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

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    WASHINGTON — A Russian lawyer tells NBC’s “Today” show that she was summoned to Trump Tower during last year’s presidential campaign to meet with Donald Trump Jr. and asked if she had information on the Clinton campaign. The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, told NBC she received a phone call from a man she didn’t know and was told to meet with the Trump campaign. She says she didn’t have information on the Clinton campaign and has never worked for the Russian government.

    NBC’s “Today” and MSNBC aired an interview of the lawyer on Tuesday. It’s her first public comment since Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged that he made time for the meeting hoping to get information on Clinton, his father’s Democratic presidential opponent.

    READ MORE: Trump Jr. admits he wanted info on Clinton from Russian

    Veselnitskaya says Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, attended the meeting but left after a few minutes. Paul Manafort, then Trump’s campaign chairman, also attended but never participated and spent much of the meeting on his phone. It wasn’t clear from the NBC report who in the meeting asked her for information.

    On Clinton, she says through a translator: “It’s quite possible they were looking for information. They wanted it so badly.”

    WATCH: Why Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting to discuss damaging Clinton info matters

    The post Russian lawyer describes meeting with Donald Trump Jr. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FILE PHOTO - Donald Trump Jr. arrives at Trump Tower in New York City, U.S. January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith/File Photo TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX3AREZ

    Donald Trump Jr. arrives at Trump Tower in New York City, U.S. January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith/File Photo

    WASHINGTON — Donald Trump Jr. eagerly accepted help from what was described to him as a Russian government effort to aid his father’s campaign with damaging information about Hillary Clinton, according to emails he released publicly on Tuesday.

    The email exchange posted to Twitter by President Donald Trump’s eldest son shows him conversing with a music publicist who wanted him to meet with a lawyer from Moscow. The publicist describes the lawyer as a “Russian government attorney” who has dirt on Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” In one response, Trump Jr. says he would “love” to hear more.

    Trump Jr., who was deeply involved in his father’s presidential campaign, released the emails along with a statement describing the disclosure as an effort “to be totally transparent.” The emails with publicist Rob Goldstone show that Trump Jr. was told that the Russian government had information that could “incriminate” Clinton and her dealings with Russia.

    The messages were the latest disclosure to roil the ongoing investigation into potential coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia, which U.S. intelligence agencies have said sought to influence the outcome of the election in Trump’s favor. As congressional committees and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, investigate, the emails will almost certainly be reviewed for any signs of potential campaign collusion with the Kremlin, which the White House has repeatedly denied.

    Mueller spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment on the emails, citing the ongoing investigation.

    [READ MORE: Here is Donald Trump Jr.’s just released email chain on Russia meeting]

    The White House didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Vice President Mike Pence wasn’t aware of the meeting, his spokesman Marc Lotter said in a statement that stressed the meeting took place before he was part of the campaign.

    The actions described in Trump Jr.’s emails brought swift and firm reaction from Democrats, including a key member of the Senate intelligence committee.

    “These emails show there is no longer a question of whether this campaign sought to collude with a hostile foreign power to subvert America’s democracy,” said Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.

    In the emails, Goldstone wrote to Trump Jr. that the information “would be very useful to your father.” Goldstone was working to connect Trump Jr. to Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, who later met with Trump Jr. in New York at Trump Tower. Veselnitskaya has denied that she ever worked for the Russian government.

    “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. replied to Goldstone in one of a series of email exchanges the younger Trump posted to Twitter.

    The emails, dated early June, show Goldstone telling Trump that singer Emin Agalarov and his father, Moscow-based developer Aras Agalarov, had “helped along” the Russian government’s support for Trump. The elder Agalarov was involved with Trump in hosting the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. The two men also had preliminary discussions about building a Trump Tower in Moscow that fell through. Trump also appeared in a music video with the younger Agalarov.

    In his email, Goldstone says that the “Crown prosecutor of Russia” offered to provide the information on Clinton to the Trump campaign in a meeting with Aras Agalarov. There is no such royal title in the Russian Federation, but Goldstone — who is British — may have been referring to the title given to state prosecutors in the United Kingdom.

    In Russia, the top justice official is Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, the equivalent of the attorney general in the United States. Chaika is longtime confidant of Vladimir Putin who was directly appointed by the Russian president.

    [READ MORE: Donald Trump Jr. retains New York-based lawyer]

    Representatives for the Agalarovs didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Attempts to reach Chaika at his office Tuesday were unsuccessful.

    In one of the emails, Goldstone said he could send the information about Clinton to Trump’s father first directly “via Rhona,” an apparent reference to the elder Trump’s longtime assistant, Rhona Graff, from his days at the helm of the Trump Organization.

    The email release followed days of evolving accounts from Trump Jr. about the nature of the meeting and its purpose. The president’s son posted the emails only after they were obtained by The New York Times.

    On Saturday, Trump Jr. described the encounter as being a “short introductory meeting” focused on the disbanded program that had allowed American adoptions of Russian children. Moscow ended the adoptions in response to Magnitsky Act sanctions created in response to alleged human rights violations in Russia.

    A day later, Trump Jr. changed his account, acknowledging that he was told beforehand that Veselnitskaya might have information “helpful” to the Trump campaign, and was told by her during the meeting that she had something about Clinton.

    In his third description of what occurred, on Tuesday, Trump Jr. said he had believed the information he would hear about Clinton would be political opposition research. He said that he first wanted to speak by phone, but that when that didn’t work out, he was told that the attorney would be in New York “and I decided to take the meeting.”

    “The woman, as she has said publicly, was not a government official,” Trump Jr. said in the Tuesday statement. “And, as we have said, she had no information to provide and wanted to talk about adoption policy and the Magnitsky Act.”

    The Trump Organization has confirmed the authenticity of Trump Jr. posts on Twitter releasing the email chain.

    ___

    Associated Press writers Chad Day and Eric Tucker wrote this report. Nekesa Mumbi Moody in New York, Julie Bykowicz and Michael Biesecker in Washington, and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed.

    The post Trump Jr. says in emails he’d ‘love’ to see Russian info on Clinton appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Specific lifestyle behaviors -- such as sticking to a Mediterranean-like diet and not smoking -- may dictate a person's ability to live without a caregiver into their late 80s. Photo by Sondem/via Adobe

    Specific lifestyle behaviors — such as sticking to a Mediterranean-like diet and not smoking — may dictate a person’s ability to live without a caregiver into their late 80s. Photo by Sondem/via Adobe

    Want to stay out of a nursing home in your twilight years? Put down that hot dog.

    A new study outlines which aspects of a healthy lifestyle predict independent living late in life. While physical activity and living with someone else can factor into reaching old age, specific behaviors — such as sticking to a Mediterranean-like diet and not smoking — may dictate a person’s ability to live without a caregiver into their late 80s, according to research published Friday in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Experts told NewsHour such guidelines for keeping the elderly mobile are invaluable as the geriatric population continues to grow.

    “Preserved independence is highly valued by very old individuals,” Kristin Franzon, a geriatrician and the study’s lead author, told NewsHour via email. In the beginning, her team wanted to know if there was anything people could do to maintain independence as they age, or if dependence is an unavoidable part of getting old.

    Her 16-year study at Uppsala University followed a cohort of Swedish men as they became octogenarians. Franzon started her investigation in 2011, but relied on data from the the Uppsala Longitudinal Study of Adult Men (ULSAM) — an ongoing project begun in 1970, when its participants were 50 years old.

    Approximately 1,100 participants from ULSAM fit the bill for Franzon’s study, though some chose not to participate or didn’t meet the benchmark for independent living at the start. Over the next 16 years, a portion of the men also passed away or dropped out due to severe illness. To qualify as independent, the men had to meet rigorous standards. The men had to be able to bathe, toilet and dress themselves, and walk alone outdoors until the age of 87. They also had to pass a mental state examination, could not be institutionalized or have dementia.

    In the end, 369 men completed the final study — 276 counted as independent agers, while 93 lived co-dependent lifestyles.

    This cohort underwent a series of tests during medical checkups. The men were queried on their physical activity, education level, smoking habits and whether or not they lived alone. When they could make it to the clinic, nurses gave them a full physical, looking at health indicators like height, weight, waist circumference, blood pressure, blood glucose, insulin and cholesterol.

    Participants also kept food diaries. Those records were scored based on how well their diets conformed to a modified Mediterranean diet — meaning it was adapted for a typical Swede. Typically, a Mediterranean diet emphasizes fish, cereals, polyunsaturated fatty acids, fruits and vegetables. For the Swedes in the study, their diets did not contain a lot of olive oil or nuts, while potatoes counted as a grain.

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    Out of all this information came three traits associated with independent aging: never having smoked, a waistline under 40 inches and a high adherence to the Mediterranean-like diet.

    “As far as we know, this is the first study to show an association between high adherence to a Mediterranean-like diet and preserved independence at a very old age,” Franzon said. Other traits, including physical activity and cohabitation, are only associated with longevity.

    But these lifestyle recommendations may not translate for everyone. Given that the men are of similar age and ethnicity provides consistency, but at the same time, limits how applicable the findings are to a broader population.

    The study is also only in men. Women have more difficulty than men with everyday tasks as they get older, said Anne Newman, an epidemiologist at the University of Pittsburgh and former geriatrician who was not involved in the study.

    Newman also noted that some participants didn’t complete every part of the survey — some became too infirm to visit the clinics, for instance — so it’s likely the results are slightly reflective of healthier individuals. Franzon acknowledges this limitation, too. Her team’s report notes that it’s possible the trends they see would be stronger if there had been less bias toward a healthier population.

    Even though the study is small, it’s unique in that it looks at how well seniors are living and not just how long, Newman said. It’s also rare and remarkable, she added, for a study to start at a young age and then follow participants over such a long period of time.

    As the geriatric population continues to grow, Newman stressed that more work is needed to understand what will keep people active.

    People are living longer, but not everyone has a family capable of the emotional and economic burdens of caregiving. For some of the elderly, nursing homes mean boredom and neglect, while other seniors view successful aging as maintaining independence.

    Frazon’s research pinpoints the behaviors that might help. So, are you swapping that hot dog for veggies yet?

    The post How to stay out of a nursing home and age independently appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez rallies with protesters against U.S. President Donald Trump's firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey, outside the White House in Washington, U.S. May 10, 2017.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTS161NA

    Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez at a rally outside the White House on May 10, 2017. Perez has sworn frequently in public speeches since taking over the DNC earlier this year. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    Last month, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., bluntly summed up the Democratic Party’s goals under President Donald Trump.

    “If we’re not helping people,” Gillibrand told an audience at a New York University forum, “we should go the f**k home.”

    Earlier this year, newly-elected Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez didn’t mince words when assessing the White House budget proposal. It’s a “s**tty budget,” Perez said in a speech in Maine, part of a cross-country tour that included several expletive-laced speeches.

    In the aftermath of Mr. Trump’s victory in the 2016 election, a growing number of Democrats have begun cursing in public, using language that in the past was reserved for private conversations away from voters and the media.

    The trend isn’t entirely unprecedented, of course. In 2010, then-Vice President Joe Biden famously let an expletive slip during the White House signing ceremony for the Affordable Care Act. But the rise in examples of public cursing from Gillibrand, Perez, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and other Democrats marks a sharp departure from the usual language used by politicians on the left in recent decades.

    The shift seems to be a reaction, at least in part, to Trump’s crass tone as a candidate, which may have paved the way for a new age of political incorrectness. Whatever the reason, the rhetoric of Democrats in the Trump era, including that of rumored 2020 hopefuls like Gillibrand and Harris, is a break from former President Barack Obama’s professorial language and Hillary Clinton’s focus group-tested remarks, representing instead a tone that’s angrier — and perhaps more authentic.

    The political atmosphere has changed since “the anomaly of Donald Trump swearing and getting away with it,” Indiana University English professor Michael Adams said.

    “Swearing has been in public spaces over the past few decades,” Adams added. Until recently, “in political discourse, people thought you needed dignity, and some voters would object to profanity.”

    That changed during the 2016 election, when Trump used crass and politically incorrect language to send a signal to voters that he was an outsider figure, said Jennifer Mercieca, a communications professor at Texas A&M University.

