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

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    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says a thorough investigation will confirm what he says is already known: that there was no collusion between his presidential campaign and any foreign entity.

    Trump commented late Wednesday after the Justice Department announced the appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller to oversee the probe into Trump-Russian connection in the 2016 election.

    Trump says In a written statement that he looks forward to “this matter concluding quickly.”

    He also pledges to never stop fighting for the people and issues that are important to the country’s future.

    Trump last week fired James Comey from his post as FBI director, explaining that it was partly because of the Russia investigation.

    READ MORE: Former FBI head Robert Mueller will now oversee Russia investigation, DOJ says

    The post President Trump: ‘No collusion’ between campaign and any foreign entity appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies at a 2011 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

    Former FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies at a 2011 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Former FBI Director Robert Mueller says he accepts the responsibility of being appointed as a special counsel to oversee a federal investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 election.

    In a short statement, Mueller says, “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.”

    His law firm, WilmerHale, says he resigned immediately upon his Wednesday appointment by the Justice Department. Spokespeople declined to comment further.

    The appointment came amid a growing Democratic outcry for someone outside the Justice Department to handle the politically charged investigation.

    It follows the revelation Tuesday that fired FBI Director James Comey wrote in a memo that Trump had asked him to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

    WATCH: What Robert Mueller brings to the Russia probe

    The post Mueller accepts role as special counsel for Russia investigation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate is seen in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 16, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas - RTS12JR1

    U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is seen in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 16, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

    Two weeks ago, on a sparkling spring morning, we went trawling along Florida’s coastal waterway. But not for fish.

    We parked a 17-foot motor boat in a lagoon about 800 feet from the back lawn of The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach and pointed a 2-foot wireless antenna that resembled a potato gun toward the club. Within a minute, we spotted three weakly encrypted Wi-Fi networks. We could have hacked them in less than five minutes, but we refrained.

    A few days later, we drove through the grounds of the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with the same antenna and aimed it at the clubhouse. We identified two open Wi-Fi networks that anyone could join without a password. We resisted the temptation.

    We have also visited two of President Donald Trump’s other family-run retreats, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and a golf club in Sterling, Virginia. Our inspections found weak and open Wi-Fi networks, wireless printers without passwords, servers with outdated and vulnerable software, and unencrypted login pages to back-end databases containing sensitive information.

    The risks posed by the lax security, experts say, go well beyond simple digital snooping. Sophisticated attackers could take advantage of vulnerabilities in the Wi-Fi networks to take over devices like computers or smart phones and use them to record conversations involving anyone on the premises.

    “Those networks all have to be crawling with foreign intruders, not just ProPublica,” said Dave Aitel, chief executive officer of Immunity, Inc., a digital security company, when we told him what we found.

    “Those networks all have to be crawling with foreign intruders, not just ProPublica.”

    Security lapses are not uncommon in the hospitality industry, which — like most industries and government agencies — is under increasing attack from hackers. But they are more worrisome in places where the president of the United States, heads of state and public officials regularly visit.

    U.S. leaders can ill afford such vulnerabilities. As both the U.S. and French presidential campaigns showed, hackers increasingly exploit weaknesses in internet security systems in an effort to influence elections and policy. Last week, cyberattacks using software stolen from the National Security Agency paralyzed operations in at least a dozen countries, from Britain’s National Health Service to Russia’s Interior Ministry.

    Since the election, Trump has hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and British politician Nigel Farage at his properties. The cybersecurity issues we discovered could have allowed those diplomatic discussions — and other sensitive conversations at the properties — to be monitored by hackers.

    The Trump Organization follows “cybersecurity best practices,” said spokeswoman Amanda Miller. “Like virtually every other company these days, we are routinely targeted by cyberterrorists whose only focus is to inflict harm on great American businesses. While we will not comment on specific security measures, we are confident in the steps we have taken to protect our business and safeguard our information. Our teams work diligently to deploy best-in-class firewall and anti-vulnerability platforms with constant 24/7 monitoring.”

    The White House did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

    Trump properties have been hacked before. Last year, the Trump hotel chain paid $50,000 to settle charges brought by the New York attorney general that it had not properly disclosed the loss of more than 70,000 credit card numbers and 302 Social Security numbers. Prosecutors alleged that hotel credit card systems were “the target of a cyber-attack” due to poor security. The company agreed to beef up its security; it’s not clear if the vulnerabilities we found violate that agreement. A spokesman for the New York attorney general declined comment.

    Our experience also indicates that it’s easy to gain physical access to Trump properties, at least when the president is not there. As Politico has previously reported, Trump hotels and clubs are poorly guarded. We drove a car past the front of Mar-a-Lago and parked a boat near its lawn. We drove through the grounds of the Bedminster golf course and into the parking lot of the golf course in Sterling, Virginia. No one questioned us.

    The antenna used to detect networks on Trump properties. Photo by Surya Mattu/ProPublica

    The antenna used to detect networks on Trump properties. Photo by Surya Mattu/ProPublica

    Both President Obama and President Bush often vacationed at the more traditional presidential retreat, the military-run Camp David. The computers and networks there and at the White House are run by the Defense Information Systems Agency.

    In 2016, the military spent $64 million on maintaining the networks at the White House and Camp David, and more than $2 million on “defense solutions, personnel, techniques, and best practices to defend, detect, and mitigate cyber-based threats” from hacking those networks.

    Even after spending millions of dollars on security, the White House admitted in 2015 that it was hacked by Russians. After the hack, the White House replaced all its computer systems, according to a person familiar with the matter. All staffers who work at the White House are told that “there are people who are actively watching what you are doing,” said Mikey Dickerson, who ran the U.S. Digital Service in the Obama administration.

    By comparison, Mar-a-Lago budgeted $442,931 for security in 2016 — slightly more than double the $200,000 initiation fee for one new member. The Trump Organization declined to say how much Mar-a-Lago spends specifically on digital security. The club, last reported to have almost 500 members paying annual dues of $14,000 apiece, allotted $1,703,163 for all administration last year, according to documents filed in a lawsuit Trump brought against Palm Beach County in an effort to halt commercial flights from flying over Mar-a-Lago. The lawsuit was dropped, but the FAA now restricts flights over the club when the president is there.

    It is not clear whether Trump connects to the insecure networks while at his family’s properties. When he travels, the president is provided with portable secure communications equipment. Trump tracked the military strike on a Syrian air base last month from a closed-door situation room at Mar-a-Lago with secure video equipment.

    READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the ‘WannaCrypt’ ransomware attack

    However, Trump has held sensitive meetings in public spaces at his properties. Most famously, in February, he and the Japanese prime minister discussed a North Korean missile test on the Mar-a-Lago patio. Over the course of that weekend in February, the president’s Twitter account posted 21 tweets from an Android phone. An analysis by an Android-focused website showed that Trump had used the same make of phone since 2015. That phone is an older model that isn’t approved by the NSA for classified use.

