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

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    World leaders meet at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 7. Photo by Axel Schmidt/Reuters

    World leaders meet at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 7. Photo by Axel Schmidt/Reuters

    HAMBURG, Germany — With broad grins and a warm handshake, President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin warmed up for their historic encounter on Friday under the shadow of U.S. outrage about Russian election-meddling and nagging questions about potential Trump campaign collusion.

    Ahead of a formal, sit-down meeting, Trump and Putin were seen exchanging pleasantries as a leaders’ retreat got under way in Hamburg. As officials gathered around a table, Trump outstretched his hand to Putin and then patted his elbow and both men smiled. A brief video clip shows Trump casually patting Putin on the back as they stand side by side.

    Video of the brief exchange was posted to Facebook by the German Cabinet. It was the first known in-person interaction between the two men, who have spoken by telephone since Trump was inaugurated in January.

    The two leaders planned later Friday to hold longer talks on Syria and other issues on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit of industrialized and developing nations. The White House said it has scheduled 35 minutes for the meeting.

    “Much to discuss,” Trump tweeted in advance of the encounter.

    READ MORE: What did European allies hear in Trump’s Poland speech?

    The heavily anticipated meeting is being closely scrutinized for signs of how friendly a rapport Trump and Putin will have. Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, had notoriously strained ties to Putin, and Trump has expressed an interest in a better U.S.-Russia relationship. But deep skepticism about Russia in the U.S. and ongoing investigations into whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Moscow during last year’s election have made a U.S.-Russia detente politically risky for Trump.

    As leaders gathered at a summit hall in Hamburg for a group photo, Trump and Putin stood on opposite sides of the tableau. Putin chatted casually with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before taking his spot for the photo next to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. After the cameras snapped away, Merkel, in the center, dismissed the group with a firm nod of the head.

    In the lead-up to the meeting, Trump, during a speech in Warsaw on Thursday, urged Russia to “cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes — including Syria and Iran — and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself.”

    But much of the focus — both in Washington and Moscow — will be on whether Trump broaches the issue of Russia’s meddling in the election.

    During a news conference in Poland on Thursday, Trump again refused to accept the conclusion by multiple U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered to try to help Trump win last November. Trump said it could have been Russia, but that other countries could have meddled, too.

    “Nobody really knows for sure,” Trump said.

    U.S. lawmakers and federal investigators continue to look into Russia’s election interference, along with possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russian government officials. That puts Trump under intense scrutiny over how he handles the sit-down with Putin, a former Russian intelligence agent known to come to meetings like this well-prepared.

    Trump, who likes to have neatly packaged achievements to pair with high-profile meetings, may seek some concessions from Russia to show he’s delivering progress and helping restore a once-productive relationship that he recently described as being at an “all-time low.” Putin would almost certainly want something in return.

    The list of issues ranges from Syria to Iran to Ukraine, and now North Korea, following Pyongyang’s test this week of a missile capable of striking the U.S.

    Russia wants the U.S. to return the two compounds in New York and Maryland that were seized by the Obama administration as punishment for election meddling. It also wants the U.S. to ease sanctions it imposed on Russia after Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula, and over Russia’s support of separatist elements in Ukraine.

    The U.S. wants a resumption of adoptions of Russian children by American parents, which Russia banned in 2012, along with an end to what it claims is intensifying harassment of U.S. diplomats and other officials stationed in Russia.

    Lawmakers in both political parties say Trump must confront Putin over the election.

    READ MORE: In Poland, Trump chides Russia on eve of Putin meeting

    Several senior Democratic U.S. senators served notice Thursday that Trump would be in “severe dereliction” of his presidential duty if he fails to confront Putin over the issue, telling Trump in a letter that he must make clear that Russia’s interference in U.S. democracy will not be tolerated.

    “The upcoming elections cannot be a playground for President Putin,” said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York; Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat; and the top Democrats on the Intelligence, Armed Services, and Foreign Relations committees.

    Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said this week that he will “raise holy hell” if Trump goes soft on Putin. “It is very important for us to make a statement that Russia does not meddle not just in our elections, here and the future, but in our allies,'” he said.

    Every detail of the Trump-Putin meeting will be scrutinized, from their facial expressions to the color of their neckties to how they shake hands.

    “The big thing to watch will be what Putin asks for and what he offers in return and whether there’s a sense of receptivity on the president’s part,” said Derek Chollet, executive vice president and senior adviser for security and defense policy at the German Marshall Fund, a Washington think tank.

    Before Putin, Trump will try to manage another rocky international relationship when he meets with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

    Pena Nieto had been scheduled to visit the White House shortly after Trump took office, but he scrapped the trip at the last minute due to disagreement with Trump over the U.S. president’s insistence that Mexico pay for the wall he has vowed to build along the U.S.-Mexico border to deter illegal immigration. Pena Nieto insists Mexico will not pay.

    Trump has vowed to tighten border security and crack down on undocumented workers and drug cartels, but he has been less firm on getting Mexico to pay for the wall.

    He reassured Pena Nieto in April that he would not pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which involves the U.S., Mexico and Canada. But Trump said he could still withdraw if he concludes that a renegotiated pact would not produce “a fair deal” for all sides.

    The Putin meeting is the highlight of a hectic, four-day European visit for Trump, who addressed thousands of Poles in an outdoor speech in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday. He met in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel, the summit host, and had dinner with two Asian allies — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in — to discuss North Korea’s aggression.

    The Group of 20 gathering of the world’s leading rich and developing nations is the first since Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, deeply disappointing Merkel and other U.S. allies who had hoped to maintain momentum in battling climate change. Even as Trump has said in vague terms he would like to renegotiate the Paris accord, European leaders have vowed to press forward.


    AP Writer Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report.

    The post Trump and Putin meet at international summit in Germany appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    File photo of solar panels by Victor de Schwanberg/Getty Images

    File photo of solar panels by Victor de Schwanberg/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — For the first time in decades, the United States got more electricity from renewable sources than nuclear power in March and April.

    The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Thursday that electricity production from utility-scale renewable sources exceeded nuclear generation in the most recent months for which data is available. That’s the first time renewable sources have outpaced nuclear since 1984.

    The growth in renewables was fueled by scores of new wind turbines and solar farms, as well as recent increases in hydroelectric power as a result of heavy snow and rain in Western states last winter. More than 60 percent of all utility-scale electricity generating capacity that came online last year was from wind and solar.

    In contrast, the pace of construction of new nuclear reactors has slowed in recent decades amid soaring costs and growing public opposition. Nearly all nuclear plants now in use began operation between 1970 and 1990, with utilities starting to retire some of their older reactors.

    Still, experts predict output from the nation’s nuclear plants will nevertheless outpace renewables for the full year, due to such seasonal variation as less water flowing through dams in the drier summer months. Also, nuclear plants tend to undergo maintenance during spring and fall months, when overall electricity demand is lower than in summer or winter.

    Despite the growth in renewables, the U.S. still gets nearly two-thirds of its electricity from burning fossil fuels, primarily natural gas and coal. Nuclear and renewables account for roughly equal shares of the rest, each accounting for less than 20 percent of total output.

    The post Renewable sources of electricity outpace nuclear plants appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    HAMBURG, Germany — President Donald Trump voiced optimism that there are “very positive things” in store for the United States and Russia as he sat down with President Vladimir Putin on Friday for an historic first meeting.

    Seated next to Putin in Germany, Trump said it was “an honor” to be with Putin. As journalists were briefly allowed in to witness part of the meeting, Trump said that he and Putin had already held “very, very good talks.”

    “We look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States and for everybody concerned,” Trump said.

    With Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at his side, Trump sat in front of an American flag with his hands clasped together in triangle formation. Putin, slightly hunched in his chair, rubbed his fingers together as he listened to Trump address reporters. His foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, sat nearby.

    Trump offered no details about what issues he and the Russian leader had discussed, describing them only as “various things.” Putin was similarly vague, telling reporters through a translator that they were discussing international problems and bilateral issues.

    Still, Putin described the fact that they were meeting as a positive sign in itself, and he said he hoped the meeting would “yield positive results.”

    “Phone conversations are never enough definitely,” Putin said. “If you want to have a positive outcome in bilaterals and be able to resolve most international policy issues, that will really need personal meetings.”

    Then the leaders shook hands firmly but briefly before reporters were escorted out of the room. Trump did not respond to shouted questions about whether they would discuss Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election — a topic lawmakers in Washington have been demanding that Trump raise directly.

    Both kept their composure amid the commotion of cameras clicking and journalists lobbying questions as anxious aides moved about nearby. The U.S. leader’s son, Donald Trump Jr., took to Twitter to say the noise from the cameras made it difficult to even hear the two leaders’ words.

    “How many pictures do you need of the same scene?” he said.

    The heavily anticipated meeting is being closely scrutinized for signs of how friendly a rapport Trump and Putin will have. Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, had notoriously strained ties to Putin, and Trump has expressed an interest in a better U.S.-Russia relationship. But deep skepticism about Russia in the U.S. and ongoing investigations into whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Moscow during last year’s election have made a U.S.-Russia detente politically risky for Trump.

    The White House said it has scheduled 35 minutes for the meeting.

    In a prelude to their formal sit-down, Trump and Putin shook hands and exchanged broad grins earlier Friday in a brief exchange caught on video as a leaders’ retreat got under way in Hamburg. A brief video clip showed Trump outstretching his hand to Putin as officials gathered around a table, then patting Putin’s elbow as both men smiled. In another clip, Trump casually patted Putin on the back as they stood side by side.

    Video of the brief exchange was posted to Facebook by the German Cabinet. It was the first known in-person interaction between the two men.

    Trump alluded to the campaign controversy as he started the day with a jab at his vanquished Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. He wrote on Twitter that “everyone here is talking” about her campaign chairman’s “disgraceful” response after the FBI discovered Democratic Party computers were hacked — a breach later blamed on Russia.

    Outside the summit site, anti-globalization protesters were causing problems for first lady Melania Trump, who was kept from joining other leaders’ spouses for their own program of events. Mrs. Trump’s office said local police hadn’t cleared her to leave the government guest house where she and Trump were staying because of the protests, in which demonstrators set dozens of cars ablaze.

    In the lead-up to the meeting, Trump used a speech in Warsaw on Thursday to voice a list of grievances about Russia. He urged Putin’s government to “cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes — including Syria and Iran — and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself.”