    “His whole argument as a candidate was that he wasn’t corrupt, and he knew he wasn’t corrupt, because he used politically incorrect language” as one way to differentiate himself from establishment politicians who followed traditional political norms, Mercieca said.

    Trump may have been onto something. His language on the campaign trail — and its positive reception by supporters — fits neatly into the well-known sociolinguistic theory of “overt” and “covert” prestige.

    The theory holds that individuals use standard, widely accepted language to gain recognition and status — or “overt” prestige, in linguistics jargon — with a wide group of people. In a field like politics, that means using politically correct language that appeals to the broadest swath of voters and offends the fewest — and that’s what traditional politicians do.

    On the other hand, individuals seeking “covert” prestige with a smaller, specific group of people use language geared toward that audience — language that might offend society at large. Politicians often seek covert prestige by using “local political dialect” to appeal to certain voters, Adams said.

    “Bill Clinton could speak in a fairly statesperson-like way, but [when] he was talking to people in a small town in Louisiana, he would talk like those people,” Adams said.

    Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listens during their third and final 2016 presidential campaign debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 19, 2016. Photo by Joe Raedle/REUTERS

    Then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the third 2016 presidential debate. Mr. Trump use curse words frequently on the campaign trail. File photo by Joe Raedle/REUTERS

    During his presidential campaign, Trump stood out in a crowded Republican field by working profanity into his speeches.

    In a November 2015 speech in Iowa, Trump called the press “scum” and “garbage,” and announced his plans to “bomb the s**t out of ISIS.”

    In a speech leading up to New Hampshire’s Republican primary, Trump said companies that move overseas for lower tax rates “can go f**k themselves.” In the same speech, he attempted to draw a contrast between Obama’s work ethic and his own, saying that as president he’d abstain from golfing and instead“stay in the White House and work [his] a** off.”

    Trump’s primary opponents adopted his tone and coarser language in their stump speeches and press interviews in a futile attempt to catch up to him in the polls. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said the idea of increasing phone surveillance after a 2015 Paris terrorist attack was “bulls**t.” During an MSNBC “Morning Joe” appearance before he bowed out of the race, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called Trump “crazy as hell.”

    Since taking office, Trump has yet to curse in public, though he has often taken to Twitter to air his grievances. Nevertheless, longtime political observers said Trump’s language was part of a broader cultural shift.

    There’s a long history of presidents using crude language, but it was mostly done in private.

    “Trump follows a long line of coarsening in culture in general, whether in music or comedy or movies,” said Floyd Ciruli, a Colorado-based pollster. “I didn’t expect it to jump into politics, especially at the highest level.”

    There’s a long history of presidents using crude language, but it was mostly done in private. President Richard Nixon was captured swearing often on tape in the Oval Office, but he assumed the conversations wouldn’t be made public. President Lyndon Johnson had choice words for his advisors — and tailors — but they rarely made their way out of the White House.

    “Being polite was the default of politicians,” Chris Hayden, the director of communications for the liberal Center for American Progress, said. “Our president has completely thrown that out the window.”

    As a result, Democrats now feel more comfortable getting looser with their language since there “aren’t severe ramifications for the totally out-of-bound things [Trump] has said,” Hayden added.

    Hayden said the change could be good for the party because voters like it when “politicians can talk like normal people.” “It demystifies that Washington politician,” Hayden said.

    With Democrats in the minority in Congress, “I think there’s a general sense that you have to show passion, resistance to all of these issues” that liberals oppose, Ciruli said. “Making the language basic and more profane demonstrates that.”

    Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks at a ceremony where children were sworn in as U.S. Citizens on the deck of the USS Iowa Museum in Los Angeles, California, U.S., July 3, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni - RTS19N0T

    Senator Kamala Harris, D-Calif., at a ceremony in Los Angeles on July 3, 2017. Harris and other Democrats have grabbed headlines by dropping curse words in public in recent months. Photo by REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

    In May, during a guest appearance on the popular podcast “Pod Save America,” Harris grabbed headlines by offering an unusually candid response for a U.S. senator to Rep. Raul Labrador’s, R-Idaho, claim that “nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”

    “What the f**k is that?” Harris said. Her reaction to the House health care bill was not an anomaly. The New York Times reported that the freshman senator is no stranger to curse words.

    But Mercieca warns that Democrats need to be careful when using crude language. It can work when trained at unpopular legislation, but can backfire if it’s used to disparage other politicians, she said.

    There are plenty of recent examples of lawmakers’ profane comments misfiring.

    On the Senate floor in 2004, then-Vice President Dick Cheney told Sen. Patrick Leahy D-Vt., to go “f**k yourself,” a comment that did not sit well with Senate Democrats.

    While speaking at an event in New Orleans last weekend, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., ripped into Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s credentials to run the department. Waters said she planned to “take his ass apart” when Carson testified before the House Committee on Financial Services, where she is the ranking Democrat.

    The comment drew heavy criticism from conservatives, suggesting that coarse language by lawmakers may rally their party’s base, but doesn’t necessarily boost bipartisanship.

    Democrats will need to figure out the right balance between laying down a well-placed curse word to prove a political point, and coming across as just plain vulgar.

    Carolyn Lukensmeyer, the executive director for the National Institute for Civil Discourse, said that by electing Trump, voters clearly rejected political correctness. Still, Americans don’t want profanity to become commonplace in political speech, she said.

    “The public does not want this type of political correctness where politicians talk out of two sides of their mouths,” Lukensmeyer said. “But also, they aren’t ready for politicians to use swear words or degraded language about other groups of people.”

    Polling bears this out. According to a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey, seven in 10 Americans think civility in Washington has gotten worse since Trump was elected. A January poll by the public relations firm Weber-Shandwick found that nearly eight in 10 Americans believed the 2016 election was uncivil. In the same poll, a majority of Trump and Clinton voters — 72 percent and 81 percent, respectively — said that “incivility has risen to crisis levels.”

    “[There is] absolutely no question political discourse and everyday discourse has been profoundly degraded,” Lukensmeyer said.

    What that means for Democrats who are cursing more frequently remains to be seen, said Hayden of the Center for American Progress. Voters will respond to politicians who show more visceral anger, but Democrats will need to figure out the right balance between laying down a well-placed curse word to prove a political point, and coming across as just plain vulgar.

    “That’s the line that we draw,” he said. The question is, are Americans “smart enough to make the distinction.”

    The post What the #$@! Democrats are swearing more. Here’s why appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff speaks to reporters about the appointment of a Special Counsel in the Russia investigations on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Zach Gibson - RTX36AZY

    House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. May 17, 2017. Credit: REUTERS/Zach Gibson

    At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Adam Schiff, D- Calif., addressed the email chain Donald Trump Jr. released Tuesday about his meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer to discuss damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

    The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee called the emails “very significant, deeply disturbing new public information about direct contacts between Russia and the very center of the Trump family, campaign and organization.”

    Schiff also said that the meeting may have been a “testing of the waters by the Russians to see if the campaign would be receptive to their engagement and involvement” in the election.

    The emails, he said, “I think, made quite clear that the Russian government had possession of damaging information” about Clinton, and that they approached Trump Jr. “to test whether Donald Trump wanted this information.”

    Schiff said that, when approached by a foreign government offering to interfere with the presidential election, Trump Jr. should have reported it to the FBI.

    Watch the full news conference below:

    [READ MORE: Read Donald Trump Jr.’s just released email chain on Russia meeting]

    [READ MORE: Why Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting to discuss damaging Clinton info matters]

    The post Rep. Adam Schiff calls Trump Jr. emails ‘very significant, deeply disturbing’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti and Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo gesture during the press conference after the voting at the IOC extraordinary session in Lausanne, Switzerland July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy - RTX3B0XS

    International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti and Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo gesture after the voting at the IOC extraordinary session in Lausanne, Switzerland July 11, 2017. Credit: REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

    Paris and Los Angeles are both poised to host the Summer Olympics within the upcoming decade, in 2024 and 2028, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agreed in principle Tuesday.

    The IOC made the announcement at the SwissTech Convention Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland.

    “Ensuring the stability of the Olympic Games for 11 years is something extraordinary,” IOC President Thomas Bach said at the press conference. “That is why we say this is a great day for the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement, and it’s a great day also for these two wonderful cities, these two great Olympic cities.”

    Los Angeles and Paris are the only two remaining cities bidding for the 2024 Summer Olympics. In recent years, fewer cities have requested to host the international event because of the high costs associated with bidding and hosting the games.

    On June 9th, in an unprecedented move, the IOC approved a rule change that allowed it to choose the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympic host cities simultaneously.

    “I think it’s a great opportunity to keep these two big birds in our hand,” Bach said in June. “There is clearly a win-win-win situation. That means for the two cities and for the IOC.”

    The committee has not indicated which city will host the games in which year, but 2024 would mark the 100th anniversary of the 1924 Paris Olympics. Granting Paris the Olympics earlier could also serve as a marketing tool to convince other European cities to bid for 2032 and 2036, Bach said.

    The IOC has also promised to reform its arduous and costly bidding process in an effort to attract more potential host cities.

    A number of cities, including Boston and Budapest, withdrew their bids this year for the 2024 Summer Olympics because of the financial burden. It costs on average $8.9 billion to host the Olympic games, according to a 2016 Oxford University study.

    The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, served as a stark reminder of the steep costs. It was estimated to cost $11 billion to host the games, according to a Forbes report.

    David Goldblatt, an expert in sports sociology and author of “The Games: A Global History of the Olympics” told CNBC it could cost Brazil even more — as much as $20 billion.

    Paris and Los Angeles may not face the same costs because both cities already have the infrastructure, stadiums and other venues in place to host large crowds and numerous sports events.

    “In Olympic history there’s only been 37 times in which there has been a tie for a gold medal. Maybe today is the 38th,” Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti said. “For Los Angeles, it’s a golden opportunity, one that we don’t take lightly.”

    The Summer Olympics would generate about $18 million overall for the U.S. and $11 million for Los Angeles, according to their proposed plan estimates. It would also create 75,000 jobs and develop $5 billion in additional wages.

    If Paris were awarded the games, ninety-five percent of the venues would be existing or temporary, according to a proposal the city submitted to the IOC. A newly-built paralympic village would become 1,500 new homes, and spectators would rely heavily on public transportation.

    “I am fully committed with the Paris team to putting all my energy, our creativity and my resolve into reaching an agreement for Paris to experience once again this Olympic adventure that it has been longing for for 100 years,” Paris Mayor Hidalgo said.

    The question that everyone is asking is which year either city will host.

    The vote to decide the 2024 and 2028 Olympic bid will be on September 13 in Lima, Peru.

    The post Paris and Los Angeles poised to host upcoming Summer Olympics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Since her nomination as U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos has become one of the more polarizing figures in the Trump Cabinet, often over school choice.

    But her early tenure marks a big departure from her predecessors when it comes to higher education and student loans.

    And that’s the focus of our Making the Grade conversation tonight.

    Jeffrey Brown has more.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Late in the Obama administration, new rules were established to allow student borrowers to have their debt erased if they’d been victims of fraud by for-profit schools.

    But as the new rules were set to take effect this month, the new administration called for a freeze, with Secretary DeVos saying they were created in a — quote — “muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools.”

    Days ago, 18 states and the District of Columbia responded to that with a lawsuit challenging the Education Department.

    The freeze is just one in a series of moves by the new administration that take a different approach to student loans from its predecessor.

    Anya Kamenetz covers education for NPR, and joins us now.

    So, Anya, first, remind us the extent of this problem, of students on the hook with loans to for-profit colleges and all the criticisms of predatory practices.

    ANYA KAMENETZ, NPR: So, for-profit colleges at their height enrolled about one in 10 students nationwide, and they’re not just your old cosmetology school.

    These are national and in many cases online programs that targeted working families. Now, without painting the entire sector with the same brush, we did see over the last decade many, many different actions against for-profit colleges, accusing them of predatory and fraudulent treatment.

    And there were two large colleges that shut down in the last two years, Corinthian and ITT Tech, with collectively tens of thousands of students.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, so I mentioned the Obama administration, they put in rules to address the problem, and they created a so-called borrower defense. Explain that.

    ANYA KAMENETZ: So, borrower defense to repayment had been a law on the books for a while. And it was sort of a case-by-case ability or pathway for a borrower who had been defrauded by a college to be able to escape their loans.