    Photos of Trump and Abe taken by diners on that occasion prompted four Democratic senators to ask the Government Accountability Office to investigate whether electronic communications were secure at Mar-a-Lago.

    In March, the GAO agreed to open an investigation. Chuck Young, a spokesman for the office, said in an interview that the work was in “the early stages,” and did not offer an estimate for when the report would be completed.

    So, we decided to test the cybersecurity of Trump’s favorite hangouts ourselves.

    Our first stop was Mar-a-Lago, a Trump country club in Palm Beach, Florida, where the president has spent most weekends since taking office. Driving past the club, we picked up the signal for a Wi-Fi-enabled combination printer and scanner that has been accessible since at least February 2016, according to a public Wi-Fi database.

    An open printer may sound innocuous, but it can be used by hackers for everything from capturing all the documents sent to the device to trying to infiltrate the entire network.

    An open printer may sound innocuous, but it can be used by hackers for everything from capturing all the documents sent to the device to trying to infiltrate the entire network.

    To prevent such attacks, the Defense Information Systems Agency, which secures the White House and other military networks, forbids installing printers that anyone can connect to from outside networks. It also warns against using printers that do more than printing, such as faxing. “If an attacker gains network access to one of these devices, a wide range of exploits may be possible,” the agency warns in its security guide.

    We also were able to detect a misconfigured and unencrypted router, which could potentially provide a gateway for hackers.

    To get a better line of sight, we rented a boat and piloted it to within sight of the club. There, we picked up signals from the club’s wireless networks, three of which were protected with a weak and outmoded form of encryption known as WEP. In 2005, an FBI agent publicly broke this type of encryption in minutes.

    By comparison, the military limits the signal strength of networks at places such as Camp David and the White House so that they are not reachable from a car driving by. It also requires wireless networks to use the strongest available form of encryption.

    From our desks in New York, we were also able to determine that the club’s website hosts a database with an insecure login page that is not protected by standard internet encryption. Login forms like this are considered a severe security risk, according to the Defense Information Systems Agency.

    Without encryption, spies could eavesdrop on the network until a club employee logs in, and then steal his or her username and password. They then could download a database that appears to include sensitive information on the club’s members and their families, according to videos posted by the club’s software provider.

    This is “bad, very bad,” said Jeremiah Grossman, chief of Security Strategy for cybersecurity firm SentinelOne, when we described Mar-a-Lago’s systems. “I’d assume the data is already stolen and systems compromised.”

    A few days later, we took our equipment to another Trump club in Bedminster, New Jersey. During the transition, Trump had interviewed candidates for top administration positions there, including James Mattis, now secretary of defense.

    Surya Mattu identifies Mar-a-Lago’s Wi-Fi networks (Jeff Larson/ProPublica)

    Surya Mattu identifies Mar-a-Lago’s Wi-Fi networks. Photo by Jeff Larson/ProPublica

    We drove on a dirt access road through the middle of the golf course and spotted two open Wi-Fi networks, TrumpMembers and WelcomeToTrumpNationalGolfClub, that did not require a password to join.

    Such open networks allow anyone within range to scoop up all unencrypted internet activity taking place there, which could, on insecure sites, include usernames, passwords and emails.

    Robert Graham, an Atlanta, Georgia, cybersecurity expert, said that hackers could use the open Wi-Fi to remotely turn on the microphones and cameras of devices connected to the network. “What you’re describing is typical hotel security,” he said, but “it’s pretty concerning” that an attacker could listen to sensitive national security conversations.

    Two days after we visited the Bedminster club, Trump arrived for a weekend stay.

    Then we visited the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., where Trump often dines with his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, whose responsibilities range from Middle East diplomacy to revamping the federal bureaucracy. We surveyed the networks from a Starbucks in the hotel basement.

    From there, we could tell there were two Wi-Fi networks at the hotel protected with what’s known as a captive portal. These login screens are often used at airports and hotels to ensure that only paying customers can access the network.

    However, we gained access to both networks just by typing “457” into the room number field. Because we provided a room number, the system assumed we were guests. We looked up the hotel’s public IP address before logging off.

    From our desks in New York, we could also tell that the hotel is using a server that is accessible from the public internet. This server is running software that was released almost 13 years ago.

    From our desks in New York, we could also tell that the hotel is using a server that is accessible from the public internet. This server is running software that was released almost 13 years ago.

    Finally, we visited the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, where the president sometimes plays golf. From the parking lot, we recognized three encrypted wireless networks, an encrypted wireless phone and two printers with open Wi-Fi access.

    The Trump club websites are hosted by an Ohio-based company called Clubessential. It offers everything from back-office management and member communications to tee time and room reservations.

    In a 2014 presentation, a company sales director warned that the club industry as a whole is “too lax” in managing and protecting passwords. There has been a “rising number of attacks on club websites over the last two years,” according to the presentation. Clubessential “performed [an] audit of security in the club industry” and “found thousands of sensitive documents from clubs exposed on [the] Internet,” such as “lists of members and staff, and their contact info; board minutes, financial statements, etc.”

    Still, the club software company has set up a backend server accessible on the internet, and configured its encryption incorrectly. Anyone who reaches the login page is greeted with a warning that the encryption is broken. In its documentation, the company advises club administrators to ignore these warnings and log in regardless. That means that anybody snooping on the unprotected connection could intercept the administrators’ passwords and gain access to the entire system.

    The company also publishes online, without a password, many of the default settings and usernames for its software — essentially providing a roadmap for intruders.

    Clubessential declined comment.

    Aitel, the CEO of Immunity, said the problems at Trump properties would be difficult to fix: “Once you are at a low level of security it is hard to develop a secure network system. You basically have to start over.”

    The post ProPublica finds lax internet security at four of Trump’s resorts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photos by Reuters.

    Clockwise from top left: Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s acting director, and Richard McFeely, a former top FBI official. Photos by Reuters.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday interviewed four potential candidates to lead the FBI, including former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating and Andrew McCabe, currently the bureau’s acting director.

    Trump also met with Richard McFeely, a former top FBI official. Attorney General Jeff Sessions participated in the interviews.

    The meetings came more than a week after Trump fired James Comey from his post as FBI director.

    Trump said Monday that the search for a successor to Comey was “moving rapidly.” He also has said he could name a candidate by the end of the week, before he departs Friday afternoon on his first overseas trip as president. The Senate must confirm whoever Trump nominates.

    Press Secretary Sean Spicer informed reporters about the meetings as Trump flew to Washington after addressing U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduates in Connecticut.

    Asked as he left the White House whether he would say ‘yes’ if Trump offered him the job, Keating said, “I’m a public servant.” He added, “Let’s just say we had a good conversation.”

    Lieberman gave a thumbs-up to reporters camped out on the White House driveway and said “It was a good meeting.”

    McFeely departed without comment. Reporters did not see McCabe when he left the complex.

    Lieberman served in the Senate for more than two decades and was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2000 with then-Vice President Al Gore. Lieberman lost his 2006 Democratic primary bid but won Senate re-election as a third party candidate.

