue to dispute territory in the South China Sea, but, today, Duterte welcomed a Chinese naval fleet to his country’s shores.

    As for taking up President Trump’s invitation to the White House, Duterte played coy, saying he was — quote — “tied up” with a full schedule.

    For more on President Trump’s invitation to President Duterte, as well as his relationships with other authoritarian leaders, we turn to David Kramer. He served as assistant secretary of state for human rights during the George W. Bush administration, and is now with the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.

    Welcome.

    DAVID KRAMER, Former State Department Official: Thanks.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Your first reaction to the invitation to President Duterte?

    DAVID KRAMER: I think it’s one thing for the president to have a phone call with President Duterte. It needs to be done, given the tensions in Asia, the problems with North Korea, the challenges with China.

    It is a different matter, though, to embrace Duterte and to invite him here to Washington and to visit the White House. I think that’s going much too far, given the gross human rights abuses that are occurring in the Philippines, with estimates of some 7,000 people killed since Duterte became president in June, a number of victims of extrajudicial killings.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: We touched a little bit of this in the setup. How much do you hold Duterte responsible for those killings?

    DAVID KRAMER: He certainly is not discouraging them. In fact, he is encouraging them. He has taken credit for some killings, including when he was mayor before becoming president.

    And he is creating an environment in which this kind of action is being encouraged, not just condoned. So, I think Duterte does deserve a lot of responsibility. It is popular in certain segments, in part because a lot of the people being killed come from poor, impoverished areas, and they don’t have strong advocates speaking out for them.

    But there is this concern that it could spin out of control and create all sorts of problems. And it already has. I mean, 7,000, if that number is right, is an extraordinary number in such a short period of time.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Apparently, President Trump didn’t clear this with the State Department before issuing this invitation. Is that unusual?

    DAVID KRAMER: Well, the president of the United States, whether it’s Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George Bush, can basically do what he wants when it comes to invitations to the White House.

    But it is a little unusual that this kind of invitation wouldn’t have been prepared ahead of time as part of his talking points. The reports indicate that it came as a surprise, not only to the State Department, but to some people on the National Security Council and the White House as well.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Do you think of this invitation as an endorsement? You have described this as an open-arms embrace of sorts. Is the president endorsing this behavior by bringing this man seemingly with open arms?

    DAVID KRAMER: Well, in the statement, there didn’t appear to be any reference to human rights concerns in the Philippines.

    And by inviting a leader to the White House or to the United States to visit with his American counterpart, it does send a signal that the president is not attaching much importance to human rights concerns.

    We have seen the embrace of President Sisi from Egypt, the phone call to President Erdogan after the very controversial referendum in Turkey. We have seen the admiration voiced by candidate Trump and President Trump toward Vladimir Putin.

    So, there does seem to be this affinity for strongmen around the world, without an accompanying expression of concern about the human rights abuses that are occurring in these countries.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You were in the State Department. You know that presidents often have to deal with unsavory characters and sometimes that there is a strategic goal in putting your arm around someone who you may personally feel is a reprehensible human being.

    Couldn’t there be a strategic interest? I mean, couldn’t this really just be about North Korea?

    DAVID KRAMER: Well, for sure. Those of us in the human rights community have never argued that human rights should drown out other interests the United States has.

    We have energy, economic interests with countries, security interests, but we also have democracy, human rights interests with countries.

    And our argument is that that last set of interests shouldn’t be shortchanged in the pursuit of these other interests.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Let’s say President Trump did speak out and somehow condemned what Duterte has been doing or been involved in.

    Isn’t there a risk, given Duterte’s personality, that we could jeopardize the Philippines as an ally, who are a very crucial ally to us? Isn’t there a risk that he could sully that relationship?

    DAVID KRAMER: There is a risk. And we saw this last year when President Obama indicated he was going to raise human rights issues if he had met with Duterte, and Duterte responded with an epithet toward the president, and basically said he was going to turn to China and Russia.

    I think that’s a little more bluff, even though today there were Chinese naval vessels in a port in the Philippines that Duterte himself visited. But, at the end of the day, the Philippines-American relationship is longstanding.

    We have very strong ties between our peoples, our countries and our governments. And I think it’s important to use those ties as leverage to insist and press for better treatment of the people of the Philippines.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Last quick question.

    President Trump today also said that he would meet with the North Korean leader. How does that sit with you?

    DAVID KRAMER: I would hope that that would be a last resort after everything else is tried at lower levels. Granting an audience to the worst abuser of human rights, the North Korean leader, President Kim, is something I would hope we don’t see any time soon.

    The problem is, obviously, not just nuclear concerns, nuclear security, but also the treatment of North Korean people by its leader. That is a huge problem. And I hope that would also not get swept under the rug.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, David Kramer of the McCain Institute, thank you very much.

    DAVID KRAMER: Thank you.

    The post Why Trump’s embrace of Duterte is raising alarm appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Protesters gather at McArthur Park for the May Day protest march in Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 1, 2017. REUTERS/Kyle Grillot - RTS14OLW

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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In the day’s other news: Thousands of demonstrators across the country took to the streets in massive May Day events, mostly protesting President Trump’s policies. May 1 is International Workers Day, and has become a rallying point for immigration advocates and labor unions.

    Strikes and marches were organized in more than 200 cities. One protest in New York City denounced the president’s views on immigration.

    JAVIER VALDES, Protester: There is fear and there is anxiety. But what gives me hope and gives me resilience moving forward is that the community is resisting and saying this is not the way that we should operate in the United States and we have got to stop. And we are going to push back. And that’s what I am excited today. That’s why we’re here marching and being loud and visible.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: May Day demonstrations also took place around the world. In France, protests grew violent when activists interrupted a peaceful union march in Paris by throwing Molotov cocktails at police officers. They responded with tear gas and batons.

    In the U.S., parts of the South and Midwest braced for more severe weather today. This comes on the heels of a line of powerful weekend storms that killed at least 16 people. That weather system spawned tornadoes and heavy flooding, and inflicted widespread damage. Deaths were reported across five states: Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

    North Korea said it is ramping up its nuclear arsenal in the face of growing U.S. and international pressure. This comes two days after North Korea conducted another ballistic missile test, which failed. State television announced the new threat today, and hinted at more tests to come.

    MAN (through interpreter): Now that the U.S. is kicking up a racket overall for sanctions and pressure against us, we will speed up at the maximum pace to bolster our nuclear deterrence. It will be taken in consecutive and successive ways at any moment and any place decided by our supreme leadership.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: President Trump told Bloomberg news he’s open to meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, if the circumstances were right. He said: “If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely. I would be honored to do it.”

    Meanwhile, President Trump’s reelection campaign unveiled new ads today, hailing accomplishments of his first 100 days. The $1.5 million TV and online ad campaign touts achievements like the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, tax cuts, and the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. It doesn’t mention the failed attempt to repeal Obamacare or the president’s controversial travel ban.