    And what happened was, with tens of thousands of students affected by the ITT Tech and Corinthian shutdown, there was a real need to clarify and to simplify that regulation. And so, after a very long negotiated public process, borrower defense to repayment was put in place.

    And basically what it said was that students could have their repayment automated, they wouldn’t have to apply case by case. And it included a really important clause that students wouldn’t have to agree to waive their rights through arbitration, so that when — you know, many of these for-profit colleges had a rule on the books that when you applied, you said, we’re not — I’m not going to sue you and I agree to arbitration.

    And that’s something that borrower defense included as well, which is pretty important here.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, so that was supposed to go into effect on July 1. Betsy DeVos put that on hold.

    What is her argument? And then, of course, the states jumped in with a lawsuit. So what’s the counterargument?

    ANYA KAMENETZ: So, we should mention that, in addition to pressing pause or hitting reset on borrowed defense to repayment, which is like the remedy, Betsy DeVos also has rolled back something called gainful employment, which you might think of as the prevention.

    And gainful employment also regulates for-profit colleges and other career programs based on the debt-to-income ratio of their students. So, with those two in mind, the lawsuit essentially says that it’s a violation of law for the Education Department to unilaterally strike down this rule after this very, very long and public negotiation process.

    And with the reset button being hit, what we saw this week is consumer advocates and students once again taking to the podium to testify and talk about their experiences and why they believe that these two rules should stay in place.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, just in our last minute now, I just want to expand to more generally look at the overall student loan problem.

    Where do you see the major differences and the major flash points now with the new administration?

    ANYA KAMENETZ: Well, I think we saw, with Obama taking office right around the financial crisis, the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which became a major watchdog on behalf of students, and many, many actions taken against the for-profit sector, but really also against student lenders in general.

    There’s been a real atmosphere of, I would say, crackdown in regulation and consumer advocacy. And the tenor has certainly changed in terms of the announcements coming out of the DeVos administration.

    She has hired former for-profit college students — sorry — she has hired former for-profit college executives to advise her, as well as putting in charge of federal student aid the CEO of a private student loan company.

    She has made a lot of announcements on behalf of things that will save taxpayers money and lead to less burden on colleges and universities, including for-profit colleges.

    And so a lot of her statements really made clear that she doesn’t intend to impose onerous regulatory burdens on either for-profit colleges or other types of colleges, as well as the student loan industry as well.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Anya Kamenetz of NPR, thank you very much.

    ANYA KAMENETZ: Thank you, Jeffrey.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And thanks to Jeff and to Anya.

    The post Betsy DeVos hits reset on new student loan consumer protections appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Iraqi leaders and the top American military commander in Iraq proclaimed the liberation of the city of Mosul yesterday. But what’s the next step in that war-torn country? Does the Iraqi government have a plan to prevent ISIS from returning and to rebuild Iraq’s second largest city?

    For some answers, we turn to Feisal Istrabadi. He’s a former Iraqi diplomat, and he’s now director of the Middle East Center at Indiana University, Bloomington.

    Feisal Istrabadi, welcome back to the program.

    How much of a blow to ISIS was the retaking of the city of Mosul?

    FEISAL ISTRABADI, Former Iraqi Diplomat: Well, it’s a huge blow, because one of the ways in which ISIL distinguished its brand from al-Qaida before was that it was able to conquer and hold territory, erase an international boundary, declare a caliphate, and engage in the fight against forces that regard it as infidel, be they other Muslims or Western forces.

    And so it sort of distinguished itself in that way. And now it is retreating. It has lost the largest city that it occupied. There are plans under way to make it lose Raqqa as well in Syria, and slowly — and hopefully not slowly to expel it from Iraq. So, it’s a psychological and an ideological, huge blow to ISIL.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What does it still control? What capability does it still have?

    FEISAL ISTRABADI: Well, it still has the ability — I mean, your own reporting earlier in the program was that it still is able to put on sort of the skirmish attacks, although, last week, it was able to manage to conduct an attempt at a counterattack, which was repelled, of course.

    But the main fear that I have now is that ISIL becomes a classical terrorist organization, as al-Qaida was before, able to pull off, you know, attacks of varying size in Baghdad and other places. And we’re already seeing that it is metamorphosing into that kind of an organization. And that again is deeply disturbing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And how well-equipped is the government of Iraq to deal with that?

    FEISAL ISTRABADI: It’s very difficult to repel those sorts of attacks.

    You have to have perfect intelligence and a perfect ability to respond. And, unfortunately, neither the Iraqi government now, nor the Americans when they had a large presence, when the U.S. had a large presence in Iraq, have been able to control that.

    The ultimate solution for this problem has to be political. It has to be a situation where sort of the underlying disease which has allowed at least enough people to fail to participate in the political process, that sort of disease has to be treated, rather than continuing to treat the symptoms of the disease.

    And that, we have collectively, the Iraqis, the international community, we have collectively failed to do that over the years.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re referring to the sectarian divisions in Iraq that have led to one group prevailing over another.

    Do you see any improvement in the Shia-Sunni divisions in Iraq over the last several years since the larger war ended there?

    FEISAL ISTRABADI: I see hope that the future need not be what the past has been.

    I think that, in distinction to his predecessor, the current prime minister of Iraq has good intentions. What we don’t have, however, is a plan. Good intentions will not get us past this sort of impasse that we have been in since after 2003.

    There needs to be a coming together of the Iraqi political class, and a sort of a sorting out of what our priorities are and how we prepare our modus vivendi, how we engage in reconciliation, what kinds of power-sharing we’re willing to engage, all within a larger constitutional, democratic framework.

    And that, unfortunately, we haven’t done. And now we have to do it at the same time as we have the reconstruction of the country at hand, as well, of course, as providing immediate humanitarian relief for the refugees fleeing the cities that are being liberated from ISIL.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And when you speak of we having to do this, are you referring to the United States or are you referring to the Iraqi government?

    FEISAL ISTRABADI: All of us.

    I think that that is something that the international community, the United States, of course the Iraqis in the first instance — it has to be an Iraqi project in the first instance. But the United States is a part of the process. The international community needs to encourage these three tracks, sort of the immediate humanitarian relief, the physical rebuilding of the country, and, more importantly, the political rebuilding of the country.

    That is going to be sort of a multipronged effort that has to occur simultaneously. And the Iraqis will need the support of the international community.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And very, very quickly, you see the will of the international community to do that?

    FEISAL ISTRABADI: I hope so, because the failure of the Iraqis to do this, the failure of the international community to support this effort will mean that, just as al-Qaida left ISIL, this incarnation of ISIL will lead to ISIL 2.0, 3.0, 4.0.

    And that’s just condemning the Middle East, the region and perhaps the world to an endless cycle of violence.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A sobering message.

    Feisal Istrabadi, we thank you very much.

    FEISAL ISTRABADI: Thank you. It’s a pleasure, as always.

    The post With Mosul liberated, how does Iraq make sure ISIS can’t make a comeback? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And speaking of the efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act, let’s continue hearing how some citizens and health care providers see it.

    Producer Jason Kane visited a pair of clinics in the heart of coal country.

    Last night, we took you to the town of Wise, Virginia, in a state that opted not to expand Medicaid for low-income residents.

    Just across the border, in West Virginia, the Affordable Care Act and its Medicaid expansion meant the rate of uninsured residents dropped from at least 21 percent before the law took effect to 9 percent in 2015, and nearly a third of families in the state do get Medicaid. More than 83 percent of Mingo County voted for the president in the election.

    And the state has been ravaged by the opioids epidemic. But at the Williamson Health and Wellness Center, nerves are now on edge as patients recount their personal stories.

    REBECCA HICKS, Patient, Williamson Health & Wellness Center: My name’s Rebecca Hicks, and I’m from Chattaroy, West Virginia. I’m 37 years old.

    When I was younger, I was raped. I guess I got on drugs to cope with it, regular pain pills. First, it started with, you know, snorting the pills. Then it led to shooting the pills.

    And I have always struggled to have a doctor. And this place kind of takes care of all of it. My access to Medicaid has helped me pay for medicines that I would never have been able to pay for and to see specialists that I wouldn’t be able to see if I didn’t have that medical care.

    JEROME CLINE, Family Nurse Practitioner: My name’s Jerome Cline. I’m a family nurse practitioner.

    With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the state had expanded Medicaid programs. Right now, it’s just under 50 percent of our patients, I think, are Medicaid.

    VICKI HATFIELD, Family Nurse Practitioner: My name is Vicki Hatfield. I’m a certified family nurse practitioner and a certified diabetes educator.

    Once we started seeing more patients qualify for Medicaid, they were able to come in, and we were able to start getting them caught up on their preventive screenings and health promotion activities, and just be able to treat their chronic illnesses that had been neglected.

    The increased funds for Medicaid services brought more revenue into the clinic, so that allowed us to hire more people here. It also allowed us to do some other things in the community to promote healthy living.

    JEROME CLINE: We have a farmers market every Saturday.

    VICKI HATFIELD: We also had community gardens start. And we see more people growing their own vegetables.

    JEROME CLINE: We have a community 5K almost every month.

    And then we have a community health worker program. It’s certainly a lot of cheaper to keep people healthy at home than it is once they get into the system.

    VICKI HATFIELD: Now, as we watch what’s happening with possible repeal or replacement of the Affordable Care Act, it’s very concerning. I know patients are concerned, particularly patients who had chronic diseases that now they’re able to get medications for, or patients who need annual screening.

    CONNIE SUE MAHON, Patient, Williamson Health & Wellness Center: I have got a head injury. I have got a sleeping disorder. I have got back problems. I have got knee problems. I have panic attacks.

    My name is Connie Sue Mahon. We need the medical. And if they take it, it’s going to hurt a lot of families in West Virginia. President Trump promised us a better plan. And we all voted to get him in there because we thought he’d do this country better. But if we ain’t got that medical, we won’t have nothing. And that’s how people in Mingo County live.

    JERINEL TAYLOR, Patient, Williamson Health & Wellness Center: My name is Jerinel Taylor. I’m 58 years old. I have diabetes. You have to have the medication to keep the diabetes down. If you don’t, you lose your eyes, your kidneys, and all this stuff, so I try to keep up with it.

    I started receiving the Medicaid after the Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, or whatever it was called. With the care I receive here, my numbers have come down, my blood pressure, and they keep everything pretty much took care of for me, the mammograms and all the cancer screenings that I need.

    Affordable Care Act has helped me, but it has hurt other people, especially people like my brother. It’s hurt him. And he works hard. And then they take it out of his taxes because he doesn’t have insurance. He can’t afford the insurance under the Affordable Care Act. So, it has hurt him. So, if they drop me, they drop me.

    JEROME CLINE: Thinking about the possible changes to the health care system and the drive to save money with Medicaid, I’m not sure if there’s an accounting of these people now seeking their primary care through the E.R.s, when they can come here and the visit, and pay a small co-pay, vs. going to the E.R., and all of a sudden, it’s a $2,000 bill.

    REBECCA HICKS: About two years ago, I had been in the hospital, like in the mental ward for my mental health at least 25 times. And now I have hadn’t had to be hospitalized for over two years, because of all the doctors here that has helped me so much.

    JEROME CLINE: Especially now, with the drug epidemic around here, what are we going to do with the people who have found an improved quality of life, and they have moved beyond, you know, a life of addiction, and we have got them into recovery? If we curtail that treatment, what potentially happens to those patients?

    VICKI HATFIELD: I would like to see the Medicaid expansion continue. I would like to see also a revision for some of the premiums.

    I have some patients who did not qualify for Medicaid expansion, but they also could not afford the premium and the deductible. I think that needs to be revisited.

    I think there are good parts to the program, but there are also some things that do need improvement.

    REBECCA HICKS: I would tell the politicians that they might want to think real hard about it and take a break from it a little bit until they know more about it, because what they’re dealing is, if they take health care away from somebody that’s an addict, they’re going to resort to worser things.

    I chose those people. I put my faith in those people that they would make this place better, not take away the only things that were helping this area.

    The post Deep in coal country, West Virginia patients speak out about GOP health bill appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Senate Majority Leader McConnell speaks at a Harden County Republican party fundraiser in Elizabethtown

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: With Congress back from their Independence Day break, the pressure is on for Republicans to broker a deal on health care, in addition to other high priorities like tax reform, all of this as the August recess looms just weeks away.