    But much of the focus — both in Washington and Moscow — will be on whether Trump broaches the issue of Russia’s meddling in the election. Putin, a former Russian intelligence agent, is known to come to high-profile meetings like this well-prepared.

    In a news conference before he flew to Germany, Trump again refused to unequivocally accept the conclusion by multiple U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered to try to help Trump win last November. Trump said it could have been Russia, but that other countries could have meddled, too.

    “Nobody really knows for sure,” Trump said.

    The list of issues facing the two countries ranges from Syria to Iran to Ukraine, and now North Korea, following Pyongyang’s test this week of a missile capable of striking the U.S.

    Russia wants the U.S. to return two compounds in New York and Maryland that were shuttered by the Obama administration as punishment for election meddling. It also wants the U.S. to ease Ukraine-related sanctions. The U.S. seeks a resumption of adoptions of Russian children by American parents, an end to harassment of U.S. diplomats and other measures.

    In Washington, Trump has been under intense pressure from both parties to confront Putin over the election interference. Several senior Democratic U.S. senators served notice in a letter Thursday that Trump would be in “severe dereliction” of his presidential duty if he fails to make clear that Russia’s interference in U.S. democracy will not be tolerated.

    “The upcoming elections cannot be a playground for President Putin,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and others, including the top Democrats on the Intelligence, Armed Services, and Foreign Relations committees.

    And Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican and House Foreign Affairs Committee member, said this week that he will “raise holy hell” if Trump goes soft on Putin.

    The Putin tete-a-tete was Trump’s highest-profile meeting while at his first G-20 summit, but not the only with a nation whose relationship with his administration has been rocky.

    Pena Nieto of Mexico had been scheduled to visit the White House shortly after Trump took office, but scrapped the trip at the last minute to protest Trump’s insistence that Mexico pay for the border wall he has vowed to build to deter illegal immigration. Pena Nieto insists Mexico won’t pay.

    Asked by a reporter as their meeting started whether he still wanted Mexico to pay, Trump said: “Absolutely.”

    The Putin meeting came midway through a hectic, four-day European visit for Trump, who addressed thousands of Poles in an outdoor speech in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday. He met in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel, the summit host, and had dinner with two Asian allies — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in — to discuss North Korea’s aggression.


    AP Writer Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report.

    The post WATCH: Trump, with Putin, predicts ‘positive things’ for U.S.-Russia relationship appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    President Donald Trump shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    President Donald Trump shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met face-to-face Friday for the first time, with several topics like Syria and North Korea purportedly up for discussion.

    But after the two-hour meeting, two key people in the room for the Trump-Putin talk gave differing accounts of what happened when one particular issue — Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election — came up.

    U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Mr. Trump opened the meeting by addressing concerns over Russian meddling in the 2016 election, adding that Trump “pressed” Putin on the issue “on more than one occasion” during the conversation.

    U.S. intelligence agencies have blamed Russia for meddling in the election last year in an effort to tilt the race in Trump’s favor.

    According to Tillerson, who spoke to reporters in an off-camera briefing after the meeting, Putin denied that Russia had interfered in the election when Trump brought it up.

    Tillerson added that the two presidents then agreed to move forward and focus on advancing the relationship between the United States and Russia, “because it’s not clear to me that we will ever come to some agreed-upon resolution” on the 2016 race.

    One problem? Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a different takeaway.

    President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their first face-to-face meeting since Mr. Trump took office on Friday during the G20 summit, discussing Syria and North Korea, as well as Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Judy Woodruff learns more from special correspondent Ryan Chilcote.

    Lavrov told reporters after the meeting that Trump had actually accepted Putin’s assurances that Russia didn’t interfere in the 2016 election.

    “President Trump said he’s heard Putin’s very clear statements that this is not true and that the Russian government didn’t interfere in the elections and that he accepts these statements. That’s all,” Lavrov is quoted as saying, according to CNN.

    The White House, however, denied Lavrov’s claim that Trump had accepted Putin’s denial, an administrative official told the NewsHour.

    Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, strongly decried Russian involvement in addressing concerns about interference, saying, “the establishment of a working group as reported by Foreign Minister Lavrov to study how to curb cyber interference in elections in which the Russians would play any role, would be akin to inviting the North Koreans to participate in a commission on nonproliferation — it tacitly adopts the fiction that the Russians are a constructive partner on the subject instead of the worst actor on the world stage.”

    LISTEN: Trump confronts Putin on election hacking in first meeting

    The post Trump-Putin talk ends with conflicting reports on Russian meddling appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Brenda Fitzgerald speaking at Tedx Atlanta, 2014. Photo by Tedx Atlanta/via Flickr

    Brenda Fitzgerald speaking at Tedx Atlanta, 2014. Photo by Tedx Atlanta/via Flickr

    Georgia’s public health commissioner, an OB-GYN and two-time Republican candidate for Congress, has been named the next director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald will replace Dr. Tom Frieden, who served as CDC director for eight years before stepping down in January.

    Fitzgerald joined the Atlanta-based agency effective Friday, its acting director, Dr. Anne Schuchat, told CDC staff in an email. Schuchat, a CDC veteran and principal deputy director under Frieden, assured staff she will work closely with Fitzgerald to affect a smooth transition.

    Fitzgerald, who is 70, was also named administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which is also based in Atlanta. That agency oversees work on the public health effects of hazardous substances in the environment.

    READ MORE: ‘Catastrophic threat’: CDC chief fears a deadly superbug’s spread

    Fitzgerald has practiced medicine for about three decades in Carrollton, a city west of Atlanta. But she does not appear to have a record of having conducted scientific research, a major function of the agency she has been nominated to lead.

    In announcing the appointment, Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services, said Fitzgerald “has a deep appreciation and understanding of medicine, public health, policy and leadership — all qualities that will prove vital as she leads the CDC.”

    Her predecessor, Frieden, said Fitzgerald’s time at the helm of the Georgia public health commission will be important experience on which she can draw. He noted that while she was there, the commission did strong work in the area of family planning.

    “It’s good that she has experience running a public health agency,” said Frieden, who was New York City’s health commissioner before taking the helm of the CDC.

    “If she’s willing to listen to the staff and learn from the staff and then to understand that a large part of her role is to support them, yes, she can be very successful,” he said, noting it will be critical for Fitzgerald to protect the embattled agency’s budget.

    In particular, staff of the CDC will be watching to see if Fitzgerald safeguards the CDC’s international work. The CDC is the preeminent global disease detection and control agency, and has outposts in a number of countries overseas. There is deep concern at the agency that the new administration’s views on placing American interests first may lead to a retrenchment of the CDC’s work abroad.

    Over the years the CDC has often been the first place other countries turn for help controlling new diseases; its scientists, for instance, were the ones who were able to confirm a 1976 outbreak in Zaire — now Democratic Republic of Congo — was caused by a never-before seen virus the world now calls Ebola.

    As other countries have built up their own disease surveillance capacity, they often use the name CDC — a testament to the reputation of the agency and the role it plays. Frieden told STAT that when he traveled abroad as CDC director, the question he most commonly heard was: How can we create our own CDC?

    The selection of Fitzgerald — an ally of former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich — may generate some controversy.

    In 2014, during the West African Ebola crisis, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal stated publicly that water destroys Ebola viruses — it does not — and attributed the notion to Fitzgerald.

    And she has been involved in partisan politics, having run twice for the Republican nomination for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District in the early 1990s.

    Fitzgerald did not win the nomination either time.

    An Atlanta Journal-Constitution article analyzing Fitzgerald’s defeat in 1994 noted she faced attacks from anti-abortion activists; in the lead-up to the vote, some distributed flyers in church parking lots proclaiming that she had performed abortions.

    Fitzgerald publicly denied the claim in a debate with Republican Bob Barr, who went on to win the nomination and the district.

    “I’ve spent my entire life trying to help infertile couples,” Fitzgerald said. “In the entire time I’ve been a licensed physician, I’ve never performed an abortion.”

    However, Fitzgerald’s position on abortion appeared to be more nuanced than anti-abortion forces in Georgia could abide. She was on the record in the early 1990s as saying while she opposed federal funding of abortion and favored some restrictions, the final decision should be left to a woman and her doctor.

    Fitzgerald has also publicly endorsed vaccinations, which will hearten the public health community. Trump’s position on vaccines — he has stated that children receive too many vaccines too quickly in early childhood — has been a source of major concern in public health circles.

    “Vaccination is our best protection against measles and a host of other infectious diseases,” Fitzgerald, by then Georgia’s public health commissioner, wrote in 2015 in a column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

    Fitzgerald was named state commissioner of public health in 2011.

    She is a former major in the U.S. Air Force, and a one-time president of the Georgia OB-GYN Society. During Gingrich’s tenure as House speaker, she served as one of his health care policy advisers.

    Fitzgerald received a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgia State University in 1972 and was awarded a medical degree from Emory University in 1977.

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on July 6, 2017. Find the original story here.

    The post Brenda Fitzgerald named new CDC director appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    In this excerpt, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon discusses the cease-fire in Syria.

    British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said that unlike previous calls to disarm, the cease-fire deal announced Friday by the U.S., Russia and Jordan in southwestern Syria “is welcome, but it’s got to be enforced, it’s got to be an actual cease-fire.”

    “There have been many cease-fires before that have turned out not to be cease-fires at all,” he said in an interview with PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff airing Friday. “We’ve seen up in Aleppo in the north of Syria, we’ve seen Russia allowing Syria to go on bombing its own civilians, bombing hospitals, after a cease-fire has been declared.”

    As for implementation, Fallon said “we want to see it applied to those on the ground so that we can get humanitarian aid into some of those towns and villages that have been cut off in the fighting (so) that we can get aid through.”

    Having a dialogue with Russia was the right thing to do to “ensure where Russia does have influence, like in Syria, we can bring Russia’s influence to bear,” he added. Fallon agreed with U.S. officials that there is no long-term future for President Bashar Assad in Syria.

    “This is a man who’s attacked his own people, he’s barrel-bombed his own people, he’s used chemical weapons against his own people,” he said.

    Fallon also called the continued missile tests by North Korea illegal, a provocation and “unacceptable.” The international community must look at whether current sanctions were breached, he said, and whether new ones, such as those targeting Chinese companies and individuals, should be applied to bring more pressure on the regime.

    The post WATCH: Syria cease-fire must ‘be applied on the ground’ to work, British defense minister says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: Linguist Deborah Tannen has written a new book on women’s friendships, “You’re the Only One I Can Tell.”