    FOX News co-president Bill Shine has resigned amid turmoil at the network. Shine has worked for FOX since 1996. He was tapped as co-president after CEO Roger Ailes was ousted last summer, following a sexual harassment scandal. Shine was named in at least four lawsuits or allegations involving alleged sexual harassment or racial discrimination. His departure comes just two weeks after anchor Bill O’Reilly also left the network.

    The Trump administration today rolled back the nutrition standards for federally funded school lunches that were put in place under President Obama. That means schools can now delay implementing stricter requirements on the amount of sodium and whole grains in the food they serve. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue signed the order at a school in Virginia, after eating lunch with elementary school students.

    The Supreme Court ruled today that cities can sue banks for discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. But they must prove a direct connection between predatory lending and the city’s loss of revenue. The case involved a lawsuit filed by Miami against Bank of America and Wells Fargo, which accused them of targeting minority borrowers with risky, more expensive loans.

    And stocks were mixed on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 27 points to close at 20913. The Nasdaq rose 44 points, and the S&P 500 added four points.

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    Four people were stabbed Monday on the University of Texas at Austin campus in an attack that left one person dead outside the campus gymnasium.

    The stabbing was reported around 1:49 p.m. in Austin, according to university police, who said an officer arrived at the scene “within two minutes.”

    Police found the suspect armed with a “bowie-style” hunting knife, prompting an officer to draw their weapon. The suspect complied with orders to get on the ground, and was taken into custody.

    “Within about a block, there were three additional victims,” UT Police Chief Carter Page said. “This is something that obviously rattles any community.”

    University police named the suspect as UT student Kendrex J. White. An investigation is ongoing.

    This was the second homicide at UT-Austin in the last year and a half. Thirteen months ago, Haruka Weiser, then a freshman, was sexually assaulted and murdered near the university theatre building — about a mile away from Monday’s stabbing.

    Before that, there hadn’t been a death on campus since 1966, when 14 people were gunned down from the university’s tower, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

    Page described the four victims as UT students: three white males and one Asian male, all between the ages of 20 and 21. They did not clarify which of those victims was deceased.

    The three students with serious injuries were taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where they are currently being treated.

    At 2:14 pm, students and faculty were given the first emergency warning to stay away from that area of campus. The campus siren, installed in 2007 to alert the community to emergencies, was not activated. Page said it was not set off because of how quickly after the incident the arrest occurred; individual buildings were instead evacuated, or placed on lockdown, he said.

    The campus has since been cleared of any threats, and was never placed under a campus-wide longer on lockdown. Classes were cancelled for the rest of day Monday “while the investigation is in progress” according to a UT text alert sent at 3:19 p.m. local time.

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted he was “praying for all those affected by this heinous attack” and offered “all available state resources” to the university.

    President Gregory Fenves told reporters he was heart broken, asking “all our students call home, call your parents to let them know you are safe.”

    PBS Newshour will update this story as it develops.

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    UNITED STATES - MAY 1: Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., right, ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., conduct a news conference in the Capitol's Senate press gallery on the bipartisan agreement to fund the government on May 1, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In the art of the latest deal to come out of Capitol Hill, a number of President Trump’s top priorities were cast aside to get enough Democratic votes on board.

    Lisa Desjardins reports.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The massive trillion-dollar-plus spending deal keeps government funded through the fall and gives this Congress its first bipartisan success.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky., Majority Leader: These are important priorities for Congress and for the president. They reflect a lot of hard work. They promise to positively and meaningfully impact the lives of the men and women we represent.

    SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., Minority Leader: And, at the end of the day, this is an agreement that reflects our basic principles, something both Democrats and Republicans can support.

    LISA DESJARDINS: President Trump told Bloomberg News he’s — quote — “very happy” with the bill.

    What’s in it? First, what was a sticking point, security. In the end, the Pentagon got a healthy boost of some $20 billion. And Immigration and Customs Enforcement will see an increase of 8 percent, much of that for increased detention beds. The bill also funds 10 new immigration judges.

    But it provides nothing for a President Trump priority, the border wall. Despite that loss, Vice President Mike Pence, speaking on CBS, called the deal a bipartisan win.

    VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: It’ll avert a government shutdown, but more important than that, there’s going to be a significant increase in military spending. Our armed forces have been hollowed out in recent years by budget cuts.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Outside of defense, and in contrast to President Trump’s proposals, few agencies face significant cuts. Some, like the National Institutes of Health, will get a big lift, $2 billion. Plus, there is increased funding to help Puerto Rico’s financial crisis, to fund Pell Grants year-round, expand a mental health office and to fight opioid addiction.

    Also in the billion, $2 billion to extend, permanently, health benefits for a large group of coal miners and their families. House Speaker Paul Ryan said the bill makes America — quote — “stronger and safer.”

    But contrast that with Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio of the conservative Freedom Caucus.

    REP. JIM JORDAN, R-Ohio: I think you’re going to see a lot of conservatives be against this plan this week. Why did we last fall do a short-term spending bill, if we weren’t going to fight for the things we told voters we were going to fight for?

    LISA DESJARDINS: White House spokesman Sean Spicer acknowledged Republicans needed Democratic votes.

    SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: This is something that required 60 votes in the Senate. We couldn’t have our entire way on this, but we’re five months away from having a 2018 budget, and I think the president’s priorities will be reflected much more in that.

    LISA DESJARDINS: With the latest stopgap funding measure set to expire Friday, the legislation could see a vote in Congress as early as tomorrow.

    Two very hot topics, Planned Parenthood and sanctuary cities, as they are called, were ignored in this bill. Both keep their current funding for now, but expect those fights to heat up again likely as part of other bills, William.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Lisa,the Democrats are claiming this is a pretty big victory for them, the GOP, as we saw in your piece, a little bit less so. How do you see this shaking out?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Well, today, the e-mails came out first from the Democrats overnight. And it took a little bit longer to hear from the Republicans.

    But let’s look at — what their broad priorities, what they did here. Republicans made one big trade-off. They wanted defense spending to go up. They wanted some more border security spending, but not the border wall.

    For that, they trade off a slew of issues that were important to Democrats, as we said, Puerto Rico. But there is a whole other range of them, including, for example, the National Endowment for the Arts, which got a slight increase in this as well.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In the past, we have had shutdowns, or we came very, very, very close to having a shutdown. This wasn’t the case in this.

    The GOP seemed to think that they were just going to get blamed if the government shut down, and that is why they seemed to have backed off a little bit?

    LISA DESJARDINS: I think that is exactly right, because there were Republicans talking to us privately last week trying to get reporters in the framework of, oh, Democrats will be blamed if this shutdown happens.

    But the very fact that they were bringing that up, William, you knew that they were worried that they would catch the blame. Part of that is because they were blamed the last time that happened, because they shut down government over the Affordable Care Act and trying to end that.

    But I think there’s also an issue with Republicans that they are concerned that some of the issues they feel the most strongest about do not yet have majority of approval in polling, like Planned Parenthood. Most Americans want that to continue to be funded.

