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- 05/02/17--15:25: _New biography human...
- 05/02/17--15:30: _To control kids’ as...
- 05/02/17--15:34: _AP source: Sally Ya...
- 05/02/17--15:35: _’13 Reasons Why’ is...
- 05/02/17--15:40: _Millions are on the...
- 05/02/17--15:43: _The Heritage Founda...
- 05/02/17--15:45: _The ripple effects ...
- 05/02/17--15:50: _News Wrap: Trump an...
- 05/02/17--16:13: _Report: Government ...
- 05/03/17--13:04: _GOP scrambles for m...
- 05/03/17--13:14: _Obama unveils visio...
- 05/03/17--14:25: _What’s on Steve Ban...
- 05/03/17--14:35: _House passes $1.1 t...
- 05/03/17--14:39: _Dear graduates, her...
- 05/03/17--15:19: _House passes bill t...
- 05/03/17--15:20: _How studying simula...
- 05/03/17--15:25: _Is Facebook taking ...
- 05/03/17--15:30: _How mountaintop min...
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- 05/03/17--15:40: _How rape is used as...
- 05/02/17--15:40: Millions are on the brink of war-driven starvation in South Sudan
- 05/02/17--15:43: The Heritage Foundation ousts Jim DeMint after power struggle
- 05/02/17--15:45: The ripple effects of what Trump says and tweets
- 05/02/17--15:50: News Wrap: Trump and Putin agree to step up Syria diplomacy
- 05/03/17--13:14: Obama unveils vision for presidential library in Chicago
- 05/03/17--14:25: What’s on Steve Bannon’s policy white board? Now we know
- Immigration is the most detailed and pointed of President Donald Trump’s priorities. The white board contains some 40 pledges in all. Of these, nearly half (19) are under the heading of “immigration.” This includes a few lesser-known items, like the “passage of the Davis-Oliver” bill. That legislation would give local and state authorities much wider powers to enforce national immigration laws independently. Another item, “Expand and centralize the popular 287(g) partner(ship),” would deputize local police and sheriffs so they could also work as official federal immigration officers.
- Mr. Trump’s words do not sync with one pledge on the board. It’s this item: “terminate President Obama’s two illegal (EO’s).” That’s a reference to the Obama administration’s DAPA order, which is indefinitely frozen but would allow undocumented parents of U.S. citizens to remain in the country; and DACA, which is in effect and gives temporary status to those brought illegally to the country as children. While the pledge insists that both be terminated, Trump has repeatedly said DACA participants, sometimes called Dreamers, shouldn’t worry.
- The check marks show a lot. From what we can see, the White House has checked off a number of big pledges. But a number of them, including “Hire 5000 more Border Patrol agents” and “Triple the number of ICE agents.” are merely in progress, not completed. And at least one — “Suspend the Syrian Refugee Program” — is frozen in court.” It is of course possible that the White House meant to check off only what is underway. But that is telling in of itself. It implies a sense of how this administration views accomplishment. It also may indicate why the White House and its critics are so at odds over exactly how much this president has achieved in his first 100 days.
- 05/03/17--14:39: Dear graduates, here’s what you need to know about health insurance
- 05/03/17--15:19: House passes bill that monitors Russia’s alleged covert campaigns
- 05/03/17--15:20: How studying simulated tornadoes could help save real lives
- 05/03/17--15:25: Is Facebook taking its impact on society more seriously?
- 05/03/17--15:30: How mountaintop mining affects life and landscape in West Virginia
- 05/03/17--15:40: How rape is used as a weapon in South Sudan’s war
JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, a new look at one of the most controversial American presidents in modern history and a man of many contradictions.
Jeffrey Brown has this latest addition to the NewsHour Bookshelf.
JEFFREY BROWN: Few presidents, we read early is a new biography of Richard Nixon, came so far, so fast, so alone, and, we can add, few fell so far, so fast, so alone.
More than that, as “Richard Nixon: The Life” makes clear, so much of his political legacy continues to permeate today.
Author John A. Farrell joins me now.
And welcome to you.
JOHN A. FARRELL, Author, “Richard Nixon: The Life”: Thank you.
JEFFREY BROWN: Let me start there for some broad context.
In what fundamental way is Richard Nixon still with us in our political culture?
JOHN A. FARRELL: Nixon practiced what I call the politics of grievance.
He came from a very unfortunate background, almost a Dickensian childhood, with a mean father, a very frosty mother, poverty and sickness in the household. And he had that ability to identify in his audiences, in the electorate their own resentments, and to tap them.
And he didn’t realize until the end, the famous speech where he talks about hate destroying yourself, how dangerous that was. And, by then, this sort of politics of deliberate polarization that he pioneered had taken root.
JEFFREY BROWN: It was so interesting to me to see the younger Nixon, even in his first time running, where you get the mix of the kind of sincere ambition to serve, but already a lot of the tricks, the bad side of Nixon, it was there from the beginning.
JOHN A. FARRELL: Yes, it’s one of the things I found was that Nixon, throughout his life, was always using yellow pads and making lists, and then crossing out as he went.
So, he comes home from war in 1946, and like lots of the younger veterans, having seen the sacrifices that were made, they wanted to improve their world. They wanted to make sure those sacrifices weren’t in vain. And that’s where that idealism that you talked about came from.
But, young congressional candidate, there was also this dark side already. And he was running against a fellow named Jerry Voorhis in 1946. And in one of these yellow lists, as I went down ticking them off, you know, get volunteers, put ads in newspapers, and there at the bottom was the instruction, put spies in Voorhis camp.
JEFFREY BROWN: Put spies …
JOHN A. FARRELL: Put spies in his camp.
So, right from the beginning, he had that inclination towards intrigue.
JEFFREY BROWN: One bit of news that you make in this book is confirming his role in sabotaging the Paris peace talks, right, the attempt to end the Vietnam War.
JOHN A. FARRELL: Yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: He didn’t want his Democratic opponents to get credit for ending the war.
JOHN A. FARRELL: That’s right.
Lyndon Johnson desperately wanted to end the war before he left office. And in October 1968, he announced a bombing halt to bring the North Vietnamese and the South Vietnamese to the table.
And Nixon got wind of it, and dispatched a woman named Anna Chennault, who was one of his aides in his campaign, to approach the South Vietnamese and say, drag your heels, scuttle the talks, and you will get a better deal when I’m elected.
And he denied it all his life. He denied it in one of the taped conversations that you can hear at the Lyndon Johnson Library. He denied it directly.
But I was able to find the little, tiny jigsaw piece that, again, one of those yellow legal pad notes, this time from his chief of staff, Bob Haldeman.
JEFFREY BROWN: You end up calling this his most reprehensible act.
JOHN A. FARRELL: I think it was.
Because of the number of lives that were at stake, for a presidential candidate to do this, I thought, was really awful, whereas, in Watergate, like the bumper stickers always said, nobody died in Watergate. Certainly, our political system was tarnished.
But so many lives in the next four years, next five years, if you count Cambodia and the Vietnamese boat people, almost genocide in Cambodia, and if the war could have been ended in ’68, what a difference it would have been.
JEFFREY BROWN: Here’s a man who’s been written a lot about. How do you go about writing a new biography, and making it fresh? Where do you look?
JOHN A. FARRELL: Yes.
There’s a great advantage of being there 40 years later, because a lot of people have died. And , privacy restrictions are lifted. A lot of the national security restrictions on documents are worked through, and the stuff is released.
JEFFREY BROWN: You know, throughout, it is this strange mix of insecure, very human man, with a very ruthless politician.
There is sincerity on the one hand, mixed with this kind of cunning. You humanized him, right?
JOHN A. FARRELL: A bit.
JEFFREY BROWN: You lived with him a long time. How did you come to see him?
JOHN A. FARRELL: Yes.
I developed sympathy for him. I was a young teenager during the 1960s and early ’70s, when he was in office. And he was a villain. But when — your biography, inevitably, you open windows into souls of people, and you explore how awful his childhood was, and you begin to get this empathy for the person.
And then you have to balance it with a cool analysis of how Nixon behaved as a politician. So, there’s a lot of really bad stuff in the book about Nixon, but I also hope that there’s a more humane approach to him as this sort of tortured individual.
JEFFREY BROWN: So, thin-skinned, media-hating. Soon as your book came out, there were some obvious comparisons …
JOHN A. FARRELL: Yes, us as the enemy.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes, to our current, our new president, right?
JOHN A. FARRELL: Yes. Yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: But how far do you make the comparison? Where does it end?
JOHN A. FARRELL: While they both seem to have resentments growing out of their childhood and a need for public acclaim, the difference is of the two men’s personalities is very stark.
Nixon was an intellectual. He not only read books. He actually wrote books and he was — had a basic reverence, despite what he did in Watergate, for the institution of the presidency. When he lied, he expected that you would believe him, whereas, Trump, I get the idea sometimes it’s the actual blatant lie that he doesn’t want you to believe. He’s just sort of rubbing it in your face.
So, those are, I think, major differences between the two of them. But they did both practice what I was talking about, that politics of identifying in individuals or identifying in the voters resentments of race and class, and capitalizing on them.
JEFFREY BROWN: The new book is “Richard Nixon: The Life.”
John Farrell, thank you very much.
JOHN A. FARRELL: My pleasure. Thank you.
The post New biography humanizes Nixon while revealing his ‘most reprehensible’ act appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Roughly 25 million people in the U.S. have active asthma. For most, it can be controlled with the right medications and by avoiding environmental triggers.
And yet nearly half of all adults and 40 percent of children have uncontrolled asthma, which can lead to expensive medical interventions. Total annual costs for the disease are estimated at $60 billion.
Today is World Asthma Day, which makes it a good moment for this report by special correspondent Cat Wise about a California program that’s drawing attention for its way of keeping kids healthy.
CAT WISE: Three-year-old Jesus Cresto has been to the emergency room twice in the past 12 months for asthma attacks. His mom, Angelica, says she isn’t getting much sleep these days.
ANGELICA CRESTO, Mother: I will just be checking on him. Is he OK? It’s really hard, because they change your life. I just want to take care of my kids better.
CAT WISE: The Cresto family lives in East Oakland, a predominately low-income community in Alameda County, which has some of the highest rates of asthma in California.
Children with uncontrolled asthma, especially those from low-income families, who often have government-funded health care insurance, account for a disproportionate number of costly E.R. visits and hospital stays.
So, keeping Jesus and the more than one million other kids with asthma in California healthy is a big priority. And Alameda County has been leading an effort to do just that, focusing on the place where kids spend the most time, their home.
On a recent morning, a team of cleaners specializing in asthma trigger remediation, arrive at the Cresto home. They cleaned up pest droppings behind the fridge, removed mold spots on a bedroom window, and put a dust mite cover on a mattress.
The cleaning visit was arranged by Sandra Rodriguez, a community outreach worker from the county’s Healthy Homes Department. She is part of a unique collaboration between housing and public health agencies.
SANDRA RODRIGUEZ, Alameda County Healthy Homes Department: Where does Jesus spend a lot of the time?
ANGELICA CRESTO: He usually likes to be on the floor. So, how I clean the house, I use Clorox a lot.