    And, tonight, she offers her Humble Opinion on the new language of liking.

    DEBORAH TANNEN, Author, “You’re the Only One I Can Tell: Inside the Language of Women’s Friendships”: For a book about friendship, I interviewed over 80 women, ages 9 to 97, and heard a lot of worry that people are getting more self-absorbed, constantly texting and posting pictures of trivial things, like plates of food.

    One woman complained: “I don’t care what somebody had for dinner, all this stuff out there that nobody needs to know.”

    I’m a linguistics professor, so you might think I would lament the effects of social media, especially how it corrupts language.

    But I don’t. I have spent my career studying the language of everyday conversation, and I know that most everyday talk isn’t about information we need to know. It’s about staying connected to the people we care about. And that’s a need that social media is extremely well-suited to.

    My students at Georgetown University have helped me understand how this works. They like each other’s pictures to show they’re paying attention, like nodding and saying uh-huh when a friend is talking. And they use tagging to link their pictures to their friends’ accounts, drawing friends into their circle.

    A student in my class explained that a photo of bowls of food and glasses of wine might seem to scream, look at me and this cool party I had. But tagging the friends who brought the food and drink to the party was a way to thank them for helping make the party a success, and to remind them of the time they all spent together.

    Surely, selfies are self-indulgent, you might think. But the way my students use them, they aren’t, at least not if they observe selfie etiquette. For example, a selfie usually includes at least one other person, so the one taking it isn’t really focusing on herself. And she shows she doesn’t take herself too seriously by mugging and adding captions that are funny or self-deprecating, or, preferably, both.

    I think of social media as an extension of the how-was-your-day conversations that let you know someone cares about you, so you feel less alone in the world. It’s not that I don’t see downsides, but those are also extensions of liabilities that have always been with us.

    For example, seeing what your friends and family are doing when you’re not there can make you feel included or left out.

    Social media haven’t transformed human relations. They have intensified them. While that means ramping up some of the stresses and frailties of friendships, it also gives us new, more immediate, more creative ways to stay connected to the people we care about, who care about us.

    The post How social media ‘likes’ create a conversation of connection appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, another look at the major news of this week, both foreign and domestic, from today’s pivotal meeting between two presidents, to new developments with the Senate GOP’s health care plan.

    Here to provide analysis of all that and more is Brooks and Marcus. That’s New York Times columnist David Brooks and Ruth Marcus, deputy editorial page editor for The Washington Post. Mark Shields is away this week.

    Welcome to you on both.

    So, the lead story today, of course, President Trump meets President Putin.

    David, all eyes on this meeting, the body language, what did they say. And then we have these conflicting reports coming out afterwards. What do we make of it?

    DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Well, it was sort of normal for a Trump administration event. He did raise the meddling issue, which is a good thing.

    And so it seemed a little like, from the talking points, they hit Syria, they hit all the prints a U.S. president would talk to with a Russian president. It seemed a bit like a normal meeting, which is a good thing.

    The abnormal part to me is how small it was, that there are only four people and then the two translators in the room, no H.R. McMaster, no national security adviser, which is an oddity. And that gives them maximum flexibility to say whatever they want in the room and not have it reported out of the room.

    And that’s what makes the point about what they were saying about the meddling or anything else totally mysterious. Apparently, there were no note-takers in the room. And so it leaves a big void in what they actually said and whether Trump really accepted the fact that Putin claims he didn’t meddle.

    And so it’s just a big void that wouldn’t exist if you had the normal complement of people in the room and the normal note-takers in the room, and you had some actual look into what sort of what was happening in there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A long meeting, Ruth, but a lot of questions.

    RUTH MARCUS, The Washington Post: Long meeting, a lot of questions.

    And normal is not the way I would describe it. And I think I should start by the way President Trump started with Vladimir Putin, which is, it’s an honor to be here with both of you. That is a true honor.

    I thought for President Trump to say — and I understand we have diplomatic niceties — it wasn’t an honor to be with someone who has attacked and jailed dissidents and killed dissidents in his country, who has invaded other countries, and who has tried to interfere in an American election.

    And I think that simply to accept that, oh, it’s great, at least he raised the question of Russian interference, but we don’t know — and never will probably — precisely what he said, is really defining the presidency down.

    That should have been a given that he was going to raise that. And that it wasn’t a given, they left but on tenterhooks, and that the day before, he was still saying, well, nobody really knows for sure what happened, and seemed more eager to blame President Obama for not doing enough, to question whether the intelligence community gets it right, to tweet today about John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, and say, why didn’t he turn over the server, just really underscores to me the abnormality of the situation.

    DAVID BROOKS: I have successfully defined deviancy so far down …



    RUTH MARCUS: Well, that’s the point of normalizing, right?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, that’s fair.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David, was using the term honor going too far?

    DAVID BROOKS: I think no normal person would say that.


    DAVID BROOKS: But, on the other hand, I’m willing to give diplomatic latitude to that. There are a lot of people in a lot of diplomatic circumstances.

    And I’m sure, if we went back and looked at how other presidents speak, you’re trying to establish a relationship with a bad guy. Now, and you say things. And so I give latitude toward that.

    The question is whether Donald Trump recognizes that Vladimir Putin is a bad guy. That’s the larger question here than whether he used the word honor. And I guess there’s no indication that he regards Putin as in any way a bad guy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Does it matter, Ruth, whether the president accepted Putin’s denials? Or are we just — we’re going to be left wondering about this forever.

    RUTH MARCUS: Well, Secretary of State Tillerson said that they basically agreed it didn’t make sense to relitigate this, actually one of my favorite words. And maybe that’s true.

    The important point is that, since before the election, Donald Trump has been denying that this happened. He has seemed entirely unconcerned with figuring out whether it happened and with expressing the outrage that any American president should be expressing that it did happen.

    And now I think we’re supposed to be satisfied that there is this joint working group on cyber-security. So, I have a modest proposal.


    RUTH MARCUS: If we’re going to have a joint working group on cyber-security, let’s combine that with the election fraud commission, and we can really get to the bottom of everything.

    DAVID BROOKS: Say we had a normal president. It’s actually an interesting political problem. What do you do with Russia?

    Do you say, you interfered with our elections, you’re interfering with all these elections across Europe, we’re not dealing with you until you behave by some standards of normalcy? And that’s a morally satisfying position that, as a columnist, would be fun.

    But there are actually a lot of issues you have got to deal with Russia on. And so this is perpetually the problem with rogue regimes. You have got to — you deal with them and then you don’t deal with them. And even if we had a normal administration, it would be tough to know how to treat Vladimir Putin.

    RUTH MARCUS: And this is my time to now say that David has a fair point.

    And so, sure, whenever you’re dealing with somebody who is an adversary — and Russia is an adversary — you are going to have to calibrate, because there are things that we need their help on. We need their help on Syria. We need their help on North Korea.

    And so you don’t want to let one little attack on your democracy and your election system blow everything up.


    RUTH MARCUS: But you do need to assert yourself in a way that we haven’t seen him do publicly and that we’re going to still have questions about whether he did privately.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of our democracy, yesterday, in Poland, David, the president made a speech to the Polish people.

    And he talked about Western civilization and how it’s under siege, and how it’s going to matter right now whether we have the will to survive the siege that we are under.

    Does this ring true? Does it feel like Western civilization is under siege right now?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think — I 80 percent liked the speech.

    There was this famous clash of civilization thesis from Samuel Huntington, a political theorist. And the idea was that Western civilization is at war with Islam and maybe some of the other civilizations around the world.

    And I don’t agree with that. But I do think there is such a thing as Western civilization. I think it starts with the Greeks and the Romans. Then it goes through the Enlightenment — or the Reformation, the Enlightenment. It goes through the scientific age.

    And it somewhat defines some of the cultures and mores of Europe and North America and some other countries. And it’s obviously absorbed a lot of immigrants and it’s absorbed a lot of ideas and had exchange with Asia and other civilizations. But it’s a thing.

    And I like the fact that he appealed to that, especially when he’s trying to, I hope, reunify the Western alliance, which has been a powerful force for good in the world over the last 70 years. And, to his credit, he appealed to some of the things that are finest about Western civilization, artistic creativity, rights of minorities, equality for woman.

    He ran down the list. Whether the guy actually lives by those standards is another matter, but at least he appealed to them. And I think it’s a big mistake any time anybody makes an appeal to the West or to America, to patriotism to think, oh, he’s excluding.

    It’s an identity formation. And we need our identity formations. And I think he did it, in the speech at least, reasonably well.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you read that?

    RUTH MARCUS: Well, I’m not at 80 percent. Surprise.

    But there are things to like about the speech. One thing to like about the speech is that, unlike the last time he was in Europe, he was — and cut the words out of the speech, we learned later, he was able to at least read from the teleprompter that he supports Article 5, the fundamental provision of NATO for common self-defense.

    On the other hand, last time, when he was in Saudi Arabia, he was able to not say the words radical Islamic terrorism. I will give you Article 5, but I need my radical Islamic terrorism.

    I think it was very nice to hear the summoning of the importance of a free press and all those things. A little hard to take from somebody who had just tweeted out that CNN beat-up wrestling video.

    And so that brings me to my fundamental concern, which is, which are we paying attention to, teleprompter Trump or off-the-cuff tweeter Trump? Both matter, right, his willingness to say things. I was a little more put off by the Western part of the invocation of common values and democratic values that we should all live by.

    But teleprompter Trump is one thing. But I think, when we see the real Trump, it’s a lot more nervous-making, to say the least.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do we know which one is the real Trump?


    I take Ruth’s point. But you remember Angela Merkel had given this — made this comment about Europe has to go it alone, because we don’t about this guy. And so this appeal to a Western cohesion to me was a valuable thing.

    The second thing is — and this is something Trump does better than a lot of his critics — he understands sense of belonging. And a lot of people think globalization, any time you make any particularity, you’re sort of offending some other group.

    And a lot of people in this country think they belong to America anymore, and he at least appeals to some sense of belonging. I like the idea that we belong to Western traditions, so I’m glad he appeals to that sort of thing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right. We’re going to — we could talk about this for a long time.

    But I do want to bring us back to something that we heard Lisa Desjardins reporting on, Ruth, and that is the health care, Republican health care plan. She — by her reporting, it sounds like that Republicans are having a tougher time than ever now getting the votes they need to get something through.