    So if they are willing to shut down government over something that is unpopular, they think that will go blow up against them. So they didn’t take those stances in this bill.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You touched on some of the very broad things that were being cut or being supported. But there are some very specific, real people that are targeted here or benefit here. Tell us about those people.

    LISA DESJARDINS: I get to use more graphics. I’m excited.

    (LAUGHTER)

    LISA DESJARDINS: Let’s talk about some of the winners here that I found poring through the bill that you might not hear about otherwise.

    The top of the list are military personal. They will receive a 2.1 percent pay raise. That’s something they have been fighting for. That is not an enormous pay raise, but it more than they had been getting, 1.6 percent, otherwise.

    Now, the cities of New York and Palm Beach, they have a lot of residents in common, I think often, in winner and summer. One of those, of course, is President Trump. And he has been costing millions of dollars to those two cities to try and protect him and protect their residents as he comes. They will receive some $68 million to help pay for that added protection. They are the two largest recipients of that money.

    And Amtrak, people who travel up and down the East Coast in particular, Amtrak is getting a big funding boost.

    Now, not everyone did all that well. A couple of things that I noticed that did get some cuts, you might not hear about, the Coast Guard. The U.S. Coast Guard will not be getting as big of a pay raise as the rest of the military, and they’re also getting a cut.

    And the U.N., listen to this, William. The U.N. will see some $640 million less from the United States in this bill that was passed than last year. That is a lot of money.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Indeed, it is.

    But from the outside, as an observer, this certainly seemed like a relatively civil process, with not the usual sort of fighting and recriminations. Is it too much to read into this, or do you think this actually could be a change in the tone on Capitol Hill?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Imagine that.

    I don’t think so, actually. I noticed, when senators and congressmen came back from their Easter recess, that there seemed to be less of a personal sense of animosity that we had had up until that point, and that there had been more of a sense of the political.

    So, I guess to paraphrase “The Godfather,” it’s not personal, it’s political. It had been personal. I think that’s good for civility, that’s good for conversation. But we still have a very large political problem, especially for Republicans. They still don’t have all the votes coalescing to get across the bills that they want.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Speaking of those, quickly, the health care bill, what is the likelihood we’re going to see something this week?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Yes, I think you will talk to Amy and Tam coming up. I would like to hear what they say.

    But I think right now, unlikely, for now. They do not have the votes. I think, we look ahead, a lot of these things, they are going to kick down the can. I also understand that the White House has been saying tonight that they will bring the border wall back up again later this summer. So I think we’re going to be regurgitating all of these issues again.

    Republicans will have more and more chances to get their votes. We will see if they do.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, the NewsHour’s Lisa Desjardins, thank you so much.

    The post The biggest spending bill trade-offs for Republicans and Democrats appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Donald Trump leads a rally marking his first 100 days in office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    President Donald Trump leads a rally marking his first 100 days in office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    What’s in 100 days?

    If you ask the media, who took the informal marker of the presidency as an opportunity to dive into Donald Trump’s early record in office, it was a lot of talk and international outreach, but not much movement on the domestic issues — like healthcare and tax reform — that made him popular as a candidate.

    If you ask budget chief Mick Mulvaney, as NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff did on air last week, the first hundred days was spent undoing damage from the previous administration.

    As for the chief: The presidency is harder than he thought, he told Reuters.

    No matter how you feel about the administration’s first three-and-a-half months in the Oval, here are five important stories overlooked in the 100-day fanfare that are still worth your attention.

    1. The miner isn’t the only American worker seeing huge job losses.

    One of the 68 Macy's, Inc. stores the company plans to close is shown at the Mission Valley Center mall in San Diego, California. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    One of the 68 Macy’s, Inc. stores the company plans to close is shown at the Mission Valley Center mall in San Diego, California. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    The story of unemployment, when it’s the focus of a campaign ad, is typically told using shots of run-down factories or warehouses and faces of coal miners or Americans who have lost manufacturing jobs.

    The 2016 presidential election was no different. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton offered many campaign promises to the people of coal country. Trump called himself the “last shot” for miners looking to reverse their misfortunes. Coal miners, who for years have seen job prospects dry up in the Appalachia region, gave the Republican candidate a chance to keep his promise.

    But some economists say a new face belongs alongside the miner: the retail worker.

    There have been at least nine retail bankruptcies declared in 2017, The Atlantic reported, matching the number seen in 2016. RadioShack and J.C. Penney, among others, have announced store closures.

    While politicians, some say, have paid little attention to the massive losses in retail jobs, The Atlantic said the decline shares a similarity with lost mining jobs: “They are both victims of the familiar forces of globalization and technology,” Derek Thompson of The Atlantic wrote.

    He takes it a step further: “[I]n an economy that will become increasingly digitized, automated, and otherwise inflected with new technologies like self-driving cars and artificial intelligence, Americans can’t get too precious about any particular job or industry,” he wrote.

    Why it’s important

    Coal waits to be among the last shipments to be loaded on train cars to depart the Hobet mine in Boone County, West Virginia. Picture taken in 2016. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Coal waits to be among the last shipments to be loaded on train cars to depart the Hobet mine in Boone County, West Virginia. Picture taken in 2016. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    The lost retail and miner jobs are emblematic of a changing economy, an economy driven by a confluence of factors, including technological advances.

    In fact, there have been reports predicting millions of jobs lost in the coming years to smart robots or automation. The World Economic Forum last year said in a report that 5 million jobs will be lost by 2020. In 2014, tech research firm Gartner said one in three jobs “will be converted to software, robots and smart machines by 2025.”

    When PBS NewsHour’s Paul Solman in 2014 spoke with Erik Bynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, authors of “The Second Machine Age,” they said human history had reached a new “inflection point.”

    Brynjolfsson said the first big inflection point in human history was about 200 years ago, at the advent of the steam engine and the industrial revolution.

    “That was a period that saw a whole set of new machines come along that could automate muscle power, physical work,” he said.

    In recent years, advances in technology started to outpace humans in many tasks, Brynjolfsson said, adding that he and McAfee’s prediction is that “ultimately, those will have as big, or an even bigger effect on humanity as the first industrial revolution.”

    2. Half of all species are on the move

    Caribou, like those seen here in Denali National Park, Alaska, are dying in greater numbers in certain parts of the globe, "because the abundance of forage plants now peaks before the animals arrive on their summer breeding grounds," according to a new study in Science. Photo by Lance King/Getty Images.

    Caribou, like those seen here in Denali National Park, Alaska, are dying in greater numbers in certain parts of the globe, “because the abundance of forage plants now peaks before the animals arrive on their summer breeding grounds,” according to a new study in Science. Photo by Lance King/Getty Images.

    On Saturday, more than 100,000 people marched in hundreds of cities around the world for the People’s Climate March, marked this year by protesters worried about how President Donald Trump will respond to climate change.