    READ MORE: Mueller accepts role as special counsel for Russia investigation

    Lieberman spoke at the 2008 Republican National Convention on behalf of his friend, Arizona Sen. John McCain, and did not seek re-election in 2012. He has served as co-chairman of No Labels, a centrist group that promotes bipartisanship.

    Keating, a Republican, was a two-term governor of Oklahoma and led the state during the deadly 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City. A former FBI agent, Keating served in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

    President Trump: ‘No collusion’ between campaign and any foreign entity

    McCabe became acting director following Comey’s dismissal on May 9. The veteran FBI official made headlines for congressional testimony last week that rejected the White House’s claim that Comey had lost the support of rank-and-file agents. He also disputed the administration’s characterization of an investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump White House.

    Several other candidates have withdrawn from consideration, including Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, both Republicans; Alice Fisher, the former head of the Justice Department’s criminal division; and Michael Garcia, a former U.S. attorney from Manhattan.

    Associated Press reporter Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

    The post Here are the 4 candidates Trump interviewed for FBI director appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Left: Businessman/politcal activist David Koch attends the 2014 Wildlife Conservation Society Gala at Central Park Zoo on June 12, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

    Brothers David Koch, left, and Charles Koch.

    NEW YORK — The Koch Brothers’ political network is preparing to spend millions of dollars to ensure their vision for tax reform isn’t lost in the increasing chaos consuming President Donald Trump’s administration.

    The network’s leading organizations, Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners, on Thursday released a set of general preferences for major changes to the tax code. While explicitly stating their opposition to new border-adjustment or value-added taxes, there were few specifics in a document that was designed to inject a new sense of urgency into the stalled tax debate.

    “Now is the time. We’ve got to unite around these principles,” network spokesman James Davis said. “The White House hopefully will see this as a jolt to support them in driving this forward.”

    Beyond Thursday’s release, Davis said the network backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch is launching a multimillion-dollar campaign through the summer to ensure their conservative tax plan is not forgotten. The campaign will include digital ads and town hall meetings across the country, along with phone banks and direct mail.

    The Koch push reflects broader concerns from the nation’s business community that Trump’s promise to overhaul the tax code may fall victim to his mounting political challenges. The stock market on Wednesday suffered its largest single-day loss of the Trump presidency. That was before the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to investigate allegations that Trump’s campaign collaborated with Russia to sway the 2016 election.

    Late last month, Trump released a one-page proposal that included massive tax cuts for businesses and a bigger standard tax deduction for middle-income families, lower investment taxes for the wealthy and an end to the federal estate tax for the superrich. It’s largely in line with the Koch network’s preference, which calls for lower rates, fewer brackets and the elimination of “special loopholes” and deductions.

    There were modest signs Wednesday that the Trump administration was trying to spark new momentum for its tax plan.

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other administration officials met with Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee in what Democrats described afterward as an opening conversation in the tax debate.

    Even under the best of political circumstances, tax reform is difficult. Congress hasn’t overhauled the tax code in more than three decades.

    “If we don’t start making the case to the American people and showing them how this improves their lives now, it becomes increasingly more and more difficult, particularly as we move closer to the election,” Davis said.

    The post Kochs unveil campaign to ‘jolt’ stalled tax debate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn arrives at a news conference Feb. 13 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn arrives at a news conference Feb. 13 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Senate intelligence committee says his panel has not received a response from Michael Flynn’s lawyer — correcting his earlier statement that Flynn would not comply with a subpoena.

    Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina says ousted National Security Adviser Flynn’s attorneys “have not yet indicated their intentions regarding the Senate Intelligence Committee’s subpoena” as part of the panel’s probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

    Burr says he would welcome Flynn’s willingness to cooperate. Hours earlier, Burr said Flynn’s lawyer said he wouldn’t comply, “and that is not a surprise to the committee. We’ll figure out on General Flynn what the next step, if any, is.”

    The post Michael Flynn has not responded to subpoena request, Senate chairman says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photos by Jonathan Ernst and Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Photos by Jonathan Ernst and Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    The House intelligence committee is asking for more government documents — this time about the ouster of FBI Director Jim Comey and conversations he had with President Donald Trump about investigations into Russian meddling in the election.

    The committee said Thursday it sent a letter requesting material from the FBI and Justice Department related to its ongoing counterintelligence investigation.

    Texas Republican Mike Conaway and California Democrat Adam Schiff say they will continue to work with the FBI as the investigation moves forward.

    The post House panel seeking documents about Comey ouster appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    First responders are at the scene as people help injured pedestrians after a vehicle struck pedestrians on a sidewalk in Times Square in New York, U.S., May 18, 2017.  REUTERS/Jeremy Schultz - RTX36FU8

    First responders are at the scene as people help injured pedestrians after a vehicle struck pedestrians on a sidewalk in Times Square in New York, U.S., May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jeremy Schultz

    At least one person was killed and 23 people are injured after a car struck and injured several pedestrians in Times Square in New York City Thursday, the Associated Press has reported.

    Law enforcement do not suspect this was an act of terrorism and were testing to determine if the car’s driver had consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel, AP reported.

    The red sedan overturned, resting on steel barricades designed to protect pedestrians and block vehicular traffic. The front end of the car appeared severely damaged in photos posted on social media after the event happened.

    The New York City Police Department confirmed on Twitter that the vehicle collided with pedestrians shortly after noon.

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

    Alex Rodriguez, who works at a street stand selling T-shirts and hats to tourists on the corner of 46th and Broadway, said he heard a “boom” around 12 p.m. coming from Times Square.

    “Then I saw smoke, I saw the car,” he said. “I saw a lot of people running back.”

    Rodriguez said police officers and firemen quickly descended on the scene, with some members of the New York Fire Department leaving their emergency vehicles that had been stuck in traffic and running toward the Times Square.

    Greg Oppenheim, a comedy show promoter and a certified paramedic who recently moved back to New York City from Florida, was standing near Times Square “in the middle of a pitch” to a potential client but didn’t immediately notice the apparent car accident “with all the bangs that go on in Times Square,” until he saw a commotion near the crash. Oppenheim’s first thought was that it was a bomb.

    “It makes you think somebody made an attack,” he said.

    He “saw a couple of people crying” who had witnessed the aftermath of the accident that killed one person and injured 23 others, but noted many more people moved closer to the scene, apparently to get a closer look.

    “The car was on fire, the engine was on fire,” Oppenheim said, also noting that rescue workers quickly pulled the hood off the vehicle to extinguish the blaze.