    In a minute, John Yang will be back to talk to Lisa Desjardins, but, first, Lisa has the current state of play on Capitol Hill.

    LISA DESJARDINS: With the health care fight unresolved and no action on the budget or tax reform, Utah Senator Mike Lee and nine fellow Republicans asked today to cancel the August recess.

    SEN. MIKE LEE, R-Utah: At this time, it doesn’t make sense for us to just take the month of August off.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell partially obliged.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky., Majority Leader: We will be in session the first two weeks of August.

    LISA DESJARDINS: That buys a little more time to tackle a daunting agenda, topped by replacing Obamacare.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: We will be on health care next week. We will be laying out a revised version of the repeal and replace effort, the text of that, on Thursday morning.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Multiple Republican senators told NewsHour this is what’s in the latest plan: It restores an investment tax and a Medicare tax on the wealthy. Plans to cut those taxes drew criticism as helping the rich. More subsidies or tax credits for lower-income families and billions more for opioid treatment.

    But indications are there will be essentially no changes to the Medicaid section. That would cut the number of people on Medicaid by millions. And one unusual twist: Republicans are still mulling an amendment from Texas Senator Ted Cruz that will allow insurers to offer just one Obamacare-compliant plan and avoid its regulations in the rest.

    That general idea could bring on Cruz and other key votes like Lee.

    SEN. MIKE LEE: That’s one way to get me to yes on the bill.

    LISA DESJARDINS: But Democrats, like Senator Jeanne Shaheen, voiced a concern some Republican moderates share.

    SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN, D-N.H.: Our Republican colleagues haven’t had just six months to put together a health care bill. They have had seven years and six months. And the Cruz amendment is not the answer. It would roll back protections for people with preexisting conditions. It would cost more for consumers.

    LISA DESJARDINS: All said, it is not yet clear if a revised plan will get the 50 votes it needs. McConnell wants to hold that vote next week, and many Republicans say it’s time, win or lose.

    SEN. JOHN KENNEDY, R-La.: In my judgment, it’s time to vote.

    LISA DESJARDINS: These are unusual times. The Senate Historian’s Office tells me that only once in modern history has the Senate cut short its August recess.

    John, guess what the topic was? It was 1994. It was health care. Democrats failed to pass their bill back then.

    JOHN YANG: Hillarycare back then.

    LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right.

    JOHN YANG: Lisa, you said that the Cruz amendment is going to be key.

    But Senator McConnell also said that Thursday, they are going to see a text. How are going to they handle the Cruz amendment?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Yes.

    This is a bit of a tricky — it’s actually — think of it as two different bills, a bill A and a bill B. It will be the same text. Only, one will have the Cruz amendment, one will not. The big moment to decide which goes forward will be Monday, probably, when we expect the Congressional Budget Office to come out with its score to say, does the Cruz amendment help these markets, what does it do for premiums, what does it do for preexisting conditions?

    That will be the big decision moment.

    JOHN YANG: And in your spot, you said that they still don’t have the 50 votes for what is probably going to come out Thursday.

    Are they going to continue to tweak it to try to get the votes they need? Or how is that going to work?

    LISA DESJARDINS: I think that’s why we didn’t see text today, John. That’s why saw sort of a framework and Vice President Pence up there trying to massage people into this.

    But, honestly, coming out of the meeting, some people were more warm to it, like Bob Corker today. Others, like Lisa Murkowski, came out, was there, was there progress made on things important to you? She turned to reporters and just said no.

    JOHN YANG: So, there’s still some work to go for someone like that.

    They have got two extra weeks now. What else are they going to do? Are there other things they have got to get done before they get their reward by going home for recess?

    (LAUGHTER)

    LISA DESJARDINS: Well, here’s the thing.

    If they take the vote on health care next week, there are many who think it could fail and that Mitch McConnell will let it fail. At that point, then, they would have another decision to make. Do we try again, a different kind of Republican bill, or do we in fact work with Democrats, come up with an entire ‘nother approach to health care to try to fix the Obamacare markets? Do we try and pass that before we leave in the middle of August?

    Then they also have a budget to deal with, spending bills. Conservatives want to actually do a proper spending process and debate spending cuts, rather than just have one big bill dropped on at once.

    There is a lot of work to do. It’s not clear how they will get the votes to do it, though, but now they do have more time.

    JOHN YANG: Lisa Desjardins, a lot of work for them, a lot of work for you.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Thank you.

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    Find all of the stories in our series, Inside Putin’s Russia

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We return to our week-long series, Inside Putin’s Russia.

    For years, the Kremlin and the media it controls have waged a multifaceted information and disinformation campaign both inside Russia, and pointed at its perceived adversaries. And last year, that effort crescendoed here during the U.S. presidential campaign.

    Tonight, we look at the information war.

    With the help of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, special correspondent Nick Schifrin and producer Zach Fannin begin their report in Moscow.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: In Russia, whoever controls the media controls the country. And Saturday nights are Sergey Brilev’s. The 44-year-old is an anchor for Russia One. It’s the country’s most popular channel, and it’s state-owned.

    Do you think that that means you have a Russian perspective when you report?

    SERGEY BRILEV, Russia One: Well, of course there’s a Russian perspective. There is a perspective of your country in any reporting.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Brilev says he doesn’t feel pressure to push the government’s line. During the show we saw, he challenged a government minister about police jailing a former theater director who’s a government critic.

    READ MORE: These Soviet propaganda posters once evoked heroism, pride and anxiety

    SERGEY BRILEV: I imagine that tomorrow — tonight, after the broadcast, I may have some security agencies, and saying, what does he think he’s saying?

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Russian state media have long delivered the government perspective and rallied the public behind it. Brilev denies that’s his job. But he hints at whose job it is.

    SERGEY BRILEV: The Sunday program, which is quite conservative in Western terms, ultra-conservative, I would say.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Aggressive, perhaps?

    SERGEY BRILEV: Well, FOX News-style.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Sunday night anchor Dmitry Kiselyov is part Sean Hannity, part Stephen Colbert. He’s crass and entertaining, and widely believed to reflect the Kremlin’s thinking.

    DMITRY KISELYOV (through interpreter): The American press is driving Trump into a bullfight with no rules. The aim is impeachment. No pretext? It will be created, invented, engineered, exaggerated. CIA staff hackers are hiding behind another name, for example, behind the so-called Russian hackers.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Kiselyov started targeting Russia’s opponents in 2012 after massive protests threatened President Vladimir Putin, says journalist and author Mikhail Zygar.

    MIKHAIL ZYGAR, Journalist, Author: That was very important to start hating the enemies. That’s the point when the audience starts believing you.

    DMITRY KISELYOV (through interpreter): Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Until 2015, Zygar was the anchor and editor in chief of TV Rain. In a sea of state media, TV Rain was an independent TV island.

    MIKHAIL ZYGAR: We have had the reputation of the only TV channel that is trying to make real investigations.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: In 2014, TV Rain accused the Kremlin’s chief political strategist of corruption.

    MIKHAIL ZYGAR: There was a very short, but very effective campaign against us. I was getting like hundreds of personal messages with people wishing me death. Then all the major networks had direct phone calls from Kremlin and they had to switch us off.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Within one month, their audience dropped from 20 million to 60,000.

    Protesters fought to keep them on the air. But targeting critical media is nothing new. In the last six years, the Kremlin targeted 12 critical newsrooms.

    Zygar says state TV tries to convince Russians to support their government by replacing reality with a carefully crafted message.

    MIKHAIL ZYGAR: Democracy does not exist. Our system is much more stable, because we have much more — much stronger leadership.

    DMITRY KISELYOV (through interpreter): Putin is universally accepted as one of the most qualified heads of state on the planet, if not the most qualified.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: But this isn’t only about shaping Russian opinion. Kiselyov considers the news a weapon aimed at Russia’s enemies, as he put it in an interview on his own channel.

    DMITRY KISELYOV (through interpreter): If you can persuade a person, you don’t need to kill him. Let’s think about what’s better: to kill or to persuade? Because if you aren’t able to persuade, then you will have to kill.

    MARGARITA SIMONYAN, Editor in Chief, RT: If the politics of defending your country’s interest is pro-Russian, then probably we are pro-Russian.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Margarita Simonyan is the editor in chief of R.T., formerly known as Russia Today. She says the network reaches 35 million viewers a day in six languages, including American and international channels. It’s state-owned and aimed at foreign audiences as an alternative to channels Simonyan calls pro-Western, CNN and BBC.

    MARGARITA SIMONYAN: If you look at any station, you will see that what people are reporting comes from what they believe in, where they stand, their background, what their countries believe in.

    And let us be one of the voices in that choir, because when the choir sings just one song, awful things happen, like the war in Iraq.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Critics say R.T. isn’t just another media voice; it highlights conspiracy theories.

    WOMAN: The article basically accuses the U.S. of manufacturing this Ebola outbreak.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: It describes a Holocaust denier as a human rights activist.

    MAN: Russia is a threat to the U.S.’ hegemony.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: And a neo-Nazi as a German expert.

    MAN: Germany is a country which supports violent Islamism.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: The criticism is, again, that you’re trying to confuse, rather than inform.

    MARGARITA SIMONYAN: Now, that’s absolutely a lie. We’re never trying to confuse. We’re informing. If we do have people appearing on the air live that are later found out to be Holocaust deniers or anything like that, we immediately put them onto a list of people who are forbidden from the air.

    You are telling me that people in the West are seeing us as a threat. Believe me, most of the people in Russia are seeing the West as a threat.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: For the West, the biggest threat in terms of information comes from that building. That is the headquarters of the FSB, the successor to the KGB.

    During Soviet times, the KGB launched deliberate disinformation campaigns, like planting the idea that President Kennedy was killed by the CIA. Today, Western governments accuse the FSB of launching the same kinds of campaigns, except, instead of offering communism as an ideological alternative, they are waging a kind of hybrid war against their enemies, with a new kind of soldier, hackers.

    Over the last two years, the Russian military ran online recruiting ads where soldiers put down their guns to fight a cyber-war. In a January report, U.S. intelligence agencies accused Russia of hacking Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign e-mails and leaking them to WikiLeaks to fuel Russia’s propaganda campaign.

    It was designed to — quote — “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”

    It worked.

    MEGYN KELLY, FOX News: The Clinton campaign has now had to deal with more than a week of embarrassing daily revelations, thanks to WikiLeaks.

    MAN: Now, these WikiLeaks’ releases have rocked the campaign.

    MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC: WikiLeaks has released what appears to be transcripts of paid speeches by Hillary Clinton to Goldman Sachs.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Hacked e-mails became anti-Clinton talking points. And many of those talking points were spread online by fake accounts known as trolls believed to work in this St. Petersburg building.

    Forty-two-year-old Marat Mindiyarov used to be one of those trolls.

    MARAT MINDIYAROV, Former Troll: Every day, you see a lot of comment at night, and they’re all the same, yes. And it’s exactly the people doing their job. They have their topic. They have a time to do it. They write it, and you see it.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Every day, Mindiyarov would get a document that instructed him what to write. On Christmas Eve, 2014, he was told to — quote — “create a negative attitude about Obama’s foreign policy.”

    So he posted photos comparing Obama to Hitler, portraying the U.S. as a fish about to eat the planet and an eagle sharpening his talons. He posted under the headline, “Can the U.S. take Russia out?” on 50 Web sites in 23 cities. And fellow trolls Kiril Ivashkin, Gennady Orlov, Mike Brandon expressed the exact same thought, 600 posts from 70 fake accounts in 12 hours, just one battalion in a sock puppet army manufactured by a handful of trolls.

    How many identities will the workers be expected to pretend to be?

    MARAT MINDIYAROV: Hundreds. Hundreds. Really, hundreds. I myself maybe had 20, 30. I didn’t count them.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: U.S. intelligence says the likely troll financier is Evgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with catering companies. He’s been dubbed Putin’s personal chef.

    Mindiyarov left the factory because he didn’t believe in its product. But he says it’s effective because the stories are succinct and echoed widely.

    MARAT MINDIYAROV: Everything is very simple there, yes, black and white, no color, just black and white.

