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

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    Jan Bello casts her vote for Georgia's 6th Congressional District special election at St. Bede's Episcopal Church in Tucker, Georgia, U.S., June 20, 2017.  REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry - RTS17WPK

    By compiling a national list of registered voters, the federal government could provide one-stop shopping for hackers and hostile foreign governments seeking to wreak havoc with elections, critics say about Trump’s voter fraud commission. Photo by REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry.

    CHERRY HILL, N.J. — Officials from both major political parties had a consistent answer last year when asked about the security of voting systems: U.S. elections are so decentralized that it would be impossible for hackers to manipulate ballot counts or voter rolls on a wide scale.

    But the voter fraud commission established by President Donald Trump could take away that one bit of security.

    The commission has requested information on voters from every state and recently won a federal court challenge to push ahead with the collection, keeping it in one place.

    By compiling a national list of registered voters, the federal government could provide one-stop shopping for hackers and hostile foreign governments seeking to wreak havoc with elections, critics say.

    “Coordinating a national voter registration system located in the White House is akin to handing a zip drive to Russia,” said Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat who has refused to send data to the commission.

    Trump, a Republican, appointed the commission, led by Vice President Mike Pence, to examine integrity of the voting system, including practices that “could lead to improper voter registrations and improper voting.” The president has asserted repeatedly and without evidence that several million fraudulent votes were cast in last year’s election. Voting experts say that there is not widespread election fraud in the U.S. But Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign and Russian attempts to meddle with state election systems have raised concerns about U.S. election security.

    In June, commission Vice Chairman Kris Kobach, the Republican secretary of state in Kansas, asked state election officials for information about registered voters. The request included details such as driver’s license and partial Social Security numbers — if they’re considered public in the states. Several officials interpreted the request as saying that all the data would be made available publicly; the commission has since said that individual voters’ information would be kept private.

    READ MORE: What could Trump’s election commission do with voter data?

    Fourteen states plus the District of Columbia say they won’t hand over the information, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Those that are complying have said that not everything on the commission’s checklist could be shared under their state laws. Social Security numbers are widely off limits; in several states, birthdates and political party registrations are, too.

    The IRS, the Social Security Administration, banks and internet companies, among other entities, have far more information about many citizens. Political parties and other organizations have access to some voter registration information, though that permission often comes with restrictions on how they can use it and how widely they can share it.

    Still, security experts and fair election advocates say that any records stored on computers are susceptible to attacks.

    “It’s creating more security vulnerabilities in our election system that don’t seem to be necessary,” said Barbara Simons, president of Verified Voting, an organization that advocates for transparent, accurate and verifiable elections.

    Still, Bruce Schneier, the chief technology officer at the online security firm IBM Resilient, said hacking into a federal database can’t affect voters’ information in their home states. He said having a copy of data that’s already on a federal hard drive “doesn’t make it that much worse, assuming the federal government isn’t idiotic about it.”

    Fourteen states plus the District of Columbia say they won’t hand over the information. Those that are complying have said that not everything on the commission’s checklist could be shared under their state laws.

    A massive database of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management was hacked in 2015, compromising the personnel records of millions of federal employees as well as the security clearance information for many of them, which included personal information about their friends and relatives. The hack compromised the information of up to 21 million people. U.S. officials have said there were attempts by Russians to hack into election systems in 21 states. The FBI has confirmed intrusions into voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois.

    Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, a Republican, said last month that “the release of private information creates a tremendous breach of trust with voters who work hard to protect themselves against identity fraud.” But in a statement this week, the Republican said he is not deeply worried about how the data the state is sharing will be guarded. “Because this data is public information, we have limited concerns regarding sharing it with the commission in terms of how it is housed,” he said.

    Andrew Appel, a Princeton University computer science professor who studies voting technology, said a new federal voter information database probably would not allow a hacker to manipulate data to make it look like some eligible voters are ineligible. “If someone hacked their database, they could come to believe things that aren’t true,” Appel said.

    Commission spokesman Marc Lotter said states will send the data through a secure connection and it will be encrypted and kept on a White House system “designed to handle sensitive information.”

    Appel said states have all made some efforts to protect their own voter registration data from hacks. “At least initially,” he said, “the president’s commission didn’t seem to have in place any organized way to secure this data.”

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

    In Maine, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democrat who is a member of Trump’s voting commission, is not handing over the information.

    Dunlap said the information the commission is getting from other states “isn’t wicked intimate” and may be too sparse to identity ineligible registered voters. Another commission member, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, said in a statement that the commission is aware of limitations of the data. But Lawson, a Republican, said the commission’s work using the information could help find ways to help states improve the “quality and integrity” of their voter rolls.

    But it could still be hacked, Dunlap said.

    “The best way to protect people’s private information,” Dunlap said, “is not to have it in the first place.”

    The post Trump’s voter fraud commission could create target for hackers, critics say appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Continuing our week of books, we take an intimate look at the fight for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.

    Jeffrey Brown has the latest addition to the “NewsHour” Bookshelf.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In may 2011, Manal al-Sharif drove a car. That is remarkable only because it happened in Saudi Arabia, where women are banned from driving and many other activities in what most of us would consider normal, daily life. She was arrested and spent nine days in prison, before an international outcry helped gain her release.

    She’s continued her activism for women’s rights, now living outside her native country, and she’s written her story in the new book “Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening.”

    I want to ask you first about this idea of an awakening, because you write about yourself in your early life very much part of the system. When a group of women drove in 1990, and as a kind of a public protest, you scorned them.

    MANAL AL-SHARIF, Author, “Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening”: Yes. Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But something happened to you.

    MANAL AL-SHARIF: Because we got the wrong story. They didn’t have a voice. We heard about them. We didn’t hear from them, until the moment of truth came to me in 2011, when I started my own campaign, and I got to know their story. They’re my inspiration.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What did you see in the system? You refer to it as the guardianship system.

    MANAL AL-SHARIF: Yes. Yes.

    The male guardianship system is the one — the source of all evil when it comes to women’s rights in my country, where I am 38, mother of two, and an engineer, but I’m still a minor. I’m legally minor. I need permission from a man to do anything in my life. And that man could be my father, my husband.

    And it could even be my own son, if he is an adult.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All this — this affects all parts of daily life.

    MANAL AL-SHARIF: Every single part of your life.

    (CROSSTALK)

    JEFFREY BROWN: Is there any space where you feel freedom or a freedom to act or move?

    MANAL AL-SHARIF: Things has been loosened now.

    One of them is, for example, going to school. Now I don’t have to get permission to go to school or open a bank account. Imagine, these things I had to get permission to do before.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, driving became the …

    MANAL AL-SHARIF: Symbol.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The symbol, right?

    MANAL AL-SHARIF: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Why driving?

    MANAL AL-SHARIF: Nothing will emancipate women in my country like driving, because it gives them a sense of independence. It gives them a sense of liberty and freedom.

    And that breaks all the things they have been learned and brainwashed with, that we are — we have to be — obedience to these unjust laws, and we’re weak, we cannot take decisions by our own. This will give independence to women. This is what I believe, at least.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What is it that keeps the system in place, the system of the gender relations?

    MANAL AL-SHARIF: Two things, men prejudice, and women submissive. These two things need to be changed to change the system.

    JEFFREY BROWN: How much is it changing? How strong is the movement?

    I mean, I see even recently, in recent weeks, there have been some arrests of women for various kinds of behavior.

    MANAL AL-SHARIF: Yes. True, true.

    There have been arrests for some of the leaders for this movement, which is good, by the way. That means they’re recognizing it’s influential and it’s making an impact.

    The millennial generation, the Internet-native generation of women, are changing — they’re changing the rules of the game in Saudi Arabia. They’re outspoken. They’re fearless. They’re courageous. And they really don’t submit to the rules my generation submitted to.

    And I do believe women have the key to change, if they break the wall of fear, if they challenge these unjust laws. And I have been told always respect the law. And I always say — I use the line from suffragettes. I say, I will respect laws that respect me.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Mm-hmm. You’re quoting the suffragettes.

    MANAL AL-SHARIF: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And you clearly studied your history, women’s history.

    MANAL AL-SHARIF: Yes. Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What is it that, for you, was — caused that change, I mean, of learning all this history and wanting to become part of it?

    MANAL AL-SHARIF: Do you know when I started? I have always been an activist, and I didn’t know. I have never read about the other feminists or activists.

    But when you face so much backlash, so much hardship, so much pain, you seek relief in places, in history, stories that happened to the same people doing the same things that you’re doing.

    So, I started watching movies about the women’s right movement — I mean, the movement to get the women vote in the U.S. I watched suffragettes. I read Rosa Parks’ book.

    And I was amazed by the similarities between my story and them. And I’m studying how they changed the system by the nonviolence, the civil disobedience and nonviolent struggle.

    And it’s amazing to me when I was watching these things. The civil rights movement itself, remove the black people, put Saudi women. This is exactly the situation in Saudi Arabia today.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You go through the book through many experiences that you had of being in prison, of having to leave the country, having to leave…

    MANAL AL-SHARIF: My own son.

    JEFFREY BROWN: … your children behind from your former marriage.

    Do you have regrets now? What is your life like now?

    MANAL AL-SHARIF: Jeff, I do have a lot of regrets in my life. I think we are all — as humans, we do have regrets.

    But the speaking up, I have never regretted that, because, if I didn’t speak up, I would lose myself.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the book is “Daring to Drive.”

    Manal Al-Sharif, thank you very much.

    MANAL AL-SHARIF: Thank you.

    The post Why this Saudi activist says driving is the ultimate female emancipation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: bringing care to women in a country whose medical facilities, already scarce, were destroyed by years of civil war.

    Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on the mission of one woman in Somaliland. It’s part of his series Agents for Change.

    She had a very easy delivery, had a delivery last night.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It was a pretty typical day at the Edna Adan Hospital. Three babies had just been born, a half-dozen high-risk women were in labor, several others were being treated for life-threatening illnesses, and at the center of it all, the hospital’s founder and namesake, Edna Adan.

    EDNA ADAN, Founder, Edna Adan University Hospital: These are the kind of women I built the hospital for anyway, anemic, a woman who has had previous complications, a woman who has a scar, a woman who has lost babies before.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: What is especially remarkable is where this is all taking place, in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, an enclave that declared its independence three decades ago from the war-torn Somalia, but is not recognized by the rest of the world.

    The region suffers from some of the world’s highest rates of infant and maternal mortality. Adan was born here 79 years ago, the daughter of a prominent physician. At 17, she won a scholarship to study in England, becoming a midwife. She returned to Somalia, marrying a politician who would become prime minister. She’s seen with him here and next to President Lyndon Johnson at a White House reception.

    She fled Somalia’s civil war in the 1980s. When Edna Adan returned to her native Hargeisa, the city lay in ruin from years of war. She was given a plot of land that had been used as a burial ground and on it laid the foundation for rebuilding the city’s health care system.