    But human-caused climate change has already drastically changed how plants and animals thrive (or not) on Earth, according to a new study in Science.

    For instance: Half of the 4,000 species tracked by the study are on the move. Land animals are shifting their home range more than 10 miles each decade, the study says; those in the sea are shifting the location of their habitats four times as fast.

    “We’re talking about a redistribution of the entire planet’s species,” lead study author Gretta Pecl told National Geographic.

    Here are just a few of the other things the study reveals:

    • The breeding season for birds and butterflies now begins four days earlier than it did a decade ago; for frogs and other amphibians around the world, it’s moved up eight days.
    • In Concord, Massachusetts, plants are flowering 18 days earlier than they did about 160 years ago.
    • Mountain plants in places like California are moving downhill, toward warmer temperatures. Other plant species are blooming longer, or not at all.
    • New hybrid species not yet fully understood by science are emerging; others — like the tropic red knot shorebird — are threatened by their changing environment.

    Because Arctic snows are now melting and insects are hatching weeks before the birds arrive, there’s too little food for the red knot chicks — and at least in the case of the population that migrates back to West Africa, the young birds’ beaks are too small to pluck mollusks from sandy beaches.

    Why it’s important

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    The study, detailed in a feature in National Geographic, offers one of the more comprehensive looks at how plants and wildlife are responding to climate change — from migration and breeding patterns to how and where we grow crops — and in turn, how those shifts are affecting us.

    “We’re undergoing the greatest change to our environmental systems that the world has seen in millions of years,” Pecl says.

    In Siberia, the study found, lakes that were used for fishing and watering reindeer are “vanishing into the ground.” Giardia, parasites that cause intestinal distress, are contaminating the streams and lakes that provide drinking water in Sweden. Because ticks expanded their range west of Russia’s Ural Mountains, scientists have seen a 23-fold increase in tick-borne encephalitis, an inflammation of tissue in the brain. And more bad news for foodies: funguses are popping up on more coffee plants in Latin America, as well as on olives and wine grapes in France.

    The study came a few days before the EPA removed several agency websites that dealt with climate change, including some 20-year-old pages that detailed the effect of manmade climate change in the U.S., and the steps citizens could take to reduce their climate impact.

    Officials said they would archive the pages.

    Meanwhile, Washington, D.C., the center of Saturday’s global protests, broke a heat record on the day of the march, as well as for the last month — it was the warmest April on record.

    3. California will investigate Airbnb hosts for racial discrimination

    Photo illustration by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    Photo illustration by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    California will now be able to better screen for racial discrimination by certain Airbnb hosts as part of an agreement between the company and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

    As reported by The Guardian, the agreement — the first of its kind — gives the regulatory board permission to audit the rental practices of people who list their homes on Airbnb, much in the way the state holds traditional landlords to fair housing standards now.

    The agreement was the result of a 10-month investigation by the state of California, after the state received several complaints about possible racial discrimination by the company.

    Last month, an Airbnb host in California was banned after allegedly canceling a reservation once they discovered the client’s race. Dyne Suh, a 25-year-old student at the University of California, posted screenshots of her conversation with the host to social media, adding she believed she was denied a rental agreement because she was Asian.

    The DFEH office will create fake Airbnb profiles to “pose as prospective renters in order to gather information about whether a hostse is complying with fair housing laws,” Fortune reported. There are limits, however. The agreement applies only to hosts who have complaints and have three or more listings — which means only 6,000 hosts out of 76,000 in Airbnb’s will be screened.

    Why it’s important

    California had previously filed a complaint against Airbnb in June 2016, after reports that suggested hosts routinely refused to rent to people who weren’t white and the rise of social media campaigns like #AirbnbWhileBlack.

    A study conducted by Harvard Business School in 2015 found that guests with African American-sounding names encountered more difficulty renting rooms via Airbnb. Researchers found that Airbnb hosts were 16 percent less likely to accept fictional guests with African American-sounding names than guests with white-sounding names.

    Like Uber and other sharing economy companies, AirBNB has been able to fly under the radar on certain legal requirements that more traditional stakeholders — in this case, landlords — face. This recent agreement could be a model other localities could follow, DFEH director Kevin Kish told the Guardian.

    4. Confederate monuments come down in New Orleans

    Thom Karamus, a New Orleans artist, stands with a sign he made in front of the former home of the Battle of Liberty Place monument, built in 1891 to commemorate a battle between the Crescent City White League and New Orleans biracial police force. It was removed April 24, one of four Confederate monuments the city of New Orleans was taking down last week. Photo by REUTERS/Ben Depp.

    Thom Karamus, a New Orleans artist, stands with a sign he made in front of the former home of the Battle of Liberty Place monument, built in 1891 to commemorate a battle between the Crescent City White League and New Orleans biracial police force. It was removed April 24, one of four Confederate monuments the city of New Orleans was taking down last week. Photo by REUTERS/Ben Depp. Photo by REUTERS/Ben Depp.

    New Orleans began removing Confederate monuments across the city last week, another chapter in the debate over what should be done about historic symbols that memorialize things considered racist or insensitive today.

    The Battle of Liberty Place obelisk, once a popular rallying location for the Ku Klux Klan, was the first of four monuments to be removed on April 24. The statue was originally erected to honor members of the “‘Crescent City White League,’ who fought against a “racially integrated” New Orleans,” Mayor of New Orleans Mitch Landrieu said in a statement.

    The monuments were erected decades after the Civil War ended in order to demonstrate “no sense of guilt for the cause in which the South fought the Civil War,” Mayor Landrieu said. The monuments honor the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy,” an ideology intent on keeping African-Americans subjugated despite the Civil War’s outcome, he said.

    Other monuments that will be removed include tributes to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard, another Confederate general.

    The Monumental Task Committee, an organization that preserves the city’s monuments, denounced the removals.

    “People across Louisiana should be concerned over what will disappear next,” Pierre McGraw, the group’s president, said in a statement.

    The statues are being placed in a facility until they find a place where “they can be placed in proper context,” city spokesman Tyronne B. Walker told The New York Times.

    Landrieu said the removal of the statues, approved by the city council in 2015, are not about taking something away, but instead about building a better future.

    “The removal of these statues sends a clear and unequivocal message to the people of New Orleans and the nation: New Orleans celebrates our diversity, inclusion and tolerance,” Landrieu said in a statement.

    Why it’s important

    People hold signs during a protest asking for the removal of the confederate battle flag at the South Carolina State House in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo by Jason Miczek/Reuters

    This file photo from 2015 shows people holding signs during a protest asking for the removal of the confederate battle flag at the South Carolina State House in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo by Jason Miczek/Reuters

    Two years ago, a battle over the confederate flag embodied the debate over how we treat the racial history of America today, particularly in Southern states, where some argue the Confederacy has a cultural meaning that shouldn’t be erased.