    BEN NIMMO, Atlantic Council: Russian propaganda is actually very predictable and relatively simple. And I think of it as the four D’s, which are dismiss, distort, distract, and dismay.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Ben Nimmo is An Atlantic Council senior fellow studying how Russian media, Russian hacking and Russian trolling combine.

    BEN NIMMO: You get your own people to write this, but then you pretend it’s not your people, it’s just some do-gooders in Russian society. All the different parts of your machine then amplify it, and what you’re doing is you’re pushing out in a dozen different languages on all the different platforms there are, one story. And what that story is what the Kremlin wants it to be.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: In January 2016, it was a fake story that a Russian-German teenager had been abducted and raped by Muslim migrants.

    BEN NIMMO: The Russian state TV apparatus repeatedly reporting false claims after the German police had come out and said that there was no abduction and there was no rape.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: The fake story helped spark real protests against German President Angela Merkel, a frequent Putin critic.

    But even though it was fake, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov used it to criticize one of Russia’s top adversaries.

    BEN NIMMO: The motivation behind the campaign as a whole was precisely to weaken Merkel by amplifying this very personalized story about crimes committed by, in inverted commas, Merkel’s migrants.

    MAN: We investigate the stories misrepresented by the mainstream media.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Last year, the Russian propaganda machine exploited a research psychologist who argued Google was manipulating its results to favor Clinton.

    BEN NIMMO: So, this is a gentlemen called Dr. Robert Epstein. He came out with a paper which said that by altering the results of a search engine, you could potentially alter people’s voting choices.

    DR. ROBERT EPSTEIN, Research Psychologist: And Google’s support for Clinton is really very strong.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: It was quickly debunked. But the different parts of the Russian propaganda machine echoed the story, from R.T., to state-owned Web site Sputnik, to Russian trolls.

    BEN NIMMO: This is a classic example in which the different parts of the machine were amplifying each other. What you then had was the claim being picked up by a number of largely conservative media in the U.S.

    MAN: It looks like Google is in the tank for Hillary.

    DR. ROBERT EPSTEIN: There’s no question about it.

    BEN NIMMO: And now you have divorced the story from the source.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Well, you have laundered — you have literally laundered the source.

    BEN NIMMO: And in that sense, the source has been laundered. Then candidate Trump said words the effect of Google was rigging its results in favor of Clinton.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Google’s search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton.

    BEN NIMMO: Now, we don’t know where he got that from, but we know that the insertion point for that story was a Kremlin disinformation outlet.

    For any purveyor of propaganda, your dream is to have some high-value amplifier amplifying you, especially if you can contrive that in such a way that you are divorced from it.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: How about that? How about that?

    NICK SCHIFRIN: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Nick Schifrin in Moscow.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tomorrow, we travel to Russia’s southern border, and ask why so many young Russians have joined ISIS.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And in the day’s other news: The U.S. military confirmed that 15 Marines and a Navy Corpsman died on Monday when a tanker plane crashed in Mississippi. The plane’s last stop was the Cherry Point Marine Air Station in North Carolina. It went down in a soybean field 85 miles north of Jackson, Mississippi.

    Thick smoke billowed from the wreckage for hours after the crash. The FBI joined the investigation, but officials said they do not suspect foul play.

    In Iraq, scattered new fighting erupted in Western Mosul, even after the government claimed total victory over Islamic State fighters. At the same time, Amnesty International accused ISIS militants of summary executions and using human shields. It also blamed Iraqi forces and U.S. coalition airstrikes for civilian casualties. But the coalition disputed that claim.

    LT. GEN. STEPHEN TOWNSEND, U.S. Army: I would challenge the people from Amnesty International or anyone else out there who makes these charges to first research their facts and make sure they’re speaking from a position of authority. I would argue that this is, I believe, the most precise campaign in the history of warfare.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Much of Western Mosul has been laid waste by fighting that began in February.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to Qatar today, trying to resolve a rift with its Persian Gulf neighbors. Four Arab nations have slapped sanctions on the oil state over charges that it fosters Islamist extremism. Tillerson signed a counterterrorism agreement with the Qatari foreign minister. His next stop is Saudi Arabia, one of the nations demanding that Qatar reject militants and limit its ties with Iran.

    Back in this country, fire crews in the Western U.S. made more progress today, but, in some cases, they were too late. In Northern California, at least 36 homes burned down near Oroville over the weekend. That fire is still burning in places, keeping some 4,000 people from returning. Fires are also still burning in Southern California and several other states.

    New York City officialdom turned out in force today for the funeral of a police officer killed last week. A gunman attacked Miosotis Familia as she sat in a mobile command center in the Bronx. Today, hundreds of NYPD officers packed the church and turned nearby streets into a sea of blue.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio led the mourners, condemning violence against police.

    MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, New York: We have watched with horror these attacks on our police here in this city and all around our country, and it sickens us. And we know they cannot be tolerated.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Familia was the first female police officer killed in the line of duty in New York City since 9/11.

    President Trump’s election fraud commission now says that states don’t have to provide detailed voter information just yet. The panel put that word out in an e-mail, as a federal judge weighs a legal challenge to the commission’s actions. A number of states have refused to hand over data on voter names, birth dates and partial Social Security numbers.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained just half-a-point to close at 21409. The Nasdaq rose about 17 points, and the S&P 500 slipped two.

    The post News Wrap: Tillerson visits Qatar to mend Persian Gulf rift appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And for more on the latest documents in the Russia investigation, we turn to the vice chairman on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Mark Warner of Virginia. He joins us from Capitol Hill.

    Senator Warner, thank you for being here.

    What do you make of this latest story?

    SEN. MARK WARNER, D-Va.: Well, Judy, again, I have said this a couple of times, that you can’t make some of this stuff up. It would — it strains credibility.

    This bothers me on a variety of levels. One, it bothers me that this is a continuing series of individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign or the Trump administration who say they have had no meetings or contacts with Russians, until there is proof of those meetings, and then they have to recant or, in the case of General Flynn, the national security adviser, he got fired, or the attorney general had to recuse himself.

    And what’s particularly, I think, significant about these last 48 hours is, this is the first time the public is seeing now in black and white what we have heard from the intelligence community, that there was an organized effort by the Russian government to interfere to help one candidate, Donald Trump, to hurt another candidate, Hillary Clinton.

    And what is so particularly disturbing is that we have now got the president’s son, the president’s son-in-law and the president’s campaign manager at the time all being willing to take the meeting that this so-called Russian agent, or at least has been represented as part of this Russian government effort to discredit Clinton, and that they were anxious to receive this kind of information.

    I find that — and there would be folks like special counsel Mueller who will have to determine whether that meets a legal standard of criminality, but it sure does make it very important that we in the Senate investigating committee get a chance to talk to all three of these individuals, which we plan to do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, you mentioned — you used the word collusion. You said that’s what this investigation has been about.

    One of your Democratic colleagues on the Intelligence Committee, Senator Wyden of Oregon, said today this proves there was at least an attempt at collusion. Is that how you see it?

    SEN. MARK WARNER: Well, Judy, I feel like my job in this investigation is to keep this investigation bipartisan, working along with Chairman Burr.

    I’m going to reserve my final judgments until we get a chance to talk to all of the witnesses, get all of the information that we’re continuing to collect. But it sure as heck bothers me that there is this continuing pattern of individuals from the Trump campaign and the Trump administration denying these contacts with Russians, and then, when the proof comes out, they dodge or dance or amend their filings.

    Well, now, in a particular case, we’re asked to believe that the president’s son and son-in-law had information that was part of a Russian government effort to discredit their opponent, and that somehow that was never shared with their father or father-in-law. Again, I will accept that their word until we get a chance to talk to them in person.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Senator, how do you, though, interpret their evolving explanations?

    SEN. MARK WARNER: It is — frankly, it strains credibility that this administration continues to say there’s no there there, yet we have seen this pattern, not with one, two, three, but literally I think it was close to a dozen individuals that have either been affiliated with the information or in a case of certain spokespeople who said, for example, that Jim Comey was fired because of his bad performance with handling the Hillary Clinton e-mails, only to be corrected by the president himself when he called James Comey a nutjob in front of the Russians and said it was all about the Russian investigation itself.

    So, we have this constant pattern where this administration doesn’t come clean on these items involving Russia until the proof comes out, and then we hear fairly feeble excuses.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I hear you saying, Senator, you’re not prepared to pronounce whether there was collusion. You’re not prepared to say whether there was illegality, but you have been around politics now for a number of years.

    How do you judge, how do you weigh the — at least the facts on the table at this point?

    SEN. MARK WARNER: Well, Judy, I have heard some of the people coming to the defense of the president’s son that this was a rookie mistake.

    I don’t accept that. I think anyone of any kind of basic knowledge would know that you don’t take information from a foreign power, and particularly a foreign power that’s an adversary like Russia. And, clearly, what was laid out in the e-mail in black and white was that this was part of a Russian government effort to help then candidate Trump.

    And you see, not only was there no pushback on that, but in terms of reading the e-mail, Donald Trump Jr. said, that’s great, and wouldn’t it be great if we got that information late in the summer?

    And if you follow the timeline — I’m sure all your audience hasn’t followed this quite as closely as I have — but it was late in the summer that more and more of these DNC e-mails were released, where then Trump confidant Roger Stone first started tweeting about the fact that he had contact with a Russian cutout, Guccifer 2.0, and that it would soon be John Podesta’s turn in the so-called barrel.

    And, sure enough, it was John Podesta’s e-mails that were subsequently leaked as well. So, the timing, in terms of what Donald Trump Jr. was hoping and then what came to pass is also a little bit curious.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator, finally, how do you view the likelihood that the president himself didn’t know about this? The White House is saying he did not know. Do you take them at their word?

    SEN. MARK WARNER: I will take them at their word at this point.

    But the idea that the president’s son and son-in-law had this kind of outreach from what appears to be an agent of the Russian government, and that there was a Russian government — knowledge of an effort to help candidate Trump, I’m surprised at least — and, again, I will take them at their word — but surprised at least that this wouldn’t come up over dinner conversation at some point over the ensuing months.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But can we assume that’s a question you will be asking?

    SEN. MARK WARNER: You can assume darn right that’s a question I will be asking.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, we thank you.

    SEN. MARK WARNER: Thank you, Judy.

    The post Sen. Warner: I don’t accept Donald Trump Jr. ‘rookie mistake’ defense appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: For months, a big question confronting official Washington has been, did the Trump campaign collude with the Kremlin to undermine Hillary Clinton?

    Tonight, President Trump’s eldest son finds himself at the heart of the matter after he released a potentially explosive e-mail chain.

    John Yang begins our coverage.

    JOHN YANG: The e-mails show Donald Trump junior eager to hear dirt on Hillary Clinton, said to be offered as part of Russian government support for his father’s campaign.

    The chain begins with message from Rob Goldstone. He’s a British-born music publicist. The younger Trump met him at the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow, which President Trump then owned. Goldstone said a client’s father, a real estate developer who teamed with President Trump for that pageant, had been told of official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia.

    Goldstone said it was part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.

    Donald Trump Jr. responds: “If it’s what you say, I love it.”

    In a four-day flurry of e-mails, Donald Trump Jr. and Goldstone set up a meeting at Trump Tower in New York with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Also attending, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

    Veselnitskaya told NBC News today she has no connection to Russian government and knew nothing damaging about Clinton.

    NATALIA VESELNITSKAYA, Russian Attorney (through interpreter): It is quite possible that maybe they were looking for such an information. They wanted it so badly.

    JOHN YANG: Today, Donald Trump Jr. said he thought he was being offered political opposition research. The president’s son says he put out the e-mails to be totally transparent.

    On Capitol Hill, the release generated more questions than answers.

    SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: I know Donald Trump Jr. is new to politics. I know that Jared Kushner is new to politics, but this is going to require a lot of questions to be asked and answered.

    SEN. RON WYDEN, D-Ore.: If you look at Donald Trump Jr.’s own admissions — these are his words, not mine, his — this was an attempt at collusion. And so now the question is really, was it successful?

    JOHN YANG: At an off-camera White House briefing, principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a one-line statement from the president.

    SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, Deputy White House Press Secretary: “My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency.”