SANDRA RODRIGUEZ: OK.
ANGELICA CRESTO: Because I think I want to keep the floors clean.
SANDRA RODRIGUEZ: Using harsh chemicals like Clorox can really exacerbate a child’s asthma. And so we recommend that you try natural products, just soap and water, soap and water, and one of the additional is baking soda.
ANGELICA CRESTO: OK.
CAT WISE: The program, which began in 2001 and was among the first of its kind in the country, is open to all children in the county who have been diagnosed with asthma. Allergen-reducing products like HEPA filter vacuums are offered to families who can’t afford them, and the program will even pay for minor home repairs.
BRENDA RUEDA-YAMASHITA, Alameda County Public Health Department: We saw these very high rates in our county, and we didn’t want to have residents who were dealing with issues like that.
CAT WISE: Brenda Rueda-Yamashita manages the Public Health Department’s side of the program called Asthma Start. She says the up-front costs, which average about $2,500 per family, depending on the needs, are worth spending to prevent the back-end costs.
BRENDA RUEDA-YAMASHITA: It’s around $23,000 for a child to have an asthma hospitalization, and around $3,500 for an E.R. visit, so that’s the highest impact, mom losing money, dad losing money, because they have to stay home with a child or take the child to the E.R., and their employer doesn’t pay for sick time. There’s a cost to cities and/or counties for their fire, because fire departments show up to 911 calls.
CAT WISE: The other key priority for the program is educating families about the importance of taking prescribed asthma medications.
That’s where medical social worker Amy Sholinbeck comes in. On this day, she is back for a second visit with 2-year-old Romani Webb and his mom, Artency.
Romani has had several hospital stays for asthma attacks, but after an initial two-hour visit a month ago, the family has been on top of his medications.
AMY SHOLINBECK, Alameda County Public Health Department: Have you noticed that he’s been having less symptoms since you have been doing this?
ARTENCY WEBB, Mother: At the nighttime, definitely. He sleeps a lot better too.
AMY SHOLINBECK: Oh, I’m so happy to hear that. It’s all about his health. We want to keep you out of the hospital, baby.
Sometimes, the family ends up confusing the inhalers, or it wasn’t explained to them in enough detail. So, we’re in a calm environment in their home, and we take a lot of time to make sure they understand what the medications do in the body. And we have special stickers we put on the medicines, and we just make sure they really get it.
WOMAN: I just want to give you an update on our numbers.
CAT WISE: The program has served about 250 families each year. It’s been funded through a combination of sources, including grants, taxes, tobacco settlement money, and a local Medicaid managed-care program.
A data review by that organization in 2012 found health care costs for pediatric patients ages 0 to 5 were cut in half during the 12 months after they went through the program. Those results and the program’s long track record are generating new interest in Alameda County’s preventative approach.
LINDA NEUHAUSER, University of California, Berkeley: I have studied a lot of programs, but when I got introduced to this program, what I saw was a very seasoned, careful intervention that draws on the best practices that we get from research to date.
CAT WISE: U.C., Berkeley, Professor Linda Neuhauser is leading an in-depth study of the program. Her research is ongoing, but she believes policy-makers around the country should pay attention.
LINDA NEUHAUSER: It’s hard to estimate the cost savings, but I think, in Alameda County alone, we might be able to save as much as $16 million a year just on hospitalizations of children. This is an amazing saving of health care costs.
CAT WISE: Eight-year-old Mihlen Michael is one of those children who is happy to be out of the hospital. A year ago, she was in intensive care after an especially bad asthma attack. Her mom, Nebiyat Hagos, says some big changes have happened since the asthma teams visited their home.
NEBIYAT HAGOS, Mother: Now she’s doing a lot better. She hasn’t been to the E.R. in a year. They made a great difference. We were living close to a freeway, and they mentioned to me how that affects asthma. So, we moved away from the freeway now, and that also helped.
CAT WISE: Hagos is now working for the program, and using the training she received to help other families with asthma.
The home-based asthma program recently got a temporary boost in funding from a national nonprofit and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. That money is being used in part to help an additional 250 families this year.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Cat Wise in Alameda County, California.
The post To control kids’ asthma, this California program clears the air at home appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Former acting attorney general Sally Yates is expected to testify to Congress next week that she expressed alarm to the White House about President Donald Trump’s national security adviser’s contacts with the Russian ambassador, which could contradict how the administration has characterized her counsel.
Yates is expected to recount in detail her Jan. 26 conversation about Michael Flynn and that she saw discrepancies between the administration’s public statements on his contacts with ambassador Sergey Kislyak and what really transpired, according to a person familiar with that discussion and knowledgeable about Yates’s plans for her testimony. The person spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt the testimony.
The person said Yates is expected to say that she expressed alarm to White House counsel Don McGahn about Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak. White House officials have said that Yates merely wanted to give them a “heads-up” about Flynn’s Russian contacts.
Flynn was ousted weeks after the Yates conversation after White House officials. They initially maintained Flynn had not discussed Russian sanctions with Kislyak during the transition period, but after published reports said the opposite, then admitted he misled them about the nature of that call.
Yates’s scheduled appearance before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, alongside former intelligence director James Clapper, will provide her first public account of the conversation with McGahn. It will also represent her first testimony before Congress since Yates, an Obama administration holdover, was fired in January for refusing to defend Trump’s travel ban.
She was previously scheduled to appear in March before a House committee investigating Russian interference in the presidential election, but that hearing was canceled.
The post AP source: Sally Yates to testify next week to Congress about Michael Flynn appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: Can a dramatic depiction of suicide go too far?
A new series on Netflix about a teenage girl’s tragic death has some school districts and mental health experts worried that the show has gone beyond just entertainment, and could pose a threat to young students.
William Brangham explores the controversy.
It’s part of our weekly series Making the Grade.
And a warning: The story contains graphic content.
KATHERINE LANGFORD, Actress: Some of you cared. None of you cared enough. Neither did I.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: “13 Reasons Why” tells the fictional story of Hannah Baker, a 17-year-old high school student who takes her own life. Hannah leaves behind 13 cassette tapes, where she narrates the events leading up to her suicide.
KATHERINE LANGFORD: Hey, it’s Hannah. Hannah Baker.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Each tape centers around one person, and, in it, Hannah tries to explain why that person was or wasn’t to blame for her death.
KATHERINE LANGFORD: Don’t adjust your — whatever device you’re hearing this on. It’s me, live and in stereo. Get a snack, settle in, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life, more specifically why my life ended. And if you’re listening to this tape, you’re one of the reasons why.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The show, which was released in its entirety a month ago, brutally depicts some very tough topics: hazing, cyber-bullying, and rape.
Hannah’s own rape by one of her classmates is unsparingly shown. The series is based on a 2007 young adult novel by Jay Asher, and it was produced by singer Selena Gomez.
Since its release, school boards around the country have sent warning letters to parents, alerting them to the show, offering ways to talk about its content with their kids, but also suggesting that some kids probably shouldn’t watch it. Among the concerns cited is the very explicit way Hannah’s suicide is shown in the final episode.
KATHERINE LANGFORD: Pardon me, but you really hurt my feelings.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Some psychologists say it glorifies suicide. Others worry it could lead to copycat behavior.
The National Association of School Psychologists advised teenagers who suffer from suicidal thoughts not to watch at all, saying it “may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters.”
Both groups found fault with the notion of Hannah sending these taped messages from beyond the grave, and criticized the depiction of a school counselor on the show who, they argue, fails to follow up on Hannah’s obvious distress.
Following the outcry, Netflix says it will add a warning at the beginning the series, in addition to the warnings in front of the most graphic episodes.
And from the beginning, the show’s creators say they consulted mental health experts, and tried hard not to glamorize suicide.
Brian Yorkey is one of the show’s creators.
BRIAN YORKEY, Co-Creator, “13 Reasons Why”: We did want it to be painful to watch, because we wanted it to be very clear that there is nothing in any way worthwhile about suicide.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: We asked the NewsHour’s own Student Reporting Labs to ask some high schoolers for their take on the series.
Some applauded the show.
JULIA, Student: I thought the series would help students that were grappling with suicide, just because the show promoted awareness for students who deal with suicide and depression, and they wanted it to start conversations. So, it became so popular and so many people were talking about it, that I felt like it did.
JAYLA, Student: I really think that it’s important for adults to know how much social media impacts us now. It’s a different time, and social media is one of the biggest reasons why suicide happens nowadays.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Others were concerned about how the show dealt with suicide and mental health.
ZOIE, Student: I feel like there is a lot of younger audiences who watch it, and that they watch it and they get the wrong idea that maybe suicide is OK or suicide is romantic, or maybe, if I kill myself, there will be a boy somewhere who turns out to be in love with me.
It shows the pain that others are suffering, but it doesn’t really address the fact that Hannah is dead.
MUNA, Student: The message behind it was to be kind to everyone so, like, they don’t commit suicide. But, in the show, no one helped her. The counselor didn’t help her. Like, all the students didn’t help her. Like, she reached out to people, but none of them, like, tried to help her,.
And that, like, it brings a bad message to people who actually have depression and stuff, like they can’t talk to someone about it, like no one’s going to listen.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, is “13 Reasons Why” just a powerful, provocative drama, or something more troubling?
I’m joined now by Dr. Christina Conolly, who oversees psychological services for all the public schools in Montgomery County, Maryland, and by Sonia Saraiya, a TV critic for “Variety.”
Welcome to you both.
DR. CHRISTINA CONOLLY, Montgomery County, Maryland Public Schools: Thank you for having us.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Dr. Conolly, I would like to start with you first.
Before we get to some of the concerns about this show, I know your job is to oversee 100 school psychologists. You look out for the welfare of young people, but, as a person, as a viewer that watched this show, what was your reaction when you saw it?
DR. CHRISTINA CONOLLY: Initially, the show is very provocative.
I first watched like an episode a day, and I was watching at night after work, and I was like, like, oh, my goodness. And it really draws you in. And then, at the end, like, over the weekend, I was like, OK, I have to finish it. So, I watched like four or five episodes at once.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So you did a little binge-watching yourself.
DR. CHRISTINA CONOLLY: I did a little binge-watching myself.
And it was very emotional. I had trouble sleeping after watching it. I even cried after the episode tape — Clay’s tape. And it was just very heart-wrenching to see everything that was occurring, all the negative experiences that Hannah went through.
And all I kept thinking, OK, oh, my goodness. I can only imagine teenagers watching this, especially vulnerable teenagers, and wondering, how are they feeling with this? Because I’m an adult. I’m a mental health professional.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I’m just going to stop you.
DR. CHRISTINA CONOLLY: OK, stop me.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Just be careful about banging on your microphone there.
DR. CHRISTINA CONOLLY: Oh, OK. Sorry.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Tell me a little bit more about those concerns.
What is it that you worry about a kid who might be having some — suffer from some sort of psychological trouble, what’s the fear?
DR. CHRISTINA CONOLLY: The biggest fear is that there will be copycat behavior, that they will watch Hannah’s death, watch her die by suicide, because it graphically shows her with the razor cutting her wrists, and say, is this how I can die by suicide? Is this how — kind of like a recipe for how I can die, how — a way of coping with what’s happened.