    EDNA ADAN: Most doctors had fled. Some had been killed.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Adan had worked for the U.N. while in exile and used her savings and a fund-raising campaign to build what had been a lifelong dream: a nonprofit hospital and nursing school designed to specifically address the health needs of women.

    In 2002, she opened the 45-bed hospital, which has since doubled in size and grown to include an outpatient clinic and two surgical theaters.

    EDNA ADAN: We have delivered 20,000 babies in the past 15 years. And we have the lowest maternal mortality. We’re a quarter of the national rate. And it’s still too many. Many of those women shouldn’t have been lost, shouldn’t have died. But they bring them too late.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Another factor in the high rate of maternal death and various complications in labor is female genital mutilation. Nearly 95 percent of young girls in this country are thought to be subjected to genital cutting.

    Adan has become an outspoken critic of the practice.

    EDNA ADAN: My mission now is to talk to fathers. I am blue in the face talking to mothers.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But it’s the mothers who are taking the daughters to have this done, right?

    EDNA ADAN: If a father says no and puts his foot down, there will be a chance that some of these girls will be saved.

    Space, your child, happy, clean, healthy.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: She has also become a vocal advocate for family planning in this conservative Islamic society. Adan planned to counsel this patient who was rushed here by her husband the previous night, hemorrhaging badly after she miscarried what would have been her seventh baby.

    EDNA ADAN: The first advice that we will tell her when she comes back from a — before she goes home, is not to get pregnant.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Is she any way equipped to control that decision?

    EDNA ADAN: That decision, we usually do with the husband, because, at a moment like that, he is somebody who almost lost a wife. He ran with her. He brought her here. His wife is alive. He doesn’t want to go through that again.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The hospital does offer limited family planning services, most frequently implantable contraceptives for women.

    As Edna Adan’s reputation has grown, so has its mission. The hospital now treats men, and it brings in physicians and surgeons from the U.S. and other countries who volunteer to do specialized procedures, treating patients with cleft palate, and hydrocephalus, among other things, all free of charge.

    EDNA ADAN: You see, they’re totally conjoined.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Sometimes, all the hospital can offer is compassion. This pair of eight-month-old twins, conjoined at the heart, were discharged from another hospital soon after they were born.

    EDNA ADAN: They’re not going to find oxygen anywhere else. So whatever we can do palliatively, we will do. But surgery is totally out of the question.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: So it’s palliative — palliative care until nature takes its course.

    EDNA ADAN: Until nature takes — yes, god makes that decision. I don’t want to be the one that switches it off.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In a region where roads are poor to nonexistent, getting to the Hargeisa hospital can be daunting.

    So, Adan has a team of midwives and nurses to treat women and children in the vast rural areas of Somaliland.

    Khadan Abdilahi was in the first class of midwives to graduate. We watched as she helped vaccinate newborn babies at a small clinic in Abdi Iidan (ph), and then teach a prenatal class on nutrition for these pregnant women at a refugee camp.

    KHADAN ABDILAHI, Midwife: Edna is a role model for myself.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Edna is a role model for you?

    Thirty-year-old Dr. Shukri Mohamed Dahir was also trained as a nurse and midwife by Edna Adan. She went on to become a physician and surgeon, and is now back practicing at the Adan Hospital.

    She says, initially, patients weren’t sure about the idea of a woman in that job.

    DR. SHUKRI MOHAMED DAHIR, Surgeon, Edna Adan Hospital: When I was dealing with an emergency case, they used to say, oh, you are a female and you’re going to operate? That’s very — maybe she will die. That idea still exists. But it’s not as strong as when I graduated.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Although she’s groomed new doctors and midwives, Edna Adan, almost 80, has not chosen a successor.

    EDNA ADAN: I have 800 graduates from various courses. I have thousands of people whose lives I have touched. And they’re all my children. And I’m still looking for someone who is crazy enough to say: I will look after them for you, the way you did.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: If only for that reason, Edna Adan says, she has no plans to slow down anytime soon.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Fred de Sam Lazaro in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what an inspiration she is.

    Fred’s reporting is part of the Under-Told Stories Project at University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

    The post How one woman brought life-saving maternity care to Somaliland appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un watches a military drill in this handout photo by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency. KCNA/Handout via Reuters

    North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un watches a military drill in this handout photo by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency. North Korea’s military says President Donald Trump’s warning of “fire and fury” if it threatens the U.S. is a “load of nonsense.” KCNA/Handout via Reuters

    WASHINGTON — North Korea on Wednesday officially dismissed President Donald Trump’s threats of “fire and fury,” declaring the American leader “bereft of reason” and warning ominously, “Only absolute force can work on him.”

    In a statement released on state media, General Kim Rak Gyom, who heads North Korea’s rocket command, also said his country was “about to take” military action near the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam. He said the North would finalize a plan by mid-August involving mid-range missiles hitting waters 30 to 40 kilometers (19 to 25 miles) away from the island.

    The plan will then go to the commander in chief of North Korea’s nuclear force and “wait for his order,” Kim was quoted by KCNA as saying. He called it a “historic enveloping fire at Guam.”

    The statement only served to escalate tensions even further in a week that has seen a barrage of threats from both sides. While nuclear confrontation still seems incredibly remote, the comments have sparked deep unease in the United States, Asia and beyond.

    WATCH: State Department says it agrees with Trump’s fiery threat to North Korea

    A day after evoking the use of overwhelming U.S. military might, Trump touted America’s atomic supremacy. He said his first order as president was to “renovate and modernize” an arsenal that is “now far stronger and more powerful than ever before.”

    It was a rare public flexing of America’s nuclear might. And Trump’s boasting only added to the confusion over his administration’s approach to dealing with North Korea’s expanding nuclear capabilities on a day when his top national security aides wavered between messages of alarm and reassurance.

    If Trump’s goal with two days of tough talk was to scare North Korea, Kim, the commander, put that idea quickly to rest.

    He called Trump’s rhetoric a “load of nonsense” that was aggravating a grave situation.

    “Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him,” the KNCA report quoted him saying.

    Kim said the Guam action would be “an effective remedy for restraining the frantic moves of the U.S. in the southern part of the Korean peninsula and its vicinity.”

    PBS NewsHour will update this story as more information becomes available.

    The post North Korea says it will have plan for attack on Guam by mid-August appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Find all of the stories in our series Stopping Superbugs

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: our special series Stopping Superbugs.

    This week science correspondent, Miles O’Brien and economics correspondent Paul Solman tag-team again for a look at how the use of antibiotics in livestock can lead to unhealthy, even dangerous outcomes.

    Miles begins at a Missouri pig farm, as part of our weekly science series, Leading Edge.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Pig farmer Russ Kremer is up early, tending to his herd, talking to the animals.

    RUSSIANS KREMER, Heritage Foods: I have the ability to interact with pigs. I think that they are the smartest, most social animals. I tell people that, if you like kids, you love pigs.

    MILES O’BRIEN: He is the fifth generation in the Kremer clan to farm this plot of land in Frankenstein, Missouri. He introduced me to the newest residents.

    RUSS KREMER: Everything that we do on this farm as far as feeding, and as far as production, as far as genetics, that all has to do with keeping them healthy.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Russ Kremer is obsessed with keeping his pigs healthy, because he knows firsthand that his own health depends on it.

    RUSS KREMER: That’s about as good as it’s going to get.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Thirty years ago, the farmer from Frankenstein created a monster after he adopted industrial farming techniques to increase his pig production.

    RUSS KREMER: My pigs were unhealthy. I would go through my pigpens three times a day, injecting them with antibiotics to cure some sort of chronic diseases that I had on my place.

    And, in fact, I was actually growing superbugs in this farm and didn’t know it.

    MILES O’BRIEN: How he found out nearly killed him. He was gored in the leg by a boar, and the wound became infected. His doctor told him not to worry, antibiotics were the cure. But it wasn’t that simple.

    RUSS KREMER: We tried two different tetracyclines. We tried streptomycin. We tried erythromycin, amoxicillin, seven different antibiotics in total, to no avail.

    MILES O’BRIEN: So he checked the reports from his veterinarian to see what infections his pigs had and what antibiotics worked for them.

    RUSS KREMER: It came back, resistant, resistant, resistant, resistant. And finally, aha, there was one antibiotic at that time that had some effect on that disease. They treated me, and thank God there were this new-generation drug. And so that transformed my life.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Molecular microbiologist Lance Price also grew up on a farm, a cattle ranch. He watched firsthand as a neighboring dairy went from a small-scale family operation to an high-density, industrial-scale farm.

    They are called concentrated animal feeding operations. Lance Price says they are fertile breeding grounds for disease.

    LANCE PRICE, George Washington University: You pack them together, snout to tail in the case of pigs, and beak to feather in the case of chickens and turkeys, they’re going to share bacteria.

    So we have engineered a system that makes them sick. Rather than change that system, we actually just add low doses of antibiotics to try to prevent infections.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Price and his team at George Washington University conduct large epidemiological studies of meat that is sold in grocery stores. They culture the bacteria found on the meat and test to see how they react to disks saturated with antibiotics. He is hunting for superbugs.

    LANCE PRICE: If they’re susceptible, that is, not resistant, to the antibiotic, they will be inhibited. They won’t grow near the disk. But when they grow right up to the disk, like all of these, that means that that bacteria is resistant to all those antibiotics. You don’t want to get infected with one of these.

    And these are bacteria that we actually isolated from the food supply.

    MILES O’BRIEN: He sequences the genomes of E. coli from food and from people, comparing them to a database of 7,000 distinct types of the bacteria.

    LANCE PRICE: We’re trying to figure out, hey, did this urinary tract infection come from the E. coli from animals or from food?

    MILES O’BRIEN: He says there is a strong case linking the use of antibiotics in livestock to the spread of drug-resistant bacteria in humans.

    LANCE PRICE: So, on every grocery store shelf in this country, I guarantee you you’re going to find drug-resistant bacteria on the meats of those shelves. And then they get in our guts when we consume the meat from those animals.

    Most of the time, that’s a dead end, right? We will eventually get rid of those bacteria. We will shed them away. But, sometimes, they will take hold.

    MILES O’BRIEN: In the 1950s, farmers discovered feeding livestock steady, low doses of antibiotics made them grow faster. But this so-called subtherapeutic use of these precious drugs raised concern in the medical community and the government.

    In 1977, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed a ban on subtherapeutic uses of penicillin and tetracycline in animal production. But the rule was never enacted. And the problem worsened.

    In 1989, human and livestock usage of antibiotics was about equal. Today, agriculture accounts for about three-quarters of all the antibiotics used in the United States.

    MAE WU, Natural Resources Defense Council: We have to stop now. We have to stop abusing them now, so that we can slow this problem down.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Mae Wu is a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    MAE WU: Using antibiotics and misusing them just to make animals get fatter or so you can cram more together and have more stressful conditions and feed them worse diets is the worst way to be using these incredibly important drugs.