    First responders are assisting injured pedestrians after a vehicle struck pedestrians on a sidewalk in Times Square in New York, U.S., May 18, 2017.  REUTERS/Jeremy Schultz - RTX36FSO

    First responders are assisting injured pedestrians after a vehicle struck pedestrians on a sidewalk in Times Square in New York, U.S., May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jeremy Schultz

    The post At least 1 person killed after car hits and injures pedestrians in New York City’s Times Square appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) listens to testimony from computer technician Justin Cooper (NOT SHOWN) during a committee hearing about the private email server of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, used during her tenure as Secretary of State, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTSNLIQ

    House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) listens to testimony from computer technician Justin Cooper (NOT SHOWN) during a committee hearing about the private email server of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, used during her tenure as Secretary of State, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst – RTSNLIQ

    SALT LAKE CITY — A top Utah state lawmaker says that U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz is expected to leave office by the end of June.

    Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes said Wednesday in a caucus meeting that the Republican Chaffetz is expected to announce his resignation soon and that it would take effect by June 30.

    Chaffetz representatives on Thursday did not return telephone and email messages seeking comment.

    Chaffetz said last month that he would not seek re-election in 2018 and that he was considering leaving office early.

    Hughes’ chief of staff Greg Hartley said in a text Thursday that Hughes “has heard that he (Chaffetz) could be out of office as soon as the end of June. He doesn’t know for certain.”

    The post Jason Chaffetz could leave Congress by June 30, fellow Utah lawmaker says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Chris Cornell, frontman of Soundgarden and Audioslave and a pioneer of grunge, died suddenly Wednesday at age 52 after performing a sold-out show at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. The Associated Press reports that he died by suicide.

    What Cornell meant to grunge, and to the Seattle sound, cannot be understated. Soundgarden defined the genre, while Cornell’s bluesy wail, spanning four octaves, defied boundaries. In 1988, a time when grunge acts Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains were just starting out, Soundgarden became the first grunge band to sign with a major label.

    Cornell said he knew they were “on to something” when, in the mid 1980s, Soundgarden was playing a show in Vancouver, British Columbia, and an audience member threw a glass ashtray at his face.

    “I remember thinking right at that moment, ‘Ah, we know something they don’t. We’re on to something and they don’t get it yet ’cause they’re afraid of it,’” he told the Observer. “I remember loading the van and everyone was really down and I was giving this huge pep talk, because I understood that this weird combination of what we were doing was ‘the way.’ And now it has a name to it.”

    Grunge was different because, for the first time, it mixed punk and metal, relying on distorted guitar and powerful riffs. And its lyrics of social alienation perfectly reflected that sound. Cornell, whom the BBC said grew up as “a loner, afflicted by agoraphobia and anxiety,” knew a little something about that.

    Perhaps his most famous song, “Black Hole Sun,” released in 1994, had a pretty melody but dark lyrics: “Black hole sun / Won’t you come / And wash away the rain … Times are gone for honest men / And sometimes far too long for snakes.”

    Cornell, a master songwriter, has said he wrote the song in about 15 minutes. He was amazed that it became a major hit — and also that people misinterpreted it as a happy song. Instead, he said, it was about how “it’s really difficult for a person to create their own life and their own freedom.”

    After leaving Soundgarden in 1997, Cornell embarked on a solo career and later joined Audioslave, a rock supergroup that also involved three members of Rage Against the Machine. Over the years, Cornell collaborated with numerous other rock artists and groups, including “Temple of the Dog,” an early project that also drew in Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.

    Throughout all of these, Cornell struggled with addiction, though he said he never wrote music while under the influence. In 2006, after going through rehab and releasing several albums with Audioslave — whose members discouraged his drug use — he went clean. In later years, he and his wife set up the Chris & Vicky Cornell Foundation, which helps vulnerable children impacted by drugs, poverty and neglect.

    Though Cornell rejoined Soundgarden in 2010, his most recent album was a solo record released in 2015, called “Higher Truth.” He performed the album stripped down, not at all in the style of his bands’ volcanic power; he said in interviews that he continuously tried to push himself to do something different.

    That same year, he also performed a cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which showed off the way his vocals could stretch; it topped charts the Thursday morning after his death.

    According to CNN, the last song Cornell played at his show Wednesday night was a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying.”

    “In my time of dying, I want nobody to mourn,” the song goes. “All I want for you to do is take my body home.”

    Tributes have already come in from major names in rock, punk and grunge:

    The post The moment Chris Cornell, frontman of Soundgarden and Audioslave, understood what grunge meant appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Love.  Rear view of a multiracial couple holding hand. Photo by Adobe Stock Images.

    Love. Rear view of a multiracial couple holding hand. Photo by Adobe Stock Images.

    WASHINGTON — A new study says that 1 in 6 people who married in 2015 wed someone of a difference race or ethnicity, the highest proportion in American history.

    The figures released Thursday come from a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

    Overall, 1 in 10 people — or 11 million — in the United States have spouses of a different race or ethnicity.

    Pew researchers note that 50 years ago, only 3 percent of the people in the country were intermarried — that is, had spouses of a different race or ethnicity. That was in 1967 when the Supreme Court ruled interracial and interethnic marriage was legal throughout the United States

    Before then, marriages between people of different races and ethnicities were illegal in many states.

    The post 1 in 6 newlywed spouses are of different race or ethnicity appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

    It’s widely believed that older age is darkened by persistent loneliness. But a considerable body of research confirms this isn’t the case.

    In fact, loneliness is the exception rather than the rule in later life. And when it occurs, it can be alleviated: It’s a mutable psychological state.

    Only 30 percent of older adults feel lonely fairly frequently, according to data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, the most definitive study of seniors’ social circumstances and their health in the U.S.

    The remaining 70 percent have enough fulfilling interactions with other people to meet their fundamental social and emotional needs

    “If anything, the intensity of loneliness decreases from young adulthood through middle age and doesn’t become intense again until the oldest old age,” said Louise Hawkley, an internationally recognized authority on the topic and senior research scientist at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago.

    Understanding the extent of loneliness is important, insofar as this condition has been linked to elevated stress, impaired immune system function, inflammation, high blood pressure, depression, cognitive dysfunction and an earlier-than-expected death in older adults.

    A new study, co-authored by Hawkley, highlights another underappreciated feature of this affliction: Loneliness is often transient, not permanent.

    That study examined more than 2,200 Americans ages 57 to 85 in 2005 and again in 2010. Of the group who reported being lonely in 2005 (just under one-third of the sample), 40 percent had recovered from that state five years later while 60 percent were still lonely.

    What helped older adults who had been lonely recover? Two factors: spending time with other people and eliminating discord and disturbances in family relationships.

    Hawkley explains the result by noting that loneliness is a signal that an essential need — a desire for belonging — isn’t being met. Like hunger or thirst, it motivates people to act, and it’s likely that seniors reached out to the people they were closest to more often.

    Her study also looked at protective factors that kept seniors from becoming lonely. What made a difference? Lots of support from family members and fewer physical problems that interfere with an individual’s independence and ability to get out and about.

    What helped older adults who had been lonely recover? Two factors: spending time with other people and eliminating discord and disturbances in family relationships.

    To alleviate loneliness, one must first recognize the perceptions underlying the emotion, Hawkley and other experts said.