    That summer, the South Carolina House of Representatives voted 94 to 20 to remove the Confederate battle flags that had flown at the state house for more than 50 years. The decision was prompted by the fatal shooting of nine people at a black Charleston church in June. In October 2015, University of Missouri students protested the school’s longstanding statue of Thomas Jefferson, decorating the former president with post-it notes reading “racist” and “misogynist.”

    This year, the debate has focused on other Confederate symbols, like statues and memorials. A number of other cities — like Austin and Louisville, Kentucky — are planning to remove them. In places like Charlottesville, Virginia, the fight continues: laws prohibit local officials from taking down war memorials, CBS notes.

    “There are hundreds of these across the landscape of South,” University of South Carolina professor Thomas Brown told CBS. “The controversies over removal of monuments are partly over … who’s going to decide exactly what that public space is going to endorse?”

    5. A recent baseball milestone and a reminder of Jackie Robinson’s enduring legacy

    Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Gift Ngoepe (No. 61) reacts after recording his first major league hit against the Chicago Cubs during the fourth inning at PNC Park. Photo by Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Gift Ngoepe (No. 61) reacts after recording his first major league hit against the Chicago Cubs during the fourth inning at PNC Park. Photo by Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe made history when he debuted in a Major League Baseball game last week.

    Hailing from a Johannesburg suburb in South Africa, the 27-year-old became the first African-born player to play in the big leagues, after spending nine years in the minor leagues. At one point, third baseman Josh Harrison held his hand to his Ngoepe’s chest, as if to check his heartbeat.

    During the same game, Ngoepe also recorded his first at-bat of his career against Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester. At the crack of the Ngoepe’s bat, the announcer said, “And he has his first Major League hit! At 2:49 South Africa time, Gift Ngoepe has made history.” From the Pirates dugout, Ngoepe’s teammates reportedly yelled, “For the motherland!”

    There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.

    After the game, Ngoepe told reporters that this moment has “been my dream since I was a 10-year-old boy … but it also means so much to the people of South Africa and baseball in Africa.”

    Ngoepe’s debut was front-page news in South Africa. Not only was he the first South African player in major-league baseball, he represented the first player for the entire continent, Johannesburg-based sports journalist Thabiso Mosia told PRI.

    “It’s unusual that a sports story is front-page news in South Africa if it’s not controversial or if it doesn’t involve any corruption. But it’s even more bizarre because it’s the sport of baseball which is a minority sport in South Africa,” Mosia said. “A lot of people didn’t know who Gift Ngoepe was until a day or two ago when he made history. So it’s a huge story. There’s just a buzz here in South Africa that we haven’t witnessed in a very long time.”

    Why it’s important

    Atlanta Braves coaches and players wearing the No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson stand during the national anthem before a game against the San Diego Padres at SunTrust Park. Photo by Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports

    Atlanta Braves coaches and players wearing the No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson stand during the national anthem before a game against the San Diego Padres at SunTrust Park. Photo by Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports

    While Ngoepe’s debut became a milestone for MLB, the professional baseball organization also sought to help further preserve another moment in the sport’s history.

    Last week, there was a groundbreaking ceremony in New York for a new, long-in-the-making Jackie Robinson Museum. Set to open in 2019, the museum will be stocked with Robinson memorabilia, but it also aims to celebrate the African-American man who became a leading civil rights figure when he broke the color barrier in baseball in 1947.

    Since 2004, MLB has honored Robinson with his own day — April 15 — to mark his first season in the major leagues, becoming the first African-American to play in the modern era. A statue was erected this April to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Robinson taking the field for the Los Angeles Dodgers. His No. 42 jersey has also been retired.

    MLB donated $1 million to the Jackie Robinson Foundation for the project, which has needed $25 million to start construction, the Times reported. MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred said Robinson “took our game beyond sport.”

    However, the reality since Robinson took to the field is that the number of African-American players in the game have been steadily declining the past decade.

    By USA Today’s count, African-Americans made up around 7 percent of players on opening-day rosters this year, the lowest in 60 years. Compare this with 1975, which had an all-time high of 19 percent of African-Americans in the major leagues, according to numbers from the Society for American Baseball Research.

    An even smaller number of managers are African-American — two, to be exact — including the Washington Nationals’ Dusty Baker, who told the NewsHour last year that there’s been an inadequate job of passing along history, such as Robinson’s legacy.

    Baker also said “the scrutiny of being one of the few black, African-American managers is tremendous,” adding that it sometimes felt like he was carrying the weight of the whole race.

    A new PBS documentary produced by Ken Burns examines the struggles Jackie Robinson faced in breaking baseball’s color barrier — and his achievements as a player on the diamond and as a civil rights activist in later life. John Yang talks to Dusty Baker, manager of the Washington Nationals, for a personal take on Robinson’s enduring legacy both on and off the field.

    Jay Caspian Kang, writing for The New York Times Magazine, also noted last year that despite a larger share — around 30 percent — of Latino players in the game, there’s been a lackluster effort on baseball’s media in embracing and promoting its Spanish-speaking players.

    “The fundamental questions that faced Jack in 1947 are abounding today,” Rachel Robinson once wrote in an essay in honor of her husband. “We’ve got to go beyond celebrating the past and use our emotions, sentiments, ideas and analysis to move forward. This would be the greatest tribute to Jackie Robinson,” she wrote.

    READ MORE: 5 overlooked stories you should read now

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    President Donald Trump speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C. in January. Photo By Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    President Donald Trump speaks by phone with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C. in January. Photo By Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has scheduled another phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the expected topics of the conversation.

    But the bloody civil war in Syria and Putin’s continued backing of Syrian President Bashar Assad loom large.

    Trump and Putin have spoken several times since Trump’s election, including last month following an attack in St. Petersburg, which Trump condemned.

    Trump said last month that U.S.-Russian relations “may be at an all-time low.” It was a reversal from the rhetoric during his campaign, when Trump said he hoped he and Putin could work together in the fight against terrorism.

    FBI and congressional investigations continue into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia and Russia’s meddling in the election.

    WATCH: Why Trump’s embrace of Duterte is raising alarm

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    Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager is escorted from the courthouse by security personnel while waiting on his verdict at the Charleston County Courthouse in Charleston, South Carolina, in December 2016. Photo by Randall Hill/Reuters

    Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager is escorted from the courthouse by security personnel while waiting on his verdict at the Charleston County Courthouse in Charleston, South Carolina, in December 2016. Photo by Randall Hill/Reuters

    A former North Charleston police officer who was caught on video fatally shooting a black motorist as he fled a traffic stop in South Carolina pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal civil rights charge.

    By admitting to the lesser charge, the Associated Press reported, Michael Slager avoids prosecution on state murder charges related to the killing of Walter Scott, 50, in April 2015. It also allows him to forego a jury trial on those charges, ABC reported.

    Slager’s plea agreement also puts an end to the federal trial, which had been set to begin May 15. Now, U.S. District Judge David Norton will decide Slager’s sentencing later this month. He could face life in prison, though ABC reports the government “will advocate for Slager’s crime to be treated as a lower-level offense.”