    JOHN YANG: Sanders said the president only learned of his son’s meeting in the last several days, but wouldn’t say whether he knew of the apparent Russian offer to help his campaign.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m John Yang.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And to Mark Mazzetti, Washington investigations editor for The New York Times. He’s been leading the team of reporters that broke today’s story.

    Mark Mazzetti, welcome back to the program.

    So, tell us what the latest information is that The Times is reporting on connections, contacts between the Trump, the Trump family and Russian officials.

    MARK MAZZETTI, The New York Times: Well, last night, The Times reported the existence of an e-mail that showed that the meeting that was brokered in June of 2016 showed — an e-mail to Donald Trump Jr. — showed that the offer of damaging information about Hillary Clinton came from the Russian government or was purported to come from the Russian government and that Donald Trump Jr. very eager responded that he was very interested.

    And it seemed to raise the stakes, because it was no longer just private information from a lawyer, but something that seemed to come from Moscow and the Kremlin.

    This morning, we reported on the actual e-mails themselves, what the e-mails contained that show the long thread that led up to the June 9, 2016, meeting between these various players, and at the same time, right as we were about to publish, Donald Trump Jr. put out the e-mails himself.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, again, striking language in the e-mails, at one point referring to this is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.

    But I want to ask you about what happened today. When your reporters reached out to Donald Trump Jr., what happened?

    MARK MAZZETTI: We reached out to his attorney in the morning, notifying him that we were planning to publish the contents of the e-mails and gave them a deadline.

    And right around the time of the deadline, when we were waiting for their comment, Donald Trump Jr. put the e-mails themselves out on Twitter, and that’s when we published our story.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Was what Donald Trump Jr. put out on Twitter exactly what The Times had?

    MARK MAZZETTI: The e-mails that he put out are consistent certainly with what we saw.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And The Times was prepared to publish them whether he had done that or not?

    MARK MAZZETTI: Well, we were not planning to publish actual e-mails. We had a story ready describing the e-mails with some actual word-for-word language in the e-mails.

    And the word-for-word language that we were going to quote from in our story lined up with what he put out on Twitter.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it fair to say, Mark Mazzetti, that Donald Trump Jr. and others involved in the story have been cooperating? Because the sense one gets from reading these stories over the past few days is that the explanations you have been given by Donald Trump Jr. and by others has changed from day to day.

    MARK MAZZETTI: Yes, it’s been evolving over about four days.

    Saturday, when we were publishing our first story about this meeting, we got a response from Donald Trump Jr. that the meeting was about primarily adoptions, which is a big issue for the Russian government relating to the sanctions the United States has imposed on the Russian government.

    The next day when we were publishing our second story, we knew that the meeting was not about that. It was about proposed damaging information about Hillary Clinton. We got another statement that said, yes, that’s true. However, it was something anyone would do. Any one part of the campaign would look for damaging information about their opponent.

    And then, yesterday, we told them that we were planning to publish the e-mail that — published the existence of an e-mail that indicated it was Russian government support. There’s been yet another answer. So, yes, it certainly has evolved over several days.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Mark Mazzetti, what is the White House saying about the president’s involvement this? What has Donald Trump Jr. said about that?

    MARK MAZZETTI: Well, what the president knew about this is still unclear.

    The White House has said the president didn’t know of the meeting. And there has been some, I would say, conflicting accounts coming out of the White House about just how to handle this story and how it should be spun and how to handle the damage that was coming out of this story.

    But the question of — and there has been, frankly, some blame going on internally about it. But the question, the main question, of course, we are still endeavoring to find out is what now President Trump knew about the meeting at the time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But as you say ,right now, the White House is saying he had no involvement?

    MARK MAZZETTI: That’s right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Mazzetti, Washington investigations editor for The New York Times, thank you very much.

    MARK MAZZETTI: Thank you.

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    An oblique view of a massive rift in the Antarctic Peninsula's Larsen C ice shelf is shown in this November 10, 2016 photo taken by scientists on NASA's IceBridge mission in Antarctica.  Photo by John Sonntag/NASA/Handout via REUTERS

    An oblique view of a massive rift in the Antarctic Peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf is shown in this November 10, 2016 photo taken by scientists on NASA’s IceBridge mission in Antarctica. Photo by John Sonntag/NASA/Handout via REUTERS

    After months of expectation, a gigantic piece of the Larsen C ice shelf broke off Antarctica sometime between Monday and Wednesday, scientists at the Swansea University-led Midas project announced Wednesday. The final split was detected by NASA’s Aqua satellite and freed a trillion ton iceberg into the waters of the Weddell Sea.

    “The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is difficult to predict. It may remain in one piece but is more likely to break into fragments,” Adrian Luckman, lead investigator of the MIDAS project, said in a statement. “Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters.”

    The crack in the Larsen C ice shelf has been growing for years. From 2011 to 2015, it expanded by more than 18 miles, and then last year, increased by another 13 miles. Last month, scientists at the Midas project said the iceberg was “hanging by a thread.”

    A map showing the rift in the Larsen C ice shelf that led to the calving of an iceberg on the Antarctic Peninsula. Illustration by Reuters

    A map showing the rift in the Larsen C ice shelf that led to the calving of an iceberg on the Antarctic Peninsula. Illustration by Reuters

    Because the ice shelf was already floating in the ocean, its resulting iceberg will not change sea levels if it melts. However, the iceberg does pose a threat to mariners sailing through the South Atlantic, which is where sea currents will likely carry the floating behemoth.

    Another main concern revolves around the ice left behind. If the remaining ice shelf completely shatters, the event would allow glaciers on the land to flow into the ocean, which would raise sea levels. For now the ice shelf will naturally regrow, but Luckman said that computer models suggest the ice shelf “will be less stable.” Plus, any future collapse remains years or decades away, he said.

    Robert Kunzig, National Geographic’s senior environment editor, joins Hari Sreenivasan, to discuss the Larsen C Ice Shelf.

    Approximately the size of Delaware, almost 2,200 square miles, Larsen C is the third gigantic ice shelf to collapse from this section of Antarctica since 1995. On average, the Larsen C iceberg will be 625 feet thick across its immense expanse, but up to 695 feet of its ice may be hidden below the water’s surface. Break out the sleds, because that’s big enough to cover all 50 states in 4.6 inches of ice.

    The post Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf finally breaks, releases giant iceberg appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Donald Trump Jr. stands onstage with his father then-presidential nominee Donald Trump after a debate against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, in September 2016. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    Donald Trump Jr. stands onstage with his father then-presidential nominee Donald Trump after a debate against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, in September 2016. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that his eldest son was “open, transparent and innocent,” a day after Donald Trump Jr. revealed his eagerness to hear damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government in a meeting last year with an attorney from Moscow.

    Defending his son’s conduct, the president again dismissed the ongoing Russia investigation as the “greatest Witch Hunt in political history.” Trump responded after Donald Trump Jr. disclosed a series of emails on Tuesday that marked the clearest sign to date that Trump’s campaign was willing to consider election help from a longtime U.S. adversary.

    The email exchange posted to Twitter by Donald Trump Jr. showed him conversing with a music publicist who wanted him to meet with a “Russian government attorney” who supposedly had dirt on Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” The messages reveal that Trump Jr. was told the Russian government had information that could “incriminate” Clinton and her dealings with Russia.

    “I love it,” Trump Jr. said in one email response.

    READ NEXT: Russian lawyer describes meeting with Donald Trump Jr.

    The president’s attorney, Jay Sekulow, said in an interview with NBC’s “Today” that Trump Jr. did not violate any laws by accepting the meeting. He said the president had not been aware of Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting and didn’t find out about his son’s email exchange until “very recently.”

    Sekulow said the president was not being investigated by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the Trump campaign and its interaction with Russia during the election. “I would know a little bit about it. I’m one of the lawyers,” Sekulow told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

    As the emails reverberated across the political world, Trump Jr. defended his actions in an interview with Fox News, blaming the decision to take the meeting on the “million miles per hour” pace of a presidential campaign and his suspicion that the lawyer might have information about “underreported” scandals involving Clinton. Trump Jr. said the meeting “really went nowhere” and that he never told his father about it because there was “nothing to tell.”

    “In retrospect I probably would have done things a little differently,” Trump Jr. said.

    [Watch Video]

    Democrats in Congress voiced outrage and insisted the messages showed clear collusion, with California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, declaring that “all of the campaign’s previous denials obviously now have to be viewed in a different context.”

    Yet Republicans — who stand the most to lose politically from Trump’s Russia ordeal — did not join in the condemnation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was confident Senate investigators would “get to the bottom of whatever happened.” And Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican on the intelligence committee, cautioned that the emails were “only part of the picture.”

    Trump Jr., who was deeply involved in his father’s presidential campaign, portrayed his decision to release the emails as an effort “to be totally transparent.” In fact, they had already been obtained by The New York Times.

    Hours after the son posted the emails, the father rose to his defense.

    “My son is a high quality person and I applaud his transparency,” the president said in a statement read to reporters by White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Although Sanders declined to answer questions about the emails, she stood by the White House’s longstanding insistence that no one in Trump’s campaign colluded to influence the election.

    The messages were the latest disclosure to roil the multiple, ongoing investigations into Russia’s interference in the election and potential collusion with Trump’s campaign. U.S. intelligence agencies have said the Russian government meddled in the election through hacking to aid Trump.

    The emails will almost certainly be reviewed for any signs of coordination with the Kremlin, which the White House and Trump Jr. have repeatedly said did not take place. A spokesman for Mueller, the former FBI director, declined to comment.

    In the emails — dated early June 2016, soon after Trump secured the GOP nomination — music publicist Rob Goldstone wrote to Trump Jr. to connect him to Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. Goldstone wrote that the information “would be very useful to your father.”

    “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. replied in one of the emails. Days later, Veselnitskaya met with Trump Jr. on June 9 at Trump Tower in New York. Veselnitskaya has denied ever working for the Russian government. The Kremlin has also denied any link to the lawyer

    The emails show Goldstone telling Trump that singer Emin Agalarov and his father, Moscow-based developer Aras Agalarov, had “helped along” the Russian government’s support for Trump. The elder Agalarov was involved with Trump in hosting the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. The two men once also had preliminary discussions about building a Trump Tower in Moscow, but they fell through. Trump also appeared in a music video with the younger Agalarov.

    In his email, Goldstone said that the “Crown prosecutor of Russia” offered to provide the information on Clinton to the Trump campaign in a meeting with Aras Agalarov. There is no such royal title in the Russian Federation, but Goldstone – who is British – may have been referring to the title given to state prosecutors in the United Kingdom.

    In Russia, the top justice official is Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, the equivalent of the attorney general in the United States. Chaika is longtime confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin and was directly appointed by him.

    Representatives for the Agalarovs didn’t respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. Attempts to reach Chaika at his office were unsuccessful.

    In one email, Goldstone said he could send the information about Clinton to Trump’s father first directly “via Rhona” – an apparent reference to Rhona Graff, the elder Trump’s longtime assistant from his days at the helm of the Trump Organization.

    Though the emails weren’t posted in full until Tuesday, word of their existence had emerged on Monday. In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, Goldstone described the information as purported evidence of illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic National Committee. It’s unclear what proof, if any, Veselnitskaya provided during the meeting.

    Trump Jr.’s account of the meeting, its nature and purpose has evolved over the past several days, giving further fuel to critics who say the president and those around him have not been forthcoming as the Russia saga has unfolded.

    On Saturday, in his initial description of the encounter, Trump Jr. said it was a “short introductory meeting” focused on the disbanded program that had allowed American adoptions of Russian children.

    A day later, Trump Jr. changed his account, acknowledging that he was told beforehand that Veselnitskaya might have information “helpful” to the Trump campaign, and was told by her during the meeting that she had something about Clinton.

    In his most recent description of what occurred, on Tuesday, Trump Jr. said he had believed the information he would hear about Clinton would be political opposition research.

    Associated Press writers Nekesa Mumbi Moody in New York, Julie Bykowicz, Mary Clare Jalonick, Michael Biesecker, Stephen Braun, Ken Thomas and Matthew Daly in Washington, and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.