    MILES O’BRIEN: In 2010, the NRDC, sued the FDA to force it adopt its own rule. Instead, it released new regulations limiting the use of medically important antibiotics in animals to when it is necessary for assuring animal health and with veterinary oversight and/or consultation.

    Liz Wagstrom is the chief veterinarian at the National Pork Producers Council.

    LIZ WAGSTROM, National Pork Producers Council: The pork industry believes that the most judicious uses of antibiotics are those for treatment, control and prevention of diseases.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Wagstrom says the pork industry will follow the FDA guidance, but she says pork producers will continue to use antibiotics as a routine disease-prevention tool even if there are no illnesses detected in their livestock.

    LIZ WAGSTROM: It is a judicious and responsible use of antibiotics to go ahead and prophylactically treat some of those animals when we know they’re exposed, we know that it’s a specific disease, and we’re going to use that antibiotic for a defined duration of use.

    MILES O’BRIEN: This is a huge loophole, as my colleague Paul Solman discovered in his conversation with Johns Hopkins University environmental health scientist Ellen Silbergeld.

    ELLEN SILBERGELD, Johns Hopkins University: What has been stated as the recommendations, not enforceable policy, by the FDA is that agriculture shouldn’t use antibiotics for growth promotion anymore, but they are still permitted to use the exact same amounts of antibiotics in feeds for prevention. So, I think the category of prevention now has blown up.

    MILES O’BRIEN: No need to worry about this at Russ Kremer’s farm in Frankenstein, Missouri. His pigs do not spend their life confined indoors cheek to jowl. They have much more space, easy access to pastures, even a wooded area Kremer calls his pig park.

    He is trying to mimic what pigs would find in nature.

    RUSS KREMER: This is the best place in America to raise pigs, in my mind.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Right here?

    RUSS KREMER: Right here.

    MILES O’BRIEN: He rarely uses antibiotics at all, and then only if an animal is sick. Antibiotics saved Russ Kremer’s life 30 years ago. Today, he’s doing all he can to return the favor.

    RUSS KREMER: They’re lifesavers. And what we have to ingrained into people’s mind, in society’s mind is we have to do everything we can to preserve them. It’s the most important, the most critical health issue in the world. And I’m here to do whatever I can.

    MILES O’BRIEN: After I got back from Frankenstein, I sat down with Paul Solman to share some anecdotes from Russ Kremer’s bucolic pig farm.

    So, Russ Kremer was ahead of his time, but the market has kind of caught up to what he is doing. It’s still a small piece of the big pie. Just a few thousand are raised in the way Russ does.

    So, the question is, is it scalable?

    PAUL SOLMAN: Well, in chickens, producers claim that 30 percent of the market or something like that, the chickens are raised antibiotics-free.

    So, that’s where we’re going next, actually. That’s our next story.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m economics correspondent Paul Solman.

    MILES O’BRIEN: And I am science correspondent Miles O’Brien.

    The post How industrial farming techniques can breed superbugs appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FERGUSON — A partially burned American flag lies on the street near the spot where Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri in 2015. Photo by REUTERS/Rick Wilking

    Sierra Smith had heard gunshots in the neighborhood before, but never this close.

    The longtime Ferguson, Missouri, resident was on her way to a nearby park with her two children when they heard the first shot. At first, she thought it was a firecracker, but it was louder than that. It echoed.

    Smith ran with her son and daughter, then 6 and 4, to her cousin’s apartment nearby.

    Growing up, Smith was taught to hit the floor and stay there until the gunshots stopped or the sirens began. When the noise stopped, she made her way back outside.

    There, just outside the complex on Canfield Drive, Smith saw a police officer, gun still in hand, ordering people onto the sidewalk.

    And then she saw him: “Mike Mike,” a teen from the neighborhood who had played in her apartment, face down on the asphalt.

    There was no police tape yet to isolate the crime scene, and no sirens in the distance.

    *****

    When Ferguson authorities arrived at the scene of the Aug. 9, 2014, shooting, they found Michael Brown’s belongings scattered around a police SUV: a red St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap, two bracelets and a pair of Nike sandals. Closer to Brown’s body, they found most of the casings from the 12 bullets Officer Darren Wilson had fired.

    “State violence is not new to black people. It’s just something was different about how Michael Brown was killed.”

    It wasn’t until 4:37 p.m. that day — more than 4.5 hours after Smith heard the gunfire – that medical workers finally transported the body of the 18-year-old black teenager to a morgue. As more people in the neighborhood gathered at the police tape, outrage grew at the sight of Brown’s body, uncovered and exposed in the summer heat.

    Police eventually laid a white sheet over the body, but Brown’s feet stuck out. Blood trickled from the other end, running along the yellow lines of the two-way road. The image was captured from various angles as bystanders uploaded pixelated cell phone videos and photos to social media. Before police could put up orange screens to further hide the body from view, the image was tweeted and then retweeted. It quickly drew national attention.

    Antonio French, 39, first heard of the shooting from Twitter. The St. Louis Post Dispatch via Twitter said the incident had prompted a “mob reaction.”

    “‘Mob’?” French tweeted back. “You could also use the word ‘community’.”

    He drove to Ferguson to learn more. Once there, he started tweeting nearby West Florissant Avenue, a street near Canfield that would become the main site for protests and clashes between law enforcement in the weeks of unrest that followed.

    The former St. Louis alderman, too, would become a constant presence at events related to Brown’s death, accumulating hundreds of Vine videos and thousands of tweets documenting the aftermath. French often tweeted about the Ferguson police’s “heavy-handed approach.”

    MEMORIAL — A memorial of stuffed animals, flowers, tee-shirts and ball caps remains on November 5, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. The memorial is found at the location where Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

    French’s videos are among the images that have become inextricably linked to the city of Ferguson, a shorthand of sorts for understanding the anger behind the escalating demonstrations: “Hands up, don’t shoot” chants, protesters facing frontline officers, the dogs, armored vehicles, the local QuikTrip burning.

    “I think back to those early days of the protest when I stood side by side with so many other people,” said Clifton Kinnie, who lived a few miles from the spot where Brown was shot. “We stood against that injustice, and we were met with tear gas, we were met with rubber bullets.”

    Kinnie, 17 at the time, had lost his mother to breast cancer a month prior. Already in a state of depression and anxiety, Kinnie came across the image of Brown’s body on Instagram.

    “At first, I didn’t think it was a real image,” he said, but the visual compelled him to join the protests on Canfield. “State violence is not new to black people. It’s just something was different about how Michael Brown was killed. It was very painful.”

    That summer, Kinnie led a series of student protests and encouraged his peers to promote social justice in their communities.

    The Ferguson protests would offer a model for other movements in the larger St. Louis area, elsewhere in Missouri, and in other cities such as Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Cleveland.

    The outrage that fueled the protests was complicated, French said.

    “You have thousands and thousands of people out there [protesting] for different reasons,” French said. But they all shared one major concern: accountability. “Ultimately, we never got it.”

    *****

    Social media accounts of the shooting’s immediate aftermath undersold the chaos police faced, said Thomas Jackson, the Ferguson police chief at the time of the shooting.

    Jackson said several reported gunshots nearby upended the forensics team’s ability to thoroughly process the scene. “Each time that happened, it became an insecure scene,” furthering delaying the process, he said.

    Police Chief Thomas Jackson fields questions related to the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown during a press conference on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

    “And that’s not an excuse — that’s just — that’s what happened,” he added.

    If he could change one thing in the initial hours after Brown was shot, it would be moving the body sooner, Jackson, 60, said. But Jackson, who’s lived in and around Ferguson since he was 10 years old, told the NewsHour that he was hamstrung by protocol; touching the body before the scene was properly processed could be considered police misconduct, he said.

    “But it looked just awful — and I felt bad for the family that was there, but, at the time, there wasn’t an option for that,” he said, adding it was a “lose-lose situation.”

    Months after Brown was killed, a grand jury in St. Louis County declined to indict Wilson in the teen’s death. Months after that announcement, the Department of Justice said it would not bring civil rights charges against the officer. At the same time, the DOJ released a scathing report that called for the Ferguson Police Department to overhaul its criminal justice system. DOJ sued the city in 2016 to force the reforms.

    The report said Ferguson’s police force and court systems systematically violated the rights of African-Americans, who were disproportionately the target for traffic stops, arrests and expensive fines.

    However, some Americans saw the federal government’s scrutiny of Ferguson’s police department as a move that undermined police officers and enabled criminal behavior. During his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump tapped into the notion that the federal government failed to support law enforcement in the country, a concern that persists to this day. A July 2017 Harvard-Harris poll showed 62 percent of Americans feel that the public focus on law enforcement behavior has diminished how well police can do their jobs.

    President Trump has changed how the DOJ approached the issue of police misconduct.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions, now head of the same federal agency that issued these legal reform agreements with troubled police departments, has been critical of the police oversight that was pushed under former Obama.

    “Every step I took and every decision I made that afternoon was by the book. I followed procedures and protocols designed to ensure the fairness and transparency of investigations. … And yet, nearly every one of those moves backfired in some way.”

    “Since then, Ferguson has become an emblem of the tense relationship between law enforcement and the communities we serve, especially our minority communities,” Sessions said in a visit to St. Louis in March.

    Sessions added that the bulk of law enforcement, in recent years, has been “unfairly maligned and blamed for the crimes and unacceptable deeds of a few in their ranks.”

    Shortly after the DOJ report came out, Jackson stepped down as the Ferguson’s police chief. In his book, Jackson said he spent months on the “hot seat, the primary focus of a nation’s outrage.”

    Jackson downplayed the idea of a disconnect between the Ferguson police department and the citizens it swore to protect, saying that many of his police officers were involved with the community before the shooting.

    Not everyone agreed with that assessment.

    “Jackson, in his mind, really feels like he was one of the good guys. He really felt like he was working in this largely African-American community,” French said. “And so, when he and the world learned of this strong resentment and frustration in the poor African-American community, — that is separate largely from the white community and the middle class black community — it caught them off guard.”

    Jackson did concede that the department was ill-equipped to handle the deluge of social media that documented every step the police took, especially in those first few hours after the shooting.

    “Every step I took and every decision I made that afternoon was by the book. I followed procedures and protocols designed to ensure the fairness and transparency of investigations. I made the safety and security of the public my chief concern, as did every commander and officer at the scene,” Jackson said in the book. “And yet, nearly every one of those moves backfired in some way.”

    *****

    Now, three years later, Ferguson has seen some changes. The city council, once overwhelmingly white, is more diverse. Community activists have moved from demonstrations in the streets to becoming aldermans or representatives of the city.

    Despite the Trump administration’s signals to change the federal government’s approach to police reforms agreements, known as consent decrees, Ferguson officials have said they’ll continue to work with the DOJ on improving their recruiting and hiring practices, and use-of-force guidelines, the Post-Dispatch reported.