    The fundamental perception is one of inadequacy. People who are lonely tend to feel that others aren’t meeting their expectations and that something essential is missing. And there’s usually a significant gap between the relationships these people want and those they actually have.

    This isn’t the same as social isolation — a lack of contact with other people — although the two can be linked. People can be “lonely in a marriage” that’s characterized by conflict or “lonely in a crowd” when they’re surrounded by other people with whom they can’t connect.

    Interventions to address loneliness have received heightened attention since 2011, when the Campaign to End Loneliness launched in Britain.

    Here are two essential ways to mitigate this distressing sentiment:

    Alter perceptions. Loneliness perpetuates itself through a gloomy feedback cycle. We think people don’t like us, so we convey negativity in their presence, which causes them to withdraw from us, which reinforces our perception that we’re not valued.

    Changing the perceptions that underlie this cycle is the most effective way to relieve loneliness, according to a comprehensive evaluation of loneliness interventions published in 2011.

    Heidi Grant, associate director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia University, described this dynamic in an article published in 2010. “If co-worker Bob seems more quiet and distant than usual lately, a lonely person is likely to assume that he’s done something to offend Bob, or that Bob is intentionally giving him the cold shoulder,” she wrote.

    With help, people can learn to examine the assumptions underlying their thoughts and ask questions such as “Am I sure Bob doesn’t like me? Could there be other, more likely reasons for his quiet, reserved behavior at work?”

    This kind of “cognitive restructuring” is an essential component of LISTEN, a promising intervention to treat loneliness developed by Laurie Theeke, an associate professor in the school of nursing at West Virginia University. In five two-hour sessions, small groups of lonely people probe their expectations of relationships, their needs, their thought patterns and their behaviors while telling their stories and listening to others.

    Joining a group can be effective if there’s an educational component and people are actively engaged, experts said.

    Invest in relationships. With loneliness, it’s not the quantity of relationships that counts most. It’s the quality.

    If you’re married, your relationship with your spouse is critically important in sustaining a feeling of belonging and preventing loneliness, Hawkley said.

    If you haven’t been getting along, it’s time to try to turn things around. Remember when you felt most connected to your spouse? How did that feel? Can you emphasize the positive and minimize the negative? If you’re badly stuck, seek professional help.

    Investing in relationships with family members and friends is similarly important. This is the time to move beyond old grievances.

    Invest in relationships. With loneliness, it’s not the quantity of relationships that counts most. It’s the quality.

    “If you want to recover from loneliness, try to deal with difficulties that are disrupting relationships,” Hawkley said.

    Also, it’s a good idea to diversify your relationships so you’re not depending exclusively on a few people, according to Jenny de Jong Gierveld and Tineke Fokkema, loneliness researchers from the Netherlands.

    Training in social skills can help lonely people deal with problems such as not knowing how to renew contact with an old friend or initiate conversation with a distant relative. And learning coping strategies can enlarge their arsenal of adaptive responses.

    Both of these strategies are part of a six-week “friendship enrichment program” developed in the Netherlands. The goal is to help people become aware of their social needs, reflect on their expectations, analyze and improve the quality of existing relationships and develop new friendships.

    One simple strategy can make a difference. “If you have good news, share it,” Hawkley said, “because that tends to bring people closer together.”

    KHN’s coverage related to aging & improving care of older adults is supported by The John A. Hartford Foundation.

    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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    President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a joint news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the White House on Thursday.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has welcomed the president of Colombia to the White House for their first official meeting.

    President Juan Manuel Santos is seeking Trump’s support for a peace accord Colombia signed last year with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The rebel group agreed to turn over 30 percent of its arsenal of assault rifles, machine guns and explosives.

    During Thursday’s meeting, Trump will likely seek Colombia’s help pressuring Nicolas Maduro, president of neighboring Venezuela, which is being roiled by almost daily protests that have shaken Maduro’s grip on power.

    The Trump administration has warned it might impose more sanctions on Venezuelan officials.

    Trump may also seek Colombia’s help stemming the flow of drugs into the U.S. from Latin America.

    WATCH: Colombia’s president: I’m ‘trying to unite the country’ after rejected peace vote

    This story will be updated.

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    View from Frutillar, southern Chile, showing volcanic lightnings and lava spewed from the Calbuco volcano on April 23, 2015. Photo by Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images

    View from Frutillar, southern Chile, showing volcanic lightnings and lava spewed from the Calbuco volcano on April 23, 2015. Photo by Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images

    Studying volcanic eruptions in person can be dangerous, and scientists have died trying. Volcanic lightning — yes, volcanoes make lightning! — by contrast offers a safer opportunity to examine what happens inside a volcano. But these bright bolts still occur in vicious environments, plus the thick, dense plumes of ash can obscure lightning strikes.

    Now, scientists have developed a way to analyze volcanic lightning that is cost effective, relatively simple and safe. Rather than get near volcanic lightning or use expensive equipment, researchers at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany gain clues through a byproduct of the lightning: glass.

    Volcanic lightning occurs during an eruption, when hot ash particles rise into the air and rub against each other. The heat and friction create a differential in electric charge that sparks a strike.

    The lightning zaps in and out of the thick plumes of rising ash, making the ash so hot it sometimes turns into liquid. If the ash particles are heated sufficiently and given enough time to cool, they can morph into tiny glass spheres — no bigger than a dot from a pen tip. The glass particles then fall back to the ground and gather in large deposits.

    “If the lightning event is too short, then the particle won’t melt in the first place,” said Fabian Wadsworth, a University of Munich volcanologist who led the study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. But if the heat diffuses into the particle and melts it, then two things happen. With enough time, the melting ash will round into a complete sphere thanks to surface tension. Or if the particle cools at a faster rate than the rounding, the final glass will remain jagged and angular.

    Fabian Wadsworth and his team used computer simulations to develop a mathematical model that can predict what eruption conditions were necessary to create the various glass spheres.

    A scanning electron microscope image of volcanic ash/glass deposit. Arrows point to the rounded glass balls -- the ones that have been melted completely by heat. Photo by Wadsworth FB et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 2017

    A scanning electron microscope image of volcanic ash/glass deposit. Arrows point to the rounded glass balls — the ones that have been melted completely by heat. Photo by Wadsworth FB et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 2017

    The researchers’ model allows them to work backward. By noting a glass particle’s shape, they can determine, the specific lightning conditions of any given eruption. Volcanic lightning strikes vary in temperature and duration. So as a result, the glass particles differ as well.

    “The number of lightning events — and how long they last — seems to be somehow related to the distribution of sizes of particles in the plume,” Wadsworth said. “In turn, the distribution sizes of particles in the plume is related directly to how explosive the eruption was that produced them.”

    So simulating the conditions under which these glass particles form provides a better understanding of how the volcano erupted.

    Volcanic lightning gains steam

    “For a long time it was anecdotal, so it’s been interesting to watch that transition develop,” said Stephen McNutt, a volcanologist at the University of South Florida who was not involved in the study. “Now you go to see talks at scientific meetings about volcanoes, and they’re starting to more routinely report lightning.”