    The post Trump defends son after disclosure of Russian emails appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Researchers at Georgia Tech and Emory University have built energy-recycling stairs that store a user’s energy during descent and return energy to the user during ascent. Photo by Georgia Tech

    Researchers at Georgia Tech and Emory University have built energy-recycling stairs that store a user’s energy during descent and return energy to the user during ascent. Photo by Georgia Tech

    Stairs are often the first to go when people get older. They shift their bedrooms to the ground floor or move to new homes to avoid the burden and risk stairs pose.

    Well, worry no longer. Scientists revealed Wednesday a hi-tech staircase that can absorb a person’s energy while climbing down the steps, and then use this power to assist a person’s ascent later in the day. This low-cost device — the details of which were published in the journal PLoS ONE — could help older people remain mobile and stay in their homes longer.

    “This a problem to a lot of older adults, who are still very healthy and active,” Karen Liu, a computer scientist at Georgia Institute of Technology and one of the project’s directors, said.

    “It feels like stepping on a cushiony surface and having it slowly bring you down.”

    The idea first blossomed for Liu at a scientific conference, where she was inspired by an ankle exoskeleton that assisted walking in people with motor impairments. Liu immediately thought of her mother — “the healthiest 70-year-old woman she knows,” but who always complains about walking up stairs. Liu thought her mother could use this exoskeleton to make such climbs less burdensome.

    But, this fix didn’t seem practical. Her mother wasn’t going to put on an exoskeleton just to get up the stairs. So, Liu thought rather than make technology to help her mother’s ankles, why not build something that forces the stairs to do the work instead.

    Upon returning from the conference, Liu approached her colleague, Lena Ting, a biomedical engineer at Georgia Tech and Emory University, to see if she thought the transfer of the technology from ankle to staircase might work.

    Ting’s response: No way. But, Liu persisted, so, a post-doctoral researcher in Ting’s lab — Yun Seong Song — went to work building a prototype.

    Assembled from a set of springs, sensors, latches and tread that only moves up and down, the steps are energy efficient and do not require a bulky motor. Instead, the modular stairs, which can fit on an existing staircase, recycle energy made from a user’s descent. Going down stairs is like a sequence of stopping yourself from falling, Liu said. Every time you brake yourself, you lose energy. The assistive stairs absorb and store that energy, then return it to the user when they walk back upstairs.

    The technology reduced the workload during an ascent by 17 percent overall and the work of the knee joint by 37 percent. Photo by Georgia Tech

    The technology reduced the workload during an ascent by 17 percent overall and the work of the knee joint by 37 percent. Photo by Georgia Tech

    “It feels like stepping on a cushiony surface and having it slowly bring you down,” Ting said.

    To assess their helpfulness, a group of healthy, young volunteers took the new stairs for a spin. A sensor on the top step measured how much work the trailing leg contributed to descending the stairs and how much the leading leg worked to go up the stairs. The subjects didn’t have prior knowledge about the technology nor were they provided with information about the purpose of the steps before using them.

    The technology reduced the workload during an ascent by 17 percent overall and the work of the knee joint by 37 percent.

    And to their surprise, the stairs descent served a dual purpose. Though the team intended the steps to merely store energy during a downward climb, the device also made going down stairs easier — with the subjects’ ankles working 26 percent less than normal.

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    These reductions are meaningful in the amount of force the lower leg bone must apply on the upper leg bone at the knee, Max Donelan, a physiologist at Simon Fraser University, who was not involved in the study, said.

    “For an older person who has osteoarthritis … that can mean less pain and less progression of their disease,” Donelan said.

    For now the prototype consists of only two steps, which according to Donelan is a satisfactory starting point. The springs, sensors and latches for these hi-tech stairs cost less than $50 per step. In the exoskeleton field, there’s a growing recognition that proof of concept trials are necessary.

    A demo of the energy-recycling stairs that store a user’s energy during descent and return energy to the user during ascent.

    “The more complicated part of the equation isn’t the device you built from scratch, it’s the user,” Donelan said.

    Steve Collins, a mechanical engineer at Carnegie Mellon University, who was not involved in the study, but whose ankle exoskeleton design catalyzed the project, agrees. “It’s a promising initial result that suggests we should put more thought into the development of these kinds of systems,” he said.

    The prototype is still limited in other ways. For instance, the current model can only be used by one person at a time. The springs cannot store energy from more than one person’s descent. A user must first descend the stairs to load the device with energy before it can assist them up the stairs.

    In the future, Liu and Ting want to build a full flight of stairs and eventually try them with an older demographic. But they see the potential of such stairs to also aid people recovering from knee surgery and for pregnant women.

    The post These stairs recycle your energy so they’re easier to climb appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Internet privacy

    NewsHour viewers and educators submitted questions on media literacy and fake news. File photo by REUTERS/Steve Marcus

    We’ve all picked up a smartphone and clicked on a viral story on social media  — or felt overwhelmed and exhausted by an onset of news. A new study shows that in certain circumstances, everyone is susceptible to sharing less-than-truthful online content. So what can you do to combat “fake news”? And how do we help kids get savvy about what they’re reading?

    You can start by not lumping all dubious content into one category called fake news, says Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, executive director at the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE).

    At NAMLE’s bi-annual conference in Chicago held in late June, Ciulla Lipkin explained to PBS NewsHour how teachers and librarians can help young people figure out which news sources are reliable, how to understand the role of bias in the media — as well as our own personal biases — and why kids are “hypocrisy radars” when it comes to adults telling them to put down their phones.

    NewsHour viewers and educators submitted questions on media literacy, which we share in short videos in this post, along with additional questions below. Check here to watch the full interview.

    Has the rise of the term “fake news” helped or hurt media literacy?
    –Chris Heffernan, social science and math teacher, Jefferson Junior High School in Naperville, Illinois

    The term “fake news” has called attention to the need for media literacy to the general public in a way that nothing has before. In that way, it has been effective in spreading the importance and urgency of media literacy. However, the term “fake news” is incredibly limiting and simplifies a complex information ecosystem in an ineffective way. The “fake news” conversation puts information into two buckets: fact and fiction. Information is much more nuanced and complicated. The fake news conversation does not allow for detailed discussion about bias, credibility, opinion, journalism, advertising and the structure of the news industry. We need a broad look at the media landscape and information ecosystem in order to do effective media literacy education.

    Can teachers compete in the era of fake news and alternative facts? What are some tips to help teachers combat those issues?
    –James Caudill, middle school history and geography teacher, Owensboro, Kentucky

    I think the use of the word “compete” is really interesting here. It’s so important that you and all teachers recognize your vital role in helping students navigate the flow of information. Your role is more important than ever. I want to see fake news compete against teachers and lose!

    We need to be willing to explore current events through the lens of multiple sources, including ones that are misleading. We need to break them down and do deep analysis with our students. We need to teach our students to ask questions about all information flowing their way. We also should look back over history and explore the history of fake news to give our students context. The concept of fake news is not new, and students should understand when fake news appeared in history and why.

    What are your recommendations for sorting out resources to rely on? I feel like resources for validity on an individual story are there, but how do you approach students who trust new nontraditional sources of delivery and new nontraditional sources of information (over that of tradition outlets)?
    –Greg Oppel, 12th grade social studies teacher, Edmond, Oklahoma

    There is no doubt that students choose to get their “news” and “information” from nontraditional sources. This needs to be embraced in the classroom. It’s important the contemporary sources are explored and analyzed. It is also important for students not to feel that their method of getting information is “wrong” or “ineffective.”

    Bring social media into the classroom. Explore where they are getting their information. Compare those sources with traditional sources. Investigate current events through a wide array of sources. We are going to see a growing reliance on nontraditional sources of information. We need to teach our students to navigate, assess, and evaluate them. And, of course, don’t ever forget the power of media creation to teach lessons about sources and creation of news. There is nothing more powerful than giving students a chance to create their own media to teach them key concepts such as credibility.

    What’s an effective way to enable students to identify appeals to logic versus appeals to emotion?
    –Jacqueline McCarthy, AP Government and economics teacher, High Point Regional High School, Sussex, New Jersey

    This is a really important question, especially when the great majority of information appeals to emotion first. Effective media literacy education is about teaching students habits of inquiry. On our website (www.namle.net), we offer some key questions for analyzing media messages. We can teach our students to ask questions such as:

    • Why was this made?
    • What does this want me to do?
    • How does this make me feel and how do my emotions interpretation of this?
    • What values, information, and points of view are overt? Implied?

    And then we can start to analyze and evaluate the way most media messages seek to create an emotional response.

    Another great way is to explore propaganda in the classroom and compare overt propaganda with more subtle forms of propaganda. Mind Over Media is a great website to use.

    What are some essential questions students should be exploring in a media literacy course?
    –Jose Reyes, 6-12 humanities supervisor and former high school English teacher, Marlborough Public Schools, Mass.

    On our website, we offer some key questions for analyzing media messages. You can use these key questions whether you are exploring a cereal commercial or a Washington Post article or a full length film.

    In my classroom at Brooklyn College, I find the following questions elicit incredible conversation:

    • What is missing from this message?
    • How might different people interpret this message differently?
    • Is this fact, opinion, or something else?

    The post Real things teachers can do to combat fake news appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Donald Trump Jr. stands onstage with his father then-presidential nominee Donald Trump after a debate against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, in September 2016. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    Donald Trump Jr. stands onstage with his father then-presidential nominee Donald Trump after a debate against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, in September 2016. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    In the spirit of the great Jan Brady, last week can only be summed up with three words: “Russia, Russia, Russia.”

    Our attention turned abroad with a flurry of updates from the G20 summit: a cease-fire deal in Syria and the he said-he said accounts of what exactly happened in a meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Then, we learned the president’s son met with a Russian lawyer who offered compromising information about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, though that information was never shared, Donald Trump Jr. said, posting the contents of his email exchanges on Twitter.

    Take a break from the star of the news cycle with these overlooked but important stories that are getting lost in the shuffle.

    1. A federal report points to recent hacking attacks on U.S. energy infrastructure

    The logo of the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

    The logo of the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

    Federal agencies believe hackers have been targeting the computer networks at various nuclear power plants and other energy facilities across the country, a report obtained by The New York Times revealed.

    The joint report by Homeland Security and the FBI said security officials have been responding to attacks at these facilities, including the Wolf Creek Nuclear power plant in Kansas, since May.

    The extent of these breaches wasn’t immediately clear, but a Homeland spokesman told the Times that, “There is no indication of a threat to public safety, as any potential impact appears to be limited to administrative and business networks.”

    There are several unknowns, according to the Times and other outlets. Among them: the exact number of facilities affected, who the hackers were and what exactly they were seeking to do. Sources told Bloomberg that Russia was a suspect. The attacks mimicked the tactics of a Russian hacking group, The Times said. But the true origins of the hackers have not yet been pinned down.

    Why it’s important

    A police vehicle blocks an entrance into the National Security Administration (NSA) facility in Fort Meade, Maryland. Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

    A police vehicle blocks an entrance into the National Security Administration (NSA) facility in Fort Meade, Maryland. Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

    Knowledge of this joint report from Homeland and the FBI comes after two, wide-scale ransomware attacks in a matter of weeks.

    At the end of June, hackers attacked and temporarily disabled the Ukrainian government’s computer systems. Cybersecurity experts believed the attack’s origins to be in Russia, though that has not been proven. And then British investigators blamed North Korea for the WannaCry attacks in May.

    Noteworthy in both of these episodes was that the tools used to carry out these attacks were stolen from the U.S.’ National Security Agency after a hacking group released the cyberweapons in a data dump in April.

    While the NSA and the White House have been mum over the responsibility of these stolen hacking tools, the voices of critics have grown louder, including former CIA Director Leon Panetta.

    “I’m not sure we understand the full capability of what can happen, that these sophisticated viruses can suddenly mutate into other areas you didn’t intend, more and more,” Panetta is quoted as saying in a recent interview. “That’s the threat we’re going to face in the near future,” he added.

    Ransomware is not a new cyberweapon — its origins can be traced back to 1989 — but the level of sophistication seen in the latest global attacks give security experts pause.

    For example, Jon Wellinghoff, the former chairman for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said U.S. infrastructure, while stronger than in years past, is still vulnerable to increasingly advanced hacks.

    “We never anticipated that our critical infrastructure control systems would be facing advanced levels of malware,” Wellinghoff said in a recent interview.