    RUTH MARCUS: Well, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell has been talking about this as a Rubik’s Cube. But with the Rubik’s Cube, you know there’s a solution.


    RUTH MARCUS: With this one, not so clear.

    And what I loved this week was that McConnell, who is I think absolutely dedicated to trying to find the votes, and — which wasn’t totally clear. Maybe he just wanted to get this put aside, so we can move on to tax cuts, which they really care about.

    And no one discounts his ability. If anybody could do it, he can. But he brought out the big guns this week, threatening the ultimate sanction, bipartisanship.


    RUTH MARCUS: If you guys don’t go along, I’m going to have to work with Democrats, and then you will see how unhappy you will be with the result.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. What’s the opposite of a nuclear option?


    RUTH MARCUS: It’s the talking option.

    DAVID BROOKS: Like, we will do something good, right? We will do something good.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Oh, my God, we may have to work together.

    What does it look like?

    DAVID BROOKS: I agree with Ruth on this. It looks dead.

    It just like — not only have you begun to see the burbling concerns, and then out in some of the few town halls that have been out there, you have seen those concerns. But you’re beginning to see all these members come freelancing off in different elections.

    Ted Cruz is freelancing from that direction. Mike Lee is staking out a position that will be completely unacceptable to a lot of people. And then the moderates are staking out their position. So, not only is it hard to piece together this together. They’re all going further apart.

    And so they’re all defending themselves. And it’s just — the party is not cohesive enough, so I think there’s no solution. It’s super hard to take away a benefit that is pretty deeply embedded now, no matter what your ideology is.

    And to me — and it’s a genuine question — what do we do? McConnell made the correct point that you can’t just do nothing, because the markets, the insurance markets are struggling. And so something has to be done, some normal repair at least has to be done. How do we do that?

    Can we really imagine a bipartisan solution? Frankly, I cannot.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And the conservatives can’t imagine it would go along with shoring up the current system.

    RUTH MARCUS: Well, it’s going to take a long time to get to a bipartisan solution.

    And I want to kind of lay out the possibility that there are ways in which you could cobble this together. You say, OK, some of these tax cuts for the rich don’t have to go. There’s all sorts of other things. But that’s going to have to fail.

    There are people working, Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins. Democrats are working with them on this that — and there are ways to shore up the markets. We have had a learning curve on the Affordable Care Act, which kind of suggests two things. People like it, and it needs some tinkering that are most — that’s mostly around the edges.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we want to leave this on a positive note, so we’re going to stop right there. And by next Friday, we will know more.

    Ruth Marcus, David Brooks, thank you both.

    RUTH MARCUS: Thanks.

    DAVID BROOKS: Thank you.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: an experiment in rethinking public housing that encourages healthier living by changing the larger environment for residents.

    Jeffrey Brown reports from Denver.

    JEFFREY BROWN: At age 71, Noel Taylor says she’s become more active and health-conscious than ever before.

    NOEL TAYLOR, Mariposa Resident: Every year, I improve my diet, I improve my exercise.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Her change in behavior didn’t happen by accident. Four years ago, here in downtown Denver, Taylor joined an experiment in making healthy living part of the design and daily life of a public housing project. Among the amenities here, access to a garden plot.

    NOEL TAYLOR: I noticed, all summer long, I was getting healthier. The more of my own vegetables I was eating, the more energy I had. It’s made a huge difference.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, this sounds all too good to be true.

    NOEL TAYLOR: I know.


    JEFFREY BROWN: And there’s more.

    The Denver Botanic Gardens hosts a farmers market giving away free produce to residents.

    WOMAN: We’re going to talk about how to shop healthy on a budget.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Another group offers classes on healthy recipes and shopping.

    MAN: Now we will take your blood pressure.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In a clinic on the ground floor of one building, public health physicians schedule regular visits to do routine checkups. There’s a light rail stop, both for easy transportation and to get residents out of their cars.

    MAN: Do the other side now.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Plus, bike rentals and a nearby shop to teach kids how to maintain their bikes.

    Even the architecture and public art was designed to encourage residents to get outside and take a walk.

    ISMAEL GUERRERO, Denver Housing Authority: We really wanted this to look like a neighborhood, not a development.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Ismael Guerrero, director of the Denver Housing Authority, says that, 10 years ago, this was a high-crime neighborhood, with 250 units of rundown public housing. Something had to be done.

    ISMAEL GUERRERO: What we learned in early conversations with residents in particular was, they didn’t just want a new unit to move into. They wanted a better quality of life. So we really started expanding our perspective on what we were trying to accomplish here.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The result completed earlier this summer is the Mariposa development, a mixture of 800 apartments and town homes, one-third public housing, a third subsidized, and a third rented at market value. The overall cost was $150 million; $60 million came from federal, state and local government programs, with the rest coming through private investment.

    Already, Mariposa is becoming a model for rethinking public housing.

    ISMAEL GUERRERO: Part of it is physical health, and part of it is what we call neighborhood health. Right? How healthy is the place? Is it safe? Are there healthy activities for you to do? Is there healthy food in the neighborhood for you to go and eat? Is there a healthy economy where people can get jobs and start a business?

    JEFFREY BROWN: The Osage Cafe, located in one of the apartment buildings, is designed to meet some of those needs. In addition to the food, it provides culinary training and internships for young people in the neighborhood, like 20-year-old Israel Trejo.

    ISRAEL TREJO: And I think that’s where I discovered I had a passion for cooking.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What did it give you?

    ISRAEL TREJO: It gave me the entire world, basically. Like, with the skills that I have learned now, I could go anywhere. I could go be anything.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Trejo now has a job at one of Denver’s top restaurants, and plans to operate his own food truck soon.

    ANGELA RODRIGUEZ, Mariposa Resident: Are you looking forward to helping me grow some fruits and vegetables?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Angela Rodriguez, a single mother of two teens, dreams of one day buying her own home. She has a full-time job at a nearby community college, but Denver’s booming housing market makes ownership difficult.

    She lives in a subsidized town home at Mariposa, which she says is very different from the old-style projects she grew up in nearby.

    ANGELA RODRIGUEZ: As a new style of public housing, it did take me a little bit of time for the adjustment. When new tenants are mingling with other tenants that come from different walks of life, it’s helping us to develop into new perspectives of modern living.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Rodriguez uses public transportation, has taken up gardening, and has fully embraced the culture of health that is promoted here.

    But is Mariposa working? It’s too early for definitive answers. According to a 2015 study by the Denver Public Health Department, about half the residents had participated in health-related activities over the previous three years.

    But the study also showed the amount of exercise residents pursued had changed little. Just over a third said they exercised five times a week. About the same amount said they exercised one to four times a week, and 26 percent said they rarely or never exercised.

    Smoking rates decreased, but only slightly, from 30 percent of residents down to 24 percent. And these so-called active staircases, designed with a bit of whimsy…

    ISMAEL GUERRERO: It’s a way to engage kids, and actually now the adults enjoy it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: … to lure residents away from using the elevator. Well, so far, they’re not having a big impact.

    THERESA MICKIEWICZ, Denver Public Health: We actually did observational counts, where we sat there and we counted people who used the stairs vs. people who used the elevator, and we compared it against a control staircase in the Mariposa redevelopment, and we found absolutely no difference.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Theresa Mickiewicz, an epidemiologist with Denver Public Health, is overseeing a study of the development. And while major improvements in health remain to be seen, she believes something important is happening here, and she expects the numbers to reflect that soon.

    THERESA MICKIEWICZ: While maintaining my objectivity as an evaluator, do I think that there is value in this type of project? I would say yes. Individually, these components have been shown in the evidence, in literature, to improve health outcomes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The city of Denver is so confident in this new model, it’s about to embark on a similar development that will be three times larger than Mariposa. That construction is expected to begin later next year.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jeffrey Brown, reporting from Denver.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Aside from the many international issues before President Trump this week, his first major push on domestic policy is facing an uphill climb in the Senate.

    John Yang has this checkup.

    JOHN YANG: When last we left the saga of the Republicans’ attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t have the votes for the Senate bill, so lawmakers headed home for the Fourth of July recess.

    Where do things stand as the recess ends?

    Let’s turn to our own Lisa Desjardins.

    So, Lisa, has this week off helped or hurt McConnell’s efforts to get this bill passed?

    LISA DESJARDINS: It has not helped, and that has hurt.

    We see some Republicans who are not usually in the middle of these situations, like John Hoeven of North Dakota, for example, meeting not just with constituents, but with hospital administrators, those kinds of people. And he came away with those meetings having, stressing problems with the bill.

    Then, yesterday, Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, spoke to a rotary club in Kentucky. And he said this quote that got a lot of attention: “If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur. No action is not an alternative.”

    His office insists he said things like this before, but the timing is key. This was a bill that was supposed to be voted on already. John, leadership sources tell me they would still like a new revised bill next week, maybe a vote the following week. But that seems unclear now if it will really happen.

    JOHN YANG: Seems like Mitch McConnell was sending a message. So, who are the key players that he was sending that message to?

    LISA DESJARDINS: You got it exactly right.

    We talked so much about moderates before. Now it’s all about the conservatives. He was saying to conservatives, we have to revise these bills, or we have lost our shot of having anything as Republicans.

    Let’s compare two conservatives who spoke in town halls yesterday’s sound bites, first from Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

    SEN. TED CRUZ, R-Texas: 2010, 2014, and 2016, repealing Obamacare was front and center. Now, I recognize that some folks may not agree with that, but the voters, repealing Obamacare was the single biggest factor producing a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and I think ultimately a Republican president.

    LISA DESJARDINS: So, that’s an animated Ted Cruz. He is trying to change this revised bill to try and get it across the finish line.

    But compare that with Kansas Senator Jerry Moran.

    SEN. JERRY MORAN, R-Kan.: I believe in the legislative process that allows public debate, public discussions, testimony, amendments offered by all senators. The bill comes to the Senate floor, amendments offered by all senators, and figure out where there are 60 votes to pass something that is so important to so many Americans.

    LISA DESJARDINS: How about that key number, 60 votes? That means Democrats would need to be to be involved. And that’s coming from a conservative.

    JOHN YANG: So, what are the options? What can Mitch McConnell try to do to get the votes he needs to pass a bill in the Senate?

    LISA DESJARDINS: There are no easy options left, but there are three options that seem to define the possible paths right now for Mr. McConnell.

    The first is to revise the bill. That’s what we have been talking about. They do hope to offer a revised bill soon. But can it get enough votes? Unclear.