    In the past, scientists relied on instruments called Lightning Mapping Arrays (LMAs) that detect radio frequencies to resolve the electrical signals from lightning strikes. LMAs, combined with other instruments, allow scientists to create a 3D map of volcanic lightning with an accuracy of within 10 meters, McNutt said. But this technique is expensive and still doesn’t provide all the answers, such as the lightning temperatures.

    This view from Puerto Varas, southern Chile, shows a high column of ash and lava spewing from the Calbuco volcano, on April 23, 2015. Photo by David Cortes Serey/AFP/Getty Images

    Wadsworth and his team demonstrated that, using mathematical tools, researchers can back track from big scale natural observations — volcanic lightning — to decipher detailed parts of the complicated eruption process. Photo by David Cortes Serey/AFP/Getty Images

    Wadsworth and his team demonstrated that, using mathematical tools, researchers can back track from big scale natural observations — lightning — to decipher detailed parts of the complicated eruption process. The seemingly small, inconsequential aftermath from the eruptions — glass particles — are akin to a new diagnostic test in a doctor’s office that can clear up portions of the bigger picture.

    Plus, this work feeds directly into hazard mitigation for volcanic eruptions. When volcanic ash mixes with rainfall, it creates sludge that can collapse roofs. The traveling ash cloud can cause respiratory problems, damage machinery and stymie renewable energy generation by blocking solar panels. Wadsworth and his team have begun to test if and how well ash particles melted by lightning stick to jet engine surfaces. Knowing this information could guide planes around erupting volcanoes.

    The ability to quickly analyze plume conditions, for less cost, will help scientists to foresee potential dangers in the aftermath of an eruption.

    “Getting information quickly about the plume conditions helps us predict where plumes will go in certain wind conditions, which obviously helps us prepare for ash arriving in certain parts of the world,” Wadsworth said.

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    U.S. President Donald Trump listens to questions from the media as he meets with Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos (not pictured) in the Oval Office in Washington, DC, U.S., May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin

    President Donald Trump listens to questions from the media as he meets with Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos in the Oval Office on May 18, 2017. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

    President Donald Trump continued to criticize a decision by the Justice Department to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel in the agency’s investigation into Russia on Thursday, saying “it hurts this country terribly.”

    The remarks, delivered during a luncheon with television news anchors, including PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, came the day after Mueller was chosen to take over the investigation, which examines Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections as well as possible ties to Trump’s campaign.

    Former FBI Director James Comey, who had previously led the investigation, was fired by Trump on May 9.

    READ MORE: President Trump calls appointment of special counsel a ‘witch hunt’

    “I think this shows a very divided country,” Trump said at the luncheon. “It also happens to be a pure excuse for the Democrats having lost an election that they should have easily won because of the Electoral College being slanted so much in their way.  That’s all this is.  I think it shows division, and it shows that we’re not together as a country.  And I think it’s a very, very negative thing.  And hopefully, this can go quickly, because we have to show unity if we’re going to do great things with respect to the rest of the world.”

    In a series of tweets earlier Thursday morning, Trump called the appointment of a special counsel ‘the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!’

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

    The remarks come as Trump prepares to leave Friday for his first foreign trip as president: a nine-day tour that will take him through five cities.

    Meanwhile, at home, other investigations into Russia will move forward. The House Intelligence Committee asked Thursday for more documents related to Comey’s firing.

    Trump told the reporters at Thursday’s luncheon that “we are very, very close to announcing” a new FBI director. On Wednesday, the president reportedly interviewed four candidates for Comey’s former position at the White House.

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    A girl plays with a fidget spinner toy in London, Britain, May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Tom Jacobs - RTX367K1

    Photo by Tom Jacobs/REUTERS

    The fidget spinner craze has been sweeping elementary and middle schools. As of May 17 every one of the top 10 best-selling toys on Amazon was a form of the hand-held toy people can spin and do tricks with. Kids and parents are even making them for themselves using 3D printers and other more homespun crafting techniques.

    But some teachers are banning them from classrooms. And experts challenge the idea that spinners are good for conditions like ADHD and anxiety. Meanwhile, the Kickstarter online fundraising campaign for the Fidget Cube – another popular fidget toy in 2017 – raised an astounding US$6.4 million, and can be seen on the desks of hipsters and techies across the globe.

    My research group has taken a deep look at how people use fidget items over the last several years. What we found tells us that these items are not a fad that will soon disappear. Despite sometimes being an annoying distraction for others, fidget items can have some practical uses for adults; our inquiry into their usefulness for children is underway.

    Understanding fidgeting
    Fidgeting didn’t start with the spinner craze. If you’ve ever clicked a ballpoint pen again and again, you’ve used a fidget item. As part of our work, we’ve asked people what items they like to fidget with and how and when they use them. (We’re compiling their answers online and welcome additional contributions.)

    Another common thread involves people using some fidget objects – like a favorite smooth stone – to calm themselves down, helping them achieve a more relaxed, contemplative, even mindful state. One thing people often report is that fidgeting with an object in the hand helps them to stay focused when doing a long task or sitting still and attentive in a long meeting. Many examples people have told us about are ready-to-hand objects like paper clips, USB thumb drives, headphone earbuds and sticky tape. But people also buy specialized items like a fidget spinner or a Fidget Cube for this purpose.

    Fine-tuning for focus

    The optimal level of stimulation (or lack thereof) not only varies among people, but even can change for one person throughout the day depending upon what he or she is trying to do.

    Psychology research about sensation seeking tells us that people often seek to adjust their experiences and their environments so that they provide just the right level of stimulation. Different people function well under different circumstances. Some people like total quiet to help them focus, while others are happiest working in a busy, noisy environment.

    The optimal level of stimulation (or lack thereof) not only varies among people but even can change for one person throughout the day depending upon what he or she is trying to do. So people fine-tune their environments to get things just right: for example, putting on headphones in a noisy office environment to substitute less distracting noise.

    A person who can’t get up and walk around to wake up a bit, or go have a nice cup of tea to calm down, may find it helpful to use a fidget item to get in the right frame of mind to stay focused and calm while staying put.

    A girl plays with a fidget spinner toy in London, Britain, May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Tom Jacobs - RTX367K3

    Photo by Tom Jacobs/REUTERS

    What researchers say

    Our results align with anecdotal accounts about fidget toys helping children with attention or anxiety issues to stay focused and calm in the classroom. In fact, fidget toys have been available for kids for quite some time.

    There hasn’t yet been a definitive study of the impact of these toys in the research world. In one preliminary study looking at stress ball use, sixth graders who used these fidget toys during instruction independently reported that their “attitude, attention, writing abilities, and peer interaction improved.”