    Protestors — A protester sits in her car waiting to see what happens during another night of demonstrating in Ferguson, Missouri August 11, 2015. Photo by REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

    The St. Louis Urban League also recently built a resource center where the neighborhood QuikTrip used to be. The convenience store was burned down by protesters days into the unrest that followed the shooting.

    That type of “community empowerment” is a step in the right direction, but more must be done, said Clifton Kinnie, who has continued his activism at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he is a rising junior and political science major. A community’s safety doesn’t hinge on better policing alone, the young activist said; it’s also about seeking political power, raising the minimum wage, Medicaid expansion, investments in schools and job training.

    Kinnie said he continues to organize “so that [people of color are] no longer fighting to survive, but so we can actually have a chance to live in this country.”

    Fifty years from now, people are going to see Ferguson as everything that’s wrong with America or they’re going to see Ferguson as the symbol for a great hope of what American can be, Kinnie said.

    Despite all the national attention, Kinnie said, Brown’s story still gets overlooked. “He wasn’t a thug, he was a kid,” he said. “At the end of the day, he is what started this movement. He’s what’s most important.”

    Brown’s parents did not speak at their son’s funeral, but did write letters that were read to thousands of mourners.

    “The day you were born I just know God sent me a blessing and that was you,” Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, wrote.

    At his funeral, Brown’s casket was bookended by enlarged portraits of the teen wearing headphones. Red roses sat atop the casket. To the left of the flowers was a St. Louis Cardinal baseball cap, black and red.

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    Find all of the stories in our series Aging Arsenal

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Returning to our top story tonight, the threats and counterthreats between Pyongyang and Washington.

    Joining me now are Abraham Denmark, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, and Mike Chinoy, a former senior Asia correspondent for CNN. He’s visited North Korea 17 times and is now a senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s U.S.-China Institute.

    And we welcome both of you to the NewsHour.

    Abraham Denmark, let me start with you.

    Given what has happened in the last 24, 48 hours, how do you size up the situation now between the U.S. and North Korea?

    ABRAHAM DENMARK, Former Pentagon Official: I think we’re at a bit of an inflection point, that both Kim Jong-un and President Trump have elevated the tension in terms of rhetoric between the two sides, yet the policies the two sides have been on have not radically changed.

    Kim Jong-un and North Korea have been conducting ballistic missile tests at a relatively regular pace, and the on-the-ground policies that the United States has been pursuing has also been fairly consistent.

    The real change here has been changes in the rhetoric, with Kim Jong-un putting out very strong statements, as well as President Trump making his very strong statements. And so the question now is, what happens after these statements have been made?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s what I want to ask you about.

    And, just quickly, you follow the region, the East Asia region closely. How is all this being received there?

    ABRAHAM DENMARK: There’s a great deal of concern.

    Amongst our allies, there’s concern that the messaging out of the Trump administration has been fairly chaotic, and that different senior officials are speaking about different policy positions, so there’s a lot of question about where the United States really is when it comes to North Korea.

    And there is also broader concerns and I think deeper concerns about how the United States is going to handle a North Korea that’s making very steady progress in developing a robust, credible nuclear capability that is able to reach the United States.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mike Chinoy, again, this is an area you follow so closely. We talked about how many times you visited North Korea, the North Korean mainland.

    How do you see this situation right now?

    MIKE CHINOY, University of Southern California: I think what the North Koreans are doing has been quite predictable.

    They have believed for many years now that the best way to guarantee their security is to have a nuclear and a missile capability that would deter the United States, and this dates back a long, long time. It was reinforced in the early 2000s, when the North Koreans saw the U.S. invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein, who didn’t have nukes. They saw Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi overthrown, and he had voluntarily abandoned his nuclear program.

    So the North is really committed to this. They have just accelerated, I think, in the last couple of years the pace at which they’re doing it. I think one of the big questions is how the North Koreans are going to respond to the very confusing signals coming from Washington.

    Secretary of State Tillerson has mentioned talks, but President Trump is talking in very, very forceful and extreme language. And so I think there is a risk, because I don’t think the North is going to change its approach, of a misunderstanding leading to some kind of conflict.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Why do you believe there is a risk of a misunderstanding?

    MIKE CHINOY: Well, the North Koreans are sitting there, and they’re going to respond to threats from the United States with full speed ahead, because that’s just their style. This is not a system or a regime or a leadership that’s going to bow to that kind of external pressure.

    And if they fear that the very strong language from President Trump means the U.S. might, in fact, be considering some kind of preemptive strike, then it’s possible they will calculate that they need to strike first.

    But I think there is one other point that gets lost in all of the inflammatory headlines, which is the North Korean position continues to be that they will not give up their nuclear or missile capabilities unless the U.S. abandons what Pyongyang calls Washington’s — quote — “hostile policy.”

    And I think, if you parse the North Korean rhetoric, there might be an opening for some kind of negotiations, but, again, that depends in large part on the very — the extreme level of confusion in the signals from Washington is clarified in way that suggests the U.S. is interested in talks. And, right now, that is not at all clear.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, and as we’re sitting here talking ourselves, I’m told by our producer that the wires report that North Korea is now saying that they will have a plan to attack Guam by the middle of August.

    They go on to call what President Trump has been saying, in their words, as a load of nonsense, and they’re also saying that only absolute force can work with President Trump.

    Abe Denmark, what does this tell you about what the United States is dealing with and what our allies in the region are dealing with?

    ABRAHAM DENMARK: We’re dealing with a country, North Korea, that has a very clear idea of what it wants to do.

    It sees the development of a nuclear capability as essential to the preservation of its regime. And it’s willing to bear significant costs in the pursuit of that, in terms of diplomatic isolation, severe economic sanctions. They’re continuing to make progress on that.

    So, the question is, how do we get them off that path? In terms of the threats they have been making about Guam, there’s actually quite a few steps that they have and other options that they have between where we are now, with the elevated rhetoric, and actually conducting strikes against the United States.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you mean?

    ABRAHAM DENMARK: We have seen, in the past, North Korea doing several things, attacks against South Korea on the DMZ, sinking a ship in the Yellow Sea, as you may recall, several years ago, which in the past was able to demonstrate — they were able to demonstrate to their own people that they’re strong, that they’re able to attack South Korea, but it didn’t escalate into a war.

    And the question now is, what options is North Korea considering, really considering, beyond this — the threatening rhetoric about Guam? And how will the United States and our allies respond to that?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mike Chinoy, the question one hears from a number of people is, are the North Koreans suicidal in their attitude? Because one assumes that, if they were to take any sort of military strike of the kind we’re discussing here right now, the threat against Guam, something in the region, that there would be a return strike that would hit directly at the leadership of the North Korean government.

    MIKE CHINOY: I don’t think the North Koreans are suicidal.

    And I think you have to be very careful in assessing North Korean rhetoric, because if you look at the history, going back a long, long time, the North Koreans are masters of incendiary rhetoric. Brinksmanship is the cornerstone of the way they approach the rest of the world.

    These kinds of threats keep their adversaries off-balance. They feel it gives them the initiative, but I don’t think you can always take it literally. I recall, for example, in the spring of 1994, when tensions were high over the North’s then nascent nuclear program, North Korean officials that they would turn Seoul, the South Korean capital, into a sea of fire.

    But four months later, after former U.S. President Carter visited North Korea, there would be an agreement for the first ever summit meeting between the North and the South, although it didn’t happen because North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung died.

    So, I wouldn’t — just because the North Koreans talk about attacking Guam, I wouldn’t take that literally, although, as a military planner, you obviously have to take all contingencies into account.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    MIKE CHINOY: But don’t assume that their rhetoric means that they’re actually going to do everything they threaten to do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, we can’t know, Abe Denmark, just quickly here, finally, what the Trump administration is going to do.

    But if you’re in their shoes right now, do you respond in kind of with another — with escalated rhetoric, or do you try to calm things down?

    ABRAHAM DENMARK: I think you do two things.

    Rhetorically, I would try to calm things down. President Eisenhower would practice this. When Khrushchev’s rhetoric would get more and more escalated, his rhetoric would get more and more calm. And that gave a great sense of strength to our allies and to our adversaries.

    But I would also do a lot more on the ground in terms of enhancing our ability to deter North Korea and to reassure our allies. We have extremely strong alliances in Japan and South Korea. And there’s a lot we can do there to demonstrate to North Korea that we have a great deal of capability and will to act.

    And I would also send a message to our allies that we’re there for them, that we’re reliable and that we’re capable.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Abe Denmark, Mike Chinoy, we thank you both.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: There’s word that FBI agents have searched a home of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and seized documents and other materials. The Washington Post first reported the pre-dawn raid and said it happened in July. A Manafort spokesman confirmed the search and said that Manafort has — quote — “consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well.”

    Allegations of election fraud set off deadly clashes in Kenya today. Early results from yesterday’s vote showed President Kenyatta with a strong lead. But challenger Raila Odinga claimed that hackers infiltrated an election database. Protesters in Nairobi and elsewhere burned tires and set up roadblocks. At least three people were killed.

    Odinga urged calm, but said that he doesn’t control the people.

    RAILA ODINGA, Orange Democratic Movement: Democratic elections are based on the basic principle. The sovereign are the people. It’s not a show for those who stand for election or those who run it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Kenyan election commission defended its system and denied interference — quote — “before, during or after the vote.”

    The United Nations says that up to 50 migrants were deliberately drowned off the coast of Yemen today. The U.N.’s Migration Agency said that a smuggler forced more than 120 people into the water when he saw authorities on the shore. The migrants were from Somalia and Ethiopia. Their average age was around 16.

    The death toll from yesterday’s powerful earthquake in Southwest China has risen to at least 19. It hit near a national park that’s one of the country’s top tourist attractions. Nearly 250 people were injured. Rescue crews worked around the clock to pull victims from under heaps of debris and collapsed rock. But they were slowed by unsafe conditions.

    MAN (through interpreter): As you can see on both sides of the valley, there are mud and rock slides everywhere, so our rescue has been cut short. All we can do is stay here and observe until there’s a change for the better. Once that’s happened, we will go in there and begin the rescue.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A second strong earthquake in far Northwest China hit morning and left dozens of people injured and damaged more than 1,000 homes.

    The U.S. has imposed sanctions on eight more people in Venezuela, amid that country’s deepening crisis. They target current and former government officials for their role in the creation of President Nicolas Maduro’s new, all-powerful Constitutional Assembly. One of the sanctioned individuals is the brother of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

    There was yet another attack targeting security forces in France today. A man rammed his car into a group of soldiers in a Paris suburb, injuring six of them. After an hours-long manhunt, police cornered the suspect on a nearby highway, opened fire and wounded him. The man’s motivation was unclear, but officials say they’re looking at it as a potential terror attack.

    GERARD COLLOMB, Interior Minister, France (through interpreter): We know it was a deliberate act. It wasn’t an accident. What I can say is that the anti-terrorism section of the Paris prosecutor’s office is in charge of the case. This shows that today the threat remains extremely high and that our security forces, our military forces are still being targeted.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Later, heavily armed and masked police searched a building believed to be linked to the attacker.