    A jury could not come to a unanimous decision last year on whether Slager, who is white, was guilty of state murder or manslaughter charges, resulting in a mistrial.

    Cellphone footage showed Slager fired on Scott eight times as he fled the traffic stop unarmed. The video went viral, sparking national outrage and calls for Slager and the police department to be held accountable. The lawyer for Scott’s family said the coroner found Scott was hit three times in the back, once in the rear and once in the ear.

    Federal civil rights charges against police are rare, as revealed in an investigation by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The newspaper found that out of 13,223 complaints accusing police officers of civil rights violations between 1995 and 2015, only 530 charges were filed.

    Last month, a Nebraska jury found Officer Derek Payton not guilty of felony assault for firing three times on a suspect that fled a traffic stop last June. And a second trial will begin later this month for former University of Cincinnati police Officer Ray Tensing, who fatally shot an unarmed black man in a July 2015 traffic stop. The first trial ended in a hung jury.

    Within hours of Slager’s guilty plea, the Justice Department said it would not pursue charges against the officers involved in last summer’s shooting of a black man, Alton Sterling, in New Orleans.

    Slager has previously defended his actions by saying that he feared for his life. He said Scott wrestled his taser from him and he “fired until the threat was stopped, like I’m trained to do.”

    In the state trial, Slager told the defense that the whole ordeal has “been a nightmare. My family’s been destroyed by this. Scott’s family has been destroyed by this.”

    “We hope that Michael’s acceptance of responsibility will help the Scott family as they continue to grieve their loss,” Andrew J. Savage III, Slager’s attorney, said in a statement.

    After the hearing, Chris Stewart, the attorney for the Scott family, praised the guilty plea. He said the families of Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and Tamir Rice — all victims of encounters with police — “didn’t get this type of justice that we got today.”

    Stewart said the decision shouldn’t feed into an anti-police narrative, “because no person believes that every officer is evil.”

    “Hopefully this will be the blueprint of future success for civil rights,” he said, pointing to the successful relationship between himself, the Scott family, prosecutors and the Department of Justice.

    “All we want is accountability,” he added.

    In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged to that kind of accountability for “any law enforcement officer who violates the civil rights of our citizens by using excessive force.”

    “Such failures of duty not only harm the individual victims of these crimes; they harm our country, by eroding trust in law enforcement and undermining the good work of the vast majority of honorable and honest police officers. As our Department works to support the courageous and professional law enforcement personnel who risk their lives every day to protect us, we will also ensure that police officers who abuse their sacred trust are made to answer for their misconduct,” he said.

    READ MORE: How and why you should record the police

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    NEW YORK — Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that she’s taking responsibility for her 2016 election loss but believes misogyny, Russian interference and questionable decisions by the FBI also influenced the outcome.

    The former Democratic presidential nominee offered extensive comments about the election during the Women for Women International’s annual luncheon in New York. Clinton said she’s been going through the “painful” process of reliving the 2016 contest while writing a book.

    “It wasn’t a perfect campaign. There is no such thing,” Clinton said in a question-and-answer-session with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “But I was on the way to winning until a combination of (FBI Director) Jim Comey’s letter on Oct. 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off.”

    She reminded the enthusiastic audience packed with women that she ultimately earned 3 million more votes than President Donald Trump.

    “If the election were on Oct. 27, I would be your president,” Clinton said.

    She also highlighted Russia’s role in hacking into her campaign’s internal emails and subsequently coordinating their release on WikiLeaks. U.S. intelligence agencies are investigating whether Russia coordinated with Trump associates to influence the election.

    “He (Russian President Vladimir Putin) certainly interfered in our election,” Clinton said. “And it’s clear he interfered to hurt me and help his opponent.”

    Amanpour also asked Clinton whether she was a victim of misogyny.

    “Yes, I do think it played a role,” she said, adding that misogyny is “very much a part of the landscape politically, socially and economically.”

    After two unsuccessful presidential campaigns, Clinton is not expected to run for public office again.

    “I’m now back to being an active citizen,” she said.

    WATCH: Hillary Clinton jabs Trump in first major post-election speech

    The post WATCH: Clinton blames misogyny, FBI, Russia, herself for 2016 election loss appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Smoke is seen during sunset as the West Mims fire burns in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. Photo released April 29, 2017. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Mark Davis via Reuters

    Smoke is seen during sunset as the West Mims fire burns in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. Photo released April 29, 2017. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Mark Davis via Reuters

    A wildfire in southern Georgia is burning so violently, it might not be extinguished until November, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.

    The West Mims fire started April 6, when a lightning strike sparked a flame in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Since then, the fire has expanded to cover over 100,000 acres of the refuge. As of May 1, the blaze has destroyed 25 percent of the refuge, and only 8 percent of the fire has been contained.

    The West Mims fire burns in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in a photo released in Folkston, Georgia, on April 29, 2017. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Reuters

    The West Mims fire burns in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in a photo released in Folkston, Georgia, on April 29, 2017. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Reuters

    “November is the worst-case scenario,” Mark Davis, a spokesperson for the service, told Reuters. “The firefighters’ plan is to contain the fire as best they can, hoping that nature will cooperate with some rainfall.”

    Firefighters have been working to contain the fire, aided by helicopters, bulldozers and thousands of gallons of water.

    A firefighter watches a helicopter above Georgia Highway 177 as the West Mims fire burns in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia, on April 25, 2017. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Mark Davis via Reuters

    A firefighter watches a helicopter above Georgia Highway 177 as the West Mims fire burns in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia, on April 25, 2017. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Mark Davis via Reuters

    An airplane drops fire retardent as the West Mims fire burns in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in a photo released in Folkston, Georgia, on April 29, 2017. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Reuters

    An airplane drops fire retardent as the West Mims fire burns in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in a photo released in Folkston, Georgia, on April 29, 2017. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Reuters

    The West Mims fire burns in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia, U.S. April 25, 2017. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Michael Lusk via Reuters

    The West Mims fire burns in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia, U.S. April 25, 2017. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Michael Lusk via Reuters

    Recent wildfires have scorched the southern United States. Nearly 1,500 wildfires hit Florida earlier this spring, and a wildfire torched dozens of homes in Tennessee late last year.

    As of now, the wildfire has avoided residential areas, but the smoke has drifted into some nearby towns, such as Waycross. Multiple counties have declared states of emergency since the start of the fire.

    WATCH: Florida is burning and it’s just the start of the dry season

    The post This Georgia wildfire may not be extinguished until November, official says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Donald Trump appears on stage at a rally in Harrisburg

    President Donald Trump appears on stage at a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on April 29, 2017. Photo by REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

    In a series of eight sit-down interviews over the last seven days, President Donald Trump launched a buckshot round of headline-making quotes.