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    The closest significant research is UC Davis behavioral science professor Julie Schweitzer’s study of letting children with ADHD fidget – wriggling, bouncing or otherwise moving gently in place – while they worked on a lab-based concentration task called the “flanker paradigm.” She found that more overall movement (measured using an accelerometer on the ankle) in children with ADHD did help them perform this cognitively demanding task.

    Of course, it’s a big step from that finding to a claim that fidgeting with small objects in the hand can work, too. However, therapists tend to focus more on results than theoretical findings. They use what gets results and throw out what doesn’t, so practical experience suggests these toys may help kids.

    Avoiding distraction

    And yet, schools are banning the spinners and teachers are taking them away. The reason is that not all fidget items are created equal.

    The items that therapists recommend are primarily tactile – a user holds it in a hand and can manipulate it without looking. But fidget spinners require hand-eye coordination.

    The basics of using a fidget spinner.

    To use a fidget spinner, a person holds the center of the spinner with thumb and finger, and then uses the other hand (or other fingers on the same hand) to get the spinner rotating. Once it’s spinning, there are tricks to be explored, like balancing the rotating spinner on a thumb.

    Balancing a moving object really requires keeping an eye on it, and doing tricks is a lot of what makes the spinners fun. It’s also what draws the eyes of the user away from the teacher, and likely also the eyes of nearby students. This is the bane of a teacher trying to keep a classroom focused.

    By contrast, putty, stress balls and other therapeutic fidget items don’t have this visual attention problem. They can serve the same purpose as the spinners, but are more classroom-ready and less distracting. In the same way, the Kickstarted Fidget Cube, too, is probably also more classroom-friendly.

    Fidget items do seem to serve a valuable purpose. There’s still science to be done, but they’re not just a fad. They embody an enduring phenomenon that nearly everyone uses at some point – just watch your own behavior when doing desk work or sitting in meetings. My research team continues to study fidgeting behavior and design, working to create next-generation smart fidget objects that support managing attention and keeping calm.


    Katherine Isbister is a professor of computational media at the University of California Santa Cruz. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

    The Conversation

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    Economics correspondent Paul Solman sat down with Stevenson to discuss the growth in female-dominated sectors and how stigma might be holding men back from taking jobs seen as “women’s work.” Photo by Rayman via Getty Images

    Editor’s Note: Over the past 20 years, female-dominated industries like health care and education services have grown immensely, while male-dominated industries like manufacturing have lost millions of jobs. The economy is shifting, and it seems like men are on the losing side. But it doesn’t have to be that way, says economist Betsey Stevenson, an associate professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan. In a column for Bloomberg, she’s blunt: Manly men need to do more girly jobs.

    Economics correspondent Paul Solman sat down with Stevenson to discuss the growth in female-dominated sectors and how stigma might be holding men back from taking jobs seen as “women’s work.” Tune in to tonight’s Making Sen$e report on one man who breaks down the stereotype as an elementary school teacher and football coach, and watch last week’s report on how stigma holds more men back from becoming teachers. And in an accompanying report, Making Sen$e looks at men’s participation — or lack thereof — in the health care field.

    — Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor


    PAUL SOLMAN: So are there more jobs for unemployed or underemployed men, or men out of the labor force entirely, than we think?

    BETSEY STEVENSON: Well, the economy is adding jobs. The labor market’s quite strong. The question is where are those jobs being added, and what we’re seeing is, jobs are being added in the service sector. That’s the direction the economy’s moving. We’ve seen particularly strong growth in education and health services, for instance. So if you look over the last 20 years, we’ve lost 5 million jobs in manufacturing and gained 9 million jobs in education and health services. So we’re more than making up for the jobs we’re losing, but the characteristics of those jobs, the identity associated with a worker who holds one of those jobs and the pay associated with those jobs, are different. It’s not about whether there are jobs, but about what kind of jobs there are.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And the jobs you’re talking about are, at least historically, more associated with women than men.

    “We’re more than making up for the jobs we’re losing, but the characteristics of those jobs, the identity associated with a worker who holds one of those jobs and the pay associated with those jobs, are different.”

    BETSEY STEVENSON: Yes, so the service sector has always been where women are more likely to be drawn to. I highlight education and health services because that’s a job that has been majority women. Seventy-five percent of the people in those occupations are women currently. And you compare that to manufacturing jobs where you see the flip side where it’s mostly men. So you see shrinkage in male-dominated occupations, and where we see the growth in is female-dominated occupations.

    PAUL SOLMAN: At least recently. It’s not like some of these professions were always female.

    BETSEY STEVENSON: You know, I think that’s a really good point that what makes an occupation female dominated or male dominated is really cultural, and it can easily change. And you know when we think about things like home health care aids, people tend to think of that as a very female job, but in truth that’s a job that’s about physically lifting, moving, restraining people. And those jobs require great physical strength. You could imagine a different culture where we said, “Oh, those are jobs for men, because men need to be the ones to carry people to the bath and are able to lift and move people with great ease.”

    Similarly, I was just talking with someone who was talking about trying to restrain a psychiatric patient and how difficult that is as a small woman. So you can imagine there are lots of jobs in education and health services where physical strength is an attribute, yet that’s been sort of sidelined, and we tend to emphasize the caring, the nurturing aspects, which makes people see them as feminine jobs.

    Watch Paul Solman’s first report on how stigma may be holding men back from pursuing jobs in education.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Why did that happen, do you suppose?

    BETSEY STEVENSON: I’ve seen lots of economists say for decades now, “There are plenty of jobs. Men just need to get over themselves and go into these other fields.” I think what I’m trying to appreciate is that identity is tougher than that, and we need to think about how we transition men into these types of jobs in the new economy while preserving their notions of masculinity or shifting their notions of masculinity so that their identity moves seamlessly with them into these new jobs. And just sort of telling them, “Hey, you need to go into pink collar jobs,” is not working, and it’s frustrated a lot of men.

    But I think that we need to be working together as a society to figure out how we make this shift, because the story of economic development is one in which machines and technological development change the need in the type of human labor that is used. And this shift has been going on for hundreds of years, and we’ve had to adapt. And I don’t think that what’s happening right now is really any different than what’s happened in the past, but what is different is we have larger participation of women than we’ve ever had before, and we have women who are responding more to the changing needs.

    So college-educated workers have never done better than they’re doing in our current economy, and women are going to college more than men. They understand that that’s where the gains are, and they’re going. They see that these fields like education and health services are in demand and growing.

    People point out that they are lower paid than some of the manufacturing jobs, but they actually have greater wage trajectories and there’s room for promotion and wage growth, because these are growing fields.

    PAUL SOLMAN: What are the data on that? What are the data on how much you can make in a manufacturing job in America and how much you can make in health services, say?

    BETSEY STEVENSON: What we’re seeing right now in manufacturing is very stagnant wages. So even if you can get one of these illustrious jobs, there’s not a lot of growth. So I think that it’s worth thinking not just about what’s the average wage, but what people’s paths can look like and also what their job stability looks like. Because losing your job is a path to lower wages for sure, and what we see in manufacturing is a lot more job loss. So you want to think about if I go into a profession, how likely will I be to stay there, to keep it? What will the path look like? Is there room for promotion? Is there room for growth? Is there room for me to get additional training?