And that is not — as educators, as mental health professionals, we do not want students and other adolescents following along in — with what Hannah has done.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Does that actually happen? Is there evidence that copycat suicides really do occur?
DR. CHRISTINA CONOLLY: Yes, there is research out there showing that suicide can be contagious. It can be copycat, especially — even in schools.
Even in the series itself, there is Hannah who dies by suicide. In the last episode, there is another student, Alex, who was involved in the tapes and then he attempts suicide. So, absolutely, this can happen in schools.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Sonia Saraiya, I would like to turn to you.
Again, before we get to the concerns that have been raised about the series, as a TV critic, as someone who analyzes this as a piece of art, what was your reaction to the series?
SONIA SARAIYA, Variety: You know, I found it extremely compelling.
I think that Christina’s experience of watching it was one I felt, too. I wasn’t expecting to be so taken in by a show that was aimed at teenagers, and I really ended up bingeing it in the same way.
And part of it is because, you know, more than being about teenagers and being about their feelings, the show is constructed really brilliantly. Brian Yorkey, who adapted the show from Jay Asher’s novel, it’s adapted so well as a TV series, with each tape being an episode.
You feel like you’re in a mystery story, even though you know what’s going to happen. And there’s something very moody, almost noirish about the way that the atmosphere of the school was constructed.
That’s a very compelling atmosphere. And it was really easy to sink into it and to watch this whole story with these characters who were really going through a lot.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Sonia, how would you respond to that concern, though, that it in some ways could be seen as a guidebook, a textbook, that a young woman goes through some very troubling things? This is not to discount the things that happen to her in the series.
It’s really awful things that she experiences, but that we see the resolution of that is her suicide, and then this very long sort of — what some have argued is a sort of revenge fantasy played out on all of her classmates, how do you respond to that, that that’s not really a great thing to be showing kids?
SONIA SARAIYA: Stories are not always about recreating what’s happening.
They’re about showing us the — showing us what happens with these characters in this story, in this world, so that we can take away something from it. If you were someone who was thinking about this, you would understand what it might do to the people around you, what it — how difficult it might be for your parents to find you in that situation.
And you might also feel that, if someone else had gone through this experience, that you were not so alone in your experience of it, especially because one of the main takeaways of “13 Reasons Why,” I think, is that you know Hannah’s going to do this, but you also see how much of a mistake it is, as you see the entire texture of her life and how many people love her and care about her, even though they weren’t able to express it in the right ways throughout her life when she needed those crises.
At the end, you don’t think it was a good idea. You know, that certainly wasn’t the takeaway that I think a lot of people are taking away from the show anyway. To me, it seems like she — it was a mistake. She really had a lot to live for.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Well, Christina, what do you think about that, the idea that, in some ways, this really does show the emotional wreckage, not only that cyber-bullying and rape and the assaults and all of those things do to her, but also her own death and the aftermath of that?
Could that be — from your experience as a mental health professional, could that be cathartic for a lot of kids?
DR. CHRISTINA CONOLLY: I think that, for kids, showing — giving information about what can be part of the high school experience, these negative experiences that can occur, these do happen in real life.
And, as educators, we have to be aware of that. We have to help to promote to our parents that these things are happening. Our goal is to make sure that our parents and our teachers and other staff members at schools know that the show is happening, kids are watching it. They’re in lunchroom talking about it, on the bus.
What can we do to help them? And, as they talked about, one of the big things was the counselor, and parents were not shown or teachers were not shown in a way as a helper. We want people to know that that’s not the case.
And, in school, we want students to know that they should have a trusted adult in their life that they can go to when things are going wrong, and that educators and their parents are people that they can go to when these things happen, unlike Hannah, who went to this counselor.
The majority of mental health professionals are not like that, and we just want people to understand that.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Could the series still have retained its power and changed it a little bit that would make it more — that you would be more comfortable with its depiction of all of this?
DR. CHRISTINA CONOLLY: They go through and they talk about these horrible things that have happened.
And then they — in the end, they show Hannah’s death by suicide. But they don’t show, where can you go to get help? What are things that adolescents can do when these things are happening? They show the substance use, binge-drinking, drinking and driving, the rape, the stalking, all these things, but never does the show go into, where can you go and how do you get help?
How does your friend help others? When you see your friend who is going through this, where can they get help? But also that Hannah more than likely has a mental health disorder. Over 90 percent of individuals who die by suicide have a mental health disorder, and the show doesn’t discuss that at all.
And mental health disorders are treatable, and so that, if we help to treat the mental health disorder, that helps to us prevent suicide.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Dr. Christina Conolly, Sonia Saraiya, thank you both very much.
DR. CHRISTINA CONOLLY: Thank you for having me.
SONIA SARAIYA: Thank you, William.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Last night, we brought you a look at the brutal civil war ravaging South Sudan and the lives it has scarred.
Tonight, another calamity afflicting South Sudan, a famine, caused by drought and man. The United Nations estimates 40 percent of the country’s people are at risk.
Again in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, special correspondent Jane Ferguson reports.
JANE FERGUSON: She studies with focus and poise. Rebecca looks like a typical student next to her classmates in Thoahnom school, in a remote area of South Sudan, but few of them have been through what she has endured.
Her family fled for their lives when government soldiers raided their village. They survived by hiding in swamps for two weeks.
REBECCA RIAK CHOL, Displaced Person (through interpreter): When we fled our village, we were 28 people. When we got here, we were 24. Two were shot and two died of hunger.
JANE FERGUSON: One of those who died was her 13-year-old sister. Rebecca watched her grow weak and starve to death.
REBECCA RIAK CHOL (through interpreter): We didn’t have anything to dig with to bury her, so we just put grass on the body and left it there.
JANE FERGUSON: Marco Nuer is 16 years old and also goes to school here. Two months ago, he made it to this village with what remained of his family.
MARCO NUER, Displaced Person (through interpreter): When we fled the fighting, I saw at least 20 people killed. Along the road later, people died of hunger.
JANE FERGUSON: His brother, sister and father were among those who died of starvation. The trauma of their loss haunts him.
Both Rebecca and Marco have found safety in this village controlled by rebel gunmen. Rebecca’s family have been given this small hut to shelter in by local people. Her mom, Tipasa, tries to sell tea to make extra money for food, but it’s never enough, so she forages in the marshes.
These are the roots of the water lily flowers. This is all people in this part of South Sudan have to eat. It’s muddy. It has very little nutritional value and is deeply unpleasant.
This is what they ate when they were hiding in the bush, too, and how countless numbers of people in South Sudan are trying to survive, on the run from government troops targeting them because of their tribe.
A split between president Salva Kiir and his vice president, Riek Machar, in 2013 tore apart the country, sparking a civil war. Both sides have been accused of war crimes. Most recently, government soldiers have been attacking communities of tribes seen as supportive of Machar’s rebel fighters, killing civilians and forcing large groups of people to flee.
They run into these massive swamps. It is a good hiding place from soldiers hunting them, but there is nothing to eat here, so famine has come to both Marco and Rebecca’s homes. This is a cruel manmade disaster. There is food in South Sudan, but many have had to leave it behind when they flee.
Food is being dropped by aid agencies to the most desperate. Those with the strength come out of hiding to get lifesaving supplies. This is Leer, the famine area where Marco is from. People here used to grow their own vegetables and farm cattle. When they ran for their lives into the bush, they left behind any way of feeding themselves.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is giving them tools and seeds. If they plant maize now, they can harvest it by August, if they live that long.
In many ways, this area is symbolic of the link between war and hunger in South Sudan. An area where aid agencies are giving out food to local people, they say this once was a vibrant marketplace, until government troops came in and burned it to the ground. And now the only thing left of that market is just ash on the ground.
The numbers of those in need here are staggering; 100,000 people are right now starving to death across the country. Millions more are on the brink.
DEEPMALA MAHLA, Mercy Corps: Before I came here, I thought, I know the drill, I have been there. I have never seen anything more complicated, more saddening as compared to South Sudan; 4.8 million people do not have enough food. It really shocks me.
JANE FERGUSON: Deepmala Mahla runs the U.S.-based charity Mercy Corps’ operation in South Sudan. She is not optimistic for the future.
DEEPMALA MAHLA: I have to say the gap between being brink of starvation and actually starving, there isn’t a whole lot of time left. It happens — the deterioration happens pretty fast.
JANE FERGUSON: South Sudan is the most dangerous place in the world for aid workers, yet people here desperately needs their help. Over 80 have been killed since the war started, a fifth of those in this year so far alone. Aid agencies often struggle to reach people starving in the wilderness.
Flying for hundreds of miles over this vast country, you rarely see even a dirt road. It’s in these remote areas where people are dying, far from the world’s view. People in urban areas like the capital, Juba, can get help.
International Medical Corps runs this hospital. In the intensive care ward for children, Dr. Sadia Azam shows us how she diagnoses malnutrition.
So, she is in danger?
DR. SADIA AZAM, International Medical Corps: Yes, she is in danger. She is really acute malnourished.
JANE FERGUSON: What’s causing that for her?
DR. SADIA AZAM: The children are like this. Their bodies are very fragile. They are very weak.
JANE FERGUSON: And weak bodies can’t fight off deadly diseases.
One-and-a-half-year-old Nyagoah also has pneumonia. This hospital exists largely because of U.S. government funding. American money is responsible for much of the aid relief in South Sudan, whether it’s food drops from planes or the seeds and tools distributed in famine areas.
Cuts to foreign aid proposed by the Trump administration could mean less money makes it here. And charities are nervous.
Jason Straziuso is the regional spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross.
JASON STRAZIUSO, International Committee of the Red Cross: The United States is the largest single supporter of the ICRC, a substantial part of our budget. And we view this American generosity and goodwill as vital to our operations, as vital to our humanitarian assistance around the world.
JANE FERGUSON: Rebecca escaped the horrors of widespread killings, only to face starvation in the wilderness. Famine will continue to stalk families like hers in this country for as long as people cannot peacefully farm their cattle and grow food at home.
And the war that drives hunger here is far from over.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jane Ferguson in Unity State, South Sudan.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In her final report tomorrow, Jane brings us the stories of women in South Sudan who have survived rape used as a weapon of war.
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WASHINGTON — The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, has ousted its leader after a power struggle.
The Washington nonprofit’s board of trustees unanimously asked for and received the resignation of Jim DeMint at a meeting Tuesday. The board chairman said in a pull-no-punches statement afterward that “significant and worsening management issues” led to the ouster.
“Heritage has never been about one individual, but rather the power of conservative ideas,” chairman Thomas Saunders III wrote in a statement. “Heritage is bigger than any one person.”
DeMint, a former South Carolina senator, could not immediately be reached.
Rep. Dave Brat, a Virginia Republican, called DeMint’s ouster “a tragedy.”
“He’s just kind of an ideal person who understood the think-tank world and understands the timing and the strategy along with policy,” Brat said. “And to lose that, it’s incomprehensible. I don’t get it. At all. I don’t get it.”
Some board members called the decision a painful, but necessary, one.
Kay Cole James said it was “purely about management, organizational and structural issues” — not philosophical differences with DeMint.