    The second is a full repeal. That’s something Rand Paul and Ted Cruz want. However, with that full repeal would come a replacement later. And many of my sources in the Republican Party say that is too risky.

    JOHN YANG: It’s also an option that the president raised last week.

    LISA DESJARDINS: That’s correct. But this doesn’t seem to have the votes right now in the Senate.

    Then the third option would be smaller fixes to the Affordable Care Act, something that stabilizes the market and fixes what people think are problems now. That would involve the Democrats as well.

    JOHN YANG: That would keep ACA essentially as it this, just make little nicks and cuts around the edges.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Potentially. It would be a much smaller bill at that point.

    JOHN YANG: That’s what the Democrats want.

    LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right.

    JOHN YANG: So, as we sit here, with the Senate about to come back next week, what are the odds? What are the chances? What does your gut tell you about the chances of, A, the Senate passing something and, if that happens, B, getting something to the president’s desk for his signature?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Well, I have the sense that almost no one knows exactly what’s going to happen now, but I would say, given that and given the way the Senate works, the odds are long, both on a bill passing the Senate and even longer on it getting to the president’s desk, as things stand right now.

    JOHN YANG: But the odds are good you’re going to have a busy week next week, when the Senate comes back.

    LISA DESJARDINS: I think so.

    JOHN YANG: Thanks, Lisa.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: As part of the G20 summit this weekend, President Trump will meet with the United Kingdom’s prime minister, Theresa May. They will have much to discuss, from the fight against ISIS, to the role of NATO, and how their broader agendas differ from those of European allies.

    A short time ago, I spoke with the U.K.’s defense secretary, Sir Michael Fallon.

    I began by asking him about the differing accounts of what Mr. Trump said to President Putin about Russian meddling in last year’s U.S. election.

    MICHAEL FALLON, U.K. Defense Secretary: It was an important meeting. It was right that they should meet reasonably early on. It’s right that they should get along, because there’s quite a bit to talk to Russia about.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You had said earlier that the U.S. should go into that meeting warily. Does it sound to you as if that’s what happened?

    MICHAEL FALLON: Well, we have to engage with Russia.

    That can’t be business as usual with Russia while the Crimea remains annexed, while Ukraine is being interfered with. It can’t be business as usual. But we think it important to have a dialogue with Russia to try and de-escalate any tensions that there are and to ensure that where Russia does have influence in the world — and Syria is one example — that we can bring Russia’s influence to bear.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, you work very closely obviously with the intelligence community. We know that President Trump has challenged the intelligence community — the U.S. intelligence community’s reporting on Russian interference in the election.

    What effect might that have on Russia and its continuing efforts to interfere here in the U.S. and in Europe?

    MICHAEL FALLON: Well, we know Russia intervened in some elections in Europe. That, we do know, in the Dutch referendum, in the French elections. There’s been an attempted coup in Montenegro that Russia was suspected of being involved in.

    So, we know there’s been this pattern of behavior by Russia in recent years. But I’m not able to comment on what happened here in your election.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But to the extent President Trump is challenging the work of the U.S. community, does that have an effect on intelligence work abroad, internationally, cooperation between the U.S. and allies like the U.K.?

    MICHAEL FALLON: Well, there’s no closer cooperation on intelligence than between us and the United States. Our services work extremely closely together, both in monitoring what Russia is doing, but also against terrorism. So it’s a very close relationship to us.

    It’s very important to us.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me turn to Syria. We’re told the two presidents did discuss Syria. And, in fact, after their meeting, it was reported that they have agreed on a cease-fire for a section of southwestern Syria. What do you know about that?

    MICHAEL FALLON: Well any cease-fire has got to be good news in the civil war that’s gone on are for so long now.

    But there’s been many cease-fires before that have turned out not to be cease-fires at all. And we have seen up in Aleppo in the north of Syria, we have seen Russia allowing Syria to go on bombing its own civilians, bombing hospitals after a cease-fire has been declared.

    Now, this one is welcome, but it has got to be enforced, it’s got to be an actual cease-fire.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what do you look for? What’s the evidence of that? You want to see when it takes effect and what the ground rules are?

    MICHAEL FALLON: Yes. We want to see it applied to those on the ground, so that we can get humanitarian aid into those towns and villages that have been cut off in the fighting. We can get aid through.

    And we need to be absolutely sure that it really is a cease-fire. But let’s hope this one sticks and brings some peace to that part of Syria down in the southwestern corner.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Can a cease-fire make a difference, though, when the two sides disagree about whether President Assad should stay in power? The U.S. has said that it wants him removed. The Russians are still saying they want him to stay.

    MICHAEL FALLON: Well, we don’t see any long-term future for Assad in Syria.

    This is a man who has attacked his own people, who has barrel-bombed his own people. He’s used chemical weapons against his own people. We don’t think he can be part of the long-term future of Syria.

    But what we do want to see happening is the — is all those parties that are prepared to work to a more democratic Syria working together now to bring about a new settlement. And we’re encouraging the Russia-sponsored process in Astana and the other negotiations that are going in Geneva to bring those together and see if everybody can get around the table now and plot a different future for Syria.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But can there be progress of any kind, whether it’s a cease-fire or some other sort of step forward together, when the two sides still disagree over Mr. Assad and his future?

    MICHAEL FALLON: Well, there is disagreement, yes.

    We don’t think he can be part of the long-term future of Syria. But we do want to see the political process get under way that will lead Syria to a more plural kind of government that is genuinely representative of all the different groupings in Syria.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about another troubled part of the world, and that is North Korea.

    We know that you and U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis discussed that. What can you tell us?

    MICHAEL FALLON: Well, it’s a problem not just for the United States. Obviously, the United States is coming within range of these missiles.

    But what the North Koreans have done is something illegal. It’s something provocative. And it’s unacceptable. And we have now got to respond as an international community, not just the United States. It’s not right the United States has to bear this problem on its own.

    We have got to work much harder now through the United Nations to see whether the sanctions that have already been applied are working properly, to consider additional sanctions, and, thirdly, to bring more pressure to bear on China to get the kind of changes that we need in that regime.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, as you know, President Trump has been tweeting a lot about this. He said the other day words to the effect it looks like that what the Chinese did hasn’t had any effect, they’re still trading with North Korea. Are these kinds of comments helpful?

    MICHAEL FALLON: Well, we all have to, I think, step back now and see and look very carefully at what has worked and what has not worked.

    We have had seven United Nations resolution. Clearly, a nuclear program of this kind can’t have been put together without access to the raw materials, the components involved, and indeed to the finance that you need to construct them, to put it all together.

    So, clearly, the sanctions may have been breached, and we need to look at them, see where those gaps are in the sanctions, and whether a new resolution can impose a tougher regime on North Korea or indeed on any other companies and individuals, Chinese or otherwise, who may have been helping them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there agreement between the U.S., U.K. and other nations with the same interests on what should come next with regard to North Korea?

    MICHAEL FALLON: Well, there is agreement that, first of all, we have to work this diplomatically and economically through sanctions, that we have to raise the price of what the North Koreans are doing to deter them from carrying out further tests in future.

    There’s agreement amongst us on that. And we’re all working hard on that at the United Nations in New York to move that agreement forward.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: With all due respect, though, there have been sanctions in place.

    MICHAEL FALLON: There has been sanctions, and some clearly have not been enforced. And we need to look at that. And then we need to look and see whether a new, tougher resolution is required. And we will be looking at that in the European Union framework as well over in Europe to see who may have been trading with North Korea and so on.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Russians and the Chinese have proposed that the North Koreans freeze their missile program, their nuclear program, in exchange for which the South Koreans and the United States would stop or pull back on these joint military exercises and remove the THAAD missile defense system.

    Is that any sort of a realistic proposal?

    MICHAEL FALLON: No, because it’s a false comparison.

    Military exercises or missile defense, these are legitimate things for nations to have and to do. What North Korea is doing is illegal. It’s completely illegal under the treaties, under international law. It’s a breach of United Nations resolutions. And you can’t compare it with military exercises in the South.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: One other thing I do want to ask you about, that is, President Trump’s theme yesterday. He spoke to the Polish people in Warsaw.

    And he spoke about the threat to Western civilization. He talked about it being at a risk of decline. And he asked if the West has the will to survive. Is this the sort of language that you think is going to bring the Western allies together in their fight against extremism?

    MICHAEL FALLON: We do have values in common in the West. And we do need to speak up for those values and to remember them.

    We’re being attacked in the West, not because those values have failed, but because we have been successful and we have spread some of those values around the world.

    So, that was an important message yesterday. And it was coupled, of course, with a reminder that the United States stands behind Article 5 of the NATO treaty that believes in the collective defense of NATO. If one of us is attacked, then the others must come to its help.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sir Michael Fallon, Britain’s defense secretary, thank you very much.

    MICHAEL FALLON: Thank you.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The U.S., Japan and South Korea have agreed to apply — quote — “maximum pressure” after North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile test. In a joint statement, they said they will push for a U.N. Security Council resolution to apply new sanctions on Pyongyang. But if the North — quote — “chooses the right path,” the countries stand ready to offer a brighter future.

    Experts believe the missile launched Tuesday could reach Alaska. And, today, North Korean state TV broadcast a message aimed at the U.S.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): North Korea makes it clear once again that its development of an intercontinental ballistic rocket is an option taken to defend itself. The test is a gift package addressed to none other than the U.S. The U.S. will receive more gift packages as it tries harder to destroy, by means of sanctions and pressure, the overall national power and strategic position of North Korea.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S./Japan/South Korea statement also called on nations that border North Korea to help reduce the threat. That is an unmistakable reference to Pyongyang’s closest ally, China, whose leader meets tomorrow with President Trump.

    Mr. Trump also met today with Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, and emphasized the importance of renegotiating the NAFTA trade agreement. It was the first face-to-face meeting between the pair since President Trump took office. He hailed Pena Nieto as his friend, but said that he absolutely still wants Mexico to pay for a proposed border wall between the two countries.

    In Egypt, a suicide car bombing left at least 23 soldiers dead on the Sinai Peninsula, the worst attack there in years. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the incident at a checkpoint south of Rafah.

    Meanwhile, in Iraq, ISIS fighters are still clinging to a shrinking pocket of territory in Mosul. Iraqi government forces laid out the difficulty.