    “There are a lot of guys who feel … that when they take one of these jobs that they are doing something girly, and that feeling is a barrier for them.”

    Those are the kinds of questions that people need to be asking. And even if we bring back more manufacturing jobs, it’s not clear that those manufacturing jobs are going to come with paths to promotion and growth.

    PAUL SOLMAN: I know you’re not a sociologist or a psychologist but you’ve studied this issue and written about it. Where is the resistance within men to pink collar jobs?

    BETSEY STEVENSON: I think that part of it is they see the low starting pay and that feels somewhat insulting. I think they feel stigmatized, like they’re going in to do girls’ work. When I wrote that op-ed where I said manly men need to do girly jobs, I was trying to say: It’s ridiculous that we have these girly jobs and we talk about manly men. These are jobs. They’re good jobs. But at the same time we need to recognize that there are a lot of guys who feel, either because their friends or their community or because of themselves, that when they take one of these jobs that they are doing something girly, and that feeling is a barrier for them.

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    Former FBI director Robert Mueller is back in the spotlight, with his appointment Wednesday as the special counsel in charge of the federal investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Donald Trump’s campaign.

    The selection of Mueller, who lead the agency from 2001 to 2013, drew praise from Democrats and Republicans in Washington. But President Trump criticized the appointment in a statement Wednesday and again at a White House news conference Thursday.

    “I look forward to this matter concluding quickly,” Mr. Trump said in the statement.

    But Mueller’s investigation could go on for a while, according to Garrett Graff, the author of the 2011 book “The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War in the Age of Global Terror,” an inside look at the FBI and Mueller’s tenure at the agency.

    “FBI investigations are not fast, and Bob Mueller is unlikely to launch a particularly fast investigation,” Graff told me in an interview Thursday.

    A lengthy probe could “really paralyze Donald Trump’s agenda as long as his staff is consumed by this investigation and as long as Bob Mueller is out there toiling away,” Graff added.

    As Mueller prepares to wade into the controversy, I sat down with Graff to talk about Mueller’s career and how he might handle the Russian investigation. Watch our conversation in the player above.

    The post Was Mueller the right choice for special counsel in Russia investigation? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Pope Francis has a message for those suffering from Huntington’s disease and their families: “Hide no more.”

    In an emotional event Thursday in Vatican City meant to highlight global awareness of the brain disorder, the Pontiff went out of his way to bless those afflicted and thank their caretakers.

    “May none of you ever feel you are alone; may none of you feel you are a burden; may no one feel the need to run away. You are precious in the eyes of God; you are precious in the eyes of the Church,” he said.

    Huntington’s is a genetic disease that prompts nerve cells in the brain to break down, leading to declines in motor skills and cognitive abilities. Over time, sufferers lose the ability to walk, speak or control their emotions.

    Symptoms often appear after individuals reach adulthood, usually between ages 30 and 50. This often leads to multiple members of the same family having the condition, as every child of a parent with the gene linked to Huntington’s has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the disease.

    In many cultures, the disease plagued by stigma and superstition. Some even believe it is a curse caused the by the devil.

    As a result, many families and caretakers choose to hide their relatives with Huntington’s from society, further amplifying psychiatric problems like depression and anxiety that coincide with cognitive declines.

    At Thursday’s event, the Pope pushed back against the stigma, saying “for far too long, the fears and difficulties that characterise the life of people affected by Huntington’s Disease have surrounded them with misunderstandings and barriers, veritably excluding them.”

    He also praised geneticists and scientists searching for Huntington’s disease treatments, but cautioned against the use of human embryos in their research.

    “I encourage you to carry out [your work] in ways that do not contribute to nourishing the ‘throwaway culture’ that sometimes creeps into scientific research,” he said. “We know that no end, even a noble one like the expectation of a benefit for science, for other human beings or for society, can justify the destruction of human embryos.”

    Many of those present at Thursday’s event traveled from the Pope’s home continent of South America, where, in some regions, prevalence of Huntington’s disease is up to 1,000 times higher than the rest of the world.

    The post ‘Hide no more,’ Pope Francis tells those with Huntington’s disease appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, Author, “Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America”: One of the greatest privileges of being white in this country is to encounter a police person on the street and live to tell about it.

    When many people say, let’s get rid of political correctness, that’s a shorthand for, let me keep on being bigoted the way I was before.

    As the great philosopher Shawn Carter said, you was who you was before you got here, player, and you might change, but that’s just the top layer.

    When you think about the collective white fragility of many white Americans, you know, black people, brown people, red, yellow people, you know what we do? I’m going to break a secret to you. We’re very cautious and careful about how you might interpret things, because you’re very fragile. Your feelings might get hurt.

    You have had 44 of 45 presidents. Most CEOs of American Fortune 500 companies have been white. Where are the tears of white America coming from?

    To be white is to be seen as, I’m just a human being. I’m just an American. Why can’t you guys do the same?

    So, many white brothers and sisters don’t understand they possess a race. When you hear gender, what do we think? Oh, that must be the women. We don’t think, hey, I possess a masculinity. And, often, it’s a toxic masculinity.

    Many white brothers and sisters, when they hear the issue of race, they think the other. They never think themselves.

    It was the great, late Gore Vidal who said, we live in the United States of amnesia.

    So, America is obsessed with history when, what? It’s a reenactment of the Civil War, some battle that was lost in the South.

    But when it’s about black history, why don’t you people get over that? Stop obsessing about slavery. Stop talking about reparations. Stop speaking about historical repression. Talk about what’s going on now.

    When it makes America look great, claps, applause. When it doesn’t, get out of my face. Stop living in the past.

    My role is, for many communities, a paid pest. That’s what I do. I’m a professor. So, I get paid to think about stuff that is pestiferous.

    I try to use humor. I try to use self-deprecation, but the ultimate goal is the same. Can we challenge the forces of unconscious white privilege and implicit bias to come out of the closet and to be held accountable? That’s my job.

    One of my white students, after reading a book that horrendously detailed the tragedies and horrors of white violence against black people, said, “For the first time in my life, I feel ashamed to be white.”

    I didn’t want him to get stuck in a pocket of misery and guilt, because white guilt ultimately will not fix anything.

    You’re going to get into circles that I will never get into. You’re going to go home to Thanksgiving. Go home and talk to granny, not before you eat the turkey or the stuffing or the pumpkin pie. But after, then say to her, you know what, I have got black and brown and red and yellow friends, and it’s not what you say. Or say to your cousin and your uncle, this is not how it goes down.

    And when we do that, we can get rid of the amnesia that has blocked a white grappling with its own problems and issues, and tell the truth about race in America.

    My name is Michael Eric Dyson. And this is my Brief But Spectacular challenge to white America.

    The post Why white Americans don’t see themselves when they hear the word ‘race’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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