    The interviews — conducted by the Associated Press, FOX News, FOX News again, the Washington Examiner, Reuters, CBS, Sirius XM, and Bloomberg — were all pegged to the president’s first 100 days. Poring over them now, we’ve noticed some patterns beneath the explosive headlines.

    1. The president can simultaneously run hot and cold

    Consider North Korea. In three interviews this week, Mr. Trump had positive words about North Korea’s dictator Kim Jung Un. He told Reuters that “not many 27-year-old men could go in and take over a regime.” To CBS, Trump dubbed the North Korean leader a “pretty smart cookie.” And to Bloomberg, he said he would be honored to meet with Kim if the circumstances were right.

    Contrast that with three negative statements Trump made in the same week of interviews. When talking to FOX News about North Korea, Trump said that “nobody’s safe.” In the Reuters interview, he also warned of a possible “major conflict” with North Korea. And on Sirius XM, the president described Kim as “very threatening … saying terrible things. And people can’t do that.”

    Conclusion: The president speaks in superlative, strong and sometimes dramatic terms. That’s the common denominator. He’s also a “disrupter,” as one source in Trump’s world described him to us. He can praise something (or someone) in one breath and criticize in the next. This may be strategic for Mr. Trump. But the hot-and-cold treatment has become a challenge for many U.S. diplomats who are used to aggressively calm demeanor, rather than a series of calm aggressions, from the nation’s commander-in-chief.

    2. He underestimates the difficulty of difficult things in Washington.

    Trump entered office having successfully navigated the high-power worlds of international real estate and marketing. But he raised eyebrows when he told Reuters that he thought the presidency would be less of a liftthan his old job.

    “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier,” he said.

    Compare that to his April 28 comments to FOX News about health care. “I once said it’s complicated,” Trump said. “It’s not complicated, compared to other things being complicated, it’s not that hard.”

    Conclusion: President Trump does not yet have a clear definition of what is difficult or complicated in Washington.

    3. Trump headlines often eclipse Trump substance

    From questioning why the civil war happened (on Sirius XM) to reversing himself within minutes on whether he watches CNN (in an interview with the Associated Press), Trump’s most explosive phrases often spark heated Internet discussion. But too often, these remarks eclipse other statements that are equally worthy of coverage in those same interviews.

    Take this remark on immigration from his sit-down with the Associated Press: “We are cleaning out cities and towns of hard-line criminals, some of the worst people on Earth.” That’s a strong statement for both sides of the political spectrum, and one worth exploring further. (The Washington Post found the latest statistics show most of the immigrants deported under Trump are not hardened criminals).

    Or this (in our opinion) undercovered nugget from the April 28 interview with FOX News about the Republicans’ budding tax reform effort. Trump said: “I’m going to end up paying more than I pay right now in taxes, all right? I will pay more than I pay right now. The reason I’m going to pay more is because I lose all the deductions. They have deductions on top of the deductions, they have hundreds and hundreds of pages of deductions.”

    The comment shows Trump is aware of and attentive to the effect of policy on his bottom line. And it’s an important statement on what he believes that effect will be — another statement that deserves a closer look.

    Conclusion: Read the transcripts in full. There is more substance than the headlines may indicate.

    The post What we’ve learned about Trump from a week of explosive interviews appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Credit: Abbey Oldham, PBS NewsHour

    Poet Doug Van Gundy said “something about the landscape that shaped us” has drawn many poets back. Credit: Abbey Oldham, PBS NewsHour

    On a recent Saturday at a brewery in Parkersburg, West Virginia — a town known more for its oil and gas museums than its craft beers or arts community — Marc Harshman, the state’s poet laureate, huddled over the bar with two fellow writers to write haikus to their beers.

    “Sharp, this bracer / knocks me, falls clear to my heart: / the high should come soon,” Harshman read aloud, and there were laughs. Then he grew serious: “Mornings with Grandma: / deep memories flood through me. / Taste alone did this.”

    The brewery was packed with poets and people who appreciate poetry; they had just finished up a reading to celebrate the first anthology of poetry and literary writing from West Virginia published in some 15 years.

    "Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods" is the first anthology of poetry and literary writing from West Virginia in some 15 years.

    “Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods” is the first anthology of poetry and literary writing from West Virginia in some 15 years.

    The poetry read that night, and contained in the anthology, is not what you might expect out of West Virginia, or from regional poetry. For one, it does not fall into the trap of nostalgia or tackle traditional subjects in traditional ways. Instead, it examines, often unsparingly, topics as wide-ranging as environmental dangers, sexual identity, family conflict, discrimination and rebellion. At many points, the poetry asks questions about how to leave the past behind — or at least how to learn to live with it.

    “[It is not] the Appalachian poetry that is nostalgic about Grandma’s quilts, and ‘I remember the canned beans,’” poet Doug Van Gundy, who co-edited the anthology, told me.

    Its title, “Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods,” is a nod to how animals, seen from a distance, can be as mysterious and little-known to humans as West Virginia is to the rest of the country.

    Harshman, who often crisscrosses the state in his role as poet laureate, said the poetry coming out of West Virginia no longer just celebrates rural life and industry.

    The anthology, which features 63 fiction writers and poets, has “work that combats stereotypes from a state like this — that it’s a place of lesser sophistication, of lower literacy, conservative in all the worst ways instead of the best ways,” he said.

    In his poem in the anthology, called “Shed,” Harshman describes rural life but also warns of its risks: “A man comes to believe almost anything when he lives on the inside of himself long enough,” he writes.

    Van Gundy — who left West Virginia for school in Utah, North Carolina and Vermont before coming back home for love — is blunter.

    “We’re not just a state of Trumpian contrarians. We’re far more complex than that,” he said, something showing up in the poetry being written there.

    Take, for example, the work of Randi Ward, who has two poems in the anthology. Ward also grew up in West Virginia and left — for Denmark, Iceland and the Faroe Islands — before returning home to care for her beloved, ailing grandmother. Her short, incisive poems can raise your hair:

    “Grandma”

    What’s left of her
    paces
    the sagging porch
    wearing one sock,
    crying
    for the dogs.

    Clara Beach, Ward's grandmother Courtesy of Randi Ward

    Ward’s grandmother, Clara Beach. Courtesy of Randi Ward

    “I would have rather shoved my left hand down a running garbage disposal [than come back]” Ward told me, knowing it was “going to be a dogfight” dealing with a dysfunctional family who struggled with mental illness and the trauma of war. But Ward did come back, she said, and so her poetry often reflects “a moment as trigger.”

    This can be seen in her poem, “Daddy Longlegs,” also included in the anthology, which was written after her family farm fell into ruin. As a child, Ward said, it was fun to pick up the daddy longlegs on the farm and ask where the cows had gone, to see if the arachnid lifted its legs in the wind that way. As an adult, after the farm was lost, she felt only guilt and shame:

    “Daddy Longlegs”

    I’m tired
    of asking
    you where
    the cattle
    have gone —
    stop pointing
    at me.