    ABDUL WAHAB AL-SAADI, Lieutenant General, Iraqi Special Forces (through interpreter): We are facing challenges that slow down our operations. And that’s because the Islamic State group is using civilians as human shields, especially children and women. And that’s why we advance very slowly, because we have to protect their lives.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Also today, the Pentagon said that airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria have killed a total of more than 600 civilians. That is since the start of the anti-ISIS campaign in 2014.

    Back in this country, hiring surged more than expected in June. The Labor Department says U.S. employers added 222,000 jobs, the most in four months. But the unemployment rate ticked up slightly, from 4.3 percent to 4.4 percent, as more people looked for work. Analysts say the positive report is likely to lead to another hike in the Federal Reserve’s key interest rate.

    For now, that news drove stock prices higher on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 94 points today to close at 21414. The Nasdaq rose 63, and the S&P 500 added 15. For the week, all three indexes edged up a fraction of a percent.

    U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited the military prison at Guantanamo Bay today.  He was joined by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and by Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence.  Sessions has called Guantanamo a — quote — “perfectly acceptable place” for detaining terror suspects.

    A Justice Department spokesman said that the visit was meant to get an up-to-date understanding of current operations.

    And an influential press freedom group is criticizing a report by Republican senators about leaks of government information.  The document released yesterday which was sent to the attorney general says that leaks are harming national security.  The Committee to Protect Journalists said it seems intended to have a chilling effect, and resembles measures seen — quote — “more often in authoritarian countries.”

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It was the most highly anticipated meeting yet of the Trump presidency. For the first time since he took office, Mr. Trump was face-to-face with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

    On the agenda? Syria, North Korea, and Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election, about which there is still disagreement.

    From the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, special correspondent Ryan Chilcote reports.

    RYAN CHILCOTE: What was planned to last just over half-an-hour turned into an unexpected two hours and 15 minutes. President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin began their much anticipated face-to-face by exchanging visibly friendly greetings, given the state of U.S.-Russia relations.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We’re going to have a talk now, and obviously that will continue. But we look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States and for everybody concerned.

    And it’s an honor to be with you.

    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter): I’m delighted to be able to meet you personally, Mr. President, and I hope, as you said, our meeting will yield positive results.

    RYAN CHILCOTE: News of what was discussed came afterward from the countries’ top diplomats, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, among them, allegations that Russia meddled in the U.S. election.

    In an audio-only briefing, Tillerson said Mr. Trump brought up the issue at the outset, and said the pair had a robust and lengthy discussion.

    REX TILLERSON, U.S. Secretary of State: The president opened the meeting with President Putin by raising the concerns of the American people regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election. The two leaders agreed, though, that this is a substantial hindrance in the ability of us to move the Russian-U.S. relationship forward, and agreed to exchange further work regarding commitments of noninterference in the affairs of the United States and our democratic process, as well as those of other countries.

    RYAN CHILCOTE: Tillerson added, Putin denied any involvement.

    The Russian foreign minister offered his own account.

    SERGEI LAVROV, Foreign Minister, Russia (through interpreter): President Trump said that the campaign is already taking on a rather strange character, because during the many months that these accusations have been aired, there hasn’t been a single fact.

    President Trump has said he’s heard President Putin’s definitive statements that is not true, and that the Russian leadership didn’t intervene in the election, and that he accepts those statements.

    RYAN CHILCOTE: Yesterday, Mr. Trump conceded Russia likely played a role, but stopped short of blaming them solely for the election hack. Tillerson today said the Russians asked for proof of interference, but stressed, both leaders agreed it’s best to move on.

    REX TILLERSON: The president’s rightly focused on, how do we move forward from what may be simply an intractable disagreement at this point? And I think the relationship — and the president made this clear as well — it’s too important. And it’s too important to not find a way to move forward, not dismissing the issue in any way.

    RYAN CHILCOTE: The two leaders also discussed a cease-fire plan in place for southwestern Syria.

    REX TILLERSON: I think this is our first indication of the U.S. and Russia being able to work together in Syria, and as a result of that, we had a very lengthy discussion regarding other areas in Syria that we can continue to work together on to de-escalate the areas.

    RYAN CHILCOTE: Tillerson, though, reiterated the U.S. position that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must eventually go, something Russia has publicly opposed.

    All the while, outside today’s summit, there was no letup in massive demonstrations. Clashes between protesters and police engulfed Germany’s second largest city. Police again resorted to water cannons and tear gas to disperse crowds, and scores were arrested. German officials say more than 100 police officers have been injured.

    Meanwhile everyone here inside the G20 conference center, and, by that I mean, not just journalists, but a lot of the G20 delegations as well, are focused on trying to find out as much as they possibly can what actually was discussed behind closed doors between the presidents of the United States and Russia — Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re right, a lot of questions, Ryan, two hours and 20 minutes.

    But, first, this contradiction that is apparently there, you have the Russian foreign minister saying that President Trump accent President Putin’s denial about Russian metaling and then, as we heard, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is saying they just — they are intractably in disagreement. So, how do we read this?

    RYAN CHILCOTE: Yes, it’s an interesting one.

    The straight answer is, we really don’t know exactly what was said. The Russian foreign minister, as you pointed out, did indeed say that President Trump had accepted President Putin’s denial. Now, I thought about this. You could have theoretically accept something without concurring with the view.

    But that’s not what happened here. I listened to all of the Russian foreign minister’s comments. I have been speaking Russian for 28 years. And together with a group of six native speakers, we went through the entire statement on the issue.

    He went much further. He said, right, that President Trump has also asserted in this meeting that he hadn’t heard a single fact in the month of allegations of meddling in the election.

    Now, how does that meddle — sort of fit in with what Rex Tillerson was saying? Well, interesting, the U.S. secretary of state kind of gave us some mixed signals, didn’t he? On one the hand, he began the press conference by saying that President Trump had really pressed President Putin and pushed him on this issue, but he also said — and I quote — “The two presidents didn’t relitigate the past, that they were committed to working towards the future.”

    And it was the U.S.’ position that the best way to do that was to try in the future to win some kind of guarantee, some kind of commitment in writing from the Russians that they wouldn’t interfere in the future in U.S. domestic policy or elections.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me turn you to Syria.

    After the meeting, it was announced that the two countries have agreed on a cease-fire for a part of Syria and that ongoing civil war. What do we know about the details of that?

    RYAN CHILCOTE: So, what we know is that both the United States and Russia have been discussing this for some time. It looks like most of the agreement was worked out in advance. They signed a memorandum of understanding between Russia, the United States and Jordan that they would have a cease-fire that will begin shortly in the south in Syria, and that there would be a plan to de-escalate or lower, reduce the violence in the southwest of the country.

    The secretary of state did say that there was still a couple more meetings that were necessary, maybe another week to work out the details of who would actually be providing security on the ground.

    And I would point out that, remember, it’s not just Russia and the United States that have forces in Syria. Iran does as well. So it would be interesting to see how they fit into this agreement. And I would also point out that we have had four cease-fire agreements before this.


    Ryan, finally, so many journalists there and others watching this meeting today between the Russian and the U.S. president. What are people taking away? What did you take away from this, I mean, in terms of how they addressed — how they looked when they were together, what they said?

    RYAN CHILCOTE: Well, the body language was warm. There’s no doubt. There’s no questioning that.

    You could really see that. President Putin, for his part, when he was speaking Russian, he was very differential. He was very polite. He was very — went out of his way to be respectful, calling President Trump “Mr. President” as he addressed him.

    And then we heard from Rex Tillerson say that their chemistry was very positive, that they immediately, almost immediately took to one another. And, interestingly, I thought he also added that no one could stop the meeting, that several aides peaked in through the door to try and break up the meeting. And at one point, they even sent Melania Trump into the meeting to try and break it up, and that she too failed, and that the two presidents, despite everyone else’s wishes, went on talking for another hour because they so enjoyed the conversation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Fascinating that they ignored the first lady’s efforts to get it to stop.

    All right, Ryan Chilcote, reporting for us from Hamburg, Germany, thank you.

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    Farewell shot of Uranus' crescent as Voyager 2 departed the icy giant on  January 25, 1986. Photo by NASA

    Farewell shot of Uranus’ crescent as Voyager 2 departed the icy giant on January 25, 1986. Photo by NASA

    Voyager 2, NASA’s legendary interstellar probe, continues to deliver.

    Thirty-one years after the spacecraft cruised past Uranus, researchers have capitalized on the spacecraft’s recordings to take a fresh look at the icy giant’s magnetosphere.

    Typically, a planet’s magnetic field stays sturdy — a stalwart shield against the sun’s radiation. But Uranus’ magnetosphere swivels, switching its invisible armor on-and-off, according to new work from the Georgia Institute of Technology. While “quirky” barely begins to describe these magnetic forces, Uranus’ situation may signify the norm across the cosmos and be key to refining our search for habitable worlds.

    “The scientific community wants to go back to Uranus, in light of all these exoplanet discoveries,” Carol Paty, a Georgia Tech planetary scientist who led the project, told NewsHour. “A large fraction of these exoplanets are Uranus, Neptune in size.”

    That’s fascinating because of Uranus’ many contrasts with Earth. Our planet spins like a top, as it goes around the sun, much like the other planets in the solar system. Uranus rotates on its side like a paddle boat wheel, meaning one of its two poles face the sun for much of the year.

    Stand on Uranus’ northern hemisphere on a summer solstice, and the sun wouldn’t set. It’d circle overhead like an orb on a crib mobile. Day by day during the summer — which lasts 21 years — the sun would drop until you experienced what seemed like an Earth day, with an equal amount of daytime and nighttime, on the autumn equinox. Push forward in time, and suddenly the tilt is against you. Everyday, you see fainter and fainter hints of sun rays on the horizon, until the winter solstice, when your day and night are completely black.

    The seasons of Uranus. Image by Arizona State University

    The seasons of Uranus. Image by Arizona State University

    In 1986, Voyager 2 took a snapshot of Uranus’ magnetosphere. It, too, defied expectations.

    On Earth, the magnetosphere emanates, like from any magnet with two poles, invisible and shaped like butterfly wings. This alignment keeps the solar wind out of our atmosphere, except at the poles, where pass through the field’s cusp and mingle with the atmosphere to create auroras.