James said Saunders expressed admiration for DeMint during an all-staff meeting late Monday to announce the leadership change. She added that DeMint had already left the building by then.
Heritage, which has 500,000 members, brought in about $92 million in revenue in 2015 and paid DeMint more than $1 million every year. That’s according to its most recent publicly available tax filings.
The nonprofit has been a crucial ally of President Donald Trump and his still-young administration. The president thanked Heritage — and specifically DeMint — during his speech Friday to the National Rifle Association.
Founder Ed Feulner will serve as president and chief executive officer during a search for DeMint’s replacement.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump has given a flurry of interviews in the past week or so to commemorate his first 100 days in office. And he made a dizzying amount of news, giving controversial and, at times, contradictory comments on topics ranging from North Korea to the U.S. Civil War.
To try to make sense of it all, we are joined now by our own Lisa Desjardins, by Yeganeh Torbati. She’s a State Department reporter for Reuters. And Julie Davis, she covers the White House for The New York Times.
And we welcome all three of you to the program.
Let’s talk first about the president’s comments about the health care bill, this replacement bill.
Lisa, he was asked some pointed questions over the weekend, CBS’ John Dickerson, in an interview for “Face the Nation.”
Here is some of that interview. Let’s watch.
JOHN DICKERSON, Host, “Face The Nation”: They are worried.
Are they going to have the guarantee of coverage if they have a preexisting condition, or if they live in a state where the governor decides that’s not a part of the health care, or that the prices are going to go up? That’s the worry.
The American Medical Association says …
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We actually …
JOHN DICKERSON: … it could effectively make coverage completely unaffordable for people.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Yes, we actually have — well, forget about unaffordable. What’s unaffordable is Obamacare, John.
JOHN DICKERSON: So, I’m not hearing you, Mr. President, say there’s a guarantee of preexisting conditions.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We actually have — we actually have a clause that guarantees.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Lisa, today, there are Republicans saying this newly reworked legislation doesn’t guarantee preexisting conditions will be covered.
What’s going on here?
LISA DESJARDINS: And it’s changed one major vote, Judy.
That’s Fred Upton of Michigan. Our viewers might be familiar with him because he used to chair the committee that wrote health care policy. He says he’s now a no vote on the Republican plan as it stands now, because he says preexisting conditions are not protected in this latest version.
It seemed that either President Trump didn’t exactly understand the latest version, or he was talking about not the preexisting waivers that states could get, but perhaps the high-risk pools that they’re hoping states use to protect those folks who have preexisting medical conditions.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And at one point in that interview, Julie Davis, the president did refer to pools. What do you think was going on there?
JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, The New York Times: Well, I think what we’re hearing is a president who doesn’t like to get very steeped in the details of policy, and what he wants to emphasize is his message, which is that he wants everyone to be covered as effectively and as fulsomely as they are under the Affordable Care Act.
The problem is, members of Congress have to vote on an actual piece of legislation, and they’re looking at a bill that doesn’t do what he says it does. So, that’s why we’re seeing this initiative stall yet again, and it sounds like the president’s rhetoric is out of step with what is actually happening.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, as we mentioned, this is to all three of you, we mentioned a minute ago in our news summary, there is also conflicting language coming out of the White House today about the spending plan that was agreed to in the last few days between Democrats and Republicans.
Democrats are saying, we won. The Republicans, some of them are acknowledging that Democrats got the better of this. The president tweeted this morning — and, Julie, I’m going to come back to you on this — he said, “The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and the Democrats is, we need 60 votes in the Senate, which are not there. We,” he said, “either elect more Republican senators in 2018 or we change the rules now to 51 percent. Our country needs a good shutdown in September to fix this mess.”
He sounds frustrated, Julie.
JULIE DAVIS: He is frustrated.
And we heard from his OMB director, his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, this afternoon, that he thought that those tweets were because of the president’s frustration, not that he didn’t want — get what he wanted in the deal, according to the White House, but that they were acting, that Democrats were acting like they had won, when, in fact, you know, the president had been negotiating in good faith, Mr. Mulvaney said.
The fact is, the president did have to come to the table and Republicans in Congress did and compromise to get a spending agreement through. And while most presidents would be spending this time saying, we got a lot of what we wanted, it was a good compromise, I showed that I was willing to come to the table, instead, the president started the day really emphasizing how willing he is to sort of spark a partisan conflict in the next go-round.
So, rather than enjoying the fact that he was able to broker a compromise that most people thought it was going to be difficult for him to do, he is now looking forward to the next negotiation and saying, well, I’m ready to torpedo that one.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And how is that received on the hill, Lisa?
LISA DESJARDINS: Yes, that was a big lead balloon on the Hill, Republicans shaking their heads, openly saying, no, none of this makes sense. We don’t want a shutdown, actually. It achieves nothing, with very exceptions, they were saying, and also saying, on the Senate side, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell was adamant with reporters today, saying the vast majority of the Senate does not want to change the rules.
We heard from top to bottom they feel that those rules do protect the minority in a way that both parties agree on right now. So he’s out of step. And there was a lot of head-shaking, a lot of question marks about exactly what the president is trying to achieve here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Yeganeh, I want to bring you in now, because I want to share this clip.
This is the president’s interview yesterday with Bloomberg News in which he was asked about North Korea, and, of course, its young dictator, Kim Jong-un, came up. Let’s listen to this. This is an audio interview.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have a potentially very bad situation that we will meet in the toughest of all manners if we have to do that.
If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely — I would be honored to do it. If it’s under the — again, under the right circumstances. But I would — I would do that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, he’s honored to meet with the dictator of North Korea. How is that being received at the State Department and abroad?
YEGANEH TORBATI, Reuters: Right.
I think the question here is that it’s not so much a fundamental shift in U.S. policy. As you will remember during the 2008 presidential campaign, former President Obama said that there’s no reason why we shouldn’t meet with rogue nations in order to advance U.S. interests.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s true.
YEGANEH TORBATI: It’s really the wording of saying that he would be honored to meet with Kim Jong-un, who is someone that, you know, U.S. officials have said violates his own people’s rights and is ruling really North Korea with an iron grip.
And so I think that sort of language, especially coming on the heels of his interview last week, one in which he said that there’s a potential for a major, major conflict with North Korea, causes a little bit of whiplash within the bureaucracy, especially the national security bureaucracy here in Washington.
The State Department, the Pentagon, the Treasury Department, they’re all looking for signals from the president as to sort of what their talking points and what their policy should be. And it’s a little bit contradictory at the moment.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Lisa, on the Hill, again, you have so many members looking to see how the president speaks about these very sensitive international, national security question.
LISA DESJARDINS: There is no lack of reaction to this.
And, of course, as expected, Democrats said this was a problem, but many Republicans did as well. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker told reporters the president’s iPhone needs to be taken away. John McCain, Armed Services chairman, went farther. He said that he thought this was disturbing.
So it is both serious, and to some degree people aren’t taking the president seriously as well. And that’s a problem for him. I did speak to one source in Trump world who spent a lot of time with the president who said he’s a disrupter, and that people should realize he’s trying to find solutions, so he is both hot and cold at the same time. Washington doesn’t know how to deal with that, and that’s what we’re seeing right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The last excerpt I want to share with the audience brings up the Civil War, and I’m going to come back to you, Julie, on this one.
The president was talking. This is in an interview he did a couple of days ago with Sirius radio. He was being interviewed by the reporter Salena Zito, and Andrew Jackson, president Andrew Jackson”s name came up. Let’s listen to that.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was — he was a very tough person, but he had a big heart.
And he was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, there’s reason for this.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Julie Davis, we know President Andrew Jackson died 16 years before the Civil War started. The president was trying to clean this up a little bit on Twitter this morning. What are they saying at the White House?
JULIE DAVIS: Well, I think, as with many of his tweets, they weren’t professing to know exactly what he meant when he made that comment.
I think one of the more charitable explanations was that the was talking about the nullification crisis, when the Southern states wanted to secede, and he was against that.
But, really, I mean, historians point out that this is a president who is really not steeped in the details of history, even sort of the broad outlines of history, the way that many presidents have been. Again, he’s not interested in the details, so much as he’s making the point, Andrew Jackson is a populist who he has said he very much admires and sort of wants to fashion himself after.
The question, though, is, Andrew Jackson was also a slave owner. And to the degree that he might have been suggesting that there might have been a solution short of the Civil War that would have ended the conflict, but preserved slavery or some element of it, that had people really concerned, and that had both historians and other analysts just sort of scratching their heads, like, why would you make a point like that?
It’s just one of those comments that left I think a little bit more of a mess than he intended.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Yeganeh Torbati, obviously, the Civil War, they don’t have to worry about that any more at the State Department.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But they do obviously consider the way the president uses language and the way he speaks about and his knowledge of American history. What do the diplomats you speak with, those who pay attention to the sensitivities of all this, say?
YEGANEH TORBATI: There is some concern that our allies and our rivals abroad, U.S. allies and rivals abroad, are somewhat behind closed doors a little bit mocking of some of the things that President Trump says, and U.S. diplomats sort of just have to kind of grin and bear it.
There’s not much they can really say either in defense or sort of an explanation, because they’re not really sure themselves what the president might be getting at. There’s a broader question of, when he makes these kind of contradictory remarks or remarks where he’s sort of whipsawing from sort of statement to statement, you know, do the rank and file, do the bureaucrats within the National Security Agency, do they know which direction to follow when they’re trying to sort of set the agenda for meetings?
They’re not quite sure right now, because they usually get their signal, their policy signal from the president. And it’s not really clear right now. Even if Secretary of State Tillerson or Secretary of Defense Mattis are very consistent in their own messaging, the State Department and the Pentagon may not sort of — the right hand may know what the left hand is doing, and so that’s sort of the concern that diplomats at least have right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s a reminder that every word out of the president’s mouth has repercussions on Capitol Hill, elsewhere around the executive branch, Julie and Yeganeh, completely, around the world, not just in the diplomatic community here, but literally around the globe.
Yeganeh Torbati, Julie Davis, Lisa Desjardins, we thank you.
YEGANEH TORBATI: Thank you.
LISA DESJARDINS: Thank you.
JULIE DAVIS: Thanks, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin have been on the phone again, and they agreed to step up diplomacy in Syria. The two men spoke today for the first time since the U.S. attacked a Syrian air base last month.
Earlier, Putin met with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sochi, Russia. He claimed again that Moscow didn’t meddle in the U.S. election.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter): We never interfere into political lives and political processes in other countries, and we would very much like that nobody interfered into our political life and into the political life in Russia. These are just rumors used in the internal political struggle in the U.S.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton said today that Putin certainly interfered in order to help Donald Trump and defeat her. U.S. intelligence agencies and the Congress are investigating whether the Russians coordinated with Trump aides during the campaign.
The head of Thailand’s military junta says he is now expecting much-improved relations with the U.S. They cooled sharply after he seized power in a 2014 coup and became prime minister. But, today, he said President Trump assured him in a weekend phone call that — quote — “Thai-U.S. relations will now be closer than ever before.” The president also invited him to visit the White House.