    President Trump appeared to bristle today over comments by the Senate’s top Republican on health care. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday that Mr. Trump had — quote — “excessive expectations” about how quickly lawmakers could act.

    But, in a tweet, the president said he disagreed, adding: “After seven years of hearing repeal and replace, why not done?”

    And on Wall Street today, stocks were lower, as investors weighed tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 36 points to close at 22048. The Nasdaq fell 18. And the S&P 500 dropped a fraction of a point.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The latest flash point in the American showdown with North Korea has drawn sharply different responses from President Trump and his top national security aides.

    It all follows reports that Pyongyang can now make nuclear weapons small enough to fit inside a long-range missile.

    John Yang begins our coverage.

    JOHN YANG: Amid the escalating war of words, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged calm.

    REX TILLERSON, U.S. Secretary of State: I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days. What the president is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong-un would understand.

    JOHN YANG: Tillerson spoke on his way to the U.S. territory that’s home to the B-1 bombers that have been flying training missions over the Korean Peninsula, drawing North Korea’s ire.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): The Korean people’s army is now carefully examining the plan for making an all-consuming fire at the areas around Guam with a medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic rocket in order to contain the U.S. major military bases on Guam.

    JOHN YANG: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned Pyongyang to stop “consideration of actions that would lead to the destruction of its people.”

    The volley of tough talk comes amid increased North Korean tests of missiles that analysts believe could strike the American mainland. Yesterday, President Trump delivered a stark warning.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They will be met with fire and fury and, frankly, power, the likes of which the world has never seen before.

    JOHN YANG: Today, in South Korea, a government denounced Pyongyang.

    BAIK TAE-HYUN, Spokesman, South Korean Unification Ministry (through interpreter): These kinds of comments by North Korea do not help in the relationship of South and North Korea.

    JOHN YANG: But, in Japan, the chief cabinet secretary welcomed the American muscle-flexing.

    YOSHIHIDE SUGA, Chief Cabinet Secretary, Japan (through interpreter): The United States have said all options are on the table. The Japanese government supports this attitude.

    JOHN YANG: President Trump said this morning that he had ordered a modernization of the nation’s nuclear arsenal: “It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before. Hopefully, we will never have to use this power.”

    While Mr. Trump did order a review of the country’s nuclear capability during his first week in office, it was President Barack Obama who began a $1 trillion modernization of the arsenal. It’s barely begun and will take decades to complete.

    The Trump administration has seemed to send a variety of signals about its approach to Pyongyang. Mr. Trump had called on China to pressure its renegade neighbor. But after missile tests last month, he seemed to give up on Beijing.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We will handle North Korea. We’re going to be able to handle them. It will be — it will be handled. We handle everything.

    JOHN YANG: Last month, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said the solution to North Korea’s nuclear threat is to oust Kim Jong-un.

    MIKE POMPEO, CIA Director: The thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today. So from the administration’s perspective, the most important thing we can do is separate those two.

    JOHN YANG: Amid a New York Times report that Mr. Trump’s fire and fury threat caught his aides by surprise, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “The tone and strength of the message were discussed beforehand, if not the exact words.”

    Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said military action would be inevitable if North Korea continues on its current path.

    SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: President Trump has basically drawn a red line, saying that he will never allow North Korea to have an ICBM missile that can hit America with a nuclear weapon on top. But if there’s going to be a war, it’s going to be in the region, not here in America.

    JOHN YANG: A prospect that is sending a shudder through Asia and the world.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m John Yang.

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    A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched from the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska during a flight test on July 11. Photo by Leah Garton/Missile Defense Agency/Handout via Reuters

    A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched from the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska during a flight test on July 11. Photo by Leah Garton/Missile Defense Agency/Handout via Reuters.

    North Korea recently tested an intercontinental ballistic missile and said it was developing a plan to target Guam. President Donald Trump responded that North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

    What exactly does that mean? What kind of attack can North Korea actually launch? Here’s a look at what we know and whether the U.S. can defend itself against North Korea’s threats.

    What did North Korea launch?

    North Korea conducted a flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that it has designated the Hwasong-14. During the July 3 test, the Hwasong-14 traveled for around 40 minutes before landing in the Sea of Japan, inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone. The missile was launched on a highly lofted trajectory to an altitude of about 2,800 kilometers and traveled some 930 kilometers in distance. Had the same motor’s thrust been put to a range-maximizing flight path, the Hwasong-14 could have traveled as far as 7,000 kilometers, enough to reach Alaska and well in range of Guam. If fired in an eastward direction to take advantage of the rotation of the earth, the Hwasong-14 could potentially reach up to 8,000 kilometers, putting Hawaii at risk. The missile appears to employ at least two stages and operates on liquid fuel.

    How significant is this event?

    This launch represents North Korea’s first-ever test of a true ICBM. An ICBM is classified as a ballistic missile that can deliver a warhead to a range of 5,500 kilometers or more. The definition was set during the Cold War, as 5,500 kilometers is approximately the minimum distance between contiguous Russian and U.S. territories.

    For North Korea to cross the 5,500-kilometer threshold is partly a symbolic accomplishment, but to do so with a 7,000- to 8,000-kilometer-ranged missile is a major step forward. Pyongyang would still require a missile of over 8,000 kilometers to begin reaching the lower 48 states, and at least 10,000 kilometers to reach the U.S. East Coast. North Korean press statements claim the Hwasong-14 can strike “any part of the world.” This is untrue, but the Hwasong-14 is indeed the first North Korea–based missile able to reach mainland North America, if one excludes North Korea’s Unha rockets, which are ostensibly space-launch vehicles with limited military utility. The July 3 flight could have also included a test of a reentry vehicle, as the missile’s lofted trajectory would provide a steep and fast path back into the atmosphere approximating the reentry of a still longer-range ICBM.

    Equally significant is North Korea’s continued and rapid missile activity over the last few years, including launches of the Musudan and Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missiles and the mobile, solid-fueled KN-15 medium-range missile.

    These actions also bear considerable political significance for the Republic of Korea (ROK) and for U.S. alliance relations with both ROK and Japan. In recent weeks, ROK president Moon Jae-in suspended the deployment of additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense launchers on the Korean peninsula, to the deployment of which China has repeatedly objected. In the face of North Korea’s new missile technologies, it seems more likely that Japan and ROK will pursue more, rather than fewer, military capabilities, including missile defenses, strike capability, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR).

    What is the immediate threat?

    Both the Hwasong-12 and Hwasong-14 demonstrated new capabilities, but whether these will translate into near-term deployments remains unclear, at least for the time being. The configuration tested on July 3 represents a demonstration of rocket motors that could be used as part of a still-larger ICBM capable of ranging the continental United States. The Hwasong-14 appears to have been successful in its initial flight test, but this was preceded by several ground tests, as well as at least four tests of the Hwasong-12, which uses a similar engine. As such, the degree of confidence in the motors may be greater than this one flight test alone might suggest. We may expect to see more tests like this in the coming years to achieve increased range, capability, and reliability. Further development could include the addition of a third stage.

    In addition to threatening Alaska and Hawaii, North Korea’s new missiles could also provide it with improved regional strike capabilities. The additional heft could be used to deliver a heavier payload at shorter ranges and do so on a more lofted trajectory with a faster reentry velocity, which might be comparatively more challenging to defeat.

    Chart by Center for Strategic and International Studies

    Chart by Center for Strategic and International Studies

    Can the United States defend against an ICBM?

    The United States operates the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system designed to defeat long-range missile threats to the homeland, such as those from North Korea. GMD is the only U.S. missile defense system currently devoted to defending the U.S. homeland from long-range ballistic missile attacks. First operationally fielded in 2004, GMD and its associated elements today span 15 time zones, including two Ground-based Interceptor (GBI) sites at Ft. Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg AFB, California; seven types of sensors; and various command and control systems. By the end of this year, a total of 44 GBIs will be deployed, with 40 at Ft. Greely and another 4 at Vandenberg. In the event of a crisis, these interceptors and the broader system would provide a measure of protection that helps preclude blackmail, assure allies, and support the overall U.S. deterrence and defense posture.

    GMD has had a mixed but improving performance record over the course of two decades of testing, logging successful intercepts in 10 out of 18 attempts. The last two intercept tests have been successful, validating the fixes applied to address prior technical issues. In the most recent GMD test this May, a GBI destroyed an ICBM-class target for the first time. As a result, the Pentagon’s weapons tester upgraded its assessment of the system’s effectiveness, declaring that GMD has a “demonstrated capability to defend the U.S. homeland from a small number of intermediate-range or intercontinental missile threats with simple countermeasures.”

    Homeland missile defense is nonetheless in need of continued modernization of its interceptors, sensors, and ground systems. In a CSIS report published earlier this year, entitled Missile Defense 2020, we recommended the continuation or expansion of improvements to the system’s reliability, capability, and capacity. This includes continuing current interceptor modernization, such as the Redesigned Kill Vehicle and Multi-Object Kill Vehicle programs. Additional interceptors may also be in order in the near term, as may development of a space-based sensor layer to better track missiles in flight.

    This backgrounder first appeared on July 6 on the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ website.

    The post Analysis: Can the U.S. defend itself against North Korea’s missile threat? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about North Korea during an opioid-related briefing at Trump's golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., August 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTS1AYDQ

    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about North Korea during an opioid-related briefing at Trump’s golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s tweet Wednesday that America’s nuclear arsenal is “now stronger and more powerful than ever before” is debatable.

    While the U.S. has daunting nuclear power, the Pentagon’s program has been beset with morale, training, discipline and resource problems. And the modernization effort that started under former President Barack Obama hasn’t been altered by the Trump administration. His claim of the credit is entirely unjustified.

    Here’s a look at Trump’s statements and how they hold up:

    ___

    TRUMP: “My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before.”

    THE FACTS: Trump did order a new review of the U.S. nuclear posture, in an executive order in January. The order said the review should ensure America’s nuclear deterrent is robust, ready and tailored to address 21st century threats.

    But the review isn’t complete. There have been no significant changes in America’s nuclear power as a result.

    While Obama pledged billions of dollars to modernizing the arsenal, the program is in its early stages.

    It is aimed at all three elements of the nuclear triad: Air Force bombers and Navy submarines capable of launching nuclear bombs and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.

    Today’s force is largely the same as the one Trump inherited on Jan. 20. The primary difference is there are actually fewer ICBMs now after a planned reduction that was directed by Obama.

    Today’s force is largely the same as the one Trump inherited on Jan. 20. The primary difference is there are actually fewer ICBMs now after a planned reduction that was directed by Obama.

    Trump also initially proposed a 2018 budget that would cut $340 million from missile defense programs intended to deter a potential strike by North Korea, Iran or other countries. Congress has been taking steps to safeguard some of that funding.

    Trump’s statement about overall nuclear strength is debatable.