    The struggle of leaving and coming back home is a recurring theme in the anthology. In the poem “Ritual,” poet Kelly McQuain writes about a visit to West Virginia in which he helps his mother get a bat out of the house and then quickly prepares to leave, his bags already packed. “In these ways,” he writes, “we rescue ourselves.”

    The anthology, it must be said, does include West Virginians who have left, never to return. It also features writers who have newly arrived from elsewhere and see West Virginia through a different lens. But perhaps the most interesting work is from the poets who had left and were drawn to come back.

    “You put in a vine in Australia and a vine in France, and it’s the same root stock but two different grapes. The dirt that you’re grown in makes a difference,” Van Gundy said. “It colors and flavors who you become.”

    Van Gundy’s poem in the anthology is about country music; he is the kind of poet that sometimes whips out a fiddle out on stage. It’s a sentimental subject, but he is direct, instead of maudlin, in exploring it. The poems ends with an analogue between musicians and poets who come back, writing of the “voices that got just far enough away, from these mountains, to get flung back home.”

    In many ways, these voices did not exist when Van Gundy, Harshman, or Ward were young — or at least they were not accessible to poets like them.

    Poets March Harshman, Randi Ward, XXX and Doug Van Gundy. Courtesy: Randi Ward

    Poet Laureate March Harshman, poet Randi Ward, and co-editors of the anthology Laura Long and Doug Van Gundy, part of the growing poetry community in the state. Courtesy: Randi Ward

    “There was next to zero poetry community when I was a child,” Van Gundy said. Things changed for him at 19, when he somehow came across the poem “Northern Pike” by James Wright, a poet from Ohio; he can still recite it from memory. “[Before that] I didn’t know you could write about crawdads in a poem, and being conflicted about doing what you do as a man in Appalachia … that just opened a door for me.”

    As for Ward, she said she was exposed to just one poetry program as a child — but that it “probably saved my life.”

    Today, West Virginia’s poetry community looks very different. There are regular poetry readings and gatherings in libraries, bars, schools and theaters. There are literary journals and writing contests.

    There are also now MFA programs at West Virginia University and West Virginia Wesleyan College, the latter of which was formed just six years ago by the previous poet laureate, Irene McKinney; now deceased, she was described to me as a “force” and “a lightning rod.” Today, the program draws applicants from around the country, and major writers such as Terrance Hayes and Patricia Smith.

    The national Poetry Out Loud program, which encourages high schoolers to memorize and recite poetry before a crowd, has also come to West Virginia. Harshman, who is a children’s author in addition to poet, is a judge for the contest, as is Ward.

    And, Ward says, teachers are increasingly using contemporary Appalachian poetry in schools. There’s also a growing number of poets who visit those schools “to say: we’re here, we’re alive, we’re doing stuff, you don’t have to go away to do that,’” she said.

    Van Gundy hopes that in some small way the anthology, which was given to every high schooler who participated in the Poetry Out Loud contest, can also help.

    “I imagine some lonesome kid who is bookish and loves language and loves being here but doesn’t fit in,” he said — a kid, perhaps, like the one he once was — “picks up this book and says ‘Oh, I can stay here, this is permission.’”

    “Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry From West Virginia” is published by West Virginia University Press. It’s available online here.

    The post Returning home, these West Virginians are rewriting the poetry of Appalachia appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — FBI Director James Comey will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday in a hearing on FBI oversight.

    The hearing is expected to begin around 10 a.m. EST. Watch live in the player above.

    The hearing will not directly address the bureau’s months-long investigation of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, though senators are expected to ask about the issue.

    The FBI’s counterintelligence probe that began in late July is investigating possible coordination between Russia and Trump associates to sway the presidential election in Trump’s favor. U.S. intelligence officials have blamed Russian intelligence services for interfering in the election through hacking Democratic email accounts.

    Besides the FBI, House and Senate committees investigating Russian interference in the presidential election and ties between Trump aides and the Kremlin have been holding public hearings and could ultimately publicize their findings — though it’s unclear how extensive those reports would be. Last week, congressional officials said Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, appeared to violate federal law when he failed to seek permission or inform the U.S. government about accepting tens of thousands of dollars from Russian organizations after a trip there in 2015. The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating those payments.

    READ MORE: What we know about U.S. investigations into Russia and possible ties to Trump’s campaign

    Comey’s testimony on Wednesday is a regular occurrence as the panel oversees the FBI. On Thursday, he is to speak behind closed doors to the House committee looking into the Russia issues.

    There are limited examples of counterintelligence investigations resulting in criminal charges, including the 2010 arrests of 10 deep cover Russian spies who were expelled from the U.S. and swapped for four Russians imprisoned for spying for the West. In 2015, the Justice Department prosecuted Evgeny Buryakov, a Russian intelligence agent who posed as a Manhattan banker.

    But prosecution isn’t the primary goal of a counterintelligence investigation. Officials looking to better comprehend another nation’s spy efforts may not want to publicly reveal anything that could encourage a country to switch its tactics, or may see diplomacy as a preferable option.

    “Our constitution allows people who are accused of a crime to know the evidence against them,” Rangappa said. “That not only exposes everything we know, it can also expose our methods and sources.”

    Officials looking to better comprehend another nation’s spy efforts may not want to publicly reveal anything that could encourage a country to switch its tactics, or may see diplomacy as a preferable option.

    Added Christopher Lynch, a former CIA and FBI counterintelligence analyst: “You’ve got to make a judgment: Is that source going to continually be there and provide more and more information in the future, or are you putting the source in jeopardy by identifying publicly in a criminal charge that that’s a source?”

    Since the Justice Department traditionally does not confirm the existence of an investigation, it’s ordinarily equally reluctant to announce when one concludes without charges.

    But there have been exceptions, particularly in high-profile matters involving elected officials: Federal prosecutors in New York and Washington issued statements when they closed without charges investigations into those cities’ mayors, and the Justice Department in 2015 provided to Congress a detailed explanation of its decision not to pursue an Internal Revenue Service political favoritism prosecution.

    The most striking departure was the July news conference in which Comey detailed the bureau’s decision to not recommend criminal charges against Clinton. The American people, he said then, “deserve those details in a case of intense public interest.”

    READ MORE: Lawmakers want details on Flynn’s foreign contacts, payments

    Though the announcement removed the threat of criminal prosecution, Democrats nonetheless criticized Comey for calling Clinton and her aides “extremely careless” in their handling of classified material, a characterization they said strayed from the FBI’s just-the-facts protocol.

    Against the backdrop of that decision, and in recognition of the extraordinary public interest in the Russia investigation, there will almost certainly be a mechanism for providing to the public details of the government’s findings — even if a full, and more extensive, report remains classified, Fallon said.

    Comey has said he wants to be “transparent” when it comes to discussing foreign meddling in American politics, though it’s not clear what shape that will take.

    “He won’t want it to seem like he’s pulling punches with respect to President Trump,” Fallon said.

    PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.

    The post WATCH LIVE: FBI Director Comey to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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