Mr. Trump gave out conflicting messages today on the compromise measure to fund the government through the end of this fiscal year. First, in a tweet, he signaled displeasure, and suggested shutting the government down in the next budget fight. Later, though, as he honored the Air Force Academy football team, he praised the spending deal, and said — quote — “This is what winning looks like.”
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This bill is a clear win for the American people. We brought lawmakers together from both sides of the aisle to deliver a budget that funds the rebuilding of the United States military, makes historic investments in border security, and provides health care for our miners and school choice for our disadvantaged children.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Later, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said Mr. Trump is unhappy with portrayals that Democrats won the budget fight.
MICK MULVANEY, White House Budget Director: The president is frustrated with the fact that he negotiated in good faith with the Democrats and they went out to try and spike the football and make him look bad.
It doesn’t surprise me at all that his frustrations were manifested in that way. We have got a lot to do — we have got a lot to between now and September. I don’t anticipate a shutdown in September, but, if negotiations — if the Democrats aren’t going to behave any better than they have in the last couple of days, it may be inevitable.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The leader of Senate Democrats, Chuck Schumer, said that shutting down the government at any time would be a bad idea.
A guilty plea today from a white former policeman who shot a black man to death in Charleston, South Carolina. Michael Slager shot Walter Scott five times as Scott ran from his car in 2015. A state court jury deadlocked on murder charges, but, today, Slager pleaded to federal civil rights violations. Under the deal, the state agreed to drop its murder case. No sentencing date was set.
There are two reports tonight that the Justice Department will not charge police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the killing of Alton Sterling last July. He was shot dead after being pinned on the ground. But the incident was videotaped and sparked tense protests in that city. A little over a week later, a gunman killed three Baton Rouge officers.
There’s word today that the overall death rate among African-Americans dropped sharply from 1999 to 2015. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that it fell 25 percent in that period. However, the overall life expectancy for African-Americans is still four years less than that for whites. Black Americans are also far more likely to die of heart disease and cancer than are whites.
Airline executives found themselves in the hot seat at a congressional hearing today on the issue of overbooking flights. It followed United Airlines’ forced removal of a passenger who refused to give up his seat last month.
United CEO Oscar Munoz was one of four airline representatives at the hearing. He called the incident a turning point for his company.
OSCAR MUNOZ, CEO, United Airlines: It will accelerate, at least from United’s perspective, and as you heard from others, this will make us better. Once you sit on our aircraft and you are on a seat, other than for safety or security reasons, we will not take you off that flight.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Republicans and Democrats alike warned the airlines to shape up. Committee Chair Representative Bill Shuster said customer service had better improve, or else.
REP. BILL SHUSTER, R-Pa.: Get together collectively and figure this out. Seize this opportunity, because, if you don’t, we’re going to come, and you’re not going to like it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: United reached a settlement with the ejected passenger last week for an undisclosed sum.
U.S. auto sales tumbled last month. Six major companies today reported weaker showings than a year ago.
And, on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 36 points to close near 20950. The Nasdaq rose more than three points, and the S&P 500 added nearly three.
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WASHINGTON — Government officials requested to know the identities of more than 1,900 Americans whose information was swept up in National Security Agency surveillance programs last year, according to an intelligence report issued Tuesday.
The identities of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents were found in 3,914 intelligence reports the NSA distributed last year, the report said. The annual report comes just weeks after President Donald Trump accused former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser of possibly committing a crime when she asked government analysts to disclose the names of Trump associates documented in intelligence reports.
Most names in such intelligence reports are masked to protect privacy, but last year government officials requested that 1,934 identities — not initially revealed in the NSA reports — be unmasked in order to understand the intelligence being conveyed. In 2015, government officials requested the unmasking of 2,232 identities.
Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, has said neither she nor other Obama officials used secret intelligence reports to spy on Trump associates for political purposes. Rice’s official role would have given her the ability to request that names be revealed for national security purposes.
In interviews, Rice acknowledged that she sometimes asked for the names of Americans referenced in reports. She would not say whether she saw intelligence related to Trump associates or whether she asked for their identities, though she did say that reports related to Russia increased in the final months of the presidential election campaign.
Lawmakers have repeatedly asked U.S. intelligence agencies to tell them how many Americans’ emails and calls are vacuumed up by warrantless government surveillance programs created to collect information on foreign intelligence targets.
“This report provides a small window into the government’s surveillance activities, but it leaves vital questions unanswered,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a statement. “At the top of the list is how many Americans’ communications are being swept up.”
After former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents revealing extensive government surveillance, Congress passed a law that ended bulk collection. But communications companies can collect the data and the NSA still can access it for national security purposes.
The report showed that even under the new law, the NSA still collected more than 151 million records about Americans’ phone calls last year.
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WASHINGTON — Their health care bill teetering on the brink, House Republican leaders and President Donald Trump intensified their already-fierce lobbying Wednesday to save the long-promised legislation, agreeing to changes that brought two pivotal Republicans back on board.
Democrats stood firmly united against the health bill, but they applauded the separate $1 trillion-plus spending measure to keep the government running, which was poised for passage in the House.
On the health care front, Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan and Billy Long of Missouri emerged from a White House meeting with Trump saying they could now support the bill, thanks to the addition of $8 billion over five years to help people with pre-existing conditions.
“Today we’re here announcing that with this addition that we brought to the president and sold him on in over an hour meeting in here with him, that we’re both yeses on the bill,” Long told reporters. The potential defections of Upton and Long over the previous 48 hours had emerged as a possible death knell for the bill, and with it seven years’ worth of GOP campaign promises to repeal and replace Democrat Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
“‘We need you, we need you, we need you,'” Long described the message from a president eager for a win after spending more than 100 days in office without a single substantive congressional accomplishment, save Senate confirmation of a Supreme Court justice.
Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi saw more of an acting job than a true change of heart.
Upton “has always been a yes,” she said. “People will say ‘I am a no and give me some fake reason to make it look like the bill is better.'”
The latest iteration of the GOP bill would let states escape a requirement under Obama’s law that insurers charge healthy and seriously ill customers the same rates. Overall, the legislation would cut the Medicaid program for the poor, eliminate Obama’s fines for people who don’t buy insurance and provide generally skimpier subsidies. The American Medical Association, AARP and other consumer and medical groups are opposed.
If the GOP bill became law, congressional analysts estimate that 24 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026, including 14 million by next year. Even if the GOP secures a win in the House, the Senate is expected to change the bill.
Separately, on the spending bill to keep the government running, Trump and GOP leaders are hailing it as a victory, citing increases in money for the military. But Trump himself has undermined that message by complaining over Twitter about the need for Democratic votes on the bill and suggesting that a “good ‘shutdown'” might be in order.
Some Republicans were not on-message either about the $1.1 trillion spending bill, the bipartisan result of weeks of negotiations in which top Democrats like Pelosi successfully blocked Trump’s most controversial proposals, including a down payment on his oft-promised Mexico border wall, cuts to popular domestic programs, and new punishments for so-called sanctuary cities.
“From my point of view, we pretty well got our clock cleaned,” said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Democratic votes are needed to pass the measure even though Republicans control both the White House and Congress, which made Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer powerful participants in the talks. That resulted in bipartisan outcomes like $407 million to combat Western wildfires and a $2 billion increase for medical research at the National Institutes of Health. Schumer has crowed over the outcome in a series of interviews, seemingly irking the White House.
The mammoth, 1,665-page measure to fund the government through September was scheduled for passage by the House Wednesday afternoon, and from there it would go to the Senate. Despite his complaints, Trump has promised to sign it.
The certain outcome for the spending bill stood in contrast to the suspense shrouding the health care legislation, as the window for action closes for now. The House is to leave Washington for an 11-day recess on Thursday.
Even with Upton and Long in the “yes” column, GOP leaders continued to hunt for votes among wary moderates. Several opponents — Kentucky’s Tom Massie, New Jersey’s Chris Smith and Leonard Lance and Pennsylvania’s Patrick Meehan — said they were still no despite the changes.
They have complained that the bill erodes protections under Obama’s law by opening the door for insurers to charge people with pre-existing illnesses unaffordable premiums.
A supporter of the legislation, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said that at the least, backing from Upton and Long “breaks the momentum of drift away from the bill” among GOP moderates.
The Associated Press now counts 19 Republicans opposed to the bill, with at least 11 others undecided, though it was not immediately clear how the addition of the Upton amendment would impact those stances. GOP leaders can lose only 22 from their ranks and still pass the bill, which they already had to pull from the House floor once as it became clear it would fail.
That earlier collapse was a humiliating episode that raised questions about House Speaker Paul Ryan’s leadership and the GOP’s ability to govern at all. Ryan is eager to avoid a rerun and has said repeatedly he will not schedule a vote until passage is assured.
Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed.
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CHICAGO — Former President Barack Obama unveiled plans for his future presidential center Wednesday, painting a picture of a buzzing hub for youth and community programs on the South Side of Chicago where he raised his family and launched his political career.
Obama fielded questions from residents at a forum near the site, delving into nitty gritty details of traffic patterns, green space and job creation, while avoiding any mention of his successor in the White House.
“What we want this to be is the world premiere institution for training young people and leadership to make a difference in their communities, in their countries and in the world,” he told the friendly crowd that included Mayor Rahm Emanuel, his one-time chief of staff.
It was Obama’s second public appearance since he left office, providing another glimpse of post-presidential life. Last week, he participated in a University of Chicago panel with students, saying young people are the key to solving the nation’s most pressing problems and he hoped his center would play a role in it.
The Obama Presidential Center will feature three structures, including a tower-like museum and tree-lined walkways. The Obama Foundation displayed drawings and a miniature model of the center, which will also include a public plaza and classrooms.
Obama said construction of the center — up to 225,000 square feet (20,900 square meters) overall — would take about four years, but programming would begin this year. He said he and former first lady Michelle Obama, who also attended, would personally donate $2 million to summer job efforts in the city. He says Chicago has a lot to offer, but most people outside the city only see headlines about the violence.
“We don’t want to wait for a building,” he said. “This is about reaching out right now.”
He said there would be future community meetings to discuss other aspects of the center in Jackson Park, and hoped it could be used to spurn economic activity to the area, which includes several downtrodden neighborhoods. Obama projected the center would create thousands of jobs, including temporary construction jobs and up to 300 permanent positions.
The Obama Foundation has said much of the exhibition design work for the museum will be performed by minority- and women-owned businesses. New York-based Ralph Appelbaum Associates will head a team of several firms and individuals with expertise in media, lighting and acoustics in designing exhibits. The project is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but officials did not discuss cost on Wednesday.
Obama said he envisioned recording studios where musicians could help young people work on music and space for movie directors could take on community storytelling. The center will also have exhibits with campaign memorabilia and personal artifacts.
“Let’s face it, we want to see Michelle’s dresses,” he joked.
The event was held at the South Shore Cultural Center, a park facility where the Obamas held their wedding reception 25 years ago. Obama also noted that he lived not far from the site and his daughters were born at a nearby hospital.
He also squashed any notion that the library was ever going to be elsewhere. Multiple locations in three states — Illinois, New York and Hawaii — had initially pitched proposals.