    The Associated Press documented a range of problems in the Minuteman 3 missile force starting in 2013, including numerous morale, training, discipline and leadership shortfalls that have beset the nuclear force in recent years, especially among those who operate, maintain and protect the weapons.

    The Air Force began implementing what it calls a “force improvement plan” to boost morale, increase resources and attempt to eliminate the stigma that had become attached to the nuclear missile career field, which many saw as a dead end and much less rewarding than being a pilot.

    Analysis: Can the U.S. defend itself against North Korea’s missile threat?

    Last year, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that the Pentagon would invest $108 billion over the next five years, saying the department was committed to correcting decades of short-changing the nuclear force. The funding would be used to sustain and improve the force and for developing a new generation of weapons.

    There also are questions about missile defense.

    Some experts argue the current strategy for shooting down ICBM-range missiles, like those North Korea is trying to perfect, is overly expensive and inadequate. Instead of the silo-based interceptors being used, some argue a more fruitful approach would be to destroy or disable such missiles before they can be launched, possibly by cyberattack.

    The post AP FACT CHECK: How strong is America’s nuclear arsenal? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    BEDMINSTER, New Jersey — President Donald Trump is officially declaring the opioid crisis a “national emergency.”

    Trump made the announcement before holding a security briefing Thursday at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

    He tells reporters the drug crisis afflicting the nation is a “serious problem the likes of which we have never had” and says he’s drawing up documents “to so attest.”

    “We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis,” he added.

    Nashville’s mayor lost her son to opioids. Here’s what she thinks will save families from that pain

    A drug commission convened by Trump recently called for a national emergency declaration to help deal with the opioid crisis.

    Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price earlier this week seemed to suggest the president was leaning against the recommendation when he said the administration could deploy the necessary resources and attention without declaring a national emergency.

    Still, Price stressed that “all things” were “on the table for the president.”

    The post WATCH: Trump says he’ll make opioid crisis a ‘national emergency’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The National Housing Conference analyzed 210 metro areas to see whether workers in public education could afford to buy or rent a home. File photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images

    What is educational equity, whereby all students have equal access to opportunities for a high-quality education? What does it look like when it’s successful, and what does it take to achieve it?

    These questions have been driving our work at the Aspen Institute’s Education & Society Program for the past several years, and even more so for the last 18 months, as the result of a shift in the federal role in public education and concerns from the state leaders with whom we work.

    For most of the last half-century, the role of the federal government has been to protect “the education of disadvantaged children,” as articulated in the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The bipartisan passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, in 2015, maintains several components of earlier versions of the ESEA, but it also gives more flexibility and responsibility to state leaders to define accountability and determine the interventions and supports for underperforming schools.

    Just as our federal education laws have changed and evolved, so too have our nation’s demographics.

    Just as our federal education laws have changed and evolved, so too have our nation’s demographics. It is significant that the federal role is downsized just as economic inequality is at its highest and mobility from poverty is at its lowest since the ESEA was enacted.

    In 1960, 85.7 percent of public school students were white. Today, according to estimates from the National Center for Education Statistics, the majority of public school students are students of color. More than half of public school students also qualify for subsidized meals because of low family income. In 2014, 20 percent of school-age children were in families living in poverty, and children of color are more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to be poor. By any objective measure, inside and outside schools, public education has not served these students adequately or equitably.

    These challenges have an effect on students’ academics. The 2015 average reading scores of black and Latino U.S. students on the Program for International Student Assessment fall below the U.S. average and are comparable with some developing countries. And in 2013, students from high-income families were eight times more likely to have a bachelor’s degree by age 24 than their peers from low-income families, according to a 2015 report from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education.

    Much has changed even since the passage of ESSA. The last year brought not only a new president and a new U.S. secretary of education, but also a documented increase in racial tension and hate crimes, several high-profile police shootings, and a number of state legislative bodies that have or are considering “bathroom bills” affecting transgender individuals’ ability to use the bathroom that matches their identity.

    And the stubborn persistence of disparities in student opportunities and outcomes remains.

    READ MORE from Education Week: The Every Student Succeeds Act: An ESSA Overview

    What would true education equity look like? One thing is certain: State leaders would need to play a key role. Even before ESSA was enacted, states had primary authority for education as enshrined in each state’s constitution. As the federal role recedes, this generation of state education leaders will write a crucial chapter, with profound implications for equity and broader implications for our country and society. They will redefine state education policy, as federal rules become less prescriptive and federal political cover shrinks.

    Defining a clear state role in educational equity is not a small task. To do this, we must get past talking about and around equity and address it directly. This is among the first recommendations in our recent report, “Leading for Equity,” which was published in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers, or CCSSO, in February. To develop this report, which identifies 10 priority areas and 68 discrete actions state leaders can take to address inequity, we interviewed dozens of education leaders at the school, community, district, state, and national levels, who represent broad demographic and political diversity.

    We asked school leaders to define and describe equity and inequity in their own terms. There was no one answer. Equity is weighted student-funding formulas; students having the social capital to have someone review their college applications; and students having school access to recreational facilities and health care. Equity is having people of color represented in political office and in the leadership of education reform organizations.

    When ESSA takes full effect this fall and federal rules in schooling become less prescriptive, how will state education leaders tackle equity for students? Education Week Commentary partnered with the Aspen Institute’s Education & Society Program to hear what some of them had to say.

    Inequity, education leaders told us, is reflected in the presence of inexperienced or ineffective teachers or a revolving door of substitutes in the classrooms of low-income students and students of color. Inequity is kids of color not having access to rigorous, relevant, and culturally sustaining curricula or advanced courses. We heard about dangerous schools and dilapidated facilities, computers, books, and gym equipment. Many described a patent unfairness inside our public institutions which they defined as immoral, demeaning of our democratic values, and ultimately undermining of our shared economic prosperity and growth.

    There was also disagreement. We heard from some leaders who thought a focus on students of color and low-income students was detrimental to the universal mission of public education. We heard support for charters, choice, and vouchers; and we heard concern that those policies can drain resources from traditional public schools.

    Equity is about giving every student what they need, not giving every student the same.

    And then we asked for ideas about how to upend inequity. To facilitate these discussions, we used a common definition of equity, used by the National Equity Project: “Educational equity means that each child receives what he or she needs to develop to his or her full academic and social potential.” We agree: Equity is about giving every student what they need, not giving every student the same.

    In thinking about this work, it is also important to acknowledge that our schools and administrative offices are full of committed and hard-working leaders giving it everything they’ve got. We need them to continue that. We also need to support them.

    We are excited to have been a part of these conversations so far and look forward to continuing the dialogue, so that together we can make sure that every student truly succeeds in education and in life. We hope to encourage a larger conversation—one that includes more voices. It’s true that ESSA provides opportunities for us to try new approaches to getting equity right, but it is not enough. We all must do more.


    Danielle Gonzales is the assistant director for policy at the Washington-based Aspen Institute’s Education & Society Program. Ross Wiener is the institute’s vice president and the executive director of its Education & Society Program.

    This story was produced by Education Week, a nonprofit, independent news organization with comprehensive pre-K-12 news and analysis. Read the original post here.

    The post Column: Why it’s up to states to tackle educational inequity appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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  • 08/10/17--12:48: Stopping Superbugs
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    U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) during a meeting with Republican Congressional leaders at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX39BZA

    President Donald Trump meets with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan during a meeting with Republican Congressional leaders at the White House on June 6, 2017. Photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

    One week after President Donald Trump took office, Republican leaders said they planned to pass a health care bill, a tax overhaul, and an infrastructure package by the start of their August recess. The plan, announced by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at a Republican retreat in late January, included boosting defense spending and setting funding aside to pay for a border wall between Mexico and the United States, one of Mr. Trump’s top campaign promises.

    Trump also vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and fund construction of the border wall in the first months of his presidency, so the White House and Republican-controlled Congress could move on to tax reform, infrastructure and other issues.

    But as the 200th day of Trump’s first term in office came and went Monday, the president and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill found themselves far behind schedule, still searching for a major legislative victory and facing a difficult calendar when Congress returns in September.

    At this point, tax reform represents the party’s best shot at securing a signature domestic policy achievement in Trump’s first year in office — a period of time when presidents traditionally have the most political capital to try and fulfill a few of their campaign promises.

    “All the eggs are probably in the basket of tax reform,” said Donald Bryson, the North Carolina state director for Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers-backed conservative organization. “Right now, in terms of the need for a legislative and political win, we’ve got to reform the tax code.”

    At this point, tax reform represents the party’s best shot at securing a signature domestic policy achievement in Trump’s first year in office.

    Repealing and replacing Obamacare was supposed to be the party’s first big win in the Trump era, but the plan had implications for tax reform as well.

    Republicans had planned on cutting the Affordable Care Act’s taxes on high-income earners, insurers, drug companies and medical device makers. The taxes help fund the health law’s Medicaid expansion, and pay for other subsidies for lower-income people.

    The House health care bill, which passed in March, included roughly $800 billion in tax cuts. But the Senate’s last attempt at undoing the health care law — a “skinny” repeal bill that would have eliminated the medical device tax, while keeping the rest of the law’s taxes in place – was voted down in dramatic fashion last month.

    As a result, Republicans will have to keep the health care taxes in place, unless they can find some way to offset the loss of revenue.

    Finding savings to cover all of the tax cuts in the Republican plan will be an even bigger challenge.

    Senate Republican leaders will likely use a parliamentary maneuver known as budget reconciliation to bypass Democrats and push through a tax reform package. Under the Senate’s rules, the bill cannot add to the federal deficit, a hurdle that will force Republicans to search for creative solutions in writing a revenue-neutral proposal.

    Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) speaks with reporters about the withdrawn Republican health care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 18, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein - RTX3BYOF

    Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, speaks with reporters about the withdrawn Republican health care bill on Capitol Hill on July 18, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

    In late July, the White House issued a joint statement from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, and the Republicans leading the tax overhaul in Congress — Ryan, McConnell, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, and Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch — outlining the group’s priorities for tax reform.

    The plan centers on cutting individual and corporate tax rates “as much possible,” and rewriting the tax code to draw American businesses and jobs outside of the country back into the United States. Republicans have long argued that simplifying the tax system and lowering rates would spur economic growth.

    “We are confident that a shared vision for tax reform exists, and are prepared for the two committees to take the lead and begin producing legislation for the President to sign,” the group said.

    But in order to strike a deal, both sides will likely need to make some concessions.

    As a candidate, Trump pledged to cut the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, from its current level of 35 percent, arguing that the change would discourage American companies from relocating overseas to countries with lower business taxes. Trump has reportedly backed the plan since taking office as well.

    In an appearance on Fox and Friends last weekend, Hatch signaled that the proposal was too ambitious, though he said Republicans would try. “We’d be lucky if we could get the corporate tax rate down to 20 percent, even 25 percent,” Hatch said.