    2. Nooses continue to appear at a higher frequency across the country

    A 2016 photo of the U.S. Mint building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

    A 2016 photo of the U.S. Mint building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

    A U.S. Mint employee was placed on administrative leave after surveillance footage captured the white worker leaving a noose on the factory floor in late June.

    The New York Times, following an emailed tip, got in touch with the Mint workers’ union president, who provided more details, including that the white employee had fashioned the noose out of rope used for coin bags on the factory floor. The coin maker then left the loop of rope at the workstation belonging to a black employee. Surveillance video captured the incident mid-afternoon on June 28.

    Mint officials said in a statement that there was “absolutely zero tolerance” for this behavior, adding that an internal investigation was underway, CBS Philly reported.

    Why it’s important

    We’ve seen this year a string of reported cases involving the hangman’s noose, long a racist expression meant to terrorize and intimidate African-Americans.

    Many of the reports focused on the nation’s capital, with nooses found at several museums in Washington, D.C., including the Hirshhorn Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The Times also cited noose sightings in Florida, North Carolina and Maryland in the past few months.

    The Times also noted the recent ramped-up activities of the Ku Klux Klan. The racist organization is associated with the noose, a symbol evocative of lynchings and racial terror in the U.S.

    Recently, bananas were found hanging from nooses on the campus of American University in Washington, D.C. The racist displays were discovered the same day Taylor Dumpson, 21, started her role as student government president. She’s the first black woman to hold that position in the institution’s history.

    Taylor Dumpson described to the Times what happened when she was able to process the moment after days of addressing students’ concerns and media requests.

    “I went into a panic mode,” she told the Times. “When there’s a hurricane or a tornado they always tell you to get in a hallway between two walls, crouch down, turn the lights off — that was my immediate reaction. I was concerned for my safety. I closed all the blinds, closed the doors, everything was dark, and I just sat in the hallway crying,” she said.

    3. Rural Americans more likely to die of cancer than residents in urban areas, CDC says

    A breast cancer patient receives a chemotherapy drip at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images

    A breast cancer patient receives a chemotherapy drip at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images

    People living in rural areas are less likely to be diagnosed with cancer, but more likely to die of the disease. That’s according to new government data that highlights cancer health disparities between rural and urban America and signals the need for targeted improvements in cancer screening and treatment, researchers say.

    In what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call the nation’s first comprehensive look at cancer incidence and mortality, the study shows that doctors diagnosed rural residents with cancer at a lower rate — 442.4 incidence per 100,000 people — than in urban areas, where the rate was 457.3 incidence per 100,000, according to 2004-2015 cancer incidence and mortality data from the CDC and the National Institutes of Health. But when researchers analyzed cancer death rates, they found people in more remote areas died at a greater rate — 180.4 deaths per 100,000 — than people in more urban areas, where people died at 157.8 deaths per 100,000, said Jane Henley, an epidemiologist with the CDC who analyzes data from the National Program of Cancer Registries and factors that influence preventable cancers, such as tobacco and alcohol use, exercise and obesity.

    “Geography shouldn’t be a risk factor,” Henley told the NewsHour.

    Why it’s important

    For years, cancer has rivaled heart disease as one of the most common causes of death among Americans. This year, nearly 1.7 million Americans will be newly diagnosed with cancer, and roughly 600,000 Americans will die of it, according to estimates from the National Cancer Institute. Greater availability of and access to cancer screening tests, especially for lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancers, could bring needed attention and treatment to the illness earlier and improve the odds of a patient’s survival, regardless of where that person lives, Henley said.

    People in rural U.S. counties are spread across vast stretches of land. According to 2015 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency that determines which counties qualify as rural, 46.2 million residents, or 14 percent of the nation’s population, are scattered across nearly three-quarters of U.S. land. Between 2010 and 2014, rural populations slightly declined before leveling off in 2015.

    In rural communities, just traveling to a doctor’s office for a screening test can be an obstacle to fighting cancer, Henley said: “Instead of a trip you could take on your lunch break, it could be a whole-day endeavor.”

    States need to explore their own data and develop targeted strategies to improve cancer screening and outcomes for more remote communities, said Henley, who lives in suburban Atlanta but whose parents live in rural Indiana and face day-long treks for doctor’s appointments.

    “The differences between rural and urban areas seems to be getting worse over time,” she said. “We need to do more to level the playing field so that people can benefit no matter where they live.”

    4. Water systems are crumbling. What should local governments do about it?

    Water gushes out of a major water main break on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California September 27, 2014. A large water pipe burst under West Hollywood on Friday, flooding the famed Sunset Strip and forcing authorities to shut down the thoroughfare to vehicle traffic during the evening rush hour. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn  (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER TRANSPORT) - RTR47YA8

    Water gushes out of a major water main break on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California September 27, 2014. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn.

    When people talk about the country’s infrastructure needs, they usually focus on bridges, railways and highways.

    But there are more than 51,300 community water systems across the country, according to the American Civil Society of Engineers. Many, faced with aging pipes and mounting debt, are wrestling with whether to hand over control to for-profit corporations — a fundamental shift in how American cities handle their drinking water.

    At the moment, 12 percent of Americans get their water from private water systems, the Washington Post reported, which have the funding to move quickly on repairs local governments can’t afford. Twenty-three such sales were made through March of this year, the Post said. The downside: Companies often recoup those costs from taxpayers by hiking rates. Some states also allow companies to spread the cost of repairs across all of the water systems it owns.

    Many of the towns and cities who move forward with that kind of decision are coming to regret it, the Post reported last week, as it chronicled the story of Lake Station, Illinois, and the debate around its June decision to sell its water infrastructure to American Water.

    Why it’s important

    In the mid to late 20th-century, water infrastructure boomed, with millions of pipes laid in towns and cities across the country. Now, those pipes are reaching their lifespan of 75 to 100 years; the ACSE counts 240,000 water main breaks last year, which “can contaminate water, flood streets, disrupt businesses and require expensive emergency repairs,” the Post pointed out.

    Water systems are not sexy, and thus, they don’t usually grab headlines. But they’re inextricably linked to our day to day lives. If neglected, they pose a bevy of issues: “Outdated treatment plants have trouble filtering out potentially harmful chemicals. Old pipes can leach dangerous levels of lead into drinking water. Some communities have higher lead levels than Flint, Michigan, where a confluence of bad decisions and coverups led to widespread lead contamination,” the Post continues.

    The ACSE’s annual infrastructure report card estimated localities will need more than $1 trillion in funding to repair and expand service over the next two and a half decades.

    Yet President Donald Trump’s proposed budget removes nearly $500 in loans for rural water projects; along with other reductions, the funding for water system overhauls is about the same as it was in 1997, the Post said.

    Which brings us to why so many cities are turning to other sources of revenue, or handing off their systems entirely.

    It’s not clear how privatization will help (or hurt) those issues, or relieve local jurisdictions’ financial burdens. But the Post said some municipalities, unsatisfied with rates or services, have actually gone back and tried to reclaim ownership of their infrastructure.

    Either way, these decisions “shouldn’t be rushed,” Janice Beecher, the director of Michigan State University’s Institute of Public Utilities, told the Post. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

    5. Historians release rare glimpse of life in Hiroshima before the U.S. atomic bombing

    New footage released by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum depicts quintessential life in Japan about 10 years prior to the country’s destruction after the U.S. atomic bombing.

    The museum released the 4K resolution film on July 5. The silent 16mm footage shows a bustling Hiroshima: families stroll the city streets and people row boats on the river.

    “The film brings back memories of the days when I rowed boats and went fishing on the Motoyasugawa river,” Tokuso Hamai, 82, told the Japan-based newspaper, The Asahi Shimbun.

    Genjiro Kawasaki, a local Hiroshima resident, captured the footage in the 1930s, and in 1963, donated the video to the museum. Imagica West Corp., a visual production company, helped digitally replicate the film. The film is believed to have been shot between April 4 and 5 in 1935.

    Why it’s important

    Kawasaki’s footage offers a rare glimpse into Hiroshima before it was devastated by the nuclear attack, which occurred on August 6, 1945. During World War II, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb, killing nearly 150,000 people in Hiroshima. Three days later, on August 9, a second atomic bomb killed more than 70,000 in Japan’s northwestern city, Nagasaki.

    Museum staff have made plans to request the public’s help in gathering materials in order to further depict life before the atomic bomb.

    5 important stories that have nothing to do with Trump’s tweets

    The post 5 important stories that have nothing to do with Donald Trump Jr.’s emails appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort talks to the media from the Trump family box on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTSIMJC

    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort talks to the media from the Trump family box on the floor of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Lawmakers said this week they will question Manafort in their ongoing investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections. File photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

    WASHINGTON — The scope of congressional investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential contest came into sharper focus on Wednesday as lawmakers said they intended to question the former chairman of the Trump campaign and to determine whether Russian social media “trolls” were connected to Trump’s election efforts.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to question former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and will subpoena him if necessary, according to the panel’s Republican chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa. He said he and the committee’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein of California, have agreed to try to bring Manafort before the panel for questioning about the government’s enforcement of a law requiring registration of foreign lobbyists. Feinstein’s office confirmed that they plan to question him.

    Manafort would certainly also be asked about his participation in a Trump Tower meeting last summer with President Donald Trump’s eldest son and son-in-law, where the purpose was to hear potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton from a Russian lawyer.

    MORE: Trump Jr.‘s emails on Russia meeting raise question of what the president knew

    Manafort disclosed the meeting in a package of information he provided to the Senate and House intelligence committees, who have been investigating potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, as is Robert Mueller, the former FBI director appointed by the Justice Department as the special counsel.

    “Obviously it would be appropriate for anybody to get into anything that went on at that meeting, and he was at that meeting,” Grassley told Iowa reporters.

    A person close to Manafort said that he hasn’t yet received a letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee about a possible interview. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Manafort’s private interactions with the committee.

    MORE: Why Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting to discuss damaging Clinton info matters
    Separately, Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said his panel wants to look at the use of Russian social media “trolls” and whether they were connected to the Trump election campaign.

    That concern is “certainly something we want to explore,” along with the Trump campaign’s data analytics, as part of a broader committee investigation into Russian meddling, Schiff said. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, oversaw digital strategy for the campaign.

    The lawmakers spoke one day after Donald Trump Jr. disclosed on Twitter a series of emails that revealed his eagerness to hear negative material on Clinton from a Russian lawyer.

    The exchange showed Trump Jr. conversing with a music publicist who wanted him to meet with a “Russian government attorney” who supposedly had dirt on Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” He was told the Russian government had information that could “incriminate” Clinton and her dealings with Russia.

    “I love it,” Trump Jr. said in one email response.

    On Wednesday, the president declared in a tweet that his son was “open, transparent and innocent.” Defending his son’s conduct, Trump again dismissed the ongoing Russia investigation as the “greatest Witch Hunt in political history.”

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

    The president’s attorney, Jay Sekulow, said in an interview with NBC’s “Today” that Trump Jr. did not violate any laws by accepting the meeting. He said the president had not been aware of Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting and didn’t find out about his son’s email exchange until “very recently.”

    Sekulow said the president was not being investigated by Mueller. “I would know a little bit about it. I’m one of the lawyers,” Sekulow told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

    As the emails reverberated across the political world, Trump Jr. defended his actions in an interview with Fox News, blaming the decision to take the meeting on the “million miles per hour” pace of a presidential campaign and his suspicion that the lawyer might have information about “underreported” scandals involving Clinton. Trump Jr. said the meeting “really went nowhere” and that he never told his father about it because there was “nothing to tell.”

    “In retrospect I probably would have done things a little differently,” Trump Jr. said.

    Investigations into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign have shadowed the White House for months.

    In an interview taped Wednesday, Trump told Christian broadcast station CBN that he believes he and Russian President Vladimir Putin “get along very, very well.” But he says Putin will always want “what’s good for Russia, and I want what’s good for the United States.”

    White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in an off-camera briefing Wednesday that “our goal is to be as transparent as humanly possible” when it comes to Russia.

    Associated Press writers David Pitt in Des Moines, Iowa, Nekesa Mumbi Moody in New York, Julie Bykowicz, Mary Clare Jalonick, Michael Biesecker, Stephen Braun, Ken Thomas and Matthew Daly in Washington, and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.

    The post Senate Judiciary Committee to question Trump campaign chairman in ongoing Russia probe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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