“The best things that have happened to me in my life, happened in this community,” he said. “Although we had a formal bidding process to determine where the presidential library was going to be, the fact of the matter was it had to be right here on the South Side of Chicago.”
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It appears to be the policy map for the Trump White House, or at least for chief strategist Steve Bannon. And now we can see it thanks to Twitter. Bannon’s fabled white board, filled with a list of policy goals, appeared to show up in the background of a photo posted Tuesday evening by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Boteach is posing with Bannon in front of the white board in the picture, which was presumably taken in Bannon’s West Wing office. (We wrote to the White House to confirm that the whiteboard in the photo is the one long rumored to be on display in Bannon’s office, but have not received a response yet.)
While most of the items on the board were oft-repeated campaign promises, what we can make out of the list from the picture tell us a few things. (And comment below with what else you observe.)
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WASHINGTON — The House easily passed a $1.1 trillion government-wide spending bill on Wednesday, awarding wins to both Democrats and Republicans while putting off until later this year fights over President Donald Trump’s promised border wall with Mexico and massive military buildup.
The 309-118 vote sends the bill to the Senate in time for them to act to avert a government shutdown at midnight Friday. The White House has said Trump would sign the measure, which is the first major legislation to pass in Trump’s short, turbulent presidency.
House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the measure as bipartisan, and said the biggest gain for conservatives came as Democrats dropped longstanding demands to match Pentagon increases with equal hikes for nondefense programs.
“No longer will the needs of our military be held hostage by the demands for more domestic spending,” Ryan said. “In my mind, that is what’s most important here.”
Democrats also backed the measure, which protects popular domestic programs such as education, medical research and grants to state and local governments from cuts sought by Trump — while dropping from earlier version a host of GOP agenda items.
“It’s imperative to note what this bill does not contain,” said Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, lead negotiator for Democrats. “Not one cent for President Trump’s border wall and no poison pill riders that would have prevented so-called sanctuary cities from receiving federal grants, defunded Planned Parenthood, undermined the Affordable Care Act.”
The bill is the product of weeks of Capitol Hill negotiations in which top Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi successfully blocked Trump’s most provocative proposals — especially the Mexico wall and cuts to popular domestic programs like community development grants.
The White House won $15 billion in emergency funding to jumpstart Trump’s promise to rebuild the military and an extra $1.5 billion for border security — each short of Trump demands — leading the president on Tuesday to boast, “this is what winning looks like.”
The opinions of top party leaders were not shared by everyone in the rank and file, some of whom feel that GOP negotiators too easily gave up on conservative priorities, such as cutting funds for Planned Parenthood and punishing “sanctuary” cities that fail to cooperate with immigration authorities.
“I don’t think it was negotiated very well, and I’ll just leave it at that,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C.
The long-overdue bill buys just five months of funding while Trump and his allies battle with congressional Democrats over spending cuts and funding for the wall, which Trump repeatedly promised during the campaign would be financed by Mexico. Mexican officials have rejected that notion.
Republicans were surprised by tweets from Trump on Tuesday that suggested he was initially unhappy with the measure and might provoke a government shutdown this fall in hopes of getting his way on the wall and other demands.
The measure is the product of a bipartisan culture among Congress’ appropriators, with money for foreign aid, grants to state and local governments and protection for the Environmental Protection Agency from cuts sought by tea party Republicans. The measure provides $2 billion in disaster aid money, $407 million to combat Western wildfires, additional grants for transit projects and a $2 billion increase for medical research at the National Institutes of Health.
The White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., won a $1.3 billion provision to preserve health benefits for more than 22,000 retired coal miners. Pelosi was the driving force behind an effort to give the cash-strapped government of Puerto Rico $295 million to ease its Medicaid burden.
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Like many recent grads, after Maegan Samuel got her bachelor’s degree from Howard University in 2014, she held a series of temporary jobs — day care worker, secretary — before landing a permanent position a year ago working in operations for a nonprofit association of public health programs in the District of Columbia. Yet throughout this unsettled time, there has been one constant she could count on: her mom’s health insurance, which has covered her as a dependent all along.
Should you do the same? As graduation approaches for thousands of young adults this spring, sorting out your health insurance options may seem more daunting than any political economics problem you came up against at school. You may not think it’s a high priority, but remember: Even healthy young people wind up in the emergency room for all sorts of mishaps, and having health insurance will let you get preventive care, including contraceptives, without paying for it.
With that in mind, do you stay on your parents’ plan as Samuel did, or is it better to sign up for insurance through your own job if it’s offered to you? If you’ve got a college health plan, should you switch to your parents’ plan when it ends or buy a plan on the health law’s marketplace instead? What about Medicaid?
Before the Affordable Care Act, young people graduating from school typically had few options for health insurance, but it’s different now.
The law allowed adult children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until they turned 26 and states to expand Medicaid coverage to individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (about $16,000). Since the law passed, the rate of uninsured people ages 19 to 25 has declined by more than half, to 14.6 percent for the first nine months in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey.
If you have multiple health plan possibilities, how do you choose? There’s no single answer that works for everyone, but there are guidelines to keep in mind as you think about your options.
Take a look at your parents’ health insurance.
In 2015, 29 percent of 19- to 25-year-olds were covered as dependents on their parents’ job-based plan, according to a Commonwealth Fund analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. It was the most common type of coverage for this age group.
Employer-sponsored plans are often more generous than an individual plan on the marketplace, with more comprehensive benefits and lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs. And parents can pass these benefits on.
In Samuel’s case, she stayed on her mother’s plan even after she was offered coverage through her own job. Her mom was willing to pay the entire premium for the plan, leaving Samuel responsible only for copays and other out-of-pocket costs. Such parental subsidies can make all the difference.
“I’m trying to stabilize my finances,” said Samuel, who lives in Silver Spring, Md. “I didn’t want that money pulled out every month.”
If you have health insurance through your college that will end when you graduate, you may qualify for a 60-day special enrollment period to sign up for new coverage, and you can enroll in Mom and Dad’s plan then if you like — even if you’re married or don’t live at home.
A key consideration: privacy. It’s likely that the insurer will send the policyholder, in this case your parents, insurance notices describing any care you receive.
Compare coverage through your employer.
Seventeen percent of young adults were insured by their own employer in 2015.
Large employers often offer insurance plans, called PPOs, that let workers choose their own doctors and providers from the insurer’s network and often allow them to seek care outside the network if the patient pays a larger share of the cost. A typical PPO plan offered by an employer with at least 500 employees paid for 87 percent of enrollees’ health care costs on average, according to data from benefits consultant Mercer. Compare that with the most popular silver-level plans sold on the ACA’s online marketplaces, which pay 70 percent of costs.
One benefit of an employer’s plan over your parents’: Buying your own plan may improve the odds that you’ll find doctors and hospitals nearby that are in your health plan’s provider network, said Erin Hemlin, director of training and education at Young Invincibles, an advocacy group for young adults.
A key consideration: If you do sign up for your own plan, you may get a break on your premium or a lower deductible for participating in the company’s wellness program. Those perks typically aren’t available to people who are dependents on a policy, said Jay Savan, a partner at Mercer.
If employer coverage isn’t an option, consider the state marketplace.
Twenty-two percent of young adults under 26 had marketplace coverage in 2015.
Marketplace plans must provide comprehensive coverage, including hospitalization, drugs and doctor visits. In addition, if your income is between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (about $12,000 to $48,000 for an individual) you could qualify for tax credits that will help cover the cost of premiums.
If you have a college health plan that ends when you graduate, you may qualify for a special enrollment period to sign up for a marketplace plan. But if you’re uninsured or insured through your parents, you probably can’t buy a marketplace plan until the next open enrollment period in the fall.
A key consideration: If your parents claim you as a tax dependent, you can’t claim the premium tax credit yourself, said Judith Solomon, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Unemployed? Uninsured? Consider Medicaid.
In 2015, 15 percent of people between ages 19 and 25 were on Medicaid.
To date, 31 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid coverage to adults with incomes of about $16,000 or less.
If you don’t have a job or earn very little and you live in one of these states, you may qualify for Medicaid, which provides comprehensive coverage, typically without a premium.
Unlike marketplace coverage, there’s no open enrollment period for Medicaid. You can apply anytime through your state Medicaid agency, healthcare.gov or your state marketplace.
A key consideration: If your parents claim you as a dependent on their taxes, it could also affect your eligibility.
As for Samuel, her time as a dependent on her mom’s plan is drawing to an end. She’ll turn 26 in September and will no longer qualify for coverage. At that time, she plans to sign up with her employer’s health insurance plan.
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can view the original report on its website.
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WASHINGTON — The House has passed an intelligence policy bill that bolsters efforts against Russia’s alleged covert influence campaigns and strengthens congressional oversight of spy agencies.
The legislation reauthorizes intelligence programs for 2017. It was approved as part of a $1.1 trillion government bill to fund the government through the end of September.
The measure increases scrutiny of what the U.S. describes as Russian influence campaigns, including its meddling in last year’s presidential election.
It also monitors Moscow’s compliance with the Open Skies Treaty. That agreement allows more than 30 nations to conduct observation flights over each other to build confidence and quell arms competition.
The bill requires declassification reviews of intelligence on individuals transferred from Guantanamo Bay to foreign countries and their past militant activities.
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In our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to our NewsHour Shares, something that caught our eye that may be of interest to you, too.
It’s springtime, and that means it’s peak tornado season in the nation’s Central Plains.
We recently spoke with one Wisconsin researcher who thinks modeling massive twisters with supercomputers could help save lives.
LEIGH ORF, University of Wisconsin: My name is Leigh Orf, and I am a scientist at the University of Wisconsin.
I study thunderstorms. Specifically, I study the supercell thunderstorms that produce the most powerful tornadoes, using computers to simulate them.
Only a small fraction of supercells produce tornadoes, and only a small fraction of that fraction produce the kind of tornado that we’re trying to study.
But the reason we are studying it is because, if you think of 2011 with Joplin, Missouri, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, El Reno, Oklahoma, these are the big, long-track EF-5 tornadoes that just do incredible amounts of damage and, if people can’t get out of the way of those storms, a lot of fatalities.
A computer model like the one we’re using essentially emulates or simulates the real atmosphere as faithfully as we scientists know how to make it work. We use the equations of physics to essentially grow a cloud in a specific environment.
What goes into the model are atmospheric conditions of winds, temperature, pressure, and humidity. And from there on, it’s just — the model just integrates forward in time.
This sequence is designed to give you a sense of the scale of the storm. And what’s really striking about this is, you can see how small the tornado is, at least with respect to the full storm.
But the reason I do this is to give people an understanding of how — why we need supercomputers to study this, because the whole storm really needs to be at this very high resolution in order to capture the tornado.
This highlights the streamwise vorticity current, which is a feature we have identified in these simulations that seems to be important to maintaining the strength of the storm and, therefore, the tornado. These are just massless. We call them parcels, air parcels in meteorology.
If you are hanging out in the streamwise vorticity area where those yellow parcels are, the tornado is coming right at you. They take a horizontal path, and then they kind of go tilted upward into the storm’s updraft.