    Schematic illustration of the invisible magnetic field lines generated by the Earth, represented as a dipole magnet field. In actuality, our magnetic shield is squeezed in closer to Earth on the Sun-facing side and extremely elongated on the night-side due to the solar wind. Illustration by Peter Reid, The University of Edinburgh. Caption by NASA

    Schematic illustration of the invisible magnetic field lines generated by the Earth, represented as a dipole magnet field. In actuality, our magnetic shield is squeezed in closer to Earth on the Sun-facing side and extremely elongated on the night-side due to the solar wind. Illustration by Peter Reid, The University of Edinburgh. Caption by NASA

    But, Voyager 2 found Uranus’ magnetic fields were lopsided — its “wings” twisted off-center by 60 degrees.

    Paty wondered what this off-kilter arrangement might mean for the planet’s ability to buffer solar wind, as the planet orbits the sun and rotates through its 17-hour day. So, she and her graduate student Xin Cao built a computer simulation, based primarily on Voyager 2’s snapshot of Uranus’ magnetosphere.

    Paty and Cao’s model predicted that Uranus’ magnetosphere tumbles “very fast, like a child cartwheeling down a hill head over heels.”

    “They used a supercomputing approach, rather than a pen-and-paper approach,” said Krista Soderlund, a planetary fluid dynamicist at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics who wasn’t involved in the project. Soderlund said by doing so, the model painted a high-resolution picture of the chemical ions in Uranus atmosphere, which were detected when Voyager 2 came within 50,600 miles the planet’s clouds.

    Paty and Cao’s model predicted that Uranus’ magnetosphere tumbles “very fast, like a child cartwheeling down a hill head over heels.” As a consequence, the magnetosphere is sometimes in position to protect the planet from solar wind. At other times, it can’t. Its buffering ability switches on and off.

    This bizarre setup excites geophysicists like Soderlund because of what it might reveal about Uranus’ insides. Earth’s magnetosphere is thought to be generated by liquid metal coursing around the planet’s solid inner core. This fluid movement, called convection, is partially dictated by the Earth’s rotation and causes the metal to conduct electricity, like a dynamo. The result is a giant electromagnet and the magnetosphere.

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    Uranus’ weird magnetosphere suggests its liquid dynamo is thin and relatively close to the planet’s surface, Soderlund said. In 2013, her team argued the chemical composition of the liquid layer may also play a part, especially given Uranus’ dynamo may be composed of charged water rather than liquid metal.

    “We put out this idea that Uranus and Neptune would have a much more vigorous convection going on, that’ll be less influenced by the planet’s rotation,” Soderlund said. “You’ll have more messy convection happening in the interior, which leads to a messier magnetic field structure.”

    An infrared composite image of the two hemispheres of Uranus obtained with Keck Telescope. Photo by Lawrence Sromovsky, University of Wisconsin-Madison/W.W. Keck Observatory

    An infrared composite image of the two hemispheres of Uranus, obtained with Keck Telescope, showing the planet’s rings and 99 degree tilt. Photo by Lawrence Sromovsky, University of Wisconsin-Madison/W.W. Keck Observatory

    Soderlund and others plan to use Paty’s model to refine their assessments about Uranus.

    “It’s good timing to have this scientific study published about Uranus, at the same time NASA is looking into possibly proposing a mission to go back,” said University of Iowa space physicist George Hospodarsky, who wasn’t involved in Paty’s project. Two weeks ago, NASA and the European Space Agency completed a study about future missions to Uranus and Neptune, with an eye toward possibly sending an orbiter to the ice giants.

    Theses mission could prove whether or not Paty’s model is accurate, Hospodarsky said, but also answer a bigger question about the cosmos. He said astrophysicists have been slowly building a unified model of magnetospheres, based on data from missions to Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury and Earth.

    “That’s actually one of the reasons they do these models for some of the outer planets,” Hospodarsky said. “If you have a model, and the model is good, it should really work for Earth, Jupiter, Saturn — whatever planet you apply it to.”

    Such a model could explain why Earth’s magnetosphere is so ideal for supporting life — without it, we’d be charred to death by solar wind — or why Mars lacks one.

    That can come in handy for predicting if an exoplanet has a suitable magnetosphere for habitation, in case we ever develop the technology to visit one.

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    Illustration file picture shows a man typing on a computer keyboard in Warsaw

    Computer illustration by Kacper Pempel/Files/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Nuclear and other energy providers have been advised by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI that hackers may be trying to breach their computer systems.

    DHS said in a statement Friday that there is no threat to public safety. The agency said hackers appear to have tried to breach the business and administrative networks of the facilities. DHS did not identify the facilities.

    DHS and the FBI routinely advise the private sector of possible cyber threats to help officials protect potentially vulnerable networks.

    The statement came amid multiple news reports that nuclear and electrical power may have been targeted by hackers. Both Reuters and The New York Times have previously reported government warnings about the hacking efforts.

    The Nuclear Energy Institute said last week that no nuclear reactors were affected. Had any facilities been impacted by a cyberattack, a publicly available report would have to be made to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

    Fears of hackers targeting U.S. infrastructure, particularly nuclear facilities, have long persisted.

    David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer and director of the nuclear safety project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the nuclear safety systems are generally out of the reach of hackers in analog systems. But business and administrative systems nonetheless contain valuable information about nuclear facilities, including maintenance schedules.

    Lochbaum said hackers targeting such facilities are routinely looking for easy to access systems and information and try “to exploit (system weaknesses) and get as much information as possible.”

    Among the most serious immediate risks, beyond someone using hacked information as part of a larger physical attack, is someone targeting the offsite power grid and causing an economic disruption, Lochbaum said.

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    U.S. B-1B Lancer flies over South Korea during a joint live-fire drill

    U.S. B-1B Lancer flies over South Korea during a joint live-fire drill in this handout picture provided by South Korean Air Force and relased by Yonhap on July 8, 2017. Photo by South Korean Air Force/Yonhap via Reuters

    SEOUL, South Korea — Two U.S. bombers flew to the Korean Peninsula to join fighter jets from South Korea and Japan for a practice bombing run as part of a training mission in response to North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs, officials said Saturday.

    U.S. military officials described the mission Friday as a defensive show of force and unity from the three allied nations and said it demonstrated “the ironclad U.S. commitment to our allies.”

    “North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland,” Gen. Terrence O’ Shaughnessy, U.S. Pacific Air Forces commander, said in a statement from Pacific Air Forces. “Let me be clear: If called upon we are trained, equipped and ready to unleash the full lethal capability of our allied air forces.”

    The U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers from Andersen Air Force Base on the island of Guam conducted a 10-hour sequenced bilateral mission with South Korean and Japanese fighter jets, the statement said.

    “U.S. bombers and Republic of Korea fighters are just two of many lethal military options at our disposal,” said Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, U.S. Forces Korea deputy commander. “This mission clearly demonstrates the U.S.-ROK alliance remains prepared to use the full range of capabilities to defend and to preserve the security of the Korean Peninsula and region.”

    [Watch Video]

    When the B-1Bs reached the Korean Peninsula, they were joined by South Korean F-15 fighter jets and U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets. The B-1Bs practiced what officials called “attack capabilities” by releasing inert weapons at the Pilsung Range.

    As the bombers returned to Guam, they flew over the East China Sea with F-2 fighter jets of the Koku Jieitai, or Japan Air Self-Defense Force, the statement said.

    “The U.S.-Japan alliance and the relationship between our militaries are stronger than they have ever been,” said Lt. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez, U.S. Forces Japan commander. “We continue to train with our Japanese allies to ensure we are ready to defend ourselves from attack.”

    President Donald Trump and the leaders of South Korea and Japan, who met during the G-20 summit in Germany, issued a joint statement condemning the North’s recent test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile and calling it a global threat that demanded “maximum pressure” in response.

    READ NEXT: North Korea is making progress developing weapons. What can the U.S. do about it?

    A day earlier in Poland, Trump said the U.S. was considering “some pretty severe things” in response to North Korea’s actions. While he offered no specifics, he has not ruled out military action.

    North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said its intercontinental ballistic missile is meant to overcome U.S. hostility and enable the North to “strike the very heart of the U.S. at any given time.”

    Associated Press writer Douglass K. Daniel in Washington contributed to this report.

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    G20 leaders summit in Hamburg

    Ivanka Trump attends the Women’s Entrepreneurship Finance event during the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 8, 2017. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    HAMBURG, Germany — President Donald Trump said Saturday the U.S. would contribute $50 million to a new World Bank fund conceived by his daughter that aims to help women entrepreneurs access capital and other support.

    Ivanka Trump joined World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim on the sidelines of the Group of 20 world leaders’ summit in Hamburg, Germany, to launch the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative.

    Kim said the fund had raised more than $325 million so far for projects and programs to support women and women-led businesses by improving access to capital and markets, providing technical assistance, training and mentoring, and pushing public policy. The fund grew out of conversations between Ivanka Trump and Kim early in Trump’s administration.

    “This is not a cute little project,” Kim said during a panel discussion, arguing the effort would spur real economic growth.

    President Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke at the event, where Trump said the fund would help eliminate barriers for women to launch businesses, help transform “millions and millions of lives,” and “provide new hope to these women from countless communities all across the world.”

    “The critical investments we’re announcing today will help advance the economic empowerment of women around the world,” he said.

    The commitment comes as the Trump administration has proposed dramatic cuts to diplomatic and development funding in line with the president’s “America First” foreign policy doctrine. His proposal would cut money for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development by more than 31 percent in the budget year beginning in October. He’s also banned federal dollars from going to international groups working on issues such as HIV, AIDS and maternal and child health if they perform abortions or even provide information on the procedure.

    The president has been criticized for crude remarks he’s made about women over the years, including a recent tweet focusing on a television news host’s appearance. Trump’s senior staff is dominated by men, despite the considerable influence of Ivanka Trump, who serves as a senior White House adviser.

    READ NEXT: After crude tweet about TV host Mika Brzezinski, Trump faces backlash from lawmakers

    In addition to the U.S., Germany and Canada, the new fund has also received contributions from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Australia, China, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, and South Korea.

    During his 2016 campaign, Trump frequently criticized rival Hillary Clinton’s ties to her family’s Clinton Foundation, which received millions in donations from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and several other Mideast nations for charitable work.

    During an October general election debate in Las Vegas, Trump demanded that Clinton “give back the money you’ve taken from certain countries that treat certain groups of people so terrible.”

    He said then: “Saudi Arabia giving $25 million, Qatar, all of these countries. You talk about women and women’s rights? So these are people that push gays off … buildings. These are people that kill women and treat women horribly. And yet you take their money.”