    Hatch, whose committee will draft the Senate tax proposal, also indicated that Congress would have difficulty passing a bill with the individual tax cuts Trump has pushed for. The White House released a one-page tax plan in April that called for reducing the current number of tax brackets from seven to three, with rates of 10, 25 and 35 percent. Currently, the highest tax rate is 39.6 percent.

    The White House and Congressional Republican leaders have not given themselves much time to reach an agreement.

    “If we could get to those rates, that would be miraculous,” Hatch told Fox.

    The White House and Congressional Republican leaders have not given themselves much time to reach an agreement. In a speech in June, Ryan promised to pass tax reform by the end of the year. On July 31, four days after the White House released its joint statement on tax reform with Republican leaders, Marc Short, the White House legislative director, offered a similar deadline.

    Short told reporters that the White House expected the House to take up a tax bill in September, and pass it the following month. Short called for the Senate to approve its tax reform package in November, setting up a final vote for sometime in December. Short acknowledged that it was an “aggressive schedule, but that is our timetable.”

    The timeline raised concerns on Capitol Hill, where Republican leaders have tried to present a united front with the White House on taxes. Short’s decision to lay out a detailed schedule in public was not helpful, a congressional aide said, because it boxed lawmakers in with specific dates that they may not be able to deliver.

    A senior staffer for the House Ways and Means Committee, which will write the House tax bill, said the goal remained passing the legislation before the start of 2018.

    Julia Lawless, the communications director for the Senate Finance Committee, said the details of the Senate tax plan would be negotiated in the fall, when lawmakers return from their August break.

    “Chairman Hatch is focused on developing a tax reform package that will provide more relief to the middle class, increase wages and job growth here at home, and ensure American businesses can compete in global markets,” Lawless said.

    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks after Senate Republicans unveiled their version of legislation that would replace Obamacare on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2017.   REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTS189FO

    House Speaker Paul Ryan is part of a group of Congressional Republicans who are working with the White House on tax reform. File Photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

    The group of Republican leaders and White House officials working on tax reform have been meeting weekly for months in order to hammer out a broad plan. Their staffs have been communicating daily on the plan’s details.

    The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

    The White House has been more engaged in the tax deliberations, compared to its approach on health care. The administration has two top officials, in Cohn and Mnuchin, who are experienced business leaders, though neither one has a background in public policy.

    In contrast, Trump did not enter office with an experienced health care policy team in place, which hampered the White House’s ability to work with Congress on rolling back the Affordable Care Act.

    The health care law, like most major pieces of legislation, was a compromise. Mr. Obama and moderate Democrats viewed it as an important step toward widening access to coverage; the law’s liberal critics were disappointed that it fell short of the universal, single-payer system that many Democrats had dreamed of for decades.

    Republicans face a similar quandary: settle for achieving some of their goals on tax reform, or allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

    The party has sought a change to the tax code for years. Congress last passed a major tax reform in 1986, under President Ronald Reagan. The question now is, will Republicans be willing to compromise on the policy fine points in order to get something done on taxes?

    A compromise on health care proved elusive, though Republicans could revive the effort in the future. The health care fiasco raised the stakes for tax reform, said Timothy Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa.

    “If the Senate can get itself together on tax reform, that could leave health care in the rear view mirror to some extent, but you can’t [move past it] entirely,” Hagle said.

    Will Republicans be willing to compromise on the policy fine points in order to get something done on taxes?

    Trump can still point to several areas where he delivered on his promises as an outsider candidate. The president pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, and instituted tougher immigration enforcement rules. The Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch, his Supreme Court nominee.

    So far, most of the focus on Trump has centered on the “sideshow, the incessant tweeting and offending one person or another, or behaving in some unorthodox or unpresidential way,” said Ellen Fitzpatrick, a historian at the University of New Hampshire who writes about presidential politics.

    “I think most people are [only] dimly aware of the extent to which [the Trump administration has pushed] very conservative efforts to roll back regulations, to appoint very conservative justices to the courts, and to undo environmental policies that were years in the making,” Fitzpatrick said.

    In May, Trump signed a bill to avoid a government shutdown and keep the federal bureaucracy running through the end of the fiscal year. The stopgap measure included a $21 billion increase in supplemental defense spending, fulfilling, at least in the short-term, Trump’s vow to beef up the military.

    But the measure did not provide any border wall funding, a concession that Trump’s polarizing proposals don’t easily translate into actual policy. Trump’s proposal for a $1 trillion infrastructure package has also gone nowhere, sidelined by the months-long fight over health care, which in turn delayed legislative action on taxes.

    When Congress returns next month, it must deal with several daunting tasks — including raising the debt ceiling and passing a budget — in addition to taking on tax reform. Looming above it all are the investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and possible ties to the Trump campaign.

    Presidential legacies are typically shaped by major domestic issues, Fitzpatrick said. Tax reform could help rescue Trump’s faltering legislative agenda, which makes the next few months critical for the president and Republicans in Congress. By the end of the year, the 2018 midterms will be right around the corner.

    The post Can tax reform save Trump’s legislative agenda? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Tourists stroll along a road on the island of Guam, a U.S. Pacific Territory, August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

    Tourists stroll along a road on the island of Guam, a U.S. Pacific Territory, Aug. 10, 2017. Photo by REUTERS/Erik De Castro

    As tension escalated this week between the United States and North Korea, the world turned its attention to the U.S. territory of Guam, which North Korean state media reported had become the target of a retaliatory attack. North Korean military officials said a plan to fire four mid-range missiles about 25 miles off the island’s shores would be finalized later this month. The threat comes after President Donald Trump warned that North Korea would face “fire and fury” if it continued to threaten the United States, a warning he reiterated Thursday.

    The tension comes on the heels of an intelligence report that suggested North Korea has miniaturized nuclear weapons to fit on missiles.

    Guam is a relatively isolated island known for little more than its U.S. military port. Here are five things you might not know about the territory.

    FILE PHOTO: Aircraft from Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533 stand on the runway at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam September 15, 2014. U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Robert Hicks/Handout/File Photo via REUTERS.

    Aircraft from Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533 stand on the runway at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. File photo by U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Photo by Robert Hicks/Handout via REUTERS.

    1. 7,000 U.S. soldiers are stationed in Guam.

    Guam is home to U.S. Naval Base Guam and the Andersen Air Force Base. Located on the northeast side of the island, the Air Force base retains a fleet of B52 bombers and fighter jets. The naval base, located on the southwest part of the territory, has nuclear-powered submarines. About 7,000 U.S. soldiers and their families live on the island, which has a population of 160,000, according to the Associated Press. As a result, Guam’s economy relies heavily on the U.S. Armed Forces, which owns a third of the island. The tourist district, Tumon, is located between the two military bases.

    President Clinton (L) squats as he examines the names of World War Two war dead on a wall at the War in the Pacific National Historical Park on the island of Guam November 23. Guam Governor Carl Gutierrez (R) and his wife Geraldine Gutierrez look on. Clinton paused to look at the name of the Governor's mother-in-law who died during a forced march by Japanese occupation troops. Clinton stopped in the U.S. territory of Guam for a six-hour visit after leaving South Korea and before returning to Washington.

    Former President Clinton squats as he examines the names of World War II war dead on a wall at the War in the Pacific National Historical Park on the island of Guam in 1998. Photo by Larry Rubenstein/ Reuters

    2. Those born in Guam have American citizenship.

    Spain claimed Guam in 1565, more than 40 years after Ferdinand Magellan landed on the island. Spain’s colonial rule continued until the U.S. took control in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. Spain officially handed over the land under the Treaty of Paris.

    Japan temporarily controlled the island after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, but allied forces reclaimed the territory three years later. Guam officially became a U.S. territory in 1950 and was put under the administration of the Department of the Navy.

    That same year, Congress passed the Organic Act of Guam, giving Guamanians American citizenship. However, Guamanians are still not allowed to vote in the U.S. presidential election.

    Guam elected its first governor in 1970 and, since 1972, has had one nonvoting delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Tourists frolic on the waters overlooking posh hotels in Tumon tourist district on the island of Guam, a U.S. Pacific Territory, August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

    Tourists frolic on the waters overlooking posh hotels in Tumon tourist district on the island of Guam, a U.S. Pacific Territory. Photo by REUTERS/Erik De Castro.

    3. Guam is closer to North Korea than it is to Hawaii.

    Guam is the closest U.S. territory to North Korea at a distance of approximately 2,130 miles. That is close to half the distance between Guam and Hawaii, which sits about 3,960 miles away.

    Guam is the southernmost island in what is known as the Mariana Archipelago and the largest island in Micronesia. It covers a total of 210 square miles — approximately the size of Chicago.

    A statue of Guam hero Ricardo Bordallo is pictured at the entrance of the Governor's Complex on the island of Guam, a U.S. Pacific Territory, August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

    A statue of Guam hero Ricardo Bordallo is pictured at the entrance of the Governor’s Complex on the island of Guam, a U.S. Pacific Territory, August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

    4. Guam is culturally diverse.

    About 40 percent of Guam’s residents are Chamorros, the name for the native people. About 24 percent are Filipino, 18 percent identify as several races, 7 percent are white, and 10 percent are of other Micronesian descent.

    The official languages of Guam are English and Chamorro, which means ‘noble.’ It’s a Malayo-Polynesian language that has incorporated Spanish words over time.

    A married gay man carries the rainbow and U.S. flags at a celebration rally in West Hollywood, California, following the 2015 Supreme Court decision on marriage equality. Photo by Nicholson/Reuters

    A married gay man carries the rainbow and U.S. flags at a celebration rally in West Hollywood, California, following the 2015 Supreme Court decision on marriage equality. Photo by Nicholson/Reuters

    5. Guam was the first U.S. territory to recognize same-sex marriage.

    On June 5, 2015, Guam became the first U.S. territory to legalize same-sex marriage. District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood ruled in favor of Kathleen Aguero and Loretta Pangelinan, who became the first couple to obtain a marriage license. Three weeks later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage was legal throughout the U.S., including all its territories.

    The post 5 things you likely didn’t know about Guam appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Donald Trump (R), flanked by Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price, delivers remarks on North Korea during an opioid-related briefing at Trump's golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., August 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTS1AXHE

    President Donald Trump says he’s planning to add billions of dollars to the nation’s anti-missile programs. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

    President Donald Trump says he’s planning to add billions of dollars to the nation’s anti-missile programs.

    Trump tells reporters after a security briefing at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, “We are going to be increasing our budget by many billions of dollars.”

    He says an announcement is planned soon.

    AP FACT CHECK: How strong is America’s nuclear arsenal?

    Trump also says the nation’s nuclear arsenal is in “in tip-top shape” and getting stronger. And he insists his administration has “done a lot of modernization” and “a lot of renovation” already.

    Trump is also warning about the dangers of nuclear weapons, saying he’d like to “de-nuke the world.” But he says that, until that happens, the U.S. “will be the most powerful nuclear nation on earth, by far.”

    The post Trump says he’s planning to add billions to U.S. anti-missile programs appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    NewsHour shares web small logoIn our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to a NewsHour Shares, something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too.