Depending upon where you put these source regions, you can see the air is doing very different things. The red region is the streamwise vorticity current. The darker green region, this is air that’s in the cold pool of the supercell, and it seems to be directly feeding the tornado.
The whole reason we do this kind of research is essentially to produce better forecasts of when these things are going to happen. Too many people still die from tornadoes in — around the world, but in the United States, too.
We have a false alarm problem where we issue a warning when the tornado is not happening. And then we have the problem where the tornado is already happening, but we haven’t issued a warning.
So, the challenge is to do a much better job at producing these warnings even before the storm has formed. And the first step is to first understand the storm. You can’t forecast a storm until you understand it, and we’re just getting to the point where we’re better understanding what’s going on.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now questions about the ever-growing scope of Facebook’s empire and social network, and whether the company is embracing enough responsibility for its reach.
Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that they will add 3,000 more people to monitor live video, after problems with violence and hate speech.
Hari Sreenivasan takes it from there.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The decision comes after a series of cases where people shared live video of murder and suicide, recent examples, a murder in Cleveland last month that was posted live on Facebook, and a man in Thailand posted video of him murdering his 11-month-old daughter. It wasn’t removed for 24 hours.
Once Facebook makes these announced hires, there will be 7,500 employees to monitor thousands of hours of videos uploaded constantly.
Farhad Manjoo is a tech columnist for The New York Times who has been closely covering Facebook. He joins me now to talk about this issue and other questions facing the company.
Farhad, so let’s first — today’s news, how significant is this?
FARHAD MANJOO, The New York Times: I think it’s significant.
I mean, it’s a significant sort of step up in their ability to monitor these videos, and it should help. The way it works is, there’s lots of videos going on, on Facebook all the time. If somebody sees something that looks bad, that looks like it may be criminal or some other, you know, terrible thing, they flag it, and the flagged videos go to these reviewers.
And just having more of these reviewers should make the whole process faster. So, it should help. I mean, I think the question is why it took them a year to do this.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, put the scale in perspective here. If they have 1.2 billion active users a month or whatever it is that they talk about, even at one-half of 1 percent, if they wanted to harm themselves and put this on Facebook, that’s six million people.
How do these 7,000 stop that?
FARHAD MANJOO: Yes.
I mean, the way that tech companies generally work is, they manage scale by, you know, leveraging commuters, basically. There’s a lot of kind of algorithmic stuff that goes into making sure — they try to, you know, cut down the pool that the human reviewers have to look at.
And there is some experience in this in the Valley. I mean, YouTube has had to deal with this sort of thing for years. And the way they have really come around to doing it is a similar process. Like, they have thousands and thousands of hours of videos uploaded essentially every minute, and they count on kind of the viewers to flag anything that’s terrible, and then it goes to these human reviewers.
So, it’s a process that can work. The difficulty in Facebook’s case is, it’s live video, so they have to get it down much more quickly. And so, you know, it’s possible that they may need more people or some other, you know, algorithmic solution, but I think this is a — you know, it should be an improvement over what they have now.
HARI SREENIVASAN: You mentioned it took them so long to get to this point. Why?
FARHAD MANJOO: I think this is a real sort of cultural blind spot for Facebook in general.
Oftentimes, they go into these projects — you know, Facebook Live is an example, but many of the other things they have done — with, you know, tremendous optimism.
As a company, and Mark Zuckerberg as a technologist, he has tremendous optimism in technology. And they often fail to see or appreciate the possible kind of downsides of their technology and the ways that it could be misused.
I mean, I think that what we have seen with live — with the live video is a small example. The way that Facebook has sort of affected elections, the way that — you know, the fake news problem we saw in the U.S. election, the way it’s been used as a tool for propaganda in various other parts of the world, you know, those are huge examples of, you know, what looked like a fairly simple solution technologically, like we’re going to get everyone connected and have them share the news.
You know, it brings some real deep, like, social questions that they are only lately beginning to confront in a serious way.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, this combination of, I guess, an optimism in the technology and design and a faith in users are ultimately good and will make the right choice, I mean, is that the sort of core cultural concern or problem that keeps the company making these sorts of decisions?
FARHAD MANJOO: That’s part of it. And the other thing to remember is, you know, they’re a technology company, and speed is of the utmost concern for them.
One of the things that was happening in the tech industry last year is that a whole bunch of other companies were rolling out live video systems, and Facebook didn’t want to be left behind. And so they created their live video system.
And it became, you know, the biggest, because they’re the biggest social network. But with that sort of size comes, you know, an increased opportunity for misuse and more power, right. Like, a video on Facebook that can be seen by, you know, potentially much more people has a lot more potential for being misused.
And I think they — it’s not right to say that they don’t consider those things, but it seems like it’s on a back burner for them. And I think what’s happening at Facebook is a shift toward thinking about these issues at an earlier stage.
And we have really seen this more recently in their work with the news industry. I mean, after the — after what happened — after what happened in the election and the kind of controversy about fake news, they have started to — they have rolled out a bunch of initiatives to do stuff to improve how news is seen on Facebook. They have added fact-checkers and other things.
So, I think their attitude is changing, but it may be changing too slowly, compared to how quick the technology they’re rolling out is changing.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times, thanks so much.
FARHAD MANJOO: All right, great. Thanks so much.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump has pledged to revive the coal industry, and has already begun rolling back some government regulations.
In one case, that means boosting so-called mountaintop mining. But even as many in coal country applaud those moves, there’s concern over what it means for the environment.
That is the focus of this week’s report from Miles O’Brien.
It’s part of our weekly series on the Leading Edge of science and technology.
MILES O’BRIEN: Rocky Hackworth is a coal miner who makes a surprising claim.
ROCKY HACKWORTH, Surface Mine Manager: I’m a true environmentalist. I work in it and live in it.
MILES O’BRIEN: And he reshapes it. He manages the 1,600-acre, Four Mile Fork surface mine 30 miles south of Charleston, West Virginia.
This is a state where the thick, deep layers, or seams, of coal are all but gone after 200 years of relentless underground mining.
ROCKY HACKWORTH: Now, you got a lot more of the smaller, thinner seams that are on top of these mountains. Those areas have already been mined out. So, the surface mine was just a natural progression.
MILES O’BRIEN: With a mother lode of unnatural consequences. In the hills of West Virginia, surface mining carries a huge cost, nothing less than the mountains themselves, the icons of this beautiful state.
CLAY MULLINS, Former Coal Miner: They had everything here. They had two or three post offices, I think.
MILES O’BRIEN: Clay Mullins is a former underground miner who lives near a mountaintop removal mine in Pax. He endures the sound of daily explosions and the destruction of woods where he once hunted and fished.
CLAY MULLINS: I think West Virginians are sacrificing too much of our mountains, our wildlife. Our wildlife really suffers. I just don’t like looking out and seeing the mountains get torn out the way they are.
MILES O’BRIEN: Ten percent of the land in Central Appalachia is now either active or reclaimed surface mines.
EMILY BERNHARDT, Duke University: The Central Appalachian landscape has been fundamentally changed, and it’s been changed in a way that it’s not going to recover from. Those mountains are not going to grow back.
MILES O’BRIEN: Emily Bernhardt is a professor of biogeochemistry at Duke University. She’s been researching the decapitation of mountains for seven years, trying to understand how it affects the rivers and streams below.
EMILY BERNHARDT: The problem is that for every about a meter of coal, you have about 99 meters of rock that you have to put somewhere during this process. And when you’re in a landscape like Appalachia, the place that most of that rock ends up being put is in river valleys.
MILES O’BRIEN: When the rock is pulverized in the mining process, toxic chemicals and minerals locked inside for millennia are released and exposed to the air, creating two areas of concern.
EMILY BERNHARDT: One, that the water coming out of these mines is salty, it’s full of rock-derived salts, and that by itself is stressful to many freshwater organisms. And the sort of subsidiary problem is that that salt contains lots of elevated levels of trace metals, which have known toxicity to organisms.
MILES O’BRIEN: But the mining industry believes that concern is overstated.
ROCKY HACKWORTH: This is a good example of a ditch that we have to build on top of a valley field.
MILES O’BRIEN: Rocky Hackworth showed me the trenches and retention ponds designed to capture run-off and protect the surrounding environment.
ROCKY HACKWORTH: That way, you don’t have anything that is leaving the property. Downstream, there’s no consequences. We have had samples taken now for eight years, and we have never had a water issue.
MILES O’BRIEN: The coal industry says it tests water continuously.
Chris Hamilton is the senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association.
CHRIS HAMILTON, West Virginia Coal Association: It’s not something that’s done haphazardously. There’s a very, very high premium placed on that, and it’s a very important aspect, just like personal and individual mine health and safety.
MILES O’BRIEN: But the data tells a different story.
We joined Emily Bernhardt’s colleague Eric Moore, as he did some fieldwork near the largest surface mine in Central Appalachia. Active for more than 40 years, the Hobet mine has transformed about 10,000 acres of natural mountain peaks into manmade mesas.
The Duke team presides over 14 different monitoring sites in what appear to be clean mountain streams. They measure temperature, oxygen levels and acidity, and they also test the conductivity of the water, a good indication of the health of the stream.
In this case, the number is more than 1,900 microsiemens per centimeter.
What does that mean?
ERIC MOORE, Duke University: Well, compared to our natural watersheds, they run around 150.
MILES O’BRIEN: In this mountain stream, the conductivity is similar to an urban waterway filled with road salt and other pollutants. The only possible source here, the chemicals unleashed when the mountaintops are destroyed.
This is not a healthy stream?
ERIC MOORE: Correct, not at all.
MILES O’BRIEN: It looks good.
ERIC MOORE: Yes, looks fine.
MILES O’BRIEN: But it’s not.
ERIC MOORE: No, not at all.
MILES O’BRIEN: In the final days of the Obama administration, the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement published a new rule designed to protect streams like this. It would have prevented mining companies from impacting the hydrologic balance, forced them to monitor the water during mining, and mandated streams be restored to their natural state after the mining was over.
CHRIS HAMILTON: We saw signs of every agency that had any responsibility over mining proposed onerous rule after onerous rule, which really served to restrict, if not close down, a number of mining operations here.
MILES O’BRIEN: But President Trump has made some big promises to help the coal mining industry.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And, for those miners, get ready, because you are going to be working your asses off, all right?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Thank you, everybody. Thank you.
MILES O’BRIEN: In February, he signed legislation killing the stream protection rule. And the president is promising more regulatory relief to bring back mining jobs.
Are people optimistic now here in coal country in West Virginia?
ROCKY HACKWORTH: Very much optimistic, 100 percent. It changed the day after the election.
MILES O’BRIEN: But scientists believe surface mining is taking a big toll, not just to the mountains and streams, but also to the humans who live nearby.
MICHAEL HENDRYX, Indiana University: If you value public health, this form of destruction around people’s community should stop, and even if that means that the mining companies make less money or the coal stays on the ground forever.
MILES O’BRIEN: Michael Hendryx is a professor of applied health science at Indiana University. He has studied the health effects of mountaintop removal in West Virginia for 10 years.
He has documented high occurrences of heart, lung, kidney diseases and some forms of cancer among people who live near mines. But the mining industry is skeptical.