    Officials stressed that Ivanka Trump will not have an operational or fundraising role with the fund, which will be run by a governing committee of contributors.

    Trump also took the opportunity to praise Ivanka Trump, who at one point Saturday was spotted sitting in her father’s seat at an official G-20 event after he had left the room.

    Trump said he’d been proud of her since “day one,” and offered a rare, self-deprecating assessment of the challenges he’s added to her life.

    “If she weren’t my daughter, it would be so much easier for her,” he said with laugh, adding: “That might be the only bad thing she has going, if you want to know the truth.”

    Ivanka Trump has faced sustained criticism from opponents of her father who’d hoped she would be able to push him to adopt more moderate policies. Many have labeled her “complicit” in his agenda.

    Colvin reported from Washington.

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    voter fraud

    A ballot is placed into a locked ballot box by a poll worker as people line-up to vote early at the San Diego County Elections Office in San Diego, California, on November 7, 2016. Photo By Mike Blake/Reuters

    INDIANAPOLIS — State election officials from across the U.S. are gathering this weekend amid an uproar over a White House commission investigating allegations of voter fraud and heightened concern about Russian attempts to interfere with last fall’s election.

    That’s drawn an unusual spotlight to the gathering of the National Association of Secretaries of State, which kicked-off Friday in Indianapolis and will host officials from 37 states.

    Security of election systems is sure to be a major point of discussion and will be the subject of a series of closed-door meetings Saturday.

    The Department of Homeland Security last fall said hackers believed to be Russian agents targeted voter registration systems in more than 20 states. A leaked National Security Agency document from May said Russian military intelligence had attempted to hack into voter registration software used in eight states.

    There is no indication so far that voting or ballot counting was affected, but officials are concerned that the Russians may have gained knowledge that could help them disrupt future elections.

    READ NEXT: A Trump commission requested voter data. Here’s what every state is saying.

    Election integrity will be another hot button.

    The conference lands one week after the commission investigating President Donald Trump’s allegations of election fraud requested voter information from all 50 states, drawing blowback from Republicans and Democrats alike. The request seeks dates of birth, partial Social Security numbers, addresses, voting histories, military service and other information about every voter in the country.

    Trump has repeatedly stated without proof that he believes millions of fraudulent ballots were cast in the November election, when he carried the Electoral College but lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    The commission was launched to investigate those claims and is being chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who sent the request. A spokeswoman said Kobach, a Republican, will not attend the weekend conference.

    What remains unclear is what exactly the hodgepodge of data will be used for. Pence spokesman Marc Lotter said the commission will look for potential irregularities in voter registrations and advise states on how they can improve their practices.

    “This is all publicly available data that’s out there already,” Lotter said, noting that the information is provided in most places to political parties and other groups.

    [Watch Video]

    But many secretaries of state, of both parties, say all or parts of the requested data are not public in their states. Others are skeptical of the commission’s intent, raising concerns that the information could be used to justify stringent new voter security procedures that could make it more difficult for people to cast a ballot.

    Some Democrats have said the commission is merely trying to provide cover for Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

    “I hope we get answers to some of this, because I do think that this is an odd time to be forming a national database of some kind if we’re so concerned about security,” Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, a Democrat, said Friday.

    The U.S. does not have a federalized voting system. Instead, the process is decentralized, with 9,000 voting jurisdictions and more than 185,000 individual precincts. Officials believe that actually makes it difficult for hackers to have any sizable effect on the vote.

    Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have said they will refuse to provide the information sought by the commission. The other states are undecided or will provide just some of the data, according to a tally of every state by The Associated Press.

    Election officials in many of the states that are refusing to provide the information objected to the commission’s mission and say voter fraud is not a widespread problem. Others are citing privacy concerns.

    South Carolina’s election commission says state law forbids releasing the information to anyone who is not a voter in the state.

    Some state officials, such as Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a Republican, say they don’t understand the concerns. Ashcroft said he is bound by state law that limits how much information he can release; the data he can turn over includes names, addresses and birth dates.

    “Do I think that this is a case where there are politicians grandstanding? Of course,” Ashcroft said. “As a statewide official, I am not allowed to apply the law differently because I like you or dislike you.”

    Associated Press writer Geoff Mulvihill in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, contributed.

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on during a news conference at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany

    Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on during a news conference at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 8, 2017. Photo by Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters

    HAMBURG, Germany — Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed his first face-to-face meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, saying Saturday he thinks Trump accepted his assurances that Russia didn’t meddle in the U.S. presidential election and that their conversation could be a model for improving ties between the two countries.

    Speaking to reporters after the two-day Group of 20 summit in Germany ended, Putin said he and Trump had a long discussion about the allegations of Russian interference in last year’s election that have dogged Trump’s presidency.

    The Russian leader said he reiterated his “well-known” position that “there are no grounds” for the allegations.

    “He asked many questions on the subject, I tried to answer them all,” Putin said. “It seems to me that he has taken note of that and agreed, but it’s better to ask him about his attitude.”

    Putin said his answers were detailed and covered his discussions on the election meddling issue with representatives of the previous administration, including former President Barack Obama. But he would not reveal details of his exchange with Trump, saying the conversation was confidential.

    “He asked questions, I replied. It seemed to me that he was satisfied with the answers,” Putin said.

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    The Russian president said that a working group on cybersecurity he and Trump agreed to create should help prevent such election controversies in the future.

    “What is important is that we agreed that there should be no uncertainty in that sphere,” he said. “We agreed with the U.S. president to create a working group and work jointly on how to ensure cyberspace security, how to ensure the fulfillment of international legal norms in that sphere and prevent meddling in internal affairs of Russia and the U.S. We believe that if we work that way, and I have no reason to doubt it, there will be no such allegations.”

    Putin also praised Trump as a strong negotiator who quickly grasps various issues.

    “As for relations on personal level, I believe we have established them,” Putin said. “Trump’s T.V. persona differs sharply from the real man. He is a very straightforward person, grasps precisely what his interlocutor says, quickly analyzes and responds to questions or new elements of the discussion.”

    The Russian leader said his talks with Trump offered a model for rebuilding Russia-U.S. ties, which have plummeted to post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and other disputes.

    “I think that if we develop our relations in the same way, there is every reason to believe that we would be able to at least partially restore the level of interaction that we need,” Putin said.

    He particularly hailed the U.S.-Russian deal on a cease-fire in southwestern Syria announced Friday as a step toward ending the hostilities.

    Jim Heintz contributed to this story from Moscow.

    The post Putin hails meeting, thinks Trump accepted election denials appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Alton Sterling near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Alton Sterling near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

    A personal injury lawyer filed a federal lawsuit on Friday, claiming that Black Lives Matter and its leaders are responsible for the wounding of a police officer by a lone shooter after protests in Baton Rouge one year ago.

    The lawsuit names five front-runners of the movement as defendants, including Alicia Garza and Johnetta “Netta” Elzie, but fixates on social media posts and television interviews by Deray Mckesson as evidence that they support and cause violence. It’s asking for $75,000 on behalf of an unnamed officer who was shot three times and permanently disabled during an attack that also killed three police officers on July 17.

    Gavin Long, the shooter who was killed by police that day, was an ex-Marine from Kansas City, thought to be seeking revenge after two white officers shot and killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man. Louisiana State Police detectives recently stated that Long had not joined in any of the protests in Baton Rouge or elsewhere, according to local reports.

    But Sterling was killed on July 5, and the bulk of the 28-page filing claims that protests often led by Mckesson that weekend and beforehand were what caused Long to ambush police more than a week later.

    Citing what Black Lives Matter referred to as a “Weekend of Rage,” it details protesters throwing rocks and getting arrested, claiming that Mckesson was “inciting lawless actions … and did nothing to stop the criminal conduct.”

    “DeRay McKesson was present during the protests and he did nothing to calm the crowd and, instead, he incited the violence on behalf of [Black Lives Matter],” the filing states.

    But the connection is unclear. While the suit lists several protests since the movement started around 2012 to rail against killings of black people, including at the hands of white police, it does not point to any time defendants explicitly encouraged a shooting.

    READ NEXT: Column: White people don’t understand the trauma of viral police-killing videos

    A First Amendment lawyer described the case as “bizarre” to the NewsHour, saying it looks more like a fishing expedition than a legitimate claim.

    David Roland, the director of litigation at the Freedom Center of Missouri, also said that is “extremely unsettling.”

    “I think the lawsuit first and foremost was intended to be a shot across the bow to anyone who has been publicly critical of police,” said Roland. “It’s saying, ‘Unless you expressly disavow tactics that we don’t like, we’re going to come after you, we’re going to destroy you in court.’”

    Roland likened the motivation behind the suit to the Ironclad Oath, which during the Civil War would only allow certain employment rights to people who took an oath disowning the Confederacy.

    “If you did not explicitly disavow the actions of the Confederates, then you violated the oath and were ineligible to work,” he said. “It’s actually the same principle being applied here.”

    This is at least the third lawsuit to follow the protests in Baton Rouge after Sterling’s death.

    Mckesson and other activist leaders have since settled one with Baton Rouge that claims the arrests that weekend were unreasonable and unconstitutionally vague, violating their civil rights.

    And Donna Grodner, the lead lawyer in the suit filed Friday who said she was unauthorized to discuss the case, is also involved in another case against Black Lives Matter and Mckesson on behalf of an officer who was hit by debris during the protest.

    Though that suit, filed in November, does not directly accuse Mckesson of throwing anything, it says he arrived to Baton Rouge with the intention to “incite others to violence against police.”

    In March, Mckesson’s attorney, William Gibbens, asked the U.S. district court judge to dismiss the case for relying too heavily on speculative allegations. The request was denied. Local media reported that the judge said a key question is “whether, under Louisiana law, Black Lives Matter is capable of suing and being sued,” a decision that he has yet to make.

    But apart from that legal question, Roland was more worried about damage to freedom of speech. While suggesting that the suit filed Friday would be thrown out because it failed to make a connection between the activists and the shooting of an officer, he also pointed out the burden of proof is lesser in civil cases than in criminal.

    “It’s easier to dissuade protests, to chill speech, using the threat of a civil suit at least in some ways,” he said. “It can’t result in someone going to jail, but it can result in them being bankrupt.”

    Mckesson was active on Twitter but had not mentioned anything about the suit as of Saturday afternoon.

    Omar Etman contributed reporting.

    The post Baton Rouge officer wounded by lone shooter sues Black Lives Matter appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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