    Oil started flowing down the Trans-Alaska pipeline some 40 years ago. Every summer, thousands of workers come to work in the oil fields in and around Deadhorse, Alaska, transforming this small town and keeping postal worker Les Dunbar very busy.

    From Alaska Public Media, Eric Keto has this profile.

    LES DUNBAR, Postal Worker: It’s just the Arctic is awesome. It’s a very, very awesome place.

    I mean, look at the size of his paws. He was probably like, not even two miles from here. Figured he was like 800 pounds.

    My name is Les Dunbar, and I am the postal clerk for the Prudhoe Bay Post Office.

    I have been doing this about 18-and-a-half years.

    ERIC KETO: The Prudhoe Bay Post Office is located in Deadhorse, Alaska, a collection of industrial buildings clustered at the far north edge of the state. People get confused when Les tells them about the place she works.

    LES DUNBAR: They all think it’s a town with stores and churches and hospitals. And it’s not. It’s actually a work site.

    ERIC KETO: Just like the thousands of oil workers who staff Prudhoe Bay, Les lives in modular housing that’s trucked in and stacked up. She eats meals prepared in a company cafeteria, and she works long days.

    LES DUNBAR: It’s 10, 12 hours of work a day. We do two-week hitches. So, we work 14 days. And then we get 14 days off.

    I meet a lot of neat people that work up here, but the really interesting ones, obviously, are the travelers, the adventure people.

    ERIC KETO: Les’ bulletin board, right outside the post office window, features a handful of the people she’s encountered over the years.

    LES DUNBAR: There was a lady that flew her horse up here on a freight plane and then rode the whole pipeline from here to Valdez.

    ERIC KETO: For Les, working at Prudhoe Bay is one way to connect with the wildness of Alaska.

    LES DUNBAR: You got to make your own entertainment. I enjoy the hike, winter or summer. And I’m a real advocate for keeping the wilderness the wilderness, which is funny for me to be saying, because I’m working up here in the oil field.

    Some Alaskans have never been up here, and it’s getting more and more popular to drive up, do some camping along the way, and you got to buy a postcard or a hoodie and mail it home.

    ERIC KETO: And if you’re lucky, Les might just add your photo to the bulletin board.

    From Alaska’s Energy Desk, I’m Eric Keto in Deadhorse.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you for that view.

    The post A postcard from where Alaska’s oil industry and wilderness meet appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to another in our Brief But Spectacular series, where we ask people to describe their passions.

    Tonight, we hear from poet and rapper G Yamazawa. His latest album is called “Shouts to Durham.”

    G YAMAZAWA, Poet and Artist: I had a pretty tumultuous childhood. My dad had very heavy hands.

    One day, I ended up having to go to a foster home. Got kicked out of high school when I was 17. When I was 17, 18, I think, is when I really sort of stood up and decided that I wasn’t going to, you know, be a victim to my circumstances. I knew I would never get anywhere unless I sort of broke through my own, you know, karma.

    I grew up in a restaurant where my parents in Durham, North Carolina, were serving traditional Japanese food to this North Carolinian community, Asian in the south and Buddhist in the Bible Belt. You know, these are things I talk about a lot in my art.

    You just don’t feel like you belong here. Anywhere I am, they’re like, oh, we’re diverse now, because the Asian guy’s with us.

    My drive came from just a very deep place of insecurity and needing validation from strangers. And I think that’s where my love for the stage really began.

    Working with youth and doing workshops and facilitating performance workshops and sort of safe spaces for young people to cultivate their voice is the greatest gift in the world. There’s always a student that reads. And the teacher is like, you know, I have never heard him say anything. I have never gotten that student to speak about anything.

    It changes the dynamic of the classroom. It changes the culture of vulnerability in young spaces.

    I wanted to acknowledge this place in my life that I felt like I was proud of myself and all of the things that I have done up to this point.

    I think I’m starting to rhyme more because I want my life to start connecting, because, see, I have learned how to learn. So now I’m learning how to teach, because I done learned how to practice whatever I preach, but I grew from a grain into a beach. And I knew for the game, I’m playing for keeps. So, whatever I say, I say what I mean. So, whenever I speak, I’m able to reach a place that bleeds and a place that burns and a place that knows I got a lot more to learn.

    My name is G Yamazawa. And this is my Brief But Spectacular take on art and transforming your karma.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can watch additional Brief But Spectacular episodes on our Web site. That’s at pbs.org/newshour/brief.

    The post How this artist turned bad karma into raw honesty appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: As part of our ongoing Race Matters Solutions series, special correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault recently visited Montpelier, the home of the fourth U.S. president, James Madison. It’s in Virginia.

    A new permanent exhibit is opening the door on a rarely told side of Madison involving his slaves and how they lived.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: This sprawling, bucolic Virginia countryside is the plantation where James Madison, the so-called father of the Constitution, puzzled over liberties as he helped frame America’s democracy.

    It’s also here that he and his wife, Dolley, held over 300 slaves. Now, with a new interactive exhibit called The Mere Distinction of Colour, there is a new way of looking at that story.

    Visitors hear stories of the slaves here told by their living descendants. There’s insight into economic, ideological and political factors that cemented slavery in the Constitution, without ever using the word slavery.

    And films connect the past to the present, looking at the legacy of slavery to issues of race and identity today.

    In addition to the new exhibit in the Madison home itself, there are new ways of talking about the rich and complicated history of Montpelier.

    Visitors can tour slave cabins, tour a slave cemetery which bears no headstones, watch archaeologists dig up more evidence that pieces together the interconnectedness of everybody on the plantation.

    To talk about those issues, I spent time with Leontyne Peck, a genealogist and participant in Montpelier’s public archaeology program.

    Peck took me inside one of the cramped slave quarters where eight people lived.

    So, this was all dirt?

    LEONTYNE PECK: It was all dirt, yes.

    We found our artifacts. We found a lot of different things. We found a pipe, which was extraordinarily exciting. My grandfather, he had smoked a pipe. And, really, when I touched the pipe, I really felt connected to him.

    And then I found much more than that. I found my family.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: I also visited Madison’s bedroom with Mary Alexander, a great-great-granddaughter of Paul Jennings. He served Madison at the White House and also at Montpelier. He wrote the first White House memoir, “A Colored Man’s Reminiscences of James Madison.”

    She told me what her reaction was when she saw this room or the first time.

    MARY ALEXANDER, Montpelier Descendent: I had just finished caretaking for my father, who died of Parkinson’s disease. And to think that Paul Jennings was doing the same exact things for James Madison that I had done for my father, it just overwhelmed me.

    I knew the intimacy and the love and the care that had to go on between the two of them, because you can’t take care of someone and not love them.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: I talked further with Mary Alexander and with Montpelier president and CEO Kat Imhoff inside the Madison mansion.

    Kat, first tell me how you arrived at the title for this exhibition.

    KAT IMHOFF, President, The Montpelier Foundation: The title The Mere Distinction of Colour comes from a quote that Madison writes in his notes when he’s working in 1787 on the Constitutional Convention.

    He says: “We have never seen the mere distinction of color in a most enlightened period of time a ground for the most oppressive dominion exercised by man over man.”

    Now, Madison is saying this as a young man. He’s in the debates about the rights and the freedoms that are going to be set forth in what becomes the U.S. Constitution.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: When he uttered those words, he didn’t have slavery in mind.

    KAT IMHOFF: He did. He was saying that mere distinction of color, what an incredible missed opportunity that we’re using that distinction of color to make one man oppress the other.

    And this is as a young, idealistic 35-, 36-year-old in the hot rooms in Philadelphia as they’re duking out writing the U.S. Constitution.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: But who had slavery.

    KAT IMHOFF: And he is a slave owner, and he’s grown up now third-generation slave owner here at Montpelier.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: So, what happened? He just didn’t make that distinction, or …

    KAT IMHOFF: What the debate ends up being is, can you get enough votes to get the U.S. Constitution ratified? If you said that you were not going to allow or enable in some way or codify slavery, without ever mentioning it, you were never going to get enough votes to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

    So, James Madison, in those early days, chooses the union over really what he knows in his heart is the right thing to do. But the other part that got me so intrigued was the descendant community was involved with Montpelier early on, but no one had really been able to pick up that thread and bring those 300 voices into the stories.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: The descendant community is sitting next to you. So what drew you here?

    MARY ALEXANDER: Well, actually, my mother, she never told the family history to anyone outside of our family.

    Paul Jennings was enslaved here with James Madison. He said that he shaved him every day for 42 years. My understanding is that he and James Madison had a relationship where they were almost like brothers with each other, the way that they interacted.

    I think if you put it in the context of slaves being assets and property, and that, when James Madison died, his estate being in such debt, and them having to sell off every asset they had, and, unfortunately, the human beings who were here were assets also, he didn’t get the chance to be distinguished outside of those people.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Kat, how do you see that?

    KAT IMHOFF: Well, they had trouble explaining their double standard even to themselves during their time period. And I think it’s quite intriguing to look at their own writing on this.

    But, I mean, I think that’s the challenge of American history. Not only can you be inspired, yes, James Madison, father of the Constitution, great thinking, defines rights, but I think we have always had this love-hate affair with really understanding how complex our history is.

    Not only can I be inspired by James Madison, but I can be inspired by people like Paul Jennings. I can now understand that African-American history is indeed American history.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: How do you think it’s working, Kat? I mean, who is coming here? And what are they taking away from it in terms of race?

    KAT IMHOFF: What I’m hearing from people when they’re visiting, they’re both saying, we’re so happy because now we really understand more the humanity of the people who lived here.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Black and white.

    KAT IMHOFF: Black and white.

    I think, really, people, when they hear those stories and they can put themselves, project themselves into those places, they really take more away from it, and also the relevance today. I think that’s what we have always been — it’s really easy to talk about things 200 years ago.

    And it’s a lot more difficult when you bring it all the way up today, and you go, no, the legacy of slavery is still with us. It’s part of our democratic DNA. It is hard-baked into how we are as a people.

    MARY ALEXANDER: There’s a morality question that all of us have to grapple with. This was a business to these people.

    Unfortunately, the business was other human beings. James Madison would have never been able to do, or any of the founding fathers would have never had the liberty to go into this whole discussion about government and humanity and how people should conduct themselves. They would have never been able to do that without these people who were in the background working for them.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: So, this will help set that record straight, you think?

    MARY ALEXANDER: I’m praying.

    KAT IMHOFF: You know, Mary has often commented on how she wants people to think and understand and have that strong intellectual connection. So, I love that fact that we’re both the heart and the head in thinking about how people should connect with Montpelier.

    MARY ALEXANDER: And I also recognize you can’t get the head without getting to the heart first.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Well, Kat Imhoff and Mary Alexander, thank you so much for your insights. Thank you very much.

    MARY ALEXANDER: Thank you.

    The post A presidential estate opens its doors to conversation on slavery appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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