CHRIS HAMILTON: There’s a segment of our culture and society here that’s had some ill health and some health effects, and most of that has been attributed thus far to lifestyle, diet, smoking and things of that nature.
MILES O’BRIEN: So, Hendryx is launching a new study designed to factor out those other causes.
He and his team will collect detailed health data, along with environmental exposures to various toxins. Participants will receive passive air sampling devices inside and outside their homes, and, on their wrists, silicone wristbands absorb certain toxins.
MICHAEL HENDRYX: We’re trying now to try to make those connections more direct between environmental conditions in these communities and the exposures that individual people are facing, and the health consequences of those.
MILES O’BRIEN: The consequences to the landscape and the environment are more clear-cut. At Four Mile Fork and all other mines, federal regulations require them to sculpt and replant the land that is mined out.
ROCKY HACKWORTH: These mountains have natural resources that God put there, and they were put here for a reason, to be used, and we’re using them and putting them back in place.
MILES O’BRIEN: But people who live near a surface mine, like former miner Clay Mullins, say the landscape is forever altered.
CLAY MULLINS, Former Coal Miner: It all comes back to that almighty dollar, because that’s what they care about. And that’s what they’re in business for, is to make money.
Now, everybody understands that stuff, now, but you got to draw a line between what’s good for the health of your workers and what’s good for the health of the Earth.
MILES O’BRIEN: Wherever that line in the sand was before, the Trump administration is clearly determined to move mountains for the coal industry, even as it does the same in Central Appalachia.
In Kanawha County, West Virginia, I’m Miles O’Brien for the PBS NewsHour.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: Sometimes, searching for the truth is dangerous work.
Journalists around the world at times risk death or imprisonment to inform the public.
Twenty-four years ago, the U.N. General Assembly proclaimed May 3 Press Freedom Day. So, we mark this moment by assessing where things stand.
William Brangham has the story.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It’s often where you report that determines the level of threat that a journalist faces.
In Mexico, dozens have been killed by cartels while reporting on the drug trade. In Turkey, it’s the government that’s been cracking down, closing newspapers and locking up reporters. And here in the U.S., it’s more of a rhetorical attack, with accusations of fake news, and the president questioning the motives and honesty of the press.
We look at this global landscape now with Joel Simon. He’s executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Welcome to the NewsHour, Joel.
JOEL SIMON, Committee to Protect Journalists: Great to be on.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Let’s go through some of these global hot spots that we have been talking about.
Your organization just put out a report about Mexico and some of the violence directed at journalists there. What’s going on?
JOEL SIMON: What’s going on is, you have a country where the government is effectively unable to assert control because violent forces are dominant.
And they are determining, through violence, what the people can and can’t know. They’re killing journalists. They’re suppressing information, and they often operate with the complicity of the police and local authorities.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In a circumstance like that, where you’re talking about basically criminal organizations killing journalists, what can we, as the journalistic community, do to protect people in that environment?
JOEL SIMON: Well, I think, first of all, we have to call on the Mexican government. They have a constitutional obligation to ensure that Mexicans are able to exercise free expression, that the press can operate freely.
And, in fact, we have confirmed a meeting tomorrow with the president of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto. We released a report this week. We met today with journalists in Veracruz, one of the more violent states in the country. And we are going to call on the president to do all within his power to ensure that those responsible for these crimes are brought to justice and not protected and are not able to operate with impunity.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I mean, murdering journalists is obviously one end of a very awful spectrum.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have other nations, nations like Turkey, that are trying to suppress journalism in a very different way.
JOEL SIMON: Yes.
I think, if, in Mexico, the problem is that you have a very weak state that is unable to assert authority and protect the rights of its citizens, in Turkey, you have sort of the opposite problem. You have a state that’s becoming increasingly autocratic, led by a leader who has launched a consolidated crackdown on all of civil society, including the media, following an aborted coup.
But this is a long-term trend in Turkey, the sort of consolidation and strengthening of state power and the suppression of critical voices. And Turkey is actually the world’s leading jailer of journalists. There were 81 journalists in jail when we completed our annual census at the end of last year.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Again, in that circumstance, when you have got a very strong government doing this, is this the role of other Western pro-journalistic governments to put pressure on Turkey to stop this kind of behavior?
JOEL SIMON: Absolutely.
I think a very critical voice is missing, and that’s the United States. That’s — that’s President Trump. And, certainly, the U.S. press freedom record has not been perfect, and certainly they have not exercised this influence as fully as they might, and we have been critical of that.
But we think they have tremendous influence. The U.S. has been a defender of these values, because they represent values that are so deeply essential to our political system.
But President Trump has welcomed to the White House President El-Sisi of Egypt. He said he was doing a fantastic job, when, in fact, he’s jailing journalists, 25 journalists in prison in Egypt. He’s rolled up out the red carpet for President Xi of China, dozens of journalists in jail there. And he has failed confront President Erdogan. In fact, he’s been quite complimentary of Erdogan.
And so this is a key voice on behalf of journalists and press freedom that’s missing right now.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Let’s talk a little bit about President Trump in this country.
I mean, obviously, we still have a very strong, a very free and vibrant press in the United States. But the president, as you well know, constantly is hurling this accusation of fake news.
JOEL SIMON: Yes.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: He’s accused journalists of being enemies of the people.
What do you make of all that rhetoric?
JOEL SIMON: Well, I think — I think there are so many ways to — this has been a big topic of discussion, and there are so many things that I think President Trump is trying to achieve.
One is changing the subject sometimes when there’s an uncomfortable story. One is sort of rallying a base that’s — that’s — that has a very low — low view of the role of the media, and they might be responsive to that kind of criticism.
But I think — but journalists themselves, if you talk to journalists in Washington, they really don’t like this kind of language. They’re threatened by it and are not at all sanguine.
But they’re able to do their job. They’re able to resist this kind of chilling pressure. I think where the damage is most acute is actually in the rest of the world, where autocratic leaders like Erdogan in Turkey, or Sisi in Egypt, feel emboldened by this kind of framing that journalists are enemies, that journalists provide fake news.
I mean, really, that’s not the way the leader of the democratic world talks. That’s the kind of rhetoric you hear from repressive leaders. And so it’s very disturbing.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, do you think in the end that this may be a galvanizing moment for the American press to have — to have this sort of very aggressive attack from the highest office in the land?
JOEL SIMON: Well, it’s galvanizing for the moment, but I don’t think we should declare victory. I think we have to be very cognizant.
You know, it’s a war of words now. And the words, you know, can be resisted. And journalists certainly feel, you know, they have a critical role. They feel there’s more public support.
Ironically, every time the president attacks the media, you see subscriptions rise in the media outlets he’s attacking. He’s also obsessed with the media. So, journalists, bizarrely, ironically, feel that they have more influence in a certain way, because the president is watching or reading everything they say.
So, you know, journalists don’t yet feel chilled by this kind of speech, but I think there’s a real danger that this chilling speech leads to policies, and that those policies have a real impact on the ability of journalists to do their job. And that’s why we need to be vigilant.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Joel Simon, Committee to Protect Journalists, thank you very much.
JOEL SIMON: Thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: This week, we have reported on the civil war in South Sudan and the famine it has partly caused.
Tonight, a brutal, often unseen side of this conflict: an epidemic of rape, used as a weapon of war against South Sudan’s women and girls.
With the partnership of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, here again is special correspondent Jane Ferguson.
And a warning: Parts of this story are disturbing.
JANE FERGUSON: The women gathering in this small building all have one thing in common: a brutal experience that binds them together.
VOICE OF INTERPRETER: When I got off the bus, they grabbed me and took me to a small house by the side of the road. Then, 10 of them raped me.
JANE FERGUSON: Linda, not her real name, was kidnapped, beaten, and raped last year by government soldiers on the streets of South Sudan’s capital, Juba. At this International Rescue Committee support center, she meets with others like her.
Were they wearing uniforms?
VOICE OF INTERPRETER: Yes.
JANE FERGUSON: All of them?
VOICE OF INTERPRETER: Yes.
JANE FERGUSON: Were they carrying weapons?
VOICE OF INTERPRETER: Yes.
At first, they told us they were going to shoot us and kill us, so we were afraid. Then they beat us and raped us.
JANE FERGUSON: She was taken with six other women. Two of them were never seen again. She lives with around 30,000 others in this cramped camp for people fleeing ethnic violence. It’s a huge, fortified slum in Juba where U.N. peacekeeping soldiers provide a little security.
When South Sudan’s civil war broke out in 2013, it quickly became fueled by tribal divisions. President Salva Kiir of the Dinka tribe, pitted against his vice president, Riek Machar, from the Nuer tribe. Dinka government soldiers have been fighting rebels, led mostly by the Nuer tribe, all across the country.
Both sides are accused of taking part in war crimes, one of those crimes, rape. It has become a tool of war here, used with barbaric consistency, a ruthless form of collective punishment against rival tribes.
Gang-raped by soldiers, this young mother of four is now eight months pregnant.
VOICE OF INTERPRETER: This is the result of tribalism. If it wasn’t, then the fight would be between soldier and soldier. But now they do this to women. They are raping women because our husbands are not here. They are rebels away fighting. When they were raping me, they kept calling me a Nuer and a rebel.
JANE FERGUSON: Soon, she will have yet another child to care for, in this desperate poverty.
The International Rescue Committee helps these women, assigning social workers to keep them going long after the physical scars fade. Yet, even here, there is no guarantee of safety.
In a war where sexual violence is so prevalent, camps like this are essential to providing some sort of protection for women. But it’s not really enough. The women here know that, the moment they leave this camp, they’re at risk of being raped.
Last July, fighting broke out in the capital between government troops and rebels, and very little food was making it into the camp. In desperation, mothers were forced to venture out, searching for something to feed their families.
Just a few yards from the camp gates, this woman was grabbed, tied up, and violently assaulted.
VOICE OF INTERPRETER: The children didn’t have anything to eat for four days. So, I decided to go outside and look for food. I at least had a small amount of money to go outside and buy something. I went to the market, but when I was coming back, they grabbed me. They tied my hands with a piece of cloth. Then, they raped me.
JANE FERGUSON: According to women like her, rape here is often committed by gangs of government soldiers.
VOICE OF INTERPRETER: Six of them raped me, and then I lost consciousness. They left me by the road, and some people came and found me and carried me back to the camp.
JANE FERGUSON: It is an astounding fact that most of the women in this camp have been raped, the U.N. says 70 percent, the majority by government soldiers and police. None of the women we spoke to for this story has dared leave the camp since their assault.
WINNIE BYANYIMA, Oxfam International: Women who step out to look for food for their children get assaulted and raped. So, they can’t step out.
They told me that: We long for peace. We want to be able to walk freely and farm and feed our families. But the solution lies in resolving the conflict.
JANE FERGUSON: The rape crisis in South Sudan is one that often gets lost in the other, more visible disasters of famine and civil war tearing this country apart.
Countrywide, it is not known how many have been raped. Women here often bury the burden of their enormous collective suffering silently.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jane Ferguson in Juba, South Sudan.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tomorrow, our focus on South Sudan continues with a look at what life is like for refugees fleeing the violence into neighboring Uganda.